Category Archives: Barbara Barth, CEO of Life

Barbara Barth wrote a book after her husband died, essays on her first year as a widow. Not your typical widow book, but her journey on finding joy again with a little help from a vintage Corvette, bad dates leading to good things, a bunch of hooligan dogs, and the best group of girlfriends in town. “The Unfaithful Widow” placed as a finalist in the 2011 USA Best Book Awards.

Barbara is an essayist, promoter, antique dealer, and dog whisperer. Her stories on daily life can be found on many women’s sites. She was featured in an e-book, “Women Who Make A Difference” by Silver & Grace in Canada. She went on a virtual blog tour with WOW (Women On Writing) for a month and was featured on “The Friendship Doctor” blog on Psychology Today.

A life long antique dealer, Barbara sells vintage art, garden items, and cottage furniture in a small Southern town forty miles from her home in metro Atlanta. She recently closed her own shop to allow more time for the things she loves. The shop was a haven for writers and artists. Every weekend included a book signing, art opening, or writing class. The shop created the Gwinnett County Writers Guild, which still meets twice a month.

Her “children” are dogs. She adopted five from her local shelter in nine months. Barbara works to help raise money for animal rescue groups. Her ezine “Writer With Dogs: Where Dogs Meet Art” featured dog shelters in the US and Europe, along with a selection of art for dog lovers. She writes under the header “Writer With Dogs” and recently set up a company with the same name to help other authors with online promotion. She is a member of the Atlanta Writers Club and Dog Writers Association Of America. No matter how hard she tries, she is always covered in dog hair. Be advised; do not wear black if you visit her home!

She is a member of the Dog Writing Association of America and The National Association of Memoir Writers. Her publishing company, Gilbert Street Press will soon be open for business.
Follow Barbara on her websites and

The Curmudgeon Get Romantic

My teenage foreign exchange student got me thinking about romance again! Let me explain.

I have become a curmudgeon about dating. At sixty-four, my patience runs thin meeting new men who have more issues than I have dogs. I’d given up dating until I tried it again this past Saturday night. The evening started out well, but landed in the same pile marked “bad dates, let’s write about them” as my previous dating attempts. My posts on how silly dating is are famous with my friends. A free meal, and material to write about, things could be worse. But somehow, with the holidays here, I wanted to find a bit of romance myself. It just didn’t happen.

My student was out of town with another host family for Thanksgiving week. That left me plenty of time on my hands. A new man contacted me. I am on a dating site, not actively, but my profile is up…just in case. My just in case contacted me.

I’m working on a screenplay. I see you write. Want to get together and talk?

Did I ever. Alone all week, I was lonely.

We chose a little pub close to my house. Dinner at 7PM on Saturday sounded like fun.

Bring your book. I want to read it.

I’d bring it. He could peek at it, but I didn’t want him reading my thoughts, before I got to know him better. He left with my book. I won’t get to know him better

We talk from 7PM until the restaurant closed at midnight. He grabbed my book. I talked about the shop I used to own, the events I hosted at it, my six dogs, and my foreign exchange student. Someone was interested in what I had to say and I said whatever came to my mind. Laughing and drinking coffee we had a ball.

“I brought my guitar.” He smiled at me. “Care to sit in my car and I’ll sing the songs I’ve written.”

We sat with the lights on in his car in front of the restaurant. I nearly froze to death as I listened to him play his heart’s songs. He was cute.

At 1:30 AM he put down the guitar and asked a question.

“Do you want to talk about where we go from here, or wait until later?”

Expecting an invite for another date, I answered, “Now is fine.”

My evening went flat within the first thirty seconds.

“You are great. I’ve had fun. But your energy level is too high for me. I don’t see a future for us. I’d like to call you, say, in three months, as a friend, and catch up.”

How do you reply to that? I was kinder than usual, since he was new at dating. I have four years of dates behind me!

“My advice to you, if you want to date. Don’t ever say that again at the end of the evening.”

I had gone from having fun, to actually having my feelings hurt. He was not going to be my soul mate, I knew that from the beginning, but it was fun to have fun for a change with a member of the male species.

Then because he was nice, just naïve on what to do with dating, I rated the date for him.

“As dates go, this rates an A-. It would have been an A+, except for the final critique.”

I went home depressed. I didn’t care about another date with him, but his remarks made me doubt myself.

Sunday the curmudgeon in me resurfaced. I swore of dating. Yet again.

My student was back in town, and due home at 9 PM. She went to the movies with the girls. Dinner was with the male friend she sorta, kinda, liked and dated. As much as host mom (me) lets her date.

On my way home. I got her text message right before nine.

Within minutes a car pulled into my drive. She and her boyfriend came up to the door. She’d been gone all week, I’d forgotten how pretty she is. Her face was flushed. She was radiant. The boy, who I like a lot, carried in her bags from her trip with the other family. He said his goodbye at the door.

“Oh, mum, we need to talk!” She flopped down on the couch, clapping her hands.

I knew she and the boy were sweet on each other. She had told me they were not officially ‘a couple’ yet.

“Look what he made me!”

She pulled a frame from her backpack and handed it to me. It was a portrait of her, drawn by the boy, so perfect, at first I thought it was a photograph. There was a sweet saying about the future being open to them at the bottom.

“He asked me to be his girlfriend!” She was so excited it was infectious. I got excited.

A small panic followed. What does this mean exactly? I kept that to myself. I am not ready to be the kissing police. I don’t know what teens do. Remember to ask the other host mom for advice. I made a mental note.

“Nothing has changed. But it is official. We won’t do anything different than we do now. You know, hang out with our friends.”

A bit of relief on my part.

She was so lovely, so happy, my heart melted for her. It also melted for me. I felt the curmudgeon leave as memories of my late husband surfaced. It was wonderful to be in love. She is just learning about romance, I had a long history of it.

They say history repeats itself. My teen student made me realize love could appear at any moment and in any form. She is infatuated with a really nice boy. I am falling in love with her. Who knows, maybe I’ll still find a date for the holidays.

As a new, kinda, sorta, ‘mum’ at sixty-four, it is amazing what you can learn from teens!

Barbara Barth, CEO of Life

In Texting Hell….Hello? Living With A Teen At My Age!

      OMG. At my age I am texting a teenager with regularity! My fingers can’t hit the right letters on the pad of my Droid, so I’ve learned to use the speakers and dictate my messages. Unfortunately, Droid does not speak the same English I do. My text messages have said more weird things than I care to admit!

     How did I land in texting hell? Simple. I now live with a teenager. At age sixty-four, I am a host mother to a high school foreign exchange student from Italy. I’ve never had my own kids, and for that matter, my friends didn’t have kids either. I’ve been in a void about teens my entire life. Now I am taking a crash course.

     “Remember when you were in school?” A well-meaning mom with her own teen asked over a group dinner. I got to sit at the adult table. I was the oldest adult there.

     “Things have changed since I was a teen!”

      Boy howdy. I didn’t have much freedom. We didn’t have cell phones, or any of today’s technology that the kids are covered with now. I had to sneak phone calls to boys when my parents were watching TV. In fact, I don’t remember much of my teen years, except by today’s definitions, I was probably a nerd.

I was raised when you wrote letters to relatives, sent postcards on vacation, and, if lucky, got to use the home phone.

      No, my letters were not sent Pony Express! They went through the US mail. I am not that old.

      My point is a simple one. I now live with a teenager, age seventeen, and my life is in constant upheaval.

      I love it. She is a joy. I am discovering what I missed by not having children. I have the best of both worlds. Her parents raised her to be smart, independent, and thoughtful. I reap those benefits for the year she is here. I count my blessings every day I volunteered to be a host parent for the foreign exchange program she signed up for.

     Texting? I’m learning. It is the way kids keep in touch. I’ve laughed over scenes in movies, especially one of my favorite movies with Meryl Streep, “It’s Complicated”. Her young daughter is moving away from home, as family members try to say goodbye to her, she is texting in the car to her friends. John Krasinski, who plays Meryl’s soon to be son-in-law, motions with his hands, like he is texting and says, “None of this, it’s not safe.” Or words similar.

     Adorable scene. True to life.

     My student texts in the car when I drive. She is not allowed to drive in the states per the program she is on. And I say amen to that rule. She texts at breakfast. She texts all her friends all the time. Then she texts me, while I am driving, and my panic in not being able to text her back, while I am in traffoc, is only surpassed by my rising blood pressure that she keeps texting me wondering why I haven’t replied.

     Mum, where are you? She texted me three times on my way to pick her up at school. She wanted to leave with friends and needed my permission. Driving down the road, construction all around me as they were digging up the streets with huge machines, I finally had to pull in to the shopping center.

    “I was driving and couldn’t text.” Exasperated I hit the speaker and yelled my words into the phone.

My Droid came back with something that did not make sense.

      After deleting that message, I tried again. This time calmer.

      Have fun. Be home by six.

      Delivered and responded to with a Thanks Mum.

      I grew up when you used the phone to call. So simple to say what you needed to say, and if there was a question, it was resolved during the call. Texting goes on and on trying to make the same point.

But it is the way of the world with teens today. I am on board. My student answered my last text message with ?????. She had no clue what I had texted. I went in to look at my text and Droid had misunderstood me again.

     My dog Bertha is still learning manners. I crate her when someone comes in the house. I spoke into my Droid the simple phrase, I’m putting Bertha in her crate. My student was on her way home. My text went out with some catchy phrase about birthdays.

     Who knew Droid was dumber than I am?

     I had to text someone myself at breakfast. I put Droid in front of my face, clicked the speaker icon on the text page, and spoke into the phone.

     “You talk into the phone?” My teen was impressed and surprised. Her fingers fly a across her phone, texting none stop. “Now I understand why you sound so funny. Ahahahaha!”

     Yes, laugh all you want. I may be in texting hell, but I am in teen heaven!

     It is never to late to be the mom you thought you could be, if only for a short while!

Barbara Barth, CEO of Life

Join A Party! 2012 Chick Lit Author Blog Hop Begins Today

Did you know that May is International Chick Lit Month? I have to confess, I didn’t. But as soon as I found out, I had to be a part of the celebration!

Chick Lit, Chick Lit, Chick Lit. I said it fast the other day, excited to be part of a newly formed author blog hop honoring Chick Lit that begins on May 14th. I should have enunciated clearer.

“Are you talking about that gum, chicklets?”

I rolled my eyes thinking of the candy-coated gum. When will I learn to slow down when I speak?

“No, I am talking about writing, books, you know, Chick Lit.” I formed the two words carefully.

We’ve all heard the term Chick Lit but do we really know what the genre covers? Some people give it a bad rap.

“Romantic fluff. I never read it.” A friend of mine had her nose up in the air.

“Well you read my memoir, my widow story, and loved it. That’s Chick Lit too, you know.”


Yes, really.

Let’s talk briefly about this misunderstood genre.

Chick Lit books are mainly written by women for women. The characters range from early twenties to past middle age. The stories, whether fiction or non-fiction memoir, have a light, personal, and humorous tone to them. They revolve around issues real women have in their daily lives: romance, dating, jobs, friendships, jealousy, weight, family. Chick Lit can be frothy, it can be deadly serious in topic.

Is there a difference between regular women’s fiction and Chick Lit? The answer is a big “yes”. Chick Lit books are written in a personal, confiding tone. It is like having a good friend talk about her life over a cup of tea. Humor plays an important role in the delivery of the plot. At the end of the book, the reader feels she has been on a journey with someone she has gotten to know. They have laughed and cried together.

Tracie Banister, author of “Blame It On The Fame”, decided it was time to give this underappreciated genre a bit of promotion. She pulled thirty-four authors together to celebrate a week of Chick Lit writing complete with a grand prize and e-book giveaways on each of the author blogs. I am excited to be included in this great event!

Start on Tracie’s blog . You can link to the other authors on this hop from her blog. Each blog has a secret word in italics, collect all thirty-four and you are entered in a drawing for a $150 Sephora gift certificate. Leave a comment on every blog and you might win an e-book. Directions are clear on how to proceed once you hit the first blog.

You might be surprised to find some of your favorite books and movies fall under the heading Chick Lit.

Happy reading and happy blog hopping!

Barbara Barth

CEO of Life

My Lack Of Fashion Statement

Saturday I decided to buy a new pair of shoes. While this is a daily, and much anticipated, event for most women, for me it escalated into a full panic attack. I became so depressed I called a few friends.

“I need a shrink. Do you have one?”

My pen and paper was ready to jot down a number.

“Get real! I don’t have a shrink.”

Three calls later I had the same reply from my friends. No one was in therapy. I was on my own.

I need new shoes, and a business casual outfit, to meet an agent for the book idea I am pitching this weekend.

“Be relaxed, but professional in your attire.” The e-mail with directions for the conference was clear that I could not wear my jeans and Mary Janes.

Casual has been my fashion statement for four years. I tossed all my working clothes when I retired. As an antique dealer I didn’t need to up my game, I needed to spend money on my inventory.  My idea of a social outing included jeans and a frozen Margarita. I rarely date, and my wardrobe reflected such. I was hung out to dry, unless I jumped in quickly to wet my feet with style.

The pressure overwhelmed me.

I’d gained twenty pounds in the year I had my shop.

Nothing looked good on me, not even my basic jeans and T’s.

My canvas Mary Jane’s were raveling. If I got close, I could smell feet.

I entered Marshals filled with hope. A bargain and a new pair of shoes. What could be better?

I bypassed the shoe area twice.

I thought it was the costume department.

All the shoes looked like alien beings would wear them. Spiked heels, straps up to heaven knows where, platforms taller than the small stool I stand on the change a light bulb.

When had shoes changed so much?

I don’t live in the dark ages. I watch Entertainment Tonight, Dancing With The Stars, and read ‘More’ magazine (yes, for women over forty). I thought these fashions, these shoes that seemed fantasy, not reality, were worn only by celebrities. Now I know everyone is buying them. They are a fashion statement.

My statement is dead.

To my total emotional demise, I also realized I wear mom jeans.

Not only am I dated, this explains why I can’t get a date.

I have to revamp myself in less than a week.

Witty and smart did well for me when I was younger and hot. But now that I am lukewarm, I need to up my fashion game.

I did what any fashion-deprived gal, who needed an outfit quickly, but got ill at the mall, would do. I hit Ebay. I found my Mary Janes. Black leather. Gently used. But guaranteed to look like new.

I found a new black T-shirt and a topper.

I do own a short aqua and black skirt that I wore once on the last date I had.

It has an elastic waist. I am safe.

My Pay Pal payment included expedited shipping fees.

“Bring it on!”

I am ready for Saturday.  My purchases are scheduled to arrive tomorrow. My pitch should be flawless.


There is just one final problem with my outfit.

Five dogs.

Dear God, please let me out the front door without getting covered in fur.

But then, that’s the title of my new book, “Covered In Fur: My Life With Dogs”.

Perhaps a bit of hair of the dog will be just the fashion statement I need to close this deal.

Barbara Barth

CEO of Life

Executive Blogger

Not Your Mother’s Vintage Clothes

Want to be hip this spring with a one-of-a-kind style you call your own? Then it is time to shop ‘vintage’ to make your statement. Buying vintage, or gently used clothing, is the rage from young gals to celebrities who know how to shop!

Mention vintage clothing, and most people think of classic vintage fashions from the 1920’s through the 1970’s, with a heavy emphasis on the 1940’s. Today’s vintage is modern. The hottest clothes now for all ages fall under the descriptive words boho, cowgirl, and gypsy. Think lace with cowboy boots! Even brides are wearing real western boots under their gowns. Not new boots, but gently used, slightly worn ones, that have character and are comfortable.

I don’t shop for age as much as I look for style when I hunt for my vintage treasures. Padded shoulders tell me a piece is vintage, but do I seriously want padded shoulders to be my fashion look? I want to be hip in vintage, not dated in vintage. For me there is a huge difference between the two. If I love a piece with pads in the shoulders, a quick snip with my scissors takes care of that problem. I have the look I want, without feeling dated.

Tags are a great clue to the age of a piece. Union tags attached to the inside seam is proof that piece was produced by a clothing union prior to the 1980’s. Square in size, about ½ inch by ½ inch, the name of the union will be stated and “Made in U.S.A.” A union tag assures you your piece is at least twenty years old. Today’s modern vintage dates clothing from the 1970’s through the 1990’s, however the later dates may also sport “Made In China” tags.

Another clue to the age of a piece of clothing is the label design. In the 1980’s tags were usually “bigger” and brought more colorful designs compared to earlier years, like the 1950’s and 1960’s, when labels were simple in design. With the brand name you can do a trademark search and see when the trademark was first filed.

In 1971 the Federal Trade Commission issued care symbols. A piece of clothing was not required to label its fabric content until after 1960, when the USA Textile Products Identification Act was introduced. If your garment does not reflect this information, chances are it was made prior to 1960. Remember, however, there are always exceptions to any rule.

Dating your vintage find can be fun, but it is not necessary if you are just simply trying to develop your own style. If you are spending big dollars for a piece of clothing, you need to know what you are getting. I shop thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets, and garage sales to find my vintage treasures. The cost per item is low, so if I feel I have a bargain, I grab it. A “Made in U.S.A” tag makes my day! But if the style is cool and I can pair it with an older piece for a statement, you will find I buy “Made in China” items too. I love cotton sundress with gently used denim jackets as toppers for cooler summer evenings. A boho styled skirt with a newer, vintage look, lace blouse is another trend I love. One piece may be from the late 1980’s and the other new but gently used. The look I’ve created is what is important to me. The cost was minimal, the style priceless!

I am always a sucker for vintage Scott McClintock prom and evening dresses as well as anything made in white cream lace, or net lace, to pop over jeans or leggings.

I do check out my purchases carefully before I hand over my money. I don’t care how great a piece looks, or how little it costs, if there are stains, holes, and odors, I do not buy. There are so many wonderful items of clothing available in more modern vintage I can find something else I love as much. I insist my vintage clothing is in excellent, wearable condition.

Recently I opened a small clothing boutique in Monroe, Georgia, at Hodge Podge Art, Antiques and Interiors. I call it ‘Gypsy Lace Vintage’. The name speaks volumes as to the look you will find there. In additional to clothing there are shelves of cowboy boots, old Mexican tooled handbags, western belts, and leather shoes made in Brazil, Italy, and Spain. I love the feel of gently used leather too.

I recently visited a metro Atlanta hot spot to see what new clothing looks like. I am so out of touch. I was excited to find that the vintage boho look I sell, was the look new clothing manufactures are producing in China, and with prices starting at $200. The clothing at my shop has “Made in U.S.A.” tags for the most part and items are between $25 and $65.

Vintage clothing can be fun, it doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can define your own style without breaking the bank. It just takes a little initiative to know where to shop and to shop often to find the real treasures.

Barbara Barth, C.E.O. of Life

My Life In Blogs

I didn’t keep a diary as a teen girl. I spent my time reading and dreaming of boys. When I finally got to the point in my life where I was kissing, I didn’t want to kiss and tell. I never wanted to have my secrets written down where someone might find them and my escapades would fall into the wrong hands. My parents. Don’t ask how many years ago that was!

Today everyone’s personal life can be found online. Who needs a diary, when you have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and all the many social media outlets available for personal posts, videos, and photographs?  But for a young girl in high school in the sixties, I was naïve, and the slightest kiss was kept secret. I did not dare put my thoughts on paper.

Now in my sixties, I am writing about my life. My essays are personal. I wrote a book on that first year after my husband died, doing all those things I never thought I’d do again. Dating for one. While I wouldn’t put a kiss in a diary as a teen, I have written about having sex as a widow. My secrets shared with the world, and the only comment I received, from a friend older than me, “I was shocked to read you only own one bra!” It seems that sex did not seem as unusual as the number of my under garments.

We’ve come a long way baby.

I don’t keep journals either. I hate to write in longhand.

It seems I like to live my life in blogs.

For those who are not sure what blogs are, here is a quick explanation. Blog (short for weblog) is basically a journal available on the web. Blogs are usually written by one person and updated frequently. The subject matter is as broad as the universe to include every topic from photography, decorating, hobbies, to personal diaries. There are many formats (templates) to use to design your blog. My preference at the moment is “Blogger”. I don’t have to think too hard on how to move around the site. You can dress up your blog with backgrounds, photos, illustrations, slideshows, and music. From your blog you can link to other blogs that interest you. The possibilities are endless for your creativity. If you want to share your posts, it is simple to drop them on social media sites.

“How many blogs do you have now?” My friends are curious about my numbers. They know I spend hours on the computer. I have my dog blog, my widow blog, my shop blog, and then, when a new idea pops into my brain, I start a new blog. I have blogs I keep private and those I use for shameless self-promotion of my work. I am also blogging for others, helping authors who don’t have time, or interest, to do a blog of their own.

“I’ve lost count.” That’s the only answer they’ll get from me.

I guard this secret as closely as when my husband asked, early in our relationship, “How many men have you slept with?”

Too many to mention.

I am more possessive about my blogs than I am about men. It took me twenty years to marry my husband. We lived together, but I didn’t feel the need to tie him down on paper. Yet, every time I think of a cute blog name, I buy the web domain. Do you like my title here ‘My Life In Blogs’? Me too. I just bought the Should I also buy the

April, the fifth rescue dog to enter my house, was painfully distant. Her damp nose bumped my elbow one night while I was on the computer. That bump took out a task bar but let me know she wanted attention.

“I’ll call you Miss April In Paris,” I whispered as I leaned over to kiss her head. I started her blog, a rescue dog turned diva dreaming of Paris. She liked wearing a hat and posing for the camera. Shy, demure, she finally started mixing with the pack. Giving her a blog gave her confidence, not because she was ‘online’ (how would she know?), but because she knew she got more of my time than the others for a brief period.

As it turned out, Miss April’s blog helped me with my book promotion. During my virtual book tour with Women On Writing (WOW) one of the sites I landed on was “Tilly The Dog” in England. That post had to be written from a dog’s viewpoint. Miss April in Paris was Tilly’s guest, and although April has not made it to France, for a shining moment she was a star in England. This experience only fed my need for more blogs.

Writing on blogs is spontaneous for me. Finding the artwork relaxes me. When I need to relive a moment in time, I’ve posted it somewhere, and can retrieve it. I don’t have to dig through piles of paperwork scattered about the room, wonder where I’ve put my notes, and in my case, never remembering. I just go to the computer and link to my blog. I don’t worry about a computer crash, as my work is online for me to find from any computer I’m working from.

We live on in our writing. Whether we write for ourselves, or to make a difference for others, the written word completes a life by saving it for all time. The emotions are as fresh as though it had just occurred. Things we’d long forgot are there to remind us of what was and give us fuel for what will come.

Blogs connect us to others. They are a soft touch promotional tool or a way to share personal experiences, interests, and talents with like-minded souls.

So, I continue to drop my thoughts in blog posts. Some you will read, like this one here. Others will surface when I call them up to work for me. There are a few that will be mine alone. Some secrets are more fun to keep, to keep others guessing.

“When you die and someone goes through your things, will they be surprised with what they find?” This was actually a generic question on a dating site. I laughed. My life is an open book and I write about most everything I do. So my answer to that question was “No!” Then I thought about it. No one will be surprised about what they find in my house, or desk drawer, but if they get my passwords, who knows what they will find online in my private blogs!

That might stir some things up! I only hope someone will turn it into a best selling memoir! If I live long enough, I will.

Color Me Happy

It has been raining cats and dogs for a week in Atlanta. To say the weather mildly depressed me, is an understatement. My normal colorful aura now matched the bleakness outdoors. I also had a cold, which made things worse!  In fact, I will share a mental visual with you on how bad things were!

Picture this: It is late last Monday evening, raining, and my cold has finally hit me full force. I am coughing so hard I can’t stop. Two dogs have their heads on my chest, bouncing in rhythm with my spasms. I gently push them to the side and get off the couch hoping to find something in the bathroom medicine cabinet to soothe me. The image staring back at me in the mirror is scary. My hair, normally bouncy, was flat and in odd spikes towards the crown. Grey was the color of my roots and my mood.  Sad, tearing eyes were accented with dark circles. To my dismay, but not unexpected, there was nothing in the medicine cabinet to take for my cough.

Lately, I am unprepared for anything at home. The only staple in my house is dog food.

I had no energy to run out to the drug store. I could not stop coughing. I had a sharp pain in my head from hacking so hard.

Surely I had something I could take!

Next stop was the kitchen. My hopes were high as I flung open the pantry. No honey. No syrup. No tea. Nothing, except an outdated box of microwave popcorn.

Frantically, I pulled open the bottom cabinet. Tucked in the back was a bottle of bourbon, leftover from my cousin’s visit last spring. There was a half-inch of booze in the bottle. I grabbed it, twisted off the cap, and took a quick swig. My throat calmed immediately. I felt a warm fuzzy go through my body. I relaxed.

The dogs and I curled up in bed. I caught another image in the mirrored closet door that horrified me. I had become the old dog lady of my nightmares. My flat hair outlined in grey was the least of my chagrin.  My usual lovely looking bed was unsightly. The vintage quilts I love to snuggle in were lumped up on the bed. A dog head peeked out from under the pile. Dressed in my pink knit sweater and turquoise polka-dot PJ bottoms, I looked rumpled and frumpy. The only good news, the colors blended nicely with the quilts. Five dogs were sprawled in all positions around me on the bed. The almost empty bottle of bourbon, tightly tucked under my arm, was ready in case of a coughing attack. The last thing I remember, my hound dog licking my bare feet as I fell asleep.

“I looked like a derelict!” I told my best friend when I called her the next morning.

“You need to re-stage that and get a photo. Perfect for your next book cover!” She always inspires me.

My cold is over. But the rain lingered for longer than my sanity could handle. I was in a funk, depressed all week. I was late opening my shop. I let the dust bunnies roll across my hardwood floors. I went to dinner with a friend wearing the white T-shirt I had slept in for three nights, covered by a sweater vest. I did spray my favorite perfume around my shoulders before I ran out into the rain to meet her. When I don’t wear perfume, put me in the ground.

This morning the sun has come back to visit. It is bright outside my window. The leaves are sparkling, as if covered in diamonds. I am euphoric. My energy level is high.

This week taught me two things.

Keep cough syrup at home.

The merits of sun are not over rated.

Research has shown that sun is a key factor in our moods, energy levels, and outlook on life. Extended periods of cloudy weather can make people irritable, stressed, and depressed. (Me this week!) This is also a problem for people who work inside and miss getting out in the sun.  The medical community has a name for those who suffer from depression due to lack of sun, SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The sun, a natural source of Vitamin D, protects against a host of diseases. Even though there are many benefits from being in the sun for brief periods of time, many experts worry the health warnings about skin cancer may keep people from getting a proper amount of sunshine. Vitamins are recommended to fill in for lack of sun.

I am not a health expert. You need to do your own research.

I do know that between writing and working in my shop, I am rarely outside. My last blood test was excellent, except my vitamin D levels were way too low.

“You need to take a vitamin D supplement,” my tiny doctor, with her thick German accent, waved her scrawny finger in my face. “Your body is not functioning well without it.”

“I just started taking vitamin D!” I was so excited I could say something positive about my health. I had received a sample of Easy-2-Swallow vitamins a few weeks prior to my visit and wrote about them in a post here on The Balancing Act. My smile was eager, waiting for her praise.

“Well, lose some weight before your next check-up.” She closed my chart and left.

You can’t please everyone all the time

However, I am pleased as punch today! One morning of sunshine has chased away a week of lethargy and depression. I am my old self. My mood has a lightness about it that makes me hum.

Oh, that bottle of bourbon, it still has a tiny sip left. I’ve placed it back where I found it. You know, in case another health crisis! Chances are I’ll forget to buy that cough syrup. I am over my cold now.

The sun is enticing me to get outside. I am not over wanting to bask in its glory. In just a minute I’ll be heading out to my deck with five dogs yapping at my heels. I am working on my healthy dose of sunshine today. The vitamins are a daily given. After all, they are Easy-2-Swallow!

Color me happy! I am no longer blue.

Watch The Balancing Act’s segment on Easy-2-Swallow vitamins here:

I Have Been Talking Too Much!

Sadly, or perhaps with a bit of embarrassment, I have to admit, I have been talking too much the past few weeks. I prattle, ramble, and talk to hear my own voice. This was brought up to me on several occasions last week! Once to my face, by a friend being kind, and we laughed about it. She thought she was helpful. I laughed to disguise my total disgust with myself that she was absolutely right. Then later, after three phone calls that were going nicely, however lengthy, ended quickly with a ‘gotta run’ (or some such other phrase that indicated I was taking up more time than I should) followed by a fast disconnect. Who can blame them? I was exhausted myself from talking, but couldn’t stop my mouth from moving and spewing out word after word.

What is wrong with me? I have always been a talker, storyteller, as I call myself. I knew when to stop. I was great at making my friends laugh. Now I am burdening them with my business ideas. A little of that is fine, but even best friends get bored when I keep rehashing my thoughts.

Lately I have become a bit paranoid about this too. I make calls and no one answers. Are my friends avoiding me? Never mind there are times I don’t answer the phone because I am in the middle of something, or too tired. I am taking this personally, when I shouldn’t. But I know I’ve been a bit overbearing, so I am feeling guilty.

I have been stressed out more than usual the past weeks. I moved my shop from one location to another in the fall, but I still had one building to empty by the end of December. I procrastinated, because I was exhausted. I worried about decisions at the new shop, what goes, what stays and could not think clearly on my own. It was all I talked about to everyone. The more I talked about it, the less I could stop. When I get hyper it is hard to slow me down. 

 I worried some people with my comments. “Oh, it’s just me thinking out loud!” I told the gal who thought I expected her to work for free after I said “I can’t pay you if we don’t have sales.” I was just trying to figure if I could keep her on in the future, not that she wouldn’t be paid for what she had already worked. That was not really thinking out loud, but talking without thinking on my part.

When my husband was alive I had someone at home to run things by. I don’t know if he ever really listened, and I am not sure I paid any attention to his advice if he gave it. I do know there was another voice in the house at night other than my own. I am still adjusting to listening to the silence at night. That makes me talk too much when I am around people during the day.  I have that need to be heard.

This weekend a gal in my shop stayed to chat for longer than most. She was divorced, worked long hours, wrote at night and lived by herself. “Some days no one ever calls. It is too quiet at night.”

We hugged and laughed. “Me too!” I knew how she felt.

I have been on my own for over three years, soon to be four, and my life style is now firmly implanted. I work hard at the shop. I come home to five hooligan dogs. I write late into the evening. I call my mother every night so I have my family close. When I crash and watch TV, I am sprawled out on the couch with four of the five dogs tucked under my legs, over my chest, and nestled in my neck. The fifth sleeps close by on the floor. I have my cell within arms reach in case I need a talking fix.

Years ago I read somewhere, that if you visit someone who lives alone, let them talk, and you listen. It might be the only time they hear their own voice. I thought about elderly people back then, now I know differently.

  I think I have myself back under control. I talked so much I am tired and happy. I’ve worked out what needed to be resolved this week.  I haven’t chased off any friends. I still have my cell phone handy to make a call. While all is right in my world, there are many people living alone who would appreciate a call and the warmth of a human voice in the night. Tonight I think it’s my turn to listen!

Barbara Barth, CEO of Life

New Year’s Resolutions, Vitamins, And A Plan

Be honest. How many New Year’s Resolutions have you kept? If you answer “all” or “most”, well, you make me sick. Just kidding! I am embarrassed to say I have never followed through on one. The most common resolutions for me are ‘change of diet’ and ‘loose weight’. Make note, tonight, January lst, I ordered pizza for dinner. How am I doing now?

New Year’s Resolutions are commitments we make to ourselves, for change in the coming year, during the most hectic holiday season at the end of the current year. I am usually hanging on by a thread from Thanksgiving to New Years, and all I want is for life to get back to normal. I also want my favorite TV shows to start new episodes, and all the Christmas specials to disappear forever. The phrase “New Year’s Resolutions” makes me feel I have to accomplish my goals in January, just as I am winding down, and have no desire to gear up for change. My list is put on the back burner and forgotten.

This year is going to be different. It is all in how you view it. I am looking at each word separately.

New. Year. Resolution.

New: “Different from the former or the old”, “Fresh and unused”, “Just found, discovered, or learned”.

Year. “The period of time during which Earth completes a single revolution around the sun, consisting of 365 days. In the Gregorian, or Western, calendar the year begins on January 1 and ends on December 31, called a calendar year.”

Resolution: “A resolving to do something. A course of action determined or decided on.”

Breaking up the words relaxes me. My pace is slowed, but I am moving forward.

I have 365 days to do something differently. I have a full year to learn and discover things. I have time to refresh. By giving each word its power, I have taken the pressure off the phrase.

New. Year. Resolution. #1-Health. I need to be stronger and take better care of myself. This past year has been abusive to my body. Lack of sleep, poor diet and no exercise has been my daily ritual. Establishing my shop, marketing my book, and writing late into the night has been my passion over reason.

Thanks to ‘The Balancing Act’ I have a jump-start on this resolution. During the holidays I received free samples of ‘Easy To Swallow’ (Easy 2 Swallow) vitamins the company supplied to them. I have wanted to supplement my diet and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to give it a try. I also hate to swallow pills. This would be a good test.

The three vitamins I am taking are: ‘Women’s Multi Complex With Iron’, ‘Calcium 250mg, with Vitamin D3’, and ‘EPA/DHA Fish Oil’. The pills are smaller and specially coated for easier swallowing. The Fish Oil is a small gel capsule. I am especially excited about the Fish Oil. EPA/DHA Omega-3 Fish Oil is proven to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure while also supporting brain function, improving skin and strengthening hair. I’ve tried Fish Oil tablets before and they were hard to swallow and left a fish after taste. I am happy to report that these Fish Oil capsules slide down easily and I have not had issues with fishy taste or burps! When my samples are gone, I am buying more from their website. This is one New. Year. Resolution. I can easily keep. Check out their website at

The first day of the New Year was a lazy one. I never left the house. I slept most of the afternoon with five dogs by my side. I read recently that spending time with dogs, watching the sky, is not a waste of time. For me it is the best of times. I am happy to report I am also reading again, as I learn to pace myself.- New. Year. Resolution. #2.

In my jammies today I started on New. Year. Resolution. #3 – Writing. Online I renewed my membership in a writer’s club and registered for a book pitch with an agent this Spring.

I also signed up today, via Facebook, to join a local marketing group at their first 2012 meeting. New. Year. Resolution. #4 – Get my shop making money!

I have many more things to accomplish this year. But this is a start. Today I am relaxing with pizza. Yes, diet and exercise are part of New.Year. Resolution. #1, but it is still the holiday, and the plan was to break up the pressure of doing it all at once!

Resolutions for the New Year are fun to make, whether you keep them or not. The New Year is just like any other day, a chance to do good, be happy, take care of others and yourself. I think resolutions are just a way of helping us pull our thoughts together after a holiday season that has had us all over the charts! It is for me. Today I feel focused and relaxed. That is a feeling I’d like to take into 2012, perhaps as – New.Year.Resolution. #5

For now, I have one last bite of pizza to finish.

This Christmas


My big decision this year is how late to stay open at my shop on Christmas Eve. I have no one to spend Christmas Eve with, so spending it at the shop is a great option. If I pushed, I could make plans. But this year I feel like winging it. This is my fourth Christmas as a widow and each year brings something different. Each Christmas leaves an impression unlike the year before.

My husband died in May. In December there were so many old memories, but I was grabbing at life as quickly as I could, and Christmas brought magic, not tears. No I didn’t go see family. For twenty-five years we trecked to North Carolina for Christmas with his mother, back to the house for a day, then a trip down to see my mother in Florida, for New Year’s Eve. Two dogs went with us. Packing them in the van was the hardest. Bigger dogs needed room. I’d make a platform in front of the seats with luggage covered in traveling quilts. Both dogs could stretch out looking ahead, fresh air hitting them from the front, keeping the dog puke factor down. Going over a huge mountain top meant one of the two would most likely get car sick. They loved the holidays and travel. I loved having them with us. My husband hated dog puke in the van.

The first Christmas on my own, I still had my two dogs. We stayed home. Mother and mother-in-law had their own plans. I refused to travel. I had lunch with my bff on Christmas day. She is a trained chef – now that was a Christmas dinner to remember. At seven I had a date. I tried dating too soon after my husband died. I wrote about it in my book. But I needed to be out in life to accept my new life alone. I met my date at the only local pub open on Christmas night. We drank coffee and talked about everything. His remark to me, which sums up how well I dated then, “Oh Barbara, Barbara, what are we going to do with you?” Somehow my husband got me, but no other male has since. But all and all, it was a lovely Christmas. We jumped in his huge black truck and went on a tour of lights in the surrounding neighborhoods. The evening ended with us eating pancakes at The Waffle House at 10 PM. He dropped me back at my car and I swear I heard him yell, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night”, as he waved goodbye and disappeared into the night. We did not go out again, but he was my own Santa sharing Christmas memories to brighten my night.

My second Christmas, it was time for family. I flew my mother up from Florida and we hugged and laughed around the Christmas tree. By now the dogs had changed, as one had left me for dog heaven, but I had adopted three rescue dogs. So we had four dogs to make it a rollicking holiday. Friends came to visit, Each had a dog for their lap. They all loved my mother. Late at night she and I relaxed in our jammies and watched romantic Christmas movies. A Christmas full of love with my mother by my side.

Last Christmas I have trouble remembering. I had just signed a lease to open a shop the day after I launched my one and only copy of an online dog magazine. My dog number had grown to six. I didn’t travel. I didn’t date. I did see my bff. But I spent a quiet holiday, content with my dogs, sitting by the Christmas tree, making plans to open my storefront in January. My not being able to remember the details tells me two things, it was quiet and I accepted being on my own at the holidays. It was unremarkable in one way, and very remarkable in another. I was comfortable in my own skin being in my home with my dogs on Christmas.

This Christmas, I am the laziest of all. My shop is brimming with decorations. My house is a bit lackluster for the holidays.
I am in the Christmas spirit. You can’t have a shop full of twinkling lights and customers coming in wishing you “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” without catching the merriment. I have a tree decorated for the “Festival of Trees” for charity. I slip little trinkets to folks who come in the shop with their children. “Take a small ornament from the tree. It’s free!” I like to watch the kids trying to decide which they like best. So Christmas at my shop is in full swing.

At home, I have a small silver tinsel tree with tiny white lights that sparkle in the dark. A few of my favorite artist crafted angels sit on my mantel. There are no other decorations, there are no presents under the little tree. I watch my Christmas movies snuggled with five dogs (I lost my old girl this year). There is no big hoopla. No road trips. I have a shop to manage and this is the busiest of times for it.

My shop has brought an unexpected gift this year. New friends. I still don’t have a customer base to bring in cash sales, but I am rich in friendships now. That is something money can’t buy. Perhaps that is what I love best about my shop and why I work hard to keep it. The people I meet fill me with comfort and joy. I am having Christmas dinner with a new single girlfriend this week. (Single friends are hard to come by when you have spent most of your adult life as a couple). Another friend has invited me to Christmas brunch with her family. I will see my bff later on Christmas day.

So much money has gone into my shop this year, I am not worrying about spending it on presents. I have freed myself from the need to spend money on gifts that no one really wants. We’ve all talked about that, and are good with it. What I am giving this year is love. I think that is a gift that is needed daily, not just for the holiday season. I will call my family and friends and tell them, “I love you!” We’ll talk about memories past and look towards the future.

My shop will be open Christmas Eve as late as it needs to be. I don’t expect a last minute customer to run in to buy a gift, but it is possible someone will be visiting the square, alone, trying to fill time on a holiday that is full of families. I’ve been there myself. A new friend at Christmas is the best gift of all. When I lock the door and head home, five dogs will be anxious to see me. I will feed them and start calling my loved ones! I’ll start with my mother. “I love you!” Then my cell will be busy all night.

Barbara Barth, CEO of Life