Writer’s Group – December 2023

Optimism Check

Kris Szlauko

Is your glass half empty or half full?

Our lives are so busy, especially during the holidays that we rarely have time or the desire to do a sanity check on our state of mind or emotional state. We spend most of November and December on autopilot going through all of the chores that demand our wit, strength, and sanity.

Our minds are constantly reeling with obligations such as shopping for a special meal all the while considering other people’s needs and desires, trying to create the beautiful mealtime experiences that were part of all of our pasts.

And then, even before the turkey and that special pecan pie are digested, we start the continuous merry-go-round of gift shopping again constantly considering the wants and needs of other people in our lives.

All the while, we seem to be betting that if we can just make it until January, everything will be fine. We ignore the fact that all of these tensions push us into a constant state of mental pros and cons about our own decisions.

The one thing we can do that will give our sanity and health a greater chance to fly through the holidays is an Optimism Check.

I read this poem recently and it has helped me with my own Optimism Check.

Count the garden by the flowers that grow, never by the leaves that fall.

Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll.

I wish I could claim these words of wisdom, but the author is unknown.

When you think about it, in reality, the most important gift you can give your loved ones this holiday season is a happy, healthy, YOU.

Happy Holidays!

Buttons & Bows


Did you ever see a basket of buttons in Grandma’s attic? Of course you did.

And you may have wondered why, oh why, are there hundreds of buttons in this basket? The answer is pretty simple: In Grandma’s age, you recycled everything.

If a shirt was outgrown or torn and beyond use, it would have the buttons removed for future use in another project. The cloth itself might have been turned into a different garment, or if too far gone, it would become a dust rag. Nothing was thrown out in those days.

In my case, my own mother’s mother died when Mom was only about 10 years old so she had no firsthand knowledge of this little rule. But, being a child of the Great Depression, they learned how to reuse things because said things were simply not available in those days. Subsequently, I was brought up with the knowledge of cooking and cleaning and sewing on my own. And so, in addition to Mom’s basket of buttons, I have my own collection as well. When any shirt was outgrown in our home, I cut off the buttons and used the fabric for something useful. I now have a lot of buttons and small pieces of fabric for dust rages. But I cannot bring myself to throw the buttons out. You never know when a shirt button will break or fall off the shirt and you usually have a button that will match. There have been times that I have taken all the buttons off of a shirt when only one fell off because I didn’t have a matching button, but I still found six buttons in my cache that did all match and put them on the shirt. Problem solved!

Buttons can be used for their intended purpose and they can be sewn onto a garment for decorative purposes. If you have ever gone into a fabric store and looked at the buttons in current vogue, you will find that there are millions to choose from and that they range in price from a card with six buttons for $3 to a single very fancy button that might sell for upwards of $15 each.

Save buttons; save money and use all your creative ideas to do some very fancy recycling.