success

LIVE WELL, Look Good, Travel Light

April 19, 2018
Ella at Roman ruins, Bordeaux

We all want to live well, though each of us—at different periods in our lives—defines living well differently. My friends and I resist the idea that we might be old—“I don’t feel old!”—but as a long-ago newspaper reporter, I know too well if I get hit by a car when I am crossing the street, the headline will read, “Elderly woman hit by car.” Many …

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Oh, Jane, Where Were You When I Needed You?

April 12, 2018
book cover

A couple of months ago, I met my very successful young author-cousin for lunch. Susan came into the bistro, sat down, propped her chin on her clasped hands and asked, “Do you realize how extraordinary it is to have your first book published when you are 77?” “Yes.” But I didn’t know that in advance. I decided to write the book I needed but could …

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From Smiling Spouse to CEO

July 13, 2017

On April 9, 2009, I was transformed in an instant from smiling spouse and gracious hostess to executor, trustee, CEO and client. I am not sure that anyone had confidence in me. I certainly had none in myself. Through the years, Lev repeatedly told me that I did not need to know his business because “they will be here for you.” They were not. He …

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Searching for Your Happy Place?

October 4, 2016
My Happy Place

Home Alone on Nantucket Are you looking for your happy place? a place where you can escape the memories of your former life as half a couple and build a new life alone? I stumbled upon Nantucket four years after my husband’s death, not even knowing what I was looking for. I did not throw a dart at a U.S. map to pick my destination …

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Whatever Happened to Widow’s Weeds?

February 25, 2016
widow's weeds

A portrait of my great-great-grandmother Aurelia Smith Davis Ripley Smith Woodward hangs in the Cabildo at Jackson Square, New Orleans, part of the Louisiana State Museum collection. Neither Aurelia nor the artist was famous. The primitive painting hangs to illustrate a widow in lavender half-mourning attire in the mid-nineteenth century. Aurelia’s third husband and my great-great-grandfather, the father of her two children, was murdered in …

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