Beware of Martha Stewart







‘Tis the season!” Whether we like it or not, the holidays have begun. Let’s not leave out Halloween. That one is not as simple as it looks.


Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE LOVE LOVE holidays. I’m Irish and I look for any reason to celebrate. But when I follow the Hallmark breadcrumb trail, they can lead  me right to the Hansel and Gretel cottage.


When I was a child, let’s just say my family had “issues”. To be fair, they were pretty big issues and led me to create a fantasy family where things were safe, predictable, and could now be on the Hallmark Channel. Early on I vowed that when I grew up and had a family, our holidays were going to be like they “should be”.


Halloween meant the perfect costumes, orange and black foods, baked cupcakes for all the kids in their classes, house decorations…the works! Thanksgiving was defined by a perky, perfectly cooked bird that entered the oven at 4 a.m. whether I was nursing my second child or not. The table so full it could have fed the masses, and of course, a full breakfast of homemade (not Bisquick) pancakes with blueberries, long out of season and running 15.00 a pint. There’s nothing too good for my kids! And Christmas…well, you get the picture. Be sure to include a handmade gingerbread house that cost me about 50.00 and this was in the 70’s! It had to be perfect and everybody had to be on the same page as me or it was all destroyed. That fantasy was my reality. I had no idea until much later in my life that my family could have cared less. All they wanted was to enjoy it.  And for my husband, the only thing he cared about was not missing the big game!


It was all for me, really. All of those holidays. I needed them. The child inside of me needed them. And, even in my 30’s, my child was driving the car. Bless her sweet little heart.


Now, I know what these holidays are all about. Yes, they are about love family, whether our family by birth or choice, whether stable and happy or like people spinning in a blender.  And yet, when we really boil it all down, holidays are merely one more day where we are invited to join others to have fun, remembering  that the most important thing is loving one another regardless of the configuration of our lives. In short…an opportunity to see what really matters in life.


Sometimes we can forget that, in reality, families look as different as all our fingerprints. Singles are often not seen or when they are, sometimes viewed with pity or misunderstanding. Single parents can feel as if they aren’t a real family. Solos who lost their partners often lose their partner’s families. Young parents with children are forming their own traditions while aging parents struggle with fitting in. Blended families, by ethnicity or re-marriage figure out their customs and how to honor and celebrate together. How far this is from the holiday cards with photos of families as they “should be”.


This season of holidays can be just wonderful! Defining what is really important about them such as love and closeness is the first step. Then, looking outside and remembering others around you who might need some love. Love, my friends and taking the time to share it, lift and glass to it, and just be happy with whatever happens...snowing on Halloween, burned turkey, another tie for the holidays. Notice yourself as you move into this season and if you’re already feeling stressed, ask yourself if Martha is in the room.


You might be feeling you could use a little guidance this holiday season. You CAN enjoy your holidays, no matter the season in your life. Give me a call or email me and let’s talk about how. 


Donna Bailey, MS

Life Changing Coach

Donna’s Big RED Chair


How to Have the Best Valentines Day Ever


Who says that Valentine’s Day is all about getting? If you really want to feel loved on February 14, try giving it away.


A few years ago I was Little Miss Lonely Hearts, living in a city where men drove pick-up trucks with gun racks. The trees were bare, wind howled, snow fell and the dreaded V Day was approaching. I knew I had to do something drastic to get myself through it.


I slipped and slid on mountain roads to the nearest Ingles (California’s Safeway), bought 10 boxes of cake mix, frosting and some of my favorite candy hearts. Do you remember them…the ones with the messages that you carefully selected to give to those cute little boys and girls in your class that you “loved”?


I baked all day and half the night and had 240 cupcakes with those messages of love on top. On Valentine’s Day, I took to the streets where I knew the homeless hung out during the day when the shelters were closed. I found them huddled near buildings, under blankets…women with small children and men whose lifetime of struggle could only be made better by a swig of cheap wine in a crumpled brown paper bag.


The look on their faces was all I needed that Valentine’s Day to help my pathetic self remember what love is all about. Faces of children who didn’t even know what day it was suddenly remembered. Old men who were once in elementary school laughed when they read the messages on those candy Valentines. And they all were the embodiment of grace.


This year if you are without a date or a partner on Valentine’s Day, try giving your love away to those who need it most. Take some cupcakes or those sweet little Valentine candies down to the Salvation Army or a local shelter. If you feel the love for animals, take some toys or doggy treats to your local SPCA. Share the love!


Would you like to bake cupcakes with that special someone next year?

Let’s talk about how you can find Love in 90 Days!


Donna Bailey, MS

Dating and Relationships Coach for Grown-ups

Donna’s Big RED Chair


Big Red Chair



Valentine’s Day Can Be a Bear!


Valentine’s Day memories go way back for most of us.

Does anyone remember those packages of flimsy cardboard Valentines that we bought at Walgreens, making sure we had enough for everybody in our classroom? It was such fun cutting with our blunt end scissors, making those heart-shaped pockets that would hold all the “love” and glitter from the Valentines that the other kids would surely give us.  Did you ever come to school before the BIG DAY and peek into your pocket to see how many were in there? 


This day, touted as the “day of love”, is loaded for most of us, both men and women. It is an “either/or” kind of holiday, a holiday of anticipating and waiting to see if and how much you are loved, and when we are not in a relationship, Hallmark tells us that we are NOT loved…at least this year.


No matter how many ways my brain tells me that this is all a manufactured holiday and that real love is not buried in chocolate or expensive dinners, my heart still aches every single year I find myself “alone” on Valentine’s Day. It is in my bones, this message about February 14 and I am angry about that.


What do I recommend to all my readers as a way of coping with this holiday? Find a good friend who loves you even without your make-up, with dirty hair and in your ratty pajamas. If you are a man, celebrate not having to figure women out on this holiday! But, make a plan! Avoid restaurants at all costs and if you enjoy wine, buy yourself a nice bottle and enjoy every drop. No conversation is off-limits, but be sure they contain words of love, acceptance and joy for all the love that IS in your life EVERY YEAR.


Don’t fight the feelings around this holiday. Give advertising and marketing its due for being the King of Brainwashing. And remember, soon it will be over for another 365 days! The holiday, not love!


Are you a hopeful romantic, tired of watching those sunsets alone and ready to do the work to find YOUR VALENTINE? You can do it, and I will show you how? 

You’re only 90 Days to let’s talk about beginning that journey NOW!


Donna Bailey, MS
Donna’s Big Red Chair


Big Red Chair

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