Thank you, Jackie Z.

Jackie Zeman was a shining light. You couldn’t help but notice her when she came into a room. Sadly, the world gained her as an angel this past week. And, I am so thankful that our paths crossed.

I first learned about Jacklyn Zeman when she appeared in General Hospital (GH) as the popular character, Bobbie Spencer. This show was my “guilty pleasure” – faithfully watching it throughout high school and college. I loved her as “Bobbie”. She was feisty, fun, and a “ginger” – and you know- “gingers unite”!

As my life became too busy to watch “the soaps”, I would try to stay abreast of GH news by reading online stories or skimming the Soap Digest I bought at the local grocery store. But, then a funny twist of fate happened just a few years ago- I walked into a friend’s private event and literally found myself seated next to Jackie. We immediately hit it off! We talked about a variety of topics, including fashion and the reason we were there- to celebrate our friend Margaret McSweeney of Kitchen Chat TV and the recipient of special recognition at the March 2020 Taste Awards. And of course, there was a fair amount of chatting and showing of photos throughout the night of her family – she was a very proud grandmother.

I recall this event vividly as it was the last one I attended before the Covid pandemic put a lock on all of our lives. Jackie was one of the last people I saw before we were all “housebound.”

After the pandemic restrictions lifted, Jackie and I met up again – this time at the pre-event party for the 2022 Indie Series Awards. She had been starring in THE BAY – a show produced by Kira Reed Lorsch – a friend we both had in common. I was definitely the outsider – but was so honored and thankful that Jackie and Kira made me feel so comfortable at the party and introduced me to many others there. The night was full of laughter and a very messy pizza. In fact, the pizza became a bit of a running joke.

The last time I saw Jackie was at the Indie Series Awards 12th ceremony – in April of 2022. Sadly, in all the time we were together I never stopped to snap a “selfie” of us together. But, a few candids did make my camera roll. I love this one of Jackie who was simply engaged in great conversation with friends.

Life is made up of little moments. Snapshots in time. And if you are lucky- it will be filled with people who are clever, full of humor, and make you feel that you matter. Jackie was that person.

Jackie, I didn’t know you well – but I am so happy that our paths crossed and we shared some memorable moments. You were fun, funny, and kind. And you will be missed by many.

Time to give thanks…

I love November. First, it is that time of year where the ocean and sky take on wonderful hues here in Southern California. The air is a bit crisper and some days, like today, we have “actual weather”. I am typing this blog while it is raining with impending thunderstorms. A rarity here in SoCal!

November also forces me to slow down and take count of all the wonderful people and opportunities I have in my life. Starting with Hubby. This week we celebrate 32 years of marriage. I like to keep our personal life fairly private – so let me just say that I am grateful for him – every -single -day. Of course, the rest of my family, including our two “offspring”, are amazing, Yes, I am bragging, as I hope all Moms do, when it comes to their kids – young and grown.

I am grateful for a group of friends that keep me grounded, busy and laughing. I have the privilege of calling some very talented, interesting, smart and spectacular people my lifelong friends. Sadly life gets busy – right?! So… even though I don’t see some folks on a regular basis, I hope they know I am a phone call or email away.

I am thankful for good health. I have chronicled my cancer journey many times on this blog. Feel free to read my story about survival by starting here, if you wish.

If you have ever met, Bayla, our 6 – year old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, you will know why I adore this dog and am grateful that some “force” brought us together. She is the light and comedian in our home. This week she received a few new toys – including a creative gift from a pet company – the Smart Dog pull toy.

Full disclosure – Our dog is spoiled. I am to blame.

Which leads me to my next reason to be thankful …the privilege to work as a freelance digital media marketing specialist with super clients. Never underestimate the ability to work as a freelancer – which allows people, like myself, to work with a flexible schedule and write my own “office rules”.

Lastly, I am grateful to those who serve in positions that keep us safe, protected and able to live with freedom and liberty. It does not go unnoticed that while I sit at my Thanksgiving table with my family there are scores of families that don’t have all their loved ones joining them as they are working to protect and help all of us. So, to the individuals and families of those who serve in the military, medical/ caregivers or as first responders – thank you, thank you, thank you!

The Girls Q and A Book on Friendship – An interview with author, Annie Fox … complete with lessons for kids and adults alike!


The-Girls'-Q&A-Book-on-Friendship-092914-front-cover-800x1219Relationships between women fascinate me!  I have always been a “behavioral detective” – trying to unravel the mysteries of women interactions.  I have spent hours watching groups of women at events – such as PTA meetings, weddings or even my sorority get – togethers. I have had years of poolside experiences with kids and moms wondering why some women could be nice to a person one moment and then stab them with unkind words the moment they exited the group and their chaise lounge for their mini-van?

I have wondered how the adult women in our midst are teaching impressionable girls, including our daughters, about creating and maintaining healthy relationships with other females?  What makes women click as friends or just become a clique?

In an effort to continue my detective skills I ask my women readers to do the following:

1) Name a person who you met in elementary or middle school who has remained your friend in to your adult years?

2) Now think of a girl who seemed to always “have it out’ for you?

Why do you think one girl was and remained a “bestie” while the other was your “foe”?  Enter kid relationship expert and author, Annie Fox, who has always has been a promoter of teaching children about getting along with others. Her work on helping to end bullying in schools has been highly recognized nationwide. Her books have sold worldwide, including the MIDDLE SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL series.  In her most recent book, The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship, Annie provides a format and forum to help girls learn how to be good friends to other girls -by reducing the drama, increasing the conversation in a healthy and respectful way, and promoting kindness and understanding. The scenarios she offers reflect “common day” life and the diversity of characters and situations was much appreciated by this reviewer.

Recently, I asked a series of questions to be answered by our spotlighted author – Annie Fox.  

Enjoy her wisdom and sense of humor!

Louise:  You are a huge supporter of preventative education when it comes to bullying- do you think we are making strides in reducing bullying in the schools? And are girls worse than boys with bullying? 

Annie: I’m grateful there seems to be a growing awareness in many school districts that peer harassment is a real issue capable of causing real (and often lasting) damage to the psyches of kids. I am also grateful there now exist excellent resources for schools to help educators incorporate character development and SEL (Social Emotional Learning) into their curriculum. I am also grateful for the educators who prioritize graduating students who are empathetic, compassionate, and social courageous. Are we making “strides” in reducing social aggression in schools? Yes, of course. Are those strides being made universally? No. Is the progress happening quickly enough? Hell no! There are still many schools where teachers bully students and where teachers turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to students’ making sexist, homophobic, and racially-charged comments to other students. There are still school administrators who shrug and tell distraught parents of targeted students, “Kids will be kids.” or “Teen girls are just mean. What are you going to do about it?” (Actual statements made by school administrators as reported to me by extremely frustrated parents.)  

Are girls “worse” than boys with bullying? I don’t believe so. Both girls and boys are afflicted by Peer Approval Addiction in equal measure. Both genders struggle to do the right thing while simultaneously feeling compelled to do whatever it takes to fit in… including stuff they aren’t particularly proud of. The difference, if it exists at all, may be in the methodology girls and boys use to “take down” peers, online and off. I will also say that the seeds of compassion and empathy are equally prevalent in boys and girls. So, even though I wrote this book for girls, both boys and girls need to understand that their choices matter… in peer relationships and in life.

Louise:  You included quite a bit of diversity  in your book (bravo).  I can’t help but think they are an amalgam of the girls who write to you via Hey Terra! Are they?  

Annie:  Glad you noticed the diversity in the illustrations, Louise! My illustrator, the insanely talented Erica De Chavez, and I worked really hard to make sure that any and every girl would be able to see herself and her peers in these drawings. While I can’t know who exactly is sending me Hey Terra! email, (which I’ve been answering since 1997) I think it’s a safe bet that the questions I answer daily come from a very diverse group of tweens and teens. The email comes in from all over the country and all over the world.

 Louise: Do you believe that girls make lifelong friends more than boys/men?

 Annie:  Conventional wisdom points us in the direction of assuming that the friendships of girls/women are deeper and longer lasting than those of boys/men. But I have no empirical data to prove it either way. I certainly know women and men who are still very close to their childhood friends. And I know people, (men and women) who are warm and friendly, with high EQ (Emotional Intelligence) who no longer have meaningful connections to friends from childhood, high school or college. That said, real friendships… ones in which we feel accepted, respected and appreciated, are very important to every person’s ongoing social and emotional development, self-esteem, and feelings of connection to community.

Louise: Can you share a funny experience in the writing of the book?  

Annie: Erica and I had a ton of fun working on the illustrations. We would laugh and recall middle and high school friendship dramas of our own… Just letting the creative juices flow. Especially when the question we were trying to illustrate was written in very descriptive language. For example, “My friend treats me like I’m invisible.” Many girls can relate to that feeling… So we wanted to really play it up, to intensify the feeling the reader would get… whether in her own life was feeling “invisible” or if she was the one treating a friend that way. We played around with the concept of invisibility and finally asked each other the question “What if the girl in the illustration is actually invisible?!”  The finished drawing ended up looking like this!

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Louise:   Three wishes for the book are now granted – what would they be? Annie: 

  • That every girl currently facing an uncomfortable peer relationship and wondering, “What should I do?” would find this book under her pillow tonight.
  1. This book gets used by parents, teachers, and counselors to help girls handle their friendship challenges in ways that make the girls feel good about who they are.
  2. This book helps girls teach other girls about how to be a Super Friend.


Note that The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship is now available on Amazon and highly recommended for both the girls (and boys) in your life and the adults that live, love and nurture them.  The price is easy on the pocket, too- under $5 for the KINDLE version. Help young girls find this superb book under their pillows! Thanks to Annie, my readers and girls who are great super friends everywhere!   ~ Louise