- ... the tales of two sisters
... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

Getting to Know NO! Boundaries

This is a topic I have been eager to write about. I work with a life coach, and this is a topic I struggle with daily. I have tried to dissect why I allow boundaries to be crossed where I am left feeling annoyed, put upon, drained, and frankly often used.

I am a people person and I love connecting others. As a Menopausebarbee, I have lived enough decades to have a plethora of friends and associates from all walks of life. I am a youth advocate and am on the Advisory Board of Treehouse for Foster Kids, Odesssa Brown Children’s Hospital Guild, and an active board member of MoPop. I support numerous other local charities. I truly believe the quote, “You have never really live until you have done something for someone who cannot repay you.” BUT… There are limits and today, I want to address them.

For starters, I was raised by a man who did not respect boundaries. Loved my father madly. He remains the most interesting character I have ever encountered. Handsome, funny, brilliant, wildly successful and unpredictable however, his crossing boundaries in our lives was a lifetime struggle. I remember one birthday card Daddy gave me and the sentiment read, “Today is Your Day… Enjoy it!” A photo of a horse beaming in the sunshine illuminated the cover. The inside read, “Because Tomorrow it’s Back to Mine.” The horse was sullen and under clouds. Daddy thought this card was hysterical as it was how he viewed our lives.

Those that remember my father will recall our home was a revolving open house 24-7. If you had a problem, over a whisky cola, Daddy would council. He loved to join battles. I believe he genuinely enjoyed the chaos, and therefore, my siblings and I were forced to picket establishments, even when we didn’t particularly support a cause. There were often acts of human kindness, but again, boundaries were crossed. I recall many Thanksgiving dinners when our mom would have the table immaculately set to rival a Martha Stewart setting and Daddy would roll in with homeless transients to join us.

Growing up, I saw these acts as teaching us compassion and as Daddy would express exposing us and keeping it “real.” Many days our family road trips would detour from Disneyland to The Projects. Imagine me at 8 with my Micky Mouse Ears walking through the Mar Vista Gardens.

As an adult, Daddy never differentiated that I might have other interest, plans or desires. He showed up at my house daily, refusing to call ahead and hours upon hours he would pontificate or bring whatever crisis which needed solving and people in need. As a young adult, I didn’t have the voice to express my rage for the intrusion of my privacy. I felt guilty if I put my foot down.

I admit, based on years of allowing boundaries to be defined by others, I am a work in progress. I have come to learn that saying NO is not a bad thing. In this day and age with cell phones and social media, people can track your every move. I have come to learn that people have a source of entitlement to your time, resources, social and financial capital and bounty. I am coming to use my voice and just say NO.

I often joke that my knees get tired from begging for whatever charitable cause I have at hand. But the best gift I have received from my years in philanthropy has been watching other highly successful individuals navigate the NO. These individuals are so grounded because they are under siege daily. No can be gracious and eloquent. I have great respect for these individuals who have mastered this. It’s not a maybe… it’s not a we’ll see, it’s not a I’ll think about it, or I’ll get back to you- it’s just Sorry, NO.

These are lessons I am teaching my daughter as she has embarked on her first year of college. She is confined in a small cubicle with two other roommates, where boundaries are bound to be crossed. Simple requests as please don’t sit on my bed, and no I don’t loan my clothes, or please respect my need for quiet study time are boundaries she is learning which will last her a lifetime. I just wished I had learned this earlier in life.

Get to Know NO!

Shop til You Drop!

Yesterday my sister and co-blogger Dana wrote an eloquent post entitled Cops and Robbers, saluting Atatiana Jefferson whose life was snuffed out in a senseless police killing.

I won’t expand on this as Dani captured the tender age of twenty-eight and the hopes and dreams and aspirations we all have at that stage of life brilliantly. 

So, because I have a couple more stories about the fascinating Emirate Dubai, I thought I’d share one of them today..

Okay. Imagine a shopping mall so big that there’s an app to help you navigate it. Seriously.

The Dubai Mall is the second largest mall in the world by total land area.It encompasses a total internal floor area of 5.9 million square feet–that’s about the size of 102 football fields. Can you imagine??? More than 54 million people visit this mammoth mall each year. Understandably so as there are over 1,200+ retail stores. Every brand or designer label your heart could possibly desire is there. Yep, just get started on Fashion Avenue and you can go from Armani to zero dollars (or UAE Durham, the local currency) quicker than you think.

Housed in this über gigantic retail complex amongst so much eye candy, is the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo which showcases more than 300 species of marine animals; an indoor theme park with about 150 games, a 22 screen movie theater and what would a shopping mall be without a haunted house named  Hysteria. There are also banks, a hospital clinic, prayer rooms… the Dubai Mall  is a world within a world.

And of course after all that retail therapy, you’re going to be starving. No worries. For breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacking or just because it’s there, you can choose from the Mall’s 200+ restaurants and cafes. I’m not a mall kinda girl–but of the times I have visited shopping malls, I’ve never seen food like this! The kitchens of America, China, Japan, Asia, Britain, Italy, France, India, Healthy, Kid Friendly, Special Deserts, of course Starbucks as well as other coffee and juice specialty stores–and for sure something that presently escapes me–are represented there. Now, what you won’t find in any of these restaurants is alcohol. You won’t find any alcohol in the Mall at all which is probably good so you can stay sober and keep shopping. As a matter of fact, you won’t find alcohol in grocery stores and in only select hotels and restaurants–and not before noon.

The last thing I want to do when I travel is hang out in a mall, but the Dubai Mall is just something you have to see and it is fascinating. With my hotel being built adjacent to it, getting there was very convenient. I found the store and restaurant employees were very friendly and extremely helpful in pointing out directions – on how to get outta there. It was packed. I mean, I’ve never seen the likes. It’s totally understandable with its being located at the base of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain which is the world’s largest musical fountain and the city’s most popular free tourist attraction. But good grief, it was crowded!!!

One more thing. I didn’t come across any couples holding hands strolling through the mall. Public displays of affection are illegal. So you won’t see any kissing and hugging or booty claps. Probably a good thing so that your hands are free for carrying all those shopping bags…

Cops and ROBBERS

I just can’t stop thinking about this young 28 year old woman whose life was robbed. Take a moment and think of where you were at 28. Think of all that was yet to be and if your life had ended at that moment.

I recall being 28 as if it was yesterday. I got married, a year later had my first born. I was working, head down to the grind trying to revive our family business along with my life-time partner, my mother. My parent’s had recently divorced and my father’s health declined. Daily, I honored

both my parents tending to my father’s medical needs and the emotional roller coaster of building a future.

It was a time of dreams for what the future would hold. It was a time of insecurities as I questioned my abilities and determination of how to achieve the life I desired. It was a time of growth. It was a time of new friendships that morphed into family. Like the victim, Atatiana, I too embraced being the big fun Auntie/Cousin. Photos of my wedding show my posing with my then 10 year old cousin, Hope and my 5 year old cousin, Chris Jr. It has been one of my life’s greatest pleasures watching them and all my family grow into remarkable business people and doting parents. As I visit with these family members and now toast their success, and reminisce of our history, I can’t fathom being ROBBED of these treasured moments.

Cops are to serve and protect from the Robbers. Such a tremendously sad day when these lines continue to be blurred.

To the family of Atatiana- there are no words… Today, we just pray.

Baaba! Zebra! The Celebration!

She really did it and we all came together to celebrate her outstanding achievement!

I would guesstimate that there were around three hundred of us at the Senat hotel last Saturday evening for this event. We all came together to show our appreciation and love for Baaba Yankah from Ghana, West Africa. Family members and friends flew or trained or drove from around the world including France, England, Berlin, America, Ghana and Nigeria to be there. Truly a love fest and I can think of no one more deserving than Baaba.

We were commemorating a milestone in Baaba’s life and career: thirty years of Zeebra Tropicana, her hair salon and the first Afro-German hair salon in Cologne, Germany. 

But you must understand, Zebra is so much more than a hair salon; contacts are established, (it is here where I met Rupert Shonaike, master in Chinese self-defence who would become my son’s Tai chi instructor), friends are made, introductions have even led to marriages, (Baaba always says that “Every pot has its lid.”) Indeed, stories from the horrific to the hilarious, from birth to burial, Baaba has heard them all! And this proud Ghanaian woman always, but always has time to lend an ear to the troubled.

It would have been extremely difficult for me to set my divorce in motion without her help. Most people shy away from getting involved in other people’s messes, but not Baaba. She asked me several times over and again until I got sick of her asking: “Tracie are you sure?” When she realised that I meant business, she said, “Okay, you’ve made a decision. You can do this.”  She and her husband Chuks, from Nigeria, were there for me day and night and I will be eternally thankful to them. And boy, oh boy, do I have some stories to tell. I’ll be sharing them in my next book.

But for now, you can read about Zeebra Tropicana in this excerpt from the chapter entitled, Trusting the Body, taken from my book Incompatible with Nature–A Mother’s Story.

Baaba, congratulations my girl. And just as Anita (Davis–oh the girl can sing!) grabbed the mic and opened up the dance floor with, We are family, she was spot on. We are indeed. Bless you my sister.


You are not prepared for the bells that jingle jangle as if through a megaphone when you push open the front door, nor the infectious kinetic energy that bowls you over precisely the moment you step inside. Your eyes widen in wonder and anticipation.

Sensual reggae rhythms pulsate from somewhere at the top of the staircase – instantly knocking that uptight ‘I’ve never been here before’ edge off – and you soon realize that the soulful syncopation furnishes the backdrop for a steady stream of fusing voices. Invigorated and inviting. Laughing. High-fiving. Distinguished accents from the Islands, Americas, Africa, and Europe. An acoustical panorama of the world. You get a hunch that you won’t be the only one trying to suppress the impulse to nod on the downbeat and when snapping your fingers, and when unabashed sporadic vocal accompaniments chime in within earshot – you feel like . . . like you’ve finally broken through the constrictions and the gates have been thrown open for you to make a communal connection! 

Say Zeebra Tropicana and you say open sesame. 

Rooted in the hub of the city of Cologne, this hair salon offers umpteen hair-styling products and everything from facial hair remover to Ghanaian plantains. It seems to be an event unto itself, reflected in its patronage which ranges from the hoi polloi to the hoity-toity. The place is bursting at the seams with people – sometimes all day long. For me, it was love at first sight and where I had the good fortune of meeting Rupert Shonaike, master in Chinese self-defense, calisthenics and Course Leader of  the Tai Chi Studio of Cologne.

He had been standing near the front desk and had a bird’s-eye view of Marc and me holding hands, making our slow ascent of the ten stairs from the entrance door. Once we reached the top landing, his gaze zeroed in on Marc. 

When she isn’t styling hair, Baaba, the proprietress of the salon, weaves about, stringing people together, engaging this one and that in conversation. She’ll try to find a lid for every pot; because this proud Ghanaian Christian woman who quickly became my dear friend,  firmly believes that by helping each other we ultimately help ourselves. And she sets forth about this as if on a mission.  

Remembering A Thriller!

Menopausebarbee uncle Quincy Jones says that Rod Temperton was one of the greatest songwriter/arrangers of our time. He should know. He recruited Rod to write for the Off the Wall album which included Rock with You, the second number 1 selling song from that album.  And of course the title song for the biggest selling album of all time, Thriller. Another of my all time favorites, Come to Me, performed by Patti Austin and James Ingram. And James Ingram and Michael McDonald did serious justice to Yah Mo B There!

And for you old-schoolers out there, I know you remember Always and Forever and Boogie Nights performed by Heatwave. Donna Summer, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Heatwave, the Brothers Johnson, L.L. Cool J–the list goes on and on.

We menopausebarbees had the great fortune of meeting Rod and his charming wife Kathy, several times at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Two of the nicest people you ever want to meet.

We’re especially thinking about Rod at this time as he passed away on October 5, 2016 after a fight with cancer. Such a shame, such a shame…Yesterday he would have been 70 years old. 

So we think about him and hope he knows that we miss him and how we thank him for the music! 

Rod you Put a Move on My Heart

Rod Temperton directly behind me leaning on Uncle Q

Paris, a Prince and a Princess!

I had the wonderful fortune of meeting HRH Prince Robert and his –love her!–wife, Princess Julie of Luxembourg in Montreux two years ago. Dewi, (Julie’s nickname) and I had an immediate connection. 

It just so happens that one of their sons has some health issues, so I sent Julie a copy of my book. She’s told me time and again how much my story has helped her–even underlining sections to refer to when she feels the need. 

This past summer, meeting up in Montreux again, she invited me, my sister/co-blogger Dana and our sister from another mister, Patti, to their beautiful home for lunch on the shores of Lake Geneva. Literally on the shores. Swimming and floating on huge pink flamingoes were on the menu before lunch. Julie and I promised to keep in touch and we did. Last week, she invited me to their home in Paris. I said, “Let me get my shoes!” Seriously! We picked a couple days that worked for both of us and I was on my way.

After suffering the lost and found of my luggage at the airport which consumed more than a few hours, Dewi and I had a grand time the rest of the afternoon and evening catching up and ordering in. The following day, Robert arrived home and invited the family and me to dinner at Le Clarence, their restaurant a stone’s throw away from the Champs-Élysées in the heart of the Golden Triangle of Paris.

Le Clarence is is in the prestigious circle of the greatest restaurants in the world. Under the helm of the genius of Chef Christophe Pelé whose ideas, skills and cooking are simply ethereal, Le Clarence was awarded 2 Michelin stars after only one year of opening.

I couldn’t wait to see it. And eat.

Robert and I went over about a half hour before the rest of the family arrived so he could give me a tour of the restaurant and the accompanying wine store which is housed in a classic elegant 19th century mansion–complete with tall windows, fireplaces, antique furniture, artwork, luxe fabric wall coverings, and fresh floral arrangements. Before the evening was over, I would observe that the service was impeccable, the staff extremely friendly.

Robert purchased the mansion in 2011 and fully refurbished it within four years. His touch and design are on everything from the chandeliers to the dinnerware. When he and I walked into the bar off of the salon, he noticed a table was not exactly straight–so he straightened it.

The wine store La Cave du Château, is considered to be one of the most beautiful wine cellars in Paris.

The family Bordeaux wine empire began with his great-grandfather, financier Clarence Dillon, and includes first-growth château Haut-Brion (Haut-Brion is the oldest great wine luxury brand in the world), and top estate La Mission Haut-Brion and Château Quintus. All of this is googleable.

Let’s talk about dinner!

Shortly after we were seated at 7:30 PM, a young waiter brought me what looked to be a small foot-stool. This was for my purse so that it wouldn’t disturb me while I enjoyed my meal.

Shortly after, the maître d’ approached me. Did I have any allergies to any foods? No, I didn’t. Is there something that I don’t like to eat? I told him that I don’t particularly care for lamb or game. He thanked me and turned to Robert to take the order for the first of the several bottles of wine we would enjoy. I sat back and waited for the menu. Before I knew it, five waiters were coming towards our table with what would be the first of the delicacies we would savor. There is no menu in this gourmet establishment and this is where the wizardry of Chef Christophe Pelé becomes apparent. 

He knows what you are averse to, so with a tremendous amount of skill, he prepares what he thinks you will like, based upon what he bought fresh from the market that day.

We began with a divine brioche. The butter was produced from cows that are only milked once a day which results in the butter being extremely flavorful. This flavor changes with the seasons throughout the year depending upon what the cows graze.

Next, with cinematic presentation, silver lids were removed from their platters all at the same time, and we were served clams with garlic butter, followed by lobster paired with ham, duck with black truffles, with all the accompanying wines. A beautiful fish was presented, then the ultimate cheeseboard. So by now I had quit taking notes and making pictures because not only had I lost count of the courses, I was just amazed at all the exquisite food being presented to us. Julie and I more often than not moaned, “Umm, isn’t this divine?” Magic in our mouths. Almost seductive. Each dish had been prepared with precision, every single detail was right. If a small dot floated in the left lower corner of a dish—it was intended to be there, no need for second guessing.

I thanked my hosts profusely. Robert said, “Tracie, we’re just getting started!” By now I was in a food coma. I started laughing. “I can’t anymore!” I said.

Ahh, dessert. Delicate pastries with apples so thinly sliced it didn’t seem they were even real, warm chocolate puffs filled with hot chocolate sauce, sorrel sorbet, macaroons, creamy concoctions…

 At Le Clarence, there is pomp simply because it’s so incredibly luxurious–but no circumstance. It is Robert’s intention that his guests feel like they are at home. For example, we were enjoying a dish and I noticed that he and Julie were using their spoons. I was using my fork–a fork of which the stem is made from the same wood as the barrels the wines are aged in. “Oh,” I said. “I’m using the wrong utensil.” “Oh no you’re not, Tracie. There is no right or wrong fork or spoon,” Robert said. “You can use any utensil you want here. I want all my guests to feel comfortable as if they were eating at home.” Julie started laughing and said, “I’m using my spoon because I don’t want to miss any of the sauce!” My kinda girl.

Dinner had come to an end around 11 PM. What a night!

Le Clarence offers a stunning culinary experience, as visual as indescribably delicious–one I will never forget; a gastronomic experience my palate will savor for quite some time. As in forever! Vive la cuisine Français !

You can youtube Prince Robert de Luxembourg presenting the History of Château Haut-Brion.

Grammy goes back to College…

This is a woman who hates letting go of her “cubs”. When her baby sister, my Aunt Margie took her first flight as an attendant for Alaska Airlines, Mama stood at the gate sobbing. This was back in the 1960’s when you could still watch flights take off. When the gate agent consoled Mama and asked when her sister would return, Mama wailed into her snotty tissue, “Tonight.” When my sister and co-blogger Tracie moved to Germany, Mama took to her bed and did not surface for two long weeks. Each year when Tracie returns for a visit and heads back to Germany, history repeats itself. Letting Go has never been Mama’s strong suit, so it was no surprise that the task of delivering the last of her cubs to college out of state fell on my son Brett and me. Mama has a saying, they are her babies, I just carried them.

So, it’s been 6 long weeks since Taryn went from living under a roof with Mama and me to flying solo. The family decided to make the 2.5 hour journey to Chapman for Homecoming Family Weekend and assuage Grammy’s concerns that her baby cub is not only surviving but thriving.

The warm and welcoming community at Chapman along with the clean campus, engaging staff, and academically inclined student body easily allayed all of Mama’s concerns.

Dorm life with two solid roommates – CHECK, Even though the Dorms are Co-Ed, her roommates are not males and there is a coded lock on her door CHECK! Food card – CHECK, Security on Campus -CHECK, Money on Laundry card- CHECK, Gas and check oil on car- CHECK, Cleaning supplies and a life supply of the sanitizer, Purel -CHECK, Family within proximity CHECK, Nearest Grocery Store, Walmart, Pharmacy- CHECK CHECK CHECK…

Seeing is believing. Once Mama saw that all her years of teaching Taryn to pick up, clean up and be responsible had paid off, the blow of leaving her baby cub was a bit more tolerable.

Until next time… ahh College Life!

A Tip

A Tip 

I learned a valuable lesson last week and I would not be doing my social media duty if I did not share.

After landing in Charles de Gualle Airport in France last week, which is the second-largest in Europe and the eighth-largest worldwide in number of passengers, I found myself with all the other travellers waiting at the baggage carousel to pick up my one piece of luggage. And I waited. And waited. And waited. And then I got angry and angrier and then just downright furious. But I was also confused. A father with his wife and two daughters was feeling the same way: he was the only member of his family not to see his suitcase. So we of course began talking–German–trying to figure out what to do. None of us spoke French and there was no one around to ask for help if we wanted to. We each tried to use the assistance machines so that we could scan our luggage tags–you know the ones that are stuck to the back of your boarding pass– and report our bags missing. They didn’t work. 

We ended up taking the risk of going out of this NO MORE ENTRY once you leave area and finally found someone who called someone. We were sent to point A. The bags were there. Relief. 

To get to Point A, we had to take an airport shuttle bus.Took us fifteen minutes to get there and then of course, the bus driver had to wait until it was time for him to drive. That took another fifteen minutes. After a time, I went to him and asked if if we could leave NOW. Well, let’s just say this: I need to up my French speaking game.

We arrived at Point A, where we showed our luggage tags and were told we had to go to Point B which was another 5000 miles away. Ok. It’s alright because our luggage was there. 


We were told to go back to Point A. Dad flips out and says he’s not going anywhere and somebody better bring him his bag. NOW. Dad’s English is pretty good. An argument ensues with him and the airline employee helping us. So it’s at this point that my mind dashes in 10,000 directions–especially to the one I reveal in my book, Incompatible with Nature–A Mother’s Story. I’m fighting with a certain doctor, trying to figure out how to deal with him and thinking of  Mama saying, “You’ll get more with sugar than with shit, Tracie.” 

Hmmm… What was happening didn’t look good. Instead of saying anything, I just followed my gut and stayed quiet waiting to see how this played out. I mean, he was ranting about his luggage–not mine. This might be one of those SUGAR moments mama was talking about.

Suddenly I see a woman with a trolley hastily walking toward us–with our bags! They got this fiasco figured out!

By now, dad, mom and the daughters and I had become family. We hugged and wished each other Bon Voyage. That was a special moment. You never know over what you’ll bond with someone. 

Long story short, here’s the tip: don’t ever bet rid of your tags until you’ve got your luggage and are happily strolling away to your destination. This is the kind of adventure you don’t want!!!