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“Life is Cruel, Difficult…and Beautiful”

Life Lessons Series: Six of One Dozen of the Other- "Life is Cruel, Difficult and Beautiful"


I remember as a child my mom and dad telling me to savor every day of my childhood as the doors of life would close quickly behind me. I cannot believe I last posted a blog 9 months ago. Seems like yesterday and yet so much has happened in that time. Where exactly did the days go? I learned one of my difficult life lessons over these past months…that life is cruel and difficult. But there is also beauty. And love. And magic all around us. If we just take a second to see it. You can find magic or enchantment or mysticism or the power of suggestion or even a freakishly coincidental string of good luck. But I prefer to think of it as the universe righting itself when you least expect it.

My mom passed away on January 28th. It was the worst day of my life. I was blessed to have had her as a mother and been lifelong best friends. In my younger years I used to be embarrassed at how close I was to my mom. As a got older I knew how special our relationship was. My mom was truly extraordinary; anyone who knew her was blessed. I miss her every day. We shared the same smile, eyes, laugh, sense of humor, vocational interests, sense of adventure, quest for fun, love of TJ Maxx, pursuit to be a good human- we were regularly asked if we were sisters. (Good for her, a little humbling for me!) I remember when I hit a rough patch with a job once and wanted to take some time off my mom offered to go to work in my place. She said she would move the chairs a little farther from the desk to make it harder to see her wrinkles and drop the “F-Bomb” from time to time. Not entirely a bad idea and still very funny.

I spend a lot of time walking and looking for the beauty each day- memories of my mom, a sunrise, a dance in the rain, a good laugh, time with a cherished friend, the beauty of the sea, a rainbow, a full moon, a beautiful flower, waking up and choosing a good attitude and smile, my amazing sister, my loving husband, my incredible friends - whatever I can find each day to smile and celebrate. I know that I am very blessed.

This blog is dedicated to my mom. Three kisses mom, I love you with all my heart!

A Life to Celebrate

My mom was born June 10th, 1941 in Los Angeles. She grew up in Northern California, graduating from Carlmont High School. Mom attended UCLA for her undergraduate, graduate and Ed.D. degrees. Impressive in that era and still an awesome achievement to this day.

My mom was an educator teaching at Costa Mesa High School, Orange Coast College, University of California Irvine, Chapman University and Long Beach State. She was involved with the Girl Scouts both as a troop leader for my sister and me and later serving as First Vice President for the Girl Scout Council of Orange County. Mom worked as a Vice President at Transamerica Life Insurance for nearly two decades. She also did consulting work through her Advantage Leadership and Two-K Consulting companies. My mom authored numerous articles and published three books “Battling the Barriers to Success,” “The Team Based Problem Solver” and “Rewarding and Recognizing Employees.”

My mom’s most beloved times were anything involving my sister and me. The “Klubnik Girls” loved a sense of adventure going on annual girls’ trips all over the world to different places for 25 consecutive years.

Mom had a happy hour lounge in her garage the past few years where she quickly became known around the neighborhood for her phrase “Let’s Get this Party Started” always quick with a wave, a smile and a welcoming stop and chat to her neighbors in the home she lived in for more than 50 years.

My mom passed away peacefully on January 28th my sister, husband and me holding her hands and sharing our love. Mom was truly an extraordinary person. All who had the privilege of knowing mom were blessed. She will be missed every day.


Growing up mom bestowed her wisdom and extensive education on my sister and me with phrases reminiscent of her doctorate in Education. These have come to be called “Joan-ISM’s” over the years and are legendary.

  • “You are only mad because you let yourself be mad.”

  • “You create your own stress.”

  • “You can only be manipulated if you let yourself be manipulated.”

  • "You can’t say you don’t like something until you’ve had at least one bite.”

  • “If they have Barbie’s at 4 years old, what will they play with later?” (Answer: Grandpa bought them Dawn Dolls!)

  • Always live by “the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would want them to do to you.”

  • Even better live by the “the Platinum Rule: treat others the way they want to be treated.”

  • “Why cook something for four? Twelve is always better!”

  • Famous Dish – “Joan’s Surprise, usually with a sprinkle of wheat germ” (thanks to Durk Pearson’s popularity in the 1970’s).

  • “I used to Single Water Ski!” (said when she did not want to wear a bike helmet on a ride in the Baltic for her 70th birthday).

  • “Six of one dozen of the other.”

  • “That is a big Watch-a-ma-roo.”

  • "Things are a little Cat-t-whomp-us.”

  • Creator of the dishwasher chart to stop arguments about who emptied it last!

  • The infamous “Joan Look” – thoughts of which still inspire fear for my sister, me and our friends!

  • Cataloging her CD’s by Girls, Boys and Groups.

  • Also known as Joni.

  • Also known as Willamena.

  • Also known as Trip.

  • Also known as Spot.

  • Also known as Doris-Joan.

  • The Original Vacation Joan.

  • Vacation Joan 2.0.

  • Vacation Joan 3.0.

  • “Can you…?” (said immediately after someone sits down!)

  • “That was not so bad…” (said when someone else was driving in hours of LA traffic!)

  • Text messages that required a decoder ring.

  • “Let’s get this party started!”


Life is not fair. Life is unexpected. Life is cruel and difficult. Despite all this, there is still beauty in life. And love. And magic all around us. We need to take the time to see it. Make the time to celebrate each day. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Don’t have regrets for things you did not do. Smile and be proud each day at what you did do. Work hard to bring a good attitude even on the rough days to yourself and the people around you. You never know what may be under the surface for the person sitting next to you, in front of you in line at the store or at the red light. Live in the moment and celebrate the things going right in your life while they are happening. Live each day without regrets. Always tell the people you love that you love them!

What is Your Life Lesson…

  1. Do you choose your attitude each day? Do you have the amazing super-power to quickly go from a bad attitude to a good attitude?

  2. Do you make an effort to celebrate each day? What is your favorite way to celebrate? Do you seek out the goodness and beauty around you?

  3. Do you have your own list of ISM’s? Are you comfortable enough in your own skin to smile and celebrate your quirky ISM’s?

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