The life of a freelance writer is similar to fishing. You cast out your line and wait for the fish to bite. In order to catch enough fish to make a living, you have to do a lot of casting. As a work-at-home freelance writer, I’m often casting my line to look for new paid writing opportunities. One such opportunity recently asked me to describe my personal hero in order to get a better picture of my writing style. I knew immediately who I wanted to write about in my essay and my response is below. There is no one I look up to or admire more than these personal heroes.

When most people think about a hero, they envision someone like Mother Teresa, who worked tirelessly as a champion for the poor; Jackie Robinson, who helped break down the color barrier in professional baseball; or US Airways pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger, who successfully made an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York City, saving the lives of 155 passengers and crew. While each of these individuals deserves the title of hero, none of them serves as my greatest inspiration.

That position is held by my parents.

Mama Chick and Papa Chick Mama Chick and Papa Chick


If the accomplishments of Mother Teresa, Jackie Robinson, or Captain Sully are the measuring stick by which a hero is assessed, it might be easy to believe that Papa Chick and Mama Chick come up lacking. However, if a person’s worth is measured by the lessons taught, values instilled, and the depth of unconditional love offered, my mom and dad are on a pedestal of their own.

The Value of Independence

Mama Chick taught my sister and I the value of independence. Unlike many women of her era, she pursued a career and lived on her own before getting married and having children. What is commonplace now was not the norm when she was a young woman and her choices required self confidence, personal strength, determination, and perseverance. Through her example, Sister Chick and I learned to be strong, independent women with a well-defined sense of self and a healthy dose of self respect.

Do It Right, or Don’t Do It At All

Papa Chick’s approach to any job is always the same—if you’re going to take the time to do something, you might as well do it right. He employed this philosophy throughout his 50+ years of work at the local steel mill and continues to tackle every project in retirement with the same determination. I often hear my dad’s voice in my head when I’m tempted to cut corners in order to expedite a project.

The Value of Your Word

In our house, a promise given was a promise fulfilled. If you said you were going to do something, you followed through with it or faced the consequences—usually a heavy dose of shame and guilt. I still believe that your word is your worth and you need to stick by it.

Holding Your Tongue

One of my mom’s favorite expressions is about tolerance. “You can hold your tongue for twenty years if you have to,” she said many times in my youth. It took me years, but I finally figured out what she meant—sometimes it’s better to hold your tongue than to rock the boat, i.e. choose your battles wisely. Learning to hold my tongue was a constant battle in childhood and resulted in being grounded many (many) times. Sister Chick did not have this problem as she was not nearly as inclined to talk back to our parents.

The Value of Family

At 5 o’clock, any day of the week, everyone knew where to find us. Like clockwork, our family gathered around the table every evening to eat dinner, share tales about our day, and spend quality time together. Though as a child I often resented the rigid schedule and how it infringed upon my play time with friends, I now cherish the memories created and sense of stability that our dinners created.

We don’t get to choose our parents, but I will forever be grateful that God blessed me with Papa Chick and Mama Chick as mine. I am fortunate, indeed.

Who is your hero?

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I’m starting out the New Year by tackling a very dark subject.

It started with a conversation among friends at a Christmas party. I have to admit that I actually introduced the topic as it was something that had been weighing heavily on my mind for some time. Girlfriends tend to be excellent sources of advice and I knew I would find some kindred spirits and good answers among this particular group of friends.

I waited until the moment was right, and then threw my question out into the universe—in this case, a hallway where a few of us were congregating.

“Do you think I should use eyeliner on the top AND the bottom of my eyes?”

I was standing next to Carissa Chick and noticed that she had lined both the top and bottom of her eyes with very dark eyeliner. It looked great on her, but is contrary to the advice given in the book How Not to Look Old. Of course, Carissa Chick is seventeen years younger than me and is only considered old by children who think anyone over the age of 18 is ancient.

My question prompted a lively discussion but resulted in no definitive answers. For that, we needed to conduct some scientific research and Carissa Chick, a high school math teacher, was game to help me with my experiment.

On research day one, she went to work wearing eyeliner on the top and bottom of her eyes as usual. The next day she wore liner only on the tops of her eyes, as suggested in the book, and received numerous comments from both students and co-workers stating that she looked tired. None of those who commented were aware that she was taking part in a potentially prize winning Chick experiment.

I wondered if people might just be more used to seeing her with eyes fully lined, and also if age would make a difference when added to the equation. We decided to take our experiment one step further and post pictures of ourselves wearing liner only on top and then both top and bottom and let you decide.

Please note that I’m doing this in the interest of science as it really is QUITE UNFAIR to post pictures of myself next to those of Carissa Chick as she is stunning and young and thin and has perfect teeth and I would be forced to hate her is she wasn’t so fabulous and such a good friend.

Carissa Chick is shown here wearing liner only on the tops of her eyes. Carissa Chick is often tan and her coloring is medium in tone as makeup palettes go. She normally wears very dark liner. Here she is wearing it only on the tops of her eyes. Now she has liner on the top and bottom of her eyes. Now she has liner on the top and bottom of her eyes. Does she look more alert/older/younger/no difference?


And here I am with liner just on the tops of my eyes. I'm very fair and cannot wear the kind of dark liner that Carissa Chick does. My choice here is a liquid liner in plum. And here I am with liner just on the tops of my eyes. I’m very fair and cannot wear the kind of dark liner that Carissa Chick does. My choice here is a liquid liner in plum. Now I have liner on both the top and bottom of my eyes. It was a very windy and cold day when we took these photos. As you can see my hair wanted to fly away. Do I look older/more alert/the same? Now I have liner on both the top and bottom of my eyes. It was a very windy and cold day when we took these photos. As you can see my hair wanted to fly away. Do I look older/more alert/the same?


What do you think? Do we look better with liner on top AND bottom? Does the bottom liner make either of us look older? Give us your opinion in the comments.

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Old El Paso Frozen Entrees Are Muy Delicioso PLUS A Giveaway!

November 11, 2013

Quiero la comida mexicana. I want Mexican food. Usually, when I have a taste for Mexican food, I either make it myself or the Big Man and I head to our favorite local restaurant where the chips are crisp and plentiful. It’s like our very own Cheers where everyone knows us and one of the […]

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Boobs, breasts, hooters, ta tas –- We are more than the sum of our cup size.

October 28, 2013

Men can go topless and no one raises an eyebrow — unless they’re topless in a totally inappropriate location like church, or a courtroom, or an audience with the Queen. For women in the United States, it’s a different story. While the beaches of Europe and are filled with topless sunbathers (ouch!), and European television […]

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Ageless Derma helps Chicks stay young and healthy

September 18, 2013

It’s tough being a pale, Rubenesque Chick at a pool party with Fitness Chicks. While they’re rocking their itsy bitsy teeny weenie bikinis, I’m sporting shorts and a tankini top desparately hoping that the dark colors of my ensemble hide a multitude of sins. Naturally, the Fitness Chicks are not only fit and thin, they’re also […]

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Lifeway Kefir Is Packed with Probiotic Warriors

July 24, 2013

The word of the day is probiotic. Say it with me, boys and girls, proh-bahy-ot-ik. The term references a type of good bacteria, or microorganisms, that may help digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria. At least, that’s what a nutritionist with the Mayo Clinic says. And, according to the folks at WebMD, these bacteria may […]

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Words With Friends and Ruzzle Should Come with a Warning Label

May 21, 2013

When Nephew Chick was just a wee tyke, one of his favorite activities was playing games. It didn’t matter how many times he played the same game, he always wanted to play it one more time. Though I worked hard to earn my self-proclaimed title of Coolest Aunt, this was one area where I fell […]

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Chicken Soup for the Winter-Weary Soul

March 26, 2013

Spring has most definitely not yet sprung here in Western Pennsylvania. A crafty lawyer in Ohio has even filed paperwork to sue poor Punxsutawney Phil for his poor prognostication skills. Another Ohio prosecutor believes the furry little rodent deserves the death penalty. I’m just as sick of the cold, snowy weather as everyone else, but […]

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Oh the places you’ll go on a Segway

March 4, 2013

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away! Theodore Seuss Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, wasn’t referring to taking a ride on a Segway when he wrote those words, but they certainly apply. What is a Segway? It’s a personal, electric transportation device. You’ve probably seen them on TV. They look like […]

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Soda or pop? SodaStream makes both.

January 17, 2013

What do you call your carbonated soft drinks? Soda or pop? Surprisingly, there is actually a web page set up to track geographical variations in the use of these terms. Really. I’m not joking. You can even add your personal data to help them with this critically important project. Isn’t it comforting to know that there […]

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