To the Original Dirty Girl

Dear Shirley,

The mountains are beautiful. I could not have picked a prettier day to come to Denver to see you. The sky is clear and blue and bright, the air is chilly and the mountains that you love so much are snow-capped.  It’s really quite perfect. I understand why you chose to stay here.

But I missed you today. I will miss you for a long, long time.

Today on the airport shuttle, heading to my rental car, the guy next to me was on his phone.  And he says – quite clearly so the entire car can hear as we are forced into full body contact so everyone is quietly uncomfortable – he says into his phone, “Hey Steph, I hear you’re newly single. So… when are we going to go get a drink?” Pause. “It’s Rick.” Another pause. “Yeah, I know it’s soon… oh, just yesterday?  I heard it last night… but anyway, you’re single now, you got to get out there.” Longer pause. “Yeah, ok, let me know. Bye.”

Seriously. Who am I supposed to text that absurdity to now?

dgc-at-wine-loft-169x300For eight years, you have been my best friend, confidant, coach, business partner… you have been that shoulder I have repeatedly soaked with tears, you have been that irritant pushing me to focus on the unpleasant aspects of life I wanted to hide from, you have been loving, loyal, judgmental, pushy, supportive, encouraging and above all, you have been present. You were there.

Over the course of our friendship, we have weathered the waves of closeness, of distance, of testing trust and boundaries, of broken marriages and relationships, of building a business, of sorting ourselves out.  We have not always been at the same place at the same time. We have not always agreed. We have walked away mad and returned thoughtful. We have pushed against our own boundaries and each other’s.  We have grown, we have learned, and through it all, we have remained connected.

A few weeks ago, you told me how sorry you were that you were not available to be supportive to me while I was working through an emotionally devastating rift in another relationship. You were sorry.  For having cancer. For fighting for your life.

The sorrys I have to say about this don’t begin to cover it. Because you were wrong, Shirley.  You were not unsupportive because you couldn’t be. Cancer didn’t prevent you from being there. You were not able to be there because I didn’t let you in. I didn’t call you and burden you with my drama… because I wanted you to have all your energy to focus on you. I thought that was a good thing, that was what friends should do.

But despite your cancer, despite feeling crappy and rotating through drugs and scans and treatments, despite trying to keep your work alive through coaching, you were there.  In that moment when I was broken and hurting and I told you everything, you were there. You were always there and I had been too self-involved to see that my choice to not share my life with you sooner was creating space, not strength, between us.

We destroy intimacy and closeness when we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable.  And we cannot judge that vulnerability. There is no better or worse pain, there is no“my suffering is greater than yours.” Not between people you love, there isn’t.


Because for all the times I thought, “I can’t tell her about this… it’s so much less important than fighting cancer,” for all the times I held back not wanting to bore you or have you think I was trivial and dramatic, I missed the opportunity to build an even tighter bond with you, to show you how I really felt about having you in my life. To show you that I loved you enough to trust you with my stupidity, and to know that you would love me anyway.  And the hardest part is, I did.  I did trust you.

And now I am in this position where I can not share with you anymore.

I have winter coat envy.  It’s severe. I was sitting in the airport, on my way to see you, and I was watching all the women stroll, stride and sometimes jog by in their winter jackets. Some are heavily padded, some are woolly and knobby, some sparkly or brightly patterned, or, my favorites, fur-trimmed.And I’m gazing at their coats like a hungry house cat monitoring the goldfish and guppies in the living room fish tank. I haven’t bought a winter coat in eight years.  I haven’t lived in winter in eight years.  And now I’m finding that I need a coat.  It’s an obsession.  I don’t want to buy until I find the perfect mix of style, warmth, and that funky bit of something-something that makes it mine. So, I’m compulsively staring at all these women travelers, picturing myself in their coats, trying not to seem creepy. Not sure I’m succeeding.

You would have been the first person I texted that too.

Because it’s nonsense. It’s absolutely true, but let’s face it, in the grand scheme of life it’s so ridiculous and unimportant and yet… these were the random, idiotic and still somehow entertaining pieces of our lives we shared with each other. And I never hesitated to send you that bizarre random note, and had you received that one, you would have laughed at me then asked me to send you pictures. And I would have – and totally killed my attempt to be non-creepy, but I still would have.

sundress-3Just like the time I sent you awkwardly angled photos of a certain coworker’s beach-scene sundress – the kind three-year olds wear because their mothers make them: with the big red sun umbrella on them and frothy blue waves against golden sand with colorful toy buckets and sailboats – that dress along with the hot pink flats with the giant rhinestones on them. You remember her – a middle-aged corporate vice president showing up at work in a three-year old’s dress and shoes. Those photos were great.

Yes, it was bitchy and judgmental… and so damn funny.

Over the years, I must have sent you literally hundreds of those kinds of text – short stories far too long for the text format, observations of myself and others in a way only meant for the vault. After all, If your best friend isn’t the vault of your secrets, who is? These small, silly vignettes made up the moments that showed just how open and trusting I was with you – I exposed my worst self without hesitation.

Until you got cancer. And then I did hesitate. I became careful about what I shared because sometimes my ridiculousness didn’t seem entertaining at all… just ridiculous. And I didn’t appreciate enough that maybe in the stress of your day, the battle to just survive and enjoy each day as you could, each day as it came, that my absurdity might still be entertaining.  Might still be a path of connection for us.

And my not-so-absurd moments. The ones I didn’t want to burden you with because they were hard enough for me to handle, much less thinking that anyone else wanted to handle me handling those moments.

How stupidly selfish we can be and we justify it as generous.

When I first sat down to write you, I thought, ok… you know how wordy you get. Keep it to 1000 words… and then I thought… WTF? The world just lost a Dirty Girl. A damn good one. The Original. And you are not to be contained a mere 1000 words. So I write to you, Shirley, to honor all that you have given me, taught me, and been for me in the eight years of our friendship.

  • You taught me to trust. And you pushed me to face my gremlin. It was – and continues to be – messy, grinding work. But well worth it.
  • You made laugh through the pain. In some intensely difficult moments, you showed me it was ok to enjoy the absurdity. Laughter doesn’t erase the pain but it helps you cope. And so does lava cake.
  • You reminded me that I was not a terrible mother at the times I most needed to hear it. That reassurance, any mother will tell you, is priceless.
  • You showed me what it was to listen – without judgment, to just be present in the moment.
  • You taught me that our journeys are all uniquely our own, and yet we all have so many commonalities.
  • You taught me to respect my needs. I am not too demanding. What I want is not unreasonable. And yes, I want it all.

You taught me so much more. And I am sure others you have loved, coached and supported over the years can add many more lines to what you brought to our lives. And I know this letter is deeply personal, and it seems like it is more about me than you; but it is the best way I could think of to showcase the kind of soul you are, the kind of impact you have had. On my life. On so many lives.

Everyone needs a Dirty Girl in their life. Regardless of age, regardless of gender. We all need that person who sees us through and through, who loves our dark as well as our light, who reflects back what we need to see and who allows us to follow our own path even when we can’t see it clearly.  Who challenges us, who pokes us, and who comforts us and protects us. Who is there.

I am so grateful I had you, Shirley. And I will miss you for a long, long time.


Shirley Ramos, co-founder of Dirty Girls Consulting and powerful promoter of women and equality, lover of dogs, the beach and a good beer, and loyal, passionate and fierce friend, lost her battle to cancer on November 20, 2019.

Why we started Dirty Girls Consulting

Posted in friendship, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Stories, #2)The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yet again, Cornwell has cracked it! This is exactly as historical fiction should be: bring that history to life.

One cannot help but be swept along as Uhtred recalls his adventures in Wessex and the south west of England. He questions King Alfred and the Christian ideology of the early Saxons, when one could only find favour with the King through demonstrating complete commitment to God. Consequently, his greatest enemies are the priests of Alfred’s court. His enemies in battle, no matter what their reputation, hardly seem to bother him at all.

Uhtred is a great character, made even better by his flaws. I kept wanting to yell, “No! You idiot! They’ve set you up! Go the other way!” But the added danger caused by his naivety and occasional stupidity, just adds more spicy action to his tale.

As his career progresses from an early incarnation of First Sea Lord, to roaming general, his loyalties are always divided between his spiritual home with the Vikings, and his physical home as an Englishman. His upbringing amongst Vikings definitely saves his skin on several occasions.

As with The Last Kingdom, there is plenty of blood and gore, some very graphic descriptions of battle and single combat, and a smattering of sex, but not too much, or enough, of the latter, depending on your point of view.

This is a fast-pace, action-packed book, and it is highly entertaining. There are many amusing scenes in the book , the best of which, by far, is Cornwell’s, Uhtred’s, take on the famous King Alfred’s burnt cakes episode. It is just wonderful! If he hadn’t been so wrapped up in telling Uhtred about his strategy to regain Wessex from the Danes, King Alfred the Great would never have suffered the indignity! What did the woman do to him? Well, whatever she did, it made me roar with laughter!

Enough said. Read it!

View all my reviews

Posted in Book review | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Feature: Author, Joy Wood

I pre-ordered April Fool and there it was, as if by magic, when I turned on my Kindle this morning!
By the time I got up, I’d already read the first two chapters. Looking forward to continuing this evening.

Patricia M Osborne

I am very please today to welcome, author, Joy Wood.  Joy is not only a fellow writer but also a good friend and she’s here to talk about her writing including her latest novel launched today, April Fool. First of all let’s find out a little about her.  

About Joy

Profile photo

Joy Wood was born in Cleethorpes Lincolnshire, and has returned to her home town since retiring as a nurse, to pursue her love of writing. Joy gets her inspiration from walking along the seafront and watching the tide turn, and thinking about various characters, before rushing home to get them written down before she forgets!

Joy has independently published 3 novels, (April Fool being the 4th), and spends a lot of time doing public speaking events about the transition from a working nurse to a writer (From Bedpan to Pen!) She tried to interject plenty…

View original post 1,706 more words

Posted in Personal | 1 Comment

People in their 50-60s/older greatly underestimate and misunderstand their value to employers/the market/society

Every word of this article resonates with me. Being made redundant in my sixties made me feel awful. After ten years of loyal service to my previous company, I feel betrayed.

My view is that loyalty is bidirectional.

I know that my decades of service and experience in the Armed Forces and in IT companies mean that I have much to offer to any company who chooses to employ me. I could make a very significant contribution to their future success. Yet my value seems to be overlooked.

I shall persevere until I find a company which is enlightened enough to realise my value. Onwards and upwards!

Originally posted by Alan Chapman on LinkedIn

It’s natural.. due to decades of habit, conditioning, false assumptions and nonsense media.

Many people in their 50-60s/older still see work as they did in their 30-40s, and so aim for jobs/work much below their greater ‘higher level’ capabilities.

People in their 50-60s/older can re-position themselves for much more sophisticated work, if they want.

People in their 50/60s/older tend to seek work/jobs/opportunities for which they are hugely over-qualified/experienced/capable.

Like a brain surgeon seeking work as a doctor’s receptionist. Or a multi-national CEO seeking work as a team supervisor. No sensible employer would recruit a brain surgeon as a doctor’s receptionist, or a multi-national CEO as a team supervisor (notwithstanding the vagaries of much modern recruitment/selection).

When we are younger we focus on work/technical/job-specific experience and skills, and we seek such employment, and this is appropriate. We lack the wisdom and life-experience necessary to do the higher-level work. When we are younger we are well-suited to ‘lower-order’ work/opportunities – which of course are crucial in organizations and markets – which tend to be:

  • faster-paced,
  • narrowly focused,
  • somewhat one-dimensional,
  • less considered/sophisticated,
  • less cognisant of risk/consequences and human factors,
  • less aware of wider context and systemic factors,

This orientation of 30-40s-type work and worker is due to many reasons. Mainly, we are younger, more ambitious, more compliant, mobile, energetic, tech-savvy, recently qualified, recently skilled, and often a bit daft, or even reckless (unintentionally, because we have not learned so many life lessons).

When we are younger, we know relatively little about life, so we tend to be limited to being operators and managers and technicians, or start-up entrepreneurs.

It’s very rare for someone to be able to run a big company or a country properly until he/she is into 50/60s/older. Think about that.

However in later life – especially if we are seeking work and worrying about our age and rejections – we tend to continue to limit our job/work aims to these younger age/work (conditioned) criteria, which means we compete against increasing numbers of younger people with newer qualifications, fresher skills, and other qualities that employers very reasonably seek for such work.

People at 50/60/older are the wisest of all workers. Immensely powerful. These people can do things that younger people simply cannot – and many of these qualties are pivotally important in organizations and markets (although many employers are yet to appreciate this).

In later life we tend to ignore – or not realise our relevance/value to – the higher needs of employers and the work markets, for which older people are much better qualified.

When we are older we are wiser. We are stronger, more patient, more understanding; more caring and giving. Our life experience transcends any sort of job experience. We have a worldly view and strategic appreciation of issues – especially of organizations and people (staff, colleagues, customers, suppliers, stakeholders, etc) – that younger people simply cannot possess (even if they have been through some very tough life experiences and emerge well from them).

Erik Erikson’s Life-Stage Theory refers significantly to the ‘generative’ and ‘integrity’ life-stages of the older person – where qualities of humanity and compassion, wisdom and meaning feature more strongly than in younger years. The Erikson model is a very powerful lens though which to consider the mix of ages that a healthy organization needs. (

Employers and the work markets need these wise transcendent deep human qualities very much. And increasingly nowadays.

These qualities are actually beyond normal value. These qualities can help transform organizations and markets and societies, in all sorts of ways.

Emotional maturity and wisdom, and many related qualities that older people posses, are critical needs and usually big gaps in organizations and markets, especially where big changes are happening. (And big changes are growing bigger, and coming faster than ever.)

Senior strategic transformational roles in organizations and markets – let’s call them ‘vision and wisdom’ roles – in any context, demand people who possess these qualities.

Employers especially cannot find such people/qualities easily, or at all; and this is not made easier because most older people do not position themselves as having these qualities.

Most older people still position themselves as 30-40s workers – rather like children, when employers and markets are desperate for grown-ups, for their crucial high level work – for all sorts of work, where wisdom, vision, and deeper human qualities make differences, enable improvements, and avert disasters, of vast scale and commercial value.

In short, generally people in their 50-60s/older can operate at a much higher and deeper level of organizational/systemic quality than younger people.

In practice this requires a radical rethink of self, CV, and what we might offer to employers and the markets when we are older.

We must also consider when we ‘sell’ ourselves to an employer or market – as when selling anything – that we must educate the buyer, and this applies especially in the way we rethink our personal qualities and what we offer, and present them on a CV or online application, and especially at interview, when older people can help educate younger decision-makers and executives.

The CV of a 50-60s/older person must therefore emphasise his/her higher-order deeper human qualities of wisdom and vision, etc., much more strongly than mere job skills and experience and other common operator-level features found in typical 30-40s CVs and job specifications/adverts.

And at times – especially if the recruiter is less than 50 years old – older candidates probably should explain what happens to organizations if they rely only on young people to understand and manage issues of major scale/risk/opportunity….. something falls over, or a wheel falls off, or an obvious catastrophic mistake is made – obvious to a 50/60s/older person, but hidden to a youngster. 

Think about it.. think about if you were recruiting for the most senior work role in any organisation, or market – what qualities in the candidate would you want? Not recent qualifications or youthfulness, or mastery of a particular technical discipline, that’s for sure. You’d want wisdom, patience, human life experience, and all the other stuff that only older people possess.

The start of any change is understanding what you actually have, and what is actually needed.

More than ever, the world’s markets need people who can work in very wise and humanistic ways.

If you are 50-60s/older, looking for new work, and thinking that all the jobs are being given to the youngsters, then perhaps revisit your CV, and your self-image. Markets and employers are desperate for what you have.

So, realise… that if you are 50s/60s/older, you now have these rare qualities to make differences far beyond your the roles of the past, and that the future is more exciting (and much better paid) than you can dream.


My thanks to Lance for prompting and reminding me to make this article available. It’s part of bigger work/writings in progress for the free ethical work/life/leadership educational website, and The Festival of Life and Death, which is a movement for a world without suicide, and all implied by this ( Thanks and love to all, Alan Chapman


Posted in employment, Personal | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Cover Reveal – Embers (Short Stories)

Trent's World (the Blog)

book cover for Embers

Yes, I have another book in the works, a book of short stories.  I call it “Embers“.  One of the short stories is Embers, which was actually named from a #writephoto challenge by Sue Vincent.  That story is in five parts, with the first being written for the challenge.  And, of course, each short story can be thought of as an ember, a little nugget of imagination packaged up in a self-contained short story, ready to burst into flames in your mind.

See that picture at the top of the page?  Yep, that is the book cover.  Maybe 😉  I’m doing my own cover again, so it is possible it will be tweaked as time goes on.  It should be pretty close to the above, though.

I am currently shooting for a December 4th release date.  Just in time for Christmas 😉

View original post 85 more words

Posted in Personal | 1 Comment

The Weekly Smile – 10/15/2018 – Welcome Back! #weeklysmile

There is too much bad news and negativity floating around in the ether these days. Sharing something lovely from our lives, no matter how small, can only have a positive effect on those around us.

Trent's World (the Blog)


On the 13th of September, 2017,  I posted the last Weekly Smile.  It was a long run –  88 of The Weekly Smile plus a month of The Daily Smile.  That post was the last, that is, for the first run of The Smile.

Guess what?

The Weekly Smile is back!

I thought a lot about what I was going to make this first post about.  I have had many smiles over the last week or two.  I visited family, saw my siblings and parents.  I finished a couple of large projects at work and am finally starting one I’ve been waiting for for almost two years.  I got out and did things outside.  I met some writing goals.  There is a lot to smile about!

But for this one, I decided to Smile about smiling. 🙂

View original post 490 more words

Posted in Personal | 2 Comments

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

Perfect Remains (D.I. Callanach, #1)Perfect Remains by Helen Sarah Fields
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For me, this book proved to be quite extraordinary. It put me into a turmoil. Several times, as I read the first few chapters, I was on the verge of giving up on it. So much of what I was reading seemed ridiculous to me. It was just not credible.

However, I persevered and I urge you, dear reader, to do the same. The second half of the book was a huge improvement on the first, and the final few chapters had a pace and tension that really gripped my attention.

By chapter three, I was struggling to justify a one-star rating. When I got to about six chapters from the end, I had convinced myself that it deserved three stars and I’d revised my rating again by the time I finished.

Without giving too much away, let me tell you a few things that almost made this my third DNF: Did Not Finish.

Some of the journey times are absurd. Soaking a body in accelerant, “marinating”, wouldn’t mean that all tissue would be destroyed in a fire even if the peat floor of the bothy were to burn. The large stones in the foundations of the walls shift in the fire, yet a small piece of fabric is perfectly preserved because it is under a rock and starved of oxygen.

When Dr King, the perpetrator, declared in chapter two so this is not a spoiler, drives from near to Braemar (one hour in a 4WD) to Edinburgh in just two hours, he stops to drink tepid tea from his flask. His reason is that he wants to avoid being spotted on CCTV in any of the cafes. There are lots of cafes near to the A9 which don’t have CCTV. However, the road is lined with ANPR cameras. Everybody’s movement is monitored.

How the Dr King manages to lug dead bodies around when he is nowhere near the peak of physical fitness, is beyond me. It gets worse. He manages to source a barrel full of sodium hydroxide in which he dissolves a body. He takes the full barrel, in his car and on a trolley, to a warehouse in Grantham. Furthermore, he doesn’t spill a drop. He must be a world champion power-lifter. He wouldn’t even be able to lift it on his own!

The introduction of Franco-Scot Detective Inspector Luc Callanach to the story is completely nuts! He arrives in Edinburgh from Interpol. His first briefing with all of the team focuses on his fear that they’ll take the piss out of his accent – and they do – aggressively. His DS falls out with him immediately. THEN he takes a DS and 2 DCs off their current workload because Grampian police think that some bones that they’ve found MIGHT belong to a missing person from Edinburgh because one of the police officers recognises the preserved fragment of scarf as matching a detail of the mispers description that he has read. How likely is that?

Luc doesn’t even check in with his boss to ask if it’s OK to take half the team away. When he gets there, having driven all the way to Braemar, which would take three hours and then a further one hour in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, the pathologist and two from forensics are there on site waiting for him – why? The charred bones are in Aberdeen, an hour and a half away. The roof of the bothie collapsed, so it must have taken them days to get to the bones and the piece of scarf.

The Edinburgh team find a B&B to stay in. The next day, Luc goes to Aberdeen and back, then decides that they’ll all go back to Edinburgh. That only takes two hours.

However, the forensic side of the story, especially the DNA tracing, is all very authentic.

From half way through, the story picks up both in pace and atmosphere. The characters and their relationships develop very well. Once the momentum built, I just couldn’t put it down.

I would recommend Perfect Remains to any of my friends who like crime fiction with the proviso that they should be prepared to grit their teeth as they wade through the first fifty or sixty pages.

View all my reviews

Posted in Book review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment