first image


Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

A Back to School List with a Little Something Extra by Fran Joyce


I remember back to school shopping for my sons. New backpacks, pens, mechanical pencils and pencil lead, some over the top calculator, erasers, paper, markers crayons, paper, protractor, 3 ring binders and those little white adhesive reinforcement labels to prevent the holes in the paper from ripping (which they always did). The list was always huge.  They needed new shoes, and I could always count on a few trips to American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap and Banana Republic. Those were the popular stores back then. I won’t even mention the sports equipment or the laptops which I know were used as much for music and movies on the hockey bus as they were for English and Calculus.

For the college years, bedding, linens, shampoo, body wash, razors and snacks. Once they moved from a dorm room to an apartment, we added dishes, glassware, pots and pans and cleaning supplies. You laugh, but it’s easier to clean or get someone else to clean when you have the right products. And (this is a Biggy) toilet paper. My sons were embarrassed when Mom grabbed the mega-roll pack, but they were heroes when their roommates forgot to bring TP and the rolls in the bathroom were empty on move in day. A lot of these things you can spare from your own kitchen, or pick up at yard sales and thrift/dollar stores.

There are dozens of other items that might be on your back to school list…gift cards, emergency credit card, car. It depends on your budget and your idea of how much you should do for your kid(s) versus how much they should do for themselves. As long as you have covered the essentials, they’ll figure out what they need and learn to make do with what they have.

Beyond material things, I’d like to pass along a few qualities we should teach our kids to help them have a great school year and a happy life.

Hall of Fame hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  Call me crazy, but that’s brilliant. Let your kids know it’s okay to miss the mark a few times as long as they keep trying.

Hall of Fame Basketball great Michael Jordan was once cut from his high school basketball team, but he didn’t give up and didn’t let one failure define him.

“In a world where you can be anything…be kind” I’m not sure who said it first, but versions of these words appear in some of the oldest books in existence. We all need to hear this and we need to know we are also supposed to be kind to ourselves. Treat yourself with respect and it’s easier to treat others with respect.

“Dead people receive more flowers than the living because regret is stronger than gratitude.” Anne Frank. Let that sink in for a moment. We all make mistakes and we all have regrets, but we do not have to be consumed by regret. Stop and think. Is what I’m doing kind? It’s that simple. Most of us never regret an act of kindness.

And finally after all my advice, “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens,” Jimi Hendrix. Make sure your kids know you will always be there to listen without always trying to solve all their problems.

Photos of Michael Jordan, Anne Frank and Jimi Hendrix are in the public domain.

Wayne Gretzky photo:

By Kris Krüg, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Do Detoxifying Juice Cleanses Really Work? by Lisa Beilman

The August Poetry Quiz