Personal charm

Jeff snapped this photo of Maggie and me at La Madeleine, Old Town Alexandria, July 2013.

Jeff took this photo of Maggie and me at La Madeleine, Old Town Alexandria, July 2013.

“There is no personal charm so great as the charm of a cheerful temperament.” 
Henry Van Dyke

I’ve written here before about my friend Maggie and her family, and the happy memories I have of them that go back forty years — it’s hard for me to believe we first met in 1974!  Obviously, there’s a lot I love about her, but if I had to name one defining trait that sets her apart, it’s her ability to maintain and radiate a genuinely cheerful attitude.

As one might imagine, those years have given me countless opportunities to see Maggie in all kinds of situations.  Like all of us, she has faced her share of challenging circumstances, but I can’t remember a time when she was not able to muster a sense of humor about whatever was going on.  She’s quite practical and realistic, so her congeniality isn’t based on delusion or denial.  I think she simply discovered long ago that a sincere smile or a hearty laugh can go a long way toward improving almost any scenario.

Her upbeat demeanor is never more valuable than when she is helping others who are having some sort of difficulty, which is doubtless responsible for a good measure of her considerable professional success.  Because she’s keenly sensitive, she knows when to “weep with those who weep, and laugh with those who laugh.” But it seems that no matter what I’m facing, I end up feeling like laughing when I’ve spent some time with Maggie.

Being with such people is a sure way to defeat despair, so I hope you have at least one or two in your life who shine as brightly as Maggie shines in mine.  I also hope we can learn from them how to reflect and spread such cheerfulness.  The world can always use more of that kind of charm.

One year ago today:

One of the great helps


  1. raynard

    Julia after my childhood friend found me on facebook, this is what I found out. 1 both of our parents were from N.C. He still remembered the name of his dog that we got a puppy from. I now was humbled and “ate a dirt pie” and no longer say”All the people I grew up with are not around anymore. Just in the past few days, a young lady who’s mother was my mom’s best friend had kind word and memories about my mother. My childhood friend’s family, the young lady I mentioned family and our’s were all neighbors back in the 1960’s.. All I can say is thank you God for technology to be able to”reach out and touch someone”.. be blessed

    • Raynard, I agree! Not only has technology enabled us to make new friends all over the world, and showed us beautiful images of places we will never be able to visit in person, but it has also brought us back in touch with so many people we knew and loved many years ago. I have been so happy to be back in touch with childhood friends such as Connie, Lani, Beth and others! It’s like each one of us can be on the old 60’s show “This is your life” – I guess Andy Warhol was right about everyone having 15 minutes of fame!

  2. How blessed you both are with your friendship! Great photo of the two of you too! 🙂

    • Thank you M, this photo is one of the few that can make the cut for being posted online (the main criteria being, it has to make me look better than I really look in real life). Maggie, though, is even prettier in person. Without hearing her laugh you just can’t capture her completely! 🙂

  3. Carolyn

    Thanks for remembering me. I spent a lot of time outside yesterday, we had a beautiful day and it did help my spirit. Now today it is like the three litle pigs are out side trying to blow my house down. If we are out,we may need rocks in our pockets, but this is March. Please keep us up to date on Jeff and Matt. You all arealways in my prayers. Love to all.

    • Carolyn, I am glad you are feeling a bit better. Today Matt and I were coming home from a meeting and the wind was VERY gusty here too. In fact, I have a post for tomorrow about the March winds. I wrote it two weeks ago, but the timing will be just right for tomorrow! I know we will be keeping each other in prayer and counting down to our five-year survival party in 2017!

  4. sarvjit

    Your blog serves that purpose. It makes everyone smile. It gives a sort of lightness. Thank you for writing beauty! Keep smiling!

    • Thank you so much! That’s a wonderful compliment, and I really appreciate it. 🙂 I’m glad you are here with us!

  5. What a lovely post, Julia, and what joy to share life with such a friend. You both look so relaxed together.

    • Thanks Alys, laughter will do that for us. After all these years, Maggie and I have so many inside jokes that we almost have an esoteric vocabulary of our own with idioms that wouldn’t make sense to anyone else. It’s silly but fun.

      • Silly *is* fun. I love that.

        • Yes, I love being with Grady because he gives me a perfect excuse to be TOTALLY silly! 🙂 I want to take advantage of it before he’s old enough to be embarrassed by me.

  6. Sheila

    Julia, such a friendship (and the appreciation of it) is so special in all the ways you pointed out. My special friend, that I immediately thought of, sounds very much like your friend, Maggie. Our friendship is the result of our husbands being high school friends. We sorta “grew” on each other. I can’t remember an exact moment, but it has evolved into a treasured friendship. We have gone months without seeing each other (they live in Winston Salem) but we are never ever out of touch. Speaking of friends, when I count my blessings, I count you twice! 🙂

    • Sheila, I’m so happy to know you have a special friend that goes many years back with you. I think the best friendships are those that evolve over time and grow with the changes life brings. Friends add a dimension to life that is unlike any other joy. I count you twice too! Thanks for being here.

      • Sheila


  7. What a lovely photo of you & Maggie. You can tell from her face that she’s the sort of person you describe. You’re very lucky to have found such a friend.

    • Thank you! One of her college nicknames was “Bubbles” because she was so cheery and fun. I do feel fortunate to have her in our lives.

  8. MaryAnn

    YOU are one of the people in my you describe! You look fabulous! Your hair, your face, your smile, your clothes, your jewelry: you & Maggie must have spread a lot of joy & beauty that day! Thank you, Jeff, for being the photographer…

    • Mary Ann, Maggie is the one who taught me most of what I know about how to wear make-up and accessorize, so naturally I have to play “dress up” a bit when I’m with her! When I got to college I was a nerdy type who didn’t pay much attention to any of that. After a year of living in the same suite with Maggie, my mother’s friend asked her if she was sending me to beauty school. 🙂 I guess I am just a VERY late bloomer.

  9. Awwww, what a beautiful post Julia. Your Maggie sounds wonderful, how beautiful to have shared such a long friendship. These type of friendships are so precious. Kind people drift in and out of our lives often but the extraordinarily special ones always are to be coveted. You look just gorgeous in this photo BTW. I love your dress with the sweet piping around the arms and neck line and your perfectly matching necklace. How ever did you manage that? What a good find. Here’s to special friends!! Cheers

    • Maggie is indeed a jewel – one in a million. I actually made that bead necklace to go with the dress, but I meant to wear the gold chain beneath the dress (I never take it off, always wear it with one of two pendants Jeff has given me) and it somehow sneaked out. Believe it or not, that outfit is at least 12 years old; I remember buying it in CA before we moved from there, and wearing it when we first took Drew to college in 2002. I told you I have a hard time throwing anything away!

      • Well made clothes are timeless, I would never had guessed. You look very poised and just down right adorable 😀

        • 🙂 Thank you so much!

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