Close this search box.


Christmas Cactus by Brad Braune, 1981

This year has taken many of us down the rabbit hole, and we are wondering when it will be safe to poke our heads above ground and get our lives back. I wave to neighbors, text and zoom with friends and attend church online, but the only living being I see face-to-face is Annie, and she can be a handful. Adorable but a handful.

I have missed all of you. Every day I work on my memoir, and it leaves little time for anything else, but I wanted to touch base, today, and wish all of you love and good health this holiday season.

I have also included a passage from my memoir and some holiday gifts you might enjoy.

Since Covid began many of us are spending more time at home. Statistics say we are also spending more money on our homes than we are on clothes. Online I found a hanging light fixture I’d like for my bedroom, but since I need an electrician to come in and hang it, I passed on it. LOL! Crazy, right?

Here are a few things you might like to give yourself this holiday season. Remember the profile I did on my friend, Tara Shaw, the New Orleans based designer and antique importer? Her home is without a doubt the most beautiful home I have had the privilege of visiting, and her new book, Soul of the Home: Designing with Antiques, is a reflection of her style.

Tara’s book is filled with luscious photographs of not only her own home, but of other design projects from her portfolio. On each page Tara includes tips and take away ideas and explains how to choose antiques and mix them with pieces you already own, and if you like to hunt for antiques, she has also revealed her favorite places to shop. I wish HGTV would give Tara her own show. She’s fun and great on camera and viewers would love her.

If you like wallpaper you might appreciate “de Gournay: Hand-Painted Interiors,” but this isn’t your grandmother’s wallpaper. It’s hand-painted wallpaper with fabrics to match. While most of us can’t afford something so extravagant, it is a great source of inspiration.

If your family likes to do puzzles over the holidays you might enjoy this enchanting puzzle from French artist, “Nathalie Lete: In the Dark Garden,”

or Matt Hranek’s photograph of “Iconic Watches” which includes everything from everyday watches to Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona.

Speaking of watches and telling time, I keep wondering how Annie learned to tell time? I didn’t teach her, but she knows when it’s time to eat, and she plops herself down in front of me with her bowl in her mouth incase I have forgotten.

@Brenda Ray Coffee, 2020, a passage from my memoir.

Outside on the freeway I see never-ending rows of glittering red taillights, together with pairs of white headlights, traveling in the opposite direction. It’s almost hypnotic the way the first row of lights disappear over the crest of the horizon while others seamlessly take their place. Where is everyone going this time of night? I imagine some of them are couples–coming back from a party or the movies–who would be shocked if they knew what was happening in the Spy House on the Hill. Tens of thousands of people pass by here every day, and at one time or another, most of them have wondered who lives here. I’ve met strangers on airplanes to Albuquerque and Atlanta and on the beaches in Belize and the Bahamas who’ve heard stories about my home and yet, this infamous house, on the highest hill in South Texas, is the perfect place to do most anything in plain sight without being seen.

If I told the people on the freeway that my house has a personality as real as their own, they would think I was crazy, but I’m not. The walls know what is happening here, and they’re not surprised. They were waiting for us. The house welcomed us and seduced us. It made us feel removed from the rest of the world like we were living in our own country. But this world, the one on top of the hill at Judson Road and IH-35, rotates on another axis.

Please leave me a note and tell me how you are!

For everyone who is feeling weary of 2020, for everyone who needs a lifeline and a light at the end of the tunnel… You may not believe in God, but what if you ask Him for strength and help? We have a long way to go before we are out of the dark, and it’s even darker if you’re walking alone. And for everyone who first wants proof there is a God… That’s why it’s called faith.

Share this Story

Hi Girlfriends,

I’m proud to say that 1010ParkPlace™ has been voted one of the Top Ten Blogs for women over 50: the best-educated, wealthiest, most powerful demographic in history.

Here you will get a glimpse into the lives of other women, learn how they handled things life put in their path like divorce, the death of a spouse, serious health issues, low self-esteem, addiction and how to reinvent yourself after a major life change. You will find like-minded women and relevant conversations about finances, fashion, sex, books, music, films and food. We feature interviews with inspiring women along with straight-talk and bold conversations to reawaken your passions and make life count.

Brenda’s Blog has between a 58.4% and a 68.7% click thru rate, which is unheard of. My readers tell me it’s because I’m sassy and transparent, they trust me and no topic is off limits.

Tell your girlfriends, sisters and coworkers about 1010ParkPlace. We have lots of exciting interviews planned and stay tuned for updates about my memoir! 

#WhereStyleIsAgeless   #MakeLifeCount   #WhatAreYouWaitingFor


  1. Hello Brenda, I live in the U.K. and enjoy receiving your 1010 Park Place emails. Love the passage from your memoir, the thought of watching the world go by from a distance….. Look forward to reading the finished item! Enjoy Christmas. xx

  2. Hello Brenda!
    This is the first time I’ve received your blog. I truly enjoyed reading all of it and exploring the attached articles. I was especially interested in the article on Apathy. I am alone and Covid has just isolated me further. I’m now motivated to reach out WAY more!! Thank you for the information!! I am truly blessed and it’s high time I realized it!
    Sending Love to you fir the holidays!

    • Dear Sharon, I’m grateful you discovered something here in my blogs that helped you. I, too, am alone… accept for my dog, Annie, so I know how isolating it can be. I’m staying home, doing my best not to go out except for a needed doctor’s appointment or to pickup my mail. I agree that we’re so blessed. As you reach out more, don’t let your guard down about Covid. Be safe and smart. I haven’t even gotten together with friends because their idea of being safe is VERY different than mine. I hope to see you here, again. Happy Holidays! xoxox, Brenda

  3. I couldn’t sleep and have been up since 5am and your holiday message was a pleasant email to open up and read on a slow Saturday morning with my tea.

    Merry Christmas from Boise, Idaho!

  4. Wishing you the blessings of good health ~ physical & mental, the relationships with friends, the love of an adorable pupper, and last but far from least….the strength you gain from your faith. Merry Christmas my dear friend.

  5. Always happy to get another glimpse of your book. It certainly has been a difficult year. I feel very fortunate to live in a part of Canada where are numbers are very low. Still people wear masks and social distance. You will see the few that don’t get social distancing which bothers me to no end….. Having said all that we only go out when we absolutely have to.
    Wishing you a good Christmas Brenda. Trusting that the New Year will be a better one. By the way, I love that picture of Annie with her bowl!
    Take care

    • Hi Jeannette!! I know what you mean about people who don’t wear masks, or they wear them over their mouth but not their nose. What are they thinking? You’re lucky to live in a part of Canada where the numbers are low. I’m in San Antonio, Texas, and our numbers have been climbing since the end of November. Kind of scary. You mentioned the picture of Annie… LOL! She is sitting at my feet with her bowl. Merry Christmas and take care! xoxox, Brenda

  6. Brenda: What a nice way to start this day! I was so happy to see your post, I can’t wait for your memoir but even more importantly, can’t wait for you to start posting on a regular basis. You are a ray of sunshine and I for one have missed you. I am wishing you a Merry Christmas and a healthy and safe New Year. We will all get through this we just have to hang tough. Stay safe!!

    • Hi Deborah! I was so excited to write a blog this week because I hoped I would hear from some of you, and I have! You’ve made my day! I miss writing regularly, but it takes a different writing skill from writing a memoir, and it takes me out of my groove. Working hard to finish it so I can return. Merry Christmas!! xoxox, Brenda

  7. LOVELY to hear from YOU!
    Sounds like ANNIE is taking good care of you……………
    Thrilled to hear you are writing away during this time!
    Yes!Let’s MOVE FORWARD and say CIAO TO 2020!!!
    My dog passed on the third and its been a little too quiet around here!I shall miss WINSTON he was my constant companion!
    Banksy has taken a liking to the TAFFETA tablecloth and pulling it towards his bed…………..would you think I’m crazy if I said this is his way of MOURNING?Don’t answer THAT!

    • Dear Elizabeth, I am sorry to hear about Winston. He’s been your longtime friend and family member and you and Banksy are both grieving. I’m not at all surprised Banksy is finding things to comfort him. Sending you and the Italian lots of love, Brenda

  8. As always I truly enjoy everything you write about. I think because I really enjoy my alone time 2020 has not been so bad. I find myself doing lots of creative things I never gave my self permission to do before the world slowed down. 2021 is like a Christmas package waiting to be unwrapped for me. So many possibilities.
    I hope you have a wonderful holiday and that Annie brings you some comfort as we face a year end without being surrounded by our family and friends . Wishing you Love snd Joy my friend❤️

    • Hi Sweet Friend! Thanks for being my cheerleader about my writing! I appreciate you so much. I haven’t minded being alone, either. Perhaps because I was an only child and have always worked at home, plus this Christmas will be 10 years since my husband died, so being alone is familiar to me. It’s great you have some creative outlets. I don’t know what I would do without them. Love the way you said “2021 is a Christmas package waiting to be opened.” Let’s hope it’s something we want, and if not, we do our best to make it so. Love, Brenda

  9. I’m happy to see your blog today, Brenda. I’ve been bored, I’ve been angry, but get my peace and hope from God. It helps that I’m an introvert. Your memoir sounds intriguing and I can’t wait to learn what was going on in the Spy House. Please have a peaceful and safe holiday season.

    • Dear Miss Colleen!!! So happy to see you here! I know exactly what you mean by it helps that you’re an introvert, because I am one as well. Do you like puzzles? They might be something that would engage you and keep you from being bored. I’m thinking about ordering one of them, but I spend too much time writing. I fear the puzzle would sit on my dining room table until next Christmas. Thanks for encouraging me with my writing. I need that, especially since writing is a solitary thing, and we don’t know until we’re done how it will be received. Take care of yourself and Happy Holidays! xoxox, Brenda

    • You’re my cheerleader, Hilda! Thanks so much for encouraging me with my writing. I am plugging the holes in my second draft. Working diligently! Merry Christmas! xoxox, Brenda

  10. You have such a lovely way with words, Brenda! Loved the passage from your book, keep going, I’m soooo looking forward to reading it. Very glad Annie is keeping you company – she’s a hoot. I/we miss you and look forward to seeing you soon.
    Wishing you Happy Holidays, in spite of the corona virus. As you know, there’s always “something” to be happy about! XO Donna

    • Donna, Yes. We both have so much to be grateful for. I think of you both from time to time and look forward to being together again. Merry Christmas and give that sweet man a hug from me. Love, Brenda

  11. So happy to see your blog today, Brenda! Often I scroll thru some of your older posts and they always entertain, inspire, teach, or remind me of something.
    I do not know how people can get thru chaotic times without Faith. HE is my lifeline. I ask for grace and strength every morning and I know
    it’s what keeps me from falling too deep in that rabbit hole. Your Annie looks like a delightful companion.
    Have a peaceful, blessed and happy Christmas season!

    • Carol I’m equally as happy to see you, today! You’re right that our faith keeps us tethered and from falling too far into the rabbit hole. I don’t know what I would do without it. Thanks for letting me know you continue to find things on my blog you like to read and that entertain and teach you things. That’s very gratifying for me, so thank you! Merry Christmas to you! xoxox, Brenda

  12. What a present to wake up and read your message this morning. It’s always a pleasure to read what you write. And I love your ‘Christmas gifts’ selections. I just bought the Antiques Book as a gift to myself. Can’t wait to dig in…
    Looking forward reading your book when it comes out.
    Have a safe and peaceful Christmas.
    Here’s to 2021.

    • Hi Judy! I get as much joy from reading your comments as you do from reading my blogs, so thank you!!! I appreciate you! Good for you for buying yourself a Christmas gift. I always know I’ve chosen a great gift for someone when I want it myself. Thanks for your interest in my book as well. Merry Christmas! Brenda

  13. Hi Brenda! So happy to hear from you and that you are busy writing! Love the photo of Annie with her bowl. I don’t know what I would do without my dog Oscar!
    Hope to see you in New York sometime soon after we are all safe to travel and see friends!

    • Susanna!!! Must be ESP! It wasn’t but a week or so ago I was thinking about the day you called and we spent hours, I think, on the phone. We should catch up again that way, because with Covid, I’m not sure when I’ll get your way again! I hope you’re happy and well. Sending Lots of Love, Brenda

  14. First time commenting, but I had to! Your advice to look to God is spot on. It has been my faith that has gotten me through this difficult year. I enjoy reading your posts and look forward to your book. Thank you!

    • I’m delighted you decided to leave me a note, Teri. Thank you! It’s great to hear from you and know you are a woman of faith as well. And thank you for your encouragement and support about my book. I appreciate you!! Be safe where you are. Wishing you a Merry Christmas. xoxox, Brenda

  15. Hi Brenda! I always enjoy your posts and look forward to reading your memoir. My husband and I are moving to Lake Travis next year. A big change but a welcome one. I look forward to meeting you someday! Merry Christmas, Annette

    • Annette, Seriously? Oh, my stars! What a huge change that will be for you and your husband. I seem to remember you were thinking about making a change when the last of your children left for college. You’re coming to a great place! Yes! We must meet!!! Merry Christmas! xoxox, Brenda

  16. So happy to find your post in my email! Keep writing…a house named the Spy House on the Hill is very intriguing.

    Annie with her bowl is adorable! My Chihuahuas just come and stare at me when it’s time to eat.

    A person without faith is fighting a losing battle. I may not always like what is going on in the world but I know Who is in charge and Who wins in the end. We have found lots of good sermons and lessons YouTube.

    Happiest of the the season’s holidays to you!

    • Wonderful to hear from you Donna! Thank you! I could write an entire book around the Spy House on the Hill. I lived there for 34 years, and it was life changing, good and bad. May God keep you safe and well, and here’s to a better 2021. Love, Brenda

  17. Things aren’t the same without your thoughtful uplifting posts to reset me mentally. You have a way of writing that cheers me up and I would love to meet you one day. Take care Brenda. We love you and are waiting for your book.

    • Oh! What a great post to read this morning! Thank you, Barbara for your support. Hopefully the world will return to normal and in the best of worlds my book is published, and I meet you at a book signing! Take care, sweet lady! xoxox, Brenda

  18. Dearest Brenda, it was such a delight to see you had posted and to read your blog. Thank you for reaching out to us in this joyous season! Just seeing your emails come and reading your posts is a delicious treat; it cheers and warms my soul. Thank you for doing this and being that bright, cheerful spot for so many of us!

    I loved the picture of Annie! She’s hilarious, and a perfect comfort to have through this isolation. (I’m so thankful you have her! Such a sweet gift from the Lord.) Crazy that pets know the time. I always wondered how they knew. Perhaps like people did before clocks — where the sun is, or something we could take as a matter of course if we lived without all of the busyness pulling at us and paid attention to what is right before us.

    Well, the Lord has been gracious and we sold our house (umm, fast and for more than we expected. The Lord brought so many people that it made the news and created a red ‘traffic jam’ line on Google maps. We were selling it as a flip (!!) but we ended up selling it for more than the appraisal value. TOTALLY God. Sure, it’s a great location and it has our 30 year old pecan trees (that I will miss so much!), but it was clearly God blessing.) and are moving about 20 minutes north of where we are to a place with less traffic, and a more ‘get to know your neighbors’ feel, and unexpected luxuries we wouldn’t have asked for. We will be moving my mom in with us (finally), and our daughter (who lives with Mom now) will have an apartment on her own. (She’s engaged, but had never lived alone so wants to try it out for a year. This is another story on its own.) Prayers appreciated as we make our final push to clear out and pack almost 35 years of stuff –oh my word!! — and get it over to our new place after the first of the year. And for Mom and us as we make the transition. She’s the most independent person I’ve ever known, and (at almost 87) is still driving in San Antonio (!) but on her own said she thinks she won’t be driving when she moves here as things will be further away and she won’t know the way to stores, etc.. (That is God at work right there as we expected to pull her car keys from her cold, dead fingers!) Still the transition to loss of control (although elusive in reality) is HUGE for her. We’re trying to give her the space and autonomy so she can live independently while in a safe place where we can help and support her. Please pray for God’s grace for all of us.

    Brenda, your writing is beautiful and as seductive as the Spy House on the Hill! I can’t wait to read more. So intriguing. That portion almost sounds a little creepy. Can’t remember at the moment, but was that the house the visitors ran out of in the middle of the night saying they would not be back due to the presences of the ‘women?’ The rotating on another axis was a perfect way to convey your meaning! Seriously, you are so gifted as a writer (and photographer) and I can’t wait to buy your book! Thank you for working so diligently on it. I have a feeling it will only be the first. Your publisher and your readers will simply want more! Just saying! But we all will be so thankful when you’re able to return to your blog as your posts are so refreshing. And the Lord is using you so sweetly to reach out and minister to so many. As your sister in Christ, I love seeing Him use you! Thank you for your faithfulness.

    Thank you for the treats you always bring, focusing on beauty, peace, love, and joy! You bring refreshment in so many ways. I’m grateful for the way you’ve helped so many through the isolation and am grateful for the wisdom you’ve shared for thriving. I pray you and Annie have a lovely and very merry Christmas, and a safe, healthy, and happy 2021! (Lord, 2021 — please!!) May the Lord continue to grace you increasingly with His presence and peace. Looking forward to hearing more from you in both blog and book in 2021!

    Much love,

  19. Oh, Beckye! You sure know how to dig deep and tug at my heart. I read your note and cried. Then I stepped away and came back read it again and cried some more. I’m overjoyed and grateful to hear from you and for the update about your family. You mentioned some time ago you were thinking about moving and having your mother come live with you, so I’m happy to hear it has all worked out as it should. What a big change for all of you.

    I understand about the keys in your mother’s hands. It was the day after Christmas and I was in Dallas, packing to move mother (about 87 as well) to be close to me. There was an ice storm outside, and without telling her, I slipped her keys into my purse. She was already pretty far down the dementia road and forgot why I was there. When she couldn’t find her keys, she slugged me in the Adam’s Apple, opened my purse, found her keys and headed out the door. By the time she got down the elevator in her apartment building, she forgot where she was going and came back upstairs and threw her keys in my face. It was traumatic for both of us. You already know this, but independence is the first thing we fight for… learning to walk and say “no,” and towards the end of our life it is the last thing we want to give up. I know you will be guided to say and do the right things. Hopefully your mother can find a friend at your church so she has interests outside of you and your husband.

    Yes, the Spy House on the Hill was the same place our friend left… fled is a more accurate word… in the middle of the night and he refused to come back or talk about it. It was a magnificent house and already legendary when we moved there. Thank you for your sweet words about my writing. I’m eager to finish it and hope to find an agent and a publisher who likes it. It is like no other memoir I have ever read. You can’t categorize it or put it in a box.

    All of you will be in my prayers. Don’t knock yourselves out with Christmas and getting ready to move, and please don’t let your Covid guard down. Take care, sweet lady! I love you! Brenda

  20. Merry Christmas, Brenda! It’s been a heck of a year! I try to look at the silver lining but it’s been a really challenging year besides COVID in our family. I’ve got a big birthday in 2021 and I’m so glad I have you and others to show what life as an “elder” can be like! You are such an inspiration. I’d love more information and writing from you on your typical day: how you stay motivated (but not “too motivated”, if you know what I mean), how you stay organized, how you keep up with friendships, family and how you keep healthy and in shape. Blessings to you and have a wonderful celebration of the birth of Christ the Savior!

    • What a lovely note, Cat! Thank you! We can only pray 2021 will treat us better and hang on to our faith in God. My day… LOL! Every night I make a list of the things I need to do or want to accomplish the next day and put *** stars next to the ones I MUST do. That doesn’t mean I always get through everything on my list, but I try. My diagnosis of breast cancer in 2004 has motivated me to workout and eat right in hopes that it doesn’t return, but if I’m to be very honest, it was a comment a high school girlfriend made when we were 17. That summer I was miserable at home and gained 20 pounds and the girlfriend called me “Brenda Big Butt.” After high school I vowed the next time she saw me, I would look sensational, and I did. It was at our first high school reunion. She doesn’t know it but she’s the one who really motivated me to “keep my figure” as my mother used to say. Now, all these years later, she is obese and an alcoholic and she still makes unkind digs at me. I have a treadmill and do a mile every day. It only takes 20 minutes and I watch videos on my iPad while I’m on it and the time passes quickly. After the treadmill I do some stretching and weights while I listen to podcasts or my music playlist. I have 16 hours of music on there, so it takes a long time before I hear the same song again. Blessings to you and your family as well, Cat! xoxox, Brenda

  21. Happy happy new year dear Brenda! It’s New Year’s Day and I am catching up on emails and loved reading your post! Best wishes for good health and peace in this new year. xo Elaine

Comments are closed.


Sign up to our list and we’ll send you our sought-after guide “50 Ways To Change Your Life”
I'm happy you've joined us! If you like what you read, I'd love for you to stay and subscribe to our updates by email. We have a great community of like-minded women, and your presence can only make it stronger.