Mommy Musings

About Kristine Bruneau

Hi. I'm passionate about writing and inspiring others with storysharing. For more than 20 years, I've made a career from writing and marketing communications. My commentaries, stories, and interviews have appeared in a variety of publications, including "Rochester Magazine,", "Rochester Democrat and Chronicle," "Rochester Woman Magazine" and "DaKa Magazine." I post fun and insightful lessons to and at And I'm working on a book inspired by these lessons and their resulting conundrums.

Why we need rituals


tree blazeRituals are often thought of as familiar ceremonies like baptisms, weddings, and funerals. But I like the idea that any act or symbolic behavior, when performed regularly, can be called a ritual.

Rituals can be as simple as walking the dog, making coffee, playing a game, or writing in a journal. You can share a ritual with others or alone, in a special place or out in the open. The point is you can choose something, anything and declare the time spent holy.

Rituals are not just abstract ideas or expressions; they affect your world. 

Several years ago, I participated in a discussion course from Northwest Earth Institute with a group of women called Healthy Children Healthy Planet. We didn’t know each other. We were mothers who came from different backgrounds, religions, and ideologies. Some of us were working moms, others stayed at home. We were vegan, vegetarian, and omnivores. We acknowledged that we didn’t have all the answers, but we were willing to come together, open up, and listen. The weekly discussions enriched my life. And our conversations opened my eyes to new possibilities, especially when it came to rituals.

Incorporating rituals and celebrations into daily family life can be enriching. 

I think families, especially, can get the simple acts in life that are the most important rituals to us. I learned from my group discussions that I could take the most mundane rite or task in my life and make it more meaningful just by giving it presence of mind. After reading several articles on family rituals and celebrations, I considered the acts I performed regularly. Writing and snuggling with James came easily to mind. When James was a toddler, he would awake around 7 a.m., stumble into my upstairs office where I had been writing since 5 a.m., and climb into my lap. Together we snuggled for several minutes. James expected me to be there every morning at my desk writing – and I was. Those precious moments became a ritual for us.

The women in my group also shared their rituals, from game night, to telling stories in Spanish, and to having a “beast feast” (feeding the animals at Thanksgiving, instead of eating the animals).

“Anything can be a ritual if the family puts energy into making it meaningful. Ritual sanctifies time.” – Mary Pipher, author of “The Shelter of Each Other”

I realized that I had performed more rituals than I thought: having picnics in the family room with silly food, building a plastic animal zoo, chasing James around the house to catch and tickle him, and singing and dancing along to the “Bare Necessities” song from Disney’s “Jungle Book.”

I tried a few new rituals at home such as lighting a candle at dinner and then blowing it out and sharing what we were thankful for. James liked the candle-at-dinner ritual because it reminded him of birthday parties – without the presents.

Happy rituals make us happy.

I learned that all the rituals the women in my group shared were simple, meaningful, and connective. Performing rituals seemed to bring us happiness, and many everyday rituals are surprisingly effective.

Now that he’s 12, James doesn’t climb into my lap anymore, but when he’s willing, we snuggle on the couch or big chair to read together, or watch a movie. And James still likes me to chase him around the house with my minion Beck to capture, tackle, and tickle him. It lets us unwind from our day, and makes us happy.

Which rituals work best? 

It depends on you. Exploring a variety of rituals, and examining alternatives to elaborate celebrations and gifts can enrich a family’s experience. We can get happy by simply spending meaningful time with ourselves and our family.

What’s your ritual? Why do you need it? Why do you think it works? 

Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or send me a comment. You can also post a comment on my blog or Facebook.

Copywriter Karen LaFauci featured in

Karen LaFauci

Read about extraordinary copywriter and entrepreneur Karen LaFauci who has the “right stuff” to keep her  business running for more than 25 years. As owner and chief copywriter (she’s the only copywriter) of The Write Stuff, Karen believes she wouldn’t be where she is today without her supportive family.

One of my favorite stories from our interview that didn’t make the cut is when Karen admitted to “shooing” daughters Sara and Julia out of her office. “They’d pop in to say “hello” when I was midstream in writing a sentence, which made me crazy!” says Karen. “Now that they’ve reached adulthood, they really “get” it. They respect the fact that both of their parents are entrepreneurs, and they appreciate how much we were there for them when they were young.”

Check out the story on You can read a few additional life lessons from Karen right here!


Karen’s favorite quote is Ghandi’s “Be truthful, gentle, and fearless.” It’s autobiographical as well as inspirational. Here are a few lessons that Karen has to share.

It’s never too late to start a business. “Life’s too short to hate your work,” says Karen. “If you’re deeply passionate about something – don’t be afraid to hang out your shingle.”

On dealing with a difficult client: Not that any of her clients have been difficult, but Karen stresses the importance of handling clients diplomatically, especially in a tenuous situation. She says, “It’s best not to get defensive. Step back, take a deep breath, and listen.”

Write thank you notes! You don’t have to be a writer to write a thoughtful note or letter to someone who’s referred a new client, or handed you an important project. “An e-mail or text just doesn’t cut it,” says Karen. “Believe me, people notice and remember.”

Life’s too short to be unhappy.  Karens says its important to surround yourself with positive people and explore the world around you. One of Karen’s favorite things to do around Rochester is dinner and a movie at The Little with husband Peter, and she loves to take her Mini Cooper on day trips to the Finger Lakes.

Be good to yourself. Savor those rare down times you have in the inevitable cyclical nature of small business. Karen gives herself permission to take an extra yoga class, reconnect with a friend over a leisurely lunch, or catch up on the pile of books on her nightstand. “As a creative person, it’s really important to carve out time to recharge the mind and body.”

Read. Successful writers read everything. Karen regularly reads The Sunday New York Times, and has a tendency to rip out interesting articles to share with family and friends. She also reads lots of books. She recently finished “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri – her favorite author.  Now she’s into Ann Patchett’s “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage” a collection of short stories on writing.

Look to others for inspiration. “My late mom, Jean Bloom was diagnosed with non-smoker’s cancer of the larynx at age 78. By the time it was detected, she had to undergo a total laryngectomy. She bravely endured the radical surgery – not knowing she’d never speak again – and multiple rounds of intensive radiation. She may have lost her voice, but not her spirit, remaining physically and socially active until her death at 85.”

Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or send me a comment. You can also post a comment on my blog or Facebook.

Reflections on loss during a melancholy spring

melancholy cross

All changes, event the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves. – Anatole France

The spring I had longed for brought with it a veil of melancholy and new loss. Not only does it mark the first anniversary of my dear friend Karen’s death, but I lost another wonderful friend suddenly on March 17th. St. Patrick’s Day, ironically, was Karen’s favorite “holiday.”

“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.” – Richard Bach, “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah”

What if you don’t get a chance to say good-bye? I said good-bye to Karen because I knew the end was near, but I expected to see Tom and his wife Sarah again. In a matter of minutes, life changed. It’s hard to know what to say to someone who’s just lost their best friend, or husband, or daughter, or sister. It’s also hard to know how to comfort someone who’s just experienced loss.

“I’m sorry,” I said, barely choking out the words and hugged my friend Sarah at the funeral home. It was the best I could do. After that I was lost.

“There comes a time in any true professional’s career, in any good relationship, when it is not about what you know or what you do, it is simply about who you are.” – Daniel M. Meyers, President, Al Sigl Community of Agencies

Dan’s beautiful tribute to Karen last April continues to resonate with me. Karen made a difference with her quiet caring way and generous spirit. She made others care because of who she was; an all-around beautiful person who gave more than she took and died too young.

Like Karen, Tom made an impact on friends, family and colleagues. I remembered Tom’s stories, the firm tone of his voice, the ill-concealed glee in reporting on the misadventures of a mutual friend (both on and off the golf course). I sat with friends and talked about the good times we shared with Tom and captured our stories in a letter. I wrote the letter and gave it to Sarah after the funeral.

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it. – Mark Twain

I often turn to books to help me cope with something I’m struggling with. Books on grief, grieving, loss, death, inspiration, fiction, poetry, short stories, the Bible, and many, many more. Books comfort me, and talking about them helps me to understand how connected we are in this world. From time to time someone shares with me an online story or blog post.  My world opens up a bit more, deepening my understanding. Ride in a Good Direction is such a blog. It’s owner, Brett Hoefen, sadly is no longer with us, but his family leaves it on the web for curious souls to find.

Tears are the silent language of grief. – Voltaire

“The way to get through grief is to acknowledge it, let yourself experience it, allow yourself time and permission to accept it and incorporate the experience into your life,” says Janice Putrino, LMSW, Certified Journal Therapist, and founder and director of Writing for Wellness. My friend Janice’s mission is to teach individuals and groups how to use therapeutic writing to achieve wellness of body, mind and spirit. And she’s pretty darn good at it.

Writing through grief can be helpful for many people. There is no set time frame for each stage, yet grief is a process with three stages: shock, acceptance, and resolution. With time and support you can progress through these stages and incorporate the experience into your life. Some journaling techniques include:

  • Springboards – Refer to a list of questions to help you get started writing such as: How has loss changed you? How do you feel about those changes?
  • Unsent letter – Write a letter to a person that won’t be sent, but openly expresses your thoughts and feelings
  • Dialogue – Write both parts of a conversation you might have between you and your loved one
  • Captured moment – Describe in sensory detail a time in your life when you experienced great joy or despair
  • One year from today – What might your life look like one year from today?


Writing is not for everyone, says Janice, but “it’s important to find ways to release your emotions and deal with your stress. How you do this will positively impact your physical, mental and emotional wellness or wellbeing.”

I believe in the power of writing and journaling. But I also believe in the power of whacking a tennis ball, taking long walks, practicing yoga, laughing, talking, and celebrating. Celebrating the lives of people who meant so much to us in life is important, but doesn’t make the pain of losing them any easier.

After Karen’s funeral mass, friends and family gathered at her favorite Irish pub Mulconry’s in Fairport, NY and raised a glass in her honor. After Tom’s funeral mass we had lunch at a country club in Dansville, NY. In both cases, it felt like we were celebrating how well they lived their lives.  Collectively and separately, we remembered our friendships,  good times, plenty of stories, and all the little celebrations we shared; forever our treasures.

Sometimes it’s the simplest of words or acts that mean the most.

If you’re looking for something to say to someone who recently experienced loss, or is grieving, say something from your heart. I learned that it doesn’t have to be much more than, “I’m sorry.”

What helps you grieve? What comforted you in your grief?

Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or send me a comment. You can also post a comment on my blog or Facebook.