Life Is For The Living (Even When Your Legs Betray You!)

Updated on December 4, 2022

Today’s headline, Kravis Writers Academy gets started in January, gave me something to think about. I just might register, I thought. Then I went to the bathroom to comb my hair and prepare for today’s rituals and chores. As I brushed my teeth and washed my face I kept thinking about this Academy and declared to my reflection in the mirror, “Hell why not?” I’m old but so what! I always decided that I would work to my death and get the most out of life that I could, no matter how handicapped or financially strapped or physically impaired I was; that life was for the living and if I ever chose to sit back and watch grass grow, I would will myself to just die on the spot. Suddenly, I made the royal blunder retirees are told to avoid at all costs: I took a closer look at my face! 

 I still have vivid memories of my tedious grooming for the beach, dates and parties but for a long time now I no longer have to shave my legs or arms pits because no hair grew there anymore. I attributed that to the possibilities that my Newfoundland maternal grandmother’s bloodline might include native American. My cousins in Nova Scotia are still researching. However, there were little hints all my life but I never made any connection. Most of my mother’s twelve siblings sported deep set black eyes, high cheekbones, and darker skin than most Newfies. There were other hints I ignored too.

I remember when I was 11, the family moved to upstate New York. Whenever I could I escaped to the library to avoid my five older siblings, who were just living nightmares. That’s where I first read Squanto, a tale about a young Native American. I was enthralled and ever since then I loved the woods, parks, talking to animals, bows and arrows, collecting books and doing puzzles on native Americans. Then, when I was a young working adult in New York, the last three of my 10 siblings graduated high school and settled into their college life. This freed my mother to reunite with my father who was already working in Florida and eventually they retired there. One day, they went to the Old Indian Village shop and the old Chief behind the counter spotted my mom coming in with Dad, a Scot-Irish man with a shock of hair and big blue eyes. When the coast was clear, he whispered to Mom, “What are you doing with the White man?” For years we got a chuckle out of that moment and teased Dad endlessly. Then, I moved to Florida and waited tables to attend more college classes. I went to pow wows and Native American events where I purchased more feather earrings and beads that I wore under my work uniforms. I still never even considered that I had a drop of Native American blood. However, in hindsight, the accumulation of insignificant clues had reinforced that the possibility could actually be a reality. 

It was only until after I retired, I learned that my cousin in Nova Scotia told me that her sister was researching Grandma’s ancestry and a possible Native American background. Okay, now the pieces are coming together, I thought, and might account for the hairless legs that I religiously used to shave before shopping and hanging out on the beach when I was a young woman. But today, Unfortunately, I looked in the mirror and suddenly noticed that those hair follicles on my legs and in my armpits have retired, pulled up roots literally, move to my face and settled in where little radical tiny blonde and white hairs surfaced. I never had facial hair before. My legs and armpits betrayed me. The little traitors just moved out of town and camped out on my chin. That’s when I decided perhaps, I will not attend a writer’s class and perhaps, I am too old. I’m a nanny goat, for God’s sake! I would just be too embarrassed if somebody got close to me and noticed that I had misplaced sprouts growing willy-nilly out of my head. I decided the second next best thing I could do, as I have always done when I was struggling, in pain, or having some really glorious episode in life. That was to write. To fill a diary with stories, ideas, reminiscence, painful journeys, or just a plain soothing word-soup. So perhaps Kravis Writers Academy is not ready for me. More important, is nanny-goat ready for Kravis Writers Academy? 

About Jude Brady Smallwood

What Is Chi? Jude coauthored this book with Master Max Yan. She began studying Tai Chi in New York City in 1971 and in her search to learn more about the true nature of Tai Chi, she studied with many instructors and Masters.  She continued her studies when she moved to South Florida to attend college and where she also met Master Yan. Until recently she taught Tai Chi/ Chi Gung   South Florida.  She also attends her Master’s Tai Chi classes to continue her ongoing study of Tai Chi. Her extensive career in various businesses, mechanics, computer programming, digital graphics/video and writing has enabled her to document and illustrate this book for clarity and interest. Her primary goal was to ensure that Master Yan’s wonderful lessons and material were comprehensive, informative, enjoyable and helpful to all readers of this book no matter what their experiences or level of education is. Her own teacher in New York City, Lee Chung Tai-Tsu (Victor), often quelled her impatience and incessant questions by reciting the adage “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  So be ready for the remarkable journey this book is eager to take the reader on.

Motorcycles for Women Only, a book where Jude discusses a different energy and sport. Anyone can fully enjoy the many pictures, stories and interesting historic achievements by women. Cyclists will benefit from the how-to maintenance chapters and illustrations, valuable experiences, and riding techniques. Something for everyone! Jude rode her first motorcycle, a 250cc Zundapp, into a field. She had no clue where the brakes were and jumped off. Later she rode a 650 BSA Hornet, 750cc Honda, 900cc Harley Davidson Sportster, et al. Often wits and undying fortitude were her only currency to get help with repairs from reluctant dealers and macho mechanics. She learned to navigate through complex specs and manuals and decided to share her experiences with other women bikers. What started out as a how-to book exploded into a story of challenge, remarkable women champions, and amusing tales. So, hang on for the ride. It’s a doozy!

Both books are available on Amazon. To view sample pages, go to and

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