About New England Musings

Me today, always with some pair of glasses on top of my head.

Welcome to my New England Musings … this is my personal writing portfolio featuring essays, stories, reporting and observations on my favorite things. Food, travel, parenting, philanthropy, and people are a sampling of what you will find here. Come visit and meet some quirky, wicked cool New Englanders, fun spots to check out during your travels or indulge me by reading some of my personal musings.

When I am not pondering, writing, cooking, or parenting, I am the Chief Development Officer for Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA in Becket, MA and enjoy working with non profits to help advance their mission through philanthropy.  Learn more about my professional work here:  https://www.linkedin.com/pub/brenda-marsian-cfre/8/268/772

I am also a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, and in complete denial of being middle-aged.  I am forever 29.

Timeline Biography (Stole this idea from Emily Griffin who I want to be:  http://www.emilygiffin.com/timeline/)


I was born to Karl and Antonetta who already had two daughters.  They tried for four boys, but ended up with four girls.  So what do you do? “Raise your daughters to become the men they want to marry.” I saw that on a bumper sticker once. Words for girls to live by!

1972 Brenda in plaid
Wish I had a pair of plaid pants today. 1972, on my parents’ front stoop.


Enrolled in Kiddy Kollege preschool where they had an actual yellow brick road. A kid named Bradley used the corner of the classroom as his personal potty and  I accidentally drank a container of bubbles thinking it was a drink — should have exhaled instead of inhaled.

1976 to 1980

I dabbled in many activities throughout elementary school.  Gymnastics taught me that I do not enjoy the uneven bars and being upside down.  I liked the outfits in dance and being onstage, but the teacher accidentally and regularly spat on me and her bright red lipstick ran past her lip line down to her chin.

Pine Knoll Swim School was a torture chamber of water boarding (swim lessons), forced nudity (changing rooms), and threats (land sports).  My mom insists that I was only there three hours a day for one week every summer and I was home by lunchtime, but I swear it was an eight week sleep-away camp in Siberia.

1977 Brenda dancing
1977 dance recital to the Jackson Five’s Dancing Machine.

Memories of Meadowbrook Elementary School consisted of me accidentally sucker punching the gym teacher with my white patent leather shoes while dismounting from the gymnastics horse.  I never understood why Miss Foster had the kids do gymnastics when they had to dress up for the Christmas concert that same day.

I do know all the states in alpha order by memorizing the “Fifty-Nifty United States” song and I suspected Mr. Basquet smoked because he always held chalk like a cigarette and once put a piece of chalk up to his mouth to take a drag.


In junior high I learned that girls are fickle when it comes to friendship.  They’ll size you up with one glance and determine whether you are worthy of sitting next to them at lunch.  I met my best friend Kathy in gym class, the two of us mortified over our green and yellow Birchland Park Junior High School uniforms and we speculated on whether or not Miss Benoit the gym teacher wore a wig.

I went to my first dance, wore designer jeans and danced to Hall and Oates’ Private Eyes, won the music award for playing the flute in band and auditioned for the 7th grade talent show singing Journey’s “Faithfully”.

1983 to 1987 the High School Years

1987 family photo
1987 high school graduation with my family.

What I can remember of high school was fairly bleak.  Average grades, never able to mate my fruit flies in Biology, Mrs. Goldie pretending to be a sperm swimming up the Fallopian tube, my futile crush on the slide trombone player in band, and crowded hallways shuffling from class to class.  There were fleeting moments of joy like listening to Wham, trips to the Cape on my dad’s Boston Whaler, seeing Tears for Fears at the Agora Ballroom, getting selected to play the flute with the Springfield Young People’s Symphony, choreographing synchronized swimming routines with my friend Kathy, my green Benetton bag and my one overpriced Espirit outfit I wore at least once a week.

1987 to 1991

I majored in English at Western New England College, became the editor of the student paper, interned at a local tv station and got hit on by the creepy meteorologist and gave the commencement address at my college graduation.


The 1990s was one long year.  A lot of dead end jobs, too many group projects in grad school, dead end boyfriends and a few perks like finally getting a career opening in development at Northfield Mount Hermon School and earning my masters degree.   Some great moments included the purchase of my first home, trips to Spain and the Caribbean and my sisters weddings.  I consulted for awhile, traveling weekly from one Hampton Inn to another.  If it’s Monday I’m in D.C., Thursday it must be Kansas.

John and Brenda going down pink stairs July 23 2005
Wedding day 2005.


Shortly before I met my husband on eharmony at age 34, my friend Kathy, married and a full-time mom, pulled me aside and said, “You know Brenda, if you’re a lesbian, it’s okay with me.  I’ll still love you.”  I assured Kathy that I was not a lesbian.  “Is your life like ‘Sex and the City?,” she followed up. I laughed wishing I had Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe, body and ability to spike men’s dopamine levels.  “No, my life is not like ‘Sex and the City”  more like ‘Old Man and the Sea’ still fishing for my big catch.”

John was the one and six months after our blind date we were engaged, six months after that we were married and a year later we were parents.  We haven’t come up for air since and look forward to celebrating our ten year anniversary this summer.


At a recent Cub Scout Pinewood Derby race.

Today life is fund-raising, running after a busy eight year-old (who likes skateboarding, skiing, basketball and NOT reading), remodeling a 1980 relic of a house, making writing another priority and enjoying each day.

I hope you enjoy New England Musings and stop by and visit often.

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