Words Matter: A collection of vignettes examining the shared spaces of motherhood, marriage, friendship, aging, and femininity

 Judy loves words. Growing up, Judy was the grammar geek, the book nerd. She loved the way words sound, and how they look when you gently put them on a page. She is a teacher, business owner, mother, and self-prescribed word nerd. She has been teaching college and high school students for over twenty years. She is a life coach and has successfully raised two incredibly decent, kind humans. She garners great pleasure in helping students with the high school to college transition. She surrounds herself with words for each of my passions, both written and spoken. Using my quirky sense of etymology, She has the keen ability to take a fresh look at the world.

Throughout this journey of small meditative moments, I reflect on the liquidity of language and the dynamic roles of motherhood. Each mini-adventure uncovers the importance of shared experiences, how we interpret them, and how we talk about them because our Words Matter.

Words Matter is about all the topics we don’t like to talk about: aging, parenting, children, adversity. These moments in time can be read by themselves or as part of the whole story of the author finding her voice through her experiences. The stories are shared by many although the names and places may change. We are all struggling to figure out where we belong and how we can grow and evolve as we age. What makes this book unique is that anyone who picks it up will find a story or stories that seem to be written just for them. The author hopes readers take away a sense of comradery as they strive to be their best every day.


Great title, what inspired you to write Words Matter?

I love words. I love the way they roll off the tongue, the way they look on a page, and the impact they have on the receiver. I spend most of my days teaching students eighteen to twenty-five years of age how to become better writers and speakers, and the first lesson is thatwords matter. I Remind students that words are their superpower to be used for good or evil. Because the truth is, one thoughtful supportive word can change the upward trajectory of someone’s day just as simply as one hurtful word can ruin it. Each of the articles in my book started with a word or phrase that hit me when I wasn’t paying attention. It could have come from an interaction with another person, or from the silence and contemplation of a walk. Regardless of the words appearance in my life, these words felt like they needed to be discussed because they were overused, misused, or in some cases, changed completely from their original meaning.  I then take this idea and figure out how and why they came to me; nothing is by accident. Through these ideas, I was able to find a lens to discuss the topics we try to avoid: aging, parenting, motherhood, being a daughter, or a friend, and Words Matter was born.

What is your favorite word?

I have a lot of favorite words that work in different sections of my life, but my all-time favorite would have to be, cacophony. Look at it, it screams pay attention to me. There is absolutely nothing subtle about it. A word laden with emotion, sound, and feeling is usually my “go to” when I really want to engage my audience.

Is there a catchphrase you want to go away? 

If I could remove one phrase from our language it would be “I’m OK.” This was the first story I wrote and still one of my favorites. Each of us has a different definition of “OK.” The problem is that our version of the word and someone else’s might not be the same. To truly understand what someone else is saying you need to factor in their health (mental, physical, and emotional), and let’s be honest, we are never going to reach that level of understanding and empathy in a two-minute conversation, while passing one another in the corridor. So, although it has become a standard response to “How are you?” I think there are about a hundred better ways to express your current state, and most of them would lead to greater understanding and empathetic thinking.

What’s your favorite quote?

My favorite quote, which I have tattooed on my wrist is “this too shall pass”. I love the myth of how this quote came into being. For those who don’t know, it comes from a story about a king trying to find the perfect words that would describe the fluid quality of life. He chose “this too shall pass” as a reminder that events and emotions are going to change like the wind. If you hang in there a little bit longer, a new feeling overcomes the bad one. I remind myself of this often when things are not going my way, and it makes me feel so much better.

Do words need to be written on paper? How has technology affected words ? 

I love all words, it does not matter in which form they are presented. But I do feel that the power of the spoken word has diminished with the introduction of technology. First, people are not using spoken words as much, instead of depending on the written form which can be misinterrupted. How many instances do you know where a text or email was the cause of a misunderstanding between friends? It is not only the letters that carry the meaning but the way that we say them.

Thoughts on texting?

Unfortunately, texting is one of the main catalysts for the deterioration of words. Why use a beautiful word when you can use an emoji.  This thinking is why our younger generations have such a hard time communicating in writing and speaking. As a matter of fact, some students use the “U” in the written word on important documents because they just don’t understand that it reflects poorly on them. I do text, but I try to keep it to a minimum, and I am one of those people who spells words out and uses punctuation in my text.

Your book is a series of brief stories. Should they be read as a novel or in pieces?

I see my book as a sit on your nightstand, one-story-a-night kind of book. The lesson is thoughtful and needs to be digested like a good dessert. Savor the flavors and enjoy the process. If you move too quickly, the subtleties might be missed. There is a topic for everyone. I am sure you will find yourself in at least one of the vignettes.


Judy Marano lives in beautiful Brewster, New York with her husband, two dogs, and two cats. She is the mom of twin boys who is successfully navigating the world as decent, kind human beings. She is a college professor of writing and public speaking as well as a business owner. Educational Awareness, her company, assists high school students through the college process, with her favorite part being the college essay. She does not miss a day on her yoga mat or going for a long walk. She is a beach-loving girl whose happy place is on the Jersey shore.