We all lead such busy lives. If we work, it's a constant juggle to do our jobs then go home and clean, do laundry, cook, mow, attend to the care of the upkeep of our homes, vehicles ... the list is endless. On top of all that, we need to tend to the relationships in our lives ... spouse, children, grandchildren, elderly parents, friends. Throw in church, club and organization commitments and you might be left asking ... where is "Me Time?"

Me Time are those moments when we selfishly squirrel away a time slot to do something that gives us pleasure. I like to think of it as salve for the soul. You apply it liberally to the soul part of you that is in need of soothing.

To me, that would be painting. Not the Leonardo da Vinci or Monet kind. I'm talking more like Grandma Moses meets Warren Kimble or Betty Caithness. It's called decorative/tole painting.

Years ago, I lived for craft fairs and visiting shops in Lancaster. I'd stare wistfully at the hand-painted items and wish I could do that.

While working for the Pocono Post weekly newspaper, my editor, Pattie Mihalik, asked if I could find someone who lived in a haunted house for our Halloween issue. I asked around and Sandy DeAngelo's name came up. I got her phone number, called, introduced myself, told her what I was looking for and found out her house and experiences fit the description. She invited me to come talk with her.

The moment I stepped into her 200-plus-year-old-house, I felt chills. No, not because I felt the presence of ghosts, but because I felt the presence of a very talented decorative artist. Everywhere I looked were painted pieces ... on wood, tin, furniture, plates.

Sandy, a registered nurse, was friendly, outgoing and loved talking about her "haunted" house. I was enthralled with her stories of the TV turning on and off when no one was in the room, the old Victrola playing a record by itself, a coldness that comes creeping down the stairs to suddenly dissipate, and more.

She took me to a room in her basement, hoping the resident ghost (who they believed was one of the original owners who died in the house) would pay us a visit. It was a room with long tables, bottles of acrylic paints, racks of painting books, and shelves stocked full of unfinished wood surfaces.

"Did you paint all the things in your house?" I asked and she said she did. She was a decorative art teacher and conducted classes in her basement studio.

"Do you have room for another student?"

I began painting with Sandy the next month. I thought I died and went to painting heaven. Every week, I spent three hours soothing my soul.

Sandy was ever patient and encouraging. Her favorite saying was, "Take it home and when you wake up tomorrow, you'll see the Paint Fairies paid you a visit."Meaning, it's hard not to compare your piece with everyone else's. But no two people have the same painting skills or paint alike. When you get your piece home and have nothing else to compare it to, it always looks great.

I use to say, "Painting with Sandy is great, but I really come to class for the entertainment value." In between painting instruction, Sandy would regale us with what was going on in her family life. Her updates on husband Joe, their three children, horses, dogs, cats, parakeet and ferrets, kept us in stitches. She'd dress her pet ferret, Weezie, in ferret costumes and have him model for us. She'd bring Joey, the parakeet, to class and let him show off the latest naughty words and phrases her son Patrick taught it. Never, ever was there a dull moment in the DeAngelo household. They would have made a terrific TV Reality Show!

I painted with Sandy for 13 years. I gave up classes, reluctanlty, due to a conflicting work schedule. Boy. I really missed it.

Last Sunday I attended an all-day painting seminar at Sandy's studio. We began at 9 a.m., and it was like I had never left. We were painting fools until lunch. Husband Joe treated us to a fabulous meal, then back to painting we went, finishing at 5 p.m.

And yes, there was entertainment. Like Sandy's story about Joe's chickens, which she professes to hate. She told us how she was outside one day looking at her strawberry plants, and when she went to stand up, lost her footing and fell backward. Right on one of Joe's chickens. She thought she killed it. (She had hoped.) But after a moment or two of being dazed, it trotted off. But her dog did kill one. I can't tell you how in a newspaper article, but think about dogs and something they all like to do. Especially on your leg. Of course, we were hysterical as she told it. Drama ensued when daughter Jodi dropped her two daughters off at Grandma's so she could take her 2-year-old son to the Urgent Care for stitches because they were playing Zombies and when he fell "dead" he whacked his head a good one.

Later that night, I told Harry I had such a great day. He said, "I can tell. You haven't stopped smiling since you're home."

That's when I understood my soul was in need of some soothing salve. Some painting Sandy salve. I made a decision right then and there.

I start painting with Sandy again in two weeks.

So what do you do for some "Me Time?" Let me know.