About the Inkwell Chicks

You’ve heard of the phrase “put on your big girl panties”  meaning that when things are getting crazy in your life, you need to brace yourself and get ready to handle your business.   Well, we have certainly hit the stage in our lives where the proverbial “big girl panties” are a wardrobe staple.   We don’t just need to keep those panties around for emergencies – we need to have them on hand at all times in many colors and fabric weights.   We need to be ready to wear them every day, if necessary.

The Inkwell Chicks are two close friends, who are more like sisters, navigating the tumultuous passage of life in the “big girl” lane as we deal with our marriages after almost 20 years, children who are growing into adolescence (at least one of whom has special needs), finding meaningful work in many forms, aging parents, siblings and their families, and most recently – breast cancer.    Through it all, it is the breast cancer that motivated us to write and share our story, mostly because we wanted to document the unbelievable journey that this has become.    Like “ink” that permeates all that it  comes in contact with, breast cancer has seeped into our lives and affects how we look at everything from fashion to family.    

Throughout this blog you will see posts by “pink ink,” Barb, who is the friend diagnosed with breast cancer this fall, and “red ink,” is her friend and “sis” Michele who is one of the many people supporting Barb through this journey. The colors are appropriate for so many reasons: When we met in the chambers of the late, great Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Michele was assigned to supervise and edit the writing of intern Barb, and was known for her “red ink.” Michele, who has been a law professor and dean, now operates her own college admissions consulting firm (See http://www.highereducationadvocates.com) where she now teaches writing workshops and edits the essays of students across the country. On a personal note, Michele loves decorating, cooking with her kids, and reading historical fiction. Last but not least, Michele is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, one of the largest public service organizations comprised of college educated African American women whose colors are red and white.

Barb, in contrast, is a proud member of the rival sorority with the same purpose. The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was the first organization of this type founded in 1908, and its’ colors are pink and green. (The two of them actually share an affinity for the color “green” as both are proud members of The Links, Incorporated, a national women’s organization whose members are dedicated to friendship and service.) Professionally, Barb has been “in the pink” for years. Her commitment to breast cancer awareness far precedes her own diagnosis. Having “recovered” from being a lawyer after working in both the non-profit and private sector, Barb now considers herself a women’s health advocate (ironically), working for heart and breast health. She has served on the Susan G. Komen Phoenix Affiliate Board for the past three years, and is a founding board member of the Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer (www.cbbcaz.org) an organization dedicated to increasing breast cancer awareness in the African American community. Together with her daughter, Blayre, Barb has participated in the Race for the Cure for 9 years. (Michele and her daughter, Shelby, joined the effort this year on Mothers Day in Chicago). On a personal note, she loves travel, Saturday date night, wine and good friends.

While our early posts are certainly heavily influenced by this latest life altering challenge, our story certainly can’t be limited by this ink that has stained the lives of both the friend diagnosed and the friend supporting. We take this space to re-claim the Ink!   We choose to think instead about how we met, with one of us as the editor of the other’s writing (how ironic), and about how our relationship has evolved into an encompassing, enduring friendship that has sustained us through so many pivotal passages.   Our conversation on this blog helps us re-create our “peaceful place”  — The “Inkwell” Beach in Martha’s  Vineyard — where we retreat each summer to unload and re-charge in preparation for the rest of our lives.   It’s where we take our little “chick lets” (who we dreamed of together) to show them the importance of life-sustaining friendships.   At the end of the day and despite the challenges, like many of you, we are still two “chicks” who care about everything from politics to fitness to fashion and you will see all of that (and more) in our posts in the days and weeks to come.

We hope you enjoy tagging along for our journey.   Come to the beach with us . . .

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Keene
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 05:39:35

    Michele and Barb:

    How nice that you are doing this together! I enjoyed reading your observations about “life in the middle”, especially as you come to terms with those big life issues (aging, health challenges, losses of loved ones, etc.). From the vantage point of my 60s (how did I get that old?), I wish I could tell you that it gets easier. But you have it right to nurture relationships those at bring you joy regardless of what you’re facing. Barb, I will add my own prayers for your recovery to those of my “baby” sister.

    All the best,



  2. JC Ellis
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 03:52:06

    I didn’t remember how pink ink & red ink merged & loved reading about the symbolism of the inkwell name. W/o that history I thought the name was merely symbolic of our shared summer respite haven. I see great things happening with this blog. Each time I read an entry, each blog is personal & devoid of pretense & it’s clear that neither is seeking the other’s approval or permission in her personal post which makes for a rich, fearless, unscripted experience for the reader. Thank you both for your transparency! I’m glad pink ink is still a fashion diva even during chemo, & I expect that your next venture will be to design sexy clothes to mask the portal! I’m glad you are embracing the faith part of this incredible journey. There are a host of angels that dont know you who are praying for strength & brand new mercies for you & your home team! Jeremiah 29:11 “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you (not to harm you) & to give you hope & a future.”


  3. Nora Wilkinson
    Mar 04, 2012 @ 03:30:40

    What a wonderful story& friendship. The love of family & fiends are so important recovery & healing period.As a cancer survivor. Celebrating life one. Dayat atime



  4. Dr. Hilma Lisa Green-Riley
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 00:07:17

    Wow! You had me at “Hello!” 🙂


  5. Kay Lovelace Taylor
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 00:27:51

    I am so impressed with the loving friendship you have for each other. Love and friendship helps one endure. I read all your posts and personally understand the impact of the ink that has intruded your lives and the lives of so many others. You are to be commended for choosing to share this very intimate journey; you never know who will be inspired to fight harder.


  6. Kate Schumer
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 15:25:33

    Hi! I am interested in a possible collaboration with this site!

    Please email me @ ks@priorityonejets.com



  7. LaVern Tarkington
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 16:36:17

    Love and understand this friendship story. 🌷


  8. Kellee M. Franklin
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 00:57:21

    Hi Michele & Barb – I just finished 16 rounds of chemo and a double mastectomy on August 22nd due to an aggressive TNBC. I saw your Mayo YouTube video and I wanted to connect with you here. I would love to stay in touch and meet one day!

    With love and admiration.
    Seattle, WA


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