The British Music Invasion that began many decades ago thankfully never stopped. This video is a tribute to those bands, past and present. Be patient. Whoever made this video saved some of the best for last. If I didn’t finally see The Who and The Beatles by the end, it wasn’t going to be the video I chose for this blog. (WARNING: It’s loud, so if your headphones are as good as mine, you may want to lower the volume.)
Yes, I love the accents, too.
I fell in love with English literature next, while still in high school. I greatly admire Charles Dickens, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, George Orwell, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, D.H. Lawrence, and now J.K. Rowling (just to name a few HA HA).
I must also include the poets—Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, John Keats, Rudyard Kipling, William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and William Blake (just a few again).
Of course, I do like American literature, just as I like American bands. (I’ve been a huge Motown fan since the age of ten.) There is so much talent to appreciate in this world, but I’m touching on what resonated with me above all.
I haven’t tried a lot ofBritish food, but we once had a place in New York City called David Copperfield’s. Since they had named the place after one of my favorite books by Charles Dickens, I had to check it out. They had a few English dishes. I think I had Bangers and Mash. The place closed and then reopened on the upper west side serving a hundred kinds of beer and mostly bar food. I’ve never been to that one (not a beer or bar person), but it probably closed again.
Lastly, I have heard of the many beautiful places in England. I’ve seen incredible photos. But despite the yen, I’ve never been there—to the place I have always wanted to see more than anywhere else in the world. Maybe I’m afraid once I get there, I will never return.
Way before my parenting days, I had only one reason for never giving up. It was the simple fact that one moment or one day could change everything. In the toughest times, I never forgot that. As long as I could take a breath, there was hope.
It often happens too, that after much worry and upset, after coming to the most catastrophic conclusions, everything turns out okay. Either that or we realize we were mistaken or had misunderstood. Still we probably had a horrible day or a horrible week. Maybe the whole weekend was horrible because of how we felt. We had wasted time and energy and for nothing, a time we would never get back. We could have been making precious memories instead.
These had been great reminders throughout my life, always helping me to bounce back, but how do we get to such a place? I recently stumbled upon this wonderful article by writer and motivational speaker, James Nussbaumer:
The James Nussbaumer piece is also another take on staying in the moment, and as important as it is, no matter how many times we’ve heard it, it’s so easy to forget. Egos get in the way. Attitudes get in the way. We let everything get in the way.
Another beautiful gift we have, however, is the ongoing ability to change our perspective any time we want.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.” -Charles Swindoll
Facebook is a double-edged sword, though, and my least favorite of the networking sites. For one thing, the people I am closest to either don’t have a Facebook account or don’t spend much time on Facebook. I don’t blame them.
Yes, I know, it’s free. No one’s forcing you to sign up or to have it as part of your platform. Although marketing experts and literary agents seem to agree, it is an essential part of a writer’s social media platform. The thing is, Facebook provides a great service. It’s just that it can be so much better with a few tweaks.
This one’s a minor issue. Facebook wants you to be real about your identity. I couldn’t create a friend page for my company, Moonlit Dawn Publications. It won’t accept that and yet will accept Tales Teller, a name I put in as a joke. Whatever you pick, though, you better like it since you are stuck with it for six months.
The most distressing issue is Facebook wanting everyone to see everything their friends like, making them have to take an extra step to avoid that rather than make avoiding it the default. It’s like a sample of what it would be like to have telepathy. I would hate having to read people’s thoughts. Then I have to ask, is it better to remain blissfully ignorant that I have bigots on my friend list? I guess not, but it’s awkward.
I have seen people with seemingly gentle natures hurt others with not so gentle comments, but this is what Facebook encourages. Let’s put this mass collection of egos in a fishbowl and see what happens. Relationships that had seemed unconditional are not really. Many want you to share their core beliefs, never challenge, or oppose. That’s the condition. It’s not even about having a one-on-one conversation. It’s about what you like or comment on someone else’s post, which Facebook reported.
I have gotten argumentative, even angry messages from people with an opposing view about something I liked or commented on someone else’s post. (This is one reason I am more inclined to like posts that are not public.) Here is the thing though. If anyone has a problem with the fact that I want equal rights, justice and humane treatment for all, he or she can feel free to delete me. They would be doing me a favor.
It seems only on social media would I come across a comment that laws do not resolve racism because prejudice is a feeling, and you can’t stop it, so people need to shut it. Laws are not created to stop feelings but to end discrimination. You wouldn’t expect to have to explain that to anyone, and yet the comments I see consistently reflect the ugly side of humanity.
People balked when users turned their profile pictures into rainbows of support after the SCOTUS ruling that gay marriage was the law of the land. Of course, they had to point out that Facebook was testing and manipulating users. Well, I have done testing, too. If you have a photo of yourself as a profile pic or any photos of yourself accessible to the public, you will get messages from hordes of strangers. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, and you don’t have to look like Shakira. Many people will respond more to your posts if they can have a reminder of what you look like, by way of profile picture. So big deal with the testing—I can do that, too, and I have news for you. If you are on Facebook, they can test you all they want.
Some people apparently do not know what rights they surrender when they create a Facebook page and think they can get around all the invasion of privacy by posting disclaimers. Disclaimers do not override Terms of Service, but I know, having created networks in the past; people do not read Terms of Service. Some don’t know there are terms.
What you do on Facebook is never secret. If I don’t go on and post in a while, I get notifications I didn’t ask for about conversations I missed. I once got a message telling me I had missed a conversation between two friends. Knowing what an instigator Facebook is, I would not be surprised if they added, and they were talking about you. I’m not lying. Go see.
Soon they will be saying, “Hey, Tales Teller, your friend, Joan, started a GoFundMe effort. Click here to go fuck it up. They are instigators, making sure people have seen that you saw their message, so you have to respond immediately or let them think you hate them. At the same time, they will make sure you get several reminders that it’s someone’s birthday, even after you have said Happy Birthday.
For those who are concerned about privacy violation and Facebook duping you for testing, consider the like/dislike system. Getting a like produces a dopamine effect, and that can certainly become an addiction. I can see that it does because some people don’t expect you to miss anything, or that they have to tell you about a major thing happening in their life because they posted it on Facebook. I will admit, about a month ago, it surprised me that a friend had no idea that I fractured my foot. I posted it on Facebook! I had a good laugh about it, realizing how silly that was. But there are people who don’t realize that. Then rather than communicate their feelings and needs to you, they become passive aggressive.
Considering all of this, it’s no wonder why Facebook can be so depressing. That’s why you have to laugh, especially at yourself. If you can’t do that, try this awesome meditation. If this doesn’t make you laugh, it may at least make you smile.
If you are an author, you know this, we don’t just write a book and query agents or publishers. We are entrepreneurs, hustling to compete in an oversaturated market. Beyond the ongoing creative process, you devote a lot of time and effort to marketing, interacting with your potential audience, avoiding controversial issues, and essentially walking on eggshells.
It’s hard to fathom how an artist of any kind can be both cautious and authentic and avoid controversial issues. Can you imagine Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain navigating their social media platforms? It would be hilarious.
Doing any of the above, let alone all of it requires an extraordinary amount of motivation. Considering this, I often wonder what others think and dream about while assessing their goals and struggling to achieve them.
I had decided, before second grade, I wanted to help people “escape” if only for a while. I dreamt of making fantasies come to life while delivering messages of love, kindness, and hope. Ten years later, I wanted a mansion, fancy cars, and a full staff. I clipped an article titled “What to Do with Your First Million” and followed its advice to live as if I was already there. I found the celebrity hotspots and frequented them while remaining unfazed. I went for the expensive champagne. My father dared to suggest I become an advertising copywriter. I told him I would not waste my talent to sell bottles of soap and junk like that.
Being twenty-something also presented what seemed like easy opportunities to model or marry up, along with opportunities to break into print on someone else’s terms. In my estimation, these “opportunities” were not easy if I had to invest in something that had nothing to do with my ruling passion or something in conflict with that passion. It seemed a colossal waste of oh so precious time and energy to continually nurture those things.
My opinions, needs, and wants have changed over the years, as I’m sure is true for many. People take different roads, and the one I stumbled onto was the longest route possible. It had to allow for interminable growth and healing.
Some may remember the vision boards of the 90s. What I might have put on those boards at seventeen and twenty-one wouldn’t be on there now. Yeah, a bigger, better place is always great. I like a lot of space. I realized, though, I could be happy anywhere that is reasonably comfortable, and I’m happy with what I have. I don’t need a lot of money to do what I want in life. I’m already doing it. I love what I do and feel privileged to share it with anyone. (I’m talking about writing fiction now, not blogging, which I hate.)
Of course, it’s not a bad thing to want money. We have to want it. It pays the bills, gives you security. You can eat. It puts you in a position of being able to give it to people who need it. It allows you to pursue things you want to pursue. So yes, if anyone wanted to hand me a million dollars, I’d take it.
Being motivated to hustle and sell is another story. Caring about having that bestseller or how many books you’ve sold requires that hunger I had at seventeen and twenty-one. Yes, we all want it, but you may need to move a few mountains to get it and can’t be too lazy about that.
It’s seems easy enough to pretend to be what everyone wants and say all the things people want to hear so that you can sell a gazillion books, right? I know the sort of things I’d need to say and do in that regard and yet still find it impossible. I’m sure I am far from alone in that.
If what I contribute to the world has the best possible impact on someone, it’s well worth it to me. So, yes, every time another person reaches out to express his or her appreciation, it’s hard to want more than that.
The motivation to provide an escape, make fantasies come to life and deliver messages of hope in this bizarre world, remains. Far as that goes, I have come full circle, back to my childhood heart.
Above all, however, writing is the ultimate refuge. In constantly feeling the world’s pain, individually and collectively, that, too, becomes part of the motivation. Writing, for me, is that comforting place. Even those who write dark literature would agree that what horror they write pales in comparison to real world horrors. We want those blessed intervals of complete, total control of what is happening, and what happens next. We can delude ourselves, but more often, we share the suffering, the healing through a process of grief, and sometimes we fix the broken in ways we can’t do in life.
For these reasons, writing consumes me. It leaves me with little time to nurture more than a handful of relationships or to build what others have. At times, I feel a sense of loss, and then I remember that I created all I had ever wanted—a peaceful existence where I could write and share and then spend precious hours with people who mean the most. I’ve come to treasure that, along with life’s simple things.
I may have to kick it into high gear, but it helps to understand what drives you.
I am delighted to announce the formation of my new corporation, Moonlit Dawn Publications.
MDP will have a couple of functions, but I will share what may be of interest to others. Down the road, I would like to publish anthologies to showcase poets and writers of fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and a few other genres. It may one day be possible to take on full-length novels from other authors. That is certainly something that interests me, but for now, Moonlit Dawn Publications, LLC is established and open for business.
Would you like to receive updates about Moonlit Dawn ventures and my other literary pursuits? Use the form on this page to sign up for my newsletter, and I will keep you posted!
As always, I thank you for your interest and support.
I tripped over the uneven sidewalk on my block a month ago, twisting my foot twice trying to prevent the fall. I couldn’t flex my foot without feeling pain. I went home, got in bed, put ice on my foot and fell asleep. Then the building’s central fire alarm went off.
The sheer volume of that alarm is horrifying.
I got dressed in a panic, unable to lay my foot flat, and hobbled down three flights. A frail silver-haired woman carrying a birdcage appeared to be doing just fine and offered help. By the time I reached the bottom, everyone had wanted to help.
I thought the incident would have caused more damage, but the next day, my foot seemed better. I figured if I could hobble down three flights to flee a fire or an ear-shattering alarm, I didn’t need to see a doctor or get an x-ray. In fact, I should continue working out, cooking, cleaning—all the things my OCD tells me cannot wait. (As an aside, my ex-boss said she loved hiring OCD people because they get things done if it kills them.)
The thing is I am always saying you can’t get to the solution of any problem and stay in the solution until you accept the problem. But I didn’t want this inconvenience, this foot injury thing. Summer had arrived. Aside from that, I had deadlines, goals, plans. I said, a few times, this is a bad time for this to happen as if there are good times for it to happen.
It turns out, the pain from a stress fracture typically settles in after a couple of days, but the recovery process is just beginning. If you don’t take care of the injury, it gets worse.
I made the appointment.
An x-ray showed a fifth metatarsal stress fracture with the bone still in place. I didn’t need surgery, but they saddled me with this very expensive and hideous CAM boot.
They also gave me greasy Pain Stat cream. I don’t know how much that cost, but it is very messy, slippery stuff. I didn’t like it.
No one encouraged me to stay off the foot. In fact, the physical therapist said, “Hey if you’re comfortable walking twenty blocks, walk twenty blocks.” No one said anything to me about shoes either. Maybe they thought I would figure it out for myself, but I wasn’t thinking clearly in between all the stress and denial.
It doesn’t take long to figure it out. Walking around the neighborhood with legs of two different lengths and one heavy boot is not good. It throws your hip out of whack, and when you get home, everything hurts—calves, other foot, hip, back, everything but the foot in the boot. I started looking in my closet for shoes to match the height of the boot. I had nothing like that. I threw out my sneakers months ago when I moved. I never wore them.
My chiropractor said the imbalance consequences are common while being treated for this type of injury. She confirmed that the shoe you wear on the other foot, preferably a sneaker, must be the same height of the CAM boot. She also suggested Arnica Gel instead of Pain Stat. It does the same thing without the grease. She further explained that when something like this happens, it causes inflammation throughout your body. You have to eat things that are not inflammatory. So throughout the ordeal, you eat right, rest, ice, be gentle with yourself, and take good care of those other parts like your back. You must send lots of love to your body—TLC.
I went back to the podiatrist and told him about the imbalance problem. Well, they had a solution for that all along but never mentioned it. How do you like that? They gave me an adjustment for the other foot before I left. It was a flimsy rubber thing to put over a shoe. They didn’t seem to care what shoe I put it on or whether it was a close match, and it was another $50. I could have bought another pair of shoes.
I did buy sneakers, and then the boot was comfortable as long as the sneaker and adjustment gadget were on the other foot. That made it even. You feel kind of like a monster walking down the street and a little slow, but nobody’s going to mess with you.
After weeks of compliance, the foot only bothered me when I took the boot off—muscle atrophy.
I got to replace the monster CAM boot with a small ankle/foot brace after only three weeks. My foot was back to normal except for the atrophy. Considering, too, all the footbaths and “physical therapy” they keep giving me without asking… this little mishap was costly. That’s a good incentive for me to pay attention and watch where I am going.
I know that a fifth metatarsal fracture is not the worst thing that can happen to someone. In fact, it’s very low on the list of awful things that can happen. I hope it never happens to anyone reading this, but if it does, I hope sharing some of my mistakes will help.
I’m a happy camper now.
It’s funny, though, realizing what you’d taken for granted—like when I’m listening to music, and I want to dance. You begin to do it, forgetting. Soon I will, though. Be ready.
The freedom that comes with authenticity is something we can all relate to on some level, unless, of course, we never had to feel different or less than.
If we have, authenticity is a bondage broken. It is a proud and happy triumph for those who understand how important it is for everyone to feel acceptance in their skin, not the skin that meets the approval of the masses without question.
No matter what belief system people subscribe to, they would not want a diseased or disabled child to suffer because their God might have intended it. They would not think to say this happened for a reason, so let’s leave it alone, and do nothing to remedy the situation. No one would want them to suffer or die. And when a person is born into this world with a dilemma of identity that puts him or her at odds with the world, they do suffer. The only part of them that is real is either dead or dying, and the only thing that saves them is acceptance.
Instead, they are stigmatized, rejected, harassed, and deprived of essential human rights. There is character assassination by cultivated perception. These things destroy a person in such a way that it may as well be murder.
As a society, we have come a long way. Generally speaking, we have evolved to see that not all battles are physical. There is much bravery in terms of mental and emotional struggle. Countless individuals embark on a painful, almost unbearable journey from shame to authenticity and acceptance. Let’s revel in the notion that a big chunk of the world gets it, that everyone deserves to feel worthy and enough.
Many will never survive this type of journey. We need the survivors, as they become warriors who fight every obstacle in their paths and advocate for those who have not been able to advocate for themselves. They pave the way. Yes, that is brave. Freedom from shame and bondage is a gift that gives endless light while creating genuine love. That’s how you create a better world.
Some people are fortunate to have the discernment required in connecting with others. Many, despite their intelligence, self-sufficiency, and well-meaning hearts find themselves in unhealthy relationships. I see it happening often.
Based on experience, I offer these warning signs.
Red flags have been waved and ignored.
We witness behavior that raises an eyebrow, things we don’t ordinarily condone. It could be cruel, inappropriate, abusive, or manipulative behavior, derogatory remarks, infidelity, and lack of boundaries or respect for boundaries. Sometimes a person admits to being a jerk, a bastard, or a bitch, and our first instinct is to contradict and thereby comfort them. Sometimes we think because a person can be sweet and charming to us, we are the exception, the chosen one who will make it all better. We’re not.
Someone is on a pedestal.
Your perception of this person goes from one extreme to another. He or she walks on water or is a monster. You have defined who they are—essentially, a paragon of the ideal. You decided beforehand how they should behave and respond. It’s not reality based, and it’s not love. It is obsession—a persistent and disturbing preoccupation with an unreasonable idea or feeling. What you’re feeling has nothing to do with that person. You can’t love someone you don’t see. They are no more than a channel for what you need. An obsession is an addiction. It distorts our perception and impairs judgment. It comes with denial and control patterns that become manipulation. There is no direct communication about needs and desires. Resentments build and fester then erupt into anger. When reality kicks in, it is a long tumble for that person up on the pedestal to the ground. Unrealistic expectations create devastating disappointment.
Unnecessary risks are taken.
You are willing to compromise yourself and your well-being when you don’t have to and sometimes the safety and well-being of others. You may rush headlong into a physical relationship with little knowledge and a good measure of denial instead of awareness, education, and caution.
Principles are compromised.
There is unwilling compliance to avoid wrath and rejection. You find yourself continually compromising your principals and lowering your standards.
You don’t recognize yourself.
You have an unbalanced self-esteem. You feel the other person could not possibly want to live without you. At the same time, you don’t like who you are in this situation or relationship. You don’t like who you are becoming or the way you feel, act or think. You were never this whiny, this jealous, this possessive, this hurt, this confused. You sometimes feel like a basket case.
The relationship impedes your progress.
The relationship distracts you from your goals or seems to have replaced them. It happens in new relationships, but if you are unable to get back on track or have abandoned your dreams entirely, it’s a problem.
You are often confused.
You don’t know what to believe because your judgment and perception remain clouded.
It’s stressing you out.
Eating and sleeping patterns may have changed. You are not properly taking care of business or yourself. You may feel more paranoid, more OCD, more anxious. People have a lot to work through in relationships. Stress is normal, but constant stress that renders your life unmanageable is not.
You feel like you are in bondage.
You try to fight it. You want to be free of this person. At the same time, you want nothing and no one to come between you. You may isolate to have more time to focus on your obsession. When what you want is dangled before you, you can’t resist. When deprived of it, you are sick—mentally, emotionally, sometimes physically. You may feel you cannot be honest about this relationship or situation with anyone including yourself. You continue to want the same thing from this individual not realizing that after a while, you don’t enjoy it, and maybe you never did, yet you still need it. The moments of comfort and bliss are fleeting. A feeling of emptiness prevails. It causes agonizing pain for you. You may feel as if you are in bondage because you are. At times, you can’t stand up for yourself because you are somehow at a disadvantage, at the mercy of your obsession.
This unhealthy connection can exist in friendships as well or in relationships with family members.
It helps to determine what the addiction is for you in this case. What is the payoff? What is the issue that has made you so vulnerable?
Love is good, but to feel comfortable loving and receiving love in return, we must know we deserve it. We must know we are worthy. Getting to that place opens another door in the journey of our recovery from past trauma and emotional abuse. Beyond it, more beauty awaits, and more joy. 9 Warning Signs That You Are In A Dangerous Relationship
It’s easy to judge the impaired, to walk away, make fun. It’s easy to take advantage of their vulnerabilities. What’s not easy is acceptance, and that’s unfortunate because acceptance paves the way to learning and understanding. Without it, there can be no solution or resolution. What’s not easy either is helping to heal those wounds.
Unfortunately, the afflicted/addicted are often in a cycle of narcissistic abuse. Caught up in that dynamic since childhood, they remain surrounded by narcissists who lack the healthy self-esteem and empathy to love them through their imperfections. Narcissists are too busy burying their shame and inadequacy, so instead of accepting, they punish and reject. They never put themselves in another’s place. Instead, they feel short-changed, embarrassed and inconvenienced.
I’ve heard arguments like, well we all have anxiety now and then, or nobody likes to do that, but we saddle up. I understand this logic. Maybe some refuse to test their limits. I don’t know. What I do know is we don’t have any idea how hard something is for someone else, or how hard he or she tries.
That doesn’t mean you don’t set boundaries or that you should tolerate anyone crossing the line.
At a time when I couldn’t understand an irrational source of anxiety, a therapist told me, “Think of anxiety as a hat. You can hang it anywhere, put it on anyone’s head, and wear it for anything.” It’s transference of deeper fears, and you can find a number of ways to throw them out into the universe.
I adopted the mantra, “Life is an adventure” to help me through the toughest moments. I’d picture myself as this tiny being inside a vast, fascinating universe… a being no better than any other, given opportunity after opportunity for experience and adventure. I knew I wanted to hang in for the ride rather than give up. For whatever reason, that grounded me.
So acceptance has been the key to learning and understanding for me, too, and essential to managing the afflictions on a day-to-day basis. Everyone I have met who struggles along these lines is fighting every day to manage, to test their limits, and to survive. My feeling is, if it doesn’t require as much effort for you, then whatever is going on with them is not going on with you, so this comparison is pointless. Sorry for your inconvenience, your expectations, your disappointments, and that you can’t get what you want when you want it, but I guarantee a little acceptance will go a long way.
I saw a quote once, something to the effect that, people who don’t have their stuff together are judging us all. Yes they are.
Stevie Nicks once spoke about her addiction and use of benzodiazepines to treat her anxiety. She said, in an interview, “People don’t forgive you.” It’s true. Some people will never forgive or forget the past transgressions of the afflicted or the addicted no matter the circumstances, and no matter how far you’ve come. It’s another hindrance, but we go on.
Someone I love dearly has almost all the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. Aside from having some of these symptoms myself, I care about this person more than I do anyone who would judge. I can see the world of difference it makes when you accept, love unconditionally, and play even a small part in helping a person in these circumstances to not only survive but to thrive.
If everyone could resolve their personal bias and issues, they would see individuals who are just as lovable and beautiful as they are, every bit as worthy, and strong enough to have survived the most oppressive and unrelenting pain.
Here is another thing I learned. Everybody is trying to feel good about himself or herself, from those with afflictions and disorders to the people who love and cherish them—and yes even the people who seem to have it all together. I just don’t want to make that harder for anyone.
I am often in awe of beautiful things shared from the heart. This “love letter”, by Alison Napi, appeared on Rebelle Society, one of my favorite sites. It speaks to many of us, regardless of what we may believe about miracles and God. It’s worth sharing over and over. Enjoy.
An Open Letter to Your Inner Child
by Alison Napi
To the child who couldn’t understand
why nobody could understand.
To the one whose hand was never taken,
whose eyes were never gazed into by
an adult who said,
“I love you.
You are a miracle.
You are holy,
right now and
To the one who grew up in the realm of “can’t.”
To you who lived “never enough.”
To the one who came home to no one there, and
there but not home.
To the one who could never understand why
she was being hit
by hands, words, ignorance.
To the one whose innocence was unceremoniously stolen.
To the one who fought back.
To the one who shattered.
To the never not broken one.
To the child who survived.
To the one who was told she was
sinful, bad, ugly.
To the one who didn’t fit.
To she who bucked authority
and challenged the status quo.
To the one who called out
the big people for
lying, hiding and cruelty.
To the one who never stopped loving anyway.
To the child that was forbidden to need.
To the ones whose dreams were crushed
by adults whose dreams were crushed.
To the one whose only friend
was the bursting, budding forest.
To the ones who prayed to the moon,
who sang to the stars
in the secrecy of the night
to keep the darkness at bay.
To the child who saw God
in the bursting sunshine of
and the whispering
To the child of light who cannot die,
even when she’s choking
in seven seas of darkness.
To the one love
I am and you are.
You are holy.
I love you.
You are a miracle.
your hopes and dreams–
Somebody failed you but you will not fail.
Somebody looked in your eyes and saw the sun — blazing — and got scared.
Somebody broke your heart but your love remains perfect.
Somebody lost their dreams and thought you should too,
but you mustn’t.
Somebody told you
that you weren’t
or too much,
but you are
the most perfect
and holy creation of
This poem appears in my first book, “A Dark Rose Blooms.”
SHADOWS OF MY SOUL
Reality to me is the dusk,
Prevalence in the shadows.
It is cloaking,
In a world of darkness.
It is torment.
It is restraint.
The beauty of the peaceful lull amid the
Trees just before sunrise
Lies in contrast with the hazy tumult of my
I am in awe of every vision.
I bask in the passion of every caress.
Every bit of air I breathe is a godsend.
I could listen with the stillness of the ocean
To the waves amid a blue-violet sky.
I could dance with flair and gaiety to the music
With a glow that illuminates me.
There is no one else I’d rather be—
Unless it were to love you.
You are all that I crave.
Awhile back, I read comedian Steve Harvey’s rant about atheists and their lack of a moral barometer.
Then there was this rant by that Duck Dynasty dude:
“I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude? Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’
Let me ask then. Is fear of punishment the only reason he doesn’t do these things? Does he think belief in a deity is the only thing stopping everyone else? What kind of mind even comes up with this stuff? Most of us want to help others not harm them. I can’t speak for all, but my conscience is my moral barometer. It is not fear of punishment from a deity.
This kind of prejudice, however, is what concerns me about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
So a young Indiana couple, Crystal and Kevin O’Connor, found themselves in the center of that controversy. They claim reporters tricked them into boasting that they supported the law and would not serve gay people in their pizza place. They later backpedaled, saying they never said such a thing. They said it was only the gay weddings they didn’t want to service with their pizza. Yeah, okay, whatever.
I would not have threatened these people. I wouldn’t have gone to Yelp and written a scathing review about their pizza. I wouldn’t have trolled them in any way. If I were in Indiana, I probably would skip their pizza, but that’s about it.
Hordes of angry people did react, though, with a vengeance. The O’Connors were “forced to close their doors.” Then supporters rallied to collect $300k for them. (It may be more by now.)
That is some incredible luck in a day where unpopular things go viral, and the backlash is instant and brutal. Go ask my author friends about internet trolls, O’Connor couple. It’s not pretty. Freedom of speech is a precious and beautiful thing, but there can be consequences because other people have freedom of speech, too, you see. They react.
Let’s talk about religious freedom, though—honor killings, public beheadings, terrorizing infidels. In Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal, you can get a seven-year prison term for anything “seen” as promoting homosexuality. They tried to pass legislation requiring their citizens to report homosexuals and their activity or face punishment themselves.
So where is the moral compass of these people who kill and terrorize in God’s name?
People may say, come on, those are extremists or now see all we’re doing is not serving people. We’re not burning or stoning people or putting them in jail. I think they have to realize that every step backward brings us closer to that. So why wouldn’t people be angry and resort to extreme measures to prevent this? Why would we accept going backward in any of the areas where we have made progress?
Another comment allegedly made by Crystal O’Connor is that you can believe anything you want. Well, yes, Crystal, but your beliefs don’t trump the law. That’s a great thing because rapists, serial killers, and child molesters may feel they have some justification for their behavior. (Oh right, the law…I think Duck Dynasty dude forgot about that, too.)
Parting is rarely peaceful or the sweet sorrow of Shakespearean poetry. It can be an ugly and torturous process. It’s not unusual either to be called selfish for walking away from toxic relationships and environments.
We get involved in something or with someone having the best of intentions. Often, we don’t realize what issues we bring to the table. There may be parts of us still in need of healing. When we look back, we may see we could have handled it all better—not simply because hindsight is 20/20 but because we can’t be objective. We’re busy drowning. Everything is clouded, including our judgment. Being oblivious to what motivates us and how others can manipulate us, we fall into traps. We may even trust the wrong people, people who take advantage of vulnerabilities and unresolved needs. They push buttons we didn’t know we had and, after a time, we don’t recognize ourselves.
We walk away, because we don’t know what will happen to us if we don’t. We choose sanity and serenity over endless battles. The exit becomes the way of saving our lives, reclaiming it along with our dreams, putting our needs first after years of trying to please people who cannot be pleased. We are no longer in a place where we can be or do our best. The kinder thing is to go on and heal what needs healing. Who says we can’t bring our best efforts somewhere else? We can take our kindness. We know, too, it’s never going to be enough to walk away. We need to burn that bridge, so we don’t get sucked in again.
The place we escaped from may haunt us from time to time, what we left behind. We can leave those dead things wailing in the dark and shut the door. That part of our past taught us many things we needed to learn, and it’s over, done, dead. As long as we didn’t lose the lesson, we’ll be fine. We needed to be there and experience what we experienced, but we’re free now. It’s time to celebrate our freedom.
I’m leaving you with a couple of awesome links and parting thoughts.
While I certainly appreciate and admire my fellow American writers, I must admit my favorite authors are typically English. I also love Irish writers!
Having no English or Irish roots must account for at least part of my fascination. (I am similarly intrigued with bygone eras.) However, it doesn’t take away from the fact that many brilliant storytellers have come out of Ireland and England.
Oscar Wilde is high on that list for me. I have been a fan of Wilde’s talent, insight, and humor since my teenage years. I have found him to be one of the most entertaining writers of all time. The Picture of Dorian Gray is probably the work I enjoyed most. “To define is to limit” is one of the many quotes that resonated with me. If I listed them all, this blog would go on forever.
In putting together this tribute, I uncovered some interesting tidbits about Oscar Wilde. I read, for the first time, about his wife, Constance and his two boys, Cyril and Vyvyan, the latter of whom was sickly as well as mischievous. I learned more about loyal Constance, who suffered because of Oscar’s affairs, and that she ultimately had an affair of her own! I read of accusations against his surgeon father having allegedly raped a patient while she was under anesthesia in his care.
Wilde certainly had a wealth material to incorporate into his incredible tales.
I was surprised to discover he had been buried not in Dublin, but at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. He shares this resting place with Frederic Chopin, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Isadora Duncan, Honoré de Balzac, Marcel Proust, and many more!
My tribute to Oscar Wilde has been fun to research and put together. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Some people say we are too sensitive these days. We analyze too much. We spew tedious psychobabble. They would like people to toughen up and suck it up, as they had to do when they were growing up. I say a lot of past callousness is simply ignorance that some think is bliss, but it has created too much dysfunction. Many will pass down emotional abuse from generation to generation like family jewels.
I’m glad there is an increasing willingness to talk about it and to examine what’s going on. It shows us, for one thing, that so many people are struggling. It helps us understand one another. In the constant exchange of knowledge, we learn what to do about it.
This quote got my attention when I saw it one day in my news feed.
Someone called me on this in an argument years ago because I said people shouldn’t feel jealous.
I took this position largely because of painful experiences I’d had or witnessed. I got to a place where I thought I could expound on why people shouldn’t feel jealous ever. I had an epiphany in my 20s, realizing jealousy never changed anything or helped anyone, but that doesn’t mean we could wrap up that issue for all humankind and move on.
Things like this remind me that I must remain teachable at all levels of my existence and that I’ve learned so much from others. The worst things we go through with another person seem to teach us the most.
Of course, shaming another individual is not always a conscious attempt to manipulate the person into feeling humiliated or deficient. I sometimes think we do it unconsciously or subconsciously and that we may have good intentions. Often, we want people to feel better. Other times, if we examine more carefully, we can admit we somehow felt superior or impatient, even a little uncomfortable about how another was feeling. We got this urge or need to manipulate or take control.
It’s easy to decide, too, people should feel a certain way in response to something we say or do. They should be happy for our triumphs and supportive of our efforts. They should not feel insecure, threatened, or unhappy about where they are in life. I learned that telling people how they should feel may seem natural to us and instinctive, but it doesn’t help them feel that way and often invalidates how they’re feeling and shames. It took a while for me to get that.
We’re not monsters. We all have conflicting emotions and vulnerable egos. It’s a learning experience for all.
I discovered motivational author Louise Hay during what was probably the most difficult time of my life. Reading ‘You Can Heal Your Life‘ was a game changer for me. I listened to the audiotapes while cleaning and before falling asleep at night.
“I know we often want it all happy and positive, but that’s just not where much of humanity is. Many of us are overwhelmed with pain, undigested sadness, unexpressed anger, unseen truths. This is where we are at, as a collective. So we have two choices. We can continue to pretend it’s not there, shame and shun it in ourselves and others, distract and detach whenever possible. Or we can face it heart-on, own it within ourselves, look for it in others with compassion, create a culture that is focused on authenticity and healthy emotional release. If we continue to push it all down, we are both creating illness and delaying our collective expansion. But if we can just own the shadow, express it, release it, love each other through it, we can finally graduate from the School of Heart Knocks and begin to enjoy this magnificent life as we were intended. Pretending the pain isn’t there just embeds it further. Let’s illuminate it instead.” Jeff Brown
We all have our struggles. Most people are just trying to feel good about themselves, and their progress will take what it takes, as mine did and does. I don’t have to add to anyone’s burdens with my need to have everything I want and my way, imposing expectations that someone cannot meet for whatever reason.
We don’t have to put up with nonsense, but we can certainly move along and let people work out their stuff.
Interesting conversations with readers give me a lot to think about, so I like to provide a platform for those conversations.
Someone recently brought up amateur/aspiring v. professional.
I have known people who create guidelines for when a person can call himself or herself an author (or even a writer). It’s the same with most artists. Are they amateur and aspiring or professional and experienced?
Many of us have had this burning passion or determination to do something since childhood. Ideas and urges came, and we responded. We delivered. I feel we know whether we identify as poets, writers, artists, musicians before we ever have a book published, show our work in a museum or get on stage with a band. We may be aspiring to succeed and to master our crafts, but we are not aspiring to be what we are.
I remember a fifth-grade poetry assignment. The kid behind me copied my poem. When the teacher (nun) caught him, he told her he copied it from a book. I imagine he thought he’d get in less trouble for that, I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted me to go down with him. Nevertheless, she believed him. She asked for the book, and I was so confused that I was trying to find this book that didn’t exist… in my desk. (Nuns raising their voices to me invoked terror.) Then something strange happened. All these kids began calling out that this boy was lying because I was a writer, and I had always been a writer… other ten-year-olds! Amusing as it seems, they touched my heart for a lifetime. She asked me again if I copied the poem from a book, and I finally found the courage to say I didn’t. She gave me a gold star and displayed it on the wall for Parent-Teacher Conference Day. I will never forget this; how the kids knew this thing about me because it was already part of my identity.
As another example, my nephew was drawing since the age of five. I have never seen anything amateur about his approach, his expression, or his final product. (As an aside, he’s amazing.)
People may tell you things like, well you’re not published, you’re not an author, or you’re not a writer, even though you have been doing this thing ever since you can remember.
If there is anything to separate the amateurs from the pros, for me, it is the desire and willingness to give your best and give your all.
Pros focus on mastering their craft. They set goals. It is a priority in their lives, and they will devote as much time to it as is possible. They can’t “not” do it. They know the passion is the fire in their soul. It’s their heart. They know it’s who they are.
Whether we are good or not, that is another story, but we have control over that, too.
From early on, characterization and dialogue were my strengths. Description was my weakness. I was not observant. I kept my mind clouded with other things, the obsessions of the moment. Eventually, I realized I had to work hard on that area, and I did with much success.
There’s no doubt in my mind that we often feel we don’t measure up, as people, as artists. If we believe that, that’s when we work to get better: identify problems, find solutions, expand our knowledge, and hone our skills. The desire exists for a reason, and learning is perpetual. We can always do better. That is all a part of mastering.
Of course, this comes with high hope and unsettling realizations.
I can take a little credit for keeping everything (all my clutter) neat and clean and for giving things away when I could sell them. That is right to do if you can do it; therefore, on second thought, no brownie points for this consideration. On this matter, I am serious, but going through cabinets, drawers, closets and shelves, I had to see some humor amid the horror.
Like why are there three jugs of the same laundry detergent and three tubes of aluminum foil and two things of carpet deodorizer or whatever the hell? Did I not bother to check when I needed these things? Yes, we get busy, but that’s nuts.
I can’t count the number of books, yet they moved with me again and again, boxes full of books, and I offer no apologies about hoarding literature. I will make one adjustment. I will give away the bad books. Yes, there are bad books, much as I hate to admit it.
I can certainly throw away those books about things I wanted to do for five minutes like “Become a Personal Trainer” and “The Dumpling Cookbook.” I don’t know when I would have found time for personal training, and by the time you find all the ingredients needed for some of those dumpling recipes, yeah, no…
In my desk, I found pay stubs going back for eight years. Why? Who is going to ask me for my pay stubs from eight years ago? Nobody, that’s who… I will vow to keep a year of stubs and no more.
In the drawers, I rummaged through tops, tops, and more tops. I am talking to myself saying, oh, hey, I forgot I had this top; this is so cute. How much of a hit could it have been, really? I never missed it.
It shouldn’t matter that clothes still fit after twenty or thirty years, and my logic tells me, for that reason, I should keep it. If this is the rule, I get to keep them all.
I have a cashmere coat my mom gave me in 1992. It was hers.Who knows how long she had it, but she kept everything in great condition. It reminds me of her. How do I part with that? I can’t.
The top shelf of my closet was hilarious, even to me. I had cowboy boots, some weird white knee boots, thigh-high boots from the 90s I may have worn once or twice. I had Harley Davidson biker boots from another 90s phase, and boots I never wore that hurt when I tried them on because they obviously didn’t fit…ever. I tossed all of them in the good-bye pile along with the cowboy hats that went with the boots. I counted four cowboy hats, going back to the 80s. I know I was a fan of the TV show Dallas once, but I am a New Yorker. I doubt I’ll ever be required to don the whole cowboy get-up just to visit a ranch.
I found a bunch of hats I never wore and likely would never wear, like this pink baseball cap that somehow reminds me of Britney Spears. I remember using it for a photo once. Other than that, I have no idea how it got in my closet.
There were sweater dresses. You can wear sweater dresses and jerseys with a tiny hole for your head when you’re sixteen or twenty-two because you’re not suddenly hot out of the blue… and then cold again ten minutes later.
I have shoes, shoes, and more shoes though most of them just sit there in the dark. I wear my favorite shoes and boots all the time, and that’s that. They are comfortable. I no longer see a reason to feel uncomfortable ever. As much as I love three and four inch heels, I am tall, so they serve no purpose for me.
It was liberating to part with sacks of stuff. I was almost giddy.
My son, at a young age, told me, “When you have too much stuff, mom, you get rid of some stuff. You don’t just go out and buy more storage (dressers) for the stuff.”
You have probably seen this George Carlin video before, but if you haven’t, you must. I’ve watched it many times. He sure had me pegged.
Never fear. I am changing my ways…
My sister, Denise, recommended minimalist.com to me along with their Facebook page.
While I see the humor in this, I also find it sad.
I realize more and more, how unimportant all this “stuff” is, and while some habits are hard to break, it weighs heavily on my conscience. We take much for granted and become accustomed to a way of life that is far out of reach for many. It can put us out of touch. I have more than enough “stuff” while some don’t even get what they need.
Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to my fresh start in another place on my journey. See you there.
My mother, Carmen Sanchez (or Carmelita/Carmecita/Carmita as her family often called her) was born in Havana, Cuba, the youngest of ten children. She grew up poor and fatherless, since her father passed away when she was only two.
In the photo above, we are in Cuba, and I am holding her hand. My older sister, Maria, is standing next to me and my Abuela is standing behind.
I remember a lot about that visit to Cuba.
We must have gone to some large marketplace in Havana. I imagine my mother had described Fidel Castro to me, so each time a man with a beard passed; I pulled her skirt, asking, “Mommy is that Castro?”
“Shush,” she would say, stifling laughter. “Quiet. He’s not going to be walking around here, and people can hear you.”
“They can hear you,” my older sister repeated. “Stop it!”
I quickly lost interest; for it appeared, there were baby chickens for sale on every corner.
“Those are pollitos,” my mother said.
“I want a pollito.”
She laughed, taking my hand. “Come on.”
I kept lagging and lingering. She kept urging me on.
An aunt we were about to visit had a thatched roof farmhouse with a backyard full of pollitos, and my mother knew this. I would spend the afternoon admiring pollitos and feeding them corn.
I found this video of Havana and another of the gorgeous beach she took us to during our visit, which is a nice treat on this cold winter day. If you don’t have time, skip those, as I will get back to the subject of my mother.
My mother was tiny but fierce, a force to contend with, determined to learn English and to work hard. She did that from the beginning up until the day she retired, same as my father who came to this country from Italy. They were proud to be American citizens. He fought for his new country. She felt honored to be a soldier’s wife. He worked as a butcher then meat department manager for a Grand Union supermarket in Astoria, Queens, New York. She worked as a meat wrapper then an assembly-line bench worker at Bulova Watch Company in Woodside and ultimately a salesperson for A&S.
My mother never immersed us in the Cuban culture. She was afraid of people judging her, people who perceived Cubans as freeloaders. I wish she hadn’t felt that way, and it warmed my heart to see a glimpse of pride in her heritage when she taught us Christmas songs she had learned in Cuba and talked about their traditions. I never wanted her to feel ashamed of who she was.
My fond memories of her include her love for holidays, her decorating with a giddy enthusiasm, no matter how many years had passed. She and my father made every holiday and birthday special, celebrating us along with their life together. Our lives were far from perfect, but they gave so much, with their hearts always in the right place.
In the first photo below, I am the girl on the far left with my mother standing over me. In the second photo, I am watching my mother cut the cake on my birthday.
She taught me unconditional love because she gave it. For many, many years, it was the rarest thing to receive in an unapologetically harsh world. If I had doubts, she restored my faith in who I was, and in the dreams I cherished. She was proud of her daughters, her girls. When it came to my father, her love and devotion knew no bounds.
As an aside, she loved to shop, especially for clothes. I inherited that, along with her lack of impulse control. My sisters did, too.
In the three photos below, the first is me with my true hair color. HA! In the second, I am the blonde with my arm around my mother during one of our New Years Eve celebrations. My younger sister, Denise, is to the right of the little cousin I am holding. In the last photo, my mom is in front of her daughters. That is me on the left, my older sister in the middle and my younger sister on the right.
My lovely mother died of a stroke in June of 2011. That first night she was gone, I remember feeling she was frightened. In retrospect, I think I was the scared one. Despite her age, she looked beautiful in her eternal rest. I’m sure she was at peace.
Me…not so much. I had panic attacks in the months that followed. My world grew darker and colder, so much darker than those sunny days of laughter in her comforting presence. Something was gone from my soul, a part of me. I thought about all the times she called just to hear my voice, and to see if I was okay—those times I was too busy and figured I would call back later. I should have taken every call and savored every moment I could hear her, hold her, laugh with her. For the most part, I did but not enough. It is never enough. I just miss her so much.
I had sent my newly published poetry book to my friend, John, someone I have known for many years. Weeks later, I asked if he had received it, and what he thought of the book.
He responded with, “I have been rather absorbed in my own world which has been a struggle. I have been sick with walking pneumonia and yet am still working daily. I am on a bunch of medication, which doesn’t leave me with the clearest head. When not working, I am sleeping. Am slowly getting better but about four days bed rest would be ideal. I can’t afford to miss work so, you know the drill. I’m tired, sick, frustrated, but still fighting.”
He went on to explain, “Poetry has never been my strong suit. You are certainly elegant with words. I can appreciate the flowery wording but feel like I am missing something, and that applies to all poetry not just yours. I feel embarrassed to admit that it seems to have crashed over my head like a huge wave at the beach. It takes some doing to overcome the feeling that I am too dumb for this.”
John revealed more as the conversation continued. “A couple of the poems were almost frightening in their intensity. I could sense the emotion behind it, but I felt like such an outsider. Then it dawned on me; I am an outsider, but you are trying to provide a window for me. Stop feeling like a peeping tom and enjoy the view. I can so over-complicate things.”
He messaged me later with more thoughts. “I reached another realization. There was much mention of family and closeness. I realized I was somewhat jealous because my family is tiny with no closeness whatsoever. In defense against those feelings, I put up a wall against your poems. It is painful to read about something I can’t experience. I am happy you have it but sad that I don’t. As I have and accept these awakenings, I may be able to better appreciate your poetry.”
Well, here is my take on all this.
First, you learn so much from the other end of the author journey, once you have released your first book child into the world. (Yes, these books are our children. Any writer can tell you this. We give birth to them. We send them out into the world. We worry about them, protect them, defend them.)
I have had people apologize to me for not having read the book yet, although they instantly bought it to support my efforts. I get it. I buy books all the time to help the authors who wrote them, and these books sit in line for a good long time on my Kindle.
Next, you do need a clear head for reading, especially poetry. You are reading between the lines of someone else’s fleeting thoughts and trying to process their meaning.
John thought he was raining on my parade with these remarks. He wasn’t. After decades of hoarding my work, I am happy to have put myself out there. This is merely a starting point. While I have been at this long enough to feel confident that I know what I’m doing, I see no reason to expect everyone to understand and love everything I have to say. It surprises me more that so many people, including strangers, continue to tell me how much they love and enjoy the poems.
John may be someone who feels poetry is not his strong suit, yet he expressed his thoughts beautifully and while he thinks he is “too dumb,” he is rather insightful. His assessment was relevant and helpful, because he is not alone in his feelings. Most of us want to love poetry. We associate it with romance. Much of it is introspective, like glimpsing into a diary. Sometimes we get it, yes, and sometimes we don’t.
Many poets are intentionally cryptic. Others don’t intend to be vague but, as they say; poets are artists painting with words and yes, we distort everything and can make deep-wrenching heartbreak a thing of beauty.
Then there is the perception factor. This had me thinking of the time my professor in college asked our class to write an interpretation of William Butler Yeats’ The Coming of Wisdom with Time. He gave me an A on the assignment then scribbled something unsettling, in red ink, in the right margin. What he said was, “This is a wonderful explanation of what the poem meant to you, but I was asking what the poem meant to the poet.” My thought was, yeah good luck with that.
In my poetry, John got this impression of a happy family with happy memories. Others I spoke with perceived a very deep sadness. People interpret things differently. We are all in different places, consciously and subconsciously. People have misinterpreted me, just as I have misinterpreted others. The poet is not usually there to explain it to you. Poetry is about what resonates with the reader, what strikes a chord and why, be it negative or positive. It’s about stimulation of thoughts, realizations, and reflections. It is often a soul experience, triggering emotions, and it is bound to be intense.
As I stated in the book’s Preface, I wrote those poems over a few decades where my perception had gone in different directions. I wrote many of them in my twenties. I mixed the good with the bad, the light with the dark. Some things healed and resolved in the end. Some didn’t.
Shutting down is one of the responses people can have in reading (and listening). Some are discouraged by an opposing perception. It took me a long time to feel secure enough in my beliefs to listen to different opinions with an open mind, to look at things from another perspective without fear. Often I am able to understand and sometimes agree. I had to get beyond this feeling that a person could take something away from me that had no substance to begin with—or that I could be wrong. With all this progress, however, there are deal breakers. Mine include justification of rape, violence, and oppression. We all have deal breakers. We are also triggered by the memories of our life experience. Another’s opposing view, however, can take away only illusions. It cannot take away what is real.
I appreciate John’s honesty. I will take that any day over:
“Nothing… I love you dearly!”
Then the passive aggressive behavior continues.
No, give me honesty. When people are honest, they present us with a gift of teaching us what we need to know or reminding us of what we tend to forget.
As if we need reminding, life sucks at times, and people may be struggling to get through the moment. I have no idea what is going on with another unless I ask.
Among my favorite teachers was one of the two male teachers in an all-girl high school. He taught English, my favorite subject. In junior year, he took our class to see the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. The original black and white version of A Christmas Carol featuring Alastair Sim was part of their holiday spectacular.
Though I saw the movie decades after its original release, I found this old 1951 trailer for the film rather interesting.
Dickens painted Ebenezer Scrooge sympathetically and quite vividly. I fell in love with the spirited imagination of Dickens in all of its brilliance, his extraordinary larger-than-life characters, and the potent messages behind every one of his tales. My love of 19th-century British literature began, along with an ongoing yen for England. I was sixteen years old.
It may have been Oliver Twist that I read next. I recall being shocked by the harshness of this child’s reality.
By the time I turned 25, my love for Dickens knew no bounds. I named one of the two dwarf parrots I owned “Pip” after Philip Pirrip, the protagonist in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. I named the other one Nicholas after the character in Nicholas Nickleby. I had a fish tank I called “Copperfield Gardens” in homage to the hero of the Dickens’ book I loved most, David Copperfield. David, with his courage, strength and beautiful, benevolent heart, triumphed through one heartbreak after another. In this version, below, he was portrayed by a very young Daniel Radcliffe, better known to all as Harry Potter.
The same year I got the dwarf parrots, a precious friend from England gave me a miniature book of Dickens’ life story as a Christmas gift. I moved several times over the years, and this little book has always made it back onto my bookshelf. I loved reading about the man behind the fascinating tales.
Charles Dickens was already famous when he helped injured passengers in England during the 1865 Staplehurst train crash.
I saw, in Dickens, true heroism in the face of disaster and everyday heroism, as he was a tireless champion for the oppressed.
This final video is fitting in wrapping up my tribute. It’s my favorite song from the 1970 musical version of A Christmas Carol with Albert Finney in the role of Scrooge. In future visions foretold by the third visiting ghost, a town celebrated Scrooge’s passing singing, “Thank You Very Much.”
I also thank my beloved Dickens for his incredible contribution to the world, for all the inspiration, and for truly enriching my life.
Some of my favorite Charles Dickens quotes:
“Not knowing how he lost himself, or how he recovered himself, he may never feel certain of not losing himself again.” ― A Tale of Two Cities
“I wear the chain I forged in life….I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” ― A Christmas Carol
“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
“A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.” ― A Tale of Two Cities
“Give me a moment, because I like to cry for joy. It’s so delicious, John dear, to cry for joy.” ― Our Mutual Friend
“I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.”
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”
“Never,” said my aunt, “be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.” ― David Copperfield
By luck, I have always had plenty of food and water. I have not had to experience the extreme oppression that is prevalent in other parts of the world. I have warmth. I have more clothing than I will ever need.
As if that is not enough, I have much more.
I am grateful that the passion in my heart lives on; that I can wake up every day and do what I love. I am grateful for the privilege of sharing what I love with the world.
I am thankful for people to cherish, people who need me and believe in me, people I can also believe.
I am grateful for all our heroes, warriors, and survivors.
I wish everyone could have what he or she needs, feel safe, and have the same rights. Therefore, I am grateful for people who spread peace, help others, help animals, help the planet and stand up for justice.
I am grateful for everyone I have ever known, and what they taught me.
I am grateful for forgiveness that brings peace and second chances.
I am grateful for solutions.
I am grateful for freedom.
I am grateful for change.
I am grateful for truth.
I give thanks for everyday pleasures—writers and books, music, art, dancing.
I am grateful for the sun, the clouds, and all the beauty that surrounds me.
I am grateful for home.
I am grateful for this moment.
I am grateful for imperfection, silliness, and madness.
I am grateful for fantasy and imagination.
I am grateful for kindness, for hugs and all the love and light in the universe.
I am grateful because there is something beautiful in everyone.
I am grateful to be alive, to have this day.
I am grateful for fond memories of childhood that overshadow the painful ones.
I am grateful for eighteen years of sobriety, for increasing clarity and for having been ready to heal.
I am grateful for all I have been able to resolve internally, for the darkest moments and rising from every fall.
I am grateful for the realization that my ego was my worst enemy and distorted my perception.
I am grateful for learning from my mistakes, for being able to work through the tough stuff.
I am grateful that I am not bitter.
I am grateful for not giving up, for hanging in there until it was okay.
I am grateful for laughter.
I am grateful for all the learning and evolving.
I am grateful for the beaten dragons.
I am grateful for finding my truth and my voice.
I am grateful for letting go of unworthiness, for self-respect and learning to stand up for myself.
I am grateful for learning to love myself as I am, for letting myself become kinder, learning to love deeply and be there for others.
I am grateful for learning how to be strong, how to share joy, for having learned to trust my instincts and myself.
I am grateful for defying limitations, for not shrinking to please others.
I am grateful for the desire to grow finally exceeding my desire to hold on, for the strength and courage to let go of the things that weighed me down.
I am grateful for the surviving child in me, for my strong wings, for doors opening for me and for the ones that closed behind me after teaching me what I needed to learn.
I am grateful for the shedding of masks and my embracing of authenticity.
I am grateful for the ability to see people and things as they are, including me.
I am grateful for being able to see things from another’s point of view.
I am grateful for the ability to feel empathy and witness the empathy of others.
I am grateful for the amazing struggle that is life.
I am grateful for the ability to keep learning, for all the opportunities to be better and do better, and for all these reasons to smile.
I am grateful because I have everything I need.
Lastly, I am thankful to those who care about my journey and who care what I have to say. Thank you for reading and listening to me.
To those who are struggling, I walked through fire to get here, and I am still walking. Don’t you give up!
I hate labels that create delusions of superiority—even something as altruistic as “light worker.” I’ve met light workers who believe they are angels while engaging in smear campaigns and sabotage of others with a high school “mean girl” mentality. They would show no empathy for those they attempted to break and destroy. They managed all of this, too, while claiming to be humble and holy, making sanctimonious judgments and patting themselves on the back for being somehow better at this human being stuff than the rest of us.
We are not “angels.”
We can go around and around in circles on the issue of judgment, just as we can on the issue of tolerance. (Yes, throughout most of my life, I have been completely intolerant of the intolerant!) As far as judgment, I have done many of the things that frustrate me to no end these days when others do it—even the light-working angel bit—halo, wings, the whole enchilada. I believed I was the shining example of everything everyone else should be. I often believed, when I didn’t have a particular character defect, or what I perceived to be a character defect; I could take the moral high ground and condemn the offender. I didn’t try to understand it because I hated to coexist with it and didn’t want to understand.
In my “angelic” pursuits, I was on board with the “one love” and fighting for humanity. I still am, but I had to fight to keep my ego out of it. That’s what being human is. It’s not fairy wings.
When I think about how much I have grown and changed in my life (and with such a long way to go), it seems unfair to be impatient and judgmental of others. I don’t know the circumstances that led them to where they are. I don’t know their struggle to get better.
I’m not advocating that we excuse or accept bad behavior. I am simply trying to understand.
Sometimes people are so committed to a perception about something or someone; they won’t give anyone a chance to help shed a little light or truth on the matter. There is some payoff in the denial. I have done this, too, in my life. So I keep putting myself in other people’s shoes, trying to look at situations from a place of compassion. I know I have needed that in my life, for others to do this for me. We all need this.
It’s difficult not to judge. We need to be able to judge in order to make wise choices. It is hard, too, not to hold a grudge. We develop expectations of people, and people will often fall short of these expectations. For me, releasing expectations must be an ongoing daily effort. Just like letting go of resentments. It takes work. In the meantime, I have to remain in check about my motives. We are humans dealing with humans and often, in punishing others, we also punish ourselves.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinéd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barréd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
John Keats is one of my favorite poets and for most of my life, fall was my favorite season.
I grow more resistant to the dark evenings of fall as I get older and more inclined to embrace the endless light of summer. However, autumn would not be the same with infinite light and glorious sun, would it? It is a cozy time of cool breezes, warm fires, and precious memories. The darkness, while haunting and a bit unsettling, has its mesmeric beauty.
The video below shows the splendor of fall with audio of Eva Cassidy’s spellbinding voice in ‘Falling Leaves’, a song about autumn and loss. For me, it is bittersweet. My husband died young on a summer day. I can relate to this sentiment—saying goodbye to two seasons. As I parted with a season of light, I parted, too, with a season of love. It is the end of a time and a necessary rebirth, yes bittersweet but beautiful.
A few years ago, when I began my literary fiction series, I chose New York City as the setting for my story. I was born and raised in Woodside, Queens, New York, so it seemed the obvious choice. I soon realized this was not the story I wanted to tell. The determination to write since early childhood had nothing to do with wanting or needing to tell my story. Fantasy drew me in, and I loved a challenge. Somewhere along the line, I became stuck in reality, and this created limits in the limitless realm of fiction.
I decided to find a different setting for my story, a place I’d never visited. I chose Glastonbury, on the banks of the Connecticut River. I would visit there eventually and numerous times but only after I created it first in my mind. Of course, these days, we have the Internet for research—images, maps and that little yellow Google person. One could travel the roads and study the map while sitting in a comfortable office chair drinking coffee, which I did.
This past Sunday was my first “actual” visit. I traveled there with my sister, Denise, my son, Jesse, and my nephew, Christopher. We decided we would go to Hartford first, which is about twenty minutes from Glastonbury.
We set out at 9 a.m. on the most beautiful September day. After an hour of driving, we stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Milford. Christopher tried the apple streusel French toast breakfast. Jesse had a bacon cheeseburger. Denise and I ordered scrambled eggs with biscuits.
Now, Jesse never wants photos of him on the Internet, which I thoroughly respect. He took these photos at Cracker Barrel, except for the goofy one where I tried on the cowboy hat. Denise took that one while Jesse watched Christopher take videos of a toy pig singing ‘Wild Thing’ and a toy dog singing ‘Dance to the Music’.
Our arrival in Hartford was at least an hour later.
We bought tickets for a tour of Mark Twain’s house and poked around the museum until it was time for the tour.
I was thrilled at the first glimpse of Mark Twain’s Victorian Gothic revival home. I could see why this place was so special to him. (As an aside, the guide usually referred to Mark Twain as Samuel Clemens, Mr. Clemens or Sam. As I am sure most people are aware, it was his real name.)
When we went inside the house, the guide asked that we refrain from taking photographs or touching anything except the banister while walking up and down the stairs. I must say, the décor is impressive. I loved the ambiance, particularly in the cozy library, which faced a conservatory that had a fountain and lush plants. The interior of the house remains dark for the tours because the Clemens family had gas lighting when they occupied the home. I love dim lighting, but I imagine this much darkness can become dreary, not to mention a little spooky at night, going up and down those stairs, probably with a candle. It prompted me to ask about ghost stories. The guide informed us that people claimed to have seen the ghost of Susy Clemens, the oldest daughter. She died alone in the house, from spinal meningitis, at the age of 24. Employees also made claims that the butler’s ghost continues to work there. We learned that the show ‘Ghost Hunters’ featured the house. Apparently, there are ‘Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours’ that sell out quickly, so tickets must be bought in advance.
Some people in attendance were not thrilled to hear about the ghosts. I hadn’t thought about that since I don’t seriously believe in ghosts. Denise reminded us of the time we all walked through the haunted maze at Bayville Scream Park. While searching frantically for the exit, I said (loudly) there was no way out, then suddenly all these kids were crying hysterically. Their parents had to assure them there was an exit somewhere. It’s a good thing I believed in ghosts when my own son was a child. I was less oblivious to people’s fears and concerns about ghosts and other creatures that likely don’t exist.
The tour, while quite interesting, took much longer than they said it would. Through most of it, I didn’t focus on our confinement to a relatively small space where only three people weren’t strangers. Toward the end, this reality became painfully obvious. I wanted to ball gag anyone who asked another question.
Outside on the grounds, we took more photos. I came up with the unoriginal idea to pose with a book, since I like those seemingly candid shots of authors reading books. I am still laughing about this. Denise (and even Jesse) took a dozen photos like that—me reading on the grass, on the steps of the museum, on a bench, etc. Everyone made me laugh with funny comments about these “photo-ops” especially since I hate photos of me, let alone sharing them on social networking sites. During the last attempt, Jesse thought he had the perfect shot when Denise came over and said, “Still with the book?” I lost it and laughed hysterically in the only picture you will see of me with the book. It was the way she said it. She is funny. They are all so funny. Christopher later decided he, too, wanted a picture while reading a book. It became a thing…a silly thing. Silly is good.
Here are a few of the photos, which include some other houses on the property, like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house. The Twain and Stowe houses are captioned at least one time.
I am including the link for anyone who would like to see the interior we could not photograph and some other interesting links.
By the time we arrived in Glastonbury, it was late afternoon. It was not easy to find certain places, and we often found ourselves on private property during the search. One or two of us got out of the car anyway, camera in hand. Jesse said we should have brought bail money. He wouldn’t budge from the car.
We drove around in circles trying to find the entrance to Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow’s pristine woodlands. That didn’t happen. The one person we asked sent us to the wrong place, though we thoroughly enjoyed the scenic drive through the woods of Kongscut Mountain Open Space and Mountain View Estates. It was gorgeous, but we didn’t take any photos. We were too busy looking for Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow.
Glastonbury is a pretty place. I wish we had more time to capture this in photos; however, it was great to be there. We did more laughing than anything, but that’s the best part of any trip. We had fun.
These are photos of my main character’s neighborhood (which is a bit too close to the cemetery). She attended Smith Middle School. Addison Park was part of her childhood.
Here is a link to the preserve we were looking for (Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow).
On the way back to New York, we saw the most incredible sunset. Denise loves to photograph sunrises and sunsets, but she was driving. I took a picture for her with her phone, except I never heard the click. I thought it didn’t work the first time, and somehow she ended up with I don’t know how many pictures of that sunset.
She was busy deleting sunsets at Red Lobster while we ordered our food, scolding me. We all joked. We were home in New York by then and starving. We savored every bite of our meals. Eating is part of the fun, too, isn’t it? Besides, we ran out of Twizzlers in Hartford.
My nephew, Christopher, was about six when he gazed out the window in the backseat of the car and said, “I’m just afraid I will run out of things to draw.”
He began at an early age, sketching and drawing – leaving people in awe of his talent. Every year his mom helped him put together a calendar featuring his artwork.
You can see brilliance in his eyes when he talks to you, especially about art. When I ask him if he can do a certain thing, the answer is, “Of course, I can!” He is chock full of confidence.
It is not hard to believe in someone like him. He is, above all, kind, caring and a sensitive soul. We not only believe in him, we celebrate him. He touches our hearts and remains such a light in a dark world.
I feel the same way about my own son who was educating strangers about Jupiter’s moons in the first grade. They are two people who came into the world with their own gifts and talents, giving you a clear sense of who they were from the start. I can attest to this much: when you know, from childhood, what you are and what you love, you cannot imagine any other life. I feel strongly, people must allow you to be the person you are, not the vision of you and your future they have in mind.
It is easy to recognize the apathy and pain of someone who never lived their dream, someone left to wonder what the outcome might have been had they followed their heart. You see glimpses of their fire, traces of the light gone from their eyes. They had their spirits crushed, their voices silenced, their true selves obliterated.
Children need to hold on to their natural confidence and infectious enthusiasm, along with the ability to trust their instincts. My heart tells me, we need to not only believe in them, but also show them how much we do.
Perhaps this is one reason experiencing an incredible contribution to the arts – everything from singing and drawing to dancing – can move me to tears. I realize people make incredible achievements every single day, ones I don’t see. They may not have an audience or applause, but their achievements are no less important. Seeing people get out there, however, doing the thing they love most and nailing it speaks to the person inside many of us that says, I want to do what I love as fearlessly as that. I want to celebrate that fearless moment where I succeed in reaching the hearts of others, where we all participate and share the passion and joy. My heart sings in contentment. It is one of life’s beautiful and most cherished experiences.
For me, it is.
In these moments, I don’t think about the harrowing destruction of our world or the harrowing destruction of humanity. It is a brief lull, because I don’t want to ignore that – all the suffering, all the pain, all the hatred. It has affected me profoundly since childhood, and while I search my heart for solutions, I can only counteract with love and a message of oneness. I believe we all can in some way, especially if we have a voice or means of communicating our passion and love to the world. It is one small contribution of many, until we can do better.
Those of us who have made it thus far with our dreams intact are eternally grateful. Whatever the passion – no matter what happens in life, it is there, and it saves you. It just might save others, too.
Like many, I am crushed by Robin Williams’ tragic death and saddened by the emotional toll life takes on even the brightest lights in our world. Another gentle soul and kindred spirit is gone. We remember the world can be cruel.
We don’t have to be suicidal to understand this kind of suffering. I know the excruciating heartbreak of not being able to reach someone who is depressed or addicted, thinking you finally made progress, then you hit another wall – hard. I understand the fear of losing that person forever.
It reminds me we have no idea about anyone else’s pain. We don’t know how hard they tried to bear it or what the rationale was. Addiction and obsession will distort perspectives and impair judgment, but addiction and obsession are not simply about narcotics or alcohol. The world we live in and the circumstances of our lives heighten sensitivity, and it all begins when we are too small to comprehend it.
Everyone is narcissistic to one degree or another, but extreme narcissism is so mercilessly destructive. Some people are afraid to “be seen” authentically, while others are afraid to truly “see” people and allow them to shine. The serpent that bedevils us is ego. I know it well. It is an ongoing effort to keep that sucker reigned in and right-sized.
I am no stranger to fear of failure/fear of success, two sides of the same coin, and I’ve watched friends achieve their goals only to find people pulling away. In either case, there is fear and maybe some need to punish ourselves or punish others. Sometimes people have the mindset that others don’t deserve success, because deep down they fear they themselves don’t deserve it, and they’re afraid to try.
I will never subscribe to the belief that I don’t deserve happiness or you don’t. I don’t believe in karma. Some people simply continue doing what they do and ultimately punish themselves. They don’t learn from their mistakes. However, everyone has the opportunity to right his or her wrongs and turn that ship around. I want everyone to learn and triumph and ultimately find happiness and make his or her dream come true.
It is all about healing or not healing. External validation is only a temporary fix. I saw this somewhere, and I believe it: “Everything we seek externally must be resolved internally.” Past turmoil is a boulder we carry everywhere we go. Some hold it up forever while others chip it away, one piece at a time.
My own inner circle has been small the past few years. I’ve spent the time healing and learning from cataclysmic mistakes. I have the fearful anxiety Robin Williams talked about. I know what it’s like when your mind doesn’t stop – the thoughts, the ideas, the obsessions. I deal with a less severe level of agoraphobia. Many people have difficulty, and it’s important not only to acknowledge this but also to share how we have been conquering one battle after another. I don’t want anyone to feel alone in these struggles.
Robin Williams talked about living with shame. It is often shame over things an adult might be able to sort out, i.e., this is theirs not mine. A child cannot do that, and that child is alive deep inside of us feeling shame that belongs to someone else. This is not to say we don’t look back on our own mistakes and feel overwhelmed by guilt and mortification. The combination of what is ours and what we take on as ours can be difficult to bear.
We don’t heal until we feel we deserve better. Everyone deserves healing, but for some it takes a long time and, sadly, some never heal.
I learned we must be patient with the healing processes of others, as beautifully expressed in this piece by Jeff Brown @ http://soulshaping.com/
“Emotional armor is not easy to shed, nor should it be. It has formed for a reason- as a requirement for certain responsibilities, as a conditioned response to real circumstances, as a defense against unbearable feelings. It has served an essential purpose. It has saved lives. Yet it can be softened over time. It can melt into the tender nest at its core. It can reveal the light at its source. But never rush it, never push up against it, never demand it to drop its guard before its time. Because it knows something you don’t. In a still frightening world, armor is no less valid than vulnerability. Let it shed at its own unique pace.”
Rest in peace, dear Robin. We loved you, and the world grieves.
I’m going to end this by sharing a few more things I found helpful.I’m always grateful when people share these great insights and reminders. I always need reminders!
18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Is
“Life is suffering. We have desires and expectations and egos, and we compare the reality we have, which is miraculous and wondrous, with this reality we desire. That somehow distances us from actually taking part fully with the reality we do have, and that creates suffering. For me, the thing that I love is that it’s all about the present moment.” Alan Ball
As I read Peter Cottontail to my son for the third or fourth time, feeling a bit tired, I bungled a line.
He said, “No, mommy, he lost one shoe amongst the cabbages and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.”
Yes, that is important! I hugged him dearly for that.
It was quite an improvement from six months earlier when he ripped Alice in Wonderland to shreds.
I wanted to be a relaxed, nurturing parent. I did not want to raise my son in a palace of dangers. I childproofed. I permitted him to take books from the bookshelves, sit in a pile of them and explore. When he tore up the book, that party was over. I had to tell him only once, because he knew already, I was reasonable and always for him, on his side. I taught him, we love books. We respect books. We read them. We enjoy them. We never destroy them, and we never crush the spirit of their creators.
The love affair with books began in my own childhood. I fell in love, first, with writing and reading. Writing is still the love of my life.
The fantasy genre inspired me – Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, fairy tales. It provided me with a much-needed escape from reality.
As I grew, the books I cherished most fit into the category of literary fiction, which is reality-based and generally more profound and philosophical. However, I never heard the term ‘literary fiction’ or all this talk about genres. Many people are still confused about it and have no idea what literary fiction is. I was confused myself.
I struggled to categorize my work. Yes, there is a love story. There are quite a few. There is a psychologically thrilling mystery. There are many of those. Yes, it is dark and intense with elements of gothic fiction and quite a bit of horror, but the ongoing saga does not revolve around any particular theme. Do you know why? It is literary fiction.
Literary fiction is pretentiously termed ‘serious’ fiction, though that could be misleading. It indicates a profound work with literary merit, a celebration of language, a critically acclaimed classic. However, genre fiction can also be poetry in motion and a work of art worthy of acclaim.
If I have to answer as to whether I am working on ‘serious’ fiction, well if it means painstaking torture, yes, I am quite serious, and this is as serious as it gets.
The well-constructed plot in literary fiction should be riveting, but it is not the focus. Literary fiction has a slower pace with many rewards for your patience along the way.
It is character driven with well-developed, introspective characters. The story is about the character’s journey. We become emotionally involved in his or her reality, the struggle, the challenges, the losses and triumphs. We glimpse into the character’s psyche, experiencing the love, the hate, the joy, and the pain. Works of literary fiction are good human-interest stories that move and inspire those of us fascinated by the human condition. Genre novelists can create deep characterization, but this is the hallmark of literary fiction.
Literary fiction defines some of the best books ever written: Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Rebecca, Little Women, 1984, Brave New World, Anna Karenina and many Shakespeare tales. The list goes on. My favorite authors, including Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters, wrote literary fiction in classic Victorian-style, which I love with all my heart.
I believe creative work in every category has potential for greatness. I have yet to find a genre unworthy of respect. I don’t think we should make fun of people for enjoying some nonsense book or series where the writing isn’t up to par. As professionals and critics, we may seek a certain quality, but I am of the opinion, if there is a mass audience for a book or series, and it made scores of people happy, it has earned its place in the world of literature. I am simply another writer in an endless sea of writers and one of billions of readers. It doesn’t matter whether I like it. Readers, by consensus, have the final word.
Here is the bottom line for those of us who share this passion: books are a treasure. I feel fortunate in a world of books. I am infinitely grateful. I am giddy with delight. This is our inspiration, our high, our bond. There is plenty of room for everyone, and I am beyond thrilled to be on this journey.
I would love to hear from you about what you love to read or write. In the meantime, enjoy these videos as part of my celebration of literary fiction with an appreciative nod to all genres.
I wake up at 4 a.m. every day, including weekends and holidays, and write for hours. It starts with nothing more than a 40-watt amber-shade lamp lit in the darkest hours, where I can see the moon outside my window. The focus is so intense, it is light before long.
Creating characters and the worlds they live in began as a childhood obsession. I wrote down names then added descriptions, developing their stories by continuing to add details. I had no idea why I did this at the time. My parents worried for a while. They relaxed a bit as I went on to write fairy tales and poems. When I wrote my first novel at 16, I used parts of those descriptions.
I held many jobs since then – secretary, assistant book manufacturing representative, assistant to casting director, computer system administrator, and paralegal/legal assistant. One summer, I was shooting photos for a model’s portfolio. Another day I’d be chatting with musicians about putting a band together. My ego was insatiable, so I was all over the place, wanting to do everything. I told myself, all I want to do is write while getting sidetracked at every turn.
Life went on, rife with challenges, full of adventures. I roamed the darkest corners to learn about the world and about myself. Setbacks knocked me down. I would get up eventually and find my way again.
More and more so, I began telling my story in the novels I wrote. I became so immersed in the reality of it, I would not steer off its course long enough to let my imagination truly come alive. I started over several times until I realized I didn’t sign on for this to tell my story. A storyteller can tell any story she wants, and so I was back on track.
To be fair, I learned about the book publishing process working in publishing. I chased down literary agents, got a press kit, and formed a writer’s club. I continued to educate myself about writing. I subscribed to the relevant publications. I contributed to an anthology, had letters published. There were assignments and proposals I turned down wanting to be true to myself and to the integrity of my work. I was devoted to mastering my craft.
I realize, too, I’d been busy healing. It was necessary for me to find the courage to free myself of belief systems that kept me in bondage. Until we fully heal, we remain in bondage to something or another and prone to all kinds of obsession. Disentangling from all that is a painful process and a lot of work but well worth it. Past turmoil is the baggage we can carry forever or make lighter and less cumbersome by checking it.
Perhaps it’s different for everyone, but the process is the same. It is discovering what you do not want nor want to be; who or what impedes you; who and what strengthens you. Learning to trust your instincts is essential. If I couldn’t do that as a human being, I surely could not do it as a writer.
In the healing process, I got a much-needed downsizing of ego. I went from “needing” attention to shying away from it with a reluctance to put myself out there. I am a firm believer that when it comes to extremes, neither extreme is right. It had to be somewhere in the middle. It’s been all about balance for me.
Becoming a parent along the way helped. It is a rare and unconditional love, and love of that magnitude motivates you to be the best person you can ever hope to be. It lifts you out of victimhood and allows you to live as the empowered hero in your own heart and to set the example.
Today I feel the greatest gift I have to give anyone is a true and genuine heart. That means questioning my intentions and, if necessary, correcting my steps.
Now, with a clear view of the story I want to tell, I’ve been busy incorporating my past novels into a series that could be six to eight books and possibly more. I have outlined and drafted the series and am in the process of finalizing.
I’m grateful to have a passion, something I love to do, and get to spend time doing every day – a joy that saves me, always.
The author as a young ego-driven New Yorker in Central Park. 🙂