I am excited to announce the release of my second book, Remnants of Severed Chains, a Kindle ebook bestseller in Women’s Poetry on Amazon.
As previously revealed in the cover launch, here is the book’s official description:
Remnants of Severed Chains is a collection of over forty new poems by Kyrian Lyndon, author of A Dark Rose Blooms. This book continues with the same intensity as A Dark Rose, running the gamut of complex emotions that resonate with many. The author explains in the book’s preface that Remnants is about the process of healing and recovery, the willingness to learn and evolve. Thus, she embraces life’s astounding and most personal revelations—afflictions, addictions and relationships, the good and the bad, capturing life’s most devastating moments along with its celebratory moments of beauty and joy. Kyrian’s exceptional handling of language to create vivid images has won her high praise. Rest assured, Remnants of Severed Chains is a uniquely moving experience that readers will enjoy.
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Print and Kindle versions of Remnants of Severed Chains, t-shirts, bookmarks, gift cards, and books by other authors including:
Remnants of Severed Chains is a collection of over forty new poems by Kyrian Lyndon, author of A Dark Rose Blooms. This book continues with the same intensity as A Dark Rose, running the gamut of complex emotions that resonate with many. The author explains in the book’s preface that Remnants is about the process of healing and recovery, the willingness to learn and evolve. Thus, she embraces life’s astounding and most personal revelations—afflictions, addictions and relationships, the good and the bad, capturing life’s most devastating moments along with its celebratory moments of beauty and joy.
In the poem “What Might Have Been”, she writes:
The robin in your tender heart Hungers for the red berry That titillates your tongue. She carols as the snow falls— And not with the chorus of the dawn In radiant spring. What might have been? Your voice silenced, The spirit of you Destroyed, I see glimpses of your fire From the light that has vanished From your eyes. Your wings soar, Only not to follow Your heart. Whatever the passion, Let it burn. It will save you.
Kyrian’s exceptional handling of language to create vivid images has won her high praise. Rest assured, Remnants of Severed Chains is a uniquely moving experience that readers will enjoy.
Cover design by Jah Kaine via jerboa Design Studio.com
LAURIE: My first book–a contemporary romance novella–Serendipity Summer, will be released by Booktrope Publishing in late October. It has been amazing to see what had started out as a popular blogging series a year ago, develop into a book. I’m excited to share Jake and Anna’s sweet, funny, and sensual story with readers soon.
KYRIAN: What were the challenges in bringing Serendipity Summer to life?
LAURIE: I’ve felt a strong connection to the characters since the beginning of the series. After taking notes on what I could do to improve during revisions and implementing many changes, I recognized the value in taking extra time to develop the characters. Even in a novella like Serendipity Summer, it’s easy to let things go that you normally wouldn’t with a full-length novel. With my editor’s help and several hours and weeks in edits, I am thrilled with how far this book has come.
KYRIAN: Do you write an outline before every book you write?
LAURIE: Yes. I start with a synopsis of the entire work as a general working outline. The synopsis changes and is updated as the work evolves. I keep it at no longer than a page. I also have a logline for each scene that consists of no more than two sentences summing up the objective of the scene at hand. Loglines are used in screenwriting to describe shows and films. I’ve noticed it’s helpful in fiction writing, also. The final outline I keep is a block outline on a huge sheet of paper to keep track of scenes. Blocks consist of numbered scenes that help me know where I’ve left off, and it comes in handy when I consider moving scenes around, so I can track them. Scene blocks consist of what character’s point of view the scene is in, the setting, the time/holiday/special event, plot points, notes, and anything else relevant to move the story forward.
I used the synopsis method for Serendipity Summer, my first novella, but am implementing loglines and block outline this time around for the second book. I admit, I can be pretty stubborn when it comes to outlining. I enjoy pantsing (as us writers like to call making it all up as we go along and doing the organization later.) Pantsing is an effective way to let the creativity flow to get to the end of a first draft. However, the downside to pantsing is the story could become chapters and chapters of a tangled mess. This isn’t always the case, particularly in shorter stories, but I notice as I build onto novella-length or larger books, it is vital for me to organize as I go. Outlines keep me close to the story and better aware of what is developing with characters, setting, and plots as I go. I have the relief of knowing if I take a few days away the outline is there as a checkpoint so I can pick up where I left off.
Each writer has their process, but I don’t know of one person who has regretted having an outline. I encourage writers to try different types of outlines until they find what fits for their story. It will prevent headaches as they revise, and it sets up the editing process to go smoother, overall.
KYRIAN: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
LAURIE: It would be fun to have Gerard Butler play the part of Jake and Julianne Moore as the lead actress if Serendipity Summer is optioned as a film.
KYRIAN: What are some of the ways you cope with stress or panic on a day-to-day basis?
LAURIE: I wake up, often as early as 3 am, to hear the quiet of the day before I go on with family and work duties. The silence that comes from beginning the day so early helps to focus on all the possibilities for the day. It is an opportunity for the blessings in life to wash over my thoughts before the noise intrudes. Since I live in the countryside, I often hear crickets or frogs, or in the fall and winter, the chilly wind blowing or a steady rainfall on the nearby patio. This kind of ‘noise’ is the kind my soul responds to with an expressive and warm love. It’s my favorite part of the day and does wonders to fend off the brunt of anxiety on a regular basis.
KYRIAN: How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?
LAURIE: I submitted my first short story at the age of nine, and I have been writing as long as I could hold a pencil. I think the early start of writing, reading, and my mother encouraging perfection in spelling and penmanship has altered my respect for the written word in a very positive way. A few helpful lessons I carry with me even as I write now is: have an eraser handy for mistakes because the process will humble and strengthen you all at once. Don’t give up; finish what you start; and even when the words seem perfect at the time, nothing is final.
Laurie Kozlowski resides in Northeast Georgia with her daughter and husband. Having small town roots, she’s intrigued with the charm, drama, and humor of the south, often weaving those themes into the fiction she writes. She enjoys incorporating family-centered themes and stories including friendship, hope, and healing.
When not writing, Laurie loves to make music and jewelry, picnic near the river, or catch the latest comedy or drama flick at a local cinema. She hangs out mostly on Twitter @LaurieKozlowski when she isn’t caring for her daughter, writing, or driving her husband crazy.
Chrissie Hynde, singer/songwriter of The Pretenders, recently blamed herself for the sexual assault she experienced when she was 21. She recounted her temerarious behavior in a memoir, subsequently stating that she got what she’d been asking for in an attempt to rebel or escape her dull upbringing in Akron. One of her comments was, “That’s what those motorcycle gangs do.” She was talking about rape, and she believes it was her fault.
When I read her words, I felt more sadness than anger. Sophie Heawood of the The Guardian expressed much of what I was feeling in this piece:
As she eloquently stated, “You can’t start blaming Hynde for blaming herself, or the whole cycle of non-empathy continues.”
I will say, taking responsibility for our part in what happens to us is an essential part of maturing. For me, that means examining what occurred, learning, healing, and deciding what you might have done differently . It doesn’t mean that the crime was not 100% the criminal’s fault, or that it can be justified.
Hasty generalizations are problematic as well. Rape is not what motorcycle gangs do. It’s what that particular group of bikers did. Similarly, rape is not what men do. Nor is it a typical response. Men are not barbaric Neanderthals who are unable to control themselves. Disturbed individuals, who, among other things, use aggression to deal with their anger, hurt, and shame, commit rape. A man who wants to persuade a woman to go further is not going to rape her unless he has those anger, control, and power issues.
Of course, being careful and taking precautions to avoid disaster is a good idea. Who said it isn’t? That doesn’t mean because you weren’t or you didn’t; rape is an appropriate consequence.
Then we have this crap about clothes or how women present themselves in situations where everyone is drinking and ready for fun. I’ll go out on a limb here and say, many people have made unfortunate choices in clothing, attention-seeking and drinking. It’s happened at some point, maybe more than once, especially in those young naive years. More people than we’d expect suffer from a lack of self-worth, too, and don’t have any idea why they have this compelling need to seek attention, admiration, and approval. It doesn’t mean they want someone to rape them. Have whatever impression you want and judge away about a woman’s transparent bid for attention if that’s your thing, but the outcome shouldn’t be violence, ever, or slipping someone drugs. I don’t care if you think that woman is stupid and drunk and making a complete fool out of herself. I’ve lost count of the people I’ve seen acting drunk and stupid. Get her help if you care so much, because that’s what she needs.
Most of us humans don’t want to hurt anyone, and most of us don’t know how easy it is for those who can. We don’t know that until it happens because we can’t imagine violating a person that way.
Rape statistics are mind-boggling, and yet, a recent campaign to create awareness #YesAllWomen resulted in a backlash from rape apologists and detractors of both genders.
Rape is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances.
By the way, anyone who thinks the ‘God’ they worship sends gifts of babies through rape is seriously brainwashed. That is horrific. Was he sending that gift to the ten-year-old girl in Paraguay—raped and impregnated by her stepfather? I don’t see how a person in a right state of mind could believe that. Besides, a child is not a gift or a toy or this thing you bend to your will at all costs. A gift is something you can do whatever you want with when you receive it because it belongs to you. A child is a human being you choose to bring into the world because you’ve committed to loving, nurturing, and protecting him or her in every way you know how. That child belongs to himself or herself.
Those who peddle this hogwash are more concerned about controlling women than they are about babies.
Much wrath is directed at the “angry feminists” who have a right, as we all do, to be concerned and angry. And yes, I’m a feminist as long as equality is an issue because that’s why feminism exists. I am also a humanist.
A while back in New York City, I attended an annual walk against rape with my then boyfriend. He came to show his support and didn’t feel welcome since there was an anti-men sentiment. It was true of that event, and it may be the case with some women. It’s not the agenda of all feminists or every attempt at creating awareness.
One of the chants that day was, “Women unite, take back the night.” I thought it should be all of us uniting—men and women. That’s the only way it will work. The majority of men are on our side, and guess what? Rape happens to them, too.
We have to trust people in life. Perhaps instead of taking advantage of that trust and the vulnerability of others, we could care for and about each other. That matters above everything, how we treat one other. Wouldn’t you agree?
A while back, I decided to host a radio show for the opportunity of sharing a platform with others.
As it turns out, I have less time to invest these days, but I know these inspiring stories give people hope and incentive to triumph. For this reason, I have decided on an alternative that requires a lesser time commitment.
I plan to feature guests on my blog in posts that will include an interview and much more.
You qualify if:
• You have overcome difficulties, recovered from trauma, addiction, illness, etc. (It can also be that you dealt with the above as a parent or spouse.)
• You manage an ongoing disability or psychological disorder, or you cope daily with a loved one’s disability/disorder.
• You are an awareness advocate/activist helping others.
• Your story is inspiring.
• You have a talent that is unique and inspiring.
If you meet these requirements, this is what I need from you:
1. One or more current photos of you
2. A bio if it seems relevant to the post
3. Your story or a work sample, possibly both
4. Links you would like to share in order of preference
5. Your e-mail address
Send this to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I receive your submission, I will send interview questions to the e-mail address you provided. You can type the answers or record them on audio or video. Once I receive the second submission, you are next in line for a guest spot.
Please note the following:
Send your initial submission as soon as possible. This project has a limited run with only twelve spots per year.
Be sure to include everything to avoid delay.
Be fully clothed in photos and videos you submit. That goes for males and females—no bare chests, etc.
You can be candid and creative, as long as your content is appropriate.
I will notify you before your post goes up, and I’ll give you the link to post. I will also share it with thousands on my social media sites. It will remain on my site under the Spotlight: Evolve tab.
So by all means, get started! It will be fun and could result in some new fans or friends for you.
In the natural world, I don’t talk much about writing (though I probably should). When I do, people often open up about their lifelong passions. Most of them seem to feel that although they’d love to do something about those lifelong dreams, they’ll never get the chance. What I believe, though, is that those passions tell us who we are.
For me, it began with the The Wizard of Oz. (I think it inspired many writers.) I was four or five the first time I saw it. They had me at Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but every scene that followed left me spellbound. By the age of eight, I wrote fairy tales and years later went on to poetry. At sixteen, I wrote a novel. It was rather an aimless story, and my idea of a hero at sixteen should have been a big red flag—as in, you need therapy, Kid, but it was over five hundred pages!
Another inspiration came to me at nineteen—someone else’s story that moved me. I submitted it directly to Random House, which you could do back then. They rejected it, but I followed up and ultimately learned they were willing to reconsider it if I reconstructed it in the manner they suggested. I was a cocky little egomaniac, so I didn’t. I scrapped that, too, and went in a different direction with Soul of a Child, my third attempt at a novel. It was the best of the three since I was learning to master my craft, but I kept getting sidetracked—relationships, work, other career options, illness, tragedy, one distraction after another.
Somewhere between 2003 and 2005, I began toying with the idea of reconstructing the three books into a series. Initially, I was too distracted to focus. I had to set small goals, just do it for an hour a day and then work up from there. As the momentum began to build, I made writing my priority. That meant waking up at four a.m. every day to work a few hours before getting ready for my job at a law firm. I may have fallen asleep anywhere between seven and nine p.m., but it was worth it to me.
In 2009, I completed the first book of that series, except I had started at the beginning of my protagonist’s life, and she was still twelve on page four hundred fifty.I realized then; I had been doing it wrong from the start. (This is why you need patience and resilience.) Not that I expect everyone to run into this particular problem, but there are plenty of problems to go around.
It occurred to me that, in this undertaking, I had tunnel vision. I was trying to get everything in and everything accurate as if someone had subpoenaed me to testify. Second, I was writing about my life. That hadn’t been the plan initially, but since such a peculiar story had developed, I felt compelled to share it. Then, starting at the beginning of a protagonist’s young life in a novel can be tricky—and boring if you are not careful. Charles Dickens, a master storyteller, pulled it off brilliantly in David Copperfield, but I obviously didn’t.
It was time to start over yet again. And this is all part of the learning process. You learn what a dumb-ass you are, and you fix it. That’s true of life, in general, if you’re doing it right, and it’s certainly true of writing.
I had to part with much of the material I initially wanted to include. As a writer, I knew that deep down. The emotional connection to this saga was blinding me. One of the first things we learn as writers is to write what we know, but it’s okay to learn as you go, to research, and to, quite frankly, make shit up. It’s fiction, damn it. If someone wants to write about his or her life, that’s great. It wasn’t working for me. Fiction is what inspired me, so I reached a point where it no longer mattered what actually happened to someone at some point and what didn’t. That made it a lot easier. I could focus on the storytelling aspect. Once again, the foundation had to be tweaked, all of that groundwork. I would end up with a fictitious story loosely based on a story that was true for someone at some point or another (as it should be). Isn’t that how it usually goes?
I went through thousands of pages of notes and poured over the old manuscripts. Eventually, I had everything organized into folders. Now and then, I show someone the obsessively, compulsively, and meticulously organized file folders on my hard drive, and they can’t believe what I’ve done here. I can’t believe it either.
My eyes were blind sometimes after a day’s work. I fought distractions like they were demons. I put together two volumes of poetry while working on this first book of the series and got one of them published. (The other will be out soon.) Those are good distractions, but there were not so good ones. And there were also sudden waves of anxiety (seemingly out of nowhere) not to mention the occasional moments of outright fear. I drank water, opened windows, got air, and just let myself breathe; reminding myself it will all turn out okay. My fellow writers understand this: Often it is just you and the moon, you and the rain, or you and the sun outside your window reminding you that life is passing too quickly. But it is, indeed, okay. In fact, most of the time, it’s quite peaceful and beautiful.
I have been fortunate to receive an abundance of praise thus far for whatever I have put out there. I am fortunate, too, to have wonderful friends and family members, particularly my son, my sister and my nephew, all of whom have cheered me on at every turn. Their encouragement and support mean more than they know.
I have writer friends who can attest to the fact that you will lose people along the way. In fact, when I was dreaming of all this at eight, I had no idea what a thick skin I would need. Some people will wage a personal passive aggressive war with you, and you can’t waste too much energy there. The “not enough to go around” syndrome is real, and the people who suffer from it perceive your gains as their losses. Leave them to sort it out. You don’t have to. People will get mad at you for even wanting what you want, or they want you to fail for whatever reason they decide. Let them. You did the hard work, earned your accomplishments, and that’s what matters. It helps to focus on that, keep working hard, and doing your best. The rewards come, and then they keep coming.
I know, too, that no matter how tough it may get, I’m in. I have always been a writer and will always be a writer. It’s what I do and who I am, and I’ll deal.I have immense gratitude for being able to do what I do and for the privilege of sharing it with others.
If you ask me, it is a miracle that I managed to get this far, but I have completed the first book of my series. It is now in the hands of my editor. It was such an insanely long journey that I marked the day and time, August 17, 2015, at 5 pm. And since all the groundwork is complete, the subsequent books in the series won’t be far behind.
It’s a trite saying by now, but if you don’t believe in you, no one will. For many of us, getting to that level and staying there is in itself, a journey. I know, too, we can always find reasons, excuses not to do it. You have to muster up some courage and become part of the celebration of triumph. As I see it, there are two corners, the cheering corner, and the grimace corner. Everybody in the cheering corner gets a taste of victory. Camaraderie begins, and it leads to making dreams come true. It’s contagious. In the grimace corner, they just continue to whine, criticize, and make faces. It’s about what’s in your heart. Ignore them. Just do it. I’ll be holding your hand from afar.
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.)
It is a delightful honor to present this guest post from author and activist, Rachel Thompson (pictured above). I got to know this phenomenal lady when we began following one another on Twitter. She was a guest on my radio show back in January, discussing the #nomoreshame project along with Bobbi Parish and Athena Moberg. Rachel writes beautiful prose from the heart with refreshing honesty. Here, she discusses her latest book, Broken Places, and why someone who hasn’t had similar experiences, should read it.
Award-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places. The sequel to Rachel’s first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.
PRAISE FOR BROKEN PLACES:
“BROKEN PLACES succeeds as the gritty memoir of a woman who was sexually assaulted when she was young and the author’s story of survival will surprise the reader because of its candidness and unexpected ending.” ~IndieReader
WHY SHOULD SOMEONE WHO HASN’T HAD SIMILAR EXPERIENCES READ THE BOOK?
by Rachel Thompson
Thank you for hosting me, Kyrian.
One of the reasons I wrote Broken Pieces, and the newly released Broken Places, is to give people an idea of the aftermath of living with childhood sexual abuse in an emotional, almost lyrical way. Poetic, really, as opposed to clinical. A personal view.
The books deal with my own experiences, but there are universal truths that many people, particularly women, are familiar with: depression, anxiety, PTSD, and how it all merges to affect my life now as a woman in all my many roles, in both positive and negative ways.
I’d like to say that it’s not something many people will experience, but sadly the statistics refute me, as one in three girls under the age of eighteen will be sexually abused, and of those, 90% will know their abuser; one in six boys will experience the same. And that’s just what is reported! (Source: RAINN.org)
The question many people ask me, if they haven’t been abused, is if writing about dealing with these tough subjects is cathartic, and the answer is: yes and no. Yes, because the response has been amazing – connecting with other survivors, starting the weekly Twitter #SexAbuseChat (Tuesdays at 6pm PST) with therapist/survivor Bobbi Parish is especially rewarding, as is co-creating the #NoMoreShame Project Anthology with Bobbi and survivor/life coach Athena Moberg (published later this year by Booktrope).
No, because it doesn’t change what happened. Despite having dealt with much of the feelings of shame involved (I was eleven when the abuse occurred), I still deal with nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety and depression. Writing about it doesn’t change the past, but what it does do is help others understand that survivors aren’t whining or using our experience as an excuse in life’s difficult moments.
Being a voice is crucial to me, so survivors and non-survivors alike will understand with compassion what so many women experience. Broken Pieces has won many awards and hit #1 on several Amazon lists. Broken Places has already hit #1 Women Authors and Poetry – I’m quite excited by the reception and the wonderful reviews. I hope your readers will be, 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.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Stigma Fighters’ CEO and founder, Sarah Fader. Here is the podcast from that interview.
Via Stigma Fighters November 29, 2014 Press Release:
Stigma Fighters is an organization dedicated to spreading awareness about mental health issues in high schools and colleges around the United States.
Stigma Fighters began as a blog series where people shared 1000 word essays about living with a variety of mental illnesses. The organization was founded by Psychology Today and Huffington Post Blogger, Sarah Fader. The basis of the program focuses on the invaluable benefits of sharing one’s story. Now, Stigma Fighters is coming off the Internet and into high schools and colleges. Stigma Fighters chapters are being established throughout the United States, beginning with the New York metropolitan area.
Choosing to bring Stigma Fighters to a school will allow students a place to safely discuss mental health issues. The organization seeks to empower student’s voices and allow them the opportunity to share their stories with confidence and without fear of being judged.
Contributors to Stigma Fighters include Keith Law, ESPN journalist, Rachel Thompson, best-selling author and HuffPost Books Blogger, Michael Coleman, Once Upon a Time actor as well as people from around the world including Australia, The United Kingdom, and Canada.
For further information or to bring Stigma Fighters to your educational community for speaking events and student involvement contact Sarah Fader, founder. Email: email@example.com
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
On this month’s Heart-to-Heart with Kyrian radio show, my guests, Michael John Sullivan and Kathleen Nash shared their experience of having been homeless. They also talked about their recovery and their advocacy for the homeless. They have wonderful messages for everyone struggling and anyone who cares about the struggles of others. You can listen in on this podcast.
Kathleen Nash is a uniquely creative individual. Photography and other forms of artwork are her passions. She also builds websites and works with her son, Dennis, who creates beautiful wire wrap jewelry.
Kathleen shares more about her journey in this blog:
Michael John Sullivan is the author of Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness (Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster). Library Journal named Necessary Heartbreak one of the year’s best in Christian fiction for 2010. His second novel, Everybody’s Daughter (The Story Plant), was named one of the best books of 2012 by The Examiner. Michael published his third novel, The Greatest Gift (The Story Plant), in October of 2014. He is currently working on his next novel, The Second World. He is also the creator of the SockKids children’s series. Visit thesockkids.com to learn more. A former board member of the Long Island Coalition of the Homeless, Sullivan has written several articles about the plight of the homeless that have been published online by CNN, the Washington Post, Beliefnet.com, the Huffington Post, and Patch.com.
Michael has contributed a blog relevant to our topic today, along with a link to an article he wrote for CNN a few years ago. You may read it here:
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!