A Quiet Return

Hello! It has been a while since we chatted. I missed you. This last year and a half has been quite the journey. I had to walk away, not from writing, but from posting my thoughts in this forum. The time is right to return.

Some really special things have happened since June 2019. I’ve been published in a book of poetry, a magazine, and an online motorcycle blog. All have been exciting and I’ve learned so much.

I’ve found a new group with focus on the publication process that has been fantastic. I’ve learned what I was doing wrong with my query letter and how to approach agents and I’m still on the fence about having a professional editor take my manuscript before a publishing houses editor does the same. In the meantime I’ve met some extroidinary authors, writers and artists and have found a very unique place of creativity and support. It was an unexpected gift.

My website is up and running, I’ve not got a Twitter account and have learned how to tweet! And I was going great guns with Instagram, but for some reason my phone will not allow me to post, but I can still chat so that’s a plus.

But this past year and seven months have been more than just a to do list. It came with fear in the form of Covid. My daughter suffered from it terribly and there was nothing we could do to help her. Then my husband’s friend died, followed by two more, then another and as of today, we’ve known ten people who lost their lives to this horrible virus. It truly took the rug right out from underneath me and our family.

Our family – we’re been together since August. Lives upended, jobs lost, relocating and reimagining what life will be like once we all have the vaccine and wonder when we can remove our masks. Those over our mouth and nose, and the ones we’ve pulled around us like armor. In a few short weeks it will be one year since the virus entered this country and stopped the world. Many have been crippled by it, lost their lives, while others lost their homes, their savings depleated and life turned upside down.

In the quiet, some of us found ourselves. We dusted off the guitar in the closet and bought new strings online. We now buy everything online, food, clothing, bass strings, and sheet music. We found music again and try to practice every day. The sound of scales and arpeggios fills the house. My husband’s bass vibrates the floors and pictures on the walls. There is a familiarity of normal we embrace. Workouts now are very different. Walks at Kensico Dam, yoga mats and exercise elastics sit near hand weights in the bedroom. These all came in handy after the scales highlighted how much homemade bread, rolls, muffins, cookies and cakes were baked.

So why did I choose today to come back and begin to touch words again? Well, recently like many of you, we began to clean out closets, donate items and sort through boxes tucked in the back out of sight. One of the boxes had a treasure trove of memories tucked inside. Photographs, birthday cards in crayon, faded ribbons from elementary school science fairs and a newsletter from January 1995, Issue #1. It was the first newsletter I wrote for my group family day care. The format was simple, a letter from the director (me) a section called Mamo’s Moment (my mom) who shared a recipe. A section that listed whos birthday we were celebrating and educational book list suggestions. The last article was called One Last Thought and it it just happened to be on Dr. Martin Luther Kings Day 26 years ago today. I believe there are no accidents, so I thought it was the perfect time to wake up Touched by Words that will be connected to my new website. As well as honor a very special man, whose words are needed more than ever before in history. If you will indulge me…

One Last Thought

What could I possibly say about the late great Dr. Martin Luther King in this small newsletter, that has not been said before, in much bolder more well known and established forms of journalism? Yet my closing thought is simply this, when one thinks of Dr. King many esteemed words come to mind; Doctor, Reverend, Nobel Prize Winner, Fighter for Equality and Human Rights, Husband and Father. All hold skills unique all by themselves. Still, he took each one and used each talent as a building block to create the man he became. Let us hope each of us can nurture our own children and each others children with the building blocks necessary to create the kind of self-esteem so very vital to become the best they can be. May we all have such great dreams and truly believe we can make them come true.” Breathe Deep, Think Peace, Patricia Young

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The New Normal Includes Gun Violence

There was a time when statistics stated everyone will know of someone who knows someone suffering from AIDS.  Not long afterward, statistics spoke up again and reported that everyone would know someone or be directly affected by cancer. Unfortunately, statistics barely whispered with the attack on Columbine, Sandy Hook, how many others?  And as recently as the Parkland shootings that we now see the words ‘gun violence’ on the news with unfathomable regularity. Children being killed in their classrooms. Adults being killed at their jobs. Families sitting in church. No one prepared us for such heartache. Watching the devastation of a family shattered. Maybe finding yourself saying a prayer as you put your child’s lunch into their backpack. Hugging them a little too tight.

Today, without any pride, I can say I have experienced all three of these statistical nightmares.

The first was in the mid-1980s. A brilliant man who wrote symphonies and lived across the street from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City was the brother of a dear friend. A vibrant, talented man wasted away, literally. Some of the nurses refused to enter his room at the hospital in Westchester. I was asked to bring my boom box (a large cassette recorder) and watched as a doctor wrapped it in plastic. Assuring me that although they did not know the full extent of the disease, he was certain I couldn’t catch it from the machine being placed in his patient’s room. “But, just in case, let’s wrap it in plastic,” the doctor said in a cheery voice.  I waited until he walked away and quietly removed the plastic before entering the quarantined room. My friend’s brother listened to his favorite classical composers as the hours of his life slipped away. I stood at his bedside, looking at an unrecognizable face, a skeleton body under a thin white sheet the weight of which hurt his skin. His passing silent.

Cancer has affected more people than I would want to admit. From my uncle Andy, a chain smoker. To Rita, who was a self-proclaimed gym rat, who went to the doctor because she thought she pulled a muscle in her back. It turned out to be stage 4 small cell lung cancer. She died in less than six months after the diagnosis. Leaving a child, she adopted just a few years before. To my dear sister-in-law Maureen, one of the most positive, caring, and completely selfless women I’ve ever known died from breast cancer. It was caught early, there was a question in the August mammogram, but the center who did the first test, and sent the letter saying she needed to come back immediately, was having some sort of mammogram special, and they couldn’t schedule her sooner than three months. She was told it was probably nothing, so don’t worry. Maybe if they had scheduled her sooner she wouldn’t have suffered so much. Her light and happy voice forever gone. We feel her absence every day.

But the end of May 2019 confirmed what statistics announced is the new normal. We would know someone affected or be directly involved in gun violence. That came true for our family when a man entered a business in Cleveland, TX, and shot and killed the secretary. Then he waited and shot two men who arrived for work that morning. This directly affects us. One of the men shot was my son’s boss’s father. His aunt, the secretary, his uncle severely injured. The murderer ran, he was chased and turned his weapon on himself. Which didn’t do a damn thing. Some people may say justice was served. It doesn’t feel that way to me. It doesn’t justify his actions or reasoning. He was being evicted from the property. Not paying your rent will cause that. But shooting and killing another human or yourself wasn’t productive, to be understood, or stand for change. That choice won’t help pay for overwhelming medical costs, rehab, therapy, or a funeral. It doesn’t solve anything, it cuts deeply and wounds anyone involved for the rest of their lives.

How many of you are affected by gun violence? Well, you are now if you know me. You have become part of a statistic. You cannot help but be affected by this one individual’s action. I can only hope it does not come any closer to you and your loved ones than this blog. So what do we do? We fought AIDS, we are fighting cancer. WE have to keep fighting, researching and work together.

WE must work together, or WE are going to fall apart. WE must find common ground for the good of everyone and not just the privileged few. Whether it be background checks, longer waiting periods for gun permits, or maybe come up with something no one else has offered yet. But the only way that will happen is if we each listen. Do not be so quick to judge no matter what your views are. Really listen and make an effort to understand the why behind the words. I’d take a guess that each why is different too. Each is valid and should be respected, be it you agree or disagree with them. Disagreement doesn’t mean wrong. This doesn’t have to be black or white. It can be a collaboration of ideas. No one has come up with a quick fix. Because it is complicated, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying to untangle it and make it manageable and functional. WE just have to keep trying. Keep communication open and be willing to do better for everyone. So that those who come after us will have positive things, responsible things, and meaningful things to say about us. Not to brag, but to simply understand the why behind the words, to form a solid foundation,  so we can all move forward together.

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I Think I had Bloggers Block!

Then I did something other than writing to help me write! And you can too!

How odd does that sound? This isn’t some method or trick to bump you out of writing. Nor is it gimmick to separate you from your money. I can only speak for myself, but it happened to me, accidentally and opened another door into my own creative process. Which ultimately enriched what I wrote.

I’ve been focused on writing now for many years. The usual workshops, seminars, books, and prompts like everyone else. Just yesterday I saw a writers workshop in Hawaii – now how amazing would that be? How could you not be inspired and open and gush with ideas without one prompt while sitting on a tropical island? But that’s not how life works for most of us. Although I have to say, this was one of the most affordable workshops I’ve seen in a while. But the cost did not include airfare, hotel or food for the week. So there is a lot to be considered and planned, and it did not guarantee an agent or publisher. None of them will.

Learning to write is on you. The practice, the understanding of the craft, ‘the process’ is on you and no one else. Although there are many who will gladly take your money to teach you the rules, they cannot teach talent. Again. That is on you. Learn from wherever you can, as much as you can, then rely on yourself until you get to the ‘professional’ side of it. Meaning the genre editing, polishing, and then attempting a query letter. I’ve said before that for me, writing the book was easier than the query letter lol!

But that’s not what I wanted to share with you in this blog. It’s Springtime in New York. The leaves are lush and green. Flowers are popping with color, and a new project for me is on the horizon. But I noticed my ideas were scattered and unorganized. By accident, I inadvertently tried something new, and by stepping away from the keyboard  – a door of possibilities was opened for my writing.

All it took was a piece of slate, six different paint colors (white, black, brown, green, blue, and yellow) a paper cup of water and three very sad brushes. I’m sure you’ve seen the classes held in bars or individual art studios that invite you to come with friends, have a glass of wine, and learn to paint a pre-determined picture. Although I’ve seen them, the invitation I received for this particular event was to raise money for an animal shelter that had burned to the ground about a year ago. I’ll start by saying the fundraising was a huge success, but I never expected that evening to support and enrich my writing. How could it?

It was dumb luck that the painting was a ‘Welcome’ sign of a sandy beach, a small boat on the ocean with fluffy clouds above. The subject was one of my favorites, but the brushes supplied were probably used hundreds of times. The previous users apparently scrubbed vs. painted with the ones I was given, so I made adjustments. If the instructor called for a medium size brush, I used the finer tipped one. Instead of following her lead and scrubbing the large pre-schoolers size brush across the top of the stone, my clouds appeared by tapping the scraggly bristles gently. It was a study in experimenting and taking a chance. We were encouraged to do more or less whatever we wished. The instructor provided an elementary lesson, we could take it, leave it, or run with it. No intimidation, no competition, just play. It was wonderful!

Now here’s the secret. It doesn’t have to be paint, it could be clay, putting together a puzzle, colored pencils, and a coloring book, it could be potting soil and flowers, it can be placing stones in a pattern in a corner of your yard, or if you don’t have a yard, perhaps in a flower pot. You can create a miniature garden in a large bowl or old fish tank complete with tiny lawn ornaments. Or try one of those DIY step by step crafts on Youtube – it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are having FUN doing it! Don’t judge yourself, don’t make excuses about being creative or un-creative – just try it! Play!

Did you know a study was done that went into Kindergarten classrooms and asked how many of the children believed they were an artist? Every single child raised their hand. The research continued through the grades until they reached 12th or Senior year. When asked how many students believed they were artists – only one, sometimes two raised their hand, while the rest of the class agreed. How sad is that? What happened that the joy of creating for the sheer fun of it was lost along the way?

This one unexpected surprise was an eye-opener for me. I love to write, but I love to do other things too. Things that may have taken a backseat when raising my own kids, taking care of a house, working outside the home are now whispering in my ear, “Remember.” For me, those forgotten loves have helped and enriched my writing. I’m more relaxed, so the words flow freely. Exploring for more things to paint on stone or canvas allows another level of freedom of expression.  Most people will not see my work, and that’s fine. It makes ‘me’ happy, it provides a sense of satisfaction.  And that is what I want to encourage you to do.

Make yourself happy! Have fun! Play!

Do something you haven’t done in a long time, search for that spark of joy. If you don’t find it in one thing, look for another, gather several if you wish, or focus on one. I’d love to know if you gave something new a try and discovered it helped you in an unexpected way. In the meantime, I leave you with two photos of my paint & sip fundraising evening. My daughter came with me – her fearlessness and whimsy are clearly shown in the second photo. She took the instructors invitation to do whatever she wished to an entirely new level! I love her work best. Although she, like the rest of us, has a “box,” I don’t think she’s spent any part of her life in it! May we all be free to be fearless, brave, and silly. Have some fun and see if your writing takes you to the unexpected!

Breathe Deep, Think Peace


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What a Lovely Surprise

What a lovely surprise! This morning I received an email from author Laura Munson. She selected a piece I wrote to add to her Spring Blog Series. I invite you to follow the link and explore Haven and all the writers who are on this journey as a writer too! Happy Spring 🙂


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So You Think You’re Book Is Finished. Really?

If you’ve followed my journey as a writer, you know where my roots are. You know I began my novel from a chance meeting followed by a NaNoWriMo personal challenge. After the bones of the story were developed, you may have read about the experience I had with two amazing editors, a toxic writing group, money spent on seminars and last year I was accepted into Writers Relief. Which I thought was going to hand me a golden ticket. It didn’t. There are no golden tickets in the traditional publication industry.

Yet I learned a lot about how NOT to write a query letter and that even if you pay top dollar for an editor, there are still mistakes you need to address. Everyone keeps telling me you have to have a polished copy of your manuscript before you send your first query. Well, that’s what I thought I had. Honestly. I did. After at least four drafts, and following line by line critiques. Reading the book out loud countless times and reconsidering the life of a hermit as a possibility. It began to dawn on me that I did not know if I was polishing my novel. Or just smudging it with a dirty cloth.

I’ve walked away from two writing groups. One as I mentioned was toxic, but I learned that I knew a lot more than I thought I did and I know the kind of writer I do not want to be. The second was a great group of men and women. All kinds of people writing different genres with different styles and of different cultures that made it a rich, rip-roaring time in conversation and personalities. But I didn’t get a lot done. There were so many of us, by the time my turn came to submit, my last submission was forgotten.

When they say everything happens for a reason, it’s true. The group was expanding and the facilitator changed, so were the dates, which did not fit into my calendar. So although the group is continuing and thriving, I walked away. At first, I worked by myself. Although the creation of the story is solitary, having it finished requires others. So along with a friend who donated her home twice a month, we formed a much smaller group of eight in the beginning and now we are six. This seems to be working perfectly. We are productive. Everyone’s work is heard, reflected upon and critiqued. We have interesting discussions and can finish a statement without having someone watch the clock because the library is closing.

For me, it was the best thing that could have had happened. This funky little group is reading my entire book three chapters at a time. I take notes, listen to their ideas, views, and opinions and decide if I need, want or should make changes. Grammar, punctuation, and flow are pointed out, corrected or removed. Discussions about the characters, the time, the nuances that make a story believable are addressed. I can see SO much more through six pairs of eyes! And now that they are at the halfway point. I find myself working harder than ever.

The manuscript beginning to shine. The elbow grease is paying off!

So I wanted to share with you – readers – writers of any and all genre – new writers, seasoned writers, would be writers, I think I’d like to write writers – go write! And enjoy the process of creating a story. And after you’ve read it a dozen times and have cleaned it up as much as you think you are able. Find a group, create a group, ask a group if they will read your work and really help you to polish what you have.

NOTE: I’m not talking about Beta readers! In my personal experience, I asked a group of people of various ages and backgrounds to read my book after the first draft. Yes, it was raw. It had faults. Although I cannot speak for anyone else, it made sense to me to ask people to read at that point, because if it wasn’t a good story, why should keep going? If they didn’t like what they read, how it flowed, how it ended, did they want more, what was the point of continuing? Because the work it takes to shape it into a novel is much, much harder than writing a story on a notepad. There are very different rules than you learned in high school, how to write a dialog without ending with, “she said, he said” after every line. What format to use, what font size etc.

The polish comes after all the creative and technical work is done. The polished novel is what agents and hopefully publishers want to see, expect to see and honestly deserve to see after receiving truckloads of dull! So although my journey is taking much, much longer than I thought it would and having my query letter written for me was the biggest mistake I’ve made so far (it was SO bad) and that having an agent accept my work has not happened yet. YET. I am not giving up!

Breathe Deep, Think Peace


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The Jury: Not Guilty. In MY Opinion: GUILTY of cruelty and so much more.

This was not the piece I had planned on writing for my first blog of 2019. Although the subject of animal rescue is one I hold near and dear to my heart. This is anything but a happy ‘beginning’ with an animal adopted into a forever home. The complete story of the event can be found on the CBS website, the following is my opinion of the event and outcome of the trial.

This is not the story of a deranged individual betting on dog fighting (or any type of animal fighting for that matter), puppy mills, or the neglect that is unfortunately in every state in America. This piece is to shed light on a man who a jury ruled was not guilty of animal abuse, but who, in my opinion, I believe is. And what is beyond upsetting is this man is a teacher. Who I assumed is educated with at least a BA, hopefully, a master, but apparently nothing else. Who in my opinion irreversibly and irresponsibly caused damage. Yet tragically, is completely unaware or simply does not care if he has caused any harm at all to his students. Which makes him, in my opinion even more dangerous.

I’m referring to a piece on CBS that reported the verdict of a teacher who fed a live puppy to a snapping turtle in front of his class.

It is my understanding this so-called teacher felt it was the humane thing to do. That he claimed the puppy was sick, so why not consciously take something he had no Veterinarian medical degree or experience in, to diagnosis and cause horrible pain and suffering to a baby animal. The puppy was alive when he put it in the water. The students who witnessed this said the puppy tried to paddle before the turtle lunged for it, tearing it apart as it drowned. Where is the humanity in that?

I can only speak for myself, but we have rescued puppies in our family who were terribly ill. One could barely lift her head while she vomited and defecated. It never once occurred to me to feed her to another animal to ease her suffering. We chose to bring her to a Veterinarian. She is now eight years old, happy and healthy. We’ve also rescued a seven-year-old hound that someone threw away. He was skin and bones when he came to live with us, had numerous health issues and will be on medication for the rest of his life. Now he is thirteen-years-old, 90 lbs and loves everyone he meets.

What damage has this man caused his students? Does he care? Does this so-called teacher have any expertise in PTSD and ALL that can be the cause of it? Not just war, not just physical abuse, not just surviving a rape or fire or domestic violence, etc. Did he even stop for a moment and ask any common sense he might have had to say, “Wait, I know that serial killers begin by torturing and killing animals. Maybe, just maybe “I” need help, maybe, just maybe there is a student watching this that will push him/her over the edge and gives permission to cause harm because my teacher did it, so it must be okay?” Probably not.

When people take part in dog fighting and witness over and over one of the most horrific acts of torture and mauling, they are psychologically changed. Dog fighting is a lose-lose event. It is witnessing a gory death and becoming numb to it. When someone as irresponsible and I really must question the mental state of this individual, given the responsibility of educating children to do something this heartless, I for one would not want my children anywhere near him.

If a teacher is teaching a lesson about snapping-turtles, I am certain there are numerous ways of demonstrating the feeding, which does not kill another living thing. If this teacher honestly feels it was the humane thing to do, then I’m guessing he would have no problem throwing a patient who is riddled with cancer into a shark tank to ease their pain and suffering.

I do not profess to be a psychologist, although I do encourage everyone to be open-minded about mental health. Their own as well as their family. We are interdependent components of skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, nervous, reproductive organs guided by the brain. All of which need care. Perhaps if our past physicians had themselves truly understood how humans think, what causes them to act and react one way or another. They may have encouraged and respected the exploration into the psychology of humans. Unfortunately, we are still very far behind in admitting this and providing care to everyone without any stigma’s attached. The medical industry needs to work together. Unfortunately, in some respects, it still appears to have egos, attitudes, and cliques. And don’t get me started on health insurance.

As an example of just how disconnected mental wellness is to physical wellness, let me share a personal story. For about two years I served patients meals in a local hospital. This job sometimes required us to wear protective clothing when going into a restricted patients room. If they had a contagious disease or unknown ailment, they still deserved to be treated with respect, kindness and offered a meal.
For a few days, I put on a bright yellow gown, mask, hairnet, and gloves to serve a man who was admitted while having tests run. He felt awful, he looked awful, but he always, always smiled when I knocked on his door. We would have conversations, discuss current topics, share stories about our kids. No one in my department was allowed to ask why he was there, or anything to do with his medical treatment, which was fine. Everyone had a role to play in his care, or so I thought.

One morning I watched a doctor walk into this man’s’ room. What stood out to me was that he did not stop to put on any of the yellow clothing, not even a pair of gloves. In less than a minute the doctor hurried from the room and disappeared down the hall. Any signs of quarantine were torn down as he passed. Slowly I peeked into the open doors and saw the patient sitting on the side of the bed. Sobbing. Grabbing a tissue box I went to him. He looked at me, no color in his cheeks, eyes red and said through his gasps that the doctor told him he was sorry, but he was going to die and there was nothing that could be done. He should go home and get his things in order. Then without another word, the doctor turned and left!

What is that oath doctors are supposed to vow? Do no harm. How was this not harmful? But what really shook me was that no psychological help of any kind was offered and I learned that unless a patient asks for it, it will not be provided. Seriously?!

Later I was talking to a friend that worked in the emergency department. He told me that there is a psychologist on call, but 99.9% of the time it is for the patients who have tried or would threaten suicide. It was for the drug addicts and inebriated people pulled from their cars after an accident. But to this individuals recollection, after working in this hospital for years, he never, ever heard of a psychologist being called to help patients in any other department. How can that be?

Now return to this person feeding a live puppy to a hungry turtle in front of his students. How does this not cause psychological harm? How many adults could have watched that unmoved? How many nightmares will his now confused (with what they witnessed, horrified, as well as learning the verdict) and distressed students have? And how many of the students who thought it was cool to watch, will now torture an animal and ultimately a person? This man whether consciously or unconsciously, in my opinion, taught animal abuse to a class in a school in America just a few months ago. I sincerely hope he and the students get professional psychiatric help from a licensed doctor.

So what do I hope happens from writing this piece? Hopefully, three things:

One, it allows me to put all my emotions in one place to try and cope with my own tortured thoughts. In my mind, I keep seeing a puppy in pain, being pulled under the water, being torn apart by a reptile. Just as people on the west coast reacted to the horror of 9/11 on the east coast, when someone is told of a horrific event, because we are human, we are affected by the act. Yet because we are human, we have the capacity to seek help and find ways to cope. Writing allows me to work through what I’ve read. Second, it also permits me to have a conversation with the reader. Expressing myself and my thoughts and asking if you agree, or agree to disagree with what I’ve shared. Lastly, the third is to consider having a conversation with your own children or a child you care about. It has been reported on the news, how do you want your child, student, niece or nephew to hear about this? What is really upsetting is that this teacher is probably going to teach again.

Which makes me ask – What and how do you teach your child to react, when they may see a teacher (or any trusted adult for that matter) doing something wrong? Immoral? Unethical? Makes you afraid? Of course, depending on the age you may not want to share the gruesome details of what this teacher did. I do not want to instill fear or cause more nightmares, but I do want to shine a spotlight on more than a verdict. This is so much more complicated than a guilty or not guilty verdict. Any of us who have been on a jury understand there is a lot more than most realize. That being said, I cannot help but feel that judgment was, in this case, wrong.

My hope is we give a voice to those who have none, and give permission and support to our children to never be afraid to use their voice and speak out against cruelty abuse. I applaud the students in this man’s class who spoke up. It wasn’t easy I’m sure but was the right thing, a brave thing to do no matter what.

Note: According to CBS the turtle was euthanized. State officials said it was a non-native species that requires a permit.

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Can It Really Be a Happy New Year?

Tonight we say, Happy New Year! But do we really mean it? How can we actually have a happy new year?

Depending on your age, think about how many times you’ve actually said those words. How old were you when you first said it? Do you remember it throughout the year or quickly drink to it and forget about it?

Not every year is great, but I do not believe every year is terrible either. Even with the added heartaches, disappointments, loss employment, the loss of loved ones, and those unforeseen events. There is good every year. With each new birth, there is hope. With each year of academics, there is knowledge. With each new skill, there is productivity.

So maybe, just maybe, there should be a little more thought in this yearly statement. More thought, fewer resolutions. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve made dozens of resolutions myself and a few of them have actually happened. Unfortunately, the majority has not, but that’s on me. So why do we continue to say things we know are doomed to carry to fruition? Instead, give some serious thought to what it is that is important to you and strive to make that happen.

An example? Well, instead of setting a goal of losing weight, promise to give yourself something healthy to eat every day. Instead of spending money on a gym membership right away, go for a walk in a park. Or volunteer at a local shelter to walk one of their dogs once a week. (That’s 52 walks by the end of a year. Not a marathon workout in any stretch of the imagination – but a little something good to do – for yourself and for a furry soul that benefits from your company and the exercise too).

What I’m trying to say is to do something you can do to celebrate YOU! Without guilt. Without selfishness, but selflessness. Once you get used to doing one thing that feels good and does something good, hopefully, you’ll want to do more. For myself personally, I’ve noticed if I am working out, I feel great. I sleep better, eat better, have a better attitude and take longer to get upset about stuff.

But when I stop working out, I don’t sleep as well, I’ll eat stuff I normally wouldn’t touch and will quickly snap to anger. As I continue this journey as a writer, this past year I stopped myself and allowed others to dictate how I felt about the process of trying to enter the world of publishing. Letting rejection block my progress. Doubting my abilities. Getting frustrated and second-guessing myself stalled my motivation and direction.

Just as quickly, with support and encouragement, the direction turned from one of self-pity and deep sadness to rejuvenation and excitement. It is a state of mind, not a promise, not a resolution, a state of mind to persevere. Without which my book will continue to live in my computer and not for sale in a bookstore!

It might surprise you as much as it surprised me that inspiration, which we know is found in unexpected places for sure, made a huge difference in my perspective with three larger than life men. Literally and figuratively. Which unexpectedly yet ultimately helped my writing. As much as I lean on the authors and writers in my life to guide me. Three men who have nothing to do with my writer’s journey stepped into my life. In the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure and honor to ‘meet’ David Goggins, Steve Weatherford, and Ed Mylett. (The latter two and I have chuckled on Instagram together. David’s new book Can’t Hurt Me is a New York Times Best Seller second only to Becoming Michelle) If you do not know their stories, check them out for yourself. Listen to their PodCasts, dive into their thoughts and see if you take away anything that will help you with whatever struggle you may have. Whether it is writing, weight, self-doubt, or any personal challenges.

I wish I could give you perseverance in a box to open and use whenever you wish. But it doesn’t come wrapped up with a bow. It is found deep inside of you and only becomes awakened when you choose to. So that is my New Year’s wish for you and for me. To ignite unexpected inspiration, be it a candle, a flare or a sparkler. Find the light that leads you to be a healthier you, more productive in what matters most to you and ultimately a happier you in this New Year.

Happy New Year to ALL of us!

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Thanks A Lot

My mom was an extraordinary woman. She was an amazing artist, a brilliant cook and the best hug giver I’ve ever known. She loved with every breath and was a pretty incredible problem solver. And yes, I mean from advanced mathematics to seemingly being able to channel her father when it came to building something or designing something to fix something else. She was witty and smart and was adored by many more than just me. I miss her more with each passing day and hold her teachings close to my heart. One of her teachings was recently presented to me again.

Today I had a conversation with a dear friend, who used my mother’s words to help me as I had offered them to help him not long ago. I shared one of these pearls of wisdom when he was having a difficult time. From problems with water entering his home through the walls of his basement which would cause anyone distress, aggravation, an unexpected expense. Combine that with facing a surgical procedure that could ultimately take his life on the table, or extend the gift of time with his wife. Thankfully, today he is enjoying that gift. But yesterday, when I was in a dark place, hearing my mothers words from him broke the tension and sliced through the pain.

“If money can solve your problems, you don’t have any.”

Nine words strung together that can stop you in your tracks. They can for a moment make you angry. “Damnit, I need more money.” But then they make you realize, there are those who have bank accounts higher than Mt. Everest, but if diagnosed with cancer, or ALS or dozens of different horrible illnesses, cannot buy themselves out of that situation. Having good health, a decent quality of life, just waking up in the morning, oh and throw in a little happiness. Money alone cannot compete or understand just how priceless that is.

“Thanks a lot.” Can be said sarcastically. You’ve been dealt a terrible hand. Learn your car needs major repairs, the unexpected expense of a new furnace, and so many other things can present themselves. You can shake your head, pound your fist and scream, “THANKS a lot!”  My dad would have added…”I need this like a hole in the head!” Yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard that before.

Or “Thanks a lot.” Can be said with sincerity, appreciation, and love. It can be spoken while holding hands at Thanksgiving. It can be said to someone who took the time to visit you in the hospital. Or bake you a casserole when you’re under the weather, or lost a loved one. We hear the word “thanks” a lot before and during the holiday. But it’s during those unexpected times, when you feel you are alone and facing a crisis you can’t easily share, that it means oh so much more.

So I would like to acknowledge and give thanks and celebrate my friend JD in this November blog. For not just talking a good talk. But to honestly and sincerely listen, hearing my pain, reaching out, breaking things down into easy to see pieces and building me back up. Without judgment, without ridicule or guilt but with my mother’s words. It’s not often you find someone that is a complete package. We each have friends who come in and out of our lives. Who bring spice or drama, support or adventure into our day to day living. But it is those special few, who you can lean on no matter what and their strength carries you forward. I’m so proud and humbled to call him my friend. I wish my mom could have met him (and his wife!), I think she would have loved him too.

Thanks. A LOT!

Breathe Deep, Think Peace


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Trick or Treat! A Future President Perhaps…

I love to see the creativity on Halloween. Of course, the nostalgic costumes of yesterday were sweet, with face masks you couldn’t see out of, that kept your face hot and sweaty and the thin elastic strap popped before the end of the night. Now costumes seem to be a lot more interesting, comfortable and fun.

The other day I saw a post of a woman wearing a black robe with a lace collar. A colorful panel was stuck to the front, a gavel in her hand and Darth Vaders helmet on her head. She was Ruth Vadar Ginsberg. A friend sent me pictures of their baby boy, dressed in little trousers, a pair of black glasses, his hair parted to the side and a white shirt opened at the chest with a little Superman crest peeking out. I’ve never seen such an adorable Clark Kent.  But my favorite was a father, dressed in a suit and tie, wearing shades and carrying his son who couldn’t have been more than a year old. Also dressed in a little suit, in front of a cardboard podium with the Presidential Seal on the front. The father acted as his bodyguard, his son smiled at the camera.

With all the unrest and division and anger in our country at this time. I just loved seeing this. It made me happy, it made me smile and it made me wonder if this little man would grow up to be one of our future presidents?

We can only hope that everyone grows up and puts a stop to trash talk period, insists that whatever party you support; Democrat,  Republican, Independent or LMNOP will actually work together for ALL the people. Can you imagine that once a person is elected to work in Washington DC, as well as local governments, that the label of ‘a party’ is put away and that American’s are represented and worked for without special interest groups and money taken from the rich to push elected officials to cater to them? Is that even possible?

How about the concept that taxes are fair, healthcare is affordable and America can once again stand proud, knowing we set the standard, raise the bar and expect nothing less than our very best.

Maybe, just maybe we could also take an educated look at our education system and stop pouring money into anything thinking it will ‘fix’ the problem. We have brilliant people living here, we should have amazing school systems that do not come with private price tags and the best education should not be for only the ones with the biggest bank account. Whose college loans are forgiven by ‘friends’ in Washington DC. How is that fair or right? And let us look to see just where the money is going in colleges and universities who in my life has gone from an out of state private school tuition in 1980 for $6000 a year to $60,000 a year (in many cases even more) in 2009. How is that possible? And how can banks tack on interest rates designed to keep you in debt as long as a mortgage?

I wish with all my heart, WE can all recognize the importance and strength of empathy. Learn to accept one another (not tolerate but actually have the maturity to accept everyone whether you agree with them or not) and try to walk in someone’s shoes other than your own, which brings greater understanding and much more patience. “Oh, What a wonderful world it could be…” Can be. Should be.

Until then, may you be safe and spooky. May your bags be full of treats not tricks. May we all enjoy the fun and freedom to be silly, dress any way we wish, and still go home to our family and friends when the celebrating comes to an end. Happy Halloween.

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In a Handful of Hours

Are you familiar with the saying, “What a difference a day makes”? I’ve had many days I’ve thought about that saying over the years. Be it for weather, nerves about a test, an upcoming interview, whatever you are most grateful was over with or resolved. The same holds true with feelings. In that split nanosecond when someone cuts you off on the highway, and you become enraged, to the relief in finding your wallet dropped in the car instead of the mall parking lot you left an hour ago. Feelings can complicate, enhance, repair and rip apart your soul. Time can be all-powerful and begin to mend them. Sometimes in a day or in my case, surprisingly, just a handful of hours. In my case, it was wee hours of the morning.

We had a pretty bad day. Like many uncomfortable events, it started with a misunderstanding and grew in tension that became so thick, a knife was useless. It would have required a chainsaw to carve through. When siblings lock horns, and feelings become fragile splintered glass needles. It is difficult for parents to navigate or offer advice. In our case, when one is leaving, moving out of state for a new job, a new beginning, ready to write chapters all her own. Yet the other sister is staying on, finishing undergrad work, looking at a path in a different direction next year. You do not want them to depart in anger. Oh, time will heal the harsh words and hurt feelings, but the relationship will be frayed, not torn, but damaged nonetheless.

As I crawled into bed, feeling terrible that nothing I could say or offer would be accepted. No mothers soothing words and kisses on the forehead can erase this kind of pain. The ache inside me grew but I knew they had to figure this out without me.  A few hours later as the light from my cell phone directed my way to get a drink of water, I found a note. Just a few words I could make out on the bright screen in the darkness. All was forgiven. Everything was right in the world. Immediately the weight on my shoulders lifted, it suddenly began to rain. A cool breeze flowed through the house and the air was lighter. When I went back to bed, it was with a smile on my face. Our little family was whole again.

That night, our children (funny isn’t it, no matter what their age, they will always be our ‘children’) healed one another’s feelings and hearts. Apologies were both given and accepted. They listened and actually heard what the other one said, how they felt and the why behind the words. They laughed and supported, cried and ultimately became stronger and better sibling to the other. I can not wish for anything more than that can I? It means the world to me that each has the other to lean on, be with and ultimately grow old together when I’m gone. To be honest, not having a sibling makes me feel a little lost in this world.

I miss my brother terribly, who I only had a relationship with for a handful of my adult years. In part thanks to a bitter relative who walked away and chose to carry anger and misunderstanding tightly inside. I can’t fix it, nor can I reach out more than I’ve tried in the past. But for my own daughters, seeing hurt and anger between them cut me deeply. I’m so proud that during the formidable years, with a little nudging, encouraging communication and growth to understand one another nurtured a special relationship. They were actually listening all along! How about that?

It is my hope we all can come together, feel the pain of the other, then figure out the path toward healing.

Our family is not unique, although it is stronger than some, yet my husband has always said, we know what needs to be done. We know the why and it is the listening and accepting how the other feels that is the key. To continue to love one another through that is the magic. And caring enough to go through storm after storm is the faith in family. Recognizing who the individual is as they are, not to change them into what YOU want them to be, but to help them be the best they can critical. Difficult true, but not impossible. I know that now.

How deeply emotional, yet healing and all-encompassing this experience has been. I am still amazed at what was learned in just a handful of hours. It is life changing. Just as life can change with an unexpected apology, “I’m deeply sorry I hurt you” or when a beloved member of the family unexpectedly dies, and you are blindsided with grief, it turns one’s life in an instant. It changes. It can change for the better in precisely the same amount of time. To be mindful and accept those moments are indeed a step toward if not enlightenment, serenity.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace


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