Saturday, December 31, 2011

What I Made Today: Win a Happy 2012 Whimsy!

For a bit of New Year fun... check out...What I Made Today: Win a Happy 2012 Whimsy!

Ring out, wild belles

I'm writing this to the sound of steady rain.  The temperature, for December in New England, feels downright temperate.  The puppies are curled up snoring at my feet.  My grandmother's little Christmas tree glows brightly on Don's mother's little stand.  The house is quiet, clean and exudes warmth and contentment.  It's an unexpected ending to a year that began with a lightning bolt, then continued on a rollercoaster of highs so high and lows so low - to borrow Don's phrase - I have literally felt breathless.

I've caught myself holding my breath and tensing my shoulders too often this past year, too...braced, I suppose, against fate's whiplash.  This year's crazy weather was a fitting backdrop for a year that brought my granddaughter on my birthday, then took my father a scant week later.   The last chains  of my connection to my exhusband are falling away - not only has my youngest turned 18, my ex announced plans to finally sell the house we owned when we were married and move to another city.  My writing has gone in a whole new direction and turn I had not the slightest inkling of this time last year.

Last year, I felt shattered and broken.  This year I see how the shattered places are where the light shines through.  Last year I was consumed with hopelessness...this year, despite the fact that many things remain the same and others have irrevocably changed beyond my control, I have a profound sense of hope and gratitude for the lessons this year brought.  One of the things I am most grateful for, is that they were, for the most part, swift and tempered with mercy.  This year I have a lot to be thankful for. 

Which is why, I suppose, that when Gina Barecca asked for New Year's poems, the one that came to my mind was Sarah Willams' The Old Astronomer to His Pupil:  "Though my soul shall set in darkness, I shall rise to perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." 
Whatever the coming year brings... be it Armageddon or anything else, it's my intention to go gladly into this bright night. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

All I want for Christmas... to know my children are happy, healthy and functional....

and that everyone else's children are likewise. 

Now, that be too much to ask?


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Light and life to all, it brings

It really does feel like a new year.  The world was washed clean last night in a rainstorm accompanied by thunder and lightning.  I have to admit that my only concern about the storm was that we wouldn't lose power in the middle of the finale of American Horror Story..which had a lot of satisfying moments and a few surprises. 

Yesterday afternoon, the house was quiet after my grandchildren and Libby left.  I fed and walked the puppies.  The silence and the solitude felt good.  I lit green candles and ran a bath.   Sunset on the longest night of the year found me immersed in a tub of salt water, meditating, sloughing and rinsing both literally and figuratively. 

Dinner was salad of mostly spinach - rich green seems to the color that keeps coming to me this season in many forms.  I added celery and carrots and strawberries for unexpected sweetness, and dressed it with raspberry vinagrette.  I made enough for breakfast, too, because I've learned that the more salad I eat - in almost any combination of fruit or vegetable - the better I feel. As a nod to my ancestors who venerated the pig, and to honor my own birth in the year of the Pig, I cooked pork tenderloins breaded in cornmeal and laced with the dried herb mixture my friend Rose makes.  Dessert was a scoop of sweet cream ice cream over a splash of Midleton's in a cup of coffee. 

I spent the evening cuddled up with Libby.  Before the old sun set, I brought the Samhain pumpkins inside, and this morning, we carved them up in four quarters.  With the new sun growing stronger by the minute, I'll take them outside today and leave them at the four quarters and the midpoints. 

I fell asleep to the sound of the rain and slept well.  I watched the new sun rise while I walked the puppies this morning, and noticed the thin crescent of the old moon shining behind the trees.  Blessed be. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What if this were really "it?" - thoughts on 2012

Exactly ten years ago, one Saturday morning in December, I woke up knowing I was going to die.  I still know I'm going to die, but the feeling that morning was that Death was more than imminent, it was a granite-hard Presence that was simply THERE, filling up all the available space in the room. 

I had no idea what to think.  Ten years younger than I am now, I was on my winter hiatus from running 7.5 miles six times a week.  I was healthy, I was strong.  But this feeling - final, implacable and inevitable - had weight.  It wasn't my was as real as I was.  The only thing that could get me, I reasoned, was a car accident.  And I had a lot running around to do that day, just a few weeks before Christmas. 

I remember doing some very fast thinking in the shower that morning, running through stages of grief outlined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.  I didn't have time for denial and anger, I remember thinking.  Yeah, dying today would sure suck, but so would dying on any other day.   At least I had fair warning.  If I really were going to die that day, I decided I could spend whatever hours I had left with the people I loved the most, doing things with them and for them.  And most importantly, I could savor the richness and sweetness and fullness of everyday, ordinary life... for as many hours as I had left, I could, in the words of Emily Gibbs, "just be."

And so I did.  What's interesting to me, looking back, and remembering that twenty-four hour period that Death hung over me like an elephant on my back, is how sharp and clear the memories are of that day, how much I accomplished, how fully I lived.  I didn't do much differently than what I had was right before the holidays and I had shopping and baking and wrapping and gifts to make, besides.  As a sidenote, the feeling turned out not to portend my death (obviously) but that of someone very close to someone I hold very dear - someone who died in a car accident.   Why I knew what I knew is still not entirely clear to me.  The experience, however, forced me into a state of prolonged heightened awareness that contines to affect me.  Among other things, the experience enabled me to admit to abilities long buried and denied. 

I tell this story today because the papers are full of stories about the Mayan calendar and the fact it ends a year from now.  I think it's a waste of time to argue about it.  Whether its December 21, 2012 collectively, or any other random day individually, we all have to die.  Everything ends, whether with a bang or a whimper.  That day showed me the gift that the awareness of one's own death, one's own potentially immediate death, can be. 

I remember the day I thought I'd die as a day I truly lived.   

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Season of the deep

It hasn't been busyness that's stopped my writing these past few days.  Yes, I've been busy; yes, I've been caught up with all the doing and the buying and the wrapping and the baking.  But it isn't lack of time or focus or even subject matter that has stayed my figurative pen. 

It's grief. 

This year is the first Christmas of my life without my father. 

It didn't matter that there were decades of years I didn't spend with him. 

He was there, his presence as palapable to me across the miles as the ocean. 

And now, he isn't. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grown-up comfort food

I was hungrier than I thought I'd be after my 22-minute stints yesterday afternoon.  A recipe on a new friend's blog, Spontaneous Accomplishment, caught my eye the other day.  Kathy is such a good writer that her receipes make my mouth water even when she's talking about food I don't like. 

At any rate, she inspired me to saute a purple onion and some garlic in olive oil while waiting for  my pasta to cook.  I added a third of a bag of spinach.  While waiting for the greens to wilt, I noticed the bag of Italian herbs and spices my friend Patrice brought me from her Mediterranean cruise. 

"You've probably never heard of the place," she said, as I opened the present and read the words on the packet.  "But it's an island -"

"Off the coast of Naples," I said.  Isola d'Ischia said the label.  It's the island my great-grandparents are from.

Last night when I opened the package, the scent of my grandmother's kitchen poured out.  I sprinkled on the herbs with a generous hand, and ate my supper curled up in my great-grandmother's rocking chair. 

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baby baby steps

Today is the day I take care of my grandchildren, I didn't have a chance to do much of anything at all, let alone do anything differently.  I did take a short walk up and down the hill with the kids and the puppies... I pushed Grace and walked Buddy and Jake walked Sam. 

When I got home from delivering them, I decided to do something a little different - I set  my timer and am accomplishing as much as I can accomplish in 22 minutes in different areas of the house.  So far, I've managed to tidy the kitchen, my bedroom and my bathroom, and started a load of laundry.  Now I'm checking through emails to make sure I haven't missed any in the busyness of the last week.  After I catch up on some correspondence, I'm going to take another 22 minutes and spend it putting away clothes, and tidying my writing desk.  These are small steps... but they feel good. 

Today also happens to be Libby's birthday.  It's now official... I'm the mother of four adult children.  More thoughts on that tomorrow....the timer is about to ring. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One small step

My determination to do at least one thing differently from the day before continues.  I've run out of 2% milk, but there's no more whole milk, either, so I'll definitely swing by the store for me. 

Yesterday I did a sun salutation, taking my time with each move, savoring each stretch, breathing mindfully through all the movements.  Then I spent another twenty minutes rolling around my miracle balls and my foam roller.  I know nothing is going to soothe out the kinks until the new mattress comes, but it helped.

I ate two salads, too - one with arugula and grapefruit in the morning, and one with my supper. 

I was hoping to get back to the gym today, but I can see that might be too much of a push.  On the other hand, it's one of those rare late fall days that hints of spring.  It's a good day to enjoy what might be the last of temperate weather. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Doing one thing differently

I'm not intimidated by the idea of change.  If things didn't change, nothing would ever be different.  The one constant about life is that it changes.... and when someone stops changing, they're dead.  I can adapt to global kinds of changes...the shifts and shivers beneath my feet.  I may not much care for them - like getting laid off just before Christmas one year, and right after it another - but I can adapt. 

What I'm not so much a fan of  are the kinds of slow plodding steps necessary to change something about oneself from the inside out.  These are the kinds of changes necessary if I'm going to realign what I've been doing more closely to how I want to live.  But they're slow and small and require attention to the kind of detail I'm much happier overlooking.

Each day, I intend to do at least one thing different from what I've been doing, and chronicle it here.  What I'm hoping is that the accountability will keep me disciplined and focused.  I'm not sure how long I'll do it...until I no longer feel the need to hold myself accountable, I suppose.  And since I can't predict how long that might take, I'm not making any promises I can't - or might not - keep.

Yesterday, I started off by switching the whole milk I've been drinking in my coffee with 2% - at least in the morning.  When I went out to a late lunch with a friend, I had cream in the deliciously decadent French-pressed coffee in which she insisted we indulge.  The coffee certainly deserved it.     

And I did something completely different - by going to the gym at 830 AM - on a Sunday morning, it was still relatively quiet.  It felt so good to get back on my favorite machine.  I spent the time concentrating on breathing, engaging in the same meditative practice I started when I was a child going deeper and deeper into myself while the adults around me droned on.  Inner space feels just as big - if not bigger - than exterior space but I can use some practice holding myself there. 

Today so far, I've blogged - a discipline I abandoned along the way - and I'm off to grab my yoga mat.  My neck and back are anxiously awaiting delivery of the new mattress on Thursday.  And I put 2% in my coffee this morning again, too. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Season of miracles

The moon is on the wane.  We are heading into the darkest part of the year without so much as a moonbeam to light our way.  Without looking at the calendar, I know the darkest night and the shortest day are about to coalesce into a long bleak stretch punctuated only by starlight. 

It somehow seems to fit.  This year has been punctuated by, as my husband likes to say, highs so high and lows so low, you can't believe the one exists when you're experiencing the other.  My granddaughter's birth on my own birthday, juxtaposed by my father's death seven days later, still sends tremors through my soul. 

And then there's the writing... I began the year by severing ties with my literary agents - a complete leap into the dark if ever there were one, and have ended the year by not only having a new book finished, but available both in print and eformat.  It's the best writing I've done so far, too.  I am grateful for so much. 

But still.  The loss of my father resonates with all the other losses these last five years, each one a deep hole in the center of my self.  Like an old sweater, I feel ragged, torn and tattered.  Last winter solstice ushered in a period of painful and prolonged soul-searching over my primary relationship that ended only with my dad's passing.  This year sets on what feels like at best an uneasy truce. 

These last few weeks before the solstice I intend to dedicate to cleaning up my act, so to speak.  There's a lot of good habits I've practiced only badly or haphazardly, and a lot of bad ones I've allowed to become more habitual than I want them to be.  I intend to look at places - and people - where the expenditure of my energy nourishes me, and the places - and people - that drain me more carefully than I've been the last few months.  I want to go into this coming darkness as clean and as focused as I possibly can.

Because after all, who knows what dreams may this season of miracles?    

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How David Met Sarah - seriously discounted!

Check out the paperback price on Barnes & Noble!   Twenty percent of the proceeds go to benefit the National Down Syndrome Society....How David Met Sarah is the perfect size for a stocking stuffer ;).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's a BOOK!

If you can't make the launch party... I hope you'll order your print copy.... How David Met Sarah is a great size for a stocking stuffer :)!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

One of my favorite cake recipes, slightly tweaked

2.5 cups cake flour

1/2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 brick cream cheese
2/3 cup coffee
1/4 c cocoa
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
red food coloring, if desired

Cream eggs, sugar and cream cheese together.  Add cocoa alt, flour, baking soda and baking powder, then coffee a bit at a time.  Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

The pleasure of your company... cordially requested at a Launch Party for How David Met Sarah on Friday, December 9, 2011, at 7:00 PM at the Phoenix Rising Arts Collective in Thomaston, CT, at 135 South Main Street in the old Seth Thomas factory building.

We hope you will come and celebrate with us! Meet the "real" David, have your book signed, see amazing exhibits by local artists, and nibble on delicious holiday treats supplied by Passiflora Tea Shop.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thoughts from the Stone Age

I spent a decade one week in the Stone Age.  For those of you not aware of the conniptions in Connecticut, the area in which I live was walloped by one of those once-in-a-century storms that came barreling up the East Coast with such unexpected intensity it propelled us right back into the Stone Age. 

Without a generator, without power, my husband and I and our puppies were completely without running water, flushing toilets, light, heat, cable, internet or telephone.  Even our cell-phone service was spotty, due to damaged towers.  We had candles, wood, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and candles.  And water, lots of unpotable water, because of the 18 inches of snow on the ground and in the trees and on the wires. 

It was like being on a camping trip with everyone, observed a neighbor.  Traffic lights didn't function, gas pumps didn't was astonishing to me at the rate at which civilization deteriorated.  One day pinnacle, next day dust. 

I'm not one for camping.  My idea of roughing it is Howard Johnson's.  I'm not a fussy girlie-girl like the lady in Barnes and Noble who fretted she couldn't get a hair dresser appointment, but I like to be comfortable and I am not into expending any more energy than absolutely necessary to accomplish anything. 

We talked to a lot of people who seemed to believe that what we experienced was just a harbinger of something that's coming that from their expressions leads me to believe they think it will be worse.  These were the folks who shrugged and shook their heads and said things like, "I don't know, but....well, I just don't know, but this feels to me like just the start." 

Which got me to thinking.  What do we know?  One thing I was surprised to learn is that apparently we can be polite on the road if we have to be .... I didn't hear about any deaths due to driving accidents, which given how agressive some drivers can be, myself included, I found astonishing.  So if we can scale back our emotions when we have to even in a situation like driving, where our responses can be almost habitual, it struck me as undeniable evidence for at least some optimism should the lights ever fail to come back on. 

In the midst of all the doom and gloomsayers, who seem to be sure that the glow of the human heart is measured in the same kilowatts that flow through the power lines, I think there is great reason to hope.  So what if it all comes crashing down?  That means we have a chance to build it better. 

What would you do, asked one grizzled gentleman of me one afternoon, as we were huddled around a bar, in the late afternoon gloom, gathered in the company of grim survivalists. 

I know my answer wasn't what he was expecting.  "I'd march myself over to Town Hall," I said, "And find the plans for that hydroelectric dam.  And then I'd go door to door if I had to until I could find all the people I needed to get it working again, and I'd make them keep at until we had our own kind of power." 

Wow, he said.  And he bought me a drink.

So for all you survivalists out there, the ones who are sure the end of it all is coming soon, stop panicking. The light that illuminates the human spirit isn't dependent on any power company.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A learning curve for writers?

A writing friend's blog recently generated the following question in the comments section and she invited answers.  It was such an interesting question and my sojourn in the stone age as a result of Winter Storm Alfred gave me time to contemplate a response.

What should a burgeoning writer’s learning curve look like?

I started writing without KNOWING how to write i.e. creating a scene, plot development, arc, transformation.
I’ve been to writers conferences for memoir over the past couple of years, and no one addressed these subjects! So I just kept writing. I wasted a lot of time.
I’ve been writing full time for 2 ½ years, and now just beginning to incorporate these practices. If I had known this from the beginning, I wouldn’t be feeling so burnt out and frustrated.
I understand the first book is the hardest, but I sure wish I knew the elements of writing a long time ago.....Lisa Mae on Soul of A Writer

Dear Lisa Mae:
When it comes to writing, I'm not sure there is a "learning curve," or at least not one readily identifiable. A learning curve suggests that there is some trackable, documentable, progression that a writer might follow. Alas, I doubt there's any such thing.

According to recent studies, true mastery of any skill is generally achieved after approximately ten thousand hours of practice. If you've really been writing for all of those two and a half years, you have not wasted your time.

Two and a half years is a drop in the bucket for most of the writers I know. And while I sold my first novel within two and half years of beginning to write it, my learning curve began when I began to write as soon as I learned to read – little two and three sentence stories. I wrote my first novel in high school as a senior project. I was blessed with parents who not only valued education enough to provide me with one of the best available in late 20th century America, but also generally supported my first literary attempts. Writing fiction is something I've been practicing since I was five.

According to Somerset Maughan, there are three rules for great writing, but no one can agree on what they are. No one can tell you what they are for you, anyway, and that for me is the number one difficulty when it comes to discussing measures by which a writer might gauge his or her progress.

In terms of progress, I believe much depends on where it is you want your writing to go. For me, as a novelist, the progression might be described as finishing a publishable manuscript, submitting that manuscript, getting an agent, selling that manuscript, and then going on to write and publish more.

But what exactly a publishable manuscript is, and how you go about producing one, are subjective matters all their own. Until relatively recently, memoir wasn't a topic you saw much of at writers' conferences.

The effective practice of writing involves craft, skill and art. In terms of skill and craft, certainly there are things one can learn and whether one learns those things in grammar school, high school, college or absorbs them on one's own doesn't really matter. I think one might identify a goal for yourself (I want to write a memoir as affecting as Angela's Ashes, or, I want to write a novel as great as Ulysses, for examples) and then plot a trajectory backwards. Just understanding that there are things you need to learn is a step in the right direction..or write direction if you will pardon my very dreadful pun.  Writing coaches, mentors, critique groups, community colleges, online courses and writing conferences can all be very helpful in determining specific steps to take.

But the real reason there is no definable or readily perceivable learning curve for any individual writer is that beyond acquisition of the skills required, beyond the practice of the craft, is the art of writing itself. I practice the art of writing every day not because I write well or badly or anywhere in between but because I must. And even after years of practice and a list of published work, the learning curve I perceive ahead of me is still a straight arc up.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blog Stop Book Tour now underway!

October 24 – Parents Global

October 26 – Return to Disney

October 28 – Reading All Year Long

October 31 – BookSpark

November 2 – Jenn Greenleaf: Wearer of Many Hats

November 3 – The Gift Blog

November 4 – Double M’s Take On Books, Blogs, Dogs, Networking & Life

November 6 – Writers In Business

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In the moment of the pause

The world is absolutely still this morning, the air as muggy as a morning in July.  The trees slump over the ponds.  The crows are calling.  A cold front is predicted.   The light has a strange coppery-gold glow as the sun rises behind the clouds, that's turning silver-gray as I watch. 

Outside my writing room, summer is spilling over in vines and heavy branches, in the fat bunches of wild grapes and raspberries, in the scent of mint and chamomile.  The world looks ripe and ready.  In the last few days, I've seen a cricket, a snake, a deer and a turtle, powerful messengers according to animal medicine. 

As I'm writing the tiniest spider has dropped down from the vaulted ceiling - a distance of at least ten feet above my head - and is bouncing and bobbing in front of my eyes.   I can't quite tell where it's spinning its web, because it doesn't appear to be anchored to anything at all.  The cheeky little thing seems to think it can use my keyboard because it landed on the space bar and scuttled away just in time to avoid my thumb.

In Native American tradition, Spider is a powerful auger of creativity and connection.  I wish all my Gentle Readers a rich and fruitful autumn. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Busy, busy

How David Met Sarah is becoming more and more real.  I should see the initial design for the cover art tomorrow.  Today I'm going down to meet my brother and my parents for some photos.

Here's hoping it's a good hair day :). 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Great news....

I've sent my new editor the final draft of How David Met Sarah!  This very special love story will be available in October...Please take a peek at the book's new blog:   How David Met Sarah...I'm so delighted to share this story with you!   

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today is the first day

There's a first day of school feeling to this morning, a sense that today something new begins.  For the first time I can remember, I think, the rhythm of my days are no longer dictated by someone's school year. 

I'm looking forward to finding out my own. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Welcome, boycotters!

I have to tell all my Gentle Readers about how much traffic I've been receiving from all the people who apparently believe American women should be boycotted.  My stats are going through the roof! 

As one of my Wise Women friends pointed out, boycotting by reading and commenting on an American woman's blog - not to mention drawing attention to it by posting a links to it on a forum -  is an ass-backwards way of boycotting anything, simply by definition.  But perhaps, to paraphrase Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride, they don't really understand the meaning of the word.  

I actually think it's quite wonderful that this person and all the others who share his views are boycotting American women.  Please keep that boycott going.  
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This Blog is Under Attack

Yesterday, out of the blue, for no reason I can discern, I began to receive comments on this blog from a bold, brave, stand-up for America guy called Anonymous who wants to "boycott" American women. 

His comments were filled with the hate and anger typical in men who feel emasculated by the mere presence of a woman whom they perceive to be out of their reach whether in ability, looks or achievement.   However, the most telling detail about this ant, in my opinion, is that not only is he angry, he's a coward.  

It's easy to throw rocks from behind the safety of a computer screen.  It's easy to pound your chest (or what passes as one on Anonymous) and write sweeping insults.     

And poor Anonymous isn't the only one.  There're millions just like him....scared, angry, pathetic little people of both sexes....willing to clog the public forums with the most despicable language, and yet unwilling to allow their names or faces to be known.   That's not free speech .... that's cowardice.  I don't know any women of any nationality interested in being with a coward, unless of course, she's one herself. 

So to Anonymous... What is most patently obvious about you from your comments is that you're a coward.  I'm glad you boycott American women.  I'm sure it's easy from the bottom of that pond.   

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Red Sky at Morning - Waiting for Irene

Red sky at morning: sailors' warning;
Red sky at night: sailors' delight. 

The sky this morning is glowing coppery, reddish pink.  You don't grow up on a barrier island without learning how to pay attention to the weather and you don't survive something like the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 without acquiring a respect for it. 

I wasn't quite three years old when a perfect confluence of events - a big nor'easter, a spring high tide and a full moon, all conspired to create the conditions which spawned the storm to which the records books still peg.  We lived five blocks from the beach, and five blocks from the bay.  I remember kneeling perched on a dining room chair, watching out the big picture window as the ocean came swirling up the street.  I remember the water lapping at our front steps and flooding the backyard.  

I remember neighbors gathering in our house, friends of my parents from more low-lying points on the island.  One couple had a little boy, just a couple years older than me.   We were watching out the window as night fell and the waters rose and the adults babbled behind us.  Suddenly, Ashie shook me and pointed.  "The gas station's on fire!" he cried.  

Diagonally across the street from my great-grandfather's house, which stood beside ours on the corner, was a gas station.  I looked but didn't see anything.  "No it isn't," I said.  The words had no sooner left my mouth than an enormous plume of blue and orange flame exploded out of one tiny window in the secord floor of the garage, as high as the roof of my great-grandfather's house.  

The adults behind us sprung into action. 

My mother remembers the shadows of the flames dancing on the walls as she ran screaming, for my 13 month old brother.  I remember the enormous civil defense truck that trundled down the alley, and the uniformed men who scooped me up and put me on my grandmother's lap.   I remember my great-grandfather arguing as my father and the other men hustled him down the steps of his battleship of a house. 

I remember my mother spreading blankets on a desk at a building on Wesley Avenue that I forever harbored warm and fuzzy feelings for.  Years later, on a walk to church, I remember asking my grandmother what the building was.  She said it was the telephone company's building and that it was used as a shelter because it was one of the few on the island built of brick. 

I remember waking up in my own bed and wondering if it were all a dream. 

My father said what saved the neighborhood was the fact that it was March, and still cold enough that all the roofs were coated with a thin layer of ice.  Also, everything was saturated by the rain which had fallen more or less steadily for three days, and the fire could only burn to the water line, which on that night, was nearly two feet.  The gas station might've burned down anyway.  So in a way, he said, what saved our houses was the storm itself. 

The world outside my window is absolutely still.  Every now and then a crow cries or a jay calls.  Only the crickets sing.  The dogs have been acting funny since yesterday.  The color has faded and the sky is leaden gray.  It's the sort of weather that would send my grandmother scurrying to close windows and tie up awnings and bring in flower pots. 

May Irene pass gently on her way.  Blessed be. 
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Today's the Day in Move Libby Into College Day.  Two of Libby' siblings- her biggest sister Kate and her big brother Jamie, who fortunately has remained a big brother at least in relation to Libby - are coming to help.   The fact that a hurricane named Irene is bearing down on the state adds an extra soupcon of I'm not quite sure what. 

Students at colleges closer to the shore line are being told to evacuate once they've moved their stuff in, but Storrs, CT, just happens to be one of the most geographically safe places in the northern hemisphere.  And we already had an earthquake last week. 

But today...whatever the weekend and Irene beautiful.  The sun's rising in long golden spears of light, the mist is rising off the ponds.  The birds are calling, the roses are blooming, the world is lush and ripe and beckoning.  I'm feeling rested and strong - all that good eating and those other healthy practices are paying off in terms of energy and awareness.

And I am about to get my life back in a way I haven't had it in more than three decades.  No wonder a hurricane is roaring up the East Coast in a way one hasn't in over fifty years. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rites of Fall

I woke up cold this morning.  For the first day in months, I was reluctant to leave my snuggled nest of covers.  This morning on the driveway, I saw one fallen red maple leaf.  Fall is on its way. 

My youngest and I have been shopping for college amidst all the back-to-school frenzy.  Libby is the fourth young adult I've sent marching off, armed with sheets and wall hooks and enough Easy Mac to feed a dorm floor.  It's the last time I expect to do this and the last time for anything is always bittersweet.  

I've watched the young mothers in the stores, the ones with lists and wrinkled frowns and children slipping under foot.  They congregate in groups in the back to school aisles, comparing cart contents, nervous as their own kids about what lies ahead, so desperate to do it right.  Relax, I want to tell them.  You screw up more by being overly worried than by allowing nature to take its course. 

Blessed be.

Friday, August 19, 2011

First Harvest

A few weeks ago, on Lammas Eve, I gathered the "first" harvest of my herbs and made bundles to dry on my hearth and on the four altars outside.  The plants have been happy this year, and I had big bunches of white sage and yarrow and sweet annie and mugwort.

It's been a fruitful writing summer too.  So far I've finished the story I wrote for my brother, David.  Written at a third grade level, its a story about a young man named David who lives at home with his parents and works in a mailroom.  When he meets a red-haired girl named Sarah, he's sure he's met the girl of his dreams.  My brother, who has Downs' Syndrome, doesn't care for most books written at his reading level because he's not a child.  But he loves this one, and he's excited about reading it in a way he hasn't in years.  Others who have read have been charmed at the way the story opens up the world of a person with my brother's abilities. Titled How David Met Sarah, it's coming out in October as an ebook on Amazon... I hope you will check it out!

I  also have almost forty thousand words complete of a first draft of a new novel tentatively titled All the Missing Pieces...I'd like to complete the first draft this month and seem to be right on track to do so.  Eating the Angel Way is once again being "re-visioned".... my sense is that the book when it comes out in November, right after Thanksgiving, will offer even more insights than the previous versions.  And there's my new blog... Hecate's Gate...which seems to be off to a great start, thanks to all the wonderful women who have left me comments and offered feedback.  In addition, I've held workshops and retreats and done some mentoring and coaching this summer... all which has left me feeling very satisfied. 

So that's what I've harvested this summer... how about you, Gentle Readers? 
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Look for more changes...

...coming soon!  I'm working out a publishing schedule, finishing up a new novel and editing some old stuff... can't wait to share more! 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My response to Susan Campbell's question

Susan Campbell is a columnist in The Hartford Courant.  She's one of the few reasons I continue to read the paper online. 

Dear Ms. Campbell - You asked a really wonderful question in your recent column:

"If Breivik is a perversion, and Christianity is a religion of peace, how does it get twisted, and not just in violent, life-ending ways like Breivik's?"

As someone who has wrestled with the same question for many years, I thought I might offer my answer, because I don't believe the answer lies in either philosophy, or in theology. The answer lies in history. When Christianity became the state of religion of Rome upon the conversion of Constantine, it grafted unto itself the power structure of the Roman Empire. Thus, what had been a cult of the have-nots, became most emphatically the property of the haves. The way Catholic dioceses are organized, for example, and the governing structure of the Vatican, comes down pretty much intact from the Roman beaurocracy created to administer the Empire in Constantine's day.

And the Council that created the current and accepted Canon of Scripture occured after this as well, so of course all the scriptures are skewed in such a way that taken as a whole, they support the power-over world view grafted onto the developing religion. Consequently, all sects of Christianity - especially the so-called fundamentalists - are susceptible to falling prey to these interpretations which I believe are most emphatically not in line with the actual teachings of Jesus.

These are simple facts of history. If you want to know what's gone wrong in a system, I think the easiest place to find the answer is in the beginning. But hardly anyone studies history that far back any more, and certainly the fundamentalists of the Christian world aren't eager to acknowledge the ramifications of that ancient infestation.

Sincerely yours,

Annie Kelleher

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Run right over... and check out RUNNING... a debut novel from PATRICE FITZGERALD about the first two women candidates who run for President.  When the past rears its ugly head, is the election already won before a vote gets cast? 

Check out Patrice's very fun story and download it to your Kindle for a great summer read!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Too hot for Viewshound?!

According to Michelle Chabin of Religious News Services, in her recent article for Huffington Post: "Passengers carrying any non-Islamic article of faith (emphasis mine), will not be able to fly code-share flights from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia under Delta Air Line's new partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines that is set to begin in 2012."

It's time to boycott Delta Airlines. (It's time to lead planeloads of women to Saudi Arabia in protest but that's another post.)

This is what happens when American corporations do business with Saudi Arabia - or really, any other nation that doesn't share what we publicly call our "values."  Delta just exposed Saudi Arabia as the misogynistic, narrow-minded, backward-looking "state" that it is. And this is how low (and how far) our corporations will go to make money. This is why the power of corporations should be limited. They exist solely to make money. The bottom line is that the decision to enter into the partnership with the Saudi airline that necessitated such concessions on Delta's side was money. Do you suppose anyone who signed that agreement really cared what the Saudis might stipulate, as long as the price was right? 

There are many forms of tyranny. The Founding Fathers - bless their 18th century minds - understood two: tyranny from above and tyranny from below. What they didn't understand was the tyranny of greed which has become manifested in the behavior of corporations.

The power structure of a corporation - which evolved out of the Rennaissance and is pre-democratic in origin - is essentially feudal.   The motivation of a corporation - one could argue its primary existence - is fundamentally the desire to make more money, or, more simply - greed.  Those at the top answer ultimately not to the "values" of their shareholders, but their corporation's bottom line. 

We have thrown off our kings and we have a political process. It's time to recognize the new kind of tyranny which has reared its ugly head - and end it. Now.

Note:  This blog was originally submitted to Viewshound to be published as an article,  and was rejected as being too inflammatory. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

School's out...

...for just about forever.  Unless, of course, I decide to go back to it. 

Libby's going to college, of course, so my dance with academia isn't entirely over, and I've mulled going back to school myself.  But a big chunk - the part that began in September of 1985 when my oldest daughter marched off to kindergarten at Nether Providence Elementary School in Wallingford, PA, and ended last night - is over. 

At one point, I had a child in college, high school, middle school and elementary school all at once. 

No  more lunches or last minute scrambles for lunch money.  No more runs for the bus.  No more absent notes or phone calls to the nurse.  No more field trips.  No more lost library books.  No more permission slips and emergency contact cards (which all had to be filled out in quadruplicate.)  No more report cards, no more teacher conferences - not that I ever went to too many of those.  (What was the point of going just to hear how well my kids were doing?)

And will I miss it... any of it?  Ask me this time next summer. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

I've survived my children's childhoods

My baby - the last of my four - graduated from high school tonight.  At approximately 7:20 PM EDT, my youngest daughter was handed her diploma amidst all the appropriate pomp and circumstance one small Connecticut town can muster.  Driven inside by the weather, there was something so endearingly Thornton-Wilderish about the whole scene, I half expected the Stage Manager to put in an appearance.

It was all exactly the way I remember mine, the way I remember my daughters' and my son's:   the speeches, the singing, the uncomfortable seats.  The girls always wear white gowns, the boys in a color.  There was even the same wreath of cigar smoke when we exited the building.  Libby distinguished herself admirably among her peers and her youngest graduated with the highest GPA and the most academic awards of them all.

But along with the pride, there's a sense of relief.     

"14 years and four graduations is a lot of graduating," I remarked to my oldest daughter, as we took turns dandling Baby Grace on our knees between the speeches.  "But I get a break now."

"Jake won't graduate for another fifteen years," she agreed. 

And he's your kid, I thought silently.  Blessed, blessed be.

Where the bullies hide

I'm hearing a lot about bullying these days on the parent pages and the mommy blogs.  People are talking about bullying, what it is, and how to stop it, naming a problem I have been all too aware of since I was in sixth grade and the target of class-wide bullying.  In retrospect, I understand why it happened. 

My parents, Goddess bless them, recognizing early that I was bright for my age, sent me to first grade instead of kindergarten when I was five.  Although they meant to do what was best for me, to some degree that decision sealed my fate.  Not only did I not learn all those critical life skills everyone is supposed to learn in kindergarten, children who become the targets of bullies are frequently the youngest, the smallest or the brightest child in a class. 

I was all three. 

The whole horrific experience lasted pretty much the whole year, to the point where the following year, when we learned about the Holocaust, I had a good idea what it was like to exist in a Hell from which there was no rescue. 

Then along came my ex-husband, and I learned about bullying on a whole new level.  That was the kind of bullying I encountered when he used his knowledge and familiarity of the legal system against me, filing frivolous actions of every kind, forcing me to use resources I didn't have in my defense.  (Whenever I suggested to members of the bar that the fairest thing the bar association could do was to appoint lawyers to handle divorces for non-attorney spouses for free or at reduced cost, my suggestion was always greeted with shock, horror or laughter.  But it's one way to ensure the playing field stays even.) 

Which brings me to a few years ago, when once again I encountered the same kind of attempted bullying by someone I considered a business associate, partner, attorney, and friend.  When I approached her as a hurt friend, she responded to me as a lawyer to an opponent.  What hurt all the more was that this person purports to be a highly spiritual person, one who supposedly left the practice of law to embrace a more spiritually-inclined way of life - which includes claiming to channel messages from otherworldly energies. 

So after much thought and reflection, I've decided to stand up to that kind of bullying.  It's taken me awhile to come to this place, because I waited to see if she would evince any remorse, contrition, or the slightest awareness she hurt someone who, by her own admission "never let her down, always came through for her, and was always there for her."  But although I've waited a long time, there's been nothing, and so, reluctantly, I've decided to act. 

Bullies come in all guises and in all forms.  Like every other form of evil, in order to exist, they must rely on good people doing nothing.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to succeed in saving a weekend...

...that almost got spoiled by the show last night?  Go see the latest revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" currently starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and John Laroquette. 

Laroquette alone is worth the price of the ticket and Daniel Radcliffe is just adorable as "Ponty" - the clever whiz kid who rises from window washer to Chairman of the Board in two acts.  His true love is played by a lovely ingenue making her Broadway debut, and the supporting cast is energetically fun.  Two thumbs up and five stars. 
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Knowing when to fold 'em

If life, as some wit once opined, is all about showing up, to my way of thinking there's nothing worse than not knowing when to leave.  Fish and guests, said Ben Franklin, stink after three days.  And old musicians who don't know that their music has turned to mush, stink even worse. 

I know our culture expects us to keep rockin' til we drop.  I know we're all supposed to be in pursuit of Eternal Youth.  I know I'm supposed to find something touching, even epic, in people determined to go rocking and raging into that good night.  

But there's something terrifying in the aspect of an aging rocker, hopping all over a stage like an epileptic monkey.  There's something especially terrifying about the said aging rocker performing in front of an audience full of golf shirts and bald pates reflecting more light than the disco ball hanging in the center of the room.  The way I see it, it's not just terrifying, it's pathetic. 

Last night I attended a show by Southside Johnny at BB King's Blues Club in NYC.  The first four or five songs were so awful, it didn't even sound like music.  Noise is not music, and cranking up the volume doesn't create harmony... it  just creates more noise.  At one point, when the audience was singing along "ooooooh" - Southside quipped "Oh, those are the lyrics you all know." No, I wanted to shout... those are the lyrics this audience can remember. I'm old enough to know there's a difference.

Don't get me wrong.  Everyone's entitled to relive their youth.  Everyone's entitled to enjoy their music - if that's what they want to call it.  But if Southside Johnny wants to remain the blues legend Beloved says he is, someone should do him the favor and tell him to hang up his mic.  Because it's time, Southside... past time.    

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Coming out of the Dark

I feel as if I've taken a long trip to a place at once faraway and around the corner, that I've been about as dead as it's possible to be without actually leaving your body.  But little by little, I can feel myself waking up and coming back, because after all, I'm not really dead.  Not yet.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stuff I've been doing instead of blogging...

1. Cleaning.  I've done my attic, two bedrooms and one bathroom so far.  Even Beloved has caught the bug. 

2. Gardening.  I've discovered the most theraputic thing I can do on any given day, other than staring at the ocean, is weeding.  Go figure. 

3. Soul-searching.  The last couple months have offered me a lot of Life Lessons... the big kind, the ones that make you want to sit up and pay attention.  And listen.

4. Connecting.  There's nothing like Major Life Events to show you who your friends really are.  There've been the friends who've sent cards, sent emails, phoned even though I haven't felt much like talking.  There've been the ones who've read this blog and reached out, even after a silence.  Friends like that have been the most healing of all.  Then there've been the ones who've turned on me and treated me less than kindly... like the one who thought the expression of her sexuality was more important than my expression of my grief.  And fortunately, I am discovering I have more of the former than the latter in my life, and for that I am very, very grateful. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Roof Above My Head

"It's winter on the island;
My heart is cold as stone;
Like a house deserted,
I'm roofless and alone..."
                                    From "Waking Ned Divine"*

No one does death quite like the Celts.  No other song quite describes the way I feel.  "Roofless" has a special meaning to me.  My father made his fortune in roofs. 

Not putting them on, mind you, but in inspecting them, in maintaining them and in helping people who didn't understand the value of their investment in the relatively thin layer of wood and asphalt most people have above their heads.  My father, in the words of one who knew him well, didn't just start a business - he created an industry.  No one had heard of a "roofing consultant" until Mike Kelleher came along. 

People don't think about their roofs, Daddy used to say.  They put them up and then they forget about them, until there's a problem.  And when there is a problem, people are at the mercy of contractors who don't necessarily understand exactly what's gone wrong either.  Long before people understood walls, people sought roofs.  The earliest evidence of a roof, in fact, dates back 40,000 years to Siberia. 

My Daddy was neither the rock beneath my feet nor the wind beneath my wings. My Daddy was the roof above my head.  Like the roof over my literal head, I didn't see him often or find it easy to get to him.  I didn't have to be with him to know he was there.  Because like a roof, I could always feel his presence in my life, no matter how far apart we were:  keeping away the storms, sheltering me through the darkness, bearing up no matter what the weather. 

*Click on either text or title to hear the song on YouTube.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Rain

I took a walk yesterday. All around the gardens, in between the raindrops, the first official spring assessment feels to me like visiting old friends you haven't seen in a while. The weather was so extreme this past winter, I was happy to see so much apparently has survived.

The crocuses, the hyacinths and the snowdrops are blooming. The silver willows have burst gold. In patches, the grass is turning emerald green, and the branches of the lilac are swelling with fat buds. The waterfall is foaming and Mr and Mrs Duck showed up exactly a month ago.

This spring has a particularly poignant edge to it. It's a week ago my father died. For years, my father wished he was well enough to travel, well enough to come and see the beautiful place where I live.

As I splashed through the puddles and inspected the beds and the bushes and the buds, I felt very strongly that this year, at last, he has.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April showers

The sky is baby-blanket gray this morning.  When I walked the puppies first thing this morning, my winter jacket finally felt too warm.  The air is moist, still and soft as a kiss. 

There are things that I could do today:  I have articles to write, emails to answer, phone calls to return.  But the heavy stillness and the silence call to me, to be equally silent, equally still.  I feel heavy and empty all at once - my bones feel too heavy for my skin; when I look down I am astonished that there is not a hole in place of my belly. 

I didn't think it would hurt quite so much. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hyacinths to Feed the Soul...

"If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul."

....MOSLIH EDDIN SAADI, Gulistan (The Rose Garden)

And fortunately, the hyacinths are blooming. 

so raw

I watched my father die.  I saw him draw his last short breath, I heard his last huffed exhalation.  I saw the pulse beneath his chin flutter like a butterfly's wing, then stop.  I held his hand against my cheek - still so much bigger than mine - and whispered the songs he used to sing to me. 

I saw, for just a moment, his flesh turn transluscent, as if a light rose up from within.  In that moment, in his dying, my father was as absolutely beautiful as he ever was in life. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

for my friend, debbie, and her dad...repost

I wrote this back in September, when my friend lost her dad.  I wonder how I knew then how I would feel now. 

How did it happen that the sun
Could choose to rise today?
How can the sky be bright and blue,
And all the world so gay?
The trees remain in full green leaf
The cars buzz to and fro.
The world remains as just it was,
A day - or less - ago.
But now you lie so still and cold,
Your race forever run,
Your eyes forever closed to mine;
Your suffering finally done.
Thus it is that mine begins;
I wonder how it is
That everything seems as it was
Before my world went black.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The lion sleeps tonight...

Michael Joseph Kelleher...

March 1, 1936 - April 6, 2011.

Good night, sweet prince - may choirs of angels sing thee to thy rest. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

hell to get old

"It's hell to get old," my father said to me, the last time I talked to him.  "You can't do any of the things you used to like to do any more.  You don't feel well and it's no fun at all."

The last I talked to my stepsister, my father's liver was failing and she was taking my stepmother to see my father one last time.  Don's booking tickets, my brother is already there.  I know my daddy is tired of being sick and being bored and being old.

I don't think he has to worry about getting too much older.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

looking forward, looking back

The bitter and the sweet side of life collided last night with a call from my stepsister in California, that my dad has been admitted to the ICU and was not expected to survive the night.  By 130 AM, however, his condition had stabilized, and I remain cautiously optimistic.  The last I heard, he was in very critical condition, but his kidneys had begun to function again, and his blood chemistry was improving. 

It's not too often that the Door swings wide in both directions at once.  Losing my father in practically the same moment I gain a grandchild seems like it would be too coincidental and synchronistic even for me. 

And yet. 

For some reason I keep remembering the morning my oldest daughter was born.  As I lay in that sweaty post-birth state of near delirum, listening to my newborn baby make noises like a kitten, I realized that her grandchildren - my great-grandchildren - would most likely live to see the 22nd century.  I thought about my great-grandparents, who were born in the 19th century.  Contemplating that span of three hundred years, I felt a twinge of connection to something that I believe is as close to immortality as it's possible to come.   

Thursday, March 31, 2011

welcome to the world...

Grace Elizabeth Percival ...

 arrived 6:01 PM...7 lbs, 14 oz.  20 inches.

"The best days are the days that babies come."
                                                    Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pretty Things

I have a lot of pretty things.  I collect them - when I worked I wore a lot of them.  But since I've been mostly working from home, I got out of the habit of wearing my pretty things. 

Why don't you try wearing some of your pretty things, my friend Doreen suggested.  Just for make you feel pretty. 

And so I've been doing just that.  Today I didn't have to be anywhere special, but I made a point of putting on a necklace and earrings to go with my hot pink sweater and turtleneck. 

My, you look pretty, two random people said. 

I can't wait for tomorrow to play with more of my pretty things. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tired of my clothes

I'm tired of my clothes, or more specifically, I'm tired of wearing jeans.  It seems that but for the brief respite in Hawaii, when I didn't even look at the jeans I'd worn to San Francisco, I've worn jeans in some form or fashion just about every day since last October.  And if that's not true, it still feels like it. 

I was bemoaning this fact to my friend Doreen who specializes in motivating people to change.  She suggested I go into some of the local stores and just try some things on. 

The very next day in the mail I received a catalogue from a store with just the kind of clothes I'm looking for - soft, comfortable and not jeans.  It also has a shop close enough to get to, and far enough away to be an outing - or, in Artists' Way terms... an "artist's date."

What about you, Gentle Reader?  Do you ever get tired of your clothes? What else do you wear, besides jeans (and sweats) that are just as comfy? 

Morning Pages

One of the key elements of an "Artists' Way" practice as created by Julia Cameron is a daily dose of writing she calls "Morning Pages."  For me, this has always been a source of resistance.  It's hard to make myself sit and just write.  It took me a few years to figure out why that was so and once I did, I realized I was finally ready to begin the practice, because, if you're not ready to committ to doing Morning Pages, in some ways you're not ready to do the Artists' Way.   

Morning Pages insist you pay attention to yourself.  Eating...the Angel Way encourages you to pay attention to yourself; Morning Pages require it.  That is not so easy.  I have come to find there's lots of places I'd really rather not go.  And what's interesting is that these are not necessarily negative aspects - these are as much unrealized positive aspects that are lying like lumps of gold in deep places I just don't give myself much time to go digging around in. 

But Morning Pages do. 

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mantra for change

It's been difficult to get myself moving these days.  Faced with large-scale, monumental Change as I am right now, my tendency is to retreat, cocoon, hunker down, keep my head low and hope the storm passes quickly. 

That strategy, alas, like other survivor strategies I developed along the way, isn't so effective, but since it's the one I've relied on for so long, I'm finding it especially hard to change it.  Most days, I find myself feeling as if I'm moving through a thick sludge of all the possibilities and details.  It would be very easy to come to a complete stop, crawl under my pillow and pull the covers over my head some days. 

But that's not going to help, I've realized.  And so, when I find myself feeling like that, I've started to ask myself this question:  Do you want to continue to feel like sludge? Or do you want to feel as if you are making some small step toward positive change? 

I can't tell you, Gentle Reader, how often I ask myself those questions these days.  But it seems to do the trick - no matter how sludgy I might feeling, so far it's done the trick to keep me forging ever so slowly down my to-do list into the future. 

What about you, Gentle Readers?  What keeps you motivated when faced with inescapable change? 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Getting the "juice"

People sometimes ask me what exactly an "intuitive" writing coach is, and what makes me different from any other writing coach.  And sometimes (frequently) I find it difficult to put into words exactly what it is that makes me different.  But a perfect example of what makes me different is the reading-session I did with a friend this morning, who is in the process of finishing a very personal memoir.  She's already someone who inspires many people to do great things; I hope she finishes her memoir soon because I'm sure it will inspire many more. 

However, my friend is experiencing some creative block - not necessarily in her writing, per se. 

As we walked this morning, she shared with me that part of her block extends to her sexuality as well.  "How can I get past this, Annie?" she asked. 

The guidance I got for my friend was that writing - like any creative process - is inherently sexual.  Sexual acivity is generative by its very nature...people who are highly creative are highly sexual, even if they choose not to express that sexuality overtly.  The blocks she was experiencing were related to theraputic work she was doing with other practitioners.  To deny herself sexual expression, she was cutting off the primal source of her own creative energy. 

The guidance I was able to give my friend included the suggestion to write the most highly charged erotica she was capable of for twenty minutes every day.   This was to be for her eyes only ....however, I wouldn't be surprised if my friend became the next A.N. Rocqueclare.

Sexuality is one of our most fundamental birthrights as human beings, and - like food - one of the most highly fraught arenas in society, religion and family.  But artists thrive on creative energy, artists require a certain amount of it in order to produce, in order to create. 

The next time you're feeling blocked, Gentle Reader, ask yourself when the last time you connected to that most primal source of your creativity? 


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Granny Annie's Irish Coffee

or, communing with spirits of another sort...

This is what I'll be drinking on Dead-Celtic-Pagans Day:

1 shot Middleton's whiskey (or any whiskey, preferably Irish)
3 Tbs Sweet Cream ice cream (vanilla will do in a pinch)
1 cup hot coffee

Pour whiskey into bottom of coffee mug.  Add ice cream.  Pour hot coffee on top.  If you have a brewing machine, use the smallest cup setting and allow the hot coffee to brew directly into the mug.  The top gets a creamy foamy head. 


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eating for One

A few weeks ago, I found myself in the grocery store.  What made this trip so memorable among all the trips I've made to the grocery store, and all the time I've spent shopping over the last 31+ years is that this was the first time SINCE COLLEGE I was there to shop only for myself. 

Since I consider coffee one of the four main food groups, it was easy to remember I needed milk.  Other than that, I hadn't bothered to make a list because, after all, I figured, I know what I like to eat.  Right?

Was I wrong. 

After fifteen minutes of marching through the store at what felt like triple my normal speed, I had exactly two items in my cart besides the milk: two pints of strawberries.  Then I stopped in front of the yogurt display.  This, at least, I reasoned, would be easy... I love yogurt.  Right?

Was I wrong.  What I realized after perhaps five full minutes of staring at the flavors (and suddenly there seemed twice the number of flavors I'd ever seen before) was that I don't know what flavors I REALLY like.  I know what Meg likes.  I know what Libby likes.  I even know what Don likes. 

But me....the one who can live on yogurt? I had to think hard about what flavors I REALLY like. 

I had a revelation standing in front of the yogurt that day.  I realized just how much of the food I'd been buying, preparing and eating over the last thirty years had been bought, prepared and cooked for other the point where it was hard for me to remember what it was *I* really prefer. 

I made another trip around the grocery store that day.  I went back to the front, to the produce aisle and I took my time the second time around. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

sic transit gloria mundi

That's one of my favorite quotes in Latin.  Basically it means "thus passes the world's glory," implying that all things pass away and all things change. 

And when things stop changing, you're dead.

But understanding that change is not just a part of life, but the essence and the substance of life itself is something else entirely, and living it... well, that's the difficult part. 

All things change, but that doesn't mean all change is easy. 

On the other hand, perennial optimist that I am, I know there's a lot of good in means you get to wipe the slate clean... you get to start over.  As one of the snowiest winters on records melts into spring, the enormity of the changes I'm facing slam into me sometimes like a sledgehammer to the solar plexus. 

One of my other favorite sayings is "that which doesn't kill you makes you strong."  That was my mantra the last time I went through the last round of radical change.  After this one, I should be able to lead the resistance when the aliens land ...well, in at least whatever place I happen to land in next.   

So welcome to my new blog, and to some degree, my new life.  I hope you'll stop now and then to read about it, because I really don't have any idea what's going to happen next. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Did you know that March... National Nutrition Month? In honor of this, my co-writer Karen Rider and I are concentrating on spreading the word about Eating...the Angel Way.  We'll even offer some incentives ...THREE GREAT prizes that will include some of our favorite Angel treats - like lavender tea.   Jump over to Eating...the Angel Way, check out the downloadable version of the Ten Guidelines Karen created, and join in the fun!  I'm thinking at least three different ways to win! 

and furthermore, the war will end.  blessed be. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

check out what the Angels have to say...

Did you know March is National Nutrition Month?  Neither did I until my friend Rose of Walk In The Woods, LLC made me aware of it! 

Are you in the process of adapting to a healthier lifestyle?  The Angels have Guidelines to share and messages to help...please check them out at ...Eating...the Angel Way. 

and furthermore, the war will end.  blessed be.

Friday, February 4, 2011

viva la revolution

i wrote this in response to a writing prompt on "new year's resolutions - why you make them, why you break them."

Viva la Revolution
A resolution has a weight,
Dragged from place to place,
Implacable as granite girdled round a waist
Or draped like moldering albatrosses,
Displayed for all to see.
Making promises
I break because I can
Wastes time I don't have.
But substitute
One single little letter –
That makes a change I can
Wholeheartedly embrace –
Give me my “New Year’s revolutions" -
Isn’t change what resolutions are about?

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Monday, January 31, 2011

i must go down to the seas again

home. Beloved and i were talking about home last night, sitting on the deck outside our room here in kona. where is it, what does it mean and how do you know when you're there?

for at least a part of me, the sound of the ocean, the smell of the salt air and the screech of the sea birds is home. i grew up hearing its intermittent roar - on saturday mornings when my father would take us down to the beach to walk, in the evenings, when my grandmother took us to the rides, in the afternoons when my mother hauled us faithfully down to the beach to play.

i loved to sit and watch the waves...long after i outgrew the need to jump them, i've never tired of sitting on the sand and watching the waves roll in. so here i am, perched on the edge of an island in the middle of the biggest ocean in the world...watching the waves, and feeling like i'm home.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

it is the dawning...

of the sun in aquarius. even though the outside world is frozen still and white, the light is brighter than it was, more golden and intense. in the trees, i hear a bird calling, the first i've heard in months that's not the harsh cawing of the crows.

things have been happening here, too. the Angel book is under consideration; i'm tweaking a manuscript to send to a new agent. a casual writing acquaintance bubbled up out of the blue with an opportunity that offers a way for me to utilize my skills in a way that will help others and myself.

im finding the more questions i ask, the more answers i get.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

happy new year

...and the lights went dark.

i'll be honest, Gentle life's turned upside down and inside out in ways i was completely not expecting. or maybe i WAS expecting it...and was just hoping against hope nothing was ever going to happen.

sort of the way most of us think about dying.

suffice it to say that in the last month since i posted, things have changed with a capital C, and whether these changes are good changes or bad changes or permanent changes or temporary, i have absolutely no idea.

all i know is that the winds of change are blowing fierce and hard. it gets scary at times, especially when i try to peer into the darkness i see llooming all around me. my last post seems eerily prophectic and hopelessly naive. and yet... and yet i DO hear the new song ringing.

what it is, and what it will ultimately sound's still too soon to say.

and furthermore, the war will end. blessed be.