Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Dad

"You're made of love, Dad," I said to my father a week before he died. "And you're going back to love."

He smiled, preferring to bark about the cracks in Medicare's structure through which thieves and charlatans could sneak. “Seriously, Sal. That company charges me $100 per month for the oxygen because I don’t qualify to have Medicare pay for it,” he groused. “They would charge Medicare $300! For the same oxygen! Makes no sense.”

Even in his weakened physical state with dozens of medicines coursing through his veins trying to strike the equilibrium that would keep him alive, he fussed about the business of health. “But Dad, you can’t worry about this now. You should be calm, preparing for that other place.” He smiled as if he understood for a second that I needed to talk about his inevitable journey. “Are you afraid to die?” I pushed him there.

“I...just don’t... want to die... choking,” he coughed out the words that came out in spurts. He could no longer speak a full sentence in one breath. “I’d like... to die... in my sleep.”

My dad attended Catholic Mass in a dutiful way, even served as a trustee of St. Dominic’s Church in Southington, CT. To any stranger, my dad already held his first-class ticket to heaven. But I knew that when I scratched the surface of this ritualistic servant, he was scared. He had already experienced death once and didn’t like it.

His heart had stopped in 1987. Diagnosed dead in the ambulance on the way to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, he recalled hearing the paramedics yell, “We’ve lost him!” After which he slipped into a state of terror where there were no tunnels with light or angels reaching for him. Instead, he fell down what may have been Alice’s rabbit hole spiraling in black and white. Down, down, down. Without light or a sensation of levity, my dad was scared. After coming through the “big one” in 1987, my dad’s life changed. He stopped drinking. He wrote voluminous and apologetic letters to his children about how he regretted the heavy drinking. And we got to experience our soft-hearted Dad for the first time.

I still recall walking into his hospital room on my 22nd birthday only to find him tied down to the bed gripped with DTs from his alcohol withdrawal. The doctor gave him five years at the most to live. 22 years later, I walked into that same hospital on my 44th birthday, the day after he was rushed there for shortness of breath, and said, “Dad, you’ve had 22 years of great life. A bonus.” He hadn’t realized that 22 years to the day had passed since he was lying in that bed after having been given a second chance in life, after having traveled down the rabbit hole of terror. I only just realized the coincidence that for half my life, I knew the crusty man who drank a lot and for the other half of my life, got to know a sweet and sober gentle-hearted person.

“What do you do when you get scared, Dad?” I asked.

“I pray.”

“That’s good.”

“It helps.”

“Call me crazy, but I think our relationship will be even better from the other side,” I said. He looked at me mystified. To him, I must have sounded like a loon, but I truly believed that when the strain of physical life was lifted, he would see more clearly. Somehow, we die from this world and move into a space that is clearer, not burdened with the gravity of the material. Our perceptions change. We see more. We understand. I suppose I just wished that from that other place, my dad could know and see me better.

“Never... really thought... of it like that.”

“Well, I believe in that other place and I’ll keep talking to you, even if you don’t talk back.”

I offered those words to my dad about 2 weeks ago.

He died a week later.

Here I sit a week after my dad died in a morphine-induced sleep, after a bout of unexpected choking that my sister helped clear with suction, trying to find a way to talk to my dad. I was so certain that I would feel him and that my relationship would be even better. My dad thought emotions were for sissies, so I dared not tread where his heart bled. I figured I would somehow reach him in a deeper way after he died, share my feelings and thoughts he might have scoffed at here in this elemental world of dust and shadows. In that lighted place, my dad would see better.

I’m learning a different lesson.

For some reason, I cannot feel him as I expected. I don’t converse with him at this time in the way I thought I would and I don’t visit those heart-felt places. Something in my grieving has caused me to crust over. I dare not tread in that vulnerable space. I have a fear of something I can’t put my finger on.

“What do you do when you’re afraid?” I hear my own words to my dad.

I take my own advice and pray.

Perhaps, the lighted path I expected my dad to embark on where he would “see” me better has actually done something I didn’t expect...

Helped me see him better.

"Damn health care!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Josie & Miley

This was the moment eternalized in Josie's mind.
We don't actually know the person with the head that takes up most of this frame, which is unfortunate.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Miley & Trace

My girls are still in shock, hung over from last night's Miley Cyrus concert in Hartford. You can see their three mesmerized heads in the foreground of the picture. We were so close to the stage that I felt like I was staring at Miley's butt cheeks all night long. If you notice from the photo, she forgot to wear her pants.

I love Miley, but as not as much as my girls who waited with bated breath for Miley to touch them, make eye contact, take their flowers -- whatever celebrity crumb she could throw in their direction. And she did. She smiled at the crowd making each of her fans feel special, as if she would go to bed that night and dream of that one little girl whose heart pounded through her chest each time Miley came within a few feet of her outstretched hands.

You can see from the photo that she had enjoyed stage time with her brother, Trace. He's an interesting guy. I really don't feel like saying much more than that. Let's just leave it at "interesting." Maybe I'm just getting too old for this kind of show, but I tried hard to see through the eyes of my daughters and I got to enjoy the shock value of Trace's full-body tattoos. I think he's going to have to pay a lot of money someday to get rid of them, which was all I could think about as he pranced around the stage with his shirt off. "Oh, dear. I wonder how much it will cost him to get rid of all of those tattoos." This just pounded in my brain, worried for his bank account. All the money the poor man made on his one hit, "Shake It" would go to his tattoo removal some day. Like I said, I really should just leave it at "interesting."

On an upscale note, Josie handed Miley her bouquet of flowers. It was a moment I tried to capture with video and found out later that the video function on my camera went kapoowey (that's not how we spell it, I'm sure). Anyway, I do have a video that looks like it's stuck on fast-forward and when I stop it at just that moment, you can catch Miley taking the flowers and smiling at Josie. Oh, the eternal bliss Josie will feel in her heart for that moment. She'll be walking above ground for days, if not weeks, reliving that moment. Her dream.

There's much more to say, but I've got to run off and take my mom to the urologist to have her kidney stone removed. Life is full of surreal moments.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Requisite Rewrite

I wrote my first book, which totaled about 90,000 words, in eight weeks.

It showed.

Sure, it had a beginning, middle and end. I even had characters with solid emotions and experiences, but what I didn’t have until more recently was a clean story. A clean story keeps the reader moving along without the distraction of flowery writing or too much back story. I thought my first draft was great. I’d even gotten to plug in the word insouciance (always wanted to use that one) but, after reading it through the eyes of different beta readers, I realized that the first draft, basically, sucked. I had dangling modifiers, overboard metaphors and too many adjectives. I had a character who really could have been somebody, if only I let her. Instead, she read like a caricature. I had so many meanderings away from the real story, I forgot where I was going.

Then there was the issue of too much telling. “You need to show, not tell,” says one of my trusted set of reading eyes. “Rather than say ‘I love you,’ have him show it by placing his hand on her lower back and leaning in to kiss her.” Hmmm, I’d have to think about that one.

Back to the drawing board I went and I did so with a vengeance. Like Edward Scissorhands, I went at the manuscript chopping, cutting and tearing. I shredded the first and last chapters. I even resurrected one of my characters who died in the first draft. Too sad. Yes, an agent had said she had to pass on the book because it was “too sad and serious.” This is not why I resurrected my character, although I didn’t like someone describing the book as sad and serious. I brought her back to life because she turned into such a real person, I could not have her die.

The rewrite of book 1 has been more fun than the writing of book 1. I never knew how much power a writer has to rewrite her story, in whatever way she wants. Oh, it’s downright liberating.

The rewrite is ready for a reread. This may sound masochistic (I think a writer needs to be this), but I look forward to more rewrites. I do. It is like the fire purifying the gold, and I wouldn’t want anything but pure gold getting printed with my name on it.

Bring it on!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Finding Voice

It has taken me 43 years to find my voice. Being the youngest of five children, I stayed mostly silent as a child except for periodic squeaking after ritual teasing by my brothers and sisters. I tried my voice a couple of times, but it too often was met with disapproval or confusion. So, rather than rock the proverbial boat of a traditional home, I just kept most of my thoughts to myself. Mute.

Born and raised in a strict Catholic home, I couldn't help but question Jesus' bodily resurrection. Inquiring minds want to know. My scientific mind could not make sense of it. My faith in Him did not need his rising to be in a physical way. My questioning too often was met with, "If you had faith, you would just accept it." This rationale seemed preposterous, but I accepted that the conversational doors on this issue were closed and so would be my mouth.

"Can we please discuss the fact that Mary was a virgin and pregnant with our Lord? What if I told you I was pregnant and I was a virgin?" I once asked my mother. You can only imagine her response to that question. Seriously, if it happened to Mary, and we're all supposed to believe that it did, is it so far-fetched that it could happen to someone else? I really needed to discuss this. But it was not open for discussion.

I learned to write in my journal. Here I could struggle to host the conversations I needed to have come out of my mouth. The writing was stilted, most of the time, as if the words on paper might manifest themselves into the atmosphere, prompting the predictable disapproval I would get had I spoken them aloud. The voice was not perfect and free, but it was some small way of expressing my soul.

I dreamed of writing like Maya Angelou or Amy Tan. I played with words, tried to make them dance on the page like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, romanticizing the possibility that I could one day write something as beautiful. Even in my journal, the flow of my writing was disrupted by something. As if a big tree had fallen in the river of my natural flow -- the tree was the conflict between how I wished I could write and the silenced voice that was trying to come out. These two were not friends. I wished I was Maya or Amy but what wanted to come out sounded more jaded and sinister. Without this flow, I struggled with simple sentences because I spent most of my time resisting what wanted to come out.

Finally, I wrote my first short story and divulged the unspoken horrors of my heart. I let it pour out of me, hideous monsters living inside of me, scaring me, taunting me. I took a huge risk and put them out on the table. I looked at them. Secrets, thoughts, shame, terror. I let my imagination rip at my fingers and I typed the unthinkable. I read it back and winced. Horrible darkness on paper. Then I read it again. Not so bad. And again. That's actually kinda funny.

What appeared so scary became laughable. Fear transformed into something that could be manipulated into clever prose. By writing the short story, I had coughed up the fur ball that sat in my throat for too many years. I dislodged the tree that had fallen into my river and I let it flow. Ahhh...a free-flowing voice. Finally.

But, after I finally let her roar, I must admit that it came with a mild disappointment. The words came unencumbered and emancipated but not with the intellect of a Maya or Amy or the grace of Fred and Ginger. Instead, the voice I found was simple and used the verb "to be" way too much. But it came, it flowed, it continues to roar and that, really, is all that matters.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Peaks and Valleys OR Ravines

Ah, Tuckerman's Ravine. It feels so good to stand dwarfed in its belly, pausing before your ascent up the massive rocks to the mountain's peak. We all look happy now because the skies were clear and the energies were high. Ignorance is bliss. Ten minutes short of reaching the top of the ravine, the dark clouds floated towards us, bringing instant rain that seeped our dry clothes and enthusiasm. Our visibility went from hundreds of feet to, maybe, 10 feet, where we had to grope for subsequent cairns, piles of rocks to mark the trail, to help us navigate the trail to Lakes of the Clouds Hut. We did eventually get to the hut and the disposable ponchos did spare our change of clothes in the packs but other members of our hiking team were soaked to the bone. You just don't expect to leave the base lodge on a sunny day, temps climbing into the 80s, and hit rain with hurricane winds on the same day. That's Mt. Washington for ya -- the most unpredictable weather in the United States, so they say.

That's life, too, isn't it? Unpredictable like a sunny day turning into something unexpectedly cold and windy? I never thought we'd use those ponchos from Target -- for emergency only, I told the kids -- but we did use them and we were grateful. Be prepared for anything. With life, be prepared for anything.

I liked being tucked in the ravine looking out over the vast range of White Mountains, the markings of a dormant ski area, fast-moving, white, fluffy clouds. When we turned the other way, we could see the trail ahead and moving spots of red and blue, other hikers who had ventured onward up the mountain. Life is that journey where we can take a pause, re-evaluate where we are and where we're headed, but, oftentimes, it is in vain. I didn't expect the rain.

I didn't expect much of what has happened in my life.

Having that poncho tucked into my backpack was like having a little bit of faith tucked into my heart. Faith keeps me moving along the trail when life brings me unexpected rain. I have it to take those fearless next steps forward. I could succumb to the cold and naked lonely fright of trying to be in control, but I prefer to take pause where and when I can -- like in the belly of the ravine -- and move forward in a spirit of learning and adventure with trust in something greater. Life is just more fun not knowing and trusting in something beyond myself.

The rain just made the whole trip more interesting.

That's how I see it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Our Future: Micromanipulated Food

Scientists everywhere are looking for the next magic pill, that little jolt of something that will turn us from aging and obese couch potatoes to ageless and vibrant gods and goddesses. We've seen the vitamin pill go from obscurity to being essential. We've watched breads and milk get fortified with a number of different vitamins, all lost in the food processing. If we just ate the whole grain of wheat in the first place, without having processed out the bran and germ, we wouldn't have to add all those B-vitamins back into our Wonder Bread! I think you know where I'm going with this.

The idea of extracting the micronutrients from foods and then either putting them back into processed foods or in a pill form feels like a whole lot of trouble for nothing. Food scientists everywhere take the food, dissect it to death in a laboratory, quantify the amazing coincidence that the food contains all kinds of nutrients that are beneficial for our bodies and then hype up their discoveries to the public. When I was pregnant, I was warned that I needed to get enough folic acid in my diet to prevent my babies from getting spina bifida. Fair enough. I took my daily dose in a pill form. A few years later, I watched as the bread companies decided to fortify their foods with folic acid. This would ensure that all mothers would get enough in their diets. We all eat bread, right? Well, some of us eat bread and take supplements, which then prompted a new study suggesting that we were getting too much folic acid. I'm tired just thinking of the time and money wasted on the whole bloody food science system. Just eat the whole food, assume it's got what your body needs and move on.

But no. We're too smart for that. We must dissect and micromanipulate food until it resembles something from a Star Trek movie.

Just this morning, I read that Mr. McClement, a food scientist at UMASS Amherst, is trying to take the naturally occurring (in milk) butyric acid and put it into a fiber-encapsulated pill so it will be better absorbed by the body. Apparently, its anticancer benefits are lost before they reach the colon where its absorption is optimal for the body. The fiber encapsulation will ensure the butyric acid is NOT absorbed until it reaches the colon. I'm tired already.

How long will it take before Mr. McClement is touted as the guru of butyric acid and the doctors of America start telling their patients to buy the butyric acid pills? We've seen it with C0Q10. CoQ10 became the biggest essential pill for heart patients everywhere. The magic pill. The micronutrient du jour. Why not just get the CoQ10 you need from fish or wheat germ? Oh, that's right -- we ripped the germ right off the whole grain to make our breads more shelf stable and lost the C0Q10 in the process. We're deficient? No kidding. Well, we'll just have to start supplementing with a pill.

Apparently, this same mad scientist wants to create "low fat" versions of naturally high fat foods so we can enjoy the high fat taste without the high fat calories. Yummy. Doesn't that sound delicious? I can stuff my face with chocolate cake and not gain an ounce? The problem here is that this concept is appealing to way too many people out there and will probably find its marketing genius that will make food companies richer than ever. But here's the realilty check. Remember Olestra? The WOW chip? I can have my chips and eat them, too? I could eat all I wanted because Olestra was too big a "fat" to be absorbed by the intestine so it passed right through, calorie-free. But, as it passed, it also ripped the intestines clean of the good stuff and people ended up with vitamin deficiencies and, here's a turnoff, anal leakage.

I'd rather just eat a few natural potato chips than suffer from anal leakage, wouldn't you?

(photo lifted from Lempert Report)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The spirited Henry Louis Gates

Leaving South Beach in Martha's Vineyard today, I found spirit -- the spirited Henry Louis Gates -- sitting on his bicycle. I first noticed the back of his t-shirt that read, "Inkwell," the name of a famous beach in Oak Bluffs. I immediately wanted that same shirt! As I approached him from behind to ask him where he got the t-shirt, I noticed a woman standing behind her car, filming him. Then, my husband, Tim, whispered in my ear, "You know who that is, right?" I looked at him strangely (feeling like an ignoramus) "It's Professor Gates," he says.

My 13-year old daughter, Bea, says out loud, "Professor Who?"

"Don't be afraid," says Gates to the cloistering videographer. "I'll answer your questions."

The questions popped from everywhere. "Mr. Gates, do you think the officer acted out of line?"
"Mr. Gates, what's going to happen next?"

Mr. Gates responded, "Well, we're meeting at the White House this Thursday. I'm sure he's a nice man."

Then we took advantage of this photo opportunity and a robust conversation in the car on the way home. I won't even begin to imagine what took place that night in Cambridge but I will say that I am grateful this unfortunate circumstance has opened up an opportunity to talk about an issue that oftentimes goes underground. Whether this instance serves an example of racial profiling or not, it opens up the door for people to discuss lingering forms of racism around dinner tables across America -- and, hopefully, very soon, as a history lesson to our children.

Fatten Up Your Veggies

So, Iowa State University has concluded in one of its nutritional studies that it is healthier for us to eat veggies that are drizzled with a little oil than, say, raw and plain. Apparently, the nutritional benefit of the plant -- vitamins, minerals, antioxidants -- is better absorbed by the body if we add a little fat to the mix. Those subjects who ate fat-free salad dressing (an oxymoron, really) did not absorb the phytonutrients as well as those who ate regular dressings.

Let me stray onto the path of fat-free for a second. As any of my readers know, I am anti-fat-free. I hate the movement. I hate that it's upped our sugar intake And I hate that people still follow the advice like dumb sheep. The problem lies in the limited word choice -- fat. A rational mind would assume that eating fat makes you fat. That's where the problem begins. The fats we eat are called fat, but we should start calling them "lipids" -- the proper chemical term -- or dietary fats (you choose). Lipids, or dietary fats, are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents -- monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phosphatides, cerebrosides, sterols, terpenes, fatty alcohols, and fatty acids. The fats we EAT -- lipids, or dietary fats -- give us energy, carry fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, K (Do you think it's a coincidence that we have a collective deficiency of Vitamin D in America? We can't absorb the darn vitamin because we're not eating the fat it needs to be absorbed.) Dietary fats are also used as structural components of the brain and cell membranes. This is extremely important -- brain (for obvious reasons) and cell components. The cell is the foundational block of the human body. Without solid cells, nothing else can be built. We need strong cells. We need fat to build cell structures.

Now we understand the importance of dietary fats. In light of this, it comes as no surprise that the vitamins in the fruits and vegetables are better absorbed if we add a bit of dietary fat. Consider the dietary fat a partner in the digestive process, a helper.

I'm not suggesting we all douse our green beans with scads of butter, particularly if the butter is not organic, but I rejoice when any study confirms that going "fat free" makes no sense. Eating fat does not make you fat. Eating high cholesterol foods does not give you high cholesterol. We need a clearer language to help understand the difference between dietary fat and the extra spongy yellow adipose tissue we're all lugging around and the difference between the exogenous cholesterol (the stuff we eat) and the endogenous cholesterol (the stuff we make in our bodies).

We need new words for a smarter population of eaters.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy 22nd Birthday To My Ray-Bans!

Ok, not a flattering picture. My 7-year old snapped it before I had my coffee but I was in a rush to tell my blogger friends my Ray-Ban story. If Ray-Ban hears my story, I might go national!

The aviator shades I am sporting in this photo that were purchased 22 years ago have boomeranged back into fashion. Well, if they had gold or silver or white frames, I'd be more fashionable but the "fly look" is back in full swing. When I saw them hitting the revolving racks in the stores, I almost fell over. Since 1987, I have worn my shades religiously and have caught a lot of heat about it. In Martha's Vineyard, I would pull them out of my beach bag while vacationing with my in-laws and, inevitably, my fashionista sister-in-law would quip, "You look like a fly."

"Fly" as in bug, not pilot.

I didn't care. They protected me from the sun's glaring rays. They stuck to my head while I served in the Peace Corps smack dab on the earth's equator in Papua New Guinea. They jostled around my backpack as I trekked around the Asia/Pacific. My eyes have sparkled, teared and wrinkled behind them over these past 22 years.

They are in perfect shape...
and in fashion once again.

Thank you, Ray-Ban, for the memories.
I have found spirit in your product.
They were worth every penny.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Keep It Real: The Food, I Mean

Today I read an article about different food labeling strategies that supermarkets are using to help consumers determine which foods are healthier than others. The labeling strategies run the gamut from Guiding Stars where the product is rated anywhere from 0-4 stars (I've been told that so many foods on the supermarket shelves rated 0 stars that the algorithms of the original formula had to be changed!) to the NuVal System where the food is given a number ranging from 0-100, 100 being the highest.

Personally, there are so many factors to consider when determining the nutritional value of a food. One must consider how much sodium, cholesterol, total fat, added sugars, organically grown or not, kosher, grams of fiber, artificial sweeteners, colored dyes. The list is endless. How does one compute an algorithm that can incorporate everything? My short answer: They can't.

Which is why I have come up with my own: Count the number of deviations from the food's original form. The greater the number, the less its nutritional value.

Apple picked from tree. Barring the enormous amount of pesticides sprayed on the poor fruit, this is high in nutritional value. No deviations from the original. Good for you.

Dole applesauce. Pretty close but considered less. I'd say one deviation from original because it has been processed (I know I'm starting controversy here but I'm going with my theory).

Apple juice. With all the fiber and water extracted, leaving us with a concentrated form of liquid sugar that will rush the insulin from our beta cells, two to three from the original form. Drink water instead and just eat the apple you picked from the tree.

Fruit roll-ups. I'm not even sure there's real fruit in them but I would guess with all the added chemicals, dyes and sugar, we're about 5 deviations from the original. NO GOOD FOR YOU.

So, you see where I'm going with this. When determining the nutritional value of a food, don't let all the numbers give you a headache. There are thousands of them out there and we can't let ourselves get boxed in like the processed food on our shelves. Just keep it real and stick as close to the food's original form as possible. The lower the numbers of deviation, the higher the nutritional value.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Genetically modified health?

A recently announced collaboration between Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. and Monsanto Company, a seed company, is yet another illustration of ongoing efforts to put plant breeding to work for consumers. The two companies will work together to identify and develop unique varieties of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach for the North American market. Dole and Monsanto will focus on offering consumers choices that have improved nutrition, flavor, color, texture, taste and aroma.

The above is an excerpt from an article by Phil Lempert, Supermarket Guru. I might be ignorant but, last time I checked, Monsanto and health have not been used in the same sentence ever except to blow the whistle on the company's genetically modified influence over our crops that are gaining quantity and losing quality. Lower quality usually means lower health benefits. But, in this article, the company seems vested in enhancing the nutritional potency of its synthetic vegetable offspring. This is curious to me.

I hesitate to comment in a pro or con way about the Dole-Monsanto partnership. I will pause in disbelief before speaking.

But I do invite others to post comments. Perhaps my closed mind will open a bit.

Don't blink if you want to pick strawberries in CT

Rain hammered Connecticut almost every day in June, the "month of the strawberry." Each day I considered venturing out to pick strawberries, I would look outside and let the clouds deter me. We'll go tomorrow. And tomorrow returned again and again until this past sunny Sunday when, finally, we could travel to Rose's Berry Farm in South Glastonbury for breakfast followed by unabashed picking and eating. We would ride home with berry-filled cardboard trays and red-stained faces, feeling that annual ah-ha satisfaction of truly eating locally and in season. Is there any better feeling in the world than digging your feet into the earth and eating right from a plant (I try not to think of the amount of pesticides needed to grow fruit these days -- kills the romance -- or the amount of money a farm loses with a pick-your-own program)?

Breathing in the blessings, I sit on the veranda with Tim and the girls looking out over the exquisite, bucolic Connecticut fruit farm. Isn't life wonderful?

"I'll have the french toast with strawberries and cream," I smile at the waitress.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Strawberry season just passed. We have blueberries now," she says.

What?! Strawberry season is over? It's July 5, days away from June. How can strawberry season be over? "Over" as in complete, finis, fruitless, barren fields, nary a strawberry in the patch? This thought I cannot bear. My mind had not considered blueberries. I was fixated on the red, juicy berry, the nectar of gods and goddesses. Blueberries conjure up childhood memories in Maine, not local eating in Connecticut. Hmf.

"Ok, well, I'll have the quiche." Now I am beyond repair. I don't even want fruit. I order quiche, with bacon of all things. I don't even like bacon. I watch as I rebel in my mind against the short-lived season of the strawberry. I need to grieve and cannot muster enthusiasm for another fruit at the moment. I feel like I'm cheating on my beloved strawberry, my raison d'etre du jour.

"Quiche?" The entire family shrieks at me with surprise.

"Yes, quiche," I insist with my arms crossed like an angry child.

I glance over at the organized hills where laborers, even on a Sunday, bake in the sun to glean sweetness from our land. In the distance, I can hear the muffled voices of the girls ordering their french toast with blueberries and cream.

"Where are the blueberries?" I ask the waitress.

"Right up on the hill along the road."

"Oh," I respond.

I wanted to ask where the strawberries grew so I could mourn my loss for this entire year. I had a few weeks of peak picking time and I missed it. The season has passed. I had taken the strawberry for granted. In the winter, I will mourn my loss even more when I see the big, plastic containers stacking the grocery shelves bragging California's annual prosperity. Not in Connecticut. We can't afford to blink or else we'll miss the growing season of the little red blokes.

As the waitress leaves to put our order in, I stop her. "Excuse me?"


"May I have a side of blueberries?" No sense in missing that season, too, I realize.

"Sure, we've got plenty of those."

In the end, I chose to live in the season and savor the moment. And, in this moment, the blueberry boasted its appearance.

Check out this website:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

68 Hot Dogs?

Joey Chestnut ate 68 hot dogs in buns. That little fact rose to the top of my July 4th Yahoo! News list.

I'm not sure what to think or feel about this. An indescribable repulsion is gagging my throat as I write these words. I can hardly imagine eating two Nathan's hot dogs, never mind 68. The nitrates in one would leave me stranded with a headache for the rest of the day.

But I suppose that on the celebration of the birth of our great nation, what other news would I expect to be at the top? A blurb about a company promoting disgusting excess and then celebrating it. Does that sound unpatriotic of me? I hope not. I'm just not surprised. But, in the future, I will expect more from our harbingers of news.

Hey, congrats to Joey Chestnut for being able to stuff his face so quickly. I think he chowed those dogs in record time -- 10 minutes? Maybe Pepto-Bismol could get in on the action, capitalize on a post-eating indigestion reality tv show. Who vomits and/or recovers first? Something tells me we'd have more viewers than we'd like to believe.

Yes, God Bless Our Great Nation and its love of hot dogs.

Happy 4th!

Next year, Joey, go nitrate-free.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What is fear?

Fear walks in darkness and preys on the poor in spirit or the vulnerable or the weak. It protects with ferocity its narrow interpretation of truth. A greater truth would swallow it whole, forcing it to non-existence, which fear cannot bear. It recoils from faith and blames its frailties on something other than itself, thriving on deceit and lies. It speaks in irrational tones with a cadence burdened with falsity and shame that only the human song can squelch. If only the human song could sing without the threat of extinction. Clubs, guns, tear gas, prison, hangings. Extinction. More fear cornered into a dark alley. Screaming, fighting, resisting and lying.

May the voice of Iran continue to sing the human song that can transcend fear.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

And we think our health care system is bad?


The New-York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said Sunday that scores of injured protesters who had sought medical treatment after Saturday's clashes were arrested by security forces at hospitals in the capital.

It said doctors had been ordered to report protest-related injuries to the authorities, and that some seriously injured protesters had sought refuge at foreign embassies in a bid to evade arrest.

"The arrest of citizens seeking care for wounds suffered at the hands of security forces when they attempted to exercise rights guaranteed under their own constitution and international law is deplorable," said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the campaign, denouncing the alleged arrests as "a sign of profound disrespect by the state for the well-being of its own people."

"The government of Iran should be ashamed of itself. Right now, in front of the whole world, it is showing its violent actions," he said.

(Karimi reported from Tehran and Kole from Cairo. Associated Press Writers Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran, Brian Murphy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Sebastian Abbot in Cairo contributed to this report.)

Friday, June 19, 2009


Expecting a deluge from the sky, I rented a couple of movies to watch today and write about. I'm reading Richard Krevolin's HOW TO ADAPT ANYTHING INTO A SCREENPLAY and he mentions Shawshank Redeption as one of the best screenplay adaptations from a book. So I was curious to watch the movie less for entertainment's sake and more with a critical eye. I enjoyed every single scene.

Andy and Red. What a duo in the quintessential hero journey. And what a journey. Who doesn't remember the sensation of liberation after the shit-filled sewer (still can't shake the raw language) gave birth to Andy right spank into a river torrent, a cleansing, his final wash before starting life over after 20 plus years in prison? Andy reached such unthinkable lows throughout the movie that the final high had to be as sweetly momentous and it was.

Some great lines from Red:
"Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it."
"They send you here for life and that's what they take."

In a letter from Brooks after he got out on parole:
"The world went and got itself in a big, damn hurry."

The hero journey in every movie reminds us of the indefatigable human spirit. If Andy Dufresne can do more than survive and LIVE, anyone can.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

26 years ago today...

At the same time I was preparing for my graduation from high school in CT (1983), ten young women across the globe in Iran, one of them my exact same age, were preparing for their death. As I walked up to my teacher authorities to receive my diploma, they walked up to their government authorities to receive the noose for their necks.

Ironically, the 26th anniversary of the hanging of these ten young women in Shiraz is today, when Iran is witnessing its most public display of revolt since 1979. These ten young women were sentenced to hanging by a militant government that was threatened by the faith of these girls, a faith founded in freedom, love and justice. Rather than recant their faith, they chose death.

So, in light of the present turmoil in this country, I reflect on the strength of these young Baha'i women and hope their spirit will strengthen others who rise peacefully against radicalism and fanaticism.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why Not Just Test For H1N1?

Hack. Hack. Hack.

"You ok?" I hear the barking from across the room at a friend's house. Like something prehistoric is trying to climb out of the poor kid's trachea.

"Yeah, doctor says he's got bronchitis or pneumonia, something inflamed." My friend proclaims while stirring the pasta on the stove.

"Geez. Sounds awful."

"He's been home all week with it."

I looked over the poor, listless boy with his eyes glossed over, rolling behind his head.

That was two weeks ago. Since then, I've heard of a number of confirmed cases of H1N1 Virus A/K/A Swine Flu and a slew of long-term absences around town. I'm getting the sense my friend's son did, in fact, have a bronchial something or other but that its underlying cause was something else. But don't mutter the dreaded two words, Swine Flu, because, according to many doctors, "We don't want to cause hysteria."

Today's Hartford Courant reported that CT has now witnessed its third death from Swine Flu. Now people will start putting two and two together. Coughing like a chain smoker with a spiked fever, diagnosed cases of swine flu spreading. But being sick with the flu will not guarantee you a confirmation that it is the H1N1 virus. Doctors just aren't testing these kids (or adults). They claim it's not worth the panic, that they would not treat this flu any differently than any other flu so "why bother?" I suppose I agree with that. The media has a tendency to stir the hype into paranoia. But I'm also a firm believer in transparency and tracking the spread of illness, particularly one that is destined to travel back to the east, mutate and boomerang back to us in the winter with an entirely new strain of challenges. In this case, I say, "Test away."

It is true that the results would not come back for about a week. One mom said, "By then, he'll be back at school so what's the point?"

The point is this.

Call me a public health nazi. It's not that I'm hysterical about my need for tracking these things. I'm rational. It makes sense. Test the people laid up in bed with "bronchitis, some type of flu, a wicked fever" and keep it all on record. We don't do this to raise tensions in the family or even the town. We do this to harness information. We do this because the whiplash from this season's taste of the H1N1 virus might give us indigestion later. At this stage in the flu game, the more information the better, IMHO.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Throw Those Corn Flakes Away

Finally, science catches up to the obvious.


In this study, you'll notice that the subjects decreased carbohydrate intake. When you decrease something, you usually have to increase something else. In this case, FATS were increased. And guess what? The subjects with a higher fat diet were at a lower risk for heart disease. And we all know why. Because eating healthy fats does not give you heart disease. It's the sugar that's gotta go.

Australia has known about the Glycemic Index of Foods for a long time -- their food packages even include the "GI Index" to teach people exactly what foods have the ability to spike the blood sugars, which, on a consistent basis can lead to many health problems. In this country, when we lowered the fat, we increased our collective carbohydrate intake. And, as a result, Type II Diabetes is diagnosed in epidemic proportions.

The study just backs up what many people have been trying to say all along, "Low fat makes you fat."

Someone else's blog.

Not sure how I found this. Don't even know the woman. But I found it, read it and want to share it. Be warned. Her blog on the Iranian situation is not for the faint of heart.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

What a Joke!

I live in America, right? I can exercise free speech, right?
What a mockery Iran has made of any attempt at democracy! What a sham!
VOTING IN VAIN should be the title of their newspaper headlines this morning. Seriously, read the following:

Ahmadinejad had the apparent backing of the ruling theocracy, which holds near-total power and would have the ability to put the election results into a temporary limbo.

Then why bother voting, is my question? I have real issue with the conflict between how things appear and how they actually are. I am not a fan of mere appearance. Pretense boils my blood.

Iran lives under the veil of a pretense, a fearful government busy accusing its questioners of fabricated crimes, hiding any semblance of truth underground because truth will threaten this authority that just cannot be trusted. Lies must topple and yield to truth. It's just a matter of time.

So, Iran. Maybe the lies will remain in "authority" for now. But darkness cannot live when the light of your people are demanding truth. The time of deceit is short. Too many people see the truth.

Why again do I care so much? Like I said earlier, the history and fate of Iran is also the world's history and fate. In this country, we were taught to speak out against tyranny. This is part of my heritage. And I am speaking out against a tyranny in the world. No more. Let the United Nations count your votes if you're so certain they point to a landslide win for "whatever his name is."

There is spirit in this election. The spirit is in the eyes of those people living in a country that rules by fear. I have seen the eyes of people who, in spite of living under tyranny, smile with faith. It is that same faith of these Iranian people I have met I will hold to now. In times like these, they understand better that Spirit is far more powerful than a few egotistical men. I will cling to what they know in their hearts to be true. Their faith in a future filled with truth will not be shaken. I will cling to what it is they need to survive.

And to correct an earlier statement I made, I would point my American finger right into their faces, if given the opportunity.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Easier to Say

Plus, Mousavi is easier to say than Ahmadinejad, which can only help diplomatic relations.

Iranians Vote

Ok, so my blog jumps from cholesterol-lowering drugs to Iranian elections. What can I say? There is spirit everywhere!

In advance of my comments, I apologize for any blatant misunderstanding I might display in my blog about Iranian's political process. It is a country with which I have been obsessed since the hostage crisis in 1979. But, as always, I remain more "big picture" than detail-minded so forgive my ignorance as I blog about this historical day.

Today, the voting for a new Iranian president begins. Will the world say goodbye to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or not? I watch the election closely. It is one that has a worldwide rippling effect because Iran feels like the shaky brick in the building of a foundation for world peace. Even though we might not want to pay attention, we must.

For many Americans, Iran is just one more backward country in the Middle East. We seem to lump cultures from that part of the world together and shelf them under "veil-wearing, misogynistic, tyrranical, illiterate terrorist fanatics" and distance ourselves from those sweeping prejudices that are constructed under a lot of fear and misunderstanding. I see what others see because I, too, am human and am afraid of people whose paradigms clearly fit nowhere in mine. As a matter of fact, my Americanism seeped in my veins when traveling to countries whose political ideals felt repressive to me. Objectivity could not be found as I wrestled to make sense of other country's political structures. No free speech? I would have to kick someone, for sure.

But, being indignant, and riddled with fear and misunderstanding, would only get me so far in those countries -- in jail, I'm sure. So, rather than yell, I watch. And I wait. What will happen this week for the people in Iran?

I have selfish reasons for a more open Iran. I would like to travel there with my children some day. Persia is home to one of the world's oldest continuous world civilizations, rich in art and culture. Have you read Rumi's poems? Iran's Pre-Islamic history dates back to 3200 BC! This cannot all be lost to our future generations. Their history belongs to the world. With a closed Iran, we have a closed history book. There are no closed books in my vision for the world. So, will the book open with a Mir Hossein Mousavi at the helm? Iran's crucial political policies are controlled by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Kohmeni. So, in no way will Mousavi's presidency be a a green light to full disclosure. We can hope, though, that it is the opening of some kind of a flood gate.

Mir Hossein Mousavi has attracted the young and affluent vote, which is the future. But, in a country where the mobile text messaging system just happened to go down right before voting began, I'm not sure the young and affluent have an advantage right now. But the promise is there. Mousavi voted with his wife by his side, Zahra Rahnavard, a former university dean. This balance of power with the feminine is also the future, the needed respect for women that seems to have gotten buried in so many country's political regimes under fear and dogma, another mark of the past, for sure. Without the balanced power of the feminine, no country has a chance.

So, I keep my eyes on Iran, one country in a world fraught with a myriad versions of fear and misunderstanding. and, rather than point my American finger in the face of a country in dynamic political change, I wait, I watch and I hope. And, while they vote, I pay close attention to those places in our own country where fear and misunderstanding lurk. Because spirit is needed everywhere.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who are you, really?

Meeting people for the first time poses an interesting challenge. How does one define oneself?

For example, at the party of a mutual friend, one might say, “Oh, and how do you know Suzie?” to orient the beginning of a new relationship, an entrée into this new person’s life. Or if I’m at a food conference, “What brings you here?” as if our common interest in food will bridge the gap to the stranger, which it always does. Who doesn’t like food? Food conferences are the easiest places to make new friends. We all eat!

But, last night, at one of our daughter’s choir celebrations, one man asked me politely, “What do you do?” I went mute. What do I do? I worried to myself. I am my daughter’s mother. In that context, that answer made the most sense. Any other answer sounded vain and trite.

“Well, I am a nutritionist,” I blurted out nervously. And, yes, it sounded vain and trite. I am not a nutritionist, I wanted to yell. I am my daughter’s mother. I am a soul in search of itself! But I knew to keep my inner tiger caged. Oftentimes, she roars unexpectedly with what would be perceived by others as unabashed insanity. So, I quieted her in my mind and smiled at the man.

He then shared that he worked at The Hartford insurance company. Longing for the bridge, I started listing names of people I knew who worked at the Hartford. My sweet husband reminded me that the company boasted thousands of employees, as if to pat me with the reality that there would be no bridges made with this stranger tonight via The Hartford.

So, I have decided to change my strategy from now on when asked, “Who are you?” or “What do you do?”

Rather than focus on the superficial, I am going to keep an arsenal of unexpected responses in my purse and dig one out when the time comes. Instead of tossing words out into the air to fill a quiet curiosity, I will pronounce, “I am a spirit locked in a middle-aged woman’s body!”

Because that is the truth. I am really just spirit. Oh, go ahead and put the letters after my name and tell someone that I’ve been educated to instruct people how to eat in a healthy way. In a way, that’s true. Tell them I’m a writer because that is an identity I’d like to manifest because it is something I “do” that reflects my spirit. I am a mother, an expression of the love in my spirit. But my essence is beyond titles and clothes and names.

We are all called many things and do many things. But, let’s face it, when the world tears away our titles, our social standings, our talents, our troubles, all we got left is spirit. And spirit just is. And that is how I will introduce myself from now on. I’ll let you know how that goes! I’m imagining it will leave people feeling more estranged from me than familiar but it’s worth a shot. At least it's an attempt to answer the, "Who are you?" question in a more honest way.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Supermassive Black Hole

Out there somewhere in galaxy M87 is a black hole that is 6.4 billion times the mass of the sun. Wow! This is so cool. All things astronomical blow my paradigms of simple suburban existence to shreds. And I love that! It is doubly cool because this discovery was announced at the American Astronomical Society's 214th annual meeting. 214th meeting? Where have I been? What happens at these meetings? Has its historical purpose always been to find our rightful place in the universe? I need to pay more attention to our stars.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My issue with statin drugs.

Does anyone else question the ubiquity of statin drugs? I mean, seriously, do 12 million Americans really need them? Here's what I dislike about the entire philosophy that supports the use of these drugs.

What is high cholesterol? The books say that levels at or below 240 mg/dL means you have "high cholesterol." But more scientifically savvy people suggest it is the ratio of the good cholesterol over the total cholesterol that defines healthy or unhealthy cholesterol levels. HDL/Total cholesterol should be 25% or higher. That makes sense. And, if the ratio is less than 20%, well, we're supposed to take these drugs. Or change our lifestyle. Let's look at both.

Statin drugs work. No doubt about that. They lower an enzyme in the liver called HMG CoA Reductase, which facilitates the production of cholesterol. No enzyme, no cholesterol. But it also lowers other enzymes that faciliate the production of CoQ10, which is significant because low CoQ10 levels have been linked to premature aging (now you're paying attention). So, although the drugs do work and the cholesterol numbers go down, a drug cannot work in a vacuum because the body is an interconnected entity. If a shift takes place in one area, it'll probably affect other areas, too. So there are risks involved. With statin drugs, we risk to wrinkle too young.

Did you know that eating high cholesterol foods does not give you high cholesterol? It's true. There is exogenous cholesterol (the kind we eat) and endogenous cholesterol (the kind we make). Guess what? 75% of the cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver and it is regulated by insulin levels, not the amount of cholesterol-containing foods you eat. So, more important than eating low cholesterol foods is to regulate the blood sugars in your body because higher insulin levels trigger cholesterol production. I do love my sweets but they will be my death, for sure. All signs point to the evils of simple sugars. We just don't want to admit it's true because we're all addicted to the simple sugars (including me) like the bread, the rice, the pasta, the cakes, the candy (excuse me, I'll be right back -- craving a chocolate-covered JoJo).

(yummy, chocolate-covered face)
Now where was I? Yes, the cholesterol in foods.

Eat your eggs. And don't listen to anyone who says eggs are bad or the egg white evangelist who tries to cook you an egg white omelet. And don't buy those liquid chemicals called EggBeaters. What has the world come to that we are promoting artifically colored egg whites over a whole, complete perfect egg. I think it's misogynistic, actually, to deem the egg bad. Damn patriarchal world we live in.

I digress.

The point is that the cholesterol we eat is a very small part of what contributes to our cholesterol levels.

All that said, don't go out and load your plate with fatty meats saying your online nutritionist said it was ok. We can talk about good and bad choices for meat another time because that steak at Outback has problems that go beyond cholesterol (don't get me started on the beef industry).

Lifestyle strategies that will improve your cholesterol levels include getting enough exercise, reducing sugars in your diet (all simple carbs), eating those foods that come as close to their sources as possible (garden veggies, freshly "harvested" meats, etc...) -- the less processed, the better, and get enough omega-3s in your diet or supplement with fish oil. Omega 3's are so much more important that we realize.

Try all this and then get your numbers checked. If they're still high, you could just be genetically predisposed or you might be a candidate for statin drugs. But, if you're taking statin drugs, supplement with CoQ10 -- in the ubiquinol form for those over age 40.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those conspiratorially minded people who think the drug companies are secretly taking over the world. They're just really good at making a huge profit off of our ignorance. And that just doesn't seem fair.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

First Rejection

Yesterday, I received my first rejection letter. Yes, I know that authors claim to wallpaper their rooms with rejection letters before getting published. I know my skin must grow thicker. I know that I can never take them personally. I should "reject rejection" as others have said. So, with the intent of finding spirit in all things, I will find spirit in rejection.

Below are the kind words of agent, Kristin Nelson, that appeared below the form rejection letter. Kristin has a fun blog called Pub Rants for anyone interested in learning more about her.

note from Kristin: It was so lovely to meet you at the Backspace conference. Thank you for coming up and introducing yourself. My response is going to be a tough one for you as this is close but not quite there yet. I see a lot of promise in the writing. Some really good emotional scenes that are, unfortunately, balanced with a lot of telling. So for me, I can't help but feel that the story isn't quite ready yet. I could be alone in this sentiment though so good luck with this project.

Call me a "glass half-full" kinda gal but I thought this rejection was a GREAT ONE! She said things like "promise in the writing."

"I could be alone in this sentiment," she says as if she doubts her decision to reject me. These are words from an agent with NY Times best-selling authors on her client list. This is an agent who receives 700 queries/week and asks for samples from less than 20. I was 1 in 20 out of 700 (smile).

In the world of spirit, purpose is not defined by our small minds and meanderings. Spirit is much greater. The world sees rejection as bad. Most of you feel sorry for me right now. But, if I strive to find spirit in all things, I see the good, the bad, the ugly and the impossible as gifts.

I will foster the promise, which is the gift of rejection.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Morning Thoughts

I wake each morning at an ungodly hour to write. Most of what I write is gibberish, an outpouring of thought that attempts to connect to my heart, a conversation with my soul, perhaps. Today I thought I'd share a bit of what came out. I forget what's important in this life sometimes. I wish I could always remember.

We must hold each other's hands and move with confidence and trust through the landscape that is life and we must seize each moment as more precious than the last. These days are swiftly moving. We cannot waste them chasing phantoms. We must guard them with our fiercest inner selves and protect the rare moments that encompass them. On our deathbed, that vacation in Europe was fun but that embrace in the night was what we will carry with us into the next world. That new kitchen was beautiful. But the times at the dinner table are what will linger in our hearts. The running around from errand to errand, filled with a beating heart that matched a too-fast ticking clock will be a blur. What will stick are the poignant questions yelled from the backseat about life or the story about the boy who asked your daughter to get married on the playground and the feeling that burned in your heart that the snapshots in time are what you will carry with you through eternity – not the phantom chase of a glamorous movie life. Meaningless. The chase is not what it’s about. Yes, we still do it. Goals, appointments, aspirations, trips – they’re all part of our everyday lives. But no one will hold up your large calendar filled with activities on your deathbed and tell you what a great job you did being busy. Behind the frenetic activity is a place we all have the opportunity to go – the quiet place we go alone where we need to teach our children to go to while the business of life tries to take over. The quiet meaning in a moment lasts while the chatty pace of life dissipates. I must remember to seize those quiet, precious moments.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

So true.

All prejudices, whether of religion, race, politics or nation,
must be renounced, for these prejudices have caused the world's
sickness. It is a grave malady which, unless arrested, is
capable of causing the destruction of the whole human race.
Every ruinous war, with its terrible bloodshed and misery,
has been caused by one or other of these prejudices.

~ Abdu'l-Baha,
Paris Talks, p. 146

Diet Books Are All The Same!

Today I sit under piles of diet books dreading my next step -- gleaning the good, discarding the bad and designing a 12-week healthy-eating program for the employees where I work. It's the same scientific information told in a number of different monotones again and again and again. I'm bored. I want something new and exciting. I want to give my participants something new and exciting! Hard to do without mentioning "carb."

Here's a thought. And then I must get back to work. Energy is not as we perceive it to be. Sure, all the diet books say a calorie is a calorie but that's just not true! A calorie is a physical measurement of heat dissipation isolated from the human body. I don't know about you but the last time I looked in the mirror, I was not a bomb calorimeter. So, why are the experts trying to convince us that this measurement is the be-all and end-all of the dieting world. No. I rebel. I say that, rather than diminish our experience by "cutting calories and energy," we LIFT ourselves by INCREASING our energy. Does that mean we eat more Oreos? NO. In my schema, Oreos have NO energy. They vibrate at a very low frequency of energy (science will catch up). In my new energy paradigm, the foods that come as close to the earth as possible on their journey to the table have the HIGHEST energy and vibrate at the HIGHEST frequency. Doesn't it make more sense to eat high energy to get high energy. Let's kill the calorie and let's make "diet" the most vile four-letter word in the dictionary. Let's eat and enjoy all the good stuff!

Oh, gravity just grabbed me. Now I must go and write a program that complies with conventional thought.


Lost in the Ocean

Every day the news poses a unique challenge for me -- where is the spirit in an airplane crash? I imagine the families of the 228 loved ones lost somewhere in the Atlantic ocean and can't even grasp their loss. What I find most shocking about my reaction is that a part of me is demanding they be found. With all the technology and navigational systems, I would think locating them would not be so difficult. Where is the US Navy? Where are the computer geniuses? Where is the collective action of the world's people in harnessing full knowledge of our common waters?

But, clearly, I don't understand how vast our oceans are. And that just may be the spirit I take from this devastating news -- that, at times, I am powerless to something greater. No, let me rephrase. I think I am pretty powerless most of the time to something greater. All I have to do is think about the limitless and untapped places in our oceans to see how small I am in comparison.

May the bereaved find comfort in something greater.

New Direction

Although instigated to start a blog to propel me forward as a writer, I am going to focus my content in a new direction -- "Finding Spirit: One Soul's Journey."

I had the impossible task of narrowing my interests into a blog title. Family, writing, nutrition. Yes, I can write about nutrition while spending time with my family but what ties it all together is the larger umbrella of what drives me to do what I do on a daily basis -- finding spirit in everything. Even the mundane, the ugly and the impossible. That's where I go and that's what I will blog about. Finding Spirit in washing dishes, bandaging a knee and sitting on the sidelines of a lacrosse game. Everywhere, spirit lives.

Today, I found it in the gym. I walked into a weight class and saw a room full of strong women pumping iron bars over their heads in a dedicated and powerful way. Yes, I saw women trying to get into shape for the bathing suit season, but, I also saw an amazing, unharnessed feminine power emanating from these individuals -- bundles of creativity and experience. Our culture nurtures a more individualistic approach to success in life but there is power anytime we collect together around a single aim. In this case, the women empowered each other to strength. At a Race for the Cure event, we empower one another to support each other while winning the fight against cancer. In a book group, well, anything happens but we leave feeling stronger. Just put us in a circle and great things happen.

So, today I found spirit in the gym. In my fellow weight-lifting women.


A friend suggested I self-publish. This suggestion gave me pause. What is my intent in writing? Would self-publishing satiate that longing to hold the book in my hands, to quickly flip through and sniff the freshly printed pages and relish the written word? Yes, I suppose. I could hold something tangible in my hands. But, another part of me says no because my ultimate goal is not to print the story. My ultimate goal is to convey the story. What is the difference? I could print my story right now -- on my printer. But, in order to convey the story, I must put it into the fire for purification, distill its most important messages, and suffer the process of fine-tuning the writing so that the story is clear and as good as it can be. That is why I am drawn to knock on the doors of the conventional publishing houses -- let them burn and purify the story.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


One of my articles that appeared in Natural Solutions magazine. Trying to upload others!

First Blog

My first blog.
Feels weird but I can now have a real conversation with my nieces and nephews who have grown up with "google" as a verb. Is that why I decided to come out of online obscurity and cast my pearls (ok, maybe not pearls, let's say quartz) before internet swine - to speak to the younger generation? No. I do this because if I don't, no literary agent will even consider me as a client to pitch my new novel, THE COLOR OF HONEY, to publishers.

I just returned from the Backspace Writers Conference in New York and spent hours listening to experts detailing the perils in the publishing world. I might have a better chance of getting into Harvard Medical School than getting my debut novel published. But there were plenty of other people whose eyes lit up, talking about their "divine persistence" that led them to where they were as best-selling authors. So I weighed what appeared to be the grim reality of publishing against my hell-bent attitude and chose the latter. So, in that spirit, I will blog.

THE COLOR OF HONEY is every woman's story. Elizabeth Saunders takes a horticulture class to heal after a stillbirth. The death of her baby instigated the ache and guilt she had over the death of her own mother in childbirth. Hungry for maternal love, as a giver and receiver, she befriends her professor, Anne Herring, a woman with the wisdom of a thousand saints. A class about "gardening" unearths Elizabeth's whole life. Elizabeth goes AWOL in her marriage, forsaking her country club environs to volunteer in a women's shelter where she grapples with life's cycles of birth, death and rebirth.

But before she can completely heal, Elizabeth discovers a surprising secret about her real mother, a secret buried deep in her past that gives the sisterhood she and Anne share a whole new meaning.

In truth, Elizabeth's story is no one's but her own -- it is quite a unique situation in which she finds herself -- but her inner growth spurred on in midlife will resonate with every woman. Not to say guys can't read my book. Guys have mothers, too, and my brother read it and liked it. But it is a woman's story in that we give birth again and again and again to a number of realities that are unique to women. And that's what makes Elizabeth's story our own.

Nice blogging with you!!