Four Ways to Grow as a Person

Do you know people who don’t change, they stay the same, saying the same things, thinking the same narrow thoughts? Dealing with these people is challenging. It is a great fear of mine to get stuck – to narrow as I age instead of continuing to grow.

This is my theory to never get stuck or to get out of being stuck is to embrace these four suggestions:

  1. Read everyday. I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter what you read; in some ways, it does matter. Read far and wide, don’t discriminate. Magazines. Sci fi. Young adult. Horror. Literary. Self help. Reading builds intelligence and empathy.
  2. Write everyday. Even if you’re not a writer. Journaling, writing down thoughts, dreams, ideas, or even what happened in your day is a way to reflect on yourself and your life. Self reflection helps us grow. Especially if you are a writer – write something!
  3. Forgive. Forgiveness if not for the person who wronged you. It’s for you. Forgiveness sweeps the dust from our souls. To forgive does not always mean to forget, and it certainly does not mean to allow the person to wrong you again. Forgive and move on.
  4. Gratitude. Be thankful for where you are in life or for the power to change where you are. Be grateful for your health, the roof over your head, the motivation to grow, the inspiration to follow your dreams, the desire to work toward your goals, for the bird song, the blue sky, the rain, or that you’re one step further away from what you don’t want and one step closer to what you do.

I’ve known too many people who have lost out on a real life, a happy life because being stuck is more comfortable than change.

These suggestions are only a beginning, but they are a good start or to continue on a journey to become a more open, intelligent, and sensitive person.

Interview with Jo Rousseau, author of Tourists in the Country of Love.

I can not tell you how much I love Jo Rousseau’s writing. Why she has not won an award is beyond me. Her writing is sensitive, thoughtful, reaches into the depths of the individual soul, searching for the reasons for immoral acts.

Her book, Tourists in the Country of Love, features stories of men and women who make decisions that are sometimes beyond their own understanding. The first story is “Reading to my Mother.” A tender story of a mother who is no longer able to care for herself and the question arises – who will care for her? It’s never an easy answer, but added complications make it even more difficult in this story.

This interview with Jo Rousseau focuses on her story, “Maurissa takes the F-Scale.” (The F-Scale was a test after World War 2 designed to measure fascist tendencies.) There are questions and answers about the novel as well as her writing style. I hope you enjoy watching as much as I enjoyed speaking to her.

Here’s where you can take the F-Scale

Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe

In 1809, a baby boy was born. I imagine his mother knew he’d change the world; we mothers know those kinds of things. He triumphed over numerous challenges that made his writing deeper, darker, stronger. He created a truly American literature that separated us from the mother country, transformed literature at the time and formed what literature has become today. We owe a lot to Edgar Allan Poe.

My tributes to Poe include Eddy. Eddy was born from my passion to understand his darker urges. In 1848, he bought two bottles of laudanum (morphine, heroin) from a pharmacist and seemed intent on ending his life. Eddy is the imaginative version of those moments – and what brought him back from the brink.

I was interviewed about Poe’s Mysterious Death on SuperNews Live – Dark Times.

In 2018, I read Eddy at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Virginia.

My other blogs include A Poe-Cation, The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe, Fast Facts about Poe, and check out my Poe page.

Charles Baudelaire, a French Poet and Poe’s contemporary, recognized Poe’s genius and gifts then, acknowledging that American audiences didn’t know what they had.

We do now. We have for a long time.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe. Happy Birthday.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Horror Film or Docudrama?

Gosh, you guys, not sure about this one, even as I write it.

First I have to say – It’s a Wonderful Life has been one of my all time favorite movies ever since I was a child. Sometimes I even watch it during the year. Even today, my dog walked in with her ears perked and her head cocked as if to say “what’s wrong with you?” as I cried – AGAIN – at the end. I swear I didn’t think I’d cry this year, but it gets me every time.

HOWEVER, maybe it’s from watching it so much that one begins to question things that shouldn’t be analyzed in a lovely holiday movie.

But if I’m going to do it – here goes. (Seriously, I’m about to ruin this movie for you forever, you may not want to venture further into this blog).

Did anyone else notice how George’s father had a heart attach RIGHT AFTER Mary made her wish?! WITCH! Later in the movie she states, this is what I wished for, he and her in that house. She got her “wish,” didn’t she?

The real horror for me is that George wants out of that small town and through a series of circumstances beyond his control (mostly) he never gets out. Maybe this hits close to home – not that I came from a small town, but many of the minds were small and there didn’t seem to be any living or growing to do there.

George has to earn his own money to go to college which keeps him there four years longer than his friends. That’s not bad. Working for what you want builds character. Then he’s ready to leave and his father passes, and he needs to take over the Bailey Building and Loan while his little brother gets out! He has to deal with that horrid Potter character or the town will be damned. Then – Mary and her witchy trickery, casting that spell to keep him. What happened to if you love someone, set them free?

If that’s not enough – Clarence the wingless angel appears to show him all the good he’s done. Anyone else see this as just a tad manipulative? When I was younger I thought – omg, that’s beautiful, but lately I’ve been thinking – well, wait, who’s to say if he got out of that town he wouldn’t have made a bigger impact! He wanted to build skyscrapers and cities. Perhaps his actions would have touched even more people! But then again, we must consider that George was a good man, a nice guy, and he may not have made it in the dog eat dog rat race. (yes, I know, I used two cliches which is far worse than using just one!)

Has the pandemic soured me this much?

Perhaps it is just my nature to question things.

The movie is, after all, about the small things we do that can cause big changes in others’ lives in our communities. This is something I believe.

The pandemic has changed the world. I believed we would come out of it as better people. Some of us may have, but there seems to be a whole lot of people who did not. The world is in a bad, bad place right now.

With all this horror happening around us, we can be the difference in the world. We can be a little more patient, a little more understanding, giving, and loving. It is the small things that will make a difference not only in others’ lives, but in our own lives. We feel better not having had a meltdown because our coffee was late or angered because we were cut off on the free way. We will walk into our own homes on a softer sweeter note having left someone a compliment rather than a complaint. We should continue to look for the good, hope for the best, and believe in something.

Recovery Road

The neighborhood I grew up in claimed a lot of victims in all kinds of ways. I carry an image of the big kids – 17, 18, 19 year olds – hanging out on the church steps partying on Saturday nights. Their voices so loud, we could hear them at the other end of the block.

Some became alcoholics, some drug addicts, some ended up in prison for related issues. Maybe some broke free and got out.

They were just trying new things, trying to have fun, rebelling maybe. No one intends to become an addict.

I was fortunate; when I got older my friends and I sneaked drinks, but I never liked the taste and didn’t try it again until I was much older. Some of my friends continued to drink, try other things. Some didn’t make it into adulthood. Others still fight the battle.

I had no idea what “recovery” was until much later in life when I met people who were struggling. I read Needle by Craig Goodman to gain an understanding of the struggle of addiction. But I’ve come to learn, for many, recovery is a struggle too.

Many people have no understanding of addiction and recovery. I spent a number of years investing myself in the topic to gain that understanding. Addicts lose family, friends and, after awhile, most familiar contacts. Our system is not set up to help people who are in serious trouble. In fact, Dopesick on Hulu shares how part of the problem was created.

My next book – title to be revealed – features a lead character who is finding his way out. Even when an addict feels they are on the other side of the battle, triggers can surprise them.

More to come…..

Tired of Crime and Murder? I’m in the Mood for Holiday Movies but not looking for mushy love stories.

I read an article which stated people who watch a lot of crime shows experience more anxiety. Well, I can totally relate to that. But does that include the news too? Because that’s where I’m getting most of the crime and murder stories these days.

In any case, around this time of year, my mind turns to happy holiday movies. I occasionally watch the corny ones, but many are rehashes of the same old storyline. I wanted to make a few suggestions for movies for anyone who needs a break from real life but doesn’t want to see the mushy meet-cute and sickly sweet romances that seed the streams.

  1. Lovehard – Netflix. Cute take on catfishing. AND they’ve rewritten to one of the best/worst xmas songs. Remember, Baby It’s Cold Outside as sung by Dean Martin and Marilyn Maxwell? It has some very rape-y lyrics. He’s trying to talk her into staying – and then she sings, “what’s in this drink?” Not very appropriate! This movie features a rewritten version by Nina Dobrev and Jimmy O. Yang titled “Maybe just go outside.” “I really must go/No problem there’s the door.” LOVE IT!
  2. No Sleep Til Christmas (HULU) looked a little odd and I almost didn’t take a chance on it. But it was actually a very nice movie. Not too mushy or silly – a different style then the run of the mill holiday romances.
  3. The Truth about Christmas – a comedic and refreshing take on a holiday romance. The reward for honesty is food (and freedom!)
  4. Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas. Soooo goood! No tween romance here. There is a romance, but soul mates are much more complex than a dating site swipe.

From the family fun list:

  1. The Christmas Chronicles – Kurt Russel and a peek of Goldie Hawn. It’s adventurous and fun!
  2. Christmas on Holly Lane – Friends and family come together on Xmas.
  3. Dash and Lily – had to mention it as it’s not up for renewal, but I’m thinking of writing some fan fic for it.

Finally – ALL TIME FAVORITES!

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life. I am a Jimmy Stewart Fan. (Have you seen Harvey?!)
  2. Scrooged – Billy Murry in the 80’s – Hilarious!
  3. The Ref – not many people are familiar with this. Great for a laugh. It’s dated and completely politically incorrect. If you make it passed the first 10 minutes, you’re in for a treat – uhm, well, if you’re into dark comedy.

Covid-pression

Covid has changed so much of our lives and, sadly, not much for the better. I have to be honest and say some polly-anna part of me thought we would come out of this better people; it appears many have not.

I thought we’d value friendships more, find beauty in the small things, experience next level gratitude. Some have, I suppose; but not without their own trials.

Covid tested all of us. At some level or another we have experienced depression, compression, oppression and it’s all erupted into violence, sadness, selfishness, thoughtlessness. When the going gets tough – I thought the tough went shopping; however, it appears the tough are few and the whiny little bitches of the world have amplified their shitty little messages.

But let us not wallow in the negative. As I tell my students, we can only fix our own little corner of the world. And that is what we must do. If we were all working on making our own little corners better (instead of joining the jackasses), then we are making a difference and that difference will be amplified. Remember that commercial, you tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two…. That is what we have to do – but spread good, positive, loving messages.

I’m shaking off my covid-pression (whatever one I’m experiencing this week – cuz it’s always different) and taking back life.

I was looking for a place to volunteer on Thanksgiving. The best thanksgivings I’ve spent have been serving at shelters. At one place I volunteered, families got all dressed up and came together. They sat and chatted with strangers like they were old friends. It beat the hell out of stuffing our faces and sitting back with a belly ache watching the tube.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been painting, baking, hiking, planning trips – and it feels great! It just takes breaking the ice in some way. And the rest will follow. I think it was the idea of volunteering and the memories of our previous years spent serving others which lifted my sense of covidpression.

We have so much to be thankful for – still! We have so much power within ourselves to change our own story and to be part of changing others’ stories.

Wishing you love and contentedness during this season.

The Healing Power of Naps

Some mornings are hard. They come too early. They come on too strong and too bright and far too soon. The dogs need to be fed and the work is calling. Time to get up and go.

The very best thing about those mornings is a glimmer of promise of what the afternoon may bring.

And if the clock slows after lunch, your eyes struggle to stay open, you find yourself yawning, and you sit – just for a moment, and then suddenly, you’re wrapped in a momentary hug of sleep. AKA the nap.

I love the sweet touch of sleep at midday. Not everyday, of course, but some days it’s needed. I love the slow opening of the eyes, the sweeping in of a deep breath, and the stretch before I realize that sleep just wrapped me in a midday hug and it felt wonderful!

Naps have superpowers. They offer life-giving energy, a refresh to continue strong for the rest of the day. And… sometimes they stave off illness. When I’m not feeling my best, a nap puts me right! The Mayo clinic states naps increase alertness and relaxation while improving mood and performance.



When my children were young and they got sick, I would give them a cup of secret bear tea and a nap. They thought it was the secret in the tea that made them feel better, but the secret was only the teaspoon of honey. The real secret to their wellness was the extra sleep which inspired their recovery.

Naps are not just for kids! Adults are afraid to admit they take naps or they are afraid to indulge in such childishness. But – when needed – naps are a gift!

Sleep – hugs can inspire, give us more energy to face the rest of the day. Sleep, in general, is healing. Not only for physical illness, but from all sorts of challenges.

What if We Chose This Life?

Ivy Getty’s Wedding

Have you seen this photo? I admit it took my breath away. For a moment, I thought it was a scene cut from the Great Gatsby. But there’s no Leonardo to be found. This is real. This is someone’s real life. Of course, in some abstract way, we know people are wealthy and have these lives and obviously get married in an extravaganza such as this. But, for a second, I forgot.

So enmeshed in my humble life, satisfied with my little home and my lovely garden, grateful for my girls, and proud of my job – that my mind neglected to remember that some people have larger lives.

I don’t think I’ve been to a concert venue as large as this scene since the Richfield Coliseum. (So long ago, it was before event centers were named for companies and instead for the cities in which they were built.)

Ivy Getty is a part of THE Getty’s. Granddaughter of John Paul – I know the name from The Getty Museum, which I’ve enjoyed on a number of occasions. They used to offer music on a Saturday evening while the galleries and gardens were opened late. Some people know John Paul Getty descended from the JPG The First who was (once) the richest man in the world.

~

Many years ago, I heard the theory that, prior to our birth, we choose our lives and the events that happen in our lives.

I railed against the idea. There’s a hellava lot of things that has happened in my life that I would have never agreed too. “I would not have pressed that button!” I insisted.

But now, years down the road, all I’ve been through, all I’ve learned, there have been benefits. I’ve gained levels of empathy that some people can’t comprehend. (A person with a P.H.D in Religious Studies once asked how I could forgive someone who had harmed me when they never asked for forgiveness or showed remorse.) I have a deep gratitude for the things I do have and put people before material things.

I am by no means perfect. I falter in my empathy. I’m occasionally short on patience. When rushing, I can be careless in thought and deed. But mostly, I have sought higher levels of understanding about our purpose and place.

And more often than not I think – maybe I did choose this life.

If we are to believe we are here to learn lessons, to become better beings from incarnation to incarnation, to free ourselves from the evils of humanity – pettiness, jealousy, greed etc, then isn’t it probable that we chose hardships that might teach us acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude.

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If you’ve read this blog for long, you’ll know I was raised in poverty, became a single parent, struggled to put myself through school while raising my children. It might be easy to fall into step with the green-eyed monster and wish for money and power. Wouldn’t that have made life easier? Many of us think it would have or will. However, the financially gifted have their own issues.

John Paul Getty III was kidnapped. His grandfather didn’t want to pony up the dough. So the kidnappers mailed him Junior’s ear. Then a negotiation began. Can you imagine the richest man in the world refusing to pay a ransom for his flesh and blood? Can you imagine your grandpa refusing to give up a paycheck for you?

Streaming services (in addition to the pandemic) has cost higher paid actors their expected income. Health care they were once promised has been affected. We have a whole generation of “stars” who may not be able to live the lives in which they have become accustomed.

In other words, the wealthy have their problems.

One of the reasons I suspect old money doesn’t like to mix with new money or either of those with us peasants is they fear being used, liked, or appreciated only for their $$ and connections. Anyone ever use you? During my college years, I had a few who seemed to only desire my editing skills (such as they are.)

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I am grateful for the lessons learned. I’m grateful the things that happened weren’t worse. I’m happy I am able to help those I can. Thank you, Universe, for healthy offspring, a brain that works, friends that are true, the capacity to love, the understanding to forgive, the acceptance, empathy, and desire to strive to continue to become a better person. (I imagine these are gifts bequeathed to me from challenges faced and overcome.)

I wish Ivy (Love that name!) Getty and her crew the best. May their marriage be loving and their children healthy.