Finding permission to be called a writer

I am a writer.   It is that simple. I AM a writer.   How can I call myself a writer when there is little current evidence of my craft? That question often plagues me and holds me down like a wrecking ball resting on a pile of broken walls. I also transfer that question into others, though I have no idea if they really feel that way.   How can you call yourself a writer? You don't write every day, you don't get paid for what you do write and your book isn't selling itself? Those critical questions open the door to shame.   My personal favorite admonition: "Nobody wants me as a writer..."   But, I AM a writer.   Daniel José Older, in his blog Writing Begins with Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice is Wrong, states that shame, more than anything else, stops people from writing. He debunks the advice that to be a writer, you have to write every day. That idea is one of the biggest causes of shame.   I found his blog at the right time. I needed to release the shame and give myself permission to be the writer I am. For me, the should-have-could-have-would-haves are paralytic. The … [Read more...]


Strengthening the crackling veneer

Have you ever felt broken? Like someone else is living in your body?   I have, and I think the other person's name is Meno Pause. Meno has more depressed days than I ever had, is less tolerant of others and is so fragile that little things crackle the veneer that holds her together, sending her into a room alone to get the shaking under control. She also has trouble thinking, would rather be alone and often avoids gatherings. She is the opposite of who I am in so many ways...   Meno Pause has been living in me for several years, but I think she is gradually moving out. A year ago, I was afraid she was becoming a permanent resident, but today I know different. I don't know if she will ever move out completely, but I am OK with that.   Over the last year I have become stronger, both physically and emotionally, strengthening the veneer that holds us both together. I am more like myself again, and have decided to embrace whatever comes each day. I mourn the loss of parts of me that Meno took away, but I have hope for the future, and I look forward to whatever it has to offer.   … [Read more...]


I Am Spock

By Leonard Nimoy   Star Trek has been infiltrating my life for as long as I can remember. I watched the original series as a child, and the movies as a teen and adult. My husband loves the original Star Trek, and enjoys the more recent Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. Captains Kirk, Picard and Janeway all have different attributes, which makes each of the series unique and interesting.   One of the icon characters of Star Trek is Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, who died at the end of February. Nimoy introduced the Vulcan hand salutation accompanied by "live long and prosper". Nimoy did live long and prosper. He was 83 when he died, and he had an amazing career.   In researching his obituary, I found out Nimoy had written two books I am not Spock in 1975, and I am Spock 20 years later. Intrigued by the titles, I wanted to read both books, but the library only had the later. I don't think I need to read the first one. Nimoy mentions it in the second calling the title a mistake. The title I am not Spock gave the impression that Nimoy did not like the character or being on Star Trek. That was so far from the truth, as Nimoy … [Read more...]


Where Rivers Meet

By Barbara Mackinnon Where Rivers Meet has it all-sorrow, love, romance, murder, conflict, scenic settings and friendship. It is a romance novel where two emotionally injured people meet by chance and find they can love again. Their individual stories and family conflicts of their pasts continue to surface as they build their relationship. The story starts in Dunkeld, Scotland, where Mary Sinclair and her husband, Stewart, are visiting?his aunt Fiona. Being from the United States, Mary is enchanted with the city and the countryside. She takes up painting as Stewart travels, where he dies. Mary plummets into grief and is hit with another blow that sinks her even farther. The story also follows Andrew MacLean, who lost a wife and ?child in a car accident that he does not believe was an accident. His search for the truth takes him from Skye back to Dunkeld where the accident took place. Mary and Andrew meet by chance, and the story follows their rocky friendship as it grows to more. As their relationship grows, so does the investigation into the accident, which causes problems for Andrew and everyone he knows. The author writes a believable story, building to a climax … [Read more...]


The Wisdom of the Native Americans

Edited by Kent Nerburn This book is filled with quotes and speeches that give the reader an inside look at the wisdom, spirituality and culture of the Native American people. When the Europeans arrived, this continent was filled with various tribes of people whose customs, languages and housing were different. The different tribes governed themselves and lived according to different rules.?But, according to Nerburn, they all shared a common belief that the earth is a spiritual presence that "must be honored, not mastered." Nerburn's book looks at how the Native Americans approached life. Part 1 includes quotes compiled from various Native people that take a deeper look into the culture, customs and thoughts. Part 2 includes writings from Ohiyesa, who was born in the Redwood Falls, MN area in 1958. He was later given the name Charles Alexander Eastman, a Santee Sioux child of the woodlands and prairies who would go on to become the adviser to presidents and an honored member of the New England society. According to Nerburn, Ohiyesa spent his life trying to build bridges of understanding between the Native and non-native people. Part 3 includes speeches by Chief Red … [Read more...]


Tales from the Wedding Altar

By Rev. James E. (Jimmy Mac) McNamara An easy read, "Tales form the Wedding Altar" takes the reader through various true stories from weddings Rev. Jimmy Mac has performed in Lass Vegas over the last four years. Some of the stories are heartwarming and some embarrassing, but the majority leave the reader chuckling. The stories are short, which makes the book easy to read in spurts. I kept it in my lunch box and read it during my breaks at work. It was a fun read.     … [Read more...]


Creating a layered herb pot

I am truly a reduce, reuse, recycle person. When something is heading for the garbage, I often see ways to repurpose it. Like the 5-inch-tall cardboard tubes that hold labels we use at work. I was watching the 6-inch diameter tubes adding up in the recycle box and wham, I was struck with the idea of using them to create a layered herb pot.   For my idea, I needed four of the tubes, a pot ?with a minimum of 14 inches in diameter, potting mix and herbs. I filled the pot with the potting mix up to about 2 inches from the top and then set three tubes in place. I filled them with potting mix and added some more around the edges. Then I set the fourth tube on the top in the center where the other three met. I filled the last one with potting mix and then planted the herbs.     I planted parsley around the bottom of the tubes, and then put kale, swiss chard and thyme in the first layer of tubes. I topped off the pot by planting rosemary in the top tube. I also added a couple of nasturtium seeds between the parsley.   The concept is an easy one that can be adapted to different tube sizes. Using this idea to plant pansies or other flowers would … [Read more...]


Enchantment in the hills

As I enter my columns into the computer I realize how much my writing has changed over the years. I really need to edit the columns I wrote in the early days. Anyway, while writing during a lull at one of my recent book signings, I was struck with the idea of blogging about being still. We have a tendency to keep moving along with our busy lives, and rarely slowing down to breathe, to listen and to rejuvenate. No wonder we have so many physical and emotional health issues! I ran across the following column, which I wrote in 1996. It is about summer camping, which I hope the weather will soon allow us to do, and the last paragraph was appropriate to my current thoughts. Slowing down long enough to nurture my soul with nature is something I really need to do. Ah, summertime! A time for gathering up the family, the tents, the lantern, the coolers, and heading off to the great campgrounds up north. Oh, don't forget the dog! Well, we found a campground down south that isn't booked up constantly and I couldn't figure out why. When I called the reservation number for the state campgrounds, I was actually trying to reserve a tent spot at Banning State Park. It was booked up so I asked … [Read more...]

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Life is fragile

Life is truly amazing! We never know, from one minute to the next, what life holds. Every day is a blessing.   I am about half way through a book titled "Life with Grace" about a child's early years after a premature birth at only 24 weeks. The book, written by Jennifer Schwertfeger, Grace's mother, describes what the family went through, mostly from the eyes of Jennifer. She lays out the fears, the medical issues and the emotional trauma of nearly losing Grace many times. She talks about how those things affected her, the weight loss, the sleepless nights, etc., and how her family endured.   Jennifer wrote the book to help others who give birth prematurely. She outlines things her family learned throughout the process in hopes that her family's experience will help others.   Grace is now 9 years old, which is a miracle.   I found the book quite by accident while doing research about publishers and self publishers. There was an interview of Jennifer at Beaver's Pond website that struck a cord with me. Grace's birth story and the reason for writing the book are very much like my book about my mother, "No Time to Quit: Life in a Broken … [Read more...]


Choice, the architect of our lives

Uploading the columns I have written over the years into the computer is an interesting adventure, both down memory lane and into my past thought processes. It's fascinating when I find ones that speak to me now. The following column was written in 2004. I firmly believe the concepts in this column. Though some of my priorities and choices change with the ebb and flow of life, like the choice to go to Nigeria last fall, I am grateful I live in a country where choice truly is the architect of our lives.   Choice, the architect of our lives   Have you ever thought about how each choice we make affects our lives and the lives of those who are around us? Sometimes, the simplest choices have a domino effect on the future. The choice can be as simple as hopping in a truck to go for a ride with some friends, or as the order of a group of people snowboarding down a hill.   My son, who was third in a group of four going down a mountain, was recently involved in a major snowboarding accident. Because he was third, the last person witnessed the accident and ended up staying with him until the ski patrol showed up.   One change in the order and it … [Read more...]