March small stones

Another month of small stones, and I'm still going strong. We called March: Mad March A gorgeous day in La La Land with temperatures near 70 degrees. However, more rain – yes yet      again – is on the horizon. Do you think I’ll have to get a rain check at the car wash? It's all about the color of paint and that March is maddening. My husband doesn’t know much about colors, and as a result our downstairs bathroom got painted an off-white creamy color instead of a pure unadulterated white. I can wait until it's fixed. A weekend off and after that one or two more days left of my consulting job. It’s time for catching up on sleep and a celebration. We saw an important movie tonight: I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary about James Baldwin, a black activist in the 1940s to 1960s. Unfortunately, the treatment of blacks in America has not changed much for the better since then. Finally the rain came as predicted. And before we knew it a full-blown sun came out. I love the wish … [Read more...]

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Important! PLEASE READ! It could save your life.

I don't normally do this, but I thought the information I received this morning is very important - especially for women. Please read and share. It could save your life. About  Eggs Mixed with Water...  It could save your Life plus other info.   A MESSAGE FROM THE OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL STATE OF MICHIGAN:     SITUATION.... While driving on a rural end of the roadway on Thursday morning, I saw an infant car seat on the side of the road with a blanket draped over it.For whatever reason, I did not stop, even though I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. But when I got to my destination, I called the Canton PD and they were going to check it out. But, this is what the Police advised even before they went out there to check..."There are several things to be aware of... Gangs and thieves are now plotting different ways to get a person (mostly women) to stop their vehicle and get out of the car. There is a gang … [Read more...]

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April is National Poetry Month

I started reading poetry in grade school although I didn’t start writing poems until much later. Once in a while I’d write a poem or two when I was upset emotionally or feeling lonely, but not regularly until after my son’s suicide. It was the only way I could deal with my grief. It still is. Reading poetry regularly is a given. During April, National Poetry Month, Knopf sends me a poem a day, and the website Poem-A-Day sends me a poem every day all year round. Sometimes over a dozen poems are in my reading queue. I also write poems regularly - this month especially since I'm participating in a poem a day challenge. Poetry is my favorite writing genre. It's hard to know if my poems live up to Lori Anne Ferrell’s criteria as discussed in her LA Times Op Ed piece below, but many have been published, so they must resonate somewhere. “A book of poetry that's worth $100,000, and so much more” by Lori Anne Ferrell "A few months ago, I was talking to a former student about how s … [Read more...]

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Writing poems in April

As I usually do every year, I’m again writing poems for Robert Lee Brewer’s poem a day challenge. And as usual I’ll share a few that I’ve written so far. Here are the prompts and my first attempts at poems for days 5, 6, and 8. Remember these are first drafts, so please be kind.   5. Pick an element (like from the periodic table), make it the title of your poem (or part of the title), and then, write the poem. Anything goes from hydrogen to oganesson. (For me, this was like a found poem.) Platinum Chemical element with symbol Pt And atomic element number 78, My favorite metal, Platinum, is primordial, Which means it has existed in its current form, Since before the earth was born. It is transition metal and solid With a noble stature. Platinum has remarkable resistance To corrosion A good thing for holding Precious stones in its hands. For it is precious itself, Gray-white in color It is dense, malleable, ductile And highly unreactive, Making it t … [Read more...]

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A new review

My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, currently has 217 reviews over at Amazon. The last one is a gem that I'd like to share with you. Though I personally know the reviewer, I don't think that swayed her choice of words and her feelings about the book. She's a professional writer and reads voraciously. So thank you so much, Barbie, for this very thought-provoking review of my memoir. A Broken Heart Madeline Sharples' book is so much more than a memoir, in many ways it is as if you are reading her diary. A book of thoughts addressing memories while trying to understand, to sort through years of heartbreaking and stressful events, hoping to find an answer and to heal. I would bet a very similar emotional battle is felt by all those who have lost loved ones to suicide. So many parts of this book I can relate to but with a twist. My dad's abuse of his medication affected his personality and mood changes, and escalated his dementia. The guilt I felt not being able to get … [Read more...]

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Letters from World War I France

Hubert William Kelley's letters home from France during World War I are extraordinary. And that his daughter became the editor of The Weeping Angel: Letters and Poems from World War I France is also extraordinary. Thank you Crystal Otto and Bring on Lemons for hosting a virtual tour of this book. About The Weeping Angel Now, on the Centennial of World War I, Hubert Kelley’s wish is realized with the publication of The Weeping Angel, his account of the war in northern France as he lived it.  Told through letters and poems, Kelley writes home to his Kansas City family with vivid descriptions of day-to-day life on the edge of the battlefield.  Enlisting right after graduation from Central High, he claims to play the bugle to be accepted and proves to be a talented raconteur and observer. Although he could not play the bugle and never learned, he became the regimental poet of Company D of the Twelfth Engineers and found his true vocation as a writer. Mary Kelley, his daughter, … [Read more...]

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A wonderful surprise

I got a huge and wonderful surprise yesterday from my author and poet friend Jessica Bell, of Vine Leaves Press. She tagged me in a Facebook post to tell me that my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On was on a list compiled by Erin Burba of BookRiot of the 100 Must-Read Biographies and Memoirs of Remarkable Women. As I looked at the list I couldn’t believe my memoir was among those written by the likes of Mary Karr, Joan Didion, Cheryl Strayed, Sonia Sotomayor, Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, Anais Nin, Malala Yousafzai, Patti Smith, Katharine Graham, and Nora Ephron, memoirists and authors I’ve admired for almost forever. But it is indeed true. Leaving the Hall Light On is number 80 on the list. Here are the first twenty and the last twenty of the books listed. Please click on the BookRiot link to see the rest and to read the description of each book. The first twenty: Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock. The Liars’ Club … [Read more...]

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February’s small stones

I'm still writing small stones every day. This month we're calling them Mad March. In February they were February Favorites. Since I was working a day job over at Northrop Grumman during February, I wasn't sure I'd have the energy to keep them up. But I did and here they are: A new month, with hope for a world less chaotic. If only we didn’t have a leader who incites all the turmoil rather than calm. The groundhog saw his shadow today, which means six more weeks of winter. I think that’s a good thing. How about you? So busy, so distracted from my writing work, and so tired. Having a day job takes its toll. I saw the sun coming through thick fog this morning, leaving the tree leaves sparkling with green iridescence. Lady Gaga can do it all – sing, dance, play the keyboards, fly through the air, and move incessantly during the 15-minute Super Bowl half time show, that is, until she dropped the mike. After a long day I’m enjoying being home with my husband. We have … [Read more...]

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Jennifer McGregor writes about PTSD and its risks

Please welcome back Jennifer McGregor. Today she writes about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its effects on those who have it. The good news is: if treated correctly, PTSD doesn't have to mean a life of depression and addiction or a death sentence. PTSD: What are the Associated Risks? by Jennifer McGregor Image via Pixabay by googles People who suffer from PTSD will experience symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, paranoia, and depression. These are to be expected after a PTSD diagnosis. What is less commonly known are the coinciding effects PTSD can have on someone. Too often, one mental illness can trigger other illnesses, risks, or symptoms that may not be directly associated with PTSD. Here are a few of the associated risks to be on the lookout for if someone you love has been diagnosed with PTSD. Social Isolation is Very Common When a person is suffering from PTSD, they tend to withdraw into their homes, afraid of experiencing a trigger. The home is … [Read more...]

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Leaving an island paradise

Blog Editor, Linda Hoye, recently asked Story Circle Network's One Woman’s Day contributors to consider a place they hold dear and to write about a special day they spent there or, perhaps the day they left. I accepted the challenge and wrote about the bittersweet leaving of our family’s home in the South Pacific. Here's my story, recently published in the Story Circle Network's March Journal: Leaving An Island Paradise From January 1977 to September 1978 I lived with my family on an island in the South Pacific – Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. The island is a military base, and my husband Bob managed a military-funded program there. We had a slow and easy life on the island, filled with all kinds of beach and water activities. When we arrived our sons Paul was five and Ben was two and a half. When we left Paul was seven and Ben four. Ben was glad to leave; Paul could have stayed forever. However, when we first stepped off the plane (a military carrier with no … [Read more...]

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It’s time to start rewriting again

I apologize for taking so much time off from Choices. My temporary day job has been exhausting and as such has given me little time or energy to write here. However, I’ll be free of it early next week and look forward to getting back to my writing work. That said I attended a rewrite seminar last weekend to hopefully help me get revved up to work on my novel after a long hiatus working a proposal management consulting job. Some of the contents of the seminar were familiar – I learned a lot about rewrite and revision while working proposals in the aerospace business – and some things discussed gave me some new nuggets to incorporate in my work. Here I’ll try to give you ways to tackle your own drafts. The two-step process for writing a book are: Step 1 – write the draft Just get it out Don’t hang up with editing Don’t go to the Thesaurus to find a word. Lay all your cards on the table as fast as you can. And avoid tendency to write in chronological order … [Read more...]

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We don’t have to slow down in our old age

My dear friend Pat sent these photos to me, and I had to share. I feel fit for my age, but these folks are incredible - and such wonderful inspirations. … [Read more...]

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Shirley Melis writes about dancing through grief

I feel so grateful that I got the chance to interview Shirley Melis as she participates in her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour. As I'm no stranger to grief I was interested in how she deals with it and writes about it. Ultimately for both of us, we've learned to survive. Thank you, Shirley, for being here at Choices today. About Banged-Up Heart:  is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again. When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What foll … [Read more...]

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Man’s best friend trained to save lives

Jennifer McGregor has written for Choices two other times, presenting  compelling information about  addiction and suicide . Today she writes about man's best friend and how service dogs can be a great asset to veterans in need. Thank you, Jennifer, for your wise words as always. Welcome back! Earning the Title of “Man’s Best Friend”: Service Dogs for Veterans by Jennifer McGregor Photo via Pixabay by skeeze For years, dogs have been designated as “Man’s Best Friend,” but have you ever paused to consider the reason? Besides the outward affection and the inner, fuzzy feeling you get when you own one of these four-legged creatures, there are tons of benefits, like positive changes in your mental and physical health, ability to socialize and interact in the community, and regulated emotional levels. If you’re a veteran, owning a service dog might be the remedy to many of your post-war issues and symptoms. Here’s why: Dogs Are The Cheese To Your Macaroni Service dogs are trai … [Read more...]

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January small stones

I've been faithfully writing my small stones every day - even though my time has been limited the past few weeks. I took on a consulting job three weeks ago back working at my old day job - helping engineers write and produce a proposal to the U.S. Government. It's always interesting and fulfilling and very busy, but doesn't come close to the pleasure I feel when I'm doing my creative work. I'm happy to say the job will be over on February 21. That said, here are my January Gems - my daily attempt at writing a short piece every day of the month. They aren't meant to be masterpieces. Just a way to jump-start my writing for the day. January Gems Happy New Year everyone. I love that we’re still keeping up with our small stones. Let’s make 2017 a great writing year. The floats in the Rose Parade are spectacular. They’re getting more elaborate and tech-y every year. After our recent heavy rains, it’s gotten unseasonably cold here in southern California. But not so cold t … [Read more...]

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Author Rebecca Fitton finds writing is healing

I'm pleased to introduce Rebecca Fitton and her new book of poetry, Wave Rider, as she embarks on her WOW! Women on Writing book tour.   Wave Rider is a poetic reflection of author Rebecca Fitton’s long journey to heal from sexual abuse, abandonment, and neglect, building a new world based on wholeness of body, mind, and spirit. Her journey has taken a lifetime. To use the metaphor of waves, sometimes the undertow nearly drowned her—but she survived. Now her beautiful and profound book offers inspiration to others who have also suffered greatly from abuse. Here's my Review Rebecca Fitton’s Wave Rider, a book of poetry, shares her beginnings as an abused child and her rebirth later in her adulthood. She divides her book of poems into three sections: Darkness: her poems of her life with a mother who doesn’t want her and an uncle who abuses her. She lived in this frozen, silent darkness until she was forty years old. In a poem early in the book, she writes, “I learn … [Read more...]

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Photos from the Women’s March, January 21, Los Angeles

The march was wonderful. What a loving and  inspiring crowd of people. They estimate 750,000 people walked in Los Angeles, causing huge waits to get anywhere. We stood huddled together for long periods of time, and still we smiled, cheered, chanted, sang, and danced. Here are some photos of some of my favorite signs that people carried with them throughout the day. We walked with our local SB Cares group - 140 of us went on buses from the South Bay. (The first two photos and of my friend and day-long march buddy, Debra and myself.) I'm wearing the Spirited Women's Namaste scarf. Will I ever do another march? The answer if a resounding "yes!" Everyone I hear from feels the same way. We loved it! And in the meantime, SB Cares is still working. We've developed several task forces to do what we can to keep moving forward, not backwards to where our new president wants us to be. I'm a co-chair of the Women's Rights task force and a member of the one on mental health. Come join us. Fin … [Read more...]

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How not to ask for a review

I thought this piece in today's New York Times magazine, in The Ethicist section by Kwame Anthony Appiah, is something all of us authors should think about. My husband pointed it out to me, and I totally agree. The Question More and more of my friends are self-publishing books; some I purchase just to support their writers. In this new situation, a dear old friend wants me to give him a five-star review on Amazon and post it on Facebook. I’ve seen a few pages of his book, and it’s a piece of self-indulgent drivel. I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings, but I don’t want to sell out either. What do you suggest? Name Withheld Appiah's Answer If you are such good friends, wouldn’t it be better to give him, gently, your opinion of some of the book’s weaknesses? Possibly without actually using the words “self-indulgent drivel”? Self-published books have taken a long dive since the days of Jane Austen, and the new ease of making them, in the digital era, has turned a river of putrefact … [Read more...]

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Women’s March precautions and vigil

I'm so glad I noticed the Women's March precautions posted on Facebook by my friend, Keren Taylor, CEO of one of my favorite non-profits, WriteGirl.   WriteGirl promotes creativity and self- expression to empower girls within a community of women writers. Here's what Keren had to say: If you're going to DC, Boston Los Angeles, SF, etc. to take part in a peaceful gathering, here are some good tips from a wise friend: Keep your cool. Do not offer personal information to unsolicited requests. Stay to the edges of the crowd. Have a meet-up-if-you-get-separated plan. Do not count on your cell phones. Write important information on your forearm in Sharpie. It will wash off eventually. Stay hydrated and never pass up an opportunity to use a toilet. Wear the right shoes Don't carry anything you can't lose. And most important in my mind: LISTEN to the energy and calmly leave if you have any doubts about anything. Please everyone, if you're march … [Read more...]

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Poems from the latest Poem A Day challenge

I have to confess right from the start that I didn't finish the November 2016 Poem A Day (PAD) challenge. I was so caught up in my husband's recovery from his Grand Canyon accident that writing poetry during that time was the last thing on my mind. However, I wrote a poem a day for the first fifteen days. Here's a couple, including the prompts I wrote to. Write a wire poem. A wire poem could be about something that needs wires–like maybe a robot, TV, or automobile. But birds huddle on telephone wires, people wire money to each other, and kids can get wired off of too much candy and/or caffeine. In fact, I’m surprised I haven’t written more wired poems over the years. Birds on the Wire It fascinates me To see those birds Up there on the electrical wires. Don’t their little bird claws Perched around those strands Of metal get hot? They don’t seem to mind their perch. It’s where they come to meet their friends, Learn the latest gossip, And take a short break From their … [Read more...]

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