Still here – old memories and feelings of guilt

I received a surprise Facebook private message two mornings ago that brought up a lot of old memories of our deceased son Paul and many old feelings of guilt about what I could have done to save him. Even though he's been gone from our lives for almost eighteen years, those things can come up without warning any time of day or night. The note, I'm sure, didn't intend to promote those old feelings. It was a lovely compliment about my book and how my book will help the writer with her work as a therapist. However, when I read it at four in the morning, I was through sleeping for the rest of the night. Here's the message I received from a young woman who was in Paul's high school class at Crossroads in Santa Monica. I don't remember ever meeting her until she asked me to be her Facebook friend a few weeks ago. "For seven years Leaving the Hall Light On was on my Amazon wish list because I graduated from Crossroads with Paul. When we found out at our reunion that he had died fr … [Read more...]

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Honoring Bereaved Parents Month

Thank you, Donna McGrew Anderson, administrator of the Facebook group TCF* - Loss to Suicide and fellow bereaved parent, for posting this in honor of Bereaved Parents Month. "Even as I rocked on my knees, howling, I detected soft breathing behind the roaring. I leaned in, listened. It was the murmuring of ten million mothers, backward and forward in time and right now, who had lost children. They were lifting me, holding me. They had woven a net of their broken hearts, and they were keeping me safe there. I realized that one day I would take my rightful place as a link in this web, and I would hold my sister-mothers when their children died. For now my only task was to grieve and be cradled in their love." excerpt from CARAVAN OF NO DESPAIR released by Sounds True. "Although this piece speaks of Mothers, it applies to all parents who have lost their children. They have an overwhelming need to hold another grieving parent. To hug them, sit with them in the darkness, to say you … [Read more...]

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Small stones in June

We wrote Jewels of June last month. It's always fun to have a little bling in our lives. And Happy Fourth of July, everyone! It’s June 1st and the sun is as bright as a jewel. What happened to our usual June gloom? I’m feeling so sad and embarrassed for my country – sad, angry, depressed, and hopeless. We have tickets to see Wonder Woman later this afternoon. I can’t wait. Lynda Carter in the TV version was one of my heroes growing up. And this new movie is said to be flawless and powerful, a good example for girls. Definitely see Wonder Woman. Take your daughters, nieces, moms, grandmas and/or granddaughters! Support women's films! The men you know might like it too. Please accept my condolences for those who died during the attack in London on Saturday, and I wish speedy recoveries for the many who were injured - physically and emotionally. I am embarrassed by my president’s attack at London’s mayor. Cool, dark, breezy. Nothing jewel-like about this day. Not a bit … [Read more...]

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Three things

First. This is the last day the Kindle edition of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, will be on sale for $.99. So please grab your copy before midnight. Here’s what a few reviewers had to say about it: ...Leaving the Hall Light On left me in tears. It is a heart wrenching book; I could not put it down.  Anyone who wants to learn how to live with children or adults with bipolar disorder, must read this book. ...I could imagine that this book might be helpful for those dealing with bipolar disease or suicide in the family, but for those of us fortunate enough not to have yet experienced those problems, it also provides a very real look into how good but human people deal with the cruelty of fate. ...Suicide does not just end one life, it can destroy others. Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide is the story of … [Read more...]

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Novel successes and woes

I’ve been glued to my chair working on my novel for months: writing new scenes, converting dialogue into inner monologues, changing tense from present to past, creating new chapters where three asterisks indicated breaks in the text, and generally editing as I went through it over and over again. A little bit about my new scenes* process: I marked up my manuscript to indicate where (with page number) a new scene was needed and what the scene should consist of. I highlighted that marker in yellow. I then copied the marker and pasted it in a new document called New Scenes. I created the new scenes in the New Scenes document – without touching my original manuscript. When I finished creating the scenes I edited them several times to make them as mature as my original manuscript, already in its eighth draft. Then I merged the scenes into the manuscript, starting from the end of the book, so I wouldn’t mess with the page numbers And as I copied and pasted the ne … [Read more...]

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Peach Ping

Last night at the end of our Father’s Day dinner, our son asked me if I had my mom’s recipe for Peach Ping. And he wanted to know if I would give it to him – or better yet – make it for him. I told him not only did I have the recipe; I would gladly make it. And that simple question brought up a very sad memory. The last time I made it was in August 2013, a few months before our dear friend Cynthia died. I made dinner for our group of friends, including Cynthia and her husband, and baked my mom's peach ping for dessert. That was the last time all eight of us were together. I found the recipe in my mother’s recipe box. One of these days I will copy the recipes – each one meticulously typed on now-yellowed four by six cards – and publish them in a book to share with my family. Here’s the recipe for Peach Ping: 10 to 12           peaches ½ cup             butter or margarine 1-1/2 cups      brown sugar, packed 1 tsp                grated lemon peel 2                   … [Read more...]

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#Resist March/LA! Pride – what an event

Sunday June 11, I participated in the #Resist March with my South Bay Cares group. We took a bus from Manhattan Beach to Hollywood and Highland. We arrived at eight and started walking at ten in the morning, ending up in West Hollywood at Melrose and San Vincente. Although the march website said we would walk a little over three miles, my Fitbit said I walked over five. And I must say it was a great people watching and sign watching event. A highlight of the day was meeting and taking a group photo with  Ted Lieu, who is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing California's 33rd congressional district since 2015 (our district). And that's me with the pink hat standing right next to him. Also note our new South Bay Cares banner and logo and our great event T-shirts. Here are some of the photos I took.   … [Read more...]

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May flowers and memories (small stones)

I just finished my tenth month writing small stones. The only break was during  my husband's Grand Canyon accident and recovery in November - December 2016. Here are my May small stones, including a couple of photos I posted with the words. By the way, the admin of the small stones  Facebook page, Ger O Neill, creates a new name for our group every month. Last month the name was May flowers and memories. This month we're writing Jewels of June. May flowers and memories May Day and the beginning of mental health month. A great day for people watching and writing at a little café. Congress is trying to decimate mental health care. If they pass the amended American Health Care Act (AHCA), millions of Americans will lose their mental health coverage. Please tell your congress representatives to vote No on AHCA. How can so many things in my house go wrong at the same time? My stove cooktop, a water heater, and dryer are all dead. And service people are nowhere in sight. Frus … [Read more...]

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We celebrate in May

With Mother's Day and my birthday and our anniversary in the month of May, we had a lot of celebrating to do. We also celebrated the online release of our son's new movie, Gentlemen's Fury, now streaming on Vimeo On Demand. Believe me, in the old days when I first started going to movies I never would have dreamed we could see new releases from our television sets. So here are a few photos from this May and one from our wedding day, May 28, forty-seven years ago. And yes, they all said it would never last. May 28, 1970 May 28, 2017 May 23, 2017, release of Gentlemen's Fury on Vimeo On Demand One more thing. My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On was released on Mother's Day, 2011. It now has 218 reviews on Amazon and is ranked 4.3 out of five stars. Plus last month it was on a list compiled by Erin Burba of BookRiot of the 100 Must-Read Biographies and Memoirs of Remarkable Women. So I celebrate the anniversary of that event too. … [Read more...]

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Introducing Gentlemen’s Fury – a hilarious new film

WATCH IT TODAY! GENTLEMEN’S FURY TENNIS MOVIE PREMIERES MAY 23RD Gentlemen’s Fury, a comedy feature film about an ATP player whose Johnny Mac–like temper lands him in a league that might not be strictly about tennis, premieres today, May 23, 2017 on Vimeo On Demand. Starring Ben Sharples (Flight 7500), Jake Head (Ted) and Audrey Ellis Fox (Law & Order: SVU), Gentlemen’s Fury is a cross between Fight Club and Dodgeball that makes a raucous commentary on the plight of the male tennis player, as well as tennis itself. (And in case you didn't already guess, Ben is my son.) For more information and to watch the trailer, please click here. To contact Ben Sharples, please email:  ben@golddoorfilms.com *** Here's a wonderful interview with Ben and his wife, Marissa, who also played a key role in the making of the film. Tennis Gets Its Ace by Neil Feineman It was, as dinner parties go, your pleasant, basic good time -- until a guest, fully aware of Ben Sharple … [Read more...]

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April small stones

We called our April small stones April Smiles, Showers and Pearls, and indeed they were. Without further ado, here are the small stones I wrote last month. A beautiful day. A beautiful walk to the beach. And I’m not fooling. We had brunch and a trip to the park with our three-year old godson and his family today. Always a challenge, but always lovely as well. So much going on – house renovations, writing projects, and a wonderful visit with our deceased son’s best friend. I love that he is still in our lives. I’ve been working hours revising, thinking, editing, thinking. It’s exhausting. Looking at these awesome giant birds of paradise from my upstairs window. Nature is such a great inspiration. We had dinner 71 stories up last night. What a view of downtown Los Angeles: A beautiful bright sunny day for entertaining relatives from rainy Oregon. And it was so wet this morning I thought they had brought their rain with them. Today was a work day, not a writing da … [Read more...]

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Meet Susan Day – grand-parenting expert

I fell in love with poetry as a child. I loved reading it and having it read to me. And as I got older I loved learning what the poems meant. Now I am a published poet. My guest today, Susan Day, an expert on grand-parenting and author of the soon to be released book, The Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing!, writes about how important it is to teach children to memorize, read aloud, and write poetry. Please  welcome Susan Day to Choices. The Importance of Teaching Children Poetry by Susan Day By studying poetry, memorizing and learning how to create poems, children can increase their language skills immensely. When studying poetry children are required to remember the words, and the rhythm or meter, in which the poem is meant to be said. This skill actually plays a powerful part on a child’s ability to learn and recall information from a wide range of subject areas. Sadly, many classrooms underestimated what an important learning tool poetry is. A poem might be … [Read more...]

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May is mental health month

With mental health care on the chopping block, it is important to keep in mind organizations that can help. Here's a list of groups I've compiled, which also include suicide prevention sites. Helpful Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Organizations American Foundation for Suicide Prevention bringchange2mind Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services Healthline NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Stop A Suicide Today Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Support Association, Inc. The Compassionate Friends The Jed Foundation My son Paul was diagnosed with bipolar disorder soon after he turned twenty-one. And after struggling with it for almost seven years, he took is life at age twenty-seven. Suicide is a huge risk for those suffering with mental illness. We must continue to work hard for health care parity, i.e., that treats physical illness and mental illness equally. It didn't exist when Paul was s … [Read more...]

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How my novel is progressing

I haven’t written about my work on my novel for quite some time. So, I thought I’d bring you up to date. Yes, you’re right. I’m still working on it after all these years – about seven at least. However, I think I’m finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. After all, I'm working on draft number eight. A few months ago, I hired an editor to do an assessment critique, and after a thorough reading, he provided me with ten pages of single-spaced notes, with many rewriting assignments. Before I embarked on any of it I asked him to honestly tell me if I should put the book on a shelf and forget about it, or keep on working. He suggested I keep working, and that’s what I’m been doing. For the last several weeks I’ve been working steadily to accomplish the editor’s suggestions. And while I work on the novel, I totally ignore social media of every kind. That was hard at first, but it gets easier with time. The first thing I did was abide by the editor’s suggestion to change t … [Read more...]

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March for Science

I've decided to close out the month with some poster photos that I took at the April 22 March for Science. I think they speak for themselves. Please enjoy.   … [Read more...]

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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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