Review number 220 is a true gift

Thank you, Janine Ward, for this sensitive and insightful review of Leaving the Hall Light On.  I won't say more. The review speaks for itself. Inspirational. For anyone who has known untouchable, unimaginable grief that no one deserves and on one survives without lifetime scars, Madeline Sharples' Leaving the Hall Light On is a must read. It is a book that will shine light into the broken crevices of the soul, and if you are healing, if you feel you are alone, Madeline's book is the perfect company. It is her transformative story about accepting the grief of unanswerable questions, parenting into the unknown territories of mental illness, losing everything and deciding to live anyway. Along the way she describes it in detail, the intersections she crossed and why she turned the way she turned, proving that anyone can survive anything if we put our minds into it and one foot forward, one day at a time. Joy can return, it will never be the same but the capacity to accept what it … [Read more...]

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Eclipse – The Path to Totality

We saw the total eclipse of the sun in: Silverton, OR Silverton is in the path of totality for the Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017! Observers there will see (approximately) 1m 46s of totality! Here's what I've written about it so far. Eclipse – The Path to Totality We planned for months to travel to Oregon to see a total eclipse of the sun – the first time visible coast to coast in the US since 1918. My sister picked a gorgeous garden, the Oregon Garden, in Silverton for our viewing. She also invited friends and our nephew from Seattle and his family. Before we left LA people warned the crowds would be horrendous, the traffic bumper to bumper for miles, and it gave me pause. Should we still go on this trip to see a once in a lifetime occurrence that would last less than two minutes? Of course, we went. My husband, an amateur astronomer, would have it no other way. And we were not disappointed. We left Portland in the dark of the morning … [Read more...]

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Where I’ve been

I apologize for the scarcity of my blog posts lately. I've gotten very involved in a consulting job over at the aerospace company I used to work for and that has taken up most of my energy. And the problem  is, I don't see an end of the work in sight. Although I don't want to go on a complete vacation from blogging, I feel I have to cut back. I've already done that to my small stones writing regime, my work on my novel, and my attendance at  writing group meetings. Unfortunately, when I accept a consulting job, most everything else suffers. However, some interesting things have happened as well. I belong to a wonderful group called South Bay Cares that was founded as a source of education and to be an arbiter of positive action so that members can be the change that we want to see in the world. Our motto is: Educate. Empower. Engage. And a couple of weeks ago we hosted an event at our local independent bookstore: Pages: a bookstore with the cinematographer and two of the writer … [Read more...]

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July Journeys – small stones yet again

In July we were asked to write small stones about our journeys. That put me in a bind, since I don't like to announce on social media when I'm traveling. It turns out we did travel in July - to Chicago, Green Lake WI, New York City, and Washington DC, but none of my July small stones refer to that trip at all. I must say it was a great trip - one for seeing friends and family. We also went to the Art Institute to see Gaugin, Millennium Park, the Yale art museum, the Morgan Library, the Modern Museum of Art, a couple of great New York plays, and a most special adventure - a visit to the new National Museum of African American Culture on Constitution Avenue in DC. Since I'm working part time this month and taking a writing class, I've decided to take a little break from small stone writing. I'm happy I was able to keep it up for eleven months. For sure I'll get back into it when the rest of my life relaxes a bit. In the meantime, here are my July small stones, called July … [Read more...]

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Reading at Vroman’s Bookstore on August 6

I'm so excited about being one of twelve authors picked to read at this IWOSC event on Sunday, August 6 I just had to share it with you. If you live in the Los Angeles or Pasadena, please come on over to Vroman's Bookstore. Come hear what other members are working on. "IWOSC Reads Its Own" is Sunday, August 6, from 2 - 4 p.m. View this email in your browser IWOSC Reads Its Own   Sunday, August 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. – Everyone is invited! Twice a year IWOSC presents a special FREE event, “IWOSC Reads Its Own,” a spellbinding afternoon of eclectic, eccentric, and exemplary works – from poems to true stores to hilarious monologues and beyond, read aloud by distinguished IWOSC scribes. A dozen of IWOSC’s talented member writers will read short excerpts from their work. Their selections may be published, unpublished, or w … [Read more...]

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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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