My hair woes

Strands of my hair accumulate on my bathroom counter, on the floor, on the window sill, in the sink, on my clothes, stuck on my toiletries bottles, and sometimes even in my toothbrush and in my mouth. But, it is most visible on my brush every time it touches my diminishing head of hair. Many years ago, while traveling in Europe I noticed my hair was shedding quite a bit. I went to the pharmacy in the town we were visiting, and the pharmacist recommended biotin. Biotin seemed to work then. It also helped grow and strengthen my finger nails. I’ve been taking that vitamin product ever since. Is stress the cause of hair shedding? Then about three years ago I noticed another bout of shedding hair. It looked like my brush had more hair on it after I dried it. I asked my dermatologist for advice, and her first question was: did I have a particularly stressful experience nine months before. My answer was a definite yes. She recommended women’s Rogaine 5% foam. She didn’t have much … [Read more...]

What else is happening in May?

This month is full of happenings, especially family ones. May 4 would have been my brother-in-law’s 79th birthday. Today would have been my dad’s 115th birthday though he only lived to be 72. They both died of cancer. Of course, next Sunday, May 13, is Mother’s Day, though I also commemorated Bereaved Mother’s Day yesterday, in memory of our son Paul who left us almost 19 years ago. And after that is my birthday on May 20, and Bob and my 48th anniversary on May 28. … [Read more...]

Can grief be contagious?

I met Martha Clark Scala at one of the first Esalen Institute workshops I took after our son died by suicide. And it was in that workshop where I found my voice in poetry. "Aftermath," the simple poem I wrote resonated such with Martha, that she wrote the following piece about her brother's death. The poem and the article both appeared first in the Summer 2001 issue of "We Need Not Walk Alone," published by The Compassionate Friends, an organization that provides friendship, understanding, and hope to those going through the natural grieving process. Martha and I have been friends ever since. I’m Not Contagious By Martha Clark Scala​ In the two or three weeks immediately following my brother Nick’s death, I received numerous calls, cards, plants, flowers, and offers of help. My loss sat on the front burner of many wonderful people’s stoves for about 21 days. I was in their thoughts, prayers, and blessings. Unfortunately, many issues and events vie for front-burner status … [Read more...]

Writing in the Dominican Republic

I met Lindsay de Feliz, author of What About Your Saucepans? and Life After My Saucepans, through a wonderful Facebook group called We Love Memoirs, and it was instant admiration. Her story is gutsy, heroic, and so, so different from my own that I had to share it with you. When I asked her to be a Choices guest she immediately said yes, and within a few days she sent me a story about her writing life in the Dominican Republic. My Writing Life in the Dominican Republic – Every Cloud has a Silver Lining by Lindsay de Feliz I was not a writer when I arrived in the Dominican Republic in 2001; I was a scuba diving instructor. I used to write a long email once a month to around 100 friends and family and often they would say you should write a book, but I didn’t think about it until I was shot in 2006 and was no longer able to work in diving. I was shot at 10.30 at night, and I remembered the first 15 minutes but then had no recollection of anything for around 6 hours, although I am told I … [Read more...]

Equal Means Equal invites you!

Please join the movement to finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Attend the screening of Equal Means Equal, a documentary by Kamala Lopez, next Monday night in El Segundo California and find out how you can get involved.  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, says: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex; it seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. The amendment was introduced in Congress for the first time in 1921 and has prompted conversations about the meaning of equality for women and men. In the early history of the Equal Rights Amendment, middle-class women were largely supportive, while those speaking for the working class were often opposed, pointing out that employed women needed special protections regardin … [Read more...]

Missing Sherman

My beloved cousin Sherman died yesterday as a result of a massive stroke. The shock of it, the fact that he is no longer with us, and the sadness I feel are overwhelming. We grew up together in Chicago though he was five years older than I. That age difference didn't matter. He was always caring and loving toward me. One of my early memories of him was at his Bar Mitzvah party. My dad was the master of ceremonies and he asked me to read a poem about Sherman as part of the program. I wish I remembered the poem or had a copy of it. I'd like to read it now. Instead I'll share the loving words his daughter put up on Facebook yesterday. It says it all: I am beyond heartbroken to share that my beautiful dad passed away this morning in my arms and those of my mom. There are truly no words to describe how kind, positive, caring, smart and generous he was. He reached out to everyone around him and always had a beautiful twinkle in his eyes. He loved to learn and made more of a … [Read more...]

How journaling helped B. Lynn Goodwin decide to marry at age 62

B. Lynn Goodwin used her journals as the foundation of her memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. Well, I have to say I did the same when I started my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. I had pages and pages of journal entries that I meticulously copied from my handwritten notebooks to computer Word files, and my book was off and running. For me, writing in my journals helped me heal after losing my son too suicide. For B. Lynn Goodwin, journal writing helped her to decide whether to jump into a marriage with a two-time widower at age 62. We both agree that journaling is like having a secret friend that we can trust with anything in our minds and hearts. Here is B. Lynn Goodwin and her thoughts about the benefits of journaling for her. Need a Venting Partner? Try a Journal by B. Lynn Goodwin When I was dating Richard, I had crazy thoughts running through my head. What did I know about love or commitment or becoming a wife? I didn’t even tell my friends about him at fi … [Read more...]

A room of my own – revisited

This morning I talked to a man I recently met at my gym while we both worked out on the elliptical. That’s a new one for me. I usually plug in my ear buds, listen to music, read my New Yorker, and hardly say a word to anyone while I exercise. And he was very inquisitive – he asked about my back ground, my religion, my home town, my current home town, how long married, where I’ve traveled, and of course the dreaded question – number of children. That question always stops me in my tracks – even now, over 18 years since my son Paul left us. And I told him truthfully that Paul took his own life because he had bipolar disorder. As a result I resurrected a piece I wrote for the now defunct Red Room site in 2013 – about the room I’m in right now – my private writing space. Even my husband knows not to bother me in here when my door is closed. In rereading this piece today, I can honestly say, not a lot has changed. He’s still in my room with me. My Private Island - A Room of My Own … [Read more...]

Women’s March photos

A week ago we marched in downtown Los Angeles to get out the vote and to express our feelings about the first year of our forty-fifth president. I was greatly encouraged about seeing the many numbers of young people marching with us. Could that mean we'll have more voter turn-out from this group in our 2018 mid-term elections? That could mean a Democratic flip - so important in passing some important legislation and getting rid of the liar we have in the White House in 2020 - if not before. Here are a few photos from the day. … [Read more...]

The Los Angeles Women’s March

My writing life has gone by the wayside for a while. I was asked a couple of months ago to lead my local resistance group's, South Bay Cares, trip to the Los Angeles Women’s March on January 20, and I happily accepted. At first we thought this would be simple. This second Women’s March couldn’t possibly be as popular as the Women’s March was last January 21, the day after the presidential inauguration. And WOW!, were we wrong! Last year we filled two 50-seat buses. This year we filled five with almost twenty people on a waiting list, waiting to pounce if someone cancels. In the meantime, I’ve given the wait listers instructions for taking the metro in case they don’t manage to get on a bus. They will be able to meet up with the bus riders once we all get to downtown Los Angeles. What is South Bay Cares? South Bay Cares was founded by two women in the Los Angeles South Bay community after the election of Donald Trump. Their intent is to Educate, Empower, and Engage. It wa … [Read more...]

I saw a stunning art exhibit over the holidays

Over the holidays we visited the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles to see Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors exhibit with our niece and nephew and their two children. (They missed the exhibit in their hometown, so enticed us to see it with them here.) The exhibit, consisting of six walk-in installations and adjoining paintings, collages, and sculptures, was the most fascinating I've ever experienced. We saw the installations in groups of two, three, or four people only and were allowed to stay in them for 30 seconds. Each made use of mirrors to create the repetition of her designs - lights, phallic symbols, polka dots and huge balloons - that she otherwise would have had to do by hand.  That made the work less time-consuming and less taxing on the 88-year old Kusama. She also used the mirrors as a way to include visitors in the experience. And sure enough we could see ourselves as we looked at what she had created with the mirrors. In between the installations we were … [Read more...]

Elliptical wars

Ever since I joined my gym in 1998 the elliptical trainer has been my choice for cardio exercise. In those days, there was a long row of these machines in the back of a room also lined with stair climbers and treadmills. They were plentiful enough so I usually didn’t have to wait in line to grab one, though then the club gave us a 30-minute exercise time limit if people were waiting. Fast forward nineteen years. Only two of those old, rusty, decrepit ellipticals are left; the others have been replaced by newer versions. However, there is a group of people like me who prefer working out on the old equipment, and a few of us prefer one over the other. I always prefer the one on the left because it goes faster. Here’s my competition: Two women who can’t wait. When they are ready to use the elliptical they come over and ask how long a time I have left. I hate that. I’m always in the middle of a The New Yorker article I’m reading and their question interrupts me. And if only … [Read more...]

Poetry lessons learned at Esalen, Big Sur, Part 2

As promised from my earlier post, here's Part 2 of the lessons I learned while attending Ellen Bass' Life of Poetry workshop at Esalen, in Big Sur, California, during the first week of December. Please click here to read Part 1. Long-armed poem: The third craft talk was about the "long-armed" poem, where we scoop a lot of disparate material into the poem, but all is related ultimately. To do this, Ellen suggests: Be as open as possible, allowing the world to intrude, allowing in things I don't know Start with disparate things Make a list of words, such as names of foods, books, movies, pieces of clothing. Or gather poems and take a word from each poem. Frank Gaspar, in his long-armed poems starts with a time and place and within that goes other places. But then he comes back to his starting point. Here's a long-armed poem I wrote a couple of years ago that was published In The Words of Womyn International 2016 Anthology. Stop and Go On the drive up the … [Read more...]

Poetry lessons learned at Esalen, Big Sur, Part 1

I just spent five days at The Life of Poetry workshop with Ellen Bass and Roxan McDonald at Esalen, in Big Sur California. The workshop structure is to hear a craft talk in the morning and then have about three hours of writing time, before we meet in the afternoons in smaller groups to share and discuss our new poems. Throughout the week I wrote four poems* in keeping with the four craft talks Ellen presented. I'll discuss the first two craft talks today, and continue on with the other two later in the week - so as not to bore you too much. Metaphor: Defined as similarity between things that are otherwise very different. Use of fresh vital images to jar us, to heighten the emotion and achieve intimacy. Through quality of the metaphors, the poet can grab the reader. Try to find metaphors in your junk drawer, your garage, your closet, your throw rug (look at the fibers in the rug rather than whole). Here is an example of a poem with great metaphors: My Father’s Tie Rack … [Read more...]

George H.W. Bush groped #MeToo

In May 2012, my husband, Bob, and I toured New England, Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC, as an anniversary treat. We stopped in Kennebunkport Maine for a night or two, and I joked with Bob that I hoped I’d get a chance to say hi to Barbara Bush – I called her Babs – at the local grocery store. Little did I know that I’d see her and her husband while we ate dinner at the recommended Italian spot, Grissini’s, that night. The couple sitting at the table to our left asked for a photo with them as the Bushes were leaving the restaurant, and we asked for a photo as well. Both the president and Barbara Bush were very gracious. When we said it was our anniversary, Barbara asked how many years, that triggered a little discussion about marriage longevity these days. That year we were celebrating forty-two years. We got one of the servers to take our picture – in fact, she took two shots. And during both, the former president rubbed my buttocks with the palm of his r … [Read more...]

Getting in balance

Balance is important especially as we age My mother fell all the time in her late eighties and early nineties. She wouldn’t use a cane either. Or if she took a cane with her, she’d wear the handle on her wrist like a bracelet. At first she did little damage, but her last fall resulted in a broken hip. She died a year and a half later at the age of 94. The fear of falling, which becomes more pronounced as we age, is very real. It’s not only undignified, it can cause serious fractures and internal injuries.  Therefore, our body’s ability to right itself and regain control against gravity depends on our muscles’ abilities to bring us back to the proper center of gravity. If you combine weak muscles with a lack of balancing practice, you have a perfect prescription for injury. The opposite of this equation is equally true. Practicing balancing poses and developing strong muscles that can pull you back to center after a stumble, misstep or accidental push. It can mean the di … [Read more...]

Friends in stone

My darling niece, Dara, sent me this piece a while back. It needs re-sharing: TWO FRIENDS WERE WALKING THROUGH THE DESERT DURING SOME POINT OF THE JOURNEY, THEY HAD AN ARGUMENT; AND ONE FRIEND SLAPPED THE OTHER ONE IN THE FACE THE ONE WHO GOT SLAPPED WAS HURT, BUT WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING, WROTE IN THE SAND TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE THEY KEPT ON WALKING, UNTIL THEY FOUND AN OASIS, WHERE THEY DECIDED TO TAKE A BATH THE ONE WHO HAD BEEN SLAPPED GOT STUCK IN THE MIRE! AND STARTED DROWNING, BUT THE FRIEND SAVED HIM. AFTER HE RECOVERED FROM THE NEAR DROWNING, HE WROTE ON A STONE: 'TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE' THE FRIEND WHO HAD SLAPPED AND SAVED HIS BEST FRIEND ASKED HIM, 'AFTER I HURT YOU, YOU WROTE IN THE SAND AND NOW, YOU WRITE ON A STONE, WHY?' THE FRIEND REPLIED 'WHEN SOMEONE HURTS US WE SHOULD WRITE IT DOWN IN SAND, WHERE WINDS OF FORGIVENESS CAN ERASE IT AWAY. BUT, WHEN SOMEONE DOES SOMETHING GOOD FOR … [Read more...]

How to have a sober Halloween

Photo by Beth Teutschmann on Unsplash I'm so glad to have Caleb Anderson share his suggestions for a sober Halloween.  As a recovery addict he wants to share how one can live their life alcohol and drug free even during times when our society prefers to use harmful substances to celebrate. Thank you Caleb for offering to write this post for Choices. Your suggestions are spot on. How to Throw a Spooky, Sober Halloween Soiree by Caleb Anderson It's the witching season again and you're wondering how to celebrate the spookiest night of the year while sticking to your recovery plan. Well, have no fear. Halloween and sober living can go hand in hand. In fact, you may find that you enjoy the festivities more with a clear mind and a clean body. But having a party worthy of the holiday means paying attention to the details. In this post we'll share some terrifying tips for creating the right setting for your sober celebration. Some of these ideas require just a dash of crafting skill, … [Read more...]

The Me Too hashtag

Earlier this week the Me Too hashtag drew more than twelve million Facebook posts, comments, reactions in twenty-four hours. I was one of them. Thanks to social media, this response has gone viral around the world. Now women worldwide are using the hashtag, #metoo, against sexual harassment. Women are breaking out of their shells and telling their stories. Even one hundred forty female legislators, lobbyists, and political staffers in my state capitol, Sacramento, signed a letter saying sexual harassment is pervasive there. They said, “Each of us has endured, or witnessed or worked with women who have experienced some form of dehumanizing behavior by men with power in our workplaces.” My first job out of college was at a fashion trade magazine in downtown Los Angeles. I quit after three weeks because of the editor/owner’s constant sexual harassment and humiliation. Then I went into the aerospace industry, and though it was little subtler, men still thought they could say sug … [Read more...]

Come on over to the Sunscreen Film Festival West

Our son and daughter-in-law's film, "Gentlemen's Fury," will be shown at the Sunscreen Film Festival tomorrow, Saturday, October 7 at 5 pm in Hermosa Beach, CA.  Please come on over and become a part of all the excitement. The film is hilarious. Go to  http://ssffwest.com/ for more info and tickets. Gentlemen's Fury is about a professional tennis player, Aaron Faust, who goes on a desperate mission to prove that tennis is not a soft sport by punching an opponent and joining a cult. He had a promising career as a professional tennis player. But he also had a few issues. Suspended by the ATP for brawling with an opponent, his life has taken a turn for the worse. During a particularly dark period, he encounters Dwayne, an intense and charismatic zealot, who recruits Aaron for Gentlemen’s Fury, an underground tennis league that just might not be strictly about tennis. Gentlemen's Fury stars: Ben Sharples, Jake Head, Audrey Ellis Fox, Kyle Leibovitch, … [Read more...]