A week in New York City

We walk amidst the crowds, some barreling into us on our side of the sidewalk as we tally 43 miles for the week. We push into the subway cars, careful not to get stuck in the sliding doors as we crush into others standing in the aisles. Sweat pours down our faces and soaks our backs. We wait in long lines for museum tickets to see the first masterpiece Rembrandt ever painted at age twenty-three, Manus X Machina fashions, Diane Arbus photography, Degas charcoal and pastel drawings, Pergamon Greek and Roman artifacts, Turner’s whaling landscapes, and the constructionist Bauhaus artist and writer, Maholy-Nagy. Culture abounds even at night. How can a New York experience not include theater? One play is terrific: A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. The other, The Humans, not so much. And we eat and eat and eat – one place better than the other: Chazz Palminteri’s Ristorante Italiano, Locanda Verde on Greenwich Street, Lusardi’s with dear friends, MOMA’s T … [Read more...]

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What do you wish you knew before you turned 40?

A few days ago, Naturally Savvy, for which I am the Savvy Over 60 contributor, posted my article: “Ten Things I Wish I Knew before I Turned 40.” I put a lot of thought into that article, and even though I came up with ten things as my editor suggested, I know it is still incomplete. I didn’t address religion, or money, or women’s equality – a subject so much in the forefront today. I also didn’t discuss marriage, or children, or what to do during retirement, or politics. The list is a work in progress. The list will never be complete. Perhaps to entice you to go over to Naturally Savvy to read my article and other articles I’ve contributed, I’ll give you a few examples from my list. But really I’d love for you to share your list either here or at the Naturally Savvy link. Only spend time with people you care about. Life is too short to feel obligated to be with people we don’t care about. Learn to excuse yourself gracefully. Gently fade away. And believe me they won’t mis … [Read more...]

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Reading about Corita Kent at {pages}: a bookstore

This past Thursday evening I attended a book reading at my local independent bookstore, {pages}. April Dammann, author of Corita Kent. Art and Soul. The Biography. (Angel City Press), spoke to us about the wonderful artist and teacher of the 1960s formerly known as Sister Mary Corita. I was most interested in attending this event because I have four of Corita’s serigraphs hanging on my family room wall. I fell in love with them in the 1960s when I first heard of this rebellious nun, modern artist, and activist for social justice who combined bright colors, whimsical shapes, and political and/or literary messages in her artwork. And I still enjoy having her work in my house. Her work is relevant. Her messages are universal.   For example, she wrote two messages in the Life piece (upper right): “Life is a complicated business fraught with mystery and some sunshine.” P. Roth “Let the morning time drop all its petals on me. Life I love you. All is groovy.” Simon & … [Read more...]

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Journaling – one of the greatest investments of my life

Dawn Herring, creator of the #JournalChat Live Facebook Group, and my journaling mentor, has started off 2016 with a #JournalChat Live open house. She has asked us to share if journaling has been one of the greatest investments in our lives. Dawn says, “We keep journals to express ourselves, to create positive change, and become more personally empowered, right? So, we may see journaling as one of the Greatest Investments of our lives AND/OR, we may have experienced clarity and clear direction as a RESULT of our journaling practice that has led us to something that truly changed our lives for the better.” Her statement is indeed true for me. Here is why. My Journaling – My Greatest Investment By Madeline Sharples During lunch with a new friend last week, she asked me about my writing projects. I shared that I am writing a lot of poetry these days and that I’m also revising my novel – for about the 15th time. Then I told her I journal every day. That made her back straighten and … [Read more...]

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The power of the movie Spotlight 

I loved the movie Spotlight, about a group of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered and reported on the alleged abuse and rape performed by Catholic priests and its ensuing cover-up. The movie’s ensemble cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Live Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy, and Stanley Tucci, has been nominated for six Oscars and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, among others. The movie is so well-written, acted, directed. Really what more can I say? Well there is more. Spotlight was highlighted in the LA Times today because it was screened at a Vatican commission on clerical sex abuse. Here’s what LA Times correspondent, Tom Kington, wrote: “A Vatican commission on clerical sex abuse gathered Thursday for a private screening of “Spotlight,” the Oscar-nominated film about abuse by Boston priests, even as Pope Francis came under fire for failing to act on the crisis. “The extraordin … [Read more...]

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Equal pay for women is a must

I’m encouraged with the news that women in the movie industry are questioning why they are paid less that their male counterparts. Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay about it in October when it was revealed she made considerably less than her male counterparts in the film “American Hustle.” Now Cate Blanchett is praising Lawrence. Blanchett says: ''I applaud her for saying that because, forget the film industry for a second, it encourages women in other industries to say, 'You know what, I'm not receiving equal pay for equal work here.'” In 2005 I received a Women of Achievement (WOA) award from the aerospace company I worked for. The following year I was asked to speak at the WOA awards luncheon about the changing roles of women over the last few decades – I guess the committee knew I was old enough to have witnessed these changes personally. The speech focused on inequality in my workplace. Since I retired in 2010, I can’t speak for the situation now. I only hope that the youn … [Read more...]

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A progress report

In John Lennon’s song, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” he sings: “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_j-tpmdPlI My mother always said something similar: “Man plans, and God laughs.” Well, life was sure happening to me last week. I worked diligently on my book, as I said I would do in my previous blog post, for the first three days, and I actually made some great progress. Then boom! It all fell apart. My husband, Bob, woke up early last Thursday morning with shortness of breath. I took him to urgent care and he got an EKG. With those results the doctor there said take him to emergency at our local hospital. And we were off and running. Two and a half days later and tests to rule out a heart attack, pneumonia, blood clots in his lungs, and congestive heart failure, he was feeling better. So they sent him home. Less than 24 hours later, he was short of breath again – even worse. This time we called his own doctor (who ha … [Read more...]

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Happy New Year

I'll wait until 2016 to write about what's next for me and my writing life. This is the time to ring in the new year. Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for being here with me since November 2007.       … [Read more...]

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End of year movie binge

When I was a little girl my parents took me downtown Chicago to see movies that had a stage show as an opening act. I remember seeing Nat King Cole and Frankie Laine (not my favorite), but I found the movies the most exciting. Sometimes I’d go with my older brother, and I never minded that I had to watch his cowboy and war movie choices. As I got older I went with my friends and got to pick what I wanted to see – recommendations right out of the stacks of movie magazines I read from cover to cover. So I was a well-trained movie freak – and that hasn’t changed at all. In fact, movies became one of my biggest diversions after my son died in 1999 - something I wrote a lot about in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. I could sit in the theater and forget about all the pain in my heart. I always love to go at this time of the year – when the new movies come out to compete for all the up and coming awards: Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild, Academy Awards – you name … [Read more...]

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After a two-year hiatus, I’m returning to Esalen

I'm kicking off the holiday season by going back to Esalen in Big Sur California tomorrow to take a five-day poetry workshop with Joseph Millar. But I've made up my mind already. Just being back at Esalen after a two-plus-year break is all that matters. Of course I love being there to write. But what I really I love is just being there - period. I've worked with Joseph many times before, usually when he leads poetry workshops with Ellen Bass and his wife Dorianne Laux - a fantastic trio of poetry brilliance. He also helped edit a lot of the poems that appear in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. He has a wonderful gift for honing in on the good and what can be improved about the poems he hears and reads. Here's a little information about Joseph that I lifted from his website: Joseph Millar's first collection, Overtime, was a finalist for the 2001 Oregon Book Award. His second collection, Fortune, appeared in 2007, followed by a third, Blue Rust, in 2012. Millar grew up in Pen … [Read more...]

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What happened in November

Since returning from our three-week trip to Central America, Raleigh NC, and New York City on November 6, I’ve been intent on getting back into my daily writing routine. Here’s what I did in November to start moving in that direction. Please note that I didn’t spend this month just writing. I think reading and seeing movies, opera, and plays are all grist for the mill and great learning devices. In November I: Wrote a poem every day to fulfill Robert Lee Brewer’s November 2015 PAD challenge – wrote the last one today Wrote a journal entry every day to fulfill my personal writing challenge Wrote a piece for Naturally Savvy – I have a blog there called Savvy Over 60 Wrote a piece about how I got my book published for an Authors Publish anthology - not accepted yet Read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Marilyn by Gloria Steinem, Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, and Room (the second time) by Emma Donoghue Started to read: The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, … [Read more...]

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One more bucket list item ready to be checked off

When I started this blog way back in November 2007, it was all about checking off things on my bucket list. And in the years since, I've kept at it pretty well - except for the elusive hike down the Grand Canyon, which was the very first thing on my list at that time. That is until today. We finally got reservations at Phantom Ranch - the place at the bottom of the canyon where we'll stay the night in between the hike down and the next day's hike back up. There is no way we could do the hike down and up in the same day. Unfortunately it's not until next November - November 16 - coincidentally one day plus nine years since I wrote that blog post. Well, I'm just as excited as if I were going to go on that hike tomorrow. Just think - I have a year to train. And yes, okay. I'll be realistic. Anything can happen in a year. But having the reservation - not an easy thing to come by - makes it seem very real even now. … [Read more...]

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Body image problems? Read Destiny Allison’s memoir

I'm excited. I'm one of the chosen few to participate in a pre-launch blog tour to introduce my readers to Destiny Allison. Her memoir, The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage On Ourselves, is her fourth book and due for release in January 2016. This is my chance to publicize this memoir right at the beginning because I know Allison is gearing up for some big publicity, which will include virtual tours and exposure in some of the leading print magazines. You have a chance to get in right at the beginning! You can say, you read all about it on Choices first. Also, Allison has written a post especially for us, which she tied into an earlier post here about Margaret Atwood's brilliant novel, The Handmaid's Tale. Questioning the Behaviors We Deem Acceptable By Destiny Allison Thanks for having me on your blog today, Madeline. I enjoyed your post about The Handmaid’s Tale. It is one of my all time favorite books and first introduced me to the plight of women past and p … [Read more...]

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Photos from our October and November travels

My husband Bob and I just returned from a three-week vacation. We started out in Miami, then embarked on the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship that took us on an eleven-day excursion to: Cartagena, Columbia: We took a walking tour of the old beautiful city Panama Canal/Gatun Lake, Panama: We took a ferry through the five locks. It was a long scenic ride. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica: We rode an aerial tramway through and over the rainforest - breathtaking, walking through a butterfly preserve first. Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras: Roatan is beautiful, but our excursion was a bit disappointing. We supposedly were to ride in a glass-bottomed boat; however the glass was on the sides. Also it was hot and stuffy down there. Note how murky the water is. Belize City, Belize: A noisy airboat in Belize took us through the Crocodile Trail. The water is covered with blooming water lilies and mangrove forests. We didn't see any crocodiles or manat … [Read more...]

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A September 11 story – redux

September is always a sad month for me - the anniversary of our son's death on September 23 and the anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy on September 11. Today a visitor's center was opened at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, PA. It tells the story of the heroic passengers and crew members who tried to take control of the flight rather than let the hijackers fly it into the U.S. Capital.   Flight 93 came into focus in our California community shortly after the crash when my friend and jeweler was asked to repair and clean jewelry recovered from the crash site. Here is the story I wrote several years ago about that recovery work. Flight 93: The Jeweler’s Story In El Segundo, CA, known as one of the last lazy 50s style home towns in the country, 3,000 miles from the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, Brenda Newman completed the delicate, intricate and sad work of restoring and repairing the bits and pieces of jewe … [Read more...]

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My July was busy; how was yours?

July has been an interesting and busy month. Here’s a recap of my month of July, which has been jam packed with craziness and a multitude of events. For example: A forced break from my consulting job. We had expected the final request for proposal due from the Air Force during the first week in July. Instead we got notice that it would appear no later than July 31. That meant we had to stop work until the RFP really did arrive. As a result I got three weeks of very welcomed freedom from proposal work. However, the RFP arrived on June 28 telling us that the proposal is due on September 11. That means I’m back to work until we deliver – with my first assignment to cull twenty pages from the draft. I will also be responsible for getting the revised and shortened document ready for two more reviews and subsequent delivery. I’ve done it before and I’m confident I can do it again. I’ll let you know how it all turns out. A physical therapy adventure. As a result of a fall in late May tha … [Read more...]

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Denis Ledoux redux

I'm so happy to have Denis Ledoux return to Choices. His knowledge of all things memoir is priceless. His website The Memoir Network and his books are huge resources for you who are writing memoirs now or about to get ready to start one. I wish I knew Denis when I was writing mine. When Denis was last here, his subject was: Writing Painful Memories: Three Tips To Make It Easier. Today he discusses Writing Your Memoir: This Might Be A Challenge. Without further ado, here's Denis. Writing Your Memoir: This Might Be A Challenge by Denis Ledoux Your initial—and perhaps most fundamental—challenge as you settle into writing your memoir will probably not be scheduling, nor discipline, nor writing itself—although these challenges are not to be dismissed. It is likely to be something more fundamental: Your initial challenge is likely to be how you think about writing and about yourself as a writer! Without addressing this—and in a positive way, you are not likely to have an easy tim … [Read more...]

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Birthday plus three

I turned 75 on May 20. And it's taken me three days to fess up. But I shouldn't have any problem with it. I'm in great health, my body feels great and lets me workout everyday. I'm also able to work a full-time consulting job right now - my mind seems as sharp as ever. My secret is really no secret. I eat healthy, I workout, and I take my hormones and vitamins every day. That's about it. Oh, I forgot one more thing. My husband and I will be married 45 years next week. That longevity helps as well. I felt very blessed on this birthday. I got loads of greetings from family and friends and a few little celebrations. We celebrated my great niece's  second birthday last weekend, and I got to share in the festivities with my very own delicious chocolate gluten and dairy free cake. Here are some of the online gifts I received.   … [Read more...]

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Bragging time!

My son Ben Sharples is a long-time actor, writer, producer, and tennis player (he started playing tournament tennis at age seven). Ben has created a screenplay about an aging tennis star, which he plans to start filming next month. And he needs your help. He has set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise production funds. Please consider becoming a part of this movie by joining his campaign. There are some great opportunities depending on what level of contribution you choose to make. Here’s the link to his campaign. Please click on the video and listen to Ben tell you about this film called “Gentleman’s Fury” – a tennis movie written by and starring a real tennis star. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bensharples/gentlemens-fury-movie Really how can you blame a proud mom  from wanting to help out her son? Especially since the campaign has less than three days to go. Thanks so much. … [Read more...]

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Happy fifth anniversary, #JournalChat Live!

Congratulations to Dawn Herring on the fifth anniversary of her wonderful creation – #JournalChat Live. In celebration I’ve written my thoughts about journaling’s greatest benefit to me. I also share my favorite technique for writing my journal entries and offer a bit of journaling advice for those who want to start out. Dawn invited me to participate in a live #JournalChat on Twitter and Facebook in early April. (Click the link for a transcript of our journaling conversation.) I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Dawn’s love of all things journaling has been a huge inspiration to me. Here’s to Dawn Herring and an early happy anniversary wish to #JournalChat Live. Greatest Benefit I took up journaling seriously for the first time during my thirties while I lived with my husband and our two sons for nineteen months on a remote island in the South Pacific. I felt so isolated on this tiny island that the best I could do was write long rants every morning before the boys woke up. Happil … [Read more...]

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