Monday, December 29, 2014

My Favorite Things...

As 2014 closes (thankfully!), I'm doing a little retrospective. I'm not going to list my favorite books or best places, because those things can change day to to day, but my favorite things overall.

(In no order of preference)

1- The rescuing of a person or animal. When someone risks his or her life to save a stranger, or an animal in distress, my heart melts and I really feel hope that the human race will ascend to a higher level.

2- Good news stories. These are uplifting both spiritually and emotionally, and I think we need more of these. If news stations had a segment on good things (no, not celeb news, please!) but about and by average people, I think it would make us all more thoughtful people.

3- Music. How can anyone say that music isn't the greatest gift to humanity? It inspires, soothes, excites, incites, and one tune can forever change a life. Everyone can appreciate it in one of its many forms.

4- Language. Birds can whistle a tune, whales can sing; animals have music. Only people have written/read words. Once a bird dies, it's song will never be heard, but books and the printed word can be read over and over for centuries. And everyone has the capacity to read and write.

5- Mother Earth. This planet is a universe of wonder in itself. There are mountains, oceans, deserts, rivers, plains, farmlands, lakes, and caves. There are abundant varieties of people, animals, and plants. Sunsets and sunrises mark our days. Storms and earthquakes and upheavals constantly change our world. And it really infuriates me when companies and individuals treat the Earth as their personal property or garbage dump.

6- Family. Whether they are related by blood or connection (or both), family keeps us grounded, picks us up, works our emotions--and keeps us tied to our humanity.

7- Faith. Whether we believe in one god, many, none, the power within ourselves, or something entirely different, faith keeps us going when we're ground into the dirt, drowning in despair. From within or without, faith is something that I have and it's important and personal to me.

8- Science. What is more amazing than seeing pictures of supernovas from the Hubble Space Telescope? Or learning that some dread disease has a cure? Science is our friend and we must embrace true science, because it will be our lifesaver.

9- Art. When I see Van Gogh's Starry Night, I'm breathless. It's not the most expensive painting, some may argue not the best, nor is it an exact depiction of a starry night. It's Van Gogh's impression and it stirs something in my soul. So does a Pulitzer prize winning photo of firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero. Life without art would leave an empty space within each of us and all the world.

10- An Unforgettable Act. One year for Christmas, my stepdad handed me an envelope. It was big enough to be a stock certificate (nope), a deed (if only), or an itinerary for a tropical vacation (hah, good one). It was a gift certificate, hand-drawn, from him to me--for 40 hours of labor. My husband and I had a lot of work that needed to be done on our first house. We both worked full time and went to school at night part-time. Weekends were spent doing laundry, food shopping, homework, mowing the lawn, etc. It would have taken us years to get everything done. But my stepdad zipped through our list. It was hard work: painting, repairing, cleaning, etc. It was the best gift I ever got because his time was more valuable than a store gift certificate.

And that's my list. What's your favorite things?


Monday, December 22, 2014

Alice... Lost in Space

Early this fall, Leap Books announced a call for YA short stories about Alice from Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland to celebrate the 150th anniversary of that children's classic. All stories had to feature Alice, with the White Rabbit as a protagonist in an anthology called BEWARE THE  LITTLE WHITE RABBIT.

I'm in!

My short story is called Alice Through the Wormhole and in it, a futuristic Alice speeds through the cosmos because the White Rabbit has taken something precious from her...

So imagine Alice like this- forget the pinafore, the patent leather shoes, and falling down the rabbit hole, this Alice is kickass and she'll chase that rabbit across the universe if she has to...

Stay tuned for more details!

(pictures courtesy of NASA Hubble and

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sending Some Your Way...

No, I'm not going to share my cold/cough/bronchitis (although I'd be just delighted if you took it). I'm sending you a moment of niceness. We need it desperately right now- in our world, our nation, our town, maybe even in our own families or ourselves. So, take a few moments to just BE; no worrying about edits, holiday errands, work, troubles, etc. Whether you celebrate the holidays or not,  inhale deeply, think of something joyful, and let go of stress.

It won't last long because of busyness of our lives, but it only takes a moment to appreciate all the good things.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Going Into Survival Mode....

This is what Thanksgiving looked like:

The food began with the antipasto:

(Obviously my husband is Italian, so we started with this traditional dish before we moved to the pasta, then the turkey, then dessert.) When we were finished (six and a half hours later) this is what I felt like:

Now the Christmas/Channukah/New Year's season has begun. I love the holidays, but yes, they can be a bit frantic. There is so much I want to do: see concerts, decorate, get together with friends, visit family, revise that NaNoWriMo novel, do well at books signings, etc. Sometimes it can make a person anxious, depressed, angry, sad, exhausted, disappointed, and/or afraid. For those of us with loved ones-family or friends-who suffer from a chronic condition, whether it's a physical or mental illness, it's important to keep a handle on things that are stressors. The National Alliance on Mental Illness put together these guidelines which they share every holiday season and I want to pass along to everyone:

1)      Talk with one another about your expectations of the holiday season. In particular ask your loved one what they envision as the best scenario and then discuss your own… make concessions on both sides and have a plan for dealing with problems.
2)      Anticipate problem areas such as situations that your relative (and you) cannot handle well.
3)      Make some strategic plans for handling these potential hot spots.
4)      Remember, visitors can always rent a hotel room. Neither you nor they have to stay with extended family. Limit time exposed to relatives or friends that hurt more than help.
5)      Develop a secret code that means “get me out of here!”
6)      Don’t let adult children fall back into the “child” role when visiting.
7)      Don’t over-schedule yourselves.
8)      Work on creating good memories.
9)      Start new family traditions. Do what is most comfortable.
10)   Remember to focus on your relationships and not on getting things done.
11)   Make time to have fun or attain peace and quiet.
12)   If there’s something you really don’t want to do during the holidays, say so.
13)   Be gentle with yourself. The ideal holiday doesn’t exist.
14)   Don’t compare yourself with others, or judge yourself or others.
15)   Find a place where you can be completely alone each day even if it is just for a little while and retreat.
16)   Prioritize what is important – Eliminate what is not.
17)   Learn the difference between complaining that relieves tension and complaining that causes it.
18)   At the end of each day focus on what is good.
19)   As you fall asleep make a realistic mental list of what is crucial to be accomplished next day. You really should blank on this one because nothing beats taking care of yourself and your loved one and avoiding stress is important.
20)   Learn to say NO, thank you.
21)   Holiday cards … not really necessary … or just write them out as you get them from others if it bothers you.
22)   Gifts … does anyone really need another kitchen gadget? Give the gift of time or food. Discuss in advance that you won’t be exchanging gifts, very understandable in this current economic environment.
23)   Decorations … keep it simple. Don’t make work for yourself unless it is a source of relaxation and pleasure.
24)   Visitors, company … Holidays are too intense. See them after holidays. Set aside a time. Large crowds can be disturbing and bring about different opinions and expectations. Our ill relatives don’t understand that when company is there your attention has to be focused on them.
25)   Go out and do something different … go to a movie, walk in a park, ride the ferry. You do not need to do anything.
26)   Make plans that exclude your ill relative – if it is ok with them then it should be ok with you. Guilt should not be part of the decision.
Some helpful websites:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness

PsychCentral holiday survival guide:

Psychology Today holiday tips:

There is nothing to 'celebrate' if we're miserable, so I wish you all a comfortable, peaceful, holiday.


Artwork courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art
Holiday list courtesy of NAMI of Somerset County