Writers’ Block and Middle Age

I’m not altogether sure there is such a thing as writer’s block. In my limited experience, I have found that the only thing that blocks me from writing is the lack of motivation, inspiration, time, technology or sleep.  Oh, and the presence of procrastination.  While I was updating my website with some photos and information, I noticed what a lousy job I was doing with this blog.

There are no excuses for a writer not to write, except, of course, the reasons I listed above. There are many acceptable reasons for not publishing, not selling, not marketing and not finishing a manuscript, a poem or an article.  Writing for me must be treated like medicine for a terminal disease. If I don’t take the minimum dosage, the disease overtakes me… I get lazy. I lose my creativity. I forget some of the ideas I have (I’ve since learned to write them down).

My current dilemma has been this: I started my latest novel six months ago. Easily wrote the character descriptions, an outline and the first 5,000 words. Then, I stopped cold.  The reason I stopped was because I somehow became the subject matter. The story is total fiction; however, it is based on the concept of dealing with suicidal ideation. I became the main character and fell into her same trap. I had to stop writing.  In the last few months, I’ve developed several other stories that I’ve wanted to write, but I kept telling myself that I had to finish the other one first.

Guess what? There are no rules. And there are no excuses.  I started two other books. One in my customary genre, and one in a new venture (murder mystery), and by so doing, I was able to extract myself from the main character in the current book.  Now, I’m juggling three.

Keep your eyes open for:

Voices from the Ledge

Backfired

(A Book to be Names Later)

Happy Reading.

 

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On Transparency

Someone recently called me “transparent” in my writing. I thought about it and the question came to mind, if not here, then where? I obviously can’t show my true feelings in the workplace. Aren’t we taught to leave our problems at home? And it has been proven many times that dragging my work issues home only upsets the dynamics of my family. My husband, like most men, can’t just listen and let me vent. He has to solve the problem and fix things; one, because he’s a man, and two because he hates to see me unhappy.

When my dog is around, I can tell him anything. He doesn’t judge me or try to solve the world’s problems and then go back to his nap. He just naps right through them. I envy him.

A while back, my life took a turn, for a long time, where I had isolated myself, and there were not many friends to whom I could vent. As a result, I created a cocoon for myself and the end result is that I now have very few people in my life to talk to, openly and honestly.

So, I talk to myself. In my blog and in my shower; on a walk or while on the treadmill; while doing computer work or gardening; while mixing up a cake batter or watching a baseball game. There’s a pattern here. All of these things are done alone. And if you know me, you know that I’m lying about the treadmill.

I noticed just recently that I had more followers on this blog than I realized, so being so transparent is probably not such a good idea. Or maybe it is. Maybe I’m not so alone.

Invisible Rainbow

I  am a fading rainbow, whose colors you can’t see.

Searching for my pot of gold, or at least who I’m supposed to be.

Isn’t it funny how a rainbow appears when a storm is on the wane?

Colors paint the sky in peace, displacing thunder’s pain.

 

Lost in my own sadness, missing the life that I once knew,

The base of the rainbow sits down low, its cornerstone is blue.

The color of darkness and gloom, it was once a warm, loving place.

Now, in depression and woe, blue is something I embrace.

 

Out of the darkest of shadows, green becomes a visible hue.

Its passion is envy, lost in reality, but wanting to be more, true.

Envy is a strong emotion that no one can tangibly see.

It’s that torment, that angst that question, “Who am I supposed to be?”

 

So confusion turns to anger, and ugliness rears its head.

The color of the thoughtless deeds and spiteful words is red.

Rage overtakes good judgment, rushing rivers over rock and silt.

Crushing hearts and spirits, along the way, bleeding red, denying guilt.

 

I am looking for a haven, a spot to find solace, to think.

A fairytale place, where nothing hurts, the color of which is pink.

The numbness gives way, in time, to embarrassment and shame.

A blushing rose whose petals are wilting, pink is my name.

 

At the top of the colorful rainbow, stands the softest yellow tier.

Reaching upwards toward the sky, overwhelmed with consummate fear.

That what lies beyond the rainbow, with its reds and greens and blues,

Will leave only the trace of yellow, in an old and vanishing bruise.

 

 

I am a fading rainbow, whose colors you can’t see.

Searching for my pot of gold, or at least who I’m supposed to be.

Isn’t it funny how a rainbow appears when a storm is on the wane?

Colors paint the sky in peace, displacing thunder’s pain.

A Fond Farewell (reposted from 2-23-17)

I’m not very good with death.  In fact, I’m not good at all with it.  I can’t cope with the thought of my own mortality, and therefore am extremely tuned in to every little change in my body.  Some people call that hypochondria.  Others call it neurosis.  A friend of mine recently referred to it as Judyism… not to be confused with the religion, although I am Jewish.

I received the news this morning that a very dear friend of mine, and of my mother’s passed away.  Howie was 87, and some would say he lived a long and fruitful life.  So what?  It still hurts those whom he left behind.  I’m still devastated by the loss of a man who came to be thought of as my second father.  (By not only me, but by Howie himself, and by his daughter, who refers to me as her sister from another mister).

So, I hurt.  I grieve.  And that’s okay.  That’s how I feel, and I always tell people that feelings are the one thing that are entirely your own, and nobody has the right to tell you how to feel.

A long time ago, I came across the poem below on a greeting card, although I cannot recall the author, or even if there was one to whom it was attributed.  I share it often; not only when people have lost a friend through death, but when they are hurting because they have been wronged by someone who they thought was their friend.

Ships that Pass in the Night

There are those who pass like ships in the night,
Who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight.
With never a backwards glance of regret;
Folks we know briefly then quickly forget.

Then there are those friends who sail together,
Through quiet waters and stormy weather.
Helping each other through joy and through strife;
And they are the kind that give meaning to life.

Howie came into my life at an extremely critical time, and therefore, gave that “real meaning” to my life, of which the poem speaks.  It was shortly after my own father passed, I had only been working at a nursing home for a little over a year, and I was struggling with a very personal issue.  When he came to volunteer there, he pretty much fixed EVERYTHING, simply by being my friend.  I was lost, and he found me.

His compassion, his sense of humor and his lust for life somehow overshadowed it all.  His overwhelming and undying support of my endeavors, both personal and professional, helped me unfold into the person I was supposed to be.  He made me laugh when I needed to, and he listened, sometimes for hours, when I needed an ear.

He was, in essence, filling the role my father had played, without even knowing it. When I was little, my father would hold me up with me sitting on his shoulders at a parade, so I could see. Into my late fifties, it was Howie who held me up so I could see.

So today, I bid you a fond farewell, Howie.  May you bring to heaven as much joy as you created here on earth.  Rest in Peace.

My Advice Just For Now

I’ve seen a lot of How-To articles, and a lot of stories that were long discourses on how someone would do it, if they had a chance to live their life over again.  But I also read somewhere that you are supposed to “express and opinion, but send advice by freight.”  I would attribute the quote appropriately, but being one of those people who are old enough to suffer from senior moments, though not yet silver-haired, I can’t remember where I saw it.  So I write this, mainly to remind myself, but also to intimate that there may be some wisdom in my suggestions as well.

Having been on this earth long enough to have my own memory lapses, I decided to write down a few things that I have learned while I’ve been here.  Before I forget.

The first thing I’ve learned is to respect older folks.  Learn from them.  They have, as they say, been there, done that.  They carry around with them a wealth of intellectual lore, right there in their heads, and even if they can’t always remember what they had for lunch, they possess such valuable wisdom, earned simply by living life.  If nothing else, I’ve learned that there are really no big deals. I’ve been spending some time, lately, visiting the mother of a friend of mine who is living out her life in a nursing home. She’s 90, has all her faculties, and great insights. I learn and grow with each visit.

It was my grandmotherg however, who gave me two choice pieces to live by.  One was that it doesn’t pay to get upset about something that money can replace.  That was after I spilled tomato juice on her brand new lemon yellow carpet.  “It’s just a thing,” she’d say.  “If something bad happened to you, then I would be upset.”  The other thing I gained from her was that worrying is like wasting energy and emotion on something that hasn’t happened yet.  She told me to pick out one hour a week during which to worry.  Hers was Tuesdays, between three and four AM.

The second thing I’ve learned is to respect younger folks.  Learn from them.  You can gain so much by growing along with them, and looking at the world through their innocent and questioning eyes.  They help you to forget being jaded and pessimistic, and remind you that anything is possible.  While raising my kids, I tried very hard to respect their points of view when making decisions that affected them.  Often, they had valuable and practical input that was worth considering, and would change the outcome.

If they didn’t, I stuck to my original plan, but I showed them the same respect that I wanted them to show me.  In the end, both of my children grew up knowing that they have a voice.  And I grew up right along with them, understanding that I don’t know everything, and never will.  A one hundred year old friend of mine once told me that when we stop learning, we stop growing.  And when we stop growing, we cease living authentically. This woman  continued to take classes at the community college until she couldn’t travel anymore, at age 102.

I’ve never been a religious person, however I am spiritually connected.  I believe there are forces greater than my own will at work in the universe.  Over my lifetime, it’s been made abundantly clear to me that I talk a lot, first by two of my three brothers, who each gave me nicknames that depicted that quality: one called my Yak, and the other, Herkimer J Mouth.  My grandfather would often ask me if I ever stopped talking.  So in the spirit (pun intended) of a higher power, I’ve developed a prayer that I say probably too often, and that is, “God, keep one arm around my shoulder, and one hand over my mouth.”  As I always told my children, you can think whatever you want, but as soon as you say it out loud, you can’t take it back.  Ever.

Through my own life experiences, I’ve learned that we only get one shot at life.  I’ve taken some twists and turns, some of which I regret, but most of which I do not.  And I now know that I have much less time behind me than I have in front of me, so I’m  not wasting another minute on anger, on resentment or on fear.

What came out of all of this is that I found that you should never do anything to sacrifice the integrity of your own potential.  Treat yourself well, body, mind and soul.

That’s my advice for today.

 

It Was A Book. It Was Fiction.

IT WAS A BOOK.  IT WAS FICTION.

Or that was what I kept telling myself and everyone else.  I never intended to be transparent. It was supposed to be therapeutic,  cathartic almost. It was thinly veiled as fiction.

However, with all that has transpired in Hollywood, in Washington and around the corner, I guess I had to come clean too.

Humor Me, Again, in 2018

No, this is not going to be a funny entry.  It’s going to be a self-serving one.  As 2017 draws to a close, I am reflecting on my life and where I am today.  For all the times I’ve sit down to my computer to write with a chip on my shoulder or pain in my heart, and even after this most eventful, distressful year, this time I’m writing feeling blessed and grateful.  Sorry folks, because once again, it’s about my children.

I learned, the hard way, this year, that when it comes right down to it, my family is all that is really important to me anyway.  I’ve never masked my political beliefs and what has gone on this past year has eaten at me in my gut.  The very essence of the ideas our forefathers had for us have been challenged to the very core.  I got smacked with health issues (my own and those of some of my family members), we watched our largest investment be compromised by Hurricane Irma (albeit not as badly as some and certainly not as sorely felt by those in Puerto Rico).   My frustration level, anxiety and emotional distress were shown to be disproportionate in the end.  The only thing that mattered is that we were all alive and healthy at the end of this tumultuous year.

If I’ve written it once, I’ve probably written it a thousand times, as a parent, all I ever wanted for both of my children was for them to grow up to be happy, healthy and productive individuals, leading fulfilling lives.

A few years ago, my son launched his private practice in Mental Health Counseling.  Ever since he was in tenth grade, he had been fascinated by the way the human mind works, and his entire life he has possessed the gift of sensitivity to the human spirit.  He is well on his way, to say nothing of the fact that four years ago, he married the love of his life.  He is happy, productive and fulfilled.

In a few short weeks, my daughter will celebrate her first wedding anniversary.  She describes herself as being so lucky to have found this man.  What a refreshing thought.  She is adjusting to the role of Mom with a delightful and very bright four year old “step” daughter.  While there have been many big changes in her life, she has generally handled it all with aplomb.  She has a challenging job working with trauma patients.   I always marveled at how, throughout her life, she was able to see right past anyone’s differences or shortcomings, and make a beeline right to their heart.  She is so right for this career path.  That, too, is to say nothing of the fact that her spiritual life has fulfilled her in ways that nothing else can.  She stands on the eve of the new year poised for new challenges and adventures with health, happiness and contentment.

So I sit here and write.  There were no cute stories or vignettes.  There was no lashing out at my own discontent.  There is no malice, no resentment, and no pain.  I hope I didn’t disappoint.  None of the words rhymed, there was nothing lyrical; just sheer happiness.  I’ve gotten what I always wanted, like those ice skates on my eleventh birthday.