Waiting: For The Spark to Return


One photo of beautiful Croatia… because jet lag is a perk.

This morning I found myself awake at 3am. Jet lag. It sucks, if not for the obvious perk that you’ve been somewhere far enough away, that it messes with your sleep, when you return. I had the enormous perk of having spent a week cycling in Croatia (a place I fell madly in love with, and will try to write about… later. You’ll have to wait), and 4 1/2 days exploring Rome (a place… well, it’s Rome! It’s an epic place on every level. I can’t wait to write about that too). So, jet lag… a first world problem, for sure. But there I was lying on my sofa, trying not to wake up my husband, Smart Guy, who has to manage his own jet lag and work, and I found myself circling the “writer’s block” drain again. Every day (EVERY. DAY.) I think of blog posts I want to write. I write them in my head. I type out witty/ thoughtful/ boring/ funny/ inane/ meaningful/ you-name-it blog posts, in the gray room, where nothing ever actually gets published. I kick myself for not querying agents and publishers. I promise myself that I’m going to edit my novel, or my memoir and do something. I lambast myself for not submitting pieces to publications, entering contests, or sending anything to Huffington Post, who–– while they don’t pay me, have been very generous and supportive of my writing. I love my editor at HP, no matter what other writers say about the”sell out” of giving my words away for free. She has been nothing but gracious, helpful and supportive in every piece I’ve had published with Huffington. But, I’m not sending anything there either. No, I’m up with jet lag, wondering why I am so stuck. Waiting for a spark.

This week, I will attend my 35th high school reunion. Note to self: it’s not wise to spend nearly a week in Rome, right before a reunion, if you want to not look like you’ve gained the (now) 30 pounds you’ve gained, since high school. Admittedly, I was too thin in high school, and remained that way with a strict balance of not eating enough, puking, sometimes, exercising too much, and then not eating… enough. Cliché, right? (and I am not making light of any of it… it was a very self-destructive time). If you’ve read this blog long enough (and who is reading it anymore… because I’m not writing…) you know that I was a messed up bundle of issues, until about… well, still working on that too. But, BUT, five years ago, when I attended our last reunion, I had just started this blog. In fact, as I recently shared (in one of the few blog posts I’ve written lately, that you probably didn’t read… because you figured I’m still not writing) and which you can read here (if you are now wondering how you missed that), my blog just celebrated its fifth birthday!

Back then, very few people were reading this blog. Let me rephrase that: maybe two people were reading this blog. One of them was Smart Guy, because I asked him to. I would write a post, and there would be no “hits,” no comments, nothing. Nada. No one. I would hit publish, and wait. But nothing happened. Those posts got read later, when people were finally reading my blog, and wanted to go back and see where the magic began… (she says with mock self-aggrandizement). If you’re so inclined, you can read that first post, here. You will see 2 Likes… which, again, came later. Not long after starting the blog, trying to kick start a new chapter of my life, as my kids all grew up and were quickly leaving… I ran away from home, and was spending nearly two weeks alone in Yellowstone–– because I’d always wanted to go there; because I could drive there; because I had to drop my son, Little Man, off at camp there, and because I figured that no one could actually find me, as I had my own Dances With Wolves adventure. (That is in reference to my getting up at 4am many mornings, to go watch the wolf pups howl).


Yellowstone Google Image, visual break in page

You may note that I’m rambling a bit here. It’s the jet lag. And it’s probably the fact that I haven’t been writing lately… so structure is hard to wrangle. In fact, I’m starting new paragraphs just to give you a break (if there’s anyone reading this), as you wait for me to get to the point. Anyway, I was in Yellowstone, writing blog posts, and a few people started reading them. I didn’t know how to add photos, I wasn’t entirely sure how to do many things, but a few people emailed me their thoughts (they didn’t hit Like, or leave comments), and that feedback grabbed me by my “what the fuck am I doing with my life” collar and shook me out of it. Admittedly, I liked those posts. I felt like being there on my own, in the wild (literally and figuratively), I was finding myself again. I needed it desperately. (If you’re now thinking: wow! That’s really cool, wish I’d read those, you can do that, here (planning), here (getting started), here (grizzly bears and freedom), here (Eddy Vedder, more bears, adding photos, and still no Likes), here (wherein I learn that fly fishing is sexy), here (bikers, they’re not all scary), here (this might be a mid-life crisis), here (finding some clarity, which should be read before the last here), here (where I go to a rodeo and eat his balls––it’s getting good, right?), here  (where I meet a stranger, and spend much of the night with him… really good!), here (the morning after, when I take him for a ride), here (a ride with a sexy cowboy… because, apparently, when I run away, I meet a lot of men), here  and here (not really the end of the adventure, but I pick up my boy, because–– warning: don’t read if you don’t want to know the ending– I don’t leave my family). If you weren’t thinking: wow! That’s really cool, wish I’d read those, then I’ve just wasted your time, with a lot of links, you won’t read.

So, another paragraph break, more rambling, more waiting… for the spark, for me to get to the point, for you to read those old posts. But, in my (jet-lagged, because we wouldn’t be here without jet-lag) defense: those posts are good. I really like them. And, they got zero-2 Likes. So, if you pick one link, and read an old post, it might help me jump-start my sorry-ass-nonwriting-self again, because (if you’re still with me here), I was just saying: those few initial likes, those comments, the fact that anyone was reading my work, is what got me going. Those two weeks in an incredibly beautiful, mostly silent place, shook life into me. It jump started me, when I really needed the jump. And… (you may note, I love an ellipsis, and parenthesis)… it was leading up to my 30th high school reunion (with my 35th now looming days away). The night before the reunion, one of my posts got Freshly Pressed–– in case you’re new here, that’s what Word Press used to do when they featured your work (it’s now called Discover), and tons and tons (and I mean sometimes more than a thousand)people read your post, and you got a cool badge to put on your blog (I still proudly have mine displayed, along with one Discover… ok, now, I’m bragging). For this (then) new blogger, I had no idea what Fresh Pressed was. I had just figured out how to add photos! In fact, I didn’t know I was FP’ed until I got to the pre-reunion get together, and someone else told me. I was sincerely flabbergasted when my email notifications started exploding. If you want to read that one, it’s here, but I recommend reading the comments; that’s where the real magic is. And, I’m rambling again. Suffice it to say, that suddenly I had some readers. Some of them were my high school classmates. Go figure!

I’ll point out here, that I was not excited, initially, about my 30th reunion. I was dreading it. In fact, while I was in Yellowstone, I was definitely planning not to go. But, one unexpected person reached out, and then I found all kinds of reasons (via Facebook, which you can read about here) that maybe it wouldn’t suck wicked hard… and it didn’t. I’m actually looking forward to this reunion, because a lot’s changed in these five years. While I was feeling alienated and different, from the people I grew up with (sounds like high school, right?), it turns out that a lot of us were feeling the same way. When we reconnected, it filled a gap that was nice to have filled. And, that reunion weekend my writing took off. That was the start of it. I read other bloggers, I connected with lots of them, they read me in return. Then others started reading my work. I got Freshly Pressed a couple more times (remember, that feature thing I explained above, and more bragging), and then I had Arianna Huffington ask to publish one of my pieces (for real, I still have the email… that she wrote, herself), BlogHer named me a 2015 Voices of the Year (and shortly thereafter, I stopped writing), and LeBron James started following me on Twitter, even though I’m lame on Twitter (yes, that’s for real too. But, in an effort to be fully transparent, he unfollowed me recently… I don’t know why he did, but I’m sad. Even if I don’t watch much basketball; I like LeBron; I liked that he was following me). Some of those Huffington Post pieces went viral, most of them didn’t, but they asked me to write some more. Ariana Huffington apparently knows what she’s doing, because that first one was big (there’s no magic in those comments, but there’s a lot of anti-Semitic nastiness).

In that brag-ladened ramble, (probably brought on by my need for reminders that I was in fact writing, for a while…) I totally got away from the fact that I was lying on this sofa wondering how I stopped writing, when for nearly five years I wrote all the time. It was fairly effortless. I was lying here, trying to get back to sleep, while my brain was on fire… waiting for inspiration, waiting to put fingers to keys, waiting to find my mojo again… waiting. I opened my emails, and there was the Word Press Daily Post prompt: Wait. In the ever critical gray room: “What are you waiting for?”  So, I’ve rambled. I’m waiting for the spark. I dug up a lot of old links (which, let me tell you: takes a shit lot of energy, hubris and/or moxie… and gives you lots to read), which reminded me that I can write… and, I’m hoping to find my writer self again. I’ve got jet lag. It’s now 5am. But, I’m writing.


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What Can I Say About Black Lives Matter?

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY–– This photo is stunning!

Note: This post has taken me nearly two months to write. It has been percolating in my head, in my dreams, in my thoughts, since the events that prompted it. I didn’t want to write it, until I felt ready, and I didn’t want to leave anything out. This is a long piece, but it needed to be. None of this can be said briefly. Also, I have not used certain names, to protect the privacy of those involved.


What is there to say about Black lives, that hasn’t already been said–– by people living Black Lives, and by people far more informed than many of us? As a white woman, who can’t deny the white privilege I have always had, what can I add to this sticky, traumatic, deeply upsetting topic? What do I have to offer, and how do I make a difference, without complicating things further? These questions have troubled me for weeks now–– since a very unexpected meeting in a Walmart parking lot, the day after the murder of four Dallas police officers, by a black man… one day after the killing of Philando Castile by a white police officer, and two days after the killing of Alton Sterling by two white police officers. The complexities have kept me from even trying to address that meeting, beyond a Facebook post and Tweet, which stirred responses from many unexpected sides.

July 5th, the night that Alton Sterling was shot, I was up late, because… well, I just don’t sleep enough. My daughter was getting married in a couple of weeks, and my head was constantly spinning. I found myself up, with the TV tuned to CNN. As I sat writing lists and half listening to the news, they aired another numbing video of a black man being shot and killed. During the Iraq War, President George W. Bush placed a ban on showing the caskets of US servicemen, killed in action, in news photos or broadcasts. This was a highly disputed move. Yet, in recent years, it is increasingly common to see black men and women being shot and killed, as our nation weighs in, like so many armchair quarterbacks­­–– swayed by details that are rarely unbiased. I can’t speak for others, but I hope I never find viewing the killing of another human being as normal or anything less than horrifying. To see a young man shot in the back, as he runs away; to see a man bleeding to death, while his girlfriend films him and a child cries in the back ground; to see a man wrestled to the ground with a Taser and shot in the chest at point blank range… these are things that we should never see as normal. On July 5th I felt shaken and outraged, watching the replay of Mr. Sterling’s death.

Barely twenty-four hours later, July 6th, the story of Alton Sterling’s death had already begun to be debated by all sides. The hashtag #AltonSterling was trending, as far too many names have done before him. I was up late again, and switched over to the news, just as another “breaking story” interrupted. The story cut to Diamond Reynolds filming with her cell phone, what would be the death of her fiancé, Philando Castile. In the video, which she made because she feared that his shooting would be glossed over, she clearly believed he was hurt badly, but didn’t seem to realize he was dying. She stated repeatedly, that the officer had “shot his arm off.” Mr. Castile is seen bloodied and moaning, beside her in the car. Given the amount of blood, I found myself incredulous that someone wasn’t applying pressure, and getting Castile some urgent medical attention. Instead, a police officer is seen pointing a gun at them and yelling. Clearly very upset, he repeatedly asks why Castile reached for something, and Ms. Reynolds calmly but firmly recounts that Castile was shot while reaching for his ID–– which the officer had requested.

The video was so stunning, I called my nineteen year-old son to the den, and we watched in shock and horror, as Philando Castile died. It was a whole new level of first-hand account, and it shook me to the core. I felt a terrible pit in my stomach, realizing we had just watched another man die, and I began to cry from the impact of these two incidents. My son and I talked about the shocking frequency of such events, and I could not sleep. How do you turn off the TV and pretend the world is not imploding?

But the horror continued. On July 7th a lone sniper targeted and killed 5 Dallas police officers and injured 9 others. The shooting took place after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, in Dallas. The police officers were there to protect and oversee the protest march, which all agree had gone off smoothly and without incident. The shooting of these five police officers, a clear and undisputed ambush and murder, added shock upon shock, following the previous two nights. Like so many, I watched the news shaken and stunned that these killings were escalating, and when I got up, on the morning of July 8th, and had to go to our local Walmart, I felt numb and hopeless. I had things to get done for my daughter’s wedding, but I felt sad and withdrawn; going to Walmart was the last thing I wanted to do.

As I walked around the store, looking for the few things I needed, I couldn’t help but feel a similar sense of disconnectedness and loss, that I felt the morning of 9/11. While the death count and scene was different, the cumulative impact of three days of violence and senseless deaths, felt huge. I looked at other shoppers, wondering if we all felt the same way. As I was getting into my car to leave, I saw a black woman, about my age, getting out of her car, one aisle away. In that moment it was hard not to notice that she was the only person of color in a parking lot full of people. I imagined how alienating that must feel, on a sunny day that felt over-shadowed by recent events. Impulsively I walked toward her. Later, it hit me that this could have gone many ways. I would not have blamed her for feeling threatened: to see a stranger coming toward her. As I approached, it hit me that I really had no idea what to do or say.

“Excuse me, Mam,” I started, as she looked at me expectantly. “I don’t know what to say…” I fumbled and realized again, how intrusive I must seem.“I don’t know what to say or do, but I feel sick… about everything that’s happened…” I faltered, unsure of what I wanted to say, as she watched me I fell silent.

Before I could say anything else, the woman reached out, and pulled me toward her, into a full body hug. We embraced for minutes, and then we both began crying. I noticed other people pausing to check out what was happening; I noticed that time seemed to stop, and I felt so grateful that this stranger and I could share such a real and meaningful moment, despite these things. When we’d wiped our eyes and stepped back, we introduced ourselves, and “Mae” shared that she is a Reiki healer and massage therapist. I told her that I am a writer. “What do you write about,” she asked. “Whatever’s on my mind: aging, motherhood, this right here.”

Mae watched me for a moment, and then said: “You should write about this. We should both tell everyone about this connection. There needs to be a lot more of this.” She patted my arm reassuringly.

“But I feel like it was really presumptive of me to just assume that you would want a stranger approaching you; it hit me as I approached you. I’m sorry about that part.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Mae told me. “When I saw you coming toward me, I just knew it was love walking my way. I wasn’t worried at all.”

These words, these simple words from a stranger, stopped me stone cold. Such loving words, such reassurance, on a day when it was so easy to feel completely isolated and hopeless; Mae’s word were a gift.

“But my daughter feels completely differently. She told me this morning, ‘Mom, if one white person walks up to me today, to ask me how I feel, I think I’ll just smack them!’”

“Well, then I’m glad I walked up to you, Mae, and not your daughter!”

We both laughed and hugged each other again.

We fell into an easy conversation, talking about our lives: she moved her children from Chicago to a small town in Wyoming, to give them opportunities they would not have had in Chicago, where she grew up. “Trust me, there were not very many Black people there! But over time, people got to know us, and we had a good life there.” As I listened, thoughts raced through my head. It was sobering to imagine having to move to a remote place, to keep your children safe, and guarantee their education.

She also shared with me that even though her son is a grown man, she worries every time he has to drive long distances for work. This is not something I worry about for my son–– aside from the risk of an accident.

“I’m sorry, Mae; I can’t imagine worrying about my boys that way.”

She nodded solemnly. “It’s a hard thing to live with, but that’s the way it is for mothers.” She didn’t need to say, black mothers.

“Last night my husband, son and I were talking about the idea that it’s probably always been this way for Blacks in America, but we have all been shielded from it,” I continued. “Now that everyone has a cell phone, things are out there for everyone to see. Do you think things are worse, or just more visible.”

“Absolutely! It’s been this way for a long time, but no one heard about it. I know my parents worried too, but now it’s all over the Internet before the ambulance arrives.”

We both stood there absorbing the day. It was a beautiful, blue-sky morning. We stood there absorbing the impact of our meeting, on this hard, painful day. Then we shared one more hug; thanked each other again, for having shared the time together, and we said goodbye. As she started to walk away, Mae turned around and said: “Be sure to tell people about this; write about it. We need to change things, and this is how we start.” I smiled and waved goodbye.


This was the FB posting. The Tweet was this photo, of the FB post.

At home, I felt sheepish about how to explain what had happened, how to “share it.” Just as I’d had second thoughts about just walking up to stranger, I suddenly worried about sharing our meeting. How to share it? What to say? How would it be perceived by others? The answers would come to me over minutes, hours, days and weeks. I posted a brief message on FB first and got lovely comments, almost immediately. These folks are my friends; I wouldn’t expect harsh words or criticism. I tweeted it; something that sends the story out to a larger audience, not just friends. But the response on Twitter was surprisingly positive too. Most of the people who Re-Tweeted my message, hit like, or commented, were Black. Their words were encouraging and appreciative. I felt grateful for that, but undeserving. This was something two people had shared; I wasn’t sure how to share the story in a fair way.


On the same day I posted my status, this went viral on FB. Several people sent it to me.

I received a few private messages, from strangers, who thanked me, and then I received a strongly critical response from a friend, via messenger. She started by saying that she knew I had a good heart, but very quickly added that she thought this action and my posting it, was “self-serving” and inappropriate. She told me that I should never have presumed that it was ok to just walk up and hug a stranger (though my posting clearly states that the woman had hugged me). She noted the many levels of White Privilege it demonstrated, and the many ways I might have insulted the woman, and Blacks in general. She stated again that she knew my intentions were good, we have known each other for some time now, but her criticisms made it hard for me to not feel patronized to. I respect her opinion, and so I read her words carefully, more than once. I know this is a very important topic for her, and she wrote her message thoughtfully and wanting to be honest. I value that. However, it’s harder to feel criticized by someone who does matter to you, than someone who doesn’t. Admittedly, her’s was a hard message to read, made worse by her mention of having shared her angry feelings about it, to her writing group–– a group of women who I know well, a group I’d been a member of for many years. Why hadn’t she just told me? Her words left me stung, even as I appreciated the intention.

I felt misjudged and defensive. I wondered if maybe I’d read Mae’s words and actions wrong, and if my friend was right. I began to second guess all of it, and wondered if Mae had just been kind to me because she felt stuck. And yet, even as my brain turned on me, in my heart I knew that what we had shared was authentic and connecting. I felt so touched by our meeting, and questioning it under this microscope felt wrong. We were supposed to meet to discuss these things, but my friend got busy and couldn’t make it. She hasn’t brought it up again. I kept getting both private Twitter messages and public ones, all supportive of my actions, but this one message from a friend followed me for a week, as I continued to examine events and my feelings about it all. I found myself increasingly disappointed by the judgement of me, and the lack of closure. I felt misunderstood and chastised. I felt angry and hurt. And then, I let it go. I know who I am; I know what I did and why.

During the week of the wedding, family members shared with me that an in law of a sibling, had found me and my posting “ridiculous.” He had brought it up many times to my family members, I was told, feeling that my behavior was crazy, and possibly not even true. He mocked me, and my intentions, to people I love. While I was surprised by this, this didn’t hurt me as much as the words from a friend, because this other person isn’t someone whose opinions means very much to me. Yet, still, the idea that my family members had participated in a discussion about my actions and intentions, wiggled in my gut. No one wants to feel judged, but behind my back feels rougher. I found myself wondering: why is it so strange to people to seek connection with others? Why would my actions be seen in such a negative light by two white people, but not by the black people who took the time to respond? Was I missing something?

Time has passed, as it does. My daughter had her wedding; it was beautiful. The summer passed: hot and filled with family and friends and wonderful moments. More police officers were killed, in the weeks that followed those horrible three days. More Black citizens were killed. The opinions of friends, strangers, and in-laws of in-laws have faded with the summer heat. But the morning I met Mae has stayed with me. Her words: “I knew that it was love walking my way,” touches me and reassures me that reaching out and connecting was the right move that day. That caring and trying to speak out about what is so inherently wrong, was right.

Maybe I don’t have anything deep and meaningful to add to the discussion or movement of Black Lives Matter, but I believe that we all need to do something. We all need to take even the smallest steps forward and work for change. We can not just watch the news at night, shake our heads at the latest black person killed, and go to sleep. If we don’t each make an effort to change this, if we don’t care about Black Lives, the dark, sticky mess we’re in will destroy us all.

Other articles/info about this topic, that has impacted me:

11 Times Police Successfully Disarmed People, Without Killing Anyone (This one is particularly shocking to me); The Counted (a stunning daily tally); Don Lemon and Sheriff Clark; The State of Race in America; Why It’s So Hard To Talk To White People About Race; 11 Major Misconceptions About The Black Lives Matter Movement; Original video of Philando Castile’s death; When The Media Treats White Suspects and Killers Better Than Black Victims; 10 Ways White People Can Help Make Black Lives Matter

*     *     *

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While I Was Away… Writer’s Block


At the end of June this year, my blog turned 5 years old. It happened with little fan fair, and honestly, if Word Press hadn’t sent me a cheerful notification, I might have missed it all together. I didn’t write a post about it, just like I didn’t write a post about so many other things in the past many months. If you’re one of the wonderful people who follow my blog, you may have presumed I’m not blogging anymore… that my blog is dead. It feels that way to me, many days lately! When I first started blogging, and this blog was a newbie, it was very different. I blogged all of the time! I had a goal of three posts per week, and I rarely missed a post. Lately, my goals are blurred, and I post so seldom, that when I do, a lot of people who once read my work, don’t even notice I’ve done anything.

I can’t blame readers for drifting away. The Internet is an infinitely exciting place, but an equally fickle space as well. If you’re going to draw and keep readers, you have to keep putting material out there. If you can’t find the words to say something, someone else will find and use those words, in your place. You must keep the proverbial balls in the air, or folks move on to the hula hoop artist, or the singer, or the countless other talented acts that vie for attention! Let me say this clearly: if writing things in my head counted for anything, or if the 39 drafts in my draft folder were ready, I’d have a year’s worth of work, and I wouldn’t feel like I’ve lost my mojo, entirely. If thoughts and ideas wrote themselves, I wouldn’t be stuck. But blog posts don’t write themselves, and I am stuck. Stuck like lint on velvet.

It’s not just the writing; it’s everything I love most about the blogosphere, that has me stuck right now. There are bloggers who I have followed for a long time–– people I’ve come to know, and care about, through both their writing and the personal connections we’ve forged. I have felt good about the fact that even when my own writing is going slowly, I’ve kept up with theirs. I’ve read other blog posts; I’ve commented, and stayed connected, even when my own writing limped. Lately, even that has suffered. My inbox, for blogs I follow, is at just over 1,000 right now. Those posts are sitting there, waiting for me to go through, and read what I can, delete what I can’t, and clean up the glut. The problem being: I don’t see any of it as glut; I love these writers, and what they write. I don’t just hit Like and move on. I read these posts! I feel a real commitment to honoring the words they’ve put down. And yet, there are the 1,000+ notifications, blinking each time I open my mail. I’ve never been this far behind!

That very full inbox is a daily reminder that I’m not on my game. It’s a constant nudge, telling me that I need to do something… I need to move forward. Trust me: I don’t need nudges or reminders; I’m perpetually aware of my stuckness. I think about it pretty much every day, several times a day. It sings me to sleep and greets me at the coffee machine. It does not respond to “Go the fuck away!”

I’m not even sure how I got here–– to this awkward state of perpetual procrastination and indecision. It snuck up on me as most sticky things do: little by little, until the problem seems too big to tackle. There are valid excuses to fill a page: First and foremost, my daughter moved to Israel (after four years of going back and forth), fell in love, got pregnant and had my gorgeous grandson. She got married. These are big things for a mother to watch from afar. I have spent more than 25% of the past year traveling back and forth between the Pacific Northwest, where I live, and Israel, where these three people I love live. Admittedly, at my age, all that travel, all that childcare and helping out, all those adjustments, have taken a toll. I’m really tired. All the time.

On top of that big preoccupation, my life has been in major transition. In the past year I’ve had my two nephews, my sister, and my two youngest children, all move back or into my home–– sometimes all at the same time, for varying lengths of time, up to a year. I’ve been busy putting out fires and trying to find some balance, amidst the chaos. I’ve been grieving some hard things, and figuring out how to keep my head up. I’ve been busy working at Hospice, a place that I adore and feel very connected to. I’m good at it, and I love the connections I make, but it isn’t always easy work to do. I’ve been busy adjusting, as all of those people just as suddenly left my house, and I found myself with the proverbial Empty Nest… for three blurred weeks. It was good, really good. While I had worried that I would feel unanchored, or lost, I liked the solitude and freedom. That realization is the current light at the end of my full house tunnel… as my newly 1-year old grandson, my daughter and my college age son, have been with me most of the summer, following a wedding. This will pass, and I now know that while I will miss them when they leave, I can look forward to slower days, quieter nights, and less on my plate.

And yet, as a woman who has spent 26+ years raising children, helping people I love, and being incredibly preoccupied, it is equal parts thrilling and daunting to know that in two days, my life will be my own… for the first time in nearly thirty years. I will not be able to blame distraction and procrastination on others. In this past year, I’ve taken a good, hard look at boundaries, limit setting, and letting go–– three things I was never terribly good at, and realized that I like them. I won’t go so far as to say they’re easy for me, but I’m in a new space with these things, and I know this new period in my life will look very different from where I’ve been.

Finally, writing has gotten in my way. In 2015 I was named a BlogHer Voices of the Year. I’ve also written a lot for Huffington Post over the past year, and was named on their Top Ten Bloggers to Watch list. Both are wonderful things, but the second has really played into my writer’s block; because, while it’s been very rewarding in my ways, it’s also taken me away from my own blog and the connections I worked so hard to build. People tend to make a lot of assumptions about writing for HuffPo. Sure, it feels good to have my work read by a wider audience; I can’t deny that part. Admittedly, there have been moments when it’s gone to my own head. There were a few posts that did very well (thousands of readers-well), and it’s really hard not to think that you can just do that over and over. It’s hard not to get caught up in trying to one-up yourself, when my writing was never about that.

With the rewards there have also been tough lessons. People who read my blog, read it because they like my writing and support me. It’s a wonderful thing to put things out there, in a way that resonates deeply within myself, and feel supported by others. There’s a relationship there that means a lot to me. When you write for a source as big as HuffPo, however, there are plenty of people who are just waiting to tear you down or find fault. There have been some incredibly wonderful responses (if you check out my piece on Hospice, for example, you can skip my writing and simply read the comments; there are stories in those comments that renew my faith in humanity and connectedness), but there have been some truly heinous ones as well. If you read my piece on a massacre in Israel, my first piece for HuffPo, you may find some of those comments as horrifying as I did. Anti-Semitism doesn’t begin to cover some of the truly hateful things that were thrown my way, and one person sent me a private message telling me that they wished my daughter would be killed, so I would understand how Palestinian mothers feel. Let me say here: that I don’t believe the piece I wrote warrants anything near that level of vitriol.

So, in the process of seeing my work reach by a much wider audience, I also lost my sense of connectedness, to the readership that I had worked so hard to cultivate over the previous four years. In trying to find good writing to submit to HuffPo, I didn’t spent the same energy feeding my own blog, and the me that thrives in that sacred space. Posts have become further and further spread out. My energy is zapped, from keeping up with a personal life that has had some truly hard challenges over the past couple of years, and trying to write in a meaningful way, when the bar has changed.

My blog turned five years old several weeks ago, and I didn’t give it its due. I didn’t honor that accomplishment and pause to acknowledge that I’ve worked hard to get here. I didn’t pause to celebrate the relationships that have been forged from this place where I write, and connect. I’ve made connections that have meaning in my life, and in feeling stuck, I’ve allowed those to drift. I’ve missed writing for the love of writing. I’ve missed the people that have supported my writing, and the relationships we’ve shared. I’ve been stuck, but I need to change that. I need to put my writing front and center again, and commit to it. I need to write. And so, I will… I hope I will find the magic and rhythm again, and I hope some of you will jump back on board!


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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals! KAPOW! I’m going big on Facebook, 2016: I’d like to hit 1,200 Likes!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, as soon as they’re published, with no spam.

©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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Oh Captain My Captain… There But For the Grace.

It is the 2nd anniversary of Robin Williams’ death, and I still miss him. I know, he wasn’t a personal friend; I didn’t know him in “real life,” but I loved him. He was out there making magic, for most of my adult life… and several years before that. I miss him. I am sharing this post again, while I struggle to write new ones, to remember all of the things I loved most about him.

This post also marks my own coming out. I had not shared my own struggle with suicide and depression, until I posted this piece. Much has changed in the past several years. I am well. I am strong. But Robin Williams is a reminder that many of us stumble. We feel alone; we feel sad and hopeless; we don’t know what to do. Robin Williams is a reminder that endings like his leave only pain and lost opportunities. I am here, as a reminder that things do change. We do find strength, and joy, and reasons to live. If you are struggling, please reach out.


*As you start this post, know that there are some great links here. I spent a lot of time digging them up– there are so many, it’s hard to choose!  Play them. It’s been a full week since I he…

Source: Oh Captain My Captain… There But For the Grace.

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The Importance of the Heart

** I don’t “re-blog” other posts very often. I know, it’s something we are told to do, to increase traffic and to bring in more readers. That’s probably true. I don’t avoid it because I don’t like to share other bloggers’ work, or because I don’t think there are good posts out there. On the contrary! There are just too many wonderful posts, and I sincerely feel guilty when I share one person’s work, and not another’s. I know… it may not make sense to everyone, but it’s something I’ve struggled with since I started blogging. Generally, I post my own work, and avoid ruffling some feathers–– while stroking a others.

However, when I read this post this morning, I was so moved, that I wanted to share it! I have followed Sara from nearly the first year of my own blogging; she was just starting too. I loved her thoughtful approach to life; her sweet life, in a magical piece of woods and river, of Australia, and her wisdom. I’ve enjoyed watching her journey, as she seeks out what she needs to nourish herself as a mother, wife, woman, caring human, deep thinker and feeling mystic. She is a wise woman, who shares meaningful insights on so many aspects of life.

So today I am sharing. Because Sara expressed so many things I have felt and continue to feel, about so many things… in this one, beautiful, insightful post. I hope you enjoy it too, and check out more of Sara’s writing. You won’t be disappointed! And maybe, in the near future, I will get back to my own blogging!

Sara’s words:

Yesterday I heard that huge tracts of the giant sea kelp forests in the ocean off Western Australia had completely vanished, destroyed by rising sea temperatures, and I died a little bit too. Yeste…

Source: The Importance of the Heart

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It’s The Zombie Apocalypse!


A diamond night!

If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, and you thought the Zombie Apocalypse would go down with flesh eating creatures all around, spreading their contagion, while everyone scrambles for food and resources– you got it all wrong. The Zombie Apocalypse is here, and it’s a much kinder, gentler event. It involves folks with cell phones, generally held aloft, out for a walk. It does in fact seem to be very contagious, having spread faster in a few weeks, than anything I’ve seen in my 53 years. It has definitely had an impact on parking, where I live, and crowds, where I like to walk, but no food shortages, and no rotting flesh… so far.

But make no mistake: Pokemon go has taken over! If you are my age, you have probably wondered why there are a lot more “young people” out walking, in recent weeks. It’s not just the summer weather; it’s Pokemon Go. On Sunday, July 10th, the fourth day of release, my husband and I went for a walk along the boardwalk, where we live. We happen to live in one of the most beautiful places possible. The boardwalk extends out over the bay, and that night the sun left millions of diamonds sparkling on the water. We had noted that there wasn’t a single parking spot– unusual, but not unheard of, on a warm Sunday night. We also noticed that a lot of people had their phones out– a little stranger. When I noted that many of them were yelling things like: “I’ve got 490,” and “I just got a fairy,” I made the connection.

Four days before that, my son and a friend of his, had come home and enthusiastically told me they’d been out looking for Pokemons on their phones. I hadn’t heard my 20 year-old son mention Pokemon, since he packed up his card collection, ten years earlier. They explained that it was a new App for phones, which works with your GPS, to put you in a Pokemon world, using your surroundings as a backdrop. Imagine: you look through the camera on your phone screen and there’s a Pokemon character in the scene. Now, imagine that you touch the screen (I’m simplifying here), and you get points for catching these characters. That is Pokemon Go… over simplified, the very enthusiastic Pokemon zombies would tell you, and this is indeed an epidemic. On that Sunday, day four of the game’s release, after already having walked past at least 100 people, I began asking EVERY SINGLE person we passed, if they were playing Pokemon. Of the 100 people I asked, only 6 were not playing Pokemon Go!

Further evidence that this is the Zombie Apocalypse: just pause for a moment and watch these folks. They stagger around waving their phones in the air, or stare off at the landscape, with a feverish look: zombie. They cluster together, and non-players have to jump out of their way, zombie. They touch you, and show you their screen, and next thing you know, you’re playing too, zombies. I have seen folks run into the street, phone held high, entirely unaware that I almost killed them. I’ve seen single zombies as well as groups, hustling down the street, headed for the nearest “gym.” This is not an actual gym, where people work out, but a Pokemon Go site, where epic battles are fought, generally located in places that the rest of us would otherwise enjoy for… say, taking a walk at sunset.


When I posted my initial findings on my Facebook page, as a humorous observation: “100 people asked, only 6 not playing Pokemon,” along with a photo of said diamond night, there was lots of criticism. “This makes me so sad,” said one friend. Others criticized the overuse of cell phones, and one more thing that takes young people out of the “here and now.” The consensus was that we are indeed going to hell in a hand basket. And that’s when something strange happened: I found myself defending the Zombie Apocalypse. Having avoided the trend in zombie-everything, for the past several years, this was more than a little surprising to me. Me, defending zombies? Me, defending more tech distractions, and smart phone use? Me defending a crowd mentality? Apparently, yes.
These folks are NOT playing Pokemon Go:

Let me explain. I am one of the first people to complain about what I perceive to be a lack of connectivity in society– with people texting, rather than phoning; Facebook being the main venue for many people when it comes to “friends,” and a sense of alienation that many people feel. We rely on smart phones for so many of our needs and connections. It’s nearly impossible to go out to a restaurant, concert, movie, (you name it), and not find a sea of screens lit up. If we have a question while out with friends, it’s a race to draw out phones and look up the answer. God forbid we simply remain uninformed for the course of a meal. In some circles, entire relationships are started, had, and ended online, not in person! While I love my smart phone, and use it for a lot, I resent the way these pervasive trends dominate so many social interactions, often isolating people, rather than connecting them. Throw in video gaming, where people are inside, and often playing with others, only through a screen, and… well, as you can see, there’s a lot to be potentially critical of.

However, Pokemon Go seems to be changing a lot of that. I have seen more young people outside, over the past two weeks, than I recall seeing in a very long time! Yes, they are playing a video game, but most of them are doing it with other people. They are playing and having fun, outside. Many of them are pausing to look up and take a photo of a sunset, which they might have otherwise missed. They are out in the parks; they are downtown getting a bite to eat, while they play; they are laughing and talking to each other. They are going places that they might not have gone, and as a side advantage: we saw a lot of dogs getting walked in the deal!

My husband noted, “some of these people don’t look like they’ve been outside in a while!” This was confirmed moments later, when one of the young women I questioned, told me just how much Pokemon Go has changed her usual routine. Her enthusiasm was contagious! “I’m a total Geek,” she stated matter of factly. “Normally, I’d go to work, and then I’d come home and be gaming. We are outdoors people, but this really makes it more fun!” She went on to tell me that she feels like this huge Pokemon Go bubble is her chance to not miss out. “I missed the whole Sega wave, and I’ve always wished I had been around for it. This gives me a chance to engage in something exciting and new!” I heard that a lot: “I’ve always been a geek, and now I feel like part of something! We’re all out here doing the same thing!” And, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, everyone’s having fun, doing the same thing!”


A diamond night!

As with anything, there has been plenty of criticism as well. Pokemon Go made the news this past week, when it was revealed that Pokemon characters were showing up at The National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, and equally horrifying, at Auschwitz, itself. This is unacceptable, and doesn’t make for good publicity for the game. I believe it’s incumbent upon the makers of the game to show integrity, as players are going to play the game that is provided. Pokemon Go should not allow characters in places that are sacred or publicly important. Graveyards, holy sites, sacred lands of First Nations and Native Americans, National Memorials and museums, to name a few. As the game spreads around the world, it is appalling to imagine people playing the game at Hiroshima, in Japan; the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock Mosque, in Israel; Pearl Harbor; the 9/11 Memorial; the Wounded Knee Massacre memorial; the Holocaust death camp memorials, and so many other important and sacred places. These are sacred spaces, not places to play games! And yet, that’s what has been happening. While we should all know better, again, I believe this is something the makers of the game must be responsible for.


There are plenty who disagree with me, when I defend Pokemon Go, and the masses of people playing it. No doubt, I haven’t been happy about not finding a parking place for my favorite nightly walk, or the folks who don’t watch where they’re going, in search of Pokemon wins, but I have been equally amused and happy to see so many other people out there enjoying the same places I love. I have been happy to see parents playing with their kids, rather than checking their texts and Facebook, while their kids vie for attention. I have enjoyed watching kids explain the game to their parents and grandparents. However crazy it may appear, I’ve loved watching the moments of connection.


And for now, that’s what I’m taking away from this craze: engagement. People of all ages, though mostly younger, are engaging. They’re talking to me, and happy to tell me about what they’re doing. They’re talking to each other, as they all try and get new high scores. They’re engaging in their communities and the out of doors. These zombies are not the brain dead creatures that I expected from a zombie apocalypse; they’re fun, and excited to spread more fun.

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The arrival of Pokemon Go is not all bad; this is not the apocalypse we planned for. These zombies are engaged; they’re having fun, and they’re making history! Whether we like it or not, this is probably where things are headed for many other things. If you missed the massive jump in Nintendo stock– which has now plummeted, as investors learned that Nintendo does not own Pokemon Go, there will be other companies finding ways to make our phones interactive, other ways to pull us in to a tech world. We may all look back and realize that this was just a sweet beginning to much crazier zombie apocalypse; but for now, we are all safe to either join in or carry on. It’s hard to deny the joy and playfulness here!


Are you or someone you love a zombie? What are your thoughts on this incredible phenomenon? Share your thoughts in the comment section; I’m listening.

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals! KAPOW! I’m going big in 2016: I’d like to hit 1,200 Likes!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, as soon as they’re published, with no spam.

©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

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Friday Fictioneers: Because They’re All The Same

Rumors of my demise are vastly exaggerated, but… it’s been way too long. Stick, stack, stuck… too much going on, and not enough writing being done!

If you’d like to read more of the great stories from the Friday Fictioneers, or contribute your own, check out Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog Addicted to Purple. This week’s photo prompt comes from Jan Marler Morrill. As always, I welcome honest, constructive feedback.


©Jan Marler Morrill


Because They’re All The Same

“Hate is hate, Lovey, regardless of the how others spin it.”

Jo held Tawny’s hand, the child searching her face.

“But aren’t they all terrorists, Gramaw? That’s what Josh said at recess. He said it’s better they’re killing each other, than killing us.” Her brown eyes filled with tears. “Are those people gonna kill us?”

“Sugar, bad people do bad things, but there are no those people. The people in that market were celebrating a time of peace, just like we want peace.”

She hugged her granddaughter.

“No one is gonna kill you, baby, but narrow minds hurt us all.”

(Word count: 100 exactly)

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GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals! KAPOW! I’m going big in 2016: I’d like to hit 1,200 Likes!! Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, as soon as they’re published, with no spam.

©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!


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