Thoughts on the Eve of My 59th New Year

The approach of the New Year always gets me thinking about the past, present and future. I like to sift through the memories of the old year, cataloging my experiences – successes, challenges, periods of growth, etc. I also like to think ahead and dream about what’s possible in the fresh new days that lie ahead.

For the past few years, I’ve chosen a word to help define how I want to approach the coming year. Last year’s word came to me during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It was “enlarge.” I didn’t exactly know what it meant at the time, but the word felt right, and I trusted my intuition.

As I look back on the old year, I can see so many examples of where my word came into play.

I was greatly enlarged through my connection with AlzAuthors, a group of writers who share the experience of living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. I’ve had the opportunity to work with an incredible management team, a group of women who I’ve come to love. I’ve also met and formed bonds with so many wonderful authors. I’ve worked with organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, Caregiving.com and others to help promote the awareness of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

My vision of my memoir, Motherhood Lost and Found, was enlarged as it was named one of “the best Alzheimer’s books of all time” by Book Authority, an honor I never dreamed I’d receive.

Aside from Alzheimer’s, the scope of my work has been enlarged. Last winter, I completed a draft of my new memoir about my daughter’s celiac disease. I had wondered if I actually had another book within me. Apparently, I do. And there may be others.

One of the things I’m most proud of is that I stepped out of my comfort zone and organized a celebration for my long-time mentor, Tony Abbott, last spring. You can read about it here. My intuition had nudged me a few months before the event, and I had that “now or never” feeling, so I contacted Tony. He was in the midst of treatment for lung cancer. But he said, “Yes!” and we worked together to choose a day he could look forward to. It turned out to be a beautiful event at our hometown bookstore where Tony was surrounded by friends. My heart was enlarged.

On a more personal note, as I look back on the last New Year, I was enlarged by my family. My daughter, a junior in high school, is spreading her wings as she considers colleges and her future. As a mother I am learning to both let go and embrace the new person who she is becoming. At the same time, my notion of who I am is enlarging as my parenting role shifts.

My husband Joel continues to help me enlarge my ideas of what a good marriage is. We are opposites in many ways, and yet we share the desire to support one another in the deepest ways. His outgoing personality, his never-ending physical energy, his constant desire to be on the go – these things often clash with my quiet, introverted, homebody self. Yet, we are discovering the places of overlap as we make room for what the other needs.

The word “enlarge” has been a gift, providing new perspective and awareness during this last New Year (which has suddenly grown old).

I’m still waiting to find out what my word will be for 2019.

Whatever it is, it’s my hope that I will be connected, nourished and clear. Connected with the person I am inside, my family, my circle of friends and my community. Nourished by the choices I make. And last but not least, may I always hear the clear, quiet, grace-filled voice of God.

Blessings to each of you in the New Year. May all our hearts be enlarged.

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A Writer’s Garden: Where Beauty Blooms

A new thing has been stirring inside me. I’m not exactly sure what it is. A need for change or growth perhaps?

A few weeks ago, I threw myself into a gardening project. I looked around my yard and realized that it no longer brought me joy. Not only that, it made me want to avert my eyes and turn away, in shame. Why?

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Mother’s Day: Mothers and Daughters and Complicated Emotions

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am sharing a piece I wrote about my mom. Happy Mother’s Day to all!

 

Around Father’s Day last year, I went digging through some old photos, and I posted a picture of my father from my wedding. I didn’t give it a thought, until I found this similar photo of my mother from the same time and realized I had never posted it in honor of Mother’s Day. It got me thinking. Why?

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National Poetry Month: The Joy Of Writing Poems With Tony Abbott

It’s a rare opportunity when you get to honor your mentor, who is alive and well, still reading poetry and teaching at the age of 84. This, after a bout of lung cancer and dealing with chemo and radiation, which makes it all the more meaningful.

What an honor it is to celebrate Tony Abbott during National Poetry Month. I was so pleased to have him introduce me at the launch party of The Beach Poems. See previous post here.

April is National Poetry Month, a perfect time to reminisce over my early days as a poet and the gifts I’ve received from Tony Abbott. I spent those days searching for the next line that would move me deeply, digging into my past, roaming beyond the ragged edges of my heart, seeking something bright and unexpected – the sun rising over a new land created through language.

In short, I wanted to be broke open and reformed – again and again.

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A Book Launch Party: the After Effects

On the Ides of March, there was a book launch party for The Beach Poems. I started the day fearful that it would be an embarrassment, that so few people would come that the bookstore would lose money and the kind staff who supported this event would never want me to show my face there again. This is what the mind does – spiral and spiral until we are cringing at our own unworthiness.

Release Party sign for The Beach Poems

Fortunately, I was blessed to have an incredibly supportive core of women, part of the CWC-N board who assured me not only that they would be there (they put on the book launch party and made the entire thing a piece of cake, so that I could sweep in and not lift a finger), but that no matter who showed up, they were looking forward to an afternoon of sharing time together, listening to my poems and celebrating our love of all things literary.

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Trip to Florida, Part IV: The Miami Book Festival

(This is a four-part series. Click here to read Part I.)

After packing and saying our goodbyes to Jean and Vicki, Gilda and I drove south towards Alligator Alley. I was excited to be driving across Florida and to get a view of the everglades. My father, a civil engineer for the Army, had worked throughout South Florida on various projects before I was born. The names of towns were familiar to me because I had grown up listening to him talk about them.

Alligator Alley: on the side of the road.

While I felt as if I were home and had hopes of catching a glimpse of an alligator, Gilda’s husband Stu had warned her not to get out of the car because he’d been warned there were large snakes in the area. Gilda wasn’t sure what to do when I pulled over and asked her to take a photo of me by the water. Read the rest of this entry »


Trip to Florida, Part III: An Honorary AlzAuthor

(This is a four-part series. Click here to read Part I.)

Gilda joined me in Naples on Thursday night. I had shared with Jean and Vicki how much I loved Gilda, that she was wise and funny, a delight to be with and a wonderful writer. They welcomed her at the condo and into the fold. I had also shared with Jean and Vicki how Gilda often talked about AlzAuthors in her writing classes.

Gilda had firsthand experience with Alzheimer’s. Several female members of her extended family have developed dementia. Gilda was also one of the few friends who had visited my mother during the last stage of her life. Jean named Gilda an “honorary” AlzAuthor.

Jean, Vicki and I toasting. Gilda took the photo.

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