#Blogtoberfest Day 31: Happy Halloween

Halloween or All Hollows Eve or All Saints Eve is a remembrance of the dead and celebrated liturgically in some churches such as Roman Catholic, Byzantine Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Not to take away from any of that (the liturgies are beautiful), but speaking of the dead, I’m reminded of recent discussions I’ve read online where people seem to be competing over who has had the worst loss – the death of a mate, the loss of a pet, or divorce and I’ve said that it all depends on the person and the circumstances. But whatever it is, it’s not a competition. And so when I read this quote from On the Brink of Everything (see yesterday’s post), I had to share it:

“At my age, I know people who have lost the dearest person in their lives.”

That is the key – the “dearest” person in their lives. And for some people, that dearest “person” is a pet.

He goes on to say:

At first, they go into deep grief, certain their lives will never again be worth living. But then they slowly awaken to the fact that–not in spite of their loss but because of it–they’ve become bigger, more compassionate people, with more capacity of heart to take in other people’s sorrows and joys.

Loss is not a competition nor is it a narrowly-defined category. Loss is loss and all must be dealt with in compassion.

Happy Halloween, Happy November! See you in December.

Halloween on Mount Charleston

#Blogtoberfest Day 30: On the Brink of Everything

On the Brink of Everything by Parker J. Palmer caught my attention on my recent visit to Barnes & Noble. He may be on the brink of turning 80, but while I don’t agree with some of his thinking, he does share the things that are true for him about growing older, being mentored when he was younger, and becoming a mentor to younger people now. The point is that people of all ages have something to learn from or share with others.

I totally agree. When I was in my 20s through 40s, I often gravitated toward older women who taught me so much. I even wrote a song called “Wise Woman” about my friend from Montreal who I met in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Then somewhere along the way, I noticed younger women were gravitating toward me, looking at me as a mentor and I love fulfilling that role. Sometimes it’s people I’ve met online or at church or wherever. Sometimes it’s my readers.

They say that when you want to learn something new, you have to be willing to be a beginner. And that’s me with music. I have to be a beginner. And so I’ve met such interesting young people as we travel this road together, whether music or poetry.

November is just a couple of days away and I really do feel like I’m on the brink of everything, experimenting with a bit of unplugging and planning another cross country move. I invite you all to travel that road with me. And while I hope to take a blog hiatus during November, I’ll be back to share any experiences/insights worth sharing and I invite you to do the same.

No matter how young or old we are, we’re all on the brink of everything that’s going to come next.

#Blogtoberfest Day 28: Real Women Sing the Blues

I’ve almost made it through the month of October blogging daily, but I’m running out of steam. It’s a good thing I’m taking a hiatus in November.

Yesterday’s visit to the Guitar Center was so much fun! I ended up getting a songbook on playing the blues, which is making my piano practice a lot more fun!

The original version of the sequel to Real Women Wear Red was titled Real Women Sing the Blues. I was trying to keep a color theme for the trilogy plus the fact that the main character, Robin, quits her corporate job to chase after her dream of singing the blues.

The fun part about being an Indie author is that you can experiment and make changes to your books. And somewhere along the way, I thought Real Women Go Hawaiian was a better title since it highlighted the Hawaii setting (Real Women Wear Red is set in the Caribbean) – so if you buy the double set, that’s what you’ll get.

However, as I get more and more into playing the blues on the keyboard, I’m thinking Real Women Sing the Blues as a single is more fitting.

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 25: How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career (and your Brain)

Unplugging – it sounds so sexy to me – lol! I’ve been drawn to unplugging for some time because, like most people today, I’ve been noticing the downside of too much information, over stimulation, social media, etc., etc. And not just as a writer, but as a musician and as a person.

Working in the San Francisco Bay Area with a career in electronic publishing since the late 1970s, I was one of the first to hop aboard all things electronic, imagining something like the internet and hollering with glee when it became accessible to all. But things don’t stay as they were. Instead of being helpful, the internet has deteriorated in so many ways and don’t get me started on social media.

Anyway, it’s interesting that many people are realizing this now – people are getting off social media, studies have been studied, books have been written, and people are speaking out about the harm of it all.

What I’m leading up to is I found this post in my email yesterday – “How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career” from Productive Writers. He quotes a book called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I downloaded a sample to my reader and can’t wait to get into it today.

I’m wondering if maybe this is why I’ve lost interest in writing. Is it because I can’t focus for that long these days? Have I said everything I have to say? Or did I lose interest as my readers lost interest? Once the algorithms changed from people finding me via search engines to a weighted discovery of numbers – sites and books with the most sales are shown to people’s eyeballs. So if your numbers aren’t huge, you get practically zero visibility. The more you sell, the more you will sell. The less you sell, the less people will even know about you until finally your sales stop completely. Another way the internet is all screwed up.

We’re being told what we see – it’s no longer the free space where all are equal – that’s the problem with social media – it’s controlling “information” and we see different things, dictated by advertisers and algorithms. We’re being controlled like puppets. But the scariest thing of all is how our brains are actually being changed from it.

It’s definitely time to unplug – at least somewhat. It won’t be easy because we’ve been trained to reach for our smart phone every time we get that twitch, which is practically nonstop. I’ve noticed that if I turn my phone off or leave it in another room, I sleep much better. No middle-of-the-night poetry, but I’ll just have to write it at the computer during the day. Who knows what I may actually accomplish?

#Blogtoberfest Day 21: Go Dodgers

So excited that the LA Dodgers are going to the world series that I just had to change my profile pic to me in my Dodgers hat. My first pro baseball game was at Dodger Stadium when the SF Giants played the Dodgers and the Dodgers won. My aunt was living in San Francisco so when she came down to visit, my stepdad and brother stayed home while the women went to the game – lol!

Later, I would learn that my father and his family were big Dodger fans, although my dad once said, “The Dodgers will break your heart.” I grew up in Orange County so after that game I became an Angels fan and later lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 23 years so I was a SF Giants fan. The truth is, we’re all fans of baseball.

After I met father and family, I learned that my grandfather pitched for the Memphis Chicks until my grandmother asked him to give up the game and help her with their three little boys – my dad, Uncle Jim, and Uncle Don. He did and started singing and playing in a band. She didn’t like that either with all the woman hanging out there. Later, toward the end of her life I was able to hear her say on a family video that she regretted asking him to give up baseball because it was his dream.

I’m sad for grandpa, never knowing if he could have made it. But what I’m sadder about, still, is growing up without knowing my father and his family, even though we all lived about half an hour apart. (see Myths of the Fatherless for that story.)

Grandpa, top of photo, dad on the far right, at Dodger Stadium for the Angels vs Indians game

#Blogtoberfest Day 20: Feeling Like Myself (#poem)

I’m feeling like myself again
Getting in touch with an old friend
One who changed the world around her
One who knew when to stand and when to demur

I’m driving my red Impala girl
1963 in a 70s gas-conserving world
Do I trade it for another
Politically-correct more practical model?

I’m feeling like myself again
Learning new things about who I am
Not just a writer but a poet
My musical ear so strong, I just didn’t know it

We learn about ourselves living life every day
But some things we can only know by knowing our family
Adoption, divorce, embryos, single mothers, and step fathers
Deprive us of a piece of ourselves that really matters

I’m feeling more like myself today

#Blogtoberfest Day 19: Things I Will Miss

I will miss the morning sunlight peeking through the trees,
soaring birds chirping their morning wakefulness,
squawking gulls flapping their wings,
treading shore birds scanning the pond for breakfast.

I will miss sipping my coffee on the lanai greeting the dawn with prayer,
scribbling my early thoughts,
clearing my mind of nighttime fears,
making room for gratitude and thankfulness.

I will miss cocktails and apps overlooking the springs at the BoatHouse,
strolling World Showcase,
martinis in the Wilderness,
dipping my toes in the ocean.

I will miss our dream kitchen,
white cabinets and quartz countertops,
undermount lights with a view
of morning walkers and evening golf carts.

But most of all I will miss
the last house where Skipper lived.

 

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 18: Writing Lyrics (the Great Juggling Act)

I’m pretty sure I won’t really be doing NaNoWriMo – oh, sure, I’ll continue to write the tome I seem to be working on when the mood strikes, ie, a scene or emotion comes to me that I must write down. Maybe because these days music is my main focus. And that is quite a juggling act.

In Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, published by Berklee Press, it says this about writing lyrics upfront, right in the introduction, the first page of the book:

You will have no trouble learning about lyric structure. It is simple, just like juggling. When a juggler keeps four balls in the air at once it may seem like magic, but there is no magic involved. The juggler learned by throwing one ball up and catching it, throwing and catching, stopping and starting the motion; always gaining greater control over the movement of the ball. Then came two balls, then three, throwing and catching, stopping and starting, with greater and greater control.

As a lyricist, you must learn to juggle four balls.

1. How many phrases does it have?

2. How long is each phrase?

3. What is the rhythm of each phrase?

4. How are rhymes arranged?

And that’s just the lyrics. Then there’s the music, and music production. Each piece requires great skill, learning the craft, and practice. And then they all must work together – prosody, that’s what it’s all about.

#Blogtoberfest Day 17: Living in the Moment (#poem)

When I was a child, I knew how to live in the moment
No bills to pay, no past to replay
Anticipating the next adventure
Beach, park, or reading all day
Alone or joint venture

When I was a child, I had no worries to bother with
Maybe a few, such as dishes or dusting to do
Begging them off while watching Disneyland fireworks go off
Dreaming of becoming ‘big, rich and famous,” didn’t you, too?
Confiding in that one friend who wouldn’t scoff

When I was a child, I dreamed of the future
A wife, a mother, even a movie star
Ironing and watching Password or the Fugitive like mother
And don’t forget “My Mother the Car”
After playing outside with my friends or my brother

Today I vow to live in the moment
No worries, no past, just the next step on the way
Anticipating the moment’s adventure
Beach, park, or reading all day
Writing without censure