My Sunday Book Review today is for Martha Perez’s short, inspirational prose from the soul, one who has been ‘there’ with some of life’s soul wounding moments.. And in this short but inspiring book, the author offers words of comfort.
The Calm And The Storm: Inspiration that will keep you strong enough to keep going!
When you look at the reflection of the moon as the waves ease toward the sand, I am the calm. The wind blows, and the air is cool. When the waves are crashing on a dark stormy night, and the bat’s shadows reflect the glow of the full moon, I am the Storm.
“The Calm and The Storm” are 12 short quality chapters that will acknowledge what you go through in life. Not just what you go through now, but what you’ve been through before. We are all strong and powerful people trying to make the best out of life. If you want to be inspired, I wrote this with love. Even though I write dark stories, this book is made to get you through the dark days and appreciate the other days as well.
My 5 Star Review:
Martha Perez is soul inspiring. I have a few of her books awaiting to be read but I chose to read this short inspirational book one day when my soul needed soothing.
This book a collection of short chapters of words to inspire. It’s not about crying over wrongs and hurt, but finding the reasons to make it to the next day.
“When you feel your life is filled with darkness it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to not be okay. But then find that reason to continue.” ~Martha Perez
“When life breaks you, let it shape you. Don’t focus on the pain. Focus on the fight.” ~Martha Perez
“I fight with my pen. I fight when I type. My ink bleeds pain mixed with empty tears.” ~Martha Perez
Perez offers avenues of hope by referencing her own over-comings in life in small detail, helping to point others in a more positive direction despite obstacles. She speaks as though talking specifically to us, the reader. A good book to pick up again and again when your self needs a little lift.
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review with an added bonus. Today I’m going to review Joan Didion’s book – The Year of Magical Thinking. But before I share my book review, I’m going to share an overview of the 2017 Documentary currently on Netflix – Joan Didion – The Center Will Not Hold, where 86 year old, literary icon, Joan, reflects on her intimate stories from her writing career and struggles, and her forty year marriage to author John Gregory Dunne, brother to author Dominick Dunne. The documentary was directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne.
My 5 Star Review Documentary Review:
Joan Didion was born December 5, 1934 in Sacremento, California. She’s an American novelist and essayist and screenwriter. Joan is known for her incisive depictions of social unrest. Joan says she began writing at the age of five and was a shy ‘bookish’ girl. She never considered herself a real writer until her first published book. Joan struggled with social anxiety and took up acting and public speaking to help ease her anxieties. As a young teen, she spent much of her time typing out books by Ernest Hemingway so she could learn how sentence structure worked. Joan had a sordid childhood as her dad was in the army during WWII, with moving a lot she didn’t attend school regularly until returning back to Sacremento in 1944.
After watching the documentary and learning about the demises of both her husband and her daughter Quintana, my heart went out to Joan and I was compelled to read her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, because she wrote it after John’s death. It was first published in 2005. In the documentary, Joan’s publicist talks about how he urged Joan to write her novel published in 2012 – Blue Nights, for both, John and Quintana.
John and Joan met in New York City when Joan won a poetry contest at her senior year in Berkeley for her essay, Prix de Paris, and the prize landed her a job as research assistant at Vogue. John wrote for Time Magazine at the time.
They bounced ideas off one another, each wrote their own books and essays, but they collaborated on screenplays together – Needle Park (1971 with Al Pacino) and A Star is Born (1976 Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Joan’s logline for Needle Park – “Romeo and Juliette as junkies.
In this documentary, we get a deep inside look at this author from her beginnings as a journalist writing hard stories, Joan would say that she writes about disorder because she’d then find the situation”less scary”. She wasn’t happy with the way some of her books were portrayed for movies, such as, Book of Common Prayer, complaining her characters were totally different than what she’d written.
Joan admits that much of what she writes contained pieces of her. Her interests in writing were mostly about stories of humanity and the bad things going on in the world. Her visit to El Salvador prompted her to write political stories and essays, and an eventual book called El Salvador. She talks about the lie of the Central Park 7 – propaganda spurred falsely in the accusation of the rape of a jogger in Central Park, N.Y. and on VP Dick Cheney, “Bully of the Bush war,” “He took the lemons, made lemonade, spilled, and made someone else cleanup.”
John and Joan kept a low profile in the celeb world. They adopted their daughter Quintana at birth. When Quintana was asked what kind of mom Joan was, she replied, “Okay, mostly remote.” Joan began questioning how parents are sometimes on auto-pilot and don’t realize child neglect.
In 2003, Quintana took ill and was rushed to hospital when she went into septic shock resulting from pneumonia, which turned worse and ultimately left her in a coma at the time of John’s death. John and Joan had just come home from visiting Quintana in hospital on December 30, 2003, and they were sick with worry about their daughter. Joan made dinner, the two sat down to eat when John had a massive, fatal heart attack. Later, looking in her husband’s closet with a friend to pack up his clothes, Joan said, “What if he comes back?” That was clearly a grief statement because I could so identify with not wanting to let go. After she wrote The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan said it was the hardest book to write, but had to write it to get through. I totally get that. She told herself that after writing the book she would learn to let go. This woman lost the love of her life while their daughter lay in a coma.
Months after Quintana’s recovery, she fell and hit her head, suffering a massive hematoma and resulting in six hours of brain surgery. As Quintana was recovering her major illnesses in 2004, she came down with Pancreatitis in 2005, and ultimately died from it in August 2005 at age 39. Didion wrote Blue Nights in 2011 for Quintana. That woman was broken.
Joan was/is a tiny woman, and after losing her family, her wonderful friends stepped up to take care of her and made sure she ate at her already weight of 75 pounds. Joan then wrote the play for the book The Year of Magical Thinking, which starred Vanessa Redgrave, in the nonfictional soliloquy.
Joan wrote Blue Nights after the play, about Quintana – a book she said she didn’t want to write. On her life when asked if she had regrets about things, she said, “The failure to plan for misfortune,” her guilt of failing as a mother.
In 2005 Didion won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and became a finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her book, The Magical Year of Thinking. In 2015, President Obama awarded Joan with the Mastery of Style in Writing Award for exploring the culture around us and exposing the depths of sorrow and for her ‘startling honesty’.
“Everyone has moved on except the one left grieving.”
“See enough and write it down.”
“A journal – a forgotten account paid with interest.”
“Remember what it is to be me, that’s always the point.”
I recently finished reading Joan’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking. After seeing the documentary and having only read one other of Joan’s books, I felt compelled to read.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion that explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage—and a life, in good times and bad—that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.
Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later—the night before New Year’s Eve—the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.
This powerful book is Didion’ s attempt to make sense of the “weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness … about marriage and children and memory … about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.”
My 5 Star Review:
An accounting of love and loss. In this often, heartwrenching book, Joan Didion champions her once simple writing life alone, without her husband, best friend and consultant on all her writing. Joan reminisces on her life and writing with her husband John, always with her – writing, walking, traveling, filming – they did everything together, despite them both being individual writers, with the exception of a few collaborations.
Joan takes us through her life in vignettes as she shares memories of incidence on vacations the family took together, the circles of people they traveled with, their routines, when they adopted Quintana, motherhood, and mistakes. But most poignantly, Joan focuses on the time of John’s death, the surreal moments, the most insignificant things becoming big things, the most minutest details overlooked while she was living numb are being realized in this story. She begins her story with the the eve her and John went to visit Quintana in hospital, while she was in an induced coma. They were both worried sick about their daughter. Joan makes dinner, they sit down to eat and John has a fatal heart attack right in front of her on December 30, 2003. Her details are precise. She talks about her different kinds of grief, comparing the variation in grief between losing her parents, to how different her grief felt when John died. Joan shares what it was like waking up the next morning alone. She’ll take you right into her realizations. So identifiable for anyone who has ever deeply loved and lost. I know much of what Joan speaks, like not even remembering if we ate or not, mostly not. It’s a numbness that takes over to break the impact of the shock.
Joan bares herself with raw honesty on what grief leaves on someone, the stages of steps involved until reaching acceptance, but I wonder how many ever get there. Joan shares how she came to decisions about giving her loved one’s clothes away, as Joan in her denial stage held hope he may come back. Joan discusses her concern of having to break the news to Quintana about her father’s death, after she awakes from a long coma. Joan shares her fears about her daughter getting sick again overshadowing her grief – “Until now, I had been able only to grieve, not mourn. Grief was passive. Grief happened, Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.”
Imagine trying to stay sane!
Joan Didion is an iconic writer. As a journalist, she followed stories of humanity, out in the field. She said it was easier to deal with war if she could see it. She’s a tiny frail woman who can barely move her hands now at age 86, but that doesn’t stop her from still using them to articulate what she speaks. She’s lived through hell and back TWICE, first losing the love of her life, then her daughter. I can only imagine the amount of courage it took to write about such pain. It’s not surprising this Warrior Woman has won so many awards. I was drawn to this book after watching a documentary about her, The Center Will Not Hold on Netflix after my own husband’s passing, and I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who have loved and lost.
Poignant Quotes that resonate:
“Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self-pity.”
“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.”
“I could not count the times during the average day when something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death.”
“Marriage is memory, marriage is time.”
“For forty years I saw myself through John’s eyes. I did not age. This year for the first time since I was twenty-nine I saw myself through the eyes of others.”
“I have trouble thinking of myself as a widow. I remember hesitating the first time I had to check that box on the ‘marital status’ part of a form.”
“I realized that for the time being I could not trust myself to present a coherent face to the world.”
“I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.”
“I realize as I write this that I do not want to finish this account.”
Welcome to the October issue of #WATWB – We are the World Blogfest, where a group of writers share something good going on in the world to inspire and keep focused on some of the positive things happening in the world.
In this edition, I’m sharing an initiative I came across where the organization of Humanity United and Kuzamura Ubuzima have united with the first ever Food share initiative. This initiative was formed in order to aid in the food shortage in Rwanda with the Food Forest Program, and recently added, food delivery for patients in hospitals. Food is not free for hospital stays in Rwanda and many cannot afford to buy the food, and many more have nobody to bring them food.
“Food Forests – also known as forest gardening, are a world apart from traditional agriculture. Standard farming models require that crops are planted in neat rows, segregated by species. In contrast, the food forest model revolves around planting techniques which mirror the ecosystems found in nature.
This means that crops are allowed to grow in the places where they naturally thrive – think shade-loving mushrooms underneath heavy canopied trees, or plants that mutually benefit each other interspersed in the same area. Because the food forest follows patterns found in nature, it is low maintenance and self-sustaining, requiring only basic upkeep from farmers. . .”
Please continue reading about this amazing initiative atGoodnet.org.
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for one of my favorite Historical Fiction author’s book, Paulette Mahurin with Over the Hedge.
As many of my readers know, historical fiction, particularly, the WWII era genre, draws me into the world of the human condition, the evils of man, and the strength to survive. And Paulette is an amazing writer in this genre as she knows how to tell a story and bring our emotions right into it.
During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children.
My 5 Star Review:
This is a story that will keep you gripped throughout the plight of three people who joined the Dutch Resistance and in 1943 began a rescue mission in Amsterdam to save however many Jewish children as they could from being sent to their deaths.
Walter, Henrietta and Johan’s mission at the deportation center was to move the young children who were deported from their homes to the daycare center next door, a ploy to keep the children calm while the adults were being accounted for, beaten and awaiting the trucks to take them to the trains that would ultimately land them at Auschwitz. What the SS and fellow nazis didn’t know was that the children were methodically moved from the daycare and passed ‘over the hedge’ to a college campus next door. From there, Henrietta would take care of the children and prepare them for transport by other resistance members to be taken to new homes by good Dutch people who adopted them. Humanity at its best during a dark time of history.
Walter worked in the deportation room where the rounded up Jews were first sent to ‘register’ for their ‘next journey’. Walter worked hard and secretly to remove the children’s names off the rosters, always fearing being found out. He would try and save as many children as he could by first approaching the parent(s) and offering them to save their children. Devastated parents with fear, starvation and broken hearts were elated to give Walter their children for a chance for them to live and survive, as they knew what was waiting for them ahead.
The three worked diligently, secretly and methodically to do their part in saving Jewish lives. Intrinsically timed plans were carried out to bypass guards to smuggle the children over to the daycare, and once cleaned and fed, transported by inconspicuous vans and bicycles by other helpers, often placing the children in a suitcase or the like, with a small dose of drug to make them sleep so they wouldn’t get scared and cry. The fact that these three earth angels worked tirelessly right under the noses of the German SS patrol killers and got away with saving the lives of those meant to be killed, is astounding in itself.
Sadly, this story was written on true events. Walter and his friends managed to save the lives of over 600 Dutch Jewish children at a time when helping Jews was a crime punishable by death by the nazis. And if you are wondering what happened to these three heroes after their selfless, heroic efforts, you’re going to have to read the book.
Welcome to my Q & A for September. Today I’m thrilled to be featuring my friend and author, Lauren Scott and her beautiful new book – More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose. Lauren writes beautiful poetry and short story memoirs. I’ve been following her blog for a few years now and as Lauren has recently released her newest book, she’s on blog tour now, so I thought I’d jump in on her booklaunch tour with doing a little Q & A here with her. Enjoy!
Lauren has authored two collections of poetry: New Day, New Dreams (2013) and Finding a Balance (2015). In the last couple of years, she began exploring memories from her past, penning them into short memoirs. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Matthew, and their lovable canine, Copper; they have two adult children. Family has been an aspect of life she has always held dear. From her experiences over three decades: raising a family, grieving through loss, finding joy in the smallest things, and the many backpacking and camping adventures, her writing takes a magical path of its own.
The marvelous wild world that surrounds her: the smell of the woods, the sound of a babbling brook, and the chorus of birds never disappoint in providing inspiration. Recent backpacking trips with Matthew along the California coast and Sierra Nevada have stirred up thoughts to write about love, lost friendship, family, and the possibility that anything can happen. Hikes along the Paper Mill Creek remind her that life is fragile. From trout hatchlings to swallowtail butterflies, Lauren is marveled at how the world is interconnected and that every living thing matters. She is a poet, short memoir writer, and nature lover who hopes her readers will find a little nugget of delight, comfort, or understanding in her poetry and stories – some detail that resonates with them beyond her words.
From the early woes of childhood and teen years, this collection of stories and poems paints a picture of young dreams and fears. But as adulthood sets in, these dreams and fears change. More than Coffee touches on love and loss, nature and endurance, marriage and parenting. In these memories, humor diffuses fear and taking risks proves to be a powerful method in boosting self-confidence. Through it all, whether in the wilderness near a sparkling lake or in the comfort of home, there’s nothing like a good cup of coffee. A poignant and reflective collection of verse and prose that is best enjoyed sipping your favorite coffee roast.
Let’s get into a little Q & A and get to know more about Lauren!
Where do your book ideas grow from?
Inspiration is derived from a simple walk around the neighborhood with my dog: flowers blooming in springtime, bees buzzing in the distance, clouds forming art in the sky, or a subtle touch of a breeze. Family is most important to me, so I write about the love of my life, my husband of 32 years, who I met in a comical manner. My parents who have since passed away have been the fodder for poetry and short memoirs – losing one parent is difficult enough, but both is beyond surreal. It’s like the family foundation slipped into a sink hole. I find inspiration from my son and daughter who have turned out to be compassionate, amazing adults, and how it took some getting used to when my husband and I became empty nesters.
I write about loss and grief – the importance of letting those tears flow – but also the necessity of occasionally giving freedom to your silly self. Camping and backpacking have played an integral part of our life, so living in the wilderness near a sparkling freshwater lake encourages a plethora of thoughts eager to be written. Hiking five miles further up the mountain to a lake filled with lily pads is like entering a fairyland inspiring a new level of ideas for my muse.
When work on my memoir began, my mind transported to the past: recalling formative childhood years, finding forever love, becoming a mother, and taking on challenges that I never would have attempted before. I strive to convey the value of slowing down and reveling in surrounding beauty, feeling gratitude, meeting a challenge head-on, and living in the here and now. We’re only gifted one ride around the sun, so why not make it the best possible ride?!
DG: Even your response here is beautiful prose Lauren. Yes, writing about truth in life is all about the moments we take in and how we interpret them. 🙂
What are your writing goals for this year?
I had set a writing goal to publish my memoir, More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose which was released in early September. What a feeling of accomplishment, especially because my first two books were collections of poetry. More than Coffee speaks of memories from the past written in freeform poetry and in short memoirs. The process took longer than I anticipated, and I thought the editing would never end. Eventually, the point of confidence that every comma and verb was written correctly was finally achieved. I am thrilled to check that box off, but in the process, I was able to relive many wonderful moments from my childhood into my adulting. When loved ones have passed on, it is the gathering of fond memories that sustain us and bring them to life.
DG: I’m glad you accomplished what you set out to do Lauren. I know how life can get in the way of our good intentions. Writing memoir is certainly reliving the moments. 🙂
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
As I inched closer to the finish line with More than Coffee, the wheels in my mind started turning again, and I wondered what will come next? I have written more than a dozen new poems I would love to see in print, but those may have to wait. I recently pulled a children’s book idea from my archived computer files. This book or a possible series commenced over two decades ago. And then life happened, raising children took precedence, and that idea became complacent in the archives. I feel now is the right time to breathe some life into this project. However, I don’t know the first thing about writing a children’s book. For now, though, I’m enjoying the ride on Cloud 9 from the release of my new book and the positive feedback I’ve received, along with the generous support from wonderful blogging friends. Once this ride slows down, the children’s book research will begin, and I’ll see where it takes me.
DG:That sounds fantastic Lauren. I could definitely see you as a children’s writer. That will be a wonderful project to dive into no doubt!
Do you have any advice you can share for new writers?
My advice is to simply write! Don’t think too hard! Years ago, I allowed intimidation to prevent me from pursuing my writing passion – intimidation from not holding that BA or MFA in Creative Writing. However, several years ago, I attended English classes required for an associate degree at our local community college (baby steps to a bachelor’s degree), and I’m proud to say that I aced those classes. I loved the writing and the experience. But what halted me on that path to a two-year degree was the requirement to take other classes that might not interest me, then to spend time doing that homework. Instead, my son nudged me into starting a blog. I slowly began to share my writing, feeling a little timid in the beginning. At the same time, I followed many talented authors. Before I knew it, WordPress transformed into an online classroom. I learned about various formats of poetry. I read compelling fiction with authentic dialogue. I laughed and let the tears fall when reading memoirs. I delighted in immersing myself into charming children’s books.
Thus, I made another choice, pouring my heart and soul into writing for my blog, a wonderful platform to engage with other like-minded bloggers. Regardless of age, learning is infinite, as well as growing in one’s craft. Maybe I’ll step foot on a college campus again? Whether that happens or not, I’ll continue to read, letting myself be drawn into fantastic tales of fantasy, mystery, and romance. I’ll feel the myriad of emotions when reading beautiful poetry, gaining more knowledge along the journey. And when inspiration moves me, I will write. So, follow your writing passion regardless of credentials or age.
DG: I’d say that is the best advice for new writers afraid to take the plunge. Oh yes, it can be so intimidating when we first begin. But the blog gives us our own platform to experiment with our writing and a great audience to inspire us to keep writing. It’s all about community for us writers. 🙂
Lauren Shares an Excerpt from her story – Ascent
When we reached the top and I looked down that sleek granite dome, I was amazed at what I had achieved. Never underestimate our abilities. On the other side of the dome, Shealor Lake was in full view. We gave our legs a short rest, drank some water, then headed downhill with the enticing pull of the lake’s beauty. As we neared the bottom, my emotions ran wild. I was relieved that we finally made it, but a sudden wave of grief washed over me. We removed our packs and sat on a log for a time-out. I was so overwhelmed that the tears found freedom. I didn’t fight them. I cried for the loss of Dad. I cried for having completed this hike that I didn’t think I was capable of. I would’ve backed out graciously had I known the details.
After a few minutes, I composed myself and looked to the lake. The water, a jeweled phenomenon. It sparkled, inviting us for a swim. While we set up our back-country camp, the orange-hot sun blazed down on us as if we had drastically turned up the thermostat, so the cool lake water soothed our sun-kissed skin. The fact that we were all alone in this canyon full of forest and smooth granite was beyond welcoming. The tranquility offered me the chance to reminisce about Dad and my parents together. The solitude afforded a perfect destination to grieve, think, remember, and cry. Mourning the loss of one parent was difficult enough but losing both felt surreal – a new stage of life had begun.
I hope you all enjoyed getting to know a bit about Lauren, her writing and her new book. Visit Lauren at her blog and at her Amazon author page to discover some of her other books.
Today I’m sharing my recent feature spot I had over at Stevie Turner’s blog where I’m talking a bit about how my book – Twenty Years: After “I Do” came to be. Stevie Turner generously runs an author promotion series every Friday on her blog. Some weeks she offers ‘Click and Run’, where we’re invited to leave a link to a great review for one of our books, and this spotlight feature. Stevie invites authors to submit to be featured. Enjoy reading my post and if you’d like to be featured, follow her submission guidelines listed at the bottom of her post page.
Friday Spotlight – D.G Kaye
Hi all, today the spotlight is on D.G Kaye, a non-fiction author I feel I know very well even though I’ve never met her.
We’ve gone through a few similiar life experiences, and we have the same opinions on many subjects. Reading Debby’s bio below, I’ve often wished I could have been a reporter too, and it’s quite uncanny how much alike we are in so many ways!
I enjoyed reading Debby’s book ‘Twenty Years: After “I Do”, which contains many tips for a successful marriage based on the author’s own twenty year marriage to the love of her life, Gordon, who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.
D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, sharing the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.
When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
Why I write nonfiction
I’ve always been a ‘tell it the way it is’ kind of girl. In fact, I’m pretty sure I should have been a reporter. I’m a nonfiction/memoir writer and no matter how hard I try to get around that by dabbling into the odd fiction writing piece, it always seemed I was writing on factual incidents, so I decided why bother packing it as fiction, why not just own up to it and tell the truth. All my stories have lessons in them that others can take from them. And when a story isn’t about a serious topic, I’ll always try to inject humor whenever I can. Why? Because sometimes we all just need to look for the funny.
About the writing of this book:
Writing this book was a true labor of love. The book stemmed from little things that popped into my head a few years ago when my husband took ill. I was riding a roller coaster of emotions for much of the year with my husband’s health, and it got me thinking about how much had really changed through the years, as his aging was happening well ahead of mine.
I’m not suggesting that time isn’t catching up with me too, but what I mean is that my husband was two decades older than me, and when we first got married, I let that factor slide because there were so many good reasons to marry him. But it’s a learning curve when you have a ringside seat watching your spouse go through situations that become a bit more difficult as the body ages and sickness sometimes takes its toll.
It was an actual statement that my husband made one day that lit up my brain with the book idea. He made a comment out of the blue, “We’ve been together twenty years.” When you read the book, you will understand why that statement spurred the title of the book. And from there, well, it got me thinking about some of the day-to-day activities we do that tend to become altered as one ages, as well as some of the things about the future we don’t normally tend to think about when we’re younger, but become things we’re forced to think about and reckon with.
The basic formula I can share to keep the engines of a marriage running smoothly is to always remember compassion and kindness, listen with your heart, talk about your feelings, be a supportive partner, and don’t forget to include laughter in your life every day!
May/December memoirs. In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break.
When I chose to marry Gordon, I didn’t live in a fantasy world, unconcerned about the future. I didn’t jump in recklessly, thinking life wouldn’t present problems down the road. I wasn’t delusional, thinking, I’ll worry about whatever happens when it happens or Nothing bad is ever going to happen to him. No, I took everything into consideration and thought logically about marrying Gordon, and knew in my heart that the bottom line was that I loved him for all he was and who he was and that love, providing it was reciprocated, would sustain me through whatever came our way.
When I talk about the sacrifices we make in life, I’m referring to sacrifices we make for our marriage, our children, or sometimes just for the sake of peace. But what are we sacrificing? Do we become heroes because we act selflessly by giving into or giving up something to someone, by sacrificing our own happiness for others? Do we sacrifice to appease, or do we sacrifice from the goodness of our hearts?
“Sacrifice” isn’t a simple word. Sacrifice in a marriage isn’t an accolade we should brag about but an act we perform voluntarily for the pure pleasure of giving up something we desire for the sake of someone else’s happiness or need. A healthy relationship involves a give and take from both parties, and if one of those parties isn’t reciprocating, he or she isn’t sacrificing. When we commit to an honest relationship, we realize that selflessness is a main ingredient and part of what strengthens the bond as our relationships develop. We accept that life consists of peaks and valleys, and we sometimes have to give up something with an open heart to accommodate our partners’ needs.
If we’re the selfish type who only take from a relationship what we want and flee when obstacles present themselves, there is no sacrifice, only selfishness. Sacrifice will always be part of a good and healthy relationship because that’s what we do when we love with our whole hearts: We give of ourselves with no complaints or expectations.
So where does the word “sacrifice” fit into my relationship? Am I supposed to say I sacrificed my midlife years because my husband is older now and we’re unable to do many of the same things we once did together in our earlier years? That’s not how a good marriage works. I didn’t sacrifice anything to be with Gordon. We’ve had a wonderful life together and still do. Sure, our age difference can sometimes present challenges, but what marriage doesn’t encounter challenges? Ours are just different. We care about each other and have always been at each other’s sides through the big moments and the small. We support each other’s desires, dreams, and ambitions. We make each other laugh and remember to tell one another “I love you” every day. Our views on certain issues will differ, and sometimes Gordon may not understand my writing life, but he’s proud of me and applauds my accomplishments—and he never complains.
If I’m lost in my work and the dinner hour has passed, he won’t complain but will help himself to a bowl of cereal. My husband is a good sport when it comes to my desires, and he’s always happy to see me happy. That’s how it’s been since the beginning of us, and that says a lot for why we’re still together today.
A good relationship always entails sacrifices. Maintaining a good relationship is like creating a recipe with all the nutritional ingredients and flavor, well simmered to ensure it’s tasteful and fulfilling, and part of that recipe is to be generous with hugs. Hugs are a loving expression of our emotions. Still, to this day, when Gordon makes me laugh with his boyish charm, I see the charisma that attracted me to him twenty years ago and can’t resist hugging him like I would a comforting teddy bear. He is my teddy bear, huggable, lovable, dependable, helpful, and caring. So really, what could I possibly have sacrificed to receive all the gifts I am given?
D.G Kaye beautifully chronicles twenty years of her marriage and along the way encapsulates the heart of unconditional love amid life’s challenges. What I loved so much was her honest retelling of those years, both good and challenging. I found myself nodding again and again while I read as she honed into what the fundamental requirements were to maintain a healthy relationship. Respect, laughter, intimacy and patience are the cornerstones of a solid foundation that can withstand the trials of daily living. This is, or should be required reading for anyone in a relationship whether married or in a partnership. The author touched on so many issues that impact all relationships. This novel is a keeper and one I will return to over and over again. I extend a heartfelt thank you to the author for her candor and the gift to all of us for this remarkable book.
The Sunday Book Review highlights Healing a Spouse’s Grieving Heart by Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, who is a noted author, educator, and grief counselor. This book is a great companion guide for those of us who’ve loved and lost someone. It offers 100 practical ideas to help cope with grief.
Helping widows and widowers learn how to cope with the grief of losing their helpmate, their lover, and perhaps their financial provider, this guide shows them how to find continued meaning in life when doing so seems difficult. Bereaved spouses will find advice on when and how to dispose of their mate’s belongings, dealing with their children, and redefining their role with friends and family. Suggestions are provided for elderly mourners, young widows and widowers, unmarried lovers, and same-sex partners. The information and comfort offered apply to individuals whose spouse died recently or long ago.
My 5 Star Review:
Comfort for the grieving spouse’s heart told in bite-sized, often one page chapters. Easy to digest as a complete read through, or as a night table book where you could keep it handy to open a page for a bit of inspiration.
The book offers short and comforting words and suggestions and short to-the- point topics and advice to live by. An easy read that had my head nodding in acknowledgement to much of it. This book offers good tools to help wade through the grief journey.
Dr. Wolfelt offers us 100 Practical Ideas in one page chunks as he shares a common issue mourners face with uplifting advice on how to deal with those moments. I will share quotes I felt poignant, and I’ll add my own thoughts from my own experience in response:
“The death of a spouse tears through every layer of your existence.” – Fact.
“You will grow to learn that you can mourn and live at the same time.”– I’m beginning to learn this.
“The loss of a partner is among life’s most wrenching and challenging experiences.” – 1000000%
The doctor tells us “The journey of grief is a long and difficult one. It is also a journey for which there is no preparation.” – Fact!
We’ll learn that feelings of shock, numbness, and disbelief are nature’s way of protecting us from the full reality of the death of a loved one. Yes! Thank God for the numbness and denial! We’re advised to reach out to someone when we need to share our pain. Good advice for sure, but for some like myself, I don’t like to reach out and burden others. I wish some would pick up a phone and check up on me – if nothing other than common courtesy.
Reminders about who we are now after we are left as half from one. The arduous and painful work will begin when we assume our own new single identity.
Here’s a bigee for me: “Widows often tell me how surprised and hurt they feel when friends fall away after the death of a spouse. I found out who my friends really are,” they say. – This is my number one glaring headlight into my new life – the very, very few who are now in my life. Death surely tells a whole story.
“Caring for someone who is sick is physically as well as emotionally draining.” – Understatement! There is no pain like watching your beloved die before you daily.
I’m pretty sure I’m here: “You may not know what to do with yourself now that your days are no longer consumed by caring for your spouse.” – Yes, not only our world has been shaken, stirred and turned upside down, but now we’re also out of routine, another sense of loss – that we are no longer needed.
“Many people have lost touch with the gift of family. Your friends may come and go, but family, as they say, is forever.” – I’m sorry, but this part actually made me laugh. Let me rephrase that: Your family may come and go, but friends are forever. I’m a living testament to this.
“If you harbor bad feelings about your partner’s medical care, find a way to express those feelings.” – Oh I’ve expressed my feelings loud and clear. Covid killed my husband and he didn’t even have it. He couldn’t be assessed in hospital during Covid, so like the many more who died because of Covid, without having Covid will be numbers we will be receiving in time. My husband was a victim of not being able to get assessed early enough in hospital. That is Fact.
“Being without someone to hug and hold is often a big part of their grief. You may have kissed and hugged your spouse every day. You probably slept side by side. Losing this kind of physical intimacy can feel devastating.” – No kidding! The good doctor hit the motherlode here. We hugged and kissed many times a day. Of course we slept not always side by side, but spooned and tucking my always cold feet under his legs. There is no replacement. It’s loss upon loss us grievers will continue to endure.
“It’s not unusual for mourners to save clothing, jewelry, books, locks of hair, and other personal items. You may even want to wear your husband’s old sweatshirt or sleep with your wife’s robe.” -Some of the small comforts in my own grief. I gave away most of hubby’s things and kept what was most sacred to me: Special photos, his gold chain, now worn with his wedding ring hanging from it. His slippers by the bed. His favorite sweatshirts. And his love that is always around.
“Should you still wear a wedding ring when you’re a widow, or shouldn’t you?” – Naturally, there is no one answer. But if you’re asking me, I will be wearing my wedding ring til the day I die – no matter what may come.
“Griefbursts” – This is a perfect word for the unprepared for moments where merely a kind word, hug or song can set off the waterworks.
Throughout this book, the good doctor shares some good advice on things to do to get back into community, suggests when it may be time to talk to a counselor, join a support group, among many other suggestions.
Another quote I found resonated big-time with me was: “You may lack the energy as well as the desire to participate in activities you used to find pleasurable. The fancy term for this is ‘anhedonia,’ which is the lack of ability to experience pleasure in things you previously found pleasurable.” – I’m so there. I don’t like to be out long, and like to dash right back home when out for a time. What I need is a holiday away from my environment.
“If you choose to marry, know that you will never get over your grief for the spouse who died. You will always love your previous spouse and, even years and decades later, you will always feel some grief over his or her death. This is normal and necessary.” – I absolutely couldn’t agree more. Real love never goes away. Why would I even consider remarrying? My husband filled my heart and soul. That doesn’t go away. Marrying anyone else could only make them second best, and who would want to be that?
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m thrilled to be reviewing Sally Cronin’s new release, fresh off the press – Life is Like a Mosaic – Random Fragments in Harmony.
Sally is known for her wonderful and heartfelt shortstories and has created this book full of syllabic poetry and beautiful images to highlight her words in story written through her perspective of life. Later in the book, Sally invites us into a peek at her own life – triumphs and challenges written in rhyming prose.
“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” Arthur Brisbane 1911.
An image offers an opportunity to see endless possibilities depending on the viewer’s perspective. Where some might see beauty and joy, others imagine sadness and loss of hope.
In this collection, images and syllabic poetry are brought together to tell a story based on the author’s perspective. The poetry explores our human experiences such as love, happiness, hope, aging, friendship, new beginnings, dreams and loss.
The world around us is an amazing playground and source of all our essential needs as well as sensory experiences that bring wonder into our lives. What lies beyond the horizon? What surprises will we discover as a garden bursts into bloom? Where do the night creatures live?
At the end of the collection there are some longer poems celebrating memories of the author’s life of travel, teenage exploits and love of food!
My 5 Star Review:
This author is well-known for her heartfelt short stories and poetry alike. Haiku and Tanka syllabic poetry along with beautiful images are used to express stories about life and nature. Sally Cronin knows how to take the reader in, even in short prose, leaving profound messages to savor and to come back and revisit again and again. She touches on several aspects on life and the human condition with stories about aging, friendship, legacy, birthdays, world peace and more.
In the second part of the book, Cronin treats us with some of her own ‘slices of life’, where she shares tidbits in rhyming prose about some of her own challenges and victories in her life, and the lessons that come along with them with her observations. I enjoyed every single story, but I will point out a few that resonated with me along with my short summations:
Our Legacy – A reminder that being kind will add to our legacies
Silver Lining to Isolation – A good reminder that clocks shouldn’t decide how we use our time.
Advancing Years – The passing of time and what we have to show for it in the end
The Day After – A peaceful day of reckoning when there is no more war
The Air – Giving air a breath
Friendship – Power and weakness
Birthdays – Marked by wrinkles and laughter lines, a life well-lived
Loose Lips – Those friends who can keep secrets is part of a life well-lived
Ageism – Those who are quick to forget where much of invention originated
Scepticism – Otherwise interpreted as ‘fake news’, scattered truths, misleading media, and as the author states, ”planned outcomes”. “Politics, where truth is scattered on the wind.”
Life’s Progression – The marking of time by learning and love
Thanksgiving – Not the holiday, but every day is good for thanks
Immortality-Writers – What we leave behind
Yearning – For the world that once was, pre-pandemic.
The author shares some of her ‘slices of life’ experiences in rhyming prose:
Childhood Memories – Growing up in Ceylon
Summer Holidays – At the beach
Rebellion in Frome – Age 16, the author defies her mother and gets away with it
The Leftovers – Love and acceptance
Farewell to Colourful Friends – Going back to her roots – pun intended.
As I mentioned earlier in this review, this author can tell big stories in minimal words, always encompassing compassion and goodness in her stories and messages. Recommended reading!