November 16th, 2017

My Dinner Party (or, What Martha Stewart Never Talked About)

At last! After nearly a decade of living with my ugly ‘80’s kitchen, I was able to finance a remodel. Sure, it was three months of doing dishes in the bathroom sink while construction was underway, but finally I had my gorgeous kitchen and was in the mood to celebrate! What better way than to throw a dinner party for friends from my women’s group? It would be SO “Better Homes and Gardens”! And to be honest—amid all my whining during the building phase, I had somehow let it slip that I would have them over when it was done. My big mouth, getting me in trouble again…

Determined and delusional, I committed myself to the event. Never mind the fact that other than cooking meals for me, my boyfriend, and my daughter, and throwing Easter Egg Hunts and pizza parties for my kids’ birthdays each year, I had never singlehandedly made an entire meal for multiple guests in my home. Besides that, I hate cooking!

But any moron can follow a recipe, right? Little did I know that I would later compare my well-intentioned soiree to “giving birth.” Should any of you be toying with the dinner party idea, I beg you— read my helpful hints before proceeding:

  1.  When making dinner for a group, choose dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. This way, unlike me, you won’t be stuck at the stove while your guests stand around, watching you cook. For my main entrée, I chose Sundried Tomato Chicken Spaghetti. After all, according to the food stylist’s website (“food stylist”? That should have clued me in right there), this was an “easy” chicken recipe. The problem was, the sauce had to be prepared right alongside the boiling of the spaghetti. No cooking ahead on this one! I was torn between talking to my friends and cubing heirloom tomatoes. Trust me, both the sauce and my conversation were sub-par.
  2. Read the recipe carefully beforehand. Somehow, I missed the instruction about grilling the chicken breast using a “grilling pan,” even though this was set out clearly in Step 1. What the heck was a grilling pan, anyway? I rummaged through my pans and grabbed what I now know to be a roasting pan, laid it across two stove-top burners, and found a leftover grill from an old toaster oven. Presto, a grilling pan! Not really. I managed to grill the chicken, but also the pan, amid clouds of smoke and the smell of burnt fat and metal. I knew it was bad when my bichon, Oscar, who is normally obsessed with food and immovable from the kitchen during any type of cooking, crept out of the room with his tail down.
  3. Wear an apron! I used to think aprons were unnecessary and somewhat dorky. Wrong again! My plan had been to touch up my hair and makeup, and change to a nicer outfit right before my guests arrived. But once the cooking got underway, I was glued to the kitchen for fear of blowing up the meal! So, in addition to being completely frazzled, I had steam-flattened hair, an oily glow to my skin, smelled like grilled chicken, and was wearing portions of the menu…

A few more lessons…don’t lend your boyfriend your mixer and not get it back. I wound up whipping the cream by hand for my dessert, and after the slog of getting the main course on the table, used up what few molecules of vitality I had left. Forget coffee with dessert—I was too busy whipping cream to make it! Another thing, if you have a guest or guests with very specific dietary restrictions, don’t go overboard trying to tailor the meal to these individuals. I was concerned about my friend who has food-allergy-related migraines and eats only “whole, raw foods,” but she wound up being a no-show anyway because—you guessed it, she was in bed all day with a migraine.

As the dust (and cooking grease) settles, I realize my last, and probably most important lesson from having a dinner party: when entertaining, don’t undervalue the huge merit of caterers, take-out, and potluck! Note to self on that. Bon appétit!

July 29th, 2017

Strange Chemistry – The Stories Your Chemistry Teacher Wouldn’t Tell You

How about a little game of chemistry trivia…

  • What is the most addictive substance?
  • What is the most commonly used explosive in North America?
  • Why should vegans avoid Reese’s Pieces candy?
  • How can Visine® kill you?
  • What is the only known aphrodisiac?
  • Which drug has the worst withdrawal symptoms?

How many of the above can you answer (no fair Googling…)? These are only a few of the odd-and- intriguing topics discussed by Dr. Steven Farmer in his new book, Strange Chemistry—The Stories Your Chemistry Teacher Wouldn’t Tell You. Dr. Farmer, a tenured chemistry professor at Sonoma State University, shows you how a subject that might have bored you in high school – chemistry – shows up everywhere in our daily lives. There’s loads of cool information you never knew, I guarantee…ranging from the chemical basis of illicit drugs, to everyday products that can kill us; from some surprising (eew!) ingredients of ordinary food, to the low-down on explosives and radioactivity. And yes, it does get a bit dark, for those of you who like a little thrill with your isopentenyl diphosphate and kermesic acid.

I had the extreme pleasure of editing Steve’s book, which you can purchase by clicking on the link below. Get it for your kid in high school. Who knows? The way this book gets the reader glued, they might just decide to become a chemistry major!

May 19th, 2017

A Solid for my Single Girlfriends


I began this blog thinking the title might be “What I Love About Being Single” but realized I wouldn’t be entirely honest in saying I LOVE being single. Like almost everyone, I always hoped to find lasting love in a partner—but here I am, over 50 with no partner! WTF?! How did this happen? I was supposed to be celebrating my 30-year wedding anniversary surrounded by our loving children, looking forward to the annual summer trip to Europe with my hubby… NOT SO! Instead, I’m divorced, coming up for air after two post-divorce, crash-and-burn, long-term love affairs (the last one was a doozie, let me tell you!), one daughter who still doesn’t speak to me 10 years after I left an unhappy marriage with her dad, and no time for a vacation because I work for myself.

Now, I will be entirely honest. This whole “relationship” thing pretty much sucks! Obviously, the first few months are awesome: the sparkle of new romance, the flattery and attention, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling, and of course…amazing sex (my memory is getting foggy on this last one). Red flags? Please! Doesn’t every single person have “red flags”? Someone who doesn’t have any…well, isn’t this, in itself, a red flag?

Okay, so I didn’t believe the guy who told me upfront he was an alcoholic… And certainly, I was shocked by the one who secretly released a fire extinguisher all over my car because I pissed him off (I saw telltale footprints from him and his little chihuahua Uma in the powder). And then there was the one who was seeing several other women behind my back (and doing strange things with them involving coffee grounds. Don’t ask!). Looking back, it’s feasible that I’ve had some challenges in the picking area. What can I say? All the above “eligible” bachelors were damn cute, charming, sexy, and fun. What’s a girl gotta do to be with a non-insane, honest guy who isn’t extremely homely, boring, ignorant, and/or pot-bellied?

Since it’s probably too late for me anyway, I figure the least I can do is pass on the wisdom from my years of fun-but-futile frolicking:

  1. Watch out for guys who don’t answer your text messages for, like, a day or two. Talk about being near the bottom of their priority list!
  2. If someone says they drink (or smoke, or eat, or gamble, etc.) too much, but that they’re “trying to stop,” this stuff generally gets far worse before it gets better, if it ever does.
  3. If someone likes to be alone more than they like to be with you, start making really good friends with yourself.
  4. If someone avoids (at all costs) talking about your future together, you’re likely dealing with one of the zillions of commitment-phobes out there. They can be really clever and drop little “hints” to keep stringing you along, or silently nod their heads as YOU talk about your future together. The truth is in the action (or lack thereof).
  5. To highlight that last point, if a person says one thing and does another, believe what they DO.
  6. Beware adult males who live with their parent(s) in the name of “taking care of them.”
  7. Beware loner types. There’s always a reason they’re loners, and it’s usually not a good one. Let’s not forget the Unabomber…
  8. If the only time you hear anything about a guy’s inner thoughts and feelings is when you’re in bed together, he may be a maestro at sex, but have real problems with intimacy.
  9. If someone you’re with digs porn magazines – “soft”, “hard”, whatever – or porn websites, don’t be naïve (like me) thinking, Don’t all men read “Playboy”?
  10. If there’s “another woman” in his life, and she happens to be his spoiled, grown daughter who doesn’t think you’re good enough for her daddy, get out fast!

These are just some of the things I’ve learned…love is a battlefield, as the song says. Believe what I say, though—I chill on my bed with my bichon, Oscar, and my kitty, Turnip, and we hash these things out. Fur is very absorptive, by the way. Thankfully, these two besties of mine are the only ones in my life right now who have excessive facial hair.

January 19th, 2017

Subtext: What are People Really Saying?


Subtext (noun): in literature, the unspoken thoughts and motives of characters.

Your mother-in-law calls and then sends you six text messages, insisting you drop everything and call Verizon on her behalf because of an additional $20 charge on her cell phone bill. This occurs, of course, while you are on a hiking trip in Sedona. (I won’t lie…this actually happened to me, and I’m still angry about it.) Or she calls and texts five times over the course of two days in December, “worried about [her] taxes,” and she needs you to call back right away. December?!

The subtext as it applies here to my mother-in-law would go something like this: I am not feeling important or loved, or getting enough attention right now, so I have found a legitimate reason why you need to come and fix those uncomfortable feelings I’m having.

Literary scholars (and possibly my editor) might argue that this is not a perfectly correct example of subtext, but I’m using this term to make a point about motives that underlie someone’s words or actions which are implied, but not stated; or in the case of my mother-in-law, not even consciously known by the person herself!

How do you tell the difference between a real cry for help and a disguised motive? One way is to offer a solution, which they promptly reject, e.g. “Mom, I will give you $20 when I get home—this problem is not worth the price of anyone’s time.” (This was met with a very irate response about the value of money, and not “giving it away” to a thief.)

Subtexts show up all the time in life, like when your boss gets unhinged and screams at you about something really trivial. It could be he or she feels you don’t respect them enough. On the other hand, it could be that something troubling is happening in their home life…that, or basically any of a million other things that have nothing to do with your borrowing their favorite red Swingline® stapler. Another example might be when your boyfriend/girlfriend loses it because you didn’t take out the trash. In this instance, it’s almost never about the trash.

So what do you do?

Attending to the surface issue the other person is complaining about can help, but usually just delays their next dramatic episode. Sometimes, if you can figure out what that person really wants or needs, you can address that and help them resolve the issue. Unfortunately, it’s frequently difficult—if not impossible—to talk openly about someone else’s “stuff,” as they themselves have buried it and are unfortunately acting it out, which is a common way people avoid dealing with issues. If you can calmly discuss “what’s really going on” with the individual, you’re very lucky. In my experience, however, it’s silly of me to expect another to be rational about their irrationality!

I have found that compassion—both with them and with myself—is vital in this type of situation. Trying to cooperate and throwing in some encouragement, e.g. taking out the trash and telling your partner how much you appreciate their contribution to the household chores, is helpful and can sometimes bridge a stressful moment. In the case of my mother-in-law, I remind myself that women of her generation were socialized to believe that their needs weren’t as important as the male members of their households. They won approval by taking care of others, but as far as their own needs, they were generally forced to rely on subtext. Nevertheless, acting “helpless” when this is not the case, is a very common strategy among aging mothers and grandmothers.

All of this said, allowing others to control our emotions and behavior only brings negative consequences, one of which is preventing that person from learning to meet their needs in healthier, more direct ways. For us, it becomes a question of boundaries and realizing that we are not responsible for “fixing” others’ issues and challenges. Remember that no one of us has to accept hurtful or abusive behavior from someone else. Responding to others to the extent that we’re willing and able, and then stepping back (which may mean ignoring excessive text messages or phone calls, walking away from someone who is screaming at you, etc.) may be necessary to protect and care for ourselves.

Depending on who you are dealing with, it may feel like we are being “selfish” or irresponsible if we choose to put our sanity before another’s demands for attention or whatever it is they want. However, if we continuously place others’ problems before our own, we risk losing who WE are and being distracted from managing our own goals and dreams, issues, and well-being.

The bottom line is that we only have power over ourselves, and by keeping our focus where it should be—on ourselves and our own lives—we will be better able to determine when and how to help others. Inner peace is our birthright, remember! If you are willing, the Universe will help you day by day, sometimes moment by moment, to find a positive balance between loving yourself and loving others.

November 20th, 2016

The 100’s Richard Harmon—What It Takes to Make It Happen

To be a “seasoned” actor before the age of 25 is nothing less than amazing, considering the sheer numbers of would-be’s vying for spots on the big screen and television—especially TV series lasting longer than a season. Richard Harmon, best known as dodgy, relentless John Murphy in The 100, one of the 37 television productions and 14 films to his credit already, seems to have the formula.

Born in 1991 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Richard was raised around the entertainment industry. His parents are director Allan Harmon and producer Cynde Harmon, and actress Jessica Harmon is his older sister. Obviously his family influenced his career choice, but beyond the benefit of their experience and encouragement, the rest was all Richard. In fact, one gets the sense that he’s worked all the harder to prove himself in his own light.

Making his acting debut at the age of 10 in the 2002 television series Jeremiah, Richard didn’t decide to pursue acting as a career until he was about 15. He tells us, “I’m incredibly grateful for those first few years of my career. I look back on them as practice, sort of…they were getting me ready for when I truly started putting my effort into this.”

With his prominent brow, chiseled features, and huge, deep-set eyes, Richard already conveys significant intensity just through his looks, and with no formal acting training, his giftedness as an actor seems completely organic. Whether playing Murphy, a character you hate until you find yourself admiring him, or William, a tense young man eternally condemned to replay the scene of killing both his parents in Cruel and Unusual, or Alex, a sightless yet determined track runner in If I Had Wings (for which he received Canadian Screen Award and Leo Award Best Actor nominations), Richard seems committed to giving his all. Known to simultaneously juggle multiple projects, he states, “I put a lot of stress on myself to succeed in this field. At the same time, though, that’s one of my favorite things about the job…I would never want that stress to go away.”

As Richard continues to grow with his career, we see not only increasing depth to his acting, but more maturity in his perspective. “It’s not just about doing the acting,” he tells us. “There are other facets of the job that I view as equally important. You always have to come prepared, be kind, and never cause distractions to the other members of the crew doing their job. There is nothing I love more than being on set, but my family played a very important role in [my] understanding that at the end of the day, this is my job.”

Fortunately, there are distractions. Richard’s other loves are Notre Dame football, Mario Kart video games, Bob Dylan, Sponge Bob, wolves, tattoos (he has five, including a werewolf on his back) and occasionally lavender ice cream. Not to mention (but we will) beautiful women, with sources linking him to actress Ciara Hanna.

It’s pretty apparent that Richard’s friends, especially the ones who share his acting passion, are a major influence in his life. Asked about what inspires him, he says, “Music, other actors, mainly my friends. I have been lucky enough to surround myself with some of the hardest-working people I have ever met… some of them are close personal friends of mine. Any time I see a great performance in any facet of art, it inspires me to do the same for someone else. If I can get someone to feel inspired through my performances…that’s what it’s all about, really.”

Perhaps the most important part of his success—applicable to any career—is willingness to work hard. Says Richard, “…any time I start slacking off, all I have to do is look at those around me, and it reminds me that the second I start to take things a little easier, there is going to be someone else who is willing to put in the work, that is gunning for my spot.” Richard advises young aspiring actors to have patience and not to compare themselves with others. “Everyone’s path is different,” he states. “You just gotta keep following down yours.”

Currently, Richard says, he’s been trying to find projects that mean a lot to him personally, although admitting this is probably the dream of every actor. In his words, “If there is a role that really clicks with something inside you, it’s like you don’t even need to try when you’re performing it…you know you’re not going to give anything less than the best you have.” Given Richard’s track record already, we can’t wait to see what his future brings.

August 1st, 2016


Mother little girl 8-1-16

Mary was born, a blessing from above, when the Great Depression had just begun.

With food and money running low, being a child wasn’t always fun.


A pretty young girl, determined and bright…gracious and demure, a caring friend.

She followed a winding path toward, somewhere she’d be content in the end.


Forever loyal to her faith, Mary prayed to every saint.

And who should come and turn her head? None other than Henry, who made her heart faint!


Mary was truly ahead of her time—mother, wife, and working too.

Commitment to family and support from Harry, it was these that carried her through.


Reading mysteries in the kitchen, crunchy cookies and coffee beside her.

Rochester cold and deer so bold, fewer now were things that tried her.


Daughters and mothers, tough combination, love is often lost in translation.

But a family built on belief in God, endures through trials to celebration.


Flowers and snow, and Harry beside her, Mary needed little more,

Compassionate, giving, happy, and peaceful…things she possessed, not bought in a store.


Mary has gone to a Heavenly space, her beauty now shines in that glorious place.

Free from pain and worry and harm, she’s dancing for joy to songs of Grace.


Never prideful, ever meek, kindness glowed in her so bright.

A nature like Mary’s so precious and rare—all we wish now is to reflect your light!

June 21st, 2016

The Love Budget – Do Your Deposits Cover Your Withdrawals?

Joe's Dollar

Ah, love. How do you define it, much less measure it? When I think about it, I flash on Valentine hearts, tiny purple wildflowers, skin-on-skin hugs and holding hands, a calm inner conviction that life is good after all… (Have you ever noticed that when you try to describe love, your words always come out sounding like a poem?) But as ethereal and intangible as it may seem, love is very real and actually far more precious than things touched, held, or counted…like money, houses, and cars, for instance. And lucky us—as human beings, we have the capacity to give and receive this extraordinary commodity. Many even spend their whole lives searching for it!

Although love isn’t quantified on any type of universal scale or psychic adding machine, it’s pretty obvious that some people have more of it in their lives than others. The whole discussion gets even more complicated when you consider all the different types of love, the relative qualities of each kind, what attracts it, what blocks it, why some people seem to need more than others, and on and on…

In my own experience, the only crystal clear thing about love is that the more of it I have in my life, the happier I am. Being practical – I’m a single mom, after all – the issues of love and relative happiness seem clearer when I envision them ledger-style in an overall “Love Budget.” According to this system, love that goes out to others and/or the world makes up what I loosely call “withdrawals,” which are balanced by “deposits,” when people or other sources shine love on me. Confused? Okay, here’s a breakdown of the accounts in my own Budget:

1.   The Self-Love Account – For me, this column in my love ledger is hands-down the most important! Self-Love must be kept consistently funded, because other accounts in my Budget (see below) often need transfers from this one to keep them operational. The great thing about the Self-Love account is that I can add to it in so many wonderful ways: taking care of myself by exercising, getting enough sleep and healthy food, and giving myself little pleasures such as a good book, a good movie, a good burrito, or a good massage! Also, ironically, when I help someone else without expectation of reward or reciprocation, I find a surprise deposit has been made to my Self-Love account. Basically, when I treat myself and others with respect and compassion, this column is in the black, where I need it to be.

For me, another critical source for replenishing Self-Love is connection with – actually, complete reliance upon – God. When I put effort into improving my Spiritual relationship, there is an amazing surge of love that can raise the balance to near-overflow!

2.   The Family Account – This account reflects love activity with family members such as aunts, grandparents, nieces, siblings, and cousins, i.e. extended family members whom I don’t live with, but who are important to me and with whom I share many events in my life.

Deposits and withdrawals in this column are pretty consistent, owing to the fact that this account has been around a long time, and I’m really familiar with its typical dynamic. I know which family members to expect deposits from – thanks, sissy – and which ones usually require a disproportionate emotional payout. Actually, it all balances out pretty well, because if funds get low in this account, I start spending more time with the payers than with those who like to take oversize withdrawals.

3.  The Children Account – The balance in this account has to be continually funded by transfers from Self-Love, because it could be decades and maybe never before you see some real love deposits from your children. As disappointing as that sounds, keep in mind: it is a parent’s job to love their children, not the other way around. However, I will add that there is some positive funding here from the satisfaction you get watching your children grow into healthy, responsible, independent adults who manage their own budgets successfully.

4.  The Friends Account – My basic goal in this particular account is to have it include friends who deposit and withdraw in roughly equal proportions. Of course, this follows along with the concept of the best friendships being those that include a healthy balance of give and take.

When there are people in this account making consistent major withdrawals with little to no deposits, I sometimes have to cut off future transactions with them. They can easily start eating their way into my Self-Love account, and the resulting resentment has Budget-blowing potential.

5.  The Significant Other Account – Unfortunately, the balance in this account – for me, anyway – has been pretty volatile. This is probably owing to the fact that falling in love makes me stupid, and I wind up making vast payouts with little coming back from the payee. If this sounds like you, watch out! Love blindness can be similar to an out-of-control spending binge, and even your Self-Love repository can go bust in the fall-out. For some of us, shutting this account down for a while is the only solution.

So there you have it – my Love Budget. How does yours look? Be aware that a Love Budget is also subject to the influence of outside economic conditions such as mental or physical illness, addiction, codependency issues, and unresolved emotional baggage. Nonetheless, everyone can benefit from working on those Self-Love deposits, and the best part is, we can always add to this balance without having to depend on anyone other than little ‘ol us.

(image courtesy of
April 25th, 2016

Guest Blog from Jill Thomas, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (CCHT)


Jill Thomas, CCHT

The Heartbreakingly Easy Problem to Solve

by Jill Thomas, CCHT

One of the most difficult parts of being a practitioner is seeing a client fail. When I say “fail,” I’m not talking about the client not reaching their goal, as in losing the amount of weight they wanted to lose, or achieve the result they wanted. I don’t consider these situations as failures, but rather as part of learning and sometimes adjusting the approach used.

Failure to me is when a client cannot or will not see the value of investing the time, expense, and work it takes to create lasting healing for themselves. They apparently don’t understand that they are worth the effort it takes to heal, whether to change their weight/body size or shed destructive habits and attitudes. Sadly, this happens all the time.

One example was when Trish, a prospective client, contacted me because of a challenging yet totally solvable problem. She was having trouble staying connected in a long-distance relationship, and also suffered extreme separation anxiety. Whenever her boyfriend would leave, an intense sadness would come over her, along with the fear that she would never see him again. This made her very clingy with him when he had to go somewhere, and she would insist they schedule their next date right then and there to allay her anxiety. Basically, Trish said she was a “wreck” whenever her boyfriend went away.

Knowing how difficult this issue can be, and how destructively those feelings can affect anyone’s quality of life, I was happy that Trish contacted me, because I knew I could help her. Her problem is actually one of the easier issues to resolve using the tool of hypnosis, and I knew Trish would feel a lot better even after just one session.

After scheduling an appointment with Trish, my mind was already busy planning out her protocol, anticipating some of the conversation, and feeling happy knowing she would see improvement very quickly. I could see the light at the end of her tunnel of pain, and it wasn’t an idiot holding a match!

Unfortunately, Trish never made it in for help. At her appointment time, she called me complaining that I didn’t “warn her” about San Diego traffic (doesn’t everyone who drives know there may be traffic?), that she would arrive too late at this point, and that all of this was my fault. She then added that she thought I charged too much, my intake forms were too long, and a couple of other silly, untrue “reasons” why she wouldn’t/couldn’t come. In spite of all her angry justification, I knew that probably because of the same issues that caused her trouble in the first place, Trish was backing away from her own healing. I was sure she did this in many areas of her life—blaming others for her problems, complaining about the cost of things, and probably not taking any help or advice offered that could really help her. Maybe she and I weren’t a match for treatment, but our conversation told me that on some level, she wasn’t ready. Trish cancelled her appointment and never called again.

It broke my heart, as it always does when this type of thing happens in my practice, that Trish was one more person in the world suffering needlessly and at her own hands. Her pain doubtlessly affected those around her, too…her friends, coworkers, the family watching her suffer, and maybe even a person she cut off on the freeway because her anger towards her boyfriend turned into road rage. Her boyfriend was likely the most affected, and whether or not they were a good match for each other, it was almost a guarantee that their relationship was already, or certainly would be, sorely tested by her issues.

I’ve talked with many practitioners about people flaking out on their own healing, and not surprisingly, it’s a very common drawback in the therapy field. Patients either stop showing up for the appointments they make for themselves, or stop treatment too early when there is still a lot more work to do. Sometimes they say they can’t afford treatment, which is always a ready excuse. My experience over the years, however, is that when people are ready to heal, they find a way to make it happen no matter what, even if that means sacrificing some material comfort for a short time, finding child care, or rearranging their schedule so they can keep their appointments. For those who are not ready, any excuse to cancel is used, and if none is available, the inner saboteur creates one.

Our egos hate change, and will fight like heck to keep the status quo, even if it’s a lousy one. Change – even beneficial change – can be hard because it requires us to grow, shift, and create different habits around the new way of being. Even if something isn’t good, such as being in a bad relationship, there is a certain degree of comfort in it because it’s familiar.

I have to face this with clients all the time and it stings, not so much because of loss of business – although I love what I do and being busy – but because I know that society at large is made better when someone gets healed. The reverse is also unfortunately true.

If you only get one thing from this book, I hope it is this: Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t let money, your or your kids’ schedules, “life,” or whatever obstacle you run across, keep you from the quality of living you deserve. Life goes on whether you are healthy and whole or not, so you may as well get healed! If you consider what you spend your money on, why wouldn’t you pay to get help for the most important person in you and your loved ones’ world—you?

There are few things in this world that can’t be made better through creative solutions. Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health are the most important things to attend to, for your own benefit and that of this world we all share. Remember that no matter how things may “seem” at any given moment, you are loved, special, and extremely important! There is something on this planet that you, and only you, can do. Value yourself enough to heal the wounds that block you from sharing your unique contribution.

April 16th, 2016

My Sacred Space

I lie on my soft bed and feel my dog’s warm, furry weight plop down next to me with heavy contentment. I close my eyes and go to my Sacred Space.

I know I am safe and loved here, in this beautiful place. I am not alone because God is here, filling the space with light and love and peace. Here I see things of life that bring me th006e most joy, things simple and free to eyes that see them. Here there is dazzling sunlight in a perfect sky, next to the warm, golden glow within a pretty, curtained bedroom. Bright flowers of every color dot the sky and green land, the breathless frailty of their perfect petals looking like little pieces of Heaven against the blue.



I see white Mission walls and bright mustard fields looking like blurry brushstrokes of yellow on green. Bees hum in the hanging tendrils of a Pepperwood tree, as shadows of clouds move across the bare distant hills leading to the sea. I run easily past a field of shimmering diamonds across the ocean as a salty breeze touches my skin.





There are things to be done and I know I will do them…later. There are favorite burritos to be eaten, and movies to watch, and words to be written, and people to talk to.


There is love to be given and 0thers to help if I can. There is me all alone and waiting for the gentle push of God, where to go next. It is so lovely here I don’t want to open my eyes, but I must. The real world awaits, but… more and more overlaps and intertwines with my Sacred Space every day, until my life here ends and another begins.


November 30th, 2015

The Down ‘n Dirty on Copyediting

Though definitely an art, writing differs from painting, sculpture, and virtually any other form of visual art in one significant way: it has a lot more rules. No matter how impressive or interesting a book or other written work may appear at first glance, if the rules of language are ignored, the piece fails. Like any craft requiring practice and precision, writing has basic standards of grammar, organization, and syntax that must be second nature to an author before they attempt to embellish with pretty adjectives, artful analogies, inventive ideas, compelling characters, or riveting action.

As a self-proclaimed defender of the English language, I am passionate about upholding its conventions. The rules are in place for a reason: to support the basic goal of writing itself, which is to convey ideas and information clearly and efficiently. Published writing that lacks proper mechanics miseducates the reader, leading to continued degradation of the art form! Given my attitude on this, know that any work I am asked to copy-edit is going to have usage errors weeded out and recultivated so that the garden of your writing is free from distracting pests. To this end, I put forth the following:

  1. I will change the words you have written. Although this would appear fairly obvious if I am copy-editing your work, many authors become quite offended if their work is corrected to conform to rules of grammar, syntax, and logic. For example, if you use the same word over and over within a short section of your narrative – one of the most common errors I encounter in peoples’ writing – I will eliminate the redundancy. However, in doing so, I may need to completely alter or omit whole sentences, which will make it seem like I’ve rewritten the part where it occurs. And quite frankly, I have.
  1. I will change the words you have written, and I won’t discuss it with you first. With many of my clients, there is an expectation that my edits are all suggestive, up for debate and discussion, and subject to some sort of “author authorization.” No. Unless I’m working with you as a writing coach, my edits are based upon my knowledge of the language and my experience as a professional writer. I am the first to admit that like all writers, I am continually learning more about effective writing; however, if you are hiring me to edit your work, the assumption is that I am more skilled in the language than you. If you don’t like an edit I’ve made, simply change it back…at your own risk.
  1. I don’t agree that poor use of the English language qualifies as a literary “voice.” Of course, writing is full of artistic license, taken at the expense of perfect grammar, but sometimes necessary to tell a story or add particular emphasis. Nonetheless, this should be done with discretion. Keep in mind that you’re not allowed to break rules until you’re a perfect master of them. This may eliminate some of your sentence fragments, run-on sentences, excessive interjections, and nouns preceded by four adjectives.
  1. I might kill your precious darlings. Writers have varying degrees of sensitivity to criticism, and writing is a process of creating something to which authors become emotionally attached…often overly attached. Sometimes, phraseology that they think is their cleverest construct yet – e.g. cute metaphors using peculiar or antiquated words – is actually distracting to a reader and serves to detract from the overall piece. If I remove one of these “darlings,” as they are (and oddly so, in my opinion) termed in the writing world, many authors instantly become offended and conclude that I’m a hack. One author wrote: “The apartment was in a warren of old apartments two blocks off of Prince Edward Road.” In a sample edit, I changed this to: “The apartment was within a cluster of older complexes two blocks off Prince Edward Road.” I think taking out “warren” was the reason the writer backed out on our working together. Really, though, the image of rabbits was just too much for me!
  1. Quality writing takes time. Although an editing estimate of several hundred dollars for a 40,000-word piece may sound pricey, authors would do well to consider the number of man-hours I put into modifying, and at times rewriting, their work! Copy-editing is generally a slow and pain-staking process, because the end product, in my mind, must be “perfect,” i.e. publication-ready. This level of quality is possible only through a close and comprehensive journey through each word of your work. Given the time commitment, my fees are more than reasonable.
  1. Honesty and reasonableness are the key factors in my work with writers. My prospective clients give me a sample of their writing, and I edit and return this portion in order to demonstrate the types of changes I would make on their project as a whole, should we decide to work together. In this way, I am also able to see what level of editing is required – substantive, or heavy, medium, or light copy-editing – and thereby give them a fee estimate based on the amount of time and effort that will be involved on my part. My intent is to provide excellent writing at the most reasonable price possible. Believe me, if money were my main objective, I would NOT be a writer/editor. Fortunately, writing is my passion.

My other passion, however, is not to be greedy, arrogant, or competitive. I am willing to discuss my fees and special time-frames, and occasionally lend advice on publishing options or why I made certain edits (to a limited extent, as mentioned above, unless I’m coaching you). As with any type of calling, working as a writer/editor means I have a personal stake in assisting others and ensuring their satisfaction in hiring me. I say this not as a lie or boast, but to give you an idea of the beliefs and ideals I hold most dear.

If you’re still reading this after all of the above and haven’t crossed me off your list of potential editors, please do contact me, because the time we invest in your project will benefit you, me, and most importantly, your writing.