New Anthology Benefits World Central Kitchen

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. (Margaret Mead)

I’m honored to have had an essay (“What We Do with Words”) accepted for publication in this lovely new anthology, published last week by She Writes Press.

Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis was conceived as a response by women writers and artists to the cataclysmic events of the last few years. Writing about the pandemic, Ukraine invasion, political and societal unrest, and more, authors address the vast range of human response to crisis in all its forms. They explore how we can find beauty, hope, and deeper interpretation—even when the world seems to have been turned upside-down, inside-out, and shaken.

The book is also intended to make a tangible difference. All royalties from book sales will go to support the tremendous work of chef José Andrés, his nonprofit World Central Kitchen, and their Ukrainian relief efforts.

If you’re interested in learning more about the book, or purchasing a copy, here’s a link to it on Bookshop.org, the wonderful discount retailer that supports independent bookstores. Of course, the book is also available through other online booksellers, and can be ordered through your local indie store. (As of this writing, the price is lower on Bookshop than on Amazon.)

Seattle Area Friends

If you happen to live in the Seattle area, please join me and seven other Puget Sound-area contributors on Thursday, August 11, at 7:00 p.m., at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. Continue reading

You Will Do Stupid Things

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” (Rita Mae Brown)

LLV4Mistakes are a given. Over a lifetime, each of us does and says countless things that wound, that embarrass us or others, and that we deeply regret. It is to be hoped, though, that the stupid things we do in our teens and twenties aren’t the same stupid things we do in our forties, fifties, sixties, and beyond.

By the time we reach those later decades, we’ve not only grown beyond our earlier transgressions, but perhaps also learned to let go of the chagrin we carry over those mistakes from our youth.

The good thing about aging is that we get better at learning from our mistakes. Of course, we make new ones, fresh ones, whoppers. Unless we refuse to venture out or try anything new, we will still make mistakes. The only way to avoid them is to hunker down and sidestep all risk, which means also avoiding delight, wonder, and discovery.

Lessons Learned – The lesson for me is twofold:

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Stop Comparing

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” (Oscar Wilde)

LLV1I have a friend who hates her hair. It’s lank and lifeless (her words), and the color is “boring brown” (again, her description). I consider her hair to be perfectly fine and never think about it until she starts bemoaning its inadequacy. When she meets someone, the very first thing she notices about them is their hair—and it’s always so much nicer than hers.

Another friend hates her teeth. When she laughs or smiles, she compresses her lips or covers her mouth, so people won’t notice her crooked teeth. I never notice her teeth, unless she draws my attention to them, and then I think they’re just fine. Imperfect teeth add a bit of character to a face (look at some of the finest British actors).

For me, it’s thigh-gap. For as long as I can remember, among the first things I notice about another person is whether there is space between their inner thighs when they’re standing or walking. I covet the notion of skinny thighs in skinny jeans. That’s because I’ve never had them and never, ever will. Even during those rare periods of my life when I was almost thinnish, my thighs were solid tree trunks, rubbing together like balloons in a Mylar birthday bouquet.

We notice and want what we don’t have. I have no particular complaints about my teeth or my hair, so I simply don’t notice what my friends always see first. Continue reading

Countering the Floridation of America

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” (Harry S Truman)

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Florida Sunset

No, I’m not talking about fluoride, the naturally occurring mineral added to local water systems to fight tooth decay. I’m talking about the southern state whose governor and legislature are bent on promoting truth decay.

A few years back, under a different governor, the lawmakers of the great state of Florida banned the use of the terms “climate change,” “global warming,” or “sustainability” in any official communications, emails, or reports. Now, they have passed what is being called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which forbids discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in primary classrooms.

In recent days, the Florida legislature has also passed the “Stop WOKE Act,” designed to protect its sensitive residents from being made uncomfortable by the truth. Thus, it prohibits the teaching of history about race, identity, events, or circumstances that some might find unpleasant. Further, it restricts private corporations or businesses from offering diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings, as well, potentially, as sexual harassment trainings, if they cause discomfort.” Wounded employees could actually sue their employers for the distress. (And they call us snowflakes? Just sayin’.)

Having nixed critical race theory, and surely turning their attention now to Covid denial and sea-level-rise repudiation, conversational topics in the Sunshine State are becoming limited.

Pretty soon, Floridians will find approved conversation limited to orange juice (a wholesome breakfast beverage, as long as it’s made only from Florida oranges, and not those progressive California upstarts) and Mickey Mouse. Actually, they’re on the fence about Mickey. Despite his ambiguous voice, he is almost certainly a heterodent, Continue reading

It’s Time to Get Started

“Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.” ~Neil Gaiman

LLV3[While kindness has been and will remain one of the most important lessons of my life—and one I continue to learn daily—lately, I’ve been thinking about other lessons life has taught me. And I’ve become increasingly aware of the lessons that no longer serve and need to be “unlearned.” Like many writers who say they write to find out what they think, writing is how I make sense of my world. Periodically, I plan to explore some of my life lessons here. I invite you to share some of your own.]

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to make a promise to yourself and how hard it can be to keep it? Whether it’s writing that book, losing those ten pounds, exercising daily, or withholding judgment, it’s always easier to think about doing something than to actually do it.

Years ago, I heard these wise words from Michael Broome: “Commitment means continuing to do what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has passed.”

Without commitment, we are dilettantes—we dabble at life, easily distracted by the next shiny object that catches our fancy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Having wide and multiple interests creates curious and well-rounded personalities. But there’s a difference between flitting among attractions and recognizing what calls to us.

For many of us, there comes a time when, from among all the possibilities surrounding us, one or more pursuits captivate us. “This,” we say, “is where I want to invest my time and energy. This is what makes my heart soar.” Continue reading