Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore (2020) 5 Star *****

This is one of those books that will stay with you for the rest of your life. A police procedural and depressing family saga rolled into a compelling story of love, neglect, abandonment, betrayal, drug addiction, hopelessness, personal weakness, suspicions, and lack of trust, leads us to our main character, Philadelphia Police Officer Michaela (Mickey) Fitzpatrick, emotionally bereft, overwhelmed by responsibility and fears, grappling to find a safe place to call home for herself and her young son. Having virtually never felt reciprocal love while growing up, Mickey finds it difficult to maintain relationships. Mickey and her drug addicted sister were raised by their cold, aloof, hyper-critical, neglectful grandmother after the drug death of their mother and abandonment by their father. Always hungry and cold, inappropriately dressed and most often left to fend for themselves, these sisters struggle through life in what becomes a tug-of-war between adherence to rules and laws and the mean streets of drug ravaged Northeast Philadelphia. Unfortunately, both girls become victims to the predators of the community and streets. Often trusting the wrong people and dismissing the right ones, it’s hard to identify the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Mickey becomes obsessed by the search for her missing sister. Is she the latest, but maybe yet not found, victim of a serial killer targeting drug-addicted young girls of the street?  Her attempts to solve these crimes and capture the perp, lead Mickey down a path of police cover-up, suspicious behavior, and mistrust of commanding officers, as well as those she once considered friends. This lack of trust irreparably damages Mickey’s relationships. The community does not know what to believe. As these things go, the top brass turns the tables on Mickey so that she is now under investigation by Internal Affairs.

The book is well-written with simple sentences and language, with chapters alternating between past and present. Instead of using quotation marks ( ” ” ) around dialogue, the author uses a dash ( – ) before each line where the character speaks, but does not use punctuation to separate ideas within these lines. It’s a simple technique for the author, but perhaps confusing for the reader.

The author makes a point to show how there is often honor among the down-and-out population of the streets. They can be believed. They know the truth, but can be reluctant to express it for fear of personal safety. Many desperately want to stop their downward spiral, but the pull of the drugs and the pain of withdrawal require great strength with a strong and constant support system. Many of the victims of the street lost the love and encouragement of their family and friends years ago.

Significance of title: The long bright river is where the spirits of these victims of the street congregate en masse with bright shining faces begging not to be forgotten.

Happy ending? Many misconceptions, hidden agendas, lies, and manipulations come to light. Relationships are examined, but not trusted. Truth is revealed, but not accepted. Explanations are given, but not believed. The truth is when kids are emotionally abused, they grow up hating themselves, not their abusers. We cannot shed the negative messages of our childhood. They rear their ugly heads when we least expect it—always the reminder of what we fear is the real us that we try to keep hidden from the world.

Things are resolved, but no happy ending here.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore (2020) 5 Star *****

This is one of those books that will stay with you for the rest of your life. A police procedural and depressing family saga rolled into a compelling story of love, neglect, abandonment, betrayal, drug addiction, hopelessness, personal weakness, suspicions, and lack of trust, leads us to our main character, Philadelphia Police Officer Michaela (Mickey) Fitzpatrick, emotionally bereft, overwhelmed by responsibility and fears, grappling to find a safe place to call home for herself and her young son. Having virtually never felt reciprocal love while growing up, Mickey finds it difficult to maintain relationships. Mickey and her drug addicted sister were raised by their cold, aloof, hyper-critical, neglectful grandmother after the drug death of their mother and abandonment by their father. Always hungry and cold, inappropriately dressed and most often left to fend for themselves, these sisters struggle through life in what becomes a tug-of-war between adherence to rules and laws and the mean streets of drug ravaged Northeast Philadelphia. Unfortunately, both girls become victims to the predators of the community and streets. Often trusting the wrong people and dismissing the right ones, it’s hard to identify the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Mickey becomes obsessed by the search for her missing sister. Is she the latest, but maybe yet not found, victim of a serial killer targeting drug-addicted young girls of the street?  Her attempts to solve these crimes and capture the perp, lead Mickey down a path of police cover-up, suspicious behavior, and mistrust of commanding officers, as well as those she once considered friends. This lack of trust irreparably damages Mickey’s relationships. The community does not know what to believe. As these things go, the top brass turns the tables on Mickey so that she is now under investigation by Internal Affairs.

The book is well-written with simple sentences and language, with chapters alternating between past and present. Instead of using quotation marks ( ” ” ) around dialogue, the author uses a dash ( – ) before each line where the character speaks, but does not use punctuation to separate ideas within these lines. It’s a simple technique for the author, but perhaps confusing for the reader.

The author makes a point to show how there is often honor among the down-and-out population of the streets. They can be believed. They know the truth, but can be reluctant to express it for fear of personal safety. Many desperately want to stop their downward spiral, but the pull of the drugs and the pain of withdrawal require great strength with a strong and constant support system. Many of the victims of the street lost the love and encouragement of their family and friends years ago.

Significance of title: The long bright river is where the spirits of these victims of the street congregate en masse with bright shining faces begging not to be forgotten.

Happy ending? Many misconceptions, hidden agendas, lies, and manipulations come to light. Relationships are examined, but not trusted. Truth is revealed, but not accepted. Explanations are given, but not believed. The truth is when kids are emotionally abused, they grow up hating themselves, not their abusers. We cannot shed the negative messages of our childhood. They rear their ugly heads when we least expect it—always the reminder of what we fear is the real us that we try to keep hidden from the world.

Things are resolved, but no happy ending here.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

Book Review: Inheritance-A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, And Love by Dani Shapiro

Book Review: Inheritance —A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro (2019)
5 Stars *****

What if the results of your Ancestry.com DNA test reveal you were a test tube baby? Your social father is not your biological father. Your religion is not pure. Some of your relatives are really not. Your half-sister apparently isn’t. You have a first cousin you never heard of. Your mother has made vague, off-hand comments throughout your life. To boot, you don’t look anything like anyone in your family, which has invited comment and wonder.

In this memoir, the author shares her journey of discovery: testing for fun, disbelief at the results, phone calls and social media for contact, archived newspaper articles and Google for research, emails for reaching out. Leaving the author bewildered, grateful, and open to the people who began to contact her—relatives she never knew she had— she still hopes for word from a half-brother or half-sister, maybe out there searching and/or unaware of the secret Dani Shapiro uncovered.

At fifty-four years of age, living in Connecticut, Dani and her husband lightheartedly spit into a vial to mail to Ancestry.com for DNA testing. Two months later, the test results revealed that Dani was not the pure bred Orthodox Ashkenazi Jew she believed herself to be. After disbelief, shock, and anger, Dani and her very supportive husband, Michael, accepted the fact that Ancestry.com does not make mistakes.

Dani, being a writer and educator, and Michael, being a journalist, were both adept at research. They tracked down the (now closed) Farris Institute for Parenthood on the campus of Penn State University in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania. Further research and interviews led them to the truth: Many doctors and medical students at this facility donated their own sperm which was mixed with the sperm of husbands with  low sperm counts, and therefore, fathered countless children, of whose existence they were unaware. Knowledge of this practice was kept from the fathers to protect their feelings and acceptance of their wives’ pregnancy results. The donors were promised anonymity and privacy. It is most likely that the mothers knew of this deception. If it were not for scientific advances in DNA testing, the likelihood of discovery was slim.

“One article I came across was a widely circulated 1958 wire service story that appeared in newspapers such as The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and The Tampa Tribune:(excerpt)

Test-Tube Baby Practice Grows; Now 30,000 in U.S.

Some 40,000 American children owe their start in life to test tube science.

     Dr. Edmond Farris, director of the Institute for Parenthood in Philadelphia, said in an interview that  even his estimate of ‘30,000 to 40,000 test tube tots’ may be low. No one really knows exactly how many test tube children there are in the U.S. because there is no law requiring doctors to report on this practice.”

Both parents are now deceased. The real heartache for the author is that her beloved father, her social father, is not her bio-father after all. It was his love and encouragement that sustained her throughout her life. Her mother, aloof and critical, was not the one who made Dani feel loved and accepted. It is being fragmented from him, that hurts the most.

The cover nags at me.  An empty dress, so sad, like seeing lost, empty shoes. A girl without substance? Without identity? Without her heart-felt father? Beautifully written, the author’s soul is gently revealed.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

 

Book Review: The Road to Ever After by Moira Young (MG)

Book Review: The Road to Ever After by Moira Young (MG) 2 Stars **

We meet thirteen-year-old Davy David, orphaned at birth, now living on his own in Brownvale in the graveyard where his mother, who died giving birth to him, is buried. Davy doesn’t know quite where, but he chooses a spot he likes, tends to a briar rose bush he plants in her memory, and considers this his home. Davy was in an orphanage that went out of business so to speak, and he was left at the age of nine to fend for himself, grateful for the sporadic odd job that enables him to buy food and for the negligible kindness of some local adults.

The mean-spirited parson is a hypocritical, secret drunk who cheats on his wife. The neighborhood boys bully poor Davy. A homeless, scruffy dog attaches himself to Davy. Davy does not attend school but is a frequent visitor to the public library where he educates himself, especially about angels found in classic books of art. Davy is also an exceptional artist who leaves etchings of angels in the dirt wherever he goes. Just as his “home” is destroyed by the nefarious parson, Davy meets wealthy Miss Elizabeth Flint, an about to turn eighty, witchy, crotchety old woman who drafts Davy into her service. She pays him for driving her to her ancestral home to attend to her important business—” a three-day passage of the soul to its final embarkation point to the great beyond.”   A friendship develops and Davy’s life is changed forever.

Does this remind you of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist?

While this is a somewhat charming book, I’m not sure how relatable this story is for today’s young reader. The book has a copyright date of 2016. It has an old-fashioned feel but the setting’s time and place are ambiguous. The reader must suspend belief to accept that thirteen year old Davy can suddenly drive cars, motorcycles, and trucks while being chased by their rightful owners and the police. Is this child actually living unattended on the streets and in a cemetery of this unholy town?  Where in the world is Brownvale, anyway? The book is meant to portray a spiritual journey—Davy helps Miss Flint’s spirit travel to its final resting place. After all, Miss Flint is already dead!  Yes, and they even hold a wake with Miss Flint’s restless soul, Davy, and George , the dog, in attendance. Let’s not forget that Miss Flint is now aging backwards and has the beauty and physical stamina that were hers when she was in her twenties. Admirable, of course, but the entire book lacks spirit and has so much thrown in, it’s a hodge-podge of many different books. Disjointed. Disconnected. Out of context. Everything comes out of left field.

By the way, I hate, hate, hate the ending. SPOILER ALERT! Guess who inherits all of Miss Flint’s wealth and property? BUT, Davy will still be alone in the world, although next door to kindly Mr. Blye, his sweet wife, his mother-in-law, and his friendly, loving four children. Is this supposed to be a satisfactory ending for an orphan, still only thirteen years of age, to have great neighbors? Is this supposed to fill the hole in Davy’s heart?

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Color Yourself Calm – Yep, With Crayons!

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

If you haven’t colored anything other than your hair or the scratches on your wood furniture recently, it’s time to get with the times. Relaxation by coloring – the newest stress reliever for adults – is sweeping the country. No need to pay a therapist to listen to what’s on your mind. Less trouble than golf. Less exhausting than tennis. Less strenuous than weights, presses and punching bags at the gym. Less mobility than walking. Less solitary than meditation. All you need is a coloring book of your choice and a stash of crayons. Colored pencils, markers, watercolor paints are optional. Yes, I’m serious. Read on.

According to the article by Avery Mack, “Color Me Calm,” in the March, 2016 issue of Natural Awakenings, March was color therapy month. Sorry, you missed the celebration because of me. I was busy writing about saving our kids and our planet from our polluted environment, and totally dropped the ball on this topic. But, it’s not too late. This is a lifetime activity you can start at any time despite the weather or a lack of appropriated funds. Keep reading for a summary of research, findings, and helpful websites from the Natural Awakenings article.

According to Nikki Martinez, PhD in Chicago, “30 minutes of coloring can constitute a focused meditation that relieves stress. It uses both sides of the brain and improves organizational and fine motor skills.”

Avery Mack tells us, “Publishers Weekly reported combined 2015 sales at 1.75 million copies of the 10 best-selling adult coloring books through November of that year.”

“Barnes and Noble, craft stores, community centers and home parties all encourage the coloring activity.”

‘Dieter Marlovics tells us, “… at the request of my daughter who wanted to color her life rather than generic drawings, I established ReallyColor.com which converts photos into coloring book pages to make individually tailored pages.’ ”

More eco-friendly tips from Avery Mack: “… sprout pencils, made of sustainable wood and fruit-and-vegetable dyed clay instead of lead, are topped by non-GMO seeds that can be planted when the pencil becomes short. Inktense’s water-soluble brightly colored pencils mimic pen and ink. Add water for translucency. Also, select recyclable paper books, soy crayons, watercolor paints and non-toxic markers.”

Maybe you’ll consider sitting down with the kids, or just doing this by yourself. Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post –  Kids: Let The Pros Sweat The Small Stuff

© 2016 All rights reserved

Teaching Kids To Save Our Planet And Ourselves

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

The sins of the parent are visited upon the child. This is a sobering thought. Not only does this adage reach across psychological, emotional, mental and  social boundaries, but it extends to the world situation in which our children and grandchildren will find themselves. A world filled with strife, war and famine. Often, the absence of a peaceful, supportive family life. A world depleted of natural resources. Food shortages. Clean water shortages. As individuals, we do not have the power to save the world, but we each can take a positive step and instill good habits in our children, so we may all work together for a more powerful impact on the world in which we live. Each generation must continue good practices, since no action has everlasting results.

Saving the planet goes beyond reuse, recycle and reduce. It also involves how we treat each other. It’s one thing to be kind and generous to people who enter our lives on a daily basis, but more powerful if we seek out situations where our help is needed and create a game plan for positive results.

I came across an interesting article in the December, 2015 issue of the Long Island edition of Awakenings by Jennifer Jacobsen, “Generous Pint-Sized Givers.” What’s interesting and unique here, is the concept of giving that involves not only donations of money and useful things, but how our thoughts, words and actions impact those around us.

Jennifer  Jacobson offers the following suggestions:

 *Ask Kids How They’d Like To Help– make a list of things in which there is interest
*Make A Game Plan– map out activities like visiting, donating or fundraising
*Quick Tasks Can Make A Big Difference– periodically, fill a “donate box” with items from closets, toy chests, drawers and the garage

*Find Ways to Raise Money For Donations– yard and bake sales

*Associate Getting With Giving– encourage birthday and holiday gifts to include a monetary amount allocated for donations

*Volunteer To Do Community Service– public gardens, historic buildings, food banks all need volunteers                                                                                                                                 *Grow The Mindset– teach kids to ask,”How would you want people to help you in this situation?”

The important thing to remember is giving is not something we should do upon occasion, it should be a way of life. One person, one experience at a time can change the world.

Next week’s blog post: Color Yourself Calm – Yep, With Crayons!

© 2016 All rights reserved

 

Emotional Intelligence For Kids – A Coping Mechanism

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

In last week’s blog post, we discussed stressed out kids who lack the coping mechanisms most of us learn by the time we’re adults. We can help our children stay balanced in today’s world by helping them to learn emotional intelligence. What is it? Psychology Today defines EQ or emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage our own emotions as well as those of others. It includes three skills: the ability to identify, harness and manage emotions and apply this skill to problem solving, thinking, and cheering up or calming down another person.”  Think about it. Who has the most pleasant life – the smartest, the wealthiest or the one who is balanced and gets along easily with almost everyone?

According to an article “What’s Your Child’s EQ?” by Teal Swan which appeared in the November, 2015 Long Island edition of Natural Awakenings, “emotional health is more important in determining future happiness  than academic success or wealth.”

The author tells us we can ensure a child’s healthy emotional upbringing by avoiding these mistakes:

The Don’ts

1.  Disapprove of a child’s emotions -don’t reprimand or punish for expressing negative emotions                                                                                                                                                     2. Dismiss a child’s emotions – don’t ignore or trivialize emotions                                                                                                           3. Ignore a chance to offer guidance- don’t neglect to set limits on behavior and help the child understand and cope

The Do’s  

We should all value and respect each other’s feelings. Remember, emotions matter.
* Become aware of the other person’s emotions.
* Care about the other person  by seeing their emotions as valid and important
* Allow others to be vulnerable without fear of judgment. Understand rather than agree or redirect.                                                                                                                                                      * Acknowledge  and validate another person’s feelings by saying, ” I can see how you might feel that way.”                                                                                                                                                   * Only after the other person’s feelings have been validated, we can assert new ways of looking at a situation that may improve the way another person is feeling

By helping our children to understand themselves as well as others, they gain another tool to use in times of stress, be it their own, or when they’re witnessing an emotional reaction. Putting a lid on it isn’t always good. Yes, we must be appropriate, but that’s where the strong parenting comes in, whereby we teach our children to express emotions within certain behaviors. Children should learn to use their words, not their fists. Emotions in themselves are not bad. It’s the physical manifestation of feelings that will get us into trouble. Slamming doors, punching a hole in the wall, smacking someone across the face are not acceptable. Instead, children should be taught to state their feelings and know their point will be well made.

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Selfie: Millennials As Parents

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

Kids Off The Hook? Maybe It’s Stress.

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

Are your kids acting out more than usual? Screaming, crying, not cooperating? Refusing to go to school or to an after school activity? Rebelliousness? Or, maybe they’re just stressed out. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, stress among kids is at an all time high with high school and college students often reporting higher stress levels than adults. What do kids have to be stressed out about? Read on.

According to Gina Shaw’s article pp. 61-63 in the September, 2015 issue of WebMD, there’s a whole list of things resulting from life in the modern world. Let’s take a look.

* Kids are asked to make choices leading to careers at a young age.                                             * Facebook and Instagram depict pictures of all their friends at social gatherings to which they were not invited and from which they are conspicuously absent                                                                                                                    * Kindergarten is the new first grade. What happened to blocks, finger painting, music, climbing and jumping?                                                                                                                              


* High stakes testing puts too much emphasis on performance on a few specific days rather than on how they function in the classroom over time
* Overscheduling sports, art and music. These are supposed to relieve stress, not add to it.                                                                                                                                     * Reduction of art, music, physical education in the school program eliminates outlets                                                                                                                            * Exposure to adult media content such as shootings, bombings, explosions, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, effects of global warming, prophesies of the end of the world, falling comets, black holes, drone attacks, terrorist atrocities, etc., causes anxiety and fear                                                                                   * Bullying and Teasing are no longer private matters since kids may be victims on Facebook, Instagram and through text messaging for everyone to witness                                  

* Too little sleep affects memory, judgment and mood
* Chronic illness has more than doubled in kids between 1994 and 2000 with obesity, asthma, type 2 diabetes, behavior and learning problems, and ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at the top of the list
* Family disruption due to illness, death, deployment, divorce or separation, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, addictive behaviors with alcohol, drugs, gambling                                                                                                                                * Stressed out parents lead to stressed out kids 

What can you do to counteract these stressors? “Talk with your kids every day. Don’t over schedule so there’s time for free play on a daily basis. Talk about stress and suggest ways to control it, deep breathing, for example. Speak with a doctor about counseling referrals, if needed. Manage your own stress and watch the calm trickle down.”

As adults, we are much better equipped to deal with the stresses of every day life. Our self-esteem is more highly developed. Our happiness is not so dependent on the approval of others. We found a support system that gets us through the day. Most of us are well- settled into the lives we’ve chosen for ourselves. We are in control of our destinies with  decisions and choices of our own making. If we’re not happy in a situation, we have the mobility and where-with-all to move ourselves up and out. Kids haven’t yet developed these coping mechanisms.

Let me leave you with these thoughts. Be the adult in the relationship. Calm yourself. Get your head on straight. Be a role model, and a source of comfort and support for your children, as well as the adults in your life. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Prioritize. Then, let go. Must your child excel in violin and football? Trust that your children can occupy themselves constructively within unstructured time. Let them be. This is how they develop themselves. Present the tools, then allow them to utilize them in their own time. Don’t live vicariously through your children. Their successes ( or weaknesses ) are theirs. If you want bragging rights, then do something constructive and amazing with your own time. That success will belong to you. Don’t hijack the accomplishments of others to try to make yourself look good.

As a former teacher, I have a great respect for education. However, it does not only come from a formal lesson in the classroom. Books; cable shows; YouTube videos; public, school and private libraries; zoos; museums; community and back yard gardens; a walk in the woods, around the block or outside your home; a visit to the beach, a river or a pond, can all offer learning experiences. How about behind the scene experiences at a play, concert, sports event? Think about what can be learned from watching a construction project. Look up at the sky in the day, then at night. What do you see? Answer those questions and fill in the gaps with books, Google searches, TV and Cable specials. Let your kids explore. Their natural curiosity will look for answers. You get the idea— we can learn from everything in the real world as well as what is focused on in the classroom.

Education is knowing things outside yourself. Authentic learning complements formal learning.

Allow them time to find their own path. With so many options available in today’s world, it’s unfair to force a young person to choose before they’ve had a chance to investigate and try it on for size. As we know, one size does not fit all.

Help your children develop a high self-esteem so they might feel confident in the path they’ve chosen for themselves. A strong self-image counteracts negativity from immature and/ or aggressive sources. Allow them to pursue what they’re good at and what gives them happiness. This is how they learn to accept and like themselves.

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Emotional Intelligence For Kids – A Coping Mechanism

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Getting Rid of Stuff

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

I have to admit I’m a stuff collector. That’s right. I save those pretty shopping bags, colorful boxes, years worth of credit card statements, warranty books, my school reunion guest list and the menus from those nights with the receipts! Why? Just in case, of course. Every once in a while, I take hold and purge, so my stash doesn’t become too big to handle. But now I’ve found a great book that encourages me even further. After reading each chapter, I hightailed it straight to a stash in a different room. You see, no thinking was needed. I instinctively knew what had to go. I asked myself, “Does it spark joy?” and “Do I really need this?” The answer, of course, was no. Out it went.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is very different from any other book I’ve read on the subject. The author has voice and heart. This is what touched me in a very different way. Just in case and sentimentality offer few excuses. A minimalistic home environment creates peace which fosters creativity and productivity. See how this works?

Here are some of Marie Kondo’s guidelines:                                                                                       * Purge before you organize                                                                                                                      * Ask, “Does it spark joy?”  and “Do I really need this?”                                                                                                             *Sort by category, not location                                                                                                                   *Tidying up is a special event, not a daily chore                                                                                 *Discard all at once, intensely and completely and in the right order – tops, bottoms, clothes that must be hung, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, special event or seasonal clothes, shoes                                                                                                                                               * Don’t let your family rummage through your discard pile. It’s your stuff. YOU discard it or YOU keep it. Period.                                                                                                                              * Fold things as small as you can and store them standing up with lighter colors in front                                                                                                                                    * Use storage boxes and dividers in the drawers and closets                                                           * Categorize, then hang your clothes with the longer items to the right in the closet                                                                                                                                                   * Don’t ball up your socks or pantyhose – this stresses them out                                                                                               * Designate a place for each thing and put it there every day after use                                                * Prioritize what’s at eye level and arm’s reach                                                                                              * Thank your clothing and possessions for the good service they’ve given you before you store them away                                                                                                                                           * Greet your home with love as you enter it every day                                                                        * Recognize that your living space affects your body                                                                           * Accept the principles of Feng Shui as they create a balanced, peaceful environment

We can see this is not so hard to do. I’ve been purging my ancient credit card statements, unbarring my poor stressed out socks and pantyhose ( ouch), using the color gradation system in my drawers and closets, discarded old books and magazines which I kept for reference and for borrowing ( which never happened because I forgot I had them) and got rid of some unusual nail polish colors, like mint green, which is not my style and will never be used again. To be honest, I’m struggling with the storing vertically thing. I like looking at the front of my clothes. That’s how I tell one top or sweater from the other. I’m not giving up yet. Some self-improvement projects take longer than others. Right?

Get a big box of heavy-duty plastic trash bags, and purge away. You might want to donate your clothing, books, sports equipment. This process doesn’t imply that your possessions are of no value, just that they have no value in your life now or in the foreseeable future. Do this without guilt. You had the best intentions, now it’s time to send it all off to someones else who will need or love it. Good luck.

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Precocious Puberty- Bodies Developing Before Emotions

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From Brooklyn to Hollywood: How Suzanne Corso Wrote Herself Into A Better Story

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

I recently finished reading Suzanne Corso’s trilogy tracing her fictitious based- on- truth account of a young woman’s rise to fame and fortune from mobster- wannabe girlfriend to Hollywood screenwriter. In this type of book, the reader is often confused as to what is real and what is an example of the author gone wild with the power of words. What struck me the most about these books is how this series illustrates the points made in my last two blog posts -“Hard Work Vs. Wishful Thinking” and “How Our Thoughts Can Become Our Reality.” These truths are at work here.

Let’s take a look at Suzanne Corso and her books.

Suzanne was born and raised in the 1970s -1980s Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York at a time when it was predominantly an Italian and Italian-American neighborhood, and mobsters and mobster-wannabes ran the show. Her father was a deadbeat, absent Italian-American. Her mother, although Jewish, embraced the Catholic faith, and was besieged by drugs, alcohol and unsavory men. Suzanne’s Jewish maternal grandmother steadfastly encouraged her, as the only stable adult in her life. She gave Suzanne a gift of a Smith Corona typewriter and told her to write herself out of her story into a better story. That’s exactly what Suzanne did. Deeply religious, Suzanne lit candles and prayed daily to the Blessed Mother Mary, Michael the Archangel and Buddha. She received invaluable guidance from the Catholic priest at her church and encouragement from teachers that spurred her on to submit her writing for publication. Although money was always tight and the family was often on food stamps, Suzanne dreamed of the day she could cross the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan and live the life she could only dream. Dream she did, and combined with hard work, Suzanne reached her goals. As a matter of fact, she continues to realize even more success as she enters her mid-forties.

In the first book, Brooklyn Story, teenage Samantha, as her character is called in the series, hooks up with a wannabe- mobster, gets knocked around and dreams of crossing the symbolic Brooklyn Bridge to a better life. (true)

The second book, The Suite Life, tells the story of her marriage to a Wall Street tycoon who rakes in about a hundred million dollars a year (true). This fairy tale life has a sad ending when the market goes south and hubby loses his fortune (true). A serious author emerges from the ashes (true), her fortune is amassed (true) while her husband dies (false).

The last book, Hello, Hollywood, introduces character Samantha to the world of big time Hollywood production when her first book, Brooklyn Story is optioned as a movie (true, I think). She is even richer than before  (true) and has her share of wacky men, but eventually meets Prince Charming and lives happily ever after (who knows?).

In real life, Suzanne’s husband is very much alive and between them, have regained that lost hundred million. Suzanne believes losing that money was the best thing that ever happened to her since it motivated her to mobilize and stay the course.

The important thing to know is these books are not particularly well-written. The characters are stereotypical, one-dimensional and predictable. The plot is often repetitious and the events are obviously contrived with enough coincidences to make your head spin. We’re not looking at literature here, yet Suzanne Corso is lauded as an author, pursued as a screenwriter and her book(s) made into movies.

This observation is not meant as a put down. It is meant to show that perfection is not necessary to gain fame and fortune. Someone with authority saw the potential in the body of work. Maybe it filled a gap by telling the story from a woman’s side, or found a niche with a limited audience. It’s not our place to question the why. This evaluation carried weight. Someone saw value where others did not.

How did she do it? She visualized, analyzed, investigated, planned and mobilized. She saw the path clearly, left no stone unturned, walked through every open door. By her own admission, her first book was rejected umpteenth times, but it only took the last one to say yes to change the course of her life. Suzanne never gave up. She saw this as her calling and did not stop until she succeeded. She did what she had to do. Showed up where she had to be. She never let where she came from interfere with where she wanted to go. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

Suzanne Corso’s story has inspired me to set my sights higher. I will make an action plan and follow it after I investigate in which direction to go. Maybe you’ll do the same.

Good luck. Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Getting Rid of Stuff

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

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Saturday, March 14, 2020- Barnes & Noble, Massapequa, NY 12:00-4:00pm

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