The Pain of an Anniversary, June 5, 1968

The Pain of an Anniversary, June 5, 1968

Juan Romero working to cradle RFK’S head.

Do we think about time passing when we are engulfed in it? Not always, that’s why sometimes we look at today’s date and say Wow, time flies.

But time can drag too, especially when we are in pain or lonely or awaiting some legal or medical decision that will profoundly affect our lives. If your experience of time is whizzing by, it might be a sign that things are going smoothly for you.

Why Anniversary and PTSD 

But time can drag if a person is in pain, if a person dreads the anniversary of an event. The very word anniversary comes from the Latin anniversārius meaning: recurring yearly. For Juan Romero in the photo above, the calendar’s movement toward the month of June hung over his head every year, a dark and debilitating cloud. A memory associated with June had affected the flow of time for Romero, reopening a wound in his psyche that often hindered his day to day living. Here’s the story.

Where Were You June 5, 1968?

Most of you reading Boomer Highway will remember what you were doing on November 22, 1963. And for the same reason, many of you will remember what was happening in your life on June 5, 1968. I was a junior at Mundelein College, studying for final exams. I probably heard the news on the radio early on the 6th, after staying up all night to study. Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated, like his brother John, as he walked through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He had just given a rousing speech after winning the California presidential primary.

For Juan Romero, a seventeen-year-old who worked in the kitchen of the hotel carrying trays for room service, that June day has for years been a day of pain, regret and guilt. The above iconic photo, taken by Boris Yaro of the Los Angeles Times and Bill Eppridge of Life Magazine, captures the horror of the moment. Kennedy was walking through the kitchen to get to his car, only to be felled by an assassin’s bullet. And that is Juan Romero, kneeling at RFK’s head in the photo.

“I wanted to protect his head from the cold concrete,” Romero told Steve Lopez for the affecting article that appeared in the LA TIMES. (Lopez has been in touch with Romero over the years.) Romero also told the reporter that he went to school the next day with Kennedy’s blood under his fingernails, refusing to wash it away.

Anxiety, Guilt and A Handshake from RFK

After that day, whenever June would come around, so would the memory of RFK’s death, a memory that stunted some of Romero’s choices, because his ability to move into the future had been damaged, a cloud of guilt pushing its way into his life. Why?

Romero relates that earlier that week, he had delivered a tray to RFK’s door: “He made me feel like a human being. He didn’t look at my color, he didn’t look at my position…and like I tell everybody, he shook my hand, I didn’t ask him.”

But the handshake is the reason that guilt plagued Romero for many years, because that June 5th night when RFK walked through the hotel kitchen, he paused to shake Romero’s hand again. And that gesture of Kennedy’s has keep Romero awake many nights, wondering if that brief pause had not occurred if Kennedy would have been spared the assassin’s bullet.

Claudia Zwiener Helps Romero

Though many like Lopez have tried to help Romero, it was Claudia Zwiener, a special-needs child therapist, who finally helped him accept and deal with his guilt. She made him see by looking at the photos of that awful night, that Romero hadn’t fled the scene but had remained, extended his humanity to the dying man. He was finally able to get this by studying the photos: “I saw a person in need and another person trying to help him.”

Romero has taken a life-lesson from this terrible loss, “that no matter how much hope you have, it can be taken away in a second.”

A Rosary and RFK’s Words

Now 65, Romero is at peace with the events of that night, though it took him 47 years to get to that place. Yes, he will always remember Kennedy, but it is easier now for him to relate all the details of that personal connection. That night he had rosary beads in his pocket and he pushed them into Kennedy’s hands as the man lay mortally wounded. He also insists that Kennedy spoke.

Romero told Lopez: “First he (Kennedy) asked, ‘Is everybody OK?’ and I told him, ‘Yes, everybody’s OK.’ And then he turned away from me and said, ‘Everything’s going to be OK.’ ”

Romero also relates that during that brief interchange, one of Kennedy’s eyes blinked and his leg twitched. Photos of that event show Romero next to RFK, but everyone else was at some distance. Zwiener helped Romero see value in himself once again. She knew that when the anniversary of that day came every year, so would the sorrow associated with it return, like experiencing the trauma all over again. When simple objects such as a photograph, or events such as a birthday party, bring traumatic memories to mind, people often try to bar the unwanted experience from their minds so as to proceed with life, with varying degrees of success. We now call this post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Seeking Peace

Personal connections like these are the experience of many of us. And it doesn’t have to occur with a prominent person—reaching out to help someone in a trauma, a crisis, a stop in the free-flow of our lives and time—they stay with us. Peace only comes with reconciling why we were there and what role we played. Guilt doesn’t change the pain, but if you are harboring some unrest that plagues you like it did Romero, you need to speak to someone, to find a way to forgive yourself or at the very least inject some logic into what happened. When a dreaded anniversary comes around, being able to accept it with peace and a feeling of calm will help you and those you love. Life can be difficult enough without the searing and debilitating pain of memories.

For more on this story go here. To learn more about PTSD go here.

Photos from the LA TIMES

 The Pain of an Anniversary, June 5, 1968Robert F. Kennedy, campaigning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boomer Highway’s Very Late Summer Non-fiction Picks

Boomer Highway's Very Late Summer Non-fiction Picks

I love fiction, but non-fiction is good for you–and just like balancing your diet, now and again non-fiction should be your reading choice. Here are a few that will whet the appetite. And because we now often have hot weather in September, I’m still calling these Summer Non-Fiction Picks!

Boomer Highway's Very Late Summer Non-fiction Picks

1. During a time when I attended the University of Iowa Summer Writing Workshop, I had the privilege of working with writer David Payne, author of many novels including Gravesend Light and Back to Wando Passo. Payne was a sensitive and helpful teacher, a sharer of ideas and emotions. His newly published memoir, Barefoot to Avalon reflects such a persona. It recounts the time he was moving to North Carolina and on the road, through his rearview mirror, he watched his brother George A. who was driving another vehicle to help him, lose control, flip the truck over and die. Payne relates that the death of George A., a manic depressive, had such a powerful impact on him that his career as a writer stopped, his marriage disintegrated and his drinking increased. George’s death brought to the forefront a family history of suicide, mental illness and alcoholism and he realized the only way to dispel these ghosts was to write. Jay McInerney relates that this book is “one of the most powerful and penetrating memoirs I’ve ever read; it is fiercely honest, deeply engaging, and utterly heartbreaking.” Through this work, Payne is able to reveal the legacy of sibling rivalries and to break open family silences–the only way to free himself from haunting and debilitating memories.

Boomer Highway's Very Late Summer Non-fiction Picks

2. Next up: On Immunity: An Inoculation, by Eula Bliss. One critic writes: “On Immunity casts a spell. . . . There’s a drama in watching this smart writer feel her way through this material. She’s a poet, an essayist, and a class spy. She digs honestly into her own psyche and into those of ‘people like me,’ and she reveals herself as believer and apostate, moth and flame.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times    Why did Bliss dig and spy–because as a new mother she realized she had fears–fears about her child’s future and health, about immunizations, the government, the medical establishment and what’s in her baby’s mattress, food and air. But she came to the conclusion that you cannot immunize your child from the world and as she investigated the very concept of immunity and then the uproar over vaccination, she finds that she: “…sanely takes on the anti-vaccine mob.”—Vanity Fair    An award-winning book, Bliss relates how she read and became convinced that we are all interconnected–our bodies and our fates.

Boomer Highway's Very Late Summer Non-fiction Picks

3. In his comprehensive and helpful book, Being Mortal, Dr. Atul Gawande, author of Complications, Better, The Checklist Manifesto, once again forges new territory as he educates physicians, other medical personnel and us about the importance of choice when one is severely ill or close to death. Thus this is a book every Boomer or person who is a caregiver must read, because though doctors are trained to heal and to save, more and more patients and their caregivers realize that how we will be living, the quality of life we will have should be a major consideration when making difficult decisions about surgery, chemotherapy, and clinical trials.

Gawande recounts the story of a daughter whose father was hospitalized with cancer–a tumor growing and filling his spinal column. While driving across the Golden Gate Bridge to her home, she was thinking about her father’s surgery that was scheduled for the following morning and all that the doctor had said. Close to midnight, she suddenly realized that she didn’t really know what her father wanted, though the doctor had talked about possible outcomes–but nothing had been settled. She drove back to the hospital, waking her father and asking him: If the surgery results in you gradually becoming a quadriplegic is that really acceptable? When he finally answered, he said yes, as long as he could eat chocolate ice cream and read he would accept the gradual loss of movement that might occur. The daughter and her father had the necessary conversation, so that depending on the results of the surgery — if he woke up or if for some unknown reason he didn’t wake up — she knew — no intubation, no Intensive Care Unit for months and months because that would mean no chocolate ice cream, no reading.

That’s what Gawande emphasizes in this book: choice. And he takes us on his own personal journey of watching Hospice nurses do their work when his father is dying. Amazed at how they approach a dying client and how they are able to help this person choose what they need as the last journey begins–Gawande becomes an advocate for hospice. He writes: When it is hard to know what will happen, it is hard to know what to do. But the challenge, I’ve come to see, is more fundamental than that. One has to decide whether one’s fears or one’s hopes are what should matter most. (taken from my article in the Huffington Post.)

Boomer Highway's Very Late Summer Non-fiction Picks

4. Meanwhile There Are Letters The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald. Edited by Suzanne Marrs and Tom NolanIf you like reading mainstream novels and short stories (Eudora Welty) or if you prefer detective novels with murder and mayhem (Ross Macdonald) or if you are fascinated by two people having a relationship through letters that covers not only writing but current history and then slips into profoundly romantic missives, then you will enjoy this book. One reviewer calls it: a prose portrait of two remarkable artists and one unforgettable relationship. Though they only met six times or so at writing conferences, their feelings for each other were deep and passionate. In the Washington Post Review, Michael Dirda recounts that in 1973 Macdonald interrupted Reynolds Price who was speaking about Welty saying: “No, you don’t understand. You love Eudora as a friend. I love her as a woman.” And when Macdonald was beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease, Welty was still writing to him about her feelings: “Dear Ken, I have all your letter to keep me company. Every day of my life I think of you with love. Yours always, Eudora.”

Boomer Highway's Very Late Summer Non-fiction Picks

5. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics  by Daniel James Brown. You will learn a great deal about rowing, about the making of the shell that is a rowers boat and the sport itself–the position of each rower, the talent and endurance each needs so they can obtain the perfect unison that moves the shell forward to victory. Featuring the lives of the nine men who were not born to wealth and position like some of the rowers they competed with–but who were the sons of loggers, shipyard workers and farmers from the state of Washington–this book recounts how they bonded as a team and rowed to gold as Adolf Hitler stood fuming. Even given the worst position on the competition lake, these tough Americans were still able to row to victory.

Wishing you HAPPY SUMMER READING and if you’ve recently read a work of nonfiction that will remain on your bookshelf as a favorite, please share.

P.S. A Mother’s Time Capsule, my collection of stories about motherhood, available on Amazon at elizabethahavey.com But it’s fiction!

Boomer Highway's Very Late Summer Non-fiction Picks

Daily, Nature Pours Out Poetry. Watch for It.

Daily, Nature Pours Out Poetry. Watch for It.

Morning Poem    by Mary Oliver

Every morning the world is created.

Under the orange sticks of the sun the heaped ashes of the night turn into leaves again and fasten themselves to the high branches–and the ponds appear like black cloth on  which are painted islands of summer lilies.

If it is your nature to be happy you will swim away along the soft trails for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere.

And if your spirit carries within it the thorn that is heavier than lead–if it’s all you can do to keep on trudging–there is still somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted–

each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly, every morning, whether or not you have ever dared to be happy, whether or not you have ever dared to pray.

from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver © Mary Oliver

Daily, Nature Pours Out Poetry. Watch for It.

 

Daily, Nature Pours Out Poetry. Watch for It.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Wake Early    by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips and the nodding morning glories, and into the windows of, even, the miserable and the crotchety–

best preacher that ever was, dear star, that just happens to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness, to ease us with warm touching, to hold us in the great hands of light–

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now , how I start my day in happiness, in kindness.

Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems Volume II

Mary Oliver: A private person by nature, Mary Oliver has given very few interviews over the years. Instead, she prefers to let her work speak for itself. And speak it has, for the past five decades, to countless readers. The New York Times recently acknowledged Mary Oliver as “far and away, this country’s best-selling poet.” Born in a small town in Ohio, Oliver published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of 28; No Voyage and Other Poems, originally printed in the UK by Dent Press, was reissued in the United States in 1965 by Houghton Mifflin. Oliver has since published many works of poetry and prose.

I want to thank my good friend and fellow writer Diana for sharing her gorgeous photos of spring in Newfoundland where she lives. How amazing to awaken to spring and visions like these right outside your door. On those days when I am fortunate to be able to take a walk, I always find something delightful for my eyes and my spirit. So watch for the poetry that nature so generously gives.

Daily, Nature Pours Out Poetry. Watch for It.

 

Dear Women, Are You Depressed?

Dear Women, Are You Depressed?

Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a clinical psychologist, understands the difficulty that occurs when you might think you are depressed, but you really don’t want to seek medical help. Previously, she did a survey which I shared on Boomer Highway, Dear Men: Are You Depressed? Take a Survey. It was very successful and you can go to her blog to read some of her findings.

Now she is focussing on women and she again asked me to share a survey with my readers. She created this so that you can ask yourself some questions, possibly getting a better handle on whether you might be depressed.

To take the survey go here. You will be asked to take the survey using a Google Form which requires checking a circle.

If you are curious before going to her site, here are the questions:

10 Question Survey: Female Depression and Openness To Therapy

Depression symptoms include being sad or discontented most of the time, having a negative outlook on things, being fatigued, having no or little desire for sex, finding little pleasure in what you do (even if you used to love doing it). Perhaps having anger outbursts that come out of nowhere. Not sleeping or wanting to sleep all the time. Having trouble concentrating or making decisions. Maybe feeling nothing at all. Just numb. It may be you try to fix it, by overspending, drinking, overworking. Throwing yourself into something. Focusing on others. It can come on gradually or can be triggered by an event or a loss. In severe cases, it includes having thoughts of hurting yourself.
Given this, could you answer a few questions?

Do you think you have ever been depressed?
Yes.
No.
Whether or not you answered yes or no, please answer the next few questions.

What might keep you from telling someone if you were depressed?
Others would think I was weak or think less of me.
They might not keep it confidential.
Depression is not something I would admit easily.
I never talk about how I really feel.
Belief I will get over it.
Other:

Would you be more likely to tell a female or a male?
Male.
Female.

Would you talk to your family physician and seek medication?
Yes.
No.

Would you talk to him/her but not seek medication.
Would you consider going into therapy if you felt depressed?
Yes.
No.

If you would consider going or have ever gone into therapy, please check the major reasons.
Believe getting problems out in the open is good.
Talked to a friend who had gone into therapy that had been helpful.
At my wits end and tired of feeling this way.
Fear of hurting myself.
Realization that my symptoms were having a negative impact on others.
Can afford or if a struggle financially, it’s worth it.
Getting negative feedback at work or concern from friends.
Husband/partner asked me to do it.
History of abuse I have never shared that I am ready to talk about.
Don’t mind asking for help. Think it’s okay to rely on others.
Don’t want to take medication or if on, want to try to stop.
Other:

Please check major reasons if you would not consider going into therapy.
Someone would find out.
Am uncomfortable talking.
Feel that it is weak.
Have never asked for help. Am independent.
Don’t believe that others need to know your problems.
Mental health professionals are weird people.
I don’t believe in depression.
Can’t afford financially.
It wouldn’t be worth it, even if I could afford it. Have other financial burdens.
Don’t have time.
Don’t think I would ever commit suicide.
Suicide is a right and an option.
Think it will go away.
Drink or smoke pot regularly to take care of it.
Would rather take medication.
Other:

Would you prefer a male or a female therapist?
Male.
Female.

Some quick questions about you.

Status:
Married
Single
Divorced
Widowed
Living together
Age:

Do you define yourself as heterosexual?
Yes.
No.

We might have missed something. Please tell us in your own words why you might or might not seek therapy , especially if you were depressed or suicidal

Dr. Rutherford stresses that this is anonymous. Going to her website and doing the survey takes 5 to 10 minutes. She needs all ages. And please know that the results will be used in her upcoming book “Perfectly Hidden Depression” which she will be posting on her  website http://drmargaretrutherford.com

So click on the following link and take the survey. It can be found in this blog post:  http://drmargaretrutherford.com/women-suffering-from-depression-has-it-ever-been-you 

I’m going to head over there now and take the survey to help her out! Thanks for reading.

Thanks to Huffington Post and Oprah.com for photos

Dear Women, Are You Depressed?

Boomer Highway’s Summer Fiction Picks

Boomer Highway's Summer Fiction Picks

Pick out a shady place and a comfortable cushion. Pick out an apple or a peach and finally pick up a good summer read. Here are a few choices from Boomer Highway.

Ann Beattie: The State We’re In: Maine Stories

Boomer Highway's Summer Fiction Picks

 

Anne Beattie’s latest work seems to be echoing the oeuvre of Elizabeth Strout whose Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge was a series of stories, most focusing on Olive and her life, others tangential to the town of Crosby, Main—Olive’s town “at the edge of the continent.” Beattie does something similar in her new collection of stories entitled The State We’re In, setting many of the stories in Maine and focusing on the character of Jocelyn, a teen who is attending summer school while living with her aunt and uncle. But Jocelyn has been chosen not to speak particularly about geography, but about the state we’re in, our modern life, the condition of things now. Margaret Atwood writes that Beattie’s work is: “like a fresh bulletin from the front: we snatch it up, eager to know what’s happening out there on the edge of that shifting and dubious no-man’s-land known as interpersonal relations.”

Marilynne Robinson: Lila

Boomer Highway's Summer Fiction Picks 

Marilynne Robinson has to be one of the greatest craftsman writing today. Her novels starting with Gilead in 2004, Home in 2008 and now Lila, tell the story of two preachers and their families in the small town of Gilead, Iowa—a place so real and fresh that you want to go there, though it exists only in Robinson’s mind. In fact, after dedicating her older books to family and friends, the dedication in Lila reads simply To IOWA. Having lived in the state for sixteen years and having attended the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Workshops, the state and Robinson (who is currently teaching at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop) mean a great deal to me. Lila tells the story of a woman whose early hardscrabble existence she finds difficult to put aside when she wanders into Gilead, later to become the second wife of the preacher, John Ames. When they first speak she tells him: “I don’t trust nobody,” and he replies, “No wonder you’re tired.” Robinson reveals the strength and power of a life that will go on—as Lila finds her way in a world often unkind to her, but one she has taken to her heart, discovering its healing power. “She liked to do her wash. Sometimes fish rose for the bubbles. The smell of the soap was a little sharp, like the smell of the river. In that water you could rinse things clean. It might be a little brown after a good rain, soil from the fields, but the silt washed away or settled out.”  For more about Lila go here.

Anne Tyler: A Spool of Blue Thread

Boomer Highway's Summer Fiction Picks

 

 

 

 

Always one of my favorite authors, Anne Tyler muses that A Spool of Blue Thread might be her last book. I hope not. I remember reading an early interview of Tyler’s, that fascinated me as a beginning writer–because she related that she sat on a couch in a room at the top of her house in Baltimore, writing her novels on sheets of paper with a cheap black ink pen. And she did this Monday through Thursday, saying that Fridays were for grocery shopping and having such things done as tire rotation. Tyler is the closest to an ordinary woman and an extraordinary writer than anyone could be. And thus her latest novel is again about a complicated family whose major goal is the  American dream–that if you work hard and don’t break the rules, you’ll find some gold in the corners of your life. But instead the Whitshanks find difficult marriages, early death and the inability to accept a son who likes to wander. So it’s not gold they find but a spool of blue thread, necessary for a repair to a piece of clothing, but symbolic of the ability to repair and move on, which is often the legacy of family.

Kathryn Craft: The Far End of Happy 

Boomer Highway's Summer Fiction Picks

 

 

 

 

I met Kathryn Craft through Women’s Fiction Writers Association and she has become a friend and mentor. Her first published novel The Art Of Falling, pulled from her life as a dancer and one familiar with Philadelphia’s dance world. But this, her second novel, is writing that cuts to the bone of life, her own personal life. Here is a book blurb from her blog: Ronnie’s husband is supposed to move out today. But when Jeff pulls into the driveway drunk, with a shotgun in the front seat, she realizes nothing about the day will go as planned. The next few hours spiral down in a flash, unlike the slow disintegration of their marriage—and whatever part of that painful unraveling is Ronnie’s fault, not much else matters now but these moments. Her family’s lives depend on the choices she will make—but is what’s best for her best for everyone? Based on a real event from the author’s life, The Far End of Happy is a chilling story of one troubled man, the family that loves him, and the suicide standoff that will change all of them forever.

In its review, the Library Journal emphasizes Craft’s personal strength and amazing skill. “Craft’s second novel is based on the author’s experience with a standoff involving her husband, which adds real, raw, emotion to the plot. Framing the novel within a 12-hour period keeps the pages turning.”

Anthony Doerr: All The Light We Cannot See

Boomer Highway's Summer Fiction Picks

Many of you have heard of this New York Times best selling book and might have read it. Author Doerr’s website reads: Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks. When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris in June of 1940, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives. But the trajectory of this story takes off when Marie-Laure crosses the path of Werner, a German orphan boy whose specialty during the war is tracking members of the Resistance.

So enjoy the rest of summer and find some time to pick a book that will seal all of summer’s delights. Reading something intriguing, something you love??  Please share.

And if you haven’t read it, I offer my book of stories, A Mother’s Time Capsule–stories about all aspects of motherhood. elizabethahavery.com  

Drawing: diceofdoom.com

Boomer Highway's Summer Fiction Picks

Have You Created Something? Great! Now Here’s Your Dilemma

Have You Created Something? Great! Now Here's Your Dilemma

The world is big and wide and open to many things. There are millions of people on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr all eager for news. So there is no reason to think that social networks won’t be thrilled to hear about my new business, your new art expo, or whatever it is we have just created—right? Maybe. Among writers and inventors and people who create things and want to sell them, worries arise. It’s a dilemma. How to sell my product.

Some folks will blast out emails to everyone and anyone. Others will hang back, read articles about how to sell, when to sell, how often is too often to tweet, post on Facebook etc etc.

In the book world, there are countless blogs that offer advice and strong opinions about every aspect of book marketing. It can make your head spin. But after reading all that advice, in the world of book writing, publishing and marketing the bottom line is–the writer has to be out there. Competition is tough. And whether you publish with the Big Five or go with a small publisher or self-publish—if you want people to read your work, being out there is a given. The word launch has taken on a whole new meaning and it doesn’t necessarily include dock shoes and a bottle of champagne.

Question: So what’s a writer or other creative person to do?

Answer: Adopt a philosophy or approach and run with it.

Problem: There are lots of approaches out there.

Solution: Combine them.

And that solution takes time, careful thought and planning. It’s a little like preparing for a party—you make certain that each individual guest will feel comfortable when they arrive, thus guaranteeing that they will stay for the duration; think, buy your book, support your business, attend your art show.

When I launched my first book, four generous fellow bloggers printed guest posts about it. And I was honored by organizations that focus on writing and publishing. I tweeted and posted on Facebook. I created a Pinterest Board that illustrated and provided a quote from each of the 13 stories in the book—creative fun, but time consuming. And I’ll never know if it caused even one sale.

But the activity that took the most time and yet had interesting and questionable results were the 75-100 personal emails that I wrote. These were not copy and paste, these were emails that addressed the receiver’s personal life and then mentioned the advent of the book. I got a 75% response from the email itself. Book sales? Very few. And who is in your email? Why family and friends.

So when author and friend Kathryn Craft (The Art of Falling, The Far Side of Happy) addressed this issue, her words rang true.

…I’ve heard this over sharing argument before, and always from writer moms with young kids, so I want to share my perspective as an empty nester. I am stealing the spotlight from no one when sharing my excitement about something good happening in my life—and since my life is more and more writing related these days, that something will probably be about writing and its related activities. And if I share these things on my personal page, I expect that 1) my large cache of writing friends will be thrilled, knowing what it must mean to me; 2) my non-writing friends will gain a fascinating look into the trials and joys of being a writer, trusting that once the launch is over their feeds will calm; and 3) disinterested family members can scroll past, thinking, “Oh there’s Kathryn doing her Kathryn thing again.”

For me, her words translated to, Oh there’s Beth doing her Beth thing again.

Kathryn’s work like that of many writers, pulls from deep personal experience and it is thought-provoking that she could take the suicide of a family member and from that wrenching experience create an incredible novel. Fiction mirrors life, but it takes not only talent, but guts to do so. So when Kathryn also states: If you are sharing to spread excitement that you can no longer contain in your heart, I say the world needs more evidence of such passion. If you are persisting despite the odds, I say the world needs more examples of such drive… I want to jump up and clap and cheer!

There are more of you out there!! Like me and Kathryn you are writers or artists, creators of a new product or starters of a new business. You might also be mothers, empty nesters, part of the 3rd stage that offers challenge yet excitement. So whatever we create–wow, that’s giving birth again, that’s passionate creation from a whole other side of ourselves and our talents. And we have to celebrate it—shout it out. And there are editors and publishers, publicists and agents who would agree. Kathryn also shared this reflection with me:

Agent Cherry Weiner once told us at a panel, “Don’t you dare leave this conference and write to me to say you heard me speak and think I might like your book. If you can’t come up to me and tell me face-to-face how much you love what you’ve written, you don’t have what it takes to sell a book.”

That changed my life. For me it was no longer about selling, which is so off-putting. It was about spreading the love.

I believe these words truly answer the question: so what’s a creative person to do? Love your work, believe in your work, mention it, talk about it, send people copies of it or invitations to see it. Easy right?

Not always. For example, writers love to sit at computers alone and write, dream things up, create problems and solve them, make up nasty conversation and end it. We are in control, running things. As the mission statement on my mug from Women’s Fiction Writers Association reads: DRINK COFFE. MAKE THINGS UP. What a life!!

Being out there on the net can be scary even if you love your work. Because there are thousands on social media telling you when, how and why you should do this or that when all you want to do is let people know it’s been born so that you can go back to your creative room and create some more. For me it’s writing. For me THAT would be Beth doing her Beth thing.

When you’re giving birth to books or some other amazing creation, it is another variation on motherhood: you carefully and tenderly make some choices, then struggle to give birth, and after your product’s arrival you finally realize–hey it’s time to share the love!  No dilemma in that.

Thanks for reading. A post similar to this was originally published on the Huffington Post under the title: When Giving Birth to Books, The Boomer/Mother Experience

My book???  A Mother’s Time Capsule   www.elizabethahavey.com

My Books

A Mother’s Time Capsule
Stories of motherhood.

WINDOWS–One Mother’s View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Dear Boomer Highway Readers. Happy Summer, a great time to kick back on the porch or patio with a glass of lemonade or something with more of a jolt AND READ A BOOK. It’s truly a summer necessity. In a future post I will be sharing some of my favorite reads for summer 2015–and I better get started before the summer is over.

In the meantime, here is one of the stories from my collection of short fiction A Mother’s Time Capsule which was published in May. This is the absolute shortest one, and if you like it, I’ll share more. Comments and questions? Greatly appreciated. So whether you have a rainy summer day, or a hot mid-afternoon break or even a porch lit with soft lighting on an evening when the fire flies are chasing the sky–please enjoy.

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Windows

Kate is on the ladder. She’s got a roll of paper towel tucked under her arm. She’s permeating the film of old winter dirt with a thick spray of Windex and then wiping across and down in a definite pattern. She’s slipping into something familiar, the hot sun on her arms, the jiggling of the ladder, the tops of the evergreens brushing her bare legs as she leans over to swipe at a corner. Her position on the ladder allows her an abnormal height as she looks down into her daughter’s bedroom through the now clean pane.

She pauses to take in all that is there, thinking that maybe it’s her position, her being able to see the room from a totally different angle that makes the looking so interesting. She’s a voyeur seeing the rug running a different way, seeing the bed from the headboard down instead of the usual footboard up. And there are other things leaping into her vision.

On the bed, three books, a stack of notebook paper sliding into an arc over the side and a pile of rumpled clothing. Kate presses her face to the coolness of the glass. Brinn’s underwear rolled up, piled and scrunched and then on the floor, almost kicked under her bed but not quite, a box of Kotex. Kate pulls a clean towel from the roll. She gives the top pane another squirt and works her hand in a circle. They’ve talked about keeping these things rather secret, not secretive-scary, but reasonable.

Jody is only five and doesn’t need to be asking a lot of questions. Brinn could learn to put her private things away. But then it is all new to her. She’s had one period and Kate guesses today is the start of another, though Brinn seemed her usual crabby self, the one that can’t find time to pack a school bag, dress and eat breakfast before the bus. Kate looks back into the room as if to find another explanation. There is only one. Brinn doesn’t have her period again, the box simply got kicked out from under the bed.

Kate starts down the ladder, but something else moves forward in her mind, something she feels more than thinks, like a shiver to signal that she’s about to topple from the ladder—Brinn has her period and doesn’t need to mention it to Kate—ever again.

On the ground she lifts the light aluminum ladder and moves it down the side of the house. She’s almost done. She wipes her forehead and sighs, because it feels good, because that’s been a response to a lot of what she’s heard lately. And yet the sighs are often pleasurable.

Her mother: I’ve become a modern thinker. Well maybe not modern, but I think you do entirely too much for that man and always have. I think it’s time you stop it.

Hot sunshine on Kate’s arms, the contentment of staring at a clean window, the pull of the wind at her back, the caress of air on a sweaty forehead—yes, getting things done. She backs away and looks at the house, sees so much about it that is hers—the newly painted red door, the dug-out flowerbed around the tree.

Entirely too much for that man.

She wants to laugh aloud. Her mother doesn’t even watch soap operas, that she knows of, but the line is so perfect.

She climbs the ladder to do one more window. She is careful holding the sides, but distracted by the bird in a bush beyond that sings a song, wee-who, wee-who, like one note up, one note down, like the squeak of an old porch swing—the bird on the swing.

Other women have time to shop, I mean shop for parties they’ll attend—or they meet for lunch or play cards. Other women–” 

“God, I don’t want to play cards. Spare me that.”

Her mother was smoking a cigarette, the ashtray on the floor near her feet “so the smoke won’t bother anyone.” She’d just had her hair done, and though Kate is never really sure what that means, it looks okay, always the same. Her mother seems pleased.

“He’s been out of town, right?”

“Mother, my husband’s name is Ted and yes there was a business trip this week.”

“Well—when is it your turn?”

Kate has trouble adjusting the ladder for this last window. The ground is uneven and the ladder wobbles and there’s no one around to hold it for her. She could wait until Brinn is home, but she has to pick up Jody from Kindergarten soon and it would be great to finish.

She climbs, inching her way up. This is Jody’s bedroom window, the rumpled bed inside, stuffed animals everywhere. There’s never enough time.

And your children should do more. Delegate. I learned that from your father, God bless him. You don’t know how to delegate. Believe me, I’d never do some of the things you do.

She balances carefully, works at each corner where a thick layer of grime has settled. Kate on the ladder, sunshine on Kate. She’s good at pushing away things her mother says. Of course she had better not fall, her mother would explode in front of Ted. And then Kate gasps, the roll of paper towel slipping out of her grasp and falling. She holds on tightly. She’s at least a story and a half up. Her mother would have to nurse her, watch the children—she’d get to hear about the fall every five minutes.

She finishes by turning the soaked towel over and over until the window is clean enough. The bird is still in his swing. She starts down.

You have to say the right things to your mother, be tactful, but point things out to her. Then she’ll see that you’re not my slave. Ted’s take on equality—they discussed what he does, what she does. Think about the life your mother led when she was raising you. She didn’t do her nails and shop with friends. She worked like a Trojan. I’ve heard some of those stories.

Kate drops the Windex to the ground, grips the ladder, walks carefully to the shed to put it away. She worked like a Trojan.

And the story of stories comes circling back: “When you were just a little girl, I got locked out of the house once. I was hanging the washing and the door blew shut and I was locked out. You were asleep in the upstairs bedroom and the windows were open to the breeze, so I pulled a ladder from the garage and climbed it high onto the front of the house. I prodded you with a broomstick to wake you up. I knew you were old enough to go down and open the front door for me. I was just frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.”

So how was it really, that day. She hanging laundry. Working like a Trojan. Was she panicked thinking that Kate’s father would be angry, locking herself out of the house, leaving the child alone? And what was she wearing, going up the ladder—a long-skirted dress, or maybe shorts and a blouse. Or was she in high heels, her hair done, smoking a cigarette, her perfect nails clicking on the metal of the ladder. Or was there an apron, the cling of soft fabric that is warm and scented like nothing but spring air. Or a worn apron with food stains, her feet bare, the wind tossing her about, sun on her arms, drafts catching her precariously.

Was she agile, was the ladder shaking as she hurried up it? In the room—a child napping and how old, four or five, tossing in nap-sleep, drooling on the pillow. A hot day and her mother leans over to the open window and calls softly Kate, Kate and then prods her child gently with the end of a broom. And the edge of Kate’s dream becomes a stick, becomes poking and the voice outside an upstairs window calling her name—but her mother’s voice, like a song.

Back inside the house, the phone rings.

“I’m lonely today. Could you just drop all those chores and go out to lunch with me?”

“I’ve got Jody. Have to get her from morning Kindergarten.”

“Of course you do. She eats, doesn’t she.”

Kate looks out the kitchen windows. She can’t hear the bird any more, can’t quite remember its song as the memory of her mother’s words lingers. I was frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.

Thanks for reading WINDOWS. If you liked this story, there are 12 more in A Mother’s Time Capsule, available in soft cover and ebook.  www.elizabethahavey.com

Photo: ourvintagehomelove.blogspot.com and somavida.net and all you.com

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Mother's Time Capsule by Elizabeth A. Havey

A Mother’s Time Capsule

by Elizabeth A. Havey

Giveaway ends August 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Boomer Highway’s Advice from an ER Doc

Boomer Highway's Advice from an ER Doc

It’s summer, time for a repeat of a post to keep your children safe and healthy during the active summer season.

“You are never over reacting when your child is hurt,” advises Dr. Bernard Heilicser a veteran ER doc. “

If your first thought is ‘I should call the paramedics,’ do it. Your gut feeling is almost always correct,” adds Heilicser who educated and directed paramedics in South Cook County, Illinois.

Here are tips from Dr. Heilicser that can keep your children and grandchildren healthy as they enroll in sports or are just out there in the world having fun.

  • Always do ABC first—check airway to see if it is blocked; check for breathing and check for circulation.
  • Scalp wounds bleed profusely, so don’t be alarmed. Be more concerned about a head or brain injury, especially in an infant.
  • If your suspect a head, neck or back injury, don’t move the patient. Call the paramedics. “A head injury is always a broken neck until prove otherwise.” Do ABC. Move the environment not the patient—furniture, bike, etc. Cover the patient with a blanket, and allow no water or food.
  • Try to stay calm, hold your child and assure her first. However, if blood is gushing out, then you have no choice but to act. Stitches will be needed, if you see bone, tendon, or what globules inside the wound. Bright red blood pumping out is arterial bleeding. Try to put pressure on the bleeding and keep the patient still.
    If a finger or toe has been cut off, apply pressure to the wound, place the body part in a cloth, and ice it. Most often it can be reapplied. Time is essential. You have about six hours.
  • If a permanent tooth is knocked out, don’t clean the tooth or rub it. Have your child hold it in the corner of his mouth and get to a dentist within thirty minutes. It can be saved.
  • If your child gets a chemical or harmful fluid in her eye, irrigate the eye for about ten minutes. If necessary just jump right into the shower with your child, clothes and all. Then consult with your doctor.

A few things to do ahead of time to prevent and deal with traumas:

  • Know whether your doctor is equipped to deal with emergencies. Can you call her at 3:00 in the morning? Would she have the equipment to do an x-ray or would she just tell you to go to the closest hospital?
  • Is there a trauma center near you, a hospital that always has a surgeon ‘in house’ to deal with emergencies?
  • When was your grandchild’s last tetanus shot? A tetanus immunization is supposed to last ten years, but if your child has a “dirty” wound it is really good for only five. If the cut is deep, jagged, dirty or a cut from glass in a lake—get a tetanus.
  • Learn CPR. Doing something is better than doing nothing. It stops you from feeling totally helpless.
  • Don’t allow children or grandchildren to eat or chew gum on the playing field. During an injury the airway can easily become blocked creating a critical situation.
  • See if your Athletic Association has a rule forbidding a coach to move a child from the field. The game can wait. Your child’s injury comes first!

Remember this advice from an ER doc and keep your child healthy and happy.

PHOTO: Thanks to the Windsor Star

Safe Travel Helps Your Wanderlust

Safe Travel Helps Your Wanderlust

Ah the wanderlust of travel. It creeps upon us and we throw up our hands and say YES, YES, let’s explore this amazing earth.

But before you head out the door, if you are planning on International Travel, you need to think about health and illness prevention. Being ill when you are miles away from home and familiar doctors does not fulfill any part of the desire for wanderlust.

On the Plane 

If you are flying to far off places, your flight will most probably be long. Some airlines serve food and others will sell you boxes of snacks. Either way, find out if you can request meals and snacks that are healthy—think low in salt and sugar. If it’s possible to bring a snack bag of low-fat, low cholesterol and low salt foods on board, do so. You probably have to purchase these snacks after going through security.

During a long flight it’s best to avoid alcohol and caffeine as both of these can hasten dehydration. Some folks even experience head congestion, caused by poor air circulation as well as alcohol consumption. Drinking a glass of water or fruit juice per hour will keep you hydrated and make you get up and use the bathroom—which is good for you and fights against the effects of prolonged sitting. And if you are prone to swelling in the feet and legs, compression socks or hose should be part of your travel outfit.

Get Your Shots

Immunization is the other key to travel—you have to prepare your body as it doesn’t want to deal with viruses and bacteria it is not familiar with and won’t be able to handle.

Think of immunizations as part of your prep for travel. Maybe even more important than your suitcase, immunizations are something you carry with you to protect you from very serious illnesses.

Contact your local health department and ask to speak to an RN about your travel plans. Health departments have charts which indicate what immunizations you will need depending on the country you are traveling to.

For example: if you are going to India, the following immunizations fall under the category Recommended/Required: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, and Typhoid. The following fall under recommended: Japanese encephalitis, polio and rabies. And Yellow Fever is required!

While researching immunizations, I was extremely impressed by the following website Passport Health USA. Not only does it cover immunizations but weather, the locations of U.S. Embassies, safety and security tips and if you do need medical attention, what processes to follow. Travel agents often have access to similar information, but if you do all of your reservations online, a site like this one is extremely valuable. To find a Passport Health near you check out this link.

Plan Ahead for Immunizations

Don’t wait until a few weeks before your departure to check on immunizations. Some require a few weeks within your body to be effective and some health departments might not be able to take you stat! So call ahead and talk to someone who knows what immunizations you will need and can set up an appointment that will work with your schedule.

More Travel Tips Below are some more ways to stay healthy while traveling.

  • Frequently clean your hands with a gel cleanser kept in your purse or pocket; remember to buy a size less than 3 oz. that can go through security.
  • Use the hand sanitizer often, especially after trips to washrooms.
  • If on an airplane, turn off the overhead vent; you don’t need the draft and you don’t know what the air contains that it blowing on you.
  • Swab a small amount of an antibiotic cream like Bactroban inside your nostrils before leaving home; the cream will help fight viruses that want to make a home in your nose.
  • If you are immunocompromised from a chronic illness, purchase a N-95 mask to wear on a plane or train, especially if the people around you are coughing or sneezing;
  • Clean the seatbelt, tray table and arms of your plane seat with sanitary wipes;
    you might think to swab your suitcase handle when you pull it off the belt on arrival.
  • Try not to touch your face as you travel and if someone sneezes, close your eyes. Viruses love to enter through our eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Some travelers flush their noses with saline solution once they arrive at the hotel etc. You can try NeilMed Sinus Rinse that is available at drug stores.
  • Always have plenty of tissue with you.
  • Finally, wearing ear plugs protects you from sinus pressure as you take-off and land on airplanes and can provide a quieter environment if you happen to be around noisy passengers.

So BON  VOYAGE!!!!!!! With these travel tips you will stay healthy, arrive feeling good, and avoid getting some disease that is endemic to the place you are visiting. You’ll be ready to have fun and fulfill those longings for wanderlust.

Thanks to Barbara Barzoloski-O’Connor MSN RN CIC in nurse.com

Photo: Pro Profs Quiz Maker

 

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

My mother and thousands like her remembered and recited this old rhyme to us:

Wash on Monday

Iron on Tuesday

Mend on Wednesday

Market on Thursday

Clean on Friday

Bake on Saturday

Rest on Sunday

She also taught us the song: This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes. And during our childhood, mom followed a schedule not unlike the one above so that we would always have clean clothing that was fresh and dry. It was a time when many moms had ringer washers and not everyone had a dryer. Doing laundry was not only time consuming–it was hard work!

Now that our mothers and grandmothers are aging, they still need clean and fresh laundry. But if you are a caregiver or if you occasionally supervise on laundry day, you’ll want to insure that “doing” the laundry is easy and safe. Working with heavy containers of bleach or detergent or bending over to dig detergent out of box are activities that aging folks should not have to deal with.

Purchasing innovative laundry products like Tide Pods and Gain Flings is the key. These useful and versatile products insure that grandma can do her laundry safely. And the results—they are even better than those she attained with her old products. Tide Pods are easy to use— take one from the convenient canister they come in and add it to the clothing in a front load or top-loading washer. No matter the size of the wash load, water temperature or make of the machine, the laundry will come out clean, bright and stain-free.

Caregivers know that providing a clean and fresh environment for an older person who may be ill is vitally important. Gain Flings are perfect when washing sheets and towels or any laundry that is heavily soiled. The product has a long-lasting scent like Moonlight Breeze, provides a powerful cleaner OxiBoost and when remaking beds and folding towels the odor-fighting power of Febreeze will still be working.

Having clean laundry has been an essential part of life for centuries—whether a stone and a fast-running stream was the method used or the sleek modern machinery of today. And if you are helping grandma with her laundry, she just might have a memory to share. Though I wasn’t doing the work when my mom was hanging out the laundry to dry–here is what I love remembering: the flapping of the sheets and towels as they wrestle with the wind, and the creaking of the laundry poles as they perform their Atlas-job holding up the line, and the intense scent that clings to my brother’s and my skin as we run under the warming linen. Mom always shooed us to the back of the yard. There we would flop down in the brilliant grass and watch as she stretched the wet fabric of the next sheet, working the clothespins onto it with a squeak, the taut line groaning. This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes—

Great memories to share while you are using innovative laundry products that make caregiving and laundry time easy and safe. And remember to keep these products and all cleaning products out of the reach of children.

 

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

 

Photo: countryliving.com

 

As a member of The bLink Marketing Network, I participated in this sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Proctor & Gamble. The opinions and text are all mine.