Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's All in the Perspective by Angie Ledbetter

While searching for (and sometimes struggling to find) something to be grateful for every day, I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective. Seeing events, both good and bad, from a larger view has taught me some neat things. Likewise, looking at a situation from someone else’s point of view has also been enlightening. Sometimes, what may seem like a curse to me is actually a joy to someone else, and vice versa. It’s all in how you perceive the thing/event.

We think there’s nothing good about getting your foot run over by a bus, but maybe there is. Along with the pain and suffering, perhaps being off our feet and home from work allows us to spend some quality time with ourselves. Maybe we’ll reevaluate that 9-5 job we hate and find a way to work from home. Perhaps our neediness will allow someone else to pitch in for a change. Or maybe we’ll think up some new invention to aid people with limited mobility. Who knows? But by staying open to the possibilities, the sky’s the limit on what might be...with the help of perspective.

The definition of perspective reads, a visible scene, esp. one extending to a distance, vista; the state of one's ideas; the ability to perceive things in their comparative importance. And here's a bit of Internet lore:

A wealthy father takes his young son on a country trip with the idea of showing him how the poor live. They spend a few days on a sharecropper’s farm, then return home. The father asks, “How was the trip?” “It was great, Dad, the son says.” “Did you learn from the trip?” “I saw that we have one dog and they have four. We have a pool that reaches the middle of our garden. They have a creek that has no end. We have imported garden lanterns; they have a sky full of stars. We have servants to serve us; but they serve others. We buy our food; they grow theirs. We have walls for protection, they have friends to protect them.” The father is speechless. Then the son adds, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.”

Homeostasis by Kat Magendie

The road is narrow and curving, some snow still visible in the higher elevations. Roger is driving, and from the passenger side, I can see where the road drops away with nothing between our car and what looks to be a thousand foot drop. We slow to make a particularly sharp curve, easyeasy. A truck approaches. We pull over to a stop to let them by, and eye each other as they pass, smiles on our faces, waving that one-hand “hi there” wave strangers but locals give each other. Then, we're off again, winding, curving to our destination.

I have the realization that I'm not grasping the seat or gritting my teeth. I've become used to driving in these mountains, exploring the little-used roads and the steep drop-offs where there's nothing between me and a tumbling ride toward the bottom of a mountain, unless the trees stop me, that is. When I first moved here, I was tense, nervous on mountain roads that weren’t even close to this perceived danger. Homeostasis. Our mind-body smartly adjusts so we can relate to our environment in a way that is not constantly in a state of fear or dread or anxiety. This is the same area I visited three and a half years ago—only I have changed.

I wonder. How much have I adjusted to in my life? What kinds of things were once scary, maddening, or anxiety-producing that I no longer react strongly to? Are there important things I'm missing just by a seemingly complacent attitude? Or rather, this is just life—live it the best way I can; live it with gratitude...ONWARD HO and YEEHAW! Just as I'm about to do the mental pump-fist-in-the-air, we hit a small patch of ice and our Subaru fishtails—I tense, wait for the bad to come, and when it doesn't, I relax. Up ahead, a car inches along, and when they pull over to let us pass, the occupants’ faces are frozen in fear. I grin. I wave. I relate to them—hey, give it time, you’ll adjust, OR! you'll go back home and kiss the ground you came from.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Moments of Solitude by Nannette Croce

Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely. One person feels alone in a crowd, another is “her own best company.”

I don’t know if I am my best company, but I find myself very good company.

Seems more and more people almost fear solitude. They walk around with tiny phones clipped to their ears so they can talk constantly, in the car, the grocery store, while exercising. If not talking, they IM or chat. Keeping constant contact is the mantra of our time. No one says, “leave me alone” anymore.

I not only enjoy being left alone from time to time, I need it to stay balanced.

I make my best decisions alone. I may solicit an opinion now and then, but I consider that opinion, and all others, in solitude. Ultimately no one knows me as well as I know myself. Many people can’t say that, but I think that is because they spend little time alone, getting to know themselves.

I am grateful for the people who enrich my life, but I am also grateful for those moments of solitude. They enrich my life as well.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I Hear Music by Barbara Quinn

I’m a fan of many types of music. I listen to Blues, Rock and Roll, Classical, and Opera at different times for different reasons. Chopin’s Nocturnes are a sure way to spark creativity . Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan, never fail to put me in a better mood when I head my car to the shore. Opera can bring me to tears and all types of music can be downright orgasmic. Music and I have an intense relationship.

I spend a good deal of time in Asbury Park, NJ, which is a short walk from my place in Bradley Beach. This area is the home of the "Jersey Shore Sound" whose most famous practitioners include Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny, Little Steven, and Bon Jovi. The Jersey Shore Sound has been described as dance music with lyrics that have a sense of being an underdog. Other flag bearers for the sound include Lance Larson, Gary US Bonds, and John Eddie who often perform in and around Asbury Park. Wherever you go in this area of Monmouth County, music plays. The venues range from The Stone Pony to the smallest coffee shops which cram in a musician or two. Outside on the street corners, there are doo-wop performers. Even in winter you’ll hear people practicing in the alley in Ocean Grove, their voices echoing off the buildings. Antique shops sell CD’s of local performers such as Meat n’ More, a group named after a local meat market on Main Street in Asbury. Giamano’s, a fine Italian spot in Bradley Beach, has an upstairs bar area the size of a living room where musicians perform on weekends.On Monday nights in the summer Bradley Beach hosts opera at their beachside pavilion on the boardwalk. The ocean crashes behind you and the gulls caw overhead adding to the score. Any time of year, when I walk along the boardwalk it’s not unusual to find someone facing the ocean playing an instrument; one fellow in a kilt plays the bagpipes, another sits in his car with a flute. I love hearing the melodies that are coaxed out of them by the sea.

Sweet, sweet music is a healer, an energizer, a way to soothe nerves. I’m grateful to all who send their sounds out into the air and enhance the soundtrack of my life. Play on!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gratitude Schmatitude by Angie Ledbetter

Yeah, today I’m grouchier than the average bear, and I’m not even sure why. It’s probably a combination of several factors – constant interruptions when I’m trying to write, people who don’t come through for you when you think they will, frustration over sidetracked goals, teenage angst times three in my household, and even traffic woes (I could write a book on the traffic situation here since we almost doubled our population with New Orleans evacuees after Hurricane Katrina).

I can usually get myself out of a blue funk quickly by counting my blessings or trying to gain perspective by seeing the bigger picture, both hackneyed aphorisms, but effective nonetheless. But something’s off kilter today because even the smell of fresh coffee wafting through the house isn't doing the trick. What to do now?

Well, I could “wallow in it” for a while and see if that improves my attitude, or I could vent to a friend – usually a good way to drain the poisons – or I could just press on in my daily routine and “fuggetaboutit,” as Stephen King says in his book on writing. But, wait! I say to myself. You forgot your secret weapon for getting outside of and over yourself. Do something unexpected for someone else (even and especially a stranger). My favorite of these gorilla random acts of kindness is paying someone’s restaurant or coffee shop tab. The confused-turned-delight look on the stranger’s face is always good for a jolt to my outlook. I bet that Secret Santa, Larry Stewart, who anonymously gave out hundred dollar bills every Christmas felt like a king all year round. His generosity will be missed.,2933,243578,00.html

Okay, now that I have a game plan, I feel better. I’m looking forward to surprising someone in the bookstore cafe to ambush at the cash register.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tracks, by Kathryn Magendie

The snow shows me things on my mountain. And I want to believe, if I will be pardoned by those who matter, that my great great grandmother, a full blood Blackfoot, watches over me, teaches me how life pulses and throbs on Mother Earth. I imagine my ancestors walking softly through their woods, just as the Cherokee walk these Western North Carolina Mountains I am fortunate to live within. I step upon ground that thrums with stories ancient and true. I notice how without thinking about it, I am now walking from outside my foot to inside, a rolling motion—is this my great great grandmother’s way? I say, “Show me, Kip a ta ki, (old woman). I have lived too white! My pale skin, my white ways.” I can hear her laugh, as if to say, "You are who you are meant to be. Your blood is red. Your heart beats. Your lungs take in the same air."

I tread silent, as I don’t want to break the spell. Bear tracks, kiaayo, along the road above my log house. There are feline tracks, too, and I crouch to touch one of them—a big feral house cat? Or the Bobcat, natayo, I once saw racing across my driveway and up the incline of what is my “backyard.” I step off the road, and bend again to study the larger track. It is bear. I think, if Bear and I meet, if she isn't threatened in anyway, Bear will mostly likely run away—same as Bobcat did that day (my Bobcat sighting was rare and beautiful—I feel honored). I have respect for wild things—the respect of care and distance, not of personification of human idealization.

I finally call out, “Hey, Roger. Looks like bear tracks, and these must be a big cat, too small for Bobcat.” He comes over to look. The dogs sniff eagerly. The wind blows. The snow sparkles. The mountain, miistak, gives and takes away. I am filled with thanksgiving. The gratitude of a life full of promises, both ancient and new. I am who I am. My great great grandmother breathes warmth on my cheek, prepares to leave me, “Pookaawa, sokapii (child, be good).” I answer, “Wait! Forgive me my stumbles—on the land, on the language, on life.” She makes the branches rustle, a wave. Is gone. I walk home. I am home. The mountain accepts me.

Black Bear facts
The Bobcat
NC Museum of the Cherokee
The Blackfoot

Friday, January 25, 2008

All Warm Inside by Nannette Croce

A few days ago in my area a predicted rain changed to unpredicted snow around late afternoon. The accumulation was only 1-3 inches, but with temperatures holding at freezing, it played havoc with rush hour traffic, or so the radio said. Watching the heavy wet flakes stack up on the driveway and street, my mind drifted back to times spent idling in traffic while the sky grew dark. Jumping out of my car every so often to remove caked snow from my wipers, the only consolation being that mine was not one of the cars that skidded into each other a mile up the road. I remembered the time the Fed Ex guy hooked a chain to his van and pulled me out of a ditch when the road out of the corporate center had become indistinguishable.Then there was the afternoon and evening spent chasing after an over-stimulated two-year-old waiting for her Dad, whose company had shut down at noon, to come home and play in the snow. It was 7:00PM before I saw his car struggling to make those last few feet to the driveway. And oh those many mornings listening to lists of school closing numbers while running the limited childcare options over in my mind.

I went downstairs and poked my head into my husband’s office, knowing he’d be too engrossed in work to check the weather.

“Feel like making a fire? It’s snowing.”

“Hey, yeah. Can you make us some coffee?”

We took our laptops into the family room, sipped coffee in front of a warm fire, and, from time to time, remembered other winter events in the days when we had no choice but to take to the road.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Human Embodiment of Gratitude by Barbara Quinn

Growing up, my father used to tell me, “We’re all going the same place so you might as well enjoy the ride.” A little over a year ago he passed away at the age of 86 from a rare type of bile duct cancer. He did enjoy the ride.

My father worked hard, but always came to important functions. We took family vacations, ate dinner together every night, and he spent time with me, talking and being genuinely interested in my activities. He had boundless curiosity, and a ready smile. In college he was an usher at the Metropolitan Opera . He also was a Yankees fan. Now, I love opera and the Yanks, and I strive to enjoy the ride.

Till his last day, he joked around and kidded with us. His spirit was an inspiration, not just to me and my family, but to all who came in contact with him.

I was with him when he passed away. Death is not an easy thing to witness, and certainly is even more difficult to go through. But my Dad, the WW2 vet, soldiered on with incredible courage while I trembled by his side. I was alone with him when the priest came to give him the last sacrament. My Dad was religious, and I knew this would be a comfort, but he hadn’t said a word or opened his eyes for hours, and I wasn’t sure how aware he was. The priest gave him the sacrament and then to my surprise my father spoke.

He said, “Thank you.”

The priest’s eyes met mine. He asked, “Did you hear that?” I did. Oh, I did.

I tried to pull my hand away from my Dad’s for a second to wipe my eyes, but he squeezed it, signaling that I should not let go. I held on tightly. The rest of my family arrived and though my Dad didn’t speak again, we spoke to him, telling him how much we loved him, and that it was ok for him to leave. A few painful hours later, Dad drew his last breath.

I’m grateful to my Dad for so much. While he was alive he showed me the way, showed me how to live. And in death, he also showed the way, leading by example. It’s something to strive for, this being able to utter the words, “Thank you,” as your last. Can there be a finer example of gratitude?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

To a Great and Strange Year by Deborah LeBlanc

At the end of 2007, I proclaimed that 2008 would be great! And so far, it has been….although in a strange sort of way.

For the last couple of weeks, I’d been fighting a bout of pneumonia. Those of you who’ve had this nasty piece of business, know it’s no fun. It seems to take forever before you start feeling human again, much less able to breathe properly. Well, last weekend, I started feeling a bit stranger than usual (yeah, I know, scary, huh?) and decided I should go to a small walk in clinic to get myself checked out. Dizziness, foggy brain, blurring vision, I’m thinking I’ve picked up an inner ear infection to go along with my handy-dandy pneumonia. Um…that self-diagnosis wasn’t quite right. Here’s the sequence of events that followed….

*Clinic closed and feeling worse in ten short minutes, decide to go to emergency room at local hospital.
*Local hospital runs blood work, urinalysis, yada, yada. Everything checks out fine.
*Local hospital decides to do a CAT Scan just to make sure
*Twenty minutes later, I’m being shipped off via ambulance to another hospital so I can be seen by a neurosurgeon. Deborah has a subdural hematoma. Frontal lobe no doubt.
*Get to second hospital, surgeon waiting. Another CAT Scan, another confirmation…yep, my brain is bleeding.
*Admit said Deborah into hospital and start running more tests than a Vanderbilt PreMed student.
*Blunt force trauma the surgeon explains. No, Deborah says, didn’t get bonked on the head.
*News of no trauma, traumatizes neurosurgeon. In come more specialists — hematologist, oncologist, internist….
*Two days of being stuck, prodded and poked, more CAT Scans, an EEG, MRI…
*Findings? Same subdural hematoma that has to be followed up with more CAT Scans until it dissipates or does something….oh, yeah, and they found a funky sinus disease that’s going to need surgery.

At the moment, my arms look like they belong to a heroin junky, but, hey, small price to pay to still have a half decently functioning brain, right? Fingers crossed it stays that way. Like I said, 2008 is gonna be great! I’m still alive, able to think, laugh, dream, write, and hope. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for me!

LeBlanc is the president of the Horror Writers Association, president of the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana, and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Women Writers, and International Thriller Writers Inc. In 2004, she created the LeBlanc Literacy Challenge, an annual, national campaign designed to encourage more people to read. Her most recent novels are: FAMILY INHERITANCE, GRAVE INTENT, A HOUSE DIVIDED, and MORBID CURIOSITY. Deborah’s next release, WATER WITCH, is scheduled to be on bookstore shelves in August ’08. Visit her site here:

Read an interview with Deborah LeBlanc at Roses & Thorns.

Laughter from Choo-Choo Island by Angie Ledbetter

Trapped by a passing train today, I used the time to think about the things that make life good. What bubbled to the top of the list over and over again was laughter. Winning the lottery would be great, but that dream doesn’t sustain me on a daily basis like a good belly laugh. (And, boy, am I built for that!) Humor from unexpected sources and events are my favorite. You know – when someone says or does something hilarious from out of the blue, or when some slapstick craziness happens. Those hit my funny bone like a bolt of lightning. Apparently, my children love nothing better than observing these things too...especially if they involve their mother’s humiliation.

Over a year ago, walking back toward the car after an errand, all three of my kids were looking directly out of the front window when my heel caught in a sidewalk crack. Down I went, the most ungraceful hippo ever to walk on a dress. They still howl to the point of tears whenever one remembers that horrible day. They recount and reenact the Great Fall, adding manufactured details of me flopping around on my back. The other story they relive (almost daily) is the time I couldn’t recall the name of an entertainment center, and finally sputtered, “...umm...Choo-Choo Island!” (The name of the stupid place is Celebration Station.)

Humor truly is the best medicine for whatever ails you, and nothing turns bad into good, or at least tolerable, than a good dose. Who knows? Maybe angels get their wings every time someone on Earth laughs, sort of like in “It’s a Good Life.” Today I’m thankful for the things and people who make me laugh, like these LOL-worthy videos: Oprah & Tom Cruise spoof - and Mom Song - . And a new definition I’ve added to my lexicon: Electile Dysfunction: the inability to become aroused over any presidential candidate in the 2008 election year.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Listening for Breaths by Kat Magendie

I stand on my mountain this morning and at a precise moment in a precise time, I know my worth. At a precise moment in a precise time, I feel contentment. I am a part of the Earth World. For when we search for the unattainable perfect we contract, the Earth World constricts; but, when we find that precise moment of contentment, the Earth World expands. And in that expansion, I feel a part of the Greater, and thus, a part of all of you. I search no further. We as human animals have desire to succeed, often for success sake. We live and love and finally die, and watch or intercede suffering, and so it is in that precise moment of contentment where the importance of who you are in this Earth World is acutely felt. If I was to lose my right leg, I would cry with rage and pain. Yet, I do not need that leg to live, and after a time I go on, I find a way. However, I cannot live without my soft organs—the lungs to breathe; the heart to pump my blood; the brain to instruct, to think, and to reveal who I am. Without my innards, I will die.

As I stand in this precise moment of contentment, I listen to my breath leave my body, and then enter my lungs again. I listen for all of your breaths. Beginning with the last exhale of the dying, to the first breath of the newborn, and then adding and adding all of your breaths and those that share Earth with us, until this is all I hear, all other noise is muffled away except for the sound of the entire Earth World of breathing. In this precise moment in time, I know the worth of the Earth World’s inhabitants. How everything breathes and lives. I find the possibilities of knowing all of you just by the familiarity of my own organs matching your organs, my red blood matching your red blood, the air I breathe out to be breathed in by you—we take in each other’s breaths. Find your precise moment of contentment, breathe, and think of me standing on my mountain thinking of you as I listen for your breaths. Listen for mine. Be grateful for each other.

(want to imagine my mountain? Smoky Mountain Photos...enjoy.)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dedicated Volunteers by Nannette Croce

Most colleges and employers these days ask applicants to list community service, especially those programs in which they took “a leadership role.”

As someone who has volunteered most of my adult life, sometimes in “a leadership role,”I can tell you that the life blood of any volunteer organization is not the leaders but those people who simply show up on time, every time, to do the assigned job and usually more. Who never leave early, but sometimes leave late. Who twist their schedules to fill a last-minute need. Who never renege with less than one foot in the grave, and then only after finding a substitute. Leaders receive recognition––a photo in the newspaper or a name at the top of the program––and important career contacts. Rank and file volunteers fold, staple, and stamp; hammer and paint; ring doorbells and walk for miles in the rain, often for no more than a small mention in a newsletter (usually misspelled) or a thank you note with a pre-stamped signature.

I am eternally grateful to the dedicated volunteers I have worked with at The Rose & Thorn Literary Ezine, the YMCA, the League of Women Voters, and to preserve local historic sites. I am also grateful to those who help me and my family by volunteering at hospitals, libraries, with fire and ambulance companies. And to those who help the needy in homeless shelters and food co-ops, or with clothing drives and building houses. My list could go on and on. Yes, this requires some leaders, but it requires several times more dedicated people who simply show up when needed to get the job done.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Lucky Day by Barbara Quinn

Today I turned into a different drive-up ATM than I normally use. The car ahead of me stopped short of the ATM machine and a man exited from the rear seat. I saw a bill fluttering on the ground near the machine, and I figured the fellow was going to fetch it. Someone must have dropped it. Ah, if only I had been a few seconds earlier, I'd have scored the fluttering bill. Lucky guy. But the man was talking on his cell phone. He used the ATM and never noticed the money. He returned to the car, still on his phone, and climbed in the back seat. The car and all its oblivious occupants drove away.

I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I stopped at the ATM, opened the door, leaned over and grabbed the bill. A twenty! It was like winning the lottery. Other than one time when I found a ten dollar bill in a cab in NYC, money hasn’t ever appeared without hard work.
(You should know I have a mail subscription to the New York State lottery, which I have only once won $20 from in about twelve years. But, hey, you really do never know.)

I was already in a good mood. My workout at the gym had gone well. Nothing was aching and I shared a cup of green tea afterward with a good friend. And then I found that twenty. I knew that I was smiling.

We never know what’s waiting for us, including a twenty dollar bill on the ground. Here’s to random good luck. May it be in your favor a few times in your life.

PS My grateful gas tank immediately sucked up the twenty.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Two Ugly Feet by Angie Ledbetter

Of all things to appreciate, today it is my feet. Yes, they're ugly and huge, but they get the job done. Looking down at those misshapen puppies, I think, If I had feet smaller than a 10 W, those little babies would look funny trying to hold me up and keep me going. My big "grape stompers" were never meant to fit into tiny Cinderella glass slippers anyway, so it's just as well I come equipped with these. They're perfect for running after three teenagers, working various jobs, getting up and down stairs at the school where I sometimes teach, sitting in bleachers for kids' sports events, and getting me where I need to be in general.

Like a lot of things in life, I don't often think about my feet until something goes wrong. Boy, but when the pains start shooting from bone spurs, bunions or corns, then I appreciate them! I wonder why I haven't remembered to be grateful for them until they get my attention. Isn't that so true of a lot of things?

This year, I'm making a concerted effort to change my neglectful ways. I'm going to be aware of the usefulness and reliability of things I take for granted. I'm going to take care of the things, people, and body parts that serve me well.

And on that note, Sasquatch & Yeti (my feet) will shortly be treated to a full spa pedicure. They'll love me for that!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pain and Me by Kathryn Magendie

In nights of physical pain, I lift from my body, hover above, and watch my weakness with disdain. I dream without sleeping, float in a sea of nerve endings glowing red. I write beautiful words in the dark; they are slender threads of silver and gold, pulsing with meaning and truth. Pain purifies thoughts, sharpens the senses. In the night hours, I pity the part of me that demands attention to the fiery current racing down my spine and legs. I toss, turn, and wish it would stop so I won’t have to take more of the white pill. I argue my case, and pain argues back its own. One night, Pain opened up to me and said, "At times, I’d rather be called something else, like beauty, or hope, or joy. Do you think it's easy being hated and feared? I do my job and that is what I do. Who told you life is lived without pain?" I answered, "Do your worst! I am strong!” And I lay there, and I felt Pain, and thought, who would I be without Pain? It’s become a part of me, attached to me as if an extra body part. It's mine. And I can take it. I am strong.

In the quiet dark, I think how one day I will be a very old woman. I’ll walk crooked to the coffee pot, pour a cup, and holding the cup with trembley hands, I’ll shuffle to the porch, carefully sit in my rocker, pull a throw over my knees, and rock rock and think about pain and me and how we had a long good life together. I’ll wonder, did pain take away or did pain give insight, and empathy? I will drink every bit of my strong black coffee and I'll be grateful for its taste and heat, and I'll say, "Come on pain, today we will write, and then we will rock some more, and then we will read, and then we will rock some more. Life is good." And it won't seem but a minute that I am on Earth, just a minute. Just a minute. A minute. Minute.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thanks Mom, It Could Be Worse by Nannette Croce

Whenever I whined about inevitable miseries of childhood––the last day of summer vacation, the Christmas tree coming down––my Mom had a standard reply. “Would you rather be so-and-so?” (So-and-so being a child, usually about my age, who had suffered some terrible fate like a major illness or a death in the family.) Thinking back it was hardly original, just replacing the old Pollyanna, “let’s find the silver lining,” with a more typically Italian, operatic twist. I chafed at the injustice, but it worked, not just in shutting me down––my Mom’s immediate purpose––but in weening me from a "poor me" attitude.

Since then I’ve faced more painful events than the end of summer vacation, but Mom’s “it could be worse” outlook has kept everything in perspective, and, I believe, helped me heal more quickly. It’s not healthy to shut out grief entirely, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over a slight funk even for small things like rain ruining our vacation or a child going off to college for the first time. But looking outside myself has taught me that there can be good things even in the very bad, like the friends you didn’t know you had, who come to your aid.

So, thanks Mom, for always pointing out that “it could be worse.” Your motives may not have been pure, but the benefit was long-lasting.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Oh, Brother! by Barbara Quinn

My big brother was sworn in to a ten year judicial term this week. I was honored to attend the ceremony in the beautiful Surrogate’s Court in downtown Manhattan, a courthouse with enough marble to make Michelangelo drool. NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg presided over the ceremonies, administering the oath of office in the amber-lit setting.

Standing up there, shaking Mayor Mike’s hand, taking a family photo, I reflected back on how this brother who used to terrorize me is wearing judicial robes. Growing up Anthony was fond of pouncing on me at all times of the day, Kato-like. When I walked down the hallway to my bedroom, he jumped out and scared me. When I went to watch TV, before I switched on the room’s light, he jumped out at me from the dark.

Sometimes he used me as his guinea pig. He and his friend built a raft and decided that if it held much lighter me, it might hold one of them. Since it was rare for him to allow his little sister to hang around with him, I was happy to be included and I climbed aboard. Luckily I’m a good swimmer. They never did learn to build a proper raft.

When we lived in the Bronx we walked to school along a wooded path. After school I walked home alone on that path. In first grade, a boy became fond of waiting for me and stealing my things. A hat, my gloves, my pencils disappeared into his pockets. My tormentor was a few years older than I, and much bigger. He told me not to tell anyone or I’d be sorry. After a few days I decided to tell my brother.

Anthony told me we would lay a trap. When my nemesis attacked, my brother jumped from a tree and pounded the hell out of him. Oh, that was most satisfying. That boy never bothered me again.

I’m grateful that I have a big brother like him. Now all of NYC has my big brother, the Hon. Anthony Ferrara, looking out for them.

Watch out criminals. He’s tough. He’ll definitely pounce on you.

Swearing In of Hon. Anthony J. Ferrara by Michael Bloomberg (by Barb Quinn)

Left to Right: Judge Mazzarelli, Barb Quinn, Julie Ferrara (my niece), Alex Ferrara (my nephew), Hon. Anthony J. Ferrara (my big brother), Cheryl Ferrara (my sister-in-law),
the Hon. Mike Bloomberg.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

That's Entertainment? by, Angie Ledbetter

Okay, I’d be mad if my kids said they were grateful for this item, but today, that’s what’s on my mind – the TV. The boob tube doesn’t hypnotize me often, but there are a few series I enjoy. The regularly scheduled airing of one show in particular gives us (me, mom, my daughter and sisters) a scheduled reason to spend time together laughing every week.

Yeah, it’s mindless and bordering on brain rot, but episodes of “reality” on the television form the framework which allows us to exchange ideas and dreams. We each have a favorite contender on the show we hope will advance through the season to the finale, so there’s also an extra element of excitement and fun when we watch together. Often, we eat supper before the show, and sometimes we invite others to join us, sort of like sharing the wealth.

It’s a great midweek break from the realities of our own lives and jobs, and as good a reason to spend time in each other’s company as any. Even though I never thought I’d say this, I’m thankful for the Idiot Box, as my grandparents used to call it. It’s nice to have a free, convenient form of entertainment that doesn’t depend on the weather or the state of my checkbook, and is always available...unless there’s a writer’s strike. Then you’re stuck with endless reruns of stale programming.

Which reminds me, I truly am grateful to members of writers guilds, unions, journalistic organizations, and to freelancers. They are the lifeblood of the entertainment world and get little thanks. Many earn below poverty level wages. So today I’m reminded to appreciate those behind-the-scene employees who work with dedication and ingenuity to create the books, movies, websites, plays and television shows we all enjoy. Thank You!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mother Earth, Father Sky by Kathryn Magendie

Dark clouds hovered over the distant Smoky Mountains. I stood on the porch, unable to take my eyes from the site of mountain, thundercloud, mist. As night descended, so did the storm—a furious slamming of wind and water against the roof and windows. Bedtime brought a dreamy smile before sleep. Several times during the night, I awoke to hear pummeling rain and snuggled deeper into my comfort.

Morning arrives, the storm has passed and Sun is rising to hide Moon—only Grandmother Moon and Grandfather Sun can match Mountain in bold dignity. As I head to the coffee pot for a cup of Deep Creek Blend, something calls, a familiar sound I can’t quite place. I sip coffee and go to the window facing our porch, which looks to the ridge across the cove, and over to those distant mountains. I cock my head to listen.

When I open the front door, there it is. There is the sound I have missed over these months, the one that had been muffled. The wild wild rush of the creek as it falls over and upon itself, as it tumbles down to the bottom of the mountain to spill into the larger creek, which spills into the river, which spills into the ocean. With winter’s bony branches revealing, I can see the boiling white water, the clear pools. Creek sounds roar mighty. Creek is gorged with rainwater!

North Carolina, like some of our sister states, has been in a drought. I watched the news as Atlanta officials prayed for water. I think how Mother Earth will provide; Father Sky will provide, as they see fit, as they are able. I know sometimes our own actions cause change, and I know as well that Earth will change on her own. I did not pray for rain, I waited for it. The waiting did not disappoint. Father Sky gave the rain and Mother Earth fed her creek. Thank you Mother Earth and Father Sky. In this year of gratitude, I will watch; I will wait for your gifts. In return, I will protect; I will appreciate.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Reason to Smile by Nannette Croce

Everyone benefits from a reason to smile.

When my daughter reached the age where she sensed my moods, I always made an effort to at least appear in good spirits when she awoke each morning. It wasn’t always easy. My husband and I were dealing with many stresses back then, some unavoidable, some self-imposed. There were mornings I woke feeling down and mornings I woke feeling angry and, like any Mom with a young child, mornings I felt just plain tired. But she always awoke with a smile, looking forward to the gift of a new day, so I forced a smile as well, and it stuck.

Too soon, my daughter reached that age where she saw my morning smile as a barb placed deliberately under her skin. Her moods were still infectious, only the other way around. Happily, we also had a dog. A very sensitive dog from a broken home that reacted to the slightest discord with fear of another banishment. As my teenager rolled her eyes and emitted groans, I ran on to the pooch in high pitched tones, rallying her spirits and, in turn, my own.

On the now rare occasions when my husband and I have words or see fit to punish each other with stone-faced silence, the dog will come up and shove her nose in the face of one, then the other of us. Looking directly into our eyes, her look says, come on, guys, you know you really love each other. How can we not smile? How can we stay angry?

Smiles are funny that way. Once there, they tend to stick around.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

On Doctors & Writing by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

So yesterday I was at the hospital, having a procedure known as a stereotactic biopsy, and as I was lying on my stomach for an hour getting squeezed and tested, it came home to me again how lucky I am to be a writer, how lucky to live this life I live.

Lots of times, I hear other writers say that people aren’t interested in what they do. I always find that odd since, seems to me, everywhere I go people are interested once they find out. Even when I was on the phone trying to set up one of the earlier tests leading up to yesterday’s biopsy, when the nurse asked my profession and I told her, she started asking me questions about it. While this was going on, my husband was hissing at my side, “You’re calling about your breasts, and someone’s trying to pump you for info on how to break into publishing???”

Yet that’s the way it’s always been. Cocktail parties, airplanes, examination tables – people are curious, as if this thing I do that I can’t seem to not do is somehow as exotic as being a belly dancer. And yesterday was no different. The tech assistant asked what kind of work I do, I answered “Novelist” – because I’ve learned to take the more direct route, rather than saying “Writer,” which only leads to more preliminary questions – and we were off and running. The tech assistant, the doctor – the whole time they were squeezing me, taking pictures of me, numbing me and sticking needles in me, they had endless questions about my work and publishing and books in general.

You know what? I’m fine with that. Eighty-one percent of people responding to a New York Times poll said that they believe they have a book in them. And some days, it feels like I’ve met all 81% of those people. But yes, I’m OK with that. I love it that I do something that so many people feel connected to, whether they‘ve actually written or tried to write or merely still dream about it. I love it that there are people who feel connected to my work, even caring about the writer through it. I love it that I can lie on a table for an hour, the metal painfully sticking into my ribs, and be distracted by the interest of others in this seemingly exotic thing I do.

I am grateful, every day, to make a living doing something I love so much. I hope I get to do it as long as I draw breath.

[Note: As I was writing this article, I got the call: Me and my breasts are good, at least for now.]

As of January 2008, Lauren Baratz-Logsted has had eight books published in a variety of genres for both adults and children, the latest of which is Secrets of My Suburban Life. You can read more about Lauren and her work at

Read a review of Lauren Baratz-Logsted's How Nancy Drew Saved My Life on Roses & Thorns.

A Coat of Many Colors by Barbara Quinn

The sunset is glorious tonight. Pale pinks and blues, hints of purple and gray are stretching across the horizon. Below this Easter-egg colored sky sits the dark rim of the Ramapo Mountains which I see from my office window. I’m not at the shore but in my home in a small town in Rockland, NY called Montebello. Now that it’s winter, the mountains are visible and it’s postcard perfect outside. The wintry silhouettes of the trees reach toward the colors overhead.

I’m an evening and night person. I haven’t seen too many sunrises in my life, but I’ve made an effort to appreciate sunsets when I can. Most days I’m too busy to look up at the sky. Yesterday, I stopped in the Foodtown parking lot and took in the gorgeous colors. I must have looked odd standing there on the asphalt with busy shoppers and carts rushing by. Cars pulled into and out of spaces. Everyone else had heads tucked down against the gathering cold and dark. I stood by my car and watched the sky change colors. I didn’t stay for more than a couple of minutes. Then I went into the market and shopped. The sunset stayed with me for quite some time.

Tonight’s is just as pretty. The colors keep changing, melting into one another and blending in new ways that are splendid. I’d like to have a sunset coat to wrap around myself. Joseph’s coat of many colors would have nothing on mine. Till then I’ll be grateful for the hues that appear without fail each evening, wrapping up my day in their vibrant and dependable tones. What a gift they are.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cups of Comfort by Angie Ledbetter

The feel of this heavy ceramic mug in my hand gives weight and substance to the beginning of my day. Having a coffeepot that can be preset at night to be ready for 6:00 a.m. is a sweet thing. That little miracle of modern technology means that no matter what else happens later in the day, no matter how my plans may go astray, at least every weekday morning is going to start out right.

Maybe it’s the special cup – I bought as a treat for myself for completing some odious task or chore which I can’t recall now – with likenesses of the literary masters at work scattered over its surface. Maybe it’s because I’m a bona fide coffee addict. Whatever the reason, everyone in my house knows not to ask me questions before I’ve made my morning trek to the coffeepot.

Swilling from my mug as I write this, I’m reminded of how important it is to appreciate life’s simple pleasures. There are nice things, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant, on which I can depend: lunch with a friend, a beautiful day which allows a breeze through the window to accompany me to work or on errands, a faithful mechanic who takes care of my old Jeep without gouging me, my funny old Boston Terrier, a new silky blanket on the bed, a stranger’s smile, a hug from a loved one. These niceties aren’t shared by everyone, and sometimes I forget that.

Today I’m going to look out for these little things that bring me joy. I’m going to name them and bask in them and make sure I don’t take them for granted. I’m positive I'll see just how much my cup overflows.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This Moment. This Now. By Kathryn Magendie

The mountain is warm for January—a light sweater is all I need. Last week, I bundled up in long underwear and down vest, the temperature high only got to eleven degrees. Record cold then record heat, within two weeks. No matter. This is the earth and the earth turns. The earth changes. The earth breathes. As I walk our dogs, I’m not listening to the creek singing, to the birds calling out, or the way the bare branches rub together—I swear it sounds like a whale’s call. Instead, I’m thinking about all I have to do. I walk quickly, ticking off in my head: edit, write, go, be, do, find, email, call…

Kayla and Jake trot beside me, at turns sniffing the ground and then raising their snouts to the air. Kayla is getting old, her limping walk makes me sad, but her brown and tan fur remains thick and beautiful. Jake is panther-like, the muscles rippling beneath his shiny black coat. Kayla stops to sniff the grass and I tug her leash a bit. She doesn’t move, but keeps sniffing. Impatiently, I tug again, and say, “Come on, Kayla!”

And it is at that moment I catch up with myself. I see myself as from above. What’s happened to the woman who walked this mountain every morning and listened, enjoyed, experienced? Where have I gone? My dogs look at me, see that I’m not going to tug them away from new smells, and both begin excitedly sniffing in the grass—a coon? Bobcat? Deer? Bear? A visiting dog? It could be anything at all! I close my eyes, take in a deep breath. Listen. The creek rushes, filled from last night’s rain. A dove coos. To my left, old brown leaves rustle. To my right, branches touch, saw rub saw. I sway in the wind as it pushes against me, enters my ear and whispers: “I am here. You are here. This is all that is now.”

I open my eyes and spot Roger walking towards us. My husband smiles, raises a hand that says, "I’m coming. Sorry I’m late!” I smile back. I am filled—I am full. The moment catches in my chest and I inhale all the air I can to keep the moment held there. This moment. This now. This is what matters.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Gift of Learning by Nannette Croce

As college tuition rises so that few can shoulder the entire expense for their children, I realize how lucky I was to receive the gift of education from my parents, and for their forethought in starting us on the way to giving that same gift to our daughter. I still believe the best education is a broad one, not a narrowly-focused career path. That thinking has long gone out of fashion as risk-averse employers require ever more specific degrees, and graduates, saddled with debt, require well-paying jobs. My parents allowed me the luxury of a Liberal Arts education that many see as preparing for nothing, but, which, in fact, prepared me for everything by instilling a love of knowledge and life-long learning.

As my daughter approaches graduation with a degree in Art History, stressing over a career path, I’m confident she’ll cobble something together until she finds her path, probably attending grad school, maybe in her field, more likely in something different and more practical, like I did. Whatever she does she will apply the creativity and broad-mindedness her liberal education instilled in her. She takes it for granted now, as I did at her age. Today I realize what a rare and powerful gift my parents gave me and how fortunate I was to receive it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Shore Things

January in the northeast may seem like an odd time of year to be writing about the beach, but for me, being near the ocean any time of year is joyful. I’ve always wanted to live near the water and a few years ago, I was fortunate to accomplish that dream. My shore condo is in Bradley Beach, a small town on the Jersey shore where I am situated a block from the water.

My love affair with the ocean began when I was first born. There’s a black and white photo of me as an infant in my mother’s arms. She’s smiling, wearing a black one-piece suit, sitting on the sand holding me. There’s another photo of me in a saggy diaper toddling toward the ocean where my father waits in swim trunks. My parents often told me that they took me to the beach within days of my birth. They headed to the Island from the City, the island being Long Island and the city being the Bronx. We had a small cottage not far from the Great South Bay. My grandparents had a permanent home on a canal that led to the bay and I grew up walking to their house where we held lots of outdoor family gatherings. We fished from the dock, and hauled in crab and eel traps that dangled on ropes from the pilings. We went together on clamming, eeling, and crabbing expeditions. We fished for blowfish, and bluefish, fluke and flounder. Afterward, my large Italian family gathered, cleaned the fish, and shucked clams together. We cooked, talked, yelled, and ate till we were stuffed and the daylight faded away. These days those relatives are gone. I still make a lot of the recipes I learned at their elbows: barbecued stuffed clams, linguini with clam sauce or crab sauce, baked flounder. I’m thankful for more than the recipes they taught me.

Today I walked along the boardwalk, bundled up in my winter coat, bathed in the pure shore light, and I smiled. The waves crashed gently, their ceaseless sound a familiar comfort and a reminder of my family ties for which I am grateful.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Big Nasties by Angie Ledbetter

Sometimes it’s hard to have an attitude of gratitude, even when you know how blessed you are to be living in a plentiful country in a nice home. Statistically, you know you’re better off than most of the other folks glued to this big ball called Earth. But then there are times you forget all that and get stuck in problems, sadness, worries for loved ones, or negativity.

Today I felt blah like that, stuffing envelopes for some of my kids’ school fundraiser. Why am I doing this? The kids don’t care, and I could be doing something for myself instead. Immediately after these negative feeling-sorry-for-myself thoughts, the angel on my other shoulder piped up, “You’re working with great people who care about something other than themselves. Stop whining!” That usually does the trick...looking at the bigger picture outside the moment of discomfort or seeing around the sacrifice or chore.

Then there are the Nasties – those scary, terrible events that are an unavoidable part of life. They always put things into perspective for me. My brother, a totally selfless guy, wrecked his motorcycle today. After the crisis passed and we knew he’d be okay, my attitude got a jumpstart. Being of the belief that everything happens for a reason, I conjured up several good ones for his wreck: maybe it saved him from getting killed on his bike later on; maybe it’ll bring our family closer, maybe he’ll meet a nurse and fall in love. The possibilities are endless.

Call me Pollyanna, but it works for me. Today I’m grateful for the big and small Nasties that bring new possibilities and perspective in their wake.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hard Outer Shell (with a Soft Nougaty Center) By Kathryn Magendie

I have a reputation—my reclusive nature, my cynical side. When asked to participate in YOG, I thought, how can I open a rift in my skin and let people stare inside? My brother Mike said, “Year of gratitude, huh? You gonna get mooshy? Our family doesn’t do mooshy.” I felt as if I had to explain myself to him, “I am not…quit looking at me! I’m telling! Mooom!” Maybe I’m not fooling anyone. At a party, a friend sashayed up to me, where I stood mysterious-like, and said, “You’re a good person and you like people.” I replied, “Take that back, Francis!” She turned, looked over her shoulder vamp-like, said, “You don’t fool me,” and walked away. I slumped in a chair and formed my features into part scowl, part great party-but-I-have-a-reputation-to-uphold-so-pardon-me-if-I-scowl. People gave me big grins, said, “Hi Kat! What’s up?” They weren’t put off by my scowl! I found a mirror—scowl? More like goofy half grin-half smirk-half “they like me, they really like me.”

My friends in Baton Rouge think they know me, too. I carry on, stomp onto my soapbox. They say, “Aw, Kat. We know you.” What do they know? (me, that’s who). My husband tilts my chin, looks me in the eye, and leads me to believe I’m loveable. I won’t cuddle, I tell him. I won’t! Those who know me somehow find the sentimental fool I pack away so my amour isn’t penetrated. What am I afraid of? What many are afraid of—letting go, getting hurt, being exposed to the wind and elements. Well, come close, shhhh, just between us—I'm grateful for my friends, my family, my colleagues, for all who love me, trust me, respect me, who see into my (tender) heart, for never letting me get away with It, for poking through the tough outer skin and peeking inside to what I really do want to share—mooshy as that sounds; I guess it’s true. This’ll be our little secret.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Inquisitive Mind by Nannette Croce

I am grateful to my parents for raising me with an inquisitive mind.

My parents, especially my mother, always discussed current events around the dinner table. She inherited her strong political beliefs from my grandfather, who added some recent history to the mix during his Sunday visits. My mother and father read the newspaper every evening, watched The Huntley-Brinkley Report immediately after dinner, and, much to my dismay when I preferred to watch Wagon Train or one of my other favorites, always tuned into the documentaries that often preempted regular programming, back when broadcasting still reflected a social conscience. I couldn’t have been more than five or six when we watched Edward R. Murrow’s Harvest of Shame, exposing the plight of American migrant workers in the 1960s and the NBC White Paper showing white real estate agents giving black clients the run around. Not that I understood it all back then, but the names of people and places stayed with me: Joe McCarthy, Medgar Evers, The Bay of Pigs. When we studied them in high school and college, when I could search out books about them, I hungered to understand.

Now, in addition to books, I have the Internet, and I often follow the trail of some person, event, philosophical movement that sparks my curiosity. I’ve heard that life-long learning keeps your mind agile in old age. If so, I am doubly grateful.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Thanks for the Memories by Barbara Quinn

It’s cold outside. The windows are rattling and I’m sitting here nice and warm with my slippers tucked beneath my desk. I’m not much of a fan of the cold, but I do love the crisp, clean smell of a brisk winter day. The bone-chilling air reminds me of winters when I was a kid. Back then, I’d throw my ice skates over my shoulder and hike to a frozen, hidden pond where I would meet up with other kids who loved to skate. My dog accompanied me on these jaunts. Some of us would build a fire for warming our hands and feet in between hitting the ice again and again. Those who stayed late trudged home quickly, because once the sun set the cold became much more intense.

One frosty day, soon after I arrived, my dog ventured to a place where the pond’s ice was too thin. He fell through, yelping and howling. A couple of us struggled to get him out, fearful of falling in ourselves. When we freed him, I tried warming him by the fire. His shivering and shaking, and the white crystals on his fur, told me I had to do something more. He was so cold he couldn’t walk. I was ten years old, and he was thirty pounds. I picked him up and carried him. I thought my arms would break.

The walk home was longer than ever. I finally made it and wrapped him in blankets. Please don’t die, please don’t die, kept running through my head. I wiped the tears from my eyes and patted him dry. I still remember the feeling of relief and gratitude that flooded me when he shook off the blankets, jumped up and licked my face. Wet dog never smelled so good. Frisky is long gone, but he’s very much a part of my memories, memories I am thankful to have. And I’m grateful that at a young age I learned not only to struggle for something I love, but that sometimes things do turn out all right.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Breathe In the Air, Breathe Out the Gratitude, by Kathryn Magendie

A winter storm nears my mountain; a wind slams against the windows. I am snuggled inside, turn to watch the birds flocking to the feeders. It is newly 2008, and I will be joining Barbara and Nannette as we write our year of gratitude.

I think of days when I was hungry, when I didn’t have enough money to pay the bills, when I had to decide between having enough gas to get to work or going to the doctor, when I cried in the closet so no one would see me weakened by worry. Gratitude is harder when there seems little to be thankful for—except for the act of living and breathing and surviving. And now? I pay my bills, there is food in the pantry, I go to the doctor if I am sick and have the gas to get there and back. My closet holds clothes and shoes, not a sobbing woman.

Simply by the act of saying, “Thank you,” I am released from old demons. I am unchained from fear and worry. From the comfort of my couch where I am snuggled under a throw while the wild wind rushes over and across the mountain ridge, whips the bare branches, pushes against my log house, from this place of security I sigh as if an old dog on a porch and breathe out, “Thank you.” Does it matter who or what I give thanks to? No, it is only important that I breathe in the air and breathe out the gratitude. Breathe in, breathe out, in and out, in out.

A bright red cardinal looks in the window to me, I look out to it. I like to imagine it is chirping, “Thanks for the seed.” I mouth, “You are welcome.” He flies away, stomach full, I watch him, stomach full. I get up to open the door, feel the wind’s chilled blast. My face is cold, my back is warm, and all I have to do for comfort’s sake is to turn around. I turn, close the door against the wind, and smile.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Full Cup by Nannette Croce

When Barbara Quinn first asked me to join in the Year of Gratitude, I panicked. Could I come up with 365 days worth of gratitude? Then I looked around me. Was I kidding? The laptop I’m typing on, the cozy room I’m sitting in, just the “small” things I take for granted that others can’t even dream of would fill several years. So, in starting off the year, I am grateful to Barb for encouraging me to focus on what is good in my life. Often, the less we have the more gratitude we feel. A homeless person is grateful for a warm spot to sleep. My husband and I complain that our new heater drowns out the TV. We forget how lucky we are to have heat––and air conditioning––controlled by a thermostat we don’t even think about. We notice only when it’s gone, and when it comes back, are we grateful? No, we usually complain about the price of repair or how long the power company took to fix the outage. I’m grateful this project will encourage me to appreciate both the big and small things in my life. To not just see the cup as “half full,” but realize that it's overflowing.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year's Wish - Let's YOG by Barbara Quinn

Here we are at the beginning of a new year, a year Nannette, Kat and I are proclaiming our Year of Gratitude (YOG for short). This is our YOG blog and
we are going to be giving thanks over the next 365 days.

January 1 is a perfect time to express thanks for all that has brought us to this point. I like to think that each day is filled with experiences that add to the building blocks that make up our lives. The end product is a crazy architectural structure, rather experimental in design, but charming in its own way. Sometimes the experiences are not pleasant. However even the unbearable parts are integral to the whole. During my sophomore year in high school I struggled with growing up and with growing blind. When I was fifteen, I began slowly losing my sight. Endless rounds of doctor appointments and medical procedures were wrapped around an active teenage life. It took a year to figure out what was wrong. Luckily for me, the problem was diagnosed and treated. My sinuses (still a bane of my existence) were pressing on a nerve and destroying my sight. I went through some gruesome procedures like having my sinus cavity broken through in the doctor’s office, while I was painfully awake, and having my tear ducts drained via a very long thin wire inserted into the corner of my eye, also while I was awake. I was left with half vision in one eye, and I see different colors with each eye, but the vision I have is my own, and it’s clear and good. I’m grateful for that sight and the way it colors my world. It was not easy to be patient and not easy to think about a future without vision. But I’m grateful for my eyes and for having learned at an early age how to deal with the uncertainty of life.

We hope you join us in this YOG. Happy New Year and Happy YOGging!

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