My friend composer Jan Carter, who wrote the musical score for the documentary HAITI’S SMALL MIRACLES (Little Voice Productions), called me today. She’s been involved with relief efforts for Haiti for years, and tomorrow she’s heading there on a cargo plane with a load of medical supplies donated by various organizations.
I enjoy hosting unconventional, out-of-the-box thinkers on my weekly BlogTalkRadio Show, Independent Artists & Thinkers. BTR offers great flexibility for me to invite these fascinating folks on for a thought-provoking discussion. The show usually airs on Thursdays at 1 NY time, but sometimes the day or the hour changes to accommodate the guest.
All of the shows have been great. Here are some from the last few weeks:
Today I hosted musician David Sklar, which was great fun as he is a friend. He had thoughtful things to say about the journey of the musician and the state of music today.
If the audio player doesn’t show or work for you, access the show here.
Last week racy novelist L.V. Lewis talked about writing steamy multi-cultural romances. She started off as a fan fiction writer. I read her book Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever and found it to be smart and frisky with crisp, well-developed characters and a strong voice.
Or access the show here.
The week before, Bosnian Serb and Muay Thai Champion Ognjen Topic spoke of his journey of becoming a world champion. He was engaging and unexpectedly wise as he talked about mastering and using fear and devoting oneself completely to one’s goals.
[sc_embed_player_template1 fileurl=”http://www.independentartiststhinkers.com/show_ognjen.mp3″] Or access the show here.
Listen in, these shows were kinda cool!
A friend from my distant past contacted me recently. She sent a kind email and thanked me for something I’d done for her, all those decades ago.
My service to her was important, even life-changing, I say that honestly. But I also know that she would have found a way to do it without me. She was that kind of person: bright, energetic, personable, poised, competent.
And it was reciprocal. I learned from her. With my modest origins, I was something of an uncut gem in my early 20’s. There were things I simply hadn’t learned, like how to apply make-up and the value of a great haircut. You can get away with some rough shagginess when you’re young like that, but it sure does help in life to sport a slick of polish. My friend took me to her salon and sat me down in a chair and I received my first ever truly great haircut.
Everyone judges a book by its cover, and she helped me to foist a better one. I’m grateful.
At the same time, it felt really good to be acknowledged, to be recognized, for a kindness I had done. I’m sort of used to my good works going unnoticed, or even denigrated. Not by Sabin and my little one, who are appreciative people, but by others from my past. I suppose I should be enlightened enough to follow the Bhagavad Gita’s advice, and do good things without attachment, simply because they’re there to be done.
But, dang, it does feel super good to be acknowledged and thanked!
In that vein, I happily thank book reviewer Psibabe aka Ashley Perkins of the Game Vortex site for her wonderful, thoughtful, insightful, and well-written review of my first novel Immortal. Perkins had read Fallen and some of my other novels and liked them, so she went back to read Immortal. Game Vortex is a big international gaming site, and I’m delighted to have the exposure. Good reviews feel pretty great!
So to Ashley Perkins and all the other book reviewers who have taken the time to read my books and write a review: Thank You! I know you have busy lives and yet you’ve done me a splendid service. I appreciate your time and thought.
In my next lifetime, when I come back, I will ski more and worry less.
I will begin every dinner with dessert, and it will be dark chocolate,
or something gooey
I will choose dresses for color and not for whether or not they make
me look slim. I am thinking yellow,
purple, and butterfly prints
I will start using sun-block when I am 12, the same age
when I will begin practicing
because it makes me feel so peaceful and good.
In my next lifetime, when I come back, I will choose
a comfortably upper-middle-class family to host my wandering
soul. I’ve seen that great wealth imposes anxiety
and demands of its own. Too little to work for
ruins people. So does poverty, my old scourge.
The lack of money–for graduate school, for good doctors,
for guitar lessons, for the occasional porterhouse steak and soul-ravishing
trip to Paris–
is one of the great evils that besets humanity.
In my next lifetime, and I hope the Earth isn’t ruined before
I make it back, I will play outside more, which can mean lying
on my back beneath an oak tree and reading something
or a cheesy romance novel. I will spend more time staring into the sky
and no time at all on a therapist’s couch.
I will say
more often and do the dishes only when they’re piled up to the ceiling.
I will turn off the TV but go to every sci-fi movie
that opens. I will choose more friends who understand
that I’m originally from
the planet Xetron
and that this beautiful blue and green orb
is just a way station on my peregrinations. They will laugh more with me
than at me and they will understand the value of
I have only a few of those kind in this life.
I miss them all the time.
In my next lifetime, since
I’m not enlightened
and I will have to return to complete the balance
I will say “I love you” to the people I love:
on the hour, every hour. Even when I hate them.
And especially when they hate me.
In my next lifetime I will be
the luminous me
I always wanted to be now, and somehow fell short of.
It wasn’t for the absence of an open heart or effort.
Rather, I tried too hard, and let gravity weigh
me down. So in my next life, I will let my
open heart lift, and shine me to everyone I meet.
Yesterday started out as a really hard day for me. When I woke up, the things that are wrong with my life weighed heavily on my heart, mesmerizing me to the point of destabilizing me.
I’ve endured these debilitating days periodically throughout my life. My usual strength seems like a sham, my resilience is a distant, invisible shore, and my many blessings have no more substance than twisting shadows. Even when I try to enumerate the specific graces of my life–because gratitude is one of my go-to tactics for self repair–they vanish before I can grip and savor them.
Then I saw some excellent tweets. Yes, of all things, the mercurial Deva of Twitter stepped in to succor me. A blogger had mentioned my name in her “Top ten authors of 2014” list. A Spanish man had glowingly tweeted his enjoyment of my novel “En Inmortal.”
I called my friend Jan and she patiently and lovingly talked me through my conundrums. She herself has experienced similar challenges, so she had insight to offer. She’s one of those brilliant souls with deep wisdom gleaned from living with presence and authenticity. She also has, oh, a million talents. I pay attention when she talks. Jan understands about pain and love and life and longing.
Gently, at one point in our conversation, Jan said, “You see things so clearly, Traci. That’s your sin.” Then she explained her meaning, and I gained new clarity.
My lovely friend Lori emailed me “So much love” and invited me to email back. I poured my heart out to her, and she emailed back with such fierceness on my behalf. Her empathy is amazing. It moved me and humbled me. And I got another dose of it today on Skype, and today we could laugh together, too. Just seeing her bright face lightened everything.
Beautiful Michelle Skyped in today, uplifting my day with her piquant presence and all the glamorous goings on of her life. She’s a canny, perceptive soul and she listened closely when I explained what bothered me. She had practical advice that was specially tailored for Traci, and no, it wasn’t drinking red wine, though we giggled most rambunctiously about that.
Aren’t giggles just the best medicine?
So from an inauspicious morning flowed two days of kindness from people I love who love me. That’s been the biggest learning of these middle years: to fill my life with people who love me and support me, people I can trust. I wish I’d known long ago to do so. Maybe I felt I didn’t deserve them.
There was affirmation, too, in the form of the “Best of authors” Blog list and the Spanish gentleman’s tweet–and that always helps.
For anyone who reads this post, I wish that you may experience the same kindness and love and affirmation, when your heart trembles.
For a pix to accompany this blog: FiberOptic Fairy II, our tree topper. Because she’s whimsical and unintentionally funny, and earnest and sweet, and full of holiday spirit. And I’m grateful to her, the way I’m grateful to my friends, that she holds her place so gracefully.
The world is rife with panic and pandemic.
People are sick. People are dying. The COVID-19 respiratory illness is sweeping across the globe. No place will be spared.
Italy is quarantining. Have the Italians stopped their millennia-old practice of bussing on both sides of the face in greeting?
I bet they have. Kissing is for the inviolate.
The macrocosm is a mess. In the microcosm, in the tiny whimsical, poignant slice of All-That-Is that is my personal life, a chaos stew bubbles.
One friend died of a drug overdose.
Did she intend to die?
I was close to her during grad school. I remember her talent, her intellect, and her bright smile. Could I have done anything else to help her?
A beloved family member succumbs to cancer, by degrees. He’s in palliative care now. It’s hard to watch a good man die.
A beloved friend is mentally absent. Something has claimed her wonderful intelligence. She tells me the same stories over and over, sometimes beginning the anecdote mere seconds after finishing it.
I have pulled away from a friend whom I love. I can not tolerate her lack of truthfulness and lack of consistency right now. Usually I can shrug off her failings because I remember my own flaws, and because I have in mind her many wonderful qualities: her extraordinary generosity, her capacity for lovingkindness, her playfulness. But right now, the lack of truthfulness and lack of dependability feel like too much chaos, in a world that is seething with chaos.