Writing about sensitive sociological issues

Choices is very pleased too host Dawn Reno Langley today, a very renown author of over thirty books. She has also written a guest post just for us about how important writing about sensitive issues is to our well being. Writing about Sensitive Sociological Issues By Dawn Reno Langley When I care about something, I write about it. My mother coached me through my first newspaper essay when I was nine, affirming that I had a right to speak up about how frightened I felt that nuclear war was going to obliterate us all. My young writer’s imagination focused on the fear of a giant missile pointed toward the United States. I needed to say something, and that first essay determined the type of writing I would do throughout my life. I write about social justice issues. I’ve written novels about wife abuse (Loving Marie), about ocean mammals (The Silver Dolphin), about elephant abuse and gun violence (The Mourning Parade), and about social and gender identity issues (Analyzing the … [Read more...]

Birthday tribute

I wrote this piece in my writing group last Tuesday. I was inspired by a quote from Joan Rivers: “I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it doesn’t get better. You get better.” Here goes: February fourth would have been my husband Bob’s eighty-seventh birthday. It was an awful lonely long day. No hugs, no kisses, no conversations, no plans, no nothing. And I kept thinking about how I could make it better, and I couldn’t find a way. He’s been gone over three years already and those three years seem so much longer than the over fifty years we were together married, having a family, sometimes working together, traveling, eating out, occasionally bickering and having long and interesting talks almost every night after dinner. I still have the beautiful jewels and clothes and artifacts that he gave me that I don’t even wear or use. But I can’t bear to sell or give them away. They are my memories of him and his generosity and love. My son will have to deal with them after I’m … [Read more...]

How to recover joy

Navigate Your Mid-Life Renaissance With This Guide to Rediscovering Joy by Sheila Olson                         Photo via Pexels Imagine standing at a crossroads in your life, the path behind you rich with experiences and the one ahead filled with untapped potential. This isn't a crisis; it's your mid-life renaissance. You're not lost; you're on the brink of discovery. Embrace this journey with an open heart and a curious mind, and watch as new horizons of inspiration and positivity unfold before you. In this article we’ll take a look at a few ways you can rekindle your joy and live your best life. Rediscovering Purpose Through Giving In the heart of giving, you'll find a renewed sense of purpose. Seek out opportunities to contribute to a cause close to your heart. Whether it's animal welfare, environmental conservation, or community development, immerse yourself in the act of … [Read more...]

Our job is to love the unlovable

The Calm meditation leader said loving the unlovable doesn’t mean sentimental love. It means loving someone or something that we don’t even know and perhaps don’t even want to know. So I looked around my mind and the only one I could think of is Donald Trump. He is the most unlovable person I can think of, and there is no way I want to try to love him. Unsentimental  or sentimental, he doesn’t evoke any love from me whatsoever. It’s a shame that one person could be so despicable in his words, deeds, crimes, appearance – the list goes on and on – that I consider him to be below unlovable. So I need to let him go and think some more to find an unlovable character to love. Maybe my ex-husband. He was a real piece of work. He didn’t know how to be husband. He would rather go out drinking and play pool with his boyfriends than spend time with me. And before we were divorced I found more of his bad habits. He stored a gun in his bottom dresser drawer and bags of pot in the drawer above … [Read more...]

The gift

I wrote the following piece many years ago about a time my mother and I had lunch together. She didn't want to eat and surprisingly the gift did the trick. The Gift by Madeline Sharples Laura saw him standing quietly by the door. He turned and put a quarter into the vending machine.  The next time she looked up he was holding a white stuffed bear dressed in blue plaid overalls, a bow tie and baseball hat. The brightly lit restaurant was almost empty except for the waiter, a woman sitting alone in the front booth, and Laura and her mother sitting across from each other in the booth by the window. Laura was in her mid 50s, slim with short graying hair and a look on her face that said, “I want to be any place but here.”   Her mother was so short her head of pure white whispy hair barely reached the top of the booth. “I’m not even hungry,” the older woman said. “Nothing ever tastes good to me.” “Mom, you look so pale, you have to eat something,” Laura said. “What are … [Read more...]

A trip to a burlesque theater

We lied. Instead of telling our parents we were going downtown to a burlesque show, we told them we were going to the movies and that Joe Fell who had a VW van was driving. There were six of us: Lee, Tom, Ann, Wendy, Joe and me. And we were all members of the staff of our high school newspaper so we pretended this was part of our latest research project. After all, every student soon to graduate from high school had to know what the inside of a burlesque theater was like. While Joe drove, his passengers kept up a steady banter about what we expected to see. Beautiful and sexy and big bosomed girls in almost no clothes. They would have patches on their nipples with ribbons hanging from them that they could twirl in time with the music. We assumed the girls would do a lot of high kicks and squats and pole climbing that would give us a hint of what was underneath their tiny amount of clothes. We were not disappointed when we arrived at the theater in downtown Chicago. Joe got there … [Read more...]

Women’s roles changed since the 60s

I met a man at our dinner table last night who not only was from Chicago, he also worked at TRW where my husband and I worked for many years in California. That reminded me of the speech I gave at a luncheon about the changing roles of women over the last few decades – changes I’ve personally experienced. Here it is: I hired into this company –now called Northrop Grumman and then called Space Technology Laboratories – for the first time in 1963, the dark ages, as one of my young colleagues likes to say. It was a few months before Oswald killed President Kennedy. Just to set the stage: Only four buildings were on the Space Park campus – the first three research R buildings and an one executive E building. The next year Building S the service building was opened and, we called the room next to the cafeteria the Waitress Dining Room. Now it’s a gift shop. There was: no such thing as a women’s history month and Women of Achievement award, no such thing as a bring … [Read more...]

Over fifty and hiking the John Muir trail – WOW!

We're pleased to introduce you to Joan Griffin and her book Force of Nature: Three Women Tackle the John Muir Trail. It's astonishing that she and her friends did this after the age of fifty - something we should all aspire to do.   Joan as also honored us with a guest post: "Why You Should Write Your Life Story." There's some very good advice in her words. Here's Joan:     Why You Should Write Your Life Story by Joan M. Griffin   I have an antique wooden box filled to the brim with cherished old letters tied into bundles with faded satin ribbons. The box contains every letter my father wrote to my mother during World War II. A young man, he’s an officer in the Navy in the Pacific Arena. In the first letters, he sounds like the boy he was, kind of foolish, kind of full of himself, kind of shy. His later letters are serious, with his stress coming through between the lines of his attempted jokes. When the war was over and Dad came home, the … [Read more...]

Not a crack – it was a total break!

As another woman who broke through the glass ceiling in the 60s and 70s, I can really relate to Marilyn Howard's book. Please read The Writing on the Wall to find out how she and her associates did it. I know it wasn't easy for me when I started working in the aerospace industry in 1963. At that time there were no women's faces on company organization charts - can you imagine? I also invite you to read Marilyn's guest post: "Learn the Science of Palm Reading." That should keep you busy.     Here's Marilyn: Learn the Science of Palm Reading  by Marilyn Howard Is there a personal destiny? Many would like to know. An industry of psychics dating back to ancient civilization has developed. We all know there are many frauds in the psychic and palm reading arena. I dismissed all palm reading and psychics as charlatans, yet they held me curious. I've since learned there is a scientific basis in palm reading. Except for the brain, the fingers possess twenty times … [Read more...]

Reunion – interesting, not fantastic

      I think it’s a good time to write about my recent weekend trip to the Chicago area. I went to celebrate my sixty-fifth high school reunion. I’d been to many other reunions but this one was very different from previous ones. Before we always stayed with a group of former high school newspaper colleagues at the home of Joe and Karen Fell in Winnetka IL – very close to the school we all attended. But in the last few years Joe developed Parkinson’s and slight dementia so they decided to sell their house and move to a house on a lake in Wisconsin. Our place to stay became the Sheraton Hotel in Northbrook IL – also not far from the school. Besides me the Fell’s and John and Judy Riley stayed there for two nights. Unfortunately, others from the high school news staff did not attend – either because they are no longer alive or suffering from cancer and unable to travel. These facts again brought to mind what we all are encountering as we grow older. These were … [Read more...]

Do you have the right attitude?

I participate in two writing groups. One - the memoir class - meets weekly. The other called Fem Ring meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month. We write in the group at Fem Ring whether we meet in person or on Zoom, so it's quite a challenge. that's why our leader sends us a prompt to ponder about a day in advance. The following is the last prompt: Right Attitude. "If you are trying to have a different experience than the one you are having, you will never be able to see the present moment clearly," by Sayadane U Tojaniya. And here is what I came up with in the forty-five minutes I was given to write.   The Not So Right Attitude I think I’m trying to ignore all the experiences I’m being offered rather than trying to have different experiences. From the list of activities that are on the weekly schedule I could get older and exhausted sooner if I tried to do them all. It’s hard enough to do the ones I choose to do – like Tai Chi, sound bath meditation, one day … [Read more...]

Dr. Shoshanna discusses how to end loneliness

Choices is pleased to host Dr. Brenda  Shoshanna on her WOW! Women on Writing book tour of  The Unshakeable Road to Love (Value Centered Relationships). Dr. Shoshanna has also honored us with a guest post about how to end loneliness. Here's Dr. Shoshanna:                                           THE END OF LONELINESS                                                by Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.d. Living as Strangers to Ourselves and Others   So many of us live as strangers to ourselves and others, then we wonder why we feel so alone. Rather than communicate truly we hide our true thoughts, speak in riddles, give double messages and think we’ve had a conversation. But we haven’t. It is also rare to truly listen. Most of the time we pay most attention to our own thoughts and responses to what is being said. These kinds of conversations block out what is really being said. They create conflict, power struggles, disappointment,  and we end up seeing ourselves as separate and … [Read more...]

Do you get enough beauty rest?

If you're  like me you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep most nights. That's why i'm so glad to welcome Sheila Olson's very savvy piece about how to get a good night's sleep, aka Beauty Rest. I will surely take her advice seriously and follow her lead. I hope you will too. Here's Sheila:   Image via Pixabay 3 Tips for Getting Your Best Beauty Rest We’ve all heard that we need to get our beauty rest, but do we really take this seriously? According to Healthy Magazine, not getting enough sleep can make you appear older by causing wrinkles and under-eye bags to develop on your face. If you get a good night’s rest, your skin will be healthier because deep sleep allows you to create new skin cells. If your skin is constantly dry and dull, it might be because you’re skimping on your beauty rest. You should be shooting for around eight hours of quality sleep per night. Courtesy of Madeline Sharples, author of Leaving the Hall Light On and Papa’s Shoes, here are … [Read more...]

Listening to myself

Listening to Myself: Has there been a time in your life when you thought you knew what you needed to do, but an inner voice kept telling you to go a different direction? Did you wind up “trusting your gut”? And if so, did your hindsight later validate your decision? If you didn’t listen to your instinct, did you have regrets?  How were you changed by the experience? Sometimes, listening to ourselves means being able to discern which of our several inner voices to listen to. How do you know which to trust?’ My reliable intuition told me immediately not to marry the handsome guy who swept me off my feet during the summer of 1961. We had just met, and we were so, so different. And sure enough I ended up with huge regrets. Thankfully, I was able to put an early end to it, but that marriage decision changed my life forever. It was the summer between my junior and senior years of college. I was student at the University of Wisconsin, a well-established journalism student, a member of … [Read more...]

To live again

I've been a widow for almost three years and I have to say I'm not used to it yet. And I don't think I ever will be used to it. I miss my husband of almost fifty years very much. And I don't find a way to live a full life without him. However, I have found a way to keep busy and useful. I'm a writer - a published author and poet - and those skills help me a lot. With that said, I'd like to share an essay I recently wrote and read at my writing class: To Live Again by Madeline Sharples When my husband of over fifty years died, I had to give myself the opportunity to become completely new. I went through all our possessions in the house we lived in for forty-two years and divided them up into four categories: stuff to sell, stuff to give away, stuff to throw away, and the littlest pile of all – stuff to keep. Then I sold my house and found a new place to live. I didn’t buy anything new when I moved to the retirement community where I now live. I was able to furnish my new apartment … [Read more...]

More about my meditation story

Meditation and I have never really stretched into a lazy, warm silence. My brain doesn’t know how to be turned off by regular breathing. Instead, my mind pours out and doesn’t allow me to shut down. As much as I try and I try now more than ever, I cannot just listen to my regular breathing. I even try saying Ohm and counting my breaths, but I even lose the ability to concentrate on that. I say Ohm 1, Ohm 2, Ohm 3, and by then I’m thinking about the noises I hear outside and the chores I haven’t finished and the writing work I’ve either just finished or need to finish. And then I try counting my Ohms again.  And my brain of course interrupts again. But I never say no to a meditation session – even the sound bath technique has come into play. I want to be successful at it, so I don’t give up. No matter how many times I unsuccessfully try, I’m willing to try again. The only thing that scares me is going to a meditation retreat where people sit and meditate for hours in the … [Read more...]

Learning more about meditation

I've never been a good meditator, but lately I've given it another try. Here are my thoughts about that: The meditation man said we should not try to fight our tiredness. That we should take advantage of it and rest. And even if we just rest for only ten minutes it will do a lot of good. Whereas, if we don’t rest, we will make ourselves feel worse. I experienced that today during our meditation practice and felt a wonderful sense of restfulness during the ten minutes he was speaking. Hooray. I was able to concentrate on my breathing and nothing else – a huge breakthrough for me. That can be the beginning of a new practice for me because up until now I have always been a poor and unsuccessful meditator. I could never stay focused on my breathing and getting rid of all the stuff in my brain. My mind would always wonder, my thoughts would stop and start, start and stop, stop and start all through the session. And when the session was over, I would be more unfocused than when … [Read more...]

What might I change in my looks

It’s not about changing my looks. It’s about maintaining what I have. Like my weight. I can’t stand it even if I gain one pound. That makes me go out of my way to lose it. I weigh myself every morning, a habit I got into when I was a chubby little girl and the people in my family called me fatty and fatso. It was a horrible time with people watching what I ate and commenting that I ate too much. And even though that was so, they’d still tell me to clean my plate, don’t waste food, think of all the starving children in Europe. There was no easy way out of it. Luckily the pounds seemed to roll off when I entered puberty, but that didn’t end my weight fetish. Once I saw the pounds going down and the scale numbers reducing, I wanted to keep that happening: no more cookies, no more ice cream, no more desserts of any kind, no more bread, no more fried foods, no in between meal snacks – the restrictions just went on and on until there was no joy in eating anything anymore. Exercise … [Read more...]

Have you ever taken a sound bath?

I've been experiencing a new meditation technique lately - called a sound bath. And I love it. Here's why: The other day I spent forty-five minutes in a sound bath. I sat in a straight-backed chair in a small auditorium with my eyes closed while listening to the leader play eight frosted glass bowls of various sizes. She used long glass sticks on the inside and outside of the bowls to create a rhythmic and continuing sound while she sat on her knees on the floor. I know because I opened my eyes to see what she was doing for a minute or two. After she finished with the bowls, she played two kinds of drums. One made a quiet rattling sound like it was filled with small beads, the other sounded like low-keyed chimes. She walked around the room with each of the drums so the participants could get the full effects of the sounds they were making. We also were instructed to breathe deeply throughout the session. She said to take one deep breath and hold it in while taking a second … [Read more...]

A technical manual for magicians

Choices is excited to introduce you to Houdini's Fabulous Magic, written by Walter B. Gibson and Morris N. Young, and published by Vine Leaves Press. Instead of a review by Choices, here is everything you need to know about this fabulous book about magic - including a forward by Gabe Fajuri. "I've loved this book for sixty years," Teller of Penn & Teller. This is a technical manual for magicians, complete with illustrations and diagrams, but it is also an astute analysis of the best of Houdini's magic and a readable biography of a man who turned himself into a legend. It is a book for would-be conjurers, for professional necromancers, for those curious about the methods and means of one of the most enchanting men of the previous century. "I've loved this book for sixty years. My first copy was borrowed from the Philadelphia Public Library when I was fourteen, and I kept renewing the loan till I could afford to own my own copy. Houdini's Fabulous Magic has just the right … [Read more...]