Friday, September 30, 2005

The Friday Update

First, I want to bring you up to speed on the current work-in-progress, DEADLY GAMBLE, which will be published in November of 06, in trade-size paperback, by HQN. I expect to finish the rough draft--revisions still ahead--this very day. It's been an amazing experience; even though I've written approximately 100 books--I lost count years ago--each one takes me into new territory, both interior and exterior. It's always an exciting journey, and usually exhausting--more so in this case, because Mojo Sheepshanks, the heroine of this brand new series, is absolutely intrepid. She goes where no sensible person would go, and of course, I have to travel with her. I'm looking forward to a break. I'm also looking forward to the next Mojo story!

Here's what else is going on Linda-World:

The horses are heading north this weekend, in the care of my cousin, Steve Wiley, and his son, Andy. I'm going to have to cry a little, but Skye, Banjo, Buck and Coco need to go on ahead, so they have time to grow a coat of winter hair. I wouldn't trust them to just anybody--Steve and Andy love them as much as I do. Soon, I hope, I'll be living up there with them, on my new ranch, which I plan to call the Triple L. (Linda Lee Lael).

I've decided to learn to play poker. I'll tell you more about that later, but suffice it to say, I'll be writing 3 modern McKettrick books soon, and poker figures prominently in the stories. These guys need to know when to fold 'em, know when to hold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to RUN! Rest assured, they'll never count their money while they're sittin' at the table, because there'll be time enough for countin', when the dealin's done.

I'm going back to Weight Watchers on Tuesday morning. Alcoholics need to go to AA, and I need to go to WW! :) Might as well just accept it.

It's cooling off here in Arizona, and what a relief that is. I had to laugh yesterday, when I realized that 96 degrees is a cool temperature to me!

More next week.

Plan something new and impossible.

Have a wonderful weekend.

And hold onto your COURAGE.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

All Grown Up and Still Trying Out for Cheerleader

It starts early, when we're little girls. (Little boys have their own version, but that's another subject for another day. And never having been a little boy, I can't speak with any real authority on the subject anyway.)

Try-outs are about being good enough.
Skinny enough.
Pretty enough.
Popular enough.
You've gotta be CHOSEN, the theory goes.
By whom?
The Universe. The System. Society. Fashion designers in New York. TV and magazines. (Oh, don't get me started on the media's role in getting the whole self-hate, anorexic ball rolling!) In short, some nebulous "they", with some sweeping mandate to choose, to decide and decree who's valuable and who isn't. It's a great way to keep smart girls down (smart girls are very dangerous, you know, because they have the potential to change the world) , and if they go ahead and get into the game, choosing themselves, you can usually bring them down by slapping on that all-purpose weapon-word, Bitch.
Martha Stewart is a prime example of this. Sure, she shouldn't have lied, or done whatever it was she did, and then denied it. But let's face it. When a man does something like that, he usually gets a slap on the wrist, at worst. It's considered business acumen. Atta boy, go-get-em, and all that garbage. Martha's great sin is being a successful, visible woman. Fortunately for her, she's not afraid of the word "bitch". Indeed, I think she revels in it, and if I were any one of the guys who hamstrung her, I'd watch my back.
We all buy into this patriarchal crap, at one point or another. We grow up with it, and make it part of us. Logic says it ought to be left behind, when we graduate from high school, but it usually lasts a lot longer than that.
Once in a while, some Sleeping Beauty wakes up and calls bullshit, and out comes mega-word. BITCH.
So what?
Says who?
If you want to do anything big in this world, you'd better get used to that word. You'd better start loving it. But lest you think I'm saying you ought to retaliate, I want to add this. You don't have to play by anybody else's rules, and that includes wasting creative energy in pissing matches. That's just another trap.
I declare this National Bitch Day.
National Bitch Week.
Maybe even National Bitch YEAR.
Go ahead, be a bitch.
Just get into the game.
It takes COURAGE, but you can do it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

An Allegory

This came to me this morning, while I was journaling, and it resonated so much that I immediately wanted to share it with you. All it really requires is a willingness to go along on a little imaginary journey...

Imagine yourself as a lighthouse. The stormy seas surrounding the little spit of hard, rocky ground upon which you stand are life circumstances, things you cannot control. Beyond the frayed edges of that storm are ships, with your name on the manifest. They carry your dreams.

Now, if you are like me, you have been trying to swim out to those ships, and tow them in by taking their lines in your teeth. You have sailed, sometimes, in leaky dinghies, and you've taken a real battering and swallowed a lot of seawater. Because you abandoned your post in the lighthouse, some of those ships have even crashed into the rocks and spilled broken treasures along the shoreline of your life. Chances are, you've spent a lot of time scavenging, searching for things you can save. Maybe you believe the ships have sailed by, and dropped anchor in someone else's port. Maybe you've even been afraid they were pirate ships, and deliberately doused your light, so they wouldn't find you. (Very foolish, grasshopper. Pirate ships are not attracted to light. They operate best in darkness. Therefore, by shutting down the light, you drew them to you. What an irony, but there it is.)

Listen up. Go back to the lighthouse. Climb the stairs, and attend to the light. The ships will sail in on their own, when they can track the beam of light to guide them.

What is the Light? It is that truest place inside you, where the physical and nonphysical worlds connect. You know it's there--you've probably happened upon it in rare moments.

Your mind is NOT the light, it is the transmitter of the light.

I hear you. Wonderful allegory, you're saying, but how do I apply it? I don't know how to run a lighthouse.

For me, it's mainly about prayer. Staying home in my own mind, keeping the light burning. No more dives into the drink. No more leaky dinghies. It's about trusting that those ships are out there, that they belong to me, and that they will come in, under their own power, if I just "man" the lighthouse.

Think about it.
Ask for guidance. There's a Master Lighthouse Keeper waiting to help.
There's a reason why lighthouses are symbols of safety in a storm.

In the meantime, Courage.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I'm back!

Actually, I wasn't away, but all day yesterday, MSN's servers were down, and I couldn't get online to write this blog. Like many things, large and small, that are suddenly taken away, this gave me a real appreciation for MSN's normal efficiency!

My thoughts have been taking a more grateful turn lately--and I am normally a grateful person, anyway. Every day, at the end of my Morning Pages, I list at least five things I'm thankful for, and I've been doing that for a long time. Still, seeing the ravages of the hurricanes made me even more aware of how blessed me are, those of us still going about our ordinary days. And how precious are those ordinary days! The victims of the recent storms must yearn, often and poignantly, for the things and people they may have taken for granted, at least part of the time.

The other day, I visited the supermarket. It was the weekend, and I wanted to cook a little---for the dogs and for myself. So I drove to the store, with a list in hand. I've gone grocery shopping a million times, haven't you? It's definitely ordinary--especially in America. So I walk in, and maybe for the first time, I really see the wonder of it. Flowers, blooming like a garden in the corner by the main entrance. Fruits and vegetables so colorful and so varied that a half-wit could write stirring poetry about them. Milk and butter and magazines, shampoo and deodorant, all manner of wonderfully ordinary things.

I'm not proud of this, but I've often griped about shopping for food. I'd made it into a chore, a big production, a drama, and there were so many things I'd rather have been doing. But on this bright Saturday morning, I suddenly wanted to weep with gratitude! I felt as though I'd walked right into a giant cornucopia. Such abundance, such quality, such choice. I couldn't help thinking how I'd miss this thing I had never properly appreciated, if it were suddenly gone. I had my own personal Thanksgiving that day, and it's still with me.

We often act, I think, as if we are entitled to these luxuries. As if they are somehow our due. What, you don't carry my brand of yogurt? These prices are highway robbery! Why is that woman taking forever and a day to get change out of her purse and holding up the line? Don't these people know I have things to do?

In all these attitudes, there are points of change, opportunities to choose again, reasons to be thankful instead of grouchy. There are probably half a dozen other brands of yogurt, if not more. Most of us can afford to pay the prices, and when you consider all the steps involved in getting a box of detergent, for example, from the factory to the shelf, it's not so bad. And the woman holding up the line? Well, this is an occasion for her, since she doesn't get out so much anymore--she's been through the Depression, maybe, and she's got to watch her pennies. Nothing I have to do after I leave that store is more important than kindness or patience. I'm not going to tap my foot or look impatiently at my watch. I'm going to stand there and be grateful that, for some unknown reason, I am among the blessed. It may not always be so, for we are all subject to disaster, not just those people in those other states. I believe there's a purpose and a plan to it all. I also believe that God loves us all equally, and none of us are exempt from calamity. This is earth, not heaven. The suddenly homeless, the lost and separated, well, any one of us could find ourselves in their midst, at any time.

We don't need to be afraid. We DO need to be grateful. We need to be generous.

What are you thankful for?

Have courage.

Friday, September 23, 2005

More on the Succession of You's

There's good news and bad news.
The good news is, you have a lot of options, and you could become any one of a number of future you's.
The bad news is, you have a lot of options, and you could become any one of a number of future you's.
The person you are today is the result of choices made by earlier you's. That is the law, and there is no changing it. (You don't get to blame God, the government, your mother, that nasty co-worker, or your ex-husband. The universe operates under the law of free choice. As they say in the 12 step programs, your best thinking got you here. If you don't like wherever that is, change your thinking. It's like a navigational system in a vehicle--it will follow the coordinates you set.)
I hear you. You're saying, "Did all those people in the way of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita choose that path?"
I believe that, in the strictest, most elemental sense, they did. Before they came into this wonderful, dangerous, messy world, they agreed to the experience, for purposes only God can fully understand. I know it's tough to wrap a mortal brain around this, but that's why they call it Faith. If we didn't have to take a lot of things on trust, what would be the point of the exercise? And no--this does not excuse the rest of us from compassion and generosity and active participation in the solutions. If we don't push up our sleeves, forget our differences, and wade in to help, who will?
And who really knows? The hurricanes may have been allowed because it seems to take a major disaster to get people giving and thinking as a unit. Furthermore, the hurricane may be a pivotal point along the path to the selves these individuals want to become. Adversity can crush the spirit, or it can strengthen. Even if you didn't choose the disaster, you can still choose your interpretation of it. That's the fulcrum, the point where the balance shifts. It's not the event. It's your interpretation of the event.
Back to the succession of you's. The first step in getting unstuck is to choose a direction. Who do you want to become, day by day and choice by choice? Go ahead, check out your future selves. Use that powerful imagination of yours. Pick a self you like, and one who is doing something you now regard as impossible. (That's important. Why bother with a self who won't step outside her comfort zone and try something new?) Journal about this Future Self of yours. Maybe even dialogue with her. (I do this a lot, and it's powerful.) Ask her questions. How did she get where she is? What steps did she take? (Don't expect her to be perfect. She's still moving along the chain of successive selves, toward an even better version of herself.)
As an example, do you want to live in abundance, or do you want to be a bag lady?
If you make conscious, focused choices, you will do the former. If you live by default, believing that life is random and you're a victim, you might become the latter. (Though probably not, because there's Grace to consider. Thank God for unanswered prayers.)
I guess the bottom line is, show up, suit up, and play the game. Be involved. Be present. Be the best current you possible. Know that bruised knees and bloody noses happen, in any game.
Choose an objective.
Set a course.
And move toward the next self, choice by choice.
Don't try to leap from Current You to Mother Theresa. Quantum leaps are no good, because when you make one, you miss all the learning experiences in between, the insights and skills that would have sustained you in the new place. You need the foundation gained only by making the journey, with no shortcuts.
Just fix your sights on the Next Best You. That's quite enough. Do your best, and keep moving.
It does take...

May you be blessed.
May you be safe.
May you be healthy, in mind, body and spirit.
May you stand for those who cannot yet stand for themselves, but will, if we just keep our lamps burning so they can see the way.
May you prosper, and share that prosperity with others.
May you be your own best friend, for then you will be able to be a real friend to others as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

What Seems Impossible?

I have been doing the impossible for many years.
It is, for instance, impossible for a Northport girl with only a high school education to become a New York Times bestselling author, travel the world over, and live at a standard that would have seemed suitable for kings and queens, to that earlier Linda.
And yet here I am, living that dream, looking back over the long succession of Lindas I have been. Each one contributed, in her own way, and by the light available to her in her time and place, to the journey.
Now, I am again facing the impossible.
Selling this house.
Making the monumental move to the new one.
Okay, people do that every day, but I have a bad cold and I'm whiney and right now, it looks very impossible. And I could give you a thousand good reasons why I shouldn't even try. (And all of them are sheep-dip.)
What shall I do?
Do it anyway.
Because just as I can look back at the succession of Lindas standing behind me, I can also look forward, to those Lindas I will become.
One of them lives in the new house, in the new place.
One of them looks back, with a knowing smile, on the dreams I am dreaming today. "Oh, that?" she says, with a wave of her hand. "Been there, DONE that. What's next?"
What is your succession of Sallys or Pats or Helenas or Vickis or Your Name Here's urging you to do, be, or have?
What looks impossible to you?
That's a clue. Pick the most impossible thing. Travel in that direction--send your heart and your brain ahead, as a sort of scouting party. See what you would look like, doing that impossible thing. What future you is waiting there?
Have COURAGE. There are a whole succession of new yous awaiting you along the path, and believe me, they are spectacular people. They will help you, if you will only consciously set your course and put one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On the Home Stretch With Mojo

Mojo is the heroine of my current writing project, "Deadly Gamble", which will be out in November of next year.

Getting to know Mojo has been a real discovery process. She's even more of a handful to write about than Clare Westbrook, (of "Don't Look Now", "Never Look Back", and "One Last Look"). Clare once saw the ghost of her sister, Tracy. Mojo deals with ghosts on an ongoing basis, starting with her ex-husband, Nick, and her childhood cat, Chester. She's just starting out as a private detective, quite a jump from her former career as a medical billing clerk, and figuring things out as she goes along.

I love her audacity. I love her courage. I love her irreverent sense of humor.

At present, I'm planning three books, and finishing up book one now. I'm not sure, but I think this series could continue beyond the end of the third story. That, dear readers, will be up to you.

I will be writing a Special Edition next, and I'm looking forward to it. It's a story I've long wanted to write--about two heroines and two heros, living in the same house in different centuries. There are some McKettricks mixed in here, and the house in which the story takes place is Holt and Lorelei's place on the Triple M.

Soon, you will be meeting three modern McKettrick men--Rance, Keegan and Jesse. They are rodeo-riding, poker-playing rascals, and their women are more than a match. I'll keep you updated on release dates.

A lot of you have asked about "The Man from Stone Creek". That's coming in June of 06.
"The Petticoat Cattle Company" is scheduled for June of 07.

Movin' on.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama did not say anything I had not heard before, and yet the experience was still powerful. Why is that? Because the Dalai Lama is centered within himself, and in this way he affects the energies of all who come near him. I saw many genuine devotees in the crowd, and some who were, at essence, I humbly suspect, simply rebelling against something in their own religious upbringing. (In other words, this was more about flouting Grandma's rabid fundamentalism than any true belief they could honestly claim for themselves.) There is, of course, a major difference between joining a movement or catching a thought wave because we authentically identify with it, and doing it because we are opposed to something else. The difference is, to paraphrase Mark Twain, roughly the difference between a lightning bolt and a lightning bug. A choice made from a stance of rebellion is often not a true choice at all--it is a reaction, rather than a response. Again, lightning bolt/lightning bug. I believe we are born into a culture or situation for a reason, and that our job is to change said culture or situation, where change is needed, from within.

It is certainly a good thing to identify with other cultures and belief systems, that is the beginning of harmony, compassion and peace. But I wonder at the number of people who seem to want to abandon the cultural frame of reference into which they were effectively sent.

I wonder about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

We can only foment real change from within, by becoming catalysts. It is evident to me that external solutions rarely work, except when they stem from an internal shift.

I have great respect for the Dalai Lama, and for Buddhists in general. I was born into Christianity, however, and given a mission. All of us were, whatever our religious background. It makes sense to me to bloom where I was planted, but I could be wrong.

I was once, in 1957. (Just kidding.)

Meanwhile, have COURAGE.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tucson and the Dalai Lama

Today, after spending most of 3 days flat on my back, full of antibiotics, I'm heading south to Tucson with some good friends to hear the Dalai Lama speak. I could not be more thrilled, as evidenced by the fact that I am willing to rise from the near-dead to go along on this little jaunt.

The women I'll be traveling with are so interesting--this means you, Pat, Sandi and Marian--that I will probably get as many insights and ideas from the conversation as we travel as from the Dalai Lama himself.

I'm always up for a new insight. Something that turns a bulb on in my brain, and I love a new experience, too.

It's not everyday you get a chance to see the Dalai Lama, even from afar, as I probably will. I saw the Pope once, in St. Peter's Square, quite by accident, and what a memory that is. All that, and I'm a Presbyterian girl, turned Unity. You just have to be open, and all kinds of wonderful chances come your way.

Tomorrow, I will report.

In the meantime, have COURAGE.

It will be a long pull, but together, as a people, we can do this.

Friday, September 16, 2005

One More Thing

I know your giving budgets are probably strained to the max, but here's a worthy cause, a little church in Mississippi. They're trying to help people refill perscriptions, buy supplies, etc. I know even $5 or $10 would be a blessing to them. New Orleans is getting most of the media play, and God knows, it breaks my heart to see one of my favorite cities in such straits, but Mississippi and Alabama were hard hit as well, and we need to remember them.

Michael Memorial Baptist Church
15053 John Clark Road
Gulfport, MS 39503

Thank you for anything you can do. If you can't send money, please pray. (And if you CAN send money, pray anyway!) These good people are soldiering on bravely in the face of an overwhelming catastrophe. We need to hold them in our hearts and prayers.

Deadly Gamble

I am loving writing this new book! It's called "Deadly Gamble", and it's the first of the new romantic suspense series I'm doing for HQN. I can barely keep up with the heroine--Mojo Sheepshanks is a real pistol, to say the least. And her man, Tucker Darroch, ain't bad, either.

I invariably fall in love with my heroes, but I'm fickle. Gotta admit it. I'm still madly in love with Sam O'Ballivan, of "The Man from Stone Creek" fame, and I can't wait to share that book with you.

It's Friday, and I'm looking forward to the weekend. I'd like to see that new Jodie Foster movie, the one where she can't find her daughter on the airplane. Talk about having something at stake! As the mother of a daughter, I can identify, and I really want to see how they get out of this one. I also want to kick back and munch popcorn in the dark, and concentrate on someone else's story for a few hours.

Stories are marvelous, aren't they? Healing places, where we can hide out for a little while, and recover from all that Real Life, coming at us from every direction. I've been enjoying Harlequin's new series, "Next", very much. I also like Superromances. In times of challenge, the kind we as a nation face today, this may seem like light reading, but I think it's more important than ever to think about happy endings. To fix our sights on what can be, if we all pull together.

If I'm rambling a little today, please forgive me. It's Friday!

See you on Monday morning. Have a wonderful weekend.

And remember. COURAGE.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Linda Recommends a Book

I am always recommending books. Sometimes, people actually read them. :)
Today's offering is "The 15-Second Principle", by Al Secunda. You will probably have to get it from Amazon, or from Al's website.
I'm only up to chapter 3, and I see that this thing has some insights I can really use. Down to earth, practical stuff for getting past those barriers we often erect for ourselves. Stories and illustrations that any person as dedicated to "Complete Idiot's Guides" as I am can totally understand and implement. I mean, who doesn't have 15 seconds to spare?
The content is marvelous--no fluff here.
No fast-talk and no tap-dancing.
This book has the potential to change your life.
If you don't read it, don't complain to me that your dreams never come true.
I'm just going to look you straight in the eye and ask, "Did you read the book?"

In the meantime: COURAGE.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Packing to Move

You know, it seems that everything is a metaphor these days.

As I've mentioned, I'm moving back to my homeground of Spokane, Washington, and things are moving fast. It's a whirlwind around here, getting ready to go, and I'm asking myself, "What do I want to take along, and what will I leave behind?" It's a given that the horses, dogs, cats and people will go, but what about all the stuff? In the wake of a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, one really gets perspective. There is so little we really need, isn't there? Food, shelter, warmth, those are the material things. The important things, though, are the intangibles: love, compassion, family, friends, freedom and hope.

I have collected so much "stuff", over the years, traveling all over the world as I did. And then there were all those trips to Walmart. Like many writers, I'm a confirmed pack rat. But now I'm yearning to live a simpler life--not a smaller one, mind you, just a less cluttered one--and I'm thinking about the things I want to leave behind, on both the physical and spiritual/emotional levels.

I want to leave behind my old ideas of what is possible and impossible. I want to leave behind that rusty stack of disappointments, resentments, and regrets. I want to leave the worry behind, too. (Like Mark Twain, I've worried about a lot of things in my life, most of which never happened.) I want to leave behind worn out opinions and paradigms that just don't work anymore.

I want to start fresh. I want to enlarge the perimeters of what I believe is possible for me, as a person and as a writer.

Now, you don't have to move house to do that.

But it helps.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Unofficially Autumn

Have I told you that autumn is and has always been my favorite season?
I think so.
Even here in sunny Arizona, there is a wonderful shift in the air. The hot weather is, it would seem, finally behind us.
There's a feeling of making yet another new start.
And oh I do love new beginnings....

Monday, September 12, 2005

One Thing About Moving...

It forces you to declutter!
I've wanted to live a simpler life for a very long time. I have too many books (yes, Virginia, there IS such a thing as too many books), too many shoes, too many mismatched dishes and knickknacks. Too many of so many things.
I will be giving clothing to the Goodwill and the Salvation Army.
Books to libraries and other excellent causes.
This is a huge move, but I choose to see it for what it is: a new start. A chance to live a simpler, more streamlined life. A real opportunity to leave behind a lot of things that weigh me down, and not just physical things, either.
Old ideas.
Old paradigms.
Old concepts, that I have long since outgrown, but for some reason, persist in holding on to, instead of letting go.
There are many obstacles. This is not a small move.
How will I cope?
By keeping my feet planted firmly in the Right Now, and letting my vision reach to the new house.
Time passes so quickly. Here I sit, in the kitchen of one house, and I know perfectly well that one day, when I am journaling or blogging, I will realize that I have made the shift, and it wasn't so hard after all.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down

Except there isn't "no way to hold my head that doesn't hurt", and I don't have to put on my cleanest dirty shirt, either. But I can get behind "the Sunday smell of someone fryin' chicken"! Many of you have already been bored stiff with this information, but Johnny Cash was a friend of mine, as was his beautiful wife, June Carter Cash. Not a day goes by that I don't miss them, but I take comfort in knowing that the circle really is unbroken.

It's a wonderful Sunday. The sun is shining, the dogs are snoozing, and somebody is baking homemade bread. Now, I ask you, does it get any better than that???

Here's what I decided about the blog.

I'm going to keep writing it, because I love talking to you, telling you about my life and my dreams. Because whether there are three of you, or a thousand, you're important to me.

I'll be back tomorrow.

In the meantime, the smell of homemade bread...


Friday, September 09, 2005


Please don't forget the small furry people in your generosity.

Humane Society of Louisiana
c/o 1103 Sharon Copley Road
Wadsworth, OH 44281

Send whatever you can.

Is Anybody Out There?

Do you want to see this blog continue, or should I just shut up and mind my own business? (Big smile here, because either way, it's okay.)

So far, only two people have written for their "McKettrick's Choice" bookmarks. I know there's a lot going on, and blogs are not, nor should they be, your top priority. However, from a standpoint of pure practicality, I need to know if anyone is out there.

Linda Lael Miller
29834 N. Cave Creek Road
Suite 118-272
Cave Creek, AZ 85331

(Remember to include an SASE if you want an autographed bookmark.)
If you simply want to comment, that's great.
What would you like to see in this blog?
What would you like to see on the website?
Talk to me, People.

In the meantime, COURAGE.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Hurricane

I want to make it clear here that I'm not minimizing the tragic effects of this storm on real people, people who lost loved ones, as well as homes and dreams. We all need to keep praying and keep giving, because this wound belongs to all of us, and not just the victims themselves. It does seem to me, though, that there's still a lot of complaining and arm-chair quarterbacking going on. The issue is not who did what, when. It's what we do, right now.

The relief agencies have been pretty clear about what they need. MONEY. Once the triage is done, there will be plenty of volunteer opportunities, and I have been deeply inspired by the generosity people have shown, taking the displaced into their homes, willing to make sacrifices out of compassion. Americans are great about that. Give them a cause, and they'll get behind it in a big way.

I still maintain that we need to think about what we CAN do, and not what Somebody Else ought to do. Oh, that Somebody Else. You just can't depend on them.

We need to remember that even in the darkest of times, life goes on. It's a gift, and it should be honored, cherished, and even celebrated, no matter what.

It's a tall order. I know that. But we, as a people, have dealt with many calamites before, and we will face many more. We're up to it. We can DO this.

Long ago, during the Iran hostage crisis, Dan Rather used to end every telecast with one word, and I'm following his lead.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Best Case Scenarios

Do you worry?
I certainly do, though I must admit that in correlation to the current Crisis I Choose Not to Mention, my concerns seem pretty petty.
My dog is too fat.
What kind of grade did I get in that college class I just finished?
Will I EVER find a way to quit smoking without getting fat and going crazy in the process?
And what's up with that character in the new book?
You get the idea.
Recently, I came across a pointer that really helps with this worrying thing. I'm not sure where I read it--I've got my nose in a book every spare minute. It's called Reverse Worrying, and this is what you do. When a fear comes up, it's a little scene that plays out in your head. If you're like me, you forget that you're the one writing the scene, and you DO have creative control. In fact, you're not just the writer, you're the director and producer, too. So instead of just buying in, and going with it as though this is really what's going to happen, why not imagine something better, and focus on that? It takes practice, but it's a skill worth developing.
What's your pet worry? What are 20 ways it could turn out that are positive?
What's the best case scenario? You already know the worst one, so why go over that ground?
Try it.
Worrying eats up precious energy and may even attract the unwanted event. Who needs that?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What's Written on YOUR Inner Blackboard?

As children, we come into this crazy, chaotic and inherently wonderful world as clean slates. Unless we are born into abusive circumstances, alcoholism, etc., we start out with a pretty good opinion of ourselves. We're willing to try things. If we're readers, we develop an imagination that can take us to fabulous places. The one thing we lack is the ability to interpret events and remarks made by other people. How could we know that interpretation is subjective, when we haven't had time to build the psychological underpinnings that will allow us to fly our personal magic carpets competently, and in the directions we want to go?

Then, one pivotal day, somebody does or says something that shakes our heretofore supreme confidence in our right to inhabit this body, this space, this time and place. Maybe it's Mom--we have no way of knowing that she's suffering from PMS, or can't see how she's going to pay the light bill. We're too noisy, or too something, and she says, "You're a bad girl." She doesn't mean it, but we're small and our slate is bare and we're so very literal, being children. So we pick up an internal piece of chalk and write, "Bad Girl." You see where I'm going with this. We start recording impressions like this, good and bad, garnered from parents, teachers, siblings, playmates and our religious training. (Lots of us write "Born Sinner" here.) Not to mention the inevitable comparisons we make between ourselves and others, as the perception of ourselves as separate human beings takes hold. And the process really picks up speed when we hit adolescence. We inscribe words like "Smart", then, and "Funny". But we also write, "Fat." "Stupid". "Confused."

In time, the process becomes almost totally unconscious. We really believe what's written on that internal blackboard.

That's the bad news. Here's the good:


We can look at that blackboard and erase the bad stuff. Pick up a fresh piece of chalk, in whatever color we choose, and write something new.

I hear you. "But it's true!" you cry. "I AM fat, stupid, confused---" (You fill in the blanks.)

Is it? Or are you still believing an interpretation you made when you were seven, or thirteen, or thirty-two? And if you are, for instance, fat, is it because you're cursed, or because you wrote that on your blackboard and lived by the choice? And who gets to decide how a body should be shaped, anyway? The media? Fashion designers? The patriarchy? (Oh, the suspects are legion, but only YOU have the right to define your body or your personhood. Don't give it away.)

Take a look at that blackboard.

Take a very good look. It's a template for your entire life. It's the rulebook you've been living by, and it might be time to change the rules.

Let's make them up as we go along, just for fun. Just because they're OUR rules, and we can if we want to.

We DO want to, don't we?

We do want to take back our power. We do want to plant our feet and say, "This is who I am. This is where I stand, and what I stand for. Deal with it, World. We women are SO back."

Monday, September 05, 2005

I hope you're too busy having fun today...

to be reading this blog!

Labor Day is one of my favorite holidays--oh, those Labor Day trees, sparkling in the frosty night. Just kidding. I love Labor Day because, for me, it has always been a beginning. I was one of those crazy kids who felt pure delight when school started (equal only to my delight when it ended in June!)--new tablets, new lunchbox (am I dating myself?), new shoes and pencils. Best of all, new books.

I loved that subtle, festive thrill in the autumn air, and the changing leaves. One of the many reasons I have decided to move back to the Northwest. The desert is beautiful, and I will miss it, but I long for those clearly defined seasons. I am a woman, and therefore a creature of cycles--I follow the moon through her monthly dance. It grounds me in a profound way.

On this Labor Day, and hereafter, let us embrace the Mystery. There are so many things we can't understand. There are losses, certainly, and I've been dealing with a little survivor guilt. Still, there is the Mystery. What is this fabulous gift of life? And why were we given it? How is it that, even in the midst of great tragedy and sorrow, the joy is still there, however tremulous and fragile?

Listen for the Mystery. It's that low hum inside you, an underground river that will carry you forward, through all the twists and turns of your most precious gift: your life.

We are older, sadder and wiser, but we are alive. And that is cause to celebrate.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Where does the buck stop?

Recently, I received a forward from one of my closest and most deeply respected friends. (Our political views could hardly be more different, and yet we find common ground in so many ways.)

The piece in question was written by Molly Ivins. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ms. Ivins, she is a Texan and a journalist of considerable accomplishment. She is smart and she is funny--two qualities I value very highly--and she's not afraid to speak her mind. The forward basically damned the President for his handling, or mishandling, of the Disaster I Promised Not to Talk About (for a while), and I've been thinking about it ever since.

For all Ms. Ivins's qualifications, she cannot be considered unbiased. She makes a career of Bush-bashing, and one can only wonder how she occupied herself while the last President was in office. There was, after all, so little to criticize. (Don't write to me. You won't change my mind. I admired Bill Clinton in many ways, but let's face it, Integrity Boy, he wasn't. He was good in a crisis, provided he wasn't engaged in a sexual pecadillo at the time, and thereby distracted.)

NO, I am not defending the way President Bush has handled the current situation. I am saying that any President, Republican, Democrat, Muggle or Wizard, is an archetypal figurehead representing all Americans. He (hopefully, someday, she) does not stand alone on the pages of history, but inherits, to some degree, the effects of causes set in motion by previous Presidents, along with the responsibility for his own actions and inactions. (I guess, technically, the buck stops with George Washington, but he was a stand-up kind of guy, so no fair blaming him. He had his hands full just getting the thing rolling.)

The current climate seems to be one of putting all the blame on the archetype in the Oval Office. People are furious that there wasn't an instant response to the crisis. As one writer said, it's as if there should have been National Guard troops standing ready at the borders of the Gulf States just in case. What's that about? An operation of this scope takes time to orchestrate, and if it isn't well thought through in the beginning, it will be ineffective at best and compound the problems at worst.

In my humble opinion, we are scapegoating the President, and it's mighty convenient, but the hard truth is, he is our representative. And it doesn't matter how you voted. The reality is, he's the guy. BUT...

WE are the ones who were unprepared.

WE are the grasshoppers who thought it would always be summer.

WE are the people.

And the buck stops, not just with the President, but with us, individually and collectively.

It's easy to point the finger, but is it fair? Is it productive? Is it even realistic?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Time to Stop Talking About the Hurricane

Of course we all care. We all want to help, and indeed we must help. But we cannot afford to become voluntary, indirect victims of this disaster. We will be of no help to anyone, least of all ourselves, if we give in to despair. At least on this blog, we're going to talk about ordinary things. Life-affirming things.

And so:

Have you sent an SASE for your autographed bookmark?

I have completed the 30 day Tarot experiment I told you about, and I've learned a LOT.

Sadie is succeeding on her diet.

I am still doing my 4-minute wonder program and, even though the results don't show on the outside yet, I can FEEL my muscular structure changing.

I'm staying up on my vitamins and other supplements, getting lots of rest, and focusing on what's good in life. There is so much to be thankful for.

I'm working on "Deadly Gamble", the first Mojo book, and going to class at the University of Phoenix.

Most of all, I am counting my blessings.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Stand On High Ground

We've seen the pictures, each one more heartbreaking than the last.
We've heard the stories. Ditto.
The media, often guilty of sensationalizing, is doing what it should--getting the word out there that this is big, this is real, and this is serious. We all need to do what we can.
Having said that, I think it's important to add something.
We cannot afford to wallow in the images. That is like jumping out of the rescue boat into the churning waters, and drowning ourselves. It's not going to help anyone. No amount of feeling bad will make the situation better, and once we've sent that check--and accepted that we'll probably need to send other checks as well, because this is going to take a while--we have to shift our consciousness, make sure we stay on high ground emotionally and energetically.
Have you done all you can?
Then stand on high ground.
We cannot help the victims by suffering with them.
We cannot help them by standing in a place of sorrow.
We cannot help them by being weak.

We all share one consciousness. Once, this was mystical theory. Now, it's scientific fact. Quantum physics. WE ARE ALL ONE, at the deepest, most essential level.

We can help by offering hope.
We can help by rejoicing in all the wonders of life.
We can help by standing strong.

There is plenty of sorrow.
Let us now, with our thoughts, our attitudes, and our prayers, offer what is truly needed.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Drop in the Bucket?

It's hard, seeing the film of all those people suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. So many stranded, searching for lost loved ones, so many hungry and sick, lost and homeless. So many bereaved. What can one person do? The need seems overwhelming, and no single donation will really make a dent--or so it seems.

Here's what YOU can do. Send a donation. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army are on the front lines, serving meals, passing out blankets, rendering medical aid. Can't send a big donation? Not to worry. Send $10, $5--or even $1. There are 200-plus million people in this country. If they all gave a dollar, that would make a difference, wouldn't it?

Americans are generous. They pull together in a crisis. These are our people, and we must be there for them, in whatever way we can, large or small. Please--don't give in to that sense of helplessness that says you can't make a difference. You can, if you CHOOSE to. It's a matter of pulling together. Of not copping out by leaving it to others.

And there's another thing we can do. We can pray. Prayer makes a difference, even though we do not usually see instantaneous results, especially in a disaster of this scope. How? By providing an unconscious sense of support. You can be there for these people in a vital way, by praying.

Finally, this will be a long road back. Keep praying, and keep giving, whenever you can.

It shouldn't be hard to put ourselves in their places.

There, after all, but for the Grace of God...