A Disease as Bad, if not Worse, than Ebola

With all the recent obsessive media coverage about Ebola, many people don’t realize they’ve been infected by a disease of a different sort. It affects a much larger group of people without the need for physical contact and can go undetected for much longer than those infected with the notorious virus. Chances are, if you have access to a television, radio or internet you’ve already been affected.

The disease I’m referring to is panic, something the media fervently incites with its bold headlines and fear-inducing jargon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s understandable to have concerns when it comes to maintaining and protecting our health and that of our loved ones. As a soon-to-be mother, I constantly think about how I can best ensure that my expanding family will have as safe and happy a future as possible. Even so, I know that when we allow ourselves to become blinded by fear and panic it can rob us of our ability to make rational choices. And that can lead us to stumble into the very situations we hope to avoid.

The best way we can fight back against panic is to arm ourselves with knowledge and readopt the rapidly fading art of common sense. A large part of that means refusing to play puppet to the media’s strings of manipulation. Rather than jump on cue, we should question why they want us to do so. It may take extra time, but I believe it’s important to carefully weigh the information we’re given via traditional media and cross-reference with our research. To do so is to take charge of our own knowledge, thus making it more difficult for the media to assault us with their scare tactics. Fear has long been their primary tool to gain viewership. I lost count of how many times I’ve heard headlines like: Can your dishes kill you? More at 11. Meanwhile, the viewer pauses during their early-evening meal, wondering if they’re eating their last supper.

Such cheap tactics used to work on me when I was younger. Thankfully, I grew somewhat immune upon listening to the wisdom of those who had seen much more than my naïve eyes had witnessed.

“Do you know how many times the world was supposed to end already?” my mother once laughed before answering her own question. “Since WAY before I was even born.”

Today, I understand her words more than I ever did as I reflect upon all the supposed world-ending, humanity-crippling disasters hyped by the media at one time or another. Y2k, anthrax, avian flu, swine flu, 2012, terrorism…the list goes on and on. I’d be hard-pressed to name the last time a news story was presented without a reporter’s speculation or some sort of exaggeration to make things more interesting. The problem is that news has become a form of entertainment in a way, and so the media feels an obligation to insert their own brand of drama.

The media often portrays a grotesque distortion of society and as a result it’s no surprise that some feel the need to warp themselves to fit that image. If the old idiom, you are what you eat, also applies to what we feed our brains, then it’s no wonder so many people are suffering from depression, paranoia, anger, and hopelessness. When people are constantly being shown, not just told, how shitty and hopeless the world is, that message eventually sticks. Since these damaging tactics are unlikely to stop, it’s up to the audience to break the cycle.

Given all the attention Ebola has recently been getting, one would think it was something new when in fact it’s been around for many years—the first cases being documented in the 1970s, if I’m not mistaken. What has made it such a hot topic now is that it now affects more than just the population of Africa and now threatens all nationalities. Until now, the media didn’t find it worth reporting since in their eyes it didn’t affect enough of the world for the public to care. As a result, they’re exploiting our society’s narcissistic tendencies by playing on our collective ego-centrism to fuel their campaign of panic.

I’m sure similar panic arose in the respectable eras of the bubonic plague and countless other potentially fatal communicable diseases. Such diseases get the most attention when the affluent and less fortunate, though divided by financial circumstance, are united by illness. Yet, humanity as a whole has survived them all.

Fear and panic tends to live in the spaces where knowledge is lacking. It’s a counterproductive divisive hindrance that slows our progress whereas the pursuit of comprehension, along with the use of common sense, better enables us to conquer the challenges at hand.

Disease will always be one of humanity’s greatest adversities, just as caution and proper hygiene have proven to be among our greatest allies in terms of disease prevention. Yet, I think it’s important to remember that humans have a remarkable gift to persevere, evolve and adapt. One only need look back in the pages of history to see the footprints of our resilience. Unfortunately, that’s a message that is often drowned out in the obsessive doomsday media coverage which has caused many to lose their faith and rationality.

I’ll close with a quote from Mark Twain:

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”

photo credit: KiGos via photopin cc

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Hope for the Future

There are several reasons why I’ve been a ghost on social media these days. There has been much that has demanded my attention and focus. Basically, life has thrown a lot my way in the last six months. Among them, this past spring, I had a serious health scare from which I thankfully made a full recovery. Then a development arose this summer that was of the opposite extreme. That leads me to the purpose of this post. After five years of marriage and seventeen years of our joint adventure…

Max and I are thrilled to announce that we’re expecting our first child in March 2015!


Prior to my pregnancy, I was already a worrywart. So naturally, that quality only escalated as I began to contemplate the type of future my daughter would have. The world is rapidly changing and at times it seems that it is drowning in insanity. How could I possibly prepare my her to face such madness? Is it fair to subject her to the chaos?

I pondered all this for a while. Eventually, the answers came to me. Parents are never fully prepared for everything, although many try to be. Yet, the best parents are able to provide a safe haven for their kids not by keeping them ignorant to the perils of reality, but by acting as a buffer so the child is spared unnecessary trauma. Even so, the very nature of a new life is hope. Yes, hope. It lives in the lessons parents have yet to teach their young ones. It thrives in the laughter of the children who still have the ability to dream and imagine, extending their minds far beyond the limitations of the known world. And those parents who allow them the freedom to explore such creativity can enjoy the reward of coming along, perhaps learning and growing in the eyes of their children.

My mother, the wisest woman I know, offered a brilliant piece of advice I think all parents should aim to follow. “Despite what goes on in the world, you’re the one who should make it beautiful for your children.” Upon hearing those words, what probably should’ve been obvious all along suddenly became clear. It’s up to me and Max as parents to act as not only nurturers and providers, but also filters and guides to gradually prepare our child for the world.

I’ve always had the utmost respect for parents and educators since those are among the toughest jobs in existence. Perhaps that’s why it took me so long to begin the journey to motherhood. It’s such a delicate balance, sheltering your child so they’re protected, but not to the point where ignorance takes root in their minds. The same can be said of the ability to educate children about the darkness that exists in our world without eclipsing the light that is their innocence and hope.

I pray for the wisdom to do my best to help my daughter to avoid the mistakes I’ve made while allowing them the freedom to find their own destiny. In the meantime, Max and I look forward to the expansion of our family as well as the adventures we’ll share with our little one.

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The Quest For Originality: Motivation for Writers and Artists


There are no new ideas in the world of writing.

Everything has already been done and redone.

Now what?!

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately. Honestly, I’ve sometimes felt this way myself and wondered how could one achieve originality in an era where so much has already been explored. It’s human nature to possess a desire to feel special and to extend a unique part of ourselves to the world. So the notion that everything has already been done can lead one to feel irrelevant and without purpose. It can also lead people to feel somewhat frightened by the possibility of being accused of plagiarism as a result of producing a similar idea that has already been realized by someone else. This is all particularly disheartening in an era where the entertainment world is overrun by remakes.

I’m sure many writers share the same concerns I’ve had. During my time of reflection I paused my creative process. Even so, I didn’t sit still. I kept busy, taking a closer look at life itself. I also began revisiting classic tales, a process that is still ongoing, and exploring classics I hadn’t gotten around to before. In doing so, I noticed that many of the classics shared a common theme, yet they stood out in very different ways. Not only did this reignite my motivation to write, but it led me to the answer I’d been seeking, an answer that should have been obvious from the start.

The world is filled with people, places and phenomena for us all to experience, capture and remember. For instance; though the sky is as old as time, we can experience it from a renewed perspective through the eyes of artists, photographers and writers. It’s possible that their vision may highlight some small detail we never noticed before. And though no one on Earth has the power to change the order of the celestial bodies they perceive, they can change how we view them based on their interpretation.

I came across a quote that also prompted me to think. It read: “Every book you’ve ever read is just a different combination of 26 letters.”







Although the concept is focused on the English language, I found it encouraging. Language is to a writer what paint and brushes are to an artist, or plaster to a sculptor. Yet, despite the common tools shared by many in these respective crafts, many unique masterpieces have been created for eons.

Life is ever-changing. That fact alone presents the promise of exploring and creating something new (or at the very least, a new way of perceiving what already exists). Just as in space exploration, scientists and astrophysicists observe the same sky yet always manage to uncover something different and exciting.

Never stop searching.

Never stop growing.

Never stop trying!

photo credit: Jonno Witts via photopin cc

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Book Review: Dawn by Octavia Butler

Lilith Iyapo awakens aboard an alien vessel hovering above a post-apocalyptic Earth. She soon discovers that hundreds of years have elapsed since the fiery conclusion of the planet’s final war, which claimed the lives of her husband and son. The aliens, known as the Oankali, rescued humanity from extinction. They solicit Lilith’s help in selecting and awakening others for the purpose of resettling the planet.

However, their survival comes with one condition; in order to return to Earth, the group must surrender their humanity, or at least redefine it.

Dawn—Book One of the Xenogenesis Series, is an intriguing, entertaining and thought-provoking read. Even so, there were a few elements I found hard to digest. The biggest one being that Lilith doesn’t seem to be disturbed when someone she cares about is violated on more than one occasion. In fact, she goes as far as to participate on one of those occasions. Perhaps this was done to further illustrate the fragile nature of humanity when balanced with one’s own desires, mental manipulation and the need for survival. That said, as I was able to empathize and occasionally pity some of the characters and their predicaments—even the alien race, known as the Oankali, to an extent.

Some have complained that Butler presented an overly pessimistic and judgmental view of humanity. Then again, when you factor in all of the elements each character has had to endure in the story, I think it’s safe to say that she was being realistic given humanity’s historical predilection for violence. I’ve seen people react barbarically with far less traumatic triggers than was indicated in the plot. In the case of each of these characters, they’ve had to cope with the psychological burden that comes with the knowledge that their loved ones are gone as is the Earth as they knew it. Tensions mount as personalities clash and the awakened humans struggle to accept that the very woman they view believe is their jailer happens to be their only hope of reclaiming their freedom and returning to their planet. If that wasn’t enough to digest, they’re all under the control of aliens, seeking to genetically modify them whether they like it or not. Yeah, I’m guessing if this were a real-life scenario people wouldn’t exactly sit around and sing camp songs. In a way, the conflict that plays out among the group is a microcosm of the combative behavior that destroyed much of life on Earth. Lilith must persuade the group to cooperate so as to avoid repeating history. By nature, humans have a tendency to rebel, particularly in oppressive situations. That said, I think Ms. Butler remained true to reality in this regard.

When it comes to the fascinating aliens in Butler’s novel, they’re not outwardly villainous or vindictive. In fact, they seem to go to great lengths to ensure the well-being of their human guests. That is not to say they don’t have the potential to apply lethal force if deemed necessary. Are the Oankali genuinely acting out of concern for what’s left of the human race, or are they putting on an act in order to persuade the humans to cooperate with a less than pure agenda? This is a question that circled in my mind often as I navigated each chapter.

Over all, I found Dawn to be an enthralling and thought-provoking read that easily held my interest. I was disturbed by and intrigued by the deprivation and substitution of intimacy and the varying results it had on different characters. Yet, I believe this is the reaction Ms. Butler intended to incite. I believe she wanted the reader to consider whether changing the way we consume and enjoy our basic needs could change the nature of our humanity, itself.

Dawn is among the most unique sci-fi novels I’ve read so far and like many sci-fi novels (and novels in general), it’s best explored with an open mind. Dawn is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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The Twilight Zone – Most Memorable Episodes

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Twilight Zone Day!

My mother introduced me to this extraordinary series during my childhood. Over the years, many of the episodes have steeped in my mind, forming a richer understanding of the show’s thought-provoking and often philosophical subject matter. The Twilight Zone didn’t just provide great entertainment, it also prompted viewers to contemplate and question social issues and ideals. It helped audiences to ascend to a different dimension of imagination and envision a future unbound by the impossible. For those reasons, I am a huge fan of the series and I have many favorite episodes, but for the sake of brevity, I narrowed down the five I find most memorable (in no particular order).

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
When a seemingly perfect 1960s neighborhood suddenly loses power after a strange shadow passes overhead, the residents begin to speculate. Tensions rise when it becomes clear that one neighbor’s vehicle has been spared from the outage. This triggers suspicion that the ‘monster’ responsible for the outage is already among them. It doesn’t take much for the residents to turn against each other. Good neighbors quickly become bitter enemies, resulting in a full-blown riot and at least one violent death. I think the following closing narration, like the episode itself, is as applicable today as it ever was.

The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices – to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill…and suspicion can destroy…and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own – for the children…and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is…that these things cannot be confined…to the Twilight Zone.

It’s A Good Life
Anthony has a gift. He possesses the power to make his wishes come true. There’s just one problem… He has a strong hatred for anyone who dislikes or criticizes him. Anthony, who I’d imagine would be a perfect playmate for Damien Thorn, is pretty much a dictator in his home. If anyone dares to say or do anything he dislikes he uses his near-omnipotent powers to punish them in horrifying ways. Some disappear. Some are ‘put on fire.’ And others are disfigured. The tragic part is that the people in his life are forced to stifle their true feelings and praise his vile behavior so as not to face a similar fate. The conundrum escalates when the boy’s parents and neighbors are met with an opportunity to put an end to their misery, though doing so would mean becoming monsters themselves.

There are many Anthonys in the world today, both young and old. Though they may not have the ability to wreak havoc via supernatural means, they are just as manipulative and dangerous; especially when they receive encouragement for their bad behavior.

A Nice Place to Visit (1960)
In the case of Larry Blyden, a criminal who met his end in a shootout with police, the afterlife seemingly has everything any guy would want; beautiful women, and a never-ending winning streak at the casino. At first, he soaks it up, but then realizes that winning has no thrill without the risk of losing. Similarly, he sees no point to an afterlife without any danger, especially since he’d grown accustomed to a life full of hazard and unpredictability. He figures heaven just isn’t his scene and he requests to be sent to ‘…the other place,’ to which his guide laughs, ‘This is the other place!’ I was blown away by the twist in this episode. I believe it’s what first introduced me to the notion that heaven and hell are tailor-made for the individual.

Time Enough at Last
This episode, though extremely well done, is utterly heartbreaking. The main character, Henry Bemis, is constantly berated for most beloved pastime—reading. He is surrounded by people who bear similar anti-intellectual traits as some of the characters in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Actually, this episode shares several themes with Bradbury’s work, right down to the unaffected wife and a sudden apocalyptic event that wipes everyone Henry knows off the map. The latter leaves Henry alone with enough to sustain his body and mind for years to come. Just when he believes he could survive a life of perpetual solitude as long as he had such a vast collection of books to read, life flips him off one final time and his hopes are irreparably shattered. Every time I watch that final scene, my heart weeps along with him. It’s not fair, indeed, Henry. In fact, it’s pretty damn cruel.

The Eye of the Beholder
How could I not include this classic episode? It’s the favorite of many, and with good reason. Though it’s over a half-century old, it’s still relevant today, perhaps more than ever. So many people go to drastic extremes in an attempt to attain the social standard of beauty. And still, so many people are ridiculed when they fall short of acquiring it. I loved this episode because of the message it sends; that beauty and ugliness are both dependent on one’s perception.

There are a number of other favorites worth mentioning: Nothing in the Dark, To Serve Man, I Am The Night – Color Me Black, The Invaders… I could go on and on, but then this blog would probably never end, so I’ll stop there. Feel free to chime in with your favorite/most memorable episodes.

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Book Review: My Way to Anywhere by Jean Lisette Brodey

My Way To Anywhere is a brilliant collection of poems written during a time unrushed by the madness of modern technology. It wasn’t written by a woman in pursuit of fast fame, but by Dr. Jean Lisette Brodey, a woman who wrote for the sheer joy and passion of writing. Though her earlier work has been included in national publication, life deferred her plans of publishing a poetry book of her own. More than fifty years elapsed and her cherished poems were feared lost until one day, like a sprouting young flower the collection reemerged in the Spring of possibility. Her daughter, Lisette, took the time to help her nurture and prune the vast assortment, eventually compiling the verses they felt worked best together.

Dr. Brodey’s intelligent and vivid prose paints a wide array of images in the reader’s mind and emotions in the heart. In each poetic verse she unfurls tapestries of reminiscence, heartache, love and loss. I found myself in awe of the masterful way she handled symbolism and metaphor while telling a story in each of her poems. By the time I finished the collection, I realized that I had been taken on an emotional journey. A number of verses carried me into territory I had never chartered, but was able to visualize and experience through Dr. Brodey’s eloquent recollection and vivid imagination.

Though I find the entire collection captivating, I do have several favorites—some of which stirred my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

Thursdays Demand Existence deeply resonated with me. It gave a clear glimpse into the mind of an artist who longs to create, but is tethered to a world filled with obligation.

An Ending and Funeral both struck a heartbreaking chord. It felt as though somehow the author and I were united in mourning, though our respective losses took place in vastly different eras.

In some cases, Dr. Brodey’s poems served as a vessel through which I revisited moments of passion, wonder and despair that have occurred in my life. My Way to Anywhere is a book in which I believe many people can find some sense of comfort and understanding since at some point or another, many of us have faced the topics covered in these poems, though we don’t always find the bravery to face the intense emotions they sometimes stir up. Bravery, it seems, is something she has in large supply and perhaps some of it has rubbed off on me, as I’m sure it will many readers as they continue on their way to Anywhere.

My Way to Anywhere is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in ebook and paperback editions.

Click here to read an in-depth interview about Dr. Jean Lisette Brodey and the fascinating journey that led her to publish her first poetry book after over 50 years!

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Reflecting on the Past, Looking to the Future

2013 has been perhaps my most inactive when it comes to social media. I guess that’s because I’ve had many obligations beyond the realm of cyberspace that demanded most of my attention. Nonetheless, I’ve greatly missed my online family, friends and loyal supporters and I hope you’re all doing well. For those who are enduring hardship, I wish you much strength , faith and patience as you work your way through life’s challenges. As we approach the threshold of 2014, most of you are probably reflecting on the past year. I know I certainly am.

For me, and I’m sure many others, 2013 was like a temperamental lion that exhibited sporadic moments of tenderness between fierce rampages. I wish most of it could have gone differently, yet I understand that time is a force that acts independently of human desire. All the same, the journey from this year’s inception to its waning hours has taught me many lessons—painful, humbling, enlightening and inspiring. And though reflecting on them disturbs some fresh wounds, I realize how much they have pushed me to grow.

Numerous events brought about such lessons. Among them:

Three ER visits (my father was the patient—thankfully, he’s fine now).

A few frightening, but minor intrusive physical setbacks stemming from my, and Max’s, fitness goals. On the bright side, we both shed over thirty pounds! I also picked up the skill of bicycling—something I never got to learn during my childhood.

However, my biggest lessons came about this past Fall when I learned of the violent death of Miriam, a former classmate. We hadn’t been in touch since junior high, but I always remembered her to be among the sweetest people I ever met. She was among the few who treated me with kindness during my awkward early teens. I was still processing the news two days later when I received word that my longtime friend and mentor Harriet had also died. As I type these words, nearly three months later, they seem foreign. I’ve been avoiding doing so since I felt that somehow it would change the fact that she’s gone, at least in the physical sense. I guess I’m still processing the fact that the dynamic of our friendship has undergone the ultimate change. She was a no-nonsense woman who lived her life extremely well and was always generous with her time and compassion. She had a great appreciation for the fine things in life, but was also very down to earth. So many lives were changed for the better because of her, including mine.

It’s strange, how the mind develops temporary amnesia until an event prompts one to look back far enough. As I take a hard look back to nearly twenty years ago, I recall the darkness Harriet helped pull me from. I also remember how she took me under her wing and introduced me to opportunities that set me on a path that eventually led me to where I am, though I diverted from the career she encouraged me to pursue. Nonetheless, she was always supportive and that will forever remain in my memory and she will always have a special place in my heart. I remember her so fondly and vividly that sometimes it feels as though nothing has changed, that I could pick up the phone and hear her voice on the other end. Then reality sets in and I find myself wishing I had done so more often as the tears reemerge then evaporate in the brightness of her memory.

Since October, I’ve also lost two family members, the most recent just the day before Thanksgiving. Both showed signs of fading prior to the end, we weren’t entirely prepared—who ever really is? Yet, like my dear friend, their bodies had become prisons. And though I’m saddened that they have passed on, I understand that their suffering is over. As I take solace in the memory of their strength, wisdom and compassion, I am reminded of a quote from the Shawshank Redemption. In it, Red laments his friend’s departure from the prison, but notes:

“I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”

All of this has taught me to make more of an effort to live, laugh, love, learn and explore, not just merely exist. As trite as it may sound, it has taught me not to take anything or anyone for granted. I have also learned to ease up a bit on my perfectionism and to shelve my fear of appearing foolish. After all, I’ve had plenty of experience exhibiting awkward behavior. In spite of the hardships faced this year, there is still no doubt that I remain blessed to be surrounded by loving and supportive people, including my loving husband Max, with whom I recently celebrated sixteen wonderful years of partnership.

Now, as the yawning lion that is 2013 prepares for slumber, I extend my wishes for its awakening successor to be a gentle giant, ushering a year of peace, love, happiness and prosperity for everyone. And as we step into 2014, let’s do so with an open mind full of hope and determination to make it better than the year we’re leaving behind. Let’s enter the year with the knowledge that we, alone, are in command of our happiness, that it is something we build with however many moments we are allotted. Here’s hoping that the structure you build will withstand life’s turbulent weather and serve as an inspiration that this world desperately needs. As Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”


2014 Leaf Image courtesy of Chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Yawning Lion Image courtesy of Tratong/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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When Real Life Interferes With Creativity

This is an oldie, but goodie originally posted on my former WordPress blog in August 2011.

Over the course of the past year or so I’ve experienced an increase of abhorrent behavior on the part of some of my neighbors. At first, this frustrated me beyond measure. Then I learned to cope. If you’re going through a similar situation, don’t feel powerless. There are options when it comes to dealing with a noisy environment and even working peacefully amidst the chaos.

If the noise level is serious or extreme, throttle politely talk to your neighbors

Quiet please! (Photo credit: m_bartosch)

A perfect example would be when my former next door neighbors blasted rock, heavy metal and techno during all hours of the day, I’m talking ungodly hours like 12am, 2am or later. How loud was the music? It not only filled the public hallway, but it could be heard two floors down. On one occasion the superintendent tried knocking on their door so he could inspect their plumbing and he nearly had to kick the door down to get their attention. Sadly, I’m not exaggerating. I think I was the first to inform the noisy tenants of the inconvenience they were creating. I politely asked them to keep it down. It worked for about a day or two. Then it started up again:

BOOM-tsk… BOOM-tsk… BOOM-tsk… BOOM-tsk…

When a different neighbor addressed me about the issue (thinking I was the culprit), I decided that further action was needed. No, I’m not talking murder, though some nights the thought was tempting. Several neighbors on my floor came up with the idea to leave them a letter on behalf of the whole floor. In it, we civilly requested that they consider the other tenants (some with newborns), and keep the noise down. We also voiced our confidence and desire to resolve the manner respectfully, but that we’d alert the authorities if given no other choice. As an added bonus, I included the NYC Noise Ordinance and highlighted the section pertaining to loud music. We decided against throwing in a pair of headphones, figuring they should buy their own. Even so, the noise immediately stopped. Although I think I heard a collective sigh of relief from everyone else on the floor. Much to my shock, they moved out by the following week. We saw signs shortly thereafter that arose suspicion that they had been living there illegally, but that’s pure speculation.   

If the problem is more of a nuisance than a major issue and can’t be resolved, try not to sweat it
More recently one of my neighbors, who lives two doors down from me, has developed a habit of slamming his door whenever he enters and exits his apartment. The force reverberates through my walls and can be quite startling when it ruptures the dead quiet of the late evening hours. Now, at least a few others have begun to follow suit. I guess it’s a new trend, but I’ll pass. Anyway, I realize that though it’s annoying, there’s not much to be done other than politely ask them to mind their doors. I understand that sometimes it’s not possible to prevent door slamming when a person has their hands full once in a while, but this behavior is frequent. Anyway, I’ve learned to accept that:

  1. The soundproofing in the building is subpar and seemingly non-existent at times.
  2. Not everyone places the same value on manners. Sad, but I can’t change what should have been instilled in them during their upbringing.
  3. The frequency and duration of the noise created by the slamming is relatively short compared to the problem we used to have on the floor.
  4. Sometimes you have to choose your battles wisely and know when it’s a lost cause to complain.

Headphones. Gotta love ‘em! (Photo credit: Michal Marcol)

Oddly enough, the most irritating, obnoxious people in your life sometimes lead you onto a path to personal growth. Had I not experienced the above issues I wouldn’t have met the wonderful people I encountered while seeking advice from my fellow writers on Twitter on how to better combat these distractions.

My online friends and fellow creatives mainly suggested what I had already done or was currently doing, namely drowning out the noise with my music via headphones. One of the people I met as a result of the whole ordeal is Lisette Brodey, a fellow author and an all-around great woman who would later set up an interview with her lead character, Molly Hacker.

My advice to you is that no matter how distracting your environment is or may seem, you ultimately have the power to determine how you react to it and how it shapes you as a person. Rather than remaining angry or upset, convert that negative energy into something useful and channel it into your craft. It takes practice, and it won’t always be easy, but you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll fuel your determination as you retake the helm of your inner-focus.

Have you experienced similar issues that have threatened to hinder your creative process? If so, what were they and what did you do to resolve it?

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Book Review: Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! by Lisette Brodey

Reporter Molly Hacker prefers to write obituaries rather than report on the overwhelming minutiae of high society weddings. It’s only a temporary project she takes on in conjunction with her usual reporting assignments, but it facilitates the beginning of relationships that could have a permanent effect on her love life and future. Could it finally mean wedding bells? Will she have to set aside her “pickiness” in order to take the trip down the aisle? Does one have to sacrifice their standards at the very altar at which they’re married?

Beneath the refreshing humor and amusing situations that take place in this romantic comedy is a story of the human heart, the connection it desires, and the fear of taking that first step to achieve it, a fear of possibly having to resort to self-sacrifice in the process. This is perhaps most brilliantly illustrated during a poignant discussion between Molly and her good friend Randy toward the beginning of the novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between the colorful characters as well as the ease in which the author injected wit and humor into the story. The plot twists were quite clever and I enjoyed the creative way the novel’s conclusion was handled. The main characters are smart, sassy and endearingly human with all the quirks and flaws that come with being human. Molly winds up in scenarios that had me thinking, Well, this could get messy, and in some instances my premonition was proven correct in both humorous and humiliating ways for the protagonist.

Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! is an intriguing read that comes at a time when marriage, for some people, is more of a finish line in a race to boast about their status rather than a sacred ceremony to declare one’s loyalty to the person they truly love. Lisette Brodey has done a remarkable job at executing an intricate plot while folding in the complex elements that often accompanies matters of the human heart and the pursuit of a compatible mate. For some, it is an endeavor that means having to explore different kinds of relationships to discover with whom they truly envision themselves for the long haul.

Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! is available in print and ebook editions at the following online retailers:


Barnes & Noble

For eight months, Lisette blogged as the main character at www.mollyhacker.com  (Check out her cool interviews of fascinating authors, artists and other special guests.)

Be sure to learn more about Lisette Brodey and her other titles on her website http://lisettebrodey.com/

You can also follow Lisette on Twitter and Facebook.


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Reflection and Metamorphosis


As demonstrated in nature, sometimes isolation is a necessary part of the developmental process. There’s nothing wrong when a person chooses to occasionally go into seclusion (unless they’re doing so for criminal reasons). The danger, however comes when the place one retreats to serves more as a coffin than a chrysalis. My online activity has grown increasingly sporadic in recent months as my the wings of my creativity undergo metamorphosis. Yet, I feel it’s important to give my online friends, followers and readers an update as to what I’ve been up to.

Lately I’ve experienced things that, for a while, made me feel as though my world had been thrown off its axis. The exact details are too painful and personal to present to such a public arena, but I can say that it was enough to reevaluate many aspects of my life—past and present—as I contemplate my plans for the future. After the clouds of confusion cleared, I was left with a better sense of how I should proceed going forward. Though life-changing as those events were, they have led me to appreciate all that is right in my life and all that is beautiful in the world (which still spins resiliently), despite the attempts by some to disrupt the aforementioned in some way or another.

Furthermore, recent national and world events have prompted me to dig deep and examine the effectiveness of what I’ve been doing up until this point as well as contemplate what I hope to accomplish in the future and how I hope to affect the world around me. I’d like that affect, no matter how great or small, to be positive and powerful enough to inspire others to recognize and perpetuate the goodness life still has to offer. This led me to consider my humble oeuvre to date and whether or not my method adequately conveys my desired message. Admittedly, my work features darkness and psychological horror despite the fact each piece is generally born from a desire to uplift and motivate the discouraged. I’ve found that the most effective way to accomplish this is to include familiar themes pertinent in the real world in order to make my stories more tangible to the reader. The downside, however, is the danger of getting lost in reality and losing one’s way to the realm of their imagination. This is what has happened to me. My creative purpose remains as vivid as ever, but the path to reach it has been obscured by reality, itself.

Through it all, I’ve been jotting down exciting ideas in addition to working on projects that will undoubtedly demand much time and research in order to execute properly. I’m still working on dozens of short stories as well as a few novels and on top of all that, I still have to revamp two of my websites and I’m getting the itch to work on some new sketches. The creativity and desire is still there, I’m just a little apprehensive as to how I’ll ensure that the final products will adequately reflect my intent.

I have also grown to understand that while some real-life mysteries are alluring, too much introversion can make a person appear, as one acquaintance put it, intimidating. The same could possibly be said of my chronically introverted demeanor. Therefore, I’ll do my best to share a little more of myself in the future while loosening my grip on perfectionism. I know it won’t be easy to break habits that have taken root over the course of many years, but I know it’s at least worth trying. In the meantime, I’ll continue to gain insight and inspiration from life and attempt to convert it into something magical.

I’ll close by expressing how much I deeply value each and every one of my online friends, followers and readers who remain patient and supportive regardless of how frequently I’m able to blog or connect through social media. You reinforce my desire to persevere through any challenge that comes my way and to produce the very best content my mind can conceive. Thank you!


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