A Pot of Flowers

There was a time when I lived a very unhappy life, that, for a number of reasons I knew I'd be stuck living for a while. I know this is true for many of us. We're stuck, not because we're afraid to make a change, but because there are factors that don't allow us to make a change right away. When I was in this situation, the easiest thing would have been to be miserable every day--marking off one unhappy day after another until I could, for lack of a better word, "escape." I refused to do that. I refused to let my unhappy situation drain every bit of joy from my existence. So, instead, I concentrated on short moments and small things, all scattered throughout my days that gave me tiny … [Read more...]

Why I’m Sad

Learning and passing on what I’ve learned to others has been one of my passions since I can remember.  I believe the more I know, the better my decisions will be, and as a result, the better my life will be. I have proof that this is so, because I started out in life with a tribe of people who lived in fear mostly because they were uniformed. Because they were uninformed, they relied on others to tell them what to think and do—a friend, a family member, a spouse, a doctor, a dentist, a politician, a priest, a radio show host, a newspaper—always knew more than they did. That was the tribe’s assumption. Whether the friend, family member or spouse knew any more about the subject at hand than … [Read more...]

I Kid You Not

You know how they always tell you, "if you don't like yourself, how can you expect others to like you?" Well, I've discovered that's only true in part. There's a flip side to it. When you don't like yourself, you are drawn to others who also don't like themselves. They feed off your low self-esteem as you use them to reinforce your negative idea of yourself. They treat you not necessarily as you want to be treated, but as you expect to be treated. And here's the tricky part: Should someone come along--someone with high self esteem, who sees the best in you, who has a higher opinion of you than you have of yourself, simply because that's their world view--it will scare the crap out of you. … [Read more...]

Good-bye, Mom

    Well, it was barely five p.m. when I poured this glass of wine, and it's a big glass, too. I'm going to finish it all up, and maybe have another. I've just come back from the airport to a spotlessly clean guest room. The guest bath has all my little tchotchkes back it--the basket of soaps, the trinkets I'd moved off the vanity to make room for my son's toiletries. We're way past the years of eye-rolls, of "I'll clean it when I get back, Mom." He left it spanking clean. It looks pretty, but I don't want it pretty--I want to see his razor, his toothbrush and toothpaste. I want to see the towels not hung in perfect, visitor-ready precision. I want to open the guest room door … [Read more...]

Some Secrets About Them

I need to tell you the "secret" of who the beautiful young woman in the photo above is to me, and why and how she came to be the star of the final book trailer in The Secret Spice Cafe trilogy. First of all, the book trailers. How lucky I am to know (very well, in fact) an indie film producer with an enormous amount of talent and creativity, as well as determination. He's taken the idea of a book trailer which, for those who don't know, is much like a movie trailer, and made them into two-minute major productions on their own. He's even written original music, ("The Queen Mary Suite") to score these trailers, and I'm so pleased with, proud of and thankful for them. Even with the number of … [Read more...]

A New Door

There's nothing more profound that I can say about the coming of a new year that RUMI does not say in this beautiful poem: This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and attend them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. Welcome difficulty. Learn … [Read more...]

Thank you

As the year draws to a close, and some celebrate Christmas, I think it's a perfect time to say thank you to you. It means a lot that my words resonate and that there are those who will take a portion of their hard-earned wages to purchase my books, or give me the even more precious commodity of their time reading my posts. I've met so many remarkable people, and learned so many things I otherwise wouldn't have, had I not dared to "venture out into the world" with my words and stories. It's gratifying that they've been well-received (for the most part) and I'm grateful that those who might disagree with my thoughts take the time to share their own beliefs with me. I've had several readers … [Read more...]

Holiday Misery

  When I was a child, I remember getting an odd feeling in my stomach every Christmas. I saw things around me--on the telly, on the car radio, in the shop windows--that all promised excitement and so much fun. I was waiting for Santa, and that was an exhilarating thought when one is young and believes. But at the same time, I had this knot of dread too, over what, I wasn't sure, but I realize now, it was the knowledge that something bad was going to happen at home. And it did, like clockwork, every year. Because my mother was stressed, like so many other adults at this time of year. Holiday stress comes from the idea of "should." What we think should be as opposed to what is, what … [Read more...]

A Storm of Words Can Bruise

  This is a true story. Back in the 1980s, when I was teaching at a private school in New York, a former pupil of mine, a young woman who had graduated the year before, came to see me in between classes while I was sitting alone at my classroom desk. It had only been a year since I’d seen her, but I knew, immediately, that much about her had changed in that year. She was more poised, more confident, and, though I can’t be sure of this, but I hope it’s true—she seemed happier. Here’s what she said to me: “Ms. V,” (I was Mrs. Volonakis then) “I’ve been thinking about this since I graduated. I owe you an apology for the way I behaved in your class. I was a brat and a baby, and you … [Read more...]

You’re Not Alone, Girl

  One in five grown women have a mother who actively dislikes them.  So for every 100 women you meet, 20 of them have had their hearts broken, not by a lover, but by their mother. Remember that percentage if this is what you're dealing with this holiday season. You're not alone in feeling unwanted by the one person who was/is supposed to love you unconditionally. Also, as an aside, mothers in general, even the kind ones, are twice as likely to be critical of their daughters as they are of their sons. So, though it stays with you forever to some extent, it truly helps to know that you're not defective or unlovable. Women who shouldn't become mothers do so anyway, for a myriad of … [Read more...]

A Matter of Taste

  A long time ago, I met a Greek priest. He was not the kind of priest we hear about too often in the news. He didn't condemn "sinners" only to go out and secretly sin himself. He welcomed everyone into his church. One day, I had the opportunity to speak with him alone, and here's what he told me about religious people versus good people: "A religious person will follow the letter of religious law, not the spirit. So, for example, if it's fasting time, the religious person will fast strictly no matter where he is. If he's welcomed into the home of someone not of the same religion or mindset, and is served a meal, he will pick through it, saying, 'I can't eat this,' I can't eat that.' … [Read more...]

How is a Terrorist Made?

How is a terrorist made? In other countries it's a combination of things: Abject poverty and the desperate sense that there's no way out of that poverty. [Note: Did you know that young people who blow themselves up are paid to do it, and the money goes to their very poor families? So in essence, they really are worth more dead than alive to those they love.] There's also a despot in charge of the country---either a fanatically religious one or a dictator. That despot was usually put in place due to powerful foreign interference. [Note: Most of the people coming in to the US as illegals now? Take a look at the history of their countries. If you follow the breadcrumbs, you'll discover that … [Read more...]

If You’re Under Age Forty

  A message today for anyone under age forty: People who have another ten to twenty years left on this planet, if they're lucky, are making decisions that will affect your life and the lives of your children long after they're dead and buried. Who are the people I mean? They're people who, after living in one town all their lives and knowing the same thirty people, people who are clones of themselves, are now in a senior citizen community in Florida with the same thirty people. Or, they're people who spend their days driving around in their golf carts, and their evenings drinking imported wine and single malt scotch at their club. They're people who won't admit that the only … [Read more...]