Archive for the '1960s' Category

Possibilities, Shamanic Healers and Reflections

Last Wednesday at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara, I attended a reading by a writing friend, Hope Edelman. We had first met at the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Program back in the 1990s—where I was the student and she the instructor. I vividly recall sitting on the bench by the river, chatting as she pushed her baby carriage back and forth, cajoling her crying daughter. As the author of Motherless Daughters , I remember observing that her maternal instinct was strong. Today, that baby is twelve years old and the subject of her latest book, The Possibility of Everything. There are only a handful of nonfiction writers who I truly admire and whose work resonates deep inside my psyche and Hope is one of those.

The subject of Hope’s new book will intrigue even those who do not have a spiritual streak. Hope describes the book’s impetus as the introduction of ‘Dodo,’ into her three-year old daughter Maya’s life. As we learned during her powerful reading, Dodo was Maya’s imaginary friend who insidiously infiltrated every aspect of this young family’s life. This imaginary friend would instruct Maya to take random and bizarre actions, such as walking into a room where her mother was, hitting her and then leaving.

To help fix the problem, most parents would decide on the traditional medical route and pull the child down a path of intense psychoanalysis and perhaps years of treatment with a long train of still-unanswered questions as to whether the child is schizophrenic. But not Hope and her husband Uzi. with the encouragement of their Nicaraguan nanny, the couple decided to pursue nontraditional modalities.They packed their bags and took their daughter to Belize hoping that the healers there would help Maya banish Dodo from her life. The book is about that journey which ultimately lead to Maya’s cure.

A link has been made between children who have imaginary friends and creativity. As a matter of fact, Hope admitted that she had imaginary friends as a little girl, but supposedly they did not adversely affect her childhood nor her childhood relationships. In other words, unlike her daughter Maya, she did not become obsessed by her imaginary friend. As an only child, I also had imaginary friends, who helped to fill the gap of having siblings as playmates. After hearing Hope’s story, I have grown even more curious about the connection between these friends and creativity. I wondered if any of my readers have any comments.

I have only begun The Possibility of Everything, but cannot put it down. In addition to wanting to hear Hope’s story and her family’s extremely unorthodox choice to journey in Belize and visit shamanic healers, I am also intrigued by the idea of shamanic healers, in general, and other complimentary modalities.  I would love to hear about your experiences in this area.

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Teenage Memories

This summer marked the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. It also marked the summer my sweet niece Laura turned sixteen. The summer I turned fifteen, my parents sent me to an International Teen Camp in Switzerland to learn French and it was one i will never forget.

This would be my first trip overseas without my parents. About one month before my departure date, I started taking the trip seriously and I began the arduous task of packing. I wondered how I’d fit my entire bedroom into one suitcase, or more realistically, how I’d go without all of my stuff for eight weeks. It’s not that I used everything everyday, but the security of all those things provided endless comfort and support in my early adolescent years.

From the attic I pulled down the largest suitcase I could find. Years later, my father reminded me that I had jammed everything into that suitcase, “except,” he added, “our kitchen sink!”

Like nearly every teen, music was an essential ingredient of my everyday happiness, but those were the days before iPods and CDs. To listen to music we had to use record players or use tape cassettes. I wouldn’t dream of venturing overseas for an entire summer without my record player. So a few days before leaving, I packed the rather large device in the middle of my suitcase, saddled between stacks of clothes. On the other side of the suitcase I tucked in my favorite forty-five records.

The Beatles song, Let it Be, had just been released and it was already my favorite. I stored that record separately in my backpack. Only four years before, the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. I vividly remember my parents and I watching the extravaganza of those four cool British guys chatting with the talk show host and providing a sampling of their mesmerizing music.

By the time my trip to Switzerland came along, I had already blasted the song over and over stereo in my bedroom, decorated with neon posters and accentuated by strobe light hanging from the ceiling. One day, my music was so loud that my parents decided to install a wall-to-wall brown cork bulletin board to insulate them from the vibrations. It also gave me a chance to hang some favorite memorabilia and posters, but I think what they were really trying to do was create a sound barrier between our rooms!

The wise lyrics and pleasant melody of the Beatles song had a very calming effect on me, particularly during my homesick moments in Switzerland. Before long, I learned that it was also a favorite song amongst teens from all around the world. The song became our common denominator, as we struggled to communicate. What amazed me was how perfectly the foreigners sang the song, even though they had no idea what the words meant! I am not so sure things have changed today as people around the world still sing Beatles’ tunes.

I’m amazed about the timelessness of that song and how it still brings tears to my eyes. I am also in awe about the power of music and how it often does this so easily and with so much magic.

Now, nearly forty years later, Let it Be still conjures up images of those wonderful camp days, and the dances with boys from countries around the world, such as, France, Kuwait, Italy and the United States. I wonder what song and memories my niece Laura will have of her sixteenth year. Will her memories be as vivid and fun as mine? I surely hope so.


Quote of the Week


"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me


I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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