Archive for the 'New Year' Category

The Month of Love

This month presents a few issues to contemplate on the subject of love – a perfect discussion to fill up the pages of your journal. I will share my entries with you here. It’s interesting to study the evolution of love and relationships. No matter where you live, whether in an urban, suburban or rural area, you can hardly get through February without being reminded of Valentine’s Day. This was a holiday we always celebrated when I was growing up because my father managed a general merchandise store (akin to Woolworth’s) and Valentine’s Day cards and gifts were already displayed the moment the Christmas aisle was cleared. So, my beloved father, was reminded every working day to bring home Valentine gifts for my mother and I. Each year he bought me one of those padded chocolate heart boxes filled with assorted chocolates and a card which read, ‘To My Daughter.’ Even though I knew lots of other daughters cross the country got the same, I appreciated his loving gesture and came to expect it.

Needless to say, I continued this ritual with my own kids, although my husband is not a great fan of this universal holiday when card and flower companies dictate that it’s time to celebrate our love. He believes the commercialization has gotten out of hand and on some level I agree with him. He will make his point by buying me flowers or a card either the day before or after February 14th, but not every year – and only when the whim strikes. That man has always kept me guessing!

This makes me wonder, also, about those who do not have romantic love in their lives. How do they cope with cupid following them around the stores for six weeks after the Christmas season ends?

Yesterday, the New York Times feature an article entitled, “Better Loving Through Chemistry,” which addresses the new way of finding love through internet dating services—which as many single people are well aware, has become an online task. (In fact I have two cousins who found the love of their life through such services.) The article discusses how a handful of dating Web sites are competing to impose some science or structure on the quest for love using various kinds of tests in the selection process. For example, created romantic chemistry via genetic testing. The site matches couples based on certain genetic markers for their immune system, believing that we are attracted to those with different immune systems. Wow. This is amazing. Companies like eHarmony suggest potential matches based on areas of compatibility, such as values, beliefs, important experiences, family background and personal values, which they believe are all predictors of successful relationships., on the other hand holds yet another view. As I think about those I know in successful relationships, I find this to be quite accurate. They say those with decisive, straight-talking temperaments, called ‘directors,’ tend to be attracted to empathetic, intuitive types, called ‘negotiators.’ Spontaneous types, called ‘explorers’ tend to be attracted to their own kind, and traditional pillars of society called ‘builders’ also tend to be attracted to their same kind. Think about this and let me know what you think. (I’m not telling you which category I fall into, but those who know me can probably guess!)

When you think that this is a $976 million annual industry, you realize that people do want love in their lives. So, this year, let’s take the time to bring love and caring into another person’s life, whether it is for a moment, a day or a lifetime.

Happy V-Day!

Happy New Year — resolutions, yes or no?

I made no resolutions for the New Year.  The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. — Anaïs Nin

It’s 2010 and this is the first year I toasted the New Year without any resolutions. What’s the point, we never keep them anyway! Instead of pronouncing my resolutions over a glass of champagne, I decided to write mine in my journal. First and foremost, I decided to slow down a bit this year, do more reading and less published writing. Four books in eighteen months has given me a little bit of heartburn and although I’m happy about my accomplishments, I’m somewhat tired of reviewing galleys.

During the holidays, I read two books—Mary Karr’s third memoir, Lit which was great, but just a continuation of the tragic drama in her life. It’s mind-boggling how one woman my own age could have already written three memoirs. I bow to her writing style and story. The second book I read is one which has to do with my written New Year’s Resolution and it’s called, Awakening The Buddhist Within by Lama Surya Das. The first chapter is called, ‘Contemplating Your Life,’ which for me will be the subject of 2010, the year my first child gets married. Das writes in a very compelling and easy-to-understand manner and much of what he says appears to be common sense, but it’s nice to see it on the page. He says that self-reflection helps us heal our lives and accept any problems we have and realize that something might need to be changed. He says that everything in our life depends on our relationship with the self, the world and the other. He says that when something is going on inside your head, chances are it will have something to do with at least one of these parameters.

On the path to happiness, he suggests sitting down and trying to change one of these relationships. He poses some interesting questions which can make great journaling prompts. Try these:

  • Where do you want to be in a month, a year, five years, ten years?
  • What or who might you be if you were given the choice or the chance?
  • If someone gave you a cosmic credit card what would you do with it?
  • What do you want to do with your creativity?
  • What would you do about your compassion for others? How would or could you help others?
  • Who am I and who can I be?

In summary, the tenets of Buddhism includes being mindful or pleased in the pleasures of the moment. Focus on the words, ‘just this here and now,’ while you inhale and exhale (important part) and simplify, simplify, simplify and remember what the Buddha said, “Wherever we go, wherever we remain, the results of our actions follow us.”


Journaling Reflections on Inauguration Day

On Tuesday afternoon, January 20, 2008 I walked out of a prestigious Beverly Hills department store and while waiting for my car to be pulled out of the valet, I stood next to a group of African American women. I smiled and asked if they’d watched the inauguration, “Honey, you bettcha,” one said. “Our country has been blessed,” I said. Another woman gently stepped forward and without hesitation we hugged one another. It was this openness, bliss and overwhelming sense of unity which reverberated across our country as a result of a shining star inhabiting the White House. I am humbled by the renewed sense of American pride across the generations, cultures and races and the huge spill of emotions across the country as Obama took his oath.

I was born in Brooklyn in the 1950s and my parents owned a general store on Broadway. Even though the racial divide was huge, I had many African American friends and dated a few. My favorite singers were Jimi Hendrix and Harry Belafonte and you can ask my mother how many times I read the book and watched the movie, To Sir With Love. . I also remember reading the greatly underrated (and under-read) The Man by Irving Wallace and loving the idea of having an African-American president.

For writers, I believe Obama brings inspiration and appreciation for the power of words. I have read his books and listened to him reading them on tape. Not only does he strongly believe in the power of words, but he is a master at putting them together, with great metaphor and elegance.

Michelle is also a special and accomplished woman. As a journaling advocate I was delighted to see that she gifted Laura Bush with a journal, with the first page dated today. This was such a gracious gesture.

There are not enough adjectives to describe how happy I feel. It is the perfect time to journal all these emotions.

Here are some ideas for you to consider in your own journal:

*  What would your deceased parent/grandparent say about this moment in history?

*  Did you ever think we’d have an African-American President?

*  What do you think the world thinks of America?

*  Do you think Obama will be given a larger grace period than his predecessors?

*  What kind of First Lady will Michelle be?

Happy New Year !

Just like we ended last year with writing exercises, I want to start the New Year with the same. Just hours ago my family and I just returned from two weeks in Africa and when I when I dig out my journal from my suitcase, I will tell you about this spectacular journey, but in the meantime, I thought I’d give you a few ideas to kick start today’s writing:

  • Write about a favorable moment or day during the holidays.
  • Write about what you like or dislike about the holidays.
  • Write about any New Year’s resolutions you may have.
  • Create a scene where something out of the ordinary happens.
  • Imagine the people who lived in your home before you. Create a dialogue of their discuss about moving.

Cheers and happy writing!


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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