Fearless Friday: Learned Empathy

This morning I did my best to avoid a particular cashier lane at the grocery store. My local grocery store proactively employs people with differing abilities, whether physical, learning, or social. There is a young woman who bags and likes to have loud, occasionally inappropriate conversations with anyone, anywhere. I am a jerk in the morning. I don’t want to talk to anyone, anywhere. I tried to pass by unseen, but the cashier called out to me. “I can help you here!” I smiled weakly and turned back into the lane. She… Read More

Acts of Reader Gratitude

Gratitude is one of those words that has become tainted and overused over the last few years. Gratitude journals ballooned into full-blown humble-bragging on social media, ad nauseum recitations of beautiful children or perfect autumn days or that special cup of coffee. I feel immense gratitude for the things and circumstances and people in my life, but also feel grateful that I can, for the most part, keep it to myself. The joy for me is not in the telling, rather in the being. But there is one form of gratitude that… Read More

The Weight and Gift of Want

Growing up poor has left me, even in confident adulthood, with echoes of envy. We’d all like to believe that whatever experiences shaped us as children, somehow evaporate in maturity. That might be the story of someone else, but I am reminded with infrequent pangs that I cannot intellectualize my way out of baser feelings. I can, however, work to lessen their power over me. Yesterday my husband baked an acorn squash. It reminded me of the days when, as a child, we lived wholly off squash and green beans and homemade… Read More

Imagine There’s No Politics

Of late, I’ve really loathed my writing on this blog. Despite this, I hit that Publish button each time, a twitchy trigger finger serving my need to be read and to be heard. This need has thrown me off, as has the public discourse. I’ve been less thoughtful and about as reflective as Narcissus. I’ve been lacking in scope and imagination. Currently, I’m reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen about a double agent following the fall of Saigon. The author describes the final, brutal scenes of people fleeing, trying to catch the… Read More

Asphodel Meadows: Where Empathy and Kindness Can Roam Free

The Green Study’s Positively Happy Nice Story Contest is a great way to win for your local American Red Cross and there’s a mug! I’m shifting the deadline to Monday,  October 3rd. See here for details. Invitations are flattering, especially if you’re sitting home in your yoga pants/pajamas wrenching words from your brain to make one of those quirky novel things and you haven’t been employed outside of your home for several years. Your college degree in Soviet and East European Studies became obsolete the year you graduated. You start telling Army… Read More

The Luxury and Cost of Empathy

I’ve written before about being a member of the “sandwich generation”, caring for a child and aging parent. It’s a flippant phrase thrown off to encompass and neatly categorize a myriad of emotions and actions. This week has rendered me battered and exhausted, sleepless and emotional. If there were any time for me to be anti-Zen, it’s now – as in, I’d rather not be in any more moments. I would like to daydream, write feckless fiction, doze off in a chair thinking of an island in Greece. My daughter experienced her… Read More

Feng Shui-ing Life: Making Room for Change

Last autumn, I had a clear vision of what my goals were, the path to get there and I was ready to leap. I was quitting my job, committing to writing, jumping into the unknown. Now, I must confess, it turned into more of a hop, maybe even just a slight skip. Cut to a year later, I’m still working part-time, have only dabbled in my first novel’s rewrites, and seem to still run myself ragged until my eyeballs are on fire and I’m living on ibuprofen. Before you whip out your… Read More

Empathy and the Dark Places

“I turned to the wilderness really, not to Mr. Kurtz, who, I was ready to admit, was as good as buried. And for a moment it seemed to me as if I also was buried in a vast grave full of unspeakable secrets. I felt an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, the darkness of an impenetrable night.”  Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness I’m getting to the heart of my novel now. Anguish is palpable. Bad things are happening. As I… Read More