I’ve Built…

It has always been important to me to be transparent about my shortcomings and the strengths. I don’t try to pretty anything up. Too often, people pretend their lives are so perfect online, with perfectly posed, edited photos, but you never see the truth of what goes on behind closed doors because all they care about is the imagery. That’s not what attracts me to people or to their work. Honesty and humor attract me. Real humor; the kind that isn’t forced, that isn’t passive aggressive, the kind that is wholly natural. It takes a lot to make me laugh. In the past week or so, I’ve maybe laughed four times. Each time, my cats came to see what was going on. “Is she having a stroke? Should we get help?”, they probably wondered. Of late, laughter hasn’t exactly flowed.

As an extremely private person, I still know that being forthcoming about my suffering (From A to Z) has helped others get help, come out of their shells, talk, trust again… I know this because they have e-mailed, messaged, and shared these facts with me, even if it took them a few years to say anything. I didn’t know my voice would help people, but it has and it will continue to do so, because I know the power of using your voice for change.

Wishing you all a safe, warm, stress-free weekend.

P.S. I will be listing charities ASAP who are helping out with the crisis in Texas. Every penny helps. It took our government way too long to respond to the need for help, and our own people were forced to endure this without an immediate helping hand. It’s disgusting beyond words. It’s Puerto Rico and Hurricane Katrina all over again, and it is NOT acceptable.

I know people who are 6-7 days without power and who have no clean water. Power is being restored slowly, and many are afraid of what will happen when they return to their homes. Will the pipes have burst (A much more common occurrence in colder climates.)? Will they be able to return home safely? They have no idea what they’re walking into. They are NOT prepared for the kind of weather they got. Never again should states be lacking a strong electrical grid, not have adequate salt, sand, and plows for snow removal, etc. This is not being discussed enough! I’ll do my part and hopefully there can be some unity in this country to help where needed.

If You Feel Overwhelmed…

“If you feel overwhelmed just try to relax and look for one positive thought. Every good thing begins with one positive thought. You don’t need to change everything in your life instantly. All you need is one positive thought. You can hold on to that thought, and it will remind you that there is hope. One simple, positive thought is enough to make it all worth it. All your troubles, struggles, pains, and suffering is worth one good thing. Those good things come to us just when we need them the most; like an angel throwing us a life-preserver before we go under the waters of despair. One positive thought can save your life or the life of another. One positive thought is the miracle for which you have been waiting. One positive thought will shift the entire world under your feet. One positive thought is something you can accomplish. One positive thought is the victory you need today!”

Bryant McGill

Chained

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Part of falling apart means picking up the pieces, even if “the pieces” are, in essence, yourself. It’s not an easy step. In fact, it is being made far worse for me by external forces; all fighting to control me because something is lacking in their lives.

When you are forced to rebuild your life, it simply doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. Unless you happen to hit Powerball or the Mega Millions, it is a lengthy process. Nothing is immediate, because nothing is handed to you.

You do not intend to diminish in capacity health-wise, but even the healthiest person needs time to fall apart and put themselves back together. You don’t intend for things to wait, and wait, and wait some more, but quite frankly; you’re fucking SICK and you know your limitations. Unless people are willing to be physical participants, they can talk ’til the cows come home, it doesn’t help matters.

No matter how many times I ask for help, compassion, or simply to be treated like a human-being, I am met with questions and excuses. The underlying questions are often unspoken, but I can hear projected thoughts. It’s a rare gift, so don’t direct a thought at me unless you want it heard and/or dissected.

Over the past few months the projected questions have been, “Is she really as sick as she says she is?”, which questions my character and is NOT okay. I’ve never made up an illness in my life. As a child, right into my teens, my mother would take me to the doctor immediately, no matter what. If ever I thought I was trying to get a day off from school, as children often do, I’d always end up in the doctor’s office. Every single time, something was legitimately wrong. Not once did the doctor say “Oh, she’s fine. Maybe she just didn’t want to go to school today.” Nope. It was always “It’s a good thing you brought her in, she has a double ear infection and what looks like strep throat.” or “She’s running a high fever and has bronchitis.” There were other things that were far worse. My body would clearly speak up to be by saying “Today is not your day.” and when you’re young, all you can really say is “I don’t feel good.”, and explain what is physically hurting. As an adult, you can explain things much more clearly, providing someone is listening and gives a damn. I woke up one morning on day two of a killer migraine and wrote “This is not how I typically feel during a migraine. I do not feel like myself. This has never happened before.” I keep notes for each migraine in the migraine app I use, which helps me track my headaches and pain better. I keep notes in my food journal, because it helps me process information about my overall health, and whether something affected me on a dietary level or not.

Another recent projection: “She looks fine, so she must be.” Do I REALLY?

“She did A, B, and C today, why can’t she also do D?” Because there is a grand conspiracy, that’s why. <rolls eyes> It’s important for me to know my limitations on any given day. If I can lift 100 pounds one day and cannot get out of bed for a week, then that is the price I have to pay for lifting 100 pounds. It’s not selective, and no one has the right to judge it.

There are so many things projected at me, but it’s far worse when said behind my back. If you cannot say something to my face, you’re a fucking coward. I don’t care who you think you are, that’s the truth. Two, be careful what you say to my face. I may not respond, but I am cataloging every.fucking.thing until D-Day. You are dealing with a time bomb, and you don’t want to be around when I finally lose my temper. I do a LOT to keep it in check. I try very hard to filter my brain-to-mouth ratio, so as not to offend people who don’t know me very well, but I’ve been biting my tongue for far too long. Someone is going to get hurt when I finally stop biting my tongue and cease holding back, and it’s not going to be me. I often say the pen is mightier than the sword, but my words are my sword and shield. What other people can do with nonsense to dredge up drama, I will do with truth. People tend not to like that, but I prefer to be myself. If you’re looking to commit suicide via words, then step into my office. I’m happy to use everything in my arsenal.

I have learned not to lower myself to the level of others to give in to their desire to be hateful and/or cruel. Once I’ve seen your true face, that’s about as real as it gets. You’ll never be able to hide behind anything ever again, because I’ve seen you. I know what you are. I may keep it to myself, but I usually have a legitimate reason for it.

When you behave a certain way, this is what comes to my mind: “Quod me alit, me extinguit” which means “What feeds me extinguishes me.” Another one that comes to mind is “Quod me nutrit me destruit” which generally gets interpreted as “What motivates can also consume from within.“, though it means “What nourishes me destroys me.

I used to talk quite openly about being fueled by hatred. It helped me see clearly, helped me be a better person, because I saw how hateful others were and didn’t want to be like them. I saw such ugly behavior all around me, and I refused to become that kind of person. I choose not to be selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed, or a bad person. I’m not perfect and I’ll never win an award for being angelic or congenial, but I know who I am. I’m not going to kiss anyone’s ass, but I’m also not going to attack someone without just cause either.

Being underestimated, especially a woman, is commonplace. I find it downright hilarious when other women underestimate me. Appearances can be deceiving. The woman who looks like the “girl next door” could very well be a serial killer; one never knows. Judge me if you want to be judged in turn, though quite frankly, I can barely be bothered. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

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I spend my days battling an invisible illness that progressively gets worse, and I am judged harshly for it. No more. I see everyone precisely as they are now, and my shields aren’t coming down for anyone ever again.

There are hundreds of symptoms to Fibromyalgia, depending on how long you’ve had it and how it has progressed for you. I know people who have mild versions of it, and are able to live full lives, despite needing a little more self-care than usual. I wish it were that simple for me, but it’s not. For me, it started with chronic migraines. A year later I was going to doctor after doctor demanding that they find out what was wrong with my neck and shoulder. It was blown off for nearly two years as muscle injuries, until an MRI showed otherwise. I have inoperable damage to my cervical spine. There are only seven vertebrae that make up the cervical spine, and four of mine are damaged. There is damage to my lower lumbar spine as well, a section made up of five vertebrae, and 2-3 of mine show damage. My doctor is unsure how I got that, saying that most people probably have it (lower lumbar injuries) without realizing it because we throw our bodies around on our beds, etc., lift things that are too heavy, shovel snow, etc. I’ve never been that fragile physically, I was an athlete growing up, so maybe he’s right, maybe he’s not, but I will never know what caused that additional damage. I am almost certain I know what caused the cervical damage. I am due for a new set of MRI’s next year. I am not looking forward to any new information on it, especially knowing that there is damage to my tailbone that hasn’t healed properly, but a new brain MRI and spinal MRI are standard procedure for me. I have no choice and in truth, it is better to know now, that way I might finally receive proper treatment.

While chronic migraines may indeed be a side effect of Fibromyalgia, I also know many people who do not suffer from them, and have Fibromyalgia. It was the first symptom for me, but it’s not the same for every sufferer. I have, in two months, gone through nearly three bottles of OTC pain reliever for almost daily migraine pain. Here’s hoping new doctors have new answers.

Physically, I fight a battle each day just to get out of bed and be able to move around. Some days, I lose, but it’s not a failing on my part, it’s me having to come to terms with my body. I already have a booking for the beginning of September, which is great news (The pay, on the other hand, is less than half of my normal hourly rate, which offends me, but hey, I’ve got to be able to eat and pay bills. Even if it’s one dollar at a time. 😦 ), and I am hoping more jobs will come in soon, especially since reading, proofing, and editing are about all I can tolerate at the moment. The person who wanted me to edit 100,000 words in 24 hours, with notes, was delusional beyond words. If they had offered me the correct rate, I might have negotiated it into two or three days, but when the pay is shit, you’ve got to know your physical, mental, and tolerance limitations and say no to things (and people) that will not better you. If it won’t pay a bill or help you do the things you need to do, then it’s not worth it.

I do feel broken at the moment physically and emotionally. I am trying to put myself back together and get shit done. My mother used to say “All you can do is your absolute best, and if that isn’t good enough for anyone, fuck them,” She rarely swore, but she’s right. I am doing my BEST. If it isn’t good enough, tough shit. You can judge me when you’re 100% perfect, and not fighting your body each day. If I were completely healthy, no pain, etc., I wouldn’t be having this conversation, but I am. When people try to pressure you, you have to look closely at their motivation. If it is not a gentle nudge with a genuine, loving, caring heart; walk away. Anyone who wishes you harm or detests you, but refuses to communicate it to your face, shouldn’t be allowed to breathe the same air that you do. Quite frankly, quality oxygen for the viciously rude should never be allowed.

It is bad enough being chained to a body FULL of unrelenting pain. I refuse to be chained to other people’s demands or bullshit.

I am in charge of my life. Don’t pretend to care if you don’t, and don’t say you love me if it’s not the absolute truth. I smell liars all around me. There’s nothing like the smell of reptiles to ruin your day/week/month/year.

Here’s hoping no one has to experience what I have because no one deserve it.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Those Who Overcome Great Challenges

“Those who overcome great challenges will be changed, and often in unexpected ways. For our struggles enter our lives as unwelcome guests, but they bring valuable gifts. And once the pain subsides, the gifts remain. These gifts are life’s true treasures, bought at great price, but cannot be acquired in any other way.” ―Steve Goodier

Out Of Suffering We Emerge

“Pain is like a healing emotional fever. Allow your pain to cleanse you and burn away what needs to die. A new and better you will grow from the ashes. The most important parts of your life will be marked by pain. Some of the most amazing people in the world were not perfect; they were scarred by suffering, hardships, losses, and imperfections. But, when they recovered, they were stronger, wiser, and more loving and compassionate. Your life is going to get better in the proper time, and you will be stronger and more at peace than ever before. Out of our suffering we emerge. Our struggles are really our only hope. Stay strong.” -Bryant McGill

As Real As It Gets

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WARNING: Potential Triggers

I’m a ridiculously intuitive person, which has the tendency of scaring people if they aren’t used to it. I live my life paying attention to the same things most people ignore. However, it is virtually impossible to ignore your body and mind when they’re screaming at you. No matter what bad thing it is that you may be going through, it is sometimes important to take a step back, allow yourself to feel what you feel, without apologies, and regroup tomorrow.

For the majority of my life, my purpose wasn’t clear. I don’t know if I ever considered the purpose for my existence. I had so many responsibilities, and I openly admit that I took them on myself. When most people would have been taking care of themselves for their “most selfish years”, I was taking care of two sick parents. I was dealing with burying friends and loved ones, and so it took until maybe this last year for me to say “Enough!” and begin focusing on myself. I now know that it’s not selfish to be focusing on myself at this point in my life, it’s survival.

I’ve been through some awful things, a lot of which I try not to focus on. There’s a saying about not looking back or you’ll only manage to hurt your neck. In many respects, that is true. I gain nothing from reflecting on pain, but I do gain something for having survived all of it. I know that I can get through the horrible, never-ending cycle of suffering, I know I can come out the other end a far better person than I was today, but it’s not a choice one ever wants to make. It’s “kill or be killed”, so you have to regroup and “kill”, even if only metaphorically.

In times like this, a lot of people turn to religion. I am not hardcore religious, but I am spiritual. I pray several times a day for the peace and the concept that someone Higher is listening to me. That someone Higher cares. Through trial and error, I have found that most people care about themselves, and they have no room in their mind or heart for anything or anyone else. I’ll never understand it. The average person cares about five people, or less. Are we such a selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered society that we take no time at all to care about the person next to us? I often hear myself say that if a situation does not directly affect me and/or those I love/care about, then I cannot put forth the emotion to worry about it. The point though is that I actually love and care about other people. I’ve spent a long time placing others before me, and I still do it at times, but ultimately I don’t have my head up my ass. I find it easy to be emotionally present for others, and a lot less easy to be emotionally present for myself.

I’m sick of my internal dialogue because it’s so abusive. It’s something I call “self-abuse”. You’re cutting yourself apart as if you were actually cutting, but there’s no blood, the wound is entirely internal and it grows daily. You wouldn’t even feel it if someone dipped you into the Dead Sea, because you’re already a walking wound of agony.

I can point out positive things in other people, but when it comes to doing the same for myself I usually say “I’m loyal.” and when asked how I’m feeling I often say “I exist.” I will never lie and say “I’m fine.”, because then I’d be lying to myself. I’m not fine. I’ve never been less “fine”, but because I’ve been through so many “not fine”, “not okay” times, I would rather not pick at the scabs, so to speak. How much negativity does one need to focus on before they become batshit crazy and hurt someone, or themselves?

I will never lie about often feeling suicidal. Never. I will never pretend that darkness doesn’t coat aspects of my life so thickly that it’s hard to see the light. I will never say it is a topic that is “off-limits” or “taboo” because the fact of the matter is, not everyone acts on their thoughts, but those that do aren’t weak. It takes an immense amount of strength to say “I’ve had enough pain.”

Many people advocate for “assisted suicide” for terminally ill patients, but what do we advocate for when a person cannot be healed in any way, shape, or form, through no fault of their own? Do we pretend the issue doesn’t exist and go off into our own selfish bubble? Do we say “That’s not my problem?” Do we walk away? Do we ignore it?

So many people have been unable to see the signs in a loved one and have later been devastated that they chose to end their own life. Instead of thinking about how much pain THEY had to be in to go there, to reach that point, all I ever hear is “How could s/he do this to me?”, “How could they leave me behind?”, “Why didn’t s/he tell me?” Bringer of honesty: It’s NOT about you. 

It amazes me how people don’t look closely at situations or loved ones. It blows my mind how people choose to see the surface, and nothing more. It behooves me how few people ever say “I’m here for you, no matter what. And I will NOT judge.” Once a person commits suicide, people can lie ’til the cows come home, but they are absolutely judging. If you’re unaffected by the deeply personal pain of others, you aren’t human.

It is important to check in with those we love. It is important, and crucial, to look deeper. There will still be times when you will not see what a person chooses not to show, but there will also be times when a hug, a hand to hold, a kind word, a moment of inspiration, a thoughtful phone call, or card will pull a person back and show them that they mean something, that their life has value and purpose.

This will be painful for some people to read because they choose to avoid brutal truth. This may be painful for suicide survivors who are still left asking themselves “Why?” As a person who thinks about it deeply, I have very few reasons for not acting on my feelings. Those reasons become less important each day.

I am touched by the people who genuinely reach out to me in love or friendship. I am touched by the people whose actions say “I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.” But those moments, and people, are few and far between.

One day I may not be able to rely solely on my self-talk to pull me back. And the excuses you might very well hear in the wake of that will be: “I work 60+ hours a week, I have no time to talk.”, “I never returned her phone call. I feel TERRIBLE.”, “I didn’t answer her text message.”, “I stopped speaking to her because she was too honest.”, “She was so young, smart, creative, and beautiful…I don’t understand. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

No one will say “She was in so much pain, she couldn’t take it anymore and I understand.” No one. And that is truly fucking sad.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Fact That…

“The fact that you’re struggling doesn’t make you a burden. It doesn’t make you unloveable or undesirable or undeserving of care. It doesn’t make you too much or too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone struggles. Everyone has a difficult time coping, and at times, we all fall apart. During these times, we aren’t always easy to be around — and that’s okay. No one is easy to be around one hundred percent of the time.” —Daniell Koepke

My Writing Roots

My Writing Roots

We all start somewhere, especially in terms of writing. My roots are steeped in tradition in the sense that I come from a family well versed with the written and spoken word. I, myself, have a way with words. There’s not a lot I won’t say. I’m direct, I have no time for bullshit, I speak the exact same way that I write, but I wasn’t always like that.

At an extremely young age, I was painfully shy and introverted. My extroverted self only “came out to play” when she was completely comfortable with those around her. There had to be a measure of trust, and even still, I held back a lot. Today, I am an introverted extrovert, but I’m also an extremely dominant personality. I can’t even begin to count the times the word “intimidating” has been used to describe me. The people that know me best know that I’m actually not like that, but it’s something I can turn on in an instant. We all have built-in mechanisms we use when dealing with others. If I have to amp up my intimidation factor, I go with it. Dumbing myself down and playing the pathetic card aren’t things I do very well. What can I say? I didn’t major in drama, and I’m not an actress. To quote another Scorpio woman, “I’ve never faked it for a man, and I’m not going to fake it for anyone else.” Exactly.

I started writing as an alternative form of communication. I’d been given a school assignment at the time and I put it off for as long as humanly possible, until my mother was finally clued in that this assignment was way past due, and my Mom, God Rest & Bless Her Soul, was not the type to let her kids fail. She also never sugar-coated anything. If I had no talent in any area, she’d tell me not to quit my day job. If I had talent in an area, she was the first person to tell me to run with it. More parents should be that way.

I was convinced I did not have the ability to do said assignment, but my mother said “Honey, you’re over-thinking this. Just write what you think and write what you feel. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s their problem. You’ve still done the assignment and given it your best.” It was a very simple, honest statement, but it was as if she’d opened some kind of gateway for me, and in many respects, I know that she did. How many parents ever tell their children to say what they think and feel?! None that I know, but she opened a door that day, a door that has always remained wide open for me. I’ve been writing ever since.

I might have been kind of raw initially, but that grew into talent and ability very quickly. People commented on it, people took notice, and I started winning small awards. I was known for the fact that I was a writer, and I was also known for the fact that keeping my mouth shut when a voice needed to be heard wasn’t high on my list of priorities.

As I previously said, I was quiet, shy, and observant. Most writers are great observers of others, as well as observers of behavior and body language. I immediately realized that people responded to my opinionated take on all things, and I went with it. That eventually led to me operating my own “by-subscription-only” publication. It was not a magazine, but it wasn’t a flimsy joke either. A year into that project I was faced with a decision, realizing I could not run two publications simultaneously, and soon found myself the founder & President of a non-profit fan organization specializing in an individual’s athletic career (and at this point, I say “athlete” with a very thinly veiled cough. I’m not naming names. If I did, you’d throw rotting fruit at his house. I’m actually all for that, really. I’d be happy to give you his name and address. Okay, so I’m actually too classy to do that, but I’d still love to see someone hit him with an over-ripe tomato, or 400.).

I did everything from dealing with fans one-on-one, to handling personal appearances. Public & Fan Relations is no joke. I was also responsible for a fan based publication, which went out to roughly three thousand people all over the world at a time at its height (yeah, the post office loved me!). Sounds like no big deal, but it is, especially when you have to write more than half of it, do the layout and design, approve everything for print, and take it all by hand to the copier yourself. I had gotten to the point where I was turning people down because membership was out of control. If someone hadn’t said to me one day “You’re far too talented to be working for the likes of this asshole. You need to be doing your own thing, promoting yourself and your own work.”, I might still be in that job, which is still one of the most under-appreciated, but mind-blowingly amazing things I have ever created and done.

I did not have staff assisting me with any of that work. Not unless you count the fact that a handful of people submitted work, photos, and art for the publication, most of which had to be re-written, revamped, heavily edited, etc. And don’t get me started on all of the fan mail, because I answered all of it, every single bit of correspondence, myself. Not in a “form letter” kind of way, but in the most personal, professional way I knew how. I would never have been able to grow if it had not been for the fans, for word of mouth, for people being hooked on the work I produced. The work was mine. Every single second of hard work was mine, and mine alone, and in turn, people tried copying it. Many took my hard work and did exactly that without offering me so much as a “Would this be ok?”, and they quickly found out that the word “copyright” isn’t a lame or tame expression, it means “I own this, don’t fuck with it.” True writers and artists do not appreciate or respect theft of their work. Plagiarizing someone else’s hard work because you, yourself possess not an ounce of talent is cowardly, pathetic, and a host of other things I am lady enough not to say.

After many, many years of this work, which resulted in carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, and ulcers, I then went through a series of personal & professional loss, and I had to take a step back. That step turned out to be a huge step away, a step I needed. It was a huge turning point.

Time doesn’t heal everything, but it can certainly help you see clearer than you’ve ever seen, to the point where you say “I’m done.” The only difference is, I meant it. I was done being unappreciated, I was done with the severe lack of respect, I was done catering to people who only wanted to get closer to what I had earned. It’s an extremely unattractive thing, riding someone else’s coat-tails. I went from being a sought after friend & adviser to having just a handful of people left in the world that I valued. More would continue to slip away, but after a while, you no longer think about it any more. It’s done, it’s the past, and I don’t spend a lot of time looking back.

At that particular point in time I chose a different career path and even started writing a book about my experiences in the new career. I had a lot of things I wanted to accomplish there, and only in the last year did I discover that someone else came up with a similar idea and is now turning a profit on it, which just goes to show you that there’s some truth to the saying “Everything under the sun has already been thought of.”, and yet, I am still fiercely protective of my work and ideas. I’m a writer, I have to be.

I shelved the book after getting my degree, not because I couldn’t finish it, but because my father was losing what would be a 15 year battle with cancer. I couldn’t write, constantly be at the hospital, constantly care for my mother, and maintain a decent level of sanity. The day I got a phone call from an Emergency Room physician telling me to get to the hospital immediately, I was prepared for the worst.

I stood there with my family, my father out like a light in cardiac care recovery, as a doctor quietly told me that the cancer they THOUGHT they had gotten through multiple operations, through several rounds of radiation, and the experimental treatment that landed him in the hospital for over a month that didn’t rid him of cancer, but brought all of his heart problems to light, had spread throughout his body. She was a fine physician, truly, but the next year and a half was hell on my father & my family. In the middle of all this, my Mom became sicker than she had originally been, so it was a constant back & forth. I was pretty sure I’d never write again, and at that point, I didn’t care.

I knew for quite some time that I was going to lose my father young. I always knew he would never see me get my degree (I graduated between semesters so that I could be close at hand, just in case.), that he’d never walk me down the aisle, that he’d never get to see his Grandchildren. I’d known this to the depth of my soul for a very long time, and yet the morning the phone call came, I was prepared and unprepared, all in the same breath. When I had gotten the final notice that it was time to move him to hospice, I fought like a vicious animal over it, I refused to do it, until he finally agreed that it was time, he’d had enough. By then he could no longer speak, the only person who understood him was me, and it was an extremely upsetting time for all of us.

Right about that time I picked up a newly released CD at my local Target and these incredible lyrics popped right out at me from the CD jacket. I read them to my Mom and said “Do you think I could write the eulogy? Would that be ok?” Traditionally at Jewish funerals, even the most relaxed, laid back ones, the only person who speaks is the Rabbi. I’ve always found it cold, a bit phony, especially if the Rabbi doesn’t truly know the deceased, and I wanted to do something that I knew would honor my father when he eventually did pass away. It took me about two months to piece it together, and the night before the funeral I was up until way past my bedtime putting the finishing touches on it. It’s truly one of the finest things I have ever written, and I know I not only made my father proud that day, but I pretty much brought the house down. People who have known me my entire life came up to me afterwards and said “I had no idea you could write like that!”

I remember e-mailing my best friend a copy and she was so floored by what I’d written. Unable to be present herself for the funeral, we immediately made plans for her to be present for the unveiling the following year, not knowing that my mother would pass away five months later, making her even more intent on being present, because she knew & loved my mother.

I gave the eulogy at my mother’s funeral as well. A cousin I don’t really speak to came up to me afterwards and said “You have a real gift, you should do something with it.” Yeah, because my incredibly expensive degree is just plain useless!! Backwards comments are so insulting.  For my parents’ unveiling, I gave an 11 page speech to my best friends (my brother’s & my own) and the few family members that deigned to show up who I share blood with, and not much else. My Aunt being the exception in the family, we’re very close and I love & respect her. I absolutely adore my Rabbi as well, and he has been an immense support from day one. He too encourages my progress as a writer.

It was right around that time that I started praying more than usual. I would often say “Mom, send me an idea I can work with. Send me something we’d both love to read.” My Mom was the person I shared books, music, movies, and TV with. We’d fight over books, we loved so many of the same things, and sometimes she’d read something and say “You could do this. You’ve got what it takes. Don’t box yourself in to a genre, you’re better than a lot of what’s out there.” Sometimes I wrote that off as my Mom being my Mom, and simply being proud of her daughter and believing in me, but eventually I did start believing that she was right. Most of the time, she was, so why couldn’t she be right about this as well?

One day, a tiny idea blossomed inside my head. I shook it off, but it became persistent and it was my mother’s voice basically saying “I like this. You can write it. Start typing, here’s an idea, see what you can do with it.”

I spent a lot of time after that writing, researching, and four months in I presented the first few chapters to my Aunt for her opinion, and because I desperately needed feedback I could trust, feedback not my own. She liked 90% of it and recommended some minor changes. A few months later I was back with the changes she had recommended and the additional chapters I’d been working on. She loved it, every bit of it, and said “You need to finish this. If I was flipping through this book in Barnes & Noble, I would buy it, and so would a lot of other people.”

Like my mother, my Aunt isn’t into the sugar-coating. If I lack the talent, I’m told I lack the talent, whereas when I’ve got it, I am encouraged to keep on pursuing it. She’s been that way with me my entire life, she’s never played games with my emotions or bullshitted me, so I respect her advice and value her opinion.

Book 1 has since received an official title, and despite being in re-writes, it will eventually be ready to be shopped around. When you begin a book and it’s not a stand-alone novel, it’s important to do the groundwork for future novels, and to think about the back story to your characters. I’ve got most of the series story-boarded out and I continue to write and do research on where the story will take you, what you will learn about each character, all while taking you on a believable adventure that you can get lost in. I, personally, prefer stories that, while fiction, are still pretty honest in the telling. There is a LOT of truth in the first book and in each of the books I have started writing chapters for. In many respects, these books are therapeutic in how they have helped me write out my anger and hostility about certain things, but also tell a story I believe in.

Writing hasn’t just given me my voice and a great deal of strength & confidence, but it’s also how I met my best friend, and many other friends that I am close to and would do anything for.

Marion found me through a mutual acquaintance when I was doing Public & Fan Relations. Four years into our friendship (this was before e-mail became so huge, believe it or not we actually wrote *gasp* letters to one another. And by “letter” I mean 6-20 page letters on a weekly basis. Marion blames me for the length, apparently I’ve got a lot to say. LOL.), she & her sister flew here, though I was living in another state at the time, and spent a week visiting. We did everything from shop, goof off, laugh, enjoy great food, and I took them to the original Yankee Stadium where we took in their first official baseball game. It was a great week, despite the serious late July/early August heat/humidity, and we have been friends from day one. I have other friends that have also come in to my life through my writing and remained my friends through thick & thin, not caring what career change I may have made at any given time, but caring about who I am as a person, and knowing that at the end of the day, I say what I mean and I mean what I say, and that I am there for them no matter what, that my love and support will not waver. I can travel to a lot of places in this world and I have family in those countries, people who I’ve known for so long that they are closer to me than blood, and I think that’s a fabulous thing. Writing has gifted me with a lot, and I will always be grateful to my Mom for giving me the confidence to realize that this gift was in my arsenal.

So there you have it, my writing roots. Trust me when I say that as a writer, no matter what we may write about, we tell some of the best (true) stories.

Originally published in April of 2013.

copyright © 2013-2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED