woman strengthFor centuries, women in power have been dismissed as incapable of effectively ruling over a population, due to their 28th day each month influencing their rational thought process. This morning while watching the news coverage of Gaza, the Middle East and the commuter plane that was SHOT down, I am prepared to say aloud that the thought WOMEN are controlled by our uterus is a bunch of BS.

Several reports state less that 5% of government positions (worldwide) are occupied by women. From the highest level; Queen, President, Prime Minister on down the line to local government, women do not wield very much power or influence when in comes to governing the citizens of the world. And the 95% – MEN – who do hold office say we should breathe a sigh of relief that is the case. After all, every 28 days a woman becomes unbalanced, off kilter, angry, moody, cranky and prone to emotional outburst and violence. If this is TRUE, then why is 90% of all crimes committed by MEN and more than half of those acts directed at women? Now, I’m not all that gifted when it comes to math, but those numbers don’t seem to add up. If the myth held water, then men would live in a world similar to the film “The Purge” with axe wielding females swinging wildly each and every day.

As a woman, I will admit and or say, yes, every 28 days or so I do fight the desire to camp out in a dark room with chocolate, peanut butter and “Notting Hill”. During that time, I find it difficult not to break down and weep if a Hallmark commercial tweaks my heart strings, but aside from an occasional attempt to incinerate my husband with my (wishful thinking!) laser beam eyes after he incorrectly responds to the question, “Do I look bloated?” I have not EVER committed an act of violence during my menstrual cycle. Maybe because I felt bloated, fatigued..it seemed like a HUGE effort…ugh, I wanted a nap.

I have yet to meet a woman who tried to compensate for her small breasts (or stature) by purchasing a Corvette or Ferrari or packing a big gun (no pun intended…okay, it was!). During our teen years, a woman learns to disguise, emphasis or distract from various body parts. We push it up, bind it down or suck it in. Or save up and get it “fixed”. But it is truly a rare woman who will seek power, bully or harm another person driven solely based by her desire to prove her small breasts are more than adequate…

Are women influenced by our emotions and the need to nurture, comfort, educate, console, love, shelter, encourage, protect – YES! And this is a bad thing? Empathy = weakness? Women are more prone to hash it out, talk it through (exhaustively) and often times make the effort to try and see BOTH sides of a situation. While we may be unhappy with what we see, we will try to accept that our desired outcome may not be the best outcome for all concerned. Vanity will be set aside in order to reach a compromise.

Women are not perfect, nor is this Post meant to insinuate 100% of women fit this model. Women do kill. Women do manipulate. Women do cheat, lie, commit crimes and do horrific things. BUT, statistically, men do all of those things at a significantly higher rate.

Our world is dying. Our people are dying. Something needs to change FAST. Between human destructive behavior and Mother Nature’s obvious fury (fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, mud slides, drought, etc in SIZE and SCOPE never before seen or recorded) our current path is one leading us to self destruction.

I PROPOSE THAT ALL GOVERNMENTS WORLDWIDE UNITE and allow women to rule, on all levels, for FIVE YEARS / HALF A DECADE and then we come together and discuss the results.

I am willing to bet everything I have that within those 5 years several events occur:

1. The end of war(s). Maybe there is something to the “I carried and incubated another human” that creates a genetic pre disposition toward sustaining / protecting/ valuing life.

2. ALL children will have access to clean water, food, education and shelter. It is second nature for most women to willingly jump through hoops to meet the needs of a child who is suffering, or in need.

3. Pollution will be reduced by half.

4. Our governments debts will be paid and accounts balanced. Any woman who can feed, clothe and pay for household expenses – we do whatever it takes to keep a $ in our wallet for a rainy day. We’ll round up those Extreme Couponers and put them on the books! Done!

I won’t go so far as to say World Peace will reign. It won’t. But if a fight breaks out in Congress or Parliament, and I have to face off against a “Bitch” or a “Dictator” – the bitch will bite, scratch and pull hair, toss a few nasty catty comments my way, then be done. If history is our guide, a dictator might pull a gun and shoot me. Neosporin and Band Aids vs. a bullet? You choose.


fairiesThe last 24 hours have been a trial. It’s days like yesterday, and today, I realize just how much I miss my sister, who has always been my rock, my emergency call, my hand holder.

Thursday afternoon my husband sent me a text message from work relaying his outrage that a few employees had been assigned to paint the break room/lockers – they are using industrial paint. My husband has a serious sensitivity issue/ nerve issue that can bring on a seizure when he is exposed to high voc(?) chemicals. Even a strong aftershave or perfume can cause a bad reaction. Now, this IS in his work file, having been noted 20 years prior. When company vehicles are painted they do it in a bay area behind the building, etc. Measures have been in place for 2 decades, but the new “boss” – a co-worker who was recently promoted – neglected to put the necessary safe guards in place, and my husband returned from road patrol, opens the door to enter and sign out for the day and is clobbered by a wall of vapors / fumes. He almost passed out. A battle of words took place between him and the boss, who knows of John’s condition having worked together for more than a decade. When John arrived home he looked like hell and was having difficulty walking and catching his breath. We called our doctor and were advised to head to the ER. On the drive there I could not help but flash back to 20 years ago when this issue seized hold of our life.

At that time, I worked days, John worked nights so one of us was home with our then 6 month old son. New house, new baby proved true for us. We were happy but exhausted. That particular night, John had spent hours painting the yard floor with a special sealer type paint. Some paint splatter got on his uniform, and as it was winter he drove home with the windows up. Around 1am he crawled into bed, I rolled over to kiss him goodnight, only to jerk fully awake as he was thrashing in our bed. He’s having a seizure, my half asleep brain registered! I picked him up (all 6’3 of him), carried him to the bath tub, turned on water and called our doctor. Get him to the ER! So I shut off the water, dressed him in sweat pants and t-shirt, carried him to car, got the baby, diaper bag and my purse and drove across town to the ER. John draped over my shoulder, a baby carrier in the other hand, we entered the ER and our lives turned upside down.

That night I waited until John was in a room, medicated & monitored, and the baby slept in his carrier, before I slipped away to call my sister, Jennifer. For the first time in hours I was free to let go: she answered and I burst into tears and fell apart. It was barely 4am and she managed to interpret most of the information between my sobs, hiccups and rambling. “I’m on my way.”

It would be 2 YEARS before our lives began to resemble normalcy, and Jennifer was there to help me face each hurdle. John could not drive for 6 months. He was put on several different medications that caused various physical and emotional side effects. Dosages had to be altered. It would take 2 years to slowly and very carefully wean him off these wickedly complex meds while trying to avoid another seizure. Our life adjusting to a new baby seemed so simple and trivial compared to this new reality. But Jennifer listened patiently, made me laugh often and talked me down when I felt overwhelmed. She got me through it. But she’s gone.

So, Thursday evening I am driving John to the ER and this memory is playing in my mind. It hits me Jennifer is not available to take my call. She is gone. I need to face this on my own. John is scared, as he too is thinking of our previous ER run. He is treated with an hour of 100% oxygen and a I.V. to flush his system and 3 hours later he is released to go home. We dodged a seizure. We made it through this emergency. We’re okay. Or so I thought as I fell asleep.

5:55am Friday morning: after a restless night, I send John off to work with a kiss and an envelope of Workman’s Comp paperwork for his boss to fill out and sign. I lay down on the couch in hope of a nap before a full day of paperwork and errands. 7:05am the home phone rings: John’s cell # “I…I can’t breathe….ER…” Me: “What?! What’s going on!?” John: “Can’t breathe….ER…” Me: “I’m on my way!” I have NO idea HOW he is getting there. Ambulance? Driving himself? Someone taking him? Deep breath!!!! Get it together!!!!

I wake our daughter, get dressed, wash my face, run a comb through my hair and call our son. “Dad is in the ER, I have no idea what is happening. I am on my way in 2 minutes. Stay by your cell phone.”

And once again I am on my way to the ER. Only this time I am alone. And it is very quiet. And I am running through my mind if there is someone I can call? This time of year most people are out of town or on vacation. Our parents are older and I don’t want to upset or worry them unnecessarily….But I have NO IDEA what awaits me at the hospital.

God, how I miss my sister!

So, I start to talk aloud to her. I try to imagine what she would say to me. As a screenwriter, dialogue is my thing. So I begin to write my own script in the hope courage will not completely allude me. “Promise me, Jenn, that a chaplain WILL NOT be waiting for me. Please?”

My knees are weak as I move swiftly across the parking lot. I clutch my water bottle and keys so tightly my fingers ache and turn red. “No Chaplain, no chaplain….” And as the doors open and I round the corner – no chaplain! Praise Jesus!

The ER nurse recognizes me from last night. Me: “No Chaplain?” I notice my voice catches at my own joke and I blink away a tear. She smiles, “No, he’s stable, a little shaky, but we have him on oxygen. He’s in room 4.” She slaps a tag on my shirt and pushes me through the door. Across the floor I see a panicked husband peaking around the door from a hospital bed. Joy! There are tears in his eyes, so of course I have to take charge, shove down my own fear and panic. “Damn it, Dude, you’re gonna be the death of me yet.” And I kiss him and hold tight to his hand.

No seizure. More oxygen, more I.V.s and some blood work. As well as, a ridiculous amount of paperwork.

“They held our morning meeting in the room they painted yesterday~” he tells me.

I miss my sister. I like to believe she was watching out for my husband, though. And me, too.

single tearGrief. Grief sucks. Literally. Grief can, and will, suck the very life out of you, if you allow it to. And grief will do its very best to crawl inside you, settle in and color every fiber of your being, only to then transform into madness, which is a whole other glorious emotional bag of fun.

Any writer will tell you that our world is tinged by the existence of Madness, it sort comes with the territory of being an “Artist”. The (border line) madness becomes intertwined and transforms to ultimately create a union inside us creative types that germinates from a tiny seed planted in childhood, then flourishes into a bizarre and complicated full grown friendship that will be everlasting throughout adulthood; ’til the bitter end, whether that means death or submersion into insanity. After all, writers spend their life conversing with voices that communicate with us, born from within our head, heart and soul. Voices that have become so deeply ingrained within us they are a piece of our spirit, threads within our tapestry, they color how we express ourselves to the rest of humanity. Eventually, we can no longer imagine facing each day without them.

Sounds pretty freakin’ weird, huh? It is! And don’t imagine we are unaware of how weird this is.

My Dad said to me once, after reading a thriller screenplay I wrote, “Jesus, your brain must be a f***ed place up if you can write this. Scared the hell out of me to think you thought this sh** up!” My response, “Yeah, it is, you should try spending a day in my head.” Him: “No, thanks!”

Escaping into the madness is how I cope with stress. (It’s whether or not I’ll catch the train out of crazy town for the return trip that concerns me at times.) Seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it? I learned this coping mechanism in childhood, where my days were spent navigating the hallways within a house of horrors – not Dad – the other parent. She hated her life and left me with ZERO doubt about that fact. By the age of three, I had learned to hide (really well) and developed bat like hearing. I could be in the furthest corner of a storage closet on the far side of our ranch style house and I was able to distinguish the squeak of the screen door, announcing the return of my older siblings, home from school. After spending 5 hours in the closet, it took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the afternoon sunlight streaming through the bedroom window, as I stumbled toward my “saviors”. But it was HOW I spent those 5 hours soothing, calming, protecting and entertaining myself that ultimately set the foundation for who I am today: A writer who weaves stories from seemingly mundane daily events and transforms them into fantastical tales of love, horror, fear, delight and the utterly bizarre.

So, I have now shared with you the mind of the writer as it applies to an average day. We hear and converse with voices – some we even provide names for. We walk the filament thin line between sanity and INsanity at times, which we find can be both difficult and exhausting. Depleting, even. I believe this is why many writers find ways to help them cope: alcohol, drugs, sex – a vice that will assist in our escape from that “other” world. Or will at least drown the voices out and allow our mind to become quiet from time to time.

But what happens when we are faced with a tragedy, something that is inconceivable to a “normal” person (is there such a being?) which implodes within our “real” world and walking the line becomes a battle against a raging tsunami ready to wash over us and drag us permanently beneath its murky depths? We need a life line. We need aid from someone who has patrolled the circumference of our world and understands when to allow us to ride the rapids for a spell, but also sees the danger ahead and is willing to reach in, tie a rope around us and haul our ass back to “safety”. It takes a person who wields mighty strength and courage to venture inside – it takes love. It takes patience. And absolute devotion to us.

Today is the one year anniversary of my older sister Jennifer’s death. My proverbial tsunami. My grief. Jennifer was the person who took on the role of mother for me, the “savior” I referred to whose return from school allowed me to venture into sunlight a few hours each day.

When our twin daughters died and my husband and I could barely put one foot in front of the other much less comfort each other, it was Jennifer who grabbed hold of my rope, ventured into my “other” world and hauled me back to reality. She encouraged me to filter all of the heartache, rage, pain, ache, loss, grief…”commit it to paper and release it! Show the world what you feel!” I wrote my first book, which later became my first screenplay. I was tethered to the world once more. I continued to write and she patiently read and edit every line on every page for me. She was my life preserver.

Jennifer and I became closer and more intertwined through the loss of our Dad (only 59 years old), the loss of her leg to diabetes and several other health issues she battled from that evil disease. She was there when I was diagnosis with a rare and debilitating medical condition that has no cure or treatment, only maintenance and question marks. We made each other laugh, talked each other “off the ledge” and became each others life preserver, tethered to one another as the rapids threatened to wash one of us away. “I got you!” became our mantra.

I am blessed.

The day Jennifer died, driving home from the hospice, I sat in absolute silence, words escaped me. I opened my mouth to try and voice the crushing weight I felt inside, but no sound would come out. My fear and loss absolutely overwhelmed me. Who could possibly understand… My husband reached over, took my hand and said, “I’ll take the rope. I’ll keep you here.” Eight very simple, unremarkable words. But words no other person had ever uttered to me.

There have been a few “oops” moments, but come on the guy is new to this role, cut him some slack. He has done the very best he can to hold on and allow me to ride the rapids when I need to, but has also hauled me back in when it appeared I was venturing a bit too close to the edge. I am, without doubt, very blessed.

Grief is both weird and wonderful, heart breaking and heart stirring, crushing and empowering, devastating and rebirth, all jumbled up and mixed together. There is no road map or GPS to help us navigate our way through it. I see grief through the eyes of a writer: a boat trip along the river that runs through the Grand Canyon, and just for an added twist let’s say you are blind folded while on this adventure. You are launched into the river, unable to see what lurks around each bend, knowing the river wants to consume you, the rock walls WILL smash you to bits and it is only your instinct and ability to listen that will see you through to the other side.

My advice: Listen for that one voice that will tell you “Grab the rope, I’ve got you!”


screenplayI am collaborating on a screenplay with another writer, and for the most part the team effort is bringing about a great story. But we are presently at loggerheads over the next to final scene.

My partner has the “vision” of an explosive, violent battle to the end between our hero and villain, then the hero’s wife intervenes and the scene takes on an even more momentous build…LOVE IT! I mean, as a woman, I love the idea a woman, ultimately, saves the day! But a child perishes in the fight. WHAT????? No, no, no, no no….

Movie goers, particularly here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. do NOT want to see a child, or for that matter a beloved pet, perish in a film. Particularly at the end of the film. Uh Uh, nope, can’t happen. Total buzz kill.

For example in “Braveheart”: wife dies tragically, our hero endures torture, near death experience x a dozen, loses everything AND is murdered, BUT the spirit of the dead wife greets him at the moment of his demise and all is well. Music swells, audience sighs, leaves with a full but heavy heart. Film wins awards and audiences boast how much they love it.

“Titanic”: yeah, like this film is going to end well?! But, it is beloved because in the end Rose dies and joins her “prince” in a watery grave. Ah, romance.

“Conspiracy Theory”: audience believes poor Mel has sacrificed himself in order to save Julia’s character, but Ta Da! Mel is alive and better yet he gets a message to Julia who is SO HAPPY Mel is alive, even though they will never be together! Yeah!

Audiences LOVE happy endings – it’s WHY we are willing to spend $10 + for a ticket, $20 for a tub of popcorn and a Coke and sit in a crowded theater with strangers, filled with the anticipation to escape our “crappy” every day existence. It’s the price of escapism. We love to get lost in the story played out on a silver screen.

GOLDEN RULE: Adults can die, but not children or beloved animals.

“Hidalgo”: my kids were furious when it appeared the horse died! “This movie sucks!” But, as we all know Hidalgo survived and won the race. All those others riders who perished were quickly forgotten as the music swelled and our Mustang crossed the finish line. Beloved animal lives and retires to the valley with hundreds of fellow Mustangs to run free for the rest of his days! Joy!

Sly Stallone’s “Daylight”: sweet security guard can perish in a horrific way & the old dude’s wife of 52 years can drown, but it was THE DOG who the audience believed drown that got the cheers and whoops when he appeared in the last scene, climbing out the manhole! Kill off the wife, but spare the dog, Writers!

We Americans LOVE our pets and youngsters. Remember holding your breath during the scene in M. Night’s “Signs”, where the boy is laying motionless in Mel’s arms, the alien having shot his wrist poison into the kid’s face? And we were all thinking it: “Asthma! The frickin’ kid has asthma! He can’t be dead?! Right??” We all held our own breath until – music swells…The little bastard coughed! Yeah! Great movie!

Don’t kill off kids!

Now in that same movie we watched with horror as Mel’s wife WAS DYING CUZ SHE WAS CUT IN HALF BY A TRUCK! But the sweet German Shepard died off screen relayed with a heart breaking screech and whimper. Kill the wife, spare the dog if you plan to have a successful career in this town!

So, I find myself at loggerheads over the second to final scene in our screenplay. I say spare the child, but….guess we’ll have to wait and see what will appear on screen. And if a career dies with a screech and a whimper….

To Be Continued….

ImageI have been “successfully” self employed for over 17 years, meaning I am able to earn enough to (mostly) cover my bills, so I feel I know a thing or two about providing good customer service. And my position allows me insight as both a consumer and business owner to I know when adequate customer service is seriously lacking. Well, today I am going to share my opinion from both sides of the service fence, as well as share with you the companies I love to promote (sadly, no compensation to me for doing so).

As a business owner, I have been blessed with some fabulous clients who are appreciative, generous and respect the service I provide them. I am a “Girl Friday”: some clients employ me to clean their home, others to run errands or take them shopping, help with insurance forms/ bills/assist with tax forms, care for their pet when they are out of town, etc. They book blocks of my time for an agreed upon price and as long as it is legal, I am at their bidding. Several clients have employed me for the full 17 years I have been in service, so I must be doing something right. But I have also had the occasional client who has abused my attempt to provide good service: One such client I had worked for several months called me one afternoon in tears, she explained she NEEDED to keep me on, but her husband insisted she cut back on expenses as he did not receive the yearly bonus he was promised due to cutbacks, blah, blah, blah. I reluctantly agreed to a 1/4 cut in pay, THEN she asked if I could ADD an hour to my window of time with her FREE of charge…okay, jump to next appt. She is out, a list is on the kitchen counter of what she wants done. I sit down at her desk and right there in plain view is a receipt for $640 for canvas and acrylic paints for her art class (hobby, not work) charged yesterday morning. A brochure for Hawaii with dates circled is also laying right there in the open. I was stunned! I completed my list of chores, took the check she left for me on the counter and wrote her a note explaining my services were no longer available to her. I learned my ex-client attempted to bad mouth me to several people only to receive a tongue lashing about how offensive her attempts to “save” money came at my expense rather than her BMW, bi-yearly trip to Hawaii with friends and expensive hobbies.

Poor customer service at the Corporate level: my family has been loyal customers to AT&T for 20 YEARS. My husband is a state employee and AT&T offers a 17% discount for cell phone service, so we have used their service for 2 decades. In 2002, my spouse switched from one state agency to another, called AT&T and notified them of the change and that is when our frustration began. Billing dropped our discount, we called, they reinstated it. This went on for months. Each time we renewed our contract, up graded a phone, etc. we always asked if the discount is applied? Yes, the store clerk told us, it has been. Great! I should note that the paper bill comes addressed to my husband AND State of Illinois blah, blah (his branch). Pretty obvious he is a candidate for the discount, right? Flash forward to April of this year when my Blackberry died. We go into the AT&T store and pick up 2 iPhone4 (for me and daughter (Grad gift). They offered each for 1 penny with a 2 year contract. Awesome! We ask if the discount is applied? What discount? We discover the discount was dropped in 2002 and NEVER reapplied. We calculated at $10-15 per month x 11 YEARS = we have over paid more than $2000. As of today we have received $600 in credits, but several levels of AT&T Supervisors have told us while it IS an error on AT&T’s end, WE should have caught the error well before now AND we should be grateful they gave us the $600. We thought we HAD! We called, emailed and went into the stores. We asked EVERY time if the discount was on the account. Anyway, as customers for 2 DECADES, our review of AT&T is they are big, corporate bullies who do not care about good customer service ZERO STARS!

On the other side of the fence is: Gettington.com I LOVE this site for all possible items. Appliances, clothes, house hold goods, electronics, toys, etc. LOVE THEM! Last November my laptop began to “grind” – so not good! By chance, I received a catalogue with a “You are Pre Approved” from Gettington.com. I almost NEVER accept these offers, but I looked through it, read the details and went for it. A great laptop, paid for over 20 months, decent interest rate. Cool! 2 days later I had my laptop waiting for me on my porch when I got home from work. A week before Christmas my microwave died and with a husband on snow call and a kid in school, a microwave is necessary, so I went online and ordered one from Gettington.com. It arrived on the 22nd, I set it up and every button worked (power levels, clock, etc) ACCEPT the Start button. Grrr! I called customer service and asked if they could swap it out – and would it be even remotely possible to get it prior to Christmas? Maybe? Customer rep said ” highly unlikely”, but he would try his best. Christmas Eve we are rushing around getting ready to head to my parents house, the bell rings and a 20 something year old guy is standing on my porch holding a big box from Gettington.com. Apparently, he drove his own vehicle on his way home from work and dropped this off for me! “Merry Christmas!” he said and took off! Enclosed with my microwave was a prepaid return slip for the defective one and a note “Please make an effort to deliver before Christmas!” I had only purchased these two items from this company and this is their service policy! My husband and  I take every opportunity to recommend this site. They are wonderful! As a thank you, more than half my Christmas shopping is through them. Oh, and they offer FREE shipping! Awesome company!

Great company #2: Anyone who has ever received a gift of clothing or boots from me knows there is an 80% chance that item came from JcPenney. I LOVE that company, as well. Great clothes, shoes, household goods and they reinstated their generous coupons: $10 off $10, $15 off $15 for your Birthday and so on. For 15 years I took the kids there for their back to school clothes. My house is furnished primarily from JcPenney. 10 years ago I bought our daughter a small mini laptop from a company that was offered on a flyer inside my JCP statement. I could charge the cost to my JCP card, but the mini laptop came from another entity. Well, 6 months after I bought it, the thing died. I called the company and they said no returns, no refunds. I was livid! So I called JCP and spoke to a customer rep. She was super nice, but said while I did charge the cost to my JCP card, it was not one of their items and she was very sorry, but she could not help me. In a fury, I sent an email to JCP explaining the situation and stressed how disappointed I was that their company would send out these inserts with their bills, essentially endorsing the product, only it is shoddy merchandise. I signed off with the sentence ” my faith in your company and products has been shaken and that saddens me.” 2 hours later I received a telephone call from JCP: I could bring the laptop to their store and receive a full refund, including shipping & handling. A few days later I received a thank you card with a coupon for $25 off $25 and an apology for my inconvenience. Nice! I’m a happy customer and my faith is restored in JCP.

Other retailers I have had excellent customer service and resolutions to problems handled: Jewel/Osco, The Home Depot, Seventh Avenue, The Swiss Colony, Country Door – all have gone above and beyond providing service for us.

Another on going thorn in my side are satellite providers: DirecTv and Dish Network. I loathe dealing with these entities! We were with Dish for 10 years. Our monthly bill was around $50 to start then climbed to over $100 w/o any increase in service. My husband and I both called numerous times asking if we could somehow lower the cost? Shouldn’t loyal customers receive an incentive to stay with Dish? Why do NEW customers get identical service for $29.99 a month, when we pay $124? Anyway, we finally dropped Dish and signed with Directv this June. Our $29.99 service package (as the flyer promised), well, it’s already climbed to $74.58! Here we go again! Now, Dish sends DAILY email offers to us to come back for their BEST package for $24.99 per month for 1 year….and a rep called to ask why we left? I explained we tried 5 times to get our rates lowered, “Well, ya’ll should have called me, I would have done it for you!” Well, we didn’t know how to reach you Misty, and maybe you should advise your reps to be more open to negotiating with customers when we say we will leave YA’LL!

Wouldn’t it make more sense to REWARD EXISTING customers with incentives to stay AND recommend service to friends, family and co-workers? If you offered me satellite service for $75 per month to start off, throw in a few trial weeks of movie channels a few times a year and THEN my 2nd year, my cost drops by $10 per month, 3rd year ANOTHER $10 – I would ADD movie packages and shout your awesome service to all who will listen. Instead, the attitude with big corporate ventures is there will always be new customers out there to lure in for our bait & switch offers, screw the ones we have! Think of the SAVINGS in advertising costs alone if customers felt appreciated and stayed….

Okay, climbing off the soap box. My husband said my logical thinking is why I suffer from migraines. He’s probably right. Thank you for allowing me to vent.

Have a wonderful holiday season! Heather

The holiday season is upon us once again. It is the time of year we inexplicably indulge in too much food, wear sweaters any other time of the year we would not be caught dead in and schedule extended sessions with our therapist, both prior and post family get-together. And our support system post festivities consists of red wine and/or Smirnoff, consumed in liberal and vast quantities.

Stating these observations is not meant to insinuate there is friction in my family, or yours for that matter, as I love my family just as you undoubtedly love yours, though at times more so from a distance. Right? Something seems to happen to us the moment we cross the threshold into our childhood home; we revert to our position in the family dynamic that was established at birth and imprinted upon us. No level of confidence, success or position of power can undo this inevitable transformation, as it occurs instantaneously and irrevocably upon arrival. And as much as we wish to prevent it – this year will be different, dammit! – once again it happens, every time, year after year.

I have found a way to survive the descent into child like behavior and squabbling with the grown version of my childhood “nemesis”: that word is used (mostly) in jest, though not completely. I smile. A lot. ‘Til it hurts. And then I breathe through the biting, witty, sarcastic retort that burns to be released from my quivering lips….and I smile some more. See, I discovered there is nothing more frustrating to your nemesis than appearing as though their opinion means little to nothing to you. It kills them not to get a rise out of you and ultimately undermines their plan to egg you on.

Whether it be your loving mother-in-law always prepared with her endless supply of (unwanted) advice, an older sibling who assumes (we all know what that stands for) because they are older that is akin to being wiser thus you should always heed their advice and direction, or bitter dried up spinster (whoops!) Aunt Gladys who freely and effortlessly spews forth her thoughts about your weight/hair/clothes and how you could/should improve upon them. Smile, maybe even hug them (as you envision your hands around their throat, instead of their shoulder or waist) and say “thank you!”

Now, the first time out this may be seriously hard to pull off, so I suggest you choose a less stressful “dress rehearsal” as a dry run. Go to a company / business / neighborhood function – come on, you know there is at least one person there who will push your buttons. Try this tactic and practice the smile and nod, hug and walk away move. At first your “smile” may frighten young children, as a grimace with an eye twitch occasionally morphs from your taut, strained, bound muscles, but it gets easier the more you work it. Soon even your Mom-in-law won’t be able to detect the gears in your mind whirling as you envision her…all she will see are your shining (glowing) radiant eyes locked on her own as you endure her latest critique of your (fill in the blank).

Now, once you are free of the festivities, all hugs, kisses and well wishes for the New Year have politely been doled out and you are deposited safely inside your vehicle AND you are at least half a mile down the road – the fun and therapeutic merriment can begin. You and your significant other (spouse, child, loved one) begin the “I got the most inappropriate comment…” game. And the ride home is consumed by laughter and tears and shared “OMG he/she did not….!” hysterics. In a good way.

My point to this piece is this: We love our family, friends, co-workers (okay not all of them) and neighbors, but the holidays are stressful. Expectations are high, in most cases ridiculously so. Hallmark, Lifetime, We and Up TV start priming us for “what could be” family reunions, and we forget the people onscreen are ACTORS! Those stories are SCRIPTED! And those actors are probably enduring similar frustrations with their own loved ones.

Let it go. The stress, the expectations, the frustration, the old offenses. Let it go. Smile, hug and realize this might be the last time ALL of the players in the drama known as “family” might be here for the holidays. Enjoy the moment and don’t think beyond it. Yeah, they piss you off, they offer inappropriate advice, they critique you at every turn, but deep down – (in some cases deep, deep, deep down) you love them. They are a piece of the fabric that makes your family a whole.

Breathe, smile, hug and sip a lovely glass of wine, and then get ready to share the MOST outrageous comment on the way home.

Happy Holidays! And candelit dinnerbe thankful for those 10 months in between….hugs!

beautiful bookI’ve come to the conclusion that trying to get noticed in the film industry requires an approach similar in manner to a Debutante Ball.

For centuries a young lady of good breeding has relied upon her family to “launch” her into society in order to land a husband her equal or better. I have come to view the position of an Agent or Manager in much the same light, and in order to enter the realm of Hollywood I am meant to find a good one and wait for them to catapult me into the offices of the decision makers. Well, after signing with 2 seperate Agents over a five year period and having only an empty bank account to show for that “representation” (fees for copies, feedback, coverage and admin fees and No proof of ever submitting my work), I decided to take a new approach to marketing my work.

I launched my own website! Sink or swim, either a genius move or a disaster, please visit my site and provide feedback, and if you want to be a marvelous person, please refer those you know who work in the industry to my site. Thank you!