Saturday, July 21, 2018

Broken-Hearted, RIP Mario

We had to say good-bye to one of our pussycats this morning. It was a sudden illness that took Mario from us, the vet and the vet tech did what they could but there was no saving him. And I am heartbroken over the loss of this Gentle Giant of a pussycat.

So this post is dedicated to Mario, born in July 2008
(please forgive my self-indulgence). 

He was part of a litter and surprisingly he was left behind at the shelter as the "runt" - he grew to be such a big boy weighing in at over 25-pounds. Mario pretty much dwarfed his brothers Tigger and Luigi. He loved to chase reflections on the floor, the walls, and the ceiling... for a big cat he moved really fast. One of his favorite "toys" was an electric tower fan, it had a little shiny logo and when it caught the sunlight the reflection skittered across the floor, Mario had so much fun with it.

 I nicknamed him (in addition to my Gentle Giant) my Creamsicle because he was orange and white. As a tiny little kitten (we got him when he was three months old) he looked like he had dipped his nose into a bottle of white paint, and I still can't believe that something that tiny grew so big.

Mario had a distinct personality and I admit while the "breed" wasn't 

the same I did model the cat in two of my novels after him (Mauszer)
Mario played with his brothers, often stole their food, and fought and cuddled with them non-stop. We adopted Mario along with Tigger and Luigi in early September 2008 from our local animal shelter; Tigger was the "old man" at 3 years old, Mario (3 months) and Luigi (2 months) were the "babies".
At this point I know he is romping at the Rainbow Bridge with brothers and sisters he never physically met (Mark and I have had multiple cats for most of our married life), but I am convinced that their spirits still roam through our home — as I am sure Mario's spirit will pay visits every so often as well. 

He leaves us with beautiful memories. We love you Mario, thank you for being a part of our lives.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

What does it take?

What does it take to get through many of life’s adversities? Why does it seem so easy for some and hard for others? And knowing all of this why do authors (like me) like to put their favorite characters through the wringer?

The answer to the last question is clear (at least to me it is) — I like to throw all kinds of troubles at my characters simply because I can and because dealing with life’s troubles is just LIFE (did you ever notice that LIFE is a 4-letter word?).I’m not a sage, I don’t have all the answers, but I know that most of life’s challenges CAN be managed. Like many of my characters I’ve had more than one life-event figuratively slap me in the face, I am no superhuman, but SO FAR I have survived.

Here are a few of the hurdles my heroines have had to contend with: Paige was raped; Julie is stalked; Annie has an abusive husband; Deanna is kidnapped and held hostage; Caitlyn’s husband can’t remember her the day after their wedding; Sudah encounters prejudice because of her religion; Samantha has to hire a bodyguard because someone is trying to kill her; Layne goes into hiding because she fears losing her child; and Alli winds up having to defend the man she loves from a murder charge. Whew! And I am not even going to start on the mishaps my heroes face.

Indeed I am trying to find humor in this post, but sometimes life does get to some people’s ability to function, and that is not so funny. Everyone has a bit of trauma and drama in their lives and sometimes their coping mechanisms seem to break down. Folks become despondent, they give up and sometimes all they want to do is escape.

Z. Hereford wrote that “When you respond positively and constructively to your biggest challenges the qualities of strength, courage, character and perseverance emerge from deep inside of you.”

Here are some recommended strategies for dealing with life’s negative events: Accept that adversity is inevitable in life; Create and know who is in your support system; Know that there are others before you who have survived adversity; and Don’t focus on past negative events, shake off the self-pity. 

Throughout life there will be challenges, disappointments, pain, physical and mental blows — it is important to Take Care of Yourself. Simple things like sleep and diet can go a long way. Understand that each person can view his own difficulties as something magnified, whenever anyone is in crisis it may seem as if their world is ending.

Do not self-medicate (alcohol, drugs, etc) or ignore the difficulty you might be experiencing. Don’t close yourself off from others, you should never feel isolated when you are in pain and need. Believe in yourself and in your self-worth. It is okay if you take to prayer or meditation IF you have a belief in a higher power. 

Most importantly, if you feel your pain is beyond your coping ability, whether it is physical, emotional, financial, or social — IT IS ALRIGHT TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE.

You are important.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Summertime Memories

My dad got two weeks of vacation time every year and he always arranged to take the last two weeks of August (just before the school year began for us Bronx kids). When I was young I remember our favorite spot was Atlantic City, this was loooonnng before the looming casinos. We always stayed at the same motel, The Jolly Roger [THE Jolly Roger I am speaking of allegedly burnt down several years later and was never rebuilt].

There was a regular group of families who frequented the motel during the final throes of summer play and we all arranged lots of group activities. Between the outdoor pool at the motel, the beach in Atlantic City, the boardwalk and the amusements it was always 125-percent fun filled and always the best way to rejuvenate before heading back to the realities of work, school and life.

I remember that I learned to swim in the Jolly Roger motel pool. Daddy always supervised my sister and me in the pool. Since I am the younger of two, I assume, if memory serves correctly that rules were obviously different. I was not allowed to be IN the pool unless my Dad was right there with me. This particular day he just wanted to relax and let the hot sun bake into him, I was SUPPOSED to be sitting on a neighboring lounge playing with dolls or reading a book. Alas this day I was being a brat and running around the pool deck.

My Father was unflappable, he had a way of “sleeping’ while he remained totally vigilant. There I was teasing him that I was going to jump into the water without my swimming tube. Calmly he told me that I should be seated next to him. I stood on the diving board lightly jumping up and down. I still remember thinking how does he know what I am doing, he’s got his eyes closed and I swore he was even snoring now and then, but I couldn’t get a rise out of him and I was ready to give up. As II did an about face away from the water my foot slipped and I tumbled in hitting the side of my ribs and SINKING like a sack of potatoes.

I don’t know how far I actually went down but I remember thinking I was going to get sucked down through the drain hole. I started kicking and managed to swim underwater to the nearest pool ladder. As I pulled myself up the rungs I looked over to the lounge Daddy had been napping on (I guess I was hoping he wouldn’t know what I had done?), his chair was empty! I looked over the water and was surprised to see my Dad gliding through the water at high speed; I barely had a chance to turn my head and he was already next to me and verifying that I was indeed all right. That was the day my swim tube disappeared and I discovered that Daddy really could see through his eyelids!

We had so many fun summers at the Jolly Roger, we all made friends and had terrific adventures. I remember meeting “Mr. Peanut” on the boardwalk, visiting Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, eating cotton-candy and salt water taffy, building sandcastles on the beach with my sister, having fun filled dinners out with the rest of the gang. Finally the summer came when the gang seemed to fade and even my parents decided to try different adventures and go other places. We still had so much fun.

Summer vacation has always seemed synonymous with family fun, relaxation and starting the new school year feeling refreshed… I always loved the writing assignment “What I did during my summer vacation.” When our children were young we tried to emulate the summer family vacation and we actually got to visit some very interesting places. Now that they are grown adults hubby and I find other ways to enjoy and relax although we do tend to stay closer to home these days.

Remember that books can help take you on (short) mini-vacations filled with new experiences and lots of interesting people and I hope you’ll take some of “the gang” along with you this year.

I hope that your summer holidays are both fun and memory filled adventures. Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me.

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