I’m Doing a Thing

I’ve been learning a lot about myself during this pandemic. One discovery is that optimism is required fuel for my creativity. Not that I am a Pollyanna or one of those “good vibes only” folks. (Please. I survive on snark.) But there’s something about being able to trust in one’s future. That trust let’s you relax and, in that relaxed space, creativity is freed. Of course, I know that nothing is guaranteed. We now know how quickly things can change. But, up until November 2016, we had the luxury of putting a little bit of faith in how our world would look, what we could depend on, an idea of what the future would hold.

Then, that all went to shit.

This year has been unimaginable. I mean, really. People put stuff like this in movies or books (or conspiracy theories), but this is not how the developed world should work…if we have actual intelligent, mentally stable and emotionally secure adults running the place. Sadly, we are in a great big orbiting clown car right now. And I’ve found I cannot write inside of that.

This isn’t writer’s block. My third novel is still alive and growing, scenes of it flashing in my mind, but I’ve been stunted in the past 3.5 years. I’ve come to understand how depleted I am. I need a certain level of joy and things to look forward to in order for that creativity to make its way out of me.

I suppose it’s as simple as needing to feel safe, to trust that I can be vulnerable enough to open myself up…that’s the only way the story can be let out into the world and onto the page. Try as I might—and I have tried—I just haven’t been able to find that space.

Creativity is funny, though. It will find a way to manifest. Trick you into it, if it must.

Since the pandemic began, one thing that’s been a pressing need is to be of service. With asthma as a pre-existing condition, I have to limit my exposure to COVID and, thus, people. I wondered how I could find a purpose from the safety of my sofa.

For the past couple of years, I have flirted with the idea of doing a podcast. There was a false start with a good friend a while back, but our enthusiasm was dashed by schedules that couldn’t align. Flash forward to 2020 and a pandemic; suddenly, my Fridays were free. I was able to pick up a Zoom recorder and mics for a bargain from a business’ “estate” sale (foolishly thinking we’d soon be able to see people in person). Now that Zoom recorder serves as a pre-amp for my Zoom video chats. Fridays are spent interviewing amazing people, editing audio and doing show notes.

On October 1st, the podcast launches. I’m a little giddy about it. I’m talking to experts, celebrities and every-day people about topics that we tend to avoid or aren’t sure how to address, and situations that may have seemed insurmountable, but someone made it through them. I’m learning a lot, and laughing a bit, and enjoying meeting new people who have been very generous with their time and willingness to talk.

Each Wednesday, a new episode will drop. So far, the topics have been: shame, sexual insecurities, single stigma, climate change, ageism, financial fears, relationship challenges and disability indifference. Soon, I’ll record interviews on mental illness, food addiction, ego and toxic happiness.

I’ve been recording interviews since the end of July. Last week, I took “vacation” from my day job and, for the first time in nearly two months, I didn’t have an interview to do. And I missed it. I found myself looking forward to something again. And, wouldn’t you know it, I went back to work on that third novel.

If you are looking for a connection, a chance to learn and laugh a little, please tune in. The podcast is available wherever you like to listen. Even here.

Change. Now.


We had a signal in 2016. Vote. Don’t take a chance. Don’t run that risk.

We failed to show up.

We have seen violence exacted on people of color again and again. We’ve watched with horror, yet remained silent.

We failed to speak up.

We witnessed the divisive acts of this administration. We were told to wait it out. It won’t be that bad. We waited too long.

We failed to act.

We have made mistake after mistake, failure after failure. We have turned a blind eye and kept our mouths shut. But that ended with the life of George Floyd. The wave of pain and frustration flooded every corner of this country, and the scream that came with it bellowed:

We must change. Right now.

We don’t have a choice in this matter. The change is here. It’s happened in a moment when millions of Americans are jobless and millions more are staying home because we are in the middle of a pandemic. The American people are able to take to the streets in numbers never before seen in our history. Not just once or twice but in double-digit days. And those who are not protesting are watching. We are all bearing witness. The world took notice. The world is demanding justice, not only for Mr. Floyd, but for themselves.

There is no going back.

Peaceful protests were turned into police riots when officers began attacking citizens. These protestors were already risking their lives by being in crowds during the pandemic, only to risk physical harm by being attacked by those who were sworn to protect and serve. In their rage, officers forgot cameras are everywhere. We watched them exercising brutality without cause. Their violence can no longer be downplayed or misrepresented as self-defense. We clearly see what has been hidden for too long.

For just shy of nine minutes, George Floyd was held down with a knee to his neck. Four officers murdered a man who was unarmed and cooperative, who warned he could not breathe, who called out for his dead mother. It’s believed that for four of those minutes, Mr. Floyd was dead. For 526 seconds, not one of those four officers bothered to check on his well-being. If not for the young woman brave enough to film Mr. Floyd’s murder, this would have been another BIPOC death in police custody declared justified.

This happened after Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home.

This happed after Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down while on a run.

This happened after Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, Philando Castile and Sandra Bland. After Rodney King’s beating. After the assassinations of Malcolm X and Dr. King. After innumerable acts of violence and hundreds of years of injustice. We can stand no more.

Some people saw protests. Others saw riots. Too many focused on looting. What we saw and are seeing is the long-awaited evolution. Revolution that is so overdue. Take a moment to watch author Kimberly Jones powerfully and passionately explain:

For a country that believes in freedom, equality is a component of that which has long been missing. It is time to bring this country together on an equal field. To love and truly care for each other, as Americans. As brothers and sisters. As one.

We’re taught that politics are not part of polite conversation. We are media-trained to keep our political beliefs away from our public personae. That’s wrong. That’s how to keep bigotry hidden, the polite racism that abounds around us. The quiet part kept quiet. I want you to know who I am. I want you to understand what I believe.

I am antiracist. I believe Black Lives Matter. I want this change. I wish it had happened much sooner. I am enraged. I am heartbroken. I was quiet for too long, even when I was speaking out.

I tolerated racists in my life—as friends, as employers. It could be excused as, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” But that’s a cop-out.

Since 2016, I have been dismissing those people from my life. Sometimes quietly, more often loudly pointing out their racism before the ties were severed. It was sadly surprising to see how the election freed people to show their bigotry. But, in some ways, it was good—now I see you clearly. Now I can’t ignore that ugliness. Now, there’s no excuse. Better to be exposed so it could be called out.

I also have to examine my colorblindness. It’s problematic yet we were made to feel it was evolved and right. How it presents for me is seeing my BIPOC friends through my lens and my experience, forgetting theirs is unimaginably different and failing to open the conversation about it. It’s embarrassing and disrespectful, and only shows the blindness of my white privilege. That will change.

I will continue to point out racism each time I see it. I will no longer love the sinner unconditionally. That sin must be cleansed. I am not worried about how that will affect me as a private person or publicly as an independent author, or how that may lessen my audience. That is so unimportant.

Another small step I’ve taken is to boycott Facebook and Instagram until Mark Zuckerberg changes his policy to enforce community standards equally, removing posts that are racist and incite violence, even if those come from the President of the United States, and to ban abusive users, even if that includes the President of the United States. [The fact that this even needs to be requested makes my stomach turn.] I am nowhere near an influencer, so my impact will be that of a grain of sand. But you cannot expect a company to change if you continue to use its services. It’s easy to stay on those platforms because that’s where your friends are/your audience is, and it took a long time to cultivate that crowed. Your livelihood might be tied to it, too. And you know, so what? By staying engaged, you are allowing a racist to keep to his ways and make him even richer. I say, use your influence more wisely.

Instagram SAM

I breakdown social media like a high school quad: Facebook is for folks who want to be popular; Instagram is for those who think pretty is important; Twitter is where the bookish kids and rebels hang out. It’s smarter. It’s harder. It’s better. If you think you’re making social change on Facebook or Instagram, when was the last time a Facebook meme did anything (except cause arguments)? What you’re typically re-posting is something that came from Twitter. Not that Twitter is perfect by any stretch; it’s trying to be better, though. Twitter is where you’ll find me, being angry and occasionally funny, and sharing information from people much wiser than me. Please connect with me there. If you’re new to it, @ me and I’ll help you out.

If you’re brave enough, maybe leave Facebook and Instagram for the rest of June, or all of July, or maybe until it changes. (I haven’t been on my personal Facebook for about two years now. Trust me, you won’t miss it.) That company needs to change. It’s time for it to evolve. It has to. But that chance will only occur if you force it.

Force it.

Find a way to make a stand because the time to take action is now. Every moment of every day from now until we have made reform.

We had high hopes for 2020. Not even halfway through it, and we have been knocked over by it again and again and again. Today, we are standing up stronger. Today, we can again have hope for 2020. It is up to us to recreate the city/state/country we call home.

We have five months until the election, another seven before we have a new president in the White House. We cannot wait. We must show up. We must speak up. We must act. We must change.

We must. Right now.

Creating Amid COVID-19


“I thought I would have more time to write,” a friend shared during a group Skype. Four of us were catching up with a virtual cocktail hour late last week. We are fortunate, with day jobs that allow us to work from home, without reduced hours (yet) but with added responsibilities. “Once I’m done with work, I’m done,” she said. We all nodded in agreement, understanding the exhaustion, complimenting each other for looking well, if not a little worse for wear. Stress is thick as the smog that used to cover L.A.

We hoisted our glasses to each other, or at least our computer screens, toasting friendship, health and hope. We joked about our adjusted shower schedules, the odd adventures had simply by going outside, the changes in behavior—both our own and those we meet, and the shocking surprise at how many people think six feet is a subjective length. A deep discussion was had about toilet paper and our newfound philosophies of its use. There was a quip about what this administration has brought us to, but very little is funny about that right now. We found other things to laugh about. Thank God there are still things to laugh about.


The world is weird right now. Everything is at a distance but oppressive in its weight. We try to ignore what we can as best we can. We have to. It’s a coping mechanism, a requirement to face another day not knowing how many more like it we’ll have to force our way through, bidding farewell to the concept of normal as we go.

We try to be good friends and partners, supportive to those who need us. Giving to those in need. Endlessly praying for healthcare workers, first responders and those precious people essential to our daily lives. Watching as people ignore facts and science, are arrogant with guidelines, dismissive of people’s sacrifices. Waiting for some sort of breakthrough or good news.

Those of us who create usually find respite in that endeavor. Writing, painting, dancing, cooking, knitting, singing, jamming, spinning—that was the escape. We got to go into our own world and make something. We could drown out the noise and replenish our spirit. Now? Now there’s a cacophony of concern and fear and worry and sorrow and dread and anger and impatience, and all of that blocks the intersection of inspiration and imagination. Even if we have time for our art, we may not be in the mental or emotional space to enjoy it.

Last month marked the L.A.L.A. Society’s Writers’ March, where we dedicated 1 hour each day to progress on our WIPs. I put in my time each day, which wasn’t always easy, finding myself still stuck on the first three chapters of Novel 3 (yes, still). I re-read them, tweaked scenes, changed a word here or there and usually changed it back again. The story was alive and well and thriving in my mind, but it seemed to be following the Stay Home order, too; refusing to leave my brain to make it onto the page.

I didn’t push. I know better than that. I would still jot down scenes in my notebook or several squares of Post-Its. The creativity was there; it just couldn’t get to the other side.

As soon as I went into lockdown, I made a decision to move. Each morning, the first thing I did (right after making my bed) was exercise. Mostly yoga, but there’s some Pilates, a bit of kettle bell-ing, an urban hike every so often. Rather than feeling like a chore, like something I had to do, it felt nurturing. I looked forward to it. I did it before I could see the news, before checking Twitter…but after a quick glance at the top stories on my phone (because that’s responsible). Sometimes, it was a hard twenty, others it was an hour of flow, mostly it was hitting that 40-minute sweet spot. More than exercise, what it actually was was giving time to myself. Giving to myself. Taking care of myself. Caring.

After my workout, I make tea and breakfast. Then, I sit down to work, better prepared for the stress of that. Afterwards, I make dinner, settle in and open my MacBook to write. And the writing comes comfortably. It no longer feels like a chore, like another obligation. It’s heavenly.

The other day, instead of savasana, I went into a headstand. The first one in a while. The first time trying one in my tiny space—disaster looming on all sides if I were to fall out of it and not tuck into a small ball as I went. To my surprise, it was effortless, like someone was pulling me up from my feet. I held the pose for a while. I didn’t have to think about it, analyze it or worry. Deep down, I knew what to do. Somewhere along the line, I had gained strength. Somehow, I remembered to trust myself. Trust myself completely.

Surprisingly, my writing had relaxed even though my stress level rose. I wasn’t simply sitting down to write anymore, but rushing to get to my laptop in order to get it all out. Take what has lived in my head for so long and escort it to the keyboard, onto the screen that will one day turn into a page. I’m halfway through Chapter 5 now, enjoying the writing process again.

Every now and then, I go back to that airplane lecture we politely ignore, flight attendants telling us to put on our mask first. A whole other level of irony surrounds that now, in this crazy time of COVID-19, but the simple message is one we tend to ignore: You cannot take care of anyone or anything well unless you have taken care of yourself first. We worry that will make us selfish. Not at all. Self-protection, self-caring differs greatly from being selfish.

Take care of yourself. Find a way to be kind and nurture yourself. There is so much stress and fear and worry and sorrow we are wading through; you just need a few minutes each day to take care of yourself. Allow yourself that. You’ll gain more than you realize. Then you can give even more to those you love. Including your art and muse.