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.


2019 has been a peculiar year. It’s felt both static and rushed. I’ve been pulled in all directions while being completely stuck. I am hopeful yet perpetually flipping the Universe the bird.

My intention for 2019 was to rest and refocus, allowing creativity to flow to other endeavors. To a degree, I’ve achieved that. I’m proud of what the L.A.L.A. Society is becoming and where next year will take it. Meeting so many extraordinary local authors, new writers and fabulous booklovers has been energizing. My super secret app really needs to happen fast, as the wave I felt coming in that arena is hitting others along the same lines, which is fantastic and totally pressurizing. Novel 3 is growing impatient, though. I don’t blame it. I think about it all the time, write down scenes, craft dialogue. It’s all there, but I’m not. To encourage more focus, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (again). Halfway through November and I’m only a couple hundred new words into it, falling very short (again) of the 50,000 I’m meant to write before month’s end. It shouldn’t be that hard. All I need is the time to sit still and a little room to breathe.

I am finding my breath, though. Four days a week, I breathe, sweat and flow. Eighty-five classes in and I can fly my crow, rock my bow and Chaturanga all day (or at least the one-hour class). I’m even attempting to run again, which is sort of a big deal for this asthmatic. Sometimes, you need to push yourself to remind what you’re truly capable of doing.

Like I haven’t had chocolate or caffeine since July. But I have had whiskey, tequila and French fries. It’s all about balance, my friends. I’m making this self-care thing a thing. Permanent style. The fact that I can now discern what it is to feel tired instead of dead fatigued is epic. [Pro Tip: If you feel like crap, it really is what you eat, no matter how healthy you think you’ve been. Like cooking-every-meal-from-truly-fresh-organic-plastic-free-ingredients-and-removing-all-dairy-eggs-grains-and-nightshades-from-the-menu-level healthy. It’s a lot, but totally worth it.]

What it comes down to is making choices. Sometimes we forget we have that ability. Or worse, we go about making them absentmindedly. I’m becoming much more choosy about mine.

This year, I’ve made new friendships, shed some, too, and deepened others. I’m (still) comfortable speaking my mind, even if it makes others uneasy. I don’t feel the need to apologize for being right or being in charge. I also don’t have a problem saying “I’m sorry” or admitting when I’m wrong. I won’t make myself smaller to make someone else feel secure. There’s no need to ring-lead a circus that isn’t mine. It’s possible to be kind and compassionate without being co-dependent. Honesty is everything. But, if you’re going to dish it, you’d better enjoy taking it.

What’s easy to forget is that all of this cultivation and caring for “self” isn’t egocentricly indulgent; it’s nourishing the inner artist. That might sound like a load of crap, but what do you think fertilizer is? One thing that has flourished in 2019 is my sense of gratitude. Sure, there’s a hint of frustration mixed in (hence the grrrr), but I am able to find my center and hold my ground when so much is shifting. I am able to embrace what is unfolding, even when it’s not going to plan. (I am über grateful when something actually does go to plan!) Writers know that achieving one’s goals is rarely (if ever) a linear path. So, as it winds and twists and curls, it’s important to be present. That’s when we need to take in a deep breath and say, “Thank you.” Especially, to yourself.