I Am

You guys are getting a “two-fer” in blog posts today. One is me being pompous (at which I excel) and one is me promoting myself so you’ll say, “OMG. I need to buy her books and read them NOW!”

This is the pompous post, but I have something I’d like you to read, think about, and use. I want the people around me (and if you’re reading this, you’re around me) to be happy, free from worry, and have the psychic space, if you will, to enjoy life.


First, a bit of introduction. I have been a student of the Law of Attraction and quantum mechanics since I saw “What the Bleep Do We Know” in 2004. I had no idea what it was about, but I remember reading something in the Los Angeles times describing it as “fascinating” and a “must see.” My best friend came from a family of mathematicians, physicists, and one rogue lawyer. I wanted to understand the field a bit better (completely skipped physics in high school). What I saw changed my thinking on a lot of things. It is part narrative (Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix, and Barry Newman (I remembered him from “Petrocelli,” an early 1970s lawyer drama on NBC)) and part documentary interviewing various doctors, physicists (Fred Alan Wolf talks about sub-atomic physics and says, “It gets a little nutty down there.” How could you not love that?), and a channeler discussing the effect of thoughts and emotions on our environment and that you can create your reality by choosing which thoughts get your focus. Energy flows where attention goes.

what the bleep

What the Bleep website

Two years later, “The Secret” came out on DVD and you’re more likely to have heard of that one. Essentially the same message, but simplified. And it has Fred Alan Wolf again. The takeaway, “Thoughts become things.”

You create your reality.

Somewhere, I came across the phrase, “’I Am’ is the most powerful phrase there is. It’s true. I have been on a roller coaster of financial/housing ups and downs since 2002. After finding these two movies, I changed my thinking about the down times. I chose to think of them as temporary, that my reality was something better, and I would return to it; I just didn’t know when.

“I am…”

How do you finish that? How you finish that sentence is your mindset about yourself. “I’m broke/tired/fat/depressed/helpless/angry/unloveable/lazy/useless/sick…”

shape reality

What if, instead of “I’m broke,” you said to yourself, “I’m okay.”? It’s not a denial of your financial condition; it’s shifting the focus from the negative to what is right. You may not have a fat bank account, but you’re housed, your important bills are paid, you have food, your needs are met. IN THE MOMENT, you are okay. That’s all you need. For the moment, I’m okay.

Chances are you’ll also be okay in the next moment. And the next.

“Well, I’m sick. Nothing I can do about that.” Saying to yourself, “I’m okay” doesn’t deny illness. It denies illness and pain their power to make you helpless and powerless. I sprained my hip once and any movement was brutal pain (I’m not a fan of painkillers, so I gut it out with anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen). After a couple of days, I went to roll over in bed and it was agony. I got so mad, I yelled, “Fuck you! You’re only temporary! You’ll be gone in a few days, but I’ll still be here!” Think of crumpling a piece of newspaper. I felt that intense ache diminish in intensity and area just like crumpling a piece of paper.

“I am okay.”

It’s an affirmation. It’s not Stuart Smalley, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me.” (Senator Al Franken during his “Saturday Night Live” days) played for laughs.

stuart smalley

It’s you telling yourself in two words that you will not let your problems eat you alive. You will claim this moment and psychic space for yourself. And the next one. And the next.

“But what if…” I would hazard a guess that if you can challenge “I am okay,” then you’re not arrested, blown to Oz in a tornado, being chased by a grizzly bear, or sitting in the middle of an IRS audit (actually, they’re pretty cool. They just want money and accurate accounting, not your immortal soul. You can be okay in an audit).

If you don’t feel okay, drink some water. Have something to eat. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths (unless you’re driving, then don’t close your eyes). Then reassess. If you still don’t feel okay, repeat.

I am okay.



Enter Title Here

Sorry for missing a post yesterday, but here ‘tis. As I didn’t get frantic messages looking for it yesterday, I’m thinking no one was emotionally distressed by its absence.


Anyway, I have been able to rediscover a part of me that had to be shoved aside for the past few years of shelter instability: cooking and baking. I cooked: made one-dish dinners, pan fried meats, built salads and microwaved stuff, but it wasn’t my kind of cooking. I am one of those freaks that loves the challenge of Thanksgiving dinner. I experiment with meatloaf. My grandmother was one of the greatest cooks I’ve ever met and I can make her stuffed cabbage (Haven’t mastered her pot roast yet, though). Other than the cramps in my upper back from stuffing cabbage leaves, it’s all good.

This past week, I made a pan of brownies. Just an 8” x 8” of the family brownie recipe (that I tweaked and improved, much to my mother’s annoyance). They were fantastic.

And I’m going to do it again. Producing something to share with others feeds me as well, especially when it turns out well. I like to give back. (well, on my terms. Someone asked for my tiramisu recipe and I laughed at her. I think she whined to Mom afterwards because I heard about it).

Way back in the 1970s, we had a subscription to Gourmet magazine. I pored over those things, studying the pictures and the recipes. As a pre-teen in Vermont (not knocking the state, but this was before the foodie movement was born and garlic was an exotic spice), I didn’t understand a lot of the ingredients or cooking methods, but I did take on one recipe:

Baked Alaska.

I don’t know how I persuaded my parents to let me give it a shot, but Dad (whose birthday was today, Feb 7) cut a small board for me to use as the platform (according to the directions) and the folks bought 3 kinds of ice cream, brandy, and rum, and everything else. I studied that recipe for  a couple of days before making it, and then…

Game day: supporting cake made, soaked in brandy. Ice cream whipped and frozen into 3 layers, and egg whites beaten into fluffy insulating meringue. Assembly, quick browning under the broiler, which caused a leak which made me cry but then, who else has made Baked Alaska? At 13? I was too stupid to know I could fail.

Anyway, I made another one later and it worked. Unfortunately, that was the last because my brother took my board and used it for his fish gutting operation.

I’m looking for that recipe. I’m going to make it again. And cheesecake. And stuffed cabbage. It brings me joy. Joy is in short supply these days.


The Electronic Soapbox

I’m going to use this space, my space, to address something.

If you know me in real life, you know I’m not a shrinking violet. You also know that I think the current President is a “disastuh,” to use one of his favorite words, and I genuinely believe the United States of America may have actually passed from democracy to oligarchy. This angers and grieves me no end. Prior to this administration, my political activity was voting and running my mouth, in person and on social media. The picture here is something I first saw in an American History textbook I still have from my second semester at UVM (1980. You do the math). I think it fits our current situation.

Do you not see what's coming?

Do you not see what’s coming?

Since the 2016 election, I have joined the ACLU (not as an attorney), EMILY’s List, Brand New Congress, and other organizations loosely known as “The Resistance.” If you’re a regular reader of this blog, we’ve covered this territory.


I participated in a Facebook comment thread the other day on another author’s page. The topic was about readers unfollowing authors because they’ve become too political. (Notice that I didn’t put that in quotes. I’m not repeating that sarcastically or ironically. It’s someone else’s view). One of the comments said that books are an escape from real life and the person who posted the comment didn’t want her experience with books to be polluted by real life (well, she phrased it differently, but you get the idea. I don’t remember how she phrased it). Please note, I am not disagreeing with or judging or deriding her.

I can see that viewpoint. It’s a valid one. Sometimes, our psychic (not ESP, but mental) barrier between the imaginary worlds that are an escape and the real world from which we want the escape are delicate. If the real world intrudes just once, the barrier may be destroyed forever and that lovely oasis lost. I get that.

On the other hand…

Novels like “Animal Farm” and “1984,” the two biggies, have been influential in changing thought (and with the current Administration, we have our Napoleon, our Squealer, and you can make the novel fit). Upton Sinclair’s novel, “The Jungle,” while not a political book, helped lead to slaughterhouse reform and “cleaner” food.

One of my heroes is Dorothy Parker, founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, aka “The Vicious Circle,” and an icon of hit and run snark.

She' still the gold standard

She’ still the gold standard

Any politics (other than gender politics) in Dottie’s writing are coded. However, she was not afraid to take a stand and put her money where her wit was and protest injustice, whether it was Sacco and Vanzetti (2 innocent men convicted and executed for a murder because they were belonged to an anarchist movement)

Dorothy protesting for Sacco and Vanzetti

Dorothy protesting for Sacco and Vanzetti

or against HUAC (the House Unamerican Activities Committee. Joe McCarthy. Red plague, Commies, all that jazz. His buddy, Roy Cohn, a deeply closeted gay man who used his influence to ruin the lives of other gay men, wrote President #45’s pre-nuptial agreement for his first marriage. The one that #45 weaseled out of. Schmuck).

They didn't keep quiet

They didn’t keep quiet

We are in a different time from the 1920s, 1950s. Duh. I can tell you that the lines are blurred on social media (for me, anyway) between personal and “professional” as an author. I have one Twitter account that I use for both. And this blog. If I tweet or retweet something political, it’s going to show up on my Facebook feed (because those are the settings I established before President # 45 even declared his candidacy). People will approve, be disgusted, unfollow me (What the hell, two of my siblings have BLOCKED me on Facebook. One I used to worship, then that person did a bunch of shit that felt like I was just someone to be taken advantage of, the other one has hated me from Day 1. Destroyed anything of mine that I left unguarded (collectibles, dresses, pictures) while telling me “You’re lucky I’m so forgiving.” No, Sweetie, I forgive you because your shit will bite you in the ass. But I digress)

I will make an effort to keep my personal out of the professional (not that I have a shit ton of followers in the first place), although I have notes, notes, notes, and an unfinished manuscript for a political farce (and how that has resurfaced is a whooooole other blog post). I had a separate email address for my authorship activities, but that has been “abandoned” so long, Google can’t verify my ownership and I can’t retrieve what’s there (offers to sell my stories for millions of dollars, praise from Oprah Winfrey and Cher, a lucrative publishing deal). However, I encourage, exhort, urge (and I have a bigger vocab than #45. I have a lot more words. I have even better words than your tired, overused “best words.”) my fellow Americans to get involved in politics beyond just voting (and if you agree with #45, but you didn’t even vote, I don’t care. Get off your butt and get involved NOW. Democracy doesn’t run on autopilot).

In the near future, I will use this space to announce new Twitter handles (maybe) and a new email address for “author stuff.” Until then, go buy my books. It’ll keep me busy and quiet.

Character Study: Judge Frank McCafferty

This is the sixth post in a series  exploring the important characters of “These Foolish Things,” who they are, some background, and how I came up with them.

Meet Judge Frank McCafferty.


My writing process is best described as watching a movie in my head and translating it into words. Movies need actors and I cast Charles Durning (in case you didn’t recognize him).

Frank is a Superior Court judge for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and sits on the bench In his native Boston. He’s known as a tough but fair jurist with little or no tolerance for nonsense in his courtroom. The judge is famous for handing out contempt of court citations by asking the offending attorneys if they’d brought a toothbrush.

Frank is taken with Liz Gardner’s legal writing skill and her ability to out argue one of the best litigators in the country, Ty Hadley. Because he thinks he sees so,etching between them, Frank uses a courtroom faux pas by Hadley to issue a contempt citation and gives him a choice: either jail time or take Liz out on a date. Ty chooses the date and things go from there. Like Beanie ( Character Study: Beanie) , McCafferty is one of the catalysts in the story and is never too far from the main narrative.

Like Ty, Fank is an alcoholic, but he’s been in recovery for years and volunteers with the substance abuse prevention section of the Bar Association (there is such a thing. And I am a member of the Mass Bar), mentoring attorneys recovering from substance abuse. Frank becomes a father figure to Ty. As for Liz, her persuades her to come work for him as a clerk.

There is a Mrs. McCafferty, but we never meet her as she is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and confined to a treatment facility. Frank has been lonely because of it and welcomes his inclusion in the lives of Liz and Ty.


Brian Dennehy would make a good McCafferty.



Larry Miller. He is best known as a comic, but did you see his two “Law & Order” episodes? Stone cold.




Yes. That’s Harrison Ford. Why not? Might be an Oscar in it for him.

There are some notoriously eccentric  judges in the Bay State. And there are judges whose offbeat sentences (like wearing a sign  or T shirt with the crime printed on it, or sentencing teenagers to do community service at a retirement home.  My Civil Procedure professor frequently told us stories about Boston judges and “Did you pack a toothbrush?” ?I have seen a couple of them in action (observer for school, not as a party to an action).

McCafferty’s admonishment to Liz (“Only the ones wearing the robes get to swear in the courtroom”) came from a Boston courtroom.

I guess one of the underlying themes of these two books is people with fractured family histories coming together to build a new loving family of choice.