Roger Ebert Never Lost His Voice

Roger Ebert, who passed away today, is on my mind and the minds of millions of admirers all around the globe. His movie reviews were compelling micro stories, someone called his critiques poetry, even when he didn’t like the film.

From his review of North (1994), directed by Rob Reiner: “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”

~The Quotable Roger Ebert

His reviews of early cinema are relevant to any film enthusiast today. Here is what he had to say about Citizen Kane, which was made the year before he was born. Talk about poetry!


What does chronic illness have to do with the winter storm?

Here’s the thing about chronic illness… It’s CHRONIC! That means it doesn’t have the courtesy to go away, even for a minute.

Many of us are dealing with the winter storm that hit the Deep North yesterday. As much as it laid us low we know there will be a Spring and then a Summer. That fact makes this burden a little more bearable.

With chronic illness we need to make our own little moments of Spring and Summer because the illness often doesn’t give them to us. The beauty of the sunlight after the storm, the pleasure of the taste of hot cocoa, the feel of a soft warm blanket. They sound like little things, they are, but they build and fill our hearts with light.

The True Meaning of Memorial Day

Today many of us will gather with family and friends, some will go shopping to take advantage of sales and most of us are grateful for an extra day off on a lovely spring weekend. But Memorial Day was not meant to be the kickoff of the summer season. 

While we enjoy ourselves let’s remember to teach our children why Memorial Day was created in the first place.

“Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic.”

       ~ General John A. Logan , as he issued the first proclamation creating Memorial Day.

“That which does not kill us…”

If I see one more inspirational quote that tells me adversity is good for me or that all I have to do is pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again, I believe I will scream so loudly they will hear me in Kathmandu!

“That which does not kill us

makes us stronger.”

The stand-up comedian responds, “Yes, but it almost KILLS US!

There are so many ways life almost kills us. The responsibility of caring for elderly parents, a disabled child, a spouse. The burden of being a single parent. Discovering that the person you thought you could trust with your most precious heart turning out to be unworthy. Losing a loved one to illness or death, slowly or suddenly. Being worn down looking for a job or being in a job you hate. Fighting for our own lives when sickness strikes and doesn’t politely go away like it’s supposed to. All of the above happening all at once! Trauma, emotional dark pits, cascading series of unfortunate events. They happen. Life happens.

How strong are you feeling right now? Not terribly? Me neither.

Some days we just have to rage. Cry, whine, moan, pout, eat ice cream right out of the carton or whipped cream straight from the can.

Lowering expectations sucks but that is exactly what has saved me from becoming a depressed bitch of the first order. While dealing with my chronic illness, it’s been a struggle to give myself permission to take a break from Facebook and Twitter, to let the writing go fallow for a few weeks, to not exercise or count calories every single day, let my husband take over the cooking, not answer every email or voice mail the minute it hits the in-box, to not read the book club selection (Columbine, for God’s sake! A great book, very well written, but jeez!). The hardest thing is to take a break from judging myself.

When I manage to remember to practice a little self-compassion I can feel my body melt a little, even relax. “Thank You!” it seems to gasp. How could I not realize how tensed up I was?

You might say I have no choice but to stop since my brain on prednisone is alternately scattered to the winds or depressed. But I DO have a choice, every day, every hour, every minute. I’d rather feel the peace of accepting that which I cannot change than the grinding, tectonic friction of anger and guilt. I’m not always successful. So what? I’m not perfect and I don’t necessarily think anger is always a bad emotion. Sometimes anger is righteous.

It’s just that anger held on for too long will inevitably backfire on us and who wants that? Besides, holding on to anger is exhausting and I do not have the energy to spare.

Your burden, I do not doubt, is more complicated, more entrenched, harder to detach from, than mine. But this I know. You are doing your best. It may not feel like it to you, but you are. I know you are.

In order to live long enough to get to the ‘makes us stronger’ part of the quote we must accept that we are good enough, we are worthy enough. Now! Today! If you can’t believe this for yourself then hear me. I will believe it for you. For all of us.

Enjoying the Gift of the Holiday!

In my inbox this morning was this quote brought to me by Elisha Goldstein, author of The Now Effect:

“In between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our responses and in our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~Viktor Frankl

Holiday’s, whatever you celebrate, Passover, Easter, the Spring Equinox, give us that space. They are a time to pause. I love that about holidays.

When I take time to observe a holiday whatever is pressing on me, worries, decisions waiting to be made, tasks needing attention, it can all wait. I give myself permission to enjoy just being. I hope you will too! Have a happy, peaceful day!

Photo courtesy Sofia Francesca Photography

The Tornado Disasters: How Can We Help?

Imagine in one minute losing your home, the roof over your head, all your possessions, all those irreplacable things that anchor you?

I live in New York, far away from the devastation. When I heard on the news that Harveyville, Kansas was hit by a tornado last week I called  my sister who lives just 20 miles from there. She said it was horrible. She and my brother-in-law have been trying to do what they can to help but it is overwhelming.

We can feel miserable in our helplessness seeing the people hit so hard by the tornadoes that took everything they have last weekend. But doing anything really does count and is Good. Every single person making the effort does make a difference because that’s what a community does. And in this small global village we are all part of that community.

For those of us who live close to a disaster area we can volunteer to help with the clean up, distribute water, collect clothing. Look for an organizing leader to direct you to what is needed most, a church, minister, civic government, the mayor’s office, your local Red Cross chapter. We can open our homes to provide warm meals to the displaced. A place to clean up and rest until more permanent arrangements are made is an oasis to someone who has lost everything. Just sitting with people and listening to their story, allowing them to vent, cry, can be a huge blessing.

Below are a collection of web sites that may serve to guide us in what we can do. If you have any other resources that could help us help others please let me know and I will post them.

The Red Cross Launches Huge Tornado Relief Response

If someone would like to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes and floods, they can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to their local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Locate a shelter. People can find Red Cross shelters by contacting local emergency officials, visiting, or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). iPhone users can download a free Red Cross shelter view app from the app store.

Those affected can let loved ones know they are safe by registering on the secure Red Cross Safe and Well website, where they can also update their Facebook and Twitter status. If you don’t have computer access, you can also register by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Loved ones outside the disaster area can use Safe and Well to find information about loved ones in the affected areas by using a pre-disaster phone number or complete address. Smart phone users can visit and click on the “List Yourself as Safe and Well” or “Search for friends and family” link.

Tornado Victimes Flock to Facebook for Helping Hand

Some communities, such as Denning, Alabama, have set up Facebook pages to share resources.

Please:  If you have any other resources that could help us help others please let me know in the comments or my email,, and I will post them.

6 Reasons Why I Snapped My Husband’s Head Off

This is me writing. I have to write because there is so much on my mind it will drive me crazy if I don’t put it down somewhere.

The day before yesterday I snapped twice. Once at my daughter and again at my husband. Getting mad is one thing, snapping out of control is another. My family was stunned. Seeing me overreact in anger is pretty rare; they gave me a very wide berth. I couldn’t stand their questioning eyes. I went to bed. Why the hell was every little thing setting me off? My life was full of positives. A growing business, healthy family, my son home from college, what was there to feel stress about?

After getting an email from my husband I could think clearly again. Here are six reasons I came up with:

1. Expanding my business. Any entrepreneur worth their salt knows that the transitions between slow growth and sudden growth can scare the bujeezus out of you. When opportunity knocks, you don’t turn it down but one decision necessitates another and another, all of it needing immediate attention, until suddenly you had better put on the breaks or an avalanche may ensue. The world is littered with the carcasses of small businesses that expanded to soon, too fast, too much. I do not believe I am making that mistake but still the stress of keeping my galloping horse from running away with me takes a lot of mental effort.

2. Too much socializing. Homebodies, last weekend was highly unusual in that we hosted or attended parties four nights in a row. Two of them were planned, the other two impromptu invitations that we couldn’t refuse. All were fun, with good people whom my husband and I enjoy. But geez, did they all have to get bunched together like that? I need my down time. Now watch, there won’t be another invitation for months.

3. Not enough time with my little family. Because of the above and because my kids are young adults now and have active social lives of their own I felt deprived. We usually set aside time to just be the four of us, even the kids are sensitive to our family time. Only with all that crazy socializing it didn’t happen on the crucial weekend right before….


3 Reasons Why EWN Does Not Do Ads

Earlier today I discovered someone had hacked into my Twitter account and left an advertisement for a diet supplement as if I endorsed it. Yuck! This stealth commercial got under my skin so badly I had to write about it immediately (see below). Why get so upset? The ad, which stayed up for all of maybe seven minutes, wasn’t for or tacky knitwear. Once everything was right with the world again, I mused on why it bothered me so much. Here are a three possible reasons:

1. The Explore What’s Next brand was built with a vision that our relationship with our reader comes first. For over four years we have been dedicated to providing helpful, quality content about relationships, anxiety, depression… just about anything about living in this complex stressful world. Advertisements, which makes money for the website that hosts them, changes the very relationship we’ve worked so hard to build. My opinion.

2. The only products endorsed here are EWN services, starting with a FREE 30 minute consultation! :-)

3. Frankly I don’t want the distraction. Managing an advertising portfolio well takes time. It is possible, rare but possible, to have ads and do it with class. To do it well I suspect you need dedicated staff or blogging is your only job. That’s fine but it’s not me or EWN. I love my jobs, all of them – managing Explore What’s Next, being a good therapist for my clients, writer, wife, mother and steward of the animals under my care. That’s enough.

But mostly it’s number one.

Photo courtesy adambowie via Flickr

This makes me so mad!

Dear Readers,

I just now noticed that my Twitter feed in the sidebar at the right is a bloody commercial! Not my Twitter feed at all! I am taking it down as soon as I can. For my real Twitter feed click on the Twitter button to your right.  I just have to say that I have always kept this blog and website clean of commercials. Once in a while I may endorse a product I like but I am not paid for it in any way. This makes me so mad. Someone hacked into my feed and it’s embarrassing. Bleh!

Later: It’s fixed now. I changed my password and deleted that ‘not me’ tweet. This is yet another lesson in the importance of changing passwords on a regular basis.

Now on to more fun stuff like Skyping!


11th Commandment: Honor The Internet Sabbath

I took an Internet holiday last week. At first I was nagged by feelings of guilt and agitation. Withdrawal pains. After a few days the discomfort was replaced with a lovely sense of relaxation. I could focus on my family, good cooking, played games, music and even the few movies we watched (‘Elf’ is a holiday favorite.) Now I return to my online community with refreshed energy!

I recommend the occasional Internet vacation. If you can stand the initial detoxification symptoms and get to the other side you will find it is worth it. This article says it all.

The Joy of Quiet


Photo courtesy of Brian Hathcock

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