friends

Thoughts from the Cliff’s Edge



I wrote my first blog post on my birthday five years ago (and maybe ten friends read it). Here I am, entering my sixtieth year, and I have something to say:

  • Don’t tell me it’s just a number. I know the number. It’s 59, dammit. 😉 And yes, I’m very aware that I’ve just entered my sixtieth year.
  • I talk to myself a lot these days, especially in the supermarket when I’ve forgotten my list.
  • I still make mistakes, but I laugh about them. Mostly. 
  • I used to pull all-nighters. Not so much anymore, unless insomnia taunts me until sunrise.
  • Kids know so much more then we did, and we thought we knew everything. They’re way too grown up, though, which is a little sad. Kids shouldn’t have to worry until they’re sixteen and driving. Then everybody worries.
  • I rarely wear makeup anymore, unless I go out. And if I go out without makeup, I’ll definitely run into someone I don’t want to see.
  • I don’t wear perfume, either. Deodorant, yes. Sunscreen, definitely.
  • I wish I’d worn a lot more sunscreen in my younger days.
  • I don’t miss full-time work at all.
  • I have never made a “bucket list,” and I never will. There are places I’ll never get to see, things I may not get to do, and it’s okay. I’ve traveled a lot. I’m not done traveling, either, or learning. But no lists.
  • Well, maybe one. Today begins the Year of Living Minimally. Throughout the coming months, I’ll be posting about this journey. 
  • There were a few Mr. Wrongs in my twenties and thirties, but at 35, I met the man who could not have been more right. I’m very grateful for that, and for him, and for the hands of my father and his mother who guided us to each other. However long we have together is a gift, something to be cherished. 
  • And speaking of gratitude, I’m thankful for coffee in the morning, a good bed at night, and air conditioning in the summer. And for you, the reader of this blog post!
  • By the way, I was just kidding about that title. Really.

Tell me something good today. Or make me smile. After all, I only turn 59 once. 🎉🎂🎶🎈🙌

Our Day of Remembrance


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I wasn’t sure what to title this annual tribute. My previous posts about December 13 are listed here, if you want to revisit them:

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2012/12/12/ten-young-women/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2013/12/13/bring-all-the-priests/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2014/12/12/what-december-13th-means-to-us/

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/2015/12/12/the-memory-of-sense/

We were all affected by the Aquinas fire in 1977, whether we slept through the event (as I did) or witnessed it first-hand and survived. 39 years later, that memory is as sharp as it was then.

My classmate Michelle Dumont Vezina ’80 writes, “I experienced December 13th somewhat as an outsider looking in. We stayed up late that night studying for finals. We must have been in a deep sleep when everything was happening.

“I remember calling my parents to tell them. They had heard that morning that the largest dorm at Providence College was on fire. They assumed McVinney was the largest because of its height and thought I had been in the fire. They were relieved when I called.

“My mother picked me up that morning for what became the beginning of Christmas break. The campus was quiet, eerily so. I remember looking at Aquinas Chapel from my dorm room window, thinking about the girls who died.

“At that time, I had never experienced death of anyone close to me.  I didn’t really understand the feeling. No one really understands until they lose someone close to them.”

*****

A survivor, Kim Fasolo Martin ’80 writes, “December 13, 1977 changed every part of me down to my soul. For many years, I tried to figure out a specific event in my life that I was saved for, such as my marriage or the birth of my child. It took me decades to realize that I was saved for many reasons. I try to give the lessons that I learned from that terrible night to anyone who will listen. These are some of these lessons that I live by:

“Be kind to people. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you and how much you love them every chance you get. Never go to bed mad at anyone. Cherish your friends. Do not judge people for how they act until you know what has happened in their life.

“There are so many more lessons that I learned and am still learning.

“All the women who suffered this tragedy on December 13, 1977 share a bond that cannot be broken even if we have not spoken to each other.

“Sometimes, out of tragedies, there is good and when this happens,  we have to share this good to anyone who will listen.”
*****

The Aquinas fire claimed the lives of ten women living on the north end of Aquinas Hall’s fourth floor on Dec. 13, 1977. Katie Andresakes ’80, Jackie Botelho ’79, Barbara Feeney ’81, Donna Galligan ’81, Sallyann Garvey ’81, Gretchen Ludwig ’81, Cathy Repucci ’81, Laura Ryan ’81, Debbie Smith ’78, and Dotty Widman ’81.

Focus on the Positive


“Find every opening to reinforce the value of returning to right and reason in your own life.”

~ Deepak Chopra

I thought I’d post this one line instead of Chopra’s entire article (which you can read here if you’re so inclined). I didn’t want to turn it into a political post – haven’t we all had enough of this exhaustive ugliness anyway? It’s Sunday and I’m feeling a little bit lazy, so here are some pictures to brighten your day. Focus on the positive when you can – all this negativity does you no good.

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All photoS by M. Reynolds

Gandria, Switzerland

Gandria, Switzerland

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Wilcox Park, Westerly, RI

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Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI

 

 

Looking Back (Way Back)


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As I’ve been working on recreating this journal written by my maternal grandfather (which will be a book by December), it’s inevitably led to some family tree research.

Over twenty years ago, I picked up on my mother’s love of genealogy and created a binder of information for her. Lots of pages, many, many branches of a tree that went all the way back to King Alfred the Great. (‘Mom, if we’re descended from royalty, why do I have to work?’ ‘Someone married for love, that’s why.’) Of course, the argument can be made that we’re all connected, and the more I do this research, the more I believe it.

My husband’s mother was born in Salzburg, and we have documents, official certificates of births and marriages and deaths. I have Zeinzingers back to the late 1700s, and Strauss, Altmann, Eder. Everything in German!

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This has helped! So has my online friend Eva Merryman – her translations have been valuable in figuring out the who, the what, and the where.

So, how about you? Do you look back? Have you discovered something wonderful in your family history?

Oversharing


sharing

I know three or four loyal readers of this blog who don’t have a social media presence (I love them!), but many of us do, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, blahblahblahblahblah. We do it for varying reasons: I first joined Facebook at the invitation of a high school friend, and found I could enjoy a virtual reunion without worrying about what to wear. College friends, former co-workers, an old crush, neighbors, even my best friend from second grade. We’re all connected online.

Some have more of a presence than others, for different reasons. As an author, I’ve learned that it’s important to stay connected with readers. I try not to shill my books (they’re all right there on the page, isn’t that enough?!), and love to promote others. I enjoy seeing photos of my friends’  kids grandkids, pets, and even the same sunset from another viewpoint.

This past week I was struck with the concept of oversharing. And its opposite. A former co-worker completed her rounds of chemotherapy (breast cancer) without a single post to the world. Her family and close friends were aware, I’m sure, but someone like me, an acquaintance at best, had no need, and she didn’t find it necessary to share her struggle. Only when the chemo was completed did her husband post joyfully (with her okay). And I think we all felt the same joy for her, even if we hadn’t known what she’d endured these past months.

That isn’t to say that those who feel the need to share every last tidbit are bad people. According to the Daily Mail (UK), scientists have revealed that people who feel compelled to share intimate details of their lives on social media sites have heightened activity in the region of the brain relating to self-cognition. Some folks just like to share information about themselves. It’s their diary (for everyone to read!). And for us, we have the option to simply hide, delete, scroll through.

 

 

Hi, My Name is….Introvert


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Some of you will read this title and think, ‘Not Martha!’  I know. I play a good game of it.

Last week I attended an event with my pal Lynne. I didn’t think I’d know anyone there. I ended up seeing a couple of former co-workers (people who were actually nice), and I was introduced to a few of Lynne’s colleagues. Smiles and handshakes all around. Nodding at conversation.

And yesterday I attended my 40th high school reunion. It was a very successful day, and, as I’d had a hand in the planning of the event, I received plenty of compliments and positive feedback about the day.

After a few hours, I couldn’t wait to leave.

Now hold on – it wasn’t that I didn’t want to see old friends. I did! And they’re really great people. Yes, we’ve all grown up (way up), and after forty years, much of my teenage angst is pushed back. Maybe not forgotten but certainly diluted by life’s joys and accomplishments. I had a chance to speak with just about everyone, and even led a goofy trivia contest.

Well, that doesn’t sound like an introvert, does it?

But here’s the thing, and I thank Lynne for the conversation last week as we were driving back home from the beach event: an extrovert derives energy from being around people – an introvert’s energy is sucked out by being around others. An introvert may work hard at being sociable, but it’s draining.

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Introverts don’t like small talk – not because they dislike people, but because it serves as a kind of barrier. Introverts sometimes feel alone, even in the midst of familiar faces. Introverts can be excellent public speakers (yes!), but find it more difficult and stressful to mingle with others afterwards. Introverts start to shut down after they’ve been active for too long. And I did, at both events. So, my apologies to my high school friends for leaving the party without saying my goodbyes. I was so grateful to be in your company! And for the ones from my high school class who couldn’t attend the reunion, meeting one-on-one or in a small group would be absolutely perfect. But you knew that.

Hot Songs – 1976


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Next week is my 40th high school reunion (ack!). So I’m reflecting, of course, and listening to music from 1976 – forty years ago. The 70’s gave us some great songs, ranging from the folky music of the early part of the decade to the raging disco music at the end.

Here are some of my favorites from the summer of ’76:

“Love is Alive” by Gary Wright. Peaked at #2.

“Silly Love Songs” by Wings. McCartney answered his critics with this one.

“Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band. Hit #1 in July 1976.

“Get Closer” by Seals and Crofts. Sorry about the poor quality (it’s 1976!). S&C’s last Top 10 hit.

“Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck. Their debut single and biggest hit.

“You’re my Best Friend” by Queen. Reached #16 on the Billboard charts.

Happy Book-iversary (to me)!


99centsMy first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, was published on August 12, 2012 – nearly four years ago! (It was republished with a new cover in April 2013.) In those four years, I’ve written and published six novels, all of which have given me tremendous pride and a sense of accomplishment. I’m doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing, and that is sufficient. Well, pretty much.

New novels can trigger a sales flurry, but sales drop off after a time, even for beloved best-sellers.

So….for the coming week, every one of my six novels will be discounted to 99 cents for the e-book (Kindle version). I have no control over the print price, but if you come to the RI Authors Book Expo on December 3, 2016 http://www.riauthors.org/riexpo/ , I’ll have print copies available for a great price.

You can grab a three-book series, described by one reader as “writing (that) draws wonderful pictures of the characters and allows you to really ‘fall into’ the book ~ which is one of my favorite things about reading.” Or read about a group of classmates readying for their 25-year high school reunion and visiting old grievances. A novel about a young woman pursuing her dream of becoming a best-selling author, only to face a harsh reality check. And finally, a lighter story involving two friends who gamble on a dream of turning a rundown farm into a premier wedding venue. If you’ve already read these books, here’s a chance to give some gifts. In any event, I’m grateful – so very grateful – for all the positive feedback and encouragement I’ve received, from friends and strangers new friends, over the past four years.

When Despair Wins


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When I was in my late teens, a girl I’d known in high school committed suicide. We weren’t close, but it shook me. From what I understood later on, she was distraught over a failed love affair. I think my dad took it harder, especially as the father of three girls (and me in the middle always going through some sort of crisis). She saw no other way, and had no hope that tomorrow could be better.

In college, my best friend learned of a relative’s suicide via telephone. We were on our way to a friend’s house for a weekend of fun with others. I told him I’d stay back with him if he felt it too difficult to attend the party, but we went. When I look at photographs from that weekend, I see a forced smile, eyes full of pain and sadness.

And yesterday I learned of another young person who took his life. I didn’t know him, but I do know one of the people affected by the tragedy of despair. She is left reeling and broken.

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I used to consider suicide a hostile act. I don’t anymore. My heart hurts for the person so consumed and overwhelmed by despair that there’s no room left for hope. The permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Let Freedom Ring!


Did you know that Rhode Island is home to the nation’s oldest Fourth of July parade? That’s right, the town of Bristol, RI hosts it.

source: Wikipedia

source: Wikipedia

The annual Fourth of July celebration began in 1785. It’s not known exactly when the parade started but it’s thought to have evolved from the procession of community members walking to patriotic exercises (according to the Bristol Fourth of July website). The parade, held on the 4th, is a 2.5 mile-long walk through Bristol.

source: July4thbristolri.com

source: July4thbristolri.com

source: july4thbristolri.com

source: july4thbristolri.com

If you go, get there early! The parade begins at 10:30am. You can’t camp in ‘your spot’ overnight, either – no setting up chairs or blankets before 5:00am. Your best bet is having a friend who lives on or near the parade route. In years past, we drove to a friend’s house (she lives about a quarter-mile from the route) and walked. Attending the parade is definitely something to do at least once if you’re local.

What will you do to celebrate America’s independence? It’s 240 years, you know. Whatever you do, enjoy and be safe!