It has always been an interest of mine to consider the nuances involved in my encounters with others, those that are nourishing and even those that are more distasteful for some reason. In recent years, my interest has broadened to include encounters with animals, nature, books, movies and now, online conversations with people who I treasure yet may never meet.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


 Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide charts the near destruction of one middle-class family whose son committed suicide after a seven-year struggle with Bipolar Disorder. Madeline Sharples is an author, poet and web journalist who goes deeply into her own well of grief to describe her anger, frustration and guilt. She describes many attempts - some successful, some not - to have her son committed to a hospital and to keep him on his medication. The book charts her and her family's redemption; how she considered suicide herself and ultimately, her decision to live and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother and writer.
Click to order: Paperback  Click to order: Kindle

Contact Madeline Sharples on her blog, Choices, located Here.

The review that I wrote and posted on Amazon was titled, 'A fly on her wall.' Perhaps this may seem to some an odd title. As I was reading the memoir, however, it felt as if Madeline had opened to me, as an observer, a door into the actual experiences had by her family and herself. As an avid reader, those stories that pull me deeply into the experiences portrayed are books that I consider to be worthy of '5-stars.' When a story involves tragedy, an author's ability to invoke in me deep levels of compassion, empathy and even commiseration are key. Chapter One, How It All Began, pulled me in deeply, catapulting my emotions straight into the tragic incident of Paul's suicide then immediately lightening my overload of emotions with scenes of the earlier years of  this fun, loving family. Madeline delivers these scenes as a gift to her readers and gave to me the glimmer of hope that can portend healing and recovery.
If I had not previously worked in the field of mental health, my understanding of a person with Bi-polar Disorder would have been made complete due to Madeline's descriptions that so vividly depicted the emotional roller-coaster ride of this illness, a sometimes insurmountable one. Most compelling for me was Madeline's gut-level delivery of her own emotional roller-coaster ride through grief. She openly shares with her readers the raw thoughts and emotions felt as she and her husband attempted to get her son, Paul, to seek the help he needed and to take the medications that could help him stay more in balance; and, when their attempts failed time after time, to deal with a deep sense of helpless anger, hopeless guilt.
Madeline's journey through grief was a long one yet one that had plateaus of fresh air along her way. Her story portrays a growing sense of hope as each phase brought her towards a place of recognition that the thoughts and emotions within grief are not static; that, above all, grief is 'love in action.' Leaving the Hall Light On is a real-life story that depicts a journey that I would not wish to take yet, it is one that I feel privileged to have been allowed to follow as, 'a fly on the wall.'

Madeline Sharples studied journalism in high school and college, and wrote for the high school newspaper. She only started to fulfill her dream of working as a creative writer and journalist later in life. Her memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, was released in a hardback edition in 2011 and has just been released in paperback and ebook editions by Dream of Things. It tells the steps that Madeline took in living with the loss of her oldest son; first and foremost that she chose to live and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother and writer. She hopes that her story will inspire others to find ways to survive their own tragic experiences.
Madeline also co-authored, Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take On Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994). She co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 and 2; and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess, and, Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Madeline's poems have also appeared online and in print magazines.
Madeline's articles appear regularly in Naturally Savvy, PsychAlive, Aging Bodies, and Open to Hope. She posts at her blogs, Choices, and at Red Room. Currently, she is writing a novel.
Madeline's mission since the death of her son is to raise awareness, educate and erase the stigma of mental illness and suicide in the hopes of saving lives.

Madeline and her husband of forty years lives in Manhatten Beach, California, a small beach community south of Los Angeles. Her younger son, Ben, lives in Santa Monica, California with his wife, Marissa.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I've been nominated for The Liebster Award by Maria Savva. (Click her hame in order to read Maria's fascinating post)

Here are the rules:

1. When you receive the award nomination, post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
2. Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (while making sure you notify the blogger that they have been nominated!)
3. Write up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees.
4. Of course, do not nominate the blog of the one who nominated your blog!
5. Paste the award picture onto your blog. (You can Google the image; there are plenty of them!)

Here goes! 11 random things to know about me:

1. When a baby, I fell out of the car and rolled downhill a bit. That explains a lot!
2. I am ambidextrous, in a way...write with left hand; play sports with right.
3. I was our local swim coach for two college-time summers.
4. During a freak snowstorm in Washington, D.C., the traffic snarled; it took me 7 hours to walk from work to home. I was wearing clogs.
5. On a 3 month sabbatical out West to 'find myself,' I forgot to take a compass reading & got lost in Canyonlands National Park, Utah's most remote Park.
6. In the mountains outside of Santa Fe, NM, I went skinny dipping in a remote hot springs. I was not alone!
7. Some years ago, a psychic told me that writing was something that I could do well, if I got out of my own way.
8. My hair used to be long, below my shoulder blades; I cut my own now...short!
9. The bottom tendon of the middle toe of my right foot got cut when I was 16, running along the banks of the Suwannee River. It still 'shoots its own bird.'
10. In Washington, D.C., driving home late one night, a dude jumped spread-eagled into the road sans clothes. I'd have hit him if he hadn't jumped out of the way in time.
11. I am rarely without a book, wherever I go; nor without my 4G phone.

Here are the answers to the questions asked of me by Maria:

1. My earliest memory: Riding a tricycle on the sidewalk-such freedom!

2. Favorite food: Asian flatbread with chicken & wild salad greens, spicy peanut sauce.

3. Country I want to visit: The U.K. My dad served there in WWII. He died when I was 3; I was named after the daughter of a British family that befriended him.

4. Song that makes me cry: Bette Midler's The Wind Beneath My Wings; Basia's The Gift

5. Favorite color: Blue of the sky; various shades in the ocean, lakes and seas.

6. Know a foreign language: No, though I do love accents and I enjoy making up my own words, like 'ed-u-ma-cate.'

7. What famous person would I interview on my blog? Pema Chodron. Not so famous to many yet her story is 'everywoman' in a way. How she recovered from emotional devastation intrigues me; she's so down to earth..humorous..a great mentor.

8. What do I want to do before I die? There are a few cyber friends that I'd like to have coffee or tea with; chat face to face.

9. Breakfast: A USANA protein shake..chocolate! Eggs & sausage for dinner!

10. Twitter or Facebook? Both! Tw is easier & faster; FB more fun to share pics.

11. Favorite type music: Gotta' have diversity-jazz, classical, pop, alternative, new age.

Because I am a curious person, I wanted to learn more about a few people whose blogs I enjoy:
Arleen Alleman, Nikki Barnabee, Gerri Bowen, Joan P. Lane, Sonia Marsh, Flick Merauld, Micki Peluso, Diane Rapp, Jan Romes, JT Therrien, and Ben Woodard.

I do hope that your busy schedules can allow time for your acceptance of this award!

Here are your questions:

1. What is the first book that you can remember reading?
2. Did you ever have a nickname?
3. What is the most favorite thing that you did when a kid?
4. What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?
5. Do you have an unusual or interesting habit?
6. If you could have a chat with someone you do not know, who would this be?
7. Describe your ideal bookcase.
8. What is your favorite spot in which to read?
9. What is the most interesting vacation you've ever had?
10. Do you have a bucket list? Share one with us.
11. Complete the sentence: 'I wish______________________________.'

Monday, November 19, 2012


In gratitude for the many gifts that I received during my mother-sitting experience, Adventures in Mother-Sitting is FREE for ebook/kindle download until Thursday, Nov. 22. For the U.S.A., click here. For the U. K., click here.

                                           THE THANKSGIVING DREAM

   The sun was out, warming up my bones. It had been a chilly Florida night and, for the past two days, there had been little sun. After going to our YMCA and plunging into the warmer-than-expected water to swim my laps, I had returned home and decided to have lunch out on the dock. My dessert was one that was calorie-free; a new chapter from Julia Hughes, my British friend; her work in progress, an exciting YA story involving a young teen's encounter with a griffin and The Rider. My delight in this chapter exploded into laughter, scaring off a few wood ducks that had been lazily swimming nearby.
   Highlighting my favorite lines was certainly more fun than finding any scene segments that seemed out of place, a rarity in Julia's creative works. After typing out a short email and sending it into cyberspace to make its way across the sea to Julia, I sat back to soak up the sun's rays, enjoying a bit more of an infusion of Vitamin D. Andy the gator was soaking up rays on my neighbor's dock and a large big blue heron was flying down the canal towards me; he veered away when he saw that my dock was occupied. Another chuckle escaped and then I closed my eyes to rest a bit. My breathing deepened and I drifted into sleep.
   I was in another world though not as 'me.' As far as the eye could see, this was a world of trees, with their branches intertwining, flowing into and around each other. Gibbon-like creatures were collecting nuts and fruit, chattering excitedly as they swung from tree to tree. Iridescent winged creatures of all shapes, sizes and colors were dipping into and out of a beautiful array of flowering orchids and bromeliads that were attached to many of the trees. Many species of small, colorful birds were collecting delicate-looking mosses that grew in the crooks of the larger trees' trunks, and adding cacophonous chirping sounds to the festivity. There were ants of all sizes and other strange looking insects scurrying up and down tree trunks, managing to carry all manner of flora found on the ground below.
   Standing on one of the taller limbs and observing all of the activity, I was startled by a deeply musical voice, reminiscent of the hooting sounds made by the owls that visited me each night. "'Tis the Feast of Life wherein all creatures give thanks to The Creator for the symbiotic relationships that they share with each other. You are our guest and, because it is known that you enjoy the diversity found in all life, your spirit has transformed itself into a chameleon. Welcome to our feast!" With this said, a grand old owl drifted down below onto a platform of sorts, smaller branches and large palm-like fronds woven into a table-like tapestry.
      Gazing into a small puddle formed by raindrops onto a nearby nest of leaves, I marveled at the rainbow of colors that were glowing and shifting on this borrowed body. Chuckling in wonder, I began to make my way down to the platform by crossing over to the next tree and carefully scrambling down the trunk alongside the stream of insects, a usual source of food for a chameleon. It was amazing to me, this curious blend of animals and insects that so often were competitors for foodstuffs and for some, common enemies. The old owl spoke, "Today we come together to celebrate life. All of our differences, our competitive natures have been laid aside. Join with me in celebrating the diversity that some see as divisive; yet we celebrate the joy of living that all of us share until our individual time of living is done." Instead of pushing and shoving to get the choicest morsels first, each creature seemed to simply find their place. It was the great owl that gestured for me to come near. "Celebrate your life each day. Be like the chameleon in that you can flow more easily back into your spirit's center whenever the winds of change seem to blow you off course. For you, there is still life to be lived."
   It was the slight chill in the air that woke me up, as the sun disappeared behind the clouds. I kept my eyes closed, wanting to stay in the comfort of this world of trees and to hold fast to the words spoken by the great owl. As the sun came out from behind the clouds and warmth returned, my comfort began to be infused with a sense of excitement. Gathering up my laptop and the remains of my red tea chai, I went back into my home, greeted my sleeping cats and sat down to write a story.