1. Fran Stekoll says

    I really love my life. I feel I’ve come full circle. As an only child, I grew up with Adults. Mom had a nursery school in Rochester, N.Y. which provided me with
    many siblings to satisfy the feelings of loneliness. Mom was told when I was in
    Kindergarten that I was a leader and whatever I attempted in life, I would succeed in. I’ve loved, been loved, shared love and having all that love has afforded me the blessing to now love myself totally. Having a near death experience gave me the opportunity to live life each day as if it were my last. I love being a peer counselor with Senior Outreach. Just yesterday I was told that I bring love to someone who felt unloved until she met me.
    I exude love to everyone in my world; but most of all I love my GOD.

    • Debbie says

      I am struck how you mention a near death experience and how much it impacted the rest of your life. Death can crack us open to life in ways never anticipated that can be so enriching. Thanks for sharing what you love with us.

  2. Barbara Keller says

    Barbara Keller, Baja

    I love type font. When I discovered them at age 10, I bought stencils and made signs and prized them. In nursing school – which I tolerated, I did work study in the computer labs and fell in love with ms publisher. Anybody who wanted a flyer could ask and I would get right on it. I thought they were great. I didn’t care what anybody else thought.

    Now I have a small, English language newspaper in Baja. My happiest days of the month are when I’m engaged in the layout. I do the editing, and I enjoy it. I sell ads. I recruit writers and advertisers. But what I love is doing the layout of the whole paper for printing. Choosing the type fonts, fitting it all together just so. I have some internal guidelines – good spacing, clean, easy to read, pretty to look at, color coordinated. I don’t think about it, I just know. The joy is in having the standard and getting it right.

    Because it’s a tiny market, I think one could really call it a niche market, (Americans living in northern Baja), and I’m the only editor of the three local papers who writes well – and I don’t mean is a good writer, I mean can write decently in English, my paper is doing all right.

    I’m about to print the 7th issue, started in January, and it’s holding it’s own, almost pays for itself, for printing and distribution. I’m proud and surprised. I have not had a lot of success in my life. And it’s so much fun. I’ve been thinking how I could bring in enough income to do two issues a month.

    Also, I love Baja. Since a child, about age 10, when it was just small cows on dusty hills and very poor people, I loved it. I just knew the expectations and driving forces were different here, that what I wanted so much and never found in Pacific Palisades might be found here. I was right.

    What could possibly be better? Type fonts in Baja.

    • says

      Hi Barbara. I have experienced the power of how font can emphasize or undermine the message of an author. How wonderful to create the message, the font and the words with intention. Welcome to the blog!

    • Debbie says

      Barbara – I enjoyed your post. I secretly agonize over just the right typeface even with just the writing or communications I must do within my professional role. I can’t imagine the fun you must have finding just the right one!

    • Ilana says

      Barbara- I agree with you and the others that type font is so very useful, beautiful and fun to work with. I have my favorites and love to play around with using them to make my point clear. Much like the ancient musical notes I study in the Torah, the Jewish bible, (called tropes), it underlines the importance of specific words.

      However, this was not what I enjoyed most about your piece. I loved (wish I could italicize that) how you pointed out the joy in something so simple that most of us take for granted. You kind of reminded me to step back and appreciate all the little things that make work easier and life itself more enjoyable. Looking forward to your future posts. IM

  3. Frances Lesenski Talamantes says

    I love my family most of all. They are most important to me. I had a rough child hood, I never felt really loved. The exception is my family on my mother’s side (my mom died when I was 18 months old.
    I do know that my parents loved me but they had their own problems and were not able to love me the way I wanted. It is not my imagination for relatives saw it and I heard the comments. My parents were “into” my adopted brother and my step moms only child.
    I am not unhappy about what happened, it just is what is. I know that all of this in my life made me really cling to my family. So, they are the best things in my life. I wanted to be close and loving to them because I did not have that growing up.
    With out my family I would have a very hard time with life. I have good friends but my family is ALL.

    • Beverly Boyd says

      I remember you described that Tribe with a capital T on the prompt a couple of weeks ago. How fortunate you were to have so many loving people around you and to still be connecting with them.

      My birth family is scattered all over the country and they are so important to me. Even though I seldom see them, after the things we have been through together, they are my best friends.

    • Debbie says

      Thank you for sharing this post with us. I am struck by how you care for your family and allow them the “humanness” of doing the best they can with your line “I do know that my parents loved me but they had their own problems and were not able to love me the way I wanted.”

  4. Ilana says

    “What I Truly Love, Not What I Should Love.”

    How liberating it is to be specifically told not to talk about what I should love. Yet I feel those things deserve a brief shout out before I begin. I do love them. I love my children, more than myself. I love my husband. I love my home. I love the safety of having enough money to feed, clothe, house and educate my children. I love my inner strength that makes it possible to do all of these things even when my heart is aching and I do not want it to go on for one more day. I love all of these things but they are exhausting. They are demanding, relentless. And sometimes they are hard to appreciate. Before I go back underwater to do what I need to do for the people I love, I’m going accept your invitation. I’m going to breathe in the sweet aroma of the things I love without owing them that love.

    I love music. I’m always signing; to my kids, when I’m alone and often around others who politely, or impolitely, ask me to stop. I love all kinds of music; pop, ‘80s, ‘90s, musicals, classic rock, country, classical music, klezmer, and so much more. But I’d like to tell you about one work in particular. For 20 years the music of Tim Rice’s CHESS has been there for me. I would turn on the disk and the anger of his characters, the passion of their words, the crashing of the drum beats thrilled me. Even the quieter, slower songs, the gentle swaying of the harp and the flute, the lowered mournful voices, washed over me. With each calming wave or crash of fury some of my own pain was soothed away. Each time I shouted along with Florence that, “I’ve taken shit for seven years and I won’t take it anymore!” Some of my own hurt and anger came out. Each time I lamented along with her that “Maybe it’s best to love a stranger, well that’s what I’ve done. Heaven help my heart.” My own heart ache eased a little.

    I could go on about all that Tim Rice (lyricist), Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (composers) have given me. This year I discovered two more of the dozen different variations they have written. Although the characters and the story have changed some, the beauty and passion is just as powerful. It speaks to me, sooths me. When my world is falling apart I can still count on Florence to be furious with Freddie or Anatoly. I can still count on the drum beats to shock my heart and stir my soul. I’d like to go on for several paragraphs and introduce you to all the others; Svetlana, the Arbiter, Walter and Molokov. I love them all. It’s not just entertainment. It’s nourishment, it’s hope. It’s a poultice on my wounds, a salve on my burns. It can heal my broken heart. I don’t know where I would be without music. It fills me up when I am empty. It washes over me like a warm shower when I come in from the cold. And when I am lying on the floor, shattered into a million pieces it helps me put myself back together.

    I love to write. When I open my laptop I feel like an artist who has been given the biggest canvass in the world and an endless variety of paints. I throw my colors across the sky and watch to see where they fall. If I don’t like something I can pull it down. If I do like something I can tweak it, shift it, until I like it even more. Then the music starts. Crashing symbols, gentle willowy flutes and violins even soft voices seem to emanate from the colors. It all flows together in just the right way. Because if it doesn’t I can change it. If what I am writing is a work of fiction, what you’ve just seen described is the setting, the characters, the picture of what is happening. Finally, the story begins. The colors move and carry me through their journey. Emotions, discoveries, actions and reactions blossom from each character as they dance together in the beautiful scene I’m creating. They welcome me in and I dance, wrapped in their arms.

    Love. There is so much love in my writing. If I am hurting John will wrap his arms around me and hold me while I cry. If I am angry he will listen to me scream, scream with me if that’s what I need. If I am scared he will rub my back and tell me it will be okay. If I’m beating myself up, I need only to show him, his wife Lily, or their friend Jack, just how ugly I think I am and they will all shout their objections and point out the beauty I am unable to see. If I don’t want to be a part of it I am welcome to sit on the side lines and watch them love each other. Is it okay to feel loved by a fictional character or does that make me crazy? I’ve given this a lot of thought and I finally decided that it doesn’t mean I’m crazy. I have just found a way to access a part of me that is ignorant of my self-hatred. This beautiful, innocent part of me uses John’s voice, Lily’s voice, Jack’s voice, to teach me how to love myself. And it feels absolutely amazing. When I am writing, I am free. When I am writing I am me; no judging, no lying, no hiding, no shame; just acceptance, love and peace.

    I love to give of myself. This is a different kind of giving than what I give to my children, my husband and my friends. Those are the people who have the right to demand. This is the giving that cannot be demanded; that is given on my terms, 100% because I want to give it. There are no expectations, no judgment of the gift, no demands for more. These are the gifts that I give to complete strangers, people who will never know me, just remember that someone cared. And I get to feel the ecstasy of being that someone who cared. I am speaking, of course, of the blankets I collect for the homeless shelters every year, my hair that I send to “Locks of Love” every two and a half years and my blood (platelets) that I donate every two weeks. Someone is kept warm, someone gets a wig and someone’s life is saved. And no one needs to know that it’s because of me. I, alone, know that because of me, someone else’s life was made better. Someone’s world was a better place for my having been in it and they don’t even know who I am.

    These are the things I truly love, because I want to love them, not because I should.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Ilana, this story is so rich. For me, it’s like having tiny diamonds fall from the sky. Thought-provoking. Inspiring. Raw and beautiful. For the record, you have improved my life too. Wish I could hug you. Be one of those people who care for you through the awful times. Laugh with you when things are silly, happy, infused with music, stories, and characters we adore.

      • Ilana says

        Terry- Thank you for your kind words. You have done all those things for me already. I also liked the way you stated it, “tiny diamonds falling from the sky.” That is how I feel about the music that is so powerful to me. I actually saw the diamonds as I was listening to (and with my children, singing at the top of our lungs.) “The Deal” from CHESS. A dear friend of mine told me she had never seen “Phantom of The Opera” in the theater. I said, “Seeing ‘Phantom’ in the theater is like sitting in the middle of a snow globe and watching the glitter float all around you. It is thrilling to be that affected by the music. Thank you for comparing my writing to that. IM

        PS. I once had a friend who described one of my favorite authors by sticking her finger in her mouth and making gagging sounds. I’m sure that’s how she’d respond to my writing as well. I am glad I have safe people to share my writing with now.

    • Debbie says

      Ilana – I really identified with your descriptions of how music impacts you. It is amazing, isn’t it, what a melody can do? And when you describe how writing makes you feel – awesome. Thanks for sharing these inner levels of what you love with the blog.

  5. Debbie says

    “Tell me what you miss most.” This was the request posed by the therapist working with me to sort through the tangled threads of history, guilt, remorse, sadness and fear as I struggled to come to grips with all of the recent and looming life changes. “What do I miss most?”, I repeated the question back, stalling, cursing the blankness in my heart as I struggled to answer. Should I respond within socially acceptable standards or try to step toward authenticity?

    With blinding speed exceeding any internet connection, my mind raced through all of the faces in my life. Registering only a meager few humans, the search continued as I ransacked memory for animal companions, events, experiences, places and dreams that I missed. I became aware of the passing moments. The question still hanging, unanswered, in the space between us.

    As the results of this impromptu life review began to trickle into my consciousness, I opened my mouth to speak when suddenly my throat constricted, tears welled up in my eyes and I remained mute. Giving myself permission to “miss” important aspects of my life, by default, also gave birth to an awareness of the feelings long stuffed under the stoic mantle of “Not now. I’ll think about this later.” That which I missed was also that which I loved. Some of which I could still access, and some gone forever. My heart beat a pulsing rhythm in my temple.

    People are the most complicated for me. The definitions of love which have permeated my life have never been clear, unconditional or, even sometimes, healthy. I am still not quite sure I really understand how to recognize deep love and intimacy. That being said, there continues to be a ache in my soul for the lost companionship of my deceased father. Also, for the loss of the fantasy of what my long-term relationship was or could be. The reality of what we had was not that which I thought it to be. Yet both with my father, and my long-term partner, the balance of good to bad, pleasure to pain was the best I have experienced. I miss them because they cared about me in a real and authentic way which I value/valued deeply. And I am able to say with conviction that I love them both.

    It is easier with my four-legged companions. My beautiful border collie mix has kept me grounded in the practical necessities of everyday life as the rest of my life has shifted and changed. Her clear delight in my company, how she settles in against my leg as we sit to watch the sunset and her steadfastness feeds my soul and keeps my heart awake.

    As tears subsided, breath returned to normalcy and gradually I found my voice, I was able to share the list of the living that I was sure I loved; two humans and one dog. Not too impressive, my inner critic hissed. Now came the hard part, did I dare to share the inner secret love? That which I missed to the point of physical craving after too much time?

    “There is something else”, I started hesitantly. Once again silence engulfed us as my jaw worked feverishly back and forth to form the words. “Places of physical beauty…. I need to find and be in them. I, they, cause a reaction in me. When I am cut off from natural beauty, I miss it. You might say I actually crave it.” Afraid to stop now, not wanting to look up and catch a glance that would shut down this long held secret, my story poured forth in a jumbled stream of words.

    I described how the rolling cascade of blue ridge after blue ridge stretching to the horizon in the depths of the Appalachians felt like a welcoming family, how within the stony face of a granite ridge I recognized a familiar countenance, how the subtle vibrations in the bluff caused by the thunderous waves of the Pacific sent shivers of delight up my spine, how the precious sight of a hummingbird paused mid-flight always brought me joy, how the interplay of shadow and light in the golden hours just before sunset comforted me like a warm quilt.

    What my words then, and now, were trying to convey is that I have a physical reaction to places and experiences of natural beauty. I FEEL it in my body. The touch of wind on my skin is like the familiar caress of a lover’s fingers. My heart speeds up, my breath changes and I experience that which surrounds me with all of my senses. I love places of beauty. I think I love them the way some people love their families or friends. In fact, I think of some of these very special places as my family and friends. This is my secret. That which I really love but of which I never speak – not to humans anyway.

    I go to the ocean bluff, mountaintop or quiet redwood glen and let the words of love flow; sometimes a whisper, sometimes a shout. The answers are often gentle but occasionally filled with a raging power that matches my own. My four-legged companion settles in against my body. We sense and share what words will never adequately capture. I love and am loved in return.

    • Ilana says

      Debbie- How beautiful. I’m so glad you shared your secret with us. The way you equate the affect natural beauty has you to “The way some people love their family” made me think of a piece I wrote in 1993 called “MotherEarth”. I also loved the “stoic mantle of ‘not now. I’ll think about it later.'” I SO connected with that. Thank you for sharing your love of nature. You are not alone. Neither are you alone in your second guessing your right to feel this way. But I think you already knew that. Be well, my friend. I look forward to your future posts. Thank you for what they add to my life. IM

    • Bobbie Anne says

      Debbie, Thanks for sharing how you love physical places in nature. I love parks with trees. The trees are strong and seem to know me.

  6. Lee Senior says

    A little late, but better than never.

    I really love animals. I love them better than people. They love you
    unquestioningly and always do their best to please.
    Although my basic connection is with domesticated animals, I also love
    wolves and have an adopted one. As part of the adoption I have a stuffed
    animal, representing my wolf. I don’t know his name, which is just as
    well, since if anything happens to him I will not know it. Domestic
    animals, ie:dogs and cats are of course the norm. When I was small we
    had cats and that was all right, but at some point I became allergic. However, I still pet them, and when my daughter was small and brought
    them home, we kept them. I took them on my lap, put them on my shoulder
    and loved them. Then I would sneeze and take my allergy medicine.
    One day, one of the cats came in with a hole in her neck. He had
    obviously been in a fight with a dog. I spent the night with him on the
    living room floor, filling the hole with neoseporine and hugging him until
    the next morning when we could go to the vets. I also have always had
    dogs and still do. The latest one is a rescue dog, who had serious problems
    when I got him. Expensive vet bills, but worth it. He is a wonderful dog
    and, skin and bones when adopted, now is a solid 121 pounds. He
    is loving, gentle, loves everyone and other dogs, but has a mind of his
    own. However, he is well-trained and obedient. He just lets you know
    where he stands. We often have conversations.
    Over the years with two children who also brought home pets, we have
    had rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, rats, and snakes. I have frequently
    thought about having other pets, There is the cutest miniature donkey
    in the newspaper, but I realize this would be too much. I don’t like chickens!

    • says

      Welcome! So glad you decided to share what you really love. Late is definitely better than not at all. It seems your love of animals is shared by others in this community as well

    • Ilana says

      Welcome, Lee- What a wonderful piece this was. I am no longer an animal person but I remember long conversations I had with my miniature Schnauzer. She would just look at me and I knew, somehow, that she understood, better than any person could. Also, loved the last line. “I don’t like chickens.” It was a great ending. Then, a picture of me, taken 26 years ago popped into my mind. I was a child, holding a chicken and looking at it like a human baby. The juxtaposition just made me smile. Thanks, needed that after the hellish day I’ve had 😉 IM

    • Ilana says

      Welcome, Lee- What a wonderful piece this was. I am no longer an animal person but I remember long conversations I had with my miniature Schnauzer. She would just look at me and I knew, somehow, that she understood, better than any person could. Also, loved the last line. “I don’t like chickens.” It was a great ending. Then, a picture of me, taken 26 years ago popped into my mind. I was a child, holding a chicken and looking at it like a human baby. The juxtaposition just made me smile. Thanks, needed that after the hellish day I’ve had 😉 IM

    • Bobbie Anne says

      Thank you Lee for sharing that you love animals better than people. Me too. I love my three cats and the neighbor’s dog and I talk to them. I I also have ‘adopted’ animals, even a humpback whale named ‘Istar’. She may have passed on, as I haven’t had any new updates about her. Today, there were two ducks, bluejays, cardinals and squirrels in my backyard. How lucky can you get?

  7. Bobbie Anne says

    Nothing beats writing and receiving letters in the mail! My great Aunt Josie, who was also my God other, wrote letters to me. So did my Grandmother. I answered them both and kept their letters. I write letters to friends I’ve had since fourth and ninth grade. I taught my niece how to read and asked her to send me a letter. She sent me the letter ‘E’. Some years went by. I wrote to another niece. She is ten. I sent her letters, cards and books. My sister answered for her in an e-mail. She said her daughter wanted to write, but doesn’t follow-up on things. I will write her a letter again. Maybe this time she will send me the gift of a letter. I’ll keep you posted.

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