From the Beginning of “The Healing”

If you were born between 1945 and 1964, listen up!! There is a new literary genre out there just for you! It’s called “Boomer Lit,” and I recently joined a group on Goodreads for authors who have written books that would be of particular interest to the baby boomer generation. This group has put together a blog-hop called Boomer Lit Friday, and we are sharing excerpts to offer examples of this new genre. Check it out at http://boomerlitfriday.blogspot.com/

Here is my offering for this week–an excerpt from the very beginning of my novel The Healing…

Karen Donnelly stood on the grassy overlook and gazed out at Long Island’s Southold Bay. The beach at Founders’ Landing had always been a special place for her, but lately it gave her no comfort. While the gentle surf lapped at the shore below, anxiety pulsed through her—a tide with a force all its own. The roaring in her head drowned out the summer breeze rustling through the nearby trees. She was in a constant state of tension, and no curative setting, not even the place where her best memories were born, could bring her peace of mind.

She closed her eyes and took a deep, shaky breath. If she tried hard enough, she could slip into that other lifetime and ward off the melancholy that threatened to overwhelm her. It should have been easy to pretend it was thirty years ago. The same dense maple trees shaded the familiar spot where she stood. The same picnic tables still offered cool respite from the heat of the sun. The air smelled like it always had. But when Karen opened her eyes, she was still standing in her altered world. She looked around like a child lost in her own backyard. There was no sound of splashing water or laughing children rising from the beach like music from an old transistor radio. The picnic tables, once hidden amid the chaos of vacationing families and randomly parked station wagons, now sat like weathered sculptures on an abandoned landscape. There were no children playing, no dads barbecuing, no moms chatting over iced tea. It wasn’t peaceful or heartwarming. It was just sad.

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Simplify…Are You Kidding Me?

Every New Year’s Day, it’s among my many resolutions. Every season of spiritual renewal I vow to make it my new way of life. Intellectually, I grasp the value of unfettering myself from so many material pursuits. Aesthetically, I recognize when the space around me is balanced—a tended garden or the living room of a friend who knows her feng shui. Lately it is the one goal I find most attractive and…alas…most unattainable.

To simplify my life.

I would believe the whole concept to be a myth if I didn’t actually know people who live in the paradise of simplicity. In my novel, “The Healing,” the character named Grace is such a person, and I created her in the likeness of a dear friend. Yes, people like this actually exist. They are detached from their worldly possessions. Their minds appear to be unclouded. Their lives are in order because their priorities are in order. And they take each day as it comes without dwelling on the past or getting anxious about the future. This is what I envy most—the ability to live in the moment.

Even though I’m not one to make lists, I have this notion that I am unable to relax until I accomplish what I set out to accomplish. “I’ll go for that nice walk, but let me finish this first.” Or, “I’ll sit down to read after I’ve done the bills and cleared off the desk.” That list of mine might not be written down on paper, but it’s branded on my brain. It gets longer as I get older and life gets more complicated. At this rate, I’d have to live three more centuries before I could disentangle myself from my own expectations.

So instead of fantasizing about the end result—A Life of Simplicity for Fran Pergamo—I’ve come up with three rules that I will attempt to impose upon myself:

• Prioritize

Spiritual well-being has to come first. Not only does it set a person on the right path, but it is the source of inner peace and purpose. Human connection is second—family, friends and those with whom we come into contact each day. Everything else is optional, flexible, or downright dispensable. I believe this wholeheartedly. Can I live my life accordingly? I’m working on it.

• Avoid Being Overly Sentimental

This is so hard for me. I have been sentimental about people, places and the objects connected to them ever since I was a toddler. Hubby Jim and I are both the babies in the family, and it’s evident in our attachment to “things” that belonged to parents, “things” we’ve given each other, “things” that remind us of a person or an event we wish to somehow immortalize. Unfortunately, our younger son is the same way, so we preserve everything knowing he’d be willing to keep it all. Now I’m starting to think, why would I do that to him?

We have what matters in our hearts. Yes, keep one or two things. Keep the pictures. Write down the history. But every tool, every kitchen gadget? Even as I write this, I realize it’s like some form of idolatry. Will I be giving away all that stuff? We’ll see.

• Do One Thing At A Time (And Finish It)

I often spin in circles when I have a full day at home. Today I am writing this blog post, and I probably allowed myself to get distracted more than twenty times. I would’ve been done hours ago if I didn’t jump up to “get something else started” every time I had a random thought. This is a matter of discipline, and if this is the path I chose, I can’t keep detouring. I can make excuses about the artistic mind or say that I NEED the distraction, but then I can’t complain when I find myself juggling a dozen unfinished projects and commitments in a day.

So here I am writing instead of cleaning out my closets. Here I am writing instead of visiting an elderly loved one. But I will finish this article and post it today.

I vow to simplify my life…tomorrow.

Are you in?

Welcome to My Blog!

I wrote a story about the importance of the human connection. Call me a dreamer, or better yet, call me old-fashioned, but I believe that love really does conquer all. Not the love of fleeting passions or fickle affections. True love is sacrificial. It sticks around for the “worst” in “for better or for worse.” It focuses more on “other” and less on “self.” Are you blessed enough to know someone who is capable of this kind of love? I am. I know a few of them. And I wanted to tell a story with these kinds of characters because they stoke the heart and ring true to everyone. If I was asked to define a mission for my book, it would be to rekindle what is at the core of human relationships and get back to the basics in life. In the last decade or so, it seems we are more connected to machines and selfish material pursuits than we are to each other. We launch our every thought into cyberspace thinking the whole world is waiting to know our opinion. We play games on the Internet without the laughter and personal interaction. We seek pleasure in simulated worlds. Meanwhile, the people we live with are sitting a few feet away. A lonely neighbor might be right across the street. Maybe the only thing that would make their day worthwhile is a bit of conversation or a shared cup of coffee. Instead, we are more interested in Hollywood celebrities than the real people around us. It makes for a pretty dysfunctional society. One last thought: We take too much for granted. Especially when it comes to the people we love. Every once in a while, tragedies like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina make us pause and take inventory of the things that should be most important to us, but unless we are directly affected, we don’t make an effort to change. Why is that? Why don’t we ever learn? I don’t think it’s morbid to imagine being stripped of your blessings. I think it’s a necessary exercise in appreciation. What would you miss most?