For those who are writers, this is essential reading. For those who are Stephen King fans, this gives you a glimpse into the stories that became legendary. I read this book cover to cover and absorbed all of the knowledge King dished out on how to be a better writer. He helped me improve upon the mistakes I make often, in order to write better. King was a school teacher before he became a best-selling novelist, so he is a stickler about language. One thing I learned is that you’re not doing this right if you are not scared to death along the journey of writing your novel. More importantly, the only way to conquer that fear is to do it. Just keep on writing. Read as many books as you can. Read great writers, so you can pick up on their style and language. This is all part of learning how to become a great writer. You learn from the masters. King is one of those masters. If you are a writer or aspire to be a writer, this is one of the most important books you need to read.
Happy New Year! Now that 2016 is behind us, right now is a good time to reflect on the things we would like to change about ourselves and put our resolutions into motion to create a lasting change in our lives. We should focus on the things that bring the best out of us.
Learning How to Habit Stack
I read a book recently that I believe is essential in creating successful resolutions, especially those tricky ones everyone fails at every year (i.e. diet and exercise). That book is called Habit Stacking. S.J. Scott offers 97 different ideas on how you can stack habits you would like to make permanent.
He shows how easily things can be done by analyzing the actual ‘habit’ we are trying to instill, creating a specific (and short) time frame with which to complete that task. He even shares additional ideas on how to spearhead getting each job done.
[You can download this book as part of the Kindle Unlimited program for free. Details are in the banner below.]
The way each habit is broken down, you can see how easy it is to apply those principles to your own life. For me, I saw how I could break down a blog post so that I would be willing to write more. The book gave me ideas on how to manage my time throughout the day to be more productive and to reward myself (check emails, play Candy Crush Soda, check social media, etc.) after completing each job. In other words, the book teaches you how to focus on getting the task at hand done by offering a reward after the task’s completion.
In this day and age, we are always distracted by so many things around us. It is difficult to concentrate on getting things done. Scott helps you see how you can create positive habits in your life by showing you how he does things.
One habit I thought was spot on for those who put diet/exercise as their resolution is to do one thing at a time. Don’t start off big (like trying to run a mile in the first week when you haven’t worked out in 5 years). Start off small. Do one push-up. The next day, do two push-ups. Each day, add one more.
Run one block. Go back home. The next day, run a block and a half or two blocks. Or if that progression is too much for you, do one block a week, adding another block each sequential week.
The whole purpose of starting off small is to create a lasting habit. It is easier to give up in the beginning because it seems too difficult when we are trying to make up for lost time on the treadmill after going through the great exercise famine. If you start off small and see how easy it is, you are more likely to create a lasting habit each day/week. You’ll feel more motivated to do more and maybe add an extra 5 push-ups at the end of your workout.
The whole purpose of breaking down each resolution to its bare minimum is so you can see just how easy the task is to complete. The easier the task looks, the more likely you are willing to create a lasting habit to make your resolutions a success.
I highly recommend reading the book. It will give you many ideas on how you can break down each of your resolutions so you can accomplish each and every single one.
I probably make this resolution every year for the site, but I definitely need to write more. I had to sit back and try to figure out what I really want this site to be about. I had to think of my niche audience. Truth of the matter is my niche audience is the film industry and lovers of books, especially those looking for book club questions.
I plan on expanding on that more with more interviews from filmmakers and authors. I will be sharing my 52+ books journey for 2017. So far, I’m on book #2. I will couple the journey with book reviews, book club questions (since that seems to be a popular search item on this site), and author interviews (if possible).
I’ll be sharing more tips that I uncover (like saving money, all natural beauty remedies, etc.) and ways to make your life easier. There will be recipes, travel and fashion posts. I’ll even share my own resolution journey.
This year, my main resolution is to complete my novel. It is time to put all of the finishing touches to it. As of now, it is a 3-book series.
I meet with publishers in May and June, but on a different manner (which basically determines all of the “IT” books for 2017-18). I’ve established good relationships with a few major publishing houses, so we’ll see how things go and which route I will take.
Over the course of this year, I will be launching a few campaigns. I’ll leave that as a surprise.
All in all, I have a lot of plans for PW, as well as for my writing career. I’m thankful I read Scott’s book last month. He’s helped me figure out how to get everything I want to do done from here on out.
Give the book a read, I think it will definitely help everyone re-define how they can accomplish their own goals. Dreams are always difficult to accomplish, especially if it seems too hard.
Break down each of your goals so that you can figure out all of the different tasks you need to complete. After you’ve broken them down, work on each task in order. You’ll find that it may be hard at first, but if you keep at it, finish each task, reward yourself, then start on the next task…pretty soon you’ll find you have reached your goal.
Disclosure: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work.
Over this past week, I’ve been pondering what I would like to do with this site. My friends assisted me with the items they would like to see, as well as identifying the items they already liked about the site.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret…keeping up appearances for this site is very time consuming. I plan on changing that. My personal goal is to start posting on a daily basis. That means planning what will go up on this site well in advance.
Planning leads to doing. I started creating the content, cooking up recipes, taking the photographs, writing the posts and then began to feel overwhelmed.
As I was slicing up the pumpkins for the October recipes, I started to feel that pang in my gut. It was that pain of feeling stressed and overwhelmed as I was trying to do something right for myself. It’s that irony of the site’s name…wanting to be perfect.
I stopped what I was doing and re-evaluated why I was doing this. What was my current mindset? I realized I was stressing myself out and not enjoying the ride. If I didn’t change my mindset then I was going to end up with a bunch of crap meals. You see, I am of the belief that how you are feeling as you prepare your food is a direct correlation with how well your food will taste.
People who love to cook tend to make food taste incredible because you can taste their emotion in the food. I used to watch one chef create meals for me on a whim. I would watch him as he poured his love for food and cooking right into the meal. A simple fried egg tastes so different when such care is taken than one created with no emotion or feeling. It’s about passion and sharing that passion with someone else.
I didn’t want all of the food I was making to taste horrible, so I changed my mindset and focused on why I love to cook. As a result, everything turned out so well, my friend was surprised at how flavorful everything tasted.
Changing my mindset was all about reminding myself what I am passionate about and why.
I met with filmmaker Edwin Walker today for lunch. He is in town from LA filming a new movie. We met last year (see link to our story). There was something about the timing when we met last year. He mentioned to me that when we met, it was like a turning point in our lives. There was something about the direction our lives would take and the people we would become after our first meeting.
We became so inspired by each other to live life fully and passionately. Since we met, I have been trying to find my passion in life again. I only find that my passion comes when I write and when I am being myself and not focusing on what other people want from me.
You see, we live in a world filled with mediocrity and false lives. We struggle every single day to be perfect in our Instagram photos, Twitter, and all forms of social media. Reality TV makes people believe that these stories we see are real lives, when it’s just an act. We become depressed when we don’t have over a thousand friends or followers. We feel like we are failing at life when people are not following us or reading our work or we’re not getting hundreds of thousands of hits on our sites or Youtube videos.
Life for most people has become about the get rich quick schemes, becoming viral, and making a ton of money in the process. It’s not about creating a passion project and putting your blood, sweat and tears into it. It’s about the instant gratification, not the eternal happiness.
We have to constantly think of how to falsely entertain people to make you think that our lives are super glamorous, even when, for many people, it is not. People become superstars for portraying a life on reality TV, even though there is nothing real about their lives on that TV show.
It is like a drug addiction. It’s about that instant high that makes you feel happy for a moment, instead of working on what will make you happy for life.
People don’t watch real artistic movies or qualitative television programming anymore. They’re flocking to the latest ‘explosive’ blockbuster where it’s very little script, and more action with everything blowing up every other minute. The shows that make you think are constantly being canceled.
Children don’t go home and watch cartoons for half an hour like I did when I was a kid. They watch four-minute Youtube videos for entertainment, because they can’t sit through a half hour cartoon anymore.
People complain about the ‘long form’ on blogs. They don’t want to read a long drawn out story. They want glamorous photos with very little text…maybe one paragraph of text and that’s it. They want to see people living these lives that are so far fetched. It’s like watching a fairy tale or a soap opera. They assume it’s real, when it is only a glamour.
It’s depressing isn’t it? It’s like comparing ourselves to the Joneses. We try to emulate these people on a daily basis, as if that is how we are supposed to act and live, even though what they are doing on that reality TV is an act. It’s not real. People assume it is real and follow suit, like this is how they are supposed to act, think, live and dress…no matter how outrageous it is.
We’re supposed to get plastic surgery to be pretty. If you’re ugly, that means you’re too poor to look perfect. As one friend said, it’s what separates the rich from the poor. That is the culture we live in.
People sweat it out and diet, not for themselves, but to look and be thin and accepted. I mean, Donald Trump talks about how horrible it is for women and girls to be fat or ugly. If you are overweight or gain weight, you are called nasty names and meant to feel less than what you are.
When you look at street style photos, they never ever photograph fashionable women that are not thin. I know because I’ve watched thin, beautiful women pulled out of line at fashion shows to be photographed for street style, while the fashionable curvy ladies are overlooked. I have yet to see a single curvy blogger be selected in the slideshows for street style photos, even if they do have more followers than that thin, pretty girl that was pulled out of line to be photographed.
It is as if to say that X is the only thing acceptable in society, which then creates the unhealthy narrative of what it means to be a human being. We see what is on the outside, the shell, and never what is on the inside that makes each and every single one of us great individuals.
The narrative in our society today is about the false perceptions of reality. It’s the quick fix drug that makes you feel something for a moment, to make you forget what is real in your life, instead of focusing on how you can make your life better.
People don’t want the stories that help them self-reflect, connect and learn something. They don’t go see movies that will inspire them to be better human beings. They don’t want to see movies that will fix what is wrong with them on the inside. They only want those things that will help them escape reality, instead of focusing on creating a better reality for themselves and the people around them.
People focus on how they need to be fit, thin, beautiful, well-dressed, rich and famous in order to be accepted in society. You have to have thousands of followers before anyone takes you seriously.
I know there are publishing houses that have said that they are not interested in talking to you unless they see you have over 1,000 followers on Twitter (and yes, they do check to see if your followers are real or if you bought a bunch of dead accounts). That puts you into the 5% of people that do. That’s the 5% they are willing to talk to and work with.
Back in the day, when I was working with bands, each record company said they were only interested in talking to bands that had a following already. The artist needed that following before they would even listen to their music. This, of course, was before blogs and social media were in the picture. It was a lot harder back then to create a following, because they didn’t have social media to help spread the word.
What I’m getting at is this…
I’m glad I started talking about re-branding with my friends. What they were asking of me was to be raw and real on this site. Even Edwin today stressed that being real is what made this site unique. I was sharing the stories of people that needed to be told. These are the people that are living their lives passionately. They are living their dreams.
Edwin wanted me to focus on my passions in life. For me, that is writing, books and movies. In my universe, all of those things are interconnected.
Last year, I discovered that my main followers and readers of this site were the entertainment and film industry. I was doing something they needed. I wasn’t putting out stories or reviews like everyone else. I was telling the narrative untouched by the big dogs of the entertainment industry. I was sharing the art and the passion…the reason why people got into acting, directing, filmmaking, writing, art, etc.
No one ever talks about that anymore.
I noticed recently that a film short that is turning into a feature film soon has been publishing their poster with a quote from me from this site. I didn’t even notice it until I started reading the film’s poster and was like, ‘Wait…that sounds like me…’ and then I saw my site’s name underneath it.
I kind of did a little leap for joy when I saw it, because that directs more people in the film industry to this site. This site, of course, is not about entertainment news. It is about living life passionately. In a way, the site’s name is about me being that perfectionist in the same way all artists strive for perfection in their art. They are just looking for people to understand that dynamic and passion that went into their art.
Unfortunately, the art is always 80% business, 20% art. I learned that a long time ago. I’ll be honest, it is that 80% I hate about writing, because that 80% is what stresses me out all of the time. It prevents me from being me and writing more.
I believe that is the real reason why I don’t post as often as I would like to do on this site, because it becomes more about business than it does about the art. I plan on changing that mindset.
The business side is going to need to be something I am passionate about so that I can create. I need to ask myself if what I am doing is a true reflection of who I am, because truthfully, I am not going to share anything that is not true to who I am. There is too little time in life to waste it sharing the things that have no meaning. I am not going to participate in the mediocrity that has consumed the lives of the world around us. This is about being raw and real about everything.
What I do not share on this site is in actuality the side of me my friends have asked that I start sharing. They want me to share my journey in life. It is the narrative I don’t share completely.
You may think, ‘oh, this is going to be a dull and drab journey,’ when in actuality, it is quite surreal. Like the irony of sharing the Russell Crowe binge on the site is that 15 years ago, would you believe he actually serenaded me in Chicago, Illinois?
Or that when I started the Russell Crowe binge, Paul Haggis (“Crash,” “The Next Three Days”) had stalked my Instagram account and liked a bunch of photos on it? I hadn’t even gotten to “The Next Three Days” yet, and here the director was on my Instagram liking a bunch of photos on it. How is that for irony?
Or how about meeting fashion designer Malan Breton and just being so enamored with our conversation that I looked at him like, if I could talk to you for the rest of my life, I would be one happy woman? He was the first person that ever looked at me and told me right off the bat what my ethnicity was. No one has ever been so spot on. I think what was even cooler was that he knew who I was before I even introduced myself.
This is the world my friends want me to talk about. One friend said that I had always told her these stories about the life I lived. She said that she never even imagined how real that world really was for me until she saw how famous people would walk right up to me and we would have these long, drawn out conversations that were so intriguing.
It amazed her even more when she realized these people knew who I was, even if we were just meeting for the first time. This is the world she wants me to share, because it is so surreal. She wants me to share the gowns I wore. Others want me to share the fashion I wear on a daily basis. They want me to talk about the events I go to, because not everyone has that kind of life. It’s a dream life.
It’s about that VIP status. It’s a status I’ve had since my days in Washington, DC, where I could hear other society women complaining that I had what they wanted…status.
When I first moved to NYC, my boss told me that he knew when I was hired that I was known in societal circles in DC. He told me that if I wanted to enter NYC society, he would help me, but he warned me that it was pretty mean.
I remember thanking him for offering to introduce me, but I would rather go at it alone, choosing who I would like to surround myself with, rather than trying to be accepted by a group of people that seeks to destroy the people around them. In NYC there are different forms of VIP. The number one thing you need is money and being constantly seen in those VIP circles. After a while, you stop paying for the VIP treatment, because it comes to you for free.
You get the invites. You stop running around trying to be accepted by the in crowd or pursuing people for interviews by going through their publisher or agent. After you’ve established yourself, they come to you. You don’t have to pursue anything in life anymore because you are ‘in.’
That is the world my friends want me to share, because not everyone is allowed into that VIP world. It’s not always about parties, getting into clubs, etc. It’s about being in a room with incredible people like yourself and learning something from them. It’s about experiencing life in a new way beyond just attending an event. It’s about learning how the event came into being (like a film), meeting the people involved with creating this art, and letting yourself become inspired by these people and inspiring them by sharing your own journey.
It’s about the human aspect beyond the celebrity. The celebrity part…that’s not real, you know that, right? Celebrity is a false illusion.
I remember there was this guy who told me years ago he was famous. I told him I didn’t believe him. He spent the next year trying to prove to me that he was. I still don’t believe that he is, but during that time, it created a friendship. I never saw the celebrity. I saw him. I saw his passion in life and I wanted him to pursue it at all cost, so I helped him wherever I could.
You see, that is the true essence of who I am and what this site is about. I am drawn to other people like me, the creative types and the people pursuing their dreams and living life passionately. Why? Because these are the people that inspire me to be the person I truly am inside.
We are always learning from each other and inspiring each other. It’s about sharing our journeys together and helping each other in our own ways. That is the life I’m talking about. There’s the glamour on the outside, but the true essence at the core is what is more important. This is the stuff that The PW is all about. It’s not about just the glitz and glamour of life. It’s about the things that make us self-reflect in order to be true to our very own being.
This is about finding the true reality that is life. What’s on the outside is always just the shell of a being. It is not the true essence of what a human being is. It’s the glamour. In other words, it is not real.
It is the drug that makes you feel something for a moment, but never truly changing who you are on the inside. It’s the drug that gives you temporary happiness, instead of focusing on healing what is inside of you and finding what true happiness is, your eternal contentment in life.
The Goal of This Site
In trying to develop content on a daily basis for this site, and remaining true to myself as a writer (i.e. to write the novel, as well), I will be incorporating a version of the KonMari practice in minimizing my life. I am setting out to learn how to make things simpler so that I can post daily.
I am going to attempt to accomplish this goal beginning today. Along the way, hopefully, I’ll discover new and easier ways to create content without feeling overwhelmed (don’t worry, I’ll share my discoveries, because I’m sure that can help many others out there looking to simplify life). It’s that overwhelmed feeling that keeps me from being passionate about this site. I seek to change that, because this is supposed to be my passion project. I just need to focus on what makes me so passionate about it.
For now, I’ll be testing the water in new ways. There will be movies, books, home, arts, fashion, This Is 40, and more on this site. It’s not about what I think people want to read. This is going to be about the passion in life.
[DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read may weird you out a little, because this is something different. The people that know me or are close to me can testify to the fact that I am different. As my Muslim friends say, I am not weird or crazy. I am special in a unique way.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I am doing a Russell Crowe movie binge. I have not revealed why. I keep promising to reveal why on the site and today is your lucky day!
As you read through this, bear in mind that in the Old Testament there are stories of people that spoke of dreams where God has spoken to them to reveal a prophecy or to deliver special messages. The Bible speaks of people speaking in tongues or seeing angels…even talking to God. If you are Muslim, Jew or Christian, you believe these stories.
To say that it does not continue to exist today and it only existed thousands of years ago, you do not know God. God never stopped talking to his people. Today, there are many people out there that are listening to God and speaking with him.
My understanding of God and the universe is a little more elevated than conventional religions. For Muslims and Christians who have heard me speak about God, they have always noticed how I reference their beliefs, but explain the way that things should be. It is more elevated in understanding, and it always rings inside their heart as being God’s truth.
As one friend explained to me, there are times I speak about God and the universe in such a way that he does not understand. Even though he does not understand it, what I say rings in his heart as being the truth. Some time will pass and he will be going about his business when something will happen to him and then he will recount the words I said to him. That is when he says to himself, “That is what she was talking about!”
He told me that I’m on a much higher plane of understanding than he is. He is just trying to get there.
This higher plane of understanding…that is what I am going to be discussing today. It is much easier for people to hear my voice when I describe these things, because oftentimes, seeing is believing. To hear someone’s voice as they tell you this story is much more powerful than just reading their story. It’s their voice that strikes the chord within your heart that what this person is saying is true. Even if you don’t understand it, you will eventually.]
The Crowe Binge is Really About the Novel
On this site, I have been talking a lot about the novel I am currently working on. The book is about a dream I had last month that was so prolific that I had to share it. I saw the dream from beginning to end. The story was just so incredible, I had to bring it to life and share the story with the world.
Who was the lead character in the dream? Russell Crowe.
Before you go thinking that I’m having some prolific and awesome dreams about Russell Crowe, note that I said ‘lead character.’ That means that he’s playing the role of the actual person and it’s not really about Russell Crowe. In other words, the dream plays out like a movie and Crowe is just an actor in the dreamlike movie playing the role of an actual person.
For some odd reason, when God is trying to explain something to me, he uses Russell Crowe in the story to explain it. For the last three years, if Crowe appears in the dream, that means it is a message to explain something going on in my life or something that will happen in my life (aka prophetic dreams).
These dreams play out from beginning to end. I see and feel what every character is thinking and feeling. I see all of the fate lines as they interact and intersect with each person in the dream, and I understand the meaning of it all in the grander scheme of things (i.e. from God’s point of view).
When God speaks, he is speaking a million things all at once. That is the way the universe operates. There is not just one single thing happening in the universe at that very moment, there are many things happening across the universe instantaneously. So when God is explaining one situation, there are many things involved beyond just the story. There is the greater message, which is God’s message, and that message is oftentimes lost in the story. It is his message that is the most important part of the story because it explains everything. It truly explains the story of your life.
A lot of times Crowe’s appearance is a mixed bag. He’s playing the role of everyone the story is about. He’s me. He’s the guy in question. He’s the good guy, the bad guy, the clueless guy and the guy that gets his heart trampled on and can’t figure out why it happened.
In this story though, he’s playing the role of the guy this story is really about (an actual person that exists). I decided to call the book “The Death Between Us.” If you’ve followed along with what’s happened to me over these last 3 years, you’ll understand why I chose that title. There are even some elements that go back to when I was at the Vatican in 2012 and what transpired after that. Death himself plays a prominent role in this book and it is not in a way you could ever imagine.
The Vatican – July 2012
Let me take you back to a day in my life – July 2012. I am in Rome, Italy and I’ve decided to go to St. Peter’s Basilica. I leave the hotel, pick up a few slices of pizza, jump on the subway and head to St. Peter’s Basilica.
I’m tired, because I know my cancer has returned, but I refuse to go to the doctors because I am not ready to go through another year of testing. It’s the testing that’s the worst part.
I get through security in Vatican City and decide to sit down at the obelisk and share my lunch with the birds. After lunch, I head into St. Peter’s Basilica, wearing a long black dress and a red Valentino scarf wrapped around my head to hide my hair as a matter of respect to the church. [I’m not even Christian.]
I start looking around, photographing the church, reading the walls. The marble floors are really weighing down on my body, sucking the energy out of me. I notice there’s a prayer room, so I pretend like I’m going to go in and pray just so I can sit down in one of the pews for a while.
This is where I confess that I can do something that most people can’t do. I can push thoughts into people’s head. When you meditate as much as I do, it awakens parts of your mind and allows you to use parts of your brain that most people do not use. There are a lot of people who meditate regularly that can do this. These are sort of ‘powers’ that come when you have a deep understanding and relationship with God. There are many nuns that I know that have this same ability.
Also, another ‘power’ I have is the ability to see with my mind’s eye things that spiritually cannot be seen with the naked eye. It’s the same kind of ‘power’ where when I’m interviewing someone and they are saying one thing, I hear something else. It is that something else that scares them, because if I print it, it could be bad. As I’ve learned from Ilya Kovalchuk, I am 100% correct in what I see in their mind and that scares them (i.e. hockey players).
At any rate, I’m not Catholic and I’m definitely not Christian, so I decided to eavesdrop on what the nuns were praying about. I pushed myself into the eldest nun’s mind and saw her praying for the souls of man that they would find their way to God. So I pushed the answer into her mind on how that should be accomplished. Another nun was visiting from another country. She was praying for funds so that her church would not close. I looked around me in this room filled with opulence and just shook my head. The Vatican has vast sources of money. They are rich beyond belief and they cannot share the wealth with their flock and churches? Come on now.
That’s when I heard the giggle. I immediately looked up and saw two angels sitting up near the top of the ceiling. They were listening to the prayers and laughing at the people below, having a grand time. That’s when they noticed me. One of them said, “I can’t believe she’s here. Of all places!” The one angel stopped the other and said, “Don’t you know she can hear you?” They left out the window, with one looking back at me as he left…like he was getting ready to run and tell on me for stepping foot in what I believe to be…well, I don’t want to make you mad so I won’t share what I truly think of places of worship.
I stayed in the prayer room a little longer listening to people’s prayers, pushing thoughts into their mind to help them find the answer to their prayers. I even bestowed blessings upon people.
When I felt like my body could handle touring the Vatican again, I got up. I walked out of the prayer room, passed the nun at the admittance area, and just felt this weight on my body, pulling me down. I leaned up against one of the columns and sat down. It was unreal how difficult of a time my body was having. It felt like life was being sucked right out of me.
A couple of tourists took it upon themselves to sit down next to me against the column. A guard came running up and told them to get up. They couldn’t sit there. He looked at me and said, “You, you are okay. You can sit there. Just rest.”
As I was sitting there, I saw an Asian priest hurriedly walking through the Basilica. I was astonished. I’d never seen an Asian priest before. So I decided to get up and follow him. I wanted to see how far I could get into the Vatican before I was stopped.
I followed him to the back of the Basilica and then stopped dead in my tracks.
Imagine standing in front of Death’s Door (this really exists at St. Peter’s Basilica) and realizing what is happening in that very moment that transcends human understanding. You are standing in Death’s throne room and he knows you are there.
When I realized what was going on, I started to bolt out of St. Peter’s. Then I turned back around, because I wasn’t sure. I took out my camera and started photographing Death’s Door. I needed proof that what I was seeing was what I was really seeing. [I’m telling you right now, not a single photograph came out. Not a single one.]
Then I saw him form next to Death’s Door. That was when I bolted for the front door.
Death himself followed me all the way to the front door, telling me a million things all at once (like God does). I looked around me as I made my way to the front door. I came to understand the fallacy of the Christian religion. He told me that they had no idea what they were doing by worshiping the dead. It gave him power and that was wrong. They had no idea how wrong they were. It was not the way things were supposed to be. It was disrespectful to God to give Death so much power by worshiping and praying to the dead.
I hadn’t noticed before while I was touring the Basilica, but there were dead popes all over the place and people were bowing down and praying to their corpses!
When I got to the front door, he told me I had to clean out my soul before it was too late. I took one step out the front door and I saw the guy that had hurt me worse than anyone had ever hurt me in my lifetime standing there on the other side of the gate. Of all the fucking places to run into him, I run into him at the Vatican in Italy.
I turned around and went back into the Basilica, thinking ‘What the Fuck?’ I had a choice. I could either run again or face my fears. I remembered when I was a kid, how I used to get up on the high dive, scared to death. I would stand at the edge and say to myself, just get it over with and jump. So I jumped.
I decided, if God put this guy here at the Vatican at the exact same time as me, it was time to talk to him. So I went back outside, ready to talk to him. He was standing there on the other side of the gates, looking right at me. A woman called from behind him and he turned his head. Then like seeing a haze lift, I saw that it wasn’t him. It wasn’t him at all.
I was so confused, I looked back towards the entrance to the Basilica and Death was standing there. He said, “Now you understand.”
What he was talking about was that I needed to forgive that guy for hurting me worse than anyone has ever hurt me and forgive myself for hurting him by walking away. Death wasn’t there to scare me. He was there to help me. He told me there are certain things you do not want to carry with you when you die. He had dug down deep into the bottom of my soul for that one.
He didn’t pick the guy that killed himself. He didn’t pick the soured relationship between me and my family. He chose him. I had to forgive him and myself for what happened. This was something I should not take with me in my soul when I die. It was a story that should never be repeated in any lifetime.
I was so exhausted from what had transpired, I sat down on the steps outside of the Basilica. Once again, the tourists took it upon themselves to take liberty and sit next to me. The guards came running over telling everyone to get up and leave…EXCEPT me. The guard told me I was fine. I could sit in the shade if I wanted to. There were 3 different guards that relayed that exact same message every single time tourists sat down next to me.
This is why I love the Catholics. They’re so nice.
I Speak in Tongues
The next day, I headed to Sorrento. I was sitting in a cafe when this old gypsy woman approached me asking for donations. I gave her 20 euros. She thanked me and then did a double take. She crossed herself a few times and immediately headed out of the cafe. She kept looking back at me a little scared.
She came back 15 minutes later with all of these charms and pictures of saints. She told me in Italian, “Death is following you.” I responded, “I know.”
She gave me the charms to help ward him off and explained what I should do to help keep Death at bay. I know college level first year Italian. My professor claimed that I was such a native speaker she thought I was lying when I said I didn’t know Italian prior to taking her class…and she was an Italian. [My Russian professor said the same thing about my Russian.] How I was able to communicate with this woman in Italian for a good 20 minutes, I have no idea. My Muslim friends tell me that every now and again I speak in Arabic to them. I don’t know Arabic except for a few choice words.
A friend of mine even witnessed me talking to a Palestinian woman in Arabic on the subway one time. When the lady left me, I blessed her and my friend and I went on our way. She said, “I had no idea you knew Arabic.” I replied, “I don’t.” She thought I was messing with her. I said, “Honestly, I don’t.”
She looked at me strange and said, “But I just witnessed you talking to her in Arabic.” I shrugged my shoulders and said, “She was telling me about her husband and how he had died in a bomb attack. They were sleeping when it hit the house and instantly killed him. She’s on her way to her in-laws in Queens.”
She told me that the conversation was not in English (like I thought it was). It was completely in Arabic.[I believe this would be the equivalent to a modern day ‘speaking in tongues.’ To me, I hear what the soul is saying. The soul speaks a universal language. It is the same language no matter what language you speak. I may think I’m speaking in English to someone, but I’m really talking to their soul, so somehow it translates into the correct language. Which means that if you are speaking in a foreign language around me, chances are high I understand everything you are saying and can respond in your language.]
So back to the Italian gypsy lady. She told me Death was following me. I knew he was because I could feel him. St. Peter’s Basilica is Death’s Throne Room. That feeling like the life was being sucked right out of me…that was my spiritual side feeling Death himself nearby.
He followed me all over Italy that next week and then continued to follow me around until October 22, 2013. During that time, I came to terms with Death. I learned he was not to be feared. He was a friend. He was an uncle that cared about what was happening to me.
I knew the cancer had returned. I could feel it back then at the Vatican, but I refused to go and see the doctor because in 2008-2009 I spent the entire year going through medical testing, looking for the cancer. The signs were there. We just had to wait and see where it would appear. I also had surgery in 2008 and there were complications post-op. The doctors were trying to figure out what happened. The cancer was awakened thanks to that surgery.
After a year of medical testing, I couldn’t do it anymore. I was just too tired to keep doing it with no results. We were playing the waiting game. We were waiting to see where the cancer would show up.
In 2013, I returned to hockey writing and I was mad as hell. In my meditation, I yelled at God for that broken heart associated with giving up on a dream. He kept telling me I needed to see a doctor. There was something wrong. It wasn’t something I could fix. Only a doctor could fix it. He told me that during every single meditation.
By June, he had to scream it in my head during a meditation, so I booked an appointment to see my doctor. I told her exactly what the meditation was saying. I said to her in the exam room, “God told me in my meditation that there is something wrong with me. It is not something I can fix. Only a doctor can fix it.” She put what I said into the computer system, probably thinking me delusional and to circle back on that later. She told me to just go workout, start a diet, blah blah blah. Everything was okay.
Then the blood tests came back. The result: they found the tumor.
With each doctor I went to at Roosevelt after that, they all asked me again and again, “How did you know?” It’s like they had to hear me say it in order for them to believe it. Science isn’t meant to disprove that God does not exist…it is also meant to prove that God does exist.
During the final stages of my testing, the first doctor I saw during my nuclear testing asked me how I knew. I repeated the exact same words. “God said there is something wrong with me. It is not something I can fix. Only a doctor can fix it.” That doctor did not just want to hear me say it once. She needed to hear me say it again, just to make sure I was not crazy.
With each nuclear test I took that day, each doctor asked me how I knew. I repeated the same thing. In one of the longest part of the tests, the doctor ran out of the room to get the chief doctor to look at my tests. They were also talking about what I had said. I could hear one of them say, “There is no way she could have known about this.”
The technician sat there in the nuclear science lab with me looking at the screen, he turned to me and asked me (because he had heard the other doctors talking about it), “How did you know? There are no signs for this type of cancer. How did you know?”
I repeated the exact same words to him. I explained that the symptoms I was having could have been easily diagnosed as something simple like plantar’s fasciitis, or how I needed to workout more, etc. The blood test was what told us the tumor was there.
The technician sat there looking at me in disbelief. He was an Indian man. He told me that in his culture, they believe this stuff, but this was the first time in his life that he had ever witnessed someone say something like this and it ended up being completely accurate. There was something wrong with me. It was not something I could fix, only a doctor could.
How many men of science do you think changed their mind about God’s existence after meeting me that day?
Death Follows Me
I came to realize that what happened at St. Peter’s Basilica in front of Death’s Door had an even bigger meaning. I wasn’t just figuratively standing before Death’s Door, I was literally at death’s door and he had taken an interest in me that day. He followed me everywhere I went and I could feel him.
Over those two months of testing, the doctors told me to prepare for the worst. So I did. I got my affairs in order and on October 22, 2013, I walked into Roosevelt Hospital hoping that I’d live through this. I had said a prayer that morning when I arose. I asked God to let me live. If he were to let me live, my entire existence would be to live by his will. I would do what I was supposed to do (which is to complete the novels).
As I lie in the bed in the prep room, the team of doctors came in to talk to me to explain everything to me all the way down to explaining how they were filling my body with Gatorade (no joke). At one point, they left. I lay there waiting when I felt Death standing at the edge of my bed. He was happy and told me that he wasn’t there for me that day. He was there for someone else down the hall. “Surprise, you’re going to live!”
I have to say, the weight was lifted off of my shoulders. After the surgery, when I realized I was dreaming, I did a whole, “Fuck. I’m alive.” I heard a beeping noise and a nurse yelling at me to breathe. She told me to just concentrate on breathing. Deep breaths in and out.
I tried to come out of my haze and focus on my breathing. I saw Death standing there smiling saying, “See, I told you that you would live.” He then went on to explain to me that I was on borrowed time.
The Borrowed Time & the Storyline
That ‘borrowed time’ became prevalent in this dream I had last month. According to the dream, Death had taken pity on me and did something he wasn’t supposed to do. He gave me time…time to do what I was supposed to do…to make the dreams come true.
This is why the book is called “The Death Between Us.” This is truly about Death’s vested interest in giving me that borrowed time and what it all means.
Crowe’s role in the dream was not Death. He played the guy who loses the woman he loves. Death is the evil nemesis that steals from him the woman he loves. Death becomes the lover and the one that wipes her memories from her, so she would not only forget who she was, but forget who this man was and how she felt about him. Death is the one that causes the ultimate heart break.
So this whole Russell Crowe binge is about making sure that I continuously see the main character in my mind. Seeing the actor from the dream pushes me to keep on writing, because I am constantly thinking about the story.
One thing I would like is for all of my books to turn into movies. The books in my head are based on those prolific dreams I’ve had. Oddly enough, Crowe was in every single one of those dreams I’m writing about. Like I said, God likes to use Crowe as my spirit guide in my dreams. I’m not complaining. He’s nice to look at. Just saying.
I think perhaps the ultimate reason why Crowe plays out in every story is because if and when these books turn into films, perhaps Crowe will take an interest and be in every single one of these films. I mean, how many authors can say that when they wrote their books, Crowe was the main person in mind to play the lead male character? The character looks like him (something to keep in mind if you ever read the novels).
As for this particular story, I am not going to reveal who the actual person is that this story is really about. That is for him to choose to pick up the book and read it, if and when he is ready. This book is about his heart break. This is my way of explaining to him why his heart breaking was out of my control and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening. What happened on October 22, 2013 made me forget who he was. When the memories returned, those feelings I had for him never returned.
It is hard watching someone’s heart break in front of you because he knows you no longer love him. This book is being written for him to understand that there was something much greater going on in the universe and it was not within his control. This is about learning to let her go.
I bet never in a million years did you ever expect me to say that the reason for the Russell Crowe binge was because of this. Now you know. It’s about the novel.
Last month, I turned 40. Like most major milestones in life, it gives you an opportunity to reflect on life thus far. What are the things you still want out of life? What dreams are yet to be realized? What parts of your life make you happy? Where do you want your focus on life to be? What things about yourself can you do better? What things about yourself do you want to change?
These are the questions I ask myself. The result is that I am going to mix life up a bit. I want to become someone different in my 40s. I want to achieve every dream and every goal I’ve ever set for myself. I want to become the person I’ve always wanted to be.
For years, I struggled with switching gears from being just a hockey columnist and a blogger to becoming a novelist. That’s what I always wanted to be…a novelist. I did not want to be known as a hockey writer or a blogger, but those are the roles I took on as I began my journey to becoming a novelist. I put in the time to make myself legit before approaching publishers.
When I first started blogging and writing for Inside Hockey, I did not want to be some nobody that publishers had never even heard of. I wanted to be someone they could easily Google and find many years worth of my writing. I got their attention last year when I introduced myself around. By year end, two publishers requested submissions. I didn’t have anything to give them but a few chapters here and there, so I didn’t submit anything.
But there’s more to it than just having a few chapters on hand…
Before I could make the leap to becoming a novelist, I had to first conquer my own self-doubt and fears. It is scary to make a leap like this…to realize a dream. It’s new territory. I was reading just yesterday how Ty Alexander (Gorgeous in Grey) finished her first book, and she was Scared AF!
All of her fears were the same fears I had: that fear that when you put yourself out there, the world thinks you’re just not good enough. Could I put my heart and soul into this and then have the world rip it apart saying it was a piece of crap? That is the fear I’m talking about, the true fear of being a complete failure and the entire world thinks that is what you are.
Reading Ty’s honest post about that fear made me realize it came at a good time. I began writing my novel a few weeks ago and then stopped. Elements like lack of sleep and an illness became reasons I put off going back to the book. I won’t even tell you how much money I spent to avoid doing what I really want to do which is MAKE THE DREAM COME TRUE.
Do not think just because I do not spend every morning writing that I’m not working on the book. I am still building the characters, researching different elements to add to the story to make each character better. I am always thinking about the story, adding new elements each day to make the story more complete. There is a lot that goes into a well thought out book beyond just sitting down and telling a story. That is the first draft. The next draft is where you fill in the gaps.
This book (as well as all of the future ones) are based on very prolific dreams from over the years which include a much deeper meaning. They are stories that are embedded in my soul that have caused me anguish, strife, love, forgiveness, sorrow, insanity, hope and understanding.
The scariest thing about writing is that when I write, my mind is living in that story at that very moment. There are tears shed, heartbreaks, angry moments, even a loss of understanding…all of those things are happening at once. If it was not for Matthew Lucifer getting in my face every hour to take a 5-minute break, I would have a hard time divorcing myself from reality and the story.
My goal is to stop writing at 6PM. This is a mandatory thing. It is my way of stepping away from the story to focus on reality, play with the little dude and take my mind off of the story. The mind always needs a mental break when you become so entranced in the story you are writing.
Changing Who I Am on the Inside
I don’t know what it was about turning 40 that made me look at life differently, but turning 40 made me think of all the things I wanted out of life as far as the woman I wanted to be.
I changed my diet completely. I decided to go Whole 30/paleo. It is so restrictive with eating only meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts (no peanuts…that got me a few times). Instead of drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a day, I’m down to one cup of black coffee before noon. No more soy milk for my coffee. [When I started writing this post, I was two weeks into Whole 30. I got sick on Saturday, so I had to get off the diet because my medication has sugar in it. I still try to focus on eating well, but because of the sugar, I’m off the diet until the illness is gone and I can take the sugar back out of my diet again. Cough drops and NyQuil have sugar in it!]
Because of that coffee rule, I’m drinking a whole lot more water than I ever had before (which is also good). I am sleeping through the night (with the exception of the fur monster waking me up at 3AM for breakfast).
Changing Who I Am On the Outside
In the evenings, I established a new nightly beauty routine doing what most women do: 1. Wash my face, 2. Brush/floss my teeth. 3. Put on night creams.
If you are a woman reading this, you probably already do that. I never did. This stuff was not drilled into my brain during my youth, because my mom, being a foreigner, did not know about these daily rituals until she became older and assimilated into the Western culture.
I changed my wardrobe and became more daring. My friends loved all the new looks. One told me that 99.9999% of the time, everything I wear is spot on (and she does not say that about anybody). I definitely upped my game.
I think the biggest surprise for everyone is that I’m wearing more than just powder, eye shadow and gloss now. I’m actually wearing eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. Talk about shocking everybody.
I bought all new makeup and beauty care products (I had a massive purge earlier this year when I KonMari’d the entire makeup collection and left basically nothing). I got an education on makeup beyond the everyday basics.
My friends are pleasantly surprised at how I upped my makeup game. Next up is getting my nails done (instead of cutting them down), going for waxings more often, hair coloring/styling…the WHOLE 40 MAKEOVER.
One of my friends was so impressed with everything so far, she told me this would be a perfect thing to share on the blog. I should give everyone a little peek inside my inner world and what I’m doing during the “This Is 40.”
Which brings me to the new photographs…
Getting Back In Front of the Camera
Turning 40 created a lot of positive changes in my life. 40 is beautiful. I kicked this new decade off by finally sitting in front of the camera for the first time in 5 years to photograph what I look like now at 40.
What happened after that? Well, the compliments came flooding in. I got more followers. A retailer whose clothes/accessories I was wearing asked for permission to post the photos on their website…all of the photos.
I showed the photos to my friend and she just looked at me in disbelief. She asked me, “What took you so long to photograph yourself?” She just could not believe it took me this long to get in front of the camera again.
Many photographers have a very difficult time getting back in front of the camera after spending so many years behind it. You are accustomed to being behind the lens, showing the world the beauty you see. It is very weird for us to want to get back in front of the camera after spending so many years behind it.
My friend told me I should approach getting in front of the camera in a different light. This is about letting people get a sneak peek into my world. It is not about showing you everything going on at every second of my life, it’s about letting you get a glimpse inside my world…the world that my friends see.
What is Changing?
What I do not share are the ball gowns, the couture handbags, the clothes and the jewelry. That is what is going to change. There is that side of me, but there is also the creative side with crafts, the books I am reading, the fun ‘paper products’ I buy (I love beautiful paper products), and the new outfits I come up with mixing up hi-lo ends.
Just yesterday, we were discussing a look I was going to try next: socks with sandals. As I was perusing Net-a-Porter, I came across a pair of Miu Mius I loved. It wasn’t just the Miu Mius. Net-a-Porter paired the Miu Mius with two outfits I loved. The whole look alone (each one) was about $10,000. In that moment, I was like…I bet I can find something very similar at ASOS.
I completed a similar look, plus purchased two pairs of socks and two pairs of the identical Miu Miu shoes for a total of $280. My friend got a good laugh out of that. She was absolutely impressed.
To define the way I dress, it’s not always designer labels from head to toe. I can go into any store and make something work with the collection I already have. I have the couture items that make up the hi-end, but I also have the everyday items that make up the lo-end.
My friend was so impressed with the look I created, she told me that’s what I should do next on the site. I should show people how I mix and match hi-lo end pieces or how I take a look that I really like and get the entire look for a much better price. Oftentimes, I can even find the same designer and the same item for a much cheaper price.
This is the side of me my friends see and believe I should share with the site. From the new handbag every week to the new looks I’ve put together, this is the glimpse they want me to share, especially the fun crafty stuff that they got me addicted to.
They also want me to start talking about life at 40 and the changes I made, including sharing my beauty and clothing finds, because that’s what girls like to read. I will be in front of the camera more often, not behind it all of the time. I will share the things I’m doing and working on more often, because simply put…it is kind of cool.
My summer is coming to an end and with that, the social calendar picks up. It is nice to take the summer off and just focus on me, thinking over what I want out of life and the positive changes I want to make for myself.
You will see a lot of changes coming up on the site and on social media as I share my 40s with all of you. To put it simply, I am being more daring.
For many years now, I’ve struggled with becoming the person I know that I am inside. I’ve spent many years doing the little things to prepare myself for the big things in life. I always felt like I was just biding my time. For what? I did not know.
My Moroccan friend, Driss, told me years ago that everything happening in my life is for a reason. If I were to look outside the situation, my journey would look like a map. There were markers showing one point to another to another. That map was leading me somewhere…my path to my own destiny.
This past year, I made a lot of major changes and decisions. If I was going to be honest with myself, I hated hockey. I’ve hated it since 2012. The lockout and what the players did on Twitter sealed how I felt. I tried after the lockout to fall back in love with the game again, but ended up hating it even more.
When I initially retired in 2012 from hockey writing, I really didn’t want to have anything more to do with it. When my editor asked me back a year later, I decided to let go of the dream of having a family of my own (which is why I retired) and go back to the career. I broke my own heart and told myself that the dream to have a family is no more.
Perhaps that heartbreak added to the hatred towards the sport and covering it. A few months after returning to hockey, I found out I had a tumor in my parathyroid gland. I spent the next two months preparing for the worst, like my doctor told me to do, making sure all of my affairs were in order for the ‘just in case’ I didn’t survive the surgery.
When I woke up in the recovery room, everything in my life had forever changed. The story of my life prior to that surgery was done. Who I was after the surgery…that was the person I had to discover.
For a lot of people, they have a before and an after in their life. Usually some major traumatic event occurs and the person’s life changes forever. They are no longer that person they were prior to that traumatic moment. They’ve changed.
That was what happened to me post-op. I struggled a lot that first year. I struggled with memories. I had to wait an entire year before all of my memories came back. When they did come back, the emotions attached to them were no longer there.
The sisters of the Meditation Center told me that losing my memories was a good thing. I’ve been carrying a lot of pain in my soul. To no longer have that pain, why would I want to remember it? It should be considered a blessing. God had his reasons for wiping those memories clean.
As a writer, I needed to know what that pain was in order to write about it.
Moving In a New Direction
Last year, knowing I was very unhappy with continuing to be a hockey writer, I asked myself, “What do you love?” The simple answer was books and movies. So I decided to do that. It started with a Film Festival. Next, I attended the Book Expo conference for writers, bloggers, etc. I attended another film festival. I started getting invitations to movie premieres, talks, parties, etc. It was like this world accepted me right from the start and welcomed me in.
My entire world changed.
Hockey season started up again and I just didn’t want to be there. The reason I stayed was because sometimes you just don’t know who you are when you have become a certain identity. People see you and know you as a hockey writer. So what would happen if I were to change that?
I quit in March after the girl that had been helping me cover the Devils revealed that she had to deal with some misogynistic crap and someone tried to kiss her…and these people were members of the press. After I read her account, I realized, you know…that really sickens me that this happened to her.
For years, I’ve had to listen to assholes say shit to me about being there. Old guys would tell me I didn’t know anything about hockey. I could be eating a carrot stick and they would stop and say something nasty about my weight. I’m sure if I was model thin, they’d say I was trying to get a hockey player husband (and yes, I have heard many people accuse me of that over the years).
I was there to be a writer. I was not there looking for a husband. Sure, there were players that had crushes on me, but I was adamant about not being that stereotype that the only reason why women get into sports is because they are trying to get with the player. I rejected every single player that showed an interest because I refused to be the person people wanted to accuse women in sports of.
The misogyny in sports is very real. I just brushed it off and buried myself in my work. But then I realized…wait…this is why I truly hate hockey. These assholes have been saying shit to me for years and I act like it never bothered me, but the truth is that it always did. To know this also happened to the other girl…oh, hell no. I refused to be part of that culture anymore.
I was set to take over the spot at the New York Rangers, the team I wanted to cover since day one. I decided that I didn’t want it anymore because those same jerks were over there, too.
Turning down covering the New York Rangers was a tough decision to make. The Rangers have always been incredible to me. The last time they went to Europe to play a few exhibition games, they invited me along (even though I was the NJ Devils beat reporter). I was the only US based reporter that went along with them and the NHL. The Rangers were also the only team to reach out after I released why I was leaving hockey. I will always love the NY Rangers. They were nothing but good to me.
I did feel like I was letting female hockey fans down. You can try to fight the good fight and represent women in a culture dominated by men, but are you really fighting for anything if you just stand there and let the harassment happen game after game after game? What are you actually accomplishing by saying nothing and remaining?
Leaving hockey was the best thing I could do for myself. I wasn’t passionate about hockey anymore. When you’re not passionate about something anymore, you really shouldn’t be doing it.
A New Beginning
When I quit, people asked me what I was going to do now, thinking that this was the end. No. It was a new beginning for me that had been unfolding for over a year.
When I met fashion designer Malan Breton at the NYCIFF, he told me that he used to be a sports commentator. I was in shock. This man who creates masterpieces was a former sports commentator, model, actor, journalist and so much more. He made me realize that we should do everything we dream of doing. One day, as we’re going along our path, we’ll finally find our true calling.
Looking at my map of life and comparing it to his, I could see that our lives were quite similar. We tried on so many hats, just looking for the right fit that would define us. He helped me open up my eyes to see that this was only the beginning of my journey.
After I quit hockey, authors started contacting me to review their books, willing to do interviews. Before that, I had to seek them out. I had to talk to publishers, meet with the authors, just to get the interviews. I don’t have to do that anymore. They are contacting me directly now.
I got more and more invites to movie premieres, special engagements (like the 25th anniversary of “Silence of the Lambs” with the cast and crew in attendance), invitations to fashion events, art events, etc. I kept getting free stuff from vendors in hopes that I would review them.
Leaving hockey opened up that world completely for me. People were always conflicted about approaching me about their stuff because I was doing hockey, which is not what they were doing. After leaving hockey, they felt more comfortable approaching me. Trust me when I say, leaving hockey was the best thing I ever did for myself. It was a wall that was preventing me from accessing the world that was more like me.
All of this leads to my present
That person I’ve been afraid to let out, well she is currently out. As in, I stopped ‘preparing’ myself to be a novelist. This last year, I met a lot of publishers from various publishing houses. At year end, two had approached me to ask if I had a novel to turn into them. I didn’t.
For some reason, I had this fear of becoming that person I wanted to be (like most people). I was always preparing, writing for other sites and my own blogs. I was writing what I thought people wanted, not what I wanted. What I truly wanted was to take these book ideas inside my head and actually commit to writing the entire story down.
It is time for me to switch to writing books.
Last year, Kim Thùy told me that I should be the one writing books, not her. She loved my writing. That said a lot to me because I think her work is a complete masterpiece and beautifully done. When someone whose work I love tells me this, you would think I should follow through, right?
It takes a dream arriving at the right moment to make me realize now is the time. A couple of weeks ago, I had this dream that was so intense, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The story it told was just so incredible. The elements in the story were so intense with emotion, I realized I had to write this story.
I sat down and started writing down my notes in a notebook, transcribing the dream. 18 pages later and on my third gel pen, I had only told the beginning of the story. I hadn’t even reached the part where the bad guy is introduced.
As I wrote down my notes, my playlist would start playing songs that related to exactly what I was writing in that very moment. It happened again and again and again. You know what that is? That’s the universe telling you that you are on your path. You are doing exactly what you should be doing. You are on your way to your destiny.
As I got lost in this dream, I started to see that map of my life Driss was telling me about. What happened in this dream included a person I’ve been dreaming a lot about these past three years. I never understood why. Each time I had an intense dream that pertained to the story of my life (i.e. the dreams I remembered), this person was in it. I had no clue why he was in it, but he was in it. I just thought he represented someone else, because the story is similar to the story between me and another person.
When I stepped away from writing down my notes for the day, I started thinking about how weird everything was falling into place. Then I realized the main character in this book…his presence in my life goes back to the late-1990s. He’s the reason why I got into hockey. He’s the reason why I wanted to see the New York Rangers play. I was like…this is so bizarre. Then I looked at that map of my life with this new element and had to smack myself in the head. I was reading the map all wrong. I’d been reading it wrong for years.
I was biding my time and I had no idea why. Well, everything is now understood. I now understand the map of my life. I was becoming the person I was meant to become…a novelist. By starting the work on the book, making myself live in each and every single moment I am discussing, telling myself that ‘you must write for yourself,’ my whole universe has shifted in the most incredible way.
When I got the invitation to see David Duchovny, I didn’t RSVP. But then they emailed me again and I finally relented. I’m glad I did. He wasn’t there to talk about acting. He was there to talk about writing. He inspired me to become the narrator of my story and not let anyone else tell my story. I have to remind myself to write for myself. I look at these words before I write:
This is my writing mantra. It helps me to understand that when I tell this story, I have to do this my way. I have to fully be present.
Come as You Are
COME AS YOU ARE. That is what I tell myself. That is what it means to be present in the process of writing. You are giving a piece of yourself, so you need to be brutally honest with yourself as you write.
“Come as You Are” is also a very spiritual song for me. When I was struggling with meditation, this song came on and I realized this was God’s way of saying just come as you are. Sometimes I strive to be the person I used to be and get frustrated that I’m not her anymore. That frustration was making it so difficult for me to meditate. “Come as You Are” made me realize that God already knows my struggle and doesn’t care. I should just show up and be present with him, no matter what state I’m in. I’ll get to where I need to be eventually.
I’ve come to realize that the dream I had a couple of years ago about walking away from someone I loved dearly and watching his heart break was a foreshadowing of my future. God was telling him to let me be. I’d come around when I was ready. There was something I was going through and I had to go through it alone.
My struggles with meditation are about those inner struggles that redefined me after the surgery. The heartaches I was carrying in my soul needed to be dealt with and the surgery triggered that need to wipe the slate clean before it is too late. Letting go of the frustration helped me to understand that I’ve changed. I have to accept that I’m not going to be that perfect soul anymore. I am broken.
Writing for Yourself
‘Write for yourself and no one else’ is about making sure that I’m the only person involved in this writing process. In this day and age of trying to do quick, mass sells in the marketplace, we oftentimes get so involved with trying to figure out what other people want to read, we lose our own authenticity. We lose sight of writing something brilliant…something that will withstand the test of time.
The reason why Anne Rice became so popular was because in 1976, she wrote a book that had never been done before. She wrote the classic “Interview With the Vampire.” She is and continues to be one of the most prolific writers because she is very much a part of each of her stories.
Her stories involve something that happened in her life at that very moment. The struggles she’s going through, the pain as she works through each loss, sickness, etc., her books are a reflection of how she was living at that time. As a result of being true to her very being, she is one of the most celebrated bestselling authors of our time. Every book she has written has been at the top of the bestsellers list.
These days, I oftentimes see her ask what people want. That’s the problem with social media. People get wound up in trying to figure out what their audience wants instead of just doing what they want to do. We all get messed up in wanting to be accepted by others, so we try to give people what they want instead of just creating what we want to create and sharing it with the world.
This novel I’m working on is about my life post-op. It’s about a man who has lost his wife he loved dearly, and then gets her back for a moment. It’s about a woman running away from the abuse, because she is dying. It’s about death and how he takes pity on her and gives her a second chance. He gives her borrowed time. It’s about helping people learn to let go of the person they love more than life itself.
I think, in a way, this book is for someone. It’s to help him let go. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched someone’s heart break because they know you no longer love them. I watched that happen and there was nothing I could do about it. Those memories of how I felt about him did not return after the surgery. They never did.
I think this book is my way of saying “I’m sorry I hurt you.” The true elements to what happened in the real story are hidden in this story in such a way that it is supposed to help him let me go.
This is not the first book I wanted to write, but something tells me that it is needed now, not later. The other two can wait.
Diving into this novel, I realized that a screenplay I’ve been going over in my head (I’m up to season 4 in my head, need to get to a season 7) is starting to become more realistic to me. Last summer, I headed into HBO Studios for a seminar they were hosting. I literally had no idea how any of this TV business stuff worked, especially for writers.
I had accepted the invitation to attend the screenwriter’s seminar, because I actually wanted to start writing for Hannibal. Imagine my surprise when it was the NBC Executive in charge of Hannibal that was giving the seminar. Synchronistic?
I got from that seminar that Hannibal was about to be canceled. It didn’t surprise me after seeing the first 3 episodes (it got too artsy, I couldn’t hear or see anything…it was driving me nuts). But the thing is, there is hope for Hannibal’s return in a few years, but not to NBC. That means they’ll need writers in the future.
Also synchronistic was getting the invitation to attend the 25th Anniversary of “Silence of the Lambs.” Jodie Foster spoke about why she wanted to do this film and it totally changed the way I viewed the movie. I ended up sitting behind Howard Shore, the composer for the film. I almost fan girled right there in my seat. He’s written the music for almost every major film. Most recently he wrote the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit trilogies. I’ve been listening to his works since I was a kid and now he’s sitting directly in front of me to watch “Silence of the Lambs?” I swear to you, my universe is very synchronistic.
My connection with the film industry over this last year has landed a lot of crazy opportunities. The whole point in these opportunities is to learn, because this is a whole new territory to me beyond just watching a film. I’m learning about the ins and outs to the film industry, especially as a writer. I’ve met directors, actors and screenwriters this past year. The funny thing is we are inspiring each other to do great things. That’s what is so amazing about living your dream. You surround yourself with people that are living their dreams, too. They become your support group. You help each other reach each other’s dreams by supporting each other in our own endeavors. A lot of times it’s just adding whatever your talent is to the mix and being a soundboard of support.
There is something to that energy of creative types getting together. We feed off of each other’s energy.
When I decided to write my novel and complete it when the publishing houses make their rounds at year end, I started down a whole new path to realizing I was making my dream come true. When you’re on your path in life, you start to see things magically falling into place, as if to confirm to you that you are on the right path.
It’s like the birds are singing just for you. That is what it means to be living your dream that was designed for no one else in this world, but you.
The opportunities that have arisen over this last year for me was all part of the universe opening the doors for me to see that following movies and books was the direction I was always supposed to follow. Getting my name out there and writing about hockey for a few years was what helped me get my foot in the door when I began meeting with publishers last year. I kept telling myself that writing about hockey was helping me to become a better writer so that one day, when I was ready to sell the novel, it would make me legitimate and not some no name writer no one has ever heard of.
No one is interested in what I wrote for hockey, but knowing I was a member of the credentialed media, it legitimizes the fact that I am a writer. That means that the publishing houses and their agents are willing to talk to me. I’ve seen people with novels in hand going from one publisher to the next to be rejected because they didn’t know who they were.
If a publishing house is going to take a gamble on you, they need to like you right from the start. If you’re a no name who hasn’t put yourself out there to legitimize yourself as a writer, you’ll receive a lot of slammed doors in your face.
One thing I’ve realized as I’ve met writers over the years, they know when they are in the presence of another writer. They can just tell.
When I met Brad Meltzer last year, he looked at me and asked if he knew me. I responded that I didn’t think so. He replied that he knows me from somewhere but can’t put his finger on it. I just shrugged my shoulders. I had a feeling that maybe he was right. Maybe we did know each other somehow, but couldn’t put our finger on it.
I met Kim Thùy. She signed her book and then gave me her personal email to do an interview for this site. I was so surprised she was willing to do that for me. Our correspondence with each other during the interview surprised me. What I learned from her is to try and learn to write with fewer words. There’s always a way to say what you mean in more eloquent ways.
When I met Amy Tan when I first moved to NYC, I asked her about her rock band and if they would be playing anytime soon. She looked at me and said that when I finish my first novel to bring it by and they would help me make it better. I was like…WHAT? “They” being Amy Tan, Stephen King and Scott Turow. Those three are in a rock band together with a few other major American authors (like Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, etc.).
The irony in this is that I wasn’t even a writer yet. At that point in my life, it was just some far off dream. It was the person I wanted to be when I grew up, but I was nowhere close to making that dream come true.
She looked at me like she knew for sure I was a writer and re-emphasized that they would help me make my work better and give me helpful insight to get my work published for the masses. This meant a lot to me because Amy Tan is one of my favorite authors. The fact that she could see right into my very soul and see that I was a writer, that meant something incredible at the time. She was the person that awakened that sleeping writer within. I became a writer after that moment.
Now, it’s time to become the novelist. I don’t want to write other people’s stories all of the time (sometimes, but not all of the time). I need to write my own story, because truthfully, the things that have happened in my life that have helped define me are the stories I want to share.
This site was always about sharing the stories of people making their dreams come true in an effort to inspire others to live their own dreams. I just haven’t been sharing mine with everyone. Now, I am.
Last Monday, David Duchovny discussed his latest novel “Bucky F*cking Dent” at the New World Stages in New York City for Hudson Union Society.
Duchovny spoke about a side of him that most people are not used to…his literary side. The actor best known as Agent Fox Mulder (The X-Files) and Hank Moody (Californication) received his education from both Princeton and Yale, majoring in Literature. He didn’t know what he was going to do with his degree, except maybe become a literature professor.
Instead, while at Yale, he became interested in acting.
Now, he’s returning back to his literary side. For those who are writers, his talk is very inspiring and funny. For those stuck in a rut, it’s good to know we’re not alone, especially when a critic enters your mind of how you’re not good enough.
Here is the audio from his talk.
I originally was not going to attend this event, but when Hudson Union Society sent me an email saying I could go for free, I decided to go. You could say that was the universe encouraging me to go. I had no idea that this would not be a talk about Duchovny’s acting career, but a discussion on being a writer.
The main thing I learned from Duchovny was this…write for yourself. Don’t write for anyone else. Just write for yourself. Tell your story, don’t let others tell your story for you. You have an opportunity to be the narrator in your story and tell your own tale.
Looking at this site and my novel, I realized that sometimes I let my mind think of what other people want and what they want to read. I waste so much time trying to figure out what to write for other people that I forget why I write to begin with.
I shouldn’t care what other people want, because I stop being true to myself as a writer. I have to focus on telling the story I want to tell. I find that people are more inspired from what I write when it comes from a true place. People can sense your passion and admiration. It gets them inspired as well.
Writing from a cold place…one that is reporting and uncaring…I’m not telling those stories anymore. I am going to remain true to myself as a writer. Thank you, David Duchovny, for reminding me of who I am. I am a writer.
For those who are writers, I highly recommend listening to the audio from his talk.