The Little Book That Could

My self-published memoir, Carried By a Feather, won second place in The BookFest Spring 2023 contest in the personal memoir category. I didn’t write the book as a way to earn money or accolades, but rather as a way to share the tragic story of my family of three, which includes the passing of my son and only child. In 2020, I entered the book in a contest and was informed that it scored high but a few things prevented it from winning any prizes. Last year, I decided to spend more time and money to address the issues that were brought to my attention. Once the revisions were complete, I was prepared to put it out there again.

I’ve done little writing since publishing my memoir with no definitive answer as to why. My ultimate goal is to submit essays to literary journals and magazines in the hope of getting a piece professionally published. This is the one thing that still eludes me. Rejection is part of the submission process, so I simply cannot allow the word “no” to distract me from my goals. I’m grateful that my little-book-that-could achieved an award. It’s a validation of sorts, and something I hope will entice me to sit at my computer daily and write. I have nothing to lose and much to gain in the process. A huge thank you to The BookFest and all the people who’ve read and supported Carried By a Feather. I am eternally grateful.

Books of 2022

My 2022 reading list contains sixty-six titles. I read fewer books than the past two years, but that’s a good thing. As the pandemic lessened its grip, I was able to venture out more, which resulted in less reading time. I’m grateful to have reading as a lifelong hobby. Books have enriched my life in many ways, and I look forward to the ones that have yet to be discovered and devoured. I hope 2023 provides you with the time to lose yourself in a good book or two or twenty. Here’s my list:

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American FamilyRobert Kolker
Milk FedMelissa Broder
Apples Never FallLiane Moriarity
The First HusbandLaura Dave
Know My NameChanel Miller
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoTaylor Jenkins Reid
Five Tuesdays in WinterLily King
Eight Hundred GrapesLaura Dave
Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent and Navigating The New MasculinityPeggy Orenstein
Writers and LoversLily King
Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New LandscapePeggy Orenstein
Super HostKate Russo
Crying In H Mart: A MemoirMichelle Zauner
Salt In My Soul: An Unfinished LifeMallory Smith
LuckyMarissa Stapley
The Confession ClubElizabeth Berg
Sarah’s KeyTatiana de Rosnay
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and RedemptionBryan Stevenson
Oh William!Elizabeth Strout
Chasing Drew HastingsDrew Hastings
The Most Fun We Ever HadClaire Lombardo
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving, Loss, and HealingAmy Newmark
Death in Slow Motion: My Mother’s Descent into Alzheimer’sEleanor Cooney
Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and The Doctor Who Heals ThemRandy Christensen, MD with Rene Denfeld
All the White Friends I Couldn’t KeepAndre Henry
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us WholeSusan Cain
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly DepartingBronnie Ware
Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the WorldSharon Salzberg
Emotional Inheritance: A Therapist, Her Patients, and the Legacy of TraumaGalit Atlas, PhD.
From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of LifeArthur C. Brooks
In The Dream HouseCarmen Maria Mcahado
LessAndrew Sean Greer
Love In The Time Of ContagionLaura Kipnis
Unmasked-My Life Solving America’s Cold CasesPaul Holes w/Robin Gaby Fisher
Happy-Go-LuckyDavid Sedaris
The Wishing Year: A House, A Man, My SoulNoelle Oxenhandler
The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing LifeJulia Cameron
Summer LoveNancy Thayer
Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s MemoirNatasha Trethewey
I Am MalalaMalala Yousafzai
The Next Thing You KnowJessica Strawser
The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His PeopleRick Bragg
How To Tell A Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling From The Moth5 Authors
I Was Told It Would Get EasierAbbi Waxman
Adult Assebly RequiredAbbi Waxman
Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep SouthRick Bragg
Love, Lies, and Lemon CakeSue Watson
The Girls Guide To Love And Supper ClubsDana Bate
The MeasureNikki Erlick
The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your LifeSimran Jeet Singh
A Course In Miracles Made Easy: Mastering the Journey From Fear to LoveAlan Cohen
Remarkably Bright CreaturesShelby Van Pelt
On AnimalsSusan Orlean
Longpath: Becoming the Great Ancestors Our Future NeedsAri Wallach
Here & Hereafter: How Wisdom from the Departed Can Transform Your Life NowTyler Henry
The Gratitude Diaries: How A Year Looking On The Bright Side Can Transform Your LifeJanice Kaplan
We Never Die: Secrets of the AfterlifeMatt Fraser
Seven Days In JuneTia Williams
Signal FiresDani Shapiro
For You When I Am Gone: Twelve Essential Questions to Tell a Life StorySteve Leder
The EditorSteven Rowley
Lessons in ChemistryBonnie Garmus
Lily and the OctopusSteven Rowley
The Camino: A Journey of the SpiritShirley MacLaine
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital AgeSherry Turkle
The Stories We TellJoanna Gaines

Books 0f 2021

It was another challenging year on many fronts. As 2021 rolls into 2022, we are nowhere near the end of a pandemic that enters its third year. While I did get out more in 2021, I still spent a fair amount of time at home, thankful once again for 80 books that helped me pass the time, as well as entertain and enlighten me. And about reading as a hobby… A study of 3,635 older adults found that book readers had a 23-month survival advantage and 20% lower mortality risk compared with nonreaders.

So as we begin a new year, grab a seat, a book and sit back and lengthen your lifespan. Here’s my 2021 reading list, which includes 28 works of fiction, as well as memoirs, spiritual books, and a few self-help titles:

Just Kids by Patti Smith
My Wife Said You May Want To Marry Me by Jason B. Rosenthal
Girl Gurl Grrrl: On Womanhood and Belonging in the Age of Black Girl Magic by Kenya Hunt
Do You Mind If I Cancel (Things That Still Annoy Me) by Gary Janetti
Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler
The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler
The Best of Me by David Seders
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb
Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun
Tiny Beautiful Things—Advice On Love and Life From Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Empty: A Memoir by Susan Burton
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The Last Days of John Lennon by James Patterson
Show Me the Way by Jennifer Luck
Sanctuary—A Memoir by Emily Rapper Black
Why We Can’t Sleep—Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun
Chronicles of A Radical Hag (With Recipes) by Lorna Landvik
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Leave Out The Tragic Parts by Dave Kindred
After You by Jojo Moyes
Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins
Bookends by Jane Green
If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood by Gregg Olsen
The Apology by Eve Ensler
Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia De Rossi
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Paris For One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad
Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
That Bird Has My Wings: The Autobiography of an Innocent Man on Death Row
by Jarvis Jay Masters
Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness, and Making Miracles
by Marianne Williamson
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss
by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngoni Adichie
When Harry Met Minnie by Martha Teacher
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs
From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke
My Remarkable Journey: A Memoir by Katherine Johnson
Pack Up The Moon by Kristan Higgins
Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Notes On Grief by Chimamanda Ngoni Adichie
Open House by Elizabeth Berg
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross-Ross
Healing Lessons by Sidney J. Winnower, MD with Nick Taylor
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
The Astonishing Power of Emotions (Abraham Hicks) by Esther and Jerry Hicks
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks
There Are No Accidents: Synchronicity and the Stories of Our Lives by Robert H. Hock
Another Door Opens: A Psychic Explains How Those in the World of Spirit Continue to Impact Our Lives by Jeffrey A. Wands
The Lightworker’s Way: AwakeningYour Spiritual Power to Know and Heal
by Doreen Virtue, PhD.
Little And Often by Trent Preszler
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir by Tyler Federal
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand
by Megan Devine
Untethered by Julie Lawson Timer
Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age by Sanjay Gupta, MD
Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life
by Susan David
A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries 2003-2020 by David Seders
Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer
It’s Better This Way by Debbie Macomber
Staying at Daisy’s by Jill Mansell
Furnishing Eternity: A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life by David Giffels
Dalton and Grace: Whimsical Short Stories of Life in Charleston
by Bill and Ann Stevens
Barnstorming Ohio (To Understand America) by David Giffels
The Gate House by Nelson Demille
The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom
Smashed: Story of a Drunken Childhood by Koren Zailckas
37 Seconds: Dying Revealed Heaven’s Help by Stephanie Arnold with Sari Padorr
‘Tis by Frank McCourt
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
Spiritual Graffiti: Finding My True Path by MC Yogi
Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Books of 2020

2020 was a lemon of a year. Instead of whipping up pitchers of lemonade, I read. Lots and lots of books. The local library closed for about two months, so after plowing through the few loaned books I had, I began downloading books on my iPad via Hoopla, a free online media source. I also purchased a few books to add to my home collection. In June the library reopened, and I was once again able to borrow hard copies to help soak up time. By year’s end, my list grew to an all-time personal record—82 books! I highlighted my top five choices in red, which are split among the genres of biography, fiction, memoir, and self-help.

I wish you well as we begin a new year, and hope your days are filled with joy, good health, connection with others, and books.

Finding Chika: A little girl, an earthquake, and the making of a familyMitch Albom
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and MeAdrienne Brodeur
The Time KeeperMitch Albom
The Deepest Well:Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood AdversityNadine Burke Harris, M.D.
Onederland: My Childhood with Type 1 DiabetesJamie Kurtzig
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone?Lori Gottlieb
Images of America: GreenhillsDebbie Mills and Margo Warminski with the Greenhills Historical Society
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative BattlesSteven Pressfield
BecomingMichelle Obama
The Unbreakable ChildKim Michele Richardson
Finding Your Way Home: A Soul Survival KitMelody Beattie
Brother & Sister: A MemoirDiane Keaton
Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His SonRichie Jackson
The Two Lives of Lydia BirdJosie Silver
The Book of DelightsRoss Gay
Dear EdwardAnn Napolitano
Cincinnati Goetta: A Delectable HistoryDann Woellert
One Day in DecemberJosie Silver
Zen in the Art of WritingRay Bradbury
Signs: The Secret Language of the UniverseLaura Lynne Jackson
Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the DirtTodd Harra and Kenneth McKenzie
Beginner’s Guide to NumerologyJoy Woodward
An Abbreviated LifeAriel Leve
The Light Between Us: Stories from Heaven, Lessons for the LivingLaura Lynne Jackson
Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living DangerouslyJessica Pan
Everything is Horrible and WonderfulStephanie Wittels 
Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to LivingTim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle
This Could Change EverythingJill Mansell
Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic WorldBrook McAlary
Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults)Michael N. Marcus
A Different Kind of Same: A MemoirKelley Clink
The HideawayLauren K. Denton
Changed By Chance: My Journey of Triumph Over TragedyElizabeth Barker
Recipe For a Perfect WifeKarma Brown
Splitting the Difference: A Heart-Shaped MemoirTre’ Miller Rodriguez
Fire Season: A MemoirHollye Dexter
Let’s Talk About Death Over DinnerMichael Hebb
Green Nails and Other Acts of Rebellion: Life After LossElaine Soloway
A Leg to Stand On: An Amputee’s Walk into MotherhoodColleen Haggerty
Four Funerals and a Wedding: Resilience in a Time of GriefJill Smolowe
Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and UnderlivingCeleste Headlee
The End of Your Life Book ClubWill Schwalbe
St. Francis Society for Wayward PetsAnnie England Noblin
Her Beautiful BrainAnn Hedreen
Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending WomenEdited by Nina Gaby
Flip-Flops After Fifty: And Other Thoughts on Aging I Remembered to Write DownCindy Eastman
The FallenDavid Baldacci
The Keeper of Lost ThingsRuth Hogan
Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their LivesBrian L. Weiss, MD
We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and HumorMarika Lindholm and other authors
My Sister’s GraveRobert Dugoni
Bones Never LieKathy Reichs
Wild and Precious LifeDeborah Ziegler
Found: A MemoirJennifer Lauck
Secret Girl: A MemoirMolly Bruce Jacobs
Marrow: A Love StoryElizabeth Lesser
A Perfect ProposalKatie Fforde
Dead Guy’s StuffSharon Fiffer
RedemptionDavid Baldacci
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous ManMary Trump
A Cold TrailRobert Dugoni
UntamedGlennon Doyle
Writers and LoversLily King
I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a WomanNora Ephron
Life After Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort, & Community After Unthinkable LossJennifer Ashton, M.D.
Your Voice in My HeadEmma Forrest
The House on Olive StreetRobyn Carr
Bunco: A Comedy About the Drama of FriendshipRobin Delnoce
Past Lives With Pets: Discover Your Timeless Connection to Your Beloved CompanionsShelley A. Kaehr, PhD
Anxious PeopleFredrik Backman
Walk The WireDavid Baldacci
You Ought To Do A Story About MeTed Jackson
And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And LongerFredrik Backman
The Friends We KeepJane Green
The Buddhist on Death RowDavid Sheff
The Lost and Found BookshopSusan Wiggs
The Spirit’s Way HomeNatalie Fowler
Finding Freedom: Writings From Death RowJarvis Jay Masters
Britt-Marie Was HereFredrik Backman
Prozac NationElizabeth Wurtzel
No Time Like The Future: An Optimist Considers MortalityMichael J. Fox
So You Want To Talk About RaceIjeoma Oluo

Mother Earth Gets Her Day

In 1970, twenty million Americans came together on behalf of the planet, creating a day that pays homage to Mother Earth. Fifty years later, Earth Day is recognized around the world as its network has grown to 75,000 partners in 190 countries. There are many ways we can honor and respect our planet, not just today, but every day. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Use energy-efficient appliances
  • Purchase a fuel-efficient car
  • Vow to have at least one “no drive” day per week
  • Conserve energy and water: Turn off lights when not in use, be mindful of thermostat settings, limit your time in the shower, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth

Many years ago, the Prophet Muhammad said, “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.”

Mohamed Irshad was reminded of these words as the world came to a virtual standstill in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said this on April 1, 2020:

We fell asleep in one world and woke up in another.

Suddenly Disney is out of magic,
Paris is no longer romantic,
New York doesn’t stand up anymore,
the Chinese wall is no longer a fortress, and Mecca is empty.

Hugs & kisses suddenly become weapons, and not visiting parents & friends becomes an act of love.

Suddenly you realize that power, beauty & money are worthless, and can’t get you the oxygen you’re fighting for.

The world continues its life and it is beautiful. It only puts humans in cages.

I think it’s sending us a message:

“You are not necessary. The air, earth, water and sky without you are fine. When you come back, remember that you are my guests. Not my masters.”







Sun Day

It’s been a month of Sundays since COVID-19 began its swift spread across our land. Some of us are growing anxious, weary, even stir-crazy. Take a moment today to restart, re-energize, even reinvent yourself. As beings of light, the easiest way to do this is to spend time outdoors, soaking up the sun (and some vitamin D, too.)

If it’s cloudy or rainy where you live, bring the sun inside as you sing along with The Beatles. And yes, it’s ALL RIGHT.

“Here Comes The Sun”





What Will You Do With Fourteen Days?

The carrot has been dangled. May 1st has become the targeted date for many businesses to reopen. That’s fourteen days from today. Are you ready? And by ready, I don’t mean ready to head to your place of employment, get a haircut or mani-pedi, or dine-in at your favorite restaurant. I mean, did you milk the global pause for all it’s worth?

Did you spend quality time with family? Did you engage with nature? Did you find creative ways to work from home and/or help kids with schoolwork? Did you check off items on a to-do list? Did you learn something about yourself that you never knew? Are you making a concerted effort to change—change the way you think, change the way you speak, change the way you live, change the way you engage with your community?

If restrictions do lessen in the coming days, I hope you’ll take time now to reflect on all that’s occurred, not only in the world at-large, but also within your own neck of the woods. Jot down a list of things you’re grateful for, and then make another list of things you intend to implement or do differently in the coming weeks and months. Post these lists where you can see them and refer to them daily. We are humans, creatures of habit, resisters of change. We’ll need reminders so as not to fall back into old habits and routines.

I’ll end with a little bit of a nudge from Karen Lamb:

” A year from now you will wish you had started today.”








For the past several weeks, I’ve been using the terms awakening, change, growth, lesson, opportunity, shift, timeout, and wake-up call when describing our current global situation. Yesterday while texting with kindred spirit, Rita, a new word was interjected into the mix—Jump.

Jump is a verb or action word, and we need action now more than ever. Merriam-Webster has two very relevant definitions:

-to start out or forward-BEGIN   I would suggest that we are at the threshold of a new beginning, one with infinite possibilities for change and growth. And so, we must JUMP into it, which leads to a second definition:

-to spring into the air-LEAP   This is our “leap of faith,” which implies doing something or believing in something that is uncertain, but we do it anyway.

Let us remember we are jumping into an opportunity to rewrite our course, and we must trust that this edit is for our greater good. Ray Bradbury says it this way:

“Sometimes you just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down.”



Time: A Wish Granted?

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of chatting with my friend and spiritual mentor, Sandra. During our conversation, we exchanged our thoughts and perceptions about the current global situation, including how feelings, words, and actions create our reality.

We live harried lives, always running from one thing to another—work, school, extra-curricular activities, appointments, errands, caring for aging parents, yada, yada, yada. When discussing our incessant “busyness,” Sandra and I noted how people often bemoan a lack of time. We mutter things like, “I wish I had more time,” or “I’ll do _______ when I have more time.” Take comments like these, multiply them by the masses of humans who’ve uttered them, and BAM! here we are. The Universe is perfect, always listening and doing its best to answer our pleas and prayers. Our wish for time has been granted.

There are at least two significant observations and/or lessons here. The first is be careful what you wish for, and the second is best said using the words of William Shakespeare:

Make use of time, let not advantage slip.”