Monday, February 27, 2012

Confessions of an Aging Writer

Please do not think less of me.  I lie.  No, not about everything.  My age mostly.  I have always lied about my age.  Way back when, it was such a kick the way I looked older.  That was so cool.  Little did I know that after I turned thirty, looking older than my age was not so cool.
Dressed to go out−makeup applied and hair freshly shampooed−I am convinced I don’t look too bad.  Then again, I am getting very near sighted.  If not for the extendable magnifying mirror, applying my makeup would prove challenging.  On the positive side, my ever-multiplying age spots would not be as noticeable. 
Since this is a confession, I might as well be brutally honest.  Glancing in the mirror can still catch me off guard.  Pausing to study my reflection, I pull back the loose skin on my face.  I pull tighter until my jowls disappear.  That makes my eyes look slightly misshapen but my face looks more like the face I remember. 
It is the weight gain, of course.  It is easier to believe that gaining weight in middle age is inevitable than it is to trek to the gym each morning.  We should be comfortable in our own skin.  I just never realized that I would have this much skin.  Like Bette Davis said, Getting old ain’t for sissies.
 A blonde since my teens, I had this crazy urge to discover the true colour of my hair.  My friends were horrified at the very thought.  As I explained to them, it takes a lot of energy to be a perky blonde.  It was the conception for years that blondes have more fun.  Well, I wasn’t sure if I needed all that fun anymore.
My stylist, unable to change my mind, hacked off my hair to a spiky length to ease the transition.  To my surprise and delight, my hair grew in TOTALLY GREY.  Everyone was shocked.  I liked it!  No one else liked it.  Not my friends.  Not my co-workers.  Not my husband.  I asked my son if he liked my new colour.  He looked at my hair before saying, Why?  Did you change it?  So much for that.
Many months later, my husband still had not accepted the grey.  I could tell.  I went to a new hairdresser.  My trusted regular had moved out west.  I asked for a few dark streaks for interest sake through my grey.  The grey hair that I loved.  She nodded her head as if she understood what I wanted.  She didn’t have a  ##$%  clue.
She unveiled my new do.  I would have shrieked in horror had my throat not been paralyzed with shock.  I could not even cry.  My face in the mirror paled and then became red and blotchy.  With shaking hands I pulled my debit card from my wallet. 
The car made the trip home on autopilot.  My husband and son stopped talking when I walked through the room.  They looked at me.  I know they looked.  With instinctive self-preservation they did not speak.  My expression alone stifled their comments.
Streaks? What streaks?  The near black hair was too awful for words.  I could not get rid of the colour.  Even washing my hair three times a day did not reveal a trace of grey. 
Let me tell you the worst of the situation.  I had lectured every woman within earshot that grey hair was natural and beautiful, and women should not obsess over a younger image.  It was far better to age gracefully with shining silver hair.  We were middle-aged women, after all. 
Naturally, horror stricken with my dyed hair, I could not look anyone in the eye.  I felt like a traitor.  I had actually influenced some of the women to go au naturel.  How could I face them? 
I wore hats and scarves each time I left the house.  I apologized for my look to absolute strangers; cashiers at the grocery store, the receptionist at the vet’s office.  I was utterly traumatized.  Only another woman would understand my anguish.
Returning to the hair salon, I demanded my grey hair back.  The stylists stood around my chair looking from one to the other.  They told me there was nothing they could do.  They pooh-poohed my contention that it would take years to get rid of the colour.  Having finally settled into a longer hairstyle that I loved, chopping my hair short again was not an option. 
Finally, after months of trimming (at a new hair shop), exposing my dark locks to the sun, and daily shampooing, what remained were streaks of different colours−with grey roots.
My new hairdresser, Giulia, understood my nightmare with the almost-black hair.  She suggested lowlights.  The results were pleasing.  I finally had the subtle streaks of interest through my hair that I had requested back on that devastating day.  This time everyone loved the new look!
Perhaps I look a bit younger now.  I know I feel younger.  I continue to lie about my age.  Only this time I add a few years.  They gasp and squeeze my arm before gushing, “You look marvellous, dear.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Write Soulmate

This is not the only lifetime you have spent together.  You first met in Ancient Greece. 

She spoke quietly but with conviction.  Her eyes moved beneath closed lids as she fingered the gold ring in her grasp. 

The psychic rivalled the best storytellers.  She had my attention.  Although I could not keep the scepticism out of my expression when she began the reading, my smirk soon faded.

You were a writer and as a woman could not get anything published.  Ah, yes, my novel.  I immediately thought of my novel.  Your lover gave your work to male friends who published it under their names.  

My writing??  Is this a coincidence?  How could she know?  Sceptics say that psychics read our body language.  What was I doing to reveal my passion for writing?

Was I really a writer in Ancient Greece?  Wait a minute, if I have been writing that long, why have I not mastered the technique of finding a publisher.  My novel manuscript sits at the edge of my desk, haunting and taunting.

The psychic went on to say that my husband and I lived several lifetimes together, including a time in southern Italy working the olive groves.  We were happy there.  We lived to an old age and our eight children settled in all corners of the world.  However, in that lifetime he was the female.  Good switchup considering the number of childbirths!

That evening, I shared this saga with Marv and we both had a great laugh.  So that’s why we love that’s why we love Italian food...ah, the passion...  We laugh; we cannot help but laugh.

In another lifetime in England− it was in 1890, or did she say1893−I wrote a newsletter or tabloid and ran a printing press.  My enthusiasm for writing kept coming through in the spiritual reading, as did my soulmate.  He was always there for me as he is today.  Well, there was one lifetime that he was not there.  I will save that story for another day.  In addition, she offered much insight into my childhood(s).  I will save that for another day as well.

Do I believe?  I don’t know.  It definitely gave me pause for thought.  We have all experienced odd moments.  Think about this.  Have you ever felt an instant connection with a person you just met?  Someone who could complete your thoughts, finish your sentences.  Someone you saw across the room that made your heart race a little faster.

Examine your own life.  With whom do you feel the closest?  Could he or she have been a lover, a brother, or a mother, in a previous life?  Have you ever met a small child that everyone described as being an old soul?  I have.  Have you ever been astounded by someone with an unnatural maturity and insight?  Think hard.

We have all met people that after a few moments, we feel like we have known them forever.  Have we?  Have we known them forever?

I think back to my first date with Marv.  After the first five minutes, during which time I felt the need to tell him that I was not looking for a relationship and that I− oops, sorry, another story− I did feel very comfortable in his presence.  It was a blind date.  One that we both resisted for weeks.  A mutual friend trying to ‘fix us up’.  That is so another story.

Nevertheless, I was astounded from that first date, how anyone in the world could think and feel the same way as I do.  We just clicked!  It was a magical moment.  Really?  Was it magic?  How many times in past lives had our souls united? 

By the way, getting back to our first meeting in Ancient Greece, Marv... er... Arsenios, or whatever his name was then, became my lover.  When I was a small child, my impoverished family sold me to an old man−or so the story goes.  Apparently, I remained bitter that my family would keep my brothers and sell me.  Family discord,and yes, another story.

After many years of being married to an aging man that I detested, Arsenios and I began an affair.  Hmmm...interesting.  I bore his daughter.  The old man−my husband−thought the baby was his.  I told you this psychic was a great storyteller.  Alas, my lover could not have me for his own and ultimately took his own life−or, like I said, so the story goes.

Now if my husband and I have a disagreement, I could say ‘oh, do we have to go through this again??  With the lifetimes we have shared we have surely resolved this already!’

 It seemed that her ultimate message was for me to be good to my husband.  He had done so much for me over my lifetimes.  Maybe my husband put her up to this.  Could it have been a calculated prank?  No, I am sure no one planned this to trick me.  Seriously, how could she know my connection to writing?  If it was a guess, then it was a good one. 

My husband does not believe any of this and as for me, I am just mystified.  Not believing and not disbelieving.  As I say, it was compelling.  I picture all these souls floating through our celestial hemisphere searching for their mates.  We all have soulmates but unfortunately, some of us spend our lifetime searching. 

If you follow my blog, you know that I do not profess being a good poet or any kind of a poet.  Poets surround me; the desire to express oneself in poetry is contagious.  On Valentine’s Day, I composed a couple of poems for my mate.  My apologies before I share them.  The first poem sounds like something off a Hallmark card.


A soulmate is a person

You cherish your whole life

The one who shares your triumphs

And holds you in the night

You are not afraid to share your dreams

You know he understands

For everything you hope for

Is shared by just one man

The next poem is a favourite of ours.  It will never make it into a poetry chapbook but I will share it with you.

Eternal Love

From the ancient ruins of Greece

Forbidden love blossoms

Soulmates destined to be romantic lovers

Terrestrial spirits soaring from one lifetime to the next

Life-force travelling timelessly through centuries of civilization

Re-uniting in the olive groves of southern Italy

Growing old together once again

Living, loving, procreating

Passion that knows no bounds

Souls that traverse the span of eternal time

Falling in love over and over again

The clairvoyant’s reading was entertaining.  I had never heard of a psychic going off in this direction.  Have any of you had an experience like this with a reading?  I would love to hear about it.

Are you, too, a wandering soul?  I look forward to hearing your experiences.  

Until we meet again...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Write On Lorna Pominville

Her name is Lorna Pominville.  Tenacious and capable describe her.  With the advent of her new release, Alpha! Alpha! Alpha!, there is only one word that defines her− fearless!

When you live your dreams

you’re answering your soul’s

request to be heard

...A Fearless Woman quote byJeannine Roberts Royce


At age fifty-five Lorna packed all her belongings in storage, said adios to the family, and embarked on an exciting and eventful ten year employ as a nurse on a cruise ship. 

Alpha! Alpha! Alpha! is a wonderfully candid account of her adventures behind the scenes of a luxurious floating palace. 

I was impressed and, yes, intrigued when I learned Lorna had worked the cruise ships.  Not only because it sounded like an interesting job but also because she accepted this position later in life. 

With her family grown and gone from the nest, she was off and

Lorna is charming and quick-witted.  Always a laugh bubbling just below the surface.  It is my pleasure to know her and now having read her book I know her a lot better. 

I caught up with Lorna and over an enjoyable lunch and pleasurable glass of merlot, she answered some questions I could not resist asking.

Q:  Lorna, in your book you claim to be five feet tall.  You don’t appear that tall to me but I won’t challenge you.  (laugh) 

Lorna:  I used to be taller.  (more laughter)  Until now, I never weighed more than 90 lbs.  I remember being thrilled when I reached the 89 mark.

Q:  I never realized until I read your book what was expected of you physically in your job.  Did your size not come into question during the hiring process?

Lorna:  No, a nurse accepts the same physical challenges no matter where she works.

Q:  I couldn’t help laughing when I read about you taking the large lady in the wheel chair down the gangway.  I could picture your little rubber-soled shoes lifting off the ground.

Lorna:  Oh my goodness, I thought we were going to crash.  (laughter)

Q:  Did you expect that being a nurse on a cruise ship would be a different experience?

Lorna:  Nursing is different even in different areas of a hospital.  I knew it would be different on the ship.  For one thing, I needed an ACLS (Advanced Cardio Life Support) certificate.

Q:  Obviously, you enjoy a challenge.  What qualities did you have that prepared you for life aboard ship?

Lorna:  I enjoy a warm climate.  I love to travel.  I had done some travelling−not a lot−but I had been to China, Hawaii, Spain.  A couple of cruises, as well.

Q:  You were a 55-year-old woman applying for a job on a cruise ship.  Was age ever an issue?

Lorna:  No, maturity and experience were assets.  I was physically fit and energetic. 

Q:  That’s a good thing.  You didn’t believe in using elevators, did you.

Lorna:  No, I was always racing up and down the stairs from one deck to another.  That was my exercise.  We had a gym facility for crew but it wasn’t practical for me to use it.  The minute I changed into sweats and got on a machine I could get a call.  We only had five minutes to respond to an emergency.

Q:  There are so many adventures in your book−your camel ride being one that comes to mind.  You live life to the fullest and it shows on every page.  You mention sampling the different cuisine; were you ever sick from food poisoning?  I remember you did not like eating eel.  (laugh) 

Lorna:  No, I was never sick.  I was always willing to try something new.  Sometimes with the language barrier, I wasn’t sure what I was eating.  (much laughter)  It was probably better that way.  Do you remember what I said about the snakes?

Q:  What struck me most in reading your account, aside from your positive attitude and confidence, was your hardiness.  I can’t imagine being alone in a lifeboat with the prospect of scaling a six-foot concrete wall without assistance.  I would have packed my bags and gone home long before that episode.  Did you ever consider leaving your job?

Lorna:  No, never.  In that particular instance, it was a drill and the tide had changed.  No, I was dedicated to my work.  There were times−there are times in anyone’s job−but I knew I could quit at the end of a contract.  When that time came, I always looked forward to my next contract.

Q:  What prompted you to write articles for travel magazines?  How did that come about? 

Lorna:  I knew the publisher of the magazine.  We’d gone to school together.  She heard I was working for a cruise line and she approached me.  I thought, oh that sounds exciting.  I wrote one article a month for a year and a half.

Q:   Tell me a bit about yourself.  Your life before hitting the high seas.

Lorna:  I was a professional dressmaker.  When all three kids were in school, I went back to school myself.  I completed my grade thirteen and went on to nursing school. Then university.  I would have liked to pursue a career in interior design or continue with my dressmaking, but nursing contributed more to the household income.  I enjoyed nursing.  I thought of becoming a nurse from an early age.  After working in Sarnia for sixteen years, I decided to make a change.  I was on my own, having been divorced for many years, and my children were married.  There were more nursing opportunities in London so I moved there.  I worked for seven years non-stop and continued my education at Fanshawe.  Then I spotted an ad in a nursing journal.  The rest is in the book.

Q:  Lorna, what is next for you? 

Lorna:  Right now, I am promoting my book.  I would like to organize some more book signings.  A couple of groups contacted me for speaking engagements.  That sounds like fun.  I keep in touch with a number of the crew that I worked with over the years and they are excited about my book and anxious to read it.  I have a request from South Africa that I am filling.  I keep busy.  I always have a project on the go.  I still love to sew.

Q:  What project are you working on now?

Lorna:  A bit of woodworking.  I am putting mouldings on the door in my condo.  (laugh)  I just want to dress it up a bit.

Q:  I am convinced there is nothing beyond your capabilities, Lorna.  I know everybody is anxious to read about your escapades.  Where can they pick up a copy of Lorna Pominville’s Alpha! Alpha! Alpha! Tales of a Cruise Ship Nurse? 

Lorna:  From the Honey and Locust, 180 N. Front Street in Sarnia, or from me.  Contact me at  I can send you a personalized copy.

Thank you Lorna.  I wish you much success with your book!  Cheers!!

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Write Habit

Hello, my name is Phyllis, and I have an uncontrollable urge to deface books.  Let me explain.  My whole life I have taken great care of my books.  I don’t leave them in the rain, press Cheezie crumbs between the pages, or slop tea on jacket covers.  And I never read in the bathtub.  Seeing a corner turned down on a page is like hearing fingernails across a chalkboard.  And it drives me insane when a book is left spread open face down on a table.  I always use a bookmark. 

But−and here is where the confession lies−every time I read a phrase or sentence that touches my soul, I want to circle it, highlight it, or put a star in the margin.  I know this admission sounds incredible but I fought the compulsion for a long time. 

One day, engrossed in an excellent story, I re-read a particularly eloquent phrase several times.  Later, I had the rare opportunity to speak to the author.  I told her how much I loved her book, and how that one descriptive phrase captured me early in the reading.  Which one, she asked with unrestrained interest.  (Authors love knowing exactly what words touch a reader.)  I faltered.  It was...well, it was when you described...near the front of the book...well, anyway, as soon as I read that, I knew I was going to love your book.  I was embarrassed.  I could not remember the exact phrasing.  Senior moment?  Perhaps.  At home, I checked the book.  No, I could not find the right page. 

Some authors express situations in a story so well that the reader is no longer reading, but actually living the moment.  I love it when that happens.  There are certain passages I read repeatedly for the sheer appreciation of the writing. 

Then it happened again.  I was reading a segment in a book that made me feel like shouting YES!  I FEEL THE SAME WAY!  My jaw tensed.  Unable to resist, I leaped to my feet and grabbed a highlighter.  I stroked through the words of genius.  I closed the book.  I flipped it open again and leafed through the pages.  There it was.  I re-read the words for immediate gratification.  Still, I felt bad altering the bound publication.

If you follow my blog, you know I have an ereader.  It will never replace the real thing but I have consumed several books so far using this convenient little gadget.  Let me quickly add that it is not the same reading experience unless you are just in it for the story.  The good news is that I can still highlight and make notes in the margins. 

If my librarian is reading this blog, do not revoke my library card.  I only write in the books that excite or inspire me.  When a loaner turns out to be a keeper, I buy my own copy. 

I received a book from a writer friend for my birthday this year−actually last year−well, just a few weeks ago.  It was a writer’s book and my friend confessed that she had not read the book herself but it looked interesting.  I offered to loan it to her after I read it.

Here’s the problem.  That night, comfy cozy beneath the bedcovers, I reached for my new book.  I was only into the book a few pages when I wanted to shout, AHA!  EXACTLY THE WAY I FEEL!  I let the moment pass.  A few pages later, I was nodding my head.  There were some great writing techniques along with other words of wisdom.  I told myself that the great advice would always stay with me.  Of course, I knew it wouldn’t.  I thought how handy it would be to just flip the book open and easily find the reference points. 

A gnawing restless feeling grew in the pit of my stomach.  I was very uncomfortable.  I forced myself to continue turning the pages, reading line after line.  My fingers fluttered.  I could not control the urge.  It was becoming a habit.  A bad habit?  You be the judge.

In the back of my mind was the thought that my friend would be reading this book when I finished.  What would she think of the brightly hued slashes on the pages of her gift?  I resisted−but for only another six pages.  I threw back the covers, raced down the hall and into the office.  Snatching a vivid blue highlighter from the caddy, I returned to bed.  I reached for the book.  In broad dramatic strokes, I marked through phrases, underlined sentences, and drew pictures and question marks in the margins.  I could have been tidier but I was in a rather relaxed position, and I was not wearing my reading glasses.

Part of me feels bad.  It is my book, though.  It is a workbook.  It is a reference book for me.  One of those motivational writer things.  And so, when I finish reading it, I will hand it to her, without excuse or apology. 

Maybe she will be pleased to see that I have made this book irretrievably mine.  On the other hand, perhaps she has a secret habit too.  Could her books possibly have personal musings and comments written in bright hues along the margins?  Maybe not, but I think she will understand.  She will take the book from my outstretched hand.  She will smile; pleased that I found the book enlightening and inspirational.  And then, before she tucks the book in her bag, she will idly flip through the pages.  She will notice but not comment on the brilliant blue highlights. 

It is a habit−the write habit!