Life’s Storms: Internal or Otherwise


Dealing with the storms of life can either wear you down or reinforce your resolve to go through them and learn what you can.The photo above evokes the spirit of Chapter 17, The Second Voyage from my novel, Life Song: An Irish Odyssey. In this chapter, Owyn and his companion, Brother Ignatius are on a voyage up the eastern coast of Ireland. The Viking ship is commanded by Lord Aarvald, the earl and one of war chiefs of the ruler of 10th century Dublin. Owyn’s initial misgivings in accepting this transport are further complicated as ship and passengers deal with a sudden squall on the Irish Sea.

In this passage, I am reminded of just how often the circumstances of a day can force us into situations that we would ordinarily have passed up. I’m sure you have been presented with choices that make you uneasy. As the events unfold, you’re sure you should have declined and sought out some other, more comfortable solution. Take for example an argument with a family member. You sense that the subject matter will not become a reasonable or friendly discussion. Desiring to avoid the confrontation you try to make an exit only to find the way out blocked. Our defenses become useless as the tensions mount. Later you can look back and try to figure out the who, what, why of it. But when you are in the situation all you can do is defend. If that doesn’t work, a few well placed punches (fist or nasty remark) are all you can pull out of your ‘bag of tricks.’

The next day, embattled from the previous encounter, you may find yourself at work. Work’s a haven from thinking about family stuff, right? Oh no. Today is performance review day. So that day’s treat is a litany of your shortcomings, accompanied with the dreaded ‘verbal warning.’

It’s terribly difficult to keep your sense of self-worth intact as these types of encounters mar your life.  Some things you can’t avoid. Some things you should avoid. When you can not do so you are forced to evaluate a few things:

  • What have I been doing that brought [the encounter] on?
  • Was it deserved?
  • How should I handle this?
  • Is it [relationship or job] worth making amends?
  • Do I have to work things out?
  • Do I want to change?

The challenges – to our integrity, or being understood – need to be weighed carefully. Our decisions to stay the course or change direction is ultimately our own.

Thanks for stopping by! Warm regards, Sue





Random thoughts…but there is a point!

Tonight finds me weary but I want to share a really nice recent experience.  Saturday our writer’s group (Gulf Coast Writers Association of Fort Myers) had an exceptional speaker who gave us invaluable advice. Her name is Bobbie Christmas. Ms. Christmas gave us all some real succinct advice. Don’t you just love people who ‘cut to the chase'( which is an old Hollywood term derived from Westerns of the 1930’s.)

The high  points were:

  • Sometimes adverbs can be your friend.Warning: not always, though.
  • Write freely – don’t edit yourself until you’re done.
  • If you’re in the creative process hoping for a comfy passive income, by all means do dream on!
  • Don’t write in the same speech pattern that you speak conversationally. The reader may not get it.
  • Describe something so that the word picture equals what you meant when you wrote.

There were other things but overall those stood out for me. Essentially, always subscribe the KISS principle. Thoreau advised us all to ‘simplify, simplify.’ So did Bobbie Christmas.

So writers, artists, take heart! Keep your dreams alive. Just keep on keeping on. Warm regards, Sue

Never lose your sense of wonder

The Grief Never Leaves You

Master of Something I'm Yet To Discover

Woven grief

The grief never leaves you, you know. It lingers on, hidden from view but an eternal presence woven into the fabric of your being.

You move on. You accept that this is how life has to be from now on. Joy returns, new life grows and living can be good again.

But the grief never leaves you.

You realise this at times both obvious and unexpected. Anniversaries, holidays, significant family events… How could that absence not be noted?

It’s the unexpected ones that catch you, though. That bring forth the pain so suddenly it seems impossible that you could have moved on, that your life didn’t stop the moment they left you.

A song on the radio, a photograph, a name in a book. Reminders of a life taken too soon, of memories you shared and of memories you have had to create without them.

Giving away something that once belonged…

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“Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”

This has been a busy few days for me as I tackle items on my “To Do” list.  Seeing a project completed and the physical act of checking it off the list helps me sigh with relief at yet another item completed. It is how I keep myself accountable for my success. Well, at least it keeps you going while you work to bring your creative work into the realm of reality.

Best method I use is free-writing, without allowing that editor in my brain to hold up production. From my first typing class on an IBM Model D electric typewriter, that editor-in-my-head would have me stop to correct a typo, and critique every doggoned word that is brave enough to jump onto a page.  Secretarial training will do that to you.

Finding Flow was part of my coursework in Psychology. Mihaly Czikszentmihaly (pronounced Chick-sent-me-hi) offers the reader some valuable insights into the creative process. Check it out sometime; it’s not too hard to grasp at all.  All for now! Stay well and keep on creating!


Thinkin’ About Things

Hello! Just checking in for a few moments as I continue the Writing Life.  My publisher is helping put together a few resources to let people know that I’ve got a pretty neat story they just might enjoy. The latest challenge is to request book reviews. Like most people, I see the best quotable segments of a good book review on the cover of the book I’ve selected. Learning about the process is remarkable, to say the least.

A really good book review contains a work’s best and less than best (aka worst?) features. What the reader expected of the book colors a lot of it. After all we read to enjoy ourselves, to be informed or entertained. So I located a couple of book review models from UNC-Chapel Hill, and University of Indiana.  Aha! Now I begin to get it. It’s asking a lot to request a review, but without them no one would get their work off the ground.

There is also the requisite book signings, book fairs, and getting shelf space at the brick and mortar stores.  Apparently the distributors offer a book online first. Which is where mine is, but that’s good. You have to pay your dues in any endeavor. I get it.

My newest favorite author is Jane Kirkpatrick. She is an Oregonian and writes about real people who founded that territory after Lewis and Clark opened it up for settlement. Check out her website. She’s tops!  Past favorites are Loula Grace Erdman, Jude Devereaux, Daphne DuMaurier, Pearl Buck, Peter Tremayne, and Morgan Llewellyn.

All for now. Be well! Sue

Turner Classic Movies: Why I love it so much

Ever since its inception over fifteen years ago, this station  affectionately know as TCM has brought me countless hours of pleasure. Robert Osborne founded this now legendary entertainment empire. His passion for film history was at the heart of the entire endeavor. It provided an educational tool to people engaged in the current film industry. It brought yesterday’s stars and supporting actors to the attention of a new audience. It’s History at its best. They offer fan cruises, Film Festivals, you name it – they are finding new ways to introduce and educate on film from its infancy to the latest film from all over the globe.

Mr. Osborne and his co-host, Ben Mankiewicz, have given so many people the chance to see films we’ve never seen to myriads of old favorites. For me, it’s like Linus’ blanket (Peanuts comic strip fame). It’s been a real balm to me while I have healed in countless hospitals, recovering from surgery for one thing or another. When I needed respite from a weary day at work, TCM gave me an ‘injection’ of peace. I could go on. After all, I am Irish and am fond of saying that I can make a short story long on cue. Depends if you want to listen. All for now.  Regards, Sue

Life Outlook: My Worldview#1

It’s one of those nights when another “scathingly brilliant” thought crops up and won’t let you sleep without doing something about it. What do I believe and would anyone care to know?

For one thing, I believe that a person must “keep on keeping on.” With that said, what does that amount to? The word is perseverance. Everyone persists in their worldview/outlook as things happen to them in life. Feelings color our perception of life’s events. When I wrote about “Scars” I found that it’s true: the intensity of our original interpretation of a life event changes. We make choices to forgive (or not). We choose to carry a grudge in spite of how much it hurts us in the end. The remark “will it matter in 100 years?” helps when you try to let go of the anger and choose to forgive the offense. Forgiveness does not mean we’re letting the offender off the hook. We forgive for our own sake and to enable ourselves to recover. This way we can move forward in a more positive way. Trust me – enough has happened to me in six decades + of existence that it’s a good skill to acquire.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by! Regards, Sue

IrishCentral – the new Irish Diaspora Museum in Dublin

It’s Saturday morning, the only morning I have fully to myself. My schedule at work requires a portion of every weekday, now.

Scanning the emails on Google, I read about the new museum in Dublin. Jane Walsh authorized the item in the IrishCentral newsletter.  Hmm, wonder if she is connected to the John Walsh who gave the information on the death certificate for our Great-grandmother Bridget Shea O’Neil in the early 20th century.  They resided in County Waterford, near a company village named Villierstown. I know we have Dempsey, Rooney, O’Neill (or single “l”) blood ties. So, this article really jazzed me. Mine and my brother, Don’s fondest wish is to go to Ireland someday. We plot and plan and work toward that.

When I studied Irish Hitory at Lewis University in Romeville, Illinois in 2005 I learned about how our emigrants networked to get established in Chicago. It seems that the brewers set up bars/pubs in just about every then neighborhood. Then the emigrant would go to one in Chicago and find shelter and food, and a place to sleep on the floor until one of ward-healers hooked them up with a job. All immigrants are survivors and dreamers. The Irish became pretty darned good in ‘pulling up by their bootstraps’. We are a political lot, after all; witness the Kennedy clan in the 20th century. It was John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Job Corps program that enabled to get business and healthcare skills. The Job Corps Center in Astoria, Oregon paid for my college courses in 1969 – 1971.  Thirty-two years later, finding myself divorced for the second time, I enrolled at Lewis University. Those credits from the North Central Association that I earned were still valid and transferrable!!! My GPA qualified for the St. John Baptiste DeLaSalle scholarship. Thanks to the perseverance ingrained into our Irish ancestry, I graduated with a B.A. in History and Psychology.

So, you see, you and I are part of living history, even if the world doesn’t acknowledge our individual struggles.  All for now. Thanks for stopping by! Best regards, Susan O’Neill