Aug 26, 2021

FRIENDS

 I’m 16, hopping fences, one backyard to the next. It’s Fall and the air is hinting that winter is on its way. It’s one of those nights when you can smell everyone’s dinner cooking. It’s dark out, earlier than the previous month and the kitchen lights are on. I can see entire families seated at the table, eating, talking, enjoying the end of another day together.


I see single people alone, watching TV, eating slowly, stepping outside of themselves, wondering, when this became their nightly routine and how they ending up alone.

I reach my house and enter the back door that we keep open because I am always losing or forgetting my keys.

There are meals prepared for the week by my mother. My parents are both working, and my brothers are nowhere in sight.

I warm up some chicken and rice and I am just about to chow down when the phone starts ringing, back in the day when everyone had a “land line” and if you were talking and someone else was trying to reach you, well they got a “busy” signal.

So, the phone rings, it’s my friend L, she is inviting me over, a bunch of us are going to hang out at her place. She is one of “the houses” everyone feels comfortable crashing at because her parents are never home and there is a fully stocked bar (which we drink from and then refill the bottles with water).

There will be at least a dozen of us, even though we have all just spent the entire day together at school, including the last period which we skipped to go to another “no parents home” house, the time apart has been to much to handle.

My friends are my family. They know everything. Our connection is sacred. They have ventured beyond closed doors, the family dynamics, the problems, the parents who are madly in love, the parents who can’t stand one another but stay together for the kids and the parents who have reached the point of no return and split.

There’s the sibling, the one kid in the family who struggles while the others thrive. The one who can’t seem to walk a straight line and is always taking detours. They serve as prey to the beast that is mental illness, addiction, the drink, the pill, the not being able to get of bed and the claws have dug deep. You care about that sibling as if they were your own. You can’t fully understand the battle they fight, not until you are older, not until you struggle.

You will come to the realization that we are all broken.





There’s the friend who has a car. Perhaps the one that comes from money and whose parents buy them everything, pay their way throughout their lives, never teaching them what it takes to put food on the table, to earn a buck. Their parents do them a great disservice – we all need to know how to feed ourselves and put a roof over our heads.

On the other end of the spectrum there’s the friend who has been working since they were 12, any job that pays, that may be back-breaking, dirty, long hours, but their parents have engrained a work ethic in them along with the knowledge they put into practice; even the small stuff adds up.

We have this thing, every spring, we drive to Plattsburgh for the day. It’s the 80s and that’s where you can buy Freihofer's cookies and Marlboro Reds. That’s where you eat American Flat Giant Slices of pizza in the food court while you flirt with the locals.

Our group of friends consist of males and females who have all made out at some point, even if some of us are just into girls or just into guys, it’s all interchangeable, trial and error because we want to make sure we are sure, and we want to try everything.

There’s that one single parent who hangs out with you and your friends. They may be the first person to take you to buy booze or share a joint or drive you up to the country and let you have the run of the place. You find yourself confiding in them in a way you cannot with your parents. They listen when you speak, they don’t judge but gently they direct you along the right path.

You sense sadness in them, that somewhere along the way they got lost and that makes you wonder what changed the course of their life?

The years go on and eventually the pack separates. Friends leave to school, or their parents get transferred to another city, tragedy hits and some are gone for good; a reminder to live the life you want to live. You venture out and clear a path, a career, a GAP year, a partner, a house, a life abroad moving from place to place, freeing a spirit that cannot be caged.

You meet others along the way, some become close friends, some acquaintances, some just convenient. There is nothing that compares with the love, loyalty and “I’ve got your back”, the gift of childhood friends – the roots beneath the ground, the trunk, the branches, and the leaves that fall but somehow always return.

I’m 55, it’s a fall evening, I am walking my dog, there's the scent of everyone’s cooking, the lit kitchens, the families, and that solo person at the table – well it’s me.

I’ve learned a few things like when to leave and when to stay. I’ve accepted the cards I’ve been dealt. I’ve watched love walk out the door only to have it march right back in again. I’ve experienced the loss of loved ones. I’ve stood by their bedside after they have gone to the other side and wondered, how is it possible I will never see them again?

When I’m tired and spent, I close my eyes and envision myself hopping fences, one backyard to the next until I land in the one filled with my childhood friends. They are smiling and they are young, healthy, without a worry in the world. It’s where I want them to be because it’s a place of love and acceptance, a place where I can be ME.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” Walter Winchell

Jul 22, 2021

VISITING THE HOME OF A LOVED ONE AFTER THEY HAVE PASSED

 

Have you ever returned to the home of a loved one after they have passed? To the room they most enjoyed? The study, the kitchen, the bedroom, the garden?
When you return to the stillness, the silence, you find yourself looking for them. You search the place from bottom to top, hoping for another chance to see them, hear their voice, touch them, laugh with them.
There's a hat or jacket or blanket or pen or book or laptop that they last touched.
Their scent is still in the air.
Something left undone, lingers on a desk or kitchen table.
They are nowhere to be found, yet, still, you remain seated, as if waiting for a play or show to begin.
You ask yourself the same questions that have been asked for ages, for all of time, where has my friend/parent/lover gone? Will I ever see them again? Do they know I love them? What was the last thing I said to them? What was the last thing they said to me?
And it goes on and on.
There is something comforting about visiting a place that was sacred to a loved one. There is something in the air, you can't put your finger on it but if you listen carefully, you can hear them telling you "everything will be alright". You can feel their hand brush against your back.
There may be a painting, book, photo that has been placed somewhere they placed it, because it meant something to them, and they looked at it every day.
There's a blanket or a piece of clothing that you wrap around yourself and make it yours because it was theirs.
There's a meal you shared at the kitchen table, a bottle of wine, a deep conversation that went on from day to night.
There's everything, everywhere, exactly how they left it in its place.
And as you sit there, in their chair, in the silence, in the loss, in the despair, you become a searchlight, desperately trying to find them amongst the storm, the wind, the rain, the shadows that outpace you and the cold heart fact that you will never see them again.
No matter the first thing you ever said to them, no matter the last thing, what really matters is all that happened in-between.
So, return to that place where last they lived, I mean really lived, not a hospital bed, not the end of the end, but the good of the good, the place where the light shined in and you most want to remember them, in their garden, at their desk, at the kitchen table, planting, writing, cooking, singing, discovering every inch, every slice of the Journey that was their life.
And there it is, that place, that chair, that painting, that photo, that story left unwritten, and there it will always be.

Martin's Place


In memory of my friend Martin Stone, a writer, a wanderer, and a ray of sunlight.

Jul 16, 2021

FOLLOW YOUR DOG

 

(Laurentians 2010)

It's 1AM, I can't sleep and neither can my dog so I grab a headlight and we go out into the night.
He leads me along a wooded path covered in memories of paw prints and explorations with dogs of past and present.
We are surrounded by giant pines and we can hear the whisper of everything that is alive and dancing through the forest.
We find a spot unobstructed by trees where we can sit and take in the starry, country sky.
A deep, warm silhouette of colours and shapes waltz their way across the canvas and every now and then a star loses its grip and falls.
I feel a wave of emotion come over me. I wonder where stars learn to twinkle and why some fall while the others stay in place.
I hold my dog close and kiss his head. I hold him never wanting to let go because my love for him is so great and our time together so brief.
As we head back toward the house, he nudges my hand with his head, barks and gestures. Suddenly, we are startled by a strobe of light racing across the sky. It reaches out and carries us for a slice of a second.




Shades of blue and purple, pink and orange join hands like a rainbow after a storm. The entire sky calls to us with a silent, soothing calmness.
I feel the presence of my dogs - all my boys - their spirits still very much alive, radiating like stars flowing in Rainbow Heaven.
I reach out to hug them and there within the warmth of their souls, I drift like a leaf in the wind never wanting to land.
Sleep well my boys and when I look up at the sky - remember to twinkle so I know you are there

May 1, 2021

GROWING UP IN WENTWORTH PARK AND AT BLOSSOM POOL

 

I remember the sound of the ball coming in contact with the bat. The wood bats had a hallow kind of smack, while the aluminum had a ping.

I remember the lamplights turning on, slowly, hesitantly flickering before reaching their full strength, the moths dancing in the warm spotlight.

I grew up in a small white house, along with my two brothers, on a one-way street called Wentworth.

The park was our backyard. It’s where we learned how to play basketball, baseball, hockey and how to look out for one another.

Our parents worked several jobs to make ends meet. We lived a simple yet fulfilled life. We were kids with 3 baseball diamonds, two basketball courts, a shack to play “wall ball” against, a jogging path behind Diamond 2, a playground beyond that, and our very first school, Wentworth School across the street, beside yet another landmark, Blossom Pool.

We had a neighbour who talked to the bus drivers, whose rest stop was in front of our house. His name was John “Babe” Learie. He also talked to anyone and everyone getting off and, on the bus, entering or exiting Wentworth Park (and he kept the squirrels well fed).

He had a unique way about him, including his many expressions such as “Is he doing his thing for Canadians?”, which he would ask when I was taking our dog, Casey for a pee. He also attested to the fact that “everything is better with coke” and he called me “Miss Moffatt”. He taught us all how to drive by the time we were 12 and he fixed our bikes, brought us to McDonald’s and always made us laugh.

Our father, who had little down time (between being an accountant, a radio broadcaster, a sportswriter, a restaurant reviewer (he swore there were no calories in cheesecake), a stadium announcer, a community minded person – The Annual Sports Celebrity Breakfast to benefit the Cummings Centre), liked to sit on his lawn chair on our back balcony, reading the paper and shouting “Hey, how are you…. (name)”, he knew everyone’s name and basically captured their life stories within a short and unexpected interview.

While other girls were trying on their mother’s make-up and playing with Barbie dolls, I was following my brothers and their friends around the park. I had a “good arm”, as my brothers would say and they often let me pitch around before a game.

I learned to play basketball, skate, ride a bike, build a fort, and even had my first kiss in Wentworth Park (I’m not telling).




Diamond 2 Dugout


Eventually, we all worked for the city, as Park Attendants. Mike, my eldest brother was the first one in the position and then as he transitioned to a career in journalism (Sunday Express or The Monitor, or both, I think he was 17 – born journalist – in the blood), my middle brother Chuck took over. I was called in for switch shifts (day shift/night shift).

It was a sweet gig. We used this wheel barrel contraption to create the baselines, we loaded the bases (literally), raked the sand and awaited the players. Once everyone was present, we were responsible for basic first aid and calling an ambulance in extreme cases.

When I worked the night shift, I got to turn on the lamplights. There was this giant panel, with handle switches. I had to use both hands and all my strength to pull down each one.

The best would be when Chuck would stick around and he would power on the lights, so I could be out there watching it all happen. It would be dark and then BOOM, lights from everywhere, players arriving, laughing, talking, so happy to be in the park, after a long day of work/school, whatever life they led.

Girlfriends, wives, kids, parents, grandparents, everyone came to see the ballgames back then. The whole community gathered, talked, debated, and cheered on the players. We knew everyone and most of our friends had grown up on Blossom, Wentworth, Davies, Palmer, Smart and onward toward Wagar, where we attended high school.

My father played in the Slow-pitch league, which meant, a softball was used instead of a fastball. It was also called Slow-pitch, because it was “slow”. My father played “catcher”, which may as well have been called, “talker”, because that is all he did. Although, it wasn’t all bad for his team because he did a good job of distracting the batter and even the umpire.

All the teams were sponsored and the players wore these really, cool, retro jerseys. There was Guaranteed Industries, Mandy Designs, Mitchell Lincoln, Future Electronics, jump in if you know any of the others!

Let’s talk about “Wall Ball”. Everyone thinks they invented the game but the truth is my brothers invented it, and so did the Marons, the Margoleses, the Gurmans, the Rosenbergs, the Nutcovitches, the Liquornicks, and all the families whose “batter up” graced those walls.

Sadly, the shack is no longer there but when it was, we drew a square on one end of the wall, put someone up to bat, pitched the ball at the wall, as hard and fast as possible and then watched it fly over our heads toward Diamond 1 (or 2 or 3). The batter actually had nowhere to run, basically if they hit the ball and it wasn’t caught, they stayed up at bat. The thing was, that it was such a popular game, you had to get to that side of the shack wall first, in order to play.



   Chuck and Me


Dogs were not allowed in the park, but Casey Cohen would have none of that! So, him and his brother, Chuck, decided to wonder into the park whenever they saw fit. One day, the CSL Patrol was out on a mission – to catch Chuck and Casey Cohen on the move. As the patrol car, entered the park, the emergency lights flashed and Chuck and Casey were caught “Yorkie Handed”, BUT the patrol person, had no idea, they were dealing with the Cohen family of Cohen-St.Luc and The Suburban Newspaper and Larry Fredericks and the small but mighty rock of the family – Elaine Cohen, who loved her Casey far more than…well all of us!

Casey was brought to court. He was in big trouble, that is until our entire family showed up and the judge (Segal), took one look at our 9lb Yorkie and another at our Cohen St.Luc family and set Casey free – “Not Guilty and never to be bothered again.”

In the wintertime, the boards went up, the flooding/painting and freezing began and we started the outdoor hockey season. For me, that meant, my brothers dressing me in goalie equipment (far too large for me to walk or see or be found) and taking slapshots at the net.

Other times, I followed them to a game and they told me to go figure skating instead. So, I met up with my #1 childhood friend/buddy – Karon Margolese of the Margolese family of Blossom Ave.

We skated, talked, laughed and then went back to her house and ate all the “cheesies” while her amazing mom, Sandra, made us hot chocolate.

In the Spring, the boards were taken down but there was a lapse between the time they were down and taken away by the city works. So, me and my brothers and our friends would drag a few over to the middle of the jogging track. There, the center of the ground gave into gravity and flooded like a river, from the runoff of the snow. We used the boards as “rafts” and the wooden sticks that held them in place as “paddles”. The water stank! It was filthy and we would throw each other overboard (freezing), get soaking wet and then run home to the great dismay of our mother.

There were these mesh nets that were supposed to stop any foul balls from landing in our yard or smashing my bedroom window. The only problem was, they had holes and the balls knew about those holes. My bedroom window was smashed (and visited by a peeping Tom who stood on Chuck’s outdoor weight bench, used a stick to slide open my blinds after poking a hole in the screen – quite ingenious actually – never figured out who it was but they left behind a foot print – the police came by – could not identify the foot and I’m still looking for the culprit), our hibachi BBQ was smashed (which meant my father could no longer burn the steaks or burgers) but…WE GOT TO KEEP THE BALLS!!!

The other summertime activity was going to Blossom Pool. Most of our friends were members there as well. We would spend an entire day, morning to night, swimming, playing champ, shuffleboard, volleyball and eating Squish Knishes (potato knishes, huge, hot, delicious, that were served on parchment paper and then we would either press down on it with our hands – standing – with all our might to see who could get their knish the most squished – even if it meant burning our hands – those really desperate to prove their point – sat on their knishes – I’m not giving any names) and never, ever, doing as instructed, when the announcement was made…

“NO RUNNNING, NO JUMPING, IT IS NOW FREE SWIM!”

And we hated hearing:

“ALL CHILDREN PLEASE LEAVE THE POOL – IT IS NOW ADULT SWIM.”

At which point, all of our parents would get in the pool, with their white zinc on their noses, and they would wade the water with their hands as if part of a synchro team, and just stand there in the water talking. I mean what was the point? It was the same thing they were doing on their lawn chairs and we could have been in there swimming and trying to push each other’s heads under the water.



Blossom Pool - Mike, Chuck and Me (topless)

Karen and I were not signed up for swim class. It was costly and our families were supporting 3 kids each respectively, so we just decided to show up for the first day of classes (with her cousin who was signed up) and take the classes anyway. The instructor did not take attendance or care who was in the group and we attended for 4 weeks!! That is how I learned to do the crawl and the butterfly and most importantly to tread. My parents often wondered, how I became such a good swimmer.

There were nights when a bunch of us would hop the wooden maze of walls that contained the property, so we could go for a real “free swim”. We thought we were so cool, lounging in the shallow end, listening to music on the shortwave radio our grandfather gave us. That was just the kind of thing you did when you weren’t wealthy enough to be off at camp or have a family cottage. We found ways to entertain ourselves right through the summer.

When I was in my 30s, in a long-term relationship that came customized with two amazing stepsons, I use to return to the park with them and our dog Buddy and we would play frisbee, wallball, do all the same things I did when I was their age. I got such a kick out of watching them make Wentwork park a part of their growing up experience.

Later, my nephews would hit the field, play their first game of baseball or just pitch the ball around with their Dad and Grandfather. Those were sweet times. Everyone was still around and the family was growing. We all appreciated the simplicity of being outdoors together and playing sports in the park behind our house.

Several years ago, I lost both my dogs within a month of one another. It was beyond painful. Buddy had grown old and suffered a stroke in the middle of the night and was gone by morning and Buster, heartbroken, and only 4 years old, got very sick and died of terminal cancer that had spread to all his organs. It was July, they were both with us, running in the woods in the country, it was August and Buddy was suddenly gone, it was September and Buster followed after him.

I felt lost. I couldn’t find my grounding. So, I went to visit my parents on Wentworth. My mother was preparing dinner in the kitchen, the cool of fall had arrived and the park was empty.

I hopped our backyard fence (that we had permanently damaged from lots of “hopping” over the years) and went to sit in the bleachers by Diamond 2. It was pitch dark, except for the lights coming from the back of the homes on Wentworth and Blossom.

I closed my eyes and imagined being a little kid again, playing sports with my brothers and our friends, running wild, without a care in the world. I thought about how all of our lives had turned out, marriage, divorce, people coming, people going, things that were easy to understand and matters of the heart that were beyond understanding.

I imagined the bleachers being full with everyone’s parents, siblings and others who came out to see us play, have a laugh, and join together as a community, a young vibrant one, such as CSL was back in the 70s/80s.

I opened my eyes and I returned to the present. I was older, I had triumphed, I had failed, I had found what I thought was my place, my seat at the table. I missed the simplicity of growing up in Wentworth Park and at Blossom Pool. I wished I could still hear the ping of the ball making contact with the aluminum bat, the hollow smack of the ball making contact with the wood bat.

I wished both my hands were pulling down those circuit handles and there would be a second of hesitation, then a flicker, then BOOM, the whole place would light up, and in the stillness, in that moment frozen in time, the moths would dance under the heat of the lamps, in the slices of rays, of a sweet time gone by.

Apr 18, 2021

EVERY PIECE OF EVERYTHING

 

I am walking along a path somewhere in the wilderness. I’m alone at first but then I feel someone’s presence, someone who vanished from my life.

I think about all the people I have met and loved, yet there was nothing as intense, as omni-powerful as the connection of which I speak.
Sometimes I wonder if some people are meant to only visit us once in our lives, because what they hold in their hands, their offering, is so sacred, so special that the moments of time, find it unbearable to hold onto them – to grasp them in their wholeness.
So, I am on this walk and I have that feeling in my gut and I come around a bend and there he is, that person who vanished from this earth we walk upon and for whom I have waited to pass to the other side, so he can visit me in my dreams.
But this is not a dream. This is not a hologram. This is not an illusion. This is him. This is what I have been waiting for, hoping for because I really never got to say a proper goodbye. I wasn’t there to kiss his forehead or wrap his hand in mine, our fingers entwined like when they grasp the wires of a fence that you have to climb.
He looks at me and smiles. He does not speak but his expression, gestures say, “I’ve missed you and although I can’t return often, or in any full form, I wanted to come back for a few moments and tell you that I loved you and that love I have carried with me wherever I have since gone.”
I want to tell him how I have struggled and how for me, nothing comes easy because I overthink, overdo and overexert. I want to tell him that the love and friendship and bond between us has never faded but it has also left me alone because nothing and no one can surpass that level of souls mating.
The spark has returned to his eyes. I know that when someone goes, that spark goes out, the eyes are empty, the soul has taken off on a new, different journey to a place I have yet to go. I know that everyone and everything that I hold dear, will eventually lose that spark as well. But for now, he is standing in front of me and I move toward him with the great hope that I can feel him, hug him, kiss him and hold him close.
I walk slowly, as if the ground below me may crack at any moment and take him away from me again. I reach him and we join hands and I feel his warmth, I feel the connection I have missed so very much.
He gently places his arms around me and I feel his love, his entire being, melt into mine. He pulls away for a moment while looking deeply into my eyes. He smiles, he touches my cheek and then he kisses my lips.

I feel an aura coming on, it’s like a panic attack, it’s like the inevitable truth is grasping me by the arms and tearing me away from him.
He starts to fade and there isn’t anything I can do about it except tell him I love him, I miss him and I hope he will return to the other side, every now and then to remind me of what it feels like to be alive; of what it feels like to love someone like no other.
I want to walk in the direction from whence he came but I know that would lead me to nowhere, so I turn around and continue my journey through the wilderness. The sun sets and the colours appear in hues of orange and purple and the stars find their partners and dance with them upon the sky. They hold onto each other, shine and twinkle; a lighthouse for one another, so they can always find their way home.
Then, they start to fall, one at a time. They fall so quickly that the sky empties except for two stars that continue in a never-ending waltz. I know those stars are ours and together we will dance, we will join as one when we meet again, coming around the bend.
And when silently, blissfully I will whisper in your ear, “You are every piece of everything to me”.

Jan 1, 2021

THIS IS YOUR LIFE

Whether you married, whether you divorced, moved to another city, adopted a dog, adopted a baby, had children of your own, never had a child, parted company with a childhood friend, bought a house, sold a house, lost everything, found it all over again, really loved someone, took that pill that made it all go away and then took it again, had a drink and had another, lied so many times you no longer know the truth, said things you knew you shouldn’t have said, kissed someone that wasn’t yours to kiss and then wanted so much more than that kiss, brushed against someone in the grocery store that you never knew and will never know but fantasized about them that very night, lost a parent – a sibling – a partner and were left with a space that will never be filled, hid in someone’s arms and melted away, left someone standing with their heart in their hands…

Some things stand out. The love you have for those who surround and love you. The career you have chosen and the passion you have for everything outside of those work hours – the art, the literature, the cooking, the tasting, the wet kisses, the hug, the hold, the wasted time that you thought was endless that always ends, the things you still want to do, the places you still want to go, the news of a friend being sick, the thought of that being you, the smell of a new car, the renovations finally done, the hands you hold, the chances you take, the moments you breathe, the seconds you panic, the hours that go on forever, the hours you wish would last, the person you miss and what you would say to them if they returned for just 3 ½ minutes.




                                   


Every chance that passed you by, every spark of magic that ignited your senses, every second, every moment you would live differently or the same, every thought you’ve kept to yourself, every choice you’ve made even when there was no choice at all.

This thing, this life you live, this and that, here and there, how it travels, how it flows is through the love you have for others not the love you have for yourself.

It’s the last thought you have before falling asleep and the first thought you have when you awake.

It’s the face of someone who has passed from this life that you see every time you close your eyes and it's the understanding that as your eyes open; you will never see them again.

Life is short.
Life is long
Life is sweet
And then it’s gone.

WAKE UP - THIS IS YOUR LIFE

Sep 14, 2020

LISA AUDREY COHEN - WRITING YOUR LIFE STORY

 


LISA AUDREY COHEN


BLOGGER – GHOSTWRITER – EDITOR – COPYWRITER – PHOTOGRAPHER – SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIST


 We all have events in our lives that imprint upon our memories. Some are happy, some are sad. We all have regrets of what was and what could have been. At some point, hopefully, we all experience and surrender to love; whether it is a lifetime commitment or a night of passion.


Our memories are sparked by the scent of cooking, music, returning to the place we grew up and seeing someone from our childhood, on the street, at the market, suddenly slipping back into our lives, leaving an impression.


While some of us walk a straight line, the job, the career, the partner, the kids, the house, others take detours. They travel the world, have various partners, never marry or have kids and move from one place to the next.


Often, we think the grass is greener on the other side, and perhaps in some ways, it is, but these paths we take, these choices we make, they bring us to people and places, where we settle in, build a foundation and a life that becomes our story.


As we remember all of the paths we have taken, we are able to place notes on a piece of paper, here and there, now and then, and from that we can write a memoir that others relate to, and that allows us to reflect upon all that has shaped and formed our lives, our beings.


For over 20 years, I have been ghostwriting/editing and creating photography portfolios for my clients, who want to share their life story. Some are in their twilight years, others are in the prime of their lives, careers, and all of them possess a slice of brilliance; whether they are entrepreneurs, surgeons, teachers, etc. They are from all walks of life and various backgrounds. 


Their life experiences are fascinating and through an intense interviewing process, I am able to sculpt and shape those memories into a story that becomes their published book.


In addition to doing all of the writing and/or collaborating, I BRAND my clients. I build a platform by creating their website, blog, social media channels and all of this is done strategically. I launch their book and guide them through the publishing/distribution stage.


My client’s books are distributed to online and brick and mortar retailers, across the globe covering a multitude of marketplaces.


I have created and written award winning blogs, Amazon Bestsellers and have booked radio shows, podcasts, Zoom speaker/presentations and other forms of publicity.


I photograph and manage the portfolios for their social media as well as their book covers.


I spend months working with clients, getting to know them through in-depth interviews, thus gaining an understanding of their stories. I approach this process with compassion, empathy and I learn so much along the way.


I walk beside my client through the entire memoir, development journey. It’s a beautiful thing, when it all comes to fruition and they are holding their book in their hands, knowing their story has been told.


It all starts with a conversation, establishing a rapport and conceptualizing a manuscript. Then we move on from there, step by step, word by word, to a place neither of us have been.


What’s your story?


lifeisyourstory@gmail.com


                                          


                                              SAVE A DOG AND A DOG WILL SAVE YOU


Jul 11, 2020

RUNNING WITH GHOSTS



I went for a run. The rain was falling hard. I came around a corner and noticed a  woman running toward me. She had an air of grace as she approached me with a big smile and asked if we could run together. I responded "yes" although I prefer to run alone. The thing was she resembled my late Grandmother and something about her rendered me curiously confused.

I only saw my Grandmother standing upright at the very beginning of my life. Shortly thereafter she started to fall when walking and experience tingles and numbness in her joints. She was diagnosed (as her late brother whom she nursed until his death) with Multiple Sclerosis; a merciless debilitating and unrelenting illness. It wasn't long before she lost the use of her legs and then her arms and all of her movement from the neck down surrendered to its wickedness.



Photo by James Wheeler



She spent over 30 years laying in a hospital bed unable to move. She passed away from complications of pneumonia and I thanked God for that pneumonia - it was the gift she had been waiting for - the way out.

So here I was on an early morning run with what seemed to be her ghost or spirit. My new friend's name was Joy and she had recently beaten cancer for a second time (although she commented "Next time - I won't be so lucky"). She spoke of her husband who had passed away suddenly on a business trip not allowing for her to say good bye. She had one child, a son about my age who had never married and lived with a 14 yr old Labrador Retriever named Annie. Annie could no longer walk and the Vet had suggested to Nate (her son) that he put Annie down but he refused to do so. Every day he carried Annie outside to do her business and every night he lifted her into his bed to lay beside him as she had since puppy hood.

Two years ago Joy was right back where she started, fighting her second battle - cancer had returned. She fought hard. At times, she felt as if she had already died.

When she spoke I heard my Grandmother's voice. Joy's eyes were my Grandmothers eyes and they were drinking me in; deeper and deeper to the point that I felt my Grandmother all around me.

We ran around the summit a few more times and then she said, "I have to go now. I wish I could stay here with you." Then she vanished as instantly as she first appeared. 

I made my way home and I thought of Joy, Annie and Nate. I thought of my Grandmother and I wondered if meeting Joy had been a gift? Why had she been running in the same place and at the same time? Why did she resemble my Grandmother in so many ways?

Maybe seeing my Grandmother suffer and have to live such a hellish existence, a punishment not warranted, a jail sentence without trial, gave me hope that in the end, she found a better place. A place of peace and comfort and dignity. A place that she so deserved to be during her time on this earth. 

I hope that Joy remains well. I hope that Annie goes easily and painlessly and I hope that Nate finds the strength and courage to let her go. 

I hope that anyone reading this who is sick and suffering finds a memory, a really wonderful one and relishes in it long enough to escape their pain.

I hope that if you've lost someone you loved, their spirit will return and appear suddenly, around a bend, looking for someone who runs with ghosts.

Nov 26, 2019

SURVIVOR AND WHY JEFF WON'T SEE ME IN MY UNDERWEAR



It’s Friday night and I am fully reclined on my Lazy Boy eating Miss Vickie’s Chips. I buy 3 different flavours and I mix them all into one bowl. I’ve substituted that for foreplay and so far it’s doing the trick. I’m watching Survivor (on demand) and the players are starving, sweating, dreaming of toilet paper, a burger, and fries.

They are at one of those obstacle courses and Jeff is shouting the instructions. They don’t understand a single word, neither do I and I have shelter, air conditioning and a mouth full of chips.

Now my Uber Eats has just arrived, I’m digging into my Cote St. Luc BBQ Chicken with those amazing fries (chips and fries = two sources of vitamin C in one night), there’s some gravy dipping going on and it’s the part of the show when those headless people demonstrate the obstacle course. Who are those people? How can I get that job?

Also, why is everyone always wet and how do they suddenly have blazers and fedoras and hip clothing? Is there a retro shop on the island? Is it fair that Jeff smells like lavender fabric softener and does not have to strip down to his underwear? And let’s talk about underwear. Why on earth are people taking off their pants? What’s wrong with a good pair of shorts?

My focus changes to “These chips are making me thirsty.”

As I make the heroic effort to get up from the Lazy Boy, I drop the Cote St. Luc BBQ gravy on my lap. Now this is a problem. I have not finished eating the fries (thus not fulfilling my vitamin C for the day) so I can either go to the sink and do a spot clean or I can just leave it there. I vote for just leave it there (and so did you).

It’s time for someone to go home (and for me to clean my sweatpants). It’s tribal council and everyone is confused, dizzy, dehydrated, starving, wet, cold, dirty and they are being asked to talk strategy, make a big decision.

At this point, I’m exhausted and frankly, I want to be voted off so I can make my way, hand in hand with Jeff to the resort, a boat ride away, where we get into a hot tub, talk about his dimples and where he has hidden the 1 million dollars (clearly in the sand, not a bank).





I want a room with a mini bar that contains $50 pistachio nuts. I want to sleep in a bed with a plush duvet and 20 pillows. I want to meet those headless people, apply for the job, and get refused because I’m tired, fed up and when I bend down, I say “Oye” (which means “Oye” in Yiddish).



I want a Pina Colada with an umbrella, the kind the bartender at Brickman’s Resort in the Catskills used to place in my father’s Strawberry Daquiri that my mother said he did not need, and he rebuked with “There are no calories in a Strawberry Daquiri”, a comment he also made about cheesecake.

I want a Cronut (donut + croissant = delicious @ Atwater Market) and I want to know if Jeff has a brother.

I want to know that once the tribe has spoken and it’s time for me to go, that I have searched for every clue, tackled every obstacle, lit a torch, watched a sunset, failed, triumphed, discovered all that life has to offer and that I have loved and been loved because that my friends, is the very essence of survival.

Jeff – call me.

 

 



Nov 15, 2019

IF PAD THAI FALLS ONTO YOUR SHIRT - DOES ANYBODY HEAR IT?



I’m lounging.

It’s 7pm on a Friday night. The work week is done. I reward myself with Pad Thai (uh huh...from the box).

I’m in my regular dining spot; my Lazyboy (digestion position - midway back). I’m watching TV while my dog watches me (he is familiar with my mediocre chopstick skills).

I’m thinking, “This Pad Thai is delicious. What a great start to yet another exciting weekend” and then it happens:

 The following is in slow motion…

noodles covered in tiny pieces of peanuts on way to mouth – leap off the chopsticks onto shirt

Everything stops – my entire world – as I fathom what to do next.

I could set my hand into “pickle claw” position and “pick” it from my shirt. I could remove the shirt altogether and change into another.

Aaaaa....too much work - so I leave it on my shirt.

I’m streaming “This is Us” so I know I am going to start crying at any moment and if I put it on pause then I’ll have to start crying all over again.

Then it occurs to me “This Pad Thai is making me thirsty.”

So I make my way to the kitchen to get an ice-cold beer. Of course once I get to the kitchen, I forget what I am doing there and my mind begins to wander (frequent occurrence)..."should I take the food off my shirt while I am near the sink or should I grab a beer and head back to "This is Us?"

Yeah, I do the sensible thing and I return to "This is Us" (while ever so carefully balancing the giant peanut crumb on my shirt). 

I settle into "this sure is going to be an exciting weekend" position and everyone on “This is Us” is crying. The father keeps changing age and eras - I don't know what is going on and I was only gone for 3 minutes.

                                             
Now I'm multi-tasking - crying, eating, drinking, carrying the crumb; when my mouth and the beer bottle miss their connection and the beer spills onto my lap.

Here are my options (are you still reading this?):

A – lean down low enough and just lick it off my sweatpants (yeah you’ve done it too).

B – get up and go to the sink and wash it off

C – aaaa…. Just leave it there

I go with C and continue my ritual.

“This is Us” is over and I’m ready to stream “Ray Donovan.” Now I think to myself – would any of the Donovans get up to wipe beer off their sweat pants?

Absolutely not - so I decide for the next hour I am going to actually be a Donovan.

Yeah, I’m covered in beer and peanuts and I’m chowing down and Ray is drinking and so is his father and all of his brothers and absolutely everyone on the show.

The excitement is building and it’s just a matter of seconds before Ray  is either sexing it up or punching someone in the face(or both).

I’m getting into it. Ray has taken off his shirt (the Lazyboy goes into “deep dining position”) and then whatever is left of the Pad Thai falls onto my shirt!!

I AM ALL “PAD THAIED OUT!” (I MADE THAT EXPRESSION UP – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED).

And just then, a deep thought (rare) enters the inner chambers of my clearly, disturbed mind...

“If Pad Thai falls onto your shirt – does anybody hear it?”

To which my dog replies:



"I DO AND IF YOU SWITCH TO ANIMAL PLANET, I WON'T TELL ANYONE YOU WERE LICKING YOUR CLOTHES."

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