Welcome to my new web site! I’m so glad you’re visiting, and I hope you’ll visit often. I’ve been writing a weekly blog for a few years now (would love for you to check out my Archives), but this is the first blog I’ve written for my new site.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about blogs that are mainly advertisements saying, “Buy my book! Buy my book!” I prefer blogs that actually say something that might offer some hope, help, or even some laughs. So, I’ve written about all kinds of things, ranging from reviews of YA books I’ve loved—to reflections on the writing life, mean dance teachers, and what not to say to someone who’s depressed.
Teens have always been my favorite age group to work with and write about. I’d love for my blog to evolve into a place where we can share concerns and ideas about how to cope with the challenges of growing up.
Like many of you, I didn’t have an easy time as a kid and a teenager. My mom was mentally ill, my parents got divorced, and my dad was a workaholic who wasn’t around much. When he was around, he had a definite script for his three daughters that had little to do with our dreams and passions. Our worth tended to be equated with how well we did in school and our acceptances into Ivy League colleges.
I was also born with a birth defect, a noticeable hemangioma (giant purple birth mark) above my upper lip. I had two plastic surgeries as a kid and another as an adult. It was tough looking different.
And of course, as a teenager, I got my heart broken by my first serious boyfriend who declared that I was “the most insecure person he’d ever met.” He was probably right.
I’m sharing the lowdown on my growing up years, because it left me with a lot of empathy for how hard it is to grow up. I had some really good things going for me—I wasn’t poor, I loved school, and I had a handful of close friends. But it was still hard.
My friends’ lives were no picnic either. I remember holding my best friend in my arms in the bathroom during our eighth grade dance because she’d come home to find her mother dead drunk, slumped over the kitchen table.
Another friend was trying to hold her mother up and take care of her little sister, when her father deserted the family to move in with his mistress. And yet another began a relationship with a guy who turned out to be an abuser. She married him shortly after our high school graduation, and it took her years to break away.
When I was in college during the height of the civil rights movement, I spent a summer living and volunteering in an African-American community in Atlanta. I went weeks without seeing another white person and for the first time, felt what it was like to be the token minority person in the room. I discovered that it was one thing to major in Sociology. It was quite another to see the world firsthand from the perspective of young people of color coming of age in a society plagued by deep-rooted discrimination and prejudice. This was a life-changing experience.
So, my growing up years have given me plenty of material as a writer. And in my adult life, I’ve worked with teens who’ve struggled with issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, deaths of loved ones, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, cutting, sexual abuse, and dating violence. Not surprisingly, a lot of these go together.
All of these experiences have led me to really value the power of supportive listening. And I’ve known so many amazingly resilient folks who’ve inspired me with all they’ve overcome.
I’ve also found that humor can get us through a lot. Laughing is so healing. I’m convinced that one of the smartest things I ever did was marry a man who’s outrageously funny. He helps me not take anything too seriously—especially myself!
Anyhow, I hope you’ll write me and let me know what you’d like me to talk about in my upcoming blogs. I’d love to be a supportive listener.