Monthly Archives: June 2019

Hating the Endings of Otherwise Wonderful Books

This past week, I read two beautifully written young adult novels. Both feature a Romeo and Juliet trope which I also explore in my third YA novel, Leisha’s Song. Interestingly, both books star Hasidic heroines who live in Crown Heights, New York. In Like No Other by Una LaMarche, Devorah, described as “a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing,” gets stuck on an elevator during a hurricane with Jaxon, a boy whose family hails from the West Indies. The two fall for one another and begin meeting secretly. Told in alternating viewpoints, the novel movingly depicts the intensity and beauty of their relationship. Of course, all hell breaks loose when her family discovers their strictly forbidden relationship. Jaxon is brutally beaten up by Devorah’s brother-in-law and his friends, and Devorah is sent away to Hasidic “rehab” while her family plots to arrange an appropriate marriage for her. It’s impossible not to root for these star-crossed lovers, but at the end, Devorah can’t bring herself to leave her family and community. She dumps Jaxon and her consolation prize is to be “allowed” to go to college and postpone marriage. Likewise, in Eva Wiseman’s The World Outside, seventeen-year old Chanie is expected to marry as soon as she graduates from high school. She dreams of becoming a singer, a forbidden career. But when she meets David, a boy outside her tight knit community, he encourages her to pursue her dreams and helps her arrange [...]

By |2019-06-26T11:12:29-04:00June 26th, 2019|The Courage to Change, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Love, not Labelling

Friday night, I marched with a contingent from my Unitarian church in the Gay Pride parade in Louisville. This annual event is very special to me. It’s not only because it expresses my deepest values that we all have the right to be accepted and celebrated for who we are and whom we love. It’s also because it’s just such a “feel-good” occasion! There is something quite magical about folks of diverse ages, races, sexual orientations, and gender identities coming together to celebrate love in a hug-filled, colorful way. For a few hours, I feel as though I’ve stepped into a judgment-free zone. We are who we are—gay, straight, neither—and all have seats (well, make that floats) at the table. I couldn’t help but compare this experience to the one my husband and I had the week before when we attended an evening of cutting edge performances by artists who’d spent a year in a special mentoring program. The program’s theme was “Dis/Comfort Zones.” We’d come to support a former modern dance colleague, Theresa Bautista, who performed her brilliant solo, “I am a pretty girl.” Afterward, we wandered over to the art gallery where viewers were invited to add comments to white boards on what makes them comfortable and uncomfortable. My husband, probably the least sexist, traditional white male I know, not to mention being a strong supporter of gay rights, visibly drew back when he read some of the comments. One person wrote that what makes him/her/they uncomfortable is [...]

By |2019-06-19T10:57:32-04:00June 19th, 2019|Uncategorized|1 Comment

A Life-Changing Friendship

In what seems like a lifetime ago (well, several decades), I left my first husband, a really nice, well-to-do man. At the time, I had a young son and a job dancing with a small modern dance company that barely paid the bills. To say that my family members were appalled is an understatement. I was the one who’d managed to “marry well.” How could I ruin my life this way? And my little boy’s life? What kind of a person does something like this? Their judgements added plenty of fuel to the flames of my own guilt. Throughout one of the lowest times of my life, however, I had an amazing blessing—my dear friend and fellow dancer Connie. As we spent hours together each day commuting to the dance company we performed with, she listened, comforted, and never judged me. To this day, I think she saved my life. I’m incredibly grateful to her and feel such gratitude for our enduring friendship. Despite living in different cities during our post-dance company days, we’ve remained close and have supported one another through painful losses and celebrated together when we experienced terrific joy. (Our grandkids top that list!) We’ve cried together and laughed together. And as I grow older, I appreciate the blessing of our friendship more and more. The other day, I drove to Cincinnati to see Connie. Her beautiful debut picture book, From A to Z with Energy! recently came out. We lunched at our favorite bookstore, Joseph- Beth, [...]

By |2019-06-10T11:13:59-04:00June 10th, 2019|Friendship|1 Comment

Never Too Late

The genetic predisposition toward alcoholism and depression has threaded its way through generations of my family tree. While I have struggled with depression throughout my life, I was lucky to escape the disease of alcoholism. One of my sisters was not so lucky. But that’s not the end of the story—it’s only the beginning. This coming December, I’ll be traveling to California to celebrate a very special occasion, my sister’s 35 years of sobriety. She is one of my heroes, someone who literally hit rock bottom and turned her life around—in her forties no less. After 22 years as a raging alcoholic who endured everything that entails—troubled relationships, career derailments, financial struggles—she decided to do the scary thing. She changed her entire way of being and doing life. After many failed attempts to stop on her own, she surrendered and did her best to follow AA’s twelve steps. With strong support from the program, she’s not only maintained her sobriety but has built a successful professional career and this summer, will celebrate her twentieth year of marriage to a wonderful man. Recovery hasn’t been easy, but she’s done it. And I am in awe. Moreover, a second miracle recently occurred. After decades of struggling with this disease, one of her daughters, my beautiful niece, decided she’d had enough and joined AA. Her journey, like her mom’s, will be long and hard. But so far, so good. My sister reports that her daughter often tells her, “I can’t believe how much [...]

By |2019-06-04T13:03:02-04:00June 4th, 2019|The Courage to Change|2 Comments