Tag: I’m it…Susan X Meagher is next…

Bev Prescott is playing with me. I love it when we girls get together for a game of tag. This weekend, I’m it – more on that in a bit.

First, a few words on Bev. An environmental lawyer by day and a novelist by night (and when she rides the train), Bev is a charmer. She has that certain je ne sais quoi quality like Mary Stuart Masterson did when she played Idgie in Fried Green Tomatoes: smart, funny, and endearing. She is the author of two books, Step Into the Wind and My Soldier Too, which are available all over the planet: google her and you’ll see. Or, you can go to http://www.bevprescott.com. Her latest enterprise is a book called, Blowback , and it is coming this summer. We became friends this past year and, meow, Bev has a cat named, Lilliput. I love it.

Okay, drum roll…now to what we “blog tag” tour bus people are doing. Imagine we are talking heads on the Writing Channel. Here are some questions Bev posed and here are my answers.

Numero Uno:
What are you working on? (As in writing)

Right now, I am taking a break. My sixth book, Spirit Home, is in the hands of a cogent editor at Bedazzled Ink and it will be published, I think, in June. I have had some eye issues which has forced me to take a break from editing and writing. So, I picked up the guitar and am trying to learn three songs:
“Country Roads” by John Denver (the chords are easy).
“Romeo and Juliet” as sung and played by Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. (Hard – but what a song, right?).
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin (chords are easy but you don’t want to hear me sing this one…see my dogs for details on this one).

Numero Duo:
How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

Well, this is my first nonfiction spiritual book. How does it differ…hmmm. It doesn’t really. I write as if I am adding my voice to the arsenal of knowledge and pontification that already exists. Nothing separates me from anyone else. It’s just my word choice and the way I say it.

Numero Three-o:
Why do I write what I do?

The same reason a painter paints, a bricklayer lays bricks, a carpenter builds, the seamstress seams (is that a verb?), a singer sings – it’s just a part of you that wants to evolve and you have to answer the call – otherwise, you die a slow and painful death from doing all the other crap you don’t have any interest in doing. Mine is vacuuming.

Numero Four-o:
How does my writing process work?

It works when I do as the great Ray Bradbury once wrote to do:
Relax. Don’t think. Write.

That, my friends, is it.

So, those are the questions and answers on the “tag you’re it” blog tour bus. Next up is my friend, Susan X Meagher. She has written a hundred books, okay, maybe a few less than that. I swear she must type at the speed of sound. It comes through her like she channeling Sappho herself. Maybe…hmmm…maybe Susan has a little of the Sappho in her. She lives in New York with her spouse, Carrie. I bet she knows:)

I love Susan and consider her quite the force in our writing world. She is on deck. Check out how she answers the four writing questions next week. Here’s her site in the meantime: www.susanxmeagher.com

Peace!

Ruth

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Jeremy Gentry: Heaven has a new Superstar…

On Friday, May 2nd, my former student, Jeremy Gentry, passed away. He was only 37. When I heard the news from his brother, Josh, in the parking lot of Martin’s yesterday, I was shocked, stunned, and I found myself repeating to myself and my partner: he was so handsome. He was just so handsome. What?

He was so beautiful. He was a ball of love energy. Jeremy’s thoughts, words, and actions contained the kind of love that rocketed through his heart to everyone around him. A supernova of love. It was as if God picked him out prior to his arrival on this planet and said, “Jeremy, you are going to show up and steal people’s hearts with how and who you are. People will gravitate to you because you are wise and your words carry an essence, a magic that will help people on their journey. You are a superstar and you will change the world with what you represent: love, joy, peace, verve, empathy and style. Jeremy style.”

I can imagine God saying that to Jeremy and Jeremy saying back to God, “Got it…Hurry up already.” And, beautiful young Jeremy did come and I am sure his parents and brother Josh and sister Amy always wanted him around. I can imagine he helped his mother and wanted her to do things and create books. He, I am sure, helped his brother find the right path and his sister, in some way, too.

I met Jeremy Gentry when he was a young teenager attending J.R. Tucker High School in Richmond, Virginia. I remember him clearly in my mind as if it were yesterday. His bright flash of a smile. His energy emanating my classroom with a verve and a flair that made everyone’s day brighter and better. Jeremy walked into my classroom and we bonded immediately. I, the closeted gay teacher…and he the young gay bundle of energy. I introduced him to John Irving and he immediately bonded with the character of Owen Meany. In many ways, Jeremy was like Owen – a small, slender yet muscular build. And a larger-than-life voice.

Jeremy found me a year ago. He found my website and sent me a note and we exchanged fond memories of our past together. His email to me was long and riddled with passion and a kind of poetic transcendental light that characterized his spirit, his soul. Jeremy was a gifted writer. I believe he always wanted to write the novel he was born to write. Yesterday, Josh told me that he was half way through his manuscript. This, of course, makes him an author. I should know. Once you write as many words as Jeremy can write, then it constitutes his novel of life and love and joy.

I loved and still love Jeremy Gentry. He is glued to my heart as many of the nearly one thousand students I taught. Jeremy stands out. He claimed his victory…no doubt on Friday. Now he is standing behind his parents, his brother and sister, and all of the people he touched and is rooting them on…every minute of every day. He wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s a man’s man. And, I will always cherish him for that.

I love you, young man. Now go…and change eternity so that we may join you one day and laugh and laugh and dance the dance.

You were and still are a bright shining star. We see you in rainbows, butterflies, music, and each other.

Love,

Ms. P.

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Trains are Thundering — Spirit Home is coming to YOU!

Trains are Thundering — Spirit Home is coming to YOU!.

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Trains are Thundering — Spirit Home is coming to YOU!

My spirituality group that meets on Monday nights is quite the band of traveling misfits. This, I’m sure, would make them laugh. We laugh a lot. A doctor and his wife, a nurse, an IT gal, a mystical mother, and an older couple who natter and nag at each other: one is a pastel artist, the other is retired and spends some of his days writing to prisoners in New York and telling them jokes. He is a card. I love them like they are my family and I barely know their stories.

We laugh a lot because life is insane. Our days of repetition are insane: checking email, texts, Facebook notes, Insta-blam of this and that. It’s the showering, the brushing, the shaving, the needy co-workers, the vet, the store and what the hell is for dinner? Then it’s the kids — the picking up, the dropping off and did someone feed the dog? Our days can be filled with this and, at times, if you are breathing and have a pulse, you may ask, “Why?” I do. I ask why all the time. I won’t get into the news or politics . . . I’ve gone rogue on myself . . . that is spiritual-rogue and it is booming, thundering like a train through me to you.

I was led to this group via my love for many of our spiritual leaders of the day — notably Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and others whose words have guided and shaped me and molded me. When I got to the Course in Miracles group, I was introduced to Helen Schucman and her cohort in miracle crime, William Thetford. I am reading her biography now and am amazed that a Jewish-Catholic Atheist could have scribed what she scribed from 1965 to 1972. The work has saved me.

So, two years ago, during a particularly difficult time in my life — I had lost a good friend to cancer and my gifted therapy dog, River, to the same disease. I was also losing my eyesight. I was losing two days a month to migraines. Something had to give.

I began to meditate in earnest and writing them down. It saved my life along with my new love for A Course in Miracles. One of my classmates said, “a miracle is a correction in perception.”

I know now, I will never be blind. I have my mind to thank for that.

Two years later, I am proud and elated to say that my sixth book is almost here. It is called Spirit Home. It is a nonfiction spiritual book told through the lens of anecdote and description. I use a train as a metaphor for spirituality and have written in stories so anyone who wants more information on spirituality and what this life means can find a springboard. A simple train to find a seat on. Spirit Home is it and my new publisher in California is only about an hour from the Foundation for Inner Peace. How cool is that?

Next week, I will be signing books and reading from a few of them along with my new one: Spirit Home.

So, on Thursday, March 6th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Artworks (320 Hull Street, Richmond, Virginia) I will be reading from Spirit Home . . . feed the dog first.

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A Course in Miracles: Conflict is Asleep – Peace is Awakening…

In A Course in Miracles, it slowly but surely–like a wise prince was once told–paints a vivid and compelling argument that has changed my course in the platitudes of relationships and situations and the events of life. I thought I was on course but I am afraid not. My ship has still not left my harbor. At 47, I am thinking I should have gotten to the first channel marker by now. Nope.

Here’s why I am anchored.

On page 468 of the student workbook — that’s me, back in school — the book lays out seven words I have become quite attracted to. It states very clearly that “conflict is asleep and peace is awakening.” What does this mean? Well, it means that peace is here. How cool is that, right? Peace on earth? Uh-huh. How do we know for sure? Well, my studies and my experiences (experience is key) are that when I do peaceful actions, like look lovingly at the flowers in the garden, or when I forgive a family member for not living up to my expectations of who they should have been, Jesus! or when I find a lost dog (my own) and don’t berate her or use malice, or when I am patient in line at CVS waiting for the elderly lady to get her eight boxes of candy canes and her box of wine and don’t pass judgment because I don’t drink anymore–breathe, Ruth–all of these tidbits create peace. Even just thinking peaceful thoughts means that we are all awake to peace.

The sandman: conflict’s drug of choice. We all fall asleep in our consciousness when road rage appears, or that bristle in our stomachs churns when someone is anti-whatever-you-don’t-think is right. Any irritant is an example of how I (you) are asleep. When we fight against anything small or large, it is a way of showing that we have fallen asleep. Just the other day, I was talking to a friend who went on and on and on about how that person did this to that person and then she did this and then she did that on top! I just couldn’t believe it! Can you? I thought. Peace. Peace. Her racing thoughts and emotional vomiting were a prime example of what we do daily at the office. Sound asleep. Her actions and words were full of conflict and fear and jumpiness. Unconscious on the floor. I forgave her for her sleepiness. It was all I could do because that’s all I am suppose to do. Forgive and Love.

Nelson Mandela’s jailors were asleep. When Mandela invited his jailors to the front row at his Presidential inauguration, I am not sure what they were thinking or feeling. However, the symbolic gesture of forgiveness to invite your jailors is akin to me inviting Anita Bryant over for a glass of orange juice. In my world, at least. Mandela was released and so were his jailors…released from the sleepiness of conflict. Had he done anything untoward to his jailors, Mandela, too, would have been still asleep. Conflict breeds conflict. It lives in our sleepy unconscious minds even though it does not appear that way. Which, of course, is a whole other lesson.

For today, during this time if you can take seven words and apply them to your heart and mind. Conflict is asleep and Peace is AWAKENING. I will put it even better. Just live as if you were awake in peace every step of your day. Awake in Peace. Three simple ones.

We have seven billion people or more on this earth. Some are very sleepy. Some are awake, rowing their boats gently down the stream. Today, I untether my harbored boat and go gently down the stream in the hopes I won’t forget and begin to beat against the current…float, Ruth, float.

On a personal note, I’d like to say that Nelson Mandela was still in jail when I was twenty-two years old and had my first poem ever published in the VCU newspaper’s literary section. It was a poem about him. A spin on the Lord’s Prayer called, “A Man Dela.” I wasn’t sure if they would take it…when I opened the paper in 1988 to see my first poem published, Madiba released me from my shackles of writing fear.

I pressed on.

Merry Christmas. Peace on Earth — for everyone.

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Perkinson Post: Led Zeppelin and Melissa Etheridge…

Writing takes a lot of internal listening but, sometimes, the music must go on.

Recently, I have found that I am going back to my college days and my first years of teaching to recover the music I lost. My nephew showed me a new free app you can download called “Music Maniac.” Free music. Okay. So, I downloaded some piano music from George Winston and a few songs by Elton John and one that I discussed in my book, Piper’s Someday: “Fool in the Rain,” by Led Zeppelin.

I have no idea why I enjoy this song so much. I guess it reminds me of the kinder, gentler days of my youth when–from time to time–my brother and I would actually get along and listen to music: his. Saturday mornings in my youth were dizzying with the speakers from our very inexpensive sound system vibrating the walls of the townhome where the hostages were me, my sister, and my mom. How she allowed the decibels to reverb our underpants off while making Bisquick pancakes, I do not know either. But now, as I listen to it and write this, I want to be John Bonham playing the drums (in my underwear) and be Jimmy Paige playing the guitar, sweat dangling from my brow. As for Robert Plant, I just want to wear his bell bottoms.

In my early twenties, when Melissa Etheridge hit the scene, it felt like I had come home to a hot, “Janis Joplin-like” sound and she was on my team to boot. Now I wanted my bra off. Hands in the air, screaming “yes, yes,”: maniac me. If you have ever seen Melissa Etheridge in concert, you know the kind of vibe she creates in two hours of play. It is cosmically orgasmic. You leave certain you can change the world with her and everyone there. Your body and dreams elevate way beyond the ethers of this world. You are sure that if heaven is like this, then let’s go there and get that party started. She’s the mistress of rock and roll.

I have an idea why I like Melissa. I can relate to her and her lyrics and I have dreamt on more than one occasion that I might want to pen one of her songs. Melissa…if you get writer’s block…call me. Index finger to my ear. Pinky to my mouth.

Truth be told. I think both Zepp and Etheridge do two things in their music. One is that they write lyrics that are true and different and spot on. The other is that they practice and practice and rehearse and tweak and cut and add. When they have it right: they deliver.

Like a good book.

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Perkinson Post: A Line by Marianne Williamson

When I got sober, I learned about doing the “next right thing,” in the rooms of AA where my friends showed me how to let go of me, me, me and serve others. One of my first sponsors told me that sometimes the next right thing was just going to the bathroom. Get up and make your bed, Ruth. Get on your knees and be thankful you never hurt anyone by driving drunk: dumbass.

Don’t overanalyze any of it. Give it over to God. She can handle it like most African-American women can.

Recently, however, I found myself in a severe slump and although I didn’t pee on myself, it was hard to surface from the crags of events that send us all over the edge sometimes — without a rope, not even a filament. My business had done well most of the year, but I am at a point where I re-thinking getting that part-time job in order to pay for my exorbitant healthcare. I have had an assortment of clients but nothing steady to keep my heart free from the shackles of worrying about financial security. The bills, the vet, the gas, food, the need for a new roof. The first mortgage — that lovely equity line, too…yahoo!

I’m sure I am talking to you. You out there in the same place I am.

Then I found a book, a line really, that saved me from thinking I was giving up the battle and ready to stand on the corner with the vets holding a sign (well-written, of course) about my plight. Prostitution is the one job I have not had. It crossed my mind but I don’t think I can stomach the dregs of working a truck stop. At least not yet.

Do the next right thing.

I went to the book store and picked up a book called the Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson. I’d seen her on Oprah and had liked her and wanted to read one of her works.

On Sunday night, I was on page 21 of her book. It states this, “If you cannot see this now — if despair and anxiety hang like a veil before your eyes, preventing you from mustering any faith in God at all — then in this moment lean on mine. One mind joined with another, regardless of their position in time or space, can remove whatever chains would find us and deliver us to that sweet, sweet realm where things come full circle and there is always a chance to begin again.”

I wept at the part where she said, “then in this moment lean on mine.” The words went straight to my heart and for the first time in many weeks, a writer from California (I think) saved me.

It takes a lot to save a big girl from Virginia. But, I put the book down and closed my eyes and imagined myself on a gurney in a dark room where Marianne was by my side. IV’s full of fluid called things like “Faith,” “Hope,” “Don’t take yourself so seriously,” were inserted into my veins and she just watched over my…held my hand…and helped me sleep.

We need each other.

The world needs more thinkers like Marianne Williamson. Today, I will pray for her and her family, her mission — through the airways of space and time, my words go to her.

Thank you, thank you, thank you — in an IV labeled so.

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