The Things We Keep Hidden

September 19, 2019 | Leave a comment

When I started writing The Oysterville Sewing Circle, I never dreamed the topic would go viral, almost overnight. My writing and research began before the watershed moment when Ronan Farrow published his devastating expose in The New Yorker. That piece unleashed a tidal wave of #MeToo discussions among women who had endured slights, sexism, and outright abuse for years.

Looking back, we now wonder why we were silent. When confronted with those uncomfortable moments at work, at school, in public, and in our own homes, why didn’t we speak up?

What I discovered while talking with women about their experiences is that we didn’t have a vocabulary for the syndrome. A boss offering a too-affectionate shoulder-squeeze? We’d just cringe and bear it. A colleague joking about our boobs, our asses, the length of our skirts…he was just joking, right? How about the frat boy (sorry frat boys, but you know who you are) keeping your drink filled and then wrestling you to the bed? Boys will be boys. The husband or partner who lashes out with a cutting remark or a touch that hurts? He’s had a hard day. He’ll do better tomorrow. We’ve heard all the excuses and rationalizations. We’ve all been gaslighted into accepting it as “normal.”

The soul-searing lesson I learned from my conversations is something I’ve always known but rarely voiced–if it doesn’t feel normal, it’s not. If it makes you uncomfortable, it’s his fault, not yours. If it’s physically or emotionally painful, it’s wrong and probably illegal.

While writing this novel, I found my voice along with the characters in the story. If there is one takeaway I hope readers of The Oysterville Sewing Circle will carry with them, it’s the phrase emblazoned at the bottom of the book cover: We believe you. We believe in you.

Know that you’re not alone. Know that help is out there. You can reach for it, or maybe it will reach for you. My daughter and my friend Ashley, who are younger and smarter than we ever were, added their own hashtag to indicate what every woman needs: #WithYou.

 

happy tattoo-versary

September 03, 2019 | 11 Comments

Nine years ago, I emerged from a difficult time in my life. During that time, I discovered how toxic negativity can be to a person. It affects you in ways you don’t realize, until you step back and discover the constant bad energy is taking a toll on your health, your psyche, your emotions–and your work.

I made a clear decision to invite only positive elements into my life. I called this project “The Year of Yes.” I made a firm commitment to reply “yes” to everything–no matter what the question might be.

I found myself saying yes to matters large and small. Yes to helping my elderly parents move to my town so I could look after them. Yes to rescuing a chihuahua puppy so Barkis could have a companion–and lookalike, bringing the now-legendary Lenny into my life. Yes to a multi-book contract with my publisher, including related yesses to audio books, foreign publishers and even a movie production company. Yes yes yes, it was all YES.

You won’t be surprised to learn that embracing the positive can be life changing. It opens you up to feelings and experiences you never dared to imagine.

Although I was happily single and determined to stay that way, I had to follow my own rule, and so I said a very small, tentative “yes” to a casual date. This led to more and bigger yesses, including an impulsive trip to Hong Kong where Jerry was working, a stay at the incomparable Peninsula Hotel, complete with Rolls Royces, a private spa and pink champagne.

Image result for peninsula hotel hong kong

Today is the 8-year anniversary of one of my most lunatic “yes” moments. I decided to have the word YES tattooed on my ankle. Happily for me, Jerry went along with the plan, and we both went to Ricky Tattoo in Wanchai, a district of Hong Kong. In the company of sailors young enough to be our kids, we submitted to the needle and thus sealed our fate.

me and the navy guys at Ricky Tattoo in Wanchai

​A few months later, I said the biggest YES of my life when I found a marriage proposal in a message in a bottle on a secluded beach in Australia.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Ltx4gPGXV_pUhBmb9nBcQCyuUPS0W3g3krJ2dXLsph7c=w1005-h754-no

Since that day, there have been other tattoos, and other adventures.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” –Helen Keller [note: The “at all” was added; her original quote omitted those words.]

Saying yes has worked out well for me.

Readers :: WHAT HAVE YOU SAID ‘YES’ TO LATELY?