Don’t Let the Light Go Out.


“Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to bind us together
With peace as the song in our hearts.”
~Peter, Paul, and Mary, “Light One Candle”

Hanukkah

For as long as I can remember, Hanukkah has been one of my favorite holidays. There’s a warmth to it, a peace and joy, that fills my heart and lifts my soul. I have so many wonderful memories of lighting the menorah with my family, holding tight to the rainbow of ridged candles and watching as their flames danced from one to the other. Of spinning dreidels, giggling as they whirled around in a blur of color before tumbling to the floor with one of the four Hebrew letters facing up. Of seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they opened gifts, of excitedly tearing open my own, of gathering around the table during our family party to eat pizza, latkes, and doughnuts. Hanukkah is togetherness. It’s family. It’s love. It’s hope and faith and belief. It’s light.

And it’s a teacher, too. Here’s what the Festival of Lights always reminds me:

Miracles can happen, if we only believe in them enough. That oil in the menorah so long ago? It was only enough to last for one day, but its flame stayed steady for eight, until more could be found. So often today, we hear about the negative. All we have to do is turn on the television, pick up a newspaper, or scan the headlines online, and it’s enough to knock the wind out of us. This week, especially, the news has been particularly hard to take. And hearing about all these things … well, I don’t know about you guys, but it’s enough to make me want to lock the door and stay inside the house sometimes. But there are wonderful stories, too. Heartwarming ones. There are stories about holiday miracles, like the homeless man who wanted a family for Thanksgiving and got one. Stories about those who dedicate countless time and effort to help others, both people and animals, like the amazing bunny rescue I got Jasper from – they’ve found homes for nearly two hundred rabbits this year! Good is happening out there, too. And no, maybe we won’t all get the miracles we’re wishing for this season, but who knows? Maybe we will.

We can overcome the odds with strength and determination. The odds were stacked against the Maccabees all those years ago. Their temple had been seized. They were in hiding. They had many, many battles to fight. But they didn’t give up. They got that temple back and rededicated it. How many of us can relate? We all have our own battles, big and small. We all have our moments of wanting to give up, to give in. But if we keep pushing, keep listening to our hearts and following our whispers, who knows what we can achieve? I’d like to think it’s something far greater than we can even imagine.

A little light goes a long way. That light shimmered bright as the stars in the temple, even when it wasn’t supposed to anymore. The flicker held strong in the darkness. Something I’ve learned: for me, that light is my family and friends. It’s the people who offer a hand when I’ve stumbled, the ones who are there for me unconditionally, whether it’s to listen, to give advice and support, or just to spend time together, either in person or via technology. You guys are my light. Is that corny? Maybe, but it’s true. When I’m feeling down, all I have to do is think of the truly special people in my life and it brings back a glow. One light begets another. One flame helps the next grow. One person can help another in such important ways.

These are the things I remember when I look at the menorah now. Happy Hanukkah to everyone celebrating, and Chag Sameach!

Advertisements

Playing Catch-Up.


“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”
~Andy Goldsworthy

So, um … it’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve written anything on here. Whoops. I’m not sure how that happened. For as quickly as time flies all year long, it seems to move along at warp speed during the holiday season. It was just Thanksgiving, and now I’m sitting here and looking out the window at today’s fresh snowfall glistening in the re-emerging sun. It is the prettiest kind of reminder that winter’s on its way and a lovely backdrop as I play some catch-up with y’all.

photo(4)

After spending most of November planning out my new book, I was finally ready to jump into drafting last week! Not gonna lie, it felt immensely strange at first to be writing about characters other than Remi and Charlotte, but I’m almost 11,000 words into the book as of this morning and am having a blast with it now. My MC Eden is very different from anyone whose story I’ve told before, and I actually really love that. Her world is currently tumbling down around her, but what falls down can also rise up, and I’m excited to watch her rebuild, renew, and refresh her life. It’s going to be a fun journey to take. Beyond Eden, I’m quite giddy about the supporting cast: Eden’s grandmother Lillian (I have always wanted to write a grandma/granddaughter relationship), her soon-to-be best friend Serena, her parents Mariah and Joel, her love interest Wilson … it is an eclectic group in more ways than one, and I can’t wait to explore the dynamics further.

photo(2)

Speaking of Remi, look what I got for Hanukkah! The keychain’s hard to make out in the picture, but it says “write your own story.” I love, love, love them both and am so happy to have a Nantucket shirt that’s straight off the island. If I can’t visit there yet, this is the next best thing.

photo(3)

Totally worth braving Sunday’s snow (yep, it snowed Sunday … and today … and evidently again this coming Saturday) to finally see CATCHING FIRE. I was blown away by how wonderful it is. The acting, the sets, the soundtrack, the special effects … it was phenomenal from start to finish. I love that the movies stay so true to the books, and yet, at the same time, they’re easy to follow along with if you haven’t read the story (at least, it seems like they would be … can’t attest to that personally). This is my favorite of the books and now my favorite of the movies so far, too. Huge kudos to the whole cast for being so fabulous, especially Jennifer Lawrence. She is just crazy awesome.

DSC04477

Also crazy awesome? Nancy Lee Grahn. It is always such a pleasure to visit with her when she holds her East Coast events every other year.

Your turn: tell me what’s been up with you guys lately!

Happy Thanksgivukkah!


“Thankful for the blessing
And the lessons that I’ve learned with you by my side.”
~Kelly Clarkson, “Thankful”

Hanukkah has always been one of my favorite holidays. Flickering flames dancing atop a rainbow of candles in the menorah, spinning dreidels whirling around and sliding to a stop, latkes and pizza and donuts waiting on the table … it is a holiday of togetherness, a holiday of love, a holiday of warmth. A holiday of miracles. It’s a time to remember our ancestors, to think of that oil which lasted for eight days, its dazzling light refusing to go out. Because that oil? It did the impossible, and Hanukkah reminds us that maybe, just maybe, we can do the impossible, too.

Combine the start of Hanukkah – last night at sunset – with Thanksgiving today and you have something uniquely special. What better duo than miracles and gratitude? I know a lot of people wish that Hanukkah didn’t fall out so early this year, and yes, perhaps it does feel a bit strange, but the convergence of both holidays is beautiful, too. It’s such a lovely reminder of what’s most important. I’ll be spending time with my family today for one holiday and then again on Sunday for another, but I actually adore that. What can be better than togetherness? What can be better than appreciation?

Today and always, I am thankful for:

A family who loves me unconditionally and both supports and takes joy in my dreams. Friends near and far, who share their laughter and inspiration, who are the family I choose. Good health, because, truly, that is everything. Loved ones who aren’t here in person any longer, but who will always and forever be here in spirit and heart. The chance to watch dreams turn into reality for people I love. Warm clothes, warm meals, warm homes. A passion for writing that continues to fill me up with every moment, continues to lift me up, and the opportunity to live out that passion every day. The pure happiness of creating stories in my head and finding my characters taking up residence in my heart, these characters who have become my family and whose stories have become part of my own. The journey to get my books published, because even though it is an emotional roller-coaster of epic proportions, it has also been – and, I’m sure, will continue to be – such a learning experience, such a growing experience. A writing community that welcomes and supports, that has introduced me to truly incredible people and friends. Talented and dedicated doctors, police, and firefighters. Terrifically resonating music, television shows, movies, and musicals, all of which provide an escape and a motivation. Beautiful books that invite me into the authors’ worlds and resound with magic so far beyond their pages. Fuzzy socks, warm scarves, soft sweaters, cozy boots. The Jersey shore and Nantucket, which inspired SANDS OF TIME, and Nashville, which will inspire my next manuscript. The ability to travel, to see new places and experience new things. The ability to daydream, to close my eyes and view unseen places, unseen twists of beauty, in my head. The ability to take long walks and breathe in nature’s magnificence. Comforting chicken soup, steaming hot chocolate, and refreshing frozen yogurt. My laptop, writing journals, and the plethora of pens that splash a rainbow across their pages. The “moments like this” with my favorite singers, authors, and soap stars. General Hospital and American Idol, and the amazing people I’ve met because of them. Polar bears, red pandas, puppies, and all animals. Nail polish, plaques with inspirational sayings, picture frames and the cameras that capture the freeze-frames in times that live inside them. Perfectly formed shells, and not-so-perfectly formed shells, because sometimes there is beauty in the broken. Song lyrics and quotes that speak to the soul. The extraordinary and the ordinary that’s extraordinary in its own right. The memories we make and the moments we create. A past of experiences that still fill me with love and a future ripe with limitless possibility.

For hope and faith, serendipity and action, light and life. For, as Remi and Charlotte remind me to do every day, following my whisper.

And, of course, for friends like you, who make my world better just by being in it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and Happy Hanukkah to those of you celebrating. Much love. XO.