Sunday, August 30, 2015

Find The Good by Heather Lende

Roger often brings me home "treats" from the library.  He knows that I seldom have time to peruse the stacks.  In fact, I usually only go to the library if I know what I need. So, his frequent "findings" are always a delight!

Last week, he came home with a real treasure of a book, Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-town Obituary Writer, by Heather Lende. Yes, you read correctly, "obituary writer!"  I was intrigued and delighted from get-go.

Heather writes about how being the obituary writer for her small town in Alaska brought her wisdom, which she lovingly shares in this book.  These are great life-lessons like, "Be sure your dog walks you, or Put on a costume now and then, and, one of my favorites, "Listen to your mother," to name a few.

In her telling of the lives of the people she knows, loves and respects, she finds the lessons that she relates to her own life.  She tells her tales as one would if they were sitting across the kitchen table from you sipping tea and reminiscing.  Never preachy, never judgmental, simply wisdom shared. Her warmth, understanding, ability to laugh at herself and compassion jump from the pages.

I highly recommend reading Find the Good!  

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review of Deranged by Nora L. Jamieson

When I was first asked to read Deranged, by Nora L. Jamieson, I was drawn by the fact that the promo for it said it was a book with three stories about three woman. "Each woman wrestles with forces, both personal and ancestral..." the letter read.  I was hooked.

Nora Jamieson takes the reader on a journey where paths cross, lives change, time merges and magic abounds. Her characters - Anna, Sophie and Louise - are alive and vibrant.  I know these women! 

I connected immediately with the use of "deranged" within the stories.  Not sure if this is a New England term or not (Nora lives in Connecticut; I live in Massachusetts.) but I have heard the word used many times over the years in the same context as her stories.

Nora's descriptions of the natural world are alive with color, motion, sound, smell and even the bitter/sweet taste of life.  The reader can get lost in the woods along with the characters, yet feel that they know the way home.  There is such beauty in her narration! I found myself rereading passages just to hear the words dance from my tongue.

I highly recommend Deranged to all, but especially for those who connect to Spirit, Nature and the eternal dance of Life and Death. This will be a book I return to through the years, knowing that another bit of truth will be waiting for me in between the lines.
 Nora L. Jamieson lives in Connecticut where she writes and counsels women and unsuccessfully tracts coyote.  She lives with her spouse, Allen G. Johnson, and their soulful dog, Roxie, and the sorrowful and joyful memories of four beloved goats and three dogs. You may visit Nora at

Friday, August 7, 2015

Thoughts of Vincent

Tomorrow, we will go to the Clark Museum to see the special exhibit they have on Van Gogh and Nature.  I am so excited! Vincent has long been my favorite painter of all time.  His Starry Night (pictured above) is "my" picture!  When I was little, I truly thought he had painted it for me.

At the beginning of this year, I picked the word "light" to meditate upon and use as a creative prompt.  When I think of Vincent's paintings, I think of his use of light and dark.  I haven't seen one in which he hasn't played with both the brilliant, bright colors along with the dark, and sometimes, broody ones. Vincent knew how to paint "light."

Over the years, I have honored my favorite artist with a poem or two.  Here, in celebration of seeing his work, in celebration of Light and Dark, in celebration of Vincent Van Gogh, are my poems.

Vincent’s Sky 
In a life, long before now, 
you painted swirling lines of fire, 
scattered across a landscape 
of purple and blue. 
Your palate alive with opposites - 
 Your brush creating words 
only the heart could read. 
Gifted master of untouched space, 
did you journey into the void 
 in order to bring me this canvas 
filled with waking dreams – 
 filled with illusory hopes - 
filled with the nomadic contemplations 
of a mind whirling into illusion? 
 © Linda M. Neas 2014 


I was just a girl 
when first we met.
Your blazing Sunflower mornings 
and Starry, Starry Nights 
filled my imagination… 

You took me far 
from the brick and pavement 
of the city… 
You opened the door 
to dreams. 

I was just grown 
when first I stood 
deep within the Olive Groves. 
Quiet conversations 
on the Terrace CafĂ© at Night… 
wind swept mountains and 
winding paths led me home… 
to you. 

© Linda M. Neas 1996 


Your work forms 
a kaleidoscope of emotions… 
Sunflower joy 
illuminates the soul, 
alone, like a white iris 
in a sea of blue, 
You stand… 
the sweetness of your soul 
hidden by the masses. 
The beauty of your touch 
fills blank space 
with whirling stars of light… 
winding through the groves of humanity, 
You capture images of light and dark, 
space and form, 
only to free them 
on canvases of perpetual vision. 

© Linda M. Neas 2000 


If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' 
then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. 
~ Vincent Van Gogh 

It all started in childhood, 
 as innocence melted to shame, 
that little voice of complaint.
"Why can't you be good?" 

By the time the angst of teen years 
 came roaring in on a wave of hormones, 
the voice had become a shout. 

"You Can't Do Anything Right!" 

As adulthood settled in 
 along with serious responsibility, 
 the voice was a raging roar. 


reading the words Vincent wrote, 
the light of self-recognition 
filled the darkness of doubt and self-loathing, 
opening windows and doors long forgotten. 

Words came tumbling out, 
at first in a frenzy, 
but eventually, in patterns 
that could be shared - 
 patterns that made sense - 
patterns that said, 
"You're a writer! Good for you!" 

© Linda M. Neas 2011