YOUR PAIN by Betty Lee

“Your pain is like a knife within my heart. It flows through me as if it were my own. And nothing can I do to make it stop. This heart of mine is heavy as a stone. May father time begin to heal your wounds. A little faster than he usually does. And let soft breezes in to clear your mind. To try to put it back to where it was. Before this nightmare pierced your soul. And left you lying sadly in despair. Your only sin was simply just to love. Another soul who needed your sweet care. What happens now is hard to say. For I am really not that wise. I only know one thing for certain. And that is, true love never dies.”

This is one of the most beautiful poems I ever read. I wanted to share it.


A story I would like to share with my readers. Enjoy.


“A woman was waiting at an airport one night, w
ith several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop, b
ought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop. 
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see t
hat the man beside her as bold as could be
, grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between
, which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene. 
She munched her cookies and watched the clock, a
s this gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. 
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, t
hinking ‘If I wasn’t so nice, I’d blacken his eye.’ 
With each cookie she took, he took one, too. 
And when only one was left, she wondered what he’d do. 
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh, 
he took the last cookie and broke it in half. 
He offered her half as he ate the other. 
She snatched it from him and thought ‘Oh brother. 
This guy has some nerve, and he’s also rude. 
Why he didn’t even show any gratitude.’ 
She had never known when she had been so galled, and
 sighed with relief when her flight was called. 
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate. 
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat, t
hen sought her book which was almost complete. 
As she reached in her baggage she gasped with surprise. 
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes. 
’If mine are here’ she moaned with despair, 
’then the others were his, and he tried to share.’ Too late to apologize, she realized with grief, that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.”


Americans love technique. Here in the states there are techniques for just about anything one desires. Techniques on how to make love, how to win friends and how to influence people. You can even find techniques for how to sleep better, how to relax better and how to write better. The problem arises when we become so obsessed with technique that we can’t seem to move beyond it.

A few years ago, a woman in one of my writing classes on technique brought up an interesting question. “Why do you think Jesus told parables?” she asked. “Parables are obscure and confuse the listener. Do you think he was using a deliberate technique?” The question had us all thinking that night and debating the topic out loud.

Jesus is known as one of the most brilliant storytellers of all time, but it is hard to imagine he was hung up on technique. Parables are of the beyond. They are a persuasion, an invitation to the mystical, the elusive, the esoteric. Parables are alive and probably the reason they still breathe today. I often think about parables – their purpose and appeal. That contemplation has helped me to realize a few things about my own writing. When my prose is too predictable, it feels wooden and dry. The poetry seems to be missing.

Some of the best stories I have read indicate a direction, a vague feeling or an ending that is not concrete. These are the stories that take on a life of their own. This type of writing takes me above and beyond the predictable, to that mysterious realm of the beyond. The following story is an example of what I am talking about.

“A man was traveling on his donkey one day. It was a long, arduous journey, and the man grew tired and hungry. With no money in his pocket for lodging or food, he decided to sell his donkey to a rich man he had met along the way. The next afternoon, when the sun was high in the sky, the man rested in the shadow of the donkey he had sold. The new owner approached and looked down at him with concern. ‘This is not good. You have sold this donkey to me.’ The weary man looked up in surprise. ‘I have sold you the donkey,’ he said, ‘but I have not sold you his shadow.’ ”

Illogical? Unpredictable? Are you wondering what happens next? There is no next. The story ends there, and we are left to ponder its meaning. Many writers today still strive for that logical conclusion. At times, I am one of them. Then I remember the parable. Jesus knew better. His stories were not always logical. They were not always predictable either. Through his parables he attempted to show us something of the unknown and then left us alone to wonder. His creative stories left spaces and gaps so we could breathe and draw conclusions of our own.

I am not suggesting for one moment that we start writing parables. Jesus was the master of that. But as writers who are learning to sharpen our skills, perhaps we could consider the value parables offer. Maybe, by adding a few hints of the transcendental along the way, we could challenge our readers to become more interested in merits other than logic and predictability.

So what if the ending to our story leaves the reader dangling. So what if it is unpredictable or not satisfying to all. If we leave some room for the unexplainable, perhaps that climate will invite our readers to feel the drama in a whole different way. Then maybe ‘our’ stories will be remembered, too. Long after they have been read and tucked away on some forgotten shelf.



Have you ever tried to solve a problem using only your rational mind? You know, those times when you use your accumulated knowledge – your school brain – to figure something out and no solution can be found. Sometimes the solutions we seek for the simplest things get lost in all of the knowledge, the theories, the commentaries, the arguments, and the opinions we acquire in a lifetime.

Have we forgotten how to go directly within – not via Rome – to our own inner source for answers to our problems? It seems in the madness of this current culture we have lost touch with the sense of our own presence – that indefinable place within us that we sometimes catch a glimpse of, but cannot explain or prove. That mysterious part of us that is proportional to wonder and awe that sometimes fills us, touches us and stirs us in ways that cannot be described.

I once read an Arabian story. It has stuck with me for years. The story is about a man who died suddenly leaving his three sons behind. This man’s greatest possessions were his 17 camels. In his will he left explicit instructions on how to divide these camels amongst his three sons. One half of the camels were to go to the first son, one third to the second son, and one ninth to the third. When the sons tried to do the math they were perplexed. If they followed the directions exactly, they would have to cut or kill some of the camels. None of the sons were willing to do that, but in those days a will was a will, and its instructions had be followed to the letter.

The sons decided to take their dilemma to the smartest man in the village. This man was a pundit, a mathematician. Many degrees had been conferred on him. Surely he would know how to solve their problem. When they arrived at his lavish home, he was sitting outside eating sunflower seeds. He listened carefully to their story and thought hard on the matter, but after several attempts, using sunflower seeds to represent the division of the camels, he could not come up with a solution. “They cannot be divided this way. You must cut them or kill them,” the man said.

Distressed, the sons left and did not heed the pundit’s advice. Instead, they decided to visit the wise man of the village. This old man was uneducated and had no training in mathematics whatsoever, but he was grounded in life and wise through years of experience. The three sons took the 17 camels with them and visited the man’s humble home. When the oldest son explained their dilemma, the old man stood up and laughed. “This is not a problem. It is simple to fix. I will loan you one of my camels and then we will divide.”

Within minutes, nine camels were assigned to the first son, six camels to the second son, and two camels went to the third. One camel was left over, the camel the wise man had loaned them. The man took back his camel and sent the three satisfied sons on their way.

I leave you to ponder this Arabian tale. It has given me a new outlook on finding solutions to my own problems. Whenever I am faced with a dilemma, I avoid the pundits, the authorities, and the mathematicians and remember the 17 camels.

Go within for your answers. Go direct. You won’t be disappointed.


When it comes to developing characters in a novel, we writers need to think about how relationships work and how they don’t work. Otherwise, our characters come across as flat, cardboard, stick-like figures. I was thinking about relationships and wanted to write down some thoughts on paper.

Nurturing a relationship is a nested process — a nurturing process of giving and receiving that includes effort on a daily, hourly, monthy, weekly, yearly, long-term and short-term basis. Sound like a lot of work? It is so worth it.

A relationship is one of those mysteries in life. The coming together of two individuals for the very first time is an incredible phenomenon, chock full of significance and possibility, and we need to pay attention. When was the last time, you or someone you know, met someone for the first time and consciously sat down and said, “I just met the coolest person. This is such a great chance to build something spectacular here. What can I do to nurture and protect this opportunity?” I’m willing to bet most of us don’t think that at all, much less say that. Maybe we should.

When two people meet, a brand new world opens up – an original and fresh starting point for each individual involved. This original meeting point is a significant juncture. It is unique, unlike any other relationship you have had in the past and unlike any relationship you will have in the future. The unfoldment is still unknown. It is alchemical and can go in many unforeseeable directions.

Each person brings their fabric to a new relationship — their hopes, their hurts, their beliefs, their desires, their feelings, their ideas, their laughter, their stories, their talents, their wishes, their demands, their emotions, their memories, their experiences, their philosophies, their sensuality, their sexuality, and so much more. The impact of the collision of two people coming together for the very first time is huge. Together, these two individuals can weave a beautiful and intricate tapestry.

One of the reasons so many relationships fail at this juncture is because of long-standing fear in one or both partners — fear of exposure, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of getting found out, fear of not being enough. Fear creates the immediate erection of walls with no doors and no windows. This lockdown leads to distorted giving to the partners in our lives. Lots of ideas for plot and characters there.

If you are lucky and have a healthy self-worth, you feel worthy of love and respect from a partner and give freely with no expectations. If you have an unheaIthy self-worth, you feel wrong — undeserving of love and respect, and you may practice wrongful giving. You give more to the partners in your life, but for all the wrong reasons. Confused yet? Stay with me. This is the stuff novels are made of.

Because you feel wrong, you give more to get more. To give for the right reason means to give with no thought of return. If a return shows up, that is wonderful, but the initial intent behind your giving was not to get something back. When we come from fear, we may start to practice wrongful giving because we need something to fill us up. You know, that empty spot. When a woman gives herself in a sexual way to try to fill up her empty spot, a man can sense this. We had a lively discussion about this topic in one of my writing classes. The following explanation was written by a man in that class, and I think he hit the nail on the head.

“Some women don’t give sex freely. It feels like they think they are losing a piece of themselves. It’s like they are doing me a favor or something, and it’s really confusing when that happens. It’s like a woman wants sex, but in the middle of the act, she holds something back. I feel like I am taking sex when that happens. I feel used, and I don’t feel like I received anything. It doesn’t feel fun or loving. It’s so messed up.”

Now, there is no better giver than a woman, whatever her motive may be. A woman’s capacity to give is vast. So she gives. A LOT. Why a woman gives isn’t always clear to a man, so when this happens the man thinks he deserves all of this giving or he wouldn’t be getting it. The man relaxes and tries to enjoy the giving, but if his partner is waiting for something in return and he doesn’t deliver, all hell breaks loose and catches the man off guard. This is a tough one for men because women always keep score. This could become one of my devious characters.

When giving and receiving are working to capacity, each partner gives freely with no expectation of getting anything back from the other. The irony is, they get everything back from the other. Each partner feels happy and full, almost burdened with happiness, and all of that happiness needs a place to go. This is where healthy giving and receiving kicks in. Think of it as a pendulum. It is something to strive for, and it is so natural once we get into the swing of it. Giving and receiving is a reciprocal process but only in its purest form.

Here’s what I’m taking away from all of this. Lose the fear. Unlock the doors. Throw open the windows. Tear down the walls. The momentum of giving and receiving continues as long as we remember to give without expecting something in return. That is what ends it. Every time. It is not what we get from a relationship, but what we give to a relationship that keeps us in the zone. No exceptions!

Remember ladies. When it comes to giving to the men in our lives, they don’t require very much. Here’s some good advice I found, and I’m passing it on to you.

“How to please a woman…love her, die for her, take her to dinner, miss the Super Bowl for her, buy her jewelry, pretend you are interested in what she has to say. How to please a man…show up naked, bring beer.”    –     Unknown, In Humor/Dark Humor-

It’s time to get back to my writing. I’m hoping to be able to flesh out my characters a little better now that I have given this matter some thought.


New post on Anita’s Haven

Who is SHE? – B. J. Tiernan
by Anita Kovacevic
Another amazing lady joining me for the ladies’ interviews in May is author Beverly J. Tiernan, a retired History teacher who never rests, author of the philosophical thriller Standing on a Whale and a beautiful histfic romantic life story Yield. Here is her take on my non-question based interview, and some of her exciting news at the end.

What do these words mean to you, Beverly?
When I see the word DREAMS, a little childhood chant comes to mind that has changed my life forever. The message hidden in this little gem is profound. ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT is the chant and here are the nuggets of wisdom it offers:
ROW, ROW, ROW means do what you do – go to work, clean the house, raise your children, write a book, etc. YOUR BOAT Don’t row somebody else’s boat, ROW YOUR OWN BOAT and leave everyone else alone. How do you row your boat? GENTLY, always with love and kindness. Where do you go? DOWN THE STREAM not up the stream against life, but flowing down the stream with life – trust and let go. With what attitude do you do these things? MERRILY, MERRILY, MERRILY, MERRILY Why? Because LIFE IS BUT A DREAM…This is the philosophy I live by.
I choose not to participate. I know what and who causes stress in me and I set up loving boundaries to keep those people and situations at bay. No drama, No trauma. That’s the motto I live by.
Ah, my favorite word in the English Language. It took me a long time to get it, now I have got it. To release – to let go of – toxic thoughts, toxic people, toxic relationships, toxic food, toxic beliefs, toxic judgements. As soon as we learn how to let go and RELEASE, life gets a whole lot easier.
Support is a funny thing. For me personally, I support those who support me. If I support those who do nothing to help me, then I become an enabler. When I die, I intend to leave my hard-earned money to those who have been loyal and supportive to me throughout my lifetime, not to those who have done nothing to support me or help me along my way. Buy hey, that is me doing my thing in my own boat. Please, don’t judge me. Stay in your own boat and I won’t judge you either. P.S. I do not feel this way about giving to the poor. Those who are helpless to help themselves are the exception.
When I see this word, I think of role MODEL. Role models are everywhere. People, animals, nature, our bodies. Some of my best teachers are not people, but situations and inanimate objects. There are sermons in stones if one will but listen.
There is no ISSUE. I observe people and situations and learn from my observations. I take my good from where it comes and leave behind what is not in harmony with me.
We each have come here on a sojourn, a journey. We have the right to fulfill that journey with no interference and judgment from others. Once we learn to free ourselves from the good opinion of others, stay in our own boats, and leave others alone in theirs, the JOURNEY is on.
Everything is relevant to something. Our task is to figure out what is relevant to us and to our own lives. Then we must decide what to do with it. As long as we move in love, I think we move in the right direction.
9. JOY
JOY is a choice. It is a state one can live in every day. For me, JOY comes from living in a state of gratitude. Giving thanks EARLY, LATE, AND OFTEN for all that I have. That’s what keeps me in JOY.
My HAVEN is my writing space. When I am writing, I am in a space like no other. Time matters not, Food matters not. Problems matter not. I am in a cocoon of inspiration that takes me away, kind of like a Calgon Bath.
And here is the bit of news from Beverly…

Wolf Schimanski and I have formed a writing partnership called TierWolf Creations. We are currently working on our debut novel. We have dubbed the genre as Metaphysical Thriller, but there are lots of surprises in this story, some that surprise even us. Wolf is the gold and I am the alchemist. Two authors who met along the way and have been given the chance to create something special together.
Yield – blurb
Marley Cover has lived in Lake Wales, Florida, since she was five.
While the country heads into the Vietnam War, a small town anxiety overtakes her, as she desperately searches for the man of her dreams.
Marley focuses on her career as a physical therapist and meets her first patient, Peter Rensen, son of a local ranch owner, who doesn’t wait long to propose marriage. Peter adores her and he’s a good man, but sparks are not flying for Marley. Longing for a family of her own, she eventually relents and says “I do.” She has every reason to say yes and only one to say no.
She meets that reason on her wedding day. His name is Warren, and he’s just come back to town. From the first touch of his hand, Marley is infatuated, but her decision has already been made.
The accompanying anxiety of the war looms on, as Marley struggles with the intimate impact of the burgeoning uncertainties of these troubled times.
Torn between love and loyalty, Marley faces some of the toughest decisions of her life.
Thank you, Beverly! Happy writing!
Anita Kovacevic | 08/05/2017 at 5:38 pm | Tags: author, interview, novel, women | Categories: guest artist, interview, kindness, news on the run | URL:

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Thanks for flying with


Maybe he was 8, or 7, but his day of reckoning had arrived. I was sitting in the 
coffee shop with my breakfast companions when the young boy’s sensuous actions pulled my attention away from our shallow conversation. He was too young to be drinking coffee, so maybe he was sipping hot chocolate. He held the cup close to his lips, as though the cup was warming him inside and all over. His movements were slow, tender and so sensual I could feel his innate pleasure simmer within myself. It was not the liquid within the cup he was deriving his pleasure from as much as the feel of the cup against his lips. He never once returned the cup to the table, and the adults sitting with him were too engrossed in their discussion to even take notice of his pleasurable pastime.

I suppose I was invading his privacy, but I could not stop watching. His eyes were transfixed as he remained vigilant to his task. He was making love to that cup, and I had never seen such tenderness in a boy that young. Through his actions, he could have invoked jealousy in the most accomplished of lovers. Whatever he was experiencing that morning, he was the master of his craft, and I think of him often, the unknown stranger – the sensual kisser. His actions still serve to remind me that as children we start out with wonder, passion and impulse – an eager sensuality that somehow we lose along the way.

When I read a romantic novel, I become instantly aware that anyone can do sex. Not everyone can do sensuality. Sensuality involves all of the senses, not just body parts. Sensual writing requires a commitment of time. It is an evasive art form for writers who get caught up in the heated rush of the sex act itself and forget about the rest of the senses. I like the way Michael Stipe explains it:

“I’ve always felt that sexuality is a really slippery thing. In this 
day and age, it tends to get categorized and labeled and I think 
labels are for food. Canned food.”

I sit back in my chair in the teacher’s lounge on my lunch break and get ready to watch the show. Eyes roll and burn as I bite into my cheese sandwich, and the conversation between several women heats up. “He’s such an ass,” one woman says. “He has no clue what to do with that meat whistle. After having sex with him, I feel utterly empty and alone. The spot that feels good to me is at least three inches from where he thinks it is. He’s useless to me.”

I watch good women transform before my eyes and ask myself, 
”Who are these people? Do I know them?” When the bell rings and lunch is over, I am thankful. I hurry back to my desk to jot down the latest 
quips and quotes in my writer’s notebook about how inept men are when it comes to good sex. Future writing material.

When women claim that men do not fulfill them sexually, that they know nothing about foreplay or after-play and are insensitive to their sexual needs, they are wasting their time. They could use that angry energy to communicate what is liked, disliked, and desired. If we want something specific, we need to verbalize it. We can play show and tell and openly communicate our sexual needs to our partners with our words and with our bodies. Telling is good; showing is better. Both are desired.

A friend of mine once said, “When you enter the bedroom to make love, you should leave your shoes outside the door. Inside those shoes you should leave your head as well. Only then are you fit for lovemaking.” By leaving our head in our shoes, I’m pretty certain he meant our guilt, shame, anger, beliefs, judgments, opinions, positions, conditionings. It was good advice, and I got it!

Another openly communicative male friend once shared that a woman he had been dating told him she enjoyed having her eyebrows massaged during sex. He said, “Who knew?” I must admit, that was a new on on me, but hey, hat’s off to her! She clearly communicated her unusual request, and her request was granted.

Open communication and freeing ourselves of doctrines and hang-ups not only frees up partners, it frees up our writing up, too. It helps up to give our characters a more sensual experience, one that our readers will feel. Purposeful communication. What is not understood is misunderstood. Remember, the road to sensuality involves all of the senses, and when our senses are alive, the written word comes alive as well. Even the fabric in our characters’ clothes starts to breathe.

Who knows, if we can learn how to do it, we might just hear someone whisper in our ear,

“Love, let me sleep tonight on your couch, and remember the smell and the 
fabric of your simple city dress, oh, that was so real.” Jeff Buckley, In Music

Otherwise, the best we can hope for in real time and books is –
“Love is 2 minutes and 52 seconds of squelching noises. ” – Johnny Rotten

Feng Shui suggests if you are unlucky in love you can put two ducks in your bedroom or place crystals in the southwest corner of your love-making quarters to transform your social life. I think it’s a little more immediate than that. If we help ourselves and each other to feel safe enough to allow our needs to be heard, sensuality will emerge on its own. It’s a win win situation. How bad can it be?

Standing On A Whale on Amazon


The sheets were crisp and white, just the way he liked them. The gauze blanket was tucked in tight at the foot of the bed. Being a military man, these things meant a lot to him. I hated hospitals and I hated visiting anyone in them even more, but there I was sitting at the foot of 
his bed. I found it odd and ironic that I was sitting at the feet of the man who had caused so much pain for me and my family throughout the years. If I had to think of three adjectives to 
describe him they would be self-righteous, disparaging, and condescending. Still, I was 
compelled to sit at his feet. I started to rub his legs through the lightweight blanket. As I rubbed, I began to feel the greatest comfort 
coming from this shell of a man who had always made me feel “less than.”

Hearing the death rattle in his body made me uncomfortable. My throat felt thick and I wanted to clear it. Then it 
happened. I moved to the side of the bed and took his hands in mine and held them. You can tell a lot about a person by looking closely at 
their hands. His nails had been bitten down to the quick and the callouses were astonishing. I 
had never noticed them before on this once strong, virile, and meticulous man who was now dying from 
cancer. Why were his nails so short? Why was his skin so rough? He was always the one on top of 
his game, impeccably dressed, always in charge. How could this be? That moment changed me 
forever. A tenderness washed over me that remains to this day. It was in those hands that I saw his humanness for the first 
time. I  realized that he was just like the rest of us – vulnerable, lonely, afraid, and uncertain. I watched my 52 year old brother-in-law give up his life that day, but he left his gift behind. His hands had transferred a 
tenderness into me that allowed me to forgive him for all of the pain I’d been through. It was a memorable gift.

There is an almost forgotten language that happens when we are in a natural or vulnerable state. This forgotten language is called tenderness. I am not sure 
if tenderness has been forgotten or simply buried under all of the baggage we carry around each day, but the desire for tenderness is deeply couched in our 
individual psychological makeup. Without its presence, we feel dry and wooden. Both women and 
men intuitively sense when tenderness is present and when it is not.

When no anger or hidden agendas exist, the 
dance of tenderness can possess us. Tenderness can be experienced through 
many channels – a word, a simple touch, a Band-Aid on someone’s finger, a glance from the eyes 
of another – but it is a direct hit experience when it is tasted and it can lead us to forgiveness. Tenderness is a 
meltdown. We are never the same once we experience it. All that exists and 
everything that matters is present with us during times of tenderness.

Tenderness is a magical 
process that transforms our base selves into something of true merit. It is the language of 
the heart and the soul and is therefore existential. Tenderness seems to be missing in our world today. I am on a mission to reclaim it.

“We win by tenderness. We conquer by forgiveness.”     Frederick W. Robertson

For book and review see Amazon

Decals Of Distraction

I had just left work reflecting on how satisfying writing can be. The usual route lured me
home as I drove down Bonaventure Boulevard. I came to the same stop light I have passed for
the last fifteen years, but today as I cast a glance out my right side window, something unusual caught my eye. In the lane right next to mine, a silver-grey car was wearing bullet holes on the driver’s side. I had to look twice to see if they were real. It was reminiscent of the final fatal scene of Bonnie and Clyde. As I studied the bullet holes closely I noticed that they had been professionally applied to the side of the car and I wondered why someone would go to the trouble and the expense to have bullet holes painted on the side of their car. Clearly, the driver was trying to make a statement, but what?

I studied the man driving the car. He looked normal enough. What was he trying to cover up? Was he hiding some flaws or imperfections on his outdated vehicle? If so,what a clever way to do it. Was he trying to draw attention to himself or to the car? Did he need attention that much? The light turned green and the man drove on never to be seen again, by me anyway, but the whole incident played with my imagination all the way home. I didn’t even turn the radio on that afternoon. In some twisted way, it made me think of how we put decals of distraction on areas of our own lives that aren’t working so well. Aren’t we clever to figure out a way to cover up our flaws and imperfections that way, or so we think.

There is a quote by Sondra Barnes that says, “Hoping you would love me for 
myself, I hid from you all of those parts of me I thought you wouldn’t like.” This quote reminds me of what I sometimes do with my writing. Hoping you will like my writing, I sometimes hide what I think you won’t like. It takes a lot of energy to hold down, to hide, to distract. I am still learning that when my characters want to be something, do something or say something I need to let them fly because I now know that some of my best writing resides amidst the flaws and imperfections of my characters.

Every once in a while, there is an edge that we reach when we are writing. I call it the rim. When we reach the rim, we must not stop there. It is imperative to push ourselves beyond the rim, to feel the discomfort and to allow our characters to do, say, and feel what they want to, even when it may seem taboo. This type of taboo writing can feel dangerous at times but it only comes once in a while and if we don’t push through and grab it when it appears, we lose the tremendous energy that accompanies it. I am finally learning to leave the decals of distraction behind and uncover this raw type of writing. It is where the energy lies after all and your readers will certainly feel it.

For book and review see Amazon

As Good As It Gets

When I was a child, I was badly bothered by obsessive-compulsive behaviors. I could never exit a store in less than an hour because I felt compelled to stop and look at every trademark and symbol on 
each can of soup, cereal box, or toy. If I did not stop and look at it in a certain way, I knew something terrible was coming 
down the pike for me. At night it was worse. I would have to check every lock and make 
sure it was in a perfect vertical position or I knew there would be no sleep that night. When I needed to go to the bathroom, I had to go an odd number of 
times; an even number was not in my reality. I made Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets 
look healthy and whole.

Even as a child, I knew that my parents did not have the 
wherewithal, financially or intellectually, to “fix me.” I had to figure out a way to survive. I 
did a lot of soul searching and decided to self-medicate with self-help books. It was torturous and troubling to have to read that stuff, 
but I was determined to get better. Eventually, I came to understand what I was up to. I was 
trying to make my ‘imperfect’ world ‘perfect.’ Over the years, I have learned to manage my 
obsessive compulsions, but they still rear their ugly heads from time to time, and when they do, I affirm them. I say, “Thank you for reminding me that you’re still there, but I do not need to 
act you out any more.” Then I walk away. I am living proof that we can heal ourselves if we are 
determined and resolute.

I understand now that there is no perfection in life. That is what 
makes life so delicious. That is what makes us keep trying. Once we understand that we cannot 
achieve perfection, we free up a whole lot of energy and the real work can begin.

The Greek word for perfect is telios, which translates “fulfilled, complete; fulfill yourself, 
complete the work you are called to do.” Sometimes we bandy about words without fully 
understanding what they mean. When we look at the root meaning of the word ‘perfection,’ 
we understand that perfection is a process, not an event. Because it is a process, it shows us there is work we 
have come here to do. My work is writing and teaching. Both are my calling and the two are intertwined in me. In order for me to do my work well, I need to allow myself the freedom in which to do it. I used to think that freedom meant doing whatever I wanted to do. Now I understand that freedom is much more than that. Natalie Goldberg taught me that “real freedom is knowing who you are, what 
you are supposed to be doing on this earth, and then simply doing it.”

Some of us are obsessed with writing perfectly. We are not called to write perfectly. If everything we wrote was 
perfect there would be no need for the writing process. We 
could all save ourselves a lot of time, trouble, energy, and pain. Most writers, and creative people in general, suffer much. When the book is finished or the project is complete, there is self-doubt. When we learn how to release self-doubt and stop seeking perfection, the very struggle, confusion, pain, joy, laughter, tears, and 
suffering involved in the process of writing becomes meaningful and worthwhile. Writing is cleansing, revealing and healing.

There will always be obsessions; there will always be self-doubt, but even Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets found a way to compromise on his obsessive behaviors to make his relationship work. Compromise is a good place to start. By giving ourselves the freedom to write fearlessly, we will find fulfillment, completion and wholeness, but that’s as good as it gets. We will never find perfection.

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