Writing & Living ♥️✍️♥️🙏

Jan 6 hearings with Smooshie
Cape Cod
Cape Cod
NAMI is a great org
Cape Cod at Easter


The Grub Street Muse & the Marketplace Conference is rolling along, and it has inspired me to revisit this website!

I’ve been working on a book of short stories, and don’t have much to report, so will post some rando pictures! All taken by moi (unless I’m in it and it wasn’t a selfie).

Me and Dawn at the “Pit” reunion in Cambridge c. 2005 maybe – I never hung out at the Pit in Harvard Square back in the 80s and such, but have a lot of former cool kid friends- haha. Posting this because of the Bowery Poetry Club t-shirt – New York. Dawn lives in MN and posts cool yoga stuff (www.dawnengland.co). Her husband is a fab artist, Mark Schoening (www.markschoening.com)
This is my notebook doodle from a recovery conference some years ago. Sober people! Emotions!
This was taken a few years ago, and represents but only a small swath of a terrific collage. Downstairs is where the bargain and used books land, and is a lot of SQUEEEEE for book hoarders like yours truly.
This is before the Salt & Pepper Bridge got rehabbed and used to have a Longfellow poem across it. This might be 2007? Not sure. You are Boston looking at Cambridge, Mass. from this view.
This was posted in the window at the Grolier Poetry store in Harvard Square (year uncertain), and is a nice poem by Doug Holder.
Used to take Pilates in the basement of the Armory in Somerville and found Gloria Mindock and Cervena Barva Press this way – glad too!

Okay that’s the end of rando photos. Talk again soon!

“For the Win” – Stories from the Stage

Here is the episode with my story– really thankful for the opportunity & to meet all of the people behind these scenes who believe in storytelling, either by bringing it forward to cultivate others, or by doing it themselves- what a learning experience!

Season 2, episode “For the Win”

Chatted with my Dad this morning, as he’d taped the episode overnight. He added a nice tidbit- said that on her 90th birthday, the Senior Olympics officials told Grandma that she wasn’t allowed to dive anymore, to which she responded: “it’s my 90th birthday and I’m gonna dive,” and she did- TWICE! Also- Grams was a masterful Scrabble player right to the end- we played her at hospice & didn’t have to patronize and ‘lose’ AT ALL because she kicked our butts at a great game.

Really cute- my family texted photos of the show from their TVs, awww 🥰♥️🌟

Thanks y’alls!

What I prefer to do at the pool- chill out! Here in Vegas a few years ago, NOT diving- haha

Stories From the Stage- reminder, this Monday, June 3rd


Stories From the Stage “For the Win” promo vid

Have no idea how this is episode going to go when it airs, as that day was a whirlwind; but, beyond this new set of jitters, I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to be a storytelling hambone on the stage- can’t say thanks enough to the folks at MassMouth, World Channel, and WGBH in Boston.

Stories from the Stage, airing on June 3rd (& online)

Below is a selfie during rehearsals for Stories From the Stage at a taping back in March.
Got word that my story is airing on Monday, June 3rd at 9:30 p.m. EST, and will be online too. Nice!

Locally here in the Boston area, this is on WGBH, but I’m pretty sure you can find it on your local PBS station.

I enjoyed watching the other storytellers & hanging out with them, and have gotten into this show overall. They will have a 24-hour marathon on June 22nd with 140 stories.  Thanks to MassMouth, WGBH, and World Channel!

3 of my poems

I’m still a newbie to publishing, though read on many/many/many stages for over 20 years; so, I have to say- something about putting it all down for real is weird but hey. That’s what they say you do.

Here are 3 of my poems- thankful to this publication, Scarlet Leaf Review.
I really like a lot of these writers- they mostly seem like real folk like myself.




Public Speaking: Don’t Freak Out, it’s Okay

Public Speaking: Don’t Freak Out, it’s Okay [posted in October 2016 on LinkedIn]aaeaaqaaaaaaaaeiaaaajdywntk0ymfjltu3mdytnde0mi1hotrmltk3n2jmytnmmtzjza

To start, I am not an expert on public speaking in the realm of TED Talks for instance. I’m just a regular person who happens to get on stage sometimes. At first, I was doing poetry slams wayyyy back in the way back (early 90s) at the Green Mill in Chicago, which is credited for starting the slam movement. I was there in the early days, and learned a lot, maybe because the audience was tough and might hiss at a bad poem. That’s what this is about: how not to freak out in front of an audience.

Lots of friends and colleagues have expressed to me over the years just how much they hate public speaking. I get the feeling that many folks are beyond dismayed at the thought of getting up in front of an audience- not even having to do it, but the THOUGHT. Friends come to me for advice as I’ve done this sort of thing. Over the years, I’ve done slams, theater, poetry readings, companywide meetings, presentations for work, and other areas of public speaking.

The picture for this blog [taken by Dan Dahari] is from last week, when I did storytelling in front of a live studio audience for a recording with the Boston station WGBH, “Stories from the Stage” collaboration with MassMouth. That’s what made me think to share what I’ve learned over the years, because yes, I nearly freaked out on that stage.

Here’s what keeps that from happening for me, which might help you to not only hold it together, but to actually do really well:

  • Practice, practice, practice. You can use index cards, voice memos on your phone, video recordings, and other people. Get the material into your head, so when nerves kick in, you are solidly locked down on your message. When your nerves want to drop course, the rehearsals keep you from losing your mind.
  • Scan the room and look at people. You will want to look down, up, or vaguely into space, but a good connection helps. Don’t freak out about these people. Pretend they are friends and want to like you.
  • Beforehand, like an hour or two before, drink water (or hot tea if your voice is dry), and do vocal exercises like saying “yellow leather/red leather” over and over, so that you don’t mumble or sound pasty into the microphone.
  • Breathe from your diaphragm and project to the back of the room. Your voice can get nervous and strained, which you can hear when recording yourself on voice memos, so be sure to breathe and pull from your center, not your tight, nervous throat. Stand tall and open up your chest.
  • When alone and doing your rehearsals, put on a song and dance in an exaggerated manner. You will probably feel ridiculous, but what you’re doing here is loosening up your nervous, tight body. When you get in front of the microphone, this body memory helps you from becoming a stiff rock statue.
  • Take your time. But don’t take up too much time. Speak so that people can understand you, but don’t spend too long on any one point, because to be honest, it’s a short-attention span kind of world. I try to keep my work fresh and to the point. Have some meaning in there, not just words. Connect to your material.
  • Alternate your voice. Don’t drone. Go up and down, emphasize certain points, be yourself as if talking to a trusted friend, be enthusiastic. If you are boring yourself in the middle of your own story, then switch it up quickly, and think of something to bring people in closer to you. Let your guard down and relax. Remember: people are on your side. If they aren’t, who cares- the negativos are not your focus.
  • If you start to freak out, just be cool. Keep your head together. If you get to sweating, blanking out, screwing up, or bombing out, just be cool and say to yourself, “You’ve got this”, “it’s good”, “I’m okay” ,”carry on”. What helps me is to focus on the material, representing it the best I can. It’s my job to deliver my communications, and that’s what I’m about. I can only please the audience by doing my best, so I keep that objective first.
  • Wear something you honestly feel good and comfortable in, so that you aren’t distracted by yourself. Stay away from shirts you have to tug down, a button that pops open, zippers that don’t stay up, or anything that makes you feel dumpy and unconfident. Spend time picking out this outfit, and then forget about it, don’t fidget. Same with shoes, hair, the overall appearance.
  • Speak into the microphone. Don’t waver around, or push your mouth into the mic like you’re going to beatbox.
  • The more you speak in front of audiences, the better you get at it, but nothing is ever guaranteed. You can always bomb, and let’s be truthful here: the audience wasn’t stupid. The main point is to learn from your mistakes, and if the audience didn’t get it, then take it on the chin. It’s your responsibility to connect, and if you didn’t, then be humble and learn. Live audiences are excellent workshops, but not a reason to freak out. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Ultimately, the best way you can avoid freaking out in front of an audience is to work on your strong mind. If you are particularly nervous, then affirmations on index cards will help you to dig deep into your background mind and noise. Personal improvement in venues like courses, books, workshops, and rehearsals is a valuable way to get better at public speaking, all activities that I have done.

At the moment when I nearly freaked out in this photo, to the point where I almost blanked out in stage fright, I quickly thought to myself: “Don’t take it in. You know this story. This is yours.” And I was back on track. When coming off stage, being done, and knowing that it went well- this is the best feeling of all. Practice, practice, practice!