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Read the Book Before You See the Movie, part 1

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

By Vicky T. (VickyJo)

 

There are (at least) 16 books that are going to be made into movies in 2014, and since it’s only January, you have plenty of time to read the book before you see the film.  For the next few days, I’ll share the titles and give you a brief synopsis of each plot.  You may have read some of these, but it never hurts to brush up on the book first.

 

Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard: Labor Day weekend for 13-year-old Henry Wheeler will change his life forever when his mother, emotionally fragile at best, takes in a stranger with a dark secret, and law enforcement on his trail.  The film stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, and opens January 31st.

 

 

The Monuments Men, by Robert Edsel and Bret Witter: The true story of an American platoon during WWII which is assigned the incredible task of going into Nazi Germany to rescue art masterpieces and return them to their rightful owners.  The film will star George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett and will be released on February 7th.

 

 

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead: This is actually a series, with the first novel titled Vampire Academy.  I’m not sure how much the movie will cover, but the first novel introduces us to Rose, half human and half vampire, and Lissa, a vampire princess; both girls attend St. Vladimir’s Academy and must deal with the usual teen angst and problems, plus a few issues unique to vampires.  The movie will be released February 14th and stars Zoey Deutch as Rose and Lucy Fry as Lissa.

 

Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin:  Peter Lake, an orphan and a master mechanic, attempts to rob a mansion in New York’s Upper West Side.  He believes the house to be empty, but to his surprise, it is occupied by Beverly Penn, the daughter of the owner, and a woman who is terminally ill.  The novel is over 700 pages long, so it will be interesting to see it distilled into a few hours of film.  It stars Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay and opens on February 14th.

 

 

Divergent, by Veronica Roth: This first book in Roth’s trilogy introduces us to Beatrice Prior, who lives in a futuristic Chicago, where society is divided into five factions.  All sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will belong…and as you can imagine, nothing ever goes smoothly.  If you liked Hunger Games, you should check out Divergent.  The movie stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet.  It will hit theaters on March 21st.

 

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green: A moving, intense story of two teens, both with cancer, who fall in love with one another and search for answers to the big questions: How will I be remembered?  Does my life, and will my death, have any meaning?  Shailene Woodley also starts in this film, along with Ansel Elgort and Willem Dafoe.  The film will be released in June.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Week – Chuck’s Lasagna Saga

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

 By Gail P. (TinkerPirate)

 

There once was a man named Chuck

Who would cut your hair for a buck

Though he was good

At cooking most food

With lasagna he had no luck

 

 

Grumpy, my dear husband, and I used to have the same barber. His name was Chuck. With a pair of scissors, he was a magician. Get him in the kitchen and – well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

A number of years ago, while having dinner with his father-in-law, Chuck mentioned that he made great lasagna. Well, his father-in-law replied that this was nice, but that he made BETTER lasagna. Chuck gently reminded his father-in-law that he was Italian and that everybody knows that Italians make the BEST lasagna. The father-in-law, being Sicilian, took exception at this. Well, after a number of “does too” – “does nots”, an oven mitt was thrown AND the Annual Lasagna Contest was born.

Great idea! But, who would judge the contest?

Chuck’s wife couldn’t. Her loyalties would be torn between the man who gave her life and the man who gives her love. So, they began to solicit neighbors and friends – but as they described the situation, those very friends and neighbors told Chuck and his father-in-law that they considered themselves to also be great lasagna makers and wanted to enter the fray. Great – now they had a bezillion lasagna makers. What started out as a simple dinner statement turned into the mother of all lasagna contests.

How did Chuck do? Well, the first year, Chuck made his regular lasagna and lost. The second year, he devised a new recipe: he cooked the noodles the day before and marinated them overnight in a “secret sauce”. The resulting lasagna was mooshy because the marinated noodles disintegrated. As you can guess…Chuck did not win…again.

For year three, Chuck developed a different strategy. Knowing that the best part of lasagna was the sauce and cheese, he would eliminate the noodles! He developed another “secret sauce”, threw in bread crumbs, and sought out the perfect cheese. Chuck figured the bread crumbs would soak up the juice from the wonderful sauce and combine with the perfect cheese to form a magnificently textured and flavorful lasagna. WRONG! What he got was a lasagna pan of goop…tasty goop…but goop none the less.

After loss three, Chuck gracefully “retired” from lasagna competition. He decided to just host the parties. And, his father-in-law…he NEVER did enter a single contest!

Now, that I have you all set for the really great lasagna recipe…here it is. How do I know? Well, first of all it’s NOT Chuck’s – it’s MINE and it won the very last Lasagna Contest!

 

Tricolor Lasagna

Serves 12

 

16 ounces lasagna noodles

2 pounds Italian sausage

6 cups spaghetti sauce

1 can black olives – chopped

1 cup pesto sauce

32 ounces ricotta cheese

24 ounces mozzarella cheese – shredded

Pour spaghetti sauce into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until sauce reduces and is slightly thickened. Brown sausage, drain, and add to thickened spaghetti sauce. Add black olives. Continue to simmer for 30-60 minutes. Blend pesto sauce with half of the ricotta cheese. Blend the remaining ricotta with half of the mozzarella cheese. Prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package.

Spread a small amount of spaghetti sauce/sausage mixture in the bottom of a deep lasagna pan. Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread a layer of spaghetti sauce/sausage mixture on top of noodles (keep 1 cup of sauce mixture in reserve). Sprinkle with 2/3 of remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread ricotta/mozzarella mixture on top of noodles (keep 1 cup of mixture in reserve). Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread layer of pesto/ricotta mixture (keep 1 cup of mixture in reserve). Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread reserved mixtures on top of noodles so it resembles the Italian flag. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Place in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake until sauce is bubbly and cheese on top is melted and starting to brown (about 50 minutes). Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

 

Pesto Sauce

3 cups fresh basil leaves – washed and dried

8 cloves of garlic – peeled

3 teaspoons pine nuts

1/2 cup parmesan cheese – finely grated

1/3 cup olive oil

Throw basil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese into a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add olive oil. Pulse until solids are well chopped, but mixture is not liquefied.

 

 

Spaghetti sauce

A confession – I used jarred sauce…a combination of 3 cheeses and roasted red pepper…but use whatever you like. Or, you could look for recipes in the following books available on PBS:

 

 


Lasagna: The Art of Layered Cooking
by  Dwayne Ridgaway
 
The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces
by Diane Seed
 
Monday-to-Friday Pasta (Monday-to-Friday Series)
by  Michele Urvater
 
The Book of Pasta
by Lesley MacKley and Jon Stewart
 
Five-Minute Pasta Sauces
by  Michael Oliver

 

 

 

 

                                                                                
 

 

Member Musings – Songs and Books, Books and Songs

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

by Cyn C. (Cyn-Sama)

 

I have a love/hate relationship with song lyrics being used in novels.  If I like the band, and like the music, it can take me right back to a very specific point of time in my life.  For example, The Seed of Lost Souls, by Poppy Z. Brite, the book references Bauhaus and The Cure, two very influential bands to my impressionable 16 year old mind, so when I read this book, I am brought right back to being 16, and discovering these bands, and it’s a very happy thing.

If the author mentions a band I don’t care for, or I don’t know, it can kind of throw me out of the illusion the book has spun me into.  In my mind, the characters always listen to music that I like, so if they mention something I don’t like, it jars me.  It’s not something I’m too fond of.

I was thinking about this the other day, and then started thinking about songs that were based on novels, which are a completely different kettle of fish.

One of the first songs I realized was based on a book was Moon over Bourbon Street, by Sting.  It’s sung from the point of view of Louis, from Interview With The Vampire, by Anne Rice.

There’s a moon over Bourbon Street tonight
I see faces as they pass beneath the pale lamplight
I’ve no choice but to follow that call
The bright lights, the people, and the moon and all
I pray every day to be strong
For I know what I do must be wrong
Oh you’ll never see my shade or hear the sound of my feet
While there’s a moon over Bourbon Street

It’s just gorgeous, and sums up the character completely.

Then, I got to thinking about The Cure, and the novel, Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer.  At least two Cure songs were inspired by this novel, the song Charlotte Sometimes, and The Empty World.

Part of the plot of the book Charlotte Sometimes, revolves around two girls. Charlotte, and Clare.  Clare is from the year 1918, in the midst of World War I, and Charlotte and Clare keep switching time periods.

This is reflected in The Cure song, Charlotte Sometimes

on that bleak track
(see the sun is gone again)
the tears were pouring down her face
she was crying and crying for a girl
who died so many years before…”

And, reflected in The Cure song, The Empty World

She talked about the armies
That marched inside her head
And how they made her dreams go bad
But oh how happy she was
How proud she was
To be fighting in the war
In the empty world

Some of the lines of the lyrics are taken directly from the book.  It’s one of those silly little things that makes me happy, and gets filed in my useless knowledge folder.  If people don’t know the books, but know the songs, I get to look all smart and impressive.  And, if they know the books and the songs, they will geek out with me.

There are also songs that I just relate very strongly to certain books.  Concrete Blonde’s Walking In London, puts me in mind of Anne Rice’s Tale of The Body Thief, with Lestat chasing David all over the world to reclaim his body.

“And I’ve been running all this time
And I’m running out of places to go
And I am oh so sick and tired of every face that I know
Everything I do, everything I say
Everything in my head, every night, every day
I’ve been east, I’ve been west, I’ve been north, I’ve been south
I feel your arms, I hear your voice, I feel your hands, I kiss your mouth

Now, I know that song wasn’t written with Tale of the Body Thief in mind, but it just puts me in the frame of mind to want to read the book.

 

 

To celebrate the connection between songs and novels, we’re going to do a giveaway!  One member, chosen at random from the comments about this blog will win two credits to be used at the sister site, swapacd.com.  Use them to try out some of the artists I just mentioned, or find some new favorites to inspire you!

 

Concrete Blonde – Walking in London
The Cure – Greatest Hits
Bauhaus – Singles Volume 1
Sting – Dream of the Blue Turtles

 

What books do you love that were based on songs?  Or, what songs make you think of certain books?

 

 

Its Pi Day! Have a slice of math!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

 

By Cheryl G. (Poncer)

 

Math was never my strong suit. All through school I needed extra help. I never knew the new math from the old math. It was all Latin to me. Teachers would always tell us we would need to use math in our lives and it would come in handy.

It was always Alga-wha? to me. I can honestly say I have never once in my adult life asked myself, “Wonder what x equals?”. I have asked, “Where the xxx are my keys?!” and “How the xxx did I end up here?!” but never have I voluntarily looked for a an equal to x.

So I see by the calendar today is Pi Day.  According to Wikipedia, π is approximately equal to 3.14. It goes on to say that π (sometimes written pi) is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of any Euclidean circle’s circumference to its diameter. Which makes no sense to me at all.  Just proves my point: Math = Latin.

Trying to keep an open mind, I think we should just celebrate PIE. So for all you pi and pie lovers out there.

 

Happy Pi/Pie Day!

 

 


Life of Pi by Yann Martel

 

The Joy of Pi by David Blatner

 

Geometry for Dummies by Mark Ryan

 


American Pie by Teresa Kennedy

 

All the above books are currently available to order, except the Geometry for Dummies. Go figure!

Holiday Traditions – Happy Kwanzaa!

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

by Geri (geejay)

Kwanzaa is a Celebration of Family, Community and Culture. It is celebrated from December 26th through January 1st.

The first-fruits celebrations (Kwanzaa) are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia and appear in ancient and modern times in other classical African civilizations such as Ashantiland and Yorubaland. These celebrations are also found in ancient and modern times among societies as large as empires (the Zulu or kingdoms (Swaziland) or smaller societies and groups like the Matabele, Thonga and Lovedu, all of southeastern Africa. Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African “first fruit” celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration. Kwanzaa, then, is:

* a time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them;
* a time of special reverence for the creator and creation in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation;
* a time for commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of human excellence, our ancestors;
* a time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing effort to always bring forth the best of African cultural thought and practice; and
* a time for celebration of the Good, the good of life and of existence itself, the good of family, community and culture, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word the good of the divine, natural and social.

This is a holiday that’s celebrated throughout the world African community. Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks of what it means to be African in the fullest sense.

The theme for Kwanzaa this year is the Seven Principles: Sharing and Sustaining the World.

The are seven Symbols of Kwanzaa:

Mazao (The Crops) symbolizing the harvest celebration

 

 

 

 

Mkeka (The Mat) symbolizing the foundation on which tradition and history is built.

 

 

 

 

Kinara (the Candle Holder) symbolizing the continental Africans, the roots.

 

Muhindi (The Corn) symbolizing the children and the future.

 

 

Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles) the matrix and minimum set of values for African people

 

Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup) symbolizing the practice of unity.

 

 

 

 

Zawadi (the Gifts) symbolizing the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by children.

Gifts are given mainly to children. They must always include a book and a heritage symbol. The book to emphasize the African value and tradition of learning stressed since ancient Egypt. The heritage symbol is to reaffirm and reinforce the African commitment to tradition and history.

What is a Zawadi to We by Vandella Brown
Colors and decorations for Kwanzaa are black, red and green. They should include African baskets, cloth patterns, art objects and harvest symbols as well as other objects.

     

It is important to note Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths who come together based on the rich, ancient and varied common ground of their Africanness.

 

Kwanzaa: From Holiday to Every Day by Maitefa Angaza

 

The Children’s Book of Kwanzaa: A Guide to Celebrating the Holiday
by Dolores Johnson

 

Practicing Kwanzaa Year Round
by Gwynelle Dismukes

 

Excerpt from Troubled Bones

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Jerelyn (I-F-Letty)

I would like to say thank-you to Jeri Westerson, who I am very excited to say has given her fellow PBS members a sneak peek of fourth book in the Crispin Guest series; Troubled Bones.  We would like to wish Jeri the best of luck with her new release, on Oct 11th.

 

TROUBLED BONES: A Medieval Noir  by Jeri Westerson

The retelling of the unfinished Canterbury Tales as it might have happened…

Disgraced knight Crispin Guest gets himself into some serious trouble in London and as a result is forced to accept an assignment far out of town. The archbishop of Canterbury has specifically requested Crispin to investigate a threat against the bones of saint and martyr Thomas a Becket, which are housed in a shrine in Canterbury Cathedral. The archbishop has received letters threatening the safety of the artifacts, and he wants Crispin to protect them and uncover whoever is after them. But when he arrives at Canterbury, Crispin is accosted by an old acquaintance from court—one Geoffrey Chaucer—who has arrived with a group of pilgrims. Trapped in Canterbury, looking for a murderer, a hidden heretic, and a solution to the riddle that will allow him to go back home, Crispin Guest finds his considerable wit and intellect taxed to its very limit.

 

 

 

Canterbury, 1385

1

“Why’d you have to take me along, Master Crispin?” complained Jack Tucker, gripping the horse’s mane as his body jerked with the rouncey’s gait. The boy looked up sorrowfully through a mesh of ginger fringe. “Shouldn’t someone keep watch of our lodgings back in London? Shouldn’t I have stayed behind?”

“Master Kemp can keep good watch of his own tinker shop, I should think,” said Crispin. “And if you ever wish to follow in my footsteps, you must accompany me when I have a paid assignment. As you know, such assignments are few.”

“I’d rather follow in your footsteps at that, Master, than ride this beast. If God had wanted Man to have four feet He’d have created Adam with them.”

Crispin’s left hand lazily held the reins. “Jack, you’re fighting him. Roll with the gait. Become as one with him.”

“Tell it to the horse.”

Chuckling, Crispin raised his eyes to the road. The walls of Canterbury drew closer and rose above the distant copses. It wouldn’t be long until they could finally get some food and a warm bed. Though he appreciated being on a horse once again, the constant drizzle had made their journey from London two days ago less than comfortable.

“Why should the Archbishop want you to do this thing, sir?” Jack asked.

Crispin gripped the reins. Tension flickered up the muscles in his arm. “The letter delivered to the sheriffs was frustratingly vague. All I know is that it seems to be a matter of Saint Thomas à Becket’s bones.”

Jack shook his head and whistled. “Saint Thomas the Martyr. It’s like a pilgrimage. God blind me! I’ve never been on a pilgrimage before. And Thomas the Martyr at that. I should very much like to see his bones. They say that Saint Thomas defied a king. A little like you did, Master,” he added sheepishly.

Crispin made a sound in his throat but said nothing. He couldn’t help but feel a kinship for the martyr. Thomas à Becket had been his own man, to be sure, saint or no.

“But we did leave London rather hastily,” Jack went on. “Why, sir, if you hate dealing with relics so much, were you in such a hurry to do this task?”

“I will be paid well for it. I’ve already received two shillings. Four days wages isn’t bad for work not yet done.”

“True. But I’ve never seen you hurry for no one, let alone a cleric.”

Crispin heaved a sigh. He could ignore the boy, tell him to be still and to mind his own business, but after only one short year of knowing the ginger-haired lad, he knew it was pointless. “The sheriffs gave me a choice,” he said at last. “Follow the bidding of the Archbishop or go to gaol.”

“Gaol, sir?”

Crispin adjusted on his saddle. “It seems I might have gotten into a scuffle at the Boar’s Tusk.”

“Master Crispin!”

“A man was bedeviling Mistress Langton! Should I have stood by while he insulted the tavernkeeper?”

“You were drunk.”

Crispin shot him a dark glance. “Careful, Tucker.”

“Well…were you?”

He pulled his hood down, shivering with a cold wind. “I might have been. The crux of the matter is, the man was a courtier. And I…er…might have…struck him.”

“God blind me. Then it’s a wonder they didn’t just hang you.”

“Indeed.”

They fell silent as they reached the city’s gates and then wended their way through narrow lanes, some little wider than the horses’ flanks. The late afternoon light filtered down through the valleys of Canterbury’s shops and houses. Their second and third tiers overhung the streets, cutting short the weak light angling through the spring mist.

They found an inn at the end of Mercy Lane, just a bowshot from Canterbury Cathedral, and Crispin left it to Jack to stable both horses and secure a room.

Standing alone at the base of the steps to the great arch of the cathedral’s west door, Crispin brushed the mud from his coat. There was little he could do about the state of his stockings with their mud and holes, but surely the Archbishop was aware of his situation. After all, he’d asked specifically for Crispin himself.

He climbed the steps and entered the vestibule. Cold stone surrounded him while the stained glass windows cast rainbows on the floor. The nave opened before him, flanked on either side by a colonnade of impossibly tall stone pillars upholding ribbed vaults. A labyrinth of scaffolding clung to the naves’ pillars with spidery fingers of poles and ropes. The church’s reconstruction had been underway for years yet didn’t seem any closer to completion since Crispin had last visited nearly a decade ago. While masons worked, showering the nave with stone dust, artisans continued painting the stone runners, spandrels, and corbels in elaborate colors and stripes. The nave was alive in color and gold leaf. Every corner, every inch of every carved bit of stone smelled of new paint and varnish.

He walked across the stone floor, his boots echoing. When he turned at the quire, he made a nod toward the northwest transept archway into Saint Benet’s chapel, a miniature church within the large cathedral.

The place where Becket was murdered.

He moved on past the quire on his right and then ascended another set of steps—the pilgrim’s steps—to the Chapel of Saint Thomas, its own little parish of occupied tombs and tombs yet to be occupied. Always room for one more. He couldn’t help but turn his glance to one tomb in particular. It was overhung with a canopy of carved wood covered in gold leaf. He paused and walked forward to study it.

A latten knight lay with hands raised in prayer over his chest. A crown encircled his helm. He did not lie with eyes closed but stared upward at some unseen paradise…or possibly a battle, for to the silent knight, Paradise and Battle might very well have been one and the same.

For a long time, Crispin stood and stared at the tomb and at the polished figure of Prince Edward of Woodstock. He crossed himself, studied the face of the man he had known well, and finally turned from the sepulcher.

A drowsy shuffle of monks echoed in the church.

Crispin turned and stood for a moment, absorbing the sight of Becket’s shrine in the center of the chapel. The chapel’s stone pillars created a circle about Crispin and shone golden with the afternoon sun streaming in from the many windows. Raised up on stone steps, the shrine was taller than a man. A stone plinth supported the wooden base, itself resplendent with carved arcades and fine decoration, gold-leafed, painted. As fine as any throne. Set above it all was a finely wrought wooden canopy hiding the gold and jewel-encrusted casket in which Becket’s remains lay. The canopy was a proud structure of carvings, gold leaf, and bells. Ropes were fastened from the canopy to the center boss on the ceiling. By pulleys and wheels, the canopy could be lifted to reveal the casket’s magnificence—for the pilgrims who paid their fee.

Crispin frowned. His eyes searched the shadows. The shrine looked the same as it had probably looked for two centuries.

He turned to go when the sound of voices and scuffing feet stopped him. Pilgrims. Then monks appeared from the shadows and positioned themselves before the ropes and pulleys, ready to reveal Becket’s casket. His heart fluttered. How many times had he seen this tomb himself? But he was just as affected as the first time when he was a boy. The Archbishop could wait. He wanted a look at Becket’s tomb. Just another pilgrim in the crowd.

Steps approached and the voices hushed. The pilgrims, here to see Becket’s shrine, moved along the north ambulatory, gawking at the images of Saint Thomas’s miracles depicted in the stained-glass windows. They were a varied flock, as Crispin expected. Travelers came from all over the kingdom to see Becket’s bones. Some looked to be clerics from other parishes, a priest in rich robes and two demure nuns in dark habits. A man of wealth was flanked by what appeared to be two tradesmen. A round-bodied woman in a fine gown and cloak stood in the center of the crowd, a look of concentration on her face as she stared at the tomb as if willing it to give up its secrets, while two men, one thin and the other stout, skulked behind the other pilgrims, whispering to each other.

The two monks who stood by the ropes stared suspiciously at Crispin before they set to work cranking the canopy away from the casket. Slowly, with the sound of the rope squealing over the pulley, and with bells tinkling, the canopy lifted higher and the first motes of light struck the casket’s gold. The sun revealed it, brushing along its box of carved pillars.

Crispin stood off to the side, waiting in the shadows for the pilgrims to pass. The visitors murmured and were slowly ushered forward one at a time by two monks.

Out of the silence, a sharp voice rang out, incongruous in the silent presence of tombs and the ancient stone chair of Saint Austin standing in a shaft of sunlight. “Well I’ll be damned. Cris Guest!”

It couldn’t be. That unmistakable voice. A sinking feeling seized his gut and Crispin slowly turned.

God’s blood. Geoffrey Chaucer.

Author Interview—Monique Honaman

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Monique A. Honaman is the author of The High Road Has Less Traffic, a straight from the heart, inspirational and humorous guide to navigating love relationships and divorce. In the book, she shares her personal journey so that others can learn from it…but make no mistake, this is not some dry self help book.  This is a pull-no-punches, tell-it-to-me-straight and make-me-laugh-through-the-hard-parts read.

Thank you, Monique, for sharing your story with our PBS members.

PBS:      Have you ever written anything before? Why did you feel compelled to write this book?

I did feel compelled to write this book about taking the high road after I was forced to make a similar choice myself when I experienced a relationship implosion of my own, and suddenly found myself staring down the face of divorce. I quickly came to realize the kind of pain and destruction that divorce can inflict on others, especially on children. I decided that I would take my experience and turn it around to help other women who were in the same situation. I began to counsel women facing relationship troubles and divorce, and before I knew it I was fielding calls and emails weekly from women who were friends, or friends of friends, or friends of acquaintances. I found that there were certain pieces of advice that resonated with my newfound circle of friends. I decided to package my experiences and insights into a book that summed up my personal philosophy: that the high road has less traffic, less breakdowns, and more room to accelerate toward your destination. Given a choice, the high road is the best path to take in life, especially when dealing with marriage and family!

I love to read and when I was going through my divorce, I was looking for that book that would be that “girlfriend” who would really lay it on the line for me – who would be funny, raw, honest, smart, let me cry, and make me laugh. I couldn’t find that book, so I guess I took matters into my own hands. While I had written business articles in the past, I had never written (or attempted to write!) a book.

I sat down one night and just began outlining chapters of advice that told my story and how I dealt with my divorce. I thought about all the things I wish I knew, or all the things that people were calling me about. Things like how to tell your kids, how to tell your friends, why telling your mom is one of the hardest things to do, who you need to include in your support network (like a CPA and your gynecologist!), how to hire an attorney, how to adjust to those times when your kids are gone for the first time, how to find forgiveness (I joke about how I went from dropping the F-bomb, to finding a more powerful F-word in forgiveness!), how to start dating again, and how to learn more about yourself so you don’t make the same mistakes again. Before I knew it, I had 22 chapters outlined and it went from there. It was cathartic for me, and it’s been so helpful to others.
 

PBS:    While the idea behind the book is how to take the high road while navigating a divorce, it is actually full of information and ideas about how to manage a marriage and never actually reach that point. Comments?


Yes! When I began to write the book, I envisioned my audience would be women going through divorce. As it evolved, the thoughts began to encompass words of wisdom about maintaining healthy relationships, thoughts about the power of forgiveness in any context, thoughts about being true to yourself, and thoughts about taking the high road in every aspect of life. The response that I have received from both men and women, single, married and divorced, young and old, has been incredible. There are certainly portions of the book that are really relevant to anyone.

One of favorite pieces of feedback came from a married man who told me he read the chapter on making sure you do the little things in marriage. He told me how he made coffee for his wife the morning after reading my book and brought it to her as she got ready. She was thrilled. His message was this: it only took my 5 minutes, but the payback was tremendous. Another married woman told me as a result of reading the book, she and her husband had sat down and really discussed their finances and were able to make some joint decisions about saving and spending. Their communication improved greatly!

PBS:  What advice does your book have for women who are on the fence about what to do or who are facing the hard decision of making this huge change in their life?

My advice is this: relationships are hard work and need to be tended to on a daily basis. You can’t get lazy. Divorce is difficult. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s hurtful and damaging. I am not a proponent of divorce. I encourage people to make sure that they aren’t rushing to the decision to divorce. Often times people can rebuild their relationships, and frankly, make them stronger than they previously were because of renewed communication and intimacy.

On the other hand, there are those marriages which are clearly over. In those cases, I encourage both parties to ‘take the high road’ in dissolving the marriage. No matter how hateful or bitter things have become, these two people were at some point in love enough to exchange vows and get married. Too often divorce leads to low road behavior which is negative and hurtful to all involved … the husband and wife who once pledged true love, any children who may have been born from this marriage, the extended family, the friends … the ripple effect is tremendous. Taking the high road is the best way to get through this situation and still be to look at yourself in the mirror!

PBS:  We’ve all heard the saying “nice guys finish last”? Some might feel that taking the “high road” is just another example of women being expected to the “nice” one and not assert themselves or stand up for what they need. What are your thoughts on this?

I disagree! Taking the high road does not imply being a door matt that others can walk on. Finding forgiveness doesn’t mean you aren’t going to hold the other person accountable for their actions. It doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for certain behaviors. What is does mean is that you aren’t going to stoop to low-road behavior as well. Taking the high road means engaging in behavior that allows you to look in the mirror every day for the rest of your life knowing that you did what is right by yourself, your family and your friends. Being nice does not equate to being a doormat. You can be assertive, stand up for your rights, and take the high road all at the same time. This is not mutually exclusive behavior. I argue that you accomplish a lot more in life by treating others with respect and kindness, than with low road behavior.

PBS:  What advice can we give our children now, especially daughters, to help them later should they ever be in these types of difficult situations?

Great question. I don’t think anyone ever marries with the expectation that they will find themselves divorced in the future. That being said, 50% of marriages in the US end in divorce. The high-level advice I give to my children is that they need to always take the high road and be honest in everything they do. The practical advice that I will give my children is that need to constantly work on their relationships, that they need to always maintain some level of awareness of their financial situation, and that they need to maintain marketable, employable skills.

PBS:   If you find yourself already on the “low road” in a divorce situation is it too late to move over to the “high road”?  What happens if you are trying to stay on the “high road” but fall off from time to time?

It is never too late to get off the low road and switch lanes to the high road! It will make you feel better! People often tell me that it’s hard to stay on the high road when their partner is engaging in low road behavior. Yes, it is! But, if you stay focused on what’s important to you, you can avoid getting sucked into that behavior as well. I’ve found that focusing on being a strong role model for your children is often the motivation that people need to get on, and stay on, the high road.

Every study out there about how children of divorce fare in the future highlights the post-divorce interactions between their parents as being indicative of how well they cope with being “children of divorce” in the future. To me, that was all the motivation I needed to be sure that my ex- and I handled the divorce, and our post-divorce communications, in a high road manner. We will be forever bonded by our two children and they don’t want to see their parents not getting along constructively. The guilt that comes along with that is huge, and I don’t want my kids, who are innocent bystanders in this divorce, to have to deal with those emotions. The reality is that we now have to co-parent together, and it’s much easier to do that when we are able to communicate about our children constructively.

PBS:   Looking at you now, so pulled together and happy, it is hard to believe you ever hit the low point you describe…how long did it take you to reach this new, good place in your life?

Yes, I am incredibly happy now, and in a way I never imagined. And yes, being blindsided by divorce was clearly my low point. I was incredibly bitter, angry and hateful. I was emotionally fragile. It was difficult to concentrate. These are all incredibly natural feelings that every person has to navigate through. Kind of like Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s stages of death and dying, I believe there are natural stages of emotion that every person going through a broken relationship must also deal with. I also believe that there isn’t a specific timeline as to how long these stages must last. Some people go through these faster than others.

We can probably all think of someone who is holding onto a grudge for something that someone did to them at some point in the past. They can recall every single detail of the ‘infraction’ and they relive it and rehash it every day. That is so tiring and burdensome. It holds you back and keeps you locked in the past. And frankly, the person against who you are holding the grudge is moving on with their life and completely unaware (or doesn’t really care) that you are stuck rehashing this every day. It’s only hurting that person, not anyone else.

As I looked in my life, I did see a few people who had been ‘wronged’ in the past who had never made that decision to forgive. Decades later they were still holding onto bitterness and anger and I knew I didn’t want to live that way. I knew I would have to find forgiveness in my heart in order for me to heal and start moving forward. The decision to forgive was absolutely life-changing for me. Holding onto the anger and bitterness was only hurting me. Nobody else, just me! I learned that forgiveness is a selfish act. I made the decision to honestly find forgiveness in my heart and I felt better. I didn’t need anyone else’s approval or blessing to forgive. I felt the burden lift. I went from being consumed with anger, to being able to see the future and think more logically rather than so emotionally. Carrying around negativity and anger are not attractive features that inspire people to want to hang out with you! I know I would never have started dating and remarried if I hadn’t found forgiveness and begun to move forward with positive momentum.

PBS:   Was the decision to remarry difficult for you? What were your fears?

You would think the decision to remarry would have been a difficult one for me, but actually it wasn’t. When I met my husband, I immediately felt such a strong connection and we communicated so well, that any fears I had (and I did have them!) were immediately discussed and dismissed. You can’t (or rather, you shouldn’t) go through a divorce without turning the mirror onto yourself and learning more about who you are and what role you played in the demise of the marriage. This can be really difficult to do. It can be painful and raw, but it’s so important. I had taken a deep, introspective look at myself, what I contributed to relationships, and what I wanted out of relationships. Entering into a new relationship, and subsequent marriage, I was incredibly clear on what I wanted, and the importance of keeping that connection alive. I tease my husband now that I don’t keep things bottled up … any emotion I have gets expressed immediately … what I like, what I don’t like … and I encourage him to do the same. That level of communication is very healthy for our relationship.

PBS:   Do you have a mantra or personal pep talk you give yourself when things get tough?

Yes! I live by many mantras. I love quotes, and I have signs all over my home expressing certain thoughts that I choose to live by. In fact, every chapter in my book starts with a quote relevant to that chapter. Readers have really responded to these quotes and often email me telling me how much a certain quote has really spoken to them.

One of my favorite mantras that I rely on every day is: “I can’t control what happens to me, I can only control how I react to it.” My kids each have a plaque in their room that says: “Integrity is doing what is right even when no one is looking.” Lastly, I have a strong faith and love the verse from Jeremiah 29:11 that says “’I have a plan for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

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