Roseville Library 4-30-2011

Saturday before last, I participated in a four-hour author event at the Roseville Library, just north of Sacramento.  I was one of eight self-published writers, and we each were given twenty-five minutes to present out work.  I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and the connections I made.  Many of the presenters are members of the Sacramento Suburban Writers Club, and what a thriving community they appear to have.  Too bad they’re so far away; I’d like to be a member.

I rode up to Roseville with my writing friend, Tami Casias, and her husband, Glen.  Thank you Glen for doing all that driving and dashing out to get me some change for my cash drawer.  Tami has written a young adult novel titled Crystal Bound.  I’m seriously looking forward to July 11th when she and I, a Sonoma duo, will be presenting our work at Book Passage – their San Francisco, Embarcadero Center Store!

In the library audience was a photographer who took this nice picture of me.  His name is Westley Turner.  I told him that I’d be happy to give him a plug here, so he suggested his blog: or his ExTerraExpeditions Facebook page.  See my sidebar for a link.  His blog started in September of 2010.  I couldn’t read all of the posts, but let’s just say that they’re a bit out of this world.  Ex Terra – get it?  If I’ve got it right, the narrator translates into layman’s terms the esoteric experiments of Frank, a quantum physics guy.  Fun reading, and it helped to start at the beginning.  Westley, please feel free to write in the “Comment” box anything you might care to add.

One of the authors at the Roseville event was A. K. Buckroth.  Her presentation was dynamic and unforgettable.  Her book is titled My Diabetic Soul; she’s lived with diabetes for over fifty years.  Buckroth came dressed in, and gave her talk in, full biking attire (helmet too) because she had just that morning ridden in a fundraiser for the cure of Diabetes.  Her networking skills were impressive, and I’m grateful to her for a lead she gave me.  Because of her, on June 5 I’ll be introducing Pearls My Mother Wore to the folks at Atria Covell Gardens in Davis.  Thank you A.K.!

Another Author I met was Cara Weiss Wilson.  Her memoir is titled Dear Cara: Letters From Otto Frank.  She had a lifelong correspondence with Anne Frank’s father, and in her book she shares his wisdom and the inspiration she got from it.  “He taught the importance of tolerance and true spirituality, focusing on the power of love, not revenge,” she writes.

Given our common literary themes of forgiveness, Cara and I really connected.  She told me about her upcoming book that will be a collection of short inspirational stories from individuals who have turned troubles into triumphs.  Casually, I shared with her a life changing moment I had over twenty years ago.  She thought what I had to say was exactly what her forthcoming book was about and asked me to write it up in a short essay.  I did, and after I sent it to her, she replied that she would be “honored” to include it in her next, soon to be published book.

I titled the short essay “On and On,” and here is what I wrote:

It was the mid 1980’s and I was in my mid 20’s.  New Age was still new, and I was spending a late fall weekend at a spiritual retreat center nestled in the coastal mountain range east of Mendocino, CA.  Broken hearted yet again, I was looking for some unknown something to soothe my pain – words of wisdom, direction, higher consciousness…possibly a new boyfriend who possessed a little more sweet and less cheat.

In other areas of my life, I was a success.  I had a thriving hairdressing clientele, I was putting myself through college, I had a nice apartment, drove a nice car, had money in the bank, and plenty of good friends.  But when it came to love, I was a loser.  Regardless of how hard I tried to be sexy, smart, funny, mysterious, tough, hard-to-get, or easy-to-get, the results kept turning out the same; he’d run off with somebody else, and I’d wonder what I’d done wrong, or what I should’ve done differently.  My feelings of abandonment were pervasive and acute.

Now I can’t exactly remember what the retreat seminar was about, and I’m not trying to mock, but I think it had to do with “astral projections,” i.e. channeling energy from outer space.  I remember it involved some “laying on of hand,” and that was when I became a little uncomfortable and excused myself from the afternoon session.

While the group was doing its thing, I went for a long walk into Hendy Woods State Park.  The day was overcast; every plant dripped with foggy dew, and my path was spongy and fragrant from millennia of accumulated forest mulch.  In a melancholy mood, I moved slowly and meditatively, listening to the lively orchestra of breezes and birds in the trees, small streams trickling over stones, squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about in what appeared to be more play than hunt.

At one point, I came upon an enormous fallen redwood.  The giant had been down for many years judging by its crumbling, pulpy decay.  Along its massive trunk ferns had taken root, so had grasses and moss that produce easily missed, teensy white flowers.  Baby timber offshoots were eagerly reaching for the sky.  Clusters of plump, yellow-orange mushrooms found footing where the composting tree was most wet.  I was certain that under the remaining bark must have lived teams of mites, grubs, spiders, and ants.  There before me lay a most noble exchange of life, and in that moment my mind opened up as if it were a bloom in a desert rain.

It dawned on me how polarized my thinking had always been; there was good or bad, right or wrong, yes or no, love or hate, life or death.  On another day, I possibly wouldn’t have even noticed the prone conifer, or if I did, I might have thought, “That tree is dead, how sad.”  But on the afternoon of my somber, late fall walk, when my heart ached desperately for true connection, I suddenly saw life differently.  Instead of sorrow and loss, I saw a magnificent display of continuous life, forward movement, on and on.  Nothing had been abandoned; it had only been changed, transformed.  What I had to do was stop abandoning myself.  I had to stop trying to be something I wasn’t.  Nothing in nature was pretending, and I could follow its lead.

When I returned to the retreat center I felt restored.  I had been given wisdom, direction and higher consciousness; it just didn’t come the way I expected.  My all sweet, no cheat arrived many years later; he’s my husband. ______________________________________________________________________________

It was fun revisiting those old memories.  That tree encounter was almost a spiritual experience, or at least it was of the spiritual variety that I can live with.  The timing of all this was interesting in that I had just finished reading a book about another woman’s spiritual journey.  Faith Adiele had been a guest speaker at my Left Coast Writers group.  She’s now one of my Facebook “Friends.”  Here are my thoughts about Faith’s book:

Meeting Faith is an apt title for Faith Adiele’s memoir since it’s as much an introduction to the woman as it is a point of connection between the pious and the profane.  Archetypally suited more for warrior than ascetic, Adiele recounts her unlikely but most relatable year as an ordained Buddhist nun in Thailand.  The events took place over twenty-five years ago, but social ills such as racism, sexism, academic elitism, religious hypocrisy, political strife, deprivation, and excess are hardly yesterday’s news.  Ms Adiele succeeds in bringing the reader into her world and effectively demonstrates why she, a well educated, mixed-race, American, young woman, made the choices she did.  Her observations and insights about life at home as well as in a foreign country are unsettling in their accuracy and candor.  What I appreciate most about Meeting Faith is that it explores the journey rather than the destination.  Adiele is a perceptive student; she’s attempting to make sense of a complicated world, and that’s an endeavor we share.  Part travelog, part spiritual exploration, part social commentary, I enjoyed reading Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun.

Have a great week everybody, and I’ll post again next Friday.

One Response to “Connections”

  1. Love this picture of yours, Terry. And your post…

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