Grief · Memoirs · My Books · My Thoughts · poetry · Spirituality

Afraid of Tough Topics—Not Me!

We'll get through it! Tough Topic

Am I afraid of tough topics? Not at all! Two of my books touch very heavy subjects: death and the coronavirus pandemic, and I felt compelled to write them, no matter what the consequences. A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir addressed the death of my parents and my growth. Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? dealt with my experience with the coronavirus pandemic—another difficult concern.

Tough Topic #1—Death

A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir

A Time to Grow Up book cover. Tough Topic

When my father died in 1996, my mother told me, “Everyone grieves in their own way.”

I took these words to heart when Mom passed away in 2013. I discovered that writing poetry was the best way of working through my fresh grief. Eventually, I penned dozens of intimate, heartfelt poems about my parents’ lives and legacies and my deep sorrow and gradual recovery and growth. Yes, it was a grief memoir but a growth memoir, as well.

I discussed the emotional challenges of caring for my parents at the end of their lives. My words will strike a chord with any worried caretaker or child watching over ailing but fiercely independent loved ones.

As I explored the nuances of bereavement through my poetry, I provided inspiration and comfort for readers coping with the same burdens. While many of my poems explore the depths of my anguish, others exude humor and warmth—a reminder that there is still always light in the world.

Besides my poems, I included biographical sketches about my mother and father, as well as appendices that provide coping tips, suggested activities, and resources for others dealing with intense bereavement. These appendices offer a world of resources for anyone who has lost a parent or both.

This book received several awards:

  • 2018 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards “Finalist” in 2 categories: E-book Nonfiction and E-book Cover
  • 2018 Book Excellence Awards “Finalist” in the Memoir category
  • 2018 Independent Press Awards “Distinguished Favorites” in the Memoir category
  • 2017 New Apple Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing ”Official Selection” in the Biography|Autobiography|Memoir category.
  • 2017 New Mexico-Arizona book awards “Finalist” in 2 categories: Biography (Other) and E-book Nonfiction.
Tough Topic #2—Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Tough Topic

I invite you to read, reflect and respond to the global pandemic of 2020 and successive months. I encouraged readers to think about how the pandemic affected them and how they adapted. The book is intended to be used as a journal, a safe keeping place to revisit 2020. I viewed the forced shelter in place as an opportunity for spiritual discoveries and renewed spiritual growth. The book incorporates what I learned during my year and more of solitude, a transformative process leading me to find a reconnection with my “God.” I struggled spiritually and emotionally. My emotions ran deep from fear, struggle, and despair going deeper into her faith, ultimately making me a better, not a bitter person. 

Themed chapters with poetry and prose add depth to the book. I divided the book into chapters with content developed from my blog over the years. Each chapter begins with a carefully chosen thought provoking quote complementing the theme. My prose and poetry are creative and soul-stirring. Both are extensions of the chapter’s theme. Many of the poems deal with the anxiety and depict the universal struggles of uncertainty during this time. Readers will find them inspirational and comforting. Reflective questions at the end of each chapter encourage reader participation to share their personal thoughts and stories as well as process hidden fears and concerns during time spent in quarantine. 

I felt this book offered a soulful looking back at this worldwide pandemic and then a step into the future, clear of the spiritual cobwebs of that experience.

Someone consoling someone else. Tough Topics
We can face tough topics together!
Finally,

But do readers want to read books about such tough topics? It seems the world’s fascination focuses on lesser topics of importance, a means of escape. Are these too scary? Too personal? Too intimate? Is it denial? Is there a major fear of feelings, tears and loss?

Hopefully, you will take this opportunity to delve into one or both tough topics with me through reading my books and then grow spiritually. I offer them to console your wounded or broken heart. The choice is yours. We can face tough topics together, survive and grow!


Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme Tough Topic
Read, reflect and respond!

~I’m not afraid of tough subjects like the coronavirus. Yes, I get people are tired of hearing about it, but. . . Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme. Tough Topic
Grab a drink & read!

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Christianity · My Thoughts · Recovery · Spirituality

My Spiritual Father: A Priest and a Friend!

Father dancing with little girl - Spiritual Father

My spiritual father? Does that sound strange? I would say it’s a man who contributes to the growth and nurturing of my spirit, someone who touched my life deeply. As I thought about Father’s Day this week, I knew I’d already written about my dad and other key men in my life. So, I wanted to share about my spiritual father!

I met Fr. Tom Weston, a recovering Jesuit priest, thirty years ago. Here it is Father’s Day 2022 and I want to honor his work in my life. He contributed to my spiritual growth over the last thirty years in a variety of ways. I attended many retreats in Albuquerque after the Mesilla retreat identified below. After hearing him the first time, I have bought eleven recorded cassette tapes then CDs of his teachings. Then, during the coronavirus pandemic, Fr. Tom offered monthly Zoom retreats since April 2020 (or that’s when I started).

My First Experience

In the spring of 1993, I attended my first Serenity Retreat for recovery. A new friend in the program invited me to go with her to Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla, New Mexico, outside of Las Cruces for the weekend. She had raved about Fr. Tom often, and I needed a shot in the arm. I had been dealing with some heavy-duty stuff.

So, we took off at noon—both of us taught our morning classes and away we went. From the first talk on Friday night, I saw Fr. Tom’s amazing talents. He had me laughing one minute and crying the next, then laughing again. He provided a refreshing picture of recovery and Christianity that I needed.

On the drive down, my friend forewarned me Fr. Tom held ten-minute private counseling sessions on Saturday and sign up early because he filled up quickly. She knew the woes I had been going through and felt I needed an extra boost, so I signed up.

When my time came on his packed Saturday schedule, Fr. Tom suggested we walk around the pecan orchard next to the retreat house. I shared my current trauma that had my life topsy-turvy.

Calmly, he said, “I have no experience with your issue, but how about finding a tree here to connect with and something might come up.”

So, I followed his instructions and parked myself under near a tree with my journal. Immediately, memories flooded my mind, and I knew Fr. Tom had known my God and the trees would help me. This became a pivotal point in a deep healing for me.

Fr. Tom Grew to become My Spiritual Father

From then on, I became a follower of Fr. Tom, attending multiple retreats at the Dominican Sisters Retreat House in the South Valley and then off of Coors Boulevard in Albuquerque. Every retreat, I signed up for the one-on-one time with Fr. Tom, keeping him updated with my current life, and I loved the connection we made.

Over the years, listening to his teachings, Fr. Tom expanded my belief in my God from a punishing, judgmental white guy sitting in robes on the clouds to a peaceful, accepting personal God I could talk to and have a personal relationship with. And he did this through a variety of instruments: through an inclusive Mass on Sunday at the retreats and reading part of the Mass in Hebrew to connect me to our Jewish roots, through Rumi’s delightful and resounding poetry, through simple Buddhist reminders to stay present, through Fr. Anthony de Mello’s humor and stories and through Mary Oliver’s nature-focused poetry and especially her blue iris poem about prayer, “Praying.” With each retreat, I looked forward to his literary references peppered throughout the weekend.

Once, while listening to one of Fr. Tom’s recorded retreats, on one of my hundreds of four-hour trips north to Colorado to visit my folks or my southern trip to return home, he shared a very risky prayer. Immediately, I pulled over and jotted it down, shivered at its possibilities and put it away for many years. I felt if I prayed that prayer, the world would turn upside down.

Then he shared it again recently on one of his monthly Zoom retreats, and I embraced its truth and now pray it daily. Here it is:

Father Robert Egan’s Come Holy Spirit (Pentecost) Prayer

  • Come, Holy Spirit! We pray
  • Rattle our cages
  • Break into our locked houses
  • Water our parched land
  • Undo our bends and twistedness
  • Awaken our hearts
  • Help us overflow with kindness and
  • Give us unending joy.
Marked up Bible - Spiritual Father

Fr. Tom gave me the freedom to open my heart up to a larger God than I had ever known before and, with that, I have returned to my Christian faith and my religion of choice with a deeper acceptance and renewal.

In conclusion, your spiritual father may be the father that raised you. Mine wasn’t. My dad had little interest in spiritual matters. My spiritual father came many years later in life, in God’s time, and I am so grateful.

Do you have a spiritual father? Was it your dad? If not, who was he? How did he affect your life?

Fr. Tom’s website: https://www.innerlightproductions.net/fr-tom-weston


~NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, Friday, June 24 at 1:00 PM. Join us for a lively discussion of my books!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com