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Welcome!

Welcome to my blog about my soon-to-be-published fiction novel, "Breathing Color into Teal." It's described below, and is followed by Chapter One if you click on the "Read More" key. Explore a bit, and you will also find musings about trauma, my bicycle tour, death, and if I can figure out how to format them, original recipes for simple, good eating. It's a bit of a mishmash, but then, so is life. I hope that if you enjoy something here, you leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you. And, don't worry, your email won't be posted.

Chapter 1

January 3, 2010

Book Summary

Teal Green’s passion is her mission to heal the world of war through a bodywork practice that specializes in traumatized veterans. A wounded healer blind to her own suffering of traumatic stress, Teal’s life is a reflection of her inner struggle; the more she tries to stifle the noise from her past, the louder and more chaotic her current circumstances become. But as each new turn of events builds on her skewed, wounded perceptions, she becomes more confused and isolated until everything about her unwinds into an out-of-control, surreal dance involving government conspiracies, a suppressed alternative energy, and multinational corporate corruption.

Publication date TBA. Read more…

It’s been a while

January 16, 2012

Wow. Except for one recent post, I haven’t logged onto my blog for while, and I definitely hadn’t looked at the stats. Apparently, people have been reading. Thank you.

I have had quite the journey since blogging about my mother’s death, though I really don’t know how much of that I’m ready to reveal. Suffice it to say that I’ve been in and out of some major trauma responses–and have experienced some deep healing because of it. I hope to share some of my learning here, though at the moment, I’m going through a remodel in my new home and am exhausted by consistent waves of triggers that I’m confronting like a super hero swashbuckling six foes at once. It feels like I’m earning a doctorate in addressing trauma, and I have the naive hope that perhaps maybe I’ll finally graduate from management of my symptoms to “true healing.”

That belief, by the way, is what has kept me from posting. I’m grappling with whether I want to be identified with trauma as a writer for however long, or live a life that has integrated beyond trauma’s daily invasions. If I could live a life that goes beyond trauma management into one where there is no trauma to manage, also known, to me, as “true healing,” do I want to be associated with it professionally?  The hope that I can heal this once and for all, get over it, is still there. Get over it–the words that piss me off more than most when I hear them given as advice. If only I could. I don’t know yet if it’s possible, and I also know better than to hold out for perfection. For today, management is what I’ve got, and it is serving me. I might as well share.

So, with the hope that my musing may actually be of use beyond pigeonholing me into a label, my intention is at the very least to get a few more posts out. It’s sort of a setup, to go public with that because my computer is in the shop and the next week is going to be very busy in my home, but it also leads me into a future topic–how self-created stress keeps me distracted from what’s really hurting me.

Until the next time, peace.

Really

November 16, 2011

Just watched Jon Stewart’s reaction to Sandusky’s phone interview on NBC news. Love you, Jon Stewart!

And, my reaction to this country’s whole reaction to this guy is—WTF?

Is it because he’s part of a powerful team in a lucrative sport? Or because his victims are boys?

One out of 4 or 5 girls, depending on the survey, has been molested by someone they know. Most suffer in silence. Most suffer in silence because if they do bring it up to another trusted adult, they are thrown from their homes, ignored, pooh-poohed, told it wasn’t so bad. Or maybe there is no trust to mention it to another. Ever. So they adjust. Live with the perpetrator. Make do.

So yeah, I’m glad there is press about the allegations. And, this is still America. There is due process and all that. Thank God. I mean that. Seriously.

And, this is only one case in—how many? A million?

It took football to bring this to the attention of America? Puh-lease.

Forgotten memories and PTS

November 3, 2011
If certain viruses go dormant in our systems for years, if not forever–syphilis, herpes zoster, to name two–then why is it so hard to believe that the same can be true for memories? Yeah, sure, two are viruses and the other an awful memory. But could there be a link?
And, on another plane of thinking, why wouldn’t youth be more virulent against not only physical disease, but psychological dis-ease, as well?
Has anyone heard of these concepts before? Have I missed some grand points in all the reading I’ve done on this topic?
When it comes to forgotten memories, I haven’t heard any arguments against the concept when it comes to soldiers’ experiences. But stick your toe into the realm of recalled childhood sexual abuse memories, and there are not only arguments, but whole lawsuits against the validity of such claims.
My character, Teal Green, unfortunately has to deal with both kinds of traumas and the resulting muck in her head that makes it almost impossible to discern danger from caring. My novel, Breathing Color Into Teal, is about her journey toward healing.

Discoveries along the road

November 9, 2010

Did you know you can get a 32 ounce refill of soda at Burger King for 3 cents? In a Wendy’s cup, no less.

Okay, so the last time I stopped at a fast food joint since before this summer was 1991, so I’m a bit out of the loop. But geez–it’s been forever since you can type a cent sign off a standard keyboard! I wonder what they would have said if I tried to pay with a credit card.

I did question the sanity of refilling 32 ounces of soda, and how often it’s done by the general public. I drank 64 ounces yesterday, and boy, did it feel like it. Crackling headache through the night, restless sleep and waking up periodically feeling paranoid, yet also a sense of extreme exhaustion. The stuff is addictive, though. I forgot how good it is, even though there is absolutely nothing natural in it. If this is what people’s tastes are used to, it’s no wonder why things like real juices are doctored up with flavorings and more sugar. And if people are ingesting 64 ounces a day, no wonder this country is so stressed.

But I have to say, it did make the drive more tolerable. Or, I’m getting used to the long journey up to the res. It was a quick visit for me this time, just a couple of short visits with my friend in the hospital. Love that man. Need to figure out how to make this work without driving myself nuts. And going broke.

I left the hospital much later than I expected, partly to avoid an incoming storm and partly so I wouldn’t have to drive at night for too long. I forgot the time change added an hour of darkness to my trip. Some day, I will drive through the Medicine Bow area when I can actually see it. For now, for some reason, that part of the road in the dark reminds me of Hawaii, of all places. Just as you start going up the hill going East.

Last night I took I80 to I25 because on the way up I got a ticket on 287 just south of Laramie and didn’t want to drive 65 mph on that road to make amends. Had to laugh at that, because when I hit 25, between the wind and the unfamiliar rutted road, I had to slow down, anyway. My air pressure light keeps coming on and I wasn’t 100% sure if there were high winds causing me to veer or if the roads were bad, or if a tire was going flat. It was too dark to pull over and so I basically zenned out with the feel of my car on the road for twenty miles until I got to the first gas station. It would have been a stupid decision if I did have tire issues, but luckily, I didn’t.

Then there was a bunch of construction on I25. It wasn’t going to start until I was long off the road, but all the warning signs were set up for 55 mph anyway. If I drive 80 mph, the drive takes me about 5 hours. At 65 mph most of the way, it takes 6.

The cop tried to tell me speeding wouldn’t make much a difference in time. Wait until his wife has a baby. And his argument about safety is phooey. Doing 75 on 287 feels much safer than doing it on I25, which is much more crowded and uneven.

Sorry for what I think is another boring blog, but with all the drama in my life, boring is feeling rather nice.

Inception

July 30, 2010

Saw the movie Inception last night. It was thoroughly entertaining. Loved seeing the cutie from Third Rock from the Sun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I couldn’t place him until I looked him up on IMBD, he’s grown up so much. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him. And Lucas Haas–remember him and those big doe-y eyes from Witness? I hope this role gets him casted more, as well.

Oh my, I sound like one of those old biddies I used to run while with a grandmother. “Oh, I remember you when you were this big.”

Sigh.

I was sad to see, though, that the immense talent of Ellen Page was poorly cast in this movie. She did a great job, don’t get me wrong. I just am not convinced a character her age would be as insightful as she was. The character either needed more development, or should have been casted with someone older. Or older-looking (what gorgeous skin she has!).

I only bring it up because there was something about the movie that jarred me that I couldn’t put my finger on until today. Yes, there were holes in the plot, but I decided not to think too hard about them because the premise and special effects were awesome, and the plot was much better developed than some other action flicks. Why I couldn’t ignore the age of one character . . . upon whose wisdom the resolution of the story depended . . .

Perhaps the production team assumed that all females carry such deep understanding, no matter their age. Maybe it’s some sort of compliment (sort of like the offhanded compliment Oprah commented on years ago about how black women are cast as if black women don’t age). . .

Even as a kid, there was something that always bothered me about these psychologically savant children. “Out of the mouth of babes” is one thing if used sparingly, but when they are spewing a whole psychology dissertation–it just makes me crabby. Neil Simon’s child character in The Good-by Girl drove me nuts when I first saw the movie back in high school. Yeah, maybe the intention was for the child to play the Fool, the Court Jester whose innocent comments shake the world around her. But overdone, I see the art as lost and the child becomes a lazy person’s tool to cut to the punch.

Snore.

I do note with great humility that apparently, my tastes run counter to the rest of the population when you take into account the popularity of Neil Simon. What right do I have to call a successful writer lazy? I’m not saying he is wrong or a bad writer. . .

I suppose my opinion is tainted by having been a child who was expected to act older than her years her whole life. Way back, I probably identified with Neil Simon’s child characters. Except I didn’t have their wisdom. They got through their ordeals with exuberance. I barely crawled. I was jealous.

“Children adapt,” Mom told me once when I was in my thirties.

“Yeah, but, who’s the adult?” I responded.

Not that Ellen Page’s character in Inception was a child. I assumed she was somewhere between eighteen and early twenties, a brilliant pupil studying architecture in France. But for me, there were too many questions about her psychology that I could have ignored had she appeared to be someone with a little more life experience behind her. That said, I totally understand why the actress took the part. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that cast in a blockbuster movie alongside Leonardo DiCaprio? She was smart.

Perhaps beyond her years.

Real Encounters

July 20, 2010

Have you ever met someone and immediately known that you would enjoy becoming friends? Or at least wanted talk with that person some more?

I met a woman the other night, and instantly could tell I liked her. Later on, I bumped into her again and, for the third time, had to ask her name. We started to talk about writing, and that’s when I discovered that she is THE Lisa Jones, who wrote the book I posted about a few months ago, Broken, A Love Story. It’s an autobiography that encompasses everything I love to read about–love, breaking down, building up, healing, relationships, healers, truth, honesty, introspection, nature, signs . . . . It’s powerful. It transformed me. It gave me profound dreams. I called a friend to share just about every other paragraph–

OMG! Lisa Jones!

I think I may have even squealed. So not cool for someone from the East. But I was caught off-guard–how was I to know she was the author of this transformational autobiography? In her picture on the back cover she’s wearing a hat, and there we were, in ninety degree heat.

I tried to joke because all the questions I had had after reading the book were nowhere to be found in my head. Nor was any information about the book. My mind was one big void. All I could say was, “You’re much shorter than I thought you’d be . . . .”

The silly thing is, it’s not like I haven’t met writers who I admire before. I’ve chatted with Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina) and gave my card to Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones), asking her to consider writing an endorsement for me (I still haven’t sent her anything). I hooped with Gail Storey, author of The Lord’s Motel and God’s Country Club and sat through a concert and dined with Julene Bair (One Degree West).  For goodness sakes, I not only met William (Bill) Styron, author of Sophie’s Choice, but had drinks with him at Elaine’s in New York City. I interned at Rolling Stone magazine and met most of the heavy hitters there. Sure, it’s all exciting, very. But nothing that I went gaga about. But then again, none of those encounters caught me by surprise. When I somehow managed to be the first to shake the hand of  Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) after an inspirational talk she gave, I did shed some tears.

My conversation with William Styron included a group of other college-aged students studying writing. We were discussing the characters in Sophie’s Choice, deliberating as to who they were and what made them take certain paths. It was like talking about friends, ones we cared about and wanted to help. Then, one of the students spoke up and marvelled how we could speak of fictional characters as if they were alive. The conversation stopped.

“Well, duh,” was the unspoken reaction from most of us. Isn’t that the biggest compliment one can give an author? To respond as if his characters were real?

She couldn’t let go of her point. My friend, Linda, who had arranged the get together, was perhaps the most mortified. “How can she consider herself a fiction writer?” she snapped later that evening.

And, I have to agree. The best books are the ones where the characters travel from the imagination and are birthed into humans. Beings. People that exist. They feel like people you know. Sometimes you become them, you relate to them so deeply.

Heck, while reading the first Harry Potter book, I even found myself believing in the setting so much that I felt the author at moments did a disservice in her descriptions. “Oh, it’s not like that,” I’d say to myself, as if I’d visited Hogwarts before. “No, no. She got it wrong. It’s more like–.”

We believe in well-written characters. We sweat and fear and cry with them, cheer them on, celebrate their victories, wish they’d make different choices. They become people we know, people we’d love to meet, even if it’s impossible.

And, perhaps that explains part of my reaction around meeting Lisa. Her characters are real. She is one of them, the main character, as a matter of fact. She didn’t just come alive in the writing–there she was, standing in front of me. I was thrown into a surreal world of knowing that all the feelings, concerns, and movement dredged up in me while reading her book, which read like good fiction, were not inspired by real people; they are real. These were people I had wanted to meet, but never thought I would, which made them, I guess, more fictional in my head. And I knew that if I ever had the chance to meet them, I’d probably feel intimidated, or embarrassed, to push my way into their–real–lives.

What is written on a page feels like part of a different world. And yet, here I was, face to face with that world. The door had not only opened, but had appeared unexpectedly. I’d had no time to prepare for the encounter. This friendly, bright stranger became someone I’d already met, and had come to know and care about. Yet, before me, she was still a stranger. That I knew.

No, I wasn’t drinking. Much.

At the same time, she knew nothing about me. It’s sort of like walking into someone’s den and observing them, unnoticed, then suddenly being seen. Where does one start to balance the equation? Do you ask questions, or blab on about yourself and why you feel such a connection?

But I had felt a connection with this woman before I met her, I told myself. So it isn’t all gaga, teen idol sort of adoration kind of stuff. She really does have an engaging presence–

And then another one of her “characters” walks up and says hello. Literally. Just as I was beginning to calm down, the gaga comes out again. OMG! He’s real, too!

Oi.

Again, it’s not like I haven’t been awed by other people. I felt a connection to Gail Storey before I met her, too, based on her presence alone. She seemed fun and wild, so I introduced myself. Then I heard about and read her books, which are hilarious, and turned a bit shy.  I’m sure I will do the same after I read Julene Bair‘s book, which is tugging at my attention from my desk. Jasmin Cori had been a friend of a friend who I was just getting to know when I read the as-of-then unpublished Healing from Trauma, which transformed our budding friendship into one with an even deeper appreciation and respect. Andy Stanton’s Pilates for Fragile Backs did the same. I’ve dined with and been inspired by Rosemary Carstens, author of Dream Rider: Roadmap to an Adventurous Life, Alyce Barry (Practically Shameless), Simeon Hein (Opening Minds: A Journey of Extraordinary Encounters, Crop Circles, and Resonance). And I have to admit, that after I did a reading alongside of Linda Tate, whose Power in the Blood memoir is reminiscent to me of the writing of my long-time favorite, Alice Walker, I was too shy to introduce myself. I waited months until I saw her at a potluck at Melanie Mulhall’s (Living the Dream) this past June to tell her how much I enjoyed her book. Then there is Lys Anzia, responsible for the jaw-dropping Women News Network, and Deborah Fryer, who wrote, produced and directed, SHAKEN.

Okay, so am I name dropping now? I’ve gone from gaga to name dropping? This is so not me.

Though, apparently, it is.

I’m going to meet up with Lisa this week and I hope talk, among other things, about my going to Wyoming to meet the other main character in her book.

See? There I go, calling them characters, as if they are fiction. But they are not.

I vacillate about whether to reread Broken, A Love Story–do I want to meet Lisa’s version of these people or encounter my own? Who will they be, in the flesh? Can I meet them without any preconceived notions? I’ve already had conversations with them in my head, like I do with most characters–

Okay, so that started because I was a lonely child who lived in fantasy. It was a safe place that I could control, where no one but me defined who I was, where I was liked and admired by people who I liked and admired, be they fictional characters or idols fabricated by their PR machines. It was how I survived. It’s not where I live now, but it’s still something fun to do. I can’t help it. I continue to study and extrapolate from what I read. I dream about meeting people I admire and hope I could see them as themselves rather than through the lens of their public image. I ask them questions, get advice. It’s an imaginative way to step out of my own myopic box and see the world from another angle. And it works.

But, when they are real and you actually meet them, then what happens?

I guess I will continue to find out.

Grieve . . .

July 19, 2010

I’ve posted this before, but came upon it when rereading my blog and reworked it a little with hopes that it will be used by grieving people all over. I offer permission to reuse it as long as my copyright is respected. All that means is to be sure to use it as it is (no changes) and print my name and copyright date. If you’ve found it helpful, I’d love to hear your story.

Grieve . . .*

by Debbie Mihal ©December 2009

Grieve. Grieve in your own way, in your own time. Don’t let others take this from you. Don’t believe the poem that tells you not to cry because I live on. Yes, even though I am still “here,” your loss is very real. It is physical and palpable. Embrace it until there is nothing left to hold. Grief is your right. Take this path, this right of passage, and walk through it. You’ve earned it. Savor it. In savoring it, you savor our relationship, our friendship. Hate and love me as you need to. I was not perfect. Embrace it all and grieve.

Eventually, I’d love it if you transformed your grief and memories of me into something useful. I’d like not so much to be remembered as be used, actively, in the here and now, in the present. Use me to cheer you on, to support your heartfelt choices, to challenge you, to negotiate the best for you. Use me as if I was still there, pushing and coddling, asking you to be true to yourself. Continue to use me as your inspiration, your friend, your sounding board. Use me as an anchor to hold onto in rough times and as the wind in your sails when things are smooth. Continue to push against my stubbornness in order to find your voice. Add my strength to yours and allow yourself to trust in leaps and bounds of spirit, body and mind. Use me in a way I couldn’t allow when I had a body and needed to protect my own boundaries. Use me now more than ever because I no longer have my own needs. Scoop up the memories and blow them into the wind and let them seed inspiration for yourself and others. Laugh aloud and dance hard, savor the music and simply live, with your teeth cutting into life like the fangs of a hungry animal. Use me and my death as a reminder that it all ends, that life is too precious to live in a box. Use me, and in doing so, help me make up for what I could not do. Help me help you to live. Use me, as I wouldn’t let you when I was alive. I am no longer here and am boundless. Use me.

*Inspired by an exercise, “Making Death Your Ally” from Melanie Mulhall’s book, Living the Dream: A Guidebook for Job Seekers and Career Explorers, and my mother, Irene Mihal, 1933 – 2009.

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