On Ancestral Medicine, the Kegel App, and Making Bad Art

April 17, 2020

woman standing in front of flowing water
Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

Good morning and happy Friday. I hope you and yours are well.

Two weeks ago, an advertisement for ancestral medicine popped up on my Instagram feed and caught my attention. I liked what they shared about where we are today and what we, the global collective, can do to heal the planet and ourselves during the current pandemic. The gent teaches an online course on the art of ritual, mysticism, the religious traditions of world religions, the spirit world as helpers (much like praying for the intercession of God, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the Catholic saints and archangels). And about healing our ancestors to heal ourselves. Hmmm, I was intrigued by that last bit.

In the early days, as our current global pandemic began to unfold and show its lethal virulence, I’d been thinking (and writing) about ancestors, ancestor worship, and my ancestors. As a nature-loving, Reiki practitioner, and non-churchgoing, prayerful Catholic, who loves everything history, healing, mystical, and spiritual, the course appealed to me on many levels.

Since we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and I have a bit of time on my hands during writing breaks (which seem longer than they were pre-COVID), I thought it might be perfect timing to learn something new. I checked out the ancestral medicine website and course curriculum. In light of my interest in the ancestors (and because I believe in synchronicity), before I could talk myself out of it, I’d signed up for the online course on ancestral medicine and ritual.

During a family Zoom call, I told my kids I’d signed up for the course. My daughter immediately joked that I would learn how to heal with leeches and my son mentioned bloodletting. Smart ass kids! We laughed our heads off and I joked we’d probably learn about sin eating, too. I love that my kids keep me grounded in the here and now, and remind me not to take things so seriously, smile.

This week I completed Lessons One and Two, the introduction to ritual, which included videos, additional reading resources, and homework. Since I’m used to and enjoy the rituals and meditative prayer traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and the healing arts I learned from my maternal grandmother from Puerto Rico, I’m enjoying the course.  I was immediately reminded of my first novel, A Decent Woman, which is chockful of prayer, ritual, spiritual practices, African healing traditions, and the worship of Orisha deities. I thought how wonderful this course will be as a primary source research tool for my second novel and work-in-progress (WIP), The Laments, which is the story of a young novice nun and an aging Spanish friar.

After completing the first two lessons, which were essentially reviews for me, I did wonder if I should have signed up for the advanced course…but it’s always good to start at the beginning. I like a story well-told, from the first word to the last. I don’t want to miss a thing.

Without realizing it, I’d put my desire to learn something new and relevant to what we’re currently dealing with into the Universe and the teacher appeared. On my Instagram feed.

Here’s to hoping we all find new ways to cope in the new normal and nurture those new skills in the future.

Be well, stay safe. Don’t listen to Trump. Listen to Dr. Fauci and to your gut instincts.

Eleanor x

***

April 18, 2020

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Good morning, I hope you and yours are well on this beautiful Saturday.

Before I discovered my passion for writing, I was a full-time, exhibiting artist. I painted portraits and still lifes in watercolor and entered my pieces in art competitions all over Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. I won watercolor awards at the Torpedo Factory and The Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, and throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland. I’m a good artist and lately, I miss that part of my life.

Yesterday I drew a silver box that sits on my writing desk in my typical realistic style. Wow, it looked like a double-vision drunk person had drawn it. It was bad, very bad. From the grave, Picasso raised his eyebrows and said, “Oh, mija, bless your little ol’ heart. Just stop”. Admittedly, I was shocked by my drawing skills that lacked depth, dimension, accurate proportions, and any semblance of artistic elegance; exactly the opposite of what I’d intended. Instead of languishing in despair over losing my skills and my artistic muse, I laughed at how bad the rendering was and decided I hadn’t lost a thing–I just need more practice. The added bonus of that artistic hour of enjoyable focus was not stressing about this damn virus, our future, and how much I despise certain politicians. There’s that, too.

So. I’ve decided when I can’t find the words for my WIP or a blog post, I shall paint, draw, make a collage, or write a poem. If necessary, I’ll do all four. We are all creative spirits. We create, that’s what we do best. All forms of creation are necessary and helpful means of expression when words fail us, especially now.

My teleworking friends are also making art in the evenings and on the weekends. Others are baking bread and cakes; creating floral arrangements; hand sewing whimsical cloth toys; writing children’s books; posting funny videos of their quarantine experiences; reading books to their young children; and trying their hands at gardening, even if only in large pots on their balconies. Make something. You’ll feel better.

What I’ve learned about myself and life during quarantine:

I must keep drawing and painting to get my art mojo back, even if at the moment, it’s bad art. It’ll return.

Humor, music, my kids, friends, and good books are key to having a good day. God bless the goofy comedic actor Leslie Jordan (@thelesliejordan), whom I follow on Instagram. These days, he’s saying what most of us are thinking.

Thank you to my kids and my family members for their good humor, love, patience, and for their honesty on days when they are struggling. We’re not alone.

It’s perfectly okay to eat fried eggs, omelets, and tuna melts without bread directly from the frying pan.

Melted dark chocolate can heal most of my emotional low points.

As long as my bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen are kept in a semi-orderly state, I feel good.

Do I need a Kegel Exerciser with an app? Instagram thinks I do.

I have a high tolerance for watching Netflix series in my jammies for two or three days. All my clothes are stretchy and black.

I honor my intuition and early coronavirus freakouts about dwindling food supplies. I bought enough food for a few months and I’m glad I did. Last week, I couldn’t get an appointment for curbside delivery at my supermarket for all the money in the world.

Thank God for my dog Sophie, the current love of my life.

The annoying, annual Spring occurrence of a bird’s nest under the air conditioner unit in my bedroom with loud, hungry baby birds reminds me that life goes on. And that I’m hungry again.

NATIONWIDE TESTING IS CRITICAL BEFORE REOPENING OUR ECONOMY. Yes, I meant that all in caps. Listen to Dr. Fauci…except that yesterday he said that nationwide testing isn’t the only way to open up the economy. Good God, is Fauci drinking the White House Koolaid? I hope not. In my opinion, nationwide testing is the ONLY way to keep everyone 100% safe. Or at the very least, test each employee who physically returns to the workplace. Is that feasible? On second thought, nationwide testing is the way forward so we aren’t faced with a second wave of outbreaks far worse than the first.

Again, God bless our doctors, nurses, mental health therapists, and everyone on the front line at this time. As for the World Health Organization response in the early days of this pandemic…hmmm. I wonder if they may soon have to answer some deadly serious questions.

Be well, stay home, and be safe out there. Wash your hands.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Me in March 2020

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is in quarantine and working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

Thoughts on the virus, wisdom, and our ancestors

April 10, 2020

red rose flowers bouquet on white surface beside spring book with click pen and cup of cofffee
Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

I’ve lost track of how many days I’ve been in quarantine at home. Maybe 28 days? Two months, three? Since I write full-time and work from home, it’s difficult to say. Even before West Virginia Governor Justice’s stay-at-home order, my winter outings were few and far between. I love skiing and sitting in front of a roaring fire with a Glüwein or a hot toddy and a good book; however, I’m not a big fan of long winters. Pre-COVID-19 (November or December 2019?) and when driving conditions weren’t treacherous, I traveled to the DC area to visit my daughter in Northern Virginia and my sister in Maryland. In March, I went to the supermarket twice and once to the smoke shop near my house for supplies only because they have a drive-thru. This quarantine has been one long blur.

In late February and all of March, I had a bad case of bronchitis that wouldn’t quit. My GP prescribed two antibiotics over the telephone that didn’t work to heal the cough, not a dry cough, and I still have a bit of a phlegm today. Sorry, TMI. My cousin, a nurse in Ohio, (God love her) said she was ill in December with COVID-like symptoms. She wonders if we already had the damn virus. I hope so. Only I read an article this morning about a recovered patient, who contracted the virus again. Damn. This is indeed a Super Bug. It’s frightening how resilient and virulent this novel coronavirus is, and how no one is immune.

I was saddened to learn the elderly, and members of the Hispanic and black communities are suffering in great numbers. Am I surprised? No. Poverty, lack of health insurance, and low-paying jobs that force many to work outside the home at this time are the culprits, but we always knew this, didn’t we? They don’t have the luxury of staying home. My heart breaks for those in homes across this country who’ve lost their lives to this virus. We’ve lost too many precious, wise, and learned teachers.

This morning, I taped a piece of paper to my front window that reads, “To all those who deliver my mail, packages, my monthly meds, and to those who pick up my garbage twice a week, THANK YOU. Thank you for keeping us going during this scary time. You are all my heroes.” I added hearts, moons, and stars, and a goofy drawing of me and Sophie waving.

I wish you a peaceful, beautiful day. Be well, stay safe, and remain hopeful. Think of this time as a marathon, not a sprint. This too shall end.

Eleanor x

***

April 11, 2020

We’ve always half-joked Daddy would outlive us all. Since 2010, my father has beaten colon cancer, several bouts of skin cancer, and a few years ago, his ear was surgically removed to save his life. He also suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s. My dad lives in a private nursing home in Florida with two other patients, all cared for by a good woman from the island of St. Lucia. This year alone, my dad made it through two bouts of pneumonia that landed him in the hospital for two weeks and two weeks in a rehabilitation center. He was tested for coronavirus and it turned out he had type A pneumonia. He’s been severely dehydrated several times this year (he forgets to drink water and refuses help, which is typical combative behavior in Alzheimer patients) and has been transported to the ER with barely a pulse. He’s still here. This tough, former Command Sergeant Major is hanging on and staying strong, even if he doesn’t recognize anyone but the kind woman who cares for him.

It’s clear to me, my dad inherited tough Polish/Russian genes from his parents. I can only hope and pray I have those strong survivor genes in my DNA from my ancestors, my children, as well. These days, I’m thinking of my loved ones who’ve gone ahead of me, my ancestors, who lived through hurricanes, earthquakes, poverty, the Great Depression, and the Spanish Flu. And who lived through it all to tell the tales.

Be well, stay strong.

Eleanor x

***

April 12, 2020

pink cherry blossoms in close up photography
Photo by Evija Daukste on Pexels.com

Happy Easter to you and yours.

Be safe and stay strong.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Bernie, Birthdays, and the New Normal

April 8, 2020

i voted sticker lot
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In the last few minutes, Bernie Sanders announced his withdrawal from the battle for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. I can’t believe it. So soon? The pit in my stomach feels awful and I’m close to tears. His campaign has ended, “The fight for justice is what our movements remains about.”

So. We are left with Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee. He was never my first choice, but I said I would vote blue all the way and that’s what I intend to do.

Initially, I had high hopes for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. I shook my head at the ridiculousness of timing in life…Bernie can’t seem to catch a break.

We fought the good fight for you, Bernie. You fought your heart out for every American.

Added this morning:

Last night as I perused Facebook before bed, I read several posts that well, shocked me. It appears more than a few Latinx will not vote for “creepy Joe Biden” as they put it, no matter what. A few said they were not voting, at all. Wow. One said he is considering switching parties and voting for 45. Seriously? What the hell has 45 done for Latinos in this country and in Puerto Rico? As if he’d read my mind, he replied to a comment, saying 45 had built hospitals in NYC and had done a lot for the good of our country during this pandemic.

Well. I’ll leave it right there. I respect everyone’s right to vote as they see fit.  I wish I could understand, though. It makes no sense to me, at all. And not voting? I cannot get behind that decision. Your vote is so important.

***

April 9, 2020

light landscape nature sky
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Happy birthday to my beautiful Aries daughter! I wish you every blessing and a world of love and peace. I love you more than words could ever express. The world is absolutely a better place with you in it.

The poppy, my daughter’s favorite flower, is the symbol of enduring remembrance of the First World War; how eerily appropriate for today as the world fights a war against the novel coronavirus.

My daughter is sheltering in place with her boyfriend and my son is with his lovely girlfriend, which makes me very happy. We agreed how strange it is to celebrate a birthday today, and because of who my daughter is, she added that we have so much to be grateful for today. She’s right. We do. We’ll never forget her 2020 birthday.

I keep hearing people say they’ll be glad to get back to ‘normal’. I don’t know what they mean. The definition of normal, like an art piece, is subjective. My normal as a full-time writer may feel downright boring, too intense, difficult, or lonely to you. Your normal may work for you like a charm and irritate the hell out of your neighbor. What’s normal?

The collective, global normal of last year (or as far back as 2016 for me) wasn’t all that great: people around the world were already suffering greatly, the planet was suffering, and corporate American was getting away with murder. Hatred, greed, and the callous treatment of and disregard for others were rampant in this country. I hope radical changes begin to take place in our world; it’s time. Where this will end is anyone’s guess. We need a change, a seismic change/shift in this country, in the world. Perhaps this virus is the catalyst for change.

This morning, I pray for the world and everyone on the frontline of this pandemic, and for those who’ve tested positive, fought hard and survived, or tragically succumbed to this deadly virus. I pray my children, family members, and friends remain safe, healthy, and happy. I pray we all do.

This too shall end. Stay strong. I can’t wait to hug my children and loved ones again in the near future. This daily journal is key to keeping my balance and perspective, and to staying sane.

“In the rush to return back to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” – Dave Hollis

Back to editing and finishing up a written interview with Five Directions Press, which should come out in May. I’m grateful for their kind invitation.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

 

 

 

 

 

Donate. Help Others.

April 7, 2020

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Today, the US death toll from the novel coronavirus surpassed 10,000 in the last 24 hours. From what I understand, the real numbers will never be known because hospitals and medical examiners didn’t have access to COVID-19 tests in late February. Doctors suspect they saw patients who died of the virus, but they couldn’t confirm at the time and death certificates did not contain COVID as the cause. Many are dying before they get tested or while they wait on test results in hospitals, and postmortem specimen collections of suspected COVID-19 in deceased patients are only happening when there is no shortage of tests, which is the case across the nation as I write this blog post. This is horrific.

Sorry for the grim beginning to this post, but this is the reality we are living through in this country. All the online dance parties, music videos, cooking shows, and NETFLIX binges (I’m guilty of the last two) are great to keep our minds off what’s going on outside our door, but they can’t erase the fact that people around the world are suffering and dying alone, and in some Latin American countries, people are hungry. The mortality rate of black and brown people dying of this disease is higher than that of white people. These are facts we can’t ignore.

Staying home works to survive this virus. Sheltering at home will eventually flatten the curve and protect those who are most vulnerable from contracting the disease unless you don’t have a home to shelter in place. What if you’re homeless, jobless, alone, or suffer from mental health issues. What then? What do you do?

While we should continue to check in with our loved ones, neighbors, and friends, let’s help others, if we can. But what can we do to help? We can’t leave our homes and the CDC urged us to stay home for the next two crucial and brutal weeks and to not even dream of venturing out to the grocery store or the pharmacy. What can we do? We can donate.

Here are some suggestions I found online. Please be sure to check them out before donating.

Feeding America’s Coronavirus Response Fund

Meals on Wheels

COVID-19 Response Fund – World Health Organization

American Red Cross: Give Blood

The United Way

The Salvation Army

Your local food banks, churches, women’s shelters, and homeless shelters

Your neighbors

Small businesses in your town

And from Charity Navigator:

Convoy of Hope

Project C.U.R.E

Water Mission

Good360

Matthew 25: Ministries

Vitamin Angels

World Resources Institute

Samaritan’s Purse

Direct Relief

Catholic Medical Mission Board

Action Against Hunger USA

Alight (formerly American Refugee Committee)

On the writing front:

My publisher informed us their manuscript cue is frozen at the moment as we all care for our families, which I absolutely understand. So, more time to edit for me. THE LAMENTS will see the light of day when it’s time.

By helping others, we help ourselves.

Stay home, be well, and stay safe.

Eleanor x

me in ma july 2019

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. She is the mother of two awesome adult children, who are doing amazing things in the world.

 

 

In Solo Quarantine: Hanging In There

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Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

April 3, 2020

I realize my blog posts are all over the place, but my thoughts and emotions are all over the place. I’m amazed I can write at all. So, good morning. I hope you are well.

This global pandemic is highlighting (and forcing) the need for change in the world. That’s a heavy statement, I know. The list is long: global warming; protecting the environment, our oceans, rivers, animals, and our precious resources, which include protecting the most vulnerable people in our societies. In light of covid-19, however, the most pressing and vital change needs to be our nation’s lack of preparedness for future pandemics and other global catastrophes. The United States failed Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in 2017 after Hurricane Maria and it is failing now. I could talk your ear off, rant, and complain about why the US is in the pathetic state of preparedness, readiness, we’re in, but I won’t go there on Palm Sunday. I will say that I would feel a whole helluva lot better if New Orleans native General Russell L. Honore and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo were running this country today.

Making changes in society and in the world, often requires personal changes in attitudes and behavior first, attitude adjustments, if you will. Today, however, most of us are having to reach deep to hang onto any semblance of normalcy and balance in our personal lives and in the lives of those whose care we are responsible for like our elderly family members and children still living at home. I’m surviving this pandemic as a single person, which is tough. I chose to live alone ten years ago, but a mandatory stay-at-home order is another beast altogether. There is no one to run to the grocery store for me and should I fall ill, I’m on my own. My neighbors have already agreed to take Sophie (my dog) if anything happens to me. It’s the first thing I thought of when things started to get ugly.

Anyone experiencing this horror alone has my respect. All healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and anyone on the frontline of keeping this country running have my heart and eternal gratitude.

The most important thing I’m doing is trying new methods of coping with and working through negative thoughts and uncertainty and incorporating new ways to balance my life under tremendous pressure and strain. A few years ago, I would have told you that going organizing a household move with two teenagers from Europe to the United States after a marital separation was the most difficult thing I’d ever faced. That was a cakewalk compared to living through this virus. You know, I bet I could write a comedy skit about the comparisons, but that’s for later…much later. God knows it’s okay to laugh, cry, and laugh some more, though. Humor keeps me sane along with my garden and staying in good touch with my kids, family members, and good friends.

I don’t know about you, but my brain has worked overtime these past weeks, in good ways and in some not-so-good ways. At times, my fight or flight reflex has also worked overtime, which I know can’t be sustained without causing damage to my healthy body and mind. It feels like we’re living in a Ground Hog Day/science fiction film–a never-ending epic of iffy, should we, shouldn’t we? outings to forage for food and supplies; quarantining at home with others or alone; and being mindful to wipe down each item our hands come into contact with, including disinfecting our shoes in a tray of bleach before entering our homes and doing the same for our car keys and credit cards. Nothing seems familiar. For most of us, daily routines have changed, unless you live in the eight states with no stay-at-home order, which is insane…I can’t imagine. The incredible part to me is that each person on this planet is dealing with varying degrees of anxiety and fear, and we’re all doing the best we can with what we have or don’t have. Yet, people still go out and congregate, even in states with stay-at-home orders. It boggles the mind.

A few days ago, my daughter emailed a useful and informative link to the website of Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, which I was grateful to receive and happy to pass along to you. Bessel van der Kolk is a Dutch psychiatrist, author, and educator, who specializes in trauma and stress. He offers webcasts, resources, and tips on how to cope and manage stress in traumatic situations. I highly encourage you to check him out and give him a listen.

https://www.besselvanderkolk.com

His videos did me a world of good. I felt more in control of my life, my body, and my mental health, which I know how to do in theory, but I needed to hear it again. I needed the reminder. I took the good doctor’s advice about moving my body, and after being too sedentary this past winter, I worked in the garden today. I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, aired out the damp gardening shed, and pulled weeds from the vegetable and herb garden and the flower beds. The sun’s warmth on my body felt amazing and my mood improved. I certainly felt more positive than earlier in the week. Weather permitting, I’ll be out in the yard tomorrow.

My most heartfelt prayers are with those who’ve lost precious loved ones to this horrific virus. My heart is with everyone fighting for their lives. Please hang on and fight, we need you.

Be safe. Be strong. Stay home, if not for yourself, then for others who are at high risk.

Eleanor x

***

April 4, 2020

As I sit on my kitchen porch admiring the beauty around me, I realize you’d never guess anything is wrong in the world, nothing seems amiss. It’s a beautiful Spring morning and like every year, the plants, bushes, and trees are doing what they do this time of year–they blossom, thrive, and begin to crowd each other for precious sunlight. The only thing that’s different on my street and in my city is there is very little traffic, no foot traffic, and the constant whine of ambulances often drowns out the birdsong. I’ve learned to focus harder and to practice patience–the birdsong always returns.

Last night, my son and his girlfriend set up a family video chat. We logged in from four US states and from Thailand. It was nice to see their smiling faces as we sipped our drink of choice and checked in for the first, two-family hangout since covid-19 reared its ugly head.

This morning, I joined a conference call with my sister, my stepmom, and the woman who cares for my 89-year-old father in a VA-sponsored home in South Florida. We are understandably worried about my father, who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s. We, his family, needed to hear him and we wanted to let his caregiver know we are here for them. It’s more important than ever to connect with our friends and loved ones. We are planning on a video call soon.

A funny aside—my dad was enjoying his breakfast when we called, which we were hoping to avoid because he seems able to only focus on one thing at a time. So after telling us he was fine and at his caregiver’s gentle nudging, he told us he loved us, he added, “Bye! Now get the hell outta here!” We cracked up and kept repeating, “Bye, Daddy!”. He laughed with us until the little game got old for him (not for us, we love and miss that surly, comical side of his), he sent us all to hell one last time. We showered my Dad with a chorus of how much we love him and hung up. I immediately cried because although I’ve known it’s possible for me to miss being by my father’s side when he passes because he lives in Florida, it’s now a reality that I may never see him again or hear his voice if he dies before a vaccine is found.

My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones during this time. No one should die alone. Yet, here we are, it’s horrific.

We need the man occupying the White House to order a nationwide stay-at-home order, immediately make nationwide testing happen for all Americans, and we desperately need a vaccine soon. Why the hell Trump isn’t supplying federal help to all state Governors is beyond comprehension, it’s reprehensible. I don’t understand.

I’ll end this blog post with something from Maria Popova’s amazing newsletter called Brain Pickings, which I’ve followed for years. The essay is called Stillness as a Form of Action: Tocqueville on Cataclysm as an Antidote to Cultural Complacency and a Catalyst for Growth.

“Even when nothing is happening, something is happening. This is a difficult fact for the human animal to fathom – especially for us modern sapiens, who so ardently worship at the altar of productivity and so readily mistake busyness for effectiveness, for propulsion toward progress. Silence is a form of speech, Susan Sontag wrote: “and an element in a dialogue.” Stillness is a form of action and an element in advancement, in evolution, in all forward movement.”

Beautiful.

As we head toward what the Surgeon General calls, “…the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives”, I wish you and yours a safe and healthy Sunday. Please wear your masks and gloves when you venture outside, and if you’re not in desperate need of food or supplies, stay home.

And for the Governors of the eight states who have yet to enact stay-home-orders, you will have blood on your hands. My prayers for the residents of those states.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Me in March 2020

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. She is the mother of two adult children, who are in the world doing wonderful things.

 

 

 

Blog Talk Radio Show: What’s Happening Now

MARCH 31, 2020 – BLOG TALK RADIO SHOW – NEWS OF THE DAY – HOST MARSHA CASPER COOK

PLEASE JOIN MARSHA CASPER COOK, JACK REMICK, AND ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA TODAY, MARCH 31, AT 4 EST 3CT 2 MT 1 PST

What’s Happening Now is a new show. They will be discussing the current COVID-19 crisis, writing during the pandemic, and tips on maintaining creativity.

Call in to speak with the host at (714) 242-5259.

Be safe out there.

Eleanor x

Thoughts on Writing, Loneliness, and Morning Pages

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“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” – Henry David Thoreau
After enjoying my daily hot water and meditation session, I realized I’ll celebrate a milestone in July. I’ve lived in this old house for a decade. A decade. That’s hard to believe. I have a lot to say today, smile.
While I love my period home and the life I created that allows me to write and to paint full time, West Virginia has never felt like home, certainly not my forever home. Virginia felt like home. Puerto Rico always feels like home, as well as Belgium and France. My kind neighbors were born in this city, and unlike me, their children and most of their family members live nearby. I have no family here. My children live in Northern Virginia and Thailand (which I visited last November), and my sister and her family live in Maryland. Close friends are scattered throughout the country and overseas, so in the summer months, I take a few road trips to visit friends and family, which I always enjoy. This summer will be no different. I’m looking forward to more happy times, creating new memories, and enjoying new adventures.
From my experience, fifteen years of experience as it turns out, writing books isn’t a life path conducive to a busy social life. I’ve become a happy loner, who enjoys working from home and loves writing books. No matter how lonely and isolated it may feel during the winter months, I wouldn’t change a thing about my decision to live a creative life. In the past, friends have urged me to move back to the DC area and return to my job in social services. Though I love the DC area and the availability of great restaurants, museums, and cultural events, my friend’s urgency to “fix my problem” was met with much resistance. No way, I’m staying put. My life may be a quiet life, but it’s my life and I love it.
In January 2020, I realized it wasn’t necessary to subtract from my life in any way to feel happier–I needed to add. I acknowledged I’d become a homebody and less active in winter. I don’t want to meet for lunch dates or to date for that matter. I want to share evenings with like-minded folks and other creative people. What I needed was a creative tribe. Bingo. I ordered my fifth copy of Julia Cameron’s seminal book on creativity called The Artist’s Way (TAW) and then I called two friends to join me in forming a new group. They passed the word along in their social circles, and I created my first Facebook event.
Why do I purchase a new copy of TAW for each group? Because each time I “do” the book, I’m a different person in a different stage of my life, and I view each group as a fresh start. Who doesn’t love a fresh start? I also write in the margins. A lot. I highlight passages and quotes that speak to me.
During the years I facilitated the first four creative clusters, I was an exhibiting painter, a founding member of the first English-speaking art guild in Brussels, Belgium, and I wrote poetry no one read. I was a married ex-pat with two children in high school. We owned a vacation home in the South of France and traveled extensively. I had a large circle of international friends and loved my life. Then, in a flash, it changed dramatically and before I knew it, my children were studying in the US and I shut the doors of my homes in France and Belgium. My idyllic life and European lifestyle had vanished.
In 2006, I moved back to the US, went back to school, worked full time, and put the rough draft manuscript of A Decent Woman, which I’d finished in Brussels during the fourth TAW group, in a box. I got on with my new life as a single, working Mom, but that didn’t last long. I felt like a fish out of water in more ways than one. From 2006 to 2010, I lived and worked in New York, Maryland, and Virginia, searching for my forever home and a way to return to my creative life, but to no avail. I wasn’t unhappy, just unsettled, and I didn’t have a free moment to do anything creative.
In 2010, I jumped off a cliff and bought a beautiful period home in West Virginia. I finally opened the box that contained my manuscript and went to work. A Decent Woman was first published in 2015 and republished in 2017. I painted on the side, but writing became my new passion, my obsession. It still is.
Earlier this month, my fifth creative cluster met for the first time at a local coffee shop. The five women were new to the book, which I’ve always credited for completely changing my life because it did. Actually, walking El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain changed my life. I went on that journey with my children, weeks after my husband left our home–a pilgrimage of the soul that utterly changed me and consequently, my life. I kept a nightly journal during that challenging walk and after my current work-in-progress, The Laments, is published this year (I hope!), I’ll begin working on the El Camino memoir of the most enlightening time of my life. I think I’ll call it, Saving Grace.
Back to the new TAW group. Sadly or just right, only one out of the five participants was able to brave the elements that evening. As always, it was a wonderful experience. I’d forgotten how much I love the book, the exercises, and how much I glean from Cameron’s special and intuitive wisdom. Since then, the participants have shared how much they’re enjoying the book and I can’t wait to meet them next month.
While I read and work with Week Two of TAW, I’m diligent about writing my Morning Pages and hard at work on The Laments, my second novel set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, 1927 to be exact. I haven’t written as many blog posts this year because I’m usually dealing with similar issues and thoughts in my Morning Pages. I don’t know why it’s an either-or situation for me; it just is. And I’m okay with that. The Laments is coming along nicely, and again, I am in love with my story and the unique characters.
During one of my February Artist Dates, I bought a sleek, black Waterman fountain pen (my second) and beautiful, cold-pressed D’Arche watercolor paper. The sun is shining today and Spring will arrive on March 19, at 11:50 pm. I’ve purchased my airline tickets for Puerto Rico and our Airbnb reservations on the island are secured. I’m happy. I hope you are, too.
I guess I did have a lot to say today. Happy creating!
Eleanor x

Me in March 2020

 

About Eleanor:
Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses.
Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1927 Old San Juan and Isla de Cabras, Puerto Rico. Look for The Laments in 2020.
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A Decent Woman Flat (1)

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