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RandiLynnMrvos



March 1, 2020

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Photo: Geran de Klerk 
BY CHANCE

Sometimes when we least expect it, the events of the day put us on a path of destiny.

A while back, I made plans to stop at the library just long enough to pick up a book when I spotted a friend whom I hadn't seen in years.

Most of us have probably run into friends and acquaintances by chance, but this meeting was different.

That day, I didn't expect to see someone who had worked in the same department at the hospital as I had some thirty years ago.  But there she was, on her way out of the library.  I called out her name.  She looked up and smiled.  After a hug, I asked her how she was doing.  Without a trace of emotion, she told me she was dying.

I was shocked, not only to learn of her predicament but that she seemed indifferent.  Or, was it she had come to accept her fate?  After she explained the details of her prognosis, I wondered:  why did we meet on this day, at this place, at this exact time?  Was there a purpose to this reunion?

At the time, I didn't realize that this may be synchronicity at work, the meaningful coincidences that play a role in our lives.

Author and public speaker Deepak Chopra defines synchronicity as an unexpected coincidence that happens to break statistical probabilities.  It is a conspiracy of improbabilities.  He believes that synchronicity happens when improbable events come together and move you into an extended state of awareness and enhance your intuitive abilities. 

As Jan revealed more details of her condition, I didn't know what to say, but I felt an overwhelming sadness.  This emotional impact is part of synchronicity. 

Mark Holland, co-author of Synchronicity says, "The primary reality of synchronicities is emotional, not intellectual."  He believes that the reason they’re there is to make us feel something and to show that our lives are rich and worth reflecting upon.   

I think back to the time when Jan and I were young medical technologists.  Jan liked to talk about the three rabbits she owned as pets.  She loved those rabbits and they were like family to her.

One time, Jan came by the house with a rabbit so that our young daughter could play with it.  Not long after that 'play date,' I retired from the working at the hospital.  That was the last time I saw her.  Happy bunny memories.  And now this.

Photo: James Wheeler 
You might believe the reunion with Jan was merely a coincidence, unless you look deeper and see the event as valuable and potentially instructive.

In Psychology Today, former Cincinnati reporter Gregg Levoy says Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, "believed that synchronicities mirror deep psychological processes, carry messages the way dreams do, and take on meaning and provide guidance to the degree they correspond to emotional states and inner experiences.

One only had to look at a recent event in my past to understand a possible meaning as to why I ran into Jan.

I understood the illness.

About two years earlier, my sister-in-law Barb died of a brain tumor, a glioblastoma—the same diagnosis as Jan's.  My husband and I became Barb's caregivers from diagnosis to death.  Little by little, the cancer robbed her of doing daily tasks like getting dressed and using silverware.  It robbed her of vocabulary—her words came out as gibberish.  Perhaps the reason for running into Jan was that I had been called upon to be available if she needed help.

Jan's closest family lives 500 miles away.  So, I volunteered to give her with rides.  On one occasion, I drove her to a doctor's appointment.  When we arrived, Jan needed to fill out papers for insurance records. The complications of her illness affected her memory.  She had forgotten her house number, but I was able to remind her.  Then as she continued to fill out the form, she came across a place for her birth date.  She grinned at me and said she remembered.  April 16th.

Jan was born on the same day as my father.

While there is no evidence that synchronicity exists, there are amazing coincidences that happen all the time.  Are they the result of random chance?  Or, do they convey some hidden meaning?  Only you can decide.

More questions ran through my mind.  Why did I run into Jan now instead of years earlier?  Why was it me instead of another co-worker?  If I had run an errand before going to the library, we would have never met.  How could it be that the timing was so perfect?

Of course, I will never know the answers.  But I believe there has to be a reason and it makes me wonder and reflect.  How can this not be a meaningful coincidence?  How can this not be destiny?  How can this not be meant to be?

À la prochaine! 
















February 1, 2020

Photo: Jewish Women's Archive* 
Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer   
I AM NOT LIKE MRS. MAISEL

My husband and I binge-watched the third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  We love this Emmy-winning American period comedy-drama starring Rachel Brosnahan so much that we watched it with captions—we didn't want to miss a single word or joke.

The premise in a nutshell:  Mrs. Maisel has everything she's ever dreamed of—a perfect husband, two kids and an exquisite apartment on New York's Upper West Side, but when her husband leaves her for another woman, she unwittingly discovers she has a talent for stand-up comedy.  

I've seen the first and second seasons multiple times, and it got me thinking how different I am from Miriam as she is called by her parents or Midge as she is known by her friends and ex-husband.  Though I don't make a regular habit of comparing myself to television characters, I thought it would be interesting to note the differences.  Here are some observations.

Unlike Midge:
  • I do not wear gorgeous high-end vintage-inspired dresses.
  • I do not wear hats, shoes and gloves that coordinate with the gorgeous high-end vintage-inspired dresses. 
  • I would never be able to afford the hats, shoes, and gloves that coordinate with the gorgeous high-end vintage-inspired dresses.  
  • I have never invited a rabbi to the house; a priest yes, but not a rabbi.
  • I've never done stand-up comedy, but my husband says I'm funnier than most of my family.
  • I've never bleached my hair (or my nether regions).
  • I've never said the word penis in front of my father.
  • My mother never went to a fortune-teller (she could have, but she never told me).
  • Photo: Amazon Prime 
  • Our family had a housekeeper, but she never made goulash.
  • I've never eaten mac and cheese as a hangover cure.
  • I've never made a brisket or bribed anyone with a brisket.
  • I've never attended a bris, a ceremony for Jewish boys like Bar Mitzvahs, except much more painful. 
  • I've never sailed on a yacht sipping champagne (and I have no regrets because I would have been greener than the Grinch).
  • I never had a picture of the Dionne quintuplets hanging on a wall in my bedroom.  Not that I would want one and thank goodness I didn't because I wasn't allowed to hang any pictures on the walls of my bedroom.  (So, you can imagine what my college dorm room looked like.  Every wall was plastered with posters—but not a single picture of the Dionne quintuplets).  
There you have it.  Fourteen differences.  But for the hell of it, let's move on to comparisons.  There are only two, maybe three.   

  • During my teenage years, I pushed a boy out my bedroom window after a late-night tryst. 
  • Like Midge, I've been on television.  I was on T Bar B, a children's show where kids had the opportunity to announce their name and age, sing the happy birthday song, and have cake.  Well, everyone had cake but me.  I was yanked away before having a single taste.  (I don't think it would have spoiled my dinner.  And yes, I'm still a little bitter).
  • Midge dated Benjamin, a tall, nice-looking Jewish doctor.  I dated two med students, who I assume would become doctors.  And then again as I think about it, this might not belong with the comparisons.  Neither of them 'looked like an angry building' when they got mad—which was what Benjamin told Midge when describing what tall people look like when they get upset.  

Maybe in season four, I will find more similarities with Midge, but there will likely be more differences.  Way more differences.  Either way, I'll have to wait another year.  So until then, you can bet that my husband and I will watch the third season again as well as the first and second seasons.  We will still laugh at the delicious dialogues.  We will still repeat the lines—"I will have to kill you.  I'll feel bad about it, but I'll have to do it." "Tits up." "At least we're not as fucked as those fucking fucks."  

And...we will still savor The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. 


À la prochaine! 


Jewish Women's Archive. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." (Viewed on December 15, 2019) <https://jwa.org/media/marvelous-mrs-maisel>.






January 1, 2020

                                                                                                                                                                  Photo: Vitaly Taranov 
Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer   INSPIRING OR SHAMING? 

How is it possible that a Facebook post could make me say WTF?

Over the Christmas holidays, I was tagged (as well as fifty others) on Facebook in a plea to contribute to a charity.  This may be a common thing to do, but I was shocked.  It was probably an innocent act and others would think nothing of this, but it made me wonder why someone would list names in conjunction with a fundraiser.  Maybe the purpose was to inspire people to donate or make it easier for them to donate, but it made me feel uncomfortable.  Again, I will reiterate that it probably wasn't meant to be malicious; and yet in some way, it felt like shaming people into giving.

Charity shaming is used to pressure a person into donating to a cause that one has personally deemed worthy.  It generally has a negative affect and it can be counter-productive.  Thankfully, I don't see this kind of intimidation on social media too often.

Facebook is a friend network.  Most of the time, people use it to socialize.  But not everyone uses it strictly for keeping in touch or reconnecting with long-lost friends.

Many of my friends and family use Facebook as a fundraising platform.  They ask for a donation in lieu of birthday gifts or for an organization that they support.  In fact, my peeps post fundraising events multiple times a year.  My husband and I notice the appeals and we contribute generously, mainly because we believe in the causes and we don't feel bullied into donating. 
Photo: Wei Ding 

Nobody wants to be hassled or embarrassed into giving to a charity.  People want the freedom to choose.  And, people are more likely to give to a cause if it resonates with them and if they know how their donation will be spent.  For instance, one of the organizations that I contribute to is the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning.  I know the funds raised will benefit the programs that they offer.  But I would point out that the Carnegie Center does not post possible donor's names on Facebook.

Trying to bully somebody into donating to a cause is becoming more and more prevalent—it can backfire and turn people away from giving.  And that's sad because there are many wonderful charitable undertakings that depend on donations.  Championing a cause is admirable, but manipulating people is just plain wrong.

I get the feeling there's going to be more of this pushy in your face fundraising tactic throughout the new year.  Why?  It appears to work.  People who use this ploy seem to be wildly successful in raising money.  But it comes across as guilting people into opening their checkbooks.  Safe to say, this strategy is not for me.  I prefer a less forceful approach, a more considerate approach.  Because I believe giving should be a personal choice.

To my followers: 

Thank you for supporting 
Children's Writer's World and The Maggie Project.  
It truly means the world to me. 
May the new year bring you new inspirations, 
new goals, and new achievements.


https://thinksaveretire.com/charity-shaming-double-standard/

To leave a comment, please contact:  Randi Lynn Mrvos




December 1, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Photo: The Creative Exchange
   
Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer                                                                                                                                                                                                
DUSTING VS DECLUTTERING 

Man, oh man, do I ever hate household chores.  I don't mind vacuuming.  There's something satisfying about seeing lint and footprints disappear.  However, when it comes to dusting, I will put it off for as long as possible.  This is probably due to the fact that as a child, I was required to clean my room every day.  Okay, so it was necessary to earn my allowance, but let's get real.  Every day?  Dust does not accumulate that much every day.  In a week, maybe. 

Dusting is done when it gets to me or when we have company.  Since we don't have company often, I can put it off for quite a while.  It's only when dust settles on top of table tops and dressers so thickly I can write my name in it that I'll pull out the Pledge.

By now, you get the idea about my thoughts on dusting.  Perhaps Oscar Wilde said it best, "Man is made for something better than disturbing dirt."

On the other hand, I love to declutter.  Unlike dusting, which feels so futile and self-defeating, there's a sense of accomplishment with decluttering, a satisfying feeling that there is less junk in the house.  It imparts a sense of order.  And with decluttering, there is always the chance of finding a treasure.

Earlier this year while I was tidying up the kitchen, I did in fact find a treasure.  While cleaning out a drawer, I found a little book my daughter had made when she about the age of six.  Abby loved to tell jokes, so one day she wrote down her favorites and made a joke book.  She used to read them out loud to my husband and me and we would be thoroughly entertained.

After straightening up the drawer and throwing away pens that no longer worked, scraps of paper, and bent paper clips, I read what she had written.  The jokes were corny.  I remembered most of them and they still had me giggling.

Here are some of my favorites.  I hope they make you laugh out loud or bring a smile to your face.


And a few more:

I love these jokes...
and to think the little joke book would never have been found IF I HAD BEEN DUSTING!

It's been said that dusting is supposed to improve air quality.  So, the air quality in our house is probably not what it should be.  In my defense, I vacuum the house weekly and judging by the amount of dust that's sucked up, I'd say my house stays rather clean.

Given the choice between dusting and decluttering, you know which one I'd choose.  Decluttering has way more advantages.  It can improve concentration and lower stress levels.  It can boost your mood.  Decluttering can help you with your decision-making and problem-solving skills because you have so much stuff and you only have so much space to make everything fit, therefore you have to decide what to keep (and where to put it) and what to discard.  And best of all...it can lead you to treasures that you've forgotten that you have.

 
À la prochaine! 



November 1, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Photo: Gus Ruballo

Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer

A HUGE MISTAKE  

Many years ago when I was an aspiring writer, I made a mistake.  A huge mistake.  A costly mistake.  But first, the backstory:

Ever since I was a teen, I wanted to write, but my career path took a different direction and I became a medical technologist.  After graduating, I landed a good-paying job at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.  However, as the years rolled on, the work environment grew stressful due to downsizing and poor management.  Luckily, I was able to retire early. 

At that time, I decided to take a writing class.  My desire to write for kids had been simmering for quite some time as my husband read picture books to our young daughter.  But it wasn't because of the delightful stories that drew me to writing.  It was because of an unimaginative story he had read to her.  I wondered how it ever got published.  This sad little picture book pushed me to learn how to write for children.  If something like this could be published, then surely I could write a picture book.

So, I enrolled in a class at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning to discover how to write for kids.  Towards the end of the course, all of the participants had written a picture book manuscript.  Many of us hoped to get our work published.  As it was, I had already begun sending out my manuscript to publishing houses...and it was getting rejected time after time.

On the last day of class, our instructor had a surprise for us.  She invited a literary agent to speak to us.  This was an amazing opportunity.  The agent gave a brief lecture and then after a question and answer period, she handed out her business cards.

I wasted no time in contacting her and we arranged a time to get together.  A few weeks later, I drove about 30 miles from Lexington to her farmhouse in central Kentucky.  She served a light snack and then she discussed which agents she would contact and how she would present my book to them.  I was so ready to work with an agent and this was the ticket to getting published.  The timing seemed perfect to me.

But I was so naive.  This situation was all wrong because:

Just pretend this was me, shelling out beaucoup de money to an agent. 
Photo: Sharon McCutcheon
1.  I had given her my manuscript, actually the first draft, which was ridiculous 'cause the first draft of anything is pure sh*t.  The manuscript had not been revised nor had it been critiqued by a second reader.  As you can you imagine, this piece cried for help with character development, plot, word choice, voice, and page turns.

2.  I paid her a fee—a whopping three hundred dollars to be represented.  Ouch!  I took for it for granted that this was the way agents worked and that writers paid them upfront.

Since then, I've grown as a writer.  I took more classes, read books on the craft of writing for kids, and joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).  And through SCBWI, I learned about the Association of Authors' Representatives.  Founded in 1991, the Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR) is a nonprofit membership organization which has more than 400 professional literary and dramatic agents as members.  Members must meet the AAR's minimum experience requirements and agree to adhere to its bylaws and the canon of ethics.  Agents do not charge a writer a flat fee for signing a contract—they are paid for their work through the commission they make when they sell a book.

Looking back to the time when I began seriously writing for children, I see a starry-eyed dreamer who made lots of mistakes because she desperately wanted to publish beautifully illustrated books for kids.  I'm still this starry-eyed dreamer, but a tad smarter.  Now, I do things differently.  Before querying an agent, I revise my manuscript countless times and I have a second reader critique the piece.  In addition, I shop around for reputable agents that represent picture books.   

I have no regrets about the blunders I made in regards to writing.  And no doubt I'll make more mistakes.  But that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Mistakes can be great teachers.  We must recognize that as painful they may be, mistakes are part of any journey, part of anything we wish to excel at, and part of anything we wish achieve.  Mistakes have the power to turn us into something even better than we were before.  

"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing." Henry Ford


À la prochaine! 
If you like, please leave a comment at: Rlmrvos@gmail.com

Comments:

Great article! But shame on your instructor for not checking out the agent she invited to class.
Why wouldn't a student trust someone who their teacher had invited? Harold U. 









October 1, 2019


                                                                                                                                                                                       Photo: Matt Collamer

Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer

GIVING AND RECEIVING  

One day in French class, a classmate changed the way I looked at the homeless.  She told me about her brother who works for a Christian ministry in Oregon and that he keeps bags of comfort items for the homeless in his car.  Whenever he spots someone in need, he hands out one of the bags.

This gesture touched me and got me thinking.  I could do this.  I should do this.

So, I put a few things in a paper bag:
toothbrush and toothpaste
bars soap
granola bars
a package of socks

A week later on the day of French class, I put the bag in my car.  Since our class is held in a section of downtown Lexington, Kentucky close to where many homeless people live, there was a good possibility I'd be able to give the bag away.

But on this particular day, the drive home after class had to be rerouted due to construction.  So, I drove through another part of town closer to the campus of the University of Kentucky.

I wondered if this new route would lead me to someone who could use the comfort items.  I wondered what the interaction would be like.  This was scary for me because I didn't know what to expect.

Before hashing it over too much, I spotted a middle-aged man standing on the sidewalk. Disheveled.  Holding a sign.

Being too nervous, I didn't read the sign.  I just opened my car window and held out the bag. 

He jogged up to my car.

He gently took it and said, "Thank you, sweetheart."

After peering inside, he made the universal hand sign for love.

                                                                                     Photo: Steve Knutson 
Then the unexpected happened.  He gave me a little piece of his heart.  He told me he loved me.  It was genuine and sincere.  It caught me off guard.  Our eyes met briefly and the words flowed off my tongue.  I told him I loved him, too.

This encounter with a homeless person would not be my last.

Just a few weeks later while on vacation in Montreal with my family, I noticed a homeless man sitting on the pavement a block away from our hotel.  He stared blankly, holding out a cup for money.  On the last day of vacation, the weather was rainy and cold with temperatures in the mid-40s.  And there sat the homeless man again, as if he had never moved.  When we passed in front of him my daughter suggested we give him our umbrella.  I was amazed and so proud of her.  I turned back and offered him the umbrella.  He hesitated, seeming unsure if this was for real.  Then I said, "pour vous."  He reached out, took the handle and smiled. 

Not long after we returned to the States, I spotted a man standing in a median at our local shopping center.  I slowed down, not knowing if the drivers behind me would get impatient and honk (thankfully they didn't), lowered my window, and said to the man, "I hope you can use these." Again, I was greeted with a heartfelt thank you.

And recently again near the grocery store, I noticed a woman on crutches who had an amputated leg.  She held a sign and hoped drivers would stop.  I circled around, drove up to her, and handed her a bag that I had in the car.  She said, "Oh, thank you.  What's in the bag?"  I said, "Here are some toiletries."  She replied, "You read my sign.  That's what I needed."  But the funny thing was, I had not read her sign.  My comfort bag had already been stuffed with toiletries.

Having that conversation in French class about supporting the needy made a big impact on me.  In the past, I never gave much thought to the homeless.  Now, I want to be more helpful, so whenever I go grocery shopping, I pick up a few snacks and toiletries for the homeless.  Putting together canned food and some necessities costs very little.  And for me, it's the right thing to do.

It's easy to put together a bag for the homeless.  Here are more items that they can use:
warm gloves
hair brush
deodorant
hand lotion
fruit cups
bottles of juice
Band-Aids
cans of tuna with pull tabs
plastic forks
nail clippers
Kleenex
hand wipes
sunscreen
Chapstick
body wash

"Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” –  Harold S. Kushner

And here's an article about making eye contact with the homeless:
 https://invisiblepeople.tv/making-eye-contact-with-homeless-people-is-important/
À la prochaine! 
If you like, please leave a comment at: Rlmrvos@gmail.com



September 1, 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Photo: Amel Hasanovic

Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer


ONE HAPPY TRAVELER  

Don't get me wrong—I like to take trips, but the minute the flight schedule is finalized, I freak out and begin to pack.  That can be as early as six months in advance.  The guest room is no longer a welcoming place for visitors.  Suitcases are pushed up against the wall.  Outfits hang on door knobs and dresser pulls.  Shoes, t-shirts, and snacks have been tossed to the foot of the bed and folded clothing is piled on top of the dresser.  

Packing is not only disorderly, it's worrisome.  

I worry about taking the wrong outfits.

I worry about forgetting something.

I worry the airport might lose my luggage—wait...that really has nothing to do with packing.  Or does it?  It does.  I pull out extra outfits to fit into my carry-on, just in case.

One of the stressful parts about packing is cramming toiletries into a quart-size baggie for the carry-on because I need to take:  
  • facial moisturizer
  • body moisturizer
  • lip gloss
  • shampoo
  • hairspray
  • hair color touch up
  • hair volumizer
  • Bumble and bumble hair gel 
  • Aveda smoothing hair lotion
  • cuticle oil
  • mascara 
  • eyelid foundation
  • under-eye concealer
and hope that the baggie remains closed as it makes its merry way through the security scanner.   

To hell with the mega-dollar fine, it would bring me to my knees if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) deemed any of my carefully packed liquids prohibitive.  Why?  The TSA states, "Federal law and operational considerations RESTRICT THE RETURN of prohibited items that are left at the security checkpoint."  


So, prompted by fear, I check the website to see what toiletry items are allowed in the quart-size baggie and find that my items meet the requirements.  Then, I read on about the restrictions for a carry on.  You can't take axes, hatchets, ammunition, dynamite, firecrackers, sparklers, hand grenades, or tear gas.  You must leave the cattle prod at home.  But you can bring antlers, a blender, a bread machine, a Harry Potter wand, and a hookah.

You can't bring more than 3.4 oz. of peanut butter—it counts as a fluid.  I wonder if Jif thinks of their creamy product as a fluid.


You can take wine, but not a corkscrew. You can bring a bowling ball, but not bowling pins.  You can bring a balloon, but not inflated.  

The TSA unnerves me, but I'm relieved all of my beauty products are legal.  Now, it’s time to move on to the luggage. 

You'd think that having a 26" suitcase would be sufficient for a 10-day trip, but it has to hold clothes plus:
  • a hairdryer (you've used the hotel hair dryers, right?)
  • snacks
  • three hairbrushes
  • three pairs of shoes
  • an umbrella
  • a raincoat
  • denim jacket
  • leather jacket
  • earmuffs (yep) 
  • scarves
  • a water bottle
  • a tote for toothpaste, toothbrush, shower gel, and razor 
Getting all of these items in is like working a sliding puzzle—you know the combination puzzle that challenges a player to slide pieces along certain routes to establish a certain end-configuration.  It may take me hours, but I will achieve that certain end-configuration.  

My husband and I plan to travel next year, so I'm already packing...and freaking out.  
The guest room will never be orderly for months.  

But on the bright side, I won't have to pack antlers.

Or a bread machine.

It pays to pack ahead to eliminate some of the stress.  And knowing I can successfully squeeze all of my essential liquids in a quart-size, clear plastic, zip-top bag will make this writer one happy traveler.

À la prochaine!