Happy Thanksgiving

During this week of Thanksgiving, I find I’m spending more time than usual thinking about the things for which I give thanks.  And for the most part, they’re not things at all.

First and foremost, I’m thankful for all the people who have made me the person I am.  This very long list obviously starts with my family.  Not just the people who live with me (though my husband and kids obviously top the list)…this list includes my parents, my siblings, my stepparents and their families, all my in-laws on my side and my husband’s side, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, my aunts and uncles (extending as far as the eye can see), cousins, nieces, nephews, people who are living and people who’ve passed away.  This list also includes my friends, both present and past.  It includes the ones I’ve recently been in touch with again.  All these people have made me into the person I am.  So to all of you, and you know who you are, thank you.

I’m thankful for all the fantastic instructors and students at CK Pilates.  Even (especially??) the ones that make my quads hurt for three days at a time.  You know who you are, too.  These people are an important part of my routine and my every weekday, and I thank them for their dedication and their ability to motivate and inspire me.  Without them I would be a sedentary blob of jelly.  Thank you.

I’m thankful for my dog.  She is my constant companion, and I appreciate her presence and her unconditional love more than she’ll ever know.

I’m thankful for my to-do list.  Today’s list includes, but is not limited to, laundry, cutting out fifty felt Christmas trees, a Pilates class, shopping for an eleven-inch tart pan (mine is only 9 inches), wrapping gifts, taking the kids to the orthodontist and eye doctor, sealing my countertops, cleaning the bathrooms,  locating my Christmas cards, and walking the dog.  Oh, and did I mention finishing the final manuscript for my first novel, readying this blog, and reading/commenting on all the other blogs written in the past few days by the authors I’ve come to love?  My list is as long as my arm, and it serves to remind me that I am busy and that my life is full.  It tells me that even though I don’t have as much time as I’d like to sit down and read a book, I am happy to be constantly on-the-go.  It also reminds me that my life will not always be this full, and that these are the days that I will someday miss.

I’m thankful for the people who read my blog and visit me online.  You are very important to me, so thank you.

There are so many others whom I don’t have time or space to mention, but that doesn’t mean they ‘re any less important to me.  And I hope they know who they are, too.  So to all of them, thank you.

I hope you have time this week to remember all the people and things for which you are thankful.  I wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Until next week,


Go Check the Mailbox

I was cleaning out the attic a few days ago when I came across a letter I had started to a friend back in 2002.  I know, I know.  It’s been a long time since I cleaned out the attic.  But that’s not the point.

I found other letters, too.  Letters between my mom and my great grandparents that she had kept and that she gave to me to read.  Letters that my sister wrote to me while I was in college.  All those letters got me thinking.  How long has it been since I wrote- and mailed- an actual letter to anyone?

There is something thrilling about getting a letter in the mail.  Not a note from the dentist reminding you to schedule your next cleaning, not a postcard from a realtor looking for a seller in your neighborhood, but a letter from a friend or a relative.  And Christmas cards don’t count because the letters in Christmas cards have been mass-printed to put in fifty other cards.

I mean a letter.  Handwritten, not typed.

It can be fun to look in my email inbox or on Facebook and find a message from a long-lost acquaintance.  Or a long-lost best friend.  But is there anything better than going to the mailbox and finding an envelope with my name handwritten on it and a familiar address in the upper left-hand corner?

What is it about a letter that makes it so special?  I think it’s that someone has thought enough of you to get in touch.  It’s that they deem you worthy of their precious time, spent bringing you up-to-date with their lives and their thoughts.  It’s easy to get online and spend ninety seconds updating someone’s page with your most recent activities.  It’s not as easy to sit down for twenty minutes to let someone know that they’re really important to you.

I’m not saying that keeping in touch via the computer is a bad thing.  It’s great and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.  It’s a blessing to be able to keep in touch with people when our lives are so full and so busy.  But are there times when I’m on the computer and my time is being wasted? Sure.  Could I be spending that time more constructively?  You bet.  Am I going to think about that the next time I feel like playing FreeCell?  I hope so.  Will I write a letter to someone instead of shopping for something I don’t need?  I just might.

Thirty years from now when my kids are cleaning out their own attics, I want them to find letters.  Lots of letters.  I want them to be able to read about the things going on in the world from people who experienced them.  I want them to feel the connection between the letter-writer and the recipient.  I want them to know that not all important things take place on a screen.  If I printed out the messages I get on the computer and put them in a pile and left them in the attic for my kids to find, it just wouldn’t be the same.  It would be sterile.  I want them to feel the love that comes in a letter.

I can think of about a dozen  people who deserve a letter from me right now.  I’d better get started.

Until next week,


The Write Atmosphere

I love to read about other authors’ writing habits.  What’s your writing routine?  Do you write early in the morning?  Late at night?  In the middle of the day?  Do you sit and talk to the computer?  To yourself?  To your dog?  Do you listen to music?  Other people’s voices?  The sound of silence?

I think parts of your routine are generational and rooted in your own past.  It can be hard to leave them behind.  For example, I need silence.  Try as I might, I can’t work without it.  If it’s noisy, or if other people are around, I find that I am less focused.  Less productive.  I grew up doing homework in silence.  I studied at the library.  The classrooms of my childhood were quiet places.  When I practiced law, I always worked best when my office door was closed.

My kids, on the other hand, can work with music playing or the tv on, or other voices babbling, and constant activity in the room where they’re studying.  They even prefer it this way.  It took me a long time to come to grips with this bizarre reality, but I have learned to accept it and even marvel at it.  But that’s the way it is in their schools.  The teachers often have music playing, there are kids in small groups talking and interacting, and computers are everywhere and always on.

My work day takes a hiatus when the kids get home from school.  I work until the first child comes home, then when Kid #1 goes upstairs to do homework (with the iPad on and the texting in full swing), I work until the second child comes home.  It is at this point that writing usually becomes a useless pursuit.  Kid #2 has a lot to say after school.  When Kid #3 finally comes through the door, forget it.  I’m then prepping for whatever the evening will bring, and I put my writing aside until everyone is in bed.  Or at least ensconced in his or her own room.

Likewise, you may not believe this, but (gasp!) I work with pencil and paper until I’m ready to draft my novel.  All the research, the ideas, the outline, almost everything, is handwritten for months before sentences come together on a screen.  This habit of mine comes from school- elementary school, high school, college, and law school.  All I ever had to work with was a word processor, and I had to sign up for time to use the word processor lab at school.  Everything had to be written before I could get on the machines, because my time was limited.  Old habits die hard.

I have a few other “musts” while I write.  They’re not generational or rooted in my past- they’re just the way I am.  First, I always have tea next to me.  On my right side.  This time of year, it’s hot tea.  In the summer, cold.  Second, when I’m not on the computer I like to work in one of two places:  the kitchen table or my eldest child’s desk.  The light is perfect in her room.  Third, I write more productively after I’ve put in my time at the Pilates studio.  Finally, since the tea is on my right side, on my left is J.L. Rodale’s Synonym Finder.  It was a gift many years ago, and I can’t work without it.

What are your habits and routines?

Until next week,


First Post!

Welcome to my blog, Reade and Write.  My plan is to post something new every Tuesday, but I may post more often if I have something really, really important to say.  For now, I want to thank everyone who visits and invite my friends and the friends I haven’t met yet to visit and comment often!

I am currently working on getting my website up and running, and I also post occasionally on Twitter @ readeandwrite.  You can also visit my author fan page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/readeandwrite.