Taking A Break

I’m taking a break at the beach. The sound of the ocean rushing the shore … pelicans flying by …  just being.  Till then enjoy where you are, doing what you’re doing.

The Fabulous Gaithersburg Book Festival

 

Betty Hafner, Seema Reza and myself.

All I can say is, WOW!
I’m home and thrilled that I was chosen to participate in the 8th Annual Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Here in Charlottesville we have the annual Virginia Festival of the Book, a four-day program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. It’s a lovely event that brings in book-people from all over the country, including authors, those in the process of writing a book, those who aspire to become writers, and those who  read voraciously. I attend every year and it’s where I first met the woman who became my publicist, Caitlin Hamilton Summie, who was here as part of a panel discussing the role of publicists in the book-marketing process.

Me, Mayor Jud Ashman, and Betty Hafner

But the Gaithersburg Book Festival is a celebration of a different stripe. Set up in tents in the park surrounding City Hall, it is a one day event run by the city of Gaithersburg, in Maryland, and a host of local volunteers of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds, from kids to elders. Mayor Jud Ashman, also the Founder and Chair of the festival, was there greeting and welcoming everyone. It was wonderful! I felt like I was part of a huge family celebration with attendees, authors, and those who did all of the work to bring the festival to fruition. It was an amazing event illustrating deep love and appreciation for books and those who write them

I wasn’t able to stay all day as we had to get back to C’ville for the show, Death of a Salesman, which Bill directed for Live Arts. My sweet man missed opening night on Friday to accompany me and lend me his support. What more can this woman ask for proof of true love?!?

Had I been able to stay around until the end of the day, one of things I would have loved to attend among many others, was a MULTILINGUAL STORY TIME, that ran all day long. For twenty minutes children of all ages could listen to stories read to them in Spanish, Portuguese, Farsi, Amharic, French, and English.

The panel that I participated in was moderated by Larry Matthews, also an author. It was a wonderful opportunity to sit with two other woman writers, Betty Hafner and Seema Reza, who have also written memoirs and to talk about the why, how, and importance of telling personal stories.

I’m told that last years festival was held on a day of torrential rain and was attended by 15,000 people. This years attendance on a gray, cool day, was expected to be between 22,000 to 25,000 with a rough guess of 23,000 people there at the time I was given these figures.

I’m thinking of going back next year just for the fun of it!!

See You At The Gaithersburg Book Festival On Saturday

The big news here this week is that the rain came and finally we are no longer in a mild drought situation. But the even bigger news is that next Saturday, I will be in taking part in a Memoir Panel Discussion at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland. I’m excited.

Joining me on the panel will be fellow She Writes Press sister, Betty Hafner. Betty’s memoir, Not Exactly Love, published last year, is about her first marriage and the unpredictable domestic violence she lived with for far too long. For the multitude of women and men who live with physical abuse at the hands of their spouses, this book is a poignant guide revealing how Betty took back her own life, leaving the abuse she suffered behind. It’s a moving narrative filled with the stuff of real life. I found it hard to put down.

Seema Reza, author of another page-turner, When the World Breaks Open, published by Red Hen Press in 2016, will join us in our discussion about writing memoir and abuse. With raw honesty, Seema examines her own role in her dysfunctional and abusive marriage, as she struggles with fear, regret, love, loss, and motherhood. Written as a series of short essays, poems, and notes to herself she brings to life the lessons she has learned and the infinite wisdom one finds amidst suffering.

My own book, Scattering Ashes, A Memoir of Letting Go, about living with my mother during her last seven years of her life, sheds light on how domestic abuse by parents effects their children throughout their lifetimes and how the chain of abuse within a family can be stopped.

If you are in the area it would be wonderful to see you there. The panel will start at 11:15 AM and run until 12:00 PM, followed by a book signing.

Go to the Gaithersburg Book Festival’s website here for directions and a schedule of other interesting book events.

So, How Is It?

I’m in the process of remaking myself. Somewhere along the line I’ve lost my inspiration to write or make art. What gives? I don’t know, but I’m allowing myself plenty of time to do the things that seem most important to me right now. Like taking better care of my body. During the book writing process, I let my fairly strenuous exercise routine go down the tubes. Now I ache a lot and have gotten quite lazy. The result is a very tight body that isn’t terribly flexible. Though I still do my morning walks with the dogs, I haven’t kept up with longer walks by myself. I have added a restorative yoga class to my week and still go to my regular yoga class, and pilates workout. That’s all well and good, but if I don’t practice this stuff every day and continue to walk, it doesn’t help much. So moving, straightening out the kinks, and stretching muscles I haven’t used in a while is what I tend to do these days.

I love this poem my brother, Zed, recently wrote. I resonate with it because as I get older and try to clean up some of the stuff in my life, like finishing pieces of writing or paintings, I get distracted by the littlest things. Like watching a pair of catbirds feasting on Oregon Grape berries just outside my window. Moments like that are captivating.

I don’t like rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off. It isn’t good for the soul, my connections to other people, or the natural world. I’m moving more slowly like a tortoise.  Didn’t she win out over the hare in their race even though she was very slow?

Here is Zed’s poem:

So, How is it ?

How is it ?
I have a long list
Of letters never sent?
Combing through old emails
I learn to stuff them into multitudes
Of electronic departments of this life we have.
As if this helps me learn life’s lessons.
So, how is it?
The door knocks, dog barks, phone rings,
Or siren wails through the window.
Easy distractions with important moments to reflect or forget.

Zed Zabski
To Joan, April 26, 2017

So, how is it with you?

Azalea Time

I’m taking a week or two off from my blog.
See you on the other side! Enjoy this beautiful spring weather!