Play Time: Required by Writers & Anyone 50+

We writers don’t play enough. Neither does anyone over age 50.

My prescription? Locate your nearest park.

Go. Play.  Who says these places are Kids Only?

Be sure to bring only one thing: your long-buried child. Let her (or him) climb the playground equipment. Dare to move higher than a foot off the ground (provided senior limbs safely permit such bold moves).

If there’s no park place available—or it’s torn up and unusable—drop and roll.

In your backyard. Even in your den. Mess up your clothes, tangle your hair, step in the mud.

The point? Do what “adults” aren’t supposed to do anymore. Cut loose. P.L.A.Y.

Re-imagine your six-year-old self at the school playground on the first day of class. Before the grounds are messed up with gopher holes, dirt pits, and candy wrappers.

After you’re finished playing, grab paper and pen (or laptop, if you must) and write about your latest recess. Compare it to your most memorable elementary school experience on the playground.

Will yours beat your memory, like mine?

There’s a freedom that comes from adult play, one a child will never understand. It’s freedom gained from knowing what the words—play and freedom—really mean.

The only similarity between old and new?

Neither ever costs us a cent.

How did we forget?

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It’s Time!

What do you learn from a life cycle?

Answer the question only after you learn what my most recent life cycle included: three family deaths, one air ambulance ride, six ground ambulance trips, four surgeries, and ten hospital stays. All in 31 months.

Expand the timeline to five years, toss in two dog deaths and in-laws moved into assisted living/nursing home care, and you’ve captured my life experience since 2010. The sterile words convey nothing of losing either your mother to dementia or your own brain to a ruptured aneurysm.

Some people toss away the months with convenient blame: Hell. Others pin the meaning to “life cluster.”

I choose Life.

Yes, it’s easy (easier?) to say or write this now. But it’s true: I choose to celebrate these adventures in living. To do otherwise would potentially send me into infinite paroxysms of grief, rage, and unending depression.

So yes, I celebrate. Especially today.

The worst part of these misadventures was the aneurysm that exploded in the back of my brain. That occurred three years ago this noon.

I celebrate with a letting go and a moving forward.

It’s time.

Losing so much of what you love redefines a life. It no longer matters what happened or how or when or where or even why. It’s shuck-the-label time. Spread the word: I’m well.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know: I’m not quite done with the doctor and hospital routine. Brain angiograms remain on my To Do list for another four years and nine months. Yawning, I call that my New Normal.

I’m returning to this space, my blog, and to the bigger place I’m here to fill—the pages of a novel that’s burning itself into my fingertips.

Ready to finish gathering source text, finalize the story outline and its overarching structure, hunker down on daily writing, complete the manuscript within the year, and send my completed creation to eight waiting agents.

Today triggers a new cycle of life, one that I’m most delighted to live.



Three long years later.

Or five!

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Two Years Later…

and it’s still a rebuild mode.

This time, it’s a hinky angiogram that demands a second look by the main man neuro doc. I think, “aren’t we done yet?”

I’ve got books to write, a life to live, and things to do, for cryin’ out loud!

Sometimes, it’s not waiting anymore.

It’s doing that matters.

Now, I’m off to the oval. This time to get this first book d-o-n-e.

Hide and watch.

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18 Months Later, We Start Anew

Has it really been 18 months today since my life changed forever?


And I’m done with these anniversaries. It takes this long to say “I’m over it” — a ruptured brain aneurysm. At least I can write those words myself. A near-majority (49%) of its victims don’t survive a day in a hospital; of those who do, two-thirds never work again.

I’m thrilled to be here, working. Writing.

Bear with me as I struggle to embrace all of this, make it happen somehow. It’s harder than it looks.

Truth is this recent journey includes a much longer time, 32 months, bookended by the tragic suicide of a beloved nephew in December, 2010, and fast forwarded to the slow passing of a gentle mother in July, 2013.

Be they unexpected or awaited, these losses add up to a life experiencing tremendous transformation. Figuring it all out and moving forward is merely the last leg.

But I’m posting again and that’s a step forward. More coming, monthly, from here.

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Thriving, Post-Ruptured Brain Aneurysm

Despite proverbial good intentions otherwise, today marks four months since I’ve written a single word, much less posted anything here or anywhere else.

No, posting on Twitter with its 140 characters-a-message doesn’t count as “real writing.”

My disappearing act reflects the life-real consequence of a major health crisis.

To wit, today marks precisely seven months since a half-inch aneurysm at the back of my brain exploded, launching me into a journey that is only now ending. After 150 days straight of mind-numbing headaches accompanied by predictable dizzy spells, I can smile and laugh again with delightful ease. What a joyous thrill. I’m returning to the page. Continue reading

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No Blogging when your Brain says “Hello!”

Today marks three months since my last blog posting.

You yawn and say, “who cares?” then cite statistics about how most of the 175 million blogs on the web go inactive in less time than that.

How about what happened a month later, I volley back with a description of the previously-unknown aneurysm rupturing in my brain on April 20th? The rupture initiated a 35-day hospital saga filled with Lifeflight rides, blue bag resuscitation, and Michael Jackson’s favorite drugs. Most punishing to a writer was my lost voice, courtesy of an emergency tracheostomy.

At long last: light and play during dreary ICU days -- thanks to E.T., the pulse monitor.

Countless rounds of physical and occupational therapy later, I finally possess enough sustained energy to write a blog post.

The picture tells a thousand stories.

There’s E.T., aka the pulse monitor, who brightened my days because the little red light gave me something to laugh about. Eighteen days in Neuro ICU does that to a sick brain.

Priscilla, the Prairie Dog, nests by my right arm. She’s a remnant from my childhood, Fed-Exed to my Nebraska hospital bed for comfort and familiarity. Yes, there’s a story in her active presence in my 55-year-old life.

IV tubes hang to the right of my bed. What you cannot see is the second pole. It bears another half-dozen or so liquid-filled bags.

On the other side of the bed is the wall plug that delivers oxygen to my tracheostomy. The god-awful nasal tube provides “nutrition.” How did I lose a dress size?

There’s more to the story, the nightmare, the misadventure, and I’ll write about  all of this over time.

But for now, today, I’m back.


The blog is renewed and so am I—living the New Normal with a brain that simply feels different.   Either that or I’ve morphed into a human-looking cat and this is my second life.

A writer's work is never done!


Actually, I never disappeared. Not all of me.

In the Neuro ICU, the old, familiar voices that feed me story ideas and spur my imagination returned. Once freed, they yammered in my head.

Out came my laptop, especially on days the headaches vacationed or after my family rally team had left for the day. I would write and write, capturing whatever dropped in and desperate to never forget this surreal misadventure.

I wondered if maybe detailed reports about days I no longer remembered were true. How could I have been in deep sedation from a staph pneumonia that I did not remember? Did my right lung really collapse? What did it all mean, this experience that had yanked me out of one world with a blind cruelty that took my breath away?

While I had no answers—and my furious writing reflected that—I kept writing anyway. With the return of the voices, I knew my life had come back, albeit dramatically changed in a form I did not understand.

Regardless of where I lay, it was time to write again.


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Running Late: a Novel Way to Leap

Running, Leaping 2012

This Leap Day, I want to change my name.

I choose “Running Late.”

It’s an apt moniker for a middle-aged demi-goddess who can’t quite get anywhere on time.  Besides, as a lover of everything Native American, the name might gain me entrée into a hip tribe.

I once blamed my time-arrival deficit on a decade’s worth of mutating hormones. Too much of one and not enough of another, said the menopausal wizards.

But this morning I awoke to Continue reading

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He’s baaaaack!

It was 4:06 a.m., January 27, 2004. An old man whispered in my ear.

“Get a piece of paper and a pen,” the voice spoke with an eerie confidence and calm. “Write down everything I say.”

I lay still in bed but closed my eyelids tight, as if to ward off this rude intrusion into a precious, and rare, dreamland. Mind racing, I struggled to  Continue reading

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Oh, Go Mask Yourself!

My eyes spied the big, black, bold numbers printed below the words “Pay this Amount:” $1,778.00.

My jaw dropped.

“Excuse me?” I roared into the silence of my kitchen, “they bill me nearly double what they promised the sleep apnea test would cost?”

I threw the bill onto the countertop. With my left hand, I balled up the white envelope that had carried this bombshell. The wad of paper tightened into a hard, angry mass and drove deep into Continue reading

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For months, the call to blog has screamed at me.

I kept stalling, hoping the technology would perhaps change and thus the need to be present here would vanish.

Alas, no such luck.

So it was that a few weeks ago, I promised myself and someone else that today-August 9th, a personally significant day in my life and especially so this year (yes, the why of that is a future blog post)-would be launch day.

Now it’s a day nearly gone and I sit here, amazed, looking at this screen. My blog is one quick click on the “Publish” button from liftoff.

Journey beginning.


This really isn’t so hard after all.

There’s a learning in this moment.

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