Happily Ever Afters

I love, love, love happy endings—-

Anyone who knows me knows the ending of a movie or a book can make or break a movie for me. I don’t mind crying in the middle of a movie, but I would be very, very, very (did I say very?) ticked if I invested my time in a book or movie only to have the ending suck (sorry hope that is not too offensive).

I will admit that I have been known on an occasion or two, (or maybe a thousand), to flip to the end of a book or movie to make sure I like the ending before I continue. With the advent of DVR and DVD’s the fast forward button is my best friend. I can jump to the end, make sure I like it, before going back to wherever I was to continue. If I really like the ending I will watch several times (Dirty Dancing, Flashdance, Staying Alive, (definitely some blasts from the past) You’ve got mail, Sleepless in Seattle, While you were Sleeping, Happily Ever After, Pride and Prejudice, Under the Tuscan Sun, Bridget Jones Diary. I also enjoy the more inspiring movies about how someone overcame incredible odds like Rudy, Facing the Giants, If I had Wings, Front of the Class, Lorenzo’s Oil and pretty much any Hallmark movie and most Christmas movies as I can count on them to give me my requisite happy ending. I also think the best part of shows like the Olympics, Superbowl, Award shows, American Idol etc. etc. is the ending when I get to see the winners so happy. Even if I wasn’t rooting for the winner.)

Now on the downside…In the prehistoric days before the DVR and the fast forward capability, there were a few movies that caught be unawares. Movies like Prizzi’s Honor, Somersby and Up Close and Personal…who on earth would kill off Robert Redford…are they out of their minds???? I know it might be too formulaic but I don’t care. If a director must for art’s sake have a movie end sad then I wish they’d humor people like me and tape two endings. They could even put the happy ending after the credits so not to ruin their credibility…I’d be willing to stick around till after the credits and watch the revised ending. In Up Close and Personal, I would be totally okay if the director had Robert Redford injured, in a coma a week or two and then come out of it much to Michelle Pfeiffer’s and my delight.  I know I’m not the only person who feels this way, though I’ll admit perhaps I’m in the minority, but the afternoon I watched Up Close and Personal in the theater there were two women in the restroom blowing their noses who felt the same way.

So if you like your books with a lot of stress, angst or explicit sex…my books aren’t for you. I write what I like…nice people, loving families and happy endings. Call me trite and predictable but I hear that people who like happy endings live longer and happier lives…sounds good to me!


The Messer Fruit Salad

What does an apple, a pear, a peach and a plum have do to with four sisters?

I’m sure there are some who prefer their fruit salad with only one particular fruit, say apples…or peaches. I on the other hand love a fruit salad made up of all different kinds of fruit. That way sometime you get a bite of something sweet, sometimes crunchy, sometimes a bit of sour. It makes for a more interesting dish.

My girls are kind of like that. They keep life interesting with their different personalities and tastes. My daughters’ ages range from 34 to 22. They are alike in some ways, but totally different in others and have been from the time they were born. Having three sisters myself (and three brothers) I grew up knowing how different siblings can be, so I guess it wasn’t a total surprise to have four daughters which such wide-ranging personalities.

My oldest, Ashley, has from Day One been the most stubborn of the group and one who always has to learn lessons the hard way and doesn’t like to be told what to do (even if it is something she wants to do…somehow having someone tell her to do it ticks her off). I remember when she was a toddler I told her ‘no’ when she reached for a television knob or something like that. She understood the word she just didn’t like it. She looked at me and then reached for it again. This time I said no with a slight slap on the back of her hand. She looked at me and then did it again, and again, and again. It became a battle of the wills. Each time I’d slap a little bit harder and repeat ‘no’.  I envisioned her at sixteen with the same battle so I kept at it. The back of her hand was red, but that child would not quit reaching for it. I’m not even sure how it ended, but that was how it was with Ashley. We learned giving her options to choose from was the best way to guide her along. Ashley was also the most competitive of the group. She still plays soccer, enjoying the competition.

Audrey, our youngest, on the other hand, is very soft-hearted and sensitive. Unlike her oldest sister we could pretty much give Audrey a stern look, or say her name in a stern way and she’d be crushed. The two responded so differently to criticism, rules, you name it and we had to adjust accordingly. While the most sensitive of the group in many ways, as a child Audrey was the most rambunctious of the girls. She and Ashley were the social butterflies of the family always wanting to be with friends.

Alayna, our second, unlike Ashley and Audrey, liked quiet time to recharge her batteries. She had friends, but she could only take groups for a certain period of time before needing to go off on her own. We determined over time that she took on people’s energies in some ways and this was exhausting for her. She is very intuitive and empathic in that way and it took her years to deal with it. It was also fascinating to us that she found change of any kind hard to deal with. I’d move a chair and it would take her a few days to adjust. This proved to be a challenge when we moved quite a bit forcing her to change utterly everything in her life. While Ashley was very competitive in sports, Alayna hated to be put into competition with others. She was very good in gymnastics, and soccer and even piano, but when they pitted the kids against one another she hated it. She liked to do things for the sake of doing them and not to be better than someone else.

Adriana, our third was the quietest of the four. She was terribly shy when she was little. If someone talked to her she’d stop walking and look down. She apparently had the philosophy if I don’t see you then you’re not there. We were relieved when she grew out of it in elementary school and became more social.  Of the four Adriana found it easiest to excel in the academic arena.

While there were many other differences that will give you a flavor of the Messer fruit salad. I took their differences and weaved it into my first series; Patrick’s Garden. The series is about a family with four sisters that are very different from each other in many ways. Taking a bit from each of my daughters and each of my sisters and myself I came up with a family that was fun to write about and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about them. Each book gives you a chance to know each of the MacRae sisters a little bit better. No one daughter is exactly like a character in the book but each of them did tend to relate to one of the four sisters more than another.

Journaling is Not for Me

Journaling is not for me…but writing fiction…now THAT is a release!

I admire people who religiously journal and tell the truth. I admire, maybe envy is a better word, people like Howard Stern who seem to be able to say what they think or feel without seeming to care what others think about them or what they said.

I’ve never been like that. I always worry about how others perceive me. Or if what I’m saying would hurt someone’s feelings. Hence, I had no luck with journaling. In journaling, you’re supposed to be honest, totally and brutally honest. And when you do they say that the process of journaling can be a great release.

What I can’t figure out how do people write their true feelings and not worry about someone reading it and getting their feelings hurt? Where do you put your journal so the kids or heaven forbid your husband doesn’t find it accidently or on purpose and read what you wrote?

Because let me tell you if I wrote how I felt on any given day there were times over the years that I was happy…but there were other times that for that moment in time I was unhappy. Maybe I was hurt, or angry or sad or depressed with my life; because there were times, especially in my late thirties and forties where I was pretty darn unhappy and that journal would have had some things in it that would have hurt some feelings. Maybe one day my husband forgot my birthday…again…and I thought he was an awful husband? Or one of the kids said or did something mean and it hurt my feelings and I didn’t like them at that moment? Would the person who found it understand the moments I wrote about might have been fleeting feelings or the feelings of a frustrated mother or wife? In any case, I was sure I’d be apologizing for whatever it is I wrote that made them upset…Or worse what if they found the journal after I died and I couldn’t explain what I meant? The fear far outweighed the release factor. I threw away my efforts rather than deal with the possible ramifications of someone reading them.

Totally by accident I found another way to express my deepest feelings and work through them. I started writing. It started with children’s books and I didn’t know until after they were done, that I wasn’t writing them for others, they were messages to me…they became the Andi O’Malley series. Being the ‘Type A’ personality I was back then I thought I was writing for the world to see. I published them and they are now sitting in my garage. BUT…and this is a huge but…I don’t regret writing them. Those books were the valve on my pressure cooker of emotions at a time I was about to explode. They served their purpose. I can look at them now and most of them are very specific to a decision, a thought process I was working through at the time. I just didn’t see it until later. It is the magic of writing.

Consciously and often unconsciously in my stories I work out my feelings. Often I look back at a story, and the storyline (or a friend points it out which tells you how blind I am to it sometimes) and I see how it ties back to my life. The process never ceased to amaze me.

So if any of you are looking for a way to release pent up emotions, or working through your emotions. You might want to give writing a story a try.