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Contents copyright 2020 by Valerie Harms

The heart of the memoir, 5 tips

What is the Real Story
in your memoir; fiction or nonfiction
5 Tips for uncovering it
Always start with a short meditation or quiet moment to improve your concentration
1 Write an anecdote from one period of the person’s life. If a memoir, choose yourself.
2 Describe in detail two memories from that time. Include all your senses — touch (fabric), hearing, smell, sight, and taste (food is SO resonant).
3 What was going on for the person at this time? What decisions was he or she facing? What transition? What path did he or she not take?
4 Then pull your thoughts together and write a scene about this time in present or past tense. Select a point of view and establish a tone. Use action verbs. Try to avoid “was” or “there” as they are weak words.
5 Use dialogue between people that has tension or humor in it.
Now you have a section, maybe a chapter, and can go on to the next.
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Rebirth & Renewal Symbols

“I found myself in a dark wood” ~
Dante before envisioning The Divine Comedy.


When we stand at a crossroads and need to make a transition, we must first enter the dark night of the soul. Out of confusion and seeming chaos the new path emerges.
Everyone has difficulties—some inordinately hard but all essential to their calling. We struggle in relationships, work, health, and with how to live meaningfully. We must make transitions—literally die to one way of life and be reborn into another.
When we feel a failure or have a loss forced upon us, only one hope offers solace — that of starting over. The hope and dream of these moments of total crisis are to obtain a definitive and total renovatio, a renewal capable of transmuting life. Even the nonreligious in the depths of their being sometimes feel the desire for this kind of spiritual transformation.

When we must die to the old way and be reborn to the new, the rites of mysteries and the images of myths bring us comfort. They help us to get out of the purely cognitive mode and find truths in deeper, soulful ways.— Read More 
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Charlie Rose, My Late-Night Husband

Charlie Rose, My Late-Night Husband

I have watched “The Charlie Rose Show” almost every night since the 1990s. I’ve called him my TV husband. I’ve spent more time listening, absorbing, looking at him than most spouses do their partners. I’ve learned things: his vulnerability with dogs, his gratitude to the doctors and woman who helped him through his heart surgery and aftermath, his working with his father in the family store in North Carolina. His regret for not interviewing his parents when they were alive. His love for politics, sports, the arts, architecture, music.
I am faithful, I love him though we’ve never met in person. I’ve had many dreams in which he invites me to his apartment. I am thrilled, wary in the way one is when one is in new territory. The atmosphere is erotic. We talk. I would like to be embraced, to be desired, to fuse. Read More 
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Vietnam War films

I was thinking a lot about the Vietnam films and what was happening for me at that time.My husband to be, Larry, graduated from college in 1961, I in 1962. L said that he could either enlist or be drafted. If he enlisted in the Intelligence corps, he might be sent to France. We married later that year at Fort Dix, during his Basic Training. Sturm and drang. We lived in Baltimore while he went to Intelligence School and we did indeed go to France, Verdun.

He did not have to wear a uniform and we rented a “big” house (for that village) in a farm community called Manheulles along the major highway, near the Meuse River. Read More 
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Happy birthday, Anais Nin, Feb. 21.

Anais was a "mother" of mine. I loved her diaries on writing, art, relationships -- all my major concerns.
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respite in Sarasota, Florida

Oh, the balmy breezes
Brunch on an outdoor patio
Boats in harbor
Dali museum
Palm trees
Scrambled eggs folded
Thick bacon
Sautéed potatoes
White sands of beach
Smooth as powder

Crowds love theatre
Plays about being black & poor
About arguing in meetings

The mansion of John Ringling
Turned into Circus Museum
With 14,000 figures carved to
Duplicate everything under the Big Top
Plus his white square beach house
With wall flaps open to breezes

More meals: Peruvian short ribs
That melted on the tongue
Asparagus simmered in that sauce
Redfish St. Jacques
My sister’s bluefish in foil
Tiramisu
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I weep for polar bears

Polar bears standing on ice floes
Mere skeletons, humped over, starved,
Sitting on melting ice floe in water
Where is food, the next ice floe?
Ice melts, water flows, melting the floes
A mother with cub or two who
Need her for two years.
Seven-eight feet long to short tail,
Small ears, round black eyes,
Big black nose, heavy white coat
Webbed feet that help for swimming
Non-slip pads that don’t disturb ice when they
Put their weight down
A hollow top coat that reflects sunlight
And looks white, a black layer of skin,
A thick layer of fat that traps heat below.

They only live in the arctic circle,
Northern parts of the U.S., Canada,
Russia, Greenland, and Norway.
Bears’ favorite food is seal blubber.
They wait by an ice hole for the seal to breathe
Or climb up to bask but with less floes,
No seals. In harder times they’ll
Eat reindeer, eggs, birds, foxes,
And humans’ garbage.

Global temperatures mean sea
Ice forms for shorter periods
Bears have to travel long distances
For food. Or fast for months.
Bears are much skinnier. Offshore oil
Drilling and exploration brings
Disturbance and pollutants.
Polar bears were the first to be
Put on Endangered Species list.
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Happy birthday Elvis

I was lucky to get to know Elvis in his early years of performing. He even kissed me.
Later after he died, I resurrected my memories and wrote a book about him. See all about it in the My Books section. My favorite song of his was "Trying to Get to You." That's me to Elvis' immediate left.  Read More 
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Beloved trees

Soldier down!
They cry.
Help needed here.

Well, I had to watch two magnificent trees cut down branch by branch. And then those trunks that had taken years to grow were sawed into big chunks and carted away. Now nothing is left but the view of blah-siding to coops. The cutting down was heartless murder.

These trees were beautiful in all seasons. In winter when the branches were bare, they were perches for blackbirds and magpies. In spring leaves sprouted and when it was in full summer bloom, they were home to dozens of birds. I wonder how many nests were tucked among its leaves. They were full of birds. In fall the foliage turned brilliant yellow. They were a sight for sore, tired souls.

But not only were they there for human and avian appreciation, these trees nourished the air and soil. They filtered toxins out of the air, trapping them in their leaves and bark. They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They cooled the air and filtered rainwater in their bark. Their roots fed lichens and created habitats for microorganisms and fungi, essential to life. Without them there is more dead space. Countless living beings lost their lives with the felling of the trees.

It was a disaster and no one put a stop to this execution. I mourned them. I still do. Trees are as valuable as people, some even more so. In living they are purposeful. They give while many people I know are just takers.  Read More 
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Drumper's lies

Since the Drumper's election the causes I care about the most have been fired up. I hate his lies and attacks. Now he is condemning the CIA, New York Times, Politico, NBC, and more all because they don't worship him.
Latest: the election was hacked. If DT hadn't won, wouldn't he be suing or otherwise jumping up an down about that fact? Instead he claims to really have won the election because of illegal voters.
Fact: Russia released hacked emails to bolster DT's campaign. No evidence yet that they influenced the outcome.
Fact: Republican & Democratic campaigns were hacked. Only Clinton's emails were made public.
Fact: DT has not condemned Russia's invasions of Crimea and other incursions. He has appointed a team favorable to Russia.
Fact: DT has not expressed awareness of climate change. He has appointed a team against climate change.
Fact: DT's appointees would replace public lands at the expense of wildlife in favor of fossil fuels.  Read More 
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