sparkles
::::: fAiRy gOdSiStErS iNk :::::
Our Sixth Annual SCBWI Summer Conference Scholarship

wHo can apply: YOU with your shiny SCBWI membership (Make haste to www.scbwi.org to join/renew if needed.)

wHaT: $1,000.00 toward conference tuition, manuscript or portfolio critique, and a bit of mad money during your LA stay.

wHeN: Conference runs from August 2 -5, 2013.

wHeRe: The Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles CA

wHy: We are five very fortunate authors for children and young adults who have been generously mentored, guided and supported by a host of talented individuals. We can't think of better way to thank them than by easing the way for others. The National Conference is a game-changer.

hOw: To enter, write at least one but no more than three haiku telling us why we should pick you for this year's conference.  (A haiku is a three-line poem, featuring a total of 17 syllables: 5 in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 again in the third.)  Have some fun with this!

Email your entry to fairygodsistersink@gmail.com by April 15th. Winners will be announced on May 1st. Questions, just ask!

Please feel free to share this info with your SCBWI buddies everywhere.

Best of luck to you all!

Mary Hershey, Lee Wardlaw, Val Hobbs, Thalia Chaltas, Robin LaFevers
 
 
Current Music: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies
 
 
09 December 2012 @ 11:16 am



May the nourishment of the Earth be yours, may the clarity of Light be yours, may the fluency of the ocean be yours, may the protection of the ancestors be yours. And so may a slow wind work these words of Love around you, an invisible cloak to mind your life.


~John O'Donohue

 
 
05 October 2012 @ 10:18 pm


dog

“Be like the sun for grace and mercy. Be like the night to cover others' faults. Be like running water for generosity. Be like death for rage and anger. Be like the Earth for modesty. Appear as you are. Be as you appear.”  -- Rumi
 
 
05 July 2012 @ 08:00 pm
Moon prayer
This wonderful photograph is from the Energy Ethics site on Facebook-- couldn't find the photographer's name. Will add when I do!

I'm just finishing up the most extraordinary retreat here in Oahu. Gratitude doesn't even begin to cover this. This is the stuff of fairy tales-- to have this great expanse of time in this insanely gorgeous place, alone, quiet, just being open. And at rest. A million options every day. And I can not choose them all. The luxury of that!

Here is my short list of things that I haven't done:

1)  Talked to a live person  (Except ten words or less to Mr. Starbucks, the food scooper--upper at Whole Foods, my yoga teachers)
2)  Talked on the phone (Except for two brief work thingies, a couple of times to my home benefactor-ess, and once to the love o' my life)
3)  Worn mascara-- stop the PRESS! Yep, it's true. Off the lash juice.
4)  Watched TV. 
5)  Apologized to anyone (except the man that nearly ran me off the sidewalk-- it was a reflex, and I didn't mean it with any sincerity whatsover).
6) Felt guilt about not working on my novel because I worked on my novel every day.
7) Felt guilt about not exercising because I had time to exercise every day.

Here is what I discovered--

1) If I forgo overpriced product on my hair and don't spend 12-15 minutes daily styling (read fussing), but simply wash and comb, it looks the pretty much the same. Can't decide whether to weep or laugh.
2) As I suspected, taking a yoga class every day is as close to heaven on earth as one can get. I also suspect I am coming home seven inches taller.
3) If you squeeze lime juice over papaya, it tastes SO much better. I think God was in a hurry when he got to papayas and overlooked this detail.
4) If I had the money to shop at Coach and Cartier, there really isn't anything there I want. (This from my Waikiki Artist Date)
5) Geckos are very curious creatures and don't really have that annoying Australian accent.
6) If I write every day, my work flooowws and practically writes itself.
7) Even given the opportunity to swim in my birthday suit, out of respect for the wildlife, I choose not to.
8) The scent of plumeria rivals most every chocolate smell I hold dear in the world.
9) That if you sit down and shut your pie hole, and be still, you can tune into some pretty Divine stuff. Still trying to process it all.

I will be back home in two days, taller, quieter, and with somewhat flatter hair. Look forward to seeing some of you then!
Love and coconuts,
Mary

 
 
Current Mood: contentcontent
 
 
23 June 2012 @ 12:12 am
Honolulu2

I'm often lost or on my way to getting lost. I've been lost in some pretty cool places, but today's blundering about was round and round the ring of the punchbowl, aka the Diamond Head crater. I was looking for a particular yoga studio, and it just seemed completely wrong to stress out about it. This is one of the reasons that Jill doesn't like me to drive when she is in the car. I never have a real route in mind, just a general sense of where I hope to land. Maybe that is a better way to frame it-- I'm not really lost, just circling before I land. But since I'm in a totally new space I have been using my iPhone Map App which has the very annoying habit of telling me to head "southeast" or "northwest." What???? How am I possibly to know what that means. I have a compass on my iPhone but if I try to use it, I lose my place and have to start all over with the Map app. Greatly annoying. Better to wing it, and hope the yoga gods will draw me to them. Which they did and I had a most excellent class with a young guy named Mark with a beard long enough to be a table runner. But very, very sweet and during Shivasana, he softly played his ukelele and chanted. It all had a very happy ending and all is well until I get in the car tomorrow and try to find the Outrigger Club so I can swim. 

I have felt similarly lost on my writing path for a while now. I am not exactly sure where I am headed. I've watched friends and writing buddies pick up their pace, veer off on other exits, or I've lost sight of them completely. Sometimes I wonder if I'm done. Did I tell the story I needed to tell already? Is there more? Or am I just tired? Is it just too hard to try to do it all? The thing I do best right now seems to be foregoing self-care. I rule at that! Next best is taking care of a loved one in Assisted Living, then being a government employee, and falling into near last place is being a strong partner to Jill. I'm not getting any gold, silver or even a tin medal for that these days. And, I am flunking balance. I've known that in my head, but today in yoga, I felt it and saw it. I am officially and certifiably unyoked. Yipee, skippy, I am yoke-free! Mind, body and spirit all operating independent of one another. My left foot doesn't know or care what my right foot is doing. Each is its own boss. No concert, no collaboration. It is a wonder I can ambulate a straight line at all. 

With maddening frequency, the Universe conspires to remind me of the literal and metaphorical truth that in case of a loss in cabin pressure, when the oxygen masks drop down, I am supposed to put the mask on myself first. I try to imagine doing that, I really do! It just seems so wrong somehow. What feels most natural is me holding my breath like some kind of anaerobic superhero, rushing about to mask all the children, caged pets and frail elderly.I see the wisdom of masking up first, but I don't think I've got full buy-in from the girls in the basement yet. 

I have days and days here in this exquisite space-- a gift I can't still quite believe. Time to regain my footing, reconcile yin with yang, time to be silent, time to write, rewrite. Time to let other writers feed me, like Dorothy Allison continues to do since I heard her speak a couple of weeks ago. She reminds me that every writing path is different-- some write slow, some do need great swaths of time. Some even need the security of a government job. She and Kafka both worked at the Social Security Administration. And I need to be true to my voice, even if I don't think it is as cool or interesting as another writer's voice. I long to be as clever as YA author John Green and have witty, brilliant, characters espousing all manner of politics, great literature, serious issues. But I'll be a much better writer if I just hone and cure my own neurotic voice. It's all I've got and it's my best shot at writing my truth.

I imagine I will circle the punchbowl a few more times this week and the next, wondering perhaps if that, for me, lost is the new found. 

Love, peace and plumeria,
Mary

P.S. Random thought-- I've finally had time in the last 72 hours to catch up on a number of women's magazines, and there is much talk of the "eleven" that us older chicks are sporting. You know, the two indentations, or furrows between our brows. There are a number of truly horrific and scary things being done and proposed to rid yourself of it. There are injections, acids, caulking and surgical options. I think we should simply be-dazzle the thing and flaunt it for god's sake. Or pierce it. Tattoo it. Hang a teeny, tiny moosehead from it! Who's with me on this? 
 
 
Current Mood: refreshedrefreshed
 
 
26 May 2012 @ 12:04 am


Despite my deepest wish that I could know well in advance what Life has up her sleeve for me at any given moment, I am humbly grateful that I wasn't given a head's up on my latest chapters. My jaw would have suffered a nasty break when it dropped to the floor.

And then I would have run for the hills as fast as my legs would have taken me. I'd be nothing but smoky trails. 

Instead, I find myself content, quieted and-- well, strangely okay. For a number of months, I've been helping take care of a loved one who is in an Assisted Living Facility. And when I say taking care of, I mean living there about 1/2-time. Living in a facility with 24/7 Muzak overhead, treacherous walker/wheelchair commuter traffic, and the enduring scent of scents meant to cover other scents. And when I say enduring, I mean in my hair, under my nail beds and deep in my nasal membrane.

It's a bit like living in an alternatve universe, or being visited by Jacob Marley's Ghost of the Xmas Future. I am seeing my own existence projected thirty years forward, and at the same time, I am thrust three decades back. Living with the octogenarians makes me feel young, incredibly spry, very able. I've stopped perseverating about wrinkles, and feel immensely grateful for my state of continence. Not to mention the exemplary work of my eyes, ears, and every organ that operates of its own accord without cajoling or pharmaceuticals.

And I am reassessing the judgements I have made in my ignorance of what it might be like to be 80, or 90 or 100. I watch their uni-tasking with great awe and admiration. There are great, long silences behind eyes that are watching and looking. What do we really know of another's inner life? 

I want to take a giant, exacting pair of pruning sheers to my life and go deep-- splitting off the dead wood, and getting back to the very truest, unadorned me. I am painfully awake to my very mortality, so achingly clear on how ridiculously little time we all have.

WHAT matters? What will I do with the time I have left in this "wild and precious life?"

I will be really kind to all living creatures.
No--I will be outrageously kind, especially to the overlooked and underloved.
I will be a light. Even when I'm feeling dim.
I will recognize that we each have a truth that serves as our unique soundtrack. I rock best to my own.
I will swim more and let my inner eleven year old pick out all my bathing suits. 
I will cherish the small ring of my most beloved friends. I will Skype the living daylights out of them if they'll let me. The days are coming when I will lose them, one by one by one.
I will ask for what I want from others in a voice without apology.
I will be generous to a fault and fully celebrate that shortcoming. It's my factory setting and I'm sticking  with it.
I will run more and worry less about the bouncy parts.
I will not be disuaded from action by the delusion that people are watching me. If they are, poor souls, what a boring life they must have. Grab a seat then and enjoy the show. 
I will practice radical gratitude, whether it runs like a river or is as dry as toast on a corpse.

And what it comes time for me to diaper up, I will pull up my poofy pants with deep satisfaction for a life well flung and high hopes for what is still to come.

Namaste, friends, namaste--
Mary

 
 


I
 was so going to nail Lent this year! Came up with a great scheme to avoid tired, cliche observances-- no fasting from sugar, caffeine, gossip or coveting my neighbor's anything for me this year. I was going to put my faith on a steroid regime and refrain from asking any Big Questions for forty days. This is nearly Mary Hershey torture. I am obsessed with the Big Q's. I see my life as a three million piece jigsaw puzzle, and I am o  a quest to find every single freakin' border piece. The middle be damned. Please just let me get the border. After five decades, I am loathe to confess, I am still short two corner pieces as well.  I would ransom my retirement fund and a couple of molar for the top right corner.

I could only imagine the tiny six-pack abs my soul would grow if I simply stopped questioning, wondering, agonizing-- and instead just sat in faith. Sat and breathed through my celestial gills. Trusted that as crazy as things seemed, it would all work out. There wasn't anything that I needed to know for sure until Easter, was there? EVEN if it felt like I really should get on the ball and start making some big decisions about my life. 

I struggled through my Morning Pages every day because normally, there is nary a declarative sentence to be found. Every time a question popped out, I turned it on its little arse and tried to find some gratitude for not having to know that answer or that outcome. At least until Easter. Then look out! I was going to get my semi-automatic Question Bazooka gun back out. 

This past Holy Week, there have been a number of great articles on faith and resurrection surfacing in the world, and I was particularly taken by a sermon by Reverend Anne Howard of The Beatitudes Society and also Diana Butler Bass, whose former weekly Sunday column was a major fave of mine.

The thing is, I have a very bad time with Holy Week. I hate thinking about what Jesus endured. How can a mere mortal be asked to comtemplate the torture of another human being? I have a very vivid imagination and a Black Belt in empathy, which came in my DNA package, no credit due me.  I have struggled with this since grade school, when I first saw a live Passion Play. Suddenly, I got it. The giant crucifix I had stared at each Sunday at Mass came to life for me. I was absolutely horrified! The Stations of the Cross were a walking daytime nightmare for me. I didn't have any idea how I could possibly formulate an adequate apology or thank you big enough to cover the sacrifice Jesus made. I still can't and still don't. It is larger than I will ever be. It's the Milky Way vs. my little fingernail. I like to think I would take a bullet for Jesus any day of the week,  and yet I can't do anything to mitigate his humiliating treatment death. There is no greeting card, perfect penance, act of sacrifice. I got nothin.'

One of the sermons that really moved me spoke of the shift that can be made by replacing the preposition :for: with the preposition :with: in considering Holy Week, Instead of the usual meditating on Jesus dying for us, suffering for our redemption, etc., consider Jesus joining us-- as in Jesus dying with us, Jesus suffering with us. In some way that I can't yet fully articulate, this shift moves me closer in. I don't feel I am merely standing under the cross wringing my hands wishing there was something I could do. Instead, I feel this sense of AWE and gratitude that Jesus put his money where his mouth was. Because we are such recalcitrant sheep, not only did he tell us everything we need to know to get through our voyage, but he showed us, in completely excruciating fashion, the Way. He showed us just how enormous God is, and he showed us the true face of love and forgiveness. He wants to be with us each in our suffering, in the way that I want to be with others that are suffering. In my completely small and shallow way, that is. And I want to be with him through this powerful reenactment. It is not my job to try to stop the Passion, or apologize for it, but to be brave enough to look Love right in its exquisitely wrenching, beautiful face. 

Which is just about the time when I realized how completely laughable my Lenten observance was. Because it was all about M-E. Me, who is not suffering from anything but middle-aged self-absorption. Dear Lord.  How did I join with anyone in their suffering, in their loneliness, in their fear? Sure, I sent out my small rectangles of paper to my church, and they do a bang-up job attending to the needs of the community with our tithes. But seriously, Mary? You sent paper rectangles out to the hungry, cold, alienated during Lent? Geez, knock yourself out. 

The thing about Jesus that I have learned is that even when you totally flunk your spiritual curriculum, he will pull you into Him and kiss you on the head. Seriously. Of THAT I am sure. No question. 

Anyone else out there flunk Lent? Come on by and I'll kiss you on the head, too.

Love and grace,
Mary 


 
 
16 March 2012 @ 07:11 pm
  

"These are the transitional times when I am not what I was nor am yet what I am becoming. In limbo times, I must live with alert attention to my feelings of vulnerability. I must guard against hasty choices and rushed decisions. In limbo times, I must learn to simply be. Soon enough, life will move me onward. Today I practice the action of loving non-action. I allow my life to alter organically and without unnatural haste. I trust the tempo of my unfolding."

                                                                                                                                                -- Julia Cameron


For Lent this year, I decided to give up asking the Big Questions. One would think this would be pretty manageable for forty days, and it might possibly silence the infernal buzz of the jackhammer in my head. Things have quieted down, but "easy"? Not on your life. This is a practice more well suited to a spiritual ninja, than a big Irish weenie like myself. Not asking the Big Questions at this very odd juncture in my life is worse than watching the Starbuck's lady put whole milk in my soy latte and discovering that I'm temporarily mute and can't make her stop. It's worse than finding out that Rachel Maddow has inexplicably fallen for Mitt Romney and they've run off together. It's even worse than finding out dark chocolate whoppers cause varicose veins and a tendency to drool.

Next year, I'm giving up Adam Sandler movies for Lent. And decaf and sardines.

Mary

Pssst! WriterJenn-- Anne Lamott's new book is all yours! :- ) Congrats. Will you email me your mailing address via my website?



 
 
09 March 2012 @ 05:30 pm


Photo by Jim Schreckengest

While I am waiting very patiently to have a lunch date with Anne Lamott, it is so exciting to have had her recently burst into Twitterville, where she is sucker punching me in the soul with her 140-character neurotic blurts, irreverent prayers, laments, and deeply witty life observations. She is also on Facebook now, too. She notes that her publisher told her that if she didn't get on FB, he would hurt her dogs. God, the woman slays me!

She recently quoted poet/philosopher William Blake who says, paraphrased-- We are here to learn how to endure the beams of love. This one is now deeply embedded in my craw. We are here to learn to endure the beams of LOVE? Come again? Aren't we here to learn to suffer with grace, and love those that want to spittle upon us? I've spent the past decades learning to endure and withstand the beams of hate, intolerance, rejection, misunderstanding-- in my very own small, overprivileged white girl way. 

BEAMS of love, beams of Love, what am I missing? What kind of divine lesson is that? Seriously, how hard could that be? Move to the light. Stand still. Face up. Revel. Rotate for even cooking. I am certain I could even do this in my sleep.

Unless Blake considered Love in a much greater context, concept and complexity than I am considering. My idea of a good loving up by someone is when they ignore my flaws (or don't see them or find them charming,) insist upon me having my way, make me feel gorgeous, and listen till their ears spurt blood about something I want to talk about. And it wouldn't hurt if some warmed Brown Betty with caramel sauce is involved in this equation. Beam on me baby, beam on me.

But if you're talking about the kind of Love where someone always wants you to grow into the best version of you, pokes you gently when you dawdle, and waits patiently when you give the Universe the bird and hop on the trolley to Easy Street-- that might take some learning to endure. Can I endure a constant witness to my life? Can I withstand the knowledge that Love has seen all my failings, all my lies, my facades, my darkness, my utter selfishness, my vanity, and still Love wants to be next to me every moment? Can I survive the shame of that? Will I allow my pitiful, mortal, nekked self to be fully consumed by Love's light?

This could take a lifetime. Uh, maybe more than one.

May the Beam be with you--
Mary

P.S. Since Anne was so generous to come onto FB and Twitter and she does have a new book coming out in just days, I'd love to send you a copy of Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son. Just tell me in 140 characters or less why you'd like to read it. You can leave a comment here, send me a message on FB, Twitter, or email me privately at maryhershey.


 
 
06 February 2012 @ 10:16 pm




T
here are very few things that I find more worthy of celebration than love and candy-- and having them both celebrated on the same day is an intoxicating combo. That Valentines Day is not yet a national holiday with mandated closures for businesses causes me great distress, particularly in light of inferior holidays that we fuss over. We clearly under-celebrate Valentines Day, and put such infernal limits on it with the emphasis on romantic love, particularly of the hetero variety.  Couples love is all fine and well, but it is just a tiny sliver in an enormous pie! People, people. Love will not be contained or constrained!

We need a BIG Willy Wonka kind of parade with floats made entirely from candy and sugar, with no one minding if you run alongside attached by your chompers. At the end of the parade might be a gargantuan chocolate fountain with marshmallows the size of soccer balls for dipping and rolling.  "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies must be the theme song of the parade. Not only is it so completely apropro, but it's the best song ever made according to my inner 12 year old. 

I would trade in Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day and New Year's Day for one really luscious and resplendant Valentines Day bash every year. Are you in with me?

For V-Day 2012, I am going to follow the wonderful example of Patience Salgado, aka Kindness Girl *(a favorite blogger of mine), who is encouraging people this month to love up their garbage collectors. She has gotten about a 1000 people so far to do this. There are some great photos of this on her blog already. She is challenging us to find out our collector's names, and leave them handmade Valentines, Starbuck's cards, baked goods, whatever moves you.

I have always had a soft spot for my collectors, and her charge has led me to imagine what life would be like without them. For one, I'd have to go to the landfill a lot, because I don't want my trash piling up outside my door. I don't even like it in my enclosed trash can behind the special cabinet I had built for it in my kitchen. I put my banana peels and strawberry stems in Ziploc bags becausse I don't think trash in your house should be allowed to stink. After 20 years of co-habitation, I still have not gotten Jill on board with this. I will not give up! I also would like her to open her tuna cans outside by the dumpster but that's a no-go from her camp so far. 

Anyway, without our collectors, I would be spending all my time driving trash around in my car which would take time away from doing the things I really should be doing like working on my novel, exercising, and cleaning window sill tracks with a toothbrush.  And I really wouldn't like garbage piling up outside my neighbor's door, particularly if they weren't inclined to dispose of it as often as I thought they should. I might even fall victim to Trash Rage, and end up in the slammer for trying to afixiate my neighbors with industrial strength Febreeze.

I can only imagine the irritation I would feel if I felt Jill wasn't doing her fair share of trips to the dump. Clearly, I would have to tie the bags to the back of her bike and convince her there was an awesome climb on the way to the landfill that wasn't to be missed.

Trash collectors are saving my psychological bacon! They are total superheroes. They need to have their own cartoons, comic books and Halloween costumes. Geez, maybe we should trade in Valentine's Day for Trash Collector's Day.

But there's have to be a serious candy tie-in, or I'm not voting for it.  

"All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action." James Russell Lowell.

Now you go get started--

With you in love,
Mary Hershey


*Yes, I know, I am breaking my ban on hyperlinks so you can check her out because she is really a charming soul. 

 
 
Current Mood: gratefulgrateful