Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A BlogHer Fan

In this age of spam and scams, it is necessary to be a little distrustful about social media groups and possible money-making schemes on the internet. It is easy to become cynical, which leads to snark and even to paranoia about the doings of cyberspace. In early 2009, after having a blog for about three years, I felt that I had witnessed the entire gamut of colorful online human behavior, and henceforth steered clear of all discussions forums, feeling that between Facebook and my blog, I had more than enough lively personalities to balance. However, since my family was experiencing financial hardship, I had not given up hope of doing more with my blog in order to help make ends meet.

My friend Karen the "Graphics Fairy" recommended the BlogHer Publishing Network. I signed up for the ads and not only did they bear the desired fruit but I found the Network itself to be a positive addition to my internet life. The BlogHer Network provides women who stay home with all kinds of outlets for creativity as well as for opportunities to use their talents in a profitable manner. BlogHer has recently gotten together with HauteLook to help women find bargains in designer clothes and accessories. I thought the "Own Your Beauty" series to be helpful in breaking down the lies that society tells women about their bodies and their looks, lies which often lead to illness and depression. Most of all, I never cease to be impressed by all the practical parenting resources. I found the "LG Text Ed" tips for parents in dealing with teen texting to be an eye-opening program.

Do I agree with everything on the Network? No. Nevertheless, I am impressed by the overall civil tone of the discourse, in which women from different backgrounds are able to discuss issues without breaking into divisive histrionics. I am always surprised by how many women do think and believe the way I do.The fact that BlogHer often links to my blog articles shows that they are not afraid to discuss controversial topics dealing with faith and history. BlogHer has become an oasis on the internet for me, a place for support, a place to find other mothers with the same worries, and thoughts on how to deal with aging, weight gain, and dozens of other issues. Most important is the feeling of sisterhood with those who are trying to build better lives for themselves and their families.

Visit this week's Sweepstakes post on BlogHer.com. Click around and see what else is new!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Making It through the Recession

I often look at pictures of my grandmothers from during the Great Depression and am amazed at how neat and put together they always looked in spite of the economic hardships. With what the economy was going through, anyone would have thought they would have felt free to look sloppy and bedraggled. Instead they were well-groomed, pretty and smiling, ready to take the troubles head-on, which they did. They were cheerful and resourceful and rose to the occasion instead of being beaten down by it. In the times in which we live, in which jobs are lost and opportunities seem scarce, I think of my grandmothers and try to be like them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Making Possible the Impossible

This is a sponsored post from Disney and BlogHer.
“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37

I nourish an inclination for impossible situations. Stories of those who overcame insurmountable obstacles in order to achieve a worthy goal ignite my courage and fuel my drive. The Disney production of Secretariat will be released on October 8. I am looking forward to the dramatization of Penny Chenery’s story of determination and grit as she fought the odds and won. It is such a determined spirit that made America great, the stuff of which legends are made, and yet it happened within living memory.  According to the official website:
 Based on the remarkable true story, “Secretariat” chronicles the spectacular journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner.  Housewife and mother Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) agrees to take over her ailing father’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing knowledge.  Against all odds, Chenery—with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich)—manages to navigate the male-dominated business, ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and what may be the greatest racehorse of all time.
I remember hearing about Secretariat as a child. Frederick County was the heart of Maryland horse country. We kept horses ourselves and followed the news about Secretariat with interest. I little guessed at the time that I would someday have my own impossible situation to overcome. 

In 1995 I wrote a novel about Marie-Antoinette and called it Trianon. I had been fascinated by Marie-Antoinette since the age of nine. By the time I was a grad student I had visited Versailles twice, but it was not until I saw a picture of Petit Trianon in Smithsonian Magazine that I felt inspired to write something about the Queen. It was just a photo of a staircase, but in my mind’s eye I could see Marie-Antoinette walking down it. I wanted to capture a moment in time, one of those happy moments that were like islands in a sea of tragedy in the life of Marie-Antoinette. I was already deep into research about the French Revolution as part of my graduate studies. I wrote the Prologue and then put the whole thing aside for ten years.

After a trip to Vienna in late 1994, I found the manuscript and the notebooks with my research in my father’s basement. I felt compelled by my trip to Vienna to take it up again, for I had visited the tomb of Marie-Antoinette’s mother, the Empress Maria Theresa, in the Capuchin crypt.

It was a turbulent time in my life, as I was undergoing a major career change. I had no computer, no internet, and little money. Nevertheless, I was imbued with the desire to tell the story of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette as it had never before been told, shedding a new light upon the gravely misunderstood King and Queen. I wrote ten hours a day, stopping only to eat, sleep and pray. Before I even completed the final manuscript, I began sending out query letters and sample chapters to every publisher I could think of. Rejection after rejection came. I knew in my heart that somehow Trianon would be published although at the time it seemed futile.