Friday, December 20, 2013

Why My Christmas List Included Boycotting Amazon

For this year's Christmas gifts (and every one before), I didn't buy many things online. I tried to buy original stuff from people who actually made it or from small local businesses.  And I've made a list of my top five reasons I'll never buy from or support Amazon (that means even going to their web site), regardless of the season:

5. It used to sell only books (remember that?) at such a discount that it hurt local many small business booksellers and eventually drove some out of business. (When I do buy books, I do so from those brave local independent stores who are still serving their communities.)
4. It now thinks it needs to be a one-stop shopping online center, perpetuating the myth of 'convenience' as god, and again keeping folks from supporting their local economies.
3. Its founder (he who shall not be named) made so much money that he bought the Washington Post, and we need a big retail conglomerate to own a newspaper because . . ?
2. It's in the process of developing delivery drones. I guess those silly humans can't do it well enough.
1. It's out of control. Enough said.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When the Leaves Tell the Story

In the region where I live, there have been more than a few offices closed by the government shutdown. The recession has still meant folks I know are struggling to find meaningful work, and bills are just plain hard to pay. It's easy to miss the forest through the trees and lose perspective. Or something like that. 

The leaves around me, though, are vibrant reminders of, well, more. They tell a better story right now. So I'll let them here:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The End of the World (Trade Center)

It's hard to believe I wrote this 12 years ago, that morning and the next day. Still vivid. I'm grateful that the CT editor 'let' me report, reflect and process:

Dispatches from out of the dust
By Jo Kadlecek
9/11/01 11:30 am
Our city is bleeding. My phone has not stopped ringing. The news reports are horrifying. This is my backyard and I have to go, to try to get my head around it, to listen and respond. My bicycle will be the surest way to get 60 blocks from here. I ride.

Scores of people are walking north, heading north. A mass migration of broken people head north looking for safety.

Has this happened before?

Along the Hudson River, I ride my bicycle past a golfer who practices his putting; runners jog by, sirens and fire engines rush by. Women in power suits and no shoes walk north past workers who gather around truck radios listening for the latest updates on the attacks. Mobs of teenage students also stroll north, chatting as if nothing has happened. 

As if life in New York City is always chaotic and terrifying. Every other person is trying to talk with someone on a cell phone, trying to meet up with friends or find a colleague. 
Everyone is looking for someone as the smoke lingers over this southern end of the most powerful city in the world, but certainly not the most invincible. Not now.

People with suitcases walk up out of their hotels that were in the shadow of the now-blazing towers. I hear a tourist comment on the weather: "It's a nice day today, isn't it?"

Commuters walk in the hot September sun, stranded, numb, eager to get home. Home will never be the same.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In Honor of Tweets, Mrs. Ridley & All Coaches

According to FT writer Gillian Tett, this is
a team of future CEO's!
I've learned a lot since I started Tweeting. It's a reporter's digital form of breaking news. And the folks you follow really do lead you to some interesting stuff. Like this story on the lack of women sources in the New York Times front page stories. (Good work by two women journalism students!)

Or like this article I read first from a Tweet, then on the web site itself, and then as I re-read it when I posted it on Facebook. Columnist Gillian Tett writes in the Financial Times about the link between successful women and the sports they played as girls or in college. Oh Yeah!

Maybe because I'm co-authoring a novel right now that's celebrating women's friendships and successes with an athletic backdrop (think "The Help" meets "A League of Their Own") but Tett's story got me thinking—about the impact of sports on my own life. So I offer this short (but long for a blog) essay from my most recent memoir/book, "Woman Overboard: How Passion Saved My Life." Now go thank those coaches!

"Compassion's Call and the Hands I want to Hold" An Excerpt from Chapter 7 of Woman Overboard

Saints with day jobs have taught me over and over. Even when I didn’t know it at the time.

Every June, July and August of my high school years, I was a proud member of the Callahan Real Estate girl’s softball team of Wheat Ridge, Colorado. I’d been playing little league on other teams since I was in second grade and loved everything about it: the sun on my face, the snacks after games, the laughs with my friends. There was nothing like standing around a park in the summer, tossing a ball back and forth or watching a batter connect to a pitch every now and then, until the game was over and you sat around the bleachers drinking Pepsi or Mountain Dew, watching the next game. It was my kind of sport.
By teenage years, however, the watching had turned to serious competition and most of my friends turned to other fun. I decided to keep playing. Our high school didn’t yet offer sports like softball or soccer for girls (it was the early 1970s, after all,when Title IX was just born), so suburban recreational centers filled the gap during the summer months. They offered all kinds of leagues for all levels of play.

That’s when I told my parents I wanted to play for Callahan Real Estate. But by joining this particular team, they reminded me, it wouldn’t be easy. The players were all older, mostly juniors and seniors, and I was only a sophomore. They’d been playing together for a few years. I was coming in from another team. And while they already knew all their positions, I had merely stood wherever the coach put me. I hadn’t focused long enough to excel at any one spot.

I was ready to try. So they took a chance and sent me to the recreation center to register . . .

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bicycles, Birds, and Beliefs

I'm not sure there's anything sadder than a bike stuck in snow, days long gone, with no birds to watch or roads to explore. So I reckon that's where believing can certainly help to get you through such a big disappointment, or even tougher, more real issues.

In fact, here's my latest story in the July issue of New England Psychologist, "Study: Belief in God Aids Treatment."

From there, it might be fun to hop on some wheels and put some belief into action where ever you are. Can't remember having so much fun interviewing folks as I did for this story in the July issue of North Shore Magazine: Wings and Wheels. 

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stirring the Creative Juices

Some wise soul probably said once that distance from routine can aid the creative process. I agree. And am realizing that simple things—like a change of scenery or  a different room in your house—can help your writing. So I'm on a couch now in Denver, having just come back from a walk in a park with big glorious trees waving under the Colorado sun. Last month I was in two places Downunder, as my last post shows. Next week, back in Massachusetts.

All are good for getting the juices flowing, for observing new characters and thinking about fresh details. Each is a link to an idea and a story, and each conversation with fellow travelers feeds the process.

Reckon that's what couches are for. Or trees to walk past. Or beaches to stare at. So bon voyage and bon appetite—both really do nurture the road to inspiration, if we'll dare to slow down and pay attention.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Adventure Down Under

No postings for May means I was traveling—far. To Tasmania, Australia, first, then to Queensland. Words aren't as good as photos in this case so I'll let them speak instead:
Koonya, Tasmania, home of my dad and his wife, at sunset.
The view from their porch.
Black swans off of their beach.

Pelicans in Brisbane.

Noosa National Park (Queensland) where in-laws live
 only a few miles from this view. I suppose someone has to.

See? We really were there. Here's verification of our adventure
down under.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Justice, Mental Health and Following

Ah, the writing life. Working on stories for different publications means, well, you're working. Reporting, interviewing, writing, editing, it's all part of the process of telling the story. Which can mean, of course, neglecting to post those stories on your blog once you're sent them on to the editors and they've tweaked and published them.

So just to keep semi-current, here's a recent sampling of a few of the articles I've written lately:

Coverage for the Salem News of the Salem award ceremony of two men long committed to justice.

A story for New England Psychologist on the new congressional bill proposing funding for mental health first aid.

An article on following vs. leading for Duke's Faith and Leadership online magazine.

What's next? Biking and birding on Boston's North Shore for North Shore Magazine! Who knew so many cyclists were also avid bird-watchers?!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Watching Generation Next Get the Story

Yes, I've been missing from blog posts. But not missing in reporter action. In fact, since late January I've been walking alongside a few reporters from the next generation as they write interesting stories for the Gordon College News Service, an internship program where aspiring journalists partner with local newspapers to cover the community. Since January 2010, the GCNS has been sending stories to papers and news sites, and it's exiting to see a new cohort. Here they are with editors and reporters at the Salem News as we talked shop over pizza. (Thank you to the generous professionals who give so much time to these young reporters!)

Meet the 2013 spring GCNS Fellows: Alanah Percy, Stephanie Francis and Tala Strauss (pictured here second, third, fourth from left). Click here to read their bios.