Literary Essay: The Unexpected Path

MaryMagdalene PixabayMy fifth novel, Enter 5-D begins with “For Eurydice Dukakis, it wasn’t supposed to happen the way that it did.” So, I thought about this line and the way that it speaks for the current era.

Often I have told people that my life was not supposed to turn out the way that it has. I wasn’t supposed to end up back at my parents’ house in a town I despise. I wasn’t supposed to still be renting apartments and houses after the age of 45. I was supposed to own my home, have published my novels, and feel empowered.

I wasn’t supposed to be sick, be tired, or feel disappointed with the road that I walk.

And others who live in vans or cars could say the same thing. People going through a divorce after once saying the words, “Until death do us part,” also wonder where life went wrong. And yet, a hero’s journey always begins with an unexpected challenge which is actually a calling to expand one’s worldview.

Still, my current life circumstances hardly feel expansive. As I type these words in a room the size of a walk-in closet, I don’t see my outer life going anywhere. As I raise funds to relocate and the money drip into my life rather than pour into it, I just feel frustrated. I relate to my character Eurydice whose life just took an unexpected turn for the worst.

Imagine if your entire life shaped and formed you to become an opera diva and then a draconian government bans all musical expression outside of the political State. Imagine if you also lose your home and are banished to the underground. And this is only within the imagination since I’m talking about a novel.

However, in real life many people are living the implausible because they feel that they did not sign up for their current circumstances. And yet, what is life without an adventure that tosses in the wrench? If we find ourselves always walking on Easy Street, then we cannot grow as people and Easy Street is actually pretty boring.

And yet, many of aspire to the safe middle road, which might not even be the right path for us. In fact, someone else, perhaps the media, prescribed the middle road. And we just went along with the program until…until something happens.

And that’s how all great novels begin with an insight or an incident. Authors know that they must use some kind of gravitational force to get their characters moving in a different direction. And while we’re not looking for a rollercoaster experience, we do need to write peaks and valleys.

So, whether the character starts out the story living in a car or watching his wife pack her suitcase as she prepares to leave him, what seems like a restrictive beginning later leads to expansion, but only after all the deep inner work has been accomplished. And so it is with real life too.

As with all my novels, my characters do much soul work. And I’m reminded of the lines from the movie French Kiss where Kate tells her former fiancée that when she walked around the streets of Paris penniless, she did some deep thinking. And she came to the realization that there is never a relationship that is safe enough, etc… Life only brings us constant change and it’s a matter of getting with the program of transformation. A story without transformation or metamorphoses is not a story. Rehashing one’s circumstances is also not a story. It is cheap drama. Boring. Draining.

And it’s the same with our “real” lives. Without change we die and even death is transformation from the physical into the ethereal. Think of the rocks that become sand due to the friction of the sea.  Think of the worm becoming a butterfly. None of this is easy and all of it is painful but we find value in sand and with butterflies.

Even though we sit in our rooms lamenting the shape and form of our current lives, know this. If we do the soul work and if we read the hero’s journey often, we’ll know that life forces are shaping us so that we find our true paths and then, and only then, we expand into the vastness of the Universe.

There are no happy endings. We experience happy moments. And life always churns out more circumstances that shape us. And as life shapes us we feel poised for the next chapter in our lives. It’s best to approach life circumstances with an open mind and an open heart.

While my character’s story begins on a tragic note it ends with transformation. She ends up living a life she would have never imagined. And Eurydice would never have met intriguing people or learned of her courage had she not traveled down the unintended path. And she only had two choices–to go with the program or to fight it every step of the way and not transform.

I am an author, astrologer, and creative coach. Learn more about my spiritual work at Metaphysics 4 Everyday Living or Whole Astrology. Sign up for a session at Whole Astrology.

Podcast from Super-Nature Heroes

signs-of-the-time-027Perhaps, I sound high and mighty when I mention that I include bigger themes of humanity and the journey of the planet in my comic novels. Hah! Yet, I wanted my writing career to dovetail with my metaphysical practice. Also, my current trip is to produce podcasts of my short fiction and chapters from my unpublished novels.

I’m doing this because it is a fun way to waste precious time. And because I feel frustrated that agents ignore my work in favor of dark thrillers and all those romances. Well, that stuff sells, I understand. But I am going to quote that song, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love” and comedy–lots of it.

And I would like to think that the Holy Saints possess a sense of humor. I envision them laughing at their foibles in my heartfelt urban fantasy. A girl’s gotta do, what a girl has gotta do.

Write it–After Sending the Pitch

DSCN3909After you pitch your book to an agent or publisher, it’s time to place your focus elsewhere. Instead of fretting over your query and playing the pensive waiting game, return to your manuscript and proofread it. Or you can put your manuscript aside and work on a new project.

From a metaphysical standpoint, we get more of what we focus upon. So if we focus on the agent or editor’s response, then we give our power away. The power is always in the present moment. This means to spend the present moment doing something constructive. Refine the manuscript. Or work on a completely different project. Read the work of authors you admire, but only to learn new writing skills and not to berate yourself.

Join a writing support or editing group. And instead of focusing on the manuscript you just pitched, help other writers. When we reach outside of ourselves and offer support to others, we create a healthy energetic field. This field attracts our manifestations. And since we are all connected spiritually, the agents and editors you pitched to are picking up on your expansive energy.

Photo by Patricia Herlevi

Also, when we focus our attention on helping others, the support we require also shows up. We learn by critiquing other people’s work. We learn from editing other people’s work. And other writers inspire us to make our work better. We experience ah-hah moments that we wouldn’t experience sitting by our computer screen fretting because an agent hasn’t responded yet.

Send love and blessings to agents and editors. But don’t do this because you want a return on your investment. Do it because you care about them and the work that they do. Send love to other writers too. They are not your competition but your comrades. Supporting other writers has good karma attached to it. And the fact is, writers need each other. We inspire one another and we teach each other. That’s why writing conferences give us such a charge and energy shift.

And when the agent or editor’s response shows up as a phone call or e-mail, no matter the response, take it with stride. If you receive a rejection, think of that as a time of redirection. It’s like my mother always tells me when I experience rejection, “That’s not the one for you and someone better will come along.”

While my younger self never believed that, in my maturity as a writer, I know those words are true. It’s all about Divine Timing and being in the right place at the right time. If you love what you do and keep improving at it, the right literary team will come along. But for now, focus on this moment and what is currently required of your attention. If anything, take the dog for a walk.

I am an intuitive and creativity coach. Sign up at Whole Astrology for a session today. I would be pleased to support on your journey.

Fiction–A Chihuahua Named Tequila

Excerpt from a longer story


A Chihuahua Named Tequila

I named my dog Tequila. I’m not sure why exactly except that I come from a family with strange names. No, let me back up, I have a mother who gives strange names to her children. She doesn’t do this as a sadistic act, but that’s just her way. For instance, she named me Calendula, that’s right, the name of a flower.

And there’s a story behind the name in case you have to time to hear it. And even if you don’t, I know it by rote having heard my mother tell her friends a hundred times. I’ll give you the short version without the hand gestures or histrionics, leaving out the labor pains and fainting father. My father gave a macho attitude a run for the money, but he couldn’t handle the indirect pain of childbirth—oh, all the suffering! Dios Mios!

In 1969, my mother became pregnant with me, her fifth child and her last. She developed a rash halfway through her pregnancy and everything her obstetrician threw her way only seemed to make it worse. So for the first time in her life, and from the advice of a friend, my mother saw a naturopath.

Back in 1969 that was considered a hippie thing to do, and my mother a Latina Catholic chose not to associate with “all those drug addicts” as she kindly put it. But this naturopath came with high recommendations and my mother had grown desperate trying to rid of her condition. Besides, the summer in which I was born turned out to be the hottest one on record so as I grew inside her expanding her waistline and that sun bore down on her flesh, the rash intensified.

To make a long story short, the naturopath recommended a calendula crème and my mother said if that plant healed her of her troubles then she would name her baby after it, boy or girl. Besides, my father, Manual Juan Velasquez, had been prodding my mother Estella Maria to come up with a name for me. But she found that ludicrous at the time since back then you didn’t know the sex of a child until it was born. And as usual, my father was expecting a son. After all, Estella Maria had already given birth to three sons, so why not another one?

Of course, the name Calendula wouldn’t do for a son. What kind of name was that for a boy, especially one who would become a soccer champion and play for the homeland, Mexico? My father was unaware of the irritation he caused my mother when he referred to Mexico as the homeland. As far as she was concerned, the USA was her home.

They had done alright. My father had a good job supervising other men for a construction company. And our family owned a home in a relatively nice, but suburban neighborhood outside of Los Angeles. We liked our neighbors and spoke Spanish around them, but I’m digressing. You want to know about my dog’s name, right?

Only a lush would name their dog after a Mexican brew and no, I never got my dog drunk on tequila. When I adopted him, a Chihuahua mix, I had just attended a college football game and the song “Tequila” that the marching band performed stuck in my head.

So when the lady at the shelter asked me to name my new dog the only word that popped out of my head was tequila. And it’s not a bad name for him. He seemed like a sassy dog, even a macho dog. If he was human, he would probably enter some contest to see how many tequila shots he could down at a party. All bets would be placed on him, not that I think of my puppy as the gambling type, but we’re imagining him as human.

As far as dogs go I wouldn’t say that he’s well behaved. He vomits on the carpet, runs into the street nearly missing oncoming cars, and he pees on both moving and non-moving objects. He’s a Don Juan around all the female hounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days I end up with a wicked lawsuit because of my dog. He snaps at other people, especially men I date  and he garnered the reputation as an ankle biter. Okay, so he’s far from perfect and he’s high maintenance too.


I thought by adopting a Chihuahua instead of a silky terrier that I would have ended up with a come-as-you-are dog, but no, this dog enjoys a good massage and grooming session, the only time he doesn’t act unruly. No wonder el perro ended up in a dog shelter! Only a mother could love him or someone with a guilt-complex.

So you’re wondering by now where this story is going and why I’m going on about my unruly Chihuahua, which is hardly news, right? I’ve been invited to a family reunion in Seattle and I can’t take the dog on the plane with me, nor does my family want me to bring Tequila along. My mother seemed adamant against the idea when I last spoke to her on the phone. Which means that I’ll need to find a sitter for the dog, but who among my friends, who all despise him will grant me such a favor?

I hit up the animal activists friends first and applied the guilt technique. Tequila pulled out his forlorn look with his large brown weeping Mexican eyes. Really, he was on his best behavior until he heard a dog barking on TV and that set him off on one of his alpha dog rampages. He peed on the couch which of course shocked my friends. “So, okay, think of him as an animal in the wild,” I begged, “you wouldn’t leave him alone to starve to death, would you?”

My friend Emilie countered, “He’s hardly a wild dog even if he’s attached to his primal instincts. And did I tell you I just bought a new couch–an expensive new couch?”

Margo seemed more adamant against taking on a Chihuahua as an animal rights cause. “Remember that time he snarled at me and wouldn’t let me out of your bathroom? Remember when he almost bit my ankles? He was that close,” she pointed to a foot away from her ankles. And Mark, even a devoted activist, didn’t have a soft spot for dogs, and especially hated Chihuahuas because he was attacked by one as a child. There were limits to his compassion.

Next, I tried the kennels but they weren’t taking any smaller dogs at that time. One of the kennels had been handed a lawsuit for losing a precious rat terrier that somehow escaped his kennel. And so no dice for Tequila. My family didn’t want him, my friends didn’t want him, and even the expensive dog boarding places didn’t want him or my bribes.

Fortunately, new neighbors had moved into my apartment building, a Gay couple who seemed to love Chihuahuas. I thought of approaching them to take care of Tequila for a week and I would pay them generously for the favor, but then a wicked thought came to me.

What if Tequila pulled out all the stops of his bad dog behavior and turned off these men towards all of Tequila’s kind? Only a real softy could love that dog, and even I had my difficult moments. However, I would have acted like a bad mother if I left that dog alone for a week. I’d return to a trashed and smelly apartment. My landlord would have evicted me. He hated the dog, despised the barking, and didn’t care much for my kind either.

I took my chances and approached Gregory and Gary who turned out were delighted to dog sit for a week and they refused payment. What are they loco?

“Oh, I insist. He’s really a lot of work and…”

Gregory tickled Tequila’s chin, “Goochie, goochi goo… He reminds me of that Taco Bell dog.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I was you. He might turn on you.”

Tequila smiled and wagged his tail. He seemed to relish the attention and the under-the-chin massage. He didn’t usually act friendly towards men, but maybe Gay men didn’t seem like a threat to him. They possessed a different sort of energy that Tequila warmed up to right away.

Gary’s enthusiasm grew as he watched his partner play with my dog. “We can take him to the doggy bakery…You know the one we pass by on our way to work.” He glanced at Tequila’s large eyes, “He does resemble the Taco Bell dog.”

Greg nodded with enthusiasm. “And he can meet others of his kind…”

I panicked. “You mean the Taco Bell pack? I don’t think that’s a good idea to take him to a bakery.”

“Oh, why not?” Greg whined.

“Hmmm, how can I put this delicately? He doesn’t get along well with his own kind.”

“You mean he doesn’t like other Chihuahuas?”

“He doesn’t like any type of dog. Taking him for a walk….” I stopped talking before I sabotaged my good fortune. Did they need to know that Tequila would attack any dog no matter how large or small, or male or female? By the time they found out I would have been halfway between LA and Seattle, on the way to a family reunion that I didn’t even want to attend. And my family would never have allowed me to use my dog as an excuse. Just leave him at the vet my mother said, and get your butt over here.

And if logic didn’t do the trick, good old Catholic guilt would leave me too paralyzed to act. Zombie-like I would obey my mother, a ruthless dictator at times who practiced every trick in the book. She wrote it after all. All of you Latinas have my mother to thank for your misery.

Now that the dog problem had been solved, I needed to steel myself for another episode of mi familia loco. After the plane arrived at the Sea-Tac Airport, I questioned my logic of attending the reunion. My sister who stole my boyfriend and married him, my cousin who switched teams and was known as “La Lesbian” and despised by the more conservative relatives, my brother Pedro Rìo who lost his job and lived in his car for a short period, and my lecherous uncle were all in attendance. I could hardly wait to become reacquainted with them.

I would have been better off staying home with Tequila and battling with my guilt. Instead, I spent two hours on a plane with hacking families spreading viruses and God knows what else through the recycled air system. Then I’d spend three days in a run-down moldy and cluttered house that started its day as a house “with potential”—that was decades ago. I saw myself listening to my mother rattling off tangents and snippets of gossip about who she despised that week.

My “ungrateful” twin brothers (Pebbles and Stone) stayed in Los Angeles to work on their latest architect design. After all, they had a deadline, but my mother experienced outrage towards the sons she gave birth to so long ago. Didn’t they remember all the suffering she endured to bring them in the world so that they could design all those useless ugly condos? Hmmm, would she prefer that they quit their job and live on the streets so that they could attend this crazy reunion?” I wished that I had an excuse not to attend.

After I entered the family room, I noticed that the drama had already begun with my mother holding center court. I noticed a migraine coming on as I approached my mother and embraced her. It turned out that La Lesbian brought her partner and this woke everyone out of their denial about Maria.

Not that I cared who she dated. I envied her boldness. Imagine bringing your same-sex lover to a family gathering hosted by my crazy Catholic mother. And if that wasn’t enough to send me hailing a taxi back to the airport, my sister, Cynthia (not her real name), announced that she and her husband (my former boyfriend) were filing for divorce. She caught him cheating with his secretary.

How could she have not known how easy it was to seduce the man since she seduced him when he lived with me, and in my bed? Begging for my sympathy, she didn’t receive an ounce of it. Now she had the nerve to air out her personal problems at a family reunion.

Meanwhile, Pedro Rìo held relatives hostage on the couch telling the others about his time on the streets. Although I sympathized with him, he since moved on and found a job at a computer company that paid him a monthly salary equivalent to a year of wages for me. Who were all these people anyways? I missed Tequila and his macho ways.

Hunger provoked me to scarf down my mother’s enchiladas. No one made enchiladas like my mother. They melted in your mouth and then the spices and chilies hit you slowly until you had to down some kind of liquid to cool off the tongue. After that, I downed a shot of tequila for good measure. I needed it.

Meanwhile La Lesbian sidled up to me.  “Hey, cousin, how have you been? How’s your dog? What’s his name?”

I hugged her. “I named him Tequila.

You know I’m still waitressing at the same place.”

“Have you met anyone special?”

“Not unless Tequila counts.”

She raised a thick eyebrow, “Perhaps, I can introduce you to a nice woman…”

“No thanks.  I’m not interested in playing for the other side.”

She quickly changed the topic, “Didn’t you say that you were returning to school to obtain a Masters in fine art?”

I laughed. “Wow! Is this a grilling session or what? I never returned to college to earn a Masters in fine art. What would have been the point?”

She frowned at me.  “Chica, when are you going to follow your heart?”

I glance nervously at my mother, the real reason why I didn’t return to college—she thought it was a bad idea, that I would look too smart and never land a husband. I’d end up as a lonely librarian. Never mind that I would have obtained my Master in art not library sciences. She always mixed thing up.

“Follow my heart, are you joking? Who follows their heart?”

La Lesbian grabbed her partner’s hand and dragged her over to us. “We did,” she boasted and one-upped me as usual.

“Hmmm, are you happy with your decision? You know the relatives all despise you, except me of course.”

She let out a sigh. “Yeah, I didn’t want to come to this reunion. Kathy dragged me here telling me that family is the most important.” She smiled at her partner. “But her family accepts us, mine doesn’t.”

Pedro entered the kitchen and wolfed down some enchiladas. He grinned at us.

“So Bro, how’s the new job?”

His gaze quickly dropped to the floor and he stared at his worn out loafers. “Promise not to tell Mama, but there is no software job.”

“What? Are you joking? What do you mean there is no software job? What are you doing now?”

He chuckled to himself, “I work in building maintenance.”

“Is that the politically correct term for you work as a janitor?”

“I take offense to that. I manage the janitorial team on the night shift. The pay isn’t bad, but Mama wouldn’t have respected me if I told her about my new job. So I lied about the software company.”

I stifled a laugh, “Wow! And all this time I actually envied you.”

“The thing is Sis, that Mama has too high of expectations of us kids.”

“Tell me about it. I’ve been the brunt of her animosities for years because I majored in art and work as a waitress. Never mind that I actually have talent as a painter and that I’ve branched out into sculpting. Never mind that I’ve actually had my work appear in group shows at galleries and that I sold one painting for eight hundred dollars, never mind all of that because Mama is more concerned about me marrying some rich man. Like, I’m going to meet one waitressing at a café.”

to be continued…

Write it–Don’t Toss Your Story in Flames

DSCN2318We’ve all witnessed scenes in movies where an author tosses a manuscript into the flames. And many real life novelists and story writers destroyed their work in this way. Now a days, it’s too easy to “select all” and “delete”. But wait a minute…

We must remember that the writing process is subjective and our egos often, if not always, run the show. The ego shows us polished work of a famous author leaving us to believe that we’ll never experience that success. But why are we comparing our first or second draft of our first novel to a New York Times Best-Selling author’s work? I know I’ve fallen into this trap and if I’ve done it, so have thousands, if not millions of other aspiring and even veteran authors. I drove myself crazy comparing my memoir to Liz Gilbert’s phenomenal success.

But let’s get realistic here. After you read the last page of that best-seller that caused you to cringe over your own manuscript, check out the acknowledgement page. You’ll see a long list of editors, fellow writers who critiqued the manuscript, the agent, former writing teachers, MFA professors, and possibly a writing group in the acknowledgements. We have come to believe that writing is a solo process, but in actuality, it takes a team to publish a novel, and that does include the graphic artist, photographer, and public relations department.

What we fail to see with the finished product include the first few drafts with notes and corrections in red ink. We fail to see the many attempts the author took to polish a chapter or even the sentence that launches the story or the final paragraph that leave the readers satisfied or wanting more. We don’t see the writing conferences the author attended or the workshops they enrolled. We don’t see the number of rejection letters from agents and or editors who sometimes left suggestions for improvements. We also don’t see the times when even that author wanted to douse their novel in flames.

So if your novel appears problematic, then join a writing critique group on or offline (although some critique groups are insufferable, I admit). Or attend a writing conference and go to the workshops that speak out to your work. Get your ego under control by learning spiritual practices such as yoga (breathing gives us space), meditation, or reading self-help books. Find someone whose opinion you trust who will critique with a firm, yet sensitive hand, such as a writing mentor.

Get a list of your novels strength and weaknesses, then research ways to solve the weaknesses and bolster the strength. There are no excuses in regard going online to a site such as Writers Digest or picking up writing books or magazines at the library. I’ve done this at various steps on my writing path. Also you might have to trim the fat of your novel and start from a blank page. Perhaps, deleting a character or twisting the plot inspires you to write a better novel. Deleting a paragraph, chapter, or character is not the same as tossing your novel into a lit fireplace. Although it’s also less dramatic and writers adore drama.

You can also place the novel in a file (computer or hard copy) and store it until you feel inspired to return to the novel. Start your next novel using the new tools and practices you gained from the first novel. And don’t do what I did and rewrite all your previous novels because you compare your current mastery to your more innocent efforts. And whatever you do, be your best advocate and supporter. Don’t put yourself down or say that you’ll never succeed as a novelist. If you feel a strong desire to write novels and that desire comes from your heart, then keep moving forward.

You’ll get there when you get there. And if it makes you feel any better, I started writing fiction in my thirties and I’m turning 52–the proud author-mama of five unpublished novels. I’m not giving up though. I love the stories that come to me, I enjoy the writing process and I’m sure I will enjoy publication of all my novels in good time. I wish you success too.

If you would like an astrology-coaching session from a multimedia artist, sign up at my blog Whole Astrology. Also visit Metaphysics 4 Everyday Living. And keep on writing.

Holding Out for the Cinderella Ending

Queen Anne tub, 1995

I thought I had completed my memoir, Woman Sleeping on the Couch last spring, but with a recent turn-of-events, I still have one last chapter to write. And I’m hoping for a Cinderella type ending.

At the beginning of August, my landlord gave me 30 days to vacate my current home. This home was never meant to be permanent but a jumping off point to my dream home. I have dealt with spiders, mold, and other irritations for the past several months, but at the same time I was grateful to live in the Sunnyland neighborhood of Bellingham.

Given my experiences from last fall, mainly dealing with narcissists and their ensuing drama as I couch surfed, I went into panic mode at the beginning of August thinking that I would have to experience the in between home scenarios once again. But then something miraculous happened and a friend hooked me up with a channeled session, much like the Abraham-Hicks work and I began uncovering my blocks by transmuting fear and despair into anger that burned through all the lies I had been taught since childhood. I let go of defenses and allowed myself to dream big.

So with a few days left to manifest my dream home (something I hadn’t even considered prior to doing Louise Hay’s affirmations and this clearing work), I see myself walking into a counter intuitive situation and living in a beautiful home for free by exchanging creative services (interior decorating, photography, etc). It can be done and when this dream home manifests, I’ll complete my memoir and begin another round of pitches.