Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Please Come and Join Me at my New Blog Location!

Dear Faithful Readers,

I've moved my blog to Wordpress. Please follow me! Just click on http://katherinesartori.com/blog
Then, once you're there,
click where it says "sign me up." It's easy. I hope I see you all again.

My newest post is:
"Switching Paths - Have you ever wanted to throw away your To Do List?"

I hope you'll enjoy my future posts and stories about how to:

*reinvent yourself,
*make your life an adventure, 
*create wise decisions amidst myriad choices,
*become a dream traveler and enjoy visiting other worlds.

 ~KAS ( my pen name is Katherine Sartori)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Savor Decadent Chocolates with Delectable Books!

(Photo by Dan Rizolli & freedigitalphotos.com)
Mmm, creamy chocolate. . .
We savor the sweet aroma as our mouths begin to water.
Then we indulge in the fun of selecting each savory chocolate to sample.  
 Now, why not combine our decadent treats with some delectable books?
Welcome to my blog post where we link chocolates to favorite books.Thanks Michelle Knowlden, for tagging me on your chocolate blog hop in mid-May! 
 White creamy chocolate filled with pecans links best with Michelle Knowlden's new mystery, Riddle In Bones. Despite past traumas, the sweltering desert, and a hot French housekeeper, Leslie Green must solve a bone riddle before the killer shoots again. Michelle has published 14 stories in Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine plus two earlier mysteries, so this book should be a page-turner!
 Choose a key-lime chocolate truffle while enjoying Freeways to Flip-Flops, a multi award-winning memoir by Sonia Marsh who says, “After uprooting my three teens from affluent Orange County, California to a hut in Belize, chocolate was the last thing on my mind. Although it gave me comfort during the dark winters in Denmark, where I was born, I never craved blød nougat, my favorite hazelnut chocolate, during our hot Caribbean island adventure.”
A cup of hot chocolate with a crunchy almond roca packs the necessary punch when reading Running and Dancing, Newberry winner Carol Fenner’s and Claudia Alexander's book about two African-American girls maturing in the WWI-era, a time of Model-T's and the lure of faraway places. Her story contrasts the comforts of home against an adrenaline rush from the hard bite of these lighthearted youngsters’ first experiences with bullying and discrimination.
Exotic dark chocolate encasing an apricot almond center is perfect while reading Mary Terzian’s award-winning memoir, The Immigrant’s Daughter. Her story is “laced with a perfect mix of drama and humor.” Her tale of an Armenian girl growing up in Cairo tells of a “triumph over destiny, a leap from passive acceptance into a fierce battle for self-determination,” in a time and place where the inferior position of women was, sadly, the status quo.
 I now pass the baton to two other author friends who will share
their own chocolate delights with us next week!
They are Greta Boris and Susan Weidener.
Read Susan Weidener’s book, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again with a rich dark chocolate in hand. Dramatic life events are the substance of this powerful memoir. A reader shares how romantic this story truly is: “Love is a long close scrutiny...the book's scenes will stay with readers for years…touching hearts and lives with an honest portrayal of how cancer affects a marriage."
A chewy caramel covered in lustrous chocolate is my choice for Morning at Wellington Square, Susan Weidener’s sequel. With refreshing and courageous honesty, Weidener reveals her circuitous path as a single woman, parent, daughter and writer. Readers learn that no matter how many heartaches we have, each of us has a "morning" in our future. Weidener found hers and we can too!
Choose a decadent cherry nougat covered in Bordeaux chocolate when reading Greta Boris’ book, The Wine and Chocolate Workout: Eat, Drink and Lose Weight. A reader shares, “I HAD to know how these two indulgences could help me get and STAY fit! With her extensive experience in the health and fitness industry, Ms. Boris…leads people by the hand on their journey towards better health."

I'm excited about the chocolates & books they'll share soon,
promising us more indulgent treats.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sometimes Life Recreates Us

Reflection on the past can energize our future. Stop and think about the past twelve months. What unexpected events propelled you into situations you hadn’t planned? Did you complete some personal goals as well? On both counts, I bet you’ve changed. I hope you have, because that’s what makes us grow, extending and deepening our lives. 
A friend of mine often reminds me that difficult people and situations offer us opportunities to learn, improve and even appreciate this crazy mystery we call life.
In the past year, unforeseen obstacles forced me to accept a challenge I didn’t expect or want. EMTs rushed my husband Joe to the ER a year ago because of a brain hemorrhage and congestive heart failure. He went into a coma and didn’t readily wake up, puzzling the doctors and nurses and sending me into a worried frenzy. As wonderful as the hospital staff was, none of them could promise me he would wake up--or wake up healthy.
After five long days, he finally opened his eyes and began talking, and to the doctors’ amazement, he said hello in Arabic to Dr. Kadifa, the phenomenal physician who was caring for him. My mouth gaped open with shock; so did the doctor’s!  Although Joe has spoken Italian from birth, English since age six, and studied Spanish, German and Portugese over the years, I had no idea he could speak a middle eastern language. What was happening here? I held my breath and did the only thing I could do--I prayed.
In a few days, Joe began telling jokes (in English this time) with his own unique brand of Brooklyn humor. Slowly, he began to remember too. After two weeks in ICU, with the encouragement of a fantastic physical therapist we’ll never forget, Joe got out of bed, took hold of the walker, and paced around the entire ICU unit once.  On the next day, he did it three times! Tears welled up in the nurses’ eyes as they watched him, saying, “We don’t see this very often. Your husband is one of the lucky ones!” At that moment I knew how very blessed we were.
For some inexplicable reason, God chose to save my husband from what the nurses later admitted they’d expected:  that he’d wake up vastly changed, both physically and mentally, or he would pass on. . .   Thank God for the family members and friends who called or stayed with me during those three solid weeks while I stayed at Joe’s side at the hospital and later, the brain rehab unit. Thank God, too, for friends online (like you) who sent me encouragement and prayers.
Once I brought Joe home, the doctors kept reminding us that his recovery would take time—lots of it (more than a year). It did, changing me forever. For the first time in my life, I became a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week caregiver. On many days, I could not think, sleep, eat or cry.  Though I tried to write, I couldn’t. During the following twelve months, I learned not only how to take charge of my husband’s health, but how to detect signs of my own emotional/physical exhaustion--enough to nourish myself a bit, so that like thousands of other caregivers, I didn’t end up with serious health problems.
Now, a year later, after vigilant treatment, ever-changing dosages of meds and wonderful doctors, my husband’s overall health is at about 98%!
We couldn’t be more grateful. More than ever now, we enjoy simple moments together. We hold hands while watching Netflix movies; we talk over coffee every morning like we used to, and enjoy family & friends too; plus, we’re taking classes together again at the local college. Last week Joe even started perusing travel brochures again!
Why did God give us this amazing blessing? I don’t know. . .  When I think of the tragedies and ongoing heartaches of others, I wonder more. All I can do is show my appreciation by living my life to the fullest, using my God-given talents to the max.
I hope your journey in the past year has been as equally blessed as mine. What challenges, milestones have reconfigured your life path? I bet you’ve grown and learned from them as well. I hope you’ll share your experiences here (below).  
What I know for sure is that now when I see a person hobbling along with a cane or a child in a wheelchair, I give them a gentle smile or word. When I read a tragic story, I always breathe a silent prayer. And when someone I know is going through sadness, I try to text them or call more, and send them cards of comfort. I also have a new appreciation for those caregivers whose path is fraught with the gloom and worry that filled my heart in the past year. I’m aware that thousands of others spend their days caring for helpless loved ones year after year. . .   My heart goes out to all of them with deepened empathy.
P. S. A few months ago, I asked Joe if he knew any Arabic and he smiled. “Not much--but enough to say hello and give a blessing.”

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Greenland's Life Lessons

Whether we’re 17 or 70, re-creating our lives isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s the last thing we want to do, but life has a way of forcing it upon us. We lose our job or we have to quit. We must move away. We finally admit that our own decisions are robbing us of happiness. A person we’ve counted on for years does something so painful we just can’t bring ourselves to see them again. Worst of all, we must say goodbye when a family member or friend passes on.
After these traumas, we need to allow our tears to fall. Loss demands it. But once we’ve dried our eyes, we can pick up the pieces of our lives, Dr. Harold Greenwald says in his book THE HAPPY PERSON, making daily choices that will lead us back to happiness. But, he claims, our expectations about being happy must shift first. We must eradicate negative thoughts and words that brand us as a victim. Instead we must establish the habit of expecting happiness and visualizing that happiness in living color. Plus, we have to work at it, gradually and diligently.
But how will we decide how to change, what to do, which steps to take? Only after going inward will we know. Our mysterious, wonderful inner voice, if tapped often, can tell us better than any other what to try…and yes, try again. Gradually listening to that voice within, we can take on the challenge of discovering new habits and activities that will quench our thirst for companionship, fulfillment, adventure, inner peace and love.
A friend of mine, who is steeped in Jungian psychology, suggested I pose a question to the Spiritual Force that lies within me before going to bed. “Ask what you’re not seeing about the obstacle or disappointment you’re facing,” she said. “Ask to know which direction to take so you can grow as a person, and in wisdom.  Keep asking. You’ll receive an answer.”
This might sound unusual, but I tried it after meditating, as I often do, before going to sleep. When I awoke the next day I got an answer, two in fact!  I was elated.  Those insights led to two decisions that I couldn’t be happier about today.
Yes, change is definitely not easy and sometimes it’s so gradual it is almost imperceptible. So be patient.
A few months ago, while viewing Greenland from the deck of a ship, I contemplated how this massive island, originally situated way down in Antarctica, slowly moved north over billions of years, until now it’s adjacent to the North Pole.  Isn’t that amazing? Talk about change…  

Oldest island in the world,
    what can you teach me?
Is your ancient movement up the globe
   through  centuries of time
    a lesson? . . .
         that I must not count on fixed stars or familiar loves?

For as a land mass travels and transforms,
  So do we.
And as certain as a sunrise
   promises a new day, 
   the breath and the beat of life
  shifts into new rhythms,
  moving to traverse a world beyond. . .
  what is.
By Katherine Sartori

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Madeline's Gifts

As we get older, I believe we need role models, more than ever, to inspire us.  Madeline gave that gift to me and my husband Joe.  I am sure, to many others, as well. 

My husband and I met her in an Emeritus History class at Saddleback College some years ago. I can still picture her a couple weeks after we met.  We were enjoying a break between classes and with a twinkle in her eyes and a special smile, she announced she was going to celebrate her birthday and would soon turn 80. Surprise must’ve shown on my face.  She noticed immediately. “You didn’t know, did you? Yes, I am 79 and I will soon be 80,” she said proudly. I’ll never forget how her voice literally rang with glee. 

For me, this was a woman whose age didn’t matter.  She looked and acted young, the way I want to look and act when I turn 80. She was energetic, curious, involved in many activities, asked many questions, and was a voracious reader. 

My husband Joe is more of a non-fiction reader than I, and he and Madeline shared several books. Once he warned her that a book he’d lent her on Russian history and culture was an usually serious read, literally packed with a wide range of detailed information and facts.  “It might take you a while to read this one,” he said.  To his surprise when she brought the book back to him only a week later, she admitted, “Yes, you were right, Joe, but I loved reading it!”

Over the course of time, visits to our home and several classes that we shared with Madeline, we all learned about Philosophical thought through the ages, Russian culture and many different aspects of film-making.  One day, when we were enjoying a break between classes again, I shared with Madeline that I was a published writer and had almost finished writing a novel about the time in my life, many years ago, when I was a nun. 

She was fascinated, I guess, and began to tell me about the memoir she’d written several years before. Now it was my turn to become completely fascinated, because the next time she visited our home she lent me her memoir to read and comment on. I was very touched.  She was honoring Joe and I by sharing the story of her life with us:  How, as a very young Jewish girl, her parents had found a way to hide her in a convent from the Nazis who had marched into Paris, and how her brother was separated from her and was hidden in a seminary not far away.  Her memoir also told of her wonderful ongoing love for her husband, and the passion for music they shared throughout their marriage.

Her writing was vivid, her words painting pictures in our minds of what she’d thought and felt during a very dangerous time in her life and later, her travels to Israel with her beloved husband. I told her that her memoir was a treasure and that it was wonderfully written. I suggested she should join my writing group and continue writing, but she said simply, “I wrote my story for my children and my grandchildren. That is enough for me.”

Madeline honored Joe and I again when she called to tell us that her husband, after suffering with Altzeimers for several years, had passed away.  When I asked if I could come and take her out or do something for her, she told me that her daughter Joy came to see her very often. “She is taking good care of me,” she said proudly, “ and so are my other children and grandchildren.”

Yes, Madeline gave Joe and I several gifts:  her frank opinions on politics, her pointed questions, her empathy when our own family troubles occurred, but most of all, she gave us her zest for learning and living, and of course, her stories.  We know she was fluent in several languages: French, Hungarian, Hebrew, German and the language of life, caring and compassion.  She honored us with her presence and her spirit.  She will be missed but never forgotten.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Readers' Forum Today

Today I’m trying something new!  I’m turning this blog post into a READERS FORUM.  As the debut author of THE CHOSEN SHELL, I’d love to reply to your comments and questions, plus I’d love it if we discussed ideas among ourselves  too.  
Some of you have already read my novel.  But since it’s only been on sale since Dec 14th, I’m sure many haven’t.   That’s okay, we can still talk about elements of my book without giving away the story’s secrets.
I’ll start with a few questions:   Are you intrigued by the era of the 1960s?  What’re your thoughts about that era?  Did you ever wonder what it was like to be a nun?   Did you ever want to do something extraordinary?   Have you ever had to make a difficult decision?  My novel will elicit these questions in your mind.         
I’m excited to hear your answers and comments!  So don’t hold back, ok?
To some of you, life in a convent probably seems as foreign as life on Mars!  Well, my story isn’t sci-fi but it IS historical fiction, because it happened over 50 years ago.  And since I was a nun myself for several years, as you read my story you’ll be receive true-to-life glimpses of monastic life. 
When the story opens in 1963, Celie, an attractive and naïve poet , has just graduated from high school and has won a state writing contest.  Nonetheless, she kisses her boyfriend Mike goodbye and goes off, in her words, “to make a difference in people’s lives.” 
Have you ever wanted to do something with your life that was a cut above everybody else?  If you have, you’ll understand Celie.  If you haven’t, you’ll probably be curious about WHY she would choose to be a nun.  Nonetheless, as you follow her into a convent of Augustinian nuns, set in the hills of a small northern California town you’ll see her grapple with a very different life style than she expected.  Have you ever chosen something and then found out it was quite different from your expectations? 
But WHY does Celie want to be so special?  That’s another question. . . 
Okay, I’m done writing for now. . .  Instead, I’d like to know what you think.  Share your comments and questions, PLEASE!  Perhaps some of my former-nun friends will share their insights too. I HOPE so!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hurricane Moon

I’m a DreamTraveler.  I believe, to be happy, we have to recreate ourselves, maybe not every day but two or three times a year and many times in a decade.  That’s what makes life an adventure.
Sometimes I can’t wait to try something new. Other times the last thing I want to do is test a new path. I’m frozen.  Stuck.  But life can often force us into a new niche.  Looking back, I’m usually glad I took the first step and moved on.  The characters in my stories are too.
My writing is usually about trying new paths, reinventing our lives, a bit at a time.  We concoct a dream or set a goal or need to escape--and we go for it!  Sometimes the results are not what we expected, but we adjust, make a turn, finesse our way through the disappointments, confusion, the good stuff and the hard stuff, but in the end, we GROW and the end result is a new dimension of ourselves.
Case in point:   I love to travel, but recently my husband wanted to go on a trans-Atlantic cruise. I got out a map and took one look at the vast oceans we were going to cross and got VERY COLD feet.  We would start in Amsterdam, then go to Norway, and eventually cross the Atlantic Ocean, stopping in Iceland and Greenland, then complete our journey by reaching northern Canada, and finally disembark in New York. 
Though I was nervous, in the end we booked the trip, leaving on August 29th. But to make matters even more scary, after we left Norway, not one but THREE hurricanes began following our Holland America ship.  Their names were Rick, Leslie & Michael—thank God, Sandy hadn’t slammed her way up the coast yet!   The captain kept assuring us that all of his weather data showed he could outrun Hurricane Rick, but despite the ships’ stabilizers which minimize rocking on the waves, he warned that the storm might affect our sleep on one particular night. 
Well, I was MORE than nervous that night. Even though I’m a deep sleeper I woke up at2 a.m. But the ship wasn’t rocking too badly so I sat very close to my husband and took a look at the angry sea outside.  I’d never seen anything like those towering, furious waves. Yes, it was VERY frightening. Then he put his arm around me and pointed up to the sky and we glimpsed, amazingly, a full moon, shining down on the stormy seas.  What a Gift! Then the moon disappeared, but after several moments of complete darkness, there it was again. He nudged me and said, “You should write a poem about this.”  So I did.

Image by prozac1, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


             Hurricane Moon

Haloed white moon
     piercing hurricane clouds
     that wisk and wail over
     waves swooping up and
     rocking ships at sea.
Despite the fright of warnings
     and the bobbing havoc
     tormenting lives,
     the white moon glimmers
     midst shifting mists and roiling waves.
Gleaming intermittently, like the
     mysterious and relentless force
     that moves us all,
     inside and underneath  the vagaries
     and unexpected weather
     of our days.