The Other Side

Zen Story:

One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier.

Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river?”

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side.”

What if, at this moment, while hugging your struggles tightly, you have missed the chance to feel that you are on the other side? And what if, at this moment, while hugging your struggles tightly, you let yourself feel that understanding?

xoxo

 

 

 

 

“Inside the River” Query Letter

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Thank you readers (and Ang Lee, even though he doesn’t know it yet) from 52 different countries for sharing this journey with me.

I’m seeking representation for my novel, “Inside the River.”  I believe this story will appeal to you because it explores the raw emotions of suffering and forgiveness.  There is also a magical book, a white haired tambourine playing gypsy, and the fish who forgot their pact of silence and sang.  “Inside the River,” bridges Magical Realism with Contemporary Women’s Fiction, and totals 94,000 words.

No life comes without some struggles — the toughest trick in life though is how to heal ourselves and love.  “Inside the River” follows the poignant stories of two women, separated by centuries, but connected by their shared history of having suffered as girls and then struggling to learn how to heal themselves and love years later in their lives.

In an ancient…

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House of Jai 30 day Yoga Challenge

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mindypicI work and practice at House of Jai yoga studio in New York City.  As many of you have read, my yoga practice, my action of self-study, has unleashed the courage needed to finish my novel, “Inside the River.”

The studio has started a fun and non-competitive 30 day yoga challenge.  The challenge is to get on your mat every day for a month.  It doesn’t have to be at House of Jai so there is a wonderful component of Satya or truth to the challenge.

Today is Day 1 and so I thought I would write about it and perhaps give updates every few days as to how being aware of a daily choice can shift old habits of mind and body.  For years, I’ve been getting on my mat almost every day, and each time the practice teaches me something as I hold onto my beginner’s mind.

Day…

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Clinging to Non-Attachment as my son left for college

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I have stayed pretty faithful to my intention of this blog as the introduction of my novel, “Inside the River,” as well as holding the vision of Ang Lee directing the movie version of my book (although he doesn’t know it yet).  I have sprinkled in some yoga as my practice informs me in countless ways.

I know that people from all over the world have somehow read my words.  But, on this blog, I will dabble into something deeply personal as a way of honoring where I am at in this moment.

I recently dropped my oldest son off to college.  Eighteen years ago, when he was born, I looked into his eyes for the first time, and promised him I would let him go when he was older so he could explore this world without feeling limited by my needs.  Of course, I was blown away by the love…

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Why I reread Tess of the D’Ubervilles, by Thomas Hardy, every 5 years

Do you ever go back and reread your favorites books like you revisit your favorite restaurant or museum? Do you ever ask yourself why?

I reread Tess of the D’Ubervilles, by Thomas Hardy, every 5 years since I was twenty years old. He wrote the book in 1891 to mixed reviews because of its challenge to the Victorian ideals of his time.  In fact, after he finished his last novel, Jude The Obscure, to more criticism, he stopped writing novels altogether and kept to poetry.

His book is poetic and tragic and modern in his thinking.  His depth and compassion for a female character, in the context of his time period, is astonishing enough.  The censoring and revising and his need to add to the title  A Pure Woman is equally as fascinating and I recommend learning about the background of this book if that sort of thing interests you.  I think all books are historical and political in some way.

This book asks the ultimate question to its readers about Tess: was she raped or seduced, and is she responsible for what happened either way? Academics have pointed out different excerpts and there are many to point to both.  I can write long and hard about my views but that’s not why I’m writing this blog.

I reread Tess every five years, because although the book (I reread the same book each time, although yellowed and with tiny print) never changes, I do.  Every five years I reread the book with fresh eyes and with five more years of experiences and hopefully, wisdom.  I can tell you I thought she was definitely raped and ill-used by the men of the novel as well as the views of society at 20, 25, 30, and 35.

At 40, I still found her situation tragic and her choices stifled by the morals of her day.  Yet, during this reread, I didn’t spend much time looking for evidence in Hardy’s words for the proof of her rape.  I found myself letting go of the question, and sinking deeper into Tess and her victimhood, her view of herself as “tainted.”  I found myself rooting for her, even though her fate had been written over 120 years ago.  Although with each reread, I felt she deserved so much more, with this past reread, I felt she deserved to feel more deserved.

Why is it so important for me to reread this classic? It’s important because my thoughts evolve, my compassion expands, and my expectations lessen to allow Tess to shine through.  Hardy wrote about a marginalized woman, set against the pastoral poetics he was so adept at, and chose to let the reader decide.  And I think, less than a year away from my 6th reread, Hardy was hoping to force the readers of his time to accept her purity.  I felt like it didn’t matter whether seduced or rape, because she felt herself without a choice either way and the consequences of being without choice is the greatest tragedy.

Inspired continually by the courage of Tess and Hardy, I wrote Inside the River.  And to honor my devotion to this book, I wrote a scene where Ana reads the palm of a dairymaid who chooses poorly.  Ana asks her:

“Do you have a friend you can trust?”

“Yes, I work with Tess.  I tell her everything.”

“Tell her, word for word, what promises are uttered to you.  If they still ring true for both of you, then you can decide.  Do you understand?”

You see, I wanted Tess to help her friend, by sharing the story.