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DRESSING A TIGER: A memoir ~Maggie San Miguel

Monday, October 10th, 2016

dressing-a-tigerDRESSING A TIGER is not a plain Ol’ memoir with a bit of spicing up, this is about a very interesting and sometimes disturbing life story mixed with a heavy dose of humor and a very spunky child who remembers so much.  Maggie is the youngest child in her family – much younger; her brother is 18 and her sister 16 when she arrives onto the scene.  Mom is fairly unstable and inconsistent and has almost no time for her youngest and Dad is a very busy man as the top negotiator for the Teamsters Union.  Maggie is not allowed to play in the front yard of their Connecticut home but the huge backyard with lake and below ground tree fort commands her attention.  Maggie loves to row her boat out to her private island and seize the day.

“Maggie San Miguel is a Past Life Regression Therapist, a Mediation Instructor and a Psychic Medium, appearing on the paranormal television show, STRANGE TOWN.  She has assisted law enforcement with a murder investigation in Texas.  She also makes pottery, paints and can cook a mean meatball.” (Cover)

Maggie San Miguel Facebook
Maggie San Miguel Web

The book is quite interesting and includes geishas’ in Maggie’s rowboat, and mob hit men taking a 4 year old to the dentist.  Because of their reclusive lifestyle, Maggie dotes on the “friends” of her father who come to the house to plot, drink and eat.  Jack Dahlstrom, her father, though of a Scandinavian heritage, learns to speak Italian and interact with the Italian families involved in controlling the East Coast.  His friends are folks he connected with during his time serving in World War II.  His wife a great redheaded beauty grew up in poverty and led a very tough life. When the stress levels were too high, she disappeared into alcohol and bed, including strange behaviors especially trying to kill squirrels.

“A father serving the Mob, hit men moonlighting as babysitters, an uncle in the Secret Service, famous politicians amongst family friends, a mother in need of shock therapy, and a kid who eavesdrops and remember it all. “  What a unique childhood!

“Her father’s prior knowledge of the Kennedy assassination and his unique friendships with Jack Ruby, John Connally, Henry Wade and infamous Mafia bosses Carlo Bambino, Sam Giancana and Paul Castellano is a story untold until now.” “…Dahlstrom collected an impressive array of friends and Mafia secrets that were never meant to see the light of day.  Maggie San Miguel has just opened the blinds.” (Cover)

I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and think it will make a wonderful book to share.  I highly recommend it and am grateful that Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.  sent me an advanced copy for review.

This book will be published October 26, 2016

Natchez Burning
Fixed in Blood
A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice

MY SWEET VIDALIA: A Novel ~Deborah Mantella

Monday, February 1st, 2016

With a character name like Vidalia, I knew I was reading a Southern novel and so I prepared for some fairly scary scenes and painful moments.   MY SWEET VIDALIA was the retelling of a classic Southern scenario of poverty; racism and ignorance with a few bright and optimistic characters that kept the book moving forward and offered some relief from the negative environment of the 1950s.

The writing was very good and the dialect was well captured.  I was glad that the book did not drag out into epic dimensions and Vidalia did find a redemptive quality in the end of the story to express and to prove herself to be compassionate and not so “dumb” as her background would lead you to believe.  Her capacity to grow and develop kept me reading all the way through.  Whew!  That was a relief.

I liked the story and felt the discomfort of being outside the events and not being able to cajole or persuade Vidalia to move on and let go of her trials.  How does one move someone out of such ignorance when they do not know any better?  In the beginning of the story, young Vidalia falls in love with a slimy fellow who plays on her naiveté, then marries her when she becomes pregnant and beats her growing baby out of her womb too early for survival.   Vidalia finds a way to keep her baby with her through the whole story and this “spirit child” becomes her support system.

On the cover of the book Susan Crawford, author of The Pocket Wife says
“ From its beautiful first words to its satisfying ending, MY SWEET VIDALIA is a unique, enchanting read.     Exquisite language, a cast of robust characters, and a solid and compelling plot keep readers captivated as Mantella straddles the thin line between poetry and prose, reality and either, fragility and strength.  With a deft and gentle hand, she navigates us through the travails of an impoverished young mother guided by her intrepid spirit child.”

I would place this story high up on the scale of good reads and a great weekend of escape reading, which took me back to my school days in the Deep South.  It was still a relief to leave these characters back in the 1950s and early 60s and find comfort in my more progressive environment of home.   I worked as a social worker in the South in the 70s and 80s and I am hard pressed to even think about returning for a visit.  I am sure my experiences prejudiced my reading of this story.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this well-written story for review.

From the cover:
“A transplant to the South, Deborah Mantella has lived and taught in various cities in the Northeast and the Midwest.  Now a resident of Georgia she lives outside Atlanta with her husband.  Mantella is a member of the Atlanta Writers Club, the Author’s Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators.  This is her first novel.”

Deborah Mantella Website
Deborah Mantella Facebook

The Wonder of All Things
The Mapmaker’s Children
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter
Flight Behavior

CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDENCEY: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You ~Darlene Lancer

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

“SHAME. The torment you feel when you’re exposed, humiliated, or rejected.  The feeling of not being good enough.  It’s a deeply painful, universal emotion, yet is not frequently discussed.  For some shame lurks in the unconscious, undermining self-esteem and destroying confidence, leading to codependency on others.  These codependent relationships – where we overlook our own needs and desires as we try to care for, protect, or please another – are often covering up abuse, addiction, or other harmful behaviors.  Shame and codependency feed off one another, making us feel stuck, never able to let go, move on, and become the true self we were meant to be.”  (From the book cover)

CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDENCY is a good self-help book authored by a family therapist who has years of work in this area of change and development. I liked the style of the writing, it is not preachy or overbearing expertise, rather it is carefully thought out and simply worded so that any reader could find some new knowledge and information about themselves. The demonstrating stories for the steps explored are relevant and understandable; they complete the point and observation.  The format is pleasing with some clear explanation of what might be causing recurring or “stuck” behaviors followed up with some very simple exercises that even young adults can follow and implement without years of therapy or experts.

I believe that CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDENCY could be used in adolescence classrooms as a work book with a teacher attached. Young people a could identify areas where they might be stuck and frustrated in their independence moves and have a resource to remind them when they might need some help in the future.  Shame is also about all those crazy tapes that repeat in the mind, about how foolish one is or how “ugly” they might be, and how we react to those reoccurring mind words.   I have never met a person who has not felt humiliated at some point in their life; it can be reassuring to know one is not alone and have a few tools to change the way one is thinking.

I believe many woman could benefit from owning this resource as so many get isolated at home tasks or taking care of others and may need their thinking refreshed rather than reaching for  a cupcake, glass of wine, or anti-depression medication.  A little mental exercise towards releasing old ideas and maybe deleting despair and moving forward to opening up new ideas and ways to proceed.

The book was a nice refresher course and it helped me dust off some old techniques that I learned over the years.  I was having dental surgery while reading this book, and feeling a big sense of shame over how much my teeth and jaw repair was costing.  My parents were both teachers and proud that my brother and sister had no cavities, whereas they were rather angry about how my pitted teeth dug into the family finances; I just was not taking enough responsibility for their care.  Even though I now save money for healthcare and have dental insurance, when I heard how much my recent co-pay would be all those old messages of failure came up to play a tune – I had failed to do enough! CONQUERING SHAME AND CODEPENDANCY just might be a great companion to keep on your shelf or nearby for relief.   It could be a great sleep aid for those who worry all night long – have a glass of water and do an exercise from the book and get some rest.

The eight steps:

  1. Find Your True Self
  2. Uncover Your Shame
  3. Find Your Shame’s Roots
  4. Disarm Your Shame
  5. Confront Your Shame
  6. Share Your Shame
  7. Build Your Self-Esteem
  8. Love Yourself

tlc logo  TLC Online Book Tours  and HAZELDEN Press sent me an unproofed copy for review and I am very happy to have been on this tour and enjoyed reading this book

“Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT is a licensed family therapist with over twenty years of experience working with individuals and couples.  She regularly lectures on self-esteem, codependency, and addiction.  Author of Codependency for Dummies and 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, she has also published numerous articles.“

Darlene Lancer Blog 

Little Failure
Mind Without A Home
The Isolation Door 
I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag

Fevered Pitch

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

I was sitting in the waiting room at the Doctor’s office, reading on my cell phone.  The room was packed as there was a school sports physicals clinic going on in one wing of the office.  The woman next to me coughed several times; one of those deep, throaty smokers’ coughs and then leaned over to listen to the conversation going on the other side of her.

Two mature women had driven quite a distance to come to this clinic for their healthcare and they were hoping that it was going to be a good move for them.  They both read the sign that said:  IF YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING MORE THAN 15 MINUTES PAST YOUR APPOINTMENT TIME COME AND TALK TO THE RECEPTIONIST.  Both women thought that they should be seen at the appointed time and not have to double check in. They both were quite agitated and concerned about being in such a clinic.  They were treating this morning as some kind of test and were already upset.   The woman next to me was becoming agitated and began talking to me.

Her clinic at home was not so neat and tidy, as a matter of fact it was awful but she never had to wait for more than 30 minutes.  There were lots of ethnic backgrounds represented in the waiting room and this seemed to bother this woman and make her worried.  One Doctor and the nurse with a Doctorate both came into the waiting room and spoke Spanish to several of the patients.  Vietnamese was spoken by the Lab Technician and the Tribal Interpreter was there for the sports clinic families.  The woman next to me began telling me how all these immigrants were coming to town, having babies to be citizens, and then never working but getting on welfare.  Where was all this “Obamacare” going – it was going to all the illegal people on welfare and their citizen born children, from her taxes.  She grabbed on to my arm and suggested that the clinic might not respect her as a patient.  My name was called and I went back to my appointment.

When I came back out, the woman left with me and began talking again and I waited with her by her car and I believe I settled her agitation and asked if the care at her home clinic had been adequate for her? She said yes and she was going back there to be treated better even though she did not feel well or want to see an Arab doctor again.  I shared with her that I had waited 2 hours my last visit because a new baby was entering the world and my doctor was the attending; a nurse was not available.  I reminded her that the Affordable Health Care Act did not go into effect for most adults until 2014.  She was not going to pay for any of” those” people’s health care and I said I didn’t mind paying for them and suggested she take that worry off her list.  She calmed and drove off.
I proceeded to the library to get a book on hold.  The library was not open until 11am and at 10:30 quite a line had formed, including an older woman who went on and on about immigrants who did not work and had babies who became citizens and Obama was giving away all our tax money to immigrants and she thought if he won the election she would die. She was angry that she paid taxes and the library was not open earlier.  There would be nothing left of her and her hard work and efforts.   She would kill herself if Obama was elected. She was on fire – seething with anger.

I sat down on the bench near the door and patted the seat for her to join me.  I shared with her that I too was worried about the election but that in my 60+ years I had a number of times been worried about an election and what it would mean for me, and I survived and moved forward and chose my worries with a different view.  What would her worry accomplish?  What would her death accomplish?

I asked her if she was on Medicare and Social Security. Her answer was yes.  I told her I was a child of immigrants born into US citizenship that I was born with cancer so was a pre-existing condition all of my years.  The woman showed empathy for my situation and then said, “but you are white and not on welfare!” and went on with her business as fast as she could get away.

A young librarian asked me why I was wasting my time on this woman.  I thought she was unsafe to drive she was so angry.  He told me to go watch the new Republican ad that had just come out against Obama.   I came right home and looked it up.  Yep!  There were all the “lines” these two women were spewing out.  I fact checked 11 items in the ad and the first 7 were debunked false statements.  It was also the most overtly racist ad I had seen in a long time and it was powerfully suggesting that not only were “those” people ruining the USA but that our President was a negative racist.

Who is taking responsibility for putting folks into such a fevered pitch?  Where has our humanity, respect and kindness gone?  Do you ever just feel disgusted and as though there is nothing you can do?

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this blog site I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.

Related Reading:
Agenda for A New Economy 
Women Wars