The Solar Panel of Happiness – Mothers Day Part 2

DSC_8288Today is the day before the official Mothers Day day. Yesterday, I told you about the gift from my son, Eric. Today, I want to tell you about the gift from my firstborn, Alex.

Alex is a lover of the arts. More importantly, he is a champion of the artist. He is a talent manager who owns The Green Room Talent Management Agency. He spends his days searching for the perfect roles for his clients, making sure they are heard, and planning their futures with care in a business that can be impersonal and lonely.

Because I make my living in a creative profession, and because I have had many agents but none who went on a limb for me, I am in awe of this man I call my son. He not only recognizes a talented actor, he is a loyal and tireless advocate.

Alex is also incredibly fit and visits home always include an invitation to go on a walk. Last week, our walk was actually a seven-mile hike from our home to Terannea Resort on the cliffs of Palos Verdes. I usually love this mom time with him, but three miles in I was not a happy camper.

Me:   How much further?

Alex: You can rest. I’ll do some pushups while I wait.

Me:   No. I guess it’s okay. I was just wondering how much further.

Alex: Do you need to go to the bathroom?

Me:   No, but. . .

Alex: Okay, then. Long strides, mom. Did I tell you. . .

Whatever he told me got lost in my growing resentment of this forced march – and that was a shame. To our right was the ocean, blue as a sapphire; the sky above us was robin’s egg. Scarlet and magenta Bougainvillea climbed over every fence was passed. Roses as big as a babies face pocked their bushes. We passed other walkers, bikers sailed by and I kept grumbling and huffing and puffing. Alex laughed and he smiled and that turned my gloomy cloud of annoyance a dark, foreboding gray.

Me:   Why are you always like this? Why doesn’t anything bother you?

Alex: Because I have a happiness reserve.

Me:   You have what?

Alex: You know how a solar panel catches the sun and stores the energy? I store up stuff that makes me happy. When I need it, I’ve got it.

Me:   Like what?

Alex: Like you’re being a pain complaining instead of thinking how neat it is that I like to come home and take a walk with you. So instead of getting upset that you’re upset, I pull up something that makes happy: Tucker (his awesome dog), a tree or flowers (he’s an avid gardener), the way it feels when I’m kayaking, the booking I got for one of my clients. It’s like a solar panel of happiness. Nobody can drain that kind of energy. You’ve just got to remember to store it.

I paused to look at him – not because I was tired but because I was struck by his simple, profound life philosophy. I couldn’t imagine how he had come by it, but I was impressed that he lived by it. It was this quality – this principled belief that life is worth living well with all its ups and downs – that made him so unique. I was humbled and grateful that the stork had dropped this amazing human being into my lap. I had spent many years nurturing him, showing him things I thought were right and explaining why other things were wrong. Now the tables were turned. He was pushing me to be better: walk another mile, open your eyes to the beauty around you, change what you can, treat the world and the folks in it well, and always appreciate being alive.

For Mothers Day Alex started the construction on my solar panel of happiness. I will forever keep the memory of that walk in the sunshine in my reserves. It will never loose its brightness nor it’s ability to energize me. I will always be in awe of my beautiful baby who grew up to be an excellent man in every sense of the word.

Thank you for a wonderful mothers day, Alex. Nobody is loved more than you.

PS Thank goodness dad was around to drive us home. Seven miles is my limit. That’s not a complaint, just a fact.


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My son Eric

It is Mothers Day weekend. As with the last 31 holidays since I became a mom, I have reveled in this holiday. I celebrate my own mother (more on that Sunday) and happily accept whatever accolades, surprises, and gifts my kids feel like sending my way. Usually this involves eating at a food court and seeing a guy-movie since I am a boy-mom and that’s what boys give their mothers.

This morning, I left the house to take a walk before I went to work. It was 5:30 in the a.m. and the sky was still sleepy-gray as I plugged my earphones into my phone and called up my podcasts. The first podcast on the playlist was a mother’s day gift from my youngest son, Eric.

Like me, he is a writer; unlike me he is an edgy, out-of-the-box writer. He is also the writer, produce, and brains behind the fiction/music podcast Howl Out Loud. Science fiction, fantasy and magical realism are his thing, pushing the envelope is what he does and he was in his element with his Mothers Day podcast, The Brood Queen. Continue Reading →


images-5This month was a big birthday for my husband. I won’t say which one, but he’s getting a lot of letters marked ‘important Medicare information enclosed’, notices about the joys of a reverse mortgage, and brochures for burial-at-sea, and

Instead of a party to celebrate this rite of passage, he asked for something special: he wanted me to be the guy in our relationship. Don’t get your hopes up; this was a practical request not prurient. He just wanted to relax and not have a care in the world.

“I want to go away, just the two of us,” he said.

“No problemo,” I answered.

“You have to make all the arrangements,” he warned.

“You got it,” I promised.

“You have to pay for it.”

“Sure. Why not?” I agreed.

“I don’t want to lift a finger – for a week.”

“You are in good hands,” I assured him. Continue Reading →

5 Things I Learned during Mentoring Month


January was the mentoring month and  over the last four weeks Rebecca and I have been working with Rebecca on my first novel, The Witches of New Moon Beach.  She has been incredibly creative, using many different strategies to teach me her craft. I think that this project has actually required far more time than she ever thought it would, and writing a book is far more work than I thought it would be.  I know how lucky I am to have her stick with me through this process. I get frustrated easily and expect perfection from myself far too often. Still, all is not lost.  I have learned a lot in the last few weeks and here are the five most important lessons.

1) Rewriting – a lot of rewriting – is part of the process not a punishment. Often, when I thought I was done, I was really  still at the starting line. I had to learn to be more patient and to embrace the fact that a book is not written overnight.

2) My  characters started living in my head. They travel with me everywhere. I see an outfit in a store and wonder how my character would look wearing it; I see a car and imagine her driving it.  That is kind of freaky, but it is definitely fun.

3) I found out that keeping track of a word count defeats creativity.

4) Sometimes I just had to walk away, rethink, and then re-imagine where I wanted my story to go. That downtime is just as important as the time I spend typing.

5) I learned that my mentor – and probably yours –  has  clear vision. They see things you don’t. As new writers we all need someone who can identify both our strengths and weakness.

Really, the most valuable lesson I learned is that I need to stop dreaming and really think about what kind of book I want to write. My mentor may be my friend (and in this case my sister-in-law) but she can’t and shouldn’t write my book for me.

My book isn’t finished, but it will be. The one thing I’ll never do is give up. One of these days I hope you’ll be looking inside a book called The Witches of New Moon Beach.

Thanks for the encouragement sent my way. Maybe one of these days, I’ll be mentoring a new writer of my own.

Happy writing,

Meriam Wilhelm.




The Magic of Mentoring: 3 weeks, 10 lessons

  • Iimages-2 hardly saw Meriam this last week, but it’s only because she’s been so busy. Here’s an update on her progress as an author and a report on my walk down memory lane. First, let’s look at what Meriam has accomplished:
  • 1) Revised dialogue making it less formal/creating distinctive voices.
  • 2) Completely revamped one main character and deleted another (the latter is being saved for another book).
  • 3) Rethought/reworked at least one full chapter in the book (many writers – including me – can’t bring themselves to delete or minimize large sections of their work. Kudos, Meriam.)
  • 4) Knocked chapter endings making them both compelling and strategic
  • 5) Policed herself on show/don’t tell

At 25,000 words and counting, this is a milestone draft for Meriam. A document that read like a character sketch of The Witches of New Moon Beach is now taking on the form and substance of a book. Continue Reading →