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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 →

The Mentoring Maze #2: Meriam’s Turn

images-1My name is Meriam Wilhelm. Two years ago I retired after 35 years in education. Finding myself with more time than I knew what to do with and feeling a bit lost, I consulted my bucket list of Things To Do Once I Retire. And there it was – #1 on my list – Write A Book.

After sharing parenting advice for so many years as a school principal, I sat down and wrote a four nonfiction books for parents of grammar school age children. I am proud of my books, especially my recently revised edition of Bully Maze: Finding A Way Out. As happy as I was with each of those books, I understood that writing about what I knew was comfortable and came rather naturally. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone.  I decided to write a novel, and that’s when my real education about writing began. Continue Reading →

The Mentor Maze: 4 weeks, 2 authors, 1 book

images-2According to Costco Magazine, January is Mentoring Month.

I’m not sure it’s necessary to have an official month since most adults already mentor someone – parents to children, teachers to students, managers to staff – but this January that news meant something to me. I had just become a mentor to a newbie author.

This wasn’t my first time. Thirty years ago I mentored a woman  who had a wonderful story to tell. For three months I labored over her work giving it as much (if not more) attention as my own. One day she informed me that writing was too much work. I was bewildered. Of course writing is a lot of work. Continue Reading →


UnknownChristmas is almost packed away, tonight is New Years Eve, tomorrow  is 2016. I wasn’t going to write a blog. I mean, really. Who needs to hear about my resolutions (there aren’t any) or the things I’m happy to leave behind from 2015 (too few to mention), or how my husband and I will get all wild and crazy celebrating the holiday (dinner at six, asleep by 10:30)?

I changed my mind when I saw the message below. It came from a dear friend, the woman who wrote me my first fan letter over 25 years ago. I don’t know who wrote this piece. If I did I would happily give credit where it is due because this is the kind of thinking that gives me hope and attainable direction. It is written with words that make me smile. Whoever the author is, thank you. Your optimism is catching and this message cries out to be shared. So here it is, words from an unknown author, noticed by a friend, who sent them to me, so that I could send it to you. I couldn’t have said  this better.


The Boarding on Flight 2016 has been announced. Hope you have checked in only the best souvenirs from 2015 in your luggage. The BAD and SAD moments if carried, must be thrown away in the garbage on arrival.  The flight will be for 12 months long. So, loosen your seat belts, jingle and mingle.

Continue Reading →

5 Essential Things to Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner

turkey-hidingIt’s that time again. Time to be thankful. Time to reflect. Time to fight over the drumstick. It’s also the time when we ask our Thanksgiving host or hostess:

“What can I bring?”

You know what’s on the list: salad, rolls, maybe a pie or two. But here are 5 essential things you should take with you that your hostess may not ask for.

1)Yourself. Seriously leave the entourage at home. Your boss, your kid’s teacher, your ex, and the guy who sideswiped your car last week have their own turkey dinners to gobble up. If they want to drag you along to their party let ’em, but take a tip from the turkey and stuff your baggage.

2) A camera. Do not bring a phone, a tablet, a computer or any multi-tasking electronic thing. Bring an old fashioned camera, point it at people and remember why you are taking their picture. Hint: it is because you love them and want to remember them. Make them smile, catch them in a kiss, or capture the cook in the kitchen. Upload. Share. Feel good. You might even want to frame a real, honest-to-goodness print.

3) A covered dish. Who can resist a covered dish? The first thing people do is lift the top to see what’s inside. Your dish doesn’t have to be filled with food. Put something fun inside: wax lips from the party store, crayons and paper, candy, or cards.

4) Curiosity. Don’t just nod to those friends and relatives you see once a year before making a beeline for the couch. Ask everyone at least one question. You’ll be amazed how interested they will be in you when they know that you are interested in them. Caution: trying this on teenagers can be tough but hang in there. They speak eventually.

5) Gratitude. Don’t  serve it up like lumpy gravy, just take a second and acknowledge your good fortune. Come on, there will be at least one thing to be grateful for and you’ll probably think of a baker’s dozen once you get started. I venture to say that someone around the table might just be putting you on their gratitude list too – especially if you take a nice picture of them.

Have an awesome Thanksgiving and let me know what you decide to put in that covered dish.