Category Archives: ethics

Steve Jobs said it


“There comes a time in life where you have to let go of all the pointless drama and the people who create it and surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus soley on the good. After all, life is too short to be anything but happy.”

What do you think of this quote?  I read it and loved it right away, but I’ve been thinking it over.  On the surface it sounds very liberating.  But I wonder about the people you leave behind.  I agree that “pointless drama” should be avoided.  If there isn’t a point to the drama, then by definition it won’t lead to a new understanding or point.    And I agree that the people creating the pointless drama are to be avoided, at least at times, if you can’t remain positive in their presence. But this should not mean we write them out of our lives.

Although this quote sounds liberating, it’s a liberty gained by retreating.  Sure, you can surround yourselves with happy-go-lucky friends who make you laugh.  I bet it would be a lot of fun.  But what about those other people in your life that are not so happy?  Do they deserve to be abandoned because they don’t make you feel good?

I don’t think life is too short to be anything but happy, if it’s at the expense of other people.  Call me a do-good-er, but I love my friends even when they’re sad or angry, depressed or confused, and I like to hang out with them even if they don’t make me feel like laughing.

I think Steve Jobs is expressing a selfish attitude.  You’re number one and only things that make you happy are worth doing?  Right?  I don’t believe that.  I think relationships are sometimes very difficult, and when we’re in those relationships it sometimes becomes dramatic.  Sometimes it feel pointless.  So what?  Do you think it’s better to tear families and friendships apart because you just want to feel happy all the time?  Are you entitled to a life of pure happiness?

To me this is a selfish attitude, and frankly, one that is juvenile.  I hope we all have deeper relationships with people than what’s implied in that quote, that we care enough about others to stay with them through rough times, when they might be stuck and trying to work something out.  Don’t give up on them because they don’t bring a smile to your lips whenever you’re together.

You’d want a friend to do the same for you.



In 2011, Grandparents Day fell on September 11th


If your grandchildren didn’t acknowledge you on that day, it’s probably because other things of greater importance were happening, like the commemoration of the events that occurred ten years ago.

However, if you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren, remember that they are growing up faster than you are growing old, and enjoy every moment that you can with them.  You’ll live on in their memories long after your body is used up.  Make the memories significant.  Give them the best of who you are.  It’s really the only legacy worth leaving.

Homosexuality and the Bible


Ever thought about how relevant the writings of past times are to today’s world?  I read and re-read Jane Austen, and though society has changed a lot in 200 years, her humor, her irony, her insights, are still just right for today.

However, there are books that are full of rules for regulating society, and they lose their power when times change.  For instance, a book on etiquette that insists that men doff their hats to a woman has nothing to tell the modern man who either eschews hats or has a cap permanently pulled down on his head.

This piece points out that following the letter of a very old law makes no sense and does, in fact, lead to cruel and horrible practices that have been outlawed for centuries.  But don’t worry, you’ll have a good laugh if you read this.

Homosexuality and the Bible. Read the rest of this entry

“God instructs the heart, not by ideas, but by pains and contradictions.” –De Caussade


I first encountered these words when reading Sallinger’s Franny and Zooey.  I discovered them again while re-reading old diaries. This quote comes to mind from time to time, especially when I’m confused and in pain, of course.  Whether or not you want to leave “God” in the sentence doesn’t really matter.  It could easily read, “We learn the important things, the deepest things, about ourselves and about life, not through our reasoning powers, but through the anguish we feel when we realize we hold two opposing opinions or feel one thing but believe another, opposite thing.”  We could say it like that, but it wouldn’t be as powerful.

It’s the emotional impact of feeling so very strongly about one thing and its opposite.  For example, you might believe in peace and non-violence and still feel justified in punching an “enemy.”  This is just one example of how a belief and a feeling can collide.  What do you do?  It’s at these moments that we learn about ourselves and our world view.

Have you ever found yourself trying to harmonize two very different aspects  of yourself and feeling like, “Pow! Slam! Impossible! This doesn’t work!”

What do you think?

Old Diaries


I called a friend I hadn’t seen in years, no, in decades.  I saw her on Facebook and discovered she lived nearby. We had been so close once, and then, just like that, she was gone.

She was happy to hear from me and recalled happy times we had spent together.  She also recalled why our friendship had ended so abruptly and bitterly.  I thought I knew, too.  I had been less than a good friend.  I didn’t have time for her, so she found other, better friends. I was wrong.  She said I had tried to influence her to make a decision that I thought was right, when she had already decided on a different course.  It was my disrespect, not my neglect, that had soured our friendship, she told me.  I had no memory of this.  So I looked for an old diary, written 35 years ago, and it was all there,  in my neat handwriting, in blue ink on yellowing pages.

Memory is unreliable.  We might forget the things that hurt us.  At other times we remember events as being much worse than they were.  In this case, perhaps I didn’t want to remember what I had said and done, so I erased the scenario from my mind.  I kept a written record, though.  And she was right.

Because of keeping a diary I know more about who I was back then, and can track how I’ve changed.  Perhaps by re-reading my old diaries I can become kinder and gentler in my judgments of others, as well.  The path I took to reach who I am today was crooked and rough.

I tried on many philosophies before I found one that fits.  How about you?  Do you keep a diary or journal?  How has it helped you?

My First Ever Interview


Okay, it wasn’t the New York Times, but here on Mayne Island and interview in the MayneLiner Magazine is a very big deal.  The editor, Bill Maylone, asked me if he could talk to me about my creative process when writing my Magda series of books with the intention of publishing the interview in the July MayneLiner.  I agreed, but with trepidation because I had no idea what he would ask me or what I would say.  I really had never thought about how I wrote; I just wrote.  The interview revealed to me a few things about my creative process, and these were that my own experiences have a great influence on what I write about and that my professional background in teaching and counselling influences how I approach my characters.

Bill Maylone was able to engage me in conversation about long-ago decisions and experiences that I was only vaguely aware of.  I was quite surprised when I read the article for approval, that he had focused on parts of my life I had mentioned in passing but when examined I realized were influential in creating my mystery stories of Magda and her friends on Mayne Island, their adventures, their friendships, their goals, their inner struggles, and their values.

If you would like to read the complete interview, it’s in the July issue of the MayneLiner Magazine.

Love Letters


He loved her, was engaged to her, in fact, but he lost her love.  Why?  Because she listened to lies about him and believed them.  That’s part of the plot for the latest Magda Series book I’m writing.

Writing love letters from a man to a woman is a new challenge.  I spend part of each morning composing them.  This is serious stuff.  This man (I’m calling him Paul for now) will be changed by what happens.  His attitude toward life will become duller, harsher, greyer. I have to get it just right.  So first I have to express the joy he feels, his affection for his beloved, his hopes for their future.  Then I describe his confusion, and anger.  Then, of course, I need to show his resignation to the truth of his situation.  Will he still hope?  I wonder.

People ask me how I write my mystery series for young readers.  It usually starts with a situation, a conflict or a challenge, that involves a character or characters.  How do characters face events?  What do they feel?  What do they do?  Can they resolve the problem and find some satisfaction?  It’s about being true to the characters and finding the path they would take to a resolution.

Because the setting for my books is Mayne Island, I like to show the beauty of the island and some of its unique characteristics.  I’ve been told that Mayne Island is like a character in itself.

So now I’m going to write another love letter, from a man who is losing the woman he loved and the future he had imagined they would have together.  How will this work out?  We’ll see.