Friday, April 27, 2012

Good Ideas

            The post it-notes finally tipped the scale. They were everywhere—cluttering up my nightstand, coffee table, kitchen counter, dining room table, closet door, desk.
They had been such a good idea. I had noticed I was having trouble remembering all the stuff my brain manufactured: Books to read, movies to watch, blog ideas, shopping list, writing notes, sites to visit, friends to call, and the endless ToDo list. Everything I read, saw, or heard triggered an idea I wanted to keep. And I couldn’t hold it all in my mind, not with all the other distractions. (I suspect my aging brain was not helping matters, but we aren’t going there.) I knew I had to do something and so began the process of mucking about in my head to come up with a workable solution. And then I thought of post-it notes. What a good idea!
Costco sells them by the bunch and in lovely pastel shades. I bought them in all sizes and colors and placed them strategically about the house. And now, months later, I was knee-deep in pretty little scraps of sticky paper. I had a whole stack I couldn’t decipher. What on earth was I thinking when I wrote “mag—coda?” Or what about “X O language?” “fruit--mistake?”
I thought (segue-like) about the horse problem in New York City back in the olden days. That had been a good idea. People needed to get around and horses seemed like a good solution to that problem. Didn’t take long until everyone was knee deep in –you know what. And then they built the automobile. Good idea! Only now we’re nose deep in pollution. It seems that answers to problems just create more problems. What’s next?
But back to the post-its. This morning I thought about a notebook. Writers love notebooks.  No more sticky papers getting misplaced. No more random ideas floating about the rooms in my house. No more undecipherable messages. I’d have a whole page for an idea. I could get a nice fat one with a spiral binding and take it with me everywhere. Or maybe a composition book, those cheap notebooks with the mottled cardboard cover.  A Moleskin. How about a hand-made one. The possibilities are endless. And I’d have everything in one place. Good idea! I wonder if Costco…

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Suicide. The word can hardly be spoken, it’s beyond our understanding and the numbers are staggering. This year, in this country, there will be more suicides than murders, one every 14 minutes around the clock. There will be more than a million suicide attempts. It is the second leading cause of death among college students and those between 24 and 34 years of age.
For every U.S. soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans will commit suicide. About 6,500 veteran suicides are reported every year--more than the total number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. (The Week, April 27, 2012)
For those left behind, it is devastating for they feel not only their grief, but also guilt and abandonment. This became very real for my family twenty-three years ago when my son Bill took his life. My grief was brutal, rock-hard, stripped of all but the raw reality of death. It has taken many years, but I’ve finally completed a book about it and that book is now available. So far, the people who have read it have reported amazing transformational results in their lives. It is my hope that the book will bring comfort to those who read it. 
          SUICIDE: LIVING WITH THE QUESTION is a personal journey of healing and recovery. It shows how one family struggled to survive the agony and shock of a loved one’s suicide. Although it cannot answer the question of “why,” it can offer comfort as it asks other questions that open the possibility of looking at suicide in new ways. This book can offer solace to the many who are affected by suicide: Parents, siblings, spouses, children, friends, co-workers. For each individual left behind, the suicide is devastating. And the attitudes and lack of understanding in society add salt to the wound. SUICIDE: LIVING WITH THE QUESTION offers hope to others, a small ray of light to penetrate the dark shroud that covers the subject of suicide. 
       SUICIDE: LIVING WITH THE QUESTION is now available on Kindle on The print copy will be ready very soon and you can order it now. Here is a review of the book:
There may be no answers to the question and....., April 13, 2012

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Suicide: Living With the Question (Paperback)
What a wonderful, heartfelt and well written account of a mother's questions after the suicide of one of her sons. There may be no direct answers as it is such an individual and personal family tragedy, but the insights Ms. Maxwell shares about herself and their family are at the center of this book. Not just for families or individuals that have experienced suicide, this book is for anyone interested in family dynamics and the course we each choose to take. A very easy read about a difficult subject.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Loons

            I was in Maine one September, visiting my son Doug who was on location working on a movie. He had rented a cottage on a pond (that’s Maine talk for a lake) and asked me to visit. “You’ll love it, Mom,” he said. He was right. I did.
            I had lived on the shore of a lake while growing up and although I’d envied my city friends being able to visit each other whenever they wished, the quiet of the country was right for me. There were three Lombardy Poplars at the edge of our property that my father called “the old maids.” I’d lie out on a summer night and listen to them whisper to one another, secrets I would never fathom.
            Growing up, the bedroom I shared with my sister had a dormer window that looked out over the lake. My father had built a window seat there and my mother had made a pretty cushion for it. I spent hours reading and dreaming there.
            One summer night, I woke and went to sit in the alcove. The moon over the lake was full and cut a shining path across the dancing waves. I stared in wonder. And then I saw them, a pair of loons swimming across that silver band of water, their sad call cutting through the night air. I felt a chill rise in my back. This was a scene I would never forget and I knew it. I sat quietly for a long time to honor the moment and the loons. This is my life, the movie I’m working on.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Visiting Paris

            It was my first trip to Europe. I was badly in need of some kind of reward. I’d just left my marriage and now was alone, needing to find a way to support myself. I’d spent twenty-five years raising four children who had surprisingly turned out to be wonderful adults. I’d managed a household, cooked and cleaned, successfully moved this family all over the country, creating community everywhere we went. I had no complaints, for I had loved that job, but there was no place for those skills on a résumé. So I was poor and scared.
            I had received a settlement from an insurance claim, enough to make a trip to Europe if I went courier. I knew about that system as I had friends who used it when they went to auditions in New York. It paid for my crossing and my only cost was my return ticket home.
            I stopped first in London, as that was where the computer parts I was couriering were expected. I stayed at The Dolphin for four days. This was a combination B&B, hotel, and apartments. There was even a green grocer’s. I had a large room with the bath and toilet down the hall. Had a marvelous time and even bumped into a neighbor at the Seamen’s Chapel. Small world.
I then visited my father’s cousin Beata in Lillehammer, Norway and let her feed my five times a day. After four days and ten pounds, I flew to Germany to visit Helga. This was an ex-Lutheran nun who had come to the States to get her Masters Degree in social work. We had met and I invited her to our home for holidays and Sundays. We played duets, she on the recorder, me on the piano. In Munich she filled her tiny apartment with her friends to entertain me. Then we went to Ulm for the weekend and climbed the church tower, the highest in the country (I was younger then). Then visited her brother, the Head Master at a school in a monastery that was built in the 1400s. We stayed in a little town in an inn. There had been a wedding and we were invited as guests. The following morning, I was awakened early by loud “moos” as cows exited the barn beneath us.
And then I went to Paris. City of love. I stayed in a tiny hotel in the Left Bank, in a room in the attic. The ceiling sloped to the floor. My first evening, I asked the owner where I should eat. He was delighted and told me of his favorite restaurant only a few blocks away. I went. The maitré de hotel was polite and seated me near the door. I told him to serve me whatever was the best, and he did.
The following evening after a marvelous day of sight seeing, I went again to the restaurant. This time I was seated closer to the fireplace. Same maitré de, same routine.
I did it again on the third evening and was seated beside the fireplace.
On the fourth evening, I decided to go one last time. On my way, I passed a flower stall. Primroses, in tiny pots, were blooming. I bought eight pretty plants, one for each table. I arrived at the restaurant, my arms filled with blossoms. The maitré de opened the door and gasped. “Oh, but Madam, I am married!”
City of love, indeed!

We’ve taken my book Suicide: Living With the Question out of production. I apologize to those of you who have already purchased the unedited copy (mia culpa). As soon as the corrected version is ready, I’ll let you know. As Winnie-the-Pooh says, “This writing business. Pencils and whatnot. Overrated if you ask me.”