My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Learning, as usual, from the CBC

Sitting in my kitchen with tears rolling down my cheeks – listening to Michael Enright’s “The Sunday Edition” on CBC, an interview with Sonali Deraniyagala, author of the book “Wave.” Sonali was on vacation with her parents, her husband and their two sons in Indonesia when the tsunami struck. They all were swept away; she was the only survivor.

Four years later, she finally went back to the family home. An excerpt was read on air, describing her at first as a “howling heap on the floor;” that she could not touch her sons’ red schoolbags hanging on the door, “each one a scalpel.”

Now she has written a book about her unimaginable loss. She told Michael that at first she wanted to put the memory of her family away; that the breakthrough was to bring them back in memory.

Trying to remember is a much better quality of agony than trying to forget, she said. The key to my recovery was allowing in memory, allowing in memories and details of them as much as I could. The writing has been my way of bringing them close. Writing has been my survival. 


That is what I teach. Reach into the past and bring it into the light and make sense of it with words. I will be ordering this book from the library, and expect puffy eyes for some time.

I also heard the heroic David Suzuki on CBC last week, speaking in Calgary, fascinating and moving – about the world’s crazy push for economic growth. He reminded us how much the world has changed in the last hundred years, that now the vast majority of us live in big cities, “a world in which nature is not an obvious part.”

Why has the economy, he said, been elevated above everything else, above the very things that keep us alive? We never ask – what is an economy FOR? We’re told that the economy needs us to buy things. George Bush, right after 9/11, urged Americans to shop. 97% of modern American teenaged girls, apparently, say that their main hobby is shopping.

What about the state of the biosphere? cried Cassandra Suzuki. The laws of physics dictate the limits of what we can do. We can’t change the laws of nature. We need air. We use the air as if it’s free and we dump toxic chemicals into it. We use water as a toxic dump, and soil too. Those are our most fundamental needs. But we put the economy and government desire for economic growth first. 

We have to build a new society to protect these things. We have to change the way we live. Don’t expect governments to change until you do. 


Hooray for CBC radio, battered but so very much alive.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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