A Year of Writing – and Publishing!

Hello Everyone!

As dawn crept in on my 40th year, I shivered with excitement – and trepidation, and oddly, a feeling of peace.

I’d already created a card from a photo of mine, so I could send my sincerest gratitude to so many people I love and hold dear. In this age of Internet, living as far away as Japan still feels, well … far, but I’m also able to stay connected in so many ways that fill my heart.

Less than two months after my birthday, I heard from Prolific Press that they were interested in publishing my travel-based poems that became my very first published collection, “Formation: Along the Ganges and Back Again.” I was flummoxed, elated, terrified, bedazzled, and mostly, filled with wonder.

Over the coming months, as I hunkered down daily to work on a new novel I’d started, Prolific Press and I selected, revised, formatted, compiled some more, and eventually, came up with the title and beautiful cover image for the book!

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As this was going on, the words and the poems continued to flow, and by the happiest of serendipitous encounters, I discovered Women’s Spiritual Poetry, a beautiful blog and project that serves as a platform for women’s poetry from all over the world. I submitted my first poem there, and had such a warm, lovely experience that I haven’t looked back! Catherine Ghosh, WSP’s courageous, generous, brilliant and gifted leader, provides such a warm and protective space for her writers, that becoming part of this community has been a truly remarkable gift – yet another in my 40th year!

They say 40 is magical, powerful, special, and I believe this to be true.

A few months ago, Catherine invited us women to become part of a collaborative effort: her second anthology of poetry consisting if poems coming from the blog. I leaped at the chance! I ended up getting involved in the selection process, have five poems included in the book, and I also did a little bit of proofreading, and wrote an introduction for one of the chapters: Voicing Soul Secrets.

There was actually another little serendipity involved here. I live in Japan, as you know, so much of the work that goes on in my co-writers/poets’ lives happens while I’m in the throes of dreamland. I’d noticed late at night (for me), before going to bed, that 13 writers would be needed for chapter introductions. My eye fell immediately to Soul Secrets, but I didn’t want to be pushy – I was fairly new to the group, and didn’t want to overstep, and I for sure didn’t want to take some work that another poetess was dreaming of doing! I told myself that if it was still available in the morning, I’d offer to write it.

When I woke up … it was the only one left!

Being intimately involved in the production process of this book was a privilege and a huge learning experience. I got to watch as one of our poetesses, Shailie Dubois, offered a painting she’d done that was so stunning it ended up on the cover of the book – she also did another for the back cover, and did one of the book’s two trailers (Catherine, a masterful video creator), did the other).

And now, just after my 41st birthday, I am gifted again … with the release of the book! On the day of its release, our new poetry book “Where Journeys Meet: The Voice of Women’s Poetry” made it to the #1 spot on Amazon’s Bestselling New Releases in Poetry by Women *and* to the #2 spot in Bestselling Poetry by Women (in general) right next to MARY OLIVER, one of my heroines!

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What a year, and bookended (!), no less, by two books. For a human like me, who has been dreaming and breathing words her whole life, this is a moment I want to fully dive into with my full appreciation and gratitude.

The work never stops, the words continue to flow, emotions run in every which way … but for now, we are here, and there is a lot of celebrating to do.

Thank YOU for being here to celebrate with me. May we share words and hearts for a long time to come!

Tammy xo

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10 Movies to Remind us that Life is Good this Thanksgiving.

 

 

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

It’s Thanksgiving. It’s cold, and only getting colder, at least where I am.

I can’t think of a situation where I’ve ever had to be forced to watch a movie, but this is a particularly fun time of year to take to the couch (ideally in good-ish posture), wrap myself up in a blanket, sip ginger tea and watch movie (after movie) to my heart’s content.

Sometimes there’s nothing like a great film to give you a window into the stories of others, and the visionary minds that bring them to life. For that I am thankful!

Here are just a very few movies that directly or indirectly take us on a gratitude journey, that you might enjoy watching this Thanksgiving season. Enjoy!

(P.S. This list is far from comprehensive. There are so, so many films from all over the world that are not represented here—I’d need dozens more Thanksgivings to scratch the surface—and I’d love to hear your ideas!)

 

1. The Wizard of Oz (1939, Victor Fleming)

This movie hardly needs an introduction. A girl with a heart of voice of gold venture to new and wondrous lands, experiences a whole lot, and realizes that “There’s No Place Like Home.” I’m not making light of this storyline. This is far and away my favourite film, and I feel that Dorothy’s enormous gratitude for her life and ragtag family back home is only amplified by her gratitude over having met with such incredible adventures on the other side of the rainbow. We can be grateful for here, there and everywhere!

2. Pay it Forward (2000, Mimi Leder)

As the “pay it forward” movement and gift economy culture gain momentum, it’s worth taking a look at this beautiful little film about a boy (The Sixth Sense’s Haley Joel Osment) who, for a school assignment given by a somewhat taciturn teacher, (Kevin Spacey), does what he can to make a better world. It’s hard not to be very moved by this film.

3. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006, Gabriele Mucchino)

Based on the real-life story of Chris Gardner’s one-year struggle with homelessness, this film stars Will Smith and his son Jaden, as they navigate their way through hardship in this incredibly uplifting and inspiring film. Gratitude as an M.O. for good living is firing on all cylinders here.

4. C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005, Jean-Marc Vallee)
It’s kooky, it’s set in 1970’s French Canada and it’s stunning and perfect in every way. A teenager is coming of age in a climate not entirely suited to his extravagant imagination and sensibilities, but his aspirations for happiness, acceptance and for the flourishing of all that is grand in life will leave you breathless. And…great tunes here!

 5. Dancer in the Dark (2000, Lars von Trier)

This might sound like a strange choice for a Thanksgiving films, since tragedy oozes out of every pore of this collaboration between the very unique-minded Lars von Trier and none other than Bjork. Rarely, however, have I experienced such exquisite grace in a female lead performance, or felt as acutely as I do here that the human spirit has an edge over any obstacles that dare to stand in the way of magic and positivity.

6. My Neighbor Totoro (1988, Hayao Miyazaki)

I’d have to recommend any film by this genius filmmaker, who officially announced his retirement from feature filmmaking this year (cue tears over here). My Neighbor Totoro delights in its sheer simplicity: two girls move to the countryside, and encounter some of the forest’s delightful spirits. This movie leads by example, telling us to slow down, enjoy the moment, and let the magic and awe in.

7. Like Father, Like Son (2013, Hirokazu Koreeda)

Koreeda has such a gift for lyrical storytelling. Two couples’ babies were switched at birth in hospital, and six years later, they are informed of the accident. What to do? The director uses this very painful situation as an opportunity to explore the infinite nuances of love, what it means to be a parent, to be connected to someone through blood or shared experiences…and it will wrench at your heart as it moves to its redemptive conclusion. Pure heart.

8. Boyhood (2014, Richard Linklater)

One of the best films of the year. Linklater paints a cinematic portrait of a childhood, using the same actors over a 12 year period to stunning and powerful effect. We can be very grateful here for the sheer ingenuity of a director who had the vision to present a movie of this kind, where we can glimpse into the growth, change, transition and the ephemeral nature of life through the medium of the moving image.

9. Love Story (1970, Arthur Hiller)

Classic tear jerker teaching us that love knows no bounds. Enough said.

10. Edward Scissorhands (1990, Tim Burton)

Another classic, where the lucky viewer gets to watch Johnny Deep do his glorious thing, and spend a couple of hours rejoicing in all that is special and different in this world, through the eyes of Tim Burton’s mad genius. The celebration of diversity has never been this poignant or mesmerizing.

 

For elephant journal published version, and video clips, see here! And I’d love to hear more suggestions!