Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Held Hands with Judy Blume!!!!!

There aren't many people I would drive through two hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic to see, but when my sister suggested I meet her at the main branch of the New York City Public Library on 42nd Street and 5th avenue to see Judy Blume and Eric Carle for a special reading and panel discussion celebrating the NYPL's first ever list of 100 great children's books of the past 100 years, of course I said YES!

(And yes, my grandmother's A Wrinkle in Time is on that list . . .)

And . . . I was late. (Because of said traffic.) But what a treat! The woman is 75 years old and looks thirty years younger. Every fiber of her being is attentive and completely engaged. She talked about the joys of revising - yet another reason why I love this woman! (Not just for Are you there God, It's Me, Margaret, Deenie, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great and the mind-blowing FOREVER.) She read a snippet from Double Fudge and every word was GOLD. She had us in the palm of her hands!

Leonard Marcus as the moderator was fabulous as usual. Eric Carle was adorable, and read his brand new book called Friends, but Judy was a childhood idol. Judy wrote for ME. She understood - she knew what it was like - she could read minds!

And I never got to meet her, to hold both of her hands and tell her what a difference she made in my life.

Until this morning. (She kept holding onto my hand as she high-fived the elementary school kids who were in the audience. So gracious!) I did not not ask for a photo or an autograph -

The hand-holding was more than enough!

Afterwards, my sister and I were treated to a private tour of the NYPL's acclaimed exhibition The ABC of it: Why Children's Books Matter which I urge you all to RUN to. It was also curated by Leonard, and he and the librarians and the conceptual artists did an amazing job. (Yes, A Wrinkle in Time is included, in the Banned Books section.) Look! There's the car from the Phantom Tollbooth! And the Wild Thing! And the Secret Garden! And, and, and . . . Just GO! You won't regret it. Tell them I sent you!

PS Whose hands would you like to hold?


Monday, September 16, 2013

Italians, Arches and Getting Older

I may not be a Delicate Arch, but I am forming over time.

We pull up to the Moab Valley Inn and there's a group of about twenty Harley Davisdson's in front.  We have already been dazzled by our drive through the Rockies and then winding around the Colorado River on 128. I am still feeling that sense of surreality I felt over seventeen years ago when I first landed here, in Moab, Utah, so the motorcycles fit right in with my out of body experience.

In my '20's and '30's, I thought that time was linear, but more and more now I am realizing that it's not: time is fluid - I am every age I have ever been. The good news is that the bull*&^* is what's eroding, leaving room for my authentic self.

I pass the riders on my way to check in and have to stop myself from gaping - they are all in their 60's and 70's, the sounds from their mouths sounding like bubbles from a stream: Italians.

My past, present and future are commingling - yes, being an elderly Italian tourist on a motorbike is in my future. Why not?

Yet I have no time or wherewithal to stop and make friends, to practice my rusty Italian - I am on a mission - to get my family of five settled so that we can blaze trails up and through the red rocks of Arches National Park.

The last time I was in Moab, the kids were barely a twinkle in my eye and I still had a lot of growing up to do. Now I am 45 and I have an 8, 11, and 13 year old. They have never been to Moab. I haven't been back either, and if you've read my book Edges, you can feel my love for the area - setting as character.

Back to the car and the motorcycles are gone, and we are off to the trail head for the 1.5 mile hike to Delicate Arch. It is 5pm, and although there is no direct sunlight making the 90 degree weather bearable, the light on the rocks turn them into the color of bright watermelon.

We have company on our journey, and the voices we hear are not just American: they are Hebrew, German, mostly French . . . Italian! The hiker's ages range from twenty to seventy, in various shapes and sizes.  Scarlett at 8, is the youngest hiker, so we can forgive her the occasional "are we there yet?" sighs.

The wonderful thing about this hike is that as massive as Delicate Arch is, you can't see it until you get there. You have to trust, have faith.

I am moving in that faith, in the present.

Hiking through the rocks and then the steep slick rock, then up and up (vertigo!) and around corners, steep drops and . . .

"Che bellissima!" Indeed. The kids are enchanted, as I knew they would be.

The vertigo is new for me: a sign of age? Yet it's not annoying or frighting, it just adds another dimension and I take deeper breaths and exhale more slowly.

The kids are exhilarated hiking back, feeling a sense of accomplishment. We have a late dinner at the Blu Pig, and a group of elderly Italians have the table next to us. Were they the ones on the motorbikes? Were they the ones on the hike?

We see them for sure at breakfast the next morning, and on another long hike we do in Arches to Devil's Garden. There are so many things to do, how can we have the same itinerary?

Rob helps some of them through a stream the next day when we are hiking in Negro Bill Canyon.

Although they are older, they are vigorous, they are inspiring. They are curious and delighted.

Finally, on our last morning, I get the courage to speak to some of them. I have been saving up all of my Italian until this moment. They are from Milan, and flew to Phoenix, renting the bikes there. They only laugh when I ask them what they think of American coffee.

"Ciao!" they shout, and vroom off.

But our adventures are not finished! Our next stop is Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. It is mid afternoon and we have a tour of Cliff Palace at 4, but the drizzle makes us bide our time in the museum, where four of the Italians are! We greet each other like old friends - and I again am reminded of the fluidity of time.

I may not be a spring chicken, but I have learned and am still learning what it takes to practice radical self-care, and not to give up on any aspect of my life - be it physical, mental, spiritual. I may NOT be Italian, but I will be an older person who is a voracious lover of life, just like these powers of example.

I may not be a Delicate Arch, but I am forming over time.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Back in the Saddle?

Hello my turtle doves! I've missed you! My writing self has been quiet for the summer, but I can assure you that FALL is here and I am back in the saddle - back to writing and nurturing my own inner life, back to spreading around the writing love!

How? Why? Because I've shaken up my perspective, had some adventure.

Rob and I took our first vacation in YEARS and took the kids on a road trip through the Colorado Rockies to the Four Corners, back to where we met in Moab, Utah.

Back in the saddle . . . the term has become part of our vernacular from our rich history in the West embodied by the song stylings of the famous cowboy entertainer Gene Autry. And who doesn't think of John Wayne?

But Léna Roy?

Here I am IN the saddle for sure, but not BACK in the saddle, as I am not a horse aficionado. (Being back in the saddle implies that you are returning to doing something that you regularly do.)

I am a writer who couldn't make time for writing this summer, so I needed to shake things up. That's what we need to get back to doing what we love - a shift in perspective.

The whole trip in and of itself helped with that as the five of us hiked four or five miles a day in various gorgeous environs.

But here, something is "new". I am sitting astride Rebel, and Rebel is giving me a different perspective on the landscape, a fresh experience. I have never had to put a bandana over my face because of the masses of dust kicked up by horses hooves. There were sixteen of us, crisscrossing through streams and going up and down the rocks in Castle Creek, led by the good folks at Red Cliffs Lodge on Hwy 128.

I have never had such a good time on a horse and although I feared his name at first, Rebel took good care of me. I had to get in the saddle to realize again that I am a composite of all of my experiences, and yet so much more. I am more than any story that I tell myself about myself. And I don't need to be afraid of the stories I need to tell. (Or need to be written?)

It's a life-long project and journey,  this confidence game.

So I am back in the saddle so to speak, as I hope you all are - with the ability to look at your life and yourself as an artist with fresh eyes.

And more is coming!