Won’t You Come Along?

Dear Followers,

I miss you! As a follower of my blog, One Rich Life, I want to let you know that my address has changed and you can now find my blog posts over at http://joanzrough.com.  Click on “My Blog,” and you’ll find my latest post.

You can resubscribe there if you wish to continue following me as I story my way through life.

On my new website, you’ll also be able to read about the progress I’m making on my memoir and to read the first chapter of, Me Myself, and Mom, A Journey of Love, Hate, and Healing. It will give you a taste of what’s to come.

Thanks for your continuing interest and support.  Your visits and comments are very important to me.  I will no longer be blogging on this site. Please join me at my new home.

Best to each and every one of you,


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Which Blog To Follow?

Hi folks,

Just want to make sure you’re not missing out on visiting my new website, which is where my blog can now be found.  Check it out at http://joanzrough.com.

Since I won’t be posting here anymore, I want you to be able to continue to follow me at my new home.  If you are a follower of my blog here, you can become a follower at the new address, by simply typing in your email address and clicking Subscribe.

And should you decide not to follow my post any longer, I’d love to know why.  I’m always looking at ways to improve my writing and what readers are interested in reading about. You can shoot me an email from the website, and tell me what you think. I’d appreciate the feedback I can get and promise I won’t cry if you decide leave well-enough alone.

Besides reading my bog on my website, One Rich Life, you’ll have access to the first chapter of the book I’m writing:  Me, Myself And Mom, A Journey Through Love, Hate and Healing.  And you’ll be the first to know how the process is moving along and when it will available in book form.

Thanks so much for your interest and hope you’re having a fabulous summer.

Joan Z. Rough






Posted in Books, Life, Memoir, Writing | 2 Comments

My New Website Is Up!

The front garden May, 2012,  after replanting.

The front garden May, 2012, after replanting.

Today is the day I’ve been waiting for.  I’m moving.  Not from my house, but to my new website is at: joanzrough.com.

You’ll no longer find me here at the old address.  But if you go to the one above you’ll find a new link to my blog as I continue to post about what catches my interest. You will also be able to find all of the posts I’ve previously published.  If you are a follower of mine and would like to continue getting notification that I’ve posted on my blog, you’ll have to refollow me on the website.

On the website, you’ll be able to read about the progress I’m making on my book. You’ll find out the title I’ve chosen and have the opportunity to read the first chapter … which I hope will give you reason to follow me as I wend my way toward publication.

My process has been like what was the less than satisfying garden in the front of my house. Last summer we ripped it out and started over, enriching the soil and putting in new plants … foxglove, spirea, irises and many other colorful flowering plants. We added Japanese maples to crown the banks and dance in the summer breeze.  As you can see in the photo above, it had promise but it was far from what I had envisioned. The plants needed time to spread and fill out. They needed the constant care and watering that are necessary in this droughty climate I live in.

This spring, as the plants slowly made their way up through the ground toward the warming sun, I could see the difference a year has made.  And as the days grow warmer and longer, all of the promise that sparse hillside took on last year has been fulfilled.  It fills my soul with a vision of what that garden should be.

So it is with writing. Intention, time and care make all the difference.  I hope you’ll continue to follow me as I nurture and write about the garden that is my life.

The front garden, May 2013.

The front garden, May 2013.

Posted in Memoir, The Garden, The Journey, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Memoir: Two You’ll Love

DSC01793“Through my identification with another girl who could write what I couldn’t begin to think, I discovered a way to break out of the socialized story into something else, something new … my own voice.  I began to see how the story that gets one person through offers a map that gets more of us through. And when we reveal details that we think are excruciatingly personal, we discover the universal.” 

Christina Baldwin,
Making Sense of Our Lives Through the Power and Practice of Story.

There is nothing like reading about another person’s journey through life to get you thinking about your own. In the last couple of months I’ve been reading memoirs as a way to nourish myself as I make my way putting my own story on paper.

I  read memoir to learn how others navigate the slick, shiny surface of a frozen pond, the choppy waters of a summer storm, and the deadly tornadoes of a desperate mind.  I take heart that I am not alone and that others have tasted similar sorrows and the same joys that I have. By immersing myself in another’s personal story, I discover new ways of loving my own life and being comfortable in a challenging world.

Two memoirs that I’ve recently read and that stand out for me are, Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, and Don’t Call Me Mother, A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness, by Linda Joy Myers.  Both are greatly influencing me as I work my way through reams of blank paper, telling my own unique story.

These two stories are as different as night and day, but what they have in common are mothers, and individual journeys through grief and acceptance of loss, during which both authors discover themselves and their own power to give voice to who they were and have become.

In both memoirs, brutal honesty and courage rule out what could be dark, lifeless memoirs about victims of circumstance. But these are inspirational as well as universal and healing. Not all of us can take on the wilderness as Strayed did to find herself, or the stubborn revisiting of the past and family that Myers put herself through. But through them we can all find our own ways to bring our stories to life, finally living in peace and acceptance of where we’ve been.

In her story, Strayed, revisions her life and losses as she limps her way along a strenuous wilderness trail, finding wholeness in her bruised and battered body.  Myer’s narrative follows her from abandonment to breaking generational patterns of abuse and becoming the mother that she always wanted to have.

Both books were impossible for me to put down and I can easily see myself reading them again as I move along my own path. For those who are interested in stories about personal growth and are written by women who found their way past major challenges, I recommend them highly.

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Memoir, Navigating Through Life, Quotes, The Journey, Wise Words | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Truth Or Consequences In Writing Memoir

IMG_0687“I was sitting at a beach with my notebook, and I’m thinking about how to get back into [writing] and what matters to me, and I just sort of self-destructed at Brothers & Sisters. I had written about personal events that implicated other people in some way, that I hadn’t taken into account the consequences, and I found myself very much like the character in my play … a writer who is a dangerous creature.”

“And I had a note to myself, ‘play about daughter of a famous family who writes a book about her growing up in this family,’ something like that; ‘the danger of telling the truth that turns out to be a lie.’”  — Jon Robin Baitz, playwright

This past weekend Bill and I went up to the Arena Stage in Washington, DC to see a show.  Every year we buy a half series of season matinée tickets, jump in the car and make the two and a half hour trip up and back in one day.  It’s a great way to get out of Dodge for a short period of time, cleansing the mind of huge and trivial pursuits, and giving us a taste of city sophistication. Though Charlottesville is a pretty sophisticated place it doesn’t hold a candle to being in the capital, where like it or not, it all happens, good, bad and indifferent.

The only persons who know where we are and our cell phone numbers are family members and whoever is looking after our dogs and cat.  And we don’t usually hear from any of them. The only huge drawback is the trip itself, which involves sitting in the car and the theatre for about eight hours in one day.  Not my favorite thing to do, especially if the show doesn’t grab me, which sometimes happens.  My body gets stuck in its seated position and as the years go by it gets harder and harder to get my muscles to get myself upright and walking again. If the theatrical production we see doesn’t stimulate my mind, my entire body will start asking questions like, “Why do you insist upon doing this to me?  Don’t you know that the more you sit, the shorter our life span will be?”

This past year has been a fairly good season for us in which we saw, Pullman Porter Blues (great music, so-so otherwise), Metamorphosis, and Good People, both stellar in almost every way.  Should you want to know more about them go to Bill’s blog, at View In The Dark, for his reviews and his interesting theatre chatter.

But in my mind, the best this year is the last of our series, Other Desert Cities, by Jon Robin Baitz, who created Brothers & Sisters for ABC.  And if truth were told I wouldn’t mind seeing it again and often, and I think I’ll even read it.  A very rare thing for me.

Set in the living room of the well-connected Wyeth family, who live in the desert community of Palm Springs, this family drama caught my attention for it’s references to writing memoir and truth.  Something many of us who are involved in the genre of memoir deal with every day as we put pen to paper. In this theatrical production, daughter, Brooke, comes home for the holidays for the first time in six years. She brings with her the manuscript of a book she has just sold and will soon be on bookstore shelves.

Intended to be a novel, her story turns into a memoir during the writing process, as she deals with the suicide of her brother, with whom she was very close.  Her parents, old friends of Nancy and Ronald Reagan, and the darlings of Republican politicians, far and wide, plead with her to wait to publish the book until after their deaths, claiming the consequences would damage too many lives.

I won’t go any further in telling the story and the secret that eventually comes out, as I hope all of my memoir writing friends and everyone else for that matter, will go out and see this heart-wrenching drama when you have a chance.  It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2012, and will hopefully continue to make its rounds in regional theatres across the country.

Posted in family, Friendships, Memoir, Navigating Through Life, Quotes, Theatre | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Yay, I Did It!

DSC01475I thought that by the time I turned seventy years old, I’d have it all pretty much together. But last November when I hit the big seven-oh, I was still fumbling my lines and couldn’t remember where on the stage I’m supposed to stand. Let’s just say I’m still rehearsing my act.

When I was a kid my parents often told me that I took life and myself too seriously. I was supposed to laugh more … have fun … quit being so sensitive. I believed every word they spoke and started building what I thought my worth was … in their eyes.

I grew up, got married, had my own kids, and still hadn’t figured out that what I did was really good  and important. Whenever I thought I was doing something wrong, which was most of the time, I’d say, “I’m sorry.” I still say it, but not as much as I used to. I recognize those words as just a misguided belief and an old habit that may take a long time to find its way into the trash can.

A few days ago, in the midst of making an appointment, I was confounded when I tried to schedule a time that would be convenient for me.  In the past I always found it much easier to schedule things whenever it was best for the other person. Even if I had something else to do, I’d somehow find a way to work around it, never wanting to inconvenience anyone else. I was constantly frustrated and anxious about my own work and how I was supposed to get it done.  And I often blamed the other person for being uncooperative.  No more.

The other day when I told the receptionist what time I could be there, she told me that it wouldn’t work; that they don’t take appointments between noon and two.  But this time, without a second thought, I told her that 1 PM was the only time I could meet.  I told her that I work from 9 AM till noon, and my chosen time was the only one that would work for me, as the rest of the day was filled to the brim.

I felt annoyed; prepared to argue it out. But there was no need.  She smilingly said, “Oh, okay. We can do that,” and quickly wrote my name down in my chosen time slot.

For days I’ve been stunned that I said what I had and that the receptionist was so willing to help me out. I’m flabbergasted and embarrassed that it’s taken me so damned long to take my work and myself seriously enough to just say, “No, I can’t do that.” I’m proud of myself for the commitment I’ve made to the work of writing my book. In the past my thoughts would have been something like, “I’m just writing a book.  What’s the big deal?”

Tonight join me as I toast myself for finally beginning to learn my lines.

How about you?  Do you take your dreams seriously or just dismiss them as unimportant?

Posted in Dreams, family, Gratefulness, Navigating Through Life, The Journey, Time, Writing | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Good News!

IMG_0006Good news! My new website is getting closer to being finished and my memoir progresses.  Once my website is up, you’ll find out the title of my book and get to read Chapter One. Hopefully you’ll get a hint of what I’ve been up to and perhaps you’ll give me a push now and then, because you just can’t wait to read the rest.

I still struggle with time management, but I’ve come up with a new idea for my Sacred Writing Time, and so far it’s working perfectly.  Sunday through Thursday I’m out of bed by 6:30 AM. I walk the dogs, have breakfast and get some exercise … either more outdoor walking time or on my cross trainer.  Hopefully I’m done with that by 9 AM. Then I write until noon. There is no messing around on the Internet with twitter, Facebook, or email during that time.

I’m always trying to find new ways of staying on target because sooner or later something happens and I let it all go.  I’m hoping that this time it will last longer and keep me going until it’s done.

Should you insist on coming to visit on those mornings, you’ll most likely come upon a sweaty, smelly me, not really wanting to see you until after I’ve taken my shower and brushed my teeth properly … sometime after lunch.  Of course there will be exceptions … emergency visits to doctors or veterinarians or maybe a visitation with someone I adore and haven’t seen in a gazillion years.  All else gets put off until the afternoon and early evening hours.

Part of me wants to rebel; afraid it might miss something. It isn’t easy to keep my inner brat from trying to make trouble, but I’m serious about getting my book written and published. I feel great when I’m writing, and at the end of the day, my level of satisfaction for my work and myself goes way up on the charts if I stay on track. I feel as though I’ve accomplished something and I can relax, do something wild and crazy.

When I recently took ten days off from posting on my blog, I got an amazing amount of stuff done. I even found myself not checking email, Facebook, or Twitter as often as I had been.  I took time to take better care of myself and spent a bit more time preparing good, healthy food, and to read books that don’t necessarily have anything to do with writing, self-publishing or book promotion.

So as a way to give myself a bit more lee-way, starting next week, I’ll only be posting on my blog once a week, on Wednesdays.  That way I won’t get overwhelmed with all I have to do, and you, my readers, won’t get bored reading something that I wasn’t really into, just to keep you entertained.

What are you doing to keep yourself motivated and on target as you work on your creative projects?  Do you ever deny yourself time to keep going because you don’t feel like doing the work?  Do you have a stack of unfinished projects waiting for you to get back to them?

Posted in Being Creative, Books, Healthy Living, Life, Memoir, The Journey, Time, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

The Music Of The Wild

DSCF0109“There is language going on out there –the language of the wild.
Roars, snorts, trumpets, squeals, whoops, and chirps all have meaning
derived over eons of expression. We have yet to become fluent in the language —
and music — of the wild.”  

Boyd Norton (Serengeti)

It’s that time of year, when along with flowers and blossoms, I awaken each morning to a sunrise chorus of bird song.  I throw on my dirty clothes from yesterday and take my dogs out for their early morning walk.  Birds of all kinds are singing … robins, a wood thrush, jays and chickadees, the drumming of a woodpecker. I love the sounds of spring along with the visual bliss that each day brings as new flowers open, bringing color back into the winter weary world … green leaves unfurling, yellow forsythia, and pink cherry blossoms … later, snow-white azaleas bloom in my garden.

Way back in 1984, I spent twelve days and nights in Kenya, on a photo journey with eight other photographers, under the leadership of Boyd Norton, who wrote the quote above. I will never forget that trip and the music of the wild as we journeyed through the Masai Mara and the Serengeti Plains. Every night we ate dinner around a watering hole, in the company of elephants, zebras, and giraffes. We fell asleep in our tents to the sounds of life and death going on all around us.

Along with the tapping of rain on the roof, the wind in the trees, the rumble of a coming storm, and the ocean heaving itself against the shore, the language and music of the wild, brings me peace and the knowing that I am only one tiny speck in the greatness of our universe.

My photos from that trip still lay hidden in one of the boxes in the attic.  One of these days I will break them out and share some of them with you. But, it won’t be the same as being there, away from sirens, jack hammers, and the roar of jets overhead … the sounds our very own species projects out into the world.  But thankfully we also are the makers of music …  the humming of a harp, the voice of a soprano,  and the magical weaving of notes performed by a symphony orchestra … all of it comes from the heart.

Posted in Life, Matters of the Spirit, photography, Quotes, Travels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


DSCF0125I was in my mid-sixties when a therapist first suggested that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My response was, “No. Impossible.”

Dr. B. handed me a book and asked me to read several pages out loud. When I was done he asked me if the words sounded familiar in any way.  I had to admit that the long list of PTSD symptoms did indeed sound like things I’d experienced.

But I also told him that I had never been in a fire, a horrific act of Mother Nature, experienced a terrorist attack, or fought in a war.  I told him my life was just ordinary, and that the parental abuse I had experienced as a child did not make for PTSD.  I reasoned that there were many other people out there who’d had it much worse than I, and that I knew my parents had really loved me. They were just a bit f ‘cked up.  I described others I knew who had been through much worse and weren’t suffering from a mental disorder.

It took a few more years and another two diagnoses by other therapists to set me straight and to get over the shame of having a mental disability. Early on, my parents had planted a seed in my head that said mental dis-ease of any kind, is something to be terribly ashamed of.  Denial was always the name of the game.

My father, who had beaten and abused me, showed signs of what at the time was called Shell Shock, brought on by his experiences in World War II. But he was never considered to have a mental health problem.  On the other hand my grandmother had been labeled an unfit mother because of the way she treated my mother and her siblings. She was the family’s deep dark secret that no one ever talked about. After all, what would the neighbors think if they found out about Grandma?

After numerous long and difficult hours with a therapist who specialized in working with trauma patients I began to understand that most any trauma can cause PTSD.  It all depends on the person who experienced the trauma, how early it started, how long it lasted and so on. She helped me to find new ways of navigating through life without the anger and anxiety that tortured me.

After I finishing my work with M., I picked up a book written by Michelle Rosenthal, entitled, Before The World Intruded, Conquering the past and Creating the Future.  Hers is an inspiring story of how she overcame PTSD and won the battle for her life brought on by a life-threatening allergy to a medication she experienced in her teens.  Over the years as she suffered from insomnia, nightmares and flashbacks she was diagnosed with a number of ailments, including cancer, by physicians who did not recognize the classic signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Twenty-four years later, knowing that there was something terribly wrong, Michelle started doing her own research.  When she discovered she had PTSD, she began a journey of healing that included a move to a new location and getting on the dance floor.

As she began to recover, she started blogging about her journey. She became a Certified Professional Coach, a Certified Hypnotist and a Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programmer, and started giving back as a PTSD Coach.  In 2009 she founded Heal My PTSD, an organization that brings awareness, education, and treatment options to those struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Michelle’s book is a compelling story of self-empowerment, and has further helped me with my own struggles. Filled with inspiration, Michelle brings us good information and the understanding that most anyone can recover using self-empowerment techniques and community to bring those with PTSD back to feeling safe and at peace in their surroundings.

Posted in Books, Fear, Healing, Life, Memoir, Mental Health, Navigating Through Life, Trauma | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Boston …

IMG_0677Yesterday was once again a day of terror and violence.  I took in the scenes on CNN of the attack on Boston and could only shrug my shoulders in disbelief. Today is the 6th anniversary of the massacre at Virginia Tech, and every day it only seems to get worse. Will every day become the anniversary of a shooting or a bombing?

What has surprised me most is my own reaction.  Breaking news of the sort we received yesterday doesn’t seem to be news any more. I didn’t cry as I usually do for the victims of the other attacks. I thought, “It’s just what happens in our world.”  That scares me. It is not how I want to be.

I’ve lived seventy long years and was living a good life, the day JFK was assassinated … also when his brother, Bobby, was killed and let’s not forget Martin Luther King, Jr.

I cried for those who died at Kent State … young people simply protesting the actions of a President, who the day before launched a campaign on Cambodia, during a war that few supported.

There was Rodney King, in 1991 who asked, “Can’t we all just get along,”  after a horribly cruel beating by police officers who acted out of prejudice.

9/11 took us all by surprise. We never believed we’d see an attack of that magnitude on our homeland … home of free and land of the brave. But there have been other shootings, bombings, and wars all around the world, in places where people fear for their lives if they leave their homes, or go about their lives without noticing what is happening around them.  It’s just the way it is.  And I’m afraid there will be much more to come.

For me, the straw that finally broke my spirit altogether was the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Connecticut.  It was a complete shock to my nervous system that even innocent children are not spared.  Now, I simply have no more tears. But I have the hope that the parents and spouses of those who were murdered that day, can lead this confused nation back to the reality before us and bring a stop to much of the violence. But they cannot do it alone.

All of us, who believe in peace at home and abroad must stand up to stop the violence. That includes our lawmakers, many of who are afraid of not being re-elected if they back the gun control laws they are now considering. The events in Newtown could bring us to a New Country, and maybe even a New World, where all people can live free without fear of going out in public.

If we do nothing, I fear we will become a complacent society barely noticing what is happening around us. We can’t let that happen. Please make your feeling known to those who can make new laws, and stand tall for peace.

Please note that I will be taking a blog break until April 27th, so that I can deal with the mess on my desk, write a few letters, and plant flowers in my garden. I wish you all a glorious spring through which we can hopefully bring our country back to a life without fear. 

Posted in Compassion, Fear, Life, love, Matters of the Spirit, Navigating Through Life, Trauma | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments