Sunday, December 11, 2011


Dear friends,

Few gifts are ever appreciated more than a book. By giving a book you are gifting the recipient with hours or reading pleasure – definitely a lot of value for your hard-earned money!

This holiday, I would like to give you a gift of my own: If you suggest my books to at least five of your friends, or spread the love through five of your social networks or e-mail, I will send you a free Kindle download; if you purchase five paperbacks as Christmas presents, I will send you an autographed copy at no charge to you. Whatever you choose to do to spread the love, send me a note through the contact form on my website and I will send your free copy of the book you prefer.

Here are the Amazon links you can use:

May you and yours have a wonderful Holiday season!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Building Blocks and Dinosaurs

I remember watching my children, when they were little, put a lot of time and energy into building something only to break it down and build it again. Over and over. As grateful as I was for the time they kept themselves entertained, I was also a bit puzzled that they would invest so much time creating a building, and then turn around and knock it down with a plastic dinosaur or a GI Joe’s airplane. It never occurred to me at the time that they were simply training for real life adventures.

Although as adults we create situations with real people, and we have no easy access to dinosaurs or airplanes, the majority of our adult life is spent in creating events, dramas, and relationships that regularly blow up – not too differently than the Lego bunkers my children so painstakingly built. So, it is fair to ask in a moment of drama-free sanity: Why do we go through the cycles of creation and destruction?

No, we are not trying to recapture the child within, and we are also not losing our minds. The answer is much simpler, and yet, way more profound: Through those cycles we learn who we are; we learn who other people are; most of all, we learn that even when everything crumbles around us we are still able to pick up the pieces and build anew. And this time – since we learned where the weak spots were in the past – we can build a sturdier structure that will last through time; one I would challenge any dinosaur to destroy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Online Contest: Enter to Win Cash Prizes!

This online contest is open to resident of the US, Canada and UK. Contestants are required to answer three questions on the novel, The Book of Obeah. Responses to the questions should be sent to starting on June 10, 2011, and all entries should be received by July 30, 2011. I will select three winners by midnight on that date and notify them via e-mail. Cash prizes will be awarded through Paypal, or if winners prefer, I can arrange to send a money order. Autographed books will be sent to the address of your choice. This contest is not opened to individuals who were involved with the making of the book, to include the publisher and its affiliates, independent editors and marketing consultants.

Please answer these questions:

1 – In The Book of Obeah, Melody met several characters. Which of the characters do you think will follow her into the next book of the series, and why?

2 – Imagine the possibility of The Book of Obeah becoming a feature film. If you were the cast director, who would you cast to play the different roles?

3 – In a few words, tell me how the story should continue. Based on the information you have from the first book, what do you think should happen next?

Prizes will be awarded as such:

- First prize: $100
- Second prize: $75
- Third prize: $50

Three other winners will be awarded honorary mentions on my website, and they will receive an autographed copy of the novel.

Enter today and let your friends know so that they can also qualify for a chance to win. GOOD LUCK!!!

No purchase is necessary to enter the contest. If you are interested in reading reviews or the synopsis of the novel, please visit

Thursday, May 26, 2011

30-Day Mental Diet Starting On June 1!

Hello friends!

Starting on June 1st, I will post one daily tip aimed at shedding unnecessary emotional weight. The tips will be of motivational and inspirational nature, and they will either gently nudge you to think of, and shed, things that no longer serve the present reality, or they will encourage you to do something that will help to increase your self-worth. I opened a Facebook page just for this, and you can join our group effort at

It is completely free to join, and there are no hidden fees. Research shows that groups can be more successful in achieving certain milestones and mental balance is certainly a goal which deserves a joint effort.

You can use the page to share with friends, post your thoughts, and offer encouragement and feedback to other people in the group.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

History Repeats Itself: The Muslim Witch-hunt

Of the four billion people who died in the 20th century from all causes combined, 185,000,000 deaths were caused by other humans. At 8.5 millions, murders exceed deaths related to natural disaster (including floods, earthquakes and volcanoes) by five millions. These are scary odds. They get even scarier when one thinks that many of the 'manmade' deaths are the product of hate crimes.

Sadly, since the September 11, 2001 incident, and again since the killing of Osama Bin Laden, anyone wearing eastern garments has been at risk of attracting unwanted attention, even though the individuals responsible for the 9/11 atrocities were disguised as normal Americans, and they boarded our planes wearing regular slacks, dress shirts and NOT donning a turban. The fact that two men wearing Muslim garb who were traveling to North Carolina on May 6, 2011 were removed from a plane because passengers felt uncomfortable, shows us that fear is still ruling over better judgment – if these guys were up to something, would they have worn clothes that were sure to attract attention? The ironic thing is that Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul were traveling to Raleigh, NC to attend a conference on prejudice against Muslims, or Islamaphobia, a meeting sponsored by the North American Imams Federation.

Ignorance has certainly played a huge part in this process, but it is intolerable that so many people have been demonized and demoted to sub-human status because of their religious affiliations or fashion trends. Religious conflicts and wars have claimed many lives throughout history, but it must be made clear that the people responsible for those deaths are not the good and honest believers; rather, they are a minority group of fanatics and radicals who have used religion to manipulate the masses and fit their personal evil purposes.

Worldwide leaders are hoping to promote understanding and peace, but it is up to individuals to comprehend that religions are paths to love, not hatred or destruction.
As children, we were taught that one bad apple does not necessarily spoil the whole basket, but as adults we conveniently choose to trash all the apples, regardless of the fact that many of them are good and perfectly healthy. Islamic extremists are the exception, not the rule, of Islam, as much as Catholic Inquisitors or Christian Crusaders were not rightful representatives of the Christian creed.

As citizens of this country and inhabitants of this world, we need to take a hard look at the atrocities we personally commit when we simply judge good people because of their beliefs or appearance.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Mother's Day Reflection: What My Mother Taught Me Is More Valuable Than Recycling

One of the mantras my mother routinely used any time I asked her for suggestions to solve certain problems in my young life was: “Assess the resources you have and create a plan.” Of course, at the time I was stuck with an issue, I didn’t think I had any resources, so I distinctly remember spending a lot of time wondering what she truly meant; as I got older I realized those words were a gift I would use many times over, and I was proud to use many of my mother’s teachings in my book Housekeeping for the Soul.

It’s amazing how much wisdom comes from our mothers – it is like a seed that is patiently and lovingly planted, only waiting to be watered by circumstances to grow to its potential. Over the years, I have come to see Mother’s Day as the perfect time to reflect upon the things my mother taught me, and to honor her presence in my life by taking steps to improve my reality.
When I stumbled into an article which discussed the innovative solution of converting methane gas produced by garbage in landfills into clean energy which is used to fuel hundreds of garbage trucks in Oakland, CA, my mother’s words instantly flashed through my mind

As I discussed in Housekeeping for the Soul, we readily assume that all bad experiences we survived in our past are enemies that forced us to become unwilling warriors in a war we didn’t choose; more than anything, we blame our past, our errors, the people who created obstacles, and circumstances, and use them to make excuses for our lack of progress in the present. Those moments, recorded in our inner filing cabinet, continue to work from the shadowy chambers of our subconscious and influence our choices. But, can you imagine how wonderful it would be if we could shift our perception of those experiences and use them as fuel for our renewal?

Imagine your subconscious as being the landfill. The garbage which has been deposited into it over the years has rotted out, and the fumes it produces are toxic and constantly rising up to ruin every new thing we attempt. As the fumes reach our consciousness, they produce more garbage which is, in turn, sent to the inner landfill, and without a plan in place, we gradually become overwhelmed and unable to deal with the load.

Now imagine that we are able to capture the fumes of the garbage we have collected, and use them to fuel a process during which we will reinvent our lives. It is important to understand that nothing happens by chance, and most people and events are brought into our lives to raise awareness over certain issues we are struggling with. In other words, we need to understand the value of the energy produced. Analyzing the patterns of past experiences allows us to do that. The following tips can be used to channel the energy produced by past hurts and recycle it to benefit our present life.

- Sift through the garbage. Some experiences are the result of poor internalization, and they serve little purpose. We sometimes hold long-lasting grudges over misunderstanding and miscommunications, and we allow relationships and project be ruined because of it.
- Own up your share. Is it really always someone else’s fault? It takes two to tango, and sometimes we are responsible for the unfolding of certain events. On the other hand, some circumstances are out of our sphere of control, and we need to understand that beating ourselves is not going to change things.
- Separate your garbage from other people’s garbage and decide which is recyclable and what, instead, needs to be released for good.
- Understand that the energy produced by the garbage has an opposite which you have the freedom to tap into if you so choose. Love is the opposite of hatred, forgiveness is the opposite of resentment.
- Try different methods of recycling energy (prayer, meditation, reaching out to others in similar situations.) If one method doesn’t work, try others. The important thing is to not give up.

The secret of success is to be able to use available resources to increase your chances to overcome and conquer. Everyone can bring garbage into your life, but only you have the key to put what was dumped to good use. Thank you Mom, for teaching me that I can use my own garbage to change and improve my life. Happy Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On Mother's Day, Give Mom A Gift That Will Make A Difference

Housekeeping for the Soul is more than a just a self help book – rather, it is a tool that facilitates the development of the reader’s own soul truth. Each chapter includes meditations and reflections, aimed at peeling off the layers of pain we have held onto over the years. Through steps that are simple for everyone to follow, the reader can shed old hurts, clean out the debris, and finally, create a different reality. When I was younger, my mother always told me that although one cannot change the world on the outside, it is possible to change the world on the inside. You too can change your life, if someone can show you how. Yes, I do agree that we can find ourselves in sticky situations at times, and some of those predicaments can be quite overwhelming, but I am also convinced that one is never truly cornered; there is always a way to improve things.

As we get closer to Mother’s Day, many of us are scrambling for ideas to honor the very special women in our lives. This year, let Mom know how much you care by giving her a gift she will treasure for a long time to come. And the best thing about Housekeeping for the Soul? For once, Mom will be able to clean AND get the rest she deserves.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead -- Should We Rejoice?

Osama Bin Laden is confirmed dead, and as news of his demise spread, videos and reports of worldwide cheer exploded across the media. Thousands of people flocked to the streets, carrying children on their shoulders and screaming victory over evil.

I first heard of Bin Laden’s death last night, when one of my sons came downstairs and informed me of the breaking news he saw reported on CNN. We turned the TV on, and after a moment of disbelief, I was actually saddened by the reactions of the people. Yes, Osama Bin Laden was an infamous figure, and he was responsible for the death of many thousands of people all over the world, but should we really rejoice over the death of a human being?

President Obama announced to the families of the victims of 9/11 that justice is done, and his sentiment was shared by several leaders who felt Bin Laden’s death marks the end of an era, but even that statement led me to think. My heart goes out to the victims of any act of terror and their families, but how does the death of a man bring upon justice? In my opinion justice would have been served if Bin Laden was captured and tried for his crimes. His death only exonerated him from facing the consequences of his actions.

Strangely enough, Adolf Hitler, whose crimes against humanity will forever be etched in the mind of the collective, was confirmed dead on April 30, 1945. The same day, sixty-six years apart. Coincidence? Maybe so, maybe not.

I remember reading once that this world has seen two teachers of compassion – the Dalai Lama and Adolf Hitler. When I first read the statement, I found it hard to accept, but as I continued reading, I understood something different: Teachers use different teaching methods to drive the same lessons home. The Dalai Lama uses unconditional love to teach compassion, Hitler used unconditional hatred, two opposite faces of the same powerful feeling. The Dalai Lama teaches us to love one another because we are all expressions of the same creation, and Hitler taught us to see oneness by default, after people were senselessly murdered because of superficial differences.

What lesson did Osama Bin Laden teach the world during his stay on Earth? Much like Hitler, he raised negative feelings in a selected few and he caused the rest of the world to stick to one cause: Humanity. Through Bin Laden’s actions, and the actions of his followers, the world understood that we are all one despite our differences, and in the greater scheme of things we are all brothers and sisters; the tragedies that befall one befall all of us as a whole.

Bin Laden is dead, and many believe human justice is served. Is divine justice also served? As the Vatican Spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, declared: “Osama bin Laden, as we all know, had the very grave responsibility of spreading division and hatred amongst the people, causing the death of countless of people, and of instrumentalizing religion for this end," he said. "In front of the death of man, a Christian never rejoices but rather reflects on the grave responsibility of each one in front of God and men, and hopes and commits himself so that every moment not be an occasion for hatred to grow but for peace."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tiny Teacher

Alena the goldfish is finally free. On a warm spring evening, as the sweet scent of magnolia drifted in through open windows, and a lone songbird indulged one last melody to end his day, Alena moved on. After living with the burden of a large tumor which had caused her to go blind, her battle was over. This tiny being taught us many lessons during the time we were fortunate to have her with us; for one, she taught us resilience and determination to live in spite of hardhip.

About a year after she came to live with us, we noticed a small bump forming on the right side of her head. The growth became larger as time passed, but Alena seemed unaffected by it – she ate well and loved to swim around the fresh plants and rocks we placed in her aquarium. Then, one day I saw her lying motionless inside a decorative pirate skull, and I assumed she had passed away. When I touched her to remove her from the skull, she squirmed, and my heart rejoiced. It was a short moment of happiness, however, for when I finally got her out from the skull she was stuck into, she was in terrible conditions – trying to break free, she had rubbed off most of her skin and tail, and one of her eyes was bleeding. We thought she was going to die that day, and we did all we could to keep her as comfortable as possible during her transition. To our surprise, Alena survived, and in no time at all her skin and tail were repaired. Unfortunately, the tumor was cut open while she tried to get out of the skull, and from that day on it started growing at greater speed.

Alena lost her sight from the one eye close to the tumor, but she seemed to be doing well otherwise. She lived several more years, apparently unaware of the disease that was slowly destroying her tiny body, but a few weeks ago she became quite lethargic and sat still over top of one of the plants in her aquarium for a few days. Feeling confident that she was losing her battle and was by now in distress, I researched humane ways to euthanize her, but before we could decide on anything, Alena surprised us again by perking back up and acting normal. We felt relieved, and we enjoyed watching her swim around and eat as if nothing had happened.

Sadly, this last period of wellbeing was short lived. A few days ago, Alena began showing signs of distress again, and she refused to eat. Last evening she lay on her side at the bottom of the aquarium, and her small body became still. We waited for a while to make sure she was gone, then we gently scooped her up in a bowl and took her to a pond near our house where we laid her to rest. For most of her life, Alena was trapped in a body that didn’t work well, and her adventures were limited by the enclosure she was living in; now she was free from pain, and she could swim forever in a large pond. We all stood around and said goodbye, as one of my sons gently lay her motionless body in the water. At first, everyone was a bit sad, but grief was quickly replaced with joy, as we embraced the concept that Alena is happier now, and she no longer hurts. We all sat around for a while and talked about her passing. The kids all understood that in cases such as this, death is a portal to better living, and if we love her we have to be relieved and happy for her. Goodbye Alena...swim on, little buddy, and thank you for the silent lessons we will cherish forever.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thank You So Much!

The past week has been a whirlwind, but rather than feeling turned upside down, I feel absolutely invigorated. I have to believe that Universe knows when it is time for a shuffle, and when you leave yourself open for changes, wonderful things manifest.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to give something a try – after spending almost three decades doing Tarot readings for friends and family, I thought of spreading my wings to the outside world and I offered a few free sample readings on a handful of websites. The response was almost overwhelming in a good way: People from all parts of the country – and even out of the country – wrote and allowed me the opportunity to read for them. I couldn’t have hoped for a more incredible and validating experience! Being able to connect with folks I have never met, and glimpsing their life stories, was an absolutely mind-blowing gift to me, and I learned a huge lesson from that: If one remains open to divine guidance, energy WILL flow. The feedback I received from the readings was heart-warming, and it certainly built my confidence toward this new venture. Many people I regularly interact with are familiar with my passion for crossroads, and the possibilities for self-awareness they offer. My readings are based on identifying each individual crossroads, and then exploring the pathways that originate from it, so that people can make better choices for themselves. I don’t see readings as a fortune-telling tool, but rather I see them as a way for someone to look deep within and discover blocks they might not be aware of. Right now, I feel that I have taken a new turn at this particular juncture, and I am still busy smelling the flowers on the side of the road. For the last few months, I have felt a strong need to reinvent myself in some way, and although writing still remains my greatest passion, I feel this is the pathway I was meant to take. Thank you so much for all the support!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 6-13 -- Read An E-Book Week!

I had no idea there was such a thing as a "Read an E-Book Week", but given that we have days to celebrate everything under the sun, this doesn't sound like a bad idea after all.

In fact, I think it is the perfect opportunity for new authors to get the proverbial foot in the door and introduce their books. Many people are scared to buy books from authors they haven't read before, and who can blame them? After all, $10 to $20 are a lot of money to spend on a book you know nothing about.

But what if that price is suddenly reduced to $2.99? While every penny counts, many people can afford to spend the equivalent of a high-end cup of coffee on a new book. Thanks to new technology such as Kindle and Nook, and even other applications that my grandmother would have affectionately labeled the devil's tools if she were alive, taking our chances with a new author has suddenly become easier.

If you are comfortable with that concept -- and if you are the proud owner of one of the gadget aforementioned -- I would like to invite you to take a look at my two titles. The first one is a nonfiction self-improvement, and it aims at guiding readers to declutter and reinvent their lives through the familiar concept of housekeeping (no don't have to clean anything physical), while the second one is a novel of paranormal suspense still holding a spiritual flavor. In the story, Melody Bennet travels far outside her comfort zone to the bayous of Southern Louisiana to honor her grandmother's dying wish. Little does she know that this journey will change her life forever...

So, here they are. The famous (or infamous) links are listed below. I hope you will take a chance at knowing more about me and about my work. Until we talk again, may you be blessed in all your endeavors, and may you always find what you're looking for. :-)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Go Read Sandra's Interview With Theresa Danley!

Please visit Theresa Danley's blogsite to read her interview with me:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Boundless Love -- A Short Story

Katie Sandler rubbed her sore wrists and grimaced, as her eyes slowly opened and her senses scrambled to process the place around her. The room smelled slightly moldy, but it looked fairly clean and updated otherwise. It was sparsely furnished and somewhat dark, with high ceilings that conferred an air of antiquity and one of two windows that opened in front of a wall separating two courtyards.
She couldn’t explain the dull pain in both her wrists, and brushed it off as she jumped out of bed and walked briskly to the other window to take in her first impression of the city she was going to call home, at least for some time. The pain had started the moment her plane landed at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. Katie blamed it on the weight of her carry-on luggage, though it was totally feasible that it could be caused by arthritis, a disease that had crippled her family for several generations. Surely, the humidity in this place could not be good for anyone suffering from arthritis – the air was wet and hot enough to boil a fly in midair, and Katie was grateful for the air conditioning in her hotel room.
This window overlooked Royal Street, and Katie felt a twinge of excitement at the thought of finally being here. She had always felt an attachment to New Orleans, though she never knew why, since she had no friends or family connections here. She dressed quickly in a pair of jeans shorts and a rust-colored shirt which brought out the gold in her hazel eyes, and flattered her olive complexion and dark curly hair. A touch of brick-colored lipstick and black mascara made her look well groomed without appearing too flashy; at barely five feet of stature and one hundred and five pounds, the last thing she wanted to do was to look like a miniature mask.
The moment she walked out of the hotel she was swallowed by a wave of humid heat, and she was thankful she hadn’t given in to her initial idea of straightening her hair. She still had several hours before going to her job interview, so she decided to pass the morning strolling around and flavoring the city. She was a bit nervous about the interview; though she was excited about this new chapter in her life, she was leaving everything behind -- her family, her old dead-end job, and every shred of security she had ever called her own – for a job taking care of an autistic child in a city at the other end of the country.
Life in New York hadn’t been exactly a fairy tale. The hustle and bustle of daily life had seemed thrilling at first when she moved to Manhattan with her new husband, but had quickly turned sour when he decided to walk out after only a year together, leaving her penniless and pregnant with their first child. She had struggled throughout the first three months of her pregnancy, unsure if she should have an abortion, but then her maternal instinct had taken over and she had chosen to have the baby, who was now ten years old and staying with Katie’s mother until Katie got settled into her new job. Her ex-husband didn’t come back for several years, until a few weeks ago, when he came back to New York with a new wife and a righteous attitude. Though she didn’t want to tell him about Jolene, Rick found out about their daughter on his own, and he was now threatening to sue for custody. Coming to New Orleans was a way to clear her thoughts and to get away from the air of New York which he had made putrid with his return.
The sound of a saxophone dusted her thoughts back to the present moment, and she noticed she had arrived in the center of a square right in front of a museum. It was still fairly early, but she could already see a few performers setting up their place of business for the day. Katie sat on one of the benches for a moment, and couldn’t help but being swept away by the charm of Jackson Square. The whole area was intriguing; the narrow streets laden with wrought-iron balconies adorned with hanging ferns spilled into the square, and the distinct aroma of strong coffee and beignets traveled on a carpet of warm, humid air.
It didn’t take long for Kate to feel exhausted in this type of weather – it was surely going to be a while before she got used to the torrid temperatures of the region.


“Come in, Ms. Sandler, please have a seat.”
Katie walked into the community resource office, feeling more as if she had walked into a cloud than into a room. The walls were white-washed and made even brighter by the unshielded sunlight pouring in from the large windows. A large fan whirred overhead, disturbing papers on the desk, and also the few hairs left on the head of her interviewer, a middle-aged man with thick glasses and an average face, his slightly overweight body stuffed into a grey suit that had seen better days.
Katie sat down and waited while the man – Mr. Armand was his name – perused her resume and job application.
“You understand this position will require that you remain with Etienne around the clock, Ms. Sandler. Etienne is autistic and unable to perform any mundane tasks at all. Normally, we would send assistance only for a short period each day, but the family is willing to pay your extended hours, as long as you can be a live-in aid.”
Katie nodded. “I understand, Mr. Armand, and I am perfectly ready for the task. As you can see from my job history, I have worked with autistic children before, and I find them fascinating to deal with.”
“Very well, then. Do you have any questions?”
“I do, actually. I have a ten-year-old daughter who is now staying with my mother in New York, but will be moving back in with me as soon as I get settled. Ms. Bouchard assured me it would be no problem for her to live with me at the house; I would like to confirm that.”
“Ms. Bouchard informed me of your situation, Ms. Sandler, and I checked with the family to make sure they are comfortable with the idea. They have no problem with it, and in fact they feel that it will be good for Etienne to be close to other children his own age. He is also ten years old.”
Katie felt a huge weight lift off her shoulders – the trip had been arranged hurriedly enough that she had not had the time to check back with Ms. Bouchard, the services coordinator. Mr. Armand stood up briskly and walked to a filing cabinet where he picked up a manila folder. “Here is some information about the child. The address is inside the envelope. You are expected tomorrow morning at 8am.”


The home was situated on Esplanade Avenue, on the side of the road adjacent to the Quarter and only a half mile walk from the market and the Mississippi river. Though it was close enough to her hotel to walk, she called a cab to help her transport her things. The home was Greek Revival style, and while the front door was only a few feet from the street, Katie detected a large, luscious courtyard in the back as she walked up the narrow pathway to the front porch. A young woman with dark, spaghetti-straight hair and small brown eyes opened the door and introduced herself as Etienne’s aunt.
“You must be Ms. Sandler. Please come in.”
The woman led Katie through a narrow hallway into a spacious and sunny room in the back of the house, where a small child was sitting at a desk furiously scribbling on a piece of white paper with an azure crayon. He didn’t look at Katie as she walked in, so she waited for Ms. Ramon to take the lead.
“This is Etienne, Ms. Sandler. He is mostly unaware of everything and anything. His temper is fairly mild, though he has spells that can be slightly unsettling.”
Katie nodded. Having worked with autistic children before, she was familiar with the characteristic behaviors.
“He loves to color, and we find that coloring calms him down when he is upset. He rarely draws anything that makes any sense, and only fills pages with different hues. In the kitchen you will find a schedule for his meals and a list of any medications he is taking regularly. Now, if you want to follow me, I will show you to your room.”
They went up a straight staircase to the second floor, and Katie was relieved to see that her room had two twin beds. She and her daughter could easily share this room.
“I will have the cab driver bring your things up for you. Is there anything you need, or do you have any questions?”
Katie wanted to ask where Etienne’s parents were, but she hoped to find that information in his case file inside the manila folder. “No, that’s all for now. I am going to go down and introduce myself to Etienne, if that’s okay.”


The first few days were a blur. Etienne was a sweet child, but his “spells” -- like his aunt had called them -- were certainly not occasional ones. Maybe because he was trying to adjust to his new caregiver, Etienne had filled a staggering amount of pages with colors of all shades. One of them appeared as shadows overlapping one another, almost depicting a mother and child hugging. Katie wondered what Etienne saw in his world.
Today was Katie’s day off, a Friday, and she decided to stroll to the nearby flea market. By the time she got there, the small market area was filled with vendors and tourists and she was a bit disappointed that most of the merchandise was made in China. In her heart of hearts, Katie had hoped to find something locally made, maybe even a genuine voodoo doll, but unfortunately it didn’t seem to be the right type of market.
She got a cup of coffee from a vendor and walked on, and suddenly she experienced something strange – the market looked different, and her wrists began to throb, but this time the pain wasn’t dull…sharp pangs of pain shot through her arms, her head began to spin, and she fell to her knees. When she looked up, she saw a man ready to strike at her. Her wrists were bound with rope behind her back, and the man slapped her as hard as he could on her left cheek. “Get up, it’s time to go!”
In the distance, she could hear a child cry…
“Are you okay, Miss?”
Katie opened her eyes, and saw a look of concern in the eyes of the man who had come to help her. Her coffee cup lay spilled at her feet, not too far from her purse. A nearby vendor was trying to convince a tourist to buy a Saints shirt.
Katie stood up quickly. “I am sorry…I’m not sure what happened. I felt dizzy and I can’t remember anything else.”
“If it can help,” the man said, “You were screaming at somebody to not take your baby.”
Katie thanked the man and walked away, embarrassed by the scene she had created, but still too confused to notice other vendors looking at her with puzzled looks painted on their faces.
She headed back to the house with a name ringing in the back of her mind…Henri.
Etienne was sitting as his desk as always, his little hands furiously saturating a page with a red crayon. Katie, still shaken by her ordeal, sat down with him and looked at the page. The silhouette of a brown boat seemed to loom on the red horizon.


“No! Don’t let him take my baby!!”
Katie looked on helplessly, as the judge banged his gavel and announced the end of the hearing. Her ex-husband had won, and she had lost her daughter. Several people moved around the courtroom like shadows, and she suddenly felt like she couldn’t breathe. She didn’t want to breathe – if they were going to take her child away, she wanted to die.
She sat on the bed, taking a loud drowning breath, and the room felt as if it was closing in around her. Her face was beaded with sweat, and she turned on the light while she still tried to control her breathing. She was relieved to see that she was in her room in New Orleans, not in a courtroom in New York; it was all just a dream, a nightmare to be exact. Katie got out of bed and went to check on Etienne. He was sleeping peacefully, thanks in part to the sleeping medication he had taken the night before. He looked very small in his big bed, and Katie felt a compulsive need to hug him, though she held back not to frighten him.
After checking on Etienne she walked downstairs to get a cup of tea, and carried the steaming cup to the small balcony overlooking the courtyard. The night was still. Even if occasional sounds could be heard in the distance, everything was eerily quiet.
She looked down at her wrists and saw a bruise on the right one – maybe she had fallen against something earlier that day at the market? She softly touched her cheek, and the scene she had witnessed in that strange moment came back. She immediately wanted to fight it and make it go away, but she didn’t. She saw herself being led away by the man who struck her, and forced to get on a boat. As the boat left the shore, she felt the pain of loss. Her child was left behind, taken away from her by someone who couldn’t possibly love him as much as she did. Her little Henri, one of the twins born from her relationship with her master was being claimed by Jacques’ barren wife as her own; he was, after all, very light in complexion, and he greatly favored his father. Though the Code Noir forbade children of slaves to be taken away from their mothers at a young age, the young mistress was unable to bear children, and Jacques needed an heir he could groom as his successor. Elise, his bride, could only accept the baby at her terms, so Marie was sent away, and sold to an American at the market along with her baby daughter, Henri’s sister.
Katie opened her eyes. Tears were streaming down her face, and her body shook with ancient sobs that had been trapped in her soul through incarnations. She knew nothing about Henri, and aside from the painful memory of another life in this very same world, she couldn’t remember anything more. Where did the man take her on that fateful day? And what kind of life did she lead after that? And, most important, why were these memories surfacing now?


Today Jolene was coming to New Orleans. Katie had missed her daughter terribly while they were separated, but they were finally going to be together again. She only hoped Jolene and Etienne would strike some semblance of a friendship.
She nervously twirled her hair with her fingers while she waited for the airport personnel to escort her daughter to her, and she broke into a huge smile when she saw Jolene’s face appear through the door of the gate.
They went back in a cab, since Katie didn’t have a car yet, and Katie was happy to see how relaxed Jolene was when she introduced her to Etienne. Her heart smiled.
The next few days, Jolene and Etienne seemed to really bond. Even if his condition prevented Etienne from speaking, Jolene seemed to understand him and know what he needed. Needless to say, Etienne’s family was very happy about the turn of events, and it warmed everyone’s heart to see that Jolene didn’t mind to sit with Etienne and color with him. Meanwhile, Katie had discovered the fate of Etienne’s parents – his father had died in a car wreck, and his mother, already struggling with mental illness prior to the loss of her husband, had completely lost touch with reality, and had been institutionalized after that. Etienne was alone, a prisoner in a special world with no doors.
Katie didn’t have any other memories or nightmares since the day she remembered losing her son Henri, and she was happy about that. She had no idea what it all meant, but she also knew that she was in a different life now, and she needed to remain anchored to this reality; for herself, and for her daughter Jolene.
Then, one morning, Jolene came to her.
“Mom, can I show you something?”
“Sure, Honey, what is it?”
“It’s a drawing Etienne and I made together. I drew it and Etienne colored the picture. What do you think?”
Katie took the paper from Jolene and her heart froze. The paper was folded in two, and each side depicted a different scene: The first scene showed a woman sitting on a boat, staring at the horizon and holding a small girl by the hand; the second one showed a little boy, alone in a pretty room; the little boy’s heart was bleeding, and a circle of dark colors had been traced around him. Henri and Corinne!
Katie felt faint. Her ears started buzzing loudly, and her heart sped out of control. Corinne…that was her daughter’s name…Henri and Corinne had come back as Etienne and Jolene, and they had found each other again across the boundaries of life and death. That was why the two had connected so easily – even Etienne’s autism was not strong enough to break a bond of love between twins.


“Katie, please call Rick. He continues to call here, asking to see his daughter. He is threatening legal action.” Katie’s mother sounded panic-stricken on the phone.
“I will, Mom. He really has some nerve banging on the door after so many years and expecting me to believe he turned into a doting father overnight.”
“I don’t think he did, Katie, but that wife of his…he says she can’t have children, and that Jolene is the only child he will ever father.”
Katie’s world stopped for a moment, as she tried to connect the dots. She hadn’t told her mother about her memories that had resurfaced, afraid that her mother would deem her insane, but it all seemed too coincidental. Jacques’ bride had been unable to bear children and she had claimed Marie’s as her own; because of that, Henri and Corinne had been separated, and Henri had lived his life locked into a world of grief from the loss of his mother and sister. Across the centuries, Rick’s wife was also unable to have children and wanted Katie’s daughter! It was all happening again, but this time to the opposite child, as a mirrored reflection of the first trauma.
Katie had to do something. “Give me his number, Mom. I am going to call him right away.”
She hung up the phone and tried to collect her thoughts. This was a different life, and she had many more rights now than she might have had as a slave a few centuries ago; this time she could fight for her children to be together.
Rick picked up at the third ring. “Hello.”
“Hello, Rick, it’s Katie…”
Rick was silent for a moment, then he cleared his throat and answered.
“Hi Katie. I have to say that I am a little surprised by this call.”
“Not as surprised as I am, Rick. And more than being surprised with myself, I am surprised with you, and your ridiculous expectations to take my daughter from me after years you have not even called.”
Rick sighed heavily.
“I am sorry, Katie, but I didn’t even know there was a daughter until I came back and looked you up. I called you at home one day, and your mother answered. She didn’t know it was me, and she said you had gone to pick up your daughter at school. I played along and asked what grade she is in now, pretending I knew of her, and your mother said she is ten years old, Katie. We were together when she was conceived.”
“The fact that you contributed to her existence does not make you her father, Rick.”
“You are right, but I am only asking to see her. I thought of all this, and I am not going to fight for custody. In fact, I don’t even know that Leslie and I will be married for much longer; things are not good. There is little love between us.”
Katie didn’t reply. Her heart had been broken so badly when he left her that she vowed to never leave herself open again.
“I know you got a job transfer, Katie. Could I just come and see you and Jolene?”
“I don’t live alone, Rick. I take care of an autistic boy, and we live in the family home with him.”
“That’s okay, Katie. Just for a day…please don’t say no. I will stay in a hotel nearby, and you can have all the time you need to explain who I am to Jolene.”
“I…Rick…I don’t know…”
“Please, Katie…just one day. For old times’ sake.”


The sun was ready to set when Katie, Jolene and Rick met for dinner on Decatur Street. They ate and talked, and though Jolene was probably still a bit confused, she seemed to be at ease and smiled a lot at both of them. After dinner they walked toward Bourbon Street, but Jolene said she was tired and asked to be taken back to the house. Rick asked Katie to walk with him a little longer, so they headed back toward the Quarter for a drink.
When they reached the intersection of Dumaine and Royal, Katie’s heel got stuck on something and she almost fell. Rick caught her. “I won’t let you fall, Marie. Finally our family is together, and no one will ever separate us again.”
Katie looked up in confusion and Rick was no longer there. She was no longer there. Her caramel skin sparkled under the street lanterns while Jacques held her in a starved embrace, and the love in his eyes held the anguish he had suffered through the centuries. “Come, my dear, our carriage is waiting…”

The Grace Card -- A Movie Review

If you are attracted by high-tech special effects and big Hollywood names, The Grace Card might not be the movie for you, but if you are interested in watching a film that’s profound enough to impact your own life, you definitely cannot afford to miss this wonderful film.
The Grace Card is being released this weekend, Feb 25-27 across the nation, and I seriously hope many will find it in their hearts to go watch it. Why, you probably wonder? The reason is simple: Our society is deeply divided and wounded, and The Grace Card offers a different approach to stop the bleeding.
Mac McDonald loses his young son in a tragic accident, and his life spirals down from that moment on. As years pass, his relationship with his family becomes strained, and his bottled-up angry feelings wash into his attitude at work, slowing down his progression in his career as a law enforcement officer.
As a final straw, Mac is forced by his superior to pair up with Sam, an African-American pastor who took the job as a police officer to pay the bills, though his true dream is to create a self-sustaining, full-time ministry.
There is little love lost between the two men, and their forced partnership triggers feelings neither of them are happy to face. They accept their shared task out of necessity, but even Sam struggles to understand why their paths intersected.
When tragedy strikes, the design becomes suddenly clear, and both men discover that nothing happens by mistake. In a breathtaking turn of events, they both realize that Divine Grace was at work the whole time to bring healing not just in their individual lives but, as a reflection, to the collective of society.
The Grace Card is a fantastic document on forgiveness and a powerful reminder that each of us is but a tile in the tapestry of life. A message most of us desperately need to acknowledge.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"The Narnia Code" -- A Movie Review

C. S. Lewis is best known among literary enthusiasts as the author of the famed Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven books that have captured the interest, and fueled the imagination, of young and old alike. But what do we know of the life of this charming writer?

Clive Staples Lewis was born in the late 1800’s in Belfast, Ireland. Since early childhood he was fascinated with the cosmos, and because of a series of traumatic events in his younger years, he increasingly retreated into his own imaginary world.

Because of his conversion from atheism to Christianity, it has previously been believed that some of his works, to include The Space Trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia, were overtly dealing with concepts such as redemption, sin and mankind’s fall from grace; Michael Ward, however, might have discovered otherwise.

Michael Ward, the author of the recently released book Planet Narnia, stumbled into a most intriguing doorway to the hidden meaning behind the beloved Chronicles of Narnia quite by accident, as he read one of C. S. Lewis’s works one night. The realization that he might have found something significant marked the beginning of a journey of discovery that culminated with a revelation which might shake the foundations of the ever popular novels. Extensive research supported the possibility that Michael Ward indeed cracked a code to enter into C. S. Lewis’s unbelievable mind, and his work has brought to surface a much deeper meaning no one before ever detected.

Michael Ward’s journey into the mind of C.S. Lewis is recorded in the documentary The Narnia Code, a documentary which tracks the discovery from its onset until the publication of the book. Fans of C. S. Lewis will surely be thrilled to hear that after so many years of timeless delight, the Chronicles of Narnia are going to surprise readers once again with a whole new twist.

The Narnia Code is a key to a new world – much larger and greater than Narnia itself.

Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions in this review are solely mine, and do not reflect those of the people involved in the making of the film. I am not receiving any kind of compensation for writing this review.