Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Moment With Charles Grodin

Reflecting during this Child Abuse Prevention Month, several themes from my own life have come to mind. Today I share with you a "light" memory - "light" in the sense that while an otherwise "heavy" lifelong theme, intimidation, is the basis for the event I write about, the concomitant behavior, and the response to it, have a humorous edge, one that makes me smile even today. And a very familiar talent graces the anecdote :)
I hope you enjoy...

Driving recently, listening to WCBS talk radio out of New York, I heard the spot of regular contributor, actor/author Charles Grodin. Typically less than a minute long, Grodin’s comments cover a wide range of topics, all thoughtful musings delivered in his unique way. I can’t say I’ve always agreed with the positions he’s proffered, but I’ve always taken the time to turn up the volume and listen. Just hearing his voice evokes a smile – no matter the topic – and calls up a moment in my memory, from almost 20 years ago, a moment a dear friend of mine once proclaimed was "your moment with Charles Grodin!"

Back then I was working at Klein's of Westport, a now-defunct store that, for years, had been a fixture on Main Street in the upscale Connecticut town. Klein's sold many things - office supplies, and stationery among them. It was also home to (prior to the burgeoning of Barnes and Noble and Amazon) a vital, well-respected book department. I’d had enough of my accounting career and so pursued, then accepted, an offer from the store’s book department manager for a job.

I loved it at Klein’s. Smack dab in the middle of Westport, with a grand window view of the bustling street, the environment was just the change I'd needed from my accounting life. There was the occasional off day, but overall working at the store was a welcome experience - a relief. I felt my emotional load lighten dramatically.

Part of the fun of working at the store was the parade of celebrity clientele. Donna Summer, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Connick, Jr., Linda Blair, Patty Hearst, Jose Feliciano (he'd jokingly asked for a copy of Playboy - in Braille) among them. Early one evening, Keith Richards came strolling in. Apparently, he'd parked behind the store and was cutting through, making his way to Main Street. Everything came to a standstill when we realized the rock icon was in our midst. He looked exactly like photos I'd seen over the years, every hard-living line etched on his evocative face. That was a cool moment.

Then there was Mr. Grodin. I’d seen him in the store once or twice and I’d taken note. He was much taller than I ever would have guessed (Wikipedia says he’s 6 feet tall). He’d thoughtfully meander through the books, often intensely examining an item or two. Once, he’d inquired of a co-worker about a particular title; when he left, she’d asked me to check its availability as she was leaving for the day. I did. When I discovered the book was no longer in print, I called the number she’d given me to let him know.

“Mr. Grodin?”
“Who’s this?”
“Hi, Mr. Grodin. This is Susan at Klein’s book department. I’m getting back to you about [can’t remember the title of the book]. I wanted to let you know it’s out of print. I'm sorry, but we cannot get it.”
“Okay. Well, thanks.”
“We just wanted to get back to you as soon as we could.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Thank you. Bye.”

So, even before "my moment" happened, Mr. G. and I had conversed. I'd managed my nerves. I'd handled it well: business-like, respectful. At times in my life, intimidation had gotten the better of me. Not this time. I’d gotten the job done.

So when he sauntered in one day and brought several books to the register for purchase, I should have been ready for him. Really. And I wasn't even the one doing the ringing, which would have required conversation - my co-worker was. My job was solely to gift wrap the books. No conversation necessary, just wrap.

There were a lot of books. When my co-worker was done ringing, I was still wrapping. Co-worker moved on to next customer. I kept wrapping. And the entire time I was wrapping, I wouldn't look up at him. I was shy. So self-conscious. Intimidation had smacked me over the head! I knew he was still standing right there in front of me, but I just could not bring myself to look up. At all. Even between books. Mr. G. said nary a word. I kept wrapping. Looking down and wrapping.

When I finally finished and I knew I had no choice but to look up at him, I did. And there he was, Charles Grodin, looking me straight in the eyes, with a Cheshire cat grin spread wide across his face. He knew I had to look eventually...and this was that moment! Seeing his grin and the glint in his eye, I just could not keep from letting out a laugh. And a “thank you.”

In Memory and In Honor

Thinking of all those affected by events one year ago today in Boston. Stay . We remember and support you.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Little Bit of Wisdom...

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~ Rumi

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Psychology Magazine defines "resilience" this way: "Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever." Yep...with an intact heart and a much clearer lens.
Grateful for all good things...time to make it a great day. Hope yours is great, as well.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Have NOT Authorized Any PDF Downloads Of "Kisses From Dolce"

It has just come to my attention that a website, calling itself Qwedbooks, is offering, for a fee, pdf downloads of my book and others. I cannot speak for any other author, but I have NOT authorized anyone other than Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Trafford Publishing to sell my book. The Qwedbooks website, which has a root address at vfrbooks.com, requests credit card information from anyone seeking to access my book - do not give them any of your personal or financial info. My attorneys are taking care of this on my end; I feel it necessary to warn you all about this scam.
Thank you.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

On His 205th Birthday

 "Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm."  
~ Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

President Lincoln had many things about which to stand firm, not the least of which was slavery. He clearly put his feet in the right place. His actions changed our culture and our country forever.
What do you stand firm about?
Put your feet in the right place and stand firm against child sexual abuse. Use your time to learn what it takes to keep kids safe, then use your voice to speak out and educate others. It's not all that hard to do.
Visit Darkness To Light - take a 2 hour training - in person or online. Many of the trainings are offered free of charge, like those we offer at the Old Colony YMCA in Massachusetts.
You can also visit Stop It Now and peruse their extensive resources.
Read, learn, share, discuss - that's what it takes to stand firm against abuse.
Put your feet in the right place; let's change our culture, our country, our world forever. Our children deserve it.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Puppy Love"

I know, I know...it's a beer commercial! But....it just makes me smile! I love the little guy marching so tall, strutting his stuff as he leads the Clydesdale pack at 0:48. I especially love the little slurp at 0:14...after all, I am partial to a slurp from a little doggie.
Mostly, though, I love this because, as a soon-to-be-published great writer I'm very close to once wrote, "the heart wants what it wants." Ain't that the truth.
Enjoy :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

So Long, Little Muse

 “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
~ Will Rogers

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” 
~ Mark Twain

“Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.” 
~ Pablo Neruda

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”
~ Charles Schulz

"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."
~Ben Williams

Goodbye, sweet Dolce...and thanks. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Five Years

This past week marked five years since I published "Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting and Telling." Launched with events both in Massachusetts and Connecticut, my little self-published book was off to an exciting, meaningful start. I had, and still do have, great support from so many people.

Not long after the book's release, I received an interview request from reporter Eileen Fischer of The Connecticut Post.  With an illustrated front page teaser that featured my main character, Sophia, the resultant article was everything I had hoped it would be. You can read my original post about that article here.  My interview with Eileen was quite extensive, yet I found myself floored when I read these words:

"three years ago, during one of her frequent visits to Fairfield, where she grew up, Hausman met a sweet Italian greyhound named Dolce, that changed her life."

"That changed her life!" Wasn't that a bit dramatic, I'd thought? After all, I'd never used those words, not in the interview or anywhere else. Ever. But, as time wore on and, especially now, from this 5 year vantage point, I believe she'd been correct. Though I'd already spent years fighting the good prevention fight, partnering with Darkness To Light and educating hundreds of adults, "Kisses From Dolce" broadened my path considerably: new people, new programs, new initiatives. Not to mention what it had brought to my own healing journey. When the book's words tumbled out of me and I read them aloud, I understood them immediately as a metaphor for my own road. That is its own incredible story.

So now, here I was, helping others not just to prevent, but to feel courageous enough to stand up and speak out. Clearly, Ms. Fischer had heard in my story that which I could not yet recognize.

As months passed, there were reading events, speaking engagements, interviews by a variety of media. I was approached, often, by survivors eager to move along the prevention/response message and, often, also, to soothe themselves. Numerous people bought multiple copies, usually to distribute to community venues - libraries, schools, doctor's offices - but also to their loved ones. I noticed a heightened sensibility from older survivors regarding their youngest family members. They wanted to offer what had never been offered to them: a voice. They still do.

I documented many of the precious experiences I had in the wake of the book's release here on the blog:



But, to this day, one of the deepest, most meaningful post-publication moments came when a young girl, no older than 10 or 11, came up to me after a speaking event, while I was signing books. I knew she'd been gifted a copy in weeks prior as the purchaser had received permission from the girl's mother both to purchase and for me to inscribe. The young lady approached, and, suddenly, with a ferocity that belied her lithe build, she grabbed me and hugged me... and hugged and hugged and hugged. To this day I can recall the intensity. No words were uttered; no words were necessary. THIS was the quintessential expression of why "Kisses From Dolce."

I had always said when creating the book that if it helped just one child, one person, it would have been worth it. There truly are no adequate words to capture where the book and the surrounding experiences resonate with me. In fact, I began a draft of this post two weeks ago, in anticipation of the anniversary; it's taken edit after edit to come even somewhat close to my intention.

All I know is this: that little doggie, that little slurp, the inspiration and tenacity to make the book a reality, the overwhelming compassion and support - both before and after publication - the response in the years since "Kisses From Dolce's" release are a continual reminder of why...and purpose...life's challenges and mysteries. It's been an awesome journey. It for sure has changed my life...and I will forever be grateful. Thank you all.

"Kisses From Dolce: A Book for Children About Trusting and Telling" is available for purchase at Amazon or directly from me at KissesFromDolce@gmail.com.