My Pilgrimage to the Ironbound

blog pic april 26th

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019. 

I had an enlightening morning today. My father worked in an area known as the Ironbound section of Newark for nearly forty years. Shortly after he retired, my family and I realized that he was going through something because he began behaving erratically and drove our family crazy for months before we figured out his catastrophic diagnosis. Upon revealing his diagnosis of dementia, our family was devastated but we weren’t exactly familiar with the disease. We were unsure of its progression, we were uncertain of his prognosis; we were basically left in the dark. With each passing month, we become more knowledgeable and educated ourselves on his illness. A lot of what we learned was from witnessing it first hand. There really was no appropriate preparation for what was to come.

Before my father was diagnosed with dementia, my family was pretty much estranged from him. Even though we all lived in the same house as him, my father was a private man and preferred to live his life separately from everyone else. Because dementia is all-consuming and requires round the clock care, this introduced us to a whole other side of my father we never really knew. I realized that I never really fully knew this man I called my father. Not because I did not want to, mind you, but because as I said he wanted it that way. He had his job in the Ironbound, his clubs and organizations that he was a part of, he had his writing and art that he would pursue on evenings and weekends. He would travel and drive around areas alone and we were none the wiser. Since his illness, we became so intimately familiar with our father that it was as if we entered a rabbit hole, an endless fountain of knowledge and information about him, some unsavory, but for the most part, we learned of some things he was interested in that we never knew about.

Today I met with an amazing woman who is well-respected and revered at the Luso-Americano newspaper and discussed my children’s book which I wrote in his honor: My Pápá and Me: A Children’s Book About Our Journey With Dementia. It was so nice speaking to someone who knew my father well. I could almost feel his presence in that building. My father, once notoriously known for how well-dressed he always was, proud and confident in himself walking into the newspaper building and talking away with all of these fine people. It was so comforting to know that he was well remembered. A big motivator for me writing my latest children’s book was to ensure that nobody forgot about my father. He was so important for so many years in the Ironbound community and then he disappeared into the ether and not many people knew about what happened to him. Many abandoned him, some called about him in the beginning but then very quickly it was as if my father ceased to exist. That didn’t sit well with me. As complicated as our relationship was towards the end of his healthy years, I would never want his legacy to fade. My children’s book was essentially my way of coping with this devastating situation my family and I have been dealing with for the past six to seven years. It has been a long, torturous, and highly emotional road for us all. Our goal and mission are to make damn well sure that my family receives the best possible care for him and that he is remembered for his positive contributions to society. I may not have known this side of him well but it was clear from my interview today that he was respected and that provided me with reassurance.

I know that I will continue advocating for others going through similar circumstances. This disease is tragic and heartbreaking. So many times I sit and think about telling my father about all of my accomplishments in writing and I wonder what he would have thought about it. I try not to romanticize his reactions too much because prior to his illness our relationship wasn’t the strongest. But I’ve gotten to know this version of my father and I can honestly say he is lovely and sweet and we currently have the best relationship that we have had since I was a little girl. I have actually read my children’s book to him and he gave me a thumbs up and told me in Portuguese that it was good. I thought his reaction was sweet and heartwarming. This was not exactly the same as if I were to have shown my dad prior to his illness but I accept that. Our family loves him and are fiercely protective of him. I will continue watching out for him and I will continue to fight to ensure that each day he is met with the dignity and respect he deserves. His legacy will persevere. I will make sure of that.

If you are interested in purchasing any of my work, you can always check out my Amazon Author Page here. (click on the orange link).

You can also click on any of the pictures below to order any of my books, audiobook, or music.

My novella, A Wynter’s Tale, is also now available as an audiobook and is featured on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes! If you are interested, you can order my audiobook here. (Click on the orange link above for the audiobook!)

wynters-tale-outside-cover

Thank you very much to everyone who has already purchased my work in the past. Please make sure to leave a review and let me know what you think of my work! I appreciate you all always coming back and returning to read my blogs and to visit me on social media. I am continuously humbled and honored to have you all be a part of The Moonlit Goddess tribe!

The Balloon Launch

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

One of my most vivid memories as a child which also happens to be one of the most environmentally reckless decisions my elementary school had ever made was the balloon launch my school did on Halloween when I was in Kindergarten. I remember those cheesy trash bag cheapy Halloween costumes we used to buy in the 80s. I was Mickey Mouse that year. I remember entering Kindergarten was such a hard time for me because I was so horribly shy and anxious and I was always nauseous and gagging from my anxiety and I just hated being in school that first year. For some reason, this event was what helped solidify my position in school and made things seem not as dire as they had been at the beginning of the school year.

I grew up in Yonkers, New York. I went to a Catholic school for nine years (K-8th). The walk from my school to the nearest park was short so our entire school walked over to the local park with a balloon in hand. The balloon had a note attached. The note contained our names and the address of the school with a letter stated if found send us a letter. So when they blew the whistle it was our cue to release the balloon and watch the multitude of colored, helium-filled plastic ascend into the air. Their final destination was unknown. Whether they got wrapped around trees, or eventually descended into ponds, and lakes, damaging living beings’ eco-systems, or less likely landing by people, one would never know.

I remember how naïve and foolish I was then, and even now. I was very Catholic and I believed in all the teachings we were taught in school. I remember foolhardily wishing that my letter would be found and that I’d be the one who would get the letter sent to my school. I remember the ridiculous daydreams I’d have about it in class. Having my name called from the P.A. system. Me proudly walking down to the office to claim my letter of victory. “Ha, Ha! Suckers! My letter was found and yours wasn’t!”

But that victorious day never came. There were only two students in the whole school who got letters sent to them and of course, mine wasn’t one of them. Of course, it had to be someone from my class who was chosen and then one other from another grade that was chosen as well.

That Halloween, in general, was ill-fated. My Mickey Mouse costume did not make it the entire day. My older brother, who was a lot older than I was, walked me around our apartment complex and took me trick or treating and we didn’t make it past two apartments because as he was holding my hand in such a hurry because he was so mad to be trick or treating with his baby sister, I tripped and fell down the stairs ripping my costume straight down the middle. Hysterically crying, my brother now mortified, dropped me off to my mother and then he went off with his friends.

This was my first real experience with being let down by holidays. Yesterday, Easter Sunday, I reminisced on all the past Easters my family and I had celebrated together and I realized how lackluster all holidays have become as an adult. You romanticize how things should really be and how they used to be. The new spring dresses, the pastel colors, the dyed eggs, the daffodils and tulips, the cherry blossoms, the birds chirping, the bees buzzing, the Easter bunny, the endless chocolate, the money gifts from relatives, the train of people coming in and out of your house, the long-ass masses we used to endure when we were practicing Catholics. Now, even though all those things still exist around us, they just don’t bear any meaning. That could also be the depression talking, but I just find it not as exciting and just feels like just another day to me. What I’m left with is the memories of all the past holidays. Every Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and so on where all of my family happened to be young and healthy and had the illusion of happiness and gratitude.

That Kindergarten Halloween was memorable to me not because I unceremoniously tumbled down hard clay tiled stairs successfully tearing off my entire costume Hulk-style. That Halloween was memorable because of that balloon launch. The explosion of colors, the anticipation, and excitement being a part of something greater than myself. That was the first time I felt like I was a part of the community around me. I felt included. I felt like I belonged. Now, as a jaded adult, I’m left to my own devices more than not. People only come around when they need me for something not because they actually want my company or attention. I’ve seen and done it all and I just don’t feel that magic anymore. No Technicolor, no enchantment, no hopes and dreams of a brighter future. This is it. All I have left are the memories of the colors, excitement, and that feeling in my stomach of anticipation and excitement. All I have to show for my Easter is a hollowed out feeling sitting in this chair in my “Stay Golden” Golden Girls t-shirt wondering if this is all I have left.

wynters-tale-outside-cover

On a brighter note, I want to thank everyone who has purchased a copy of my new audiobook for my novella, A Wynter’s Tale, so far. Please don’t forget to leave a review after you have listened to my book. I am so grateful to each and every one of you. Thanks for always coming back to keep reading my blogs, buying my work, listening to my podcasts and saying hi to me on social media. I haven’t been posting as often as I know I should. I have been trying to be present for my father. I don’t know how much time he has left, so the moments I have with him where he is having good days means that much more to me. I am happy to report that I am currently working on my next project. This work is a little more involved and I am hoping for a July 2019 release. So I am always plugging away at some new project. For those of you who are interested, you may purchase my audiobook in the orange link below (Just click on the orange link of your country of origin). Thank you all again! I hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter yesterday, to those who celebrated. Whatever you happen to celebrate, as always, I wish you all much happiness and good health!

The audiobook for A Wynter’s Tale (Written by PSG Lopes, Narrated by Chris Kenworthy): Available through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes!

US: A Wynter’s Tale Audiobook

UK: A Wynter’s Tale Audiobook

FR: A Wynter’s Tale Audiobook

DE: A Wynter’s Tale Audiobook

The Audiobook for A Wynter’s Tale is Now Available Through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes!

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

Here we are in April 2019! I feel like I have a lived a thousand lifetimes this year and we are only three and a half months into the new year! So much has happened to me personally and with family, and instead of dwelling on negatives in life I chose to turn my life around in a positive manner and got to work on several projects which are only the beginning for me this year!

Here is yet another accomplishment for me this 2019, so far! Thank you to everyone who is consistently viewing my website and reading my blogs and listening to my podcasts and has always been a beacon of light in the darkness. Your constant encouragement and praises are what motivates me to try harder and to keep going!

NOW AVAILABLE IN THE AUDIBLE, AMAZON, and iTunes apps: My first audiobook for my novella, A Wynter’s Tale! It is narrated by voice-over artist Chris Kenworthy! I am so proud of this work and having my work created as an audiobook has been a dream of mine for a long time! I am so happy to see it come to fruition! It is available now for $14.95 on the above platforms! I hope that you all enjoy!

Click the following orange links below to get your copy of my audiobook in the various platforms:

Audible: A Wynter’s Tale Audiobook via Audible!

Amazon: A Wynter’s Tale via Amazon!

iTunes: A Wynter’s Tale via iTunes!

 

A Wynter’s Tale is also available in paperback and Kindle Editions! Click on the picture below if you are interested in buying a physical copy of my novella!

Read-Aloud of My New Children’s Book: My Pápá and Me: A Children’s Book About Our Journey With Dementia (Podcast)

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

Hello, everyone! Please listen to this week’s podcast where I discuss and perform a read-aloud of my latest children’s book: My Pápá and Me: A Children’s Book About Our Journey With Dementia, discuss updates and latest projects, and more!

Thank you so much to all who continue to visit my blog, purchase all my books, listen to my podcasts, and just overall offer their emotional support. You all are amazing and I cherish each and every one of you!

Enjoy the podcast and hope you all have a fabulous and restful weekend!

Listen here to this week’s podcast: PSG Lopes/The Moonlit Goddess Podcast on Anchor

 

April Updates!

blog photo april 3rd 2019

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

It has certainly been a while since I have last blogged about anything in particular. This past winter has been hectic, to say the very least!

Between the new year’s eve debacle, the torturous January that followed, being sick this past February with the flu and having both my parents afflicted with the flu, my dad being hospitalized with both the flu and pneumonia and spending his 76th birthday with strangers, our family being prepared for the worst thinking this was the end for my father, the stairs of the attic completely crumbling and not having access to my office or bedroom for a few weeks while my younger brother and brother from another mother created all new stairs, all contributed to my absence from the blogging realm.

2019 hasn’t all been bad! On a much brighter note, my father is doing very well, thankfully! He is situated in our living room with a fully functional hospital bed. He eats well, he enjoys reading magazines, he watches television, and he is able to answer simple questions and has become more verbal over the weeks since he’s been home from the hospital. Aside from the obvious afflictions that come with advanced dementia he is doing remarkable! There are still things that need to be taken care of, he’s obviously still in physical and mental decline and there’s no way of knowing when the end will occur. He has good days and bad days, but he can still laugh and still smiles and can still interact with us and that has been a huge blessing for my family!

Also occurring this year so far, I have released my third poetry anthology: Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3: The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear, which has been featured in my town’s local newspaper, and I finally released my new children’s book: My Papa and Me: A Children’s Book About Our Journey With Dementia. I decided to do a meaningful children’s book. It’s a simple poem illustrating what I went through when I found out my dad was sick. It is said in simple language and does not get into too much detail and is meant for children of all ages to learn and understand about this treacherous illness that their families may be experiencing themselves with a loved one. With every piece I create, I vow to not be frivolous with my writing and to write with purpose and meaning. I see so many ridiculous children’s books out there about topics like farting and other crude topics and I just feel that books are like food for the soul. You wouldn’t want your child eating junk, so why feed your child’s mind with junk, too? They deserve to read meaningful and powerful literature to inspire them and nurture their souls. That was my intention with my latest children’s book.

This piece was a real labor of love. It took weeks to get it all together and to finalize the formatting. I laughed to myself thinking I’d do a children’s book next after the poetry anthology because I thought it would be an easy venture. So many things went wrong during the production of this book and it dragged on many weeks more than I had originally planned. I am happy it is all said and done and the book is now fully released. I am pleased with the end results and am looking forward to my next projects in the upcoming weeks!

Another interesting opportunity that I got involved in this year, is the creation of the audiobook version of my novella, A Wynter’s Tale. I was presented with an opportunity to turn my novella into an audiobook and I set up an advertisement to do so and the lovely, incomparable Chris Kenworthy was gracious enough to accept my proposal for the audiobook and now the audio production of my novella is one other feather in my cap added to my work portfolio. I am super excited for its release and I will inform you all when it is finally available and will give all of the information on how to order your copy of the audiobook. It has been two years since I have released A Wynter’s Tale and I have learned so much about myself as a person, as a writer, as an artist, and I have pushed myself farther than I ever imagined I was capable of going. I am so proud of myself for continuing on and creating new pieces for everyone to enjoy. Each day I am blessed to present new works that demonstrate the varying aspects of the human condition and how we can all be better people if we all just work together. Thank you, Chris, for doing a phenomenal job bringing Wynn and Linda to life!

I realize my podcasts have fallen by the wayside as well over the past few weeks and I will resume podcasting this coming Friday. I will be doing a read-aloud of My Papa and Me. So stay tuned for that!

I also have my Goodreads page all updated. If you are interested in adding me through there, just click here.

Another thing that has gotten me through the painful start of 2019 is playing Pokemon Go. I am not much of a gamer, per se. I do play Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo 3DS. I am also looking forward to the new Animal Crossing that is supposedly going to be released later this year through the Nintendo Switch. I have also played Pokemon on the 3DS during the Sun and Moon and Ruby and Sapphire eras. I played Pokemon Go for the first time in 2016 with my siblings. There were so many bugs throughout the game’s launch that we couldn’t stand it anymore and stopped playing.

This past Christmas, my sister renewed her interest and told my siblings and me how good it became and we all got into it again. What was so life-changing about this game was that I went through such a dark time this past winter with my breakup and my father being ill that I just didn’t want to leave the house. I just wanted to stay nestled in my room all day and I simply wasn’t living my life to it’s fullest. I mean, yes, I was able to function in terms of eating and sleeping and getting on with my daily responsibilities in terms of the house’s upkeep, taking care of my cats, and my father’s daily care, but I stopped caring about myself in the process. I literally would not wash my hair for weeks, not do my laundry, I would stay in the same clothes and I just was simply existing. I would breathe air involuntarily. I ate and drank to live and derived no pleasure in it. My world was gray.

By playing this simple game on my phone, it rejuvenated my will to live. I started wanting to leave the house again. I started caring about my appearance and started fixing my hair and my makeup again. I started wearing more clothes that I have in the closet other than the one green dress I wore on repeat because I just didn’t have the physical strength to go looking for another outfit. My family and I even found this amazing park that is a joy to play in because of the amazing wildlife and scenery, and also because there’s so much valuable gameplay in this particular area. All of this together has made life worthwhile once more for me.

The game is complex, it’s designed for everyone to enjoy. I appreciate the challenge and how it’s essentially a world-wide scavenger hunt. I like that it encourages people to get exercise and to leave their house. I like that it is a community-building game where you can make friends out of strangers. There are many friendly faces we have met along the way since we started playing and it is nice to see that this little game can bring so many people together especially during such a tumultuous time for our country. I know you’ll always find a friend when you know they play Pokemon Go. Regardless of any perceived differences, the game brings people together and that’s why I really love it. For anyone who plays, if you’re interested in adding me as a friend, my friend code is: 5019 3681 8101. My name in Pokemon Go, of course, is MoonlitGoddess. That’s how you’ll know it’s me.

On a final note, if you are interested in buying either my children’s book or my latest poetry anthology, just click on the picture links below. My children’s book, My Papa and Me: A Children’s Book About Our Journey With Dementia is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats ($12, $5, respectively). My poetry anthology: Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3: The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear, is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats ($25, $9, respectively).

I want to thank everyone for continuing to come back and read more about me and what is happening in my life. I appreciate each and every one of you. Thanks to everyone who has purchased my book in the past and recently. It means so much to me! I will let you all know when the audiobook comes out for A Wynter’s Tale. I am super excited about this latest addition to my writing repertoire and I look forward to hearing what you all think about it! I wish you all a wonderful week ahead!

My Response to The Current College Admissions Scandal

blog pic march 13thALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2019.

By now everyone has heard the latest scandal on the news involving certain celebrities bribing college officials and testing officials guaranteeing the entrance of their children into prestigious schools. Although this may appear shocking to some, given the particular celebrities that were mentioned in the scandal, I, for one was not that shocked. I feel that this has been going on for generations. It was always quite apparent to me that some celebrities use their wealth and status to get into Ivy League schools. I see all the time that actors will pursue their college degrees in between acting gigs and will have bachelors from Yale or Harvard or another top-tiered school. When I hear certain celebrities have bachelor degrees in psychology from Yale I am not very impressed because I know that their status factored in on how they got in. The lines have always been blurred as to how many actually got in by merit. Who wouldn’t want a big named celebrity going to their school? What great business that is to have a prestigious individual serve as an alumnus in your institution!

Now, I’m not saying this about every celebrity. I am certain that many do work hard for their degrees and their passions but I am certainly skeptical when I see a celebrity’s child’s educational background and wonder how much was merit and how much was status or monetarily motivated.

One thing I do, that I really should stop doing, is read the comments on posts highlighting certain news announcements. The comments really boil my blood. I understand that there are so many varying opinions, what I am offended by is the close-mindedness of people who are so quick to identify things in a clear cut black or white manner. They never consider that gray area. Situations are never identical. You have socio-economic status, familial structures, educational backgrounds, and other matters to consider. The conversations in the comment section veered away from the topic at hand and became a conversation about the usefulness of education and what a waste certain majors are in terms of finding fruitful employment post-graduation.

We are raised believing that going to school when you’re young, then going to a four-year college, getting married, having kids, buying a home and a car, while earning a paycheck at a traditional nine to five position is the only effective form of living. This is perceived as “the norm.” Imagine if everyone thought that way? There would be no actors, musicians, comedians, artists, photographers, or other entertainers out there. And if everyone opted for a four-year school there would be no military personnel or trade workers either. Some people thrive thinking outside the box. Everyone has a place in this world and every single person on this planet deserves to feel fulfillment. That person defines fulfillment for themselves.

Few things boil my blood more than when people mock someone who pursued a major in English, Psychology, Liberal Arts, etc. Education is never a waste. Granted, I feel that every college should properly guide students who do choose such a major and inform them of the appropriate path for each major. It should be presented as a dichotomous key.

Do you want to be an English Major? Yes. What do you see yourself doing with this major? Teacher. Then proceed. If you say you want to be an English major but aren’t sure how to proceed then that student should be given opportunities to do internships, enroll in seminars, and engage in other programs offered by the college to expose them to all of the job opportunities that they can do with that major. If they want to become a published author, or work in advertising or do copywriting, or be an editor, or whatever their skills could be used for there should be transparent information provided for the students so that they are properly prepared and given some hope post-graduation.

The same is true for majors like psychology. I was a psychology major as an undergraduate. I admit that I was an absolute hot mess coming out of college at twenty-one. I had no direction and no guidance and I figured everything out on my own. I realized fast that my degree was pointless and I did try to go back to school for a masters in social work but I didn’t get into the programs that I applied for at the time so I dropped pursuing that path altogether and went into education. Not everyone is meant for education; however, and no matter how much I wanted to pretend to be normal like everyone else, I just couldn’t squeeze myself into societal’s mold they had for me. I knew right away as a child that I was different from everyone else. I was more artistically inclined was not interested in striving towards a traditional path. But I lacked direction and ambition in my youth. I was a dreamer. The traumas of my childhood enveloped me into this safety blanket nestling me from outside exposures. My mind protected myself for so long from the elements of the cruel outside world that I was just not prepared for life post-graduation. I recognized right away that the world was certainly fast-paced and you had to be aggressive if you wanted to find a place in the world. I just wasn’t that type of person to run people over to get what I wanted out of life. I always believed that the proof was in the pudding. If you do a good job and people witness that then you should be offered a position. Merit should matter much more than status.

Now, nearing my forties, I have stopped trying to hide behind the shadows of others and finally am forging my own path. Would everyone agree with my path? Certainly not! What is good for the goose, may not always be good for the gander. But it’s also not anyone’s place to judge.

You had a great childhood with two loving, supportive parents who got you a car at seventeen and paid for your college and you now have a nice cozy job in the city and found a spouse at twenty-three and are now married with kids and live in your own house, blah, blah, blah. Good for you. That’s not everyone’s path. Not everyone was built to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, etc. You can’t judge someone’s experience based on your own good fortunes.

I don’t make excuses for myself. I outline the reasons that things occurred the way they did for me. I had no one to guide me. I had no money to pursue things the “right” way. I had to pay for my own education, my own textbooks, my food, and clothing, etc. I was left to my own devices and had to learn about life on my own. Therefore, I made a lot of mistakes, I learned about life on the streets from different types of people. I was naïve and foolish and idealistic. Yes, I made so many mistakes throughout my adulthood, but they’re my mistakes to make and I learned so much from them. As painful as my mistakes were, the life lessons were priceless and I wouldn’t substitute any of my experiences for anything. Do I have regrets? Absolutely! If I could go back in time I would make changes where I could. I don’t enjoy being poor and doing things the hard way. I would do one of a few things. I would either pursue my masters and Ph.D. in psychology right away after my bachelors and be a psychologist. I would have convinced myself that risk-taking is a part of life and that if one school rejected me that there were others to pursue and to not give up so easily. By the time I did go back to school for my masters and Ph.D. in my thirties I wasn’t interested in psychology anymore and decided to pursue degrees in business administration. If I could go back, I would definitely have chosen to go to a brick and mortar school for my masters and Ph.D. and not do the online route that I did. I hadn’t realized what a negative reputation online schools would have by the time I was done with schooling. If I had gone the brick and mortar route, I probably would have gone into accounting or something that would have gotten me a traditional job.

At this point; however, sitting at home regretting my past mistakes is not helpful and is borderline destructive. I have learned that instead of lamenting on all of my past mistakes and all of my life choices, I have chosen to instead highlight all of the positive things I have done. I choose to recall all of the positive contributions I have made to society, all the lives I have touched. I choose to remember my former students telling me that I was the best teacher they ever had because I was different, in a good way. I choose to think of my former colleagues at my old high school where I worked for seven years and how they are all reading my novella, A Wynter’s Tale, and constantly ask my sister when the next novella is coming out because they loved reading my book so much. I choose to think of my poetry, my novella, my children’s book, and my music that I was able to produce because of all of my past choices. I choose to be grateful to be at home with my dad during his final months with dementia instead of the opportunities I could have taken had I moved out of state or out of the country. I am a firm believer in the sentiment that everything happens for a reason.

My path may not be easily understandable to most people out there but it’s what works for me and it’s all I know. I finally feel that I am on the right path. It is certainly slow-moving but I have learned so much and have improved as a writer and artist and have learned so much about myself as an individual. I follow my own path. I don’t feel compelled to fit into molds others have forged for me. I will never be perceived as “normal.” I’m the trailblazer and I forge my own paths in life and create my own trends.

As William Ernest Henley wrote in his poem Invictus, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” My life is not yours to make sense of. All I ask is that you don’t pass judgment of others when you don’t understand their situation. People are complex and things in life aren’t black and white. What worked for you may not work for others and that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. Enjoy your successes. Everyone has goals they set for themselves. One version isn’t more correct than another’s chosen path. It’s all about respect and empathy in my book.

These Past 3 Weeks

blog pic march 8 2019

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

2019 has proven to be one of the most harrowing years of my entire life. I have endured quite a bit over the years but I always seem to be outdone by even greater and more severe challenges. Just when I fear that I can no longer handle what is being handed to me, I finally, FINALLY, see the light at the end of that very, very long tunnel.

I thought new years was bad, but these past three weeks were simply the worst experience I have endured to date. First, I get the flu and bronchitis, then my father, mother, and brother all get it as well. My father, having advanced dementia, was strongly advised to get the flu and pneumonia vaccine this season. We took him to our local pharmacy and he received both vaccines in November. These vaccines gave us this false sense of security because regardless of these vaccines, my father received both the flu and pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. Granted, we were told that there was no guarantee even with the vaccine but it was definitely absolutely ridiculous how he got both back to back and it was such a severe case he was in the hospital for almost a week. He even had to spend his 76th birthday in the hospital!

My family was absolutely inconsolable. Watching my father struggle with fever, cough, sneezing, being in and out of consciousness, was so heartbreaking to witness. Once he arrived at the hospital, they gave me him fluids and Tamiflu. After his week at the hospital was done, we noticed some drastic changes to his behavior.

Dementia is one of the most unpredictably cruel diseases I have ever had the misfortune of observing for the past six to seven years. My father was always a man on the go. He was always working. He was a full-time math teacher during the day, he taught night school and worked at a community college on the weekends. The man always had plans, always was out the door and we barely saw him. During the summer months, he would socialize with his creative art groups in the city where he worked and kept himself occupied. This was the father I knew as an adult. As a kid, we didn’t see him much either; however, because we were young, he would make it a point to do some trips with my siblings and I whether it was to the movies, apple picking, the beach, the park, etc. These events didn’t happen often, but he tried when he had the time.

When my father retired, he became a completely different person. His behavior was erratic, he became clumsy, he became aggressive, violent, and made many foolish decisions. As an adult, I didn’t really know my father well aside from the hi’s and byes and light dinner conversations. I didn’t really hang out with him much. I considered myself pretty much estranged from him. So when these things were going on in my dad’s life, I just assumed it was because he couldn’t adjust well to retirement. I figured he was so busy his entire life and the shock of retirement was just too much for him. But the chaos became greater, the insanity of the events involving my father became so grand scale that as a family we knew it was time to intervene. We did everything we could from allowing his driver’s license to lapse and having his car towed, to other measures to guarantee his safety.

During the beginning phases of his dementia, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer as well. My father was very fortunate to still be healthy enough mentally to be properly treated and has since been in remission. We took him to the neurologist and he’s had MRIs and they had told us he suffered from a series of mini-strokes. There was no way of knowing when they occurred or how often they occurred. As a result of these mini-strokes, his brain shrunk significantly causing the dementia. They said he had a mixture of vascular- type dementia and Alzheimer’s-type dementia. I remember one of the last things the neurologist told my brother at the end of the office visit after diagnosis was that we were in for years of heartache. He certainly was not kidding.

Over the years since dad’s diagnosis, we have had to become smarter and sneakier and wiser and always tried to keep one step ahead of my father. He would sneak out of the house and walk the streets of our town and be gone for hours and we would have to call for help. He would touch all the kitchen items and make himself “food” made out of napkins and milk. He would try to feed our cats saucers of dish soap. He would pace and wander all night in his bedroom not remembering he had to sleep. We went from doctor to doctor until we finally found one with the compassion and empathy to guide us and my father through each stage. She has been an absolute blessing and up until now, she has prepared us for what was next to come.

When dad came home from the hospital, my siblings and I were shell-shocked watching dad’s newest transition of this distressing illness. Dad lost his speech, he looked at us like we were public enemy number 1, and he refused to eat or drink anything. We all came to terms with the fact that this may very well be the end. He may need hospice care and it may be time for us to finally accept that it is time to let go. After the hospital visit, the hospital staff set up several health care professionals to visit the home and evaluate my father and to help with his care. We received two very caring women who have also helped us further understand our father’s condition and to kind of relinquish some control over what was going on.

As human beings, we are raised to believe you have to eat and drink to survive. The one nurse practitioner that visited us taught us that in my father’s condition that need to eat and that need for a three-meal structure no longer exists. He will eat when he’s hungry, he will drink when he’s thirsty and we can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do. Even though to the naked eye it appears our dad is long gone, there is still the shell of the man he used to be in there somewhere and that man craves attention and dignity. He won’t be told when to eat, he won’t be forced to live up to our standards. He will do what he wants to do when he is ready. After hearing that, I was finally able to ease the tension that had been burdening my shoulders these past few weeks. I’ve let go of that desperate need to want to save my father’s life and to keep him living for a thousand more years.

Once I let go, I realized that my father began eating and drinking again. I nearly collapsed with relief. Along with eating and drinking, my dad began saying a word here and there. If you say, “Hi, how are you?” he will say “Good.” He will also nod his head yes or no when you ask him questions like, “Are you hungry?” or “Are you cold?” This was also a great relief.

I have literally been by his side since he’s gotten back from the hospital and I have been putting myself last, as usual. I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been lax with my podcasting, and I have neglected my latest writing project. I know that is completely and totally unhealthy of me to do. I just have been so traumatized over this event. I just wanted to be there for my father because I realize how short life is and I don’t know how many more moments I will have with my father.

I think life works in mysterious ways though. I think that even though this was such a tragedy, I feel that this has brought us all closer together as a family. I feel like I finally have a relationship with my father. I will never have the kind of relationship I always lacked and always wanted growing up, but I am satisfied with the relationship I have with him now. My father has become a sweet, kind, and vulnerable man. My family and I are constantly advocating for better care for him from the healthcare system. We have reached somewhat of a current homeostasis at the moment. His care is under control. We have people who come periodically to monitor his well-being and as a family we all take care of him and provide him with the best round the clock care we can possibly provide him with given our lack of knowledge of healthcare. We do the very best that we are capable of doing. Given our lack of finances, he is being cared for at home. We’ve adjusted and he is finally at a comfortable level post-hospital. At this point, this is the best we can expect given his condition. We are grateful to have him eating and drinking and engaging with us here and there. At this stage in my life, after everything I’ve endured, and my family has endured, there really isn’t much more we can ask for.

On this day, International Women’s Day, I’m going to allow myself to step away for a while and join the living and get the things I need to get done that I’ve neglected nearly a month ago. I’m happy to be back in my office writing and producing. It’s where I feel the most alive and happiest. Thank you all for continuing to visit to read my blogs. Thanks for the well-wishers. I had the loveliest comment on one of my blogs last night that helped motivate me to get back on track. Thanks to that individual. I am happy that my words bring comfort to some. I wish you all a very lovely day and a restful and relaxing weekend!

Podcast: Happy Birthday, Pápá!

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ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Today is my father’s 76th birthday. I decided to do a podcast reading of three poems I wrote about my dad. In this week’s podcast, I read “Ja Ja James,” “Wrong Door,” and “Broken Pieces of Me.” I discuss the transition of my dad’s illness throughout the creation of each of these pieces and how I went from a position of anger and resentment to one of reflection, peace, compassion, and, ultimately, forgiveness. All three pieces that I have read today on my podcast are featured in my Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 1 and 3, respectively.

Click here to listen to this week’s podcast.

Thank you, everyone!

 

Podcast: My Dedication to All Living Beings

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ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2019.

Hello everyone! Please listen to this week’s podcast. This week I discuss my newspaper article featuring my new book Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3: The Wilted Perennials of  Yesteryear, the progress of my father’s dementia, the feral colonies, inviting future guests on my podcast, and more! Thanks to all who continue to listen each week!

Click here to listen to my podcast: PSG Lopes/The Moonlit Goddess Podcast

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My town’s newspaper featured a two-page article on my new book Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3: The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear. They got a few facts wrong which I explain in this week’s podcast. The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear is my 3rd anthology, not my seventh, I am 8 years younger than the article suggests, and I explain more in-depth about each type of writing I have available in my Amazon Author Page.

Click the picture below if you are interested in purchasing a copy of my new book! Thanks for your continued support! Please consider leaving a review for the book if you do purchase a copy! Thanks so much!

Click here to order my new book: Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3: The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear!

 

My Music Evolution

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ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2019.

No matter what changes I go through in life, one thing that has always remained consistent is the fact that I am a huge music fan. Over the years, music has helped me in so many ways. Depending on what I am listening to, music can either calm my nerves, get me pumped up for an occasion, relax me, or get me fired up when I’m angry, or even help me come to terms with my emotions. Music is responsible for so much joy and can elicit the strongest memories. My mother, father, and siblings heavily influenced my tastes in music over the years.

My parents got me into earlier stuff from the 1960s and 1970s like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Carole King, James Taylor, John Denver, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Cash, ABBA, and so many other great musicians. I still listen to all of these incomparable artists today. I have always been huge on nostalgia and listening to any of these always brings back positive memories in my life.

When I was a child in the 1980s,  I listened to the typical pop music that was popular in that era. I listened to Billy Idol, Blondie, Tiffany, New Kids on the Block, and whatever else was new and considered “in” at the time. I am actually going to see Tiffany and New Kids on the Block in concert this coming July! How’s that for a blast from the past!

I remember also being introduced to rock music and metal from my older brother. I remember the first metal band that I was introduced to was Metallica. I remember singing along to their songs as young as seven or eight years old because my older brother would blast them in his room. I also remember being into bands like R.E.M., Bon Jovi, and Guns N Roses in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

When I was seven years old, I traveled to Portugal with my sister, younger brother, and mother. I remember spending three months there. I was exposed to new types of music that I had never heard of before. I listened to very eclectic and different sounding Portuguese pop music and that was the first time that I became really aware of Portuguese fado music, especially from singers like Amalia Rodrigues. My mom still listens to all types of fado music to this day and every time I hear it, I think of her.

I remember when I was about eleven or twelve I became simply enamored by Celine Dion, and the then-popular pop group Ace of Base. I remember during the winter Olympics around that time putting on crocheted booties over my sneakers and pretending to ice skate over the linoleum in the kitchen of my old apartment in New York State. I would play Celine Dion and Ace of Base as my performance music and I would disappear “into the ice” and imagine being a grand performer! I had quite an imagination back then!

As I got a little older, I remember grunge music being huge and I was then introduced to bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana, and others from my sister. What is so fascinating is that I really liked Pearl Jam’s other efforts after their “Ten” album more while so many others complained that they sold out to become mainstream pop artists. I think that Pearl Jam, even to this day, is one of the finest rock ensembles ever to grace my ears. No one compares to Eddie Vedder’s unique voice and his lyric writing always spoke to me. I still consider Pearl Jam’s “Daughter,” “Better Man,” and Eddie Vedder’s solo effort, “Society” three of my all-time favorite songs.

When I moved to New Jersey, I feel that music was transitioning as well as myself. Grunge and rock began to blur, merging into alternative rock and other sub-genres. I remember during this time period, I was a huge fan of The Cranberries, Candlebox, Better than Ezra, Our Lady Peace, Black Lab, Semisonic, Silverchair, Weezer, Moist, and so many others no matter what pop/rock category a band belonged to. I remember also discovering punk rock and was very into Goldfinger, MXPX, Blink 182, Bad Religion, Misfits, and other similar bands.

Then when I reached college and post-college age, music evolved yet again and I found myself being heavily influenced by the nu-metal scene and other rock acts popular in this era. I listened to Korn, Limp Bizkit, Filter, Creed, Staind, Orgy, Evanescence, Finger Eleven, and so many others. I went to so many rock shows during this time that I lost count!

My younger brother got me into European symphonic metal in the early 2000s and I started listening to bands like H.I.M., Within Temptation, Delain,  and The Rasmus, that I still enjoy listening to even today.

I feel that this time was a particularly absurd time in my life. I had so many bizarre ideas and expectations of music. I actually believed that if I listened to anything but rock music that I was a “poser.” I was so afraid to be caught listening to artists I formerly enjoyed in my youth because I didn’t want to be attached to such a negative label. Also, I believed that people who were once hardcore listeners of pop music and all of a sudden started listening to hard rock music they were also posers. I also used to find it odd seeing old people at rock concerts and made it a personal vow to not be one of those people. Now, in 2019, nearing 40, I go to rock concerts all the time. My last concert was Halestorm/In This Moment/New Years Day back in November. I think it’s so funny what kinds of things you believe when you’re in your late teens/early 20s. Now in my late 30s, I’m not too caught up on labels. I’m not ashamed of my music tastes. I don’t feel like I have to compete with my tastes. I like what I like and I don’t really care what anyone else thinks about what I listen to.

Today, I feel that there’s been a real rock renaissance. I’ve been really into listening to bands like Asking Alexandria, Halestorm, Papa Roach, Godsmack, Fozzy, Beyond the Horizon,  In This Moment, Seether, Adelita’s Way, Irontom, and Yonaka, and any others out there that speak to me lyrically and musically.

I still highly enjoy Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, Lady Gaga, The Greatest Showman Soundtrack, and whatever I feel drawn to. I am now happy with my music choices. I no longer feel shame over listening to what I like. I enjoy what I enjoy and I don’t listen to people who think they know anything and everything about a band. I don’t care about that kind of petty nonsense anymore. I love music. I love all kinds of music as long as it speaks to my heart and soul. Being a poet and a writer, I first fall in love with the lyrics of a song. I tend to stay far away from trite, meaningless lyrics. I feel like we need a connection when we listen to music. It has to be relatable, that’s why there are so many love songs out there. Who hasn’t been stung by love at least once in their lifetime? I think what’s so lovely about music is that it’s like its own language and everyone can relate to it in their own way and get something completely different from every song out there. Everyone has their own story attached to popular songs and I love hearing about them all!

What music influenced you as a kid? Do you have any guilty pleasures you are ashamed to admit to family and friends? What are your “go-to” tunes you put on when you need an emotional boost? What’s your anthem? I’d love to hear from you all! Thanks so much for reading my blog! I can’t wait to hear from you all!


Also, I have a new book out! Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3: The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear has just come out on Amazon. This anthology is available in paperback and Kindle editions. Thank you all for your continued support in my writing ventures. Here is more information for those of you who are interested:

Hello everyone! I am so excited to announce the release of my latest work! Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3: The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle Editions! I am so very proud of this work! This was my focus throughout the whole month of January. As many of my readers already know, 2019 started off with heartbreak. I saw two forks in the road for myself in 2019. I could have either taken the self-destructive path and allowed what I went through to destroy me internally, or use my pain productively and focus on my writing. So, I chose to work on my writing and rebuild all of the momenta I had lost in 2018.

For Dark Musings Volume 1, I had focused on my transition from leaving education to becoming a writer and that volume focused greatly on loss, and rebuilding my life from the ground up. Dark Musings Volume 2 was an experimental anthology where I wrote my very first epic poem and decided to incorporate illustrations, photography, and short stories with this work. I simultaneously released Volume 2 with the 2nd edition of Volume 1 to incorporate photography in this edition as well.

For Dark Musings Volume 3, I decided to include 45 poems and one short story entitled, “The Clown-Covered Canvas.” The 45 poems in this volume vary in topics including heartbreak, nostalgia, how I am coping with my dad’s dementia, and feminism. I experimented with several types of poetry such as: haiku, sestina, sonnets, concrete poetry, ekphrastic poetry, elegies, villanelles, acrostics, epigrams, limericks, free verse, tanka, and more! I tried to really vary the styles of each poem. I am very proud of this work. Since the theme for Volume 3 is “The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear,” I decided to incorporate my photography of nature. I included pictures of flowers, landscapes, and photos depicting the handiwork of mother nature.

Here are pictures of the front cover and back cover of my book:

 

The back cover blurb reads:

Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear, focuses on heartbreak, loss, nostalgia, and coping with the illness of a loved one. The third anthology of the Dark Musings Poetry Anthology series contains forty-five poems and includes one bonus short story, “The Clown-Covered Canvas.”

For those of you interested, you may purchase my book using the orange links below:

Kindle Edition: $9

Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3: The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear Kindle

Paperback: $25

Dark Musings Poetry Anthology: Volume 3: The Wilted Perennials of Yesteryear Paperback

 

 

For those of you interested in my back catalog of other written works, please visit my Amazon Author Page for my writing: PSG Lopes/The Moonlit Goddess’ Amazon Author Page

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Or Amazon Marketplace for my song single, “In Recovery”: PSG Lopes/The Moonlit Goddess Song Single “In Recovery”

I am trying to work on possibly doing a Virtual Launch Party for Dark Musings Volume 3. I will update you more about that as and when it happens. For now, I am currently in the process of working on my next project. I am wasting no time and diving right in. I currently have 2 more things I’m working on at the moment. I want to thank the followers of my blog and social media, my weekly listeners of my podcast, and my friends and family who have supported me throughout this odyssey of mine.

Thank you for never giving up on me! Thanks to anyone who supports my work. I hope that you enjoy the work that you will kindly leave feedback on Amazon. It really greatly helps with spreading the word out on what I do!

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On a side note, for those of you who missed it yesterday! Yesterday’s podcast was the first interview I conducted with the ever-talented comedienne and writer Amanda Lynn Baez! We had so much fun talking about our career paths, women working in competitive creative fields, feminism and so much more! I was so happy to do this interview for several reasons. Firstly, Amanda is a former student and I love highlighting success stories of those who have graduated. I absolutely love Amanda’s positivity and fearless nature. She will let nothing get in the way of her success. She was an inspiration to me and motivated me as well. Last night, I was interviewed for my local paper and I was nervous about it in the morning but after conducting that interview with Amanda earlier in the day, and just hearing her story of empowerment and courage, that really helped provide me with my own confidence to proceed with my own interview later that evening. I am a firm believer in the saying, “everything happens for a reason!” So, thank you, Amanda! I wish you much success and luck in life!

If you haven’t yet, give the podcast a listen. Just click the orange link below! Thank you so much!

PSG Lopes/The Moonlit Goddess Podcast Interview with Amanda Lynn Baez

If any women are interested in being interviewed for my podcast please email me at themoonlitgoddess@gmail.com  

We can set up a time to do our podcast. I am highlighting women of all ages who are entering, have entered, or are well-established in entrepreneurial or creative fields and who would like to highlight their success stories to my listeners. These are volunteer spots as I cannot currently afford to pay my guests, but volunteers do get copies of my books and other fun treats for their time!

Thanks again, everyone! Onward and Upward!