I’ve been reading Joan Didion’s essay On Keeping a Notebook in which she wrote, “I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive or not.” Such a tough pill to swallow if we harbour a modicum of negativity toward chapters of our lives we deem less than stellar. Maybe we once contended for too long with shoddy treatment by a lover, or lashed our own sharp cut into someone undeserving. Maybe we ate and drank too much, or denied ourselves too much. Maybe we lamented over imperfect thighs and noses when much greater atrocities inflicted others. Maybe we authored deception or were lied to. Maybe …

Don’t we all have at least a version (or two) of ourselves we’d like to divorce? We choke on could-haves and should-haves and dread the squeeze of regret that descends in the small hours of sleepless nights. This occurrence isn’t unique unto ourselves. If so, Maya Angelou would never have written the famous lines, “I did what I knew. And when I knew better, I did better.”

And isn’t it true that each flawed, seeking, hard-scrabbling survivor version of our past selves has moved us along to who we are today? Each of our past iterations is a self that helped push the weighty rock uphill so we could plant our flag and claim unabashedly This-Is-Me.

To be alive is to evolve. One day, in the not so distant future, our This-Is-Me will become That-Was-Me deserving of our compassion.

My friend, poet Renée M. Sgroi, so beautifully writes: 

"maybe there one was a woman who once was a girl

in a distant voice, maybe everything is nothing

in her voice, maybe nothing is everything"

 --an excerpt from Sgroi, Renée M. “maybe”. life print, in points. erbacee-press, 2020, pp 81. 

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Sacrifice, betrayal, family secrets! A widower and young mother struggle to overcome their tragic pasts in a dying mill town. The Last Hoffman is the story of a quiet man who is tested and discovers his courage. It will restore your belief in second chances.

“For all the novel features characters that are alone, it is a story driven by human connections (…) With vivid descriptions, natural dialogue and in-depth characterization, Tuinman compels us to look beyond the surface. The ending is triumphant.” –Gail Murray, Historical Novel Society