Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Baked Ziti and Enlightenment: A Guest Post from Author Lorraine Ash

Today I'm honored to be hosting author Lorraine Ash as part of her WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour. Lorraine is promoting her spiritual memoir, Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life. Stop back by on Aug. 28 for my review of her book. In the meantime, here's a little more about Lorraine and and Self and Soul.

Book Synopsis:
Are you living a life of quiet desperation? Questioning what it means to succeed? Wondering if your efforts matter? In this uplifting memoir, Lorraine Ash uses her own life experiences to explore inner landscapes where the seeds of divine healing and insight reside. These are the landscapes on which we create our own meaning and find the resiliency to thrive in a changing and challenging world.

Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life is available in a variety of formats and online stores, all presented here, http://lorraineash.com/selfsoul.htm. It has also just become available as a digital audiobook. Find it at Audible.com and Amazon.com as well as in the iTunes store.

About the Author:
Lorraine Ash, M.A., is a New Jersey author, award-winning journalist, essayist, book editor, and writing teacher. Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life, is her second book. Her first memoir, Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing, was published by NewSage Press.  Lorraine also is a veteran journalist whose feature articles and series have won seventeen national, state, and regional awards and have appeared in daily newspapers across the country. Lorraine belongs to the  Association of Writers and Writing Programs and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Bill.

You can reach Lorraine here:

Website/blog: www.LorraineAsh.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LorraineAshAuthor
Twitter: @LorraineVAsh
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/lorraine-ash/45/77/650

Baked Ziti and Enlightenment
Image courtesy ©Andrea Skjold | Dreamstime.com

When I think about which people inspired me to make a difference in life, I see they all had a common trait. Some were brilliant, others creative, some powerful, others powerless. But all were kind.

In graduate school at Fordham University, I was in awe of one professor—an Ivy League scholar, brilliant actor and writer, original thinker, recovering alcoholic, and seasoned life traveler. He had the brains and wit to cut down students who struggled through his classes. But he never did.

A most unlikely Coca-Cola

One hot summer afternoon, I fell ill and was curled up on the floor of a bathroom stall in the Communications Department of the university. At least the tile was cool. Otherwise, I was miserable. I heard the door open and then the clink of an aluminum can on the floor. Looking down, I saw the professor’s hand, the one with the big onyx ring, slide a frosty Coca-Cola to me under the door of the stall.

“Coke syrup,” he said. “It always works. I’ll be here if you need anything.”

Such a simple action. I have remembered it all these years.

Dozens of baked zitis

Decades later, in the early days after my daughter was stillborn and I was barely interested enough in life to brush my teeth, a friend delivered many meals, each lovingly prepared by someone in the newsroom where I worked. The first one I ate was baked ziti, prepared by a reporter’s wife. It was the best I ever tasted. Wanting to always remember how I felt eating that meal, and wanting to create the feeling for others, I asked for the recipe, written in her hand.

For years now, I have cooked and delivered baked ziti to dozens of others in need, hopefully to the same effect. As my old Aunt Esther, a true Italian cook, used to say, as she rubbed her hands together, “A little pasta and cheese, that’s all you need.”

Kindness always possible

Metaphysics, cosmology, psychology, religious rules—they’re all complicated. But in the midst of any so-called important endeavor, the simplicity of kindness is always possible. By extension, cruelty, condescension, pretension, and coldness are never necessary. Jesus said it best, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It’s a teaching within anyone’s power to achieve. A smile. A Coca-Cola. An encouraging word. A little pasta and cheese. That’s all.

Questions: Have you ever been nourished by another person’s simple act of kindness? In what ways are you the most kind?

Lorraine Ash, M.A., is a New Jersey author, award-winning journalist, essayist, book editor, and 
writing teacher. Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life, her second book, is available in a variety of formats and online stores, all presented here, http://lorraineash.com/selfsoul.htm. Reach Lorraine at www.LorraineAsh.com, www.facebook.com/LorraineAshAuthor , or @LorraineVAsh.


Renee Roberson said...

Lorraine, thank you so much for this wonderful post. It stirred up a lot of memories for me, and I'd love to share one of them here.

I will never forget the time during my senior year of college when I was struggling to make ends meet. I worked two jobs (one in a restaurant, the other in our college newspaper office) and carried a full course load. I still couldn't seem to pay all of my bills each month, and unfortunately, buying groceries usually had to take a backseat. A few of my co-workers at the restaurant realized how hard of a time I was having and took up a collection. The next day two servers came in carrying bags and bags of groceries for me, including many dry goods so I could stock my cabinets. I'll never forget that simple act of kindness. Between them and the generous cooks who often went out of their way to prepare me special meals before my shifts, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have so many people taking care of me when I needed it most.

Margo Dill said...

When my daughter was in the NICU, people sent us gift cards for restaurants around there that we could actually walk to. Hospital food gets old once in a while, and although I really didn't want to leave her side, I had to sometimes for sanity. I've always remembered that and have returned the favor to others with a loved one in the hospital for a long amount of time.

Lorraine Ash said...

What great memories, Renee and Margo! A little food, served with love, goes a long way.