Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

In the Spirit of Revisions # 2

| Filed under Fiction Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

So, readers, now you know how this book started, as a NaNoWriMo challenge in 2007. The working title is Relationships and Road Trips © 2007 by Ann Chiappetta.
Yes, it was written ten years ago and a lot has changed, including technology, how we respond to social cues, and the generalities of life. The revisions I plan to keep track of while editing and tweaking this draft will include correcting any mention of older technology, language usage, jargon, and fashion styles, etc. The details matter, along with the fact checking.

In contrast to changes, some things remain the same. Yet, in this draft I changed the main protagonist’s first name and kept her physical description the same. That one was a good call, IMO.

The next major editing action was to wean out any pretentions regarding sex, making the goal being less, not more. Since this isn’t a straightforward romance or mystery, I am going to experiment with dovetailing the two genres and balancing the descriptions of sex; yes, I know the one hallmark of a good romance novel is the desks scenes — but I want the novel to be more than that – and I am hoping to make it work, at least that is my goal. So, I have the holiday weekend to tweak and post the first chapter. wink

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

In the Spirit of Revisions

| Filed under Fiction Poem Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

Not sure about the other bloggers in the world today, but I often find myself in a blogging slump. So, I’ve given some thought to a general subject that could be serialized and be posted on a weekly time frame. I had to first identify an activity that I do almost every day that would be interesting to write about and also hold the reader’s attention. So, for the first blog serial I am going to try to post the progression of revising a novel. Hopefully it will work out and readers won’t get bored, either. Of course, should you read the excerpts, and should you have comments or questions, please respond or shoot me an email at [email protected] . Feedback is always welcome.

I guess the first question to answer is how I began the novel in the first place. It began as a story challenge for National Novel Writing Month, or, NaNoWriMo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Novel_Writing_Month
, as acronyms go. The challenge is to turn out 50,000 words in one month, which amounts to 1700 words a day and if one commits to the daily goal, one will have produced a draft of a novel. For me, it was a stream of consciousness kind of writing, no editing, no second guessing, just content. I must say, I wrote two novels this way and would recommend doing it once to help one’s sense of writing discipline.
Okay, folks, now you know a trade secret of this writer, hope you stay tuned for more.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

A Weekend To Remember

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

A Weekend to Remember
By Ann Chiappetta M.S. (c)

April 21 – 23, 2017
Tribute to the First Annual Guiding Eyes Continuing Education Seminar

Like many ideas, It began years ago
abstracts based upon the past
concepts blossoming from a common passion.

It was a new idea, unique and untried;
For some, the Challenge instilled apprehension
Perhaps a reason for hesitation
Or for decisions being delayed

For a time, hope came second
As it happened,
Voices united, attitudes changed
Wishes became goals, then actions

The desire to gather together
was no longer waylaid

Human hearts made it happen
To honor Inter-species relationships
The most powerful relationship of all

The spirit of canine propelled us
To the meeting place.

To 3 days of inspiration
36 hours of memories
And laughs to last a lifetime.

exuberant Labradors
Stoic and steady German Shepard’s
80 teams
30 instructors and staff
40 puppy raisers and volunteers

And really good food
Cumulated in achieving
cooperation totaling 150%
And Energy that could not be measured

A coming together
as vibrant as Woodstock but
Not as muddy.

There were dog tangles
Reunions and tears,
Obedience practice, play time
And Challenges including
A hotel that seemed to be built like a corkscrew.

Faces split in smiles lasting hours
Full hearts sharing meals
Imagine a ballroom lined with
Classroom-style tables
A person sits in each chair facing the podium
Beneath each place lies a dog, quiet
Or silent, asleep or awake
Snoring or dreaming
Licking a paw
And these canines
Our eyes
Our joy
Our inspiration
Our independence
Our family

Our reason for being who we are
And the reason why we were all there
Elicits an inner glow, a sense of pride
Or accomplishment, or purpose
We know intimately how well
These dogs gave us the ability to soar
not for only 3 days or 36 hours
but continually.

Our dogs connect us, bonding Hearts and minds
Later, after the reunion
In the afterglow
We will draw upon the link
Recall the shared experience
And, with humble words, thank our dogs.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Thanks XFB

| Filed under blindness Poem Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

Long ago, when I was first losing my vision, I subscribed to the Zavier Society for the Blind’s lending library and large print missal supplements http://www.xaviersocietyfortheblind.org/. It assisted me in keeping up with the readings in church. One may think this is just a small part of living the blind life, but, back then, when my world was collapsing due to limited vision, it saved me from the harsher consequences of social isolation. In short, keeping in touch with my house of worship gave me the strength and determination to accept my disability and tap into the support and inspiration I sorely needed.

Fast forward, I no longer subscribe to the large print missals, but I recommend folks who are losing vision to reach out to their own house of worship and stay connected to avoid the isolating effects of sensory loss of any kind.

Many years later, after my own kids completed confirmations, I once again found solace in my church and I am glad I stayed in touch with my parish as well as my fellow clergy members I met during graduate degree studies at Iona College.

Another connection was meeting Father John Sheehan, then Director of the Zavier Society for the Blind on the train coming back from an American Council of the Blind of New York www.acbny.info convention. The following year, I met Christine Moore, another Zavier staff member and we worked together during the convention that was held in Westchester. Through these working relationships, I was able to keep my faith and accept the changes in my life.

When Christine learned of the publication of my first poetry collection, Upwelling, www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/ she emailed me and asked if I would like it to be brailed and added to their international lending library. I was grateful and, of course, said yes. Since that time, more than one person has stopped me, and telling me they are reading it in braille. How cool is that?
“Upwelling” can be requested once the person becomes a Xavier Society for the Blind, or XFB client. id number for it is B1543.
Thank you, Zavier, and thanks to your caring and compassionate staff. Below is the information in case you or someone you know would like more information on the Zavier lending library for the Blind, contact Christine Moore: [email protected]

Tel (212) 473-7800
Mailing address: 2 Penn Plaza, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10121

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

On Being a Good Dog

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

Our Good Dog Story
By Ann Chiappetta M.S. Verona and Bailey
This story began at the time I met Verona, a black Labrador retriever bred and trained at Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I was matched with her in 2009 and we worked together for six years. When she started to tell me it was time to hang up her harness as my guide dog, it was heart breaking. She had become such a loving and intuitive dog, helping so many people during our work together. I am a family therapist and also visit schools and other facilities and institutions, and Verona was unfailing with her ability to bring a smile and ease the stress of someone who was suffering in some way. She was a dog whose job wasn’t done just because her guide dog harness was no longer being used; I did the best I could to honor her doggie work ethic. A year after she retired as my guide dog, she was evaluated to become a therapy dog.

“She is a natural,” the evaluator said, “this is just a formality.”

Verona did possess an advanced doggie degree, having worked as a guide dog, after all, right?

A year later, we were in the advanced class with eight other teams. Once we passed, we would graduate as one of the official pet assisted therapy teams for the Good Dog Foundation http://thegooddogfoundation.org/ .

This part of the story will explain the most unique piece in our journey together. Being blind and wanting to work with not just Verona but also my current guide dog, Bailey, and making it work for all three of us was the real challenge. I was anxious and a tad fearful that this trio of blind person, guide dog and therapy dog would not be accepted by the instructors or the general public. When I got up the nerve to verbalize my worries, the instructor said as long as I want to make it work, there is a way to make it work. Our class instructor was not going to allow me to quit. She made it clear at the very beginning that being blind and having another dog with me wasn’t going to be a reason to walk out with an incomplete or be turned away.

We made it work by preparing and practicing with both dogs and asking for help when I was required to focus on training with Verona. We went to most of the classes with a third person who sat apart from Verona and I. The helper, which involved either my sister or husband, held Bailey, who stayed in harness. The first two classes were the most disruptive to him, but he earned food rewards for settling and not whining when he saw me give Verona a reward. Bailey was still young, very attached to me, even after an entire year of being my guide dog. I think his tolerance was challenged when he was asked to settle and let me work with Verona. By class three, however, he wasn’t even whining. He settled down and even napped during the last half of the class. Class four was a test for all of us, I was handling both dogs and it was a little more frustrating due to the logistics. For instance, the three of us had to work out how to walk together, when to allow Bailey to perform the guide work, and train Verona to heel on the right. I felt that both dogs, having been living together for two years and having already accepted their respective roles, were up for it. We practiced for two months, taking practice walks and the preparation paid off.

In empathy for Bailey and his situation, imagine the person that you have bonded with and guided is suddenly going back to interact with another dog; I could feel Bailey’s confusion. I have since given him some slack but also provided directions and a way for him to perform even when he is not guiding and required to “turn it off”. He is rewarded with treats and praise for being quiet and not engaging. He still wants to greet the children, licking hands and wagging his tail, but he will settle when asked.

November 6, 2016 was graduation day and since then we have been visiting local libraries. We are now working on making smiles happen. Verona is giving back and helping by being the one to give the gift of positive energy. Bailey has matured measurably in the last 8 months, too. I am so proud of his ability to make the transition and step into his harness when I give him the forward command. I am a very lucky lady. I have learned so much about both my dogs and their personalities. It’s given me the confidence to go out and help others. It helps me because I am able to give back, and being a person with a disability, I am often the recipient of kindness and it means so much more for me when I can return it.

I don’t know where our path will lead or what the future holds for our trio but I do know one thing: we will continue to do it together for as long as we can — When I clip on my I.D. tag and tie on Verona’s scarf, it feels like we can conduct miracles with a smile and wagging tail.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Speaking of the Muse for National Poetry Month

| Filed under Poem Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

A bit on the creative process is a good way to keep the brain muscle in shape. Writing is, in itself, a very singular endeavor. One must gather the items for which to write about, and this can mean observing the rhythm of life. It could mean overhearing a conversation, being intrigued by something on the telly, or inspired by another artist. In my world, anything is an opportunity for the Muse.

Just how a poem goes from knocking around in my head and gets the final blessing is a bit harder to explain. But I will give it my best, so here it goes: the idea comes first.
I want to write a poem about a former therapy client who has since died. It’s been something I feel compelled to do, and for months it’s been rolling around, from one hemisphere to the other, and now I am ready to grab hold of it mentally and wrestle it down in the form of a computer file.

I begin with a working title. It keeps me focused on the theme. I often keep this as the final title, but not always. Next, a few lines will appear, I think of the overall message I want to bring about, if I want it to rhyme or not (usually not), and if I need to do more research on the subject matter. In this case, the answer is yes, and I save the file, then begin a google search for stories about Androcles and the lion. The metaphor of the helper removing the thorn from the king of beasts will be used as a symbolic reference and I must read all about it to understand just how it will be used and how it will provoke and interest the reader once the poem is completed.

I often rely on Greek mythology to accentuate poetry; I think of it as bringing the past into the present, I mean, if they could come back to life and read how much we still utilize their society and cultural morays, religion and beliefs, they would be impressed with themselves.
But I digress. Back to the poem. This is where I am right now, forming the narrative, linking the imagery and emotions. It brings me to another observation: I cannot rush the process – the poem can take all the time it needs. I honor the Muse by allowing the finished piece to unfold naturally.

So, if you are still reading, I am hoping the poem will be ready soon, but this could mean a few months or longer. I will keep the updates coming and I hope you all read more poems during National Poetry Month.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 1

Binge Watching

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Uncategorized

I’ve taken on a new social behavior. I suppose being who I am, having been raised in the 1970s in the crib of the boob tube, it was inevitable.

Friday and Saturday nights, after the laptop is closed, I escape into the bedroom. I open the iPad, tap on Netflix and settle in for some entertainment.

As I plump my pillows and wait for the dogs to follow me into bed, I think of those late nights in my childhood, bathed in the eerie luminosity spilling out from the black and white TV. I recall sneaking down to the Livingroom and turning it on, the volume barely above a whisper. I would sit close to hear it — because of being extremely myopic, getting close meant I could see the details and not be dragged away by a concerned family member who feared I would ruin my already ruined eyes. I would place my fingers on the channel selector, gently turning it to dampen the clicking sound and surf the late-night movies until the stations signed off after midnight.

Now, with a finger flick I peruse the choices from anime to westerns. The most amazing part of this is the audio description track offered for blind folks like me. I can watch an entire season in two nights and afterwards, after shutting down at about 2 a.m., I can sleep late and take the time to decide on the next binge.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 2

What Have You Been MIssing?

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

Well, constant reader, life has been full, overflowing, in fact. Just because winter has influenced just how much I miss benign outdoors and feeling the sun on my face, it doesn’t mean I’ve been curling up by the proverbial fire and tucking in to read a good book and wishing the world away. I’ve been a busy little pea hen, pecking away at the responsibilities of life and such.

When the solstice passed and it began to stay light longer, I did feel a sense of relief from the winter doldrums. There is still so much to do, to get ready for the exploits of spring and summer, which I am longing for in a way I haven’t felt before. Is it aging? Maybe. All I know is I am happy to be busy and productive.

Speaking of being productive, our pet assisted therapy visits, made possible by The Good Dog Foundation, are going well; Verona enjoys them and Bailey is learning to accept it when I handle Verona and he has to “turn it off”. He still has to work on this but is doing well for a young and energetic dog. I am enjoying working with them both by myself. Sometimes it’s just easier when we go without another person. Strange but true.

I am gearing up for the editing process for my next book, a memoir written about my experience of going blind and working with a guide dog. Teasers to follow after the summer. Cheryll will be helping me with the cover photo and I cannot wait to have it ready for the holiday season. I’ve got a few bylines in local and small press magazines, too; this helps keep the writing muscle in shape and helps me reach other audiences.

Disability awareness presentations are ongoing, too. I have gotten very positive feedback from the organizations and schools where we’ve been invited to talk and this is the best ego-boost in terms of knowing that our efforts on behalf of people with disabilities is making a difference.
I hope to blog more frequently as I know it’s important for all of my followers. Thanks for reading and following this blog.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

MEET THE AUTHOR

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized WRiting LIfe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact Ann Chiappetta, Author 914-393-6605 [email protected]

Local Author Returns to Childhood Library

March 7, 2017 – Mamaroneck, NY Ann Chiappetta, a Westchester resident who grew up in Mamaroneck, will be available for a book signing at the Mamaroneck Public Library’s community room this coming Saturday, March 11 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Chiappetta, who has written her first poetry collection titled, “Upwelling”, was raised in Mamaroneck.
“I spent a lot of time here,” she says, “the library was my home away from home.”

Chiappetta goes on to say she is excited to be able to return to her roots and share the collection with Westchester residents.
Printed copies of the book will be for sale for $8, cash only. The 60-page soft cover edition expresses a wide range of subjects and include Chiappetta’s experiences of vision loss, counseling trauma victims and many other aspects of the human condition. She also writes of learning how to work alongside and trust a new guide dog. Ms. Chiappetta has been blind since 1993, the loss resulting from a rare eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. Two poems in the collection are about her vision loss and coping without the benefit of sight. From the publisher: guide dogs, death, and a disturbing dream. Marriage, memories, and intriguing mysteries. In this collection of 23 of her short, highly accessible poems from several decades, Ann Chiappetta explores an enormous range of emotions and topics. Travel with her as she moves from illness, death, loss, and grief to renewed hope, security, and serenity.

Chiappetta says she was inspired to publish the collection after losing her Mom, Mary Coelho last July.

Ann is available for local signings and readings.

. To Purchase Chiappetta’s collection in e book or printed formats, go to http://www.dvorkin.com/annchiappetta/

To read Chiappetta’s blog, go to: www.thought-wheel.com

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

A Measure of Hope

| Filed under Poem Uncategorized

Yesterday I was speaking with one of my best friends, you know the kind of friend who is counted on one hand, which professes a true bestie. We’ve known each other for over 30 years. He introduced me to my husband of 26 years, etc., etc.

His name is Joe and he was diagnosed with HIV in the early 1990s and we almost lost him. Thankfully, it wasn’t his time to go and he recovered and I am thankful he has been part of my life and I believe he is a living miracle. Our family lost many loved ones from the AIDS virus back then and Joe wasn’t one of them, and the only one I know who survived from that deadly wave of HIV infections.

Shortly after he became hospitalized and was fighting for his life, I wrote a poem titled, “What Remains”. It is a style of poetry called a villanelle, or Italian sonnet. It consists of 19 lines in a fixed form and uses interchangeable rhymes. After writing it, I kept it to myself, since I wasn’t sure if Joe would pull through. Fast forward a few decades and the poem is the only one in my book, Upwelling, http://www.dvorkin.com/annchiappetta/ that is a rhymed poem of iambic pentamer and can be called the best example of a sonnet resulting from two excruciating semesters of verse writing classes.

So, what does this have to do with Joe and my poetry collection? I haven’t shared that the poem is in the book. He hasn’t purchased it yet, so he is blissfully unaware it is there. I did give him a copy of the poem years ago, and I honestly don’t think he will recall receiving it. Even if he does, I am a little nervous he might be uncomfortable knowing it’s in the collection

I know I am being silly; there are 22 other poems in this book, most about a person I love or for whom I feel a strong affection. I did let some of them know a poem written about them was included, but not all of them. My Mom and Dad are already gone and I lost touch with most of the others. I am confident; however, the poems honor the person’s character and don’t disparage anyone. Yet, I do experience an occasional twinge of anxiety thinking about the person’s reaction if he or she reads the piece. It’s called writer’s regret and while I would love to say I would never allow my creativity to be compromised by censorship, even if not doing so means risking another person’s feelings or values, it would be a hard decision to make. Therein lies the risk; he could react in a way that I wouldn’t expect or anticipate. He could say he hates it and he never wants to read it again. He could say it makes him feel horrible, or depressed or ashamed. Okay, maybe not as extreme as that, but, you get the picture. Taking risks with words is risky. As my statistics professor once said, it boils down to a fifty-fifty chance no matter what.

I want Joe to read the poem again, I want him to ask questions, and I want, above all else, for him to understand it was written at a time in our lives that was rife with uncertainty and expected loss.

As for you, the reader, perhaps this essay and poem will provide both the gravity of what it is like to witness the suffering of a loved one but also hang on to hope and keep hoping even when others say there isn’t any sense in hoping anymore. I think Joe would be satisfied with knowing his experience gives me hope.

FYI: March 6 is Joe’s 51st birthday. Happy Day my friend.

WHAT REMAINS – A VILLANELLE

Time elapses in your veins
By maniacs bred in cells
Robbing your health, grain by grain.

The option of long life is detained
And upon the shortened time we dwell,
As time elapses in your veins.

Hippocratic oaths can’t explain
Why your blood bears killer cells
Robbing your health, grain by grain.

I listen to the melodic refrain
Of your breath, fearing the funeral bell,
As time elapses in your veins.

The fangs of regret cause the most pain
Anger and sadness are familiar clientele,
Robbing your health, grain by grain.

Your spirit wavers on this plane,
A present but listless parcel
I greedily covet what remains,
As time elapses in your veins
Robbing your health, grain by grain.

copyright 1995- 2016 Ann Chiappetta

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0
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