Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

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TidBits About Donna #63 Be Gone Old Year – With Fond Memories, I Remember You

Last year at about this time, I wondered what the new year would bring. I know now. And now I wonder what this new year of 2013 will bring. Bye 2012 Welcome 2013 thIt’s a timeless wonder.

Before I embrace 2013, I want to remember the year gone by and release it … wash it away. So I spent some moments remembering – remembering the good, joyful and fun times – and remembering, too, the trying, challenging ones.

Last New 123112 Renee Jim New Years' EveYear of 2012 started with having dinner with our friends Renee and Jim on NKathy & Sam New Year's Day 2013ew Year’s Eve at a special, favorite restaurant of ours, Euro Lounge Cafe. On January 1st, we celebrated the new year with my Nancy & Andy New Year's Day 2013cousin, Kathy, and her husband, Sam. We started the new year off right with both family and friends. This year 2013, we did the same – but we invited more friends, Nancy and Andy, to celebrate at our traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner on New Year’s Day.

In January of 2012, I joined the “Challenge” in my town with my friend and neighbor, Dina. I attended many health related workshops, including nutritional classes, exercise classes, and Reiki meditation classes. I loved the mstretch band exercis theditation classes, even though, try as I did, I could not feel the “heat energy.” Still it was relaxing. On Tuesday afternoons, I pulled and tugged on green, red, and blue latex bands to the music of the 60s, as I stretched muscles I didn’t know I had. My new friends, Elena, Camille, Anne, and Janet did too. When the class ended, we promised to continue our exercise together with walk/talks – but, we haven’t yet.Teacher Book Group th We may still. I hope so.

Every month I meet my fellow retired teachers for breakfast at a local coffee shop, where we spend a lot of time catching up and rehashing our days in the classroom. Carol kicks off the breakfasts each year with a big, breakfast bash at her house in January. Oh the food that we bring! We also have a book group, which is a lot of fun. Books and Bagles! Some of my favorite books are Still Alice by Lisa Genova, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, and Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Is there a theme here? Strong women? My favorite bagels are cinnamon-raisin and garlic-onion. I can’t pick only one.

I spend a lot of hours with my writing group, the Montclair Write Group. They sponsor more than twenty writing-related activities each month. In Support Group, we share what we have accomplished writing-wise during the week with our fellow writers. It’s an accountability thing. We engage in lively discussions about anything writing – the craft, the business of writing, the process; and we offer each other tips and encouragement. Every other week, I join about six to twelve other writers in the Writing Room, where we … write. Writing Group thAs Carl describes it, “Minimal chit-chat, maximum write-write!” And he’s right. Five minutes of greeting and pleasantries; and all heads are down either in notebooks or computers. I pop my headphones on, set my music to soft New Age, and I’m gone. I am in the zone. Two hours later, I surface for a quick goodbye to the writers who are leaving – most do. Then I hunker down with the one or two others who are there for the long term – usually Alexandra. We write for about three more hours. About four times a year, I read my work at the Montclair Write Group Showcase. Once I even read at Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey. (You can read more about that here, TidBits About Donna #58 Montclair Write Group Showcase – Literary Lounge at Luna Stage – West Orange, NJ.) It’s so valuable to hear the positive comments of the audiences, and it’s fun to hear the work of my fellow writers.

Every week, I meet with Carl, Karin, and Janet at a local coffee house for a two-hour-plus writing session. Again I zone out with my music and words. It’s during these DWTs (dedicated writing times, pronounced “dwits”) that I am moving my memoir, Prisoner …,  forward. (Full title will be revealed at a later date. I am in the final revision stage.) I love these writing times with fellow writers and friends. I also attend my Nutley writer’s group called Pen to Prose each month, if I am not in the theater.

stage thI spend countless hours in the Nutley Little Theatre. I have acted in two performances this year: Sordid Lives as Peggy Ingram – dead in a coffin (not as easy as it sounds) and a gypsy-like, nosy neighbor in A Bad Year for Tomatoes. I acted in two Reader’s Theatre performances, All the City Lights and A Sordid Holiday Reunion, in which, though I was still dead, I was in a picture frame and could interact with the audience.Frog in School th Tons of fun! I had the great fortune to be mentored by three marvelous directors, Marvin Krieger, Don Scheffrin, and Penny Potenz Winship, as I produced, cast, and directed my own show, A School is NO Place for a Frog, which I first wrote as a picture book and later adapted as a stage play. I had an amazing cast, and they brought my story to life. To see my work performed on stage was a dream come true. I am now the assistant stage manager for our current show, Glengarry Glen Ross. Since 2010, I have also worked on crews for set construction and have wielded many a paintbrush as I dabbed blues, browns, and grays on living room, cottage, and office walls. I even helped to paint the backdrop of the New York City skyline for one show. I am learning all facets of stage production and am grateful to the Nutley Little Theatre for these opportunities.

Designing jewelry is another outlet for my creativity. The possibilities are endless, and no two pieces are ever the same. When I need to get img_3967-egyptian-summer1away from it all, I simply escape to my studio. It is different way to zone out, and it is so relaxing. Here’s a favorite piece. You can see other pieces at diemodi jewlery. If you ever feel a desire to have your own one-of-a-kind creation, contact me.

The year has had its challenges too. Hurricane Sandy roared through and caused havoc. Trees toppled over like straws; but we had no real damage, unlike many unfortunate others. Knee surgery slowed me down physically for a few months. And medical insurance woes are ever-present. The challenges are not going away. I’ll deal with them – we all must, but I prefer to focus on the fun things – the theater, my writing, my family and friends. So I will wash away the old year. I will let it go with both its happy memories and its worries, and I will begin the new year with anticipation – ready to make new memories.

What are your thoughts about the year gone by? What are your expectations for the new?

Please leave a comment. Simply click the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Also please pass this blog on to all your friends and they to theirs.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)


January 13, 2013 - Posted by | TidBits About Donna | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Difficult year with a lot of surprises, not very good health surprises. Going to do better-stick to kidney diet- excercise in bed if you can’t do it standing up. Keep positive attitude. Keep laughing. And know I will still be here at the end of the year. Avoid stress and laugh a lot=good medicine. Helps cut down on pills and is a lot more fun. Remember something good is just around the corner, or waiting for you next week. Just leave yourself open to good things and don’t let the b—– get you down.

    Comment by Colleen Gallagher | January 15, 2013 | Reply

  2. Colleen,
    You have a good attitude. That’s what will get you through. They say laughing is the best medicine.
    They say it here: Natural News
    And here: WebMD Health and Balance
    And here: Psychology Today
    So keep laughing, girl!

    Hugs, Donna

    Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | January 15, 2013 | Reply

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