In the News

Wolves at the Door

August 23, 2015 • By

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Writer and television director Rick Stroud calls Wolves at the Door “electric” and lists it as a must read in a Wall Street Journal article!

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Virginia Hall left her Baltimore home in 1931 to enter the Foreign Service and went to work for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) when Hitler was building toward the peak of his power in Europe. She was assigned to France, where she was the architect of the Resistance, helping escaped prisoners of war and American Allied paratroopers get to safety.

By 1942 she was known by the Gestapo who considered her so dangerous, they put a price on her head, forcing her to escape over the Pyrenees mountains—on an artificial leg, no less.

Upon arriving in England, she was sent back to France at her request, this time by the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS.) Disguised as an old peasant woman, she and her team captured 500 German soldiers and killed more than 150, as well as sabotaging Nazi communication and transportation lines. Hitler’s forces were hot on her trail, however, and her daring intelligence activities and indomitable spirit defied the expectations of even the Allies until the very end of the war.

To the Germans, she was “the lady with a limp.” To the Allies, she was a savior. This is her true story.

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Brain Food

What Is IT?

August 23, 2015 • By

It?

Writing it. Sharing it. Living it.

But what is it?

In a world where life travels so quickly, invisible data streams can quench our thirst for information instantaneously, it is elusive. But it is also one of the most necessary elements of life. I cannot tell you what it is or will be for you. But I can give you some insight into the discovery and development of mine in the hopes you’ll be guided to yours.

My family loves movies. And as it happens, one of the best, and perhaps most readily understandable example of it appeared in the 1991 Billy Crystal film, City Slickers. Crystal plays an overwrought advertising salesman who spends a week wrangling cattle with two of his equally overwrought buddies. The trail boss (played by the inimitable Jack Palance) tells him only one thing is important in life, and holds up his index finger to emphasize the number.

When Crystal asks what that one thing is, Palance smiles and says, “That’s for you to figure out.” And of course, by the film’s end, Crystal stumbles on to that one thing. His it.

Mine surfaced in a different way. Faced with a life-threatening illness a few years ago, I became sharply aware of life’s fluid nature. Like mercury, our days flow on uncontrollably. I realized I couldn’t stop the flow, regardless of how I spend my time. And the alternative to that onward flow was nothing I was ready to consider. So I resolved I was going to wring out every ounce of living in every single day with every single sense.

That was when my it began to appear from the shadows. It is a work in progress, requiring all of my senses to bring it into focus. I eagerly inhale the aromas of being, no matter where I am. I absorb the sounds of nature and mankind co-existing. I take in the rainbow hues of the water and land and sky around me.

My it also quietly requires that I remove toxins from my life. People, relationships, and situations that are uncomfortable just can’t travel with me. Admittedly, that part is hard. I’m a pleaser and a fixer. I want everyone to like me and have been known to be unable to resist the urge to please and fix. I must stop and breath and listen, realizing I only have control over me and my it.

With the exception of my children and my marriage, I apply this mantra to all else: not forever, just for now. That includes everything I come in contact with. In other words, if it don’t fit, it ain’t my it.

Our individual its are clearly rooted in our belief systems. But like a graceful shade tree, have multiple limbs and twigs, each playing a part. Sometimes we might feel that our it has gotten off track. Not so; all experiences – on and off track – help to mold and individual’s it. Change and expansion is all a part of growth.

You many have begun to think that finding your it is a lifelong endeavor. You’re right, and that’s exactly as it should be. A part of my it is to write and speak about topics I hope will help others find their its. Most importantly, I hope you enjoy every moment of the journey!