Tag Archive for: love

Our Addiction to Simplicity-by T.K. Thorne

A friend sent me a little story about someone who mocked a man for buying a fancy car, asking him if he realized how many people the money that he spent on the car could have fed. The man recounted all the jobs that were created to make/sell the car and noted that those jobs fed a lot more people than he could count.

Fair enough. But it ended with this:

“Capitalism is freely giving your money in exchange for something of value.

Socialism is having the government take your money against your will and give it to someone else for doing nothing.”

Sounds very uncomplicated and compelling. But let’s look deeper.

There is no doubt capitalism provides jobs. (But so can socialism or even communism.)

Jobs—or at least working and/or creating something—do contribute to a person’s dignity and self-worth.  . . .Unless that job pays so little, one is scrabbling to feed oneself or family and building a better life is out of reach no matter how hard one works.

Tying self-esteem to work is risky. Overwork can lead to burnout and diminished productivity. There are many benefits to meaningful work, though “meaningful” is defined differently for everyone. Not all work is meaningful in a positive way.

The adage that teaching a person to fish is a better choice than giving a person a fish, rings with truth. . . unless that person is too hungry to learn anything. Then he needs fish first and teaching second.

I’m not an economist, so I’ll stop there. My point is that we humans have a compulsion to simplify.


The answer to that seems to go back to the way we evolved. We needed shortcuts for everything to function and thus, survive.

My body/mind has figured out (thanks to billions of years of life’s experimentation) how to move to the kitchen when I’m hungry. If you think about what this requires, it is no easy feat. Thousands of complex electro-chemical interactions and coordination involving nerves, muscles, and tendons takes place. If I had to direct this with my conscious mind, I would fail and lie in a puddle on the floor. . . hungry.

The body/mind has shortcuts for almost everything. It takes effort to think through a statement, judge it, weight the “what-ifs?” What is true in one scenario might not be true in another. For example:

It is wrong to kill another. A simplicity that feels true . . . unless your own life is threatened . . . or if your government has decided that other is “the enemy.”

Life is complicated. That’s why we have lawyers.

Seriously, the mind loves simplicity. And it is not “wrong.” If a tiger is coming for you, simple is better.

But our world is also complicated and very divided. And each “side” clings to its precepts without room for expansion or allowance of deviation or “what ifs.” The human brain prefers shortcut belief/value systems, which are more efficient than wasting valuable energy on something it has already “decided.”

For example, I believe education is the fulcrum for elevating society, but I understand a child born into the stress of poverty and constant violence is not on equal footing, and that our world is better if it allows the potential of all to be fulfilled. I willingly give up a portion of what I earn and my time to try and rectify that, understanding that some beneficiaries to that funding and time will choose not to work for it. (I also support a system that primarily helps those who need it and will do their part, but I am not willing to give up on helping if that is an imperfect system.)

A strong military is the best defense, and all must contribute to pay for that, while understanding that human systems will often devolve to some waste and corruption. (I support a system that discourages and punishes that, but I am not willing to give up a strong military to eliminate it.)

I support hospitals administering care in life threatening situations despite the ability of the patient to pay for it. (See comment above re waste and corruption.)

These societal needs require systems that are, frankly, not simple. They could be simpler; they could work much better. But just opting out would cause many unintentional and devastating consequences. Let’s do the hard work, the creative work of figuring it out. Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Do we have the imagination it takes to apply our creativity, technology, and will to the complex problems of our world?

That said, I leave you with a couple of truly simple things:

“Being kind and loving and caring really matters. The truths constantly change and disguise themselves, but being kind and loving and caring always counts.”—Jim Reed

“We can’t just hope for a brighter day, we have to work for a brighter day. Love too often gets buried in a world of hurt and fear. And we have to work to dig it out so we can share it with our family, our friends, and our neighbors.”​—Dolly Parton

T.K. Thorne writes about what moves her, following a flight path of curiosity, reflection, and imagination. Check out her (fiction and nonfiction) books at TKThorne.com.

What Love Really Means


Writer, humanist,

          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,

       Lover of solitude

          and the company of good friends,

        new places, new ideas

           and old wisdom.

The answer to what love is has defied the best efforts of philosophers and poets, yet we know it when we see it, as these keen observations from children prove. 

“Karl, age 5: ‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’ 

Billy, who is 4, had to think about it, but decided, ‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.’

And Rebecca observed, ‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’”

And Teresa (TK) age. . . never mind . . . said, ‘Daddy is love–you can crawl onto his lap, and he will read the comics in the newspaper for you; you can crawl on his shoulders, and he will flip you over and over again! You can know you will always have a place to go if you need it; he will always be there.’

Thank you, Papa for everything and always. I love you . . . and that’s the most important thing.
T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

Visions of the Future

He says he fell in the deep end,
thank goodness, or he’d’ve
hit his head on the steps.

Y’all my 65-year-old fully dressed husband fell into our pool whilst washing down the deck. It reminded me of something I’ve seen recently that said “You can tell if you’re old by how people react when you fall. If they laugh first, you’re young. If they immediately run to you to ensure you’re okay, you’re old.”

Well, I did the second scenario with him. All he needed help with was the removal of his hearing aids. Which made me laugh and then our 17-year-old son and I fell into a huge fit of the giggles. My sweet husband may never live this down. It’s been three days and his shoes are still soaked because he won’t listen to me tell him to take out the soles and set the shoes and the inserts in the hot almost-summer sun we’ve been enjoying here on the outskirts of Charleston.

In April he turned 65, which makes this the once a decade nine months of teasing I get to subject him to because our ages are flipped. He’s 65 and I’m 56. I think it’s hilarious. He shakes his head at me a la Desi at Lucy.

Which got me to thinking about the romance that we write, the beginning, falling in love, and getting to know one another. The first time they fart is kinda cute, the “don’t go down the hall or near the guest bathroom anytime soon” is equally adorable but never written about.

When I was a child, our family would go on two-week trips with another couple and their niece and nephews. I usually shared the room with the couple and the niece. Once I caught the wife trimming her husband’s bushy eyebrows. I said, “Wait, is that a thing? Am I going to be doing that when I’m older?” She replied, “Only if you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship this long.”

Mary Grace Coker Couch and 
Dud Spiegel (DS) Couch, Jr.

When I could drive myself to Easley, SC from either college in Columbia or home in Charleston, I’d visit with my grandparents once a month of my own volition. My grandfather would wait until I visited so I could cut his nails. He said when I trimmed them; they didn’t need filing. Whatever magic I did, left them perfect. He might have said this so I’d visit more often, but it worked.

My grandfather got very sick toward the end. My grandmother and I would sit at the kitchen counter playing solitaire and not speaking before nine in the morning (her rule). Papa would venture down the hall to the restroom from his bed. Nanny would eagle-eye and sonic-ear his every move. It made me sad but joyful that their intense love affair had lasted over sixty years. She was attuned to his every move.

As I’m writing my stories of the blossoming of love, I’m instilling in that depth of feeling the longevity and faithfulness of many years to come. The stinky bathrooms, the wiry eyebrows, the missteps into pools while fully dressed and while the spouse is on a conference call, the never getting the order right at the drive-thru, the refilling of the coffee cups without asking, the Batman signal of the empty tea pitcher on the counter, the kiss every time one of them departs or arrives, all melt into one beautiful love story that’s lurking in the unwritten epilogue.

When you read a story, do you ever picture the hero and heroine as a long-time couple with all their quirks and habits?

For example, imagine Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in their fifties. They’re 21 and 28 when she accepts his proposal. How will they change but still be in love thirty years later?

What would they be doing to get on one another’s nerves? What would they do to show their deep love? Would they finally be straight with one another and not hide behind their words? Will she still think he’s hot when his dad bod goes swimming in the pond?  Will she caution him not to be reckless on his horse? What’s his reaction when she’s gone on one of her extensive walks and hasn’t returned by tea-time?

Are they enjoying being home together all time, since Mr. Darcy lives off interest income? How do they spend this time? Do they have couple friends? Dinner parties? Travel? Is she exasperated with him now that she’s hit menopause? Is he worried about losing his hair?

My take? I think Fitzwilliam will take joy in his wife being her own person and speaking her mind, I can see him watching her with pride at dinner parties or when she’s taking the lead in community events. And Elizabeth/Lizzy will pamper on him and sit in his lap by the fireplace for years to come, much to their children’s and servants’ chagrin.

I might be embedding my relationship with my husband in their storyline though, what are your thoughts?


Robin Hillyer-Miles writes romance of the contemporary, magic-realism, and cozy mystery varieties. “West End Club” appears in the anthology “Love in the Lowcountry: A Winter Holiday Edition.” She’s writing “Cathy’s Corner” a 45,000-word contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Marion’s Corner, SC.

Robin lives near Charleston, SC where she works part-time for the YWCA Greater Charleston (she took this photo <<< on 12/11/2020 her first day on the job) and gives tours of downtown Charleston (when there’s not a shutdown because of a pandemic). Her yoga instructing has fallen by the wayside but she strives to continue her home practice (it’s fallen by the wayside too, honestly).

She and her husband of 24-years love working from home together. Their teenage son enjoys finishing his junior year of high school online. The dogs don’t know what’s going on but they are digging all the attention. Her husband insists she needs a pool wherever they live, and she’s been enjoying the heck out of it during this stay at home order.

You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga

The anthology is offered on Amazon in paperback or e-book here:

What I Do For Love – Of Devices

What I do for Love – Of Devices by Debra H. Goldstein

Quick.  Don’t take a breath!  Count how many electronic devices you are carrying, wearing, looking at, or have within easy reach.  Do they save you time or are they the source of anger, stress, and frustration?

Depending on the day, I answer that question differently.  The reality is that I am an electronics geek who doesn’t know nearly as much as most ten year olds.  In my old job, I was always willing to be a guinea pig.  New computer – bring it on.  New laptop or network – bring it on.  New telephone system – you get the idea.  Now that I call myself a writer, of course I have toys galore.

So, what was your count after reading the first paragraph?  Mine was five.  I’m sitting in my office typing on my laptop.  Behind me sits an older desktop.  The television in this room is smart as is my telephone and I’m wearing a fitbit that reminds me I haven’t moved too much today.

How much writing have I managed to do today? This blog. Why haven’t I finished revising the

manuscript that I’ve been toying with for weeks?  Because between a scheduled charity meeting (well worth the time I spent there), an hour in the gym (a necessity even though I did work on responding to emails while I was on the treadmill so you can imagine how slowly I was moving), the majority of my day has been spent talking to electronics technicians.

First, I ran a machine to the repair shop dreading how much the cost would be – happily, it turned out that the machine was on the wrong setting (no charge, but I lost an hour of the day).  Then, I spent an hour (the third one) on the phone with a computer technician who was trying to find out why my one week old laptop wasn’t behaving itself.  Systems checked, drivers reinstalled, and what do you know? – he still didn’t know what the problem was.  He is calling me back in two hours for another round.  I can hardly wait.  Of course, I can only give him an hour because I have a scheduled conference call this evening, but no problem, if he doesn’t figure it out, there’s always tomorrow.  I’ll have plenty of time to let him take control of my computer once I take my car, the one that every time I turn the car on flashes “Maintenance Required,” in for service.

Love and Murder

by Sparkle Abbey

February, the month of love, brings thoughts of hearts and flowers, and (at least for those of us who write crime fiction) murder.

Love and murder go so well together. Why? Maybe because both
involve strong emotion. Let’s see, what do you suppose the main motives are for murder?
Thriller writer, John Lescroart lists on his website “14 Motives for Murder” 
but he summarizes them as love, lust, lucre, and loathing. We think
he’s onto something.

motive for a crime of passion, love and murder are clearly a great match. However, in addition, love also often becomes a part of the storyline for the characters solving the mystery. It’s no accident that popular crime shows, like Castle,
often feature a bit of romance. There’s been a lot of online discussion about
the Castle/Beckett pairing, and whether their upcoming wedding vows will ruin
the romantic tension in the show. Many fans of the 1980s private detective show Moonlighting felt getting
Maddie (Cybil Shepard) and David (Bruce Willis) together was responsible for
the demise of the popular show.

The idea of love and crime together has become so popular
over the years that there has become a whole sub-genre in movies and novels called
romantic suspense. These stories often have a central romantic theme as well as
the intrigue.
Lisa Gardner, a master of suspense
fiction, talks about the hazy definitions of the sub-genre and some of the
prejudices in her great series of lectures on the Secrets of Romantic Suspense
. Kinsey Millhone, Sue Grafton’s, no-nonsense PI isn’t really the romantic type, but still there have
been a few men her in life from Dietz, a fellow PI, to longtime friend, Cheney. In some mysteries, there’s a full-blown love interest and in others there’s just a hint of romance.

In our Pampered Pets mystery series featuring former Texas beauty queen cousins,
Caro and Melinda, we truly had no plans to go there. But…well, the stories just
naturally evolved to encompass a bit of “love, lust, lucre and loathing.” And
no spoilers here, but we think you’ll like where the series is headed. 

So what do you think? Do you like a serving of love with
your mystery? 
Or would you rather keep the hearts and flowers far away from
your crime fiction? We’d love to hear what you think!
Coming soon: Our first short – “Project Dogway” (Out
February 24th

Learning from our pets

by: Joelle Charbonneau
It’s still pet week (or weeks to accommodate those of us who
post every other week) here on the Stiletto Gang.  When the group talked about doing some themed
blog posts, I was happy to hear we were going to chat about our pets both past
and present, because you can learn a lot about a person by hearing them talk
about the animals that share their lives.
But while I had a great idea for a funny blog post in mind, I
have chosen not to write it.  Why?  Because my heart is breaking for a friend.
Yesterday, I learned that a dear friend and fellow author,
Ellery (Jen) Adams, lost a member of her family.  Her sister-in-law gave birth through c-section
to a beautiful baby girl and then passed away before she ever had the chance to
look into her baby’s eyes.  This year, I,
too, have experienced the loss of a close family member, so I admit that I
broke down and cried when I heard the news. 
There never seems to be enough time with our loved ones.  Sometimes the final goodbye lasts months or
years, but often, as in Ellery’s case, the final moments come too soon leaving
us with thoughts of the things we wished we said or did.  Making us long for extra moments where we
could share our love without reservation.
Too often in our lives, we hold back.  We don’t say what is in our heart because we
worry that someone will think we’re overemotional, or dramatic or just plain
odd.  Sometimes we don’t express what is
in our hearts and minds because the people we care about are not demonstrative
in their affection.  Sometimes, we are
scared to risk sharing our feelings in case they are not returned.  Other times we just take for granted that
there will be moments in the future to embrace what we feel.
But those moments don’t always exist and too often we are
left sad and unhappy that we didn’t grab those precious moments as we should have. 
Which is why we should learn from the theme of the last two
weeks….our pets 
Dogs don’t worry about whether showering you with affection
is going to embarrass them.  (If they
did, we probably wouldn’t see quite so many dogs sniffing crotches.)  Cats don’t fret about whether the love they
give is returned.  At least my cat doesn’t.  He just worms his way onto my lap and insists
that I make him feel loved.  Rabbits,
camels, gerbils, guinea pigs, parrots, ferrets…none of the animals we welcome
into our lives worry about the proper time to express their love.  They just love us.  And because of that we love them.  Unashamedly. 
Without reserve.  Without waiting
for the right moment to express what is in our heart.
So today, I say that we should learn from our pets and learn
to express affection to those we love every time the moment strikes.  We should go to those we care about, wrap our
arms around them so tight they try to wriggle away and let them know they are
important.  So we are never left
wondering or wishing.
And for those of you who pray….please put a special prayer
in your heart for Ellery and her family and send as much love and affection as
you can her way.

Modern Romance

by Susan McBride

Ah, February, the month of love! And not only because the 14th is Valentine’s Day–on which I’ll be talking about romantic reads on “Great Day St. Louis”–but Ed’s and my third anniversary is February 24. Seems like yesterday that we met though it was nearly six years ago. Funny how it happened, too. When I look back, I think of how many dominoes had to line up and fall before the moment we were introduced.

If I hadn’t been named a 2005 St. Louis Magazine “top single”…if Ed’s then co-worker, Jeremy, hadn’t been selected as well…if I hadn’t become friends with Jeremy at the photo shoot…if Ed hadn’t decided to show up at the magazine’s party at the Contemporary Art Museum…if I hadn’t been talking to Jeremy when Ed appeared…if he hadn’t contacted me through the magazine after I lost his card…if we hadn’t enjoyed each other’s company at a hockey game the next week…well, you get my drift.

I like to think that our grandmothers up in heaven plotted the whole thing. I can imagine mine saying, “For goodness’ sake, she’s over 40. If she doesn’t find someone soon, she’s going to be too danged independent to ever want to share her life with anyone but her cats.” And Ed’s grandma responding, “Well, he’s finally got his doctorate and has a job with a start-up company, but he needs to find someone who’s a bit pushy and who can convince him not to wear that dreadful Fred Flintstone T-shirt to work.”

Then there was the age factor, my being nine years older. Which didn’t really matter to me or to Ed (but I know it worried his mom in the beginning!). The most important concerns I had were these: could we communicate despite the fact that I’m Captain Kirk and he’s Spock; and is our sense of humor on the same plane, or maybe I should make that “planet”? Luckily, the answers were “yes” and “yes.”

I knew Ed was special very soon after we began dating. I’d never felt that “rightness” with anyone before. Never. I’d heard friends say, “You’ll know when you find him,” and I’d think, “But how?” It wasn’t long before I realized they were spot on. Within three months, I was sure Ed was The One. I knew it in my heart and in my gut. Indeed, it was on Valentine’s Day in 2006 that I decided I’d ask him point-blank if we were on the same page. I had to be certain we were going somewhere (and I don’t mean away for the weekend). Yep, I’d become very direct in my middle-age. I just couldn’t let myself go on believing “this is it,” if he wasn’t feeling it, too. When I told my mother what I’d done, basically giving Ed an ultimatum, she squawked, “Well, there goes that relationship! You probably just sent him running for the hills!”

But Ed showed up at my condo after work that night with a dozen red roses and said, “You are the one.”

We’ve been through a lot since (and before) our wedding, and I can’t imagine having lived even a minute of those days without Ed in my life. If anything, I love him more now than on the day we said, “I do.” I feel incredibly fortunate that all those dominoes fell into place at precisely the right moment. Chalk it up to fate or the Powers that Be or even two heavenly matchmaking grandmothers. Whoever’s responsible, thank you.

Anyone else want to share their tale of “How We Met?” I’d love to hear!
P.S. Welcome to Maria Geraci, the newest member of the Stiletto Gang! I recently read Maria’s latest, THE BOYFRIEND OF THE MONTH CLUB, and loved it. What a perfect Valentine’s Day book!