The Long Reach of an Influencer

The word influencer is used these days to describe a person with the ability to influence public buying habits by promoting or recommending products or services on social media. People make entire careers out of being influencers.

In truth, we’re all influencers in one way or another. Life is an interactive gig. We can’t help but be touched and impacted by people, often for as long as a relationship lasts and sometimes even after. But occasionally, a single brief encounter can influence a life. Or a career.

Decades ago, when I was starting out as a journalist, I was lucky enough to interview Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. This was probably fifteen years after she published her classic book ‘On Death and Dying’, but before she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  She was in the prime of her career at the time and landing the interview was something of a coup. I can’t remember how it came about but I remember the interview itself quite clearly.

She was humble and unassuming, but strongly committed to erasing the taboos around death, and more than willing to deviate from the traditional questions I was expected to ask. I had a deep personal interest in the spiritual side of death, and while that was covered in many of her books, she was also becoming known for exploring more mystical elements like near-death and out-of-body experiences, even mediumship, all elements that didn’t go over well in the traditional medical sphere she operated in.  

We spoke for several hours, much longer than she’d originally agreed to. I remember the passion she had for her subject, and how engaged she was with me, a young newbie journalist starting out. She was intensely encouraging, suggesting other books I could read, places I could go to explore further (this was pre-internet) my interest in the spiritual side of death and dying.

Her influence has stayed with me, both in my personal life as I’ve witnessed people I love passing on, and also in my work. I relied on Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief when Cate, the heroine in No Right Thing, had to say goodbye to someone she loved. I turned to Kubler-Ross’s work when I wrote The Art of Getting Stared At, utilizing the five stages of grief when Sloane loses all her hair because of alopecia. And I’m using the mystical, spiritual side of Kubler Ross’s research in my work-in-progress, Something About Julian.

A brief encounter in my life but an influential one. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross would have been 93 today. I leave you with one of her many wonderful quotes.

Sunshine in the Rain

They say this past January was the fourth wettest on record. I guess I wasn’t around for the first three because last month was the wettest January I can remember. We were hit with a series of back-to-back rainstorms and clouds so dark and persistently low that many days it was hard to believe it was day, and not night.

However, the sun was shining in my office. My next YA, Something About Julian, is set at the beach, and the action unfolds over the month of August. Heat, sunshine and ice cream all figure prominently. My next Laura Tobias title, Blushed With Fame, is set in Spain and also takes place in summer, and I’ve been working on that too.

While I was mentally in summer mode, I accepted an assignment to write an article on Greek food and develop a couple of recipes to go with it. Right away I thought of grilled souvlaki and juicy Greek salad, taramosalata dip with warm pita, all foods I yearn for in summer.

My muse knows no season.

However, given the pouring rain, barbecuing was out of the question; who wanted to go outside? I wanted something warming, something comforting. Luckily my research turned up fasolada, the humble and delicious bean soup, which happens to be Greek’s national dish. The editor gave me the green light.

So after chopping a few vegetables . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

And frying them up in a big pot . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

I added my cooked beans, a jar of pasada and got things simmering. A few hours later, I was rewarded with a bowl of deliciousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rain has stopped  and the clouds are starting  to lift . . . but even if the weather deteriorates again, I have soup in my fridge. And sunshine in my office.