I am a professional writer and editor with more than a decade of experience in journalism, internal communications, and public relations. I wrote a literary essay that was published in the book, "Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives." Edited by Lee Gutkind, the book is available on Amazon.com and through other select booksellers.

Published Excerpt:

"I take after my father in many ways: same long, oval face; thick, wavy hair; long, slender
legs; and big, extra-narrow flat feet. But my skin is pale and dotted with freckles across the ridge of my nose, arms, and shoulders, and it burns when exposed to sun. A spritz of perfume
applied directly to my skin can make it turn red.

Dad's skin was always darker than mine, a trait I envied because it hid his scars, especially
the one at his neck. Dad worked at darkening his skin, though. He sat in front of the sunlamp to rid himself of any blemishes or 'spots,' as he called them -- any imperfection.

Before he turned on the sunlamp in his at-home office and pulled the goggles around his thick dark brown hair, he gave me explicit instructions: "Don't come in here. Don't look at the light." [...]

On countless occasions to relieve pain, I'd try stretching, pressing my hands to my lower back, thumbs against skin, nearly bruising myself. I would do almost anything to rid my body of pain.

"Go do some exercises -- how about some squats, bend your knees, and stretch your back. That always helps me," Dad would say.

"It does help him," Mom chimed in.

So, I did what an only child does. I obeyed.

I bent my leg, stretched my back, my hands grasping my desk chair in my bedroom, my heels pointed toward the double bed.

I stared up at a quotation on my wall about character and strength from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow."

But the pain persisted. The exercises never dissolved the pain, just masked it, providing only a brief reprieve. The pain always returned.

--"Keeping Up Appearances"

Chair image: breathingbooks.tumblr.com/
Book image: http://www.Amazon.com/