Who the Heck Are We?

Most of us are concerned (or even obsessed) in one way or another (or many ways) about our identity.

Male, female, trans, non-binary (and, yes, I know there are more options out there). Smart or smart-ass, kind or a pushover, equanimous or apathetic, voluptuous or fat, Jewish American or American Jew, discerning or judgmental, aging or decrepit, compassionate or pitying.  I could go on.

Here’s an interesting little tidbit of information –  over 30% of the Buddhist leadership in the United States is Jewish. There’s even a name for a Jewish person who meditates and otherwise follows some (or many) Buddhist precepts – she’s a Ju-Bu.

Way to go! Nice option for avoiding yet another identity decision.

The Jaya series, recently renamed A Jewish-Buddhist Mystery Series, is a study in contradiction – identity complexities all over the place. Yoga teacher Jaya herself is a meditating, Buddha-quoting Jew. She’s intuitive in a haphazard, unaware way. She makes brave decisions from a place of confusion and weakness.

Her sidekick, Ansui, is grumpy and big-hearted, philosophically wise and interpersonally clueless. Her love interests run hot and cold, close and distant.

The series itself seems to be searching for its identity. Book One is a cozy mystery, filled with quirky characters and little violence. Book Two is more in the direction of Jewish mysteries with historical puzzles to solve while avoiding disaster. And Book Three – wait for it – is headed toward true detective. Jaya’s adventures have escalated from long-range rifle fire to kidnap and brutal murder. 


Don’t blame me. The characters take me where they want to go. I’m only telling their stories.

Now there’s another identity issue. Some authors believe they’re in control. They plot and outline and then fill it all in with (hopefully) talented writing. I’m the other kind. I plot and outline and then set my characters free to drag me hither and yon.

People say that writers write what they know. Several readers have asked me if Jaya is me. I suppose there’s a little of me in every character but, no, Jaya is definitely not me. Here’s Jaya:

Oh! Did you think I was going to post a comparative picture of myself? Suffice it to say that this ISN’T me.

And I don’t know firsthand about kidnap or murder, have never solved Jewish mysteries or been a true detective (though I’ve watched enough Blue Bloods, Chicago PD and Law and Order to just about pass the detective exam). I don’t know about or really have much of an interest in genealogy and, while it’s true that my minor in undergraduate school was history, I have no patience for remembering historical facts, names, and dates.

Longer ago than I care to admit I stopped struggling with identity issues. My friends and family might disagree but here’s how I see myself:

  •      Rebelliously inconsistent in almost every facet of my life
  •      Flitting from one interest to another
  •      A dilettante, I learn things superficially and abandon them at will
  •      Open-minded to the extreme at times
  •      Stubbornly clinging to ridiculous views and habits at others

Hand on heart, aren’t you a little like that, too?

So what are the constants in our lives?

Here are some of mine:

I love my family – every single one of them
I’m loyal to my friends – always
I’m a reader – always have been – always will be

What are yours?



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Brought up in one of "those" families - a challenge. Lucky enough to marry someone who inspired me to create a much-healthier family and have a life which helped me begin to love myself. From Texas to California to Wisconsin to Israel. From reliable, responsible child to rebellious teen to fearless young adult to grateful grandmother. Five beautiful, fascinating grown children. Fourteen amazing, enchanting grandchildren. From university teacher to researcher to couple counselor to political spokesperson to yoga instructor. Still married after all these years.

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