Many early readers of Glad To Be Human asked me for copies of it to read aloud at Thanksgiving, to give to friends who need a lift, or even share with their Mom on Mother’s Day, since without mothers, none of us would be human.  I am happy to announce that this Pushcart-Prize-winning essay is now available for eReaders of every stripe. Regular followers of this blog know that I had a writer’s dream come true when Jay Hartman, my publisher at Untreed Reads, bought it on the spot at the Book Expo last year, and as of today it is available in more than 51 countries. (This just in: before I could even post this, Jay emailed me that we have a bunch of sales from all over the world!)

In a way, this essay is a short, distilled and bottled version of my outlook on life–Irene’s über-blogpost, if you will. (Though at 5 pages, it runs a bit longer.) Click here to see what Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray Love and other works) had to say on her Facebook page.

Here’s a taste of the essay:

(To listen, please click here:GTBH excerpt)

Glad to be human in the 21st century, survival licked; glad not to be selling my blood anymore or using rolled-up toilet paper for sanitary napkins. But even in those dollar-few days, I’d find a bunch of roses abandoned on the street; or once, walking up Eighth Avenue to meet my date, the strap to my only pair of shoes disintegrated, and I went into a hotel after three barefoot blocks and asked, “Do you have any shoes?” And they did, a pair of Dr. Scholl’s that someone left that fit just right. Glad to be human; glad to be provided for; glad to provide for myself in faith and effort. Fun to find shoes, fun to buy them, too. 

Glad to be human—for solitude and to be able to be a stranger—a gift of the 21st century, like speed and music anytime and feast upon feast of stories anytime. Glad to be human for late nights, talk and art and sex and loving and all different languages; glad to be human for words themselves, peculiar to us as paper to the wasp, as leaf to tree or song to bird—words as human as a measured square. 

I’m taking an interesting online course called The Enlightened Brain, by Rick Hanson, PhD. In it he says our brain evolved to pay closer attention to bad news than to good, because survival was at stake. (That’s the Darwinian take, anyway. I may have more to say about this in future.) But he says we can actually rewire our brain as we learn to pay more attention to the good. It’s always  been my intuitive bent, and it wanted wording.

I hope you’ll buy my wording and feel your brain refresh as you read it, and I hope you buy a copy for someone you love. It’s a feeling worth spreading. (At the New Release discount price of 69c, it’s cheaper than a greeting card.)

You can buy Glad To Be Human here .

And I am personally offering a money-back guarantee:  Buy Glad To Be Human. If  you don’t feel better after reading it, I’ll refund your money! If you  want to share a reason you are Glad To Be Human, click here. The best responses will be considered for an GTBH anthology from Untreed Reads. Thank you for your patience and support, one and all–

Lake of Sky, photo & all text
© Irene O’Garden 2012

But first, exciting news! Some of you may know that last June, I had a writer’s dream experience.

My agent invited me to the Book Expo in New York to see what publishers are up to these days.  As we made our way through the bulging booths, she told me that the day before, she’d chanced to meet an ebook publisher. At the end of their conversation, he’d said, “Oh, we’re also looking for essays. “

That morning, she’d remembered my Pushcart Prize-winning essay, Glad To Be Human. She hadn’t arranged to meet up with the publisher but we headed for the table in International Rights where she’d seen him the day before. There he was.

She introduced us, handed him Glad To Be Human. He read about three paragraphs and said, “This is gorgeous! I want it.” He bought it on the spot. It is to be released in the next month. Watch this space for a special offer for you, my loyal readers!

To listen to this post, please click hereHaving a Cigarette


Emerging from a stressful time a few summers ago, while on retreat, I decided to take a walk to the lake. It was a lovely evening. I had anticipated seeing the lake, but not planned beyond that. Along the soft strip of beach, a lounge chair lay open in white receptivity.

But I am an accomplisher. I don’t just sit and look at a lake. Too reed-choked to walk the circumference. What was I to do, walk back?  Bathed in late sunlight, the lapping lake coaxed me to stay.

I was cast back to childhood. At a moment like this, my mother would sit and have a cigarette. So that’s what I decided to do, lean back in the long white chaise and have a cigarette. Without the cigarette. As I sat inhaling the evening, I thought of breaks–coffee breaks, smoking breaks. It’s not so much the coffee or the cigarette, but the break itself. The break for pleasure.

Addiction is convenient, since you don’t have to decide your pleasure—you don’t actually have to pay any attention to yourself at all. But convenience is expensive—it can cost your life. Or at least many dollars.

Substance or not, becoming aware of the pleasure in the present, the ongoing fulfilled promise of existence, is ever an option. Even an accomplishment.


What’s a pleasure break of yours?



I’ve won a Pushcart Prize!

October 1st, 2011 | Posted by admin in News - (Comments Off on I’ve won a Pushcart Prize!)

Pushcart_coverI’m very pleased to say that my essay “Glad To Be Human,” published in the “Tusculum Review“, has won a Pushcart Prize. According to their website, The Pushcart Prize – Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America. Look for it in bookstores November 15th!

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