Author Archive

496 PAGES   6 comments

I’m still at sea — well, sort of. We are about to dock in San Antonio, Chile, whence we’ll be flying home after a 17-day cruise. I promise I’ll be better about sharing photos and stuff, because while on board I have finished the umpteenth edit of “My Father’s House,” the fictionalized story of my father and his family from the time he left Torsas, Sweden, until his death at the age of 86. It reads like a novel, with the interacting influences of historical events — and they were many — as they impacted the growth and character of the family. Yes, if you are interested, I am part of the story.

I’ve been told that 500 pages is a reasonable length, so I’ve been working — and working — and cutting — and cutting to reduce the original 800 or so pages. Now I’ve hit 496, including preface and postscript. So I’m being bold again to ask if there’s anyone out there who’d be willing to read it now — available via e-mail. I’d love honest feedback about its interest to people in general and suggestions for further cutting.

If you’re game, please let me know your e-mail address in the comment section here. Or if you’d rather keep your address private, please let me know via

Just to prove I’ve been traveling, I’m including the unseparated photo I just bought of my entrance to Salaverry, Peru.

Posted November 1, 2019 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

POLITICAL VS. MORAL   6 comments

Recently I mentioned the fact of ICE separating children from their parents at the border, and even in some inner cities. The person responded saying, “I don’t talk politics.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Because I see clients whose politics may be different from mine, I refrain from making my political preferences public. But when does an issue become more moral than political? For me the answer lies in insomnia. Politics is interesting, and sometimes disturbing during the day. But I know it’s a strictly moral issue when it wakes me at night.

So, I’m going public with my assessment that removing children from their parents, or removing parents from their children, is not only immoral but impractical. It’s as if there is a deliberate decision not only to create misery, but also to create diagnosable mental illness in the future. Particularly frightening is the effect of attachment disorder, an almost guaranteed result of the separation practice. Try this link to get a sense of the complexity. And please, decide that this is a moral issue.

And one more very important thing. If it hasn’t been clear in the link I’ve sent you, be aware that conscience depends on healthy attachment. Think about the future generation you want to live with.

DID I STAY AWAY TOO LONG?   5 comments

I’m pretty sure I did; I couldn’t even remember my password.

And I won’t stay long this time either. For starters, I’m loving my new home at 723 Water Street, 1001, in Excelsior, MN 55331. I’m also loving my travels, and my plans for travels. I told my financial planner (who accepted me when he was first starting and wasn’t too fussy about how much money I had) that I wanted to die broke, and I’m working at it — not the dying part, just the broke thing. Most of it goes to plans for travel, the last big one having been the cruise around Japan in April. I know, I promised photos, and I haven’t posted them. Why?

“Cause I am working every spare moment on “My Father’s House.” Oh, it was finished months ago, but it was 800 pages, and who wants to read 800 pages? I finally decided to break it into two parts, ending when my parents sell the house, and before all kinds of other things happen to the family. But that first book still was 500 pages. I’ve been working and working at cutting and cutting, without much success.

SO. WHAT I NEED NOW IS HELP!  Is anyone out there willing to read it and let me know where I should cut — or if … ? I’ve been too close to it too long. It would be great to have someone read it who doesn’t know me, so he or she would be comfortable being honest without worrying about hurting my feelings. Know anybody?

Any takers could let me know by commenting here. Or, if that’s too public, by sending an e-mail message to To help me recognize it when it gets caught up in my spam box, use “I’ll read it” as the subject matter.

Thanks for even reading this, and my apologies for being so neglectful of everything.

Of course, if you happen to know an agent, it wouldn’t hurt to clue me in on that too.

Posted July 9, 2019 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized


Not the famous Nick Spooner you’ll find if you google the name, but the Nick Spooner who spent his life overcoming obstacles out of which came more wisdom each time.

Let me tell you more about Nick Spooner who made his living driving a private town car limo service. I met him in spring, 2015, after I had rolled and totaled my car. Finding myself being neurotic about driving, I crunched the numbers about car ownership and decided to stop driving. Then came the godsend recommendation from my friend Karen Noren who gave me Nick’s card. From the beginning he was “my driver,” as long as I made my plans mostly for after 11:00 a.m. and reserved him ahead of time. After all, he worked all night, so he needed sleep time. I wasn’t the only person who claimed him as “my driver.”

So let me tell you more about Nick Spooner. Like the time he drove me to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. I was accustomed to popping into the front seat and enjoying one of our interesting discussions. There was so much to learn and share about his life, his wisdom, his personal philosophy. Many times we sat for a while to carry on the discussion. That night at the dinner theater, however, he would drop me off at 6:00 p.m. No time for chatting, I started to get out of the car when he stopped me with his delightful laugh and said, “Let me get out and open the door for you. We can let people think you’re an important person.”

Now let me tell you more. On February 6, 2019, he drove me to my dentist appointment at 12:15 p.m. On our return, we sat in the car for a while as he told me his concerns that people might choose to walk home in the freezing cold weather. He remembered in body and mind his own experience of nearly dying in his teens of hypothermia making his way home as a snowstorm blew in. So he had called his referral contacts telling them not to let anyone try walking home. “Call me.”, he had said, “I’ll come and get them. It doesn’t matter if they can pay me.” That was Nick, and that was our last conversation.

He worked as usual on the night of February 6-7, among other things helping a young woman customer whose lock was stuck. That was Nick. He would make sure she was home and safe inside. As he left there, he called in a report to the police that he had spotted a car pulled off to the side of the road and waited there until he was sure officers had been dispatched. A short time later that car spotted Nick’s limo in a snowbank on the side of the road and called it in.

Nick had suffered a seizure, grateful later that he didn’t have a customer in the car. At the hospital he was eventually diagnosed with a glioblastoma – maybe more than one. Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain died a year after their diagnosis, as did my former husband Lou Affinito. Nick didn’t have a year. He died at 1:18 a.m. on March 23, 2019. Quietly, it was reported, but until those moments, he hadn’t “Gone Gentle into that Good Night.”

I received the news as I was attending a “One Day University” class on resilience- why some people overcome adversity and others do not. Nick had overcome so much with such grace. Resilience.

He was a good writer, with so much to tell. During our years of friendship, I pleaded with him to write. I do have something in a folder marked “Nick’s writings.” In his last days, he had regular entries on Facebook. I want to put together what he wrote there. Someone should know the story of his last struggles. In his last entry on March 21 he complained of falling. Just the day before he had asked, “Who would like to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot with me? I need to find a polycarbonite tool case for a project that I’m working on.” Resilience.

Would someone be willing to check for me on the legality of copying his entries and pasting them into a Word document for potential sharing? I am leaving soon for a month at sea, and I’m struggling with computer/printer problems, so I don’t have the time to do it now.



I just broke a couple of my own rules, and here’s the lesson to be learned. It’s important to have a confidential consultant – either a paid counselor or someone in a professional position that requires confidentiality. I’m talking about a place where you can talk about something that you should be working through only with a person who is sworn to keep your issue confidential.

Two important rules (out of many) – two places (out of many) to be careful.

Mona’s broken rules.

AVOID TRIANGLES.  My own thinking convinced me I wasn’t getting caught in a triangle. Primarily my reason was that the issue involved me directly because of my own pain. But a good counselor would have pointed out to me that I was still creating a triangle.

TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION AFTER CONSIDERING ALL FACTORS: I should have spent time with a counselor who would have helped me do a better job of considering all factors and pointed out to me where my action(s) were inappropriate.

CONSIDER THIS A COMMERCIAL. But you don’t need to have a paid counselor, as long as the person is professionally committed to confidentiality. Don’t trust or burden a family member or friend with this job. It’s not fair to them – or even safe – to ask that a secret be kept.



WHY?   2 comments

I have the feeling I haven’t emphasized enough the importance of asking yourself, “WHY?” before writing that e-mail, or snail-mail, or making that phone call, or taking that action. Why are you doing it? What do you hope to accomplish? What are you asking of the other person?

It’s a little like the editing I’m doing with “My Father’s House.” With each sentence in each paragraph I ask myself that question. Why? Why that word? What am I hoping to convey? Why am I saying it that way? I try to make each paragraph one line shorter.

I’m doing it with each paragraph or section too. What purpose does it serve? Sometimes I’m not sure, so I tighten it up and leave it for when I’ve finished this editing go-round and other people will be willing to go through it. I’ll want them to mark the stuff they find boring, uninteresting, misleading, or superfluous. I will need the help of people who are willing to be honest with me.

But I can’t send out my plea for those consultants until I’ve done my darnedest to clarify it for myself.

My goal is to get 800 pages down to 500 or less. To get down to basics, I guess.

And that’s what I mean by “Why?” Why do it? What purpose does it serve? What do you hope for from the other person?


First: true confessions. Sometimes I wish I had never started this blog. Why? Because I find it hard to get to. It seems sometimes like obstacles just hop in my way, like a computer game where things pop up that I have to knock over or shoot down. (Actually, that’s what I get to see and do on the stationary bike I try to ride everyday.) Most recently, it’s a problem with my billing system for which I first sought the aid of a techie a few days ago, and we’re still playing tag with each other trying to follow through.

Oh well, here it is. I hope it’s helpful.


APPLY JENNIE’S RULE:  “Always put the best construction on all your neighbor’s actions.”

You probably wouldn’t be seeking reconciliation in the first place if you didn’t see something positive in the person you’re working with, but don’t’ come up with your own answer and assume you’re right about how he or she feels (or felt). Don’t assume you’re wrong either – unless you know for sure that you are. Chances are you are two fallible people, because that’s what human beings are.


Create an opportunity to let the other person know how you felt about what was going on and be equally sure there’s a place to hear the other side of the story. Don’t issue an invitation that will shame or anger the other person. Try something like “I miss you. Could we get together and talk?” or maybe, in an e-mail, “Could we have lunch together next Friday?”

And find a comfortable and neutral place to do it – preferably away from both your homes – like a back booth in a restaurant, or a park bench. Somewhere that will help keep expressions of anger under control and neither one of you will possess location control.

Before making your reconciliation move, be sure you know what you hope for as a result. Do you want to call off the divorce? Or have lunch together on occasion in the future? Maybe just feel comfortable riding the bus together? Or feel that you’ll be able to enjoy eating Thanksgiving dinner with the family. You don’t need to announce your goal at the beginning –or even at the end – of the discussion. But know when you are satisfied that you are both feeling better about the whole thing – or at least you are.


Don’t start out with something like, “I’m trying to figure out why you didn’t see that what you were doing was wrong.” And don’t start out with, “I know I did something wrong, but so did you.” “Wrong” is not a positive word. Not only does it imply blame, but also it just plain creates a negative atmosphere – and may give the other person an opportunity to latch on to what you did wrong, or get defensive, either reaction interfering with an open discussion.


Don’t start out with a focus on you. That could be a conversation closer, as the other person might reply something like, “Oh, that’s (meaning ‘You’re’) the problem.” Or you might get a sympathetic reaction like, “That’s OK. Don’t feel bad about it. I’ve already forgiven you.” A good reconciliation discussion requires paying attention to both sides, listening carefully to each other, and searching for the positive in what each has to say.



Be honest about what is bothering you, and then expect the same from the other person.



Like preparing for an important test or interview, picturing how good you’ll feel when it’s over can be relaxing — stress-reducing.


Posted February 28, 2019 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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