Ready for My Close-Up…Not!


Neanderthal Dyane 

(Painted by my beloved father, the violinist Richard Leshin, 1927-2009)


Here I am, looking slightly less like a member of the Homo neanderthalensis species

(Thanks to Crystal Crafton of rap.ture photography)


I hate having my picture taken. 

I posed for pics at my wedding only because I drank two bottles of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque champagne. Ever since that day, I don’t advise any gal to hit the booze a few hours before she gets married. Please allow me to explain…

Our wedding took place six years before my postpartum bipolar diagnosis. However, because of my alcoholic brunch, not eating, and not sleeping the night before our ceremony, I became hypomanic as Craig slipped the wedding ring on my finger. Ugh. Luckily I was able to get a full night’s sleep the following night, and the hypomania quickly subsided.

In keeping with the tradition of this blog, I digress.

Some of you know I turned in my manuscript on October 1st. Until the editing phase begins, there are other tasks to do, such as scheduling a headshot. 

Craig volunteered to take my picture, but I declined because this snob  wanted a professional. I know it’s possible for amateur photographers to take great headshots. One example is the shot my friend, the bestselling author Dan White (Under The Stars, The Cactus Eaters), took of his wife Amy Ettinger, also an author. Check out Amy’s beautiful headshot and what her upcoming book is about, that lucky gal!

Through a friend in my local Facebook group, I was referred to a reasonably priced photographer named Crystal Crafton and I booked her. I refrained from telling Crystal about my aversion to being photographed until we met, for I didn’t want to scare her off! We got together on Tuesday, and I immediately felt at ease with her.

The weather was sunny and clear, so I suggested we shoot at the beautiful Highlands Park across the street. As Crystal snapped away, I gritted my teeth while I emitted the sound the character Mini-Me makes in the Austin Powers movies. The intrepid Crystal had photographed far more challenging  situations, so my freaky noises didn’t faze her.

I was very happy with Crystal’s work! It’s a basic headshot – there’s nothing fancy about it, but I could always use these jazzed-up versions for publicity purposes.

Like this one, which I like to call the “Juice Newton”:


“Just call me angel of the morning, angel!”

I couldn’t resist adding a link to Juice’s video. It has gotten almost 15 million views. (If you watch it, let me know if you think that’s all her real hair!)

Then there’s “The Bellah”:wp-1476983506051.jpg

“Bellah!” is a nonsensical word my high school BFF and I made up. We used to yell it out in the middle of Ms. Shirley’s 10th-grade math class to shake things up.

Option No. Three: “My True Self”:


“Oh yes, I’m a Princess at heart, and you will wait on me hand and foot!”

When it comes to my book, I think about it often and I freak myself out with the dreaded “What If’s.”

What if they cancel my contract?

What if I relapse?

What if someone I love dies over the next year? 

I think my subconscious was trying to get me to lighten up the other night. I had a vivid nightmare in which my editor wrote me an icy email that said, “Your book will need a lot of work! We’re going to need plenty of time! Plus, we’re going to change the title to BRAIN HAMMER.”

I loathe the title BRAIN HAMMER! I love my title. I found BRAIN HAMMER pretty funny, and it felt good to laugh about it. But if it turns out I’m psychic, and my nightmare comes true, well, I’ll find other means to get my story out into the world. I’ll keep you posted! 

Quick Lose It! Update

My friends Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear), Marie Abanga (Merry Marie) and I are using the Lose It! app & website to shed pounds. Thanks, in part, to Lose It!, I lost 40 lbs. Hopefully none of those pounds were taken from my hammer brain. It helps me to stick to Lose It! so I don’t yo-yo. Bradley and Marie’s encouragement helps me to no end. You can sign up for free at – to join our group, search for the Wondrous Writers group at the website.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your wonderful comments & support, and I’ll see you next week, my friends.


p.s. Please don’t get mad at me if you listen to Angel of the Morning and it stays in your noggin waaaaay longer than you’d like!

 Facebook Birth of a New Brain Book Page – please visit & like it!

My new Twitter handle: @DyaneHarwood 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October 2017.


39 thoughts on “Ready for My Close-Up…Not!

    • Thanks so much, Kitt! For some odd reason, your comment went into my Spam folder! What made me check my Spam today was that Jess Melancholia wrote that I comment I left on *her* blog went into her Spam folder! :000 I’m so glad I checked Spamland, and I found your sweet words waiting for me instead of the usual &%*&*&%*%!!! :))))

      I’ve been hard at work collaborating with the graphic artist on the cover design, which the publisher wanted done early, and keeping busy researching book promotion. Of course there’s far too much information available online, but I’m going to participate in Jane Friedman’s webinar “The Keys to a Successful Book Launch” on Nov. 1st. I’ve heard so many positive things about her, and she’s usually one of the top speakers at the San Francisco Writers Conference every year.

      In any case, there’s no rest for the wicked! 😉

      I will keep you posted.
      Sending you lots of love always,
      XOXOXOX 💜

      • Thank you for rescuing my comment from spam. How dare Askimet consider my comment spam. Makes me wonder if other wonderful comments of mine have been similarly dismissed and summarily trashed.


    Those pictures are hil-ar-ious. Soooooooooooo glad you had fun with them to take the edge off of having to do the photo shoot. And why not make noises? Having to maintain a genuine happiness kinda look is, um, hard, especially when it’s going to be captured 300 times. Come ON, no one likes standing still and smiling for that long. That’s why models never smile. 🙂

    Random wedding trivia: Bo and I played thumb battles throughout the sermon and songs. My father was…um…well he was a little amused. We did have the smarts to stop when it came for rings. 🙂

    UGH ok back to grading. Always lovely to bestow a bow and honor to my lovely Java Queen! xxxxx

    • “Just call me angel of the morning, la la la la la!!!!!” Don’t use THAT for your writing music, HA HA!!!! I got a new coffee called Daybreak, and I think it’s finally working, Jean. (It’s about noon here.)

      My BFF Mike made those for me and sent them my way. Avi and Rilla have the same app on their iPod touch thingy (yes, they are spoiled – in our defense, I think we got one of them used!) and they know how to play with images too.

      Yes, it’s hard to keep smiling, although I AM quite a faker when it comes to faking smiles. I’m not proud of that fact – it’s just how I coped with being depressed all the time and I used it when interacting with the other moms at preschool, storytime, etc. Of course I’m sure I wasn’t fooling anyone.

      Now, re: thumb wars – is that the same as thumbsies???? I LOVE thumbsies! I think it’s hilarious that you and Bo played with thumbs in any way during the sermon and songs, although I’m sure your father was not thrilled.

      Hope grading is going smoothly and that no one has plagiarized anything yet. My Grammarly subscription will check for that on any document, but I haven’t tried it out. For good reason, of course! I commit a multitude of sins, but I don’t venture into the plagiarizing arena.

      One of those sins is that I haven’t read your new blog post yet, so off I go to read and repent!!!!!

      The Java Princess-Queen-What-Have-You!

      • Oh yes, I know what you mean by faking smiles. I did that a lot with other church families, too.
        I bet thumbsies is the same! No, Dad wasn’t thrilled, but he knew how nervous we were. 🙂 Actually, what was REALLY awesome was watching the video of the wedding. My godmother was going through chemo at the time so she couldn’t attend (she celebrated 10 years cancer free this year!) so we brought the video over a few days later to watch with her. The guy who handled the camera was a friend of my kid brother. At one point he honed in on the focus and whispered: “I feel like a total sniper up here.” His girlfriend hissed something, and he said something about the microphone, and then they stopped talking.
        I laughed SOOOOOOOO HARD!
        One never knows the good memories that can come from such an anxious time. 🙂 xxxxx

  2. That is an absolutely gorgeous headshot. You look so beautiful my Lady Dy! (in all of those pics 😘) I’m glad you’re moving through the motions of getting this book out. I’m learning so much from you about the whole process and taking very diligent notes. Due to the craziness of my life right now I haven’t touched my book. It’s been sitting in my desktop collecting digital dust. It’s hard to want to keep going. But I’m cheering you on every step of the way. Let me know if you ever need a person to vent to. You can always DM me on Twitter. Take care and keep up the great work.

    • Lovely Lady Jess!

      Thanks for that super-fab Twittter shout-out! I 💗 it!

      It’s soooo nice to have friends like you who help get the word out on my behalf – it’s something I’ll never forget, that’s for sure. And thank you for the compliment! I’m soaking it in as I type away. 😊

      You WILL get to your book. I know you will.
      (By the way,”sitting on my desktop collecting digital dust” – that’s a good one -I’ve never heard that expression before! )

      You’ve already accomplished so much in a very short time w/HuffPost, BP Magazine, Intl Bipolar Foundation etc. To use the cliche, whatever you set your mind to, you’ll do it, although it might take longer than you’d prefer. I’ll cheer you on your path to publication as well!

      It’s great to know you’re there for me as far as DM’ing on Twitter goes. Since I dislike the phone, that’s an ideal way for me to touch base, and I know you won’t bill me for venting therapy!!!

      Sending you lots of love, and thanks for truly walking the walk when it comes to being there for me –
      I see what you do and I feel it! I feel the magic! 😉

  3. I love your headshot. I had to get one taken for a magazine story that I was interviewed for and I’m still embarrassed. Crystal did a great job.

    • Awww, thanks! I did my own makeup and didn’t use much – plus I have “lithium hands” which don’t make for the best application of things such as eyeliner and mascara, LOL! At least blush was easy. Someday I’d love to get professional makeup done and take more pics. Thanks so much for the kind words.

      p.s. What magazine story was that, my friend?? 😉 I bet your picture was much better than you thought it was – we writers are so hard on ourselves!

    • Thanks Tessa – you’ve been so kind to me, and you made my day! And yes, I hope that nightmare doesn’t come true, but at least it made me laugh a little, and that never happens! 😉 💖

    • You nailed it, my lovely Van 🚐 about my Dad’s strengths in his painting style. I think he was able to paint certain aspects of the face soulfully. It was a hobby he truly loved!

      That said, I prefer his landscapes, and I’ll include some of those in a future post!
      💖 The Emoji Princess (You’re the Emoji Queen 👑!!)

      p.s. Thanks for what you wrote about my smile! I’m hesitant to ask Crystal if she photoshopped my teeth to make them less yellow, LOL. I wasn’t sure if she softened skin around my eyes, but when I looked at the pics close up, I could see wrinkles, or “full life lines.”- there’s got to be a better word for them!

  4. My lovely lady, yes we writers and lots others you know, are often too hard on ourselves. It took me literally 30 and plus plus years to realize, admit and reflect on how badly I was holistically devaluing myself. As a kid and teen, I hated pictures and never smiled… I love all your pictures and your portrait by Dad. What a relic that is now. Talking about violinist, am reading a book about one and just realise how tough being one is. The practice non stop and holding the violin right and yourself too etc

    • Thank you, Ella Mama! 😉 😸

      That’s a crying shame you didn’t smile in pictures as a kid and teen, because you have a super-radiant smile that could light up the planet! 🌍

      Yes, the pictures my father painted are precious, and they’re small & light – super-portable! I’m glad he didn’t use big, ‘ol canvases for his hobby.

      That’s so cool you’re reading a book about a violinist – please let me know what it is when you can. When Dad retired in the early 2000’s, over 100 people auditioned for his spot. Now it’s at least 400-500 violinists who audition for an opening in that orchestra – talk about crazy competition! 🎻The Los Angeles Philharmonic pays the most out of any orchestra in the U.S., so that’s quite a draw….

      • Ha lady we do lear everyday, I just finished that book and it’s to the violin extend, about an american chinese mother married to an american jew, who wants her second daughter to bloody excel at playing that violin and being the ochestra something by 10 come sun or showers. The daughter struggles and at 13 she rebels big time. That is where I read about the gruelling practice and pressure and stress and competition and note, études and etc and lobbying to be godfathered by some star or trained by so and so and go to this or that prestigeous music school where only 12 are taken each year etc etc. Well, as for not smiling ans a kid, it was simply and honestly because I already loathed/hated myself and my home and it wasn’t made any better for me by mine… I coulnd’t believe there was anything pretty about me especially when I was drilled and insulted the reverse you know…

  5. The “Hello Kitty Princess” look is 100% you! To ease your anxiety you take a good head shot.

    • First off, *thank you* for the kind words, Vic! I love the “Hello Kitty” look – it cracked me up – the eyebrows alone are pretty spellbinding. I didn’t think I could pull off purple-magenta eyebrows, but maybe I can! 😉

  6. I didn’t watch the video and that song is STILL in my head. At least it was something to replace the “Facts of Life” theme song!!!!

    I love love love your head shot! Crystal definitely found a way to make you comfortable or at least look like it.

    • Leslie, you made me laugh!
      Beware of Juice Newton’s video – if you listen to it, you won’t get that dang song out of your head for at least 3 full days, and it will make “The Facts of Life” theme song seem like nothing!

      Scary!!!!! 😱

      Thanks SO much for what you wrote about my headshot – your comment made me feel good!
      Sure, I could’ve been more relaxed, but considering I couldn’t run to my former substances (alcohol, chocolate binges) I’m giving myself credit! 😉

  7. Your beauty shines through the lens. I have hundreds of photos of you from birth on and you always had a special glow !
    I wear a heart around my neck given to me by your father … Thank you for our beautiful baby girl…..🎼❤️

    • 🎻 Thanks Mom; I remember Dad had a nice camera (Canon?) and he sure loved taking pictures, didn’t he? I have a ton of them up here. 📷

      Love you! talk soon. ❤️💜💚

  8. Oh thank god the comment box! Took me forever to get here. Love your close-up! And especially love your princess picture, Lady Dy. Definitely the perfect one for you! Your blog posts are so fun and amazing. I must start blogging ala you! Love and hugs and many, many thanks for your love and support. 💝💝

    • Hey beautiful, it’s Princess Dyane here! I’m *very* glad you’re starting to feel better, and I HOPE-HOPE-HOPE you’re feeling even better *now*.

      I can’t thank you enough for the kind words. (But thank you all the same x infinity!)😜

      Our brains are so weird and baffling, aren’t they? I used to have no problem coming up with topics to blog about every morning when I was at a higher dose of Seroquel. Then that flow downshifted when I lowered the Seroquel, strangely enough. You might think the opposite pattern would occur. So yes, the creativity didn’t flow as much. I don’t get it. It’s all so complex!!! I’m still at 900 mg lithium and 30 mg Parnate/tranylcypromine and carry Seroquel with my in case I ramp up with hypomania or have a panic attack. I take some vitamin D, vitamin B and that’s it. I eat way too much almond butter, my treat, but my therapist told me it’s okay because it has a lot of serotonin in it!!!! I use my Sunbox every morning and I cut down on sugar about 85%, which used to be my primary food source. I still drink too much coffee as you know! ☕️And I’m still a potty mouth, which I need to simmer down, but it’s SO HARD especially when I drive around here and have so many near death experiences and deal with idiots who shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel. My girls tell me I have to wash my mouth out with soap. That’s a red flag, I know! 😜

      When you’re up to it, I want to see more tweeted pictures and/or a blog of Fluffin! Gotta get my Fluffin fix! 😻 sending you lots of love, and please let us know how you’re doing over at Bipolar1 when you can! ❤️

      • I want you to feel better sooo bad, Samina. I’m praying for you tonight! Thanks for the incredible compliments – my energy isn’t so hot today. :(((( It ebbs and flows far more than I’d like – here’s to both of us having better, much more consistent energy because gosh darn it, we deserve it!!!! 💖

  9. I saw your questions in Plain Ol’ Vic’s “Ask Me Anything” post and decided to follow you :). I love bloggers who post regularly and apparently you’ve been doing so for years, so I look forward to following you and gaining some inspiration for my own new blog 😉 if you like travel and photography and random adventures I hope you’ll check it out. Nice pics by the way lol.

  10. I LOVE your pics – have to say my two favourites are your father’s portrait of you – there is a likeness there and lots of love in every brushstroke. And I love your Princess version – it looks a lot of fun and I could see myself going down that route… Though at my age, perhaps I ought to aspire to the QUEENLY look? Thank you for swinging by my site and introducing yourself:)

Comments are closed.