Orange Candy and A Very Cute Puppy

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I just got back from Kansas City and worked three days with the talented folks at Springboard Creative who are overseeing the graphic design of my book. I had a great time hanging out with Young Kevin (on the left), Miranda with baby Ollie, and Old Kevin (on the right). I can call Old Kevin old because I worked with him in college, which means if he’s old, I’m a little old myself, and therefore we can be old together, although I don’t think either of us acts very old. Anyway, he owns Springboard Creative and manages some really cool projects around the Kansas City area, as well as teaches graphic design across the country. I love his slogan: Continue reading

After Pounding the Books, I’m Pounding Out My Own Book.

Thank you to everyone who commented on this recent post. I appreciate all your congratulations. Funny thing is, it was buried in my archives as a draft and when I started revamping my blog site this week, I accidentally posted it. So, the truth is, I finished my classes in April and was so so so excited and thrilled to be finished then. After I realized I posted this post however, and thinking it was past news and not realizing so many of my awesome friends saw it and commented on it, I removed it.

But, here it is again with a photo of my certificate because did I mention, I was/am so so so excited and realized after seeing your posts that, considering all the bad news we’re exposed to, I figure we just can’t celebrate enough good news with family and friends can we? And yes, now that my classes are finished, I am focused on all the work that needs done to publish my book this fall.  Thanks for your encouragement. Means a lot.

Much has happened this week. The biggest thing being: I finished my classes at Daytona State College. Yes!!! I am finished. For those of you who don’t know, I earned a certification in sales, marketing, and service entrepreneurship in an effort to figure out how to turn my writing into a career. I don’t know what it’s like to earn a degree beyond a bachelor’s, but I feel like my little certification was like earning a doctorate’s degree. Not that four classes was anything near that accomplishment, but for me, it felt like it could have been. I decided early on that I didn’t like being in school at age 52. Ugh. So, the thrill of finishing was/is a huge deal.

The second thing that happened is my editor finished the first of two rounds of edits on my book. After her content edit last month where I wound up re-organizing some material, totally re-working one chapter, and adding a final chapter, she then spent this month editing everything: grammar, punctuation, spelling, clarity, etc. And…drum roll…my book is in good shape now. I’m working on fixing a few things, as well as the final final chapter before sending it back to her for the last round of edits, at which point it will be ready for Springboard Creative, where we’ll begin the graphic design work.

Big Climbs Shape Big Buts

(Photo by Dylan Baker, Winter Park High School senior. One of many photos featured in my upcoming book).

It probably appears that I haven’t written much about my road to writing, as discussed in my last blog on Oct. 11. (Has it really been that long? Yikes!)

But, I beg to differ.

I was and have been writing. Just not here.

I am back here though and I’m excited to continue sharing my road to writing. In five words: It has been crazy hard. Beginning first with this blog site. I notice I get on a roll, little things happen (i.e. hurricane, accident, holidays) that derail me, and then I stop. Then what happens next is so NOT “momentous living,” the theme of my book.

I tell myself I don’t want to start blogging again until I have the time, the energy, the know how to do it “right” by all social media standards and rules. Problem is, if I keep waiting until all the planets “rightly” align, until I can follow all the so-called rules, I’ll never start blogging again. And I have much to blog.

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For starters, today I’m in a funk. My 98-year-old grandmother isn’t doing well. I thought I was ready for her departure. Yesterday though, when I received news of her declining condition, I burst into tears. Who is ever ready for death? Some of you might remember my grandmother. I blog about her sometimes. She’s the one who got stuck in the closet with her bra wrapped around her wheelchair. (July post). Yes, her. Beautiful beautiful her. So today, after hearing about her news, I’m in a funk.

And started blogging, for me, for my grandmother. And hopefully somehow for you too.

So, to catch you up…I am still writing that book I keep talking about. And I’m still trying to launch in October. And yes, I will be blogging about all the crazy stuff that goes into birthing a baby book.

For today, the here and now, let me give you a tiny glimpse of what I’m up against by leaving you with the following words from my editor, Alissa McGowan:

“There’s a lot of good material here, and I really love where you’re going with this on the whole. You’ve got great concepts and questions, and your overall message is excellent and with immense potential to impact people and change lives. But I’ll be honest with you: we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Don’t you hate the big buts? You know the ones: All is well, but… You’re awesome, but… This looks good, but…I’ll be honest with you.

Writing a book is like facing a mountain: it involves daunting big buts, as you climb over one boulder, only to be left facing another. There’s much to learn in all of this climbing though, stuff I will be blogging about––a bit imperfectly.

As for my grandmother, she is still here, struggling through every hour of her days left. Yesterday she told me in her weak voice, “I have the best grandchildren in the world. I could put them up against the best of them, and I would come out on top every time.”

That’s why I’m blogging again, in my funked up state, because my grandmother believes in me despite my big buts.

Do you care to join me again?

Please say yes. I would love your company.

And please, invite your friends too. We’ll climb together.

My Road to Writing, 10/11/16

 

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Ever wonder what it takes to be a writer? I have.

Especially since that’s what I’m trying to do, be a professional writer, meaning actually be paid for what I do. I do need to eat after all, and pay bills, and would like to continue traveling and experiencing life outside of my home. I would like to actually use my degree in journalism too, since I worked pretty hard paying for it.

Beyond all of that, I simply, can’t not write.

Soon, I will begin blogging about my experience of shifting from professional homemaker to professional writer, giving you the inside scoop of the birthing of my book. Two words can sum it up, “grueling fulfillment.” But, I can’t leave you there. I am a writer. I must say more, and oh, there is so much more.

For now, I give you the following story:

“The Best Banana Ever”

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A couple weeks ago I was browsing fruits and vegetables at Perrine’s Produce Stand in New Smyrna Beach when I heard a voice say, “I like tomatoes.” I glanced down at the little blond-headed girl next to me, and then I looked all around. No one was near. She was speaking to me.

“I like tomatoes too,” I said.

“I like the little ones,” she continued. “They squish in my mouth. That’s the best part!”

“Yes, that is a good thing,” I said smiling.

Then I heard a mom voice instruct her to pick out her fruit so they could get to the beach.

With her mom’s prompting, the little girl, who looked to be around six or seven, fluttered around here and there, carefully inspecting fruit, all the while contemplating her choices to anyone willing to listen. In the middle of her decision making, she briefly stopped to pet a customer’s small dog.

“I like dogs,” she said to the dog’s owner.

Of course you do, I thought as I continued to smile.

Finally, after much contemplation, the little girl settled on one banana. With her mom accompanying her, she stepped up to the register like a seasoned shopper, opened her little purse, and carefully counted out enough coins to cover the cost of her prized fruit.

“Bye,” she said to the cashier after completing her transaction. “I’m going to eat my banana at the beach today.”

And with that, she lifted her banana off the counter as if it were a newborn baby, and headed out into the sunshine, leaving trails of her own sunshine behind.

OMG!, I thought. How is it that a child can go to a produce stand (not a candy store or toy store mind you), and act as if she just visited Disney? 

That little girl’s full-on presence in her day positively affected my day. When I left with my bags of produce, I felt like I had just visited Disney. Only my magical moment was absolutely free.

Living with Loons

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Loon photo by my good friend, Susan Kranz. 

Just got back from the Adirondacks in Old Forge, NY. I spent the week at David Hazard’s writing Sojourn. It’s so hard to come back from listening to loons––the lake birds that would wake me with their looney conversations.

I love getting out of my little world. And entering into another. This past week, I spent time with an amazing group of diverse people, all trying to capture stories, all so different, yet somehow connected. Each of us facing hurdles, whether personal and/or professional. Each of us joining together in the name of our common ground: “I am a writer.”

I lived in the trees this past week. Breathed the fall, pumpkin air. And napped on the dock each afternoon, stretched out in that peace that passeth all understanding. I went with specific objectives in mind. I came home surpassing them.

Although I had hoped to launch my book by Fall, and although it won’t launch until early 2017 now, all is still good.

Very very good.

Stay tuned my looney friends as I’m gearing up for 2017.

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Crap-your-pants Chances

It’s been a while since I have blogged. Life tends to get in my way. But then, that’s life. Much has been going on though, and so I wanted to update everyone on one of those happenings: my upcoming book. Yes, it’s still happening. The copy is almost done, more critiquing and editing is soon to begin, I’m getting photographers lined up, and this week I met with Kevin Fullerton, a very good friend from college who owns Springboard Creative, a branding company in Kansas City. He helps clients leap boldly. That’s what he will be helping me do with Momentous Living.

Stay tuned.

For now, think about this:

“Playing it safe never leads to success. If you want to be successful you have to take chances. Scary chances. Crap-your-pants chances. You can’t wade into opportunity. You have to leap boldly.” ––Springboard Creative

The Center of Self: a place of dignity

Excerpt from the book I’m working on: Momentous Health, shaping a better world through a better self. Due out October 2016. This passage gives a glimpse into my trip to La Paz, Honduras over Thanksgiving 2013, where I visited the Children of Love Foundation.

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A line meandered down the dirt road outside the chapel. Little hands grasped the wrought-iron gate as children’s dirty faces peered through, patiently waiting to get in. The chapel was simple––one large rectangular room, red brick walls, arched windows on each side that allowed light and fresh air to enter. Center front, beneath the peak of the tin roof, more light filtered through a lead-glass cross inserted into the wall. Its t-shaped reflection rested below on the shiny linoleum floor.

As I peeled the little boy’s soiled socks from his feet, I held my breath, focusing on not throwing up. The smell was overbearing, like getting a whiff of an overused Porta Potty on a sweltering day. This might have been the first time this child had had his feet washed in weeks.

I dipped a plastic container in a bucket, retrieved some cool clear water, and slowly poured it over the boy’s feet. The water dripped down his ankles, between toes and ragged nails, and into a second bucket below, the water now as murky as the reasons to why I was in this third-world country. How will shoes help where poverty affects 60 percent of the population? [1] I wondered, as I dipped the container into the fresh water again and again. The boy remained still, his little face unsure of how to respond to this cleansing. After finally washing away the grime, I dried the boy’s feet with a towel, then slipped new socks and proper-fitting shoes upon his now clean feet. He smiled. I smiled. We parted with a hug––language we both understood.

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[1] http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/country/home/tags/honduras

Living a Life of Dignity

I like to run, but not a lot. Enough to release stress, hang out with friends, and sort through life’s challenges. By the end of my runs, life seems better. More manageable. This year my running plan is to finish my book. That will be my marathon. And . . . it will be . . . a marathon. My finish line is set for October 28, my birthday. Throughout the year I will blog “sneak peaks” into my writing.

Starting right now.

My book explores the word dignity. To begin here, with this word, I want to share a paragraph from a another book written by my writing coach, David Hazard. His bestselling book, Blood Brothers, was published in 1984 with much controversy, as it presented a Palestinian perspective on the ongoing conflict in Israel. It is now translated into 29 languages. David writes the story of Elias Chacour, a Palestinian-Arab-Christian-Israeli. Archbishop Chacour exudes a deep love for both Jews and Palestinians and has dedicated his life to promote peace between these divided people. In fact, he has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I don’t profess to be an expert or understand even a fraction of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. This is what I do profess. The turmoil is deeply rooted, multifaceted, and spans generations. And the turmoil has seriously affected people. Living, breathing people like you and me.

This morning I journaled, “I am grateful for a life in a country of opportunities.” If I choose to better myself, I can. Because I live in America. I have traveled enough to know this to be true. If you have not traveled outside this country, I encourage you to put that at the top of your bucket list. And I don’t mean sign up for a cruise where you disembark for a day to consume umbrella drinks with other tourists. I mean, visit another country. Engage in its culture. Walk in someone else’s shoes. Blood Brothers helped me see the complexity of the issues in Israel. And it left me with this word: dignity.

What does this word mean? I mean, what does it really mean? In everyday life? Out in our world? Within you and me?

Elias Chacour says this, in chapter nine of Blood Brothers, about dignity:

“Suddenly I knew that the first step toward reconciling Jew and Palestinian was the restoration of human dignity. Justice and righteousness were what I had been hungry and thirsty for: This was the third choice that ran like a straight path between violent opposition and calcified, passive nonresistance. If I were really committing my life to carry God’s message to my people, I would have to lift up, as Jesus had, the men and women who had been degraded and beaten down. Only by regaining their shattered human dignity could they begin to be reconciled to the Israeli people, whom they saw as their enemies. This, I knew at once, went beyond all claims of land and rightful ownership; it was the true beginning.”

This word, dignity, is at my book’s core. To be finished October 28.

Thoughts about dignity? About Elias Chacour? About your core?

 

For more information about Elias Chacour, check out these videos:

 

A Soulful Sojourn

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I recently returned from a writing retreat in Old Forge, NY, in the midst of the Adirondacks. I hadn’t experienced this part of our country before. So serene and so beautiful. Nothing like a good ol’ outdoor sabbatical to get your soul moving. I captured this sunrise after hiking up a small mountain with my new friends Susan and Ray. The white stuff that looks like snow is actually fog lingering above the lake.

We paused on top of a rock, looking out at this splendor. And breathed.

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Speaking of breathing, just as breathtaking were the loons. These amazing birds are excellent swimmers, divers, and even fliers. They typically go on land only to mate and incubate eggs. Later, they carry their babies on their backs to keep them warm. What’s most fascinating I think though, is these duck-like birds communicate across the lake waters with their eerie language. We would sit on the dock at night and catch their conversations. Take a listen and experience a piece of my soulful sojourn. Thank you Susan Kranz for your beautiful loon photography.