The Art of Fine Writing

Fifteen years ago, my world operated out of my left brain—the side that deals with the facts and numbers and organizational skills I needed to run my business—but the right side of my brain was screaming at me to let some creative energy flow. As a kid, I fancied myself a decent writer, so I decided to nurture that creative voice with a class at the local community college. The class I chose was “The Art of Fine Writing” taught by a local author, Bruce Taylor.

Bruce’s Shadow

To say Bruce changed my life is an understatement. He taught me how to write, what to write, and most importantly, why we write (and why we may have been programmed to believe we couldn’t write). Bruce told me I could open that door and soon the words started jumping out of my brain and onto the page. Each exercise brought out more and one day Bruce’s prompt led me to create a character who turned out to be a major force in my first novel. A novel! I never thought I would actually write a novel, much less get it published, but Bruce gave me the confidence to move forward. Without that class and an unlikely hero named Bruce Taylor, my life would have followed a very different and much less satisfying path.

We never know who may walk into our lives and take our journey in a different direction. Have you ever wondered if you may be that person in someone else’s life? Everyone we meet touches our lives in some way either for a moment or for a lifetime. Maybe I am that person for someone as Bruce was for me.

There were many steps along the way in my writing journey, but I took that first step with Bruce. So, because of him, I am now an author—a dream come true. I wish I could tell him, but I can’t because…

In memory of Bruce Taylor

Bruce Taylor died last week.  And although I thanked him for teaching me “The Art of Fine Writing”, I wish I had gone a step further and told him what a profound effect he had on my life. I thought I had all the time in the world to let him know. The truth is, we only have today, and we need to tell the people in our lives what they mean to us. I wish I had told Bruce.

Rest in peace, Bruce Taylor. You made a difference in many lives and I will be forever grateful that I met you in my quest to learn “The Art of Fine Writing”.

Put Me In, Coach

Put me in, Coach, I’m ready to play today. My last team didn’t work out even though we both played what we thought was our best game. That’s the problem with life, as in baseball, you can have a great individual performance, but the team might still lose. My team lost.

Time to get off the bench

I’ve been sitting on the bench for almost eleven years now and although I’ve taken an occasional at bat, I haven’t found a new “team”. So, what better way to improve my game than hiring a coach. I really didn’t believe I needed anyone telling me how to organize my life, but when I met Robin through a friend and we started talking, I knew he could get me off the bench and back in the game.

To be honest, I’m still warming the bench for now, but at least I’ve developed the skills to finally go out and play again. This time with more joy and intention and a clearer picture of what I need to thrive on a new team. I know I can’t make the team if I don’t take a few at bats and improve my game. And I know I want a teammate who has worked on his game, too.

My favorite baseball player

I never realized life was so much like baseball, but as I write this—on opening day of Mariners season—I see baseball has always been a metaphor for life. Even in high school we talked about our dates getting to first base and later many of us hit what we thought was a home run. We found a full-time team. Unfortunately, as in baseball, there were cuts and trades that led to us to warming the bench again as we searched for a new team.

As I take those tentative steps from the bench, I’m ready to climb out of the dugout, but only for the right team. My new team needs to bring me smiles and laughter every day as we take road trips near and far. Traveling through the final chapter of this journey, I want a teammate that communicates with me on the deepest level as we allow each other to bear our souls with curiosity and flexibility—a true partner. And, oh how I want adventures with a team that respects me even when I act a little crazy. In fact, I hope my teammate will also exhibit a little of the exuberance I’ve had to tamp down on previous teams. I’m ready to let the world point and laugh at my new team as we sing in the rain and dance in the street. Now that I’m no longer warming the bench, I hope this time I’ll hit a home run.

So, put me in, Coach. I’m ready to play today…

Cautiously Optimistic

Exactly two years ago today—New Year’s Day 2020—I sat at my favorite table at Rory’s watching the Ferries float by. I was enjoying a meal alone and was truly enjoying my solitude as I contemplated the possibilities for the coming year. Would I find an agent or publisher for my book at one of the writers’ conferences I planned to attend? Would Brittney and I enjoy the European vacation we were planning for September? Would I lower my handicap—after all golf season was only three months away? All good questions which were answered with a big fat “NO” two months later when Covid put us in lockdown. The solitude I had enjoyed on January 1, 2020 was not so enjoyable when it became mandatory.

And now, two years later, Brittney and I are eating our New Year’s Day dinner at Rory’s armed with vaccines and boosters to contemplate the possibilities of 2022. You’re probably saying, “Hey, you forgot 2021.” No, I remembered. While there were some very good things that happened in 2021, it was all too similar to 2020—we are still in the middle of this pandemic and some days it feels like it may never end. I still want to go to Europe or on a cruise (just canceled my January sailing) or go to a sporting event or concert without the fear of Omicron. I guess this is our “new normal” and I don’t like it!

Despite the indisputable evidence that tells me we’re not out of the woods yet, I am cautiously optimistic about this year. Last year was an improvement over 2020, so I am hopeful 2022 will bring more joy than 2021. That being said, I did have some wonderful moments in 2021 as follows:

  • I got a break from my solitude when Brittney came home for several months
  • After losing my dog, Hanni, in 2020, I adopted Benny in 2021—a wonderful addition to my life
  • Golf season was almost normal in 2021
  • My book, The Price of Secrets, was published in 2021

So, there was much to be grateful for in 2021. I’m hoping the trend continues in 2022.

I guess what I learned the last two years is that we can find happiness even in the midst of chaos. I have developed closer bonds with friends and family, and I’ve learned to appreciate things that once seemed unimportant. All the little things have added up to a pretty good life. Of course, I want more, but whatever happens in 2022, I will do my best to accept the changes and find joy with those around me—even if we are masked and/or six feet apart. I’m cautiously optimistic.

Happy New Year!

P.S. The Price of Secrets is currently on sale on Amazon. Read the first three chapters for free, but be aware that the story heats up in Chapter four.

Invincible

Maybe invincible is pushing the envelope a bit, but I’ve got to say getting my Covid 19 booster last week makes me feel safer than I’ve felt in quite a while. In seven days the vaccine will reach maximum effectiveness and I’ll truly feel as strong as Wonder Woman (my favorite superhero). Even with my sore arm, I feel a freedom and lightness of heart I haven’t felt in almost two years.

Anyone who tells me they don’t have Covid exhaustion, is either lying or they really enjoy their solitude. Unfortunately, many who are not vaccinated are NOT living in isolation and with their blatant disregard for science and their strong desire to socialize, the pandemic rages on.

Sadly, I know a couple of people who have refused to vaccinate, and although they are at least being careful, I really wish they would reconsider. The biggest fear is an allergic reaction (like Aaron Rodgers – Really, Aaron, a big strong guy like you? If you’re so afraid of drugs, I hope you don’t take anything for your injuries. That shit is much more toxic than a Covid 19 vaccine.). But I digress. I know from experience that allergies can be concerning. I’ve had a few scary allergic reactions to prescriptions in my time, but I took a leap of faith with this vaccine and now I feel like I can actually leap tall buildings – or at least have coffee with my friends. One step closer to truly being INVINCIBLE!           

Polio almost erased us

For anyone who is still not convinced that the vaccine is safe, please ponder some history: What would have happened if our predecessors refused to get vaccinated for smallpox? Or measles? Or polio? Or whooping cough? Many of us would not be here today because our grandparents or parents wouldn’t have lived to bear children. My own father nearly died of polio before vaccines were available and before I was conceived. (I’m so glad he survived to give me my life! But his life would have been so much better without the residual effects of his polio).

Vaccines have saved so many lives so why is this vaccine suddenly a symbol of freedom – a political war cry? When did we stop caring about our fellow humans for the sake of politics? This is not a political issue; this is a matter of LIFE or DEATH.

I’m sure everyone knows my politics and either agrees with me or…likes me anyway. I hope I haven’t overstepped my reach on my usually non-political blog, but if I’ve pissed some people off, so be it! I will no longer be silent on an issue that could have ended the pandemic months ago. If you disagree, please feel free to express your views in the comments.

To anyone who is still reading, this is my plea: Get a shot in the arm and do your part in saving humankind.

Love to all. Be safe, be kind and be like me – Invincible!

 

Carpe Diem

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One of Dad’s favorite expressions was Carpe Diem. He told me it meant “seize the day”. As a kid I didn’t know what that looked like—I was always looking forward to the next big event. I remember the words I spoke so often: “I just can’t wait until…(vacation, summer, Christmas, my birthday, you name it, I couldn’t wait)”. My mother’s response: “You’ll just have to wait.”

So, I spent my childhood waiting. Did I enjoy my individual days? I think so, but maybe that’s just me reflecting on my past, thinking about neighborhood picnics, evenings playing kick the can and afternoons swinging on the rope swing that flew out over the gully.

I have been guilty of thinking too much about the past (either romanticizing or regretting my decisions) or worrying about the future. Did I live for the day? Did I ever “seize the day”? I don’t think so, but that changed for me when the pandemic hit. Why did it take so long?

Today is yesterday’s future and will be tomorrow’s past, but it will mean nothing if I don’t live TODAY to the fullest. That doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind by eating all the chocolate or laying on the couch watching trash TV(although I’m not above that). To me, making the best of each day means taking a walk, exploring the world around me, writing a new chapter or reading someone else’s words, calling a friend, comforting a loved one—in other words, just being present. I’ve seen more beauty in the world and found more connection in the past year than I had in the past ten years. It is wonderful to be present even as we stand six feet apart.

Now, with vaccinations, we can move a little closer, hug our friends and really “seize the day”—or can we? As much as I try my best to focus on this day alone, I can’t help worrying about the future just a little. Where are we going from here? Will we ever reach herd immunity if people keep refusing vaccinations? Will it ever be safe again to “seize the day” without fear? I hope so.

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I was supposed to be in Whistler this week, enjoying my timeshare with some of my wonderful Canadian friends. The border is opening a bit too late for me this year, but as much as I’d like to say, “I just can’t wait till next year” (as I so often did as a kid), I will find joy in today in my own little world. I will take a walk with my new best friend, Benny (my adorable rescue dog), post this blog, maybe add a chapter to my next book and later, I hear there’s a live band playing at my favorite golf course tonight. I’m on my way…

Carpe Diem!

 

 

To Hug Again…

IMG_0010To hug or not to hug? That is the question. For the past year, I’ve opted for the safe route—NOT to hug—not just to keep myself safe, but to make sure I am keeping those around me safe. It’s been incredibly hard to keep my arms at my sides when I want to hug my daughter, my sister or my friends. I have kept my hands to myself for over a year, but not without a price.

I don’t think I am alone when I say the lack of human touch affected my health. A massage would have been nice or even someone to just hold my hand or put an arm around my shoulder. Being single this past year has made it even harder as I chose not to risk entering the dating pool.perf5.000x8.000.indd

The good news here is my lack of social interaction provided an opportunity to hunker down and get serious about finding a home for my book. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so focused on that if I were out playing with my friends. A little promo here: you can buy my book, The Price of Secrets with the links on this blog and I would not be opposed to you sharing any positive remarks 😊.

The bad news, of course, was the lack of human touch. One of the hardest things I faced was sharing my home with my daughter for almost a year while avoiding those coveted hugs. Because of our forays into the world (grocery store, golf course, Costco), we were both afraid to hug—she was afraid for me because I was old and I was afraid for her because she has asthma. I am so happy to say that all changed when we were both vaccinated. We finally feel free to hug one another.

As we all get vaccinated, the world is opening up. I only hope EVERYONE will go forward with the vaccine so we won’t regress to the levels of last year. I don’t want to live my life on ZOOM! I hope all of you will soon be feeling as safe as I do (I’m 3 months past my second shot). It’s a wonderful feeling and…

I am ready to hug again!

Release Me!

When I was eleven years old, writing my first article for the Nosy Neighborhood News, I had big dreams of writing books, essays, poetry and the like. As the years passed, I was convinced that becoming an author was, indeed, a dream I would probably never realize. (I still hear voices in my head telling me to do something productive rather than artistic).

But a few years ago, after spending most of my life making a living, I decided to make a life. I started putting words on paper (or cyber paper)— scratches in a notebook, notes on loose scraps of paper, ramblings on my computer—that seemed to be forming a story. A novel seemed like a daunting task, but one word after another, after another, after another led to more words than I had ever written and now all those words are about to be published.

Yes, I have a Worldwide Release date from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, Inc. and here it is:

The Price of Secrets—Release date April 7, 2021

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am over the moon about this. It is truly a dream come true for a little girl who didn’t dare believe she would one day be an author. But I did it!  On April 7, 2021 I will officially be a published author.

Reaching this point has been a lifelong journey, but I am here to tell you that whether you’re in your 20’s or 60’s (my category)—or anywhere in between or around the edges—it is never too late to reach for the stars.

So, for all my friends sharing their stories, drawings, paintings or crafts on Facebook or for those afraid to share their creative voice, I say “Go for it!” Let the world see you.

I see you.

The Price of Secrets

Contrary to the title of this piece, I’m not harboring a life-altering secret.  Maybe I’m holding on to a few little secrets from my mostly vanilla life, but nothing for which I am paying much of a price. The truth is, I am not good at keeping things to myself, so my life is pretty much an open book.

But speaking of books, my novel, THE PRICE OF SECRETS, will be published this year—hopefully in a couple of months—with this beautiful cover. Unlike me, my main character, Jamie Madison, has one big secret while those around her have a few secrets of their own. Here’s a little teaser:

If Jamie Madison had never come home, her secret would have been safe. But safety in not in her DNA and now DNA is exactly what she needs to unravel her long-kept secret. Despite the consequences, she’s on her way home for her twenty-fifth high school reunion where she will find the answers she seeks. Will she have the nerve to reveal the secret that has haunted her since she left Seattle after her high school graduation twenty-five years ago?

Writing this book made me realize that we all have secrets—big or small—that most of us are afraid to share with the world. Maybe the price of sharing our secrets is small, but maybe some of us have secrets that have stolen a piece of our hearts for many years. Is it time to share your secrets? Although this book is definitely NOT autobiographical, there are a few characters with traits quite similar to people in my life. So, my big secret is that this book healed a broken piece of my heart when I think of those friends and/or family members (still keeping the secret of which characters mirror real people).

It is no secret that I have missed friends and connection this past year. I’m a hugger and have not been able to use my arms for that much needed embrace of love and comfort. I promise all of you I will hug each one of you as soon as we are all safe again—maybe at my book launch!

Rose Colored Glasses

I’ve always had a tendency to look at the world through rose colored glasses, hoping for the best and believing that things will get better. Even with the rosy tint, I can’t say the world is meeting my expectations at the moment as I wake up each day, don my mask and head out into a virus infused environment. Honestly, as I remove the glasses for a moment, clusterfuck seems to describe the scene.

Despite the world view, my personal outlook continues to be filtered through those rose colored glasses and it finally paid off.

It has been my dream for many years, to finish my first novel and find a home for my crazy story. I don’t know where this story came from—I swear this is not an autobiography—but I loved the way it turned out and I desperately hoped an agent or publisher would feel the same. Finally, I got my wish.

I accept this rose

After five years of querying and pitching my novel, on August 30, 2020 at 8:35 p.m. I received the email I had been waiting for from my new publisher—The Wild Rose Press. My rose-colored glasses manifested a garden full of roses—my division in their family is the Champagne Rose where they place all their Women’s Fiction titles. In that email, they welcomed me to their garden and offered me a contract which I, of course, accepted. It will take some time to edit and complete the details, but soon I will be able to say I am a published author.

 Me? An Author?

If you can’t tell by now, I am over the moon with excitement. This is a dream come true and I am so very grateful for all the help and support I received from friends, family and especially my critique group who helped me with changes that may have made the difference.

Goodbye Sweet Hanni

Seven has always been my lucky number, but on July 7, 2020 my luck ran out. On the Hanni's last car ride7th day of the 7th month of a year that has been like no other, my sweet Chiweenie, Hanni, took her last labored breath. With Britt by my side, I held Hanni in my arms as my wonderful Veterinarian helped her cross the Rainbow Bridge peacefully.

In her last days, I carried her outside to do her business as she could no longer see. Despite her impaired vision, she still found joy in sniffing the grass and laying in the sunshine. On rainy days, she opted for the puppy pads, usually getting close, but often causing ‘mom’ to clean up behind her. I was happy to do it for this girl—the sweet girl who brought me so much joy over the past eight years.

My only regret is that I only had her for eight of her fourteen years. My sister rescued her about ten years ago and gave her to my mom. I, in turn, rescued her from my mom two years later. Maybe Mom thought she was being kind when she fed her snacks, but after too many dove bars and several added pounds, Hanni needed a new home and I was elected.

Although I had sworn I would never have another pet (it’s too damn hard to let them go), I agreed to take her in and have not regretted one day of our journey together. Many have said she was lucky to have such a loving home, but I know in my heart that I was the lucky one.

She arrived as my kid left for college, so my empty nest had room for a companion—someone to talk to at night and, surprisingly, one who talked back to me. I wish I could share the video of her sweet howl as I swear it sounds like “I love you”, matching my words to her. Yes, I loved that girl…so very much.

And, I’m not the only one who will miss her. Cash barked at her every day, but now she wonders what happened to her little pal.

I will miss our walks around the neighborhood and

our trips to the dog beach where she reigned as Queen. It didn’t matter if the dog was a great dane or a miniature poodle my little chihuahua-dachsund mix (a.k.a. chiweenie)  let those dogs know she was the boss.

 

The days were wonderful, but more than anything, I’ll miss settling in for the evening with her head on my lap. She knew I needed her these last few months and I can never thank her enough for making quarantine bearable. I can only hope I made her last days a little easier, too.

 

Love you, Hanni girl.