The Changing Times and Views

Lately, it has been a very busy time for us as a family, and a time full of changes and challenges for us all.

Health challenges.

New jobs.

Lost feathered friends.

Changing or adjusting goals.

New realities.

We have faced them all. All within the last month or so, and it has been a whirlwind. At times, it seemed almost overwhelming. No, scrap that. It was overwhelming, but then we refocused and found our way again.

This journey of ALS is teaching us so much. Our old self-expectations have to be re-visited and adjusted almost daily. That huge garden that could produce most of our produce needs? It has to be trimmed back as we just don’t have the time, energy, or enough help to accomplish it all. The hope of having the kitchen project done by the first of July? Not happening.

None of this is due to lack of effort or devotion. It is because of the sheer amount of work and time involved in the daily realities of our changing lives. The time spent on things like medical appointments and improving accessibility is almost unimaginable.

What we are learning is that the quality of life, and love, matter more than anything, and that, that we have!

 

Hello!

Wow, I suddenly realized how long it has been since my last post.

Over the last months, our lives have been a whirlwind of activity. First, we had to deal with a Vermont winter. Then we traveled as a family to a vacation in the Dominican Republic, then got COVID, and were all consumed with making needed adaptations to our home with my husband’s changing needs.

It has been a time of reflection. Of laughter and trying to stay hopeful. Of fun and fear. Of grieving for what we have lost, and what we will lose. It has been a time of snuggles with Scout, and knitting.

Finally, it is time for the vegetable garden. I can not tell you how much good it does my spirit to see the garden coming to life. The first meals of produce from our garden have been a gift both in terms of taste and the sense of hope they have provided.

The Story of the Story

My first, and latest, novel releases tomorrow!

What do I mean by that? My newest novel, That Missed Call, will be released by Between the Lines Publishing tomorrow, and I can’t wait!

This novel was the first complete novel I ever wrote, started in 1993, when I was a stay-at-home mom. Our Sam didn’t believe in naps. Frankly, he found the world too interesting to waste time on sleeping. He would, however, take time each day when he would happily listen to music (Yanni and Meatloaf), play with toys, or look at books in his crib. He would babble away, and I would sit nearby, working on our old Mac computer.

The story of Kat and Alex started from a snippet of a dream. As it came to life, it took many strange turns and twists. Over the years, I kept revising it and sending it out to agents and publishers. My first full manuscript request made me scream with joy and excitement.

One day, an agent responded to my query. He liked the general story, but wanted me to make some major changes if I wanted his representation. At that time, it was entitled The Dirty Dishes, and it started with Kat stepping in dog feces while running. After all, in the 1990s, that was a true hazard in New York City! I took the agent’s suggestions to heart, revised it, and for a short while, he half-heartedly represented it.

Another round of major revisions, and the process started over again. Then again. Then again.

Then Sam died. Twenty years had passed since I started the book, and with Sam’s death, I stopped writing completely.

Except I couldn’t stop. I love to write. And that story, by then called The Phone Call, was part of my DNA as a writer, and was part of Sam’s legacy. I needed to see the process through, so I hired a superb editor, and within weeks of that editing process, I had my first publishing contract.

That day, the day of being offered a publishing contract, was one of the most emotional days of my life. I screamed with joy. I cried. I jumped up and down. Other than my husband and our youngest son, I didn’t tell anyone that day, wanting to wait until the contract was signed.

Then I went to the cemetery and told Sam all about it. And I cried again. He had so believed in me and my writing, and I so wanted to hug him with joy.

Fast forward to now, and what was once The Phone Call, is now That Missed Call. It is not the same book in so many ways, as so many talented professionals have worked with me to bring it to this point. So while it is somewhat of a re-release, it is actually what I would refer to as a rebirth of a story that started with a snippet of a dream so many years ago.

 

 

Scout’s Teachings

This is Scout. Scout is our half golden-doodle, half bulldog puppy, who just celebrated her first birthday.

Scout is my teacher.

Those of you who know me personally, know that patience is not one of my virtues. I multi-task almost constantly, and I don’t take the time I should to stop and look at the world, to enjoy its beauty.

Scout is helping me with this.

When I was a child, Ferdinand the Bull, was one of my all-time favorite books. I loved the idea of a bull who sat under trees and admired the flowers.

Scout does that, every day.

Now, let’s be realistic, when I take Scout for one of her at least eight walks a day, I really want her to do her business and let me get back to my list of things to do.

Scout is not about to let that happen.

Scout has to admire the beauty of the world. Snow is falling? Scout sits and tips her head back to enjoy the snow. Flowers are blooming? Scout has to look at each one, and smell them as well. The leaves are turning the colors of fall? Scout gazes at them with awe. Rain is falling? Scout has to stop and watch the drops falling into puddles, mesmerized by the patterns in the water.

This picture is of Scout in one of her favorite places, sitting on the back deck, on a chair, staring out at her land and her creatures. Yes, she is always watching to make sure that a rabid squirrel isn’t thinking about coming near her fire pit, but most of the time, she sits, her tag slowly wagging, as she looks around in wonder.

At first, I tried to hurry her up. It didn’t work, and all it did was frustrate me. Scout didn’t care how fast I wanted her to move, she was (and is) going to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the world, and I am learning to adjust to her way of doing things.

It is a good way to live, and I am so thankful for Scout forcing me to slow down, look at the beauty, and smell the flowers once in a while.

October 8, 2013

What is the significance of the date of October 8, 2013? The significance to me?

October 8, 2013, was the last day I felt fully comfortable in my skin. It was the last day without the constant weight of grief. It was the last day I felt absolute hope.

Now, before you all get worried about me, don’t. By saying that, I am acknowledging and making space for the reality of my own emotions. Those statements are my truth, but they aren’t the entire story.

October 8, 2013, was the last day we saw Sam alive. It was a gorgeous fall day in Vermont. The leaves were turning; the sun was shining; the air was cool but not cold. Ben played a great game of soccer, Sam cheering loudly in the stands. That afternoon, Sam and I had watched Law and Order together, and he’d helped me with chores. Later, he rode with my parents to see Ben’s game.

On those bleachers, in the sunshine, was the last time Sam hugged us. Full of joy, laughter, and love, he gave us tight hugs before leaving with my parents. Later that night, he called to say goodnight and tell us he loved us.

Then came October 9, 2013.

Since that phone call on the morning of the 9th, I have changed. I usually feel out of my element, almost like my shoes are too big or too small, but my entire body feels that way. Even on the most beautiful and hopeful days, days with love and laughter, there is a tinge of sadness, a weight on my heart.

I’m not alone in this. All who loved Sam deeply, still love him deeply, were changed with that phone call on the 9th. We have all had to learn who we are again.

For me, my emotions are closer to the surface now, both joy and sadness. I think I love even more deeply, and feel freer to express that love. I try to see people with the eyes of love and acceptance that Sam always had. As Twiddle says, I try to “love relentlessly.”

Yesterday, I missed the woman I was on October 8th, 2013. I missed her optimism, her joy, her knowing who she was fully.

Today? Today I know who I am now, or who I am trying to become. Today, and every day, I miss Sam, but I also know my job is to carry forth his love into the world.