Do A Sam!

Many of you know of the importance of a particular tree of life for Sam. He loved the person who gave him the necklace, he loved the tree, and he planned on getting a tattoo of that tree.

Since his death, we have all used the saying, “Do A Sam” to mean living your life with a connection to nature, loving/listening to/accepting everyone. Recently, we have gotten to know an incredibly talented artist who helped us design a new tree for “Do A Sam,” which we love, and know Sam would love it too.

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How are they?

Several of you have asked how Hila, Lana and Ellsy are adjusting to their new lives. The short answer is they are all doing beautifully!

The longer answer is that it is truly funny to see how they all are. First, the girls still want to make sure that their “parent” is paying attention to them.

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Everywhere he goes, they want to go. But when he leaves them, they quickly adapt back to running, playing, and learning to be a little herd.

As for Ellsy, he has moved from being pretty hesitant to following them around, making sure they are okay, and sleeping in a guard position at night to protect them. Even when they go exploring (like checking out his grain or smelling the barn), he is right behind them.

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And when they come into the barn to have their bottles? Ellsy either comes right in the barn, or stands watchfully in the door.

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It is so good to see how much happier Ellsy is since he got his new roommates. He had a long, lonely winter, and with friends, he is perking right up again.

Introducing Author J.L. Callison!

As you know, I love to share information about other authors! I love to learn about how and why they write, and share information about their projects.

Today, I am thrilled to introduce a fellow Morgan James Publishing author, J.L. Callison. Make sure to read all the way to the end, J.L. is offering a gift to my readers!

 

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J.L. wrote:

Thanks, Kris, for the opportunity to share with your audience.

Just a bit about me, for what it’s worth. I’m a long-time reader, learning to read before attending kindergarten way back in the days when it was all black and white. My third grade teacher challenged me to read, and I read over three hundred books that school year, including volumes A-H of the World Book Encyclopedia, ending the year reading on an eighth grade level. I made up a lot of stories but never seriously wrote anything, thinking I would do that when I grew up.

When in college, my EN102 tutorial teacher flunked me, and she told me to never try to write, that I couldn’t do it. She was a super-plotter, and I was very much (and still am) a pantser. For over forty years, I didn’t try to write, but I still read voraciously. It was not until I read about Louis L’Amour, that he did not think of himself as a writer but rather in the vein of the old-time oral storytellers, that I decided I could do that, too.

I wrote a few little things, but then remembering what my teacher had said, I threw them away without anyone ever seeing them. I didn’t believe the stories could be any good.

In January of 2013, I contracted the Guillain-Barre Syndrome and became disabled, unable to walk without use of a walker, and for only short distances then. I had been accustomed to working 60-80 hours a week and really didn’t have time to write, but now I had nothing but time on my hands. Bored out of my mind, I started writing a story that I had been mulling over since the mid-80s, a story of two teens who were kidnapped and flown to remote upper Maine. Their kidnapper left them at an empty hunting lodge but hit a goose on takeoff and crashed, leaving them Stranded at Romson’s Lodge.

Having no idea what to do with the story, I wrangled a scholarship to attend a writers conference where I met and interviewed an acquisitions editor. (I didn’t even know one was.) We talked about the publishing process, and when the next interviewee didn’t show up, the editor asked if I had written anything. I told him about my story, and he asked for the manuscript.

Why am I telling all of this? Is it because I think I’m a great writer who just happened to get found? Hardly!

My purpose is this: Don’t ever let someone else destroy your dream, telling you you can’t do something. I don’t remember who it was that said it, but a quote (paraphrased) that has stuck in my mind now for years goes something like this: “Don’t go to your grave with your song still inside of you.”

Each of us has a gift within us. Don’t go to your grave with it still inside of you. Don’t allow someone else to steal your dream or instill the fear in you that you can’t do something. Live your dream!

****

My most recent release is an anti-bullying love story called Rotund Roland. It’s the saga of a boy born with gigantism who is bullied for his size until one teacher and one girl stand up for him when he is in high school, and his musical talent is revealed. It has great reviews from educators and mental health experts as well as from those who have experienced being bullied at some point in their lives. One mental health expert in Canada is using it in a campaign to “Eradicate Bullying Through Love.”

My current project, hopefully being released this summer, is a Christian Romance about a grieving widower who has lost his childhood sweetheart and wife of twenty-seven years. A man-hating woman who was sexually abused as a girl is thrust into his life. His household is overwhelmed when his daughter’s soccer coach comes to them for temporary shelter after she is badly beaten by her husband. When a tornado destroys their university dormitory, the soccer team also takes refuge there. Life as he knew it was over!

Watch for Kateryna: A Love Story.

My books are available wherever books are purchased online and through my website: www.jlcallison.com Any books ordered through my site are signed and personalized. Email me with any special personalizations you would like.

For Kris’s readers, I have a special gift. I will give you, free of charge, an ebook of my novelette, My Donkey and the Master: A Story of Sanctified Imagination, if you email me and tell me you saw this on Kris’s blog. (Sorry, but it doesn’t work on Kindle.)

Contact me through the website or my email: authorjlcallison@gmail.com I love to hear from readers. Feel free to shoot me any comments or questions.

So, how’d they do?

Several of you messaged me to ask how Hila and Lana did in their new “apartment” last night. They did just fine! Yes, this morning they were really happy to see their humans and to get their bottles, but they did just fine.

Ellsy, well, he still is a bit grumpy, but he kept them company all night, coming out for his own hay once he heard us moving around this morning.

The End of One Era and the Start of Another

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This morning, I came down the stairs from our bedroom, and could hear an unusual noises coming from the basement. When I opened the door, holding two bottles for the lambs, they were standing on the bottom stair, looking very proud of themselves.

After investigating, I found that overnight, they had decided to break-out of their sleeping quarters. Sigh… They had a really good time last night.

In hindsight, their decision to explore their world last night pushed us into a decision we’d been discussing for the last two days. We knew it was time to start their transition to the barn with Ellsy, but wanted to do it slowly as to not shock them. So, as of last night, our plan was to take them down to the barn for a couple hours today, then bring them back in at night. We were going to expand the hours in the barn day by day.

Nope. With their freedom romp last night, it was clear that they are ready for the big barn. So while they played on the deck, we finished their new pen in the barn.

Then, we took them down to the pen and barn. Now, they’ve visited before, but this was different. Hila went first, and since she hates to be away from Lana for even a minute, she was yowling, which didn’t impress Ellsy a whole lot. Then we got Lana, who loves an adventure, and when she got down to the pen, Ellsy came over to rub noses with her.

We moved them into their new (temporary) pen. This is just transitional, giving the three of them time to get used to living together before we let them out all the time with Ellsy.

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They love their new home. Lots of room, new sights and smells, and interesting sounds.

However, Ellsy isn’t quite sure about sharing his space. He decided to stand out in the pouring rain and look in at us all…

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We gave the lambs their bottles, and then left them all to get used to their new situations. We’ll let you know how it goes!

 

My Comfort Zone

I haven’t felt truly comfortable in my own skin since October 8, 2013. That day, even as I  didn’t feel well (I was sick), I knew who I was, what our plan/goals were, and felt pretty comfortable in my own skin.

Then Sam died, and since then, every day brings new learning, new experiences, and a constant sense of being a bit out of my comfort zone. Now, I know that optimal learning happens when you are a bit out of your comfort zone, and that’s great, but sometimes I feel really out of that zone.

Sometimes, however, I/we consciously decide to push ourselves out of our comfort zone purely for the new learning/new experiences.

Thursday night was one of those times. We went to see Twiddle at the Paramount Theater in Rutland. Yes, as you all know, we’ve been to see Twiddle several times before, but again, this was a different experience. First, it was going to be an inside show — we’d only ever seen them perform outside before. Second, we were going just the two of us, not going with our sons. Going with our sons has several benefits. First, we love spending time with them. Second, when we are all together, I can be with people that make me feel safe and loved, and if I want, I don’t really have to interact with other people.

Thursday night, we shifted all of that. We went to Rutland, excited about the concert, but with the knowledge that we might, gasp, need to interact with people we didn’t know. We also had reached out to their band manager and one of the members of the band, to ask if we could connect with that musician for just a few minutes. You see, I wanted to see him in person, and thank him for his work on opioid recovery awareness, and I wanted to give him a copy of my book. Yup, that was a really, really big step for me. Giving a copy of my book to a stranger who I admire, that was a really not-in-my-comfort-zone thing to do.

A while before the venue opened, we got in line with the other concert goers. And we started a conversation with the people behind us. And they were awesome. Then, I got out of line to find the manager, got back in line, and both of us got out of line to go see the band member. After an emotional couple minutes meeting him, we walked back to the line, expecting we needed to go to the end of the line — which was now a LONG, LONG line. As we headed toward the end, the people behind us earlier stopped us, and invited us back to our original spot. The line inched along, and we had great conversations with them.

In the theater, we had to grapple with the intense emotions of being in place with so many wonderful family memories, especially an America concert there, and seeing Arlo Guthrie there. We had to struggle with the regrets that we never saw Twiddle with Sam. And through it all, we talked to new people, sang, danced a little, and felt the love.

Yup, all in all, I was completely out of my comfort zone that night. And what a good thing that was.

 

You really wanted more sheep pictures, right?

Our lambs are amazing! They make us laugh, they are fascinating to watch, and we love their devotion to each other. So, here are a few pictures of them from the last week.

 

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This is Lana, clearly thinking that if she takes a nap by the bucket with the lamb formula powder, it might make her bottle come sooner. She was wrong.

 

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This is the two of them, looking at their reflections in the dishwasher, clearly thinking that there were two sheep stuck inside…

 

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Here is Hila, who loves my computer bag.  Yes, I wipe lamb spit off it each day.

 

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And here are the two of them, so excited to eat a little bit of lettuce. We are slowly weaning them off the milk, adding more grain and hay each day, and are starting to introduce some greens. They were so excited!!

 

What a week!

This week brought some truly intense and beautiful emotions. On Thursday, I was the keynote speaker at a Women’s Day, and got to spend time with some of the most amazing young women. Their warmth, honesty, and openness was a joy to behold. Many of them have struggled greatly in their lives, and their willingness to listen to me speak about grief, hope, and love was a gift for me.

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Then Friday, I received a note in the mail from someone I have known more than twenty years. The whole note was beautiful, but at the end, she added this:

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I sat and cried. What a gift for her to share that memory with us. Sam so loved his siblings, and at the time she described, Sam would have been six years old, keeping his baby brother company and protecting him.

Then today, a package arrived in the mail, and I found this inside:

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A rainbow tree! A hand-painted rainbow tree! It made my heart swell with love and gratitude.

As I’ve said before, we will grieve for Sam for the rest of our lives. But this week, the people who have joined in our journey through reading the book and being part of our lives have reminded me again of the how good people are.

 

 

Should they roam?

Our chickens (laying hens) are basically free range. If you aren’t familiar with the way chickens can be raised and live, that means that at night they go (by choice) into a coop, and we close the entrances to the coop to protect them. They hop up on their roosts, fluff up their feathers, and go to sleep.

Each morning, we take them a feeder of grain, which we put somewhere out on the lawn, or under the deck if it’s raining, and let the chickens out. They roam our land all day. They visit the compost pile, wander around the beehives, walk up and down the driveway, take dust baths, and eat bugs and greenery as they wander. They are happy as they explore, and you can hear them talking to each other as they travel.

Most of the time, they will head back to the coop when it is time to lay an egg. Chickens like to lay eggs in a safe, warm, protected spot, so we have nesting boxes in the coop. They climb in, sit a while, lay an egg, then leave the coop and make a huge amount of noise drawing attention away from that precious egg.

Sometimes, they get into ruts where they instead lay eggs other places, such as hiding them in the hay barn. Then we take a day or two and keep them in the coop so they get back into the habit of using the boxes. They complain incessantly when they have to be inside all the time, so we try to limit the number of times a year we do this.

Yesterday, a hawk got one of our hens. That is a sad event for us. We care for them deeply, and hate to have them taken that way. We could keep them in all the time, and they would be safe, but they would lose the joy of wandering and exploring.

Each time we lose one, which happens about once a year, we talk about keeping them in full-time. Each time, we come to the conclusion that freedom comes with risks that we are willing to take.