Monday, July 22, 2013


I think we all forget at times to be grateful for what's good in our lives.

I know that when things are going well (and they usually are), it's easy to forget to appreciate that.  It's even easier to forget to appreciate the good things when something goes wrong.  And by things going wrong, I don't usually mean something catastrophic like a cyclone or an earthquake or a death of a close family member.  I mean a lousy day at work, a burnt dinner, or the dog eating the newspaper.

In the grand scheme of things, how badly do incidents like that affect us?  We might have had a bad day at work, with the boss in a bad mood and more duties to fulfill than we have time, but we have a job.  Maybe not the greatest, maybe not what we really want to do, but something that pays the bills.  Dinner set off the fire alarm?  I'm willing to bet that there's something else in the pantry or refrigerator we could eat.  We're not starving.  The dog ate the paper?  Hey, we know HE'S not starving... and maybe the news would have been too depressing to read anyway (there's always the television, radio, or Internet for those gluttons for punishment who just HAVE to keep up with current events.)

No, mostly we let the petty annoyances distract us from the good and wonderful in our lives.  Why?  Maybe we feel we don't really deserve to have so much good given to us.  Maybe we're afraid that there's going to be some big trade-off for the good stuff.  Or maybe we just take it for granted that the good is supposed to happen and anything that runs counter to that is just unfair.

I try to make it a habit to be grateful for the little things: a beautiful sunset, the rain (especially the rain!), a smile from a loved one, a day where things run relatively smoothly.  It makes me appreciate the really big things even more.

Blogging on the back deck... something to be thankful for!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Friends and Family

Paul and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a big party at home.  The guests were mainly family and friends who we consider family.  In fact, some of these friends we've had longer than we've had certain family members.

Paul and his best friend have known each other for over thirty years... in effect, they have been together longer than Paul and I have been together!  This friend and his family have become part of our family, which includes Paul's biological family as well as mine.  And over the years, as family members grow up and marry and have kids, the family expands as well, bringing in more family and family ties.

The lines between family and friendship tend to blur with us.  We have found our best friends within our family and found family with our close friends.  And by that we mean that there is nothing we wouldn't do for these people, even though we live over six hundred miles apart and really only see each other once a year.  Yet somehow, despite the time and distance between us, we're never really apart.  That closeness has even extended to our children, who also consider our friends' children as friends and cousins.  It doesn't matter how much time we've been apart, when we do get together it seems as though we pick up right where we left off--no awkwardness, no getting reacquainted.

Part of our celebration included a Mass and the first reading we chose was from the book of Sirach 6:5-17.  Part of the reading says: "A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.  A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth."  Not only does that sum up my marriage with Paul, but it also defines the bond we share with the friends and family that gathered to celebrate with us.  They have been as much a part of our lives these past 25 years as we have been to each other and it is nearly impossible to imagine what our lives would have been like without their loving presence. 

During the course of the reception and dance (for which one friend brought all his DJ equipment and another had provided lighting and shelter--as a gift to us!) Paul and I requested a special song to be played for our treasured guests: "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" by Tracy Lawrence.  It pretty well summed up our feelings for our family and friends who have many times have dropped everything and been at our sides, no questions asked, no hesitation, in good times and in bad.

People asked us what we wanted for an anniversary gift.  What more could anyone want with family and friends like this? 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Countdown to book release!

For a first-time author, the days and weeks leading up to a book release are filled with nail-biting tension, queasy stomachs, and barely-restrained impatience. If you can't picture it, imagine sitting in the ER waiting to be seen.

Yeah, THAT feeling.

Like the person in the waiting room, the first-time author has to keep in mind that he or she is NOT the only person in that waiting room... there are others who have been waiting longer or who might have more serious conditions (even if not readily detected.)  They have to wait their turn.  The author's first book might be the most important thing in their life at that moment, but the publisher has anywhere from a dozen to a couple hundred books in the queue. 

Believe me, it's hard to believe after months and perhaps years of working on a manuscript to discover that all your hard work is merely another small fish in a very large pond... and some of the other fish may be quite a bit bigger.  It's easy to get discouraged when you try to contact your publisher and they don't get back to you within fifteen minutes (all two dozen other authors who hit the "Send" button at the same time you did feel the same way.)  It seems like things are never going to happen. A publication date that is three months off may as well be three years off... the calendar seems stuck in last week and no matter how many times you check your e-mail you still find no response from the publisher.  I'm sure the publisher would love, just once, to check his or her e-mail and find "No new messages"; it might give him or her a chance to catch up (or at least, go to the bathroom!)

Then things start to happen... suddenly, you're getting messages regarding text block, cover image, ordering guidelines, event postings to the publisher's website.  You check your publisher's website and there you are and there is the title of your book and suddenly that "Coming (fill in date) from (publishing house name)!" takes on real meaning.  And the real panic begins... not unlike that of a parent whose 5-year-old is about to make their debut recital performance.

Did Hemingway feel this way?

Maybe that's why he spent so much time HERE....

What am I doing?  What was I thinking?  I'm not ready for this! What if it bombs? What if no one likes it? What if it's really not that good?  Maybe it needs more work... maybe I can still catch it before it gets printed... maybe it will be easier to just change my name and become an accountant...

That's about where I am now.

This is when the calm, soothing voice of reason jumps in (He goes by the name of Paul.  I've been married to him for 25 years.  He's seen this before, many times.)  That's the voice that says that my publisher wouldn't have invested the time and effort if she didn't think the book was good enough to publish.  That I worked for too long and too hard to bail now.  That I can't please everyone all the time and people are free to like or dislike what they please and it's no reflection on my talent or personality if the book doesn't make the NY Times best-seller list (or the Ruidoso News, but they don't have a best-seller list... to my knowledge.)

And that, at the end of the day, what matters is that, after 20-plus years of writing, revising, editing, submitting, being rejected, and trying again... that my novel is going to be published.

THAT is a really good feeling!

Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Stay Married for 25 Years (to the same person!) and Like It

Hard to believe that tomorrow, Paul and I will be married 25 years.

Not hard to believe that we're still married, but hard to believe that it's ONLY been 25 years.

We are in Santa Fe, enjoying a weekend away together and, naturally, we're doing a lot of reminiscing about that day 25 years ago when we essentially made a date to be together on the same day the following year, 10 years later, 25 years later... and hopefully 25 years from now!

I think back and honestly don't know what those two kids back then would have planned to do to celebrate this milestone... except be with each other.  We are not exactly those two kids anymore.  We've changed in ways we probably never would have imagined; taken on challenges that have changed our perception of ourselves, each other, and the world at large; learned things we never knew we were interested in, taken roads that led us in directions we'd never been before... and loved every minute of it.

I'm not saying it was always easy or that there weren't times when we wondered what in the world we'd gotten ourselves into.  But one thing we learned early on was that having someone in your corner made everything easier to deal with.  Even when we disagreed about things or had an argument, we knew that we were still on the same side, no matter how big of a bone-headed mistake we'd made.

Another thing was that we made sure never to take each other for granted.  As one gets older, it's easier to see how life has no guarantees--the person sitting across the breakfast table from you might not be there tomorrow.  But young people think they'll live forever and nothing will ever change... especially our own selves.  The sooner one learns that change is inevitable, the easier it will be to take whatever comes along in life, good or bad.

Bodies change... not always in good ways.  Ideas change.  Financial situations change. Jobs change.  Houses change.  The number of people sharing the bathroom in those houses change.  Dreams change.  But knowing that there is someone there who has always been there... someone who knew you when... someone who shares the same name, the same memories and the same hopes for the future... someone that changes right along with you and helps weather those changes... somehow it makes for a very short 25 years.

No matter what changes come up in the next 25 years, it's safe to say that the one thing I hope never changes is who will be sharing those next 25 years--and beyond--with me.

Happy anniversary, Paul! I love you!
Our favorite place to be... together!