Monday, May 21, 2018

Sharing Joy

When I received the proof of my soon to be published first book, It Is What It Is, I didn’t read through it right away. I placed it here and there around the house we were staying at so I could see it wherever I may be. I made sure it was the first thing I saw in the morning and last thing I saw at night. It made me smile from the inside out to see it as a real book - just as I had imagined.

Days later, when I finally held my book in my hands to read, I didn’t get past the first few lines of the preface before tears streamed down my face. As I began reading, missing key loved ones who have died and not being able to share my book with them surfaced and filled me with an instant waterfall of tears. These loved ones were people I always shared my joys with. They were friends and family members that had impacted my life in significant ways as I grew into the person I am today. The tears subsided as quickly as they began the moment I realized what started the waterworks. The brief feeling of melancholy turned to an overwhelming feeling of love. Some may have died years ago, some more recently, but I still feel the love they all had for me. And you know what? I could hear them cheering me on and feel them sharing my joy as I read each word.

Michelle

Book status: the second proof has been ordered and I will receive it soon. While I’ve read the manuscript many times, seeing and reading the real thing showed me a few things I still needed to take care of. But after the second proof, I’ll let this child of mine out into the world. It's been quite a long birthing process! I know there will always be something for me to catch as if it was an insane puzzle constantly hiding errors - word processing can seem to have a mind of its own!  I just have to remind myself to get over it because it doesn’t need to be perfect - it is what it is. I’ll let you know when I have the release date...

3D It Is What It Is photo courtesy of Jim McDavid

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Shut My Mouth


I’m a very disciplined person. That may come from nearly 8 years of Catholic school. It was there I learned how discipline could work in my favor; because by listening, I was paying closer attention; by paying closer attention, my grades improved, and getting good grades in Catholic school moved me into the “golden child” level – in other words, I could get away with all sorts of things. So,when I embraced the word Listen for my word theme of 2018, it didn’t surprise me how quickly I adapted to shutting my mouth. Interestingly enough, I’m even sitting up straighter! Sister Angela would be proud.

During the first few days of listening, I was surprised by how much quieter I was. When I was by myself, my brain even stopped reeling with a myriad of jumbled thoughts! I like this. I like this a lot. While I try and live a quieter existence in my head, there’s always been a lot going on up there, so the focus of the year on listening will hopefully guide me to a renewed habit and way of being.

So here’s the thing, there’s listening, and there’s intently listening. I’ve been noticing this when engaged in a conversation and other people are oblivious to the fact that I haven’t even finished the answer to their question when they move on and begin talking about something else. Sometimes I’m mid-sentence! Sister Angela would call that interrupting, and you may have to stand in the corner for a time! I used to try and move the conversation back to the rest of my answer to their question, but I’m finding it best to just shut my mouth and see if anyone notices. So far, that hasn’t happened. I find this oddly amusing.

By reminding myself daily to listen, I can see we really don’t listen as much or as well as we think we do. Whether I’m observing, thinking about something, or in conversation - by intently listening, I’m more engaged and paying more attention. I find my mind is less likely to wander away from whatever it is I’m paying attention to. My awareness to listening is guiding me to see and hear things I might otherwise miss. Funny thing, I’m even more likely to shut my mouth. Sister Angela would give me a gold star for that!

Michelle

Angry Nun photo - I was not able to find a link to credit properly

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

It Is What It Is - The Book

It Is What It Is
An Inspired Guide to Transforming Your Life

A self-help memoir, It Is What It Is tells the story of how I saved myself from the despair of my out of control health issues after my husband Dennis' stage IV cancer diagnosis. His cancer diagnosis in 2002 was the beginning of a series of changes in our lives that ultimately led to downsizing the safe and secure life we had - to our uncertain nomadic wandering as full-time travelers living in other people's homes. Now, for the first time, I'm sharing how it all began.

I started the first draft of It Is What It Is in 2004 and finished it in 2006. During this initial writing, I did not read what I had written, because emotionally I wasn't ready to revisit what I had written about Dennis' cancer journey. I guess you could say that my emotions were still a bit tender. Over the years, I've continued to edit, edit, and edit my manuscript as life evolved and we moved forward to what has been a massive lifestyle change. Last year, I spent 3 months taking time out of our travels to seriously address the edits. Recently, I was able to tackle the final book layout, and tweaked this and that for self-publishing in CreateSpace, an Amazon.com company. At this writing, I have received the author's proof - as in the real book to review before the release in the next few months. It Is What It Is will be available to you on Amazon.com to order as a soft cover book, and you, my friend, will be the first to know when I announce a release date. I've considered a Kindle version, but have decided to wait on that as it requires different formatting and I didn't want to delay publication any longer!

Self-publishing It Is What It Is has been a complicated process. The writing was the fun stuff! I even enjoyed the editing process to some extent, but it's everything else that became a journey unto itself. Beyond the rules of language and sentence structure, there have been many things to consider such as formatting every single element on the page while working through the steps of the print on demand (POD) publishing world. Friends and family members helped review the manuscript, and I was fortunate to know a very talented graphic artist who helped bring my vision of the cover design to life.

For those who don't know me, I'm a resistant tech geek, of a sort. Dennis is the true tech geek and he makes sure we are up to date on all the latest devices and technologies. I considered traditional publishing, but even a resistant tech geek doesn't necessarily follow traditional ways. So, it seemed more to my way of thinking to do this on my own with the new, at the time, print on demand publishing. POD works this way, you order a book and they print it out just for you. There's not a stockpile of books held in a warehouse. It's your own personal copy! How cool is that? I've always pictured It Is What It Is as a soft cover format with a matte finish - my favorite style of book to hold in my hands. When I began this undertaking, matte finish was not available in the new POD publishing world. Maybe it's a good thing I took this long to publish because matte finish is now available.

This blog began in 2010 as my attempt to continue writing while striving to work through the publishing process. It has taken time away from the forward progress of the book at times, but it's helped me hone my voice and improve my manuscript. From its conception, It Is What It Is had a purpose and became my mission. That purpose was to share with others how I found a way to take control of the circumstances of my life, and see that life in an entirely different way. I knew my story could have a positive impact on anyone at any time they may read my words. I can't wait for you to read It Is What It Is!

Michelle

Photo courtesy of damclark's

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Spectacular Super Blue Blood Moon

It was the trifecta of moon watches, and I was able to experience this moon in all its wonders and glory from the patio of the Palm Springs, California home we were staying at. On January 31, I was up at 4 a.m., wrapped in a blanket, steaming coffee in hand, and observed the grand performance. Anyone following this blog knows I enjoy heading outside to watch night turn to the dawn of a new day. I've been able to witness daybreak in many places as we travel, but this heavenly experience is now the best of the best for me.

Leading up to the event, it was hard to miss all of the information about what a Super Blue Blood Moon was; but in case you did, here's the rundown:
  • Super - slightly larger moon than normal
  • Blue - the second full moon of the month
  • Blood - more of a burnt orange total lunar eclipse as Earth passes between the sun and the moon 
While I experienced this celestial display, I noticed a number of shooting stars, was able to see what Orion (my favorite constellation) was up to, could hear the gentle slapping of the nearby palm trees from the light breeze and the momentary squawks from nearby birds as the bright white moonlight turned dark orange (those birds didn't seem to care for that at all), and finally, I could hear the sounds of the city as Palm Springs lazily began to wake up. It was nice to just simply be for hours without thinking about anything else.

From my viewpoint, the moon held the full burnt orange color for about an hour. I wasn't expecting that! I observed this spectacular earth shadow event for over 2 hours. But due to the nearby mountains, I wasn't able to see the bright white of the moon reappear fully. By the time sunshine flashed across the sky, I realized I must have been smiling for hours because my cheeks were sore!

You know, spectacular doesn't even seem like the appropriate word to describe this event, and spectacular isn't a word I use often. Doing a word search of this website, I've never used spectacular in any of my previous 227 posts! We all could use more spectacular in our lives, but it is up to us to get up, get going, and make it happen.

Michelle

Super blue blood moon photo courtesy of damclark's.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A Bedtime Story


Remember the fairy tale of the Princess and the Pea? Basically, the best way to know you have a princess on hand is to send her to bed on a stack of mattresses with a pea at the very bottom. If she has a rough night sleeping, you’ve got yourself a princess. You might find it interesting to know that I’m one of those princesses, and I can tell you that a bad night’s sleep is never good for a princess. You might be wondering how I can travel fulltime if I’m that sensitive to mattresses?

Well, there are times when I’m feeling more like Goldilocks of Goldilocks and the Three Bears fame. She tried Papa Bear’s, Mama Bear’s, and Baby Bear’s bed in an attempt to determine what mattress was just right. With no home or bed of my own, I roam from bed to bed in my chosen nomadic lifestyle. The Princess and the Goldilocks in me are questioning this whole travel thing, because many times the beds are definitely not just right, and you cannot fool a princess when it comes to uncomfortable mattresses – no way, no how, never.

I try to make each home as comfortable as possible and that includes the bed, because I know how important sleep is for keeping healthy. So, I flip, turn, and cover the mattress with extra blankets, but it doesn’t always help. If there's more than one bedroom, I try different beds - just like good old Goldilocks. I peruse the reviews of previous occupants for comments regarding the good, the bad, and the ugly of anyplace I might be interested in staying. High on the list are the mattress comments – even though mattress comfort is subjective. But it's a little frustrating if I am going to be staying in a place for weeks when the bed is not just right. I should mention that it’s not always a scary bedtime story for me. There are times when I have extremely comfortable mattresses that are just right.

For now, I’m asking the Princess and the Goldilocks in me to adapt as much as possible and prop herself up with pillows if necessary. I’m dealing with bad mattress back syndrome by doing my best to overcome my aches with stretching, yoga, frozen bags of green peas, and my trusty travel size TENS unit (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation which relieves muscle tension). This traveling lifestyle is not a permanent change, so I keep promising Princess Goldilocks the most perfectly comfortable bed in all the land when she has a home of her own again.

I may be longing for a comfortable mattress, but with this nomadic lifestyle I’m living, I’m finding my way by continually trying to adapt to whatever comes my way, and that includes one mattress at a time. The good news, or should I say the happy ending to this post, I’m usually not at any location for long, so there’s always hope that the next mattress will be juuust right.

Michelle

Once upon a time photo courtesy of Steve Czajka
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