Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stepping up for me.......

One thing we learn for sure as we age is the value of ......us. I mean personally. We are unique, strong, fantastic beings, all on our own, and we each have things we can offer to the world.

But we have to be willing to step up for ourselves. We often have no problem doing it for others, especially those in our lives that we cherish and love. When it comes to US, though, that love often doesn't ooze over to our own needs.

I'm a pretty good writer. Oh, heck....I'm a really good writer! My strength, I've discovered in the past five years or so, is when I write about life, the true stuff that happens to me that also sounds familiar to you. Oh, the details may be a bit different, but the big screen of each of our lives shows the same movie in many cases. I've often told people that there is no need to write fiction; my life is weird enough. No one could make up some of the things that have happened to me. But when I share my life, or even a small slice of it, I can see the recognition in the eyes of others who hear that sharing. And suddenly, the world doesn't seem quite so cold and lonely any more. 

I'm stepping up here for myself. I've written two books: one on divorced parenting and one on living a more positive life. The first, Broken Strings, is based on my life raising a child alone. The second, Nothing to Complain About, is the result of a challenge I took to go 21 consecutive days without complaining. (Yeah, YOU try it. It took me 125 days to accomplish it and I'm a positive person to begin with.) I tried to get both books published the "conventional" way, by contacting publishers, sending query letters, waiting, and then waiting some more. I even had a publisher lie to me until the very last minute, when she revealed (after 5 months) that I had to pay to publish the book myself after all. And this was a publisher that I had found in the most well-respected source of publishers and agents that exists.

Finally, I caved and published my books myself. At least I could hold the book in my hand and read my name on the front cover. I know I can write. The fact that no one else in the business is willing to read my work, even just a page or two, doesn't negate that fact. The second book is an eBook only, primarily because I had no more money to create a printed version. 
Broken Strings

I'm here to promote me. My books are available on Amazon, Books a Million, Barnes and Noble, and all major online book stores. My favorite is Kobo Books, mainly because it offers the buyer multiple platforms from which to purchase and read my work. And they are affordable for anyone: Nothing to Complain About is only $4.99 and Broken Strings is $3.49. (Broken Strings is also available in book form if you'd prefer that: $10.00.) Surely you know someone who is facing the task of single parenting, even if it is the result of separation due to military service. And who wouldn't enjoy laughing at me as I struggled to refrain from complaining, even under some really adverse conditions? There are lessons to be learned from both.

Nothing to Complain About

Writing is my love. The actual process of crafting my thoughts into tangible objects is exhilarating, maddening, frustrating. But I love it anyway. 

The only thing better is when people share that process and read those words. So, I'm here to step up for myself: Please buy my books! I would be very appreciative.

“The saddest people I've ever met in life are the ones who don't care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there's nothing to make it last.”
Nicholas Sparks, Dear John

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wooden Dutch shoes and all things.....wrinkled

After seven days at sea on this ship with a Dutch-looking flag, the shore can't appear off my balcony on the ninth level fast enough. This is my fifth cruise in a span of three and a half years; it may be my last for a while.

Without opening myself to a libel suit, I did know that this particular cruise line catered to "older" cruisers. Meaning those WAY over my own age. (For those of you new to this page, I will qualify for Medicare in six days. I congratulated the on-board blues band for proving there were actual pulses aboard ship with mine, something I seriously doubted for the first few days aboard.)

Some other clues that I had picked the wrong cruise line this time.....

  • Even if this Dutch-sounding cruise line had provided a pair of their wooden shoes to all those who came aboard, it wouldn't have slowed these people down any more than they already were. 
  • The spa spent most of its time presenting seminars on taking care of your feet.
  • The bar called "Chocolate Seduction" was never open, probably because no one who crawled on board could remember what that second word meant. And their doctors had told them to avoid the first one anyway. (Bad for those hearts.....)
  • I didn't get splashed even once in the pool by a person younger than 80. Actually, the pool never had more than five people in it at any one time.
    A lonely pool.....
  • All the "Name That Tune" games featured music from the Big Band era.
  • .....and all the games were over by sunset.
  • Most people were reading real books.
  • The bars were populated only by a crew member wiping the already-clean bar...a lot. 
    A lonely buffet area....
    The lonely barkeep.....

  • What's up with this mouth-breathing thing with older people?? Mysterious. But maybe that's why I was feeling anxious to get back to shore; all the oxygen around me was being sucked out of the air.
  • The nurse automatically asked what blood thinner patients were on before passing out band aids.
  • The only noise in the passageways at night came from the lonely "DING!" of an elevator.....once an hour or so. 
     A lonely theater....
I thought I would welcome a vacation at sea sans children and drunks. In exchange, though, I got  more gnarled feet that I ever care to see again and no activities that even smacked of a trip to the tropics. (I sadly remembered the great deck parties that started even before the ship sailed...on all those OTHER cruise lines.)

All of this is another reminder of the axiom that continues to prove itself as I age to perfection: Be careful what you wish for.

“If you didn't remember something happening, was it because it never had happened? Or because you wished it hadn't?”
Jodi Picoult, Plain Truth

Monday, November 4, 2013

After all, tomorrow IS another day.....

Scarlett O’Hara and I are kindred souls in many ways. Oh, not in her selfishness and vanity. (OK, maybe in the vanity part….. just a little.) But, she was a stubborn, resourceful, and independent woman at a time when none of that was admired in a lady. Yes, I realize that I’m talking about a character in a book and subsequent movie, but still…….

She moved in society as easily as she faked her way into jail to visit Rhett when she needed money to save her family and their homestead. She whined, she cried, she slapped many faces (I counted how many times in the movie rendition once, but have forgotten the number now), and she haughtily uttered some very wise things.

Such as “Tomorrow is another day.”  As I’ve aged to perfection, that one has been the most valuable to me.

When we’re young, we tend to view everything that happens to us as the stuff of our very own daytime drama. Life hums with the highs and lows we all experience, and when we’re on a high, it’s a lot of fun. But when those lows hit, we often fall into a valley of personal despair from which it’s hard to see over the rock walls surrounding us. Some people are even so naive to think that THEY won’t have any serious valleys in their lives….until they do. It’s even worse, then, because it was unexpected for those folks. And sometimes we fall into so many holes, deeper and deeper each time, that we give up trying to climb out at all. We allow the darkness to envelope us and we think that is going to be our lot in life forever.

A year or so ago, I was on top of the mountain. My life was on the high end of the pendulum’s swing. I smiled a lot; I had an activity that brought me such joy that I was literally dancing through life. I was working at something I loved—writing—so my days seemed like a playground. Then the evil genie who grabs the end of the pendulum and drags it to a stop showed up. I fell off into the dirt, scraped my knees and ran home to lick my wounds.

I think the cliché is that things can change on a dime, right? But I channeled Scarlett and we had a chat. “Fiddle-de-dee,” she said. She reminded me that this little set-back wasn’t going to last forever. She was knocked down so low once that she wore curtains for a gown to seduce Rhett. But she succeeded in her quest to chase those Yankees off her land and have a real dress again. She realized something that we all embrace as we age: tomorrow IS another day. And there will be another one after that when a low may hit again, then the pendulum swings back to happy days, if we just keep hanging on to it long enough to shake that evil genie off into the mud.

The trick is to realize that when you’re young. When life seems dismal, you have to know that things will get better…… because they always do. If we all just listen to Scarlett admonish that “tomorrow is another day,” and hang on long enough for the dawn.

I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.
Scarlett O’Hara/Gone With the Wind

Need gift ideas for the holidays?
Visit Kobo Books to pick out one of Deborah's books: 
Nothing to Complain About: My 125-Day Journey to Become Complaint Free
Broken Strings: Wisdom for Divorced and Separated Families

Both are available as eBooks and Broken Strings is also available in print form.