Category Archives: Diane’s Life

Moving Past Fear to Ship

The one thing I won’t ship is TB. I promise.

Seth Godin is one of my inspirational authors. He pulls no punches when he writes.

In his book, Linchpin, he addresses one of the biggest problems with moving forward. You have to not only finish whatever it is you are doing, but you have to ship.

You can practice that instrument in the privacy of your house every day, but until you sit down with the orchestra and play it – you aren’t adding anything to the world.

You can write poems and stories, but until you publish them for others to read, they add nothing to the world.

The world needs what you create!

He knows how difficult it is to ship. I know how difficult it is to ship. I’ve written about his description of the Lizard Brain – the amygdala – the fear center of your brain. This is the part of me that tells me nobody cares about what I write, that I’m not very good at it, that believes the worst of the reviews or unflattering comments that come my way.

Shipping – moving off center – releasing your baby to the world – performing in front of real live people – putting your heart and soul out there … it’s absolutely impossible for many people, frightening as hell for others, and stomach lurching for most of us.

The first time I pressed that *publish now* button, I wanted to go throw up. I no longer lived in my own safe little world where I was the only author that existed.

The thing is, I still live in the panic of the amygdala a lot of the time.

Oh, you can tell me how wonderful I am, how much you love my books, how I shouldn’t worry, how I should do it anyway … you know, all that really good stuff. The thing is – we all need to hear that, but we (and by we, I mean anyone who puts themselves out there) also need to hear that you get it. That you’ve experienced the fear that comes from doing things others won’t try.

I have a friend who gets on her horse regularly to ride in competitions. Sometimes she does just fine and then there are the times when she absolutely rocks the world. I’m so danged proud. But I know the fear that hits her heart when she climbs up and rides into the ring. She does it anyway.

Another friend stands in front of a large group of singers. They’ve trained and trained, but we all know that every single thing can go wrong in a performance, especially when there are hundreds of people in the audience and he’s dealing with the terrified amygdalas of fifty individuals on the risers. He lifts his arms to direct them anyway.

A friend of mine is an incredibly talented jazz organist. He practices for hours and hours. He hears and cringes at every single missed note. When the time comes, he hauls those keyboards all over the Midwest and plays with the best musicians in the country. Every week.

My sister teaches fifth grade. She’s always under pressure to lead those little horrors into their best lives ever. She has to manage absentee parents, a district whose focus on numbers and metrics eclipses their focus on individual students, failures every day from unexpected places, kids whose terrible living circumstances follow them to class; all while making a salary most corporate types would laugh at. She goes every day anyway.

I’ve been fighting off my own fears these last couple of weeks. There have been days I simply fail and go to bed overwhelmed because there is still so much yet to do and I was unable to get over the hump of feelings of inadequacy.

But Godin’s words come back at me … telling me that I can’t sit still very long. Getting lost in the mire of my own fears is a ridiculous place to spend time.

And the other thing … the minute I wrote about just a few of my friends who inspire me, my spirits picked up. Get up and outside of your own head, Diane. The world is too delicious not to experience to its fullest.

Godin writes: “You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.”

Go. Do. Create. Ship.

To Clean or Not to Clean … That is the Question.

Okay … confession time.

I started writing the Bellingwood series as a diversion from writing papers in my Master’s Degree courses. When I needed to procrastinate, I wrote the story. Rather than clean or do any number of things around here, I soon discovered that my favorite work-avoidance was to write fiction.

Now, I’d done this over and over throughout the rest of my life, but I never finished anything. There are scores and scores of barely begun stories hiding in different places in my life. I look at them and say “maybe someday.”

By the time I finished the degree I had the first two books published and the third well underway. My procrastination projects had paid off. Pretty cool, eh?

March your little feet forward with me to today.

My job is to write these stories. I focus on them all the time. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking and researching, plotting and planning. I’m marketing, I’m chatting, I’m putting things into place. I’m building newsletters and looking for book covers (while praying that a title will show up before the book goes to press). Everything in my life is now focused on my writing career.

…which leads me to the problem of procrastination. Because I recognize how much of a role this plays in my life, I actually build that wasted time into my schedule. I’ve been burned before and since I’m not a stupid girl, it was important to learn that lesson.

I’ve decided that tonight is a procrastination night. I don’t think I could come up with a creative word to save my life. What should I do … what should I do?

Earl and TB are snuggled up. TB’s paw is actually resting right there on Earl’s. Gotta love ’em. They’re going to be very surprised when that vacuum starts running. Poor boys.

The sad thing is that I absolutely have to do some cleaning around here. Even sadder … I think I’m looking forward to this. Cleaning is one of those things that I generally abhor. I avoid it with all that I have inside me. I can ignore a pile of junk like you can’t believe. If I don’t look at it – it doesn’t exist. If it doesn’t exist – I don’t have to worry about it.

I could sew or play my piano. I could lie down and read a bit or watch television shows. I could fret over the work projects that haven’t been completed yet.

But no … I’m about to clean.

What are you go-tos when you want to avoid working on something?

I suppose that instead of talking about it, I should probably get off my duff and do it. I can procrastinate procrastination!

Moving Forward and the Lizard Brain

Some days you look out and see several different futures in front of you.

The first future is normal. You’ve been doing it this way for a long time. Familiar colors and people. It’s quite comfortable; really doesn’t take much more effort than you’re used to expending.

Then you become aware that just off in the periphery is another possibility. Your mind’s eye only sees that it is dark and foreboding, filled with murky pitfalls you spend way too much time imagining. You don’t perceive a clear path through, only the first few steps are visible. As fearful as it is, when you look closely at those steps, you realize they’re covered with sparkly fairy dust and unicorn glitter. The promise of something better lies beyond your own fears and bleak imagination, but you have to take that first step … make a commitment to the new future.


Seth Godin talks about our Lizard Brain – the almond-shaped amygdala – a cluster of nerves at the base of our brain. Now, not only is the amygdala useful for protection – it stops us from running out in front of moving traffic – it is also where our anxiety, depression and fears reside. And as small as this sucker is in relationship to the rest of our brain, it has power.

Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art calls it Resistance. We face it down every day in order to accomplish our goals and achieve new heights, but it never stops fighting us. Whenever we’re presented with something new, Resistance shows up to tell us that the easy way out is the better way.

Chip and Dan Heath write in Switch that will-power: self-control, self-supervision, change, decision-making, on and on, is an exhaustible resource. One reason change is so hard is that people have worn themselves out. They’re exhausted at continually being in charge, being on top, being aware. So when it comes time to change, it is sometimes nearly impossible.


I’ve been gearing up for something, that while it will make no difference to all of you (I’m never going to stop writing the Bellingwood series on a regular schedule), it offers changes for me. Not big wild changes or anything crazy-nuts radical, just something that requires me to refocus some energy. I know that I’m going to do it. There’s no question.

But I fear failure or making a fool of myself or tripping over my lack of understanding or doing something really stupid or not knowing enough to handle mistakes … on and on. My Lizard Brain has taken hold.

The scary ghosts in that murky darkness have gained too much power in my head and it’s time to beat them back.

I’m really not asking for anything here (especially advice or preaching – I’ve got this) … just expressing what’s going on. When I get like this, I find it really helpful to write things out; to express what’s going on in my little brain – the one that should be in control – not the Lizard Brain.

Feel free to talk about your fears or the way you handle the Lizard Brain. I think we’ve all been there and I’m pretty sure we’ll all face it again and again. Prayer, planning, preparation. And a severe beatdown of that stinking Lizard Brain. Who’s with me?

Oh Words, You Vex Me

TB likes words too. This was taken in 2013 – Book 3’s manuscript.

For the last week I’ve been head down in an online course taught by a Brit. Consequently, the pronunciation of words that ramble around my mind is a bit off-kilter. I may never be able to say some of these words correctly again.

I’ve also been completely caught up in the Maisie Dobbs series of books by Jacqueline Winspear. Set in London during the early twentieth century (1913 – 1939), I’ve been inundated with vocabulary that requires me to tap on the dictionary function of my Kindle. While I have a pretty good grasp of language and can generally intuit a word’s meaning from context, there’s nothing more fun for me than to be introduced to new words.

Today, as I attended a webinar led by this British speaker, he posted a slide that used the word instalment. As soon as it arrived on the screen, some helpful Hannah typed a comment regarding the typo. Well. No. Not really.  A moderator quickly posted back that in ‘English,’ it was not misspelled, which made me laugh out loud.

I believe that this points out several pieces of learning we should embrace.

  1. English is an incredibly fascinating language.
  2. American English is a young language, yet has bastardized many different languages and cultural references. Our way isn’t necessarily the right way for anyone but us.
  3. Discovering all we can about words, language, and etymology makes us smarter and increases our ability to communicate.
  4. By the way, we’re not always as smart as we think we are.

As immense as my vocabulary is, I recognize that I have barely tapped into the breadth of the English language.

Have you ever played the game “Balderdash”? You receive a card with a word and everyone writes down their definition. Points are awarded to those definitions that sound good enough to get people to believe they’re correct.

The first time I played that game, I was floored by the number of words I’d not yet experienced. Not just obscure words that dropped out of circulation or scientific terms, but words that just never made it into my circle of knowledge. That was quite distressing to someone who treasures words as much as I do.

My mother loved words more than anyone I’ve ever know. Her favorite thing to do, though, was to mash them to pieces and spit them back out, causing no end of conflict in her children’s vocabulary when in front of a teacher in school … or friends … or when leading a group … you know. Just plain trouble.

To this day, I have trouble saying the word rhinoceros.  Say the word quietly in your head for a moment. The accent is on the second syllable, right?

Well, not for me. Mom always pronounced it as rhi’ – no – sore – ass. Consequently (and it’s surprising how often this comes up), I begin the word with the accent on the first syllable and have to stop myself and start over. Sure, I could shorten the word to rhino, but that’s not usually what happens.

I’m still embarrassed about the day I argued with an office mate about a word I’d heard my entire life. He insisted that it wasn’t a real word. I pushed back. He sent me to the dictionary.

Stallfoundered is not a real word.

Thanks, Mom. It might be a great word, but nobody else uses it.

So this week, I’m embracing British pronunciations and learning words such as costermonger. I’m in no hurry to leave this headspace. It’s kind of fun. I have yet to exchange an ‘s’ for a ‘z’ in words like apologize (apologise) or add back the ‘u’ in words such as honor. British English adds an additional ‘l’ sometimes when adding ‘ing’ (travelling or fuelling- American English is traveling or fueling). Then I discover that somehow we’ve added those lost ‘l’s to install or enthrall.

I enjoy the fact that the world is filled with inconsistencies and differences. It makes things more interesting. We aren’t all the same. We haven’t completely homogenized our cultures to bland and boring.

What’s one thing about language (s) that fascinates you? I’m not asking what frustrates you – that’s a topic for another day. Something that you just love.

Of Coffee and M&Ms … or

The Care and Feeding of Your Favorite Authors

Grey (left) and Earl were so cute looking out the window. Then I leaned back to take a picture. Obviously that meant that I needed them to come my way. Cute little buggers.

A week ago, this post had an entirely different focus. But then, I was coming off a rather intense period of twelve – fourteen hour days and a book release. I might have been more than a little whiny. Better that I just keep those thoughts in my head.

Just after publication, I get a huge influx of communication. Most of it is wonderful, some of it is a little critical, but every once in a while, something really awful shows up in my in-box that just rips me to the core. Not with every book release – and not with this last book release. But it happens.

Growing up in a minister’s household … okay, my father’s household … I learned that keeping people in the community happy was a primary goal. So I do everything I can to keep the largest percentage of the population happy. When I discover that I fail – for even one person – it is hard on my soul.

In the beginning of my writing career, nasty (not just reasonable critiques) words would devastate me for an entire week. I’d come up for air, the words would resonate through my head again, and I wondered why I was even bothering.

People on the outside told me to toughen up, grow thicker skin. Seriously – there is no armor strong enough to hold back some of the barbs and lances that are hurled. I often wondered if that person realized that I was a real-live human being with feelings and a heart.

I’ve gotten much better at managing my way through those. The truth is, I rarely read reviews – whether positive or negative – because they mess so badly with my psyche. Even if I’m there to read a positive review, I can’t stop myself from looking at the negatives. They’re a magnet I can’t resist … and I end up staring at the computer screen with my mouth wide open at how much someone hates what I’ve written. I’m just not that polarizing.

Wow … that was a lot of words pouring out over something that’s actually pretty personal. Sorry about that.

Back to the point.

Last week I went to the post office and lo and behold, there was a wonderful package from a friend filled with various flavors of M&Ms. Yep. Perfect snack for the late night writer. Between those and coffee, I can write for hours!

But what else do authors and other artists you follow on Facebook need to sustain themselves?

A. Well, we need you to *like*, comment, and share posts from our FB page. Every time you like a post – as simple as that – the post is exposed to more people. It also helps Facebook know that you want to be engaged with us and they will deliver more of our posts to you. If you feel like you’ve been missing things – the way to fix it is to re-engage on a regular basis.

B. Sign up for email newsletters and engage with them. Open them, click on the links. If you decide you’re getting too much in your in-box, simply unsubscribe (don’t mark it as spam, that sends us into a tailspin because the provider freaks out that we’re doing something wrong). Authors, artists, musicians – we want to share what we’re doing with you because you’re interested. We spend hours trying to decide what is important to send out, so you can get to know us better and learn what we’re doing.

I send out one email newsletter on the twenty-fifth of every month  to the entire list. The last thing I want to be is intrusive, but I hate for you to miss anything.

Facebook limits how much will be delivered to your feed. Email newsletters show up with detail that you might miss otherwise. For instance, no matter how many times I tell you all that I publish Bellingwood books on March 25, June 25, September 25, and December 25, I get at least one question per day from readers wondering when the next book comes out. It’s not that they aren’t paying attention – they simply aren’t getting that information in front of them. (See what I did there? LOL)

C. Reviews. I despise asking for reviews. It’s enough that you pay to read my stories, I shouldn’t ask you to do anything else. I will never be able to express the depth of my appreciation.

But reviews have become an important part of an artist’s life. Many of us don’t think about writing a positive review, but when we’re upset about a product, we rush to write a one-star review. We want to warn people off a bad product, but don’t think to encourage them to purchase something we love.

Positive reviews are vitally important to us who are artists, authors, musicians … creatives. These increase our visibility and then when people end up on the book page, they encourage those folks to investigate further.  Whether it’s Amazon, Etsy, YouTube or another outlet, being a positive voice in a sea of trolls is important and necessary.

Oh … and unicorns. I like those.

Confusion … And a Tangent

Pretty boy is napping. I’m sure he’s simply preparing for another night of chasing the kittens around the house while I write.

I was working and writing away last night, as I am wont to do, when I looked at the time. What in the world? It was 4:15. How had that happened?

Oh yeah. It hadn’t. Well, not really. My computer jumped ahead when I wasn’t paying attention.

For the rest of the day, every time I looked at a clock, momentary confusion grabbed hold of my mind and relaxed when I reminded it that I was actually in control and aware of the time change. It will take nearly a week for me to stop translating what time my body thinks it is to what time it actually is.

Now … this isn’t the point of the post, though it’s what sent my mind off and wandering. Oddly enough, my thoughts wandered over into the ugly yellowish-brown land of complainers.

There have been a great many posts complaining about the continuation of Daylight Savings Time. Complaints, fury, annoyance, on and on. Because posts on FB and Twitter about this are so danged effective (cough, cough, ahem).

This is one of my pet peeves that I do my best to avoid, though admittedly sometimes I fail. I can not bear complaints about things that we can’t change or won’t work to change. It’s a negative and useless method of communication.

Leaders of any organization will tell you that listening to complaints is one of their biggest time-sucks. Not only does it waste incredible amounts of time, but they have to overcome the drain – the strain of that negative conversation in order to move on and do something good. It’s huge and destructive to the health of organizations and people do not understand that.

I remember speaking to a pastor friend about some things that were driving me nuts – things that needed to be changed so the church could grow, get healthy, become more connected to the community. The one thing I promised was that I would never complain about something I wasn’t willing to dig in and help fix. Unless I had a healthy response to my own concerns, they were nothing more than whiny complaints. We’d already heard too much whining and complaining from people on the outside of the issues, who only showed up at moments of crisis, but never participated in anything else. Not something I want to emulate.

Caveat: speaking with customer service about a problem, contacting your congressperson with what you believe, actively participating in movements for change (or against change as the case may be for you) … those are not examples of unproductive complaining.

Back to Daylight Savings Times. Would I prefer that we just live in the time frame we are given? Yeah. Probably. Am I willing to start a movement? Not so much. So … while I might whine about the confusion that my poor addled brain has to suffer through twice a year, complaining about how that elusive *someone* should change this is a ridiculous waste of words, effort and time. As it is for nearly anything we choose to complain about, by the way.

My words (numerous as they may be) are more important to me than to be used in a negative manner. I want the words you read from me to lift you up … to lift me up.

And I want to read words from you that …
– fill my heart with joy
– challenge me to be better
– tell me who you are
– tell me your dreams
– ask about my dreams
– share your life
– explore struggles we overcome
– bring light to the world
– make us laugh
– make us cry
– lift our spirits
– bring goodness to the world
– set the bar higher
– restore faith in humanity’s goodness

The next time we’re ready to complain about something in a public forum … what if we were to step back and ask how effective our communication will be. I’m guessing we could come up with something much better to say.

…and that’s my rant for the month.

The Sound of Silence


Wow. No fans blowing, the furnace isn’t running, cats are sleeping, no vehicles moving outside. Pure silence. Well … the clicking of my fingers across the keyboard, but otherwise …

When my life was filled with meetings and customers, busyness and activity, I didn’t think I would ever hear the sound of silence again. (Are you humming the tune?) Now I wonder how I ever lived without it. Silence restores me.

Music has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. There is nothing more fun for me that watching a movie or binge-ing on a television series, but when I turn it all off, my blood pressure responds. My shoulders fall, my body relaxes, my mind re-boots.

Silence is no longer a luxury, but a necessity and I will continue to notice and appreciate it for the gift that it is.


It’s hard to believe that in just a little more than two weeks, Book 17 – Marks in a Lifetime will be in your hands. Sometimes my life is so surreal. I work, work, work, work and then it happens. Another book is published.


Even though Book 18’s first chapter hasn’t been written, notes and ideas are filling up pages in my notebook. The story is becoming clearer and pretty soon, the only thing left to do will be to get the words out of my mind. That’s the fun part.

If you don’t know the drill by now, I publish every quarter. March 25, June 25, September 25, and December 25. I can’t write any faster than that … so sorry! LOL. I appreciate your encouragement (that’s what we’ll call it, right?), though.

And for those of you who are new to this, I do not do pre-orders. Amazon’s rules around that make it impossible for me to run such a tight publishing schedule. You won’t find the book on Amazon until it is published.


For the last couple of weeks, Book 17 has been in the hands of my editors, leaving my brain extra time to process and come up with new ideas and new thoughts. It’s been awesome. But it’s also been overwhelming.

Once I land on a great idea, it isn’t enough to put it on a list and forget about it. I dig right in and find ways to make it real.

My brother (he’s also an author – you should check out his books) and I have been talking about so many different things lately. He’s just freakin’ useless. His standard comment to me is “Go! Do it.”

How can you not love that tummy? My Earl is so adorable.

Then when I get all uppity about there being too much on my plate, he reminds me to take it one step at a time. Smart-Alec. Sigh.

This week, I’ve been breaking things down. Instead of leaping into the deep end, I’m going to start at the four-foot level. Deep enough to satisfy my creativity, but not so much that I’m drowning. (I’m short, six feet of water might kill me.)

You see, I’m highly organized and manage my time really well. I build procrastination into my schedule so that when I can take no more, there is still time to breathe.

What overwhelms me is when my creativity explodes. I discover so many more things that I want to accomplish. Things that would never have occurred to me last year. But even in the midst of that insane pace, I find myself energized and excited. There is nothing better than knowing you can do what you dream about doing.

An evangelist that I knew and loved used to describe imagination as a ‘nation of images.’ The first time I heard him use that phrase, my mind leaped at it. That’s exactly how I feel when this frenzy of creativity, anticipation and expectation take over. There are millions of possibilities and they are all available for the taking.

I used to lament the fact that I wasn’t one of those people who chose one field of study, one talent, one ability, one thing to focus on so as to become an expert. That was never my personality. I wondered if I would ever discover a way to make use of the fact that I was quite good at a lot of things, but not an expert at anything.

My perspective has changed. The fact that I am not an expert at one single thing means that there are no limits to what I can do and explore. This doesn’t mean that I won’t always focus on getting better at the things that mean the most to me, but rather than feel as if I’m not something, now I understand that what I am is absolutely perfect for me.

Ahhh … enough babbling. It’s silent in here again and I think I’ll bask in that for a time.

Brain Dump

When my schedule isn’t on a do-or-die deadline, I actually have extra synapses available to write blog posts. As much as I love that, the last couple of days have been a bit unfocused. Today’s the day to recapture my brain (I had an image of a wrangler with a lasso and a rather naughty bronco racing around the pen, neighing in hysterical laughter – welcome to my brain).

1) You should read through the gratitude comments showing up on the FB Bellingwood page. Oh friends, you are amazing. You’ve made me emotional – I smile and get teary-eyed. We really do have so much to be thankful for, don’t we? I prefer placing my focus on those amazing things that happen in our lives. But you fill my heart. If you want more information on the journals, check them out here.

2) Have you ever said (or heard) “Stop whining”? We are automatically programmed to react to that pitch of the voice … right now. When it is nothing more than just a whine, it’s annoying. My cats all have that pitch down perfectly. That’s how Grey (my sweet little girl) landed in my life. She was quite persistent in her whining and crying that day. I couldn’t ignore her. Now, she uses that whine whenever she wants something.

Last night, she woke up from a nap across the room and started right in. She wanted my attention. Right now! So, I talked to her until she crossed the room. Grey didn’t want to jump up on the desk, so my job was to decide which side of the chair she was approaching and drop my hand until I felt her there and rub her head until she had enough. Earl does the same thing. If I don’t see him, he whines until I drop my hand to give him some love.

It’s all pretty wonderful, but no matter what I’m doing, if one of them whines (meows) at me, I react immediately. No wonder Mom was always telling us to stop whining. She had things to do other than meet our every need.

3) Did you notice the new “Shop Now” button on the FB page? It takes people directly to the book list on this website where people can order from Amazon. Invite your friends to join us and let them know how easy it is to find the books now.

4) While you’re there on the FB Bellingwood page, be sure to check out the Find Our Fans giveaway. It is going on until March 19th. What a fun opportunity. You are exposed to new authors AND get a chance to win things. Score!

5) Mark your calendars for fun in March. Wine & Trivia Night on March 17th – from 6-11 pm Central Time. I’m building up a wonderful stash of giveaways and we always have such fun.

6) The cover and title for Book 17 – Marks in a Lifetime were revealed in last Saturday’s email newsletter. It is incredible to me that I have such a wonderful resource for images from Max. Who gets that lucky? Apparently, I do. The release date is March 25 and we are on target.

That’s enough random information for today. There are so many things around this place that need to be dealt with. Sewing to finish, dishes to wash, rugs to vacuum, stories to write, designs to work on. My To-Do list is ridiculous! No matter how many things I strike off it, the crazy thing fills right back up. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Boredom will never be part of my life.

That was another thing Mom never wanted to hear from us – “I’m bored.” She had lists. It was easier to just find a book and curl up in a chair somewhere. Nobody bothered us if we were reading.

Now I’m babbling. That list? It won’t go away, and chattering at you won’t get things finished.

I love you!

Send lawyers, gu … nah, I’ve got this.

First off … don’t any of you feel sorry for me or try to pat me on the head and tell me how to fix things. I’m fine. Seriously – take this with the grain of salt that I’m typing it. Laugh a little, tell me how bad you’ve got it. All of that is fine, but no advice or sympathy. I’m a big girl.

You know, the truth is – any post that I put out in public is generally for humor’s sake or just general information. If things are falling apart in my life, the only people who will know are my family and closest friends. It’s not really for public consumption. Each of you have your own things to deal with and no matter how much you care for me, the last thing you need is someone else to worry about. So … there’s that.

Wow, already with the ranting, Diane. Get on with it.

So … I just got back from a trip to the bathroom. The bathroom, the shower, and just as I fall asleep. What do they have in common? My best thinking happens then. (TMI? Hah. Sorry ’bout that.)

Anyway, as I walked over there, thinking about my next two weeks, THIS is the song that came into my mind. Why? Oh heck, who knows.

I thought about just posting it on FB with the comment that instead, send M&Ms, food, and coffee. But then I realized that some of you would do just that and it’s not necessary. (Insert riotous laughter here.)

Amazon Subscribe and Save has M&Ms now. Every month, a stash hits my front door. And as for food, I’ve signed up with Home Chef and the best food ever arrives each Wednesday. Max gave me fabulous coffee for Christmas, so I’m set.

You could send cards of encouragement and I wouldn’t hate that, but then there’s the whole getting to the post office. Which means I have to leave the house. My workaholic brain fights me for time. I tell it that I need fresh air and to see people – even if it’s my postmistress and the chickadees at the grocery store. Oh … and all of the farmers who give me the farmer wave on the road between here and town. No matter what I say, my brain reminds me that I need to stay busy, there’s no time and too much to do.

Where did this last month and a half go? There’s a deadline looming.

Believe it or not, I need to have Book 17 written by the end of next weekend – July 18 / 19 (I’m totally leaving this error in here, because it’s hilarious – July? Good heavens, I’m out of control!) It’s totally do-able, I just need to focus. Then I use a week to edit the biggest errors before sending it off to my team of proofreaders and editors (thank you, I have plenty right now). Now, crazy Diane set up her schedule so that I also have a newsletter to produce during the week that I’m editing. And a cover + title to create for the book (for the newsletter), too. And at least one, but maybe two vignettes. All of that has to happen by the 24th of February.

This month, I’ve also got a really fun new product for you. I’m still in the midst of design and creation, but it will be announced in the February 25th newsletter. I can’t wait for you to see what I’ve come up with. You’re going to love it! Stinking love it! Seriously – like love it! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but some of you are going to love it! (Insert more laughter here, please.)

Sound like I’m whining yet? Please know that I’m not. It’s the best life a girl could ask for, but I’m still curious as to how I’ve arrived at February 11th and still feel as if I should be in the middle of January.

TB is usually the one tucked in front of me while I write. He’s so cute when he’s asleep.

The next two weeks are going to be insane in Diane’s world. I’ve pretty much decided, though, that’s par for the course. I must like it that way since it happens so regularly. How can I complain when I get to live my dream and I have such wonderful friends like you in my life … and then these three cats. As I’m typing, TB is sleeping on a blanket on top of the printer/scanner beside me, Grey is sound asleep to the left of me and Earl is curled up in front of me. My arms are wrapped around him as I type on the keyboard. He’s a little ball of warm fluff.

No lawyers, guns or money and no M&Ms, food or coffee. I’ve all I need and so much more.

… unless you can send me back in time about a month. That would be cool. Who wants to work on that for me?

The Stuff of Memories

This is a small portion of things I’m managing. The cats want desperately to play with it all!

Over the last two days, I’ve been absorbed in memories. I received two boxes of … stuff … from the son of my Dad’s second wife. Dad died in 2007 (Mom died in 1987) and we were inundated with all of the things he’d saved over the years when that happened. To be honest, most of our lives have been spent dealing with memories and stuff. My family is not so great at throwing things away.

Check that. My brother is fantastic at it and my sister is better than me. I still have a lot of learning to do.

I opened the first (small) box and took pictures of the items in there, sent those to Carol and Jamie and asked if they wanted anything. I was met with resounding … silence. Carp (yep, spelled that the way I wanted to). I begged … more silence. More carp. The thing is, they both know how horrible I am with throwing out memories. Rotten siblings.

Then I dug into the much bigger box. Oh. My. Goodness. I would have been fine never knowing this stuff existed. It hadn’t for decades as far as I was concerned. And now, here it is again. I took more pictures and sent them off – met with a great deal of silence. I tried a little bit of shame. That got me nowhere. The thing is, we all have too much stuff in our lives, don’t we?

Now … as ridiculous as it might sound, one big pile of stuff was cards and pictures from my Dad’s retirement in 1995. As I looked through the cards, I was flooded with memories of people from all of the churches he served in Iowa. Names that I hadn’t thought of in years and years, but had been important to our family during the time we spent with them. It’s twenty-one years later and I know that many of them have passed away since then. But wow, did my parents touch their lives. That is so wonderful for me to know.

I’ll scan photographs and some of the cards with hand-written memories. There are several things in there from most all of the churches Dad served. It’s strange to realize that so many years have passed since his retirement, making it that many more years since we’d been in some of those communities.

As I read through the names on the cards and thought about all of the amazing people that we’ve known because of Dad’s ministry, it hit me again that this is why I write the Bellingwood stories (wow, I’m getting all emotional here).

I love these people, these memories, these stories. My life is so incredibly full and wonderful because of the amazing people I’ve been able to know. Bad memories have slipped away and what I will always remember are the ways our lives were touched and the incredible love that was offered to us no matter where we lived.

The stories rattling through my mind today are numerous. As much as we don’t really need anymore *stuff* in our lives, just reading the names of people who participated in our lives is more than enough. I never want to forget those, though I have before and I will again. But this is why I write and tell stories of good and wonderful people.

These are the good and wonderful people that I have known throughout a lifetime.

Jamie and Carol, are you sure you don’t want this stuff? (sigh)