thank you

So the summer is over and the truth is it was not a great one for me. Instead of frolicking in the pool and celebrating the weddings, showers, and graduation parties that were on my calendar, I went to doctor appointments and googled my way across the WWW trying to find an answer for the extreme fatigue, weight loss, and nausea I was experiencing. I’ve been here before (although not with the exact same symptoms) but I’ve been very sick for a very long time with “invisible chronic illness” and I really hoped I was done learning the lessons I needed to learn in that particular life course curriculum. Of course life doesn’t care whether we’ve been there before or had enough, it just keeps happening, and when the going gets tough we all have to choose if we’re going to be proactive-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other warriors or head-in-the-sand whiners. I must confess to have been a bit of both this past summer.

My health has recently improved a bit since this mystery illness first began, and although the weight loss has slowed to a crawl compared to a couple months ago, I still can’t gain even though I’m taking in plenty of calories. I know some of you are probably thinking “I have a few pounds I could send your way”, trust me, that offer has been on the table from friends and family for months and if I had been able to take them all up on it fitness guru Richard Simmons would be at my front door with a crane ready to haul me off to weight loss boot camp!

Still, I truly believe that no matter what is happening in your life there is always an opportunity for gratefulness and grace so here is my list of summer “bests”.

1. Birthday parties for my two grandchildren. Brooklyn turned 3 in July and Ashton had his 1st birthday party in May. I am thankful for those little arms that wrapped themselves gently around my neck this summer, the sweetness of those hugs helped me feel whole again.

2. I won a free night in Toronto with an Instagram photo I did for a contest organized by Josh Johnson and sponsored by ALT Hotels. My pic is now part of a permanent art installation in the lobby of the ALT Toronto Pearson hotel and me and Mr. Bookbabie are hoping to take a road trip this fall to see it in person and use my gift certificate, thanks Josh and ALT Hotels!

3. My debut novel, The Wonder of Ordinary Magic, won a silver medal in the 2012 Readers Favorite Award Contest! The awards ceremony will be held in Miami this November during The Miami Book Fair International, the largest book fair in America. As a first time author it is a thrill to be honored by this group, thank you so much Readers Favorite.

4. Always, always on my gratitude list is my husband Doug. Without him by my side I would simply feel lost and adrift as I navigate life’s bumpy waters.

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ~Meister Eckhart

hope blooms

These are flower photos I took and edited with my iPhone4S. I’m continually amazed at technology, at the way it not only links us to friends, family and people around the world, but also how it allows us to be creative in new and fascinating ways. Over the past few months I’ve been having some health problems and as a result the ability to connect and create with minimal exertion on sites like Facebook and Instagram has helped me feel like I’m at least somewhat still a part the “big picture” of my currently slightly diminished life.

As anyone who has been sick for a long time or suffers from a chronic illness can tell you, going to doctors, being poked and prodded and tested week after week, waiting for results and that elusive magic pill that will turn things around can be very isolating and discouraging. You feel like your body has betrayed you. You see the color and energy of life moving swiftly by all around you, without you, and sometimes you’re afraid. Afraid you won’t get well, afraid you will but you won’t be able to regain your footing and find your place again in the ongoing drama of daily life. But perhaps what you fear most is that it doesn’t matter either way. Because whether we are sick or well, productive or weary, sad or joyful, we all so want it to matter. We want to matter.

I’m happy that I can say I do feel better this month compared to last so perhaps there is a light at the end of this gloomy weight-loss-tummy-ache-tunnel. In the meantime I will keep my skinny butt moving toward that light with a little help from my docs, the love of a caring husband, the beauty of the flowers in my garden, a dash of patience, a sprinkle of hope, and last but not least…a pretty pink iPhone in the palm of my hand.

“Imagination is the true magic carpet.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

take my hand

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.” ~Alan Bennett

For more wordless wednesday click here!

bee happy

The hydrangeas in the front yard are in full bloom now, the weight of the flowers causing the stems to bow and reach toward the ground for relief. I was thinking about change earlier today, it’s in the air here in Michigan. The days are growing shorter and last night autumn tiptoed by me as I sat out on the deck reading, the cool night breeze chasing me inside for a sweater. The older I get, the more I believe that the most important trait survivors have in common is the ability to adapt and change. We all have expectations—for our relationships, for our careers and financial well-being, for our health and the health of our loved ones. But life doesn’t necessarily meet our expectations. As a matter of fact, you can be damn sure it won’t meet all of them! So that leaves us with a choice, become bitter and sad and live in a perpetual state of disappointment and unease, or surrender and change your expectations. It’s not easy, and you don’t get there by just saying you want to, it takes time and maybe even a few passing years. But you can get there. Change is good, you may have to bend a little to embrace it, but that’s okay, you won’t break.

“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.”  ~Japanese Proverb

(not so) wordless wednesday

My blogging buddy Sandy at My Inner Edge posted this poem last week with a photo and I just loved it so much I’m stealing it today and illustrating it with one of my own photographs for my not-so-wordless Wordless Wednesday entry!


At the crossroads, hens scratched circles
into the white dust. There was a shop
where I bought coffee and eggs, coarse-grained
chocolate almost too sweet to eat.
When I walked up the road, the string sack
heavy on my arm, I thought
that my legs could take me anywhere,
into any country, any life.
The air, dazzling as sand, grew dense
with light: bougainvillea spilled
over the salmon walls, the road
veered into the ravine. The world
could be those colors, the mangoes,
the melons, the avocado evenings
releasing their circles of moon.
I climbed the pink stairs, entered
the house as calm and ephemeral
as my own certainty:
this is my house, my key,
my hand with its new lines.
I am as old as I will ever be.

~ Nina Bogin

teaser tuesday

Teaser Tuesday asks you to : Grab your current read, Open to a random page, Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. I’m reading The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. I don’t read a lot of mysteries or thrillers but sometimes I think it’s good to step out of your reading comfort zone and shake things up a bit. I’m really enjoying the read and when I went to his website I also enjoyed his snarky sense of humor! He has fake movie trailers and in one video he’s got family members reading some crummy reviews of the book. It’s totally hilarious, you gotta love a guy who can laugh at the critics! And if those are real reviews I certainly don’t agree with them. I plan to read more of his books, he’s an interesting guy and a good writer.

My teaser sentences are from page 44 where he writes, It’s so damn easy to judge. But Paulo knows from his niece, no matter how much you want someone back in your life, sometimes it’s the letting-them-back-in part that hurts the most. I reread that second sentence several times. It struck me how true it was, and not just about letting people back in, but about letting anything back into your life that you associate with heartache. Years ago, I had to stop painting because I was very ill. When I finally regained my health I didn’t go back into the spare bedroom where my easel was set up for many months. I thought it was because I was afraid I wouldn’t remember how to paint, that I may have lost the ability to be creative after going through so much physical and emotional hurt.

One afternoon, I finally got up the nerve to venture into my little studio. I opened a can of turpentine and squeezed a selection of oil colors onto my palette. Facing a blank white canvas, I breathed in the scent of my paints, dipped my paintbrush into a swirl of cadmium red, and promptly burst into gut wrenching sobs. It was at that moment that I realized it wasn’t the fear of not being able to paint that had kept me away from my art, it was the fear of losing it all over again if my health problems returned. I had grieved long and hard after first losing that part of me, did I really want to let it back in? So I agree with Mr. Meltzer, that simple little sentence says a whole lot about human nature and I imagine most of us can relate to in one way or another.


I asked my dad a couple of times before the one year anniversary of my mother’s death if he wanted to do anything on that day. The first time I asked him he simply shook his head. A week later when I brought it up he said, “No, it isn’t something to celebrate.”  I wanted to say I wasn’t thinking we’d go out to the bar or anything, but I let it go, knowing we each need to grieve in our own way.  When the date arrived I went to the store and bought one white balloon like the ones we released at her memorial service. I drove to the park where the service was held and I walked up the hill to the clearing where we all had gathered. I held the balloon under my arm, cradling it close to my body so the brisk fall breeze wouldn’t take it from me until I was ready to let it go.

I’m not sure if I went to the park to honor my mother, remember that sad day, or if it wasn’t really for more selfish reasons. Because the prayer I murmured out loud to myself that afternoon was for me, not my mom. I prayed that the anger I had been feeling since her death would go away once and for all, and I asked that my nighttime dreams be about my healthy mom and not my sick mom – the mom who’s suffering broke my heart over and over again, day after day during the last months of her life.

As the autumn wind swallowed my words I let the balloon go. It sailed almost straight up into the blue September sky. I stood squinting in the bright sunlight and watched as it rose higher and higher, determined not to take my eyes off it until it was lost from sight. Several minutes passed, and then, at the exact moment the balloon left my view for good, a hawk swooped in just over the treeline and flew directly over my head. It was the only bird within sight, the only bird I saw the entire time I stood on that lonely hillside. The hawk soared and dipped on an invisible current of air and I turned and watched as it flew in the opposite direction of the white balloon.

tuesday teaser

Teaser Tuesday asks you to : Grab your current read, Open to a random page, Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. In February of 2008 I started a meme based on the book created by Smith Magazine, book Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Recently I got a copy of their latest book, I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets which are six word memoirs written by teens. I love the whole six word memoir idea and reading what teens wrote was fascinating. When I opened it today these were the memoirs I read. The exits were entrances in disguise. ~Shannon B. Learned that sometimes friends aren’t forever. ~Victoria L. His abuse made me respect myself. ~Lindsey E. Good stuff.