Happy Birthday to Me!

The book festival at Amelia Island was fantastic! I was there for the expo, and for a reading at Slider’s Seaside Grill. The event was sponsored by GCLS for the Southeast Region. Several of my fellow writers were present: Ali Spooner, Renee MacKenzie, Alison Solomon, Mercedes Lewis, C.D. Cain, Liz Bradbury, Gwen Mayo, and Sarah Glenn. SW Andersen was also in attendance!group

Location, location, location

Amelia Island itself is a lovely little place. It is not on the beaten path, but not too far off. You can drive to the island, or you can fly into Jacksonville International Airport, rent a vehicle, and get there in about 30 – 45 minutes. The month of February is ‘off season’, so the island is not overcrowded, but the weather and beaches were still beautiful. The Amelia Island Book Festival is held in the local Fernandina Middle School. There were over 100 writers in attendance, representing everything from children’s books to thrillers. Part of the fun was networking and meeting many mainstream writers that I had not heard of before.

We attended the Expo during the day. We had the best table in the place, just inside the door, right next to the Partners In Crime table!  People had to pass us coming and going. This was the first time the GCLS(Golden Crown Literary Society)  had a presence. May people stopped by to talk, purchase books, and find out more about our organization. The fact that we represented lesbian literature was well received.

Later in the evening we did readings of some of our work at Sliders Seaside Grill. As with any first-time endeavor, there were challenges, but we managed to rise about them. Once we worked out the sound issues (there was no mic, and we were competing with a band downstairs), we were well on our way. Thank goodness for modern technology, and (MacGyver) lesbians who know how to work stuff out! LOL  We set up a microphone using a cellphone and some speakers, and I warmed up the audience for the rest of the gang with poetry.

My poetry was actually well received. Many people stopped by after to compliment me. They really enjoyed it, could relate, and many said they had a new appreciation of poetry. No one left. In fact, even those that said they needed to leave early stayed for all the readings. It was great! At the end of the evening, the city commissioner and previous board members of the AIBF invited, and insisted we come back for the event going forward! It is heartwarming to feel so welcomed and accepted.

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Also, I have read my poetry in public before, but this time if was different. My birthday was the day before, and my publisher contacted me to let me know that my book went to the printer that morning. glimpsesofafracturedsoulcover

Happy birthday to me!  For the first time, I actually felt as though I was reading from a book. MY book. It was awesome. And, I just went on Amazon, and the book is listed there!

Now for the swagfest!  lol

The Best Laid Plans

Yep. Thought I was being pretty smart. I was executing this move with military precision. In fact, now that I think about it, it was almost exactly like a military relocation.   …only in reverse, kind of, lol.

In the military, when you move, they come a pick up your essentials first and ship them out so that they arrive before you get there(hopefully). They do this because the rest of your stuff will be arriving months later, on a VERY slow boat!

Well, for my move, I had it all planned out, it had to be precise, especially with working around the holidays and all. I would take over some essentials and small things, which I did. Then, I would have the big stuff delivered so it could be placed and situated, and then on the final sweep they would bring the remainder. The beauty was to be that these were things that I could ‘take my time’ unpacking, and could do so without the whole house feeling like it was still in chaos. And, … it would all be completed before the current lease expired. HA!

First there was working around the fact that the community decided to pave MY street just when I was planning to move. No problem! After all, even with the holiday, this month has five full weeks. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy! Right?

Wrong! Absolutely wrong. Almost, but no cigar. My Dad is in the hospital. He will have surgery on Monday. Is it serious? Eh, probably not. Am I scared? Hell yes? Is this Daddy’s girl dropping everything and going to see about her old sea dog? Ya damn skippy!. As planned, I’ll take care of the big stuff today, and potentially I could see him through on Monday and still get back to take care of the rest, but I do believe that I am being told not to depend on MY plans.

So, later today, I find out if my lessor is human and has a heart to work something out with me, just in case, or a corporation which, regardless of what ANYONE tells you, is NOT a person, and only cares about the bottom line.  We shall see.  Wish me luck!

Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (The Living Bible)

KJV – A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.

Robert Burns – The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

Me – Stepping out

…because I know you got me …

A bonus, just because  I love it.

The Finish Line

Wait. What’s that I see?  Could it be … Is it?  YES. The finish line!  I made it. I’ve endured until the end. Today is the last day of November, and therefore, the last day of NaBloPoMo 2016, and I have arrived.  Thank you to all who have taken the journey with me. 

I won’t stop blogging altogether but I will take a few days off. After all, I DO have a house to move into. Gotta get rid of that hollow sound. 😉

And … in the arena of good news, another announcement,  I now have ISBNs for the print and ebook version of my book! (Okay, there might be a LOT of exclamation points and capital letters in this final blog of the month, LOL.) That means that the book is one step closer to becoming a reality.  Glimpses Of A Fractured Soul is almost a physical entity! I should get some edits, and a print date, and whatever all comes next very soon. Isn’t that exciting!

Today has been a wonderful day. Good news, and Christmas movies. What more could a girl ask?  Okay, I can think of a few things, but that’s beside the point.

Anyway.  Again, I thank you all for taking this journey with me.  I was skeptical about being able to do it, especially in the month of November, what with holidays and travel. But, I was able to stay true to the daily format even while enjoying family. It actually made for a good way to wind down each day. And, this is a great way to end it! Aloha. ❤

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Empty Things Sound Sad

No, I am not making a political statement. Besides, it might be better for them to be empty  than filled with evil.

I did a walk-thru of the house today. What a difference a day makes!  When I looked at the house it was filled with furniture, and pictures, and warmth. You could tell a family lived there that loved each other and valued their heritage. It was lovely. I think I fell in love with the feeling, the ambiance of the house before even looking around. As soon as I stepped into the house it hugged me and called to me. It felt like home. I knew I had to have it. The lady of the house happened to be there, and feel in love with my love for the house. I was so enamored that I took my daughter by later to look at it through adult, un-infatuated eyes, lol.  Thankfully, she fell in love with it too. It was a long process, but I think we finally see the finish line.

Today however, was a much different story. When we entered, the place was empty. Same walls, same paint, same design, but some how the heart was missing. It felt cold, and, well, empty. Every step echoed loudly. It just was not the same. It was a very lonely sound, hollow and sad. It reminded me that some things, and some people may feel hat way. Especially during the holiday season. I’ll be glad when I get into that house and make it warm and full again. I can’t wait. And, maybe I can do the same for someone who feels like that empty house this season. It doesn’t take much. Hold open a door. Smile. Offer a greeting or assistance if they need it. Make eye contact. Be polite. Yep. I can’t wait to be filled up. Overflowing, even. ❤

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Still Grateful

“What other time of the year is as magical as this?”  —A Wish for Christmas, Hallmark Christmas Movie

I truly believe that if I work at it, I can make every day this magical.  We are home from Dad’s,  and I am still on the emotional high that comes from hanging with my elders and learning wonderful things about life. I mean, a woman who has lived over eighty-eight years has seen a lot and has some stories to tell, right? You’d better believe it! I could ‘sit at her feet’ forever. The thing is, this time, I think I felt more ‘adult’ than I ever have in their presence. And yes, I know I am a grown a$$ed woman. But still.

Auntie entered my bedroom this morning ready to go. She asked, “Where is Electric?” LOL I knew immediately that she was referring to my daughter who talks and moves at lightning speed and rarely seems to stop doing either. She was born that way, a strong-willed little dynamo. In fact, I think I will call her that from now on. Anyway, Auntie was asking because she wanted to talk to her. She asked me instead if she needed to pay a separate gratuity, or if the services came with the room. It seems that Electric had taken out her trash and freshened up her room, and done other little things without being asked. Electric told Auntie later that the only form of payment she would accept would e a hug.  My auntie told me once again that I had done a great job raising my daughter <sniff>, and she called me ‘Bessie Lewis’. Now THAT made me  smile!  Forget smile, that made me all out GRIN! That is my grandmother, her mother’s name. Grandmother was the matriarch of the family, and anyone who knew her knows that being called by her name (meaning you are displaying some of her attributes), is HIGH praise indeed. At least as far as I am concerned. I grinned and said. “Thank you, Auntie, I regard that as the highest of praise! I’m not mad about that at all”, and gave her a wink and a hug, and yes, it made me tear up a little. I mean really. Bessie Lewis! Wow.

My daughter and I always try to leave a place better than when we arrived. I believe I learned that from Grandmother and others, like all of my aunties. The thing is, the more we do and give and listen, the more full and alive we feel.

Because I was born, because YOU were born, because WE were born, I think we ALL can leave this place (earth and life), a MUCH better place than when we arrived. ❤

Family Sunday

Today was another wonderful day with family. It was Sunday, so we all went to church. No, the church did not burst into flames when I entered, lol.  I love spirituality, and the Word, but I am not a huge fan of organized religion. It almost killed me. But, that’s a story for another time.

We had a great time, and the message was timely for me.  The pastor talked about using our gifts, about stepping outside of our comfort zones. She talked about how chaos can happen when you are working outside of your gift. For instance, if you are not a people person, perhaps you should not be an usher, or on the greeting committee and things like that. You should do the thing that you can get lost in, can do for hours and lose all sense of time. The thing that gives you joy. She also talked about how, even though something may be a gift, that does not mean that you don’t need to practice it, to work at it. Take musicians for instance, even musicians that do not read music, and only play by ear must practice their instrument, or use their voice, and learn their craft. That reminded me of doing this daily blog for a month in an effort to hopefully improve my writing craft by getting some practice in. I like practical lessons that can be applied to real life.

We also talked about being thankful, even though ‘Thanksgiving’ is over. We live, we breathe, we see the world, with all her joys and pains, so we should continue to be grateful.

For the Christmas program this year, they are not going to have an actual program, but asked that people bring all types of gifts so they can give them to 100 families in the neighborhood and bring Christmas to some families that may not be able to have it.  Oh joy! I was just telling my aunties yesterday when we were shopping about how I didn’t have any little ones to shop for.  My daughter and I chuckled and said now we can go shopping and get toys and all sorts of things! That is going to be a lot of fun. We will figure out how to get them back to my Dad’s later. And, I think I will look for a fellowship doing something like this closer to home.

This has rekindled my desire to be a part of a community that does for others with no expectation of a return. Before I retired, we used to volunteer at the food bank, and also help out at a soup kitchen. I am excited about the prospect of contacting them to offer my services.

I would say that the holidays have begun, and I have been bitten by that spirit of giving.  There is still a lot of good in this world. I want to be a part of that. ❤

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So much…

Today has been a wonderful day. I am reminded yet again that I have so much to be thankful for. Although it is Black Friday, we did not buy into it. We did go shopping, but not to any of the places that have ridiculous lines and promises of unlikely savings. The thing that I enjoyed most about shopping is that it gave me even more time to interact with my aunties and elders, who are gracious and selfless, shopping for gifts for others.  We have no small children in the family at the moment, but Auntie bought a Thomas the Engine for a little two year old whose name she had drawn, and the other Auntie oohed and ahhed over what earrings she might get for her surprise Santa gift.  Mostly, it was fun just walking about hearing their take on life, on how things had changed, on how much further we have to go, and how they hoped the next few years would not be too much of a setback. It was great listening to their wisdom.

I showed them a picture taken four years of the three of them, my dad and his two sisters, and how they were standing in almost exactly the same spots and positions.

We talked about values, and expectations, about how they were as children, and then as young adults. We talked about our heritage and family tree, which always begins and ends in the United States. We talked about how they had navigated life. We talked about what they used and how they have charted their way through this life so far, and all its trials and triumphs. We talked about the redistribution of ….. weight, lol. Boy, did I learn a lot!  I love these talks. I reminds me of how truly lucky I am, to be born into this family, at this time. We talked about aging, and hat that means for all of us, and what responsibilities and actions we  will take.  My 88 year old Auntie flew in from New York.  We are realizing that there may come a time soon that this will not be an option.

We talked about our beliefs and foundation. We looked at Grandmother’s very old bible, and it reminded me of a song I used to listen to many years ago.  I shared it with them, and, we talked some more. They really liked the song. Tonight, I share it with you, and tomorrow, well, tomorrow it is off to shopping again. ❤