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Archive for the ‘friendship’ Category

My newest book, A Calculated Risk, opens in a very unusual setting – a funeral.  Certainly not the typical scene to hook the readers and make them want to keep turning the page.  But it is at this funeral the male lead’s small and unexpected act of kindness causes the heroine to begin to realize there may be much more to his character than she’d initially thought.

I was in Pensacola, Florida a few days ago to attend my uncle’s funeral.  No, I didn’t meet my prince charming this week.  But I did witness hundreds of people making small and unexpected acts of kindness out of respect for the deceased and those of us mourning our loss.  And our whole family was so appreciative.  From the moment we left the parking lot of the funeral home, through every stop sign and street light as we wove our way through town, and until we pulled into the cemetery overlooking the bay, every single car in traffic stopped.  Even though some streets were several lanes across with a median dividing directional traffic, the other drivers waited until the entire procession had passed.  No one seemed irate that they might be a few minutes late getting to their destination.  No one sped away as soon as the hearse passed by.  It was truly impressive.

So I would like to say thank you.  First to the deputies with the Sherriff’s department, who moved in tandem with such precision as they cleared a path and got us safely to the grave site.  And next I want to thank the citizens and general public of the city of Pensacola.  It was a small thing.  But by pausing patiently in traffic, you showed respect and compassion.

It didn’t go unnoticed.

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Two f-words have become huge in my life over the last year.  Football and Facebook.

old TV

Growing up, my father would watch any football game that was on television. Didn’t matter what teams were playing.  He knew them all and he had a favorite that he was pulling for in every matchup.  It didn’t make sense to me, as a little girl.  I’d think, “But we live in Georgia.  Why are you pulling for the Dallas Cowboys?”  I knew nothing about the game and didn’t understand how the path to the playoffs worked and that there was a method to the madness if you wanted to see your team in the Super Bowl.

nfl

By the time I was in college, I’d figured it out.  I pledged allegiance to the 49’ers and the Saints.  And when they faced each other, I had to cheer for the Saints (I’m a southern girl, after all).

A funny thing happened, though, and over time I cared less about pro football, but got totally absorbed in college football.  I  became a fan of one certain team, and would watch every game.  I kept up with the rankings every week and kept my fingers crossed that we’d end up in the national championship game.

football map

Then, strangely, this past season got much bigger for me.  I started following not only my own favorite team, but I followed all the others as well.  I started becoming just like my dad…watching football because there was a game on, regardless of the team.  I’d watch to see who was defeating whom, and how much of a threat would they be when we played them later in the season.  And it extended not just beyond my favorite team, but even beyond our own conference.  I watched Ohio State, FSU, Oklahoma, Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford, Oregon, Clemson (well, you get the idea). I kept up with how, if this team loses it helps our ranking go up, and if that team wins it will hurt our ranking.  I’d go to work on Monday mornings and chat with all the guys about the miracle plays we’d seen, or how this team crumbled, or that player got hurt, or there was a new rising star on another team.

So it is safe to say that football has a bigger role in my life than ever before.

And as this past season progressed, I found myself spending more and more time on the second F-word I am writing about today.  Facebook.  Oh, I’m neglectful about posting things to it myself.  I rarely update my status or post photos about anything.    But I’ve gotten somewhat obsessive about reading what other people post during games.  You can learn a lot about your friends by looking at their written  sentiments.  Some people who seem so demure are absolutely evil when it comes to putting down the opposing team.  Some, who have every right to take cheap shots, will never stoop that low and find something positive to say about both teams.  Others – my favorites- inject humor in their posts and come up with some of the funniest plays on words or catch phrases.  Yeah, they might still take a cheap shot (maybe even against my favorite team), but it’s so witty and clever you find yourself laughing with them rather than getting irked.

Phew!  I guess it’s good that the college ball season and bowl games are almost over.  Only a couple more days and I’ll no longer be chained to my favorite easy chair in front of the television.  I need to use those hours to go to the gym to tackle my own new year’s resolution.

See, even I can make a pun once in a while.  🙂

 

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windy day

I’m going through withdrawals.  Due to high winds in the area where I live , my satellite dish has shifted just a smidge.  Most channels still come in clear as ever, but a few of the HD channels no longer pick up.  Normally I wouldn’t care about missing a few channels.  With my choice of over 300 other options, there should be plenty of alternatives.

There is one problem though…This is the Christmas season, and the Hallmark Channel is one of the ones I can no longer tune into. And I lost the signal prior to Thanksgiving.   All those lovely holiday romance made-for-TV movies, and I haven’t been able to see a single one!!!  Last year, this became my addiction.  I would record them so I didn’t have to miss any of them, then delete them only to make room for another week’s worth.  This past summer, there was a brief “Christmas in July” sort of thing going on with Hallmark, and they replayed several of my favorites.  I watched them all again.  But now, as the season revs up to high gear, I’ve  watched nary a one.  It’s scandalous!

working out

I’ve been forced to look for distractions, to keep my mind off the lovely stories I’m missing out on.  For one, I have actually started going back to the gym.  This development had the potential to provide a very nice boost right here at the end of the year to help me reach a personal improvement goal I’d set back in January.  However, it was totally offset by the fact I’ve also had time to start my holiday baking.  And with baking comes the requisite taste-testing.  Totally counteracts the time spent at Planet Fitness!!

baking

I’ve also killed time by doing my Christmas shopping.  I’m WAY ahead of schedule on that, with nearly all of it already completed now.

I’ve spent more time with family, fixing meals to share with some of my older relatives who don’t get out as much.  What nice visits we’ve had when I’d show up unannounced with a foil wrapped plate of food to drop off.

Oh, yeah, and as of Friday night, there is the second offering from The Hobbit trilogy.  Kate Patrick and I made sure to go on opening night, and it did not disappoint!  Richard Armitage and Aidan Turner provided a generous amount of eye candy to keep us in a festive mood.

Smaug

My husband has been promising to get up on the roof and reposition the satellite for me.  Hmmm, I’m having a lot of fun with these other diversions.  Maybe I’ll tell him to hold off for a few more days.

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tardis christmas

 

I don’t understand what’s going on.  I think there must be some sort of extra-terrestrial type activity at work here on planet Earth.  I’ve seen enough Doctor Who episodes to recognize that someone (or something) is monkeying around with the space-time continuum.  That is the only explanation for why today I put up my Christmas tree.

Christmas

Yeah, I know…the calendar say it’s December 8th.  But it can’t be, right?  Can we already be into the twelfth month of the year?  Have we actually already passed all the other holidays and milestones of 2013?  Is Christmas really right around the corner?

I guess it is true, after all.  My tree is up and we went to the first Christmas party of the season on Friday night.  And as much as I might want to meet a time lord, I’m forced to concede that’s not likely to happen.  No, I think the explanation is a simple one.  Time just passes so much faster the older we get.

And the lesson to be learned in this is also a simple one.  Enjoy every day to the fullest.  Don’t rush blindly through each successive twenty-four hour period.  Take note of the beauty in nature around you, be appreciative of the kindnesses shown to you by others, and pause long enough to tell those closest to you that you love them.

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful Christmas season.

 

 

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I haven’t written anything new in ages.  Shortly after my last blog post, the school session began again for my daughter as she started middle school, my son went back to college, there were changes at my job, and life in general got crazy.  Oh yeah, I also wrote a new book.

math

So what inspired me to get back into the cyber world?  Was it to promote my book?  Was it to compare stories with other mothers about the trials and tribulations of trying to help a child with math homework when the methods they teach now are nothing like what we ourselves learned (what the heck are alternative algorithms anyway??)?

Nope, I’m inspired to write again because of a football game.  How I’d love to enthrall you with a tale of how our team pulled off a hail Mary in the last minute of the game, to score a win and advance to a championship game.  But no, that wasn’t our team yesterday…that was the opponent’s story.  Our team lost.

I love college football.  LOVE it!  And as much as I love to cheer for my team, I have never understood how some people act like winning is a matter of life or death.  I still don’t get that.  But I’m having a very hard time shaking the sadness at having witnessed our defeat yesterday.

For one thing, my son and his friend (who spent Thanksgiving with us) were watching it with me.  I got to see how much the game meant to them.  They actually KNOW many of those players, so the loss was not only a major letdown for themselves, but they could only try to imagine the disappointment their friends – the players – were feeling.

After the game ended, we headed out to see my ailing father.  It was a somber mood at his house, too.  We sat together and exchanged a few brief comments about the game. But we were all pretty much suffering in stunned silence, so the room got quiet pretty fast.  But then we turned on ESPN and started watching the next matchup.  Another team still had a shot at a national championship and was fighting for it with everything they had.  The outcome no longer matters to me…my team lost the chance to go, so I don’t really care who wins.

birds singing

But this morning I got up early to start working on month-end closing for the company I work for.  And as I sat at my laptop, doing the final billing for the month, I noticed that outside the window birds were chirping.  The sun was rising, and it had all the makings of a beautiful day.  And my father has lived to see another Thanksgiving, which no one would have bet on a year ago.

Losing a ballgame is hard to take.  Losing one that puts you in a position for your team to potentially make history is heartbreaking.  But you know what?  Life goes on.  The world keeps turning.  There are so many things to redirect your focus toward.  And in focusing on those other things we can remind ourselves that games are, after all, just that – games.  There will be another season.

gridiron

And in the meanwhile, remember that miracles happen all around us every day.  Not just on the gridiron.  Don’t fail to recognize the miracles in your life, and to be thankful.

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We’re past the halfway mark in 2013.  Can you believe it?  How is it possible for time to pass as quickly as it does?

When my holiday romance novel, The Christmas Dare, was released in early December ’12, one of the tag lines in the promotional materials was “Romance is never out of season.”  I didn’t want people to think that this was strictly a Christmas read, simply because that word was in the title.  And I have been pleasantly surprised that I see units sold every single month.  I’m glad other people feel the same way I do about holiday romances.  I can read them any time of the year and get completely swept away in the stories.  In fact, I have been indulging in one of my guilty pleasures this past week…watching the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.  I log a lot of hours every December sitting on my couch and tuning into see whatever romance movie they have scheduled every night during that month.

Merry Christmas

 

So when I was watching Love Begins (based on Janette Oke’s book) last weekend, I was thrilled to see advertisements for their upcoming programs as they celebrated Christmas in July.  My only problem was that there were too many great titles to choose from, and I couldn’t possibly watch them all!  Christmas SongThe Christmas CardHitched for the Holidays A Bride for Christmas.  And, of course, all of Debbie Macomber’s wonderful holiday movies.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!  The choices have seemed nearly limitless this week.  Thankfully, I can Tivo them and watch them as I have spare time.  But my DVR is down to only 33% available space.  🙂

In thinking about what a delight it is to have the opportunity to watch Christmas movies in the middle of the year, I was reminded of that tagline for my book.  Romance is never out of season.  We don’t want to be treated special only on birthdays or anniversaries or on Valentine’s Day.  We like to know we’re appreciated and loved all year long.  Similarly, the Christmas spirit shouldn’t be confined only to a few weeks at the close of the calendar year.  We should strive to find ways to give to others all during the year.

I thought about my husband and how he cuts the grass at a vacant house my parents own.  The house has been for sale for ages.  The yard is HUGE – way bigger than our own yard.  But my husband mows the grass, weed eats and edges the lawn faithfully without accepting a dime for all the hours of work that he does.  He considers it a gift to them.

My oldest sister often offers to pick up my mother’s prescriptions at the pharmacy every month.  And if she picks them up, she pays for them.  And never asks to be reimbursed.  My other sister will give her manicures and pedicures.  It’s a way they can give back to Mom.

My colleague’s nine-year-old daughter has a friend whose parents are in the midst of one of the worst custody hearings I’ve ever personally known about.  It all comes to a head this coming week in court.  My friend had a trip to Disney World planned to celebrate her daughter’s birthday.  Even though it wasn’t something she initially intended to do, she included this little girl in her trip to give her a positive diversion in the midst of what could be a life-changing event, depending on the outcome of the hearings.  She told me she felt like it was just something she really needed to do, and even though adding a non-relative to the mix totally changes the dynamics (and adds a lot of expense), she feels like she is doing something very important and worthwhile.  It’s a way she can give something special to this child at a time when it is needed most.

We should all look around us and find ways we can bless others.  Whether you call it giving back, doing a good deed, or paying it forward, it doesn’t really matter.  In the end, regardless of what you’ve done for someone else, you’ll probably be the one who finds the experience most rewarding.

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Well, the month of June brought two miracles into my life.  First, my father survived the month and is still with us.  His birthday was at the tail end of June and he’d been warned by the doctors that it was unlikely he’d live to celebrate it.  But he set a goal that he’d make it, and he did.  And boy did we celebrate – complete with a band and a backyard bar-b-q!  What a fun evening, and the band was amazing.  (The fact it was my son and his friend didn’t make me biased at all!!!  LOL).  Before the night was over, we’d gone down a whole list of upcoming events and told Dad those were his new goals.  His will to live is spectacularly strong, and he may surprise us all and stick around to participate in each special occasion with us.  I certainly hope so!

 

The second miracle came when I actually motivated myself to go join a gym.  Yes, you read correctly.  I joined a gym.  And with all the attention on my dad setting goals, it was time to set some for myself.  Now (obviously!) my goal is to lose a lot of weight. But realistically, I know I need to set smaller, more quickly achievable targets.  So these first couple of weeks it has been to stay on the elliptical machine for one minute longer each day than I did the previous one.  So far I’ve been able to do this each time.  I am also trying to add a new machine to the workout each week.  It’s been fun, and even moreso because  I have a friend who also belongs to the same gym.  Kate Patrick and I try to go together whenever we can because we’re much more likely to go if we’re able to encourage each other.  We laugh and talk about silly things so our minds are too occupied to focus on “the burn”.

I’m so blessed that my dad is still with me, and that we can sit and listen to his stories for a little while longer.  He’s pretty much pain free (though not without some discomfort), so that’s a blessing too.

And I’m thankful that I’m actually to the place that I look forward to my workouts.  I know progress will be slow, but at least I feel like I’m taking baby steps toward reaching a new goal.

 

For those of you who have said prayers for my dad, thank you.  I know prayer is what has helped him keep fighting this fight so bravely.

 

 

 

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