On Death and Dying

Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be sitting in a hotel in Huntsville, Alabama thinking about my final exit from this earth. Yet, while my grandson is enjoying his first experience at Space Camp, I am pounding out a proposal for a new work of non-fiction that has to do with dying. Those that know me, really know me, understand I have no fear of dying. And I am just crazy enough to be able to say it! My peace about dying is assured.

Why am I blogging about it? Because I am beginning to find humor in all that remains to be done! I swear since I have been born, I have been on one big run. From a child, I remember being told to “slow down.” But when you are “wired” for speed, you can’t slow down, just like if you are “wired” to laugh when you are afraid or are being yelled at. (Yes, I do that, as well.) You can imagine as I approach a BIG birthday, why the thought of dying and death crosses my mind a little more often than it used to. It seems I am racing toward a finish line with no ability to slow time down. I’m feeling out of control. (Which I am.)

Every ache and pain that arises out of nowhere is a constant reminder of how much I need to get done before I go. I know my days are numbered but do I really want to leave my closets and cupboards in such disarray for my son and his wife to clean out?  I can hear my daughter-in-law’s voice when she arrives at my stuffed closet and pulls out that Little House on the Prairie dress I have saved for forty-seven years. She’ll probably say “Really? Bless her heart.” Those words will reverberate in my ears until I clean that closet.  She won’t get that was the dress I wore on the day I told my beloved father-in-law I was pregnant. She won’t understand that he’d laughed with delight, but told me he’d figured as much because the dress made me look like I was already nine months pregnant. I was briefly crushed as I thought that calico dress made me look really pretty. When he died of a heart attack a few days later, I could never let that ugly dress go. I have it still, a reminder of a father who loved me.

So I think. Will the toilet be clean should an EMT have to use it when they come get me? Should I shave my legs should one of them pat my skin while we ride to the hospital or morgue? Maybe it’s time to cut my hair really short as someone could run their fingers through it to help me look more presentable as I waste away in a hospital bed.

Then there is the eyebrow situation. Maybe I should take my good friend’s advice and just get them tattooed on. With my luck, I’d have a beautician who paid more attention to her cell phone than my face and I’d end up with brows that looked like I was always asking a question.

I don’t want anyone fighting over my fur coats. Or jewelry. My daughter-in-law will take anyone out when it comes to diamonds. We are bling girls, her and I. But she hates fur so they will be distributed as promised….maybe. She loves animals and without my unwritten will they might get tossed.

How will my son find the passwords to all my social media sites? If he can’t find them will his friends forever remember me by that one photo posting mistake where I’m on top of a table, and my dress is pulled up over my head?

Have I made my wished known about burial or will I be relegated to the burn barrel and Bic lighter my son has threatened for years?

Will anyone have anything good to say about me or will they only remember I talked too much?  Did I make a difference in anyone’s life? Is being prepared on the inside enough to eliminate the chaos I may leave for others on the outside? Will my clutter be forgiven?

Just thinking……and laughing inside! Got to run now.  After all, it’s what I do!

 

What’s Stopping You????

I am sitting at my small desk, quite a departure from my previous “office” of my last house. I now live on the second floor of a three story condo. Two bedrooms, two and a half baths. Small in comparison to the four bedroom, two car garage home I left behind. This past year, life has changed once more and it gave me an excuse to put down my pen for awhile. Too busy with the move and the changes that have come hurling at me as fast as a wayward hockey puck. have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll.

Before, in my large office, my windows faced a sprawling, peaceful field of gold. Rarely did I notice anything more than a fleeting butterfly or bird. Now, I have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a tightly coiled spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll. To say I am distracted would be an understatement. Another excuse.

I close my eyes and say a little prayer for the wisdom and guidance I need to push myself   into the world I love. Suddenly, the words and thoughts start to flow! My fingers rattle over my keyboard and my words begin to come to life!

So it goes as a writer. One moment we are empty and giving ourselves a thousand reasons why we “can’t” write today. Then the next moment our minds are so full of stories, characters, and endings that we cannot be dragged from our desk for hours.

It is then I realize that the biggest enemy to my writing is ME! I am the one making excuses! I am the one putting my work out there! I am the one scared of rejection!

And so I pull down the shades on my windows and plod on. How about

How about you? What’s stopping you?

 

STAY AT 17 INCHES..a note on Our Nation

I just came across this post by Chris Sperry. I don’t know where it was first published, but the message is powerful and right for our nation today! Enjoy!
STAY AT 17 INCHES

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment – “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the hell is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung – a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally…

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?” more of a question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear.

“How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide is home plate in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”

Pause.

“Coaches…”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him. Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We simply, widen the plate!”

Pause.

Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence.

He replaced the flag with a Cross.

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that, which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to…”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.”… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players-no matter how good they are-your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself, ALL, at seventeen inches.

Written by Chris Sperry
—————————————–

A World Full of Surprises!

I woke up this morning, grabbed a cup of coffee and began preparing notes and a presentation for my upcoming speaking engagements. My joy is palpable as I so enjoy sharing what I have learned with others. Grabbing my iPad, I read my devotions and then caught the headlines of the news. The United Kingdom voted to break away from the European Union and the Prime Minister had resigned. Although the news was startling, to me, the people’s choice to leave the EU signals the uneasiness around the world that  no one can explain. We feel it in our own nation, as well.

I slapped my coffee cup to the table and laughed right out loud thinking that my days were mostly quiet.   Then it hit me that I hadn’t had a quiet day in months! I began to think of all of the startling days I have had recently. My wonderful publisher closed its doors. Then I had a request for my new manuscript. A dear friend lost her mother. Another friend lived through a certain death heart surgery. I travelled to Florida overnight to visit an elderly friend. I taught an awesome creative writing class this semester. I was confined to bed for several days due to a muscle spasm. I got three rejections. News poured in day after day. Some news has been good, others, not so much.

I couldn’t help but smile, as I realized how surprising EVERY day is! I don’t need the news to tell me that something wild and crazy is going to happen today. It is how I react to the news that keeps my head on straight and allows others to see I have a Rock to cling to even in the dark times. I’m learning to expect the unexpected….and with that to enjoy whatever comes my way.

 

A Time for Giving…and Winning!

I wanted to participate in the day of giving but didn’t know what I could do to make a difference in the life of someone who has struggled with childhood abuse. Those that know me well, already know that the most important gift I could give would be to share the hope and good news of God’s love and sacrifice for us, (like it or not, my liberal friends.) “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16 (NKJV)

Next, I thought about something tangible, when out of the blue, a fellow Booktrope author suggested a simple way we could play a role in the beautiful giving spirit that today represents. We could give a book away and offer someone hope.

So, until midnight on Friday, December 4, I am offering a signed set of my books, award-winning Run, River Currents, and The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance!

To win:

Like my page and this post on Facebook.
Share the post (the more the merrier)
Tell me who you might give the books to for Christmas and why. If they are for you, but you know someone else who might be helped or touched by my stories then I’ll send them an e-book set as an extra way to share!
I’ll pick a winner on December 8 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time! Watch for the announcement!

About Run, River Currents

As the last of the mourners departed the ornate Catholic Church, Emily entered a side door unnoticed, walked to the coffin, and punched her dead father in the face. “You’ll never be dead enough,” she whispered. “Never.”

Determined to recover from the hands of a father who sexually abused her and an emotionally distant mother, twenty-seven-year-old Emily Evans seeks the peace she’d lost in her youth. Yet, shattered by the betrayal of those she was taught to respect and love, she fears that she may never overcome the devastating effects of generations of abuse. Will she ever let herself truly open up to the power of unconditional love?

About The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance

Growing up, Emily Evans of Run, River Currents, had always shared a special understanding with her grandfather, John Polk, even when she couldn’t fully see beyond the darkness of her father’s abuse. Yet John looked forward in faith toward what his God could do.

Years after her grandfather’s death, the unexpected delivery of a decorated tin brimming with odd-colored buttons, unlocks joyous memories and lets Emily realize she has finally discovered the secret her grandfather promised lay within the stories of the worn button box.

Told from the eyes of a godly grandfather, The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance, laces together a family’s heritage and the power of one man’s prayers, offering a lesson of how God’s grace can be seen in even the simplest thing—a button.

#dayofgiving

Thanks to Becki Brannen, author of Breathless for the great idea!

Are Book Giveaways Worth It?

When a writer has a “giveaway” program, it seems as though it defeats the purpose of “selling” our work. We are actually giving away the product we slaved over for months or even years. Yet, I’ve learned a thing or two about todays’ new world of marketing that makes me understand the value of a giveaway. Giveaways promote sales.

This is how it works. You download a book for free. You read it and like it. You tweet about it. You Facebook it. You Instagram and Pinterest your thoughts. You post a review and tell your friends about it. By then, the giveaway is over. They buy it! The author becomes a best-seller! Wow! All of that from a free giveaway!

A promotional “giveaway” is a way to get readers to notice your work in the overcrowded world of published books. Overcrowding is a reality. Traditionally published books vie for attention alongside self-published books. Any writer, whether they have learned the craft of writing or not, can self-publish. Most, not all, self-published books are rarely well-written, nor do they display elements of understanding the craft of writing. When they are placed side-by-side with those who understand the elements of craft, they stand like lonely soldiers in a long gone war.

The sadness to this is that well-crafted books are often lost in the noise. The competition to be published is fierce. So what is a writer to do? Mark Twain says it well. “Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.” My addition to Twain’s quote would be…”and scream until someone notices you!”

So, I’m screaming! The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance is free for today and tomorrow in the first of two giveaways. Download it and if you like it, write a review, and use all social media avenues to tell your friends!

The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance is a simple story and a good family read for those who seek heartwarming tales. It centers around the surprise arrival of an old tin button box to the home of Emily Evans, a box of buttons that unlock memories of Emily’s youth. The read is quick and takes the reader on a wonderful journey where one man’s legacy to his granddaughter is passed on through the stories he told through buttons. Each button holds a memory and will take even the most cynical reader back to a time where actions mattered. Here’s the Book Trailer.

Enjoy the read. Share it with your friends. On this end, I’ll keep shamelessly promoting and watching the Amazon charts to see where you will take me.

In the end, I’m still going to write. I’m going to continue to hone my skills and learn how to enhance what I know about the craft of writing. Every manuscript I create will be better than the last and every story I tell will be more powerful than the one that preceded it. After all, the next “giveaway” might be my bestseller!

One More Time, Folks!

I just got notice that The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance WILL be available as a free download on Amazon on January 20,21 and 22, 2015. After the December issue of not being available when it was expected, I am certain that this time it will be a go!

So, tell your friends once more that the book WILL be available for a free download! Thank you all for your patience! Enjoy!

The “Free Book Download” Glitch

Seems that all things don’t go as planned. We thought the Amazon free download was to go live December 25-29, 2014 only to find out it had not been scheduled as planned…..SOOOOOOO….there will now be TWO chances to download The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance for FREE!

 

Tell your friends that The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance can be downloaded for free on…

*January 20, 21 & 22

AND

*February 9 & 10

 

Take advantage of sharing this with your friends and family! When you are done reading it, please take a moment to write a short review, as it so helps the author! Thank you!

A Big, Fat Butterball!

The decorations for Christmas are up and the countdown to Thanksgiving has just begun. I know there is something not quite right about that, but it is what it is. I’m in a new house and will be doing some entertaining over this holiday season, so I wanted to be well prepared instead of crazy-legged, as I normally am.

With everything in it’s place, I decide to trot to the store for a turkey. Mind you, the crowd at my house will be small, as my son is in Guam and my daughter-in-law is excitedly awaiting her parents arrival. They will be feasting on their own turkey, fixed in the lovely tradition of the South.

And my bird? With only 3 or 4 people, I thought a bird of about 10 pounds would be enough. Plenty of leftovers for the turkey sandwiches we’d enjoy after the afternoon naps.  But just inside the doors of the local Food Lion, I hear a muffled announcement that sounds something like this. “Attention shoppers! Fur ruru rur Thanksgiving rur rur rur turkeys  rur rur fur pound! Buy rurrur NOW!”

A second later, I see every one in line dashing toward the back of the store. Well, I didn’t want to miss anything, so I beat feet down the health food aisle, (the least trafficked aisle in the place,) and round the corner as though I were A. J. Foyt headed to the finish line. People are climbing over each other, tugging medium-sized turkeys from the case and clutching them to their chests as though they homely children.

Not to be outdone, I drill myself under the armpit of a wide-berthed woman and latch onto a piece of plastic mesh I am sure is attached to just the turkey I had come for. All of a sudden, I feel a tug on the other end of my bird. I can only see a pair of big hands, but I know they are connected to my turkey, so I pull. In the meantime, the wide-berthed woman in whom my head is lodged decides on a tiny bird that could pass for a pigeon, just like the old woman standing beside us. As I pull on my bird, I realize from the look on the woman’s face that there are no more to be found. I am having a tug-of-war  under the armpit of this wide-berthed woman, see-sawing back and forth with Big Hands, while this same woman is trying to retrieve a frozen pigeon from the basket of the old woman beside her. I feel the grip of Big Hands start to give way, when all of a sudden, the old woman swings around, her basket hitting the wide-berth woman and knocking her into the freezer with me attached under her arm. My turkey flies loose sending Big Hands into the milk counter and the turkey into Wide-berth. It took several minutes for the horrified crowd to react to the situation, but by the time the store manager arrived, we were all upright again.

Too embarrassed to glance up at the crows or the bird, I tossed my turkey into my cart and ran toward the cashier. $36.63 was the total. A Butterball. Big. Fat. Butterball. All 37 pounds of her.

Let’s just say I’ll be eating turkey until Easter.

 

 

 

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY SEPTEMBER 12-OCTOBER 12

From September 12 through October 12, Goodreads will be running a contest for 5 autographed copies of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance. Make sure you take the time to register and tell your friends!

 Read the Goodreads giveaway details here!

FINAL Cover buttons

 

Join me on Goodreads throughout the month as I answer questions about the new release!

See you there!

Ginger