My first book is off to a rocky start…but it’s a start!

book cover for Letters to my Daughter

Since March 30th I have been telling people about the digital release of my first book on May 10th. Through a newly formed publishing company, Connecting Dots Publishing, I set up Letters to My Daughter with KDP (the publishing arm of Amazon) for pre-release at a promotional price of $0.99.  I’ve been excited, nervous, and a little stressed as I pushed to do the final editing and cover design before the publishing deadline.

On Monday, I called customer service asking for help because the KDP system had locked me out of making any changes to my book in pre-order status. I still needed to upload the final manuscript, but it wouldn’t let me and the clock was ticking. The perky customer service rep, perhaps new at her job, listened briefly to my dilemma, put me on hold, then came back and cheerfully said, “Okay, I’ve canceled the pre-order. All you have to do is set it all up again.” Whaaaa???

As calmly as I could under the circumstances, I pointed out that people had pre-ordered the book at the promotional price and now it was just gone. But the damage was done. Amazon sent an auto-email to all of those people saying it had been canceled and refunded their money. A punitive email came to me saying my pre-order privileges would be frozen for a year because I failed to meet their standards. I would like to say I handled this as cool as a cucumber. Instead, I may have put cucumber slices in my alcohol.

Finally at 4:00 Wednesday afternoon, after multiple phone calls and apologies from KDP, the punitive measures were lifted from my account and we got the book up for publishing, ironically AHEAD of the original target of May 10th. ORDER IT NOW ON AMAZON.

Folks who preordered at the promotional price should receive an email that it is published, with a link to buy the book at the retail price. I’ve asked if they can send a message to the customers to email me so I can make good on the promotional price promise. I haven’t yet received an answer from KDP. They can’t tell me the names and email addresses of those who pre-ordered, so I have to hope they will help make this right.

I’m not responsible for the error, but if you purchased the pre-order please send me a message. I will make it right with you.

Now here’s how you can help me — after you read the book, write a review!I am ever so grateful for your support as I explore down the publishing path. Next up will be the paperback version of Letters to My Daughter and then on to finishing my memoir, Semi Tragic.

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4 Life Lessons from May Day

jeans with flowers, wrench, and the words "happy Labor Day"

On May 1, while many herald the arrival of Spring by dancing around Maypoles or delivering flowers in homemade May baskets to neighbors,  workers around the globe celebrate International Workers Day, also called Labour Day. Although in the U.S. we celebrate Labor Day on September 1, the international observation of Worker’s Day had its genesis in Chicago. In America, May 1st marks a completely different, but connected, little-known observance called Loyalty Day. I geeked out a bit reading up on this day’s complicated backstory. Here’s a quick history lesson: Read more

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3 Steps to Opening Boxes and Wholeheartedly Embracing the Contents

Shelves stacked with boxes

We define people by boxes. Our house is a box; car is a box; job title is a box; salary is a box; skin color is a box; gender is a box; and on and on and on….

The obvious answer then is: Think Outside the Box. Except that’s unoriginal…and wrong. People who advocate ‘outside the box’ ignore the reality that how we organize information matters, especially when referring to people. Categories carry consequences.

Occasionally someone will say, “I don’t see skin color ” or gender or ability or whatever. While the sentiment is lovely, I want to smack them in the mouth. Okay yes, I know…that wasn’t nice, but it’s true. You can’t erase labels simply because you want to pretend they don’t exist. Of course you see the categories. Every single person in your world fits into some kind of mental box.

A wise person doesn’t try to ‘think outside the box’; they recognize the categories and delve further into them with curiosity. Whether you talk about better understanding people or problems, the solution can be found by looking inside the box and noticing how it relates to the contents of other boxes.

Don’t ignore the container; get more familiar with the contents. 

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Why self-love matters in the end…and how to strengthen it

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

There was a time when I lingered between life and death. Fully aware of both sides. Fully aware of my in-betweenness. One side holds all the complex and painful emotions of humanity. On the other exists only love, pure and simple. It’s virtually indescribable and unforgettable.

Yes, I am talking about a near death experience (NDE). Don’t freak out; it’s a common question I get. Frequently after I deliver a keynote speech, someone will ask if I “saw the light” or had an “out of body experience.” No. Well sort of. It’s difficult and frankly uncomfortable to describe. And not to be rude, but the phenomenological details aren’t important anyway. One thing is undeniably certain to me, we don’t need to suffer near as much as we do.

Yet here I am in all my messy, complex, gloriously faulty humanness — just like everyone else. I suffer all of the same destructive ego-driven emotions and defenses that cause harm to self and others. Except I should know better. Shouldn’t I? I feel like I should. Wait…. Do you hear that? Do you hear all of the “shoulds”? There it is, my humanity showing. Read more

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You don’t mind that we’ve relocated your legs, do you?

mannequin legs hanging from a beam

I’m on a Southwest Airlines flight that has just landed in Sacramento, arriving ten minutes late from Denver. I have a two-and-a-half-hour layover before my last leg home to Seattle. In usual fashion, I’m the last person departing the aircraft because I have to wait for my wheelchair to be brought up from the cargo hold.

I’m waiting…and waiting…and…hmmm….

It seems longer than usual so I ask a flight attendant about my chair. I know it wasn’t left in Denver because from my window seat on the plane I saw them load it into the cargo hold. That’s a little nerve-wracking to watch, by the way.

According to recent data reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines break an average of 25 wheelchairs or motorized scooters per day. Over 700 times per month airline employees damage or misplace someone’s personal and essential form of mobility. Do you think they would be more careful if it belonged to their mother, child, spouse, or friend?

Finally, a gate agent steps aboard the plane and says, “They’ve already taken your wheelchair to your gate. We’ll just take you in one of our chairs.” Ummm, excuse me? What gate?? Remember that part about a two-and-a-half hour layover? My wheelchair with the motor is a $15,000 ride and acts as a stand-in for my legs. I’m not at all comfortable with someone arbitrarily deciding where it goes without me. Besides, I don’t want to go the gate. I want to go the bathroom, take my dog to the relief area, and get some food. In other words, just like anyone else, I have opinions about where I go. Read more

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Courage Training 101

soldier playing with working dog

I’m listening to the audio version of Brené Brown’s book, Dare to Lead. At one minute and fifty-three seconds into the book I hear this….

“I looked at these brave soldiers and said, ‘Vulnerability is the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Can you give me a single example of courage that you’ve witnessed in another soldier or in your own life that did not require vulnerability?’

Complete silence. Crickets.

Finally a young man spoke up. He said, ‘No ma’am. Three tours…I can’t think of a single act of courage that doesn’t require managing massive vulnerability.’”

I heard those words and something buried deep down inside came bursting to the surface, catching me completely off guard. Even though it was five years ago (and 28 days…but who’s counting), tears rolled down my cheeks as I said quietly to myself, “I was so scared…I was so scared….” This is embarrassing to admit (vulnerability bared for all); I sunk to the floor, curled up in a fetal position, and full-on ugly cried for half an hour. For the first time, I allowed myself to feel the terror of that split-second, deadly dangerous moment when lives were at stake and I was in charge. Read more

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Are you already failing at your New Year’s intentions?

statue of a young Aristotle

We’re only halfway through January and already I’m failing.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions or goals? Less than a third of the people I talk with say that they do. Some tell me they set goals; others have a general notion of what they want to change or accomplish. A few just continue on with the status quo. A small handful does as I do and sets a particular word or phrase to focus on for the year. In one way or another, we all set intentions. Even if you don’t intentionally set an intention, you have set an intention to change nothing. As the old adage goes, not making a choice is still a choice.

This year, my word is HABITS. After nearly five years of feeling like I’m only moving from one health calamity to another, I’ve fallen into some unproductive patterns. Let’s not call them “bad” because they served a purpose, but basically, I’ve become very good at resting. While that’s a wonderful contrast to my old workaholic ways, it doesn’t exactly accomplish all that I set my mind to. On New Year’s Eve, while on the plane flying home from San Antonio, I laid out my Top 10 list of habits I want to embed in my life. By practicing these things, they will simply become a part of my being.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Interestingly, this was not Aristotle, as it is so often attributed. The statement was actually penned by Will Durant in his book ‘The Story of Philosophy’ while summarizing a portion of Aristotle’s ‘The Nichomachean Ethics’. Nerdy sidenote: One of my final papers toward my degree in Philosophy was a review of The Nichomachean Ethics. I do love some good ol’ Aristotle.

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A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

Photo of my 3 kids in front of a Christmas tree when they were little

Our favorite ornament on the tree was received by my husband 16 years ago. A round red globe holds a small framed photo of our children. When you press a button, 3 little voices ring out in an offbeat chorus, “I love my Daddy! I love my Daddy! I love my Daddy! Merry Christmas!!” The kids and I laugh every year about struggling to get them to say that in sync. I finally gave up and ‘settled’ for having it in a round. The imperfection and shared memories are what makes the ornament a treasured memento.

When life doesn’t go as planned, lean in and laugh. That’s where the magic hides.

This year, on Christmas Day all but one of our family of five will board a plane to San Antonio to celebrate the holiday with our sweet red-headed Alex. He has been at Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) since October 30th. I have missed him so much!! 

Unfortunately, this Christmas our family is dealing with more injuries and disappointment. This time it’s not me; it’s Alex. Both my husband and I have had a hard time focusing on Christmas or much of anything else because our hearts are already with him in San Antonio. I know God won’t give us more than we can handle, but geez I wish he’d stop trusting our resilience so much! Read more

15: Staying Balanced and Remembering the Need for Rest

What makes you happy? Undoubtedly, there would be numerous and varied answers to this question. Aristotle said, “One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day; similarly, one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.” Let’s talk about what it means to be happy.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • After big weekend celebrations for my daughter’s graduation and birthday, I am exhausted!
  • Rest and balance are essential, which is one of the themes of Aristotle’s work, the Nicomachean Ethics, from which the above quote is taken
  • Everyone wants to be happy, but the extremes of life bring much unhappiness
  • Being kind to your body with rest brings happiness
  • Times of insane busy-ness have to be balanced with times of rest
  • It’s OK to plan in times for rest and relaxation
  • Aristotle advocated principles of moderation and balance, not pushing too far in either direction
  • What are the things and who are the people who take your energy from you? (these might be “EGR” people—”extra grace required”)
  • Identify the activities that cost you the most energy each day: “What you give your energy to, you’re giving your life to.”
  • Are you pursuing happiness? (which is not necessarily the same as FUN)
  • This summer, can you allow the time to slow down?  “Live life. Don’t just push through it like a machine.”

 

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Have You Heard the News?

squawking chicken

Last week I heard a disturbing piece of news. A deaf couple was mocked by employees at a Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-through window for their inability to hear. At least that is what their daughter tearfully alleged in a Facebook video that went viral. The video about the KFC experience has been viewed 1.4 million times and picked up by Fox, ABC, and NBC affiliates.

The 59-year-old was with her husband when she said a female employee at the window would not help her communicate her order. “She put her hands on her mouth. I said, ‘Ma’am, sorry, I can’t hear. I need to read your lips. Could you please move it?’ She keeps standing there,” described Cole. She said she ordered again and, to her horror, the young lady walked away and began laughing with another male employee.

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