Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Expo America

Last week I went to Book Expo America in NYC with a friend Janelle Hertzler. Janelle's book has recently been published and she had a book signing and a podcast interview.

It was an exciting week, though at times it was overwhelming - there's so many books out there already, why should I try to publish mine? But by the end of the show, I was inspired and now look forward to finishing and publishing my memoir.

Some celebrities are writers. This show had plenty of them:   
Barbra Striesand will be a first-time published author this fall with a book about designing and decorating houses. She was interviewed by Gayle King. I was impressed with Barbra's energy and creativity. She is constantly using her creativity in something - music/film/houses/gardens and now a book.  

Sarah Ferguson - Duchess of York signing her children's book.
People started standing in line at 1AM for her - I felt no need to do that, so I had a book signed by an unknown author near her that didn't have a line - hence this lousy picture. 

I'm now singing 'Jesse's Girl' after seeing this interview with Rick Springfield. He has a memoir coming out soon - "Late, Late at Night"

This was my most exciting encounter - Sarah Reinertsen!
She is a full-leg amputee that inspired me post-accident. She was the first female leg amputee in complete the Ironman in Hawaii. She was on 'The Amazing Race' in 2006. I followed her various races and triathlons and decided if she could do all that, I could at least run again. So meeting her was sweet! And I look forward to reading her memoir "In a Single Bound" 

Love this guy - Gary Vaynerchuk and his first book "Crush It." 
Somehow I missed his name on the schedule (it was huge) but about 30 minutes before he spoke I was scanning the show's twitter hashtag #bea10 and saw this: 
@grayvee Speaking at downtown stage on the main floor at #bea10 speaking at 3pm be there or ... I'll cry :) 
I went, as did many others, so he didn't cry - he was passionate as usual. I'm looking forward to his new book this fall: "The Thank You Economy." 

World's Most Tattooed Woman - Julia Gnuse, age 55

This is one-tenth of the exhibitors floor - yes, my ADD was in overdrive. There were many authors there that aren't celebrities (yet). I'm just as (or even more) excited to read their books. 
I came home with a 'few' books - for me, for my boys and some for gifts.

Each day I scoured the list for authors of memoirs that were signing and giving away books. These writers were always gracious and offered me good advice in my writing. I will be reading and reviewing these books (mostly memoirs) in the weeks ahead. 
And now to introduce ... 
the most important author there!! 

She had people in line the whole half-hour of her signing time. Everyone loved her book, one even called it 
the most beautiful book at the show!

So if you don't have a copy of "Seasons of Solace" - now's a good time to get it :) Either for yourself or a gift for someone that is dealing with a loss. 

So if you would have been at the show - which genre of books would you have picked up? Is there one particular genre or would you have looked for books in different genres that sound/look interesting? 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 20 = Breathing Day For Me

I interrupt this breathing time because on May 20th, I think about breathing more than most other days in my life and I thank God for each breath.

On May 20, 2004 - I almost quit breathing when the motorhome I was traveling in was in an accident with five large trucks. My body was no match for the trucks, so it was beat up - badly. 

I had a zillion injuries and was kept in a medical coma for ten days and on major pain killers, including morphine, for a few weeks. Morphine and my brain don't mix well - I had many hallucinations. Hallucinations are different from dreams because they mix with reality and you can't tell the difference between them and reality. 

Here's the earliest hallucination memory* I have -
I am in a small room. I am sick. I am receiving some kind of treatment which consists of getting fluid through an IV.  I’m in an easy chair. I don’t want to stay here, but I need to. There is a young man in the chair next to me. He is also sick and receiving some type of treatment. I wonder why he is in my room. I know there is a nurse in the room, but I never see her. I also don’t really hear her voice, but somehow she communicates with me. The nurse lets me know to take deep breaths. As I focus on doing that, I see this large pink object floating near me. It resembles a jellyfish. As I take deep breaths, it inflates and deflates. Somehow I know that I need to focus on keeping the ‘jellyfish’ full. If I allow my breathing to become shallow, the jellyfish looks like it will shrivel up and drop to the floor. It is hard work to stay focused on breathing deep. I am really tired. I forget about the jellyfish for a few minutes. Then I panic when I remember it. I am worried that it will deflate. I’m not sure what will happen if it does, but I know it is not good. I am relieved when I see it hovering nearby. I force myself to stay focused on keeping the jellyfish full.

Reality check -
I was in a hospital bed, not an easy chair. I had a private room in ICU, so no young man was next to me. As for the ‘jellyfish’, I wonder if that represented my lung. My right lung had collapsed due to a broken rib puncturing it and the nurses and doctors repeatedly told me to breathe deep. 

My early post-accident memory is blurry, so I don't know exactly when I had this hallucination. I assume it was about two weeks post-accident after I was taken off the ventilator. My husband said the nurses would often remind me to breathe deep.
Celebrate breathing today - if necessary, slow down to take some deep breaths through out the day. 

*My memoir will have more of my hallucinations - ranging from funny to political to terrifying. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Breathing Time

Right now a designer, a developer and myself are all pregnant with a new website for here :) The 'baby' has to mature more before the birth can take place. 

Right now I am also determined to meet a Dream Year deadline decided on in January - that is to have my memoir finished by June 30th, so most days are spent wrestling with words for that. 

Also during the next few weeks - I will be spending more time away from home than at home. Whiteboard - Virginia Beach Vacation - BookExpo. To allow myself to fully engage in each of those events (and work on my memoir) posts here will be sporadic until sometime in June when the new baby should be here.

The path for the next few weeks looks like 
this beautiful trail that I biked on this past weekend.
Pine Creek Bike Trail - near Morris, PA

Happy May to You!

I'll be back .... (said in a deep Australian accent)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday Thoughts - "Will It Matter in a Year?"

I have an unscheduled day in front of me. No meetings, no appointments, nothing that has to be done. (Yippee!!) Yes, there's things I could do - like clean or organize or weed - but nothing that will really matter a year from now whether or not I do it. The 'will it matter in a year' question guides a lot of what I do in life.

Yes, some of you will be jealous because you can't remember the last time you had an empty day. But start asking yourself "Will it matter in a year?" You might find more free time.

And some of you have too many unscheduled days. You wish you had somewhere to go. Or you wish you were able to go anywhere - you'd even be happy to attend a boring meeting. I'm sorry ... and I hope you will find something meaningful to fill your day. Write, draw, paint, leave comments on blogs - your voice is valuable

If your day is not what you want it to be - visit my online acquaintance that has had too many days this past year that she didn't want. Her birthday is today and her post is inspiring. Happy Birthday Gitzen Girl!

Today's a day we all have - what are you doing with it? 

I'm going offline and writing :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Thoughts

Did this ever happen to you?

Someone mentions that they wonder what it would be like to do that or have this or go there. You sense they have a desire for this certain thing. You hear it by the way the talk about this thing

Silly example - they want a new coffee maker. You hear them admire the coffee maker. They mention that they did some research on coffee makers and this one scored the best. 

A day later, they are so excited because they even overheard a random comment about this particular coffee maker. 

Then suddenly they are saying that God told/nudged/directed them to get that particular coffee maker. 

This baffles and/or annoys me ... depending on the circumstances.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sunday Sayings

On Friday I attended a host site for the Chick-fil-A Leadercast. It was a good day with a lot of interesting speakers. My two favorite speakers were at the end of the day - here's quotes from each of them. 

Chance favors the prepared mind. - Steve Uzzell 
Your mind will only take in what you are prepared to receive. Steve Uzzell 

Success = using the talent God gave you to elevate others.  Dr. Ben Carson
Our emphasis shouldn't be on being politically correct, but instead, on being civil with whom we disagree with. - Dr. Ben Carson

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday Fave

For more Fave Friday's go to Susanne's site

My Friday's Fave Five

1. iHope with Jonas and Anne Beiler, founders of Auntie Aunne's Soft Pretzels on Friday night. 

2. Girlfriends weekend at a friend's house on the Chesapeake Bay.

Life is good ...

3. Monthly phone call with Ben Arment for Dream Year

4. Seeing my son Jon do well (and loving it!) at Track and Field ... he's going to an invitational meet this Saturday, doing the long jump!

5. Chick-fil-a Leadercast today ... right now.
                                    Yes, I am multi-tasking :)  
Centerpieces today. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Praying for Nurses

Today, May 6th is the National Day of Prayer. There have been emails circulating about the President canceling the National Day of Prayer. They are wrong ... here is a proclamation he signed for it. 

Today is also National Nurses Day. And National Nurses Week is celebrated from May 6th to 12th, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is known as the founder of modern nursing. 

I am not a nurse, nor desire to be one (I won't do well with all the blood/pain/etc) but I have a special place in my heart for nurses since 2004. That's when I spent months in the hospital and realized the love/time/energy nurses pour into their job. My nurses were professional and caring. They did what they had to do and so much more. 
A few of my nurses and the Chaplain (on the right)

I did have one nurse (not in picture) who seemed to be struggling with her job and all the care I needed annoyed her, so she was snappy with me. At first, this made me angry, because I couldn't help the situation I was in. But I realized that I had a choice in how I responded to her. It became a personal challenge for me to see if I could help her enjoy her job more. I found little things she did well and thanked her for them. I asked about her world and the challenges of being a nurse. By the time I left the hospital, we were friends. I was pleasantly surprised when she called me a few weeks after I was at home to see how I was doing. 

Since then, I pray for all nurses ... especially ones that are struggling under the pressure of their job. 

To Be A Nurse Is To Walk With God 

To be a nurse is to walk with God,
Along the path that our Master trod;
To soothe the achings of human pain,
To faithfully serve for little gain,
To lovingly do the kindly deed,
A cup of water to one in need,
A tender hand on a fevered brow,
A word of cheer to those living now;
To reach the souls through its body's woe
Oh, this is the way that Jesus would go.
Oh, white-capped nurses with hearts so true,
Our Great Physician is working through you.
-Author Unknown

If you are a nurse - thank you for all you do!! 

Or has there been a nurse that has blessed your world by her/his care? 

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Interview with Jason Boyett about "Oh me of little faith"

I found Jason Boyett's blog sometime in the past year. I liked it - his humor, his honesty and his questions. And I looked forward to his latest book "Oh me of little faith" for all those reasons and because the sub-title is: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling. I love the humility in that line. There's enough of books from people that have 'figured it out' and that give 17 steps to success.

I received an early copy of the book (thanks Jason and Zondervan) and then Jason was even gracious enough to do a blog interview with me. (my first!

The book was what I expected it to be ... a memoir that was honest, real and well-written. And left me with more questions and thoughts to ponder - which feeds my curiosity addiction.  He allows some thoughts to 'hang' - without feeling the need to wrap everything up in a 'nice box with a bow.' I have post-it markers on many pages. I love his illustration about how marriage and parenting are both filled with uncertainty, but yet we move ahead doing the best we can in both areas and that is what we need to do with our faith, even when we have doubts. 


JO: Is there a particular thing/incident/reason that you decided now is the time to write a memoir, or did it just feel right?
 JB: I delivered a sermon at my church in 2007 (filling in for our pastor), in which I decided to stop pretending I had it all figured out and openly confessed to having doubts. The response was really encouraging. So many people thanked me for expressing something they didn't feel they could talk about safely in church. That's when I began thinking that there might be something to the idea, because at that point, no one was really talking or writing about spiritual doubt. But clearly we needed to. So I put together a proposal and eventually it landed at Zondervan.

Was there a particular chapter in the book that was really fun and/or easy to write? Why? 

What about one that was difficult to write? Why?

"Turtles All the Way Down" (Ch. 2) was a lot of fun to write, just because I got to base the whole thing on a giant stack of turtles in space. I just kept smiling at that image, even though there would be times midway through when I'd think to myself, "I am writing about the existence of God and the whole thing seems to revolve around a turtle metaphor. I am so screwed." But any time you can build a chapter around both a Stephen Hawking illustration AND a Dr. Seuss story, you are going to enjoy yourself. 
The hardest chapter to write was "Reverse Bricklaying" (Ch. 5), the one about prayer and my brief foray into charismatic Christianity. Maybe three people on earth knew that Brazil story, and having to dig back into that muck was tough. It was hard going back to that mindset, and even harder to tell a story that makes me feel pretty vulnerable. Even today, I don't feel good about that year in my life.

You wrote that you've experienced God's presence 'three and a half times' ... is it difficult to hang on and continue to believe in those times over the years? 

Yes it is. I've held onto those times, but my inner skeptic can certainly find ways to start debunking the "God" aspects of those stories. Maybe not with the earliest one (the Philippians/couch experience), but definitely with the other two. There are a lot of elements in those situations -- foreign country, physical exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, heartache, community -- that can make a person especially receptive to spiritual things. The religious person would say that it makes us more receptive to God or the Holy Spirit. The atheist would say it makes us more receptive to emotions we've been conditioned to view as God, but which are really just chemical reactions in our temporal lobe. I admit: some days I lean more toward the second explanation than the first.

 At this time, praying liturgical prayers is not something I do, but I found your thoughts about that interesting. But does praying someone else's words every feel fake and/or like you are reading Hallmark cards to your wife rather than telling her in your own words how you feel about her?
That's a common question, and one I definitely asked from time to time, prior to my shift toward liturgical prayer. But in response to that line of questioning, I always bring up another question: when you sing worship songs in church, do you sing words someone else wrote? Does 
that feel fake? Or is worship only meaningful when you make up your own personal lyrics, right there on the spot?  (Great move, Jason - answering a question with a question. I hadn't thought of the comparison between songs and prayers, but now I get it and am saying duh to myself)

 Granted, some of the lyrics to worship songs are even worse than Hallmark cards, but it's the same situation. We are speaking to God using someone else's words. The difference is that, with liturgical prayer, you're using words that have been prayed by Christians for hundreds of years. When I pray the Lord's Prayer, I'm praying in the same manner that Jesus told his disciples to pray. No, they aren't my original words, but what kind of hubris does it take to think I can come up with something better than Jesus...right off the top of my head?

 I've studied heaven and hell a little and you gave me a lot more stuff to ponder ... any more information or thoughts since you wrote the book? 

No. Nothing new. I'm pretty much stuck in the same place as when I wrote the book. This is one of those issues where education/knowledge really seems to get in the way of faith. A logical, rational person will look at the evolution of afterlife beliefs among the Israelites and has to admit there are some real questions that come up. If heaven and hell are/were an eternal reality, then why did God allow the Israelites to go thousands of years without knowledge of these destinations? Because up until the Exile, all the biblical writers talked about Sheol instead of heavenly paradise or the punishments of hell. EVERYONE went to Sheol. So God gives them instructions on where to sew the tassels on their garments but doesn't reveal to them the existence of heaven as an eternal resting place for believers, or hell as a destination for the damned? THOSE details he left out? Really? I have a lot of trouble making excuses for this. But heaven and hell are such an important part of the Christian tradition and doctrine -- and clearly Jesus believed in them -- that I don't know what to do. I'm reluctant to bury my head in the sand and pretend I never learned this stuff. But I'm just as reluctant to just toss them out the door as human constructs influenced by the Persians and Zoroastrians, either. So I'm stuck in these questions. Not sure I'll get any answers this side of death.

 I like your thoughts about 'ask, seek and knock' in the last chapter - what are you asking/seeking/knocking about these days? 

As always, I'm asking for grace and mercy. I pray the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I ask for increased faith...but until it arrives, I ask for the strength to continue following even when the following has to get ahead of the belief.


Jason and I also share a love of being active. So I wanted to know more about his running and triathlons. How long has running been a part of your life? What about triathlons? 

I participated in my first sprint triathlon in the summer of 2008. Prior to that, I'd begun swimming longer distances as a way to get into shape once I hit my early 30s and saw my metabolism slowing down. While training for the triathlons, I discovered how much I enjoyed running -- at least, running up to around 8 miles or so (after that point, it becomes much less enjoyable). Before the triathlon thing started, I was never a runner. I hated it. I used to try to run a mile and disliked every minute of it. Not sure what changed, but by forcing myself to train for an actual event on the calendar, I discovered that I liked it. Exercise really is addictive, in all the best kinds of ways.

Sorry to hear about your current MCL sprain ... was this a slow injury or was there an incident that caused it? What does your recovery look like? How long? Physical therapy needed?

Um, there was an incident. A dumb, dramatic one. I was sick a couple of weeks ago and went a day without eating anything. Let myself get dehydrated. Got up the next morning and immediately took a hot shower and I passed out while shampooing my hair. I was only out for a couple of seconds, but when I came to on the floor of the shower it became clear that I'd messed up both of my knees in the process of falling. I have no idea what happened -- that was the first time I've ever fainted -- but I know the result: MCL sprain on the right knee. The left knee hyperextended slightly. Neither requires surgery, but I'm limping pretty badly and have to lay off them for the next couple of months. Not sure about physical therapy...mainly just waiting for the small tears to heal up. I was supposed to run a half-marathon last weekend, and do a sprint triathlon next month, and go backpacking the month after that. Pretty disappointed that a stupid thing like a shower is disrupting all this stuff I love to do. (sorry about your pain Jason -hope it heals fast!)

Has running/biking/swimming taught you anything about your faith and/or your doubts? (whatever that means)
 That's a great question. If anything, it's taught me that there is value in continuing to push through, even when you seem to hit a wall. During the lake swim of my triathlons, I find myself repeating the singsong voice of Dory from Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming." Even though my brain is telling me to stop and my lungs are complaining and my psyche is freaking out because I'm in 100 feet of green water surrounded by thrashing limbs. You keep moving, despite the challenges. Eventually, you transition from swim to bike to run -- or from one form of faith to another -- but still you keep moving. Don't let the wall of doubt stop you. 

Thanks for that question! It's always fun to find another good metaphor. :)

And have you found any connection between being physically fit and spiritually fit?

I've also discovered that long runs or long swims provide a good environment for prayer -- especially the repetitive, contemplative kind. So, yes, I guess there's a good connection between physical fitness and spiritual fitness.


Thanks Jason for taking time to answer my questions! 
Great answers, with more good stuff to ponder. Love the thought about not letting the wall of doubt stop us - either in exercise or in faith.

Readers - if you didn't understand some of our Q & A here, pick up a copy of his book "Oh me of little faith" to read what prompted my questions. Or ask me in the comments here or ask Jason on his blog or twitter.