Posted in New Year's

My 2019 Bucket List

Wishing all my readers and friends a Happy New Year. For 2019, instead of resolutions, I decided to make a bucket list of 19 items and am featuring them in this post. Feel free to share any of your own 2019 bucket-list items in the comments.

These items are not in priority order because they are all of equal importance to me.

My 2019 Bucket List

  • Make new friends. I’ve been blessed with many new friendships over the past years from people I’ve met at my new church to fellow writers I’ve made the acquaintance of online and at local events, as well as patrons at my library. Friendships are vital in today’s world, and you’re never too old to make new friends.
  •  Maintain healthy habits. I’m thankful that I was able to lose over 30 pounds this year (making my total 70 pounds since I’ve been on the Jenny Craig program). I hope to maintain that loss and maybe lose a few more pounds. In addition, I’m striving to keep up my 30-minute daily exercise routine.
  • Work Smarter, not Harder. I’ve been having some difficulty balancing my writing and book promotion time. I hope to make some changes in 2019 to fit both in without sacrificing my free time.
  • Focus on What’s Important. Along with balancing my writing and promoting time, I’d like to focus on certain priority areas in my life — my family, friends, and pets.
  • Pinpoint Bad Habits and Eliminate or Curb Them. I don’t smoke or drink; but, like everyone, I have some habits that  stand in the way of my personal growth.
  • Read new authors, start a new series, and explore other genres. One of my perks as a librarian  is having access to a wide range of books.  Although my time is limited, I will try to allot reading time and diversify my selections.
  •  Expand my Horizons with educational and informative classes, webinars, and workshops. I’ve already taken many of the free, online course offerings available through my library’s  Gale Courses database, but there are many other opportunities for learning through a variety of sources online and in schools.
  • Attend writer’s conferences. Most writer’s groups hold annual conferences. Although cost is a factor when traveling to some of these, the experience and networking opportunities often outweigh the expense. I’d like to attend at least one a year. This year I’m hoping to go to St. Louis in May to speak on a panel at the Cat Writer’s Association. I’d also like one day to attend Malice Domestic, a cozy mystery convention that many fellow members of Sisters-in-Crime and their guppies group attend annually.
  • Volunteer and seek out ways to help others. I will try to make time to volunteer whether it’s through my church, a pet shelter, a senior center, or other organization that serves those in need. I’ll also look for opportunities to lend a hand. For instance, I can help an old person cross the street, carry grocery bags for a pregnant neighbor, offer to babysit for a couple on their anniversary.
  • Organize my Home, Work, and Life. It’s not easy maintaining a home when you work full-time and also write. However, having things in place helps make this easier.
  • Unclutter. There are many items that accumulate that my family no longer uses. I plan to give away those that others might find useful through donations to charity groups that collect them such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, United War Veterans, etc.
  • Have More Fun and Live Life Fully. You only live once, and we all should enjoy our short time in this world by doing the things we like and being with the people we love.
  • Smile and Laugh More. People who can see the lighter side of things enjoy better health and luck and share that gift with others.
  • Be Optimistic. I’m guilty of viewing the glass half empty. I need to see that I’m lucky to have a good life and that my glass is almost always half full.
  • Give Compliments. Everyone likes to be acknowledged. Finding nice things to say about someone can brighten their day.
  • Have More Patience. In this fast-paced, multi-tasking world, it’s not easy to slow down and wait, but rushing only causes frustration and doesn’t make time or people move any faster.
  • Gift my friends and family with my time. There’s nothing more valuable than spending time with a loved one. I  lost my mother this year and a special cat. While  I have wonderful memories of them, I wish I’d had more quality time to spend with both of them.
  • Plan for the Future. Although it’s good to live in the moment, time passes quickly. We all need to keep our goals in sight whether they are financial, career-related, or personal.
  • Be Kind Always. Even when I’m mad at someone or am involved in an argument, I need to respect their views by treating them with common courtesy while stating my own feelings and views without animosity.

What are your bucket list items for this year? Do you share any of mine? Whether or not you follow your New Year’s resolutions or accomplish all of your 2019 bucket list items, I hope you have 365 happy and healthy days ahead.

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Posted in holidays, New Year's, Solstice Publishing

The Best Gifts are the Ones Given from the Heart

Holidays are a time to be thankful for all the gifts, both physical and emotional, that our family and friends bestow on us. I’m very lucky to have made so many friends of fellow authors and readers this year. Many of them are online, but some are local. They have all enriched my knowledge, experience, and life in their special way.

This year was not the best for me. I lost my beloved cat, Oliver, on whom my character Sneaky, the library cat in my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series is based. There was also some stress regarding a family issue that continues but is hopefully moving in the right direction; and, despite several weeks of physical therapy and visits to the orthopedic, my left arm which has bothered me since April still has restricted movement and pain when turned in certain directions.

However,  many positive things also happened in 2017. Besides meeting so many new author and reader friends. I published two books in my series as well as a romantic comedy novella and several short stories. I also wrote three books that I hope to publish in 2018, one of which has already been signed for by Solstice Publishing. I still work full-time at the library where I am fulfilled by my work ordering new books for our fiction and mystery collection and assisting patrons in finding their next great read.

I am proud of my daughter Holly who, at 13, is smart and beautiful. My husband, Anthony, supports my writing by helping at home and has recently begun preparing delicious meals as he continues to work full-time at a community college. I’m also happy that my cat Stripey has become closer to me now that Oliver is gone. While Stripey can never replace Oliver, he has his own special way and is a comfort for me as I still grieve for his brother.

Another uplifting event that happened this year is that I began visiting a new church and attending services regularly. The welcome I received by the pastor and congregation have made me rekindle my faith in God and the community.

So I count the blessings I had this year and look forward to the ones I’ll be “gifted” with next year. More importantly, I look for ways I can “gift” others with my writing, my presence, my love.

Wishing you all the happiest and healthiest of holidays and the most wonderful gifts in 2018.

Posted in Facebook, New Year's

Making People Your New Year’s Resolution

2017yearI didn’t make a New Year’s resolution this year. Most of the ones I’ve made in the past were abandoned before the end of January. I think goals are more realistic. What do I want to accomplish this year? This month? This week? Today? When you know what you want to achieve, it’s easier to take steps toward making it happen. But as much as we plan, organize, and schedule ourselves, there are more important things we often forget or ignore. I learned a lesson this holiday season that I want to share with my readers because it affects everyone, even more so as the years pass and one grows older.

What are your priorities? Work? Money? Success? Are you neglecting any of your relationships? Where on your to-do-list are getting together with family and friends? Are there any people who you’ve wanted to reconnect with but have put off trying to contact?

Although life is very busy today with more social contact through phones and computers than personal face-to-face encounters, it’s important to try to make time for the people you love and care about.

2016-12-08-10-00-03-hdrI was lucky to have had a chance to see two long-time friends over the holidays. I traveled into New York City with one, and we attended the Christmas Spectacular at 2016-12-08-15-35-50Radio City Music Hall. Then we had lunch together and spent some time in Bryant Park near the New York Public Library (since we are both librarians, we took some photos near the famous lions outside who were wearing decorative wreaths). We also watched the ice skaters while having hot chocolate and ended our day viewing store window decorations as we walked back to Penn Station for our train home. It was an enjoyable excursion with a friend I hadn’t gotten together with in a long time.

2016-12-30-15-24-20After Christmas, I saw another friend. Although we spent our time locally, it was a nice day shopping in a nearby pet store (we both are cat lovers) and then browsing the shops at the Milleridge Village that were still decorated for the holidays. We stopped in the cafe where we also had some hot chocolate. I had a craving for their famous peppermint ice cream, but they were all sold out.

Those will be two memories I’ll cherish from 2016 and 2017. They mean more than all the texting, chatting, IMing, and emails I share. However, I realize it’s not always possible to personally see people especially when they are in another state or country. That’s where social media can help. Many relatives and friends have been reunited through Facebook and other sites. I’ve reconnected with many college and school friends through Facebook and that’s one of the reasons I keep my maiden name on my profile.

fbfriendAn experience I had recently spurred me to write this post. I found someone on Facebook from my childhood who was very special to me. I sent him a friend request before the holidays, but he didn’t accept. At first, I thought it was because too many years had passed. I was sure he had changed from when I knew him as a 13-year old and probably wasn’t interested in catching up with me now. He had also moved to another state and was most likely married, as I am. Still, I was curious. Although we’d known one another only briefly, he had been the inspiration and namesake for my male main character in my Cobble Cove mysteries, and our friendship had been the basis of a story I’d written and hope to publish in an anthology one day. Another novel that I’m currently querying with agents also features a man and woman who cross paths with one another twenty years later after having known one another as kids.

I don’t know why I sent the friendship request at the time I did or why I hadn’t tried earlier; but, the day after New Year’s my request was accepted — not by him but by his son. I later learned he had died a short time before Christmas. I was shocked and saddened by the news. Of course, I sent his family my deep condolences, but none of them knew me or what he’d meant to me. He had been my first boyfriend. He had given me my first kiss. It had been innocent. I was a lonely girl with a weight problem, but he didn’t care how I looked. We had fun together. I showed him my writing that I was interested in even then, and he encouraged me. We played some silly games. We went to the movies with his older sister and my older brother. We made believe we would marry one day. When we lost touch, I was very sad. I got over it, of course, and went on to lead a new life, as did he. But, as I said in A Stone’s Throw and also in my unpublished thriller, Sea Scope, “you never forget your first love.”

After I found out about my childhood friend’s death, I thought about another friend who’d died a few years ago after calling me. She’d been to my wedding, but we hadn’t been in touch for a long time. I tried to make plans to meet her, but she passed away a few weeks later before I found the time to arrange it.

I guess the lesson I’ve learned from these experiences and a resolution I’d like to make for life and not just New Year’s is to keep in touch with the people in my life, those there now and those who were once a special part of it. It’s easy to make excuses, but life is too short for regrets, holding grudges, being shy, feeling awkward, not having the time, etc. The Latins had the right idea with their motto, “Carpe diem,” Seize the day. Call, text, email, write, or visit a friend or loved one you haven’t heard from in a while. Don’t wait until a New Year to do it.