Involvement, Connections, and Success

We often hear “It’s who you know that counts.” But more than that, your involvement in projects to help others will provide valuable connections. You will come to know many more people just by getting involved.

My volunteer work with the coming Kansas Authors Club convention in Wichita helped me strike it rich–new friends, new connections, and new opportunities. Through contacts with my writing friends–local writers with national (even international) acclaim, or writers from around the world, I was recently invited to provide my own books to Watermark Bookstore in Wichita, a shop that seemed far outside my reach until recently.

Watermark Books & Cafe, a thriving independent book store, holds regular author talks and book signings, hosts book club meetings, children’s activities, and more. I am thrilled to announce that interested readers can now find my books on Watermark shelves.

Check these out:

https://www.watermarkbooks.com/book/9781502478375

https://www.watermarkbooks.com/book/9781530303830

Next time you have a chance to help another writer, do it. Whether you share objective critiques of their work, publicize their books on your platform, or invite them to speak at writers meetings, I highly recommend it. The connections you make may open doors you previously only dreamed about.

 

There is Life After Loss

A year ago I launched The Bridge, following advice of several writing friends. It’s been an adventure for me, providing fulfillment in my life. I’ve learned a lot about the blogging world, but I admit I’m still a novice and have a lot more to learn.

This year, The Bridge is receiving a facelift. Again, advice from various writing sources convinced me that it should be narrowed in scope. The book I’ve labored to write for the last three years is nearly complete. I’m polishing a proposal. I’ve pitched it to a couple literary agents and a few small publishers. Excerpts from my memoir have won awards in writing contests in both Kansas and Oklahoma, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfirst place in non-fiction in the 2012 Kansas Writers Association contest, and first place in non-fiction at the 2013 Rose State Writing workshop contest in Oklahoma.

I believe my story might help someone. I’ve done my best to write and polish the prose. I’m confused at times. Blog-related advice runs the gamut from “You can’t sell a book without a blog” to “Don’t start a blog until you know what you’re doing.”

I’m not sure I’ll ever know what I’m doing, but I believe I’ve been nudged from beyond— from across The Bridge—to proceed. My purpose in this venture seems to run counter to all the workshop advice. My goal has never been one of personal enrichment, of financial gain. Publishers and editors need to assess the marketable aspects of a manuscript. All I want to do is help somebody who needs a friend, somebody who might be going through a particularly rough time, somebody who might be struggling with a life-or-death crisis today. In some ways I am terrified to stir up the past and serve it to strangers. But if I can help someone, I need to find the courage to step forward. That is one of life’s big adventures—meeting your fears and laughing through the terror.

Let me tell you a little bit about the bridge photo in the header of this blog. More than three decades ago, I stood with my husband in the basement morgue of the hospital where our daughter—our precious child—had been stillborn. We gazed at her tiny face, stroked her cold cheeks, fingered her tiny hands, and bid her farewell. We had not thought to bring a camera. That was the one and only time we saw our baby girl.

After her memorial service in a windy hilltop cemetery, we wound our way through the hills of our county, just driving, not saying much. We did have our cameras though. Every so often, something caught our attention and we stopped to take a picture. The scenes were bleak, lonely, cold, PICT0548showing life buried by death, and dreams receding across a bridge. Together they expressed our unspeakable grief. The collage of photos became our picture of little Gabrielle, and the header of this blog was among them. It is a picture of my baby girl. Isn’t she amazing?PICT0547

Since the day three decades ago when I stood on a lonely road taking a picture of a bridge, I’ve bidden farewell to Gabrielle’s little brother. I’ve been widowed. My grandmother passed on, as well as a few friends. Most recently, I’ve been orphaned. Each loss opened a fresh wound and shook my faith in the goodness of life. Each loss was different, leaving a new kind of hole in my heart. Sometimes I thought I could not bear the pain. To watch someone you love die is to watch the world stop turning.

And yet, I survived. I’m here to say there is life after loss. All of us who love somebody risk the pain of loss and we will all have to bid that final farewell to our dear ones someday. After the frenzy surrounding a loss comes to an end, one thing that remains is the certainty that your life has changed forever.

But there is still life after loss. And it can be a good life. After losing my first husband, I met another wonderful man. After losing two children, together my husband and I have raised four. Now we are enjoying the antics of a grandson, and our youngest daughter is expecting a baby girl very soon. Life can be good indeed.

I offer The Bridge, re-designed, to feature topics related to grief and healing, to memorial tributes for my loved ones now gone, and to cover writing topics. Other facets of my life belong in another place. For those who may be facing terminal illness right now, or the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, my heart goes out to you. I hope entries in The Bridge may provide a small bit of comfort and help with your healing journey. At least you’ll know you’re not alone. You have a friend.

Sanctuary: A Photo Essay

“A picture is worth a thousand words”. I wonder how many scenes can be pulled from just one word?

Sanctuary

courtesy Vijay Sherring
courtesy Vijay Sherring

Sanctuary

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“A picture is worth a thousand words” but how many scenes can be pulled from just one word?

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courtesy Rebecca McCutcheon, The Winfield Courier
courtesy Rebecca McCutcheon, The Winfield Courier

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 S  A  N  C  T  U  A  R  Y  !  !  !

 
 
And Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out those that sold and bought in the temple, ond overthrew the tables of the moneychangers . . . . And he told them, “Is it not written my house shall be called a house of prayer among all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves.” Mark 11: 15, 17
 
 
 
 
For more information, see
http://www.vjsexoticsafaris.com
http://www.rideforrenewables.com
http://350.org
http://www.tarsandsaction.org
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpfWCpRvY9c&sns=fb

http://www.winfieldcourier.com/archives/article_e9faf415-cec6-562c-963e-98c3916b12c3.html

The Consideration Project

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I’ve been thinking about my mother a lot lately.  Last week marked a full decade since we celebrated her last birthday with her.  It’s only natural she has been in my thoughts.   For our appreciation of all the finer things in life, my sisters and I have Mother to thank.  She loved music, literature, and the finer aspects of our culture fostered through the arts.  Education was a priority for her.  Based on her own experience, continuing education was the key to rise above desperation and hardship.  She fostered within each of her daughters the value of knowledge, hard work, and a sense of justice and opportunity for those down on their luck.  She was also pretty hard-nosed about second chances if one failed to recognize the gift of a first chance.  But she remained generous to others all her days.

Actively involved in our childhood education, Mother assigned me the first big project I recall.  She became upset by the daily arguing of her three daughters.  To combat the incessant cacophony of our constant bickering, she assigned each of us to do a “Consideration Project.”  We were to consider each other’s feelings and viewpoints before we erupted into a shouting match.  There was paperwork involved.  By the due date, I had written a journal of thoughts, choices, and conclusions.  This project became a major activity for me. Though I don’t have a copy of my final report, I learned a great deal from the activity.  I believe this was the first major writing project assigned in my school years.  It was Mother who assigned it, and I still remember the “Consideration Project.”

I can draw parallels to lessons recorded in the gospel books of the Bible.  Jesus instructed, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”  (Matt. 5:41)  “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from anyone who takes away your coat, do not withhold even your shirt.”  (Luke 6:29)  In other words, Jesus also encouraged his followers to be considerate of others.

Is there anything more difficult to master about life?  My natural response toward someone who has acted harshly against me is to retaliate in kind.  Yet, if I stop a moment and give consideration to the other, I might imagine a bit of bad news they may be facing, a hardship in their family, or an argument they may have had with the most important person in their life.  Even though a person may treat me unfairly, it helps no one if I pass that injustice along.  Not even me.

There have been times after I finish a service job when I am offered payment with a check that bounces.  I fretted.  I worried.  I fretted some more.  But when, in my heart, I made a gift to the person of my work, my distress was instantly relieved.  Jesus’ instructions for giving beyond expectations were spoken not to benefit those who wrong me, but to lift the load of hatred and resentment from my own heart.  Freedom and contentment were my immediate rewards.

Jesus also said, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.”  (Matt. 7:1)  How can I possibly know all the details of another person’s choices?  I can’t.  Granted, I have never been on the receiving end of a violent criminal act.  I have never faced the loss of everything I hold dear at the spiteful actions of others.  I honestly don’t know how I would react in those cases.  But I do know that I can choose my actions carefully today.  I have the power to affect my own life and future, and I can support others who face unknown crises without judging them from my own perspective.

It seems that our nation is in need of a consideration project.  Diversity has always been one of the strengths of our country.  We defend the right of others to live as their hearts dictate, as long as their choices hurt no one.  The bitterness and rancor we see today in our nation gets us nowhere in the long run.  The art of politics should be the art of compromise, striking a deal somewhere in the middle that the majority of people can embrace.   We defend the rights of those who have few resources.   We defend our diversity.

Extremists who deny compromise and refuse action of any sort unless it’s what they want only hurt our country.  There should be no room for a “My-way-or-the-highway” attitude.  How do we find common ground with folks who will not listen to differing views?  On a national scale, we seem to lack something basic.  Something like . . . consideration.

Mother, we need your “Consideration Project.”  I suspect that if we try, we could find some common ground between the blue and the red.  If we consider the views and thoughts of those who differ from us, we might find we share many things.  We love our children.  We revere the life and opportunities we’ve had.  We want others to share similar good fortunes.  We worry about what the future holds.  The basics of humanity exist in the hearts of people regardless of their political persuasions.  If we listened considerately to each other, we might find we share a lot.  Our states are not totally red nor blue, just as our own hearts are not absolutely conservative or liberal.  We are closer to various shades of purple than perfectly red or perfectly blue.  Purple should be the color of our future as we strive to find commonalities in our concerns.

How about a little consideration for each other?  I’m ready.  Are you?