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Friday, November 13, 2009

Hello my sweet friends...

Wow! I cannot believe how long it has been since I've last taken time to blog. A lot has transpired, and I've been trying to find my "life-flow," if you will. In case you're wondering (as I've been questioned by several of you), I'm doing quite well. Having to adjust to some things, but doing well, non-the-less.

I've not been around the blog scene, or active on the message boards, lately, as I've been so busy with teaching and running the academy. In all honesty, I've been battling with extreme fatigue. So much so, that once I'm home from work, I've not the energy or drive to think, let alone write or converse for any period of time. The spirit is willing but the flesh...

I went to my oncologist today for my 3-month appointment, and after telling him about my struggles with lack of energy and exhaustion, he decided to do blood-work to rule out thyroid problems. He said that he honestly thinks that this, and other issues, are a result of having had such major surgery only three-months out. We are hoping that's the case. I want to feel awake and alert again. I miss my creative spirit and the energy that flows within that. So, hopefully soon, I will be back to my lively self with my perky inner spirit.

I just want you all to know that I appreciate you so much, and your encouragement over the last several months has meant the world to me. I want so badly to get back in my blogging groove, and to be back in touch with you all. If I only blog a few thoughts or nuggets of encouragement every few days, know that it's only temporary, and I'll be back to my old droning self soon.

Hope all is well with all of you!

XOXO CJ

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Almost five weeks after surgery, and...

I feel fantastic!! Everything went well, and I'm doing GREAT! (I was even able to keep one ovary, so I'm thrilled that I have my own hormones and feel "even," if you can understand that.)

I know that I haven't blogged in so very long. The only thing I can say is that I have been spending a lot of time revisiting my expectations of recovery and what I had predetermined to take place in my heart and mind. None of which have happened. Seriously.

What did happen? I had a successful surgery that, for the most part, was uneventful. I spent one night in the hospital, as I was fortunate enough to have the DaVinci robotic surgery. It was minimally invasive, even for a radical hysterectomy (if leaving one ovary is still considered radical). Once the catheter was removed and I could prove that I could "pee-pee" a certain amount, as well as walk the hallways, I was free to go home. Then, my recovery process began.

I walked as much as I could, a little more everyday. I rested when I needed it, and I didn't over-exert myself. (Unless you count my going to work during week two for two days, and finding that it was way too early!) I know, I know. I felt as if I could handle it. Boy, was I wrong. Should have waited at least one more week.

But, overall, my recovery was quite uneventful, restful, and at times, even boring. I was even too bored to eat chocolate. I didn't want to read, write, or watch TV. I just wanted to get back to normal. Or, what I had expected "normal" to be. I wasn't quite sure what that was going to look like.

You see, I had been suffering with female issues since I was seventeen. All my life, it seemed, I have endured pain and discomfort. I was even infertile for eleven years before conceiving our miracle baby girl (who just turned eleven in July). I have been poked, prodded and assaulted with sharp instruments more times than I can count. So, "normal" was an enigma to me.

As I waited for normality, I realized that everything I had expected to happen, emotionally speaking, had not. I had prepared myself to "change." I mean, shouldn't I have? I just had major surgery to remove my "female parts" and I wasn't feeling like a basket case. Why?

I know that this kind of thing is different for every woman who endures it. And, I certainly would never belittle someones personal experience. I know that for many women, just the word hysterectomy can stir up visions of a daunting and frightening life-event. It was that way for me as well. I was scared. I was terrified, actually. But, I have to tell you, I was not prepared for how great I was going to be, after the event.

I honestly expected to experience some deeply profound emotional "something" following my surgery. I've even spent that last few weeks pondering my state of mind and emotions, the lack of which, have left me perplexed. That would explain my lack of posting. I didn't know what to say. Or, I was afraid to say how well everything was going, for fear that things might crumble into an emotional heap of female brokenness. But, that never happened either.

To make a very long story short, I'm well. More than well. I'm happy, healthy, and nearly 100%. I feel better than I have in years, and I've found that I have, intuitively, not looked back, other than to try to understand why I'm not emotionally missing my pieces and parts.

Maybe because I was broken and now I'm fixed. Maybe because the only good they've done for me was give me my little miracle. Maybe because I know that I'm so much better off now. Even though I knew I would be, I was concerned that I would have regrets. Or, that I would have moments of grieving my femininity. After all, don't the parts make the woman? Nonsense! My soul makes me who I am.

I actually feel more beautiful, more energetic, and more feminine than ever. I feel clean and whole (even with parts missing). I feel like me... just much improved. CJ 2.0!

So, now I continue to heal. My surgery a distant memory. I'm not CJ, a woman who had a hysterectomy. I'm just CJ... period. My life is the sum of all of its parts, (no pun intended) having equal play and impartation into my life.

I have a new haircut and new attitude. I no longer expect to be sad at the loss of those things that actually hindered me during times in my life. I look forward with expectancy and joy of a pain-free and energetic life. The best is yet to come!

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:








Yes... I did it all in stilettos! (If only in my mind.)











This was my reality, the first week and a half!
(Thanks, Mirka, for the froggy socks! xoxo)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tea & Thee

Monday was my youngest daughter's birthday. She turned eleven. Geesh, where does the time go?

We have a family tradition in our home, amongst us gals, to have tea and scones and undisturbed "Momma time," on our birthdays. I've been baking scones and steeping tea for too many years to count now. But, the "Birthday Tea" is by far the most special and looked forward to occasion for taking tea in our house. According to Boo-Bear, I make the best scones and grilled cheese sandwiches in the whole world. (To the left, you'll see a bit of our morning spread.)

It amazes me how my girls transform when they are handling the delicate china cups and vintage creamer and sugar bowls. Conversation almost becomes prissy-fun at first, them deepens to a more profound expression of what is really going on inside of them. Taking tea fosters conversation. I feel bad that I've let my consistent tea-times waver over the last year or so. I must get back to it, as I enjoy it so very much. (Embroidering is another activity that I've allowed to suffer.)

So, there we were, me and my two daughters, enjoying a few stolen moments together. Those moments meant the world. Happy Birthday Boo-Bear! I love you with all of my heart. xoxo

I had my pre-op appointment on Friday. It went well. Nothing really could have been expected otherwise. EKG, chest X-ray, and more blood work were the events of the day. Now, I wait until Tuesday, when I go in for the big one. *Le sigh*

I'm becoming a bit anxious. I'm not sure exactly why, as there was not a certain event or moment that triggered this feeling. It must just be the thought of what's to come. The unknown. What I do know is that I trust God is in control and He has me in the palm of His hand before, during, and after this thing.

I'm still having the irritating need to nest. It drives me batty. Especially when everything we as women do on the home-making end, like dusting, laundry, dishes, etc, is nothing more than an illusion of accomplishment in my point of view. Not a moment after we finish our chore, do we turn around and see that more needs to be done or in my case, redone. Ongoing, recurrent, necessity. Groundhog Day! (The movie.)

I'm also busying myself with a few administrative things, for the academy, that I feel would be best accomplished early so that I'll not need to worry about them during recovery. My schedule is being cut close with in-service beginning on August 17th. I won't be able to lift or over exert myself, but at least I can sit at my desk and delegate. I'm getting pretty good at that.

My hubby has made me chillax during the summer so far. So, I just dabble in work and writing stuff here and there. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for him.

I will certainly try to post before my surgery. But, If I can't get it together enough to do so, know that I'll post as soon as I'm able. Probably at the end of next week. Now, I'm off to make more lists, over-analyze situations, and post various random status updates on my Twitter. (I will Twitter, I'm sure, once I'm home from the hospital. It's an addiction that narcotics can't even break. I may not make much sense, but, how many of us really do?)

Again, your thoughts, prayers, emails, notes, and love are felt and so greatly appreciated. Words cannot express my gratitude.

xoxo CJ

Shoe Mood:








Going easy and breezy for a while.
But, still ever so stylish. ;-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Lady in Waiting to Become A "Hyster Sister"

I'm presently living vicariously through others as I watch "Tori and Dean's Home Sweet Hollywood." Tori is struggling to balance career, home-making, motherhood, etc, while looking absolutely gorgeous doing it all. I think I can do that. I am, however, currently wearing my well-worn "pink" (although it's green) t-shirt, sweats with "pink" (although they're blue) across my bumm and flip-flops. I'm not feeling so glamorous at the present. I keep hearing Zsa Zsa Gabor whispering in my ear, "You know, it's much better to look good than to feel good, Daahhlink!" Yeah, yeah, I know. At least my make-up is on and I'm having a good hair day.

I'm having a bit of a sinus funk, and needed antibiotics for it. I have my hysterectomy pre-op appointment on Friday, and cannot be sick or it can risk my surgery date. So, went to the family doc yesterday, and he concluded, as I have, that I've not had the best "go of it" as of late. Note: Shall I remind you of a certain spider-bite situation that caused the postponement of my D&C? Then, the removal of said spider bite, which actually ended up being a sebaceous cyst that had to be cut out, and left to heal without stitches! Yeah! Did I mention this was on my cleavage? Yeah! Then, there was the pathology results of my D&C. Ug! All of this has happened since May. (Oh yeah, did I mention that I found out that I was going to need a hysterectomy on my 23rd anniversary? Yeah! Nothing like saying, "Happy Anniversary, honey! Now, let's go and see the doc about having my uterus taken out, shall we?") *Le sigh*

Anyhoo, I digress. My family doc had recently received the notes from my oncologist, briefing him on what has transpired thus far and what is going to happen from here. We talked a little bit about it all, and he encouraged me that the hysterectomy usually is the treatment for uterine cancer, and with it being so early in it's detection, I should be fine. It's just the middle part from here to there that can be a bit of a challenge.

I've been spending some time on the site "Hyster Sisters." It's been a great encouragement to me to have a place dedicated to women who have walked, or are currently walking, the path to hysterectomy. So many stories. So many different reasons as to why they ended up in this same place as I have. It's wonderful to read the testimonies of others, and know that I'm not alone, even if I feel as though I am.

This journey is not something easy to explain to those who are not on this same path. I have my days where I'm totally fine, and then the next day I may feel frightened. I get embarrassed at times because I think I shouldn't be too concerned, but then, I know it's a big deal. To me, anyway.

Having that site to go to allowed me to see that I'm very normal in my concerns, actions and reactions. For instance, I have this overwhelming urge to "nest" like I did when I was at the end of my pregnancy. I want to be sure that everything is in order and perfect for when I come home. Then I read on the forum how many women who are waiting for their surgery date to approach (we're known as "ladies in waiting") have the same inclination going on. I didn't feel silly anymore.

I think the most difficult phase in all of this is with my hubby. He's been fantastic, but always wants to "fix" things. (As most of you men out there do.) Sometimes, I just need to vent or vocalize my concerns, without being fixed. Sometimes, I just need to be listened too. I guess it's just hard for my husband to see me going through all of this stuff. All of the procedures, the poking and the prodding, the tests, waiting for the results of the tests, etc. It's all a bit much. I know I'd feel really bad for him it it were he who was going through so much, and would want to make it all better as well. But, soon, it will be over and I will be on the mend. Can't wait!

So, now I re-organize my closets, make my lists, plan our meals, etc. while I wait. And, the waiting is the worst part of the deal.

If you know of a lady facing a hysterectomy, or maybe one who has already had the procedure and maybe feels alone, please let her know of the "Hyster Sisters" website. It will do her a world of good.

xoxo CJ

Shoe Mood:








Ahhhhh! That's more like it.
Zsa Zsa would be so proud!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Getting My Duckies In A Row!

Well, I sure have a lot of catching up to do. I must say that I really appreciate you all being so patient with my slacking posts. I'm going to work very hard to get back to twice weekly, and weave some more writing stuff into them when I've not much to say about health stuff.

Also, the love and support that has been shown to me during this time has blessed me and my family so much! I can't begin to tell you what it means to me. The encouragement and prayers are lifting my spirits and I feel enveloped by your thoughts. Thank you.

Hubby and I had our "tween" camp this past week. So, we had our hands full for several days. Other than that, it's just been fatigue that has been driving me crazy! It's been hard to string coherent thoughts together. In other words, I've been too tired to think!

But, think I must! Tee! Hee!

I met with my Oncologist on June 22nd. We had a very good appointment. (Two and a half hours long!) Along the way, I've been fortunate enough to have been placed with the best of the best when it comes to my medical needs. My Oncologist is no exception. Thank God!

He said there may be the possibility that the cancer spot might have been removed during the D&C! If not, he feels certain he will get everything when I have the surgery. (No pun intended! We all know he'll get EVERYTHING!) Anyhoo, that was very reassuring.

He did say that he doesn't believe that the severe endometriosis and the uterine cancer is related in any way. So, we're trying to take care of two separate issues with this surgery. My procedure is scheduled for July 21st.

I'm much better than I was. I floated around in numbness for a while. Then I had a mini-meltdown. Nothing horrible, just slightly neurotic. Had to have hubby talk me down off the ledge. (Figuratively speaking, of course!) But, after meeting with my oncologist, I feel a lot better. Especially since I'm a candidate for the DaVinci Robotic surgery. My recovery time will be cut in half! I'll only have one night in the hospital, and I'll be able to drive once I'm off narcs. (Just won't be able to lift anything over 5-10 lbs for a while.)

There's something to say about fighting the unknown. It's daunting and scary. Your mind works over-time filling itself with "what-if's" and "how come's" and "why now's?" Although, I never asked "why me?" I'm not one to feel sorry for myself, I guess. I just wanted to be sure that everyone else would be ok, and that everything was in order so that I wouldn't have a bunch of "mess" to clean up when I've recovered. It got overwhelming as we loomed closer and closer to my recovery taking place at the beginning of the school year. But, now that I'm having the DaVinci method, I'll be fully recovered by the time we're back at school. That, alone, alleviated a whole lot of stress for me. And, just being able to sit and talk with my doc helped beyond measure. It's a very good thing to have a doctor who listens. I'm blessed.

So, now I'm getting my duckies in a row, making sure that everything and everyone is taken care of while I recover. I feel like it's the calm before the storm.

I read the most beautiful quote a few weeks ago that served to bless my spirit and calm my soul. I'm not sure where it came from or who wrote it (it may be in a song). But, it was so beautiful, non-the-less.

"Life is not about trying to get through the storm. It's about learning to dance in the rain."

My youngest has already learned this lesson. I wish I were more like her!

XOXO CJ










Shoe Mood:











I'm ready to join her!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Waves of Emotion

It's been a relatively lazy day. I've really needed the reprieve. To say that this past year has been crazy would be an absolute understatement. But, that's fine with me. I function better with deadlines and chaos.

Looking back, I'm so thankful for what I have been afforded. The wonderful opportunity to take directorship of a preschool academy in flux and turn the tide for it. As well as teaching again. That alone has been such a tremendous pleasure. And now, during the beginning of summer break, I sit. Well, not literally. Housekeeping keeps me on my toes. But, when I'm not dusting, doing laundry, etc., I am, however, finding it difficult to relax. I think along the way, I may have forgotten how to.

I'm going to need to learn how to very soon, as my pending hysterectomy will quickly be upon me.

I still find that I'm quite a bit numb at the diagnosis. I mean, I already knew that I was going to have to have a total hysterectomy when they found the complex hyperplasia. That was something I was dutifully coming to terms with. But, when you hear the "C" word, no matter how early the stage or low the grade, it's overwhelming to say the least. I'm hit by the occasional rogue wave of emotion.

I meet with my oncologist a week from today (June 22nd). From there, I imagine, he'll go through the whole process with me and hubby. At this point, I'm honestly not sure what to think or how to act. I just know that this was not what I was expecting.

Initially, I was just going through the motions. You know? Saying all the right things like, "I know I'll be fine." And, "It was found early so there's nothing to worry about." And so on. I do know that I'll be fine, but I still have emotions that are attached to this whole thing. I didn't realize just how detached I was from those feelings until just a few days ago. I don't go around all day focused on this thing called cancer. But, I do find at times that I'm a little bit uneasy about this new challenge.

It would be easy for me to just "suck it up" and deal with it. I tend to do that a lot when challenges arise. But, I think it would be bad, in the long run, if I didn't digest this process. If I didn't embrace whatever could be gleaned from this journey to wellness. It is a big deal. To me, anyway.

My sweet ten year-old has become quite clingy to me as of late. She actually asked to sleep in my bed a few nights as she wanted to just be near me. I had no idea what was going on in her young mind until she began to cry. She said with regard to my surgery, "I don't like that strangers will be handling you, Momma." That broke my heart. Children are deeper thinkers than we give them credit for.

No matter how we reassure them, no matter how much we talk and attempt to soothe, they have their own thought processes. Their own way of dealing with life's "stuff."

I'm usually a just "get 'er dun" type of person. But, I feel I run the risk of floating through the unknown, then being surprised at the outcome, if I negate the process by not giving it the thought and consideration it deserves. (Note: I may be rambling, if so, please disregard.)

Anyhoo, I am at peace. Just a little weary. Fatigue is what I seem to be battling with the most lately. That, and I'm so crampy all of the time. It will be great to have that gone for good!

This is what I'm feeling today. This is where my head is at.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:







My feet, however, are in a much better state of mind.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Twists and Turns; Still the Same Road.

Hello friends,

I know it's been FOREVER since I last posted. Things have been a bit, shall I say, crazy? Yup!

Since my last post, I've had my preschool's graduation, my daughter's graduation, and I had to have the sebaceous cyst that was located where I had the previous spider bite removed. Three weeks and I'm still healing, but healing nicely. Looks much better than I had expected it would. (Especially since I could not have stitches. It had to heal open, from the inside out.) Yukko!

Thursday, May 28th, I had my D&C. Waited with baited breath for the pathology results. Got them yesterday. The complex hyperplasia with aytpia had, in fact, turned to cancer. But, it's so early in it's change that I'll be fine. Early detection is key! So, now I will have to go to a Gyn. Oncologist for my surgery. He will have to biopsy lymph nodes during the hysterectomy to determine if anything bad has gotten into my blood stream. If so, he'll just take the bad nodes, and all should be well. My doctor has a call into the ocologist. I should be hearing from him today or tomorrow to set up our consultaion, then surgery.

To say that I'm a bit aloof and overwhelmed is a bit of an understatement. I know in my heart that everything will be fine, but, at the same time, I'm a little freaked out. Not terribly, just a minor touch of the "freak." I don't know why. I'm incredibly thankful to God that we found it so early. Six months to a year would have made a terrific difference in what my family and I would be facing. But, the fact that I have this kind of desease in my body really bothers me, deeply. I think it's more mental than anything.

When talking to my hubby about it last evening, I realized that I'm all discombobulated. This was NOT my plan at all. I wanted to just go and have an endometrial ablation, and be done with it. Down for a day, and that would be that. Little did I know back in February, when this whole journey of wellness began, that I would be facing such a different outcome. A much bigger deal with many more steps. But, it's OK. The outcome is what I'm looking forward to.

On a really great note, my precious 10 yr.-old daughter, who just graduated 5th grade, was honored with the "President's Award in Education for Academic Excellence" signed by President Obama! We were totally not expecting that. She also won her school's D.A.R.E. essay writing contest. She was presented with a medal and had to read her essay at the graduation ceremony yesterday. And, if I've not bragged and gushed enough, here's more... she was honored for being in the Honor's Chorus, a tutor of first graders, talent show, and art. She was also chosen, along with three other girls, to sing the "National Anthem."

The big deal is this... she was home-schooled until this year. Fifth grade was her first experience in public school, as I was a home-educator for eight years, having begun when our oldest was in fourth grade. What a blessing! She really went for it, big time! Yay, Boo Bear!

Well, I just had to dote a bit! Thanks for endulging me in that.

I hope all is well with you all! (Keep on writing!)

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:











Hey, it's summer break!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Needful Things

I was so tired today after teaching, that following school, I came right home and took a nap. I woke up thinking the following thought, "It's so easy to drift away from oneself, that before we realize it, we have become but a fragment of what we once were. We should take care not to allow that to happen." I don't always wake up with deep thoughts permeating my heart and mind. Those of you who dig my "Birdie Bizz" know that. It's just that, lately, I've been so stretched with obligations, responsibilities, and physical trials that I have dwindled myself down to a mere toothpick. At least that's how I feel.

The last thing I want to do is to be a big bummer and dump gloominess all over your sunny day. I'm just conflicted a bit about a few things. Dreams and past interests, mostly.

So, I'm looking forward to summer. I'm going to "return to me." I'm going to pick up my paints and canvas, and my embroidery, and create something beautiful again. I'm going to actually sit and read. I'm going to begin to journal again, while I take tea. I'm going to reconnect with friends that have patiently sat by as I've filled my schedule to overflowing with business.

Maybe there is a blessing in my upcoming surgery. It's going to MAKE me slow down for a bit. Maybe it will serve to get me back on track with those things that were once needful to me. The little things that aren't so little to me. They each served to revive and inspire me. I'm needing inspiration once more.

I'm needing a refreshing with regard to my writing as well. I feel a little bit like a lost soul... just wandering about, looking for direction.

I'm looking for solitude.

William Wordsworth wrote, "When from our better selves we have too long been parted... how gracious, how benign, is Solitude."

That's where I'm at. I feel as though I have been parted from my better self. Too busy to care for the ailing half (I mean in my soul, not in the physical sense). Now, I have no choice.

As far as my surgery, well, I've had a bit of an ordeal. The spider bite that came back to haunt me caused my D&C to be canceled, due to fear of an infection. Therefore, I don't yet have a new date scheduled for the D&C. So, that pushes back hearing from pathology, which pushes back my hysterectomy, which pushes back my recovery time. Hopefully, not into the beginning of next school year. Ug! So, now I sit here with my antibiotics (two days worth, left to take), waiting to hear from my surgeon as to when we can get back on track.

I am laughing through my tears, though. Truly, I am. We have to keep a sense of humor when things don't go the way we've planned. (I so hate not being the one in control.)

XOXO,

CJ

Shoe Mood:








Choosing to stay cool and relaxed
in the midst of total chaos.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spider bites, D&C's, and all that good stuff!

Okay... so I went for my pre-operative appointment on Monday for my D&C which was scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday. Now, it wasn't the blood-work or discussion about the general anesthetic that bothered me. No... it was the fact that I can't wear any make-up into surgery. And, if that were not enough, I have to remove my nose piercing. Ug! Do they realize how much work it took for me to get this stupid nose stud in, in the first place? Once I pop it out, I won't be able to get it back in! You want to talk about pain? Pushing a little tiny bar with a stud on one end and a ball on the other through a teeny little hole on the side of your nose is painful. Especially when the ball that is used to hold the bar in your piercing is larger than the hole itself. Are you kidding me?! No, they weren't.

On a lighter, slightly more humorous note, as the nurse was drawing my blood, and was at the end ready to remove the needle, she dropped the sterile pad that she had wanted to put on my arm. She just stood there for a moment, pondering. Then, realizing that she had considered all other options in her mind, asked me if I wouldn't mind holding the needle in place while she went to fetch a new sterile pad. "Sure," I said. It wasn't like I was going to go anywhere. Certainly not with a needle hanging out of my vein. That could cause a whole lot of trouble and unwanted rumors. So, there I sat, holding the needle in my arm as she walked across the room to grab another sterile pad.

On a not so funny or lighter note, while at the pre-op appointment, I asked the nurse to look at a place where I had once been bitten by an ugly spider. The bite was five years ago, mind you. But, three years ago, the bite site became inflamed and very swollen. I ended up having a staph infection due to the poison from the bite. Well, after antibiotics and several hot compresses later, it "relieved" itself. Other than a yucky little lumpy scar, I hadn't thought twice about it in years. Then, not five days ago, I ended up with a red and swollen bite site once more. Seems it wasn't finished with me yet. So, while I was at the pre-op appointment, they highly suggested that I have my General Practitioner look at it again. Needless to say, my D&C was canceled due to fear of re-occurring staph. I had to have my GP okay me for the the D&C in order to reinstate the surgery date and time, but by the time I got in to see him late yesterday, my surgery slot was taken. Now, I wait for a new date and to find out whether or not my surgeon will allow me to take these new antibiotics from my GP to heal this stupid bite! (Because you are not supposed to have any meds in your system 5-7 days prior to surgery.)

And, if this were not enough, my GP told me that once I "get through" all of this D&C and hysterectomy stuff, I need to have the bite site surgically removed as it looks as though it has rested in a gland. (Did I mention that the bite site is on my breast?!)

Anyhoo, here I sit. I have to laugh. Just like the day I found out that I was needing a hysterectomy. It was our 23rd wedding anniversary. I said to my precious hubby, "Happy Anniversary, Sweetie. Now, let's go talk to the doc about having my uterus taken out!"

Sometimes you just have to find humor in the daunting things. If you don't, you'll go stark raving mad.

XOXO CJ

P.S. I just want to thank so many of you who have wished me well and expressed such love and concern towards me. It really blesses me! (((HUGS)))

Shoe Mood:






I choose to smile, even though I really want to cry!
But, how can you cry when you're wearing these?
Hmmmm?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

When Does a Blog Get Too Personal? Now, Maybe?

Okay, I know I've not been blogging as much as usual. I've been trying to, but I've so much to say, and not sure what to do about it. So, I've ended up keeping to myself over the last few weeks.

I've kinda been going through something and I've been debating over the past few days about what is appropriate to share and what is not? What would be sharing my heart and what would be taking readers somewhere that they may just not want to go?

I've decided to share my heart. I hope it's not too much info, but, I'm a writer. This is what writers do... right? (Pun totally intended!)

Well, this is the deal...

After several months of increasing physical problems, I had a biopsy done about two weeks ago. I met with my doctor on Tuesday to discuss the results. I was told that I have what's called "complex hyperplasia with atypia." It's a more concerning type of precancerous stage that will need more aggressive medical treatment, close monitoring, and surgical intervention. My husband and I then met with the surgeon yesterday. I'm needing to have a complete hysterectomy, not only because of the current findings, but because of my past medical history as well. About fifteen years ago I had stage four dysplasia (the stage before cervical cancer). And, if that were not enough, I have severe endometreosis. I've had that battle since I was seventeen years old.

The concern is that although the biopsy didn't show cancer, it was a small sample, and there could still be cancerous spots present. If there are, that will change the dynamic of the hysterectomy. Lymph nodes will have to be removed then as well. I have to have a D&C within the next few weeks. The D&C sample will be sent to pathology for a result. That will determine if there is any cancer present and the stage of the atypia (pre-cancer). Then, after the pathology report comes back, we will set the date for the hysterectomy.

I'm 41 years old. This is a big deal... no, actually, it's huge. But, I have a peace and know in my heart that everything will be fine. I was reassured by the doctor that even if there is cancer present, it would be slow moving, and with taking the lymph nodes, I can be sure that there will not be a re-occurrence.

I'm a wee bit overwhelmed. But, as usual, I'll be fine. God is faithful. Always has been to me.

You may be asking why I would share this with you all, especially as I have men who follow my blog as well? All I can say is that I felt compelled to do this. I had originally determined to only share with a few. But, how could I encourage others in that? I thought I could possibly help other women who are finding themselves at the same or similar place as myself. And, for those who may have already walked this walk, they could be cheerleaders to the rest of us along the way.

Needless to say, my "writing" blog will, for the next little while, be about one young woman's journey through a complete hysterectomy, and coming out at the end happier, healthier, and much wiser for the wear. I know that this post may seem somewhat sterile. Just a whole bunch of info thrown out at you. But, that's where I am right at this moment. Regurgitating information, as I'm still a little bit numb. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, though. I can reach for the other side of this thing. I know I'll be better off when it's all said and done. I can sense that much.

I'm not looking for people to feel sorry for me. I just want to know that I can have the liberty to express what needs to be for my well being. A chart, if you will, of my progress, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to that place of total wellness.

I don't know how long it will be before I get back to blogging about writing. I imagine there will be some veining of it here and there. But, for the most part, at least until I get through to the other side of this thing, it will be about the journey to a healthy me.

I love you guys!

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:










"Better to kick you in the shins with, my dear!"
Nothing is going to keep me down!












Monday, May 4, 2009

Birdie Bizz Volume 2














You'll have to click to enlarge.

Shoe Mood:







Some days you've just gotta laugh.
Today is one of those days.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I am a great writer, I am a great writer, I am a great writer...

State of my writing: Focused on writing notes and studying for my upcoming women's conference. I really need to buckle down today. Putting away my completed and revised MS until such a time that I feel would be good to pull it out again. Maybe, never. It might just be one of those things. Maybe it's out of season. Maybe it's just not something people would be interested in. Maybe, I didn't stretch myself enough.

State of my reading: Scriptures regarding my conference topic, and passed on The Shack. For now, at least. I need a funny, poignant and light-hearted romp. So, I reached for I Capture the Castle. If you've not yet read it, you must!

Okay, I know it's been a week since my last post. Hate that! But, I've been really busy with all kinds of preschool, women's conference, and just plain, being sick, kinda stuff. So, I'm glad to be back. Still not at 100%, but getting there.

I've been speaking positive affirmations to myself. And, as long as I don't end up behind the couch in the fetal position, or eating copious amounts of chocolate (well, I'm one for two, anyway), I suppose I'll be fine. This is a really hard and bumpy road, but one that must be traveled, non-the-less.

I love what I do. Right now, without accolades or applause, just obscure and unknown, with all of its frustrations, I still love what I do. Why? Because I'm a writer. From the depths of my being, that's what I am.

As discouraging as this process can be, it's my enthusiasm for this craft that keeps me going and creating when the going gets tough. I have to purpose within myself to enjoy the journey, even when there doesn't seem to be much to enjoy about it.

The emotional highs of creating a beautiful moment or dialogue that sings, to the emotional lows of rejection or "writer's block," it's a real bi-polar type experience. Thankfully, I'm still non-medicated.

XOXO, CJ

Shoe Mood:










Choosing to shine, even when my writer's soul feels a little drab.







Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Happens When I Should Be Writing...















I play with stuffed birds!

(You'll have to click on the pic to enlarge and read it.)

Shoe Mood:






The birds brightened up my day!
How 'bout you?

Don't You Just Hate Transition?

The state of my writing: Plotting and character development on one of my current WIPs.

The state of my reading: I'm looking at The Shack. (No... really, I'm just looking at it. The cover is closed and everything.) Have not been able to bring myself to read it yet. I will, though. Hubby and oldest daughter did, and cried. Very revelatory for those of us who are Christians and who find, on occasion, we are stuck in the traditional thought patterns of man and the way man thinks "religion" should be, versus what God thinks about everything. A beautiful and anointed work of fiction, I've heard excerpts from my hubby's download of the book on CD. Now, after someone bought the book for me, I must bring myself to read it in full. I'm all about the grace of God and having an honest relationship instead of empty religious rituals and superficial actions. But, that's just me.

Now, moving on. Maybe it's because I haven't even begun to plan the preschool graduation program, or complete my notes for my upcoming women's conference on May 8th and 9th. Or, maybe it's because I'm still a little out of sorts with my Grandmother's passing away, or what I thought I loved about my MS, I'm struggling to now embrace. But, I'm second guessing myself in all areas. Even my current WIPs are giving me grief.

I think that I need a vacation.

My head isn't very clear right now. I'm not sure which road to turn down. I'm directionally challenged. It's like there's been a ten car pile-up in my brain, and I'm stuck until the emergency teams come to clear out everything and wave me on through. Hopefully, they'll wave me in the right direction.

I usually feel pretty confident about my writing skills. Disclaimer: I'm certainly not saying that I feel as though I have arrived. That's quite obvious. I still have so much to learn and many areas to grow and develop in. But, overall, I usually feel as though I'm a pretty good writer with a lot of promise. Today, well, actually over the past several days, I've been questioning myself on that score.

I feel like I'm in that transition period of labor and delivery. You know, ladies? The few minutes between transitioning from contracting and laboring to the actual delivery of the beautiful gift. It's a time of "self-doubt" mode. You question EVERYTHING.

"I can't do this, put it back in, please!"
"What do you mean you can't do this? You're doing it right now!" dear hubby or the doc and nurses say.
"No... no, I'll just carry it a little longer, if you don't mind," you answer, panting heavy with the fear of the unknown.
"You can't carry this any longer. You have to push," the doc says firm and bold.
"Yeah, sweetheart, you have to do this," dear hubby says.
"Shut up! I'M NOT READY FOR THIS!" you scream in defiance. Truly believing, if only for that moment, you are not equipped or capable of bringing a treasure into the world.

That's where I am right at this very moment. I'm in full-on self-doubt mode. I'm just telling it like it is. Those of you who know me, know that I 'm a transparent person (well, not literally, although that would be pretty cool at times). I have my moments of just opening up and pouring it out. It's not always pretty.

I find at times that I struggle between the many hats that I wear. Wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, academy director, kid pastor's wife, writer, artist, and, occasional women's conference speaker. Jack-of-all-trades and master of none. There's so much I want to do, and so much I wish to accomplish. Everything right now is vying for my time and attention. I guess that's why I feel a little overwhelmed and unsure about my writing. I'm not having a clear and concise direction. I think I've hit the dreaded "writer's block" with regard to my current WIPs, and have been gripped with serious trepidation with my completed MS.

If I don't hear from the agent who has my current query and first 10 pages, I think I may just put it aside again, and move on to my new ideas. Maybe, it wasn't meant to be. Maybe it was a cathartic exercise. Maybe the timing is all wrong. All I know is that I've poured my heart in to it, and have revised and rewritten it several times over the past three years. If I do have to "bury" it in a drawer, at least I can say that it served a fantastic purpose. It got me to write, and to write with a passion. It was the vehicle that transported me from "thinking" about becoming a writer, and honestly becoming one. For that, I'm thankful.

If I've learned anything over the past several years in my personal life, it's that getting from point A to point B is seldom ever a straight line. And, I have to be okay with that.

XOXO, CJ

Shoe Mood:








Need to relax and go with the flow of life.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Lemonade Stand Awards!

Thank you, Bish! I'm so happy! It means so much to be nominated by fellow sister bloggers. I really work hard to give readers what is relevant and encouraging, as well as interesting to them.



The Lemonade Stand Award is awarded for great Gratitude and /or Attitude.

All I have to do is follow a few simple rules:
1. Post the logo on my blog.
2. Nominate 10 blogs with great gratitude/attitude.
3. List and link my nominees.
4. Alert them of their nomination on their blog.

Well, I know that most of those that I nominate will have already been nominated. But, here it goes, non-the-less: (They deserve double!)

1. Rena
2. Christina
3. Court
4. Julie
5. Nan
6. Emily
7. Angela
8. Tabitha
9. Renu
10. sruble

They're so many fantastic blogs out there. And, I'm still getting familiar with several of them.

Thank you, again, Bish! XOXO

Also, just for your information, I have posted the first ten pages of one of my current WIPs (I have two), "Jeremy Tremble." If you think you might be interested in taking a look, it's posted on my sidebar below "Where I Like to Visit."

If you feel so inclined, let me know what you think. It would men a lot!

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:










A little "frisky!" MEOW!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

M&Ms: Motivation and Momentum

The state of my writing: Sad... I am, however, working diligently on my upcoming ladies' conference notes. May 8th and 9th will be here before I know it!

The state of my reading: Sad... I am, however, diligently reading over those said notes. (I'm also skimming back through Mr. Maass' workbook.)

"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." - Aristotle

My hubby has a passion for M&Ms. He collects those cute novelty dispensers that, when you pull a lever or push a button, or move around some part of the object, a colorful candy coated little piece of heaven drops out. Sometimes, you have to struggle with the device in order to even get the candy out. But, once you do, oh man!

I was digging through our garage the other day, and many of the boxes we still have stored away, when I came across another one of my hubby's lost M&M dispensers. It got me to thinking about those M&Ms (when I usually crave Dove Chocolate), and as one thought led to another, the words motivation and momentum popped into my head.

As writers, wouldn't it be grand if all we had to do to receive motivation and keep up momentum would be to press the "easy button" and grab a few pieces? Unfortunately, it's not like that. The only comparison that I can say holds true is the struggle to get the darn things out!

I think as writers, we must keep these two Ms (motivation and momentum) clear in our hearts and minds. First, we need to ask ourselves what our motivation is. What causes us to act on our inspiration and create something special? What drives us to push through self-doubt and fear of rejection? What propels us when we must sacrifice time with family and friends? What prompts us to keep typing or writing away for hundreds of hours? In a nut shell, why do we do this? Why do we write?

If we don't have a clear and concise motivation, we will lack desire and and passion for our writing. If we're not passionate about it, how can we expect others to be?

Second, we must keep up our momentum as writers. Our momentum determines the length of time it will take to bring our work to completion. It's as simple as that. If we catch a great flow, we work longer and more passionately than if we don't know where we're going with our story lines.

It takes both motivation and momentum, working hand in hand, in order for us to accomplish what we desire in our writing careers. One can't work effectively without the other, in my "humble-bumble" opinion. How can we be motivated to do something if we don't know why we're even doing it?

Sometimes, it's easy for us to lose our way. I know that, like a hound dog, I've had to find my scent in order to get back on the trail to my writing endeavors time and time again. If we keep our motivations before us, then our momentum will come.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:









Following the yellow-brick road...
Dorothy ain't got nothin' on me! ;-)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Up Close and Personal!

"Good work doesn't happen with inspiration. It comes with constant, often tedious and deliberate effort." - William Hefferman

Once again, as I've done several times before, I'm enjoying Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel. I have both the book and workbook, and they both continually open my eyes to the industry in amazing ways.

In his book, Mr. Maass stresses the point that it doesn't matter how good we are at self-promoting, or how many books we sign, or how big of an advance we may land, or how great an agent we may have. If we don't write the story well, we won't have longevity in our writing careers. It's as simple as that.

I know that I'm preaching to the choir, but it's good to hear again on occasion; we alone are the ones who control our writing destiny. We decide whether or not we're going to give it everything we've got, or allow things to slide a little (or a lot, as in my case as of late). We decide whether we will hold ourselves accountable, or, when things don't go exactly our way, blame others for their lack of excitement about our project. We alone must stir the reader's emotions with great passion and authenticity. We alone must decide if we're satisfied with just thinking about being a great writer, or in fact, actually becoming one.

If you're a writer, I know that I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know, especially if you're one of the fortunate ones that have found representation and publication. It's just that sometimes we "know" something without really "knowing" it. You know? (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) There's a big difference between "knowing" something in our head, and "knowing" it in our heart. Our head-knowledge doesn't lead us to action. It's the heart-knowledge that does. Passion comes from the heart, not from the head.

To really understand and "know" in my heart that I alone hold the power to break-out, is both exhilarating and terrifying to me. Exhilarating because I feel empowered; I'm not dependent on anyone else for my success or failure. Terrifying because, again, it all depends on me, not my agent, editor, or publisher. They will help me along the way, but they do not write my stories, and they do not birth my visions. The buck stops with me.

So, once again, it's time for me to buckle down, dig deeper, and give everything that I have. If we as writers REALLY want to, we CAN be break-out authors. We can excel, we can succeed. It will take some longer than others, as with any success, but it will happen eventually for all of us who are willing and disciplined enough to pay the price. Yay for us!!

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:










"Golden" and feeling on top of things!
Wahoo!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Losing Your Voice?

Well, I'm back. It feels as though I have been gone FOREVER! As I'm sure you've gathered by now, it was a tough week with the passing of my Grandmother last Saturday, and then the traveling to Florida for the services and back again on Friday. Then, yesterday morning called for us to jump right back into the thick of things with our huge Easter event that we host every year. All I can say is, thank God this week is Spring Break and I'm off from school. Even though I still will have a lot to accomplish this week, I can sleep in a little and work from home. YES! Love that!

I was going to dedicate my first post following my return to my precious Mam-maw. But, I'm still processing quite a lot. So, I will hold off until later in the week. I will, however, return to the art of writing.

Question...are you a character or plot motivated writer?

I, myself, am intensely character driven. I don't know why that is, it's just the way I write.

My characters are my motivation. I love all of their quirks, emotions, baggage from past relationships and situations, and just like us, their unpredictability. I'm like a protective mother in some aspects, as I find myself wanting to save them from from their bad decisions and inevitable heartache. Yet, I have to allow them the freedom to learn and grow on their own.

But, I know that every writer is different, as they should be. What would literature be without plot-driven authors as well? I read all kinds of novels, and I'm enriched by the different styles and voice that come from within the soul of each author.

This brings me back to my original question...are you losing your writing voice? I ask because it occurred to me that so many of us, in the motivation to write well, fall prey to trying to become someone else other than ourselves in our voice and/or style. We may be character-driven, but read a great plot-motivated work that inspires us, and find that we want to write just like that, or vice-versa.

It's a wonderful thing for us to remain challenged. I'm reading The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. LOVE IT! I enjoy her unique descriptiveness and abstract thought. I read M.T. Anderson's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing a few times a year. His use of vocabulary is almost intimidating to me as it challenges me to be a better writer. It thoroughly stretches my brain capacity. Can I learn from these two fabulous award-winning authors? Absolutely. Will I try to glean something from them? Yes. Will I try to BE them? Uh...no. I don't want to be "Anderson-like" or "Proulx-like," I want to be me, CJ.

Each of us should be careful to remain true to what inspires us; to remain true to our personal writing heart. Different prose, voice, and style, give us the diversity of works that are either literary, romance, mystery, fantasy, or...well, you get the picture. We need to continue to embrace our own unique voice, while at the same time, allowing ourselves to be continually challenged and stretched.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:









Not really a particular mood. I just wore these to church today.
64 degrees. Tootsie-bells just liked being out for some fresh air.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

My loved one passed on.

As many of you know, my precious Grandmother passed away on Saturday, after being given about a week to live. We're heading out in about an hour for our drive down to Florida for the funeral. Hubby is officiating the service as he did with my Grandfather's.

I want to thank you guys. So many of you have poured out your love and prayers for me and my family. I'm so appreciative, and blessed. I've not much to say right now, but I will certainly blog again when I return. I have a special tribute that I'd like to post about this very special lady who played such a great role in why I'm who I am today.

Hope that your week is filled with joy!

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:










Mournful, but not without hope.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Please, Take A Seat!

The state of my writing: Character building for current WIP. Synopsis for completed MS.

The state of my reading: Still with The Shipping News. Unfortunately, have had A LOT on my plate. Not much time to read the past few days.

"The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." - Mary Heaton Vorse

Yeah, yeah...I know. It's that whole darn procrastination thingy. We all do it. If you say you don't, well...I don't believe you. Sorry. It's a fact of life.

I think writers are the ones who have the most difficulty with it though. I think it's because there are so many things vying for our time. And, if you're like me, and write from home, with kids, pets, spouses (well, one anyway), housework, other vocational responsibilities, yada, yada, yada, I know that you have had to face focus issues as well.

Well then, how do we beat this attack on our creativity? Here's a few ideas:

1. Take control! Make a plan, man! If we outline our work, we'll know where we're going. Now, I don't mean planning out every single detail (we need to allow our characters to take us on a ride from time to time). But, knowing the skeletal system, if you will. You know, "the bones" of the story from beginning to end. Then later, it will be easier to come back and put flesh on the whole thing. (Even if your ending or certain scenes change, at least you had a plan to serve as a catalyst to keep you going.)

2. Remember your inspiration for telling this particular story in the first place. Revive your enthusiasm for it. If you're bored with it, everyone will most likely be as well.

3. Make a sign for your door. Are you laughing at me? I hear someone laughing. I'm not kidding! It works...at least half of the time. When I have a sign on my door, it cuts my interruptions down considerably. It also shows my family just how serious about this "writing thing" I really am. In time, when your family sees you wandering around the house aimlessly when they though you were in "lock down," they'll begin to ask you why you're not in your room or at your desk writing. Or, they'll ask how far you have gotten on that scene you were working on. It's amazing!

Side note: Our family and friends take their cues from us. Over time, what we are serious about, they will become serious about. If we treat our writing as something optional, they will treat it as optional as well. People mirror our attitudes towards our commitments to "self." If we really mean business, they will eventually get it. Actions do speak much louder than words.

4. Set a "word per day" goal, and keep it! Make sure it's something reasonable for you and your circumstances. Mine is 1,000 when I'm writing fresh (not revising or polishing). But, yours may be as little as 250, or as much as 3,000. I'm just saying that having a goal and meeting it, does something really big inside of us. It boosts our confidence, gives us a feeling of accomplishment, not to mention how quickly we will get through our initial manuscripts when we set a consistent pace for ourselves. Will we use every word that we've written? Heck no! But, we'll sure have a lot of great stuff to work with.

Look, writers write. That's what we do. No more excuses for us if we want to reach our goals. We must write, something, everyday. The more we write, the more we will keep writing. Make sense?

On another note, your thoughts and prayers for my family would be greatly appreciated. My precious Grandmother, Mam-maw to me, was given only a week to live. That was three days ago. I've been grieving my imminent loss and that is why I've not been very inspired to blog about the craft of writing. I've been taken with journaling about her instead. I'll be sure to share with you guys when everything transpires. I will be out of touch for several days when I get "the call," as we have to travel way down south, and will be there about a week or so. I've already been so touched by many of you and your well wishes for me and my family during this time. Love to you.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:









Self-explanitory.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Got Nerve?

The state of my writing: Waiting; free-writing my for my current WIP; pondering the world of article writing.

The state of my reading: The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

"You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer." - Margaret Atwood

Isn't that the truth? It takes a lot of nerve actually. Think about it. We must create something from nothing but a moment of inspiration. And then, have others believe in it as well.

It could be a conversation that we have overheard that holds the promise of a great story. Or, some stranger catches our eye and makes us wonder about the life they've led. Maybe we imagine ourselves in another place and time living a completely different life, and consider what that might have been like for us. You know what I mean? All of the "what if's?" They are infinite in their possibilities.

It's those little moments of "nothing," the "what if's," that can end up being a whole lot of something. And, then it takes even more nerve to find other individuals (agents/ editors/ publishers/ readers) who believe that we have a whole lot of "something" too.

Even now, I still am trying to find out if my imminent work of brilliance is of interest to anyone. Hellooo...any takers???? *tongue is firmly planted inside of cheek*

Extraordinary patience, perseverance, dedication, self-discipline, and resilience is what it takes for writers to even get started in the first place. And then, to finish. Those same characteristics must continue on once the query, synopsis, or manuscript is in another individual's hands. The waiting and the wondering. Ughhh, just the whole process from start to finish is enough to send writers to the "farm."

Webster's Thesaurus lists the following words to describe nerve: bravery, spirit, courage, boldness, strength, stamina, bravado, and daring.

Wow! That describes us in spades!

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:










Walking tall and brave with as much bravado as I can muster.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What do you see?

Status - *sigh* Still waiting.

Now, moving on...

"Often while reading a book one feels that the author would have preferred to paint rather than write; one can sense the pleasure he derives from describing a landscape or a person, as if he were painting what he is saying, because deep in his heart he would have preferred to use brushes and color." - Pablo Picasso

I'm somewhat of a painter myself, and I have to say that Mr. Picasso got it right, to a point. I agree with him up to the part when he said, "...because deep in his heart he would have preferred to use brushes and color." When I have finished a particularly visual scene that works beautifully (in my mind, anyway), trust me, I'm ecstatic that it's on paper and not on canvas. It's a real challenge to take people where you are in the mind, and for them to be able to "get it."

It was the author's love of story-telling, and his/her obvious strength in showing the reader what he/she (the author) was seeing in their mind's eye. The writer must have been brilliant in the use of description to impress Pablo Picasso to such a degree as to move him to speak about it. What Picasso was really experiencing was the art of "showing" not "telling." And, an art form it truly is.

We hear about it all of the time in writer's workshops, how-to books, conferences, newsletters, writer's magazines... the list goes on and on. But, sometimes, it can still be hard to wrap our head around it all. And then, when we understand it, the challenge is not to go overboard.

When I was just beginning to write, with dedication, I could get the showing part down, but then I confused it with "fluffy-stuffing." I used a lot of adjectives, and flowery prose. I had to learn balance. I had to come to the understanding that "showing" was not all about the pretty scenery or the storm clouds on the horizon. It was also about the actions and emotions of my characters as well.

I learned the difference between this:

She walked away, angry at him for what he had said to her about the other night.

And this:

She stormed back toward the house, stomping her feet as if she were a five year-old. Mumbling something indiscernible, she swung open the screened door with such force, one would have thought it was going to come off of its hinges. "Who does he think he is, saying such a thing to me about the other night?" she asked herself, hot with anger.

Or, something along those lines.

Can you see it? Can you see this girl literally throwing a hissy fit?

Now, I'm not a pro, by any means. I just know that there are a lot of writers out there who struggle in this area. There was a quote from Anton Chekov that clarified it all for me. He said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." That did it for me; I had my moment of learning.

I encourage you to look through your work and see if you can find where you've only told about your character versus showing what is going on with them. Think about how you may be able to expand the experience, and write what you see. It makes all of the difference.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:










Spitting and polishing!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Little More of "Paddy!"

Just in case you're wondering who St. Patrick really was. And, check out all of the other interesting facts about the history of this holiday.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:







The only shoes I own with green in them!
(Now if this were a jacket, accessory, or blouse "mood," that would be a different story!)

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable we have to alter it every six months." - Oscar Wilde.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blarney!

Status: (Something new I’d thought I’d add. You know, just for the heck of it.) Still waiting to hear from the agent I queried about a month ago. If she’s interested in seeing more, then I should hear within a few weeks. If not, I won’t hear a thing. Bummer.

A Happy (early) St. Patrick’s Day to all of my fellow Irish lads and lasses! As well as all of you wannabes! (You know who you are.) I hope you have a great time celebrating this special day.

blarney |ˈblärnē| (New Oxford Edition Dictionary) noun talk that aims to charm, pleasantly flatter, or persuade : he had the “street charm” of an Irish politician, but this blarney concealed his inner self. • amusing and harmless nonsense : this story is perhaps just a bit of blarney. verb ( -neys, -neyed) [ trans. ] influence or persuade (someone) using charm and pleasant flattery. ORIGIN late 18th cent.: named after Blarney, a castle near Cork in Ireland, where there is a stone said to give the gift of persuasive speech to anyone who kisses it.

Some call it "Blarney." Others, simply the gift of story-telling. I think it's a little of both. Many of us of Irish heritage who write, like to think that we have a little something "in the blood" if you will. Something genetically encoded within our being, that burns with a passion for the craft. All I know is that I have a desperate love for the art of story-telling. It's a gift.

"The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give it away." - Unknown

A dear friend told me that once. Actually, she had made me a little box that holds "truths" in it. She made it for me for my "life journey." I love it, and keep it on my desk at all times to remind me to remain true to myself. I reached for that tiny box this morning, as I have many times before. I've just grown a little weary in well doing. All of the waiting, reworking, revising, hoping, and possessing of my soul through the work of patience. All of the self-doubt that we as writers face at times. Even though we band together, and have one another, writing can still be a lonely place.

"Why do I do this?" I often ask myself, already knowing the answer to this rhetorical question. "Because I am a writer." But, why? "Because it is my gift." That truth was right on top of the stack in that tiny little box, as if it knew I needed to hear its voice this morning. It encouraged me greatly.

We know, as writers, that we have a gift. It's not something that just anybody can do. Now, I'm not saying that we're an elitist group. Absolutely not! I'm just saying that not everyone has the same gift. I can paint pretty well, but I'm no Picasso! I enjoy cooking, but it doesn't stir me inside (no pun intended). Unfortunately for my family, I can take it or leave it. Wolfgang Puck would shudder to see the state of my pantry or fridge.

If you are a writer, and if you identify with writing first and foremost as your passion, and your heartfelt desire, and as something that you see yourself doing for the rest of your life, no matter the outcome, that is your gift. If writing makes your heart sing or your heart go "pitter-patter," it's your gift. It's one of your purposes in life. (Of course, you have to be good at it as well. That's where the honing of your craft comes in. The dedication to learning the art of writing.)

If it is, then, our purpose to give our gift away, then give it away we must. We must give others the best of ourselves after first purifying our motives. Do we write to receive only? Or, do we write for the enjoyment and enrichment of others? We must think about our readers. We must be aware that they are on this journey with us. They must believe that we have them in our grasp, taking them step by step, exposing them to the elements. They are, very much, a part of what we do. In other words, we must give them the best of ourselves.

When someone closes a book after having read the last page and says, "What a story!" then, they have benefited from the author's writing. Another facet of existence has opened up for them. And, the author has gained another friend. The author has given the reader an intimate look into their heart, and a big chunk of themselves. The reader knows this, and has appreciated the gift. The gift had meaning, because the author had mastered the gift, then gave it away.

It is my desire to master my gift and then give it away. It is my hope that one day, someone will close the cover of my novel and say, "Wow!"

I wish the same for you.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:








It's been a quiet and reflective kind of morning.

"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."
- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thank you! Just thought I'd say that.


Today I was reading my daily blog list and Rachelle Gardner had posted about the "Long and Winding Road" of the publishing process. She encouraged her readers to share their writing journeys. As I began to post just a "smidgen" of mine, it occurred to me... I have gained some really fabulous writing friends along the way.

When I began this journey, six or so years ago, I was a lonely newbie in this arena. I was completely clueless as to the process. I tried so hard to find out what info I could about the industry and the craft of writing, but when you don't know what to look for, it's kinda hard to look for it. Make sense? So, I searched and searched for the unknown. I would find author sites and eventually came to the promised land of writer's forums and agent's blogs. I've since learned a lot of very hard lessons. And, was fortunate enough to gain friends who could "feel my pain."

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you all are out there, published, unpublished, aspiring, noted, poets, novelists, and what-not, who are willing to take the time and energy to invest in others. It's a wonderful thing to be there for one another, helping to lift one up when times are difficult, and celebrate personal victories when, some years and years in the making, come to fruition.

I know that not all of you comment all of the time, but, I do know you visit. And, just let me say, "Thank you." My writing life has been so enriched by your input and enthusiasm for this blog (as well as the one I had prior to this one). And, for those of you that have blogs that I follow, writers and agents, thank you for what you do. The information, encouragement, and just plain forthrightness has been priceless.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:












Baring my "sole." Tee! Hee!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't ya just love library book sales?!

OMGosh! I have to tell y'all how I made out at my neighborhood library's book sale! I bought the following books, ALL, for $16.00. No Joke! Here they are:

Hardcover:
The Iliad
War and Peace
Canterbury Tales
The Odyssey
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
Quentins by Maeve Binchy

Paperback:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Diary of Anne Frank

I had no idea that they were even having a book sale. It was our usual day to visit the library and when we got there, I couldn't find a place to park. Then, I read the sign and realized what the heck was going on. BOOK SALE!!!!! I only had $16.00 cash on me. I'm serious, had they taken debit cards, I would have had to rent a U-Haul! All of my books were in excellent condition. And, although I do already own some of them in paperback, I HAD to pick up the hardcovers. And The Shipping News is one of my FAVES! Been meaning to buy it for some time now.

This is how I act EVERY TIME that I hit a library book sale. You'll hear stuff like this from me a few times a year. Sorry! Just want to encourage everyone to BUY, BUY, BUY when they happen.

So, you may be asking me as a writer, and aspiring published author, how would I feel about people buying my book for hardly anything? Well, if readers were to buy a cheap book from anyplace, I'd prefer it be the library. It was all for a great cause. Supporting your local library supports literacy. And, when literacy wins, we all win.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:









With the right shoes and enough cash,
I could have gone ALL day!

Must Reads

  • "A Long Fatal Love Chase" by Louisa May Alcott
  • "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell
  • "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith
  • "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
  • "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier
  • "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing" by M.T. Anderson
  • "The Grace Awakening" by Charles Swindoll