Monday, June 18, 2012

Life is good...a rambling post

There. I said it. Life is ridiculously crazy wonderful.

And guess what?

It’s not just because AMAZING writerly things are happening to me. In fact, I like to think that amazing things are happening to me because I am truly grateful and happy with my life and I have been for a while. I have been married for over 25 years. For many of those 25 years, my husband and I didn’t have time for each other. He took a kid to the soccer game. I took another to basketball. He worked overtime. I went to a teacher's meeting. Even during open house at the kids' school, he met one teacher, while I met another. Our honeymoon was a weekend trip a few miles away. We spent a weekend at Laguna Beach for our 20th anniversary. So, the moment I realized I was making some money writing, I planned a five night trip to Hawaii, just the two of us. Not too long after, I bought our tickets, Amazon invited me to New York to speak at the BEA. So my husband came with me and our vacation was extended. Hawaii and then New York for wine and cheese, cocktails on rooftops, and dinners out. My head is still spinning. So much happening so fast!


Theresa, Sally, and Cathy on Abbey Road
I always feel sort of bad IF I’m the only happy one in the crowd. But screw it. I’m happy and proud of it. It’s not easy to be happy. Even before I sold one book on Amazon, I had decided that enough was enough. Yeah, like many of you, I had some pretty crappy things happen to me when I was growing up. Things I don’t want to talk about. Maybe not ever. Also, like many couples do, my parents divorced. Suddenly my mom had five girls to look after and she'd never held a job…well, maybe during high school. We sold our house on top of the hill, moved to the haunted house down the street, and ate beans. I was paying for my own dentist bills at the age of 14 and I had to get a work permit from high school so I could leave school to waitress. It took years for me to realize that I learned my greatest lessons from the tough times. For instance, I learned forgiveness. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you forget what they did. It just means you choose not to be angry and bitter about it all.


911 Memorial
And obviously...every day is not a stroll through the park. Sure, I still get annoyed at times. But it doesn’t happen often and any agitated feelings are like a blip on a radar screen. Road rage has completely left me. If someone is flipping me off or cursing me from another car, I don’t know it because I keep my eyes on the road. Back in the old days, if someone cut me off I tailed them for a mile or two, making sure they knew I didn’t like what they did. Stupid. I wasted too many precious minutes being angry at drivers who probably had no idea I was angry. My kids have many stories about those days, which is sad. If I could do it all over again, things would be different. My attitude would be different. 

BUT even amidst the bad days, there was always good. I always had my mom and my sisters. All four of my sisters have always been encouraging and supportive. My sister, Cathy, loves to travel and has taken me on many amazing trips. During the two decades when I was writing but not selling, she was reading all of my books, too. She told me to keep writing. She couldn’t understand why I wasn’t selling and my not selling seemed to frustrate her more than it did me. She's read every book I've ever written dozens of times. She combines characters and cuts others completely. She can get a little crazy with her red pen. It took me years to be able to take her criticism without feeling crushed. She has made me uncrushable. Cathy and I love reading self-help books. She follows the books to a tee and I take the stuff I like and leave the rest. She says tomato, I say…you get where I’m going. We are opposites in many ways. She’s way nicer than me. Way nicer than most everyone. She has one kidney and that one kidney produces kidney stones, which worries me because I can’t imagine a life without Cathy in it. Anyhow, one of the self-help books we read talked a lot about affirmation cards. You write down something you want to happen on an index card and carry it with you until it comes true. Cathy always keeps three cards in her purse. She won’t show anyone her cards. If a card produces results, she puts that card away and writes a new one. A few months ago, she gave me a card she had written and carried around for years. If you look at the picture you can see that she wrote the original index card in 2008. That was when I was a double finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest. Maybe she felt enough was enough. Time for a card! Anyhow you can see that she changed the year 2008 to 2009 and then she just wrote 2010 over and over and then 2011 and then she really messed with the affirmation card gods when she started scribbling words like “power” and "strength" and "positive" and exclamation points!!! The card had no choice but to work. A few months ago, Cathy gave me the card. I’m going to frame it. I don’t know if I could have continued to write without Cathy pushing me onward with her never-ending support and encouragement.


Being positive and finding the good in most things is easy for me now, but it took practice. I didn’t know learning to be positive, learning to see all the beauty right there in front of me, would take practice. But I know it now. I get it. I’m done complaining. Yeah, not publishing for 19 years was getting old, but a few years before I sold a book, I knew my time would come. I didn’t know when or how, but I knew I wasn’t going to give up until my books were read by complete strangers. Now that my books are being read, it’s just too darn amazing for words. Every single sale is amazing. The Taleist did a survey recently and I believe it showed that most indie authors surveyed average $10,000 a year. Half of those surveyed made $500 a year. For two decades I didn’t make a dime so $500 a year for those 20 years sounds pretty good to me. My favorite part of the survey is that 95% of those surveyed consider themselves to be a success. How cool is that? That’s all that really matters. The meaning of success is different to all, but to me success is being able to look in the mirror and like who you see.

And another thing…I don’t know about you, but every day I read about someone with failing health or worse. All of those clichés that people are tired of hearing are clichés for a reason. LIFE IS SHORT. It’s true. Don’t waste another moment worrying about sales. WRITE. Write better than ever. Focus on the writing and the characters and you just might be the author with the next bestseller.

It could be you. Believe it!

Jared's welcoming party in south sudan
And while you’re at it, practice being aware and grateful for all you DO have. I am grateful every day to have water to drink. I like having access to drinkable water. I can’t imagine living in a country where water isn’t readily available. My nephew is in South Sudan. He’s there helping others because he wants to be there. He’s an amazing human being. All of my nephews and nieces are, but I’m talking about Jared now because I find myself often wondering if Jared has enough water. Where he is living, local court is held under a shade tree. A young boy and girl were doing “things” in a hut and they got caught. Court was held beneath the shade tree and the boy’s family now has to give a cow to the girl’s family. Case settled. Sounds a little steep if you ask me. I asked my nephew in an email if there were lakes and rivers and this is what he wrote back: “No rivers or lakes around here. Hence this is where we are to respond to emergencies from chronic drought and the like. And all the animals are long gone. There's been war in these parts for 30 some odd years so they were all smart enough to run far far away. Just lots of lizards, scorpions, snakes, eagles, vultures, and bats.”  Reading this makes me thirsty.

A few days ago I read a post written by Gordon Kirkland at the WG2E. I don’t know Gordon, but I’m sure thinking about him today. Maybe that's why I decided to write this post. His health isn’t so great and so he’s not going to be writing for a while. He needs a new liver. Livers are not easy to come by, but I sure hope he gets one soon. I don’t want to have to read stories like Gordon’s in order to remember to be grateful. If you have good health, be grateful for it. If you have arms and legs and good sight, be grateful. If you have a roof over your head or wonderful sisters, be grateful.

Sorry for rambling on--a rambling post with random pictures. I really just wanted to say that life is good and this water tastes great!  

32 comments:

Emily Greenwood said...

What a great post, Theresa! I've always admired your positive energy and have delighted in the success of your charming stories. So fun to read about your trip to BEA in NYC, and Hawaii too!

Theresa Ragan said...

Thank you so much, Emily!

D. D. Scott said...

Just a brilliant post, my friend! And I sooo hear ya on how Gordon's post on WG2E was a real touch on the heart!!!

It is all about finding and living your own happiness! And I luuuvvv that with our books and paying it forward spirits, we're helping others do the same.

U rock, my friend!

And I'm thrilled our stars have aligned!!!

Rita Garcia said...

I so needed this encouragement and inspiration! Thank you for sharing from your heart.

Geraldine said...

I just saw your video via the CreateSpace newsletter. Just what I needed to read this week. I am one of those discouraged, frustrated writers...it's so easy to feel it's all hopeless and out of reach. You are living proof that it does pay (in more ways than one) to believe in ourselves and not to give up or let the nay-sayers get us down either.

My sincere congratulations on your accomplishments to date Theresa. You have a LOT to be proud of. I'm looking forward to reading some of your books very soon. And I'm getting back to my own novel and finishing it before the end of July. I'm making a promise to myself today and you helped. Thanks so much.

Hugs from BC Canada, G

Theresa Ragan said...

Hi D.D., you are absolutely right. It's about each one of us finding our own happiness. Being grateful and paying it forward is a great way to start.

Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Rita, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate it!

Theresa Ragan said...

Thanks, Geraldine. I love your comment! Finish that book! I can feel your excitement and I'm excited for you. Hugging you back,

Theresa

Geraldine said...

Thanks for the encouragement Theresa. Yes, I AM going to finish my novel! And soon. I'm taking a break from blogging for July and concentrating on completing my novel.

Thanks for the update too. I'm looking forward to reading your novels.

Happy Weekend, G :<)

Jeff Faria said...

"There. I said it. Life is ridiculously crazy wonderful."

Hey. That's what I came to hear!

Theresa Ragan said...

You're awesome, Jeff!

Juliette Sobanet said...

Theresa, what a wonderful post! You are truly an inspiration, and your words made me remember how grateful I am for everything in my life. Thank you!

Theresa Ragan said...

Thanks, Juliette!

Sara Lisa said...

Oh my goodness!This is amazing and so inspiring!I totally appreciate all of the work that went into this post! Interesting Forwards

Ysabelle Flinch said...

Good going! I am also currently enjoying all the good things life can offer. Cocktails on rooftops are amazing moments especially during those times you gaze on the sky or give yourself a temporary thrill by reaching the roof access ladders. Great post!

annalee kolb said...

How I wish I could also visit the abbey next summer so you better wait for me. Actually last time we spend our summer in one of the snowmass real estate properties cause my aunt lives there it's really nice and the air is fresher there too.

Sean Rasmussen said...

Loved your post. Most bloggers would post a more "promotional" type of article but seeing a more personal one makes it more worthwhile skimming the internet for new stories set by fellow bloggers.:)

Oliver Carrian said...

I love Hawaii and everything about it. I have heard of Hawaii as a great surfing destination during my time with surf school australia. Since then, I pledged that I will ride the waves there. I did and I loved it.

bella bell said...

After my honeymoon safari for summer, I would love to visit England in the fall. Would like see the lanes where the Beatles made it a landmark. Then there is the Abbey Palace to see.

Sophie Tyler Neil said...

Always see the world in a positive light. Be always thankful of what you have. The last best thing that happened to our family is the boracay package that was given to us and my family was thankful for that.

Sarah Gaugler said...

I find life pleasant and good when I travel. I am currently staying over at the comfort inn luton. Life has been good to me to let me travel first class.

Andelka Bucklie said...

I paid for my invisalign Perth when I was 18 yrs old. It is really expensive but I tried not to ask for help from my parents because they are paying a lot of bills for our house. You are great because you are independent since you were in high school.

Eve Banks said...

When I read this post, I said to myself that I will have a more positive outlook in life. I started to quit smoking and switched to cartomizers as my first step. I have a family so having a healthier lifestyle to live longer is my priority. This is for my children, to be able to guide them as they grow.

Theresa Ragan said...

Thanks to all of you who leave comments. I read every single one and you all make me smile. Thanks for that!

Eve, I sooo think you can quit smoking and I am proud of you for even trying! My mom still smokes and me and her other daughters would have LOVED it if she had quit smoking...not just for us but for herself, too. We do realize its something she has to want for herself. Good luck!

And keep the comments coming, everyone! Love hearing what you're grateful for!

Virginia T. Petree said...

It was a lovely read. With such an open and light hearted perspective, a marriage seems ever blissful and it grows stronger in time.

Joe Anderson said...

Nothing beats the quality time with family, that's what I enjoy the most during vacation periods. Me with my family traveling together , enjoying each and every single view as we visit and passes through it. The closeness and bond is there, I must say.

Joy N. Franklin said...

With travel, we see the good part of life. It is one of essence of life is seeing the world that raises our spirit. Places like iconic ones are a privilege to see.

Rodney Saunders said...

I remember taking our own picture on Abbey Road when my friends and I are on road trip. This has been possible because my friend got his very first car due to an approved loan.

Jane Sanders said...

Hi there Theresa! I've read your post and I suddenly have this urge to have more traveling plans with my family. I mean, life is short and I should enjoy each and every single time of it with the person I love. Thanks for making me realize this Theresa! I hope to read more about you travels and expeditions!

Theresa Ragan said...

Everyone's comments make me so happy. Jane, I hope you do travel more and get to spend time with those you love! I will be hiking this year in the rockies with two of my sisters in July. I will report back then!

Flats for sale in hitech city said...

Wonderful information, I had come to know about your blog from my friend nandu , hyderabad,i have read at least 7 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your website gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a ton once again, Regards,

Asep Suryana said...

That is such a cool idea! Thanks for sharing, You have inspired many people to look at and read this blog.
Your opinion this blog:
Budidaya kroto Cara Menanam Cabe