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.
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!
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!