On The Road to Libraries, Book Festivals, and Pain Flares

It has been a whirlwind of a month since THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM(TLCB) was published (I just need to pause a moment here, because every time I realize I’m actually a published author, I get giddy and giggle-okay I can continue now) :). I’ve spent a lot of time doing guest blog posts, sending emails to various schools, book festivals, and submitting conference proposals.

And two weeks ago we took TLCB on the road to attend the Mid-South Book Festival held in Memphis, Tennessee.magic school bus

On our way to the Mid-South Book Festival, we stopped in a little town named Ripley. My very dear friend Robin, (well she is more like a member of my family now), arranged for me to do a signing and presentation at the Lauderdale County Library. I hadn’t seen her since my mom passed away nearly two years ago. It was my first time visiting Robin in Ripley and it was a visit long overdue. The town may have been small but the southern hospitality was tremendous. Every single person was so welcoming and excited for me and my book. It was a wonderful, albeit, much too quick visit.

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The next day we headed to Memphis for the Mid-South Book Festival. Now, my mom was a huge Elvis fan. In fact, when she first discussed moving to NC, she wanted to know just how many hours away we were from Graceland! She became a fan when LOVE ME TENDER first debuted in Japan. She waited in a huge line with her Elvis shoe laces on her shoes, and then stayed all day and night to watch every single showing. So watching Elvis movies and listening to his music together were some of my fondest memories with her. But because it reminded me too much of her, I hadn’t listened to his music since she passed away.

But, knowing this, how could we be in Memphis and not visit Graceland? I had been having leg pain from the drive, and was walking slowly. However, there were many benches and the tour is not that long(Graceland is surprisingly small), so I got through it okay.img_20160921_185004944

My mom would have loved it there. I got teary eyed when I first heard one of her favorite Elvis songs, but it brought me happy memories of her singing along to it.

The next day was the Mid-South Book Festival. I participated in my first author panel(Yay!) I was extremely nervous. But I brought my entourage (my husband, my friend Robin and her daughter Katelyn) with me, so I’d have at least three people in the audience that knew me. 🙂 The three middle grade authors on the panel with me were fantastic.  The moderator asked questions that I could answer easily and sound like I knew what I was talking about. 🙂 A little over an hour later, I could relax and celebrate with an ice cream sundae. The only bummer was that my book was on backorder, so it couldn’t be sold at the festival. But it was on back order because the first printing sold out, so I can’t complain about that!

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(with Barry Wolverton,Sonia Gensler, Alice Faye Duncan)

We drove back home on Sunday, and I spent the next 11 days in my room with a pain flare up. So I’m learning the valuable lesson of pacing myself. After 15 years with RSD you’d think I would have that pacing thing down pat. But, my type A personality tried to kick in again and it is a frustrating battle that I lose most of the time. This was definitely one of those times.

But while I was stuck in bed surrounded by crispy rice treat crumbs on my comforter, I spent some time researching various venues to market THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM. Right before I left for Memphis, I found out that I won the Honor Award for the Society of  Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Book Launch Grant!! I was beyond ecstatic!celebration hooray pokemon yay

My hope is to present my mother’s story to various Japanese societies, schools, and nuclear disarmament organizations. Because of this grant I will be presenting to Peace Action Staten Island, and am working on a presentation date at the Japanese Embassy in Washington DC in the Spring! Between now and then I will be practicing my pacing skills. I’ve heard that crispy rice treats & a little chocolate really helps with that….

STATIC

Do you remember what the screen looked and sounded like when a TV station would go off for the night? Yes, I know to some it’s hard to believe there was a time without 24 hour programming or infomercials. White noise bothers some people, but others use white noise machines to relax and sleep.

In Tokyo we were dazzled by all of the bright neon lights and digital billboards. At every subway stop in Tokyo there was an equivalent to the NYC Times Square. The neon lights were not limited to the famous Ginza shopping district.

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Once we exited the subway station in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, multiple digital billboards that talk at you greeted us. At a certain time every hour, all the billboards played the same commercial in unison as a type of surround sound not found in any cinema. I found it eerie-it seemed more like an episode of DR. WHO, when people on the billboards come to life and attack (I have no idea if there is such an episode, but there should be).

shibuya stationThe displays were mesmerizing yet overwhelming at the same time. I can relate it to the emotions that have been buzzing through my thoughts lately. Sometimes, all the concerns and anxiety I have just will not stop yammering.

Some thoughts are exciting ones like: I’m less than 9 months away from the publishing date when THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM hits the shelves! That’s August 2nd for those of you who don’t want to do the math 🙂 But that leads to: how will I successfully market the book? Will I physically be able to attend conferences? Will schools want to buy the book for their classroom? And lastly, will I be able to write anything else?

Other constant chatter involves my concern with my bad pain days increasing and that each RSD flare up takes me longer to bounce back to my “normal pain level”.

The static in my head feels as if my fight or flight switch that turned on 18 months ago from various losses and changes has been on for so long it doesn’t know how to shut off. I feel like I am supposed to put out a fire but I’m running (well limping would be more like it) in circles looking for my lost bucket of water needed to douse the flames.

Sometimes to feel better, I scream, rant, and cry (not necessarily in that order). But it is not always plausible to burst into tears. For example being in the produce section at the grocery store is NOT the best time. Not that I know this for a fact or anything…okay, yeah it happened. However, I do find that if I am in the car screaming or yelling, I don’t feel embarrassed because anyone that might see me may think I have a Bluetooth or am singing a really, really angry song.

I’m still trying to figure out how I’ll deal with the first major holidays without my mom. My grief counselor and various articles I’ve read about the grief journey discussed that there is no wrong way to celebrate the holidays. Celebrate in a way that is comforting to you and what makes you feel the most grounded amidst all the changes. Interestingly enough, a YA novel I recently read has been helpful with this sentiment.

In ORCHARDS, an award-winning novel by Holly Thompson, the main character, Kana, is trying to find meaning of a classmate’s suicide. She’s sent from the U.S. to spend her summer vacation with Japanese relatives on their mikan (orange) farm on the seaside of Japan. She is only half Japanese so many of the Japanese customs aren’t followed in her American home. I could definitely relate to that 🙂

Kana, stuck in her grief, wondered if she could have helped the classmate somehow and what she can do to help her friends deal with what happened. While in Japan she celebrates the Obon Festival (a carnival like celebration usually in August, but depends on the region of Japan and celebrated for over 500 yrs.).  Loved ones are remembered  with appreciation for all they had done for their family.

The family welcomes the spirit back into their homes with a special altar, sprucing up the burial area, sharing the memories of their loved one, and a bonfire to guide their family members back to their resting place.

Because of other lessons learned while living with her Japanese relatives and partaking in the Obon Festival to honor her Grandfather she becomes ‘unstuck’. Kana discovers a way to remember the classmate, heal her own heart, and help others heal as well. It is a wonderful novel and well worth reading to find out what other steps she took on her grief journey.

The sentiment that got through my white noise was that she couldn’t control one way or another what happened to her classmate, but she could control how she chose to remember her in a meaningful, loving way. So, I am continuing to pray that I am open to whatever God (one constant amidst the changes) places in my heart to offset the static in my head.

(Sending prayers to all who are grieving for loved ones or their loss of a sense of security and peace in Paris) ❤

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UNCONDITIONALLY

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The first 3 months of 2015 have been very difficult for me.  It involved losses that led to change, and I do NOT like change (I know I can’t be alone here).  As you know, I lost my mom only 2 months ago.  I am still reeling from that especially since the sickness came on so quickly.  That meant I had no time to prepare, research, or wrap my head around the whole situation.  I could only trudge through the events that dictated my every move.

One week after my mom went to heaven, we found out my beloved Chocolate Lab, Henry (my favorite as listed in my Bio) had bone cancer.  I went from hospice for my mother to palliative care for our family dog.  Henry was more than just a furry companion.  We bought him from a local breeder in the midst of my multiple hospital admissions.  I had learned of my RSD diagnosis and was mourning the loss of what I had known as my “normal life”. During the day when my daughter was at preschool and my husband at work, I had a difficult time moving around and was lonely.   

Henry kept me company and we were nap time buddies.  Since he was a puppy he could sleep on my chest and we’d snuggle.  I could talk, yell, cry and the same loving look shone in his eyes accompanied by the wagging of his furry tail.

Henry’s comforting, huggable presence got me through the weeks I lay in bed with a pain flare after my mom passed away. (Of course, my husband and daughter did as well-but they couldn’t be there 24/7).

My Mom adored him too.  She called him a mini cow, instead of a dog.  She lovingly referred to him as her ‘Henry Boy’. Henry had amused her with the way he always offered his paw to anyone who would pet him.  We would laugh at his funny antics—he was afraid of well, everything.  He once tried to jump in the air when he heard some pans drop onto the floor.  He couldn’t quite jump off all four paws so he did this warrior type yoga pose.

We have another dog, (the one who’s antics would fill her own blog post) that always wanted to play.  But by the time we rescued her, Henry had turned 8 and wanted nothing to do with a one year old pup with endless energy.  He responded to her by hiding behind the couch.  My husband (who loved Henry), had once said, “Even when he is by himself, he is not the alpha dog.”   I hated to admit it but it was true. But Henry was exactly what I needed.

I miss hearing the ’thump, thump’ of his long fuzzy tail between the back of the sofa and the wall when we mentioned his name. I miss the way he seemed to know when my hands were burning more than usual and would lick them.  Or the way he sensed my sadness and would put his head on my lap.

I titled this post “Unconditionally”, because that word has been on my mind.  A mom will love you no matter what.  You do not have to be a ‘perfect’ child to earn her love.  There will never be someone that can replace that same hug or the loving look reflected in your mother’s eyes.

A loving pet (for me it was Henry) trusts and would do whatever it felt would please you.  Pets are always there for you- and they can’t talk back (try that with teenagers).

When writing, I am so wrapped up in my character and his/her personality that I feel a similar unconditional feeling.  I love the character I created- even if I have to make him/her the antagonist.  This probably explains why it pains us if it turns out you really need to kill your character or rewrite your story without him/her.  This also could pertain to removing a particularly flowery phrase I think is literary genius, but not essential (or at least I heard that can happen).

Each person will experience grief in their own way and time frame. One fact I have learned from my grief counselor- the perfect grieving process does not exist.  I have to admit I am still grieving and it feels horrendous.  It paralyzes me from doing other things.

I guess I am just waiting for this big hug from God saying it is okay.  You did your best.  Your loved ones are safe and they watch over you.  It is okay to look forward and enjoy things in your life.

I have faith that when I am ready to receive this, I know God, who loves us unconditionally, and has been waiting patiently, will do just that.

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A New Year Ushers in a New Reality

As some of you may have noticed, I have been very quiet on the blogging front.
My mother, as I have mentioned in my last post, has been battling a serious disease. I have gratefully spent all my time and energy helping her on this journey of her illness. On January 15th, my Mother Toshiko, went to heaven. She gave me the gift of life some number of years ago. On that January day she blessed me with the gift of her last smile.

There is a new reality I must get used to. A new reality shadowed by emptiness and a broken heart.
My mother had to quickly adapt to her new reality of hospital stays and sickness beginning the week of Thanksgiving. But as sick and exhausted as she was, she certainly was never fragile. She exuded such mental strength. She knew how she wanted to treat her disease and made sure the doctors understood as well.

She worried about the grief I would feel and how that would increase my RSD pain after she left.
Once a mother always a mother.

However, she was not just my mother. She was a walking glimpse of history that inspired me and my writing. She lost so much at the age of 12 in Hiroshima. I will always be amazed and continue to say that she never lost the ability to love; especially when it came to my daughter or to me.

Mom and Grandfather
I am grateful that she read the latest draft of THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM, and knew that it would be published.
She leaves an empty space in all of the upcoming first holidays and celebrations, but in time the cracks in my heart will fill with the memories of her love for me. I take comfort in knowing she is smiling down at my family and me, as she is reunited with hers in heaven.

If I can live my life with just half the strength and love that she lived hers, then I will truly be a success.
I miss you Mom and am so proud to be your daughter. I love you very much.

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Two Words….

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THANK YOU!

Thank you to all who supported the FIGHT THE FLAME 5k this past Sunday in Charlotte NC! Thank you to my husband, family, and friends. And of course, to my daughter and some of her cross-country teammates/parents that ran/walked or donated their money/time to help out at the race itself. You all helped raise over $17,000 (full tally not in yet) for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy awareness and funds toward researching for a cure.
My body is still recovering from the chillier than normal temperatures this past weekend, so this post is the best I can do 🙂

 

When is Enough Really Enough?

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We all have a time or two (or eight) when we wonder did we do enough? Did we do enough for a friend, for our job, or for our family?

This question plagued me most when my daughter was young and I received my diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).  As I tried to wrap my head around the reality of having RSD, my self-pity morphed into feeling sorry for my daughter.  I hated all the hospital stays which took me away from her.  How would this affect her later on?  Thoughts of what I wouldn’t be able to do for/with her made my head spin.  What would my limitations mean to her?

Shortly after my diagnosis, my daughter started preschool.  I was the only mom with a cane. I felt extremely self-conscious.  The worst feeling though was the exhaustion from the pain.  I dreaded that I wouldn’t be able to do what the other moms did. Now, I really had no idea what other moms did because this was only the first day-but did that fact stop me from worrying?  I think you know the answer to that.

My anxiety motivated me to push through painful physical therapy.  I learned to rest when she wasn’t home even if I really couldn’t stand to see the dishes in the sink or the balls of fur on the carpet (I swear my chocolate lab sheds enough fur to make 10 more labs in a month).  My energy needed to be reserved for my daughter and my husband. But being the Type- A person I am, I wondered if that still was enough.

When working on a rough draft, I want my character to desire something so badly she has to find the will to fight for it.  She needs to know or discover her strengths and how to use them.  She has to overcome her weaknesses. When an obstacle threatens to derail her and she is about to give up, I want the character to wonder did I do enough-is there more I can do?  Because of these questions, the last chapters reveal her success in obtaining what she desperately yearned to possess or that she discovered something better.  I want her question of ‘Did I do enough?’ answered with a resounding yes!

In my life I know there are certain situations where I may never know if I did enough.  But this week, when I doubted myself most, God blessed me with a glimpse of an answer to that very question.

My daughter will be running in the Second Annual Charlotte FIGHT THE FLAME 5k for RSD on November 2nd.  She set up a fundraising page on First Giving. On this site she wrote a paragraph about why she wants to run this race.  I would like to share a few sentences from her page:   “I would sometimes forget that not all moms walk with a cane or couldn’t always take their kids places or could only stay out of the house for so long, especially when the weather was cold and rainy. I thought my mom was just like any other mom…… I never knew just how much effort my mom put into just trying to seem as normal as possible. I had no idea just how strong she is. My mother is the strongest woman I know.”

If I never hear another word of praise directed at me again in my life this would be ENOUGH.

I would love to hear your moments when you caught a glimpse of the answer to your question-if you did enough.

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What are you waiting for?

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How many times have you been on hold? Sometimes it is a silent hold and you begin to wonder, did they disconnect me? Or you may be lucky enough to hear MUZAK for your listening pleasure. When (or if) they come back on the line, your eyelids have closed and you are about to let out a gentle snore.  But, have you noticed if the hold music just happens to be a song you like, it seems as if not much time has passed at all?

In this ASAP culture any amount of waiting seems to be too long. How many times have you zigzagged your mouse around thinking it would load your page faster? I have done it at least twice today. There was a comedian that did a joke about the pop tarts box. The directions, of course were to put them in a toaster. Yet, under that listed microwave directions. The big joke was who doesn’t have time to wait for a toaster?  Then again, some mornings waiting the last few minutes for the coffee to finish brewing seems like an eternity.

When I think about it, in writing a manuscript, the main character(s) spends a lot of time waiting to get to their goal. Obviously you can’t have them achieve it in the first chapter. You must develop obstacles that the main character stumbles over along the way. Their struggles move the story along-at least you hope it does.

Sometimes the inpatient waiting takes place even before you can get to writing.  You come up with this fantastic plot.  You have some inkling of your beginning, some middle scenes and a possible ending (or two). You just wish your writing fairy could zig zag your mouse and it would be finished. But that doesn’t happen.  Alas, there is no writing fairy (who knew?) and you have to go through the ups and downs of the writing process. Once you have finally completed your draft, you still  must edit, edit, edit, ad infinitum….

As hard as the waiting involved in my writing process may be, waiting for a sign of hope in my own life is so much harder.  Right now things are not the way I wish they could be for a loved one. I can see that there is an ending, but I can’t just jump to the end. I so badly want to be on the other side of this episode, but I know (especially because it has happened before) speed bumps loom around the corner and they will be painful. Only time can bring about a result and I have no way of knowing if it will help this person or not.

When I am having a pain flare up, I know that even though the pain will not completely disappear, eventually it will be a little less severe. I would love to just skip over this flare up and say ‘been there, done that’. Unfortunately, zig zagging a mouse over my leg and hands do not work (hey, it doesn’t hurt to try right?).

These flare ups can come on due to changes in barometric pressure or for no reason at all. But sometimes my flare ups come on because of the pressure I put on myself during times of exceptional stress. Because of that, I have not taken the time to let my body rest. So the flare up forces me to stop. While stuck in bed and having my mini pity party, it seems like my prayers have not been heard (the silent hold). But then I may receive a phone call from a close friend.  Or a wonderful friend stops by with a chocolate shake (my nerves may be in pain, but my taste buds aren’t)!  At that point I realize God heard my prayer after all.  He sent me these loved ones.

Sometimes the wait will bring about an outcome that is completely opposite from what I had envisioned.  Sometimes the wait will come at the most inopportune time. But,sometimes during the wait there are gifts of grace and of friendship.  And that is not a time you would want to zig zag your mouse over to get though it ASAP.

Have you had a time of waiting that gave you more than you expected?

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Sage Advice

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Pain wouldn’t be so bad, if it didn’t hurt so much. My Godfather said these words of comical wisdom (he had many) at the end of a particularly grueling physical therapy session after my initial diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).

He made me laugh when the best I could do was a grimace. Once I started laughing I could not stop until my body doubled over my walker and I had tears in my eyes. I am sure people around me thought I was losing it! But I think that the irony of laughing amidst all that pain just set something off in my head.

I am very competitive and since I was lousy at sports (yup, I was the one always picked last for gym class—but I’m not bitter…maybe a little), I focused on academics. That competitive part of me kept climbing higher on the corporate ladder and just when I was about to reach the top, RSD cut the rungs out beneath me.

I am a type-A person, and a planner(shocking, I know). Despite those qualities, I still had no idea that the blood clot and RSD were headed my way. RSD reminded me that I, alone can not control what happens in my life. But being the control freak that I am, RSD wreaked havoc in my head. I feared RSD because I had nothing in my arsenal to fight it.

But I did have people in my life that could help me, (in addition to my husband and daughter, of course). My Godfather was one of those people. He had his first heart attack resulting in a quadruple bypass at 40 years old. He had two more heart attacks, a bypass, and a defibrillator implanted before he turned 60. However, he would find a way to make a joke and to make others smile, even while lying in a hospital bed with oxygen and a myriad of tubes sticking out of his body. It made him happy to make us laugh. He knew pain and he hated seeing others in pain.

Whenever I asked how he felt, his standard reply was, “Well, I woke up this morning and I am still cute-so pretty good.” (Makes a pretty good first item to check off on a to-do list don’t ya think?)

I planned to continue smiling even on bad pain days.  I learned some jokes. And, much to my family’s chagrin, I am a terrible joke teller. I end up either forgetting the middle or saying the punchline wrong (and I found that even my 4-year-old could only put up with so many knock-knock jokes at one time).

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I discovered that a smile could mask my difficulty with accepting RSD as part of my life. I did not want to talk about it initially. I worried that people would think I lacked faith because I could not deal with this 180 degree turn in my life. I thought up alternate stories to tell people when they asked what happened, like I was skiing in the Alps and hit a tree on a black diamond slope.  There were so many things wrong with that story – least of all that the closest I’ve been to Switzerland is drinking a brand of cocoa!  No one I knew would believe that I went skiing-but strangers might.

When I shared this with my Godfather, he chuckled at first. But then his demeanor turned serious and he told me not to hide what I had. “Ignoring this part of you would be like saying you didn’t really exist anymore because of RSD. You can’t let RSD become you; instead it should be a part of you.”  He told me that after his first heart attack, he pictured himself as a ticking time bomb. One day it dawned on him that he was not living his life. He decided to enjoy whatever time he would be blessed with.

It is 13 years after that conversation. I do try to smile through the pain because it is always there, just in varying degrees. I truly feel like smiling when I am with my friends and family, and a side bonus is that I can forget my pain for a little while. I still can’t tell a joke for beans and now just slightly over 40–remembering the punchline is even more difficult.

I love writing.  It takes me to a different place and my characters can do things I cannot physically do. I become caught up in the story or caught up in how the characters are evolving. Even when I am trying to work through holes in my plot and it seems like it will never come together, I am still focusing on something other than my pain.

Please know that some days, like today, the pain flare ups still get to me. I still have my pity parties (you know-they are like a tea party but with tissues, instead of teacups and rice crispy marshmallow treats, instead of cucumber sandwiches). But my Godfather’s advice has helped to minimize the length of my partying.-

As for what I tell people when they ask about my cane-I still struggle with discussing it(everybody has to have some hang up, right?), so I try to refocus their eyes by wearing cute shoes. It usually does the trick.

The man who helped me through all this with his sage advice and comical wisdom passed away in January leaving a large hole in my heart.

And yes, Roger, pain wouldn’t be so bad if my heart didn’t hurt so much.

Please share who gave you sage advice or comical wisdom?

 

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TOP 5 TO-DO LIST ITEMS

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     Has anyone else ever gone to the store and realized you left your list on the fridge, but think you remember what you need, only to return home and find out that you bought everything except the one thing on your list that you really needed? That one thing is usually something like, say, toilet paper? Please tell me I am not alone here.

     I rely on my lists. My obsession with lists almost matches my obsession with research. Sticky notes are my best friends! I was so excited to find that I could have post its on my desktop so now my home screen looks like a patch work quilt of reminders.

     When I worked on my rough draft of THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM, and as I work on what I am writing now, I make to do lists from my character’s point of view. What would be the character’s top five things to get done in a day? It helps me to flesh out their personalities.

     I have always made lists, but making a list took on greater meaning to me shortly after my RSD diagnosis. I struggled to accept that pain now intruded on every hour of my day. I had to give up the career I worked so hard to obtain and worse- I could not be the active, involved mom or wife I once was. I sank into a depression.

     During this time, my doctor suggested that I make a list of things I wanted or needed to do each day.  I would get to check the item off with a feeling of accomplishment. Focus on what I could still do and not what I lost. Easier said than done, but I am a people pleaser (you had to see that coming didn’t you?), so I started on my list:

– wake up ( I might as well be sure there is always one thing I can accomplish immediately…and if I don’t get to check it off-it  won’t matter anymore anyway…)
– get my daughter ready for school (remember she was 4 at the time)
– make a grocery list (yes, I wanted to remember to make another list…)
– iron (who created a school’s jumper with so many darn pleats anyway?)

       The list went on with several more items. As you can imagine, there was no way I could accomplish over 20 items(yes 20) that I put on that list and the anxiety it caused only made my pain worse. I failed at making a list-where does one go after that??

        A very good friend suggested I limit the list to 5 things—genius! But her best advice– I needed to realize that the listed items would not define me as a good person/mom/wife/daughter. If I couldn’t get to all five, just move it to the next day. This Type A personality had a tough time accepting this sudden shift in my life that RSD delivered.

        However, after spending much time praying for strength, I wrote my new list:

 – wake up (Easy and still my best way to start the list)
– spend time with my family
– iron (or throw in dryer with wet towel and remove immediately)
– rest (another easy one, I had no choice)
– write

   That first year I had to accept my life had changed. I also found out that I hated change more than I thought I did(and I thought I hated it a lot). I have good pain days where I can push through most of it and manage to do an additional couple items not on that list. There continue to be bad pain days when wake up is the only item checked off on my list.

     To do lists are necessary for most of us over the age of say 9, but we have to resist the urge to focus only on the tasks to get done.  If we make ourselves so stressed about the tasks ahead, we might forget to enjoy the day we are Blessed with before the To-Do list even gets started. We can always shift a task to another day. Oddly enough my task of ironing still gets placed on the list for the next day, then the next day……

     What are your top 5 items on a To-Do list?  Please share below.

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1-2-3 GO!

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Do you remember hearing this before a band-aid was pulled off when you were a child?  Well I am not so young, but I feel it applies for me today.  I have wanted to write a blog for some time.  My first excuse was that I did not know how to set one up.  My wonderful friend from Society Children Book Writers and Illustrators of the Carolinas (SCBWI Carolinas), Joan Edwards, came over one day and helped me with that roadblock.  Thank you, Joan!

However, after she left I kept staring at the blinking cursor seeing nothing but a blank page and hearing only cricket noise.  I wanted to write something meaningful, something that would make people want to come back to read week after week. I assumed that meant perfection.  So I did what I do best and began to research on how to write your first blog-I have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) tendencies when it comes to research for my writing, craft ideas, looking for ways to stop procrastinating by doing too much research, etc.  You don’t even want to know how long I searched for the band-aid image!

Finally, I decided it is best to just go and write it.   And like ripping off the band-aid, I will rip off my defenses and open myself up to the readers.

I chose Creating Through the Pain, as my blog’s name because it describes the last 13 years of my life.  I had a teeny little blood clot that morphed into Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), a chronic neurological pain disease that started in my left leg and has spread now to the right foot and both hands.  As a result, I had to switch from my corporate to my more creative side.  Eventually this led to my family making a geographical move we never thought we would.  Please understand that not every unexpected event led me happily to a change.  Actually most of them had me kicking and screaming because there was pain (physical and emotionally) and no immediate payoff was in sight for quite a while.  I had no way to prepare or research the options on which path would be better—did I mention I was OCD about research?  However, I can look back on the last 13 years and though it is not the path I ever thought I would take, I am happy where I am at this moment-that could change tomorrow or even the next hour but for now it is good.

All of our circumstances are not the same, but hopefully you and I can share how we each nurture our creative side and push through life’s unexpected twists and turns along the way. So here I go, 1-2-3 -POST!

I would love to hear from you!   Please share your unexpected event that led you down the path to creativity.