A Chill is in the Air

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Autumn brings both beauty and brisk weather. All the golden hues of leaves are about to burst out into view where I live. I took a nice brisk walk today in the area where my child goes to school. The decision to park across from the school and wait until he would be dismissed on this half day was made after he realized he’d left his phone at home and the privileged parking lot his school has provided for parents, like me, to park in was filled with cars from a movie crew this morning. So, I parked the car, and decided to walk around and explore the area around his new school. Up until this point, I’d only ventured out to the Dunkin Donuts franchise about three blocks away. Today, I was going to take a much longer walk. Google Maps provided me with directions to my destination. It was only 0.6 miles away. I could get there, shop, and be back at the car by the time my child was dismissed from school. So, off I went into the great unknown.

The first few minutes of walking were a breeze, however, after going a little further I noticed I was walking uphill. Now, I had not done this kind of walking for quite some time. So this was beginning to be a daunting task. “Should I turn back?”I asked myself. “Of course not!” I answered reluctantly. So, I persevered and reached my destination. While browsing around the store for bargains, I pondered in the back of my mind, “How am I going to make it back?”

Well, one thing I could do to make my trek back to the car easier would be to make fewer purchases. Or I could purchase only lightweight things making it easier for me to carry things on my walk back. Either way, the walk back would be somewhat easier because I’d be going downhill this time. Everyone knows downhill is easier than uphill, right? Well, that would remain to be seen.

As I left the store with two bags in each hand, I thought about how great I’d feel about having walked a little more than a mile today at the end of my journey. Heck, in my twenties I’d walk two miles a day just going to and from work on foot. Back then I didn’t have a license nor a car and I hated to ride on public transportation. So, I’d walk to work everyday: winter, spring, summer, and fall. I digress. The wind kissed my face softly and more intensely at times as I walked at a moderate speed downhill passing few people on this blustery day. Discovering businesses in this neighborhood I never knew existed, and imagining the bags were like dumbbells, I’d lift them up and down while waiting for a chance to cross the street at each corner. “What a workout?” I thought as I approached the car.

After putting my bags in the trunk, I eagerly sat inside my car thinking, “What an achievement!” I must do this again someday soon.

How are you spending your autumn days? I hope you’re getting out and about. It’s nice to feel the wind on your face once in a while. Remember retirement means doing things you didn’t have time to do while you were working. Here’s to hoping your autumn days are happy ones! As always you can reach out and share your thoughts about my podcast on any of my social media platforms. Talk to you later. Peace!

This is the script I wrote today for my podcast. I’m posting it hear for anyone who reads my blog and wonders what my podcast may be like.

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Summer Reading Kickoff 2019

Taylor and I at the Summer Reading Kickoff 2019

The summer Reading Kickoff 2019 was an awesome experience. I met so many interesting people at the Saratoga Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. The children and their parents from the community made me feel right at home. In addition, the staff was welcoming and helpful to boot. They had so many wonderful activities for the children to engage in at this event.

Saniyah and I posed together for pictures.

Reading my book to the children at my childhood library was a dream come true. I feel like I’ve come full circle in my life now in more ways than one. Just seeing the smiles on the children’s faces makes me very happy. They colored coloring pages of my book’s main character and engaged in conversation with me about my book. It was an unforgettable day!

These two beautiful sisters had their faces painted and also visited me with their mom.
We had lots of fun at my very first author event.
Thanks to Mr. Herbert for allowing me to participate in this event!

Mr. Herbert gave me this incredible opportunity to share my work in the community where I grew up. I am forever thankful to him for his kindness. I would also like to thank Ms. Pace who organized the event along with Mr. Herbert and Ms. Monica Williams who is the manager of the Saratoga Branch of the Public Library. They are all serving this community very well. Keep up the good work!

Author Event

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Well, I did it. They confirmed me to be a part of the Summer Reading kickoff at my childhood library. Going into the library to get information and volunteer my time has led to my first event as a published author. I’m so excited. My family and friends and former students are all coming to support me.

Reading to the children, giving away a book, and signing a book for one lucky visitor will be my pleasure. It feels good to give back to the community I grew up in. Retiring allowed me to be more generous with my time. Before I didn’t have the energy to volunteer after working a full day at school, grading papers after work, calling parents, cooking dinner, and helping my child with homework. Now my child will assist me at this event. See how the tables turn? We are both venturing into new waters together and it feels great!

Podcasting

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I haven’t been blogging for a few days because I am working on building my social media presence and working on my podcast. It’s been fun, but it’s also been a lot of work. I am a newbie to social media, so I had to learn how to set it up and how to post pictures, text, and hashtags. Then I decided I wanted to try creating a podcast about the process of retirement and the challenges we face when completing the paperwork, and choices we make to fill our time after retirement.

I didn’t realize how much I’d love creating a podcast. It’s similar having your own radio station. Only you get to choose your content, your audience, your guests, and your schedule. I can podcast from anywhere at anytime and I don’t have to dress up either. I can wear jeans and a tee shirt if I want to. Podcasting is a very comfortable medium for me.

There are a few skills you have to learn to become good a podcasting, though. Like, you need to learn the proper distance to sit away from the mic. You must also learn how to edit your audio and add musical transitions at different points in your show. If you do interviews, you must send links and schedule your guests for the call in interviews. All of this is very exciting. It’s more like play than work.

My podcast is in its infancy. However, you can listen in and monitor my growth. I call the podcast Tee’s Talk Time and it’s available on quite a few platforms. I’ll list the links below. I’ve only done two episodes so far. Wish me luck!

Check out my podcast, Tee’s Talk Time, on Anchor! https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fanchor.fm%2Fteresa-smith8&data=02%7C01%7C%7C70f027055bb7407f475208d6cf71c7c8%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636924484914714134&sdata=QjAexcxUEogexqPJRCf4GIZFqbTIzAPPMevW%2BjBjERE%3D&reserved=0

Check out my podcast, Tee’s Talk Time, on Spotify! https://open.spotify.com/show/6dsjnWlnowJPEUfydpLE4T

Check out my podcast, Tee’s Talk Time, on Breaker! https://www.breaker.audio/tees-talk-time

Check out my podcast, Tee’s Talk Time, on PocketCasts! https://pca.st/6esL

Check out my podcast, Tee’s Talk Time, on RadioPublic! https://radiopublic.com/tees-talk-time-GEBZ1v

Check out my podcast, Tee’s Talk Time, on Stitcher! https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/anchor-podcasts/tees-talk-time

Lights, Camera, Action

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Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting the set of a local talk show. I was so excited! Let me backtrack and rewind here for a minute though. At the end of 2018, a cousin introduced me to a friend of hers who is a local talk show host. My cousin asked her to drop me home after the event we were attending. On the ride home, I found that she and I had a lot in common. We’re former affiliates of the Department of Education, living in the same borough, and retired but not done dreaming. So we traded numbers and promised to keep in touch.


Fast forward to a month or two later, she asked me to be a Production Coordinator for her local television show. I was hesitant to sign on, thinking I knew nothing about this industry. I truly didn’t think I was qualified. Besides, I was enjoying my free time. When she explained how easy it would be, I thought I’d try it out. This later led to an invitation to the studio. She asked me to fill in for another of her employees last night. Basically, I would sign guests in, give them a meal ticket, take pictures of the host and guests. I was so excited! I arrived early, received my instructions, and waited to work. It seemed easy enough, right?


Well, it was much harder than I thought. The first guest arrived, and the energy went from zero to one-hundred fast. It shocked me to find out how much work it takes to put on a production. However, it was a real learning experience. I have a newfound respect for people who work in the entertainment industry. I also know it’s not for me. So I’ll just chalk this up to being another retired adventure. I’ll stick to being a retired teacher and children’s book author for now. 

Eagerly Awaiting!

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I ordered the proof of the second edition of my first children’s book on Friday. Later, I received an email stating it will arrive on Monday, which is tomorrow. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands and leaf through its pages. There are great feelings of enjoyment and empowerment when holding your own book in your hands. When you create something, you feel more deeply for it. I’m just hoping I won’t have to redo the illustrations, but I’ve been working on sharpening my sketching skills just in case I need to.

Illustrating a children’s book can be difficult work, because you need to study the anatomy of the animal or people you intend to draw. You also need to capture each character’s expressions based on their emotions at a particular point in a story. Then you must decide how many illustrations to include in your book. You don’t want to make the book too long depending on the age range of your audience, so you are constantly counting and limiting everything in the book.

Finally, you must decide between using color illustrations or black and white illustrations. Color illustrations cost more to print, so your book price may be higher. The younger the reading audience is, the more they rely on pictures to comprehend the story, so illustrations become very important when doing this kind of book. So do I revamp all the illustrations, add more illustrations, or just leave the illustrations as they were? Seeing the proof will help me answer that question.

Below are some YouTube videos about illustrating children’s books:

This guy shows how difficult it is to illustrate a children’s book. He is quite talented!
Some people hire illustrators like this one, however, it can be very costly to hire a professional illustrator.

So You Want to Self-Publish a Book!

My first book was self-published on Createspace years ago. As of 2019, Createspace has merged with Kindle Direct Publishing. So I’ll revisit my first manuscript today and make a decision about whether or not I want to pay for editing, formatting, and a new privately owned ISBN number. I want to take my book to the next level this time. So it’s time to take the book out of the attic so to speak, dust it off, and make it ready for resale.

For those of you out there who are considering following suit, that is you are trying to publish a book through a free source you can watch the video below for a few tips.

Here’s to happy writing! I’ll be back with updates on how far I’ve gone in the process soon. Until then keep writing!

What’s Next?

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I was on a natural high after my mother’s event, but what was I going to do next? Well, I’d self-published a book a few month’s after my father passed away, however, I’d kept the release of the book pretty secretive and low key. I was a bit afraid of the criticism I might get from people who knew me directly. So I only disclosed this venture to a few of my closest friends and family members. My mom wanted to take a truckload of the books no matter what their condition to sell at a family reunion she was attending that May. You know how mothers are. Anything that their children create is considered a masterpiece no matter what other people think of it. Well, I was able to convince her not to take the books with her. I said I don’t think my book is ready to be released to a large audience yet. I just want to do a trial run on Amazon for now.” As you can imagine my book didn’t sell well. However, I didn’t take it personally. I was just beginning to focus on an old passion I’d had since my childhood. In addition, after losing my dad I just felt like giving birth to something. I knew I wasn’t going to have another child at that age, so why not give birth to a book. I digress.

So one of the things I intend to do now is really working on my writing. I want to rerelease my first book and also publish my second children’s book this year. Writing this blog will also help me to improve my writing by actually writing almost every day. I’m also planning to build a bigger network, audience, and readership so my coming publishing endeavors will be more impactful. I want to encourage people who are beginning new chapters in their lives like me to pursue their passions. Pun intended for the use of the word chapters.

Bumps in the Road

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Well, the RSVPs were rolling in quickly and everyone seemed excited about attending my mother’s 80th birthday celebration. I was so thrilled with how the planning was going. Then things started to take a few turns for the worse. My order for the first set of favors had to be canceled due to the company stating they didn’t have any more of the favors I’d ordered in stock after I’d paid in full. The favor company then wanted me to choose a different favor altogether when I had my heart set on getting the color, design, and style of the favor I’d originally chosen. So I had to have my credit card company fight to get the money back from that company while I frantically searched the internet to find a similar favor to order from another company. Luckily the turn around time on that glitch was quick.

The next bump in the road came when my mother’s first cousin became very ill and could not travel to our town to attend the event. He was one of the key speakers listed on the programs that I’d already designed and printed. So I had to become a speaker in his place on my mother’s birthday. Little did I know that there would be more bridges to cross on the road to planning such a meaningful and deserving event for my mom.

Do you remember the dance to My Girl by the Temptations that I mentioned a few days ago? Well, that became the next problem to be dealt with. You see my vision was to have my nephews, each of my sister’s husbands, and my son to perform a dance to the song for my mother on her special day. There was a dress code agreed upon and a rehearsal schedule created to be followed by everyone. However, most of the parties involved could not find time in their schedules to meet together at my house for rehearsal each week. So a few weeks before the event only my son and myself had the dance routine remembered. In an attempt to salvage the performance and have it still be an all-male dance group I asked an old friend of the family to step in because he could come to rehearse more often. However, even he could not remember all aspects of the choreography. So I decided that my son and I would perform the dance for my mother as a duo.

Do you think I would let any of those obstacles stop me from accomplishing this goal of planning and celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday in a major way? Well, you don’t know me too well if your answer is yes. I don’t just walk around obstacles in life, I soar over them always landing on the wings of angels. One cousin from Maryland, another cousin from Philidelphia, my oldest sister and myself all spoke at the event. My son and I performed the dance we’d rehearsed, and I sang a solo to my mother, my angel, on that special day. The ambiance, the food, the favors, the video montage, the dancing, the conversation, and most importantly the memories made that day will never be forgotten by those who attended the event I am most proud of planning: My mother’s 80th birthday celebration. The memory of her smiling the entire day while dressed to the nines and being surrounded by loved ones as we all danced and celebrated her life will always be with me. She will be 81 years young this spring.

The Main Event

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I decided to throw my mother an 80th birthday celebration at an exclusive venue in the spring of 2018. It was indeed a labor of love and the icing on the cake, pun intended, was I could integrate all of my talents and creativity into planning the event. The site was available on her actual birth date, so everything was just coming together perfectly. I designed and printed the invitations on card stock paper and mailed them all way in advance to be sure each guest had an extra long time to RSVP. I ordered some of the favors in advance and created the rest on my own. The color scheme for everything was a bright pink and white. I also designed and printed the programs for the event. All of my creative juices were flowing. I secretly downloaded a music track in order to rehearse my surprise singing performance, too. My son and I rehearsed a dance to My Girl by the Temptations religiously every day. I could imagine him saying, ” I don’t know what I’ll do if I hear mom sing The Best Thing That Ever Happened by Gladys Knight one more time.”

I also created a video montage set to music to be played during her birthday celebration. The video contained pictures of my mom throughout her lifetime. It also included pictures of her with my dad who passed away some years ago, and other pictures with my siblings, the grandchildren, other family members, myself, and close friends. I spent days selecting these pictures and I spent days deciding which music would play in the background of the video. Everything had to be just perfect for my mom. Could I really pull this off? What do you think? Were there any bumps in the road?