An Author’s Journey

When I reexamine my life’s journey, I realize that my path to becoming an author and illustrator began in my childhood. I’ve always been a very imaginative person. In fact, on the elementary school level I was given a book by my school as a creative writing award. The title of that book was The Planet of Junior Brown by Virginia Hamilton. The funny thing about that is I never read the book as I grew up, but I remember constantly reading the inscription to me placed inside the front cover. I also always remembered the cover of the book as well. The words were so powerful to me. I had been given the book because I was a good writer. That thought resonated with me.

Earlier this year, I borrowed the book from the public library online. What a story! It moved me to tears at times. Everyone should read that book. The message is as powerful today as it was when it was written. No spoiler alert here, but the concept of homelessness is a major part of the plot. I digress.

In my preteen years, I was reminded that I was a pretty good artist too. I attended a gifted school on the intermediate level, and I decided to take a specialized school test to get into a high school where artistic ability was a must. I remember drawing a beautiful bird. As you probably guessed, I got into the high school of my choice.

I would go on to become a teacher and use both skills constantly throughout my career. Today, I’m announcing the release of my first children’s picture book, Blue, where I get to showcase myself as both author and illustrator of my book. I hope you will give my book as a gift during this holiday season. I hope it lifts your spirit, makes you think, and turns you into a bird watcher. Happy holidays from my heart to yours!

Corrie Cocker Spaniel, my first children’s book is also available on Amazon and at Barnes and Nobles.

Click the book cover for more information.

My Son’s Birthday

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My teenage son has just turned a year older. This means he’s a year closer to becoming a grown man, a year closer to possibly leaving for college, and a year closer to being independent. He’ll make all of his own decisions soon. Yes, the good ones and the bad ones. He will also face his own consequences.

I can only hope I have done a good job at preparing him for all that he will face. Providing him with necessities is one thing, but preparing him for life is a whole other thing. I’ve given him the gifts of private education and martial arts training at Tae Kwon Do. I’m very proud to say he is a black belt. However, the most important gifts I’ve given him are love and teaching him to be a caring human being.

He is more focused as he’s growing. He’s more sure of himself, more confident. He knows what he wants, and he goes after it. I’m sure I taught him that. He listens to my advice more carefully now knowing I speak from experience.

He tries to help and protect me now in a way similar to how I’ve been protecting him all these years. His heavy voice now fills a room like a sonic boom. He’ll soon pass me in height. Later, he’ll be driving me around. See how the roles reverse? I’m eagerly awaiting that last change.

Wind

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Wind blowing, ripping, racing, forcefully across the skies. No where to escape its grasp as it encircles me. As I walk, I feel its power against my body and face whistling harshly as it goes on its way and comes back again, and again, and again. This cold wind can chill you to the bone while you’re out walking in the evening, or it can really wake you up as you start you commute in the morning. This windy chill causes me to pull the covers tightly around me and beg for another hour of sleep as I hear an alarm ring in the distance. It’s so toasty under the blankets on mornings like this one.

The black squirrel I’m watching now doesn’t mind as it uncovers its treasures, jumping and pausing, jumping and pausing. It is preparing for the weather. This is the cold and windy season of autumn. Soon it will be winter and the squirrel has hidden its stash and knows where to find sustenance.

Are you prepared for this windy weather? What treasures have you hidden? Will you curl up on your couch to read a good book, or will you cozy up in front of a fireplace to watch a movie? Do you have healthy snacks or sugary sweets hidden away in your cupboard? I have both. There are so many things you can do inside your home on days like this.

This fall I will do a few DIY activities. I will crochet new scarves for my immediate family members, paint my dinning room, watch a few movies, write more of my own books, and read more of other author’s books. What will you do on these cold windy days? Leave a comment to share some ideas you have for retirees like me. Use the windy days to your advantage.

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.

Seasons

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My last post was about the fall or autumn season. As I sit in a parking lot surrounded by trees, mostly green and some with leaves just beginning to fade into a mustard type of yellow, I think of how we all as people have our seasons. When we are children, we’re all shiny and new. As teenagers, we blossom quickly. As adults, we are not as green as we once were; we are more knowledgeable and more guarded. As we proceed into the fall and winter of our lives, our hair like the leaves on these trees fade. Only black, blonde, brunette, or red hair fades into gray. And sometimes as humans we fight to prevent the new season from coming, instead of embracing the beauty of it all.

Like the leaves on the trees surrounding me, I know it will all begin again in the spring. My niece is about to welcome a brand new bouncing baby girl into the world soon. This baby will be the newest leaf on our family tree. Yet all seasons are beautiful and necessary. Enjoy your season, no matter which one you’re in right now.

I originally wrote this post on October 10, 2019.

Fall Cleaning

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Some people say every year they do a spring cleaning of their homes. I say each season has its own natural cleaning time. Winter brings the cold and ice to kill all the germs, spring brings the rain and breeze for planting something new, summers heat helps everything to grow, and fall is the season of harvesting all that has grown to keep us going throughout the cold season when it all begins again. I’m doing fall cleaning right now. Yes. Fall cleaning. I’m putting away the summer clothing and moving the fall and winter gear to the top. Donating clothes my son has outgrown to charity is a part of each season’s cleaning. He’s growing like a weed. Also, clearing worn out comfy clothes from my closet is quite a necessity.

Donating or recycling old books we’ve read and reread is a task I’d put off for some time because I’m so in love with reading actual books. “I know, I’m a part of a lost breed of human beings.” This is what you’re thinking, isn’t it? Most people download books and read them on a variety of apps and devices. Me, I’m just old-fashioned. Well, I’ve parted with a good portion of my stash of books. And my son has outgrown many titles I purchased during his primary years. Going to the library religiously was our saving grace when searching for books on his level to fill in the monthly book logs. How many of you remember doing that?

There are several books I will keep, though. These are books I purchased while working but have never had enough time to read. Since I retired I’ve completed Maya Angelou’s Mom & Me & Mom, and James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk. I’m now reading Joseph Prince’s Unmerited Favor. Shonda Rhimes,and John Grisham’s books are next on my reading list.

What are you reading now? Let me know in the comments section. Happy seasons cleaning everyone.

Plumbing 101

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Just so you know, I’ve taught myself many things in my lifetime. One thing I taught myself to do was small plumbing jobs, like I can change a washer, replace the toilet handle and flap, change faucet handles, faucet seats, and faucet cartridges. And oh yeah, anyone can change the aerator. If you can read well, you can learn to do just about anything. Even if you cannot read, if you are a visual learner, you can learn to do new things from YouTube videos. So this week I wanted to fix my bathroom sink’s faucet handles and seats. Read on to find out what happened.

I’d already purchased the collection of tools and parts necessary to do the job in August, therefore, all I needed was time to do the work when shutting the water off wouldn’t affect anyone. Thursday was the perfect day because everyone except me would be out of the house for a few hours. I started by laying out all my supplies and shutting off the water in the basement. Next, I tried to remove the stripped faucet screws stuck in the handles because of hard water and erosion. All the recommended tools for removing the screws did not work. While fiddling with the hot water handle and screw, the handle popped off, leaving the screw stuck inside the cartridge along with a small piece of the handle. This is when reality set in. I’d have to call in a plumber.

Plumbers are expensive too. To make a long story short, the plumbers came and ended up installing a new vanity, a faucet for the bathroom I’d purchased, a new toilet, and a new faucet for the kitchen sink. Use your imagination to figure out how much that costs. Everything looks new and shiny for now. So let’s see if these home improvements will stand the test of time.

Will this experience deter me from doing more plumbing in the future? I think not! After all I had successfully stopped a leak in my mother’s bathroom faucet handle about 2 months ago. I’d also installed a new handle and flap on my previous toilet. The supplies aren’t very costly and remember my service time is free. The lessons learned from plumbing 101 were to leave the challenging jobs to the pros, and a few home improvements or upgrades can look amazing.

I hope I’ve inspired someone to learn something new even if you’re retired. Who knows what could happen. You might just become a pro at it. So what will you learn next? Let me know in the comments section.

I’m Back!

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I am glad to be back after a brief hiatus. Preparation for the school year took a little time since my child was attending a new school. Shopping for school supplies and new uniforms was necessary. Therefore, had to place my interests on hold again. My child comes first!

Anyway, I’m still awaiting the copyright for my second children’s book so I can finally publish it. In addition, I will release my simple game app associated with the book at the same time. So far, I have released three apps and one children’s book this year. That’s not so bad for someone who has retired for nearly two years.

Now I’ll get back to podcasting about preparing for retirement when you begin your career. This coming week, I’ll be discussing IRAs. If you want to chime in to the podcast, you can message me on Anchor. You can find my podcast on most platforms now. Here’s the link to my podcast on Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/anchor-podcasts/tees-talk-time You can rate me there or give me a clap.

I hope you have been following your dreams while I was away. Remember, “life is what you make it.” So make your dreams come true.

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.