Sunshine

By Teresa Smith

The sun to guide us by day. The moon to watch over us by night as we sleep. God loved us so much he gave us a night light. Any of you have children who were once afraid of the dark? Remember getting those night lights with the cartoon character they loved most on it? I remember I bought my son that cooler one as advertised on TV. It was shaped like a dog and it reflected stars on the ceiling. He would not go to sleep until I turned it on each night. I never wanted him to feel afraid, so I comforted him with the light just as God comforts us.

Just the other day, as I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for my son to be dismissed from school, I saw the sun in the sky surrounded by clouds and thought it was an analogy of what we are going through at this time on earth as human beings. We are surrounded by the cloud of Covid-19, but the sun is shining through the clouds showing us there is hope on the horizon.

We are not alone. Our light is shining on the pathway to our new beginning. So hold on, keep the faith, and keep fighting and we’ll see the dawning of a new day.

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Being Invisible

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We are bombarded with images every second of our lives. The media throws ads at us nonstop. We’re on our devices constantly looking at screens filled with images, information, and misinformation. We devour these images and fill our minds with endless pictures that we sort into categories, like beautiful, ugly, scary, etc. Practically everything that we see dominates our thoughts during the day and enters our dreams at night. But is what we are seeing always real? Are images and what is on the outside most important, or is the invisible more real than the visible?

Just think of all the things we cannot see with the naked eye, that are more powerful than the things we see. The wind is powerful at times, right? The air that we breathe cannot be seen, but we need it to survive. This virus we’re all fighting right now cannot be seen with the naked eye, yet it is very real. The effects of the virus can be seen at times and at other times, and in varying cases the effects are invisible. Most images are made up of pixels. These pixels fool the eye into seeing the entire image. Sometimes what is seen is not even real.

I tend to think of being invisible as a sort of superpower. Just think, a few months ago nobody even noticed all of the essential workers and no one saw this virus enter America. All those people working behind the scenes are a powerful force that keeps America moving forward on a daily basis. That person who feeds the hungry in private, makes an anonymous donation, lifts your spirit when you’re down, calls to make sure you made it home safely, prays for you to get better without telling others, and loves you unconditionally while no one else knows is an invisible hero. And for those of you who believe in God or a higher power as I do, you know that God is the ultimate invisible hero with endless invisible superpowers.

So the next time someone treats you as if you are invisible, remember your superpower and continue to use it to defeat the enemy.

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.

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.

Podcasts or Apple iBook Store Options?

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Today I was thinking about how I could further build my brand and expand my distribution beyond Amazon. Amazon is an amazing powerhouse at selling books worldwide, but I’d like to see my book on different platforms. Apple is a whole different world! Most people I know own Apple products, so they would like to have books on their iBook shelves. However, if I go for it, I may not use the same kindle cover according to representatives at Amazon. So in retrospect, I’m leaving that idea behind for now. I also wanted to do an audible book, but changing covers may cause my book buyers confusion. What do you think? Leave a comment if you have any advice for me on this topic.

On the other hand, doing a podcast about my experiences after retirement can also help me gain more exposure as an author. Podcasting is like radio broadcasting in the good old days. I can see myself sitting in jeans and and a t-shirt once a month broadcasting my thoughts on a wide range of topics to the world. And just think I can do all this for free!

Today, I set up my icon and intro music. Now I have to find a nice quiet place and time to record. Wish me luck!

Promotion and Advertising

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Now that I have finished making revisions on my children’s book; I want to promote and advertise it. So I have to decide how much to spend on promotions. Promoting the book for free is also an option. Right now I will start tiny and just give out some bookmarks I designed. Since the book is for younger children, I know younger children will use bookmarks. Later, I can expand my promotion by creating an ad about the book. On the bookmark, I’ll include a link to my Author Central site. The author’s site has links to Amazon, where my book is on sale.

I am also working on my second children’s book. So I will place polls on my blog to get feedback about the children’s books in demand. I took a while last night to figure out just how to add a poll to my blog. I edited my last post just so I could try to include a poll on the page. However, I took much longer than I thought it would. So I will place the same poll under this blog post again today. Answer the questions as I will monitor your answers for feedback. I’ll use the feedback data when starting my third children’s book this summer. Thanks again to those who like and follow my blog.

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.

Revisions and Character Development

You might have noticed I took a day off from blogging yesterday. I wanted to work on my manuscript for a few hours instead of blogging. So I located my file on an old USB and opened it. Then I proceeded to read through my story more than ever before. My eyes were like lasers doing a detailed surgery on my text. The main thing I noticed was the text needed better character development.

So I zoomed in closely on my main character’s traits. I wanted the audience to feel like they might know him or at least understand his point of view. I needed to use more adjectives, only I didn’t want to overdo it. I am not writing this book for adults, so I have to control the level of the vocabulary I’m using. I also need to control the length of the text in terms of the number of pages it will be when I’m done enhancing the characters.

Here some YouTube videos that you might find helpful if you’re developing the characters in your book:

This YouTuber shows how to create characters for childrens books.
This YouTuber shows you how to brainstorm character traits to build a strong character for your book.