Posted in Personal Observations

Hello to the New Normal (Temporarily)

I think we can all acknowledge that the last 30 days have been like a very badly written B movie. A virus? So what? There is always something running around making people sick. We were a little slow to grasp the meanness and fast-moving ways of Covid-19.

As of 6pm last night, all Californians have been ordered to shelter in place for 30 days. My friend Patty, who lives in Missouri, texted me at 9pm and asked how I was taking this news. I was in shock. I had just adjusted to the 14-day lock down, but 30 was nuts.

Here is a snapshot of my days since my retirement several years ago due to fibromyalgia. I don’t really go anywhere except medical, nail, and massage appointments. I am in some level of bad pain all.the.time. I make the occasional trip to the store or out to eat. Mostly I am home. Which I have adjusted to.

My current problem: I now feel pressured to be productive as I sit at home. There are all sorts of articles with lists and lists of things one can do to remain active and happy. Declutter your garage! Teach your 7 year old how to balance a checkbook. Get that garden ready for spring. Read. Watch everything on your movie list. All this activity will carry you about two weeks max and then what do you do?

When you are living with a constant sense of the unknown it is natural to unravel a bit. Cabin fever sets in, crankiness and selfishness become housemates. You must fight to be calm and at peace. If you lived through 9/11 you know these feelings well. Everything changed, just like it is with Covid-19. The world will never be the same. It just won’t.

As a Christian, the Bible has taught me that it is a good thing to have my faith stretched and tested. It also promises that if I place my trust in my all loving Father God, I will be fine. There is one thing I learned about being fine. My version and God’s version can be different.

Thirteen years ago, my son Evan had gone through several hip surgeries in one year. He ended up with a life-threatening staph infection and had to be life flighted from our little, rural town to a big city over 3 car hours away. The doctor warned us he might not live long enough to get help. All we could do was get in the car, with friends following us, pray and drive like heck.

Halfway there, my husband told me that he felt that Ev would make it, that he would be fine. My reply? “God’s fine and our fine are sometimes two different things.” This was a true statement. My son, who has Down Syndrome, might die and go to heaven, finally to be without the painful limitations he lives with on earth. Or, as it happened, make a full recovery that was SO fast the medical people were shocked.

No matter what happens in the following days, let’s not frantically zoom through the days. There are lessons to be learned, and love to be shown to each other. Even in the face of disaster, miracles can be found.

Posted in Personal Observations

7 Things I Don’t Miss and 6 I Do

We just got back from our week-long vacation. Did we go to an exotic location? Why yes we did! The wilds of Northeast Missouri. It was wonderful to catch up with our many friends and be part of an amazing wedding. Here are some of my parting thoughts as we flew back to the Central Valley.

 

I don’t miss:

1. Driving painfully slow behind some kind of large farm equipment.

2. Watching local news story about reporter driving large farm equipment for the first time. (It was on last night’s news)

3. Winter although this winter has pretty much been a piece of cake.

4. Ice skating on sidewalks.

5. Only having 3 grocery stores to choose from. There were 5 when we moved here 20 years ago.

6. Lack of dining options, especially when it comes to ethnic foods.

7. Dodging deer on the road.

Things I Do Miss

1. The lack of traffic at rush hour or any hour really. Except during fair week.

2. Experiencing the true four seasons in a year. As much as I hated the cold and the humidity, the change of seasons was always been amazing.

3. Catching up with friends at Wal-Mart. There’s been lots of great impromptu conversations in those aisles.

4. The bunny family that lived under our deck for a dozen years or so. It was always so much fun to see the new batch of babies as they learned how to fend in their bunny world.

5. Having the UPS guy ask if I wanted the package he has for me dropped off at home or work.

6. Discounted medical care from my many doctor friends who made being uninsured much more manageable.

 

 

A Visit With Author Kathy Nickerson

K Nickerson 1Yesterday I reviewed Kathy’s new book, Thirty Days to Glory. Thanks to technology, I got to ask Kathy Nickerson, author of Thirty Days to Glory, some questions about life and writing.

Do you remember the first story you wrote? If so, what was it about? 

Yes! I was in high school and already planning my career as a happy wife and mother of ten children. That summer I went to an auction and tried to buy a set of china for my hope chest. An antique dealer squashed my babysitting-money-bid first thing. So, my first attempt at a novel was based around that event – with a completely different outcome! (I got the china, the boy, and a home in the Rocky Mountains.)

Every writer has their own personal timeline in which they develop their skills. What was your journey from writing as an educational exercise to writing as a passion? 

My journey was long, but wonderful. I basically spent twenty years enjoying writing as a hobby. I studied, practiced, and puttered. I even had several articles published. Then, one day I woke up and thought: You better do this before you get too old to remember the stories. So, I took an online course in writing fiction, and I got busy.

We’ve known each other for about a quarter of a century. I’ve watched you go through highs and lows in your writing journey. Tell us how you have learned to deal with the rejection every writer faces. 

At my first writer’s conference in the 1980’s, an editor from Tyndale House told me, “The words on the page are not your flesh and blood. They are just ink.” I’ve tried to remember that when someone says, “No thanks” or “Revise” or “What the heck are you trying to say here?”

What are your 3 favorite books and why? 

Hmmm. That is a tough one, but here are three of my favorite novels: A Tale of Two Cities. I love unraveling the language in those long, complicated sentences. It is almost like a puzzle. And the ending is just so beautiful and heart-rending. I think you have to really believe in redemption and in Heaven to enjoy it, though.

Heidi – I know this is a children’s book, but the story of family and relationships crosses all ages. Once again, redemption plays a major role.

The Help – A modern favorite. The first time I read this, I felt I was literally sitting in the kitchen with Abilene, Skeeter, and Minnie during the scene where violence breaks out. I caught myself holding my breath. This one wins for good writing, good story, and a topic that made me think. And pray.

Who are your 3 favorite writers and why? 

Serenity Bohon, Felicity White, and Charity Long. Is that cheating since they happen to be my daughters? I also enjoy a little Charles Dickens and some Jane Austen. I am a big fan of Jan Karon’s Mitford series.

Are there new books in the works? Are you still submitting articles to periodicals? 

Yes, to the books and the articles. Characters from the next book have been talking to me. They seem eager to get on with their story. And some other novels are waiting their turn. I also plan to submit more articles this year while Thirty Days to Glory is floating around in the world.

Is there a message you would like your readers to take away after reading Thirty Days to Glory? 

Prayer works. Relationships matter. We are never too old or too lost to make a change or make a difference.

Thanks, Kathy, for answering all our questions.

With Christmas just around the corner, Thirty Days to Glory is the perfect present filled with hope and joy. You can purchase it at Amazon and CrossRiver Media.

Posted in Uncategorized

Review: Thirty Days to Glory

Thirty Days Cover sm

I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Thirty Days to Glory, Kathy Nickerson’s first published novel. As a long-time friend of hers, I had been hearing bits and pieces of this story for years. To actually get to hold this novel in my hands was a great feeling. With all this said, the question to ask is: was this novel worth the wait? I can only respond with the most enthusiastic of yes’s. I was so wrapped up in the book I read it in one sitting, finishing it at 1:27a.m. It is truly that engrossing!

Thirty Days to Glory is a novel that immediately draws you into the worlds of Catherine, an elderly widow, and Elmer, the most broken of men. The paths of these two strangers cross in a way that only Heaven can arrange. The setting for the story is Christmas time in a very small town in the Midwest. Kathy, having lived in such a town for her whole life, captures the rhythm and relationships flawlessly.

Catherine misses her husband, Edward, more each day. The holidays only make his absence harder to bear. She wonders if there are any more adventures for her or if life is over. Faced with pressure from her children to move to senior housing, far from her friends, Catherine must face the awful realities that growing old bring. I felt so sorry for this vibrant woman who represents an increasing segment of our society. Her choices will soon be mine.

Elmer is a man so tormented by PTSD that he has spent years insulating himself by crawling to into a bottle of booze. Much to his surprise and consternation, he begins to lose his taste for alcohol. Real life starts to surface, as Elmer struggles with facing the truth of the shattered life he has lived. I found myself rooting him on, hoping that he made the right choices every step of his journey.

Serving as the best type of Greek chorus are the Glory Circle Sisters, friends who have been together for decades. These lovely and hilarious ladies not only take care of each other, but also serve as prayer warriors who bring the power of heaven to earth for each other. The Sisters know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, yet love with a commitment that is all too rare these days. My favorite sister is Madge, the loud, blunt, redhead who dares to say what others won’t, or shouldn’t. She provides comic relief in the midst of this serious drama.

The characters in this book are so realistic that I mourned the loss of them when I reached the final page. Kathy has an amazing talent for making you feel like what is happening to Catherine’s life is happening to you. Elmer’s story is one that is all too common in real life. The struggles he faces seem insurmountable but God has not forsaken him. I found myself wishing I could jump into the book and help him find his way.

Thirty Days to Glory will stay with you long after the story is over. It highlights the lives of our most marginalized citizens and asks us to become more compassionate and understanding. This story also reminds us that God loves us and is actively involved in our lives, even when we can’t see it. I encourage you to read this book. It will change the way you view the world. Also, be sure to pick up a few copies for Christmas presents to give to those who are facing their own life-altering decisions.

Thirty Days to Glory is available through Amazon or CrossRiver Media.

Tomorrow I will be posting a great Q & A Kathy and I did.

*I received a copy of this book from CrossRiver Media for review, but was not financially compensated in any way. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and are solely based upon my experience while reading this book.