It’s the last day of July. We’re well into the “dog days of summer.” The hot, sticky part of summer you either embrace with your suntanned face ready to take on the sunshine or you escape to your cool basement to ride out the heatwave.
I’m the latter. Give me seventy-degree days and air conditioning for anything hotter.
There are sun people. Then there is me.
Though I loved and now miss my summer softball leagues and my days spent at the community pool as a kid, I was always an indoor person, even as a kid who loved being outside for a certain amount of time. Then you could find me in my room listening to my favorite cassettes, which in the late 80’s probably included Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and White Lion, or in front of the TV watching MTV, waiting for the videos of my favorite bands to play.
I can’t think of the summer of ’88 without George Michael’s song, “Monkey”, popping in my head. That video was on auto play every hour on MTV, as well as the radio, which was fine with me because I loved the video and the song.
Though I love summer and all its baseball games and outdoor concerts and barbeques and fests and beaches, I have my limits. As long as it isn’t too crowded or too hot. Maybe that’s how most people feel, but I have friends who think anything less than ninety degrees can’t be considered “summer weather.”
They are insane.
They live to sweat underneath the sun’s rays. I remember as a teenager when my sister would grab a lawn chair with a towel and lay out in the sun. She loved “laying out.” If you asked her on a summer day what she was gonna do, she’d say, “I’m gonna lay out.”
I found no appeal in it. To just lie underneath the sweltering sun as your skin burned. No thank you. I remember going on spring break trips with friends as a teenager and being amazed at how they could spend hours, every day of the vacation, just melting beneath the summer sun.
I needed to read a book or listen to my headphones to lay out there and once I was bored with that, I was done.
But that’s just me. You do you.
Enjoy your summer.
On a sidenote, thinking about the George Michael song brought to mind a couple other songs that will always make me remember the summer of ’88.
Gloria Estefan’s “1-2-3.” Def Leppard’s “Love Bites.” Richard Marx’s “Hold onto the Nights.”
A great summer with amazing music.
Once upon a time a little girl wrote a poem about a flower. Impressed, her teacher pinned it to the wall and, in doing so, showed the child which path to follow. Over the years poems and stories flowed from her pen like magic from a wizard’s wand. She is much older now, a little wiser too, and she lives in rural Cambridgeshire, where there are many trees to hug. But inside her still is that little girl who loved Nature and discovered the magic of words. She hopes to live happily ever after.Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Fantasy author Carol Browne is a published author who is currently seeking an agent.
It is strange when you can think back to only three years ago and struggle to remember with any ease of relation to how life was back then. “Back then.” It is astounding that I am attributing the words “back then” to a life lived only three years ago.
But I am.
Three years isn’t even a full presidential term. Three years doesn’t even get you through high school. Your driver’s license isn’t even expired in three years, yet still, three years feel like the distant past.
At least to me it does.
And I know everyone’s personal perspective on this differs. For most of us, life changed in 2020. We all quarantined from loved ones. Didn’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary. Social lives for most were non-existent.
And then 2021 rolls in and vaccinations and everyone is excited to get back to life. Sports are back. Concerts are back. Restaurants and bars are alive again. I, too, was looking forward to getting back to life.
In March of 2021, I went to a restaurant for just the second time in a year. I spent the day at a riverwalk with my nephew. I was walking amongst people again and was starting to feel normal.
Then symptoms of a muscle disease I have started to rear its ugly head and with it wiped away any semblance or hope of getting back to what I considered “normal” life.
I look at pictures from three years ago and I hardly recognize myself or that life lived just three years ago.
The last time I went to a concert. The last time I went to the movies. The last time I went to a coffee shop to relax with a cup of coffee and a book. The last time I went to the library, where I’d sit at my favorite desk to work on what I hoped to be a good story. I miss the smell of books. I miss the quietness of a library that forced me to stay focused on those words I wrote. A good portion of my book, “A Penny on the Tracks” was written at my local library.
I miss the change of scenery. I miss getting up and going wherever my mood takes me. I had many different writing destinations, and I miss them all.
My circumstances are different from most people. My health, or lack of, plays a huge part in why life isn’t normal for me. It isn’t just covid. But with covid cases rising again, along with hospital rates, even if I felt better and was able to do everything as I had done before, would I still look back at 2019 as a far-away time?
A life where facemasks weren’t needed to enter medical facilities or grocery stores or banks.
A life where you’d give an odd expression to a person walking past you wearing a facemask because the concept was so foreign to you.
A life where you could impulsively hug a person hello without asking first if they’re okay with hugs because the not-so-distant past had no personal boundaries.
A life where if a person sitting at the table over from you at Starbucks coughs and you hardly notice because it is just a cough. How harmful can a simple cough be?
Oh, those were the days. 2019, I really, really, really miss you.
I fondly remember the time I met a woman at Starbucks. Betsy. She was in her 60’s and had MS. She wanted my seat at the window. She liked sitting by the window. I gave it to her, and she peppered the top of my hand with kisses. At the time I considered that a sweet gesture. She made me smile. Not once did I think about germs and rush to squirt sanitizer on my hands.
Those really were the days.
- Time Sucks: You know what I’m talking about. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. TV. Email checking. Web surfing. These activities can be gigantic time sucks. Get a timer or set an amount of time for yourself for these simple pleasures. If you do this, you’ll free yourself up to dedicate time for your writing. Do it. Be ruthless.
- Great Writing Sessions: Some writing sessions are more productive than others. Know when is the best time for you to write, and when is not. Are you a night owl or an early bird? Know yourself well with regards to this advice. You will generate roughly 80% of your writing in the best 20% of your writing sessions. When you have a great day of writing, take notice on the factors that make it productive, and try to repeat those factors in all of your writing sessions.
- Not-so-great Writing Sessions: A small number of your writing sessions will be far more wasteful than the rest. What happened in these sessions? Distractions? Your special someone knocking on your office door? Pets demanding attention? Do the math and figure out the factors that prevented great writing sessions. What can you do to fix these sessions in the future?
- Writing Quality: Pretty much 20% of your writing will be of a high quality. That’s the good stuff you should publish. The other 80% will be crap. Buck up. It happens to the best of us.
- Know Your Audience: What’s selling for you? Your audience will vastly prefer some 20% of your writing. Know this. Embrace this, especially the enthusiastic reviews. Then create more stories like it. It should drive more success your way.
- Creating Ideas: You’ll think up 80% of your best ideas in 20% of the time you dedicate to creative activities. Figure out what puts you in these highly creative states and try to recreate those conditions every time. Was it the music you were listening to? The tea or coffee you sipped? Perhaps it was incense you were burning. On the flipside, you’ll trash 80% of your time spent generating new ideas. Maybe that time would be better spent on editing, reading or other activities.
- Productivity: Some days will be more productive than others. Period. Exploit those days by pushing yourself to write as many hours as you can. Make the most of it and you may complete more work in one day than in several average days.
- Book Sales: A cold, hard fact: 80% of book sales will come from 20% of authors. This explains why the publishing industry tosses huge amounts of money at a small number of authors while it ignores great work from everyone else. Life’s not fair for those in that 80% range.
- Success and Failure: Some 80% of your written work will likely fail to gain an audience. However, all it takes is one major success to turn that percentage around and claim your stake in the publishing world. Grow a thick skin and keep trying.
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE
I’ve been spending a lot of time these days looking back. Looking back on better times, better days. I read my journals written pre-2020, before Covid, before my health took a nosedive in early 2021 and has continued into 2022, to try to remember what normal life was like. How I used to live. What waking up and doing and going wherever I wanted felt like.
It’s so strange that you can live a certain way for most of your life, and then a year of a lockdown caused by a pandemic, followed by a year of bad health, can make that life you used to live feel so foreign to you that it’s as if someone else had lived it. You have no visceral connection to the past experiences you read about in your journal or see in pictures because that person doesn’t feel like you anymore.
No longer seeing yourself in yourself is a peculiar, isolating feeling.
The summer months are approaching. Though my favorite season is fall, (who can pass up hot cider, cozy sweaters, comfy slippers, the smell of crisp leaves, and, of course, Halloween and all of its scary movies) June has always felt like freedom to me. I’m assuming that sentiment has carried over from when I was a child and June marked the end of school and the beginning of summer vacation. Freedom!
Sunshine, barbeques, baseball games, outdoor concerts, carnivals, and fests.
June starts tomorrow, but I’m not feeling as free as I once did. The sunshine of June that ushers in the summer months used to fill me up with excitement for potential summer adventures.
Maybe I’ll feel that excitement next June.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com
I have covid…again. I first got covid back in Nov 2020. It was a breeze. My only symptoms were mild congestion and loss of taste and smell. I wasn’t vaccinated then. Vaccinations weren’t available yet, but I am double-vaccinated and boosted now, and covid is kicking my ass.
I was healthier in Nov 2020 when I dealt with covid as an unvaccinated person, as opposed to how I’ve been the past year, and I’m sure that is making a difference. It’s almost laughable that someone like me gets covid. At the time I tested positive I hadn’t been out of the house (except for dog walks) in almost two weeks and the only people outside my household I was around was my neighbor, who came over and sat with me and my dog in the grass and chatted for a bit, and four members of my extended family who visited for a couple hours. But that’s all it took. Being in contact with five people I don’t live with was enough to give me covid. It’s no wonder cases are starting to surge again.
I’ll get through this bout of covid just as I did a year and a half ago. My only concern is any long-term effect it may have on the Myasthenia Gravis that I have. I can’t be one hundred percent certain that the flareup I’ve been living through the past fourteen months wasn’t triggered by my Nov 2020 covid diagnosis. The doctors I’ve talked to can’t say for sure. I had no lingering effects from that first covid case. I went back to living normally for four months until my current flareup started and fourteen months later, I’m still living it.
I only hope the covid inside my body now won’t make me worse months down the road because I desperately need to get better. Get my life back. It’s crazy and awfully scary how fast life can change. I look at pictures from 2019, just three years ago, and it feels like another lifetime because it’s been so long since I’ve lived “normally.” I went from isolating in 2020 because of a deadly virus, to isolating in 2021 because of a flareup in my health that now, over five months into 2022, I’m still dealing with.
I know I’m not the only one dealing with lingering health issues that make getting out of bed feel like an Olympic accomplishment. You’re not alone. I know that can be an easy concept to forget when health issues can frustrate and depress every fiber of your soul. But you’re not alone. Reach out if you need help. I do. All the time. I have friends that must feel like veteran therapists of fifty years after dealing with me this past year.
I tell them every day how appreciative I am of them.
Wrinkles cover her thin-skinned ninety-two-pound body, compliments from her eighty-seven years of living in this, at times, tumultuous world. But she’s as easygoing as they come, mostly unbothered by external noise.
She’s a headstrong, entirely capable, and stubborn woman. I love all of those qualities about her. She minds her own business and lives the way she wants. She talks to me in her beautiful Irish accent. She was born on a farm in Ireland. She rode a horse to school with a trap in the back where kids hitched rides on the way. She misses the horses. The farm had rabbits and dogs and pigs, but she loved the horses the most.
A couple years ago, her son privately talked to her doctor to persuade the doctor to tell her she couldn’t drive anymore. One day she joined me for a walk with my dog Phil and she had a disgruntled look on her face. I asked what was wrong.
“I know my son told my doctor to tell me I can’t drive anymore. I’m not stupid.” She looked up at me with her thin lips pressed bitterly against each other and her short brown hair swaying in the breeze. “But I do what I want. He’s not the boss of me.”
Later that day I was sitting on my front lawn with Phil and her garage door opened. Seconds later, a blue van backed out of the garage and down the driveway. She pulled into the street and gave me a wave from behind the wheel as she passed.
She’d found her keys. She’s determined like that.
Another day I was walking Phil past her house, and she was in the garage pounding out a dent in her car. I asked her what happened. She said she hit something in the garage but had to hurry because her son would be over soon. I asked if she needed help, she answered, “No, just don’t tell my son.”
That made me smile. Most everything about that special woman makes me smile. I wish to be more like her. I was down one day and told her about it. She told me she doesn’t think about thoughts that bring her down. I imagine that isn’t something she just started doing in her later years. I’m sure she lived by that adage even when she was younger and raising six children. She talks of her past without regret or resentment. She had a hardworking husband, (whom she also tells me wasn’t the boss of her) but times weren’t always easy, especially the early days in Ireland when work was hard to find or when one of her children took their own life.
None of her pains from the past show on her face now. At least none that I can see, though it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. She chooses to live as happily as she can. Not many people make that choice. Some live bitterly and filled with anger. When my nieces and nephews were young, they’d come over and play in the street. Naturally, they’d make a lot of noise. She’d always come outside, not to yell about all the racket, but to sit on her front porch and watch the kids play because she loved to hear the sound of children’s laughter.
Margaret lives across the street from me, and she loves to sit at her front window with her cat. No matter how bad of a day I may be having, when I see her face at the window I always smile because she waves at me with such excitement, huge smile and arm waving fast and high, as though she’d been waiting all day to see me. I will miss that when the day comes where she is no longer at the window. Hopefully that won’t be for a while.
Margaret came over a couple days ago to tell us she and her son and daughters are going to England but won’t be stopping in Ireland. She doesn’t have much family there anymore and doesn’t want to impose on the ones still there. We sat and got to talking and she shared with me how happy she is that we are neighbors. She went on about how comforting and safe she feels that we are right across the street from her. Margaret doesn’t live alone. She has her daughter, and her son stops by almost every day, yet still she appreciates that we are neighbors.
That meant something to me, and I hope she knows how much I appreciate that we are neighbors, too.
Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.
Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!
The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.
Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.
’Til Time Do Us Part is available in Kindle and Paperback at AMAZON.Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website. Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors. When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business. Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.a>