Life keeps moving

I have been thinking lately about writing a blog post and the theme that keeps coming to mind is “life goes on”. Today on September 11th for a lot of people it didn’t. And I am also sure that for a lot of people that day it felt like life couldn’t go on. But it does. 

As I look out at the dark skies I am reflecting on my life and this idea that “life goes on”. It sure does. Some days it feels like time is flying by and before we know it anything week, month, and year have passed us by. I saw a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that said “you are never too old nor too young to start”. 

I consider myself a perfect example of that. A little more than ten years someone fabulous came into my life and taught about all of the fun things in life and traveling.  I never had the time or inclination to travel. Now we travel so much I do feel like a gypsy. It doesn’t matter where we go, but that we are going. And together we can have a good time. 

A few years ago I was bored and started to write. With some starts and stops I did something amazing a year ago and published my first novel. Then a few months ago I published my second. And I am now working on my third. And I enjoy telling the story of my characters. 

Life doesn’t always give us what we want. Sometimes it gives us what we need. There are hundreds of quotes or “words to live by”. I think the simplest thing is to remember that life will keep moving forward. We just have to be willing to enjoy the life we have. And to have the strength and courage to try something new. 

I think it’s better to say “I tried” than to say “I can’t”. Smile every morning because today is another day and there will be another reason to smile. Share that smile with a stranger. Say “good morning” or have a good day to someone. Two small words can make a difference in someone’s life that we will never imagine. 

But mostly – just have a great day. One day added on to the day before and added on to tomorrow can make for a great week. And now before you know it, it’s been a great month and a great year. 

This is me smiling and wishing you a “good day”!! 

   

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New Year 2015

Now that it is February I decided that I should break the mold and write a blog about the new year. We all read blogs and posts about people setting New Year’s resolutions – to eat healthier, work out more, stop smoking, or whatever they think will make them happier. And we always hear about people who break their resolutions by February. So, I figured I would reverse it and make my resolutions in February.

There is just one problem – I don’t do resolutions exactly. Yes, this year I am going to try to eat healthier. Have a salad or two, maybe skip the chips for a healthier snack. But, my biggest resolution is to make this year a better year than last year. Which is going to be very hard to do because last year was monumental.

Looking back at 2014 there were just a few “small” things, but they have changed my life. The most obvious was having my novel published and getting good reviews. I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely amazing it is to have someone say “hey, I read your book and really enjoyed it”. I also finished my second book last year. Hopefully to have it published by Memorial Day this year.

I also started a new job, which has carried it’s own challenges. But, what job doesn’t come with challenges? Except for being a Wal-Mart greeter which was plan b. Just kidding honey!! But the new job has been really enjoyable and I love working in the city again. Even if it has a longer commute. Every job has it’s pro’s and con’s and this one does also. But, so far I am still smiling.

One of the other things we are doing this year is celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. And we have already started it off right. With a trip to Disney World. Shocking I know right, since as you know we go fairly often. But, this one was a little different – because the kids came with us. And that always make the trip a little more fun.

Hard to still call them kids when my 16 year old is taller than I am. Just let’s me know how much I appreciate my daughter not being taller than me also. But, they are awesome and we always have so much fun with them. Who else could get me to ride Rocking Roller coaster twice in a row, or Space Mountain three times in a row. Just because we could. For a guy who isn’t a huge roller coaster fan, I still enjoyed every minute of it.

So – how do I make this year more than last year? Simple. I focus on my happiness. And accepting those things which make me happy. Or more importantly focusing on those things which make me happy. I think some times we get so caught up in the stressors in our lives, the small and the big issues that we forget to do that. To focus on those things which make us happy. Then maybe we won’t spend as much time on the challenges.

I have no idea what the next eleven months will bring. If you asked me in February 2014 I would not have said – I will have a book published and sold and have a new job. But that’s what the year brought. So whatever 2015 brings my way I will accept it and if it’s a challenge then I will determine to make it something I can be happy about.

I know it’s a month late… but, I wish you all the best. A year full of joy’s, happiness, good health, smiles, and the strength to make the tears less painful. Happy New Year world… bring it on!!!

Winter has arrived

For those of you who know me, you may know I love Disney World. And for my poor wife, any time we talk about vacations I always suggest “someplace warm”. So, when she says “hey, let’s to Iceland” my response is always “but, it’s cold there!” So you can imagine my thrill last night.

We were getting ready to head upstairs for bed when my wife looked out the window and all I heard was “oh come on!”. It snowed – it’s like we got feet. Ok, so it barely stuck to anything, except for the patio furniture and the cars. But, it SNOWED. Now, I don’t mind the snow at all. It’s beautiful really, and can change a dreary, damp landscape into a pristine, peaceful thing of beauty.

It’s the cold. I am just not a fan of being cold. I much prefer the sun shining, and the heat levels to be way up there. Short sleeves, shorts, sandals. That’s my choice for getting dressed – not jeans, heavy socks, boots, shirts, sweaters, jackets, gloves, and scarves. Sorry, just not my ideal situation. But, I live here in the northeast so I have to deal with it.

I was “debating” the weather change with a friend who is a skier – like my father-in-law who goes to Vail every year. Or my wife who grew up on skis, they love this, and the earlier the better. One of these years I will try it, and when I do, I hope no one laughs too hard. I like speed – just check my driving – but I also like stopping. So, I know there are skiers saying thanks to the snow Gods.

This morning, the snow had all but gone, but the air was cold, crisp, and smelled of winter. I love when people say that because I have no idea what winter or snow smells like. But, it is there in there in the air. You take a deep breath and you are bound to say – “yup, smells like snow.”

I won’t lie to you – my car has a remote starter so it’s very nice to get in and have it at least somewhat warmed up. Standing on the platform there is no remote starter, so the cold wind blowing across the open space can be pretty chilling. But, this morning it was just crisp. Even the sky is a nice “winter blue”. I am sure that color ranks up there with “smells like snow”, but that’s the best way I can describe it.

One of the comments I saw last night was that this is just the changing of the seasons, and I thought of my friends and family in Florida (other than Goofy). I wonder if they miss that part of fall and winter? I doubt they miss the cold – but what about the change? There is no denying the beauty of the leaves changing from that perfect green to so many amazing colors. Or, even the white stuff coating the ground and the cars.

Yesterday when I rode the train across the bridge, the fog was so thick you could not see the river or any of the buildings. This morning it is crisp and clear, and you can see everything so well. The reds and yellows and oranges of the trees seem much brighter this morning.

Not to take a slim covering of snow as an excuse to get philosophical, but maybe this is God’s way of reminding us that this is an important facet of life. That we all have to have our clear days, our foggy days, our snow covered nights, the warm sun, and the cold air. Symbolic of our lives, it reminds us that change is not just inevitable, but an important part of who and what we are.

I happen to have a Nina Simone song on my iPhone called “Feeling Good and the chorus fits this well. Something to keep in mind from time to time “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me. And I’m feeling good.” It doesn’t mean that everything has to change. Just that each day is a chance to do what makes me happy. A chance to do what makes us all happy. So – forget the snow and the cold and just be happy!

Look Around and Open your Eyes

It’s another crisp autumn morning and I am heading in to the office. The past couple of weeks I have been getting off the train a couple of stops early to extend my walk in. Originally it was because I was part of a family itBit challenge to walk the most in a week. But, now I find that I am really enjoying it.

While I may have run a half marathon I am by no means athletic. There is a part of me that enjoys the walk and how invigorating it feels. The fresh air, even when it is cool, blows through what little hair I have. It opens up the senses and gets me to look around. When I get in to work I feel so much more awake than with just coffee.

The other nice part of it is that I am walking through a great city, and like a lot of other large cities there is a huge mix of ethnicities blending together. And as I walk along you can see the mix of businesses as well, all vibrant in their own right. The mom and pop pizza shop is sandwiched between the Wendy’s and the Subway. Or the hat shop – as in Fedora’s and similar hats – that sits among the ice cream shop or the Starbucks.

The small side streets, not even wide enough to be called an alley, beautifully decorated with flowers. Despite the small space owners find enough space for a simple chair and small table. This is home. It easy to imagine that these people are not even seeing the city, but their own little slice of heaven.

And the people are so very different. For a writer it is a dream come true. Almost every day I pass a store or a person or a building and think – that has got to be in my book. How do you leave the middle aged man in a Brooks Brother suit and tie walking three dogs at 8am out of the book? Especially when two of them are poodles and the third is a doberman.

Everyone says that their city is the best, whether you are in New York, Dallas, Boston, or Los Angeles. Or here in Philadelphia. I just hope that you can take the time to walk through it. Open your eyes and look around you. Even if you are not writing a new book, you will see things you can’t see driving down the streets.

Another Interesting Week

This has been an incredibly interesting week for me, including both good, bad and just plain strange. There were quite a few positive and empowering things for me this week that it made the sad things touch me even more. All of it combined has made me stop and make me appreciate everything in my life even more.

For most of you reading my blog you know that I have recently published my debut novel – Cutter. It is currently available on Amazon, Nook, and iBooks. And I have already sold about a dozen copies. I saw another author post on Facebook a question she got – how does an author sell their books? Her answer was “one at a time”. And that answer summed it up for me – it didn’t matter, if I sold a dozen or 100,000 (although that would be nice). I did something pretty darn amazing, and am darn proud of it.

I also got my first two reviews, the first one which said that it was an amazing five star read and how much she loved it. The second also said that it was a great book, and how much she loved it. Both reviews touched me incredibly and again, if no one else likes it I will still feel incredibly lucky. With the help of what have become some good friends I feel like I put together a good product. The easy part was writing the story – the hard part was the editing, the re-editing, and the cover. But they all made it easy.

As good as all of that was, my week started off badly. On Monday a person fell in front of the commuter train that I was on. I was so sad all day, and not just because it happened. I was sad for the woman, that she felt that alone and that desperate that she thought there was nothing else for her. All week I have been thinking about it – how could someone be that alone and that lost. And then I realized it as I looked around – because we are all too busy looking at our cell phones, headphones on drowning out those around us.

With this in mind I have been trying to be a little more aware of people around me. I know I can’t save the world, but surely a simple smile, hello, or hold the door for someone. People barely even notice each other as they race from the train to their office and back. I don’t know if it would help someone who felt totally alone, but it can’t hurt. Plus who knows – one smile could lead to two, or twenty, or twenty thousand.

Like I said, it was a very interesting week. Such an amazing week for me and also filled with a reminder that sometimes things become difficult when you lease expect it. A friend of mine found out that her husband is terminally sick. Completely out of the blue – playing 36 holes of golf one day, and sick the next. Sometimes, it’s not the other person who needs that smile. Sometimes, it is us. So the next time you pass a mirror stop and smile. You deserve it today!

Food Shopping

I made a big intake this morning, but in my own defense it isn’t something I do a lot. I went grocery shopping. And to add to my  mistake this morning I did it without the aid of coffee in my system. My wife and I are having chili later today so we needed a few last midnight things – which can happen when you decide this at 10pm the night before. Since I tend to get up early – yesterday it was 530am and it was Saturday – I offered to go, given a specific list so I could be in and out.

Of course, I woke up this morning at 915 and was out of the house by 930. The streets were not bad so I thought I might be in luck. And since the Eagles don’t play until tomorrow night, I hoped that it wouldn’t be too bad. I got a decent parking spot and headed straight in, grabbing a cart on my way. So far so good.  What could go wrong. My spirits high I headed straight to the meat counter for the lunch meat and the wheels started to come off.

I was only 5th in line and they had several people behind the counter. The first woman stepped up to place her order, but had to question the price of everything she ordered. And everything was too expensive so she argued with the (poor) clerk for each item. Several times asking what was on sale, only to get the more expensive choice because “the sale item must not be any good”. Personally, I like Black Bear meats, but that is just me.

The next guy in line steps up to place his order and at first I felt bad for the guy. After all, I only had about a dozen things on my list. But, based on the two pages he was holding in his hand and the clear block printing he was doing his wife a favor. For some reason though he had no idea what meat he should order or how much. So every selection was a deliberation as lengthly as if he was buying a new house or car.

I was very proud of myself when I stepped up and quickly placed my order and stepped away just a couple of minutes later. Then to add to my pride and manly chest thumping, thinking I had clearly mastered this whole grocery shopping “thing”. I got everything else on the list quickly and efficiently, my last stop being in the bean aisle grabbing a can of black beans. I started to look for the chili mix and found that just as quickly. Piece of cake.

I turned back to my cart – I had left it three feet behind me – and there was a woman taking stuff out and putting the items into her cart. She laughed and apologized saying she had put a few of her things in my cart. I smiled and said “that’s ok it’s not my cart.” And then it hit me – my cart was gone. Someone had taken my cart. I am sure you are thinking, what’s the big deal they probably had similar items. Not even close!! Not only was the cart left behind tow-thirds full, it had a huge bag in the child seat are where mine had been empty.

I shook my head as the woman behind me said “go to customer service and they will announce it, it happens all the time”. Somehow that didn’t make me feel much better. So I wandered up and down the half dozen aisles right by me in case the person didn’t get far or was coming back. Then I went to customer service, where in fact it does happen all the time so they announced it. Then shaking my head even more I went to get a second cart so that I could start shopping all over again.

Two items in I found my cart. It had been left in the middle of the dairy aisle, with a package of butter added to my items. Now I was really confused. First, they took the wrong cart. Then they added butter to my cart. And then realizing it was not their cart they LEFT the butter behind along with everything else in my cart. I was flabbergasted – and yes, I have been waiting to use that word. Shaking my head I quickly paid and got out of dodge.

I am sure there are people who will read this and laugh saying they do the shopping all the time and see the same things. I sure hope not, but I am sure that you do. Will I go food shopping again? Sure why not? If I can write and publish a novel, then I can master food shopping! For all of you who shop regularly I feel for you, honestly. For those of you who are doing your spouse a favor – don’t forget to take an itemized list and a lot of patience.

Inspiration for Writing

I started a new job this week, working once again in “the city”. For those of you not familiar that is center city Philadelphia, as opposed to New York City. My commute is a little bit longer, but I have a 30 minute train ride – each way – which gives me time to write, think, or just relax and read a good book.

I also have a short 15 minute walk between my office and the train which is nice. Even though it is the city and there are cars and dumpsters everywhere impacting the “fresh air” it is still nice to get out. To let the air blow through my hair – assuming I had any. It gives me a chance to blow the daily cobwebs of life from my mind and truly start each day fresh.

It also gives me a chance to look at society around me and think about how we interact with people and how that has changed. As I walk down the street, past the tourist family holding tightly to their kids’ hands, past the other businessmen and women in suits, past the joggers and the strollers. I notice one thing that is consistent with almost everyone.

Almost everyone has a phone in one hand and their earbuds or headphones firmly planted on their heads and in their ears. I do the same myself, enjoying the time to listen to my favorite songs, or just let my iPhone choose for me. I do it, because like the air it drowns out the “noise” of life and let’s me escape for a bit.

But, I still find myself looking around at the rest of the people and I wonder. Even in myself, am I escaping from them or just into my own thoughts? For me, it is into my own thoughts. I have found in the past week a renewed vigor in my writing. And where I was somewhat stuck, I now feel alive again and more a part of my new story than before.

In a recent interview I was asked – where do I get the inspiration for my story? The answer is simple – just look around. There are so many stories all around us. Sitting beside me on the train, walking against the traffic light in a rush to get someplace, or just standing looking at the dress in the window.

In that same interview I was asked – when did I first feel like a writer? I am not sure when exactly, but I do know that it is days like today that I feel more like a writer than ever before. And as many authors have said over and over again. Writers write. Or as Steve Berry once said in an interview – you have to write every day so that the little voices in your head will quiet down.

So, quiet down little voices. I am writing. Again. Every day if I can.