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One of the things I enjoy is discussing my novel with those who have read it. There is something that lights within me when I think of my characters in Shoes on the Stairs and how they transform throughout the story. Even though I finished writing the book a few years ago, the characters still live within me. For me, my characters are very real and when I talk about them, it's like having a reunion with those I've missed. Shoes on the Stairs makes a great book club pick and can really inspire some deep discussions on the life we live and what we might be missing in trying to keep up with the busy world we live in. If you choose Shoes on the Stairs as your book club novel, I'd love to join you in your discussion. Feel free to reach out to me through my website or on Facebook. I look forward to discussing this special story with you!

It's that time of the year when kids graduate and begin their new exciting lives. sometimes they begin those new lives close to home and sometimes they find themselves far away from home base. I just happen to have a daughter who is moving an 18 hour drive away from home base and taking her older brother with her. She just graduated from college and has an internship that will hopefully lead to a fulltime job in Dallas. She's thrilled at this opportunity and I'm thrilled for her, but I will miss her and her brother dearly. Thanks to Covid, I have had my kids home more than usual, completely spoiled having them around for dinner, trips to the nail salon, binge shopping, morning workouts and late night talks in the kitchen. Those sweet moments will soon be coming to an end and it will be an emotional time for me. So what can I do to turn that frown upside down? How can I make light of this momentous change in my life?

I have been planning a room takeover. Once my daughter is out of her large room with attached bathroom and walk-in closet, I plan to make it my office and refuge. I have already ordered a couch, chair, rug, buffet (for my Keurig, and microwave), and coffee table. Most of my items have already been delivered and are anxiously awaiting their placement in their new home. My daughter is leaving her two book shelves so I will have plenty of shelving for all of my books and I will finally move my writing desk from the master bedroom to it's own room where it will actually get used. In addition to creating a new space just for me, I also started looking for a teaching position at the college level. It's time to go back to work and do something rewarding and empowering. I still plan to continue writing, but I need another outlet and additional inspiration as well as meeting and engaging with others outside my social circle. I look forward to meeting people from different backgrounds with different opinions to broaden my views on

current events.

So, about that office. I'll post pictures when it's all done. The couch won't be ready until the end of June but the rest should be done by mid June. Looking forward to it even if I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to my two oldest kids!

It's hard to believe that over two years ago I started my MFA journey with University of California, Riverside, Palm Desert. I have spent countless hours writing, reading, and participating in wonderful discussions on literature and the craft of writing. I have to admit, I didn't know what I was about to embark on and I was more than a little nervous. I'm no spring chicken and I worried I wouldn't be able to keep up or put out the quality of prose expected of an MFA candidate. Being technologically challenged also led to my anxiety, wondering if I would be able to figure out the platform used in the program. It was all a gigantic leap for me, but one I am so glad I took.

I can't say it was all easy, in fact, I was challenged every step of the way, forcing me to push past my fears and insecurities I have harbored for decades. But that's just it, that's the magic of taking on this program, of forcing myself to emerge from the safety of my world void of the challenges I was certain I would fail. It's hard to put yourself out there, to expose your weaknesses in the hope of becoming stronger, but it's the only way to grow. I often say, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," and I'm a true believer in that quote. I believe pushing ourselves past our fear of failure, past our fear of exposure, past our anxiety, builds strength. And if we fail? Well, we pick up the pieces, we learn what did and didn't work, and we try again. We also gain an appreciation for what it takes to jump that hurdle and those who have jumped before us.

I guess, what I'm saying is take the risk. Do something that challenges you. Throw away all the excuses for why you can't and replace them with a list of why you can. I juggled a family of five and amazingly, they didn't starve to death or get disgusted with my "housekeeping" or lack thereof. The world didn't come to an end (although the pandemic is trying to prove me wrong) because I let a few things go to achieve something bigger than I thought I was capable of. Don't fear failure, fear not knowing if you'd fail by not taking the risk. It's up to you. You are the driver of your own future--take that road you've always wanted to take.

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