I’ve missed you! And, I wrote a new book!


It’s been way too long since I’ve written here, and so much has happened. I’m not sure how to organize it all!  I’ll just dive in, and hope you can follow along.

If you’ve followed my story, you know that I have struggled to write because of severe and chronic pain that makes it difficult to type. I have been able to type in short bursts, but rarely more than a page at a time. I tried dictation software, and it functioned fine, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. My thoughts flow more elegantly from my fingertips than they do from my mouth.

Last year, we moved to a new city for my husband’s job. We were just settling in to our new home when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was stunned. My family has no history of breast cancer, and I didn’t have any of the known risk factors. Fortunately, it was caught early (please do all the recommended screening tests!). I had surgery and then went through five weeks of daily radiation therapy. The radiation left me exhausted. I spent most afternoons in my recliner, with my two Bichons (Lily and Larry), curled up on my lap.

When I was nearing the end of my radiation treatments, I was approached by a publisher with an offer to write a book on self-confidence. Initially I said “no.” I had written four books in the past, and I assumed that part of my career was over. It wasn’t physically possible for me, with my chronic pain and now my fatigue, to write a book. But, the idea kept popping up in my head!

Who thinks of taking on a huge task when they’re exhausted and in pain? I do!

Writing makes me feel alive! I want to do this!

One of the things I like about myself is that I’m a creative problem-solver. I knew if I were to write this book, I would need help. If I could find a co-author, it would decrease the workload while still giving me a meaningful project in which to immerse myself. Immediately someone came to mind—Celia Ampel.

I had met Celia in a round-about way through my son years ago. As a graduate of the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism, she is a great writer. I also knew she was interested in psychology as we’d collaborated on a few blog posts a while back. She lives in Florida now and I decided to text her to gauge her interest and availability. The timing was perfect! She had just decided to leave her job and do some freelance writing, and she said she was definitely interested. Yippee!

We signed the book contract and off we went! We met over Google Hangouts to discuss ideas and used a shared Google document to write. She was the best co-author I could have. We were always completely in sync (we decided it was because we are both INFJs on the Myers-Briggs test and “Rebels” on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies test).

We had very tight deadlines, met each one early, and completed the entire book in under ten weeks (while I was also still working my regular job)!

I can’t believe how much I was able to write, or the amount of time I was able to sit at the computer. I was on a mission. Writing with Celia was so much fun I didn’t notice the pain as much, and what discomfort I had was worth it. We both felt good that we were working on a creative project that had the potential to help so many people. At the end of the writing process, Celia came to St. Louis to visit. It was so nice to see her in person. My husband, Greg, took pictures of us together, looking confident, of course.

This week was the one-year anniversary of the tests that led to my cancer diagnosis. I went back to see my doctors and have more tests. Everything came back clean. Even though I had expected good news, I hadn’t realized how much these follow-up tests had been weighing on my mind. It sounds cliché, but facing serious illness changes everything. One thing I learned for sure:

I’m not ready to quit writing. I still have things to say.

Just this morning, The Self-Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem popped up on Amazon—it officially comes out October 23 and is available for pre-order now. I’m really proud of it, and believe in the approach we present. Celia and I found ourselves becoming more confident ourselves as we became immersed in the material. (We had fun texting each other big and small confidence victories along the way!)

28056538_1629523250464478_8840453932887660622_nAs I type this, I look around my office for inspiration. My eyes land on a small painting that my husband gave me after I completed my radiation treatments. He had asked a local artist to do a one-of-a-kind piece for me. I love the work of Janice Scherer who is known for her “Stripy Arms” paintings. She had met me once and didn’t really know me, but magically her painting fit me and my situation perfectly.

“Show up. Stand up. Speak up. Every day, in every way—I am overcoming and pushing through perceived obstacles and challenges to do what I need to do—to find my courage, my strength, and my voice.”

I had planned to tell you more about the book and why I’m so proud of it—but I think I’ll stop typing for now. I can do that later…



Thankful Thursday

I’m so fortunate to have a part-time job with flexible hours. It makes such a difference when you have chronic health problems. I’m also thankful for my friends at work who check on me and make me laugh!

Here’s a picture of me at work with my grumpy face! I’m pretty lucky in that even when I feel grumpy on the inside, most people don’t usually notice!

And finally, a random thankfulness quote for your day:

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Monday Mantra

imageI know so many people who are struggling with health problems, myself included. I was recently diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, on top of all my original chronic pain issues. It’s so easy to focus on all of my troubling symptoms, and lose sight of the fact that my body continues to do so many amazing things for me. I can walk! I can talk! And I can breathe! I’m going to try to shift my focus from all that’s wrong with me, to all that’s right with me. Thank you dear, sweet body for continuing to work so hard. May I be kind to you.

Dear readers, may you be kind to yourselves today, and focus on all that is gloriously right with you.

Thankful Thursday

imagePlay dates with doggie friends. This is Gracie who was a Puppies for Parole dog. She hit the jackpot when Shelley adopted her. My dogs needed a little time to warm up to Gracie’s puppy energy!


A necklace hand-made by a dear friend. I met Toni through blogging. Even though I don’t write as much any more, we keep in touch.


Our backyard!

I’m going to try to post a few short things more regularly, mostly in an attempt to not forget what’s happening in my life. My memory is definitely not what it used to be! And I’m doing this all from my phone, as computer work and typing is still hard. So please forgive formatting issues and typos I may not catch. My standards are not what they used to be, and I’m okay with that.


Give Soul Searching a Rest


Much as I love to soul search, there are moments when you realize that perhaps today you are further complicating life by relentlessly seeking elusive answers to profound questions. Perhaps today is a day where you take what you already know to be true and apply it. Simple things we’ve had figured out for decades like the value of exercise, of dipping your feet in the nearest body of water, or having a good laugh with a few close friends. Fruits and vegetables are obvious in that way. Not too complicated, nothing really to fuss over, but simple, delicious, and just as good for you as they’ve ever been.      -Dallas Clayton

Sometimes I wish I could be the kind of person who didn’t think about the big questions. Today I’ve already questioned whether or not I’m living up to my full potential, what is the meaning of life, and why does my dog look like she’s wearing eyeliner ever since she came back from the groomer. Seriously, what did they do to her?

My friend, Jill, has a Sunday feature on her blog called Day of Rest. Today I am daring myself to give soul searching a rest. It’s not that the profound questions are “bad,” but sometimes all I do is spin in circles and make myself miserable. When I’m in the middle of such an existential angst tailspin, I need to remember to take a breath, pause, and ask myself, “Is this useful?” Today, the answer is no. Instead, I’m going to watch Parks and Rec on Netflix, dip my toe back into blogging, and remember that life and all it’s questions will be here tomorrow.

75 Hours Until What ! ?

Modeling my hiking backpack, my 70 liter dry-bag duffel, and my hula hoops which are my carry on item (they will be coiled down for the flight). My bags each weigh about 35 pounds- well under the 50 pound weight limit!My niece, Jody, has made an appearance on my blog before with her poem Yo Soy (I Am). And now she’s off to Panama to join the Peace Corps. I’m reblogging her post because I’m so proud of her!

The Journeys of Jodiva

Hello my dear blog followers!

I figured I would write one last blog post before I depart for Panama! Since my last post I have experienced a whole series of “lasts.” I had my last day of babysitting, my last day volunteering at ESL as well as Citizenship Literacy class, my last Zumba class, and my last time seeing a lot of family members and friends. Crazy to think that in less than a week I will be experiencing a whole new series of “firsts!” Pretty exciting.  With some of my free time lately I have been packing as well as having a couple going away parties. Thanks to everyone who came to my parties!!!

So on Monday, Feb 23 I am flying from STL to Miami. Peace Corps is putting us up in a hotel near the airport. On Tuesday, we have staging (orientation) almost all day. On Wednesday, we have to be ready…

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Just For Me

A poem on the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion Website. It just lists “Anon” under the title.

Thank you Anon. This is beautiful and powerful.

What if a poem were just for me?

What if I were audience enough because I am,

Because this person here is alive, is flesh,

Is conscious, has feelings, counts?

What if this one person mattered not just for what

She can do in the world

But because she is part of the world

And has a soft and tender heart?

What if that heart mattered,

if kindness to this one mattered?

What if she were not distinct from all others,

But instead connected to others in her sense of being distinct, of being alone,

Of being uniquely isolated, the one piece removed from the picture—

All the while vulnerable under, deep under, the layers of sedimentary defense.

Oh let me hide

Let me be ultimately great,

Ultimately shy,

Remove me, then I don’t have to…


But I am.

Through all the antics of distinctness from others, or not-really-there-ness, I remain

No matter what my disguise—

Genius, idiot, gloriousness, scum—

Underneath, it’s still just me, still here,

Still warm and breathing and human

With another chance simply to say hi, and recognize my tenderness

And be just a little bit kind to this one as well,

Because she counts, too.