Welcome Home!

“Welcome home.” That seems like an odd greeting to hear in Ireland for someone who has lived her entire life in the United States, but that appears to be the sentiment amongst the Irish who consider their beautiful country to be home for anyone with Irish ancestry.

 

You wouldn’t have to dig too deep to find my Irish roots. My grandfather, John Purcell, was born outside Kilkenny City in Ireland in 1904. Sometime after WWI he immigrated to the United States, married a woman with Irish ancestry, and together they lived in the Bronx with their three sons before his untimely death from heart issues at the age of 39.

 

My husband and I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend two weeks in Ireland this summer. The first five full days were spent sightseeing off the beaten path with our amazing tour guides — my Uncle Frank and his wife Ellen. Frank is my godfather, and to be honest, until last fall, we really didn’t know each other much at all since we’ve never lived in the same state (or country, for that matter, as he has lived all over the world with his family). In October of 2017, John and I visited them at their home in Texas. We had the chance to spend hours together and realized we had much more in common than we could have imagined. Out of that visit came the invitation to come see Frank and Ellen at their summer home in Castlegregory, nested upon a hill overlooking the western coast of Ireland.

 

When we found great airfares to Ireland for this summer, we took advantage of that and booked our trip. On July 9, we flew from Chicago to London (FYI, 45 minutes is not a long enough layover to make a connecting international flight, which involves going through customs again, without sprinting through Heathrow Airport like crazy people), and from there to Shannon, Ireland.

 

We took a bus from the airport to Tralee, from where we were Ubered back to the house by my Uncle Frank. Their house has the look of an oversized quaint English cottage and the views from the front overlooking fields of sheep and cows grazing and the shore of the Atlantic Ocean were nothing short of spectacular. We watched the sun set every night, at nearly 11:00, and the sight never grew old.

 

Every day was an adventure when we were on the West Coast. The first full day at my uncle’s house, July 11, John and I enjoyed a walk along the beach, we got to eat fresh fish delivered to the door by the fish man, and took a tour of the surrounding area in my uncle’s SUV on crazy, winding roads that aren’t much bigger than one lane, have no shoulders and speed limits way too high (80 to 100 kph, roughly 50-62 mph). We found a lovely (the most popular word in Ireland) Marian grotto, we picked up a hitchhiker from France who was working on a farm in Ireland for the summer, we went to a couple of lakes tucked away in the mountains, and we finished the day solving the problems of the world over a couple pints for the guys and a delicious coconut liquor/coconut milk concoction for the ladies.

 

The next day we were treated to a tour of the Dingle Peninsula and got to see all sorts of villages and shops that aren’t included in the commercial bus tours. We even got to see where parts of the newest Star Wars movie were filmed, the location for the filming of Ryan’s Daughter, the house that the late Dolores O’Riordan from the Cranberries lived in, The South Pole Inn, and got to share a drink in a snug (private booth, back in the day reserved for women pub patrons) at The Colony Pub. We ended the night at Tomisin’s — the Cheers of Castlegregory, cheeky barmaids included.

 

That Friday we gave my Uncle Frank a day off of SUV tour driving and went on a bus trip to see the Ring of Kerry. The entire course was beautiful but our favorite spots were probably Ladies’ View in Killarney (the name stems from the admiration of the view given by Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting during their 1861 visit to Ireland) and a waterfall tucked along a hiking trail. Luckily, the water was flowing because, at that time, Ireland was in the ninth week of a drought, which was unfortunate for the farmers, but a blessing for us as we had fantastic weather the whole time we were in the country. Every day felt like a beautiful September day, which was even better because back home they were experiencing a heat wave.

 

On Saturday, July 14, John and I went to the beach to watch the Brandon Bay 10K/Half Marathon. When we found out they took last-minute sign ups, we gave them what Euro we had in our pockets, got shirts, an ended up racing. It’s Ireland’s only all beach 10K/Half Marathon. Assuming these divisions are legitimate…  John and I each took first place in our respective divisions (Wisconsin M, 55-59, and Wisconsin F, 55-59). We ended the day sore, tired and hungry but ready for a night out. After going to Mass (30 minutes in and out, these Irish priests don’t fool around) we had a wonderful meal at Tomisin’s cooked by the proprietor, who is a native of China. Chinese food at an Irish pub — it doesn’t get much more unique than that!

 

On Sunday, John and I made our farewells to my aunt and uncle and took a bus to Dublin. The city reminded us so much of London and Paris — it is a melting pot of people from all over the world. We stayed at a Travelodge (sparse but comfortable) that adjoined an Aldi grocery store. The prices for fresh food, bakery and European chocolate were unbelievably low. We stopped there about once a day. Our hotel was walking distance to Mother Reilly’s Bar & Restaurant, where we were able to eat and, later in the week, enjoy genuine Irish folk music up close and personal.

 

The next day we bought a two-day pass for a hop-on, hop-off bus so we could get the lay of the land and then go back to see all the spots that caught our eye. Some of the highlights were the Irish Whiskey Museum, Temple Bar, River Liffey, Phoenix Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral (where we attended the evening prayer service), and St. Patrick’s Park.

 

Tuesday our stops included St. Stephen’s Green (where we enjoyed amazing, oversized donuts which were available on most every corner in the city), Trinity College, Guinness Storehouse (the tour includes a free pint), Kilmainham Gaol (which was featuring an exhibit on the life of Nelson Mandela who would have turned 100 in July), and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

 

We took another bus tour via Paddywagon Tours on Wednesday for a day trip to Northern Ireland. We traversed the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (piece of cake after our rope bridge experience in Mexico last year), we had an excellent traditional lunch of Irish Stew and Brown Bread, we walked on the tree-lined drive from the Game of Thrones set, and we got to experience one of the wonders of the world — Giant’s Causeway, which is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption per Wikipedia. That was worth the trip alone! With the sunny, dry weather we were able to go to the edge of the columns that overlooked the ocean. The trip ended with an hour or so in Belfast. It’s an interesting city but I didn’t feel comfortable there considering the animosity that still brews between the Irish and the Northern Irish. Back in Dublin we did more walking (put in about 9 miles on foot per day) and had a great dinner at the Hairy Lemon.

 

On Thursday we started the day with Mass at Mary Immaculate – Refuge of Sinners, which was a few blocks from our hotel (17-minute Mass start to finish, definitely a record in my books). Lots more exploring of Dublin on foot but the highlight that day was seeing the religious art from the 1200s to the 1800s at the National Gallery of Ireland, in particular a Caravaggio (who is known for his depictions of the Blessed Mother) painting which was on loan to the museum. They had food tents set up in a park that day that included fare from around the world. We ended the night seeing the original Riverdance musical. The dancing, music and singing was unbelievable! It’s a production we’ll always remember.

 

Friday, July 20, saw us on a train to Kilkenny City, the city in which my grandfather was raised. It is such a charming place — it was well worth the trip to get there. Our first stop was the Smithwick’s Tour, which was fun and yes, ended with another round of pints. Afterwards, my cousin Walter picked us up to take us to the farm where our grandfather was born and raised in an area called Windgap. While there I got to meet his parents — my dad’s first cousin Kieran Purcell, who was a national champion hurler back in the day and now raises and trains champion race horses, and his wife JoJo. From there we went to the cemetery where my great-grandparents are buried and met the parish priest. Next to the church was an Old League House, which once served as a home for poor tenant farmers whose land had been confiscated during British occupation of Ireland, St. Kieran’s College, where my grandfather attended high school, Sweeney Todd Barbers, and Matt the Miller pub where we saw the band Wildfire perform one of the best early Beatles sets we’ve ever seen live.

 

The next morning we toured Kilkenny Castle which is a well-preserved castle that depicts life in medieval times. After that we were on a bus to Cork. On the way there we passed through Waterford which is famous for its crystal. In Cork we had the best food of our trip at Coqbull (Avocado BLT Rotisserie Chicken Salad — that chicken was amazing) and The Corn Store where I got the Rosemary & Honey Crème Brulee with Ginger Shortbread (Crème Brulee is a must for me when we travel abroad) and the Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Banana Fritters & Vanilla Ice Cream that John swears is the best dessert (next to my mom’s homemade strawberry rhubarb pie) he’s ever eaten in his life. The night ended with a bang as we were able to secure last-minute tickets to see The Wizard of Oz at the Cork Opera House. They did an awesome job — it was fun hearing their “American” accents.

 

July 22, John got to celebrate his birthday on a bus to Shannon. There’s not much more in that city than the airport, but we did find a nice walking trail around a lake. We were there less than 24 hours as the next day, which happened to be my birthday, we had a plane to catch back to the U.S. The cool thing was, because of the time zone changes as we flew, I got to celebrate my birthday for 30 hours instead of the typical 24, so that made my day extra special!

 

Those two weeks in Ireland were something John and I will always treasure. The Irish people, particularly on the West Coast, were some of the friendliest and most welcoming folks we’ve ever met. The historic sites were spectacular and the views of the ocean were breathtaking. Like Dorothy Gale says, “There’s no place like home.”

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Nine years — pottery or leather? How about true health, the best gift of all!

May was crazy busy as I was finishing writing, copy editing and proofreading the third book in my Heaven Intended series (A Love Such as Heaven Intended, check it out November, 2018), so we didn’t get to properly celebrate the anniversary of our family joining the Enagic Corp / Kangen Water family.

The decision to take our health and the health of our family into our own hands was, to this day, one of the best decisions that John and I have made in our 37 years of marriage. Leading up to our introduction to Kangen Water from Al Carter, the gentleman who wrote the book The Cancer Answer, our lives were completely engulfed in caring for our daughter who was a 2009 Make A Wish child.

We will never be able to thank Al enough for not only introducing us to the concept of Electrolyzed Reduced Water (ERW or Kangen Water, as it is trademarked), but also for having the fortitude to follow up with us until we had enough of our questions answered that we took the step and ordered an Enagic water ionizer for our family.

It turned out not only to be a godsend for our daughter, but this water has changed thousands of lives since we started sharing it with friends, family and acquaintances nine years ago. We had no idea at the time of the workings of medical grade water ionizers, how ERW affects living organisms, or why people saw the results that they did when they started drinking this amazing water. One thing we did know, the technology for restructuring water came from studies done on the world-renowned water in Lourdes, France.

However, since that time, we have learned that the basis of our daughter’s health issues stemmed from oxidative stress (like so many diseases) and that active hydrogen, the major component of the water, eradicates oxidative stress (see PubMed for numerous studies on active hydrogen or electrolyzed reduced water). Active hydrogen eradicates inflammation — so there you have it! This was truly just what the doctor ordered!

Get the book Killing Cancer Not People, it’s an excellent resource and has an entire chapter about ERW and explains why Enagic Corp makes the only water ionizers in the world that create true Kangen Water and are the only ionizers worth investing in.

Do yourself a favor, check out our website, KangenWisconsin.com and if you want to join this “train of compassion,” as our founder Mr. Oshiro says, get in touch with me and we’ll get you set up. Change Your Water, Change Your Life!

Paradise Found

If you have to take a business trip during the dreariest part of early spring, Hawaii is just about the best place on the planet to do that.

 

John and I flew to Oahu April 12 to attend events surrounding the premiere of the movie The Islands, which I co-wrote. This was our first trip to Hawaii and we instantly fell in love with this beautiful state and the beautiful people who live there.

 

We stayed at the Ambassador Hotel which was a five-minute walk from the beach. The hotel has seen better days but with its location a bit off of the main drag, it was really relaxing. We were able to sleep at night with the patio door open (no screens) to catch the ocean breeze. For some reason, there seems to be very few bugs on the island. We had the sweetest older Filipino cleaning lady who brightened our day every time we saw her. (Traveling tip: If you give a tip to your housekeeper at the beginning of your stay, rather than the end, they will be your BFF the entire time you’re staying at their property!)

 

Our first evening in Hawaii we were treated to an awesome dinner at Orchids at Halekulani, courtesy of Tim Chey, the director of The Islands. About a dozen people connected with the film were there and we enjoyed outstanding food and a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean.

 

Escaping the cold Wisconsin weather (and a record-setting blizzard that struck while we were gone), we made a point to walk to the beach every day. After our beach walk Friday we took The Waikiki Trolley Pink Line over to Ala Moana, the largest open air shopping center in the world. We enjoyed window shopping and a lunch there at a Japanese restaurant and we topped off our visit with a tasty bubble tea.

 

That evening we were invited to a cast party for The Islands in Aiea. We met so many wonderful people who were either actors or extras in the film, a part of the crew, or on the production team. Being in the mountain area, we got to witness a torrential downpour which caused some mudslides. We waited out the storm to head back to Waikiki but did experience delays on the trip back as the roads were being cleared from debris.

 

Saturday morning we were treated to a home-cooked breakfast by our friends Cynthia Briganti and her partner Dr. Dale. Cynthia is the top of the top in Enagic Corporation (the company we are distributors for, check out KangenWisconsin.com), so it was quite an honor for them to host us at their hotel. John and I spent the day after that exploring Waikiki Beach on foot. Waikiki is a bustling city with countless places to shop and eat. It’s probably the cleanest city I can remember visiting and it felt very safe to walk around. People refer to it as Las Vegas on an island — the fun keeps going until about 4:00 every morning.

 

That evening was the premiere of The Islands. It was a thrill to walk the red carpet, have our picture taken in front of The Islands banner, and be presented with gorgeous leis. We got to experience this beautiful film with about 1,000 other people. The movie got tremendous feedback from the audience. The Islands is the story of a real life Wonder Woman, Chiefess Kapi’olani, who reigned in Hawaii in the 1800s and performed a legendary act of bravery that ushered in religious freedom to her kingdom. The movie opens nationwide on November 9, 2018. Go see it!

 

Sunday started out for us with 7:00 a.m. Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Honolulu. Then we got to spend a memorable day with Cynthia and Dale exploring Oahu by car. We drove to the North Shore and had numerous stops on the way there and back including Waimea Falls, Old Sugar Mill Waialua Coffee, Valley of the Temples, a hole-in-the-wall open air diner that had delicious pesto Eggs Benedict (best ever!), and a roadside market where we got to enjoy fresh coconut juice served in the shell, homemade banana bread, and fresh fruit native to the island. We finished the afternoon at Max’s Restaurant in Honolulu where we enjoyed a taste of the Philippines, including crispy pata (crispy pork hock), fried rice, pork sinigana soup, and a yummy dessert called halo-halo.

 

Monday morning Cynthia and Dale put their culinary skills to work again on the leftovers and made us another filling breakfast. Afterwards we went with them to the Honolulu Enagic office where they did a presentation on Kangen Water and team building. It was an amazing opportunity to learn from the masters. Cynthia lives her life by the ACTS prayer (adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication) and is one of the most successful, motivated and dynamic people we’ve ever met. To top it off she is a servant leader, generous, and genuine. It was truly a pleasure to spend as much time with her and Dr. Dale as we did.

 

We spent the rest of Monday walking around the beach area and indulged in a manicure and pedicure (for me), a couple’s massage and some excellent gelato at Café Glace. Tuesday and Wednesday we toured Honolulu and spent time absorbing as much of Hawaii and its culture that we could. The highlight was visiting Pearl Harbor. What a moving and memorable site. It made us so grateful for the people who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedom and lifestyle that we live today.

 

No trip to Hawaii would be complete without a luau. They are somewhat commercial but we enjoyed our trip to Paradise Cove. We were greeted with shell necklaces and Mai Tais, enjoyed a hula show before dinner, played some traditional Hawaiian games, watched some demonstrations, had a feast fit for a chief or chiefess, and ended the night with the main hula performance including male and female hula dancers performing dances from various islands, plus a fire dance. I even got to try my hula skills on stage (no video available).

 

Our last night in Waikiki we made the trek to Leonard’s Bakery for malasada — Portuguese donuts, otherwise known as Hawaii’s favorite fried treat. It was totally worth the walk. Other memorable food places on the island were Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, GOOFY Café & Dine (where I got to experience my first ahi tuna poke bowl), and Eggs ‘n Things, where we actually ate twice (the guava and coconut syrups were the perfect topping for waffles and pancakes). We had Dole Whip at the Galleria which was so light and refreshing. I should also mention the Honolulu Cookie Company where we stopped for samples on almost a daily basis before finally buying a box of cookies to take home.

 

One last farewell from Waikiki Beach was a beautiful round of fireworks Wednesday night. I don’t know how they knew I was such a big fan, but thank you! We had prime seating on the balcony of our hotel!

 

Our trip to Hawaii was something we’ll never forget! Even the flights were bearable with all the great movies we finally had time to watch… The Darkest Hour, Casablanca, Wonder, 27 Dresses, The Disaster Artist, and Breathe. The weather in Hawaii is perfect (70-80 degrees every day), I loved all the open air shops and restaurants (with no freezing air conditioning), we got to hear Somewhere Over the Rainbow by IZ Kamakawiw’ole multiple times, I got to ditch my cool-weather wear for sundresses and sandals, we got to see countless tourist families from Japan, China and Australia with their adorable children, had the chance to do earthing by walking barefoot most anywhere and anytime we wanted, we were greeted with the shaka (hang loose) sign more times than we could count, saw the most brilliant rainbows ever, got to experience liquid sunshine several times every day, and most importantly felt welcomed by the friendly and laid back Hawaiian natives.

 

We came home to Wisconsin to see our yard covered in two feet of snow. My day was brightened by the 100 copies of my newest novel, A Life Such as Heaven Intended, which arrived while we were gone.

 

As a gift to our friends and family at home we brought back sunshine and warm temperatures and have been enjoying them ever since. It’s finally spring!

 

We had always heard of the wonders of Hawaii but now that John and I have experienced it for ourselves, we appreciate Hawaii so much more. Aloha Hawaii and mahalo for making us feel so welcome. We look forward to visiting you again!

‘Til the Season Comes Round Again

 

Watching Amy Grant perform “Til the Season Comes ‘Round Again” live with Michael W. Smith and Jordan Smith this past December 15 left tears running down my cheeks. I felt so blessed to be watching that performance in Columbus, Ohio with our three daughters, our son-in-law and our grandson and granddaughter.

 

Normally I may not have had that much of an emotional reaction to a song but that concert represented the beginning of the precious Christmas season with our family and the start of wrapping up 2017 — which was one of the most stressful years of my life.

 

Mind you, there’s good stress and there’s not good stress and I had my share of both of them this past year. On the good side there were the travels John and I took together — Mexico, L.A., San Diego, Columbus, Ohio (multiple times), San Antonio and Austin, Texas, Spring Green, Wisconsin and the birth of our beautiful fourth grandchild, Evelyn on September 7.

 

Then there was the huge updating project on our house which lasted the whole summer and entailed moving the entire household into our basement in June and then back into the main two stories in September. It took countless hours of work and shopping to make the house the industrial country home of my Pinterest dreams.

 

My career had challenges which led to growth and expansion into new endeavors. I had the opportunity to copy edit a movie script and eventually earned billing as the co-writer (check out The Islands when it comes to a theater near you in November, 2018). I copy edited a business book by Cheri Tree called Why They Buy that has turned out to be a best seller. In November I wrote the third book in my Heaven Intended Civil War series (Book #2, A Life Such as Heaven Intended, comes out April 2, 2018).

 

The biggest news in my career is that my first novel, A World Such as Heaven Intended, is under contract to make it into a movie. It’s exciting and surreal to enter the film business as a movie producer. The director, Michael Sajbel, and I are in the process of securing investors for production of the movie and once we hit a certain threshold, everything begins. (If you have an interest in investing — or learning about investing— in a movie that will be engaging, entertaining and profitable, contact me.)

 

On the less-than-stellar stress side, for the past five months we’ve been dealing with physical and mental health issues with my mom. She went from a healthy, active 80-year-old to incapacitated overnight. On August 15 her colon ruptured which led to emergency surgery. The trauma of the surgery, combined with medication and other factors brought on a form of PTSD called hospital delirium. She has been either hospitalized or under 24/7 rehab care for five months.

 

Those months were traumatic not only for her but for me, her primary caregiver, as well. The good news is she is regaining her health, strength and mind. It’s not a quick or easy process. The next step will be bringing her back to her home. We have no idea how that will turn out but we’re very grateful to still have her with us.

 

We’re starting out 2018 with a clean slate and are looking forward to what the year holds for us. We know the highlights will be the time spent with our children, grandchildren, parents, siblings and friends. We’ll have adventures and trials and tribulations (or growth opportunities as we like to say) as well but we’ll take each day one at a time and enjoy the highs and do our best to learn from the lows.

 

For our family and friends, new and old, we can’t really say it any better than Amy Grant did…

“May the New Year be blessed with good tidings, ‘til the next time I see you again. If we must say goodbye, let the spirit go with you, And we’ll love and we’ll laugh in the time that we had, ‘Til the season comes round again.”

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

This past summer and early fall has been one for the books, that’s for sure. John and I did our own personal version of Love It or List It. We decided to update our house top to bottom and bring it from 1993 to 2017. The idea was either we would love the house and stay here or downsize and build an executive ranch in a different part of town.

 

This required moving our entire two-story home into our basement where we dwelt from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend. Overall the project went very well, there were delays here and there and some contractor issues, but as the general contractor I had most things moving along as they should.

 

The goal was to have a Pinterest-worthy modern country industrial farmhouse when we were done. It took a ton of research, shopping online and in local retail stores, pouring over Pinterest pages, consulting with numerous folks in the industry, and a boatload of hands-on work but in end everything turned out even better than we could have imagined.

 

We ended up coming in under budget and under the original timeframe. Just kidding! Like every project on every HGTV home-improvement show, we came in over budget (about double what we estimated) and weeks later than we anticipated.

 

Our summer was spent working every day at our jobs — since I’m self-employed that meant being holed up in the basement day in and day out. BTW, how was the weather this summer? All I could see of the outside was our window wells and some grass. Every night we were either working on projects in the house or yard, or at one of the local hardware stores buying or returning things. (Here’s a shout out to the crew at Menard’s, we were there an average of once a day.)

 

To make it even more interesting, I took on two substantial copy editing jobs early in the summer. So, in addition to writing for two newspapers, educating folks about Kangen water at various events, a big R&D project, attending the CMN convention in Chicago, and taking care of our grandson as needed, I copy edited a business book (with a 48-hour deadline) that has since gone on to be a best seller (check out Why They Buy — it’s a fantastic book for anyone in sales, and really, who isn’t in sales?), and I took on the job of script supervisor for a $40 million movie that is being shot this fall.

 

I was managing to keep all the balls in the air until I got blindsided. My mom had the misfortune of having her colon rupture which required emergency surgery. At 80 years old, she’s one tough cookie. She made it through surgery, spent 10 days in the hospital, then 30 days in post-acute care. Physically she recovered well, but she went into a state of confusion that worsened as the weeks went by.

 

While I thought I’d spend a couple nights with her after she was released until she got acclimated to being on her own again it turned out to be a 24/7 job with me taking care of all of her personal  and medical needs. I had to learn on the spot such things as how to replace an ostomy bag and how to dress an abdominal wound.

 

Two-and-a-half weeks into that I was physically and mentally exhausted. I took my mom back to the ER and she was admitted to the hospital where she spent 10 days undergoing every test in the books to try to figure out what caused the confusion and memory loss. Nothing conclusive was found so it was back to a rehabilitation facility. She’s been there a week now and some days we see glimpses of the real mom and other days are pretty discouraging.

 

My friend sent me a text today that said, “You know the Lord has all the authority, He’s the one in control. Take your hands off it and let Him take care of her. It’s not your will what’s to be done but His. Sometimes we tend to get too much in the way and try to make things our way, not His. It’s hard when we’re used to controlling things and making sure everything is in order. But life is much easier when you take the control off of things.”

 

Like everything that happens in life, there’s a lesson to be learned from this. Maybe that’s it.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

They say if you want something done, give it to a busy person. I’ll attest to that. Our oldest child was 6 when baby No. 4 came along. Having four children in that short of a time span made for a busy life for a full-time mom but I was committed to being an active volunteer not only in our children’s school but in the community as well.

 

As life evolved and the kids got older, I began taking on various jobs that could be worked around my husband’s schedule so that for the most part, one of us could be in charge of the kiddos while the other one was working.

 

I did a brief stint working outside of the home part time when our youngest child entered second grade. Two years later when the business closed its doors, I made the decision to be in charge of my own destiny and work from home as a freelance writer/Jack-of-all-trades.

 

That led to a multi-faceted career which included writing for numerous magazines and newspapers, proofreading for various entities — including a local college, doing product testing for a major corporation, becoming a distributor for a network marketing company, writing product reviews online for big box retailer, copy editing books, acting in commercials and films, writing novels, and my latest foray — script supervisor for a major motion picture.

 

There’s been a lot of press lately about choosing one area in your life or career and giving it your complete, undivided focus if you truly want to succeed in that arena. My husband recently encouraged me to read the book, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.

 

The concept is fantastic and I agree with the premise. The problem for me is that I’m juggling a lot of balls right now but, to be honest, I don’t want to let go of anything at this point. So, what I’m striving to do is to give my undivided attention to the task at hand and to keep in mind each day what my top priorities are.

 

That’s not to say I won’t have several projects I’ll be working on during any given day, it’s just that I am determined to set aside chunks of time to work on the most pressing task, get a few minutes of downtime in between, and then move onto the next project.

 

The struggle lies in staying on task for 45 minutes or an hour on a project. Focusing has been an issue for me — I tend to get bored rather easily. At times it reminds me of The Family Circus cartoon when Billy is sent on an errand by his parents and he keeps getting distracted by the shiny objects. Yup, that’s pretty much me.

 

While I am succeeding in my ventures, chances are I could achieve more in any of these endeavors if it was my absolute focus. Who knows, maybe at some point I’ll push everything aside and devote several months to work on one project. But, for the time being, I’ll keep all these balls up in the air as long as I can. I’m enjoying my life, every day is different, I get to experience all sorts of interesting opportunities and if I’m willing to put the work and the hours in, good things will continue to come my way. Besides, I’ve got a pretty strong competitive nature — if anyone can defy the odds and see major success in more than one area of their life, it will be me. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know how things pan out!

Bring it on 2017!

Today is the Feast of the Three Kings, so we’ll be taking down the Christmas tree and decorations this weekend. (Or in the words of Curtis the elf from Santa Clause 2, “The desantaclausification process has begun!”) My snowmen collection will be rearranged and kept up until the end of February or until the snow’s gone (April? May?).

This is a good time to reflect on 2016 and look forward to 2017. Every year I write a traditional Christmas letter that gets tucked into each Christmas card we send. Some of the highlights noted in this year’s letter include

  • meeting our first granddaughter in Ohio this past January and celebrating her big brother’s 3rd birthday while we were there
  • watching the Super Bowl in Minnesota at our son and daughter-in-law’s house and getting lots of cuddle time with our newborn grandson son
  • celebrating seven years of sharing true health through Kangen water  (KangenWisconsin.com)
  • baptism day for our two youngest grandchildren on Mother’s Day
  • the end of my softball career (thanks to a collision on a softball field with another player that sent me to the ICU for 21 hours with a concussion)
  • getting 4th row seats to see Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in Chicago and getting to meet Mr. Valli backstage after the show!
  • 4th of July visit in Wisconsin with our children and grandchildren
  • traveling to Las Vegas with our two younger daughters and our son for Enagic’s global convention in July where John, Nick and I were honored for rank advancements in the company
  • receiving the  CALA award (Catholic Arts and Letters Award) for my novel A World Such as Heaven Intended — it was the top Catholic young adult novel for 2015-2016
  • having our son, daughter-in-law and grandson move from Minnesota back to Wisconsin — they bought a house less than five miles away from our house!
  • watching the play Wicked in Ohio with our daughters, son-in-law and grandson — it was awesome!
  • celebrating 35 years of marriage to John with a trip to Colorado
  • taking a quick vacation to Galena, Illinois and Dubuque, Iowa
  • completing the NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) challenge and writing the sequel to my book — look for A Life Such as Heaven Intended in book stores and online this spring

As it happens in any given year, there were sad moments too as we lost some people in our lives. But the good definitely outweighed the bad. Now it’s time to look forward to all the promises 2017 holds in store for us.

Unlike most years, I haven’t come up with any New Year’s Resolutions yet. Not sure if I’m going to set any this year, I’m thinking of just working on completing my Top 10 goal list from 2016. Actually, now that I think of it, there’s still some things on the 2015 list I can work on, no need to come up with any new ones! So if all goes well, by the end of 2017 I will weigh less, be able to do one pull up, have run a half marathon, have a new car, rank advance in Enagic to 6A2-2, have two books published, hit the best-seller list on Amazon again, get more involved in church and spend quality time with our family.

Guess I better get going on that! Happy New Year! May 2017 be your best year yet — a year filled with health, happiness and hope!