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When you are a caregiver for two years and your mother passes away, it is nearly impossible to get in the mindset to write a children's picture book. My heart has been so heavy that I could not connect to my inner child.

I was a writer... who could not write.

I decided to put BITC and sit at the kitchen table, fingers on the keys and wait for something to happen. The wind chimes twinkled out the window, the birds flitted and sang. My husband popped his head in, kissed my cheek and asked how I was doing. The oven clock ticked away the minutes while my brain searched. Nothing. Not a word. Nada.

"Focus!" I told myself, "You can do this. You are a writer!"

I sat there a while longer totally blank. Then I remembered a little poem I had started on a torn piece of paper for Vivian Kirkfield's #50PreciousWords contest, about a boy who refused to eat his vegetables. It might be a start, I thought. I walked into my office and pulled out the "Poems in Progress"folder where I had tucked it away. Sure enough, the raw first beginnings of something that had gone nowhere.

Opening up a Word doc, I began typing in my scratch. There. Done. I stared at the words.

After a few anxious minutes, ever so silently, drip by tender drip, my brain began to open up the flow. What is the flow you ask? My writer friends reading this are smiling, as they know the very rare feeling well. It felt to me as if the words that had been bunched up against my exhausted grieving wall, now had a crack to flow through. Random thoughts stirred in my head, one leading to another. I found myself letting the hardness go. Words were added, reshuffled and changed again. Soon I was giggling as I read the stanzas out loud.

Over the next few hours, twoTWO first drafts poured out onto the pages.

When I finished a draft a few years ago before my mother's illness. I would call her excitedly and ask her if she had a few minutes to listen to my new story. With out hesitation, she would say, "Yes! Hold on a sec while I grab my coffee and pull up a chair." This small act of dropping everything, giving me her total focus and support was a gift that my beautiful daughter Erica Leigh gave me yesterday in her stead.

And so, this rainy Sunday, I will go to church and thank God for the gift of words he has given me and for day by day healing a little more of my heart. I am rediscovering Cathy again. And it feels good. May the flow keep flowing. :)

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You Are the Map!

On this day during National Poetry month, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite poems.

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference.

I follow Jess Keating, an author, cartoonist, zoologist, and creative coach. I LOVE her newsletter as it always has a gem. Today's opening article really struck a chord with me- The Time I Almost Screwed it All Up (A quick story about how I got here, in hopes that it might help you accept the wild, unyielding parts of yourself, too)

I highly recommend subscribing here and reading it.

You might know someone who could use her message.

"And you should also know that, if you’ve ever felt like you don’t fit, you’re not alone.

But you were never meant to fit.

You're too original, too multi-faceted and brilliant and full of creative power.

You don't need to fit. You need to look to your mountaintops.

It’s okay to love what you love, and build a life using all of it. The only signposts you need are the ones built by your own intuition, and the minute you start to feel constrained by someone else’s valley, just know:

The mountaintop is always there for you.

You aren’t all over the map.

You are the map."

I think our society conditions us to think that after we graduate high school we MUST go to college and somehow know EXACTLY what we want to do with our lives. Some people do, most do not. For some, it is a lifetime of trying different things or heading toward that one vocation, that one goal. For some of us, it is about the journey.

I was blessed to have a husband who worked hard for our family and enabled me to try different careers at different times during my life. When the kids were little, being a licensed daycare provider allowed me to stay home with them. As they got into school, getting up at

4 a.m. to be the opening manger for a bakery and being home when they got off the bus, fit in well. And so it went. Each stage brought new challenges and opportunities that I fit into my life.

Over the last 40 years, I have been:

  • A check sorter/ bank statement mailer

  • Sales person and night manager at assorted retail jobs (Crate & Barrel, Fabric Place to name a few)

  • Opening Manager at Bakery on the Common

  • Licensed Daycare Provider for 6 little ones

  • Custom Cake decorator

  • A seamstress sewing wedding attire, drapes and bedding

  • License and Trademark Administrator for TJX. Cos

  • Director of Religious Education/ Confirmation coordinator at St. Mary's

  • Editorial coordinator at Charlesbridge Publishing

  • A mural artist

  • and currently... an author.

For my job tracking licenses and paying monthly fees for TJX Co.s, I moved into it, not with a CPA degree, but with cumulative experience gained from many other administrative positions I had held. This housewife from Holliston got to travel to Hong King and London, something I could never have imagined. Sometimes a new opportunity will present it self in the most unexpected moments.

It isn't always a straight path to find your career. You may even be like me and have MANY things you do throughout your life. I am the writer I am today because of all these experiences, and I would not have missed any of them for the world.

What kind of winding road have you taken?

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When my father, a 'Type A' manger who was used to always being in control, was having a hard time with a diagnosis that turned his world upside down, I was at a loss for words. What could I say that expressed how I felt, and not be too emotional tripping over my words?

Since the written word is where I find inspiration, I sought out some books to send to him.

It turns out, there are many picture books that will help you tell your special someone what is in your heart.

Here are a few of my favorites:

"It was on top of the world when it happened.

Its entire life changed with the switch of a button."

Bug in a Vacuum

by Mélanie Watt

This heartwarming story takes the reader through The Kübler- Ross five stages of grief: denial, bargaining, despair, anger and acceptance. When a fly is sucked into a vacuum, all will relate to their world changing and trying to make it through the darkness. It ends on a hopeful note which was perfect for my father. Yes, he probably thought I was crazy...but in the end, it really touched his heart. It has just enough childlike fun in the illustrations to be at a kid's level and deep enough for any adult. Highly recommend.

"But that's only half the story... Because I decided to get back up.

And when I did, something amazing happened."

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again

by Dan Santat

It was a brilliant idea Dan Santat had, to let us know what happened after this famous incident. The unexpected ending will make your heart soar. Inspiration for anyone afraid to take the next step in life, work. college, whatever!

"But one day, the unthinkable happened."

The Rough Patch

by Brian Lies

Brian Lie's amazing illustrations take us on a journey from hopelessness to hope. Tender and heartfelt, you can feel the emotion on every page. His use of shadows and white space evoke deep feelings for the reader. It is a great book to share with children when they encounter their first real losses in life and may need to talk about it.

"What is the bravest thing you've ever said?" asked the boy.

"Help," said the horse.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

by Charlie Mackesy

This book is a must have. A delicious gift for nearly every occasion you can think of. The beautiful pen and ink hand drawn illustrations and lettering feel like you are getting a peek inside someone's private journal where they write their deepest thoughts. While the book can be taken as a whole, each page stands alone and makes you ponder how this author can say so much in so few words. Every age will take away something at their own level. Amazing!

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A Little Bit of This & That

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