Trying to Stay Positive

Hi, everyone! I hope you’re well and that you have what you need and that someone in the world is able to find some toilet paper, because I sure can’t! Regardless, I’m grateful to have a job I can do from home, and that my family is healthy and staying safe.

I’m trying to focus on positives. My goal this year is to fill that Positive Jar on the bookshelf in my writing room, no matter how small those positives might be. Although at times it’s not so easy. Like this little episode I had recently. Maybe some of you can relate.

I go out for my daily walk around my neighborhood. I see a folded-up flyer tucked under the flag on my mailbox. All I can read is the word “Power.” Because coronavirus, I decide to leave it for the moment and pick it up when I get the mail on my way home. Bring in mail, put it on the side table by the front door, sort it out, wash my hands.

Still, as I walk, I can’t help but fixate on the content of the flyer. It’s like an itch in my brain I can’t scratch. Of course it must mean that Central Hudson, our electric company, will be pruning trees in the area, which they often do during this time of the year. This must be the same basic notice I received a couple of years ago, that they will be cutting power to our street during a specified period so they can get this work done safely.

I am instantly on alert, flashing red. Intellectually, and with my better self, I know that this is a good service they will be performing. They are cutting back the limbs that could bring down power lines during spring storms. A small sacrifice now for the greater good. I should be grateful that they’re doing this work, and believe me, part of me is. A very small part. Maybe a handful of cells are rowing this boat. Then the other and much larger of my brain takes over. THIS IS THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME TO CUT OUR POWER. I work from home. I need my computer. I need my internet. I need those hours. My husband is also home, and without his modern devices, trust me when I say that he is not a happy man. Then I think of my neighbors. Everyone with their stocked refrigerators and full freezers, their preciously gathered food going bad.

My steps quicken. I want to call the electric company and give them a piece of my mind. By this time, my neck is so tense that my jaw muscles are going numb. My back is tight and there’s a knot in my chest. When my walk is over, I am literally storming toward that mailbox. I pluck out the flyer and open it and read.

Power…washing.

It’s for a local business, offering deals on their power washing services.

At the bottom of my driveway, holding that crimped flyer in my hand (that I will be washing the moment I get inside), I start to laugh. At the time, I was laughing at my own leap to the worst conclusion—a trip my mind all too frequently makes. But looking back, I’m grateful that I was able to laugh at something. May there be more moments of laughter in the future.

How are you doing?

 

Happy New Year and Some Book News

Hi, everyone,

Based on a meme my neighbor shared a couple of years ago, I started an experiment. Some of you might have seen my “Positive Jar” on social media, and if not, here’s a photo.

It works like this: Starting at the beginning of the year, write down good things that happen in your life, big and small, and put them in the jar. Then on New Year’s Day, read them all. The unveiling is kind of fun—a little bonding exercise with my husband—and a reminder that while doom and gloom does exist, there is also good. Sometimes where you least expect it.

This past year came with a lot of challenges. Car trouble. Household repairs. Loved ones going through tough times. Headlines that made me want to run to my doctor for a prescription for Xanax. But in a lot of those negative events, I found lessons or silver linings. A flashing engine light came on right near a service station that has since become my “go-to” place for car problems. A broken air conditioning unit on the hottest day of the year led to meeting the owner of a small HVAC company…that also repaired our furnace for not very much money. (After another company tried to fix it twice but failed.) You get the picture. Each adversity I overcame made me feel a little stronger.

In my writing life, I also had challenges. For the last couple of years, I’ve been working on a novel that’s different than anything I’ve ever published. I’ve written action/adventure before, but never anything dystopian. Never anything that takes place in the future. I’d fallen in love with the idea, a wonderful bit of therapy for me, but I fretted if it was tenable, or if anyone would want to read it. Finally, “Finished novel!” went into the jar. So did the positive feedback I’d gotten from several early readers and my editor.

Cover of The Kitchen Brigade
Cover photo by Art Husband!

The Kitchen Brigade takes place in an increasingly isolationist United States, embroiled in civil war. Russia, one of America’s few remaining allies, has sent peacekeeping troops—but they’re doing everything except keeping the peace. Attempting to get through this war is a brigade of female chefs forced to cook for a Russian general occupying New York’s Hudson Valley. But the women may be serving up trouble as well as five-star meals. If it’s true that an army travels on its stomach, can a cook find a way to win the war?

I’m excited to tell you I’ll be publishing the novel in January. You can read more about it here.

Happy New Year to all of you and the best of everything in 2019. May your positive jars be full!