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Let’s face it. There are a lot of things in this world that need to be fixed! Only sometimes the problems seem so big I have no idea how I can make a difference. I donate, I volunteer, but lately I’ve come to understand that the biggest impact I can make is being a conscientious consumer. I really should know where my food, clothing, and everyday purchases come from because I could be contributing to the very same problems I want to help solve.

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Why March?

A wise kindergarten teacher taught this lesson every January. She would gather her students to play a game. Then she would have them look at their shoes. She’d tell them if they had any blue or red on their shoes they weren’t allowed to play the game. They had to sit and watch. Of course, the students that had blue and red on their shoes got very upset. The teacher would introduce a picture book about Rosa Parks or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and read the story to the children. They’d discuss how it felt to be excluded, not accepted, not equal. Then everyone was welcome to join in on the game.

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Will everything be okay?

I don’t know.

Will the hate grow stronger?

I don’t know.

Why can’t people see the hearts of others who are different from them?

I don’t know.

Why is money worth more than life?

I don’t know.

Why is it easier to show anger than compassion?

Because compassion is the greatest strength of all. Compassion requires someone to look beyond themselves, see the suffering of another, and do what is right despite fear.

Will you act with compassion and not stay silent when you see another suffering?

Yes.

I will.

While perusing Facebook, I clicked on an Upworthy video people were sharing. It basically had kids telling teachers to understand how to meet their needs. One child needed to walk around the room, another learned better by rocking in his chair, they each were spouting off as if teachers had no idea that children learn in unique ways. Anger bubbled up inside me. I couldn’t fully understand why, so I went outside to work in my yard and contemplate the video and my emotional response to it. After all, I’m not a teacher anymore, and I’ve always been an advocate for multiple intelligences and reaching students through their learning styles. There was a time when I had one of my fourth-grade students walk around the room while she read because it helped her focus.

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It’s called procrastination. Not really. Well…. I’ll write more about it later.

I write most every day I’m not on vacation. I find the more I write the more ideas and words flow. I’m a believer in the notion that if you don’t use it you lose it. Who knows… maybe I’m wrong but I’m not willing to take a break and see. I’ve exercised long enough to understand that a week away from the gym causes great anxiety at the thought of returning and sore muscles afterward. Writing, like exercising, is part of my day. I enjoy it. Keeping the habit keeps me sane—as sane as any writer can be. After all, I spend a good portion of my time with imaginary characters.

My day begins with a cup of coffee and meditation or journaling. I read positive quotes or passages from inspirational books and visualize what I want to accomplish. Starting out this way helps erase the ever flowing to-do list in my mind. Then I get a second cup of coffee and that’s when the procrastination process begins. I check email, Facebook, email again, Pinterest, get a snack, a glass of water– take a deep breath and begin writing. Sometimes I have to play a little game with myself. I’m just going to write a first paragraph. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good…I’m just going to get it down. I can edit later. Usually, it works and within ten minutes I’m typing away. Two hours can feel like four. Just kidding, hours fly by and when I finish I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be able to pursue my dream job.

The greatest challenge for me this year has been dividing my time between my novel, blog posts, publishing ELLE & BUDDY and learning how to market my books. Even if I spend hours on a post I’ll still feel as though I haven’t accomplished enough if I don’t write or edit a few pages of my novel.

One of the best parts of being a writer is learning from, and working with, professionals in the field. I have a wonderful editor who continues to guide me. I can’t wait for her to read my new young adult romance. I’ve had the honor of working with, Muza Ulasowski, a talented illustrator, on our picture book ELLE & BUDDY. We’ve been collaborating for two years. It’s awesome having a partner who cares about a project as much as I do. Recently, I’ve met a publicist and a web designer who are excited to help me get my books out into the world. I’m very grateful for their help.

Well, it’s time for me to stop procrastinating and get to work on my novel… right after I check Facebook.

One day a picture on Facebook caught my eye. It was of a giant dog with big floppy ears. The picture was taken by our friend, a photographer, for our local shelter. The caption under the picture said that Buddy was the calmest dog he’d ever met. I didn’t really want another dog, we already had two…but there was something about Buddy.

When we called the shelter we were told Buddy had already found a home. Then two weeks later we received a call. Buddy had been brought back to the shelter. Excited, we hurried over to adopt him. When they found out we had stairs in our home they told us it wasn’t safe for Buddy. He was too large for stairs. Again we were disappointed. Still, I had a feeling that Buddy belonged with us. I waited.

A few weeks later we received another call. Buddy had been moved to a different shelter. Right away we went to visit him. July of 2012 Buddy came home with us.

Buddy made himself right at home. He figured out how to open doors and we discovered how much he loved string cheese! Buddy followed me everywhere. His calm nature showed love to everyone he met.

Oh, the drool! I carried rags with me wherever we went. I had hand sanitizer stashed all over the house. When we rode in the car drool would fly out the window and stick to my car seats. I spent many hours cleaning up after him. I didn’t mind one bit.

I wrote ELLE & BUDDY right after he came to live with us. I didn’t know it at the time that Buddy wouldn’t be around to see his book.

Unfortunately, only seventeen months after he joined our family Buddy was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We did all we could to save him. We had to say goodbye on January 5, 2014.

Buddy was a blessing to our family. He’s greatly missed. His memory lives on in, ELLE & BUDDY. He’ll always be my special Buddy.