Resilience Dispatch – August 17th – Day 79

Why I readCan you imagine going through a pandemic without reading books? It’s hard for me to even go there.

Reading is a huge part of my everyday life. As I write my novels, I am also reading them. The editing process is reading the story over and over again and making the changes that will make it the best story I possibly can.

When I am not writing, I also read other books–fiction and nonfiction–and articles. I always read before bed, as well. And I read for all of the reasons shown in this cartoon. Not so much the last panel until more recently.

Books are constant companions. As constant as my four-legged family. They are something I count on every day. Touchstones that remind me who I am, and what I am exploring. Every book I read is like a diary entry. They document my journey as an inquisitive, creative person.

What about you? Why do you read? What is your favorite type of book? Feel free to share your thoughts on reading.

Stay safe. Be kind.


Read the previous dispatch here.

Resilience Dispatch – August 14th – Day 78

decideAs our world becomes more chaotic, there has never been a better time to seek clarity.

Clarity about what our values are.

Clarity about who and what gives us energy, and who and what costs us energy. Then deciding how to let go of as much of the stuff that costs us as we can, because we need our energy for better things.

Clarity about what is important to us. Not the things that we think SHOULD be important to us, or OUGHT to be important to us, but the things that truly are.

Now is the time to decide how you want to spend the rest of your life. What do you want to pursue? Kindness? Good health? Compassion? Love for your neighbors? Art and beauty? Deeper spirituality? Social justice? All of the above? Something else?

Now is the time to seek clarity on what gives your life meaning, and then to let go as much as you can of the stuff that DOESN’T give your life meaning.

Now is the time for self-reflection, for sitting with your thoughts, for asking yourself the questions that have been standing in line in the back of your mind for years, waiting for you to notice them.

Now is the time to get to know yourself better. NOT the evidence you’ve collected over the years to prove how unworthy you are and how you don’t measure up. We all collect that stuff, and it is useless in crucial times like these.

Instead, this is the time to discover the wonderful and good and creative and precious parts of yourself. The parts that you haven’t made time for. The parts that would enrich your life if you were to let them in.

In our history, there has never been a better time to seek clarity. Decide where you go from here.

Stay safe. Stay steady. Be kind.


P. S. In case you aren’t aware, Meredith Grey is the fictional main character from the TV series Grey’s Anatomy. A reminder of the power of story and fiction!

Read the previous dispatch here.

Resilience Dispatch – August 10th – Day 77

Gullah Secrets audiobook awardWill you help me celebrate?

Life can be monotonous and challenging these days, so it’s important to celebrate every chance we get. Celebrations can be about all manner of things: watching a sunrise, a glorious sunset, seeing a friend or family member that you haven’t seen for a while. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Getting through a rough day, and so on. Celebrations remind us that we are alive and (hopefully) thriving.

With that in mind, I am delighted to announce that the audiobook version of my novel, Gullah Secrets, won the top prize in the general fiction category of the 2020 Independent Audiobook Awards on June 12. (You may have already heard about this if you subscribe to my newsletter.)

Gullah Secrets is performed by the amazing Holly Adams, who has recorded several of my books. (She is great with southern voices!) Due to COVID, the ceremony was held virtually, so this little trophy arrived in the mail recently.

Gullah Secrets is the sequel to Temple Secrets, and as many of you already know, I am currently writing a third and final book to this story. It is still in the beginning stages, but stay tuned.

Thanks so much for reading my books and for celebrating this honor with me. Be kind. Be well. Celebrate!


P. S. You can even listen to the Gullah Secrets audiobook at no charge with a 30 day free trial on Audible (you can cancel before the end of your 30 days if you want): Gullah Secrets on Audible


P. S. Thanks to my friend John Popiel for this wonderful photograph of the award.

Read the previous dispatch here.

Resilience Dispatch – August 7th -Day 76

VioletsLife bursts through the cracks even in the most difficult of environments. Because we are living beings with an imperative to survive and express ourselves, we are much more resilient than we realize. But that doesn’t mean challenging times are easy, by any means, and it is important to acknowledge the difficulties.

For those of you who feel like sharing, how are you holding up? Are you weary? Struggling? At ease? Grateful? Everything in between? Considering the current crises going on, it is perfectly normal to have a variety of feelings on any given day.

For those of you who have a more private nature, perhaps ask yourself this question. And then really, really listen to your answer. Respond accordingly. Be gentle with yourself. Throw yourself a kiss in the bathroom mirror. Give yourself a few kind words and a hug. Or all of the above. Respond in loving ways even if it feels silly. Sometimes being silly lessens the struggle…

In the meantime, may we all be flowers bursting through the sidewalk. Resilient. Beautiful. Hardy. Uncrushable.


(Thank you to my friend, Susan P., for taking and sharing this photograph with me. 💙)

Read the previous dispatch here.

Resilience Dispatch – July 31st – Day 74

A diaryDid you keep a diary when you were growing up? Or do you keep one now? Or perhaps you prefer a journal. They are considered synonyms, but there are also clear differences.

A diary is considered a daily summary of the happenings in your life. Some people make multiple entries in a day. Others choose to write one diary entry at the end of the day summarizing all of the day’s events.

Journals, on the other hand, may be on a more profound emotional level. Many people use their journals as a tool to look into their lives, to assess where they are, or to see how they can improve their life, sometimes on a daily basis. It’s like having a therapist in a notebook that you can carry around with you. Journals are frequently used for self-expression and self-improvement, while diaries are not usually used this way.

Many people are keeping quarantine journals these days. I have one, and write in it periodically, but I haven’t been keeping it up with any regularity. I already write a lot on any given day!

I invite you to tell us about your diary/journal experience, whether in the past or currently.

Stay safe. Be kind.


P.S. For those of you who are interested in my progress on Violet’s Tea Shop (the 3rd and final book of the Temple trilogy), I am on page 204 of a very rough draft. My novels are usually around 300 pages, and I usually have about 5 drafts before it is sufficiently polished. So, I am making some very good progress. Earliest it will be ready is 2021, but that’s just around the corner. Thank you for your patience!

Read the previous dispatch here.

Resilience Dispatch – July 27th – Day 73

Today I’m posting a 38 second video of a doe and a fawn that have been hanging around my yard here in the mountains of North Carolina. One of the good things that has come out of this pandemic and sheltering in place is that I have been more aware of nature’s awesome beauty around me. I love where I live, and I feel grateful every day.

It is easy to think that what happens to us as humans is the most important thing. But in the natural world, things continue on as they always have. Or appear to, anyway. I find this reassuring.

What about you? What have you seen lately that reminds you of nature’s awesomeness? (If you are seeing this on my Facebook author page, feel free to post a photo of something in your yard or a place you’ve been.)

Have a good week! Stay safe. Be kind.


Read the previous dispatch here.

Resilience Dispatch – July 24th – Day 72

firefly lightning bug map

Fireflies or lightning bugs? When I was growing up in Tennessee, we always called them lightning bugs, and I still call them that. Here in the mountains of North Carolina where I now live, they appear every evening as the sun is setting. I love watching them light up the forest.

In the United States, glowing insects are known as “fireflies” or “lightning bugs” depending on where you live.

“Firefly” is the more common term in the West and New England, while people in the South and most of the Midwest tend to say “lightning bug.”

In Japan, fireflies are revered and considered the dead souls of warriors.

Even though fireflies put on a pretty great light show, it’s not just for entertainment. The flashing of their light is how they communicate with each other – especially for courtship rituals. Males flash to let the ladies know they’re looking for love… and the females respond with flashes to say they’re interested.

An Apache legend tells of a trickster Fox who tries to steal fire from the firefly village. To accomplish this, he fools them and manages to set his own tail on fire with a piece of burning bark. As he escapes the firefly village, he gives the bark to Hawk, who flies off, scattering embers around the world, which is how fire came to the Apache people. As punishment for his deception, the fireflies told Fox that he would never be able to use fire himself.

Depending on what part of the country you’re in, you may have grown up calling it a candlefly, firebob, firebug, glowworm, jack-o-lantern, lamp bug, or will-o’-the-wisp.

Did you have lightning bugs or fireflies when you were a kid? Do you have them now?

Have a good weekend! Stay safe. Be kind.


Read the previous dispatch here.

Resilience Dispatch – July 20th – Day 71

little girl paintingBe creative. Once a day. Always. There has never been a better time than now.

Find a way to express the potential inside you. Journal. Draw. Sing. Dance. Photograph. Doodle. Paint. When you do these creative acts, the little girl or little boy inside will perk up and take notice. She will be more content as a result. Less agitated. Less lost. More playful. More joyful. At peace.

Remember her. Remember the things she enjoys. Remember what it was like to build forts, sing songs, pull wagons.

Now is the time to let her play in the privacy and safety of your home.

Now is the time to let her bake cookies and spend time with you.

Now is the time to reassure her that everything is okay.

Now is the time to promise to keep her safe.

Now is the time to tell her that these scary times won’t last forever,
that you haven’t forgotten her,
that you love her very much.

Now is the time to be creative.

Creativity isn’t about perfectionism. Perfection is a bunch of baloney. Kids know this. Who cares if you think you can’t draw. Who cares if you think you have nothing to write. Who cares if you think paints are messy. Do it anyway. Make up a song. Write a really bad poem. Read a story aloud to yourself. Laugh at your goofiness.

Be creative. Once a day. Always. There has never been a better time than now.


Read the previous dispatch here.

Resilience Dispatch – July 17th – Day 70

Dog in thundershirtHave you heard of doomscrolling? It’s a new word for me, and if I’m not careful, I can find myself doing it. According to Merriam-Webster:

”Doomscrolling and doomsurfing are new terms referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back.”

It is human nature to want to keep ourselves safe, and sometimes in an attempt to do that we take in too much information. Our bodies aren’t meant to take in a lot of bad news. And the bad news coming at us isn’t just about COVID. It’s also about the economy, racism, job losses, politics, climate change, you name it.

Not only does all this bad news stress us out and cause symptoms in our bodies, it also causes fear, depression, anger, and resentment. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I need in my life right now.

So what can we do besides wear our thundershirts? If you’re interested, here’s a recent article in the New York Times that gives some suggestions for curtailing doomscrolling:

Some of the suggestions call for cutting back on the news by limiting the amount of time that we scroll. Perhaps setting a kitchen timer for 10 minutes. Other suggestions include limiting our scrolling to certain times of the day, and maybe only a couple of times a day.

Another suggestion was from Sharon Salzberg:

Take some breaths and think about the people who have helped you in the past. This could be your friends, colleagues and even the restaurant workers bagging your takeout food.
While imagining these people, give them positive wishes. For example: “May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be safe. May you be healthy.”

“You’re gift-giving,” Ms. Salzberg said. “It’s a different way of relating and not feeling isolation.”

Consider limiting the amount of doomscrolling you do thoughout the day. Maybe even take the weekend off. That’s what I’m going to do.

How can you stop yourself from watching or reading too much news? Do you have any strategies to share with us?

In the meantime, may you be peaceful.


Read the previous dispatch here.

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