Friday, March 22, 2019


The “It” is destroying us!


Have you ever wanted something so bad, you could taste it, smell it, even touch it?  You think about it constantly. You become envious of those who already have it. You imagine that the others may have achieved it through underhanded means, or  that they are just smarter and more educated than you.  You begin to wonder if you are chasing rainbows. Maybe you should just forget it. Give up the quest.  We’ve all been guilty of wanting “it” so much that “it” drives us crazy.

The “IT” is on the rise and destroying us.  The "IT" which I am referring to  is not the evil Pennywise the clown preying on our children, although the new trend I am about to talk about  is affecting our children as well as us.

A Gallup poll reported that 8 in 10 Americans are afflicted by stress. Only 17% say they rarely feel stressed, while just a scant 4% say they never feel stressed.
These statistics have given rise to what the folks at Thrive Global.com has described as   an “Anxiety Economy,” and an “I’ll try anything culture.”


Here are just a few top selling proposed solutions to deal with stress on the market which are becoming the rave.




Prescription Drugs, CBD Oil, Meditation, Acupuncture, Weighted Blankets, or Lavender Lotion. 






Not only are we stressed about our jobs, children, money and love, but we also are suffering from a term the folks at Thrive Global.com have coined, “The Calmivore’s Dilemma. The Calmivore’s Dilemma is our increasingly stressful search for CALM, to help us overcome our exhaustion, inefficiency, insomnia, and irritability as well as, heart disease and compromised immune systems — all side effects of stress.

In life nothing remains the same. Adapting to change, even though we may not welcome the shift, is our only guarantee of maintaining a contented and happy life without stress. We have all been there, thinking everything is running smooth. You got this complicated thing called ‘the meaning of life’ all figured out. You are walking around with your head held way up high. Life is good.

And then, suddenly, something fools you, hits you, really takes you by surprise.  And it has your whole world shook up.  No, I’m not saying it’s the “Love Bug,” which George Strait sings about …. usually it is something not as pleasant and exciting.

 I am referring to incidences sometimes as simple as a flat tire which makes you late for an important meeting or a bad test grade which threatens your grade point average. But, even falling in love can be stressful.

So, how do you adapt? How do you change  your focus?  Our brain’s function is to keep us comfortable and safe, so change is never easy.  I am a stubborn, bullheaded Taurus, who wants what she wants, exactly when she wants it and I don’t give up easily.

I am stubborn, opinionated and want what I want when I want it and I am not prone to giving up. Whether my tenaciousness is inherent or borne of my opinionated single-mindedness, when I cling to this attitude, I create unbearable stress for myself.


So, what is the answer?

Get healthy, get honest and get humble.

Exercise.Most of us know that working out is the most effective stress reliever. Not only does it benefit us physically but also mentally by increasing our serotonin levels. If we get moving, we can’t help but feel better, even though the dynamics of our situation may not change.

 I am not a health nut. I abhor the gym. I consider it stinky, sweaty, and claustrophobic. As I watch all the young, tight-assed gals, with their tied-up pony tails, their ear buds, staring into nothingness, and clutching their bottle of Pellegrino, the place leaves me feeling not good enough.



The male tight-butts do not ease my inferior feelings because I imagine them leaving the gym and rushing to their mani-pedi appointments.

  I work out in the privacy of my motor home.  I stay flexible with a 40 minute yoga routine, which I may or may not do every day. Minimally, I stretch through the routine about 2-3 times a week.

  I also walk or hike.  I am not a fanatic, I don’t shoot for 10,000 steps, but the RV lifestyle offers plenty of opportunities to walk or hike. Sometimes it is only walking to the trash bin which they always at the far corner of a campground while other times there is always a local easy, scenic hiking trail nearby.
To feel good, I need to get off the couch.

Get honest. When I was young, and even more hard headed, I thought I knew all the answers.  I recall a time in my life describing my dissatisfaction about my single status to a couple celebrating fifty years of marital bliss. I asked them to what they attributed the longevity of their marriage.

 “You each have to give 100%.” They said.  I also remember hearing my mind’s door slamming shut. I had to be honest. I didn’t want a relationship bad enough to make the sacrifice. Today I make certain that what I want, I want bad enough to get off the couch and sacrifice my comfortable lifestyle.

Be humble. A lifestyle without humility is packed with stress. The attitude requires a constant effort to prove, not only to yourself but also others, that you are great.  Becoming humble cannot be  achieved if you’ve pulled it off.    When I was young, I knew all the answers. My way was the only way. I only learned the limitations of my attitude by falling off my high horse and failing. Only then did I discover there just might be at least a different way if not a better way…. if I get back up and don’t give up.

So, here’s the secret. Get off the “feel-sorry-for-myself couch.”  Stave off the stress with exercise and pump up the serotonin.  Be honest with yourself. How badly do you want what you want? Making changes requires effort. Lofty goals mean long term sacrifices.  Be humble.

 We all will fail along the way. A baby falls many times learning to walk. The child doesn’t need Prescription Drugs, CBD Oil, Meditation, Acupuncture, Weighted Blankets, or Lavender Lotion. He may cry, but he struggles back up on wobbly legs and tries again.  A toddler isn’t motivated by what he should do, but only by an inner, innate drive to reach for a better way than crawling.

Those desires…. and we all have them… those stubborn, “want-what-you-want desires” that will seem too  far away  to be possible…
 Those dreams are a gift  from the universe, God, or whoever or whatever you acknowledge  that is bigger and more powerful than yourself… a place connected to your heart that knows everything and knows you are capable.…… if you stay healthy, honest and humble.







ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
Judy Howard

The death of Judy Howard’s husband gave the author a wake up call. Life is short. Howard sold her pet grooming business, which she had operated since the age of eleven and engaged full throttle into her new passions of writing and traveling.

Judy Howard’s writing career expands across many genres, including memoir, romantic mystery, reality fiction, travel and young adult, and now with THE GRIEVING GIFT, an autobiographical novel.

In all of Howard’s books the theme is always the same - overcoming life’s difficulties.

Judy lives full-time in her Winnebago motorhome with her cat, Sportster,   traveling across the country as a motivational speaker and offering writing seminars.

When Judy and Sportster are not traveling, they spend their time in Sun City, California.





THE GRIEVING GIFT
 an autobiographical novel

Janice’s older sister, Margaret, wanted to believe that the L.A. doctors at Cedars Sinai Medical Center held a magical deck of cards, but after eight years of treatment they dealt their final card. The Hospice card. No miracles for Margaret. Janice reassures her big sister she will be there, holding her hand every step of the way.



On a death watch, you get to know things about a person you wish you didn’t. It is like a roller coaster ride. And like most rides, it brings us back to the place we began, reminding us of who we were and who we have become.



The twists and turns of Janice’s emotional journey transports her back through the repercussions of her teen pregnancy and into the present estrangement from her daughter, whom she has not heard from for the last sixteen years.



Coming to terms with the grief of losing her sweet Margaret, and dealing with her fear of a lonely future is too much for Janice to imagine. When Margaret’s soul goes to rest in L.A. heaven, how will Janice face the emptiness? Will there be such a thing as a Grieving Gift?

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.





Oh, and don’t forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep writers motivated.

USEFUL LINKS 

Other books by Judy Howard: JUDY’S AMAZON  AUTHOR  PAGE


Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.






Safe travels!
                   

































Monday, March 11, 2019

It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood!



I discovered   a time machine!   What? No!
It doesn’t send me back in time. The device doesn’t transport me to the future either.   My new breakthrough has propelled me into a realm in which few people choose to go, and if they do, they rarely stay. It is called …. The Present.


When I live in The Present, I reside in a neighborhood in which time seems to stand still and yet passes unawares. I call it THE EDGE.

Stepping up to THE EDGE with both feet makes it impossible to   focus on yesterday’s   should haves, would haves, or could haves. With my feet planted firmly in the ‘right now,’ my toes curling around THE EDGE, there is  no room for me to consider the what ifs or the questions of when or how.



Years ago, after I rescued Sportster, I became intrigued with his “neighborhood of the woods.”   Every day he showed me how beautiful a day could be within his stomping grounds. I imagined him singing Mr. Rogers’ song, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  Won’t you please be my neighbor?  Would you be mine?”   He didn't sleeep bothered by his past, nor did he worry about what his may future hold. I never  observe him lying awake worrying about whether he is “good enough.”

As I travel more, I have become aware of Mother nature’s neighborhood, in which Sportster’s is  only a suburb. Mother nature holds the past in her tree bark and the future in the desert’s blossoms. She stands before me, silent and self-assured. She cannot talk but her gestures are grand.  Mother nature just IS.   


Living in nature’s neighborhood, I can embrace the unending rhythm her ocean’s breathing and float with her drifting sands. Like Sportster on a sleepy Sunday morning, I can let go of time.  And like magic, time becomes bountiful.

Are you ready? Hop into your own time machine. Press the “on button” labeled ‘Let Go.”

 Plug in! Fire up! Absorb  the powerful energy of nature’s mountain ranges,   the dominion of the waterfalls,
or the vast landscapes of the desert.


 Hang on!  The enchanting ride will transport you   into the bewitching realm of unlimited time. You may feel small and vulnerable -- a stranger in their neighborhood, but if you stay for a while, you will burst with a unique power in  which all the money in the world cannot buy, nor can all the powers of governments take away.


“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Won’t you please be my neighbor? …”
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The death of Judy Howard’s husband gave the author a wake up call. Life is short. Howard sold her pet grooming business, which she had operated since the age of eleven and engaged full throttle into her new passions of writing and traveling.

Judy Howard’s writing career expands across many genres, including memoir, romantic mystery, reality fiction, travel and young adult, and now with THE GRIEVING GIFT, an autobiographical novel.

In all of Howard’s books the theme is always the same - overcoming life’s difficulties.

Judy lives full-time in her Winnebago motorhome with her cat, Sportster,   traveling across the country as a motivational speaker and offering writing seminars.

When Judy and Sportster are not traveling, they spend their time in Sun City, California.





THE GRIEVING GIFT

Janice’s older sister, Margaret, wanted to believe that the L.A. doctors at Cedars Sinai Medical Center held a magical deck of cards, but after eight years of treatment they dealt their final card. The Hospice card. No miracles for Margaret. Janice reassures her big sister she will be there, holding her hand every step of the way.



On a death watch, you get to know things about a person you wish you didn’t. It is like a roller coaster ride. And like most rides, it brings us back to the place we began, reminding us of who we were and who we have become.



The twists and turns of Janice’s emotional journey transports her back through the repercussions of her teen pregnancy and into the present estrangement from her daughter, whom she has not heard from for the last sixteen years.



Coming to terms with the grief of losing her sweet Margaret, and dealing with her fear of a lonely future is too much for Janice to imagine. When Margaret’s soul goes to rest in L.A. heaven, how will Janice face the emptiness? Will there be such a thing as a Grieving Gift?

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.





Oh, and don’t forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep writers motivated.

USEFUL LINKS 

Other books by Judy Howard: JUDY’S AMAZON  AUTHOR  PAGE


Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.






Safe travels!
                   
































Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Story Behind The Story - Part Two

Whether some one is a farmer  or barber, long haul trucker or a doctor, we all struggle through life’s  challenges and changes. How do some of us learn to rise up and thrive while others only exist?  How did someone like me who worked as a pet groomer since the age of eleven, become the author of six books, to date?   

As I publish  my newest blog series, “The Story Behind  The Story,” it is my hope that we  all might connect on some level.

Enjoy my musings and “The Story Behind The Story.” and  in the process, I hope you gain understanding and encouragement for your own journey.




The Story Behind The Story
"Going Home With A Cat And A Ghost"






When I finished writing and publishing my first book, COAST TO COAST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST,  a memoir, I held the book in my hands.  My fingers feathered over its glossy cover and thumbed through the pages, touching the words on the pages … so many of them… and I cried. The tears came from disbelief, humility, and  a deep satisfaction and empowerment. How did this happen? When I gathered my senses. I knew one thing. I was hooked on writing. I had found the answer to that question I had been asking all my life, ‘Is this all there is?’

As I held the book in my hand, it became a crystal ball, pulsing, glowing and alluring. The orb held my voice, a part of me, of who I am, an expression of me.  I had things to say.  Words swirled within the crystal, like a pot of   alphabet soup, the letters churning and boiling, threatening to boil over if I did not find a release for them. The compulsion to write was too strong to ignore.



But what to write?  COAST TO CAOST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST was a memoir. I figured anyone could write their own story. I felt I had nothing more to say about my past. I had been estranged from my daughter for over ten years, so I had no stories with happy endings.  I wondered if I could make something up. And so, GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST was born.

You may have realized by now  I am what is called in the writing world as a ‘Pantser,’ someone who writes by the seat of her pants, which aligns will my compulsive personality. My sister, a reserved and controlled individual, once said to me, “You amaze me. You decide to do something that you have never done before and know nothing about, and then you just do it.” That’s me.




I decided to write a mystery-romance. Because COAST TO COAST was selling and receiving rave reviews, I wanted to retain the RVing theme and keep the main character, Judy Howard, but make her fictional.  And of course, the cat, Sportster would continue to add his antics and the stuffed doll  known as Cowboy Jack would  not let up haunting  my protagonist.



 Wala!  I would have a series!  And what better universal issue to address? My story would bring to the forefront the question many of us have pondered --  What if you had a second chance to reunite with your first love, your high school sweetheart? 

Writers write what they know, not that I ever reunited with my first love. But we infuse the story with feelings we have experienced. Just change up the real people, places and outcomes  with fictional characters, imagined, tangled up  situations and  a happy, Camelot ending.
As I wrote GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST, I imagined my first love and created the character, Brad. I offered my fictional character, Judy, a second ,chance but only if she found the courage to jump  through the mysterious  entanglements of her fictional life.

Writing fiction became magical and rewarding, I could escape into a fantasy world of my own making and play with my own desires. The real-life boyfriend? I had no idea where he was or what had become of him, but the  boy who had lived in my mind all these years now  came alive on paper. What fun!

I fell in love all over again –with Brad. I couldn’t let him go.  As my writing progressed,  Brad lived on in books three and four. There is a saying. “If an author loves you, you will live forever.”
GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST became a hit like the first book. My confidence soared.  I was on my way. I was a real author.  I believed this newly discovered gift came with a responsibility. My talent was   not only  to  be used for  entertainment but also for a higher good – to change the world, to make it a better place.  Authors can change things.  The written word can be as powerful as a bullet and as life changing as love.

GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST had been  a fun fantasy and a romantic and exciting  mystery to write. But I resolved to respect the gift I had discovered and  tackle the responsibility  that goes with writing and attempt to make the world better.  My next book MASADA’S MARINE  would  do just  that. 

Stay tuned for the Story Behind The Story of MASADA'S MARINE.







GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST


A novel about life’s complexities for Judy Howard, a recently widowed woman who travels in her Winnebago motorhome from California to Illinois to attend her 40th high school reunion by the invitation of her first love, Brad.   She makes the trip accompanied by her cat, Sportster, and a life-sized polyester doll, riding shotgun whom she calls Cowboy Jack.


She returns to her home town after fleeing from family and Brad   forty years ago to escape the shame and horror of an illegal abortion as the result of being drugged and date raped at the age of sixteen.


She had married and made a life for herself for the last forty years but was always haunted by nightmares of the rape, by dreamy memories of her Brad and by constant regrets, and questions of “What if..?”


The opportunity to confront her lifelong question of “What if..?” arises when her husband dies and Brad invites her to their 40th high school reunion. Gathering up her shaky courage, Judy heads home to face her past…and who knows? – Her future?


The odyssey is not only a discovery of Route 66,  but also a deep examination of her feelings and about the woman she has become since she snuggled in the backseat of Brad’s 57 Chevy.


Brad has lived the last four decades married only to the police force, obsessed with investigating and capturing the biggest drug dealer in the Midwest called Pit Bull. Brad, too, has lived his life with regrets and guilt, always tortured with his own “What ifs?” When he invites Judy to the reunion his mind is made up. He will not waste another moment wondering. He is going to pursue the love of his life and end his doubts.


As Judy progresses toward Springfield and Brad nears closing the biggest case of his career, they are both confronted with the past when Pit Bull threatens to put an end, not only to the mysteries of the past, but Brad and Judy’s future.


Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.







Oh, and don’t forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep writers motivated.

USEFUL LINKS 

Other books by Judy Howard: JUDY’S AMAZON  AUTHOR  PAGE


Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.






Safe travels!