Post Thanksgiving Gratitude

Our younger son drove home from college earlier this week with the flu. Five hours alone in the car with fever, chills, body aches, he drove directly to the doctor, then home and into bed. He spent two days in his room letting Tamiflu do its thing, and felt significantly better Wednesday evening. 

To be safe, he opted to stay in his room on Thanksgiving for six hours so his 101-year-old great aunt could enjoy a meal with the family. We brought plates of food to him throughout the day and he ate alone, with his bedroom door open so he could hear the dinner conversation downstairs. 

Our older son will be turning twenty-three in a few days, so his grandmothers brought him a birthday cake. Great Aunt Virginia gave a special solo performance of the Happy Birthday song that nearly brought him to tears. 

This is 101, singing

When everyone left last night and the house was quiet, my husband and I joined the boys in the den to watch Ted Lasso, which we’ve all seen except for the one who had stayed in his room. We didn’t mind. We missed spending the day with him. And it’s a series worth watching again.

As I write this, the memories still fresh, I am filled with gratitude for so much in my life. For our sons, who consistently demonstrate kindness and compassion, for our parents, who we’re so lucky to still have, for family members who share our holidays and special memories, for Aunt Virginia, who is still singing, for our friends who reached out throughout the day, and for my husband, the perfect host partner and my best friend. 

I hope you all had a Thanksgiving filled with good memories, love, family, and friendship. 

Sometimes More is Just More

Dear Marie,

Over the past year and a half, like most people, I have watched more television than in any other year. After binging on everything from Bridgerton to Virgin River, I segued into an array of interesting and educational topics via Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube. I can now trim a sail and a bonsai tree, grow vegetables and lemons, advise the most affordable places in the world to retire and when you pick one, I can help you redecorate your villa/yurt/igloo.

As a result of this onslaught of information, I can no longer take a bite of chicken or sip from a water bottle without tasting bitter guilt. And meat? Are you kidding? 

Then I discovered you and journeyed happily down the rabbit-hole of your episodes as you helped people declutter their homes and their lives. 

I agree most of us have too much and are suffocating beneath “stuff” we consistently acquire. I am also learning about how consumerism is posing a real threat to our planet. Downright frightening. 

So I quickly became a fan, appreciating how you gently coerce people to unburden themselves with items they no longer need. You have convinced them to “thank” the item for the joy it once brought and then say goodbye. Genius.

That being said, I admit it would be difficult for me to strictly follow your guidelines. 

If I were to dispose of everything I own that did not bring me joy, my closet would hold yoga pants, hoody sweatshirts, and no bras. My fridge would be stocked with peanut butter, chocolate and wine. My freezer? Yep, vodka…and ice cream.

Hardly a responsible existence, but I’m up for the challenge. I love your message of simplistic living and want to feel more gratitude for what I have. I’m on a mission, Marie. 

If you’ll excuse me, I have to thank my vacuum and toss escort it to the curb.

Wish me luck.

Sincerely,

Kimberly

The Changing of Time

When I was young, summer lasted for ages. Endless, languid days were spent frolicking on freshly cut grass, inhaling the fragrance of mower clippings, on our backs, hands shielding faces from the sun, identifying shapes of clouds against pool-blue skies. The perpetual excitement that arose as music from the ice cream truck grew louder culminated in a reward of ice pops dribbling down our arms in the heat because we couldn’t eat them fast enough. I swear it didn’t get dark until 9:30 p.m. in the 70’s. And no, I didn’t live in Alaska. 

We lived entire lifetimes in three months. 

As a mother to two young boys, the season felt extended as well. With no school schedules to fall back on, it was a challenge to keep these energetic beings busy on hot days. Parks and pools with friends, beach outings followed by thorough bath times trying to extract sand from tiny crevices, catching fireflies in the yard. All of us finally dropping into slumber only to start over again at the crack of dawn with What are we doing today, Mommy?  And if it rained? Oy.

Fun? For sure. Long? Definitely.

Now, our grown boys make their own schedules, leaving my husband and I to embrace the warm months ourselves. But the new pace of the solstice moon is relentless. Where once upon a time days lasted weeks, and weeks, months, now, our callous attitudes have us declare the summer almost over by July fourth.

The hands of the clock have grown stronger – this new strength moving time with merciless speed. Days bleed into each other until, without warning, leaves are burnt oranges and reds whirling in the wind of autumn and we have little to show for the warm season. Summers that long ago brought us joy and freedom are now fragments of time, gone too soon. 

We’re at the point in our journey where we’re peering over that proverbial hill. On the other side, life is supposed to take on a leisurely pace. We’ll stress less, eventually work less, and maybe, maybe, the clock will slow down once again. I hope so.

Truce!

In summer, we like to be outside enjoying the warm weather in the backyard. Especially this year, having just come out of a Netflix-heavy winter, it’s the first in a long time we have no travel plans.

July, though, was a rainy month. During a particularly wet evening, my husband suggested we sit out on our covered front porch. With a bottle of red and two rocking chairs, we watched the rain, listened to the soothing sounds of rolling thunder, and talked for hours.

It was wonderful.

Two nights later, more rain. Back to the porch, to the music of raindrops on dogwood leaves, on warm bricks along the walkway, to the clink of glasses as we toasted to the end of another day.

Truce, we say, our toast ever since I laughingly fumbled my words earlier in the season.

It’s been a strange fifteen months. We’re still adjusting to the changes in our world: working from home, fewer outings with friends, continuous together time.

We broke our quick tradition the following evening, sitting on the rockers when orange and pink replaced the gray sky. As the sky darkened, we watched fireflies dot the front lawn, the baby rabbits that seemed to have materialized this summer more than any other, graze the grass. Maybe we didn’t notice them in the past because we were too busy. Running out. Away on vacations. On the couch.

A car drove by. Neighbors walked their dog past.

“What do you think people are saying about us?” my husband asked as the Shepard pulled the couple along.

“There are those alcoholics who think they live in Brooklyn.”

He sipped. “You think?”

“No. They’re saying can you believe those old people still enjoy each other’s company?”

The truth is, we don’t care. We have a lot to celebrate: summer, marriage, friendship. Life.

A few weeks ago, during another night on the porch, a friend passed by on his way home from work, saw us and stopped. He sprinted up the driveway, dodging raindrops. We poured him a glass of wine and caught up. When his suit dried, he left us to continue home.

It’s August already. Things are moving fast, so we’re making every effort not to. If we’ve learned nothing else from the past year, it’s that slowing down is a good thing. Do what brings you joy.

Sitting on the porch in the rain with my husband brings me joy.

I put dinner in the oven the other night. He walked into the kitchen. “Is that thunder?”

We stopped to listen. I smiled.

“I’ll get the glasses.”

Thank you

Hi Everyone,

Happy summer! I hope you’re enjoying the warm weather. I worked on my garden this past weekend. My veggies and herbs are coming along nicely. It brings me such joy to  watch the plants grow and change as the season progresses.

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Speaking of gardening, my new book, Seasons Out of Timehas been out for one month already! So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you who have reached out via Facebook, email, Instagram, and text, to offer support and praise of the story. After months and months of working on it, your kind words mean everything. I want you to know I cherish every note and message.

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No, this is not me. A lovely reader sent this. I so want to be there. 

Hearing from you is my favorite part of this whole journey, so please keep the messages and pictures coming. And let me know how you’re doing, your plans for the summer. If you’re growing a garden, share a picture. We can root for each other. 🙂

I have a favor to ask. If you’ve read Seasons Out of Time and enjoyed it, may I ask that you spare a minute to post an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes & Noble, etc, so that others may find it? Reviews are so incredibly important to authors. They are the best way to get the word out about a book. You don’t have to be prophetic, just speak from the heart. A sentence or two is all you need. This is a judge-free zone. I promise.

Finally, I am so happy to share the new covers for Both Sides of Love and Letting Go. My fantabulous graphic artist, Suzanne Fyhrie Parrott, designed them. Here is Suzanne’s link. Though I love the originals, we felt it was time for an update.

 

Well, that’s it for now. I wish you a safe, happy summer. Hope to hear from you!

Love, Kim

 

 

Messages

Every day for the past several weeks, a cardinal flies to the weeping cherry tree just outside of my dining room window where I work. He flits happily among the gently swinging branches, his vibrant red feathers a glorious contrast to the lime green leaves that quiver in his wake.

Each day, I watch him while he visits, mesmerized, unable to do much else until he  leaves for another destination. I’d never seen him before this spring, though he may have been here before. Cardinals are non-migratory birds that mate for life and put down roots, so he must have settled nearby. Until now, I’d been too busy to notice.

Now, I wait for him, and each day I’m rewarded. I watch him jump and flit and play among the swaying leaves in the tree outside my window. I listen to his song and wonder who he is serenading, peering out through the glass in search of his lucky mate.

Many believe cardinals deliver messages from loved ones who have passed, to let us know they are with us and watching over us. I take comfort in this thought. But to me, he is also a sign of life, of beauty, and joy. Especially now. I’m transfixed. IMG_7425

Life, beauty, and joy. It’s all around us. We just have to pay attention.

Gardening & Life

Hello! I hope you’re all doing well and keeping safe. I woke up this morning to sunshine and warm air. Here in the Northeast, Spring has arrived! You know what that means… Time to bring these babies outside.

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In the past, I’d been too busy with work, family, and writing to pre-plan a garden. I was the one scrambling late in the season, running to the garden center to pick up infant crops to plant out back.

This year, well, you know what happened. We’ve been sheltered in place, doing the best we can while staying safely at home for the past 8 weeks. Suddenly, I have time to think, and to consider my garden. So, with the bug from last year’s successful harvest of my first seeded sunflower (pic right), I dedicated a sunny space in the living room, bought some soil, pots, and seeds, and started my very first indoor “victory” garden.

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The most beautiful thing I’d ever grown (other than my boys)

Every morning, I checked on my pots, marveled at the sprouted greens through the soil, and enjoyed watching their growth. Watering them daily and adjusting their position throughout the day to get the most sunlight became routine, calming, predictable. I found my rhythm.

But, as plants and flowers tend to do, they’ve outgrown their small pots and they’re ready for the great outdoors. I need to let them go, allow them to plant roots outside where they belong, and do what they do best: provide beauty, food, and thrive.

As in life, the rhythms we find change. We settle into a comfortable routine only to face the next phase of our lives.

Parenting is like planting, but waaaay more terrifying. We raise these children, and before we’re ready, they leave, searching for their place in the world. We’re left to face our days without them. We adjust.

In Seasons Out of Time, which comes out next Friday, Heather Harrison just dropped her only child at college hundreds of miles away, and she too faces the next phase of her life. No longer a wife, or a full-time mom, she must re-define who she is and how she’ll fill the long, empty days ahead.

And so begins her journey of self-discovery in the most unconventional way.

SoT

This gorgeous cover was designed by my talented designer and friend, Suzanne Fyhrie Parrott of First Steps Publishing

Have you pre-ordered your ebook? If you do, it will arrive on your kindle Friday, May 22nd  in time for the holiday weekend. The paperback version will be available to order that day too. Here’s the link: Amazon

I’m excited, nervous, and hopeful that you’ll love the story as much as I do.

Until then, I wish you health, peace, and sunshine.

Love, Kim

 

 

To Say Goodbye

We never quite know what our last words will be to those we love. We part ways with a hug, a kiss, or a wave, without a second thought.

You left us a few days ago, during this strange time, and we weren’t there to say Goodbye. Instead, we’re left with mixed emotions: sadness, frustration, regret, and love.

There are things I want to say. I’m sorry. I’m sorry everyone who loved you couldn’t be by your side during your last days.

If I knew our last conversation would be our last, I would have said, Thank you.

Thank you for being the kind, humble, and giving man that you were.
Thank you for loving my children.
Thank you for teaching my husband how to sail, and for countless days on the water all those summers ago.
Thank you for sharing stories of your youth, and teaching us the history of our town.
Thank you for loving my mother for the past twenty-five years.
Thank you for sharing your family with our family.
Thank you for the wonderful memories that we have to hold onto.

As you sail into the setting sun, with the warm wind at your back, I pray you are at peace.

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James I. Baylis 1930- 2020

What to Read

Hi Again! I hope you’re all doing well. I had posted the sale of one of my books last weekend on Facebook (Both Sides of Love for .99 until tomorrow!) and promised to return with other book recommendations.

For me, reading is a great escape, and there’s no better time than now to lose yourself in stories. The following is a small list of books I’ve read recently and would highly recommend:

The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn

The Glass Lake, by Maeve Binchy

What The Wind Knows, by Amy Harmon

Stay, by Catherine Ryan Hyde

The Chain, by Adrian McKinty

Life and Other Inconveniences, (or any book) by Kristan Higgins

And check out these wonderful stories, by self-published authors like myself:

I was lucky enough to discover Lucy Mitchell’s blog a few years ago: BlondeWriteMore. Her weekly posts about life and writing are humorous, entertaining and uplifting. Instructions For Falling In Love Again is her first novel and, like Lucy, is filled with laughter and heart.

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Finding Edward is the third installment of the Save Me series, by Suzanne McKenna Link. Saving Toby and Keeping Claudia, the first two books in the trilogy, take the reader on a heartfelt and emotional journey of a young man struggling with his past and the love of a girl who just might save him. Finding Edward, which can be read as a stand-alone, follows Edward Rudack as he searches for a father he never knew he had – in beautiful Italy. I had the pleasure of reading an advanced reader copy and just loved it. It will be out March 31st and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

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If you have any books to recommend, please pass them along.

Stay healthy and I look forward to speaking with you again soon.

~Kimberly

The Song

Happy Birthday to you.

Happy Birthday to you.

Happy Birthday dear….Everyone,

Happy Birthday to you…

I wash my hands so often lately, I can’t get the song out of my head.

It’s been a while since my last post and for that, I apologize. However, I feel compelled to come out and say hello, to let you know I’m thinking of you, and I hope you’re all doing okay during these trying times.

We may be social distancing (I hope), but we’re united. It’s evident in the beautiful posts and videos I see, of people around the world sharing music, poems, messages of joy, and hope.

We’ll get through this together. Spring will be here soon. And when it arrives, may it bring a new appreciation for the lives we live, for those we love, and for all we have.

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If you’d like to talk or share anything at all, I’m here. Let me know how you’re doing.

And don’t forget to sing the Happy Birthday Song while you wash your hands. It is, after all, a song about life.

~Kimberly xo