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I hope today's post finds you all safe, healthy, and happy. I know for a lot of us that "happy" part is sometimes hard to achieve during these difficult times and the feeling of happiness can often be hard to find. But, I've realized over the past few weeks if I don't do things to make myself feel happy...ain't nobody gonna be happy around me.

Now prior to COVID, I might have thought focusing on the things that make me happy was selfish, or at the least, a bit too indulgent. But now I realize I'm just practicing self preservation, and in turn, the preservation of anyone who has to encounter me out there in the world. I was catching myself being less friendly, less positive, and definitely more snarky to my family, friends, strangers (and even the dog) and that's just not fair to anyone.

So now each day, I'm trying to find at least one thing that makes me truly happy and I do it. Today, for example, I treated myself to a long overdue pedicure. Now my feet and I are both feeling happy! Some days, I give myself permission to sit quietly and read for 30 minutes. Other times, I treat myself to some time in the kitchen baking up treats (although not too often or my waistline will not thank me). And for me, writing is always something that makes me happy, so I make sure to spend time everyday working on one of my current projects.

That leads me to the latest updates on my journey to the bookshelf...and sadly, there isn't much news to share. No word from the agents currently sitting on my manuscript. One new rejection this week of my children's book with no helpful feedback. One new rejection of my adult novel WITH helpful feedback, and 2 new queries sent to agents for my novel.

At the moment, I'm editing Book #1 yet again (on advice from the rejection). I finished Book #2 and will soon begin editing it, and I'm focusing my writing attention on my teaching memoir. Just like in my teaching career, there is always something to do-the work is never truly finished.

As I was editing, I was thinking about the characters in my books and how they deal with self-preservation. It became crystal clear to me that Jillian finds her happiness spending time with her family and friends. And that leads us to today's teaser.

~~~Jillian and Ethan rejoined the group just as the main courses were being served family style. Bryan’s line cook had prepared platters of his signature burgers, barbecued chicken sandwiches, and ribs. Baskets of crispy crinkle-cut fries were scattered around the table along with bowls of creamy homemade coleslaw. The mouthwatering aroma of the food drew them both to their seats. Everyone began helping themselves to the delicious spread in front of them. Bryan’s line cook, Max, never disappointed with his food.

While they savored all the good food, Jillian told everyone the same story Moira had shared with them in Bryan’s office. The women seated at the table sighed, tsked, and gasped at different points throughout the story. The men listened intently offering no comments until the end. Jillian looked to her family and friends for their thoughts and opinions.

“That poor, sweet girl,” Aunt Grace spoke first. “She loses her sister when they are just babies, and now she’s lost her again. Sometimes fate is just cruel.”

“And to think,” said Joy. “Their poor mother had to make arrangements for her daughters knowing she’d never see them grow-up. Then, she dies before those plans can be finalized. I can’t even imagine.” Joy’s voice trailed off as she looked around the table at the faces of her own three daughters.

“Don’t you think it’s a bit odd that this Moira never tried to find her estranged sister before now?” Bryan tossed out. “From her story, she makes it sound like she missed her sister terribly, so why does she come looking for her now after she’s dead?”

“Yep,” nodded Ethan in agreement. “That’s one of the many things I find off about her story.”

“One of many?” questioned Bryan. “So there are other things you’re suspicious of. Are you planning on checking them out?”

“Yep,” Ethan answered again. “I’ll put in a call to DCFS to check on Moira’s story and begin a background check on her. I’m taking a trip to Stonefield bright and early tomorrow morning to visit a little shop called Body & Soul. I want to check things out for myself and see if this Moira is on the up and up. I’m sorry, Jillian, but I’ve just got a gut feeling that she can’t be trusted.”

Jillian had been listening to both Bryan and Ethan’s concerns. While she didn’t want to believe someone related to Maggie could be untrustworthy, she had to admit their points were starting to make her wonder. Could Moira have some kind of ulterior motive for coming forward now?

“Ethan,” Jillian began. “Listen before you say anything, ok?” Jillian waited for him to nod before she continued. “I think it would be a good idea, if I rode along with you tomorrow when you go to Stonefield. I could be a second pair of eyes and ears, and someone you could bounce ideas around with. Plus,” she said putting up a hand to ward off his interruption. “I think Moira would be more comfortable talking with me there. She might be willing to share more information. I mean, she did seek me out earlier.” Jillian let her suggestion hang in the air while she waited for everyone’s reaction. She didn’t have long to wait.

“Are you crazy?” Bryan shouted. “There is already a nutcase out there that tried to run you over this morning! You going with Ethan to investigate this Moira person would just make things worse. C’mon everybody, tell her.” Bryan looked around the table for some support.

“Now Bryan,” began his mother. “Jillian may have a point. This woman sought her out because of her connection to Maggie. Maybe she would share more information with Ethan, if Jillian were there. Besides, Ethan will be there to protect our Jilly, and I could give her a circle of protection amulet.” Aunt Grace smiled supportively at her niece.

“Seriously, Mother,” Bryan responded. “Will your circle of protection amulet keep her safe from another car trying to run her over?”

“Don’t get smart with me, Bryan Matthew! You may not believe in these things like I do, but I’m still your mother. You’ll be respectful, or I’ll put you over my knee like when you were five,” Aunt Grace snapped this threat to her son who looked shocked at the fierceness of his mother’s tone.~~~

I don't know about you, but after hearing about burgers, chicken, and ribs- I'm suddenly hungry and have the urge to bake something. It jut so happens there is pie crust on my counter ready to be rolled into a cherry pie, so I'll call it a day.

Please continue to stay safe and healthy out there. And give yourself permission to do something that truly makes you happy. You'll feel better and the people around you will thank you for it. Do it in the name of self-preservation.

Until next time,


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