I Just Finished Reading …

… another novel by John Grisham. A Time to Kill was outstanding. I can definitely see why he is so popular. I’ll be putting him on my list of favorite authors; right up there with Robert B. Parker, Janet Evanovich, Tony Hillerman, and Dan Brown, just to mention a few.

For years I’ve said I never had time to read for pleasure. Shame on me for letting that happen. Literature of most any kind is to be savored. It’s a travel log into different worlds and trains of thought. Worlds I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced and thoughts of pundits from afar. Through reading, I can learn about someone’s point of view without risk of argument. I like that.

About 6 weeks ago, I made the conscious decision to return to my love of literature. Since then I’ve averaged reading 2 novels a week and am loving it. Although I do need to take ‘wiggling’ breaks by going outside to check on the animals, feed them, or weed a bit of the garden.

I began with our own library. For years Bob and I have purchased books we thought would be interesting to read but we somehow hadn’t found the time to sit down and read them. We kept letting television get our attention.

Then again we have so many wonderful critters on the ranch, we’d go outside and play with them or curl up and take naps. Bob loves to ‘project’ around the ranch while I’m always into something different; I’m either cooking, crocheting, gardening, making soaps, bathing a horse, cleaning a barn, or breaking something that Bob needs to fix. (Sorry Hon) There’s always something to do around here, that’s why we decided to live on a ranch, to get into physical shape. Well, that’s working. Bob and I are in better physical shape than when were 15 years younger.

But, that’s no longer an excuse for not reading.

Back in 1984 I became interested in writing a novel. The thought of being able to carry a thought through so many pages became intriguing. I began learning about how to write novels. I read so many articles on ‘how to’ that I knew all the answers. All I had to do was follow the bouncing balls. At the time we lived in Jacksonville, FL and I was studying communications at the University of North Florida. They didn’t have a graduate program so I took all the literature, writing, and journalism courses I could find. After a while I became the managing editor of the school paperer and loved it. That was fun!

Bob got a super job in Tulsa, OK so off we went.

As luck would have it, the University of Oklahoma offered a masters program where most of the classes could be taken in Tulsa. Perfect. Journalism, here I come. At last I could fulfill my dream of getting a masters. (If you’ve read some of my posts you’ll remember that the night of my BA graduation I had wanted to continue to get a masters on one side of the stage but by the time I walked across the stage I had changed my mind and kept walking. That dream has plagued me for years because I still wanted a masters.) For my masters in journalism I completed it with a 4.0. I was on top of the world because I loved writing my thesis so much. So much so that I looked into getting my PhD. That didn’t work out and I’m glad it didn’t. (But that’s another story).

I found a second masters program that I could take in Tulsa where I could study Organizational Development (OD). Since I had taught several classes on interior design throughout the years, I thought OD would be a good match so I continued with my studies. Eighteen months later I had my second masters. The intensity of getting this work done back-to-back changed my thought processes forever. I’ll forever be grateful for those experiences and to Dr. George Henderson for making it possible. But by this time I was becoming acutely aware of the politics in the educational system and was getting tired of it.

I had planned on starting a business based on my thesis work in journalism; Crisis Communication. After all, I had proven what was needed, and had worked with folks in the Tulsa area for years; I had a client base. The bombing in Oklahoma City happened when I was in Tulsa but I just couldn’t step up to the plate and build a career when everyone so hurting so much. I did nothing about my Crisis Communication research.

Then Bob got a super job in Charlotte, NC. So off we went.

After getting settled, I started looking for work in Charlotte. Work as a Instructional Designer became available at First Union National Bank. Then the work changed to that of technical writing where I wrote computer programming process manuals. Five years passed before I knew it. Every six months First Union then Wachovia would have layoffs. No one ever knew whether they’ve have jobs or not. It was a dreadful place to work. Finally my number was up and I was laid off. Finally.

By this time, Bob and I had bought a ranch in Stanly County and had acquired a few goats. I had begun making goat milk soaps and lotions so we expanded this business for several years.

But in January 2011 I was diagnosed with Carcinoid Cancer. Surgery successfully removed the primary tumor but other lesions had moved to my liver. Stage Four cancer is scary but you learn to deal with it. There is no cure. Fortunately, carcinoid tumor cancer is an extremely slow growing cancer and I’m expected to live a normal life span.

But this was and is a wake up call. At 68 years old, what do I want to do with the rest of my life. I am returning to my love of literature.

After all my studies in Oklahoma, I’ve learned how to learn. Finally. Learning how to learn is the most incredible gift I could have given myself.

Instead of reading ‘how to’ articles, I’m learning from the masters like Robert B. Parker, Janet Evanovich, Tony Hillerman, and Dan Brown, just to mention a few. I’ll continue reading as many novels as I can while writing my own. These authors are teaching me what I enjoy. Thank you.

Now I read the Op Ed page of our hometown newspaper. And I write now. Waking the muse within me is my task at hand. She’s there, she’s ready. I just need to give her the space she needs. That’s why I’m writing this blog. So she’ll get used to working.

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