The Girl With Two Pearl Earrings

April 21, 2014 at 12:20 PM (Memory Lane, My Kids, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )


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He didn’t know what he was doing, but for just a fleeting moment, the 8-year-old made my day.

I was herding him into the shower after a typical Easter Sunday of church, family, lunch, egg hunts, and playing with the neighbors.

I didn’t wear a new dress this year, so there was nothing special to notice there. Immediately after church I changed into capris and a t-shirt; again, nothing special. I’d worn my hair down to church, but to settle into the comfort of the afternoon I’d whipped it back into my typical low-ponytail/bun. Nothing out of the ordinary.

But in my quick wardrobe change from church-dressy to afternoon-casual I’d not taken the time to change my earrings.

And with hair swept back into a bun, the dangly diamond and pearls and I’d worn to church that morning were more easily seen, I guess.

Because as I was there in his bathroom getting the water temperature just right and the fresh towel hung on the towel bar for him, he looked at what I was doing, hopped in the shower and then took a double take.

He saw something he hadn’t seen all day apparently.

My earrings.

He said, “Your earrings look pretty, mom.”

And then — this was the kicker — he said, “Has anyone told you that today?”

Thank you, I said. And no, no one has told me that today. How sweet of you to notice.

He kept right on going with this shower, didn’t miss a beat, but I had stopped my flurry of activity with the water and towel and just took in this moment of sweet surprise at his noticing. I was wearing earrings he’d never seen before. That’s probably why he noticed them. Yet isn’t it interesting that he asked me if anyone else had noticed? It’s like he knew that most likely no one had seen them, but also that he valued being the one who noticed. He does, by the way, love being the one to notice details that others overlook.

He had no idea that those were earrings were special and that my choice to wear them this day was special too. See, I wore those earrings on my wedding day to his father nearly 15 years ago. I don’t think I’ve worn them in the 15 years since. But I’d chosen to wear them especially on Easter Sunday because Easter this year felt like a celebration in a way it hasn’t felt before and I wanted to dress up to celebrate. I wanted to wear a dressy pair of earrings, and this pair is one of the dressiest I have.

He didn’t know what he was doing — and he doesn’t even now understand what he did — but for just a fleeting moment, the 8-year-old made my day.

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Thoughts on Writing ‘Bold They Rise’

April 18, 2014 at 12:47 AM (Books) (, , , , , , , , )


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Now that it’s here and I can hold the finished product in my hand and the work is all done, I can actually reflect a little on the journey to here. And by here I mean the point at which I hold in my hand a hard-bound volume of words — aka a book — that I co-authored.

Many people have asked me questions that are typical when someone publishes a book. How did you come up with the idea for the book? What was it like finding a publisher? Why did you write about that topic?

But of those experiences I can offer nothing of value because this project came to me, I didn’t go to it. I was asked to help with Bold They Rise when other authors were unable to stay on the project. So my book-authoring and publishing experience is quite a-typical. The idea, title, scope, publisher, method, everything was already decided.

When I signed on, though, the initial manuscript was due in six months; it took us 12. We spent the next year to a year and a half in the editing phase where reviewers read the manuscript and gave us feedback, and then we made changes, deletions, additions, etc. based on that feedback.

Finally, this past year the publisher approved it for publication and the task list has varied from reading grammar and punctuation edits, to proofing the final layout, to gathering photos and photo captions, to soliciting the foreword and promotional blurbs.

Bottom line? It’s a whole heckuva lot of work to publish a book.

It was a marathon not a sprint.

There were times I wanted to quit. In fact, there were times I tried to quit because some of the personal things that were going on in my life were making it extremely difficult to continue. So if there’s one lesson I’ve learned from this it’s endurance.

I have friends who thought this book was never going to come out — I thought that too sometimes — because every time they’d ask about it I’d say, “we’re still editing” or “we’re waiting to hear back” or “one more round of reviews.” One friend even commented that she had two babies in the time it took me to write one book. It was, at times, quite the stressful experience.

So now it’s all done, and I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I’m really hoping people like it. Truth be told: I’m kinda nervous for people to read it.

It’s a uniquely told story about the space shuttle program from the earliest ideas all the way through its first major failure, the loss of Challenger. The story tellers in “Bold They Rise” are the astronauts that flew on the shuttle. Who better to tell such a story? They are candid, sincere and often funny as they tell anecdote after anecdote about their experiences. It really has been a fun story to capture.

While Bold They Rise will certainly make you laugh, I hope it also opens readers’ eyes to a realization that what these guys and gals did was extraordinary. Risky. Bold. Awesome. It’s my hope that as people read it they will journey back in time and experience a little bit of real spaceflight adventure alongside the astronauts who where there.

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My first 5K!

April 8, 2014 at 8:09 PM (Try New Things) (, , , , )


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Nearing the end and still smiling. Also, apparently I run with my thumbs up. Weird, huh?

I ran a 5k!!

Well, I ran part, walked part, jogged part, but I completed it, and that *is* the point.

I first got the hairbrained idea to train and run a 5K several years ago. I don’t really remember what prompted it but it kind’ve became this unattainable thing.

More than that it started to represent all things that were unattainable because the excuses I could use to not run a 5K were the same excuses I used for everything else.

Excuses like …

I need to lose weight first.

I need to do couch to 5K.

I don’t have time to do couch to 5K.

I’m to busy with the boys.

I don’t have anyone to do it with me.

So one year I signed up for a 5K — a local run called the Cookie Run because you get cookies at the end of race — thinking because it was cheap and local and involved cookies, I’d be motivated to train and run.

Was I?

Nope.

As soon as the boys ball schedule came out with a game for that morning I was out. With a good excuse, but I was still letting excuses stop me.

So this year, at my new job, they have this really fun 5K called the Double Helix Dash and I signed up. I asked my friend Amanda to do it with me knowing I’d need that kind of support and encouragement to follow through. At the time there was six weeks til the race so I had visions of doing a condensed couch to 5K but cold weather and migraines and busy schedules — my excuses are coming out again — foiled most of those plans.

Excuses almost won out again because I was very, very sick the morning of the race and Amanda was having trouble leaving work early. But I loaded up on Powerade and Amanda’s boss came through.

There we were at the start line and I reminded Amanda for the 100th time, “You know I don’t run, right?” I needed her to know this because she does run and I wanted assurance that her expectations were set fairly low.

We ran through the start and after a while slowed to a fast walk.

I first felt pain in my shins. They went numb after a while and then it was my knees.

When I could no longer feel those, it was my ankles that were killing me.

Once both legs were completely numb I kept pace pretty well.

We neared the end and had to finish with a run, right? So we sprinted up the hill across the finish, and something about that last push but a tug in my back.

But no pain no gain, and I was so glad to gain the confidence I felt after this accomplishment.

Will I do another? Oh, sure! It wasn’t bad as I thought (most things never are) and now I know I can do it.

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Looking good, pre-race.

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Added my running number to my memory board

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A Book’s First Words

February 17, 2014 at 8:11 PM (Books) (, , , , , , , , )


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“Done right, the opening line can set the whole tone for the book, capturing the reader almost immediately. Done wrong and it can have the opposite effect.”

I ran across this comment somewhere online recently and it made me wonder  — what are the first words to my book?

And by my book I mean Bold They Rise: The Space Shuttle Early Years, 1972-1986 , coming out in just a few months. (shameless plug).

I mean, this is the kind of thing an author should know about their own book, right?

So I quickly pulled up the latest version and here’s what I read:

“On the one hand is the idea. On the other, the reality.”

I was impressed. Those are some pretty darn good first words of a book, if I do say so myself.

They’re very apropos of the book’s subject matter — the space shuttle — thus why they were written (and not by me, I should add, but by the Bold They Rise co-author.) I mean, when the space shuttle program was first envisioned it was gonna fly 50 times a year. That was the idea. Reality? There were only 134 missions total over the entire program. And there were other ideas of how the space transportation system would work that didn’t exactly turn out as planned too.

The idea versus the reality is true also about the process of writing Bold They Rise. I was brought on to the project  at what I thought was the end but what in reality was the middle. I signed contract six months before the first deadline, but running over deadline and then the review and editing process and all the final details has taken 4 years.

So, a question for discussion: do you pay attention to the first words of books and if so what are some of your favorites?

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