Our Lady of the Roses in Presale Now

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just a Thought--A Christmas Collage

This year I will celebrate my 53rd Christmas, and I guess I have enough years under my belt to wax a little nostalgic on Christmases past. It has happened gradually, but Christmas has changed a lot over the decades.

When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, the month of December was a magical time of preparation leading up to the big day on December 25. Each morning during Advent at St. Athanasius in West View, where I attended grade school, a different homeroom went to the office and sang over the scratchy loudspeaker, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Every time I hear that song now, (my favorite is B. E. Taylor’s version) I’m transported back to my desk, counting down the days until Christmas. In first grade, Sr. Lois putting up a manger and handed us slips of yellow paper. We were to write a good deed we had done each day on these slips of “straw” that were placed in the manger as the bedding on which baby Jesus would rest. The mothers of the children there took turns cooking our lunches in the cafeteria, and for Christmas they always served us a complete turkey dinner.

As I got older, my circle of friends and I began to exchange gifts. Hot ones were Love’s Baby Soft Cologne and Lipsmacker lip-gloss. One year I got a frankincense and myrrh candle—it smelled terrible. At my class party in 1972, we played records, and that was where I first heard John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is Over). Forty years later, I still love that song.

At home, the arrival of the Sears Christmas Wishbook catalog was one of the best days of the year. My brothers, sister and I would fight over who would get it first. I remember lying on my stomach for hours paging through it circling things I wanted—everything from Snoopy Sno-Cone Makers to cowgirl suits. My paternal grandmother, Grandma Aggie, worked at Sears and one year she got me one. It was robin’s egg blue and had white fringe on the skirt’s bottom and across the shirt’s yoke. Pearl snaps finished off the Western look. My mom used to the clean the house from top to bottom starting in the beginning of December as if Joseph and Mary themselves were expected coming to our house to give birth. And then, when the house was in order, we decorated. I often wonder at the people who put up their trees on Thanksgiving if their houses are clean? I can’t put up my decorations unless I’ve cleaned. Old habits die hard.

Usually, we spent Christmas Eve in Etna with my mom’s side of the family, and after Grandma Aggie was widowed, we used to bring her along too. I believe it was Hass Electric on Butler Street that turned their whole storefront in to a Christmas scene. It was mesmerizing. The spread at my grandma’s wasn’t fancy--chip and dip, pretzels, and cheese balls and crackers, but it was fun. I remember my grandpap letting my brother smoke his first cigar with him when he was about 16. It was a trial to try to sleep on Christmas Eve, and one year my mom found me lying under the coffee table around 2 a.m. just staring at the presents under the tree. I always got a baby doll or Barbies when I was young, and looking back I realize that I was big into crafts too. One year I made macramé purses, another I molded candles, still another I made homemade soaps, and then it was on to oil paints and calligraphy pens. It’s a wonder I’m not living in New Mexico selling beads.

It was always so hard to tear ourselves away from those toys and go to church. But I loved Christmas Mass because all the songs were Christmas carols, and I knew all the words. Most Christmas dinners were spent at my Uncle Paul’s house. They had seven kids so there were people and kids everywhere. They set up two tables for dinner—one in the dining room and a kid’s table in the big foyer. Even though it was a big deal to make it to the adult table, a lot more fun was had sitting at the kid’s table.

 I don’t remember spending the days after Christmas at the mall returning gifts and shopping for bargains. We spent our holidays visiting friends and relatives, celebrating with them all the way to the New Year. Now, decades later, I have two trees, each with different themes and certain color schemes. I scour cookbooks to delight my company with delicious confections, and I have special Christmas plates and gold-toned cutlery.

Although everything looks a lot more stylish and is much more elaborate, I think over the decades, we’ve forgotten to make Christmas fun and how to really celebrate. Sometimes you can get caught up in all the wrappings and miss the real joy. Merry Christmas. I hope you wade through all the trappings and find it this year.

This originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Northern Connection magazine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy 12.12.12!

Hi Readers:

Several years ago as part of my course requirements to acquire my degree in writing, I had to take a math course.  I did fine in math in high school, but like many things, advanced math is something you must use or you lose it.  Well, I'd lost it by that time, so telling a writer they have to do math strikes fear in the heart. 

To satisfy the requirement, I took geometry, specifically sacred geometry, which turned out to be fascinating.  Although I did have to do some calculating, this was more a history of math type of course and revealed how math actually does play a role in our lives.

One of the things I learned is that numbers had significance in literature and religion.  Today, is 12.12.12.  Twelve, biblically speaking, represents completeness or the whole enchilada.  There were the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles, 12 days of Christmas, etc.

Keep your eyes open for the number 12 today.  I'm keeping my eyes open for a dozen of doughnuts or roses!  Or perhaps you might like to pick a dozen of books featured in the Holiday Ebook Extravaganza that concludes today.  Drop on by the website and pick up your copy of my book A Shepherd's Song or one of the many others featured.

Also, I'm featured on the Happily Ever After blog today.  Drop by and post a comment.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday EBook Extravaganza for you Happeners!

Hi Readers:

I'm happy to be part of the Holiday Ebook Extravaganza.  Last night I attended a lovely Christmas dinner hosted by my husband's cousin for all the women in the family.  Someone suggested that everyone there take a turn and tell a tradition that they do in their family to celebrate Christmas.  

One of the cousins said she buys a special ornament for the women in her family who do things to make Christmas special.  Her mother-in-law, my husband's deceased  aunt, started doing that for her when she joined the family, telling her that "Christmas doesn't just happen.  Women make it happen."  Other relatives there confirmed that it wasn't my husband's aunt who started this tradition with her daughter-in-law, but my aunt's mother, my husband's grandmother, who has been dead for more than 50 years.  She used to put a silver dollar under the plate of those women who worked hard to prepare for Christmas.  What a lovely tradition, and it's now being carried on into a third generation.    

This time of year can be quite hectic for women who "make Christmas happen" for those they love.  I wish I could give all you "Happeners" a special ornament or silver dollar for all that you do to make the season merry and bright, but I can't.  But I can give you my thanks for making the world a much better and beautiful place in which to live and to offer you some advice:  Sometimes while doing all that needs to be done for the holidays, it's easy to misplace your Christmas spirit.  Please take some time for yourself this season.  One way is to sit and read a great Christmas story.  There are many featured in this extravaganza. My Christmas romance, A Shepherd's Song is guaranteed to help you reclaim the spirit.  Enjoy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tag--I'm It!

Thanks, Lily Silver, for tagging me for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.  Lily has a new book The Rock Star Next Door .  It is a modern fairy tale, and who doesn't need a good fairy tale?

The Next Big Thing originated on the She Writes site, as far as we could work out, and is designed to raise awareness of our work, or work in progress. We do that by answering ten questions about it. We graciously thank the person who nominated us, and tag five other authors whose work could well be that NEXT BIG THING.
Lily's book was featured in the Thanks for Great Book Blog Hop & Fall Book Release event that just concluded.  Click here to read more about it.

Now, it's my turn to answer the questions and tag five more writers.  So far, I've struck out on tagging anyone.  If you are interested, please contact me.  It's really not hard and a great way to spread the word about your NEXT BIG THING.

My latest novel, A Shepherd's Song, also debuted during the Thanks for Great Book Blog Hop, but since we are talking about the NEXT BIG THING, I'm going to preview the next book that will come out.

What is the title of your next book?

The title of my next book, which will come out in late spring, is CAPE CURSED. 

I just love the cover my designer created.  

Where did the idea come from for the book?

For more than 20 years, my family has vacationed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Some years ago, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was moved inland--a major engineering feat--to save it from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.  I wondered what would happen if a  Yankee girl's company came to the Outer Banks to move a beloved lighthouse?  Thus CAPE CURSED was born.

What genre does your book fall under?

CAPE CURSED is a romantic suspense.  

 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Bliss Sherman is the heroine and she is half Korean.  No Asian/American actresses came to mind so I googled some.  Sonia Couling best exemplifies the beautiful woman I see in my mind when I think of Bliss.  

Parker Swain is the handsome descendant of the lighthouse keepers.  He's blond, soft-spoken and a Southern gentleman.  Tim McGraw would be a good one or Matthew MConaughey.  

Nancy Klempner is Bliss's faithful assistant.  She's an athletic, blonde, older woman.  If we could frump up Nicollette Sheridan, she'd be perfect.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When beautiful Bliss Sherman arrives at Cape Destiny to move the cape's beloved lighthouse, she faces an even greater challenge when she falls in love with the handsome, mysterious descendant of the lighthouse keepers, Parker Swain, who is vehemently opposed to her moving the lighthouse and who may be trying to kill her.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

I'm a control freak.  I like self-publishing.

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

In all honesty, I' don't know. I've lost track.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

I'd say it compares to the seaside moodiness of du Maurier's classic Rebecca.  

 Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Strangely, one of the former secretaries where my husband's worked inspired me.  She was  very possessive of the company, even though she had no vested stake in the organization, other than being a regular employee.  Nancy is Bliss's assistant and is devoted to the company much as my husband's co-worker was.  

What else about your book might pique the reader interest?

The Outer Banks is a very romantic as well as treacherous place.  It is called the Graveyard of the Atlantic.  I wanted to capture the romance and danger of that stretch of coastline. 

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to contact me if you'd like to be THE NEXT BIG THING.    

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful for Great Books Blog Hop & EBook Releasea

Hi Regular Readers and Newcomers!

Welcome to Day 2 of The Thanks for Great Books Blog Hop.  I hope you are enjoying learning about all the other authors participating in the event. Here's some background on A Shepherd's Song.

I began to write it in 1996, and I had originally entitled it The Good Shepherd, but don't you know it, they made a movie called that while I was in the process of publishing it.  Darn you, Brad Pitt for stealing my title!

I considered calling it The Bad Shepherd, but I was afraid people might think it was like Bad Santa. 

I was inspired to write this book in response to the Tickle Me Elmo craze that swept the nation in 1996 when the toy debuted.  My niece Leah was only a six-months-old baby then, and she received one for Hanukkah, which fell a number of weeks earlier than Christmas that year.  As Tickle Me Elmo mania broke out in the country, many people urged my sister to sell Leah's Tickle Me Elmo for a ton of money.  The toy retailed for $28.99, but people were selling them for up to $1,500 a toy.  My sister didn't sell Leah's Elmo, but while people were assaulting each other trying to acquire the toy, I started to think about what kind of a person would "scalp" toys?

That's when Tom Shepherd came alive in my mind. The book is written from his perspective, that of a 22-year-old, disaffected young man who doesn't know the true meaning of Christmas.  When I read the first few chapters in my creative writing class, everyone liked them, but the young guys in the group all agreed that Tom needed to think about sex more often to be more realistic! So I had to learn to think like a guy! Why I felt compelled to write from the perspective of a young guy, I'll never know, but I'm thinking maybe therapy is in order.

Tom is my Ebenezer Scrooge.  I hope you will enjoy his journey as heals from his past and finally comes to know the joy of Christmas.

This book is also an allegory.  Does anybody remember from your English Literature class what that is?  Can you name any other allegories that you have read?

Don't forget to enter the raffle to the right and to check out the other authors participating in the blog hop. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanks for Great Books Blog Hop

Hi Regular Readers and First Time Visitors,

Welcome.  I'm glad you found your way to my site.  I'm participating in the Beach Book Blast taking place on Nov. 25-26 Thanks for Great Books Blog Hop and Fall Ebook Release Event! Nine authors are showcasing our new books at the Beach Book Blast website and at our sister site at the RG2E. My new Christmas novel, A Shepherd's Song is featured.  We've got something for everyone—from romantic suspense, to a sweet holiday romance, to a YA Dystopian and a few mysteries. 

To make the event even more fun, we’ve added prizes (a larger one at the Beach Book Blast site and smaller ones at some of the authors’ sites) and a blog hop where readers can connect to their favorite authors and learn what great books, characters, or authors have inspired them.

More About A Shepherd's Song

Tom Shepherd is anything but a hero.  A senior physics major at Three Rivers University in Pittsburgh, he just wants to make some easy cash for a trip during the coming spring break. On the last Sunday in November, he arrives at Holy Redeemer church in Perrysville to sell the Christmas season’s hottest toy, So Big Sammy, for three times its retail price to a buyer, but a snafu lands him in the middle of a bone marrow drive benefiting four-year-old Christo Davidson, who has leukemia.  When everyone there—including the media covering the event—assumes that Tom has come to give the toy to the sick boy, Tom has no choice but to give it away. 

Lauded by the media as a hero and bestowed with the nickname "The Good Shepherd," Tom finds himself an overnight celebrity.  As a toy scalper and liar, he knows he’s unworthy of the honor, but when Gloria Davidson, a fellow student and Christo’s relative, seeks out Tom to thank him for being kind so kind to her little cousin, Tom, bewitched by her beauty, embellishes his character and lies to further impress Gloria.  Tom asks Gloria out, beginning a relationship that will lead him to examine everything he believes. 

On Christmas Eve, Tom finds himself facing choices that will affect not only himself but also Gloria and Christo.  Tom must choose between sacrifice and honor, love and loneliness, life and death. 
Enter the Raffle

I'm so thankful to all of you who have read St. Anne's Day and have already started to read A Shepherd's Song, I wanted to show my appreciation.  Since this time of year can be stressful, particularly for women, with all the cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping, etc., I wanted to help you to find a way to relax.  I like to relax with a good book, and I also find the scents of the holiday season put me in a good mood.  Therefore, I'm raffling a $15 gift certificate to Bath & Body Works.  Maybe you will find time to sit by the Christmas tree with A Shepherd's Song, enjoying a twisted peppermint candle or maybe you will be able to read it in a warm vanilla sugar bubble bath.   One can hope! Be sure to enter the raffle at the right.

Buy A Shepherd's Song

Be Sure to Visit the Other Sites of those Participating

Click here to visit the Beach Book Blast website to enter the drawing for the $25 and $10 Olive Garden gift certificates, or click below to visit another Beach Blast author's blog.

Fabio Bueno @ http://www.fabiobueno.com
Debra Burroughs @ http://www.DebraBurroughsBooks.com
L.C. Giroux @ http://www.lcgiroux.com/thoughts
Stacy Green @ http://stacygreenauthor.com/
Stacey Joy Netzel @ http://staceyjoynetzel.blogspot.com/2012/11/thanks-for-great-books-blog-hopfall.html
PJ Sharon @ http://www.pjsharonyawriter.blogspot.com
Lily Silver @ http://romancinghistorylove.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Discipline of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I just read a great blog post for Thanksgiving by Jeff Goins.  Click here to read it, but one of the points he makes that I liked best is that gratitude is a discipline.  I'd never thought of it that way.  That got me to thinking--which can be very dangerous.

Being grateful isn't inherent to humans.  You will know this if you've every raised children.  How many times as a parent have you repeated these words to your small child:  "What do you say?"  Then you wait for the "Thank you."

Gratitude was a discipline when you were a child, and it remains one as we grow older.  To attain the higher things in life requires discipline.  You don't remain fit without the discipline to eat properly and workout (I should know).  You don't remain solvent without the fiscal discipline to resist buying every item that catches your eye.  You don't remain employed without the discipline to work hard and meet deadlines.  You don't achieve your writing dreams without the discipline to glue your bum to a chair and pound out words.  The examples go on and on.  

Clearly discipline leads to greater rewards.  When we practice the discipline of gratitude, what is the reward?  Besides making you and others feel better, it changes your perspective from one of lack to abundance.  All the self-help books tell you that you have to think it before you can see it.  Having an appreciative attitude is a creative mindset and opens the world to you.  It's small pain in the beginning for large gain later. 

This year I had the privilege to visit Plymouth, Massachusetts, when my daughter ran the Boston Marathon.  Below are a few pictures.  

When I first saw the replica of the Mayflower there, I couldn't believe how many people had been crammed in it and how treacherous it must have been to cross the vast ocean in that tiny ship. In early April, Plymouth looked very barren.  I can't imagine how inhospitable this stretch of coastline must have seemed to those Pilgrims who landed there.  

But instead of bemoaning their puny boat, rugged landscape, and how much work and uncertainty they faced in this new home--including death--they set aside time to be grateful to God that they had arrived safely, were free, and had survived well enough to harvest food for a feast.  

Their humble discipline of gratitude has opened the world to us.  May their discipline of gratitude be a shining example to us all and continue to open this great nation and it's people to even more blessings.  

Now to get that 23 pound bird into the oven!  

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm up at TheWriteChris Blog

TheWriteChris blog is featuring St. Anne's Day today.  Click here to read about my writing path. 


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Hi Readers:
It's been busy around here.  Last Saturday, I attended St. Teresa's craft show.  St. T's is my home parish, and it was great to meet so many people who stopped by to learn about my novel St.Anne's Day and my soon-to-be released Christmas romance, A Shepherd's Song, which will be released on November 23--in time to get you into the holiday spirit.   Keep monitoring this site for more information and be sure you are signed up for my newsletter so I can notify you of the events (think fun and prizes!) associated with the novel's release.  
St. Anne's Day is selling well and gathering great reviews.  To my delight, I just discovered some great reviews of it on Goodreads.  Here is a snippet to satisfy your St. Anne's Day Sunday craving.  It is the scene after Peg's birthday when she is giving Anne one of the gifts she received that she doesn't like.  In addition to not liking the present, Peg does not like the idea of Anne considering marriage to her old friend Dr. Craig Love because she thinks Anne is the girl for her son.  Here is a scene of passive-aggressiveness if I've ever one seen one.     Rather than stating her true feelings, Peg makes her point wrapped in concern for Anne.  Enjoy!

Peg tossed it to her.  Put it in your hope chest.  Save it for your honeymoon with Craig, dear.  That is if you get to take one.  You know those doctors are never home, and I understand they have a very high divorce rate.  That’s something you should consider before you marry him.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

St. Anne's Day Picks Up Atypical Fans

Hi Readers:

I had a great time at St. Teresa's Craft Show on Saturday.  I sold quite a few books and enjoyed meeting so many of you. I also picked up a great pair of Christmas earrings.

My neighbor at the next table was an artist named JoAnn Diegelmann who works in a new medium (at least, it was new to me) called giclee.  As I understand it, she takes digital photos then prints them out very lightly and then paints the images in acrylics.  They were very lovely, and I can't wait to do an article on her and her work. 

However, the best part of the day came from the woman from whom my husband and I rented an apartment when we were first married 30 years ago.  She dropped by my table and told me that she already has St. Anne's Day, and plans to read it as soon as her husband is finished with it!  She said he's loving it.  I had to laugh; a 70ish man is not my target reading market, but she said he comes every day and reports on the book, saying things like "You'll never believe what Peg said," or "Oh wow, Gerry cut his hand." 

I think that's hysterically funny, and I'm very flattered.

Northern Connection, the magazine I edit and where quite a bit of my writing appears has a new format making it much easier to read online.  It is now easier to read my articles too.  Here is a link to my article this month on moving kids and cars.

Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers & Beta Beauties

Hi and Happy Halloween!

For all of those on the East Coast, I hope you are safe and dry.  In Pittsburgh, we have been very fortunate.  Just rainy and gray, which is normal for this area-ha ha!

Here is a treat for you on this Halloween.  I'm guest blogging on Zee Monodee's Author's Corner. 

Here is the link to the site:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Welcome RG2E Readers!

Hi Faithful Readers and New Friends from RG2E,

For those who haven't figured it out yet, I'm guest posting (sounds like something Ed McMahon would do online) at RG2E.

Here is a link to the blog to save your fingers some clicking.


For those who have dropped by after reading my post, a big WELCOME to you.  Feel free to make yourself at home, leave a comment, sign up for my newsletter, but please don't open any closets--an avalanche of junk may cascade out!

I'm very happy to have you here.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Hi Readers:

I can't believe that we are nearing the end of October.  I hope you are enjoying the fall.  On this Sunday, I hope you will also enjoy this small sample from my novel St. Anne's Day, which can be purchased from Amazon, the Kindle store, Barnes & Noble Nook Store and Smashwords.  

This is the scene when Gerry's current girlfriend, Claudia, returns from a business trip, and she brings Gerry's mother, Peg, a gift.  As you may detect from the passage, Peg does not like Claudia.

Peg examined the box.  “Honey,” she said, scowling at Claudia, “you shouldn’t waste your money on expensive wrapping paper.  If you ever marry Gerry, you’ll have to learn to cut corners.  He’s not an architect anymore, and even though he still likes to put on the dog, barkeepers aren’t millionaires you know.”

Claudia pulled her lips into a sour smile.  “You were worth the extra expense.”



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

YOLO Is the Only Way to Go

This article originally appeared in the October issue of Northern Connection magazine.

I just celebrated my 30th wedding anniversary, and to commemorate the occasion, my husband and I headed back to where we honeymooned three decades ago, Bermuda.  One of the things we did on this trip, in addition to journeying back to the places we visited as newlyweds, was try to a new water sport—stand-up paddleboarding.  If you aren’t familiar with paddleboarding, you probably will be soon.  Our fun and lovely guides, Stephon and Shianne, told us that it had only come to Bermuda in the last few months and has already become quite popular.  It’s starting to catch on in various places in the U.S as well.  If you haven’t seen one, visualize a Venetian gondolier on a surfboard. 

As I’ve written before, I’ve kayaked so I was eager to try this new water sport, but as with any new experience, I was a bit nervous when our guides picked our group up outside our cruise ship. Would I be able to do it?  Would I fall off?  Would I make a fool of myself?

We traveled to beautiful Ely’s Harbour in Bermuda’s West End, where Stephon told us that we’d be using Yolo Yaks.  I was informed by a woman on the tour who worked at Penn State that Yolo is short for You Only Live Once.  She was traveling singly and told me that rather than stay at home and feel sad that her kid’s had left for school, she had booked herself on the cruise.  She had a Yolo attitude so I thought I’d ignore my jitters and just give it a go. 

Stephon told us the boards were virtually unsinkable, and the best way to get upright on them was to first kneel on the board and then slowly stand up, situating your feet nearly two-thirds of the way back in slight foot grooves on it.  You then take the paddle in hand, and off you go.  As we started out on the calm turquoise harbor water, I noticed how tense I was on the board.  I reminded myself to breath, relax, unlock my knees and look at the beauty surrounding us.  Then the 11 of us in the group paddled out beyond the calm waters of the harbor, past the sheltering rocks where the ocean water was choppy.  Paddling became more difficult as was remaining balanced on the board. 

We made our way to a forest of mangroves, which are fresh-water plants that grow in salt water.  Stephon told us to find a completely yellow leaf and a completely green one and then to chew each one.  It seems the mangrove plant is a real team player.  The yellow leaf tasted very salty as compared to the green on.  That is because the yellow leaf filters out the salt so that the rest of the plant can survive in the salty water.  While we were picking leaves, one of the members of the group lost his balance and plunged into the water.  He had been so intent on finding a good leaf, he had forgotten about balancing.  Relieved that I had not been the first to take the plunge, I wondered how he would ever get back up on the board.  As I studied his method, he got up with little difficulty. 

Next, we paddled to a cove that our guides informed us had once been the estate of mega-millionaire Robert Stigwood, who had, among his many ventures, managed the Bee Gees.  We took a swim at the beach there and were told that in the Saturday Night Fever heyday, the Bee Gees used to perform on that shore to the delight of the boaters moored there. 

The tour company had a group of kayakers out in the harbor too, and they paddled over to the shore.  Stephon asked if we would like to let the kayakers give our paddleboards a try for a while.  It was fun to share the knowledge we had gained even though we were still novices and to watch the little kids take to the boards like they had been born with one. 

We then paddled back to our launch point after spotting some turtles, a parrotfish and playing with a sea pudding, which Shianne said was akin to a sea urchin.  After two hours out on the water, my arms were getting tired. 

But as we rode the bus back through the tiny switchback streets lined with pastel-colored homes and palm trees, I thought how our paddleboarding adventure was a lot like life.  Everything goes better when you are relaxed.  Life is better lived in balance.  You can’t stand up immediately you have to build a good foundation and work your way up.  When the water gets choppy, dig that paddle in and keep on moving.  Focus and don’t get distracted or you’ll get tossed.  Don’t forget to look around at all the beauty.  Share with others; it doubles your fun.  And while you are at it, travel through life with the motto you only live once as your vehicle.