Monday, January 30, 2017

....but you don't look sick.

I am giving a speech tomorrow at Toastmasters.  It is my 10th speech in the Competent Communicators manual.  It is supposed to be inspirational.  I considered many subjects and decided to do it on my autoimmune diseases.  I'm not sure it is inspirational.  I hope some value will be found in it.

Remember this was written as a speech, not a blog, or a story.  

Last time I was at my Dr. as I was leaving the office he said, “Leslie, “  “Yes?”  “As far as your Lupus goes, you’re doing great.  Most people have died by the time they are 69!” 

Friends and Toastmaster,

I am ill.  I am very ill.  I know I don’t look very ill.  That’s a good thing. I work very hard to NOT look ill and to not act ill.  But the truth is, my body tries very hard to keep me from functioning. 

How can I look this AWESOME when I am not?  Sheer determination at times.  

How many know what an autoimmune disease is?

Do any of you know someone with an autoimmune disease?

What are some of the autoimmune diseases you are familiar with?

Are there other disabilities that you know of that are chronic and invisible?

I have more than one autoimmune disease.  That is not unusual.  Because it deals with the immune system breaking or wearing down it is possible that having one disease can trigger others. 

I have Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  

Even though I don’t feel normal pain my body does deal with it, so I will tell you that my biggest problem is the CFS.  I hit a wall suddenly without realizing how much pain I’m in.  When I hit a wall, it’s over.  I’m done.  My sister has MS and I recently saw her hitting the wall.  She was visiting and was enjoying her family totally when all the sudden I could see that she could hardly function.  Her only answer was to go directly to bed.  You could have offered her the greatest treasure at that point and it wouldn’t matter.  I’ve felt that debilitating monster but it was sad to see her suffer so. 

What issues do you think we deal with that are not directly related to pain and lethargy ?

1:  feeling judged
2:  Not being dependable
3:  Having to be proactive by always measuring my “Spoons”. 
4:  Easy tasks become undoable
5:  Missing out on important life moments
6:  Explaining which makes me feel broken
7:  Remaining positive
8:  Not becoming the disease

Some days I’m okay.  The smile is legitimate.  Most days I’m not.  The smile is to protect everyone I love.  Sometimes it becomes prideful because it is so dishonest.   People say “Hi, how are you?”  But they don’t really want to know.  Or maybe they do, but how do you know which ones do?  Then when you do find someone to share with and you regurgitate it all…..you immediately wish you hadn’t because now they will see you as the disease.  They may protect you, avoid you, feel sorry for you, or think of you only as your disease.  So why we hate hearing “but you don’t look sick”, we strive so hard to not look sick.  It is such a double edged sword. 



I wear the hairstyle I do because of my illness.  Some days I can’t lift my arms above my head to shampoo my hair, so it is greasy.  Some days I can wash it but nothing more, so it is straight, and has no style whatsoever.  Sometimes it gets so bad that it is easier to go to Fantastic Sams and have them wash it, than to do it myself.  But sometimes it is too painful to do that. 

Who ever thought taking a shower would become my to do list for the day:  I used to not even think about it.  Now, because I am a believer in doing anything difficult in small bites, it is an 11 step process.  Then I go to bed and spend the entire day getting over a shower. 

But these are the negatives.  And this speech is supposed to be inspirational so let me tell you about how I am learning to face my illness, and maybe how YOU can help those you love.  


I had a funeral one day. (Oh Leslie that sounds positive--but it really was) I eulogized the amazing, outgoing, capable, dependable, socially active Leslie.  The one anyone could count on.  The person who would do anything for anyone.  The leader, the mother who could be room mother for 3 sons, team mother for 3 teams, PTA President, Relief Society President, and caregiver all while cooking up the best Banquet dinners ever.  I had to let her go.  It was hard because I didn’t think she was that awesome until she was long gone.  Then I realized how amazing she was.  Isn’t that the way it is at funerals?

Does that sound awful?  It wasn’t.  It allowed me to accept me with flaws and I’m FLAWESOME!  I want each of you to go away from here knowing that your friends who can’t be what they want to be anymore are FLAWESOME too.  Cheer for them, praise them for their efforts, tell them that you love them because they are who they are, not for what they do or can’t do. 

After I accepted the me with limitations I was ready to kick the world in it’s butt my way.  First of all I needed to become a spokeswoman among my friends and family for the unseen people with invisible illnesses.  

Why do you think I believed I should do this?  Because people see me as “Little Sally Sunshine” scattering smiles and hugs.  So the truth might come easier from me than it might from someone who sees the world with a little darker eye.  I might not just be complaining, it might actually be true. (Is it working?)

Also, I am a person who doesn’t accept the darkness of reality I have to find a solution to brighten up the black truth.  I don’t have a research grant, and I can’t cure the incurable disease, but I can figure out ways to live with it, and help those who are living with these invisible diseases.   I can also educate people to be tolerant of those of us who are sick but don’t look sick. 

Last year I had one of my worst flares.  It knocked me upside the head, and down on the floor.  I was visiting my friends and family in CA.  I spent the entire 6 weeks in bed.  Well, I did get up for the really important things and then I got even worse.  I realized that I needed to learn how to survive if I couldn’t get out of bed anymore.  So this last year it has been my goal to find ways of living and contributing from my bed. 

Within reach of my pillow I have tons of books to lift my intelligence and sensibility if I can’t get up.  I have tablets, both paper and device, so I can research, listen to music, write speeches, blogs and keep in touch on Facebook.  Facebook.  Some people deride social media as a waste of time that is pulling us away from each other.  To me it is my connection.  I can keep in touch with my grand kids; Yesterday, two of my granddaughters shared successes in their lives.  I can face time if I can’t be there in person.  I can share positive memes and personal thoughts.  I can continue to scatter sunshine, smiles, and at least virtual hugs. Someone who has really affected my life in a similar way,  is a woman named Christine Miserandino.  She has lupus and administrates and writes for a web site called "butyoudontlooksick.com".  She developed the "Spoon Theory" which gives many of us a way to explain chronic and/or invisible illnesses. I hope you write this down so you can help others.  


When I’m not in bed, when I’m not bad, I have to be proactive always considering that what I do today will affect my tomorrows.  I have to count spoons.  My exercise program at Curves and my walks keep my body moving. I’m always considering eating plans and medications that might alleviate pain or symptoms.    There is never a moment, a time, that I’m not living in Lupus.  But I am not Lupus, Fibromyalgia, or CFS.   I REFUSE to be.



Getting a grip on Lupus is like tying Jello up with a string.  
Imagine that.  
How do you tie jello up with a string?  
You don't.  Just tie a bow with the string, and eat the jello.  

If you know someone who needs a friend, tell them I am available.  Who am I?  I am the new and improved the FLAWESOME Leslie.  



Monday, January 23, 2017

My Life as a Fluffy Girl

When I was born I was the cutest little thing.  What made me so special?  My little round face with my plump little cheeks.  So kissable.  I had that little pug nose and those sleepy eyes.  My neck was almost disappearing with rolls of fat it just cried out for zerberts.  I responded with lots of laughter.  My  little arms and little legs were chunky and short.  My aunt tried to eat me one day because I was so cute.  Do you know what?  I still have that round face, plump cheeks, a pug nose and sleepy eyes.  I have no neck and yes it is still has those rolls.  My arms and legs are still very short and very chunky, well FAT actually.  So my problem is that I never grew out of that baby look.  As a matter of fact one of my friends, Sherri Johnston, posted a little picture of me that I totally identify with.  A little baby girl dressed stylishly and flaunting some swag.  She said that it reminded her of me.  I loved it.
Yep totally me!
So, I was a chunky, cute, loved little baby and now I am a 69 year old woman who now accepts and loves who I am.  But what about the time between?  Did I always accept myself?  Did others accept me?  What were some of my experiences and feelings as a "fluffy" girl?  I think my blog today will deal a bit with what it's like to be a plus size person growing up and living in a world where skinny is in.

I was not heavy through my life.  When I go back and look at pictures of me as a child and young girl I don't think I looked overweight at all.  However I always remember feeling like a little fat girl.  My build was muscular and muscles are heavy.  So I am sure that those who picked me up as a child thought I was definitely heavier than most little ones. I find that to be true with some of my grandchildren.  There are a couple of them that are built just like I was with those chunky thighs and heavier arms.  They wear the same size as the other kids their age. They don't look overweight in any way, but if you lift them they are solid, and much heavier than their cousins.  My father's mother, Grandma Bliss was short so I probably got my height from her, but I don't know where the rest of my build came from.  None of the rest of my siblings got the muscular frame I had.  So the gene didn't seem that strong, but two of my sons got my build, and several grandchildren did, so obviously the gene passed on pretty significantly.  So genetics played a part in my build.  I would say 30%

What a doll!
   Look at that baby.  Pretty cute if I do say so myself.  By Christmas though I was really chunky.  My mom must have fed me well.  I do know she nursed me till I was 13 months.  Always sporting the chubby cheeks, pug nose, and those solid legs I didn't look too big.  Healthy but nothing to worry about.
2 1/2 Looked like Shirley Temple

 My mom was a good cook.  She described the difference in a gourmet cook and a good cook to me when I was young.  A gourmet cook can make a beautiful dish with a recipe and all the right ingredients.  A good cook can make something delicious out of whatever is on hand.  We always had a good breakfast, healthy lunch, and well balanced dinner.  Our meals could have been put on a "how to" for the food pyramid.  So my issue with food didn't come from a bad example.  But I think I started being concerned about being fat by the time I was 8 years old.  I did always weigh in heavier than my friends, and I wasn't as active as some of them.  Being such a "girly girl", sometimes called "prissy" I would prefer staying inside playing tea party than outside playing red rover.  I never learned to ride a bike until I was an adult, and I did awful at some of the activities in "gym".  But again I didn't look heavy in my pictures.  In my mind I was though.
7 years old
I remember even at 7 & 8 years old I was worried about being bigger than all my friends.  That was back in the 50's.  It is so much worse for little girls now than it was then. I do think parents and society gave mixed messages.  It was certainly the time the world was concerned about not wasting food.  At times I felt personally responsible for the kids in China.  I didn't quite grasp how eating everything on MY plate would help those kids across the world.  I was just being taught to be grateful.  I did learn to be grateful, and I also learned to clean up my plate and that nothing should go to waste.  When I was older my own kids thought it was ridiculous that they had to drink all their milk, soda, or juice when at a restaurant.  We would often sit longer just to get that job done.

Made that dress and won a blue ribbon at 8 years old 
While my parents were telling me to clear the plate they were also telling me not to each too much.  That translated to me that they saw me as "fat".  Afterall they didn't remind the other kids that they shouldn't have a 2nd donut, or cookie. I found myself eating when I perceived my mom had gone to the effort to cook something because I didn't want her to think it was not appreciated.  I was in Brownies/Girl Scouts and 4H as a child.  I made the dress above and won a blue ribbon.  Not too fat there.  I sewed a lot of my own clothes from 4th to 8th grade.
I was 10 in this picture.  I see a very slender girl here.  You couldn't see my muscular arms or legs though.  I do remember being aware that I was much shorter and heavier than any of my friends.  Probably not a big deal, but it was a big deal to me.  
12 years old
I really think I am quite a young beauty here.  My eyebrows were a little thick, but I think I'm darn cute in this picture.  But I remember when we took a family picture at this time I was not self confident.  I remember thinking I would stand out as a "fatty" in my family pictures.  It's hard to imagine why I went down that road, but I did.  

13 years old
The holiday picture above is probably the last time I was the tallest sibling.  The summer following this holiday we went to California for the first time on vacation.  So many new things and new people.  I remember being terribly concerned about how I didn't match up to young "California" girls.  I remember watching videos after the vacation. We came to one where Lynette, my Dad, and I were running in from the surf to the beach.  While we were watching my Dad said, "Look Leslie, your thighs are bigger than mine".  I absolutely don't believe my parents EVER had the intention of hurting me.  They probably didn't even realize I had a low self esteem because of my weight, but I feel probably by this current posting I have replayed that comment in my head 2,953 times.  It just added to my own concerns.

16 years old

When I was 15 1/2 we moved to California.  It was extremely hard to be taken from my friends in Denver.  My high school years were:  9th grade at Merrill Jr High (cherry red and grey), 10th grade starting at a new school in Denver George Washington High School (Go green & white!). The last of 10th grade I went to Buena Park High School in CA.  11th and 12th grade I was at Sunny Hills High School.  Imagine how difficult it was for a girl who was really a little shy, and was embarrassed to meet new people.  I became even more aware of beautiful people around me and that I didn't measure up.  I remember on my 16th birthday we had lived in CA for 6 months.  We had a small family party and my mom and Dad let me get my hair done special and I wore a semi formal to that party.  I look at the poor picture which I won't post here because it was a poor picture camera wise.  But I remember I had put myself on a pretty restrictive diet {the grapefruit diet where I at grapefruits, hard boiled eggs, and more grapefruit.}  For my birthday dinner I just had a salad and put dressing on it.  I must have had more dressing than salad because I gained 3 pounds that day.  I walked around always feeling embarrassed and fat.  This was in direct opposition to my life because I have always had so many friends, and so many boyfriends.  I got married at 18 but I don't think I ever went to dances {We would go hear the popular bands of the day in this big hall.  You would go single and then dance.)  My friend Pam, reminds s me I danced always.  I couldn't figure that out.  Why would someone be so eager to dance with me?

I felt the same way with dating.  Never without a date on Friday or Saturday nights, many boyfriends telling me I was beautiful, but I couldn't get it. I asked a friend who was first my friend, then my boyfriend, and then a friend again why guys were so interested in me.  He said, you're cute, you're fun, and you've got those sleepy bedroom eyes.  None of my friends, or boyfriends ever saw me as fat, or even fluffy.  But I still saw myself that way.  I would never have french fries or milkshakes like my friends.  Whenever I was out with them I didn't eat because I didn't want to embarrass myself .

Another problem was Twiggy.  Twiggy was the icon of beauty at the time.  I don't know what Twiggy's measurements were but she was 90 pounds and 5'6", more than 6 inches taller than me.

 If Mae West was the icon of beauty I would have had no problem.  She was my height, 5'0", and was known for her large top, tiny waist, and larger bottom.  Just like me.    At 18 when I got married I wore a size 5 dress and was devastated because it showed how huge I was in my mind.  I weighed 108 pounds, and my measurements were 34-19-35. Yes 19 " waist!

But I wasn't in my teens during the time that Mae West, Jayne Mansfield, and Jean Harlow were popular with their womanly bodies.  I was growing up in the time the "boyish" Twiggy and Mia Farrell were the icons.  So I starved myself even more.


In the two pictures above I was 19 years old and married to this amazing guy who thought I was cute from the moment he saw me.  In the top picture with my family the 19' waist was pretty apparent.  But, then I went from embarrassing my parents because I was big to feeling like Bud would be embarrassed because he had a fat wife.  I was constantly dieting by this time.  When I would go to Dr's they would just tell me to eat less.  That was the answer back then.  If you are overweight, eat less.  So I kept eating less and less.  I tried all kinds of diets through the next 10 years while I was having my children and building a home.  My weight was forefront in my mind always.
Leslie at 24 right before Jim was born.

 When I was 24 I had just had Jimmy. I didn't gain weight during my pregnancies because I had morning sickness morning noon and night,.  With Jimmy I gained only 11 pounds, but I could enjoy any food I wanted because I would just throw it up.  It was pregnancy induced bulemia.  Problem was after I had my babies I gained because I was no longer throwing up.  I went to a Dr. daily after he was born to receive a shot of pregnant cows urine and I was on 500 calories a day.  I also exercised daily.  I was on that plan for 3 months but I only lost 5 pounds in the first 2 weeks and never lost any more.  It wasn't working to eat less to get weight off.  Now what?

Well I have done Weight Watchers multiple times and followed the program religiously each time,  And each time I gained weight while everyone else lost.  I have had pills, programs, even had apparatus put on my mouth to keep me from eating anything solid.  With Body Blue Print I gained weight in the first 1 week  "lose quick" plan.  I ate only fish and vegetables the whole time.  I called to receive help and was told for the first time.  "Oh, I'm so sorry.  You are one of those people who gains weight because they don't eat enough"  I was about 55 when I heard that.  What????  I don't eat enough?  All these years putting my every thought and effort into eating less, and now you're telling me I am getting fatter and fatter by not eating enough??

By the time I had heard that, I had gone from 108 at marriage to about 180 by eating less and less and less.  I had had a nervous breakdown about my weight.

mental breakdown (also known as a nervous breakdown) is an acute, time-limited mental disorder that manifests primarily as severe stress-induced depressionanxiety, or dissociation in a previously functional individual, to the extent that they are no longer able to function on a day-to-day basis until the disorder is resolved. A nervous breakdown is defined by its temporary nature, and often closely tied to psychological burnoutsevere overworksleep deprivation, and similar stressors, which may combine to temporarily overwhelm an individual with otherwise sound mental functions.

By the time I had heard that, I had gone from 108 at marriage to about 180 by eating less and less and less.  I had had a nervous breakdown about my weight.  I was having out of body experiences.  Described by me as sitting on a shelf watching myself up high in the room { kind of like Samantha in Bewitched) perceiving me going through daily activities while not being really present.  I would be imagining what people were thinking and saying about me. If I would go into the front yard I would imagine every person in every car laughing and mocking me.  It was a dark time.  So many dark times due to my weight, that I didn't fully enjoy my happy life, or my wonderful kids, neighbors, community, even my faith.  I was so wrong to make my outside projection take precedence over who I am inside.
 



There weren't a whole lot of pictures of me during that time.  I took them, but I avoided them.  I also was inactive for years in my church because I wasn't going to go until I lost weight.I didn't put on swimming suits. One year when Bud and I were having a once a year argument I realized we did that every year about the same time as the Ward Beach Party.  Without realizing it I became so tense about being at the beach with friends that I would pick an argument. My weight affected every single thing I did or thought.

 Something had to change.  I had to like me for who I was, fluff and all.  It has been a long quest.  I only wish I could have learned this at a much younger age.  I do like me!  I am not my weight and if I set that qualifier aside I'm not so bad.  When my funeral comes I do not think anyone will get up and describe me by my weight.  It's not that important.

I stopped trying to lose weight.  I don't ever go on diets.  I DO continually try to eat better for my health.  I recognize that I am morbidly obese which means that someday I will die and my weight will have a great deal to do with why.  I went back to Curves too.  But again to strengthen my health not to lose weight.

God created me.  He didn't make junk so to speak badly about myself is mocking Him.  I know my picture is in his wallet.  Maybe in heaven my exterior is the perfect exterior.  It's only in this world that we put "Twiggy's" on pedastels,  I am as good as any skinny little model in my own way.

I can now laugh about being fluffy, just like I can tease about my squinty smiling eyes, or my T-Rex arms.  It's all part of who I am.  God loves me, my family loves me, my friends love me.  They do not care what package I am in and neither do I.

I used to describe that my greatest challenge was my weight, now it's one of my greatest gifts because I had to learn to love me in spite of it.

So my weight problems are a combination of:  genetics, mixed messages from home and in the world, trying to be something I'm not, way way way too much dieting, and self hate.  I love me all 200 pounds of me.  Wish I had learned it back when I was 16.

We are all divine creatures no matter what color skin,. eye shapes, height, weight, strong or weak.  God created us!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Empower YOURSELF!


There is nothing that drives me crazier than when someone blames other people for their unhappiness.  

Now I realize that there is always more than one side, so yes other people can rock your boat.  Others are not perfect by any means and they certainly can create road blocks along your way.  Sometimes your life is absolutely turned upside down and what you thought to be true is no longer truth.  That is tough.  I've gone through that at least once in my life.  People ask me how I survived my divorce and circumstances of my divorce.  Well I will tell you it was not by sitting around blaming him for my problems.  That is why they say that forgiveness is for you more than the person you are forgiving.  You need to move forward.  It is impossible to move anywhere if you are sitting around blaming the other guy.  Or if you are holding on to "Why me?" when you find out you have a chronic illness or worse.  

Just imagine losing a job.  It may not be your fault at all.  You may have been an amazing employee, managed to be at work on time, had a great work ethic, never missed work.  Then here you are without a job due to the economy, or other reasons beyond your control.  You have two choices. (1) Sit around and think about how unfair life is.  Why did so and so get to stay and you didn't?  You can have a pity party for a long time on that one.  Tell your friends all about it, including how poorly run everything was and that you did the best job there and it just isn't fair.  Or, you can (2) be grateful you have all those great skills that many employers are looking for.  Ask your previous employer for a good reference, and start getting those resumes out.  Which of those two options will get you back to happiness and wholeness the quickest?  It's not hard to see, yet we give up that power so easily.  

Of course it's devastating, and sometimes you have to try a few different things before it works, but if you continue to use your power you will come through.

When Bud and I separated we did so on pretty good terms.  It was not anything that anyone did wrong really it was just circumstances.  But, I could have blamed and complained for sure.  I didn't do everything right believe me.  It was a lot of trial and error but I never lived in a place where I was blaming Bud.  That would have ruined my kids relationship with him, and what good would that do anyone?  We continued to gather as a family for many celebrations even after we divorced.  That was good for our family health.  It was not good for me.  It hurt me to see him unhappy each time I saw him, but I couldn't fix him.  I couldn't will him to be happy.  You cannot change other people unless they are willing to change.  So I empowered myself and moved to Utah to create a new chapter in my own life.  I remember being very unhappy in my loneliness at times.  I missed my life.  I missed my marriage.  There was a lot of time on my knees.  I cried out to the Lord to help me.  He was there.  He listened.  He understood, He held me.  He healed me.  Me!  If I had spent that time berating the situation and blaming Bud and the circumstances then I wouldn't have been able to ask the Lord to change my circumstances, to heal ME.  

I have a friend who has led a horrible life beyond any pain that most of us could imagine.  She has PTSD from the trauma.   The thing that I have admired most in her is that she worked first on forgiving those who harmed and damaged her so she could move forward to heal herself.  Amazing growth.  She has come so far and she will heal because she is keeping the power and not giving it away to those who devastated her life.  

Think of Helen Keller.  I can't imagine how horrible it would be to be in her circumstances.  We all know she was an angry little girl.  When Annie Sullivan gave her power to move forward she no longer blamed and was angry, she became hungry for more and more knowledge.  

I have a nephew, David who is blind.  He was born prematurely and it created the issue.  He had some sight when he was younger, but now he just can tell a little difference between light and darkness.  I have never seen him throw up his hands and curse the Lord for his blindness.  No, he teaches others at the Colorado Center for the Blind how to get around with their white stick.  How to get on buses, trains, planes.  It is amazing to watch him.  He used to be a guide at a survival camp taking kids at risk on hikes.  I asked him how he could lead them?  He said with humor, "If I run into a tree I tell them not to go that way".  David carved our turkey at Thanksgiving.  He loves rock climbing.  Would he do that if he spent his time blaming?  His wife, Maureen, is also blind.  She became totally blind at 18.  She has a disease that creates tumors.  She has also lost her kidneys (her brother gave her one of his).  She has had multiple surgeries removing the tumors. Right now she is talking to an radiologist because she has six new tumors in her head.  They will either have to do two surgeries to remove them, or perhaps radiation will solve some of the problem.  Does this stop Maureen?  Does she sit around and blame genetics? (This is a hereditary disease)  Heck no!  She isn't going to spend time blaming.  She gives herself the power to do anything she wants to do.  She teaches how to cook at the Center for the blind, she does videos on how a blind person does things.  http://cocenter.org/breaking-blind-blind-person-makes-sugar-scrub-wefitwellness-mbassmaster/.  Also, she just became a certified instructor for Zumba. She is going back to school this year.  

I know so many people who have ground their wheels into the sand by blaming others for their trials.  They can't get out now they are in so deep.  I'm not judging them.  They are obviously in pain.  I just wish I could help them see they could change things by taking their power back.   I'm not talking about other things that create depression and unhappiness. I'm talking about how blaming others creates that pain. It's "the other persons fault" they can't move forward.  So they don't have to do anything, they give that power to the other person, to the circumstances of their life.

  I also know so many people who have recognized that blaming others gives up your power.  Who wants to give your power to someone else?  Not I.  Well, to the Lord, I will give my power to the Lord when I can't carry a burden.  But no one else.  Why would I do that?  Why would I do that?  Why would you do that?

So, the moral of this blog is:  If Your Life is Miserable Stop Blaming Others and Empower YOURSELF!  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Blogging/Writing

Am I a writer? Wikipedia says this about a writer: writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate their ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novelsshort storiespoetryplaysscreenplays, and essays as well as various reports and news articles that may be of interest to the public. Writers' texts are published across a range of media. Skilled writers who are able to use language to express ideas well often contribute significantly to the cultural content of a society.

Well,  I guess I am a writer.  I have lots of papers  written on many topics.  My husband, Bud always encouraged me to write.  He thought I was good.  One of the things he would say to me was "You should get that published".  I didn't ever think there was anything particularly good about things I wrote, but I thought it was very nice and supportive that he thought so.  My mom also has encouraged me to write.  She says, "Leslie, you have a way with words.  You got that from your father."  That is a high compliment to me because I loved everything my dad wrote.  I didn't ever know if he particularly wrote well, or if he thought well.  He was sensitive, romantic, and had a great memory so what he thought was beautiful, and he did have the words to express himself.   I am like my father in that I am sensitive, romantic and have a great memory and those are good characteristics to have if you are a writer.  There is still a big question mark to me about whether I am a good writer.  One thing I have realized is that if I pick up something I wrote about my life or my feelings and read it, it will take me back to the moment and feelings I had.  So I guess that is a positive thing.  At least it's good for me in kind of a journal keeping writer.

So, let's say I am a writer.  Then the question arises, Am I an author?   Again turning to Wikipedia it says: An author is narrowly defined as the originator of any written work and can thus also be described as a writer (with any distinction primarily being an implication that an author is a writer of one or more major works, such as books or plays). More broadly defined, an author is "the person who originated or gave existence to anything" and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created.

According to this definition I guess I am an Author too because I have written (or started writing) many books, poetry, humorous short stories, blogs, and speeches.  What my goal is to become a published author.

Sitting down and writing something is no small task.  First you have to find the time.  I thought I would have oodles of time when I retired, but it is not so.  For some reason sitting down to do anything makes me feel lazy so I have to do all physical tasks first, before I allow myself to start writing.  That attitude will have to change if I am going to accomplish my goal of being a writer, author, and published author.  It will have to become a priority.  After finally sitting down, as I have done tonight I find that the next big step is to find something to write about.  Once I have done that the words seem to flow.  Not necessarily that they are the best words, but I can write fairly quickly when I determine a topic.

To become a published author is much different.  Writing is a right brain activity, and finding out how to publish what you have written is a left brain activity.  I always kind of considered myself more left brained but in this case the right brained writing comes so much easier than the left brained business.
One of my goals in 2017 is to write more.  I don't know who might read these things I write, or if it is even important that anyone reads them.  Practicing a skill makes it better, supposedly.  So therefore if I want to be a published author I need to practice.  My granddaughter Leah is taking piano lessons.  Her goal, or maybe her teachers goal is for her to do a recital to perform.  She can teach Leah the skills, but if Leah doesn't practice then Leah won't be ready to amaze us with her increased ability on the piano.  My other goal is to publish at least one of my works.  About 8 years ago I wrote a children's Christmas book.  It took me about 45 minutes to write, and it is the first time I thought what I wrote was good, commercially good.  Like it might be something people would like to buy if it was published and put on a shelf somewhere.  See, 45 minutes to write it, but 8 years later it isn't published.  Six years ago I found a publisher who would publish, but then I got cold feet, moved to Utah, and went through some new chapters in my own life, therefore, it didn't get published.

Now it has become very popular to self publish and self promote.  Or should I get a literary agent who can help me jump through the hoops?  Where do I find a literary agent, or a publisher?  Well, I better get my left brain working and get busy because my goal for 2017 is to be a published author by the end of the year.  Then everyone can buy my Christmas book for all the children in their lives.

After that it might be easier to publish my Positive Words book, or for Lynette and I to publish our chapter book that we co-wrote many years ago.  Now there is a writer.  Lynette can write something that is so detailed that you feel you are there.  She has been known to bring me to tears with that gift.  My sons Marque and Jim are both very talented writers. Again, I think half of the gift is the sensitivity, creative mind and word craft to be able to express yourself.

Okay, I am going to be doing more blogs now......practice, practice, practice.  If anyone out there in the blogging world has any association with literary agents, or has any idea how to go about self-publishing, or not self publishing, please share your wisdom.  Also, even though I haven't written a lot lately I have written in past years.  So if you would like to read some of my things, please tell me if you think I am a writer, or not.  I am really good at accepting critique.  Probably much better at that than accepting compliments.  But either would be welcome.

And they lived happily ever after!