Tuesday, March 26, 2024

On Writing and Teaching and Writing Again

On Writing and Teaching...

And Writing Again

My second grade teacher liked a story I wrote. She submitted it to the school newspaper and it was published. It was kind of a big deal since our school hosted grades kindergarten through grade eight. (And no…I am not talking about a one-room school!)


In twelfth grade, we had a substitute teacher for the second half of the year while our regular English teacher was on maternity leave. The woman replacing her (and yes, I wish I could remember her name) was not only a teacher but also a published author. Her first assignment was something along the lines of a first person story to help her get to know us. 


“You may edit and revise these for a better grade,” she announced as she walked through the room, the graded papers in hand. I watched as many of my classmates cringed. I heard a few groans.


Breathing On Her Own
1st novel still going strong...
The teacher paused at my desk, put my composition down and tapped it with her finger. “You, young lady… you are a writer.”


With those experiences under my belt, I headed to the University of South Florida determined to be….


A teacher. 


You read that right. Those two women inspired me to be a teacher. I wanted to be that person who encouraged kids, demonstrated confidence in them, and gave them a chance to shine.


I taught in the public schools for nineteen and a half years during which time I worked hard to receive my advanced degrees. I then taught at the university for fourteen and a half years. I loved teaching children and I loved teaching young women and men to be teachers.


In 2011, my husband had a series of heart “incidents” leading to a quadruple bypass late in the year. On the follow up visit in early December, the surgeon told him, “This is hereditary. This will happen again.”


We decided to retire. 


Tom said he would golf and fish everyday. I told him I would be a writer. I was able to craft two novels before Tom died in 2014. They have done well. But I hobbled along after his death. I kept the blog going, remodeled a house, and moved. I lived oversees and taught fourth grade in Kosovo for a year. 


But writing? Only my blog made it through that dark time of life. I had a few “fits and starts,” but nothing great. And very little finished.


If you follow my blog, you know that I am now remarried to a wonderful man. Mike and I will celebrate our first anniversary in April. Mike, like Tom, is an encourager. He likes my writing. And he loves me. 


So yes, I am writing again. Those “fits and starts” I mentioned earlier? Three unfinished novels now have direction. Several other projects beg my attention, but they can wait. Like life…I’m taking my writing one step at a time and enjoying every minute of it.

All books are available on Amazon...

Libby's Cuppa Joe 
Novel #2

Chicken Soup for the Soul Books with
From the Lake to the River Anthology on top

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Crossing the Finish Line


 Crossing the Finish Line


We’re almost to the finish line on the remodel. 


The Cat Knows How to Chill
During a Remodel...
Totally Adaptable Feline


The floors we ordered are installed throughout the house. The new vanity in the guest bathroom is now operational, though the mirror we ordered won’t be delivered for a couple of weeks. The stone facing on the fireplace will be completed this week and the backsplash in the kitchen in done. Of course, there may be a bit of touch up painting here and there. I’m not worried. Our contractor is quite diligent. 


And…now…we finally retrieved the stove from the garage and moved the refrigerator in from the back porch.


Loving the New Kitchen

The countertops are beautiful. The kitchen sink is in place and hooked up to water. That means no more washing dishes in the garage. (See last week’s post HERE.) 


Also, having a sink sitting there not hooked up? Mike and I both caught ourselves about to pour our ice or the last drop of lemonade in the sink as we pass by. We didn’t do it, but it is a habit we had to address.


I won’t say “never again” to paper plates. Just not every meal… every day. And I’ll still enjoy eating out from time-to-time. But I like to cook and this kitchen makes it even more enjoyable.  


The big stuff is out of the way. 


If you read the February 28th post, you know we tore everything out. Including a few walls. We had new cabinets installed. New lights and ceiling fans made the whole house feel updated. 


Don’t misunderstand. I still enjoy music from the seventies and eighties. I just don’t care for the old fixtures and ugly paint. 


Everything that needed fixed is fixed and the whole house is painted inside and out.


* No more ordering pizza one night and reheating slices in the George Foreman the next. And yes, that can be done. 

* Less eating out. More eating in. 

* No more having to order on Grub Hub. Though we discovered new places.

* No more cooking in a crockpot on the porch.



We’ll still go out to eat from time-to-time, but somehow the food tastes better when you dine at a restaurant by choice instead of by need.


We are now in a place where, hopefully, there will be no more nights away from home unless we are on vacation. We appreciate Mike’s nephew letting us use his lake cottage nearby. It is beautifully decorated and comfortable, but those three days confused the pets and left us a bit disoriented ourselves. 


I simply sleep better in my own bed.


As I began crafting this post, it occurred to me how we all become comfortable with “the way things are” and tend to “live with it,” be it good or bad. That includes our habits. The foods we eat. Our health. Our surroundings. Change forced upon us can be hard. But often, those simple transformations serve to make life better. More enjoyable. Healthier.


The more adaptable we are, the better we handle change. Or perhaps, for some of us, the more we face change, the more adaptable we become. I don’t know.


What I do understand is this: To navigate life we must face change and the challenges that come with it. 

If we face those challenges head on instead of letting everything sort of flatten us like a steamroller, in the end we are better people for it. 

We grow stronger, become more flexible and we are happier. We cross the finish line as winners in every way.


What changes have you faced? How adaptable are you? I’d love to hear your story.



Tuesday, March 12, 2024

20 Ways to Keep From Writing Your Blog

  Twenty Ways to Keep From Writing Your Blog

Twenty ways to keep from writing a blog post on time while renovating your house… Since obviously, being totally distracted living in a house with plywood countertops, an almost finished fireplace, and a missing vanity, you still need to craft a blog post.

Here’s the list:


1)   Forget where you put your computer when the floor guys were installing your new floor.


2)   Find your computer and decide to play a game while you think about the blog.


3)   Take a walk so you get a few steps in. Everyone knows exercise and fresh air helps you think. 


4)   While you are out, chat with a few neighbors. It

       is important to be neighborly.


5)   Go to the refrigerator…relocated on the porch during your renovation… for some cold water. 


6)    Decide on sweet tea instead.


7)    With potato chips.


8)    Find something interesting on television.


9)    Wash your hands after eating way too many



10)   Sit down at your computer, determined to write

        a stellar blog post. 


11)    Stare at the computer.


12)    Let the dog out.


13)    Let the dog back in.


14)    Sit back down at your computer. 


15)    Notice there is a bit of dust on the end table 

         by the couch. Dust  anything that doesn’t



16)    Meet the Habitat for Humanity truck so they

         can load up the dishwasher, sinks, and ceiling

         fans you no longer need.


17)    Watch your husband cook dinner on the grill.

         Because… during the construction mess you

         have no stove. (Well, you have one,

         but it is in the garage.)


18)    Watch your husband wash dishes in the garage

         utility sink since your new kitchen sink isn’t 

          installed yet.


19)    Laugh when your husband comes up with a

        workable dish drainer system. Hey the tools

        weren’t using that pegboard anyway.


20)    Look at your list. Decide that’s good enough for one day. Join your husband to watch the sunset over the water.


The truth? Our contractor is doing a stellar job. All is falling into place as planned. Yes, living in the house during the remodel has been a challenge, but well worth it. By next week’s post, we expect to be enjoying our home fully. 

In the meantime, Mike is good at making it all work!

If you wash dishes in the garage, 
of course you drain them on your pegboard!

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Cattle Dogs

Cattle Dogs, Readers, Writers, and Musicians

 I had seen the sign “Cattle Dog” while walking around Inverness. But to be honest, I hadn’t explored that stretch of restaurants and stores since moving here last summer. 


The only cattle dog I know is a beautiful Australian Blue Heeler named Honeybee. As it turns out, Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters was named after another beautiful Australian Blue Heeler named Barney.


Our Blue Heeler, Honeybee

A Facebook friend and I connected through one of our high school online groups. Stephanie and I were a year apart and had never met, though we had several high school friends in common. We discovered we now lived fairly close to each other in Citrus County. 


After a bit of messaging, we decided to meet for a cup of coffee. Where? You guessed it, Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters in Inverness. 

Chamberlain Grads:
 That's Stephanie in Pink


Stephanie let me know she liked my writing and followed my blog. She had read Breathing on Her Own and Libby’s Cuppa Joe. And, although I’ve published in several Chicken Soup for the Soul publications as well as other articles, my heart wasn’t in my writing after Tom died in 2014. I’ve often said that the day he died, the ink ran out of my pen.


But my life is on the mend. That is in a huge part due to my husband. Mike likes my writing and encourages me in it. Because of him, my interest in writing has found new life. 


In Ohio, I was connected to a couple of writing groups. I hadn’t made that connection in Florida. I know the power of participating in such a group. Before I married Mike last April, I kept my blog going, but writing another novel? No. I had a few “fits and starts,” as they say, but nothing sustainable. 


I found renewed interest and starting churning out a couple of thousand words a day after Mike and I married and it feels good.


When Stephanie and I met at the coffee shop, she had copies of my books. She wanted my autograph. Though I was honored, I was also humbled by that request. As we talked, I shared with her how I was finally writing again. We were sitting at a little table for two near a small bookcase. We both had a brunch item and coffee and enjoyed quiet conversation about the journeys we had taken in life. Note: “quiet conversation.”


Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters

Then a band started to assemble and people started pushing tables together right next to us. We could have moved, but the band was great. They are called “Grey Denim” and played songs from our era. Stephanie and I smiled at hearing songs of the seventies. 

We didn’t stop there. We kind of sang along. I’ll admit it. 


We both pulled out our phones to catch some of the music. I mean these guys were great and... the band gave everyone present permission to take pictures and record their performance.


Grey Denim

As it turns out, the sixteen people or so who assembled next to us were there to support one of their group members who played in the band. “What kind of group?” You ask. 


A group of writers. Writers of varying genres. Writers supporting other writers. Writers who meet once a month…near me… and they call their group Citrus Writers. Their regular once-a-month meetings are on Wednesdays. This was a social event. There were men and women…writers of varying levels… all from my county in Florida gathering to enjoy a great lunch and listen to one of their own perform with the band.


I consider it an answer to prayer. I have wanted to connect with other writers in the area. 


As for Stephanie? We had great conversation and enjoyed each other’s company. We will meet again. We hope to get our spouses together as well. 


And me? I am writing. Need I say more?

*A big thank you to Sheila McDonald of Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters for sharing the coffee shop's story with me. Want to know more? Click HERE.