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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What I learned from a 2-year-old this weekend.

I've spent the last few days in picturesque Seaside, Florida with my cousins and their families. Seaside is an amazing, quaint little town on the panhandle of Florida. Quiet, serene, and relaxing. We've spent lazy days where lunch isn't over until 4 pm and we simply sit on the beach together talking. Although we haven't seen one another in years, the forty-plus years I've known them erases any hiccups in time between visits. We seamlessly fall back into a familiarity that wraps me in warmth and love. No expectations. No awkward silences. And no make-up required. Although we're hundreds of miles from home, we're home.

My cousin, Ann, has a beautiful two-year-old daughter, McKenzie (that's her cherubic face in the pic). Until this weekend, I'd only seen her in pictures, which belied her beauty and sweetness. Yesterday, she sat watching a movie after having a full morning of play and pool time. Her eyelids kept slowly closing with fatigue. Her head bobbed. Her arms twitched. And just as she succumbed to sleep, she jerked her head up and protested, "I not tired." We watched her, laughing and breathing in her innocence and fortitude.

It reminded me of my own life, and that of most people I know. Our lives are filled with family, friends, activities, obligations, vacations, work, commitments to community. We become overloaded and our heads bob as our metaphorical eyelids beg to close, but we fight it. We continue to say "yes." We add that one more thing. Allow our child to play one more sport. Take on one more committee. Agree to one more additional task to our already bloated work load. When what we really need to do is stop. Say no. Breathe. Close our eyes.

The publishing world is a hurricane. It doesn't simply end when you edit the last page. That's just the lightening before the storm. There are then re-edits and re-writes and query letters and cover designs and website designs and marketing strategies and publicity. When I first began to write books, I did so to tell a story. Because writing is a compulsion for me. I didn't realize the enormity of the world of publishing. But even if I had, it wouldn't have stopped me. My heart. My soul. My innermost person bleeds through my fingertips and onto my keyboard. It's a sneeze I can't suppress.

But the choices I make in my daily life about the responsibilities I assume are my choice. I must learn to step back, take a breath, say "no," and allow my eyelids to close.

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