KIDSBUZZ: Click here to discover new books,
"meet" the authors and enter to win.
AUTHORBUZZ: Click here to discover new books,
"meet" the authors and enter to win.
I'm on vacation today and my good friend Marshall Cook (Marsh) graciously offered to write a guest column. Sit back and relax. Marshall is one of the all-time great story tellers.
Welcome to the book club Marsh...
Sometimes the important stuff isn't on the to-do list...
A half hour until dinner time, and I'm pushing to finish a tricky layout for my newsletter.
I'm retired--sort of--but I'm still rushing. I no longer teach full time for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but writers never really retire. I still edit and publish an online newsletter "for writers, their enablers, and those who love the magic they make," still write novels, poems, and essays, have created and host a radio show called Writers and Their Words, teach in the Odyssey Project (a credit college humanities course for adults below the poverty line)...
I'm doing things I love and have always wanted to do. Still, they all take time, something I never seem to have enough of.
So when the doorbell rings downstairs, my first reaction is annoyance.
For years I taught seminars on stress and time management. I've written books about it. (One of them even got me invited to appear on the Oprah Show as an "expert de-stresser.") I got interested in the subject the way a person with an ulcer researches how to avoid getting another one. I've had to learn how to be productive and stay sane at the same time. (One of my books is called Slow Down and Get More Done.)
When my wife Ellen answers the door, she finds an elderly lady and a younger man, perhaps in his 50s or 60s, neither of whom she's ever seen before.
I arrive in the living room just in time to hear the woman say, "I'm Theresa. This is my son, Jim. Does Marshall live here?"
I'm about to get the biggest, most wonderful surprise I've had in a very long time.
Theresa is my cousin. She still lives in New Jersey, near where Dad grew up. We've exchanged Christmas cards and occasional letters for decades but never met. Her son, Jim, lives in Northern Wisconsin, selling the beef he raises as a second career after the Air Force.
I've only known one aunt, two cousins, and one sibling--and three of them have died, leaving me and Cousin Susie. Meeting a new cousin and her son is a stunning revelation. I still get weak in the knees writing about it.
We swap stories, share laughter and photographs, and try to pack a lifetime of catching up into a drop-in visit. I give them a copy of the book I wrote about my dad, Theresa's uncle George, and some of my other books. I feel the joy and wonder of actually having these dear people in my living room. Time goes by much too quickly, and soon they must leave. The hugs we share will have to last forever.
I'm overwhelmed with joy. The newsletter layout and dinner haven't gone anywhere. The world hasn't slipped off its axis because I didn't stick to my self-imposed deadline.
It's a lesson I've had to keep relearning over and over. Yes, we can "manage" time to some extent and keep from stressing ourselves to death. But so often, the best and most important things in life aren't on the to-do list.
For them, we must always make time, for they are the times we will remember and cherish always.
P.S. If you'd like to check out my newsletter, go to the archives at: www.continuingstudies.wisc.edu/writing/extra-innings
For information on the Odyssey Project, see:
* Tell a story, win some cash, buy some new shoes or a fishing pole, impress your friends and family. Sound like fun? It could happen to you, but first you need to enter my annual Write a DearReader Contest. You don't need to be a writer to enter. The contest is for writing fun. To read last year's winning entries and information about the rules and deadline, go to: http://www.dearreader.com/contest2016/index.html
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
* This month's Penguin Classics book is PERCHANCE TO DREAM: Selected Stories, by Charles Beaumont. Start reading now and don't forget to enter the drawing for your chance to win a Penguin tote bag: http://www.supportlibrary.com/bc/v.cfm?L=drclassqqxqZ1AFE3FA745F&c=CLASSICS
AUTHORBUZZ: WILDER (Fiction) by Rebecca Yarros
I'm thrilled to share my new novel with you! This swoony, standalone romance about a sexy, reckless X Games medalist and his stubborn tutor is sure keep you up late and leave you with a smile!
Go to: http://authorbuzz.com/dearreader click on WILDER to find out more about the book and the author, Rebecca Yarros. Send her an email, she'd love to hear from you.