For those of you who have followed my career and taken notice of my publicity photos, you might have noticed something about me. Like most women, my weight fluctuates up and down, sideways and edgewise. Because I am in the public eye, I worry about my appearance. All too often I would gauge my day by what the scale had to say. But with spring and renewal, I am worrying no more. Every day is a fresh new beginning, a clean slate, and for that I am most grateful. I invite you to join me in thinking positively and being kind to yourself.
I think just about everyone is ready for spring this year. I know I am. There's tremendous promise in spring; new beginnings, (new diets) a sense of hope. Over the years I've noticed how I change with the seasons, too. It's more than my choice of clothing or activities, it's my attitude as well. In winter I'm more contemplative, working on goals; in summer more physically active, reaching out to friends and relatives; in autumn I seem to focus on family; and in spring I want to throw open my arms and twirl around like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. Join me, won't you? Toss your arms wide and welcome spring!
One question I'm often asked regarding my Blossom Street series has to do with the characters: Am I partial to any one particular character I've introduced over the years? Of the several ongoing characters, the one who has touched my heart the most is Lydia. I've seen several of my friends valiantly battle cancer and wanted to create a character that showed the same determination as I saw in them. They refused to let a disease define their lives. Lydia has dealt with cancer twice in her life and there is no guarantee she won't need to face the beast again. That doesn't deter her from taking her inheritance and opening a yarn store. That took indomitable spirit and true grit. It was what I saw in my high school friend Judy, in my cousin Karen and in my Florida friend, Melinda.
This has been one of the harshest winters in recent memory and spring has never been more welcome. I already have my garden plotted and the tomato plants started. About three or four years ago I had a section of our property cleared and a tall fence placed around it (to keep out the deer) and the grandkids and I planted seeds. The bounty in that tiny space was truly amazing. We harvested the crop and cooked the vegetables ourselves. What fun we had with that little garden. I'm planting far more than vegetable seeds with my grandchildren. I'm planting memories, life lessons and a whole lot more.
I'm such a romantic. I can't help it, it’s just the way God wired me. From the time I was a little girl I loved the idea of brides and weddings. I made up stories with my dolls and had them fall in love and then held elaborate weddings with teddy bears as the grooms. I might be a lot older now, but the idea of weddings continues to fascinate and excite me. Today is a special day as it is the release date of Blossom Street Brides, the latest installment in the Blossom Street series. I feel like that little girl all over again, thrilled to be part of creating a wedding.
Over the years a lot of people have told me how lucky I am. Admittedly I am blessed. I grew up in a family that loved each other and by pure happenstance I met and married a good man. I've certainly seen God's fingerprints all over my life but luck . . . I believe we make our own luck. I once heard someone say that "Luck is the residue of hard work" and I tend to agree. Was it luck that I sold my first book after five years of submitting my manuscripts? Or was it simply because I was at the right place at the right time? In some ways I suppose it was, but in other ways, I sold my first book because I refused to give up. Despite the fact the rejections came fast and furious, I was determined. (I always knew that stubborn pride of mine would work to my advantage one day!)
We tend to celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick in many different ways. Whether we’re Irish or not, we love to dress in green, enjoy traditional Irish foods, and yes, jest about luck. Here’s a good luck toast for you to celebrate the day: “For each petal on the shamrock. This brings a wish your way. Good health, good luck, and happiness. For today and every day.
My readers have been the guiding force in my career from the very beginning. Their comments and feedback have led me down paths I would never have taken on my own. A good example of this is the Blossom Street series. When I wrote The Shop on Blossom Street I never intended it to be a series. It was written as a stand-alone book. The feedback I got on the novel was strong and immediate. My readers wanted to learn more about Lydia and Brad and the other characters they'd met in that story, especially Alix. It was because of the notes and letters I received that I wrote the follow up book, A Good Yarn, which turned out to be my first hardcover to place on the New York Times bestseller list. When people ask me what inspired the Blossom Street series, I smile and explain it was my readers.
It was about this time last year that I was involved in planning our daughter‘s wedding to Greg. Jody was a single mom with two children and wasn't looking for a husband when she met Greg. I deeply admired my daughter, a wonderful mother who continually put her children first. She did everything humanly possible to save her marriage and when she had no other option but divorce, it devastated her. After she met Greg, I remembered a prayer I'd said for her from the time she was small. I prayed God would send her a life mate who would love her as much as he loved God. I believe she found that man in Greg.
I have a small confession to make. I cry at weddings. It's embarrassing but I can't help myself. I don't even need to be close to the bride or groom for the tears to start flowing. Even before we head to the ceremony, Wayne knows to grab a second handkerchief because he's well aware that at some point during the ceremony I'll desperately search my purse for a fresh tissue. Even now I'm not exactly sure what prompts these tears. Memories of my own wedding day? Or when our children were wed? Perhaps it’s simply sharing the joy of two people who have found each other and are vowing love and commitment. No matter the cause of my tears, weddings are special and one of the very reasons I enjoy writing about them as often as I do.
With the wedding of our daughter, Jody Rose, last summer, and the release of BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES, wedding ceremonies and brides have been on my mind. I was reminded of a shower given several years back in which everyone was asked to give the bride advice on how to have a successful marriage. I remember that some of the suggestions were hilarious: Don't ever pick up his dirty socks or Have plenty of chicken recipes on hand. And some were real pearls of wisdom, such as: Stay close to God. Make dinner together a priority. Never go to bed angry with one another. The sharing was great fun and as applicable now as it was then. Like all married couples, Wayne and I have gone through a few rough patches but I've managed to have plenty of chicken recipes on hand and we've never gone to bed angry . . . okay, almost never.