Usually at the end of the year, I reflect on the previous year and make some plans for the coming one. This year is a little bigger since it ends the decade.
When the decade began, I was teaching full time and had been married for four years. We'd blended our families and lived in a small two bedroom condo.
But so many changes happened during the years... I became a published author, then watched as publishing houses after publishing houses closed. I joined a small startup indie publishing house as an editor, only to become the owner during the years that followed. I've been fortunate to help many new authors fulfill their dreams.
As a reader, I've continued to devour books. Staying current with my keepers and finally meeting some of my favorites, like Laurell K. Hamilton, Nancy Gideon and Daryna Jones.
I also reconnected with my childhood friend. I grew up with Tracey, from toddlers to teens. He was my first boyfriend and served as the inspiration for one of my heroes. Each day, he texted or called me. He'd had some brain damage and wasn't quite the same but I loved him. He was a part of my soul. It's hard to explain. But with him, I became a better person. Sadly, I lost him again. This time not to life but to death. He passed quietly right before New Years over a year ago. Reading my first book, he still jumps off the page.
After my first book was published, more followed. 63 in fact- some where I was simply a contributor and others where I earned awards and International Best Selling status. Two were children's books which pulled together my love of kids and writing. I was also able to finally publish my mother's book which she wrote in the 1980's. While it was twenty years after her death, I know she's doing a Snoopy dance in heaven.
Teaching was my passion but over the years, the changes increased my apathy. I loved the kids but the hoops to jump through increased my anxiety and depression. When you spend all your time grading papers, planning lessons, answering emails and testing children...the love gets lost in the hullabaloo. My own children were missing the best parts of me so I left full time teaching but couldn't walk away totally from the kids. I started guest teaching (subbing) and found a renewed passion, making new connections with familiar schools (the ones my children went to). Sharing my writing with students increased their drive to become authors and made me excited to be in a classroom each day.
My own children graduated high school and then two graduated college during the decade. They all found careers. Two married. They have settled into new homes, with my daughter moving to Oklahoma. I couldn't be prouder of the adults they have become.
Moving was a big thing for us this decade. Not only did all the kids move out on their own, Mark and I moved from the small two bedroom condo to a three bedroom craftsman home and finally to a South Carolina condo near the beach.
The sunshine and warmer temps have provided the needed motivation for a healthy lifestyle. We get to the beach each week and ride or walk every day (often both!). We were luckier than most, fewer losses and more blessings.
Each one of you are a blessing to me. You have supported me, bought my books, shared a comment or laugh, sent a prayer or just a smile. You have made me feel so cherished and I'm so glad to have you in my life.
As I look forward to 2020, I have stories to write and sand for my toes. What has your decade been like? Are you ready for 2020? Do you have big plans?
Gator Girl Extraordinaire