Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Interview Questions Part 2

I’m up at 4 AM and I’m cleaning out my blog page and found this post I never published. It was back from October so here it is:

For those of you that follow the RidingBitch blog, I apologize for the repetition. These are questions I answered on her blog about the process of writing a book. Hope you enjoy!

What has been the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
It feels sometimes like “grief brain” is permanent. So accomplishing anything can be hard on some days, much less a huge project like writing a book. Two things were hard. One thing, were the days when a wave of grief hit. I could talk/write/process for days and even weeks like I was just telling someone else’s story. Then for no reason that I could identify, it would be a crying, grieving day and the subject matter was larger than life. The second part was learning new things. I would have given up at least a trillion times if my dear friend Brigitte wasn’t working with me full time. She does all the research and information finding. She has the patience of a saint coupled with a brilliant mind!

How did you secure publishing?
We have actually “self-published”. First, we had to form a publishing company, which meant forming an LLC. It is called Baby Coop Publishing, LLC. Once you do the research, it’s tedious but not difficult. You fill out forms and then do legal notices in the paper. Total cost is about $350. After that, we did our research (ok, Brigitte did) and came up with what we thought were the best options. Lightning Source is the company that distributes our softcover book. All of the files were downloaded to them. They have certain companies they distribute to, but it’s most of the biggest in the industry. When they get orders, they print and ship. It’s called “print on demand.”
For the ebook versions, we went with a company called Book Baby. We are still in the process of downloading and revising with them. I thought this would be easier, but it has different challenges. Every reader (Nook, Kindle, Kobo, etc.) looks different. So it’s very hard to design something that looks good in every version. We are hoping to have that released within another two weeks.

What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?
My dream was that my book will be useful and helpful to people in the same way that other books helped us. You have listed a bunch of books and what you have gotten out of them- I’d like to be on that list some day  For a person struggling with cancer, they can find inspiration in the way Tim dealt with his illness. For a person handling the tasks of being a caretaker, it is full of helpful ideas of how to be a patient advocate. For loved ones and family, it is full of practical ways of how you can truly be a support to the people you care about.

What do you hope to achieve with your book?
The previous question answers the more spiritual goals of the book. On a practical level, I would love to pay off the mortgage of the house before my social security runs out! But the reality of how much money you make on a book is very small indeed. When you realize how many books you have to sell to really make a living, it’s almost impossible.
A much for practical goal for me, is that I am hoping that the book will help generate more referrals to my counseling practice. That is my main profession and passion and I will be doing that for many more years than I will be writing books.


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October

I love the sun.  I love to feel the warmth of baking myself, even though its supposedly bad for me.  So around here, there is only a few months to enjoy this.  I have discovered though that the sun and heat are really not that enjoyable if there is not a pool nearby to cool off in whenever you feel like it  🙂

Over the years, I have really grown to love autumn.  I love the crisp air.  Isn’t that a great word?  It’s perfect. CRISP air.  I love wearing sweatshirts too so I think that has something to do with it.  I love orange and pumpkins and scarecrows.  I don’t love winterizing my yard, but that’s ok.

But now, (just like the title of my book), autumn is bitter and sweet.  This Sunday, October 14, will be the two year anniversary of Tim’s death.  Dave decided he wanted to have a few friends over for a small party.  We remembered last year, we came up with the term “REBIRTH-DAY”,  ‘cuz Dad was reborn into heaven on this day.

On a conscious level, I don’t stress about the “anniversary”.  My friend even asked me a couple of weeks ago what my plans were for the day and I didn’t even remember why the day was significant.  But my soul and body remember.  The crisp autumn air reminds my senses of what a difficult time of year this was in 2010.   And on a conscious level, I am reminded of the details of those days as I write the book.

I feel like I’m heading in the wrong direction sometimes.  This year feels worse than last when I wake up some days and want to bite everyone’s heads off, for no reason in particular.  Or it feels worse when I find myself in the middle of a crying jag I can’t control.

But I’ve had a couple of reliable sources tell me that I am significantly “better” than last year.  While I don’t really remember, apparently last year I was complaining of sitting on the couch and staring into space for hours at a time, feeling unable to even get up.  So I’m glad to know that.  I’m glad to know that in actuality, I am doing “better”.

I am writing a book, taking care of my property, running a business, trying to be a mom with some sort of competence, being a daughter who tries to take care of her dad, and even attempting to be a decent significant other.  And I only bite the heads off of people who love me deeply and give me a pass …  because its October.  And my heart and soul know, that along side the beautiful, crisp air, is a deep and profound sadness.  But strength.  And hope.

Ah, the bitter and sweet.


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The Upside

I’ve been trying to add another entry for days.  I’ve just been too busy or whatever and it didn’t happen.  I lay in bed at night and form the words in my mind.  I still have the thoughts but I’m going to save those for another post.  I was inspired to write something different today.

My sister and brother in law came over this weekend.  They are about 75 minutes away.  Not the end of the world, but far enough that we don’t get together as much as we would like to.  When Tim was sick, and for months and months after he died, both of my sisters took turns staying the weekend with me so I wasn’t alone.  Crazy dedication.

My brother in law Stan still comes out when he can to do my “Honey-Do” lists for me.  (My dad stays with me on Wednesdays and does all kinds of odd jobs for me too.)  On the way here, they stopped at my dad’s to take some measurements for something they are fixing for him.  Up bright and early Saturday morning, Stan cleaned out all the gutters on my property and hooked up the heat tapes for me.  Lisa helped and then cleaned my house.  After that, Stan and I started winterizing the property.  We filled 8 large garbage cans from cuttings and ran out of space.  We stored some furniture away.  I finally cried “UNCLE” because I was so exhausted.  (I also found out I have a separated shoulder which causes me some grief sometimes).   He kept working.

They got up early this morning to leave because they are spending the day at Dad’s trying to fix the nightmare door project they worked on til dark LAST weekend…..   Thier entire weekend off is being spent helping other people.  Did I mention they both work full time plus have second jobs?

While all this was going on, my friend Karen has been making new web sites for me.  She would never say so, but I’m sure she was frustrated.  I didn’t answer the phones or emails most of the day because I was outside working.  She does things for me all week long, seven days a week, any time of the day or night.

So while my post was going to be about how difficult the month of October is for me, I laid in bed humbled by the generosity of others.  I have so many, many people in my life who sacrifice and give and help and offer and share and and and and….   Yes, life is hard at times for most of us.  But there is also much good and inspiration out there.  Today, I will focus on that instead.


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Getting started…..

I’ve been talking about starting a blog for almost a year;  I am now finally doing it!  When we wrote on Caring Bridge, it was kind of the same type of thing as a blog.  I have to admit, I have missed having the posts as an outlet when things happen.

There are so many different topics to write about.  I am continuing to live with grief almost two years later and it still feels like yesterday sometimes.  Being a single parent now is another adjustment.  And writing a book is a biggie.

I have finished the first draft of “Bitter & Sweet, a Family’s Journey With Cancer”.  The experience of writing it was the same as what we lived through in 2010-  also bitter and sweet.  It was cathartic but painful to relive the memories every day.  Sometimes it felt like too much, yet it felt like the path I needed to take… like it was necessary in order to continue to heal.  There is much to do to actually get it out to the public, then it will be time to start the next book!!

Just plain living life every day with all of its normal ups and downs is a challenge, but living with the back drop of learning to be a family again without our Tim is even more challenging.  Sigh.