If you know me, you may remember Ashley, or have at least heard about her. I often talk about her and mention her in my blogs and my Facebook posts.
Ashley is 34 and a beautiful young woman who was born with a rare genetic disorder, cystic fibrosis (CF). At the age of three months, after recurring episodes where she arrived at the hospital severely dehydrated, she was diagnosed with CF and was expected to live 8 to 16 years. Shocking.
For almost twenty years now, I've been fighting daily to provide Ashley with a normal life. And while I want to make everything happen for her, it is not always possible.
As CF progresses with time, more medical problems and complications surface, and more adjustments are needed. With more time spent in the hospital, six to eight hours of treatment each day, a robust regime of daily workouts and many medications, there is not much time left for anything else. And beyond all of this, the clock is ticking.
I'll admit, the improvements in screening and treatments provide cystic fibrosis patients with a better quality of life and a longer life span than decades before. Today, the average lifespan of a person with CF is mid-to-late 30s. However, some CF patients are living into their 40s and 50s.
The dream of a double lung transplant is hidden in every CF person and his or her family. The thought of more air, relaxed breathing, no treatments, and no mucus stuck in the way, is beyond understanding. It's a dream that often gets thinned by fears of a transplant ordeal and its risks.
On May 16, a day after Ashley turned 34, she was called to come to the hospital as there was a possible donor for her. The rush to the hospital was surreal. Twelve hours later, the final call came and Ashley was rolled on a stretcher to the operating room. As the doors were closed and we were all led to the waiting room, time seemed as if it had stopped. Our medical knowledge didn’t matter anymore. The stress grew, and the night became longer.
The ordeal was long and arduous. Thirteen hours in the OR, days in ICU, and six weeks in the hospital. Complications and fears. Questions and the unknown. A dedicated mother, a loving sister, a stepfather, a stepmother, and a post-kidney-transplant father, who was—and still is, restricted from seeing his transplanted daughter.
Yes, it's a lot. But for a life with no mucus and for the freedom from the long hours of daily treatments of the nebulizer and chest percussions, and the ability to walk around without lugging oxygen…CF patients will pay any price.
Now, at home, I'm still astonished by how quiet it is without the loud, shrieking, constant cough, or the annoying sound of the breathing machine that beats on her chest daily for six long hours. Even the stains of the sodium chloride from her daily respiratory treatments are gone…and the mess, and the trash, syringes, needles, vials... It's all gone.
Still, there is a long way to go.
With daily visits to the hospital where she is under the care of a dedicated medical team, Ashley was able to progress and overcome some of the complications that came with the double lung transplant. Sadly, she is now experiencing rejection and will have to start an aggressive treatment. Hopefully, she’ll get better. Yet, if all goes well, it will be a long time before Ashley is able to work or to get back to a normal life.
Ashley’s journey is beyond words. It is an emotional, mental,and financial burden. Without complication, the cost of a double lung transplant is well over a million dollars. But when complications like rejection occur, you never know what the final bill will be. This leaves Ashley with current bills that are difficult to pay out of her pocket.
Luckily, the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) established a fund for Ashley. If this fund raises $50,000 for Ashley by September 15, COTA will contribute $5,000, which will be very helpful. While this is a gesture of good will, it cannot cover all the expenses. This fund is managed by an unrelated individual and is restricted to pay off Ashley’s medical bills and daily living expenses.
Dreams are a hope for better. If, and when, they come true, we pray they won't go away, and that we will be able to enjoy the moment….and breathe.
If you wish to read more about Ashley or help her breathe, please visit her page on COTA, or click here. Ashley greatly appreciates any support and help you might consider.
I take a deep breath every day, thanking all my friends for their support and all my devoted readers for their patience. As soon as we get more air, I will be back with my weekly blogs and,hopefully, will be able to publish my next book this year.
For The Love Of Fruitcake
Holidays are filled with many traditions. Though many might celebrate the same holidays, each family has its own special way of bringing the joy of the holiday into their home and life.
It is our background and culture that help shape the way we celebrate the holidays, making it unique and meaningful to each of us. It’s not only the region where we were born and raised that plays a major role in our celebrations, but also individual family’s customs and preferences that are handed down from generation to generation.
Food is featured prominently in our holiday customs—its flavor and presentation are greatly affected by tradition.
Let’s talk fruitcake. Fruitcake has been one of my favorite foods for many years. However, it was never included on our family holiday menus—that’s why I never bothered to find a recipe and prepare it—occasionally I just get it in the store. However, living and traveling all over the world allowed me the opportunity to explore the many different variations of this holiday tradition. After treating myself to this cake outside of the United States, I understand why many Americans don’t care for it—and why it has become the source of many jokes.
Fortunately, my Romanian friend keeps her family’s tradition alive: Not only does she bring it to her own household and family, but also she brings it to me along with the splendid flavor I experienced while being abroad.
With my passion for cooking, I reached out to her, asking if she would share the recipe. “Don’t worry about it. It’s easier for me to just make it for you,” she said.
I figured the language barrier was in her way—writing a recipe in English would take her out of her comfort zone. I finally convinced her to teach me how to bake it.
As I stand in my kitchen and go through the steps she taught me, I promise you this: if this fruitcake unfolds in my house, in my kitchen, in my oven as it does in my memories from the days I lived in Europe, I’ll invite you to my kitchen and share the recipe with you.
If you happen to have a “to die for” fruitcake recipe (with the sauce that goes with it), please send it my way.
I wish you a delicious holiday.
The Magic Of Lust
Many of you who read my book would agree that when sex meets real love, the magic of lust is what you feel.
It’s not often that a relationship’s climax is unveiled or even reachable. Anyone in this life who has experienced that one-time love would relate to my statement—maybe would even say it’s an understatement.
The novel Pinnacle Lust replicated the sex and love between two characters that created the phenomenon of lust.
Writing graphic sex scenes is a challenge. Unless you wish to unfold a tacky and cheap love story, you have to carefully craft this type of scene.
Here is one scene from my book, Pinnacle Lust, where love and sex created an infinite lust between two people that became lost in their incredible relationship.
Bashfully, I opened the bathroom door just enough to let my hand sneak in a towel and place it at the very end of the countertop. I was about to close the door but Sloan didn’t like the way I acted.
“Hey, the floor is going to get wet,” he said.
Is he trying to convince me to hand him the towel? I stepped back in the bathroom, grabbed the towel, looked straight in his eyes, not glancing down, and threw it toward him.
“Good catch,” I said once the towel was in his hands.
“Don’t you want to get wet?” he asked mischievously.
“I’m already wet,” I said with an inviting smile.
“Let me see,” he wrapped the towel around his waist and stepped out of the shower.
“See what?” I asked.
“How wet you are,” he said as he lifted me up and set me on the counter, keeping his arms around me. I bet the tight jeans I had on didn’t leave much to his imagination. His lips skimmed over my neck. He studied my smell, inhaling me deep into his lungs and his memory. I took the next step and wrapped my legs around him. It didn’t take long before his hands traveled under my loose, sleeveless shirt. I wiggled closer to him.
“You are hot,” he whispered.
“So are you,” I said.
“I missed you.” He looked at me. I had no choice but to believe him. I felt secure and protected. I had to trust my feelings but still needed reassurance.
“Did you really?”
“I honestly did,” he said.
“Is that good or bad?”
“It’s bad,” he said and picked me up with his strong arms and carried me to the bedroom. He gently put me on the bed. I looked at him and saw nothing but lust. I let him take the rest of my clothes off and explore my body. I was wet by all means. His touch was magical, the most sensual I’d ever felt. He was ready to glide into me and to take me back to the same places we visited the day before. My body grew heavy and my legs shivered. I looked straight into his eyes, trying to find some assurance that he was going to make love to me and not just have sex. He leaned toward me, gently kissed my knees, and let his lips travel north. By the time he reached my nipples we were ready to engage our bodies. I kept my legs around him and turned him on his back. I wanted to be on top this time, to control the pace of our erotic motions. I felt that it was my turn to lead. And I did…
~Chapter 14, Pinnacle Lust, by Michelle Dim-St. Pierre~
If you haven’t read Pinnacle Lust, now would be a good time to delve into a book that delivers you real characters that are so easy to engage with, along with a captivating story from everyday life. Pinnacle Lust is the first novel of a trilogy and now it is offered as holiday special with a full rebate after 45 days from the date of purchase.
The second book of the Pinnacle trilogy is scheduled to be released in 2018. Each of the installments in the trilogy is a stand-alone book…but reading them all in sequence will leave you in awe. Brace yourself for the other part of these characters’ relationship, where pain creates a reunion and reality to what started out just as an affair.
Give the gift of a book to yourself or to someone special.
Facebook, the giant tool of social media, keeps many of us busy all day long. It was not long ago that people spent time on Facebook trying to reconnect with the world—people searched for others from their past and quickly brought them to their present. Nowadays, Facebook serves as a place where people market themselves or their business, while others find it as a comfort zone where they can express themselves or find sympathy. Sure enough, in no time, people learned everything about everyone—yuck.
About three months ago an acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook. As I read the post, I noticed that he made a significant spelling error. It was not an autocorrect error or a typo… It was a mistake.
ontemplated whether I should bring this to his attention. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings or embarrass him in public.
Finally, I sent him a private message, telling him he should edit his post so it would be errorless. I even went as far as to include in my message what would be the right word to use. I reread my message several times and finally pushed the button to send it.
Seconds later, my Facebook friend sent me a message, thanking me for bringing this spelling issue to his attention.
Similar to that incident, look what happened to me. Two days ago, I posted my Blog #50 late at night. As always, I included a few photos to create a more attractive blog.
The next day an acquaintance of mine posted a comment to my blog page stating, “Watch your grammar dear.” Wow, that was loud, I thought. I rushed to check my blog and noticed that one of the images I included had text in it—and it had a grammatical error. Obviously, she was right. Not only was there a grammar mistake, but also as an author, I shouldn’t post anything that doesn’t convey proper English. I kept my response to her on the lighter side as I tried to put some humor in it and also admitted guilt—“It is not my English… lol. But you are right, I shouldn’t have posted it.” I was sure that this would satisfy her, and decided not to replace the image.
Surprisingly, that was not the case. The picky acquaintance had more to say. She went on and on, hanging me in public. At that point, I found it more than just loud—I thought it was rude. I replied to her post, telling her to move on, that she made her point very clear and that there was no need continue. Not only did I think she was rude, but I was also upset. What got to me the most was that juvenile game of Ping-Pong that I went through with her.
Finally, I put my emotions aside and hid the entire dialog with her so that no one else would see it.
Apparently, removing it from my page didn’t wipe it off my heart or from my memory. People are odd, I thought. Does she go around commenting on every grammatical mistake she sees on Facebook? Because that would require more hours than a full-time job.
What I truly wanted to tell her is that you don’t build yourself a hill by digging a hole for someone else.
What would you do? Would you bring it to someone’s attention in a private or public?
Achievement and success aren't necessarily the same. While one fulfills your goals and dreams the other will bring you earnings.
Which one of these is more important? Well, it depends who you ask.
To me achievement is often more significant than success. Don’t get me wrong; of course I like the success part. Yet, the feeling of accomplishment is beyond words—the butterflies in the stomach, the weak knees, and the lightheaded feeling—is mesmerizing. That hypnotic moment when the adrenaline reaches high levels and then drops.
It’s addictive. And when it happens, it stays with me for a long time.
Yesterday, the first order of packaging supplies for my new business, Crooked Cracker, arrived at the door. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to open the box. I was eager to see the supplies. I hoped they would be as attractive as I had envisioned when I placed the order.
As I unpacked the delivery and examined the supplies for some time, it felt much the same as when my first box of published books arrived. Both were a sign of accomplishment. They brought a feeling of hope for great things to come—the success.
Which is most important to you, accomplishment or success?
New Business Survival Guide
Starting a new business involves more than just an idea and funds for the initial investment. There are numerous steps before you can open your door and actually conduct business.
It has now been over seven months since my initial idea to manufacture my Incredible Crooked Crackers. Each breakthrough in the process led to new problems. The process has been wearing with very little joy. I quickly learned that what I needed most was patience… Well, those of you who know me will agree that there is very little of this characteristic in me. I need everything to be done right away if not yesterday.
Here are a few things to remember if you want to start a new business.
It’s all about being patient! How much patience do you have?
Look Who Is Here
My first guest blogger is here.
Two weeks ago, on my Blog #41, I opened my blog page to anyone out there who wishes to publish a blog. I didn’t think a professional editor would take me up on the offer. As I saw the request from Kristen Hamilton, the founder and owner of Kristen Corrects, to post on my blog page, I was in awe. Wouldn’t you be?
I first met Kristen when she proofread my novel, Pinnacle Lust, and felt that I hit the jackpot—so of course I immediately added her to my professional team…and the rest is history.
Having Kristen as a guest blogger on my page is something to shout about. I can’t beat the drum loud enough to convey my respect and admiration for her work, professionalism, and personality.
All that’s left for you is to enjoy her writing…on a rather light-hearted and relatable subject.
3 Life Lessons from Cats
Nov. 30, 2017, By Kristen Hamilton
My two passions in life are cats and books. I can’t decide which I like better—enjoying a good book on a wintery afternoon or cuddling up with one of my kitties. (Ideally, it would be both: reading a good book while a kitty is on my lap.)
I work from home as a book editor, which means I get the best of both worlds during each 40-hour workweek. Especially now during the winter months, when I’ve cranked up the heat in my office, I’m inundated with my three cats: Sophie (6), who is quiet and refined; Charlie (3), who is rambunctious and the center of attention; and Jack (2), who is scared of everything and loves forts. Here’s what I’ve learned from working with my three cats.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
Sophie will occasionally position herself in front of my computer screen, blocking my view of work and halting all productivity, indicating she wants something. Sometimes I sigh and nudge her out of the way, but other times I realize this is a good reminder that when you want something, you have to make it happen.
The next time I had to have a difficult conversation with a client, I looked into Sophie’s steely eyes, hardened myself, and made the call. Smart cat.
2. Sometimes, drawing attention to yourself is key.
I am so passionate about being a small business owner, but I cringe at the thought of touting about my accomplishments. But then Charlie gallops into the room, pushing open the door so fast that it bounces off the opposite wall, and makes his presence known. (Usually this ends with me giving him milk or throwing a toy for him to chase—either way, it ends well for the cat.)
It’s moments like these I realize that sometimes, showing people what you’re made of is the best way to get the attention and recognition you deserve. And, just like Charlie, when I show off my accomplishments, good things are bound to happen.
3. Self-care is priority number one.
If I pull out a blanket, I can count on Jack to be there. Within seconds, Jack will come scurrying from the woodwork to nestle himself between my legs and the blanket, peering out from his self-made fort. As the epitome of a “scaredy cat,” Jack hides anytime he hears a loud noise, and unlike Sophie (who will merely flick her tail in annoyance) or Charlie (who will go investigate), Jack will retreat to the safety of the fort.
And herein lies a great lesson: From Jack I’ve learned that sometimes, choosing to do what makes you feel safest and most comfortable is the best route. In my work, I have a hard time saying no to last-minute client requests, even though I know that adding to my already-full plate will cause me stress. The last time I had to prioritize my own time over work commitments, I peeked at Jack in the fort, thought about self-care, and made the right decision to respect my personal time.
If anyone can teach us about how to be a better human in work and life, look at a cat. They’ve got their stuff together.
If you’re like me, you must have enjoyed reading about Kristen and her cats.
I’ve always wondered if any of Kristen’s editing is done by her cats.
Between Me And Writing
People often ask about my writing—they are eager to hear about the life of an author, where my characters come from, the journey I travel when drafting 80,000 words to publishing the final book, and of course about writing and me.
Writing and me is a whole world in itself. It’s a rollercoaster with ups and downs, emotions, frustrations, and achievements. Here are some truths from the relationship between writing and me.
And the list goes on.
My writing is a world of it’s own that I live with all day, every day.
My Wild Life
Not every deer arrives with Santa, snow sleds or at Christmastime.
Last night, I returned home after a date night with my husband. The few streetlights were dim but lit the road well enough. As we pulled closer to our property there was a deer waiting on me—only to find out it was not one but six.
Deer are not strangers in our subdivision—they are fairly domesticated. Here, you see them all year round.
While some people like deer and even feed them, others in the neighborhood will do anything to keep them away, even hurt them. I’m neutral. Although I’m not happy when they eat my flowers or find comfort on my mondo grass, I still find them cute. I would never harm them, but I would ask them kindly to leave my property.
The best way to send deer away is simply asking them not to come back. All it takes is to sprinkle urine in and around the area where they lie down. You don’t have to go through the drama of buying coyote urine; any urine will do the trick.
I waited until the next morning, peed in a Styrofoam cup, and walked to the yard to complete my mission. And I found another problem.
As soon as my feet hit the grass, my steps felt uneven. At first I thought it was nothing, but when the problem persisted, I looked down…and what did I see? Trails! Aha, now I have moles. Hmmm, I dumped the urine on the trail thinking maybe they, like the deer, would get the hint and skedaddle. It’s needless to say what my husband thought about it, “Keep your urine in the toilet and just call a pest control company.”
I tend to listen to my husband, so I did.
Stay tuned to hear what happens next.
It’s wild out here.