Monthly Archives: July 2015

How I Escaped the Rat Race and Learned to Love the Swamp

A swamp is a good place to hide a body. Florida is full of swamps. I should move to Florida, so I can have plenty of swamps in which to hide the dead bodies.

Okay, my syllogism isn’t perfect, but you get the idea. And that rationale wasn’t exactly what went through my mind when I decided to uproot myself, leave my hometown of New York and move somewhere warmer.

What was on my mind was the need for a major life overhaul.

I lived a crazy/content existence in Manhattan. I had a crash-pad studio apartment in the West Village; an unending crop of nearby restaurants-du-jour; bars, concerts, shows and new experiences on every corner. And I had a job that provided funds for lots of cheeky adventures. Life was very good to me for a very long time. I’m a lucky SOB, and I get that.

Then life intervened, as it often does, and had its way with me. My cousin, who I grew up with like a sister, got sick, very sick, then died after years of fighting leukemia. She was thirty-seven years old. She was, and will always be, one of the hugest parts of my heart. I can’t write about her without crying, though sometimes I can think of her without pain. Sometimes.

While she battled, I tried to live as I had been, but that didn’t work. Life had imploded. Before she’d gotten sick, I’d felt the need for some sort of change building inside me. I plodded through a job that often left me exhausted and demoralized. I grew tired of the bar scene. Friends got married and moved. Life lost its color and zest. I’m not knocking my previous life, but my cousin’s illness reminded me that I longed for other adventures, new experiences, a different narrative. If I waited for life “to happen,” the choice might be taken out of my hands.

I’ve written stories forever, but maybe a bit of Manhattan mayhem crept into my psyche and planted the urge to write out my diabolical thoughts. My experiences have been great fodder, and my cousin was the first to encourage my novel writing. The first to see my potential as an author. Under her encouragement, the bodies began piling up. Then I needed a place to bury them.

“I must soon quit the Scene.” –Benjamin Franklin

After she died, and after a long period of dealing with the initial grief, I felt ready—as ready as I could—for the change I needed. I felt ready to make a conscious choice about the direction I wanted my life to go: to a warmer climate, to a different lifestyle, to a new career.

So with a fair bit of planning, but no job and few contacts, I ditched my rat race and set up a laptop in Florida, land of swamps. And fabulousness. And history. And so much more. There’s plenty to come on all of that, but let me say this: St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, is a history lover’s and storyteller’s dream.

My overhaul didn’t happen overnight, nor was it without its share of setbacks, but deciding to change everything has been the best thing I’ve done. Also one of the hardest.

I look back now and marvel at the detours and side roads that brought me here. What if I hadn’t taken the chance to move and to write? Where on earth would I be if I hadn’t escaped? I can’t answer that, not with 100% certainty, but I do know this: I still am one lucky bastard.

If you’d like to share your story of change or inspiration, please do in the comment section. Sharing challenging experiences is cathartic. And sometimes, it’s good story material. You’ll see … check out my next post.

PS—Florida is by no means all swamp. Here’s another St. Aug snapshot, of the Castillo de San Marcos.

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Welcome to Storytime

Hi and welcome to my first blog. I haven’t done this before, but I have “logged” countless times. Journals, notebooks, diaries, calendars … paper, paper, paper. I have tons of experience with paper. Now it’s time to get with the 21st century.

Thanks for keeping me company on this leg of the twisty journey I call my life. It took me a fair bit of time to get to my happy place, and I’ve traveled some winding roads and hit quite a few bumps along the way. Despite that I feel full of hope and promise.

“Isn’t that a wonderful beginning?” Anyone a fan of The Princess Bride? I love that story, both the book and the movie. I love stories of all sorts, and I especially love telling them. Which brings me to the point of this blog and the website.

I wrote a story.

Woo hoo, anyone? Bells and whistles and sparkles and what not? Right, like who hasn’t written a tale or two in her day?

Yes, millions of people write stories. I’ve written way over three myself. (Does sarcasm translate here? Probably not, until you get to know me better.)

Things are a bit different now, though. I’ve written an adventure-mystery novel, Emerald Obsession, and it’s being published next month, September 2015. Real “wooo hooo!!” please.

I’m so excited to have reached this point in my trek. I’ve told stories for so long and have dreamed of publishing a novel that people would enjoy. When I began writing, at around four or five years old, the publishing world was completely different. It’s been a challenge for me, a non-tech, non-connected, old-fashioned kind of person to make the leaps necessary to enter this new arena. I’m both scared out of my gourd and proud of how much I’ve accomplished.

I’ve come too far to let the fear of failure stop me.

If you’re like me, you also have dreams and goals, a hectic life, a drive to do something mindful and useful in this world. You have a need to create relationships with other like-minded folks, people who crave connection and relevance, people who live by their emotions, people who are buoyed by a good story, a little levity, an inspiring and thoughtful break from the everyday.

My stories offer a diversion. I’d like them to bring enjoyment to your day. A smidge of escapism. A mini vacation from the worries, stress, anger, fear and everything else less-than-ideal in your life.

Life isn’t always a box of chocolate, a bowl of cherries or a cuppa tea.

I’m a bit of a joker. My novels are full of murder and mayhem, but in reality, I love to make people laugh, often at my expense (it’s so darn easy). I am a flat-out believer in “laughter is the best medicine.” I say that having experienced my share of doctors, the terminal illnesses of dear family and friends and too much wasted life. I believe that, because I know the vital-ness of a strong spirit and how laughter and hope are part of the remedy. I’ve seen how important those feelings are to living the best life possible, for however long we get to live it.

For me, a good mood makes dealing with people and situations and life far easier. I hope that reading my books, stories and blogs transport you to your happy place.

The sky is enormous blue, the air balmy and the salt-tanged sea a crashing cobalt in my world. Come join me. And did you see the comment section below? The one waiting for your words? Please take a few minutes to let me know what your happy place looks like. I’d love to visit with you.

Thanks for the read. You can find out more tidbits in my next blog “How Did I Get Here?” And please look for my first novel, Emerald Obsession, available this fall at Amazon and Smashwords.