Saturday, October 26, 2013


Today is my birthday. I say that not so as to elicit thousands of Happy Birthday messages (though feel free:). I say it because a birthday, like New Year's, is a good time to reflect on where we've been and where we're going. I'm a Scorpio, and Scorpios tend to be especially interested in the mysteries of life, like astrology and numerology and spirituality. So I am looking at the numbers of my birthday today and thinking about their meaning in my life. If that's a little weird for you, well, welcome to my weird little world :)

I am 58 today. 5 plus 8 = 13. 1 + 3 = 4.

When I was four, I saw only the beauty, joy and magic of the world. I looked for fairies in the garden. I stopped to stare at flowers and birds and to pick violets and gather chestnuts and acorns. I loved my family and my friends and felt safe in the world. I was a lucky little girl.

In our front yard

I do not remember this scary looking bunny
When I was 13, I still saw the beauty and magic of the world. I was also filled with possibility. I loved books, the library and bookstores. I loved school and my church, my teachers, my family and my friends. My head was filled with stories. I imagined living in castles and going to places like Austria and Switzerland, which looked like fairyland to me.

I don't have a picture of me at 13 - those pics are all in our storage unit in Santa Fe - some of you will remember pictures I posted of that. We have to deal with that stuff eventually, but like Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about that tomorrow!"

Now I am 58.

Picture taken of me today on my 58th birthday. 

For much of the time between 13 and 58, I took detours, as most of us do. I still saw the beauty and magic of the world, I still imagined stories and still dreamed of going to wonderful places. But those things weren't at the forefront of my life. I let them slip into the background while I studied and worked and accumulated lots of stuff. The focus was usually more on "what was missing" rather than on appreciation for all the abundance and blessings that were right there in front of me.

Sometime in my 40's though, the 4-year-old and 13-year-old started talking to me, loudly. They said, "HEY! YOU! YEAH, YOU, GOODWIN! WHAT ARE DOING COUNTING NUMBERS AT AN INSURANCE COMPANY? TIME TO GET BACK TO BEING WHO YOU REALLY ARE."

It took some time, some years of transition, but I did find my way back. I found my way to writing, which I knew from the age of ten was what I should do. I also found my way back to yoga, which I also first discovered at the age of ten. Yoga and writing are the two things that have called to me my whole life. In my 40's they started calling, "Come back to us, come back to us, come back to us."

For those of you who don't know much about yoga - well, it's not just a form of physical exercise and it's not a religion. It's simply a path to becoming the best WHO we were meant to be. When we practice yoga, the body moves with the breath, the mind focuses and becomes quiet.

And when the mind quiets; when we can finally stop listening to all the garbage going on in our heads about what we should have done or shouldn't have done, what we are afraid of or feel guilty or ashamed about, what we are worried about or scared of - when we can get that STUFF out of the way, our true Self can finally emerge.

Not the ego self defined by where we live or work, or how we look or how much stuff we have in our storage unit - the true Self we came here to be. The Self who is the best realization of our 4-year-old self's innocent delight and gratitude for life; the realization of the 13-year-old self's imagined potential and possibility.

That's me doing Half Moon Pose in La Paz, Mexico a couple of years ago.

I've made lots of mistakes, wasted time and energy wanting things that weren't good for me, working at things that made me feel empty. I've had my share of loss and sorrow, especially in these last ten years. So it's not like my life has been all happy-happy joy-joy. No one's is. Life is a continuous cycles of ups and downs. But through the yoga practice, we discover that by learning to love and have compassion for ourselves, we can love and have compassion for others. And being in a place of love and compassion helps us weather the cycles of life, and it helps us help others weather them too.

For me, writing and yoga are the same. My writing is my yoga - my path in the world, the way that whatever gifts were given to me when I came into the world 58 years ago are passed through me and given back to the world. Today at 58, I feel like Me; like the Me I was at 4, filled with gratitude and appreciation for the beauty around me, the people in my life and all that is good and kind; and I also feel like the Me the 13-year-old me hoped I might become. I feel like I haven't let her down, and that feels pretty good.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

SILENT OATH BLOG TOUR! Interview with Paul Anthony Shortt, Author of Silent Oath and Locked Within

My friend Paul Anthony Shortt 

has just released his book Silent Oath, 

which is the sequel to Locked Within. He's also the father of adorable twin girls, an avid gamer and a blogger. He's visiting today to let us know about Silent Oath and to share a little bit about his life as a writer and his life beyond writing. 

I hope you'll enjoying visiting with Paul today and will leave a comment to let him know you stopped by. Thanks for coming!

First, a little about Silent Oath:

Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the city's supernatural masters. But it's not enough. Because from the shadows of Nathan's former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that could undo everything he has fought for. 

Nathan's only chance to uncover the memories of his previous existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena DeSantis, a woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he has loved.Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future the city has.


ME: Paul, you seem to be a very prolific writer. How often do you write and for how long?

PAUL:  I write every day. My standard schedule is to write during my lunch hour in work, and early on weekend mornings while my daughters are playing in their play chairs or napping. Beyond that, often if we’re not doing anything in particular on a weekend afternoon, my wife will watch the girls while I get some extra work done for an hour.

ME: I've also seen you say you are a "gamer" - what exactly does that mean?

PAUL: I play video games, board games, and tabletop role playing games. The last one there probably stands out as the most unusual. Essentially, tabletop role playing is like improv acting. There are a number of players sitting together, usually in groups of three to six, and each player has their own character, much like they would in a video game. They describe what their character does in the fictional game world and they speak as their character when their character has something they want to say.

One of the players, referred to as the game master, plays the role of all the other characters in the game and comes up with a storyline, or adventure, for the others to play through. There are rules to adjudicate things like combat or tests of skill, typically used to heighten the drama and add an element of uncertainty to the game.

It’s a hobby I’ve been involved with since I was about 14, and to this day many of my closest friends are also gamers.

ME: Does gaming a role in your writing?

PAUL:  Definitely. I’m often the game master in our regular group, and it gives me an opportunity to test out story and character ideas before I include them in a book. Dorian, one of the antagonists of Locked Within and Silent Oath, is actually inspired by the villain from a game I ran based on the Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV show.

ME: Do you have other employment besides writing - if so, what do you do?

PAUL: I work in office admin and customer services. I’m the team supervisor so I have a lot of responsibilities, but thankfully this means I sit at a desk with a computer, so once 1 o’clock comes around I can get straight into writing.

ME: I love seeing the pictures of your twins on Facebook. I can only imagine that your ability to find time to write has changed since having twin girls, yet you seem to still always be writing. How are you managing the balance?

PAULCertainly. Before I could get up early on a Saturday or Sunday and write for hours while my wife slept. Now I get up, and I have to get breakfast ready for the girls. Also, while the girls now have a set bedtime and are usually very good at going to sleep, since they’re teething now they can sometimes have trouble settling down. As my wife has somewhat limited mobility and is in her third trimester with the new baby, I have to go upstairs to check on them if they start crying. It’s hectic and tiring at times, but one smile from my girls and it’s all worth it.

Also, not that this should make any sense, but now that I have to divide my time so much, I actually feel like I’m more productive when it comes to writing.


A child at heart who turned to writing and role playing games when there simply weren't enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life. Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group.

Paul lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends. The following year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica, and is now expecting their fourth child.
Paul's first novel, Locked Within, was released on November 6th, 2012, by WiDo Publishing. Silent Oath is the second book in this urban fantasy trilogy.


Twitter: @PAShortt

Let the end of the world come tumbling down
I'll be the last man standing on the ground
And if my shadow's all that survives
I'm still alive

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Sad Case of the Suicidal Tooth

When we stopped RVing last January 1st and settled down here in Punta Gorda, Florida, the first thing we did was find dentists. We were always the twice-a-year cleanings plus check-up and x-ray types, and our year on the road was the first in my lifetime that I didn't get in that second check-up.

Toward the end of our RVing, I had noticed some irritation around a lower right molar. So I doubled my dental hygiene efforts and it seemed to get better. But by the time I finally got to see a dentist in February, the irritation was back. They took x-rays and discovered that the tooth, which is under a crown, was committing suicide.

It's a thing called "internal resorption" and it's rather rare. Yay, Me! Of all the ways to be rare, this is among the least desirable! What happens is that something happens to the tooth - a trauma, a crack, whatever, and the tooth begins to die. It then perceives itself to be a threat to the other teeth, so it selflessly says, "I will destroy myself to save the rest!" It's a nice thought, but not actually helpful!

By the time of the x-ray, the tooth was well on its way to succeeding in its suicide attempt. They sent me to an endodontist to see if the tooth could be saved by way of a root canal. It cost $400 to determine, that NO, it couldn't be saved.

So they sent me to an oral surgeon to have it pulled. They also explained my options for after the removal:
  • Do nothing (live with gap on the chewing side of my mouth)
  • Get a bridge
  • Get a dental implant
I knew the last option was the most expensive, but the bridge wouldn't be cheap either, and the implant will be like starting over with a whole new tooth. So, I had the oral surgeon remove the tooth and do a bone graft. Okay, that's another $1000.

The bone graft heals for 3 to 4 months (and it took all of that). It's all good and ready for the next step - implantation of the titanium rod upon which the new crown will sit. That will be in November to the tune of another $1700. (If I wanted to be completely "knocked out" while they do it, it would cost $2500).

But we're still not done yet! After another 3 to 4 months of healing, a crown will go on. That'll be another $1300. So, let's do a little tally: 400 + 1000 + 1700 + 1300 = $4400!!

Poor, sad EXPENSIVE little suicidal tooth ....

Friday, October 4, 2013


Hello friends,

Well, I've been sporadic at best with blogging this year. There have been a lot of life changes yes, but MOSTLY I have been absent because I have been writing - working on Return to Canterbury, the sequel to The Christmas Village. And I'm pleased to tell you that it is DONE, it is with the publisher, and it will be a BOOK by early December!

Last year at this time, RVPainter (hubby) and I were still living in our beloved Dreamcatcher motorhome:

Our Beloved Dreamcatcher Home

We had just arrived in Florida at Ft. Picken's State Park - one of our favorites on that journey. Take a look and you'll see why:

Fort Pickens State Park, Gulf Breeze, Florida

But those of you who followed along with us know that already we were debating coming off the road because ONE OF US, who shall remain nameless, needed a home base. Okay, IT WAS ME.

We came in off the road and settled here in Punta Gorda, Florida. Not a bad place to settle, huh?

Ponce de Leon Park, just down the street from us in Punta Gorda

The RV sold easily. I was able to immediately return to teaching yoga and also immediately started writing again. It was like everything fell into place to support our decision.

Honestly, the decision to stop RVing full time was heart wrenching - I kinda broke RVPainter's heart, but I also kinda broke my own. It was SO wonderful in so many ways, but in some really essential ways it didn't work for me as a full-time lifestyle. Despite my struggles, I look back on it as one of the best year's of my life! You remember all those photos from all those great places??? I mean, really, it was the adventure of a lifetime, to be treasured always.

Fast forward to now, and a book that I feared would never get written is DONE. I've seen the first cover sketch and it's so close to perfect - just a few tweaks and it will be. I am SO proud of Return to Canterbury. At first I didn't really want to write a sequel because

a) I didn't have a good story idea
b) I was afraid I couldn't live up to the first book (you know how it can be with sequels!)

BUT THEN I got a good idea, the story started to flow and just took off. The next thing I knew, I was off on another rollicking roller coaster of an adventure with Jamie, Kelly and Christopher - three of my favorite people.

I feel like I did justice to The Christmas Village with an exciting plot, a few more surprises and just as much of an emotional tug. Return to Canterbury takes place at the Fourth of July, so we don't have the backdrop of Christmas this time around. One of the things I'm most proud of is creating a certain mood and evoking those same emotions without having Christmas to help me. I hope you will agree!

And for those of you who read The Christmas Village, you remember that teensy-weensy itsy-bitsy mystery we were left with at the end? Well, I promise you that Return to Canterbury will answer ALL your questions - and a few you didn't even have!

Well, that's enough for now. I'll be around more now that the book is done. Stay tuned for updates and the release date. And, I'll fill you in on our first year here in Punta Gorda and some of the wonderful things - besides this book - that have come about as a result of settling down here.

See you all soon - I've missed you!