Monday, January 27, 2014

The Meaning of the Starfish

My mom had a thing for starfish, especially starfish pins. I got her a few over the years, but I don't know what became of them when she passed away. I'll have to ask my sister.

Of course, when she was alive, we thought of Mom's starfish pin fetish as just kind of a cute quirk, and an easy answer to the question, "What should I get Mom for INSERT OCCASION HERE?"

But after she passed away, every time I'd see a starfish pin or necklace or earrings, I'd think she was saying hello to me.

When we were in Nova Scotia, we went to a charming little town called Chester.

Now, Chester, Nova Scotia is named for Chester, England. And Chester, England has a connection to my Mom. She lived near there with her grandmother when she was around eight years old. In Chester, Nova Scotia (are you with me?) we went into a sweet little shop filled with fun stuff.

These were in the shop. Hey Look! There's a starfish on that pillow!

On the counter was a bowl filled with little shell shapes. I reached in blindly and pulled one out. It was a tiny glittery silver starfish. On the back was imprinted a word:


I bought it. Of course. Here it is, sitting with some of the shells and stones we gathered here and there on our RV journey:

I started to wonder if starfish have any sort of symbolic meaning. I Googled "symbolism of starfish" and found this:


It can also symbolize the divine Mother, "who lovingly creates safe travel over troubled waters and is also seen as an emblem of salvation during trying times.

Now it is I who has a thing for starfish.

Before we took a jaunt to Boca Grande today, I mentioned to God that I'd like to find a little inexpensive starfish something - maybe a pin, or earrings. You know, just sayin'.

I went into a shop that was a wonderful hodgepodge of beachy home decor and men's and ladies' clothing. Way in the back was an earrings rack and these were hanging right in front, calling, "Hey Melissa! Over here! We've been waiting for you!":

They were $12.95, so I bought them. Of course.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where is Home?

Longing for home is a theme in both of my books - and in my life. In The Christmas Village, 12-year-old Jamie finds himself far from home at Christmas time, and longs for nothing more than to return home in time to be with his family for the holiday. In Return to Canterbury, it's less about Jamie's desire to return home, and more about his desire for that kind of deep sense of belonging that makes us feel like we are at home.

It's no surprise that these are strong themes in my books because I've always been a homebody. I remember running home from my friend Nancy Preble's house after a sleepover, my little legs flying down the hill and the words, "I can't wait to get home," pounding in my head. Mind you, Nancy's house was no more than 500 steps away from mine.

This is the house I grew up in - the one I ran home to. But it was red then. 
And there was the time that my beloved Uncle Fred and Auntie Kay brought me home with them to New York City. They were so kind, and they loved me so much and wanted to show me a good time in the city, but I was so homesick they had to bring me back early. To this day, I still wish I could hug them and tell them I'm sorry!!

So it's no wonder our 10-month adventure traveling in the motor home challenged me!

Our beloved Dreamcatcher home

It's not that I don't like to travel and see the world - I do! But I very much need to know that I have a place called home to return to. We are who we are.

There are certain places that will always be "home" to me. I feel my deepest sense of belonging in those places, and I imagine I always will.

Ocean Point, East Boothbay, Maine.
These rocks are my favorite place on this planet. Whenever I step foot on them, I feel HOME.

But I have evolved some over the past few years, in large part because of that big leap with the RV. I really LIKE my comfort zone and prefer not to be thrown out of it. But I have to admit that good usually does come of it. It's not always clear right away. In fact, it takes a while. But getting thrown WAY out of my comfort zone taught me that it is possible to feel at home wherever I am. I discovered that feeling "at home" has less to do with being in a particular place, and much more to do with doing what I love (writing, practicing and teaching yoga) and spending time with people whom I love and who love me. Family, and friends who feel like family.

When we landed here in Florida a year ago, I found that something in me had shifted. I was tired of wasting my life's energy longing to be somewhere else and I very much wanted to learn how to be content where I am. And when I made that shift, MAGIC happened. I instantly found a yoga studio that welcomed me back to teaching. We discovered, to our great delight, that dear old friends from New England whom we had missed terribly just happen to have a home a half hour from us. They come and go between here and up north, but we've already spent lots of time laughing and playing with them again. I was not able to "go home" this year, meaning I didn't make any trips to New England. But family and friends have visited us here.

And, feeling grounded again, I wrote and published my second book.

Much of our suffering in life relates to attachment - to people, places and things. We cling too tight and it's wrenching to let go. It's very human to grow attached; we all do it. The past few years have taught me - finally - that the more I loosen my grip, the less attached I am; the more that what I really want in life manages to find its way to me. Weird. But true. MAGIC.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

An Unforgettable Return to an Unforgettable Place

Just wanted to share this review that just popped up on 

"An Unforgettable Return to an Unforgettable Place:"

"I was privileged to read The Christmas Village, and loved every minute of it. I anxiously and excitedly awaited Return To Canterbury's arrival. I loved this book as much as it's predecessor. It was wonderful to revisit all the beloved characters I fell in love with. I loved getting to visit the wonderful town of Canterbury again. I was on the edge of my seat, and going through chocolate, during some of the more dramatic parts.

Just like The Christmas Village, this book is one you won't want to put down. You, too, will feel the love between all the characters. These books are ones generations of readers are sure to embrace."

From Me: 
A review like this means so much to me, because it was hard to write a sequel! I was so afraid it couldn't/wouldn't measure up to the first book. I felt it did, but the proof is only in the response from readers. Needless to say, I'm thrilled they are enjoying our Return to Canterbury!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


The first review for Return to Canterbury appeared on today, so I thought I'd share it with you here.:

"I received a copy of this book for review and I was so happy to have the chance to return not only to Canterbury but also to the charming characters of Jamie and his friends. If you enjoyed Goodwin's first novel, you will love this sequel!

Return to Canterbury takes place during the summer following the events of The Christmas Village. The 4th of July is the holiday at the center of this story, and the reader quickly finds that Canterbury is as charming in the summer as it was in the winter.

While I was anxious for Jamie to return to the 1930s, I wondered what reason he could possibly have for doing so. Goodwin comes up with an intriguing reason that manages to tie the two novels together in a way I didn't expect.

When Jamie returns to the Canterbury of the 1930s he finds the town struggling under the weight of the depression and dealing with suspicious fires and possibly unscrupulous businessmen. True to form, Jamie and his friends Chris and Kelly quickly find themselves at the center of the action and working to save the town they love.

Return to Canterbury is filled with the suspense, humor, and heartwarming characters readers have come to expect from Goodwin. It was a pleasure to return to her writing and I look forward to reading more from her in the future."

                                                               ~ Julie Flanders, author of Polar Nights and The Ghosts of Aquinnah