On life's journey, whether traveling around the world or walking around your block, there's lots to learn about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, so lets dive into a new ocean together!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Waving farewell to 2012!

MS Restoration sailing from the Black Sea to Israel in 1995

Let Christ navigate you through 2013

May this year be the year you wave farewell to your safe shore,
and dive into a new ocean of dreams that will lead you to your God-given destiny.
Through rough seas or silky waters, your Captain will guide you to safe harbors.

I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings for the New Year!

MS Restoration crossing the Atlantic in 1994
(from Seattle, WA to Stockholm, Sweden)

(photos by Julie Langaker)

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Few Days after Christmas

Not a perfect Christmas tree, not a perfect Grama

The Christmas season comes and goes like a whirlwind, and before you know it, you're sitting by the fire with your empty coffee mug and wondering, Where did the time go?  I wanted to have my neighbors over for some Christmas cheer; I couldn't wait to go to the annual "Christmas Lights at the Zoo"; I looked forward to a road trip to Charleston to see their Christmas festivities; I had every intention of mailing a few Christmas cards ... the list goes on.  Didn't happen.  Perhaps next year.

I was drawn to my iMac to write down a few random thoughts after Rob and I saw "The Guilt Trip" with Barbra Streisand, and "Parental Guidance" with Bette Midler.  I'm not a movie critic, but for me, both movies had themes that most women my age (40+) could relate to.

Two topics that resonated from both movies--for me anyway--were respect and we're the other grandparents.  Listen to me, no matter how perfect we try to be, we all have quirks*, from the grandparents, to the parents, to the children.  Most of our family quirks we learn to ignore and even laugh at.  Some cut a little deeper.  (*If you don't know the definition of quirk, look it up on google)

As our kids turn into adults, we slowly turn loose of them so they can become who they are destined to be.  Even so, we still want them in our lives.  A simple phone call now and then brightens our day, sprinkles sunshine on the challenges we face in our own lives.  We don't have to agree on much, but a phone call means more than any present money could buy.  You don't have to agree with me, but please, respect me for who I am, your mother, your grandmother.  Now I can hear those amens coming through the wi-fi wires, loud and clear.  Not from the kids so much, but from you mothers and grandma's.

The other topic.  We need to stop comparing ourselves with the other grandparents.  After talking with a few of my friends, I realize that now and then we all go through the comparison thing.  My Mother always felt bad because she couldn't give expensive Christmas gifts like the other grandparents, but her grandkids didn't love her any less.  It was her laughter and silliness that we all remember about Mama Cook.  That's what I'm hoping my kids and grandkids remember about me.

So lets begin this year with this decision: I will not compare myself with anyone.  I will let go, and be me!  I will continue to respect my parents for who they are, and hopefully my children will respect me for who I am.  Like my friend told me, "When our family gets together for the holidays, its a madhouse!  But we're family, and that's who we are."  Well, said, dear anonymous friend.

So there.  That's all I wanted to say for now.  I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings for the New Year!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day after Christmas

One of my favorite pastimes ... laughing! Big and loud, like my Mama used to do.

Ahh, the day after Christmas.  After a grand time with family on Christmas Eve and Day, a calm silence has fallen throughout the house. So I will take this time, upon request, to post an interview about a simple southern belle ... ME!  I'm part of a blog tour, similar to the old fashion chain letters we used to send.  So pour a cup of coffee while I indulge myself for a few moments.

Where did the idea come from for Lady and the Sea?
I was a volunteer on the WWII ship, MS Restoration, for fourteen months back in 1994. Upon returning home from sailing the seven seas, when I told stories about the miracle ship, people insisted, "You must write a book about your adventures!" They are right, I must write! I told myself.  And so Lady and the Sea was born.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition of Lady and the Sea?   Who should play Rosie, the main character?  Oh, that gorgeous, classy, talented brunette ... ugh,  what's her name? Can't remember.  Oh well.  Then my second choice would be Sandra Bullock.  Now, for Rosie's prince charming, Jesse?  Without a doubt, Tim McGraw.  Hmm, now that I think about it, didn't Sandra and Tim star in a movie together?
On board the MS Restoration in Stockholm, Sweden 1994
Give us a synopsis of Lady and the Sea? After two failed marriages, forty-eight-year-old Rosie Atkisson struggles through the process of rebuilding her life with her husband, Jesse. But the settled rhythm of her new found comfort is interrupted by a tug in her heart when she encounters a photo of another aging lady, the World War II ship, MS Restoration. A special mission to transport Russian Jews from Sochi, Russia, to Haifa, Israel, means an adventure of a lifetime; does she dare pass up this dangerous assignment that will take her thousands of miles from her family and her comfortable life? In spite of her fear of water and the unknown condition of the ship, Rosie says farewell to her safe shore, and dives into this new ocean. After fourteen months on board the old ship--from hurricanes to a heart attack, from miracles to menopause, and being held at gunpoint in the Haifa Harbor--Rosie wonders if she will ever return to her own safe harbor.

Is your book self-published or traditional published? After much prayer and research, I decided to self-publish. The best investment I made was to hire a professional editor. It's worth the money to make your book shine! I'm proud of Lady and the Sea, thanks to its fine editing.

Crossing the Atlantic in 1994
How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript? Two years. Then after much prayer and research (as you can see, I do a lot of both), I changed the story from a non-fiction to a novel, based on a true story.  Another two years. Yes, I'm slow, but sure.

Who or What inspired you to write Lady and the Sea? The history of the WWII ship, then sailing the seven seas with her, inspired me to share our story with the world. Her past and my past had many parallels (when I heard that the government put her in mothballs after the war, I immediately identified with her--I put myself in mothballs after my second divorce!). It was actually fun to tell the tale of two aging, lovely ladies.  Together, we prove that it is never too late for dreams to come true.

Russian Jews arriving in Haifa, Israel 1995

What else about Lady and the Sea might pique the reader's interest? The ship's sole purpose was to transport Russian Jews from the Black Sea to Israel. Hundreds donated gifts, and their time; miracles showed up daily on the deck.  If you love to travel and are looking for true adventure with sprays with romance and sprinkles of humor, and if you desire to find faith for your forgotten dreams, then Lady and the Sea is the book for you.

Thanks for reading! Next Wednesday, please visit the following fantastic author, Rosemary Hines, to read about her new books and her works-in-progress at www.rosemaryhines.com

You cannot discover new oceans until you are willing to lose sight of the shore

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Relaxing in the midst of preparations...

Popcorn knows how to relax...
Can you believe it?  I have been asked to be part of a blog interview tour with some great, inspiring authors.  I'll be posting my interview next Wednesday, December 26th.  And who knows, perhaps the day after Christmas will be the perfect time to take few minutes to sip on your favorite day-after-Christmas drink and read what I have to say about, well, what else?  My recent novel, Lady and the Sea... my true story about finding faith for forgotten dreams.

I pray that you are enjoying the joys of the Christmas season.  Take time to give hugs and smiles, and whispers of love.

... and so do I!

Monday, December 10, 2012

"My Fond Christmas Memories" interview

My own little book shop (a gift from my hubby)

Thank you Grace Awards, for a warm Christmas Memory interview!  Click on to read.


For those of you living in the Columbia/Lexington SC area, please stop by the Books A Million Lexington store this Saturday, December 15th, 1-3pm.  Chatting is my favorite pastime.

May the warmth and joy of the Christmas season keep you cozy in the days to come.  Keep wRiting and Reaching out to touch someone.

Oceans of Christmas blessings!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Simplicity of the Season

My 40+ year-old nativity
Unto you is born this day in the city of David, 
a Savior which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11 KIV

During a simple worship song at church yesterday,
I was touched by the loving kindness of Jesus.
My thoughts wandered back to a night in a little southern Baptist church
when I was eight-years-old.  
Someone tugged at my heart.  It was Jesus, asking if He could come in.
With childlike faith, I said yes, and He has been there ever since.
There have been times in my life when I have ignored His presence,
but eventually I always returned to my safe harbor.  

Someone recently told me that I am living the good life, and I agree.  
But like everyone, I've had hard times.  
Single and pregnant at nineteen.
 A failed marriage at twenty-one; another failed marriage at thirty-eight. 
My mother dying at the young age of sixty-six when I was forty.  
And all the tears and mistakes in between.  
But by God's grace, I am still walking with Him, trusting in Him.  
After all,  Jesus is my best friend.

A few random thoughts:  
With the Christmas season upon us, I ask you, has God ever tugged at your heart?  
Take some time in the busy-ness of the Christmas season to get alone with God 
and share your heart with Him.  
Ask questions--I've been asking for fifty-nine years.  
Sometimes I get answers, sometimes I don't.  
Doesn't matter.  
I trust in the Lord with all my heart and choose not to lean on my understanding.  
After all, we're not as smart as we think we are.  
And I'm asking you to please stop looking at us Christians who have let you down, 
act like we don't care, even act holier-than-thou, oftentimes not realizing it.  
We're not perfect, so don't let us stand in the way of God's love and 
His wonderful plan for your life.

I'll write more later, but at the moment, I have a tired patient on my hands.  
Rob had shoulder surgery last week and his body is still in the process of getting back to normal.  And that's what Nursie Leaf is for--to give him drugs, meds, and lots of TLC! 
(sounds like a rock n' roll song to me)

Until next time,  I invite you to give Jesus a chance to tug at your heart.

I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings for the Christmas season.  
And remember ...

Jesus is the Reason for the Season
John 3:16

Popcorn is looking for Rob
Christmas 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Cheer is Here!

Thanksgiving in our new home
Thanksgiving has come and gone.  All of us have much to be thankful for.  I cooked a scrumptious Thanksgiving meal for family and friends.  What a special time it was celebrating the holiday in our new home.  But life moves on.  This past Tuesday my hubby, Rob, had his shoulder surgery (his first, I might add).  He is a trooper and I'm a great nursie, so we're doing pretty good, learning as we go.  I'm a bit tired and he's a bit grumpy (I blame it on his drugs ... oops ... meds.)  

As a friend, I need to make some phone calls.  As a writer, I just finished a writing project (finally).  As a Mom, I never come close to being the kind of Mom I would like to be ... saying the right things at the right time ... sending lots of money to kids and grandkids across the miles ... am I the only mother who goes through this?  The good news is that I come to my senses a lot sooner these days than in years gone by, realizing that no one is perfect.  So I continu, pressing for the prize that is set before me.

I'm rambling; I feel like I've taken some of Rob's drugs.  That's because two o'clock in the morning arrives just as I'm entering my REM sleeping zone.  But I must be faithful to rise up and give my Robinski his meds every four hours.  That's what all good nursies do.  I appreciate all the prayers you have sent our way.  We're feeling the love!
Oceans of blessings for the Christmas season!

Life begins each morning ... each morning is the open door to a new world -- new vistas, new aims, new tryings.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends.  His mercies never cease.  Great is His faithfulness.  His mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIT

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour


I am thrilled beyond measure to be participating in the first annual Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour 2012, sponsored by the Grace Awards.  It's another dream come true for me to be in the company of all these talented and gifted authors.  I would like to suggest a Christmas read that took me on a great adventure of sailing the seven seas on a WWII ship, and living to tell about it.  Yes, Lady and the Sea is a novel based on my true story.  You can travel with me without wearing a life jacket or leaving the comfort of your cozy chair by the fireplace.  You'll even spend a white Christmas in Stockholm, Sweden on board the MS Restoration.  So come, sail away with me.

"You cannot discover new oceans until you are willing to lose sight of the shore"

After two failed marriages, forty-eight-year-old Rosie Atkisson struggles to rebuild her life with her husband, Jesse, in Southern California.  But the settled rhythm of her newfound comfort is interrupted in l994 by a tug in her heart when she encounters a haunting photo of another aging lady, the WWII vessel MS Restoration.

A special mission to transport Russian Jews from Sochi, Russia, to Haifa, Israel means an adventure of a lifetime; does she dare pass up this dangerous assignment that will take her thousands of miles from her family and comfortable life?  In spite of her fear of water and the unknown condition of the ship, Rosie says yes to that inner voice that says GO!

After surviving fourteen months on board the old ship--from a hurricane to a heart attack, from miracles to the M word--menopause--and now being held at gunpoint in the Haifa Harbor--Rosie wonders if she will ever return to her own safe harbor.

Christmas on board the WWII ship MS Restoration
 Stockholm, Sweden ('94)

What makes Lady and the Sea perfect for Christmas reading and/or gifting?  Once Rosie found faith to say farewell to her safe shore and dive into a new ocean, her fourteen-month journey full of adventure, romance, and miracles enabled her to find faith for her forgotten dreams.  After traveling with Rosie, you too will find faith for YOUR forgotten dreams!  From teen-agers to 89-year-old great-grandparents, women and men who are reading Lady and the Sea are bidding farewell to their safe shores.  Lady and the Sea is the perfect gift for this season of miracles.

Purchase Links:  sharonleaf.com  amazon.com Books A Million, Barnes and Noble, E-books

I wish you a Merry Christmas, smooth sailing and oceans of blessings for this holiday season!

Please continue the GRACE FILLED CHRISTMAS BLOG TOUR through December at www.graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/grace-filled-christmas-blog-tour-2012/

About Sharon Leaf
Born in sultry South Carolina and raised in sunny Southern California, since turning forty, Sharon Leaf has traveled to over fifteen countries, including living in Sweden while attending an international Bible College, traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and volunteering on the WWII ship, MS Restoration, whose sole purpose was to transport Russian Jews from the Black Sea to Israel.  She received a degree in theology at the age of sixty, proving that it is never too late to fulfill another dream.  Lady and the Sea is Sharon's debut novel.  She lives in South Carolina with her husband and their malte-poo, Popcorn.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This is how I feel after successfully completing my 'editing-the-blog' journey

Hello everyone in Leaf Land.  Good News.  By my patience, tolerance, quiet spirit, lots of deep breaths, I finally discovered how to edit my winter photo at the top of my blog.  Hey, that is quite a victory for me.  And it's the little victories we have each day that make us who we are, right?  I knew you would agree.  Of course, before I reached the above state of mind, the reality of it all was: it took me hours last night, hovering over my iMac, sweating, drinking more wine than I should, slamming my office door so my sweet hubby and darling Popcorn wouldn't hear me bellowing into the computer screen.  Well, I'm not perfect.

Then I remembered:  Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes.

I wish I had read this before I began my 'editing the blog' journey.  Oh well, better late than never.

Have a smooth-sailing day and I wish you oceans of blessings and strong shoes!

Go in peace.  The presence of the Lord be with you on your way.  
Judges 18:6  NKJV

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Eeeek! Excuse Me, please while I scream

In the midst of my 'edit-my-blog' frustration, I will furnish this lovely photo of Istanbul '08

This is a short blurp, apologizing for the the present confusion on my blog.  I thought I would spend some quiet time updating my blog.  After two hours, I am still making the attempt to update my blog page.  However, I'm hitting some bumps, sprinkled with a bit of frustration.  A lot of confusion.  I'm not good at the latest updates on bloodspot ... see what I mean?  I meant to type 'blogspot', not bloodspot!  eeek!  See that BIG, HUGE, LARGE photo of the lovely snowfall in our backyard (taken 2 years ago in our former house)?  Well, its supposed to be half that size, but I can't figure out how to make it smaller.  And that's only half of it.

For now, I must close down shop and get on with my Sunday, which consists of taking Popcorn to visit Mom, to the market, and then back home.  Since this is the day of rest, I shall not attempt anything else to better my blogspot, as it might cause me to endanger myself and those around me.  Luckily, Rob is at work and Popcorn is hiding under the daybed here in my office.

I wish you smooth sailing and a pleasant Sunday.  And without sounding too selfish, I wish the same for me as well.

*To be continued

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hej da! Friends from abroad and at home

Okay, hello everyone!  I confess that I have been unfaithful to my blog.  Forgive me.  Thank you.  Our house full of Swedes departed Saturday, leaving a small hole in my heart.  We've known them for over twenty years, see them once a year if we're lucky.  They either fly this way, or we fly across the pond to spend time with them in Uppsala.  No matter how long or how short a time you've known someone, a friend is a friend is a friend.  And you know who you are.  I've always wanted to be a better friend, but somehow my friends, and there are many ... not bragging, just blessed and want to proclaim it ... accept me just as I am. And for that I am thankful.

I am in the process of writing a special blog for "The Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour."  Once finished, I will sit down and write a longer and wittier blog.  Hmm, perhaps I'll call Aunt Eunice and have her write a blog for me.  Good idea, Sharon.  Yes, I sometimes talk to myself.

Latest news?  As of today, LADY and the SEA is available at The Lexington Public Library!  Somehow that excites me, mainly because I love libraries.  I checked out a book that I doubt if I'll even open for at least two weeks.  But no problem.  I can go online and re-check it out.  Oh, the joys of technology.  Reminds me, Rob got his iPhone 5G (is that what its called?)  And I, of course, inherited his 4S (?).  Whatever.

More news.  I receive lots of emails.  Well, not lots, but a lot for an 'almost-famous' author.  Today I received a Facebook email from someone who told me that she has been 'following me' and that I have inspired her to finish her manuscript that she started in 2007.  She will have it completed by Thanksgiving.  I inspired someone!  That makes me SO happy!  It's better than receiving a check in the mail!  So I shall celebrate this email by writing a few lines in the manuscript that I'm working on, LADY on the RUN.

Hey, we survived the election!  Now we shall survive the days ahead.  Not only survive, but we shall go out with joy and gladness.  It all begins inside of us, with our Jesus.  If you don't know Him personally, just tell Him that you would like to get to know Him.  And that, my friend, will make Him very happy!

Until next time, I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings,


Listen, my son, and be wise, 
and keep your heart on the right path.  
Proverbs 23:19 NIV

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Just call me Autumn Leaf!

Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes.

"The autumn leafs rush by my window, 
the autumn leafs of red and gold ... "

As the leafs* are slowly changing colors (*my favorite way of spelling leaves), so is my mood.  I get an extra oomph in my step as I gather sweater and leash to take Popcorn for a brisk walk.  Evenings are my favorite times to go for a stroll,  spying the fireplaces ablaze in my neighbor's homes, glancing at the harvest moon shining down to brighten the path down our culdesac, then heading home to spend cozy evenings tucked under my throw blanket as I watch (for the 10th time) You Got Mail.  Ahh, autumn.

This is the first autumn in our Lexington, South Carolina home.  The geese and the turtles in the pond, the bunnies, squirrels, and deer romping on the golf course and in our backyard entertain us anew each day.  This past week I threw a wild party for Rob's 65th birthday and the neighbors couldn't complain because they were all here.  And having Tom and Jacquie living ten minutes away enables them to join in each celebration, which is as good as all the southern comfort food that surrounds us.

Zion National Park, Utah 2012
I recently spent a week in Utah with my brother and his wife while visiting my 90-year-old father, and once again I realize the importance of family.  As care giver to Daddy and to Rob's mother, we both are faced with the reality of how fast time flies and how important it is to live life to the fullest for as long as we can.  Our health is fragile and we need to do our best to take care of the bodies that God has given us (no complaining about the odd shapes and sizes, please!)  I have written blogs about heart and cancer issues, and I will take some time in the near future to write about the baby-boomer generation of care givers.  Yes, Rob and I have arrived (and you will soon enough), and honestly, as challenging as it is at times, I wouldn't trade the time I spend with our parents for anything.  We should give thanks to God for the time we have left with our loved ones.  But I'll write more about that later, so until then, I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings!

I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you.
I always remember you in my prayers.  
Ephesians 1:16 NCV

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rose, Reality, and Roads less traveled

Rose is the main character in Lady and the Sea

Life is what we are alive to.  It is not length but breadth ... be alive to ... goodness, kindness, purity, love, history, poetry, music, flowers, stars, the written word, God, and eternal hope.

I learned a lot about myself while writing about Lady and the Sea's main character, Rose (Rosie) Atkisson.  Go ahead, write a short story, choose a main character, and write away.  You'll soon discover many emotions, fears, dreams, and hopes that you have hidden deep inside of you.  I imagine the more you write, the harder it will be to put down your pen, or push yourself away from your laptop.  You'll be anxious to return the next day to find out where your character is going to take you.  Next door?  Down the street?  To the local cafe?  To another country?

With so much going on around us, here at home and around the world, life is not as dependable as it was in days of old.  I find myself longing for having just a day in the little two-bedroom house on Ibbetson Street with my mother, father, and brother ... had to share bedrooms, wait in line for the bathroom, stand over a floor heater in the mornings before heading out to school.  Okay, enough.  I admit that I have been a bit nostalgic lately.

I must keep this short, as I am finishing an essay that will be published on my author friend's Expat Chat blog.  Title?  "I Sailed the Seven Seas on a WWII ship and Lived to Tell About It"  Very true.  Read my novel, Lady and the Sea (based on my true story).

No matter where you are, what you are doing, take a moment to be thankful for the little things.  Call a family member who you haven't talked to in awhile (email and Facebook doesn't count!).  Hug a tree.  Kidding.  Hug a neighbor.

I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings for the week ahead.

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  2 Thessalonians 2:16-27NIV

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Birthdays, BeLeaf, and Patience

Happy days in California (Shawn, Bosco, and me)
Today is my son's 39th birthday.  Shawn is my miracle child.  Thirty-nine years ago, after extensive tests, our family doctor said it was not likely that I would conceive again.  His words brought me temporary sadness, but they didn't shake my belief that all things are possible with God.  I wanted a baby now, but the Lord had a different plan.  Unlike us, He doesn't stress over the timing of things.  My trust was in Him, so I waited, and waited, and waited.

I already had a darling daughter from my first marriage, a child that was conceived out of wedlock when I was nineteen.  Yes, I admit that thoughts of abortion entered my mind, but deep inside I could not do something that was against my moral principles.  So I made a choice that would change my life forever.  I would not do away with my unborn child, and nine months later, Jacqueline Shane was born, one of the biggest blessings of my life.  But I wanted a brother or sister for her to  grow up with.  I was twenty-seven and time was running out.  I laugh now, but back then my clock was ticking loud and clear.

So I would exercise faith, and patience, for my miracle baby to arrive.  But things don't always happen in a day.  If you have ever wanted something now--a job, a mate, a book published--but had to wait, and wait, then you know what I'm talking about.  Many have lost the joy and reality of God's abundant life due to frenzy and lack of patience.  We try to force our own plans on God, who becomes more of a delivery boy for our flesh than the Almighty One.  Many times we have missed God's best because of our impatience.  Selfishly running about, comparing ourselves with others, we bustle into something that never was God's plan.

Therefore, patience is a great strength.  It is the ability to remain focused and to rest assured that even though weeks, months, and years pass, the earth will eventually yield its harvest.  Life involves constant growth.  Life is sowing and reaping.  If we do not grow weary, we will reap in due time.

A few years later I finally said, "Okay, Lord, if you want me to have another baby, I'll be elated.  If not, then I'll accept your will and be content."  Two years later, I delivered a healthy baby boy, Shawn Christopher.

Today, thirty-nine years later, I'm still exercising patience--presently it's regarding my novel, Lady and the Sea.  It is so easy to get swept away into hours of marketing research, wondering if perhaps I should be doing more -- book signings, speaking engagements, blog interviews, and such.  But I admit as time goes by that it's becoming easier to lean on God's timing and to see what He has for me, not what I can conjure up.

So today I wish a very Happy Birthday to my miracle son.  I pray that he is learning, like his mother, to have patience for those dreams that God has placed in his heart.  And I pray this for you too, my dear bloggy readers.

I wish you smooth sailing, sunny days, and oceans of blessings!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Diving, Floating, and pRocrastinating

Diving headlong into my writing in Belize '08
Floating in Belize '08

When I write, I dive headlong into the work as into a river, where I swim for my life or, depending on the tenor of the story, float on my back, gazing at clouds. ~ Jan Karon, author

   A few random thoughts on diving, floating, and pRocrastinating.  I do all three, but mostly the latter, especially when it comes to my writing.  However, the more I think about it, I'm that way in my everyday life.  If I love an idea, I dive headlong into the river, forgetting to eat and drink, sometimes suffering from dehydration.  When I'm living in the now, I float along thinking of only the moment with no care of time.  On the other hand, if I have to do something that I fear, or I'm not certain of how it will turn out or how much time it will take, I pRocRastinate.  I can think of a hundred things I must do first--laundry, swiffer floors, scare frogs off the patio, or watch one of my favorite old movies.  I waste more time pRocrastinating.

   But I'm changing, proving that you can teach old dogs new tricks.  I'm now diving headlong into those challenging projects (calling Medicare regarding my father's insurance--staying on hold for 30 minutes is no fun; canceling Weight Watchers online--what a joke; and of course writing the next chapter of my book).  

   So, what are you pRocrastinating about today?  Why don't you try diving headlong into that challenge or fear?  And when you do, you'll find that you'll have much more time to float on your back and gaze at the clouds.

Happy floating!  

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Let's Get Physical, Physical"

Huntington Beach, CA 2012

I have blogged random thoughts about everything from travels, friendship, moving, writing, publishing, Israel, beauty. I wrote several blogs about women's health issues--from heart attacks to cancer--and when I recently received an email from someone who had read my blogs regarding cancer, it brought back flashbacks of a dear friend of mine who died last year, of Rob's best friend's wife who died two years ago; and of several friends who have survived ... cancer.  The C word.  Even Olivia Newton-John, the beautiful singer of "Let's Get Physical" is a cancer survivor.  Research continues, support groups are bountiful, and there are people like David Haas who dedicate their lives to this field.

I've never had a guest on my blog before, but when David wrote and asked if he could share an article on my blog, I was delighted.  Joining the organization in 2011, David is a cancer support group and awareness program advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. In addition to researching the many valuable programs available to the site's visitors, David often blogs about programs and campaigns underway at the MCA, as well as creative fitness ideas for those dealing with cancer, while creating relationships with similar organizations.  Here is one on his articles.

Utilizing Exercise for Cancer Patients

Many cancer patients find a desire to live a better lifestyle not only to survive the disease but also to live longer after recovering.  From the time of diagnosis, exercise can help cancer sufferers to deal with the stress, anxiety and depression that come with cancer.  Exercise that also works on the relaxation of the mind, such as yoga is especially beneficial.  Furthermore, physical fitness can help regain appetite that is often lost during treatment of cancer.

The type of exercise undertaken is highly dependent on how cancer has affected the patient.  Some days, the cancer sufferer may not feel well enough to do any physical activity especially while undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation that cause high levels of fatigue; however, the patient should try to exercise as regularly as possible as even a few minutes of exercise is better than none.  Reports show that studies of numerous types of cancer have shown that obesity reduces survival time after cancer treatment and increased chances of recurrence.

Exercise can be broken down into four categories: aerobic, strength training, balance, and stretching.  A cancer patient, whether in the treatment stage, remission or even just diagnosed, should cover each of these areas.  Although at times the cancer sufferer may not feel up to doing much, just 10-minute blocks of exercise throughout the day can be highly beneficial.

Aerobic exercise is particularly useful t feel better during treatment.  This can be something as simple as walking, an exercise which can be practiced immediately after undergoing treatment. When combined with strength training, the body decreases body fat and builds lean muscle most efficiently.

Strength training is highly important for cancer sufferers who are undergoing chemotherapy, commonly used for the treatment of mesothelioma, because it causes a loss of bone density and muscle.  Through weight training, cancer sufferers are able to increase muscle in order to maintain bone density.  They should consult their doctor before beginning a regimen.

A sense of balance may be slightly impaired by medications, making falls more likely.  Chemotherapy patients especially run the risk of breaking their more fragile bones.  There are very simple exercises that can improve balance and can be completed even on days when the cancer patient has little energy.  Such exercises include balancing on one leg or a grapevine moving by crossing one leg in front of the other.

Too much bed rest can lead to stiff joints among other problems.  Stretching relieves this discomfort while providing the body with gently exercise.  It can also help to stretch areas that have developed a weakness due to the treatment such as the rotator cuff in breast cancer patients who have undergone mastectomies.

I want to thank David Haas, for all the work he does with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.  You can read more of David's blogs at www.mesothelioma.com

As we enjoy the last days of summer, let's get physical and connect with those around us.  A smile, a kind word, sharing valuable information with those in need.  You are God's hands, eyes, heart.  We were created to get physical.
Oceans of blessings,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Inspirational Ebooks: Lady and the Sea by Sharon Leaf

Inspirational Ebooks: The Lady and the Sea by Sharon Leaf: Historical Romantic Fiction After two failed marriages, forty-eight-year-old Rosie Atkisson struggles through the process of rebuilding ...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Successful Book Signing Tips from Aunt Eunice

   I hesitated when my niece, the almost-famous author, Sharon Leaf, came over the other day and begged me to accompany her to her next book signing.  To be honest, I have my hands full helping Betty White with her book promotion, but after rearranging my schedule, I agreed and dived in.
   "Here, memorize this," I said as I handed Sharon my personal pamphlet, How to Have A Successful Book Signing in Twenty Easy Lessons.  

   The next day as we entered Mama Belle's Bookshop I gave last-minute instructions. "First of all, darlin', you have to know your audience."
   "Oh, that's easy," Sharon replied, smiling.  "Women of all ages."
   I shook my head as I stacked thirty-five books on her table.  "That's way too general, but we'll talk about that later.  Here, I made these flyers; now walk the store and hand them out ... and smile."
   Sharon came back to her book table five minutes later wearing a frown.
   "What happened?"
   "I walked over to a large group of women who were grabbing up a book off the best-seller shelf."
   "Very good. Then what?"
   "I gave each of them my flyer."
   "Wonderful! What was their response?"
   A gorgeous blonde held up her gray-toned paperback and asked, 'Is your book anything like this one?'  I quickly answered, 'Oh, it's much more adventurous!'"
   I smiled at my niece.  "You go, girl!"  
   "But Aunt Eunice, they totally ignored me and kept grabbing that best-seller book."
   A moment later I asked, "By the way, what was  the book's title?"
   I could tell by the blank look on Sharon's face that she didn't know.  "Ugh, well, it had a gray cover and the title was something like Fifty Shades of ... ugh, the Day, something like that."
   Then I frowned.  "Oh, dear; I don't think that's the audience you're aiming for."  Then when I saw twenty women of all shapes and sizes making their way to Sharon's book table, I added, "Well, perhaps it is."
   I placed a pen in Sharon's hand and said, "Get ready, darlin', you might make it to the best-seller list after all!"  
   I knew at that moment that Sharon has a lot to learn about book signings, but I ask you, who's  better to teach her than her Aunt Eunice?
   Until next time, keep smearin' that Vaseline on your face!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the Road with Aunt Eunice

Aunt Eunice at her best

Hi y'all! As you know, I've been out of town for several months (I'll talk about that later). Upon my return I was shocked to find that my niece, Shaa-ren, is fast becoming a famous author-in-the-making from her debut novel, Lady and the Sea. Just before I left town I ran into her at the Piggly Wiggly buying a gallon of sweet tea and fried green tomatoes from the deli. Well, things have changed. Yesterday I saw her at 14 Carrot Natural Food Market filling her basket with Zacharia bread and stuff I can't even pronounce. But that's not all! She had her very own nutritionist with her, reading labels and explaining the value of each ingredient. I can tell you right now that I have better things to do with my time! Speaking of me ...

I know you've missed me but I am proud to share with you that I have been on my own personal journey. My friends told me that once I retired I needed to purchase one of those big motor homes and go see the USA. Well, that's exactly what I did and I've returned home a changed woman. Without going into details, I'm downright flabbergasted at the shape of this country. For example, every time I pulled into one of those KOA camp sites, I would invite my RV neighbors over to sit by my campfire to roast marshmallows, sip sweet tea and tell a few ghost stories. I guess there's a ritual called BYOB, so within an hour, everyone was dancin' around the campfire singing Sweet Home Alabama. But that's not the half of it. Without fail, as the songs became a bit more risque, an old geezard would cozy up to me and whisper, "Hey, gorgeous, ya wanna ... " I can't repeat the course of the conversations, but I realized after eight states of the same behavior that it is very dangerous for a beautiful woman like myself to travel alone. Let this be a lesson to all my lovely friends out there in Blogland.

I'll share more of my adventures on the road as time goes by, but right now I need to go outside and wash the Arizona dust off my candy-apple-red RV motor home. Until next time, keep splatting Vaseline on that pretty face of yours if you want your man to whisper sweet nothin's in your ear.

Friday, July 13, 2012

fRiendship and Roses

Roses from my garden remind me of the beauty of friendships

I should be writing, or doing something productive, but instead, I'm sitting on my back porch sipping coffee and thinking about how blessed I am to have such lovely friends in my life.  I don't have to see them or even talk to them on a regular basis; just thinking about them makes me feel warm and cozy.  And I'm thinking one of those friends might be you.  I want you to know that I appreciate your friendship, no matter how near or far you are.  I ignored Mr. Guilt when he whispered in my ear, "you should write each friend individually, not on a impersonal blog."  That is probably true.  However, through the years I am learning to ignore that dark feeling of Mr. Guilt, and listen to my heart.

Yesterday I worked in hubby's office--it is now up and running (yes!); afterwards I experienced a quick workout (whew!), and then went for a 'girls night out' with visiting So-Cal family to celebrate my granddaughter's twenty-first birthday (smiling!).  What fun we had acting like silly girls.  Laughter is the best medicine for a weary body and soul.

My website is still down but I shall live and not die.  Technology shall pass, but the love of God and the love of family and friends shall remain.  Wait ... I seem to be drifting again, like I often do.  I must get back on track...

To my friends out their in Blog Land, I wish you smooth sailing as you enjoy your week-end.  Work a little, play a little, love a lot.

Oceans of blessings from your almost-famous author,

Oh yes, I must mention that Lady and the Sea (a great summer-read) is heading for the New York Times Bestseller list ... should arrive sometime in this decade.  Roses Friendship Summer Writing

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Moonlight and Technology

Moonlight on our backyard pond on the Golden Hills golf course*

Technology can be a love/hate relationship. For me, at the moment, it's the latter.  Why?  Right now my website is down.  Go ahead, try it.  Won't work.  www.sharonleaf.com.  It all has to do with Apple's recent changes.  I won't bother going into details, but I want my fam, friends, and fans to be aware that I haven't disappeared for no reason at all.  If you need me, just send me an email at  ladyleaf@me.com.  

So I had a choice of getting all bummed about the whole mess, or taking a deep breath, and be thankful that everything else in my life is going great.  I chose the latter.  Speaking of great, let me tell you about my hubby ...

For our 24th anniversary, Rob bought me the cutest little golf cart.  I named her Baby-Baby.  Each evening, as soon as the golfers  disappear, I jump in Baby-Baby and cruise around the golf course at dusk, taking a neighbor lady with me.  With the breeze blowing in our gorgeous faces and the moonlight glowing on our wind-blown tresses, we begin to give way to our inhibitions.  And that's all I'm going to say about that, except now each evening, we look forward to our eight-fifteen date.  Baby-Baby sits four comfortably, so I'm feeling a party-ride in the air.  

Oh, gotta go.  Aunt Eunice just barged in the front door for her first moonlit ride, so for now,  enjoy the summer before it slips away.  I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings, wherever you are.

*hmm, sounds like a movie ... oh yes, On Golden Pond with Henry Fonda
Moonlight Technology Thankful www.sharonleaf.com

Monday, July 2, 2012

summeRtime and wRiting

I must write ... on paper, on a typewrite, on my iMac ... I must write

Have you ever written a 'to-do' list and accomplished two out of the ten to-do's?  That's  me lately.  On the other hand, I'm feeling so content with my two accomplishments that I have decided to lower my expectations for myself.  I've never been an over-achiever (still can't spell the word), and now since I've quit comparing myself with them, I am doing what I love to do ... smelling more roses.  It's too hot to do anything else.  And besides, Aunt Eunice has offered to write my blogs for the next month while I focus on book signings, speaking engagements, writing blog interviews, hosting the Gate Beautiful Blog Talk Radio Show, and my new venture ... Camp Restoration.

I watched a Lifetime movie the other day about two adults who had achieved power and fame--with lots of money--but realized that what they wanted the most was to keep  Camp Pine Lake open, the place where they met and found first-love when they were kids.  Isn't that sweet?  But so true.  The sooner we learn that its the simple things in life that bring the most joy and happiness, the sooner we'll stop looking at all the possessions we think we need, and invite those around us to come over and share a meal, a coffee time, anything simple.  Splashed with a lot of love.

The other day a neighbor asked me, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a little get-together now and then for the ladies of Palmer Drive?"  Then it hit me.  Camp Restoration.  I'm sure you can guess where the name came from (check out my website www.sharonleaf.com).  When I lived in Fort Mill, I started a small group called Le Artist's Studio that gathered once a month. Since we began, our dark-haired beauty is now a life coach, our bubbly blond is continuing her nursing career, our mother earth is an artist/writer who started an inspiring blog and is selling her art online, and our almost-famous author is busy promoting her debut novel.  We've come a long way, baby!  And the best is yet to come!

Now I'm ready to open Camp Restoration.  Anyone is invited.  I'm a simple kind of gal, so don't expect anything fancy, but I guarantee that fun, food, and fellowship will be on the agenda.

I have to go now ... my roses are beckoning me.

For now, I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings!

Write Typewriter iMac Paper

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Queen of Afternoon Tea interview June 18 2012




CELEBRITY AUTHOR                                                                                


Welcome! Let me pour you a cup of Red Rose tea and we’ll get started. I have an assortment of finger sandwiches, but honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to make the peanut butter and banana sandwiches. But I do have your Peanut Butter and Banana pie for dessert. I’ve included your recipe at the end of the interview. Thanks for sending it!
Q  Where do you live? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A  I was born in sultry South Carolina and raised in sunny Southern California.  Growing up, I divided my summers between Huntington Beach, California and Surfside, South Carolina, so I’ve always considered myself a beach gal.  I was living the good life in Huntington Beach with my husband of twenty-four years when, six years ago, an inner desire surfaced to return to my southern roots.   Now, instead of waking up to palm trees and the Pacific Ocean, here we are, waking up to pine trees and a pond in our back yard in Lexington, South Carolina.  Besides my children, a few accomplishments I’m proud of is finishing a half marathon and living to tell about it—that small victory gave me the confidence that I could accomplish anything; receiving a degree in theology when I was sixty; and publishing my debut novel, Lady and the Sea, at sixty-five, proving that it’s never too late to fulfill another dream.
Q  Are you a traditionally published or indie author?
A  After much research and prayer, I indie-published because it empowers me to have more control of my book.  Instead of waiting months (or years) for my book to be accepted, then waiting one (or two) more years for publishing, Lady and the Sea was published in seven months.  The whole process is on my time schedule—including the marketing—which is a plus for me since I find myself moving a bit slower at sixty-six.
Q  What are your hobbies?
A  I love to travel—by boat, plane, train, car, bike—as long as I’m moving.  Since turning forty, I have traveled to over fifteen countries, including living in Sweden for a year while attending Bible college, traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, trekking through Israel, and volunteering on a World War II ship that allowed me to sail the seven seas and a few oceans along the way.  Our last three-week trip took us to Sweden and Istanbul.  Other hobbies:  reading, writing, watching my favorite movies over and over, spending time with family and friends, and drinking lots of coffee.
Q  Tell us about your current book, Lady and the Sea.  What was your inspiration?
After volunteering fourteen months on the World War II vessel MS Restoration in 1994-95, I knew I had to tell the story of this miracle ship—her story was my inspiration.  When the government put the lock-knot ship in mothballs after the war, she thought her glory days were over, until forty years later when a retired Alaskan sea captain bought her, then gave her to a church in Sweden to transport Russian Jews from the Black Sea to Israel.  God saved the best until last for the old gal, showing the reader that the best is yet to come for us 40+ gals and guys.
Rosie Atkisson is the main character in Lady and the Sea, a novel based on a true story.  After two failed marriages, forty-eight-year-old Rosie struggles through the process of rebuilding her life with husband, Jesse, in Southern California.  But the settled rhythm of her newfound comfort is interrupted by a tug in her heart when she encounters a haunting photo of another aging lady, the World War II vessel MS Restoration.  A special mission to transport Russian Jews from Sochi, Russia, to Haifa, Israel, means an adventure of a lifetime; does she dare pass up this dangerous assignment that will take her thousands of miles from her family and comfortable life?  In spite of her fear of water and the unknown condition of the ship, Rosie says yes to that inner Voice that is saying GO!
After surviving fourteen months on board the old ship—from a hurricane to symptoms of a heart attack, from miracles to the M word – menopause – and now being held at gunpoint in the Haifa harbor—Rosie wonders if she will ever return to her own safe harbor.
Q  How did you become a writer?  When did you start?
A  In sixth grade when my mother gave me a diary for Christmas.  I’ve been writing ever since.
Q  How long did it take to finish your first book?
A  After finishing a half marathon some twenty years ago I was inspired to write my first book which took five months to finish on my Smith-Corona typewriter.  I dropped the phone when Zondervan called to announce that they were considering publishing Lady on the Run, a story that parallels running your spiritual race with your physical race.  A week later I dropped a few tears when they called to inform me they had chosen a well-known author’s manuscript with a similar theme.  Due to several personal events, I had to shelve the manuscript, but now I’m dusting off Lady on the Run so she can run the race that is set before her.
Q  Where do you like to write?
A  In my cozy office on my iMac that my husband gave me, on the back porch overlooking the pond on hubby’s Book Air; in local coffee houses on my man’s iPad; on the west coast, on the east coast, and anywhere in between, on my little iPhone.  I guess you could say I live in an Apple orchard!
Q  Favorite author(s)?
A  Bodie Thoene is my all-time favorite because I love historical fiction, sprinkled with adventure and romance. I devoured the Covenant Chronicles series while I was a volunteer on the MS Restoration for fourteen months because the purpose of our journey was to transport Russian Jews from the Black Sea to Israel. Her books gave me tremendous knowledge of Jewish events surrounding the holocaust.
Q  How many books have you written so far?  Do you plan to write more?
A  I have written three books.  Lady and the Sea was published September 2011; I am rewriting/editing Lady on the Run, and Victory Run (YA), and somewhere in between I will write a sequel to Lady and the Sea.
Would you share a link where we can purchase your books?
What about a link to your website?
Here’s the first chapter from Lady and the Sea
Chapter One ~ July 1995
Within minutes of the MS Restoration entering the Haifa Harbor, an Israeli gunboat sped from the port and circled the World War II vessel.  As two soldiers aimed their deck-mounted machine guns at the ship, another shouted instructions in Hebrew through a loudspeaker.
The captain of the MS Restoration responded over the ship’s radio, “Please, speak to us in English!”
Rosie grabbed the rail.  “Do they think we’re terrorists?”
Jesse touched her arm.  “Rosie, calm down.”
“Do they think we’re pirates?”
“Just calm down,” her husband repeated, holding out his hand.
“Will they make us jump overboard?  I don’t have my life jacket,” she spoke fighting back her fear of water that was trying to surface once more.
“Rosie, you must get hold of yourself.”
Her mind raced as she gazed up at the man who had brought her on this unpredictable journey.  Jesse’s right; what’s come over me? Rosie asked herself, all the time wishing she didn’t have to go to the bathroom.  She didn’t dare leave his side.
The ship, her fellow crewmembers, and their special passengers—the Russian Jews—had finally reached their destination.  No more troubled waters.  No more hurricanes.  No more delays.  On this hot July morning, they were home free—or so they thought.
Rosie looked at the crew, poised as if they were ready to hit the deck.  “Isn’t this ironic?  We’ve traveled halfway around the world, and this is the welcome we get.”
“Stop your engine!” the soldier shouted.
Within seconds, they were dead in the water.
Rosie’s stomach churned.  She hung her head over the side of the ship and let it rip.  After wiping her mouth with a hankie, she grabbed hold of Jesse’s arm.  She’d heard stories about people who had experienced close calls.  Her seventy-year-old father once told her about the time his ship almost went down in the China Sea during the war.  “At that moment, my whole life passed before me,” Talmage said.
Now feeling lightheaded as the Israeli soldiers glared at the Restoration through their binoculars, Rosie knew that this was her moment.
Here is Sharon Leaf’s favorite dessert recipe:

Peanut Butter & Banana Pie       

1 ready-made piecrust (found in the frozen section)
5 large bananas (found in the produce section)
2 large jars of peanut butter—smooth or crunchy, depending on if you have dentures (found in aisle 6)
Smash bananas, then stir and smash in peanut butter; pour into pie shell; eat immediately before bananas turn brown—a good excuse to eat the whole pie in one sitting.
Serve with banana tea (slice half banana into your favorite tea).
All I can say is “YUM!!”
FYI: This recipe is also my favorite tea sandwich–just serve on crust-less bread!

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Great interview. Interesting and inspiring how Sharon persevered in spite of everything! Love it.
  2. Thank you Carole. Sharon is an amazing lady, I agree! So glad you liked the interview. Have a lovely day!
    ~Nancy Jill
    “Queen of Afternoon Tea”
  3. Enjoyed the interview. Thanks for sharing it. The pie sounds good too. I love both bananas and peanut butter, but have never had them in a pie. Blessings, Deborah H. Bateman-Author
  4. Hi Deborah,
    I know. I’ve had peanut butter pie, but not with bananas! Looks rich, doesn’t it?
    Glad you enjoyed the interview with Sharon.
    ~Nancy Jill
    “Queen of Afternoon Tea”
  5. Another fab interview Sharon! Tea and pie, a perfect pastime :)
    Elvis would be proud to taste the dessert! Delightful site, Nancy Jill!
  6. Nice, Sharon! Lady on the Run sounds interesting – look forward to reading that one, too.
  7. Kim, I’ve been so busy running around getting our new house in order that I haven’t written as much as I would like. Oh, it’s time for hubby to come home; gotta run! :)
  8. debbie Kreitzer
    Jun 18, 2012 @ 22:20:18
    Love your stories. Love your testamony. Love to write more, but I’m off to Marie Calendars, on a search for Banana Peanut Butter Pie.
  9. GOD Gave ME a wonderful Sister And the banana & Peanut butter Sandwiches are what we grew up on, and are still tasty today , LOVE U BROTHER JOHN

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