I don't profess to be something I'm not. I have not been an "author" for long. I have been a clinical social worker, geriatric care manager and hospice counselor for over 30 years. I grew up in the small town of Marcellus in Upstate New York. I went to Nazareth College of Rochester where I received a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work and later graduated from Syracuse University with my Master's Degree in Social Work. In 1995 I started a private geriatric care management business in Syracuse and in 2001 I opened a similar business in Sedona, Arizona. I have been writing creatively since I was old enough to hold a pencil in my hand.
With a few exceptions, those of us who have reached middle age would agree that SOMETHING HAPPENS in life that forces change in us. SOMETHING just doesn't work anymore. SOMETHING vital remains unsatisfied in our beings and as we move closer to the second half of life. If we are fortunate, SOMETHING rebellious inside of us can take hold and force us to change our lives.
Some people leave relationships that don't seem to satisfy. Some people get sick or just feel plain old(!) and are forced to change in order to survive and thrive. They alter the way they live through diet, exercise and environmental change. Some have been working excessively to finance their lives and to support the people in them. While we may be very good at what we do, something is still missing. When you get to be a certain age, an undeniable change takes place. It's time to shift gears. It's time to take a risk. It's time to take a chance on yourself.
I have a dozen books on the back burner waiting for me to finish them, but I have been so busy "living my life" that I never got around to getting it done. One day everything screeched to a halt when my beloved dog, Jack, went in for emergency surgery. Me, the woman who never had time for anything but work, spent a week caring for him in his demise. If you have ever been a caregiver, you know how intense life can be. If you have ever lost a loved one, you know that you can be overwhelmed by it for quite some time afterwards.
The day following Jack's death, my father also died, somewhat unexpectedly. It was a profound time of grief, of introspection, and of redefining what was important to me. When I finally began to heal from the loss, writing became my top priority. I spent many hours a day writing "Jack McAfghan." It took the better part of six months, working almost constantly with words coming off the top of my head faster than I could write them down.
As I prepare for publication in the upcoming week, I find myself making other changes in my life. I created my domain name today. I was told I needed a 'branding plan' if I want to be an "author". I need a name for myself...an 'identity', so I spent all day building my personal blog. It is the site you are on right now. If you ever told me I would put my name Out There for the world to see I would have said you were crazy. I've always been a bit reserved. Until a few weeks ago I was planning on hiding behind "Jack McAfghan", crediting him for writing the book.
As I was creating the site you are looking at right now, I realized that what happens as we reach this age is that, if we're lucky, we will have the chance to discover who we are and what we love to do. If you don't already have a domain name of your own name, do me a favor and type Your Name Dot Com into Google and discover how it feels when you do it; when you see it. It's a unique feeling. It's you. It's the name you are known by on this planet.
In the six months since I lost Jack and my father and turned 54, my life has changed. My housing situation has changed. My budget has changed. Things have become much simpler. I tapered down my care management business and, while I didn't have many funds, what I did have was time. Time was the one thing I never had before and I've learned that it's the most precious commodity there is.
A shift has taken place, and now that Jack's book is officially written I am moving on to the other books and titles. One, a story of the growth that comes with unrequited love. Another, a tale of a man with Alzheimer's who stays the course and proves that there is more going on in a "demented" brain than meets the eye. I have short stories galore from living life with people living life and loving them all. I am not sure what will happen with the stories -- if they will become books or if they will remain articles and short stories but I promise this: they will be put onto paper and into the public because all the people I write about have something to teach.
Please stay tuned and, by the way, if you have a story to tell and if you have time, put it onto paper and make it public. Join me in sharing the lessons you have learned to help others gain perspective in their lives.
Life is the school and love is the lesson and there's no point in living if you don't learn and if you don't love. I learned that from Jack.