Archive for Life’ Category



Ten Days of Crazy

May. It’s here again. I love it. I dread it. It’s the two-sides-of-the-same-coin syndrome for me. The month which brings me joy is also a source of emotional angst and reflection, threatening to suck me in to an ocean of melancholy. What can I say? Therapists and writers, of which I am both, reflect, ponder, stew. What luck for my family :)

It really is quite eerie what happens in the course of ten days, starting with May 10th. I’m sure a numerologist would have a field day with me. Perhaps during one of my “girls days”, I’ll go to the city (that’s San Francisco for any of you who are not from Northern California), and find an expert in Numerology, and spill my guts about my ten days of crazy.

To sum up: here are the ten days: On May 10th, my lovely daughter was born. Then May 11th, along came my amazing son, although three years prior. He was born three days before Mother’s Day. My daughter was born ON Mother’s Day. Let’s toss some new-mommy hormones in with that mixed salad, and that’s enough to create a little crazy each year, wouldn’t you agree? Well, it gets…how shall I say…more intense. I didn’t have the best of mothering. So, Mother’s Day always brings up…”stuff.” I have found mother surrogates and while therapy has been great, I believe the greatest “cure” for dealing with unhealthy parenting is to be the best parent to our own children. Some days, I am just that. Others…just ask my kids. No, all kidding aside, I have found tremendous healing in being the parent I wished for myself.

Pre-children, I reached out to my mother a few weeks before Mother’s Day, offering to go to therapy, extending the proverbial olive branch, knowing she probably was incapable, but nonetheless, offering love, forgiveness, and peace. I sent her tulips. She died on May 20th. My first-born was due that following May. Do you see the circle? Tulips are annual flowers that return in the Spring…My second child arrived, almost to the day, three years later.

Thus, the ten days of crazy were born and they start again tomorrow. I try, every year, to deny the power that birth and death so closely aligned, play in my life. “Nah, it’s been 18 years. I’m fine. I’m all done with that.” But then, like a rat gnawing away at the insulation in my basement, I can hear the scritch-scratch of unfinished business upstairs in my air conditioning vent. “I’m still here…you have to deal with me…I’m not going away.”

Oh, man…

Isn’t it amazing that we all have our own ten days of crazy? That is, something from childhood or early adulthood that continues to cycle through, gnaw away in the basement of our hearts, that reminds us that there’s still work to be done. Forgiveness. Bitterness. Self love, or lack thereof.

As a writer, I find that I get to work this out in my short stories and novels. As I wrote earlier, I took a look at No Ordinary Girl, my newest novel, because there was a disconnect between was going on internally for me and that which I was writing. “My voice,” if you will, was not coming through. It is now! I nearly missed an appointment the other day because I was glued to my chair, pounding away on the computer. I get to give my unfinished business some voice via Juli, my main character.

As we approach the milestones of our children’s births, memorialize and honor deaths, dread or celebrate special days, such as Mother’s Day, I encourage you to take a moment, breath, reflect, come up for air, and consider this: sometimes what looks and feels like crazy on the outside is the stirrings on the inside of that which we haven’t given a voice.

Maybe it’s time for you to find your voice.


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Diving into the Shallow Pool

Passing notes, caddy girls, one-week “relationships”, matching outfits, best-friends on Monday, not speaking on Friday, school dances filled with angst, hormones, “Do I fit in?”, self-doubt, leaving childhood…any of this sounding familiar? I would call these the worst two years of my life, save meeting my best friend, Cori, and two unique kind-hearted boys named Billy and Chris.

Junior high, or middle school, is a blender of feelings and thoughts. Back then, we weren’t familiar with the term “bullying”, but there was plenty of it around. Given that my youngest is about to graduate from middle school, I have re-lived a great deal of my pain and pleasures as she has dealt with the drama and excitement in hers. And while our experience  has not been the same, I would say that most of us can concur that we would never chose to dive into the shallow pool of middle school once again. There’s so much pain there.

And yet…guess where I am finding all the gems for my next book! Why on earth would I dwell in this place?

I did not set out to write another serious book. In fact, I intentionally began No Ordinary Girl to be a whimsical, funny, lighthearted look at a twenty-something girl hit by the recession who writes a book and falls in love with her writing professor only to get used by him. I will use the story line and some of the humor. But, it became clear to me that I was not being true to myself; I was not using my voice…I was the girl in junior high trying to fit in to another crowd, adapting, shifting, tuning in, wanting to mold myself and be someone other than me. I thought by 44 I’d have this figured out.

When I stopped writing for a good year due to some physical challenges, I reflected on the dis-ease I had about my new novel and some wonderful things happened. Out of Breath, my first novel, took off. I received reviews from fans who said lovely things, such as, “Can’t wait for more stories from this author.” I felt as though I would cheat them if I didn’t give them my authentic self. I am only me…that’s it; and what I learned through lots of pain and suffering over the past year is that in suffering, we are refined. What is important becomes very clear.

Juli, my main character in No Ordinary Girl, has so much to say. She has some pain that she’s endured. No, she didn’t lose a baby. No, she wasn’t abused. She’s a bit lost. She doesn’t know who she is. She hasn’t learned to love herself, so consequently, she hasn’t drawn anyone to love her. She’s also ashamed of her past. Not a wild past. Not a tainted past. But a past that isn’t mainstream…no American Idol, or hip-hop, and  idioms are foreign to her. Everything feels a bit off kilter when you’re American, raised in another country, then plunked down in rural, El Dorado County at twelve with no public transportation and you are friendless.

I love women’s fiction, both to read and write, because regardless of the story, I feel we all go on a journey of looking inward and finding our own “Juli” and seeing how she’s grown, how she’s been neglected, perhaps how she’s even stayed the same. It’s a bit like reading a self-help book without going to that section of the Kindle, bookstore, or library; we learn without intention. That, perhaps, is the beauty of literature: growth without intention.

I look forward to this journey together. If you have a particularly poignant memory of junior high that you wish to share, please feel free to post. We learn from one another, laugh, cry, stand a little taller, and then jump into the deep end as graceful as a swan.

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Finding our Rival

A couple of weeks ago, I squished between oodles of parents, opposite what is affectionately referred to as “the loud crowd” to watch my son play basketball against their school’s rival team. This is no ordinary game; these two schools act as though they hate one another. We are the hicks. They are the “money” school. If anyone believes we are making strides in political correctness, come to this game where the opposing school drops fake money to show that they have more and we, in turn, play up our “cowboy” by wearing flannel, cowboy boots, and hats. Our two schools are huge rivals and it kicks up unbridled enthusiasm.

As a former therapist, and one who has studied human behavior for most of my life, I had what I call “a third eye” approach to being a part of this. I participated in the excitement, listened to the “off color” cheers, and watched security guards and teachers as they hauled off students who took things too far. But, I also observed as a scientist. I wanted to tap into this excitement, rage, adrenalyn, and loyalty. At what point do we, as adults, lose this crazy level of intensity? I know some of you would say, “Well, look at some men on a Sunday afternoon watching sports…” Or perhaps we harness this into our jobs. Others channel this into our children. However, all of this energy caused me to beg the question, “What in MY life gets me THIS fired up?” I left the game with (no doubt) a headache, a hoarse voice, but more of a nagging, pondering thought.

As parents, it seems that we really do put every ounce of energy into these little beings. At first, it’s the: sleeping, crawling, spitting up, ‘oh my gosh, I can’t believe I haven’t slept in six months,’ phase. Then it moves to the toddling, messy, chasing, keeping busy, ‘is he/she really eating enough vegetables?’ stage. Then it’s school, projects, sports, friends, lessons, baking, cooking, and ‘sure you can have 10 of your best friends on a sleep over,’ phase. Finally, it’s the letting go. It’s: ‘You’re wearing what? What time will you be home? Who is that? I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that? Please don’t talk to me that way? You haven’t been home in days? I miss you! Don’t talk to me that way! Who are you?’ In some ways, it feels as though you’ve found your rival. The energy is KICKED UP!

But here’s what I’m thinking…at this stage, we need to find us again. What drives us. What makes us excited! What causes us to get pumped up. What makes us want to drop coins on a campus or wear a cowboy hat and kick up our heels. Some researchers say that this stage of life is a second adolescence for parents, because we are releasing our children and “finding ourselves” again. Who are we if we are not a “mommy” or “daddy?” Yes, I hear you, we will always be parents, but I mean the in the mix, down and dirty, making finger-paints and science projects mommy and daddy- got it?

This can be a time of tremendous anxiety mixed with relief, coupled with sadness, and a bit of joy. I would love to hear how those of you in the midst of this time are waking up to this new stage in life and finding what is driving you. As with everything, this stage, too, will pass and the rival hopefully will return home with open arms and thanksgiving, and most of all, those magic words: you were right!

So, did I answer my own question of what is driving me? Of what get me pumped up? I think so. (1)Writing, of course. I’m on page 180 of my new book, No Ordinary Girl! (2)Loving and rekindling my relationship with my husband of 23 years. (3)Tapping into my relationship with God. (4)Learning to move through my fears. These are just a few that I share.

Now, it’s your turn…

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Out of Breath has hit the shelves!

I know this is not a heartfelt post about my kids or a reflective sentiment about the new year…sorry…I must admit, there are many things tugging at my heart and I will allow them to percolate and then something will pour out and make sense from what is swirling inside.

However, I can’t tell you the thrill of seeing my dream come true: Out of Breath took my breath away. I know, it’s cheesy, but it was a moment…my book is in the store front window of a bookshop! Thank you Books N’ Bears of El Dorado!

The question is, where can you purchase Out of Breath?

In El Dorado County: Books N’ Bears, 6211 Pleasant Valley Road, #A, El Dorado (530) 621-1766

In Santa Cruz County: Crossroads Books, 1935 Main St., Watsonville,  (831) 728-4139

Book Shop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., (831) 423-0900

The Word Shop, 246-A Center, Aptos, (831) 688-6607

Coming soon: Capitola Book Cafe if I can get my act together!

On the Internet:


Thanks for letting me have this little happy dance of indulgence. Next stop for a book signing is Cozmic Cafe in Placerville on February 11th from 3:30-5:30; make it your girls (or guys) day out!

Blessings in 2012 and yes, I am blessed because of you…

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Silent Nights (and mornings)

Random fact about me: I don’t sleep well. This is the writer’s curse and blessing. Late nights= chances to catch up on emails, brainstorming on a chapter, edits, Tweets, Facebooking, marketing. Early mornings= the same. The curse: fatigue, exhaustion, sloppy writing, a headache at 2:00 in the afternoon.

But in this busy world of me, Susan, a parent and writer, where the world seems to not stand still inbetween sports, shopping, friends, a husband, cooking, cleaning, writing, editing, emailing, marketing, book-signing, Dr. visits, resting, refueling, exercising, power naps, late-night-chats with teens, and on and on, and on, I have come to know this: I must have that silence. A little in the night and a little in the morning.

In this morning of silence during the Christmas break as my two teens are wrapped snuggly in their beds, delighted that 7:00am has come and gone, my heart flutters recalling the joy of one of my BEST days: my book premiere of Out of Breath last week. It was really a giant love fest! My heart also attends to a family member who is here in the U.S. for only a short time once a year and our special relationship. When I handed her my finished copy, the REAL book, the delight in her eyes was that of a child’s on Christmas morning. Magical…

Attending in this quiet moment, bubbling up is the memory of our family engaged in really solid laughter as we played the Wii. Yes, the laughter was mostly at my expense, but it broke tension, stagnation, and that laughter made music in my soul.

When I tune in and listen to where my heart is drawn, it is to this miraculous time of year: of grace, of transformation, of renewal, of hope. I’m not one to declare resolutions, although I could list a dozen! But I do want to challenge myself to this: allow more quiet. More still moments of reflection. This is what allowed me to write Out of Breath…the silent mornings, the silent nights, and all the pensive, uncluttered moments in between. It’s time I finish book two that’s so neglected. It’s going to take a whole lot of silence.

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Christmas Meditations

Did you know that there are 385 things pulling at your attention during the holiday season according to a poll that I made up inside my head? But seriously, doesn’t it feel that way? Let’s run down a few of the 385 things to do:

1. Put up Christmas lights around the house (unless, that is, you have an extra $300.00 to hire someone.)

2. Take family trip to mountains, cut down tree, and remain happy entire day!

3. Decorate said tree and again, remain happy, cheerful, with little to no bickering or sibling disagreements about ornament placement :)

4. Attend office Christmas parties that you don’t really want to go and tolerate small talk and painful shoes.

5. Shopping…this is better left unsaid. Seriously, I may be in the 1% of women who HATE shopping!

6. Bake homemade treats for neighbors, teachers, coaches, and friends who gush over how much they love, i.e. expect, your yearly baked sugar cookies, brownies, and fudge, then curse yourself for all of the bites you took along the way during baking because now your new skinny jeans are WAY too skinny.

7. Pick out the least obnoxious, flattering family photo for Christmas card that (a) shows your daughter’s perfect hair, (b) exemplifies your son’s stunning new muscles, (c) hides your @%&$ ten pounds that followed last year’s hysterectomy, and (d) doesn’t highlight your hubbies thinning hairline.

8. Collapse onto the couch and gaze at the tree with all of the glorious packages underneath, sighing, “What is this all for?”

What?! Not two more? Come on, I’m not David Letterman.

However, I was struck by how my pastor and I were on the same wave length today. Every year I struggle to hold the commercialism of Christmas in one hand balanced with what I feel to be the spiritual true meaning (Christ’s birth) in the other. (Hang in there, I’m not going to preach…this is relevant for any faith!) It’s very, very tricky, because while MOST of my list above is made up, I actually LOVE all the glitz, lights, parties, tree-trimming, caroling, etc. AND, I hate excessive spending and incredible stress it produces. So what do I do to make it different? Spend less? Yes. Attend fewer parties? Sometimes. But today my pastor’s message felt as though it could’ve been one of those universal life lessons for anyone, regardless of their faith, during the holidays. What did he tell us to do: meditate. Not in the traditional sense either, thank God (no pun intended there), but in a way that feels so natural for me that I literally let out an audible, “Phew.”

Let me back up. There is an incredible children’s book by Paul Showers that my children and I read and practiced over the years titled The Listening Walk. The story takes you through an individual’s walk and has you, the reader, attune to the sounds on the walk; grass getting mowed, a jet plane flying overhead, flip-flops slapping the sidewalk. Then, the author encourages the parent and child to take a listening walk together and listen. This is what I would call an external listening walk.

Today, my pastor was referring to an internal listening walk. He encouraged us to meditate on a walk and listen to what was going on inside; the things that get shut out when we’re rushing from party to party, decorating the tree, baking cookies, shopping for the greatest deals at Best Buy, and hoping our Christmas cards from Costco will be perfect for our 150 best friends and family members. Because what I notice about me, if I’m totally honest, is that I’m like a pot of water during the holidays that goes from cool to tepid to warm to warmer, to hot to boiling. There are things I am ignoring and here are just a few that Mike asked us to attend on our listening walk:

Where is anger seeping in in my life?

Where is time pulling me?

Where am I dissatisfied?

What character quality is God trying to build into me?

What themes keep occurring over and over and over?

And that last question was the one that hit me over the head. The theme that keeps coming up for me again and again is this: let go. That’s right. Let go.

Let go to my agenda. Let go to wanting to control. Let go to wanting my teenagers to stay little. Let go to wanting them to decorate the tree ( I know…doesn’t that suck that they don’t want to decorate the tree!!! Who wants to lend me a 5-year -old?) Let go to needing everything to be perfect at my book premiere. Let go to believing that I can protect my kids from failure. Let go of my fear about my health. Let go.

Tonight, the Christmas tree is lit, but remains un-decorated. As soon as this post is up, I’m going to put together the manger scene and then sit on the couch and admire the tree, just as it is, all aglow…


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My Own Lesson in Gratitude

Blog Tour de Force is officially over. When I was invited to this amazing, charitable blog-hop by Teri Giuliani Long, author of In Leah’s Wake, I had NO idea what I was getting into. 14 hours at the computer on day one: what?! Typing, retyping, answering comment after comment. My arms set afire from typing. 12 hours in, I sent emails without the attached copy of Out of Breath. I sent wrong files. Sometimes there wasn’t even time to take breaks to go to the bathroom or I’d get behind in my responses. Did I even remember my own blog post? Gratitude? Suffering? True discomfort. Well, I got reminders…

I don’t know if you have time, but if you do, take time to read some of these heartfelt and personal responses that people wrote. Wow, wow, wow. Stories of loss. Stories of grief. Of a husband who serves in the Air Force. A father who contracted cancer because he served our country; protected us. Tales of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after returning home; of nightmares from seeing horror, death, unspeakable things. And I was complaining about sore fingers and discomfort of a full bladder? There were readers who wished to donate their own copy of Out of Breath so that a soldier could have it (by the way, I gave them a copy anyway because I can do that :) ) And I loved the thanks and personal comments regarding my dad’s interview and how he served our country. I’m so proud of my readers! And I have faith in people…always, always, no matter what is in the news.

But the best story out of all of this, the one that comes full circle, is how I got closer to my step-dad (Dad) through all of this. You have to know a little about him. He has a computer, but it’s for solitaire. He has an iPhone, but regularly goes to the AT&T store to have the “cute gals”, as he calls them, teach him about his phone. Hey, I’m not much better, truth be told! He’s the generation that doesn’t manage a Facebook and Twitter account and he’s probably much more relaxed because of it. The down side was that he couldn’t read my blog. In fact, he didn’t know what a blog was. I tried to explain how to open Google on his iPhone and enter my website and type in my address and click on…okay, you can only imagine. Head explosion sounds inserted. So the day went by and all these great comments were being posted in response to my dad’s interview and all of a sudden, I looked up and saw his email address as my next comment to address.

Here’s what my father did: he drove to the AT&T store and asked the “Cute Gals” to open up my blog on his phone and together they read my blog entry, read the interview about him, and they helped him write a comment back to me. And here are the words I will cherish forever, “I’m proud of you.”

This may have been a benefit for the troops and perhaps this was a wonderful bit of publicity for my novel Out of Breath, but let’s face it, no matter how hold we are, there’s nothing quite as satisfying in life as hearing our parent say, “I’m proud of you.”

To all of you who participated, I want to thank you. You made this an amazing experience. Thanks, Teri, for introducing it to me. Thank you family for letting me neglect everything and sometimes even you. And thank you, Dad, for going, literally, out of your way. I love you.


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Neglecting My Babies

I went away this past weekend for some R&R, writing inspiration, and marketing for my book, Out of Breath I returned in time to photograph my teen son on his way to his homecoming dance: handsome, a man on the outside, but still evident that he’s a boy around the edges.

My tired body finally draped across the couch where I caught up with family, the dog, and Facebook messages. A message from a friend stung me like a wet towel across the back of my thighs: “Thinking of you and all of your new-found success! Is this beautiful weather inspiring you?”

Now…this should not hurt. She had complemented me on my new-found success. She was sending me loving thoughts. She took time out of her busy day to say she was thinking of me. BUT…this nameless friend (and you know who you are) is also wise, and bright, and intuitive…and she knows that I have not been writing very much lately. Hmm..isn’t that odd? The very thing that I set out to do; the career that I dreamed of; the one thing that fed my soul was keenly absent from my life. Where did it go?
I’ll tell you where it “go.”

There are a lot of things that compete for a writer’s “quality time.” I long for the days when I sat at my desk, creating the plot of Out of Breath, creating the tension between Alyssa and Greg, wondering if Seth would really be able to keep his sobriety through his baby’s death. I’d boil another cup of tea, long for a rainy day. It was bliss.

Now, here are my days: Tweet. Check my Facebook page. Socialize. Market. Work on a contest for book. Meet with my paid assistant (okay, technically he’s not really my assistant, but he let’s me call him that, so…) Network with other writers. Read books, critique them, and network with those authors. Blog. Attend writing conferences. ReTweet. Update Facebook. Check email. Enter contests. Add new post to my Blog.
What was my friend’s question?

This is why her question made me cry. It was like a really good sermon. I want to repent. Which is why, today, Monday, I am WRITING and I am setting up a calendar with days set aside for certain things, one of which is actual writing! Isn’t that ridiculous?

Given that I am in the later stages of parenting, I can look back and say, “Wow…this is like parenting.” So many things competing for our attention. There were many days that I said to myself, “Today, I will devote myself wholly to the kids…no chores.” But then there was laundry; and dishes; and SO MUCH CRAP everywhere that needed to be picked up. We did play. A LOT! And finger-paint. And color. And have puppet shows. But the house was a mess. And dinner was going to be late. But when I chose that over them, I had this nagging guilt that I was neglecting my babies. I had to learn to let stuff go because they were going to grow up and the dust was still going to be there. I’m so glad I had my children when I did, because if I had the distraction of texting and Facebook, and all that technology, I’m afraid that I wouldn’t be present. It’s so hard for me to be present; it really is. Ask my husband!

In my practicum class where we saw clients at the university clinic in graduate school, we had to first sit for thirty minutes…let me repeat that, THIRTY MINUTES, in silence, listening to the rise and fall of our breath, so that we would be present for our clients. It was probably the only time in my life that I was truly and fully present. Here’s what I know when I sit at my favorite spot in my house (my office), and I’m back where I was three years ago, dreaming up my first book, inventing my characters, their nuances, their idiosyncrasies, their childhood dreams that shaped their present day interactions, and I become present: I am neglecting a lot. Sometimes it’s my writing. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it is being present with my family. And in being transparent with you, my audience, I encourage you to take a personal ride with me and ask yourself this:

Is this beautiful weather inspiring you?

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Change is in the Air

It is officially fall. Oak leaves are drifting down onto my driveway, and creating a natural cover across my pool. I witnessed the first turn of a leaf from green to a hue of yellow. I do love fall. But this is not the change of which I speak. Rather, there is a change that is happening in my family. One I prayed for. Perhaps you’ve prayed for it, too. It’s the change between my children as they relate to one another as siblings.

Many of you who read this blog know us, know our family, and may be thinking, “Come on, your kids have always played together and gotten on amazingly well ESPECIALLY since one is a boy and one is a girl.” And, you would be right. But long ago, I prayed for something very special; something that I’m not even sure that my teen kids are aware. When they were just toddlers and they would delight one another with dressing up in high-heeled shoes, wigs, their grandmother’s dresses, and old Halloween costumes; when my son would build the perfect Lincoln Log house and then my daughter would knock it down and screams and tears would fill the hallways; when their tanned school-aged bodies would shrivel up like prunes from hours in the pool and their laughter could be heard blocks away; and when my son hit middle school and my daughter felt like she’d lost her best friend…these were all chapters called “The Salluce Kids-The Early Years.” And as much as I’d like to believe I understood and understand the sibling relationship completely, I don’t. We don’t, do we Mom and Dad? Because here’s what continues to perplex/confuse/drive me crazy…one minute they were laughing, the next they were screaming, the next crying, then they were vowing to never, I repeat NEVER talk to/play with/ one another again, and an hour later, they were giggling their heads off. But I, the screaming Mimi-Mother was still mad, sad, wanting to negotiate the terrorist children and was in need of a nap, a drink or both! What made this worse for me is that I am an only child, so, hello, I didn’t get the memo that their behavior was normal.

But as I said, change is in the air in our family. If you are new to my blog, then I’ll catch you up on a bit of my history (if you are not new, you can read along anyway :)): I have been battling with the complications of shingles since May. The newest diagnosis is called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Why do I mention this? Well, when Mom gets sick, everyone gets sick, right? My illness came at an interesting time. In fact, I’d say, I couldn’t have timed it better. My son got his driver’s license shortly after I got really bad. Because California has a provisional license for 16-year-old drivers, my Dr. issued my son a note allowing him to pick up my daughter when I’m having bad days. This school year, that has translated to most days. Now, I’m a half-full gal, remember? Just back up about 8 or so blog entries! I have proof! What has happened over the course of Mom not being available is a new chapter in the relationship of the sibling relationship of the Salluce kids.

The first day my son picked up my daughter, I watched the clock, sure that a big rig had run them off into a ditch or that a head on collision occurred on the two-lane road that connects the freeway to our house. Every minute that ticked by past the 12 minutes that they should have been home got me more “nutted” up. When they walked in FINALLY, TWENTY minutes late, I jumped up, ready to shout, “Where in God’s name where you?!” but saw that they each had Slurpy cups in hand. “He took me out for an Icee,” my daughter said non-nonchalantly. My son shrugged. My mouth parted, but words failed me. I offered him money, but he shushed it away. He’d become my Uncle Leo straight out of Seinfeld.

I thought this would be a one time thing; a novelty to help deal with Mom’s illness…a nicety from big brother to his little sister. It is not a one time thing. It is a daily occurrence; a ritual. A lovely, don’t get in my way; don’t you dare interfere; “What…you are going to pick her up?! But, I pick her up now!!” ritual that has permanently and radically changed the shape and dimension of their sibling relationship. And I know that it goes beyond ice cream and Icees…these are kids that were taught emotional identification and shown feelings charts when other kids were trading Pokemon cards. What can I say…I think it paid off. They talk, they eat ice cream, let’s face it…they’ve formed their own support group!

I’m not dying. I am in pain and life is unpredictable. And this is frightening for everyone. This is a weird time for our family. But this change in my kids, it is as beautiful as walking outside on an early fall morning and seeing the first green leaf with a blush of red or yellow. Sometimes that beauty hurts; it takes my breath away…kind of like watching those toddlers, or those tweens, but especially my teens…oh my teens…when they love each other that way, well, it truly does take my breath away. I guess this is one of those times in life for me where I really do get to stand back and let go. My prayers have been answered.

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What I’ve Learned About Me; Oh…And Out of Breath is Out!

Out of Breath is out! I should be screaming from the rooftops, right? I did some celebrating, don’t get me wrong, and I will get to that. Now, I am nothing if not transparent. You can take the girl out of the counseling field, but you can’t take the counseling field out of the girl, so to speak. And so, all of my neurosis have shown up as I’ve gone through the process of writing, editing, and finally, publishing a book. I’ve been reassured by those on the “other side” (published authors), that I am not alone; that they, too, nearly went berserk/gained weight/lost weight/blew a fuse/snapped at those around them/considered giving up.

So what happened? you might be asking. Well, let me back up a bit.

How I found out that my book “came out”/ was available for sale was actually quite odd and amazing. I couldn’t have planned it better. I’d heard from my book server that the scheduled day for the Kindle and iPad was around Friday, September 1st (the Nook and Reader will be later…sorry) Let me tell you what that day looked like: Eat. Check Amazon to see if my book was up. Go on Facebook. Check Amazon. Read, answer an email, check Amazon. Cry. Pull at my hair. Pack for Labor Day Weekend. Check my Kindle. Pound down the hallway. Nothing…FOR EIGHT HOURS! Finally, I gave up, sent out some fluffy little announcement that sounded all full of peace, love, and harmony on Facebook as though I meditate all day and am filled with love and light…calm, serenity now. Right!

So…we headed for the coast and traffic was a disaster. To mitigate any further souring of the day, we stopped by my in-laws to have dinner, relax, wait for traffic to pass. Once fed, relaxed, etc., my husband told me I needed to call a certain friend right away. I told him I’d get to it later. He kept insisting. I was irritated. Finally, I did. On the other line, my friend said, “Susan, I just bought your book!”

Three things I felt: 1. Awe  2. Disbelief  3. Thankfulness that I was surrounded by my family.

I had just said to my daughter days before, “You know what’s sad? I’ll probably be alone when I have my big moment.” Hah!

I promptly pulled out my Kindle at there it was: Out of Breath, by Susan Salluce. I got to share the moment with my family. Thanks, God!

And then…and then I read it. Can I just tell you what authors do…we are brutal to ourselves. We see things no one else sees. The errors. The glitches. Some of you have seen my post on Facebook urging you to wait to buy the book until next week. Others of you already bought it and are asking, “What are you talking about?!” Even my server, editor, and writing partner are telling me to chill out. But here’s the truth: I’m a perfectionist and I see some imperfections and I rained on my own parade a little. Now, by next Monday, all those little errors will disappear, but I’ll remember that my moment got tarnished by my need to be perfect. Shame on me…

I did celebrate. I got a special cake from Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola. I told them what it was for and that they are mentioned in my book. They even did something extra special for me because of that: yeah, Bakery! I took a special photo with my Kindle and the cake. And then some amazing “coincidences” happened. I ran into folks in Santa Cruz who I haven’t seen in years. You see, God has this way of taking things back into his hands when I take them into mine, reminding me that He’s in control and that I can stop making a mess.

Today I began my post-publishing resolutions. Those of you who write know what I mean; the things we let go. I exercised. Hand writing personal notes to friends. I’m eating healthier. Today, I’m making a big vat (okay…a pot), of brown rice. I need to feed myself in so many ways. I need to show my kids that achieving our goals is fun, not just work. I believe the fun IS beginning and I have so many author signings lined up to show for it!

As I wind this post down, I look forward to you buying Out of Breath in whatever form it is, whether you get it this week or next week. Please write a little review on Amazon. Then tell a friend, particularly if this friend has been touched by grief. This is my truth, this was my original purpose, that I would touch someone and that someone would read my book and say, “Wow…this is what I feel. I am understood.”

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