My First Children’s Book Launches Nov. 25th on Kindle!


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Years ago, I really resisted doing the chores of daily life, like paying bills and doing laundry. My therapist suggested that I explore doing tasks because I care about myself and my life, so I tried. The first month that I paid all my bills on time, she said, “Good job, Terry. Give yourself a gold star!” What a concept!

I wanted to share this idea of “care first then act” with my three young granddaughters, whom I missed dearly after moving to DC. Using plain heavy paper, I developed a two-Way Postal Cards so my granddaughters could share what they had done because they cared, give themselves gold stars and write to me so I could be proud too. I loved getting and sending the cards!

When I told friends about the cards, and the “care first then act” process that I called “GoldStar Magic,” they said that this was a great idea and that I should share it with other families. So with the inspiration of Annie Campbell’s delightful artwork, I wrote and self-published the story of NoraLee Johnson who learns the magic of caring first  when she visits Planet Ifwee. And I developed the Family Pen-Pal Kit to go with it.

I wanted millions of families to be inspired by NoraLee’s story to  to tell your children about the magic of caring first.  And now you can because today is the official launch on Amazon Kindle of NoraLee’s Adventures on Planet Ifwee!

The story is written in rhyme for children ages 4-8 (though I’ve read it to little ones as young as 3 and as old as 9, and they’ve loved it!) NoraLee is a little girl who hates doing her chores, misses her grandparents and gets invited to take a voyage to Planet Ifwee where she learns from her new friends about GoldStar Magic!

The book is available in both eBook and paperback editions

in the Amazon Store HERE.

And here’s the really great news! The eBook is available for FREE (yes, that’s right!) for 5 days – TODAY  through TUESDAY (and then it bumps up to its retail price of $1.99). So don’t delay. Download it immediately while it’s FREE – and share the news with your family and friends!

Furthermore, with every ebook purchase, you’ll receive a link to a FREE mp3 recording of The Ifwee Song, produced by Jan Nigro and the Vitamin L Chidren’s chorus. Kids of all ages LOVE this song! Wahoo! (The link is on page 1).

NOW, HERE’S WHERE I NEED YOUR HELP:

My goal is to make this an Amazon Bestseller, which would support the possibility of expanding this into a series. I’ll be writing with my sister Clare who is a licensed therapist, and our goal is to have NoraLee enjoy many adventures that help her build resilience, self esteem and the ability to connect with others. Two things contribute to this … (1) Number of Reviews, and (2) Sales.

Would you be willing WITHIN THE NEXT WEEK to leave an honest review on Amazon? My original goal for the book was to have more than 100 reviews within the next week, but I’m hoping we blow that goal right out of the water. With it being FREE for 5 days and with your help spreading the word, I know we can do it!

And it’s really quick and easy to leave a review on Amazon, because (1) Amazon makes it easy, and (2) your review doesn’t have to be long. It can be as short as a sentence or two. And when you give your review, don’t mention anything about me; just write what you thought about the book.

Furthermore, I’ll likely be pulling lines from reviews to use in the book’s description (“Here’s what readers are saying about this book …”). So if you’re creative with words, bring it!

Once you see the digital version, I’m hoping you’re going to want a physical copy. For 15 years, I’ve been sharing NoraLee’s story with small groups of families, and now through the miracle of the internet and ebooks, I’m thrilled to be able to reach so many more. Would you be willing to consider purchasing a physical copy of the book, and also consider purchasing a second copy to bless someone else?

IN REVIEW – I’m asking for your help with three actions:

1. Download the FREE eBook now, and please leave an honest Amazon Review as soon as you’re able.

2. Consider purchasing a physical copy for you and for someone else.

3. Share the news on social media and with your friends and family (especially while the eBook is FREE).  #noraleestory

MOST IMPORTANTLY … I hope that you enjoy NoraLee’s story and believe that it will help the children you love build their own self-esteem and capacity to care, while enjoying the story. This is why I wrote the book, to share the blessing of what I’ve learned with all of you.

Again, the book is available in both eBook and Paperback editions

 in the Amazon Store HERE.

Thank You, Blessings and Enjoy!

Terry

P.S. The eBook can be read with the Free Kindle App on any smartphone or tablet (available in the App Store connected to your device). It can also be read on any computer with the Free Kindle App (for Mac’s, download HERE;  for PC’s, download HERE.

CLICK HERE TO GET NoraLee’s Adventures on Planet Ifwee

How do they do it, day after day?

As some of you know, I made a decision last spring to give up my apartment and begin house/kitty sitting to minimize my expenses while I grow my speaking/writing/acting career. My career was growing(I’m a paid actor after all!)…just not fast enough to cover all my expenses, including the debt from my business school experience. My part-time job was helping, but still not enough. And darn it, if I’m going to be working pretty much until the day I pass (Ex-nun, left-over hippies often didn’t think of planning for retirement!) it’s going to be doing what I feel called to do, what makes me feel most alive!

Street Sense Health Forum Volunteer Committee

Street Sense Health Forum Volunteer Committee

At the time of my decision, I did not realize that I was choosing to be, in effect, “homeless” for a while. I’m a volunteer for Street Sense, the street  newspaper, written and sold by folks who are trying to pull themselves out of homelessness through entrepreneurship. I’ve read and heard some of their stories, and I realize that my experience of homelessness is the very “cushiest” version.  I do have a permanent address, as housemate with a friend from my previous building, though I live “out” at my house sitting assignments. And I was blessed to keep my storage units in the building, which allowed me to keep certain items I hope to use again, as well as my props for the Bessie performances, and the stock of my children’s book.

But I have packed up my bags and moved nearly a dozen times during these past six months. And a week ago, I realized that I did not know where I was going to live after this last gig, ending on October 18. I began to feel some anxiety as I posted all my notices about my house/kitty sitting service.  Suddenly it hit me…this is a pretty stressful way to live!

Each time I have to pick up my stuff and move on, I experience a sort of disorientation, a disruption in the flow of my life. It shows up in the every day things. It’s harder to begin my work again. Did I remember to pay that parking ticket? Where is my mail folder of papers I need to attend to? Where did I put that bath soap? Did I remember to take my jacket out of storage?

Then I began to think about those brave folks I meet at Street Sense. They, and the rest of our homeless population, (close to 7,000 in DC alone) face this disorientation every day, along with such basic concerns as where will I eat, where will I shower and use the bathroom? How can I get cleaned up for work? How will I feed my kids? What do I do if I get sick?

If my relatively safe and easy “homelessness” can be a source of stress for me, how much more so is it for them? What does it take just to wake up and face another day?  How in the world do they do it? And what would happen if everyone who is blessed with the basics of food, clothing and shelter decided that they had to do something about this?

I know it can be disconcerting to be approached on the street by someone asking for money. And it’s very easy to lump everyone together, and dismiss them with the thought, “How do I know they’re not just going to go buy drugs or booze?” Or to think “this problem is so big; what in the world can I do?”

But now that I’ve experienced just this tiny glimpse of how being homeless disrupts the very foundation of what’s needed to live productive, happy lives, I feel the need to encourage those of us who are blessed with the basics to ask, What can I do?

Here are two suggestions: 1) What ever is your version of prayer or affirmation, take a moment to acknowledge that we are all children of the Universe, and hold a thought of blessing for our homeless brothers and sisters. 2) Look for the Street Sense Vendors in your neighborhood and buy the paper when it comes out every two weeks. You’ll read stories you won’t find anywhere else, including first hand accounts of life on the street, both in prose and poetry. And you’ll be helping to support the vendors, who are a part of the Street Sense community and follow a code of ethics in their dealings. You will be glad you did!

Meanwhile, I’m going to try to get a little better organized so it’s a bit easier to pack up and get ready for my next move!

Much love and many blessings,

TerrySig2

What can we do when it’s NOT “all good”?

Have you heard the phrase, “It’s all good” when someone describes a tough situation? Even my beloved teacher Abraham-Hicks will often make that comment as part of a lesson, and I’ve found myself thinking, HOw can you say that? How can executions and genocide and destruction and even white collar crimes be “all good”?

I’ve written before about how it’s not only ok, but essential to find our own happiness no matter what is going on around us.  But that’s different from saying that a terrible situation is “all good.” Well this past week I went through an experience with my sisters, both of whom live far from me, that reminded me of another way to look at tough situations…an alternative to “it’s all good,” that I want to share with  you.

Mom and three sisters

Mom and three sisters

Clare and Loraine came by bus from Ithaca and New York City because my mother, who is 97 and suffers from Alzheimer’s, has just been entered into hospice care in her nursing home in Largo, MD, where I visit her weekly. She will most likely be with us for a while longer, but my sisters wanted to be sure they spent some time with her as soon as possible. When they got off the China Town bus and were getting their luggage, my youngest sister, Loraine, was approached by a man asking if she wanted help. She said, “No, thank you,” and when he insisted, she answered “No” more firmly, so he left. A few minutes later, as we were all standing in Starbucks after ordering a restorative frappuccino, Loraine realized that her wallet was missing! Her cash, her ID’s her return ticket, her medical insurance and ATM and debit cards…all gone! (We knew for sure it happened in DC, because an hour later, she got a call from her bank that someone tried to buy gas with her card in Logan Circle.)

Loraine was all at once furious, frightened and frustrated, as she realized her losses and what it would take to get everything restored. My other sister Clare and I were initially also quite upset as we contemplated what this would mean for the few precious days the three of us had together for this visit with my mom.  We tried to help her to calm down and begin to make the calls she needed to make. I was not at all tempted to say, “It’s all good.” (Loraine might have found it necessary to bop me one good if I tried!) But I did remember an alternative that I learned (and have had to re-learn many times over!) from my favorite Unity minister, George Stone, who, in his eighties, is still touring the country, sharing his wisdom. George says with great enthusiasm, “I can’t wait to see what good will come from this situation!”

I learned about George’s approach from a neighbor of his, a friend of mine who attends my Unity church. One day, George was home with his children, and his son had an accident and began bleeding profusely from his head. George ran next door to my friend, carrying his son, and dropping off the other children for my friend to watch over. As he was leaving, he called out, “I can’t wait to see what good will come from this situation! He was open to the many blessings that did come from his son’s accident and recovery. When I first heard that story, I decided that I wanted to bring that energy to any tough situations that I had to face. When I can remember, it is so much more doable for me than claiming, “All is good.”

So along with Clare (who is also a student of a spiritual approach to life) I did my best to bring the energy of that thought to the resolving of the pick-pocketing of my sister’s wallet.  I was able to say to Loraine, “THis sucks! I’m so sorry it happened. And I can’t wait to see what good will come as we work through it.” She was willing to hear that, and by the end of making the police report and phone calls and figuring out about replacing the cash (all three of us are still at the early stages of welcoming abundance into our lives!) we realized what the good was: for the first time in many years of living hundreds of miles apart, the three of us worked together to solve a big problem. Clare and I were supportive and patient, and Loraine slowly began to “trust the process.” For example, she didn’t quite believe the officer that if she just showed the police report to the bus company, they would replace her return ticket and she wouldn’t be out the $23. But the young man at the tiny desk in the below-ground office smiled his regret for her loss, and wrote up the bus pass with no resistance at all! And twice I heard her say on the phone, “My sisters really came through for me.”

The next few months are going to be a challenge for me. I’m still the only sister who lives nearby Mom’s nursing home, and I’m still the primary family member for all the care that Mom continues to need. But now I feel much closer to my sisters, much more connected, and much less alone on this journey of my Mom’s transition. And I can’t wait to see what other good will come from this situation!

Much love and many blessings!

TerrySig2

Happiness – a luxury or a necessity?

Hello, dear ones,

Last Saturday I attended playwright Mary Stone Hanley’s The Name Game, a play that uses

Four women artists share the joy!

Four women artists share the joy!

comedy, spoken word, dance, and a touch of fantasy to pose the core questions of who are we and why are we here.

After the show I had the great pleasure of chatting with Mary, as well as my dear friends,  playwriting teacher and mentor Laura Zam, and painter/graphic artist Patrise Henkel. Don’t’ we look happy?! We were celebrating the success of a sister artist, and sharing in her happiness.

I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately, especially as I continue my journey of healing my depression. But I’ve also been troubled lately by all the terrible events happening right now, hurting people all over the world: from the downed Malaysian airliner crushing the lives of passengers, crew, and people in the villages where it came down; unaccompanied children crossing our boarders, looking for refuge; civilians being killed in Gaza and Israel.

How can I be caring about my own happiness when there is so much suffering in the world? Isn’t that just being frivolous? Do you recognize some leftover _____ guilt? (fill in the blank, mine happens to be Catholic!)

Well here’s what I’m learning. I don’t do anyone any good when I’m not happy Happiness is an essential element of well-being, which Dictionary.com defines as “a good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity.”

The traditional view is “Do, have, be.”  Do certain things so you can have certain things so you can be happy. But many of the newer spiritual teachers have turned that around to “Be, do, have.”  Be connected to your higher self, your Source, your inner happiness, so that you will be inspired to do certain things from that source, and then you will many things to enjoy.”  

Revered African American civil rights leader, philosopher, teacher Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I think “coming alive” is akin to “being happy.”

And Thomas Jefferson declared that “the pursuit of happiness” was as unalienable a right as life and liberty. (BTW, the rest of the committee did not change that phrase, even as other edits were made before agreeing on the final Declaration of Independence.)

So I’m grateful that I got to spend time with three other women artists and share in the happiness of Mary Stone Hanley. I’m actively seeking moments of happiness, ones that come from getting to know more and more who I am from deep within, and often sharing that with like-minded people. And I invite you to explore what some of those moments might be for you!

Love and blessings,

TerrySig2

The Wrong Way to Make a Right Turn on Red

Greetings, dear ones!

I’ve been talking a lot about pausing and being in the present moment in these messages, usually based on some internal experience I’ve had, and always related in some way to speaking out our truth. The story of this pause is a little different. It’s a potentially life-saving pause for any of us who are moving between one and two tons of metal around our communities at varying speeds, that is, driving. Here’s what happened.

One night last week, I was driving home in the torrential rain, exhausted and longing for my warm bed. I was about to make a right turn on red from 2nd Street onto Independence Ave.

I was looking to the left, to see if any car was coming, and as I was looking to the left, my car was moving – slowly, but moving – to the right. Notice I said, “my car was moving.” Not “I was driving my car to the right without looking.”

Seeing that no one was coming from the left, I started to pick up speed to complete the turn. As I turned my head to the right, in a split second, I saw..what the…?! Not even a whole person…just a torso with a back pack, soaking wet, banging the hood of my car with their (his/her?) hands as I jammed on the brakes.

My heart and breath stopped short with my car. I watched my near-victim continue to cross Independence, and then, my mind tormented by possibilities, I started to breathe again as I continued to drive home.

I could have killed, or at least badly injured that person. I need to make sure that possibility never happens again.

So that’s where the pause comes in. I’ve been paying attention, and I noticed that when I’m making a right turn on red, it is automatic for me to roll forward at an angle as I scope out whether cars are coming from the left. Otherwise, I can’t always see around the parked cars. But I’m looking to the left as I roll forward, so I don’t see what’s happening to my right…where the car is going. It’s scary and dangerous, and I’ve been doing it for years!

Now I’m committed to pausing before I make a right turn on red, and paying attention to both left and right as I move forward. It sounds so “duh,” but it’s hard!

Why am I telling you this? Because I suspect I’m not the only one who is unaware of creating this danger. Here’s what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, (“a U.S. non-profit organization funded by auto insurers…to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes.” WikipediA.) has to say: “Studies conducted after states first adopted right-turn-on-red laws found that allowing right turns on red increased pedestrian and bicyclist collisions at intersections by 43-123 percent…and 93 percent of these crashes resulted in injuries to the pedestrians and bicyclists. Click here for links to the studies.

My invitation to you: take a moment the next time you’re making a right turn on red, (or turning on the radio, or answering a phone call!) to pause and be sure that you are paying attention to the whole scene around you. It’s the Pause that could save a life.

Much love and many blessings,
TerrySig2

The P.A.W.S that Refreshes

Hello dear ones,

Today I received a great gift from the handsome duck in this photo, and I’d like to share it with you. Image

In many of my newsletter articles, you’ve heard me refer to “Pause, Refuse, Choose” as my 3-step foundation for dealing with a variety of challenges, including fear.

  1. Pause in the moment;
  2. Refuse to go down the automatic path of reaction;
  3. Choose a more skillful, helpful way to respond.

Well, for me, “Pause” has always been the most challenging step. I’m usually quite ready to rush right through intense emotion, and, often, on to less-than helpful-action.

Today’s gift will help with that. Here’s what happened.

For the second day in a row, I was taking what I sincerely hope is my regular early-morning walk along the Washington Channel. (Yeah, yeah, I know, I’ve tried this before but I’ll never give up!!!)

It was 7 AM, and after 20 minutes of vigorous motion (that’s what “they” say is enough to experience the benefits) I was resting with my Safeway breakfast sandwich, mulling over the life-lessons of my week, and wondering which one I wanted to share with you in today’s blog.

I looked up and noticed how the leafy green trees and clear blue sky  softened the concrete walkway. I felt the gentle, cooler (yay!) breeze and smelled the clear air. And I thought, Thank you, Universe, for this lovely bit of Mother Nature’s beauty in the midst of my city.

Then I looked out a little further, and saw this iridescent duck, all by himself (it’s the males that are all colorful and gorgeous, right?) and I felt this urge to share the 1/2 of the focaccia roll that, in a moment of somewhat surprisingly easy choice,  I had decided to toss.  

So for just a few, peaceful moments, I broke the 1/2 roll into what I hoped were duck-bite-sized pieces, fought back an old tickling in the back of my  brain about how white bread, even fabulous Italian white bread, might not be good for birds, and just enjoyed my sweet connection with this handsome creature. I felt a little smile come through, and took out my phone to help me save this moment.

And then I realized, this was a “Pause” moment – I was practicing my most difficult step – Pause – without having any particular challenge or crisis to manage. I was refreshing my self, my energy. And I was having a very enjoyable time!

In my somewhat compulsive search for an acronym to summarize my experience, it came to me that  “PAWS” can help me to practice Pausing.  P.A.W.S – Pause Action; Waken Senses.

Stop doing, step into nature if I can, and allow as many as possible of my senses: seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching, to get me back into my body. Then when I really need to “Pause,” to help me respond rather than react to one of life’s many challenges, my “Pause” muscle will have gotten quite a bit stronger. And as a bonus, you never know what delightful creature might decide to join you!

Much love and many blessings,
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