Podcast on the Curiosity Hour

A huge thank you to Dan Sterenchuk and Tommy Estlund for the invitation to join them for a podcast on the Curiosity Hour.

Unless you come to hear me speak, you only know me through the words I type on Facebook, on this blog, on Pinterest, Goodreads, and comments on Amazon. Here’s a chance to hear my voice.

 

I love to talk about our story, mental illness, and my faith. I speak with libraries, organizations, churches, and book clubs.

Contact me to schedule an event.

virginiapillars@gmail.com

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Why? I don’t know, but, woot! woot!

Wow, what a surprise I had today!

Every once in a while, I check different sites for my book. Since many readers go to Amazon to post reviews, I frequent it. (Thank you to all who have posted reviews!)

I just checked and Amazon put my book on sale for the lowest price I’ve seen. Today Amazon offered it for $8.90! That’s less than half-price! Broken Brain, Fortified Faith.

I’m not sure why, but I love it! I know that readers can benefit from this. So, feel free to share the link or buy the book and give it to anyone who you think may want to learn how one family coped with mental illness. Recovery can happen. It was hard, but oh, so worth it!

Thank you, Amazon!

 

Gifts …

In the past twelve hours, I’ve received gifts that didn’t wait for later in the month.  These gifts lifted my spirit.

There were so welcome after the past of days of my melancholy attitude. It started with a a phone call that left me disappointed in someone, and then morphed into a giant of oppressing sadness. I couldn’t shake the “poor me” thoughts that pounded at me.

Until the gifts from yesterday…

First, I spent some of the afternoon with people, which always lifts my mood. Yes, I’m an EXTRAVERT. I get my energy from people. The past twelve hours recharged me and changed my attitude. I needed a major gratitude adjustment.

First I sat next to a friend as I watched a Jr. High Basketball game. I hadn’t expected to see her there, so we chatted and caught up with each other’s lives. Pure gift.

From there I went to a holiday party with my local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) chapter. I spent the evening with friends I’ve known for years, and the new ones I met as I taught a twelve week class, Family to Family, this fall. The best part of the evening came as I heard about the successes of their loved ones. I rejoice as I hear the words, “doing well,” “has a job,” “great relationship between us.” So many times I’ve heard, “The class changed my life. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for my loved one and me.” What a gift!

This morning when I checked social media, I approved the tag for this Facebook post, Free the Strange by Andrea Berns. This courageous woman shared her journey to wellness. Her talents shined through her words, as well as her determination to work towards recovery. She asked me to write the forward for her chapbook. What an honor! Congratulations to Andrea, and to all the success stories that we need to tell and celebrate with them.

Gifts come in all shapes, sizes, and look different to everyone. I received good news all around me yesterday, and I am grateful for them.

 

Gratitude – November 24

I’m #grateful for family and to stay home on #BlackFriday.

Twas the morning of Black Friday, and all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, except for the mouse…

Okay, not really true, because I’m up, but the mouse part is close to the truth. The little critters must think we offer free rent in our house, so I’ve declared war, as I do every year. But anyway, back to my gratitude reflection…

I hope my readers had a relaxed day yesterday. I know, I did. I ate turkey, which for me, is an annual treat that I dream about in anticipation for weeks. Why? My body reacts to foods that others can eat without any issues. Turkey, chicken, eggs, chocolate, and wine trigger migraines for me.

I can eat tiny amounts (of poultry, not chocolate) once in a while without problems, so once a year, my taste buds rejoice as I savor a helping of dark, turkey meat. I enjoy the homemade dressing and gravy, along with the sweet potatoes, squash casserole, and of course, the green bean casserole. I finished the meal with a slice of pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee. My mouth remains in a state of contentment this morning.

Yesterday, my family surrounded me – our three sons, three daughters-in-law, our daughter, and three of our four grandchildren. Our fourth grandchild made it to his eternal home over eleven years ago. He’s with us in spirit for every event. I call us the “Even Dozen Club,” but in reality, we are probably a bit odd.

We have fun together. We compete like Olympians as we play games, work together, and of course, tease each other. I’m certain I will hear about the year I forgot the sugar in the pumpkin pie for the rest of my life. And if I know my family, they’ll share the story at my funeral.

Oh, we do love to laugh at our mistakes.

After all, life is too important to take it seriously. I laugh at the silly things I do wrong, and revel in the things that go right.

My devotional readings this morning remind me to stay grateful.

I’m thankful for my life, and that I don’t feel the need to fight the crowds today to shop. I plan to write a few chapters for my first-ever novel. And eat another piece of pumpkin pie with my coffee.

Happy Black Friday!

Gratitude – November 22 – Thank you to my mentors!

There’s a popular saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Thank you to my village!

Today is a repost from a previous gratitude post. I believe in saying “Thank you.” 

What’s a mentor?

I looked it up on the Merriam-Webster dictionary website and found:

A: a trusted counselor or guide

B:  tutor, coach

Next, I looked up tutor: a person charged with the instruction and guidance of another

I’m glad I found the definitions, but mostly I’m glad I found my mentors.

This wonderful group of people guided me as I learned about writing. I entered my first writers workshop with no knowledge about the craft or the skill needed to put my thoughts to paper (actually to the computer screen.) The first pieces I shared with them had lots of mistakes. My mentors gave gentle,  yet constructive criticism. I considered myself an infant in the life of an author. They took my hand as I grew through the toddler stage, entered “school” and worked my way through the lessons they provided.

Within the confines of a supportive community of trusted guides, tutors and coaches, I gained confidence and learned from them the correct procedure to submit the things I’d written. When it came time to write my first book query, and then my book proposal, experienced eyes found my weak areas and offered me suggestions for improvement.

I recently attended the conference that I feel gave me a solid start, the Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop. On my way to the first day of the three-day conference, I stopped at the post office to pick up my mail. I marveled about God’s timing. For you see, my recently won award plaque had just arrived – the 2017 Selah Award for memoir writing. From an “infant” to “I’m not even sure what grade I’m in these days” in six years!

I remember May 24, 2017 – the night the awards were announced through a live Twitter feed. I sat in my home, alone as the words, “Virginia Pillars winner of the Selah Award for Memoir” appeared on my screen. I covered my face and cried – “I never thought it would be me.” May 24 is also National Schizophrenia Awareness Day. My book, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith tells the story of our family’s experience with schizophrenia. I still tell others to pinch me – wake me up from this dream I didn’t know I had.

I want to say, “thank you” to those who helped me. If you follow me, you may know that I write under a pseudonym at the request of my family. They fear stigma will re-enter our daughter’s life, so I honor them by keeping them out of social media. I don’t publish photographs of me, or my family for this reason, but I can share the photos of my mentors. Through them, I learned to write, publish and speak about my story through schizophrenia with my child. 

I’ve asked them to hold my award, for I believe some of the credit belongs to them, too. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Mary Kenyon

 

 

Mary Potter Kenyon writes and speaks on the subjects of grief, cancer, friendship, the word of coupons, and writing for publication. She is currently working on her fifth book.

 

 

Shelly
Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach is an award-winning author, founder of the Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop, author of six books and frequent speaker on PTSD.

Jolene
Jolene Philo

Jolene Philo has a passion for those with special needs, especially our youth. She’s written many books and speaks extensively on the subject.

Wanda
Wanda Sanchez

Wanda Sanchez and Shelly Beach work together in the field of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.) As co-authors of an award-winning book, Love Letters from the Edge, they speak nationwide. Reach them at PTSD Perspectives.

Mary Humston
Mary Jedlicka Humston

Mary Jedlicka Humstom co-authored Mary and Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink with Mary Potter Kenyon. It tells their friendship of over thirty years through the art of letter writing.

Missing from the line-up is Jocelyn Green. I can still remember her critique on my first piece, “Show not tell.” She taught me how to accomplish this with her gentle guidance. I wish I had her photo to share with you, my readers.

And last, but not least, these are some of the group who meet regularly and have taught me, challenged me as we shared our writings, and heaped out large scoops of encouragement. If I overlooked someone, it is not my intent. I appreciate each and every person I’ve met along the way.

writers group

I’m still a work in progress. To all my mentors, past, present, and furture, I say, “THANK YOU!”

 

 

Gratitude – November 21

I’m grateful.

I spoke last night with a group in a local library. The more I share our story, the more I understand the statistic that one in four families deals with mental illness. I meet many of them.

  • I hear the heartache that accompanies them on their journey.
  • I witness the deep love they have for their family member.
  • I see the pride they have when their loved one manages it with success.
  • I see the hope that fills them when they see baby steps of improvement.
  • I witness courage, both in the families and those who are affected.

These families inspire me to continue to spread the word that mental illness is a brain disorder, not a character flaw.  I want to share that recovery is an option. I want to share that it’s hard for the families and those who are affected.

  • I dream of a day when mental illness is discussed the way we talk about diabetes, or cancer.
  • I dream of a day when our culture reacts to mental illness with the same compassion and support that happens when a family deals with cancer or other traumatic events.
  • I dream of a day when a blood test reveals the exact medication needed for the brain to function properly.
  • I dream of a day when we have adequate doctors, therapists, and counselors to assist those who need their expertise.
  • I dream of a day when every family I meets shares a success story with me.

Until then, I stay grateful for the health of my daughter.

  • I’m grateful the doctors found the correct cocktail of medication that allows her to overcome the symptoms of schizophrenia. She works full-time, and I know she makes a difference in the lives of the people around her.
  • I’m grateful that she understands her brain disorder and that she knows how to take care of her own health.
  • I’m grateful to have my daughter back. Twelve years ago I feared the worst. I remember crying out, “I just want my daughter back.” I’ve met too many families whose loved one lost the battle, and I weep with them.
  • I’m grateful for her recovery. Therefore, I want to shout it from the mountaintop – I want the world to know. The Lord walked beside me through our journey because I invited Him in to my day to day world. He helped me cope.

I live in gratitude.

  • I’m grateful for the people who come to my presentations on mental illness.
  • I’m grateful for those who support my work with a book purchase.
  • I’m grateful for the people who share the book with their friends and families. It helps bring undertanding to those not affected.
  • I’m grateful for those who take time to write a review. It helps keep our story in front of others.
  • Last, but not least, I’m grateful to the publisher, Familius, for the publication of Broken Brain, Fortified Faith and offering it right now for at half-price for those who wish to share our journey.

Together, let’s make a difference. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Gratitude – November 5

Day 5 of my personal gratitude challenge.

Yesterday, as I searched the junk drawer in my kitchen – the place where everything that needs a home lands – I found a slip of paper from a fortune cookie from who knows when..

I smiled. What timing!

On November 1, I took the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November, my first attempt at fiction.

I’ve had the idea rolling around in my head since 2015. I decided the time is now to bring the characters to life.

After only four days I wondered if I could do it? Can I stick with the writing schedule I gave myself? Write 1700 or more words each day?

Discouragement set in.

And then I found a reminder on how to enjoy the process: “Keep your ideas flexible and don’t ignore details.”

This told me: Lighten up; just let the ideas flow. Let my creative side go free, without censor. And don’t forget to add details to keep it interesting, but make sure to stay consistent with facts.  Above all – have fun with it.

All this because of an open drawer, a long-forgotten fortune, and a resolve to stay the course. Simple things that melded into motivation. This reminds me stay alert for signs to guide my way – to watch at all times for these things I call God winks. And for that I’m grateful.

Happy Sunday.