April’s Charm

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IMG_0165It’s been a fairly warm winter and we only had one good snow storm — but it’s been a dark one with lots of rain. There were countless days in which all I wanted to do was to cozy up with a steaming cup of tea and somebody else’s book. But work on my own book was necessary. I reread and reread to check for mistakes that the editors, proof reader, and I all had missed. When the first day of spring arrived in March, I felt burned out on my story and wanted to throw it in the glowing coals of my fireplace. Fortunately, there were voices out there that told me to take heart, that many writers feel burned out at this stage of the game.

I’ve been away from my rereads for over a week now and feeling much better about the whole thing. I’m beginning to feel very excited as the back cover is coming together with great blurbs from a few people who have already read it. My airline tickets and hotel reservations are set for my trip to Chicago next month for Book Expo America, and my publicist spent an hour on the phone with me, giving me tips on what to expect along with lots of convention etiquette.

Being one who doesn’t like big crowds, I’ll be stepping way outside of my comfort zone. But, you know what? I’m looking forward to getting one more thing crossed off of the “Big Challenges List,” that I keep tucked away in my back pocket along with my Bucket List. I suppose they’re actually one and the same, but things on my Big Challenges List are more scary than those on my Bucket List. In the long run, it really doesn’t matter what happens. I will have done it and my sense of self-esteem and confidence will be have risen a rung or two on my “Life Ladder.”

The point is that regrets are built on the steps we don’t take to live out loud. I figure that I’ve been birthing this book for a long time and I must do everything I can do to bring it to life. If an infant isn’t breathing when it comes into the world, nurses and doctors don’t give up on it without trying to save it’s life. I’m not about to let my book die in the delivery room. I want her to be breathing nicely when she hits the first book shelf.

IMG_0162In the meantime, it’s April, and I have about six weeks before I need to worry about all of that. The days are longer and sunnier, I think the robin who kept me company in the garden last spring is back, and the greening of the new season seems greener than ever.

I celebrated an unusual happening this past week when two, yes that’s 2, handwritten letters arrived in my mailbox on the same day. One was a three page missive from grandson, Noah, to his grand dad, about a trip they are planning together, but he sent me his best wishes and love as well. The other was a thank you note from a friend who had recently visited me in Charlottesville.

How many handwritten letters get delivered to your mailbox in one day, week, or year? Once this book thing is done, maybe I’ll start writing letters to friends with a pen on real paper like I used to. I believe there is something very precious about someone taking the time to write me note using their hands, putting a stamp on it, and sending it through the mail. No one does that anymore.

I’m also celebrating my garden which is more beautiful than ever this spring. On Friday I went to myIMG_0163 favorite garden center to find some plants to in fill a few empty spaces. The varieties of flora took my breath away as I ambled up and down the aisles of ferns, hellebores, columbine, early blooming irises, and peonies. What to choose? How many? Which color? I came home with a variety of things that I’ll have to cover for the next few nights. It seems that winter isn’t giving up it’s hold on the weather just yet. Last week’s 70 degree weather will be gone for a while, but will soon return. At least we’ll not get snow like so many places north of here are promised.

There is lot’s going on in the future to worry and think about. But for now April charms me with her promises of a garden full of flowers, the first butterflies of the season, and birds singing their heart’s out in the early morning light.

Do you have a Big Challenges List and how do you keep yourself grounded in the present moment?


  1. Joan — I love, ABSOLUTELY LOVE, what you wrote: “…regrets are built on the steps we don’t take to live out loud.”

    Here’s to a butt-wiggling, fist-pumping victory dance on the steps—cheers!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Laurie. I’m thinking of using that as my motto as you are using “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” Yes, here’s to many victories ahead!!

  2. My very best wishes to you Joan, as you continue on this journey of birthing your memoir. I hear you knowing you may just need to give it a good wallop on the backside to get it screaming. Good for you.

    “In the long run, it really doesn’t matter what happens. I will have done it…” jumped out at me. What a very freeing sentiment.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thank you, Janet. It is a freeing thought. If I know that all I have to do is try, it doesn’t matter. It’s like doing a marathon and coming in next to the last place. I didn’t win but I did it!

  3. Joan, this post reminds me of the awakening of the earth as Spring shows her beautiful face. Yes, our snow is now melting, but it is so much easier to take when you know it’s April. My daffodils were snowed on, but that is common in the North.

    I wish you the best at the Book Expo. I have never been to one, so I look forward to hearing about it. I am not a fan of big crowds either, nor am I a fan of Chicago or New York. Cities that big unsettle me. But it might brave one to go to a book expo someday. My ultimate dream is to go to the Frankfurt Book Fair. That will likely not be happening this year.

    I LOVE the cover of your book! I just noticed it for the first time…. very nice! I am so excited for you as you launch it. You will be getting handwritten letters from fans, I promise you. I’ve gotten one from France! Usually letters from that far away come in the form of emails, so this was an exception.

    Love your garden… it will be nice to get out there and spiff up the outside when the time is right.

    Happy Spring!

    • Joan Rough says:


      I have been wincing every time I hear about the snow in your area. Though it is cold here, and we need to cover tender plants, we haven’t had any of that white stuff. Tonight it will be down in the 20’s so the plants I still haven’t planted will spend the night in the garage.

  4. I meant I look forward to spiffing up my garden… that last statement didn’t come out right.

  5. Here’s to hand-written letters, spring blooms, and a safe delivery of your precious book, guaranteed.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Oh I love guarantees, Marion. Living in the moment and accepting what we receive are the big secrets to success in all matters of living.

  6. One of the nicer aspects of aging for me has been a willingness to try more things I would once have deemed too risky or carrying too much potential for failure. Now, I figure, what have I got to lose? If it’s an experience I want to try, then it will be worth it and meaningful. I’m sure there will be some challenges for you at the book expo, but you will definitely be glad you did it in the long run.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Becca, You have hit the nail on the head. I believe it is better to take on challenge than to hide in my cave, afraid of what will happen. I want to take on my life as I age and wear my heart where everyone can see it. I am an aging woman. Yes, I can be scared from time to time, but like your mom, whom I know you miss badly, I want to great whatever is ahead without regret.

  7. Good luck with your book and your upcoming conference.
    You are right that it is nice to think about the longer days–although we had snow flurries here this morning. Still, we have daffodils, and I’ve been seeing more robins, and hear them sing in the early morning.
    It is special to receive hand-written letters these days. I do try to write some occasionally. 🙂

  8. Joan Rough says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Merril. It is cold here too, but we haven’t had snow flurries. However, we do have lots of pear and cherry tree blossoms blowing about in the fierce wind we’ve been having.

  9. I love where you are in life Joan

    • Joan Rough says:

      Val, Thank you so much. I love being where I am, though sometimes it’s not easy!