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Reflections and Revelations: My 2023 Journey

As the calendar flips to its final pages, I find myself curled up in my snug home office, surrounded by a comforting sea of books. This little room, which also moonlights as a bedroom, is where I’ve spent many hours, lost in the world of words and ideas.

In my hands, I’m holding my beloved Leuchtturm1917 notebook, a thoughtful gift from a friend who knows just how much I adore these fancy little things. Flipping through its pages feels like traveling back in time, revisiting the milestones and memories of 2023.

Expanding personal interactions

Increasing face-to-face contact was a defining theme of my 2023 and all the evidence is found in those early journal page notes. It all began with Susan Pinker’s “The Village Effect.” It’s about how crucial face-to-face interactions are for our happiness and health. In this era, when we’re just stepping out of a pandemic’s shadow, Pinker’s words struck a chord. Over 20 days in January, I soaked in her insights. It made me realize how much I missed real, in-person connections.

Inspired by this, I started something new – quarterly gatherings with my closest friends. It’s been wonderful, a perfect balance that keeps our connections alive and thriving. We joke about making it formal, with minutes and reports, but it’s the laughter and shared moments that truly matter. 

I also made it a point to visit my family in Houston every three months or so. The shift to in-person interactions over online ones had a profound impact – my stress levels noticeably decreased, evidenced by the mere two migraines I had in 2023, a significant drop from the seven in the previous year. (Keeping up with my workout routine no doubt contributed as well: I logged 205 classes at OrangeTheory Fitness in 2023.)

The year’s focus on connection pushed me to take a leadership role in the Zonta Club of Burbank Area, join the Burbank Noon Rotary Club and get back into the Junior League of Los Angeles as a digital communications co-chair. I met some fantastic people there, like my hilarious co-chair Casey who makes our weekly newsletter a joy to work on, and my game-loving friend Stephanie who inspired me to sing karaoke for the first time in 20 years. These experiences didn’t just expand my network; they gave me a sense of purpose, of being part of something bigger. And they led to a new role: I’m now writing about service clubs for

Stretch goals

And then there was the fundraising. I got involved with some causes that are really close to my heart. With some new skills from a fundraising training program, I helped Believe in Big Change and led Zonta Club of Burbank Area’s collaboration with Theatre Americana for a fundraiser. It was out of my comfort zone, asking for help, but we hit our goals, and I couldn’t be prouder.

On a lighter note, Steve and I continued our weekly guitar lessons at Guitar Ninjas in Burbank. We’ve been at it for six years now. I really ought to be better at it, but I embrace my amateur status. (Read my essay: “How Learning To Be Mediocre Taught Me to Relax” on Better After 50.) We tackled some challenging tunes this year – Lenny Kravitz, The Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd. Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” is still giving us a run for our money, but the joy of playing together, it’s something else.

Tough spots

But life, as it does, had its ups and downs. My mom’s health took a turn with Alzheimer’s, and we had to get caregivers for her. It’s been tough, watching her go through this, but she is doing well and enjoying spending time with her great-grandkids and her dogs.

Our little Chloe, our 13-year-old dachshund, lost her sight. But you know what? She’s been amazing, adapting and still enjoying her favorite things like sunbathing and treats.

In between everything, I managed to read 26 books in 2023. I dove deep into Ann Patchett’s works, exploring her backlist. What a treasure trove that was! Her storytelling is lyrical, moving, and often articulates feelings I’ve had better than I could. (All my book reviews are on Goodreads HERE.)

And Steve, my husband and my rock, is enjoying retirement now and has thrown himself into music production. Watching him embrace this new phase, learning and growing – it’s been a delight.

Writing goals and milestones

In 2023, I decided to streamline my PR and writing consultancy to pour more energy into fiction. This pivot is reflected in the content of my trusty notebook, which contains the evolving outline of “Cryptic Inheritance,” a title that matured from its original “Find Him Fast.” Titles, like their stories, are living things—they transform until they feel just right, much like the careful kneading of dough.

This year marked a significant milestone with the release of my fourth and fifth novels, “Stalked By Revenge” and “Cryptic Inheritance.” Both are continuations of the Zane Clearwater Mystery series, inspired by my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The labor of love that went into writing, editing, and perfecting these stories culminated in an indescribable sense of achievement as I placed them on the shelf.

Meanwhile, my latest endeavor, “Smelted,” is taking shape. It’s a tale of a shape-shifting detective and her vampire partner tackling mysteries in Northern California. Having penned over 45,000 words, I took a pause but am now gearing up to weave the final 30,000 into the fabric of this unfolding narrative.

As I look towards 2024, I’m filled with excitement and gratitude. There’s so much to write, so many relationships to nurture, and endless adventures to embark on. Here’s to the coming year!



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