WSJ, the Met & Me

I got an email from my darling publisher a few mornings ago:

“Hi, Donna – ICYMI (that’s editor talk for “in case you missed it”) “Flaming June” and Frederic Leighton were the topic of an article in the WSJ Review written by Barrymore Laurence Sherer.
Title of article is “A Victorian Vision of Beautiful Youth.” Such a treat to learn more about the artist and painting, now on loan to the Met in NYC. Happy Spring, Cynthia.”

I looked it up, and the article was very eloquent, and equally verbose… but, the main points were that this is Sir Frederic Leighton’s (1830-1896) most famous painting for its vivid color, and his technique that both conceals and reveals, appearing almost weightless. Scholars have called Flaming June “his most uninhibited hymn to human beauty and life itself.” It is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from Puerto Rico’s Museo de Arte de Ponce along with five others through 2024. I’d love to see it.

I remember being enthralled the first time I saw the painting in an art class, and 50 years later, I am thrilled to be able to use it for my book cover.

In other news, I think I told you that I began studying Spanish using the DuoLingo app during the pandemic. I have managed to practice daily for 635 days now, usually spending between 4 – 5 hours a week. I’ve decided that when I hit the two-year mark in a few months that I may switch to Babble, unless some of you have other suggestions for online learning that worked for you? Please drop me a note in Comments.

My reading and writing comprehension are both good, but I get a little “tongue-tied” when I speak. And I can’t roll my Rrrrrrr anymore! But I do speak to everyone who will speak with me and I have had lots of opportunity. I’ve found that native speakers are always very kind, patient, and complimentary and it keeps me encouraged.

I don’t know if this is a good habit, or a bad one, but I’ve developed the habit of eating “at my desk.” Having never had a desk job, it’s a new experience for me, and it feels fun. I make myself a latte in the morning, having treated myself to a milk frother since I’ve had to give up my cream. (I’m limited to lactose-free milk right now – but it warms up and froths beautifully!)
Next I warm-up one of this week’s batch of gluten-free muffins, then carry them to my desk where I read Apple news. It is an extravagance having the time to do this with no demands at all as the sun comes up. Maybe I should think of it as more of a ritual?

What ever we call it, we all deserve an extravagant moment every day. Time to recharge our body, mind, and spirit so that we can be present to ourselves and for others.

XO Donna

It’s too hot

…to go out and play. Actually, to go out and do anything at all in the afternoon.
I don’t even have the energy to walk over to the beautiful pool at our imageapartments.

I’ve been staying indoors, daydreaming about running away to cooler climes, watching a new series (to me) on Netflix and getting a lot of writing done.

And that’s great news for me. After wondering where I was going to find the motivation to get back to work on my book, I woke up two days ago and did a word count. I was excited to realize that I was  more than halfway there! Since then I’ve been adding a couple of thousand words a day. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s NOT a train!

imageSpeaking of trains – the Netflix series we have been enjoying is “Hell on Wheels.” It’s a down-and-dirty Western about the building of the Trans-Pacific railroad in the wild west. It’s a bit more realistic than I’d like – I have a weak stomach when it comes to bloodshed, but I look away.  The lead actors are engaging and very sexy. Can you say “smoldering?”  The costuming, hair and makeup are wonderful and the series is deliciously character driven.

We also enjoyed Lillehammer with Steven Van Zandt (of both Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band and The Sopranos fame). In the series a mob guy gets a new identity and a relocation to Sweden – where his darkness and chaos are a stark contrast to all that freezing brightness and order.

And speaking of that, freezing sounds good right about now.
XO Donna


Eyes on the Prize


I had the idea that blogging would be an “easy” way to start writing. With that in mind, two years ago I attended my first BlogathonATX. I vowed that I would figure out how to do it, and began.

One hundred posts later I have learned a few very important lessons. I’m talking about my experiences writing, but on reflection, everything always seems to be about LIFE.


  1. When you set goals meet them.  I’ve experienced growing self-confidence in my ability to write as a direct result of  setting a goal and accomplishing it. As I reach that goal, I then set another.
  2. When you commit, keep your commitments. I’ve also experienced increased self-esteem as I keep commitments, both to others, and to myself. I’ve also noticed how not keeping a commitment makes me feel. No, not guilty….I’ve spent too much money on therapy for that! I won’t let myself play the “guilt game” anymore.  You know,  “if you feel guilty enough, long enough, you’ll be absolved.” It doesn’t work, and you know it…deep down inside, you know it. A) – Guilt is optional. Yes, it is.  B) – Drop the guilt, or drop the behavior.
  3. Do not make promises you can’t, or don’t really want to, keep. In order to become good at anything we must prioritize it, make space for it, and don’t let anything intrude on that space. If other people don’t like or respect that…well, to quote my Mom, “they can go take a flying leap!” It used to be hard for me to say “No.” I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or let them down. But, what about hurting my own feelings? What about letting myself down?
  4. Don’t compare or worry about what others think of your work. Do your own thing. Nobody else can do YOU the way you can. I believe we each have our specific dreams/desires for a reason, and that we CAN accomplish them. Keep your eyes on the prize!

After 100 posts – Big respect for people who blog consistently and strive to produce well-written content. It’s tough!

After 100 posts – I realize I am going to have to use everything above to submit my book proposal before my birthday next week… the new goal I set at BlogathonATX last week.

I want to thank you all for sticking around, sharing, and commenting.

Big love! Muchas Gracias! Cheers!

XO Donna


Countdown to Ecstacy

imageI have earned my “just desserts” today, and have mixed myself a cocktail as I sit down to write this. I’m glad you’re here – I’ve looked forward to this moment all day!

I realized that the month is half gone, I know that’s a “glass half full” way to view it, but because of the nature of my business for the past 30+ years, I tend to count down at this time of year.

11 weeks till New Years Eve.  10 weeks till Christmas. 6 weeks till Thanksgiving. 2 weeks till my birthday. 1 week till Halloween. And 1 day till the house goes on the market. That’s….tomorrow!!!!

Excuse me while I freak out for a minute.

The day we have awaited for so long is here and I don’t feel the least bit ready. I remember feeling this way when I went in to labor. I couldn’t wait to have my baby. I was excited to meet him/her and and to quit feeling so heavy. Earthbound. But the moment the pain began, I wanted to put it off for  a while.

Speaking of putting things off – I have just finished painting my darling’s home office. Of course, the day before it goes on the market. Doing this, and  cleaning the garage were both put off until they became last-minute items. Before all was said and done, we were upset with each other. Why do we (humans) wait until the last damned minute to get things done? What is it about human nature that we put off doing things until (and pardon me here – I know this is a damned touchy issue) there is a gun pointed at our heads?

imageNow it’s finished, and beautiful. Whoever buys it will love it. But I feel a little resentful that I had to live in it while it was “ugly and cluttered”. ..the two wicked stepsisters…and I had to become a witch in order to get it done.  Oh well, Halloween is next week.

I used to procrastinate, until I learned (only a few years ago) to break things down into small, manageable goals, then maintain a steady pace with an end date in mind. Works like a charm. Also reduces the stress level like you wouldn’t believe! But this wisdom didn’t come about until recently. Trust me, it’s great to learn new things and put them into practice, and I intend to continue this way. I will never stop growing, accomplishing…and enjoying a delicious cocktail at the end of a hard day’s work!

I really do look forward to living in a nice apartment complex where we won’t have anything to maintain anything but our home. What will I do with myself?  Facials? Mani/pedis?  Lunch with friends?  Maybe I’ll finally write the Great American Novel!

I love y’all!

XO Donna

Everything happens at once

Isn’t that the way it always is?  We’ve had to hit the floor, running!

Thankfully, we had a wonderful, exciting vacation. We got there and back quicker than I’d have imagined – thank you Virgin Airlines!  If I image have a choice, I will choose them from now on. And, at their terminal you can get both traditional American fare or sushi for breakfast…or have a flight of delicious Sonoma County wines. Guess which I chose?

We’ve been back for 4 days, and still sorting through photos – I took pics with my little camera, my iPhone, my sweetie’s iPhone and my iPad. I can’t find anything!

Some highlights of our vacation:

  1. Dinner and cocktails at Jack London’s restaurant in Carmel, where a friend earned herself a new nickname – Fireball. There was also a Poodle Parade with more than 100 Poodles in it, and we got to pet dogs and chat with owners.
  2. Having “the cop” called on our gang for sitting out by the firepit at our hotel and talking and laughing too LOUD for the quaint town of Carmel. However, the inn in question just sent us a survey asking how our visit was and inviting us to return…so I guess we’re not banned.
  3. Walking in the Pacific Ocean down in Cambria looking for Moonstones, although I had no idea what they are. I found a shark’s tooth!
  4. A great night at Half Moon Bay Inn – where we got to share a cozy rooftop patio with our friends from Santa Fe, and the owner, who we met last year, sent us up wine to enjoy. The rooms are very French, and so chic and sexy! image
  5. Riding over the Golden Gate Bridge in a group on our bikes. Priceless!
  6. Riding through the redwood forests and mountains on some of the twistiest roads I’ve ever been on.
  7. Experienceing the HOTTEST weather they’ve ever had up in Healdsburg and Sonoma. It was above 90.  A cakewalk for us Texans!
  8. Turk and I got to experience riding through rush-hour traffic on a Friday afternoon – right through downtown San Francisco – and it moved better than it does here. Wake up, Austin.
  9. Coming back with an idea for a fiction novel. I’ve begun work on it already.
  10. And last, but not least – the time spent with dear friends. Everyone got everywhere ‘safe and sound’. And 3 of our group (of 12) rode from Colorado to California. And back!  Kudos to Special, Smooth, and Wooley. My heart is so full.

If any of you are heading CA way, please send me a note. I will give you info on where we stayed, what we visited,  and where we ate. There is such marvelous food everywhere that Denise  said, “There must be a law against serving bad food in CA!”

Now it’s time to get busy and get our house on the market next week and sold.

XO  Donna

Help Along the Way

(I have to give credit for the title to Anne LaMott – a writer who always inspires me.)

I got to spend the morning brainstorming, laughing, and dreaming with my friend Gina. She always gives me much-needed help with my writing, and always inspires me with her writing/food/photography. We are both working on books. Today was both work and play, the best kind of day.  We seem to have the gift of being able to open doors for each other. Actually, that’s what all of my friendships are based on – the inspiration we offer each other.

Here’s a nugget from Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad: “Always hang out with people who inspire you.”

imageI met Gina a couple of years ago on Facebook – she reached out and introduced herself, and we’ve been friends ever since!  With our children grown and on their own, we are both moving into a new phase of our lives. We are pursuing the dreams that were put on hold while we were raising our kids, running our households, and working. (Notice the Wonder- Woman bag to our right, in the window?)

With our dreams tempered by years of life-experience, it is now our job to get them out into the world. And that was our focus today.

Here’s another nugget, this one from Insight Seminars: What you focus on…you get more of.”

I have friends that inspire and delight me daily, and I’ve never even met them in person. I feel this is one of the best things about Facebook, say what you will. Sure, there’s lots of rabid politics, righteousness, and negativity to be found there, but that’s where you get to choose what you’re going to focus on. With the push of a button all of that can be out of your life instantly – unlike a bad boss, incompetent co-workers or certain family members.

We focus on our goals, and dream big – but we’re not too attached to how it shows up. Gina and I ended our visit grateful for some friend-time, for everything we have in our lives (because on some level, we’ve created it) and grateful for how much fun we are having with the people we love.

Oh, and for our sanity!

XO Donna