A Reflection of Another Year Passed

Hey y’all! I decided I wanted to write a reflection of another year we’ve lived as we look to the future for a new year to come. Looking back, I’ve come to realize that every new year comes with its own ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, highs and lows. This year, 2021, has been no exception.

The biggest struggle of this year was social distancing. While it really didn’t faze my husband, daughter, or myself, other members of my family did somewhat struggle with it. Many of the decisions I had to make this year weren’t met with open minds, but nonetheless, I made my decisions and accepted that others would not agree. Life moves on.

My husband and I lost friends this year. A dear friend of ours crossed over into another world very unexpectedly and not a single day goes by when he doesn’t cross our minds lovingly. We miss him, but we must also remember that he is no longer suffering from the sickness that took over his body. I want to include that his health had nothing to do with Covid, but instead other underlying issues which persisted to worsen. His husband, of course, suffered the most from the loss. Unfortunately, as the year drew on, we also lost him as our friend. I can’t say what happened exactly to cause the change in our friendship because I don’t know. We were there for him as much as we could be. The only thing I can estimate is a misunderstanding that I couldn’t change because of other things I was dealing with.

The good things that occurred this year include becoming a published author in February with my book “Y’all Didn’t Hear it From Me: A Journal of Life Stories” which is available in both paperback and eBook through Amazon.com, buying a motorhome and exploring Florida as it was the only state on the East coast I had yet to venture, planning and accomplishing a birth week scavenger hunt for my husband’s 51st birthday (which he absolutely enjoyed), receiving Bindi Irwin’s book signed by Bindi herself for my own birthday as well as a signed postcard personalized with a birthday greeting from Robert Irwin, and completing two different photoshoots with my new Nikon camera. Now, these are just to name a few because honestly, I can’t recall every little thing.

My published book available in paperback and as eBook through amazon.com.

Since we’ve been on the road exploring Florida, I wanted to also share some of the unique sites we’ve seen.

Mickey Mouse ears in Orlando, Florida. We were hoping to see Disney’s castle, but that was a no go, and we weren’t leaving the interstate to find it only to take a chance of getting caught in traffic. Maybe next time around.
A ‘Jurassic Park’ jeep in Tampa, Florida. Sorry the iconic symbol on the side is blurry. I almost had the perfect photo, but an Amazon Prime delivery vehicle photo bombed my attempt.
I thought this was a very unique paint scheme saluting our troops. The wreath hanging on the front is very festive.
A new military utility vehicle on its way to California. The truck driver was also kind enough to allow me to climb up onto the back of his truck to get a glimpse of the inside of this military vehicle. I’ll tell you the inside looks like a very tight space with a couple screens and many, many gadgets and gizmos along its dashboard.
Another unique design on the side of a tractor-trailer parked at a truck stop just outside of Orlando, Florida. Better be minding Uncle Sam y’all.

I would say we’re finishing off the year on a positive note as we make our way back into Georgia to set in what we’re calling ‘dry dock’ so we can work on a few things, improve, and set up for our next adventure. We have many plans for 2022 including our own YouTube channel, but more details to come later, after the new year starts. Until then, we wish y’all a safe and Happy New Year 2022!

Fort Myers, Florida

Hey y’all!  Since we’ve spent the last two months traveling down into Florida and now back up through Florida, I wanted to take the time to tell you about our adventures in Fort Myers.  It’s a very popular town, to say the least.  We only spent about a week there, but it wasn’t without adventure. 

We traveled into Fort Myers during the first week of December and found a place to park in the back of a Pilot truck stop.  The day we pulled in, we decided to check into any RV parks that might have been in the area, and luckily, we found a very nice one barely a mile from the truck stop called Lazy J’s Mobile Home Park.  Normally I refrain from using names when writing, but in this case, the names are necessary.  Lazy J’s Mobile Home Park is run by a guy named Troy and his wife Sharon; two very hospitable people who additionally helped us out, not only did they give us a small discount for staying there, but he pointedly parked us a little closer to his place just so we could get the best Wi-Fi signal possible so we could watch the College Football SEC game between our Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama’s Crimson Tide.  Unfortunately, our Bulldogs lost, but life goes on. 

The day of the game, we pulled into the park just before noon, set up, plugged in, and preparing for game day, we drank a couple Budweiser’s.  Afterwards, hubby and I decided to take a small walk to Family Dollar, which wasn’t far; just one street over.  People were having outdoor barbeques and enjoying the hot, sunny weather.  However, the following morning, the road we had walked to get to Family Dollar was marked off with yellow crime scene tape and a sheriff’s car was blocking the way.  An interesting wake up call to say the least.  The road was blocked off for most of the day.  Why?  In the middle of the night, around 2:30am, there was a shooting… on that road.  To be more specific, the shooting took place at the house where just the day before we saw they were having a family cookout.  We didn’t stop or anything, just commented between ourselves how they were having a cookout.  Everything about the atmosphere on that street seemed so peaceful.  Well, something went wrong in the middle of the night.  Hubby was awoken by the flashing lights of cop cars; our daughter was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of shots being fired.  I slept through the entirety of it.  In talking with the owner of the park, Troy, we learned that it’s a very rare occurrence in that area.  The last time, he said, was about four years ago. 

We pulled into the park on Saturday, for the SEC game, and were scheduled to stay until Monday, however, I was enjoying the serene scenery and the residents, we paid and stayed an extra day to further enjoy the area.  We would take a walk around the park in the mornings after having coffee, throughout the afternoon, and again at night after the sun went down and the temperatures cooled.  Everyone was decorating their homes with Christmas lights and inflatable Christmas figures.  Our first night there, as we were heading to bed, I noticed some major Christmas lighting through our back bedroom window.  Looking out was a magnificent sight.  There was a house literally on the edge of the water, and their holiday decorations were over the top according to my standards.  What made the scene so magnificent was how it reflected over the water. 

A spectacular sight.

The owner’s place was nicely done as well, but his had a musical accompaniment.  It was hard getting the right shot where everything was lit at once.  As we went to pay for an extra day at the office, we compliment Sharon on their Christmas lights display and found out he isn’t even finished with them!

Amazingly, he wasn’t finished with the lighting.

We met some very nice people during our stay there.  Everyone was so friendly, wishing us a good morning during our morning walks, and sharing their life stories with us if they caught us walking at night.  One guy, an older gentleman, who is now retired from the sheriff’s department following an incident in which he got hurt on the job, shared with us that him and his wife plan to travel after he has some surgery that’s required being how he got hurt.  He didn’t go into details, but he found us so interesting given how we’re traveling. 

During our time in Fort Myers, we also explored some Mexican cuisine.  First, we ordered from a small, local taco truck, called Super Taco.  We ordered some simple tacos and a super burrito.  Both were so tasty we went back the next afternoon in hopes of eating there again, but they weren’t open.  Since they’re food wasn’t available, we walked a little further up the street to what we thought was a Mexican restaurant, but it wasn’t a restaurant, it was a Mexican food market.  Inside this food market, in the back was a takeout counter like you find in the Walmart Deli section, but this was straight Mexican cuisine.  The food was absolutely fantastic!!!  My husband knows more Spanish language than I do, so he ordered for us and our daughter who stayed back at the motorhome with our cats and watched a movie.  I hate to say it, but I felt so out of place, I stuck to my husband like I was glued to him.  Additionally, I wasn’t big fan of Mexican food, but after eating from that food market, I have a changed palette!  For what we ordered, we received about the same amount as when you order from a Chinese restaurant… more than one can eat in a single sitting.  We ate that for lunch, dinner, snack, and the next day my husband finished it.  I would love to go back for more, but we don’t have the time to travel back down to Fort Myers.  My favorite part was their tortillas.  They’re nothing like the packs of flour tortillas you buy in your local grocery store, or even the flour tortillas that come with your meal at a Mexican restaurant.  These are homemade, pressed singly, and taste way better.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat at a Mexican restaurant ever again, because the Mexican food market figuratively blew my mind, and changed it.  I love authentic Mexican food!!!  Actually, while we were walking one night after the sun went down in the park, we were walking by a house that you could literally smell their homemade tortillas.  It smelled so good, I considered knocking on the door to ask for dinner.  LOL.  Just kidding.  I would never do that, but the next day, during our morning walk, the small Hispanic lady who lives there was smiling and very friendly, wishing us a good morning and asking us how we were doing.  We smiled back, and told her we were doing good, and joked with her that we almost stopped for dinner the night before.  She must have thought it was cute because she smiled even more with us.  Needless to say, I can’t wait to try out other authentic ethnic cuisines!

Yummy food but was only open the one day.

Visiting and staying in Fort Myers was an experience I would gladly do again.  The food was divine, the Christmas decorations were festive, and the locals were welcoming. 

Another place that was festive.
A few more Christmas lights.

“Write, Wait, Repeat”

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn being a writer is the amount of patience I have to have to get published.  Your first submitted story never makes the cut, so receiving that first acceptance letter takes forever.  Years.

I’ve been submitting short stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul since 2014.  It’s been a very long, very trying road, and it continues to be, but I keep writing, and I’m still submitting.  My writing has improved greatly through the passing time.  However, I’ve learned another lesson because of this trying process–don’t look for the email.  You’re almost better in forgetting that you submitted a story, but we all know better than to believe we can forget about something we really really want.  Whenever Amy Newmark shares a new cover design for a book on Twitter, I save it to my phone.  I know and remember the stories I’ve submitted to what titles, I can’t help but to keep track because I’m proud of that work.  My work.  I surprise myself every time I read one of my own polished peices.  I’m all like, “I wrote that!?”

I think the worst thing a writer can do to themselves is wait for that acceptance email because it just makes it worse when you never receive it.  Another thing I have learned is to constantly remind myself that it’s not that my stuff is crap.  I’ve been following Chicken Soup for the Soul long enough to understand that most of the time, it’s not me or my writing, it’s the direction or the multiplicity of common topic stories.  For instance, I submitted a story to Chicken Soup: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone.  My story Retail To Detail didn’t make the cut, but I still attended Chicken Soup for the Soul’s twitter launch party for the book.  I got to greet and converse with all the other contributors that were in the book.  One of the contributors wrote a story about how he landed a job as the weatherman on the news.  Well, in learning this, I realized my story was written on a similar note, so it was no wonder my story wasn’t chosen.

Coming to this realization, I’m still writing and I’m still submitting because one day it’ll happen, but never look for the email to come.  Besides, all my work doubles for my own book series, Y’all Didn’t Hear it From Me–my personal memoir.