Hey Y'all!

It took me awhile to get here, but alas I'm finally joining the blogosphere of bloviation. It took a rant floating around in my head to send me toward this journey, but so be it. We'll have some fun here too. I promise. Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to leave me a comment or two. ~ diane

Friday, July 30, 2010

Amusing Ourselves to Death

There's actually a book by that name, though I admit I've never read it. But the title has stuck with me for years, and from time to time, I find myself lamenting those very words. We are indeed a culture that seems bent on amusing ourselves to death. As technology unveils more and more devices for our entertainment, it seems our appetite for them - and for untold hours of distraction their new and improved capabilities enable us - seems insatiable.

And to think that book came out long before reality TV or iPads.

Don't get me wrong. I love that technology is making the world around us as accessible as the touch of a screen. I love that my friend's son Scott, who's stationed with the Army in Qatar, can Skype 24/7 with his new bride back home in Texas. I love that my daughter could tap into GPS on her iPhone when we got lost on a recent road trip and immediately get us back on the right road. I love the concept of reading any book on the planet by simply downloading it into a Kindle or some other such device. (Though I'm personally a hopeless die-hard for having book-in-hand when I curl up to read at night.) I also love that we can watch new movies OnDemand on our home television or computer screen with the press of a button. Who needs a trip to the video store? And I do love the idea of keeping in touch better with friends and family via Facebook and Twitter. How fun to reconnect with folks I haven't seen since we were kids!

But I also miss my life. You know - the one when I had time to call my own.

The one when I wasn't constantly hearing the familiar tone on my cell phone letting me know I'd received a text message. (Something urgent? Usually not.) Or the one without hundreds of emails bombarding my inbox. (And that's a totally spam-free account!) Sometimes I could swear I hear them screaming "READ ME! READ ME!"

When did this happen? Or perhaps the better question is, when did I LET this happen?

And let's be honest. We justify the umblical chord of these gadgets because we "need" to stay in touch. We "need" to know what's going on. Riiiiiight. But the truth is, they're often just glorified electronic games. Do I really need to "retweet" the fact that Susie just found a killer bargain on kumquats at Whole Foods? Will life go on as we know it if I don't read all 125 of my friends' blogs the minute they're posted? Or am I subconciously just "playing the game" of Who's Where, Who's Life is More Interesting & Important, or Who's Got the Most Friends?

I contend it's probably all just masquerading as electronic entertainment. Right up there with the endless garbage that's parading across our flat-
screen, HD TVs day in and day out. Seriously, people, how many bachelor and bachelorette shows do you need to watch before you realize NONE of them stay together? How many talent shows do we really need, especially after a blockbuster season of American Idol when no one can even remember who won last year? And are we really so desperate we turn to shows like WipeOut, which pits contestants against each other in ridiculous obstacles courses (mud tanks anyone?) I mean, do we miss junior high that much? And to think, back in the olden days, we gasped when contestants on Fear Factor were made to eat life cockroaches! Oh, how far we've come.

It does make you wonder. Are we really that bored? Is real life so horrible that we opt to waste hundreds of hours plopped in front of this kind of mindless programming? Then again, what do I know? Once upon a time those living in the Roman empire used to flock to the Coliseum by the thousands to watch lions rip apart Christians. All under the guise of "entertainment."

Might I suggest we learn from their mistakes? As I recall the aforementioned Roman empire fell mightily, never to recover.

Just sayin . . .

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

It's awfully late, but I can't let the day slip away without wishing my dad a happy 87th! That's him (right) a couple years ago with our Darby when she was just a puppy. Dad's never been much of a dog lover, but she's got him wrapped around her little paw!

I'm mighty proud of my father. He's lived a wonderful life since that July 17th in 1923 when his parents, Lee & Betty Hale, first welcomed him into their arms. His two older brothers, Harold & Ralph, were no doubt thrilled to have a new little guy to pick on!

This morning I told him I was wondering what Chicago was like that summer day when he was born. Probably pretty hot, as those were days long before air conditioning! That year, his beloved Cubs had more wins than losses (83/71) but it wasn't a great season. Not that little Glenn Hale would have known!

As most of you know, Dad served in WWII as a B-17 co-pilot in the Eighth Air Force. Those years made a tremendous impression on him, and to this day he can tell you where he was on any given day back in 1944-45. He was so proud to be able to serve his country. And if you want to see him get riled up, just mention how our freedoms are being eroded by the nitwits in Washington . . . but let's not go THERE on his birthday!

Dad graduated from the University of Iowa, compliments of the GI Bill, and that's where he met a co-ed from Texas named Anita Hale on a blind date. Yep. Same last name, but no relation. They were married for more than 58 years before Dad lost the love of his life to cancer in 2007. Oh my, what a legacy of love they gave us!

Dad moved to Nashville after Mom died to be closer to us and to my sister and her family. He has a home in Harpeth Meadows, a beautiful retirement community in Bellevue. That's him the first year he lived there, proud as punch of that gorgeous red tree out front!

Today we celebrated his 87th at Red Lobster. We enjoyed reminiscing with him, hearing stories of his childhood and a few favorite birthday memories, including a family feast in his honor when he first got back from the war in '45. I sat across the table and looked at this man who could easily pass for someone much, much younger, and marvel at his good health. He's got a way more active social life than I do! And loves every minute of it.

God has been so good to Glenn Hale. And oh, what a blessing he is to all of us.

Happy Birthday, Daddy! We love you!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Pigs Are Flying! My Books Are Here!

For years I've dreamed of being a published author and opening that first box filled with books with my name on them. Well, I'm happy to say that day was TODAY!!! My very first copies of Confessions of a Prayer Slacker arrived this morning! And opening that box truly was every bit as exciting as I'd hoped it would be. Similar to holding my babies for the first time after they were born (albeit a totally different realm of course!) Except this birthing process took waaaaaaay longer . . . thankfully, however, I had no stretch marks this time around! Just sheer, unbridled joy at this astounding creation I now hold in my hands - a book God consistently nudged me to write about my journey to finally get serious about my prayer life and my relationship with Him. I'm still pinching myself to believe it's really happening!

I wasn't expecting the books for a couple of weeks yet since they don't officially release until August 2nd. But this morning, Ken noticed the UPS man leaving a package on our front porch, so he snuck out there, grabbed the box, then tip-toed into my office to surprise me. We both squealed like a couple of kids, jumping up and down, laughing, crying, hugging (did I mention there was squealing?) - all while he was still holding this humongous 36 pound box of books!

It's funny the things you think about at times like this. For me, I couldn't help thinking of my mother who's now with the Lord. Mom was an author too, and I know how proud she would have been. Whenever Mom got choked up (as she so often did), her little chin wobbled like crazy. We used to tease her unmercifully about that trembling chin, one of her most lovable trademarks! I can only imagine the wobble-factor is off the charts if she's looking down on me today.

 I also remembered the time my YaYa Sistahs and I had our first weekend getaway at a bed & breakfast in Columbia, Georgia. The staff served us breakfast in our room that morning, setting up a table in front of the fireplace. Over eggs and bacon, croissant rolls, and steaming coffee, we had a precious time of sharing our dreams. Mine was to be a published author. And I distinctly remember that morning as the first time I really believed it was possible for that dream to come true - all because my YaYa's believed in me even more than I believed in myself.

I also thought of all the times Ken has encouraged me to follow this dream. It's been almost 20 years since I started seriously pursuing this author gig, though I've always loved to write. I've lost track of the multitude of rejections I've received through the years, and you don't even want to know how much money I've spent going to writers' conferences and buying books on getting published. But he was always supportive. And then there were the hours upon hours of story brainstorming he'd do with me. We've had a blast working together on plot ideas through the years. He has been the most amazing cheerleader, through all the ups and downs of this journey, and I would never have made it without him. Which is why I dedicated my first book to him. He had never seen my dedication until the books were delivered this morning. It reads "To Ken - Have I told you today how much I love you?" (one of those mushy things we say to each other all the time.) I loved showing that special page to him!

There's a whole boatload of marketing and promotions in the weeks and months ahead - all of them way out of my comfort zone, I assure you! But for now I'm going to bask in the joy of the moment, drool a little over the gorgeous book cover designed by our daughter Hannah . . . and spend some time on my knees, thanking God for making dreams come true.

Friends who know me, know I've been collecting flying pigs for several years. Yesterday, my incredibly sweet friend Sue Manginelli gave me the cutest little glass-blown pig with wings to help celebrate my upcoming book release. (He's the tiny little guy sitting on the book on the right.) I was blown away, because she knows I always figured I'd get published . . . "when pigs fly!" Well, my friends, today the pigs are a-flyin'!!!