A COVER NOW REVEALED

ANNOUNCING MY NEW BOOK, NEVER RETREAT, TO BE PUBLISHED IN MARCH 2018, BY Imajin Books.  A feisty single mom clashes with an ex-military, macho corporate star at a business retreat in the wild Colorado mountains, where only one can win a huge prize. But when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, they learn the meaning of true partnership.

I’ll be organizing some give-aways as well as the opportunity to receive a e-copy for those interested in preparing reader reviews for online sites. Contact me at Bonnie@BonnieMcCune.com if you’re interested.

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Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Green?

eye

Through chance, not planning, I have the great fortune right now of being able to escape an eight-to-five job.  With this flexibility, I’ve turned to writing fiction, which always has been my goal.  But the strangest thing happened.  The freer my time and more open my schedule, the less motivated and more depressed I became.  It got to the point I couldn’t answer the simple question “how are you?” and I avoided talking to friends and family.  No project seemed important enough to complete.  I dreamed up excuses to slump in a chair reading or click through television stations searching for something, anything, to fill my time.  

What was wrong?  Was my iron low?  Supplements didn’t help.  Did I have an undiagnosed mental malady?  I still cracked jokes left and right when I found myself in a group.  Was I just getting old and experiencing a decline?  I knew plenty of people my age and older who were still going strong. 

The answer, or at least an answer finally came to me at a meeting.  Every woman who spoke seemed to be traveling or working on an exciting project or changing the world for the better.  I was envious of every single person there.  This didn’t make sense, I thought.  I’d never felt this way before.  

That’s because I’d previously always been super-busy.  Held down a full-time job, wrote in my spare time, volunteered with several groups, went places with my husband, saw friends regularly.  But since my self-imposed isolation, I mostly had contact just with myself. 

No one, not even an independently wealthy super-introvert (which I’m not), can survive with no external stimulation.  We’re human beings, and we need interaction with others.  We require the give-and-take, the ebb-and-flow of life around us, or else we stagnate.  That’s what was happening.  I was stagnating.  As Bob Dylan wrote years ago, “He not busy being born is busy dying.”  

With that realization, I’ve begun reconnecting with old acquaintances, attending an occasional event I usually avoid, becoming involved with a group whose work I support.  I no longer forget what day it is because my calendar has a variety of engagements for me to keep.  And they’re not all dental or doctor appointments.  

Jealousy is supposed to be a green-eyed monster.  But in my case, envy sparked a major improvement in my life I might not have achieved otherwise.

To Your Health, Part II (the really rocky road)

??????????????????????????????? While I’ve adjusted to my chronic health condition, an auto-immune disease so rare that only 400 people in the US have been diagnosed with it in the past 20 years, I still struggle with facing death. Eventually it will come, whether with warning or not; and I hope it’s far in the future, after I finish the 20 or so novels I have planned.

But I have a number of friends who are living with much more serious diagnoses. As I’ve watched them move first from verdict to acceptance, I think they become more aware of the “one day at a time” philosophy and value the flow of life and the good things they have. One man, whose relationship with us extends over many years but has been extremely casual, now takes the time to add a word of thanks for a meeting. Several others now meditate regularly and mention the peace and joy they gain.

Perhaps once you’ve faced death, you don’t fear it. I think about other extreme situations that can occur in life—divorce, getting fired, going broke. I know (from some experience as well as observation) before these incidents happen, you can feel terrified, paralyzed. After you get through them, you no longer panic.

So I’m trying to view the cycle of life and death as a propitious* AFGO. That’s the term coined by a former boss for every new challenge—Another Freakin’ Growth Opportunity. Live and learn, right?

* Propitious: favorable, auspicious.

TO YOUR HEALTH, Part I

Can poor health be a blessing in disguise?

I’ve begun asking myself this question as I faced some thorny changes in my own wellbeing, caused by nothing I did nor anything a doctor could pinpoint.  I’ve always been disgustingly fit with the exception of a little extra weight.  I gave up smoking years ago, ate well, and maintained a schedule of fairly active exercise.  In spite of doing all the right things, I developed an autoimmune condition (I refuse to call it a “disease”) affecting my legs, which no treatment can cure.

The first thing people usually do immediately after a confronting a negative situation like this—right after denial, of course—is to ask “why me?”  I skipped that stage, believing that most occurrences in life result from random chance rather than a superior being who’s directing the universe and is susceptible to appeals.  Still who can be happy if your body doesn’t respond to commands and discomfort is constant?  Not I.  

I do know that several broken bones and a major root canal convinced me that good health is better than any kind of drugs.  It’s the most important contributor to our quality of life.  So when I fell over cliff of a chronic ailment, I expected my life was pretty much ruined.  

I was wrong.  A chronic malady can bring unexpected benefits.  One is that I’ve learned to push through or over physical discomfort, a kind of personal challenge much like glorying in the labor and delivery of child birth.  Another is valuing the present moment while I still can move with some ease to take walks, ride bikes, and dance, which may be limited in the future.  

The biggest benefit is realizing that I’m experiencing a bit of what many people go through.  No longer do I pooh-pooh the pain of arthritis, question the distress of a bad back or knees, overlook the irritation of sinus problems.  These tribulations are part of the human condition for many, and I’m no longer exempt.  I understand my fellow creatures better.  

So I try to view my troubles as learning disguised as a life event.  And as long as they’re not life-threatening, I can deal with them. Would I react differently if my condition was portentous*? I’ll ponder that question next.  

*Portentous: very serious and significant, especially with regard to future events.

Nosy Nelly Snoops With No Shame

The books that stick in my memory are those that have real people in real life situations, even if they’re fantasies or mysteries. They face problems, defeat them or are defeated by them, live, learn, change. I love immersing myself in their stories, and I laugh or cry with them. Years ago I rode the bus while reading A Tale of Two Cities, and tears streamed down my face when Sydney Carton faced the guillotine. I bonded instantly with a woman pouring over The Joy Luck Club while waiting for car repairs.

In other words, I’m a Nosy Nelly. This antiquated term means someone who’s so interested in other people’s business that she sticks her nose in everywhere. Since I don’t dare indulge myself by peeping in my neighbors’ windows, I restrict myself to books. Since my life has a finite limit and I’m not a time traveler, books let me make endless trips to fascinating eras and equally entrancing personalities. Since I’m not a millionaire, I don’t spend a penny on my voyages through books.

Visual artists enable their viewers to see things in a new way. They open their eyes. In the same manner, writers enable their readers to think about the world and life in new ways. They open their minds. So my cupidity* for knowing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people brings me rewards in addition to entertainment. How could I learn how a soldier in Viet Nam dealt with the armed conflict except through The Things They Carried? Catch a glimpse of a future I hope we can avoid in The Hunger Games? Get a sense of an immigrant’s situation in London in the course of White Teeth?

I’m neither limited to a single lifetime nor restricted in any other way. That’s why I read.

*Cupidity: greed, strong desire