Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


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Summer Spotlight: Yolanda McAdam

I feel very privileged indeed to be part of Jill’s wonderful Summer Spotlight Series! I have enjoyed getting to know you all.

Ok so a little about me…

Hi I’m Yolanda and I was born and raised in South Africa to Portuguese immigrants. My parents’ marriage was spectacularly unsuccessful (no adjective can truly describe how awful it was). One of my earliest memories is of my dad arriving home from a night out on the town (he was a notorious gambler and womaniser) to a barrage of verbal insults and flying plates. The trouble you see is they were both far too young and too tempestuous for a serious commitment like marriage. When eventually they parted ways (in very dramatic fashion – locks changed, suitcases left outside, father hammering on windows, police intervention) my father moved to another city and my mother went on to live the life of a single lady.

My sister and I were mostly raised by our grandparents. I started working ‘to pay my own way’ at fourteen years of age. At the time of course, I was resentful of the fact that I had to work if I wanted Corn Flakes for breakfast or a Duran Duran cassette. By the time I was twenty I had worked as a wedding photographer’s assistant (great job – when I think back I can still sometimes smell the chemicals in that dark room), waitress, receptionist and dental hygienist.

Eventually I saved up enough money for university and went on to major in Counselling Psychology but I didn’t practice until I was in my early thirties. Although I now work in marketing I am and always will be passionate about the benefits of therapy and personal development.

Writing has always been an escape of sorts for me. I write to make sense of my thoughts and my feelings and I also write to make sense of the world. I started writing stories when I was eleven or so and I would share them with my friends and one of my English teachers who was very encouraging of my future career as a romance novelist. In high school I had a number of my poems (very dark, mostly inspired by dead poets like Owens and Plath) published in the year books. I should have gone on to become a famous poet or a Mills & Boon author (I have a high school friend who went on to do be just that) instead I went to work for ‘Big Corporate’ and got caught up in ‘making money’. My blog, Scribblings, is my way of committing to the craft of writing – expect to read random posts on thoughts about family, nature and life. There was a time I felt a sense of extreme urgency to ‘get published’ thinking at the time that I was ‘a prodigy’ waiting to be discovered, but countless rejections have since proved otherwise. Now all that matters to me is that I write something that moves people.

What celebrity do you get mistaken for?

John Stamos. I think it’s the dimples. Also I have had more than one male friend tell me I look like Mariah Carey. You should know said friends were not sober at the time and this was back in the early 90s when I still had a big voice. Um, big hair.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I would love to play the guitar. My eldest son plays beautifully but is an impatient teacher and I have short, stubby fingers. I love dancing and find it impossible to sit still when some Guitarra Latina is on the radio (or Spotify and Songza) for example but I move to just about any beat.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

My sister and I spent many happy hours baking mud pies and climbing trees in the African sun. I used to entertain myself, my younger sister and my friends with tales of wild adventure. I read Enid Blyton growing up, so there was always the possibility wasn’t there, of finding buried treasure in our backyard or that our neighbours were smugglers (despite living in a land-locked city)?
I miss the innocence. I miss my childhood friends, most of whom were boys. Two of them died in their teens in car accidents. I miss reading comic books and looking cool doing so. Nowadays you’re a nerd if you happen to know the difference between Green Lantern and Green Arrow. I miss that feeling of rolling in cool mud on a hot summer’s day. We (kids) were always dirty. I wish more parents embraced dirt and encouraged their children to run around in nature barefoot. I miss being small enough in the bathtub pretending I was a mermaid. I miss holding my breath underwater (now I just worry I’ll stop my heart). I miss the smell of ozone just before a Summer thunderstorm.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

I would have to say that following my heart was the hardest thing I have ever done (oh how cliché I hear you say)  My husband and I intended to move to Canada soon after getting married (20 something years ago) but family members were understandably upset at the prospect of us moving and we allowed ourselves to be held back. If we have any regret now is that we didn’t move sooner. We love North America.

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

Refrigeration. I know… I should have gone with ‘The printing press’ because what would life be without books and more books but I really do love my swanky refrigerator. So do my boys. I’m all for things that make my life easier like the internet and email and plumbing – oh yes, plumbing. I am very grateful for plumbing.

Thank you for reading.

Thanks for taking the spotlight, Yolanda. I love your thoughts on getting published, I feel the same. Up next week it’s Sherri Matthews.


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Summer Spotlight: Shel Harrington

 Over the past few months, I’ve really enjoyed getting to see who’s behind those miniature pictures next to the comments on Jill’s blog. I feel privileged to be able to have the same opportunity to show you there is more to me than red glasses and a “You’re kidding, right?” facial expression. Thanks, Jill!

Living in a house named Dragonroost with my beloved spouse of almost 37 years, I spend most of the work day practicing Family Law. You know – divorce, custody, child support, etc. About 20% of my practice is representing children whose parents are going through divorce or custody disputes. It’s a world that has touched most of us in one way or another. While there are often rainy days in that world, there’s a lot of positive work to be done and, as you can imagine, it is rife with blog fodder!

As if the day job’s not enough of that stuff, I’m an adjunct professor teaching Family Law at a law school in Oklahoma City. I also authored a book for attorneys on the subject. And that is why, when reading for pleasure, I most often retreat into fast-paced thrillers and suspense novels that allow total escapism.

My writing life began at an early age with reams of bad poems, angsty essays, and dramatic diary entries that kept my mother on her toes for years (I thought the woman was psychic!). I always felt like I was ‘suppose’ to write, but squelched the notion as I dealt with the heavy reading and writing requirements of my profession. Until about eight years ago. That’s when I started going to writing conferences for the sole purpose of doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I learned, grew, met like-minded people and got motivated.

But I disdained social media. I thought blogs were on-line diaries. Hearing about people tweeting each other made me giggle like a 5th grader hearing the word ‘penis.’ And Facebook entries were things I used as evidence in custody battles.

Finally, upon hearing for the 193rd time that a writer can’t make it today without having a social media presence, I bit the bullet. I signed up for Facebook December 2012 and was delighted to learn that it could be used for other things besides making a public ass out of oneself. By this time I knew that blogs could be a wonderful way to communicate and, having a passion for talking about how NOT to get divorced, I started the ShelHarrington.com blog. After a year of enjoying the benefits of getting out info, getting in helpful feedback, and connecting with other bloggers and readers, my best friend and I started another blog to stay connected from our respective states and to poke fun at where we are in life. It’s called Fat-Bottom-Fifties Get Fierce. While you don’t have to be over 50 or have a fat bottom to hang out with us there, a sense of humor is mandatory. Although I don’t care who knows I co-author it, my name is nowhere to be seen on the site. It is my assumption that when potential clients Google my name they would prefer to see references to what a fierce attorney I am rather than references to my age and body type.

Taking on Twitter is on my to-do list. I plan to get right on that. As soon as I can say “tweet me” with a straight face.

And now for the Q and A portion of our program.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Two events tie for that distinction. First, early into my marriage, my husband and I moved from suburbia – a Michigan world where we had spent our entire lives surrounded by family and friends – to the alien land of Oklahoma where we knew no one and worked opposite shifts because we only had one car. My first week in Oklahoma I heard “I’m Proud to be an Okie from Miscogee” about 32 times, experienced the horror of a half-mile wide tornado coming toward our apartment with no idea where to take shelter, and had to deal with a surprise visit from a nude Peeping Tom. [When the police questioned me regarding the latter incident, I explained that he was so close to my window that I could only see him from chest to knees. They asked for a description. Really? I again explained the limited portion of him that I had seen. When they asked the same question for a third time, in frustration I snapped: “Apparently he was brunette with naturally curly hair.” Who knew a cop could turn so red??] Months later, in an attempt to alleviate the saturating loneliness, I looked through the phone book and found a person with my unusual maiden name, called him up and asked if he had relatives on the east coast. The surprised responder said he thought so. It was a short conversation.
The second event was being diagnosed last year with invasive lobular breast cancer. While there were some emotional and physical hurdles to jump, the most difficult part of that situation was seeing the pain in the eyes of those who loved me and knew they couldn’t fix it for me, and knowing I couldn’t fix that for them.
Both events were filled with blessings, lessons learned, amazing people, enhanced faith, incredible growth and positive outcomes. I wouldn’t have chosen either. Nor would I change anything.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

Picking one of anything isn’t my strong suit. I would love to hang out with Barbara Bush, Jimmy Carter, Pope Francis, and Ted Koppel. Not because of religion or politics, but in spite of them. When I analyzed my choices, I realized the common denominators were that each comes across as a straight-shooter, humble, compassionate, authentic and has a broad-world view because of their life experiences that I am fascinated by. I listened to books on tape by Jimmy Carter and Barbara Bush that they read themselves. When they were over, especially with regard to Barb’s (as I came to think of her), I was saddened that my new friend would not be driving to work with me anymore.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

The certainty that adults are good, right, and know everything. What a rude awakening that was to find out how human they all were. And what jerks some of them were.
I also miss how big everything was. For instance, when we would visit New Bedford, Massachusetts as kids, one whole day would be devoted to going over to the “French side” of town to visit my mother’s relatives, then over to the “Portuguese side” of town to see my father’s relatives. We stayed a half-hour or so and drove all the way to the next stop for another half hour, covering six or seven relatives on a good day. Visiting as an adult, I was appalled how everything had shrunk. Apparently everyone lives within blocks of each other. And their houses had gotten smaller, too.

What do you think the greatest invention has been?

Hay balers. For round bales. Seeing a field full of randomly placed hayrolls absolutely makes my day. Hayrolls bathed in sunlight, hayrolls shrouded in morning haze, hayrolls sillouetted against a sunset streaked sky . . . I am ridiculously smitten with hayrolls. And I’m pretty sure I can be heard for miles around at the end of the season doing one of those slow-motion “nooooooooooooooooooo” wails as the hayrolls start to form lines in preparation for being sold, moved, or winterized in white plastic jackets like jumbo marshmallows.
The ‘cut and paste’ feature on a word processor is a close second.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Zip off witty retorts that would knock people’s socks off in the moment instead of receiving the brilliant insight after the phone has been hung up, the person has walked away, or the party is over.

Thank you so much for participating in the spotlight, Shel. You were great…as I knew you would be! I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Up next week it’s Yolanda McAdam.


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Summer Spotlight: Maria aka Brickhousechick

 71546_771273103591576898_oMoochas Gracias Jill, for letting me take part in this fun Summer Spotlight Series. Although summer is officially and sadly over, I am happy to be featured during this most delightful autumn month. You have yourself some fascinating and talented followers, Señorita Jill! I have enjoyed reading their bios and learning about their accomplishments and hobbies.

I call myself brickhousechick, not only because of my mighty proportions and dimensions (ahem), but mostly because I have weathered several devastating storms throughout my life and I am still alive and kicking (and kicking some more).

Some of these storms have nearly crushed me to pieces and pulverized me to the ground. Yet somehow, my brick exterior and stubborn demeanor have managed to protect me, thus far. For this, I am quite grateful.

I am the happiest when I am laughing, eating, dancing and drinking Sangria. My favorite song to dance to is none other than, Brick House by The Commodores.

I was born in Puerto Rico and came to live in the US at the age of 9. I didn’t know English when I arrived but was able to pick it up quickly. I am fully bilingual and have noticed that as I age, my first language (Spanish) dominates, particularly when I am angry or in distress. As a result, I am proud to be able to swear like a sailor, in my native language.

I studied Psychology in college and have always been fascinated with human behavior. I like to try to understand what drives people to behave the way they do (when I figure it out, I will let you know.) Naturally, I ended up working in the banking industry for 11 years, after I graduated. I can’t think of a better environment in which to practice my schooling than stone buildings filled with catatonic anal-retentive, rule following co-workers as well as schizophrenic and usually angry, bank customers. Often times, it is through experiences that the real educating takes place.

I live in a fairly recent emptied-out nest with my remarkable husband who didn’t realize he was marrying the queen of “high maintenance”. My two wonderful kids are in college and must be missing me like crazy, right about now.

Ay, where did the time go? I better get to answering Jill’s questions.

1) Is there anything about the opposite sex you just don’t understand or comprehend? How much space do I get for my answer? I don’t understand and/or comprehend how my (I don’t want to generalize) significant other, after 25 years of marriage and 10 dating, still makes the same mistakes over and over again. In particular, commenting on my food portions and telling me that I will never be able to finish my meals. “Don’t fill up on bread or you won’t be able to finish your meal”, says he. Hello? For crying out loud, when have I ever not been able to finish a meal?

2) What celebrity do you get mistaken for? She is not a star per say, but I have been told that I look like journalist, Elizabeth Vargas. When I was younger, people (mostly my mom) told me that I looked like Elizabeth Taylor. I guess I should have been named Elizabeth.

3) What do you miss most about being a kid? After answering question #1, would you be surprised if I said I miss eating everything and anything without gaining weight? As a toddler, I actually went through a period where I did not want to eat (imagine that?) and my parents had to trick me and force feed me. I think that phase only lasted a day or two and then I was cured. I miss eating Pop Tarts, Frosted Flakes, Squirt-on cheese, Cheez Whiz and SteakUms. Those were the days…

4) What is the hardest thing you have ever done? Without getting too serious, although this question screams seriousness, giving birth and fighting a serious illness, are up there. I can actually say however, that neither of those was as hard as my attempt at saving my 19 year-old niece from herself. I took her into my home, gave her unconditional love, sacrificed my relationship with my own daughter, provided her with all the professional help available to her and lost myself along the way. To no avail. She is currently living in the streets and does not want to be saved. I do not regret trying, but damn was it hard.


5) If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
There is a lot more learning to be had, let me tell you. As they say (who is they anyway?), it is never too late to learn something new. Now that my nest is empty and much cleaner than when the chicks were in it, I have a list of activities and things I would like to try. There is no ONE thing, just a whole lot of things. Some of these include learning to speak Italian, learning the Art of Meditation, cooking exotic foods, eating exotic foods, making exotic cocktails, drinking exotic cocktails and while I am at it, writing a book.

Enjoy your weekend and thank you for reading!

Thank you for taking the spotlight, Maria. You’re an inspiration to those of us living with a chronic illness. Up next week, it’s Shel Harrington.


127 Comments

Summer Spotlight: Pauline King

In a serendipitous turn of events Jill gave me my guest post spot on my birthday. Not just any old annual event either, a momentous birth anniversary. The one where society deems you ‘a senior citizen’. An older person, a past-your-best person – an old age pensioner, a retiree, a person with no place left to go but down..

Yes, I have reached the age of 65, from today I am officially retired and now all my time every day is mine and mine alone. Happy dance!! Tango, waltz, hip-hop, jive or jazz – dance with me, celebrate with me – I have never felt younger, or more together, or more content. I laugh out loud everytime someone says the word ‘retired’. I feel like I am playing a monumental trick on the world – I now get paid by the government to live every day with nothing to do but make myself happy?

Really?

Bring it on!!

So please – enjoy a sip of champagne, a glass of wine or a shot of whatever you fancy. Help yourself to a tasty morsel of your favourite cheese. Have some of these fresh strawberries….. please, do take a slice of double chocolate gateau birthday cake while you have a quick read.

I’m not a writer – I’m a tad imposterish here amongst you lot – these denizens of the written word. But I do love books and I do love language and I love a good story! I’m a crafter, a creator, a mixed media painter. I do over, do up and make do. I recycle and upcycle, but no longer bicycle.

I started my blog ‘The Contented Crafter‘ eighteen months ago. I knew little about the blogging world or how it operated. I’d read some blogs of artists and a couple that friends keep about their professional lives. My intention in starting my blog was simply to keep a record of the creations that were coming out of my craft room because, as a reckless and totally in the moment creator, once given away there was no recall, no reminder, no sequence to refer back to.

I soon found myself blogging about other events in my life apart from my creative work – I wrote a post about my cats addiction to Catnip, another entitled ‘I Like Blogging’, yet another about a shocking meeting in a store, one about my traumatic early years, all interspersed with a variety of work that recorded a definite progress from one genre to another.

The whole experience has been a bit like Topsy – and just keeps right on growing! It is fun, it is lively, it keeps me [almost] artistically on track and has delivered some lovely new friends into my life – I still love blogging!

 I live a busy life – though there was just me and my Maine Coon cat Orlando until recently. Then I adopted a Shih-Tzu X boy I named [in a moment of inappropriate grandeur] Sid-Arthur, a play on Siddhartha because I thought he was quiet and gentle and deep. I was wrong!

Two months have passed by though, and now he is pretty much the best puppy in the whole entire world and blogging stopped being about anything else much except him. If you do decide to pop in for a visit you will surely meet my boys.

Now to Jill’s questions:

If you could learn to do anything what would it be?
Dance. Any and all kinds of dance. I am a ballerina, an accomplished ballroom dancer, a whizz at jazz and contemporary dance. All in my imagination. I dance every day – but it is the boppy, dippy kind of dancing you do in the privacy of your own home when nobody is watching.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Learn to be contented with life as it is in any given moment. Learn to live and breathe and work with joy. Learn to see that my cup is always, and at least, half full. It’s taken a life time and is still in process.

If you could visit anyplace in the world where would it be?

I’d choose to go back to Italy and the Meditterranean countries – I love the vibrancy, the passion, the community and the life style! I love the way the people shout and wave their arms about and gesticulate when two scooters almost collide. I love the way everybody disappears at midday and reappears three hours later. I love the art, the architecture, the rolling green hills and vineyards, the markets and the history. I love the warmth of the people and the crazy volubility of families interactions– and I love how mama gets to rule the roost!

Life as an animal – which one?
A pampered, over-indulged and much loved cat! There’s brushing and petting and stroking and eating all done at a leisurely pace between bouts of sleeping in the best spots in the house. What a great life it is – and you get to live it with a look of disdain and a flick of the tail for all unwelcome intrusions on your comfort level as well!

Is there anything about the opposite sex that you just don’t understand?
Someone else has answered this question in this way before: ‘Everything!’
I love men. I love the company of men and their intellects. I love their humour and their practicality. But I don’t understand their inability to solve all the problems of the world whilst in the shower. This is clearly a fault in the mechanism and would have been grounds for an instant recall had the creator been a woman!

Thanks so much Jill, for this opportunity to meet so many new people. I have enjoyed reading every week and have visited where possible, though there have been times when life has interrupted my blogging!

Thank you for taking the spotlight, Pauline. Congratulations on your retirement, I know you’re going to love it! Up next week, it’s Maria…aka Brickhouse Chick.