Sugar’s Lessons for Life


With the release of my fifth book Sugar’s Night, the third in the Sugar Series, I guess some would say I’m an author. I guess I’ve never considered myself an author as much as I’ve considered myself a writer. The funny part is I never had any intention to become either. I’ve always liked to write, but never to the point that I felt an uncontrollable urge to get these characters out of my head into the pages of a book. But in the winter of 2011, after I underwent the amputation of my left leg, it was like they were set free. Now, I’m not claiming that the anesthesia went to my brain and when I awoke I was a literary genius. It’s more that with the loss of my leg, it freed the rest of me. It freed me to leave that part of my past behind and look forward to a new future. With that future came a lot of souls vying for release. I suddenly become obsessed, and I do mean obsessed just ask my family, with getting them out of my head and onto the pages. I needed to tell their story and, to be honest, after that I really didn’t have a clue what I’d do with them, but I needed to write them down. 

The first soul who found her way onto the page was Sugar DuBois. She’s a ballroom dance instructor from the Twin Ports of Lake Superior and her story started in 2011. To say writing Sugar’s Dance was cathartic would be very accurate, and I felt very satisfied SugarsNightwhen I hit publish on her story in fall of 2011, at least for a few days. Then I started to feel like maybe her story wasn’t done, so I wrote the next part of her journey, Sugar’s Song, and when I hit publish on that I knew there was one more to be written. She hadn’t found her light yet, and I knew her story wasn’t told until she did. So, I sat down to write Sugar’s Night. Sugar’s Night was filled with a lot of turmoil for me; partly because my life was very much in turmoil as I tried to write it and partly because it was the last book of the series. I needed to tell her story, and I needed to do her justice and make everyone feel satisfied with her final dance. I couldn’t do it. What I had imagined the book to be is a far cry from what it actually is. When I finished the book I set it aside and really pondered if I would even publish it as it stood. I was very much in a no faith stage. No faith in myself, no faith in the reader and no faith in Sugar. I sent the book out to a couple of trusted readers and held my breath, for days, while I waited to hear what I knew they would say, they hated it. When the e-mails started coming in it was very much the opposite and although they gave me some great tips and ways to make the story stronger, as a whole they all agreed it was perfect. Perfect except for one thing, the ending. Oh boy, the ending, the grand finale, the clincher at the end of the series! And they didn’t like it? Well, no, that wasn’t actually the case at all. They loved it, they just didn’t like that it ended. So, I pondered and prayed and found the solution that I think will make all the readers happy in the long run.

So as I ponder the “Noah didn’t see the rain either” moments with Sugar’s Night I understand deeply that she’s taught me a lot about being a writer, but I’m still not that good of an author. I guess mostly because if I have to choose between promoting my books and writing, the souls that want out always win and I continue to be the writer. Maybe someday I will be a better author than a writer, but I hope not, because when and if that happens then it’s time to hang up my pen because for me it’s always about writing first and publishing second. Sugar has also taught me a lot about myself, my life, my dreams and my fears and I will always be thankful for that. 

Here are the top ten things Sugar has taught me: 

  1. Don’t live in the past. It’s a dark place filled with things you can’t change that only bog you down.
  2. Don’t blame yourself for things you can’t control. There is never anything good at the end of that road.
  3. Take time to tell the people you love how much they mean to you. Never assume there will be a tomorrow.
  4. Forget about what you THINK you should be doing and do what you KNOW you should be doing, personally and professionally.
  5. Build a support system of friends and family who will always be there whether you are laughing or crying.
  6. Never assume that because you are handicapped you can’t live your dreams. They are YOUR dreams and therefore YOU know how to achieve them. Don’t let the words “I can’t” become your motto.
  7. A good legman is worth his weight in gold. 🙂
  8. Always, always, always have faith in yourself. You are who you are for a reason, embrace it.
  9. Have hope, all day every day.
  10. Love often, forgive easily, cry together, and keep your heart open to all the new opportunities that await you.

Blessings this holiday season from me, Sugar and her gang. And now these three remain; faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is…..to be continued.

Legato_28June2012_BRFMHAbout Katie Mettner

Katie Mettner grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and moved to the Northwoods where she now resides with her husband and three children. As a young adult Katie enjoyed ballroom dancing and like Sugar she didn’t let her physical limitations hold her back from what she loved. Katie writes The Sugar Series, Sugar’s Dance and Sugar’s Song, a Christian romance series. Her stories are a reflection of her love for family intricately woven with life experience. When the gales of November blow early you can find her at the computer with a cup of joe, listening to Michael Bublé and working on Sugar’s next adventure. 

Amazon E-book $2.99 and paperback $12 

Barnes and Noble E-book $2.99

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Hope Will Persevere


Last week on any given news channel or social media page you saw the image of a young couple caught on camera as the woman gave her husband a piggyback ride. This couple turned out to be Jesse and Kelly Cottle, and Jesse is a double above-knee amputee Marine who was getting a ride back to his legs from his wife Kelly. The image we saw was of a couple in love, and I think for many people it was a sign of hope. Hope for the world and hope for the human race. 

Katie_S_8040_1editedAs an amputee myself I saw so much more. I sat down to write a blog post about it and when I asked Sarah Ledford for permission to use the photo, she sent me three. The last one was a photo many haven’t seen, but for me it finished their story. It said, “We will stand tall against whatever the world throws at us. We will persevere.” Ability Dynamics was kind enough to host my blog post because they too believe in hope. Hope for a better foot for amputees so their amputation doesn’t limit their life. I can assure you Jesse Cottle certainly hasn’t let his amputations limit him. People like Jesse and Kelly Cottle show us all how to live life without limitations. Let me hear a HOORAH! 

Read the full blog post here.

Editor’s Note: The previous post was submitted from my dear friend, Katie Mettner, who is one of the most remarkable, amazing, sexy and inspiring women I have ever known. Katie, thank you and the Cottles for giving all of us a little hope. You really inspire me!!!

New Book Alert: The Prince of Pigeons


Hi guys, I just wanted to let you know about my dear friend Rebecca Scarberry’s new book, The Prince of Pigeons. I’d really appreciate my readers picking up a copy of this book, Dove in the air with wings wide openreading it and leaving a short review. I know how hard Rebecca has worked getting her books published and I know she would appreciate all the readers and feedback she can get.

Anyway, in The Prince of Pigeons, a great love story, set in England, Evelyn and Tammy meet two handsome Englishmen at a ceremony to present Henry with an award in Oregon, and a brief romance ensues, cut short when the men return to Britain. However, an offer from a developer to buy the women’s farms gives the two women the chance to travel, and Henry the chance to race in England.

You can buy The Prince of Pigeons on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Becky on Oregon beachAbout Rebecca Scarberry

I was born and raised in southern California and now living on a non-working farm in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas. I retired at the age of 45, when I moved to Rogue River, Ore. I have been writing fiction since the age of 37. I have been an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction since I was 12, but it wasn’t until the age of 37 that I got serious about writing fiction. This is when my husband and I wrote a screenplay. I am also an artist (scrimshaw). Check out Rebecca’s blog and follow her on Twitter.

Seeing Through God’s Eyes – A Re-Post


Every so often we meet someone who opens our eyes to a different view of the world or changes our perspective about people and the way society works. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Michelle Dobbins for a few months on Twitter, and she has really opened my eyes and has made me see that we are all human and we are all perfectly made in God’s eyes. Michelle has definitely earned my respect and is a true angel on Earth. She was gracious enough to share a very inspiring story with my readers earlier this week about her cousin Brian, that almost made me cry. I truly hope you like this post that Michelle has allowed me to re-post from her blog. I hope after reading that everyone sees yourself through God’s eyes. I also hope you will visit her blog and tell her Jason sent you. Michelle, God bless you for uplifting so many lives and changing the world, one heartfelt word at a time.

What Would Happen If We See With God’s Eyes?

Once I heard a woman describing how she was standing in a checkout line at a store, next to a woman who had been disfigured by fire. She turned to put her items on the counter and when she looked at the woman again, she was perfect. All of the lady’s burn scars were gone. This woman had the gift of seeing the perfection that existed within the burn victim. This made me wonder, how wonderful would it be to see everyone as God sees them? Not to see the scars, the extra weight, the wrinkles, or the fashion disasters that might cause me to judge. What would it be like to only see the perfect light of God that lives within each of us when I looked at someone?

photoI began to intend for this to happen and I asked myself more questions. How fun would it be to see everyone as God sees them? How would my interactions change if this happened? How much bliss would I feel? Would others be able to sense that I saw God in them? What would our world be like if we all saw everyone as God sees them?

I assumed that I would see everything like I was Shallow Hal. In this movie, Shallow Hal saw everyone for the true beauty within them. Some who were really pretty appeared ugly and lots of nice, but unattractive girls appeared gorgeous. I figured I would see everyone as gorgeous movie stars, because I believe we all have God’s light in us somewhere, even if we try to cover it up. Heavy people would be thin. Everyone would have smooth, peaches and cream skin. All of people’s flaws would be gone in my eyes, and I would see them as the beautiful beings that God sees them as.

One day, I was feeling quite blissed out from meditation and I went to Wal-Mart to do some shopping. It happened! I saw everyone in this store as the radiant creations that God must see them as. Here’s the twist: They weren’t any different. They all looked the same. They still had crooked noses, missing teeth, polyester pants, etc., but guess what? They looked beautiful! Glorious! Just as they were. So in order for me to see people with God’s eyes, the way they appeared didn’t change my idea of beautiful, I just saw them as beautiful they way they were. I had the best shopping experience of my life. People were nice, I found everything easily, the lines moved quickly and my checkout clerk was a doll. Yes, I was in Wal-Mart.

I don’t always have this experience, but I know how to create it now and it’s my intention to make it a habit. In fact, that’s my main New Year’s Resolution for 2013; to see myself and others as God sees us as much as I can.

Michelle 2012I hope you get a chance to see yourself as God does, because I can say for certain that you are more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Love and Miracles,

Michelle

About Michelle Dobbins

Michelle Dobbins is a pre-published author, who shares tips for positive living and true stories of magic, creation and love in everyday life on her blog. You can connect with her and get her Magic Question of the Day on Facebook and Twitter.

Author’s Roundtable: Maggie Thom


How long have you been writing?

Pretty much my whole life. I know as a young child I used to like to write. When I was about nine I wrote my first “novel.” It was a one-inch by one-inch size book that was about forty pages long, with maybe ten words per page. You get the picture… not much of a story. And from there I wrote off and on over the years.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Yes. I absolutely love writing. I think I might have been born with a pen in my hand. 🙂
 
What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have two published novels – Captured Lies and Tainted Waters.
 
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

CapturedLies - FINALCaptured Lies

She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead because of it….

Her life was a lie!

Bailey knew her upbringing wasn’t normal but she’s worked hard to stabilize her life. At 29, she finally has a good business, a stable home; her life is miles from that of her childhood. Then suddenly her mother dies, leaving a gaping hole and a discovery that they may not even be related. If Guy, the private investigator is to be believed, her life is a lie. Using the skills she learned on the streets, Bailey travels back through a sketchy and dangerous past to find answers. Dodging bullets, staying ahead of those who want her dead and convincing Guy she can do it alone are making it difficult to discover not only the secrets of her mother’s past, but that of a family claiming she is their’s.

Everyone seems to have a story… but who’s telling the truth? And who wants her dead? Is Guy part of the solution? Or part of the problem? To discover the facts, she’ll have to untangle a web of deceit, lies and secrets, dating back more than thirty years.

But can she do it in time…

Tainted Waters

He didn’t commit suicide but who’s going to believe her…

TaintedWaters800x1200Frustrated at being fired from her latest job and overwhelmed by her consolatory family, Sam decides to move to the family’s cabin at the lake. A place she hasn’t been since her dad committed suicide there twenty years before. Or did he? Snooping is something she’s good at but someone seems to be taking offense to her looking too closely at what has been happening at the lake. What she discovers is shocking. Now she must uncover what’s real and what’s not. All that she learned growing up may be false. Keegan, who has recently moved to the area to finish his latest book, is also trying to find out if his grandfather, who’d passed away ten years before, died of natural causes or was murdered? The descendants of the four families, who own the land around the lagoon, are dying off. Since Sam and Keegan are the only ones questioning the deaths, they find themselves working together to seek the truth. Are people being murdered? Who would benefit from their deaths? Why would there be barricades and armed guards at the north end of the lake? To stay alive, Sam and Keegan must find the answers and convince others, before more people are killed… including them.

“This is a book that will have you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think the story is over, think again.” Read Your Writes Book Reviews

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

The ideas for the books were things that just happened when several things came together at the right time. I love writing about family secrets and lies and what are the extremes of that. I like pushing the boundaries, and I love putting in twists and surprises.

Captured Lies – A plane flew low over us, and I wondered what if it crashed. I flew three times in three months (very different for me as I fly about once a year), and I watched a show about kids being kidnapped by their families. And I just started to play “what if.”

Tainted Waters – I have always been fascinated by people who have a cabin at the lake. And we had gone camping at a secluded, slough-like lake where we discovered big trucks drove by all night long, heading to a plant only a few miles away. And I just started to play “what if.”

Are the books based on personal experiences?

No. They for sure aren’t. However there are some real situations that led to the creating of them.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Write. Write. Write. And write some more. And at some point take the leap. Ask others what they think of the story. Plot is the most important – grammar, punctuation can all be fixed but you need to have a compelling storyline from start to finish.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

Editing is so important. You really need to make sure that not only do you go through your manuscript several times but that you get others to go through it as well. No matter what you are writing you need someone else looking it over who can catch all the spelling, the grammar, the punctuation.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Myself. I loved writing. I loved creating stories but I was always too worried about what others would think about what I wrote. Finally I realized that was what was holding me back. It wasn’t that my writing wasn’t good enough, it was that I was worried about being judged. So I took the leap. I’m learning as I go.

How do you find time to write your books?

I have always written whenever I could find five minutes. Now I try to write during the day when my family isn’t home. But I try to balance that with marketing my books. Sadly sometimes writing loses out.
 
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

It is definitely therapeutic. Often, it helps me work through issues, sometimes I’m aware of those issues and sometimes I’m not until I’ve written something about it. As for it being relaxing… sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. I think the act of writing is relaxing but when I get into my stories, and I have the characters going through a lot of stuff, I too tend to go through it. I laugh when they laugh, I cry when they cry, I jump when something scary happens. I love writing because it takes me on an adventure that I’m never really sure where that is going. I love it. It’s almost as exciting as reading a good novel.

Has writing made you a better person?

Interesting question. Not sure but I’m not sure who I’d be without it. And it for sure helps me work through issues and see things differently. I know it has awakened me to a whole new world. I am finding the confidence of being an author.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I love to read. I always have one, two or three books on the go. I just don’t always have the time to read them when I’d like to. I read all genres but I prefer suspense, thriller, fantasy, mysteries… I love the puzzle, the “who done it.” I like twists and turns in a story. I like surprises, never really knowing where this journey is going to take me.
 
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are how we get found, get noticed in this sea of writers and authors. Reviews are really a word of mouth that shouts out to the world about our work, our books, our stories. I’ll admit that before I became a published author I never did a review on the Internet. I didn’t think anyone would care what I thought. And I had no idea what to say. Now I realize how important they are. I just state what I feel about the book. I never write disparaging or “put-down” reviews. If I don’t like something I just state it wasn’t for me but I always try to put some positive. The author worked hard on that story and should be recognized for that. I make a point of writing reviews and helping out other authors any way I can. There are many people who do reviews and I am forever grateful for those who do take the time to do so. Not only do reviews make a difference in being found but it really helps an author understand how their work is being received. I always use reviews as a learning tool. 

Would you mind sharing an excerpt from your book?

Since Tainted Waters is on a Book Review Tour this week (June 27 to June 21), I’ll share an excerpt from it.

“Hello, George.”

“Hello, Harry. Did anyone see you come in?”

“No, I was careful but even if they did I could say I was doing a story on this funeral or something.”

George stared at the man he’d personally groomed. This alliance served him well. Or it had. He smiled. “Can I offer you something to drink?” He moved over to what looked like an elaborate and intricately designed and carved feature wall. With a quick press on an obscure point, a panel swung down, exposing a myriad of liquor and mixes.

“Scotch, if you have it please.” Harry walked over the plush, leather sofa and eased himself down, only to find himself plopping backwards. “Couch is damn low, George.”

“Sorry. You’re right. I really should replace it. I just don’t seem to have time to do anything about it.”

Harry waved it off like he was swatting a fly. Keeping his back to him, he poured the drink, while allowing a momentary reaction of clenching his teeth as his whole body stiffened. His eyes darkened. Turning, he put on an amicable smile as he walked across the plush black carpet, which muted the sound of his steps.

After handing the drink to him, he stepped back and leaned against his oak desk. “What can I do for you? It’s kind of a busy day for me.”

He took several gulps before answering. “Yeah. Well… I seem to have a bit of a problem.”

“Oh?”

Harry looked around suspiciously before moving forward, which was really just leaning his head forward, his bulk didn’t bend. He spoke in a hushed tone. “I know I’m not supposed to talk to you about this but…”

“What is it? You sound really stressed, what’s going on?”

He finished off his glass of scotch. “It would seem that Mr. Ozz isn’t happy with me.”

George’s eyes widened. “Oh. What did you do?”

“I didn’t do a damn thing. That little bitch you had me hire is who did something. She has caused me nothing but grief.”

“You mean, Sam? I’m so sorry, Harry. I was just doing a favor for an old friend. I didn’t think it would be that big a deal.”

“Well, it damn well is. I fired her ass a few days ago but it would seem that wasn’t enough for him. I need you to talk to him.”

“Oh no. I can’t. I really don’t want to get involved.”

He waved his empty glass indicating he wanted another one. George immediately complied. “Well you damn well are involved. It’s your fault she turned out to be such a busy-body and stuck her nose where it doesn’t belong. You need to get me back into his good books.”

“I don’t know why you think I could do that.”

“When he hired me and set me up as CEO to the newspaper, he got you to show me the ropes – how to look like I was born for that role, how to act sophisticated, how to handle myself with dignity and confidence. You made sure that everything worked out. I know you have connections and are well liked in this town. You are a respected businessman. You make things happen.” He held out his glass for a refill. “I need you to fix this problem. He makes things…” Harry leaned forward or as much as his bulk would let him and whispered, “go away. And I don’t want to be one of those things.”

Anything else you’d like to share that I didn’t ask?

Thank you to everyone who reads my books and keeps coming back for more. You are why I keep writing. 🙂 My third novel, Deceitful Truths, the companion novel to Captured Lies, will be out late 2013. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and/or Goodreads.

Maggie 3 - 337 x 431About Maggie Thom

Maggie Thom took the challenge and leapt off, leaving a full-time twenty-year career in management, to write full-time. After her initial panic that she might need a straight jacket, she published her first book Captured Lies in October 2012. And now is excited to release her second novel, Tainted Waters in April 2013. Her third book, Deceitful Truths (sequel to Captured Lies) will be available this fall. An avid reader and writer her whole life, she decided to break the monotony of wishing to be an author by making it happen. Married to her best friend, she is learning that humor, love and patience help her navigate her way through her twins’ teen years. Her motto: Escape to read and read to escape. Maggie Thom writes a fast paced thriller laced with romance that keeps the reader interested and on edge!” InDtale Magazine

Check out Maggie’s website, become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, check out her Goodreads author page, check her out on Google Plus and find out what piques her interest on Pinterest

Buy Tainted Waters on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony, Barnes and Noble, and Diesel

Buy Captured Lies on amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.uk, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony e-reader store and Diesel.

Souls Are Perfect


Souls Are Perfect

By Michelle Martin Dobbins 

In the Hamrick family, we’ve been blessed in many ways. We are a quite unique collection of people, and we have always been closer than most extended families. We have disagreements, and we have hurt each other unintentionally, but we always forgive. We hold family as important, and we get together often, even though we are scattered around the country and sometimes the planet. Homer and Roena Hamrick, my grandparents, knitted us tightly together.

My cousin, Brian, drew us in, too. Brian had cerebral palsy, and he spent his life in a wheelchair. He was a bright and shining light in our family, and we all loved him beyond measure. He loved music and was almost always smiling. When I was little, though, I was afraid of him. I was afraid of his chair and the sounds that he made, and I couldn’t understand him. I thought he was different from me.

BrianOne rainy afternoon with Brian changed how I saw him and the world forever. We were watching a parade, but as often happened in our town, the weather did not cooperate with the local festival. My aunt parked a camper along the parade route and the children watched the parade perched in the loft of the camper, peering out of the window. At one point in time, it was just me and Brian. He looked at me and clearly said, “Why are you afraid of me? I’m just like you, except that my body is different. It just doesn’t work the same way as yours.” Normally, I had difficulty understanding Brian’s words, but that day they rang our perfectly clear to me. He spoke to me from his heart. Although I was sometimes still shy around him, I learned something from him that day I will never forget.

I learned that all souls are perfect. Bodies can be disabled, minds can be damaged, and spirits can be crushed, but souls are created by God perfect and remain ever perfect. This knowledge welled up in me and overflowed as a desire to work with special-needs children. I went to college and spend eight years teaching special-needs children, until I left to have my own children. I loved my job, and I adored those kids. They lit me up. I saw my students differently than most people did. I connected with them on a soul level, and I could feel who they were. I didn’t see their disabilities. We can all do that with anyone if we try. I don’t know why we all come in to this life with different challenges, but I have experienced that many people who have physical or mental disabilities have stronger spirits. We all have challenges to bear, and people without apparent disabilities are no exception. We all have gifts to share, and people with disabilities are no exception. We are all more alike than different, so reach out and connect with everyone you can.

Brian died, unexpectedly, a few weeks after his fortieth birthday. Our family was sad to lose the person he was, but his perfect soul still exists and this gives us comfort. I am thankful for the love he shared with our family and how his spirit made us all closer to each other.

Michelle 2012About Michelle Dobbins

Michelle Dobbins is a pre-published author, who shares tips for positive living and true stories of magic, creation and love in everyday life on her blog. You can connect with her and get her Magic Question of the Day on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Michelle, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting my readers know that, yes, souls are perfectly and wholly made by God, and that we are indeed perfect in His eyes. We do all have something special to give, and I want to sincerely thank you for opening my eyes and showing me that everyone has their own struggles and difficulties. Sometimes I’m guilty of “assuming” that nothing is wrong with someone else, because I cannot physically see a disability. Thank you for your amazing gift that you’ve given me, the ability to see through to the soul of someone who’s truly a role model for others and has inspired not only me, but the countless students you’ve taught. God bless you.

Everyday Hero, Doing My Best


One of the things I get asked most often, especially if I am out taking pictures and writing an article for work about the local Veteran’s Day or Fourth of July parades on the Square is if I am a veteran. Most of the people who ask me are veterans themselves, currently on active duty overseas or having served in Korea, World War II or Vietnam. Now I can totally understand why they would ask… I’m in a wheelchair and could have suffered an injury fighting on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Jason BourneI really hate to “burst their bubble” and tell them that I’m not a veteran (in the most-common sense of the word), but after talking with several veterans the past five or six years, I’ve come to understand that, in truth, I really am a veteran of a much bigger war. The war of everyday life. Let me explain because I know you have that “deer in the headlight” look right about now, thinking “What is this guy talking about?”

As most of you who’ve followed my journey may know, and for those who just joined the journey, I was born with spina bifida and have been in a wheelchair for more than 25 years. Every day when I get out of bed, I’m fighting some kind of battle, whether it be an aching back, not getting enough sleep, a stomach ache that never stops or seemingly trying to play catch up with the ever-changing pace of society and their attitudes toward people with special needs. No matter how much I get done at work, it seems like I’m always running on empty when I get home and just want to crawl in bed and go to sleep for eight solid hours. But I think I do have one thing in common with the U.S. military, and that is my work ethic and my determination to never give up and keep fighting because I know I’d be letting a lot of people down, epsecially my friends, family and co-workers.

I really hate to put my name in the same sentence with the U.S. military because nobody can compare to the bravery and courage of our men and women in uniform, but some days I feel like a soldier in the infantry on the front lines near Baghdad. I may just be “infantry” but I know the man right beside me, or the person in the next cubicle, is depending on me to get the job done and do it right. Sure I may make mistakes, but that’s one of the best things about being a team, whether in the desert of Iraq or at the office working the daily grind of a nine-to-five shift. A team sticks together and helps each other be the best they can possibly be, and God knows I would not be where I am today without the encouragement and support of my co-workers and friends. I’d probably be sitting at home, looking through the want ads for another job or out picking up trash on the side of the road, and definitely would not be living my dream and having the best job in the world.

In my line of work, I meet a lot of co-workers, in different departments, and have developed what I think are great relationships and friendships with most of them. Like I’ve said previously I’m out on the streets a lot, or in other departments, talking to people about what’s going on in the city where I work, and apparently from the e-mails and feedback I receive from co-workers, I must be doing something right. Here are several e-mails from friends and co-workers I’ve received the past couple years.

IMG_2477Heroes come from all walks of life and are heroes because someone thinks they are. We all think you are.

I know you’re a fighter.

Keep smiling. Don’t let the energy vampires sap your strength!!! They are everywhere, and positive people are their enemy. Fight on! 🙂

All your efforts are greatly appreciated, Jason.

A couple months ago, I went to an event celebrating Gone With the Wind, and met an author whose aunt worked as technical adviser on the movie back in 1939. She said I am a real hero. I don’t mind sitting here today and saying that I felt almost ashamed when she called me a hero. I haven’t done anything special. I am just living life and trying to beat spina bifida any way I know how. You have no idea how unworthy I am of being called a hero. Every day, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and the military put their lives on the line to keep our cities, counties and nation safe.

I’m sure everybody remembers the tragic events the past few months in Oklahoma, Texas and Boston. The men and women who saved countless lives after these tragic events are the REAL heroes and deserve so much more respect than I do. I’m just a man, doing the best I can with what God gave me. Sometimes it feels like I can do so much more, and sometimes I just want to go up to a soldier or a police officer and thank them for everything they do to protect the freedom I love so much. Next time you see a soldier, police officer, firefighter or paramedic, take a few minutes and thank them for everything they do every day. Most of them hardly see their families, and I cannot imagine how hard it must be for a family to sit and worry whether their loved one is coming home.

I remember a couple days after I talked to my author friend at the GWTW event, I e-mailed a co-worker for something and told her what the author called me. A few minutes later, my co-worker wrote back and said, “You are a hero and I applaud her for recognizing that!! With all the challenges you face each day, you still get up each morning, come to work, do an outstanding job and all with a cheerful, helpful, positive attitude. Do you have any idea how many people NEVER do that? You are a hero to me, too!”

I felt so humbled and honored that people do actually see me as a hero, but please understand something… I don’t do what I do for recognition or praise or awards. I don’t go out every day, beating my chest saying, “Hmm, I wonder who’s hero I can be today?” And I sure as hell wouldn’t put myself in the same category as the U.S. military or law enforcement. My accomplishments pale in comparison to what these people do for each and every one of us every day. I will say it again. I just take it one day, one step at a time and try to do the best I can despite the obstacles that are thrown in my way. I genuinely love helping people and if I can offer a hug, a word of encouragement, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen, then that’s what I’m going to do.

IMG_4622One thing I’ve learned the past few years is that a little pat on the back, a word of thanks, a hug or someone saying I’m proud of you can make all the difference in someone’s life, especially if that person has special needs. You have no idea how good it makes me feel to get an e-mail from a co-worker, a text from a friend or a thank you from someone I come across in the community. If you have a family member or a friend with special needs, please, please take the time to tell them how much they mean to your life, even if it’s just “Hey, thank you for coming to eat with us today. We’re really glad to see you.” Or “Hey, great job on that project at work. I know how hard you worked on it, and you’ve really done a great job. Keep it up!!” You’ll never know how big these seemingly small words can be to a person struggling to face their challenges every day.

As I close, I want to dedicate this post to anyone who has a disability or knows someone whose life has been impacted by a disability or cancer. You can do anything you set your mind to. Sure we may look a little different, or talk a little bit different, but one thing I can guarantee. We’re doing alright for the shape we’re in!!!

Do yourself a favor and connect with me on Twitter or send me an e-mail letting me know what you thought about this post. I’d love to hear from you 😉