Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank you! Also a health update for those of you who asked...

Wow! Ok, so there are more people reading than I thought - again, not that I would stop writing because I usually only hear from a chosen few. I am very honored to write for the esteemed few and I don't overlook those of you who I've been hearing from! Please don't think that!

I was just wondering if there were other people also reading. And apparently you are! Thank you for reading! I'm very honored. When a person writes, they sit alone in their home tapping away on the computer, but it's hard to visualize people actually reading it!

When I was writing Wesley the Owl I had a hard time envisioning anyone other than a few friends or family members reading it and was astounded when a lot of people read it and connected with what I was trying to say.

During the process of getting to publication, several publishers turned it down, saying, "Who on earth would care about a Barn Owl? Now, if you were writing about dogs we'd have something..."

Luckily, as I've told you, a few publishers did get it and my editor, Leslie, is the one who really connected with it and cried over it and put her heart and soul into getting it out. She's a passionate birder herself.

Anyway, I still have that feeling of, "Gee would anyone want to read this?" sometimes. I guess we all feel like what we do is so normal. Well, to US it is!

One thing I've learned is that everyone has a story that's interesting. Everyone. To them, they think it's not interesting because they're used to it. A person living in a small town in Mississippi probably thinks they live a boring existence, but to someone who's never lived in a small town in Mississippi, it is fascinating! The same goes for someone living in a high rise apartment in NYC. Everyone they know lives in a high rise in NYC so what's the big deal? Well, to me I'd love to read all about what that's like. I can hardly imagine it!

And each person has a unique point of view, which also makes each of us interesting to each other. Look at all these reality shows! We want to learn about each others' lives.

Well, this is a ramble...But THANK YOU for letting me know you're out there!

Silly me.

About the comment sections, I only look at the most recent posts because I've always assumed that any new comment would be under the most recent post. The blog site doesn't flag new comments for me, so I don't go down through all my blog entries.

It's very important to me to read your comments!

So let me answer a couple of questions:

People have asked about my disability. Yes, I apparently have to live with this for the rest of my life, so I'm quite affected by it. There are many days where I only get a few hours of wakefulness per day and spend the rest of the time asleep. I could never have imagined it was possible for a human being to sleep for 20+ hours a day for over 10 years. I feel like that fairy tale character...was it rumplestiltskin?

So I take advantage of the short amount of wakefulness/productivity I have each day. Everything that isn't absolutely essential goes by the wayside, including my previous standard of housekeeping. I do take care of my hamsters and dog, of course.

I am able to do these speaking events by planning very carefully. I have to tell the event planner about the disability (or my publisher tells them), which means I can't schedule a bunch of back to back events in a row. I arrive the day before an event and sleep in the hotel until right before the event, then afterwards I usually go straight back to the hotel and sleep through the night. Usually I travel home the next day.

So, whereas most authors fly in, do a bunch of back to back events, then fly out on the same day, I have to go at a much slower pace. But so what, really?

All my life I've been going, going, going like gangbusters, with every moment of the day filled with action items, squeezing as much productivity out of each day as it would, gasping, allow. And I've been doing that since I was six years old and started doing a lot of commercials and singing gigs in studios - movie soundtracks, Disney albums, singing background on a lot of people albums - the pop stars of the 70s, and then doing on camera commercials and small parts in shows like Little House on the Prairie, Bionic Woman (which used to actually be a popular show, believe it or not!). Anyway, combine that with lessons of every kind scheduled in so tight that it was almost a 15 minute by 15 minute schedule at times, and I was pretty busy as a kid.

Don't get me wrong! I loved it! And a good measure of that was stuff like Ballet, so I have always loved to work out and I used to run 10 miles a day....then BAM...got too sick to even stay awake!

So maybe I'm making up for all the rest I didn't give myself for all those years. I don't know.

Here's the good news though, knock on wood/w/ God's blessing - I haven't had a coma since yr 2000 and no more strokes. I'm pretty well recovered from that bigger stroke and the other TIAs. I think I'm the only one who can tell I ever had a stroke.

The most embarrassing aspect of all this is that I've gained a LOT of weight due to the medications and, I'm sure, to the fact that I'm not able to work out like I used to. I used to do Irish dancing, before I got sick, ran 5 miles a day, lifted weights, worked long hours...

But I do think many of us are living on caffeine and adrenaline and I've come to realize that living that way doesn't work either. I thought it worked but really it wasn't good to do so much. If I got well today, completely, I like to think I would not drive myself the way I used to. That I would rest a lot more and take it all a lot slower.

So there you have it, those of you who have asked for an update on the health situation. This is liveable and there are some blessings attached to it, believe it or not. Slowing down has been a great blessing. I might not have been in a contemplative space, mentally, to sit down and write Wesley the Owl if I was running a packed schedule. But I wasn't, so I had time to really think.

I don't feel like, "Oh poor me" - never did. I know of so many people who've been through so much worse. And I lived in Mexico when I was 16 with a friend who I'd met up here who was studying in America. When she went back, she invited me to come stay with her family. They were so wonderful and had a comfortable life in Acapulco near the jungle. A truly gorgeous setting. We ate fresh fruits and vegetables from the market every day, fish caught that day, and fresh meat. Everything was delicious and not processed..
The people were lovely and gracious and kind and friendly - I can't say enough about them.

But I also saw poverty as I'd never seen it before. I realized that there were some families who could not get even the most basic care and would pace outside a hospital w/ a dying baby, screaming and crying for help, but since they were poor, no one helped them. The hospital doors were closed to them and their baby died. In fact, a lot of babies died before the age of 5. Poor people had so many parasites that even if they did eat, the parasites got half of it. And during the time I was there, there was a paramilitary presence of revolutionarios in the nearby jungle, so I saw a bit of that.

Enough to realize that by just living in a place where I can get medicine is a huge, huge thing and that many people of the world can't even dream about that kind of care. They just suffer. There is no pain medicine for them, nothing to relieve their suffering. People start working when they're 3 years old selling chiclets in the street and they work like that, doing some kind of hard labor, until the day they die. No public schools or free education! What a shock! You could only go to school if your family had the money for books, uniforms, school fees...and the poor were kept out of that system!

I'm glad I saw all that firsthand at such an impressionable age. The family I lived with did not have any of those problems, but I saw it around me. In Mexico, the poor are not pushed into a particular part of town where they're out of sight. You can have a mansion next to a stick shack. In a way, it's more real.

Now I think all teenagers ought to go to Peace Corp or do something in a developing country just to rub the spoiled edges off of them. Especially if they do have spoiled edges! I don't think I did, but it was still a huge eye opener that gave me perspective for the rest of my life.

It also locked in my love of other cultures and languages and my desire to keep learning about other ways of life.

Well, this has nothing to do with owls, does it? Sorry about that.

I'm going on theowlbox to see what Molly and McGee the Barn Owls are up to and will try to post more about them later.



MaryGY said...

I was like you, overscheduled. Between working two jobs, raising kids, taking martial arts, and helping an elderly friend. There were never enough hours in a day.

Then I got cancer six years ago. I'm fine now, but it really changes your perspective and your priorities. Now I don't push myself so hard, and I take the time. Time is such a gift!

And I've had the weight gain too due to medication - that sucks, but hey, I'm alive!

I've been following your blog for a while, but this is my first time responding. So we're out there, but we may just be quiet.

gimpy said...

Hi again,

Please don't kick yourself for having weight gain with the medication and health issues!!!! No one's judging you for it.

I'm sick as well (Lyme Disease) and I know the 'sleeping 20 hours a day' thing (for me it's more like 14-16, but yeah, it's shocking to go through life that way). Im amazed that you're able to do appearances and all this work while feeling that way. It's really commendable and I think really inspiring to a lot of people. Thank you for the thoughtful blog posts and the time you're scheduling for it!

Margo said...

You are beautiful, inside and out. Weight makes not a bit of difference. Loved your blog...and it confirmed my need to slow down and enjoy this life. I have so many questions, and I know you can't get to them all, but hopefully you'll see these and be able to shed some light:
1) Do the siblings KNOW they're siblings? Would they ever attack each other?
2) Will they recognize each other throughout life as being brothers/sisters? Will they recognize mom and dad?
3) do you think Molly somehow knows she's being filmed? today she pecked the camera, then turned her back :)
4) can an egg hatch at night?
5) would you ever take on another owl?

Thanks for continuing to educate us all in more ways than just science!

Eva =uD said...

Hello!!! Im from Brazil, and my english is terrible.. =/ Do you speak spanish??
Bueno, mi nombre es Eva y tengo 14 anos. La verdad es que he lido tu libro 8 veces... y me gusto muchissimo!
Soy una gran fan suya.. Tu libro me tocó demasiado, y creo yo que eres el mejor libro que ya he lido =D
Me fascinó Caltech, Ludwig, su abuela Zimmie, su amiga Wendy, su hermana Gloria, y claro: Wesley Valentine!
Nunca un libro me havia involucrado tanto...Tambien soy una apasionada de la biologia, y son personas como tú y Jane Goodal que me motivó a elegir esta carrera: biologa
Te admiro =uD

Eva =uD said...

Ola Stacey..!
Me alegro que estés viviendo bien con todo eso... de verdad, eres una persona admirable y creo yo que tiene muchas alegrias a vivir!
Me gustaria de hacer una pergunta:
En su libro, hace referencia a 200 polillas que había que asustar de su cama todas las noches, para poder descansar. Recuerda-te???
Pues bien: lo que les pasó? Donde fueran ellas cuando usted hay cambiado de casa??
Se que no es una cuestions relacionada con los búhos, pero yo siempre tuvo esa curiosidad..Haha.
Te admiro mucho...
Buen suerte en la vida!!!

Charlotte said...

Thanks again for sharing your time, and in this post, your medical challenges with us. That you choose to give so freely of the very little waking time you have each day astounds me. What a gift you are giving us. After reading today's entry I will think of you whenever I begin to feel whiney about not having enough hours in the day..

JKW said...

Thank you for sharing (I talked with you yesterday morning on the Owl Box). I had found your blog and the darling owlet on your website. So that's why we don't get the information or good books we would like to read, b/c editors don't think that's what the public wants. Who would have thought the owl box would be International - like politicians, no one really knows the public, thinking about publishing my own. I wrote about my cockatiel in the late 1990s (sent it out, but not published yet). Sort of a moral story. You give me a different, albeit, truthful view of editors/publishing houses. Blessings, Janet

Adventure Girl said...

I just finished your book and thought it was such a lovely and very moving tribute. I have always thought owls one of the most interesting and beautiful of creatures, and appreciated your amazing insights. Thank you for sharing Wesley with us. My best hopes are with you for recovery or respite from your illness.

Margaret said...

Stacey I just finished your book and I absolutely loved it. Of course by the end I was bawling, I had gotten so attached to Wesley. It is the most amazing book, thank you so much for writing it.

Michelle said...

Stacey, you've probably heard this before but I just finished your book. Thank you for writing it and sharing your experience with Wesley. What a beautiful, transcendent soul. What you saw in Wesley's eyes, I see in the eyes of every animal.
And of course, I cried at the end. I think you are right--one day we will look back and marvel at our primitive understanding of animals and those we share our planet with--and very likely be ashamed.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, especially in light of the medical challenges you revealed at the end of the book.