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For the first time in my life, I no longer felt the pressure of having to get up and go to work every morning. The kids were grown and had careers of their own. There were no budgets to meet, teams to train, problems to solve. There were no deadlines. I could write when I wanted and for the rest of the summer of 2018, my husband Robin and I traveled, volunteered, and with my trusty laptop in tow, I hunted and pecked out paragraphs and chapters. 

Once I knew exactly what I wanted to share with the world, words flowed. After about 8,000 words, Robin suggested I copy all of my work into Scrivener software.  The software was flexible and allowed me to shuffle chapter placements and keep everything in alignment and safe. (I had started out Surviving In A Dog Eat Dog World using Word.) Memo to self: invest in the right tools! Scrivener made all the difference. 

For Thanksgiving, we had decided to spend the holiday with our son Michael in New York City. We booked our tickets and planned to fly to NYC the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Three days before her 30th birthday, a few days before we were flying to NYC, our daughter Kim was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 3A. Without hesitation, arrangements were made for me to fly 5400 miles from NYC after Thanksgiving and live with Kim for 6 months while she underwent chemotherapy. Kim lived in Montevideo, Uruguay. 

The overwhelming reality of my daughter’s reality caused me to spiral. Suddenly drafting my thirty life lessons didn’t seem to be all that important. Add to it, the sheer culture shock of being physically plopped into a non-English speaking environment (Native Uruguayans speak a mixture of Italian/Portuguese Spanish), with no resources, no friends, no mode of transportation and no clue where anything was, not only created writer’s block–but took me on a new path writing about surviving Kim’s cancer.

As chemotherapy did everything it could to suck the life out of my daughter, Kim remained effervescently positive. She was my cheerleader. She was my champion. And, as a Nationally Certified English Teacher, with a Masters in Education from Vanderbilt, she was my first editor.