Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Jessica Trapp!


Jessica Trapp writes romances striking for their sensuality and strong conflicts between her heroes and heroines. She has placed in numerous fiction writing contests including winning the coveted K.I.S.S. award from Romantic Times Magazine. She believes a dynamic romance is one where two opposing characters are transformed into two people who share love and passion. Her writings have been described as a “bold unabashed voice” and “beautifully evocative.”

Jessica has a particularly  zesty approach to life, engaging in belly-dancing for exercise and running a "100 words a day" writing group that encourages participants to make progress toward their writing goals, even if it is at a snail's pace, because eventually, the snail gets to where it is going. Whenever I've met Jes, she's always been smiling and exuberant, so the fact that the story she plans to share today was so somber intrigued me. Still, somber or no, she tells it from her uniquely "glass-is-half-full" perspective.

Interestingly enough, Jessica has a BS degree in pharmacy. Maybe that's why she writes romance (just kidding, Jes!). She lives in Houston, Texas with a husband and son who are as passionate about books as she is. When she's not reading or writing, she dances, putters in the garden, plays chess, and drinks copious amounts of hot tea.

Jessica will put her third medieval romance, The Pleasures of Sin, (available now from Zebra Books) into the "Giving Thanks" tote bag for our lucky winner.

IMHO: Jessica, you have a harrowing story to tell of what happened to you over the past couple of months that makes you particularly thankful this year. Could you share that with my IMHO readers?

JT: I'm happy to, TJ. Here's how it started:

A hemorrhaging 10 cm tumor on my liver and the consequential two-week stay in ICU brought a whole new level to the idea of "giving thanks" for me this year. Generally speaking, I tend--like most people I know--to give at least lip service to the idea of being grateful... but... well... one thing I became quickly aware of is how much I take for granted--little things, like walking, eating, standing up unassisted. Suddenly the ebb and flow of daily life became more than I could handle alone, more than I could handle at all. I was hooked up to this beeping monitor and that beeping monitor--wires everywhere--made the most simple of chores an ordeal.

But... staying in the hospital became a time of reflection and introspection--all the little nuisances and problems I'd been worried or concerned about just days before disappeared in a heartbeat of time. There, in a beige room surrounded by a sea of pink plastic trays and cups and the scent of antiseptic, harsh soap and alcohol, I was given a forced step off the treadmill of life.

And... as I was lying there going through tests and surgery, I realized--through it all--how very, very blessed I am. My husband, mom, dad, son, friends, medical professionals, nurses, doctors and more all surrounded me with both practical and emotional care. I was absolutely overwhelmed with the outpouring of love.

The first day that I was allowed to walk, I made my way through the labyrinth of hallways so that I could go outside and breathe some fresh air. Fresh air.... now that's something we take for granted! I wanted to touch a tree and walk barefoot in the grass. I love my garden with its oaks and crape myrtles and hibiscus and I missed it terribly. And, yet, how many times had I complained about the weeds or not even glanced at it, much less taken the time to sit and meditate.

Honestly, there is nothing like being disallowed from things to really make you appreciate the small stuff--the scent of earl grey tea, the taste of apples, watching your child act in a school play, being able to cook a meal for your family. But, then I noticed that even in the midst of all of it, there were so many things to be grateful for in the moment--my family who stayed with me, nurses who cared enough to learn the skills to do their job, friends who wrote and dropped by to comfort me, and, of course, my publisher who gave me an extension on finishing my revisions.

"Giving thanks," I think, surely isn't just some big event to be done once a year on Thanksgiving--but an ongoing process... an attitude that we can carry with us through every moment in time no matter what is going on around us. With every breath, we can choose to notice what is right, what is working, what brings us joy and comfort and love. We don’t have to wait for some “special event” (and certainly not some life altering hospital stay!) to deeply partake in giving thanks. Wherever we find ourselves, right in this very moment, there are things we can take time to notice—people to love, food to eat, life to live. So many blessings to count.

Now I’m home and I have made a habit of sitting daily in my garden—no more rushing by it. I get tired, but being strong enough to shop and prepare a meal for my family is a joy. I’m still struggling with the book, but what a pleasure to be able to carry the laptop to meet friends at Starbucks. I’m grateful to be able to walk, to move, to stretch.

Through this I learned: life can change in a blink… don’t take it for granted.

IMHO: Thank you so much for sharing that, Jessica. There is nothing like a brush with our own mortality to remind us how precious life is. Puts things in perspective, doesn't it, folks?

So, IMHO readers, have you or someone you love ever had a "life-changing" experience that made you put your own life into perspective or made you look at things differently? Share your stories with Jessica by leaving a comment here for a chance to win one of two Thanksgiving-themed totes. Remember, the more authors you leave comments for, the better your chances of winning. And remember also to come back next Wednesday as we host our final guest author(s) for November, husband-and-wife writing team Anthea Lawson.

Take care,
TJB




19 comments:

Christie Craig said...

Hi Jess!

It's so good to see you here.

And you are so right, nothing brings home the value of the little things until you are faced with an illness.

Thanks for the reminder.

CC

Vicky said...

Jes,

I'm so thankful as is everyone in the West Houston chapter that you're doing well. And thank you so much for reminding all of us to focus on the things that really matter. I'm thankful to have wonderful friends like you & TJ.

Cheers!
Vicky

Virginia C said...

Happy Thanksgiving! My mother and I always lived with her parents, whom I adored. By the time I was ten years old, my grandmother was no longer able to walk much and could do very little of the cooking for the family. I had started following her around the kitchen when I learned to crawl. She was the greatest cook ever! That Thanksgiving, my grandfather brought home a turkey dinner from a local restaurant. That turkey was not even brown! I recooked the whole meal, and added some touches of my own. It was a success, and from then on, I cooked all the meals, planned the grocery shopping and ran the house. My grandfather was my all-time hero! Both of my grandparents died shortly after my high school graduation. Mom died a few years ago. She and I were together almost fifty years. I made the decision to stay with my family, and I have never regretted the decision.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Wow. Awesome story.

I have this habit of stopping when I leave the Hoity-Toity health club and turning my face up to the sun and breathing deeply. I'm not sure how it started or what. But it's become my daily affirmation of saying thanks.

No need to enter me for anything around here, TJ. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I posted this at Win a Book for you.

joder said...

Yes, you are definitely correct that a traumatic experience can bring a family closer. When I was disabled as a child my family definitely rallied around me. My parents made sure that we all went out as a family freguently to experience life which helped me to adjust and increased our closeness as a family. To this day we still have family day every Sunday.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Margay said...

When my brother passed away five years ago at the age of 39, that really made me look at things differently. Whenever you lose someone, especially that young, it puts everything else in perspective and makes you realize what is truly important in life.
Margay

Jessica Trapp said...

Hi, Christie! Hi, Vicky! So good to see you guys here.

Virginia, WOW! That really touched my heart.

Susan, what an awesome ritual. I have re-started going to the gym this week (I... um... haven't actually done a workout yet, but I did face the receptionist and ask for a replacement card for the one that the evil fairies hid. LOL!) I am going to add that to my workout routine. Thank you!

Joder, I love the idea of taking one day a week for family. Life moves so fast...

Margay, I am sorry to hear about your brother. The big stuff can really put things into perspective. I had not realized how caught up I was in petty details and silly complaints until I realized I could just lose it all in a heartbeat. The weather is beautiful here today. I got quite a bit of writing done this morning so I plan to go sit by my pond and take a little time to relish and breathe in the moment. I wanna give my kid an extra hug today too. I am so grateful to be alive.

Thank you guys so much for dropping by!
jes

Jane said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jessica. Whether you're having health, marriage or financial trouble, you will definitely realize what is important in life. Enjoying the little things and spending time with your family and friends.

Sandy Blair said...

Hi Jes,
Thanks for sharing your story. Ages ago my children and I were in a horrific accident. The two teens that hit us died at the scene. We walked away with a few broken bones. I've never taken my children or my sometimes frustrating, sometimes wonderful life for granted since.

Sandy

carolsnotebook said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I haven't had any real life-changing events that I can think of.

Debby said...

We adopted a little girl from Poland and it was something that changed our life forever. She is handicapped, missing a leg, but she did everything she could. Hking was not good but she played basketball on varsity in high school. Nothing stops her and she is the inspiration for many people who have lost legs.

Virginia said...

You are so right about things happening at a blink of an eye. My mother passed when I was 34 and I was pregnate with my only child, he was born a few days later. My mother had been disable from the time I was eight years old from an accident. Ten years later my father who was healthy had a lawn mower accident and past away the next day. So we all should be thankful for having the hearlty life that we do have.

TJ Bennett said...

Wow, y'all have some powerful and moving stories. Thank you so much for sharing them today. It helps to give us all perspective on being grateful for what we have while we have it.

Please be sure to visit with us this week as I post more "thankful" messages from past guests hosts of IMHO. Next posts will be up on Friday, and again on Sunday. And, of course, the husband-and-wife historical romance writing team of Anthea Lawson (writing romance with your husband...how sexy is THAT!) will be here to tell us what they are thankful for this year.

Thanks go out to Jessica Trapp for sharing her incredible story with us, and continued well wishes for her health. Everyone feel free to continue leaving your messages here for Jes, as this will increase your chances of winning one of our two Thanksgiving-themed totes.

Take care,
TJB

Pat Cochran said...

My life-changing event occurred just over five years ago when I
was hospitalized with food poisoning. It was not a fun time! It did bring to the forefront all my bad health problems. I was badly overweight, had just been diagnosed with diabetes and had hypertension. You name it, I had
it or was on my way to having it.
I was the poster woman for poor
health! With my doctor's help,
today I am a whole new person.
I have lost fifty pounds & have
stable blood sugar levels and
blood pressure readings. I have
an entirely new life style and
look forward to a longer life
with my family.

Pat Cochran

Linda Henderson said...

I think the most life changing thing for me was my diagnosis of severe rheumatoid arthritis. It took so long to find a treatment that would work and that I wasn't allergic to that I ended up with a lot of damage. I am no longer able to work and I haven't driven in 3 years. I have always been independent and it's been hard on me to give up doing everything for myself. My friends and family have been great though. I get by day by day and am very grateful for each one.

RachieG said...

A friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer a year or so ago...he was 24. It was insane and I had a hard time dealing with mortality, even though it wasn't my health in jeopardy. He's great now though and cancer free, thank goodness, but the experience did have me re-evaluating my life.

CherylS22 said...

Hi Jess,
My life changing event took place when I was in my twenties. I nearly drowned on my first white-water rafting trip. Your life does literally flash before your eyes!! After that experience I learned that it could all be over in a second & that you have to live each day to its fullest. I also decided to never put myself in such a risky situation again.
Cheryl

etirv said...

Suicides of friends' children, more recently a friend's 10-year-old child served as wake-up-calls for me to relax as a parent, be less impatient and uptight with my child and know that I have a great child and everything will sink in sooner or later.

Great seeing Jessica here!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

librarypat said...

My husband can relate to your situation. Out of nowhere came the diagnosis of chondrosarcoma in his left jaw. Our oldest daughter had just left for her first year of college, our other daughter was a junior in high school, and our son was in fourth grade. It is a rare form of cancer and has very few symptoms until the later stages which is why survivability rates are so low in cases involving the skull. The tumor was found in September and the doctors wanted to wait until after the holidays since the surgery results could be rather traumatic. We lasted until just about this time of the month and told them we would be basket cases if we had to wait any longer. They did the surgery Dec. 5, 1991. Survival rates past 5 years and quality of life tended to be poor.
We looked at our life, what we had done and the path we had chosen and discovered we really wouldn't have changed much, which was nice. I have known too many people that have such regrets about the way they have lived and the paths they have taken.
My husband did extremely well. He lost most of his upper left jaw and over half of his palate He recovered amazingly fast. Even though the surgery was done at a military hospital by young doctors with no experience with this type of cancer and no plastic surgeon was brought in, everything is fine. There are no outward signs he had surgery. I don't think you ever get over the fear it will come back, but he has already beaten the odds by a wide margin. My mother on the other hand, died of ovarian cancer 4 weeks to the day after they discovered it. She was only 47 and never got to reach all those important milestones in life. Sadly, here grandchildren will never know what a wonderful person she was.
You just need to remember to appreciate each and every day you have.
Best of luck to you for your recovery and may this be your best Thanksgiving ever!