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.