A Grateful Heart

It’s a powdery white Thanksgiving morning here in Bellevue, Washington. Monday’s snow stuck and it’s been snowing steadily since I woke up three hours ago. Supposedly temperatures will rise to 40 later today so our snow might melt, but for now I savor the quiet white morning and think about all I have to be grateful for. And there is so much.

I lay in bed, snuggled under covers, thinking of all that makes my life good… joyous. My three boys whom I absolutely adore. My tough but big-hearted surfer who spends so much of his life on a plane so he can be with us every moment he can. My mother, my sister, my brothers and their wives and all the nieces and my one nephew. I think of my grandmother Lyles who has been gone two and a half  years but who remains in my thoughts every day. I think of my late father Tom Porter who gave to me my passion for books and writing as well as my Porter jaw, nose, and chin. I think of my home–warm, comfy. I think of 1992 Tahoe that still only has 46,000 miles on it and is so very reliable. I think of my girl friends–Lisa Johnson and Lorrie Hambing–that always have me over for the holidays and make sure I know I’m loved and part of their extended family. I think of my writer friends–Liza, Megan, Barb, Carla, Melissa–who have spent hours and hours talking about books and plots and publishing problems with me. I think of my publicity and publishing assistants who tackle all kinds of jobs for me–Lee, Kari, Farrell.

And then I think of you, my readers who have been with me through thick and thin. In New Jersey there were two readers at my lunch who started with me with my first book–The Italian Groom–in 2001 (Latesha Ballard and Marelou Azares) and readers who found me with Flirting with Forty or Odd Mom Out or my most recent book, She’s Gone Country. I have made friends all over the world thanks to books and the internet. I have you. And I’m so very grateful for you. I’m grateful to those that lurk. Grateful to those who comment. Grateful for those who love the contests. Grateful for those who’ve donated to my World Vision pledge. And the donations keep coming in.

I heard from Farrell yesterday that she’d just sponsored a child through World Vision. Hurray!! And I went to the post office yesterday and there were a half  dozen envelopes with checks and emails saying more checks were on the way. Through everyone’s efforts we’ve already raised $350 and found two children sponsors. I’m going to match every gift, which means I’m donating $350 and will sponsor an additional 2 children. I still hope to hit $1,000 by Christmas and see a total of 10 new children sponsored and will continue offering a signed book for every $10 donated through Christmas Eve. If you can give, great. If you can’t, just keep my efforts in your thoughts and prayers.

And before I go, let me share a few photos from my incredible trip to Kentucky. It was an amazing weekend and a truly special dinner with my friends and readers at Sarafina’s. We had 21 attend and among the 21 were six mother and daughter pairs. Six sets of moms and daughters who’ve shared my books back and forth. Six moms and daughters who took time out of their busy schedules to meet me and chat and have a meal together. What a joy for me to know that my stories can bring people together, that my themes appeal to women and girls of all ages. And so here are the pictures of one of my favorite days in recent years.

Jane with the lovely Tonya Kappes who helped organize the wonderful event!
Jane with the lovely Tonya Kappes who helped organize our dinner at Sarafina!

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Jane with some of her wonderful Kentucky readers and friends before dinner.

Jane with fellow writers Tonya Kappes, Heather Webber and Cathy Liggett

Jane with Molly Harper
Jane with Molly Harper signing at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort.

I am blessed. I truly am. But my life hasn’t been all easy times and good things. I have had dark days and tragedies and loss. I’ve struggled with depression in my teens and twenties. My father died young when I was 15. I learned about domestic violence. I fell in love but it wasn’t a happy ever after. I didn’t think I would ever get published–15 years of trying is a long, long time–and then I discovered when first published that not everyone will like your writing, or you. But then I got tough. And I gathered my courage. And deepened my faith. And took some serious risks. Miraculously, life opened–my heart opened–and I’ve learned what joy is. I’ve learned who I am. And I’ve learned how to love.

And that’s what I’m grateful for, too. This banged up, beat up heart of mine that loves, loves, loves…. and truly loves all of you.

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