A Brief Admiration of Doves

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of doves.

by Lewis Ulrey (MerlinID)

In my younger days, I romanticized them, mourning doves in particular. I’d hear them cooing sadly early in the day, and I wondered what was wrong; why did they sound so forlorn?

At the time I thought they were mistimed owls and I hoped they’d soon fall asleep, or meet the partner they were singing to attract. Many years later, I discovered that no, those were not owls. They were doves, mourning doves to be exact, so I had the sad sound properly pegged at least. But still, I’d only heard them at this point – not seen them with my own eyes.

Then I moved. And the mourning doves began visiting our backyard bird feeder.

First one. Then two.

In the beginning, they came and went like the other birds – a pair of cardinals, a pair of finches, a few mockingbirds, several blue jays and the like – nibbling a bit and then flying away.

Soon enough we spotted someone new. Two someones actually. Two huge someones. So huge, that at first glance, I thought they might be small chickens! That’s how big they seemed compared to a finch! But my trusty Merlin ID app told me these new people were actually Euraisan collared-doves. And soon after, we discovered that doves are quite social. And greedy.

The two kinds of doves each told their friends about our deluxe all you can eat buffet, and, just stop right now to imagine flocks of pigeons all settling down in a park to feast. [Yuck, amrite??] This was our backyard. A haven for hungry doves.

by Franklin Diaz (MerlinID)

As it turns out, the feeder we have invites lounging. And unlike the woodpeckers and wild parrots and other nimble birds who can basically zip in, hang down and do all kinds of fascinating acrobatics to eat, the doves prefer to sit.

And boy do they. [We are currently researching new feeders, if you’re wondering.]

But this is our second spring here in Florida and what we’ve also learned is that the spring mockingbird – we call him Mock – is a menace. Once the weather warms, he zooms in and bum-rushes whomever is at the feeder. All. Day. Long.

What’s worse? Doves eating all the food or a mockingbird blasting everyone away just because? It’s a toss up. There’s comes a magic moment on his personal calendar when Mock cuts it out and goes back to quick zips and nibbles and general good behavior. For now though, the bum-rushing is in full swing.

by Romauld Mikusek (MerlinID)

But this year, the collared doves are sick of it! And I have to say I am quietly impressed. Sure, many are taken by surprise and they fly away when Mock swoops in at full speed, straight toward them. Wouldn’t you?

But remember these are big birds (small chickens!) and some of them have decided to stand their ground. Mock has actually crashed into them a few times, but one or two of the Collars now simply press down and stay put, finishing their lunch at their leisure.

There’s something to be said about refusing to be bullied out of a place you love. I admire them for that.

50.3 – The Journeyman

I’ve had some coaching conversations as of late, and one of the things I’m still mulling is my mission/vision/purpose. I’m pretty clear on my talents, but I’m always looking to investigate my impact. I’ve spent many years cycling through a variety of thoughts and emotions about the work I’m doing or could have been doing, and so on. So it’s interesting that I came across two videos last week that struck dramatically different cords with me.

Colman Domingo at the 2024 Oscars. GEORGE PIMENTEL/SHUTTERSTOCK

One featured actor Colman Domingo. He has been doing deep and beautiful work for many years and this is truly his season. He had several huge projects all at once, and was nominated for an Oscar for his 2023 portrayal of political activist and Civil Rights leader, Bayard Rustin.

I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with Colman, long ago, and I have it on good authority that he’s still the sweet, genuine person he was then.

At the Oscars, Colman gave a red carpet interview with Laverne Cox wherein he described himself as a journeyman actor.

“I’m a journeyman actor – someone who’s just been dedicated to the craft of doing work that matters.”

~Colman Domingo

I looked up journeyman to confirm my understanding, that he was a person who was devoted to his craft, to toiling, to doing the work. That maybe he wouldn’t be the lead of Mission Impossible or a huge, commercial franchise, but he would do meaningful work and do it well.

A fellow children’s author who embodies this for me is Nikki Grimes. She has published or appeared in over 100 books and has won numerous awards (including a Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award!). For many people, she is not a household name. But if you follow her social media accounts, you will see her talking about yet another project she’s writing or editing or submitting for publication. Head down, toiling, creating good work.

Autor and Poet Nikki Grimes
Photo credit: Aaron Lemen

Journeyman. This is me. Sometimes I do wish for a little bit of breakout success as a new author. That maybe I’ll get paid higher advances, win awards, garner attention and signing lines at book festivals. But when I talk to kids or teachers or parents individually, they tell me how much my books (two published as of this writing) mean to them.

As I think about the project coming out later this year and the new one I’m conceiving now, I know they matter. I know they are meaningful contributions to the world of children’s literature. They will touch at least one heart and represent another step on my journey.

So I felt kinship with Colman and Nikki. And then I saw something completely different. I came across an author who ostensibly writes middle grade (for ages 8-12) as I do. I saw comments about how kids loved her books and based their description, I felt surprised and disappointed I hadn’t heard of them before. I wanted to know more about this author and about her books! So I looked her up.

In brief, I found her showcasing her children’s books in a way that highlighted them only as products. Commodities. She seemed so disconnected in fact, that I had the strong suspicion she didn’t write them at all. I soon discovered I was right. Her books were ghostwritten by someone else. I don’t have a problem with ghostwriters, as everyone involved consents to the arrangement. But I felt genuinely hurt at the portrayal of books for kids as lifestyle props for adults. I was sad! But it helped me understand myself better. Gave me another lens for viewing the work.

It clarified my reason for doing it at all. My books are not just for social media likes, to show the glamorous life of an author. Hint: writing middle grade books is real work, not glamor, lol! I write books about being true to yourself, to help kids become more fully human. To help them be more courageous, compassionate and wise. Some people write books to make kids smile, or think or learn something new. But as journeymen, we’re doing the work because that’s what matters.


The good news. The sabbatical is working. My brain is back online! I have so many new ideas and one of them is crystallizing pretty well. Younger me would be so excited to have multiple longform ideas to chose from.

The neutral news. It’s interesting being off schedule or having freedom over your day after feeling overworked for several years in a row. Sometimes I feel unmoored, which is not a feeling I love.

But nurturing my ideas (I have a composition book labeled Idea Farm) helps. I have to remind myself to be patient and to be okay with ambiguity. This is a major shift, after all.

Secret: I don’t crave the old work but I think about the old income. I know that I’m okay and will be okay. But I still think about it from time to time.

Other news. Some things have gone awry at the former gig. I felt bad about it and just learning that things weren’t going great triggered my anxiety. It was pretty interesting to watch my reaction unfold over a couple of days. My partner/boss has vowed to take full responsibility for getting things on the right track. I had the chance to review all of the transfer work that I did. I stand by it. It’s a high quality transition document. It took two full months of constant work to document processes. I did that!

Great news. After I really looked at it from the eyes of a new person, I was proud and calm and felt resolved in my current boundaries. Truth? I know I could get on payroll and fix things. But that would be pulling me away from where I want to be this year. Mired in details. Bogged down in minutia. No thank you. I choose my Idea Farm.

With these blogs, I’m documenting where I am with things, but it’s not with a heart of complaint. I’m very grateful to be fully present and have the space to figure things out.


I’ve done it. I’ve circled the sun 50 times!

I opened the beginning of my 51st year on the beach in Cancun. Blue and I read napped, facing turquoise waters, while drinking H20 and tequilas.

It was lovely to be away from computers and the hustle and bustle of life. Upon my return, I decided to take a little bit of a social media break, to help nurture the new ideas that have started to sprout.

I began thinking about where I want to go from here (50 marking the spot), months ago, but I’ve not yet arrived at any conclusions.

As it turns out, unwinding from burn out takes a lot longer than I expected, and it’s only now, after two solid months away, that my nervous system is relaxed enough for creativity to bloom again.

So I will continue to mull and lean into the parts that feel right and create the path by walking it. That’s today’s plan, at any rate.


Meditations on running at dawn


I ran in the morning, early.
Early early.

Earlier than usual, or should I say earlier than my new usual, which isn’t that late, but late enough to spy slim fingers of sunlight. Being out there in the quiet, in the darkness before dawn, reminded me why my old usual was so early.

It’s black then. Nearly silent. Almost nothing stirring but, without a doubt, the sun is on her way. I can hear my own thoughts, feel my own feelings, uninterrupted by the ever widening group of passersby.

Each new moment a minute closer to sunrise. Full of possibility.


At 6pm I am brave.

I am energized and full of plans for the morning.

I will run, before daybreak
At the promise of the day
In the darkness before dawn


At 9pm, the sun has gone, and I am second-guessing my big plans.

Surely I don’t want to run first thing on a Monday? Do I? 

But, just in case, I pull out my cold gear – running tights and all the rest.

Because even though my courage waned with the light, there is still time to sleep and wake up brave once more, and smile hello to hope.

So Far, So Good

It’s official. I’m on sabbatical from my job of a decade.

And I know because yesterday was my first day “at work” and I was like, I wonder what I’m supposed to be doing. Just kidding.

Sort of.

More on that in a bit.

In addition to working full time, in 2018 I added part-time author to the mix, which led to 7-day work weeks for months (years) at a time. Can you say burnout? I had it. Bad.

My day job was not time consuming or difficult, but for various reasons (COVID, alignment, household changes, etc.), in recent years I’ve I found it stressful and energy draining. I love the organization and the mission and my coworkers, too! But it was clearly time to step away to find and live my ikigai.

The day I put in my notice was not planned. One day, I really couldn’t take it any more. Between anxiety and extreme fatigue, I had to take immediate action. And I knew it had to be a complete break, not a stepping back or a slowing down.

So I crafted a message and stepped into my truth, fear and all. And after six weeks of knowledge transfer, I put on my out of office in late December, informing anyone who writes me there, that I’ll take a peek again in April (which may turn into… something else).

Before 2023 ended, I began working through the ikigai exercise. Generally understood as your reason for being, your ikigai is the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what you can get paid to do. Unsurprisingly, writing came up quite a bit (along with teaching and coaching – also not a surprise). As you might’ve guessed, my focus for the next few months will be writing, writing, writing. I will resume coaching (shout out to my newly earned credential!), but on a limited basis for now.

My third book (!) is due to publish in October 2024, and while the hard part is over, there are still a few more steps in the short term. Yesterday, I took the first one. I’m in copyedits, which means I’m polishing the manuscript.

I started with a baby step – one chapter – my favorite approach, just to make sure I knew what was I doing and also to ease myself back into this project that I haven’t seen in about two months. Today I had a bigger goal – five to seven chapters – and met it within two hours, which is great because I allocated four. So that’s my work for the next week – polishing the rest of my new book! I aim to finish this round by next Friday if all goes according to plan.

Soon I will tell you about my first bullet journal, which arrived today. I’ve never attempted this organization strategy, but I’m hoping it will be useful and fun. Have you ever used a bullet journal? How did it go for you?

Happy New Year!

This is the year I turn 50.

More than any other milestone birthday, I’ve found this one to be a north star. Magnetic. Orienting.

A few months ago, I began reflecting on how I was feeling, what I was doing, and what I wanted to be different at 50. I discovered burn out and overwhelm and the profound desire to dig deeper into the work I’ve been assigned.

Freedom and impact presented themselves as key words during the introspection. And while neither is likely to be my one word of 2024 (I’m still mulling on it), they remain as beacons, helping to illuminate my choices this year.

What’s driving you at this moment? And where are you heading?

MG Book Club at Tombolo

Yesterday I had the opportunity to join the monthly MG book club at Tombolo books. It was a small but engaged group and the members (all girls) had great questions and observations about The Many Fortunes of Maya.

I loved teaching 4th grade and one of my favorite things to do was having conversations about books. I do wish I had the presence of mind to ask them more questions (they were asking plenty of me), but I loved the discussion.

Color flyer showing the author holding copies of her book, while standing in front of a
Here’s the flyer from Tombolo!

I especially enjoyed asking the girls if they knew what a people pleaser was (Maya has some of those tendencies) and who she most wanted to please. Many of them surprised me by saying she wanted to please Ginger. As the author, my focus was showing Maya as wanting to please her dad, so the best friend angle caught me off guard.

I want to read it again – it’s been a while, ha! – and see if I can find the clues that make readers think Maya wants to please her best friend.

Have you read the Many Fortunes of Maya? Shameless plug, yes. Did you notice Maya’s people pleasing tendencies? Who did she want to please the most? What about you? Are you a people pleaser? Who do you want to please the most?

On Chapter 50

This thing called life… I’m still here, still living it, loving it, and the older I get, the more I know I can’t take it for granted.

At the beach, celebrating 49!

Today is my 49th birthday, and I’m acutely aware that in ten years, I’ll be the same age my mother was when she died.

So here I am, done with 49 rotations around the sun, 49 chapters in the book of life, and today marks the first day, the first page, of the next.

I miss blogging. The longer form thinking on the page soothes my introverted soul. In honor of this 50th trip, this 50th chapter, I am rededicating myself to this space.

And so it begins.

Promises, Memory and Time

Snapshot of the Tampa Bay near a boat dock. There are houses in the background and bird, perhaps a sea gull, flying low.

Sam answered on the second ring. 

“Why hello there,” his familiar voice rang out. Still warm, still friendly, but softer, frailer than I remembered. 

“Guess what?” I ask.

“You’re coming back.” It wasn’t a question. I giggled to myself at the quiet sureness.

“How did you know?” 

“Well, when you left, you said you’d return, you just didn’t know exactly when.”

I smiled at his recollection. At the truth of it. 

City of St. Petersburg welcome monument. Tall, blue figure with pink tiles.

It’s been nine years since I left St. Pete for Atlanta. Even though I’d only lived there a couple of years, St. Pete is the only place I’ve truly felt “home.”

When I departed in 2013, I was excited to leave, to start a new life in my old state. But I told folks on both sides of the GA/FL line, that I’d return to the sunshine state one day. 

“I’ll be back,” I’d told my Floridian friends. “I’m not sure if it’ll be five years or ten, but at some point, I’ll be back.”

Sam remembered. 

At first, I actively counted down the years until we could go back. But eventually, I found myself in a groove, no longer X-ing days off my calendar.  

Sooner than I expected, opportunity and circumstance coincided, and we decided that the time was now.

So here we are, surrounded by boxes and tape and markers, finalizing all the things one must make final before picking up a life and moving it elsewhere. 

In just over two weeks, we’ll be making our way back to the land of sun.