WRITING SAMPLES

Below, please find some samples of writing I have done in recent years. I have also written a children’s book that is awaiting illustrations to be submitted for publication.

A Life-Saving Decision (written 2012)

Cozumel, Mexico is a truly magical island. It is difficult to put into words how this place
can completely embrace you and give you a sense of contentment and peace. Those
who have experienced it will know what I mean. Beyond that feeling, the island itself is
spectacular. The crystal clear turquoise water is breathtaking. There are beautiful parks scattered all around. The east side of the island is marked by pristine beaches. The island is steeped in the Mexican and Mayan cultures with celebrations throughout the year. And the people of the island are some of the most genuine and generous people you will ever meet. For all of these reasons and more, my husband and I vowed many years ago that we would retire here in 2015. As a move in that direction, we obtained a year-round lease on a studio apartment in 2008 so we could vacation as often and for as long as we were able.

The following year, 2009, was one of significant change and major decisions. As a
university professor and department chair, my life was consumed with work and was
extremely stressful. It was so stressful that my lifestyle was far from healthy, and I had
been diagnosed with congestive heart failure the previous year. In December 2009, it
was time to get serious. We gave up our lease and purchased a beautiful ocean-front
condominium on Cozumel, still with plans to retire in 2015.

2010 saw more stress and worsening health. Work had reached the point that it was
intolerable, so I took an early retirement in July. At that point, my life depended on it.
By December 7, we had sold everything we owned in Texas and made the move to
Cozumel.

At 54, I could not access my retirement without penalty for another 5 years, so I needed
to find some means of income. In Mexico, that is difficult for foreigners and the pay is
minimal; minimum wage is about $6 USD per day. I did have a little time to figure out
what I wanted to do, though.

As one can imagine, we spend a fair amount of time picking up friends at the airport. It’s
fascinating to watch all the people as they come out of Customs. You see exhaustion,
excitement, frustration, and a host of other emotions on their faces. The thing that
frequently caught our attention was the families who were coming here for vacation.

Traveling with children can be a challenge. That may be the understatement of all
understatements. Dealing with the children themselves is challenge enough as you work
your way through airports and try to keep them entertained on the flight(s). On top of
that, though, is the thing we noticed most. Holy cow, the amount of gear parents have
to wrangle when they travel! In addition to all the heavy luggage, there are strollers, car
seats, pack ‘n plays and a host of other things. We never failed to feel sorry for these
parents. Eureka! A business idea was born.

Baby in Paradise opened for business in December 2012. We rent all manner of baby
and toddler gear to island visitors so they don’t have to bring it with them. We have
everything I mentioned before plus beach toys, high chairs, monitors and more. We
even deliver anywhere on the island and pick up when it’s time for visitors to go home.
The business is small but growing steadily thanks to a strong social marketing presence
and advertisement on websites that travelers frequent. I plan to expand, adding other
services, and I have a couple of other business ideas in my back pocket for the future.

Today, my life is nothing like it was 3 or 4 years ago. I wake up to a beautiful blue
ocean view looking across to Playa del Carmen on the mainland. Mornings are spent on
deliveries/pick ups and other business-related activities. A little time is devoted to
personal necessities like shopping and cleaning. Then it’s time for me. By 2:00 or 3:00, I
am out in the sun, be it at the pool or the beach. If I want, I can snorkel or just relax at
El Cielo (a most beautiful and enchanting spot to tie up a boat and just enjoy the
shallow water and starfish). My husband is a diver, so he is out exploring the reefs every
chance he gets. The diving here is some of the best in the world. One of the things we
really love is the ability to walk so many places.

Life moves at a much slower pace now. I recently learned that there are no further signs
of my congestive heart failure. I have lost 100 pounds. My blood pressure medications
have been reduced. Life is like a dream. My business is beginning to cover living
expenses, which are very low here. You can live quite well on $20,000 to $30,000 per
year. The people are truly wonderful and welcoming. I don’t think I could have ever
dreamed that my life could be so peaceful. Almost anything I could want or need is here,
including great medical care at unbelievably affordable rates.

I was a teacher before; today I teach people about this magical island! My goal now is to
get more of my friends to join me in this spectacular lifestyle!

Like a Local – Cozumel (written 2014)

We made the move to Cozumel in 2010, selling everything we owned in Texas and never
looking back. I retired from the life of a university professor/administrator, but my husband maintains his company via the internet.  The relaxed pace of life and the beautiful waters
surrounding the island are unrivaled, and the people are genuine. Here are my tips on ways
to enjoy your time on our diverse island.

Tourist Tips
The primary industry of Cozumel is tourism; there is certainly no lack of experiences.
Beach clubs are very popular, but a memorable experience for the entire family is found at
Chankanaab Park. Start with a traditional Mayan steam bath; reservations needed. You’ll
leave this spiritual experience relaxed, with a sense of well-being. Swim with dolphins, stroll
through the Pre-Hispanic ruin replicas, walk through botanical gardens. You may also want
to swim in the ocean and try snorkeling.

The east side of Cozumel is more primitive, with no electricity. A nice day at the beach
can be had at one of the more local east-side beach bars. Chen Rio is very popular among
the locals as it has some large, protected inlets for swimming in the ocean with no worries of
riptides or dangerous currents. The restaurant serves a nice variety of dishes to please
everyone in the family.

Off the Beaten Path
In July, 2015 Cozumel hosted artists from around the world who participated in Sea
Walls: Murals for Oceans. 36 murals were painted on buildings around the island. See the
real Cozumel while viewing some magnificent murals; maps are available to guide you.

Alternatively, you could sign up for the Cozumel Bar Hop. This tour has a guide who
shares the history of Cozumel as you travel from the west to the east side. Stop at four
different beach clubs and have a free shot of their signature drink. But, don’t feel like you
must consume alcohol. If you want to eat, each has a nice menu. This is a nice way to see
the “wild side” of the island.

If It’s Free, It’s For Me
Benito Juarez Park is in the heart of downtown. Recently renovated with water
fountains, benches and trees, there is shopping all around if that strikes your fancy, and there
are loads of wonderful restaurants. This park is great for people-watching, relaxing and
having a great time.

How Not to Look Like a Tourist
Oh my goodness … do not walk around with a balloon hat on your head from a popular
bar! We call that the “tag and release program;” you’re tagged with balloons so all the shops
you pass spot the tourist! The other dead give-away, especially for women, is walking around
town wearing your bathing suit and maybe a cover-up. The same goes for men in their swim
trunks or Speedos. If you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it in Cozumel.

Eat Around the Town
Fear not the street vendors! For a uniquely Mexican dish, try the esquites (Mexican corn
salad). The churros are divine if you want something a little sweeter. And, if you have the
chance to eat the cochinita, do it! As for a really local restaurant, it has to be Otates. Great
tacos, frijoles charros especial (you’ll be spoiled for life), guacamole and pozole (a wonderful
soup) are all memorable.

Whatever you do, don’t ____ .
Don’t be afraid to try your Spanish. The locals appreciate the effort and will often
politely correct you. Mispronunciation could be mildly embarrassing, but it’s great to make
the effort. Example: cocina (ko-seen-a) means kitchen. Pronounce it as ko-cheen-a and you
just said something about a girl who gets around. Not likely what you meant, I’ll bet.

The Best $10 You’ll Ever Spend
On this one, I’ll return to the food. You can easily eat at Otates and other truly local
restaurants for less than $10/person!

Icebreaker
Cozumeleños are a very proud people. If you really want to talk with them, ask them
what they like most about Cozumel. You’ll likely get a bit of history along with a good sense
of the culture.

Photo Ops
As you walk along the malecon (the oceanfront), there are many wonderful statues with
beautiful ocean backgrounds.

Gotta Have It
Avoid the usual fare that you see in every shop (sombreros and maracas). Homemade
leather sandals and huaraches can be found in places like Déjà Vu, a great little shop near
Punta Langosta with beautiful jewelry hand made by a trustworthy artisan. For nice clothing,
check out Los Cinco Soles.

For the Jeopardy File
The east side of Cozumel is a protected turtle sanctuary for Loggerhead and Hawksbill
turtles. From May through September, females come ashore at night to lay their eggs.

Excerpt – Woman on Top (please click on the title to open a new page for this 10-page excerpt)

Shore Excursioneer 

Naples Full Day Pompeii and Herculaneum Excursion

Explore ancient Greek & Roman cities on this incredible full-day adventure near Naples, Italy! Learn what life was like in the 1st century!

Meet your driver outside your cruise port and board your air-conditioned transportation for a 40-minute ride to Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been determined through excavations that the town was actually founded around the 7th-6th century BC! When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, this incredible city, including inhabitants, was buried under 13-20 feet of volcanic ash and pumice! A great many artifacts and structures were preserved for over 2,000 years thanks to the lack of oxygen and moisture underground.  

While in Pompeii, will see the forum, the baths, and many houses, along with many spectacular artefacts and reproductions! From all of the many discoveries, it has been learned that the soil here was very fertile in ancient times, producing the agricultural products that sustained the people of the city. There were also vineyards during that time, which allowed not only for local consumption of wine, but exports as well! Today, excavations on the site have been suspended in order to preserve what remains buried. You will spend approximately 2 hours at Pompeii with your guide!

After a great lunch of either pasta, roast beef, or pizza at a nearby restaurant, you will take a short drive to Herculaneum for another guided walk! This ancient Roman city lies in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of the few cities that can still be seen in its original state. Herculaneum was buried much more deeply than Pompeii due to its proximity to Vesuvius! Consequently, the roofs, beds, doors, food, and many skeletons have been well preserved, even items made of wood! Herculaneum was a wealthier town compared to Pompeii as evidenced by the fine houses and extensive use of colored marble! You will walk the streets and see many of the buildings that have been unearthed, but keep in mind that this is just scratching the surface! Only about 25% has been uncovered! One of the buildings you will see is the magnificent Villa of the Papyri – named for the many scrolls recovered – with its four terraces that extend down toward the sea!

At the conclusion of your time in Herculaneum – about an hour and a half – your driver will return you to your cruise port. Your adventure in ancient Rome and Greece will leave you feeling as if you had lived there yourself!

OLDEN NORWAY

Olden is located at the inner end of the Nordfjord district of western Norway. Known as the Gateway to the Glaciers, its scenery has been said to be unsurpassed in Norway.

Olden and the Nordfjord district have it all when it comes to topography – coastline, valleys, mountains, and glaciers. This region boasts the largest mainland glacier in all of Europe – Jostedalsbreen – as well as Hornindalsvatnet, the deepest lake.

The vast majority of Nordfjord’s history centers around the Vikings. It was the major destination for Viking warriors, and a number of museums around the area have artifacts on display. In Rygg, Gloppen, there is a stone cross dating back to the late Viking or early Middle Ages. Also, in Loen, there are over 20 burial mounds, one of which is an unburned grave believed to be that of a woman from the Iron Age.

The climate in Nordfjord is cool throughout the year. From May through October – the summer months – the average temperature is 43-58F (6-14C). In July, perhaps one of the warmest months, the average temperature is 58F (14C), and the minimum temperature is 55F (13C).

Singerheimen consists of nine buildings constructed by the American painter and millionaire William Henry Singer, Jr. The site, containing a great deal of Art Nouveau furniture that was handpainted in Paris, can be toured in the summer. In addition to exploring museums in the area, visitors to Olden and Nordfjord have a wealth of outdoor activities from which to choose. Alpine skiing is available year round as is hiking along the more than 200 trails in the area. Perhaps the most popular experience is to walk up the old stones to the summit of Mount Skala for the panoramic views of the fjords, mountains, and glaciers. Visitors really need to be in good physical shape, though, to make the hike.

For travelers who would like to try the local fare, game meats such as wild deer, wild reindeer, and moose are served in restaurants. Gombe, the traditional dish of curdled milk that has been boiled down with sugar, is also available. And one can find wonderful local bakeries that offer fresh bread, biscuits, and cakes.

Olden is a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for spectacular scenery.

Fun Fact: 98-99% of the electricity in Norway comes from hydroelectric power, surpassing all other countries in the world.

CANADA

Known for its wildlife and scenic beauty, Canada is the second largest country in the world by total area. The majority of its population resides in urban areas near its southern border with the United States, the longest land border in the world.

The colonization of Canada can be traced back to 1000 AD with the Norsemen. Beginning the 16th century, it was colonized in various locations by both the British and the French. As a result, Canada is officially a bilingual country, with English and French as the national languages. By the late 18th century, British North America had acquired control of the country. Achieving near independence in 1931 with the Statute of Westminster, Canada became a constitutional monarchy with the reigning King or Queen of England serving as its head of state. Canada consists of 3 territories and 10 provinces. Historically, its military played a significant role in the Allied invasion of Italy, the Normandy landings, and the Battle of Normandy. When the Netherlands were occupied by Germany in World War II, Canada provided asylum to its monarchy.

The climate of Canada varies from one extreme to the other. Winters in the interior and the prairie provinces have severe wind chills. In the noncoastal areas, snow falls for 6 months of the year, while in the north it is year round. In coastal areas, the winters tend to be mild and rainy. The most populated areas of Canada experience summers that are generally short-lived and hot. It is not uncommong to experience temperatures above 95F (35C).

Much of Canada’s attraction lies in its outdoors. Wildlife is in abundance, and visitors can see bear, whales, and other animals. For example, Churchill, Manitoba has polar bears, as well as beluga whales. In Riding Mountain National Park and Parkland, there are a wide variety of Black Bears ranging in color from blonde to red.

For visitors who are not as much into wildlife, Canada has countless festivals to satisfy every taste. April and May are a great time for music festivals. Attend the Canadian Music Week with over 900 bands covering the spectrum of genres. For those who enjoy chamber music, the Scotia Festival of Music is an excellent choice. There is even a music venue at the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. Not necessarily into music? Perhaps theater festivals such as the Stratford Festival in Ontario or the Shaw Festival in Niagara on the Lake would be more enjoyable. Perhaps the most popular festival in all of Canada is the Calgary Stampede, celebrating the ranching culture of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Canada has a wealth of outdoor activities available for visitors. Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and hockey are all very popular. In addition to those physical activities, tourists can enjoy hiking the nature trails of the first national park in Canada – Banff National Park. Other parks of note include Niagara Falls, Jasper National Park, and Algonquin Park.

For the gastrotourist, some of the typical Canadian fare is a must. Try beaver tails, a fried dough with sugar and cinnamon. For more savory dishes, there are Halifax donairs (sliced beef meatloaf in pita bread), tourtière (a meat pie), and plorine (pork pie). And don’t overlook the poutine, consisting of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy. When visiting the larger cities of Canada, there is a wide variety of ethnic cuisine available for the more adventurous.

Canada is a place for everyone. From festival lovers to outdoor enthusiasts, it is a country of many delights.