Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lunch with Friends

This came to me today from a friend that I value very much.  After you read this, I think you'll understand ...

"One day I had lunch with some friends. Bob, a short, balding golfer-type about 69 years old, came along with them.  All in all, it was a pleasant bunch.

When the menus were presented, we ordered salads, sandwiches, and soups, all except for Bob who said, "Ice Cream, please -- two scoops, both of them chocolate."

At first, I wasn't sure my ears heard him right, and the others were aghast, as well. "Oh, and along with some heated apple pie." Bob added, completely unabashed.

We tried to act quite nonchalant, as if people did this all the time. But when our orders were brought out, I found that I didn't enjoy mine.  I couldn't take my eyes off Bob as his pie a-la-mode went down. I noticed that the other guys couldn't believe it either. They ate their lunches silently and grinned suspiciously.

The next time I went out to eat, I called and invited Bob. I lunched on white meat tuna and whole grain bread. He ordered a parfait. when I smiled, he asked if he amused me. I answered, "Yes, you do, but also you confuse me. How come you order rich desserts for lunch, while I feel I must be sensible?"

Bob laughed and explained, "I'm tasting all that is possible.  I try to eat the foods I need, and I do the things that I should do so I'll be healthy, but listen, life's so short, my friend! I hate missing out on something good. This year I realized how old I was."  He smiled, thoughtfully.  "I haven't ever been this old before.

Before I die, I've decided to try those things I had always ignored. I haven't smelled all the flowers yet; there are trout streams I haven't fished; there are more hot fudge sundaes to wolf down and kites to be flown over my head in the wind. There are too many golf courses I haven't played, and I've not laughed at all the jokes yet. Oh, and I've missed a lot of sporting events ... and potato chips ... and cokes.

I want to wade barefoot again in puddles and feel the ocean spray on my face. I want to sit in a country church one more time and thank God for everything. I want peanut butter spread every day on my morning toast; I want un-timed long distance calls to all the folks I love the most.

I haven't cried at all the movies yet, or walked in the morning rain. I need to feel wind on my face, and I want to be in love again. So, my friend, if I choose to have the dessert, instead of having dinner, then if I die before night fall, I'll be able to say I died a winner, because I missed out on nothing. I filled my heart's desire. I had that final chocolate mousse before my life expired.  I would die a happy man."

With that, I called the waitress over. "S'cuse me, Ma'am. I've changed my mind. I want what he's having -- only add even more whipped cream!"

This is my gift to you -- let's make this our annual Friends Day. The rest of the year, we'll live well, love much and laugh often -- in other words, we'll be happy.  And we have to be mindful that happiness isn't based on possessions, power, or prestige. It's all about relationships with the people we like and love and respect.

Money might talk, but chocolate ice cream sings ...

Thank you, Craig Latham! Many hugs, my friend.

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Book News: "Barking Spiders 2"

The Sequel Book 

News! (a little shamless plug)

"Barking Spiders 2" (October 2011) 

Nominated for the 2011 Cybils Children's Book Award in Poetry!

Finalists announced January 1, 2012 
Winner announced February 14, 2012.

Buy Barking Spiders 2 at

About the Book:

In this sequel to her first book, CJ Heck continues her journey to help children experience life through humor, insight, sensitivity, and with the understanding that like adults, children wish to make sense of the world they live in.

Read a Preview/Excerpt of Barking Spiders 2


"My grandchildren--4 1/2 and 7--and I had enjoyed reading and sharing CJ's first children's poetry book for children (Barking Spiders) and were very happy to learn that she had written a second volume. As a mom, grandma, and school librarian, I am always delighted to find books for children that are entertaining, educational, and FUN to read; that you just need to read aloud and can't wait to share with others. This one is all that but manages to stay above "too cutesy" or "talking down" to children. 
The kids just know they like what's in there--both the poems and the illustrations. My granddaughter had to get the first book out so she could re-read it and compare the two books to see if she "thought the second one was as good as the first one." She declared that, indeed, it is. She took it it school to share with her friends and classmates. 
Poetry is such a good way to get children interested in words and in reading..CJ's books are fun ones to add to your collection.  Two thumbs up from each of the three of us!" ~Jot 2000 

"The book had great poems. Each poem painted a picture for me. The words made them come to life. As I read them I felt like I was right there. Also, the variety of the poems made them more interesting. No poems seemed like any of the others. I am happy I got to read the book. Thank you!" ~Alyssa (Colorado) 

"In this follow up to her popular first book, Barking Spiders and other Such Stuff, CJ cultivates and enriches the innocent spirit within us all. As you read to a child, a parent is transported in heart and feelings to the simpler and more innocent time of youth. The two hearts bridge the gap of age and meet in the middle, where heart and soul are eternally young." ~Magic Man

"We all know, the mind of a child is something we'll never fully understand. However, CJ Heck has written three books that prove she is the master of a child's illogical, logic, a child's innocence, their unfiltered honesty and boundless love.

Barking Spiders, Barking Spiders 2, and Me Too! Pre-school Poetry all sit on my bookshelf waiting for me to read to my grandchildren. If a child has thought about it, CJ has written about it. No matter how many times I read CJ's poetry, I am amazed at how well it correlates to watching the antics of my children and grandchildren.

The good news is that us grown-ups enjoy CJ's writing as much as the children do. Enjoy the laughter, wonder and joy of a child. Read CJ Heck." ~Russell Daily

***Note:  We didn't win, but that's okay!  It was an honor to have my book nominated.

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Friday, November 4, 2011

Children and Rules

Playing Dress Up
I remember one of the hardest things about being a child was learning the rules of growing up.  To a kid, things were always black or white, good or bad, and right or wrong.

The way I learned best was by listening to and minding my parents, yes, but I also I learned by testing the very rules they imposed, and then finding out that there were consequences.  I spent a lot of time thinking about rules in the "naughty chair" ...

From a child's vantage point, grownups had it easy.  They could stay up as late as they wanted.  They didn't have to go to school every day and sit in a classroom.

They could do anything they wanted to do and, most important, they held the key to just about everything in a kid's life, too -- what they should eat and when; what they should wear; where they could go; when to come inside; when to take a bath; when to go to bed; when they should get up; when to pick up toys or clean their room; even what they could watch on TV.

Growing up couldn't come fast enough. I could hardly wait not to have any more rules ...


by CJ Heck

Parents sure have lots of rules,
things to do and not do.
I’ll be glad when I get big
and growing up is gone through.

I won’t need a dentist
or a barber for my hair,
and I’ll go buy a chocolate cake
that I won’t have to share.

Maybe, I’ll stay up all night,
eat junk and watch TV.
If I want, I’ll sleep all day.
No more rules for me!

“How will you get up for work?
You might get fired”, Mom said.
“You won’t make any money
by sleeping late in bed.”

Why would I need money?
Who needs money anyway?
Rules are bad. When I grow up
I’ll do fun things all day.

"How will you pay your rent?
How will you buy a car?
How would you buy your grownup clothes?
(you’ll be bigger than you are) .

You’ll have to buy the food you eat.
You’ll have to have a phone.
How will you pay your heating bill,
‘cause surely you’ll buy a home?"

I hadn’t thought of all of that.
I can’t do that stuff.
It doesn’t sound like fun at all
and I don’t know enough.

Mom said as I get bigger,
the rules get bigger, too,
but when we start at my age,
growing up is fun to do.

She said, "People grow like houses,
step by step, and brick by brick.
That’s the way we all grow up
and having rules is part of it."

(from the book, "Barking Spiders 2")

Isn't it funny, how we long for the days of childish innocence and gentle rules ...

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck