Wednesday, October 2, 2013

263 DAYS: A Renewed Focus, A New Cause

Kristin receiving one of many Chemo treatments
It has been 263 days since my last post. During that absence I have gone though quite a few life changes and overcome some tough hurdles in my life. Needless to say, in spite of my blog’s title and theme, I did not do a good job of defying procrastination - that is until recently.

The biggest hurdle I stumbled over was learning that my youngest daughter had decided to give up her first child for adoption – my first grandchild. Although I offered my support in her decision, I did not agree with it. Secretly it ate at my insides like a festering cancer. It was like losing a child.

I think adoption is a wonderful gift, and have come across many people in my life that have benefited from it, but for me, in this situation, I couldn’t help but feel immensely hurt. I would never be able to hold my little grandson in my arms - squeeze him, tickle him until he begged me to stop, teach him how to throw a football, share family photos and memories with him, watch his eyes light up at Christmas, take him to his first ballgame, read bedtime stories to him, witness his first little league game, or never ever hear the words “Papa,” or “Grandpa” come from his little mouth.

I was devastated.

Life has thrown many tough hurdles in front of me throughout my life, so I was a veteran at dealing with the pain – so I thought. I swallowed my despair and kept going. What I didn’t realize was how the misery inside me was affecting those around me, specifically my home life. I was making everyone around me miserable too. I was finding every excuse under the sun not to write, even though deep inside words begged to be put to virtual paper, and so I languished.

This internal battle went on for several months unconsciously until it was brought to my attention by someone close to me.  It wasn’t until then that I had a moment of clarity and fully understood that I was suffering from depression.

After a few counseling sessions and some heart to heart talks, the weight - the burden laboring on my troubled heart was lifted. My vision, my lust for life returned, and so did my passion for writing.

Recently I launched my first self-published eBook “Her Special Day Shoes.” The story of Rachael was born from a picture that won the photo contest I started when I launched my blog a few years ago. Sue, the sweet lady who entered the contest, submitted a picture of her daughter Rachael’s shoes that she wore on her wedding day.

However, the feelings of adulation and pride were short-lived when I learned that my close friend Kristin had been diagnosed with Stage 3 HER2 breast cancer. There was no way I could be happy for myself when I knew that someone that I loved and cared about so deeply was in for the fight of her life. That, and my recent personal battles seemed pale in comparison to what Kristin was going through.

I wanted to do something special for Kristin and her family, and was fumbling for ideas until late one night while lying in bed – it hit me. It seemed that it was fate that October, the designated Breast Cancer Awareness month, was just a few days away. So I decided to dedicate my book to Kristin and donate all of the profits from it to her and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Link to Kristin's National Breast Cancer Foundation page

The following days were a whirlwind of activity, and few hours of sleep, as I prepared for the re-launch of my eBook on Oct. 1st. Everything went off without a hitch and I’m proud to say that with generosity of the community at large, at the time of this posting, “Her Special Day Shoes,” has skyrocketed from the top 200k downloads to the top 35k downloads at Amazon.com in under 24hrs.

Thank you to everyone who has or will purchase this humble little book, or has helped me spread the word. Please continue to do so.

Please help me spread this video. Thank you!

SOME IMPORTANT LINKS
Amazon Link to “Her Special Day Shoes”: http://www.amazon.com/Her-Special-Day-Shoes-ebook/dp/B00EZEXN74/
Kristin’s National Breast Cancer Foundation page: http://www.stayclassy.org/herspecialdayshoes/
Kristin’s Story and her Caring Bridge page: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kristinkrizowilliamso
Tribute video to Kristin from me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7ciLlW5md4

Some of my writer friends graciously supporting the cause, THANK YOU!

Chiz over at Chiz Chat: http://chiz-chat.blogspot.com/2013/10/her-special-day-shoes.html
Daniel over at Nest Expressed: http://nest-expressed.com/two-eighty-six/


Michael A. Walker
Defying Procrastination 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Celebrity Encounters #2: Stallone, Nielsen, Zsa Zsa Gabor


Sylvester Stallone, Bridgette Nielsen, & Zsa Zsa Gabor
Sometimes you run into celebrities right where you would expect to: a concert, the Academy Awards, the Playboy Mansion, or the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Such was the case when I had a chance encounter with Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, and Zsa Zsa Gabor at a Polo match. 

It was the Spring of 1986. My family (Mom, Dad, and youngest sister Yolanda) had gone to visit my sister, Debbie, and her family in Hollywood, which was just a short jaunt from our home in Vegas.

Celebrity Encounters #1

The evening after our arrival, Debbie invited us to go watch a polo match with her at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. She had been taking equestrian riding lessons and had gotten quite good at it. In the process, she had gained an interest in polo and acquired season ticket passes. She only had three tickets, so we did what any other normal family would do; we held an Indian leg wrestling match. Not really, but that would have been fun to watch. Actually only Yolanda and I showed any interest in going, so off we went.

Me, Justin, and Ogbar the Boxer on my sister's boat - circa 1981
I suppose by Hollywood, CA standards, my sister and her family were considered middle-class, but from my perspective they were bazzilionaires. Debbie was an executive assistant at a law firm that counted Johnny Carson, NBC executives, and other celebrities as their clients. She and her husband, Bobby, also owned and operated a respectable and well established dry cleaning business in the area. In their garage they had a Mercedes and a BMW 635SCI (sweet ride). On the ocean they had a 36’ California class cruiser (which I had the pleasure of swabbing the deck on a few times).  

I’d say they were doing alright. Nothing that I was accustomed to. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Light Bulb


Lightbulb by Susie Porisch
The other day I was digging through some boxes in the garage desperately trying to find some old photos when I can across a box with some very old Folio folders from my days back in high school. One particular folder caught my eye; it contained a stack of creative writing papers from my freshman year in high school. 

I started reading through the papers, getting lost in a time long ago. It was a pleasant trip back down memory lane. Some of the papers I remember writing, some not so much. I found it interesting (and also very entertaining) to read the grades and comments from my high school English teacher, Mrs. Walton. They all contained a reoccurring theme - great story, poor spelling and grammar.

One of the first papers I ever wrote in Mrs. Walton's class was entitled, The Light Bulb. At this point Mrs. Walton had very little exposure to my poor spelling and grammar, so her words were sweet, and so was my grade.

It read, "9.5/10 Good Job! Except for a couple of silly little errors."

As I continued to read through the papers, my grades got worse, and Mrs. Walton's sweet words began to wane. One of the later ones simply read in big read letters, "Get a dictionary!"