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Peach Cobbler for Breakfast

Peach Cobbler for Breakfast is now available

My long awaited book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast, surviving a life-altering event, is now available as an e-book at Amazon.com. The paperback version will be ready for purchase around Thanksgiving, just in time for holiday gift-giving.

The early response has been very gratifying and exciting. It is my hope that the book will help anyone who is lost and struggling to find his or her way after a great loss either through death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, relocation, etc. After losing seven members of my family in a two year period, including my father and husband only six months apart, I realized I had to make a choice that would determine my future happiness and quality of life. I could either give in to the pain, sorrow, and negativity surrounding my life and live as a Negative Nancy the rest of my life. Or, I could chose to be positive and live a happy and fruitful life. The journey wasn’t easy but if I can make it anyone can. I evaluated my life, made a plan, and worked it.

You can read an excerpt from the book below and comments made by those who have previewed it. Also, please join me at the web site for the book and the Facebook page set up specifically for Peach Cobbler for Breakfast. I welcome your comments.

Blog for the Book

Introduction

PeachCobbler Cover“Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive…” This quote is immediately familiar to Superman fans of all ages; but, these were the only words I could think of as I heard the diagnosis of cancer time and again in a two year period.

This disease had invaded our family faster than a bullet and had decimated it with the force of a powerful locomotive and now I needed the strength of a superman to survive.

When I was in my 40s I went through the worst time of my life. In a two year span I lost six family members, including my father and husband within six months of each other – my father to a brain tumor and my husband to bladder cancer. It is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been through a similar experience what it feels like to lose the center of your universe.

I will spare the reader and myself the pain of reliving every detail of that time. At a time when my friends were planning high school graduations, colleges, and weddings for their children, I was planning or attending funerals. I was angry at the world, afraid of the future, and confused.

Much of the time I was in a state of shock, numb to both joy and pain. I seemed to live day to day in a haze trying to cope with each crisis as it came along. Once you have been hit by a speeding train and endured the pain of impact you become numb to repetitive shocks. I do not mean to minimize the magnitude of the events but rather to put everything into perspective. Things, literally, could not get much worse. Everyone I loved had been touched in some way by the catastrophic events surrounding us.

Perhaps our bodies learn to insulate us against pain, death and sorrow so we can carry on. We learn we can make it through one day and then the next and we continue living our lives one day at a time until we eventually make it out of the dark valley. It may be like living as a zombie but it works.

An old Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I repeated this to myself many times when the journey looked too difficult or I didn’t have the energy to continue. I reminded myself that I didn’t have to do the whole journey in one day and, if all I could do that day was take one step, then that was all that was needed.

I kept the pain to myself and put on my happy face when going out into the world. I did my crying in the shower so my husband didn’t know how worried I was. I tried to keep positive for him and others. A morbid curiosity surrounds people with a debilitating or fatal disease. It’s almost as if people are searching the faces of the patient or his loved ones for any sign things are getting worse. I wanted to be sure people saw only signs of hope in my face so I applied my smile each morning along with my makeup and faced the world with a façade of confidence.

Background

David and I met at church when I was 15 and he was 17. We dated throughout high school and college and then married after dating for seven years. We fell in love toMoon River by Andy Williams and Today by the New Christy Minstrels, held hands during My Fair Lady and Sound of Music, cheered our losing football team at Marshall University and stole a kiss whenever possible. When we finally did get married there was a large clap of thunder just when the minister pronounced us man and wife and everyone said it was the man upstairs saying, “It’s about time!”

It was during the turbulent 60s and it seemed that our lives were in as much turmoil as the rest of the world, but we finally realized our goals of graduating from college. There were the pressures of college, work, integration, bussing, demonstrations, drugs, flower power, communism, the bomb, and the ever-present and growing disruption of the Vietnam War (or as some preferred–conflict). It certainly “conflicted” our lives because if the guys didn’t keep up a certain GPA, dropped out of college, or didn’t finish within the expected four years, then there was the draft to look forward to. One professor said almost daily, “You guys better study or you will be slogging around in the rice paddies.” We swore he was a recruiter for the draft board.

After graduation and a brief stint with Uncle Sam, we were finally free to strike out on our own. We headed for the big city of Columbus, Ohio, which seemed perfect for us. It was three hours from home, which meant it was close enough so we could get home quickly in case of an emergency, and far enough away so relatives couldn’t drop in unexpectedly. I think those were my Dad’s words.

My first visit to Columbus was something right out of The Jetsons’ cartoon when my family, David, and I attended the Ohio State Fair in 1962. At the time it was perhaps the largest state fair in the country. We drove into the city on one of the first interstate highways I had ever seen and whirling above the city were helicopters whizzing by. This was all very new and exciting for a kid from the hills of West Virginia. As we left late that night, fireworks were bursting over the city and I felt as if I had been to the City of Oz. I immediately fell in love with Columbus and when David and I married a few years later we decided that was the place for us.

Armed with our degrees and naïve enthusiasm we headed for the big city – he to become an architect and I a teacher. We found jobs and changed jobs, we made money and lost money, we started and closed businesses, we loved and we fought. We had the usual ups and downs and disappointments most people go through but, through it all, we said that the only thing that mattered was that we had each other. We felt we could survive and conquer almost anything as long as we were side by side.

All too quickly 23 years of married life passed and it became apparent that David would not survive the bladder cancer that had stricken him at age 45. As I watched him during those last days in the hospital I thought of the good times we had but also of the hectic life we had led. Where did it get us? I would gladly give up everything to know he would continue by my side forever. Why hadn’t we taken more vacations or weekend trips? Why hadn’t we found more time for just us? Life is too short.

For the first time I had to face the world alone. I may not be Superman but I will survive this hell.

1      The Premonition – dark storm clouds

Become a good noticer. Pay attention to the feelings, hunches, and intuitions that flood your life each day. If you do, you will see that premonitions are not rare, but a natural part of our lives.

Larry Dossey

The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives

It was a wonderful vacation with our good friends, Kevin and Margie, filled with sun, fun, surf and turf, and margaritas. But I can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong. Maybe it’s just the eerie darkness preceding the storm coming in from the mainland.

As we cross the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge leaving our favorite beach island to return home, it looks as if we are spiraling directly into the storm clouds. I can’t suppress the shudder that suddenly shakes my body. “This is silly,” I tell myself. “You are being overly dramatic with the dark clouds ahead.” Little did I know that my reactions were, perhaps, a premonition of what was to come. There would be a time I would long to return to this moment.

Life is good. David, my high school sweetheart, and I have been married for 20 plus years. We live in our dream house that he designed, he has a promising position with a leading engineering/architectural firm, and plans are in the works to make him a vice president. We have many good friends, a church that feels like our home away from home, and a loving family.

Life has not always been so fulfilling. There were disappointments with several failed businesses, job changes, money problems, and the inability to have children. But, we all have our problems and we viewed ours as no different from anyone else’s. We can weather anything together.

Shortly after returning from vacation, David complains of a recurring bladder infection he has had since spring. When he calls in a refill for the antibiotic, he decides to revisit the doctor for a more thorough exam. The doctor orders a brief surgical procedure called a “cystoscopy” and we schedule it for the upcoming Monday. The procedure will be done as an out-patient but will require some sedation as they insert a scope through the penis and into the bladder.

Long ago we had planned a last hurrah, warm weather get-away for the upcoming weekend with Kevin and Margie to take in the fall colors around Lake Erie. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful weekend. The weather was warm with a slight tinge of autumn in the air – one of those rare perfect days. The trees were brilliant colors of gold, orange, yellow, and florescent green splashed against a sapphire sky while Lake Erie glistened in the background like an array of Swarovski crystals. We laughed so much our sides hurt as we bounced around Kelly Island in a golf cart. On our return trip we stopped at local farmers’ markets to stock up on pumpkins, apples, Amish cheeses, and apple butter.

Kevin and Margie are good friends we met at church. We sing in the choir together, enjoy going to restaurants, and vacationing together. David and Kevin hold down the bass section and usually find some kind of mischief to get into and Margie is secretary to the minister, Rev. James. In addition, Kevin is treasurer for the church and I am president of the Board of Trustees. The one rule we have when we travel together is no church business allowed.

Early Monday morning I drive David to the hospital and we hope to be home by lunch time. I wait in the overcrowded and overly hot waiting room. I wait and wait. It occurs to me that I have never met this doctor and perhaps he called for me but I missed him while trying to avoid the noisy and rowdy kids playing on the floor. The hospital is remodeling and it seems that most of the hospital’s population has crowded into this dusty, dirty, dingy 12’ x 12’ room.

Finally my name is called and a short, foreign doctor rushes up to me and begins talking. I don’t understand his accent; but, since he does not take me into the conference room, I expect to hear that everything is fine. But, different words are coming out of his mouth.

What did he say? Did he say the word “tumor”? Surely that is a mistake. Did he say they are keeping him overnight for observation? When and where did he say I could see my husband?

The doctor is gone just as suddenly as he appeared and I’m left in a daze. I feel faint and confused. I have to get out of this room and away from the chaos. I’m shaking and suddenly feel hysterical. I have to calm myself. I begin walking and taking deep breaths.

Although I want and need some comfort, I decide not to call my parents and upset everyone until I know more (both of David’s parents are deceased). I call Margie and she and Rev. James rush to the hospital. While waiting for them to arrive, I am directed to another floor where David will be admitted. I wait. I notice it is raining and the drops running down the dirty windows match the ones running down my cheeks.

Rev. James and Margie soon arrive and it is good to see their friendly faces. Rev. James is a former college football lineman and a big man with broad shoulders (literally and figuratively) and curly white hair. They are a welcome sight and exactly what I need right now.

By the time they bring David to his room the initial shock has worn off and we are there with smiling faces to greet him. Rev. James always has words of comfort and a joke or two so by the time they leave I am fine, David is OK, and the world is back on its axis.

Tomorrow David’s company is having a big reception to announce some re-organizational changes and among those changes is his promotion to vice-president.

I arrive at the hospital early to bring David home. We wait and wait. We begin to get uneasy because David needs time to get ready for the reception. I’m beginning to think I don’t like this doctor. Finally the doctor comes and, with the door wide open, he flings the covers back exposing David to all the world to remove the drainage tube from his penis. Now I know I don’t like this doctor!

Because he can’t drive for a short time I drive him to the reception. I watch him walk in and am very proud of him. It looks like our hard times are almost behind us.

About a week later we return to the doctor for the test results. He calls us back and we stand in a hallway as he casually leans against a file cabinet and tells us there was a mushroom shaped tumor; but they removed it. He tells us they will watch David every three months and if it recurs they will use a laser to remove the mushrooms.

I’m confused and am not sure if this is a good thing or not. Is it cancer? I ask about chemo and he says chemo is not needed. The atmosphere is easy and relaxed and the doctor seems upbeat and positive. We are not worried and we go to a Japanese restaurant to celebrate our good luck. I wish I had kept the fortune from the fortune cookie that night.

 

 

 

Book Update

Since I made the announcement of the publishing of my upcoming book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast—surviving a life-altering experience, many of you have sent messages of congratulations and good wishes. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I stopped by the mailbox on the way to meet my agent for lunch yesterday and found a beautiful note from my good friend and neighbor, Anne. When I showed it to my agent he suggested I post it on my blog to help promote the book. So, here it is—

 

Congratulations037

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations#2038

Thank you, Anne. The hard part for me in this process will be learning to promote myself. I have promoted organizations, activities, and celebrities during my long and varied career; in fact, I have made a profession of making other people look good. I guess it is now time to switch gears and promote myself.

To give you more of an idea of what the book is about I am listing a brief chapter summary. I will be running brief excerpts from the book occasionally on this site.

 

 

Peach Cobbler for Breakfast

A journey from self-discovery to recovery after a life-altering event

By Sheila Moore Thornburg Dobbie

 

 

Introduction

 

Chapter 1

            The Premonition—dark storm clouds

As we leave our favorite vacation beach island I have an uneasy premonition but rationalize that I’m over-reacting to the incoming storm clouds.

Chapter 2

         Oh, Those West Virginia Hill—how majestic and how grand

A brief biographical sketch of my family and my background including a look at my family history; also, what it was like growing up in the protective environment of the West Virginia hills during the 50’s and 60’s.

Chapter 3

         They Tried to Tell Us We’re Too Young—but only time will tell

I was 15 when I met and fell in love with David, my husband to be. We dated through high school and college and finally got married seven years later. Things didn’t always go smoothly and my parents were against us in the beginning but they eventually changed their minds.

Chapter 4

         Mushroom and Crutches—receiving bad news

The mushroom shaped tumors continue to reappear in David’s bladder. He has another procedure and the day after his surgery a disc in my back ruptures.

Chapter 5

         The Sweetest Words—a father’s love

David has another surgery but things don’t go as planned. I prepare to spend the night at the hospital and send my parents home. As my mother steps on the elevator my father steps back and puts his arm around my shoulders. He is spending the night with me. He knew I would protest if I had advanced warning. I’m just too independent.

Chapter 6

         The Impatient Patient—preparing for the long journey

As I sit by the east window in David’s room I see the sky brighten and turn shades of red and purple. Fiery fingers ignite the city below. I know the doctor will be in soon to give David the bad news and I dread that moment. I prepare for the long journey with the impatient patient.

 

Chapter 7

         Lightning Flashes—swimming like a mad salmon

Buddha said, “….To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is a flash of lightning in the sky….”in the following year my father is diagnosed with a brain tumor and dies ten weeks later. David’s health is on the rebound but the cancer returns only three months later. He dies a little more than six months after my father.

Chapter 8

         Quicksand—drowning in emotions

My life is like a movie I saw as a child which traumatized me for weeks in which a horse is caught in quicksand and struggles to get out. Now, I feel as if I am that horse. I am exhausted and my body feels disjointed. I feel trapped by emotions I don’t understand and can’t control.

 

Chapter 9

         The Stages of Grief—the long road to recovery

Sigmund Freud said, “We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love.” The journey to recovery is long, individualistic, and lonely but every tear we shed brings us that much closer to the healing.

 Chapter 10

         Annoying Words of Comfort—a cliché is a sure way to dilute an idea

Many well-meaning people use the same worn out phrases to comfort me. After a while they lose their meaning. A simple “I am here for you” is all that is needed.

Chapter 11

         Encouraging Words and Deeds—make it personal

A personal note or an act of kindness is always appreciated.

Chapter 12

         The Merry Widow—things aren’t as they seem

To some jealous women I appear to have it all with no responsibilities. I am the subject of gossip. I am hurt and confused by the changes in my social circle but I must accept the changes in my life. Times change, people change, but life goes on.

Chapter 13

         Bubble Baths and Wine—what a way to relax

I know I must restore my mental, physical, and emotional health. I develop a bed time ritual of a bubble bath that helps me gradually unwind and relax. Somehow my bedtime routine turns into a rumor that I entertain men with bubble baths and wine.

Chapter 14

         Pick A Little, Talk A Little—mean girls grown up

Handling the negative forces and gossip that come my way; I learn to look at the gossip mongers in a fresh way.

Chapter 15

         Be a Clown—make room for fun and laughter

You can’t be sad while trying to make other people laugh, and laughter is an essential part of healing. Humor helps me overcome the negative.

Chapter 16

         Never Volunteer—unless you want a fresh outlook

I reluctantly volunteer to assist with a new community concert association and find new friends who give me a fresh outlook on life. The most I had hoped for when I joined was to serve punch and coffee and meet a few celebrities backstage. Little did I know that my whole life would change.

Chapter 17

         Let the Force Be with You—be open to unseen and coincidental influences

So many unbelievable coincidences occur that I begin to believe a path is being carved out for me. I follow the path, learning to rely on my intuition.

Chapter 18

         A Smorgasbord of Friends—variety brings spice to life

As I venture out into my new world I am surrounded by many new and interesting people. One of the most exciting aspects is that they are from all types of social, educational, ethnic, religious, and professional backgrounds. I now have a more rounded and grounded life.

Chapter 19

         Finding the Mountaintop—finally, a new life

My journey through the dark valley of hurt, confusion, and depression has taken seven years but I finally made it to the mountaintop.  I have emerged a new person with a new life.

Chapter 20

         A Diamond in the Rough—from lumps of coal to diamonds

Once coal is subjected to ages of extreme heat and pressure, a diamond gemstone emerges. I have been under extreme pressure for a long time but now I am a stronger person for it.

A Letter from the Author

Recipe for Mom’s Fresh Peach Cobbler

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams do come true

Dreams come trueI will finally be an officially published author! After a life time of practicing my craft and dreaming of having a published book someday, it is about to happen. My book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast—surviving a life-altering event, is scheduled to be published in the fall and should be available in time for holiday shopping.

I first began the book in 1991 shortly after my first husband died but found it too painful to write at that time. Over the years I have started and stopped it many times. I have queried many agents and publishers and, in some cases received some encouraging rejection letters; but no one was willing to take a chance on me.

Finally, things began to come together last year when I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me at a breakfast counter. He sat there with his iPhone and Kindle in front of him constantly checking updates and reading an e- book. I learned he was a man of many talents, interests and contacts and, among other things, he designed web sites. He asked what I did and then asked if I had a web site featuring my writings. I answered I did a blog but needed a full service web site. I also talked about my future goals.

After working together for a few months in creating the web site he said he also worked with other authors and he was willing to be my agent. I guess he needed to see I was a serious and dedicated writer and not just some bobble-head.

As I write in PEACH COBBLER FOR BREAKFAST, I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe they are God’s sign posts pointing us to the right path. Here was a man with the answers to many of the obstacles to my goals and I would be a fool not to work with him. Now, one year later, my book is finished under his direction and guidance; and, with his help I finally have a publisher.

Rick Lakin is his name and he blew into my life on the derachio winds. For more details on our chance meeting see Look at what the wind blew in Published on July 31, 2012  (http://dobbie.icrewdigital.com/look-at-what-the-wind-blew-in/)

Thank you, Rick Lakin, for making my dreams come true.

My book is finally finished!

Book Title

Dear Friends,

I have finally finished writing my book—Peach Cobbler for Breakfast—surviving a life altering event. It has been a twenty year labor of love. It is not a recipe book but the story of my journey through self-discovery to recovery after the death of my first husband. You might say it is my recipe for positive living. Don’t think of this book as a downer because of the subject matter, there is a lot of humor included. I couldn’t have survived without humor.

I began writing Peach Cobbler for Breakfast shortly after he died and have worked on it periodically over the years. As I have talked with others who have suffered losses (either through death or divorce) of a spouse, parent, friend, or even a job, I discovered that almost everyone experiences similar feelings, emotions, and transitions. Life will never be the same but it is how we face those changes that define us and make us stronger. I hope my observations and experiences will help make the journey easier for others facing the same uncertain future.

Peach Cobbler for Breakfast is now in the hands of a publisher and, although nothing is definite yet, my agent thinks it should be out in time for holiday shopping. To give you an idea of what the book is about here is an excerpt from:

Peaches

 

 

Peach Cobbler for Breakfast

surviving a life-altering event

By Sheila Moore Thornburg Dobbie

 

Introduction

 

“Faster than a speeding bullet!  More powerful than a locomotive….”  This quote is immediately familiar to Superman fans of all ages; but, these were the only words I could think of as I heard the diagnosis of cancer time and again in a two year period.

This disease had invaded our family faster than a bullet and had decimated it with the force of a speeding train and now I needed the strength of a superman to survive.

When I was in my 40’s I went through the worst time of my life. In a two year span I lost six family members, including my father and husband within six months of each other—my father to a brain tumor and my husband to bladder cancer. It is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been through a similar experience what it feels like to lose the center of your universe.

I will spare the reader and myself the pain of reliving every detail of that time. At a time when my friends were planning high school graduations, colleges and weddings for their children, I was planning or attending funerals. I was angry at the world, afraid of the future, and confused.

Much of the time I was in a state of shock, numb to both joy and pain. I seemed to live day to day in a haze trying to cope with each crisis as it came along. Once you have been hit by a speeding train and endured the pain of impact you become numb to repetitive shocks. I do not mean to minimize the magnitude of the events but rather to put everything into perspective. Things, literally, could not get much worse. Everyone I loved had been touched in some way by the catastrophic events surrounding us.

Perhaps our bodies learn to insulate us against pain, death and sorrow so we can carry on. We learn we can make it through one day and then the next and we continue living our lives one day at a time until we eventually make it out of the dark valley. It may be like living as a zombie but it works.

An old Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I repeated this to myself many times when the journey looked too difficult or I didn’t have the energy to continue. I reminded myself that I didn’t have to do the whole journey in one day and, if all I could do that day was take one step, then that was all that was needed.

I kept the pain to myself and put on my happy face when going out into the world. I did my crying in the shower so my husband didn’t know how worried I was. I tried to keep positive for him and others. A morbid curiosity surrounds people with a debilitating or fatal disease. It’s almost as if people are searching the faces of the patient or his loved ones for any sign things are getting worse. I wanted to be sure people saw only signs of hope in my face so I applied my smile each morning along with my makeup and faced the world with a façade of confidence.

Background

David and I met at church when I was 15 and he was 17. We dated throughout high school and college and then married after dating for seven years. We fell in love to Moon River by Andy Williams and Today by the New Christy Minstrels, held hands during My Fair Lady and Sound of Music, cheered our losing football team at Marshall University and stole a kiss whenever possible. When we finally did get married there was a large clap of thunder just when the minister pronounced us man and wife and everyone said it was the man upstairs saying, “It’s about time!”

It was during the turbulent 60’s and it seemed that our lives were in as much turmoil as the rest of the world but we finally realized our goals of graduating from college. There were the pressures of college, work, integration, bussing, demonstrations, drugs, flower power, communism, the bomb, and the ever-present and growing disruption of the Vietnam War (or as some preferred–conflict). It certainly “conflicted” our lives because if the guys didn’t keep up a certain GPA, dropped out of college, or didn’t finish within the expected four years, then there was the draft to look forward to. One professor said almost daily, “You guys better study or you will be slogging around the in the rice paddies.”  We swore he was a recruiter for the draft board.

After graduation and a brief stint with Uncle Sam, we were finally free to strike out on our own. We headed for the big city of Columbus, Ohio which seemed perfect for us. It was three hours from home, which meant it was close enough so we could get home quickly in case of an emergency, and far enough away so relatives couldn’t drop in unexpectedly. I think those were my Dad’s words.

My first visit to Columbus was something right out of The Jetsons’ cartoon when my family, David, and I attended the Ohio State Fair in 1962. At the time it was perhaps the largest state fair in the country. We drove into the city on one of the first Interstate Highways I had ever seen and whirling above the city were helicopters whizzing by. This was all very new and exciting for a kid from the hills of West Virginia. As we left late that night, fireworks were bursting over the city and I felt as if I had been to the City of Oz. I immediately fell in love with Columbus and when David and I married a few years later we decided that was the place for us.

Armed with our degrees and naïve enthusiasm we headed for the big city–he to become an architect and I a teacher. We found jobs and changed jobs, we made money and lost money, we started and closed businesses, we loved and we fought. We had the usual ups and downs and disappointments most people go through but, through it all, we said that the only thing that mattered was that we had each other. We felt we could survive and conquer almost anything as long as we were side by side.

All too quickly 23 years of married life passed and it became apparent that David would not survive the bladder cancer that had stricken him at age 45. As I watched him during those last days in the hospital I thought of the good times we had but also of the hectic life we had led. Where did it get us?  I would gladly give up everything to know he would continue by my side forever. Why hadn’t we taken more vacations or weekend trips?  Why hadn’t we found more time for just us?  Life is too short.

For the first time I had to face the world alone. I may not be superman but I will survive this hell.