This post by Gayle M. Irwin
As this post goes live, I’ll be preparing for a trip to Montana to visit family and friends. My parents and one of my long-time friends, who lives in California but grew up in Montana (which is where we met), are meeting me in Billings. We’ll share shopping, dinner, and wine and cheese in our hotel rooms while re-connecting.
Christmas has just concluded and the New Year looms on the horizon, much as the recent full moon rose and hovered in the sky. The holiday season often reconnects us with loved ones. Prior to the actual Christmas Day, I was blessed to share time with various friends, drinking coffee, sipping wine, and/or exchanging gifts. I mailed Christmas cards, sent emails, and telephoned many people, maintaining important relationships, some of which I discovered more than 30 years ago. I have known many people throughout my nearly 55 years of life, and many of those relationships have, sadly, faltered. Others, including some since childhood, remain intact, although I may not see these people but once every five or ten years. Then, there are those whom I see regularly, every week or so or perhaps every few months, depending on where they live and how often we get together. Relationships, even with those people most important to me, in my own direct family, need nurturing and maintaining.
In addition to my family and friends, I embrace relationships with pet rescue organizations. From the local Casper Humane Society to regional groups, like Black Dog Animal Rescue and Big Dogs Huge Paws, I work with and support in various ways. I volunteered at Best Friends Animal Society a national organization, in October when my husband and I visited the sanctuary located in southern Utah. I’ve been a financial supporter of the organization for many years and was most excited to visit for the first time in 2014, learn more about the work done at the sanctuary and outside the acreage boundaries. I continue to support their work through donations and social media. Developing those relationships is not only something I want to do, but also in a round-about way, assists me as a writer and author.
As writers, we need to develop relationships, with readers, publishers, editors, writers, among others. Finding and maintaining those relationships helps us grow in our craft and assists us in leveraging our respective platforms. Finding and maintaining relationships through social media, booksignings, blogs, events, and other personal and web-based connections builds our credibility and expertise and helps us discover audiences. But, we should not only find those audiences, we also need to also cultivate (maintain) those relationships.
As we ride into 2015’s sunset and scout out the 2016 horizon, we can enrich our lives through the personal connections with family and friends and enliven our writing career through finding and nurturing relationships that move our writing forward. What hopes do you have for 2016 regarding your personal and professional relationships? For me, I’d like to visit friends in other states and spend more time with my parents, and on the professional side, my desire is to complete the two children’s books I have going and to ratchet up the marketing on all my books. I may be shooting too lofty of goals in both arenas, but I’m already working in those directions. We’ll see where I stand in another year.
I’ll conclude this post with thoughts on another type of relationship: the human-pet bond. I have four pets, all of whom are now considered “seniors.” As many of you know, there’s an 18-year-old cocker spaniel that continues to share our home, despite the many health issues he’s experienced this past year. I’m thankful Cody is still with us but I am also prepared for the time when he is not. For nearly eight years Cody has been part of our family, much longer than either Greg or I anticipated. Next month we’ll celebrate four years that Mary, our other dog, has shared our home, and as of last October the cats have lived with us for ten years. Each one brings joy to our lives despite the inevitable challenges.
Sharing the importance of the pet-human bond is part of my repertoire, both in writing and in speaking, and in my social media I often highlight the organizations which do such amazing work in rescuing pets. One of those groups is Trio Animal Foundation (TAF). Based in Chicago, this organization saves the lives of dogs on the city’s streets, taking in the abused and abandoned and later adopting them to loving families. From Hazel Grace and Eden to Thistle and Thomas, the past year has been filled with heart-breaking stories that became heartwarming and inspiring. Pets and people help each other in many ways, and yet, some humans choose to do evil, not only to one another, but also to animals. Thank goodness there are many groups of caring people, such as those with Best Friends and TAF. They, too, develop and maintain relationships, not only with the animals, but also with veterinarians, shelter workers, donors and adopters. Life, whether for an author, an organization, or an individual, is all about relationships.
Relationships are critical to our existence, both personally and professionally. May 2016 bring you great success in both areas!
Gayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational dog books for children and adults. She has also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Additionally, she’s contributed short stories to five Chicken Soup for the Soul books and writes regularly for magazines and newspapers. Gayle has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. She is currently working on a pet rescue story for children. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.