Nurturing Relationships

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis 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.

beagles at CHSIn 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.

booksigning_ladies_webAs 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.

I recently guest-blogged on Nancy Jardine’s site about authors developing and maintaining audiences. Read that post here.

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.

Cody and Mary_outsideI’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.

murphy and bailey2


Best Friends SignSharing 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 & Mary outsideGayle 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


SageBigAdventureFront-small   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage  Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Walking_FrontCover_small   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014


17 thoughts on “Nurturing Relationships

  1. You do such admirable work! I’m an animal lover, but I have to admit that I’m very bad about putting my money where my mouth is when it comes to that. You live your passion and that’s something of which you should be very proud.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joe, for your kind words. I don’t do a lot, not as much as I’d like to do, for the rescue groups, but I do what I can when I can. My hope for “my later years” is to do more, and my hope for “now” is to bring greater awareness as time, energy, and funds allow. Happy New Year, and thanks again for reading and for your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. God bless you. You do such wonderful to work I know that you made somebody’s Christmas special besides your own. Thanks for the update on the dogs that have been mistreated and just keep on keepin on. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Cher’ley, for your encouragement and kind words. As I noted with Joe, I wish I could do more, and hope to do so in the future, establishing and maintaining more relationships and improving the ones already created. Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems when we find our passion, it just leads us not only to where we should go, but to the people who come into out lives. What a blessing you have given to those whose life you have touched, both two and four legged. Here’s to a wonderful 2016. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you much for sharing that as a gentle reminder. Relationships are very important in a happy successful life indeed. There is always room for more love.
    I am extraordinarily grateful to have had the chance to meet you in person. You are a beautiful light to people of the world and to animals too!
    Happy New Year Gayle!!


    1. Thank you, Darrah — I appreciate your thoughts, sentiments, and words. I, too, am glad we had opportunity to meet and get to know one another, and I hope we’ll be able to share time in 2016. You are also a beautiful light and an inspiration. May your New Year be filled with splendor and success.


  5. I’m with Joe. I am a huge animal lover but am sadly lacking when it comes to helping animal rescue organizations out. Your posts always inspire me, Gayle, and I thank you for these reminders of what I can contribute here locally. Here’s to all of us nurturing those invaluable relationships that keep us alive and centered!


  6. Time is certainly a factor in our lives, Sarah, and I’m sure you stay very busy. I can’t always give time either, but there are opportunities when I can occasionally and do so. Since my books are about pets, it only makes sense to me to donate a percentage of sales back to rescue groups. I’m hopeful to expand my relationships with other organizations and groups next year and I’m also hoping to spend more time with loved ones next year as well. Thank you, Sarah, for your kind words — I truly appreciate you reading my post and commenting.


  7. Gayle, you are awesome, but I know you don’t do these selfless acts for fame or glory but from your heart. The world is a much better place with people like you in it. If only all of us would use our passion to help where we can, each of could make at least a small dent in the growing problems of the world. I totally agree about relationships. We all need them. Three years ago when I had my second concussion and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I decided I’d no longer write. I didn’t feel well and I decided my books were of no use to anyone. Thanks to all of you on WW&W (especially Cherley, who has stuck by me no matter what) I am finally ready to change all that and have regained much of the confidence I’ve lost. I have kept in touch with a few readers who have asked over and over when the third Inzared book will be coming out and my resolution for 2016 is for that to come to fruition. Sadly, during this transitional period in my life I more or less erased almost every contact I have made over the last ten or so years. It will be a big undertaking, but I also plan to try to re-establish those that I can still find. (Really, I deleted most all my contacts, readers, and marketing bases from my computers) thinking I’d never have use for them again. It’ll be a huge job but I’ll just have to start over, and with God’s help will succeed in making even new contacts as I try to reconnect with old. Btw, I’ve always wanted to see Montana. Lately, on HGTV the Property Brothers have been renovating a ranch there and the views are spectacular. May 2016 bring you a good year and may many of your reconnecting and writing dreams come true!


  8. I love reading about your trips to the cabin with your dogs. I’m glad to see that you’re having success with your pet-related books. Back when I was still writing for the weekly newspaper in N.C., I’d occasionally do pieces on authors who would go into elementary schools and read kids’ books to them. Also, I gave quite a bit of press coverage to a Pet Friends Group, always went to their pet walks, picnics, adoption days, yard sale fundraisers. They were quite a go-to-it group. The leader was a retired Marine Corps officer (the county was close to Camp Lejeune).


  9. “Relationships, even with those people most important to me, in my own direct family, need nurturing and maintaining.” That reminds me of an English literature professor saying that Dr. Samuel Johnson believed in “care-taking his friendships.” You obviously do that well, with both people and animals. Best wishes for a happy and productive 2016, and many more of your good words here and elsewhere.


  10. You are good at maintaining relationships Gayle, as I personally experience! And you are good at maintaining animal relationships also, a clear indicator of a generous heart. And, we were created for relationship, so of course that is usually the crux of a novel. And for our lives in so many ways. Kudos to you, friend.


  11. Thanks for sharing. I am glad all your critters were around to share the holidays with you. Once again this year our dog Val gave us a scare right before the holidays( I suspect she doesn’t like holidays). However Christmas morning there she was tail wagging and looking for her gifts. They add so much to our lives.


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