April 29th, 2010 by Regina Brett
My favorite Life Lesson in the book is "The best is yet to come." It tells the story of my relationship with my mom and how I came to know, appreciate and value her better.
When she turned 75, I made a list of 75 things I loved about her for her birthday. The first ten were easy. She gave me five brothers and five sisters. I gave her the list as part of her gift.
This week I signed books at the Jesuit Retreat House and told the story about my mom and that lesson. Many women bought a book to give their moms for Mother's Day. Two women said they planned to write inside the book a list of all the things they loved about their moms.
They decided to list one thing for every year that she had been their mom. What a great gift, to tell your mom on Mother's Day all that you love about her. Don't wait til she turns 75 like I did.
April 26th, 2010 by Regina Brett
In the last week, I went to Anchorage, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, Baton Rouge, Rochester, Colorado and Wisconsin without leaving home. Satellite radio tours are the best.
On the Ben Merens show on Wisconsin Public Radio, listeners called in with their life lessons:
"You don't have to be sick to get better."
"I'm not going to grow in my comfort zone."
"Find out why the fence was put there before you tear it down."
"You're exactly on time whenever you arrive."
"Do it. Do it right. Do it right now."
One caller offered a haunting three questions:
If you had two minutes to live:
Who would you call?
What would you say?
What are you waiting for?
April 22nd, 2010 by Regina Brett
Over dinner before my book signing last night, my publisher called. How exciting to hear Jamie Raab scream into my voicemail, "Regina, you are a New York Times best selling author!" Did I hear her right? I called Grand Central Publishing and my publicist confirmed it.
God Never Blinks is No. 10 on the hardcover advice list that comes out May 2. The book came out April 13. Wow.
A big thanks to all of you who have bought the book for yourselves and for your moms for Mother's Day and nieces, nephews and kids for graduation. You sent me over the top!
What really sent me over the top were two encounters at the book signing. One man came to the table and thanked me for calling his daughter 16 years ago. She was in high school and pregnant. Since I was an unwed mom at 21, her parents had asked me to talk to her. The man told me she was doing great, had the child -- who is now 16 -- and she's happily married. He thanked me for calling her all those years ago.
Then a woman came up and opened a beautiful scrapbook for me to sign. It held photos of her son, Brian, who died of cancer. He was in second grade. I had mentioned him in a column that was taped in that scrapbook. He had the biggest grin in his obituary photo. What a joy that little guy was. He still lives in his mom, who volunteers with cancer patients. She asked me to autograph the scrapbook. That little boy's smile is still with me.
April 21st, 2010 by Regina Brett
A woman just emailed me to ask how to give her mom, who is turning 80, the same gift I gave my husband when he turned 40.
Lesson 32 in my book tells the story of my husband's 40th birthday. He wasn't facing a mid-life crisis. It was more life a mid-life correction, trying to find out how he mattered in the world.
So I made a list of the 40 people who knew him best and loved him most, then wrote to them all or called and asked them to write him a letter or a card and let him know what impact he had on their lives. They were to secretly mail me the cards so I could collect them all in one box and give it to him. The key is to give people an early deadline and to remind them more than once to follow through. And to contact more people than you need, in case someone declines.
They sent long letters and short poems. They told stories from high school and summer youth camp. They thanked him for late-night phone calls and last-minute advice. He was overwhelmed by their love.
"This is the kind of stuff they say at your funeral," he told me.
Why wait? Say it now.
April 18th, 2010 by Regina Brett
The line at Barnes & Noble in Crocker Park stretched around the book store. I spent two hours non-stop signing books last night. The best part was hearing all the stories people shared. So many told me about their children, their parents, their spouses and all the detours life took them on.
One woman shared that her niece got breast cancer at 24 and got it again at 28. Another shared that her daughter was struggling with crippling depression. So many told me about the heartache in their lives. It felt holy to sit and listen and just be with them.
They bought God Never Blinks to give for Mother's Day, for graduation gifts, for birthday gifts. One woman did her Christmas shopping and bought six copies.
Two people gave me gifts. One woman gave me a lovely wooden cross. Another woman gave me a paperweight with the words: What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
I would help all these people find their way to hope and joy.
April 15th, 2010 by Regina Brett
Tonight I signed my name more times in one night than any other time in my life. I don't think that signature looked the same way twice. My handwriting leaves lots to be desired. The nuns used to call it chicken scratch.
The Plain Dealer hosted the first book signing and even fed the crowd, which could be why they were so kind and gracious. It was like a love fest. But then I suppose people who don't like you don't come to your book signings.
My daughter, husband, stepson and son-in-law came. I wore pearls in honor of Lesson 21. A few women asked me to sign their book with this dedication: Wear the pearls. Yes, today is special enough to wear the good stuff.
April 14th, 2010 by Regina Brett
I spent yesterday soaking up what it means to be a published author. I've been a journalist for 24 years, but I have to admit, it is pretty wild to see your name on a book. Plus the people at Grand Central Publishing sent me flowers, my stepson brought me a bouquet of daisies and my daughter and her husband bought me two book signing outfits. I didn't know you got gifts. How cool.
People are already calling and emailing to say the book is changing their lives. A lot of men have called in tears saying it's making them look at how they are living versus how they want to be living. My cousin's daughter works at a local library where there are 115 holds on one copy of God Never Blinks.
Last night I heard author Mitch Albom speak about his book, "Have a Little Faith." He spent 8 years talking to a rabbi who shared the secret to happiness: Be satisfied.
Right here, right now, be satisfied with the person you are, with the life you already have. I plan to practice that today.
April 13th, 2010 by Regina Brett
Today is the day and all I can hear is the voice of Dr. Seuss ringing through my head:
Today is your day!
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
Today I'm officially an author. My dream came true. Ever since I read Harriet the Spy as a kid, I wanted to be a writer, even though I fought Mr. Ricco in 9th grade English when he forced us to write a paragraph a day. Today I send him blessings. Every time I look at this book with my name on it, I feel a sense of awe and peace and gratitude.
Last night we kicked off the book launch with a family dinner at Nighttown. My grandson's eyes grew big as the bread plates when he heard a blast of jazz coming from the other room. What a great reminder that every day is the day for something new, for something great.
Every today is the day.
April 11th, 2010 by Regina Brett
"Overture, curtain, lights! This is it, the night of nights. No more rehearsing or nursing a part, we know every part by heart..." Somehow with my book launch two days away, that Bugs Bunny Show theme song is running around my brain.
This book truly is my part, it is full of my lines in the script of life. For so many years, I prayed, asking and often begging, for a new script. A new act. A new part. At least for better lines. Thank God for unanswered prayers. It all belonged just the way it unfolded.
The Plain Dealer is running excerpts of the book all week and today launched Life Lessons on bibs, cups, aprons and clocks. Karen Long, our book editor, wrote a grace-filled article about the hunger we all have for soul food.
I feel a calm in my soul, a completion of sorts. Mother Teresa once said we're not called to be successful; we are called to be faithful. Of course I'd like both, who wouldn't? But the peace inside tells me I have written my part, read my lines, embraced this script and can rest in that alone.
April 8th, 2010 by Regina Brett
I'm getting flooded with responses today about the column I wrote in The Plain Dealer about why Catholics stay Catholic. A few hundred responses by noon. Most readers agree with me and passed on their reasons for leaving or staying.
A handful invited me to leave and weren't so kind in extending that invitation. A few yelled in the phone, "If you can't follow the rules, get out!"
My friend, Mary Ann Flannery, the nun who runs my spiritual home, the Jesuit Retreat House, gets frustrated with the nonsense in Rome. She told me this: "I love my God and my faith and the spirituality, rising like incense, from our House in the forest."
That retreat house restored my faith in God. A great Jesuit there told me to forget all that stuff about infallibililty, limbo and purgatory. All that matters is this: Did you love?
April 4th, 2010 by Regina Brett
Wonderful day celebrating being loved, especially by my family. It started with this message at Mass by Father Howard Gray, who said, "When we have nothing left but who we are, we discover what a gift that really is." He also pointed out that we don't have to earn love, "It's the great Easter gift to us all."
Then he read part of an excerpt from a Modern Love article in the New York Times about a mother's love for her adopted daughter. It made us all cry when he concluded, "Love requires bravery." It certainly does.
April 3rd, 2010 by Regina Brett
Spring is bringing so much new life everywhere. We welcomed into the world a new nephew this week: Christopher James Brett. I've only seen pictures so far, but C.J. is adorable. I can't wait to feel that newborn skin and angel hair.
My grandson is discovering daffodils and crocuses. He's learning more words. How is it he can say turtle but not grandma? At least he knows who I am. He claps when he sees me. Makes my heart melt. But then he'd probably clap if he saw a turtle.