Category Archives: My Stories

Book Update | Wish Me Luck!

i-am-a-writer

In a mere 26 days, I will be submitting the first 20 pages of my memoir for a chance to be chosen for the 2016 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship.

The Fellowship includes the following:

  • Professional Mentorship
  • Enrollment in classes at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program (one 12-week course & a one-day workshop)
  • Attending Author Evenings
  • Enrollment in one genre-specific Masters Class
  • Completion of a 25-hour volunteer project
  • Voice Instruction Class to read work in recording studio & receive instruction on reading publicly
  • Participation in (3) public readings
  • Stipend

This is (by far) one of the scariest, most thrilling things I will do to get my book finished and get it published. I’m sure all you published (and even non-published) authors understand me when I say the part that scares me the most is having other people judge my work, but with a memoir they will also be judging my life and my experiences.

Even though I’m scared and nervous and anxious, I’m also very excited to see if I get this Fellowship. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn more about the craft of writing and gain valuable experience, all while working on my memoir.

So over the next 26 days I may be MIA from my blog, but know that I’ll be back in full force after I’ve had the chance to make my 20 pages good enough to submit.

If you want more information on this Fellowship please follow this link: Emerging Voices Fellowship

26 Birthday Goals

It’s been a year already.  I can’t believe how fast time flies and how much has changed.  I’m a married woman now and have my own health insurance!  I feel so grown up!

This year I’ve slightly changed the way I will present my goals.  I will give my list of current goals and the list of goals I completed during the last year.

So, here are my 26 Birthday Goals  (in no particular order):

  1. Pay off car (Only 2.5 years left!)
  2. Ongoing Goal: Get toned
  3. Get a new computer
  4. Ongoing Goal: Travel to a new place
  5. Hike to upper Yosemite falls
  6. Read all Mary Higgins Clark books
  7. Get my CPCU
  8. Ongoing Goal: Move up in my career at work
  9. Finish my book
  10. Pay off my student loans
  11. Ongoing Goal: Save money for future use
  12. Buy a house or condo
  13. Get my Ph.D
  14. Have children
  15. Save up enough money to pay for my youngest sister’s college tuition
  16. Expand my philanthropy for my Alma Mater Woodbury University and other non-profit organizations
  17. Create a scholarship fund for students who have lost a parent from prescription drug addiction
  18. Ongoing Goal: Write more blog posts this year
  19. New Goal: Read 26 books by the end of 2015
  20. New Goal: Get a new phone
  21. New Goal: Go to the gym at least 3 times per week
  22. New Goal: Attend more literary events
  23. New Goal: Go on a small hike at least once per month
  24. New Goal: Hike to Nevada falls in Yosemite National Park
  25. New Goal: Run two 5Ks
  26. New Goal: Read at least 10 books on my NetGalley List

Here are the goals that I accomplished last year:

  1. Get married (Married the love of my life on April 25, 2015)
  2. Travel (Visited many places I’ve already been to and some new)
  3. Try sushi (My husband took me to Kabosu in Toluca Lake)
  4. Run a full marathon (My husband and I ran the Avengers Half Marathon)
  5. Move up in my career (Got a promotion this year!)
  6. Get tan (I got a slight tan when I came back from my honeymoon)

Check out my 25 Birthday Goals from last year.  You will see that I changed some of my goals along the way.  That’s just how it goes right?  You end up wanting different things and your dreams may change. Nothing wrong with that as long you always have something to work towards.

What are some of your goals and how are you working towards accomplishing them?

Happy Birthday To My Mother

Today would’ve been my mother’s 51st birthday.  If she were alive today, my siblings would all come together to make the day special.  We’d decorate the house with balloons, streamers, and confetti.  Her birthday gifts would be neatly placed on the dining room table, ready for her to open.  She’d walk in and find all these wonderful things her children did for her.

My mother didn’t need anything extravagant.  It was always about the simple things.  She loved her Starbucks iced frappuccino drinks.  I used to get her a four pack every year.  She loved her handmade cards.  She loved her cupcakes or cakes we’d bake (or bought from Albertson’s down the street).  And she just loved spending time with her children on her birthday.

This is exactly how I remember the last birthday I spent with her.  On her last birthday, my siblings and I cleaned the house and set up posters and decorations.  We waited for my mom to get home and jumped up yelling, “Surprise” when she finally walked in.  I really miss those days.

If I could celebrate with her today, I would take her to a Hollywood Bowl concert to see some country star she loved; she loved Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton.  I would take her to dinner to a restaurant she’s never been to.  We’d stop and get ice cream on the way home.

I really wish I could’ve had more time with her.  I wish she could have seen me graduate from college.  I wish she could have comforted me when job interviews were going nowhere.  I wish I could have told her when I finally landed that full time job.  And I wish she could’ve met my fiance and had a chance to know the man that makes me happy.  I wish I could’ve told her how he proposed.

On her 51st birthday, I’m going to remember all the good times I had with my mom.  I will think about watching Friends with her.  I will think about when she asked me to name my baby sister.  I will think about all the school projects she helped me with.  I will think about how much she loved us.

Happy Birthday to my wonderful, sweet, and amazing mother.

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Speaking At My Alma Mater | Woodbury University

Photo courtesy of Woodbury University

Photo courtesy of Woodbury University

On Saturday, October 18th, I was asked to speak about my time at Woodbury University, during my school’s 130th Anniversary celebration.  I attended Woodbury for both my undergrad and graduate degrees and loved every minute I spent there.   I can’t imagine having gone to any other University.

I’m a big supporter of my Alma Mater and agreed whole heartedly to tell my Woodbury story.  I wanted to share my speech with you today.

“I remember when I discovered Woodbury University.

I was 17 years old looking at this gigantic book listing colleges across the country. I finally found Woodbury at the end of the California section and told myself, “I’m going there.”

Woodbury had everything I was looking for. Small class sizes, excellent academic programs, and was only an hour away from home.

My freshman year here was like that of any other student. I made friends, went to class, pulled my hair out during finals and when it was over, breathed a sigh of relief that I made it through my first year of college.

When my mom unexpectedly passed away during my sophomore year, I wasn’t sure I could continue, but somehow I did with the help of the wonderful people who study and work at Woodbury.

During the most difficult time in my life, at a time when I felt like giving up, I found comfort at Woodbury. My peers, my professors, and my co-workers helped me move forward and reminded me that I need to continue working towards a better, brighter future for myself. The people at Woodbury became my family and Woodbury became a home away from home.

Woodbury means much more than a diploma I can hang on my wall.

I found myself here.

I discovered untapped potential in myself and developed in things I was most passionate about.

I become more confident and wasn’t afraid to take a few risks.

I owe that to Woodbury University. I owe that to my Woodbury family.

I’m so proud to have attended such a wonderful University, for both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and credit my success to everything I learned here.

I look forward to what my future holds and I know Woodbury will have prepared me for it.”

Remembering My Mother

Today marks the 6th anniversary of my mother passing.  I feel like it should be easier the sixth time around, but this year hurts more than the last few.  I’m constantly dreaming of her now and I know it’s because of all the wedding planning I’m doing.

In one dream, I’m standing in front of a full length mirror wearing my wedding dress and veil.  I turn to head down the isle when my veil gets snagged and rips.  I start to cry and that’s when my mom appears to tell me everything will be all right.  Other dreams with her are about my upcoming nuptials, but there are the few that venture back to when she was alive.

I went on my first dress appointment by my myself because I wanted to be left with my own thoughts knowing I would be thinking of how my mom wasn’t there to see me.  Now, each time I see myself in my wedding dress, her face appears in my head and I have to choke back tears and sobs.  Planning the wedding of my dreams has caused these painful emotions to bubble up once again and I’m constantly trying not to think of the day she left us.

I keep telling myself “You know she’s with you right now, watching over you“, but it’s not fair that she isn’t physically here.  I would give anything to be able to pick up the phone and tell her about how our wedding is progressing.  To ask for her opinion on the type of flowers we should get or if I should wear my hair up or down.

I know that on one of the happiest days of my life, I won’t be standing in front of the full length mirror and see my mother’s reflection looking back at me.  She’ll just be living in my memory.

Knowing that I’m going to me marrying the man of my dreams makes it better and I know that she would have loved him.  I also have many family members and friends who will be with me to share in my happiness that day.  I will have my wonderful step-mother and future mother-in-law who have graciously taken the place of “mother” in my life.

I feel blessed and fortunate to have people in my life that care about me and love me.  I just wish my mom wasn’t gone.

Lisa Michelle Miller

November 9, 1963 – September 20, 2008

25 Birthday Goals

Holy crap!!! Am I really 25 now! Not quite sure I’m ready to be a quarter of a century, but I am ready to update my birthday goals.

So, here are my 25 Birthday Goals updated from my 24 Birthday Goals (in no particular order):

  1. Pay off car
  2. Get toned
  3. Get tan
  4. Try sushi
  5. Get a new computer
  6. Travel
  7. Hike to upper Yosemite falls
  8. Read all Mary Higgins Clark books 
  9. Run a full marathon (Running a half Marathon in November)
  10. Get my CPCU
  11. Move up in my career at work
  12. Finish my book
  13. Start my retail business
  14. Obtain more clients for my consulting services
  15. Pay off my student loans
  16. Save money for future use
  17. Buy a house
  18. Get married
  19. Get my Ph.D
  20. Have children
  21. Teach entrepreneurship at a university
  22. Save up enough money to pay for my youngest sister’s college tuition
  23. Expand my philanthropy for my Alma Mater Woodbury University and other non-profit organizations
  24. Create a scholarship fund for students who have lost a parent from prescription drug addiction
  25. New Goal: Write more blog posts this year

An update will follow next year when I turn 26.  Yikes!

As a side note, can you imagine how long this post will get when I turn 50.

Couldn’t Help Myself…

So, I couldn’t help myself when I saw these.  I just had to share them!  Not sure how many of you are Ryan Gosling fans, but I am.  I like to imagine he is actually saying this to me…

Book Readers Have Skills

The act of reading is a skill that everyone learns how to do in grade school.  We learn our ABCs in Kindergarden and our parents read us books, so that one day we can read on our own.

But I want to talk about a different set of skills that book readers have.

Reading While Walking:

It takes skill to read a book while walking.  When I’m reading while walking there will always be a chance I run into the following:

  • A pole
  • A parked car
  • A person
  • A tree
  • Any static object that may be in my walking path

To keep from running into any of the things I listed above, book readers have to develop a sense of situational awareness.  For me, I read while making my way to and from the train.  I’m primarily walking through a parking lot (which doesn’t have a lot of cars driving around in it at one time) and I’ve pretty much memorized the path I take, so I know where those static objects will be.  The only thing I need to worry about is looking up every once in a while to make sure I don’t plow through someone.  I’m essentially still aware of what is around me even though I’m reading.  I say that’s a skill.

Working Out & Reading:

I can say that I have yet to master this skill, but I see a lot of people doing it at the gym.  To read a book while you’re working up a sweat and trying to focus on toning those abs, takes real skill.  I tried it a few times, but I can’t seem to focus on the reading part.  I guess just doing a slow walk on the treadmill would work for me, but I have to do much more than a walk (considering the things I eat sometimes).  I really do envy the people that can do this because they probably get more reading done than I do.

Reading While Taking Care of Children:

Thanks to one of my followers I believe that reading while taking care of children is an ongoing skill.  I don’t have the honor of developing this skill yet because I have no children of my own, but this is a skill nonetheless.  I’m not sure if someone can read while taking care of a child at the same time, but I believe that finding the time to read is a skill.  With everything it takes to raise a child, taking even that 30 minutes to read is a skill.  This is also an opportunity to teach children to read…which is also a skill.

Cooking While Reading:

Yes, cooking while reading is a skill.  You have to keep from burning your food in the process of reading your book.  There’s also the chance of food splattering onto the book or all over you.  Essentially, this is the skill of multi-tasking.   This is like talking on the phone while cooking, but it has more of a difficulty level to it.

Reading in the Tub:

I think the main skill we develop while reading in the tub is not dropping our book in the water.  I have done this a few times, but practice makes perfect right?  It’s also about keeping your hands dry so that you can turn the pages.  If a book reader can do those things, reading in the tub is really relaxing.  I usually like to bring along a glass of wine and light some candles too.

What do you think of these skills?  Do you agree or disagree?  Are there any other skills you think book readers have?

My Favorite Places to Read

Although I like to read pretty much anywhere, I do have a few places that make reading more enjoyable and relaxing.

Here are my top three:

1. Sitting by a Fire

Ok, I don’t have a fireplace, but if I’m somewhere that has one the first thing I want to do is read.  It’s the perfect place to bundle up with some hot chocolate and get lost in a book.

2. At the Park…When the Weather is Nice

There’s nothing like sitting on a bench or laying a blanket out on some grass with a book in hand, but only when the weather’s nice.  You won’t see me if it’s too windy, if it’s rainy, cold, or snowing (not that it snows in California).

3. Curled Up in Bed or On the Couch

The place I do most of my reading is in my bed or on my couch.  I like to snuggle up with a glass of wine and a blanket while reading a great book.

Tell me where you like to read in the comments.

Problems That Book Readers Have

My fellow book readers can hopefully relate to some  “book reader problems” I have on occasion.  When I vent to my boyfriend he just nods and listens (he’s a great listener), but doesn’t understand because he doesn’t read books.

So, I wanted to share my top five book reader problems.

1.  Not Enough Room In My Purse

I like to carry around one or sometimes several different books to read.  This causes a problem when they all don’t fit in my purse.

2. Not Enough Room On My Book Shelf

I have no more book shelf space and haven’t been able to buy anymore books.  My dream is to one day have a library like Belle in Beauty & The Beast.  That was an entire room and will definitely solve the problem (maybe).

3. Hard Cover v.s. Soft Cover

I’m the type that loves getting books as gifts.  Now, I’m a hard core soft cover book lover (say that ten times fast).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful when I receive a hard cover book, but soft covers are much easier to carry around.

4. Having to Stop Reading When Iv’e Reached the Best Part of the Book

The worst thing about getting to the best part of a book, and I mean the part that has me crying or biting my lip in suspense, is when the train is at my stop.  That means I have to put my book away and get off.

5. Diminished Listening Skills

I don’t know about you, but when I’m so caught up in a book, people around me tend to be…non-existent.  Essentially, when I’m reading a really good book, I don’t listen to others very well.  I’m in my own little world.

Let me know what your book reader problems are.  

I would love to read some of your stories. 

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