(Note the water fountain.  Yes, we have an old school water fountain in our kitchen.)

I know the image is blurry, but this is our cat, Perfect, exploring one of our kitchen cupboards for the first time.  We’ve had Perfect for about two years now and, for much of that time – ever since we got a dog – she’s lived in my bedroom.  Well, when the dog first came, she lived beneath our upstairs floorboards for a few months, but after that, she took to living in my bedroom.  

Perfect was terrified of the dog and willing to do anything to avoid her so we tried to make things less stressful by adding another litter box upstairs and moving the cat food and water.  Life went on and Perfect stayed in her comfort zone, occasionally making daring excursions down the hall to my daughter’s room which was also quiet and dog-free.  Then one day, discovering a broken window screen, Perfect expanded her territory exponentially by venturing out onto the roof of our wrap around porch.  There, she napped on the sun-warmed shingles, watched birds and chased insects.    

Months later she started sneaking downstairs at night with our male cat Blackie standing guard against the dog’s unwitting approach.   Sometimes she followed Blackie’s lead, slipping silently out the back door, only to get terrified and end up hiding on top of the open garage door.  On those days I grabbed a wooden folding ladder and pulled her down, then carried her into the house while she hissed and growled on full alert.  

Perfect’s choice to live in confinement fascinates me.  I like to think of her as a feline Emily Dickinson – self-confined, but longing to communicate in some way with the outside world.  

Now that all four kids are in school the house is much quieter and Perfect often follows me cautiously from room to room, which is awkward because Coco (the dog) also follows me and yet they prefer not to come in contact with each other. They orbit me, like planets orbiting the sun.

One day last week I propped the screen door open in the back room, hoping Perfect might venture outside while I worked inside.  Walking past the back door, I was greeted by this sight – Perfect interacting (for the first time) with a chicken.  She didn’t seem one bit alarmed by it.  

(Note the crooked door handle – someday I will write a post about that.)

Grabbing my phone, I snapped a picture before the moment passed – evidence of Perfect’s bravery to show my daughter later that day.  I love this picture because it reminds me – things change, time passes, and brave wears a new face every day.  

Today I’m putting on my own brave face to share some BIG NEWS . . . I wrote a book!  It started last spring with the purchase of our new flock of chickens.  I set an intention to write about my experience with the birds as often as possible during the month of May.  By the time school was out, I had over twenty very rough pieces to work with and I set a new goal of rewriting and then revising those by the end of summer vacation.  

By the grace of God and with a lot of support from a dear friend who helped care for my children this summer – I did it.  

Chicken Scratch: Stories of Love, Risk and Poultry is launching November 7th – a month from tomorrow.  It’s filled with over twenty of the same style of fun, thoughtful, compassionate and laugh out loud stories that you’ve enjoyed here on the blog for the past four years.  

Right now Chicken Scratch is in the process of being edited and while I wait to hear back on final revisions, I’m continuing to work on all of the behind-the-scenes aspects of self-publishing.  Right now that includes growing my email list (Newsletter), creating a launch team, and working on cover design and media images for sharing.  

I want to thank all of you who’ve walked with me on the journey of discovering my writing life – your presence keeps me going.  And I want to invite you to consider helping to spread the word about Chicken Scratch in the circles you’re in.  Here are some ways to do that:

1. I need committed readers and sharers to read the book and post a review online on the day of (or week of) the launch.  Preferably on Amazon, but also other places where you share about books you love.  If you’re interested in this opportunity, comment below or shoot me an email at kchripczuk at yahoo.com.  I will probably need to “friend” you first on Facebook to add you to the launch team.  

2.  Closer to the launch date, I will post some graphics you can share online to help spread the word.

3. If you’re a blogger, consider posting a review of the book on your blog or contact me for an interview or other content.  

4. Pray for me.  About once a day I get a little panicky and think “I have no idea what I’m doing.”  And, you know what?  It’s true!  I don’t! (insert maniacal laughter) But, that’s ok, right?  My biggest hope for this book is to have fun – to share fun and joy with others and to enjoy as much of the process as possible.  Writing a book is incredibly hard work.  Self publishing is hard work.  But it doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun.  

This blog has been, for four years, my open window.  During the days and weeks of raising young children, when leaving the house was a rare treat, this space offered me a little room to breathe and an opportunity to stay connected to the parts of me that often felt unused in the endless task of caring for young children.  Now I’m stepping out again into a new adventure.  

It will be fun.

It will be scary.

And even if I end up like Perfect, hiding on the roof of the open garage door from time-to-time, I know for sure, there are plenty of people who’ll set up an old wooden ladder and rescue me.  

Thanks being with me on the journey.  

Sustainable Spirituality

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