Tuesday, September 19, 2017

MEXICO, ST. CROIX AND PUERTO RICO ARE IN MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS


Today, a devastating 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico. And again, another hurricane, Hurricane Maria, is tearing through the Caribbean islands.  It's hard to wrap my mind around the last several weeks, one shocking natural disaster after another. With that said, I can't help but remember Pope Francis's words on hope.


 “A tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there can be another you, then another you and it turns into us.”
His Holiness, Pope Francis

As always, I turn to prayer. To my dear neighbors, I pray for courage in the face of hardship in the days to come. I also pray that you will gather with your family, friends and neighbors and give what comfort you can to those around you. And finally I pray that we all become a little kinder, more compassionate, forgiving of each other and become that one individual who knows without a doubt that hope exist. We need each other.

HUGE HUGS TO ALL!!!
Nancy C. Weeks

Thursday, September 7, 2017

MY HEART AND PRAYERS CONTINUE TO BE WITH SOUTH TEXAS, HOUSTON, AND NOW, FLORDIA

Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard move through flooded Houston streets as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey continue to rise.

I received an article from my brother called This is probably the worst US flood storm ever, and I’ll never be the same. Neither will the fourth largest city in the country, Houston. 

This is one those things I have to share. The article was written by a space reporter, Eric Berger. I'm not sure what kind of working relationship he and my brother share, but his account of Hurricane Harvey is heartbreaking.

I'm a little familiar with what my dear Texas family is going through. When I was about ten years old, I played in our front yard with my six brothers and sisters as the eye of Hurricane Beulah roamed over us. It dumped 27 inches of rain on the Rio Grande in three hours, about half that dumped on central Houston. I still remember being evacuated by the National Guard, this strong soldier lifting me up into the back of this huge truck as the Arroyo River flooded my back yard. My family lived in the refugee center at Harlingen High School for weeks. I remember returning to a ruined home, mud three feet deep and very little salvageable from the home we left behind. I remember finding snakes, tarantulas and roaches on the top shelves of everything and the smell of rot, mold, mud and decay lived with me for months. What I still tear up about even today was the devastation in my parent's faces. It was the first time I ever saw my mother cry. She had just cleaned up three feet of mud in the kitchen, had the counters bleached to an inch of their life before she opened the oven. A blob of mud dropped onto the floor, dead bugs floating on top. She sat where she stood and broke down. My rushing to her may have stopped the tears, but the heartache for what she lost would remain with her for a long time to come. My parents never recovered completely. 

We were a small rural area. Now, just imagine that storm hitting a city of 5 million people instead a rural area with few small towns.



"What can I do to help? 
That has been the mantra since this nightmare began. Hundreds of Houston residences-many who have lost everything, pitched in immediately with their boats and on foot to rescue their neighbors, the situation too overwhelming for the disaster relief efforts in place. Help has come from other counties and states as well. But it's not enough. There has never been such devastation in our history. 

As I write this post, Hurricane Irma, a Category 5, batters parts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and threatening serious destruction to a string of Caribbean islands. On Saturday, it's expected to hit Florida. 

I sit in my dry home and I wrestle with what can I do to help? I imagine there are a lot of us who feel that way. And sadly, tragedy brings out the heartless individual who use the suffering of so many to exploit. I can only pray there is a special hell for those individuals who price gouge things like water, food and gasoline. If my sweet mom was still with me, she would say the first thing to do is pray, then do what you can. So...praying is done. I haven't let up in days. The second suggestion is harder. Who do I trust with the money I donate? Here are a couple who were there for us so many years ago and I have trusted over the years. 

Other suggestions: 
I found this article in the New York TimesWhere to Donate to Harvey Victims (and How to Avoid Scams) It contains list of local Houston base charities as well as national and global funds. My advice is to look closely before you write that check or give your credit card number. But with that said, we all need to open our hearts and do what we can to help each other out.  

To my Houston and Florida readers, my heart and prayers are with you. If you have something you would like to share, please do so in the comment section below. 

Hugs to all,

Nancy C. Weeks

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

LIFE OF AN AUTHOR: REFLECTIONS OF THE SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017

Totality as seen by Salem, Oregon

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!

I have had an interesting beginning of my week. Yesterday was one of nature's most awe inspiring sites, the highly anticipated total solar eclipse of 2017. We stopped our daily lives for over an hour and a half across the country in large cities from the Atlantic to the Pacific, mega highways to dirt roads, national parks to small patches of grass, to organized parties to small backyards gatherings, and stood together to experience the moon's slow trip across the sun, and in some areas, totality, the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire continental United States since 1918.




The event had been hyped in the news for weeks, and I have to admit, I got a little tired of hearing about it. I mean, what's the big deal. If you think about it, a solar eclipse happens somewhere in the world everyday. If I don't catch this one, there are other chances, right? 
My daughter picked me up a pair of free NASA glasses [THANK YOU NASA] and my sweet hubby made himself a pinhole projector box. But if I was doing something else, then I could miss it, right?

I have never been so wrong, so uneducated, so passive. This event doesn't happen that often and it was A BIG DEAL! I needed to be part of it.

 

Sorry, I couldn't help it. 

But seriously, this day ended up being an experience I will never forget. I was spending my morning at my local library, [South Bowie Library]. I go there when I want to turn everything off and write. I'm trying to have the next book in The D'Azzo Family series, The Analyst, to my editor by October 1st. The quiet atmosphere helps keep me focused. I also don't sign into their WiFi so I can't slip out of that focus by checking Facebook or my other social media playgrounds. After about an hour, the quiet study room became downright loud, very unusual. I poked my head out and there had to be over 300 people lined up along the side walk and in the lobby. Yup, I totally missed the large posters inviting people to the library for the solar eclipse party. The excitement in the children's' voices was intoxicating. But... when I get into what I call 'my zone', I write the most emotional scenes. To stop writing, pull myself out of  the D'Azzo's world and back into mine, well, I lose everything. The action in the scene would still be there, but the emotion- the element in the story that brings readers to my stories in the first place, would dissipate, gone forever.  The children's voices increased, and at that moment, I saved my document, closed my laptop and joined the crowd. And what a crowd it was. I live in a uniquely diverse area, every nationality and religion represented. People from all walks of life all came together in front of this wonderful library to experience this empyreal event. To think I thought for a second that it could be ignored. I didn't take photos of the crowd because I didn't want to disrespect anyone's privacy, but here is a short piece I found this morning that will give you an idea of what I was experiencing.

From the New York Times: The Solar Eclipse: Highlights From Its Path Across the United States

Here is my take on that hour and a half. [Excuse the lack of grammar and read the emotion behind the words.]
My Eclipse...No one cared who voted for Trump. Complete strangers were sharing their solar glasses with the stranger next to them because they wanted them to be able to experience the full effect. I handed my glasses to a kid who didn't have a pair, but no one asked me why I didn't take the time to order glasses ahead of time. They just offered theirs to me. Everyone was so kind, generous, considerate, making sure I, in my power chair, had a good view. No one cared that the kids were screaming with excitement at the top of their lungs because we all felt the same childlike excitement. Strangers hugged the strangers next to them because they were so overwhelmed by the experience, they had to share it with whoever was standing next to them. And when it was over, we all said farewell to each other--hopefully a little closer, a little more compassionate toward each other.

I can't believe I almost missed a true example of the best humanity. All I can say is thank God for loud, screeching, children's voices. 

Hugs to all,
Nancy C. Weeks

Saturday, August 19, 2017

MY THOUGHT FOR TODAY-BARCELONA, SPAIN


FOR THE PEOPLE OF BARCELONA

 Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.~


This has been such a sad week. My website was down for days so I'm a little late with this post. My heart aches for those so senselessly killed and injured in Barcelona. I can't come to grips with the why. I'm certain of one thing. The persons responsible are heartless cowards and they will pay dearly. 

I try to keep my post positive, but that is so hard right now. I grieve for those who lives have been changed forever. I wish with all my heart I could fix this world, end the violence, hatred, and the prejudice. Can on person make that kind of change?

Mahatma Gandhi said,  “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

So maybe I can't change the world, but I can remake me! I can rid my heart of the hate---and the need for revenge. Instead, I will find a way to forgive them. It may take some time, but I will work on it. I refuse to help evil win. That's not why I'm on this earth. There is such goodness, such love in mankind, and in this amazing world we all live. That is my pledge today. Evil doesn't have a chance against the power of my love. Join me my friends and love each other just a little harder, a little deeper.

LOVE TO ALL,
Nancy C. Weeks

Saturday, August 5, 2017

CURIOSITY ROVER FIFTH YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Hello Everyone!

Five years ago today, Curiosity landed on Mars. As a few of you might remember, my first interview on this blog was with my amazing sister-in-law, Joy Crisp.  Joy is Project Scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. Here is a quick throwback to that original interview. 




Wednesday, September 19, 2012 ...

I have always been inspired by people who follow their dreams.  Today, I’m so excited to introduce a woman I have been in awe with for years. Dr. Joy Crisp, the Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Project Scientist, is here to share with us how she learned to dream, and how her dreams led her to Mars.

Joy, I know that since the new Mars rover Curiosity’s landing in August, you have been living on Mars time.  I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your crazy schedule to share what keeps your dream alive and how you handle the constant ups and downs.


Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

I received a bachelor's degree in Geology from Carleton College in Minnesota and a PhD in Geology from Princeton University.  My scientific expertise is in the mineralogy and formation of volcanic rocks on Earth and Mars. I have been a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1987, carrying out NASA-funded research on volcanic eruption clouds and lava flows on Earth and Mars.  For the Mars Pathfinder Project, I was the Assistant Rover Scientist and Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer Investigation Scientist.  After that, I was the Mars Exploration Rover Project Scientist for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers for six years.  In my current job as Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Project Scientist since 2005, I have worked to maintain the science integrity of the mission and to prepare for and carry out science operations for the Curiosity rover on Mars.



         People of all ages have forgotten how to dream. What inspired you to dream?

What inspires me to dream is being a “rock detective.” I like trying to figure out how rocks formed by studying and interpreting the clues revealed by textures, mineralogy, chemistry, and the local geology.  The rover missions on Mars have allowed us to answer a lot of questions about what Mars was like in the past, and have also taken us to the next level of interesting questions for us to ponder.  To be on the very edge of these discoveries, and to see the detective work as it unfolds, is awesome and exciting.  I am also jazzed that kids and people in the general public find the rover missions interesting and that it inspires kids to be more interested in science and engineering.

We all place obstacles in our path which brings our dreams to a dead stop. I call these obstacles dream killers. What was your dream killer and how did you overcome it?

I’ve never come to a complete dead stop.  But my work on the Mars missions has been a never-ending cycle of encountering problems and either overcoming them, working around them, or accepting them and resetting expectations.  The problems span a wide range of things that the whole team faces: tight schedule constraints, budget issues, technical challenges, complexity challenges, and new bureaucratic challenges!

         How do you keep the dream alive under extreme adversity – external or internal?

What keeps me going is seeing new pictures come down from Mars with amazing surprises and hearing about new things the science team is figuring out.  When working on a Mars rover mission that is years in the making, before it gets to Mars, the dream stays alive with the realization of how exciting it will be when the rover finally gets there.  It also helps that a whole team works through the problems together. The wide variety of people helps bring different ideas, attitudes, and team spirit into the mix and strengthens our ability to get through it. 

When you reached the top, how did it feel?

When each of the rover missions have landed successfully on Mars (Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity), I felt a huge sense of relief and happiness, but also realized my life was about to change tremendously once again as my workday life suddenly changed from planning and preparing for a mission to actually carrying out a mission. Each mission has been more difficult than the previous one so the psychological and scientific payoff keeps increasing.

         How did realizing your dream change you?

         It made all that hard work leading up to the success feel worth it. And it makes me really proud of the team – that we pulled it off.

        What's next? What new dream would you like to reach for?  

My current dream (which I share with the whole science and engineering team) is that we are able to use the Curiosity rover to its fullest and make it all the way over to Mount Sharp.  We won’t know what discoveries will be in store for us until we get there, but the pictures taken from about 5 miles away are stunning!  I want to help enable the science team to get the most out of the mission we can, and participate in the learning. 

Joy sent me two new outreach products that I thought you might enjoy. If you are an educator, you really want to check this out. Amazing information to use in your classroom.


Curiosity’s First Five Years of Science on Mars     

Five years of Martian discoveries after seven minutes of terror.


A Guide to Gale Crater   
The Curiosity rover has taught us a lot about the history of Mars and its 
potential to support life. Take a tour of its landing site, Gale Crater.


If you have any questions for Joy, please feel free to post them in the comment section before or shoot me a email, nancy@nancycweeks.com. You can keep up with Joy and the Mars Rover project HERE

Hugs to all,
Nancy C. Weeks

Saturday, July 8, 2017

I WISH I WROTE THIS---BUT I CAN LIVE BY IT

Happy Saturday my dear blogger friends!

I hope your week went well. This morning, I opened an email from my sister. I thought I might share it with you. Honestly, I wished I wrote it. One thing I can do is live it.

From my sister, Terriann:
Good morning ladies,
     I found this short article in the paper this morning.  I’m taping it to our refrigerator…

“I am a mental health provider, and I have this piece of advice for all those whose lives are not what they want theirs to be: For the love of God, quit complaining and do something! You can’t afford to travel? Get a second job or a weekend job and start saving.
Don’t like the family you were born into? Join a church or a club or an athletic team and create a family of like-minded friends.
Feel that you are stuck and life is passing you by? Make a list of priorities and take the first step toward making number one happen.
In a dead-end job? Train for a better one at the local community college. No job at all? Volunteer, make crafts to sell, post offers to clean or do yard work at the local grocers.
Spouse drinks too much? Join Al-Anon.
Depressed? Start eating better and walking a mile or two a day.
Not close to your family? Make the first move, call often, and build your side of the bridge.

Quit waiting to win the lottery, to fall in love, for a pill to bring you happiness or for miracles to parachute into your life. Each of us is given a life, a brain, and a couple of decades to make a difference on this planet. No one else is responsible to bring happiness to us; it’s each of our responsibility, and what we create out of our time on earth is up to us. Thanks for letting me sound off! —S.”
~~~
That is truth if I ever heard it. My sweet mom taught her seven kids that we came with everything we need to live a happy life. It's up to us to figure out how. In my own life, I have found living the 11th commandment works for me. 


 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:34New King James Version 

Again, so simple, but potent. This note was published in Carolyn Hax’s column. She writes for the Washington Post. I'm sorry---I don't know who S is. So S, if you read this post, please email me and I will post your name immediately. I'm following my big sister's advice. This post is going on my refrigerator.

If you would like to share what has worked for you, please leave a comment below or email me. Nancy's Email

Hugs to all,
Nancy C. Weeks

Friday, June 30, 2017

REMINDER--LAST DAY FOR SHADOWS AND LIGHT SERIES SALE

Happy Friday Everyone!

This a quick reminder post. The first three books of my Shadows and Light series, In the Shadow of Evil, In the Shadow of Greed and In the Shadow of Malice will be on sale for only a few more hours. The June Kindle promo sale is suppose to be over at midnight. So...if you or a family member--or friend missed one of my wonderful McNeil brother's HEA, please take advantage of this amazing price. It will go back up to $4.99 Saturday, July 1st. 


 IN THE SHADOW OF GREED

IN THE SHADOW OF EVIL 

 IN THE SHADOW OF MALICE


Please share this around. I hope you enjoy reading about my McNeil brothers as much as I loved writing about them. That's it for now. Have a wonderful weekend and I hope you find a moment to read a great book.

Hugs to all,
Nancy C. Weeks