SECRETS REVEALED! I am so happy to share with you one of my big secrets! I think I’ve built suspense long enough, so let’s get right to it:

I’m honored to have become a contributing writer for Laini’s Little Pocket Guide website! If you live in the Lehigh Valley, you’re likely familiar with the printed books. If you’re not familair, let me explain: Laini and her team have assembled handy pocket-size guidebooks for the three big Lehigh Valley cities – Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.

These books are full of town history, quirky facts (like the proper way to drive around the Easton Circle) and list many of the businesses, shops, galleries and restaurants in the area. Everything mentioned is an independent or family-owned business. The books can be picked up at said businesses all over the Lehigh Valley, and sell for $4.99.

I met with Laini last week and within seconds of knowing her, her vibrant personality and passion about this part of Pennsylvania came through. Her wild red hair suits her perfectly, and her excitement for all the incredible things happening in the Valley stirs up a contagious thrill.

The print guides now have a corresponding website that just launched about a month ago, and I have jumped eagerly on board to write for it!  This project is so exciting because it’s about promoting and supporting the community. It’s about getting people excited to live here, and revealing all the little places tucked away that even us natives aren’t familiar with. (Thanks to the Easton guide, last night I tried a new thai vegetarian restaurant I’ve never been to! It’s only been about eight miles away all this time!)

Please keep an eye out for the pocket guides at independent business everywhere (and Wegmans, too). They make great references for people that seek to fall in love with the Valley all over again.

My first article was posted today. You can find that and more information on the pocket guides here (and become Facebook fans for latest updates and events!):

(STAY TUNED later today for the unveiling of a brand new project!!!)

Get thee to… an outdoor cafe!

I love this weather because it’s like pre-Fall. I mean, I know we have to go through pesky, stupid hot summer, but it’s so nice to wake up and throw on a sweater in the morning and be a little chilly but comfortable. The kind of weather that makes you find excuses to do things outside. Thus, laptops and wireless internet are brilliant inventions, and I get to make this post from the sidewalk of my favorite cafe! Unlimited coffee, sunshine, and people walking soooo many DOGS.

Just as finished that last sentence, I ran into an old friend doing some shopping on Main Street and it filled up my heart! What is it about weather that so deeply affects our moods? Isn’t it true that the sunnier it is outside, the sunnier your soul feels?

I’m going to postpone the “Weekly Pet Adoptions” post, to share with you some of the most beautiful words ever to be typed out on keyboard. I was sent some of these messages in response to my “glow worm post”, and I want to preserve them here and also share with you the thoughts and feelings that connect us all to each other. To the authors whose names I will not mention, these words resonated to my core and I thank you for being open and brave enough to share them.

Every day we have opportunities to positively influence the lives of others, and be reminded that we are all human beings, and truly being human(e) to one another is what it’s all about.

Perfect arrangements of alphabet letters:

“Jaime: If those words were drawings and your audience were children your book would surely have the Caldecott Medal imprinted on each copy.”

” It felt reassuring to me to read what you had written this morning. …I could actually provide an example to people for whom an example is rarely given. I got where I am today walking down a road on which I had no direction.

I quite literally swallowed hard, pushed ahead, and said fuck it and I have to repeat that process every single day or it will all be for not. …Like you said, it is about finding that past, that purpose so easily lost in the turbulence of afflicted thought to show a clear path through it, back out of the storm.

It’s always going to storm, but the weather changes just as quickly.”

“beautiful, timely, and real. thank you for putting this out there. some of the most horrible moments i’ve experienced have inspired some of the most incredible transformations, and i wouldn’t be who i am w/o having gone through all of it. i also wouldn’t have the empathy or compassion i have for others who struggle, fall short, or fail to live up to their own or someone else’s standards.

i believe the wake-up calls always come right on time, no matter how much my ego protests.

if someone rejects me or deems me or my behavior somehow so unacceptable that there is no open space left for any chance to get it together, i tend to emerge w/ a much stronger sense of who i *really* am and what i need to do to heal from the pain of abandoning *myself*. this initially pisses me off, because i’m left thinking, “why couldn’t so & so just give me some time to get my head and heart worked out instead of just dumping me?” but then, i realize that the universe unfolds the way it does for reasons i’ll never understand and acceptance seems to begin at that point…

who is w/o faults? who doesn’t deserve a chance to get it right?

for every bad moment that’s been used to define me and judge me, there are *far* more good moments, great moments, and exquisite moments i can recall…

some people take up the invitation to become inquisitive – to accept, change, learn, love, forgive, and grow. i have been waking up. and i’m grateful.”

You can choose to be stuck or you can choose to be strong. The amount of effort is the same.

When you begin to seek beauty in your life and within yourself, I promise you will find it. Happy weekend, everybody.