Gratitude and The Art of Chasing Normal

My latest YA novel


Today I’m talking about NORMAL.

Not that I know what “normal” is, exactly. Except to say, sometimes I lose my way and fixate on the grass around my feet that somehow just doesn’t seem to look as green as the grass on the other side of the pasture. The green I used to have, or was supposed to have. Or thought I had.

I don’t know. All I can say is, trying to write about “normal” this week was confusing. I mean, usually when I sit down to write my blog posts I choose whatever floats to the top of my brain, like say, Hey! I’ve got a brand new book!

Except this week something else kept fighting for top billing. I can’t stop thinking about my actual brain–and the MRI scan I had last week.

Sure, health stuff is important, but this was my third scan in three years (I’ve written a bit about it before here). Each time my neurologist has ordered a scan to “Rule out The Chronic Illness That Shall Not Be Named.” But so far, there’s been nothing conclusive. Except physically, I don’t have the bright shiny green-ness I used to.

Plus, there’s the worry. Because there were these unidentified things, not normal things, or maybe they are normal for me (one can hope). Either way they were confusing to the radiologist and doctor, something that maybe shouldn’t be there. Here’s a little graphic to give you an idea of what shouldn’t really be floating in your gray matter:

MRI scan picture

This is my brain. I’m sure you’re not at all surprised to see all the dessert.


But the problem with chasing after normal, is I think I’m going after me, but I lose a bit of myself in the process.

So, in order to get my brain off the subject of my brain, I’m focusing on my heart by practicing some gratitude.

Here are this week’s highlights:


funny faces

I’m grateful for my family–and silly faces.


dutch resistance world war two

Cornelia Warmenhoven

I am grateful to have heard Cornelia speak at a Kristallnacht Memorial service yesterday. Cornelia is a rescuer and an inspiration. She worked with the Dutch resistance against the Nazis during World War II.  I’m especially grateful for brave rescuers like Cornelia because my husband is a grandchild (and my kids, great-grandchildren) of Holocaust survivors.


I’m grateful for a college visit that took us on a scenic country drive. And for barns.  Barns are awesome.


military family

I’m grateful for my parents–and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Yes, I’m thankful to the U.S. Coast Guard for moving my dad and our family every couple of years. I’m serious! Because of this nomadic experience, I’ve been forever fascinated with the idea of living life in one place and falling in love with the boy next door (and road trips, but that’s another Grace and Zac story). Which leads me back around to…


I’m grateful for my new book.


I’m so thankful I get the opportunity to write, especially characters like Grace and Zac. I started this story several years ago, but it wasn’t until 2011 when they came back with more to tell, that I started reworking this one. It’s been so much fun writing about friendship and love and the boy next door. You can find out more about THE ART OF CHASING NORMAL here.

Last, but not least, I’m also grateful for YOU.

Huge thanks and big hugs to you for taking the time to read, or comment, or share. You are what make this part so rewarding. You make me feel a part of a super awesome community when I emerge from my writing cave. Tons of thanks for taking the time to share a part of  your lives with me.

Happy Monday.




**If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to receive my new posts straight to your inbox. Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.

57 thoughts on “Gratitude and The Art of Chasing Normal

  1. Coleen – great news about your book. We all have much to be grateful for – health, family, friends, and freedom. I have the day off and I’ll be visiting my daughter’s school for a Veterans Day ceremony and then ….. Who knows? I’ll be exercising some freedom (probably grading, too) I hope you have a great day!


  2. Coleeln! I’m so sorry to hear about your health issues. You don’t go into any detail of your symptoms so it is hard to comment. I will say a prayer for you. I can say that everyone has their stuff. The only reason why the grass is always greener when we look elsewhere, is those special green shades we are looking through.
    Congrats on your book!


    1. Thank you, Susie! I appreciate your support. 🙂 I didn’t mean to be vague–I didn’t want to rehash, so I just linked to the symptoms I’d written about in an older post. Probably because to me it’s the same old boring crap, LOL.


  3. Coleen! I’m excited about your new book and love the premise. I love the title, too!

    Sorry to hear you had to go through another MRI. I want you to get your bright, shiny greenness back. Zac and Grace are chasing normal, and so are you. I look forward to happy endings all around.


  4. I love this post, Coleen! You know how I love to talk and promote gratitude. I almost feel like I should start a Gratitude Project of some sort. I believe that gratitude, feeling it and expressing it, allows us to expand in our own space, if that makes sense. We can become bigger than we are, impact others and in turn, create joy within ourselves. *sigh*

    Your new book sounds great. Love the cover and title and I can’t wait to read it.

    You will be in my prayers concerning your health. (hugs)


    1. A gratitude project sounds awesome. Truly, whenever I’m stuck, finding a way to be grateful is always (eventually) a way out. It’s the advice I give my kids when they find themselves stuck too. Thanks so much for your support, Ginger. 🙂


  5. Oh that’s a lovely post, Coleen! Wow that you are related to holcause survivors that’s incredible! I do hope your brain is okay it looks so good with all those yummy treats in it. Praying for you that it is nothing serious and very excited for you that your next book is out soon. Squee!


  6. How exciting about your book. I understand the “not normal” or “maybe normal for me” stuff you talk about. I am not sure what would show up in my MRI, maybe it would look like your brain picture above.

    I will keep you in my thoughts that your health improves and you get back the shiny green-ness. I also need to add this book to my TBR list.


  7. Hey there! Love this grateful post. That’s amazing that your family is here because of survivors – yay to that! I also love families with silly faces. 🙂

    Sorry about the MRI, BOO. No fun. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    CONGRATS on your book!!! Why did I not know about this? How did I not know about this? I guess I lost track of you and things….I happen to have just won an Amazon gift card, and guess what I’m going to use it towards? I’m going to buy your book right now! yay! So excited to read it! Seriously, so happy for you. You awesomerock!


  8. I am happy with you for all these great things, especially your book, whose title I adore! CONGRATULATIONS!

    So sorry for the health quandary, and wishing you clarity there. But your lovely optimism and heart have to help restore your bight shiny greenness.


  9. I was literally LOL at what’s “floating in your gray matter!” Looks a lot like mine! Good thoughts and prayers that the MRI gives you some helpful info this time. And CONGRATS on the book release!! It looks wonderful!! Going to check it out now…


    1. I have to make fun of my brain, it’s the only thing that makes sense. I almost put all donuts on the pic, but then figured I’d talked about donuts so much recently, that someone might call for a donut intervention. 🙂 Thanks, Jennette!!


  10. I love the title of your new book! Congratulations on its release. You have so much to say, I expect your book to do very well!

    MRI’s and neurologists — have had my share. Hope things turn out okay for you.


  11. “The Art of Chasing Normal.” I love, love, love the title Coleen! I cannot wait to read it.

    As always, you write about the brighter side of life, even though you may be experiencing your own health challenges. I missed your post last year. Don’t ask me why. Last year was a blur. But I do understand the frustration and agony of dealing with on-going heath problems. No secret there. lol. I think it is a rare thing today if we don’t have something that is affecting us. So, you choose to take the high road and focus on the things that make you happy. Having a health issue Coleen tends to make us more aware and appreciative of the many blessing we have in our life. It keeps life more real to us. I hope they find out soon what is the cause of your symptoms my friend. The not knowing can be the worst part of any ailment. I hope you have a peaceful, happy week! {{Hugs!}} 🙂


    1. You are exactly right, Karen. There’s definitely a correlation between my road trips, festival going, and picture taking. I’ve been pushing my worry into action and focusing on enjoying life. I don’t know what else to do, other than to make silly brain MRI graphics–ie laugh. 🙂 Thanks for the hugs and support, Karen. Appreciate it TONS. 🙂


  12. A big congrats on your book! Wishing you a lot of success! Hopefully, the doctors can figure out what’s wrong so you can get cured of whatever it is affecting you. It so nice though to see here that you enjoy life and have a great family as a support system.


  13. I am not at all surprised to see the dessert in your brain, Coleen, but I do hope everything else in your MRI is equally sweet! When I was 20 weeks pregnant with my son I had a routine ultrasound that revealed cysts on his brain. We were rushed to genetic counseling and basically strong-armed into amnio and after a terrifying week it turned out that there was nothing unusual there at all and he was totally fine. So I hope that will be the case for you too. Meanwhile, glad you got to see some nice barns – I know how you love them 🙂 As for your new book, it looks terrific! I love the cover and blurb. I will have to hie me over to Amazon and pick one up because I loved Come Back To Me!


  14. I wish you the best with your health – dessert can be awesome medication! Congrats on your book. I think it is amazing that you’re publishing your work. Good luck with it all!


  15. Congratulations on your new book! And take care of your dear brain. One big hug heading your way where the hugger holds on way longer than you’re comfortable with and squeezes you so tight you can barely breathe and just when you think it’s going to make you cry, you both start laughing instead. 🙂


  16. Coleen! You’re going great guns – book two out already! And braver than most, judging by those brain scans… I hope you are able to get some answers, and solutions, soon. I’ll be back to check out your book as soon as I get MY brain back into gear. Thanks for being a shining star in my community 🙂


  17. Love the title. Love the cover. Love the premise. This is going on my reading list!

    I’m praying the scan turns out all right for you. I am inspired by your attitude of gratitude.

    (And I actually did marry the boy next door. 🙂 20 years and counting…)


  18. Congratulations on the new release, Coleen!! I just crawled out of my editing cave today and am playing catch up with my favorite blogs. I love the cover!!

    And boy do I get that frustration with medical tests and doctors when they can’t figure out what’s wrong, or even if there is anything wrong. I have about six (I lose count sometimes) chronic conditions that affect my energy. I finally found a doctor who takes the concept of quality of life seriously. Hope you get some answers soon.


    1. Thanks, Kassandra! I really like what you say about your dr taking the quality of life part seriously. Sometimes the testing can end up making me feel like I’m nuts, especially when it goes on for awhile. I think I’m at a point where I probably need to find a new dr.


  19. Congratulations! The book sounds great and I love that last line in the description. I’m thankful for road trips and silly faces too. I hope everything works out with the MRIs. Maybe those unidentifiable things help you with writing, especially if they’re dessert related.


  20. It’s so refreshing to come here and read about someone who is courageous and filled with gratitude! I hope you get more than answers and have some solutions from these doctors soon. My mom went to a number of doctors for a small mark on her face and happened to find one that was a specialist in microbiology who knew what it was.. it was an infection that he hadn’t seen in years. So one doctor is not like the other.. I wish you luck. In the meantime, keep writing, this is so fantastic that you’ve got a new book written already. It is such an accomplishment!! Congratulations! xx


  21. That accidental kissing thing — it’ll get you every time. There ought to be insurance coverage. I’m sorry to hear that you have been anxious about health-related stuff — it sounds like you are maintaining a sense of humor about it and I am glad to hear that. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your book.


  22. Coleen, I’m sorry to hear about your health worries. Normal looks different for each one of us. Praying that whatever concerns the radiologist is just your own personal brand of normal.
    Congrats on the many blessings you have counted, and for the new book. Yay!


  23. Nice refocus. I’m going to do it too, right now. I am grateful for warm fuzzy socks, for my third Underdead book coming out in a few weeks, for my new home and the fact that we all just laughed and dealt over the fact that the toilet backed up.

    Thanks for that. And yay on your book release! Looking forward to reading it.


  24. What a fabulous post, Colleen. I’m thankful for you as well and for silly faces and family and those who risked their lives to save holocaust victims. And barns. I love barns, too.

    I hope you brain “thing” is “normal” and nothing to worry about.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  25. Congrats on the new novel–awesome cover and love the fonts! Sorry to hear you had to get another MRI. I hate being inside those machines–even the open MRIs are a challenge to stay still and calm. Love your family pics–so cute!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s