Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the body of golden girl, Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside Gilda’s office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation. When three more dead blondes turn up, all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders.
Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.
As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.
Former colleagues, especially those on the cusp of retirement, smile politely and move on to safer topics. Younger friends and relatives frown and ask for clarification. Other creatives prefer to talk about leaving a footprint, sailing beyond the sea of troubles, or discovering new oceans. But to me, the concept of a second act makes more sense. In a play, that’s where the story really takes off and the characters work hard to resolve their conflicts.
A second act is not a “start over from scratch” situation where we erase all the mistakes and lessons of our past. People who continually attempt to relive that first act usually make the same mistakes, encounter frustration and actually make things worse. Unfortunately, we have too many examples of public falls from grace that are continually replicated.
Instead, we should keep in mind William Shakespeare’s advice—What’s past is prologue—and work hard to transform our first act lessons into second act blessings.
A daunting task but doable.
After retiring from a 31-year teaching career, I joyfully spent two weeks getting rid of files, giving away books and binders, and eliminating all traces of my teacher persona. While I experienced many satisfying moments during those years, I was ready to leave those memories behind and focus on a new vision.
To experience any kind of personal growth, there must be a place—even if it’s only a tiny crack—for that process to begin.
I made it very clear that I wouldn’t be supply teaching, tutoring or doing anything remotely connecting to education. As a result, I ended up with large, unfilled blocks of time. To counteract the boredom, I decided to experiment with anything that caught my attention. I signed up for creative writing workshops and online courses, joined Toastmasters, took advantage of a summer yoga special, and attended local readings and lectures.
Practice Self Care
During that first year, I would write feverishly and forget about stopping to prepare lunch or dinner. Hungry and tired, I would then reach for sugar-laden snacks or order a pizza. Knowing that I could no longer blame my poor eating habits on lunches curtailed by extra help sessions, meetings, and incessant school bells, I took responsibility for my own recharge and repair.
I invested in a bird clock. Each hour, one of my feathered friends, among them the Song Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, and Black-Capped Chickadee, chirp and remind me to pace myself.
I also needed to incorporate more physical activity into my schedule. It took a bit of juggling and experimentation, but I finally achieved a balanced exercise regimen that includes cardio (treadmill), weight resistance, and yoga.
Find Your Tribe
I enjoyed sharing my new experiences with my teacher friends but started to notice glazed expressions in the middle of conversations. I took immediate action, venturing out to local writing clubs and signing up for courses and seminars. Later, I joined Sisters in Crime, Guppies, Crime Writers of Canada, and Romance Writers of America. With my new tribe of writers and creatives, I can comfortably chat for hours on end about the Oxford comma, editing, query letters, traditional vs. self-publishing…
About the Author
In high school, Joanne dabbled in poetry, but it would be over three decades before she entertained the idea of writing as a career. She listened to her practical Italian side and earned degrees in mathematics and education. She experienced many fulfilling moments as she watched her students develop an appreciation (and sometimes, love) of mathematics. Later, she obtained a post-graduate diploma as a career development practitioner and put that skill set to use in the co-operative education classroom. She welcomed this opportunity to help her students experience personal growth and acquire career direction through their placements.
In 2008, she took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
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