“Hi, Jackie, this is Bruce Barton of the Los Altos Town Crier. I want to talk to you about this piece you just wrote.”

The year was 2010.  My first book, My Life in a Tutu, had recently been published and for some strange reason, the powers that be at the Relay for Life cancer event thought I could do the marketing for the cause. I’d never done something like this before and I wasn’t sure I was up to the task. Hearing his voice, my stomach immediately churned for I was sure he hated it and wanted a re-do. Self-esteem has never been strong on my list of accomplishments.

“I just read it and like it.”

“You do?” I replied, completely off guard.

“Yes, I really like it. I was wondering if you’d like to have your own column in our paper?”

Surprised and shocked all in the same moment, I was speechless (something that rarely happens. Just ask my kids). Up to that point, writing was only what I did in my journals. I had no formal training. Seeing this as a gift from out of the blue, and that he trusted I might be good enough, I enthusiastically accepted. For the next nine years, I wrote about my life: the ups and downs, joy and pain, the minutia that fills my days. Having no one at home anymore, and being the talker I am, I was excited to tell the town what was on my mind.

Since that spring day, I’ve published three more books, filled my website with countless musings, found my way to speaking engagements, recorded my second book—The Promise I Kept—on Audible, and I am currently working on a Podcast series about the wisdom we gain from life. Because of Bruce’s belief in me, my world opened up. No, I take that back. It actually exploded.

But, as with anything, change happens. A few weeks ago, I received word the paper needed more space and this comment section was going to be removed for the time being. As always, Bruce’s approach over the news was gentle, kind, and complimentary over what had been. At first, my heart sank. Who was I going to tell my stories to now? Not only were they fun to write, but I always learned something new about myself. Despite the fact I’m well into my sixties, my self-discovery is only beginning.

I was told I could write one last article, so I decided to make it a “thank you” letter to all who have read over the years. To all who took the time, and to all the strangers I never met but reached out to me to tell me what they thought, I thank you. To the people on the street who stopped me to ask, “Are you the lady who writes for the newspaper? I read you all the time,” I thank you. And, to Bruce Barton, the editor, and Paul and Liz Nyberg, the publishers, I especially thank you. Writing for the Los Altos Town Crier has been one of my life’s greatest gifts.

While I’ll no longer be submitting stories to the newspaper, I’ll continue on my journey—you’ve all given me the courage to do so. New stories will be published on Facebook and on my website, www.sheilae3.sg-host.com.  Should you be interested in receiving them via email, subscribers are notified the moment a new story is published.

So, how do I say goodbye to the readers of the Los Altos Town Crier who were with me as I grew these past nine years? I don’t! Instead, I know in some blessed form, I’ll see you again. Until then, thank you for making my world a sacred place.