Meet Linda Tillis; Crime Scene Investigator (Ret.), Photographer, and Author.

Linda Tillis

One of the best things I have gained from blogging, writing, podcasting, and audiobook narrating over these past several years is the people that I engage with. One of those people that I have had the honor of developing a friendship and partnership with is Linda Tillis. She has written three books, and I have had the pleasure of narrating two. I believe you will find her as interesting as I do. Recently, she agreed to let me interview her.

 

Q: Your third book (A Heart for All Time) has just released on Amazon for pre-sale on Kindle. Congratulations!   Have you always wanted to be an author?

A:  As much as I loved to read in my younger years, I never once gave thought to becoming an author.  And I did love to read!  In my senior year of high school, I would sell book reports to friends during Thursday’s lunch hour.

 

Q: Tell us about your early career that led up to your writing.

A:  Immediately after graduation, I went to work at a sewing factory. (Thank goodness for four years of Home Economics). I spent eighteen years there, nine years on the sewing floor, then nine years as the assistant to the production manager. When garment manufacturing started to die here in the United States, I saw the handwriting on the wall and started looking for another job.

I went to work for the local police department. I spent a few months as a dispatcher, then applied for an opening as a non-sworn Crime Scene Investigator.  The Corporal who trained me had been a medic in Vietnam. He had been doing CSI work for ten years and believed that no one should do it for longer than that.  I replaced him and went on to do the work for twenty years.

During those years I saw a side of life that most folks never see, and that’s a good thing. The constant exposure to death, brutality, and total lack of morality can either harden a person or push a person to the edge of their personal tolerance.  My husband realized I had reached my limit and suggested that I retire.  I realized he was correct, and when I reached the twenty-year mark, I left police work.

 

Q: It’s interesting that you have broken down your career into segments. So, what was the next chapter in your life? Pun intended.

A: My husband bought me a good camera and said,” Now go out and take pictures of living things.” And so, I did.

Once I had a nice portfolio of nature photography, he insisted I should write articles and sell them.  I sold two separate articles, with photos, to the Florida Wildlife Magazine. During this time, I had gone back to work for the local sheriff office as a 911 dispatcher. At the end of seven years, I retired permanently. Then my husband said, “You should write a book about the things you’ve seen.”

I jokingly said, okay. But once I had started, the first book just poured out. I found it was less painful to address the awful memories if I put them in a historical context, so I became a historical romance/inspirational writer. Telling stories of strong women who overcome adversity to find the love they deserve.

 

Q: Looking back, what would you say that you would have done differently?

A:  The only thing I might have done differently, is to start writing earlier, however, I am a firm believer that everything happens in the Lord’s time. I believe He knew I would need this career at this point in life, and I attribute my small success to Him.

 

A Heart for All TimeQ: So, now you have three books out. The most recent, A Heart for All Time, has just been released. Would you tell us a little about it?

A: It is a time travel set in Greeneville, Tennessee, where my sister has lived for several years. Just like the first two, there is a thread of law enforcement. The heroine, Sarah Haskins, is a 911 operator. She buys a piece of Cherokee Indian jewelry that transports her back to 1890 just in time to save a man from hanging.

 

Q: I would like to post links to your books and your author page. Which ones would you like for me to use?

A: I am in the process of building a new website, but, anyone interested can follow me at

https://www.facebook.com/LindaTillisAuthor/

The books can be found on Amazon at   https://amzn.to/2uL3TBJ

Or The Wild Rose Press at   https://bit.ly/2IuRrYT

 

When I Die

Quite a ways back, the Country Music singer Tanya Tucker came out with a song where she sang about when she died. The chorus went something like this:

When I die, I may not go to heaven

‘Cause I don’t know if they let cowboys in…

I don’t know if Ms. Tucker ever got her theology corrected since then. If she did, then she knows God loves the cowboys and cowgirls too and that distinction will not keep one out of heaven any more than that distinction will get them in. What I do know is also found in a song that sings the grace of God toward me and anyone else who knows they will never be good enough or hold any position that gets them into heaven.

Amazing grace how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now I’m found,

Was blind, but now I see.

pexels-photo-262488.jpegI once was spiritually dead, but now I am spiritually alive. As such, I know my eternal home is with God through Jesus’ saving grace. I know I will physically die, but I will spend eternity in heaven. How do I know you may wonder? There are several proofs I have experienced that have settled this issue for me. The main proof is time. I have walked long enough with my Savior, Jesus to see the work He has done in my life and in the lives of others. I have read enough of His words to see the truths contained therein transform not only my life but the lives of others as well. I have labored long enough beside fellow believers to see the hand of God in them as they minister to others. I have witnessed enough of God’s supernatural intervention when it defied logic. I have suffered enough to feel the arms of Jesus wrap around me and comfort me. I failed enough, and each time God has picked me back up.

So, when I die, I want it to be a celebration of a life well lived before and with my God. I want there to be some humor in it. I want people to remember how God used me to touch their lives and I want people to remember that when I blew it, how God gave me the strength and courage to make it right. I have envisioned my funeral to my family and some friends several times.

At the visitation:

pexels-photo-278779.jpegAs my body lies in the casket, I want it draped with yellow daffodils (my favorite flower, I will have to tell why in another blog). I want the contemporary Christian music songs from my MP3 player playing in the background. Along the route where the line of visitors usually forms, I want there to be small ceramic planter type pillars (like the ones the plants stand on) strategically placed with the several candy jars from my office on each one. So, there will need to be at least three. This way the jars can be emptied for the last time. One friend jokingly commented that I am assuming there will be a line. True enough.

When the visitors arrive, I want them to get a half sheet size bulletin, with the usual stuff in it and one of those small pencils you use when playing goofy golf. On the back of the bulletin will be a “seek and find” puzzle of all the things I accomplished or attempted in my life, i.e., beekeeper, author, father, friend, husband, etc. You get the idea. This way folks have something to do while they are waiting in line (again, assuming there will be a line) and when they get to the front of the line, they will have something to talk about with the family members they never met before. I can hear it, “Hey, I never knew T.J.  was a blogger. Now that he is gone I will have to go back and read some of his stuff.” My family could reply, “Yes, and he was an author too, here’s his card with his websites. They are still up and running. We still have some of his books we need to get rid of. Just order from the web store.”

At the funeral:

pexels-photo-133699.jpegI will leave it to my wife and family as to how they want me positioned at this fancy affair. That’s how it worked when I was alive, so why stop now. I am good with it now; I will be good with it then. My friends can offer their eulogies, stories, and memories, etc. There are few songs I want the congregation to sing. Hopefully, I have more than four friends show up. If not then it can be a quartet. Here they are:

  • Shout to the Lord (Someone doing sign language to this would be great)
  • How Great is Our God
  • Beulah Land (This is good as a solo)
  • Ten Thousand Reasons (aka Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul)

Scripture:

I want this scripture in the mix somewhere:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. I Peter 1:3-5.

And this scripture on my tombstone:

For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:10

When it is all over, and everyone comes by to say their last good-byes, I want four crisp one dollar bills in my hands so my four children can come by and get my last dollar. When they button up the casket and wheel me out, I want it to be to the tune of circus/ theater music, because that will be the epitome of my life: full of adventure, surprises, laughter, drama, and clowns.

 

Why I Blog

What’s in a name?

You may wonder why the title “The Salty Eclectic?” Good question ( I like good questions). The overarching theme of my life is: I am a Christian. One with varied interests and likes. I see God’s world full of color and everything is beautiful in its own way (I think Ray Stevens was right). God designed this world with variety and creativity. We are to experience all that He meant for us.

Salty

food-kitchen-cooking-spices.jpgIn this world, Jesus meant for us to be like salt. Salt adds flavor to something already good and can make the bad more palatable. Salt also is a purifier. I personally like salt (see Why I Love Salt). Christians are to be all three.

One in a million

I once heard it said that since we are all one in a million that would mean there are 7,000 people just like us. I have also heard said the theme of certain people’s lives is that they have a diversity of interests, creativities, experiences, and knowledge. I couldn’t think of a better description of my life. And with this thinking, there must be at least 7,000 people who fit that description as well. They are eclectic and their diversity is the salt of life for them and for me.

My Goal

ice-hockey-goalie-goal-sport-39016.jpegIt is my aim to be the salt in this world by sharing the insights by my place in it. I believe that I am here at this time and this generation for a purpose. All my writing reflects this. I cannot stress this enough to people. I know it is a cliché, but it is true: If I can touch but one life through my writing; if I can bring one soul to a renewed life with God; if I have brought one person inspiration, then I have succeeded at my goal.

Busy or Productive?

The Busy Day

The day has ended, and you look back at it only to see that you cannot name one major thing that you have accomplished. You worked hard bouncing from one task to another. Often, there were some tasks that you could not finish because there were several tasks that had to be done first. Almost like a domino effect:  “I can’t finish that task until I do this and I can’t finish this until I do that, etc.” And don’t forget there were several that could not be completed because you are still waiting for someone else to complete theirs first. “I have been busy all day, but can’t see where I have accomplished anything,” you sigh. So, have you been productive or just “busy all day?”

The Problems

My biggest problem is distractions. I get bored of the task, or it becomes laborious, and I get distracted. I want to move onto something more interesting, challenging, and entertaining. The second biggest problem is that I get the task/time frame wrong. I over commit or estimate wrong. Many times I have more task than I do time. I will begin the task and then run out of time, and then that task sits idle until I think I have enough time to finish it. Often I have committed to another task that now has screamed for my attention. This leads to busyness, but not productivity. There is a simple solution.

A Solution

pexels-photo-268351.jpeg   I would love to take credit for this but I can’t. It’s not my idea. However, I can tell you without a doubt I have used it to my advantage many times and still do. I won’t recount the whole story here, but I think you can get the gist of it. During the grand railroad building and iron boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was business advisor/consultant named Ivy Lee. He went to see a very successful Charles M. Schwab (not the investor). He promised Schwab that he could help him increase productivity. Schwab told Lee that he only had twenty-five minutes before he had to catch a train and that he needed more “doing” and less “knowing.” Lee took out a 3×5 card and handed it to Schwab. He further gave him directions. Here they are modified to some degree as I have used this method: (You can also find the whole story on the internet)

  1. At the end of the day write down ten (10) things that you have to accomplish the next day. If ten is too much, start with five.
  2. Rearrange these in the order of importance with the most important thing you have to get accomplished at the top and the next and so on down the list.
  3. The next day work on the number one item as much as you can. I mean work that puppy for all its worth either until it is complete or you can do no more on it. Then move on to number two and so on.
  4. At the end of the day sit down and rewrite your list on another 3×5 card just like number one above and the next day repeat steps 1-4.

Go For It

All this may sound too simple. That is what Schwab thought too until he tried it and then had all his managers try it too. It took Lee about twenty-five minutes to explain all this to Schwab. He then told Schwab to pay him whatever he felt the information was worth to him. Several weeks later Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000. A $1000 a minute is what Schwab felt the information was worth. What’s it worth to you? Try it for a week and then share with me how it has worked for you.

2018: A Significant Year in Six Simple Steps

How’s your year?

Have you ever had a day or week even, where you have felt like you just muddled through it? How about a year or a series of years? Some might say that this is indicative of their whole life. Or have you just felt like your life is not one of significance? My favorite saying for most issues is that “it’s a choice.” Rather simple and uneventful. Simple, yes, but not always easy. The significance is a choice. But how can I choose to make 2018 a year of significance? Here are six practical steps to head you (and me) in the right direction.

Step One: Define Significance.

As Stephen Covey has said, start with the end in mind. At this time next year what would have to of occurred for you to say that the last twelve months were significant? What does that look like? What would you have to be or, where would you have to be, and what would you have to accomplish? The term significance in of itself is too broad. Set specific goals. This is foundational. Don’t gloss over this. If you get this right then you are on the right track. It is worth your time to really work hard on this first step. Some call it defining the “why”.

Step Two: Plan.

Break it down. Step one is broad in nature. Now you have to break it down into smaller attainable chunks. Can you break the goal down into twelve steps where you can accomplish one each month? Let’s say your goal is to save $1200.00 this year. Some may laugh at that. The average American family won’t save even $200.00 each year. Did you save $1200.00 last year? $200.00? So, that’s our goal. Can you find a way to save $100.00 a month? Or let’s say you want to increase your knowledge on any given subject and you decide to read books that would help you accomplish this. Could you read a book a month or a book every two months? You get the idea.

Step Three: Focus.

Keep the goals you have outlined in front of you. Out of sight, out of pexels-photo-370659.jpegmind is a true maxim. Never underestimate the value of a 3×5 card. List your goals on several and strategically place them so you see that list every day, several times a day. Put one on your bathroom mirror so you can see it in the morning when you get up and before you go to bed. Put one on your refrigerator, one on the dashboard of your car, one on your desk, in your lunch box and so on. Keep your mind focused on your goals.

Step Four: Evaluate.

eye-female-funny-glass-41558.jpeg  You have a goal, and you have a plan. Now you have to measure the plan. There are several ways to do this, monthly, quarterly, biannually, and annually. In some cases, depending on the goal, you may have to measure and review weekly or daily.  For you to save $1200.00 a year, you will have to save around $23.08 a week or $46.15 every two weeks. What if you get paid every two weeks, and you rounded it up to $50.00 a pay period? At the halfway point of the year, you would have $650.00. You would be $50.00 ahead of your goal for that timeframe.

For most of my adult life, I have reviewed how my life was going every six months. I would do these reviews around Christmas and my birthday in June. I have asked myself these questions: am I where I want to be in life? Is my life heading in the direction I wanted it to be? Have I accomplished what I wanted? What am I going to do differently to get myself back on course?

Step Five: Adjust.

What course corrections do you need to make to keep on course? The worst thing you can do here is beat yourself up for not meeting your intended goals and mile markers. Now don’t get me wrong. I agree with you if you are disappointed. If you are not disappointed, then you have other issues. If life has dealt you a heavy blow and has knocked you way off course, then it may take some time and effort to get back to it. I am not talking about that. Pick yourself back up. We all get there, but if you are just plain lazy and making excuses then I have no sympathy for you, and you really weren’t committed to your goals. Too harsh? Not if you want it.

Step Six: Complete it. Repeat it.

So let’s say you weren’t able to meet your goal of $1200.00, but you were able to save $700.00. How much more do you have than the average American? Were you successful? YES! You are now further along than you were before. So you were trying to read twelve books but only finished ten. Success! Your year was significant. Now, let’s do it again. From month to month and year to year, you will create a life of significance. Question is: what is significance? You may have to redefine the answer to that question each year.

P.S. Let’s make it more personal. Here are my goals for 2018 and how I have them broke down.

  • Fifty-two blogs. That’s one a week. I have fifty-one to go.
  • Twenty-six podcasts. That’s one every two weeks.
  • Record four audio books. One a quarter.
  • Read twelve books. One a month.
  • Upload twelve videos to my YouTube Channel. One a month.
  • Publish one book.
  • Increase my prayer life. Spend five mornings a week in prayer. Keep a journal.
  • Reduce my debt by 25%. I’ll discuss this in another blog.
  • Increase my savings by $1200.00 this year. Sounded like a good goal. I have set up a monthly transfer of $100.00 from checking into savings.

 

pexels-photo-226635.jpeg
Podcast for this blog

 

Five Reasons Why You Should Employ the Golden Rule at Work

Golden Ruler  To start, let’s define the Golden Rule, rather than just assuming everyone knows. It was first spoken by Jesus and is a basic principle of life. The premise: treat others as you would have them treat you. If you want respect, give respect. If you want loyalty, give loyalty. If you want courtesy give courtesy. Will you always get what you give? Not always, but here are five reasons why you should still employ and encourage others to employ the Golden Rule in business dealings. They work in tandem with each other.

Better working environment.

If you want others inside and outside of your organization to not only get along but build trust and rapport, then this is foundational. You must build relationships to succeed. It starts with how you treat people. People and relationships flourish in the soil of appreciation, respect, and trust. If you or you allow others, to mistreat those within and without your organization, this equates to abuse. “Even a dog will stop being your friend if you continue to smack him.” Everyone by the very virtue of being a human deserves respect. Insubordination goes only one way – up. Respect and disrespect go two ways. It has been said, “employees don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.”

Law of Unforeseen Consequences.

A maxim I have used many times is “Be careful of the hell you create today. You will have to live in it tomorrow.” The way you treat people is a decision. A choice. Each choice we make, notice I said, choice not action, has consequences. Non-action is a choice. If we allow or exercise mistreatment, betraying of trust, gossip, or backbiting, then it will come back on your organization. Usually, this is in ways that were unforeseen and to a level, we did not expect. The same is true for treating and encouraging others to treat others well. It’s also the principle of sowing and reaping. You reap what you sow. Sow kindness, get kindness, sow trust, get trust, sow honesty, get honesty.

Structures and relationships will always change.

You do not know today what the structure is going to be like tomorrow. How many times have you seen someone work their way from an entry-level position to one higher than yours or to become your boss? Another saying: “Be careful of who you tick off today, you may need them tomorrow (or they may be your boss tomorrow).” I could probably write pages about this one.   

I once knew a paramedic who was speeding and was stopped by a state trooper. The trooper gave the paramedic a hard time about obeying the law and how he was in the public eye, etc. etc. They got into a heated discussion. The trooper got mad and wrote the paramedic the maximum ticket. Several months later, the trooper flipped his car during a high-speed chase. Guess who responded on the ambulance? The paramedic. They remembered each other. The paramedic took the high road and gave the trooper the best of care.

Seek first to understand.

We all want others to listen and understand us. If something must change in your organization, seek to understand what effect it will have on others. If you must “take down a fence (especially a sacred fence) seek to find out why the fence was placed there to begin with.” If you start a stampede you might wish the fence was still there.

We need each other.

“The turtle on the fencepost didn’t get there by himself.” For fun, people will put turtles on a fencepost (yes I know it can be deemed animal cruelty, but bear with me). The point is that turtle got there with some help. So it is in the success journey we are all on. We need others to help us. If we are too stubborn or prideful to seek or accept help, if we get to the top it will be lonely. If we do accept help, we should be quick to give credit where credit is due. I am not talking about handouts here, but hand ups. Help others and it will come back to you visibly in ways you would have not expected and invisibly in ways, you may never know.

There are many more ways you can improve the relationships you have worked so hard to develop. I have given you five here as a foundation treating others how you want to be treated. Employ these and see how the environment changes. The good thing – these can be used in any relationships to strengthen them.

What Happened to the Blog?

Question MarkRecently, several people have asked me this question. For the first time since September I don’t have a looming deadline for an audio book. It was in August of last year that I started my audio book narration career, stint, what ever you care to call it and through it all I did not have time to write anything. The answer to the title question: It didn’t go at all.

The problem is that I over estimated what it would take to do audio books. I thought it would be a simple process. I mean,  how hard can it be? It’s just reading a book into a mic, right? Wrong. What I found out is for every hour of audio someone records, there is about four hours of editing, producing, formatting, and performing a quality control check. Honestly, I got in over my head.

I over booked my self and then I joined with a great lady who has learned so much in the way of narration and is great at accepting coaching and critique. We formed a team for audio books that seemed to be missing in the medium we chose to use.

So far, I have  completed four books personally and Becci and I have completed four. We are currently waiting on the approval of our fifth and are set to start our sixth book together. Through these books we have learned to back off and have fun doing the books and to leave time and room for the unexpected and the priorities in life.

The unexpected for us included: increased travel for my day job, increased hours and responsibilities for her at her job, sickness, and learning the ropes for both of us. Learning the ropes was probably the hardest part. I have went back and listened to some of our first books. Boy, how I wish we could do those over again.

For those of you have inquired about my writing, thank you. For those who have inquired about the audio books, thank you. I plan to take the time to start blogging again, this being the first for 2017. The next will be concerning a new direction containing reviews in a format I call “The 360 Second Review with the Salty Eclectic.” I also hope to get back to doing the interview type blogs that I had started in 2016. I also plan to get back to the blogcasts. I believe you find they will be of better quality. Thanks again.

Meet Jeremy Bullard: Security Officer and Writer

When I was working on publishing my first book someone told me to join some writing groups. I did some searching around on Facebook and saw one I found interesting. It is one of those groups you have to be accepted in to be a part of it. I read some of the feed and thought this one was pretty interesting. So, I asked to join. Just like that, I was introduced to the group. I was welcomed by the group instantly. One of the administrators, who happened to be a resident of Dothan, expressed how glad he was to have someone from the group so close to home. When he saw where I was from, he reached out to me. I want to say “we hit it off immediately” because I liked his posts and his sense of humor. It was Jeremy Bullard.

We corresponded through posts and IM over the past year or so. Several months back I contacted Jeremy and asked to meet. It only made sense, since we both lived so close and were in the same writer’s group, to meet. He agreed. We met at a local coffee shop and discussed everything from books to theology. I recently asked Jeremy if I could recap some of that conversation and some of the other things we had discussed through the time I had been in the group. He graciously agreed.us

Q: Jeremy, could you give us a little background on you and your family?

Jeremy: I’m 44 years old, and have been married to my wife Mary for 15 years this October. We have three children, Olivia (12), Caleb (10), and Madison (8), who I am convinced, are going to be the death of me. If not from their homeschooling, from their EPIC level in-fighting!

Q: Family history?

Jeremy: History? That could take a while, but just to broad brush things… I’m the product of a broken home, twice over. My biological father left when I was a newborn, not to be seen again until I was 38. My Mom and the man who became my Dad just couldn’t keep their stuff together. But for all that (I could complain about stuff daddyinglike that), it actually taught me to see the OPPORTUNITY in the hardships. If not for my biological father leaving, I never would’ve met my Dad. If not for that broken home, I never would’ve had the benefit of going to school in Illinois and summering in Alabama. If not for the stark differences between my Mom and Dad, I never would’ve gotten my serious Christian walk, which is coupled with a strong “what if” personality. All of the seeming trials in my life flow together to create a unique experience that created a unique me, as it does with EVERYBODY’S life. 🙂

Q: I know you make a living at a career, but also have a side “passion” if you will. Could you tell us what you do for a living?

Jeremy: I’m an armed security officer at the local nuclear plant (and just to dispense with an oft-perpetuated myth; no, the radioactive material at a nuclear plant CANNOT “blow up” like a bomb). I’ve been there for ten years now, having started work there about a month before Caleb was born. I joke about the pay, but it is hands down the best job I’ve ever had.

Q:  But you have a passion for writing?

sisJeremy: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I was always all over the map with how my creativity manifested, but I had “specialties” for different stages of my life — angsty poetry as a teen, songs as a young adult, and fiction as a mature adult. My interests in writing tend toward the fantastical, thanks in no small part to my Dad who raised me on a steady diet of Star Trek and Dragonlance. No, I didn’t get into the Hobbit until I was well and truly grown, and even then, it didn’t really appeal to me. I LIKE it, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t speak to me like other fantasies do. It’s quite like Grape Nuts cereal — hard to chew for an interesting yet unimpressive flavor and it settles thickly in your stomach. I guess that’s the price you pay for being the first in a field.

Q: And you published a book? Tell us about that and what you are working on now.

Jeremy: I self-published a book two years ago, called Gemworld. I’m currently working on the second book in the series, with plans for a third and a stand-alone based in the same world. I’m a movie and TV buff, and my tastes are all over the place — typically the weird stuff. This, I guess, leads me to my more current writing. I tend to write what interests me — sci-fi and fantasy, heavy on the fantasy. My first forays into fiction were fan-fictions based on games I’d played. From that I moved to a Quantum Leap story that I dearly love but have never finished. I’ve also got a Dark Tower fan-fic that I’m convinced is my best work. I do the occasional horror (not my thing) and sci-fi (love to read, hard to write), but mainly it’s all magic and dragons and damsels in distress.

Q: Jeremy thanks for sharing. Where can people find more about your book and find out more about or contact you?

Jeremy: I can be reached on Facebook, either on my personal page or on my book page. I’ve got a blog that I occasionally post on. You “might” reach me at my Amazon author page, but I highly doubt it. And I can be reached through email, though I gotta give you fair warning — my junk mail filter is KING!

I appreciate the writer group that we are both part of called Iron Sharpening Iron or ISI. They are a group of Everyday People who bounce ideas and hurts off each other as well as ask for prayer and advice. They are from all over the world and I have grown to love their posts and their journeys and their humor.

A little interesting side note, shortly after Jeremy and Ichi met at the coffee shop, I saw him again a few weeks later when I was at the veterinarian office for my cat. He came in to take care of some business with his pet. When we spotted each other, we smiled and greeted each other. With “we meet again” and “so soon”. One of those “it’s a small world” experiences because we both use the same animal doctor. As you can tell from this interview and pictures, Jeremy has quite a sense of humor and adventure.

You can find more about Jeremy through the links below and you can also visit the ISI group for more information about them as well.

 

Jeremy’s Book, Gemworld on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MJNSGW0

Jeremy’s Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/facetsofreality

Jeremy’s Blog – https://nashdude.wordpress.com

Jeremy’s Email – nashdude2011@gmail.com

Iron Sharpening Iron Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/417974044985457/?ref=bookmarks

BFF vs. SSF

Are BFFs practical?

You may have heard the idea that we all brighten a room, some by entering it and some by leaving it. You may also have heard the term BFF which is short-text speak for Best Friend Forever. As wonderful as it may sound, is anyone really someone’s friend forever? Okay, there is Jesus, but other than Jesus, can someone be your friend forever? Okay, my train of thought took another direction. Let me bring it back on track by giving you two examples of what I mean.

What is a SSF?

Have you ever had a friend who brightens your day any time you interact with them? You know the kind I mean, the one who brightens the room and your life when they enter it. I call them Sun Shine Friends or SFFs. These are the kind of people who are the most friendly and genuinely love others. We love being around them. When life looks gloomy, they say something or do something that brightens your day. I can think of two such people in my life, Connie and Cheryl. I don’t get to see either of them as much as I used to or like.

SSF Connie

Connie is a fellow church member. I don’t believe I have ever seen Connie when she wasn’t smiling. I think if I ever saw her sad or crying, it would just break my heart. She insists on giving me a hug whenever our paths chance to cross. Actually, if I don’t get a hug from her when we see each other, I feel that I have been cheated out of a blessing in my life and it is incomplete. It feels almost like the stars are out of alignment. It’s not one of those “Oh, I guess I better hug him” kind of hugs that equates to a dead fish handshake. Oh, no, it’s more like I love you and am so glad to see you kind of hugs. One you enjoy and will leave feeling good. It is always accompanied by a big smile. Like sunshine personified in her laugh and embrace.

SSF Cheryl

Cheryl was a coworker. Though she is a hugger, she is more of a doer. She loves to spread her sunshine by doing for people and by giving gifts that make you think about how much she loves and appreciates you. She came back to work for me a short time after she had left our company. Unfortunately, financially we could not keep her position the second time any more than the first. I had already started to refer to her as one of my SSFs and had explained to her what it meant. When she left the last time she decorated my office. On my wall she placed a “Faith Family Friends” plaque and she signed it. On my bookshelf she placed a stuff animal chicken that had a sign stating “Good morning, sunshine.” I had already started to ref20160909_163812er to her as one of my SSFs and had explained to her what it meant. She also left a wind chime hanging from a hook in the corner of my office. It had the usual little pipes that rattled and on top was a metallic sun. Where I work we have helicopters fly over on a regular basis and when they do the wind chime rattles ever so slightly. You have to know what it is when it rattles or you will miss it. It reminds me of Cheryl every time it does and I cannot help but smile. It has brought sunshine on some very down days. I say a little prayer, thanking God for my SSFs.

Who are your SSFs?

Let them know by saying so by sending them a text, email, or tagging them with this article if it reminds you of them. You can even let them know by giving them something with a sun on it, like a chicken, wind chime, or a card. I thank God He created Sun Shine Friends and He placed some of them in my life to spread that sunshine. After all they are more practical.

 

Meet Earnie Faulk: Entrepreneur & Seller of Snowballs

Several months back, my wife and I were in Sam’s Club stocking up on our monthly goods. We had passed several other folks with their buggies who were just shopping. You know the routine. Shopping at Sam’s Club isn’t exactly Date Night. Sometimes it’s just a necessary evil.

Except for this one guy who is I see coming down the aisle as if he is enjoying his club experience and life. I watched him as he came closer and his demeanor made me smile. He had a genuine skip in his step. When he got within range, my wife said hello. You know the range. It is the distance where the person is close enough to you to say something friendly, but not so close that you accidently spit on him; the safe distance. He responded with a friendly greeting and a happy smile. He stopped his buggy for a moment to talk. It was full of nachos, cheese, hotdog buns, and all the good stuff that you would find at a fair or good ole fashioned football concessions. I had to ask about his buggy full and he handed us his card. It was Earnie Faulk, owner of Earnie’ Snowballs. We converse a little longer and then he joyfully moved on. We moved on a little more joyfully too.

I gave Earnie one of my cards that day as well. Later we became Facebook friends. I had read several of his posts and found him to be very interesting. I messaged Earnie and asked for an interview.

Me: Hey, Earnie. We met in Sam’s Club and exchanged cards. I am a blogger and I have a category on my page called “Everyday People.” I started it because I meet so many interesting people with great stories. I like to introduce them to my friends. Would you be interested in an interview?

Earnie: No problem, T.J.

Me: So, Earnie tell us a little bit about you.

Earnie: I am 32, single, no kids. Born and raised in Dothan. I love to travel inside the United States and outside it. I really like mountain bike riding and trips near water. I am the owner of Earnie’s Snowballs on Ross Clark Circle. I started my business as a hobby because I have always wanted my own business. I knew that I was meant to create and not just consume.Earnie on the Rigs2

Me: I thought I had read in a post of yours that you once worked on oil rigs. Can you tell us about that?

Earnie: I worked offshore for 8 years. I traveled to towns like New Orleans, Texas, Mobile Al, Madrid Spain and Canary islands. I worked my way up to Rig Safety and Training Coordinator/ Offshore HSE Advisor.

Me: I bet you have some interesting stories.

Earnie: As far as interesting stories, I was born into farming and livestock, played high school football, became a college level Co-ed cheerleader, worked on a farm a little while, cook at a restaurant, cheerleading and gymnastics coach, Class A CDL driver, drove for Waste Management, and a former dental assistant.

Me: Ah, a kindred spirit. So, back to the Earnie’s Snowballs. How did you get started in that? You said you were born to create not just consume.

Earnie: I started the business 2 years ago. I got started by listening to the people whom I worked with who said I would be good at the Snowball business. I was also tired of the corporate world, traveling, and always being away from home. I was tired of partying and I wanted to settle down and build the foundations to start a family.

Me: Is Earnie’s Snowballs open all year round or do you work another job or have another passion?

Earnie: I am open all year except the end of December first of January. This is my passion and I am focused on it only as far as business at the moment. I will not work another job at the moment. Chili dog consumption should start becoming very popular soon.

Me: Ah, football season?Mobile Unit

Earnie: I think our mobile unit will be booked more due to football/party season.

Me: Do you cater?

Earnie: I have the ability to.

Me: So, tell us more about your mobile unit.

Earnie: I found my trailer on Craigslist. Sold some things to purchase it. It can be booked for just about any party type; kids or adults.

Me: Any advice for anyone who wants to own their own business?

Earnie: My advice would be to find a mentor. They are hard to come by. If they can’t find one buy books and mentoring programs.

Me: Tell us how people can find out more about you and Earnie’s Snowballs.

Earnie: People can find out more about me by adding me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They can even call me on my cell 334-685-5787.

Me: That is all awesome. Great stuff. Thanks for the conversation.Best Ice Treats 2016

You may think you have seen the yellow building for Earnie’s Snowballs, but just can’t quite place it. It is located on the Ross Clark Circle near 84 West. This year, 2016, Earnie’s Snowballs was voted the Dothan Eagle’s BEST of the Wiregrass for “Best Ice Treats.”

And as you may have surmised, Earnie serves more than just snowballs. Like I mentioned at the beginning, he serves all the good stuff you would find at any tailgate party or high school football game and more. Click one of the links below to find out more about Earnie’s Snowballs or to book his mobile unit for a kid or adult party. Earnie told me he has seen some folks take his snowballs and make “tipsy” snowballs. I’ll let Earnie tell you about that.

Earnie’s Snowballs on Twitter

Earnie’s Snowballs on Facebook

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