Distinguished Alumni Award…

Tomorrow The Ghost and the Medium (Book 30 in the Haunting Danielle series) eBook hits the digital shelves—it’s also Lake Havasu High School’s graduation night. That’s where I graduated from high school, fifty years ago.

During tomorrow’s graduation ceremony they will be handing out the awards for this year’s recipients of LHHS Distinguished Alumni awards. There are two recipients this year, and I happen to be one of them.

This is the first time in over thirty years that I won’t be in Havasu during May. So, the speech I am supposed to give at tomorrow’s ceremony will have to be delivered by someone else. These days, I can’t travel without first arranging for someone to take care of my mother. At the moment, the only person I have to do that is my sister, who would have to fly up from California, and she is already doing that in July, so we can attend a family reunion for my husband’s side of the family. 

When deciding what photo to include with this post, I chose the photo that will be on the plaque for the award, along with one of my high school mementos—my letterman’s sweater. (Or is it letterperson????)

I attended Lake Havasu High School the first year it opened, when I was a sophomore. During my senior year I was a song leader aka pom. That was the year the London Bridge officially opened in Lake Havasu City. Our pom squad marched in the opening parade, which is why I have that patch on my sweater.

But what I was most involved in during high school was journalism. I was on the Knight Life (the school newspaper) staff for all three years, serving as Art Editor, and then Co-Editor during my senior year. It’s where my heart was—which explains the two pins from my membership in Quill and Scroll..

Yet looking back, I probably won’t be remembered by classmates as a pom or journalism geek. I suspect I will be remembered as the girl who drove a boat to school.

Since I can’t be there to deliver the speech personally, I thought I’d go ahead and post it here:

To the 2022 Graduating Class of Lake Havasu High School, the staff, students, fellow alumni, family, and friends here tonight…

This is probably the first time in the last thirty plus years that I haven’t been in Havasu during the month of May. Please do not interpret my absence as a sign I take this award lightly. I am both humbled and honored to be one of this year’s recipients of the Lake Havasu High School’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Thank you to the Alumni Selection Committee for this recognition.

Lake Havasu High School holds a special place in my heart. I was a member of its first sophomore class, and its third graduating class, in 1972.

To the graduating class of 2022, you are all standing where I was—fifty years ago. What advice might I pass on after a half century after high school graduation?

First, never let another person’s success make you feel like a failure. In fact, it should be just the opposite. See it as inspiration and validation of what is possible. And when you have a failure, learn from it. As an author, I see my failures as story fodder. For me, I often weave those back into a plot for one of my books. Even if you are not an author, your failures are valuable experiences. Spend them wisely to build a better future for yourself.

Whatever your dreams are in this moment, don’t be discouraged if you don’t obtain them in your designated timeframe. Life often gets in the way of what we have planned. Looking back over these last fifty years, I see my own life has taken numerous unexpected turns, sending me off course and down roads I had never anticipated traveling. 

Before I entered Lake Havasu High School in 1969, I knew what I wanted to be—an author. In fact, I had already written my first book. And while writing was always part of my life, it was forty years after high school graduation that I became a full-time author, and six years after that when I became a USA Today Bestselling Author.

It doesn’t matter how long you take to obtain your dream, what truly matters is that you enjoy your life along the way and keep mindful of what is most important—family and friends—and taking care of your health. That’s something many of us learn too late.

While it might sound like forty years is a long time to reach my dream—the sad part—those forty years went very fast. Too fast.

I imagine you would like this speech to go fast too, so I will leave you with my last suggestion. Whatever you choose to do in life, it is more fulfilling to enrich or bring something positive into another person’s life, as opposed to bringing them sadness or tears. I suspect the only career one should feel good about making another person cry is mine.

Congratulations to the 2022 Graduating class of Lake Havasu High School. Enjoy your next adventure and treat yourself with kindness, patience, and respect.