I’m thrilled to welcome author Lori Spangler. Today, Lori shares her amazing journey and her memoir, Miles of Memories.
I did not grow up planning to be an author. I was in my 50’s when I decided to write a book. Throughout my life, I set goals, meet them, and then move on to the next. About 20 years ago when I finished graduate school, I was ready for another challenge and decided to visit all 50 states.
What a beautiful country we have, filled with talented, friendly people. I finished my 50th state, Hawaii, on my 53rd birthday. A few weeks later my friend Shelley and I were out to lunch and she said, “Now you are going to write a book.” She said it as a statement, not a question. So I set another goal.
Off and on over 5 years I worked on my book and remembered my travels. It would have been much easier if I had kept a journal but thanks to a good memory, souvenirs and travel brochures I had kept, I was able to write about my experiences. There were a lot of decisions. Should my book be organized alphabetically by state? Or in the order I traveled them? Did I need to include maps? How do I include my humor?
As most writers know, the writing process is not always an easy road. I had my ups and downs. During my writing process, Shelley sent me the postcard I had sent her when I was in Hawaii. It provided motivation for me to finish AND included it in my book: “Shelley, I have not officially visited all 50 states!! In Hawaii for my birthday—53 was never this good! Love, Lori.”
Someone told me to be sure you are proud of a book that has your name on the front. I am proud of my book and am glad others are enjoying reading it.
Several years before I turned eighteen, the voting age changed from 21 to 18. After a lot of debate at my high school, the policy for absence notes changed. Once a student turned 18 she could write her own excuse for being absent from school. Since I turned 18 at beginning of the school year, I was one of the lucky few. I felt grown-up to not need a parent’s signature. Since I never cut classes, and had to be seriously ill for my parents to allow me stay home from school, there was little chance I would abuse my excuse-writing responsibilities.
I wrote my first absence note because I planned to miss school for a college visit. I wanted to go to a college that offered a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement. As a freshman, for a social studies assignment I wrote a paper about a career that interested me. All the other girls wrote about being a nurse, secretary or teacher, except one girl who wrote about being a dog groomer. I wanted to do something different, so I decided on a policewoman. My paper focused on a career in law enforcement, and being a detective on a police force. In essence I probably wanted to be Nancy Drew and solve mysteries, but get paid for it.
My goal of being in law enforcement stayed with me as I shopped for a college. I looked for schools with degrees in Criminal Justice. The University of North Dakota (UND) in Fargo offered this curriculum. Fargo is across the border from Moorhead, a city in northwestern Minnesota.
I arranged with Mom and Dad to miss two days of school, take the Greyhound bus to Moorhead, stay overnight with my sister in her dorm room at Moorhead State University, tour UND, and later get a ride home with her.
When I wrote the absence note, I gave it to the school secretary the day before I planned to be gone. Classes ended at 3:32 p.m. each day, but about 3:20 the principal came to my classroom and asked to speak to me. It was a big deal to get called out of class by the principal. The other kids said “Oh. Oh. What did Lori do now?” and “Busted!” as I walked out of the room. The principal asked me about my note, wanted to ensure my parents knew about my trip, confirmed I had notified my teachers, and that I was considering UND. Yes, yes and yes.
During high school I tried not to have much contact with the principal because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, but he inadvertently became a part of my senior goal. I don’t know how or why, but I decided I wanted to pull a fire alarm. Early in the school year I told my goal to the principal, and asked if I could pull it sometime when we had a practice drill. I mentioned it to him once. By the last week of school, since nothing happened, I assumed he had forgotten about it, but I was happily wrong. With two days of school left, he pulled me out of class. And like earlier in the year, everyone in the classroom said, “Oh. Oh. What did Lori do now?” and “Busted!” But this time he walked me to the other side of the school, without talking. I thought I was in trouble too, until he stopped outside his office and pointed to the red fire alarm. I got to pull the lever setting off the alarm. What a feeling of power to make such a loud noise and be able to stop it again. It felt great to meet a goal. Mission accomplished.
Lori Spangler is a native Minnesotan with a zest for living. Kids and dogs appreciate her infectious laugh, witty sense of humor, and positive outlook. When not indulging in her passion for travel, Lori can be found reading, eating ice cream, or teaching others the finer points of public speaking. She lives in Minnesota with her plants.
Where to find Lori…