Friday, September 26, 2014

3 Things I Want My Dog to Know

Click here for "A New Year's Eve to Remember" by M.J. Butler

Did you ever wish that you could speak to your dog from the heart, and that he or she could understand exactly what you are saying? I’m not talking about giving your dog a command “speak” “sit” “stay”, I mean real comprehension of heartfelt words. If there were 3 different sentiments that I could convey to my beloved dog while she is still with us here on earth, these are the things I would want her to know:
1. That I was a better person because of her. In 2002 my oldest son (then 9 years old) wanted a dog. Specifically he wanted a “yellow dog” - like a Labrador. Since we had never had a dog before I was looking for something just a bit smaller. I stopped at my local ASPCA one Friday afternoon to take a peek. I left the shelter that day with the most gorgeous two year old blonde Cocker Spaniel that there ever was. When I picked up my son from school that afternoon, he got in the car and was instantly overtaken by an abundance of tail wagging and wet kisses. I do believe they were both equally excited to meet each other. It was my sister who suggested that we name our dog Honey because of the color of her hair. From that day forward Honey became a permanent part of our family.
There is nothing better than walking through the front door of our home, because when we do Honey greets us with so much excitement and undivided attention that one cannot help but smile. I have learned so much from my precious dog over the years, but most of all I learned to never take the ones we love for granted. To greet them with joy and interest and to let them know that they are appreciated. We are all so busy. How many times do we get home and rush past those we love – on to the next activity. Honey always reminds me to stop for a moment, take a second or two to give a quick hug and to say hello. When I walk through the door, Honey takes the time to let me know she missed me and she is glad that I am back home. I hope I always remember that slowing down for a moment of interest and enjoyment with those we hold dear is of the utmost importance in everyday life. Honey taught me this life lesson years ago and I believe I have been a better person because of it. For this I tell her thank you.
2. I wish she could know how often she has inspired me. Honey, being a dog, cannot speak a word. But she can express more enjoyment with a wag of her tail than most people can during a complete conversation. She also never misses the opportunity to take pleasure in her surroundings. She inspires me to take frequent walks, which makes me healthier. Sometimes when we are walking along in the great outdoors she will just stop, hold her head in the air and close her eyes. She takes in the moment with the sun on her face and the fresh breeze blowing through her hair. So when she does this I do the same - and it is blissful. Honey never misses an opportunity to absorb the sounds, smells, and sights around her. This is one dog who loves to frolic and play. She loves to chase just about anything that will run from her, and she really knows what it means to stop and smell the roses. So I learned from Honey to take a deep breath and feel the sun on my face. She inspires me to take a walk every single day and to behold the beauty of nature. Through Honey I have been taught to seize every opportunity that I can to play, run, skip, dance, or leap. There are chances to do these things every day, but often we do not choose to partake. I only have to watch my furry friend to figure this out, and by observing her I am inspired to live life with much more fervor than I might have without her.
3. I hope she knows every day of her life how much I love her. If I had ten seconds to speak to my dog and she could understand the meaning of each and every word I was saying, my wish would be that I could express how much I love her and how grateful I am for her. I am truly humbled in the presence of Honey’s unconditional love which has filled our household every day of every year since she became part of our family. This unconditional love is mutual and then some. I wish she could know this now more than ever because Honey is getting older. Much of her hair has turned gray and she is completely deaf. She sleeps a lot more than she used to and she moves slower than ever. This month Honey turns 14 years old and I am so thankful that we were granted the gift of getting to spend her entire life with us. A more faithful friend could not have been found if I searched this world over. The absolute adoration that she has for each of us could be matched by none other in my lifetime. She has devoted her life to us. She has protected us and served us. She has waited for us to come home without complaint and she has never once judged us; even in our weakest hour. If that isn’t a true friend then I don’t know what is.
I guess Honey started showing her age about five years ago; around the time my youngest son was born. A few years later when he was a toddler, I was watching the two of them play together and the sad thought occurred to me that Honey might not be with us to see him go off to Kindergarten. Well I am happy to say that we were blessed to have Honey present with us on the first day of school this year as we put our five year old on the bus and waved goodbye. We even snapped a couple of pictures with Honey at the bus stop alongside our son just as the school bus pulled up to the corner.
Afterward Honey walked back home with my husband and I. My hubby got ready for the day, kissed me goodbye and left for work. After he left the house, Honey sat and looked out the front door; waiting for those she loved to return as she often does. I sat down next to her in the front foyer that day and we shared a moment together. Every day is a gift with those we love – and our moments are to be cherished. Thank you Honey for being here with our family on our baby’s first day of Kindergarten. It would not have been the same without you. The first day of Kindergarten is a tough milestone for us moms. Thank you Honey because you knew I needed my best friend with me that morning. You sat patiently looking out the front door with me as I held you on my lap and tears ran down my face. Then you gently licked the tears from my cheeks as if to say, “Don’t worry mom, he’s gonna be fine; I’m here with you and I love you”.
Thank you beautiful girl for being such an important part of our family, for looking out for us, and for teaching us all about what is really important in life.
I love you Honey, my faithful friend, from the bottom of my heart. I pray that you really do know this and that you carry this with you forever. Because in the end love is all there ever will be. ~ Love always, M.J. Butler

Click here for "A New Year's Eve to Remember" by M.J. Butler

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sentimental Days

Sentimental days. We all have them. But as a parent there is just something about the first day of school that really brings it out of me. Why? What is it about this time of year? Well it’s an overwhelming amount of everything. There isn’t just one thing – it’s a whole bunch of stuff. Multiple dynamics going on here. And of course it’s change in general. The smell of a new school year is in the air and for me it is bittersweet. My oldest will be a junior in college this year. He’s doing great and I am so excited to watch him move forward, excel, and achieve all of his dreams. One thing is for sure, he is going to go very far in life. Twenty years ago when he was born, someone told me not to blink my eyes because they grow up so fast. I blinked and he started kindergarten, and then I blinked again and he was going off to high school, and I must have blinked again because the next thing I knew I was moving him into the dorms at the University. You get the picture. Sigh… These milestones are so awesome to stand back and watch as a parent but don’t they just rip your heart out too? My oldest son is the love of my life, always has been. Never in the history of the world has one child made a parent so incredibly proud. God bless that young man, may he have an awesome semester of college filled will new learning, success, and fun. My youngest (who is the apple of my eye) will head to preK-4 this year. He is so excited it is beyond description. From picking out his new backpack and lunchbox to meeting his teacher at orientation last week, he is energized and thrilled to the point of animation. I remember always being really excited for school too when I was little. Getting to see all my friends, the anticipation of a new year, new teacher, new books, new clothes, new everything. I remember it like it was yesterday. But alas it wasn’t yesterday, because it was yesterday that I was bringing my little one home from the hospital, wasn’t it? Fast forward four years and here I am today at this present moment. The train of time is moving at the speed of light these days it seems. In a couple of hours my husband and I are going to put our four year old on the school bus and wave at him and blow kisses until we can’t see him anymore. We’ll walk back home, do a few things around the house, and wait for the bus to return. I will be looking forward to it all day. I can’t wait to hear all about his first day of school. It’s going to be magical. I may have tears in my eyes at different times throughout this day but they’re deeply routed in love. Nothing compares to the love I have in my heart for my kids. They are both incredibly amazing and I would not trade my life or these days for anything in the world. I have everything I ever wanted ten-fold and I intend to enjoy every last second of it all (without blinking of course). Prayers, hugs, and best wishes for a safe and extraordinary school year, M.J. Butler

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Inspiring Dreams (Part 1)

What inspires people?  I have given some thought to inspiring other people here lately and have wondered just that.  Money?  Haha yes, of course, you usually cannot deny this.  But beyond money, I think that kind words can give someone the leg-up they need in life.  And in the words of John Cougar Mellencamp, “If you could get a leg up, you could get a leg over”. 
So what inspired me on this topic of inspiring others?  I have had multiple book signings these past two weekends and it amazes me how many interesting people I talk to at these events.  We are all so different, so diverse, and yet so much alike.  But that’s a blog for another day.  Most people are excited to meet me, get their picture taken with me, hear me talk about my book, or even tell me what they liked about it.  But what really has surprised me the most is the amount of people out there in the world with a book, story, or idea inside of them waiting to come out.  A lot of people approach me with “I always wanted to write….or to be an author….or to submit this manuscript I’ve written”.  To each and every one of these people I said “you should do it – what’s stopping you?”  Answers varied, “don’t have time” was very popular (I would then ask “why don’t you have time?”) usual answer, “well I work full-time, have kids, a spouse, etc”…(“guess what?” I would say, “I do too”)  “Really?”  “You bet!”  I work 40+ hours a week at my full time job as a nurse.  I have a house to maintain, a husband, a 19 yr old in college, a 3 year old, 2 dogs, 2 cats, an extended family, oodles of commitments, responsibilities, engagements,  lots of great close friends, a publisher (did I mention commitments), book signings (there is a ‘little bit’ of marketing time involved here, just a little, haha)….anyway, I think you get the point.  The folks on the other side of the table at the book signings soon understood that “not enough time” can be an excuse for 1 day, or maybe for 1 very busy week, but not for a lifetime.  It’s sort of like planning when to have children.  It’s never going to be the perfect time, but you go forward with it, do your best everyday, and well, enjoy every moment of it that you possibly can. 
The next reason people told me that they wanted to write, and had the desire, dream, and/or talent to be an author but didn’t do it was not knowing where to begin.  My advice on this is: you simply begin by writing.  Physically sitting down with you pen, paper and/or computer and start your story (your book, your novel, your poetry, your short  story, your memoirs – I love memoirs so much; that is definitely a blog for another day). But for now I say, just get started.  Write.
All in all, each person that approached me with questions about how to get started as a writer, I told them exactly the info they were asking me for about the writing process and the writing business, but more importantly, I told them to go forward and do it.  “Get started…It’s your dream…begin today…you can do this”.  It really is up to them now.  I believe in them, they just have to believe in themselves.  They all thanked me, left the book signing a little more inspired than when they walked in, and hopefully went home and started writing.  You see sometimes we just need to know that there is hope for our dreams and that someone else believes in us to give us the motivation to go forward and succeed.  Sometimes all you need in life is someone to give you a “leg up” in order to get a “leg over” that hurdle, doorway, or brick wall that has been in your way and holding you back.
What is your dream today?  I believe in you, and I am going to cheer you on.  Do not leave this world and allow your dream to die inside of you – get it out there.  Is there a book inside of you?  An idea?  An invention?  Sit down, work on it, bring it forth, take that first step and soon you will realize, “hey I’m doing it!” 
Imagine what would have happened if Margaret Mitchell had decided that she didn’t have enough time to write “Gone With the Wind”.  Or what if Mark Twain had decided that he just didn’t have the know-how to try and get his works published?   I can’t even think about it; it’s far too sad to think about.
Go forward with your dream, my friend, I believe in you and I know you can do it. 
All my love,


Monday, June 11, 2012


Anyone who knows me knows that I have a 19 year old who lives away at college where he studies pre-med.  Very early on in his pursuit to become an M.D., he realized that this was in no way going to be easy.  He and I talk on the phone regularly and I get to hear all about his day-to-day journey into the world of medicine.  As with any journey of accomplishment, some days are better than others.  So when he is in the midst of having one of those not so great days what do I do as his mother and greatest cheerleader?  I encourage him.  I know that he will be a great physician.  I know what it takes to achieve this and I know he has it in him.  There are just times when we all need to hear that we can do it.  Knowing that someone else believes in you often strengthens your belief in yourself.
Before I write on to illustrate my “case in point”, let me state the dictionary definition of encourage:  To give support to; To inspire with hope, courage, and confidence. 
I try to do all of the above when talking to my son, or anyone else who tells me about their hopes, dreams, and ambitions.  I absolutely love to encourage people.  After all, sometimes that is all a person needs to make something happen – the belief that they can do it.  I would hate to be on the other side of that coin, the person who does the opposite:  a discourager.  Let’s take a look at the definition of discourage: To hamper; To deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit.  Yuck!  That absolutely goes against every fiber of my being.

Remember now, I’m speaking specifically about how we react to another person’s dreams, ambitions, or calling in life.  Why would anyone want to let the air out of another person’s balloon?  Well we all know people like this don’t we? 
Personally I feel so good inside when I know I’ve encouraged someone in life.  In any way, shape, or form that I am able to do so I do it.  I mean it’s not as if there’s only a certain amount of success out there and it’ll be all used up if a lot of people achieve their goals.  There’s plenty for everyone, and then some!  Let’s all keep patting each other on the back with a smile and a confident word of hope.  Start by saying, “you can do this, I know you can”.  We will all get so much farther in life if we do.

Which brings me back to my case in point.  My son called me one day to tell me about a fellow pre-med student who was in tears over something that her Philosophy professor had said to her.  Long story short, he had cut her down in front of the class and basically had told her that perhaps not everyone in the pre-med program was cut out to be a doctor (meaning specifically her).  In other words give up girl – you’re never going to make it.  I was heartbroken to hear this.  It was first semester first year.  How does he know she doesn’t have what it takes? Why would anyone want to plant seeds of discouragement in someone else’s life?  I took it upon myself to reach out to this girl.  After all, someone had to undo the damage this man had done. 

I’ve been a nurse for over 20 years.  I’ve worked in ICU, PCU, post op open heart, case management, account management, and most recently catastrophic trauma case management.  Currently I’ve been with the same company for 14 years.  Along the way I’ve headed up committees, written articles for hospital medical journals, given public speeches, delivered educational seminars, received multiple awards, plaques, and various honors, but most importantly, I’ve helped thousands of people throughout my years as a nurse when they needed it most.  I’ve helped people recover, rehabilitate, and become whole again following illness or surgery.  I’ve sat beside countless bedsides as people left this world and I held their hand every step of the way because they had no one there with them.  I’ve stayed over after my shift had ended to lend support to family members as they made decisions about their loved ones that no one should have to make.  I’ve stood by doctors as they delivered the “I’m sorry” news to patients, and lent my support afterward.  And I’ve cried alongside a whole host of husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, and loved ones on their darkest days; my heart breaking in sympathy for the sorrow they were feeling.  So many lives I have touched, so many people I have helped when they needed it the most, and so many still to tome that I will be there for.  I am proud to say that the world of nursing and medicine has been a better place with me in it. 

So after hearing about my son’s fellow classmate, I reached out to this girl whose confidence had been injured.  She was very sweet, very impressionable, very naïve, but also extremely intelligent with high ambitions to become an oncologist (God bless her because it is such a special calling for folks that work in this field).  I told this girl of all of my years of work, achievements, honors, and awards from being a nurse.  Then I told her that when I was 17 years old, naïve, scared, and impressionable, and in my first semester of nursing school, one of my instructors said the exact same thing to me.  This girl couldn’t believe it!  Yes, it was true - one of the nursing instructors actually said to me that maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a nurse.  Guess what?  She was wrong. 

When I told my son’s classmate this, I noticed that her confidence shifted and so did her posture.  She stood upright and smiled as she agreed with me.  “Yes,” she said, “That nursing instructor was very wrong.”  I looked her straight in the eye and added, “and so is your philosophy instructor”.  She was beaming!  (Take that philosophy prof!).

So ignore the nay-sayers, focus on your goals, and above all please look for ways to encourage those who need it.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to change a person’s life for the better. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

NURSE: A Career To Be Proud Of

               It was the end of June, just three weeks after I had graduated from high school.  Most teenagers my age were out and about enjoying their summer vacations.  It was college time for me, however, and I was on my way to school – nursing school.  I was seventeen years old; scared, naïve, and overwhelmed with the amount of work I was faced with.  Not to mention that following a full day of classes, I made my way to my part-time job as a waitress at a local restaurant.  For me, the start of college was a huge transition time in my life; and a time which demanded a lot of discipline for a seventeen year old.

               Needless to say, this never-ending pace wore very thin by the third week.  When the instructors spoke about what projects lay ahead of us over the semester, I was still worried about learning the beginning aspects of my nursing courses and the overall concept of nursing.  What was being a nurse all about?  Not what I had thought it would be about.  After finishing my first week of nursing school in the clinical setting, I went home and cried.  I had had no idea what was expected of nurses at the hospital or on the job.  Nursing school was very intense, and to call myself overwhelmed was an understatement.

               I sat on the couch at my parent’s house and cried that day, and I announced that I would be quitting nursing school.  After about an hour’s worth of persuasion, my parents had me convinced to stick with it, and to at least “try” to understand as much of what was being thrown at me as possible.  I agreed to “try”, after all, it was Friday and I didn’t have to think about school again until Monday.

               “Try”.  I didn’t realize how much meaning this little word has, but I was still learning.

               It was Saturday night and the restaurant where I worked was packed.  There were no available tables and a lobby full of people waiting to be seated.  I was working as fast as I could when I heard a shrill voice exclaim over the roar of the crowded dining room, “She’s choking! Oh my God! She’s choking!”  I looked across the dining room and saw a woman who looked to be in her late fifties, staggering down the aisle between tables.  The palm of her hand was across her throat.  Her face was red, and her eyes looked horrified as she looked around frantically.  She couldn’t speak, but her bulging eyes seemed to plead for help from those around her.  The people around her froze and I instinctively sprang into action.  I felt like my feet were moving to that woman in a way that was beyond my control – as if a magnetic force was pulling me towards her.  I knew I had to help her.  But what could I do? Just a few weeks earlier I had taken my BLS course for nursing school, but I did not feel prepared for this.  I had performed the Heimlich Maneuver one time in my life – on a dummy, none the less!  I was so young and unsure of myself, yet my mind knew that I had to get over to her.  I had to “try”. 

               When I arrived where the woman was standing, a crowd had gathered.  The people were encircling her – but no one could do anything to help her.  “Please let me through…Please let me to her.  I think I can help…”

               I pressed through the crowd and stood in front of the choking woman, her face was bright red, her lips were blue, and there was absolutely no air exchange.  I came up behind her, put my arms around her to the middle of her upper abdomen and gave a thrust inward and upward.  Nothing happened.  “Oh no,” I thought, “I knew I didn’t know how to do this!” It’s not working...What am I going to do now?”  Try again, a voice spoke inside of my head, and I gave it another good thrust.  Then another, and another - and that one did it!  This lady who a few seconds earlier had been just minutes from choking to death, was breathing freely.  It was truly amazing!  The woman’s husband was hugging her and patting me on the shoulder with continuous “thank you’s” as big tears rolled down his cheeks.  We all felt the joy of this moment and I thanked God for giving me the will and courage, along with the skills and basic knowledge to at least “try” and help.

               It amazed me just then how much I cared for this woman – this stranger. I didn’t even know her name; all I cared about was helping her.  As the evening wore on, I felt as if this all had happened for a reason. That night I answered a calling – and I never looked back. From that day onward, I better understood the concept of nursing, and I never again doubted that I wanted to be a nurse. 

Being a nurse is a “gift” from God.  To be able to help mankind when they need it the most is truly a gift.  By working with our knowledge and trained skills and by delivering a service from the heart, every nurse makes a difference in the world every single day; and that is a career to be proud of. 

Click here to view "A New Year's Eve to Remember"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nicholas Sparks (saved my life)

I’m sure you must be wondering, how exactly did Nicholas Sparks save my life? Well, thanks to his novels, I quit smoking.  Yes, that’s right, years ago I smoked cigarettes. Very hard for a nurse to admit, but let me just add that when I became a nurse 21 years ago at least half of the nurses I worked with back then smoked.  I was a new nurse at the age of 19, and I easily picked up the habit which followed me into my early 30’s.  Around age 28, I began working as an account manager for a national healthcare company and boy did I want to kick the habit!  But, as many of you who are reading this will probably agree with, it’s not an easy habit to put down.  This particular job I was working at the time involved a lot of marketing and a lot of driving.  This meant that I had the freedom to smoke all day long while I was on the road for work.  As time went on, I knew I wanted to quit smoking, but one thing remained: what to do with myself while behind the wheel all day?  Somehow for me driving and smoking simply went together.  Then one day, I casually mentioned to my boss that I wanted to quit smoking.  She was about 15 years my senior and lucky for me she had already “been there, done that”.  I told her that I had zoned in on a product to help ease the physical cravings, but what was I going to do with myself while I was behind the wheel for hours on end!?!  There had to be something to take my mind off of cigarettes, but what?  My boss said simply:  Audio books.  That was when the light bulb went on.  So I picked a date to kick the habit and headed off to work, armed with my nicotine lozenges and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (on audio book).  Guess what?  It worked!  Before long, not only was I a non-smoker, but I had found a way to catch up on a lot of good reading while I drove around in my car for hours on end.  Fast forward to present day, and you’ll find me free from cigarettes and absolutely hooked on Nicholas Sparks novels.  Whether I’m reading them on my Kindle or listening to them on audio book while I power walk with my two year old son every evening, I just can’t get enough of them! 

Most readers of fiction novels love a good read which carries them away to another time or place.  My latest novel "A New Year's Eve to Remember" does exactly that.  Many of you I’m sure will enjoy this book, it’s a great quick read for a plane flight or a quiet afternoon – it will carry you away to a time full of beauty and romance. So don’t miss it! 

One day I hope to meet Nicholas Sparks.  I’d like to shake his hand and truly thank him for saving my life and for inspiring me to write novels which are full of nostalgia and romance.  For now I’ll thank him for saving my life right here on my blog, and I’ll ask him to keep doing what he does so well – keep those novels coming Mr. Sparks, we all adore you.

With Love and Gratitude,
M.J. Butler 

PS:  My baby boy’s name?  If you guessed Nicholas, you’re right!

Click here to view "A New Year's Eve to Remember" at

"A New Year's Eve to Remember"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I Love Ohio State

The Ohio State Buckeyes!!!!   Love them, love them, love them!!!

Let me just state right off the bat that I have never attended Ohio State University.
I also do not know anyone personally who attends Ohio State University.
I have never visited the campus.
And I am in no way affiliated with this school or the organization itself.
But I love the Ohio State Buckeyes. Have in fact for many years.

My father died unexpectedly several years ago.  He was from the state of Ohio and he loved the Buckeyes, even though he never had the opportunity to attend college.  It was his home state, therefore he was a fan with good reason.  As a kid growing up, we spent every Easter, summer vacation, and Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house in Ohio.  Those were picturesque times, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything in the world.  Growing up in our Ohio world with my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins is something I’ll always cherish.  I remember at the end of every trip, when we leave to go back to our home in Indiana, I would cry my eyes out. 

So now, present day, I am a writer.  I write mainly fiction novels, and it’s only natural that my latest book "A New Year's Eve to Remember" is set in – you guessed it, the state of Ohio!

I love Ohio State and the Buckeyes, yes in part due to my family’s Ohio heritage, but for the most part due to one single fact:  the FANS.  Ohio State has the largest number of fans of any other college team in the country.  This is an actual fact, brought forth by the New York Times in a study done and published in September of this year.  The number is staggering:  more than 3 million fans!  More than any other University in the country!!  Now that’s something to be proud of Buckeyes!! 

Why does this matter to me?  Well to me, fans equal loyalty, and loyalty is everything. To me as a writer, fans are held in the highest esteem. They are the foundation and the backbone of everything I write.  Loyalty goes hand-in-hand with faith and integrity.  Faithful followers induce champions.  Champions give rise to powerful legends and leaders.

So go Ohio State! Go Coach Meyer! And GO BUCKEYE NATION!!  Myself, along with over 3 million other people are rooting for you!! 

With love and loyalty,
M.J. Butler

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(Also available on iBooks for iPad)