Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Thirteen – Thirteen Things about When Life Throws You Lemons…Make Cranberry Juice

1. The title, When Life Throws You Lemons…Make Cranberry Juice! came about from someone saying to me “When life throws you lemons, make lemonade” after suffering severe brain surgery complications.

2. My philosophy is to accept positive things in life (cranberries) in spite of, not because of life’s negative things (lemons).

3. I had a brain tumor removed in 2006, which was supposed to be “routine, simple, with no lasting effects.” A complication ensued, keeping me in the hospital for many months and leaving me with some life-long challenges. Through it all, my mind was clear, and I remembered everything. People, including close friends, did not know how to act around me or what to say when my world imploded. I wrote a book about my experiences with doctors, nurses, therapists, friends, and family. While my story certainly can come off as tragic, flashes of my wicked sense of humor lighten the tone of the book.

4. Nemo, of Finding Nemo fame, is mentioned three times.

5. The story I tell in the book about meeting NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young still makes me smile.

6. There is a quote at the beginning of each chapter. My daughter’s quote, “Most parents say they would die for their kids. My mom loves me enough to live.” always makes me cry!

7. I am a marine biologist and I served as the naturalist on an Alaskan cruise.

8. I had to learn to walk, talk, breathe, and eat again after my surgery. People still think I’m drunk all the time!

9. When I couldn’t eat, I loved smelling chocolate! Chocolate frosting was my favorite.

10. My kids, Abby and Andy, are my biggest cheerleaders, most protective allies, and harshest critics!

11. We got great floor seats at a concert after asking for handicapped seating. I refer to this type of benefit as a “cranberry,” NOT “lemonade.”

12. I hope my story inspires others to work hard to achieve their goals.

13. My book’s Facebook page:

Visit Shari's tour page with Pump Up Your Book;

About Shari Bookstaff

Shari Bookstaff grew up in Milwaukee, WI, dreaming of becoming a marine biologist. She made it to California and is currently a biology professor, teaching at a community college near San Francisco. While her specialty is marine mammals, she recently expanded her course offerings to include a class on the human brain. Inspired by her own medical trials, Shari continues to merge her personal and professional interests.

Shari lives with her two children (and two dogs) in a small town just south of San Francisco, near the ocean. While her disabilities make life harder, she is determined to continue walking on the beach, attending concerts, and cheering at football games.

You can find more about Shari and When Life Throws You Lemons…Make Cranberry Juice on her website at

Book Excerpt

I have learned that life’s lemons were raining down on me, whacking me in the face; whereas life’s cranberries were so small I could walk on them, squish them like a mosquito, and not notice them. Lemons included sickness, death, and dwindling finances; while cranberries were as simple as a smile, eye contact, or a pat on the back. Some of my cranberries snuck up on me and surprised me.

I went to a Monday Night Football game, hosted by the Houston Texans, with my family just after Thanksgiving, 2008. As Matt’s guests, we parked and entered the stadium through areas designated for players’ families. Once inside, we had a long walk to our seats, so an employee brought me a wheelchair. When I finally got to my seat, I stayed put the entire game.

After the game, the wheelchair guy came back and took me to the player’s post-game reception. We met up with Matt at the reception, but before he got comfortable, Abby asked him if we could go on the field. Abby and Andy had never been on a football field, and they had wanted to go on one for years. We walked out onto the field and it was awesome. We looked at the spot where Matt had tried to throw a touchdown pass, and the spot where the ball was kicked for field goals.

Then, my sister Stephanie asked me if Steve Young was an announcer for Monday night games.
I said, “He might be. Why?”

She said, “I think he’s right over there.”

He was. Steve Young was on the other side of the field, conducting post-game interviews.
“Wow!” I thought. “Another chance to meet my biggest celebrity crush?”

I hobbled across the field, towards the bright television lights, moving faster than I had moved in two and a half years. He was busy working, so I was not able to say hello to him again, but feeling that rush of adrenaline that made me nearly run across the football field worked more magic than a week’s worth of prozac! Part of me was still a woman. Part of me could still get goose bumps over a man. Part of me was still ambitious enough to chase down Steve Young. Part of me was still alive.

Shari Bookstaff’s WHEN LIFE THROWS YOU LEMONS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ‘10 will officially begin on October 4 and end on December 17. If you would like to participate in this tour, please contact Tracee Gleichner at tgleichner(at)live(dot)com. Thank you!

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