Book, Death, Interfaith, Life, Writing

Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life

Last year, my brother, sister-in-law, and husband celebrated Mom’s 78th birthday without her.

In years past, whenever we dined out for Mom’s birthday, my brother and I knew the drill: restaurants were chosen according to their desserts, not their entrees. Our mother never ate according to anyone’s food pyramid; she lived by the mantra: “Life is uncertain–eat dessert first!”

We remembered her just as she would have wished: on the waterfront at sunset, with a giant slice of key-lime pie. And so it is with sweet delight that, today–on what would be Mom’s 79th birthday–I’m sharing the cover and release date of my fourth book:

Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life, will be released from Chalice Press in September 2019.

Our Mom taught us that when we begin with the end in mind, life becomes precious and pleasing—like dessert first!—not merely something we’re muddling through.

Celebrate the gift of her life lessons. Enjoy your favorite dessert first.

Pre-order Dessert First now and receive 20 percent off!

Pre-order Dessert First now and receive 20 percent off!

Spirituality, Writing


Nearly eight years ago, I quit my full-time desk job at Duke University to become a writer. I patched together freelance writing and teaching gigs until I published Saffron Cross in fall 2013.

How did I do it? Patience, perseverance, and many cheerleaders who kept me going along the way.

Dana, 12, selected for the UNCG Young Writers Program.
I’ve known that I wanted to be a writer since I could hold a pencil.

Since then, I’ve released two additional books (number four is coming September 2019), and am now a professor of Humanities for North Carolina’s largest community college.

I’m honored to share my story from secretary to author on Writing For Your Life. Read on …

What’s been your biggest life transition? How did you overcome obstacles along the way?

Meditation, Sabbath, Sabbath Community, Sabbath Rest, Sabbath Worship

The Science of Sabbath: How Rest Helps Us Live Well in a Non-Stop World

I recently spoke with Emily McFarlen Miller, Religion News Service reporter about sabbath.

It had been a hectic Friday. By the time she and I chatted late afternoon, I’d already taught a 6:00 a.m. YMCA Barre class, two college courses, attended meetings, and prepped to lead a bi-monthly scripture study group.

I apologized to Emily for my mushy brain and verbose answers. She was gracious. When we hung up, I realized I needed a dose of my own medicine. We’d both accomplished our goals: Emily put together an informative RNS piece on the scientific benefits of rest, and I got nudge to remember to practice what I preach.

Enjoy and share Emily’s piece. The ask yourself: How might I embrace the science and benefits of sabbath this week? Share your intentions @jdanatrent.

Enjoy, read, and share.