Sandra Bornstein: May This Be The Best Year Of Your Life

Sandra Bornstein in Munnar, India during her one-year sojourn

Sandra Bornstein in Munnar, India during her one-year sojourn

As part of launching The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle, I am inviting writing guests from around the world to appear on my blog. Today, I am happy to share my interview with Sandra Bornstein. An educator with four sons, Sandra was living her version of the American dream in Colorado–until her husband took a job overseas that required extensive travel and Sandra ended up living by herself and teaching at a boarding school in Bangalore, India.In her memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your LifeSandra shares what she has learned about perseverance, travel, education, faith, and family. Here is her interview:

Diana: My blog is about living–and writing–your best chapter each day. What do you do every day to make it part of your best chapter?


Sandra: Every morning, I take time to plan my day and create a list of must dos. I designate chunks of time that I will devote to social media, correspondence, my blog, marketing my book, my personal time, preparing meals, reading, and exercising. Without a plan, I would falter. The structure of my day allows me to set goals. Sometimes I achieve my goals while other times I fall short. Remaining motivated is essential. However, the best part of each day is spent outdoors. Being able to enjoy the majesty of the Colorado Rockies cannot be discounted.

Diana: Your memoir, May This Be The Best Year of Your Life, describes your year in India. How do you think the year abroad changed you?

Sandra: Stepping out of my comfort zone had a profound effect on me. For so many years, I had taken for granted many aspects of my daily life. I never thought about what it would be like to live without predictable electricity or a clean water supply. Having lived in an environment where these basic necessities were in limited supply, I gained a new appreciation for the quality of life that is part of living in America.

I was astounded by the masses that lived in squalor. Far too many children did not attend school. They simply played in the dirt or were seen selling items in the middle of the street. I heard from American volunteers that many of the public schools were poorly staffed and teacher absenteeism was deplorable. Without an education, there is no hope of upward mobility.

I wish that more could be done to improve the education system in India and in other Third World countries.

Diana: Can you share a few insights you learned about publishing your book?

Sandra: When I started writing my book, I had a limited understanding of my publishing options. I read about the pros and cons of traditional publishing and explored different alternatives. I decided that I wanted to maintain as much control over the process as possible. The best way to accomplish this was by self-publishing.

However, I knew that it was vital to maintain the quality so that my book would favorably compare head-to-head with a traditionally published book. To avoid the number one complaint of being poorly written and formatted, I hired a team of professionals to edit and format my book. Traditionally published books go through multiple rounds of editing. I was going to mimic this process. But I was able to choose whether I wanted to make all or some of the changes.

The formatting process was tedious. I read about some of the basics and looked through many of my own books so that I could determine how I wanted my book formatted.  Until I received a hard copy of my book, I could not see any issues. I had to be patient with the process. I rejected several versions until I felt it was right.

Additionally, I realized that my book cover could possibly turn on, or turn off, a potential reader. Thus, I sent my cover design to numerous people before I accepted the final version.

Diana: I know you had to adapt to an unfamiliar environment in India; how has it been to return? What traditions or experiences do you now use from India in your life back in Colorado?

Sandra: I have been back in the US for two years. I was delighted to be able to sleep in my own bed and live in my house once again. I appreciated simple things like a vacuum cleaner, an oven, and my kitchen appliances. After not being able to cook and bake, I was thrilled to be able to make my own food.

I would have enjoyed the opportunity to learn how to cook Indian dishes. Since I lived in a guestroom without a kitchen, I never had the opportunity to experiment or explore how to make different food items. I was always curious about ingredients because many of things that I tasted had flavors that I could not distinguish. Perhaps one day, my daughter-in-law, Rachael, will share some of her favorite recipes with me.

Thank you, Sandra!

Thought for the day: May this be the best year of your life. (And you can do that by making this day and this moment the best it can be.)

Looking to get a free copy of Sandra’s book? Enter the Giveaway Contest at Goodreads here (until Feb. 27). You can find photos of India and more information about Sandra and her writing on her website here.

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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3 Responses to Sandra Bornstein: May This Be The Best Year Of Your Life

  1. Hi Diana, I enjoyed the interview. And Sandra, I was glad to hear you didn’t comprise when self-publishing your book. All the best. 🙂

  2. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Great interview! Sandra I love your professional approach to self publishing. You definitely didn’t cut a single corner there. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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