CHEERS TO THE HOLDAYS

images_271This is the most fun-time of the year. Family members snooping in closets, under beds, and anywhere they can remember, from last year, where presents were hid. And yes, the trips to stores to drop gifts, unwrapped, off at the places for families who need gifts. This is the important part of the holiday season…sharing. Giving rather than receiving.
I remember years ago, my parents driving me and a backseat full of gifts to parts of town I did not know existed. When we stopped in front of homes, some of them did not have lights, but candles. I thought this was neat, until my mom told me the truth about their candles. Even today, I have problems with lighting candles, except at church.
Still we all know there are discrepancies in the lives of people we know and people we do not know. It becomes our cheer to give to those whose lives are not as fortunate
as ours.

One family we encountered had two little boys….all I could think of was balls, toys, warm clothes, until the oldest kept looking around and shaking his head. When I asked if he was okay, he nodded and turned to go still looking around. “Did you loose something?” I asked. The answer came back in a whisper…”No, guess Santa never heard me.”

“What did you want from Santa?”

“A new coat for my mom, and a puppy for my brother.”

My heart dropped down to my knees. He wanted for his mom and his brother but nothing for him. “Maybe, Santa had his sleigh full and couldn’t get these inside. If he doesn’t come back tonight, we will search for him tomorrow.”

“Really, you’d help me?”

My dad turned his head around and surprised me….”Of course, but you need to keep this a secret.”

The little boy’s eyes widened as he shook his head up and down.

“If we can find Santa tonight, we’ll be back; but if we have to wait until Christmas Day, we may be a little late.”

“Okay.”

No other response. This little boy believed both of us.

“Dad, what are we going to do?”

“Everything except the puppy. They can’t feed their own family, and certainly not a dog. But, you, my daughter, will take him to the Animal Shelter and let him play with all the dogs he and his brother can handle.  AND…This will be once a month for the next year.”

I noticed the change in my Dad’s voice and I knew what he meant. A promise is your word to another person and it cannot be broken.

The next day, we drove by their house. The candles were all lit, singing came through the cracks in the doors and windows. It was a happy sound, and next to me was a huge hairy dog. We opened up car doors and started toward the house. The singing stopped, and the family members met us on the rickety front porch.

“We found Santa,” my dad hollered, but he only had a few things left. “A new coat for mom, a new flannel shirt for dad, clothes for both of you boys, and a new part-time pet. Meet, “Big Boy.” We will bring him by every so often and my daughter will take you with her to help at the animal shelter. Santa smiled as he got his sleigh off toward the North Pole.

“Merry Christmas to all who believe.”

LISTENING

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This is a skill a lot of us still have to study. How many times do you hear one thing and reply before the speaker is finished? It goes back to learning the basics of being a good conversationalist. Listen. Listen. Listen.
As writers, we will sometimes be asked to read and talk about different writer’s article, manuscript, short story, or poem. This is what we do when we critique. You must be fair, clear, concise, and think before you speak. These words came from the heart and though we might not agree, a gentle answer will help more than the writer. It will also help you, as another writer and reader. Be friendly and look for the good things the writer has to say.
Friends have all kinds of problems. We have friends, who are bubbly all the time, and then those who can only talk about negative feelings. We are not all alike and we have to keep an open mind. Be authentic when talking with different people. We all have problems, but we do not need to share them with everyone. Sometimes, negative feelings and talk bring our spirits down. This is when listening can benefit the person and where you need to stop and think before you speak. Try to be affirmative and not criticize.
Be respectful of another person’s point of view and keep an open mind. It is the various friends who enter our lives that make everything interesting. If you are listening, face to face, look at the person and not around the room. This signals full attention on the other person and lets them see your compassion. If you are on the phone, keep your voice soft and gentle. This shows you are listening.
During our lives, we will run into many different types of communication. All we can do is listen, show respect for the other person, and keep our minds open. I remember a statement from eons ago…We have only one mouth to talk, but we do have two ears to hear.  LISTEN…LISTEN…LISTEN…THEN SPEAK.

LAUGH A LOT

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 Laughter cures. Problems are more manageable when you have a smile on your face. This makes things look smaller and when problems shrink, life looks a little better. A smile on your face also makes others wonder what you have been doing, or what you are planning. Stop for a few seconds and look around you. This could be at your friends, co-workers, family members or strangers. How many of these people you see are smiling? Everyone has so much stress in their lives, they have forgotten how to smile. No, not the little attempt, but a big lip-smackin smile that covers all of the face, eyes included.
Then you have to be able to laugh at yourself. When this happens, other people will either join in or shake their heads at your behavior. Laughter has a way of helping other people see a different side of life. Even babies enjoy watching laughter and soon are able to do this on their own. They learn their own voice, the wave of their hands, and the happy face of their mother, father, brother, sister, and even the dog. Soon, the baby learns of the noise that comes from their mouths and the fun begins. Giggles are another sound that a baby learns and practices quite often.
As we grow older, we forget about a lot of the practice we’ve had and all of a sudden — no laughter. We become dull, uninterested in a lot of life, and wonder what has happened.  WE FORGOT TO LAUGH. What’s wrong with laughing at every thing we can. It is a healthy attitude that gives us a full life and we are lucky .
Have you ever noticed a pet respond to laughter? They do, just as other people respond to our positive attitudes. You have a new pet and it listens to your speech and mannerisms. Oh, yes they do. When you are happy and smiling, your pet feels the warmth and gives back in their own way. They are attentive and become attached to the routine you established with them. They are some of our best friends.
Still, there is another area of life that needs smiles, laughter and hugs. How about our grandparents, aunts, uncles, or the older generation of our families or friends. Loneliness becomes the better part of their lives and  we can brighten their days with a smile and laughter about ‘the old times.’ When there is laughter, there is no age limit and one size fits all. Do yourselves a big favor and Laugh. Laugh A LOT. Laugh at everything. It’s free, non-fattening, great stomach exercise, increases the lung capacity and makes everyone feel better.
Happy You. Happy Laughing. Happy Times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Is Your Creativity?

Do you ever feel like you are in a big dark hole and struggle to find your creativity? Hey, don’t sweat it, because we all have gotten lost in this intense struggle. Instead of digging yourself deeper into the hole, get yourself on the outside and try something new. Seeing things from a different viewpoint shakes up the brain. What about using the brain for push-ups of your mind. Forget the errors, the typos, which will be caught at revision times. Notice I made that plural and just write. Yep, it may come out as ‘crap,’ but even that can be turned into useful material. Your mind is working and nothing should stop the flow.
Okay, you learned about a friend getting  an agent, and you are still struggling to find one. Wish the friend the best and close your mind to all of your self-intended jabs. What you need is to block out the noise or the chatter of social media and hold onto what means the most to you. You matter the most and the creativity is what you want to give to your readers. You cannot create and not write.
Look at your writing as an escape from the everyday world and play with all the ideas that swim in your mind. These ideas could take you away from your story at the moment. Don’t rush the ideas away, rather play with them for a while. That funky little gift shop might be just the place to visit. No, I don’t mean walk through, but meander and look at all the creative ideas non-writers have made. As you leave, your mind is running in circles and you have thought about one of the items and a story you could give it to make the scene come alive. You’ve sparked your creativity.
Your creativity is a gift and is yours to use daily, not just when you think you need it. Creativity is a relationship with yourself and the world you want to share this with. Let your imagination run wild. Do not try to reign this in, rather give it more new things to see, to do, and a lot of extra rope to turn many corners and you never know what you might pull back inside.
Now for some personal news—August 4, 2016 was my last day as a Silver Sneakers® Certified Instructor. I retired.Hard decision, but a necessary one. Our class had been together for eight years, regular members, new members, but eight years and lots of life changes.  If I remember how to download, here are a few pics of the last day.
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Look at all the smiling faces. I’m honored.

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Thanks for everything and the flowers are great.

 

A DIGITAL VACATION

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I can hear your voices raised to the highest pitch. I can also picture your fingers twitch as they cannot touch the keys. Nerves bring your blood pressure to the boiling point. Your throat is tight, dry, and even the glass of cold water sitting next to you goes warm.

I CANNOT DO THIS.  YES, YOU CAN. THIS IS YOUR BREAK AWAY FROM ALL OF IT.

You are on your digital vacation. Enjoy yourself, but you don’t know how. This is the biggest reason for getting up, shutting down the machine, turning off the printer, and darken the light above your desk. You are on a sobriety binge-I AM A COMPUTER-AHOLIC. Now, repeat this small statement over and over and over whenever necessary. Why? We become addicted to our instant gratification of fingers and the keyboard, instant answers to our e-mails, instant….instant….instant.
Can you imagine what it was like for our Ancestors? Mail delivery or just neighborly information received when the horse and rider passed through. We did not realize that just beyond the sky, where the sun sets and the other side with the moon filling up the sky, were newer inventions. We accepted what we received and gave thanks for the information. Then, we were told there were more ways to get the news faster, and the roller-coaster picked up speed.
We forgot how to watch the stars, see how the moon became the night focal point, or faded as the huge ball of yellow lighted up the sky and gave us warmth. These special seasons that help us grow crops to feed families, and the farm animals. Then, with the advance of technology, we proceeded to make everything happen NOW. After years of newer inventions we want MORE and MORE, FASTER and FASTER.
Some days are for breaks. A break where you can walk away from your computer without guilt. We all need a computer vacation and RELAX. How can I relax if I am not working on my computer?  OOPS! This is the answer to why you need a break.
We write and write every day. If I don’t write, I won’t get paid. But have you ever felt that some days are not for writing. Some days are for thinking about writing and what will come next. Some days are for planning ahead for your future. Some days are for just doing nothing. Nothing in the sense of getting in touch with yourself and your soul. Some days are for dreaming about the next writing venture and some days are for meeting friends for breakfast or lunch and laughing, talking sharing and keeping in touch with others. You may have to remember how to do all of this, but you need this as much as you need your vacation from technology.
                   RENEW YOUR SPIRIT.  RENEW FRIENDSHIPS.
                             HAPPY COMPUTER VACATION.

 

Healthy Distractions

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You walk by your desk, stare at the computer and close your eyes. Even the thought of writing is uninviting. You need more words filling the manuscript and all you have is a blank mind. Empty today, so you walk away. Even your shoulders are heavy as the muse lays more guilt on each one.
Distraction is what you need, BUT it has to be a healthy distraction. Not just a passing idea that lasts a few minutes, but one to jump-start your creative endeavors. You feel shame and clench your fingers. It makes a writer feel unworthy of their words as peers will be disappointed in them.
Hey, wake up and think of something that interests you. Yes, YOU. Now is the time to revisit areas in your memory and pull yourselves up out of the quicksand. Writing is a solitary endeavor and you need a little social life.This will give you a boost forward. Ladies, remember the lunches with friends and guys remember the runs with your friends. These bring back memories of good times before writing took over your lives. Taking time for a social life will improve your writing.
How long has it been since you dug in the dirt? Gardening can grow flower, vegetables as well as your thoughts. This is a ‘healthy’ distraction. Ladies, what about knitting or crocheting like you did eons ago. Or, maybe you dabbled in the paints. Try again. Guys, remember how you used to ‘tinker’ with the car, lawn mower or fix the drip inside the home? When a writer turns to other matters, the pride in their work is returned in abundance. This is what our writing should do for us.
This reminded me of the ‘Adult Coloring Book’. No one is looking over our shoulders to check for coloring outside the line. It is fun and frees the mind at the same time.
Healthy distractions open up thoughts and bursts your energy. These keep your mind alert and excited. When they are release you will find your characters respond to the new freedom.
Watch Out…Healthy Distractions turned loose can invigorate each scene, each page and you will have happy characters and your writing will flow. You will never look at your desk and computer with despair, but elation at the ideas abounding in your head.

HAPPY WRITING. HAPPY HEALTHY DISTRACTIONS. HAPPY CHARACTERS.

 

 

 

SPRING FLING

Okay, I’m a little behind in posting the pics of our SilverSneakers® Spring Fling at the 57th FIGHTERS PATIO.  We had to wait until May 3, 2016 to enjoy our Spring Social due to the liquid sunshine that never seemed to stop.
We celebrated birthdays, and I won’t go into the years, but I will say congratulations to a couple on their 53rd WEDDING ANNIVERSARY at our Spring Fling. And a 63rd WEDDING ANNIVERSARY to a couple who could not be there.
Here are some of the pictures and thanks to all the wonderful smiles.
Sorry if I missed some of you, but will keep adding as we go along.

YOU ARE A GREAT GROUP. And, we will have a chance to celebrate again at the same place only for the Fall Festival.

 

 

 

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Treasures. Where?

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If you hunt for treasures, you know they come in different places. Some of the best are the neighborhood garage sales or yard sales. You drive by and something grabs your attention. The next thing you know, you’ve parked and meandered up the driveway. Maybe this diversion will unblock the sticking point in your story.

As you look around, you see the same things from other garage sales:  clothes, dishes, ornaments, and tables filled with gadgets. Still, something nags at your mind and you continue walking around. Nothing. Then as you start to leave, in a small trash basket is a photo album. For some reason, this makes a special call to your heart and mind. You look at the sticker, 25 cents, and you pay the cashier as you walk out. There is a tingling in your hand as you carry this purchase out to your car. What is in here? You cannot wait to drive home, but sit in the car and open this album. Heartbeats are rapid as you look and see pictures and more pictures from years ago of a family. Your mind registers and you think…stories and more stories.

You hurry home, park, run inside and know you have found many treasures in this old album. But there is a problem…no names, no dates, no hand written information. As you continue through the photos, they are not the same people. Now, you are confused, but excited. You look at faces, landscapes, clothes, and know these are not all from a certain era. The excitement continues as you make notes and search the internet. Nothing comes up that will solve your questions, and you do different searches. Nothing.

You hear a whisper and your muse tells you a secret. “Here is your chance to make these people come alive again. Study each picture and give life to this album. It is your opportunity to celebrate each picture from the past with stories of the future.”

As you begin to study and write, each picture brings to you a sense of family and reality. You continue to write and write and write. All other avenues are closed, only the current street is open for you. Where you stopped on your story is where this story picks up. They are connected and you reach out and touch the album. Where you once felt excitement is now replaced with a respect and solitude for all of the people in the pictures. Your writing is tighter, the warmth you bring to each page is from your heart, and as you continue the pictures smile back at you.

Treasures from the unknown are giving you and your writing a push forward from the past. You keep writing and know that this Garage Sale is one you and each of the people pictured in the album will continue into the future.

Listen to your heart, use your head, and keep your hands on the keyboard or notebook. You, as a writer, make characters come alive and live today.  Keep Writing.

Happy Writing.  Happy You.

 

 

Do Something Different

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Do you always take the same road to the same place every time? It’s easy and you do not have to look for signs, but isn’t it boring?
The same goes for writing. We are told ‘write what you know,’ but doesn’t this get boring too? Sure, we like to stay in the genre we know and this does not have to be boring. Characters have minds and if we turn them loose, their adventures can surprise even their writer.
Getting rid of the shame you feel when you are not creating, gives you the right to try something new or blow off the dust to an old project you just could never finish. Take a break and look through all the files you stuck in folders because they just seemed to take you away from your writing. Why? Did they sound more like fun, rather than writing?  A mini-mini vacation might be what you need.  You need to run your body and mind like  a machine and give it proper fuel to keep going.
When our mind slows down, this could be an indication of boredom and we need to step away and take a break. Do something that is not writing. Some have hobbies a 100 degree different from writing. Kinda like doodling, quilting, painting, gardening, watching old movies, running, even taking acting lessons. Even a long walk away from your neighborhood can stimulate your senses. You see different places you begin to imagine the people living there. Then your nose senses new flavors from a restaurant around the corner. A name you’ve never seen, but you are enticed by the exotic smells floating through their open windows. You continue this walk through unknown neighborhoods and feel a release of adrenaline. Your whole body becomes alive and boredom no longer exists.
You are almost ready to return home, and a turn in the sidewalk takes you by a park with a lake you’ve never seen. People are feeding ducks, stretched out on blankets, relaxing and at ease with themselves. You make a mental note and a promise to yourself…I will be back.
Now, you are ready to turn around and head home. A new energy has replaced the boredom and you look forward to the end of the day. Yet, your mind tells you….shut out the noises in your head and anything else for the rest of the day. All of your work will be there in the morning and you want to continue this energy blast. Well, maybe just a peek at your draft, OR writing something in a notebook with your hands and heart tied together. You pick up the notebook and write down the picture of the lake and underneath, the road to get there.
HAPPY DAY OFF.  HAPPY ADVENTURE.  HAPPY YOU.

 

REVIEWS?

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Reviews are part of the writing process, whether good, bad or indifferent. What writers do with them are sometimes a shrug of the shoulders. Let’s take a this to a different level. I have noticed more and more questions coming in from social media. What to do? How to handle emotions? Ignore? This is why I will take a stab at my own observations.

We write because of a fire that burns inside us. Stories we want to share. After months and months of research, writing, editing, searching for an agent or publisher or deciding to self-publish, we still keep plugging on making this the best book we can. Edits, edits, and edits are done over and over until the publisher or the author thinks this is the best.

The next steps are the cover and the ‘blurb’. You  look at the cover and decide if this entices you enough to look at the ‘blurb’. Then you notice your book is in the general “Romance” section, and you know it is romance and suspense. Sometimes, our books get into sections of a bookstore, or even online where we do not expect to see them.

A writer writes what she or he sees, feels, imagines, or has experienced. This may take a year or years to get the experiences onto the computer screen. Then  a publisher or agent comes in with their view points. Next, the bookstore puts the book into a different section.

As writers, we know our work is good, but we cannot please every reader. Each reader has an opportunity to express their thoughts on a particular book. However, I have found a lot of social medial avenues are not reviews on the books. Sometimes the reader has not even read the book, but wants to get their information online, so others will see their names on social media.

As writers, we have the option of reading and responding or not responding to these reviews. Why, we can see they have not read the book, ignore the content, or the genre of the book.

Just remember, a reader took time to bash your book and another reader took time to share a good report of your book.  Move on without a conversation on either the good or the bad. Reviews and Reviewers are part of the process. Your  part of the process is to KEEP writing.

HAPPY WRITING.  HAPPY DAY.  HAPPY YOU.