Short Hiatus

NaNoWriMo Day 3

With NaNoWriMo beginning in exactly three hours, I’m taking the month of November off to focus on my NaNo word count.  Here’s wishing everyone a beautiful November.  And to all my NaNo friends and cohorts, God willing, we will connect again 50,000 words later.  Write, write, write.  And most of all, enjoy the places your imagination takes you.


All is Grace.


Thankful Thursday – The Luxury of Education





I was at a COVA (Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance) Conference for work up in the mountains this week, in beautiful Keystone, Colorado. While I sat on the balcony of my hotel room writing this it occurred to me–right after I recovered from the surprise of looking up and seeing a big, fat, black crow with an imposing fat beak and beady eyes, like he came directly from a Halloween horror movie, sitting and staring at me from no more than five feet away, which led me to finish this inside of my hotel room — that education is something so many of us take for granted, while it is truly a luxury.

The classes I attended ranged in diversity from The Victims of Cults to Elder Abuse and Mandatory Reporting to A Survivor’s Story of Trauma and Beyond, followed by walks around beautiful Keystone Lake and on trails in the woods to digest, ponder, and process the information.  And as I walked I realized those classes taught me far more than what they were intended to.  Not only were they educational for my career, but for life in general.

Keystone Lake



The top educational takeaways I received from the conference are:

1.)  Five people can hear the same exact words, but depending on where each is in life, or what each is going through, there will be five different perceptions of the same message.  For instance, years ago I heard an instructor say that after a crime, the victim will never return to normal as s/he once knew normal to be, but s/he will develop a new normal.  As someone who works with victims of crime, that insight had always stayed with me.  However, when I found myself the victim become survivor of a crime, I struggled to make sense of that sentence, and it meant something completely different.

When we, the class participants, spoke with one another between classes or at meal times, it was educational in and of itself what each got from the same class. One conversation made me feel like we were in different classes, when in reality we were hearing the same speaker at the same time.

2.)  Each and every person has so much to bring to the table–diversity, backgrounds, experiences, perspectives–that rather than cut your own experience and opportunity to learn off at the knees, limiting your potential growth, accept each person for exactly who they are, appreciating what they’re bringing to the table, rather than close your mind by judging them as different. Fight the urge to judge, and allow each difference to enrich your life.

3.)  Something a very dear friend once told me, and that was reinforced by listening to conference speakers and participants: Sometimes what we go through in life seems hard because it IS hard. Simple as that.

4.)  When the end of something fun is nearing (ie: the last evening/day of the conference, the last couple days of a vacation, the senses awaken, trying to experience all one possibly can, so as not to waste a single minute. Since each day of one’s life is one day closer to the last, none of us knowing when that day will be, wouldn’t it benefit us to live each day as if it were the last, living and experiencing life to fullest?

5.)  Your past does not need to determine your present or your future.  You have the control to make the choice to change and make your life a better place.

6.)  Not wanting to hang with the group does not make one “anti-social” or a “snob”.  Some people are truly comfortable with their own company and enjoy processing life in a solitary manner or with close friends and family.  The next time you see someone sitting alone in a restaurant or at a movie, don’t pity them and assume they’re lonely. Chances are good they are there alone by choice.

A close up portrait of one of the many jackdaw...



By the time I had finished writing this, the earlier mentioned crow kept flying low over my balcony, eventually perching in a space all too close to the chair I had been planted in only a moment before.  It would have served him well to read number six–I was alone by choice, and his company was not welcome. 🙂

All is Grace

Book Synopsis

      Since NaNaWriMo is just around the corner, which means the rough draft of another novel, God willing, I decided to post the synopsis to the book I’m finally finishing up.  All comments are welcome.  🙂
photo (15)

The Inheritance

         When Victor and Vivian Forrester meet their unexpected fate on their way home from hosting a charity dinner, it leaves their three estranged adult children with an unexpected fate of their own.

            Madison has the perfectly planned life of which her two young children are the center, leaving no room for anything or anyone else, including her husband.  Her career as a psychiatrist enables her to validate her self-worth and give her children everything they want.  She has made a promise to herself that her children will never be without, vowing to give them the best childhood anyone could ever have.

Maxwell is a successful partner of a law firm, who is as skilled at playing the ladies as he is in the courtroom. He has long since written off his family in order to avoid having to answer to anyone.

Molly is a writer and free spirit who has lost herself in the miry pit of self-pity, claiming her title as black sheep of the family.  She tries to drown and numb the pain from years of being misunderstood by her family, only to find herself on the lowest rung of life’s ladder.

What none of them expect after the shock of their parent’s death is the shock of learning what is in the will their parents carefully constructed.  That will lists steps required by each of them before they can claim their substantial inheritance.  Those requirements take them on a journey of self-discovery and change that leads to wealth far greater than any of them had ever expected.

Minnesota Farm House

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday – Free From Pain

For anyone who has fibromyalgia, or knows someone who does, you know the toll it takes on a body, both physically and mentally.  The pain can be debilitating during the day and can keep you awake at night causing your body and mind to become fatigued from lack of sleep.  Even when you think you’re asleep, the pain keeps you from falling into a restorative deep and restful sleep, leaving you feeling lethargic and with little to no energy in the morning.

I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia many years ago when I was a single mother with two young energetic boys.  During the flare-up that led to my diagnosis, my muscles and joints hurt so badly I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs, much less effectively parent my two boys.  Thank goodness their father was able to pick them up and keep them for a couple of days until I was able to somewhat function again.

As the years passed, flare-ups appeared during difficult, stressful times in life, if I worked out too strenuously for too many days in a row, or if I went on eating binges of food too delightful to pass up.  Sure, I felt the pain after, but sometimes in the heat of the moment it was easy to forget the consequences as I shoveled that second piece of cake into my mouth or that extra handful of M & M’s.

During the past six months I decided to re-evaluate how I was treating my body.  The fibromyalgia pain was more constant and more severe, seriously intruding into my normal daily activities.  There had to be an answer.

I visited my doctor who gave me a prescription of Flexeril to take before bedtime and Neurontin to take during the day.  I’m not a good patient when it comes to taking medication, so I decided to do a little more research on my own for an alternate answer.

The biggest culprits for me had been lack of sleep–which I mentioned earlier is common with fibromyalgia because one can’t sleep due to pain, said pain causes lack of sleep…and on and on in a vicious cycle, stress, diet, and exercise–or lack thereof.

Since life itself is stressful, I realized stress was inevitable.  However, the way in which I was dealing with it had room for improvement.  A lot of room, actually.  That’s when I began to take yoga and meditation seriously.  And it has helped tremendously. While I still don’t handle stress in an exemplary way, I’m learning, steadily improving and getting stronger.







I was a bit obsessive about running and working out, and have learned and implemented new workouts that give me a great cardio workout, like bicycling, cardio boxing, and a library of favorite DVD’s, as well as more muscle toning exercises, that have allowed me to cut back on running.  Also, I’ve given myself permission not to engage in vigorous exercise every day.  I’ve developed a healthy balance which has developed a healthier and less painful me.

As for diet, I had read that dairy, artificial sweeteners and gluten are the three biggest culprits for triggering fibromyalgia symptoms.  I knew right away that cutting out all three would never work for me.  I’m not that disciplined when it comes to food.   I weighed the pros and cons of trying each one individually to see if excluding any of them would make a difference.  Bottom line–I’ve cut way back on artificial sweeteners, choosing sugar over a sugar substitute. I haven’t, however, been able to give up my vice, A & W Ten.  Although a friend told me recently that there is a root beer that is made with Stevia. I will have to look for it. 🙂

Since my husband has Celiac disease and I cook for him by those guidelines, the obvious choice was to try eliminating gluten.   I have to say what a HUGE difference it has made.  In the past six months, I’ve rarely had a headache, which was becoming a daily event, my daily activities are no longer curtailed, my pain has been kept to an absolute minimum, and I haven’t been waking up groggy, exhausted, stumbling through brain fog, feeling that way as well throughout the day.  While I still have an occasional flare-up and I still take an occasional Flexeril tablet at bedtime, I’ve not had to take a single Neurontin, which was prescribed to take on a daily basis, several times a day.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Walnut Muffins Sprinkled with Cinnamon

Gluten-Free Blueberry Walnut Muffins Sprinkled with Cinnamon

The fact that one ingredient is so toxic for me and has the potential to do so much damage and cause so much pain is enough to keep me away from it even when I see something that before would have been irresistible to pass up.  Gluten = poison to my body, and from what I’ve read, it reacts that way to many others with fibromyalgia.   So for anyone who reads this who suffers from chronic pain, it’s worth a try so you can have a shot at living your best life and lifestyle.

And the best news? I still get to eat my Greek yogurt.  🙂

Healthy Choice Vanilla Bean Greek Frozen Yogur...





All is Grace

Writing My Memoir

English: Typewriter "Hermes" Deutsch...

So the idea of writing my memoir has been tumbling around in my mind for a long time now. Having a tendency to cram ten lifetimes into one, I’ve experienced so many things in my life, good as well as some not-so-good (aka: mistakes), that I would like to share in the hopes of helping others get through their trials and tribulations. Even if it’s just one person I am able to reach. And even if it’s simply by letting that one person know that someone out there has experienced what they’re going through, understands them, and has overcome.

Research I’ve done revealed numerous articles which advise that in order for your memoir to be effective and worth reading, one cannot sensor what is written for fear of what people will think. That the writer cannot fear what the reader will think of them or anyone else, and the writer cannot worry about upsetting other people.

 Pen and Paper

I need to say I struggle with that concept. That being said, maybe I’m reading into those sentiments all wrong. While I don’t worry what the reader will think of me, I don’t believe it is my place, writing memoir or not, to tell someone else’s private story, even if it directly affected my life and how I grew from that connection or grew tired trying to overcome the obstacle from that connection. I would like to believe that there is a difference between writing the truth about an incident, even if someone else is involved, and throwing another under the bus. That it is possible to tell my story even where it involves others, and not hurt them in the process of telling that story.

As I finalize the last details in publishing my book, The Inheritance, and begin outlining my memoir, I think I will insert the word “Pray” at the top of every note card I prepare for each writing session. A reminder to pray and ask for God’s guidance to write the truth, to help those I can with my story, and to keep information with a potential to hurt anyone at all confidential and out of the story. Even if it’s just the name. To always remember that making the story interesting and credible means not hurting another. And that if hurting another is what it takes to make a sale, it’s no different than selling one’s soul. May my soul always belong to God.

All is Grace.

10 Things I’m Grateful for Today

1.) Every person who has ever played a role in my life. Those who have left imprints on my heart as they passed through, and those who continue to as we share life.







2.) Everything that makes up my life as I know it–my family; my marriage; my home that is warm, comfortable, and radiates peace; a job I enjoy that allows me to make a difference in the lives of others; interests that bring me complete joy such as writing, running, and music.

3.) A new opportunity each morning I wake up to be the best me I can be that day. And when I mess up, knowing that I can start over at any moment of the day to make it a better one, each moment a new beginning.

4.) Experiences, good and bad, that have led me to where I am and made me who I am exactly at this moment, right now.

5.) The gift of now. Despite goals, plans, and experiences of the past, I have right now to breathe, give thanks, and lift my heart to a loving God who is present in every “now” and to just “be.”

6.) Opportunities for growth given to me by failed attempts, bad days, difficult relationships, and hiccups in life.

7.) Someone asking, out of the blue, how I am or about my family, and really wanting to hear the answer. May I pay that forward to another.

Heart Candle






8.) The arts–books and music that bring me to that happy place. A story that brings a smile to my heart and music that speaks to my soul. Enhanced, of course, by a good cup of coffee, the flickering of a candle’s flame and lamp light. 🙂

9.) Morning’s light after a difficult night, the rainbow after the rain, the clear sky after the storm. Hope after despair and pain.

The Heart








10.) A God who cares about lil ‘ole me in a universe that is so enormous, and loves me, flawed as I am. A God who knows my heart, my needs, and desires, and cares enough to give me the beauty of every seemingly small miracle that graces my daily life.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday-Magical Common Scents

Have you ever noticed how certain scents can draw you to another time and place, almost working as a sort of time machine? There are scents that take me back to times especially important in my life, bringing comfort and peace. And then there are those, as well, that take me to a time that I would never choose to revisit, but that also remind me how far I’ve come and that bad things do, indeed, pass.

For instance, it took me a very long time to be able to smell the exhaust of a car, even while running, when I didn’t get nauseated and feel as if I were going to faint from a very painful memory. I avoided running by busy streets and held my breath as best I could when a car would pass, and continued to run with the weight of a heavy heart.

Thanks to a loving, gracious God, when the smell of exhaust invades the air around me these days, I have the strength to continue on in thanksgiving that not only did I get through that most painful time, but with a less troubled heart and gratitude for the life I have.

On a lighter note, some of the most pleasant time-transcending scents I would love to capture and bottle are:

MN 2013 061
The Forrest–It brings me back to the times our family used to go into the woods to cut trees for firewood for cold Minnesota winters.  I can almost hear the fire hungrily licking the logs placed in that old barrel stove as they crackled and popped.

The Lake–Mmmmm…when I smell lake water in the air, I can almost feel the sun on my face, the little fishing boat rocking gently, and hear the waves lap softly at the shoreline.

The Ocean–The smell of that sticky, sea salt air makes me feel the sun warming me through and through, relaxing every muscle, and I can almost feel the silky sand between my toes and the breeze in my hair.

Rain–Inhaling slowly and deeply of a fresh rain, the earth’s fragrant aroma, makes any burden just a little bit lighter, my mind just a little bit clearer.

Well it is not great, but here is one of the c...

A Freshly Opened Box of Crayons and a Container of PlayDoh–I can never get enough of these. They bring so many beautiful, fun memories of being a child, creating and sculpting anything my mind could imagine.

A Library or Bookstore–There’s nothing like the smell of a room full of books. Opening a book, inhaling the scent of the pages can almost take me to a magical land. I enjoy my kindle, but the printed page is my first love.

Fresh Brewed Coffee–Brings joy to my heart and soul, reminding me of the invaluable and cherished conversations had with friends, solving the problems of the world, truly connecting, and the beautiful reunions with my sisters and my mom when I get back home to see them. Friends and family truly are the heartbeat of life.


All is Grace.

Why I Write

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Last week I received an email from the author of a blog I follow,  The Creative Penn, and the author asked her readers to think about why we write.  And that did, indeed, get me thinking…

I write because when I do, I:

*     Feel freedom and the ability to express myself in a way that nothing else can match.

*     Feel joy,  peace, and pure contentment.  Even if I’m working on a piece that doesn’t come easy, I’m in my element in the quiet     of my office with pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard, mood music playing softly on Pandora, and my mind creating whatever it happens to be creating at that moment.







*     Get more connected with God by making my thoughts concrete on the page, where oftentimes it’s then I can see where God is working in my life, or where I’m not, showing me I need to make myself available for more of God.

*     Am able to live vicariously through my characters–where else can one live so many different lives and have so many fun, funny, loyal, and even quirky friends? 🙂

*     Have the ability to reach and connect with other people that I wouldn’t have been able to without the magic of written words.  I’m able to connect with my sponsor kids through Compassion International, making a difference in lives in another country.  How blessed am I! I’m able to connect with readers on this blog, every one of which I am so grateful for.  It’s a magical connection that other writer’s at heart can likely understand.

*     Can turn a bad day to better from being able to escape to another world, whichever I happen to create, or by simply writing my feelings on paper, making me aware of them and then being able to let them go.

*     Spent a number of years getting too busy with life, which resulted in not writing, and I’m a much happier person when I write.

Writing journal








*     Cannot imagine my life without words and story, whether handwritten or from the keyboard.  The vehicle which produces those words doesn’t matter, only the fact that I’m able to do it.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
―     Maya Angelou

All is Grace.