Coming January 1st!

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Daily life can take you on a wild rollercoaster of twists, turns, thrills and disappointments. And sometimes trauma hits home, washing away the very foundation on which you’ve built your life.

Finding Peace Through Gratitude will help you navigate the waters of uncertainty. Rather than life controlling you and your emotions, you can control the way life impacts you. Rather than falling victim to life’s circumstances, it’s possible to find peace in the midst of, and following, difficulty and trauma.

Each chapter ends with a hands-on challenge for the reader as well as a meditative phrase to practice. Watch as your life is transformed by the completely free and utterly powerful gift of gratitude.

 

Foundations

Every chance I get, I tell people of the foundation of faith, family, and love on which my parents built their lives. That, in turn, set such a wonderful example for their children and from there, their grandchildren.

I went to stay with them for a couple of weeks a while back as my dad was preparing to begin his journey of treatment for stomach cancer. That treatment consisted of rigorous and brutal chemotherapy, a total gastrectomy (stomach removal), followed by more chemotherapy.

The evening before surgery as I was going to bed, I walked past their room and this is what I saw. Each knelt by the side of their bed, heads bowed in prayer. Prayer has always been an important part of their lives, but this picture, this moment, caused me to pause and catch my breath. And it’s forever etched in my memory.

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Today my dad is cancer free. Their prayer life is every bit as important now as it ever has been. The difference their example has made to their family as well as friends, is without borders.

My question for all of us is what are we doing to make a positive difference in the lives of others–family, friends, and others looking on that we’re unaware of.

My challenge for all of us is this: If you can’t think of anything, why not start now? It’s not too late. It’s never too late.

A person's most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear r

How do You Define Success?

Success

Writers are generally an insecure group of people. We have something we want to say and feel compelled to write, and yet fear lies beneath the surface every time we put our words out there for the world to read. Not every writer, maybe, but all I’ve spoken with. Even those I’ve read about, those who have “made it.”

Joanna Penn, in her book Successful Author Mindset, talks about comparisonitis. We compare our writing to other authors, we compare our sales to other authors, we even compare our writing life to other authors. Each of these things are individual and there is not one-size-fits-all, and yet we compare. Not only do we compare ourselves to our peers, but we compare ourselves to other authors who have completely different lifestyles and opportunities than we do. Those who are on a completely different level.

To help prevent comparisonitis, take some time to define what success means to you. If we as authors don’t know what success means to us, separate from how others view success, we will constantly be chasing our tails trying to achieve something we don’t even know we’re trying to achieve.

So, what is your definition of success? Is it:

  • Freedom?
  • Sales?
  • Control of your work?
  • Number of books sold?
  • A traditional publishing contract?

It’s all too easy for the fragile ego to get hung up on statistics, number of likes, reviews, etc. I’m happiest when I set my definition of success as simply writing on a regular basis, doing the best that I can do, comparing my writing only to writing I’ve done at an earlier time, to measure my growth.

I also try, hard as it can be, not to allow other’s opinions to determine whether I’m good at what I do or not. While it’s nice when others like what you write and give you a good review, a bad review doesn’t necessarily mean your work is bad.

Opinions are purely subjective.

Really get to the bottom of what your definition is of success. Re-evaluate your definition at regular intervals. Don’t let others’ definitions define yours.

Happy writing!

I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time. 
― Herbert Bayard Swope

If you must walk in someone’s shadow make sure it’s your own.
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Holiday Fun

I participated in a craft and vendor show this past weekend at Harvest Fellowship Church, manning a table with my books. A writer friend of mine was there as well, her table next to mine. I’d been waiting a long time for this event, as it always promises to be a wonderful time and sets the mood for the beginning of the holiday season, including Christmas.

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Christmas? you say? But it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!

Yes, I know. I, too, am not a fan of stores displaying their Christmas merchandise before Thanksgiving. It seems to be getting earlier every year, to the point that one of these days it will probably be in the stores year-round.

However, that being said, Christmas means different things to different people. For the world of retail it means money. It means starting sales as early as possible, taking advantage of the marketing opportunity to make as much money as possible. Christmas music pipes through the speakers in department stores, subconsciously inspiring people to buy, buy, buy.

For others, me included, celebrating the Christmas season in combination with Thanksgiving means something entirely different. I don’t believe it can ever be too early to celebrate the birth of Christ. To begin preparing our hearts for the coming of the Savior. Thanksgiving isn’t only about remembering the Pilgrims, it’s about giving thanks to God for the thousands of blessings he gives me.

On October 3, 1863, in the third fall of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued a proclamation:
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, …, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him …

Giving thanks to the Father for the birth of His Son fits in nicely here. It’s never too early for that. So bring on the Thanksgiving holiday, complete with turkey, pumpkin pie, family, and football, while at the same time preparing my heart for the birth of Christ. And Christmas lights and music? When the heart is focused on Him, Christmas music isn’t about buying, it soothes and helps prepare. And lights? Who doesn’t love the beauty of lights.

Enjoy this holiday season, the entire season, for all it’s worth.

Wishing you a most blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. – E.P. Powell

A Cozy Teatime

This past weekend I was one of six local authors to host a book event, A Cozy Teatime, (named for our love of cozy mysteries) at the local bookstore, Welcome to the Bookstore.

DSC_0005As a child, bookstores were the portal into so many worlds to which I wished to travel, the pages of each book an opportunity to expand my world. That hasn’t changed. There is still nothing quite like being transported into other places and sharing in the lives of other people through characters. As an author, it’s a special privilege to make that happen for readers.

A Cozy Teatime was spent visiting with book lovers, eating scones and drinking hot tea, enjoying the Christimas tree by the fireplace, and surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books. I don’t think it gets better than that.

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We had author readings, drawings, cultivated friendships, and simply had fun.

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From left to right is: Myself, Chris Goff, Karen Whalen, Margaret Mizushima, Rose Ramirez, Donna Schlachter/Leeann Betts, and Cynthia Kuhn.

Check out their websites. These ladies are immensely talented! You won’t be disappointed.

Until next week…Seize the day. Carpe diem.

A Rich Abundant Life

This past weekend I was fortunate to attend a women’s retreat through my church. Typically, when I get home from work in the evenings I long to stay in my home office with my computer, or at least within the walls of my home with my dogs and my husband. On weekends, I don’t venture too far from home, either. Being an introvert, and after spending so much time at a day job surrounded by co-workers and fielding phone calls and office visits from the outside, quiet time at home is heaven.

Since these kinds of activities are well out of my comfort zone, the fact that I’d signed up for the women’s retreat surprised me as well as my husband. I paid the fee the moment I signed up, knowing if I didn’t I would find an excuse to back out.

I’m filled with gratitude that I persevered and went. Not only was the scenery breathtaking, the experience taught me far more than anything has in a long time and has grown me in ways I desperately needed to grow.

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At some point, I can’t remember exactly when, I closed myself off from relationship with others. And I found out I wasn’t the only one who did so. Playing it safe seems to be more popular that I’d imagined.

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During the weekend, I remembered the joy of being connected to a larger group of women, especially Christian women, when my Christian self is the area in which I wish to grow. I remembered the fulfillment that comes with being open to relationships. For far too long, I had been weighing the joy of loving someone against the potential pain of loss. And the fear of loss had been greater.

It we’re not open to others, we’re not allowing ourselves to be available to those who need us. We’re not living to our full potential, living out our purpose to love one another. How can we make a difference in the world if we stick to ourselves, an army of one? How can we make a difference in the world if we’re closed to others? And being open to even one makes a difference in the world. One is all it takes to make a good start. Each one we make a difference to will make a difference to someone else.

The weekend refueled my energy tank. It opened my heart to a life of being open and available to others. God showed me where the fear was coming from and how I was living such a limited life.

Here’s my challenge to you. Search for an area of your life that feels comfortable. Too comfortable. An area in which you tend to fall into a rut because it’s the path of least resistance. Now take some time to explore that area. What if you stepped out of your comfort zone, tried something new, opened your heart to something more than comfortable? The more you resist, the more fear is probably ruling your life. Think of how your life could potentially grow more beautiful and meaningful if you stretch yourself beyond what’s comfortable.

Comfort is good, and it does have its place. But when it comes to living and loving, comfort holds us back from fully living and loving. And if we’re not living and loving fully, we’re only living half a life.

I choose to strive to live an abundant life rich with loving others and being loved.

After you are gone, people may forget most of what you have said and done. But they will remember that you loved them. 
― Steve Goodier

Like What You Do; Choose What You Love

Like What You Do; Choose What You Love

What may appear to be a small difference between two things can lead to a significant difference in the ultimate enjoyment of something.

Examples that immediately come to mind include:

  • While a cup of coffee from Starbucks and a cup of Folgers are both coffee, there is a distinct difference between the two.
  • Nikon and Canon cameras both have obvious similarities, yet each has characteristics unique to each.
  • A Kindle and a Nook are both e-readers, but each has their distinct differences.
  • Liking what you choose to do vs. choosing to do what you like.

When I was a new mom I signed up to take an online journalism/short story writing course. I absolutely loved every moment of that course and should have kept my love for that in mind as I traveled blindly on the highway of life over the next couple of decades. However, since I already had my cosmetology license, it was more practical to find work in a salon and make instant money as I raised my children. Since money is an obvious necessity, especially while raising children, making instant money made sense and was the responsible thing to do.

As life passed by and the needs of my family changed, my boys’ dad worked, earning enough money to support our family.  I was able to stay home with my boys and provided daycare for a few children to supplement that income. While the children napped or during quiet times, when I could have been writing, I found myself whiling away the time by doing other things like cleaning up after a house full of children. Necessary? Yes. But I could have squeezed in a few minutes of writing throughout the day or after my children were tucked in for the night. Instead, I only thought about it.

As my children grew, I changed jobs to best accommodate their schedules. Never did I think to practice my writing skills by actually writing. Rather, I spent that time with even more dreaming of the day that I could write again.

As my children continued to grow, I survived through a divorce by working where I needed to in order to best accommodate my children’s schedules and to make instant money. It never occurred to me to actually write simply because I enjoyed it. Once again, I pushed that dream to the back of my mind for a later date when I would have the time.
That “time” never appeared as I continued my education for things that were more practical. Things I had a tendency at which to excel.  I took a medical transcription class not because I  loved to transcribe medical terminology, but because my typing skills were fast and accurate and because I wanted to work out of my home. That worked until life circumstances pushed me to get a job outside of my home.

When I landed a job in the legal profession and learned I had the capacity to do well at that, I decided to go back to school to receive my Associates of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. It was a wonderful opportunity that made sense, because my job provided a  tuition reimbursement program, which meant as long as I maintained a 4.0 GPA the entire program was paid for with the exception of books. So, essentially, I received a free degree. It was something I did because I could. Not because it was my dream. And while that education is something no one can ever take away from me and something I can always use, it wasn’t what I loved. I liked what I did, but I didn’t choose to do what I love.

I liked what I did, but I didn’t choose to do what I love.

Since then, I work at a job that does not require that degree. A job that I truly like, nonetheless, but it’s a job that I chose, not a job that chose me.

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The difference is, in addition to my paying job, I now choose to write, the one thing that truly brings me joy. It’s something I’ve done–or dreamed of doing–throughout my entire life. Something that breathes air into my lungs and gives me life. Not something that takes my energy away, but something that gives me energy. And that, in turn, has breathed life into the job I do by day. And, hey, now that I’ve pursued my passion of writing, I even make money at doing what I love. Bonus!

It’s important to like what you do, but it’s critical to do what you love.

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