Building Sandcastles

When writing a first draft, I have to remind myself constantly that I’m only shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.   Shannon Hale

I’ve been struggling with my writing lately. Justifying the time it takes as well as the lure of everything else “out there” that sucks me in. All it took was meeting with my writing bestie, Karen Whalen, today to turn that around.

Women often base their worth on how much they accomplish and how productive they are. Cleaning, cooking, taking care of family, working (for those of us who work outside the home), church obligations, laundry…the list goes on a mile long. And what about saying “no” to a request someone has of you? Gasp!

Sometimes when we get caught in the vicious cycle of doing, doing, doing, all we need is that someone to issue a gentle reminder that it’s okay to be. It’s okay to take some time to do what we love. To nurture the side of ourselves that brings joy. Writing is not wasted time, but treasured time. Not to mention extra income for some.

During our conversation today my passion was re-ignited, writing projects planned, and Camp NaNo next month is one of them. For those who aren’t familiar with Camp NaNo, it’s a spin-off of NaNoWriMo in November but much more flexible. While NaNoWriMo requires writing 50,000 words in a month, Camp NaNoWriMo allows the writer to set their own word count goal, hourly goal, or page goal. Also, where NaNoWriMo means working on a new piece of work, Camp NaNo allows you to choose to work on a novel, short stories, poetry, revisions, etc. It also includes virtual cabins so you can check in with your cabin mates each evening for support and encouragement.

I’m setting a word count goal of 50,000 and beginning a new novel, book two in the Whispering Pines series. If anyone wants to join in and share a cabin, let me know. We can share virtual s’mores, sit around a virtual campfire, and maybe tell a ghost story or two. Too busy? Even if you set your goal at 10,000 words or 10  hours over the course of the month, that’s 10,000 words or 10 hours you didn’t have before. That could be the beginning of your beautiful sandcastle.


Write on!

 There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings





Social Media – Friend or Foe?

Social Media

Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Instagram. Tumblr. Snapchat. Pinterest. Flickr.

These are only a handful of the dozens of social networking sites and apps. One study predicted  the number of those using these sites and apps is likely to cross the 2.6 billion mark by 2018.

And here we are. It’s 2018.

But is the facination with social media a good thing, a bad thing, or individual?

We are, by human nature, made to connect with others. People are relational. With so many options and opportunities to connect, we should be an enormous group of connected, people, right?

Yes. And no.

We have relationships that begin, flourish, falter, and end on social media sites.

The more social media we have, the more we think we’re connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other. JR

We as a society have become so busy multitasking and striving to use every free moment to be productive, that we have absolutely no free moments left.

We have no time to connect with family and friends in person anymore. And personally spending time with friends and family has been radically linked to better health and happiness.

Social media has its perks. It allows for keeping in touch with long-distance friends and family. However, a telephone call works here as well. And social media allows for quick connections in an age where we’re chronically short on time. And because of how busy we are, it allows for more frequent check-ins with our loved ones.

In-person perks include deeper, more meaningful relationships. The handshake, hug, and physical touch that social media doesn’t afford. Not to mention the health benefits of friendships. It saddens me when I’m in a restaurant/coffee shop and see people spending time together physically but each is connecting to someone else on their smart phones.

Do you feel more inspired after a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with a friend or a quick social media check in? What about meeting a friend at the gym or connecting to work out via Skype. And is social media really more time-saving? I know I can spend an easy hour or two surfing Facebook feeds before I realize what happened. And I’m not a particularly fast texter, so calling someone often is much more time-saving. And yet, I default to whipping out my phone and shooting that text message.

For me, personally, social media is convenient, but I feel so much more fulfilled when I meet with someone face-to-face. Actually see the smile of a loved one rather than through an emoticon. Get that parting hug rather than the texted cyber hug ((((((Hug))))). Though I have to admit I often don’t take the time for it. It’s easier to take the quick route. However, it’s critical for me–and people in general–not to allow social media to fully replace face-to-face connections, because that would leave us relationally bankrupt.

Please share. What is your preferred connection style–social media or in-person? Or both? Do you love social media, hate it, or are you indifferent?




International Women’s Day

Mother Teresa

I saved my Wednesday post for Thursday this week, because today is International Women’s Day. While I’m not a women’s libber or a women’s rights activist (Not that there’s anything wrong with those who are, in fact, if that’s you, KUDOS! Keep it up!), I do believe women are special and contribute far more to society than they’re given credit for. So today I celebrate a few of the women who have contributed something to my life in the way of lessons learned or those I greatly admire. Those are:

Marilyn Monroe – She was such a beautiful, talented woman, and yet so conflicted. Sadly, Marilyn Monroe has proven that beauty truly is only skin deep and cannot buy happiness or true joy.

Amelia Earhart – Aviation pioneer – She has demonstrated that being a woman should never stop one from doing what one truly wants to do. If anything, she has shown that one should try even harder, pursuing passion with gusto.

Oprah Winfrey – She has shown that no matter what we’re born with and what our past holds, it does not have to define and shape our future. We have the power within us to do and be whatever we choose to be. And, as with Amelia Earhart, passion and perseverance can move mountains.

Katie Davis – Katie has shown that we’re never too young to make a difference. At 18 she moved to Uganda to work with the poor and has adopted 14 girls and made a difference to an abundance of people. She radiates joy, love, hope, and the Spirit of Jesus.

Anne Frank – Her statement, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart,” is astounding to me. She has shown that attitude really is 99% of what we become.

Kathryn Stockett – Wow! Talk about perseverance! After five years of trying to secure a literary agent and approximately 60 rejections, the author of the bestseller, The Help, never quit. Thank goodness she finally caught the attention of just one, because it’s a book I would recommend to anyone and everyone.

Jane Pauley – I grew up watching her on NBC’s The Today Show, and her simple beauty and love of being a journalist fed my love of words. Recently she has spoken openly about her bipolar disorder, helping to overcome some of the stigma surrounding the illness. Go Jane!

Maya Angelou – A woman who has overcome childhood trauma and used it to help others overcome through words. And the poem Phenomenal Woman? I need say no more. Simply phenomenal!

Mother Teresa – I don’t even know where to begin with explaining what this amazing Godly woman has taught me. She was the most perfect role model of grace, humility, and demonstration of love. Her simplicity and selfless service to others knew no bounds.

But the first and most influential woman in my life is my mother. She has taught me that hard work, faith, and dedication are the keys to success. She has taught me that taking care of and being present for my own family is the greatest gift I can give, and that to serve and follow Christ, I need not travel to another country to do so, but it starts in my own home. And she has taught me that laughter and joy are key to aging gracefully.

To you women, celebrate those women who have paved the way to make your life a better one. And to you men, celebrate those women who enrich your lives.

There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.   Michelle Obama

Well-behaved women seldom make history. 
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich


Winter’s Beauty

Never before have I had spring fever so badly and so early. Probably because, for the most part, we’ve had an incredibly mild winter here in Colorado this year. So when the snow and cold hit these past couple of weeks, it reminded me we’re still in the middle of winter. But what’s the best thing to get through a battle? Gratitude – pure and simple. I’d like to share some photos revealing the beauty of winter, scenery for which to be grateful. Enjoy.

Estes Jan 2015



Nov MN Creek

We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives. Gary Zukav


Writer’s Doubt


Banish writer’s doubt? Or not?

In a recent guest blog post I was asked what my least favorite part of the writing process is. My answer was “getting my manuscript back from the editor.”

I learned I’m far from alone in that aspect. I also learned that even famous authors feel that way.

There are numerous blog posts and chapters in writing books dedicated to writer’s doubt and what all those red marks from an editor do our writer’s self esteem. It pretty much demolishes it for a spell. It knocks a writer on his/her fanny. The important thing is that we get back up. Immediately.

I recently got a manuscript back from an editor with a publishing company. It had a lot of red and requested changes. My initial reaction was…


But after I took the time to process the disappointment, I was able to focus on the positive and move forward. The positive comments the editor made held far more weight, kicking self-doubt to the curb. Well, mostly. 🙂

“I couldn’t put the partial down. I rarely say that so sit back, take a breath, and smile.”

“You have a nice, easy writing style and things flow quite nicely. Your gift for dialogue is great. It’s easy and natural like the people are sitting in my living room bantering or fighting back and forth.”

“The thing to keep in mind is that the mechanics of writing can always be fixed, but not everyone can do what you’ve done, come up with such a unique story and make it work.”

After making the suggested changes, I’ll be looking at a contract. (Yay!)

Since writer’s doubt is so prevalent among fragile writer’s egos, I’ve collected the following quotes that help me, and I hope will help you, too.

Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.
Barbara Kingsolver

Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.                     Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

I feel self-doubt whether I’m doing something hard or easy. Sigourney Weaver

I think self-doubt, as grim as it can be, makes me a better writer. Stasis and hubris would probably be the death knell for my career. Kristan Higgins

I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.
Erica Jong

The writer who loses his self-doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, to prolixity, should stop writing immediately: the time has come for him to lay aside his pen. 
Colette, Earthly Paradise

Writing was a defeat, it was a humiliation, it was coming face-to-face with yourself and seeing you weren’t good enough.
Karl Ove Knausgård, Min kamp 5

The best writers I’ve read possess oodles of self-doubt, yet claw their way up with each work and remain humble. Boastful ones, not so much.
Don Roff

Bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt.  Charles Bukowski

After reading the quotes by Kristan Higgins and Don Roff, self-doubt isn’t all bad. As long as it doesn’t cripple you from creating, from moving forward, and from truly living.

Write on.


The Month of Hearts

Live, Love, Celebrate Life

February is the month of hearts and love. Anyone living on this planet is aware of Valentine’s Day, whether we’re fond of it or not. The card, flower, and chocolate industry can attest to how popular Valentine’s Day is. We celebrate and honor our “true love.” I also celebrate my kids, adults now, but that has never made me stop, as well as my grandchildren. I love them every moment of every day and try to show them as often as possible, but I cannot resist the lure of Valentine’s Day.

This year, however, my focus has been on the entire month rather than one day. February is American Heart Month. As I mentioned in a previous post, health issues have been my companion the past several months. When the cardiologist told me a pacemaker was necessary, I felt the earth crumble beneath me. I wasn’t nearly old enough for a pacemaker! And I was in perfect shape! I exercised regularly, I ate super healthy, I was filled with gratitude and joy. How can this happen?!? It was explained to me that my heart muscle was very strong (thanks in part to working out and eating a healthy diet), but the electrical component wasn’t working. In essence, I needed an electrician for my heart. That electrician came in the form of a pacemaker on January 17th.

I have never felt better. Approximately 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day. That’s an average of 1 death every 38 seconds.

Instead of allowing myself to wallow in the yuck of self-pity and disbelief, I’m so immensely grateful. I’m grateful that medical technology has given me new life. I’m grateful that it was caught in time before I became a statistic. I’m grateful that even though I thought my life was amazing before, that it’s gotten even better. I’m grateful for the medical professionals who have been so remarkable. And I’m grateful there’s an entire month dedicated to the heart instead of just one day. Typically my wardrobe consists of a lot of black and green. This month I proudly sport a lot of red.

My suggestion to you is:

Follow your heart, listen to your heart, protect your heart, and love with your whole heart. That is the essence of life. 

Believe in your heart that you’re meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles.
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

photo (2)

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

My Least Favorite Four-Letter Word



It’s one of my least favorite four-letter words.

No matter where you look, people are busy. And the typical answer when asking someone you haven’t seen for a while how they’ve been, is “Busy.”

People are busy. Work is busy. Life is busy. Everything and everyone is busy. We’re busy at work and then busy when we get home as we try to get everything done before we fall into bed, exhausted, only to start it up all over again as soon as the alarm goes off. And when we’re not busy? We think something is wrong.

Too many people base their value on how busy they are. If they’re getting things done (aka: staying busy), it means they’re proving their worth.

I like to think back to when I was a kid. I woke up in the morning, got ready for school, ate breakfast, then caught the bus, riding an hour each way to and from school. While on the bus, I either talked with friends or read a book. I didn’t have a cell phone or computer. After school I made supper. When my parents got home from work we sat down at the table and ate together as a family. After dinner was dishes–by hand, homework, perhaps a little TV, then off to bed.

These days every moment of downtown is absorbed by iPhones, iPads, televisions, and computers. Texting, emailing, checking texts and emails every couple of minutes, YouTube videos, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and checking off the multiple items on one’s to-do list. And have you ever really paid attention to what’s on your to-do list? It’s typically things you have to do, not things you want to do. Trust me, if you enjoy something, you will remember to do it. Give your to-do list some white space so you have time to breathe. Only jot down what has to be done that day.

Don’t be so busy that you don’t enjoy life. Learn to say ‘no.’ Make a list of what’s really important to you and focus on doing more of those things. While I’m not suggesting shirking your responsibilities or letting your family fend for themselves every evening for dinner, what I am suggesting is to be mindful of what you’re keeping so busy with. If it’s not something that has to be done, consider cutting it from your list. Take a break from electronics and let your brain rejuvenate. Base your life’s worth on the quality of the relationships with the people who mean the most to you, not on how much you’re getting done.

Many people, at the end of their lives, have been known to have regrets about neglecting what or who is important to them. I’ve never heard of anyone having regrets about not being busy enough. Strive to be a human-being rather than a human-doing.

With text messaging and e-mails buzzing in our pockets, our constant availability for phone calls, and hot new apps and social media on our phones, we are more distracted, more unfocused and more enmeshed in sweating the small stuff than ever before. And this leads to many of us feeling like we’re sprinting every day but really not getting anywhere.
― Dean Graziosi, Millionaire Success Habits: The Gateway To Wealth & Prosperity

Be Still