Thankful Thursday — Autumn & New Beginnings

Autumn's Arrival

Autumn–even the word is beautiful, not to mention pleasing to all five senses.

It conjures up images of evening lamplight, candle flames flickering and dancing on walls of rooms darkening a wee bit earlier each evening, the scents of food cooking in the crockpot, fresh stewed tomatoes canning, and the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Autumn brings with it the warmth of the sun on a clear, cool day, and crisp evenings in the rocker on the porch with a soft, warm blanket and a cup of herbal tea.

tea tin

It brings afternoons of fun, laughter, and exercising together as a family while raking leaves into huge piles in which to jump and bury one another.

It’s a time where the trees’ clothing magically turns from green to multiple hues of fire orange, golden yellow, and vibrant red–the hallmark of Autumn–as well as the scent of those changing and fallen leaves, the fullness and completeness of summer. The closing of one book and opening of another.

And that new book contains so many new beginnings. Fresh starts. Its energy breathes new life into my bones, hot and tired from the heat and busyness that tends to take over summer before we even know what happened.

It’s the start of preparing my home for cozy evenings spent in front of the fireplace, hot apple cider while reading a good book on the back porch, wool sweaters, and those soft and comfy hoodies.

Walks in the woods, dried, fallen leaves swirling around my feet and crunching under each step, the woodsy smell and earth’s aroma as nature, too, readies itself for sleep in order to prepare for a new season. The chill in the breeze making rosy circles on smiling cheeks.

Autumn seems to be the start of a new writing season for me. It’s the time I plan–the stories and a writing schedule that will carry me through the winter. Also planning my next NaNoWriMo project. And though it means a schedule, it’s a feeling of coming home to that place I find freedom, warmth, security, and even exhilarating madness that somehow feels comforting.

It’s the beginning of a new holiday season, of time spent with family and friends, the annual conference for my day job in the breathtaking mountains of Keystone, Colorado, as well as a Writers Retreat in a serene retreat center snuggled in the Rockies, the latter being a first time adventure. A new beginning.

Leaves Under Water

It feels like God is especially close in the Autumn season, His presence surrounding every side of me and His blessings interwoven in every aspect of my life. And as I breathe in His magnificent presence, I bathe in the glow of His goodness. And I am so grateful.

All is Grace.

When I Just Don’t Feel Like Writing

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

Whether it’s revising my novel, journaling, blogging, or writing letters to the children I sponsor through Compassion International, I try to do some sort of writing every day. But truth be told, some days I just simply don’t feel like writing. And from reading what other writers have to say, I’m not alone in that area. It extends well beyond the perimeter of my own limited space. What I can say from reflecting on my experience, however, is that it usually comes from complacency.

I’ve compiled some ideas on how I can forge beyond that barrier of resistance.

Visualize the End Result

If I visualize the final product of what it is I’m about to write, it usually can motivate me enough to at least get me to the keyboard, which can be the hardest part. And from there, it gets much easier. If it’s revising my novel, I visualize being that much closer to being done and what that will feel like. I imagine what it will look like when I’ve completed the revision, or better yet, the entire process of writing the book, reminding myself that getting my bottom in that chair and my fingers on the keyboard are the only things that can make that happen. If it’s writing to my sponsor children, I visualize their smiles when they receive the letters, the joy it brings to their precious hearts, and suddenly my not wanting to write seems so small in comparison.

A Reward for Reaching the Agreed Upon Goal

I’m not above bribing, and that includes myself. Whether it’s dark chocolate, a computer game, surfing the Internet, napping–whatever it takes to get me to my computer. Once I’m there, I’m usually home free.

Write Something Fun

Create a scene in my novel that I’ve been looking forward to writing, even though it may not be what happens next. it still counts as words written and has, on occasion, motivated me to write more from there.

 Enjoy Other Forms of Media

Read, read, read. Read work by an author I aspire to emulate, motivational writing articles in magazines or on-line. Personally, I try to keep the Internet as a last resort, because my lack of self-discipline can sometimes lead to surfing, and that does nothing but rob me of time rather than inspire creativity. Watch movies while thinking of plot–or subplot–ideas. Movies such as The Jane Austen Book Club and The Words particularly inspired me.

Please share with us what works for you.

Thankful Thursday -The Smallest Hope

provoking sunrise

Recently I was laid up with an unexpected illness, accompanied by a level of pain I can’t ever remember experiencing.  On the third day I woke feeling relieved of the pain.  Until I tried to ride my bike and walk, both of which were not possible, as it brought the pain back full force.  However, what was a constant, won’t-let-up pain, did let up for a couple of hours.  And those couple of hours gave me strength, relief, and hope to carry on when the pain got bad again.  God knew what I needed and He provided.

This experience brought to mind other areas in which the smallest hope is glossed over as coincidence or not recognized at all.

When fretting over something I’ve said or done, something I try not to do but also something I have yet to master, and I’m caught in the middle of inner torment, that moment comes when I realize that God is all I need to please and the burden disintegrates into dust particles.

When in the middle of writer’s block or a stand-still in my writing life and that story idea pops out of nowhere, flashing through my conscious.

When guilt makes its ugly way into my writing time, telling me that’s time that should be spent doing something “important” and “worthwhile,” and then comes that comment from a friend or stranger telling me that something I wrote made such a difference to them.

When it’s been a gloomy, rainy spell and the sun decides to peek from behind the clouds for the briefest of moments, it’s rays creating the most beautiful iridescent streamers of light reaching all the way to the mountaintops.

When it’s been a long, dark, cold winter, and finally that burst of green comes through the thawing earth, showing the promise and hope of spring.

Crocus in Snow

When it’s been a difficult week at work, lots of noise, angry callers and co-workers, and then that afternoon happens that all is silent–the phones, the people, even the background noise.

When it’s been a morning, a day, a week, of feeling painful insecurity, and someone decides to make a comment about nice you look, how much you mean to them, or gives you a hug out of nowhere, letting you know you are valued.

When I’ve had a restless night, complete with unsettling dreams, and when reading the Bible during quiet time the next morning and the absolutely perfect Bible verse is laid out before me, lifting me up.

During these moments of hope, is my mind saying “It’s about time” or “Thank you.”  Each phrase is short, simple, yet place the heart in opposite hemispheres.  One shows the heart to be connected to oneself, while the other shows the heart to be connected to God.  One is negative, one is positive.  It’s all in how we choose to live and see life.  Glass half-empty or glass half-full.

Entitled or grateful.

Gratitude changes everything

Today I choose to be grateful.  And, God willing, tomorrow too.  But right now all I have is today.

Thank you God.

All is Grace

Thankful Thursday – Golden Silence

Silence
Silence – the absence of sound, chaos, noise. That moment that lends all consuming peace and serenity.

 There was a time in my life when silence was anything but pleasant. It was anything but peaceful and serene. In fact, it was equal to the most obnoxious pounding. Pounding which was probably the reflection of my heart pounding from fear. Fear of being alone.
As I’ve gotten older and have learned to grow more comfortable within my own mind–a place that has become a little less scary :-), silence began to change from fear to peace. A reprieve from the busyness of the life around me.

 I found myself looking for ways to incorporate more silence into my daily routine of living.

 I used to listen to my Ipod when I ran. When I was on vacation and didn’t have my Ipod, I was forced to listen to nothing but the sound of my feet on the pavement with each stride, the rhythm of my breathing, and nature’s sounds. It didn’t take long for me to prefer that to the constant chatter of talk radio from my ear buds or even music, as much as I love music.

 I ended my run feeling much more refreshed, energized and alive.

 While I used to love driving in my car with the windows down and the radio up, that has changed to my sunroof open and the radio off. I still love the fresh air, but without the constant voices from the radio. There are still times that I turn the volume up on my radio while I sail down the highway, but more often than not I’m reveling in the solitude of silence. Especially after a day at work when I’ve heard nothing but chatter all day. That silence within the confines of my car is golden.

 While I used to have the television on while I was home, for background noise, if nothing else, now I find myself content to read in silence or cook while giving my full attention to the easy sounds, feel, and smells of what I’m cooking or baking.

 Silence encourages my mind to seek God in prayer or explore ideas for my next writing endeavor, mentally creating characters and story lines.  My mind drinks it in, my soul absorbing it as a beautiful rain quenches the thirst of a parched land.

meditation

Practicing meditation has taught my mind to even find silence in the middle of chaos and noise. To find that peacefulness and serenity when my head feels like it might explode from sensory overload.

Silence really is golden. It’s not lonely anymore because I’ve found peace within myself.

Silence is golden and fluffy

I have discovered that silence is not only the absence of sound, but the presence of stillness. With or without external noise. Simply stillness within.

And for that I am thankful.

All is Grace.