Sandcastles

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.

ervin-molnar-camp-fire-canoe1

Write on!

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Women’s History Month

There are countless people who deserve recognition, but since March is women’s history month in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, I’ve decided to spotlight one historical woman each week that has made a difference in my life in one way or another. Until I mention the first of four next week, following is a list of the top ten women, past and present, who have made, or continue to make, a difference in my life.

  1.  My Mom
  2. My Grandma Cielinski
  3. My Sponsors
  4. Mother Teresa
  5. Maya Angelou
  6. Mary, Mother of Jesus
  7. Ruth Bell Graham
  8. Barbara Bush
  9. Rahab (From the Old Testament)
  10. Ruth (Also from the Old Testament)

Women's Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is the woman who has made the greatest impact in your life?

Wrapping up 2014

rearview mirror

It’s hard to believe that in just two short days we’ll be viewing 2014 and all of its cherished memories and experiences through the rear view mirror. While there are numerous quotes about the dangers of, and time wasted from, looking in the rear view mirror, I’m of the belief that it has its time and place. As long as we don’t keep our focus there for a prolonged period of time, lest we crash into our future rather than enter gracefully, looking back to review our successes and highlights of the year can serve us well. For that matter, remembering the not-so-happy moments aren’t a bad thing either. It reminds us that things can–and do–get better and the most important thing is to learn the lesson and find the golden nugget in the heap of mud. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, “Always know where it is you want to go and have a plan to get there, but never, ever, forget where you came from.”

Here are my top take-aways from 2014–and I still have two more full days to fully live  in 2014… 🙂

  • I crossed off a major item from my Bucket List–one that has been on it for 30+ years…I published a book, The Inheritance.

 

The Inheritance

  • My son got married and bought his first house. So many memories I’ll cherish forever, especially the mother-son dance to the song Watercolor Ponies. For any of you with sons, it’s guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your lips.

photo (7)

  • Hours upon hours of running, biking, and spending time in the great outdoors, the wind on my back, the sun on my face, my spirit lifted high.

MN 2013 061

  • Priceless time spent with family–my husband, my sons, my granddaughter–how blessed am I!
  • Completing two first drafts of a cozy mystery series.
  • The first time hearing my granddaughter say “Grammy!” with so much enthusiasm. Oh, the sweetness!
  • Connecting with so many other writers in this blogging community who I am proud to call my friends.
  • The loss of Maya Angelou that reminds me to always be grateful and to truly live life to the fullest. Her spirit will live on forever.
  • The tragic loss of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, both a heart-breaking, yet critical reminder of the importance of taking whatever steps necessary to cultivate my sober life.
  • Adopting the phrase “Carpe diem” as my mantra, because it sums up so much in so few words.

Seize the day, my friends, and I’ll see you in 2015.

Have a happy and blessed journey into the New Year.

Carpe Diem

 

 

The Present of Presence

Maya Angelou quote

The best lessons come from the most difficult trials, the most significant growth from when we’re at our lowest.

When we’re filled with pride, the inevitable fall is hard. And so painful. But with humility comes peace. Yet It never ceases to amaze me that like the monster it is, pride rears its ugly head time and time again.

I have found the one surefire way to stay humble is to be grateful. One cannot be grateful and filled with pride at the same time. It’s like being angry and laughing at the same time. They cannot coexist. The next time you’re angry about something, smile, even if you have to fake it, and see if it doesn’t change your perspective at that exact moment.

When I talk about being grateful, I don’t just mean about the big things that happen during the day. The in-your-face-can’t-miss-it blessings. I’m referring to the little, seemingly insignificant things that oftentimes go unnoticed unless we’re consciously aware of our surroundings. The hundreds of presents given to us daily waiting to be unwrapped, graciously accepted, and savored. All of the ordinary moments that collectively make the day extraordinary.

The birth of a new day.

That deep, long inhale, followed by a long cleansing exhale, feeling every muscle relax in the process.

The sound of laughter.

That smile from a stranger at that exact moment you needed a smile. And when you didn’t even realize you needed one until you received it.

A child’s belly laugh.

That one line in a book that speaks directly to your heart.

A vibrant red umbrella on a gray, rainy day.

red umbrella

That magical “I love you” from a loved one.

That out-of-blue phone call from an old friend, just calling to see how you’ve been.

The smell of a freshly opened box of crayons.

The feel of fresh, crisp sheets after a long day.

The soft hum of the furnace on a cold day.

Bright stars twinkling in a black velvet sky.

The comfort of slipping into yoga pants and a sweatshirt after a long day at work.

Kindness from a stranger.

That out-of-the-blue scent that transports me back in time to one of my very favorite moments, like the smell of Chantilly that brings my grandmother close again.

The scent of a balsam pine candle.

Sea salt caramel gelato.

Letters written in silver script.

The warmth of the clothes as they’re pulled from the dryer.

Christmas Present

Presents given endlessly, waiting to be discovered. And we can only receive them if we’re present in the moment. Presence. It’s the best present we can give ourselves this Christmas.

Farewell to a Phenomenal Woman

My heart was beyond heavy when I heard of Maya Angelou’s passing today. When I think of all she has accomplished in her young 86 years of age, I stand in awe. What an admirable poet, author, activist, and woman.

In her honor, here are ten of my favorite quotes by her:

10.  “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

9.    “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

8.    “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

7.    “My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry, to get my work done, and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.”

6.    “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”

5.    “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that, I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”

4.    “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

3.    “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

2.    “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

1.   “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Rest in Peace Lovely Lady.

 

 

Women’s History Month

I could hardly believe it when I realized this is my 100th post.  Amazing!  🙂

I spent some time trying to think of some wise, witty, memorable ideas, wanting to make it a huge celebration.  But then in the back of my mind, I thought since March is Women’s History Month, why not pay tribute to women who have changed the course of history.  The women who have paved the way to where I am today.  The women who’s courage amazes and captivates the attention of other women who are trying to make it in today’s world.

I’ve decided to list my top ten, and encourage and invite you to list some of yours in the comments.  Maybe there’s a woman who has made a difference in your life that others haven’t heard of and by learning more about that person, could make a difference in someone else’s life as well.

So here’s my top ten:

10.) 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.

9.)   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.

8.)   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.

7.)   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.

Katie Davis2

6.)   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.

5.)   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.

4.)   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.

3.)   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.

2.)   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.

1.)   The first and most influential woman in my life would be 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.

Mom-Princess