Monday, April 29, 2013

Very Inspiring Blogger Award!



The super sweet and fascinating blogger and author, Shanah Wooldrage, just nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! She said this when she nominated me: " I love reading her blog. You will too. I like almost anyone who can hug cats, but this blogger is special."

See? I told you. Super sweet! Also? Her blog is awesome! And she has a hedgehog! And loves Celtic stuff with a passion that rivals my own - what's not to like?

I'm supposed to come up with 7 interesting things about me, and then tag 15 more inspiring bloggers. I've got a few in mind, but I'm not sure I'll make it to 15. Actually, I'll be honest - it's more like 5.

For some reason, my blog is misbehaving and the links don't show up until you hover over them. However, you can click out to check out these other spiffy blogs. 

Okay 7 things, huh...lemme think.

1.) When we were little, my younger brother had an imaginary friend named Bob Hook and I was totally jealous because I didn't have an imaginary friend. I have no idea why it didn't occur to me to make up my own imaginary friend. But alas. It didn't. Also? Bob Hook hated me.

2.) I make personalized cross stitch stockings for everyone in my family (mom, sibs, kids, nieces and nephews and in-laws). I made up the patterns for most of them because I couldn't find what they wanted. Seriously, try to find an iguana in a Christmas tree licking an ornament. I couldn't do it. This is my son Killian's. Yep - that's Santa flying on a dragon's back.


 3.) In addition to cats, I adore bats. If I could have a pet bat, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Especially with that awful White Nose Syndrome that's decimating bat colonies across the US and Europe.

4.) I was a singer in a garage band in high school. We were called Rebel and the Ions. :)

5.) Instead of the typical bridal party dance at our wedding, my husband and I insisted on dancing around a maypole. So, yeah...about that...sorry to everyone I coerced into participating...

6.) Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted a VW Microbus. The first time I went to my friend's house in high school, there was a blue and white one parked in the driveway - complete with little gingham curtains. I was in love with it. And also jealous. I still want one.

7.) I collect a lot of things - mostly rocks, really, but I'm also really fond of English Cottage Ware. One of my lovely friends who lives in Wales sends me pieces for my set when she finds them. This is the first piece she ever sent me, and I treasure it.



 Okay, now it's time to tag my lovelies!  

Award Rules:

  1. Display the logo in your blog to show you’ve been nominated.
  2. Link back to your nominator.
  3. Share 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award - or, you know, less if that's what you've got.
  5. Notify your nominees.
If I nominate you and you don’t want to play, no worries. If you do decide to play, please let me know so I can learn 7 interesting things about you!

My lovely nominees...in no particular order.

Leigh Jones - CP extraordinaire and fellow cat lover and fort builder.

Tess Grant - Forensic anthropologist, werewolf author and coffee lover.

Lynn Dozema - All around sweetheart and fellow Monday Muser.

Kel - A superhero who's too cool to wear her undies on the outside.

Ali Seay - Spectacular author in whatever genre she touches - also she's my kind of crazy.

Actually, to be fair, all of these women are my kind of crazy.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday's Children - Inspired by Finding Joy

Okay, I know, I know. The idea of "finding joy" sounds super crunchy granola, but I'll admit, I am a little crunchy. And to be fair, this post is really more about making joy as opposed to finding it - but more on that in a minute.

I know I'm not alone when I find myself getting bogged down with all the crap that's hurled at us on a daily basis. No matter what side you're sitting on, politics are a giant suckfest. Add in war, terrorist acts, the general cruelty that people show each other on a daily basis, not to mention all the negativity in our daily lives like work stress, health and/or money issues, worry for family members etc., it's really easy spiral into negative thought patterns.

Once you're in that crappy mindspace, it's not a huge leap to think thoughts like, "I'll never figure out this scene/finish this book/get published/find an agent/sell anything."

And once those thoughts take root, writing or even wanting to write is damn near impossible.

So what's a Thursday's Child to do?

Find joy - or more precisely, make it.

When I find myself getting sucked into the ick and wallowing there, I know the only thing that's really going to help is changing my perspective. And the easiest way to do that is to change what I'm focusing on.

The first step is avoiding the internet. No matter how many awesome, amazing things and people are on there, there's a ton of awful, too and it's super easy to fall down the rabbit hole of one horrific news story after another after another after another.

The second step is to write down five or six things that I'm truly grateful for at that moment in time. For instance, at this very moment, I'm grateful for:

Listening to my son sing along to Mystery Skulls in the next room. He's super committed and it's making me smile.

Maureen Johnson's tweets. I haven't read her books yet, but I love her tweets that pop up in the corner of my screen. I just enjoy the way her mind works. (I know this contradicts the turning off the internet suggestion, but it's cool since I'm not currently wallowing.)

Getting a chance to hear amazing songs written and performed by my friend's teenage daughter.

Checking off items on my to-do list.

Knowing that as soon as I finish this post, I have a delicious lunch of cottage cheese and kumata tomatoes waiting for me. 

You'll note that none of these things are writing related. You'll also note that none of them are particularly earth-shattering, either. Of course, I have the big things I'm grateful for like family and friends, etc., but those are constants and even though they're the most important things to me they don't always help me escape the wallowing because I'm more likely to just worry about something bad happening to them. So if I can look at the little things that make me happy in that very moment, it immediately helps to lift my mood.

A lifted mood always inspires me to write!

And  third, for a quick pick me up, I have a couple songs I turn to even though my true musical love is angsty, depressing stuff. I'll share them below in case you need a little pick me up, today.

And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to write. I'm feeling rather inspired.





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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thursday's Children - People

I'd originally planned for a much different post today, but the events on Monday in Boston have pushed that post back a while.

I'm frequently accused of being a bit of a Pollyanna. But ultimately, I believe that people are good. I'm occasionally proved wrong in epic fashion, but nine times out of ten, I'm right. I see it all the time.

I've seen my former daycare kids come home from school carrying trash to throw away because, "That crap doesn't belong in nature!"

I've had taller people reach things down for me off the shelves in the grocery store because I'm short and have T-Rex arms.

I've seen a woman at the grocery store help out a young mother in front of her because she didn't have enough money.

I've had my coffee paid for at Starbucks by the person in front of me and I've passed it on.

I've seen teenagers buy a hot meal for a homeless man  at McDonald's.

There was the man who took care of my brother when his wife was admitted to the hospital - not a staff member, just a kind soul with a relative there.

I've watched my child roll down the car window and hand over his birthday cash to a homeless man.

And this week, we saw people running into danger to offer medical assistance. We saw people opening their homes to strangers. We saw people caring about each other.

The sick, hate-fill people make the news, but it's the kind people - the ones run after you to give you your keys, or the shoe your infant kicked off while you were carrying his car seat across the parking lot. They're the ones who smile in support when your toddler is having a tantrum about wanting a baseball team. They're the ones who rip off their own clothes to make tourniquets and bandages and offer comfort.

These are the people that inspire me. These are the people who make me want to spread kindness like it's a damn virus. These are the people who make me want to write things that matter and offer comfort and understanding with the written word as well as in my everyday life.

I'll leave you with a quote by Patton Oswalt. You may very well have seen it already, but if not:

Boston. Fucking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thursday's Children - Kitch-iti-kipi

Nope - that wasn't a sneeze. Kitch-iti-kipi is the name of Michigan's largest fresh water spring. The name is of Chippewa origins and has multiple translations - The Big Springs, Bubbling Springs, The Blue Sky I See and my personal favorite, The Mirror of Heaven.

Kitch-iti-kipi is near Manistique and about five miles from where my immediate and extended family vacation every summer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Kitch-iti-kipi is one of the most peaceful places I've ever been. It's a protected environment and my to one of my brother's dismay, there's no fishing allowed there. I think it kills him a little bit every time we see the ginormous lake, brook and brown trout swimming through the springs water. Did I mention that the water is so clear that you can see straight down to the bottom? 40 feet down at its deepest.

It's an absolutely breathtaking spot, and every time I'm there I'm inspired to write. I've actually got a historical piece I've been batting around, and whenever, I'm here, I get a little more of the story. One of these days I'll have it all. But in the meanwhile, I'd like to share the beauty of Kitch-iti-kipi with you all. And who knows, maybe I'll be able to share that story some day, too.








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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday's Children - Now!


My apologies for another late Thursday's Children post - between the day job and my youngest son's spring break, it's been a little chaotic around here.

But, I'm finally here, and I'd like to talk about now. Let's make that NOW.

I had a yoga instructor and she'd always remind the class (usually while I was trying not to hurt myself or anyone else while attempting posed like The (advanced) Crow) to "Be here. Be present."

And I'd think to myself, "Well, duh. I'm here. I'm present. Can you not see me trying to keep my knee from going up my nose?"

But I wasn't present. Not really. I was thinking about Savasana (also known as The Corpse pose. No irony there... o.O). I was thinking about the last joyous five to ten minutes of class where I could just lay on my mat and know that I didn't have to try to contort my body into questionable positions or worry about kicking my neighbor in the face.



I wasn't really present in The Crow or any other pose. Not the way I should have been. I just wanted to move through the class and get on with the rest of my day. I enjoyed yoga infinitely more once the class was over, but I know I didn't get the most out of my classwork, because I wasn't really there. My mind was too busy racing ahead toward all of the things I needed to complete.

Often times, I think it's really easy to slip into the same trap with writing. I find myself slipping into future mode and entertaining thoughts like "When I finish this book..." or "When I get an agent..." or "When I sell this book..." instead of focusing on the here and now.

By doing that, I'm robbing myself of the now. The now is equally important - perhaps more so. The now is about getting to know my new characters, discovering their story, learning things about them and also making new discoveries about myself. The now is about the writing, the journeying - not skipping to the end and laying boneless on my yoga mat.

Without being here in the now, the future is a little hazier. And I have a feeling it won't be as satisfying without being present on the journey to get there.

So, I'm going to go back to my WIP and really enjoy the journey.

And who knows, I might even give yoga another go.

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