Memorial Day – bless us, every one

Thank you to those who served. May God bring comfort to those who sacrificed everything. Have a safe and blessed day.

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Being Different

it’s okay to be you. it really is. no need to run with the herd and do what everybody else is doing.

if you don’t like that book that everyone else is reading, that’s cool.

if you don’t like broccoli, think starbucks is just overpriced coffee, and wouldn’t know a hair product if it bit you in the foot, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.

just saying…love yourself. be yourself. you’re cool just the way you are. 

happy tuesday. ❤

Celebrating the Small Stuff

This week I did a series of picture posts on my Facebook page. I’d read somewhere that pictures were more popular than links or straight text on Facebook and based on my small ‘experiment’ it does appear to be true. Pictures do seem to get more attention on my page.

For me, that was good because I spend a lot of time with text, words, concepts and sometimes, a picture really does speak better than any word you can come up with. Or maybe pictures coupled with the right word is the real winning combination.

The picture post that got the most attention is the one I used above.

So, why would that message resonate more?

Getting lost in the big stuff

I think that people get lost in the big stuff. I know I do. Chasing the dream of being a best-selling author, is a good example of the big stuff I want to celebrate. I pray I will be able to celebrate. I fear I won’t ever celebrate. And I doubt there is any author who doesn’t feel that way.

We all have dreams that we chase. Some more realistic than others but important to us, nonetheless. Despite any proximity to reality.

But the problem with getting lost in the big stuff is that we miss all the wonderful little things that happen to us, for us, and around us. The world is a big, beautiful mystical place and there are probably hundreds of moments a day we could celebrate if we chose to.

So, here is the small stuff I’m celebrating this week:

♥ Puppy Lily absconded big dog Emma’s bear (stuffed toy) and guards it with all the ferocity of a bear. Did I mention the bear is bigger than she is?

♥ Dinner with my friend Andy. It was just us barbecuing a couple burgers in my backyard and then later going to Starbucks for coffee. Then hours of talk about anything and everything.

♥ Phone call with Jenny. My best friend who lives in Texas and whom I miss terribly. Quote from her son, “I touche a Guinea pig and now I’m sick.” You just can’t make that kind of stuff up, right?

♥ I finally figured out scene 86 in my book.

♥ The grocery store had daffodils on sale – $1.99 for 10 stems, I got 20. Today they opened. What a beautiful sunny scent!

♠ I discovered tiny little tomatoes on my tomato plants. Six of them. Big news!

♥ I had heavy cream for my coffee this morning. Heaven.

♥ A favorite client contacted me out of the blue yesterday.

♥ Spring is finally here.

Maybe it’s just gratitude

Maybe all I’m really talking about is feeling gratitude in my life. And if I am, that’s fine with me. I want to feel grateful for everything in my life – even the small stuff. Even the bad stuff. Because it’s all part of this mysterious game we call life and you can’t appreciate the good without the bad. The highs without the lows. The exciting without the boring. Right?

How about you, dear reader? What is the small stuff you’re celebrating this week? Did you finally master that cookie recipe? See a beautiful baby? Hug a puppy? See an old friend? Witness an incredible sunrise? Feel free to share any or all of it.

Have a great weekend.

Annie

Thank you in no particular order

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Today is a day when we all reflect on those things for which we’re thankful and count our blessings (stuffing ourselves senseless, notwithstanding). And reflecting on your blessings is never a bad thing. In fact, whole industries have been built around gratitude. And lots of people keep gratitude journals or meditate daily on the things for which they are grateful.

I was never able to do a gratitude journal – not because there weren’t things to be grateful for or that my life lacked blessings – there were. I think it was something about the wording I was using, “I am grateful for…” To me, it felt egocentric (or something). Anyway…the other day I started my day with a thank you list. It was simple, I just wrote thank you for (fill in the blank) and the list was a long one.

And I realized that saying thank you, instead of I am grateful changed things for me. Because I believe that there is a force greater than myself in the world – you can call it God, the spirit in the sky, the Universe, Mother Nature or whatever you like but it’s something outside myself. Something bigger, smarter, wiser, kinder and more loving than I am. Some source from which (I believe) all things good comes from.

So, today I say thank you in no particular order…

  • Thank you for coffee
  • Thank you for this beautiful, cold, crisp day
  • Thank you for Amazon and KDP and the new opportunities it has created for writers and readers
  • Thank you for writers like Hugh Howey, Anne R. Allen and Joe Konrath who have forged a path that other writers may follow
  • Thank you for my quick mind
  • Thank you for laughter
  • Thank you for puppies, kittens, babies and all things innocent and pure
  • Thank you for words, ideas, thoughts, characters that magically appear in my head
  • Thank you for books and eyes to read them
  • Thank you for computers, pens, paper, pencils, recorders, smart phones and tablets – all the tools through which we can communicate
  • Thank you for the creativity that I take for granted every single day
  • Thank you for the kindness of strangers
  • Thank you for colors, smells, tastes and sounds
  • Thank you for the pain that has driven me to learn where I went wrong
  • Thank you for the will to continue when conventional wisdom says otherwise
  • Thank you for everything I am and am not and the joy of discovering which is which
  • Thank you for the new day and another chance to do better

 

Enjoy your day and thank you for reading, you are a blessing.

Annie

Paying it forward

pay it forward

Years back there was a movie called Pay it Forward. The concept was simple, do something nice for someone and instead of having them return the favor, tell them to pay it forward by doing something nice for others. The movie was good and except for a couple of overly sentimental scenes very enjoyable. It certainly delivered its message. Make the world a better place by passing on kindness.

Can you make the world a better place just by being nice?

I think you can. I think that people do it every day. Passing on small kindnesses of all types – from giving directions to giving a few bucks to somebody who’s hungry. In fact, without the small random acts of kindness that we give and receive every day, I think the world would be a much darker place.

Make no mistake, it won’t have the immediate impact that the release of the new iPhone has (although you’d think it should) but if we all did one more nice thing a day it would certainly improve our outlook – on ourselves and the world around us. What’s not to love in that idea?

How do I pay it forward?

I try to be nice to everybody. That doesn’t always work out. But I try. But my go-to way of paying it forward is with food. I love to cook. I love to cook too much. So I am constantly giving away food. Make a big pot of soup, I keep some, then give the rest to friends, co-workers and favorite merchants. Around the holidays I bake cookies and deliver them to the local post office, fire station, food banks, my mechanic, my co-workers, and friends. It’s not much but it brightens their day and mine.

A couple of weeks ago I went grocery shopping and I was stopped by a man who asked for a couple of dollars so he could buy a sandwich at Subway. He was middle-aged, dressed in clean but old clothes and had a nervous, flitting glance. In under two minutes he told me his life story – had a drug and alcohol problem, been clean for two years, living on disability but looking for work – most of his check went to rent. I gave him a few bucks. He thanked me profusely. I told him to pay it forward. That when he was on his feet, to help somebody else out. I don’t know why but I’ve thought about that guy every day since. I’ve wondered how he’s doing. I’ve wondered if he got his sandwich. I’ve wondered if he did something nice for somebody else lately. I wish him well and hope things are looking up for him.

A couple of months ago, a friend asked me to read his manuscript and give him feedback. He agreed to read my manuscript and give me feedback as well. I’ve done a lot of critiques, so to me it wasn’t that big a deal. I stayed up that night and read the whole thing – taking notes as I went. The next day I wrote up my critique and sent it off. Then I didn’t hear from him. It worried me. I feared I’d offended him. Then I just didn’t know. Finally, I let it go. I’d done what I could, sent it out in the world and I realized I didn’t need to know the fate of my action. Recently, I heard back from my friend (knock me over with a feather) and it was good news. He was pleased with the feedback and thanked me – also had some nice things to say about my work. I felt good. He felt good. Somewhere in the universe things were being paid forward or sideways or some way. It was a feel-good thing. And I thought that we should all do this more often.

How do you pay it forward?

So I’m wondering – how do you pay it forward? Or do you believe in such things? I know things have been rough for all of us in the last few years. The economy, the job situation, everything seems to get more and more expensive. Often, we’re working a lot harder for a lot less. It’s easy to feel cynical under those conditions. Easy to feel like people are trying to exploit what few resources you have by asking for a favor or some free advice.

But I believe that one of the biggest joys in life lies in helping other people. In big and small ways. Often the cost of brightening someone else’s day is very small and really can make a difference.

And isn’t that what we all want in our heart of hearts? To make a difference? Does it have to be a huge difference for it to count? Or can we just be happy in the knowledge that because of us, somebody had dinner today? Or because of us, a little girl laughed, or an elderly couple didn’t have to stand so long in line because you let them cut ahead of you?

My offer to pay it forward

So, in the spirit of this post I’d like to make an offer to pay it forward to you, out there, reading this post. I can’t offer you soup because it just doesn’t travel well in the virtual world but I can offer to do a manuscript critique. Short story, script, poem, or novel – doesn’t matter what type. I’d be happy to help anybody out there who’d like some honest feedback on their manuscript. Since I’m not a superhero I can make this offer to three people. So, if you’re interested in taking me up on it, leave a comment and let me know.

In the meantime, thanks for reading and may we all make the world a better place, one little random act of kindness at a time.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2014

Love me, love me (for God’s sake will you just love me already?)

love me, love meLet’s be honest, to be a writer, an actor, singer or any type of ‘creative’ you have to have a pretty big ego. It’s not wrong, it just is. Perhaps it’s God’s way of helping us deal with all the rejection, finger-pointing and the fact that we were looked upon as the weird geek all through high school.

Most people aren’t going to understand us. They aren’t going to understand why certain sounds might send us into a state of impassioned annoyance. Or why we’re so interested in talking to strangers and fascinated by the conversation at the next table. Or why we have that “I’m taking notes” look on our faces half the time. But that’s okay. We’re not here to be understood. We’re here to create. We’re here to enrich other people’s lives (hopefully) with the things we create. Whether it’s a song, a performance, a painting or a story – ours is a mission of finding beauty and meaning in life and reporting back. Maybe we’re also the note takers for the current culture – the predictors of what the future may hold. Some think so…

But what we aren’t is the world’s darling. We aren’t here to be loved. To gain approval. Or to be the homecoming queen. The world isn’t interested in our neediness. And yes, we’ve got it – in spades. And if the world (or any part thereof) decides to love you, it will be on its own terms, not yours.

The very fact that we create something doesn’t mean that it’s great or even good. And when it’s not we should be humble enough to accept that when someone points it out. We should be grateful that there are people in our lives who will be honest with us, tell us the truth and insist we give only our best work. Because in our best work we give what we are meant to give – an undeniable truth, a pure note, a perfect color – whatever it is, you know it when you’ve got it. When you’ve reached it. When you’ve created it.

The world does need our work. It is important. We can only give that when we put on our big girl and big boy pants and dedicate ourselves to it. And keep the griping and hurt feelings to a minimum.

Though there is the occasional anomaly – trust me you won’t:

  • Pen the great American novel on a first draft
  • Paint like Picasso after one art class
  • Win an Academy Award for your first performance
  • Sing like Caruso (or Beyoncé) after completing Music 101

If you don’t put in the work, you’ll never develop your craft enough to get there. But if you do dedicate yourself to it – earnestly and without insisting on constant love and adoration for doing your job – the world may love you after all. Or at least your work.

Writer Chick

copyright 2014