Things I Don’t Usually Tell On Myself

Taken at the quilt show with my phone which apparently has a dirty lens,

Taken at the quilt show with my phone which apparently has a dirty lens,

Sometimes, I’m a real doofus ; I mean there’s truly no explanation or meaning to my madness. I went to the quilt show last weekend. This is something I look forward to every year. I always take lots of photographs. This year I wasn’t blown away as I usually am. It wasn’t until we were over halfway through the exhibition before I pulled my camera out to snap a pic of something that wooed me. I pushed the button and my camera said (ok it doesn’t talk but it writes!) “no memory”. I knew that couldn’t possibly be true because I have like an 8 GB memory card and I’d just uploaded photos to my laptop and erased them from the card. I pulled the card from the camera thinking reinserting it would magically create memory. The problem is that what I pulled out was not my memory card…it was the plastic thingy that closes the opening on my laptop to keep dust out. What is that thing called anyway?

Sometimes, my grocery shopping goes smoothly. I actually remember my list and coupons, and find everything I want without getting a bunch of extras. Sometimes, (OK, it’s so often it has become a family joke.) I bend over to pick up the item I’m looking at and when I unpack my groceries it is the item beside the one I was looking at. Usually said item is the diet/low fat version of the product. I think the universe it seriously trying to give me a message.

Sometimes, I answer the telephone even when I know by the caller ID it is most likely a telemarketer. Usually I am nice and say I’m not interested. Sometimes, I hang up on them mid-sentence of telling them thank you for calling. And once I even argued with the caller. After asking if it was Mrs. Payne (OK, I lied and said I was not me)  he proceeded to ask if Mr. Payne was available, and I said no he was unable to come to the phone…that one was not a lie, folks. Then he asked me who I was and why I was at the house with Mr. Payne when Mrs. Payne was not there. I told him it was none of his business and hung up on him. Perhaps I should have said I was the maid…I am. Or perhaps I should have said I was having an affair with him…Wonder what was running though his mind anyway?

Sometimes, I eat leftover dinner for breakfast. And I usually enjoy it much more than I did the night before.

Sometimes, I drink beer with chocolate.

Sometimes, when people are talking all techy I pretend I understand what they’re talking about.

Sometimes, I hide from the dog when I eat so I won’t have to share or look into those beautiful beady eyes and feel guilty.

Sometimes, I stay in my pjs all day.

Sometimes, I plan a day of really getting to work on a project and don’t do a thing.

Sometimes, I will wait an entire week before I vacuum the floors.

Sometimes, I just want to get the laundry over with and mix the lights and darks.

Sometimes, I take up over half of the bed and pretend I’m asleep when the hubby tries to get me to move over.

Sometimes, I bribe the dog with peppermints to get her off the sofa.

Sometimes, I tell my sister yes when she asks me if she looks ten years younger than her actual age. Now don’t be judging me, she is always telling me how young she looks and prods for my agreement, and there is just no telling her any different.

Sometimes, I spill dry pasta all over the kitchen floor and pick it up and prepare it anyway. Yeah, I just did this. We’re having spaghetti for dinner…you might not want to eat at my house tonight. This may or may not have been one of those week I haven’t vacuumed…I’ll never tell!

Spin Cycle: Sometimes

…And The Winner Is……..

I wrote each commenter’s name on a slip of paper, folded them, and placed them in a cup. Then I had DirtMan blindly draw one slip. The winner of my book, Stepping into the Wilderness, is Ron at Vent. If you don’t know Ron, you need to go over and introduce yourself. He is one of the nicest and funniest people in the blogosphere. He usually has me spitting my coffee at the computer screen! Congrats, Ron. Please email me your address!

Stretching

fabric collage and Longwood 028

 

Like trees, we often spread ourselves thin as we branch out. We twist and turn as we meander and sometimes double back. We grasp for things within and out of reach. While we succeed in some areas, others are learning experiences.

Every tree has a trunk, home base. We need those who hold us up. We depend on people and places which form our roots, where we are nurtured and sustained. Without courage to venture we wither and die.

Life is all about sprouting and blooming, living and learning. Life is about developing talents and following dreams. Life is about loving and trusting. It might seem like hard work at times, but the rewards are well worth it.

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to stretch my limbs, to reach skyward. I feel the whisper of wings soaring by me. I hear my name being sung in the birdsong as I continue to grasp.

…As I settle into myself, I am more thankful for the love and support of roots. My family and friends enable me to continue the journey. And you who are reading these words are also a beautiful part of this network of support, and I thank you.

Perhaps life’s biggest lesson is mastering the ability to soar the heavens while remaining connected to the earth. Always reach for your goals, but never forget those who help get you there.

Here’s A Piece For Inquiring Minds

Today I am sharing a selection of my book Stepping into the Wilderness as I thought you might be interested in the premise of the book. I’ve written this in a devotional/affirmation form. Hopefully the words offer encouragement or the desire to reflect upon one’s life. “Walking Along the Edge of the Woods provides questions for pondering or for journal writing. “Stepping into the Wilderness” portion gives five prompts/ exercises for enriching the writing experience. This book is basically designed for self-exploration and discovery.

I’m offering a free book this week. If interested, leave a message on this post. I will number the comments by order in which received and randomly draw a number from a bowl on Wednesday. I will announce the winner on Wednesday and contact by your blog or email at that time. Please make sure your blog or email links back to you.

 

On Standing Alone

 

You gain nothing when you risk integrity.

 

There are times when you will stand alone in your convictions.

People won’t always agree with you, nor will they even understand you.

We each live our own belief systems. Our attitudes and behaviors tell the story.

It’s important to stand up for what you believe in, but know sometimes compromises must be made. When that happens you must make sure your integrity is not diminished for someone else’s gain. Don’t let others take advantage of you. They have no more power over you than you allow.

Be aware of the difference between your beliefs and your opinions. Know the difference between what you believe to be true and reality. It’s much easier to stand on solid ground than shifting sand.

Never assume anything. Don’t make decisions based on ambiguous information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The answers might just provide the clarity you need.

Be true to your heart. If you deal from a place of love, it will not lead you astray.

Remain constant. Be the stability you want in life.

Be curious enough to want to know what is going on around you.

Be brave enough to shake things up and see them for what they are.

Be humble enough to admit when you are wrong and wise enough to learn from your mistakes.

Do what’s best for all rather than only yourself.

Keep your promises and always do the right thing, even at a personal cost.

Be responsible and accountable. Be someone others can depend on.

Authenticity is a solid foundation. Be who you are. Live your values.

Be willing to make tough decisions. Take the risk of being unpopular.

Don’t be afraid to be different…what you do might just make THE difference.

If you must stand alone, shine with all your might.

 

Walking Along the Edge of the Woods:

Do you go with the majority or stand up for what you believe?

Are your opinions based on the beliefs of others?

Do you go back and forth with your opinions or are you steadfast?

When has your curiosity overridden your common sense?

Is it more important for you to feel popular or original?

 

Stepping into the Wilderness:

Write an essay about standing up in the face of opposition.

Write a scene of a death promise.

Write a short story about a broken promise.

Write a personal narrative/memoir about learning from a mistake.

Write any type of poem about opinions.

Resurrection Of A Writer

Breakfast Smithfield 12-12 003

I fell in love with words as a small child. My imagination soared with stories, empowering me to escape reality and become anyone in time with the luxury of visiting any place, real or make-believe. Then the most magical thing happened; an elementary school teacher introduced me to poetry. Words began to sing upon the tongue of this lisping child. The moon waltzed a velvet path, and the sun painted peony clouds. Words and nature romanced me. I wanted to be a poet. In high school a teacher encouraged my creative writing. Though I did not pursue it, I dreamed of a journalism/writing career.

Throughout the years, I scribbled my heart away. I shred, burned, or hid the papers onto which my words took life. The only words read by anyone were the ones required for English class.

Then I became a mother. Though I told stories to my children, I stopped putting them on paper. When they got older I started a few novels but never finished any of them. I published a few poems. I contemplated going to college and decided it was too late in life to begin a writing career.

My love of writing must have been evident to those around me because I still had people nurturing my creative process. My dear friend, Patti, invited me to a church event put on by a writer’s group. We were both amazed and immediately inquired how to join the group which we did. Patti has been my always faithful friend who inspires gratitude to God and His many blessings in my life. I was challenged and began to write once again.

A friend from my childhood reentered my life shortly after. She happened to write on a personal blog. I was intrigued. I’d never even heard of a blog, but it sounded like a great place to post some of my writings. I sent her an email and asked her how to write a blog post. She came over a few days later and set up a blog for me. Still feeling vulnerable, I wrote under the pseudo of SuziCate. (This is a shortened version of my given name though my friends and family did not know me by this name.) Karal is my friend who developed my trust of the writing process. She showed me it is acceptable to question life. She motivated me to look within myself rather than others for answers. She helped me find freedom and courage within my writing.

My husband and I started hiking again and, the unexpected occurred. I developed a spiritual connection to nature, and found my roots. This became evident in my writing as I found my voice. My dream of writing became more of a reality though my focus changed. I no longer visualized fame or success. I wanted to be an encourager, a beacon of hope and love. While I still hope to complete the novel I am currently working on, more importantly I want to be a voice of reassurance to others. If my words touch only one person in a positive way His gifts will have not been wasted on me.

 

****The paperback version of Stepping into the Wilderness is now available at this link.

Sink Or Swim

Stepping into the Wilderness cover to cover (593x429)

So, I’ve been sitting on two manuscripts for eight months. I didn’t research any publishers. I just sat on them in fear…you know the sink or swim theory? Well, I came to the conclusion (I’m a slow learner at times!) that I can’t possibly swim if I don’t jump in the water.

I often tell my own children to do their best and one asked me why I hadn’t published yet… When the words I tell others smacked me in the face I decided to get with it. I formatted the manuscripts for Kindle and print. And then, I actually pushed the publish button on the first one. The second one will come along in a few weeks.

I found there’s a big difference between book formatting and kindle formatting…and even bigger issues when using a significant amount of photographs. Due to the expense of color printing, my paperback version will be in black and white. I would have to price my book too high to even break even, and would still take a loss per book with expanded distribution. I want it affordable and accessible.

The first book is titled Stepping into the Wilderness. It is book of sixty affirmations. Each has an accompanying photograph and is followed by a set of five questions for pondering or journaling to promote inner growth and a set of five writing exercises/prompts to enrich the writing experience. Here’s the link to the Kindle version.

The second book is titled Swimming the River. It has the same premise of sixty affirmations, photographs, questions and exercises. This one will be published within the next few weeks.

These books are part one and two of a series called Responsible Living. In all, each book contains a total of six hundred questions/prompts/exercises for the reflective person.

The print version of Stepping into the Wilderness will be available in a few days. I will post the link when it becomes available as well as when the second book hits the market. Here is the link to the Kindle version of Stepping into the Wilderness.

Update: Link to paperback version.

It feels good to get my feet wet. Sink or Swim…I guess we’ll see.

Into The Night

“The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.” ~Haruki Murakami, Dance, Dance, Dance

Valentine Sky 001

I sit outside in the chilly February night air. Stars illuminate in a dusky pinkish sky.  The crescent moon tucks itself in the back of the neighborhood, slipping between the tree limbs and roof tops.  At first I can’t find the moon, but its glow gives up its hiding place. The stars seem to be playing hide n’ seek as well…that is, until I realize the twinkling ones are actually airplanes. Still, it’s a clear night for stars and such. The arms of the trees reach for the stars, their sprawling fingers almost clutching them.

Valentine Sky 002

Here I sit on Valentine’s Night, with a glass of wine in my hand, back and forth I swing. No barking dogs or chirping crickets. All is quiet except the hum of life. One would miss that low vibration of time unless they were listening for it. Of course, if I focus, I do hear cars zipping up and down the boulevard, but that is a noise I am mostly accustomed to drowning out.

I enjoy this time, the time I am able to slip out and be by myself. I’m sitting at the throne of God. Miracles abound…all around me they exist, whether I acknowledge them as such or not. The world is a grand place, and I am a fortunate woman. Right here, right now, all is well. I am where I am supposed to be.

Even if you don’t think so, you are right where you are supposed to be. Right here, right now. This is your lesson in life. Breathe it deeply. Let it fill the marrow of your bones.  Be grateful for this moment. For it will never come again. Live this moment and the next. Breathe. Live. Rejoice. This moment is yours.

Valentine Sky 003

Just Another Heart Day

fibric collage and valentine bear 011

“Today is going to be the worst day of your life,” I told myself. Staring at my freckled face and frizzy hair in the mirror I continued, “You are ugly. Who could ever love you?”

I silently beat myself up on the bus ride to school. The girls around me were all chipper talking about who was getting flowers, stuffed animals, cards, and what they hoped they’d be getting.

I thought maybe today would be the day HE professed his love for me. Who was I kidding? I didn’t need the proof of humiliation. I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

In between classes I watched boys and girls arm in arm walking the halls. Some carrying flowers or balloons. Others, candy. And some just that smitten smile I so hated. I counted the bouquets of flowers until I lost count.

Then in one class the girl who sat in front of me, a girl I didn’t think had a boyfriend, one who even I considered homely, got flowers delivered to her. I leaned over her shoulder and said, “lucky you.” She whispered back, “not really. They’re from my parents.” I thought if that was me I’d probably lie and say I had a boyfriend that didn’t go to this school. For a moment I was consoled with the thought that probably half of those flowers came from parents. Then I felt depressed mine didn’t think to send me any.

My day among the happy go lucky girls in love soon ended and I headed home. I knew there was one last chance. At the bus stop where we changed buses. HE was older and wasn’t in school any longer, but he often came by the bus stop to talk or give me a ride the rest of the way home.

Sure enough after sitting at the stop a few minutes, HIS car pulled up. I kept my head resting between my arms against the seat in front of me, pretending not to see him. He walked over and banged on the outside of the window. I pulled the window down. He made small talk. No offer of a ride home. No card. No nothing. I could feel heat spreading across my face. I held back the tears as my heart was being ripped wide open. He even had the nerve to ask me how many gifts other boys had given me. I nearly died to have to say none. I wanted to tell him I’d gotten something, anything at all, but the resident jerk was beside me smirking and I knew he’d call me out. Still no card, no nothing. He left. The resident jerk said something snotty like, “not even a card?” I wanted to punch him.

The rest of the evening I sulked at home. Then I had to endure the questions from my mother about whether any boy gave me a card or anything. And then I had to listen how it was their loss, not mine. Mothers try so hard to be kind but tend to make things worse.

Valentine’s Day when I was sixteen sucked. I mean totally sucked. It meant I was grouped in with the unloved. You know the “girls WITHOUT boyfriends”. Yep, that’s how I was defined. At least by me and I thought by every girl in the school WITH boyfriends. Yes at sixteen, having a boyfriend made you someone, someone who was loved.

Thirty-three years later I sit here reading Facebook comments. A couple read, “Valentines is over-rated” and “Valentines is too commercialized”. They’re right, but the bottom line is they don’t have significant others. I want to tell them it’s much more important to have someone who shows you he loves you in small ways every day rather than a big display one day of the year. You see, I’ve lived many Valentine’s days since that really awful one. I’ve received great displays of affection over the years…in all honesty, I’d rather have the million little things every day that prove real love, a deep abiding one, not the kind on show for the world. Some years I get flowers, candy, a card, or dinner out. Sometimes all of those things. Don’t get me wrong, they are nice, but truly not necessary. I think every day should be a heart day. Shower those you love with affection daily…that’s the most important thing of all.

Wylie's boytoy, Rex" waits for her at the fence line every morning. Notice how he puts his paws underneath to our side!

Wylie’s boytoy, Rex” waits for her at the fence line every morning. Notice how he puts his paws underneath to our side!

Is Wylie smitten?

Is Wylie smitten?

fibric collage and valentine bear 016

This Valentine bear was bought years ago by one of my sons for his girlfriend who broke up with him a few days before Valentine’s Day. Wylie is chewing up the bear…my husband says this is what you call poetic justice!

When Patience And Persistence Butt Heads

Mountain weekend 086

I have no problem waiting my turn for things. I don’t mind waiting in line or for other people to do things…that is unless they are dawdling. Still, I am an impatient person. Yes, when I ask someone to do something for me I expect it to have already been done YESTERDAY. See, my problem is that I won’t ask for help when I need it. I wait until I’ve exhausted all measures; you know, like I’ve failed attempts four or five times. Because I know I get aggravated waiting for someone to do something (like take out the trash or hang a picture) I just do it myself. And yes, sometimes my efforts are half-hearted.

Perhaps this problem of mine has more to do with control than I’d like to admit. Because I am aware of this fault if the task is something I cannot do alone I try to ask for assistance well before I need it to be completed. I also remind myself not to nag. Now being a woman, that alone is some feat to accomplish!

About three weeks ago we had several pictures that needed to be hung. I hung about half of them  and relocated several existing wall hangings while the hubby was at work. I pulled my back out in the process. See what I get for my impatience? Two weeks passed and the hubby still hadn’t hung the others. One was too heavy and awkward for me to handle. The other set of four were being placed along the stairwell which required the precision (measuring) of my engineer husband. I casually asked, “When were you planning to hang those pictures?” A week later when I was shopping with a friend he not only hung all the frames but did some household repairs (ones I’ve been waiting on for a long time!) as well. So, does this mean patience pays off instead of persistence?

The other thing about impatience I need to learn is that “haste makes waste”. I was in a hurry to finish a quilt: I knocked a new bottle of Fresh Press off my ironing board and broke the sprayer. I failed to properly measure something I cut. I ran my machine at top speed resulting in a crooked corner. I’m sure I probably made more mistakes, but who’s counting? Though I finished, I wound up frustrated.

Writing takes both patience and persistence. I mean a novel won’t write itself. I have to allow myself time to work out plotlines and scenes in my head and then I must be diligent in putting them on paper. Sometimes it takes several rewrites and edits to perfect a scene and then it has to flow into the next scene. This is where both patience and persistence comes in. The only way I get anywhere is by taking time off and coming back to it with a fresh perspective.

These days my main problem is not patience or persistence but prioritizing. I’m learning to divide my free time between sewing and writing by simply going where my soul soars and not letting the guilt of what’s left behind hold me back.

When I Grow Up…

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. ~Carl Sandburg

Work in progress - quilt to donate to Relay for Life

Work in progress – quilt to donate to Relay for Life

There never seems to be enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do. It’s as if the Great Magician waves a wand and the day disappears with much still undone. Yes, I do run a business full time, and I’m tired at the end of the day. And yes, I do have a lot of ongoing projects. And yes again, I actually do get a lot accomplished….but there’s so much more I want to do! I just need more time.

We just don’t know when time will run out. I wish someone had emphasized that when I was younger. They probably did but in my youth I thought I had all the time in the world. I had no idea how quickly it would slip away. Now, I realize the importance of prioritizing, nourishing my soul, resting my body, and spending time enjoying the company of the ones I love.

I haven’t been posting as often because I haven’t had much to say. I’m still working (slowly!) on my novel. I am quilting like there’s no tomorrow. This weekend, I cleaned out my fabric stash and shopped with a friend to replenish it. I’ve started an online fiber arts class. I figure you guys are probably a bit tired of seeing posts of my creative endeavors so I set up a fiber arts blog. I know, like I need one more thing to do! Anyway, the title of my fiber arts blog is The Renegade Stitcher. I haven’t posted anything yet, but I will soon.

How I wish I’d had the same interests years ago so I could have started my creative journey earlier. I’ve come to the realization I might never do all I really want to do, so I must fast forward to those things most important. The problem is after all these years I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up…

Today's Inspiration

Today’s Inspiration