Another Book Up For Grabs!

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Swimming the River has just been published and is available for sale.  

As Part Two of the Responsible Living series, it continues the journey started with Stepping into the Wilderness. This one focuses a bit more on authenticity and creativity.

As I did with the last book, I have a free one up for grabs. Just leave a comment, and I will select a random number to determine the winner which will be posted on Tuesday.

While I do like the color photos on the kindle version, I prefer a paperback when I’m reading a book with prompts/exercises.

All of my books for my signing arrived yesterday. I gave one to my UPS guy and he became as excited as I was…see, happiness really is contagious!

Together We Can Heal The World, Or At Least We Can Try

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This week has been a week of watching lives fall apart, both on Facebook and in person. My heart is aching. Marriages are hurting. Families are in peril. The work place is downsizing. The economy sucks. People are in pain.

I want to curl into my own little world and relish the peace, bask in the love, and forget the agony so close by I can almost reach out and touch it. My heart won’t allow me to do that. I carry their pain in my heart. I shed tears for those I love, and even those I don’t know as well. What can I do other than offer kind words and dish out hugs?

I know to never take for granted the smiles on faces around me. We never know what the other guy is going through. We never know the real struggles they are facing. Even when they publicly acknowledge struggle there is still much personal heartache held inside.

When we speak, act, or react, we must remember how many others are affected by our words or actions. It not only affects those around us, but the ripple extends to those we don’t even know. Lives are altered. One single word can make all the difference either way.

Today I choose to think beyond myself. I choose to consider the other person’s feelings. I choose to think before I speak. I pray my words will help not hinder others. I pray I will not rush to decisions. I pray to give myself time to act rather than react. I pray for grace in all situations. I pray for healing. I pray for peace. I pray for love to lead the way. I choose to have faith.

Taking The Long Way

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As children, my siblings and I played with the children who lived two doors down. As you can image there was much traffic of small feet coming and going between houses. We had three routes to get to one another’s home.  The first one involved going down the length of our driveways and hitting the main road. The second was making our way through the brush and briars in the darkened woods. The third was to zip through the yard of the neighbor between us. We opted to take the short cut through the neighbor’s yard.

After a period of time we cut a well-worn path right through the grass. Our neighbors were really nice people who adored children but also kept an immaculate yard. As they would never endanger our safety, they didn’t ask us to take the road or roam through the woods, but they did ask us to create another path at the very edge of their yard which ran along the woods.

A few times we did take the road. The speeding cars frightened me, not to mention the smell of the fumes. And of course, if we happened to be barefoot in the summer, there was the heat of the asphalt and the pain of loose gravel cutting our feet. However, we could hear the roar of the river so loudly we could almost feel the coolness of the water’s mist. If we peered over the bank edges we could see the water falling in spits and splurges over the dam. The sun sparkled like diamonds across the river’s surface and occasionally we would watch a fish jump up and form a splash and a ring in the water.

When we went through the woods, we could hear the gruff voices of men working in the soapstone plant below. I was always afraid someone was watching us. And of course, during the summer months we feared getting bitten by a snake or contacting poison oak or ivy. However, we could listen to the slight gurgle of the stream below, the twitter and song of the blue jays and robins, and the scurrying of the squirrels. If we were barefoot we could feel the cool dampness of the forest floor. We could see more tones of green among the moss, weeds, and leaves than we knew existed. And we always scored a wild daisy or other pretty bloom along our way.

Often in life we fear taking the long route. We prefer instant gratification. We want to save time. We insist on short cuts. How much do we miss out on due to fear or impatience?

Next time you attempt to take yet another short cut, take a deep breath and go the long way. You never know what you might see, hear, feel, or learn along the way.

Using Heart To Craft Your Life Stories

Sharon Lippincott is graciously hosting me at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing. Her blog is a wealth of information for the memoir writer. Sharon not only teaches the craft but how to use your heart so your words are just another story. Sharon’s warmth and love of her craft will keep you coming back.

I am sharing with you a piece of memoir and following with questions and exercises akin to the style in my book. Please come visit me.

Pounding The Pavement

This photo I took of a green egret never fails to crack me up. He seems to be saying, "Take me as I am, goofiness and all!"

This photo I took of a green egret never fails to crack me up. He seems to be saying, “Take me as I am, goofiness and all!”

I suck at marketing.  Perhaps, I don’t so much suck at it as I simply dislike it. I’m not good at selling myself. I worry people will think me narcissistic when trying to sell my book. I try not to inundate the world with constant Facebook posts, and even though I’m a twit I refuse to tweet.

That said, I know in marketing a book, one must sell themselves. I got up Saturday morning and decided to pitch my book locally. My goal was to get a book signing. I decided to start small by going to my local Barnes & Noble, and two other places I had in mind.

First I went to Barnes & Noble. Of course, the manager who handles events was not in on weekends. I did leave my book and contact information, and she gave me the manager’s info. If I don’t hear back in a few days, I will force myself to make that call.

I made a short stop at a local center for performing arts. I was really unsure but decided to give it a shot. They jumped through hoops to find someone to help me. A manager on duty gave me a card with the name and number of someone who schedules their events. Though the people there were kind, I wasn’t as hopeful. I think it is most likely only a venue for paid events.

Next I hit The Daily Grind, a coffee shop. The manager was not in, but the guy working there met with open arms and tremendous enthusiasm. He said they were looking for local talent because they want to do more book signings and art events. I left my book and we exchanged information as well. I felt really good about this place since he all but booked the event.

I then went to The Royal Chocolate, and was overwhelmed with the generosity of the owner there. She wants me to pick the date and time I want to come. She’s even throwing in a hot cocoa for anyone who buys a book from me. We talked at length, and will meet up again before the event. I have to settle on a date first. I’m was really excited about this meeting.

I headed over to my local library to donate a book for circulation. The girl there said she thought they’d be delighted for me to do a signing and took my information. I felt optimistic about my chat with her.

My last stop was my favorite neighborhood spot, Grape and Gourmet. I’m a regular there, but the owner was floored when I asked her about a signing….she didn’t know I was a writer. (How do you like that? I finally called myself a writer!) Anyway, she said absolutely she’d do it for me since I was a friend. Not only did she offer me a signing date but she gave me two dates. I’m scheduled for Friday night, April 12, during wine tasting and then again the next day for their Cheap and Cheery event. She wanted me to have optimum exposure. See, all my wine drinking has paid off, lol!

I didn’t even make it out of my own neighborhood…next time, (Did I really say next time?) I’ll venture a bit farther…

Anyway, trying to sell yourself is a scary thing. Wonder if prostitutes feel that way? Ok, ok, I know selling books is a totally different scenario…

Hanging With Chicken Wire And Paper Flowers

I’m out visiting again. I’m over at Becky’s talking about success. If you don’t know Becky, she is over at Chicken Wire and Paper Flowers. Now, who doesn’t just love the name of this blog? Becky is always cooking up something yummy, stitching something together, or out around Charlottesville trying new adventures. She’s quite the daredevil…I’ve even seen her don a beekeeper suit. Come over and have a glass of wine with us…we’ll pretend it’s after five!

Getting Along

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” – Peace Pilgrim

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This pair of cardinals frequents my backyard. This Rose of Sharon is their favorite perch. They sit there for hours watching the activity of the squirrels and other birds. They used to flutter to higher ground or fly off when Wylie and her friend, Rex, played in the yard. They feared the dogs until they came to be familiar with them. Now, the dogs can scamper about the yard and beneath the tree, and the red birds seem to guard them.

Daily we come in contact with those different from ourselves. They might look, act, or think differently. Some adjust their thinking or try things their way. Others feel they must force their beliefs on them and change them. Do they do it out of fear? It is a matter of control?.

I think we can peacefully coexist. I don’t think anyone else need convert their ways or thoughts to mine nor do I to theirs. I think we can and should be respectful of one another. Perhaps we should focus on similarities rather than differences. When we replace our fear with love we will come to accept and value individuality.

To Each His Own Time

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They say timing is everything.

There are times things which happen after the fact.

Some things seem to occur way too early.

Other things happen in what we consider due time.

But what do we know of other people’s timing?

These daffodils bloomed mid-February, what I consider way too early for this part of the states. We’ve had some extremely cold weather, even snow flurries a few times. They survived fifty-five mile an hour winds with the storm a few nights ago. The yellow blooms radiate in last year’s garden of drab, dead foliage. On this gray day I look out the window and see the little suns in the garden smiling at me.

Who am I to tell the daffodils they arrived too early for the spring party? They bring such joy perhaps their timing is perfect.

Sometimes the universe lines things accordingly and our efforts are met with open arms and hearts.

When there is something you need to do and keep procrastinating, perhaps it’s your heart telling you it isn’t time yet.

When you’ve failed at something, maybe it doesn’t mean your idea wasn’t good, but your timing was off. If your heart leads to try again, maybe the universe has everything in alignment.

Only you know the timing of your soul. Follow your instincts and bring forth your warmth to radiate the world like those early daffodils.

A Moment Of Hypocrisy

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I have to give you a little back-story before I admit what I did. My father was a drinker and my mother was a teetotaler. For many years I drank only in social situations. It has only been in the last ten years I developed a taste for wine and only in the past couple I’ve discovered I enjoy craft beer.

You see years ago I hung out with a group of ladies my age at church. We went on lots of women’s retreats and just plain had a good time in one another’s company. There was this one woman who was a riot. She kept us in stitches with her shenanigans. She also managed to stash some liquor in her suitcase. I mean like a half gallon of Southern Comfort. Though I wasn’t much of a drinker I’d have one with the girls when we got back to the hotel room.

On one retreat, we had two beach houses. Most of us from our group were assigned to the “fun house”. Anyway, one of the retreat leaders, a revered lady slightly older than us frowned upon alcohol, or so I was told. Well, this same friend smuggled in her liquor. The others kept warning her to not let the retreat leader lady find out because she wouldn’t be happy about it. I was surprised they felt drinking had to be hidden. I’d never thought there was anything wrong with the partaking of alcohol. Now getting drunk and showing your butt is a different thing entirely, but that wasn’t what was going on.

I am reminded of those days occasionally when I see one of my Methodist friends post on Facebook about drinking wine, going to a bar, or partaking in alcohol for pleasurable purposes. I love that they don’t hide it from the other parishioners.  I like when people own their actions. I dislike when people judge others.

So here’s my confession. The “grocery store” wine I like is Apothic Red. B.Js carries it for two bucks a bottle less than the grocery store, so when I go there I stock up. I was in B.J.s pushing my cart around with four (Yes, I said FOUR – I told you I stock up, so don’t be judging me!) bottles of wine and who should I see. Yes, retreat lady and her hubby. I did a wheel- about mid aisle to avoid them, but too late. They called out to me. I smiled and said hello and continued in the opposite direction. Now, who’s a hypocrite? Yeah, apparently I am. I went home and told my hubby what I’d done and told him I couldn’t believe I didn’t just pull up to them with my FOUR BOTTLES OF WINE and converse. He laughed and said he’d have done the same thing…I mean no one wants to be the topic at the next Sunday’s sermon.

Now, if you’re going to judge me, remember Jesus and his disciples drank wine and the Monks drank only beer…second tidbit is courtesy of my favorite wine and craft beer store. Thing is, I think they did it openly!

Hi, my name is Susan. I don’t want to be a hypocrite so here goes: I like wine. I also enjoy a good craft beer. Ahhh, I feel so much better now!