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27 01, 2020

Leftover Christmas

By |2020-01-26T10:35:53-06:00January 27th, 2020|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Christmas is long gone. January 2020 is fading fast, finally. Why is it January seems ten times longer than the rest of the months? But I digress.

A former schoolteacher, I love decorating for holidays. I guess it’s a holdover from all those bulletin boards I had to do. I have boxes for Valentine’s, St. Patrick Day, Texas Independence Day, 4th of July, and, since I live in Texas again, boxes of Fall décor. Then comes Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and there are several boxes of those.

Anyway, I’m getting out my February decorations box for Valentine’s Day and what do I find? Leftover Christmas.

I’m surprised guests who’ve been to the house didn’t notice.

Maybe not the counted cross stitch Merry Christmas heart, but the guest hand towels were pretty obviously leftovers. I  guess they pretended not to notice.

I appreciate the kindness.

The leftover discovery was really disconcerting. I believed I had all Christmas tucked away by Epiphany. That’s January 6, my yearly goal though it doesn’t always happen. Oblivious.

This year I honestly thought I’d aced the put away Christmas. Then this discovery.

I’d feel badly except I still see Christmas clearance items in stores next to Valentine’s Day merchandise. Unlike those retail stores who will hang onto leftover Christmas until it’s reduced to practically free, I’ve stuffed my two little leftovers in their boxes to come out again next Christmas.

20 01, 2020

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day = National Day of Service

By |2020-01-17T13:14:17-06:00January 20th, 2020|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Martin Luther King, Jr. believed life’s most persistent and urgent question was:

‘What are you doing for others?’

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the federally established day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy.

On the National Day of Service everyone is encouraged to volunteer to improve our communities. Something, in my opinion, we should consider more than one day a year.

If you can only manage one day, then make it this one.

And, whatever you choose to do today, think about this excerpt from one of my favorite King quotes:

“… anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.
You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Looking for ideas on how you can serve? Find opportunities available in your  community here you’ll need to enter your zip code.

13 01, 2020

What Day Is It?

By |2020-01-13T16:08:03-06:00January 13th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Besides Monday, I mean.

According to National Day Calendar, it’s National Rubber Ducky Day.

The friend of Ernie and Big Bird made his debut on Sesame Street in the 1970s. Ernie sat in a tub and sang the rubber duck song.

My kids loved playing with their rubber duckies in the bathtub and singing Ernie’s song. Our dogs destroyed at least a thousand rubber duck squeakers over the years.

Then were all the rubber duck races. We’ve purchased floating yellow ducks for fundraiser events then watched the duckies float down the Rio Grande River.

Our ducks never won the race, but I didn’t mind what we spent went to a charity.

So, what’s the best way to celebrate this auspicious day? Take a bath with a yellow rubber duck while singing the Rubber Duck song, of course.

Now that you know, how will you celebrate National Rubber Duck Day?

So many ducks... Ducking hell

6 01, 2020

New Year – Let’s Begin

By |2020-01-06T06:36:32-06:00January 6th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

We’re almost one week into 2020. It’s gonna be an awesome year! New Years always excite me.

Fresh slate!

New focus!

I refuse to make New Year’s resolutions cause I tend to abandon those by the end of the first month.

I’m saying FOCUS.

My primary 2020 focus is to finish book 3 in the Fitzpatrick Family series to make up to all my faithful readers for not getting  a book out last year.

You see, 2019’s manuscript – Seeing Clearly – was a finalist in the West Houston RWA Emily Contest Romantic Suspense category. Hoping for good news in February when finalists are announced.

Click here to see all the other category finalists.

So, what’s your focus for 2020? Are you starting something new? Or finishing something from 2019?

18 11, 2019

Two Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

By |2019-11-05T16:36:49-06:00November 18th, 2019|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday, Thanksgiving|1 Comment

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that in order to achieve contentment, we should “cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”

Blogging about thankfulness and gratitude in November is cliché. But this is the time of year when we pause to focus our thoughts on being thankful.

Most of us will have a thankful attitude on Thanksgiving Day. Too often, though, our thankful attitude wanes for the rest of the year.

I’d like to suggest two ways to focus an attitude of thankfulness beyond one Thursday in November.

Use social media

Create posts, pictures, videos, and tweets that  cultivate thankfulness on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Heaven knows we get enough of wars, earthquakes, floods, fires, sick children, murdered spouses and, lately, politics.

Research shows good news spreads faster and farther than disasters and sob stories. Why not counter the suffering and mayhem of mass media coverage and sharing positive, uplifting posts, memes, and videos to encourage attitudes of thankfulness in yourself and others?

Keep a gratitude list

Writing down what you’re thankful for everyday reinforces positive thoughts and grateful feelings.

Can you think of other ways to foster gratitude?

11 11, 2019

Veterans Day Gratitude

By |2019-11-10T11:16:33-06:00November 11th, 2019|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

November 11 is Veterans Day.

Do you know the origins of Veterans Day? Why it’s not a normal four-day weekend holiday like so many of our other federal holidays?

This two-minute video from the History Channel provides the Cliff Note answers.

I love that the day falls in November now and not October.

After all, November and Thanksgiving and gratitude are so interlinked, it’s only right that we pause today to say “thank you” to a friend, a relative, or a co-worker who is a U.S. military veteran or active member of the military.

These men and women have made tremendous personal sacrifices so that we enjoy freedoms unheard of in so many nations of the world.

It’s been said, “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”

Don’t let that happen today! Find a vet and say, “thank you!”

4 11, 2019

C.S. Lewis Advice to Writers

By |2019-11-03T11:00:59-06:00November 4th, 2019|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

C.S. Lewis is probably best known for his The Chronicles of Narnia. His Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been made into three major motion pictures. He’s also the author of The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, and The Great Divorce.

His biography is fascinating. Did you know he and J.R.R. Tolkien were friends? Want to learn more? Click here.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=826864

Lewis has long been a favorite author of mine. He is, after all, Irish. Born in Belfast, the The Mountains of Mourne inspired him to write The Chronicles of Narnia.

I’ve read the Narnia books to my children and grandchildren. Recently, I read a blog that shared some of his advice to budding young writers from his Letters to Children.

I wasn’t familiar with that book but discovered great advice that applies to writers regardless of age or what you write.

Four of pieces of his advice were very familiar. All were things I’ve heard repeatedly in workshops, podcasts, and from editors.

  1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
  2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
  3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do.
  4. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feelabout the things you are describing. (I’d add the same thing applies to the use of adverbs.)

Lewis elaborates on Number four: “I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful;” make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.”

His advice boils down to immersing the reader in your story. It’s so much easier to just tell a story. Today editors use terms like show, don’t tell, write for emotional impact, and keep it simple.

Which of Lewis’ four pieces of advice to authors is most important to you as you read?

28 10, 2019

Reading Together

By |2019-10-26T13:58:38-05:00October 28th, 2019|Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

I saw a fun meme recently of two people reading while sitting in the back of an SUV with piles of books around them. It made me think about how we interact with other book lovers.

We talk about the books, we  share books, and we belong to book clubs. But how often do we actually sit quietly together and read ?

I’m picturing the old silent reading days where on certain school days all the students brought a book to read. I loved those days. Silent Reading days are probably why I’m such a voracious reader today.

My writer’s heart speeds up when I see someone reading like I am in a waiting room. That’s kinda like reading together. But I’m picturing the days before television and radio when evenings were spent reading.

Nowadays that would mean turning off all the electronics and television, but it’s doable. Sometimes, Hubby-dear and I do just that.

Think about it, reading together could be the best response to this noisy world.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

21 10, 2019

Egrets, Egrets

By |2019-10-20T12:32:15-05:00October 21st, 2019|Make Me Think Monday|2 Comments

The blog title might suggest I’m blogging about how to respond to an e-invite or invitation. I’m not.

I’m talking about are the small white herons that are seen in fields with cows. They’re about 20 inches long with a 36-inch wingspan when they fly and stand in a hunched position.

Recently, I spotted the white birds wandering in and out of cattle  at the edge of a friend and fellow writer’s pasture pond.

“Oh, those are cowbirds,” she said.

We begin to discuss how we always see cowbirds but had no idea why the name. or anything about the bird. That led to some research. Writers do love their research.

Cattle Egrets are native to Africa but somehow reached South American in the 1870s and migrated up. By the 1960s the white birds were documented as far north as Canada, west as far as California and east as far as Florida. Since Texas is about in the middle of those three, that would explain why we see so many of the birds in our cow pastures.

Sometimes the birds can be confused with Snowy Egrets. If you look closely, you’ll see a thicker neck, an orange or yellow bill, and dirty yellow legs and feet. Snowy Egrets like wet, water feeding.

Cowbird egrets prefer foraging field grass and pastures for the crickets, grasshoppers, and other insects the cattle hoofs stir up. They also clean the cows’ hide of ticks and fleas. That’s why you’ll see them on the cows’ backs and pecking the legs.

Their name comes from the grazing animals they team up with to forage. In other places, they are known as cow cranes, cow herons, cow birds, elephant birds, rhinoceros egrets, and hippopotamus egrets.

Breeding season runs April through September and depending on the arrival of fall even into October. Fall is running late here in southeast Texas and that’s why there are still so many cattle egrets this year.

My romance writer heart fluttered to learn they pair up and nest in established heronries year after year.

Now the next time you’re driving and spot a long-legged white bird on a cow’s back, you can wow your audience with tidbits of trivia.

If you really want to impress, throw in this little fact.

The oldest Cattle Egret on record was at least 17 years old when it was captured and released in Pennsylvania in 1979. It had been banded in Maryland in 1962.

14 10, 2019

Wearing of the Pink

By |2019-10-05T16:10:38-05:00October 14th, 2019|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

October brings a flood of pink, specifically pink ribbons. Since 1992, the wearing of a pink ribbon has been the international symbol of breast cancer awareness.

Ever wonder where ribbons and symbolism all started?

Penney Laingen, wife of a hostage who’d been taken prisoner in Iran in 1979 started the trend. Inspired by the song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” she tied yellow ribbons around the trees in her front yard to await her husband’s return.

Yellow ribbons were used again to remember soldiers fighting and dying in the Gulf War. AIDS activists piggybacked on that, turned the ribbon red, and sent it on stage Jeremy Irons’ chest for the Tony Awards.

That propelled charitable organizations to begin using colored ribbon campaigns for their causes.

The first ribbon for breast cancer awareness was a peach-colored loop handmade by Charlotte Haley whose granddaughter, sister, and mother had battled breast cancer. She passed out sets of five along with a card that read: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”

Evelyn Lauder wanted to enhance upon Haley’s idea. Lauder had her lawyers approach Haley, who refused to relinquish her grassroots, word-of-mouth project. Lauder’s lawyers advised her to come up with a different color and she did.

She traded peach for pink and put pink grosgrain ribbons on cosmetics counters across the country promoting her Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

Pink is playful, life-affirming and studies show it has a calming, quietening effect and lessens stress, according to the Color Association of the United States. It’s perfect to symbolize everything breast cancer is not.

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation gave a pink ribbon to runners in its New York City Race in 1991. The origins of the Run for the Cure ribbon is here.

And, so the pink ribbons we wear every October became the icon for awareness and and show moral support for those with breast cancer.

If you’re like me, you have one or more friends or family members who have been affected by breast cancer. I’ll be wearing a pink ribbon this month.

How about you?

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