Wednesday, December 31, 2014

consider this question

Before you sign your name to your list of New Year's Resolutions this year, consider this question:

The possibilities are endless, and they are different for each of us. Lose weight, train for a marathon, go vegetarian, smile more, go back to school, revise your manuscript, protect the environment, travel more, save more, and on and on.
In addition, you might consider trying to:

or to

or, if you left something undone in 2014 you might want to

If you still can't decide what to attempt in 2015, take Eleanor Roosevelt's advice:

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 25, 2014

pure joy and boundless hope

Merry Christmas!
If I could make just one person this happy on Christmas Day
my joy would be complete:

Wishing you tears of
pure, unadulterated joy this Christmas...
a New Year full of boundless hope.
"Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul,
and sings the song without words,
and never stops at all."
~Emily Dickinson~

Sunday, December 21, 2014

welcoming winter


By now, my family and friends are probably tired of hearing me wish them a Merry White Christmas. To them a snowy Christmas means that guests may not make it in time for the festivities. The kids might not get home. It means getting snarled up in traffic as they scramble to pick up the last gift or two. They may not make it to the grocery store.
I get it...but still, I love winter and I would give anything for a white Christmas. Why?

"It is the hope of the crystal,
the architect of the flake,
the fire of the frost,
the soul of the sunbeam.
This crisp winter air is full of it."
~John Burroughs~

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep..."
~Robert Frost~
"When I no longer thrill to the first snow of the season.
I'll know I'm growing old."
~Lady Bird Johnson~
"I prefer winter and fall--
when you can feel the bone structure of the landscape--
the loneliness of it--
the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it.
The whole story doesn't show."
~Andrew Wyeth~
"When snow falls,
nature listens."
~Antoinette von Kleeff~
"I am younger each year at the first snow.
When I see it, suddenly, in the air
all little and white and moving,
then I am in love again and
I believe everything."
~Ann Sexton~
See what I mean?
Happy Winter Solstice!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas presence

Are you ready for Christmas? I am. I'm as ready as I can be given the fact that this isn't the easiest celebration to pull off every year. A snowstorm could sweep in and ruin everything. A common cold can lay a person low.
But that's not what worries me.

The problem is that I have friends who are sick, in fact, that this could be the last Christmas they see. I have friends who are grieving. I know people who are lonely. Angry. Depressed.

And, most likely you do, too.

The holidays have a way of putting life's inevitable struggles into perspective. The bright lights and merry carols that the rest of us enjoy can dampen the spirits, deepen the grief, and aggravate the loneliness that so many feel at this time of the year.

I wish everyone could be happy at Christmastime. That everyone had hope. That everyone was at peace. It's hard to know what to do for those who aren't. What good are presents when pain is the problem?

When this happens, I am left to reflect on what I think would be helpful to me if the tables were turned:

If I were sick, if I were the one receiving chemo, or struggling against pain, I would want a friend at my bedside.

Don't bother bringing me fuzzy pink slippers or flowers or food...unless, of course, it makes you which case, bring it on! Even though it's your presence I need.

If I were grieving the loss of a loved one--my spouse, or one of my children, or my best friend--I would want you to sit at the kitchen table with me and share stories--the sweet, funny, important moments that we enjoyed with them.

I'll make the tea. You bring the cookies.
If my house turned to splinters in a storm, or I lost my job, or my marriage went south I would need you to hold me up, to cheer me on, to shelter me if it came to that. Don't say, "Call me if you need anything." I would need everything and I wouldn't have the strength to pick up the phone. Just come. Sit. Stay.
One of the best presents we can give is exactly that--our presence. Our halting, not-sure-what-to-do-or-say presence. Our I'll-be-here-for-you-no-matter-what friendship. Our I-wish-I-could-do-more-for-you selves.

This post is dedicated to family and friends who are grieving the loss of a beloved friend and gentle patriarch this week. RIP, Paul.
"The just man, though he die early,
shall be at rest.
For the age that is honorable
comes not with the passing of time,
nor can it be measured in years."
~Wisdom 4:7-8~

Monday, December 8, 2014

how to read a book, for writers

HOW TO READ A BOOK (For Writers)
Always read a book with a pen in your hand.
This affords you the opportunity to underline and codify the passages you like for easy reference later on: 
*--remember this
:)--cute, clever, or funny

Of course, you can always use color-coded post-its to do the same thing:

But, a pen also enables you to jot down notes as you go along... well as keep a list of words whose definitions you need to look up some time later on:

Why bother??
Because every fresh metaphor, every snappy line of dialogue, every new word we encounter makes us better writers. What we learn through recovery, reflection, and repetition elevates our work. Reading makes us better writers, and writing makes us better readers.
And...if you think writing is boring,
you could be doing that wrong, too.
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