Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 30

At the beginning of this month, I gave myself two goals:

  1. To write a daily reflection on gratitude. I think it’s an important method to happiness . To look around and feel grateful. It’s too easy to fall into a negative thought process because things don’t always go in the direction that I’d like. I came up a few days shy of making my goal. But, I accomplished what I wanted – to look around for reasons to feel thankful.
  2. To take the NaNoWriMo challenge. I wanted write a novel during the month of November. I needed to write a minimum of 50,000 words. I hit my goal on Monday,  the 27, but I guess I’m too wordy. I need more than 50,000 words to finish the story. I plan to continue until I finish my rough draft. This puts my New Year’s resolution in place – to edit it and get it ready for another set of eyes to read.

My December plans include sewing a few gifts, plus Santa gave me a list to complete for him as one of his elves. In other words, back to my day job.

I thought it appropriate on my last day in November when I concentrated on gratitude to find a note in my messenger inbox. A new review for my book posted yesterday on Amazon. My heart overflowed as I read her thoughts about my book. Each time someone takes the time to read, write, and post a review for my book, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith, I am filled with gratitude. Thank you, Colleen, and everyone who posted a reaction to our story. Here’s few of her thoughts:

     This is a powerful and compelling autobiographical account of one mother’s journey through the nightmare of mental illness. Virginia Pillars’ daughter, Amber, developed schizophrenia in her early twenties. As Virginia, her husband, Roy, and their sons became aware of the alternate world Amber was living in, they reached out to her. But where to begin to help her out?
…Virginia’s account is honest, compelling and revealing. It is painful as you journey with Virginia and her husband as they look for the treatment Amber needed. The disturbance that severe mental illness causes in the home life of family members is very challenging. The Pillars’ journey, like so many families, is not one of instant success…
. ..The story is very well-written. Once you start reading, it is hard to put down. There is a natural curiosity and hope that the Pillars can find the mental health professional with the right treatment for Amber.                                                                                                                        …There are many out there with family members who suffer from mild to severe mental illnesses. Virginia’s honest account opens the door to what one family experienced. It is not unique. Many families are suffering in this way. Her book does a great service in sharing the challenges and pain and the hopes and victories in navigating the road to recovery. I encourage everyone to read it and share it with others.

For the complete review and others, you’ll find them at Amazon, and Goodreads.

Thank you to all of you who followed along for my month of gratitude. May your December be a season of preparation and joy.

 

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Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 28

Laughter. Today, I’m grateful for laughter.

Last night, a member of our household returned from a trip. He’d gotten sick just before his flight home, which made for miserable plane ride. Now, the circumstance didn’t have a shred of humor in it. Not until my hubby got involved in the conversation.

He proceeded to tell of a time that he had similar symptoms when on a trip across the ocean. He described his reaction, complete with sound effects. The three of us laughed so hard we couldn’t sit up straight.

For a few minutes, we forgot his misery as we shared Roy’s hilarious memories.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t think illness is funny. Nor do we dismiss another’s problems. Instead, we look at ourselves, our own reactions, and look for the humor.

It helps us cope to laugh at our mistakes, and the silly things we do. Laughter can diffuse a tense situation. It helps us look past the walls that we sometimes build around us.

Laughter releases endorphins (a feel-good hormone) which can ease stress, boost our immune system, improve our mood, increase our pain tolerance, and improve our cardiovascular health. Wow, all that from a good joke. It also releases the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Think of this as a reward for our brain, which may motivate us to continue with our laughter. Maybe that’s why when I start to laugh, I can’t stop and everything sounds funny.

Maybe we should change the saying from “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” to “A laugh a day keeps the doctor away.”

Think of the last time you shared a belly laugh with someone. It felt pretty wonderful, didn’t it?

I love to laugh. I’m grateful for laughter, and the forty-two years with a husband who can make me to laugh so hard that I can’t breathe.

Author In Training, Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 27

It’s been a challenge this month to post each day one gratitude adjustment. In addition, I  took the plunge to write 50,000 words this month in an attempt to write my first novel.

I have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to make my goal. At 44,850 I have some serious time in front of my computer before I can say, “I did it!” I think the stubborn side of me will kick in and I will push myself to finish. I can’t tied up all the loose ends with 6000 words, so I will continue into December with the conclusion. Next up, edit my work. It’s called a rough draft for a reason.

I’m grateful to have the ability and the time to pursue the goal. I know not everyone can spend the amount of time it takes to write every day for several hours. I’m grateful for the authors who wrote the “How-To” books for people like me who want to learn the process.

I’m grateful for the computer. I can’t imagine using a typewriter like I did years ago in high school with white out fluid by my side.

I’ve enjoyed the process. If I’m not at my computer, my mind runs through different scenarios for my characters. It’s fun to use my imagination to create drama in the life of someone with no repurcussions.

Happy Cyber-Monday.

P.S. My non-fiction book, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith, is still available for half-price through Familius.

 

 

 

Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 25/26

Hobbies. I hope everyone has one. I’m grateful for them cause I get a break from daily routine to explore something that I do just because of the joy it gives me.

I have lots of hobbies. Sometimes, I spin wheels as I decide which one to enjoy. I’ll highlight my favorites.

  • Writing. I call it a hobby because I do it for the pleasure it gives me. I write about my thoughts, my faith, my day-to-day world. I’ve had an experience-filled life in my sixty-two years. I don’t know how much time I have left on this earth, so I want to record some of the most note-worthy memories for future generations. Maybe one thing I write will make a difference in one person’s life. And for me, that makes it all worthwhile.
  • Sewing. Since the age of twelve, I’ve had a love affair with needle, thread, and fabrics. My sister introduced me to the process as I stitched a pair of bright, pink, striped, flannel pajamas. I still remember my first mistake, and I soon learned the art of using the seam ripper. In high school, I sewed some of my clothes to stretch the family budget. I continued in college to earn extra money by mending for others on the floor. When I got married, I added family clothing sewing to my list. Now, as a grandma, I get to share my knowledge with grandchildren. I still sew some clothing, but mostly, I make baby quilts and give them away. I hope I sew until the day I leave this earth.
  • Gardening. It used to be a chore when I was a child, but now I love to spend time in my backyard with my vegetables. I grow them for my own eating pleasure. Winter has arrived here, but I have a few things in the freezer to cook until I get to grow more next spring.
  • Reading. I have less time to read than I’d like. As a child, I read everything I could get my hands on. Mom took me to the library to bring home stacks of books. As an adult, I love to read other author’s works. I call it my homework. I learn new styles, techniques, and identify the voice they use. When I finish, I use another hobby to write a review. I know how much a review means to the writer.

Hobbies.  May your hobbies help you have the best day ever day.

Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 24

Twas the morning of Black Friday, and all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, except for the mouse…

Okay, not really true, because I’m up, but the mouse part is close to the truth. The little critters must think we offer free rent in our house, so I’ve declared war, as I do every year. But anyway, back to my gratitude reflection…

I hope my readers had a relaxed day yesterday. I know, I did. I ate turkey, which for me, is an annual treat that I dream about in anticipation for weeks. Why? My body reacts to foods that others can eat without any issues. Turkey, chicken, eggs, chocolate, and wine trigger migraines for me.

I can eat tiny amounts (of poultry, not chocolate) once in a while without problems, so once a year, my taste buds rejoice as I savor a helping of dark, turkey meat. I enjoy the homemade dressing and gravy, along with the sweet potatoes, squash casserole, and of course, the green bean casserole. I finished the meal with a slice of pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee. My mouth remains in a state of contentment this morning.

Yesterday, my family surrounded me – our three sons, three daughters-in-law, our daughter, and three of our four grandchildren. Our fourth grandchild made it to his eternal home over eleven years ago. He’s with us in spirit for every event. I call us the “Even Dozen Club,” but in reality, we are probably a bit odd.

We have fun together. We compete like Olympians as we play games, work together, and of course, tease each other. I’m certain I will hear about the year I forgot the sugar in the pumpkin pie for the rest of my life. And if I know my family, they’ll share the story at my funeral.

Oh, we do love to laugh at our mistakes.

After all, life is too important to take it seriously. I laugh at the silly things I do wrong, and revel in the things that go right.

My devotional readings this morning remind me to stay grateful.

I’m thankful for my life, and that I don’t feel the need to fight the crowds today to shop. I plan to write a few chapters for my first-ever novel. And eat another piece of pumpkin pie with my coffee.

Happy Black Friday!

Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 23

Today, like many across our nation,  I plan to gather with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving. After I help my 91-year-old Mom in an hour, I will spend the rest of the day with my family.

Some of the top things on my gratitude list.

  1. My mom. At 91, she lives in her own home. She doesn’t get around very well, but she stays cheerful and thankful for every little thing that anyone does for her. She’s taught me to live in gratitude.
  2. My husband. We’ve carved out a wonderful life together for the past 42 years.
  3. Health. We’ve dealt with major illnesses in our family. We won most of the battles, and are grateful for our family’s health.  We both feel younger than our years. We enjoy our work, and our time away from it.
  4. My four children. All of them are successful as they travel their path of life. Today, they will  cook most of the our Thanksgiving meal. I bring the pies. If I beg, I may get to help with dishes. Most years they shoo me out of the kitchen.
  5. Our grandchildren. Enough said.
  6. My home. It’s comfortable and more than adequate. Plus, it’s clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy.
  7. Life adventures. During a recent game with my grandchildren and nephew, we each counted the countries that we’ve visited. I counted twenty-one! I’m grateful to enjoy so many different cultures in my sixty-two years of life.
  8. I can read, I can write, I can create projects from fabric, therefore I never wonder what I can do to keep busy. I think I need another life time to read all the books on my TBR list, and sew all the fabric in my closet.
  9. I have nutritious and delicious food every day.
  10. I have the freedom to live my faith. I live in confidence because I know I am loved more than I can ever comprehend. Everything else is frosting on the cake.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Author In Training, Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 22 – Thank you to my mentors!

Today is a repost from a previous gratitude post. I believe in saying “Thank you.” 

What’s a mentor?

I looked it up on the Merriam-Webster dictionary website and found:

A: a trusted counselor or guide

B:  tutor, coach

Next, I looked up tutor: a person charged with the instruction and guidance of another

I’m glad I found the definitions, but mostly I’m glad I found my mentors.

This wonderful group of people guided me as I learned about writing. I entered my first writers workshop with no knowledge about the craft or the skill needed to put my thoughts to paper (actually to the computer screen.) The first pieces I shared with them had lots of mistakes. My mentors gave gentle,  yet constructive criticism. I considered myself an infant in the life of an author. They took my hand as I grew through the toddler stage, entered “school” and worked my way through the lessons they provided.

Within the confines of a supportive community of trusted guides, tutors and coaches, I gained confidence and learned from them the correct procedure to submit the things I’d written. When it came time to write my first book query, and then my book proposal, experienced eyes found my weak areas and offered me suggestions for improvement.

I recently attended the conference that I feel gave me a solid start, the Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop. On my way to the first day of the three-day conference, I stopped at the post office to pick up my mail. I marveled about God’s timing. For you see, my recently won award plaque had just arrived – the 2017 Selah Award for memoir writing. From an “infant” to “I’m not even sure what grade I’m in these days” in six years!

I remember May 24, 2017 – the night the awards were announced through a live Twitter feed. I sat in my home, alone as the words, “Virginia Pillars winner of the Selah Award for Memoir” appeared on my screen. I covered my face and cried – “I never thought it would be me.” May 24 is also National Schizophrenia Awareness Day. My book, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith tells the story of our family’s experience with schizophrenia. I still tell others to pinch me – wake me up from this dream I didn’t know I had.

I want to say, “thank you” to those who helped me. If you follow me, you may know that I write under a pseudonym at the request of my family. They fear stigma will re-enter our daughter’s life, so I honor them by keeping them out of social media. I don’t publish photographs of me, or my family for this reason, but I can share the photos of my mentors. Through them, I learned to write, publish and speak about my story through schizophrenia with my child. 

I’ve asked them to hold my award, for I believe some of the credit belongs to them, too. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Mary Kenyon

 

 

Mary Potter Kenyon writes and speaks on the subjects of grief, cancer, friendship, the word of coupons, and writing for publication. She is currently working on her fifth book.

 

 

Shelly
Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach is an award-winning author, founder of the Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop, author of six books and frequent speaker on PTSD.

Jolene
Jolene Philo

Jolene Philo has a passion for those with special needs, especially our youth. She’s written many books and speaks extensively on the subject.

Wanda
Wanda Sanchez

Wanda Sanchez and Shelly Beach work together in the field of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.) As co-authors of an award-winning book, Love Letters from the Edge, they speak nationwide. Reach them at PTSD Perspectives.

Mary Humston
Mary Jedlicka Humston

Mary Jedlicka Humstom co-authored Mary and Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink with Mary Potter Kenyon. It tells their friendship of over thirty years through the art of letter writing.

Missing from the line-up is Jocelyn Green. I can still remember her critique on my first piece, “Show not tell.” She taught me how to accomplish this with her gentle guidance. I wish I had her photo to share with you, my readers.

And last, but not least, these are some of the group who meet regularly and have taught me, challenged me as we shared our writings, and heaped out large scoops of encouragement. If I overlooked someone, it is not my intent. I appreciate each and every person I’ve met along the way.

writers group

I’m still a work in progress. To all my mentors, past, present, and furture, I say, “THANK YOU!”