In the past twelve hours, I’ve received gifts that didn’t wait for later in the month. These gifts lifted my spirit.
There were so welcome after the past of days of my melancholy attitude. It started with a a phone call that left me disappointed in someone, and then morphed into a giant of oppressing sadness. I couldn’t shake the “poor me” thoughts that pounded at me.
Until the gifts from yesterday…
First, I spent some of the afternoon with people, which always lifts my mood. Yes, I’m an EXTRAVERT. I get my energy from people. The past twelve hours recharged me and changed my attitude. I needed a major gratitude adjustment.
First I sat next to a friend as I watched a Jr. High Basketball game. I hadn’t expected to see her there, so we chatted and caught up with each other’s lives. Pure gift.
From there I went to a holiday party with my local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) chapter. I spent the evening with friends I’ve known for years, and the new ones I met as I taught a twelve week class, Family to Family, this fall. The best part of the evening came as I heard about the successes of their loved ones. I rejoice as I hear the words, “doing well,” “has a job,” “great relationship between us.” So many times I’ve heard, “The class changed my life. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for my loved one and me.” What a gift!
This morning when I checked social media, I approved the tag for this Facebook post, Free the Strange by Andrea Berns. This courageous woman shared her journey to wellness. Her talents shined through her words, as well as her determination to work towards recovery. She asked me to write the forward for her chapbook. What an honor! Congratulations to Andrea, and to all the success stories that we need to tell and celebrate with them.
Gifts come in all shapes, sizes, and look different to everyone. I received good news all around me yesterday, and I am grateful for them.
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.
There’s a popular saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Thank you to my village!
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 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 Beach is an award-winning author, founder of the Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop, author of six books and frequent speaker on PTSD.
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 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.
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.
I’m still a work in progress. To all my mentors, past, present, and furture, I say, “THANK YOU!”
Ever have one of those days when you feel like you are spinning your wheels?
Sometimes, discouragement tries to get the better of me. Self-doubt reigns high.
Last Wednesday, I had such a day. I pushed myself all day to stay the course with my writing, in spite of the nagging thought – this isn’t any good. Who wants to read this? There’s so many great authors and stories out there.
Enter Thursday morning. I found an annonymous thank you note in my mailbox that told me to continue to shine the light of Christ in the world. Wow!
Then, I had an unexpected visitor within a day. We had a wonderful conversation about allowing the Holy Spirit to work through our lives. He affirmed via a text that he saw that in me. Wow #2.
To complete the gratitude adjustment, I opened my e-mail to an invitation to present for a group in early January. Wow #3.
Within twenty-four hours, three unrelated things gave me a boost to stay the course.
I’m grateful to the God winks that came at the exact time I needed it. And I’m thankful.
Yesterday, as I searched the junk drawer in my kitchen – the place where everything that needs a home lands – I found a slip of paper from a fortune cookie from who knows when..
I smiled. What timing!
On November 1, I took the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November, my first attempt at fiction.
I’ve had the idea rolling around in my head since 2015. I decided the time is now to bring the characters to life.
After only four days I wondered if I could do it? Can I stick with the writing schedule I gave myself? Write 1700 or more words each day?
Discouragement set in.
And then I found a reminder on how to enjoy the process: “Keep your ideas flexible and don’t ignore details.”
This told me: Lighten up; just let the ideas flow. Let my creative side go free, without censor. And don’t forget to add details to keep it interesting, but make sure to stay consistent with facts. Above all – have fun with it.
All this because of an open drawer, a long-forgotten fortune, and a resolve to stay the course. Simple things that melded into motivation. This reminds me stay alert for signs to guide my way – to watch at all times for these things I call God winks. And for that I’m grateful.
Later this month, many of us plan to gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, an American holiday. A popular quote, with many variations, that floats around the internet states, “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”
It’s a valid thought. I think most of us take too much for granted. I’m as guilty as the next person. In an effort to zero in on the many ways I lead a comfortable life, I plan to write a short piece each day of November to remind myself of the little things that I neglect to notice. Please join me. I hope you’ll be inspired to find one thing each day that helps you feel grateful.
Outside the wind is sharp, the air is cold, and here I sit in my recliner. My feet are up and a warm, fuzzy blanket covers my legs. I can look out my semi-clean window and see rust-colored leaves cling to the branches of an oak tree. I have a cup of coffee to my right to wash down a snack of nuts and dried cranberries. Behind my back, a cushion supports me as I rest my computer on my lap.
After I turned fifty, I discovered a new hobby. I’d always written the dreaded Christmas newsletter and sent it to my friends and relatives, but I hadn’t given serious writing any thought until 2008. Now, the thoughts and stories I want to record bounce around in my head most of the time.
Today, I’m grateful for this quiet, cozy atmosphere where I get to write that includes a recliner, a blanket, coffee, computer, and a beautiful tree.
How about you? What fills your heart with gratitude today?