Monday, March 31, 2014

Tomorrow's The Big Day! #atozchallenge

When I found this picture I immediately knew it was the one.  That's what I feel like.  At last count there were 1930 of us crazy folks taking part in the biggest blog hop of the year.  The April A-Z Challenge starts TOMORROW.  I'm trying not to freak out, just as this guy is, with the biting of his lips and the holding back of the tears, but you can see it lurking.

What am I afraid of?  What's the big deal. Well, it's complicated.  It's not really fear as much as a WOW. I wish I was more prepared.  

Then there's the perfectionist side that says, "You'll never get everything done."  

The co-host side of me says, "What if a lot of people drop out?"  

The competitive side says, "What if people don't like my posts this year?"

The egotistical side says, "What if I don't get any more followers?"

The organizational side says, "What if no one follows my directions?"

Then reason takes over.  I love it when she does that. I should invite her over more often ;-)

All those "what ifs" I listed aren't at ALL what this Challenge is about it.  Those don't matter. Those are NOT the goals.

Here's why I do the A-Z, and here's why I spend so much time behind the scenes making sure it runs smoothly:

We are building a community.  We are trying to make the world smaller.  We have participants from all corners of the globe.  We can make friends with people continents (and 15 hours time difference) away.  We can meet people just like us, and bond instantly, or we can meet people whose lives are so completely different from ours we marvel.  

We can find blogs about topics we'd never have even known existed if we hadn't stumbled upon them in our wanderings around the list.  We can network, make friends, and expand our reading list.

The point is not us, it's THEM.  Those bloggers waiting for us to stop by.  1930 bloggers have laid out the welcome mat, and if they're Swedish, the coffee will be on and the array of goodies set out.  Bring flowers.

I'll see you tomorrow when "It's very Swedish..." begins.  You'll learn what that means then.

~Tina, excited and anticipating and shoving the anxious aside

Photo Credit

Friday, March 28, 2014

Meet Andrea of Tina's Terrific Team for #atozchallenge

Please welcome another second year minion, Andrea, to the ring.  She's a powerhouse of snark and honesty, and I think this post will also prove to you that she's fearless.  Aren't these people crazy for working for me two years in a row?!??  Maybe they're just crazy for being friends with me...

Hi! I'm Andrea, mother of two, wife of one, and minion of Tina. Last year I included a picture of the worst outfit my mother ever made me wear, so this time it seemed I should admit to what I wanted to be wearing instead. In telling you a little bit about myself, I thought maybe it would be easier to tell you who I am not. Despite purchasing a new dress recently and having both a haircut and massage scheduled for today, that really isn't who I am. Don't believe me? Maybe some photographic evidence will help convince you...

Don't get me wrong, I was stylin' at age 4. Despite showing a bit of leg, my ponytails were awesome. What I wouldn't give for a pocket that large now to keep my stuff I always misplace.

 At age 6, my fancy dress with the letters all over it did not keep me from dish duty. I might have secretly enjoyed it, having no idea the irony behind my glamorous life to come.

Continuing my long dress theme into the late seventies, with my mother by my side in minty, excellent hairstyle solidarity.

I can assure you that I had just come from the hairstylist in this fourth grade gem. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing to admit. Remember wearing dresses just because? "Oooh, pretty tulips, glad I have dress on!"

This? Right here? Exactly what I still picture when I think of myself in a dress. Although I do not think I have worn mint green or a belted look since.

So do not picture this when I tell you I have a new dress and a hair appointment...
Instead, let that vision of slightly awkward wash over you, as that is pretty much who I am. 
 Come by my place and we'll talk about some random stuff, and set the bar low enough to trip over! In April I will be sharing my Seventies Serenade...a decade of great music! (In addition to the great styles shown here.)

Oh, I should probably mention my alter ego...she wears a cape and a pedometer and fancies herself to be a superhero...Pedomemom. She'd love to visit with you as well!

Andrea blogs at Maybe it's just me... Where you'll find yourself right at home.  I assure you, it's not just Andrea who feels this way.  When I read one of her posts I find myself saying, "Yes! Exactly!" while usually choking on and spitting (on my keyboard) whatever I'm drinking at the time...

~Tina, greatly blessed with amazing friends

P.S Speaking of blessings...on Wednesday, DL Hammon's Blitz Team descended upon Life is Good and brought an avalanche of comments and love to both me and JoJo (and I'm sure the Beer Boys were thrilled with the extra advertising!) Thanks so much for all of your sweet, encouraging and funny comments.  You are much appreciated.  As I am in full swing with A-Z preparations, I won't be able to visit all of you, but please know how much that meant to this stressed out co-host.  THANKS.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meet JoJo of Tina's Terrific Team for #atozchallenge

No, you're not getting the same post again.  On my team I have Jo, from Canada (currently) whom you met on Monday, and I also have my friend and buddy, JoJo who is from Massachusetts.  Clear?  Each minion chose her own format.  JoJo presented this list which describes her.

Only child, engaged to the love of my life, stepmom of 3 awesome kids, dog mom of Pepper and Sagan, Deadhead, photographer, blogger, crafter, cross stitcher, craft supply hoarder, bead addict, glass addict, easily distracted by shiny things, beachcomber, Cape Codder, San Franciscan, Washingtonian, Seattle Seahawks fan, honorary Canadian, offbeat, prefers tie dyes and sweats to actual clothes, sorted into Ravenclaw, day dreamer, collector of: marbles, postcards, celestial stuff, shot glasses, antique beaded purses, glass knick knacks, dragons, fridge magnets, peace signs, beach glass, shells, rocks & bottles, mix tape maker, Vincent D'Onofrio fan, offbeat sense of humour, loves antiquing, believer in Sasquatch, former paralegal now stay at home trucker's wife, on the receiving end of an epic love story, loyal friend and confidant, pluviophile (loves the rain), music lover, day tripper/traveler.  Fave book & movie:  To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm also an empath.

JoJo blogs at Tahoma Beadworks and Photography, and is just crazy enough to be my minion two years in a row.

~Tina, don't I have awesome friends???

P.S My buddies, The Beer Guys from "A Beer For the Shower" are doing a promotion this week where their awesome book is just 99 cents.  So go get yourself some amazingly funny cartoons for a fantastic price!  Click on the animation and you'll get to Amazon.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meet Jo of Tina's Terrific Team for #atozchallenge

Jo has been my faithful reader since I first started my blog 5 years ago, and we've become friends.  She's a voracious blogger, posting almost everyday.  Her posts are honest, she cares about our planet and it's creatures, and she's an amazing cook, always sharing a recipe at the end.  

Year's ago she was interviewed here, and I've used some of the questions for you to get to know her better.  Go there for the whole interview to learn more.

Q1. What made you and Matt decide to move from the UK to Canada? Was it a good move for you?

A1. We found that the UK was getting somewhat stifling. There was no room to stretch out one's arms and for people like us, not a lot of room for advancement. It was a bigger wrench for Matt because he has two children. My parents were living in the Mediterranean region by then anyway and I have no siblings. In fact my father died shortly before we emigrated, having said previously that he thought it the best move we could make.

Yes, it was a great move. We have lived in North America, mainly Canada, since 1975 and have, we think, had a much better life than had we stayed in the UK. We had two homes, one in Canada and one in North Carolina and have enjoyed our time in both places. Our Canadian home had a pool in the back yard, I don't think that would have been possible, or, come to that, particularly enjoyable, in England - the weather isn't really good enough. 

We certainly spent a lot of time in our pool; we lived outside all summer and had all kinds of pool parties. We also had a travel trailer/caravan which we trailed around Ontario and the States and had a wonderful time visiting both people and places.

Q2. What other countries have you visited or lived in? Are there any more that you really long to see?

A2. As I have just mentioned, we lived in North Carolina in the States for about 12 years. We loved it there: the weather was excellent, apart from the odd hurricane, and the living was easy. We had a delightful property of about 1/2 an acre with a double wide mobile home which was a great place to live. We were 15 minutes from the sea shore and could easily feast on shrimp in particular and lots of other seafood fresh out of the water. 

Whilst in NC we went on a Caribbean cruise with some friends and spent a lot of time travelling in the States. Other than that, before we moved here, I had visited Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia (as it was then) Malta and Spain - I particularly loved Greece, France and Spain. 

I speak pretty good French, moderate Spanish and a smattering of Greek which helped. Maybe I should say 'spoke', I'm pretty rusty in those languages nowadays although there was some opportunity to use French when I was working here in Canada. 

My parents lived in Malta once they retired so we joined them there for vacations, although I had already spent two weeks there before they retired. My parents, and therefore I, lived on a boat from shortly after the Second World War, which accounted for my visits to so many countries. When my father retired, he sailed his current home to Malta. 

Later, things got politically uncomfortable for the Brits in Malta so he moved to Spain, calling in at Southern France on the way where we also joined them. Later they bought a house in Spain and sold the boat. I have also visited the Bahamas for a few days and spent two weeks in The Dominican Republic and another two weeks in Southern Portugal which we loved. In fact I have thoroughly enjoyed most of the countries I have visited.

I would love to visit Asia. Ever since I read Shogun by James Clavell, I have wanted to visit Japan. I would also like to go to Hong Kong, plus see some of the interior of China, which looks so beautiful. I would also love to visit Oz, as much to see some of my cyber friends as to see the country. In fact I once had an ambition to visit one town in every country of the world. It will not, unhappily, come to fruition, but if I could, I would still love to travel a lot more.

Q3. It's apparent that you love food and are an amazing cook. Have you a favourite recipe to share with us?

A3. My favourite recipes vary from year to year, I guess. One of my latest faves is Bobotie and Yellow Rice, which I recently posted in my blog. 

My father was always interested in food. When he married my mother she literally couldn't boil an egg; she used to say later that it is, in fact, a difficult thing to do. There was a story about how he picked her up from work one evening and they were going on somewhere else so he took her back to his flat/apartment whilst he changed. He was feeling peckish so asked her to make a bacon sandwich while he changed. He came back to find her in floods of tears because she had no idea how to make one. 

To me, later in life, knowing my mother for the great cook she was, this was a hilarious story. She could, and did, cook anything. She could out-gourmet most restaurants and knew the French names of everything even if her pronunciation left something to be desired. She was a much better cook than I will ever be. Her main recipe source originally was Mrs. Beeton who is a classic British cookbook author from way back. My mother's copy, which I now have, was dated 1935.
For the sake of brevity, I didn't include the recipe.  If you visit Jo on Food, My Travels, and a Scent of Chocolate, you'll find plenty.

Friday, March 21, 2014

#atozchallenge Theme Reveal!

2014 is my 4th challenge, and 3rd as co-host. In 2011 I didn't have a clue and didn't have a theme, but muddled through and had a great time.

2012 I decided on "Postcards from Sweden" where I shared a picture, taught a word of Swedish, and included a childhood story that went along with the word.  Had another great time, and a lot of people who read the whole series!  Yeah!

2013 I decided why mess with a good thing, so I did "Adventures in America" where I told stories (and shared more embarrassing childhood pictures) about my first year as an immigrant to America.  That proved to be popular as well.  I mean, how many of you have spent 4 months in a body cast at age 9? People were curious.

Which brings us to 2014.  I'm going Swedish again. Write what you know, they say! Besides, I'm proud of my heritage, and my homeland.  Without further ado, my theme is:

"It's very Swedish..."  I will be writing about cultural differences big and small.  I'll share some very Swedish things I miss very much, and also talk about differences in attitudes and beliefs.  It won't be all about kaviar och kaffee!  (That's coffee for those who didn't do the 2012 language lessons.  I figured you could figure out the caviar and "and").

Please join me in learning more about a unique culture.  Yes, Hilary, I'll talk about fierce viking chicks big and small, might throw in a Swedish word or two. One thing you can count on: embarrassing photos. After all, that's become an A-Z tradition.  No worries, Momarazzi took plenty of pictures...

I hope to see you around a lot in April!  Now off to check out your themes.

~Tina, Fierce Viking Chick (that means I'm bossy...ask my team...or my minions...)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Meet Hilary of Tina's Terrific Team for #atozchallenge

Please meet Hilary, who hails from across the pond – my dear friend from the UK. This is her second year as my minion. Brave lady!

A: Age. - Older than 20, but younger than 80 – just and still just one year on!!

B: Books – all sorts ... preferably historical or reference and a good yarn

C: Cooking – love it ... great relaxation, though I don’t do much now
D: Dogs – love them, though now don’t own one

E: Elegance – wish I had it!

F: Friends – essentials to life

G: Gardens – love them and their seasonal variations

H: Height – middle to low; much the same for width! Same as last year sadly!

I: Intuition – flashes of illumination from our cognitive processes - sometimes!

J: Journeys – exploring new areas, or seeing old friends along the way

K: Knowledge ... I can’t not find out ... that need to know is inbuilt

L: Languages – wish I’d learnt them, and would love to grasp a few

M: Measurement ... I like to know pertinent time frames, distances etc

N: Names and their etymology

O: Overseas friends and bloggers – the world is wonderful

P: Paeony – my mother’s favourite frothy (candy pink)flower

Q: Queen – I admire her dedication ...

R: Roses – scented ones

S: Scribes – especially those ancient scribes, who ensured we can communicate today

T: Time – need much much more of it

V: Vegetables – all sorts ... and Spring is nearly here for the new young veggies

W: Where can you help? What can you do to help others? Please think about this ...

X: Xstatic for life ...

Y: Yellow for sunlight, primroses, daffodils ... lifting our hearts ...

Z: Zizzzzzzzing of the bees, which need our protection ....

Hilary blogs at Positive letters...inspirational stories... That's a very well-named blog. A visit there always teaches me something, and encourages me to think of others and see life from their perspective.

~Tina, grateful for friends from all over the world

Monday, March 17, 2014

Meeting AJ In Real Life

Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting, in person, someone you've me online?  I had that chance for the first time last week.

AJ, whom I met last year, and I met up for coffee last week and we couldn't stop talking.
Her hair is a little less curly, mine is a lot more crazy gold/red, but we recognized each other right away.

Some people make distinctions about "real" friends and "online" friends, but I've stopped doing that.  I've realized that as our society has changed and online is an increasing part of our daily lives, then the "status" of those we meet and hang out with online needs to change also.

Did you ever have a pen pal when you were growing up?  I did.  My Swedish friends and I wrote hundreds of letters that traveled across the ocean so that we could keep our friendship up to date until the next time I could visit Sweden.

I feel like the friends I've made online are like pen pals.  We've shared some deep stuff in the emails and text messages and phone calls we've exchanged. Also, when you're "hanging out" online ALL you're doing is talking.  You're not distracted by the movie you went to see, or by the shopping you're doing.  

You're just getting to know each other, and I think you do so much more quickly than someone you meet in person.  It takes a lot of get-togethers to reach the level of sharing that comes more quickly in an online friendship.

AJ and I got together in a local coffee shop.  Of course we talked "shop" since we're both co-hosts.  (You've heard of this alphabet thing we're doing, right?  If you're new to this, click on the tab above that says A-Z Challenge and go sign-up.  Now.  I'll wait.) That was a small part of it, though.  We talked like real friends talked.

We shared our lives, our struggles, our hopes and dreams and frustrations and were both amazed to see how long we'd been talking when "nature called." That's friendship to me.  Real people.  Real life.

Have you ever met someone you first met online?  Do you think there are "real" friends and "online" friends? Explain.  I'd like to hear your opinion.

~Tina, who is trying to play nice with blogger and composing directly in the window instead of cutting and pasting for OpenOffice, but still gets wonky formatting as a gift...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Meet jenn of Tina's Terrific Team for #atozchallenge

Today please welcome jenn, one of my first blogging buddies from 5 years ago.  She's one of my minions...

the boring bullshit: i am a forty-year-old resident of the woodlands, texas who works as a sales associate at a children’s furniture store. i studied liberal arts at cottey college in nevada, missouri, where i got my associate’s degree, and english and studio art at sam houston state university, where i got my bachelor’s. in the past, i've worked at a printing company, a couple of newspapers and a handful of bookstores. i've been described as smart, serious and snarky. i dig fiction, film and football.

favorite quote. i think we live our lives so afraid to be seen as weak that we die perhaps without ever having been seen at all (james spader as alan shore in boston legal).

a favorite passage from a book. if i had known how, i would have joined grant in prayer. i would have prayed for him, for his goodness, his loyalty, and his improbable love. i would have prayed for him to give up, to let go, and to start over. i might have even prayed for forgiveness.

but i didn't know how to pray (victoria jones in the language of flowers, p. 195).

i'm stranded on a desert island and can bring one person, one book and one food item (that never goes bad and is in constant supply) or plant: robert downey, jr; eleanor and park by rainbow rowell; chicken spaghetti.

five sources of inspiration: my victorian literature professor, tragedy, stories, rejection, chaos.

the story of my life in twenty five words or less: small-town texas girl struggles with social awkwardness and medical issues. graduates high school, then college despite some educators' beliefs that she couldn’t, and then she flounders.

five of my favorite posts: four letter words, a truth universally acknowledged, little moments (a guest post featured on the life of bon), forty in forty (the first and the rest), and let me believe. let me forget.

couple questionnaires/character studies: isabel and reese, august and seth, piper and matthewabout isabel. about reese.

jenn blogs at quirky pickings

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On The Balance Beam

I feel like I'm on a balance beam, only I don't have all the skills I used to.  When I was a gymnast I progressed from learning to walk on it without falling off, to doing a back walk-over, the most advanced skill I accomplished.

This is eleven seconds.  I want you to know what I'm talking about.


I did it on those taller ones you see behind her.  (I learned it on the low one she's on, that way you don't DIE trying...)  As in, you could easily break your neck if you haven't practiced it enough until it's as easy as...breathing.

I'm trying to balance everything in my life again, now that I'm free and clear to DO my life again.  I feel like I'm starting over, though.

Before I got sick, and yes, you're sick of my being sick stories but I think this analogy is worth it so bear with me if you would, or go away if you're done with me whining, I don't care...yes I do...please keep reading...Before I got sick I was able to balance all the elements in my life as if I were the gymnast on the balance beam doing the back-walkover.

I've lost the skill.  Being NOT allowed to do my life (you can't be on your feet, you can't leave the house, blah blah blah restrictions) sorta chained me to my bed.  I did get a lot done online, which was great, and distracting and useful.  However, for two months, the rest of my life was on hold.

"Stuff" got done.  Kind people fetched prescriptions.  Sweet people randomly dropped off meals.  The Transporter patiently took my totally OCD with way too many details lists to the grocery store and we kept food in the house.  The Engineer cooked, the boys did dishes, they all did laundry.  Life went on.  I sat and watched.

Now I'm well.  I can do anything, but not too much, not too fast, not for very long, and I can't do more than I can, if that makes sense.  My ability to find synonyms is gone with the asthma drugs.  Temporarily.  I hope.

Today I felt like myself.  For the first time since January.  I feel like all of winter just flew by, and I step outside and it's spring.  The flower beds are calling to me, the errands need to be done, the taxes (egads...) need to be done before the craziness of April begins. (Um, you have heard of the whole alphabet thing we've got going on?  If not, click on that tab up there that says A-Z Challenge and then sign-up.)  I need to clean my office.  

I need to...learn to walk the balance beam again.  Balance family, writing, blogging, the A-Z Challenge, my friends, the class I teach, and on and on.

Where is the girl who used to do the back-walkovers?  I don't know.  As far as I can tell, she's learning to walk that narrow (it's 4") beam without falling off.  Falling off wouldn't be so bad for the normal person, but for me, falling off would mean back to square one, which started the whole thing. Don't want to go there.

How do you balance all that your life requires?

Monday, March 10, 2014

5 Things You Should Know About Raising Boys

I'm the mother of two boys.  I don't have a female child.  Perhaps this colors my opinions somewhat, but I thought I'd share some observations.  My boys are 16 (going on 17 in two weeks) and 14.

Boys like to show their love for each other by constant wrestling and just generally annoying each other. Most of the time it goes on until someone gets hurt.  I try to just let them have at it now that they're more equally matched size wise, but it's hard to take when they're so close you might end up collateral damage...

Boys have sensitive feelings just like girls, they just express them in different ways.  I won't go into details, because they also like their privacy.  Hey, at least they're aware enough that I do blog, and I frequently hear, "Don't put this on your blog, MOM!"

Boys and their dads will find things funny that you find gross.  You will not understand why they're laughing their butts off until they're practically falling out of their seats.  They will probably blow beverages out of their noses when they first start talking about this supposedly funny thing.  

It's usually inappropriate for dinner table conversation, but I've decided to handle it by not trying to understand the humor (because every time they try to explain it, they just laugh harder and I still don't get it) and not even trying to get them to stop. Besides, it's rather nice to see you're usually so stressed out Engineer laughing that hard and having that much fun.

Boys are just as capable of any household chore as girls are.  There is no such thing as a "girl" chore or a "boy" chore. I know this isn't new information, but The Engineer grew up where there were these distinctions, and therefore, until recently, he hadn't done some of the chores the boys (all three of them) are now doing.  

Sometimes they're even better at it than their mother. OYT, for example, is a meticulous master with the vacuum cleaner. Once you get him started (it's the "getting started" part that is rather hard...) he will really do a good job - actually LOOK at what he's doing as opposed to just going through the motions. He'll use the attachments.  He will move the furniture!

Boys are just a joy to raise.  They are different from me.  They think, process, and approach problems differently.  These differences make conversation really entertaining.  A son's relationship with his mom is very different (wow, my vocabulary is really cooperating with me today...) than that with his dad. I'm glad my sons have both of us to make somewhat of a balance.  

Parenting is a tough gig no matter what your family situation is like, and I support all kinds of definitions of family.

All I can say for sure is God knew what he was doing when he gave me only boys.  I'm having a blast, and besides, they're really strong and carry stuff for me ;-)

Agree?  Disagree?  Have some of each and can compare?  Discuss!


P.S My blogging mentor, Amanda of House Revivals, now has me trying to use Pinterest and teaching me about “pinnable images,” as I told you recently.

This beautiful image was a gift from her.  Would please, if you don't mind, try pinning it. I just want to know if it works. Thanks!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things: Still Driving that Road to Contentment!

It's Friday!  I missed this last week, and this week I really, truly need to re-focus on my contentment quest, so I'm with  VikLit of Scribblings of an Aspiring Author in this inspiring hop. These are so fun to read.  Happy posts.  Grateful people.  I highly recommend joining.  

I've been needing new glasses for four years, as in the ones that I use for emergencies, since I wear contacts, and then reading glasses, were four prescriptions ago.  I just really couldn't see with them anymore.

 Yup.  They are tri-focals. Granny glasses.  Receptionist on Monsters, Inc glasses.  Her name was rose, and the frames are sort of rose, so they are my Rose glasses.  (Insert looking through rose colored glasses joke about me here).  No, you don't get to see them on me! The frames were $9.  I don't wear these in public.

These are the best though. (Nice mug, eh?)  These are bifocal reading glasses.  Picture this. You're a writer.  You're looking at your notes, or are texting on your cell phone, etc. Close up. Strong reading glasses.  Then you glance up at your computer. Blurry.  Switch to reading glasses that are three levels less strong to see computer.  Repeat all day.  Totally annoying, but necessary.  UNLESS, you have these magic glasses which are tuned for BOTH computer and reading.  No more switching!  Bliss.

I called his bluff.  He didn't want what I said we were having, so I flippantly said, "Well then YOU make dinner!"  He said, "Ok, can I make chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and my favorite veggie mix?"  Totally surprised mom.  "Um, sure."  I ended up taking my work into the kitchen and giving advice, but he did it all!  He's no stranger to the kitchen since he's an excellent baker, but he's never made a whole meal.  Add to that the friend he had over was staying for dinner, so extra pressure.  It was great!  (OYT is Our Youngest Teen, 14, for all you new followers!  Hi!  I appreciate you!)

I get to meet AJ of Naturally Sweet!  She was my minion during last year's A-Z Challenge, and this year she's a co-host.  She's going to be in my town for work and we're going out for coffee!  It will be the first time I meet a friend I met online.  I'm so excited!

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hosting IWSG: My Fears, and Encouragement

We're an insecure bunch, aren't we?  I mean, look how many of us there are in this group Alex started.  Published authors.  Multi-published authors.  Best selling authors.  

We also represent a variety of genres, of avenues to get our work out to the masses - both traditionally published, small press published, indie published - yet we all share this one trait.  Insecurity.

Do writer's just need more pats on the back than others?  Are we an egotistical bunch seeking validation and then kinda whining about it when we don't get it?

I don't know.  I've been pondering it lately, because one of the facets of my writing I've been insecure about lately is kinda silly, if I really think about it.  I guess I want just that little pat on the back from non-blogger friends and family.  However, I do know that they don't fully understand what I'm doing and how much it means to me.

They don't understand that getting a gig with a small newsletter for a column every other month is a big deal.  That selling even one story is a huge deal.  Maybe they don't understand the changing nature of today's publishing industry: it's going on-line, it's going increasingly more indie and I think there's no stopping it.  Do they think that because those (to me huge) successes have happened in on-line publications, they aren't as "real".  Guess what?  They are.

That is my personal opinion, though, and I do not in any way mean to say that 

a) everyone in this group feels that way or 

b) that this week's co-host feel that way.  I feel that way.

Therefore, I've decided to focus on other aspects of my role in the current events in my writing path as it unfolds, and to think about the positives of what's happening.

I'm doing here, at Life is Good, what has helped me in the past to get through tough times: helping others.  When we change our focus from what we're lacking  to one of gratitude and reaching out to others, then our insecurities don't matter as much.

I have one of the best gigs in town.  I got picked, chosen, invited three years ago to help organize and run the grand-daddy of all the blog-hops: The A-Z Challenge.  Yes, lots of work.  Yes, non-stop emails that I can't seem to keep up with.

Along with that though, the satisfaction of seeing a new blogger build his or her readership.  The feel-good of I'm so tired I literally fell asleep on my keyboard (last night, writing this at 11 pm) because my day, though a completely stressful day on the personal level, still involved many hours spent on this project.

I get to help promote friend's new blogs: go check out Julie 2 Jules.  Brand new blog, friend of 15 years, met at church, she's just starting out, and yes of course she signed up for the A-Z Challenge.  As should you.  Look up.  Tabs.  Click the Challenge one and join the collective.  Your blog will never be the same.

Sometimes you also get to help out at the last minute to fill in for another friend, to help out a mutual friend.  See how many friends we have as writers?  What a wonderful network we're building and part of? 

When MJ Joachim had a sudden death in the family and had to go out of town, Alex asked me to step in and help co-host THIS gig.  Of course I said yes.  Not because my name will be mentioned in the blogging newspaper (that's kinda how I think of Alex's blog: all the info you need about our community, and little pages of fun stuff like trivia and links to happenings) but because two friends needed me.

Being needed feels good when you're feeling insecure.  Reach out and help someone.  You'll feel better.  I do.


Today's co-hosts are also Elsie, Elizabeth Seckman,  and Julie Flanders! 

Alex “Ninja Captain” Cavanaugh  is our leader for this wonderful, supportive group. Don't forget we even have our own website now.  Be sure to check it out if you haven't already, and "like" our facebook page, too. I'm so impressed with what these talented folks are doing to promote this group! Encouragement month long is now just a click away! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dragon Loyalty Defined

Last week, I was the honored recipient of this lovely award from my A-Z Challenge co-host, MJ Joachim. This lovely lady writes several blogs:

MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host 
Writing Tips
Effectively Human
Lots of Crochet Stitches

You know how much I love awards, AND how hard I'm working on brevity, so instead of giving the award to 12 people, I've picked three.  They are listed in the order of when we met.  

Brian Miller of WaystationOne has been my faithful reader since I started blogging five years ago.  I truly have NO idea how he found me, but he's read just about every post I've ever written, and that's loyalty to me. Yes, I've given him awards just about every time I give them. He's that important to me. He's encouraged, suggested,gently critiqued, and just generally been a true friend through thick and thin.  Thanks, and ...smiles.

Cheryl of Deckside Thoughts I probably met about the same time as Brian.  She has been a constant fixture in my blogging life.  She is one of the rare folks who will actually take seriously that little blurb above the comment box and give an actual critique.  As in this was good but this was bad so go work on that.  PRICELESS. Thanks, Cheryl, for always being true.

The other person who also defines loyalty to me is Gary Pennick of Klahanie.  He's completely all about others, and is devoting his life to helping those with the stigma of mental illness.  As someone who suffers from depression, I was instantly at home at his blog, just from his bio.  We've been friends ever since. I also don't know how we met, but it was probably through Alex, who knows everyone...

I have so many other dear, important, special and loyal friends upon whom I could bestow this award.  So I hereby reserve the right to give out the other 9 at a later date.

As to the seven facts about me?  Really?  You don't know me yet?  Life is Good is about my life.  I use my life to practice writing, and I'm not shy.  If you are new, I do have this handy "About Me" tab up there under the pretty sunflower and flamingo banner that Jeremy made me when he designed my whole blog.

So please visit my friends, and Alex and Jeremy and the rest of the co-hosts and minions and new blogger friends I've recently met through the A-Z sign-ups...MJ already gave them this award to them in groups, so I thought I'd pass it on to friends from other places.  Even though it's training camp time for the Challenge in April, it doesn't mean it's all I'll be writing about. I promise ;-)


P.S Can you imagine how long this would have been if I'd given it to TWELVE people? Who is important in YOUR blogging life? Please share so I can go meet them.

P.P.S WELCOME BACK JEREMY! One of our co-hosts, and buddy of mine broke his ankle but is back in cyber-space today!  We are so relieved.