Getting a great deal more excited to visit him in April!

The biggest and most unexpected gift I got this week was a video jingle from 12 x 12 in 2012 member Tim McCanna. You can see it on the 12 x 12 page, but I’ve included it at the end of this post too. Even if you are not a member – or a writer – it’s worth watching. It’s simply fantastic. Thanks Tim!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Gratitude is one of the least articulate emotions, especially when it is deep.” — Felix Frankfurter

“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.” — Eileen Caddy

“Good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else.” — Buddha

Gratitude list for the week ending November 10

  1. Once again, I have to say the “video jingle” Tim McCanna made for 12 x 12 just blew me completely away. Did I also mention he’s doing the music and narration for A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS? I have no doubt that one day I’ll be able to say, “I knew him when…”
  2. Speaking of TROOP, I am grateful to everyone who signed up to be a TROOPer and to purchase the app on its release day. I’m touched by the willingness of friends and family to help make the app a success in a market where it’s tough to get noticed.
  3. Both of my kids won their basketball games yesterday, but most importantly, they love playing.
  4. Another fantastic Margareaders meeting with a great discussion of the book WILD, by Cheryl Strayed
  5. Close win for Michigan in OT against Northwestern. But “a W is a W” as they say.
  6. Homemade crockpot chili
  7. A Twilight movie marathon with my cousin (and fellow Twitard) in advance of Breaking Dawn II
  8. After schlepping kids around to basketball games all morning and afternoon in cold, wet, slushy snow, being able to come home, don comfy clothes and have nowhere to go for the rest of the day and night.
  9. A productive work week
  10. Finally receiving my copy of DAVID, by Writer’s Renaissance faculty member Mary Hoffman. I read half of it in one sitting yesterday! It’s making me even more excited to go see him when we’re in Florence.
What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Apps, Book Club, Books, College Football, Cooking, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Family, Florence, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Movies, Storybook Apps, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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I’m back with the Gratitude Sunday series with much to report for this week.

Quotes on Gratitude

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” — Aldous Huxley

“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that’s enough for one man’s life.” — T.S. Eliot

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” — Emily Dickenson

Gratitude list for the week ending May 5

  1. MY NEW WEBSITE AND BLOG IS LIVE! I’ve been working on it for more than three months, and it was a major goal for 2012 that I can now check off my list.
  2. Graphic designer Kristy Lehman, who helped me create the anchor image for the site with extremely short notice, and to my friend Beth Thaler for referring her.
  3. I figured out how to create mailing lists, so that I could start sending a monthly newsletter – another 2012 goal.
  4. WordPress plugins. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways – contact forms, Facebook share, Follow widgets, and on and on…
  5. My family, for putting up with my constant working and obsessing this week and giving me the time I needed.
  6. All of my wonderful 12 x 12 in 2012 participants!  They come to my aid when I’m struggling and become an instant cheering section when I have good news.  When I called for 12 x 12 testimonials, I got 35 back in less than two hours!  They have been patient and helpful as I’ve worked out the kinks in the new website. Thank you!
  7. The many friends (both real life and online) and family who, upon hearing I was going through a rough time, reached out and offered comfort, support and assistance.
  8. Getting my March manuscript revised
  9. The fantastic volunteers at my kids’ school who put on the Jogathon event and the Running Club.
  10. Champagne and cupcakes to celebrate the website launch

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Social Media, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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Snow sculpture illuminated by colored spotlights

Much to be grateful for this week!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.” — Aristotle

“Deficiency motivation doesn’t work. It will lead to a life-long pursuit of try to fix me. Learn to appreciate what you have and where and who you are.” — Wayne Dyer

“Many times a day I realize how much my own life is built on the labours of my fellowmen, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” — Albert Einstein

Gratitude list for the week ending February 4

  1. Getting to ski and hang out with great friends, including my bestest girlfriend!
  2. Witnessing more than one beautiful sunrise reflecting on the mountains
  3. Completing my January picture book draft for the 12 x 12 challenge
  4. The incredible community of writers that have come together for the 12 x 12.  They inspire me daily.
  5. Finishing one good book and starting another
  6. Reading THE LAST OF THE REALLY GREAT WHANGDOODLES with the kids
  7. Skype
  8. Writing the last page of a lovely journal (was a gift from the friend above). Great way to end Week 9 of The Artist’s Way.
  9. Snow sculptures in Breckenridge
  10. A long nap on a day I felt under the weather

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Books, Children's Books, Creativity, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Skiing, The Artist's Way, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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I am almost without words to write this post, so overwhelmed by gratitude am I.

Anyone who’s read the blog at all this week knows that I entered a story in the MeeGenius Children’s Author Challenge, A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS.  I started the week at #47 in the rankings (out of 400 entries) with 181 votes.  As of this writing, I was ranked #15 with 479 votes!

I did not gain 298 votes and 32 places in the rankings in the span of 7 days without an enormous amount of help.  In fact, the other night I was driving home and felt so overwhelmed by gratitude, I wondered how I would ever repay the universe (in the form of YOU) for all the good that happened this week.  So, this week’s Gratitude Sunday list will be focused on just a few things among many that gave me cause for gratitude this week.  Many thanks to each and every person who voted for the story, encouraged me with positive feedback and made me believe I could do this.  No matter what the end result of the contest is, I can truly say this has been a phenomenal experience, and one that has made me more certain than ever that I am on the right path.

Quotes on Gratitude

“No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”  — Alfred North Whitehead

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” — Charles Dickens

“A noble person is mindful and thankful for the favors of others.” — Buddha

Gratitude list for the week ending December 17

  1. First on the list is Christine Zandstra, a friend and fellow parent at my kids’ school.  She got one of the first, fairly timid emails I sent out asking people to vote for my story.  She not only praised the book, but suggested that the school and parents get behind it.  She shared the link to my story nearly every day, and was responsible for drawing it to the attention of the school librarian, the principal, and the PTO.  She gave me the confidence that the story really was worth promoting.  I also thank Bina Moser, PTO President, who didn’t hesitate to send a message to parents about the story and ask them to vote when the time drew nigh.
  2. Laura Barnes, fellow children’s author and marketing guru who stepped in to give me some extremely helpful advice on how to promote the story.  I think the results speak for themselves, but even more than her specific tactics, what helped me the most was the fact that she gave me permission to go out and go for it.  I learned more in one week about marketing than I would have in a year were it not for her.
  3. Julie Berghoff and Sheila Gil, two very good friends and fellow Margareaders.  At a party Monday night, they both insisted I was still being too shy and urged me to go out and ask people to share my story within their networks.  They both proceeded to do that the very next day, in the nicest way possible, without even waiting for me to ask.  The very definition of a good friend.
  4. The Gaylord Herald Times, the local paper of my hometown, stepped in on very short notice to write a “hometown girl makes good” story.  Neighbors and childhood friends I hadn’t heard from in years saw the story and voted.  One 82 year-old woman, who doesn’t have a computer, clipped the article from the paper to take with her on her visit to her children so they could vote for her.
  5. Speaking of Gaylord, my high school friends went above and beyond to help.  Posting and re-posting the story.  Cheering me on.  The ties that bind, as they say…
  6. Fellow bloggers and writers Nancy Hatch, Debbie Diesen, and C.B. Wentworth hosted me on very short notice for an impromptu blog tour.  Their readers stepped in and provided both votes and encouragement.  Thank you!
  7. There are too many to name individually, but the folks who entered the contest I posted last Sunday have blogged about the story, promoted it on Facebook, and tweeted it every single day to their followers.  It made a huge difference, and I am so thankful for their support. :-)
  8. For the past two months, I have participated in a blogging class for writers led by Kristen Lamb based on her best-selling book on the subject – We Are Not Alone.  As a result, the 100 members of WANA 1011 supported me wholeheartedly and helped me spread the word.  A special shout-out to Diane Capri who, like Christine and Laura, told me to just go out and ask people for help and forget about being shy or afraid.  So I did. (I hope you’re not regretting that now Diane! :-))  But to all the members of the WANA team, you have proven that the title of Kristen’s book is true.
  9. My brother Jeff, who has a fierce competitive streak, jumped in on Wednesday to galvanize his extensive network.  I’m pretty sure I had the biggest jump that day, plus the pleasure of two-days worth of texting back and forth about my ranking and how far I had to go to move to the next one.
  10. Last, but most definitely not least, I am immensely grateful for every last person who voted for my story, offered an encouraging word, or shared the link with others.  It turns out it really does take a village, and I am blessed to live in such a generous one.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Publishing, Social Media, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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At the top of my list for this week’s Gratitude Sunday post is a story that’s too long for a bullet point.  When we were in Italy this summer, on our last night in Camogli, I took the kids to a notebook/paper shop and got them each a little journal.  Last night, when I told Jay it was time for bed he said, “Hang on a minute, I’m writing a book.”  The ‘book’ was his journal, which he had taken to bed with him. “Do you want to read my book?”  Of course I did.

“It’s a book about everything I love,” he said.

Chapter 1:

Mom

Em

Dad

Rocky

Chapter 2:

Family — He then clarified, “That’s the WHOLE family – like all THIRTY of them.”

Chapter 1000:

F A M I L Y !!!!

I told him, honestly, that it was the best book I ever read!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.” — Ovid

“Desire, ask, believe, receive.” — Stella Terrill Mann

“A person however learned and qualified in his life’s work in whom gratitude is absent, is devoid of that beauty of character which makes personality fragrant.” — Hazrat Inayat Khan

Gratitude List for the week ending December 3

  1. I am so grateful for EVERYONE who has voted so far for my entry in the MeeGenius Children’s Author contest.  Your support means so much to me, regardless of the outcome.
  2. Finishing PiBoIdMo as a Winner – woo hoo!  Wrap-up post coming soon!
  3. The incredible response to the launch of the 12 x 12 in 2012 Picture Book Writing Challenge. As of this writing, we’re up to 82 participants!!
  4. My homemade lasagna, even though the kids didn’t like it
  5. The gorgeous field I get to walk Rocky in each day.  It’s beautiful in every season (see video above).
  6. Em had her second audition for a new play and thinks she did very well.
  7. Speaking with a long-distance friend on the phone
  8. Despite the hassle it brings, I’m grateful for the snow.  We want a White Christmas AND a great ski season!!
  9. I am trying to be grateful for the fact that I can’t read this week.  I am assuming that I will learn a great deal and the experience will be worthwhile.  I also appreciate the words of support and sympathy from friends. :-)
  10. Flannel sheets

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Children's Books, Creativity, Dogs, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, The Artist's Way, Winter · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Here to teach you, I am

One of the coolest things I did this week was watch The Empire Strikes Back with the kids.  My all-time favorite of the Star Wars movies.  And while the things Yoda says are not exactly about gratitude, they certainly are wise.  A strong spiritual teacher, is he.  So in lieu of quotes on gratitude, this week, sharing my favorite yoda-isms am I.  Enjoy.

Yoda Quotes

“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

“For my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us… and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this… [nudging Luke's arm] crude matter! You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock… everywhere!”

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”

And a fun favorite…

When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not, hm?

Gratitude list for the week ending August 13

  1. Well, watching The Empire Strikes Back with the kids.  Em’s reaction to the “big reveal” of Luke’s father was the exact same as mine.  NOOOOO!  She hasn’t stopped talking about it since.
  2. Two “date nights” with Mom.  One nice dinner out and another to go see The Help.  I almost never like movies made from books I love, but they did a great job with this one.
  3. In preparation for WriteOnCon this week, drafting two query letters and starting a comprehensive revision on another manuscript I have brewing.  Good to be back in the game.
  4. My first post-Italy pilates class.  Felt good to start to counter-balance the impact of the pizza, pasta, gelato summer.
  5. Crickets chirping (I know I said that last week too, but it’s so lovely to work at my computer in the evening to their nighttime serenade)
  6. The health of my family and friends.  I am always thankful for this, but tragedy struck a dear friend of a dear friend of mine this week, which always puts the important things in life in sharp perspective.  My heart is with my friend and her friend’s family.
  7. I have received unexpected and surprising compliments on my posts about Italy this week.  I’m glad, because I have so enjoyed writing them.
  8. My dictionary and my thesaurus.  And Rhymezone.com.  How my writing would be so much more of a struggle without them!
  9. Gearing up for the start of school – tomorrow!  This is bittersweet, as I’ll send my baby on the bus this year.  But he’s ready, so I should be too.
  10. Having a girl’s night with Em – getting a mani/pedi together

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Movies, Spirituality, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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Gratitude Sundays are back!  I didn’t post them while we were in Italy because, frankly, every post I wrote about Italy was a gratitude post.  Now that I’m home, I want to get back into the habit of reflecting on the week with thankfulness.  So here goes.

Quotes on Gratitude

“Although the constant shadow of certain death looms over every day, the pleasures and joys of life can be so fine and affecting that the heart is nearly stilled in astonishment.” — Dean Koontz

“The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air, but simply walking on this earth.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

“Heat cannot be separated from the fire, or beauty from The Eternal.” — Dante Alighieri

Gratitude list for the week ending August 6

  1. Coming home.  Even though it was difficult to leave Italy, so too is it good to be back home.
  2. BRINGING ROCKY HOME!  The highlight of the homecoming, of course, was getting our dog back.
  3. Having lunch with my friend Jane in VA.  We met the day before and the day after I left for Italy, which bookended the trip nicely.
  4. Getting together with my good friend Amy and her son – Jay’s best friend.
  5. My father-in-law is feeling better after having some health issues while we were gone.
  6. My mom picking us up from the airport in Denver and then having a ready-made dinner for us.
  7. Crickets chirping at night.
  8. Yummy grilled cheeseburger – first one in two months.
  9. A trip to the Boulder Farmer’s Market.
  10. The swell of inspiration I brought home with me from Italy.  I can’t wait to start putting it to use in my writing and other endeavors.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy · Tags: , , , , , ,

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Conked out on drive from Milan to Camogli

Here is one thing I’ve learned about jet-lag and children: no amount of soothing, begging, pleading, bribing or threatening will make them fall asleep in the middle of that first night when their body clocks are so off-kilter.  The best you can do is hold them while they cry and remember that, once upon a time, you used to do this every night and be glad it’s temporary…

So the kids are here!  They treated me to a spectacular greeting at the airport – knockdown hugs and endless kisses.  Phil said they did an amazing job on the trip, so our only hiccup was that first sleepless night.  Now with Day 3 under our belts, they are almost completely adjusted.

Meanwhile, the character of my little hometown of Camogli – and yes I am feeling proprietary about it after being here for a couple of weeks now – has changed dramatically over the last few days.   Somebody must have sent out the all-points bulletin that it’s July.  Beach chairs are rented out by 9:00 a.m. and people are packed onto the beach like sardines.  Restaurants are fully booked for dinner by mid-afternoon, AND the chocolate croissants from my favorite bakery have been sold out before I’ve been able to get there for three days in a row.  The kids think I am making them up.  The discos rage into the wee hours, with dancing on the beach.  It’s still wonderful – just different.  Interesting to watch the transition to full summer.

Our friends Diana and Renato came with their kids from Milan on Saturday.  Although it’s been two years since we’ve seen them, after just a few minutes of catching up it felt more like two days.  (Probably not for Diana, however, since she had another baby in the interim).  The kids picked right up where they left off and are having a blast together.

Port of Camogli as we depart for Punta Chiappa

One particularly special memory was our dinner last night in Punta Chiappa, a tiny fishing hamlet that is reachable from Camogli only on foot or by boat.  We took a water taxi over just before sunset.  The sea was choppy and the boat smacked down over the waves, splashing spray and delighting the kids.  We then climbed up (always up) the cliffside and sat at a table overlooking the ocean – right at the peak of sunset.  We were shaded by a large umbrella pine, the scent of which mingled with the aroma of the sea and garlic wafting from the kitchen.  Stomachs rumbled.

The kids ate quick plates of pasta, and then the waiter let them go up on the roof of the hotel, which is used as a “beach” for the guests, complete with sand that the owners must haul in from somewhere.  So the kids got to play in this rooftop sandbox while the grownups got to share fresh fish prepared in three different ways, accompanied by a delicious white Ligurian wine.  Best of all, we had some genuine adult conversation.  The sky hung the slightest sliver of a moon that glimmered orange as the sun set.  Magic.

View from the dinner table

The waiter entertained and indulged the kids by taking them into the kitchen for a spoonful of the hazelnut ganache they were planning to use for the desserts.  He wanted to make sure the kids approved.  Of course they did.  We then got back on the boat to make the trip home in the dark, the lights of Camogli twinkling in the distance.

As Em said when she came into the apartment for the first time and saw the view, “This is so the life!”  Yes it is.

This IS so the life! (Blurry because of choppy boat ride...)

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A birthday toast

I am so overwhelmed and touched by all of the well-wishes from friends and family near and far for my birthday this past Tuesday.  It really makes me feel like I’ve celebrated with you all.  I had such a great day, and the fun continues this weekend as my stepmother and my brother and his girlfriend arrived today.  We’ll have dinner at a top-notch restaurant, go gallivanting at the Boulder Creek festival, have a big BBQ at our house on Sunday, and cap off the fun with the Bolder Boulder 10k on Monday.  Not too bad, I have to say.

My kids both finished school this week too.  Today Jay “graduated” from preschool in a sweet little ceremony.  Between the two kids, we’ve spent 6 years at that school, so it was very bittersweet saying goodbye.  The teachers and staff have been like family and have loved and taken such wonderful care of our children. These transitions are difficult for us parents as we helplessly watch our children grow up too fast.  BUT, we’re all excited for the next era in Jay’s life – elementary school.

We’re also excited for our summer adventures, and in general, everything just feels great right now.  I haven’t been getting much writing done, but I know that time will return.  For now, I am my life, my family and my friends.  I can’t ask for much more than that.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend to my U.S. friends.  May your barbeques be sunny and your flowers be blooming…

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