Piglet GratitudeI write this post to the sound of the ocean waves outside the window–quite possibly the most soothing sound on earth. Lucky me! I have much to be grateful for this week, so let’s just get started. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know my love of Rumi. All of our quotes today are his, including one that mentions the ocean. Apropos of my location.

Quotes on Gratitude

“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.”

“Gratitude is wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.”

“Love rests on no foundation. It is an endless ocean, with no beginning or end.”

 

Gratitude list for the week ending March 7

  1. I am grateful that my friend Lara France, who lives in England and who has never even met me in person, sent me the image I’ve shared on this post saying she “thought of me” when she saw it.
  2. Another friend, Carmela LaVigna Coyle, recommended me to the loveliest new children’s bookstore that’s opened in Denver called Second Star to the Right. I met with them on Tuesday. They not only booked me for a reading, but bought four copies of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN right out of my hands because they “couldn’t wait for their order to come in” from Baker & Taylor!
  3. Speaking of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN, I got a call from a school principal in Denver who loves the book. She invited me to come for an author visit, and… they are going to buy 300+ copies of the book!!!! One for every child in the school. Grateful for my friend Marcie Colleen who created the fabulous Teacher’s Guide for the book, which helped them make the case for funding for the book purchase.
  4. Fate put me in the path of a friend I don’t see often in the form of lunch at the Atlanta airport, making for what is no doubt the most enjoyable layover I’ve ever had.
  5. Continuing on the friendship theme, I’ve had a wonderful time working with Emma Walton Hamilton on The Complete Picture Book Submissions System. Today is the last day of our product launch, and we’ve spent countless hours working together over the past few months. It’s been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun because we were in it together.
  6. I had the honor of hosting a webinar featuring agent Jill Corcoran on Thursday. She was so generous of her time and wisdom, and it was a raging success!
  7. My kids were particularly sweet and well-behaved this week. Nuff said.
  8. Sledding with the kiddos in Carpenter Park followed by hot chocolate
  9. My stepmother treated me to this much-needed break from winter and the accumulated stress of two of the busiest months I’ve ever had. I haven’t yet walked on the beach, but that is on the agenda as soon as this post goes live.
  10. My assistant Kelli, without whom my business would unravel to the point of being unrecognizable.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, My Love For You Is The Sun, Picture Books, Travel · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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Florence Panorama WRI am beyond excited to share the brand new website for Writer’s Renaissance. Now going into its third year, I decided the retreat deserved a home as beautiful and inspiring as Florence itself. I think the new site achieves this goal, and I hope you think so too.

People often ask me how I got the idea for Writer’s Renaissance and why, when I am quite obviously busy with many other projects, I continue to run the retreat. I’ve found that the obvious answer – “Uh, have you ever BEEN to Florence?” – doesn’t quite satisfy. My biography page on the new website provides some explanation, but I’m not sure I had the full answer until after I returned from the 2014 retreat.

To say the start to the 2014 Writer’s Renaissance retreat proved a challenge would be a huge understatement. The hardship really began at the end of January when one of my neighbors shot my dog in cold blood (bear with me – the story gets better). Luckily, and miraculously he survived, but the ordeal took its toll physically, emotionally, and financially. I spent almost a month lost in a fog just trying to make up for lost time and $.

Then, less than 24 hours before I departed for Florence, Lufthansa went on strike, failed to rebook me, and was not responding to any calls. I had no choice but to purchase a brand new ticket for about 8 times the price of my original. I still have received no refund or compensation (or even a response for that matter) from Lufthansa to this day. But that’s another story…

So I arrived in Florence exhausted, stressed, and worried about how I would manage to create the outstanding experience the 2014 women participants were expecting, and knowing I had to. I have a deep sense of responsibility to everything I undertake, but when women put their time, money, and hearts into my hands, well, letting them down is not an option.

But the city began to work its magic on me immediately. On my first evening, the soft sunshine slipped into a sorbet

La Bella Notte a Firenze.

La Bella Notte a Firenza.

sunset as I enjoyed my first gelato of the trip on the Santa Trinita bridge, gazing at the Ponte Vecchio. I visited my favorite paper shop, reconnected with friends over dinner, and fell into bed at my “home away from home” hotel. After two full days of basking in the beauty of Florence, the vice grip around my heart began to loosen. I was both ready and eager to meet the renaissance women of 2014.

Traveling, especially by oneself, is both rewarding and challenging in myriad ways. First, it is an assault to our senses. The people, the food, the atmosphere, the culture – all might be vastly different from our home. Some of these changes are welcome and exciting, and others can be frustrating and frightening. Often it is difficult to predict which reaction you are going to have to what triggers, making it difficult to find equilibrium.

Yet, this kind of travel holds the power and possibility of transformation more than any other. When we jolt ourselves out of our comfort zones, we suddenly become more aware of our surroundings and more present in our experiences.

For example, each time I go to Florence, the very first gelato I eat is always the best, regardless of the flavor I choose. Why? Because of the distance between the last gelato I ate on my previous trip and the first bite on this one. I haven’t yet acclimated to the flavor, and the reunion is delicious indeed. The first time I hear cathedral bells ringing can move me to tears. And don’t even get me started on the smell of garlic wafting from whatever plate of pasta I’ve ordered.

gromSince so much of writing is noticing, sensory stimulation is great fodder for the page. But even more transformative is the fact that our emotions are also on high alert during travel. Whatever we might have lurking under the surface of our consciousness tends to come forth HUGE when traveling. Getting out of our daily routines forces us to confront our lives in a way we cannot when we’re on the treadmill of life. This confrontation leads to introspection, self-discovery and sometimes even epiphany.

During Writer’s Renaissance 2014, I learned that I had been letting fear take center stage in my life. I was holding on to emotions and ideas that were not serving me, my loved ones, or my work. Every day since my return from Florence, I have recited a mantra in the morning reminding myself not to act in fear, but in love and trust instead.

I can also tie other trips to life-changing (and life-affirming) decisions. The one where I learned my anxiety was taking over my life and needed to be treated. The one where I decided I HAD to leave my job and pursue my dream of writing. The one where I rediscovered the intensity, beauty, and brevity of life and realized I needed to leave my marriage. Then there was Writer’s Renaissance 2013, my first post-divorce trip, that made me realize how fully ME I was, and how ready I was to let go of the past and begin anew. Time and again, travel brings me back to myself, re-roots me to the earth and to my life, and gives me inspiration that sustains me long after the trip has ended. The outward journey always leads to inward journey. Rebirth, renewal, renaissance.

To end with the beginning, I started Writer’s Renaissance because I wanted to share the transformative power of travel with other women. Because once your senses have been stimulated, your emotions heightened, your self examined, you simply cannot remain the same person, and I believe the insights gained always lead to positive (or necessary) change.

Some even ask – “Why Florence?” I think what they mean is, it’s so far from where I live. Why not run a similar retreat here in the States?

david-1024x739That answer is easy. Traveling to Florence will cure anyone of the idea that dreams are not achievable. Look into the eyes of Michelangelo’s David and tell me if you still believe anything you might want to do or create is impossible.

Go on. I dare you.

Categories: Creativity, Florence, Italy, Spirituality, Travel, Travel Writing, Uncategorized, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Finally got to meet Emma!

Finally got to meet Emma!

Wow! I’ve been so busy half the summer has gone by without a Gratitude Sunday post. So today I’ll be catching up on all the “big” things I’ve had to be grateful for the past six weeks (and there are many).

One of the events that transpired during this time was the passing of Walter Dean Myers, a national treasure in the realm of children’s literature and poetry in the U.S. In addition to authoring more than 100 books, many award-winners, most featuring people of color and the hardships they face, Myers served as the second National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Today’s quotes are all from Myers, in honor of his illustrious career and his service to the youth of this country and his unwavering commitment to literacy.

Quotes from Walter Dean Myers

“Once I began to read, I began to exist.”

“Children who don’t read are, in the main, destined for lesser lives. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to change this.”

“We need to tell young people that America was built by men and women of all colors and that the future of this country is dependent upon the participation of all our citizens.”

“We need to tell kids flat out: reading is not optional.”

“I’ll never live to write all the stories in my head.”

Gratitude List for the summer so far

  1. Our cruise to Alaska – otherwordly, beautiful, and devastating (because so much of the wilderness is at risk) all
    On Meade glacier

    On Meade glacier

    at the same time

  2. Walking on a glacier – one of the most profound experiences of my life
  3. Being able to attend the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction conference as a speaker, while I also learned a huge amount about this burgeoning area of children’s books.
  4. Meeting Emma Walton Hamilton for the first time after 2+ years of friendship. And getting to stay in their lovely guest cottage, which I have dubbed the HamiltINN.
  5. Seeing so many wonderful friends old and new throughout my 10-day sojourn through NY and NJ. Here too, I have to shout out to 12 x 12 members. Because of them, there’s nary a place in the world I could go and not find a friend. 🙂
  6. Spending the 4th of July on Boulder creek with my kids, my mom, and Rocky
  7. FIREWORKS
  8. My new camera, which is so beautifully capturing all of these events I’m grateful for.
  9. Good old-fashioned summer fun. Everyone knows I love traveling. But I’ve had these past two weeks at home with the kids eating ice cream, going to outdoor concerts and swimming pools, having movie nights and staying up late. Sometimes it’s just good to be home.
  10. Planning for the launch of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. I am so excited to release this book of my heart. P.S. There is also a Goodreads Giveaway for a signed copy right now.

What are you grateful for this week?

Firework

Categories: 12 x 12, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Poetry, Summer, Travel · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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View from the private terrace off my room. La Bella Notte a Firenza.

View from the private terrace off my room. La Bella Notte a Firenza.

I am watching a sorbet sun sink into the Arno directly from the bed of my hotel room in Florence, having successfully completed the the second annual Writer’s Renaissance. Made new lifelong friends and connected with old ones (as in time, not age :-)), so it is impossible to feel anything but deep gratitude, albeit with just a touch of sadness that it has to come to an end. But every ending is also a beginning, and I look forward to greeting spring back in Boulder.

I have only one gratitude quote for you today, which sums up the week perfectly.

“The world is made up of five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and the Florentines.” — Pope Alexander VI

“A vero,” as the Italians say. “It’s true.”

Gratitude list for the week ending April 12

  1. Enzo and Maria Ferrara, for bringing me once again into the Porcellino family and feeding me so exquisitely (and so often)!
  2. Jackie, Suzanne, Teri, Mary, and Jane – my Renaissance writers of 2014. Buona fortuna mi amici e ci vediamo a presto

    "Last Supper" in Florence. Ciao Bellas!

    “Last Supper” in Florence. Ciao Bellas!. It was a great pleasure to share “my” Florence with you, and I was honored to write with you and to hear your stories. Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep living. KEEP IN TOUCH!!

  3. Mary Hoffman, for returning once again to share her intimate knowledge of Florence and its history and her writerly wisdom. AND for putting up with a bit of tardiness from yours truly.
  4. Sarah Towle, for bringing us nose to nose with the Florence of the Medicis and “turning history on” for us.
  5. To Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Brunelleschi, and Fra Filippo Lippi for sending your ghosts to the gazebo in the form of a very
    Taglietteli con sugo di Cinghiale from Osteria del Porcellino

    Taglietteli con sugo di Cinghiale from Osteria del Porcellino

    unique play.

  6. Gelato, gelato, gelato! Nocciola, Pistachio, Bacio, Noce, Mandorla, etc. etc.
  7. To Riccardo for making me my own piece of Florentine paper and for always making such gorgeous notebooks
  8. Andrea Gagnesi for once again teaching a cooking course that was unforgettable in every way
  9. To my family, for tolerating my absence and supporting me while I run this event, which I’m sure most people think is crazy at best.
  10. SO MUCH MORE! TOO MUCH TO INCLUDE IN ONE POST! Grazie Mille Firenze!

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Authors, Cooking, Creativity, Florence, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Travel, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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anti-resolutionTwo years ago I wrote a blog post that grabbed the attention and touched the heart of none other than Katie Davis, who is now one of my very best friends. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. Katie was so inspired by that post, she created her own special tool to capture her accomplishments throughout the year and evaluate them at the end. She has graciously offered to share this workbook with you – click here for more info.

Here is an excerpt from the original post:

It is so tempting to start listing all the things one wants to accomplish at the start of a New Year, but in my experience, the process (and thus the result) is flawed.

I believe the reason resolutions often don’t work is because they start from a place of lack, of negativity, of failure.  We think about all the things we weren’t happy with in the previous year and set out to “fix” them in the new one…  Lose weight = I weigh too much…  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Write more often = I don’t write enough

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, and achieving them is even better.  However, the goals need to be set on a strong foundation.  So I figured, why not start with what I did accomplish this year and set goals from there.  Let’s first celebrate success and then determine how to carry that forward into the New Year, rather than berating ourselves for what did not get done..

I didn’t write a similar post in 2013, but I should have. It is CRITICAL to reflect on what you DID accomplish in the previous year. How else can you build from the base you already have? If you don’t take the time to tally up and celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, your resolutions will crumble. You’ll be starting from scratch in every category, and starting from scratch feels scary.

Here is what GOALS (vs. resolutions) look like when crafted this way. Lose weight = What did I do last year to improve my health, and what can I do to continue that progress? Make more money = How much money did I make last year, from which sources, and how can I increase output from those sources and add new ones? Write more often = What did I write this year and how am I going to use that writing in the new year while also writing new stories/articles/books, etc.?

Here’s an example from my own year. All year long, in my head, I lamented how little writing I got done. So much so that by the end of the year I was sure I’d done almost nothing. Yesterday, when I tallied it all up, I was pleasantly to find I’d written far more than I thought I had. I had written full drafts that I’d completely forgotten about. Drafts that I can continue revising and working with this year.

I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself. So let’s get started.

Here is a list of my major professional accomplishments of 2013. 

In addition to this list, I ran the 12 x 12 challenge all year, wrote new drafts and revised existing ones, and continued to contribute to Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast. Whew! I’ll be sure to come back to this whenever I feel discouraged about how much I “don’t get done.” 🙂

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list!

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Florence, Goals, Holidays, How I Got My Agent, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Travel, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Works in Progress, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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View out the window from my writing spot this weekend!

View out the window from my writing spot this weekend!

It’s been another crazy week over here in Julie-land. I embarked upon one of the most exhilarating and terrifying journeys I’ve ever taken. I announced that I am attempting to crowdfund my next picture book via Kickstarter. This particular book is so close to my heart, and I underestimated the emotional impact of going “live” with the announcement. Nonetheless, I am so grateful to have a fantastic team, not behind me, but WITH me. This includes not only those directly involved, but also my “Crowdfunding Crew,” my “Mastermind group,” and all of the people who left comments of support and encouragement on my blog this week. THANK YOU!

Quotes on Gratitude

“I have never interviewed a single person who talks about the capacity to really experience and soften into joy who does not practice gratitude.” Brene’ Brown

“Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.” — David Thomas

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” — Albert Einstein

Gratitude list for the week ending October 26

  1. Everyone who shared the news about my crowdfunding project and/or left encouraging comments. Every share, every comment, every “You Go Girl!” makes a HUGE difference in my outlook.
  2. Fantastic Girl’s Night out with the book group gals
  3. Having the honor of guest blogging, TODAY, for Tara Lazar in preparation for Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo)

    Can't beat a great Girl's Night!

    Can’t beat a great Girl’s Night!

  4. Spending the weekend in Breckenridge with my critique group for a writing retreat where all we do is… write.
  5. Having one of the best meals (and cocktails) I’ve ever consumed on Friday night as we began the retreat.
  6. The spectacular, invigorating mountain air, which seems to feed my creativity (and my soul).
  7. Lita, for sharing her most lovingly created and decorated vacation home with us. I could not imagine a better place to write or better company with whom to write.
  8. Both A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS and A SHIVER OF SHARKS were nominated for Cybils awards in the book app category!
  9. A great meeting with Jon Bard at Children’s Book Insider, on his porch on a gorgeous fall day in Fort Collins, CO
  10. My mom’s flank steak, which fed me three times during a very busy week

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Creativity, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Storybook Apps, Travel, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Now available everywhere books are sold!

Now available everywhere books are sold!

Well, despite being down with a cold and an eye infection, this has been a banner week! I celebrated the official print release of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS, for starters. Read on for more!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Gratitude opens the door to… the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. Gratitude opens the door.” — Deepak Chopra

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly.” — Tony Robbins

“If you get, give. If you learn, teach.” — Maya Angelou

Gratitude list for the week ending October 19

  1. A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS is now available at Amazon and all bookstores!
  2. I am an “official” author at Amazon! Check out my new author page.
  3. I have been making videos for various purposes all week and am once again grateful to Katie Davis for her Video Idiot
    I'm an Amazon Author!

    I’m an Amazon Author!

    Boot Camp class. Taught me everything I know!

  4. My housekeeper/life manager Laurie Mekelberg returned after a month of surgery recovery. She was SO missed and any illusion I might have had that I can get by without her is completely gone.
  5. Gorgeous fall weather and colors, plus the first snowfall!
  6. Cold enough for bubble bath season to begin
  7. Getting some legal issues taken care of. Not sexy, but necessary, and it’s a relief to be done.
  8. Visiting some of the cutest dogs and puppies known to humanity at the Humane Society. I wanted to take them ALL home!
  9. Writer’s Renaissance 2014 met its minimum number of participants, so I’ll be going to Florence again in April!
  10. Everything is in place for me to make a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT about my next publishing project tomorrow!!! Stay tuned. All the details will be right here tomorrow. 🙂

What are you grateful for this week?

Puppies

How can your spirits not be lifted when there are puppies in the world this cute?

Categories: A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Dogs, Florence, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Publishing, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Writer's Renaissance · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Goofing off with Jim Averbeck, a contributor to this podcast episode, at the Black & White Ball.

Goofing off with Jim Averbeck, a contributor to this podcast episode, at the Black & White Ball.

Yesterday, I did something unprecedented. I hijacked Katie Davis‘ Brain Burps podcast. Took it all for myself!

Why?

So I could share all of the amazing, astounding gratitude quotes I got from faculty members at SCBWI-LA. The likes of Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Bruce Degen, Ellen Hopkins, David Diaz, Lin Oliver, Marla Frazee, Paul Zelinsky… The list goes on.

I so hope you will all listen because it will be impossible not be inspired (and perhaps a little teary) afterward. Plus it’s short. It had to be because I had Katie tied up in the closet with duct tape over her mouth!!

My apologies to Katie for taking such drastic measures, but I’ve been traveling so much I wasn’t able to write a Gratitude Sunday post after the LA conference. I think this podcast episode will do well in its place.

To use Jon Scieszka’s “word” from the conference (you’ll hear more about that in the podcast) — ENJOY!

Categories: Authors, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Creativity, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, SCBWI, Travel, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Biking the Golden Gate

Biking the Golden Gate

This week I had the privilege of visiting my favorite city in the United States with my kids. It was their first of what I hope will be many trips to San Francisco.

Quotes on Gratitude

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein

“Rise free from care before the dawn and seek adventure. Let the noon find you by other lakes, and the night overtake thee everywhere at home. There are no larger fields than these, no worthier games than may here be played.” — Henry David Thoreau

“I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.” – Shug, The Color Purple

“When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bay… oh I want to be there in my city. Oh, oh ohohoh!” — Journey

Gratitude list for the week ending July 17

  1. Gorgeous “summer” weather in San Francisco. Upper sixties, only enough fog to make it beautiful, and sunny blue skies!
  2. We biked from Fisherman’s Wharf, ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, into Sausolito, ferried back and then biked
    Tea tasting in Chinatown

    Tea tasting in Chinatown

    from Pier 1 along Embarcadero back to Fisherman’s Wharf. BLAST!

  3. We biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, et. al. and I managed to keep my children alive!
  4. Taking the “Duck” tour of the city and the kids getting a chance to “drive” the “boat.”
  5. Eating at Kuleto’s on Powell St. Was completely under-appreciated  by the kids, but I was happy. 🙂
  6. Dim Sum for lunch in SoMo.
  7. Tea tasting and souvenir scavenging in Chinatown
  8. CITY LIGHTS BOOKSTORE!
  9. Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl
  10. Driving down Lombard Street.

And so much more!

What are you grateful for this week?

City Lights Bookstore

City Lights Bookstore

Categories: Family, Gratitude Sunday, Travel · Tags: , , , , , ,

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Katie and I enjoy Vin Santo

Katie and I enjoy Vin Santo

Wow, it’s been WAY too long since I’ve written a Gratitude Sunday post, but as many of you know I’ve been on a whirlwind European trip that included hosting the first annual Writer’s Renaissance retreat.

I am still marinating in the memories of the trip, and there will be more to come about the retreat and the experience as a whole. In the meantime, there are so many people who made the trip extraordinary that I wanted to dedicate one post just to thanking them.

The quotes this week are not about gratitude exclusively, but they embody the spirit of Writer’s Renaissance. They come from icons of Florentine history — da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto and Dante. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Quotes on Gratitude

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” — Leonardo da Vinci

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo

“Take pleasure in your dreams; relish your principles and drape your purest feelings on the heart of a precious lover.” — Giotto di Bondone

“As flowerlets drooped and puckered in the night turn up to the returning sun and spread their petals wide on his new warmth and light — just so my wilted spirits rose again and such a heat of zeal surged through my veins that I was born anew.” — Dante Alighieri

Gratitude list for the weeks ending April 20

  1. First and foremost, the blue ribbon gratitude award goes to friend-extraordinaire Katie Davis, who not only led two
    Keep Calm and Make Friends with an Italian! Thanks Tommaso!

    Keep Calm and Make Friends with an Italian! Thanks Tommaso!

    outstanding sessions at Writer’s Renaissance, but also kept me sane and happy throughout. Thank you for enduring emotional outbursts, late nights, afternoon naps and a constant obsession over the schedule. I could not imagine having more fun than we did. “Bye, bye wine!” 🙂

  2. Thanks to Tommaso at the Hotel Davanzati for riding in on his Italian horse and helping me find two more restaurants for WR after I was treated abysmally by two others – both on the same night. I’m sure it’s not often he has to contend with a grown American woman bursting into tears in his lobby, but he handled it with much patience and grace and, truth be told, some tough love (paraphrasing – “get over it and get back out there”). Thanks also to you and your father Fabrizio for allowing Katie and I, in the words of one of your other guests, to “objectify you” for purposes of our promotional video. 😉
  3. Speaking of restaurants, Grazie Mille to Enzo at Osteria del Porcellino for hosting WR so beautifully and enthusiastically for our first dinner, but even more so for your friendship, for the dancing :-), and for bringing me into the Porcellino family for the duration of my stay in Florence.

    2013-04-06 21.06.38Enzo

    With Enzo at Osteria del Porcellino

  4. Authors Lisa Clifford and Mary Hoffman christened the WR retreat with fabulous sessions in the gorgeous Boboli gardens and Brancacci Chapel. Your books have also kept me wonderful company these past months, so thank you for writing them! And Mary, as promised, I still chuckle at random times over the dirty joke you told in the chapel cloister. Only at a women’s writing retreat would that happen, right?!?
  5. Andrea, the chef at Badia a Coltibuono and our cooking teacher, was
    NO Canned Beans!!

    NO Canned Beans!!

    responsible for capping WR with a grand finale that couldn’t have been improved even with canned beans. 😉 The food “we” made was otherworldly, but even better was the sound of the constant laughter echoing off those ancient walls. Wow!

  6. To Esther, Carolyn, Laura, Cory, Margit and Mary Alice: I meant what I said when I called us the WR family. You ladies will always have an honored place in my heart as the first of those who went on this adventure with me. We packed enough laughter into one week to last me a year, and I will be forever grateful for your trust and friendship. Alla prossima volta! (til next time)
  7. To Cristina, Daniel, Maria, Martina and yes, our dear Lorenzo, plus all of the other wonderful staff at Antica Torre
    Saluti!

    Saluti!

    Tornabuoni. During our stay with you we felt, not like guests, but like treasured friends.

  8. My dear, dear friend Diana and her husband Renato hosted me again for a couple of days in Milan after the retreat. Diana and I are soul sisters separated by an ocean, and while no amount of time is ever enough, we always seem to be able to make the most of what we get. Thank you for the heart-to-heart, the wonderful food and simply for being you!!
  9. Thanks again to Mary Hoffman and also Lucy Coats for adopting me in London and helping me find my way out of the book fair. I might still be clanging around in there if it weren’t for you guys!! You two, plus new friends Michelle, Anne and Diane were so wonderful to include me in your festivities.
  10. Thanks to my long-lost friend Pietro for taking time out of his insanely busy schedule to reconnect in London. It never ceases to amaze me how, with old friends, you can pick up where you left off as if no time had passed. In our case 20 years had gone by, and yet it could have been yesterday. As you get older, those touchstones into the past become all the more precious, and there is nothing quite like spending time with someone who knew you in your youth – for better or worse. 😉
  11. Last, but most definitely not least, I must add a bonus item to this week’s list to thank Nancy, Phil, my mother and Laurie for making it possible for me to do the trip in the first place. Knowing the kids, the house and the dog were in good hands made all the difference!!

Forgive me if this post is overly effusive. I’m simply overcome with emotion by all of the blessings that were bestowed upon me during this trip, and this list barely scratches the surface on the total.

Writer’s Renaissance is all about helping women fill their lives with creativity, passion and purpose. As the title suggests, it’s about rebirth, rejuvenation and renewal. Regular readers of this blog know that this past year has been an exceptionally difficult one for me. How amazing to find that in the pursuit of my goal to help other women transform their lives, so too was my own transformed.

The past year has indeed been full of many dark days. But now I see the light at the end of the Ponte Vecchio!

What are you grateful for this week?

True Renaissance Women!!

True Renaissance Women!!

Categories: Authors, Books, Children's Books, Cooking, Creativity, Family, Florence, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, I Need Wine Pronto!, Italy, Picture Books, Poetry, Travel, Travel Writing, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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