Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gratitude List for June 29

I really like Laurel Reagan's idea of the weekly gratitude list and am trying to participate regularly.

When you have gratitude, it's hard to be negative. Remembering all the good things beats the heck out of dwelling on the bad, getting down on yourself and having regrets. I've been that route and it's a big waste of time and energy.

I am grateful for:
  •  the beautiful summer weather that we Canadians wait for so long all year. We must appreciate it while it’s here. As my dad says, “It’s a longgggggg winter.”
  • the screened-in porch where I can listen to the birds and look at the beauty of nature all around me. We only use the porch a few months of the year so I am grateful for this room where I can write, read, daydream, scrapbook and share meals with the family.
  • supportive inlaws who just celebrated their 60th anniversary this week. Bravo to them. Hope hubby and I make it to 60 years. What a milestone!
  • supportive online critique group of Jocelyn, Peggy, and Sally. We met on the Institute of Children’s Literature online board nearly seven years ago. We have grown in our writing with all the support, encouragement and critiques. I know my writing has improved having these women provide feedback and I am very grateful. We are also good friends as well as critique partners which is a joy.
  • a great blogging group as Write Tribe. Everyone is so kind and supportive to one another and our blog writing. This is very special and I feel grateful to be part of the group.
  • and last but not least, I’m grateful for living in Canada, a beautiful, abundant, diverse country where we can live freely without fear. As Canada Day approaches on July 1st  and Canada celebrates its 147th year as a country, I am proud to be Canadian and every day I am grateful to call Canada my home.

    Happy Canada Day weekend to all my fellow Canadians! Hope you're out enjoying our short, sweet summer to the fullest!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thoughts Are Powerful

Here is another photo I took the other evening as it was approaching sunset on the St. Lawrence River. There is something so magical about the lighting at that time of day. I like the way the grass is silhouetted against the sky and looks like an ink brush painting.

This quote reminds us that there is no such thing as true reality. Everything passes through our mind’s filter, a combination of our thoughts, mood, personality and past experiences.

Our thoughts are so powerful and dictate how we experience our world while creating our own unique reality.

Here is a poem I wrote on the subject of thoughts:

Thoughts of fear and thoughts of hate
Can put our minds in an awful state,
Self doubt and self loathing cause such pain
Pelting down like a constant rain,
You can change the way you think
Like stagnant water in the sink,
Flush those bad thoughts down the drain
Turn on the tap and start again,
Positive thoughts, all clean and new
Are waiting to be claimed by you!

What are your thoughts about thoughts? I'd love to know what you think!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Do you believe in luck?

I found this four leaf clover the other day. This is very rare as I never find four leaf clovers. I put it down on this piece of fabric that the hubby put on my worktable. I liked the way the stripes framed the little four leaf clover and made it stand out against the pink. Another poster was born!

Okay, luck, come get me, I'm waiting for you! *Sits and waits clutching four leaf clover in sweaty hand*

Maybe that's the wrong approach.

Maybe I do have to go out and make my own luck as Thomas Jefferson's quote states. He says that hard work and preparation go much further than sitting around waiting for luck to fall from the sky.

I have mixed feelings about that. Sure, hard work and preparation are important, but sometimes amazing things do happen and it's good to be open to them.

I've always envied people who seem lucky. Everything goes their way and their lives look so perfect. If only I could be so lucky. What do you think? Is it just a case of the person working hard, being prepared and grabbing an opportunity when it presents itself? Or is it really some magical force? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gratitude List for the week

I really like Laurel Reagan's idea of a weekly gratitude list and am trying to incorporate that into my blog posts.

I try hard to live each day with gratitude and not fall into a negative or apathetic type mindset which can sometimes happen if I don't fight against it.

This week I'm grateful for:

  • This beautiful summer weather we've been having with the perfect temperature, lots of sunshine and no humidity. We get some pretty awful weather in Canada, especially in our harsh winters so anytime it's as nice as this, we're grateful!
  • I had a delicious grilled dinner of lamb and vegetables cooked by my sister in law's lovely friend, Rosie out at the river yesterday. What a treat!
  • My two sons are the best guys and are growing into the kindest, most caring and thoughful of young men. I'm grateful for them every day.
  • My cats, Kobie and Daisy keep me laughing and love me unconditionally no matter how grouchy or unlovable I feel.
  • I'm grateful to the Internet that allows me to connect daily with friends around the world and to share with other writers. Today we're getting our Internet connection upgraded as it's been as sluggish as dialup some days so I'm very grateful for that.
Have a great week, everyone and be grateful!

Difficulties make you grow

I really like this quote by Mary Anne Radmacher and it inspired this poster. I took this photo yesterday on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. I thought the evening light made these stalks of grass look so lovely and delicate, like a Japanese brush painting.

Everyone has problems and challenges in their lives. How they face them determines whether they just crawl under a rock and give up, or persevere and overcome.

In the past I've often given up after a failure, thinking that it was too hard and why bother continuing to try? I don't take failure very well and have often taken it personally. Instead I should view failure as a chance to grow, a chance to try again and a chance to do even better this time. I'm getting better with age.

It does hurt to fail, but it shouldn't be an excuse to quit. Instead we need to reassure ourselve that we're still good people, still valuable and worthy of love and respect. Then when we're ready, we should try again.

Life's challenges, problems and failures don't have to reduce us to feeling like a victim who is convinced the world is out to get them. Instead, we should view each obstacle as a chance to grow stronger, braver and more creative.

As the motto of the Royal Air Force states, "Per ardua ad astra" (Through adversity to the stars)

I see those stars up there sparkling and twinkling just out of my grasp. I'm going to push forward through the adversity to reach those stars today. Who wants to join me?

Friday, June 20, 2014

You Gotta Serve Somebody

Earlier this week, I watched fellow Canadian, Jim Carrey's commencement address to the graduating students at Maharashi University. Even though I find him a bit of a crazed nut as an actor, I couldn't help but be captivated by his words.

I made a poster about one of his quotes as I was so inspired by his wise words that came at a good time. I was worrying about money and feeling guilty about my choices. I was feeling judged by others, defeated and not good enough.

This morning I was reading the artists' Robert and Sara Genn's newsletter which commented on that video and brought up another one of Jim Carrey's wise quotes which inspired me to create another poster this morning. Who knew such a crazy actor could be so inspiring?

What a good way to look at it!  Sharing our talents and skills with others is being of service even if no money is involved. I never thought of it that way. I am trying to do that. Maybe I am on the right path after all!

Serving others does not mean we have to be like Mother Teresa. It doesn't mean lowering ourselves and become a drudge. It doesn't mean working ourselves to an early grave.

Giving of ourselves even in a small way is important. Reaching out to share our special talents gives us purpose and joy. Switching our mindset from "What do I want?" to "What service can I offer?" can make all the difference.

That's one of the reasons I attend church even though I wouldn't say I'm terribly devout. I like the good Christian values about sharing and caring for others and being of service. It reminds me not to be selfish and that it's not all about me.

Finally this Bob Dylan song came to mind and I had to post that link. Here is a great  version by Natalie Cole.

You are unique and special and the world needs your gifts if you are willing to share them. It doesn't have to be dull drudgery. Make it joyous!

We all gotta serve somebody!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Life is unlimited

I love Jonathan Lockwood Huie's daily newsletter full of positive quotes and affirmations. I always find them uplifting and inspiring.

His quotes get me in the right mindset to face the day with a positive attitude.

I have made a poster of a cloud over the St. Lawrence River with one of Jonathan's quotes.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Monday, June 9, 2014

You are enough

I love this quote from Maya Angelou. Her quotes are so soothing and reassuring. She makes us feel that we are special and important just as we are. Good to be reminded of this.

We can easily fall into that mindset of feeling we're not good enough and that we have to constantly prove ourselves to others. When we do that, we become miserable and feel so inadequate as it is impossible to please everyone and live up to their expectations. 

Remember, you are good enough and great the way you are! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Gratitude List for Sunday, June 8

I am joining in with Laurel Reagan's Gratitude List Linkup.

What's on your gratitude list? Here's mine for today.

  • I’m grateful to see nature blooming and giving birth all around me like those sweet little baby robins above whose nest is on one of our garage lights.
  • I am grateful for this lovely spring weather and appreciate the different seasons, each one so distinctive. Winter is beautiful to look at but sure is long to endure. It sure makes you appreciate spring that much more. It really is my favourite season before the oppressive summer humidity arrives.
  • I’m grateful to live out in the country near farms and forests where we can walk the dogs and I can ride my bike freely. Well, fairly freely. We do have a busy highway that goes right through the centre of the town but I am grateful for it as it takes me to the city!
  • I’m grateful that the city is only half an hour away for when I want some cultural stimulation such as yesterday when we went to “Doors Open Ottawa”. I enjoyed going with the family to visit a Hindu Temple. We also learned about how Bridgehead buys coffee around the world and then roasts it. Then we visited Billings Estate, an influential family who helped build Ottawa in the 1800s.
  • I’m grateful for having the company of my two beautiful cats today, Kobie and Daisy who accept me unconditionally and don’t demand too much. Well, except when it’s dinner time.
  • I'm grateful for all my Facebook and blogger friends who support and encourage me. It's greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Thanks for the Liebster!

I am so lucky to have received the Liebster Award from three wonderful bloggers, 
Carol Graham, Debbie Doglady and Shailaja Vishwanath.

All three of these great ladies write terrific blogs, each so different and compelling.
Carol has a real knack for making an emotional connection with the reader. In the A-Z blogging challenge, we were all captivated with her heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking stories about her dogs. You can’t read Carol’s posts without feeling strong emotional reaction. You just can’t.
Debbie Doglady 
Debbie is such a fun lady and a fellow Canadian gal. I just know I’d enjoy hanging out with her!  For the A-Z blogging challenge, she wrote about her world travels with such vivid and fun details that you felt like you were right there with her. Always enjoyable to read her posts.
Shailaja Vishwanath
Shailaja tries to come across as bossy but it's all in good fun and I know that she has a heart of gold that shines through. I enjoy her thoughtful, helpful and informative posts. Lately she has started a fiction blog where we are treated to her imaginative short fiction stories.

This lady can write it all and does it well, too!
I would like to nominate the following blogs for a Liebster: I understand if it’s a bit daunting to do all the requirements listed here, Without Shailaja enforcing a deadline and the threat of her notoriously pointy boots kicking me, I was tempted to give it a miss but I finally took the plunge and just did it.

Please know that I admire you and your great blogs and that you inspire me. That’s the main thing! And if you've been nominated more than once already by someone else, consider yourself well loved!
Kathy writes great little stories and thoughtful posts that we can all relate to. She is a master at writing a story to a short word count. She is also a wonderful artist and does great zentangles.

Laurel Reagan
Laurel Reagan, a fellow Canadian, writes a fun imaginative blog full of insight, poetry and very informative posts. I like her idea of the weekly gratitude list, too! She also is a wonderful photographer and artist, too. I love her zentangles, they're so creative and beautiful! I see she even has a  shop on Zazzle. Go, Lauren! 

I love Suzy’s blog posts, her poetry and photos. I find them very soothing, comforting, thoughtful and inspirational. I can tell Suzy is a lovely spiritual person and has a great outlook on life.
Vidya Sury 
I just love Vidya’s blog posts. Vidya is very generous how she likes to help other writers and share her wisdom.She helps Corinne make Write Tribe a place where bloggers can feel supported and grow their skills and confidence. Vidya’s posts are always so informative, entertaining and helpful. I learn so much from Vidya and she’s a sweet and generous lady, too.
Corinne Rodrigues 
Corinne runs Write Tribe and is like the mom whom we look to for guidance and support in this blogging venture. I always enjoy Corinne’s thoughtful, informative posts, her fiction and her book reviews. She is also so warm, kind and supportive. She not only provides us with great writing prompts, she always includes helpful writing advice as part of the post. Thanks for all you do, Corinne!

It’s a great honour to have other bloggers acknowledge you and I don’t take it lightly. Often, writing can be a lonely venture and you feel like you’re talking to yourself and the crickets. Getting recognition is a lovely thing and I thank you all.
I was a bit scared at where to begin when I saw all the questions to answer. I did what I do best and procrastinated for a while. Finally Shailaja gave me a deadline of a week to get it done. Deadlines are a great motivator for me, so I got going on it. Plus Shailaja has these pointy toed boots that she’s not afraid to use on people if they get slack about getting the writing done. I appreciate the encouragement and support, Shailaja, really I do. OUCH! *Rubs sore butt*
The Liebster Award states:
If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award and you choose to accept it, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

3. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award and let them know about it.

5. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

Questions for me
1. What topic do you enjoy writing about?
I enjoy writing about gratitude a lot and that is one of my themes on my blog. I also love making motivational posters combining favourite quotes with my photographs. I find I have to practice gratitude daily as I can slip into a “poor me” mentality if I let myself. I love “The Queen of your own Life” posters and subscribe to their Facebook page. The messages are always so uplifting. They remind me that I’m in charge of my life and happiness and no one else. Getting into a positive mindset daily isn’t always easy but it’s well worth it. Being grateful means appreciating what you have. As I get older, I am content with much less and much more accepting. As the cow said in that wonderful movie, "Babe", "The only way you'll find happiness is to accept that the way things are is the way things are." 

2. Who pushed you to start writing?

No one pushed me. I think I’ve always had that desire to be creative right from childhood when I liked weaving fantasy stories to escape the real world. I adored reading fairy tales and Enid Blyton was also a favourite with her fantasy books of “The Folk of the Faraway Tree” and “The Wishing Chair”. I used to spend endless hours drawing pictures and daydreaming.

As an adult, I got back into writing more after my baby daughter died. Writing about my grief and connecting with other bereaved parents was very healing. I rekindled my love for writing fiction after taking a Landmark course in the early 2000s which made me see I should go for my writing passion now and not some day. I have taken many writing courses since. I love writing young adult and romance stories the best and have tons of short stories and a few unfinished novels on the go. I even got a few published along the way which is nice but it sure isn’t what drives me. I just love the creative process. All the rest is a bonus.

3. Do you remember the first thing that you ever wrote? Before blogging?

Back when I was a kid, I used to enjoy drawing as much as writing. I remember making my own colouring/story books and selling them for five cents each. I used my mother’s bobby pins for the binding. Pretty classy eh?

4. When do you write best? At what time of the day?

Definitely in the morning. I’m a real morning person. Give me my coffee and I’m good to go.

5. Do you ever think about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new?

Not too much. It is exhilarating to try new things but I do need to be pushed to get out of my comfort zone which can often turn into a deep rut if I'm not careful. Playing my flute often pushes me out of my comfort zone, especially if the piece is challenging. I enjoy playing with a group of harpists for competitions. That definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone. I have tried acting over the years and have been in a few plays and took a drama course for adults a few years ago. Acting definitely pushes this introvert out of her comfort zone!

6. Which post of yours is your personal favourite?

That’s a tough one. I think I enjoy my rhymes I write the most. They seem to flow out of me so spontaneously and I don’t have to sweat and toil over them like I do for some heavier more serious posts. I also enjoy writing poems from my Malamute Loup A. Graham’s perspective as he is so funny in real life and gives me lots of material to write about. He even has Facebook and his own blog but he hasn’t blogged for a while, the slacker. Too busy digging holes and rolling in mud, I guess.

7.  What one piece of advice would you give new writers/ bloggers?

I would advise them to enjoy the creative process of writing as it can be lonely and frustrating at times. Often you feel like no one is listening and no one cares, especially in the every day world where everyone is so preoccupied with daily demands. I’ve had a few short stories and a play published but I’ve also been rejected a lot. It is tough and makes you feel like giving up. It’s okay to lick your wounds for a while but try not to succumb to the defeat. Everyone gets rejected. It’s all part of the fun of trying to get published. Get back at the writing and don’t quit.

8. How often do you blog?

I tend to go at it with great vigour when there are challenges such as the April A-Z challenge. I need that deadline. Otherwise I am a sporadic blogger and can go through dry spells where I don’t write much, especially in winter. Those are such difficult months here in Canada with the lack of light making me a bit depressed along with the constant snow and cold being so isolating. I’m trying to become more regular about blogging and belonging to a great group like Write Tribe sure helps keep me motivated.

9. If you were to meet one famous blogger, who would it be? What would you ask him/ her?

I really admire Jeff Goins and his whole approach to blogging. I like how he writes and engages the reader. I would love to take his course but it is out of my price range, especially with the exchange rate on the American dollar. Some day. Sigh.

He has a great platform and brand as they say in the lingo! He says that you should be generous to your reader and he gives away lots of freebies. He seems such a kind soul who does good things for humanity like visiting and sponsoring orphans in Africa with his church group. He also makes his blog a business and makes money from it. I’d love to know his secrets to success. I’m still looking for that elusive combination where I could make money doing something I love. I haven’t found it yet but it’s a worthwhile quest.

11 random facts about me
  1. I am crazy about cats and identify with them so much that my name is even Cat! I’m aloof and independent like a cat but have my loving playful side. Just don't cross me as I can scratch!
  2. I am an introvert who doesn't mind spending lots of time alone to reflect and recharge. Social situations can often be so draining and I don't like big crowds. I do enjoy one on one time with special friends and my family are my true joy in life along with my pets. I find it funny how I'm braver online with strangers than I am with people in person. Go figure.
  3. I play flute with harpists and a community band. I also sing in a woman’s choir. Music is the absolute best therapy around!
  4. I am an avid photographer and take way too many photos of my cute orange tabby, Kobie and my gorgeous Malamute, Loup A. Graham, who is a real ladies’ dog. I love photography and making inspirational posters with my nature photos combined with inspirational quotes. People like Maya Angelou, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Audrey Hepburn were such inspiring women and I love their quotes.
  5. I enjoy practicing and speaking French after living in Montreal for seven years. I enjoyed my time in Montreal being immersed in French Canadian culture and having a few French boyfriends was très intéressant, too!
  6. I was an airforce kid who moved around a lot. I’ve been in Ottawa now for the past 27 years, the longest I’ve lived anywhere. My kids might think it's dull growing up in the same house but I think it's great having roots like they do.
  7. I am a chocoholic. If it’s got chocolate in it, I want it! I also love baking and making cookies and muffins. I also love cake decorating and have made cakes for people as a biz over the years. No wonder I’m still going to Weight Watchers to keep that treat tummy from expanding. I'm not always successful but WW likes my business!
  8. I am a multipotentialite. Yeh, I am!  It’s an actual term, take a look. I found a blog yesterday that sums up my tendency to have lots of interests and flit from one to the other. I always thought that was a bad thing as I often lack focus and don’t finish things. Glad to know I’m not alone and that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I still need to finish projects as I need that sense of accomplishment. Goals and deadlines are a must for this daydreaming gal!
  9. I have been so lucky to meet many of my email/Facebook friends in person in Canada, the US and England. I hope I get to meet more of them in future. I have found everyone so wonderful as we knew each other so well already that there was no awkwardness.
  10. I love scrapbooking, both hand made and digital photo books. I have taken it upon myself to be the family archivist. Time goes so quickly and seems to be speeding up as I age. Some day we’ll all be gone and I want a record of what we did, where we went and what we thought so people will know about us. The books are a record along with all my writing. My poor sons will have to sort through it all some day. Sorry guys! Often I am surprised at how apathetic people are about my photo books and writing. Oh well. I must lower my expectations and accept that others aren’t as passionate about such things and have other priorities. I can’t expect everyone to understand.
  11. I love making special handmade cards and writing an actual letter by hand with a nice pen. I used to love having penpals when I was a young teen. Email and Facebook are great but there’s something so special about getting an actual letter in the mail written just for you.

My Questions For the Liebster Recipients should you decide to tackle this daunting challenge

1. What are you most proud of in your life?

2. Which book or movie has inspired you?

3. What would you like people to remember most about you?

4. What is your favourite thing to do in your free time?

5. If you could time travel, what year would you travel to?

6. If you could be another person, who would you be?

7. What is your favourite animal?

8. What scares you?

9. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

10. Which do you prefer, the city or the country and why?

11. What do you like most about blogging?

Happy Writing!