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Archive for the ‘gratitude journal’ Category

It is with heavy heart that I write this post. Not because of the election results. I’m not overjoyed (I remain hopeful), but neither do I feel the need to slit my wrists. I am saddened because of the ugliness that followed the results. Come on, America – knock it off already. (more…)

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Naps. Babies take lots of them. Old folks take them. Lots of people take them and often refer to them as power naps.

Image courtesy Google Images.

Image courtesy Google Images.

I’ve never been one to nap unless I’m sick. Not that I haven’t wanted or tried to nap, it just doesn’t work for me. Many times, I’ve wanted to close my eyes and catch a few minutes of sleep. But, you see, it usually takes me about half an hour to simply fall asleep. If I only have 15 minutes in which to rest my eyes, I won’t fall asleep, I’ll just look like this.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

I’ve never figured out how people can fall asleep so quickly. Or sleep with commotion going on around them. I have to have quiet for about half an hour before my body realizes that it should sleep. Even if I were lucky enough to fall asleep within that 30 minutes, I wouldn’t look like this while I peacefully nap.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Nope, I’d look more like this:

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Yup, I’d be sprawled all over the bed, drooling or snoring, or both. It would not be pretty. And if I were to sleep longer than 20 minutes, instead of waking up refreshed, I’d pretty much be a zombie; sluggish and irritable. On the contrary, if I were to sleep longer than 20 minutes during the daylight hours, then you can pretty much guarantee that I’d be awake all night.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Naps have always been curses for me and that pisses me off because I so often wish I could take a cute, little nap and wake feeling refreshed and perky until well past 8:00 p.m., when I really start longing for my pajamas and bed and dark and quiet.

How about you dear readers – are you nappers? Can you grab a few minutes of shut-eye in the middle of the day and still get a good night’s sleep? I’d love to know your secrets.

Word of the Day: Yaupon

Fun fact about me: I try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every single night.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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So it’s another year. A new beginning. Out with the old, in with the new. Sometimes letting go of the old stuff is hard. Sometimes not. As some of you know, in December I wrapped up my second year as President of my local writer’s group. It was a challenging yet rewarding period in my life. I learned a lot. But now, it’s time to turn over the reins to a new leader. I’m going to be honest here, I’m ready to hand over the tiara and the scepter.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Some of you are probably all too aware of the challenges associated with leading a group of volunteers all of whom are already over-worked in other areas of their lives. It is, after all, usually the busiest people who volunteer to take on yet more responsibility. If not for these willing souls, however, many things would simply not happen. Until you’ve volunteered or filled in for someone in a volunteer capacity, it is hard to understand what that person experiences. Volunteering is not for everyone, but it certainly enriches our lives when we do it.

Image courtesy Google Images.

Image courtesy Google Images.

So as we move forward with 2015, I wish the best of luck to our new leadership team at the Sacramento Valley chapter of RWA and look forward to learning and growing by your example. I offer my continued support and bow humbly at your feet for stepping up to the plate.

Have you ever volunteered? Did you learn from that experience? Did you regret your decision to help out?

Word of the Day:  Xiphoid

Fun fact about me: I don’t volunteer because I have the time; I volunteer because I have the heart.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

 

 

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If you’re similar in age to me, first of all, I’m sorry, but in keeping with my thought here, you probably remember a commercial that ended with “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” I don’t remember what the ad was selling but I remember that catch phrase.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Mother Nature is not one to be messed with and you cannot hide from her. She’s everywhere and she has a temper. No matter where you live you are susceptible to some sort of natural disaster or another. There are earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, volcanos, tsunamis, severe heat in the summer in Southern Arizona, extreme cold in the winter in Northern Minnesota, horrendous humidity in the deep south. Come on, you all know what I’m talking about.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Where I live, the worst natural disaster fear is wildfire, the kind that comes from dry lightning strikes in the mountains. Or – the absolute worst kind – the kind experienced from some rat bastard, ass wipe arsonist. That my dear readers is what I came home to from my 12-day absolutely divine Alaskan adventure (more about that later).

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

The fire started just a few miles from my house. While my property was never truly in jeopardy, but for the grace of God, the winds moved the quickly spreading flames away from the most densely populated areas. Had Mother Nature decided to “blow the other way,” so to speak, I might have come home to cinders. I am ever thankful to Mother Nature in this instance and again this past weekend for sending the generous amounts of rain that helped extinguish this monster of a blaze.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

The beauty in all of this is the camaraderie of like-minded, and similar-situated people living in my little hometown. The community pulled together with assistance for displaced humans and animals for the thousands forced to evacuate. And an amazing display of gratitude continues to decorate our overpasses, city streets and even a small portion of the US Highway 50 corridor that runs through the heart of gold country.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

These signs were erected on fence posts along the freeway and hung from overpasses for a stretch of several miles. Let me add my sincerest thank you to everyone involved in helping to put this fire out; most especially Mother Nature.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

How does Mother Nature find you where you live? How has Mother Nature most surprised you? I’m anxious to know what natural disaster you’re willing to face to live where you live. But more importantly, what sort of punishment do you think the rat bastard, ass wipe arsonist should have to endure?

Word of the Day: Fatuity

Fun fact about me: I have a great deal of respect for Mother Nature.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt September 2014. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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Have you ever woke up from a dream and wondered what the heck just happened? Ever wondered what the nonsense playing in your brain could possibly mean? Ever have a recurring dream?

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Today I’m introducing my good friend and RWA chaptermate, Suzanne Vince, who is here to talk to you about her debut novel The Many Lives of June Crandall, a book about a young girl’s recurring dream and what it meant for her. On Friday, September 12, 2014, Suzanne will choose one random person who leaves a comment to receive a free copy of her book.

Photo courtesy Amazon.com

Photo courtesy Amazon.com

Growing up, Suzanne imagined herself as many things (a nurse, a teacher, even a secretary) but never a writer. Despite the fact that she grew up in an exceptionally creative family — everyone having some special talent — Suzanne did not, leaving them all to wonder if perhaps she’d been adopted.

She wrote her first book by accident, four years ago when she sat down to journal her thoughts. Four hours later she’d written the first 30 pages of what became her first novel, The Many Lives of June Crandall.

While Suzanne’s books include elements of romance and spirituality, the main story revolves around a strong parent-child bond, a reflection of the bond she shared with her own parents. Her stories inspire love, hope and the possibility of happily ever after.

Here’s my interview with Suzanne (her responses are in purple):

Tell us about how this book got its start. Did you actually have a series of dreams like the protagonist in your book, or did the idea just strike you out of the blue?

Out of the blue, kind of. I had just finished changing out the books on my bookshelf—removing the old, making room for the new. I came back a while later and found a book lying on the floor. It was titled, Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss. It’s a book about past lives.

I picked up the book and opened the cover and saw an address label on the inside. Like one you’d put on a letter. Obviously I’d purchased the book used. The name on the label was June Crandall from Sarasota, Florida. I put the book back, but for the next week I kept thinking about June, who she was, if she was still alive, what her life had been like. Before I knew it, I’d created June’s story in my head.

The following weekend I sat down to start writing and pulled the book off the bookshelf to serve as my muse. When I looked at the label on the book again, the name was Rosalyn Fink, not June Crandall. As writers, we have to invent the name of our characters, but I never in a million years would’ve come up with the name June Crandall. That’s when I knew that the story was meant to be written.

Any particular reason why you choose those three specific Junes?

Not really. I wanted each June to represent a different aspect of what was missing in Grace’s life. A mother, a best friend, even a lover.

How much research did you have to do before or while writing this book?

The dreams all take place in past centuries and I wanted the details to be as accurate as possible, so there was some research needed there. And since most of the story takes place in New York, I wanted to make sure I got the geographical scenes correct.

What’s your favorite part about the story?

I think the book signing scene is my favorite. And of course, who doesn’t love a happily ever after?

What would you tell your readers to expect before they start reading?

Well, the book is classified as a women’s fiction novel, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a mystery, a romance, and a coming of age story all in one.

Without giving anything away, what one thing about the book surprised you as you were writing it?

 I think it had to be how hard it was to make my character (Grace Adams) suffer. It took a lot of revisions to get to the point where I felt she’d suffered enough.

Were you inspired by any particular author before or during your writing of this book?

There’s a little book titled God on a Harley by Joan Brady (I highly recommend it–it’s funny, moving and every woman on the planet will be able to relate to the story). Anyway, I’ve read the book several times and every time it stirs something inside of me. I read it last in July of 2010 and then, without realizing it, I wrote the first fifty or so pages of what would become my first novel (which is now collecting dust bunnies under the bed). So I guess you could say that Joan Brady inspired me to write.

Photo courtesy SuzanneVince.com

Photo courtesy SuzanneVince.com

Here’s the 4-1-1 on Suzanne:

I grew up in Park Forest, Illinois—twice an All-American City—in a hectic and chaotic but loving family. After graduating from Loyola University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (major in Accounting), I said goodbye to snow shovels and ice scrapers and followed my parents out to California.

I currently live in Sacramento with my husband, my step-daughter and our four furry children. I still have my day job—for now—but spend most of my free time writing.

Learn more about Suzanne by visiting http://suzannevince.com.

And here’s the 4-1-1 on The Many Lives of June Crandall: 

Shuffled from one orphanage to another and finally abandoned into foster care, Grace Adams finds comfort only in her dreams, only these dreams are unlike anything Grace could ever dare to imagine. From a Nazi concentration camp in World War 2 to a Geisha house in Feudal Japan, in her dream world Grace is loved and protected by one person: a woman named June Crandall with a face she is unable to forget. Believing that the woman from her dreams is the mother she’s never met, Grace petitions the court to unseal her birth records, and what she learns about her birth mother will shake her to her core. Years later, at the urging of her husband, Grace publishes a book about the woman from her dreams. At a book signing, a stranger appears and offers a clue to the mystery surrounding Grace’s birth. Putting her skills as an investigative journalist to work, Grace uncovers a web of secrets and betrayal that threatens to destroy her dream of being reunited with her birth family. Will Grace find the woman from her dreams? Will she solve the mystery of her birth? Will she be able to put the past behind her and find forgiveness for the family that abandoned her?

Get your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Many+Lives+of+June+Crandall

Word of the Day: Cajuput

Fun Fact About Me: I consider myself a wine snob.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt September 2014. Photos courtesy, Google Images, Amazon.com and suzannevince.com.

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I love 4th of July. I love patriotic songs. I love red, white and blue. I love America.

Flag and eagle

Oh sure, there’s things about America that irritate me, things that should be changed, things that need to be improved, but overall, it’s not a bad place to call home.

child saluting flag

Photo courtesy Google Images

It saddens me though that we can no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools. It makes no sense to me that this practice has been forbidden in most classrooms (at least here where I live in California). This is America, the country that protects us and affords us freedoms too numerous to mention. Why in God’s name can’t we show our support of this great nation by pledging our allegiance to it? If people have a problem doing that, then perhaps they should go elsewhere.

The theory behind this ridiculousness is that “we” don’t want to offend anyone. Well, how are we offending people by asking them to show respect for what we’re offering? If someone intentionally comes here to take advantage of the wonderful and bountiful blessings we have to offer (like education), shouldn’t they in turn honor us for our generosity? If you choose to come here, we’ll not turn you away, but be prepared to support our practices and customs. If you want to partake of the bounty, at least show some appreciation to the providers.  Sheesh. That’s just common courtesy people. Personally, I am offended that people from other countries come here and take offense that we don’t change for them. If you want to live where everybody is like you, stay where you’re at. Diversity and tolerance is what makes America so great.

And don’t even get me started on the use of the words, “under God.” I don’t care what anybody says, everybody believes in some sort of higher being, a deity, a spiritual presence. Just don’t go there.

I know there are boat-rockers and people who only want to take and never give, but if you leave a country because you can no longer stand the way you are being treated, instead of criticizing US, you should thank us profusely for giving you the things you’ve obviously been lacking. Didn’t you come here for a better life? If it’s not better – just the way it is – then either go back where you came from or move on. Don’t expect us to change for you. People – lots of people – have died so you can enjoy what we’re offering. Deal with it, appreciate it, or get the hell out.

soldier saluting the flag

Anyway, that’s how I feel. I’m not being prejudiced and I’m not picking on anyone. I don’t care what religion you want to practice, what color your skin is, what sexual orientation you are. In fact I understand those are probably some of the reasons you came here in the first place. But don’t get all huffy because we expect you to show a little respect for the right to have an opinion. It’s simple really – if you come to my house naked and hungry, I will feed you and clothe you, but don’t complain about the meal or the outfit. If you don’t want what I’m offering, don’t come asking. You can go to the house next door and maybe, if you’re lucky, they won’t beat you.

I’ll climb down off of my soapbox now. Lecture over. I just felt like I had to get that off my chest. That is my right after all, right? Free speech? Freedom of the press? The right to have an opinion and to express it any way I desire? Oh no wait, not anymore, I might hurt someone’s feelings. Too. Damn. Bad. This is America – toughen up those dainty feelings and deal with it.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!! I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday and that you will take a moment to honor and respect this great country and remember those who have sacrificed so much to keep us great.

I leave you with this:

What do you think? Do you agree with Red? Did his rendition give you chills? Don’t be shy, speak up. Let your voice for liberty to heard.

Word of the Day: Speiss

Fun Fact about me: Sarcasm? Just another service I offer. (And at no charge I might add.)

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, June 2014. Photos courtesy Google Images. Video courtesy YouTube.

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Late last year I happened upon the coolest kid on the planet – Kid President. I’ve posted a couple of his videos in the past and I think it’s time for another round, so put on your dancing shoes and get ready to boogie.

And guys in particular pay attention to numbers 7 and 5.

So, what’d’ya say? Can we all try being a little nicer this year? I’m game. And I’ll go first: I appreciate all of you, my dear readers and wish you nothing but success this year. Now it’s your turn, and remember,  if you can’t think of something nice to say, you’re not thinking hard enough. (I love that!)

corn dogWhat do you think people should say more often? While you’re thinking, enjoy a corn dog on me.

Word of the Day: Yapok

Fun fact about me: I’ve been playing the piano for over 40 years! (That’s right, I started in the womb.)

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2014. Video courtesy YouTube (Soul Pancake)

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Welcome to 2013!!  We made it. The Mayans were either wrong, or they simply got tired of keeping a damn futuristic calendar. I’m voting for the latter. If they were as busy then as I am now, I’m not even sure what I’m doing tomorrow, so who needs to know what’s going on 2000 or so years from now?

2013 calendar

But, anyway, here we are. Another year stretches before us. So many possibilities, so many challenges, so many new things to try. I’m not a fan of resolutions, but I do believe in always striving to better oneself, exploring new things, taking risks and just living without sweating the small stuff.bucket on beach

So as we embark on this brave new year, here are some things you may want to consider:

Make a bucket list. Blogger, Myndi Shafer shares her list here: http://myndishafer.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/my-35th-year-living-with-intention/ It doesn’t have to be elaborate or even long, but write down some fun things you’d like to accomplish this year or maybe next year.dog and cat

Make a promise to be more like your pets. So much can be learned by following the examples set by our pets. Jenny Hansen tells us what she’s learned about her pets here: http://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/10-writing-lessons-i-learned-from-my-dog/

Pets are one of God’s many blessings that we often take for granted. Take time to enjoy the gifts your pet has to offer.

Keep a gratitude journal as suggested by Ginger Calem here:  http://gingercalem.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/writersbutt/ Ginger has many helpful tips and suggestions for leading a healthy and fit life on her blog. If you haven’t checked it out, I encourage you to stop by sometime for some kind words and positive advice for being the best you you can be.

Journal

cruise shipTry something new for vacation. Might I suggest a cruise? Debra Kristi had a fabulous time and tells about it here: http://debrakristi.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/spring-break-will-you-vacation-how-about-a-cruise/ I recommend resurrecting your inner child and take a trip to Disneyland or Disney World. There’s no place more magical than a world created by Disney Imagineers.

Every day we are confronted with a multitude of opportunities to make lasting memories if we simply slow down and take the time to enjoy what’s around us. This year I challenge my readers to try something new, something a little out of your comfort zone, a little outside your normal every day box.

Even if it’s as simple as trying a new recipe or experiencing a different type of food. Perhaps sushi, Thai food, Indian cuisine. If you’ve thought about it, but haven’t taken the steps to make it happen, I encourage you to join a writer’s group. The advice and uplifting support from other members are hugely rewarding. My gang at the Sacramento Valley chapter of RWA has opened many many doors for me and my creativity.

If you haven’t ever done it, volunteer at a food kitchen or other charitable function that gives back to the community. Volunteering your time is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever enjoy. And who can have too many friends? Reach out to someone, touch a life, enrich your own world. You’ll be glad you did.

holding hands

Whatever you decide to do this year, make it brave, make it awesome, make it you!

Tell me, where are you going to venture off to this year? What exciting things do you have planned? What goals have you set for yourself? I’d love to hear them and cheer you on toward attaining them.

Word of the Day:  Natatorial

Fun Fact About Me:  I love to make scrapbooks.

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