Blog or No Blog?

To blog or not to blog. That is the question. Well, that is the question I am asking myself anyway. I have been happily blogging on a regular basis from my website for over four years now. I’ve shared stories about my puppy, travel insights, my writing journey, and a topic near and dear to my own heart, mindfulness.

Times have changed though. Technology has us moving faster through our daily connections to one another. I have competing thoughts on these changes but for now, I am more interested in what you, my readers want. I have a small following of readers who receive automatic updates every time my blog goes live. Other readers see my blog posts by way of varying social media platforms including Goodreads. Even my Amazon Author page updates each time I make a new blog post live.

To say, we are not connected would be inaccurate but are we truly connecting? My thought is there may be a better way to do this. So, this week I want to know more about what you are looking for from me.

Please take a minute to vote.

2019, You Look Marvelous!

2019! Can you believe it? Sometimes I wonder if a huge superpower gave the earth a big old push and we are spinning faster through the years than we have done previously. Either way, I am super excited about 2019.

Starting with a fresh year ahead, the dreams are endless and the time to achieve them feels abundant. During these first few days of January, I have been immersed in the final read through of my latest historical fiction novel, A Man Called Smith (releasing Summer 2019), so today is the big day! The day that I sit before my planner and sort out the conferences I will attend, the vacations I will be taking, the books I will be writing, and also the goals I have for the entire year.

I love the quote (below) that has been floating around social media the past few weeks.

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.

With our big toe in the water of 2019, I thought I would share with you my approach for planning out an exceptional year ahead of.

2019 and beyond:

  • Pick up a lovely new day timer. I am old school and couldn’t get by without the assistance of my paper planner. I find that goals are far more reachable when they face me at my desk each morning.
  • If you know your 2019 travel plans, whether it is for work, vacation, or family commitments, add those items to your planner first as you will always need to work around them. Let’s face it! I may plan to edit my latest novel while sitting poolside, but in reality I will probably pick up a book by someone other than myself and get lost in a different world instead.
  • With your trusty list of goals for the year, work backwards from your anticipated goal achievement date and start plugging in the tasks you will be required to complete in order to reach each goal. This process helps create an action plan of steps to take in order to reach your goal in a set timeline.
  • I tend to keep my new goals list to 3 or 4 specific items. Despite knowing that I can do anything I put my mind to, I also know that I am unable to do all of those things at the same time. So be sure to pick and choose what goals are most important to you and then sprinkle them around some smaller goals that don’t conflict with the time management of your big goals.
  • Don’t forget to revisit your 2018 goals. Toss the ones that no longer serve you well and decide how badly you really want to achieve the others. Dead weight is dead weight, let go of what you no longer need and move forward with fresh enthusiasm.
  • Finally, be flexible. I desperately wanted to have A Man Called Smith published by May, but life got in the way. I decided several months in to working on the project that my work/life balance was suffering. So, I renegotiated a new deadline with my editor and we are now planning a summer release. The flexibility of pushing my release date back a few months made an enormous difference in how the story flowed. But it also impacted how I enjoyed some much needed downtime with my family.
A Man Called Smith Coming Summer 2019

Happy New Year!

A New Year has an abundance of potential. It could be new opportunities that come your way. Or perhaps, new adventures and experiences will have you grinning ear to ear. Travel may delight and inspire you. 2019 may even be your year to step into the real you. You know the one, the person you dream of being. The lifestyle you long for with a desperate and pleading heart. The possibilities are endless. The only thing holding you back is, well, YOU!

I believe in second chances. When push comes to shove, I even believe in third, fourth, and fifth chances too. As long as you are breathing, you should be living. Since you are living, wouldn’t it best if you were living your best life? I didn’t say it was always going to be easy, neat, or fast, but I do believe as long as you are striving to do better, you will be better.

New Years's Greetings

As we edge our way toward 2019, now is a great time to take stock of what it is we want in our lives. Not just big picture ideas, but also what do we want our day to day life to look like. Who do we want to spend more time with? What level of health do we wish to achieve? Let’s spend a little time considering what was important to us in 2018. With this knowledge you can go forward creating your 2019 goals. Some goals from 2018 will come along with you, others may not. There is no wrong answer here, so take a deep breath and delve back into setting yourself up for the most successful and joyous 2019 you can possibly experience.

To Help You On Your Way:

Feel free to browse a few of my previous blog posts. I hope the information delights, inspires, and motivates you to move forward in joy.

Christmas Greetings

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.”

~ Mary Ellen Chase

Christmas is a special time of year to celebrate family, friends, and traditions. From our home to yours, we wish you the merriest and brightest of holiday moments.  May love fill your hearts, may joy abound around you, and may laughter float among every conversation this holiday season.

Merry Christmas

Feliz Navidad ~ joyeux Noël ~ Fröhliche Weihnachten ~ 
buon Natale ~ feliz Natal ~ счастливого Рождества ~ 
καλά Χριστούγεννα ~ 메리 크리스마스 ~ メリークリスマス ~ 
mele Kalikimaka ~ Maligayang Pasko ~ Merry Christmas 

Happy Holidays

Simplifying the Holidays

Simplifying the holidays. I am guessing with eight days remaining before the big day, simplifying the holidays suddenly sounds like a great idea! Of course every holiday season comes with its own challenges and stages of life. When my son was small for example, the holidays were a spectacle to be witnessed through the wide eyes of a child. No matter how chaotic those days were, I wouldn’t have missed them for the world.

For the past several Christmas’ I have chosen to take more stress out of the season so I can enjoy the moments that matter. I bake far less than I ever used to. I enjoy conversation over chaos. And I make the entire month about giving joy to others, regardless of what is going on around me.

No matter what holiday celebration you enjoy, the season inevitably comes down to sharing moments with loved ones. This year I took it a step further when a friend suggested we refrain from giving each other gifts, and instead make a date and spend time together. This was quite literally a new level of enjoyment that we plan to repeat next holiday season.

Simplifying The Holidays

It doesn’t matter if you have two hours or ten. Getting together with those who make you smile is never wasted time. This holiday season, I have enjoyed a busier than usual schedule. Coincidently my stress level is still in good standing. The only thing I can attest to my reduction in stress is the people I’ve been surrounded by. 

For me simplifying the holidays means eliminating the unnecessary and filling my schedule with happy occasions, good friends, and great conversation. May the season bless you with all of the above.

Happy Holidays!

The Gifts of Marriage

Gifts are on the minds of many with Black Friday and Cyber Monday descending upon us in spectacular fashion. We are nudged into the holiday gift buying experience with vigor as advertisers tell us what we must buy. Adding urgency to the situation by telling us the offer is available for a limited time.

This week though, I am thinking about different kinds of gifts. My husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary tomorrow. With the date approaching, I’ve been thinking of the perfect gift for him for some time now. I nailed it by the way! The past 25 years have flown by like the speed of light. As I reflect upon the times we’ve shared together, I’ve come to have an even greater appreciation for our union than I did when we started this journey together 25 years ago.

Recently, I have watched three incredibly strong women lose their spouses to illness, accident, and unexpected silent thieves of life. Not one of these women are of an age where becoming a widow was on their radar. Not one of these women saw their future without their significant other riding shotgun beside them. And most certainly, not one of these women would change a thing in an effort to avoid the pain they now live with.

The cost of a loving, giving, wonderful relationship is finding that one day you may be without it. This thought should make you want to enjoy the time you have more fully.  Embrace the little moments and give thanks each day that you have your loved one in your life. So today, in recognition of my gratitude for the amazing 25 years I have been able to spend with my husband, I give you my version of the gifts of marriage.

The Gifts of Marriage

Gifts of Marriage

  • A hand to hold without needing a reason to do so.
  • A warm embrace after a long day.
  • An understanding smile that tells you everything will be okay.
  • Conversations that both ignite a fury and a passion within you.
  • Someone you are always at home with no matter where you are.
  • A cheerleader just for you in your very own special corner of the world.
  • A rock! We all need a person in our lives who lets us be crazy, confused, unnerved, frightened, proud, and more. Marriage allows us this in the comfort of a safe environment.
  • A sounding board. When you have someone in your life who not only wants to listen to your concerns but also wants to solve them, that is love.
  • Knowing you can be in silence and remain completely comfortable.
  • A best friend to dream with.
  • A partner to work beside.
  • Someone who is aware of all your quirks and still loves you anyway.

The biggest gift a marriage has to offer though,

is a knowing that we are loved. Fully and completely, without boundaries and without exception. Marriage is the gift that keeps on giving. The only thing you have to do is appreciate it, delight in it, honour it, and carry the spirit of it with you wherever you go.

Happy 25th anniversary Dave! You are all of these things and so much more to me and there is no one I would rather spend my life with than you.

Love always,

Be Kind To One Another…

Kind, it sounds easy enough right? Being kind to each other is easy in theory, in principle, and is even easy when the stars are aligned and we are feeling good. Kindness however, tends to be one of the first attributes to disappear from a situation when we find ourselves stressed.

Stress can come in many different forms. We could be feeling physically unwell  or even mentally drained from a long day at work. Emotions play a huge role in our stress levels. Perhaps you’ve had an argument with a spouse, your best friend, or your child. Even the simplest moments of realizing you are late for an appointment, cranks your stress meter up and your kindness meter down.

Be kind to one another

With the holiday season of shopping, sales, hustle and bustle kicking off this week, I was reminded that now more than ever, we need to keep our kindness meter in check. Being kind to others is a gift that keeps on giving. Both the giver of kindness and the receiver have the opportunity to elevate their experience and then share it with those around them. In other words, kindness is like the message in the Faberge Organics Shampoo commercial from the 1980’s. Google it! Trust me, it is a blast from the past but the message is clear.  

How to be kind this holiday season:

  • Smile. It is a simple as that. Even when the smile on your lips doesn’t match the feeling in you heart, smile anyway and you just might see your entire experience change for the better.
  • Slow down. We already know that more people are going to be on the streets tackling their own “to do” list of the holiday season, so check yourself before you head out into the world, before you buckle that seat belt, and most certainly before you put your car in drive. Being in a hurry will impact you and everyone around you. So slow down, take it all in and leave enough time to get to where you are going.
  •  Be patient. This one applies to other people, situations, and yes even the sales clerk who is trying to do their job. Long lineups are the norm during the holidays, so make a new friend and chat with the person in front or behind you while you wait. That sales clerk, yeah he or she also has a long list of their own for the holidays, so take a breath and repeat the two steps from above. 
  • Be realistic. Over-scheduling is one of the biggest self induced stresses we experience during the holidays. Recognizing what is and isn’t possible ahead of time allows you to reduce the holiday stress. It also allows you the opportunity to be in the moment and enjoy whatever comes your way.
  • Be thankful. Gratitude is one attitude that has the ability to change the state of any situation into a positive experience. Find the silver lining. Come on, you’re waiting in line for crying out loud, you have the time, so spend it wisely and look for something to be grateful for. I promise you will leave that situation feeling uplifted if you find something to be grateful for.
  • Understand your role in the kindness loop. You are a part of the loop, the kindness loop. Take your responsibility seriously and your attitude, actions, thoughts, and beliefs, will help alter those who need a little bright light in an otherwise challenging time. Remember that silver lining? Why don’t you go out into the world and be the silver lining that others need. Sometimes, we just need to get out of our way to allow kindness to shine through.

Be a trailblazer of spectacular form this holiday season (especially on Black Friday) and start a kindness loop of your own.

 I believe in you. You’ve got this!

Looking Ahead To 2019

Looking ahead to 2019. With the sun shining in my window this afternoon, it feels like we’ve only recently dipped into the cooler temperatures of autumn. However, there are only 49 days remaining in 2018 and we know those are going to fly by with the holiday season fast on our heels.

Today, I’d like to encourage you to take a moment to think about your goals from 2018. The ones you achieved. The ones you didn’t get around to, and even the ones you forgot about entirely. Looking ahead, also encompasses taking stock of where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished. There is no time like the present, so grab a piece of paper and let’s dive in to looking ahead into 2019!

Looking Ahead to 2019 - A goal is a wish with a plan.

Taking Stock of 2018

  • Make a list of your 2018 goals
  • Place a check mark beside each goal you achieved. Well done!
  • Place an X beside each goal you did not even come close to achieving and no longer have any interest in completing. It’s okay, things change and we need to be able to change with them.
  • Place an O beside each goal you are either still working on or haven’t begun to work on but still, and this is very important, gnaws at you to work towards the goal. If a goal still burns within you, it moves with you.

Looking Ahead to 2019 with 2018

  • Using the list you created above, start a new list for 2019.
  • Transfer the data for all your 2018 goals with an O beside them to your 2019 goal list.
  • Add any additional “new” goals for 2019 to your 2019 list.

Make Your 2019 Goals Matter

  • For every goal now listed on your 2019 goal list, write down 3 – 5 actionable steps you can take for each individual goal.
  • 365 days is a long period of time, so pace yourself. You do not have to accomplish all of your goals by February, but you do need to spend a concerted amount of time and attention on them every week.
  • Wanting to accomplish a goal but not being willing to take small weekly steps toward that goal is equal to not truly wanting the end result. Consider your goals with a keen eye and understand what you are signing up for in order to accomplish them.
  • When life gets in the way, just remember there is no expiry date on a dream. Some goals need to role over a time or two before we accomplish them. Other goals drive us with a purpose to the desired outcome. Neither one is right. Neither one is wrong. They are simply different methods of achieving a desired result.

Looking for more information about goal setting? Check out this blog post on taking stock of your achievements for a little more inspiration and make 2019 your best year ever!

An Autumn to Remember…

Autumn on the coast of British Columbia is, generally speaking, wet, blustery, and at times a punch to the gut from Mother Nature, reminding us that summer has come to an end. To be completely honest, I am a summer girl. I love the heat, the patio dinning, beach BBQ’s, and all things that go along with the footloose and fancy free season. This autumn however, has demonstrated just how the season between summer fun and Christmas can be a magical symphony of vibrant colors and delicious, crisp autumn air.

I have been lapping up the change of season happening beyond my window for several weeks. It has been a slow but stunning transition. When the first leaf turned red, I honestly thought the rain would follow fast on its heels. To my delight, autumn has been anything but rainy.

an autumn to remember
Photo courtesy of (c) David C Williams

Yesterday was reminiscent of my younger years when as a family we would pile into the station wagon and go for a Sunday drive. We didn’t always have a destination, nor did we have an expectation of anything other than that which the drive provided.

My husband and I ventured out early yesterday morning. The sun was bright and promised a glorious day. We drove the back roads taking in farmers fields, sleepy farm animals, and the most amazing landscape of color every way my eyes turned.

The local mountains, rich with a jumble of shapes and colors, suddenly had depth to their towering masses. Even the berry fields have tinted themselves a festive cranberry color in celebration of the season. If you are lucky enough (and thankfully we are) to live near the ocean, the contrast of the blue water against a fireworks display of autumn is a sight one is not easy to forget.

Yes, autumn is certainly giving us a show this year and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to experience it.

Thankful Thoughts

Today, thankful thoughts are at the forefront of my mind. It is, after all, Thanksgiving Monday in Canada. Today, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media will be littered with gratitude filled thoughts. This of course, is a very good thing. Most certainly it is a trend I would like to see more of.

My  belief is, that which you focus on is equal to that which you experience. This belief is the reason I guide my thoughts daily through meditation, gratitude exercises and such. If we only ever have control over how we perceive and react to the world beyond our own minds, then surely we can find a little time each day to take care of those thoughts. 

Several of my previous posts have focused on mindfulness, seventy three of them to be precise. You can read more of my “mindful” posts here. Mindfulness is not merely a state of mind, but also an active, doing, sort of approach to life. It involves being aware of our surroundings just as much as it involves being centered and grounded in our own peacefulness. Mindfulness asks us to be present in the moment and have gratitude for whatever that present happens to be.

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