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.

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!

A Space of My Own

Space is like money, the more you have the more you use. We live in what most North Americans would consider to be a small space, all 1,060 square feet of it. We don’t really need a larger home for the three of us, though I certainly wouldn’t turn one down if offered. With our son a mere year or two away from leaving the nest to pursue his own goals, relocating just doesn’t make sense for us right now. 

That being said, I covet homes with just two extra rooms. One is a dedicated workout room where all the equipment and machines could be hidden behind a door that closes. The other, and probably my most desired space, is an office all my own. A place where I can organize my book stack, my notes, a bulletin board filled with the plot of my current work in progress. Even a white board covered in all the potential new writing projects that currently wander about my brain. If those ideas had a space to live on a white board, perhaps my brain would be a little more free and organized too.

A Space of My Own

This past week, what began as an exceptionally generous and thoughtful 25th anniversary gift turned into something even greater. It was not lost on me that for our silver anniversary my husband presented me with a silver MacBook Pro. It isn’t diamonds but it is still shiny and most certainly a direct path to this writer’s heart. 

With MacBook in hand, I wandered aimlessly around the house searching for a suitable place to put it. The tiny space in a corner of the kitchen carved out for the home computer, and my previous writing spot, isn’t set up for another computer without the hassle of moving things around on a daily basis.

I must admit there actually is a very large desk with cupboards and such sitting in the basement. The basement however is cold, dark, damp, and two stories below the only washroom in the house. So, as you can imagine, the many cups of tea I was drinking to stay warm in the basement equaled multiple trips up the stairs in search of the washroom. Not an ideal or time effective situation for a writer.

Having voiced my concern over where my new MacBook would safely call home, all the while threatening anyone who dared eat or drink near my new baby, my husband and resident problem solver, set to work. With the simple, and I mean simple, move of one piece of furniture, there was suddenly a space for a desk all my own. A trip to IKEA, thank God for IKEA, granted me a slim but suitable little desk and a matching shelving unit for my many research materials.

So today, here I sit at my new desk with my new MacBook, pleased as punch that I truly have a space to call my own. I have high expectations of this space. I will be more productive. Words will flow effortlessly to my fingertips. I will no longer be distracted by dirty dishes or anyone seeking an afternoon snack. So, off I go to embrace the day and the looming deadline for book number 3 in a space all my own.

Looking for a peek into my new writing space? Follow me on Instagram for photos and more.

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!

Through The Lens of History

History has the ability to inspire us. Even more powerful though, history has the ability to teach us. To show us how past events shaped the lives we enjoy today. I spend a significant amount of my time researching historical elements for the novels I write. Much of the era I focus on is the pre, post, and World War II time frame. The war itself offers up a bounty of stories ripe for the picking. A variety of stories from a staggering number of perspectives keeps me engrossed in the time period.

While I was researching the history of the 1946 Ford Deluxe, I came across a concise and insightful book. The book shared the historical account of not only the cars themselves but also the men, manufacturing, and politics behind them. I was intrigued to learn that during Hitler’s reign, the German division of Ford was required to use solely German parts in their manufacturing process. 

Through The Lens of History

As I expanded my knowledge on the 1946 Ford Deluxe, I confirmed that due to the war, automobile design was stalled for several years. It wasn’t until a few years after the war had ended, that Ford began to investigate new designs. The first automobiles produced after the war were manufactured using pre-war materials and thus the sleek and bold designs of the post-war Ford’s did not hit the automobile market until late 1948 / early 1949.

The most intriguing bit of information:

The Great Depression, it seems, was the result of three significant factors. The first was the real-estate collapse in Florida. The second was the upheaval and crash of the New York stock market. But the third contributing factor was the consumer debt of almost $2.9 billion dollars. I was shocked to learn that of that $2.9 billion dollars of debt, almost half of it was due to consumers purchasing automobiles on credit.

To be honest, I never really understood the financials of why the Great Depression began. The reasoning for such a drastic change in a enormous economy always seemed to consist of smoke and mirrors to me. Though I can easily grasp the realities of a slippery slope as time marched on through the 1930s, I was unable to truly wrap my brain around how it all began.

I never expected the book ’40 Ford by Joseph P. Cabadas to provide insight on matters outside the scope of the cars I was seeking information on. When I became enlightened within the first few pages with regards to the consumer’s role in the creation of the Great Depression, I was reminded to open my viewfinder. 

History has a way of telling its own story. The version we learn along the way has more to do with the lens through which we look than the historical data we seek.

A Giveaway Makes Me Happy

Just this month I created a book giveaway. There are two things you should know about me. One, I love to buy books. Seriously, I have more books waiting to be read than I have time to read, but that doesn’t seem to stop me from buying them. Two, I love to share great books I’ve read with my friends. I pass books on, often requesting that they don’t come back to me. Okay, I request they don’t come back to me because that would be evidence, kind of like a Starbucks receipt, if I don’t have it, I couldn’t possibly have purchased it.

Though I may be in a little bit of denial with regards to both Starbucks and my ever growing book collection, when the idea of sharing books through a giveaway occurred to me, I was stunned I hadn’t thought of it earlier. What better giveaway for an author to offer than BOOKS?

Giveaway time

Before The Rain Falls

Is the first historical fiction title in a long list of books I plan to share in the coming months. I will announce the giveaway each month by revealing the chosen title in my bi-monthly newsletter. If you don’t want to miss your chance at winning monthly books, sign up for my newsletter today! I promise not to spam you nor share your email address with others.

I send two emails a month with updates on what I’m reading, where I am at with the current novel I am writing. In addition, those emails will now include the monthly giveaway announcement! The books I giveaway will come from the historical fiction genre as those are the types of books I write and most often what I read. The winner(s) will receive the monthly chosen book in digital format. No Kindle? No problem! I read Kindle books on my iPad with the free Kindle app. 

I will contact each month’s winner to determine which digital format they prefer before sending them their prize. I am super excited to share great books with you so, off you go now…. Go enter this month’s giveaway!

Good luck!