Mindful Mondays – Week 31 – A Christmas Story

Christmas is only two weeks away! I say this, not to add panic to your day, but to set the mood for a little Christmas story. As a historical fiction writer, I am drawn to the classics. Every year I watch Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a wonderful life. I usually watch by myself, tucked under a handmade quilt (thanks Mom!), cozy by the fire.

My favorite classic though, is A Christmas Carol. Dickens really did know how to take a darkened, dirty city and turn it into a magical piece of holiday tradition. I am most certainly no Charles Dickens, but here is my Christmas story for you this holiday season.

A Christmas Story by Tanya E Williams

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Mindful Mondays – Week 30 – The Human Connection

As humans, we are innately driven to seek out acceptance and understanding from one another. Our voices grow louder, not always because our words must be heard, but because our hearts must be. We are fortunate when we encounter a situation where another person recognizes our heart’s intent. The success of reaching our goals is one thing, the recognition of the moments that mattered along the way from another person has the potential to make our heart soar.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of sitting down with the local arts and entertainment reporter for the Peace Arch News, Alex Browne. It was a delightful hour spent discussing history, historical fiction, and Becoming Mrs. Smith, my debut historical fiction title that was released in October 2017.  Our mutual appreciation for history and how it relates to the human condition was at the crux of our conversation.

The interview could have easily been two colleagues meeting over tea as historical data of the past threaded through our conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent during the interview. It is however, in reading Alex’s words that my heart feels as if it has been heard. You can read the full article here at the paper’s online affiliate The Surrey Now.

Human Connections

Human connections can be as simple as a smile shared between two people or as complex as a lifesaving action. The vastness with which humans connect is limitless, yet the simplicity of a connection ripples through our lives adding value, joy, and hope. This holiday season, I encourage you to seek out and connect with others. Hint, hint… random acts of kindness are a super, quick and easy way to make those connections meaningful Continue reading

Mindful Mondays – Week 29 – Mindful Consumption

Consumption can refer to anything we consume. When we think about mindful consumption though, the usual suspects that stand out are in regards to an over consumption of food and alcohol. If we are being mindful about what goes into our mouth, chances are, we are motivated by a desire to be healthy or slim. Good goals in themselves, but not necessarily ones that we can count on to see us through in the long term.

If your neighborhood is anything like mine, this past weekend brought out a frenzy of activity as holiday lights and decorations were erected throughout. With the countdown to Christmas now underway, I was reminded that the season for overindulgence has also begun. Thus, now is the perfect time to check in with ourselves and establish some boundaries as to what we will and won’t be alright with this festive season.

This past April, our family took our healthy living goals another step deeper and we embarked on a journey called The WildFit Challenge. The process wasn’t always easy, but it was well worth the time and energy we put into the program. Of course, we learned about our bodies and food. We also learned about the food manufacturing industry and its downfalls (truly scary stuff). Continue reading

Mindful Mondays – Week 28 – Let’s come together

Together, it is a word like none other. We are stronger together. Life is easier together. Together, we can change the world. The word itself, provides me with a sense of inclusion. A sense of connection with others. And that is the power of togetherness.

In the northern hemisphere, we are about to embark into the dark, cold, solitary pattern of life that accompanies winter. We will spend more time indoors. Hot beverages will abound by the gallon. We will find ourselves snuggled up under blankets, watching a fire, a hockey game, or a favorite movie.

There is much to be said about the simplicity of the winter months. I adore the chai tea season simply for the ability to sip a warm beverage that tastes like Christmas in a cup. Solitude, however tends to creep in as the days get shorter. Togetherness is a part of the human experience so this winter season, I am looking to grow my community, from the comfort of my writing desk that is.

Let's Connect

I wasn’t always certain of the power of social media. I would scoff at cute, but time sucking videos. Don’t even get me started on the bizarre habit of sharing photos of what you are about to eat. Let’s just say that approach works for a foodie, or a food blogger. Most of us however, aren’t interested in what is on your plate unless you are about to share some our way.

This past year though, has offered me some exceptional opportunities to connect with others through social media. I have made friends all over the world and with that I am able to experience a little of what life is like elsewhere through the eyes of these new connections.

We love to chat about books. What we’re reading. What we are about to read. The more we connect the taller my “to be read” pile grows. But we also talk about life. What it is like to be an author? Where our writing takes us through travel. Our habits and our guilty pleasures. Did someone say chai?

We connect to offer support, encouragement, and the occasional fire placed beneath the buttocks. We are social by nature, solitude by chosen profession, and always excited to connect with our readers.

Readers are the life blood of any author’s life. They allow us the pure joy of being able to create. Readers, I think, spend almost as much time thinking about our characters as we writers do. That is a simple joy that goes deep into the heart of a writer. If we’ve touched your heart, we’ve done our job and nothing, simply nothing makes us happier.

So, let’s do this. Let’s connect and get to know one another better. I promise you a glimpse into my writing process and my life. Life is the best teacher and if we can share our experiences with each other, both the successes and the failures, I’m certain we will become fast friends.

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Mindful Mondays – Week 27 – Lest We Forget

This is the Remembrance Day long weekend in Canada. Though, November 11th is a few days past us now, I hope the sentiment you find below will stay with you for many days yet to come. I am sharing with you my November newsletter. The words, “lest we forget” are etched in my memory. I remember being a young girl, walking in my girl guide uniform at the local parade. One year in particular, I was honored to carry the Canadian flag in the parade, a task I took seriously.

The flag grew increasingly heavy as we walked past the library and the fire station. I shifted its position and held on tight, gripping the pole with my winter mittens, determined not to be defeated by the flag’s weight. Wreaths were lain, bagpipes played, and poppies adorned many a lapel.

Lest We Forget

It is a memory that stays with me and though many of our heroes have left us now, the importance of “lest we forget” feels even greater and the flag even heavier. We owe our safety, our happiness, our lives to those who fought for our freedoms. No matter how heavy the flag may feel, know that it will always be lighter for us because of them.

From the desk of Tanya E Williams…

Just over a year ago, I began my research for the historical fiction Smith Family Series…

I began with the story of John Smith, a simple man whose beliefs, character, and patriotism guided me down a path into the deep well of research that is World War II. John’s story continues to be a work in progress and my plan is to release A Man Called Smith as the third installment in the series.

During this time of discovery, I found myself immersed in the events that began, continued, and finally ended the war. I was drawn to the human element of the research and was rewarded with many harrowing tales of lives lost and battles won.  

I read countless letters, listened to World News radio reports, and watched documentaries so graphic, much of the viewing was behind the shield of my own two hands.  One documentary in particular stuck with me. It was an interview with men who had served in WWII and had survived.

Survival though is not all it is cracked up to be. Human survival can be so innately strong that all sense of joy or happiness no longer exists within the individual. They are left but shells of a former self. As I watched the men as old as 87 years dissolve into incoherent tears, still unable to come to terms with what they saw and experienced 70 years before, I knew that survival did not necessarily mean escape from the terror of war.

Sadly, a war touches many lives. It does not discriminate between men, women, or children. Whether a soldier’s life is lost or a family is left without a brother, sister, parent, or child, a war knows no bounds. My goal with Becoming Mrs. Smith was to show WWII from the perspective of those left at home. Their sacrifice and worry on the home front was not without turmoil.

I recently returned from a trip to Quebec where I had the great privilege of touring an active military base. I learned of a book of names located there. The names were of every fallen soldier throughout history from their company, handwritten in memory. I was deeply touched to learn that every day a soldier visits the book and reads aloud from the two facing pages, vocalizing each name with respect and gratitude. Each day the page is turned to the next one and another soldier reads those names and so on. This daily ritual is performed so that no soldier is forgotten. No sacrifice is taken for granted.

Let we forget are three little words whose impact is much larger. This November 11th, I hope you will join me in honoring, thanking, and remembering all those who sacrifice for the safety and well being of others.

Xo
Tanya E Williams

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Mindful Mondays – Week 25 – Loving Life

Loving life has much to do with good fortune and surrounding yourself with a solid support system. It also is determined by what steps you take each day to make your experience rich and filled with the things you love. This blog post is reaching you a little later than usual today. I was delayed at the hospital waiting for an x-ray for my son. His nose is definitely swollen and bruised and potentially broken.

It occurred to me as we waited, that he was calm, accepting, and prepared to do whatever he needed to. Moving through this process was not without discomfort or patience. There was no whining or even the slightest complaint from him as we spent the day in crowded waiting rooms. The injury is due to a friendly game of prom dress rugby. Yes, you saw that correctly. A game of sevens rugby where all the boys were dressed in prom dresses. The result was a crowd pleasing hour of fun and laughter.

Life is too short to wait...

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Mindful Mondays – Week 24 – Feeding your soul.

A soul, like a body, needs to be nourished. As humans we seek the solace of a cozy place to lay our heads, seeking rejuvenation. In contrast, we also seek a sense of community, of understanding, of acceptance. This is the soul’s need to be a part of something greater than ourselves. These needs are diverse and ever shifting. Our job is to recognize those needs and tend to them.

As a writer, my soul is nourished in many ways. There are days, even among a deluge of rain, that I must venture outside regardless of the discomfort this may cause my body. Solitude too, is one of my soul’s many requirements. I must sit and think. I must get lost in a dream or a story in order to rejuvenate my spirit. My daily meditation practice nurtures me on yet another level .

This past weekend, I fed my soul at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference. Though this morning, exhaustion fills every pore of my being, the weekend was quite simply amazing. I listened and learned from writing professionals that I have a deep amount of respect for and thus fueled my soul with knowledge. On more than one occasion, I was touched as keynote speakers reached into their hearts and shared their life experiences with us, creating lasting emotional ties.

Feed your soul. Continue reading

Mindful Mondays – Week 20 – 5 things I learned while writing a book

Writing a book is a fairly large endeavor and one that has times of joy and times of frustration. There is the time vacuum, as you research your characters, story plot, and all things genre related. Then there are the words. Those lovely, lovely words. Where at first there just simply aren’t enough of them and then suddenly there are too many. Oh, how the words play tricks with the writer’s mind.

Once you decide to write a book and then force yourself to sit down each and every day to begin the task of writing, you are immersed in a world unlike any other. To give you a little insight into the writing process, well, my writing process anyway, here are 5 things I learned while writing Becoming Mrs. Smith. Becoming Mrs. Smith Continue reading

Mindful Mondays – Week 17 – Time Flies…

Have you ever noticed how fast time is passing us by? Days become a blur. Weeks a distant memory. And don’t even get me started on how quickly summer is coming to an end.

I am an ‘in the moment’ kind of person. Whatever that moment happens to be. I am certain that my enthusiasm for the right here, right now can come off as being unaware of what is going on around me at times. Regardless of whatever aloofness I may be portraying, I have found a true joy in each moment and being present allows any time to be just right.

So, how do you do it? You ask. How do you embrace that mindset of being present in each and every moment? Well, a brain injury is one way, though I seriously do not recommend going that route, as it comes with a whole heap of other challenges.

Another, (read safer) way to go is to pick 5 things that are at the heart of you. These are the pieces of your life that when push comes to shove, you are not willing to let go of. Your list can consist of people, goals, lifestyle choices, or even your car (if you are really into your car, that is).

Narrow your list down to 5. Reminder: you can do all things… you just can’t do all things all the time at the same time. So for right now, pick 5 things that are crucial to your existence. Write your selection of 5 on a piece of paper, leaving a few lines in between each of your choices.

Your list’s layout should look something like this:

List of 5 crucial elements of your life

Now, beneath each of your listed choices, write 3 ways you are going to make those crucial life elements happen in your life. I didn’t say it was going to be a piece of cake. But trust me, identifying what you want in life and then putting a plan into action of achieving it, is so worth the effort.

For example, I wanted to spend more time in nature. So I decided to wake up a little earlier and go for a walk every morning. Sometimes my walk takes me to the forest or to the ocean’s edge. Often times, it is simply around the neighborhood but I relish those moments just the same. In our neighborhood, I get to watch the wild bunnies munch on their breakfast. I listen to the many varied birds sing their morning songs. I changed the start of my day to include my desired time in nature. The result is that each day is improved because of that decision. As an extra bonus, I am able to sneak in some quality family time too as my husband now joins me whenever his schedule allows.

Once you have listed three ways to achieve your desired life elements, pat yourself on the back and smile. You have just created the 5 elements of your life that are no longer negotiable.

It is important to understand that every day won’t offer the opportunity to enjoy each life element. This being said, you should be aware of your choices and do your best to not let a week slip by without giving yourself to each of your life’s priorities. This is how to live in the moment. Be present doing what you want to do for some of the time and the rest of the time won’t feel as if you missed out on everything as the world zoomed past you.

I have a 70/30 rule in all things I do. I must enjoy at least 70% of what I do in order to get through the 30% that may be less than desirable (but necessary all the same). For example, I love nothing more than cooking a delicious, healthy meal for my family. However, I am not entirely fond of cleaning up once the meal is finished. The good news is that 70% of the joy of cooking, listening to music as I putter in the kitchen, and the praise from the family fuel me on to complete the less than desirable 30% of the cleanup.

So, take the plunge. Write your list of non-negotiable life choices and start living in the moment, doing what your heart desires, making the world a better place one day at a time. Time is flying by anyway, you might as well make it worth yours.

Time Flies

 

 

Mindful Mondays – Week 14 – Bliss

Bliss. What is it and how do we add it to our lives? Since today is the Monday of a long weekend here in beautiful British Columbia, I am going to keep this week’s post relatively concise (as I have much enjoying left to do today).

Bliss is that moment of pure joy that washes over you like the warmth of springtime sunshine. It is the giddy feeling you get in your tummy which is fueled by excitement. You abandon worries of where you are or who is watching you as you engage in your moment of bliss. It is the epitome of what it means to be filled up with happiness.

Add bliss to your day with these 5 strategies

So how do we add more of it into our lives? The answer will vary for each of you. Ask yourself a couple of telling questions and soon you’ll be on your way to harnessing more bliss into your day. Continue reading