Pick a holiday and celebrate ~ by Grace Augustine

 It seems like at any given moment we can choose to celebrate anything on any day. However, there are specific days for all these "just about anythings."  Today, here is your list to choose from:

ANSWER YOUR CAT'S QUESTION/S DAY:  Even though our precious kittehs try their hardest to communicate with us, sometimes we don't pick up on their lingo. We need to learn Cat-ese. The inflection of their meows and their body language send different signs to owners. Anything from feed-me-stupid-human-my-bowl-is-only-half-full, to why-are-you-sad-I-will-make-it-all-better, to staring at you in the bathroom. On a regular basis, make sure you look into your cat's eyes and very slowly blink at them. This is a sign of affection. The ultimate sign of affection is if they sigh when they are on your lap. It means they totally trust you and love you at all costs.

CELEBRATION OF LIFE DAY: This day was originally created to celebrate children and grandchildren. Today the day has grown into a celebration of all people. It's also a great time for us to look at our own lives and to celebrate our victories and accomplishments as well as form a plan for where we want the future to take us.

COME IN FROM THE COLD DAY:  Self-explanatory.

Deposit photos

DANCE OF THE SEVEN VEILS DAY: Salome's dance, performed for Herod Antipas and his guests. Oscar Wilde's production of Salome showed the dancer seductively performing a striptease-like act removing her seven veils.  You can read more of this celebration HERE

NATIONAL HOT SAUCE DAY: Whether it be green, red, or any color between, hot sauce has been spicing up food palates since 1807 when one form was bottled in Massachusetts. Habanero, cayenne, jalepeno, chipolte, Scotch bonnet, and so many more go into the making of this palate flaming product.

Deposit photos

NATIONAL POLKA DOT DAY: Dig out those dresses and scarves with the beloved polka dots. Today is the day to wear them proudly! We also celebrate Minnie Mouse, who, let's face it, is the Queen of Polka Dots. At the beginning of the 19th century, polka dots were noticeable in paintings by Monet (Luncheon on the Grass) and Bazille (Family Reunion). 

In the 1920's and 1930's the Polka Dot trend became quite a fashion statement. Christian Dior began putting out garments with polka dots after World War II.

That's it for this installment of celebrate. I hope you will join me next month for more in this series. If you'd like to read more of my posts, please click HERE to be directed to my member's page.

Motorcycle Roads


        When I turned 50 I decided I deserved a midlife crisis, so I bought my own Harley Heritage Springer and learned some beautiful backroads.

 This Harley impulse was fueled by my first ride that had launched my love affair with motorcycles. Sixteen years old, I was invited to Florence, Oregon, to celebrate my friend’s birthday with her family. We went to a high school dance and had a great time; then her cousin and his friend invited us to ride on their dirt bikes. At 11 p.m. we were flying through Oregon woods and back roads, having a heart pounding, terrific time. 

By 2:00, the boys decided we needed to go see the quicksand pits.  Having spent my youth watching Saturday afternoon Tarzan movies, I was already convinced that quicksand was a significant threat in adult life,

 but I swallowed my terror and rode along. Once there, the boys started running across a large pool of quicksand, causing the earth to roll in giant concentric waves from the impact of their footsteps. They could only stop in several spots where grass tuffets grew and the ground was firmer, so it became a game of base running on a dare. First and last time I have ever experienced quicksand. Got back to the motel after 4 a.m. and sunrise. 50 years later, I still remember the scolding…and we didn’t even tell her parents about the quicksand.

***One day I was climbing a long road through a state forest. The sky was wide open and blue, not even a hint of clouds; the road was lined with trees that were cut back from the road, so visibility was clear and there was no sign of people or life of any kind. With no warning, out of the proverbial empty blue sky, SPLAT. Somebody dumped a gallon of water on me. Not raindrops, a big slap of water that hit once and disappeared; no water before or after me on the road, just an abrupt glop of water in the face.

         It happened so fast, I didn't have time to react; I didn't even swerve or brake.  But what the hell? I rode on, slightly in shock, wiping my face. What hit me? From where? Less than a  quarter mile down the road, I had the answer.

From 200 feet up came a helicopter over the trees hauling a big canvas bucket full of water that had evidently slopped over.  The firefighting helicopter was scooping up lake water and dumping it on a forest fire...after baptizing me first.

***It was sunset and the sun had slid behind the mountains, leaving the western sky glowing. The air was soft and lovely, the perfect temperature for riding. Luckily for me, I had just crested a hill and was on a long straightaway doing 40. The darkness was settling in, when suddenly a vast cloud of white moths engulfed me, their albino white wings reflecting my headlights and blocking my view of everything else. I throttled back, but for almost a block (it felt like a mile)  the white fluttering wings engulfed me utterly, reflecting the headlights and blinding me completely.

        The hatch stretched on and on until I was terrified that I was running out of straight road; but I knew I couldn’t stop, someone might rear end me in the endless cloud. Oh God, when was it going to stop, I couldn’t see! Then came an experience that is seared into my memory. It happened in a split second, but I can see his face to this day. Cutting right through the moths and screaming up to within an inch of my helmet came… a bat. 

    His sonar kept him from smashing into my face.

    Luckily he was there and gone so fast, I could not react--which would surely have left me spread across the asphalt.

    I doubt he remembers me, but I can see his black, shiny eyes even now. No doubt he thought I was pilfering his snacks.

For more posts by this author click:  Ruth Ross Saucier Author Page

Direction ~ by Lexa Fisher

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Direction. Where am I headed?

I learned a lot about myself this past quarter. Work was really busy—longer days, weekend hours—and I let it consume my life. It was so easy to look at my day calendar and know what I would be doing the next 10 hours. I’d planned out everything I had to get done, I knew what those tasks were, what the finished goal looked like. My direction was forward.

Image from Unsplash
Problems developed, however, during my non-work hours. I had no path forward, no goal. When I had free time I wasn't able to be creative. Like unused muscles, in those non-work hours my brain couldn’t come up with a single creative thing I wanted to do.

Making Christmas cards finally gave me a goal in December, but I'd failed to do any of the other crafting that I usually enjoy. So this year I'm setting hobby goals--a road map for where I want my creativity to take me.

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash
To reach my goal of regaining creativity, I've had to take baby steps to stop work and switch to crafting. In planning this journey, I've set out small tasks. It's a lot like looking at a map and plotting a route to your destination. 

The first destination in my quest for creativity is the felt ornaments I've wanted to make for years. I have a Pinterest board with dozens of examples to get me started.

The first step was to search out patterns, then collect my felt and bits and pieces for decorations. Like packing for a vacation, I've sorted out what I need and what I'm missing--such as having only a single, bent embroidery needle. 🙄

I'm on my way!
Now at the end of the day I have more than just those pretty examples to look at, and knowing how to get started, it's a lot easier to stop work. The journey to greater creativity in 2021 begins!


Getting Past Those Less-Than-Wonderful Feelings ~ Laurie Schnebly Campbell


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

We’ve been through a year of more trouble than usual, and sometimes the bad feelings can get kind of overwhelming. So here’s a list of the four questions to answer anytime you're faced with ANY emotion you'd just as soon not be feeling.

Number One: What IS this feeling?


Anger? Dread? Sadness? Envy? Boredom? Incompetence? You name it. Just being able to identify the feeling gives us more of a sense of control...and a sense of control does wonders for our self-esteem.

Number Two: Where did this feeling come from?


Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash
The new project not working? My friend forgetting my
birthday? Having my idea rejected? A bad hair day? Whatever it is, identify the source. You need to know what got you started feeling this way.

Number Three: How long do I want to keep this feeling?


Ten minutes? Two weeks? Four hours? For something like a death in the family, it could last for years. But even so, you want to break it into manageable chunks. Let's say if my cousin died and I was looking at our old photos and it made me feel sad, I might choose to really FEEL that sadness for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes, I have to stop.


"Wait a minute," you say. "I'm sad! I can't just stop being sad."


But let's say I'm looking at the photos feeling sad, and all of a sudden a crazed drug lord breaks into my house with an assault rifle and says, "I'm going down and I'm takin' you down with me."


Am I going to sit there being sad?


Nope -- I'm gonna get away from the drug lord.


Once I've raced next door and called 911, I can go back to being sad if I want to. But for that two minutes of fleeing from the drug lord, I WASN'T sad.


Why not? After all, none of this changed the fact that my cousin died, that I miss her and my life will never be the same and these photos remind me of how great she was and I'll never see her again. Nothing has changed except that for two minutes, I quit feeling sad.


And you know how we never do anything without a reason? Whatever my reason, I chose to quit feeling sad.


Maybe I didn't consciously stop and make the choice: "Let's see, I think I'll quit feeling sad for the next two minutes in order to save my life." Or, in order to save my sanity. Or, to save myself from feeling lousy. But for whatever reason, I made the choice to quit feeling sad. And I can make that choice anytime I want to.


Photo by Daniel Gonzalez on Unsplash

Big sentence, there:

I can make that choice anytime I want to.

This means I can decide how long I want to feel sad about my cousin before I quit to save myself from the drug lord...or to save myself from the misery. An hour? Ten minutes? Whatever. You have a pretty good sense of how long you can experience a feeling before you want to move onto something else. So I might decide that I'm going to feel sad for half an hour. But after that, I have to quit and move onto something else.


Now that doesn't mean I can't feel sad again later on. But what's important is to decide how long I want to keep this feeling right NOW. And then to stick to whatever amount of time that is, and move onto something else.


Which leads to our last question, and it's the most important.

Number Four. Once the time is up on this feeling, what am I going to replace it with?


It has to be an action, not just another feeling. I can't decide, "Okay, in ten minutes I'm gonna start feeling...let's see, ecstatic." What I CAN do is choose an action -- and if it's an action that’ll make me feel ecstatic, then that’s fine.


If I'm feeling sad about my cousin, what I might put in place of that sadness is a quick run around the block. Or a phone call to a friend. Or a trip to the grocery store. Some specific action that will get my mind off the sadness.


And what's amazing is that this works. You might find yourself driving to the grocery store and suddenly feeling sad again -- but when that happens you remind yourself, "Oops! Time's up. Right now I'm doing the shopping; I already DID my half hour of sadness." You can do another half hour later on if you want, but right now you stay focused on the grocery store.


So you see how it goes? And you can do this on your own, anytime you want to.


It's hard to believe how well this works until you've actually tried it. Next time you're mad at your husband or hurt by your critique partner or frustrated with your car or whatever, pick how long you want to keep that feeling -- don't cheat yourself, pick as long a time as you want -- and then pick what you're gonna put in its place.


I guarantee you, it'll work. Because it reminds you of something we all tend to forget, and that is:


We are in control of our choices. We're not always in control of our circumstances, but we ARE in control of our choices. We can choose how to deal with rejection, frustration, boredom, fear, you name it. We can choose how long we want to grieve, who we want to share the pain with, what we're gonna do in pursuit of our goals -- those are all our choices, and nobody else's.


Photo by Fernando Brasil on Unsplash
So celebrate the fact that you are in control. And
regardless of what you decide to do when faced with any bad situation, you can make whatever choices you want.


Acknowledge it. Use it. You'll be amazed at how powerful you are.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell teaches creative people about ways of improving their life -- like in the two-week class called “New Year, New You” starting on Monday (January 18) at https://rwasd.com/classes/.


A New Year's Resolution: Be Kind ~ Jacquolyn McMurray


Tim Mossholder
For many, the new year prompts us to reflect on past years and strive to do better in the future. After much thought and reflection, my resolution for this year is to be kinder to myself and to others. 

Being kinder to myself includes scheduling time for restful activities. Susan May Warren refers to this as Sacred Rest. In her My Story Matters--My Brilliant Writing Planner, Warren recommends rating seven areas of rest: physical, emotional, creative, spiritual, social, sensory, and mental. My assessment ranked creative rest—rest that nurtures your creativity—as the most in need of attention. As a creative, I was surprised at the results, but now I know that I must schedule those activities that nurture my creativity. 

Here's what I plan to change to be kinder to myself:
    1) schedule time for a walk at least four times a week, 2) work on not feeling guilty when I take a day to do something creative, and 3) dismiss feeling selfish when taking time for self-care. That's a tall order, but I'm going to schedule these things on my calendar at the beginning of every week. I'm trying to be realistic here, so a stretch goal is to establish a morning routine that includes a daily affirmation/verse and maybe even a yoga routine. 

United Nations

What's my plan to be kind to others?  I started a list of things that cost nothing but time.

*  Every week, call or set up a video chat with someone I haven't talked to in a long time--the elders I know who are in long term care, friends, and family.  Although texting is a quick and easy way to communicate with others, it's not the same as hearing someone's voice.  

* Every month send out a physical card/note/letter to one of our family members/friends who are in long term care facilities. Don't you still enjoy receiving an actual card?

And a special list for our writing tribe:

*  Post/share other author’s releases and awards. Celebrate successes. We are in this together.

* Give thoughtful, constructive feedback to my writing partners through considerate language. We all have strengths and areas of growth, and a critique group can provide much needed support and encouragement. No matter where we are in our writing journey, we can benefit from the expertise of others. I know what it feels like to get flippant, nasty, remarks from a former writing partner. I hope I'm never that person.  

*  Write honest reviews, but think about how the review will be received. There is always something nice to say. :) Yes, we authors need thick skin, but I don't feel good about knocking down another author. If I can't comfortably rank a story at a 4 or 5, I'd rather not post a review. 

How will you be kind to yourself in 2021? How will you be kind to others?

Pick a holiday and celebrate ~ by Grace Augustine

 It seems like at any given moment we can choose to celebrate anything on any day. However, there are specific days for all these "just...