So many to choose from
Three samples and one gallon later, I've finally decided on a color for the bedroom walls, Napery: a warm, pale yellow.
It's an appropriate name, napery, though I did have to consult the dictionary to be sure. Napery are household linens, most often used to refer to table linens ... napkins and tablecloths.
Finding the right color was difficult, but sorting through the names assigned to paint colors added an unexpected layer of indecision.
Would you want to use paint in your living room the color of Windchill, or worse, Unraveled? Not me. I'd rather go with Contented, Celestial Skies, Melodious, Peekaboo Coral, or Shiny Penny ... though Turning Pointe may be a good choice if that's what you're after.
So many adjectives to describe paint. It reminds me how many words there are to choose from ... so many words waiting to be used.
Your new friend: the thesaurus
If you find your writing is flat (uninspired, ordinary, repetitive, or mundane), up your word game. Grab the thesaurus or use an online version and find a word that better suits (conveys, illustrates, depicts, expounds on) what you're trying to say.
Not with multi-syllabic or fancy-schmancy words, but words that are concise. Words that help you say what you want to say in a way that delights (enthralls, satisfies) your readers.
Over the past two years the neighborhood birds have been a source of amusement ... and a welcome distraction.
When I sit at my computer I look out a second floor window that offers a close-up view of bird activity in the middle of a pine tree that stands close to the house.
Occasionally I'll see a cardinal (more often than not, a bright red male) and most days, one or more chickadees. The chickadees are quite small, over-the-top charming, and not surprising ... the designated Maine state bird.
Each state has one ... do you know which bird your state claims as its own?
The chickadee was the inspiration for the latest stationery & writing paper set. Three designs, lined and unlined, along with second sheets(!), and three stamp designs.
I hope you like it and I hope you'll get a set for yourself ... for letters (written by hand or on a typewriter), for journaling, story writing, and list making ... maybe an account of all those birds in your neighborhood?
Celebrate our feathered friends and order your set today.
We never had a dog when I was growing up.
There were a few cats, a snake even, but never a dog.
I can't even recall knowing any one dog all that well, but there came a day when I wanted one.
So I went looking for one, talked about about getting one, did my research on bringing a dog home, and finally got one. A basset hound.
Why a basset hound? I think it was the ears. They have big, beautiful ears. Velvety ears. And they are solid dogs, well-tempered, and laid-back.
Unfortunately, they're not great about walking in a straight line, moving along from here to there ... at least not Agatha. Nope, she'd walk a few paces and stop. Sniff, move on, and stop again.
After reading the most popular and recommended books about having a dog, I understood the importance of daily exercise, and made sure we went out. Every day. We went in the woods and around the neighborhood, but it was always the same ... a herky-jerky trek from here to there.
Now, granted, I wanted a dog that was easy-going, but when it was time to get her out for some exercise, it became an exercise in frustration. For me and the dog.
The frustration, I realized, came from expecting Agatha to power walk, get moving, and do what I wanted her to do ... to go against her nature. Bassets are after all, scent hounds. Sniffing is what they do. Once I figured that out, I enjoyed out time outside.
What I learned
I learned to take myself for a walk first ... alone. And to accept what Agatha was teaching me ... to slow down and notice things.
And I wrote a book about it: Things I Notice When I Walk The Dog.
It's a picture book memoir. Agatha's legacy ... and part of mine.
Think memoir's not for you?
If you think memoir is not for you, think again. People love stories and you've go some good ones.
Stories you can share in a collection or how-to book.
Remember, memoir is not an account of your entire life. It's the account of an experience or event where some kind of understanding, lesson, or insight occurred.
How did you get started doing what you do? What does someone entering the field you're in need to know? What do you wish you knew? Share it and help someone in the same position.
Have you completed a self-initiated challenge where you learned something you didn't expect?
What do you do in your spare time? Are you a master chef, a marathon runner, or member of a band? What's that like? We want to know.
Once you get started, you'll be surprised at what you can share.
It's my only plant and I'm fairly certain the only reason it survives is that it's a cactus that doesn't need a lot of water. And that's a good thing, because I forget to water it.
All the time. Dry as a bone when I take it down off the shelf. So I water it and talk to it and earnestly try once again to remember not to let it go so long.
When I first brought it home it was a tiny little starter plant. Just a few sprigs. But it was healthy. It blossomed and flowered ... more than once a year, I think.
Is that possible?
When it grew too large for its starter pot, I repotted it ... and then again when it outgrew that pot. It did well and continued to flower. Year after year.
Until it didn't.
It just stopped flowering and I don't know why. I talked to it, I paid more attention to watering and fertilizing, and did some research. But nothing. For years.
I tried moving it from one room to another, some with more light, some with less, but it never made a difference. Last year I put it in yet another location, high up on the top of a book case.
And something shifted.
It came back to life with a whole bouquet's worth of flowers. More plentiful, joyful, pink, and beautiful than ever.
Was it a fluke? Would it flower again? I wasn't sure.
It was not a fluke. It blossomed again this year with another round of fireworks ... new blossoms opening day after day.
I'm not sure what made it stop flowering, and I'm not sure what made it blossom again, but it reinforces the idea that we have to hang in there. Keep trying different things until something clicks.
If you've got a story or memoir project you've been thinking about, working on, muddling through, hang in there. Keep working at it.
One day things will shift and it will come together. If you need or want help, get in touch. We can talk about where you are where you want to be.
A Cool Twist on Sharing What You Know
There are so many ways to share what you know. It's one of the reasons I love what I do. And with each project, I learn something new.
Now, you may or may not be a fan of winter. I get it. Ice and shoveling after a snowstorm are my least favorite winter activities.
But the morning after a snowstorm?
It's just about as beautiful as it gets. The air is crisp; the sky is blue; rooftops, streets, and trees are frosted ... and there's a hush over the landscape.
Today I want to share with you two infographics I created for winter activities ... because the best way to get through winter is to get outside.
Well, getting outside is always a good idea, regardless of the season.
Anyway, here are two winter activities that will get you outside: making a snowman (or winter beauty as I call them) and ice fishing. Though truthfully, I'm all in on the first, not so much on the second, but I loved learning more about it.
I'm sharing these today to remind you that sharing what you know matters. And it doesn't always have to be in a long-form book.
You've got insights and knowledge other people are interested in ... insights and knowledge we need.
Share what you know.
If you've been thinking of a writing a book. That's a great idea.
But maybe a book seems too daunting or not the right format. Consider an infographic, a workbook, a timeline, or a web page where you can add links and resources.
It's time to share what you know, how you did it, and why it matters.
I know, it can be difficult to know where to begin, so let me help. Together we'll figure out how to share what you know ... and put it in a form that fits.
Just remember: People love stories, and you've got some good ones.
Call or write today to get the help you need to get started.
I heard the train this morning, just like I hear it every morning.
It rumbles through the woods at the end of the street at the same time my alarm sounds ... 5 o'clock sharp. Every day.
Some days I wake before the alarm and hear the train, some days I hear it after the alarm. But they always sound within seconds of one another.
This morning it made me think of New Year resolutions ... and how I've decided I'm not going to make any.
No, instead, I'm going to make like the train and create a schedule. And stick to it.
There's a schedule when the train leaves and when it arrives. No vacillating. No saying, "Eh, I think I'll hang here for another hour or so and leave when I'm ready."
That's how it gets from one place to another.
There are places I want to go (literally and figuratively) and the only way to get there is to stick to the schedule and the plan. Sure, things may change and adjustments can be made, but once it's decided, the train will leave the station when it's suppose to.
Are there places you want to go? Let's get there together.
If you've been thinking of writing a few stories about your life, it can be hard to know where to start. You can spend days, weeks, or even months wondering which story to tell.
But of course that's just part of the problem.
What really matters is that you start.
The writing prompts in our new writing workbook, Take It From Here will help you get started and give you somewhere to go.
One sentence at a time.
It's also a refresher on some of the things that make good writing good. Things like trimming excess words, writing in a conversational tone, eliminating jargon, and being mindful of all those exclamation points(!).
If you've considered writing a memoir but are overwhelmed at the idea of writing a book, start today with Take It From Here.
My picture book memoir
It's taken years to get to this point. And that may be the best thing that could have happened. I fretted over it, stopped, started, and put it aside so many times.
It just wasn't right. Wasn't ready.
But that changed. I think in part because of the pandemic. We're walking more than ever. Seeing and noticing more than ever.
The book is a short-story memoir of walking the dog and the simple act of slowing down, of noticing what's over there, around the corner, and up the street.
A reminder that being in the moment, especially when we're outside, is the best place to be.
I'll let you know when the book is ready to launch. In the meantime, take a walk (whether you have a dog or not) ... and let me know what you notice.
It was too late when I realized I had no centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table.
We weren't having company, so at first I told myself it didn't matter.
But then I realized it did matter. A centerpiece would make the table look more festive ... less like every other day. More like the holiday it was.
I needed, wanted to find something.
Not an easy task in Maine, mid-November where the landscape shifts to varying shades of brown, tan, and taupe ... with a dash of pine. Not exactly the colors you'd list for a holiday bouquet.
But I wondered.
Maybe, just maybe, I could pull something together with what remained of my garden beds (a generous term for any and all growth surrounding the house). So I walked down the front steps and around to the left where I found evergreen leaves on the azalea bush.
A good start.
Moving to the back, the deep brown globes that sat at the center of the once-vibrant black-eyed Susan greeted me like festive pom-poms.
The delicate star-tipped sprigs of what remained of the Queen Anne's Lace offered themselves to me before I turned to the arborvitae for a touch of green.
Things were coming together.
Rounding the final corner back toward the front of the house, the burning bush flickered for attention. Its few remaining leaves flaming out in orange, red, and yellow. The final touch.
Extending my right arm to look at what I had gathered, I was so surprised with what I found.
And I suppose that's the lesson.
We may not always have what we want, but if we look, really look, chances are we'll find something. And that something maybe just be even better than we'd imagined.
As I experiment with combining collage and story, I occasionally (who's kidding, I OFTEN) find myself frustrated and ready to give up.
I’m so accustomed to editing my words and designs on the computer where I can hit the delete key or use a combination of keys to undo what I've done. When I work with my hands that's not possible and I am, at times, derailed by a layout or word that doesn’t match what I had in my mind’s eye.
Like running out of space at the bottom of this heron piece.
I wanted to add more but there was no room. Seeing that I wasted so much space at the top I was frustrated and wanted to fix it. But there's no key for that, not when you're working with paper, glue, and ink.
I'd gone too far to start over, so I had to work with what was there.
When that happens, I take a deep breath and know this will pass. When I see it again, long after the fretting is done, I know it will look different.
So I go with it …and all the imperfections. Accepting them as part of the process. And in doing that, I also see things that work.
I recognize that because I stayed with it, I’ve got something to show for my time and effort. A record of an event along with some collage and writing practice, too.
So yes, this heron was chill. The otters were swirling and rolling, diving and chattering and the heron didn’t seem to notice them. Or maybe it did but didn’t want to attract any attention.
So be like the heron.
Stay with your writing and your storytelling. Yes, it can be discouraging. But starting and keeping at it is where you'll make progress. Where you'll see glimmers of where you're going. Where it IS working.
You'll see things you didn't see when you were just thinking about writing. It's in the doing and the writing where you'll make progress. And mistakes. But keep going.
One story at a time.