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 memoir, or even just 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 discovery journal, 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.
Our local meteorologist makes visits to local schools ... often very early in the morning.
Last week he made an appearance at one school at 5:30 a.m.(!) and gathered a group of shy, sleepy, hands-in-pockets grammar school students and asked them, "What do you like most about Thanksgiving?"
The first few weren't sure what to say and simply shrugged their shoulders. The next student, one ... who had a minute or two to think, said "family," which was followed by, "all the food."
The next few mimicked the previous answers, but the last kid in line ... the one who had the most time to think, had the best answer, "I like wishing on the wishbone."
I love that he said that, I love how he said it ... and I love the sentiment behind it.
Whether you'll be wishing on a wishbone or giving thanks in some other way, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
And as Thanksgiving week gets underway, I want to say ...
I am thankful for you!
It means so much when you write comments, open my emails, and like my posts.
If you're interested in making note of what you're thankful for this Thanksgiving, click on the image above or right here, to download and print the "Today I Am Thankful for ..." sheet. There are two to a sheet so you can print extras for yourself ... and others.
What's your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?
A split decision.
It's National Split Pea Soup Week and all I have to say about pea soup is...try making it from frozen peas.
It's completely different.
For starters, it's a beautiful bright green. And the flavor shifts ... it's lighter somehow.
Two Peas In A Pod
Not in this household ... the frozen pea recipe is not a favorite for everyone. No, there's a split when it comes to this soup. So we rotate. One time we make it from split peas, next time it's from frozen.
With a side of grilled cheese, please.
Ham it up
How do you like your pea soup? Maybe there's no room for discussion because you use a favorite family recipe.
Or maybe, you don't you like it all?
If you do have a family recipe, maybe it's time to capture and share it ... and the story behind it.
The red buckets
tucked in cubbies,
like toys for toddlers,
reeled us in.
Pick a pail,
the sign read.
pick up litter.
So we did.
We netted bits of plastic
a sock, some rope,
a bottle, and a bait bag.
"Here's something," one said.
"There's something," the other said.
And the game was on.
One red bucket.
A mere drop in the ocean ...
or the rising tide
When you're interested in writing a bit about something but not interested in writing a long essay or book(!), try putting your story in the form of a poem.
Narrative poetry allows you to tell your story in verse. Though not always, it's a shorter version of storytelling, and one you might find more inviting, a little less intimidating, or challenging ... at least sometimes.
The Story Line blog is where we share short story memoirs, writing tips, and more.
Get new story starters every week! Get yours today!