Pings and Tangents

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Have you ever had those moments where something you hear hits you in the proverbial solar plexus? Sometimes it comes out of nowhere and other times, it’s like you are looking for it. Once you hear those words, I call them pings, you can’t forget how they made you feel. Then, you take off on tangents of thought that may or may not have anything to do with the initial words you heard or read.

Lately there have been many such pings and subsequent tangents, fugues on a theme.

“We don’t get to chose our time. Death is what gives live meaning, to know your days are numbered, your time is short” “Dr. Strange”- the movie

“Everybody dies. The only difference is what you do til then.” The Young Riders- “The Blood of Others”

“Like a wind crying endlessly through the universe, time carries away the names and deed of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we were, all that remains is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.” Twilight Zone- “Paladin of the Lost Hour” by Harlan Ellison.


As I pondered these coincidences, the synchronicity, my mind traveled back to my years working with juvenile delinquents. So many lives that moved through mine. Some died, sometimes violently. Others are spending their adult lives behind bars. But there are those who have made it, making a life for themselves that have nothing to do with the mistakes of their youth.

So what is our reason for being here? What do we offer? How can we make a difference in the lives of ourselves and others?

All three pings are about choices. The episode of “The Young Riders” is about a condemned man being taken for his hanging. Throughout the episode the man shows compassion and teaches his young escorts what life is about. At the end, they want to let him go, but he refuses. Each person can offer advice and show the reality of choices. episode clip click here

The story by Harlan Ellison from his book “Strange Words”, was adapted for television by Ellison and starred Danny Kay. To this day, the above words from the end of the show, have a profound effect on me. I never tire of seeing the episode or reading the short story. We never know when we will offer something to someone that they never realized they needed. Harlan Ellison reading and excerpt, click here You tube video-

So when you get those ‘pings’, follow them and see where they lead you. They may offer some answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.

A song to touch your heart Click Here


Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines,

Speaker, Author, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here

Photo and Poem: Click Here
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Every step you take should be a prayer.
And if every step you take is a prayer then you will always be walking in a sacred manner.
Oglala Lakota Holyman.

A Little Bit of Why

Post copyright by Doris McCraw

edit hhj spc

We all seem to have the Big Why in our lives. Why did I do this, or that. We tend to beat ourselves up over some mistake. Let’s take a look at the Little Why.

Why do I continue to comment on other people’s blog post even when they do return the courtesy?

I do so because I know people who write these post have something to say. It is a joy to see how they think, what’s important to them. By taking the time to comment, even if it is to say thank you, I acknowledge their efforts. Let’s face it, we all want to be heard.



Why do I continue to write post that no one seems to read or care about?

This goes back to the comments in the first Why. As I learn new things I want to share. The world is a big place, we can’t all do everything, so if something I think about or research will make a difference, I’m going to share. It goes back to my days working with juveniles. A wise lady once told me, “just keep talking, you never know when something you said might make all the difference.”

Why do I continue my photo and haiku practice?

This one is easy. It has become a habit, and I plain enjoy the challenge.



Why write romance?

I want to tell stories, and if there is a bit of romance in them, I’m okay with that. One of my cover models said she loved my novella, but it didn’t follow the formula. That is what I aim for, a good story that doesn’t have to rely on formula to succeed.


Why is telling the story of early women doctors so important?

Why shouldn’t it be? Dr. Susan Anderson had Virginia Cornell to tell her story. While I do not aspire to the universal love that the Cornell book has, I do not want these women to be lost to time. They did as much if not more than the more ‘famous’ ones did. They may not be famous, but they are worth remembering.

                                          from Elizabeth Blackwell, MD

Why am I doing history symposiums and speaking in public?

See the above answer. There is so much rich history to be shared. If I can add just one small part to the overall knowledge or get someone excited about a piece of history I am happy. Life is too short to be too afraid. No one really told me I couldn’t and if they did, I chose not to listen.

So there you have it, a little bit of Why.

For those who are interested you can stream the symposium on June 11. Here is the link:  The program starts at 9am Mountain Time. The topic this year is Myths and Mysteries of the Rocky Mountain West.

For further reading on some of the posts that prompted the why, here you go:

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. In addition to Historical Romance, Doris also writes haiku, posted five days a week at:  She has posted over one thousand haiku.“One Christmas Knight” Medieval Anthology

“Angel of Salvation Valley”



Author Page:





3,2,1 CONTACT!

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

This week I did something I thought I’d never do again. I had an eye exam and was fitted for contact lenses. I’ve tried them in the past with good luck, but just never followed through. I cannot seem to keep my glasses where I can find them. I spend a lot of my time each day searching the house for the last place I laid them down. I even have two pair with the same prescription, so either will work, but neither will come out of hiding.

I have a unique problem with my vision, which causes all this fuss. When wearing glasses, I have problems with my peripheral vision. The glasses frames are always in the way of my seeing things. I’ve tried every kind of frame, including the no-frame frame and my vision is much the same.IMG_4119-2

The last time I got new glasses (if you remember), I also got a concussion. Of course, that was in Mexico, where I walked everywhere, and I stumbled over a piece of sidewalk that had jutted up. That was four years ago. I haven’t had my eyes checked since. I know, I know. Bad girl. It wasn’t until lately that my vision worsened. I’d be working on the computer writing and my eyes would blur and ache. I had to take a lot of breaks. Hubby finally talked me into going for an exam and it turns out that the prescription I have worn since I was sixteen (that rarely changed) had changed quite a bitl19WPw3v

I had to make a decision. Did I want to try contact lenses again? Or did I want to try another frame with no frame? I used a new ophthalmologist who has a practice about nineteen miles from us. I was very impressed with the thorough exam he gave me. Afterward, he took a lot of time to chat with me about the options I had available. I’m not really sure why I scrapped the contact lens idea fifteen years or so ago, but I decided to try again. I am a perfect candidate for monovision. The doctor thought it the best way for me to go, especially since I’m on the computer so much and have the problem with peripheral vision. He fit me with a lens that very day. I go back this week to be sure the contacts are doing their job. He’ll check the fit and the vision. At that time he’ll tweak anything that needs to be changed.

This is day four with the contacts. So far, so good. Well, almost. This morning when I was putting in the first lens I lost it. I stood perfectly still, not wanting to step on it or ever be able to find it again. I looked all around the bathroom. No contact lens. I looked at my clothes; even shook them a little. No luck. Carefully, I knelt to the floor, where I gently swiped my hand in a back and forth motion, hoping to find it. Still no luck. I repeated this motion a couple of times more, then stood back up.file000256677703

“Great,” I thought. “Four days and I’ve already lost a lens. Guess I’ll have to go back to glasses. At least they’re bigger and a “little” easier to find.

Suddenly I looked up and there it was! Clinging for dear life to the bathroom mirror was my contact lens.

“Eureka!” I thought, as I gently pried it off and put it in the cleaning solution. After cleanng, it was easy to insert and my big adventure was over.

Even though I had this little mishap, it hasn’t curbed my enthusiasm for wearing contacts again. For four days I have seen clearly and my eyes have not ached.   I don’t get freaked out when I catch the frame of my glasses in my peripherial vision. I think It’ll take a little time to get used to, but once I do, I think it’ll be worth it.

Here are a few interesting facts about contacts I gleaned from the Wikipedia site:

  • A contact lens, or simply contact, is a thin lens placed directly on the surface of the eye.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci is often credited with introducing the idea of the contact lens in 1508.
  • In 1949 the first corneal lenses were developed. They sat on the cornea, as opposed to across the eye, and were able to be worn up to sixteen hours per day. These were the only lenses to have mass appeal through the 1960’s.
  • Contact lenses had to be redesigned to allow air to access the eye. In the 1960’s, gas permeable lenses were designed. They were referred to as “hard lenses.”
  • Monovision is the use of single vision lenses (one focal point per lens) to focus one eye for distance vision (typically, the person’s dominant eye) and the other eye for near work. The brain then learns to use this setup to see clearly at all distances. A technique called modified monovision uses multifocal lenses and also specializes one eye for distance and one eye for near, thus gaining the benefits of both systems. Alternatively, a person may simply wear reading glasses over their distance contact lenses. Care is advised for persons with a previous history of strabismus and those with significant phorias, who are at risk of eye misalignment under monovision.

Do you wear either glasses or contact lenses?  I’d love to hear your experiences.  Maybe you even have some advice for me?Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer




Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders


Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer




Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)



13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing


13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook




You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews






















Fork in The Road

propic11_1By L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

I received the letter “F” for the A-Z Blog challenge.  Since my maiden name is Flory I thought about writing about that, but the Forked Road seemed better-suited to this blog.  I hope you enjoy it.

We have all been down the forked road, but why do some take the left fork and others take the right? Is it that left-handed people take the left and right-handed people take the right? I don’t think so.

I read an article once before I took my children to Disney World. The author of the piece said “Most people tend to take the right entrance to an attraction, while fewer take the left”.  In other words, if you want to get in to the attraction, bathroom, or gate, take the left line because you’ll get there faster. We tried it and the advice was right. We did find the time it took to get in on the left was speedier than the right.

We’ve all seen and traveled down many forked roads or trails throughout our lives.  Some curve Forked Roadaround an ancient tree while others are man-made. They may lead to the same place, or not.

Pretend you need a solution to a problem or have a big decision to make. You sit at the tip of the forked road trying to decide which way to go. Confused and anxious, the decision is waiting to be made. It may be a new move, a new relationship, or anything that will make a big impact on your life.  As you sit contemplating, you cannot decide, thinking about all the “What ifs?”

Deepak Chopra, an internationally known  New-Age guru says, “Get rid of the what-ifs.  It’s not an A or B situation. Don’t control or predict what will happen.”  His suggestion is to sit alone in a quiet place and be still. The answer will come; in fact, your heart always knows the right answer. It’s up to you to tune into your thoughts to know the right way to advance.

Decision-making is generally difficult for me and perhaps some of you who read this post have the same problem.  I know the issue, I really want to decide one way or the other, but the thoughts go around and around in my head until sometimes they make me physically ill and unable to reach a verdict at all.

I am definitely not a critical thinker and I’ve made snap decisions that ended up without the answers I sought. Sometimes the decision I made was not a good one, so when the next one comes along I worry that I will make the same mistake again.

A Therapist I know shared with me some insight about the forked road. She told me “A decision is just a decision and if it’s not right you can make another decision.”

That advice helped me to see more clearly that even if I make a wrong decision, I have learned from that one and can make a new choice next time. It also made me think about my fear of making good decisions and why it can actually be a learning experience that will help me each time I have an issue.

Here is a passage from the Bible that speaks of a “fork in the road”.

Ezekiel 21:19  Mark out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to come; both of them shall issue from the same land. And make a signpost; make it for a fork in the road leading to a city;roadsign

What do you do when you’re picking an editor for your manuscript? Do you research several editors?  If you get the list down to two do you waffle back and forth between the two choices or do you confidently choose the one you believe will have your best interests at heart?

Do you write your latest novel and at some point come to a place where the protagonist must go one way or another? Which fork in the road do you choose for her/him to follow?

Another bit of advice from Deepak Chopra says; “Find a place of total quiet. Make sure there are nomeditation distractions. Clear your mind and sit silently for maybe fifteen minutes. During that time don’t let thoughts race through your mind, instead, focus on the quiet. You may need to do this more than once, but it will put you in the right spiritual place to make the choice, and the answer will be there. Prayer is a very important part of the journey.”

When you stand at the fork in the road, remember this advice and you’ll make the right choice. But if you don’t, remember, you can always make another one!

Here are a couple of quotes on decision-making.

“Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.”

Gordon Graham

“Don’t even leap to actions and decisions before you’ve found that sense of natural calm, well-being, or enthusiasm.”

Frederick Dodson, Parallel Universe of Self

Courtesy of

I’d like to share one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost. I’ve always loved it but it means something different to me now that I’m an adult. See if the same applies to you.

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost

 Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 Poem courtesy of

 Here is a link to an article on decision-making.

The meaning of Fork in The Road.

Bios of Deepak Chopra and Robert Frost

There’s even a joke about the Forked Road (a 2000 year old classic)


Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders


Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)


You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews





Season of Change

By Stephanie Stamm

Steph_2 copy (2)“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;… A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,6)

Most of my recent posts have been about clearing, letting go, or change—because all those things are at the center of my life now. For me, this winter, and now spring, have been seasons of change. I’m in the process of moving from Michigan to Georgia, so I divide my time between the two states. This week I am in Georgia, where spring is definitely in the air—and the trees and the flowers.


I spent most of this past Saturday exploring. My temporary apartment is at Perimeter Center just outside the Perimeter (i.e., the I-285 ring road). I had looked at potential new homes in the Buckhead and Midtown areas. I had really hoped to find a home in Midtown—near the art museum, the theater, Piedmont Park. But I had found a place I really like at the south end of Buckhead. I wanted to check out how easy it would be to get to Midtown using public transportation.


When I got up Saturday, I knew very little about the MARTA system. My realtor had told me which rail stops were closest to the Buckhead place and to Midtown, but that was really all I knew. Luckily, we live in the age of smart phones. I did a search for the MARTA stop using the Google Maps app on my phone and set out on my adventure. I decided to buy a MARTA day pass so I could hop on and off as often as I wanted.

I took the train to the stop closest to the Buckhead space I liked, walked around the neighborhood, checking out the scenery and shopping options within walking distance. In my explorations, I discovered that the bus line ran right along the main road from there to Midtown. So I caught the bus, and 15 minutes or so later, I arrived in Midtown near the Arts Center. After a stop for a beverage and a few phone calls, I wandered over to Piedmont Park, where I strolled around, enjoying the warm spring weather, and bought lunch from a vendor at the Green Market.

Peidmont Park_Midtown

Midtown Skyline from Piedmont Park

Pond in Piedmont Park

Green Market

By mid-afternoon, I’d trained back to Perimeter Center, feeling rather proud of myself. I’d taken my first independent steps toward learning about my new city and establishing a new home. I’m still clearing out my old home, but now I’m beginning to gather something new as well. I feel like I’m blooming along with the trees and flowers.

What does Spring bring to your life?


Connect with me:

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I am the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy series, The Light-Bringer:




I have also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes:

Undead of Winter Front Only Into the Storm Cover

Those are NOT my monkeys!

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Those are NOT my monkeys!3monkeys

Ever get into one of these predicaments? How do you handle it?

The school calls. The person calling apologizes, but the parent who was supposed to make 100 cupcakes for tomorrow is ill. Could you please take her place? What do you do?

  • Nicely ask your monkeys to get in their cage and give them a toy to play with?
  • Say no, sorry, I’m too busy but maybe next time, then spendcms_cupcake_1 the evening feeling guilty, even though you have a report that needs to go to your boss in the morning?
  • Say yes, feel totally overwhelmed, rush to get the report done while you bake and frost 100 cupcakes that you now have to drop off on your way to work and you haven’t even had time to sleep?

A friend calls with exciting news, although it isn’t about you and it isn’t about her. It’s a juicy tidbit about someone in your circle of friends. Do you:horses_1

  •  Shove your monkeys in their cage, say dinner is burning and cage_1you have to go?
  • Listen to your friend and file the information away in case
    there might be more to the story?
  • Add your take on what’s going on and gossip with your friend.
    You can’t wait to call another friend to tell her/him?
  • Tell your friend you really don’t want to talk about this and change the subject to something neutral, like making a fantastic dessert, or the awesome shoes you saw on sale in your favorite department store?

hotdogYou’re on the baseball food stand roster for your 5th grader. The game is in two days and the roster coördinator calls frantically, asking if you can pitch in and take over for her in Saturday’s game? Oh, and by the way, the candy bars, soda and sandwiches are low.
Could you please go to Sam’s Club and get them? You can bill them to the baseball fund. Please be sure they are there and put away in time for the game. Do you:

  • Immediately become frustrated that the chairman chooses to call you this late in the game, but put on your syrupy voice, and as you scowl, tell her “Of course, “I’d love to do it”, while you silently punch your thighs?
  • Suggest another person on the panel who might have a little more time?
  • Tell her your monkeys are ill and you really need to stay home with them because they might have monkey fever?
  • Explain that you and your beloved have a getaway planned for the weekend, but if she really cannot find another person, you’ll pitch in, then break the bad news to your spouse and feel extremely guilty?

Your boss comes into your office at quitting time. He wants a teamboss of managers to stay late and confer about some problems with staff and make some changes. You’re supposed to meet your friends at a restaurant across town in an hour. You have just enough time to swing by the house and change. You’re on salary. Do you:

  • Tell your boss to get a life?
  • Tell your boss YOU have a life?
  • Tell the boss you have to get home to take your monkeys outside because you don’t want them to pee all over the carpet and destroy the house. After all, you’ve already worked 9 hours without a break.
  • Say “what room are we meeting in?” make a hurried call to your friends saying you won’t be able to meet them, feel guilty about that and hope your monkeys behave?

Let’s look at the ramifications of each.

In situation one, you know you can’t possibly get 100 cupcakes done and at the school tomorrow unless you stay up all night and drop them off on your way to work and leave for work right after you drop them off. What would happen if you said NO, not this time, but you can count on me for another occasion, as long as I have enough time to make those little critters?

2monkeysSituation two is an ethical question. Should you be gossiping about your friend or even think of passing it around? Wouldn’t it be more fun to take the monkeys out for a walk (RIGHT NOW)?

And the third predicament.  Why don’t you say NO, I can’t do that on such short notice but you can count on me for another time.  I have a work project that needs to go to my boss in the morning.  As long as I get fair warning there’s no problem.

And situation four involves your boss.

Your boss just gave you a raise so you feel obligated. Do you worry that if you say no he’ll fire you on the spot? (You’ve just received a superior evaluation and got a nice bonus along with it).

I have a very dear friend I met in Mazatlan and she phoned me the other day. Imagine my delight when I heard her voice. We chatted about the hot weather and sunshine there and the snow here. She’s from Canada so knows all about cold weather. As we talked and caught up she mentioned that she had taken a part-time job she’ll be able to do on the Internet as she and her husband travel. She is excited about it and I’m happy for her. She’s been writing a book and I asked how that was coming along. She told me she shelved the project about six months ago because it was just not coming together and she had spent a lot of time worrying about it. I remarked that in therapy I have talked about the fact that I always feel guilty saying NO, so I put my personal life on hold and give the other person what they need or want. Then I feel overwhelmed and anxious because I’m not able the work done I need to do. My friend hesitated for just a second. Then she said something that has had me laughing (and thinking) a lot this week.

Her remark? Wait for it…………..

“Not my Monkeys, Not my Circus”




“Hmm,” I thought. Not my monkeys? Not my circus? Of course I think I’m a bit of a circus expert because my books are about a circus performer. I already have a circus. Do I really need another one? And, why in the world would I want monkeys at home anyway?

Take a deep breath. Isn’t it easier to say no than give your life up for someone else’s problem? What’s the worst that can happen? Even if it were a close friend, wouldn’t you rather be truthful? If you say no, won’t you breathe a sigh of relief and get those monkeys off your back? I’m not talking here about things you want to do because you have time set aside, rather expectations that come at you out of nowhere that you don’t have time for or want to do.sock monkeys
Of course, you don’t have to say “Not my monkeys, not my circus”, as you firmly and politely say no, but you sure can laugh inside as bigbanana_1the monkeys are jumping for joy. Think about this the next time you are called upon to do something you really don’t want to do. Just say no. You don’t have to make excuses. It’s your life and it’s in your hands. You have to stand up for yourself. No one else is going to. Oh, and give the monkeys a banana. It’s not their fault!

For a good article on saying NO, read this report at Mayo Clinic.


Books by L.Lwander







Links for L.Leander

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders (Book 1)

Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)


13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook


You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews






How Do You Deal With Stress?

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

A couple of weeks ago I read an article on Yahoo! News that gave me pause for thought.  Dan Harris, an ABC News Anchor, shared a part of his life seen by millions around the world.  During a live broadcast, Harris had a debilitating panic attack.  Unable to finish his spot, he turned it  back to Diane Sawyer.  Harris couldn’t breathe and was as surprised as anyone when this occurrence happened.  He took a good look at his life to research reasons for the attack and discovered he had three very problematic areas.  One was his frenzied attempt to rise to the top,  another was reporting from Iraq, and the third taking occasional recreational drugs on the weekend.  He was very stressed.  When he saw a psychiatrist the doctor told him the attack was most likely provoked by the drugs.


 Mr. Harris sought to find healing.  He tried everything and nothing worked.  Meditation was suggested and, desperate, he decided to give it a try.

Mr. Harris’ idea of meditation was sitar music and chanting, but he knew he had antiquated ideas about the subject, a throwback to the era of the 60’s and 70’s.  He thought the idea might be a little crazy, however, he went to a class.  As he learned to breathe he found  peace.   Harris says the trick is to learn the breathing process to keep stress at a lower level.

Once he learned to meditate, Harris made it a daily habit, spending Meditatingbetween 1-2 hours a day.  He slowed down his life, looked around at things he had never noticed before; as his brain slowed down, and his work improved, he slept better, and quit worrying.  As Mr. Harris found answers in meditation he wrote a book entitled 10% Happier.  You can watch a video of Dan Harris’ breakdown here as he explains his experience and how he turned to meditation.

Though his earlier thoughts about meditation took a while to change, Harris overcame those preconceptions and learned to reap the benefits of meditation and relaxation.

I had much the same feeling when asked to try meditation as part of my therapy for Bipolar Disorder.  Although I had many of the same thoughts Mr. Harris did, I do know the quietness of prayer, so thought I could try it and decide then.

A free  21-day meditation from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey was offered on the Chopra website.  I signed up, and from the first day I experienced relaxation, but it took  a few  months to learn to get quiet and kick the “mind monkeys” out of my head.  Mind monkeys are all the thoughts that creep inside while you try to stay focused and relaxed.  You’ll always have thoughts that come and go, but with practice you can ignore them.seafoam

 That meditation ended and there was a break before the Mentors Channel started with a 21-day Meditation, each session taught by different experts on the subject. When that program ended, I haunted YouTube for “guided meditation”.  Between the 21-Day classes I use YouTube and find many wonderful guided meditations.  My favorites on YouTube are those by ‘The Honest Guys.” You can search and find many uplifting and relaxing meditations from them, as well as those presented by other teachers. I prefer to have my eyes closed during meditation, although the experts say it doesn’t matter.  Meditation is your time and you should do it whenever and however you’re most comfortable. 

 I look for 10-30 minute meditations in the morning.  I get up early, make coffee, walk the dog, and meditate.  When I’m through I feel calm and ready to start my day.  I did this for several months when I had a couple of anxiety attacks and my therapist recommended I try doing an additional meditation at night.  Another 21-day Mentors Channel class started.  Instead of listening to a guided meditation, a duo sang meditations.  The name of the artists are are Deva Premal and Miten.  Deva has one of the loveliest voices I’ve ever heard.  She and Miten record together, but there are many earlier albums by Deva alone.  I now do one of these recordings before bedtime to relax.  Some of these are available on YouTube, (search for Deva Primal or Deva and Miten) but I’ve been buying songs one at a time on the iTunes store.  Here is a sample recording.

Doing two meditations a day worked well until I had a mood swing that drained me.  My therapist suggested I meditate four times a day until I felt better.  I did this by not changing my morning and evening meditations, but by adding a prayer here and there, listening to a 5-minute meditation, or sitting quietly for 5 minutes.  I’m still doing this because I have been in a severe depression for a couple of weeks.  I know it will change though.  The meditation helps as I breathe deeply and relax.

I’ve learned is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate.  I prefer guided meditations, as they seem to help me relax more, but there are scores of recordings that are just music.  Some tell you to watch the images on the screen but my mind wanders too much when I do that.  I prefer to close my eyes, listen, and feel the peace and relaxation through my body.  You’ll find what works best for you.sunset

Have you ever tried meditation?  Would you?  What are your thoughts on the subject?

Below are some links you might find helpful if you decide to try it.  I know you’ll reap benefits.

Explanation of Meditation on Wikipedia

The following video on YouTube is short and explains the benefits of meditation.

How to Meditate

My favorite meditations come from The Honest Guys on YouTube. Here are two examples.

 Blissful Deep Relaxation

 Guided Meditation for Health and Healing


Books by L.Leander:

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders



Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer





Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)




Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer




13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing








13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook







You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews





What’s Next?

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

The blue-gray and black Great Dane stretched his large head and giant body from the back seat of my car, as he looked through the rear window of my Subaru Outback. I had just driven away from the home he’d known for the past week, being fostered for an Denver-based organization called Big Dogs Huge Paws. “Blue,” as he was called, was headed for a new home in Montana and I was his ride from a Denver suburb to Casper, where he stayed a few days while awaiting transport to Billings, Montana. Helping dogs go into rescue or go to their new homes is something I thoroughly enjoy, and since I like to travel, transporting dogs for rescue groups fits me to a tee. Yet, like Blue the Great Dane, most rescue animals are nervous about what is happening to them; I am sure they wonder, “What’s happening? What’s next?”

What took me to Denver to begin with earlier this month is also a “what’s next?” story. A dear friend, someone I’ve known more than 30 years, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer just before Thanksgiving. His surgery took place in a Denver hospital the end of December, and he and his wife were staying at an Aurora hotel after he was released from the hospital following a second surgery. I spent time with them during a weekend in mid-January, learning more about the disease and various scenarios of prognosis. My friends planned to stay at the hotel for a few weeks, meeting with the surgeon and other doctors to learn “what’s next?” It’s a scary, uncertain time for them, and it’s been a scary, uncertain time for Blue … and other rescue dogs I’ve known.

baseball_pitcherLife throws curve balls. Whether at an animal that’s lost it’s home for some reason; a bad health report like my friend; a dip in finances due to lack of work as my husband and I experienced last spring; or some other experience we go through – these curve balls trip one off balance, much as a pitcher tries to do to a batter in baseball. We can’t always control what happens to us in life, and when those curve balls are hurled at us, we wonder “what’s next?”

As writers we often come to a point where we don’t know what’s going to happen next to our characters. We can take scenarios from life and throw those at the characters, being the “pitcher” in the story we’re creating. In the pet rescue children’s story I’ve been working on for the past few years (shelved due to the “curve balls” of other writing endeavors such as the magazine article wave that hit me in 2014) Jasmine, my primary dog character, doesn’t know “what’s next” when the owner she’s known for years abandons her; when she is taken into rescue; when she is transported from place to place on her way to her new forever home – just as many of the rescue animals I work with don’t know “what’s next?” As I’ve written the children’s story, at times I wasn’t sure where the story/the character was going next, even though the story is based on a true rescue account. I didn’t know exactly what happened to the real Jasmine after she was abandoned and before she went into rescue, so I created scenes which would be as near to fact as possible (such as after her puppies are born, she has to protect them from predatory coyotes). For characters in our stories, when we as authors are “stuck,” we can draft out potential scenarios, “what ifs,” and see how those possible pathways might play out for our characters, an “if this then that” plot outline.

Jazmine Transport

Doing a “character study” is also valuable. Asking questions of your character(s) helps you get to know them. Here’s a link to a Writer’s Digest article about questions to ask of your characters: Delving more deeply into our character(s) can help sort out the question “What’s next?” for them and for the entire story.

Although we dream and plan for the future in real life, we really don’t know what tomorrow holds. However, as writers we can plot out the tomorrows for our story and its characters, sometimes with a few curve balls thrown in for good measure (just as happens in real life) to generate a page-turning story. So, what are your hopes for “what’s next” in your writing life? In your current story in progress? May the curve balls that come your way help you to hit a home run, in real life and in your stories!


Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion boos: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?, released August 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, Creation Illustrated, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal, River Press, and Douglas Budget newspapers. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at

SageBigAdventureFront-small   SageLearnsShareFront-small  Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover  Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final  Walking_FrontCover_small  Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014

New Year Brings New Goals and an Uncertain But Hopeful Future

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin


Looking back on my goals for 2014 recently I realized I didn’t attain as much as I’d hoped. Yet, despite what I thought and planned to attain, new opportunities and possibilities did emerge, and I walked those pathways. Another new year is upon us, and though we never know the future, we can continue striving toward goals, old and new, revived and updated.

For example, last year I had hopes of securing new children’s magazines for which to write. I received several rejections on various articles and by the time I thought I’d re-write, re-submit, and re-think topics and queries, I received three new assignments in addition to the four already given to me by WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric News). I also continued my article writing for the Casper Journal newspaper, and, starting in July, my pet column ran EVERY WEEK in another newspaper (I’m used to writing one a month for two other publications). Plus, I gleaned two additional feature articles for Crossroads magazine, published by the Cheyenne (Wyoming) Chamber of Commerce (I wrote two articles for them in 2013). So, whereas I envisioned writing for children’s magazines, I received instead various other opportunities with an array of publications.


Now that 2015 has risen like a new day’s sun, I anticipate new opportunities and new pathways once again. I’m cutting back on submitting to the Casper Journal; WREN has assigned me only three articles for the entire year (though that may change); my weekly pet column is dormant for at least a few months while the newspaper undergoes layout and management changes; and I won’t know about Crossroads until mid-year. But, what I looked upon at first as negative I’ve now re-focused to the positive. I’ve been contacted and contracted by a state senator to write new releases and ghostwrite a few guest editorials for him. I’ve also been asked to contribute at least two stories on veterans for a special Wyoming Veteran’s project. So, not all my freelance opportunities have disappeared; new ones have emerged.

Baby New YearEven though there aren’t as many freelance gigs this new year as last, there is advantage to this more “quiet time”: ability to re-focus on my books as well as help my husband with some writing projects for his business. I now have five manuscripts in progress (including that pet rescue romance started a few months ago), and I am determined to finish them. Two manuscripts that I started more than three years ago simply need to be reviewed and edited as I completed the drafts in 2013 and just left them on the shelf because I wasn’t sure which publishing direction I wanted to go and 2014 became very busy. I am two-thirds of the way done with two others (both children’s books), and the pet romance is still in its infancy since I didn’t write as much during November’s NaNoWriMo as I had hoped. So, I have new writing goals for 2015, and I am excited to see where these stories, projects, and new pathways (including developing an emailed newsletter for my husband’s Alzheimer’s video business) take me.

How about you? What do you hope the new year has in store for you, personally and professionally? What are some of the goals and hopes you have for 2015 and into the future?


Happy New Year

Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion boos: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the August 2014 dog book The Dog Did What?. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, Creation Illustrated, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal, River Press, and Douglas Budget newspapers. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at


Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Walking_FrontCover_small   SageBigAdventureFront-small   SageLearnsShareFront-small

Fear of Falling, Part 2

propic11_1_1This post written by L.Leander, Writer of Fearless Fiction

You may wish to read Fear of Falling Part 1 before you read this because it is a continuation of that post.

We had planned a trip with friends to a town south of Guadalajara, MX and had already paid for bus tickets, etc. There was no way I wasn’t going, even after the concussion and my Doctor’s orders to take it easy. This was three weeks later. The bruising was faded and I’d have Ralph to help so I wasn’t too worried. Everything went well until the first night and I had some sort of seizure. My whole body stiffened and I shook uncontrollably. This happened a couple of times during the night but with God’s help and Ralph holding me close, I got through it. We had a nurse in our party and I checked

spasguywith her the next morning. She told me to take it easy that day, do a little shopping and come back to the hotel to rest. That’s what I did. The rest of the trip was fine and we had a great time seeing the sights of Guadalajara and did lots of shopping.

When we got back to Mazatlan I was alternately depressed and very anxious. Again, I went to my doctor and he prescribed a short dose of Xanax to sleep and a blood pressure medication because mine was very high and I’m prone to low. We were getting ready to go home to the US and moved to an apartment our friends owned right on the beach. The anxiousness and depression was getting worse and I finally went to the ER. I had wonderful doctors who spoke English and they admitted me overnight for tests. After a Cat Scan and an exam by Mazatlan’s top neurologist, I was found to be fine and went home. A couple of days later we left for the US, going through Mexico City, which wasn’t our normal route.

National Institute of Mental Health:

The airport in Mexico City is one I’ll never forget. I cried for six hours straight while we waited for our next flight. I’d lost my Mexican Citizenship card and even though we looked through everything we couldn’t find it. Ralph had to watch my guitar and fiddle and the other carry-ons, while an attendant put me in a wheelchair and took me to the Office of Residency. I was told I couldn’t leave the country without the card cryingbeing stamped, so I cried some more. Finally, a kind gentleman behind the desk came over to tell me there was only one way I could leave. I’d have to give up my residency. He called for another wheelchair and I believe I was escorted through most of the airport until we came to the Aduana’s office. I explained my problem, they gave me a paper to sign, and then I had to go next door to get another signature. I brought it back, and then was told to go to the bank and pay $3000 pesos (about $30 US). Finally, I was reunited with Ralph just as our flight was ready to leave. I was exhausted and no longer a resident of Mexico, but on a tourist visa.

We got home safely, had some car issues but AAA took care of us. A couple of days later the shaking started again and I was angry and sad all at the same time. I began yelling at Ralph (who is so calm and collected he never said one mean word while I railed and ranted) and we headed to the hospital again, just in case there was something the hospital in Mexico hadn’t caught. The ER doc told me I was tired  from the trip and worried about the concussion when I shouldn’t be. He sent me home. I made an appointment madwith my doctor but she wasn’t available, so I saw a Nurse Practitioner. He was very thorough and said I had high blood pressure, which could be controlled. He gave me a very low dose of meds and a low dose of Xanax to help me seep. At this point I wasn’t getting any sleep at night.

Bipolar Symptoms and Treatment:  

I finally saw my regular doc and she prescribed Zoloft to help with the depression. I continued to live in misery. One day after I had been particularly angry, something inside me knew there was a problem that the docs couldn’t find. Maybe I’d benefit from talking about it. I called and set up an appointment with a therapist as a last resort. With trepidation I walked into that first meeting not knowing if I’d done the pillsright thing. It turned out I had. I saw the person I credit for saving me from more of the terror I had been living through. The first time I went I couldn’t stop talking and crying. I told her how angry I was and all of the other symptoms. The next week when I came for my second appointment she put on some soft music, held my hands and looked into my eyes. “I’m quite sure you have Bipolar Disorder,” she said. I need to have you meet with a Psychiatrist to be sure. Then we’ll develop a plan that’s right for you.

All these thoughts ran through my mind. “I’m not crazy, what is she talking about? I’m 64 years old. You don’t just develop Bipolar Disease this late in life, do you?” The therapist told me I wasn’t crazy but had a treatable disease and once she had the information from the Psychiatrist we would continue our treatment. I made the appointment that day.

The day of the psychiatrist appointment came and I was nervous, but it turned out I didn’t need to be. I saw a woman psychiatrist in my health network and she is just as calm and kind as my therapist. She listened to me and read the therapist’s notes, agreeing with her that I had Bipolar Disorder. I felt like I’d been hit by a ton of bricks. I begged not to be put on Lithium because I’d heard horror stories about it (a lot I knew!). She started me on an anti-seizure medication that works for Bipolar as well, and a low dose of Xanax to sleep. I was already taking the Zoloft my primary doctor had prescribed.

I was so sad. I didn’t want anyone to know I had a Mental Disorder because I thought they’d think I was crazy, less of a person. I felt worthless,like I was barely hanging on.  I couldn’t write, play my music or sew, activities that I’d always hangingonenjoyed. Instead I read a book a day and worked on 1,000-Piece Jigsaw Puzzles, things that gave me peace. I did reach out to two people I knew wouldn’t judge me and would pray that I could accept my diagnosis and follow the regimen I was prescribed. One is a close friend from Mexico and the other was Cherley. Both have held my hand when I thought I couldn’t make it, prayed for me, and assured me that everything would settle down and I’d be all right. I clung to their words and I know how the power of prayer works, so I relaxed a little. Cherley kept in close touch with me, making sure everything was ok and offering her help in any way she could. (I offered to leave WW&W but she told me I had things to write about that people wanted to hear). I cut down to one post a month, temporarily, until I feel less pressure. My other friend, Shilo, and her husband came out of their way for a visit on their way home from Mexico to Canada. It was so special to know I had friends I could count on. Of course, I told my family first. Their reaction? “So what? It’s a treatable disease and you’re our sister, you know how much we love you.” My daughter already knew and was also a source of support but she was going through medical issues of her own at the time.

happy-sun_1After I got over the shock I realized I was happy. There was a name for what was wrong with me. But I wouldn’t tell anyone. I’d just keep quiet about it for now. I began taking the drugs my Psychiatrist prescribed and slowly the panic attacks and depression began to level out. I continued weekly therapy with  my therapist and a visit every six weeks to the psychiatrist for med checks and to see how I was doing. Through my therapy I realized I had been Bipolar since around the age of 17. I could pinpoint exactly when the panic attacks started, as well as the depression. How I ever got through it all until I was 64 shows my strength, or so my therapist told me. I suffered a lot of abuse and through it all I remained strong, being the main breadwinner for my family and a good mother to my children. Through it all I suffered extreme panic attacks and debilitating depressions and I had a deep feeling of unworthiness. I accepted it as part of my life, so never sought help.

Patients like Me:

So what do I do now? I have been seeing the same therapist and psychiatrist since this whole fiasco started, in April of 2013. The meds prescribed have had to be adjusted a bit but they have settled both the highs and lows and I sleep well. Most of my life I was a 4-hour a night sleeper. It feels good to get 6 or 7.sleepingpig My therapist and I developed a plan for me that includes meditation morning and night, and walking every day. She stressed upon me that people with this disorder need to feel safe and that a repeating certain things every day helped with that. I had never meditated before but love it now.  I go to bed at the same time every night and have the same sequence of events to get ready for sleep.  I meditate, take my meds, do a crossword puzzle and read.  All have helped.

The anger rarely shows its evil head any more, I’ve calmed down a lot, and even though depression tries to find a way in I have a plan to head it off before it gets too much to handle. I have a contract with my therapist regarding suicide (which I have never contemplated) and a list of what to do if I’m feeling out of control. She even gave me her personal phone number in case I had to call.  My therapy sessions are down to every two weeks now and my psychiatrist sessions down to every two months.

I took a pro-active stance when I found out my diagnosis. I read just about all I could find on Bipolar Disorder, its symptoms, what sends it out of control and the many great achievers who have had or do have the disease. I’m in good company, I think.

I have a great network of people who care for me. My husband deserves the most credit. He went with me to a few therapy sessions, where he learned to recognize signs of a breakdown in my routine. When I get loud or hyperactive he just puts his hand out and lowers it (meaning, you’re getting out of control). When I’m depressed he lets me cry on his shoulder and tells me everything will be fine and that he loves me very much.ralph

In the last year and a half I’ve learned a lot about myself. I am so much calmer than I have ever been. I can leave the bed unmade or the dishes undone and sit on the deck bird-watching with Ralph. I don’t make spur of the moment, rash decisions. I think about the pros and cons before I decide what the answer is. I’m not angry any more, instead, I’ve embraced the fact that I have Bipolar Disease. It doesn’t define me; it’s a disease I have that is treatable, as long as I follow doctor’s orders. I will never quit taking my meds because I never want to go through another episode like the one I had in Mexico. I am thankful for the concussion, because without it I would never have sought help. I was sure there was something wrong because of the concussion and that’s why I was so agitated and depressed.

loveisThroughout my entire life God has had to knock me on the head to get my attention. This time He did that literally and I couldn’t be happier. Life is sweet because I am learning to accept that people love me. I have learned that the abuse I suffered was wrong and that I am a good and talented person, not a nobody who can barely cook a meal or keep a man happy. That’s all a part of my past, not my future. With my therapist’s help we have addressed the issues that have haunted me for years and I feel a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I feel good!

My Psychiatrist has gone to great lengths to balance my medications so they work for me. She took me up slowly and the meds I’m on now seem to be working. They include an anti-seizure medication, an anti-depressant, and something for sleep. That, along with my therapy sessions has helped me stabilize. My hope is that others will read this and go for help earlier than I did. I have known something was wrong for a long time but I hid it and tried to ignore it. It never went away but I knew it was there, bipwaiting to pounce. What a relief to know that if that happens now I know what to do to get control before either the mania or the depression takes over. I no longer have the Fear of Falling into a deep void from which I’ll never return. I’ve quit worrying about what might happen and instead enjoy every day. When I start to become tense and loud my fabulous husband catches it right away and with the secret signal I realize I’m getting out of hand. When I’m sad I take a day off and do something I like to cheer me up. And, I’m learning not to be ashamed of the disease, but to embrace it. It doesn’t define me, but it’s part of who I am, part of my creativity and personality.

It’s been about a year and a half since I began my medication and therapy for Bipolar Disease. I’ve written nothing, not promoted or marketed my books, and rarely kept in touch with other authors. I just didn’t have the energy. It’s something I’ll have to work on soon. Up until now I’ve only wanted to stay in my own home, go out little, and try to sort through my life and what I do next.

If you’d like to learn more about Bipolar Disease here are some links. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised. I was. My husband has Diabetes. I have Bipolar Disease. Both are treatable, but with you for life. It doesn’t matter to me now. But it’s taken this year and a half to admit to the world that I have Bipolar Disorder. Guess I’m joining the ranks of the artistic and talented. I just read that Demi LaVato is speaking out about Bipolar Disease, with which she was diagnosed recently. Beethoven was thought to be Bipolar. Katherine-Zeta-Jones has Bipolar II. Patty Duke, Mel Gibson, Marilyn Monroe,Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Dreyfuss, and Patricia Cornwall are just a few of people I share my disorder with. Here’s a link to a list of other very creative who are Bipolar. If they can admit it, so can I!

Online Help:

Have you ever had something nagging at you that you ignored?  Was it ever resolved?  If so, you can identify with this post, I think.  There.  I’m officially out.  Now everyone knows.

Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

INZARED bookcoverkindle







Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders



Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer








Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)









13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing









13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook


You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews