Fellowship, Family, & Friends

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

This is my last post (for now, at least!) with this wonderful group of writers… and people. Since this is the week my parents are visiting, and also when I’ve spent time with wonderful friends, I thought I’d write a little reflection on fellowship, friends and family (which, of course, includes pets!).

I have been writing on this blog for several years, introduced to it by another Wyoming writer (remember Alethea Williams?) I’ve enjoyed my tenure with Writing Wranglers & Warriors, getting to know you, my fellow writers, who live in various states and even different countries. You’ve opened my eyes to new sights and ideas, and taught me many things about history, romance writing, and various ventures and adventures. I’ve learned from you, traveled with you, and celebrated with you… and I’ve enjoyed our virtual association (and been blessed to meet a few of you in person!)

gayle-and-mom-and-dadRelationships are important. My parents (ages 81 and 78) arrived at our house Sunday afternoon; they are staying all week. I’m giving a talk on Saturday morning to a ladies’ group regarding the devotion of dogs and the importance of pet adoption; my mother will be in attendance. This is the first non-school, non-library speaking engagement she has been present for. I’m very excited that she will be in the audience. My mother is not just my mom, but she is also one of my very best friends! I’m extremely thankful for our relationship! I’m also grateful for my dad and his dedication to his only child; he and I have different viewpoints on many things, but we have a good relationship and he’s been a devoted father all of my life. Since they are getting up there in years, each moment I’m able to spend with my parents is precious, and I’m thankful for those times.

Gayle and Cindy
Gayle and Cindy

One of my good friends (someone I’ve known since high school) spent part of Wednesday evening with us. Mom and I made a Thanksgiving-style dinner, with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and lettuce salad; my friend, Cindy, brought dessert (carrot cake!). We shared memories of younger years, her family (who passed away several years ago), as well as activities we’re currently involved in and future endeavors we are about to embark upon (Cindy owns and manages a business plus has commercial real estate investments). She plans to take us (Greg, Mom, Dad, and me) out for dinner tonight – she is SO GENEROUS, especially when my parents visit (which is now only once a year). A thanksgiving dinner was very appropriate this week, and I thank Cindy in advance for inviting us out to dinner this evening. I treasure our 30+ years of friendship!

On Monday, several of my female friends in town (including WWW’s Neva Bodin) came to the house for lunch; also part of the entourage was my neighbor, Marian, who helps care for the dogs when Greg is out of town and I’m at my day-job. We enjoyed a fall fare of soup and salad with brownies for dessert. We laughed, visited, talked a bit about writing, and doted on my new doggie, Jeremiah. We had a great time!

And, just a few weeks ago, I hosted a small gathering of writers (again, including Neva) at my home. Generally, we have a mini-retreat at the cabin on the mountain, but the weather was uncooperative this September; we couldn’t even sit in the backyard. So, with a fire in the woodstove, we shared, visited, and wrote, and shared some more, as well as encouraged each other. Being among other writers is motivating and joyous for me!

Fellowshipping with people I care about, whether other writers, friends, or family, is deeply important to me. Oh, I love my alone time, and I look forward to a few days in October when Greg is out of town, all my article-writing is done for the year, and I can simply take a deep breath and then plunge full-steam ahead with my works in progress…. And hang out with my pets!

Jeremiah and Mary_futonThey, too, carry a special place in my heart. Jeremiah is settling in very well with our household after less than three weeks (although one of the cats is still holding out/hiding out in the basement).  He is learning his new name, responding to a few obedience commands, and snuggling with me on the couch while I read or watch TV. I’m so thankful he’s come into our lives – he needed us, and we (at least me) needed him (Greg’s gotten pretty attached to the little fella, too). And, Jeremiah and Mary have become great friends! Both of my dogs play a big part in my talk on Saturday – where I hope to inspire the women gathered to do something (adopt, volunteer, donate) with animal rescues and shelters.

So, as I leave you, my Writing Wranglers and Warriors friends, I do so with prayers of blessings and a heart overflowing with gratitude. As I look for pet blogs on which to guest post and podcasts on which to speak, as well as develop additional products to sell, I will never forget the friends and fellowshipping, the lessons and information, I experienced through this wonderful group of people. May each of you be fulfilled and successful in what you do and may you always have colleagues, friends, and family (and a pet or two!) with whom to fellowship, share and celebrate!


Gayle_signing photoGayle M. Irwin writes inspirational pet stories for children and adults. In addition to her own books, she is a contributing writer to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the latest dog book “The Dog Really Did That?” released in August. She also writes for magazines and newspapers as a freelancer, plus she continues working on more books about dogs and pet adoption and scheduling speaking engagements and book signings. Visit her website to learn more: www.gaylemirwin.com.



Friends are Great by Cher’ley


This Blog by Cher’ley Grogg

Del and I had a wonderful visit with a fellow WW&W, Mike Staton. I don’t know what his plans for the day were but he reminded me of this poem by Robert Frost:

A Time to Talk

By Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, ‘What is it?’
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.


Del and Mike:                           Mike and Me:

20170925_145313.jpg            20170925_162224
Friends are a wonderful treasure. I cherish each of mine the ones I have known for a long time and the ones I have met online. It is exciting to meet one of our online friends in person. I have known

SJ BrownImage may contain: 10 people, people smiling  (She’s in the middle back, long hair) for a while, then a couple of years ago I met

Barbara Lindquist Schlichting and now

Mike Staton 

And no post about friends would be complete without one of my

best friend: FB_IMG_1506382821485


My hope is to meet each of my fellow bloggers in person, and I’d love to meet many more of my online friends in person.

***How many online friends have you met in person? How many of your fellow WW&W bloggers have you met in person? ***

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. The Advanced Coloring Book is the newest. 

Stamp Out Murder”.


The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren.

The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey BackThe JourneyBack 3

Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology

 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heartlink coming soon

Wonders of Water      Advanced Coloring Book

Please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell

Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE



Kate 2Kate Wyland

We put down my last horse three weeks ago. Glory (officially Fallen Queen) was 31, mostly blind from cataracts, had Cushings disease and arthritis. I hadn’t ridden her for the past two years because her blindness caused her to stumble and, with her arthritis, I couldn’t take a chance on her falling. As long as she was in a familiar place her lack of sight hadn’t seemed to bother her too much until recently. Then things changed.

A couple of months ago, she somehow hurt herself in her stall, cutting her upper eyelid, and injuring her hip and front leg. Presumably she got tangled in a fence when rolling and had a hard time getting free. We had to have the vet out for her eye, but the other stuff healed quickly. She became jumpy and nervous after that, not understanding why she hurt and what had happened. Then the wonderful worker who had fed, and cleaned the stalls at her stable for years suddenly quit, and the owner had a hard time finding someone to replace him. The frequently changing new cleaners, who weren’t necessarily horse people, scared her and she became more and more nervous, jumping at the slightest sound. Moving her would have only made her worse. It didn’t seem fair to let her continue this way and we reluctantly made the final decision, one which our vet had recommended over a year ago.

I bought Glory 19 years ago when she was 12. She was a wonderfully trained Third Level dressage horse that would be a schoolmaster to help me learn more about higher level skills. With horses, either the rider or the horse should know more. Two tyros are not likely to do well. In this case, she knew about dressage and would make it easier for me to advance. My trainer fell in love with her during a test ride and confirmed my already positive opinion.

glory 3

However, when I got her home I discovered she was very different from any horse I’d ever dealt with. I was used to high-strung, hot horses, but I’d never encountered a horse that was terrified of the world. Under saddle, she was perfect. On the ground, she was ready to panic at the slightest thing. She also was afraid of other horses, which I thought was really weird. It took some research and time to figure out what was going on with her.

Glory was a Thoroughbred destined for racing. She was sent to the track but was not successful. (She was too timid to challenge other horses.) She then was bred as a two-year old, had a foal, and was sold to a hunter-jumper barn. There she was trained for riding (racing TBs know little more than go, turn and stop), but wasn’t successful as a hunter-jumper. (Presumably because of her fear of other horses.) After that she went to a dressage barn and found her niche. Dressage horses compete by themselves. Because she was so good under saddle, a woman who was dealing with fear issues bought her but it wasn’t good match long-term. That’s when I got her and took on her prolems.

Like most Thoroughbred mares, Glory was hyper-sensitive to touch and her environment. Unfortunately, her previous owners had not paid much attention to that, trying to force her to behave like a laid-back warmblood. She hated being curried and brushed hard and their answer had been to carry a whip to correct her when she objected. That only made her more uptight. If something else happened while she was in this state, she’d blow up. And she developed the habit of pulling back, trying to break the rope, when she panicked.

She also had been through a variety of trainers, at least one of whom favored harsh methods. It turned out her good behavior under saddle was partly a result of fear. If she made a mistake, she would start shaking or even get a nose bleed. She obviously expected to be punished. (Though to be fair, what she considered punishment, other horses might not even notice.)

All this made for a rocky start for the two of us. I was used to confident horses who were willing to try and wanted to please. She was afraid to try anything different and wanted to be asked to do things in exactly the way she was used to. Given I was learning, that wasn’t a bad trait—if she didn’t get so upset when I didn’t get it right.


glory 2-1


Several times I was tempted to give up on her and find an easier horse, but I’m stubborn and persisted. I bought the softest brushes and curries I could find and used them gently. We worked with a trainer on her pulling back and made good improvement. (Unfortunately, that’s habit that rarely goes away entirely.) She gradually got used to my other horses and found her place in the herd. In fact, in later years she took over the “protector” role.

It took years and lots of work, including alternative energy methods, to get her to really trust me. Eventually, she did accept that she had home and was not going to be sent away again. We learned to work together under saddle and she was a delight to ride. She remained a powerful, athletic horse with spectacular gaits, up until the Cushings hit.

I miss my Glory girl, and hope she’s been reunited with Portia and Koko beyond the rainbow bridge. A piece of my heart goes with her.



Forewarning Cover

Healing is her life. Will it be her death?


Wyoming Cover - 4x6 - #2.

Wyoming Escape
Two dead bodies. One dirty cop.
Is she next?


Cover - Images - 2.

 Images – A Love Story
She’s learned to hide from life.
Should she hide from him?


Connect with Kate Wyland:
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/katewyland
Website : http://katewyland.com


Friendship in the Garden by ErinFarwell

IMG_3046Recently I enjoyed the best evening I’ve had in a long time. While I love my husband and daughter dearly, this time was spent with my dear friend Stephanie Stamm. We first met in Chicago many years ago and later we became roommates, sharing my condo located near Foster and Sheridan roads just off of Lake Shore Drive. Work had me moving to the Atlanta area and shortly thereafter Stephanie moved to Michigan. She was one of my bridesmaids and a dear friend.

Life and distance separated us and communication dwindled to the occasional Christmas card. In 2012, we both published our first books and visited together briefly in Michigan. This was enough to renew our friendship and we kept in touch via emails, Facebook, and the occasional telephone call. She later joined Writing Wranglers and Warriors and our ties deepened.ABG

Earlier this year an amazing thing happened: Stephanie moved to Atlanta! I was so excited. Just having her back in my life helped me recapture some parts of me that were shuffled to the side in the face of marriage and motherhood. I wouldn’t change my life, but it has been nice to reconnect with someone who knew me before I became a wife and mother.

Despite our new proximity, my life and responsibilities has kept me from seeing Stephanie as much as I’d like. We rectified this issue with a recent visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden to see the “Bruce Munro Light in the Garden” exhibition.

ABG8I drove to her condo to pick her up and had a lovely tour of her new home. One of her cats came out to say hi, but kept her distance. The other cat was shy and only evidenced by the cat litter boxes in the bathroom. We chatted a bit, mostly me actually, and then we headed to the gardens. The exhibit is from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm and we had the perfect evening for it.

We started with the Canopy Walk and stood on the walkway high above the Forest of Light installation while Stephanie shared stories of her life over the past 10 years or so. As we watched the 30,000 lights below brighten in the gathering dusk, fireflies began to flit between the bulbs. We continued down the walkway and into the lights, following paths until we found ourselves at one of the many water features of the garden. This ABG7one is particularly lovely, a series of ponds with waterfalls connecting them and a large plant sculpture of a woman with water pouring from her hands.

Next we went to a geodesic dome installation called Beacon and then into the Fuqua Conservatory to see the “Eden Blooms” installation and enjoyed the sounds of the frogs as well as the lights. In the next room were three sculptures called “Three Degrees.” There was some great oldies music playing in the room with them so we danced a bit before moving on to the ABG3orchid room. Throughout this all, Stephanie and I talked, reinforcing bonds that had stretched too thin.

Feeling peckish, we stopped at the Garden House Café for drinks and a snack. We shared an amazing repast of fresh bread, heirloom tomato salad with sherry vinaigrette dressing, and a board of locally made cheeses.

The hour grew late and we realized we’d missed an installation near the Conservatory so weABG4 went back to see the Water Towers. The final installation, Swing Low, we had seen on our way in and again on our way out.

At some point in our wanderings I realized that my cheeks hurt from smiling. I missed my friend more than I had realized and was rejuvenated by our adventure together. I dropped Stephanie back at her condo and drove home, still smiling and happy, already planning our next outing.

Learn more about me at: http://www.erinfarwell.com

ShadowlandsAHE New Cover8149g0+Rz-L._SL1500_

Walking 2 Dogs and Writing by Stephen

Stephen W. BuehlerThis Blog by Stephen W. Buehler

Seymour and Spumoni

Seymour and Spumoni

For thee next two weeks my dog Seymour and I will be enjoying of the company of a friend’s dog, Spumoni. I never had a pet, not even as a child, until five years ago when I adopted Seymour. Since then I’ve learned about responsibility and getting outside of my own head. I spend too much time in there, as a writer and as a person who lives alone. Seymour and I typically take three walks a day, every day, every week, every year for the past five years. With Spumoni visiting we take at least three walks, usually four. It’s a routine and I have to live with it.

Me and Seymour - we each had a haircut that day.
Me and Seymour – we each had a haircut that day.

I love the walks, I hate the walks. On some days I’m impatient and can’t wait for it to end and other days I like to keep walking and search out unexplored parts of the neighborhood. It’s the same with writing. Some days I hate it, other days I love it. Sometimes I sit and wait and wait and nothing comes, while on good days it just pours out of me. On those days it’s like walking Spumoni. She loves to keep moving forward, sniff the next patch of grass, eyes a dog in the distance and can’t wait to meet it. She’s fearless and undaunting which is how I wish I was more often.

Seymour longing for a walk.
Seymour longing for a walk.

On the other hand, Seymour likes to stop often, explore, sit down and look around. When he sees a dog in the distance his nose twitches, trying to capture of the scent of the nearby canine before he’ll go near it. He’ll wait for the dog to come to him. I applaud his tendency for checking everything out along the walk, for being careful and literary, for stopping to smell the roses, but those walks can take forever. I feel like I almost have to pull him along. I can become impatient and frustrated. And once again, it can be like my writing experience. I have an idea but it takes forever to find the right structure, then to get myself to sit down, then write it, then rewrite it and rewrite it again. I just want it finished and out there to be read.

While walking these two dogs, sometimes one is way out front and the other is lagging behind. My arms are completely outstretched and I feel I’m being pulled apart, right down the middle. I just have to be patient until they both find the same walking speed and then my universe is in harmony again.

One of the best byproducts of these walks is that my subconscious goes into overdrive and either comes up with original ideas or solves problems that I’m working on. If I put a thought in my head like, “How can I make this character appear to be guilty when he’s not?” most likely I’ll have the solution by the time I take Seymour’s leash off.

On Seymour's down time he likes to read.
On Seymour’s down time he likes to read.

There’s good and bad to be said for Spumoni’s and Seymour’s walking styles. And that’s how life goes. Sometimes the dog/muse pulls you along by the leash and the walk is quick and efficient. Other days the dog/muse lags behind, getting the job done but not at the speed you hope for. But you write anyway. And then take your dog for another walk.

(Though they didn’t actually type any of this, Seymour and Spumoni helped me write this blog.)

Do your pets help or hinder your creativity?

After a long walk, relaxing by the pool.
After a long walk, relaxing by the pool.

Stephen W. Buehler Join Stephen on Stephen Buehler

Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. His story, Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and was a Derringer Finalist. A Job’s a Job was published in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology. His is seeking a home for his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician, psychics and of course, murder. He is also currently shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. By day he is also a script/story consultant, magician and a nice guy.  www.stephenbuehler.com

Basking in Beauty: Past, Present and Future

Gayle_CactusForest_nearLakePleasantThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

The past several days I’ve spent in the sunny southwest. The desert is alive with color and since spring was just last week, I found the timing of my visit very appropriate. While in Phoenix, I saw roses and multiple other types of flowers. Traveling to Tucson, cactus flowers, primrose and other colorful vegetation greeted my friend and I as we walked the trails of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. I took endless photos and basked in the beauty that welcomed us.

Cacti Garden_AZ Desert MuseumBeauty was not just in the plant life, but in the animals we saw: captive ones to educate the public about the fauna of the region, and wild ones, like lizards and songbirds, that make the desert their home. I was excited to see otters, herons, and desert bighorn that could not be released in the wild due to injuries but that could still educate people living in and not living in Arizona about their habits and habitats, and I was even more excited to see the wild ones that just “appeared” to reflect their adaptations to the environment. I love seeing and learning about the flora and fauna of a region I visit – there is beauty in nature and in learning about it.

Dougs MustangThere is also beauty in the relationships we share with others. My friends Doug and his family gave me their time, gas, and food as we shared about three days together. We reflected upon the past – the years we’ve known one another, their years of marriage, their kids’ education; upon the present – what we’re all doing now, our concerns and our joys, and the connection we maintain; and about the future – what their kids want to become as adults, my friends’ future vacation and retirement plans, our aging parents and our aging selves. Nature and friendship – two of the most beautiful things we experience in life!

As writers we can create beauty as well. Our characters have relationships with other characters (past, present, future) and sometimes writers weave nature into stories, showcasing the beauty (and sometimes danger) our characters experience. In Sage’s Big Adventure, blind dog Sage becomes lost in the woods (something that actually happened to my real blind dog Sage). The dog’s strong relationship with her people help her return home to them. I’ve seen that and read about that – some pets return home months, even years later, their connection to their humans such a beautiful and strong component to get them home (think of the movie ‘Homeward Bound’ – I cry at the end EVERY time!).

How do you create your characters’ relationships? Do you think about past, present, and future of your characters? Do you bring nature into your stories, and if so, do you showcase beauty or danger, or both?

Gayle_Old Tucson Creek BackdropAs this post goes live, I’ll be returning to Wyoming after four days in Arizona and three days in Las Vegas. In Vegas, I’ll have met up with another long-time friend, a woman who lives in California but who has ties (including the start of our friendship 20 years ago) in Montana; I also planned to have lunch with fellow Writing Wrangler Mike Staton. I’m very excited to see Kari and share my birthday with her with dinner and a show, and to meet and visit with Mike. There’s past, present, and future in these friendships, too – what a beautiful thing!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Blue Heron

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 books: 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 Dog Did What?, released August 2014. 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 www.gaylemirwin.com.


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

Celebrating Friends

Gayle_ChrisjpgThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

In a few days, I’ll take that big ol’ jet airliner (see Steve Miller Band’s song on YouTube) west and southwest. I’m traveling to Phoenix for about five days then spending two-and-a-half in Las Vegas (and looking forward to meeting Mike Staton and having lunch with him while I’m in the area!)

Two friends from college and their families live in the Phoenix area. One of my friends has lived there for nearly 25 years and the other became a snowbird about three years ago (he and his wife winter in AZ and summer in WY … I try to not let the green-eyed monster of jealousy rise too high when I think of this couple!) A woman I’ve known for nearly 20 years lives in the Los Angeles area; she’s an elementary teacher and spring break for her occurs during the time I’m traveling – so we’re meeting in Vegas for a few days. During that time I will have my 54th birthday, and my girlfriend and I are going to hit the town for dinner and a show! While in Arizona, my friends and I are going to enjoy several adventures, including visiting Old Tucson Studios and possibly a spring training baseball game. I had hoped my husband would join me on this part of the trip, but work and church obligations keep him in Casper. Although I’d love hubby to join me, I have my friends to spend time and share adventures with, and I’m grateful for that.

AZ 2013_Sarg Cactus and Sky

I have another friend that I’ve known for more than 30 years who, last year, was diagnosed with a very rare form of stomach cancer. He’s my age. He’s gone through multiple surgeries for the cancer and for infections thereafter. Needless to say, the world of he and his family has been rocked … so has mine. This person and his wife mean a great deal to me – they are the brother and sister I’ve never had. Last week I gathered with them for a dinner. Despite the uncertainty they face and the major setbacks they’ve had, they still maintain a great attitude. We had a wonderful time, sharing laughter and memories … and a few tears.

I’ve also shed a few tears over my elderly dog Cody during the past several days. He is nearly 17 and has had some great struggles. One evening I returned home from work to find him nearly comatose. We suspect he had a stroke. He rebounded the next day and has had several up days lately; we even took him to our cabin on the mountain last weekend. We treasure each day we have with him despite the getting up several times in the night due to his health conditions and being very tired. Cody’s old soul is tired, too, and one day he won’t be with us any longer. Although to be expected with his advancing age, the idea of losing him breaks my heart – he’s been, and remains, a cherished friend.



I have a bracelet that I wear nearly every day. It has colorful beads, and the word “HOPE” secures the ends. I look at that and try to remember hope is alive and well when a person digs down deep and perseveres. Each of those colored beads represents someone special in my life, friend or family member I care about. I look at the word “HOPE” and whisper a prayer over each of those individuals I think of when I view the bracelet on my wrist. I will be wearing it on my trip.

bracelet_HOPENo one knows the future. We live in the present and we create good (or bad) with what we have. I am thankful for friends, those I’ve known since elementary and high school with whom I still maintain a relationship; my colleagues at work; my writers’ group; my fellow Writing Wranglers; and my neighbor and surrogate mother Marian, who helps with the dogs SO OFTEN. I celebrate each one who has often shared hope with me in times of loss. And, I choose to remember the good times, such as my dog Cody barking loudly at a dog or person he thought was out to harm me (small dog, big heart, that boy!), or the many years of friendship I’ve shared with my friends in Arizona, California, and Wyoming… or wherever they may live.  Gayle with Stacy and Cindy


I know you, too, cherish your friendships for I’ve seen postings on this blog about people you care about. And, I cherish you, my Writing Wrangler friends, because we share a love of writing, we’ve come to know each other more personally, and you have been an encouragement to me through the years I’ve “known” you.

So, as I prepare to wing my way to a sunny southwest and bask in the beauty and joy of friendship with some special people, I toast you all! I celebrate you, my many other friends, and my family, those near and far!


Gayle and Greg with friends in Mesa, AZ
Gayle and Greg with friends in Mesa, AZ


Gayle & Mary outside 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 books: 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 Dog Did What?, released August 2014. 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 www.gaylemirwin.com.


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

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.


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13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

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A Gift of Time by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1Lately it seems as though I am simply surviving. I move from one task to the next with little ability or energy to plan beyond the next deadline or responsibility. I have been sick the last week or so, a cold that just won’t go away, but it’s more than that. I’m the one who plans for holidays and birthdays weeks or more in advance yet this Valentine’s Day I shopped for a little something for my daughter the night before. I don’t like living from one chore to the next but I can’t seem to get caught up enough to shift into a more thoughtful, intentional mode.

This issue has nagged at me for a few days because one of my closest friends, Jodi, had a birthday yesterday. We are celebrating together today and I want to do something to let her know how important she is to me. We met at the public pool when both of our daughters were around four or so. We clicked immediately and moved beyond the pool to having play-dates. It quickly became clear that while we were becoming friends, our daughters were not as compatible, so we ditched the kids play date but have made it a mission to have breakfast or lunch together one day a month during the school year. We’ve been doing this consistently since the girls started friendshipkindergarten, so it’s been about eight years.

Jodi is awesome because she supports me in everything I’m up to, gives great advice, and knows we can disagree on certain issues (mostly politics) without having it be personal. We both have busy lives and just knowing she’s there for me, as I am for her, is all we need. We don’t chat on the phone or spend lots of time together, but we know if we need anything, help, support, understanding, or just someone to say it’s okay, the other will be there – no questions asked.

For my birthday in September, Jodi made me a bag of gifts based on a blog I wrote. She filled it with several different things that she really enjoys and wanted to share with me. I was touched that she had read the blog but also that she put so much thought and effort into my gift.

And this leads me back to my issue of moving from one task to another. I want to do something as thoughtful for her as she did for me. CIMG1630This isn’t about a competition; I just want her to feel as special on her birthday as she made me feel on mine.

We are meeting at a French restaurant we like for her birthday lunch and I have purchased a few things that are “her” but they don’t feel special enough. I wanted something that was thoughtful and was a gift of effort as well as a “thing.” Then I knew what to do.

Yesterday I spent a good part of my time making home-made yeast bread. I used the recipe my paternal Erin_18AUG1977_Youth_Fairgrandmother baked almost every weekend and which she passed on to my mother. I earned “Best in Show” with a loaf I made from this recipe at the county fair when I was in High School. One of my best childhood memories is the smell of this bread baking in the oven. My own daughter loves this bread as much as I do, and can’t wait for it to cool before cutting a thick slice and slathering it with butter.

So, I am giving Jodi the time and effort that I used to make her something that’s both tasty and a piece of my history. I know she’ll appreciate the gift for all that it is and hope that it conveys what a gift she is in my life.

Some friends are just worth the extra effort.

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ShadowlandsAHE New Cover8149g0+Rz-L._SL1500_

A Bounty of Blessings

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

It’s the month we celebrate several things including veterans, pets, America. Thanksgiving is around the corner and in the United States this is a holiday which means more (or should) than planning the trek to stores that are open for “Black Friday”/Thanksgiving Thursday.

Anticipating spending this Thanksgiving in Montana with my parents, I cannot help but reflect back to nearly a year after my mother’s first knee replacement surgery. It was a difficult time; her recovery was slow and painful, but within a few months she was walking better than she had in several years. This past May she went through a second knee surgery, this time on the other leg, and her recovery was much quicker and now her walk is much smoother and much less painful. A great blessing!

Mom and Dad_treeI’ve experienced many blessings this past year, including several magazine writing assignments, a new book, and healthy pets (despite several ups and downs). My husband and I have also experienced sorrow, in particular the loss of his father. As we look to celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents, we also look forward to sharing Christmas with his mother. Friendships surround us as well, people we enjoy being with and people who have helped us in time of need. And, our pets give us special companionship, help us smile and keep us warm at night (especially lately!) Another great blessing: our family and friends, both humans and four-leggeds. And yet another: the increase in my writing, including venturing into a new genre!

Cody FaceWith the onslaught of a bitter cold, snowy winter, I look around me and see a multitude of other blessings: warm shelter, food in the pantry and on the table, machines which wash clothes and dishes, blankets, beds, and two running cars. I have a stable job in addition to the writing work I’m doing and my husband’s business has picked up since spring. We have a bounty of blessings for which to be thankful for this year … including those which we often take for granted.

As this year draws to an end and a new one looms on the horizon, may we be ever mindful of the bounty of blessings each of us receives while looking forward to great goals and new challenges.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving table

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 Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. Her latest book is a follow-up to the devotion book: Devotions for Dog Lovers Volume 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. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small     Walking_FrontCover_smallSageLearnsShareFront-small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_FinalDog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014  Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover