January’s Cold Truth

 

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This post by Cole Smith

 

Do you know what it’s like to have a January birthday?

 

January's Cold Truth

 

It’s cold.

 

 

And though I used to resent it, over the years I’ve grown to appreciate my special month. It’s more than just finding the silver lining; I look forward to these days. So, January haters, brace yourselves. Like a chill wind from the north, here are a few reasons I savor the brief days:

 

 

All the magic happens in the dark and cold.

 

If you think about it, a lot of our favorite story elements are set in cold darkness. I’m not only talking about the Snow Queen, either. Rumpelstiltskin showed up at night. Beauty finds the Beast nearly dead in a cold, dark, abandoned castle. The princess pitched the frog prince against her bedroom wall at night. (And we somehow forgave her for this, why? Because it was the end of a long day?)

Gathering stories, the Grimms must have appreciated that there’s something powerful about short, cold days around the hearth. It’s only natural that, in the days before digital entertainment and giant snowplows, families crafted stories to pass the time—and the truth. Nothing preserves old wisdom quite like a story.

It’s said the darkest hour is just before dawn. Add some chill to that hour, and it makes for some amazing, magic moments.

 

 

January Rebirth

 

 

There’s more free time for introspection.

 

In the hectic springtime and jam-packed summer, it’s hard to find time for stillness. And who wants stillness, when the weather’s so fine and there’s so much fun? In a culture that worships multi-tasking and constant busyness, it’s nice to have an excuse to slow down.

Still moments are when we reflect and evaluate. We take stock and find insights. Think about the times you’ve had an epiphany. It probably wasn’t during a summer softball game…

 

Regeneration takes rest.

 

In one parable, Jesus said, “…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Life has seasons, and regeneration has a cost. To be renewed, we have to have a time of rest. Skip it? Risk burnout.

Even other climates have monsoons, an occasional desert rain, or dry, wasting periods. Nature uses seasons as a reset button, to store up energy. Like the early daffodils, we recharge so that we can burst forth in shocking beauty.

 

January's Cold Truth

 

So on this, the next-to-last day of January, 2018, I’m grateful. Thank you, January, for the cold that brings my family closer together, basking in the cozy warmth and rest of home. I love the sunrises and sunsets, the short hours of daylight in between, and the few, fleeting Quadrantid meteors streaking across the night sky. Thanks for the long evenings that will be reclaimed by yard work and busyness, come spring.

 

January—do you love it or hate it? How do you spend the long evenings of the new year?

 

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Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at www.colesmithwrites.com.

 

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Good-byes, Grief, and Gratitude by Stephanie

Steph_2 copy (2)By Stephanie Stamm

Given my letter for the day, I thought about writing about my new home state, Georgia. However, the “g” word that resonates most with me at the moment is “good-bye” (though a few others are scattered through the post as well).

I’ve been saying “good-bye” to a lot of people, places, and things lately. The things I’ve let go without much trouble. Many of them had felt heavy to me anyway, and I was ready to pass them on to someone else who could use or love them. Saying good-bye to places has been a bit harder. I have only a few more days in my house in Michigan, and I know driving away after all my belongings have disappeared in the moving van will make me sad and weepy. But saying good-bye to people—that’s the hardest of all. Even when I know we can keep in touch via telephone, text, email, Skype, FaceTime, and visits. With over 800 miles separating us, we won’t be getting together for impromptu dinners, drinks, or movies anymore.

256px-Yin_yang.svgI’ve often said that many of the best things in life are like the best chocolate: bittersweet. And that’s how this time in my life feels. I am grateful for the opportunity that has opened in my life and occasioned my move to Atlanta. At the same time, I grieve for the life I am leaving behind. The older I get, the more I realize that each choice we make offers both opportunity and loss. For every path taken, another is discarded. Every joy holds inside it the seed of grief, as every grief holds inside it the seed of joy.

??????????I am reminded of the Hindu god Ganesh—read more about Ganesh at my earlier post here—who is both the giver and remover of obstacles. The obstacles we face often hold within them the secret to their removal—and sometimes the obstacles themselves are gifts of sorts.

I guess all of this is to say that life and emotions are complicated. The more we live, the more we engage with this life we are in, the more we see that joy doesn’t exclude pain and loss; it encompasses them. We don’t find happiness by pushing away pain, but by embracing it as a necessary part of living an embodied life. We are happy not “instead of” sad, but “in spite of” or “as well as.”

So, my good-byes contain both gratitude and grief. And a seed of gratitude lives within the grief itself, for I am grateful to have had in my life—for however long—that person, place, or thing whose loss I now grieve.

I am beginning to think that those intertwined emotions of gratitude and grief are the source of growth.

What about you? What are you grateful for? What are you grieving?

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

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

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Post A-to-Z Road Trip
A to Z Blog Challenge

A to Z Blog Challenge

This month we are part of the A2Z Challenge, squeeze in the car and ride along with us. This gives you a chance to read many great blogs you would not have normally known existed.

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.
thinking

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 Goodreads.com

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 Poemhunter.com

 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)

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Books by L.Leander:

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Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

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Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

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