An Open Letter

Post by Doris McCraw

edit hhj spc

I lost my mother in February of 2011. I still miss her, and thought I would share a letter she might have written to me about how to be a loving person and live in this world without letting define or defeat me. So, Mom, I hope you are looking down and smiling for you were a great teacher.

Dear Daughter,

First, I want you to know how much I love you. I know as you travel this world there will be times when it will not seem worth it. Times when you just want to give up on yourself and the world. I taught you better than that. In case you have forgotten or perhaps need to have a handy reminder, I’ll give you my thoughts about how to survive and thrive.

I will start with, forgive yourself. You won’t be able to forgive any one else if you don’t know how to forgive yourself. I know, you did some bad things, but remember, you were doing the best you could at that time. That does not mean you get to do them again. To do so is only going to make you feel worse about yourself. Sweetheart, give yourself a break and get on with your life. Don’t let the past ruin your future.

Remember the story of Mr. Flemming’s father. He chose to not like a whole race of people, but would and did hire individuals. As long as those individuals worked for him, they were treated like everyone else, including sitting at the table with everyone else and he would be angry if anyone made unflattering remarks. I’m not saying you should dislike a group of people. What I am saying is, respond to people as individuals. Do not let yourself get caught up in the rhetoric of if one, then all. Treat others like you want to be treated, even when they don’t return the favor.

Get over the idea of “it’s not fair”. Life isn’t fair, but it is good. Life and living will be what you make it. When you get caught up in the ‘not fair’ mindset you miss so much of the wonderful parts of life. When you get down, or are feeling put upon, give yourself ten minutes to feel sorry for yourself, then get up and do something productive. Let the hurt go. It may not be easy, that’s for sure. You can forgive and not forget. Think on that one for a while.

You can do or be whatever you want, just remember there are consequences. Consequences are not good or bad, they just are. You are totally responsible for the decisions you make about your life. Yes, you may have people who will help you, but you are the only one you have to live with your whole life. Make sure you’re the kind of person you want to be around.

I know there are many other ‘rules’ your could probably stand to hear, but these are a good use to help you survive and thrive. I wish you well, know I love you and whatever happens do your best to be happy, to be alive, for that is the true gift.

Love, Your Mother

 

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted five days a week at – http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com and has now passed one thousand haiku and photos posted on this blog. Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page:  http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL
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Mindfulness

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Have you heard of Mindfulness? It’s a word that is being used quite frequently these days. Dictionary.com defines mindfulness as:

noun

1.

the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something.

2.

Psychology.

  • a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, 2013-01-04 22.53.31experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them: The practice of mindfulness can reduce stress and physical pain.

the mental state maintained by the use of this technique.

It’s a hurry-scurry world in which we live and taking a moment or two out of our day is a good thing. It helps reduce stress, thus making us more relaxed and aware of our surroundings. In a counseling class I’m taking, we are urged to stop at random during the day, think of where we are, what we’re thinking about, and focus on what we are feeling at that very minute. It does amazing things for the body, for putting oneself in the here and now, not worrying about the past or future; making one concentrate on the present and helps to clear the mind. Much like meditation, mindfulness lets you relax and forget about the busy world around you for a second. Even that minute amount of time is sufficient to place one in a happier, more relaxed mindset.

There is a lot of research on the Internet about mindfulness but I wanted to write a short post, so I’ll leave it to you to do that search yourself. Here are a couple of links I liked when I Googled mindfulness.

I like the Bell of Mindfulness because it gives you quiet music to listen to and suddenly a gong rings to bring you to attention. Very good for learning to practice mindfulness.

file0001052140987The Bell of Mindfulness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUzBYkOJOqo

I read an article I found in Science Daily that says mindfulness has been shown to make the workplace more relaxing and less resistance is found between workers. Science Daily – Mindfulness in the Workplace

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160310141455.htm

You can go to iTunes and purchase an app called The Mindfulness App ($1.99). I think I’ll give it a try.

The Mindfulness App: Guided and Silent Meditations to Relax

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mindfulness-app-guided-silent/id417071430?mt=8

No matter how you choose to do it, try to fit mindfulness into your day. We writers tend to get so involved in our work some days that we get headaches, tense muscles, etc. Stopping for a quick minute could help alleviate that..mindDo any of you practice mindfulness?  What does it mean to you?  Does it help you de-stress?  I’d love to know

Books by L.Leander

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzaredonecover

 

Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

inzaredtwocover

 

13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

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13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook

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You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Books

Amazon Author Page

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L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews

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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

 

Inzaredonecover

 

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

 

Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

 

inzaredtwocover

 

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

 

13ext

13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

 

13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook

 

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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

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Google+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer As a Weekend by Joe

This post is by Joe Stephens

This post is appearing in late June, but I’m writing it on Memorial Day, the date known to many as the unofficial start to summer. And the weather today is really bearing that out. Warm and muggy with the promise of thunderstorms over the next day or so.

It might sound odd (seems like I say that a lot), but I think the Memorial Day weekend is my favorite part of summer. And it’s for the same reason that Friday afternoon is my favorite part of a weekend. They share a lot of characteristics, as do various parts of weekends and summer. Stick with me and hopefully this will make sense by the end. Or not. But I’ll enjoy it either way.

Before I go any further, let me say that I’m not in any way trying to make light of or be disrespectful about the true meaning of Memorial Day. I am deeply grateful for the sacrifice so many men and women have made to maintain the american, flag, blue, sky, United States, USA, stars and stripesunparalleled freedoms we share here in the United States. Please accept my thanks.

Now, on to the reason I’m writing this.

Why is Friday afternoon my favorite part of the weekend? Several reasons. First, it’s the very beginning. It’s  as early as it can possibly be and still be the weekend. The whole rest of the freedom is stretched out before me. Plus, on Frgirl, woman, field, grass, nature, sunshine, sunny, summer, dress, fashion, peopleiday night, I can stay up later than during the week because I don’t usually have to set an alarm the next morning. Saturday is the bulk of the weekend, but on Saturday night I can’t stay up all hours like I can on Friday because I go to church on Sunday morning, so I have to get to bed at a semi-decent hour. And as a school teacher, Sunday after church and lunch with family and/or friends is usually just pre-school stuff. Grading, planning, reading (that I have to do, as opposed to reading I choose to do), preparing. It’s barely the weekend at all.

So what has that to do with Memorial Day? Well, it’s essentially the Friday of the season. It’s as early as it can be and still be, by any definition, summer. As a teacher of seniors, I’m even finished teaching for the year. The whole rest of the warm, relaxed, fun-filled days lie ahead of me. It’s pure potential. For more than two months, any school related activity I do will be purely voluntary.

The time from my last actual day of school right up to July 4th is Saturday. The couple weeks after Independence Day are Saturday night. As much as I hate to, I have to start getting back into the habit of going to bed at a decent hour and getting up early so that when school starts I won’t take all the way to Halloween getting acclimated. So it’s still fun, but the end of summer starts to be visible off on the horizon.

It used to be, back when I was a student, that Labor Day was the Sunday night of summer. I can clearly remember staying up most of the night watching Jerry Lewis and Ed McMahon on the telethon and my mom not letting me sleep all day because of those four dreaded words: “It’s a school night.”fireworks, sky, night, dark, smoke, evening, entertainment, people, spectators, crowd

Now, though, Labor Day is more like Monday afternoon. My first day back to school in the year coming up will be August 11, so the end of July and the first third of August are analogous in my mind to Sunday. It’s barely even summer at all. Football, soccer, and volleyball practices have started, autumn decorations are on sale in all the stores, and I’m in my room more regularly getting ready to start the year. If I close my eyes and breathe deeply, I can even smell it in the air. August, though still technically summer, starts to take on a different odor. No longer do we smell the perfumesfarm, fields, hay, rolls, grass, country, sky, clouds, sunshine of flowers and budding trees, their scents slowly being replaced by those of dying vegetation: piles of brown leaves, the rich loamy smell of a garden plowed under for the season, and the pungent whiff of bailed hay that was moist, verdant grass just a few weeks earlier.

None of this is to say I dislike Monday or autumn. I love my job, but by Friday, I’m usually ready for a break. Time to decompress and do something different—or just less. Summer is the weekend of the year in a lot of ways. And Memorial Day is the Friday of that weekend. Who knows what magic lies before me? I can’t wait to find out.

So what’s your favorite season?

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey and Kisses and Lies, both of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from
Amazon, from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg, and from the author’s trunk.

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon

Join Joe on Facebook 

Check out joe’s website.

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:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzaredonecover

Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

inzaredtwocover

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

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Google+

Elevation Education by Doris

hhj spc 3Post copyright Doris McCraw

Ever Envision Entertaining the thought of writing about E? There are a lot of avenues of possibilities. For myself after entertaining the idea of Electricity- Tesla V Edison, I realized I lived at 6,000+ feet above sea level and traveled to 8,000 and 10,000 regularly. What is common place for me can be challenging and sometimes hazardous to others. Therefore a lesson in Elevation seemed in order.

Colorado Topographic Map-USGS

Colorado is considered one of, it not the highest state in the nation. It is home to over 50 peaks above 14,000 feet. The highest incorporated town in North America is here, the town of Leadville, know for it history, minerals and the folks who came, went or died there. Many people in the late 1800 and early 1900’s came to Colorado for their health. The clear air, the exact opposite of the coal laden city air of the eastern cities, was the factor that drew them here. It was life saving for many, but for some, a death sentence.

Colorado Springs historic map – Colorado Springs, Colorado City and Manitou, CO, 1882

Why a death sentence? If you have ever been to Colorado you will notice cities have their elevation listed, not population. If you have heart problems elevation is a defining factor in your traveling. It is my thought that one of the reasons elevation is listed is for that very reason. Many people with heart problems have trouble when they go above certain elevations. For many that is 8,000 feet, for others it is much less. For Mary Lincoln Mellon (Queen) Palmer, it was the reason she could not remain in Colorado Springs with her husband, Wm. Jackson Palmer, the city’s founder.

Palmer and his wife “Queen” Palmer …

Even those without heart issues can find the change in elevation challenging. Coming from sea level to Colorado Springs or higher can lead to altitude sickness, depending on your susceptibility. The following are two links describing the problem and some tips:

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/altitude-sickness-topic-overview http://www.emedicinehealth.com/mountain_sickness/article_em.htm.

One interesting side effect, especially for those who imbibe in alcoholic beverages; folks you can’t drink as much at a higher elevation as you did at a lower one. There ain’t as much oxygen at higher elevations. Even when going from my 6,000 to the top of Pikes Peak’s 14,115 is a big change. I’ve been to the top many times, sometimes to speak and sing ‘America the Beautiful’ as Katharine Lee Bates, and I have to conserve and use what oxygen there is to be effective.

Pikes Peak as seen from the West
Pikes Peak as seen from the West, from the authors collection

Now you have had a bit of an education, please don’t let it stop you from traveling. There are many beautiful things to see in this world. But as they say, education is power. Power to make good choices and to prepare for eventuality. Until next time, may this little education about elevation help you make plans for travel and add insights and ideas to your writing.

home for his heart angela raines

HOME FOR HIS HEART
http://www.amazon.com/Home-His-Heart-Angela-Raines-ebook/dp/B00LU3HZEK/
also available as an ebook on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Doris Gardner-McCraw/Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/angelaraines-dorismccraw
Photo and Poem: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com
Blog: http://renawomyn.blogspot.com/ 

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