Bloom Where You’re Planted

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis blog post by Gayle M. Irwin

Spring sprung late this year in Casper, Wyoming (unless you count the few weeks in February in which we experienced some days of record-breaking temps and sun-filled skies!). The rain, snow, and cold, although contributing to greening grass and colorful, fragrant flowers, about did in the people I know in Casper and other parts of Wyoming. When mid-May comes, you desire sunshine, warmth, and outdoor activity… not clouds, cold, and confinement.

tulips 2As moisture fell from the sky, both in the form of rain and snow earlier this month, I took some time when the clouds dried up briefly and explored my yard and my neighborhood. I noticed tulips in vast arrays of color, from deep red to striped pink, from vibrant yellow to dusky lavender. Lavish lilac bushes separated one house from another, and hedges of honeysuckle with pink blossoms enticed a variety of songbirds to eat and sing from the branches.

One bush especially captured my attention. An old lilac shrub in my backyard, which my husband had cut back many years ago, and which I suggested last year we give up on and dig up, sprung to life this year. It’s small, but there is life, including a few fragrant flowers. Obviously, I’m glad we didn’t destroy the backyard lilac! Seeing the resurrected bush, and all the varied plant species in royal array, made me think of the old adage “Bloom Where You’re Planted.”

lilac flowers

That slogan is truly applicable to life and career, especially for me. I work part-time for a non-profit, and in many ways, my job is a gift: I work with wonderful colleagues, we do an important service in our community, and the three days a week allows me time to write, to speak, to travel, or to be at my cabin. Financially, it’s not bad either, considering it’s non-profit and part-time. I have four-day weekends, for the most part, giving me a few days each week to visit schools and/or to travel. At work, I’m often able to help write newsletters and share client stories (using fake names, of course) with donors, so I can use a skill/gift I’ve been given as well as use my brain at various other levels. Therefore, even though there are days when I wish I was not working outside the home, I can bloom where I’m planted.

Likewise with writing. I may not be the most well-known writer, even in my own state – we have successes like Craig Johnson, whose Longmire book series is a TV show available on Netflix and who travels the world, and Nina McConigley, who won a PEN award, got a book review by “O” (Oprah’s magazine), and is sought after as a speaker at literary and writing conferences as well as an educator on university campuses across the country. I will likely never be at their level, yet I have my niche, and it’s one I enjoy. Through my passions for writing and pet rescue I’m able to speak to children and adults, in schools and libraries, about the importance of the pet-human bond and then donate part of book sales back to those rescues that do such incredible work. Although I wish I was more successful financially in the writing and speaking arenas, perhaps that will come in time (and then, it may not). Meantime, I’m blooming where I’m planted.

City News Cheyenne_Oct 2015As the weeks of May wane and June (and hopefully summer) arrives, I’m looking forward to more “road-time.” I have at least three speaking and booksigning gigs lined up (waiting for two others to confirm), and I’m hoping to garner a few more magazine editor “okays.” In fact, I’m looking ahead to my writing future with the desire to write more short stories and articles. Chicken Soup for the Soul has new call-outs, including proposed pet books, and since I’ve had six successes with that publishing enterprise, I’m going to try for a few more. Perhaps this niche, short stories and articles, will be my future flowering shrubs; book authorship for me has grown daunting with lots of work that I’m not sure I want to continue doing. I have a few works in progress that I’d like to complete – but it hasn’t been, nor am I sure it is – the season. Maybe those will sprout and grow eventually, like my backyard lilac.

How about you? Are you blooming where you’re planted? Do you see growth in your work, whether that’s writing or a “day-job?” (or both?) Wherever you are, may the fruit of your labors be pleasantly fragrant!

apple blossoms


Gayle M. Irwin is the author of inspirational dog stories for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Sage Finds Friends, Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, and Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with my Blind Dog. She is also a contributing writer to anthologies, including the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul: Spirit of America, to be released in June, and Prairie Rose Publishing’s July release Pawprints on My Heart. Learn more at

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Spirit of America book

Love What You Do

This post by Jennifer Flaten

I don’t normally watch awards shows, but flipping through the TV channels on Sunday I caught a moment of the SAG awards. Specifically, Francis McDormand’s acceptance speech there she was on stage accepting her award for best actress in a mini-series for her performance in Olive Kitteridge.

What caught my attention about her speech, beside the fact she should give lessons on how to work self-promotion into a conversation. There she is accepting her award and she manages to tell everyone how they should watch her movie (if they haven’t already). She even goes on to give a little primer on where to get the movie.

Then she says the thing that strikes me the most, how much she loves her job. In fact, she spent a good couple of minutes talking about how much she loves what she does.

Well, you would expect that in someone who just won a SAG award, right? I think most of us might love what we do just a tiny bit more if it came with a nice shiny statue. file0001843560607

Still, I can honestly say I love what I do. Although, my job isn’t a straightforward job like novelist or accountant, it’s more of a stay-at-home, work-at-home, go-to-the office a couple days a week mash-up of a couple different things I like it. It suits me.

And, no, I am never going to get a statue (or even a plaque for what I do)….and some days I don’t love it. There are still days where I don’t want to work (whatever that day‘s work entails). I want to spend all day reading, knitting or staring out the window, you know basically anything but what is on that days agenda.

Day to day I think we focus on the things that irritate us about our work (whatever that may be) and we don’t focus enough on what we like about it.

Make today the day you spend a minute thinking about what you like (or hopefully love) about your job.

Browse my jewelry on Etsy

Gifts – Not Just Pretty Packages

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin


Gift – the word conjures up images of brightly wrapped boxes under a pine tree in December – or small, white boxes adorned with a colorful bow and containing a beautiful gemstone.

christmas tree with packagesBut, gifts don’t always come in pretty packages or contain expensive jewelry. In fact, if you’re Fred Flintstone, a gift is a bowling ball or vacuum cleaner! Seriously, though, gifts are people, even things, that brighten our lives. Gifts are treasures, large or small, that sparkle in our hearts, within our eyes, and on our faces.

Friendship is a gift. Whether down the street or across the country, those people in our lives whom we call friends bring us joy, encourage us, and uplift us.

Parents and GayleLove is a gift. Spouses, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren … all are a source of love, and they, too, bring us joy, give us encouragement, and uplift our spirits.

Health is a gift, noticed especially when we lack it.

Music is a gift. Some people have it, others don’t … but we all can enjoy it because the plethora of genres speak to various hearts and souls.

Writing is a gift … nearly ditto as with music.

One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:7: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.” It’s a gentle reminder of Who bestows my gifts of friendship, love, health, writing, and music (what I enjoy listening to, not my actual singing or playing – God didn’t grant me THAT gift!). God has blessed me with numerous friends, a loving family, good health (despite the Ding Dong and Oreo binges!), work, including my writing career, and loyal, delightful pets.

Cody_dog parkThis month I celebrate several gifts. On June 10th, my cocker spaniel Cody turns 16 years of age. Greg and I adopted Cody when he was nearly 10 years old – he came to our local Humane Society as a cast-off stud dog. Older canines are adopted less often even if they are small purebreds. One look into those mournful Spaniel eyes and I knew, though he may not live but a few years, we were meant to give him a home. It’s been six years, and they’ve been great years! Cody is one of my life’s best gifts!

My parents are another. They celebrate 54 years of marriage on June 17th. I’m an only child and I love and respect my parents immensely. Because of them, I appreciate nature, and I’m a writer.

Gayle_Lea_Casey_Leah_booksigningJune 6 – 8 is the Wyoming Writers, Inc., conference. This will be my seventh year attending writers’ conferences. Although I began writing at a young age, thanks to college and conferences, as well as experience, practice, and rejection, I am published in newspapers, magazines, and books. Writing is both a wonderful gift and a great challenge, but I LOVE doing it!

Because of writing, my friendship circle has expanded – that, too, is a great gift!

Good, perfect, simple gifts – from a colorful sunrise to the paw on my lap, from a loving hug to the writing paycheck … though they may not come in beautifully-wrapped packages, each one is a blessing I genuinely appreciate!

As the Shaker song, Simple Gifts, says:

‘Tis the gift to be simple
‘Tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight …

View this lovely song sung by the men’s ensemble Cantus on YouTube:


Gayle 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. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, to articles in Creation Illustrated and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as the Casper Journal, Douglas Budget, and River Press newspapers. Learn more at

SageBigAdventureFront-small      SageLearnsShareFront-small       Walking_FrontCover_small       Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final

Don’t lean, clean!

September 19, 2012 (768x1024)This post is by Erin Thorne. I, like many teenagers, first entered the workforce via the avenue of the fast food industry. It was a hectic environment in which employees hustled to take food orders and speedily deliver bags and trays of greasy goodness to hungry customers. We were especially busy during the breakfast, lunch, and dinner rushes. Once the hubbub had died down, there was an overall tendency to mill around and goof off.

One manager in particular had a personal vendetta against this kind of behavior. In her mind, it reflected poorly upon the establishment, and upon herself as a taskmaster. It simply wouldn’t do for us to lack a productive occupation. She had a mantra which she encouraged us all to repeat: “Don’t lean, clean.”Cheeseburger

At first, it irritated us to no end. We couldn’t take so much as a five minute breather; sure enough, this woman would swoop in and attack our indolence with her motto. I didn’t see the wisdom and practical application of this saying until many years later, when I applied it in a broader sense to my writing career.

Of course, I didn’t take the maxim literally; I abhor housework as much as anyone. I seized the spirit of it, the admonition to take advantage of one’s downtime instead of using it to lounge about. This comes in handy when I’m not sure how to move my protagonist from point A to point B in my work, when I’m stuck between plot highlights, or when I only have a small amount of time at my disposal.

I have a day planner with all of my tasks, large and small, penciled into their appropriate boxes. In the event that I have a few (or several) idle minutes, I take a peek at my datebook and check it for upcoming obligations. Often, I’ll find something in there which grabs my attention – a batch of press releases that must be sent to promote a future appearance, or perhaps someone whom I need to contact. On those occasions when writer’s block rears its ugly head, it’s helpful to do other things that are just as essential as the creation of new planner

In this way, I’m able to alleviate the feeling that I’m not achieving anything that day, in spite of the absence of inspiration. Frustration and unproductiveness are banished; impending duties are fulfilled prior to their assigned deadlines, and when I’m finally ready to sit down and write again, I can do so with the knowledge that I’ve used the interlude for my own benefit.