Encouragement, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Thanksgiving

How Do We Go Through Disappointments and Still Be Grateful?

Thankful. Photo by Jessica Bristow on Unsplash.com

In preparation for our Thanksgiving gathering, we moved the living room sofa out, rearranged the coffee table and other stuff and fit in three tables so we could be all together in one room.

Halloween used to be one of the top holidays around my house until the kids grew up and moved out. Now, there are more Fall decorations than ever before.

Not my table, but it’s pretty. Unsplash.com photo by rawpixel.com

 

Fall makes me think of harvest which makes me envision gathering and storing up. We can’t help but recognize the shorter days, cooler nights, moving faster toward bare trees, cold and winter.

This transition between seasons from bright to dark makes me think of the past year, globally and locally with terrorism, war, and mass shootings. We’ve had struggles, disappointments, and failures in our life or that of our own families.

How, then, do we get through so much disappointment and express gratitude?

If you want to take a Gratitude Quiz and compare this year’s results with next year’s, go for it. It might be an eyeopener.

But back to the original question: how do we express gratitude?

This isn’t easy, but with practice, it gets easier.

We remember the days of light. The getting up when we’re down. We look back at those times when we tried again or started all over.

We recall that we’ve faced the unknown before, and survived.  We’ve had family and friends die but we talk about the memories and what they added to our life.

We remind ourselves that even in the dark, we can push through and grow.

With daily practice, we can feel gratitude. Hopefully, we can express this to our family, friends, or a stranger that gave us support or showed a kindness when we went through the valleys.

A “Gratitude Journal” can get you into the practice of feeling grateful and eventually expressing gratitude. Here are some tips on how to keep such a journal.

I like what Jim Wallis says in his article “Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice” and share it here:

So in a year especially characterized by things that have made me deeply disappointed, concerned, worried, fearful, and angry, let me name my top 10 sources of gratitude at Thanksgiving 2017. (Not in any particular order.)

  1. Parents who put their children’s lives and well-being as primary in their own schedules.
  2. The indigenous people who led the way at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline and who demonstrated to us the vocation of stewardship for the earth.
  3. The women who are standing up to tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault — and the men who have called out their peers.
  4. Black pastors who are willing to speak the truth to power and protect their young people from increasing racism by finding themselves in the streets and not just in their pulpits.
  5. White pastors who love their people enough to preach the gospel to them, even if their white parishioners are motivated more by the agenda of Fox News than the gospel.
  6. Black and brown Christians who have called out their white brothers and sisters who say they didn’t vote for Trump because of his racial bigotry, but for other reasons, by saying I guess that wasn’t a deal breaker for you.
  7. Global church leaders who are willing to exemplify the body of Christ as the most racially diverse community in the world in sharp contrast to the American bubble where racial geography trumps theology, and for American church leaders who are willing to denounce “America First” as a heresy.
  8. Principled Republican conservatives who have been willing to stand up morally and politically to Donald Trump — like Mike Gerson, Peter Wehner, David Brooks, and Russell Moore.
  9. Conversations with people who tell the truth like Bryan Stevenson, Michelle Alexander, William Barber, Brittany Packnett, Margaret Atwood, Valarie Kaur, Eboo Patel, Joe Kennedy III, and Mark Shriver.
  10. Thanks be to the God who loves and sustains us while we try to figure out our strategy every day!

Full article here.

So this Thanksgiving, as I gather with my extended family, the meat eaters and the three vegans, we come together to share the harvest, reconnect and celebrate another year of living.

I wish you and yours a Thanksgiving meal full of reconnections, laughter, and love. I’m grateful to you for reading!

thank you card
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

Encouragement, Writing

When You Need a Kick in the Writing Butt

Kick in the Butt by Tiana 101 Meme Center

Half of August is gone and September is rolling into view.

A lot of stressful events occurred in the last few weeks (life between the sheets of paper) but they aren’t my stories to tell right now. They belong to my family but I can share some of my own more positive days.

I’m deep in the middle of a UCLA online writing class and to be blunt, it’s kicking my butt.

Sometimes we need a boot in the behind. And not to sound like a masochist, but it’s a good thing. The class contains a lot of great short stories to read, discussion with other students, and here’s where the shoe hits the soft spot, I must create and write a story every week.

Like everyone else, there’s a ton of stuff to do as a parent, sibling, daughter, and friend that could be done instead of reading and writing for a summer class.

But, I’m viewing this as a test of patience and persistence on my writing journey. Which reminds me of this quote:

keep calm poster
I read this whenever I want to give up and know I shouldn’t

 

At first, the assignment was 100 words, then 150 words, rising to 400 words (easy-peasy) but then we began to climb the word count mountain. Now it’s 500 words, and the final is a complete short story of 750-1250 words due in three weeks when I’m leaving to the UK. (I know, boo-hoo) 🙃

Although I may sound whiny I am enjoying the process. Sometimes it’s good to get back into ‘school.’

So, I thought I’d share a couple of items that may benefit my blog readers who are writers. Maybe you need a little inspiration to stay on the writing wagon.

Reprise

“Don’t let yourself set page goals, or think in terms of what gets done in a given session of work. Spend the time–the session is what counts, the time. The goal should be two hours, or three, or four, however many. Did you spend the time? If the answer is yes, no other questions. Cultivate patience of the tidal kind. This day’s work. It doesn’t have to be especially productive–no matter how well or ‘not well’ it seems to go in a day, it is always going well if you’re working, if you’re making the time. The good things will come if you’re making the time.” Richard Bausch

And now for an excellent video:

 

I hope you enjoyed the quote and video. Whatever your chosen passion may be, a good kick in the derrière may drive you over the hump and into the desired place you want to arrive.

Encouragement, Writing

Feel the Hard Things, Focus and Write

Feel the hard things, focus and write.

Sometimes you need a push, a big one, not a nudge.

After a week of online writing classes, two (what was I thinking?), I felt drained, ready to throw the pen, shut the laptop down.

I needed to get still for a day, shut out the noise on the TV and my head.

If you’re lucky, it’s in those times when the universe, sends you messages and you listen.

The first message was a quote from Stephen King:

Writers and writing

I shared the quote on the closed Facebook group for the writers online class. If I felt like I couldn’t go on, I was sure others might feel that way, too. Many did.

The second quote came from a manifesto written by Courtney E. Martin. I read this article today, by Maria Popova, in her weekly Sunday newsletter, the wonderful Brain Pickings. Go to her site to read her inspiring post.

Courtney E. Martin, author and Wendy McNaughton, illustrator.

 

The poster is available through Etsy with proceeds benefiting Hedgebrook, a writers residency program. On Popova’s site, there are three different illustrations with links to purchase a framed poster.

Have a great week and keep creating!

Brain Pickings website: Creative Resilence and the Artist Duty

Encouragement, Writing

How to Murder a Draft, Resurrect A Better Story

 

 

Do you ever want to throw your work in progress away? Chuck the manuscript you’ve worked on for years?

If you’re a writer, you’ve been there and done that.

The last few months I’ve taken writing classes with an editor, Toni Lopopolo and her assistant, Lisa Angle. We’re a small group of writers who brave the weekly sessions with Toni and Lisa so we can become better writers.

I’ve learned I must swing a machete through a draft to become a better writer.

Wield your writing machete like Danny Trejo

Machete-wielding is a dirty job. You must be merciless. This will hurt, but it’s for your own good.

These tips will help you murder your draft:

  1. Pluck out backstory in the first pages.
  2. Delete the flowery prose that serves no purpose. This includes adverbs and -ing words.
  3. Hack out the ‘terrible 20‘ words that result in the passive voice.
  4. Throw away the ‘filler words.‘ They’re the excess fat.
  5. Cut out the numerous body parts “Her head swiveled,” “eyes squinted,” “eyebrows arched.”
  6. Take out stage directions disguised as physical movements.
  7. Remove events that don’t affect the goal. Either it doesn’t belong or the writer hasn’t communicated its importance.
  8. Slash the conversational dialogue.

These tips can revive your murdered or half-dead draft:

  1. Read “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers,” by Renni Browne and Dave King, before you start your revisions.
  2. The story must start on the first page.
  3. Write in scenes. A scene has a beginning, middle, and end (mini-arc). Each scene must drive the story forward. Tips on how to write a scene.
  4. Events, characters, description all must mean something. Remember Chekov’s gun?
  5. Enter a scene with the story already in motion, then leave early with an important outcome left hanging.
  6. Put a comma before ‘said,’ and a period before or after an action.
  7. Add danger and desire for drama or tension.
  8. Pump in great dialogue that’s confrontational, with opposing agendas. This drives the story forward.

Check out Toni’s website and find many more tips.

I enjoyed this presentation: The Most Important Writing Skill to Master and ‘What is Voice.”

Thanks for reading, double thanks for sharing this post. 🙂