When the Year Grows Old

 

 

When the Year Grows Old

And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget–
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net…

But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her…

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

The year has grown old, died, and been reborn. It is ‘new’. There are beginnings. Yet I acutely feel the year growing old.

When the clock struck midnight December 31st, when the calendar ceased to count days for 2019…what happened?

Nothing.

It’s as if I’m waiting for some unknown force to press the ‘reset’ button.

As I work on my One Word for 2020, I realize I’m stuck. Not in my decision of which word to choose but in the way I feel caught at the end of last year. In a time when I listened to the wind whistling a melancholy tune and brittle leaves scraped the window panes, begging to be let inside.

When I had the look of a frightened bird flapping helplessly inside a net.

Yet there is a difference. The trap has weakened, loosened. I can breathe.

I find familiarity in the world around me and there is comfort and beauty in that. In the moments when I take that first sip of coffee, tie my hair up with an elastic band, lace my warm, winter boots. When I lose myself in sunlight creating intricate patterns on my floor or notice wind catching a hydrangea flower hidden since last spring.

Sometimes, when the stress is too much, when the weight is too heavy, when the ropes are too tight, our struggles increase the pain. Sometimes relaxing into the discomfort and fear is all we can do and, sometimes, that shifts our world enough to see the beauty.

 

Health and happiness to you, gentle readers.

 

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts from the Heart

 

holiday-charity-gifts

 

I love this post from 2016. It’s become an annual tradition here at Lemon Shark. Anyway, here it is, my friends.

If you’ve got a couple (or a ton) of last-minute gifts to get, these amazing organizations let you email/text the recipient or print your own card. No waiting, just giving. Donations help those in need as well as give your loved ones a gift from the heart.

Quick, easy, heartfelt. ❤ 🎁 The perfect last-minute gifts:

 

Environment / Nature

ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION

arbor-day-post

Mission: “to improve water and air quality, slow climate change, and reduce poverty by planting trees.”

These Trees in Celebration certificates are lovely and every single dollar you spend plants a tree. They also offer “Give-A-Tree E-Cards” to send a holiday greeting with meaning. Because. Trees. Behold the beautiful trees! 🌲

 

Animals / Wildlife 

ASPCA

aspca-post

Mission: “animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected…”

Show your love for our four-legged friends. Give a holiday gift card in honor of a beloved furchild. I can’t stand the cuteness of that puppy. You know you want to help these little munchkins. Available in ecards.

 

Hunger / Poverty

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL

heifer-post

Mission: “to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.”

Choose a donation and print it out, email, or text with a custom message to the gift recipient. Or you can give a gift card (to print out or send via email) so they can choose their own donation.

* My personal favorite gift to give is honeybees. They are awesome. Here are 2 reasons why:

“Food for Life: Honey is the only food that includes all the essential elements necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and even water. Its unique chemical makeup also allows it to be preserved indefinitely.”

“Farmers’ Helpers: In the process of searching for nectar, bees pollinate plants. The placement of a single colony can potentially double local fruit and vegetable yields.”

Isn’t that incredible? It’s the bee’s knees. 🐝

 

KIVA

kiva-post

Mission: “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. We celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.”

Print these out or email them to the gift recipient and they can start loaning right away. Change someone’s life, get paid back, help someone else… And on it goes. Making spirits bright.

 

Childhood Cancer/Childhood Diseases

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL

st-judes-post

Mission: “Finding cures. Saving children. St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”

Please do check out the site if you don’t already know about St. Jude Children’s Hospital. And, if you do, well… ‘Nuff said.

Printable Christmas Cards

Ecards for Christmas

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Printable Hanukkah Cards

Ecards for Hanukkah

 

❄️ Have a beautiful holiday season! ❄️

 

Who Gives A Crap? #Holidays

 

 

The holidays are fun! We all feel relaxed and happy. Except for when we feel stressed out and irritable. Because, honestly, holidays can be stressful. (Just saying.)

Sometimes, around this time of year, you might want to say to hell with it all and go home to grab a bottle of Merlot and binge-watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer or whatever floats your boat.

And leading up to the holidays, after your eyes have gone buggy from shopping online or your nerves are frayed from standing in lines for six hours, you may be tempted to say to hell with it all and go home to grab a bottle of vodka and binge-watch whatever Netflix recommends.

When someone asks what you’re getting for your in-laws, parents, partner, or kids, you may just turn to them and say, “Who Gives A Crap!”

I do. And Who Gives A Crap toilet paper company does. And, now, you do. Because you’re going to gift toilet paper to all the people in your life.

It’s a wicked good idea. (No shit, right?)

Everyone uses the toilet. Everyone. On. Your. List. (Except your dog but he can totally learn.) So toilet paper is, like, the most thoughtful gift ever. It’s helpful and useful and won’t add clutter for minimalists or anyone trying to KonMari their crap.

 

They even have holiday gift wrapping. How cool is that?

Their mantras (of sorts). (With parentheticals from me.)

 

This toilet tissue is made from recycled paper or forest-friendly bamboo so you are helping the environment. It’s dye-free and soft so you are being nice to your bum. And 50% of the proceeds are given to charity so you are giving two gifts for the price of one.

From their site: 40% of the world’s population don’t have access to a toilet…More people in the world have mobile phones than toilets. 

Who gives a crap? They do. (Seriously, read this page to see what they’re doing.)

 

PROTECT: Environment / Nature / Animals / Wildlife 

HELP: Poverty / Childhood Illnesses / Preventable Diseases 

There IS NO BAD HERE.
It’s. ALL. GOOD.

 

Where to buy:
AU site
UK site
US site 

 

Toilet paper. The PERFECT gift for everyone on your list. 🚽🎁 

 

My Brain Freeze

 

 

I looked at the frost on my flowers the other day and thought, “Huh. That’s like my brain right now.”

You know when you were a kid and ate ice cream too fast or slurped one of those slushie things? It was like, “Whoa! Brain freeze!” Remember that?

Yeah. That’s not what I’m talking about at all. It’s more like stumbling out of bed at ridiculous-o-clock, shuffling into the kitchen, opening the cabinet, and staring at the coffee mugs.

Almost daily now, I find myself in the middle of a task and I get brain freeze. I just stop what I’m doing and my mind goes to sleep for a second. What was I doing? Why did I come in here? What was I looking for?

This has happened to me many times, of course. Usually in the early morning. But now it’s like permafrost—it lasts all day.

On top of that, I think magical things are going to happen. Not consciously but in a “this-will-be-completed-with-no-assistance-from-me” sort of way.

If I stare at the coffee maker, I will have coffee. If I stare at the computer screen, my page will be edited.

I’m getting time back by focusing on what’s important and ditching the rest (which is awesome) but I’m not getting the stuff done I’ve made time for. I know. Irony is delicious. Just don’t eat it too fast.

Maybe I need to get used to having that bit of extra time before my frostbitten brain can thaw and function properly.

ThoughtBubble

My Sunday thoughts in (around) 200 words.

 

I know everyone wonders what they went into the kitchen for at one time or another but, realistically, how often does this happen to you? Should I be worried? 😉

I think I just need to adjust to this new-ish schedule. Hopefully, after a transition period, this will mean I actually finish the books I’m working on and get them out into the world! *fingers crossed* 

 

 

I’ve Known This Season

 

 

Four years ago, I wrote a post about a leaf. It was the last one on the tree outside my window.

And it would not let go.

Some people commented that it was possible the tree was the one who wouldn’t let go.

A few days ago, I was reminded of that post when I wrote a tweet about a tree anticipating the upcoming season. How the tree would be bare and vulnerable. How it had been through this before.

So, yes, I’ve known this season.

Many seasons of losing bits of myself. Allowing the chlorophyll to seep away and show the world my true colors. Making myself vulnerable while being brave enough to bare leafless branches. Letting go of the leaves I’ve worked so hard to grow. Ones I thought I needed.

The leaves are just beginning to turn. They are changing. Dying. I need to remember there is beauty in these deaths.

I will survive. I can let go.

Dried-up dreams are getting caught in autumn breezes and whipping around my feet. I can let them scratch my ankles or I can dance with them.

ThoughtBubble

 

🍃🍂

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less. 

 

This tweet also inspired a response to Sue Vincent’s #WritePhoto over at Lemon Shark Reef. I love the way one, tiny thought can bloom into a flash, a poem, or a navel-gazing blog post (or even a book). It’s part of the magic and beauty of the writing process. 

 

How about you, gentle readers? What is changing for you this season? Have you let go of anything recently? 

 

Just a reminder: Hinting at Shadows is on sale for only 0.99 during October. 🎃
If you’d like to download a copy, here’s the link:
Hinting at Shadows 🖤

What I Did Way Back BW (Before Writing) #BlogHop

 


 

I’m going to take this super awesome, fun, interesting blog hop and make it incredibly boring. It’s a talent. You can be jealous. I’m good with that.

Just taking a stroll down my cobblestone memory lane.

What did I do before I started writing?

I didn’t.

Wait. What? Let’s rephrase. I didn’t not start writing. I didn’t do stuff before I started writing. Except learn to hold a pencil.

There’s not a year in my life that isn’t connected to writing in some way. The years have all been accounted for. ALL OF THE YEARS!

 

 

What did I do way back before writing?

Short answer: Nothing. I’ve always been writing.

Slightly longer (and more technical) answer: Learning to crawl and walk, graduating from formula and baby food… At least I’m assuming that since I’ve no recollection but I’m eating solid foods and walking on my own (most days, anyway). I’ve had odd jobs over the years (like bartending) to pay the bills but have always been writing (teaching writing, studying writing, writing writing…). You get the idea.

 

 

Marcia Meara started (perhaps unwittingly) this popular blog hop (perhaps just me) about what people did before they stared writing. In Marcia’s posts, she talks about painting. Which is what she did before turning to writing. (There are pictures… Go. Look. They are awesome.) Then she asks her readers: “What did YOU do before you started writing? I’d love to know!”

So, now, it is your turn, as these things go. What did you do before you started writing? Write a blog post about it, leave a comment, send an owl…whatever. 🙂 Happy writing!

 

Beauty Is Not Enough

 

 

Spring

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.

Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

It’s spring. Though it feels more like a distant cousin. A time of year in which we struggle to find our place during the uncertainty of seasons. When we throw off our jackets and listen to blue jays. Then huddle in our heavy coats and listen to howling winds. When we both turn our face to the sunshine and dance between raindrops.

It is that unpredictability we crave when the earth beneath our feet is frozen solid in winter or lush with summer greens. But the fickle springtime plays in quicksand, leaving us wishing for stability, making us wary.

Sometimes we know what we know, regardless of the beauty around us. Sometimes in spite of it. And, sometimes, it just ceases to be enough to quiet us.

It is then we raise our voices. To communicate. To be heard. To say that we will not be lulled into silence with the unfurling bud and promise of a bright and beautiful thing.

We will not hush.

We will shout.

 

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Here’s to finding your voice, being heard, and speaking up for yourselves. Happy shouting, gentle readers. ❤

You can read the entire poem here: Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

My One Word for 2019 #OneWord2019

 

pine-cone-sig

 

Wow. So this is fun. I love reading posts from past years and seeing I’ve learned my lesson…

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

So, last year, my One Word for 2018 was: Self.

It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

The year before that, my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

And…here I go again. Another year, another word, another promise. Despite everything, I really do believe in the power of focus words (and in the power of me not failing). Success to me and my One Word!

It’s difficult choosing just one word when we writers love language the way we do, but, unlike past years, it wasn’t too bad this time. I’ll say right up front, I did shop around for synonyms because it’s not a pretty word but, eh, what the hell. Here it is, my friends:

MOVE

As I said, not the most beautiful word but, seriously, check this out:

 

move

/mo͞ov/

verb

  • go in a specified direction or manner; change position.

proceed, progress, advance

Proceed? Advance? Count me in.

  • change or cause to change from one state, opinion, sphere, or activity to another.

change, shift one’s ground, change one’s tune

Changing opinion/activity as we speak (or, read, whatever). Already whistling another tune, my friends. Done.

  • take action, act, take steps, do something

inspire, prompt, motivate

“she was moved to act”

Dude, just reading this makes me want to DO SOMETHING. Watch me take action. I am motivated! I am moved to act!

  • provoke a strong feeling, especially of sorrow or sympathy, in.

stir up (an emotion) in someone

affect, touch, upset, disturb, make an impression on

“I was deeply moved by the story”

This. Yes. This is what I hope to accomplish with my writing so I’m keeping this one in here. I would love to provoke strong feelings in readers. Affect people. Even upset or disturb them with my stories. It’s all good as long as it makes an impression.

  • make progress; develop in a particular manner or direction.

make progress, advance, develop

I’m marching here. I am. Advancing. Stepping ALL OVER the enemies: self-doubt, imposter syndrome, procrastination, stress, overwhelm… I am making progress!

 

I’m moving. And 2019 will see another book from me. (Preferably two.) Here’s to moving, my friends! ❤

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2019.

 

Light & Hope at Midwinter

 

 

In many cultures, past and present, February 1st is a promise of release from the dreary darkness and bitter cold of winter. Beneath the frozen earth, life stirs. This midwinter celebration, halfway between the first day of winter and the first day of spring, gives us hope.

Like watching your children grow, you look up one morning and say, “When did you get so tall?” Those extra minutes of sunlight each day since the Winter Solstice have accumulated. Lift your eyes, look around, become aware of the light. The lengthening of days is a slow process—but the change is now noticeable.

The pressure to set goals, reflect on last year, or make resolutions to better ourselves is associated with the calendar New Year.

The first day of February offers a fresh start. It is about new beginnings. It brings knowledge that the seeds we planted are deep within—there is life underneath the frost and snow. These plants will soon break through the soil, reaching and growing.

Trust that there is life in the darkness and there you will find hope.

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Health & happiness to you, my friends. ❤

 

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts from the Heart

 

holiday-charity-gifts

 

I love this post from 2016 so I’m publishing the ideas again this year. Donations help those in need as well as give your loved ones a gift from the heart.

If you’ve got a couple (or a ton) of last-minute gifts to get, these amazing organizations let you email/text the recipient or print your own card. No waiting, just giving.

Quick, easy, heartfelt. ❤ The perfect last-minute gifts:

 

Environment / Nature

ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION

arbor-day-post

Mission: “to improve water and air quality, slow climate change, and reduce poverty by planting trees.”

These Trees in Celebration certificates are lovely and every single dollar you spend plants a tree. They also offer “Give-A-Tree E-Cards” to send a holiday greeting with meaning. Because. Trees. Behold the beautiful trees! 🌲

 

Animals / Wildlife 

ASPCA

aspca-post

Mission: “animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected…”

Show your love for our four-legged friends. Give a holiday gift card in honor of a beloved furchild. I can’t stand the cuteness of that puppy. You know you want to help these little munchkins. Available in ecards.

 

Hunger / Poverty

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL

heifer-post

Mission: “to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.”

Choose a donation and print it out, email, or text with a custom message to the gift recipient. Or you can give a gift card (to print out or send via email) so they can choose their own donation.

* My personal favorite gift to give is honeybees. They are awesome. Here are 2 reasons why:

“Food for Life: Honey is the only food that includes all the essential elements necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and even water. Its unique chemical makeup also allows it to be preserved indefinitely.”

“Farmers’ Helpers: In the process of searching for nectar, bees pollinate plants. The placement of a single colony can potentially double local fruit and vegetable yields.”

Isn’t that incredible? It’s the bee’s knees. 🐝

 

KIVA

kiva-post

Mission: “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. We celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.”

Print these out or email them to the gift recipient and they can start loaning right away. Change someone’s life, get paid back, help someone else… And on it goes. Making spirits bright.

 

Childhood Cancer/Childhood Diseases

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL

st-judes-post

Mission: “Finding cures. Saving children. St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”

Please do check out the site if you don’t already know about St. Jude Children’s Hospital. And, if you do, well… ‘Nuff said.

Printable Christmas Cards

Ecards for Christmas

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Printable Hanukkah Cards

Ecards for Hanukkah

 

   ❄️ Have a beautiful holiday season! ❄️