My One Word for 2020 #OneWord2020

 

pine-cone-sig

 

I was going to switch this up a bit for 2020 but guess what? I’m not. This is (unfortunately) perfect:

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.

One Word for 2019 was: Move. Seriously. Like Move Yer Arse, Girl! Or, you know, something nicer, like, Excuse me but would you mind moving? Same, same. Getting unstuck was sort of the idea.

I’m still stuck but heartily sorry for it and flailing for a helping hand out of the pit.

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.

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.

Well. Isn’t that something? And here we are again. Another year, another word. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

 

I’ve noticed my blog has its share of posts about overwhelm. Just a few, really, not, like, dozens. Ahem. So I got to thinking about being overwhelmed. Too much. Too many things. So, naturally, I need to make lists. And prioritize. That will work. Except for the times it doesn’t. Which is to say always. Or never. Whatever.

I’ve got to sort out my priorities. This is more important than that. That is more pressing than the other. Things get put on The List, shifted, knocked down a number, back up, and so forth and, soon enough, nothing is done.

So, instead of putting my life on a piece of paper in order of importance, I’m changing my mindset. (FYI, this is always, always, a good idea. You should try it.) I’ve always sucked at multi-tasking but I’m not sure that’s what this is anymore. I’m thinking it’s more that I’m utterly unfocused.

So here is my ironic focus word for 2020:

FOCUS

I was at a cemetery last month and grabbed my phone to take a picture.

When I tapped on the screen to focus on the little pinecone in my face, the gravestones blurred in the background. And vice versa. Right? Because whether it’s a mobile phone or a fancy camera, it cannot focus on more than one thing at a time.

I hadn’t written my One Word post yet but, there, right then, in that cemetery, I wrote it in my head.

I’m not prioritizing the pinecone over the gravestone. But if I try to focus on both of them, they’re both blurry and I don’t get either one. If I tap and zoom in on one, I get an amazing shot. Then, *tap*, another great shot. Done.

Obviously, there will be times when something will demand my focus be drawn to that issue or situation but I will focus on it and move on.

If I’m constantly trying to focus on everything, then everything is out of focus.

Narrow my focus and, boom, I’ve got a clear shot.

As always, a definition (because I’m a nerd):

 

focus

/fōkəs/

noun

  • the center of interest or activity.

center, focal point, center of attention

Get me a spotlight, man. I’m shining it on whatever shit needs attention. Laser focused, my friends. 

  • the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.

clear, clear-cut, well-defined

Producing a well-defined, clear-cut visual? Please hold. Your patience is appreciated. The clear visual will be with you shortly. 

verb

  • (of a person or their eyes) adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

Seeing clearly? Yes, please. Adapting and becoming able to see clearly are HUGE challenges for me. Two great goals.  

  • pay particular attention to.

give emphasis to, highlight

Dude, this makes me want to whip out one of those big, neon yellow markers and highlight the hell out of the book of my life. On it!

 

I’m going to focus this year. I know I said this last year but 2020 will see another book from me. The manuscripts are sitting here glaring at me. They are more patient than I.

Happy New Year, my friends. ❤ Here’s to your goals, aspirations, resolutions, or whatever floats your boat. Cheers! 🥂

 

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 2020.

 

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! ❄️

 

On the Edge of a Raindrop ~ Holiday Sale #FREE #BookSale

 

Universal Link

 

As a little gift to you, gentle readers, my second collection of flash fiction is free for the holidays.

Enjoy these bite-sized delights between driving, eating, and unwrapping.

It’s the perfect book to bring along when you’re stuck in traffic, waiting for never-on-time Aunt Jackie, or sneaking out of the room because your cousin brought up that wedding thing. Again.

If you want a collection to dip in and out of during the holiday season, here’s your chance to grab a copy.

On the Edge of a Raindrop is FREE! You can get a copy HERE. 

Also: Hinting at Shadows is still on sale for the holidays. You can get a copy for just 99c/99p HERE. 

Happy Holidays! ⛄️

 

Here’s what some people are saying about On the Edge of a Raindrop:

 

Brentyn’s prose is poetic…

for those who enjoy being able to read shorter works without losing the impact of a story.

It’s amazing what can be conveyed in just a few sentences

I read these stories slowly savoring the words and connecting to her prose much in the same way I do with poetry.

I could see a whole life in a paragraph, so insightful and artfully captured are they.

 

Happy reading, all! 🖤⛄️

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. 🚽🎁 

 

Hinting at Shadows ~ Holiday Sale #99cents #99p #BookSale

 

Universal Link

 

October has come and gone. Whisked away like colorful leaves caught in autumn breezes. My annual fall sale is over but the holidays are approaching and the spirit of the season has filled me.

This is a great time of year to enjoy some bite-sized morsels between driving, eating, and unwrapping. For those who want a collection to dip in and out of during the holiday season, here’s your chance to grab a copy. (If you prefer paperbacks, these slim volumes are a perfect stocking stuffer. Just saying.)

I’m putting Hinting at Shadows on sale for the holidays. ⛄️ Because why not? You can get a copy for just 99c/99p HERE. 

FYI: I’m putting On the Edge of a Raindrop on sale (FREE) the first week of December. Watch for that one. Cheers! 🍷

Happy Holidays! ❄️

 

Here’s what some people are saying about Hinting at Shadows:

 

Short and brilliant…

beautifully and richly crafted. Brentyn has a skill with the written word that just leaves you breathless…

Every story is a pearl. The writing is exquisite… 

The author’s haunting prose very cleverly invokes strong images with the minimum of words. Sarah Brentyn delivers something quite different, written beautifully…

Hinting at Shadows…is sheer poetry in the garb of flash fiction.

 

If you’d like to download a copy, here’s the link:
Hinting at Shadows 🖤❄️

 

Happy reading, all!

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 🖤

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! ❄️

 

My One Word for 2018 #OneWord2018

 

pine-cone-sig

 

Well, I did a bang up job last year with my One Word for 2017: Accept. I didn’t. I raged, raged against the…everything. It was brutal choosing a focus for the year and I faltered. Failed. Time to move on.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I don’t do ‘resolutions’. However, I do believe (previous failure aside) a focus for the year is an excellent idea.

This is how I figured 2017 would work out. It did not. But, still, props for trying:

Choosing ONE word for the entire year? Not easy. I finally narrowed it down to three:

Present

Engage

Accept

I want to be more present in my life and I realized that, if I fully engage, I can be. And to engage, I need to accept some things. (This is how I worked it out, anyway.)

Therefore, my one word this year is:

Accept

 

I’m going to try again.

I’ve really had a time of it, this year, choosing a word. I even thought of cheating and picking two (or three). But, if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to do it right. So I’ll work it out again.

I like the words I narrowed it down to:

Present

Mindful

 

I had passing thoughts of choosing something like Assertiveness, Determination, or Focus but they didn’t feel quite right. It’s just that I’ve been yammering on this past year about standing my ground, choosing me, sticking up for myself, keeping on target, saying “NO”, etc. so these seemed good, too.

It’s all about me, right? Sure. Why not? I went into this weird line of hyphenated “self” stuff:

Self-Esteem

Self-Motivation

Self-Care

Self-Awareness

Self-Kindness

Self… Er…

Self… Um…

Self-Centered

Self…ish

 

Crap. Never mind.

But I do need something “self”-like.

So, when continuing to narrow down my choice, I decided it must include me.

 

I’m sick of being stressed-out and overwhelmed, of not doing what I love, of doing things I’d really rather not be doing. I’m sick of ALL OF THE THINGS!

 

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.

Forget it! I’m done. Or, at least, my OneWord is done. And here it is:

Self

This is my favorite definition from Webster’s New Explorer College Dictionary:

 

self

combining form: to, with, for, or toward oneself

 

See? I’ll be kind to, gentle with, caring for, considerate toward…myself. Brilliant.

By choosing Self, I’ll be incorporating all sorts of other wonderful words I’ve been thinking of here: Awareness, Mindful, Focus, Kindness… How can I have Self in front of me and actively abuse or dismiss it? I cannot. It would be awkward. And weird. And mean.

As I said last year, this is not going to be easy. I’ve got to change my whole mindset to get to the point where Self is what I focus on first. I’m up for the challenge though.

I’m taking my Self out of here, wishing you a Happy New Year and hoping you all can find a perfect OneWord for 2018. ❤

 

 

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 2018.