The Grass is Always Greener

 

 

You know the proverbial grass is always greener on the other side. Well, it’s literally true here. I’m perched on dried-out, shriveled-up, light brown blades. Looking out the window, it’s like I’m living in the desert. I eventually had to call someone. Here’s what he said:

“Your lawn is really stressed.”

Oh, man. I laughed.

There’s so much stress in this house, it’s seeping outside? I mean, our lawn is stressed? It’s kind of funny.

 

I recently wrote a post about some silly perks during this difficult time but, that said, it’s tough. What with fear, sickness, isolation, uncertainty… The normal, everyday stress that plagues us has been plugged into an amplifier. I guess that’s what happens and we’ll just have to ride it out. But that’s life right now, isn’t it? Yeah. It is.

But here’s the thing, my bloggy friends:

Stress looks different for everyone. It feels different. It comes from different sources. Always has. But now, with the shared experience of a global pandemic, everyone is supposedly “going through the same thing”.

I get where this is coming from but it’s wrong. The assumption is that everyone’s stress looks the same right now. And alleviating that stress looks the same as well.

It doesn’t.

It never has and that holds true now. There is no one-size-fits-all.

We all have our own stress. We all handle it differently. We all need individual coping strategies.

My neighbor’s grass may be greener, but perhaps, when I walk over to admire their lovely lawn, I notice their front door is hanging off its hinges. Maybe their house has termites. Who knows?

So be kind to yourselves. Don’t buy into the notion that, because we’re “all dealing with the same thing”, we should all be able to find relief with the same things.

If you like yoga, downward-dog do it. If you like meditating, breathe in…breathe out. If you like running, go for it. (I, personally, do not. Unless I’m being chased by a bear. Or is that when you should stay still? I don’t know. And sincerely hope I don’t stumble upon a bear anytime soon.) Take bubble baths, hug trees, drink tea, garden, bake… Whatever floats your boat. Sail away, my friends. ❤

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

How are you, gentle readers? How’s the stress level around your house? How are you dealing with it?

 

On the Edge of a Raindrop #BookReview by Graeme Cumming

Every time one of my books gets a review, I’m delightfully surprised and so grateful. Every. Time. When I see a review from someone who either doesn’t like short fiction, doesn’t read it, or prefers epic novels yet loved my collection, well, it’s a remarkable feeling. It is. And I’ve seen more than a few reviews like that.

When someone prefers to sink their teeth into a story with lots of characters, worldbuilding, and/or action, it’s quite the compliment when they enjoy my little book of flash. This review for On the Edge of a Raindrop, by Graeme Cumming, is one of those. It’s brilliant. I’m humbled by the praise from this author:

Her ability to capture the essence of an emotion or a moment in so few words is staggering.

Savour each morsel…

In a single line, she can encapsulate something that I and many other authors would struggle to do in several pages.

Thank you, Graeme! 💖

Please stop by his blog and read the full review here. It really is brilliant.

He’s recently released a book, Carrion, the sequel to Raven’s Gathering, both of which have gathered a number of great reviews. (Pun completely intended.) Do pop over and check out his books.

 

Reblog Lemon Shark

 

On the Edge of a Raindrop #BookReview by Harmony Kent

What a wonderful surprise to find a review for On the Edge of a Raindrop. It made me smile all week. I needed that smile. A lovely 5-star review from Harmony Kent (who has a rating system that notes: ‘I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to. I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning…’) Yup. Smiling. 🙂

Brilliantly done.

In just a few words, the author evokes so many different emotions and moods.

Thank you, Harmony! 💖

Please stop by, read the full review, and explore her blog. A prolific author whose writing ranges from non-fiction to romance, poetry to post-apocalyptic. There’s something for everyone so do check out her books.

Harmony also writes for Story Empire: This is the home of seven bestselling authors who share a passion for all things related to writing, publishing, and promoting fiction. 

Reblog Lemon Shark

 

When 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.

 

I found this post from last year and thought how fitting, in a very different way, it was this year. The struggle to find our place during this uncertainty. Our craving for unpredictability then, when it arrives, our wish for stability. The wariness. The need to communicate. The promise of an unfurling bud turning into something beautiful not being quite enough anymore. 

Be well, gentle readers. Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Create your own joy. Dance between raindrops and turn your face to the sun when it shines.

 

My random thoughts in (a bit over) 200 words.

 

 

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

 

My Blog is Special

 

pink flower in spring

 

Want to know my secret?

Do you want to know what makes my blog so special? Why I stand out like a fuchsia flower in a mess of dirt and weeds?

It’s the clean lines. The crisp space. The typo-free paragraphs, easy-to-read word choice, frequent fragments, awesome alliteration…

There is nothing special.

 

There is no special here. This blog is just a blog. I am just a girl. Standing in front of my readers, asking them to love me.

I like my bloggy friends. They talk to me. And listen. Which is not easy as I can go on a bit. I ramble. I freewrite and hit “publish”.

That’s bad. But, also, good.

I feel like we’re hanging out in a coffee shop, sipping a mocha latte, you know?

Better still, sitting at a bar with a bottle of wine in front of us. *pours another glass* Cheers!

If you read this, you’ve pretty much met me.

This post? This whole blog? It’s just me. Unfiltered me.

The completely awesome thing about you is that you talk to me even when the popular kids walk by.

There are far more fashionable, trendy, nichey, blogs out there yet, week after week, month after month, readers still visit and chat with me.

And that’s pretty special.

 

My Sunday (on Tuesday) thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you have a nicheless blog? Do you feel like you’re “just another blog” in the big blogosphere? Do you care?

 

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.

 

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.

 

Hinting at Shadows #BookReview by Harmony Kent

 

 

First wonderful surprise was seeing a tweet with the hashtag #amreading followed by my book. I smiled all day. What a lovely thing to do.

But look what I found today… A glowing 5-star review. From Harmony Kent, a multi-genre author with more than ten books to her name. (And a rating system that notes: ‘I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to. I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.’) So, yeah, I’m thrilled.

Short and brilliant

I reckon I shall be re-reading this one over and over again.

I read this in one go and couldn’t put it down. It gets a solid five stars from me.

Thank you, Harmony! 💖

Please stop by, read the full review, and explore her blog. Her writing ranges from non-fiction to romance, poetry to post-apocalyptic. (With a new holiday romance due out the 6th of December.) There’s something for everyone so do check out her books.

She also writes for Story Empire: This is the home of six bestselling authors who share a passion for all things related to writing, publishing, and promoting fiction. 

 

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

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 🖤