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I’ve been a little AWOLYK (absent without letting you know) in both the blogging world and also in social media.

Some of you may wonder what’s been occupying my time because I haven’t written much at all lately or even showcased many of my photos. My Facebook page looks pretty vacant except for items posted by my daughters when they tag me and I finally made the decision to stop using Twitter. For me, it’s a waste of time.

I guess I’ve chosen to unplug myself for awhile. So what have I been doing? Papa and I did take a little trip to visit family for a few days, enjoying the time off to spend with loved ones and just relaxing.

But lately, I’ve been lacking in the inspiration to write department. Frankly, I haven’t felt inspired to do much of anything very productive. Call it the dog days of August, but I’ve been feeling this way since the beginning of July. And it continues.  Perhaps it’s just the summer doldrums….or not.

Whatever the case, I’m taking a hiatus.  I began blogging pretty regularly here at Mama’s Empty Nest over six years ago and before that, I wrote sporadically on another blog site. So that equates to about seven years of writing from my heart and soul.

My inspiration to create this blog evolved from finding myself somewhat at wit’s end while dealing with the empty nest syndrome when my last child completed his college education and set off for new horizons launching his career far from home.

Add the fact that my last living parent had passed away by then and I turned to what I always do best when I’m overcome by thoughts, emotions, and perplexing situations – pour out my heart in words.

But that was six years ago. I came to terms with my empty nest and a lot of other life changes and those words I tapped out on my computer screen to share with you helped me do so. My hope is that in some way, my words encouraged others as well.

So where will my words take me from here? I know there are more words to come…they’re just not coming to me right now. Because of that, I’ve decided to take a sojourn – a period of time when you stay temporarily in one place – and embark on a break from blogging.

I don’t know how long I’ll be off the grid, but I want to inform my loyal readers why I’ll be silent for awhile. My sojourn could last a week or two but it may also be a bit longer; I’m just not sure yet. If I follow your blog, I will still read your posts so I don’t get too far behind.

But I am certain I need to do exactly as my photo above says – regroup, refocus, and recharge. And remember why I began this blogging journey while considering where I venture from here.

In the words of The Terminator though, “I’ll be back.”

“Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” ~ Doe Zantamata


Lumber in the attic

blogIMG_7809It happened.  My brain has turned to mush.

I don’t know how. I don’t know why.  All I know is I’m left with the result…mush brain. 

Maybe it was just too much time spent playing Trivia Crack – no, wait – shouldn’t being able to recall answers to all those tidbits of information sharpen my mind, not dull it?

Maybe my mind just went on vacation…and didn’t take the rest of my body?

Maybe perusing Facebook just sucked thoughts and coherent sentences right out of my head?  After all, some of the stupid stuff posted there does boggle my mind.

Maybe my diet is lacking in food that boosts brain function…things, according to WebMD, like blueberries, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados, whole grains, beans, pomegranate juice, freshly brewed tea, and dark chocolate?

Nah,  I drink plenty of freshly brewed tea, eat enough blueberries, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, and – yes!!! – dark chocolate to keep my brain fully functioning, I think.

I could blame watching too much television…but I hardly ever watch it.

Perhaps stress, worry, and upset has something to do with it – I’ve certainly encountered enough of that to qualify for a reason.

But still. I don’t know why there’s a puddle of mush in my skull where my brain used to light up and fire away so much writing fodder for this blog that it kept me awake at night.

And I can’t really explain why my creative muses have packed up and vacated the premises.

All I know is I’m left with a mush brain.  A brain that can’t (or won’t) come up with one creative idea to morph into a blog post.

That explains my sporadic posts and downright absence from the blogosphere for the last few weeks for you, my readers. But not for me.

I just didn’t understand it until I ran across this quote, attributed to Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes stories.

“A man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

I actually do have a little “lumber room library” both on my computer and in a paper notebook where I jot down blogging ideas and even though I’ve accessed my library over and over again, I still haven’t been able to nail down an idea and hammer out a worthwhile post.

Digging a little deeper into that quote though, I found what Doyle actually wrote in his novel, A Study in Scarlet:  

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that this little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it, there comes a time when for any addition of knowledge, you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”  

Aha! That’s it! There’s way too much lumber in my attic brain.


Swimming through the wall

blogIMG_5042“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” ~ Michael Jordan

I’m not saying Michael Jordan is a great philosopher.  Or a wise sage.  Or an inspirational guru.  But I will say this: that quote I found that’s attributed to him speaks to me right now.

You see, I’ve hit a wall.  I’ve been away from blogging for about a month.  I haven’t written a darn thing in that entire time.  Oh, I was busy. I spent the better part of a month at my daughter’s home helping with my adorable and precious new grand-baby, cleaning, laundering, cooking, etc.  Frankly, I didn’t have time to write.

But I’m home now, back in the empty nest and even though there’s plenty to do, my camera is laden with photos galore, and my computer sits idle, I can’t think of a thing to say.  I’m not sure if it’s that I’m exhausted in many ways, or that my emotions have been on high alert, or that I just am speechless right now, but I’ve hit the wall hard.

It’s not a brick wall because if it were, I’m fairly certain I have the willpower to knock it down – yeah, I’m strong-willed like that.  No, this wall is different.  It’s fluid.  It swallows me up.  It causes me to drift away.  It ebbs and flows.  It sucks me into its whirlpool effect.  And it’s drowning my words.

The photo above seems to be a perfect representation for how I’m feeling and for this past week’s photo challenge theme: Wall.

I took the photo during the long wait outside the labor and delivery department in the hospital while my grand-daughter was making her entry into this world. 

It was around two in the morning and a running water sculpture encased in glass kept grabbing my attention while we waited…and waited…and waited.  It just kept running and bubbling along ticking off the hours as we patiently anticipated our first grandchild’s birth.

I snapped the photo because I needed something to occupy my time and I thought the water ‘wall’ would make an interesting photo. 

I never thought it would describe exactly how I’m feeling right now nor did I imagine it would personify a photo challenge. 

But I do know one thing.  Eventually, I’ll push my way through the wall, even if I have to do the backstroke.  My words will come back.  I’ll rise to the surface and be able to express all the joy and love that is captive in my heart.   And I’ll be writing again.

“A boundary is not that at which something stops, but that from which something begins.” ~ Martin Heidegger



It’s the best day of the year

blogIMG_0354Glistening snow wraps the rolling landscape around my home in winter white.  Traffic is practically non-existent on the country road that meanders in front of our house.   All is quiet as we sit snugly and warm inside our wintry snow globe world.

Tranquility reigns inside our house as well, but each room appears stark and barren since the Christmas decorations and fa-la-la-ery are packed away for another year-long wait. 

The family is spread hither and yon once again, the bedrooms empty of suitcases and laughter.  The showers are silent and even the dishwasher has been given a little reprieve. 

Mama in her kerchief and Dad in his cap settle in for the winter, along with a yawn or two from Callie, the calico cat, who occasionally rises from her naps to wander through the house in search of a warm lap to curl upon.

Another New Year has arrived.

Last year, New Year’s Day dawned with a sense of excitement and anticipation with the knowledge that there would be three weddings to plan.  But last year is now history and those joy-filled moments we all experienced are now sweet memories.

blogIMG_0313Sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of tea, I glance outside at the winter landscape and think how the pure white blanket of untouched fallen snow resembles blank pages of this new year stretched ahead of me.

What will I write about this year? What events and thoughts shall I chronicle? 

These words from my ever-growing notebook of quotes seem fitting to describe my contemplations on this New Year’s Day: 

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.  And to make an end is to make a beginning.” ~ T.S. Eliot.

It’s true – last year’s language overflowed with wedding joy.  And while the weddings have ended, my children’s new lives as married couples have just begun. 

And I think to myself that  I must also welcome new beginnings and this year’s words need a different voice.

I’m not a maker of resolutions.  I never keep them, and frankly, get bored trying to keep them.  Instead, I approach life as it comes and if I resort to any resolve at all, it is to live the day better than I did the day before.

I also don’t make bucket lists.  There are just too many things in the world to see, to do, to experience and it overwhelms me to even think about making such a list.  But I do make lists, just lists of things to do each day, things to accomplish, things to finish.  And I relish crossing those things off my list with gusto.

Two years ago on New Year’s Day, I choose to write with a distinct purpose in mind for 2011.  I envisioned that year as an open book of opportunity and decided to address each blog post in that vein with each day a page in each of the 12 chapters (months).  If you missed that, you may read about it by clicking here.

I considered reopening my book called Opportunity again to serve as a steering wheel while I navigate through the coming year.  But I’ve come to realize I enjoy changes, variety, spice in life, so a different impetus must propel my blog forward into the next 12 months.

So in what direction should I aim my writing this year?  With a blank page in my to-do lists and an even blanker page in the new book entitled 2013, I turned to my guidebook for life, my Bible, God’s Word.

And the pages so easily fall to my favorite scripture of all.  My guiding words.  My life verse, if you will.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Be joyful.  Not just on wedding days, but every day.

Pray continually.  Not just at night before you go to sleep, but throughout the day as the Spirit prompts. 

Give thanks in all circumstances.  Not just for things, events, or occurrences that are favorable – those you like –  but for all things, even if they prove difficult. 

For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.   My joy does not depend on my circumstances, it depends on my relationship with my Savior.

And what has He done for me?  Too much to even attempt to relate, but He has given me life, both this one and one to come.  And He has given me a New Year to live better than I have before.

A new blank page upon which to write the blessings of each day. 

“That’s it!” I thought.  Another quote jumped off my quotes notebook page and shouted, “Look at me!  This is what you must do:”

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

And so I begin writing on my heart that this fresh, sparkling, new first day of January, 2013 is the best day in the year.  Why?   Because…

“Another fresh new year is here . . .

Another year to live!

To banish worry, doubt, and fear,

To love and laugh and give!


This bright new year is given me

To live each day with zest . . .

To daily grow and try to be

My highest and my best!


I have the opportunity

Once more to right some wrongs,

To pray for peace, to plant a tree,

And sing more joyful songs!”

~ William Arthur Ward

Happy New Year from Mama’s Empty Nest!  May God grant you the opportunity to sing more joyful songs this year and see, as I hope to see, reasons why each day is the best day in the year.


Might as well face it

“Fanaticism for anything is addiction.”  ~ Unknown

Back in the ‘80s, Robert Palmer released the song, “Addicted to Love.”  I’m fairly certain it was that decade, but my recollection of the 80’s is kind of dim.

You see I was addicted back then.  Oh no, not addiction to any kind of substance.  Instead, I was addicted to something I wasn’t getting enough of…sleep.

The 80’s were my decade of birthing children and moving our household from place to place, so I tend to remember that decade as being in a fog.   My world  revolved around having babies, nursing them, cleaning up after them, and packing up all of our belongings.

Three children and five moves later, that decade of daze ended and I finally started getting enough sleep again to realize what was happening in the world outside my window.

Somehow through it all, I remembered that song and I found it running through my mind the other day when one of my blogging buddies, Dor at Virginia Views, nominated me for the Addictive Blog Award.  I truly feel honored that she finds my writing addictive.  I know I’m definitely a fan of her blog!

It’s true that I definitely have found myself addicted again.  Yes, I’m a fanatic.  No, I’m not addicted to any kind of substance (unless you count sweet tea!).  Instead, I’m addicted to blogging – both writing my own and reading all the fun, entertaining, inspiring, and amazing blogs out there in cyberspace.

Just for fun, I searched online for the lyrics to “Addicted To Love” and I found they aptly describe my blogging addiction!  Here they are with my little side notes:

Your lights are on, but you’re not home  [My blog lights up online, but right now I’m too busy to write  much.]
Your mind is not your own  [True, my mind is too consumed with going bridal right now.]
Your heart sweats, your body shakes  [I’m missing my blogging ‘fixes,’ I tell ya!]
Another kiss is what it takes  [Just a little kiss of reading my friends’ blogs would be so nice, but who has time for kissing?]

You can’t sleep, you can’t eat  [Too much on my plate keeps me awake at night, and it’s not food.  And then there are all those ideas for new posts rolling around in my brain.]
There’s no doubt, you’re in deep  [Been seriously blogging for over 2 years now, although I started my first blog a few years ago.]
Your throat is tight, you can’t breathe  [Look at all my friends’ blog posts lined up in my Reader! Finding enough time to read them all is giving me a panic attack!]
Another kiss is all you need  [Sweet comments here and there lets me know my blog’s not forgotten during my hiatus!]

You like to think that you’re immune to the stuff…oh yeah  [Sure, I can take a break from blogging without a problem…oh yeah (sarcasm)]
It’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough  [Oh, how I miss blogging, it’s true, I can’t get enough!]
You know you’re gonna have to face it, You’re addicted to love  [You know I’m gonna have to face it, I’m addicted to blogging!]

Might as well face it you’re addicted to love.   [Yeah, I get the message.]

Well, while I’m confessing here, I’m also gonna have to face it, I’m addicted to blog awards.  It’s a sweet kiss of friendship and appreciation to be nominated for a blog award, and I gratefully accept those gifts of blogger love.

Just recently, one of my readers commented that my cup is overflowing right now due to all our family weddings.  Well, it seems my cup overflows in the blogging world too.

Not only did I receive the Addictive Blog Award last week, but also was nominated for three others: Thinking of You from Dianna at These Days of Mine and One Lovely Blog and Versatile Blog both from Kate at Believe Anyway.

Blog awards are great because they provide a little feedback for the writer.  You realize that people do read your posts and they like what they read.  That feeds anyone’s addiction.

But for me, the best part of the awards is they often come from fellow bloggers that I’ve made such an amazing connection with.  These gals really float my boat with their own writing.  Thank you, Dor, Dianna, and Kate!  Even though we’ve never met in real life, I feel like you are the dearest of friends!

I’d prefer not to lump all of the blog award acceptances into one post, but in the interest of time, I am doing just that.  Forgive me, my sweet blogging award friends.

The Addictive Blog Award rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog. Dor, you are a true gem!  Thank you so much.
  • Share a little bit about why you started blogging.  I’ve always been a writer and found it easy to put my feelings and thoughts into words since I was a child.  But as a busy wife and mom raising children, running a household, doing volunteer work, and eventually working at a part-time job for a non-profit organization, writing wasn’t a priority.  I actually started a blog seven years ago when I was recuperating from cancer surgery.  But once I recovered, I stopped writing in it.   After my nest became empty, I finally had free time on my hands – and peace and quiet  – to start blogging once again.  This time, writing helped me express the emotions of all the major life changes I was experiencing.
  • Copy and post the award onto your own blog.  Boom, done, finished!
  • Nominate up to ten other bloggers you think are addictive enough to deserve the award.  Here are some of my addictions:
  1. Montana Outdoors
  2. Writing for Daisies 
  3. The View Out Here
  4. Life As I See It
  5. Georgette Sullins Blog
  6. These Days of Mine
  7. The Fearless Cooking Club
  8. In Wonder
  9. Dividing By Zero
  10. Grace For My Mess

Thinking of You Award rules:

  •  Link back to the sender.  Dianna, you are another true gem!  I keep thinking someday we’re going to meet!
  • Tell seven things that I love and that I think about daily:
  1. My relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ.
  2. My family.  I love my husband, my kids, and their beloveds.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how blessed I am to have them.
  3. My friends.  I have some of the most loyal, long-lasting friendships.  Some are silver and some are gold (a reference to the old song “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old.”  Some are nearby, some are far-away, but I love every one of these gals!
  4. Life in the country.  Just the other day on a trip to suburbia, hubby and I discussed how much we love our simple and quiet rural life.
  5. Tea.  I’m not a coffee person, but each morning when I awake, I think of having my nice hot cup of tea.  Before caffeine bothered me enough to keep me up at night, I used to have a hot cup of tea in the a.m. and another one before I went to bed.  Now if there’s tea in the evening, it better be herbal or decaffeinated or Mama’s not getting any sleep!
  6. Photography.  Even though I am just a very inexperienced amateur, I love taking pictures and looking at other photographers’ shots.  Every day, I keep an eye open for an interesting picture to capture.  Someday I hope to afford a better camera.
  7. Blogging.  Blogging has opened up a new world for me and I think has made me a better writer.  But more importantly, it’s given me an amazing community – another circle of friends – that I longed for, but didn’t realize it.  And there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about writing in my blog.  Alas, right now blogging is low man on my totem pole.
  • Pass the award to seven other blogs:
  1. Homestead Ramblings
  2. Nikole Hahn’s Journal
  3. Inspired Vision
  4. Sharon McElwrath Writes
  5. Coming East
  6. Living in Graceland
  7. Watkins Every Flavor Beans

Rules for One Lovely Blog Award and Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Give generous thanks to the blogger that nominated you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Kate!
  • Write seven things about yourself. Can I please cheat and refer to the list of seven things in the above award?
  • Make a list of 15 bloggers you admire and let them know how awesome they are! These folks are the next round of honorees for the One Lovely Blog Award and The Versatile Blogger Award.  Can I cheat again and nominate all of the bloggers I mentioned above???  Every one of them is worthy of this award and many, many more such awards.  Please go visit their sites and let them know how amazing they are.

If you’re like me, you might as well face it, you’re addicting to blogging!

Copyright ©2012

Featured on “A Life of Words”

 Words are a vital part of my life. I love words, I love to speak them, I love to write them.  I even collect them in the form of quotations in my handy dandy notebook filled with favorite quotes.  And I try very diligently to season my words as best I can.

You might say I do live a life of words.  I’ve written since I was a little girl; I even worked for a time in the world of words as a newspaper writer/editor.  And now, I blog and send my words out into cyberspace.

Today,  I’m feeling special and blessed as my humble little blog is featured on a fellow blogger’s site.  Nikole Hahn at Nikole Hahn’s Journal started a series of posts about writers whose blogs she enjoys reading.  I’m privileged that Nikole has been a long-time reader of my blog and she has become a friend too!  And I felt even more honored that she chose my blog to feature in her series, “A Life of Words.”

You can read her series and also find out the answers I gave to her set of interview questions here: A Life of Words

It’s possible you’ll learn something new about me from reading this that you didn’t know before!  Let me know what you think and be sure to add Nikki’s blog to your blog roll.  She’s an awesome writer and a great book reviewer.

I find it amazing that my life with words has given me such incredible friends in the blogging world.  Believe it or not, I’m frankly a little speechless!

Copyright ©2012

Late June’s recurrent holding pattern

You know the old adage, “mum’s the word?”

Well, not only has mum been the word lately at Mama’s Empty Nest, but Mum has been fairly mum herself as well.

Definition of mum:  (adj) silent, not saying a word.   The origin of the word possibly came from “mmm,” the humming sound we humans make with our mouths closed, which indicates either unwillingness or an inability to speak.

Shakespeare used the word in Henry VI when he wrote:   “Seal up your lips and give no words but mum.”

In other words, keep quiet, say nothing, shut your trap.  The saying “mum’s the word” worked its way into our language as a means to advise another person to not reveal what he knows about something, to keep a secret, or stay quiet on the subject.

If you regularly follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been awfully mum in the last week or two.  Throwing in some synonyms for the word  – mute, speechless, uncommunicative, wordless – adequately describes me right now.  And I know it!

I can’t admit that I’ve been quiet because I know something I shouldn’t reveal because that’s not it.  I don’t know a secret about anything!  So I honestly have no clue why I’ve been so uncommunicative (which is very unlike me anyway).

Should I blame my wordless state on busy-ness?  No,  I cannot.  No more busy days than usual.  Oh, there has been a little wedding planning (two more to go), some strawberry picking and freezer jam making sessions, a bit of cleaning and household chores here and there in between my hours at my job, but nothing that demands my full attention.

Even my computer sits idle.  I check my email occasionally and then shut off the distraction.   Logging in to Facebook has become a rarity because I see those words asking me to declare what’s on my mind, and I’ve got…nothing, no status updates, nothing interesting to say.

If I do fire up my laptop, I sit and stare at the blank screen and I am…. speechless.  Wordless.  I feel like I have nothing to impart, even though my notebook of blog ideas paints  an entirely different picture.  I just don’t feel like saying it or writing it or even thinking about the ideas long enough to put a sentence together.

It’s like I have a disorder – a non-communication complaint, summer speechlessness, or author’s apathy.  I can’t decide whether it’s just writer’s block or summer’s siren song of idleness.

In my younger days, I could be quite the talker, making chit-chat and small talk to fill any awkward silences.  But as I’ve aged, I’ve become more of a listener than a talker.  And honestly, sometimes I really have nothing to say.  Absolutely nothing.

This speechless state has woven its way, spreading like runners of ivy, into my writing.  I don’t want to bore my readers with just any old words.  I won’t publish a blog merely for the sake of publishing every day….or two…or 12.  If I have something worth writing, it also needs to be something worth reading.  And alas, I feel no compulsion to write.   And so I’ve been mum.

I hope I haven’t been disappointing, but I fear I may have been just that for those of you who log into this blog each day expecting some new post from me.   Bear with me, my faithful readers, I’ll get my words back.

For now, in my book I call Opportunity, my deck and the coolness of the evening after a warm summer day (yes, cooler weather came back for awhile) are calling out enticing me.

My softly cushioned patio chair whispers, “Come hither.  Come rest and bask in the quietness of a country evening.  Inhale the scent of freshly mowed grass and savory strawberries, plucked from the garden.  Listen to the birds warbling their sing-song melodies.  Feel the gentle breeze as it ruffles your hair.  Gaze westward and witness another spectacular sunset.   Evenings like this won’t last for long.  Maybe tomorrow you will find your words.”

[Blogger’s Note: I actually wrote this in late June last year and because I am yet again in this predicament of having no motivation or inclination to write anything new and feeling quite mum, I decided to reblog this post.    What surprises me is this seems to be a recurring theme around the last week or so of June.  Hmmm…..summer doldrums, summer sunstroke addles my brain, summer makes me mute??   What do you think?]

Copyright  ©2012

Weighed and measured and balanced

You know how a line from a movie often permanently etches its way into your brain and comes to mind frequently?

A line from the movie, A Knight’s Tale, is one of those quotes for me.  Adhemar, the villain, assaults defenseless underdog hero William and pummels judgment on him, “You have been weighed [punch], you have been measured [another punch], and you have been found wanting [final blow].  In what world could you possibly beat me?”

Every so often, even though I knew better, I compared myself to my peers, especially when it came to writing.  And sometimes I thought I just didn’t measure up.

I confess that when I log in to my blog site, I check my daily stats because statistics float my boat. Stats have been high recently, but when I analyze the breakdown, I see reality.

Most ‘hits’ on my blog aren’t for reading purposes; instead search engines hit on images used in my posts.  Actual readers of my blog seem quite low compared to  search engine hits.  Even my Wordless Wednesday photos get more action than my written posts.

I’m a simple writer.  I don’t write elaborate, flowery sentences nor do I use a myriad of literary devices.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m a very creative writer either and I don’t write fiction.  That’s probably why I don’t possess a burning desire to be a published novelist.  There are no fully-developed characters or intricate plots bouncing around inside my brain ready to burst forth into life onto a blank page.

I write about basic, uncomplicated things that occur to me from everyday sources and often from my faith.  I’m not much of a humor writer, nor am I satirical.  I find many writers today to be irreverent, edgy, sarcastic, profane, or politically correct.  I am none of those.   I’m pretty certain some people may think I write schmaltz – excessive sentimentality.

Early in my blogging efforts, I once received a caustic comment which I chose not to publish because not only did it insult me, it insulted the God I serve.  The commenter accused me, among other things, of writing “drivel.”  That person is entitled to his/her opinion, but that schmaltzy drivel that I write comes sincerely straight from my heart.   If that makes me mundane, so be it.

I figured out my writing style a long time ago.   Once upon a time, I sat around my college dorm room composing really bad poetry and short stories in an effort to prove to myself, my peers, and my professors that I really was a “creative English major.”   I also wrote scads of papers about symbolism, archetypal images, and other literary terms for my classes.  But those papers were forced because identifying those aspects didn’t come naturally to me.

I was one of those rare English majors who liked grammar.  Grammar makes sense to me.  Diagramming sentences is a breeze because it’s logical.  Syntax, sentence structure, is like an equation, which is why my Structures of English class earned me an easy A while my fellow English majors (those creative types who saw symbolism in everything I couldn’t, while spouting poetry at the drop of a hat) struggled to pass the tests.

I often questioned why I even had become an English major.  I loved to read and I enjoyed writing since stringing sentences together was a piece of cake.  I’m fairly sure those were the main two criteria I used to decide upon my major.

While enrolled in a journalism class, I realized writing about facts came extremely easy to me and was so much more enjoyable than writing about symbolism in a poem.   Just give me the facts and I can weave them into a story pronto.

When I was a college senior and getting weary of college life, my university initiated a Communications major.  Journalistic writing, speech, and oral interpretation classes, even acting, were more my speed than trying to identify archetypal images in Flannery O’Connor stories.

By this point though, I was already scheduled to student teach and since I was one semester away from graduation, now wasn’t the time to change majors.  I also did not want to incur the extra expense or time required to earn a Communications degree, so I settled for my B.S. in English Education.

But somehow, I just never fit the English major role, no matter how hard I tried.  I weighed and measured and found myself wanting.  No doubt I’m too literal, facts oriented, and a realist to boot.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading classic works of literature, poetry, and drama; I’m just never going to be the writer of such worthy works.   And I feel it’s safe to say you won’t see me on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

My English teacher days came to a halt when I realized I just didn’t like teaching.   So instead I found a niche, for a time, writing feature stories in a daily newspaper, editing other people’s works, and volunteering to write and edit newsletters for various organizations.

All of these many years later, I am a blog writer.  I shouldn’t compare my blog to others, but sometimes I attempt to ‘measure’ my writing by ‘weighing’ it against Freshly Pressed blogs on WordPress, or writers whose blogs I stumble upon, or bloggers/aspiring novelists.

So give me the facts, ma’am, just the facts.  I’m a college-educated person with an English degree who really just writes because that’s what I do to express ideas that come to my mind.  My one shot claim to fame being Freshly Pressed was possibly the only experience of hitting the ‘big time’ with my blog that I’ll get.

My writing probably does not appeal to the masses, to those on the cutting edge, or to those who want to read about social or political issues of the day (believe me, I have distinct opinions on those but I choose not to publish them), or those who like to read particular genres.

I am a writer of life.  My life.  Real life.  My blog is a hodge-podge of thoughts, ideas, and experiences about family and faith because those things make up my life and give me joy each day in my book called Opportunity.  I hit the publish button in an attempt to share some of that joy, or insight, or opportunity to brighten another person’s day or give them something to consider.

And I believe I’ve finally learned to stop trying to be like other writers and just be me.  I’ve weighed, I’ve measured, and I’ve balanced.

See that Shakespeare class I took all those years ago really did teach me something because I have never forgotten a line in Hamlet  (Act 1, Scene 3).  The ill-fated Polonius, the King’s chief advisor/spy, gives fatherly advice to his departing son Laertes.  “This above all:  to thine own self be true…”

Copyright ©2012

You! Yes, you!

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times.

That sounds like something my mother would have said to me when I was doing something wrong or not accomplishing what she asked of me.

“If I said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, go pick up your room,”  I can imagine her saying.  Matter of fact, I’m sure she did say it a thousand times.  And I’m pretty certain I’ve used the same saying a thousand times on my own children too.

But today, that saying doesn’t refer to something negative.  Today in my Opportunity book, that sentence gives me joy.   Why?  Because if I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times – I’ve ‘met’ some truly wonderful people through blogging.

While reading what other bloggers write, I’ve learned much about their characters and their lives while their stories humor, inspire and bless me.   When a blogging buddy regularly reads my posts and offers interesting and uplifting comments, that blesses me too!

Recently, two blogging friends conferred more honor upon my little blogging world.  Kate at kateschannel  presented the Liebster Blog Award to Mama’s Empty Nest and Dianna at These Days of Mine gifted me with the All Around Wonderful Blog Award.

First, let me tell you about these two talented people before I divulge info about the awards.  I first ‘met’ Kate when she commented on my blog and I was interested in getting to know who she was.  That’s what I do.  Leave a comment, I’ll visit your blog, see what you write about, peek in on your “about me” page.

Here’s what I’ve learned about my new friend, Kate.  She has much experience in the communications field, so when she compliments my writing,  I appreciate that.  Kate is a die-hard Detroit sports fan and a work at home mom.  I can tell she’s passionate about her family and her life in Michigan.  And I like that about her!

I can’t remember exactly when my path crossed with Dianna’s, but I never miss reading this gracious lady’s blog because it brightens my day.   Occasionally, her clever kitty, Sundae, may offer a guest post making me chuckle.  Dianna and I share some commonalities: we’re around the same age, we are owned by beautiful but spoiled calico cats, we enjoy photography, and our families mean the world to us.

Now that I’ve introduced you to these two friends, here’s the scoop on the awards.  The Liebster Blog Award is sweet because the German word means dearest, beloved or favorite.   You can’t get any better than being someone’s favorite or beloved, so it warms my heart that Kate lists my blog in that category!

Like other blog awards, the Liebster rules require the honoree to pass the torch to five favorite blogs who have less than 200 followers.   I’m not a fan of following the masses, so many of my favorite bloggers fit this requirement, so that wasn’t a challenge.  Among my beloved blogs are writers who have already accepted this award, so I’m bestowing it upon those who haven’t received it yet to my knowledge.

I proudly pass the Liebster Blog Award to five of my favorites:

1)    Homestead Ramblings HR is my go-to person.  She and I have become very good friends since our early blogging days and I love both her blog and her!  Her blog is always surprising as she writes about a myriad of subjects.  Her faith and love for nature (and Alaska) shine through her posts.

2)    Montucky  Montucky’s spectacular photography mesmerizes me and I love clicking onto his blog to see his latest shot.

3)    Watkins Every Flavor Beans  This writer is my oldest daughter’s friend.   A stay at home young mother of three handsome little fellows, she chronicles her family life while living in Scotland.  Her creativity astounds me.

4)    Dividing By Zero This guy can be incredibly funny or deep.  He’s my personal friend  from a long time ago, and I witnessed his humor daily when we were co-workers.  I enjoy reading his talented writing because he always has thought-provoking things to say.

5)    Laura’s Blog Another personal friend, Laura is one witty gal.   She can wrap a rhyme around words in a flash and her humor is pointedly funny.  She writes often about her faith and that’s one of the reasons I love her.

All Around Wonderful Blog Award –  what an honor to be named “all around wonderful!”  I gratefully accepted this award and the charming award badge that accompanies it.

The rules for accepting this award are “be a follower of this blog,  pass the award on to 3 other blogs,  and lastly, link the award back to this blog.”

Simple, right?  But narrowing down my blogroll list to only three blogs for this honor proved difficult for me.  I wanted to wrap it up like an unexpected present in cheerful, colorful paper tied with an exquisite, shiny ribbon and bestow it upon every single one of my blogging buddies.

But I am a rule follower so I’ll obey because I can hear my dear mom’s voice in my head saying, “If I told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times…”

So my choices for the All Around Wonderful Blog Award are:

1)    Saturday Evening Porch  When you go sit on my sweet Southern friend’s front porch, you’ll find yourself chuckling out loud.  She has a clever knack of taking ordinary things and turning them into amusing stories because she’s such a wonderful story-teller.

2)    Big Happy Nothing  Amiable Amiable, lovingly known as AA, literally cracks me up.  She’s funny, witty, yet can throw some poignancy into the mix so easily.   She also is an all around wonderful story-teller.

3)    Believe Anyway I’ve just recently become acquainted with this writer who created the Candle Lighter Award, but her enthusiasm for life and her faith is contagious.  She is the eternal optimist and I think we need more wonderful people like her to brighten up this world.

I once read a quote by psychologist and philosopher William James that said, “What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise – although the philosophers generally call it ‘recognition’!”

So true.  Every person does yearn for praise.  To have the words and thoughts which I chronicle in this blog considered to be worthy of recognition truly provides me great joy.   Today, I’m kind of like actress Sally Field as she accepted an Academy Award, “You like me, you really like me!”

Thank you, Kate and Dianna, for liking me!  Thank you, fellow writers, for delighting me each day in our blogging community.  You are such treasures!  And finally, thank you to all those readers who click on my blogspace and light up my world.

“There are amazingly wonderful people in all walks of life; some familiar to us and others not. Stretch yourself and really get to know people. People are in many ways one of our greatest treasures.”  ~ Bryant H. McGill

Copyright ©2012

Kreativ blogging

One of the most difficult aspects about entering the Empty Nest stage of life is feeling left behind.

As my children somehow metamorphosed right in front of my eyes into adults and moved out of our home, I struggled with so many emotions.  Coming on the heels of losing my last living parent, the empty nest found me wallowing in a knee-high bog of grief.

The kids grew up and moved on to new lives of independence (read “Mom felt not needed anymore” here).   My Dad went on to his eternal reward in Heaven joining my Mom and my in-laws there (read “Those days of needing to check up on and take care of Dad were gone” here).   That’s why I felt like I was left behind holding a bagful of tears.

I turned to blogging as a way of working through my feelings and rediscovering my love of writing.  Blogging opened up a fresh, newfound world for me in ways I never dreamed would happen.

Somehow my words sent out into cyberspace found their way into other people’s worlds.  My quiet life with its lack of connections  suddenly came alive with lots of electronic firings.  It seemed as though an unused circuit board sparkled to life with all the lights, bells, and whistles.  I had imagined my life like a switchboard with no phone calls, but as my blogging world expanded, that switchboard was flooded with calls, totally transformed.

I found an entire new set of friends, something I never expected.   My belief is that God made the connections and brought some amazing people into my life through blogging.

“How rare and wonderful is that flash of a moment when we realize we have discovered a friend.” ~ William E. Rothschild.

Recently, I made a new friend, Dianna, in this world of connectivity.   She shares lovely photos and sweet narratives on her blog, These Days of Mine.   Visiting her blog is like welcoming a ray of sunshine into a dreary day.    She blessed me the other day with the Kreativ Blog Award and I thank her for thinking so highly of me and my words.

As with other blog awards, one of the rules in accepting it is to share snippets about yourself that you haven’t already blabbed about shared with readers.  I might have to dig deeply here, since I’m often like an open book.    Hmmm….thinking….thinking…??

Okay here goes:

  1. I was born on a Wednesday, and as everyone knows from the old nursery rhyme – “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.”  Not true!!  I beg to differ.  I’m not full of woe, no matter what day I was born upon.  If I could have chosen,  I would have entered this world on Tuesday (full of grace) or Friday (loving and giving).
  2. I have never owned a dog, and I really don’t ever want to own a dog. (Sorry, canine lovers, will you still be my friend?)
  3. I’ve had a pen pal since I was in 4th grade, but we’ve never met in person…yet.  We began our friendship writing letters to each other as children and continued through high school, college, marriage, and having children.  We still communicate with newsy letters at Christmas time after all those years. Someday, I hope we have an opportunity to meet face to face.
  4. When I was a kid, I had a cat named Susie.  Once she brought a baby rabbit (still alive) into our house and laid it in a box with her newborn kittens and another time she brought a snake (also alive) in! I’m not sure why that tidbit of info just popped in my head; let me go check the cat and make sure she hasn’t brought any wildlife into the house!
  5. I’d like to say I have visited all 50 states in the USA, but I’ve only been to 32. I need to do some traveling.

Now comes the fun part – passing the Kreativ Blog Award to someone else.  There are so many creative and fascinating blogs that I visit, it’s difficult to narrow down the field.

One blogger I’ve recently discovered truly is creative.  She’s a mom with young children and right there is a recipe for creativity.  Her blog is fun,  she’s always full of great ideas, and I think her kids must be very blessed to have such an awesome mom!  Check out her blog at Play 101.

I’m also passing this award on to Montana Outdoors .   If you want to see amazingly beautiful photographs of nature taken in Big Sky Country, this is one blog you shouldn’t miss.  I am continually awe-struck at the beauty Montucky captures with a camera.  I know it takes a creative eye to snap such stunning pictures.

During this month when our thoughts turn to thanksgiving, I find myself grateful on this 21st page of Chapter 11 in my book called Opportunity.  I’m grateful for friends, old and new.  I’m thankful for a blogging community with such creative and encouraging writers.  And I’m thankful for you, my readers.  May you have a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving Day.