I need more time!

blogDSCN8533(2)So here’s the thing.

Writing in this Mama’s Empty Nest blog is really important to me. Crafting words into something worthwhile for readers to take time to peruse, maybe mull over, and possibly even experience a moment where their hearts are touched by my writing means so much to me. I love what I do here.

But…it’s the Christmas season and in the words of Dr. Seuss:  “How did it get so late so soon?”

My calendar tells me it’s December 5th…..ALREADY! It’s only 20 days until Christmas!! And this Mama will have a very full nest in just a matter of two weeks!

Yep, all of the chicks and roosters, including the two young peeps, are all coming home to roost for the holiday. And you know what that means?

This Mama has a to-do list about a mile long. This year there’s a real, piney-smelling evergreen tree which just got brought into the house yesterday and so far stands naked waiting for sparkly lights, strings of red beaded garland, and shiny ornaments to bedeck it.

There is Christmas shopping to finish, then there will be a plethora of gifts to wrap.

The Christmas cards need sent on their merry way via our trusty mail carrier, but first they need finalized and walked up to the mail box at the end of our driveway.

The outside decorating is finished – thank goodness and thanks to Papa – but the indoor décor is still sitting in storage bins here and there just waiting to be sprung from its year-long hiding spots.

Christmas cookies must be baked. We can’t leave store-bought cookies for Santa for goodness sake.  Mealtime menus for several days must be decided upon and that means a major grocery store shopping trip and lots of cooking and meal preparations.

Throw in some Christmas parties, church activities, a few festive holiday excursions we want to take Little One on, and a special first birthday party for our other Little Two to be attended, PLUS an assortment of other Christmas activities for the family that Mama (in her crazy thoughts one night when sleep eluded her) decided to plan while we’re all together.

Whew! So while I’m long on things to do, I am short on time to do them in.

Which brings me back to this blog. Usually, I have blog posts written in advance and all lined up for a couple of weeks at a time.

Additionally, I spend a considerable amount of my time thinking over ideas to write about, taking or choosing photos from my picture cache to match my main idea, and also just plain writing and often re-writing again and again.

Then there is editing and proof-reading to present the best blog post I possibly can for you, my dear readers. Okay, you might say I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my blog, and you might be right.

But anyway, I don’t have any new posts written for this month – this season of Christmas.  And doing so takes time. Time I don’t seem to have right now. And again as Dr. Seuss once wrote: How did it get so late so SOON?”!!!!!!!! (Emphasis mine!)

So instead of taking a three-week long hiatus and being totally absent from the blogging world and not connecting with my readers this Christmas season, I’ve decided to do something else. 

Christmas is special to me. It’s a time when our family celebrates the birth of our Savior. And what better time to connect with my readers through my blog than this season of goodwill and cheer?

So, I still will share one of my own photographs on Wordless Wednesday each week in December, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will delve back into the last seven years of writing my blog and share old posts from Decembers past.

Some of my previous posts will be new to more recent readers. Some of you ‘old-timers’ may remember them, but my hope is that as you read them again, something makes you smile.

In the meantime, I must get busy with urgent matters at hand for Christmas, but it doesn’t mean I won’t be spending time on what is truly important – Jesus, the true meaning of the season – and thinking of you, my family, friends, and blog readers.

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” ~ Stephen Covey

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Friendship fruit

blogIMG_1563(2)I flung open the door in my exuberance, probably startling the company coming up the sidewalk to our front porch before they even had a chance to ring the doorbell. But I just couldn’t contain my excitement any longer.

Earlier, I sat patiently in my living room, waiting for that company to arrive and reflecting back seven years ago.

Back in the summer of 2010, I launched this blog on a whim. My writing skills may have been a bit rusty because I hadn’t written much of anything in many years, other than a few articles for a quarterly newsletter at my place of employment.

Oh, I had fiddled around in the blogging world once before writing some “fluff” (what we used to call the non-essential stories when I worked for a daily newspaper eons ago) on another blogging site.

My words weren’t serious with my first blog; I was just passing time while I recuperated from a health diagnosis and ensuing surgery/radiation treatments.  Once I recovered and returned to my job at a non-profit, blogging got relegated to the back burner – way back.

But the lonely empty nest stage of my life hit me hard emotionally a few years later, and once again, I turned to writing. And Mama’s Empty Nest breathed life.

This time, seriously. This time, really pouring out words from my soul and my heart. This time, writing became even more cathartic.

This time, putting my thoughts into words and sending them out into cyberspace for anyone to see although I sincerely doubted that anyone other than my own family would even bother to read what I’d written.

From time to time that first month of blogging, a family member or a friend would leave a comment on one of my posts and how that made me smile! Then one day, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Someone, some anonymous person out there in the internet world, someone I did not know, wrote a comment on one of my blog posts.

A few more instances happened when complete strangers commented, and eventually, I became a part of a little blogging circle community. It was fun and I enjoyed reading other bloggers’ posts and conversing with them by comments, and a few of them have become Facebook friends.

After about a month though, I received a notification that a comment had been left from a new reader. As with some of the other fellow bloggers, all we knew about each other were our screen names and the titles of our blogs.

It was the same with this new reader – only a screen name and a link to her blog – but somehow this one seemed different.  Her comments touched my heart and I often thought, “She really gets me.“

She often understood what I meant when other readers didn’t quite get my implications. And she was willing to let me know she was a fellow believer in Christ.

She read my blog. I read hers. She left comments. So did I. And what followed still kind of boggles my mind.

We became friends.  Real friends. The kind who, not only communicate on each other’s blogs and Facebook, but email, even occasionally talk by phone, and exchange real hand-written letters by mail. 

We became the kind of friends who share things of the heart. The kind of true and trustworthy friends who pray for each other and our families. 

My young adult children were incredulous and teased me because for several years I had issued dire warnings to them about being extremely careful and very wary of friendships made on the web.

After all, who knew what evil lurked in people’s minds and so many online personas could be totally fake. Yeah, they threw all of that right back at me when I told them of my online friendship with one of my blog readers.

The more this reader and I conversed with one another, the more we found we had in common. Like minds and like faiths. And so a budding friendship truly blossomed. We became soul sisters. Sisters in Christ.

Seven years have passed since our first online contact. Seven years in which we have gotten to know one another well, know all about each other’s families, and hopes and dreams and realities and disappointments.

But we had never actually met in person. Until last week. My friend, her husband, and daughter traveled from their Midwest home to visit family in a nearby state. She casually mentioned they would be traveling through our area. 

That’s when I experienced a light bulb moment! Wouldn’t it be the most amazing thing if we could meet somewhere to say hello in person and maybe have lunch?  Kind of an exciting thing to consider.  As we discussed the logistics of doing so, she shared that they could actually travel through my hometown on their way home.

Without hesitation, I extended an invitation to our home for lunch. We knew we wouldn’t have a long time to visit because they needed to continue on their journey homeward, but maybe a little stop at our house would be restful.

So last Friday, I waited for my friend I’ve never met in person to arrive on my doorstep. Homemade beef vegetable soup stewed in the crockpot for their arrival. Sandwiches and dessert were also ready and waiting. Papa didn’t have to work that day, so he noticed their vehicle coming down our driveway and shouted to me, “They’re here!”

And that’s when I flung wide open the door. I don’t even remember what I said to my friend as she stood there, arms laden with thoughtful gifts of freshly picked New York state apples and other goodies, with her husband and daughter.

All I know is that we greeted one another with warm hugs and huge smiles of joy.

We lunched, we talked, we hugged. We smiled as our husbands and daughters joined in conversations. And all too soon, it was time for them to leave.

What remains from our meeting in person that day? The warmest memories. The joys of a continuing friendship. My friend telling me coming to visit was like coming home.

And each time I pass by her delicious gift of apples sitting on my kitchen counter, their fragrant aroma reminds me of the blessing of that sunny October day.

The little Johnny Appleseed song I sang with my children when they were small comes to my mind: “Oh, the Lord’s been good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need – the sun and the rain and the apple seed, the Lord’s been good to me.”

And He has been good to me in giving me this gift of friendship (and others as well) by way of this blog. 

Seven years ago, I never would have dreamed that the seeds of a blogging friendship would produce such wonderful fruit.

“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit.” ~ Aristotle

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

In my own little corner

blogDSCN0109 (2)Years ago, okay….many years ago when I was a child, I watched a musical version of Cinderella on television with real, live actors instead of animated ones.

The well-known fairy tale was set to lovely music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and I can still remember the actress Lesley Ann Warren, who played Cinderella, singing a song called, In My Own Little Corner.

Previously here in my blog, I’ve shared a quirky little characteristic I possess, but just in case you missed that, I’ll let you in on it.

More often than not, just the utterance of a mere word causes my brain to flip through all the information stored in it (after 60+ years, there’s a lot up there!) and produce  musical lyrics from the past with that particular word in the song.  

I don’t know why I remember song lyrics (and the music that accompanies them) so well, but I do. And as soon as I read that this week’s photo challenge theme was ‘corner,’ this song from that TV version of Cinderella came to life once more in my head.

“In my own little corner
In my own little chair
I can be whatever I want to be
On the wing of my fancy
I can fly anywhere
And the world will open its arms to me.”

As melancholy as the thought is of poor, abused, lovely Cinderella forced to labor for a vengeful step-mother and mean step-sisters and sit in her little corner of her dingy world, aren’t the song lyrics encouraging?

Despite her terrible condition and place in life, Cinderella rises above it. How? By using her imagination. I love that.

As someone who captures words and photographs attempting to carve them into something creative and inspiring, where would I be without some imagination? Without thoughts that ignite a spark of inspiration? Without a sense of optimism and purpose?

Because in my own little corner (right here in our home office),

In my own little chair (the comfy, swivel desk chair facing the computer screen),

I can be whatever I want to be (I can write whatever I want; I can turn my thoughts into sentences; I can post those words online for you to read).

On the wing of my fancy (inspired by words or photographs),

I can fly anywhere (my posts fly around cyberspace via the internet),

And the world will open its arms to me. (You, my readers, from all over the world, have opened your arms to me by clicking on my posts to read my thoughts.)

Sometimes, I wonder if putting myself ‘out there’ in cyberspace is worth the time and effort I put into writing this blog. Obviously, I don’t write it to make money because I earn absolutely no amount of dollars doing so.

I don’t even write to make a name for myself, or to broaden my ‘brand,’ or whatever the hype is now to publicize your writing because I write this without using my given name attached to it.

So why emerge from my own little corner and hit publish every week? The reason might just be found in yet another set of song lyrics:

“Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar;
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!

Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear,
Let not narrow self your way debar;
Though into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,
Brighten the corner where you are.” ~ lyrics by Ina D. Ogdon

I write because maybe, just maybe, from my own little corner I shed a little light into your little corner.

It takes perseverance, it takes discipline, and maybe even a little courage, but I’ll continue to brighten as many corners as I can for as long as I can.

“Courage can’t see around corners but goes around them anyway.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Jumping over the hurdle


View from a rock on a restful, pleasant  September Sunday afternoon

It was the time and the season.  For some reason, I don’t go dormant in the winter as some folks do, instead I become dull, listless, and inactive in the dog days of summer.

Summer’s heat and humidity always catch up with me, drag me down in a wilting, simpering heap, and toss me around like the wet dishrag that I feel like. My sweet Southern friends, I do NOT know how you stand it.

A muggy, oppressive July and August devoured my energy like a ravenous hot-breathed wolf scarfing down its prey. And apparently, it also consumed my words and thoughts because I just…could. not. write. And I didn’t want to spend the time it took nor the motivation.

I needed a respite. I needed a sojourn.  I needed a rest away from the computer, away from my blog, away from the feeling of letting readers (and myself) down with the scanty schedule of posting I was doing.

To put it succinctly, I was just plain tired. Tired of heat. Tired of humidity. Tired of hunkering down in my air-conditioned but stuffy house instead of breathing in clean, fresh air. Tired of being imprisoned inside instead of enjoying the summer day’s sunshine on the backyard deck, the front porch swing, or anywhere outside at all. Tired of staring at a computer screen and frantically trying to think of something….something…anything(!!) to write about.

This blog became my chore. And there weren’t enough cute stickers in the world to adhere to my chore chart to make me want to accomplish the task of writing. Frankly, I didn’t want to even be online at all. Social media just perturbed and annoyed me. My email inboxes filled up with stuff I had no desire to read, so I embarked on a delete and purge mission and called it quits except for reading emails from family and one beloved far away friend who totally understands me.

Hence, a few weeks ago, I informed those of you who still click on your email notifications when my blog posts are published or those who click on my Mama’s Empty Nest Facebook fan page or on my personal page links that I was taking a sojourn from writing.

And I did. I managed to rest physically when I could get a good night’s sleep and launched myself into a mental vacation by reading several books just for enjoyment and not taxing my brain with anything that required deep thinking. However, I didn’t necessarily rest emotionally because life and its situations don’t go on sabbaticals and challenges keep popping up in front of me like roadblocks causing detours for unsuspecting drivers.

As I ran around this track of life that I’m on, (sweltering and sweating like crazy), I just got too weary to vault over the hurdles and writing became one of those barriers.  So instead of attempting to sail over it, I knocked it down. I may have kicked it a few times too just for good measure to make sure it stayed down.

But then, a freshening gust of air blew in. September arrived and that meant one thing – fall’s coming. Autumn.  My favorite season of all. Warm but balmy days of sunshine and Crayola crayon shades of blue skies sandwiched in between evenings of falling temperatures and a bit of a nip in the air. Delightful weather that causes me to throw the windows open wide and inhale that freshness that I love and air out my stale house.

This coming season invigorates and revitalizes me. I don’t know why I relish it so much, but I welcome fall with arms stretched outward as far as I can spread. With the promise of autumn, my creative juices start to flow again, words swirl around my mind once more. It’s like I awaken from a heat-induced coma.

So I’m back. I’m not sure I’ll return to my regular posting schedule as before (T, W, Th) because I’m adjusting to some life changes which require much of my time, but I am feeling renewed enough to write again.

There may be days, however, when I just share some photos with you.  Earlier this summer, I wanted to take part in “Developing Your Eye,” a WordPress photography challenge, but I just didn’t have the energy to pursue it. So you know what they say, ‘better late than never.’

The themes for the 10-day challenge encouraged amateur photographers like me to think differently about how we capture what we see with the camera lens, and even though the challenge is long over, I may decide to share my interpretations with you.

Whatever transpires, I’m grateful that I had the good sense to take some time off and indulge in a sojourn from the blogging/internet world. And now that I’ve returned, I hope you come along with me as I continue this journey in Mama’s Empty Nest. No road map needed. I’ll just go where life and the good Lord take me.

“Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.”  ― Mark Buchanan, The Holy Wild: Trusting in the Character of God

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


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.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Off on a break

blogIMG_4584 (3)

Someone keeps shaking the snow globe.

While we are not socked in with huge snowfalls like our neighbors to the north, snow and frigid winter temperatures here in our neck of the woods tend to make us want to go into hibernation mode.

You know it’s been cold when you go outside and think, “Wow, it feels warm out here,” and the thermometer informs you it’s 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  Yes, 25 and a little sunshine felt like a heat wave.

But I’m not writing to discuss the weather.  It’s winter.  That’s a given.  I live in an area that gets winter weather and really, I’m not complaining about that.  Spring will arrive eventually.

Actually, I’m not complaining about anything.  Since the arrival of our darling first grandchild, Papa and I have been filled with joy and wonder over this new little life.  You might say she’s brought a little spring into our life, spring in our steps, spring in our hearts.

And even though there are an abundance of words floating around my mind that will need written down and published in Mama’s Empty Nest, I’m going on a little break.  I’ll still check in to read my fellow bloggers’ posts, but I will be on hiatus from writing for a while.

Just wanted to let everyone know so no one worries that something is wrong.  On the contrary, everything is right and good including the precious little missy who just woke up from a nap and her amazingly wonderful mother, my beautiful daughter.

“Be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.” ~ Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Just keepin’ it real

blogIMG_4960Life.  Sometimes it gets in the way of our plans.

If you’re a steady reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you may have noticed I’ve been on a writing hiatus for the last couple of weeks.  The evidence is a lack of written posts with only two Wordless Wednesdays showcasing a couple of my photographs instead.

The hiatus wasn’t intentional.  I didn’t just decide to take a break from blogging.  No, instead life happened.  Real life sometimes gets in the way of blogging life.  And you might just say, today I’m keeping it real.

As soon as this new year of blank pages arrived, my calendar started filling up with events and appointments and lists of things needing accomplishment the way life demands and…well, you get the picture.

Both weeks found me trotting off to school as I was scheduled to substitute teach two and a half days one week and two days the following week.  One week I taught middle schoolers everything from language arts to science and the next I subbed in learning support and worked non-stop with students from kindergarten through fifth grade in reading and math. 

But wait!  Just like the infomercials on TV, that’s not all!  Bible study resumed, so a lot of reading ensued and thought-provoking questions needed answering.  Several meetings also required my attendance and church activities increased because in a weak moment, I said yes.  Not just to one new obligation but two! 

I agreed to become a committee member for a church commission responsible for education of our children, teens, and adults and then because one of the Sunday School classes desperately needed a teacher, guess who is now also teaching young teens in 7th and 8th grade?  I mean who could turn down that opportunity when one of the young girl students specifically requested me?

So that meant acquiring curriculum, and checking it out thoroughly, preparing lessons, and because there’s that teacher side of me that insists a classroom should be just as stimulating as the lesson, I rearranged the dull-looking church room, added some visuals, and made plans to enhance the space more while spending way too much time on Pinterest looking for additional ideas.

In between all of that, home chores to accomplish, phone calls to return, friends to check on due to illnesses or just because they were going through a tough time, prayer chain requests to lift up to the Lord, and to be honest, a little worrying done over the safety of my world travelers (who, by the way, finally returned home safely from their three-week grand African adventure), and concern for the health of my pregnant daughter also grabbed my attention.

When it came to carving out time to sit down and write for my blog, I thought that either:  a.  I didn’t have time  or b.  I was just too weary/distracted/unmotivated to think coherently let alone write a decent sentence.   If I did snag a little block of time and sit down at the computer, I found myself just vegging out by scrolling through Facebook to see what I may have missed in the lives of friends and family instead of writing a blog post.  Yeah, I know….not a productive use of my time…but mindless which is what I needed I guess.

And that’s where I ran across this little gem.   If you’re addicted to social media in any way, you may find yourself taking these inane quizzes that pop up on your newsfeed.  You know the ones.  What flower are you?  Or what kind of house are you? Or what country are you? 

I usually pass by those but every once in a while I fall prey to one and succumb to taking the quiz.    I admit they are pretty ridiculous and random and I’m fairly certain the answers you get are random as well.  But occasionally, the results of one of those idiotic quizzes makes me think “Hmmm, that kind of does describe me.”

I know.  Silly. 

If you’ve read much of my writing, there is one thing I do think that stands out.  I do try to be genuine.  I attempt to be frank and authentic in my writing and I’ll use that buzz word that seemed to be making the rounds for a while – transparent.

In other words, I try to keep it real.

Well, wouldn’t you know it?  During this ‘off’ time away from writing blog posts, I answered one of those Facebook quizzes  named “What four-letter word best describes you?”  (That sounds a little risky, doesn’t it?) The resulting four-letter word could have been any one of these: hope, calm, kind, love, or real.

And this is what I got:  “REAL. You are a very sincere and honest human being. You’re very much in line with your values, and you always try to be a better person for yourself and for others. As a person with integrity, you are principled and you keep it real like no other. You don’t just talk the talk, you actually walk the walk every single day.”

While I’m not totally convinced that description really does fit me,  as a believer in Jesus I do strive to be the kind of person described in the above paragraph. So, I could explain my blogging world absence by saying I was taking time to concentrate on so many other areas of my life or that I was just so preoccupied with activities and events, I just couldn’t find time to write.

But you know what?  I’m keepin’ it real.  The truth is that my life is no busier than yours is.    And I’m certainly not perfect, nor do I lead a perfect life or keep a perfectly clean, tidy house.  The trash can is overflowing, dirty dishes are piled up in the sink that also needs a thorough scrubbing, and the carpet needs vacuumed. That’s reality. 

But the truth is sometimes I just don’t feel like doing it all.

So why didn’t I write anything during the last few weeks?  Here’s the truth.  I just didn’t feel like it.   And that’s keepin’ it real.

“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When it comes to hopping

I’m not much of a hopper.  I generally leap into something all the way with both feet or stand back and contemplate whether I really want to join in or not.  But today, I am hopping.

No, I’m not hopping mad.  Or hopping down the bunny trail (you have to be old enough to know Here Comes Peter Cottontail for that one).  Nor am I island hopping although the idea of that does sound grand… maybe I just need a vacation.

And I’m not hopping in my socks at the dance (sock hop) either, even though that sounds like fun.  Instead, today I’m blog hopping.  I was invited to participate in a blog hop (who knew there was such a thing?) for today.  My good friend and blogging buddy, Dianna, over at These Days of Mine asked me to join in.

The only requirement to join the blog hop is to answer four questions in a blog post and name, with their permission of course, three fellow bloggers to also answer the questions and post the following Monday.  I had no trouble answering the questions, but unfortunately, only one blogging friend was available to join the blog hop.  So head on over to D’s place at My Five F’s for her answers next week. (And thank you, D, for hopping with me!)

Here are the questions in bold, my answers in italics:

  • How does my creating process work? Many writers have a certain process they follow to start their creative juices flowing.  I’m not one of them.  I just write when I feel compelled to do so.  Usually something I see, hear, or read sparks my interest and sets my mind to writing a blog post.  Sometimes I’m composing it in my head before I even sit down at the computer.  Or I jot down the idea in a notebook to be revisited later.  What kind of things spark my creativity?  It could be a photograph I take or something as simple as looking at an everyday aspect of life in a different way.  Sometimes it’s a scripture I read or a quote that I come across or even one word that inspires me to write.   More times than not, I feel God leading me to write what I do.
  • How does my work differ from others of its genre? I’m not really certain that my work is that different from others but I do write straight from my heart, using my own voice and my own photographs.  My goal is to uplift and encourage and never tear down, so if I use sarcasm, it’s only in a joking way.  I think my writing style is conversational; I write like I talk.   Not to be too heavy or serious, yet not silly or frivolous either,  I aim for balance.  My purpose is to inspire and encourage my readers in some way and always to make my blog a warm and inviting place.  I like to imagine my reader and I are just sitting down with a cup of tea and having a nice chat.
  • What am I working on? Well, of course I work on my blog regularly and I take pictures a lot (I’m in love with my camera).  But I’m also working on a devotional book and –gasp! – I can’t believe I’m actually putting this ‘out there,’ but I’m writing a work of fiction.  It may never get published, who knows, but I’m having a lot of fun writing it.  I’ve never believed I was creative enough to write fiction and make up characters, plot, and all of that because I’ve always been a non-fiction writer (just the facts. ma’am), but the characters that are running around my imagination and now appearing on my computer screen have taken on a life of their own and are now telling me what to write.  A little scary, maybe? But definitely producing growth in me as a writer.
  • Why do I create what I do? Sometimes, it’s like I just need to get the words out.  I said it before and I’ll say it again – I feel compelled to do so.  It’s like a fountain of words just erupts from my heart and mind and gushes out all over the place.  When I first started my blog, I wrote for myself, to place the words that swirled around inside my brain into an orderly fashion so I could deal with them.  But now, several years later, I don’t just write for myself; my readers are always on my mind.  I love to encourage and uplift them by sharing my own experiences in hopes that what I write touches their hearts and gives them pause for thought.

So now you know a little bit more about me.  But let me thank you, my readers.  Because every time you hop on over here to my empty nest place, you make me happy enough to hop up and down excitedly.

“The writer catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind.”   ~ British novelist Vita Sackville-West

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Give me a T!

Wonderful Team Member Award

Wonderful Team Member Award

You know that old acronym – TEAM?

Together Everyone Achieves More.  It’s true.  It not only applies to the business world but to volunteer organizations as well. 

When we work together as a team, accomplishments happen.  Ideas and dreams become realities.  Working in tandem with others also lightens the load. 

And I think all of that definitely applies here in the blogging world.

Yes, you can be a solo blogger in your own little world.  You may be the type of writer who bleeds out your fears, thoughts, life trials, and sometimes your innermost thoughts and you do it just for yourself.  You don’t want interaction with other bloggers and you don’t care if you have readers or not.

But I suspect most of us are really TEAM bloggers.  Yes, we often write transparently and put our thoughts ‘out there’ in the wide internet world for all to see.  But we cherish our readers and those who take the time to leave a comment whether it’s just a simple “I like this” or a paragraph or two of encouragement.  And that floats our boats and makes us feel like we’re all in this together.

We are a team.  We form communities of writing friends because something strikes a chord in us when we interact with them.  We feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.  It reminds me of a quote by A.A. Milne who wrote the Winnie the Pooh books:  “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”  

And when you ‘go’ to other bloggers, you find your place on a team making you feel like you’re one of the vital elements of the squad.   Call it a team, a crew, a group, a club, a posse…whatever you call it, you’re a part of it!

Quite a while ago, one of my blogging friends – yes, my teammate – bestowed the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award upon Mama’s Empty Nest.  And in all the busyness that has been going on, I almost neglected to acknowledge this honor.

I’m tickled to have Dor at Virginia Views on my crew.  Not only does her witty writing in her blog delight me  with funny stories, observations, and her photographs, but she also sends me the most encouraging comments.  She’s like the enthusiastic cheerleader that you definitely want on your squad rooting for you!  So I thank her, first for being my wonderful friend, and secondly for the award.

This award is simple.  You don’t have to answer questions.  You don’t even have to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time!  All you have to do is acknowledge your team – fellow bloggers who you truly appreciate.

Here are the rules:

  1. The Nominee shall display the logo on his/her blog.
  2. The Nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little.
  3. The Nominee shall name his/her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post or on posts during 7 days.

Now some of my favorite bloggers aren’t into these awards, so as their teammate, I’m not expecting or pressuring them to participate.  I simply want them to know how very much I do value their friendships.

So here goes.  Give me a P! Because I am proud, privileged, and pleased to pass the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award to these people:

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  ~ Helen Keller

Give me a T!  E!  A!  M!  What’s it spell? TEAM!  Go Team!

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A moment in time

Best Moment AwardIt’s my busy season at work.  I tend to get stretched a little too far and wound a little too tight this time of year as I maneuver my way into the hope of rest and relaxation in the upcoming summer months.

So I find myself looking ahead much like this quote attributed to cartoonist Bill Watterson, the guy who draws the lovable Calvin & Hobbes comic strip:  “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” 

I suppose taking the time to enjoy where we are could be called living in the best moment.  Well, one of those best moments happened along my way recently. 

Even though I’ve been a little derelict in blogging lately because of time restraints, I’ve managed to attract some new readers.  And if you’re one of those delightful people who clicked the follow button, thank you for joining me and my world here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  I hope you find something worthwhile to read, enjoy, or maybe even inspire you here – maybe even your own little moment in time.

One of those new readers is  A Blessed Pilgrim, at His Eye Is On the Sparrow.   I haven’t had a tremendous amount of time to spend perusing  her posts, but what I have read makes me desirous for more.  Her blog title and tag line – “Because without Him, I’m challenged! Finding hope in hopelessness” – touches my heart.

On one of my harried days in the middle of a hectic week, I quickly logged into my blog to find some new comments waiting for my approval.  One of them was from Blessed Pilgrim alerting me that she had nominated my blog for not just one but two awards – the “Best Moment Award” and the “Liebster Blog Award.”

Now I know not everyone appreciates these awards, but when a reader takes the time to notice my blog and give me this gift of letting others know about me, I want to thank that person and show my appreciation.  I’ve received the Liebster award previously, so I’m going to pass on it, except to thank Blessed Pilgrim for sending it my way again. 

The Best Moment Award caught my eye because I haven’t seen it before.  So I clicked on Blessed Pilgrim’s blog post in order to read more about this honor.  As I read her words, they brightened my day. 

Here’s what she wrote:  “Blogger awards are a good kind of chain letter.  They are to bless the nominated blogger who gets them, and bless those they recommend.  Unlike chain letters, there is no evil curse at the end if one doesn’t follow through.  Thank heavens; there is enough bad stuff out there.  They are kind of like the Halloween Trick-or-Treat without the Trick.” 

I liked that!  Of course, I’m all about treats!

So please, go visit Blessed Pilgrim’s blog and indulge me as I follow the rules for the Best Moment Award: 1)Placing the award on your blog (lined up on my Awards Page); 2)Answer a few questions (giving you some insight into what makes me tick); and 3)Nominate some of your favorite bloggers (there are so many, so please don’t feel slighted if I missed you).

Best Moment Award Questions:

Who inspires you?  I’d say first of all, the Lord God inspires me.  Everywhere I look, I see His handiwork…in nature, in people, in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches I experience.  How could all of those things created by Him not inspire me?  Next, I would say so many of my fellow bloggers inspire me with their words, their pictures, their thoughts, and their encouragement.

What is the hardest part about blogging, if any? For me, it’s finding enough time to develop all of the many, many ideas zooming around in my brain and jotted down in my notebook.

What is your favorite quote? Oh my, that’s difficult since I am a keeper of quotes.  I love so many, but I’m going to go with a simple one.  “Just keep swimming.” ~ by Dory the Fish in Finding Nemo (Surprised you with that one, huh?)

What is your favorite dessert?  I love chocolate but when it comes to having an evening dessert, chocolate keeps me awake at night! So my favorite dessert is a really good lemon meringue pie or maybe key lime. Yum.

What skill do you wish you had taken the time to learn when you were growing up? Learning how to cook and bake like my mother.  I still haven’t managed to make a good pie crust like she did. 

What is the one activity you wish you had the time to pursue? Photography.  I love taking photos especially with my new camera and if I had a little more free time, I’d read my camera’s instruction book cover to cover to really understand all of its features and maybe even take a photography class.  Ah, maybe I can carve out some time this summer for this pursuit.

If money was no issue, where would you like to travel? I’d do a grand tour of Europe with extra time spent in England where a great many of my ancestors came from.  And then I think I’d journey to Australia.

What is your favorite holiday? Hands down, it’s Christmas.  I love every single thing about it. The decorating, the food, the greetings, the gifting, the music, and most of all, the remembrance of the greatest gift ever given to mankind.

What is your favorite pastime?  I work crossword puzzles almost every day.  I find it helps my memory and keeps my mind sharper, plus I’m compulsive enough to want to finish each one completely.

What book are you currently reading? I’m continually reading my Bible.  I’m also in the middle of a couple books about God’s grace.  And to throw a different flavor into the mix, I like to go back and re-read some classics.  Right now, it’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Do you play a musical instrument?   As a young girl, I took piano lessons for several years, so I can play that instrument.  Am I good at it?  Well, let’s just say I enjoy my own little concerts by myself in my living room.

And now…drum roll please…these are my nominations for the Best Moment Award.  These bloggers always provide amazing fodder for my eyes either to read or see through their photographs. (Click on their blog names to visit them!)

Montana Outdoors 

These Days of Mine 

Living in Graceland  

Georgette Sullins Blog 

Virginia Views 

The two bloggers I’ve listed below don’t even know that I exist.  They are well-known and have thousands of followers and I am just one of them.  But I love what they write, and have found some best moments reading their blogs, and maybe you will too.

Ann Voskamp’s  A Holy Experience 

Angie Smith’s Bring the Rain 

On this best day of the year, whether you’re a blogger or just a blog reader, I hope you find some inspiration to live in your best moment.

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com