Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Dresser Project

I had a blast taking on this beauty recently. I bought it for five bucks at a yard sale.
 
 
I sanded it down and slapped on two coats of Annie Sloan Old White paint, after staining the top Ebony and coating it with a clear glossy wax.
(Streaks of pink kept bleeding through in small areas, which I learned often happens with furniture from the 30s & 40s. I coated those areas with clear wax & then painted over it as soon as it dried.)
 
 
Then I got down to business distressing. I sanded the edges and worked it over good. In certain areas I used a pencil eraser to add in a darker stain (the same Ebony stain as I used for the top).
 
And here's the end result...
 


And one with a very curious dog...

 
 
  
 
Many of you know me as a writer and a mom. But this is a whole other side of me.
I love working with furniture.
 
Do you have a hobby not many people know about?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Delighting in the Imaginary


 
I’m reading Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks. It’s books like this that make me insanely appreciative that I’m able to read. And it’s books like this that bring me back to Laura and Gin Gin—my pretend friends from childhood. A witch and a ghost respectively. (I was born on Halloween.) Even though I had three older sisters, I still delighted in and sought out the company of Laura and Gin Gin.

Imagination was encouraged in our house growing up. I hope to pass this love of the possible on to my girls. There’s something electric, beautiful, and freeing when the mind is uncaged. Potential has a heartbeat of its own. I want to hear the pulse of that beat in my house always.

The imaginary keeps finding a way to reinvent itself in my life. To the point it often hopes to be mistaken for what’s real. I’m now referring to my characters. They can be feisty and stubbornly present. They interrupt during conversations, set up camp in my yard, and infiltrate my dreams. But I admit this with a smile on my face. Because stirred up from the dust are electric and beautiful beings my mind has figured out how to free.

So whether I’m daydreaming about shapes in the clouds with my children, characters on a mission in my WIP, or skipping amidst questions that begin with the infamous “what if,” I say long live it all. Long live the imaginary.


“It's true that writing is a solitary occupation, but you would be surprised at how much companionship a group of imaginary characters can offer once you get to know them.” Anne Tyler

Did you have pretend friends growing up? Do your children?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When Is It Time to Give Up On Your Dream?



 
 
 
Never.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Is It about Book Clubs . . .

that I love so much?

I won’t be bashful. I’ll come right out and give you ten things that get me jazzed about book clubs.

1.       They’re breeding grounds for laughter.

2.       Book clubs provide mental stimulation. It’s like Lumosity for literature lovers (say that 10 times fast).

3.       I’m able to reflect upon a book once I’ve read it, exploring concepts and characters at a more felt level.

4.       I discuss topics and characters in ways I’d never have the opportunity to do in other circumstances.

5.       When I’m visiting a group that’s read one of my books, I’m always amazed what readers teach me about my characters and stories. It’s insanely rewarding to hear the takeaways.

6.       Book clubs conjure an appreciation for literature and books that have rocked my world in the past. There’s this magical invisible weave that strings from one mind-blowing book to the next.

7.       Book groups are wonderful settings to receive and sift through diverse opinions.

8.       They make me feel less alone, as women come together and open up in refreshingly honest conversations.

9.       They introduce me to new authors.

10.   Okay I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for the food & wine, too.

 

If your book club is interested in reading THE DISAPPEARING KEY or THE FLOWER GIRLS, I’d love know. Please send me an email with the details. If you’re local, I’ll make the effort to visit in person. I’ve also Skyped and spoken on the phone with clubs before, too.

 

 

& Happy Book Birthday to THE DISAPPEARING KEY!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Facing the Inevitable Hard Decision


There are times in life when we all have to make difficult decisions. They can feel like someone cracking open our chest with a crowbar or these moments can feel more subtle, like scratching off a scab.

No matter how it feels, I happen to believe it matters how we take on times of decision.

Here are a few things that I’ve gleaned from going through challenging times of resolution. . .

Confront the Situation Honestly

No use pretending conflict away. It’s not going anywhere. In fact, hear that? It’s your conscience knocking, telling you it’s time. I know it’s tempting to blow something off when you don’t want to deal with it. Or to sugarcoat and twist it to be something more innocuous than it really is. Take off the rose-colored glasses and face it for the ugly green monster it is.

Recognize Patterns

Pattern behavior can serve as a wonderful guide when you’re wondering whether or not you think someone will change. Can people change? I absolutely believe they can, but I also believe if they’re demonstrating similar behavior repeatedly, it’s time to pay attention. Which leads me to. . .

Be Realistic about Expectations

It’s helpful to take a good hard look at your role in the situation. Are you the one who needs to make some adjustments? Have you done anything to make the decision more challenging than it has to be? Let your emotions take over? Lacked empathy? Demonstrated apathy? It’s important to have realistic expectations of how things will play out after your decision is imparted.

Consult Trusted Mentors & Friends

It’s wise to receive valuable insight from people who’ve made smart choices in the past. Reach out. You might be surprised by what you learn. It also provides comfort and accountability, so you can be reminded that you’re not alone.

Take Care of Yourself in the Process

Stress can wreak havoc on the body. Think Space Invaders on your healthy cells. Be mindful of this. Get plenty of rest. Take walks. Breathe. I still appreciate the scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding when Julia Roberts is on the floor of the hotel, crushed, and the concierge bends down and tells her, “This too shall pass.” It’s a great thing to say to yourself during times like these.

Maintain Integrity

Because emotions are generally inflamed when you endure trials, it would be easy to whip up some pies like those found in the pages of The Help. Yep, you know what I’m referring to. But don’t. Don’t go pooping in your pies. Keep focused. Remember who you want to be in times like this. Cling to character and class no matter how hurt you feel. It’ll speak volumes.

Hope in the Future

Life’s pretty cool in that it keeps on going. You don’t enter a comatose state once you’ve followed through with your decision. You go on. Life goes on. So Obladi. Oblada . . . make it count.

Ever have to make a hard decision? What helped you in the process?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Five Surprising Ways You Could Be Unintentionally Hurting Yourself


 
Spending Too Much Time Online

I admit, I write this with five sites open, from my glass house. But I feel it. When I’ve spent too much time online and not playing fetch with my dog or getting outside I miss fresh air. My chest gets that cobwebby feeling and my legs cramp up after I’ve spent too much cross-legged time at my desk.

I’ve written about this before, but an overabundance of time online can also complicate things in regards to comparing with others, planting unrealistic impressions, and creating a false sense of security.

The Glorification of Busy

Yep, this is me again. Writing and watching as the words appear behind my glass computer screen. There’s something to be said for unencumbered simplicity. Let’s get back there. Let’s find it again. Even if it means having to get creative with carpools and letting the laundry go another day. (However, one of my favorite Pinterest pins says, ‘Laundry today or Naked tomorrow.’)

Processing Something to Death

I’m a processor. Don’t believe me? I used to call the woman I coached soccer with to discuss how our recreational soccer games went. Believe me now?

But I’m not really referring to kid soccer games here. I’m talking about a deep hurt or a bitterness that you stroke again and again, thinking it’s helping you sort it out and get over it. When really, it’s not. It’s just a way for you to remember the hurt. To massage it as a validation the scar went deep and you are entitled to your pain. You are entitled to your pain. So feel it and get through it. Don’t fall into the trap of mistaking processing for coddling.

Refusing to Admit When You’re Stuck

Eh hem. Me again. Writing from the pit. Got a hand?

The only reason I can speak to any of these points is because I’ve lived them or I’m still living them. And I’ve encountered firsthand evidence of the damage they cause. This one gets tricky because we can be really skilled at calling stuck something other than what it is. I’m “granting grace” or I’m getting older and no one expects as much from me as they used to. How about just plain being unwilling to try something new or getting a little too comfortable with your pit surroundings.

Being stuck is not a crime. Once we acknowledge that we’re having difficulty moving, we’re a lot more likely to seek out the reasons why. And then maybe we’ll even do something about it.

Mistaking Impulsiveness for Calculated Risks

I’m a risk taker so I’m quite familiar with this one. It comes down to discerning whether I’m basing my decision on feelings, experience, or something else. One of the best ways you can tell if you’re simply being impulsive is when you’re unwilling or hesitant to consider the potential consequences that could result from your dive. This is exceedingly important when you look down and discover there’s no water in the pool.

I like to pass on what I’ve learned and what I’m learning. Hope these thoughts help you today as they’ve helped me.

Can you think of any other ways we might be hurting ourselves without knowing it?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Don’t Let ‘Em Fool You (& some song lyrics)


A lot of exciting things have been happening in my life lately. Book signings. Just read a great write-up in the local paper about me entitled, “The Sweet Taste of Success.” Reviews for both of my books are strong. My husband and I are about to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary. My girls are back in school and I’m working hard on another story I can’t wait to share with you. I post some of this on social media. And some day-to-day happenings I keep to myself. To stroke and play with like a soft little bunny.
When I thought about what I wanted to blog about today my mind kept snagging on the word image. Particularly image on Facebook.
Life has a tendency to appear quite rosy on Facebook. For you. For me. For all of us. It’s only natural we want to put our best out there, but I wanted to share in this post how life isn’t a status update. It isn’t the best picture of twenty. It’s more than just the images we put out there of us when we’re in public or laughing with friends.
Life is a mixed bag. And while I respect that it’s wise not to dump our emotional baggage online at anyone who will click it open, I also think it’s good to remind ourselves that life isn’t a snapshot on Facebook. Social media is only a glimpse, and a glimpse we choose to share at that.
So in light of what I just wrote, I’m going to be candid. There’s a lot more going on in my life than book signings and articles that dub me a success. I often fight feelings of failure. I grieve friendships and find myself singing the following Bob Marley lyrics every so often. “Good friends we have. Good friends we’ve lost along the way.” Even though we have an adorable new pup, I still miss our old dog a lot. I get sad about family members battling sicknesses. I get frustrated with middle school girls who act rude. I have trouble acting normal when I’m nervous (nod to Counting Crows lyrics).
“And I’m gonna be forty.” (In a little over a year, but still Meg Ryan understands.)
So I write all this to remind you…
We’re in this together, people. And it’s never as real as it seems online. Don’t let ‘em fool you. (Hey, I do believe that’s Bob, too.)