Monthly Archives: April 2013

“I did it!” and other lessens from my toddler

We have a new phrase in our house, “I did it!” We are in full-out potty training mode with Baby Markey and each time she does her business where it’s suppose to be done she yells, “I did it!” That was the start. Now anytime she does anything of any significance she yells, “I did it” and it’s very contagious.

When was the last time you praised yourself? I’m not talking about going to the bathroom any more, I’m talking about giving you some credit. I find it easy to get caught up in my hectic life and forget to praise myself for meeting my word count or making another healthy dinner for my family despite a rigorous deadline schedule. Life is busy but I really believe that shouldn’t stop us from recognizing the accomplishments that we meet no matter how small they are.

Baby Markey checking out Mom's reading glasses

Baby Markey checking out Mom’s reading glasses

In our kitchen we have a stainless, dry-erase board. Each day I put the date, an inspirational quote and the daily menu up. Sometimes the message is religious, funny or a quote. Yesterday I used one from Stephen King. I usually reserve inspirational writing quotes for my office but I believe that this one applies to us all. “When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time.” Think of all great things – take the Egyptian pyramids for example. They had to have been built bit by bit with hard work. Look at the pay off. All of our biggest dreams are composed of smaller actions. I want to see my fictional stories in the hands of readers. I know that this dream can only become real by writing word by word.

So, thanks to my daughter I no longer scoff at a finished page thinking of everything else that has to be done before the story can be submitted. Now I say, “I did it!”

Life goes by fast but that doesn’t mean we should ignore our accomplishments. I say, “I did it!” after completing each day’s to do list rather than flipping the page to immediately remind myself of the next day’s tasks. And it feels good. Congratulations comes at the completion of something. Why shouldn’t it be sprinkled throughout, pushing us forward to the goal?

Do you praise yourself for the little things completed? Our children are so innocent and focused on the now rather than the million things that crowd our grown up minds. Has your child reminded you about something valuable in life lately?

“I did it!” This blog post is complete. Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend. For me in Saudi it’s the end of the weekend and tomorrow begins a new workweek but I’ll celebrate the small things and relish in my daughter’s shouts of “I did it!”

Tagged , , , , ,

The love for books transcends International difference

Books are powerful. They grant knowledge and take us to exciting new worlds. This year my family began an incredible journey. We moved to Saudi Arabia and yes we took our dog and two rabbits too. It’s been an adventure settling in, getWed 4-24ting our things shipped from the states, buying a car, meeting new friends and feeling like the minority for the first time in our lives. I learn something new about the culture every week. For example, this week I learned that there is a proper way to pour tea. And no I’m not talking about the need to extend one’s pinky as Disney’s Princess Sofia is taught in the new “Sofia The First” television show.

I’m always learning new things but this week I’ve been reminded that we all have one thing in common–a passion for books. This week I’ve been honored to participate in the Dhahran Library Week and World Book Day celebration. It’s been wonderful to meet with and talk to authors, writers and readers of the Middle East and Eastern Province.

Though I’m new and still learning about Saudi Arabia, when I ask attendees what Library Week means to them the answer is always the same. It’s to promote and celebrate a passion for reading. A love that transcends oceans, customs and different ways of life.

Tagged , , , ,

What book inspired you to write?

I’ve always loved to read. When I was little I used to sit in my closet and read C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.” Hey, a closet was the closest thing I had to a wardrobe and yet I only visited Narnia in my mind.

When I was in college and then the professional world that followed, it was easy to trade reading for needed sleep as I continued to get busier and busier. However, I never settled to put fiction away and enjoyed countless tales even if it took me a little longer to read thsmithcrownduelem.

A while ago a friend of mine recommended that I read “Crown Duel” by Sherwood Smith. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:
It begins in a cold and shabby tower room, where young Countess Meliara swears to her dying father that she and her brother will defend their people from the growing greed of the king. That promise leads them into a war for which they are ill prepared, a war that threatens the homes and lives of the very people they are trying to protect.
But war is simple compared to what follows, when the bloody fighting is done and a fragile peace is at hand. Although she wants to turn her back on politics and the crown, Meliara is summoned to the royal palace. There, she soon discovers that, friends an
d enemies look alike, and intrigue fills the dance halls and the drawing rooms. If she is to survive, Meliara must learn a whole new way of fighting—with wit and words and secret alliances. In war, at least, she knew whom she could trust. Now she can trust no one.

Sounds good, right? I loved this book and Smith’s use of setting and intriguing quickly inspired my mind into dreaming up worlds and tales of my own. Before reading this book I only wrote articles and non-fiction works. After falling in love with Smith’s fantasy world I starting making notes and writing fiction of my own. It is my greatest goal to soon bring my fiction to readers and maybe even inspire a younger generation of readers as Lewis and Smith inspired me.

What book or books inspired you to write?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Non-fictional heroes live among us

As a writer I love to read. Most fictional tales introduce us to heroes in varying roles. Some characters have supernatural abilities others just have the strength to prevail and endure whatever situation they find themselves in. The truth is that you don’t have to read to find heroes. They are among us disguised as everyday, ordinary people who step up when they are needed. The unfortunate events of this week’s Boston bombings are true examples of goodness that shines through pure evil.

We’ve all heard the heroic tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things on 9/11. As CNN pointed out this week, “It can happen anywhere.” This was a cruel reality that we learned on 9/11 and are reminded of when disaster strikes but people are amazing. ThoughMedical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) I hate reading of the terror of the Boston Bombings I can’t help but feel inspired and proud of the heroes that rushed to help the victims during the crisis.

The Associated Press reports on the horrible event by showing the quick response and heroics from the police department during the crisis through the dispatch radio’s broadcast.

Their acts of bravery should inspire us all to rise up and help no matter how small or large the deed is. This has actually been on mind as I’ve been working with a new charity for my upcoming non-fiction book. I’m hoping to be able to make a difference to the pet community here in my new home of Saudi Arabia.

Few of us get the opportunity to become heroes during major crisis events. I pray that I never experience such an event as the people of Boston did this week. No matter how small, good people do great deeds everyday. These acts work to make our communities better and stronger so that we can withstand such major, horrific events.

What have you done lately to make a positive difference in your community? How do you think you can make a difference? What’s holding you back?

Tagged , , , , ,

What plans?

The number one thing parenting has taught me is to never make plans. In fact, get up early and work as if the day is booked because you never know when a trip to the ER or another “crisis” can occur. The other day I had the entire day scheduled for writing. I even had dinner already going in the slow cooker. The day was on track to being perfect when Baby Markey suddenly couldn’t walk. She normally only knows one speed, go but out of the blue she couldn’t put weight on her left leg.

We ended up in the ER and after hours of testing we learned that she just had some hip inflammation left over from her recent viral infection.

Surprisingly I still got a lot accomplished that day but it was just one of many examples as to why no parent should count on plans. I’ve come to be surprised if anything goes as planned. I really do get up early and get the most prioritized tasks accomplished first.

Sometimes our altered plans are good. The other day Baby Markey was insistent that I sit with her and watch “Beauty and the Beast.” When I sat snuggled up with my little angel singing “Be Our Guest,” there was no other place that I wanted to be or anything else that I’d rather be doing.

Cherish the good changes in your schedule and take care of what matters most when the not so good changes happen.

How do you work and prepare for those things that pop up and ruin our plans? Do you work ahead or get up early?

Tagged , , , ,

Why my daughter thinks all phones are cameras

Baby Markey has a toy kitchen. It’s a great toy and she loves to “cook” family meals. The other morning she was “making” some scrambled eggs while talking on the play phone. She put her play conversation on hold and said, “just minute, need to take pictures.” She began taking play pictures with the phone of her play food. She believed that this play phone was also a camera and it got me thinking how different her generation will be from mine. April 10 blog

Today smart phones can practically run our lives. I do have an actual camera in addition to my iPhone but honestly most of my pictures are taken by my iPhone as I’m caught in the moment. It’s easy to see how my toddler will assume that cameras and phones are the same item just used for different purposes.

I also worry about my daughter’s generation when it comes to books. Now I love my iPad and ibooks. It’s easier for travel and to carry around and it definitely solves the problem of my overflowing bookcases. However, I still love holding an actual book and getting lost in its pages. I once saw a Good Morning America story that showed toddlers holding magazines and tapping the pictures expecting something to happen like a graphic from an app.

My daughter plays with apps but I will not purchase her ebooks. I want her to hold her books and turn the physical pages. Technology is great but I really often worry about how it is changing younger generations. I remember life without email, apps and that nagging feeling I now have to constantly be connected to my world.

I’m not saying that kids should avoid technology or that technology is bad but it is interesting when it starts to change the perceptive usage of a toy to a child.

Have you seen similar acts from your child that you can trace to modern technology? Do you set a limit on computer or iPad time for your child?

Tagged , , , , ,

A week closer to potty training and a finished manuscript- Celebrating the little things

Today I didn’t do any work even though I had things on my to do list. Why? It’s important to celebrate the little things. Our daughter went this week with no accidents (as far as number 1 is concerned.) In our ongoing battle with potty training our stubborn toddler, this wApril 5as something worth celebrating. As if we didn’t need more reason for a family fun day, we were also celebrating the middle grade novel that I finished this week. Yes, I have many goals to reach; yet none of that could happen if I didn’t finish this draft.

We all have big goals and dreams but it’s important to take time and enjoy the smallest accomplishments. As our reward, we spent the day at the mall. We had a sand storm that day in Saudi, which means that any outdoor activities are out of the question. Lucky for us a certain little girl needed a new summer wardrobe and a brand new, totally epic toy store opened in the mall. Needless to say we had wonderful family time and even though I neglected some things for it, I know I feel more refreshed tonight.

Days like this are important to have. Without the small victories in life our dreams would be forgotten. When was the last time you celebrated something no matter how little the accomplishment may seem to you? Did you include your family in this time of celebration?

Tagged , , , , ,

When you have to save the world…

So that may sound dramatic but this is what makes me write, workout, clean or anything that requires motivation. No, I know I can’t really save the world but thanks to the right theatrical score, I can definitely fool myself. I need music in my life. Without it nothing seems to get accomplished and it can’t just be any music. I need heroic sounding theatrical scores from movies.

Nothing motivates like a heroic tune. How can I get off the elliptical machine when that music makes me want to take down the villain or save the world from a number of natural disasters?

It’s almost to the point that when a new action flick comes out I’m more interested in its score. As for my writing, I often chose which score to listen to based on what kind of scene I’m working with.

Currently my favorites are “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon” and “X-Men: First Class.” I seem to rotate out various scores and I get so excited when I get a new one.

However lately, I could probably do anything to the sound of Baby Markey counting to ten. Now that she can do that it is all she wants to do and I love the sound of her sweet voice.

Everyone has their unique rituals they follow while navigating life. What do you need to accomplish work or just everyday life? I now give you some great heroic music as you enjoy your Wednesday!

Tagged , , , ,