Saturday, December 4, 2010

Did You Ever Have One of Those Dreams?

Last night, I tossed and turned for hours. I’d had coffee at two o’clock in the afternoon and it had me literally buzzing. I kept imagining Speed Racer driving his race car through my veins in his final victory race, complete with flips and spins. Yet his race went on for hours.

The end of October up until now has been chaos filled. My family has fallen sick like dominoes that pop back up and then fall back down again. Enough.

So last night I wasn’t feeling very happy. I was thinking that my dad would come to me in my dream as he usually does when I’m having a hard time. But when I finally did fall asleep, I did not dream about Dad.

I had a dream about random friends from all throughout my life. I was ecstatic to see them all. One friend came to say, “I’m leaving now." I hugged her tight and sobbed.

Then another friend I haven’t talked to in 18 or so years told me that he would be in room 514, and to come by to say hello. I got sidetracked on my way there by more friends, all along the way hugging me and giving me positive energy.

Finally, another man-an acquaintance, really-came to me and told me that some people he knew were judging him and he didn’t know if he could take them being in his life anymore. I advised him to emotionally distance himself from them, but he said that was impossible because he worked with them. I then told him that all people are in our lives to teach us lessons, and those who give us the strongest feelings-or conflicts-are there to teach us the most valuable ones. He liked my thinking.

As soon as our conversation was finished, I startled awake. Speed Racer was at it again, his car refueled and ready for more laps. I lay there thinking of what I could write about if only I could pull myself out from under the warmth of my blankets.

Letters. Yes, that’s it, letters. What would I say to these people in my life? My mind traced down the list of people who have left their impression on me, going over in my mind what I would write to them.

Remember. I will remember in the morning, I thought as I finally dozed back to sleep.

Yet when I awoke, the moment had been lost. Somewhere in the middle of the night I wasn’t afraid to tell these people how much I loved them. I wasn’t afraid of rejection. But by morning the letters I had composed in my mind to the friends in my life had been drowned out by ego and fear.

And why didn’t Dad come to me, I wondered. Why did I dream about my friends?

Because Dad is no longer here on the earthly plane and he was directing me to those other people who are so important to me.

So now, my friends, I may not be able to tell you all directly. Some of you I don’t even talk to anymore.

I love you. And thank you for being my friend.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Good Reads

Looking for some excellent reading material?

Ellen Meister, author of The Smart One and Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, has a new book coming out.

Meister’s intriguing new book, The Other Life, is now available for pre-order. Check it out:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Writer's Camp and Writer's Cramp (AKA Carpal Tunnel)

National Novel Writing Month has just begun. Along with participating, I decided to add in some layers to another story. Plus there’s my website that needed updating. And now … my hands are aching.

I had actually forgotten about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome since I’ve never experienced sore hands before. Worse than uncomfortable bones though, I have painful fingertips. I imagine placing some kind of blister patches on my fingers to protect them from the keyboard. Or I could invest in some ergonomic gel pads for my mouse:

Perhaps eventually I could invest in some voice recording software to audio tape my stories instead.

For me, part of the fun of writing is in the typing though, so I guess I will be soaking my hands a lot this month, and rubbing essential oils on them to ease the pain.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How To Maintain Healthy Posture (While Writing Your Novel)

So I mentioned in my last post that I thought it would be nice to have a particular addition to my work station. The problem is I don’t really have a work station. I move my laptop around to wherever is quietest at the moment.

If I did have an office though, I would really want the ergonomic, posture chair, recommended by chiropractors to position the body as though it is standing instead of sitting … back pain and slouching be gone.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Helpful National Novel Writing Month Tools

National Novel Writing Month (November) is just around the corner and I’m getting my mind in order early this year. Last year, I dove in on November 1 and started writing without much of a plan. I was actually pleased with what flowed out of my fingers, but I thought I would actually try to put together an outline this year to see whether there is any difference in results. I’ll let you know at the end of the month.

I noted in an interview with Ridley Pearson in the November 2010 issue of The Writer magazine that he said he uses the software StoryMill to write his novels. However, StoryMill is for Mac computers and I own a PC. I’ve used Microsoft’s Word to write my stories up until now and decided that I needed some of my own novel writing software to help me keep track of everything more easily this November.

What did I find?  yWriter

What is yWriter? The designer, Simon Haynes, explains, “First, and most important, yWriter is FREE to download and use! No registration, no time limits, no expiry. Second, and still rather important, it's a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes. It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas or perform creative tasks of any kind. It does help you keep track of your work, leaving your mind free to create.

I have to say, I am quite excited about this software. It makes story organization simple. I already feel more structured from a 10-minute quickie to check it out. I’m almost ready to take on November’s National Novel Writing Month. If you’d like to buddy up with me on NaNoWriMo, you can add me here.

On the other hand, if you’d rather spend November writing poetry instead of a novel, give Robert Brewer’s November PAD Chapbook Challenge a try. Spend November writing a daily poem from the prompts Robert throws out. His prompts are enjoyable and challenging. Last year, I participated whenever I needed a break from my novel writing.

There is something else I wouldn’t mind having to help my creative juices flow. It has something to do with my work station. Aw, but I will have to save that for later. I hear my characters calling me … 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices in the Silence

I read an interesting tidbit of information this morning. Well, it’s especially interesting to me now after what just happened.

I read my horoscope every day, mainly for entertainment purposes. This morning, my Facebook horoscope said, “If you've been waiting for important news or a message, Sagittarius, it's likely to arrive today, because the emphasis today is on communication. Outside of receiving things you're looking for through standard communications channels, keep your eyes and ears open and be sensitive to what others are saying and to what they're meaning. Messages of note can come through nonstandard or even extraordinary channels as well today. You do need to listen and not chat; small talk will not provide anything of importance today.”

Okay, so stepping back a bit … after uniting with some Austrian family members over the Internet, I decided it was time to do something I’ve been thinking about for a while – brush up on my German language skills. So this morning I did a search on the Internet for websites where I could start to recall what German language skills I had learned so many years ago. I found a site with spoken phrases and was practicing for a bit, but then decided it was time to retire to my room to work on some writing.

Several hours later, after sending out my book query to prospective agents, I was reading a piece of mail from a friend of mine talking about her blog. Just last night I had been reading up on how to better use Google Ad Sense with my Internet endeavors, and as I was reading her mail, I heard a voice coming from the other room. Getting up to investigate, I looked around to see if there were any strange men standing outside my house.

No, no men anywhere that I could see.

It had to be the other computer, I decided.

So I ambled over to my desktop PC where it had seemingly gone to sleep. I moved the mouse around to wake it up and clicked on the button so I could hear the voice again.

“Das Geschaft,” it said; or as it means in English, “Business.”

Now I don’t always profess to tell you what I make of these strange happenings around me. I know what it means to me, but it might be fun for you to try to figure it out. I might even enjoy hearing about it, so feel free to tell me. Yeah, even if you think I’m nuts. That’s okay. Anything for a chuckle.  :-)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Double Double

Double double.

Oddly enough that saying has come up … twice … in the past few days, each time in a different context. And for those who know me, you already know that when something keeps poking its head into my existence, I take it as a sign.

The first time it came up was when I was teaching my son his times tables. There are quite a few tricks for learning multiplication, one of which is the “double double” or “double twice” trick with the 4s. Take the number that 4 is being multiplied by and “double double” it (or double twice) to get the answer.

The second time I saw this term was when I was learning some meditation tricks from Burt Goldman. Burt explains on his blog, “This is one of the most powerful techniques I use and it's called The Duo Technique or the Double Double as I call it. Use it for anything that is bothering you, from the past or present and for recurring problems in your life.”

Although there are some skeptics of Burt’s systems, I personally love his work. You can see how the Double Double works by watching his video.

So these are the two occurrences that happened in my life of “Double Double.” What else does this saying make you think of? Yes, you guessed right. Shakespeare’s MacBeth.

Theater. Acting. Writing. Hmmm … someone is just helping me to stay on the path towards my goals, I suppose (either that or it was a reminder that Halloween is coming).

By the way, did you realize that November is right around the corner? You do know what that means, right? National Novel Writing Month. Here is my NaNoWriMo profile page if anyone would like to be my writing buddy.

Now get me an ice cream cone. Make it a double double scoop.
Or an espresso … a double double shot, please. Monday is almost here ... :-)

A Day With The Barkers

At the last minute, I decided to make a movie in celebration of October 10, 2010. However, since I had no preparation time, I decided to make a film of our day instead of making it symbolic of the date. We attended the Bow Wows and Meows Animal Fair at Hart Park and here is the movie I made. :-)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Seeking Online Literary Magazine Submissions

If you’re reading this and you are a writer, I would like to invite you to submit your writing to my new online literary magazine, Mouse Tales Press.  I started the site as a venue where new or emerging writers could display their work. Eventually, I will be creating a kids’ section and am toying with the idea of a section for photography and fine art.

Also, please be sure to read the interview with Christina Katz that I posted before this one. Her books are an excellent resource for new writers and well worth the investment.

Use Your Mouse to Write a Tale

Photo by Graham Briggs

An Interview with Christina Katz

An Interview with Christina Katz

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids for Writer’s Digest Books. She has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, presents at literary and publishing events around the country, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. Katz publishes a weekly e-zine, The Prosperous Writer, and hosts The Northwest Author Series. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Dartmouth College. A “gentle taskmaster” to her hundred or so students each year, Katz channels over a decade of professional writing experience into success strategies that help writers get on track and get published.

Q: What is a platform?

CK: Long story short: Your platform communicates your expertise to others, and it works all the time so you don’t have to. Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership. If others already recognize your expertise on a given topic or for a specific audience or both, then that is your platform.

A platform-strong writer is a writer with influence. Get Known explains in plain English, without buzzwords, how any writer can stand out from the crowd of other writers and get the book deal. The book clears an easy-to-follow path through a formerly confusing forest of ideas so that even the most inexperienced platform-builder can get started building a solid platform.

Q: Why is platform development important for writers today?

CK: Learning about and working on a solid platform plan gives writers an edge in selling books. Agents and editors have known this for years and have been looking for platform-strong writers and getting them deals. But from the writer’s point-of-view, there has not been enough information on platform development to help unprepared writers put their best platform forward.

Now suddenly, there is a flood of information on platform, not all necessarily comprehensive, useful or well organized for folks who don’t have a platform yet. Writers can promote themselves in a gradual, grounded manner without feeling like they are selling out. I do it, I teach other writers to do it, I write about it on an ongoing basis, and I encourage all writers to heed the trend. And hopefully, I communicate how in a practical, step-by-step manner that can serve any writer. Something we never hear enough is that platform development is an inside job requiring concentration, thoughtfulness and a consideration of personal values.

Q: Why was a book on platform development needed?

CK: At every conference I presented, I took polls and found that about 50 percent of attendees expressed a desire for a clearer understanding of platform. Some were completely in the dark about it, even though they were attending a conference in hopes of landing a book deal. Writers often underestimate how important platform is and they often don’t leverage the platform they already have as much as they could. Since book deals are granted largely based on the impressiveness of a writer’s platform, I wanted to address the communication gap.

My intention was that Get Known would be the book every writer would want to read before attending a writer’s conference, and that it would increase any writer’s chances of landing a book deal whether they pitched in-person or by query. As I wrote the book, I saw how this type of information was being offered online as “insider secrets” at outrageous prices. No one should have to pay thousands of dollars for the information they can find in my book for the price of a paperback! Seriously. You can even ask your library to order it and read it for free.

Q: What is the key idea behind Get Known Before the Book Deal?

CK: Getting known doesn’t take a lot of money, but it does take an understanding of platform, and the investment of time, skills and consistent effort to build one. Marketing experience and technological expertise are also not necessary. I show how to avoid the biggest time and money-waster, which is not understanding who your platform is for and why – and hopefully save writers from the confusion and inertia that can result from either information overload or not taking the big picture into account before they jump into writing for traditional publication.

Q: Why is there so much confusion about platform among writers?

Often writers with weak platforms are over-confident that they can impress agents and editors, while others with decent platforms are under-confident or aren’t stressing their platform-strength enough. Writers have to wear so many hats these days, we can use all the help we can get. Platform development is a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Anyone can do it, but most don’t or won’t because they either don’t understand what is being asked for, or they haven’t overcome their own resistance to the idea. Get Known offers a concrete plan that can help any writer make gains in the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive publishing landscape.

Q: What is the structure of the book and why did you choose it?

CK: Get Known has three sections: section one is mostly stories and cautionary tales, section two has a lot of to-do lists any writer should be able to use, and section three is how to articulate your platform clearly and concisely so you won’t waste a single minute wondering if you are on the right track.

Most of the platform books already out there were for authors, not writers or aspiring authors. To make platform evolution easy to comprehend, I dialed the concepts back to the beginning and talked about what it’s like to try and find your place in the world as an author way before you’ve signed a contract, even before you’ve written a book proposal. No one had done that before in a book for writers. I felt writers needed a context in which to chart a course towards platform development that would not be completely overwhelming.

Q: At the front of Get Known, you discuss four phases of the authoring process. What are they?

CK: First comes the platform development and building phase. In this phase you are developing authority and trust. Second comes the book proposal development phase (or if you are writing fiction, the book-writing phase). In this phase, you are leveraging your expertise and your persuasive writing skills. Third, comes the actual writing of the book (for fiction writers this is likely the re-writing of the book). In this phase, you demonstrate that you are a skilled writer, who understands how to craft polished prose. And finally, once the book is published, comes the book marketing and promoting phase. In this final phase, you leverage all your existing influence and connect with as many readers as you can.

Many first-time authors scramble once they get a book deal if they haven’t done a thorough job on the platform development phase. Writers who already have a platform have influence with a fan base, and they can leverage that influence no matter what kind of book they write. Writing a book is a lot easier if you are not struggling to find readers for the book at the same time. Again, agents and editors have known this for a long time.

Q: What are some common platform mistakes writers make?

CK: Here are a few:

  • They don’t spend time clarifying who they are to others.
  • They don’t zoom in specifically on what they offer.
  • They confuse socializing with platform development.
  • They think about themselves too much and their audience not enough.
  • They don’t precisely articulate all they offer so others get it immediately.
  • They don’t create a plan before they jump online.
  • They undervalue the platform they already have.
  • They are overconfident and think they have a solid platform when they have only made a beginning.
  • They burn out from trying to figure out platform as they go.
  • They imitate “insider secrets” instead of trusting their own instincts.
  • They blog like crazy for six months and then look at their bank accounts and abandon the process as going nowhere.

Suffice it to say that many writers promise publishers they have the ability to make readers seek out and purchase their book. But when it comes time to demonstrate this ability, they can’t deliver.

Q: You write, teach, speak and blog. What motivates you?

My mission is to empower writers to be 100 percent responsible for their writing career success and stop looking to others to do their promotional work for them. Get Known shows writers of every stripe how to become the writer who can not only land a book deal, but also influence future readers to plunk down ten or twenty bucks to purchase their book. It all starts with a little preparation and planning. The rest unfolds from there. But you’ve got to start working on your platform today, if you want to become an author some day. Get Known can help anyone get off to a solid start.

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids for Writer’s Digest Books. She has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, presents at literary and publishing events around the country, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. Katz publishes a weekly e-zine, The Prosperous Writer, and hosts The Northwest Author Series. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Dartmouth College. A “gentle taskmaster” to her hundred or so students each year, Katz channels over a decade of professional writing experience into success strategies that help writers get on track and get published. Learn more at

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summertime Fun in Santa Monica

Aaawww . . .  I love summertime fun.

What are you all doing this summer?

This first week of summer vacation has been fun-filled and a busy week with friends. I have gotten very little writing done and finally told the kids yesterday that I had to buckle down and work. We had evening plans, so I didn’t feel so bad focusing on my screenplay for a few hours. I also got my final copy-edits back from my editor and need to go through my manuscript one last time.  The screenplay needs to be finished and polished by August to be ready for the NYU screenplay bank. My novel – well that’s in my own time, but I hope to be sending it out in September. That will allow me time to vacation this summer. I hope.

When evening came, we took the kids to see a Solstice Concert to benefit the Santa Monica Playhouse.  “The Italian Duo” is made up of flautist Giulia Matteucci and guitarist Saverio Rapezzi. Since Piper plays flute, we thought she would enjoy it. It was amusing watching both kids react to their musical talents. Piper was so impressed that she got Giulia’s autograph after the concert. I wish I had taken a photo of them together! Afterwards we walked down to Santa Monica Beach to enjoy the water and sunset.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sunglasses Used As Coffee Replacements???

This past week has been quite stressful. My health issues have been nagging for my attention. So I finally listened and gave up coffee. After the initial withdrawal headaches, I feel much better.

Diet has always been a focus for me. Having started on the road to vegetarianism at age 19 by giving up chicken, and then red meat a couple of years later. After that, I moved on to a vegan diet and finally became raw. Maintaining this diet over the past 20 years has been a challenge since I married a meat-eater, and I eventually found myself slipping back into eating dairy and eggs once again.

Then my lymph node issues last summer caused me to give up soy and start eating seafood, although I feel guilty about it when I do.

 At that time, I also went on a gluten, sugar, and coffee free diet. I was basically eating vegetables, seafood, brown rice (including brown rice pasta), and drinking herbal teas, including Yerba Mate.

This year, my ever-evolving diet brought me back to old habits, and so here I am kicking the coffee habit once more. I just signed up for the Teeccino newsletter and am awaiting my sample. It is a coffee replacement that is brewed in a coffee maker, a ritual that is emotionally fulfilling for me.

Also, in an effort to get my health back, I have started exercising six times a week, including running with my son at his track practices. Today I was supposed to run a 100-yard-dash for Mother’s Day, although I wound up not participating because we would have all had to sit around for hours in the hot sun waiting for the event to start. I had better things to do … like enjoying one of my favorite hangouts, Barnes and Noble. 

When we arrived back home, I found the box of sunglasses I had ordered through a deal on My Bargain Buddy, an awesome discount website (be sure to sign up for the newsletter and fan them on Facebook)! I bought 10 pairs of sunglasses for $10!! I always love a deal and it was like a treasure hunt.  Here is a sampling of what I received …

Goodbye, Coffee!! I love you! It’s too bad that you don’t love me back! I can survive without you though, especially when there are so many other things in life to enjoy - my family, of course, but also including bookstores, and my new sunglasses!!!

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Fun to Be Bad (At Least Where Poetry is Concerned)

Warning! Wear Safety Goggles When Reading This Post!!!

It’s not that I haven’t been


It’s not that I don’t care.

I've been
my hands into
an assortment of


many for my
some for me,


bad poetry.

It’s terrible! No, not my introductory poem (although that is too) … what I’m talking about is how long it’s been since I’ve posted. Time is running after me like a steam roller with no brakes. I didn't know how to get out of the way until I figured out all I have to do is jump to the side!

Anyway, Robert Lee Brewer suggested on his Poetic Asides blog that, due to technical difficulties, participants post poems for April’s PAD Challenge (write a poem a day for the month of April) on their own blogs.

Before I go any further, I will admit that I haven’t yet written a poem a day. I’ve made it about a third of the way through. My point being that I don’t know how many I will post here. But, enough of my rambling … here goes … I’m only posting one for now. *gulp*

Here is the assignment description for this particular poem, “For today's prompt, pick a tool, make that the title of your poem, and write your poem.”


She got to the point.

I heard her say,
“Why don’t you come
over here
and help me,
you awl?”

But the awl just sat there, lifeless.

Placing one finger on its
rod, she
“It’s a little
asking for help
from something that goes
my life

She sat still for
a moment, but then
the silence once

“After awl,
poking holes into the
skin of dead
animals is about as much
fun to me
as eating them,”
piercing her teeth
into her

And that, my friends, is ALL (no, this line is not part of the poem).

Have a lovely Earth Day!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

To See or Not To See

I looked at my daughter this morning and moments later, acknowledged that I must not really have seen her when I couldn’t recall what she was wearing. It’s not that my eyes weren’t functioning, but rather my brain had been preoccupied with something else.

How many times do we look at someone or something and refuse or are unable to perceive what we are viewing?

Maybe we don’t want to believe what our eyes tell us or are too busy to notice. Perhaps, as in my case this morning, we are just too preoccupied to take in the “now.”

This occurrence caused me to look back over times when I have seen “the truth,” but not wanted to believe it.

Vision is trustworthy when it is allowed to see.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Smooth Falling

By Jason Nelson

Sometimes life just flows so perfectly there is no question that the traveled path is the correct one. Let me explain …

Last night, I was on my way to a group meditation-type event. I was feeling a little nervous about sitting with a group of people I had never before met - and also about experiencing something foreign to me. Meditation is not unfamiliar, but this particular facilitator, I had never previously met.

Anyway, before I left, I had to run a quick errand and then on my way to the freeway, I had an impulse to stop at a local mini-market that I rarely shop at, to buy a snack or some mints. Truly, it was one of those, “Oh I want to stop there! Quick!” turns to get into the parking lot.

I ran inside, carefully calculating my time, glanced over the snack rack, and realized my neighbor was standing at the register; this was the same neighbor I ran into a week ago at a different store, so I was going to make a joke about “how we should stop meeting like this.”

Just as I approached him though, I heard him say, “What? Oh man! I don’t have enough!?”

Without hesitation, I asked him how much he needed.

“Ten cents,” he said.

I dug in my purse and gave him the needed dime. Now, mind you, I stepped up at exactly the moment that he needed that money.

Later, I noticed I was being tailgated due to driving the speed limit while searching for the building that the event was being held at. I looked ahead of me for a place to pull over to let the tailgater pass, and just as I did, found I had pulled over right in front of the building I was looking for.

Some things fall so easily into place. And some things … well, they do not. But that’s a subject for another blog post.

... (to be continued) ...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hug a Skunk Today


Yeah, yeah, skunks have a bad reputation. See one and run your little booty off before he points HIS at you and delivers a fragrance that’s nearly impossible to wash away.

But what do skunks have in common with cats, eggs … and cracks? Well, yes, three out of four of them ARE aromatic, but that’s not what I was getting at.

All of these have had a sneaky way of throwing themselves in front of my path over the past couple of weeks, until I finally acknowledged that a message was being given to me.

If you’ve ever read my blog, you already know about my interest in paying attention to reoccurrences around me. Whether the object of repetition is words, animals, or other items, I take in and analyze the meaning of them and how it relates to where I am at my stage in life.

For instance, on my recent drive home from vacation, we came across the scent of skunk after skunk … after skunk. There must have been at least six occurrences of nostril reverberations from the skunky bouquet. We have driven this trip many times and it was the first time we ever had such an experience.

I unconsciously filed the skunk memories away in my mental filing cabinet to refer back to later.

Next, I noticed the repetition of “cat” in my life. Several people I had contact with had variations of “cat” in their name. Two of these people go by “Cat” as a first name and the other two have a variation in their last name (with an alternate spelling).

I later noticed that there were many people in my life suddenly talking about getting “cracked,” mainly by chiropractors, although some were also talking about being “cracked up” as in laughing a lot. After that, I noticed conversations of eggs, chickens, and to a lesser extent, cracked eggs.

I know, I know, you’re probably sitting there cackling. You’re thinking this all sounds like a stretch, but I have to disagree.

It’s fine; you can believe that I’m a little bit … funny … and reading into things that are not there. However, whenever I acknowledge that the reoccurrences in my life are pieces of a puzzle meant for message delivery - and then once I solve the brainteaser - well, then the repetitions stop.

So once I mentally gathered all of the items that were popping up in my life, I did a little research. The first item on my list was the one that had left the biggest, or shall I say, smelliest impression – the skunk.

Ted Andrews’ section about skunks in his book Animal Speak explains: “The skunk does not get out of the way of any animal. It moves along at its own speed, with its own mind. It is self-assured and confident in itself. If skunk has shown up, it can be to help you with this particular aspect. It can teach you how to be more self-assured and how to assert yourself.”

In the full text, Andrews also writes that skunks teach how to give respect, expect respect, and demand respect; not only are skunks fearless, but peaceful as well. Andrews recommends researching tomatoes for education on “balancing medicine associated with the skunk” and also a study of aromatherapy is beneficial when skunks are prevalent.

I found this last part regarding aromatherapy interesting since I have a great love for the art of essential oils (thanks to brother dear).

Andrews’ blip about tomatoes took me over to the Alchemy Lab where I found that Europeans “placed them on windowsills to repel negative energies.”

Hmmm … interesting.

Okay, so on to the subject of cats.

It’s not completely absurd that I’m surrounded by cats. I’ve always found them to be irresistible; I was even called one once. Well, almost. One late night on the subway platform in New York City, a young teen stared at my misshapen pupil and said, “Whoa, she has cat eyes.”

But what do cats stand for? One might guess they are a symbol of independence. If you were one of those guessers, you are right; at least according to Ted Andrews.

Andrews’ also states that a wide variety of traits have been attributed to cats – curiosity, nine lives, independence, and healing - are the ones that caught my attention. Andrews also writes that “Cats have more rods in the retinas of their eyes, which enhances light perception. It enables them to see effectively in the dark.”

Hmmm … of course I read “dark” not as nighttime, but as negativity. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s not what he meant, but I’m trying to interpret the signals here.

Finally, as most people already know, eggs are a symbol of new life. And cracked? Well, after a little searching, I think perhaps it was a way of telling me that I had a code to crack.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you might be thinking. I’m a little cracked myself. But hey, if nothing else figuring out the meaning of these reoccurring themes makes life more fun (for me anyway).

Repelling negative energy, seeing in the “dark,” maintaining peacefulness, being aware of giving and receiving respect, and finally new life are the subject matter that have been seemingly thrown into my world. Perhaps I need to say WERE thrown in because since I’ve been writing this blog, the repetitions have dissipated.

Anyway, message received.

It’s a new year. I’m about to start a new job doing what I adore. There’s nothing else I can do but feel positive about this sparkle starting in the cycle of my own life.

So next time I see a skunk, I just might have to hug him. Well, okay, maybe not. But at least I will smile and thank him for delivering this message.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Everything Happens for a Reason

It does you know. I believe it. I will get back to that later though. First, I can’t believe January is already here!

November, also known as National Novel Writing Month, went by so fast I hardly remember it. Along with 32,178 other winners, I rode the ups and downs of reaching 50,000 words in 30 days. It was a good feeling to reach the end, even though it’s really only a beginning. There are a lot of edits and re-writes to be done.

In December, I went to visit family out of town and also took a break from the Internet for a few weeks (I admit that I did sneak a peek here and there).

What did I do in my free time instead of feeding my Facebook addiction?

I devoured two books, both by Christina Katz, which I highly recommend to any writer; they are both well worth the price.


These are the kind of books that are hard to put down. Christina goes into detail about steps to take in order to progress towards a successful writing career. The books are not only loaded with information, but entertaining as well.

Now that I’m about finished with both of them, I can’t wait to read them again! And this time, I will read them with my handy pen and pad nearby in order to take note of the mountain of information.

The best part of Christmas truly was spending time with family. My favorite present was the gift from my daughter. When she gave it to me, she said, “You always say this, Mom!”

Wow! That was a gift in itself. My child actually listens to me!

Anyway, here it is. My favorite saying adorns one side while a gratitude symbol decorates the other side.

I carried it in my pocket at first and now have it tucked safely away behind a zipper in my purse.

I reminded myself of this adage while I was doing the River Dance (literally!) for four hours outside my mother’s house, filling in the mud holes.

While I was stomping, I realized that the many mud pies of youth weren’t all just for fun. They prepared me for something greater; that would be packing this sludge pit!!

See? Everything does happen for a reason (even if it takes 30 or so years to be enlightened to that reason)!

So as I ride through the ups and downs of life’s challenges, occasionally feeling aggravated at being held up in some way, I have a handy reminder of one of my favorite philosophies.

Everything happens for a reason.