Starting the Year With Joy (And More)

Happy New Year, y’all! I hope 2019 started with all things wonderful for you and yours! I know lots of people choose a word for the year, but I’m not very good at choosing a word. I felt like I needed a good handful of words to get me through 365 days and so, after some long thinking (that looked suspiciously like a long nap), I chose peace, love, and joy.

Yay! Exactly what I need for 2019! But then I thought there was something very familiar about those words. I mean, besides the fact that I still had Christmas cards hanging about and peace, love, and joy are big themes of the season. So I decided to get a cuppa and think upon it.

There’s a shelf above my sink where I keep my coffee cups (and why do we call mugs “coffee cups” or “coffee mugs” but a more delicate cup, the one that comes with a saucer, a “teacup”? I only drink tea and I drink it out of the coffee mugs. Mister Man only drank coffee but he was just as likely to drink his coffee from a teacup. Is a puzzlement.)

Anyway, when I reached for a cup, here’s what I saw:

img_20190110_140303337

Hahahahhaaaa! My favorite tea mug! I guess as long as I don’t break that cup, I won’t forget my words for 2019.

And honestly, I needed those words, when a few days into the new year, I received an email that…well, you can read for yourself over at the Muffin in “The Value of a Professional.”

I feel like I have LOTS more to say about the value of a professional so I hope you’ll all give it a read and then come back in a day or so (or possibly six) when I expound on that topic. Meanwhile, in spreading a little joy, I have an update about my friend, Sonia, and her book, Finding Joy in Giving Back to God that I shared with you here back in early December.

41Uy077Uf1L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Sonia has not only sold her first batch of books, but several more batches (and I’m getting ready to order 50 more books for her)! A pastor from another church contacted her, asking her to speak to a group of parishioners, and so this weekend, she’ll have her very first speaking engagement (which is why I need to order more books!). She asked if she could share my Muffin post “A Christmas (Publishing) Miracle” and of course I said sure and brought her a copy of the post this morning.

Oh, my, that Sonia is a force to be reckoned with! Almost every day, she has news or questions or I-don’t-know-what-all, but mostly, she’s just full of joy. Not because of her accomplishment–though I think she still can’t believe how far the book has come–but because she’s helping so many people in different ways. That would make anyone joyful!

And her joy brings me joy. That’s the way it works with joy and with peace and love, now that I think about it. I can’t imagine a better way to start a new year, can you?

 

Before the Year Ends

bake-bakery-baking-264779So we’re fixing to close out 2018 and I thought I’d give you a peek into what goes on around here during this time of the year.

I LOVE HOLIDAY BAKING COMPETITION SHOWS! I have no idea what most of the fancy ingredients are and I sure don’t know how to pronounce them (or use them).

Honestly, I don’t much care for baking. I have my standards that I fix during the holidays and though I might be impressed by some amazing dessert I see on a show, I don’t have time to be messing with new stuff that may or may not come out amazing.

So I began to wonder–puzzling till my puzzler was sore–just why I sit glued to the screen, watching these shows and wearing out the Food Network (which I NEVER watch any other time of the year). And then a friend said, “Ummm…you think it might have something to do with your competitive spirit?”

Which is her nice way of saying, “Yo, Cathy. You are extremely competitive.”

Oh my shoe pastry! Or is it choux? Whatever. I love competition. I love watching people race against the clock! I love watching creativity-in-action, especially when things go wrong! I love when the dark horse surges ahead or when the contestant who didn’t believe in herself (or himself) suddenly comes into her (or his) own.

In the end, I don’t care much who wins, though it’s usually the one I was rooting for, and I celebrate along with him or her. Because there’s something else I love to see: that victorious moment when a contestant gets validation for all the hard work and realizes a dream come true. That’s pure joy and that’s what I love to see most of all.

And so here it is, almost Christmas, and it occurred to me that every day is kind of a competition, isn’t it? It’s a race against the clock to get everything done, to beat the obstacles that come along, threatening to derail you from the sweet dreams of your finish line.

Maybe it’s just messing up the timing on the fudge and how the heck can you save this treat? Or maybe it’s pulling out the Christmas stuff and finding a gift tag with a note from a loved one lost and how can you celebrate without him?

But then miracles of miracles, divine inspiration hits and you figure out the fudge solution! And a grown-up kid (or two!) show up on your doorstep unexpectedly and you go out to eat and laugh and fuss and laugh some more.

There’s a moment that comes along in the midst of it all, the realization of deep down joy, and my heart is full of gratitude. Because I know that despite the obstacles, be they big or small, joy has returned, and that’s a gift worth celebrating any time of year!

(Joy to you and yours today and always!)

 

A Cheery Day, After All

I’ve had a bit of a day here, dealing with a situation that’s proved impossible. (Just insurance, people, no one’s jumping off cliffs.)

(Yet.)

Anyway, I’ve put on one of my favorite Christmas music CDs (Neil Diamond’s Acoustic Christmas) and I’ve got my Peppermint Tootsie Roll Pop because chocolate and peppermint and Neil fixes everything. And now that I’m in a better place, I can tell you about my friend, Sonia, and her book.

If you’ve come over from The Muffin, then you already know Sonia. If you’re just popping in, then you’ll want to read “A Christmas (Publishing) Miracle.”

41Uy077Uf1L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Sonia calls me every day to ask if her books have been delivered (they’re coming Friday). Or to let me know that a friend has ordered the book (though I already know because I manage her bookshelf). And sometimes, she tells me what Father Sunny said (again). But really, Sonia just calls because she’s so darn excited. And because, though she wrote this book, I think she’s still in awe of what she’s accomplished. Sonia needs me to say, “Yep, the books are coming.” Or “Wow. You’ve sold two books!” Or even, “Father Sunny said that?!” But really, what I’m saying is, “Good for you, Sonia. You did it.”

I’m so very happy for her, and truly, it was a privilege to help her. When Sonia’s beloved husband died a few years ago, she was beyond devastated. She wasn’t interested in living in a world without Cipriano. But Sonia’s a woman of deep faith and she turned to that deep well of faith, the saints, and to the virtues that had been the constants in her life. And Sonia came back to life, back to her joyful self. This is the story she wrote about in Finding Joy in Giving Back to God. 

If you’re dealing with grief, here’s a little book of hope for you. And you can help the church in the Philippines grow because Sonia’s donating all the proceeds to the Fransalian Missionaries, Inc. in the Philippines (where she grew up). But you don’t have to buy Sonia’s book for a happy ending to this story. Sonia’s joy is back and that’s a wonder to behold. She cheers me up every day.

Even on a day when insurance thinks it will get the better of me. (But it hasn’t.)

(Yet.)

The Good, the Bad, and the Cold

blur-celebration-christmas-760110First off, it’s cold here in the sunny South and that’s the bad news. I mean space-heater-chugging-by-the-desk cold. Libby burrowed-under-FOUR-blankets cold. The trash-can-wait-another-week-because-I-don’t-want-to-take-it-out cold. So secondly, I have good news: something to warm you up.

It’s a nice and toasty post over at The Muffin called “Making the Most of Memories.” I promise it’ll give you a warm and fuzzy feeling. And I know there are some of you out there thinking, “Oh, there goes Cathy again with one of those writing posts.” But it’s mostly about heart-warming memories and how to keep them, and that’s important stuff, y’all.

So I hope you’ll take a look. And I hope it warms up soon because it’s also too-chilly-to-think-or-write cold. (And before all of you in the blizzard zone feel compelled to throw something at me…well. There really is no defense for my whining about 47 degree weather, is there? So go right ahead and smack me with a snow ball.)

Becoming Real

IMG_20181107_103920387_BURST000_COVERSo in between the constant robo-calls and the ceiling cracks and the flooding on the floor AND the non-stop barking because ringing phones and working folks in the house call for non-stop Libs patrol, I have managed to come up with something over at the Muffin.

And considering that as I’m typing this post, Libs is cowered behind me, in my office chair, because the YARD MAN IS HERE WITH TOOLS OF DESTRUCTION (leaf blower at the moment), it’s kinda amazing.

Um…just to be clear, the blog post itself is not that amazing. It’s just me, speaking my truth in “This I Know 2.0.” But after I read it this morning, I realized that I’d left out something very important that I know. Which is not too surprising, all things considered (see above).

And so I’m glad I have this spot here to add another truth, to share this I know as well:

That writers appreciate their readers. Not because they need reviews or want people to buy their books, though of course, either of those are nice. And not even because of lovely comments or the occasional thank-you note or email, though those are certainly swell, too. But mostly, writers appreciate readers because…well, I guess it’s sort of like this quote from The Velveteen Rabbit:

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

Readers give writers validation. Readers make us real. And so thank you to all the readers who make me a real writer. Even when my efforts are less than stellar due to extenuating circumstances (see above).