What’s In YOUR Gratitude Journal?

2013-05-25 20.36.42So the last couple of nights, I’ve written the same word in my gratitude journal: power.

In my corner of the world, the power went out on Monday afternoon, but not at my house. It’s an odd thing, but the first five or six houses in the neighborhood are powered by the local EMC, whereas the rest of the neighborhood relies on Georgia Power. My house is the dividing line between the two, and sometimes, during storms or ice or winds and rain, I’ll keep my power while right next door…darkness.

On any given day, I don’t think too much about the power that keeps my TV humming and my fridge cold, that lets me answer emails and read a good book before I go to bed. But then comes a time when lines go down, when I see post after post of friends without power, or look out the window to the black abyss that’s my street, and I realize how grateful I am for electricity. How comforted I am by the glow of the street light outside my bedroom window.

We just don’t really appreciate what we have until we don’t have it, do we? That’s what I said to Lisa, who moved to Florida a few months ago. We used to meet at least once a month for a critique group but then our group broke up and she got busy with her novels and I spent a lot of time taking care of my parents. So though we lived only ten minutes from each other, we rarely had the time to get together. We could get together, we always figured, so there was no rush. And then suddenly there was a rush for one more lunch that we never quite managed before she left.

I miss Lisa.

And every time I take a shower, I miss another friend from my critique group, Deb. Which wait–that didn’t come out quite right…

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Juniorette Hall thinks it’s crazy that I have a notepad in the shower. I beg to differ.

Deb sent me a notepad that sticks on the shower wall, with paper that somehow you can write on and still read after you get out of the shower. It’s amazing! She knew that I often come up with my best ideas in the shower and so when she found this amazing notepad, she had to send it to me. I don’t know how I managed before this brilliant notepad came into my life, and I never write something down that I don’t say a heartfelt thank you to Deb, even though she can’t hear it.

Deb and Lisa and all y’all, too, are on my mind after this long week. I hope all is well with you and yours, and know that your name, if not in my gratitude journal, is in my heart and prayers.

Oh! And power. Power’s going to be on the list for quite a while!

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People Are Strange (But Oh So Interesting!)

Cathy on golf cart

A golf cart, for chasing down great stories at the beach.

I had lots of interesting adventures during the August weeks I spent at the beach. And it’s a good thing because I have to come up with something to write about over at the Muffin.

Today, it was “How To Attract the Best Stories” which sounds exciting, right? And it is about getting great stories to come to you, but it’s more than that. It’s really, now that I think about it, getting people to come to you. People have great stories and they really want to tell someone their stories.

Case in point, the guy that followed me and my friend ALL OVER FORT PULASKI (and yes, I left that part out of the Muffin post).

Now before you start thinking that me and my dress blowing all over creation were enticing, I’m going to stop you. The gentleman’s wife was in the fort as well–though now that I think about that, she was on the other side of the fort. But she was there.

Anyway, the ghost hunter (in case you haven’t read the Muffin post, yes, he was a ghost hunter) sidled up to us at the first stop at the fort and stuck to us like glue. We’d slow down and I’d read something out loud and my friend and I would have a bit of a discussion…but there’d he be, our friendly ghost hunter, waiting for us at the next stop.

He had lots of stories. Not necessarily ghost stories–and often they’d be the SAME STORIES WE’D JUST READ ON A PLAQUE–but stories all the same. And if I’m being honest, out of all the times I’ve been to the fort, this is the one adventure I’ll long remember.

I’ll mine that trip for lots of stories I’ll write about in the future. So I’m glad I went. Even if I did barely escape what could have been the most embarrassing moment of my life with a port-o-potty.

(You didn’t read the Muffin post, did you? Go check it out and you’ll find out all about the port-o-potty story.)

End-of-Summer And What Have You Got?

cathy going home

Me and Libs on the porch swing at Tybee Island, and yes, I’m wearing my choir robe. That’s a story for another day…

Here it is the last day of August and I thought I really should check in because, as you may recall, I had grand plans to check in every month with my writing and such and it is the sorta end of summer. But you know that old saying about plans, right?

Man plans and God laughs.

So much for the Great Accountability Plan. And yet… I have been writing.

I’m halfway through a middle grade novel that I’m thoroughly enjoying. That is to say, I’m enjoying writing it and I’m enjoying reading what I’ve written. That is no small thing, I think.

And I’ve sent bits and pieces of writing out into the world, not because I felt like I should but because I had something to say.

Small steps add up and before I knew it, I seemed to be sorta back on track here at the sorta end of the summer. And I hope your steps–whether small or large–are adding up to writing success. Because frankly, y’all, tomorrow’s September 1st–SEPTEMBER 1st!–and we all know what that means, plan-wise.

 

 

Just A Word

Before I head out of town for a couple of weeks away, I’ll check my calendar for writing deadlines. And so it’s not uncommon for me to write a post for, say The Muffin, two, three, even four weeks out.

That was the case for this latest one, “The Importance of a Word.” I wrote it, scheduled it, and then forgot all about it. And then tragic events happened, and I couldn’t help thinking of my post and a word that has sparked national controversy, not to mention grave importance in this country.

No matter the platform–social media, a blog post, a letter to the editor–words spread rapidly. And just to be clear, I’m not preaching about the rightness or wrongness of your words or your beliefs. I’m just asking that you be mindful of what you write and put out in the world. That the next time you’re writing and shrug, “Well, it’s just a word,” I hope you’ll stop and remember how my mother set me straight.

It’s almost always more than “just a word.”

 

A Little Ordinary Miracle

2010-09-06 08.50.16I sat down, fingers poised to write the story about what happened last week. But then I remembered what I said at choir…

So we had this choir retreat–a long day of getting back together after a long summer break–and I raised my hand and said I wanted to tell a quick story, something that had just happened to me.

Now if you know me, you know I’m not very good at telling quick stories. I mean, I tend to have little asides and a big build-up, not to mention the occasional backstory. It’s a gift. Anyway, I told my story, and as I was heading back to my seat, I said, “Now, that’s a Chicken Soup for the Soul story!”

Yep, everyone agreed that it’d make a great Chicken Soup story. And then I forgot about the story till just this minute when I thought about sharing it with you. When bam! The Chicken Soup memory came to me and a little voice said, “Maybe you should check the website, just in case.”

I haven’t sent anything in to Chicken Soup in forever, and the last story I sent in hasn’t gone anywhere. But hope springs eternal and all that so I checked out the Possible Topics page and saw this:

Miracles and More 
When Good Things Happen to Good People
All of us have experienced events in our lives that are completely unexplainable: the strange premonition that made you take a different route home only, causing you to miss an accident; the eerie feeling that you should call home… now, saving someone’s life; the mysterious communication from a loved one who has passed on. Angels, divine timing, miraculous coincidences, answered prayers, premonitions that come true. Good things do happen to good people. Please share your unbelievable and amazing stories about the unexplainable events that have occurred to you. Share the awe, the faith, and the wonder with our readers. The deadline date for story and poem submissions is August 31, 2017.

Okay, whoa. My story was one of those completely inexplicable things, an unbelievable story or miraculous coincidence if you will. So I’m afraid I won’t be sharing it here with you today. I’ve got to write it up and send it in to Chicken Soup. You saw that deadline date.

And this whole thing right here? A last minute checking of the Chicken Soup website and seeing exactly the topic I needed? It could almost be a “Miracles and More” story, too. 

Just sayin’. The world’s one miracle after another, if you know where to look.

(And P.S. Maybe you have one, too. Send it in!)