Tag Archives: gratitude

Why I’m Thankful that Writing is Good Therapy by Sherrie Hansen

Fine. I’ll admit it. Starting with my poetry writing days in the 1970s, I’ve worked through “issues” with old boyfriends, bosses, co-workers, ex-spouses, family members, random acquaintances and people I once considered friends by writing – most recently, using my imagination to transform them into hopefully unrecognizable characters in my books who can then be tortured, punished, rewarded, inappropriately loved and even killed.

Writing therapy is a wonderful by-product of being an author. With apologies to my brother, the psychologist, I believe it’s saved me thousands of dollars in counseling fees.

Dad - creek

Seriously, though – this Thanksgiving, I have many reasons for which to be thankful. I also have cause to grieve, having just lost my beloved father to leukemia on November 7th. My month has been filled with final foot rubs, long remembered conversations, and last words. My time has been taken up, not writing or trying to make a daily word count, but sleeping beside my Dad in the double recliner, rubbing his arm in the night when he didn’t feel well, and talking about “things” when one or the other of us couldn’t sleep.

Dad - daybreak

Days were filled with driving Dad around to his favorite farms so he could watch my brother bring the harvest in – for the first time, without him.

Dad - harvest

After Dad made the transition to his new home in heaven (which I truly believe is trimmed out in cherry wood, with crown moldings and one-of-a-kind solid wood doors that have a few knots, because while most people consider them a flaw, Dad thought they were “beauty-ful”), my days were spent rounding up a bluegrass band to play “Life is Like a Mountain Railway” at his funeral, making 18 dozen eggs into Hansen family sanctioned egg salad, and proofing Dad’s obituary and memorial flyers.

Dad - grandkids

I wouldn’t have missed a single moment that transpired or a single word that passed between us.

Earlier this fall, I fully intended to do NaNoWriMo, a writing challenge that asks you to commit to writing 1667 words a day for the month of November for a total of 50,000, or in my case, half of a book.

About the time my brothers and sister and I held a “Funeral Rehearsal” party for Dad that was attended by almost 250 people (at his request – he kept saying it was too bad he had to miss his funeral because the bluegrass music was going to be good, and he would like to see all his friends), I designed a mockup of a book cover and wrote a synopsis for Seaside Daisy.

Seaside Daisy

I’ve accomplished my NaNoWriMo goal for the last two years with Sweet William and Golden Rod and assumed I would do the same this year. But Seaside Daisy had nothing to do with Dad, and he’s all I can think about. Dad had never been to Ireland, where it’s set. He’s never lived by the sea, and to be honest, he probably would have thought Daisy was a flake.

Daybreak in Denmark

On November 22, I made a new cover file and wrote a new synopsis for Daybreak in Denmark, a long-planned but still unwritten sequel to my first novel, Night and Day. It’s the right book for a time such as this. Dad was half Danish and traveled to the island of Als almost 20 years ago to search for his extended family, who we’ lost touch with after World War II. If Dad was still alive, I could ask him about the farming bits, and reminisce about the interesting things we did in Denmark.

Dad - porch swing

The father figure in both Night and Day and Daybreak in Denmark is a dear man, a retired farmer with a fun sense of humor. It will be my honor to incorporate snippets of my Dad’s jokes and quirky Minnesota ways into this book.

Dad - combines

As an added bonus, Jensen has a cantankerous stepchild to contend with in this book. Why this will be therapeutic for me is a whole other story, and one I shouldn’t go into here. But trust me, this character is going to be a well-drawn, expertly crafted antagonist.

If you’ve lost a loved one recently or need to work through another sort of emotional issue over the holidays, I highly recommend writing. Get it out. Put it into words, or at least try. Journal, blog, or write a letter to the person you’re having troubles with and then tear it up or throw it in the fire. Whatever. Writing about it helps.

Dad - funeral spray

I’m thankful I got to spend as much time with my Dad as I did. I’m grateful for the hugs, loving words, and other expressions of sympathy shown to me, my husband and my family since his death. I’m grateful to have been raised and loved by a man who taught me so much – by word and example. My dad wasn’t a writer, or even a good reader, but he was a great storyteller. He was also an expert at repurposing rejected “stuff”, and a talented creator of beauty-ful things. I miss him so much, but I treasure my memories and the gifts that he gave me, and for that, I am truly thankful.

Dad - casket

 

Sherrie Hansen’s Bio:
Twenty-six years ago, with the help of her dad, Sherrie rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in Northern Iowa from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn.  After 12 years of writing romance novels, Sherrie met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. They now spend their time in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and Sherrie writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. Sherrie enjoys playing the piano, photography, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with her nieces and nephew. “Golden Rod” is Sherrie’s 10th book to be published by Indigo Sea Press, a mid-sized, independent press out of Winston Salem, NC.
You can find more information about Sherrie Hansen here:

WEBSITE  http://BlueBelleBooks.com  or http://BlueBelleInn.com

BLOG  https://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SherrieHansenAuthor 

Goodreads  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2870454.Sherrie_Hansen

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/sherriehansen

Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/

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Being Grateful for Things I’ve Always Taken for Granted by Sherrie Hansen

Those who are close to me know that I’m approaching a milestone birthday. (I’ll let you guess which one.) In some ways, I don’t think it will make a difference in the way I lead my life, or how I feel about things. In other ways, it looms over my daily walk with great significance.

One thing that I’ve noticed about getting older is that I appreciate a lot of things I’ve previously taken for granted… simple things like a good night’s sleep. I am immensely grateful for those few mornings when I sleep peacefully through the night and wake up slowly and languorously rather than being rudely awakened by a cramp in my leg. Life’s simple pleasures.

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As I get to an age where many of my friends have only one or no parents still living, I am daily reminded how blessed I am to have both of my parents still active in my life. I’m grateful for all of the things my parents have done for me, taught me, and given me, and that I have people in my life who love me, just as I am.

I’m thankful to have been raised with a hard work ethic, that I was not brought up to feel entitled, but with the knowledge that if I worked hard. I could earn the things I wanted and have the freedom to do what I wished. Those principals have shaped my life, and because of that, I have been very blessed.

I also find that I spend far more time being grateful for what I have and less time lusting after what I don’t have. It’s the realization that I have enough or even plenty of what I need, and that if I don’t need something, I should find someone who does.

B&W Blue Belle Inn

I’m privileged to have owned and operated my own business for 25 years, and to have served my wonderful customers, and participated in their lives, their special occasions, and the hard times they’ve gone through.

I’m increasingly thankful for my good health, even as it daily worsens, even as the definition of good has to be continuously downgraded.

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I’m grateful for a soft mattress, a sweet husband, nieces and nephews who make me smile and do me proud.

I’m grateful to have been able to see so much of the world, to have had the luxury to enjoy beautiful landscapes and picturesque places in so many countries.  I’m thankful to have been given the gift of an artist’s eye to capture that beauty in photographs, to appreciate art and beauty.

B&W View

I am grateful to have been given second chances, and that when I’ve made mistakes, I’ve had the opportunity to try again and again, until I’ve gotten it right, or even made amends.

I am thankful for the few, true blue friends who have stuck with me for a lifetime, and not just a season.

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I’m grateful for a Savior who forgives me over and over again, who loves me unconditionally.

I’m thankful that I have the right, the honor, and the skill to express myself.  I’m grateful for every single person who admires my art, listens to me speak, or reads what I’ve written and respects me enough to take the time to let me share a little bit of myself.

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Getting older may not be the most fun thing in the world, but it comes with its perks – one of which is that every so often you have time to sit back and count your blessings.

So, thank YOU – because I don’t take you for granted either.

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Quiet Gratitude, by Carole Howard

I’ve never been a fan of expressing emotion on demand, as in, “Before we eat our turkey, let’s go around the table and everyone say three things he or she is grateful for.” If people choose  to speak of their gratitude, I’m all for it. It’s the “on demand” part at which I bridle.

Don’t get me wrong:  I do experience abundant gratitude and I do love Thanksgiving’s focus on it. I just don’t want to be told when and where to go public.  For me, spontaneous gratitude is more powerful, more meaningful, more uplifting.

One spontaneous-gratitude moment happened when my husband and I were living in the north of Senegal for two months, in one bedroom of a house we shared with four (sometimes six) others.  We gathered for breakfast every morning with Déyfatou, her husband Mamadou, and their two daughters, Ayisha (3) and Fatou (18 months).

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Our housemates and breakfast buddies

Déyfatou, about 25, tall and thin, soft-voiced and shy-smiled, brought in the same breakfast fixings every day:  French bread, butter and jam; a tea kettle of boiled water made over a charcoal fire behind the house; plates, cups, utensils; plastic bags holding instant coffee, tea bags, sugar cubes, coffee-creamer.

The bags were the plain-vanilla kind of  bag, tied in a knot at the top.  Every morning, Déyfatou opened them and we took out what we needed.  (I was amazed that the instant Nescafe with dried milk, which I’d have scorned in my previous life, tasted so delicious.)  Then she closed them with a knot tight enough to protect against moisture and bugs.

A knot opened, a knot tied, every day for what must have been years, judging from the appearance and feel of the bags.  They were like ancient skin:  very wrinkled, thin and so soft you might mistake them for suede if your eyes were closed.  And likely to disintegrate.

One day, I was getting some aspirins from the personal pharmacy I’d schlepped from home.  I had Ziploc bags of aspirins, ibuprofen, and Tylenol.  (Yes, I had all three because I couldn’t know in advance what I’d need or want.)  There was Pepto Bismol, of course, and Immodium (ditto about never knowing), daytime cold medicine, night-time cold medicine, cough syrup, malaria preventive, canker sore medicine, nose spray, and many, many, more.   I was pharmaceutically prepared.  Perhaps overprepared but, as I said, you never know.

And as I looked at those bags upon bags, it occurred to me that Déyfatou might like to have a few to save her from the tying and untying.  And, perhaps, from one of those ancient bags dissolving in front of her very eyes.  So I combined the white aspirin, brownish ibuprofen, and multi-colored Tylenol in one bag and gave Déyfatou the two newly-emptied and cleaned ones.

My bags were not the kind where you push the strips from the two sides of the opening together to join them. Oh no, these were the ultra-spiffy and ultra-convenient ones with an actual zipper at the top.

They were a huge hit.  Déyfatou loved them in a way that lit her up from inside.  Loved them out of all proportion to their value.  Transformed her into a giggling girl as she unzipped and zipped them over and over.  It was the kind of reaction every gift-giver loves.

I went through everything I’d brought with me – meds, spare batteries for the radio and flashlights, wet laundry-storage bags – to produce some 15 bags in different sizes.  Enough for coffee, tea, sugar, and creamer for years to come.  Each one a series of knots not tied, not untied.  I was Santa Claus! I was the bag lady!

The thing is, Déyfatou wasn’t poor. Mamadou had a good job and she was his only wife.  The girls had toys and bookbags and hair ribbons, all bought in Dakar.  It’s even possible that if Déyfatou were in a supermarket in Dakar, she’d see the French equivalent of Ziplocs and could have bought them.  They just weren’t part of her life, and, besides, why spend money on something that’s not necessary?

If called upon to say something I’m grateful for at Thanksgiving, I would never think of Ziploc bags.  Yet, in that moment, I appreciated not just the bags, but also the other things in my life that I usually don’t even notice.  Too many to name here.

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I was grateful for the mosquito net under which we slept. And I’m grateful we don’t need one here in the U.S.

The big things I’m supremely grateful for – my family, my health, my friends, my life in a stable democracy, my material comfort – are easy to think of and, for that reason, the gratitude sometimes is a bit knee-jerk, a bit glib.  But the little things that go unnoticed in the interstices bring it all home.  And that gratitude is nourishing.

Would anyone out there choose to mention one of the little things in life for which he/she is grateful? Of course, you don’t have to. No pressure.

*   *   *

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio,  published by Second Wind Publishing.  She is working on a travel memoir (I Didn’t Know Squat: Volunteering in the Developing World After Retirement), from which parts of this post are excerpted.

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‘Tis the Season…To be Thankful!

With Turkey Day just a few days away, I’m compelled to write about gratitude today. Many people wait until this time of year to think or talk about what they’re grateful for, and I used to be one of them. But a couple of years ago, I learned the secret to happiness was through constant gratitude, both for things I already had as well as for things I wanted to have. Boy, what a difference that has made in my life.

Ya know that feeling you get around the holidays when you’re thinking about what you’re thankful for? Well, I embrace that feeing year-round. Every day, I carve out time to reflect on, and say aloud, all the things I’m grateful for. I start with myself, and then circle out to friends, family, and things. And if there is something I want from my life, I express thanks for that as if I already have it. It’s quite astounding how things have manifested in my life as a result of this practice.

So what are you thankful for? I’ll get the ball rolling…

1) I’m thankful for my husband…he’s so wonderful and loving…and he’s my very best friend!

2) Our soon-to-be-born little girl…even though she has me blogging at 5 o’clock in the morning!

3) Our fur baby Dr. Snuggle, who is keeping me company at 5 o’clock in the morning. He is so sweet and precious, and I will always think of him as my first born

4) Second Wind for taking a chance on me and my manuscript!

5) My critique partners. They are more than just crit partners…they are my friends. They are there for me during writing crises and life crises alike. I’m not sure what I would do without them

There are, of course, so many other things to be thankful for, but there’s no need for me to ramble on 🙂 I’d love to hear what’s got you grateful this Thanksgiving season!

Jerrica Knight-Catania is the author of A Gentleman Never Tells, soon to be published by Second Wind Publishing.

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With Gratitude – by Deborah J Ledford

I’ve been thinking for days what I should present for this book launch blog promoting my debut thriller Staccato, and my thoughts kept returning to how grateful I am, not only to have this novel in print, but to all of those tireless and committed souls who made this book release a possibility.

Staccato is being featured on the Second Wind Publishing blog along with three other equally intriguing novels. I am thrilled to be in the company of Mickey Hoffman and Amy DeTremp for their first novels from Second Wind, and the very talented writer Christine Husom for her second book. I know they share my excitement in being members of this unique and cutting edge publishing company.

Because the entire Second Wind team is first-rate I shouldn’t play favorites, however Pat Bertram is as instrumental in seeing Staccato to fruition as anyone else involved in the process. Pat is not only a gifted novelist, she is a tireless promoter of Second Wind authors, often putting herself in the backseat when it comes to touting her own exquisitely crafted novels. I wish her the best with the upcoming release of Daughter Am I.

Lazarus Barnhill, novelist extraordinaire, is also an influential force in my decision to see Staccato through to publication. Laz, Pat and I made it to the semi-final round of the TruTV (formerly CourtTV) Crime Writer Contest sponsored by Gather.com in 2007. I am grateful that none of us actually won this contest because now we all reside in the same Second Wind Publishing home.

Second Wind executive assistants Tracy Beltran and Stacy Findley really pulled out the stops as well. From providing and submitting formatted proofs, configuring a killer back cover, to making sure my author and book pages on the Website were exactly as I wished. I could not be more happy with what you ladies have accomplished in order to make Staccato as professional and aesthetically pleasing as I could ever have envisioned.

My gratitude would not be complete without the heartfelt thanks to Second Wind publisher, Mike Simpson. Mike expressed confidence in Staccato when all others had turned their backs. This kind and generous gentleman is a dream maker who put me at ease so many times with his assurances that we would make the September 15th release date. Somehow he pulled off this monumental and sometimes daunting effort. Kudos to you, Mike, Staccato is every bit yours as it is mine.

For those of you who visit this exceptional blog often, I thank you as well. We all look forward to your comments and appreciate your support of Second Wind Publishing.

 

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle and independent book stores.

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Reflections of Gratitude

As we all prepare to sit down to a feast we will never be able to devour in one sitting with the people who matter the most to us, I thought it would be appropraite to reflect on the things for which I am the most grateful.

I am grateful for my two daughters, who fill my life with joy, chaos, drama, challenges and pride. Without them, I am just a shell. They are my reason for being, my purpose in life, and the reason I get out of bed in the morning. They are my brightest accomplishments, the true legacy I leave to the world.

I am grateful to my mother, who is one of the most amazing women I have ever had the honor and pleasure to know. My mother taught me everything I know. She taught me how to knit and crochet, how to sew, how to tell a story. But most of all, she taught me how to be a mother and she continues to do so every day, by example. I am in awe of her strength, her wisdom, and her tolerance for the children – and grandchildren – who continue to challenge her patience. She is my foundation, the woman who keeps me grounded.

I am grateful for my siblings, who each inhabit a special place in my heart. I cannot imagine a life without them, even though I am still learning to live without one of them. I still miss you, baby brother, and I think of you often.

I am grateful to all of the families who won’t be celebrating this day with their whole families because their sons and daughters are in Iraq and Afghanistan defending us from terrorism. Thank you is not an adequate expression for how I feel about your sacrifice. To those soldiers, stay safe. I hope you all come home soon. You are our national treasure.

I am grateful for all of the friends I’ve made on my journey to being published. I will cherish them forever.

I am grateful for the gift of life that allows me to sit here this morning and list just some of the things that I am grateful for. It is so short and so fleeting. So, please, as you sit down with your loved ones today, make the most of it. For when you build a memory, it is not just your memory – it belongs to everyone who sits down with you. So don’t just give thanks today; give a memory that your loved ones will cherish forever.

Thank you for indulging me in my reflections of gratitude. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones.

Margay Leah Justice

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