Showing posts with label Holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holidays. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Be Present

I struggle each new year to do a proper amount of reflection versus a proper amount of looking forward. And once again, I've come up with a "word" for the year. Actually "words" is more appropriate:


Maybe I should call it my new mantra or something, I don't know. But whatever I call it, I know it is how I want to live the next 12 months.

I've spent a LOT of time over the past few years not being fully present in my life. I've spent an awful lot of time thinking ahead to the next item on my "to do" list or being sidetracked by an email or text message when what I should be doing is focusing on the PERSON in front of me. That MUST change.

Looking back over 2012, I have to say it's been a pretty good year.


1. Six book releases this calendar year. It's been a real roller coaster. That I don't plan to repeat. :) Seriously, I've been thrilled with each release, but there has been a price. I'm not going to lie...I burned out. I cried and moaned and complained and swore that I couldn't do it. In the end I did. I learned that sometimes being a "real" writer means sitting at the desk until it is done. Even when it hurts. Even when your eyes go bad and you have to get glasses (which I did). Even when you have to say "no" to a lot of fun stuff. So I learned a lesson. Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD. Note to self: set limits. Life is really not a race.

2. Wonderful times with friends and family. There have been concerts (Willie Nelson, Celtic Woman, Carrie Underwood, The Civil Wars, Huey Lewis and the News) and get togethers. There has been a lot of laughter and a lot of stories shared and a lot of yummy food consumed. I am blessed beyond belief by the wonderful people in my life.

3. I ran 4 races this year and although I'm slow, I'm developing a real love for running. Wonders never cease!

4. I'm back in a marketing role at my job. Pausing here to say that loving your job makes your whole life better...

Goals for 2013 (besides BE PRESENT):

1. Continue to run. I say it every year...but I'm so hoping to do a half marathon. We'll see if this is my "lucky" year.

2. Learn to relax. I take things WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. At least I know it though, right?

3. Travel. 2012 is the first year in a long time that I didn't travel much. (quick trip to Dallas, but that's about it) I am hoping 2013 will be full of new places and adventures.

4. Organize my house. (side note: I am a clutter bug and paper seems to multiply around me)Is it terribly wrong that sometimes I pray that God will let me end up marrying some fabulously organized man who will love to keep me organized and yet still be able to put up with the inevitable clutter I will collect? A girl can dream...

5. Read for pleasure. I miss reading. I just don't get to do it as often as I used to. My shelves are FULL of wonderful looking books just waiting for me to open them.

6. Write something new. And by "new" I mean in a different genre. Not that I'm leaving romance behind...just that I'd love to try something else. I have many, many stories in my head just waiting to come out...and SOON.

So there you have it. My "welcome 2013" post. New years are always a bit daunting to me. Full of wonder. Filled to the brim with the unknown. I have a love/hate relationship with that. Because I know there will be some wonderfully amazing things that will happen this year. And there will also be some horrible, heart wrenching things. Reminds me of Ecclesiastes. There will be a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

And I suppose that is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

Happy New Year, friends. May 2013 be your best year yet!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Peace is the Word...

There's been a lot of talk lately in several groups I belong to about finding your "one" word for the new year. I knew my word would become clear to me if I really thought/prayed about it.

And it did. It was right there on my Christmas tree.


This year I am seeking peace. Because honestly if 2011 had a word, it may as well have been Chaos or Turmoil. So Peace is sounding pretty perfect to me. :)

2011 saw me return full time to my day job and write 4 books and 1 novella. Which basically means I worked in one way or the other pretty much non-stop. I turned in the last of those books 2 weeks ago and am taking a few days off to renew my creativity. MUCH NEEDED time off!

2011 also saw a major milestone for me: I bought my first home and moved back to my hometown. Which was a whole other set of adjustments, which I'm still getting used to. My house is presently under renovation--and I'm trying to do as much of it myself as possible.

Obviously 2011 was a busy year! Some of the wonderful highlights:

1. The aforementioned book contracts! Writing is a blessing and something I feel called to do. I'm so thankful for the opportunities I've been given and look forward to making some fun announcements soon about upcoming projects.

2. The release of Love Finds You in Lancaster County--and learning it had reached the ECPA Bestseller List.

3. Traveling to Chicago with some of my best friends to see U2 in concert. What an amazing night!

4. Signing the paperwork and officially becoming a homeowner. It has been a long journey and I'm so thankful to have a place to call my own.

5. Traveling to Charleston to do research for an upcoming book. I absolutely fell in love with the city and can't wait to return.

6. Spending time with my friends and family--as I get older, those relationships become so much more meaningful. I'm truly blessed.

But back to my word. PEACE.

How will I instill Peace into my life in 2012?

Here are a few things I hope will help:

1. Read the Bible all the way through. I sheepishly admit I've never attempted this. I read bits and pieces as I'm studying different topics, but I know there are plenty of verses I've never read--particularly in the Old Testament.

2. Pray with a purpose. Once upon a time I kept a prayer journal. I think it's time to go back to that.

3. Exercise. Oh man. This was the first thing to fall by the wayside when my life got all crazy-busy this year, and I think that was a huge mistake. Back when I was running on an almost daily basis, I think my life was much more peaceful. So I'm back to training and am aiming for several 5Ks and the ultimate (for me) goal: a half-marathon. I signed up to do one in 2011, but wasn't ready. 2012 will be the year.

4. Relax. Somewhere along the past few years of working and deadlines and being a grownup, I think I forgot how to relax. In 2012 I'm planning a spa vacation with some of my best friends and WILL make it to a beach where the only thing on my agenda is sleeping and reading.

5. Get my house organized. This includes finishing the kitchen and living room renovations!

6. Plant a garden. There is nothing as therapeutic for me as digging in the ground. Now that I have a couple of acres, I'm going to make use of them! I hope to have a vegetable garden and also plan a flower garden. 

7. Manage my time better. Juggling 2 full time jobs and a home renovation is a challenge. But I don't want my life to revolve around working all the time. My very wise grandmother cautioned me recently that she worried I was writing about life and not living it. 2012 will be the year that changes and I think that change starts with being a better steward of the time I have--and also of choosing my projects (both work and home) wisely.

And there you have it. The 7 things I hope will bring some much-needed PEACE into my life.

How about you? Do you have a word for 2012?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010...I Barely Knew You

Is it just me, or does time seem to be going faster than it used to? I can't believe it is already 2011!

The past year has been full of some very good and very bad moments. I guess every year is that way, but this one has been more so than normal for me.

First the bad:

My family dealt with some tough losses this year. My grandparents each lost a sibling, and then in August, my grandfather was killed in an accident. There is a hole in my family that will never be filled, so the months since August have been ones of adjustment. Christmas was hard--even with 28 people in attendance, their house still seemed empty somehow.

But there were some good times, too. A few of my highlights from 2010 include:

1. Traveling to St. Louis, Indianapolis, Lancaster, Gettysburg, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Although each trip was for work (research or conferences) I still managed to squeeze in some play time as well. :)

2. I had 2 books release in 2010--Love is Monumental and Love is Grand.

3. Speaking in chapel during Homecoming at Freed-Hardeman University was such an honor. Definitely on my highlight reel of the year.

4. I completed 4 5Ks in 2010, and although I ran each of them fairly slowly, I'm still happy to have finished!

5. In 2010, I had some really fun times with my friends and family. Some of the highlights: concerts (Miranda Lambert and Sugarland); shows at the Orpheum (Jersey Boys, Chicago, South Pacific, and Wicked); and lots of laughter and get togethers. 

But enough reflecting...I guess it's time now to make some plans for 2011!

Hopefully these goals aren't too lofty:

1. Complete a proposal for a new series I've been pondering. And actually send it in. :)

2. In addition to running in several 5Ks in 2011, I REALLY plan on training to run in the St. Jude Half Marathon. I have almost a year to get ready for it.

3. In 2011, I want to go on a non-research related vacation. The kind where I get to read, shop, eat, and hopefully have my toes in the sand.

4. I need to update my website/blog. I've had this on my list forever. When I say "update" I don't just mean add a few pages. I mean re-design.

5. And even though I could go on and on about my goals and plans for 2011, I'll stop with this one...In 2011, I want to get rid of stuff. I mean really, really simplify. And I am a pack rat. I have collected a LOT over my 34 years on earth. This will be a big project, but one I am determined to finally tackle.

How about you? What was your highlight of 2010? Or your biggest goal for 2011?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas Giveaway

If you're like me, these past few weeks have been crazy! As I get older, the more hectic the holiday season gets. I miss my college days when we were out of school for a month and there was lots of napping, shopping, and visiting.

But I'm headed to see my family for a few frenzied days and am so excited about it. Of course, on Monday I'll be back to the grind--with a book due in January, I can't afford much time off to play. the spirit of Christmas, let's do a fun giveaway!

I'll draw a random name on Monday, December 27. The winner will get a copy of my new book, Love is Grand. And to make it even more fun, the winner will also get to choose a friend--and I'll send their friend a copy of one of my books, too!

To enter, answer this question in the comments:

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Here's mine: My family gathers at my grandma's house on Christmas Eve. There is a lot of food, a lot of laughter--and a lot of gifts. There is usually a movie going in one room and at least 2 board or card games going. It is such a happy time--and as the years go by, I cherish those moments so much.

Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Random Thoughts on a Thursday...and an Upcoming Book Signing

First of all...if you live near Little Rock, Arkansas, please consider coming to the LifeWay on Chenal Parkway next Friday evening, November 5. I'll be signing books there from 5:30 - 7:30 and would LOVE to see you!

Let me say that things haven't gone exactly like I'd planned lately. (do they ever?)

So this is going to be one of those random, rambling blog posts where I get to share the things that have been on my mind....

1. Strep throat is awful. Seriously. It struck me down out of nowhere. But I'm finally (almost) well.

2. Wicked is wicked awesome. (side note: I have always wanted to use "wicked" in a sentence that way...and just FYI, according to the Urban Dictionary, you must always use an adjective after wicked for proper use: "that car is wicked" and "that car is wicked awesome" do not carry the same meaning. Just trying to keep you cool. ha) But honestly, I'm kind of considering going to see it again. I haven't felt that way about a show since the time I saw Les Mis in London and promptly went out and bought the soundtrack. Just LOVED it.

3. I am completely bored by Dancing with the Stars this season. Because...WHERE are the STARS? Honestly. Because I'm not seeing the star power. And since it seems that being an actual star is no longer a requirement, my secret dream is that next season the casting people at DWTS will think "hey, let's invite an author of inspirational fiction to be on the show..." Because I would probably be willing to participate. :)

4. I'm already easing into the Christmas season. Judge me all you want. Christmas songs make me happy...and I declare it officially okay to full out listen starting next week. And yes, I've already busted out my favorite Christmas coffee mug. Here's the way I see it: Christmas is a lot of trouble. The decorations. The special Christmasy dishes. So why not enjoy it longer than just a couple of weeks? I say, if you have to get things out of should be able to enjoy them for at least a month and a half--possibly 2 months. So I will continue to ease into the season bit by bit until I'm fully decorated by mid-November. Because it MAKES ME HAPPY. (this is the perk of living alone with only dogs to see my secret holiday behavior, and let's face it, as long as I feed them and walk them, they would be fine if the tree stayed up all year...)

5. One more and I'm done. I've been reading a lot lately about juicing and "green" drinks. I've been intrigued by this for awhile--ever since I read a book about how bad processed foods are for us and the importance of fruits and vegetables. So I'm kind of considering giving it a shot. Like maybe starting Monday, November 1. That's my plan anyway. I'm not going to go on a diet, just incorporate a juiced drink into my day. Seems like there are lots of health benefits to the extra veggies/fruits that you get. We shall see...

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Halloween weekend!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love, Actually

So, it's Valentine's Day. Hmm. I'm not exactly a fan. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I still check the "single" box. I feel about V-Day the same way I feel about New Year's Eve. It's one of those holidays that seems forced.

Can this be true? Is it right for someone who writes romance novels to not be a fan of Valentine's Day? :) Well, let me make a confession...I didn't set out to write romance novels. It just sort of happened. Somewhere along the way, I started to realize...every story is a love story. Sure, they might be disguised as suspense. Or mystery. Or fantasy. But more often than not, there is a love element in there. Sometimes it isn't romantic love. But love, nevertheless. Which is how I came to write about love. Because that seems to be the central theme in our lives when you strip everything else away.

So that gets me to thinking about L-O-V-E. So many different kinds of love. Such a tiny little word with so many different meanings...

I love God. And my family. And my dogs. And my new Prada purse. I love sleeping in. And my friends. And Peppermint Mochas from Starbucks. I love clean sheets. And my DVR. And when I write "the end" and hit send. I love college football. And hot summer days. And being snowed in.

And I don't love any of those things in exactly the same way.

So, even though I'm single--and from what I'm seeing on Facebook and Twitter, single people are supposed to resent being reminded of love today--well I don't! Love is wonderful. Love is powerful. I may not have romantic love in my life right now (anyone know any nice, normal, single guys? haha!) but I have lots of love in my life. And, as any good romance heroine, I have the hope that true love is right around the corner.

So no matter what box you check today, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day, celebrating the love that is in your life!

Song of the day...The Power of Love by Huey Lewis--I thought it was fitting!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009, you were a good year...

I've never been one to go out and celebrate on New Year's Eve. I remember in 1999, when everyone I knew (seriously, every single person) was doing something big to ring in 2000, I opted to stay home. With 2 great movies (Shakespeare in Love and Sliding Doors--and I know it is weird that I remember which movies, but I can't help it, I remember lots of unimportant details) and a Domino's Pizza (thin crust cheese).

And lots of people called me right before midnight to try and get me to say I was sorry for not agreeing to go out, but I was happy where I was.

For me, the turning over of a new year is more of a reflective time. I don't like the forced cheerfulness and the over-emphasis on having the best time of your life. If that's your thing, then by all means, enjoy, but the best time of my life isn't going to happen at some party or random club at 11:59 on December 31.

I probably sounds like an old stick in the mud. :)

Some might call me crazy for wanting to hold on to 2009 for as long as possible, but I want to squeeze each and every second of it. Big things happened to me in 2009. It was a fantastic year!

Just a few highlights:
  • Holding copies of my first two books in my hand for the first time.

  • Seeing those books in stores for the first time. I still have to fight the urge to take pictures of them on the shelf (and usually end up caving and photographing).

  • Traveling to Washington D.C. and the Grand Canyon for research; traveling to Denver for a writing conference; traveling to Charm, Ohio, for a book signing.

  • Book signings: I participated in 6 signings this year!

  • Hearing from readers who enjoyed the books! This came in the form of letters, e-mails and reviews.

  • Along those lines, one of the biggest blessings of 2009 was meeting so many wonderful people--fellow authors and readers. You guys rock!

I'm hopeful that 2010 will be just as wonderful! These aren't necessarily resolutions, but here are a few things I hope to accomplish in the new year:

  • Get a new book contracted. Or a new series. :)

  • Become reacquainted with my old friend, the gym! It's been far too long.

  • Change my diet. I am ashamed of how unhealthy my eating habits are. If I could just add some fruits and veggies I'd be happy.

  • Come up with fantastic marketing for my May and October releases.

  • Go on a trip that is in no way related to books, research or work. In other words, take a vacation!

  • Get rid of a lot of "stuff"--I have way too much and want to downsize. Maybe I'll never really be a minimalist, but I can try!

  • Finally figure out how to balance life, work and writing. I'm afraid this might mean adjusting my schedule to where I get up early and go to bed at a decent hour...

Okay, I could go on and on, but will stop. Perhaps I should do a mid-year check on these goals to see how I'm doing!

No matter how you choose to ring in 2010, I hope it is wonderful!

Song of the favorite version of Auld Lang Syne by Mairi Campbell & Dave Francis.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tis the Season

I'm still feeling a couple of months behind. I still want it to be October so I can carve that pumpkin I meant to carve and put out some pretty mums.

I missed summer while I was locked away writing Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio.

Then I went and missed fall finishing Love is Monumental.

No wonder I'm all off-kilter. I step outside and am honestly surprised it is cold. Where, oh where did that yummy football weather go? The warm/cool that I love.

Clearly I need better time management skills so I won't miss anymore seasons!

With that in mind, I had to make a difficult decision recently--the decision to leave my career as a special event coordinator for a non-profit. It was a dream position for me. I believe very much in the organization and I spent hours upon hours working and thinking about ways to make things better. I was consumed.

But, you see, I was also driven by my desire to be a writer. It was a dream and a gift and something I couldn't walk away from.

When you are being pulled in two totally different directions, both of which mean the world to you, you have to give things up. Like sleep. And seasons. And seeing your family and friends.

So after a lot of prayer and soul searching, I quit the non-profit. I determined that I can't have two careers. I can have a writing career and just a job. But not a career as an event coordinator (that is demanding) and a writing career (that is also demanding).

The same non-profit offered me a part time position working with their database. Such a huge blessing to me. I can pay my bills (yay) but still devote most of my time and brainpower to writing.

Which means that I can sleep again! (I assure you, after several months of working all day and writing most of the night, I feel like a new person now that I'm actually getting several hours again)

And I'm determined not to let any more seasons pass by without me noticing. So my house is decorated--I LOVE the lights of the Christmas tree, the smell of a fresh wreath and the holiday movies on every night.

I'm so glad to be going into this holiday season without the fog of stress and no sleep hanging over me. I can't wait until Thursday--when my entire family will be getting together for gifts and games and lots of food. And Friday we'll do it all over again and maybe catch a movie. Saturday, we'll do some marathon after-Christmas shopping. Then family gatherings again on Sunday and Monday. So fun!

Song of the week: Winter Song by Sara Barielles and Ingrid Michaelson. One of my favorites from my Christmas playlist.

Enjoy your family this Christmas season! Here are Buster and Arnie who refused to pose together in front of the I made them pose with my Christmas pillows! :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Holiday! Celebrate!

Did you like that little shout out to Madonna circa 1983?

Okay, so those who know me know that the the 4th of July is my FAVORITE holiday. Hands down. What, you ask? Not Christmas? How about Thanksgiving?

Before you start thinking that I'm some kind of unthankful Grinchy person, let me assure you that I enjoy those holidays. But they just aren't my favorite.

So the 4th--celebrating our Independence. That's big. I think many of us forget just how blessed we are. How many men have fought and died to protect our freedoms. So I think this is an important day for remembering.

And on a different note, I think this is just a happy day. There isn't the stress that seems to come with Christmas or Thanksgiving. Just happiness. Lots of cooking out and laughing. Swimming and lazy afternoons. It's perfection, really. Then fireworks later, which still have a way of making me feel like a little kid.

So there you have it. My essay on "Why I love the 4th of July". :)

The song of the day...a little Bruce. Born in the USA.

Enjoy the holiday!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This Christmas...

All I want for Christmas is...

1. Words. The right ones. Both for my manuscript and my everyday life.

2. Peace. On earth, in my life, etc. Just that general Peaceful Easy Feeling that I hear so much about.

3. Contentment. This is somewhat elusive in my world. Just when I'm content, something happens to make me discontent. :) I just might have a special gift for making things harder than they need to be.

4. And along those lines...Simplicity. Although on second thought, maybe not so much. I say I want things simple, but seem to thrive best on Complicated.

5. My family. Games, food, laughter. Funny how now that I'm "all grown up" Christmas with my family becomes less about gifts and more about time.

6. My friends. Oh how blessed I am. I stood in the kitchen tonight and gazed at my fridge, which is adorned with Christmas photo cards from them. I'm a lucky girl for sure.

7. Time. It goes too fast for my liking. I went to bed and it was January and now all of the sudden, we're nearing the end of December. What happened? I look back and am astounded at how quickly the year went. Note to self: Live in the moment.

8. Boldness. I need a little bit of bold for Christmas this year. No more doormat. But not so assertive as to make me brazen or harsh.

9. Spontaneity. I need some of this too. Just a tad. To keep me out of a rut.

10. Organization. This should be on everyones Christmas list this year. I think with a little more organization, I'd get more of #7. Which would give me more #5, #6, and #9.

Okay, that's about it. You think Santa can come through for me?

The song of the day is Mistletoe by Colbie Caillat.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Year, New List of Things To Do...

Well, Happy New Year!

I'm certainly hoping that whole myth about whatever you are doing at the stroke of midnight being an indicator for the rest of the year isn't true, because I was asleep when the clocks chimes/bells tolled, or whatever.

On second thought, considering that I probably still have a lack of sleep to make up for from college (and that summer I spent in Italy) maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing so spend a bit of time in 2008 in slumber.

But seriously, I love the idea of a new year. A clean slate. And my favorite thing, a blank day planner. I'm one of those people who refuses to give in to the more technological planner/calendar systems like Blackberrys or whatever. I prefer my old standby--a Franklin Covey planner.

I've been a planner girl for years. I love to make my daily to do list (and yes, I sometimes even do this on weekends and vacations, and I make no excuses for this habit because without it, I doubt I'd ever get anything done). I love to write down birthdays, anniversaries, meetings, and such in my planner.

And I hate to reveal this particular idiosyncrasy, but I also like to write down what outfit I wear each day. I've done this since high school. That's right. I could go back in my planners (which I keep) and tell you what I was wearing on this day in 1994. I don't do this so much now that I work from home. And I know it's strange, but it helps me to make sure I'm not just wearing the same thing over and over! :)

Anyway, I have high hopes for the year that is 2008. I can't wait to see what God has in store for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Well, it's about that time! I LOVE Christmas. In fact, I even have a special Christmas section in my planner that starts in August and helps me make sure I do all the "Christmasy" things I want to do. Yep. I'm one of those kind of people. I like to do crafts (paint ornaments, make wreaths, etc.), bake (I'm having a marathon cookie bake tomorrow), and shop for just the right gift.

But this year, since all my belongings are in storage, I only pulled out my very favorite decorations. And rather than pull out my tall pre-lit tree from the storage building, I opted to put up 3 small pre-lit trees. Small, but still very festive.

I finally got my cards mailed out this week--I did photo cards this year. I couldn't resist. Every card I got from my college friends was a photo card, usually featuring their small children. Since I don't have any children to feature, I figured I'd put me and my dogs. And of course, me being me, I printed a few different cards just for some variety. I won't actually post the cards, but see the pictures below!

Merry Christmas!


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