The Yellow Rose of Valentine’s Day

Roses are red for Valentine’s Day, aren’t they? In this vignette, the yellow rose isn’t a flower and it isn’t romantic. But it is a wish for those who don’t feel that they are enough on Valentine’s or any day of the year.

The Yellow Rose of Valentine's Day, a vignette, Be FabulousThe Yellow Rose of Valentine’s Day

Couples crowded the restaurant decorated with red hearts and red roses and red bows. They only had eyes for one another until she appeared. The silver-haired woman dressed in a vibrant yellow off-the-shoulder dress glided between tables. The hostess sat her at the center table. Alone. She sat with perfect posture, crossed her ankles, and smiled and chatted with the hostess.

The waiter brought her a bottle of champagne. She saluted with her glass and drained it in a single draught, then laughed a full-voiced, from the belly laugh, loud enough that the entire restaurant of couples stopped talking and stared. She laughed again and set her glass down. The waiter refilled it, then left. She placed her hands on the table and a generous and genuine smile lit her face. She swayed as if to music, but it wasn’t the sappy romantic ballad that filled the restaurant. The other customers recovered and re-focused on each other.

At a table near the woman in yellow, sat a young couple. He looked uncomfortable in a too-tight suit. His girlfriend wore a frilly red dress and rarely took her eyes off of him. But his eyes drifted away from his date, drawn to the woman in yellow. His date reached out and touched him, she cajoled him, then she glared at him with stabby eyes.

The woman in yellow, absorbed in the melody that only she could hear, didn’t seem to notice. Her smile grew wider and more infectious when the waiter approached with her meal. She clapped her hands and thanked him, then focused on her plate. She ate her steak and lobster with gusto and sipped her Champagne.

A waitress served the nearby couple while she ate. The young man shoveled food into his mouth between glances at the woman in yellow. His date frowned and stirred her mashed potatoes.

The woman in yellow sat back, her smile wide and pleased. The waiter cleared her table and they exchanged a few words.

A few moments later, the waiter brought her a small chocolate-covered, heart-shaped cake. He sliced it for her and she laughed at something he said. She took a bite cake and her eyes closed in reverence. She relished every bite of that slice of cake and when she finished she sighed a long, contented sigh. The waiter hurried to her table with her check. She smiled at him, paid cash, and swept past the table with the young couple and all the other tables with couples and out the door.

The young man at the nearby table signaled the waiter. “Who was that woman?”

The waiter looked after her. “She has reserved that table every Valentine’s day for the past twenty years but I’ve never known her name.”

“Does she always come alone?”

The waiter smiled. “Always. She says,”Everyone of us are enough in and of ourselves. Love yourself. Be fabulous.'”


Have a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

In This Month of Love-Love Nature

It’s February, love is in the air, and Valentine’s Day will soon be here. But you can’t truly love anyone one else if you don’t love yourself, first. (See my post In This Month of Love—Love Yourself). Chances are you have a nature-deficit and you’re suffering for it. If you love yourself, love nature and make time to connect with nature every day.In this month of love--love nature to care for yourself. read more

What Time in Nature Does

Studies show that connecting with nature increases our sense of well-being. When we give ourselves the gift of time in nature, it allows us to understand our place in the world. We feel more connected.

Connecting with the natural world also helps with healing physically and emotionally. Hospital patients with views of the outside heal faster. Those who are grieving find time in natural settings soothing.

Studies suggest that connecting with nature also makes us smarter and more productive.

A Nature-Deficit

Yet, in our modern-day lives, American’s spend more than 90% of their time indoors with little to no fresh air. See this from Velux. Some studies show that we spend even less time in nature.

“In 1989, Ott “reinterpreted” the codes from the MCTBRP activity pattern data for 44 U.S. cities ( Robinson et al., 1972) to estimate the amount of time that people spend in-transit, outdoors, and indoors, and he concluded that employed persons in the U.S. spend only about 2% of their time outdoors, 6% of their time in transit, and 92% of their time indoors.” — And Americans aren’t the only people who spend more time indoors. Estimated outdoor time was far less than expected in eleven other countries.

Our indoor lives mean that 15% of us suffer from some level of Seasonal Affective disorder or SAD. It also means that we are sicker.

Indoor air can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. And children’s bedrooms can be the worst polluted room in the house. Children living in a damp and moldy house have a 40% increased risk of developing asthma.

Our disconnection from nature in our daily lives, may be endangering the earth. Some researchers believe we do nothing about pollution because we disconnected. Without regular time in nature, we don’t see that nature is in danger.

So what can we do about it?

Watching birds has become part of my daily meditation affirming my connection to the earth body. Carol P. Christ

Broaden your definition of nature. If you’re in an urban setting, a plant in your apartment or a bird on your window sill can be a moment to connect with nature.

Find a few minutes every day to reconnect with nature. Take a walk, visit a park, plant a garden, or open your windows to revel in fresh air and sunshine. Visit a local waterfall, a creek, or a river.

Take a few minutes to educate yourself and/or your children on the natural flora and fauna of your area.

Write down three things to appreciate about nature every day. What would you write? Appreciate how our planet gives us water to drink, air to breathe, flowers to look at and scent the air.

Take part in arbor day, a community garden, take a vacation to a national park or national forest area.

Try to leave the Earth a better place than when you arrived. Sidney Sheldon

Love Nature

To wholly believe in and love ourselves, we need that connection with nature.

In this month of love--love nature

So in this month of love—love nature.

Scenes, the Lego bricks of Story Structure

Have you ever seen a child learn to use Lego bricks? The youngest child builds a tower one brick on top of another. An older child interlocks the first two or three bricks but ends up with unconnected towers. The older the child gets, the more he understands that interlocking the bricks makes a stronger structure. Her structures grow taller, sturdier, and more complex. So it is with understanding story structure. There’s the big picture that most everyone understands: the beginning, middle, and end “bricks.” Dive deeper into story structure and you learn about the three-act structure, the four-act structure, the five-act structure, and so on. Just like legos, some bricks have only two connectors, others have four. Some are thin and some are thick. Scenes are the interlocking “bricks” for building stories, the Lego bricks of story structure. And like Lego bricks, scenes come in all sizes.

Learn about Scenes, the Lego bricks of Story Structure

What is a Scene?

“A scene is a unit of conflict, of struggle, lived through by character and reader. It’s a blow-by-blow account of somebody’s time unified effort to attain an immediate goal despite face-to-face opposition.” Techniques of the Selling Writer, Dwight V Swain

Swain’s definition tells you what the parts of a scene are. There’s an immediate goal, there’s face-to-face opposition, a blow-by-blow struggle, and the effort to attain that goal is contained in a time unified way.

But that’s the surface level of what’s in a scene.

The Scene’s Purpose

Every scene must have a purpose, preferably two or more. What purposes do scenes serve? The set up for what is about to happen is delivered in a scene. Scenes serve the plot with the “what comes next” step-by-step action. Character building through action and reaction happens at the scene level. Scenes put ground beneath the readers’ feet with time, location or setting, and backstory. Mood and intensity are built into the scene. Deepening of the theme or any of the story elements also happens at the scene level. Layering and interlocking scenes with these things creates a more complex and textured story.

Scene Structure

Scenes have beginnings, middles, and ends. They begin with a hook and a set up that draws the reader in. The middle shows us the struggle and the end shows us the results of that struggle. The results of the struggle can be positive—the goal is achieved, negative—the goal is lost, or neutral—neither party won the goal. The end of the scene contains another hook, or prompt, that makes the reader want to turn the page.

The Emotional Impact of a Scene

If every scene ends the same way, the hero always wins the goal or the antagonist always wins the goal, the story loses emotional impact. The writer must balance give and take. If the first scene is a win, the next must be a loss, or neutral. The results rotating through win, loss, or neutral is part of what makes the story feel like it is moving forward. It’s in this struggle where your reader will find the most satisfaction. Your reader will be asking, “will the hero win the day?”

Scene, the Lego Brick of Story Structure

At the very basic, lego brick level, scenes convey the “what happens” in the story. But an interlocking, layered scene will convey so much more.

The “bricks” of story, scenes convey the face-to-face action.
Scenes begin and end in a hook.
Strong scenes build in tension, release a little tension, then crank it up again.
Scenes reveal the back story in tiny shards that expose the character’s motivation.
The time and location of a scene can increase the emotional impact of your theme, your characters motivations, and the characters’ successes and failures.

Scenes are the Lego bricks of story structure. Build scenes that work for you, work for your story. Use your scene’s structure to carry your reader deeper into the story. When you interlock your scenes, you create a solid story, and you have a happy reader who is ready to buy more books.