2011, The Good News

2011 is coming to an end, and for some, not a moment too soon. You might question my sanity with the post title 2011, the good news. There were politicians, businessmen, and celebrities who behaved badly. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornadoes that killed and destroyed. Economies of many nations hover on the brink of collapse. There were heroes who struggled to save, to take a stand, and who perished in that fight. Even on a personal level, I had many challenges that took huge chunks of time to process and overcome.
2011 is coming to an end, and for some, not a moment too soon. You might question my sanity with the post title 2011, the good news.

Many people, particularly the news media, look for the shocking, the tragic or the disheartening stories from the past year. They seem to revel in the ugliness of behaviors and events.

Not me. I am a glass-half-full kind of gal. It’s that attitude, that expectation that helps me see the huge range of good that happens. Despite all the economic downfalls, natural disasters and humans behaving badly, things were not as bad as they seemed. There were stories of heroes across the world and in the US, stories of advances in science and health, and of course, changes in the world of publishing, too.


In Egypt Thousands of Muslims for a Human Shield for Coptics.

In UTAH strangers ignored the danger to themselves and saved a man trapped beneath a burning car.

Wildlife rangers protect animals in the Congo at great risk to themselves.

CNN’s search for heroes found some amazing people. And the hero of the year is helping women and newborns in Indonesia.

This video is long at 19 minutes, but it is an amazing story of how Alberto Cairo found humanity and dignity in the midst of war in Afghanistan. He calls his talk There Are No Scraps of Men.

It started with One Person in Michigan and spread around the country. Secret Santas pay off layaways. Thanks to Janelle Madigan for this story.


There are amazing advances in science from better hip replacement devices, to plasma brushes that promise painless dental work, to solar energy systems in North Africa that will provide clean power for the region and Europe here.


How about this amazing piece? New Leukemia Treatment Exceeds Expectations.

Book News

Now, who says fantasy authors don’t get no respect? Author of the Year.

Just think what this means for ebook sales!

As The Year Closes

I count 2011 as a huge success. You will find my list of accomplishments here. I’ll share my goals for 2012 in another post. I hope to exceed those goals.

I don’t pretend to know what 2012 will bring, not on a personal level, a professional level, a national level, or a worldwide level. There will be bad things that happen in 2012. That’s the way of the world. But I know there will be good things that happen, too. That’s the way of humanity. We’re a mixed bag of good, mediocre, and bad. You have to be wary of the bad, but don’t be so on guard that you miss the good.

So on this eve of the New Year’s Eve, my wish for friends, family, and yes, even foe is that you make the effort to see the good despite whatever happens because attitude and expectations can lead from good to great.

What about you? Do you look for the good? What was your 2011, the good news? Won’t you share those stories with us?

Reviewing 2011: Measuring Success

As I read year-end reviews in the various online magazines and news sites that I follow, I realized that I have never done a year-end review of my own goals for the previous year. How can that be? I am an over-analyzer of epic proportions. I analyze things for my day job, for every major purchase, for gift purchases, for — well, everything. So how is it that I never look back at what I’ve accomplished for the year? I think I have been afraid to look back. Afraid that I’d be disappointed. Afraid that instead of measuring success I’d see failure.


Due to a number of personal crises in the past ten years, my writing had taken a back seat to dealing with other things. 2011 continued with numerous challenges. There were serious health issues in my immediate and extended family, overwhelming issues at my day job that sucked the energy right out of me, and emotionally wrenching events–the news that one of my dogs has a life-limiting health condition, and the hardest news of all, one of my family members is getting divorced. There were positive things I tried to do, but somehow things didn’t work out. It has been difficult to see the trees for the forest (Yeah, I know that’s backward – that has been my life).

And, for an optimist at heart, I tend to be rather harsh on myself. For example, as I was contemplating writing this post, I thought ‘how can I write a year-end review when I didn’t accomplish very much?’ Translate that to I didn’t finish my novel-in-progress nor did I finish my revision-in-progress. Thus I failed as a writer.

So all-in-all 2011 seems to have been a total bust.

Mrs. Darkside of the Force

Wait a minute. I think Mrs. Darkside has gotten her grips into me.

For those of you who have not been formally introduced, Mrs. Darkside is my alter ego. Her full name, Mrs. Darkside of the Force, says it all. She is the doubter, destroyer, and naysayer who used to haunt me a lot. Mrs. Darkside is a master at negative self-talk. Negative self-talk (I didn’t get anything done, I’m not very good, etc.) starts a self-fulfilling downward spiral of energy and self-esteem.

So how do you beat Mrs. Darkside? Learn to identify your cycles of negative self-talk is the first step. Naming Mrs. Darkside takes away her power and it refocuses you on the good, the hope, and the yes-I-can attitude. But even more important is learning to master positive self-talk. Honor yourself for your spirit, for the struggle to survive, for the desire to make good choices. Celebrate the good choices you did make. Take in the positives. Even when life events overwhelm you, celebrate the small steps such as “I got out of bed today,” “I got dressed,” or “I ate a healthy meal.” Count your successes, no matter how small. You’ll be amazed at how positive self-talk empowers you.

So, now that Mrs. Darkside is put firmly in her place, what have I accomplished in the past year?

What I Accomplished

My writing was given a higher priority in my life. (Previously, writing came after family crises, working the paying job, all household chores, etc., resulting in very low word counts for too many years.)

I took a total wreck of a novel I wrote more than 20 years ago and have crafted more than 32,000 words in revision, transforming the wreck into a thing of pride. For that, I have to thank Holly Lisle and her amazing How to Rewrite Your Novel course. Not all of her methods work for me, but studying her course gave me a bunch of new tools that do work.

HTML and CSS code and I became acquaintances and I crafted a website for myself.

With help from Kristen Lamb’s Blogging 101 course, I learned how to use Twitter and a blog to create my own writer’s platform. I also met a bunch of amazing friends as a result of that course and whose support and encouragement is something I count as a big positive for the year.

I wrote and published nearly 20,000 words in blog posts and online articles.

In addition, I wrote 11,000 plus words in my writer’s journal.

I created a new website and shopping cart for a new phase of my husband’s online business.

In the family activities category, I babysat grandkids, celebrated birthdays, celebrated another wedding anniversary with the man I love, had an overall successful year at work, and managed to keep my tiny rose garden alive for another year.

So, you might ask me, did you make any money writing in 2011? Not one red cent. Yet, my writing skills have improved significantly. My increased commitment to my writing is measurable in a markedly increased word count for the past year. I made a public statement that I am a writer with a website and a blog. My faith in my writing ability is stronger than ever and has been reinforced by the many wonderful comments I’ve received on my blog and through my website.

Looking Back & Forward

Looking back, I’d say that while 2011 held many challenges, it has been a success for me on a personal level and happily, a very successful year for me, the writer. I am looking forward to developing friendships, to writing more, and to the successes in store for me in 2012.

How about you? Does your version of Mrs. Darkside grab you when you look back at your progress? Are you measuring your success for 2011?

ETA: I don’t make progress posts every year, but you might want to see how my measuring success progressed over the years. Read “Lessons from 2017.

Your Christmas Gift

No matter your religion, no matter your belief system, we all can get caught up in the should-dos, the must-dos, the hurry-burry of the Christmas season, the noise, the lights, your Christmas gift shopping, and all the other activities. It can get overwhelming.

When you are stressed out, overstimulated, and done in by your list of things to do, the best gift you can give yourself and the people around you is a little nurturing.

Do you take a few moments now and again to nurture yourself? What gives you that sense of renewal? Music? Nature? A walk in the dark? Candles flickering? A long soak in a hot bath? For me, any of the above will work, but sometimes it is a matter of taking the time to find my center. Just a few minutes can be all it takes. Do you have a few minutes now?

My gift to you, should you choose to accept it, is a few minutes of quiet reflection.

An original arrangement of O Holy Night performed by Tony Grimsley

Silhouette of Madonna and Child

wishing you joy and peace, and a very merry Christmas

Spreading the Christmas and Chanuka Cheer

Your regular Wednesday blog series, Re-visioning Your Story, has been interrupted by . . . shopping . . . parties . . . shopping . . . baking . . . shopping . . . writing cards . . . and, you guessed it! SHOPPING! Since we’re all busy at this time of year, regardless of what holiday you do or don’t celebrate, I thought I’d share a few blog posts I found meaningful at this time of year. I’m spreading the Christmas and Chanuka cheer for you to enjoy.

a sprig of holly spreading the Christmas and Chanuka cheer

The following Christmas and Chanuka messages are brought to you by some of my very talented WANA friends*.

(*WANA = We Are Not Alone, by Kristen Lamb. Check out her class for building a writer’s platform using social media: Join this class or the pixies win.)

Susie Lindau’s holiday tradition parallels storytelling except for the cutting up part.

Don’t miss Julie Hedlund’s delightful look at Clement C. Moore’s classic ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas retold from the parents’ view.

August McLaughlin’s post about a teen’s high jinx at the holidays is hilarious: stealing Jesus.

Calvin and Hobbes fan Louise Behiel shares Calvin’s snowmen, some music and a present that will give you a Christmas smile.

I love the music that Coleen Patrick shares when she wishes us a Happy Chanuka.

And tooting my own horn, you may want to check out one of my other December holiday posts: A Christmas Cry Baby, Quotes in the Spirit of Christmas, or December Holidays by the Week.

Stay tuned! Next week we will return to our regular blogging schedule and topics. Thank you so much for visiting. And a special thanks to my WANA friends for cheering me onward and for providing such wonderful thoughts to share. In the meantime, in the spirit of the holidays please join me in spreading the Christmas and Chanuka cheer, or whatever the cheer or expression of your holidays.

Exposing the Humbugs at Christmastime

Image courtesy of Capsun Poe at Flickr

Have you gotten the idea that I love Christmas? Yes? You’ve probably also picked up that I’m not terribly politically correct about it, too. So beware, if being politically correct is important to you, you may not wish to continue while I am exposing the humbugs. *smile*

Exposing the Humbugs

Could there be anything worse than those who take out of spite or greed or stupidity? Still, we need to be aware that sometimes you do need to look a gift horse in the mouth. Please read The 12 scams of Christmas.

According to economist friends of Dan Ariely in this Wall Street Journal article, gift giving is irrational. Read his article Is it Irrational to Give Christmas Gifts? In my humble opinion, it is irrational to try to rationalize the idea of giving gifts! What do you think? Should you give rational Christmas gifts?

This next article is along the same lines, but more from the psychoanalytical arena. “‘Giving is almost more about the giver’ than it is about the recipient, says Tina Lowrey, a professor of marketing at the University of Texas-San Antonio who has studied gift-giving behavior.” She also ranks gift-giving into the following categories:
Procrastinator-worrier, Planner, Practical Giver, Do-Gooder, or Perfect Gift Giver?

What about you? What kind of gift giver are you? Does it really matter? If you are buying gifts in the spirit of Christmas, to give, to remember, to connect, then the recipient should rejoice.

Yes, I’ve gotten my fair share of things I would never have bought myself. Check it out, there actually is an Ugly Sweater Store.

Even so, as long as the giver’s heart is in the right place, say a most sincere thank you. The giver has given time, effort and money to gift you and to share a joyous season with you. That is the gift you appreciate and give thanks for.

Even Churches

Of course, we can’t point fingers at non-believers as grinches when even two churches can get into a debate about Christmas sentiments. Apparently, only Catholic Dogs Go to Heaven.

The biggest humbugs of all are those that insist on political correctness. Is it really degrading your religion, or lack thereof, if someone wishes you a Merry Christmas? This example of a politically correct Twas The Night Before Christmas demonstrates the absurdity of taking political correctness too far.

Restoring Sanity

Fortunately, I am not alone in my quest to restore a little sanity to Christmas.

In The Twelve Blogs of Christmas, each participant took on a different way to discuss Christmas: books, cookies, music, movies, Christmas toys, holiday foods, Christmas faux pas; decorations, Christmas memories. These posts are a lot of fun. You’ll find one here.

Even a redneck like Larry the Cable Guy understands political correctness can go too far. Listen to him read Twas the Night Before a Non-denominational Holiday formerly known as the Night before Christmas

Are there Humbugs in your life? Let me know, I’ll help you expose them, for once exposed they lose power to influence your Christmas.

I hope you had fun thinking about the absurdities that can accompany Christmas.

Christmas is about so much more than the absurdities. It’s more than the sights.

My Christmas wish is that everyone has a Linus in their life who can explain:

That IS what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Merry Christmas,
EVERYONE, even the Humbugs!

Exposing the Humbugs has been brought to you in the spirit of Christmas.

Bah Humbug image courtesy of Capsun Poe at Flickr.com