Friday, May 19, 2017

Mighty like an Oak

A wonderful and very long-time friend passed away a week ago.
She was one of the most dynamic and charismatic persons I had ever met. She was contagious.
Her Spirit was as righteous as it was true.

It's impossible to replace people like this. Impossible.
They fill a void in you that no one else can,
that no one else is capable of doing,
because they are so beyond the norm.

While we are trapped in time, here on earth,
slave to the ticking clock, heaven isn't slave to anything.
Nor is eternity, nor is her spirit.
She is still here, in our hearts, and around us.
She exists. And she is free.

Free from cancer, free from pain and suffering.
Free to be herself, her now fully Glorified self, again.

Like an oak tree and its' acorns, she dropped acorns incessantly. Her care, her words, her utter devotion
and love to those around her, lives on.
She left acorns everywhere she went; dropping love,
dropping time, dropping kindness, dropping encouragement.

She lives on and the parts of her she left for us, are now in us.
Like an oak tree, whose arms hover over those they watch, she too
did this and continues to now.

Hug your people. Tell them you love them.
Appreciate those in your life who are everywhere with you
and especially those who aren't, or can't be.
They need to hear it. They need to know.

Thank you, Robin...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Writing to Write Because You Write

There's a much-adhered bit of writing advice that most writers are told, whether it's from a teacher, mentor, critique partner or book.

It's this: To write well, you must read.

And it's true.

It's like studying art work if you paint or sculpt

Or watching dramas or theater if you're an actor.

You have to study the craft in which you create.

As Stephen King said in his perfect book On Writing, "If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that” (147)."

Yep.

Also, I think I need to add that one needs to write in order to be a great writer.

I know. How obvious, right?

But, it's not to some. I know "writers" who only write the book they are working on, but nothing else.

They don't write short stories, articles, poems, not even a blog. They don't do any writing other than the latest book they're working on. And edit it. Over and over. Day in and day out.

Where's the growth?

Honestly, I think it's absurd and pure garbage to think your writing will be stellar if you don't write in other genres or types. It's like only reading in one genre and expecting your writing to be superior, even though you write in that particular genre.

Contradiction, then? Well, in my opinion, it hinders writing growth.

Successful writing is an all or nothing approach. To understand romance writing, is to understand how the narrative moves. To understand mystery, is to understand foreshadowing. To understand children's fiction is to understand how to write as cleanly as you possibly can.

You need to read it all to write it all. And you need to write it all (even if you're no good at it) to truly write well.

Not writing in other forms is equivalent to wanting to interior decorate a 1960s mid-century modern home but only using modern items to do this. It doesn't work and clearly lacks authenticity.

You have to blend the old with the new. And in this case, using only vintage would be preferable (to me).

If you haven't read King's book and you write, for the love of all things literary, READ IT.

I think coffee should sort of be a part of the writing process, as well. It literally disappears as I write and I don't recall drinking any of it. But, by golly, it helps!

And here's a perfect mid-century modern moment with coffee in it.

Now...go read everything. And go write everything!

-HJS




Friday, March 24, 2017

Everyday Moments

When I go to sleep at night, my mind literally goes back over the events of the day, chronologically ... but backwards.

I didn't realize I did this until I noticed within five minutes -- and nearing the point of falling asleep -- I was thinking about events that happened in the very beginning of the day.


I'll think about my puppy, following me around when I'm home, and doing this.





Then I'll think about how my husband was painting the entire trellis, and not complaining about it.

And then  I'll think about my son driving me today, and how we both wore camo. (And how we didn't rear end anything.)

It was weird. And enlightening. And a little bit like looking at snap shots, actual photos, of each major event of the day. Even if the major events were really not so major.

And it made me think about how the little things really all add up to big things.

You know how people say that every day goes by and change doesn't really seem an obvious thing, until you look back at the entire year as a whole, and then when we're grasping the entire scene, the whole picture, we see the change.

And the change is huge.

I think this is true. Our lives are composed of little things. And those little things do inevitably end up as big things. It's like weight loss, or weight gain. It's like compounding interest. It's like working on a book a page a day and seeing an entire book read (or written) after many weeks or months.

It's hard to see change sometimes, especially when we want it. Badly. But, that change is happening even if it's slow.

I think God gives this "slowness" as a favor to us, even if we think it's a curse. The step-by-step, slow-as-a-snail pace is truly the only way we humans can cope with anything, though we say otherwise.

Big events, big change, overnight 180-degree-changes, those are hard. Really hard. That can mean death, or life, or moving, or illness. Major stresses. Things we don't want to deal with.

Yet, we beg God to answer our prayers in our time when really, if he's waiting to answer -- fixing the details behind the scenes -- we see it's to our advantage.

He's waiting to grant our request when we can actually handle it.

I joke to my family and friends that the epitaph on my tombstone (or rather my obit in the paper) is going to say "Never Say Never and Timing is Everything." Because, if there is anything I've learned last year and into this year, it's the both of those.

Pride tells me to say "never," when I have no business saying "never" about anything. Ever. Ask yourself next time why you're saying "I'll NEVER do, be, go, have such and such ..."

I asked myself this, too, after I began eating all my "nevers." For breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My foolish pride makes me say "never." "Well, I'll never drive a minivan." I've said this. I swear I have because I don't like minivans. To me, they're maybe the ugliest vehicle on the planet of vehicles.

(To all my friends who drive them, my deepest apologies).

But come on now. Let's say I had no income, my other car died, I had no money and needed a car. What if someone gave me a minivan. Would my pride say no?

It's almost as if the moment I say "never," God will go out of his way to show me how unrealistic -- and how very ungrateful -- I am.

Jesus (Mr. Perfect, mind you) wasn't here on earth to say "never" to anything. He was the opposite of that, in fact. He would always talk to anyone, always heal, always listen, always care, always love. He's still doing that today. So, why am I saying never? "Never" puts limits on everything.

Including blessings.

It's also pride that makes me think I know timing better than my God I'm praying to.

And we all know that can't possibly be true.

But, this is:

It really is. Even if what we're asking for changes, or if we change along the way.

And I really dislike long blog posts. Because most of the time when I'm reading blogs like this, they frustrate me. I want the meat of the story in less than 400 words so I can gain some insight and move along with my day.

I dislike this post because it's too long. Again, my apologies.

The moral of this post? Never say never, timing is everything, and keeping asking for what you want.

Takes care of just about everything in your life now, doesn't it?

-HJS

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Just Say Yes

This year is my year of yes. At least, more yes than no, and more yes's even when it hurts to say yes.

Why? Because cool things happen when one says yes. (Yes to the right things, anyway).

But, I'm serious. You can't imagine the crazy good things that happen when you let go and say yes.

Case in point:

We went to the California Auto Museum here in Sacramento a couple days ago. The coolest little museum with vintage perfection all over the place.

With doors like this, you know cool has to be its middle name.



But, as we left, my husband casually mentioned that he saw "on the news that the train station here was refurbished and reopened and the grand re-opening was today," and should we go?

I said yes. Even though I had a zillion other things to do, I still said yes.

We literally sailed into the building. 
Literally.
Sailed.



Got almost instant up-close (across the front door!) parking, walked into a tour that was starting in a few minutes. And the free coffee and pastries and live jazz was like the most amazing bonus in the history of bonuses.


Train station was gorgeous, by the way. 



All this to say, just say yes. 




With yes, you gain. 
With yes, you behold. 
With yes, even if you're giving, you're receiving. 
With yes, you're allowing gifts to be had your way... ones too good to even imagine.

This little trip was one of those good things.

So, words of wisdom, say yes a little more this year, even if its inconvenient.
You'll find inconvenience disappears instantly as blessings appear more rapidly than you can collect.

-HJS