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Happy Weekend!

Happy Weekend! Be sure to adjust your clocks accordingly. 😉

Happy Weekend-Weekend-Atina Atwood
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©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more fun!

Southern Girls Don’t Juice (Cleanse)

Southerners Are Serious About Food

Oh my gosh, y’all – my Southern roots are showing. I’ve mentioned time and again that I really do love leading a very grounded, holistic lifestyle. At the same time though, like any full-blooded Southern girl, I will slap your best friend for a delicious plate of hot, fresh homemade biscuits, grits, and sausage. Because Southerners know what’s up.

I don’t know of any Southerner who does not love food. Of course, we’re also sadly notorious for deep-frying anything, eating practically anything that moves, and for some extreme folks, consider obesity to be a conspiracy theory created by the FDA. Thankfully, I’m actually a bit of an anomaly in the sense that I don’t really eat fried food, and I adore fresh fruits, veggies, and clean eating, but that’s another post for another time. And let me say that I write with a bit of hyperbole here; clearly, many Southerners are healthy, fit, and could show the world a thing or two in the realm of fitness and nutrition. Despite this fact, we Southerners love our foods, and we are all experts on the art of eating. A Southerner’s relationship with food is a serious life-long romance. We shall remain forever faithful.

So one night at some ungodly hour after midnight, because I couldn’t sleep, I started cruising down Groupon Drive. For whatever reason, I decided that I needed to do a 3-day juice cleanse from Jùs by Julie.

Southerners-juicing-cleanse-jus-by-julie
Jùs by Julie

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to fill your body with more fruits and veggies than your tummy could hold if you ate them whole. Besides, I’d never tried it before, and that’s exactly why Groupon is a phenomenal marketing tool. It’s kind of like where insomniac e-shoppers go to finally understand why drunken people turn around to their friends and say, “Hold my beer” before they do something stupid. You end up making weird choices that you look back at the next morning and think “What the…?”

Adventures in Juicing

Anyway, a few days later, I came home to see a huge box of juice waiting for me at my front door. I was already skeptical, lying to assuring myself that 18 bottles of fancy juice and natural fiber was going to satisfy my foodie soul over the course of 72 hours. For those of you who are as phenomenal in math as I am, that meant that I would survive on nothing but 6 bottles of juice for 24 hours, 3 days in a row.

I didn’t even last 5 hours.

Don’t get me wrong, I drank the 6 bottles of juice with exotic ingredients ranging from coconut oil and hemp seeds to lemonade and agave with Cheyenne pepper (delicious); but I also ate nice small meals that I thoroughly enjoyed, guilt-free, by the way. Sorry, but although I have a tendency to under-eat, I also have a happy and healthy relationship with food, and no bottles of juice are going to get between us.

I can say that each juice combination was quite decent, and I was able to drink 11 bottles of juice successfully over the course of two days. There was 1 casualty, because I had left it unrefrigerated too long. The remaining 6 are in my freezer, and I’ll get to them later. (No, really. I will.)

Have I learned my lesson? Will I stay away from the evil temptations of Groupon at the hella-crazy hours after midnight? Probably not. Will I order more juices from Jùs by Julie? Probably will. It wasn’t really a bad experience at all. Just don’t expect me to turn down all of my meals while I’m doing it.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more fun!

Happy First Day of Summer!

Seriously, how could I have missed this?! Here’s to my second favorite season of the year – SUMMER! Spring will always be my favorite, but summer is a close second… even in San Diego.

People keep asking me what my plans are, and I’m thrilled to the moon to say that I have none. This will be the first summer in nearly a decade where I can actually say this!!

So, hello good times, hello hot romantic reads and writes, hello fun, hello summer! 

What things do you love to do during the summer?

Happy First Day of Summer
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©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow me on Twitter!

It’s Quiltin’ Time! Binding Love in Fabric

So while I’m here enjoying my summer, I have a chance to continue indulging in my newest, latest, greatest hobby – quilting.

On the one hand, someone may think that it’s likely perfectly normal that a “chick lit” and romance author (no, they’re not synonymous) has fallen in love with such a hobby, but that’s not necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, although quilting is enjoying a resurgence of  popularity, it’s still not exactly what every other 30-something year old is itching to get into.

That’s okay; more fabric for me. 🙂

Just to recap, I started machine sewing and quilting just six months ago in January 2018. Since then, I’ve actually successfully completed 14 projects, ranging from a 6-piece set of reversible quilted placemats to a king-sized quilt. It’s so exciting to try new techniques, and with every project, I create an entirely new pattern and/or throw a new, unique twist on the classics (like making a 3-D  Dresden quilt for my mom).

Quilting is as therapeutic as it is addictive. Don’t believe me? Just think about the impact that the AIDS Memorial Quilt Project has made on the world. Before that, people were actually able to tuck the tragedy of the epidemic in the backs of their minds. Yet, when one sees something, and can touch it, it becomes a tangible link to the heart. To me, that’s exactly what a quilt is.

As a writer, quilting is an extension of my innate need to communicate. Quilts tell stories.   Every single block represents something to the quilter, and historians and anthropologists alike drool over such fantastic discoveries with chopped up fabric that has been stitched back together in seemingly arbitrary patterns. There’s always an element of romance attached to them, even in tragedy. Love is what really binds a quilt together, not just thread.

quilting-writing-romance

To be honest, I think that today’s quilters get a bad wrap. Sure, you’ll encounter cliquish snobs, but as in anything else, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to subject yourself to that kind of environment. Thankfully for me, I have two amazing local quilt shops that are friendly, welcoming, and seem to want to add some “fresh blood” to their stock. I’ll be the first admit that I haven’t yet taken the plunge and joined some kind of quilt retreat, but then again, I haven’t yet done that with any writing conventions, either.

Despite this, I’ve been learning so much from the Internet, stories and tips shared on various social media platforms, and of course, from the sweet and sassy ladies at my local quilt shops in San Diego. I’ve created love presents for my family, and I even made two quilts for the daughters of one of the mothers in my online mom’s group who is really going through some very hard and scary times. I don’t know this woman, and she doesn’t know me, but I was so grateful to reach out to her in this way, just to remind her that she is loved and though of, even by strangers.

When she sent me a picture of her darling babies wrapped up in the quilts that I’d made, smiling such beautiful, full and appreciative grins – well, I can’t even begin to tell you how fulfilling that moment was for me. I think that only a quilter can truly understand. Meh, maybe that’s not true. It isn’t some exclusive club that knows the location of the Holy Grail; the feeling is something like this; whenever you create something out of the pit of your gut, from the recesses of your heart, and you give it away with the calm expectation of receiving absolutely nothing in return, and then someone genuinely thanks you for what you have done, showing you that they feel the love you put into the work you’ve done, and they appreciate its value and worth, then you know what I mean.

This is exactly the same thing that any writer goes through when they present a new novel or work to you. It’s a part of them, even when it’s not even remotely about them. It’s a pitiful attempt to share some form of expression with you, and with one little response, a nudge, a nod – it totally becomes both worthwhile and rewarding.

What hobby do you have that brings you immense satisfaction (besides reading, of course)? I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave your comments! I’d love to hear from you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance.

Separating Families is NOT a Political Issue

Finding the right words for this post is going to be difficult this time, I think. Mainly because I’m absolutely baffled by any person’s ability to turn a violation of humanity into something political.

For this reason, I want to stress that the issue of children being physically separated from their families and taken away is, without a doubt, traumatic. It’s a no-brainer that babies and small children forcibly removed from their parents (or anyone for that matter) under duress is going to leave emotional scarring that will never disappear. There isn’t any way to describe this act eloquently; well, perhaps there is, but there is absolutely nothing eloquent about this situation.

My question isn’t “How could this happen?!”, as anyone could provide myriad answers to this, from any spectrum of political viewpoint. Rather, my husband and I have been spending our time trying to figure out, “How can we help?”

Spewing out blame and finger pointing has never helped anyone, and so I will not use this platform to do so. It’s our good and comfortable right to blame politicians on either side of the isle, and/or the desperate parents who obviously traded one hell in exchange for another. For me, this issue is no longer a matter of politics; it’s become a cry for humanitarian aid.

How will the separated children be accurately reunited with their families?  This policy didn’t begin overnight, and it will take quite a bit of time and tax payers’ money to reunite children with their actual families. Children have been sent to places all over the country, not just the holding facilities in Texas. Very young children will not necessarily be able to express who their family members are, and the question is how can anyone be 100% certain that the children will be properly reunited with their biological families? The only thing that I can think of is DNA testing, at further cost to the government. Also, conflicting reports say that many of the people the children were separated from were not necessarily documented as being the parents/persons responsible for the child. If this is true, that means that bringing the families back together will be even more of a mess than I can even possibly fathom.

 

The current Executive Order that was issued on June 20, 2018, is not going to be the end of this highly contested practice. Contrary to many counter arguments, the policy of separating children from families in this manner actually only began in April of this year. My only hope this that we as a people, regardless of political affiliation (or lack thereof) will personally hold ourselves accountable for maintaining humane practices in even the most highly controversial issues. This includes paying very close attention to Section E of said Executive Order, which if successful in court, would allow detainees to be held indefinitely; eerily similar to a shameful chapter in American History, namely internment camps (although 2/3 of those interned were actually American citizens).

This brings me back to my original question:

How can we help?

Firstly, we must remember that these are CHILDREN who are suffering. They have nothing to do with political parties, and they are not to blame for being in the position that they are in.

Secondly, do whatever you can to help children in need. If your heart goes out to the suffering that many children are enduring, but for whatever reason you feel as though you can’t be moved to help in this particular cause, please direct your compassion to needy children anywhere you feel moved to do so. I’m not trying to tell you what to do or to feel, but I certainly implore you to feel compassion, and do what your open heart knows is right.  In my opinion, we should help wherever we can, whenever we can.

Thirdly, money is always helpful, but there are other ways to show that you care. Some people are making light quilts for children to lay down on, making or donating clothes, putting together small care packages, and are requesting toy donations. Please don’t put these gestures down; they’re attempts to offer comfort to little people trapped in a terrifying situation. This website shares more ways to make a difference, as well as the following information:

While money is best, if you want to donate essential items like diapers, wipes, shampoo, and soap directly to immigrant children, Baby2Baby and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) set up a baby registry at Target.

Sending light and love to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. 

Let Go, or Be Dragged

The moment of truth has finally arrived.

My university sent a work offer to me for the 2018-2019 academic year, and I actually turned it down.

This is so incredibly scary, and knowing that the odds of quantifiable success in the Creative Arts are against me makes this an even more terrifying decision, but despite the anxiety and the huge bitter dose of reality (OMG, am I really going to do this???), I know without a sliver of doubt in my mind that I have made the right decision. Still, although I’ve declined the university’s offer, I do intend to initiate some sort of way to bring in additional income besides my writing, which I’m sure will make quite a few interesting blog entires.

My hubby and I have had so many talks about this, and on Father’s Day, he said one particular thing that really resonated with me. He looked me in the eye and said, “You’re an artist. You absolutely have to create. If you don’t, you get physically ill until you’re doing something creative again. As much as you keep trying to convince yourself to go a traditional route, something inside you is always going to resist. Why not take a chance and just follow your calling?”

After hearing such heartfelt words of truth, naturally I briefly bawled like a baby, and then I fought the urge to eat an ice-cream sandwich because I’m in the middle of a 3-day juice cleanse (more on that later). Without a doubt, I’ve been aware of all of those things that he expressed for a long time. To be honest, he’s been encouraging me to “go for it” for the past 5 years. Nevertheless, I’ve been purposely holding myself back. Yes, I’ve written 5 novels in that amount of time, but always on the side, almost as an afterthought. But, dear readers, hold onto your seats: At the beginning of this month, I actually bit the bullet and formally started my own business. This rollercoaster ride is now official.

Yes, I know the statistics about the frequency of small businesses failing, and I know that this won’t be easy. But even if it fails to generate ‘substantial’ cash flow, I already know that this venture will not be a failure. This is an experience that I simply have to go through, and as my husband so eloquently stated in one brilliant moment, as an artist, I simple must create.

For those of you who understand the struggle, calling yourself an artist isn’t the least bit conceited. Actually, it isn’t even a compliment, really. It’s a public confession that you are a person who is a servant of Expression, addicted to communicating, and is an incurable optimist who can’t let go of things like hope, love, or sentimentality – despite the fact that the number one driving force in the world of “success” is monetary gain.

There is a Zen proverb that says “Let go, or be dragged.” This is exactly what my head and heart are saying now. If I continue to work this dead-end career that brings me less and less fulfillment year after year, then it will continue to bring me down; not only emotionally, but physically as well. So, the only logical solution is the let go. (Why do you think that song from Frozen was such a success? Straight up sound advice.)

Let-go-or-be-dragged
Image: Source

So, Lovies – here goes. Fingers crossed!

After the initial celebratory “Wow, that’s awesome! You’re so brave!” conversations, the real questions will start to come up. Far too often these days, people start popping up with fantastic ideas and amazing energy; yet after a month or so, the excitement starts to wane, and then the honeymoon is over. As in a real marriage, starting your own business as a writer, even initially part-time (which is a smart thing to do), is something that takes real commitment. We all know that anything called a “part-time” job only means that less $$$ lands in your pocket – by no means does it indicate less work on your end!

I’ve decided to concentrate on what I consider to be the basics, and I’ll be more than happy to share what they are in future posts.

For now, I’m going to enjoy a few moments of relaxation and solitude, add to my ever-growing list of Things That Must Be Done, and CTFD. Seriously. If you could feel the excitement in my words right now, you would think that I’m some sort of toddler who just can’t sit still for anything. It’s always easy to talk about things that you want to do, and it’s often fun to dream about them; but to really look yourself in the mirror, make the decision to turn a dream into a goal AND THEN GO FOR IT is something that really should be celebrated.

Being a highly-critical psudo-perfectionist, I have extreme difficulty accepting praise and being content with my work. This is one of the prominent disadvantages of being a classically trained vocalist. There’s always one more tweak, one level higher to aim for. Because I know that I’ll never completely eradicate that aspect of my personality (and for many reasons, I don’t even want to), I am learning to accept more zen-like perspectives and adapt them into my daily life.

Let go, or be dragged. 

How many times have you had an inner conflict that led you to just want to walk away from it all, but something always held you back from taking that final step? Obviously, I’ve been there. I’ve just overcome the paralysis (again). This step is probably just as crazy as when I left all that I knew and loved in the United States to be with the man I loved (and still do) in Europe. I was scared to death, terrified of the unknown, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can only hope and pray that this one will also lead me to more joy, happiness, and contentment. And any financial windfall that comes about would be welcomed, too. 😉

My last words of advice are pretty simple: Let your bravery dictate your next actions, and not the other way around.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. 

What is this wonderment called Poldark, and why am I just now getting into it???

Aidan Turner.

Image result for poldarkImage: Source

When I finally started to watch Poldark (about 15 hours ago), I knew that it had been around for a little while. Let’s face it, they’re getting ready to debut Season 4 and I’ve just wrapped up Episode 4 of the 1st season. However, I had no blooming clue that the Poldark saga has been around since 1945!!!

Let that sink in a moment. Poldark has been captivating audiences around the world since 1945. I’ll throw another fun zinger in – this saga is comprised of 12 novels, written by Winston Graham over the span of many decades from 1945 to 2002.

Amazing.

It’s my understanding that each season of the revived Poldark (there was also a previous BBC airing of the saga in the 1970’s) covers two novels. Hopefully, that means that the life of this version of the show will last for at least a total of 6 seasons. In any case, if you’re like me, it seems as though any Summer Reading dilemma that you may have is over.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me love the art of writing. With the perfect dose of divine inspiration, one can create fantastic works that span over generations, but at the same time, never age.

Image result for poldark quotes

Image: Source

Be honest, how may of you were huge fans of Poldark before BBC plucked this man from the heavens and placed him in this BBC revival? I remember him from the very “interesting” supernatural drama Being Human, and I was happy to see him in a role that truly suits him. He obviously has a Ph.D. in Brooding, and every episode of Poldark makes sure that he utilizes it in nearly every scene. He even looks pissed when he’s asking for the time. Fortunately for him (and all of us viewers), he pretty much looks good no matter what. (Sorry – is it wrong of me to objectify him? If so, then please scroll past these final images.)

Image: Source

©Atina Atwood 2016-2018

 

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Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful men in the world who have been blessed to be someone’s father, and the biggest THANK YOU to those of you who do everything and more to be a real dad. That’s called real-life romance, my friends.

It doesn’t matter how old I am, my father will always be my Daddy. I love him so much! He’s such a kind, gentle, helpful, loving person, and all of my life, he has always been there for my family and me. He and my mom have been the most supportive parents, a fantastic example of partnership, and I have always admired their dedication to our family, and their devotion to each other. My Daddy doesn’t have to yell to be noticed, and quite often, he’s perfectly content to find a quiet space for himself to enjoy simply being (I TOTALLY get this trait from him). He has always appreciated and respected nature and inner peace, and I’m not the least bit ashamed to say that I got my “crunchiness” from him, too. ❤

And now, years later, I am so thankful to have another wonderful father in my life, namely the father of my sweet little one. My husband is an absolutely phenomenal father, and I just love the way his chest practically bursts with pride every time he sees our little one. The saying is true: When you see your spouse or significant other loving your child, you fall in love with them all over again. He’s truly such a wonderful Papa, and I am fully aware of the fact that I’ve been extremely fortunate to have lightning strike twice.

Have a wonderful day, and if you are still able to say it, remind the dads in your life how special they are to you. Even if they don’t say it, it means the world to be recognized.

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Trigger Alert

“I learned so much watching Anthony Bourdain. Not just about food, but about culture and life. He was an incredible talent who changed so many people’s lives. It is worth repeating just like after the death of Kate Spade earlier this week ….now with CNN’s Anthony Bourdain… If you need help PLEASE: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Asking for help is a strength not a weakness.” – Nicole F, Friend from University.

This is a post that I’d rather not write, but I would be remiss not to. This week, two prominent and respected creative celebrities took their own lives by brutally hanging themselves.

I’m not going to mince words here. The fact that anyone feels so much pain that they are willing to tragically end their own lives and shred the lives of their families, friends, and their communities into fragments, shows that NEITHER MONEY NOR FAME CAN BUY HAPPINESS. It can’t buy peace, contentment, love, or peace of mind.

Kate Spade, and today, Anthony Bourdain, were both people considered to be “at the top of their game”. They had wealth, notoriety, fame, access, family, fans, followers, etc. But they also apparently had so much pain and sadness within them, that nothing on this earth could bring them the solace that they clearly so desperately needed.

As you already likely know if you’ve read my blog a time or two, I am a woman of faith, and in so many ways, it saddens me deeply to learn of “successful” people who have so much to be grateful for, and yet, the burdens that they have were so heavy that they found no more reason to hope, to want, to believe, to continue. What heartache and sorrow they must have been suffering!

I’ve posted about the phrase “Thoughts and Prayers”, so I won’t go there today. But I will say that I believe in you. No, I don’t know you, but I know that you have a purpose. I also know that you have a choice in everything that you do in life. These are hard times for everyone. We’re all searching for something, asking for more purpose and meaning, and we want to feel relevant.

Sometimes, though, if we walk away from the selfies, the likes, the # of clicks or followers that will never be enough, and we just focus on ONE person… could we make a difference? Could we encourage that one person to say, “Alright, just one more day of this bull”, and then one more day, and then one more until that person recognizes how beautiful and important they are?

WRITE TO ME. Even if you send a comment to me, or post on any social media outlet where you can find me, if you’re serious and want to connect, I’m here. I know that I don’t blog enough to generate tons of traffic, but if my post somehow reaches you when you’re looking for someone to say “I genuinely care and want you to remain on this earth with the rest of us”, then look no further. I’m serious. One of the best quotes of my younger years was from D.C. Talk when they sang:

“Love is a verb.”

PLEASE: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

Photo sources from mercurynews.com

Taking the Plunge

Now that I’ve finally survived yet another semester, I’ve taken a few days to sit around (more or less) and focus on simply being. It might sound silly to some, but I personally strive to live as holistically as possible without being too “crunchy”. 😁

In any case, this has involved me taking a look at the trajectory I’m currently traveling, and taking the time to reassess my goals and what I’m ultimately aiming for. At this point, just as I was last semester, I believe that I can best serve myself and others by following a different path. I know that I’m a natural-born teacher, orator, and communicator, and I think that it’s high time I found another platform that allows me to do all three of these things in a more constructive and much more fulfilling way.

As usual, this leads me to thinking about my fictional and nonfictional works. Am I really able to focus on writing, promoting, and selling my books full- or part time at this point in my life? That’s a HUGE leap into the unknown, and for me, that is also really super scary. However, I’m also hyper-aware of the fact that the best time to launch any ship such as this is when you supposedly “have time”, so the summer is really the best time for me to begin.

That sounds wonderful in theory, but then there is always the dreaded “work/life balance” that for some reason, virtually only women seem to have to worry think about. During this past week or so, I have only written about 5 pages into my next standalone novel, but I’ve been able to start and/or finish about 4 quilting projects since then. Self-sabotaging, much??!!

Well, actually, maybe not. My husband, who is fantastically as diligent as my mom is about reminding me not to be my own worst enemy, pointed out that I need some time “for myself” in order to actually rest my body and mind. He’s very right. ❤️ This all goes back to the holistic perspective of bringing closure to one phase or experience before moving on to another. Energetically speaking, I need to bring balance to my chakras and increase my Qi; in layman’s terms, I need to stfu and ctfd for a hot minute and then decide whether or not I want to proceed into uncharted territory with a clear head and more than just a plan. At the moment, working through this is still a bit of a struggle for me, but I am proud to say that I am getting there!

For those of you who are writers, do you often find yourself prioritizing other things on your To Do list before writing? If you want it to become a full time (or part time) paying job, that’s not going to cut it. Imagine if you were to go to work and your boss asked you to compete a task by the end of the day, but you did every single thing other than that one task. You had one job, and you refused to do it. After walking home with that pink slip, you’d have to ask yourself, how badly did I really want that job?

As soon as you decide that you want to Go Pro, you’ve got to be 100% all in – to the best of your ability. Even if you try it out and decide a bit later that you’ve got cold feet, wade back into the shallow end – and at least know that you tried. But you have to get to that point first. Who knows? You may find it more comfortable swimming in uncharted territory than your fears would like you to believe.

Strip Show

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while, you may have come across the fact that I have absolutely become a fan of #quilting. It’s gaining a resurgence in popularity, and I’m so excited to say that I’ve been bitten by the quilting bug.

There’s something hugely whimsical and romantic about creating quilts with bright and colorful prints. I’m definitely attracted to the “scrappy” look right now.

I’ll admit that the vast majority of the people in my online groups are actually grandmas, but there are also men, and people who are “young” enough to know how life was living as a teenager in the ’90’s.

I’m having a great time experimenting and discovering things, and I just completed a full-sized quilt from start to finish in just TWO DAYS! If you’re familiar with the process of quilting, this is really quite a feat. It’s not perfect- the lines are far from straight, but I absolutely love it!!

I’m calling it “Strip Show”, because I used vertical strips to create the blocks, and because I think that the title is funny. I’m happy to share a picture of my result – imperfections and all. ❤️ I’ll post my pattern in a later blog post.

Happy Mother’s Day

If you’ve given birth through labor or via caesarean; if you’ve known the joy and trepidation of pregnancy; if you have felt the painful loss of a child, perhaps unborn or even never conceived – you are a mother.

If you find yourself in a role that you never expected to be in, when a child born of another is destined to become yours in both of your hearts – you are a mother.

If your fur babies give you the joy and fulfillment of what you know motherhood to be – you are a mother.

If you aren’t yet a mother but would like to become one some day in whatever capacity, I send you love!!

Thank you to all of the moms out there who are giving, loving, and trying every single day. Thank you to all of the men and women who support them, love them, and respect them.

Happy Mother’s Day.

It’s Almost Finals, Y’all

Okay, so if you can think back to the last time you found yourself praying for an academic semester to finally – for the love of humanity – end, then you know exactly how I feel right now. Apparently, educators are often the ones who look most forward to breaks and holidays, not necessarily the students. No wonder – not only do we get to create the exams, we have the joy of proctoring and grading them as well. *Sigh*

Nevertheless, this hasn’t deterred me from slogging along with my latest standalone novel. I’ve just completed Chapter 2, and my EXTREMELY lofty goal is to complete this book by the end of the fall season. The story is there, but I want to get to know the characters a bit more before I continue.

I don’t know how it is for you fellow writers out there, but my characters really like to communicate with me in different ways, through different mediums. Sometimes I’ll even see a complete stranger who reminds me of a character, and I can flesh out details based on that encounter. Other times, scenes unfold themselves and I have to figure out the sequences surrounding the lead up to that moment.

In many ways, it’s similar to planning out a course at the university. You have a strong structure and sense of direction, but you make constant modifications throughout the semester to make sure that the content remains relevant to the characters (aka students) involved. You never really know if your work has paid off until the final exam.

Follow that Gut Feeling

Now that today is Friday, I’m wrapping up what has to be the most low-key Spring Break that I’ve been able to enjoy in a long time. It was awesome not having to do much of anything, and being healthy at the same time. Usually, I’m battling some sort of cold or illness when I have a break, but this time, my determination kept me healthy throughout the week. Almost. Of course, this morning, I woke up with a cold. Whatever. It’s the weekend now, more or less.

It’s hard to say what the coolest part of my break was. I’d have to say that yesterday and today were by far the top two winners because I got to spend quality time with my husband and my little one on separate occasions. Since today is the last day of my week off, I thought that I’d have a Kiddie & Me day, and it’s been a blast.

What do you do when you have free time? Do you spend you time tackling more of those never-ending tasks on your list? Or do you actually use the majority of the time to make the most of your life doing what you love or being with those you love? I’m not judging, just wondering.

I’m wondering because after years of mental preparation, I’m only one final step away from leaving my day job and taking the plunge into the seemingly desired creative unknown. Somehow, somewhere, I have garnered the confidence to believe that I can make enough money from this thing. This is a big deal, people! But when you’re an undeniably creative soul, you pretty much only have two options:

1. You accept the nature of your beast, and do everything within your power to listen to your inner calling, and actually do something to keep every aspect of your being healthy and satisfied. You choose to nourish your creativity, not only acknowledging it, but relying on it on a day to day basis.

2. You try to choke that sucker with all of the strength you have, attempting to drown it, repress it, deny it, ignore it, curse it, and any other negative thing that you can do in order to actively attempt to kill a huge part of yourself that’s been a part of you since inception.

It’s so weird that far too many people in the world choose the latter. I’ve tried doing that before, and never had I been unhealthier or unhappier. I’m just not a 9-5er, lol.

As for me, I simply have to respect that I am an extremely creative being. Actually, i embrace it, and I’m blessed to have a family that has always supported this truth about me. I may not be a reliable blogger, but by golly, I am a creative soul!

During this week, I wrote the first chapter of my next stand-alone book in one day. I love when inspiration comes to me, especially when I create an inviting space within myself to accept its presence.

This is the work that I love to do. While I do love my day job teaching at university, there are too many restrictions that appear, constantly working against my creative flow and even my general sense of well-being. So, this Spring Break was a bit of a trial run for me. The summer break will be the even bigger test. I have a feeling that this is the year when I will go all in.

When it starts to come together, it will be awesome. If I feel the need to abandon all pursuits well, I’m thankful to know that I can always continue teaching in some capacity. But all signs have been telling me for ages to GO!! TRY!!! DO!! Gotta trust my gut and let my creative beast run free.

Alright, universe. I’m listening.

It’s Quiltin’ Time!

I’ve got a new hobby. As crazy as it may sound, I needed to find another creative outlet in order to prevent myself from fatiguing in others. So, what is this new hobby? Well, for one thing, it isn’t cheap. It’s addictive. It’s definitely a hobby that both women and men get super excited about. For many, it can be a viable source of extra, or even primary income. Its a craft. It’s an art. There’s a competitive sector for it around the world. It’s admittedly attractive to grandmas, but I’m okay with that because I’ve always had respect for my elders. (Actually, people of all ages are into it.) It’s challenging and deceptively easy-looking… until you actually get started. It’s artisanal work. It’s relaxing, almost meditative. It’s tons of fun!!

Ladies and gentlemen, my new hobby is quilting.

(I’ll patiently wait for you to recover your senses. Because I know that the title of this post gave you no hint whatsoever.)

After just two months, I’ve shifted from someone who had never even worked on a sewing machine before to someone who has completed two full quilts from start to finish and created an additional 6 quilt tops as well as 6 double-sided quilted placemats. I’m so excited! It’s a great feeling to be able to create on a daily basis without feeling the pressure of turning it into product. I intend to gift or donate the quilts. This is a beautiful and fulfilling hobby that can bring love and light to others. It can’t get much better than that.

During my college days, I performed in an off-Broadway musical called “Quilters”. It tells such a beautiful story that I’ve never forgotten. As a writer, it isn’t unusual that I would be attracted to quilting, because the blocks of any quilt are symbolic. Many quilts, their fabrics, and their stitching styles reflect cultural and historical significance. The blankets are literally designed to tell as story!

Once again, the apple isn’t falling very far from my tree of creativity. 😉

I’m excited to see where this new hobby takes me, and I’d love to share some discoveries with you on my blog as well.

The Worst Blogger in the Universe

Yep, that’s me. Some people thrive at this blogging thing, yet have never been published, and then there are other folks who have been published numerous times, but can’t blog steadily to save their lives.

I definitely fit in the latter category. When it comes to bigger works, I’m all for it, able to focus on the main story and break it down into manageable parts. It’s an experience that tends to be all-consuming, but to me, that’s the beauty of the writing process.

I’ve not done much in the self-publishing realm, but that’s bound to change. It’s a faster pace than the traditional method, and it can give us writers a quicker sense of satisfaction by getting feedback from fans and critics than by worrying over your book baby for months and months and months.

Personally, I don’t mind the wait so much, probably because I’m not used having to produce so much product in order to feel relevant by receiving immediate feedback.

Which is EXACTLY what makes me such a crappy blogger.

(Not to mention the fact that I’m pretty private and don’t share nearly as much as most bloggers do. I don’t know if, e.g. Chrissy Teigen has a blog, but I do know her name because she is constantly using social media to keep her name in the conversation.)

Alas, it’s not in my nature to be that public, and I don’t believe that it ever will be. So, bear with my sporadic posts, and as the larger works come along, I hope that you’ll find them to be worthwhile.

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