#Write31Days2014 – Postcards From Me

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Yall I am so excited.

Those of you who have been following this blog for a little while don’t hear me “talk” very often. Usually it is all poetry up in here.

But I just got so incredibly pumped up thinking about this writing challenge that begins tomorrow that I had to give you a little recap. I wonder if I will lose readers with this 31day thing. It is a lot of words, isn’t it, flowing off the page.

As a writer it is challenging, exhilarating and intimidating. But I enjoyed participating in The Nester’s challenge the last two years that I decided to dive in again.

I am joining a huge group of writers who are joining on of my favorite bloggers, The Nester, for her annual  October writing challenge. If you visit the link up of writers, we are all categorized by topic. You can find me in “Too Awesome To Categorize.” How wonderful is that. Ya’ll I think this is going to be fantastic. I truly hope you can find me over there. But this is where my words will be. So just come back to the mother ship. I plan to write about five times a week. Maybe more. Maybe less. How is that for precise.

Here are the links to the 2012 and 2013 challenges. Do you remember way back when.

31 Days of Wonderful Words – 2012

31 days of wonderful words

31 Days of Noticing – 2013

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And this year’s series is entitled, Postcards From Me (#write31days2014).

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So here is a little bit of the “back story”. I am a big back story girl. I love to know the history of things or how they came to be. I do think this may be a little risky, naming this series Postcards From Me, ummm BORING. Who sends postcards anymore, ummm “old school”. But I am not aiming for boring. I am aiming for excellence. Originality. Whimsy. Art. And to give you all something extra-ordinary.

This is my first year with a pseudo-empty nest. (Long story, tell you more later.) And I have been changing it up a bit. I am getting out and traveling “close to home” and enjoying paying attention to the world, its beauty, and always searching for the poetry.

Though I am not traveling to Europe or to Greece or to Patagonia, I hope that my postcards will reflect ordinary snapshots of life. Honing in on beauty. Highlighting the poetry. And giving us all a chance to remember and focus on simple beauty and simple joy.

I don’t go far. There are no airplanes involved. But I am trying to savor the small, the beautiful, the delightful and the lovely. And send them out for others to see too. In poetry, prose and sometimes in a mix of photography and words..

Join me. I believe it will be an exciting adventure. Don’t worry if you can’t read every day. I might not be able to keep up and write every day. And if you have to unsubscribe because it gets too “noisy” oh I will truly miss you. And I hope you don’t. But there is always grace.

On the other hand if you like what you read and see would you consider sharing my art, my words, with a friend. That is always a super lovely accolade for a writer. It is wonderful to see my words flying around and landing places outside of this blog. I pray that they will bless, inspire, encourage and bring joy and whimsy.

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I am still trying to decide whether to change my series logo every few days or to just select one.

You are seeing me work out the final details. Hope you don’t mind. Here’s another possible button. This is fun. I have some decisions to make before tomorrow, don’t I.
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Have I forgotten anything. Did I mention I hope you will join me. I want to make it easy for you to follow along. If you have questions or suggestions or comments  feel free to leave one. If you will look up to the header of my blog, where the pages are listed, I have added a new page for this series. #write31Days2014. The series will be updated daily and readable by going to this one page.

Thank you for choosing to visit and thank you for choosing to subscribe. If you aren’t following along on twitter I am @graceappears there. I would be honored to have you “like” my facebook page. There is a place to do that in the right sidebar.

See you tomorrow and every day in October. Well, almost everyday. I am planning on bending my own rules and writing perhaps five times a week. This is an adventure and I am just sort of “going for it.” Not terribly poetic, but honest.

Warmly and with grace,

Elizabeth
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A Few Things I Learned In November

One of the things I love about blogging is writing in community with  writing friends. One of my favorite “writing groups” is over at Chatting At The Sky where Emily Freeman just comes up with such clever ways to write in community. For a few months now I have been participating in her monthly wrap-up where we share “A Few Things We Learned…..” during the previous month.

Here is my wrap up. I may have more fun here than you. So if you don’t have a hankering (great Southern word) for random things, or if you don’t like lists, step away from the computer now. Or stick around and see if you are up for a little November list of what I learned in the last few weeks.

1. I may learn more about humanity, spirituality, kindness, the human condition and what it means to be part of the “sea of humanity” when I visit the Dollar General than anywhere else. I have seen, heard, and witnessed some amazing things in this little place. And I  have written about some of it here.  I am very likely to write more about it in another post. It is where I am getting some of my best “writing inspiration” as well as where I meet some really neat people.

2. Sometimes you can touch a soul by “paying it forwards” or “sideways”.  After lunch after church last week, as we were checking out of another little store in our little town, we noticed an elderly woman had forgotten her money and was unable to complete her purchase of an allergy medication. She left the store without her medicine so  we picked up the tab in an effort to help. My daughter ran out to the parking lot, gave her the package and told her we understood as we have allergy sufferers in our family. That one small moment reminds me to pay attention, to be available in the small things, and some of life’s sweetest lessons for our children are taught in the classroom of the real world. True that? And that her gratitude and reaction will never be forgotten by one teenage girl.

3. Sometimes you cannot fathom in your wildest dreams (well that is a bit of an exaggeration but hey, I am going with it) that you would get a song stuck in your head repeatedly. Well now said song has a new version which is on you tube which now allows you to have the song stuck in your head 23/7 and the cool video version from the Florida State Accabells. See what you think. And tell me how many times you want to watch it. Be honest…

4. True Confessions….this little girl has stolen my heart. I love the look of the little boy beside her who doesn’t get a word in edge-wise, not one, because she totally steals the show. I learned that there are some advertisements that just totally knock it out of the park and I might stay in the room, and turn up the volume and  enjoy the ad more than some slash most television shows.

5. I have just finished a 12 week writing workshop over at Tweetspeak PoetryIn the
“The Writing Life” my expectations were surpassed ya’ll. In every way. And I met some of the most amazingly talented writers. Trust was developed, friendships made, and a writing group was formed, consisting of women spread out all over the country. From coast to coast, literally. On those days when I want to throw the internet under the bus, an opportunity comes along to provide me with a virtual classroom and the internet is redeemed. I am once again amazed at the ability it has to make my world better and smaller. On a good day. As in the last 12 weeks. I am a believer. For now. I am also apt to change my mind. Ya’ll if you have an opportunity to join a workshop at Tweetspeak, go there, do that, and then come back and tell me how over the moon you found it to be.

6. Have you ever heard a word cuter than peabiddie. Yeah, me either. My good friend Shelly Miller, who blogs at Redemption’s Beauty sent me a message last week in which she recommended a read a book by Flannery O’Connor entitled “Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose”.  Shelly,  who lives a hop skip and a jump from me, knows my love of “Southern voice”. She may not have known that I have a mild obsession with peacocks, which paired with my obsession with words is a match made in heaven when you stumble back on the word “peabiddie.” Ya’ll it is too precious. I learned when a friend, especially a writer friend suggests you get your hands on a book, get you hands on that book. And discover how well you are known.

7. The night that you want to skip your new “bible study” which isn’t a bible study but rather a couples group which is studying a book on simplicity is always the night you were meant to be there. So I learned again that your internal desire not to so something will align in direct proportion with the ways you will be touched and impacted and changed.

8. Many slash most experts recommend blog posts not exceed 500 words. That means I may have just lost many of my readers back up there on an earlier number and so I should wrap things up here.

9. I need the “bible study” I am taking on simplicity.

10. And I am reminded again of my love of poetry which may help my prose in terms of brevity and word economies. Just saying.

11. People never really grow tired of being thanked properly.So…. Thank you for being here. You have a hundred and one things you could choose to do with you time. Thank you for choosing to be here.

12. If your husband invites you to go for a walk in the mountains, down a road that you’ve never been down because you are guests of friends at their mountain home which you have never been to, GO. When he says he wants to show you the rabbits he found on this road, he meant it. He means it. And you will have the beautiful opportunity to feed a rabbit the carrots you brought on the “rabbit” walk.

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Some Things I Learned In September

For several months I have been joining Emily over at Chatting At The Sky for her month’s end review. We look back, a big group of other writer/bloggers, Emily  and yours truly on some lessons, information or even observations we can claim as “new” in the last month.

This is fun, surprising and often very random. Here goes. Um, okay, what have I learned in the past month that I would like to “process” with you. It’s both my way of sharing and processing stuff my brain has stored and registered as intriguing, odd or well, random.

Thing one:

 1. It is hard to mess with a classic. I was perusing Pinterest the other day and nothing stands out more than an exquisite black and white photograph from the 1960’s of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.  In a sea of sameness, extreme oddness and wildly fashionable on trend photos, there she is. Well that is also how I see mascara. Odd segway I know but bear with me. If you have ever met me “in real life or IRL” as bloggers like to say, I wear a lot of mascara. And I have tried dozens of brands over the years. It is just really hard to beat the pink and green one. You know which one. The classic, iconic, pink and green “old school” one. So here I am back with the classic. It is kind of like macaroni and cheese. It is hard to beat a good staple, a classic. It is also hard to re-invent the wheel or beauty or the best way to get really black long lashes.

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Leave me a comment in the comment section if you have a mascara you like better than the “pink and green” one. (photo credit Jackie Kennedy Onassis: Wikipedia.org)

Thing two:

2. Two people can watch the same man for hours on television and have a serious debate over whether the man’s bald head contains a tattoo of hair or real hair braided into a pattern. I swear to goodness unless I google it or write a fan letter to Parade Magazine or The National Enquirer I may never learn the answer. Heck, its going to remain a mystery. Just in case you were wondering, I was the one who thought it was a tattoo. And yes this particular bald head is on “The Voice” on Monday nights. And I can’t keep up with what other nights it comes on, Are you ready for thing three. I thought so.

Thing three:

3. Never underestimate the power of observing things astutely. I am learning this lesson well. I feel it is branding itself into my soul. It is my joy to be approaching Week Five of a twelve week workshop I am participating in through Tweetspeak Poetry. This week we have been writing about and discussing the art of noticing. I am challenging myself to take it a step further as I try to hone my writing skills, particularly my poetry. So beginning October 1 I am joining The Nester for her 31 Days Of Series. I participated last year. You may remember. This year I am designing  a writing journey entitled 31 Days of Noticing. Oh I hope you will come too. I may notice if you lag behind. Please join me for some or all of this trip into the world of fine-tuning our awareness of the fine points of all that God-beauty that surrounds us. I am excited. (Did you notice I didn’t center the “button” for the series. Just a gentle switch up to see if you are alert and preparing yourself.

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Thing Four

4. Sweet and savory things combine forces to make the most delicious salads. Have I included a recipe every month I have participated in this link up at Emily’s. Okay here we go. This one is fabulous. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A bed of arugula,  topped with watermelon pieces, crumbled  goat cheese,  fresh jalapenos, sea salt, pepper, heirloom cherry tomatoes with a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar. You will thank me.

Thing Five

5. I am a big repurposer. I don’t think that is a word but I am going with it. Recently I have found myself back in my car A LOT. If there was a double bold key, that would have gotten double bolded. I don’t think that is proper English either. Anyway, my car is now my thinking studio. And it is becoming my observation on the sky capsule. It is like a planetarium on wheels. You will see clouds and sunsets show up a lot in poetry this fall.  And it is where I study the crazy lyrics of songwriters and seek inspiration for my own songwriting. If you would like to review lists from the previous months, I have mentioned my dream of writing songs several times. Okay. I think if I come up with one phrase and repeat it three hundred times I will have a hit on my hands. Example, “you know you want it” and  “we’re up all night…..blah blah blah”.  Really?

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6. I don’t think I ever learned how to conjugate stink, stank, stunk. Just saying. My husband brought home some beautiful flowers the other night. Yes, it was our anniversary. And yes, he does bring flowers home for non-occasions too.!!Ya’ll are just like me. You want to know all the details. (See, we’ll have fun during The Nester’s 31 Day series in October)He opened the plastic sleeve, presented them to me and placed them in a vase. And man did they stink. I mean they really stunk. The whole house was stunk up. It turns out there was something in the soil or in the root system, some chemical reaction which caused the stench. But after they sat in water for awhile, thankfully it slowly faded. I am only telling you in case your husband brings you flowers and they stink. You will thank me. Oh and make sure you thank him and ignore the odor.

7. October is going to be loaded. Like a little too loaded. I am a woman of wide margins, usually, normally typically. It is going to be a wild ride for this chic. I am learning to step out of my comfort zone. You might hear about it at the end of October when I post “Somethings I Learned in October.” That is if you are still around. The best way I know to describe October is when you go through the salad bar and put everything you like on one plate and it all runs together and looks a heck of a lot less appetizing than it would have separately. And it becomes a conglomeration. An amalgamation. And a blur of goodness. Well…..

And if you know how to conjugate stink stank stunk, leave it in the comment section.

A Few Things I Learned In July

Now this is really fun to write. I do hope it is fun to read. You have been warned that extreme randomness fills the lines of this post. I do  love joining Emily P. Freeman over at Chatting At The Sky, her beautiful blog home. I especially enjoy the series “What I Learned…..”. You may want to visit the others who have linked up  at Emily’s with what they learned this month. Some things are serious and educational, others are humorous and reveal a little  of life’s craziness and/or the writer’s personal nuances. You may even learn something new about this writer.

I will say, I may take creative license and include some things I have learned NOT in July but in general and about which I  feel  utterly compelled to share. You can try to figure out which item falls into that category. You may want to get out now. You have been warned. 🙂

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1. I learned not to judge a writer by her writing. Well by that I mean this. I had a lovely meet up with two bloggers this week. Up until this point I only knew them by their blogs and social media. Amazingly they have two legs and two arms each and in this case they are both funny as all get out. I almost said something else but I didn’t. Self editing helps. I met Kendal Privette and Amy L. Sullivan for coffee at the quintessential coffee house, The Dripolator. These two women are the realest deal and both have hearts spun from pure gold. They drove out of their way to meet me. I am grateful. Thank you Kendal for the poetry book. I cherish it.

2. If you are leaving church,  pulling out into traffic from said church’s parking lot OR if you have a sign of the fish on your car, be nice. I am just saying. That may raise the bar on your driving etiquette but people, this is the time to raise the bar on yourself.  It is a good time to defer, slow down, pay it forward and just kill  ’em with kindness. There will be plenty of sweet tea at the after church buffet when you get there.

3. Editing is hard work. Well, proof-reading is hard work. My father and I are editing my mother’s book (twenty chapters long). Let’s just say it is not as easy as it looks. The next time you read a book and you find a typo, try not to be all, “Wow how did this book ever get printed and distributed, I mean with typos and stuff.”  We are proof-reading behind several people, at least one of which was paid to find the errors. To forgive is divine.  And I am convinced the eye reads what it thinks should be there,  we  often miss our own typos even after proof-reading five times or so. And thanks for grace here. I have had my few…..hundred myself.

4. One of the best places to dine out of doors is in my summertime back yard. Run don’t walk to The Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Well don’t run, just call and make  a reservation if you are anywhere near Western North Carolina. And don’t quote me. I just happen to have had a wonderful experience there. Who knows, maybe you will too. The sunset over the valley and the Asheville skyline are beautimous.

5. Walking through life with an aging  mother is filled with intrigue and wonder. I learned this in July and I am learning it in August and hopefully will continue to learn from it for the rest of my life. I will definately be writing more about that and Dementia here.

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6. I am obsessed with Instagram and with taking pictures of food, seeing it increasingly as  art. Instagram is like an art gallery of the lives and art of folks I seem to be following– mostly family, friends, bloggers and magazines whose work I love. I am there at @graceappears on Instagram. It seems like a quiet place to be in  a very loud world. And yes, I realize that I contribute to the noise. Should I be following you.

7. Poets are some of the funniest people I know. At least the folks at Tweetspeak Poetry are. I recently participated in their “Take A Poet To Work Day.” Man that really caught on, like all around the globe. We started with flat puppets like flat Stanley. Whoever that is. And the rest is too hard to explain so I recommend you head over there and read the recap. It was a day of wit and whimsy and child’s play. Which takes me to my next point.

8. I am enjoying this summer almost more than I did when I was a child. And I am learning to play again. Though I am not quite there, I am making progress with becoming reacquainted with channeling the inner child. (see Instagram for examples of summer fun.)

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9. When I make a salad, I am at my easel with paints and brushes and a blank canvas. One of my new favorite “paintings” is a peach salad. Here is the recipe. Fresh greens (I used red leaf which is not always a favorite but it was perfect here.) Fresh Peaches ( I like the peel on) sliced thinly and then cut bigger than bite size. I know I am weird that way. Blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbes. And candied walnut pieces.(I found them in the produce section. And then a vinegar and oil dressing. I added rotisserie chicken. Yummers. A meal.

10. I am thinking of and dreaming of two things. (Well more than that but…..you know what I mean.)  I am going to begin to look for a publisher for a poetry book and I am dreaming of collaborating with another writer or musician on some song lyrics. Let me know if you know anything about either of these so that I don’t spin around in circles endlessly dreaming and scheming. Who knows, maybe by August’s list of “A Few Things I Learned in August” I will be able to report what I now know about dreaming of writing and publishing a poetry book.
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11. I am amazed at the quality of my camera phone. #oldschool not an #iphone.  And I am still using and totally  obsessed with Pikmoney. (pikmonkey dot com) I don’t always photo edit, but when I do it is with Pikmonkey. Instagram has it’s own fun filters. But you already knew that.

See you in August. Wait. No. I hope I will see you around here before then. Poetry is popping up all over and almost daily. Sort of like the mushrooms. It is like the summer of mushrooms with all the rain, they are taking over. I digress.