If they can do it, so can we. Inspired by people we meet on the journey.

Inspired by people we meet on the journey. If they can do it, so can we.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly we are not the same afterwards. Life of Pi

Yesterday I went to The Writers Group after being away for a few months, our fearless leader is ill but the meeting was handled well. I had the good fortune of sitting beside a published author who attended the meeting for the first time. We had some time to talk so I asked about his publishing process. He’s published on Kobo and if anyone wants to check out Paul Stegweit’s books you can find a link to purchase them through his website paulstegweit.com.

One of the things that struck me when I went to Paul Stegweit’s website is his covers. His granddaughter produces his latest covers and even though we know we can’t judge a book by its cover we are drawn first to the cover.

It is great meeting people who are ahead of us on the journey. The editing stage is taking me forever, partly because I don’t want to pay someone until I think I’ve made it as good as I can.

Paul Stegweit uses Grammarly for editing and so do I, although I’m still using the free version. Yesterday, I found a new editing tool I’m trying out. I have a free fourteen-day trial of ProWritingAidPremium. It looks amazing. I was able to print out a report showing sentence length, something called sticky sentences (sticky sentences contain too many common words, they slow the reader down). One of the comments I’ve gotten from readers is they found it slow getting into my novel. I have 961 sticky sentences the goal is zero. I need to pick up the pace of my novel by looking at verb tenses. There are many other reports generated and I printed it out so I could compare where I am after editing compared to where I started. On my spelling, I got 97 out of 100.

I find it’s hard to edit when I look at the pages I’ve written. If a word is misspelled that is easy to correct but little inconsistencies in our writing are one of the hardest things to catch. This program helps with this. They even have a report you can run on your manuscript for that.

At the end of this edit, a human editor is still advised. After all, it is not computers that will read our work, but when we give an editor something better to work with they can help elevate our novel to a higher level instead of finding the mistakes we should have found ourselves.

How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way. Robert Louis Stevenson

The journey of becoming a writer is a long one; at least it is for me. Writing fits in the periphery of my life, perhaps that is why I enjoy it so much. Writing doesn’t have to pay the bills. No one tells me what to write about, or what not to write about, or how often I need to write.

I hope my writing is an interest that carries me into my later years with passion and purpose. It is in speaking to writers whose journey is for the love of doing not just money that makes me believe it is possible.

It is the journey, not the destination that is important. It isn’t just about publishing a novel, but it is also about that. We can spend time fixing, and tweaking, because we don’t want to put our work into the world. It is time to put in the work to make it as good as I can and then release it. Then write something else. Paul Stegweit has ten books on his website, he started writing after he retired. That is a big accomplishment.

One of the questions we need to ask ourselves is what do we want to do when we retire? What will a great retirement look like? Is there something we can do in retirement we never had time for that brings passion and purpose into our lives?

And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. Randy Komisar

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

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Notebook and Pen

The Writing of Paul Stegweit

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What would it be like to have a baby born on Mars?

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Otis Cage is a highly respected Private Investigator. He is however, a no nonsense private eye that on occasion will use illegal justice if necessary. This attitude no doubt stems from his years spent in today’s Okinawa’s US Marine Jungle Warfare training facility.

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paulstegweit@gmail.com

Self-expression and feeding our soul. Connecting with others, and getting ready to put our work out into the world.

Connecting with others, and getting ready to put our work out in to the world. Self-expression and feeding our soul.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance. Robert Holden

Yesterday I didn’t get a post out. I got up late and my daughter seemed to want to talk. We live in the same house but there doesn’t seem to be much time to sit together and talk. She didn’t want to talk about anything, in particular, we just sat with coffees and discussed anything and everything. It was a lovely way to spend a morning.

We need to give the gift of time to people, to spend time with them not when there is an important problem to discuss, but when there is an opportune moment.

My son spent some time in the den with me in the afternoon and we again didn’t discuss anything important. He helped me download a free book from a writer offering help on creating hooks for our books. The price of admission was my email address. I spent the evening reading the eBook and he had helpful and useful information in it. He’s an “Indie” author and quite a successful one named Adam Cross.

I thought the ebook was saved to my desktop but the file is empty. I read it and made some notes, I’ll talk to my son about it today.

Last night I got a call from “the kid up the road” we are facebook friends and even though the news he called about wasn’t good we had a lovely chat. He told me to make sure he gets a copy of my novel.

This is what I wanted when I started the blog and went on facebook, to create an audience. It’s up to me to deliver on my promise of a book. My next step is a professional editor. A cousin is reading my novel now and promises feedback. Another cousin hasn’t given me any feedback yet, and I may have to prod her. Maybe she hates it and doesn’t know how to tell me. Maybe she has a life and reading my book hasn’t fit into it yet.

When you’ve spent your whole life listening to others, it takes courage to pay attention to the sound of your own voice. Unknown

My question is, is it good enough to pay for editing or do I have way more work to do before it gets to that point? I keep having conflicts with my Writers Group and Toastmasters but this time my Writers Group is going to win. I’m getting up the nerve to ask the head of my writer’s group if she will read my novel and give me feedback. The worst she could say is she doesn’t have time. Why have I waited so long to ask her?

The easiest thing in the world is to second guess ourselves. Everyone tells us, just do it, we’ll regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.

In one of my facebook groups, someone posted a picture of a hand with a fork on the lifeline they call a writer’s fork. I think I have it although it looks more like an X at the end of the lifeline. We look for any sign that we are on the right path. This is probably really bad if we are on a bad path. The thunder told me I must do this thing… could be very, very, bad. There’s a story idea!

Whatever it is we want to do, feel we must do, and are compelled to do unless it is illegal or immoral we should get on with it  One of the reasons I started posting pictures of my paintings is to get over my fear of not being good enough. Public speaking is a way to get over that same fear. Expressing ourselves isn’t about being perfect or profound, but about doing. We don’t know what is in us until we express it and that may be in words, pictures, carvings, plantings, singing, dancing, playing an instrument, sewing, beadwork, building something, or cooking.

Self-expression is a way to say things we don’t know how to say, and that is why some of the most powerful forms of self-expression are not verbal. It is why if words are our way of self-expressing we may choose fiction because it is in fiction we can tell the truth of life how we see it. Fiction is the lie that tells a truth. In fiction, we choose what to leave out and what to put in. We do the same when we say we are writing about events that happened. Is it possible to tell the truth about past events, or current events? We can tell a viewpoint, but that isn’t necessarily the truth.

Are we finding ways to express ourselves? Are we doing things that feed our souls?

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still. Chinese proverb

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

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Lie That Tells a Truth Paperback – Aug 10 2004

by John Dufresne (Author) 4.4 out of 5 stars 6 ratings


 See all 9 formats and editions

Telling our stories. We need to hear other people’s stories. Don’t we all love a story?

Don't we all love a story? Telling our stories. We need to hear other people's stories.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Story as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution – more so than our opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to. Lisa Cron

Last night I pulled out a sketchbook that I had written a story about our beloved dog in. I’m going to read it at my Writer’s Group today and see if it can be included in a Children’s anthology put out by The Writer’s Group.

When we write our stories, even if only for ourselves is it worth it? Sometimes we express things in stories we don’t know how else to express. If these thoughts and emotions never get expressed they can lead to problems in our lives. All creative projects may be this way; we can express things that are left unexpressed any other way.

Everyone has a story, every story is different, and every life is different.  We have been telling stories through the ages. Sometimes it seems we are only consumers of other people’s stories in song, film, TV. We leave out our own stories at our peril. Families need to know our stories, so we can understand and appreciate each other more. So we can pass on knowledge so hard won.

When we give voice to what is inside of us, it is good for us, it is good for our families and wider communities.

This is my children’s story about our dog.

There Was a Dog Named Krypto

                                                                                    By Belynda Wilson Thomas @

“Can we get a puppy?” three-year-old Alanna asked her mother.

“When you are older,” her mother replied.

“Am I old enough this year?” four-year-old Alanna asked.

“Not yet,” her mother replied.

“When will I be old enough so we can get a puppy?” Alanna asked Mommy and Daddy.

“Six years old,” they said.

Before her sixth birthday Mommy and Daddy said, “Let’s go look at a puppy.”

Alanna, Aaron, Mommy, and Daddy got in the car. They drove and they drove, and they drove, and they drove.

Alanna didn’t say, “Are we there yet?”

Aaron didn’t say, “Are we there yet?”

Daddy said, “Aren’t we there, yet?”

Mommy called the breeder, “Oh, you’re almost here.”

So they drove and drove.

Finally, Daddy said, “We get the puppy, or we don’t get the puppy, but we are not coming back.”

It was dark by the time they pulled into the yard. A lady and three black puppies were walking on the lawn.

The fattest one walked up to Mommy. He had a big head and little short legs, a wagedy tail, two little sharp ears, and round black eyes.

They held each one of the puppies, but they held the biggest, fattest one the longest.

“His name is bear,” the breeder said. “He’s the pick of the litter.”

Mommy looked at Daddy. Daddy looked at Mommy.

Aaron and Alanna held their breath.

Mommy and Daddy nodded and said, “We’ll take him.”

Mommy held Bear all the way home, he didn’t make a sound, but when he was put in a box by himself, he cried.

The next day Daddy said, “His name should be Krypto.”

Mommy said, “His name should be Angus.”

Aaron said, “His name should be King.

Alanna said, “His name should be Scottie.”

One day they were all sitting in the den with Krypto at their feet when they saw he’d chewed a hole in the carpet.

“Bad boy,” Mommy said.

“Bad boy,” Daddy said.

“Bad boy,” Aaron said.

“Bad boy,” Alanna said.

Krypto hung his little head as if he knew he’d been naughty.

When the neighbors came over to see the new puppy, Aaron said. “He’s really cute now, but he grows up to be ugly.

He grew up to be handsome with his pointy ears, his beard, and his shaggy eyebrows over his little round black eyes.

He cocked his head with one ear up and one ear down looking like he understood every word that was said.

One day Aaron hugged Krypto, and said, “No one understands me but you Krypto.

When Mommy tucked Aaron and Alanna into bed after story time and gave them each a kiss, sometimes she would see Krypto snuggled in under the covers. He knew he wasn’t supposed to be there so he was quiet as a mouse.

Alanna got hit by a car while riding her bike. When Mommy and Daddy went running out to see if she was okay so did Krypto. When he saw she was okay, he kept running all the way to the park.

Every Halloween Krypto would go out with Mommy, Aaron, and Alanna until Aaron and Alanna were too old for Halloween.

Alanna and Aaron grew big and strong. They finished grade school, they finished middle school, and they finished high school.

Krypto was always at the door to meet them when they got home.

Krypto could hardly walk, hardly see, and his hearing wasn’t very good. But, he would still sit with one ear cocked looking like he understood everything that was being said.

Daddy started thinking it’s time to say goodbye.

Aaron started thinking it’s time to say goodbye.

Alanna started thinking it’s time to say goodbye.

Mommy started thinking it’s time to say goodbye.

Until one day they all agreed Krypto looked like it was time to say goodbye.

The vet was as nice as she could be. “I’m glad we can offer this service, so they don’t have to suffer,” she said.

“Krypto we love you,” Daddy said.

Krypto we love you,” Aaron said.

Krypto we love you,” Alanna said.

Krypto we love you,” Mommy said.

Krypto looked at them with his round black eyes. Then he closed them for the last time.

We miss you, Krypto.

After nourishment, shelter, and companionship stories are the thing we need most in the world. Philip Pullman

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy and love.

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A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans Paperback – Dec 6 2016

by W. Bruce Cameron (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviewsBook 1 of 3 in the A Dog’s Purpose Series


 See all 26 formats and editions


Do we tell a redemptive or a negative story? Will our story make us better or bitter?

Will our story make us better or bitter? Do we tell a redemptive or a negative story?

When we focus on gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in. Kristin Armstrong.

We create our own narrative, history, and story we tell our self and others. How we tell it can shape our lives to have more meaning and purpose.

We choose what we include in our story, mostly the highest highs, and lowest lows. We may include something in our story that someone else would leave out because it has no significance to them. It may be a positive thing in our story but would be negative to someone else, or it may have helped us grow and created the wound that will not heal in someone else.

A Northwestern University psychologist Dan McAdams is an expert on what he calls “narrative identity. This is the internalized story we create for ourselves. It is our own personal myth. When we want people to understand us we share parts of our story, when we want to understand other people we ask them about parts of their story.

McAdams asks research subjects to divide their lives into chapters and to recount a high point, low point, and turning point. He also encourages participants to examine their values and beliefs. Lastly, he asks them to determine the central theme of their story and to interpret their story’s central theme. It is the interpretation of, not the actual events that are important.

He has discovered how we interpret our lives and our experiences have a huge impact on our lives. The people who are driven to contribute to society and future generations in big ways are more likely to tell redemptive stories about their lives. They see the good in the hard times they went through. People who tell redemptive stories rate their lives as being more meaningful than those who don’t tell or tell fewer redemptive stories.

A psychotherapist’s job is to help people tell their story in a more positive way. It isn’t only what happens to us, but how we interpret what happens to us that shapes our life. We can’t control the events that shape our lives; they are usually outside of ourselves. Where we grew up, the economy, the culture, and opportunities shaped our lives.

Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf. If you do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished. To be grateful is to find blessings in everything. This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything. Alan Cohen

What is in our control is how we react to what happens in our life. Why do we call the people who grew up in the depression and fought in the second World War the “greatest generation”? They lived through momentous change, they had an incredible work ethic, they were frugal, and they understood sacrifice and honor.

Living through any time in history everyone has to make sense of their own story. No matter when and how we grow up we have to make sense of the circumstances that shape our lives. If we look through the lenses of redemption or contamination we change our reaction to our story. When we can realize we can glean some meaning from the hardships in our life we start to appreciate our life and our lessons. These lessons we might not have been able to learn any other way.

Finding meaning in the hard parts of our life doesn’t mean we wouldn’t change things if we could, but we can’t, all we can do is grow through adversity and pain. We don’t need to be grateful for the horrible things that happen to be grateful for the lessons learned. It is the hardest experiences that teach us the most powerful and transformative lessons.

As I write this I am thinking of someone whose daughter died too soon, with a young baby and a new husband. Her mother has written a book about getting through her and her husband’s hardest days.

Are we better, or bitter because of our story?

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

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Mourning Has Broken: Love, Loss and Reclaiming Joy Hardcover – Feb 26 2019


 

Telling your story. It’s in you to tell, people need to hear it, and you need to tell it.

Telling your story. You need to tell it and people need to hear it.

The truth is, we all face hardships of some kind, and you never know the struggles a person is going through. Behind every smile, there’s a story of a personal struggle. Adrienne C. Moore

Life is what we make it. Last night as I got in my truck after going to the gym I heard the radio personality say, “The doctor told me I had cancer yesterday.” It turns out he was reading from his writings on having cancer.”

He was angry when he learned he had cancer, but he realized quickly what would all that anger do? His challenge was to eliminate anger and negativity, that was five years ago. Today he has a clean bill of health.

I’m looking at an article written by Bonnie Annis Finding Gratitude and Other Lessons Learned from Cancer. She says cancer teaches lessons we never dreamed we needed to learn.

Gratitude seems to be one of the big lessons that survivors learn. They learn to be grateful it wasn’t worse. It’s a lesson we can all learn, whatever if we survive it, could have been worse.

Bonnie Annis says she learned she had a choice about how to live each day. She could choose gratitude and joy or she could choose anger and bitterness. She could go forward or she could give up. It is the hardest, most challenging and difficult thing she experienced in her life.

She says with all its ugliness there are lessons to learn, lessons we might learn no other way.

I am grateful for the willingness of people to bare their soul when they go through the worst life has to offer them. They learn lessons and in telling their story we learn lessons.

Nobody is a villain in their own story. We’re all the heroes of our own stories. George R.R. Martin

Everyone has a story, everyone has learned lessons. The more we talk, write and listen to other peoples stories the more we learn. We are told that telling our story has a physical effect on our body, toxic stress hormones are turned off, our body’s repair mechanisms are turned on.

My husband says to me sometimes. What do you find to talk about? He means when I attend the book club, the book takes up fifteen minutes and we talk until the coffee shop or restaurant closes. We are telling each other our stories. We are making sense of the hand we’ve been dealt, the choices we have. In good times and bad we support each other. We can celebrate achievements, and talk about what has brought us to our knees.

Not everyone who has joined our group is comfortable with it. That is okay, I do think everyone would be better off telling their story, but it’s a personal decision. When we listen to other peoples stories we are tempted to tell our own. Each person must find their own comfort level.

The more we keep bottled up inside the harder it can be to learn the lessons and heal. We may not always be comfortable hearing someone’s story, the anger, vitriol, and condemnation springing forth may feel like blame, condemnation, and judgment. If we can listen, they can get it out and maybe they’ll be able to process it and move onto a better place.

We’ve hurt people in our lives we didn’t mean to hurt. We’ve been hurt in our lives by people who didn’t mean to hurt us. When people can tell their story without judgment, they can heal. If we can tell our story without judgment we can heal.

The stories in our families where we are hurt the most, where we are judged the most maybe some of the most important and hardest stories to tell. We can’t believe what we hear, but if we will hear it, healing can begin.

The stories we tell about ourselves are the key to our wellbeing. Joseph Campbell tells us, “Where you stumble is where your treasure lies.”

We all have a story to tell. Are you telling yours?

You don’t just have a story – you’re a story in the making, and you never know what the next chapter’s going to be. That’s what makes it exciting. Dan Millman

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The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss Paperback – May 26 2017

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Resurrecting Proust: Unearthing Personal Narratives through Journaling: Unearthing Personal Narratives through Journaling by [Harris, CoCo]
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