Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Today is the Small Kindnesses Blogsplash

Last week I blogged about the upcoming Small Kindesses Blogsplash which has been organized by Fiona Robyn who is an author, founding partner of Writing Our Way Home, and an all-around sweet person. When she was spreading the word of the event, she wrote these words: Kindness is a very good thing. Even teensy compassionate acts help the world go round. Let's celebrate these Small Kindnesses.

My novel 'Small Kindnesses' will be free on Tuesday the 27th, and we'll be writing about our own small kindness on our blogs or elsewhere - will you join us? Find out more here: http://www.writingourwayhome.com/2012/11/what-small-kindness-do-you-remember.html
It might be an extra-thoughtful Christmas present you've never forgotten, or the unexpected kindness of a stranger, or a small gesture that rescued you from a dark place. It might have happened this week or twenty years ago.

It might be a simple list of the small kindnesses you've received this week, or today. It might be a small kindness you've been inspired to perform. Follow your inspiration...

Well, there are many kind things that people have done for me through the years, and I try to do the same for others. To give you an example of how a small kindness can stay with you for a long time, I have decided to tell you about something that happened to me a very long time ago...back in my childhood. Oh, yes....THAT long ago. I must have been about 5 years old, six at the most. My mother had taken me to Rosenberry's (a grocery store that existed in my town at the time). My family consisted of my parents, myself, my sister, and my three brothers, so when mom went shopping, it took some time. As it is with children at this age, I became bored. I told her I was going to go to the horsey.

Photograph by Martine Wagner/Courtesy of PhotoXpress
 The horsey was situated near the check-out line (you know, one of those kiddy things where you put a coin in and ride it). It was a shiny brown horse and a big horse at that. I could barely get up on it myself. After a few tries I finally managed to get myself in the saddle. Since I had no coins (I think it only cost one quarter or maybe just a dime at that time...yeah, I am dating myself with that comment) I just sat on it and pretended it was moving. I rode that horse through fields of wildflowers, through small streams, down dirt trails through the woods, and back again.
An old man came along with his grocery items. He didn't have much. He put the few items on the belt at the checkout next to me, got out his wallet, and then turned to me. I don't remember his face exactly but do recall he had many wrinkles on his face, white-grey hair, and he looked kind of sad. More than that, I can't recall. Hey, it was almost 40 years ago. But what I do remember is that he asked if I'd even ridden the pony. I replied "once and it was fun". He asked if I would like to ride it again. Of course, I said yes. He then gave me a coin in my hand and another he put in the coin slot. Soon the horse began to move and I trotted and galloped through more fields and through more streams and down dirt trails. And I smiled and giggled and waved at the man as he left. Now he didn't look so sad. He was smiling.
I am not sure how long those rides last now, but back then they were long. Or at least it seemed that way. Perhaps it was just the perception of a young mind that made it so long. But after that long ride I took the extra coin and put it in the slot, just like the old man did, and I held on tight as the ride began. I was riding that beautiful brown horse when my mother arrived. She was quite surprised. I told her about the man. At first she wasn't too happy that I talked to a stranger, but after she realized it was such a brief encounter (he hadn't asked my name or done anything that could be perceived as "iffy" behavior) she seemed more worried about if I said thank you or not. I am sure I told her I did. And I am sure I probably didn't. I was too absorbed in sheer delight of riding. Yet, I think that man knew from my reaction of pure joy that I was thankful. And looking back I realize that he was thankful he could bring a bit of joy to my day. Kindness is like that. Not only does it make the recipient happy, but it brings happiness to the one giving the kindness. And sometimes that kindness, even if it is only the small kindness of  making a battery-operated kiddie ride possible, might be remembered for a lifetime.
So why not go out and do something kind for someone today? And tomorrow. And the next day. To family, a friend, neighbor, or stranger.
Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. ~Henry James
Whether one believes in religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion. ~ Dalai Lama  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Good gobble gobble time

It's that time of year again! That glorious day when one can stuff themselves silly. THANSKGIVING! I came across a cute Thanksgiving cartoon earlier today. To see it, CLICK HERE. (Okay, that says something about my sense of humor, doesn't it.)

Whether eating turkey or tofurkey or something entirely differently, I wish all my friends and family in the United States a wonderful Thanksgiving feast and a great day of togetherness.. We celebrated last year but this year we celebrated St. Martinstag at the beginning of the month. It only seems fair to alternate traditions. I did, however, bake some sweet potatoes last week. They were tasty.

I also took part in a Gratitude Quilt created by Laura over at Shine the Divine: Creativity is a Spiritual Practice. She asked people to tell her what they are thankful for, right there at that moment, and she strung them all together for Thanksgiving. Over 222 people (from every continent except Antarctica) have taken place. To see it, CLICK HERE.

If you are reading this, I am thankful that you stopped by. I'll be double thankful if you leave a comment. Tell me what your menu is today or what you are doing today or what you love or hate Thanksgiving or a special memory of Thanksgiving or your favorite food on this day or what you are thankful for or...well, you get the idea. Tell me whatever you want related to Thanksgiving and then go have a good gobble gobble time.

Monday, November 19, 2012


On Tuesday the 27th of November I'm joining the Small Kindnesses Blogsplash and writing about a special small kindness someone paid me in the past. Would you like to join me?

The Blogsplash is organised by Fiona Robyn to celebrate the release of her novel 'Small Kindnesses' which will be free on Kindle on that day. All you have to do is write something about being kind - a memory of someone who was kind to you, a list of kindnesses over the past week, or something kind you did for someone else. It'll be a celebration of kindness in all its forms, especially those little kind acts that make all the difference.

To find out more visit Fiona's blog (http://www.writingourwayhome.com/2012/11/what-small-kindness-do-you-remember.html), or join the Facebook event (http://www.facebook.com/events/226720897457793).

Do ask your friends to join you, and feel free to copy this blog onto your own to help us spread the word.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Day full of Surprises

Today is a cold, rainy November day in my area of Germany. BLAH! I spent most of the morning and afternoon away from home. Upon returning I had a few surprises.

I hadn't read my email or FB messages yesterday. Also, I hadn't checked the prompt for the November chapbook challenge that I am participating in this month over at Poetic Asides. Each day Robert Lee Brewer (n poet, editor at Writer's Digest, and all-around nice guy) posts a new prompt and you write a poem to it. This year the prompts are being offered by former participants/poets around the world. After November is over, everyone has time to make revisions and submit the best of his/her work as a chapbook. Each year Robert picks a winner and several runners-up. If this sounds like something for you, CLICK HERE to go to the Poetic Asides website. It's not too late to join in on the fun.You'll need to register, but it is free and you'll meet a great bunch of people.

Anyway, I decided to go online. The first thing I did was check email. The first email I opened was an acceptance for one of my poems for an upcoming anthology. Well, how awesome is that! The second I opened was a message from Robert notify me that he used my prompt for today's prompt in the chapbook challenge. That figures. It's the first day I didn't go to read the new prompt right after my morning coffee. I had no idea. But after some time I decided to go there anyhow. And (cringe) I found a typo. And it wasn't Robert's fault. It was mine.That wasn't a good surprise. I had debated on which word to use part of the sentence and left an XXXXX. I had intended to go back and fill that in with a word, but somehow is the hustle and bustle of the day I must have forgotten before pushing the send button. DUH! So if you are also participating and were thinking "what the heck does XXXXX mean?" it means that Linda's brain is slowly beginning to fizzle :-)

Then I read my Facebook messages and quickyl scanned the many posts I've missed the past 48 hours. I am taking part in a poetry contest from Painted Bride Quarterly called Sidecar 15. The winner is determined by the number of Facebook "likes". I never really liked that method for contests. Call me crazy but I actually prefer when an editor is the judge. That is not to say that I don't think other people can make good decisions on what is well-written. I think most of the people voting are writers, so they have a clue. But I prefer being judged by someone who does it on a regular basis and not peers. I, as a peer, hate judging. I feel bad if I don't "like" someone's work because as a writer myself I know that each little poem (or whatever it is you are writing) is like your very own baby, all grown up, being set out into the world. A cruel world at times. Though I've been published, I've had my share of rejections. Some I take with a grain of salt, but others sting. To me not pushing the "like" button is like a rejection, and I'd hate to be giving that sting to someone else. In fact, I "liked" several of the other "competitors" poems because I honestly liked them. However, I know other poets (not going to name names) who would never do that, because they want to win. Badly. Doesn't everyone who enters a contest want to win? But that's not my style. If work is good, I acknowledge that. In fact, there was one poem  I really liked which didn't have many votes. I "liked" it and left a comment for the author. Would she do better if judged by an editor? Who knows? Maybe. Maybe not. These things are always subjective. Like I said, I just prefer it that way. Call it personal preference and nothing else. But the judging is by "likes" and so it goes. I don't make the rules. I just need to follow them. That said, I am doing well anyway. Most of the votes are from women which isn't very surprising because the character in the poem is a woman. It deals with a problem we all face sooner or later. Aging. I had been in second place standing for a few days and in checking out the event page I saw that I am currently in the lead. I am not getting my hopes high though. One man (a FB friend of mine) has written a wonderful "found poem" using several political texts. It must have been time consuming to write, and it turned out well. There are others with good work as well. I am not sure when voting ends. I didn't notice that in the rules anyway. Maybe I overlooked it. I guess that will be another surprise.    

Another nice surprise is that when my husband called his parents, he learned that the package we sent arrived. We'd sent one earlier which they never received, went out and purchased the same items again, and sent the package insured. It costs me and arm and a leg which is not good if one is a writer (yeah, I know, that's a really, really bad joke) but this isn't the first time a package has been "lost". Christmas presents never arrived last year either. These were the first instances in almost 12 years of overseas shipments that we ever had a problem but it certainly is frustrating when one take the time to fine "the perfect gift" for everyone and then they are lost, not only due to the cost but also since some of the items can no longer be replaced. So I was very thankful it arrived.

All these surprises have made a gloomy rainy Saturday seem so much nicer. In fact, my teenager daughter has been in a good mood all day and right now my husband (who is totally awesome) is in the kitchen making homemade beef stock. Now if only I would win the lottery then I could fly to the states to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I don't get back home much due to the expense. But that's life and I am thankful for all these little things along the way. And tomorrow is Sankt Martinstag in Germany so I do get to enjoy a meal of duck, bread dumplings with mushroom sauce, and red cabbage. What will you be doing tomorrow?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mindful Writing Day 2012

Today is the first Mindful Writing Day. To join in, simply slow down, pay attention to one thing, and write it down. To find out more about this event (including information on how to win a free book), please click here.

The day is almost over and I am thinking about all the things that happened today and which thing to highlight. The day started at the movie theater. Yep. That's right. When this day began I was sitting in the cinema with my husband and daughter watching the preview of the new James Bond movie. There were showings in several rooms beginning at 11 PM, 11:15, and 11:30. We booked the nice cushy seats in the lounge section. They were so comfortable and we could see everything perfectly. My daughter got sweet popcorn. I got the cinnamon popcorn, and my husband got some gummy treats.

It was the first time our daughter saw a James Bond films, and I honestly wasn't sure if she would like it. She did. When we walked out of the movie theater at 2 AM, we were surprised to find it raining. At sunset the sky was a rich pink color, which usually indicates good weather to come. But I guess Mother Nature had other ideas.

When we got home, we weren't tired at all. So we sat and talked about the film, checked email, watched a cooking show on television. Eventually, we all went to bed.

My husband was the first to wake up. He had planned to go bike riding, but it was raining again. He figured he'd let me sleep in a bit. I woke up (very late) to find him in the dining room, drinking coffee and working on his laptop. I woke our daughter and my awesome husband made cheese omelets, bacon, and toast. Then we showered and began our day (what was left of it. It was nearly noon).

In the afternoon the weather turned out to be wonderful. It was warm enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. We went to a friend's house. His son has an important presentation to make in English (we live in Germany so it is not his native language), and we helped him correct sentence structure and grammar and made suggestions. We were rewarded with...(Fiona, if you are reading this, you will love this) CAKE. Specifically, a cheesecake with mandarin oranges and apple muffins. And coffee, of course.

Today is a holiday in Germany and we had asked our daughter yesterday what she'd like to eat today. She said coq au vin. So when we arrived home, we needed to start cooking. My husband chopped onions and garlic then started to skin and flour the chicken while I prepared the mushrooms and shallots. Cooking together certainly cuts the prep time, and it is fun. As the coq au vin cooked, the smell of onions and wine filled the air.

We enjoyed a nice meal together, talked, and had a few laughs as well.

The day wasn't very productive but then again, that is the whole point of a day off from work--to relax and enjoy it. And there is nothing better than spending time with people you care about, eating good food, drinking wine, and just having fun.

It is nearing midnight and looking out our back window I see little other than a distant street light, part of a house, and darkness. But if I listen I can hear rain coming down.


My observations:

Charcoal-like smudges are beneath her eyes and black streaks run down her cheeks. Hiding her face, she curses cheap mascara and movies with sad endings.

It's nearly midnight. I can see nothing but darkness outside, as if someone has pulled a giant black curtain across the sky, but I can hear it--the soft, steady beat of rain hitting the ground.