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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Gratitude, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Last Stop on Market Street – Diversity Reading Challenge 2015

 Today’s Diversity Read/Review falls into categories #1 and #2. The author Matt de la Peña  is half Mexican/half white and the illustrator Christian Robinson is African-American. Title: Last Stop Market Street Written by: Matt de la Peña Illustrated by: Christian Robinson Published by: G. … Continue reading

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2. Happy New Year!

Wishing one and all a Blessed New Year!

May you take the time to...

laugh more often
love more often
take chances more often
offer forgiveness more often
less judgment more often
and live with more gratitude each and every day!

God Bless!

Interested in staying up to date of my writing world and special offers, join 506 parents, teachers, and publishing colleagues and receive two FREE e-Books... "The Story Behind the Book" and "Marketing Tips e-Book"...
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Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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3. Gratitude Sets the Tone for a Positive Day

Last week I chatted about living a life of gratitude and journal writing. I hope you have taken the time out to do such each and every day! The positive benefits on your life are immense!

Today, I'd like to touch a bit on what I'm grateful for...

My husband... Tom - we've been together 29 years and of course we have hit our bumps in the road, but we always manage to circle back around and be there for each other.

My daughters... Nicole and Hayley - my girls fill me with pride and awe every day of their lives. Whether it be their steadfast focus on their individual goals or overcoming adversity in their lives they inspire me daily!

My family... no matter what obstacles have been thrown my way, my family... immediate and extended are always my loudest cheerleaders.

My girlfriends.... My mantra to my daughters is to hold on tight to your girlfriends for they are the ones who will always be there at a drop of a hat in your good and bad times, no questions asked. A great big shout out to (in alpha order)... Cynthia, Dawn, Lynn, Mary, Maureen, Michelle, Theresa and last but not least... of course my twin sister, Debbie!

Crittin' Chicks Critique Group... I big shout out goes to Karin and Marilyn.... without their expert and thorough critiques of my works-in-progress I would not be where I am today! Ladies enjoy the holiday season festivities and see you January 2015 as we recommence our critique sessions!

Wishing you all a daily life of gratitude.

I'll be offline through the new year enjoying the magic of the season and being present in each and every moment.



Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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4. The Antidote to December Stress: Teach Students to Write about Gratitude

This time of year can be overwhelming, for teachers and students alike. Writing about gratitude is one way to stay present and positive.

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5. Live a Life of Gratitude

With all the horrible news coming at us at every angle, it's difficult not to get caught up in a tailspin of negative thoughts. Be kind to yourself and those in your life by taking the opportunity each and every day to latch onto the positives in your life with gratitude.

Daily journal writing can set the tone for a day of gratitude and abundance. Don't think you have anything to write out, think again. Concerned your writing won't flow, don't worry. Your journal writing is for your eyes only.

Start your journal session with at least three positive aspects of your life. Write about what makes each one so wonderful and how you are grateful for each, no matter how small or big. Did you know that every small blessing turns into a chock full day of inspiration and gratitude?

Need direction? (Please note this is not an advertisement or affiliate link... I just wanted to share Tina Games' information with you since I had such a positive experience in her journaling retreat).... 

"When I participated in Tina Games' Journaling by the Moonlight retreat I had an amazing and positive experience. Taking the time out for myself and focusing on my goals and desires set a path for positive attitude and clarification in my life... both professionally and personally. On a daily basis (sometimes twice a day, depending what's going on) I continue to journal and I always walk away feeling refreshed. I encourage you to treat yourself and take the time out to visit Tina's website. See below..." 

Tina Games, Life Purpose Intuitive and Creativity Coach
Author of "Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother's Path to Self-Discovery" and Host of "Life Purpose Legacy" on Contact Talk Radio offers an amazing journal writing retreat and it's worth checking it out. 

Wishing you all the best in positive attitude and gratitude. 

Happy journaling! 


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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6. Comic: Being Thankful


I've decided that the girl's name is Keiko.  Haven't come up with a name for the baby yet, though.

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7. Fruits of your Labors…

Sharing the Good things in Life with my BFF
The upcoming American Thanksgiving paves the way for the holiday season, and because many of my author friends live in the USA, I feel I’m celebrating being thankful right along with them. Thanksgiving (both in Canada and America) not only gives us time to be with family and friends, but to think about what we’re truly grateful for. It’s also a time for us to reflect on the past year, and take stock in what we have reaped and accomplished thus far. As some of you know, I moved from cottage country to the warmer southern climate of Ontario this summer, and have never looked back. So in keeping with the spirit of giving thanks, I’d like to share one of my experiences since moving down here that I’ll always be grateful for…

Living in wine country has its benefits. So when my BFF came down for a visit this past September, it was a no-brainer on where to take her. Setting a course for a couple of wineries, getting lost for about 15 minutes, then finally getting back on track, we made it to the first winery, and we were not disappointed.

To be honest, I’ve never been to a wine tasting. Usually they’re free if you purchase a bottle. We both tried a few—my BFF preferring red, and I going to the light side, our palette’s danced and tonsils rocked to the taste of each wine sampled. My house warming gift consisted of a rather nice chardonnay. Salute!

Next, we asked for directions to the next winery (far be it for us to put our faith in an out-dated GPS). We found it easily, and met up with a whole lot of bikers on their Ride for MS. What a fun group! We met kindred spirits and wine lovers in two participants named Sharon and Mike, and did a selfie with them! Fun times! Of course more wine was sampled and bought before we cashed in our chips and headed back home.

This whole experience has taught me something. It takes a lot of time to grow, nurture, and prepare grapes before the wine making process begins and after the wine is bottled. It’s a huge industry that relies on many people. So how would you compare making wine to writing a book? It comes down to this: some wines take years to be released into the world, while others maybe months. Authors can crank out words like stomping on grapes until they’re satisfied with the tone and flavor. Other authors take their time, allowing their words to ferment for a while, let breathe, until they too are ready to uncork their properties. However you write, and whatever you write, you can be sure of one thing: everyone’s tastes are different, and there’s bound to be an audience just for you.

What or who are you grateful for this time of the season? Your health? Your family? Your job? Red or white? Fiction or non-fiction? For me, it’s our new home, living closer to family, and knowing in my heart that it was time for a change. Oh, yeah, and white, definitely white. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and family! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

And a Good Time was had by All!

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8. A Happy Birthday (and THANK YOU) to my Simon & Schuster Children's editor, Justin Chanda, who helped me find my books

My dedication at the front of my VERY FIRST solo picture book, WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? (comes out from Simon & Schuster Children's in May 2015)

Since Justin Chanda "discovered" me at the 2010 SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles (and after many, many years of rejections), my children's book career has taken off. Every so often I still pause in the middle of whatever I'm doing and think to myself OH MY GOSH I'M ACTUALLY MAKING A LIVING WRITING AND ILLUSTRATING CHILDREN'S BOOKS and hyperventilate a bit but then calm down because I have upcoming deadlines and need to get back to work.

For you, @inkygirl!! (Also for me, because, well, it's @judyblume!)

A photo posted by Jpchanda (@jpchanda) on Jun 6, 2014 at 4:37pm PDT

This past year has been especially crazygood, with my illustrations appearing in JUDY BLUME reissues from Atheneum (JUDY BLUUUUUUUUUME!!!!!!) as well as NAKED!, a second picture book with Michael Ian Black and Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. And then S&S sent me on my very first book tour!


So @michaelianblack and @inkygirl popped by to celebrate #Naked!!

A photo posted by Jpchanda (@jpchanda) on Apr 4, 2014 at 1:24pm PDT

Do you see that wand that Justin is holding in one of the photos above? A while back, I was posting about the Judy Blume illustration project as well as NAKED! coming out in 2014, and someone asked me if I had a fairy godmother. Yes, I told them, and my fairy godmother's name is JUSTIN CHANDA. I presented Justin with a labelled Fairy Godmother wand at the Simon & Schuster Children's meet & greeting with Michael Ian Black and me. This a photo that my husband took, just after I gave Justin the wand and was about to give him a big hug:

Photo: Jeff Ridpath.

Apparently Justin has taken the Wand to several Simon & Schuster Children's meetings since. :-)

And just recently, I got to see the color proofs for WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, which is going to be my very first solo children's book. I think it really didn't hit me that I'm actually going to be a children's book AUTHOR as well as illustrator until I saw those proofs. The book comes out from Simon & Schuster in May 2015, woohoo!

Now that I've been working with Justin for four years, I feel even more lucky. He's a brilliant editor. I'm learning so much from him about the craft and business of making children's books. Justin has the ability to bring out the best in those who work with him, pushing them hard but also trusting their creative instincts.

I'm grateful to SO many people who have encouraged me along the way and could not be where I am now without them. Justin Chanda was the first editor to give me my Big Break, to believe in me enough to offer me that first book contract, and mere words cannot express how much I appreciate what he did and continues to do for my career.

Happy birthday, Justin, and THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME FIND MY BOOKS!

 Also see my Thank You To Justin Chanda and Simon & Schuster Children's.

Me hanging with the incomparable @inkygirl at #la14scbwi

A photo posted by Jpchanda (@jpchanda) on Aug 8, 2014 at 10:33pm PDT

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9. 12 Kids’ Books on Showing Thankfulness & Being Grateful

As we begin a season of reflection and celebration, we are pleased to share some of our favorite books on thankfulness and being grateful that will help young readers on their journey to understanding gratitude.

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10. birthday discoveries psa...

Readers, I have now become a woman d'un certain âge.  Many would say that with age comes wisdom; I maintain that my main function in the world is to be enthusiastic, not wise.  And yet I do have some recent discoveries to share with you--a sort of public service announcement, a list of birthday discoveries that you might not want to miss.  (And, as various Documentations of Interventions must be completed for various students exhibiting various needs for intervention, my PSA will be merely a list of thanks with links.)

0) Thanks to Mary Lee: reading must be risked (see number 11 at link) despite and because of that gone feeling you get from the ideal book for the moment.

1) Thanks to the Wyngate Arts Exhibition:   "The Cup Song" is a perfect variety show number for elementary school girls--far more appropriate than, say, "Please Don't Stop the Music."

2) Thanks to Mark and Kim at Baltimore's Area 405's Supper and a MovieParis, Texas is a film worth returning to 1984 for.

3) Thanks to DJ Ivan and lots of my friends:  dance party knows no age, and the "tea dance" is a concept that deserves a popular general update!

4)  Thanks to my mom, personal shopper:  a bright new fruit bowl can just transform one's attitude in the kitchen. 

5) Thanks to my own good sense:  on the first sunny warm afternoon of nominal spring, three spa treatments is plenty and four is just excessive.

6) Thanks to writerly friends Tabatha Yeatts and Laura Shovan:  virtual is very fine, but you can't beat lunch with Pisces persons at a nice vegan restaurant with gifties from Robyn Hood Black's artsyletters shop.

7) Thanks to British in-laws Teresa O'Brien and John White:  poets Liz Cashdan, Gillian Clarke, Rebecca Elson, Beatrice Garland, Christopher Reid.  Golly.

8)  Thanks to creative, clever, caring offspring:  coupons for fancy meals, ten-minute massages, and happy playlists.  Something to look forward to is a great gift.  (And unlinkable children is probably also a great gift.)

9) Thanks to beloved spouse:  Sonos upstairs, Sonos downstairs, Sonos all around!  Please don't stop the music.  And also The Flavour Thesaurus, a synaesthetizing thing of joy.

10)  Thanks to my juicy little universe:  gratitude is good medicine

Today's Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by Kara at the intriguingly-named blog Rogue Anthropologist.  Wishing you all some of this same birthday enthusiasm this week, birthday or not!

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11. Thursday Three: Hide and Seek

Some library books I liked that helpfully fit into a theme of hide and seek. But they all also have classroom or home use for demonstrating values like working together, gratitude, and acceptance without being heavy-handed.

Come Back, Moon
by David Kherdian, illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian

Beach Lane Books, 2013
Come Back, Moon
When Bear is bothered by the light of moon and can’t sleep, he steals the moon. Under the clever leadership of fox, the forest animals work together to get it back. Simple text makes this ideal for younger storytimes or even as a beginning reader book. The soft, watercolor illustrations bring to life a serene forest scene, with special acknowledgement to the orange fox — who looks so darn cute and cuddly. The book would also be useful for themes of working together and conflict resolution.

Never Ever
by Jo Empson

Child's Play, 2012
Never Ever
A girl complains that nothing exciting ever happens, yet as she walks with her stuffed bunny a world of excitement is going on around her. Flying pigs, a flower-loving gorilla, and a brave lion join her on her walk — right into a dragon’s mouth! But she continues to be unimpressed, even with one more surprise in store. The illustrations in watercolor and pencil depict a world both gentle — with the soft blues of the girl’s dress and pink of the pigs — and lively in the yellow flowers and bright green dragon. Simple in words and concept, but high in imagination, this book is an invitation to play and think about what is right in front of us.

How to Hide a Lion
by Helen Stephens

Henry Holt, 2013
How to Hide a Lion
The book sets it up nicely: “One hot day, a lion strolled into town to buy a hat. But the townspeople were scared of lions, so the lion ran away.” A little girl find the lion, and decides to help him out with a bandage, a comb-out, and mostly by hiding him. But her mom finds him, screams, and the lion runs away. Hiding himself in town, he finds an opportunity to save the day and is accepted by the townspeople. Fun story that has an actual plot line to it. The bright yellow lion is visually captivating, and the relationship with the girl is adorable. The book would also be a good example for not judging someone too quickly.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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12. Stepping Back into the Water

When I set off on my long-distance swim three months ago, I stepped into the surf and headed into the unknown water of brain surgery like a swimmer being carried by rapids over the steep falls ahead, hoping that I'd survive the drop and emerge safely in the calm pool of water below.  Weeks later, the first time that I sat down to write after the surgery, my head still sore and my thinking

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13. The late gratitude

Very often we find that strangers help us in the most strangest way possible.  Most of the the times we are not able to pass our thanks to them because life changes every single day with people moving on as well. Which is why I think there should be no delay in thanking someone. Three years ago, when I first sent out my first script to a dozen publishers, I got more rejections than expected. 

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14. The Sky is Officially Falling!!!

Wow--I can't believe this day is finally here!!!

I mean, I knew it was coming. I watched the numbers on my countdown widget slowly tick down to today. And I just did this five months ago with KEEPER, so you'd think I'd be more prepared for the nervous/excited/giddy/overwhelmed feeling that comes with launching a book into the world. But LET THE SKY FALL is ... special.

This was my "just for me" book. A project I started simply because I needed to fall back in love with writing. I had no plans to publish it. I didn't even tell anyone I was writing it. But the story kept growing, and the characters were so real, and the world became so vivid that I eventually reached the point where I felt like I HAD to share it--and amazingly enough, my agent and editor agreed.

Fast-forward to today, and suddenly the book I initially wrote "just for me" is now no longer mine.

That's the beautiful, magical, terrifying thing about this process. Once a book launches into the world it no longer belongs to the author. We had our time to play and explore and dream. Now it's time to hand it over to you. So... *sniffles* ... here you go...

I hope you love Vane and Audra as much as I do. And I hope their story lives up to the amazing support you all have given it.

There's no possible way to express my gratitude for everyone who's blogged / tweeted / tumbled / pinned / facebooked about their excitement for this book. Nor will I EVER be able to properly thank my amazing publisher, Simon Pulse, who have not only given it the most gorgeous cover ever (seriously, holy hotness, Batman!) but who have given so much love and energy to this project.

And to any of you who buy/read, or tell your friends that they need to buy/read, well... imagine this is me, hugging you:

A book is nothing without readers. Thank you so much for giving this story life! And if you're still on the fence about buying/reading, well... I give you THE PUPPY DOG EYES:

Also: if you're in SoCal, PLEASE come hang out tonight at the Launch Party. I will have prizes! And exclusive swag necklaces! And DESSERTS! 7pm at Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego. Full event details HERE.

28 Comments on The Sky is Officially Falling!!!, last added: 3/8/2013
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15. Illustration Friday: Stretch

Arms reaching, I stretch towards the sky
giving thanks for all that I have in my life.

acrylic on canvas from my archives.

Happy Monday!!


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16. One. More. Week.(!!!!!)

You guys. 


KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES comes out week from today. 


*jumps up and down*




So naturally that means I have ALL KINDS OF things going on this week--number on of which is this:

The absolutely amazing Mundie Mom's have arranged an AWESOME tour, including all kinds of fun things. AND, S&S has been INCREDIBLY generous, and are giving away TEN shiny finished copies of KEEPER and TEN shiny ARCs of LET THE SKY FALL throughout the tour. Details on all of that can be found HERE

Also, if you missed it when I posted this info, I have three exciting events coming up and I'm really hoping I'll see some of you there. Here's all the details:

West Hollywood Book Fair
Sunday, September 30, 10 a.m. -- 6 p.m.
West Hollywood Library and West Hollywood Park
625 North San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA
I'll be on the Toddlers, Tweens, and Teens Stage for the Writing for InbeTWEEN Readers panel, from 12:00-12:40, with Dan Santat, Kirk Scroggs, and Eugene Yelchin. There will be a signing immediately afterward and yes, they WILL be selling copies of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES. So if you're in SoCal and you're dying to get your hands on a copy a few days early please come hang out. Full event details HERE.

Tuesday, October 2, 6:30 pm
Barnes & Noble 
2615 Vista Way Oceanside, CA 92054
There will be rambling. And awkward hugs. And nervous giggling. And prizes! (And *whispers* some of those prizes will be ARCs of LTSF). Also: Cupcakes (because uh, this is me). So lots of reasons to come, besides just, yanno, making me love you forever!

Changing Hands signing and official launch party
Saturday, October 6, 5pm
Changing Hands Bookstore,
6428 S McClintock Dr. Tempe, AZ 85283 
*NOTE: Seating for this event will be ticketed (I know--I'm shocked too!)
2 free tickets come with every pre-order, so you might want to order your copy early. Go HERE for instructions.  And the lovely people at Changing Hands have helped me put together an amazing pre-order offer. Limited edition exclusive swag packs will come with every copy of KEEPER (while supplies last) AND for every copy purchased, an additional copy will also be donated to the amazing charity, Kids Need to Read. You can find more info about that HERE

And I have a feeling I'm going to be saying this a lot over the next couple weeks (get ready for it) but... I just want to say a big giant sparkly THANK YOU to all of you for all the love and support. 

 thank-you Glitter graphics
Myspace Hi5 comments

(Say it with me: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww)

I won't ever be able to fully explain how much I appreciate all of the amazing things you guys are doing to support me, whether it be blogging / tweeting about KEEPER, emailing me your thoughts, posting reviews, telling your friends, pre-ordering, coming to my events, or simply just stopping by to cheer me on. ALL of that means SO MUCH. You have no idea.

This debuting thing is super scary, but all of the love and support you guys keep giving is making it so much less stressful. So THANK YOU. I would be a puddle of panic without you! (hows that for a lovely mental image to end on? Maybe scroll back up and look at the cuddly bear)

12 Comments on One. More. Week.(!!!!!), last added: 9/28/2012
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17. how things fit together

I'm consumed this week in finding a suitable (and yet, shall we say, practical) way to honor a grand achievement:  my parents' upcoming fiftieth anniversary.  In my search for a related poem, just as I was becoming frustrated, I found this.

The notes say that it was composed in response to the fiftieth anniversary of the Lego patent, in 2008.  I suppose I could wish that the Lego anniversary coincided exactly with my parents' anniversary, but goodness! Isn't it pleasing when things fit together so variably, so neatly, so interlockingly coupled?

3 Comments on how things fit together, last added: 5/26/2012
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18. In which I decide to be positive...

I'm having one of those weeks. You know the kind--where everything takes 10 times longer than its supposed to in a week that was already packed with too much until it all piles on top of you and you just feel like:

Or maybe...

But instead of using this post to whine and stress and panic (I know, I'm sure you're all very disappointed about that) I thought I'd try positivity for a change. Because the thing is, I have a lot of freakishly amazing things to be grateful for.

So really, what I want to do is focus on a few things I'm especially grateful for this week--in no particular order:

The Elixir of Life!
I know you Coke fans will probably disagree with me on this--but I'm sorry, Pepsi is basically the nectar of the gods. (though in a pinch I will settle for "the other") And for those of you who want to discuss calories and chemicals and teeth staining and whatnot I gladly plug my ears and say LALALALALALA I can't hear you!

The Hubs!
(Yes, I listed Pepsi before my husband--I said this was random order!!!)
He may have questionable taste in clothing, but the  part of him that is far happier in a Shredder sweatshirt than anything else is the same part that allows him to just laugh at me when I'm freaking out  and then somehow get me to laugh too. Like yesterday, when he bought me new squinkies. Bless his immature heart.

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19. Offerings and Gratitude

With all my traditional holiday touches, it seems I left an important feature unadorned. This beautiful statue of Buddha once sat in my zen garden in California. I don't dare place him outside here because a hard freeze could cause him to split, and I can't keep moving him because he weighs over 100 pounds. So here he has sat in a corner of my dining room for the past year.
He's a bit out of place, really. But I get to walk past him every day and when I pause to dust him off a feeling of gratitude always washes over me.
So today I gave him an offering. I was looking for a place to put my dollar store snowflakes and then said, "Aha! A perfect mandala!"

And as for gratitude, much of it stems from my blog relationships that have formed over the years. Some of you I have met in person where hugs sealed special bonds. Some of us have spoken on the phone, shared laughter and tears, exchanged gifts, and sent cards for no reason other than to let the other know they're loved and thought of.
I'm truly grateful for all of you, even occasional visitors and art critics.

May your Christmas, Kwaanza, Hannukah, Buddhist or non-religious winter celebration be all you need it to be.

As for me, I'm just going to continue to appreciate the magic around me and try to keep myself open for an inspiring new year.

~Winter Blessings and Love~


14 Comments on Offerings and Gratitude, last added: 12/27/2010
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20. Kevin Smokler: Promotion is an Expresstion of Gratitude

by Deren Hansen

Authors often wince when they come to understand just how much they need to promote their work. I confess to being in that camp, particularly when it sounds like we're expected to go out and convince people to read our books.

That's why I was quite taken with Kevin Smokler (co-founder and CEO of BookTour.com) and his idea that promotion is fundamentally an expression of gratitude. In that vein, I want to thank Nick James, who blogs at The Spectacle and posted the following
"I think the word “promotion” sends a shiver down many people’s backs. At its worst, it connotes a situation where an author is more or less trying to shove a product down readers’ throats. Very few people want to feel like salesmen. And not everybody is skilled in that area. That’s why Kevin’s definition struck me so strongly.

"Promotion, he says, is primarily “an opportunity to meet people who are interested in your book and thank them for their interest.” Or, more succinctly, it’s “an expression of gratitude and graciousness.” [source]
On Nick's recommendation, I listened to all of Dan Blank's interview with Kevin Smokler at We Grow Media. I recommend you do the same. Kevin has a number of interesting things to say about the changing role of the author in book promotion and about the industry in general.

I'm going to add the phrase, "Promotion is an opportunity to meet people who are interested in your book and thank them for their interest," to my list of mantras.

Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.

1 Comments on Kevin Smokler: Promotion is an Expresstion of Gratitude, last added: 8/20/2011
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21. Grateful to be alive

Twenty years ago today I touched death. To be honest, I'm not terribly interested in different theories about near-death experiences; I know what I experienced, and what I believe: that sometimes, on the border between life and death, we're lucky enough to come back. For me, it was looking down from the tunnel to see my child being comforted by a stranger over the apparent death of his mother in the mangled car. I was filled with rage at the thought of dying and leaving my family, and I believe that's why I'm alive today.

I wrote about the injuries and the start of recovery, as well as the near-death experience, in Peeling the Onion. It's been a slow process, but there is now very little that I can't do. I've worked hard, but I've been exceptionally lucky too, with the therapists I've found along the way. Don't ever believe that physical recovery ceases after two years - I've improved steadily over twenty.

So, noting the date today, my first reaction was to feel sick. My second was gratitude. I've never subscribed to the theory that I need to be grateful for horrendous injuries and years of pain, because of what it 'taught' me. But I am very grateful for the life I've had around and since those traumas, and for the future that I still have. 

5 Comments on Grateful to be alive, last added: 9/25/2011
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22. Step Three on the Eightfold Path

3. Right Speech
Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however it IS essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently, don't gossip and -- basically: to talk only when necessary.
Everyone knows she shouldn't lie. Everyone knows she should speak in warm, gentle tones and be friendly. Not gossiping is harder than you think. Oh, I don't gossip, you think. I don't talk about people behind their backs. For most of my adult life I have honestly believed that I NEVER engaged in gossip, never spoke negatively about people behind their backs. Then I became a Buddhist. I learned about Right Speech. It was explained to me that to truly honor the intention of Right Speech I should never talk about people at all. Good, bad or indifferent, it was not my place to discuss other people. Not my business. Okay, try going one day in the company of other people not saying one word about someone who is not there. Don't mention your mother, your sister, your children. Don't talk about the bus driver or the guy who cut you off on the way to work. Don't mention the doctor you saw, the cute baby in the stroller who kind of winked at you. What? But that was so cute! What's the harm? I don't know. There could be a hundred reasons you shouldn't mention that baby. I'm a writer and I can think of ten off the top of my head in an instant.
Right Speech is my biggest challenge every day of my life. I want to say bad things about bad drivers. Or slow drivers. Or drivers who don't use their blinkers. Why am I in such a hurry? I always leave in plenty of time. Slow down, de Helen. Breathe. Using malicious words against others -- even if they can't hear me -- means I lack moral discipline. Therefore, I have to refrain from using malicious or harsh words. It helps if I can remember that we all want the same thing in this life: we want love, we want happiness. Taking a deep breath, putting a smile on my face, these things help me maintain my moral discipline. Help me become a better person.
By the way, it's time to check in re the walking and veggie commitment. I have kept my veggie commitment and have slacked off on the walking. I let migraines and rain and cold keep me confined to the indoors. I promise to get back to the walking. Even when it is rainy and cold, when I go out and walk I always feel better about myself. And I also have the alternative of going to the gym and walking in the saltwater pool, or even (shudder) on a treadmill. So I have zero excuse. How about YOU? How are you doing? How will you do this week? I am starting my gratitude list for US Thanksgiving Day this Thursday. You?

0 Comments on Step Three on the Eightfold Path as of 1/1/1900
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23. Grateful

Ten years ago today, my mother and I had the good fortune to hear a special song, performed a capella at the Thanksgiving dinner table by our dear friend Anne Runolfsson. That song was John Bucchino’s “Grateful,” and we were so moved by it that we ended up collaborating with John, and the gifted artist Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen, to turn it into a picture book.

That song continues to bless our lives, especially at this time of year, and always invites me to “remember how I’m blessed.”

I have so very much to be grateful for, but here’s just a partial list… heartfelt, albeit not nearly as poetically expressed as John’s lyrics:

  • My terrific family, including my divine husband, beautiful children, and beloved parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and in-laws
  • The health and energy that enables me to live fully and maintain a lively schedule of activities, both professional and personal
  • Work that feels like play 99% of the time
  • Our hilarious dog, Louie, who brings such humor and pleasure to our lives, closes doors and drawers when we forget to, and has introduced us to so many new friends
  • Our home, which though not nearly as tidy or organized as I’d like, is a vibrant reflection of our busy, creative lives
  • Living in a coastal village that is picturesque, full of history, eccentric and enchanting all at the same time
  • The families who read and enjoy the books we write
  • The technology that makes my work faster, easier and more enjoyable (especially all things Apple!)
  • The creative colleagues whom I am so fortunate to work alongside, at Stony Brook Southampton, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and elsewhere
  • My fellow authors, whom I admire and learn from every day, including the members of the Childrens Book Hub community
  • Good friends who bring warmth, laughter and insight into our lives and days
  • All the many, many Hamilton family ‘team members’ who make a daily contribution to our lives in countless ways – from the teachers, associates and assistants to the caregivers, therapists and myriad other comrades and providers who sustain our family’s continued growth and well-being
  • The continued capacity for love, imagination, laughter, perspective, open-mindedness and wonder

Happy Thanksgiving!

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24. Re-adjusting Thoughts on Gratitude

A few nights ago I watched a program about quantum theory; afterwards, it occurred to me that with all the possibilities available in every given moment it is amazing that anything ever goes “right”—that is, according to plan—which started me thinking about gratitude. Actually, it was in-gratitude I was contemplating.

How many of us go about our days oblivious to the many miracles happening around us but are quick to notice, and curse, the tiny mishaps? Traffic problems, a flat tire, rude clerks, power outages—they all get a “Scotch blessing”. Do you do this? I know I do! I realized that I expect everything to go “right” and when something falls short I label it “bad” as in “a bad day” or “it went wrong.” The reality is…that’s just the natural order of things. Can we learn to give the same amount of attention to the good things that happen?

I don’t know about you but I am not so adept at staying in the present moment to give praise for every green light. Until I reach that point I’ve come up with a game to remind me to be grateful. Throughout my day, each time I catch myself thinking of what has gone wrong I will stop and replace that thought with all the things that have gone right. I imagine this new habit will help relieve some of my self-induced stress. Who knows…over time it may re-awaken the childlike wonder of everyday miracles.

post and picture by Robyn Chausse

What makes you stop and give thanks? Share your everyday miracles here.

4 Comments on Re-adjusting Thoughts on Gratitude, last added: 11/26/2011
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25. The roller coaster of change

It seems to me that the old cliche about change being the only constant in our lives is very, very true. Careers change, friends come and go, people move, they start families, we lose people we love. Nothing ever stays the same. At least not forever.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing because with change comes the New, the Unexpected, the Exciting.

This year especially has been a turning point year for me. Lots of new, unexpected, exciting things.

And lots of change.

Most of it amazing. Some of it overwhelming. But mostly it's all been such a whirlwind I've had a hard time keeping up with all the shifts and adjustments. And I know it's only the beginning. Next year is sure to bring even more incredible, unbelievable, chaotic things. And lots more change.

Honestly, I feel like I'm on that point in a roller coaster where the chain is slowly pulling my car up the steepest hill. Any second it's going to release and I'm going to be in for one heck of a wild ride. Which is awesome and scary all at the same time. But I'm committed either way. I just have to hold on tight and get ready to scream my head off.

So I wanted to take this moment and say that I'm incredibly, incredibly grateful I'm not doing this alone. I'm SO THANKFUL I have you guys.

Sure, my following has changed. It's grown. It's shifted. Different people stop by for different reasons. But you are all amazing, inspiring people and I'm thankful to have each and every one of you. As a group, you guys are my constant. You've proven to me time and again that you will be there in surprising and incredible ways and I couldn't ask for a better support system.

So thank you. Now I don't have to be on that crazy roller coaster alone. I have you all right there with me. And we can all scream our heads off together!

13 Comments on The roller coaster of change, last added: 12/2/2011
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