‘Fat Free’ Seasonal Treat? Have I Got a Deal For You!

So, how was your Thanksgiving?  A little too much mashed potatoes and gravy?  Are you wearing that third piece of pumpkin pie?  Not to fret.  Here’s a seasonal treat that’s not only “fat free,” it’s $-free, too!

Download your FREE copy of my micro-memoir, Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir.

Isabella's Torch Cover Photo.3

Grab your FREE copy of Isabella’s Torch today!  Consider it my thanks to you for reading!  Why not make it a two-for? Sign up for my FREE newsletter at the same time.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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“Thanks-Giving” & The First 5 Minutes

Coming up with a clever, catchy “Thanksgiving” post can be a little like trying to re-write Gone With The Wind.  Ya just can’t improve on a classic.  I wasn’t even going to try this year.  Frankly, I was kinda “Thanksgiving-ed” out by yesterday.

Although Thanksgiving is traditionally family-oriented and a time to reunite with loved ones and gather around a roast turkey the size of Rhode Island, that’s not how our Thanksgivings typically run.

Parents on both sides have gone on to glory.  We live more than 1,000 miles from our nearest family members.  The rest are flung to the four winds, spread out across the country.  So weren’t not able to get together as often as we’d like, and almost never on Thanksgiving.

My husband is in retail, so Thanksgiving weekend is just another work weekend as the store struggles to stay in the black and hopes for a bang-up Christmas season. So our Thanksgivings are a little… shall we say, “non-Norman Rockwellish”?

A quick look around “Thanksgiving” in the blogosphere usually brings up something like: “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Or “How many people are you having over?”  “Are you traveling this Thanksgiving?”  “Who’s going to win the football game?” Or the well-worn classic, “What are you thankful for?”

Not to reiterate the obvious, but Thanksgiving is a holiday set aside to, uh… “give thanks.”  Count our blessings.  Lift our eyes off our self-soaked lives and look up to the Father of every good gift.

All well and good.

So why did I resist taking that route this year?  Well, basically because that route is easy.  Comfortable.  Expected.  It’s also a little … canned.  Predictable.  Rote?  Is that what Thanksgiving has turned into – “giving thanks” by rote – because we’re supposed to?

Lord, have mercy.

So this Thanksgiving, when some of us are still working off that third slice of pumpkin pie or that extra serving of gravy and mashed potatoes that we needed like a hole in the head, how ’bout determining to launch into “thanksgiving mode” year-round instead of just the last part of November?

Rather than relegating thanks-giving to one season or weekend a year, what if we took the first five minutes of each day to lift our hearts to God in honest thanks?  What if we went through each twenty-four hour stretch looking for at least one thing, person, context or event for which we can be grateful? I don’t mean Pollyanna or pie-in-the-sky bye-and-bye syrupy stuff.  I mean something that requires alertness, deliberation, and exercising our “thankfulness muscles.”  Examples:

  • “Lord, thank you for the 39th straight day of rain, a roof that doesn’t leak and the promise of an extra-green spring.”
  • “Thank you for my boon canine companion (or feline),” as the case may be.
  • “I’m grateful for hot showers and soap after an afternoon on the trail or in the garden!”
  • “Thank you for this morning’s sunrise.”
  • “Thank you for Corn Flakes and a bowl to eat them out of.”

Thanks also for:

Puccini arias. Truth. Faithfulness.Libraries. Friends and family. Mercy. Raspberry white chocolate cheesecake. Poetry. Lilacs. A good night’s sleep. Fresh snow. Divine guidance and providence. Ice cream and…  what else?

If we develop the daily discipline of deliberate thankfulness, I’m willing to bet we’ll discover whole new horizons of  wonder and beauty that were there all along.  We didn’t see them because we weren’t looking for them. We’ll probably find answers to prayers that we may have forgotten about, splashes of grace and  delight that we somehow overlook in our every day busyness.

Norman Rockwell or not, does that sound like an “exercise program” you can sign on to?  Who’s with me?

Hemingway and Raison D’Etre

AspenResearching what others had to say about “reasons to write” recently, I came across these tidbits (in descending order)

3) People want to read what I have to say

2) Give yourself a feeling of accomplishment

1) To be able to tell everyone you’re a writer!

Really? The #1 reason a writer writes is so s/he can hang out a shingle and crow from the rooftops, “Hey everyone! I’m a writer!”

I’m not too sure about “give yourself a feeling of accomplishment” or “people want to read what I have to say.” I get that, but are reasons #2 or #3 what really drive you to write, deep down? Is your drive to write a combination of two or more of the above?

Here’s another: “A writer’s sense of self-esteem is wrapped up in writing. When we don’t write we feel unfulfilled. When we make progress with our writing projects, the world feels right again.”

I get the “world feels right again” part. But self-esteem wrapped up in writing? If that’s true, then some uber talented writers must have had “self-esteem” in the basement. Consider the following excerpts from actual rejections received by established authors:

  1. Sylvia Plath: There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.
  2. Rudyard Kipling: I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.
  3. J. G. Ballard: The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.
  4. Emily Dickinson: [Your poems] are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.
  5. Ernest Hemingway (regarding The Torrents of Spring): It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.

So let me ask: Why do YOU write?

Cause for Commitment?

Most writers I know who are committed to the craft write for one over-arching reason: they write because they can’t not write. And make no mistake, if you’re a serious writer, writing is a commitment. It’s not something you dabble in or play it. It’s work. Rewarding and fulfilling, yes. Sometimes the words come easy. Sometimes not. But a real writer is into words and stringing them together to communicate like Hershey’s is after chocolate.

Think of it this way: If a writer’s vein is cut, ink flows out. Or as Ernest Hemingway* said,

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Some have criticized this observation, equating writing with torture. Maybe. But I think they miss the point. I think what Hemingway is trying to convey is that for a serious writer, writing is who you are, heart and soul. Your essence.  Your life blood.

What say you?

Misty lake, pineFor a serious writer,  ‘reasons to write’ includes – but goes far beyond – “I have something I want to say” or generating a feeling of accomplishment.

Writing isn’t just something you do. It’s  your blue sky. Your open meadow or misted lake awaiting the spring sun. 

Writing is your raison d’etre.

Writing is what makes you tick. Gets you up in the morning. Keeps you going through writer’s block, clogged plumbing, rejection letters, and unmade beds. Computer crashes and a raid on your private Hershey’s stash. You write because you can’t not write.

Isn’t that what motivates you to keep at it, deep-down?

What do you think about Hemingway’s quote? What are YOUR reasons for writing?

* A variation on this quote is attributed to sportswriter Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith.

Irma, Honest Critics and Honey Trees

Public Domain

Know any “Irmas”?

Irma (not her real name) is one of those li’l black rain clouds who think it’s their mission in life to rain on everyone’s parade. Negativity drips of Irma like water off a duck’s back. She makes Eyeore look like the Energizer Bunny. A Turkish prison look like Club Med. So when this non-writer who’s never published a sentence beyond “See Spot. See Spot run” started in on my latest magnum opus, uninvited, I made her Queen for a Day.

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On the Lookout for Guest Authors

Do you have a story to share?  An excerpt from your next great American novel?  Tips for fledgling (or even seasoned) writers?  What have you learned about editors, query letters, traditional vs. alternative publishing venues?

Roads Diverged is accepting guest posts on these and other writing-related topics.  To submit, just leave a comment and we’ll connect.  The more we connect, the more our readerships grow and the more opportunities for all.

That said, here are a few ground rules and guide lines. First, you don’t need to be a professional writer or have the publishing “big boys” banging down your door to post at Roads Diverged.  Just a passion for writing and the desire to learn and share.  If accepted, your post will include a byline and a link to your blog or website as applicable.
Submission guidelines:

  1. I prefer content that’s fresh and original.  That is, content that hasn’t been previously published elsewhere.
  2. Yours truly is partial to “short and sweet.”  Stories should be between 300 – 500 words.   (Tip: humorous and/or true-life “slice of life” vignettes as well as travel stories always catch my eye!) A longer post may be accepted if I really, really like it.
  3. If your post is accompanied by an original photo or two, so much the better!
  4. I do not accept anonymous posts.  You may use a pen name if desired, but it must be specified as such and your real name must accompany your submission (withheld from publication upon request).
  5.  This blog is G-rated.  I reserve the right to reject any submission, for any reason.  Likewise, posts that include links or references to sites that are not G-rated or include spam and viruses will not be accepted
  6.  There is no compensation for any posts.  As in, zip.  Your “compensation” is boosted traffic and exposure for your work.  Roads Diverged is connected to LinkedIn and Twitter.  I’m also on Facebook.   You are encouraged to promote your submission via your own social network.  More exposure for Roads Diverged means more exposure for you.

Ready? Set? Go to the comment section below. Type “I’m in.” I’ll get back to you.

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