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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Pink Think: "Your precious beauty is unique. There's never been anyone like you and never will be again." - from "Shine" by Jade Ambroze
|Do you recognize your precious beauty?|
Instead, this is what happened. My daughter was reading Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson. I flipped through a few pages and thought it was beautiful writing. I remembered how much I loved Regency romances when I had my first baby and was trying to adjust to being a stay-at-home mom. I started to think:
Maybe I should write this kind of stuff.
Why am I writing horror novels? What's wrong with me?
Maybe I should choose a different setting than the Philippines. England. Yes. England would be infinitely better.
And then my 15 year old son gave a Family Home Evening lesson last night about being yourself, and not trying to put on a mask. He said if you are happy with yourself, then you won't have a problem being yourself.
Thanks to my son, I got thinking, why do I like to compare myself to others when I have talent and gifts in my own unique way?
I love a little snippet of a song that I used in an Animoto video for my oldest daughter's 18th birthday. It said, "Your precious beauty is unique. There's never been anyone like you and never will be again."
Friday, October 11, 2013
Pink Think: "To have a great idea, have a lot of them." - Thomas A. Edison
I've been working on revisions to a couple of novels, going back and forth, mainly just to finish them already. With so many deadlines on my work outside of fiction, it's been hard to feel the muse. (Although, in defense of my workload, I'm loving my business!) I wondered, will I ever have a creative idea again?
Well, the muse is back, alive, kicking and spunky as ever.
It happened when I least expected it. I was standing in my office with my oldest daughter and noticed someone drive past the front window. I speculated on the vehicle and said (as I usually do, being a fiction writer) "What if that vehicle was such-and-such...? (I am being deliberately vague here because I can't tell about it until after I write a first draft.)
My daughter reacted strongly and I knew I had hit on something with potential. The more I've thought about it, just daydreaming, the more the idea's grown, fleshing itself out. The more excited I have become.
I can't wait to write it down because not sharing the idea with others is killing me.
Yanno...NaNoWriMo is coming up. (NaNoWriMo is not a hybrid rhino. It's like November Madness for writers, where we get to work on a goal of 50,000 words towards a novel in November.) *evil grin*
To my fiction writing friends, do you keep new story ideas to yourself or do you share with others right away? Any of you doing NaNo this year?
Friday, September 27, 2013
I've developed a very strange passion lately...for compost. I'm this obsessed - yesterday, at my daughter's horse show, I couldn't wait to get home and start working on adding some organic material to my flower beds. In the rain. In 50 degree weather. Which I did today.
It all kind of started with this little container that I saw at the mall.
The next thing I needed to do was to make a compost pile. There's plenty of room in our yard for one, but my husband and I still wanted to be strategic about the location. So we tucked it behind the horse's hay pile. Which works great because then we can add some old hay to ward off pests. Like racoons. (My husband laughs at me about my racoon-oittering. I've never seen one around our property, but if I were a racoon, I'd go for this kind of stuff.)
Honestly, if some animal really wanted the scraps, they can get to them, but this is the part where I'm so excited about this. This compost bin was made of free palettes we scored from the hardware store. Double-responsible!
|Okay, it's not pretty, but it's a compost bin after all. In fact,|
the nice thing about this set-up is, it's portable and can be dismantled for access at any time.
|Look at all these egg shells, hay and veggie scraps, happily composting!|
|Um, what are you doing?|
|Oh! This is good stuff!|
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Pink Think: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” - Virginia Woolf
|This is my creative space, where I can daydream and write on my laptop while looking out the window. I can also meet with clients here.|
|This is my "business" space, where I pay bills, plot my projects, and keep my business organized.|
In our former rental (which was lovely, by the way), I had no office to speak of, and the lack of space made me irritable (just ask my husband) and unproductive. My piles were ever-growing on the kitchen table, and the kids and I jostled for elbow room.
Now in the new house...the front room is my office. The pics above are in the same room. I feel like Virginia Woolf's quote applies not just to fiction, but to running my business.
I wanted a creative center where I could just sit happily writing (fiction, my clients' books, my op-ed and feature stories), but still be faced out to the world. The leather-like white chairs were a KSL find that I love, love, love...you can sit and sink in for hours.
I made the table from two shelves and some MDF board. The lamp was a splurge from IKEA (I guess technically it wasn't a splurge since it would have cost as much as something from Target, but the color was a splurge.)
The closet office took me a while to configure and to commit to, but when it was all said and done, it was perfect. The granite countertop was a beautiful addition. I can leave my notes and files and bills somewhere and forget about them until I'm ready.
I love this room.
A little over a year ago, I started a business called Treasured Stories, the impetus (ha, ha, I like that word) being that I applied for a super-cool job I thought was in the bag, but didn't get it.
I had been thinking and praying of a way to bring in extra income to the family while still keeping flexible hours. One day, as I sang to an audience in a rehab/care center, I had an epiphany: that I could help the elderly write their memoirs. And since I'd always wanted to run a business around one of my passions, this was a natural.
It's been a growing year for me. I've learned a lot as a businessperson, writer, editor, book designer, and as a mother and wife. There have been times when I just wanted to quit after a day of rejections. There were times when I was unsure of my abilities when taking on a project.
Slowly and surely, however, I made it through the first year. I owe a lot to my early clients, who trusted me with their projects, so I could eventually show to others that yes, I know what I'm talking about!
It's really helped to have a regular presence in the local paper with my op-ed column and feature articles. I also launched a poster campaign, which some of my current clients have mentioned when they've contacted me.
The biggest lesson for me in the past year has been to stay true to my initial purpose, which was to have a successful business while making time for my family. It's a balancing act, because it's so tempting to just keep working when you set your hours. But one fine day a couple of months ago, I realized that I had to pace myself or I would burn out. And the work that I was supposedly doing for my family's benefit was taking too much away of the fun.
So now I try to put in a day's work and avoid evenings (unless everyone in the family's gone in which case, I work if I want to). I take breaks. I tell my clients I will be on vacation so I give them a realistic timeline.
I've also learned to be calm and steady. Some people will probably never hire me, and that's fine. I can give them my information for when they are ready. And then some people are so grateful to have services like mine, they are super ready to jump right in and are a dream to work with. I have learned that I don't need to lower my fee; I give my clients the best work I can give, and make sure they get their money's worth.
It's been a fun past year, and I look forward to more. I'm glad I'm busy with Treasured Stories but not too busy I can't carve out some time for my other goals in life.
Posted by Jewel Allen at 9:23 AM
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Pink Think: "If you want a stable friendship, get a horse."
|Wixie in her younger days, with Sabrina|
That was the beginning for us of horse ownership, with a truculent and spirited, but inherently sweet, gray flea-bitten mare named Wixie.
But this progress is bittersweet. Because our dearest Wixie passed away last Friday.
When my daughter turned eight and horse-crazy (thanks to the movie Spirit), she asked to have a horseback-riding party, which led to her borrowing a horse for 4-H from the horse owner. But we soon discovered that borrowing a horse had its challenges, especially when it's shared by two kids competing in different events.
Still, it was great to learn about horse ownership and making sure our daughter was going to stick to this new hobby before getting a horse for our own. A year later, we decided we were ready to make the leap.
My husband was out of town when we looked at Wixie for the first time. It was the middle of the day and her seller was in her jammies, apologizing that she wasn't feeling good. So she sent us to the pen outside to look at the gray mare she'd advertised.
I didn't know what I was looking for, exactly. But I liked what the seller told me: Wixie was 19 and green-broke, had been in horse shows and parades. Bomb-proof, a perfect beginner's horse. She was a pretty dapple gray and seemed alert and healthy.
The next time I visited with my daughter, the husband was home. He put Wixie through a few maneuvers, convincing us that she would be a great horse. I put the girls on her back. She walked sedately like she was supposed to.
And then we took her home.
Oh, sure, she was a great horse. When she didn't buck, prance nervously, dance around while being tacked up, and generally act up like most mares (we belatedly learned) acted. One day, it got so bad I groused to my husband, "I sure hope Sierra doesn't get that free horse!" (Sierra had applied to "win" a free horse donated to the local 4-H Club.) "Guess what?" my husband said, smiling. (She did.)
But as we got to know more about being horsepeople, Wixie relaxed, too. It helped that our oldest daughter was a good fit for Wixie's fiery personality. When Wixie acted up, Sierra stayed calm. And sometimes Wixie shone like the mature horse she was. Wixie wasn't the best at halter or speed, but they managed to win a few ribbons.
Then our youngest inherited Wixie. By then, we had three horses, one for each kid.
They were not a good match. Sabrina did her best, and Wixie sometimes minded. But when the horse was bad, she was very bad. We got her another horse, which became her brother's so she could have his calmer horse. Along the way, we acquired another horse, too hot for Sabrina, so she ended up being my husband's.
By default, Wixie became my horse.
She began losing weight a couple of months ago. She usually did every winter, but this time she looked really bad. The vet said she might have cancer, and that we should prepare to say goodbye to her soon.
I hadn't ridden her in a while this winter - I'm a fair weather rider - and by the time she got really sick, I for sure couldn't then. All I could do was to feed her grain and keep her comfortable until the inevitable goodbye. Sometimes, I would lean in and inhale her scent, feeling her warmth against my cheek, and gaze into her soft brown eyes.
The afternoon my veterinarian husband was going to euthanize her, she lay down in the pen and never got up. Some friends of ours kindly helped take her to our new place to bury her towards the back of our lot.
As we stood there waiting for a few more scoops of dirt taken out of her grave, I looked around at the unobstructed view of mountains, the back of our new house, the acres and acres of land that would be home for us soon.
Sadness washed over me. I wished Wixie could have come with us, moved with us. Instead, here she was getting buried in the ground. And yet...
I couldn't help but be glad that we had those good years with her. That she schooled us when we needed a horse to teach us, during her best moments. And even during the bad.
I remembered the times she carried me on her back during trail rides. How she snuffled happily with her head down low. How I learned to gallop on her. How she liked taking treats from my hand and whinnied at my approach.
And now she was part of our new land, our new home. It couldn't have been a more fitting end, a better tribute, to a wonderful friend.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Pink Think: "Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast -- you also miss the sense of where you are going and why." - Eddie Cantor
|Image from seton.com|
Life had been going good lately. No; more than good. Fabulous!
This March has been a terribly busy, but productive month. A community event I was doing advertising for was wrapping up, and I was happy to focus back on my business, which was picking up. In fact, this past Friday, I was on my way to meeting a potential client.
My freshman son was going to get to play on Varsity, and I'd found an Under Armor shirt for him on sale. I decided to squeeze time to drive home ten minutes away, deliver his shirt, then drive back ten minutes to Tooele, and meet with the client.
After getting my son his shirt, I put my foot on that gas pedal. I was going to make it to my meeting. So bent was I on speeding to my appointment, I didn't notice the police lights until I was already cruising down the highway.
I pulled over and waited, feeling chills rack my body.
Not a speeding ticket, please. Not another speeding ticket.
I held out my driver's license as the officer came to my window. "Hello," I told her, filled with relief. She looked like she was maybe a mom like me. Maybe she'd understand.
She told me how fast I was going by the school. "You were haulin'," she said with a concerned smile. "Are you in a hurry, or something?"
I admitted yes, I was. I began a litany of where I needed to be when, but my words sounded lame to my ears, because of what she said afterwards, as she started to write me up a citation: "I was worried because kids were out for lunch."
I began to cry. Not just because I was embarrassed to be pulled over along a highway very visible to my neighbors. Not just because of what this new ticket meant in terms of my wallet or my insurance. Not just because, in speeding to my appointment, I was going to be even more late.
I cried because I felt like it was a well-deserved wake up call. If someone had been speeding by my kid's school, and hit my kid because they were so hell-bent on making an appointment in an over-scheduled day...
The thought shook me up.
When I got home, I confessed to my kids (two of whom are teen drivers): "I got a speeding ticket and I'm not proud of it." I told them that I was not a good example. That nothing was worth speeding and breaking the law.
Speeding is a hard habit to break. Just 9 mph over. That used to be my mantra. I've been trying to be good on the road, since. I put my truck on cruise control and allow myself extra time to get places. I look around and pay attention.
I want to be like some people who take the day easy. They still work hard, but they're not running to the next appointment. They're not trying to glamourize busy-ness. They're not addicted to this sense that if they stop moving, the world will come crashing down. (Truth is, it won't.)
Slow down. Wise words to live by.
Posted by Jewel Allen at 12:51 PM