Dogs, Blogs and Logs…Ten Things of Thankful


I haven’t mentioned him in awhile. But he’s the most crotchety dog I’ve ever loved.

He doesn’t like strangers. He doesn’t like kids. He doesn’t like other dogs.

He likes his air-conditioned house. He likes his soft bed. And he has a toy platypus he only plays with when husby and I are both home. He’ll leave it for days and days, in fact, if one of us goes out of town. But as soon as we’re both home? He gets it out and squeaks it.

Funny story about Vinny. We can’t ever take him to the beach again. He was miserable and if he could have spoken to us this is what he would have said,

“You turds! You bring me here to camp at this hot beach? The water is terrible to drink, there are bugs everywhere, campfires stink, the tent is uncomfortable, I don’t like the other campers, the sun bakes my fur, the ocean water is too dirty and too loud. You call this fun!? And to say nothing of…what do you call them? Palmetto Bugs? I will run every time! Do not ever, EVER get me near those blasted cockroaches AGAIN! And if you ever take me to the beach again, we’d better be staying in an air conditioned beach house, and you’d better bring my soft doggie bed, you dolts, or I’ll blow chunks!”


Yes, that’s our boy. He made it loud and clear that he does not approve of beach camping. Or swimming at the beach, for that matter. Or the ocean. Just forget it. Stay in the mountains.

Hiking in Western NC
Just keep Vinny in the mountains. He’s always up for a hike.

The Wakefield Doctrine.

I’m thankful I found Clark and all his clarkety thoughts. Plus there’s Almira and the other novel. Glad I’ve known Clark and Denise for years. I always look forward to their posts. And just wanted to give a warm shoutout to them.


Morning breakfasts made by the husby.

The mornings are a time where, before work, I like to get all my creative work done. So there’s writing, exercise, journaling, meditating and tea making.

I generally just can’t fathom “cooking” breakfast. Dinner? Fine. I’ll cook up a storm. Breakfast? Eh…if I’m left to my own devices, I’ll just grab a piece of toast knowing that it wouldn’t be enough and then I’d have a low blood sugar crash mid-morning.

I know breakfast is my most important meal of the day. If I don’t have some kind of protein, it’s awful. Even if I have the best of intentions, without someone else to cook, I’ll grab whatever I can find and run out the door, though. I just run out of time or don’t think about it.

So, Husby has taken it upon himself to make sure we eat to start the day right. I don’t think I’ve told him enough how much it means to me.


My job.

It’s demanding. There are days where I wonder what the hell I’m doing, but I’m grateful to work in a beautiful place with an awesome office, surrounded by dedicated people.

I know that I’m fulfilling a need to help folks who all need help with resources and language learning. I’m interacting with many people, and I know I’m affecting lives. It’s a little intimidating, sometimes, in fact.

Here’s a little story. I was at a conference and I was at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. You know, the office that interacts with the State Legislature and Governor.

I was looking for a bathroom and stumbled into the State Superintendent’s office. I decided not to ask her where the bathroom was. But still…I was marveling at how I ended up there. And I’d just heard her give a speech to a delegation of coordinators and directors of programs across the state.

Sometimes I really wonder how I got here and…it wasn’t really intentional. Between that and having the superintendent of the county schools where I work help me change my car tire a couple months ago, I think to myself, “well, I’ll be! We’re all just humans in this race and we all really do pull our pants up the same way, don’t we?”

work at university
A recent photo of the university campus where I work.

Writing. Novels. Articles. Blog posts. Journal entries.

After writing so much in the past few months, and sort of living in these worlds of ghosts and goblins, of harrowing hauntings and such, it’s time to come up for a breather and soak up the sunshine.

I’m just about finished with the last draft of the second novel before I send it off to my “free” editors. (Haha.) But, I think it’s time to take a hiatus and…perhaps get back into drawing.

It seems I cycle through these things with the seasons. Summer for writing. Fall for drawing. Winter for writing. Spring for drawing.



I’ve discovered that I like it so much that I am thinking – just thinking – about getting good enough to become a certified yoga instructor.

I’ve been watching these YouTube videos with Adriene.

I’ve taken to getting up in the mornings and meditating, then doing some yoga, and then spending time either journaling, working on the novel, or writing on something else.

My hardy jade plant.
My hardy jade plant.

My jade plant.

Back in 2012 when I left my teaching job for a self-imposed sabbatical, a parent brought me a jade plant.

I had no idea that she’d done that and it sat in my former office for THREE MONTHS, in the dark, and survived. I found it when I was giving my replacement a run-down of everything before the new school year started.

Yesterday, my cat accidentally knocked it off the wall of the porch and it dropped five feet to the ground.

It survived, intact, with only one or two of the little pods (I’m not sure what they’re called; they’re not leaves) breaking off. Husby added more dirt and nursed it a bit, but otherwise it’s none the worse for wear.

That plant is a survivor and really, is teaching me some lessons about life.



So…I have a work computer, a work laptop, a work iPad, a home laptop and an iPhone. I just LOVE that when I do something on my phone – like write something in my notes, it shows up on my work computer.

Or when I need to take my work laptop to a meeting, all my notes and calendar events also show up on my desktop.

Now, I realize this can also be a real drag having all this crossover between work and home, BUT it’s not actually too bad keeping everything separate.

I have separate folders for everything and have notifications set for specific times and events. I do really believe in work/life balance and make a conscious effort to be mindful of when I’m doing either.


Amazon Prime.

So…I’ve had Prime for a few years, but I had not taken full advantage of all it had to offer until recently. Mostly I loved the 2-day free shipping.

BUT, I’ve discovered a really interesting series called Man in the High Castle (it’s a thought-provoking show about what might have happened if the Nazis did win World War II) and I’ve discovered all these great curated playlists that you can download to listen to in the car or offline.

I especially love the Zen at Work and the Piano Guys playlists for soothing background music.

Podcasts...hmm...maybe I should make some of my own or something.
Podcasts…hmm…maybe I should make some of my own or something.


So, anyone who follows my writing knows I’m a huge fan of personal development. I’d love to do seminars about personal development and spirituality sometime.

(And, oh, if you have an idea, I’d *love* to hear it. Would you ever want a webinar? You know…like do a Google Hangout and chat about life…?)

Anyways, I’ve discovered a feature on my new phone where you can download podcasts and listen to them anywhere.

I’m sure this feature has been available for quite some time, but I had a relic for a phone before with virtually no memory storage, so I missed out on these things…

But still. I have a commute that takes an hour and ten minutes out of my day. Podcasts are a way of furthering my own education and development.


And Then She Spurted a Second Novel…

I’m glad to be back, though I’ve been back for a week and two days.

I haven’t stopped by at my own blog much.

Well, that would be for several (good!) reasons.

It’s Been a Life Changing Summer

The stress of my job in this last year had prompted me to really do something I hadn’t done before: delve into travel as much as possible this summer.

I did it to relax. I did it to get in touch with my more spiritual side. I also did it to explore: new places, new stories, new adventures.

Here I am now, writing before I set off on one last little journey before returning to work in August: the beach.

We’d planned these trips in April. Last summer, in 2015, we spent it moving, and the summer before that I was taking classes and working as an administrator for a school. The summer before that? More classes.

I figured it was time to get back into living down some adventures.


Traveling Gives You Great Perspective

I don’t know what great soul recommended “going someplace once a year where you’ve never been,” but I can’t recommend that highly enough.

While on the meditation retreat in June, I finished the second draft of my first novel.

And while on the road trip, I blazed through the fourth draft. Husby started editing. He’s still working on it, but he’s also working a lot and has maybe has an hour or two here and there to work on editing my novel, let alone do the things he has to do in his own life.

That’s fine. Because…while he’s doing that, I cranked out the entire first draft of my second ghost story novel.

That’s where I was this last week. I was putting in hours and hours each day to finish before heading to the beach over the weekend and back to work the week after that.

I wanted to establish a strong routine of getting up early and working for a couple hours before starting my day.

These travel journeys have completely reignited my love of writing. Not that it ever went away. But I had to just be happy with journaling whlist finishing classes and working full time. There just wasn’t enough time or energy to do much else.

On the meditation retreat, I’ll share that the Buddhist monk who led it encouraged me to give into writing. I told her how, now that I’m finished with my master’s and working back in education, that I don’t know if I’m really cut out for that world. All I want to do is write.

She encouraged me to cultivate that love, that often we don’t know exactly what we want until it beats us over the head. And well, very often the third time is the charm (Anthropology and Spanish being the first two attempts at finding my calling).

I intend to finish out this grant-funded position (assuming we have monies after August…I still don’t know, actually) and come next June, I will take steps to indulge my writing while being smart about my income. (That’s an echo from the first time I tried, which was an honest failure. But it was a “good” kind of failure: one in which I learned a lot about myself, and what to do and not to do when it comes to quitting my job, how to have more focus, etc., etc.)


Next Steps to Publishing

The next steps will be twofold:

Get a cover made for the first book and publish under a pseudonym. Then finish the subsequent drafts of the second novel.

I honestly don’t expect much with this first book. It is the first book.

I know for a fact that most authors don’t get their first works published the first time around. Sometimes they do, but many times they don’t.

It’s because the mastery of the craft just isn’t there, yet. That’s not to say that some amazing, fine writers ARE masters by the time they publish their first novels. In fact, I think I know of few of those kinds of folks personally.

But, even Shakespeare’s early plays aren’t well known. It wasn’t until he’d cranked out a number of plays that his really great ones became known for what they were. Shakespeare had finally achieved mastery of his craft and we all only associate him with intricate Elizabethan writing, coining scores of new words for the English lexicon.

And so it is with novel writing. I expect to sell um…7 copies. 🙂 And that’s fine. I probably don’t want to be known for this first novel.

Don’t get me wrong: I gave it my best shot. But my best the first time around is going to look very different than the second time, to say nothing of the twentieth.

This first novel is about a Latino college kid who stumbles back to his college campus, cuts through a graveyard and upsets the gravestone of Marina Oliver. It was an accident, but that doesn’t matter: it unleashes an angry ghost who attaches to Jorge and drags him and his friends into a years old mystery. Their only chance of getting Marina to “cross over” is a bit of luck and resolve before time runs out and Marina drives them to their deaths.

(I hadn’t yet written out the “blurb” for my novel, but that up there doesn’t sound half bad, me thinks!)

The Second Ghost Story Novel

This second novel, I’ll have two editors. And I might spend a little more on creating the cover.

I don’t want to share what the plot is just yet because it’s only the first draft. With a few more iterations, things could change.

But something interesting happened on this second round of writing. The words came a little easier. The sentences were a little prettier, and my oral language has taken on a different layer of expression than how I spoke prior to cranking out over 120,000 words in a month and a half.

My sister in law and I were having dinner the other night and I was telling her about our recent road trip. I included descriptions of the environment: the parched trees, the pigmented sandstone rocks, the effervescent spring waters, etc., etc.

Beautiful places to describe
This image is one of many I snapped while on our road trip. It’s a photo of Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, WY. And one that would be awesome if I had to write up a graphic description of some place beautiful but parched, despite the hot springs.

She blinked at me several times before saying anything. I asked her what was wrong.

She laughed and said that she’d never heard such a vivid description of a simple little story before. Most of her friends will say something, hope it’s witty enough to crack up a bit, and then be done with it.

Of course, I knew exactly why that happened, and relayed it to her.

In any case, I have much work to do before this second novel is complete.

Watching the iterations will be fun, too.

When I finished the first novel, it was right about 50,000 words. But after four more drafts, it expanded to 73,000.

For this second novel, it stands about 43,000 words. I know that will swell. There are side things I thought of while I was writing and descriptions I know I’ll need to flesh out.

This second novel is different in that I used a technique called “Deep Point of View.” I wrote it all in first person, from the perspective of one character. I decided to try that to “up” the scary factor.

I do love a good, solid scary book.

As a side note, I’m reading the non-fiction book, “The Haunted” by Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s scary, but honestly, after watching lots of scary movies, seeing lots of ghost shows, visiting so-called haunted places, it takes a lot to ruffle me.

I’ll have to compile a list sometime of some really awesome scary reads that I’ve read in the past year (in addition to everything else I’ve read; I do have a voracious literary appetite).

Achieving Goals

But I cannot fathom how, at the end of May, all I wanted to do was finish a novel.

I’ve completed one, save for the edits that I’ll need to do once husby has finished the first one.

I’ve completed the first draft of the second one.

I already have ideas for a third and fourth one.

I’m cranking them out fast. It’s taken years to figure out, but if I don’t blaze through that first draft quickly, I won’t get through it at all. It wasn’t until I got the idea from that book, 5,000 Words an Hour, which just emphasizes getting through that first draft.

Now that I figured myself out – at least as it relates to writing – I feel like I’m in “crank ’em out” mode.

And yes…I’m going for the mass market paperback segment. This is why pseudonyms are good. If I want to channel the esoteric Barbara Kingsolver, another pseudonym will suffice.

It’s been an incredible summer, full of personal growth, and many, many realizations. These include wanting to write at HubPages more, wanting to include photography here again, wanting to spend quality time on my writing.


Free Printable Coloring Pages

Note: I have moved this post over to – it’s a site I created just for coloring. Come check it out! 🙂  It’s free and there’s lots of stuff over there.

Adult Coloring Sheets for Meditative Purposes

The art of coloring.

It’s making a comeback these days because it’s quite meditative. You get some crayons or markers, you download and print a page or sheet, and have at it.

Play some music. Or not. But just color.

The process of coloring intricate lines and shapes is beneficial because it forces us to slow down. It makes us focus on what we’re doing. If not, we go outside the lines and we don’t quite get the colors we were envisioning.

As such, I spent some time drawing. I wanted to share my drawing skills with you so that you might enjoy some meditative coloring. Interestingly, the process of drawing is as equally meditative as coloring is. If you like to draw, why not try your hand at it and share? I would love to know what other folks come up with – the possibilities are limited only by the imagination.

I have to admit, my utensil of choice is the Sharpie marker. I love those things!

You can print and share as you like! The images below are full-size. Meaning, they might take awhile to load onto your screen. This is because the image resolution is quite high. If you’re printing on a regular printer, the image will be crisp and sharp. If you happen to have a printer that can make images bigger, then you can increase the size accordingly.

The images are also in two formats: jpg and pdf. If you have a hard time downloading one, try the other. (Except the Abstract Flowers one – for whatever reason, I couldn’t upload that. Contact me if you’d really like to get that in a pdf version.)

If you have a favorite, let me know in the comments. Also, if you’d like to see more of these, just tell me.





Dirty House? Read a Poem

In recent weeks, I’ve headed to quite a few beautiful places: the botanical gardens, the beach, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi. In all of these scenarios, I see trees, animals, and places that I know I want to preserve for posterity.

It pains me when I see pollution, see animals suffering, or see how human activity affects trees and water sources.

I was inspired to write a poem – about our island home, floating in the Milky Way.

How we need to take care of the only home we have.

We can’t move from it.

We can’t sell it and buy a new one.

We have to stay here and whatever we do to our home, we do to ourselves.

The photos interspersed throughout are images I took with my camera during my excursions, that, I thought, illustrate what I’m saying in the lines of poem:

How Do You Feel When Your House Is Dirty?

How do you feel when your house is gross?

You don’t just sit there, as if comatose.

You clean and shine, dust and mop

So you present your best to the people who stop.

Our other home is dirty and polluted, too,

With trash and muck that others spew.

What do you mean; what’s this about?

It’s Blue and round, massive and stout.

This photo captures paradise in its essence, though it’s not “green”

It’s green, too, and everything between.

A marble floating, in space brillantine.

The only home we have, we say this every day,

Yet we trash it and bash it every which way.

Coal ash and chemicals sit and percolate;

Rivers, forests – we continue to abnegate.

Our respect for each other threatens to diminish;

We have wars over oil, water, and sorts of rubbish.

We darken our vision for a bright, vibrant future

Our once-blue skies wax gray with dull verbal cloture.

We’re evolved; we can think this through,

This mess, this trash, we can clean this, too.

Our planet is our home, and together we can,

Form a united front, like a family clan.

We can send thoughts of healing and peace,

Reduce, reuse, recycle without cease,

To soothe, to mend, and restore our home,

Is to find balance and the blessing to roam,

To see the oceans in purple majesty,

Witness the creation of the Almighty.

beautiful purple blue green earth
Purple ocean majesty…yes, I tweaked the color a bit to support my cause. 🙂

Our lives, we must conduct with more intention,

And act like the status-quo should be questioned.

We must stop and scrub our marble stoop,

So generations of children shall enjoy some soup –

Free of pesticides and harmful ingredients,

And play in paradise instead of on pavement.

The dust from our mercenary ways

Continues to build and leave us dazed.

We must awaken from our complacent daydream,

Taking action, moving as a united team.

Clean our hearts, our bodies and our minds

and create a world newly consigned,

Where animals, birds and reptiles exist,

With humans in love and all coexist

In a clean, pure world, healthy and new-

Skies azure, pristine and blue,

No money, no borders just me…and you.

ocean, outer banks
We can coexist – because we all deserve to be here.

What do you do when your house is gross?

Mount Mitchell-Inspired Poetry

pine trees western NC
Trees in black and white…with some green


A Poem Inspired by Mt. Mitchell



I feel the subtle wind

and watch it brush the needles on the pine.

And look at the ones who have not survived to this date and time.

To exist and thrive is such sheer determination,

To soar against formidable obstacles, not enough carbon dioxide,

pine insects and cold, these trees through the air still glide.

I take that formidable example

and apply it to my life.

To survive and triumph, through darkness and strife.

When I walk upon a difficult path, I stop and think

That so many before me have fought valiant battles,

growing and loving, understanding that life is fragile.

And still, like the trees, I stand tall, and proud,

I spread my arms like branches through the sky,

Stretching and flexing as they shoot by.

I make no excuses for why I persevere,

The others, they may not always understand.

But one day, they will know my heart will withstand

bliss and tragedy and exactly what makes me human.

Even if they don’t, why that they might,

I must stand out, make a difference – it is my human right.

Celebrating Independence Day

J and I usually celebrate holidays by doing something outside. It’s our style, you know. Independence Day in the US was no different.

We set out and headed to the Craggy Gardens in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. From there, we headed to Mt. Mitchell.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit that we hadn’t gone there in the seven years we’ve lived near Asheville, nor did we in the four years we lived near Boone, NC.

Sometimes those interesting landmarks close to home are the last to be seen, aren’t they?

The views were breathtaking.

We don’t normally go for the potentially crowded places, but we figured July 4th was just as good as any day.


Seashells on the Beach

seashells outer banks
A collection of beach seashells.

Friends and Inspiration

Photography. Something that I must always do, along with writing.

The thing is, I want to write creatively, but sometimes it’s really hard to think about writing a novel or a short story – especially when I’ve started writing, photographing, teaching and doing admin stuff full time, plus tutoring, trying to write freelance articles and keep up with this here blog.

It’s utterly and sweetly fulfilling. Y’all I’m deliriously happy.

Soy feliz. Con muchos sueños.

Sometimes my creative juices flow out and I need to refill the reservoir, though, and the brain power to try to sit down to an epic novel just doesn’t happen.

It’s all about balance, and that is a never-ending process.

I was saying all this to Melanie when she said, “I’ve got it! Do your photography and put stories and/or poems to your images.”

Aw, nuts. Why didn’t I think of that? But Melanie, thank you for the idea.

With that, I’ve been working on my Zazzle store. For the past few weeks, in fact.

Interestingly, it’s a lot like writing freelance articles: you research keywords, post a product, and leave it.

Would you believe I have continued to have sales, even though I hadn’t updated my store since sometime last year?

That’s a powerful motivator: when something you did before still makes money.

But, there was a part of me that was like, well, I have a few hundred products. How many does it take to make something besides a few dollars?

I have no idea. A lot. I’m thinking at least 10,000 before you start to see some real income.

Lots of Zazzle Products

But, in the interim, Zazzle has added SO MANY new and fun products.

Remember that poll from last week?  The most popular one was the “Seashells on the Beach.”

I spent the better part of this June summer day creating products with that image.

And, I came up with a poem to go with it.


Here’s the background:

I really was walking on the beach one afternoon with husby. I had my camera with me and started taking photos, as I’m won’t to do.

But, after 12.5 years, I’m still hopelessly in love.

Our beach trips always serve as a way to center ourselves and regroup.

And inspire both of us.


A Love Poem

Finding that perfect seashell is one in a million
Just as I have found you.
Waves of water rush over my heart
Waxing love, my blood pulses vermilion.

Sweet nothings I whisper in your ear,
Like seashells that carry ocean sounds,
Words of love fill our hearts,
Whisperings of bliss – do you hear?

Sunrises and sunsets, we live them together,
Shared hearts and minds grow as one.
Like the sea shell in beautiful colors and hues,
You, like they, are my treasure.


With that poem, I made a greeting card and even a wine gift box:

They have all sorts of new things now.

And, by golly, all this is going to make me write creatively: poetry – come hither, dear literary friend.

You can even make coat racks now. Goodness. I am going to have a lot of fun snapping evermore photos. *Dream*