The Hidden Hearts

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If you look very closely, there’s a cutout in the sky and reflection. Can you find them?

On a wonderful vacation recently I started seeing things. No, really. First, after swimming with the turtles, I was resting and taking photos when I felt one in particular might be special. Get it this direction, a little voice whispered. After I peeked at the frame, I saw why. As you gaze into the pool of water as it reflects the sky, you’ll see a shape. A heart. And its twin smiled at me through the windswept clouds as a slight drizzle began.

Two hearts.

The next day, on a boat tour around the island, a lush landscape came into view set off by high mountains and sheer cliffs carved by volcanoes and weathered over the centuries. The orange-brown hues offset the seemingly endless shades of greens. I know some cultures have thirty words for green. This must be a place touched by each one, held in a historic time-delay for us to see. As we pulled into full view, the waves kept leaping higher. I held tight to the railing and, voila, another large heart in a grove of treetops in a contrasting shade of green appeared. Then, as the boat drifted further in, another valley appeared with still another heart grove of trees.

Two hearts.

Then I was playing mini-golf with our family, my son scored his first hole in one. It grew hot and we moved slowly as the palm fronds and bucolic greens swayed in a refreshing breeze. I managed to keep, ahem, most of my balls on target and out of the water features. The urge for perfectionism and mild sibling rivalry slipped away as one carefully plotted his swing. Then, the other just hit for the fun of it all. Like the character Tigger would play golf. I smiled at my husband and I swept dampness from my forehead. I removed my hat, looking at the skyline. I gasped slightly. My husband asked why. A large, white heart-shaped cloud was nestled, and interlocked, with a light gray one.

Two hearts.

I was seeing hearts in various forms all over the island. What was going on? Was there a hidden message within, like a secret code I needed to uncover? Was there some elusive blessing, just awaiting the right moment?

Even the plants I saw held heart like features.

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Then I started thinking in twos. I’ve been blogging here for two years. We have two wonderful boys and, of course, there’s the natural thoughts of love and fidelity with my wonderful husband. All many blessings, indeed.

But I want to stay attuned for the other hearts knocking. The little nuances that dance in front of me like the ocean swells or light tropical breezes. Just waiting for me to enjoy them and notice their importance.

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Bubbles of Childhood Joy

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When bubbles of childhood joy replace sorrow and pain, there’s more room for simple pleasures in life.

I walked to school to get my boys at the end of a busy day, and in front of me a young girl skipped down the sidewalk. Then she returned close to her Daddy’s side, never going too far ahead. First she squeezed her Daddy’s hand, then she looked at him, tall above, and decided she couldn’t give up holding his hand. Yet, I could see her dancing a bit, and perhaps she wanted to skip once more. Dad wasn’t into skipping so she just took smaller steps, bouncing up and down while beaming a large smile up to her father.

I loved her determination to keep the joy she was feeling, yet remain close to her Dad. It whispered to the young one somewhere deep inside of me, coaxing a smile to my lips and a joy-bubble to my heart. Remember to smile and have fun, it seemed to whisper.

Then I encountered the busy mayhem of elementary school pick-up time. Perhaps you do it every day, or recall a season when hallway jostling gave way to brief tag games with boys darting in and out of doorways, and you were “base.” Happy parent conversations perked along while you walked, and streamers from some class party littered the floors with happy colors yet to be swept into order. The day’s art project was shoved into your hands, which suddenly spilled over with a mélange of homework papers and vivid colors. Invisible glitter of children’s laughter and excitement to tell you about the day fills the air with a great flutter.

It’s almost too much sometimes, until you remember this day was precious, too, and this age will slip by much too quickly.

Then each paper and craft crammed in your fist became a treasure.

Each messy hug after school, a gem.

Each update about this and that, a pleasure.

The bubble of joy once more pulled to the surface. Tension eased. Cares float to the backdrop instead of remaining center stage.

Your heart settled, and it’s almost like butterflies can finally alight. Discovery and awe replaced the mundane. Colors and scents seemed stronger somehow. And it was very good.

What little bubbles of joy are you looking forward to this week?

 

Photo: pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Wandering in Tomorrowland

 

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David Drake and Katherine Morse in darling costumes. Everywhere they went people were smiling and waving at them.

We were walking through Disneyland and began to notice ladies and gentlemen dressed in period clothing. They looked very nice. Suddenly, I glanced all around and it was like being on the movie set for Tomorrowland with lots of hats, heels, and poofy skirts, too. We had inadvertently visited during Dapper Days and it was like taking a time-warp back to the 1950s or 60s.

Here’s some of the best photos!

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I loved her book backpack! Source: thinkgeek.com.

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By now we really felt immersed in a story, a new one melding Disney and a snapshot of time. It was beautiful! Now, there was a dark side.

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A Goth bride with a casket purse!

Some people dressed Goth and flaunted very dark, zombie-like costumes.

But the special part, for me, was seeing whole families dressed in hats and striped suits, enjoying rides and laughing together. I love the power of a good story!

 


Contest Updates

Some very nice things have happened recently with my manuscript. Awards!

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I took second place in a regional ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) contest called the Keystone Great Beginnings Contest. Thank you to everyone involved in the contest and congrats to the other winners!

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I just discovered I’m also a semi-finalist in a national competition called the ACFW Genesis Contest. My hands are shaking a bit as I’m typing! Thank you to everyone involved with this contest and I’m so happy for the other semi-finalists, too! I find out what happens in June so stay tuned!

Enjoy Some Wonder This May

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Photo: Charlotte Bird

With May just around the corner, I thought it was time for some wonder on display! Faeries remind me of the simplicity of childhood, and also keeping open to wonder in life. I was a lot like this little girl growing up, looking for the stars winking in the sky, waiting for something amazing to happen, or wishing all my stuffed animals would come alive at night.

One May tradition I want to try this year is leaving flower bouquets on neighbors or friends’ doors. Precious!

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Photo: lfvaustin.blogspot.com

Host a Faerie party! Some gardens and locations have faerie parties this upcoming week. Be on the lookout in your area!

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Photo: May Day Faerie Festival at Spoutwood Farm in Pennsylvania.

Buy a tiara and host a tea party! I got to interview some princesses recently at Disneyland, about the magic of wearing one. See it here:

I love Gail Carson Levine’s books. Whether dragons, fairy tales, or even a fairy quest, they’re terrific! You could read Ella Enchanted, then watch the movie, and discuss how they changed the story for a kids book club this summer.

If you just want a little faerie magic, try these pop-ups by Cicely Mary Barker which are so charming.

 

And my friend Ralene Burke has a new faerie series called Bellanok, too!

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Visit my Pinterest here for more ideas with whimsy:

Three Steps To Create An Elegant Bridge To Summer

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With wisps of scented trees, bees at work in the gardens, and projects due at school, I realized it was time to really think through what we want out of this summer. When one boy left behind kids’ shoe sizes for good, and the other sprouted whiskers, I suddenly felt the slippery slope of time racing forward a bit too fast. Can you relate?

So how do you put on the brakes, without hampering your family’s progress or running up a hefty tab for summer camps?

Here are three key steps to create a more satisfying and meaningful summer plan.

Evaluate your dreams for the weeks ahead.

Perhaps you have some work commitments, and with those are accustomed to setting goals and deadlines. Try treating your current kids’ ages as a benchmark for some of your summer plans. Is time going too fast? Where can you unplug and laugh with them? Where will the word “no” be used less? Wherever that is, it’s a great option. Craft a week or two in a place where joy has room to bubble forth.

Look at their life-skills and see what’s lacking.

Is it important for your kids to know how to put up a tent and light a fire? Are they facing bullies in school and need to up their self-defense knowledge? Are they always so serious that it’s time to be silly? Check out their individual knowledge and seek opportunities to grow at least one new skill this summer. For example, we want our older son to know some basic survival skills, so he’ll get to pitch tents, light fires, aim arrows, and more at Scout camp.

Increase your fun bank account.

I’m intentionally leaving a few weeks without a lot of plans. My kids work hard during the year and I’d like to say “yes” to play times, flying kites, trips to the beach, painting together, or maybe explore a new exhibit about things that interest them. I can create pockets of fun just by being dialed into their interests and seeing what’s in town. For example, if there’s something new at the local science museum or within a one to two-hour driving radius, we’ll consider it. Some museums have free Thursdays so that helps with the budget, too. But nothing is possible if I don’t leave space for fun to fill in the gaps.

What are you planning for this summer? I’d love to hear your ideas, too!

 

 

Granville Redmond, A Word Picture Of Resilience

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In honor of National ASL Day this weekend, I’m featuring the story of Granville Redmond, who I discovered recently at a visit to the Hunting Library in Pasadena. I was fascinated to learn about his life, stricken with scarlet fever and turned deaf at age three. Nothing held him back since he had parents that believed in him and were able to enroll him at the Berkeley School For The Deaf. There, his talent as an artist was discovered and flourished.

Later in life he became friends with Charlie Chaplin and taught him about pantomime, having great facial expressions, and the value of learning sign language. He starred in many of his silent movies. He continued to paint and fell in love with impressionism and the California countryside throughout his life (1871-1935). For a time, he met many famous artists and actors, and even lived in Tiburon, California, very close to where I grew up. Later he moved to Los Angeles, married and had three children.

Here’s a short visit to one of his paintings:

 

What I learned encountering Redmond’s story is the value of persistence, love for art and living life to the fullest. It gives me courage to continue to be resilient despite circumstances, and I hope it will for you too!

 

My main character in my fantasy stories is deaf, so I’m learning a great deal about this community and so admire them. Join Joey and I as we begin to learn sign language! I’d love to hear about your role models and how you’re celebrating this weekend too!

 

For more about Granville Redmond, see here:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granville_Redmond

http://www.granvilleredmondgallery.com/granvilleredmondbio.html

 

 

 

Seven Ways To Put More Magic In Your Life

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Are mundane tasks dominating your life and stressing your outlook? Here’s seven ways to add more magic into the everyday mixture for you and your family.

 

  1. Light a fire – Whether it’s a candle or a fire in the fireplace, the flickering light seems to signal something special is coming. Usually it leads to more laughter at our dinner table and loosening up for the parents, too.

 

  1. Turn on magical music – We often listen to a station from London broadcasting amazing classical music. Not the kind that makes you snore, but the elegant, heart-lift, gaze sparkling kind. And it’s fun to hear what’s happening so far away on the newsbreaks, too!

 

  1. Read a great book – Check out my Goodreads here for some great suggestions for books that encourage and enhance your view of life, in our world or another one too. When I connect with another sense of beauty it expands my capacity to handle the everyday here.

 

  1. Connect with silly – Put on those Mickey ears or get messy in the kitchen baking. Do something a little youthful and let go for a while. Smiles will expand and hearts will warm.

 

  1. Try some pins – Not the sharp kind, but on Pinterest, there’s a whole world of amazing images to snack on. I’ve selected some here on my Pinterest. Follow your favorite authors there too!

 

  1. Take a walk – With Spring here, I love taking a short walk in the evening. My son sometimes comes on his scooter and suddenly starts telling me everything about his day. Sunset seems more magical with little moments of connection, too.

 

  1. Hang around authors – connect with great authors on line. You can connect with their author sites, follow their blogs, and see everyday life on Facebook and Twitter. It’s so encouraging to watch their posts and feel a little sparkle enter your day with beautiful pictures or words. Some of my favorites (and others recommended by my friends) are listed on my author’s Facebook.

 

How do you keep the sparkle in everyday life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Here’s one of my latest YouTube videos, that includes a little behind the scenes of who I am, and some other fun things bubbling up as we get closer to launching the new website. Lots of good things in the works. Can’t wait to tell you!! Subscribe to the YouTube channel too!

 

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.