Favorite Little Things in Life

Life is rough. It doesn’t matter what age or stage you’re at, some weeks just suck. This week was one such week.

Instead of ranting or complaining, I though I’d share my favorite little things in life. These are things that make a day better or I wouldn’t survive without:

Note: I’m omitting foods, drinks, and people because this list would simply be too long 🙂

1. My couch – My couch is my spot for relaxation. At the end of the day when everything is done, you’ll find me on my couch. I work from it, nap on it, watch movies or TV, knit from it, and have even considered moving my easel into the living room.

trees, nature, nashville
My view: Taken last week after a storm

2. Nature – Flowers may be my favorite thing ever. I also love trees, grass, clouds, rain, animals, etc. I’m not one to go camping or hiking, but I love watching birds outside my window and seeing deer peek their head through the treeline. Nature can be calm or destructive, but it’s beauty you can’t buy and something that always brings me peace.

My little pup
My little pup

3. My dog – My little dog is a pain sometimes, but he is one of the sweetest and smartest dogs I’ve ever owned. Every day when I come home, he gives me belly and has to be picked up. It’s the only time of day I have to hold him like a baby up on my shoulder.

4. Quiet time – I need quiet time. There are some days I won’t turn on the TV or stereo. There are nights I shut everything down and just enjoy silence. I even turn off my phone occasionally to get away from it all. Quiet time is essentially to my sanity, especially after a stressful week.

5. Watching whatever I want – I don’t hide my guilty TV/movie pleasures. I love to watch romcoms, teen movies, River Monsters, tattoo shows, Shark Tank, and several more people “don’t expect” me to enjoy. I grew up with three other people in the house, so it’s nice not to have to share lol.

6. Music – Medicine to my soul. Music has been a huge part of me since I was a toddler. It helps through tough times, cheers me up, and releases stress and nervous energy. This week it was all Rage Against the Machine, but I’m ending the weekend with U2’s Rattle and Hum.

7. Control of the thermostat – I realize a lot of people fight over this. Most people I’ve lived with like it at 72 or below. Well, I’m cold natured, so I like it warmer. I freeze at 72 or 73. Having the power to set it at 76 and be comfortable is awesome, and something I never take for granted.

Feel free to share your favorite little things, and here’s to a good week!

Writing Inspiration: Siblings

sibling quote
Photo by: istanabagus.com

With the holidays coming to a screeching halt, I felt it was time to take a break and get away from the season. We’ve often discussed inspiration and certain things that spark great stories. This week, I’ve been thinking about siblings, their importance, and how they inspire us to be better writers and people.

Our brothers and sisters, blood relatives or not, can help motivate us in ways no one else can. I’m fortunate to have two younger brothers, one 6 years younger and one 12 years younger, and they each add something special to my life. One is more introverted and sarcastic, but his passion for the things and people he loves is contagious. The other is more outgoing and sensitive, but his drive to succeed makes even me jealous. Both are very bright, talented guys who will go far in life.

The Perks

When recently talking to a friend about her sibling she said, “Your sibling is the only person who really understands you and your faults. They know how you were raised and where you came from, and there’s no judgment. Even though we [her and her older brother] are complete opposites in most ways, it’s that foundation and those differences that bring us together … the jabs, the sparring make it fun.”

I couldn’t have said it better. My brothers and I fought when we were younger, but thankfully we have a bond stronger than ever as adults. We are alike and different in many ways, but we were raised similarly. I had it a little harder being the oldest, but it made me who I am today, and I would not trade anything for that. They understand where I’ve come from and who I am, and seldom question my decisions, even when the rest of the world does. We don’t always agree, but we’re always there for one another.

People in a sibling role can remember those little details you forget, making for great stories. They can be a great source when writing because sometimes you have the memory but not the details. I remember one brother acting out The Mask and Aladdin in almost their entirety. I remember the other one dumping an entire case of fundraiser M&Ms and mixing it with baking soda and dish washing liquid when I was supposed to be babysitting him. I got into so much trouble for that …

Helping raise my younger siblings also made me a better mom. I had already changed diapers, rocked a little one to sleep, cleaned up various bodily fluids, and so on, so when it came time for me to have my own, I was somewhat prepared. Over the years, they have become my safe haven at family reunions and holiday functions, and help break the ice when things get uncomfortable in social events. And things always get uncomfortable. As the oldest, I want to set a good example, and I want them to know they can do anything they set their mind to. They help fuel the desire to be a better person.

What If You Don’t Have a Sibling?

My friend also said she was sad she had an only child because her daughter wouldn’t experience the sibling bond. I disagree. I believe you can have a sibling-type person in your life – the kind of friend you’ve grown up or maybe even a close roommate. The kind of friends who get you, the ones who are always there, and you may not always see eye-to-eye, but you know if you need them, they’re there. That’s what it’s about.

This week, try to write a story about your sibling or a person who is like a sibling to you. If you don’t have such a person, pick the person who you fight with the most but still love unconditionally. That sums up most sibling relationships (wink, wink). And if you have an estranged sibling, maybe consider reaching out. As a new year approaches, it may be time to take the step and see what happens. Happy writing!

Treat Yourself: Take a Mini Vacation

Little fact: In 2011, CNNMoney reported Americans forfeit around $34 billion in vacation days per year. That is the total amount of money from unused vacation days. Ouch.

This statistic and recent planning inspired me to write about the importance of taking a break. This weekend I took my son to Kentucky for our annual mini mom/son vacation. Yes, work will be a little crazy when I return. Yes, it cost a little money. And yes, it was totally worth it.

The sunset and beach in Panama City, FLWhy Should You Take a Mini Vacation?

We all need a break, especially if you have a physically demanding job or sit at a desk all day. Our bodies get stiff, and our minds run 100 mph to keep up with our schedules. I am not suggesting a vacation with crammed schedules full of things to do. I’m talking about a vacation with fun activities and relaxation – think hot tub, beach, a hike or run, ziplining, or a quite dinner and drinks. And I strongly urge you to turn off your phone. Gasp!

Relax and Recharge: There are a number of sources that argue the mental and physical benefits of vacationing. Getting away allows us to have fun and relax, and we tend to sleep better. When we pack up and drive off, we break the monotony of everyday life and free ourselves – even if only for a couple of days. These trips are especially important for kids because they sit in class all day and deal with being kids. If you remember being one, it kind of sucked.

Make Memories: It’s a dismal thought, but do we begin dying the moment we’re born? It’s an interesting argument, and if so, we don’t have a lot of time to make memories and do everything we want. My son loves our mini vacations and will always remember his parents taking him to nearby attractions and cities, good restaurants, and spending quality time with him. I hope he will do the same with his family and friends.

Reflection and Connectivity: In our family, our mini vacations are times when one parent travels with our son. Last year, my husband and son went to their first NBA game in Memphis. This year, I took our son to one of the scariest places on Earth. Our little vacations are a time to grow closer, talk about anything, and try new things and foods. It’s all about spending time together or even traveling on your own. Taking a break can also jump-start creativity and inspire you to work harder.

We stay distracted and busy all the time, so it’s time we shut down like we do our computers and cellphones. Money and time are often factors, so here are some resources that may help:

51 Mini Family Vacations from Parenting.com

Inexpensive Mini Vacations from Easy Money Tips

The Mini Vacation from Travel+Leisure

It’s also a cool idea to vacation in your own city or take a day trip. We often overlook nice hotels and popular attractions that are in our own backyard.

If you’ve taken a cool mini vacation, feel free to tell us about it in the comments below!

Want to Write? Introduction

We are a creative class. We want to express ourselves, whether it’s drawing, speaking, writing, or painting or photography. For those of us who enjoy writing, finding inspiration and motivation isn’t always easy.

For that reason, I chose If you Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence, and Spirit by Brenda Ueland to review. I’m not sure what to expect, but I know it will be less technical than the last one and focus more on what’s inside of us, the writers.

I knew I was in trouble when I read that Ueland believes such things as rules, teachers, and grammar are discouraging to the imagination. And maybe that’s true, but this may be the most challenging book I will read. I am a sucker for the rules, and I find comfort in the years of classes and proofreading that taught me those rules.

In order to get started, there are a few things we must keep in mind from the first chapter.

1. Ueland believes that anyone can write.

2. We are all original, and science proves that no two people are the same, so we are automatically original and unique.

3. We must be honest and write from our hearts and intelligence.

4. Also, try to surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Spend time with those who want to hear your stories and push you to tell more.

5. Practice. Practice makes anyone better at anything, so let’s practice writing together. This book seems to focus on creative writing, which I have not done in years, and I am excited to open my mind to it again.

It may be difficult to shut off my rule-driven brain, but I look forward to writing again, and I hope you all will join me on the journey. Three cheers for the creative spirit and independent mind and bringing them back!

Writing for Web: Blogging – Getting Started

“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” – Nolan Bushnell

So, you’re in the shower and you think, “Wouldn’t it be cool to start a blog or website?” The answer is yes. It is very cool and totally doable with the tools and technology available.

This week’s chapter is all about blogging, but I would like to add a little spin. Let’s talk muse, too.

Felder gives some great ideas for getting started. The first decision to make is what to write about? Some questions you can ask yourself are:

What makes you mad?

What makes you smile?

What hobbies do you enjoy?

What is your passion?

Is there a topic you can talk about for hours?

What do you want to learn more about?

Now take those questions and pick a topic. Then decide if you can write a lot of content about it. If not, expand your topic. For example, if you like haunted houses you may want to extend that to all places haunted, which may include lighthouses, castles, asylums, prisons, etc.

Make a list of topics (these will later be blog posts). Write them down for as long as you can, and always keep a pen and paper handy. A friend gave out a tiny composition book during a blog session a couple of years ago, and it is still in my purse just in case.

We at RevPub like to have a stockpile of ideas too because sometimes you just don’t feel creative or want to work a lot on something. In those instances, what should you do? Here’s where the muse comes in.

 The Muse

Muse: The source of your inspiration that gives you new ideas and topics.

Most people have something that inspires them. It can be a child, job, lifelong dream or goal, best friend, or successful people in the world. It doesn’t matter what your muse is or how you find it; the important thing is to find it, hold onto it, and let it guide you.

If you feel your muse has abandoned you, don’t worry. Felder suggests taking a walk, listening to music, aromatherapy, and even eating chocolate. Other strategies I found are TV shows like Shark Tank and Supernatural, yoga, and hanging out with people who have similar interests. In fact, most of my Writing for Web posts are done with a horror movie in the background. All of these can get your mind moving in the right direction, so just pick what works for you and go with it!

Now that you have a category and topics, it’s time to research a little. Felder advises looking at other sites and blogs about similar topics, making notes about what you like and don’t like, and deciding how to make yours better. This is an interesting exercise and allows you to improve your writing and style before you write your first post.

With all those in mind, get started. Pick a site to blog on – WordPress and Blogger are both free and very popular. Be sure to check in next week when we’ll discuss scheduling, content, and readership.

In the meantime, tell us this: what is your muse? Do you have tips for others on how to find inspiration?