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Keep Calm and Write On

I wanted to say a few words about support. Last week, I was under the weather at my writing group meeting at one of our member’s homes. She was such a gracious host, providing us with snacks and each one of us was gifted a journal. She said she thought of me because of my travel coffee mug my sister gave to me for Christmas that says “Keep Calm and Blog On.”

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My new writing journal given to me by my friend and writing group member, inspired by my sister’s Christmas gift!

This past weekend, I went to Charlotte to visit family and was greeted with two gift bags on the bed. One was for me with a gift and card from my mother and father, congratulating me on the publication of my E-book, “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows.” The other was a cute mug and a card for my husband for being an amazingly supportive husband.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the smaller things when you are trying to live up to your full potential. Who is really supporting me? Am I promoting it the right way or enough? Has my book helped people with writing their love letters, proposal and vows? There are about a hundred other things I could worry  or stress about.

But when I read her card, I knew all of those other things really don’t matter.

Like my new journal says, all I have to do is Keep Calm and Write On.

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My new E-book “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” is now available for purchase on the home page of my website. Thanks for your support!

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Meatless Mondays: Luna’s Living Kitchen

I was out of town, specifically in Charlotte this past weekend visiting family. We knew we would be leaving in the afternoon and wanted to stop by a raw vegan restaurant I found online: Luna’s Living Kitchen.

Since we are just getting home, I knew I would be in no mood to cook a meal and eat late so I thought I would share our meal at Luna’s Living Kitchen located in the South Bend of Charlotte. Even though I prefer to cook these meals, it’s good to know there are options everywhere to eat plant-based and even raw vegan!

We started off by sharing a sweet potato sushi roll. I decide to get a cacao smoothie and Jeff chose a Mango Tango. It had a kick of cayenne which we both enjoyed!

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Jeff had been eager to try the raw manicotti made with zucchini and cashew cream and tomato sauce. He added the lentil soup for warmth. The coolness of the manicotti threw him a little even though he was warned about it but neither of us could deny how tasty the cashew cream was and how well it mimicked the taste of ricotta cheese. I chose one of the warmer entree options: BBQ sliders. That was our favorite dish! The oyster mushrooms was such an amazing filler compared to mock meats like tofu, tempeh or jackfruit. When we come back to Charlotte, we are definitely coming back!

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The cashew cream was incredible!
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Our favorite dish topped with jalapeno slaw!
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Promises Kept

Today, I thought a lot about promises kept. On my last post of 2017, I made several goals for 2018. Two of the goals were to complete an E-Book and to take writing classes. Although I have many more goals to reach and even more to make as the year unfolds, I realized I achieved both of those goals. I just came back from the last session of Life in 10 Minutes and I released my first E-Book last week. I am happy I didn’t wait to schedule an appointment with a coach to help me organize and provide a calendar for writing or try to put off taking class for later. I believe I would have done both at a later time but I didn’t want to kick it down the road or just assume everything “would work out.” I have been down that road many, many times before.

Tonight after class, I knew I would be back for another session soon. My teacher passed out Valentine’s candies and Dream Big was printed on one of the hearts, faded but definitely still visible.

I don’t think I should be looking for signs in candy but it made me smile nonetheless.

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Meatless Mondays: Hearty Chickpea Pasta Soup

Tonight, hubby found the recipe on a website for No Meat Athlete. He and I are considering following their meal plans for a week to accelerate the process on our wellness journey. Plus, the site is full of whole foods plant-based recipes which I would like to cook regularly. It’s so easy to fall into the vegan junk food or takeout trap. It’s delicious but ultimately costly and more calorie laden than cooking at home. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
  • 1-2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 2 Celery Ribs, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon Dry Rosemary
  • 1 cup any Tomato Sauce
  • 6 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1 can (15 ounces) or 1.5 cups cooked Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch Kale (about 8 leaves), preferably Lacinato (Dinosaur), torn into bite-size pieces, coarse stems removed
  • 4 ounces Whole Wheat or Alternative-Grain Linguine, broken into 1 to 2 inch lengths (or choose a bite-size pasta)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil, if using, in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the rosemary and cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. If not using oil, add a few splashes of water as needed to keep ingredients from drying and burning.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, vegetable stock, and chickpeas, and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the kale and after about 5 minutes, add the pasta and stir occasionally. (This assumes your pasta will take 7 to 8 minutes to cook. If you’re using pasta that takes 12 to 15 minutes, add the pasta when you add the kale.)
  5. When the pasta is al dente, remove the soup from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Garnish with the remaining teaspoon of fresh rosemary and optionally, a drizzle of olive oil.

We loved it.. not oily and filling for sure! So glad we chose to sign up for these recipes!

 

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Still Excited!

It’s been a couple of days since the release of my new (and first) E-Book: What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows. I am having a range of emotions. The excitement of it being in the world is here, the wondering of what to do next besides talk about it and keep writing and hope–that people buy it, use it and love it. I am processing the entire range of emotions.

I know I am proud of myself and hope that those who use it, whether it be for themselves or for those whom they wish to gift it to, find it helpful and become inspired while answering the questions and reading the prompts and quotes.

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It’s interesting what you picture while writing something. I was imagining men and women of all ages reading and writing at desks, on kitchen tables, in break rooms or during quick stolen moments at work or lying in bed, recapturing memories of the relationship thus far. While I was writing, I even started thinking about my own “origin story” with hubby. I believe allowing myself to remember the details of how we met, the qualities about him that still make me swoon and how it was to meet his family for the first time strengthened my resolve to continue writing this journal and better yet, captured our “why.” By “why”, I mean why we fell in love and chose to stay there.

Because loving is action. Loving is an active decision.

Your turn: What have you done lately that has stretched or excited you? If you haven’t, why do you think that is?

Please leave a comment below!

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My First E-Book!

Tonight, I had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed by Sharvette Mitchell on her radio talk show (www.sharvette.com) to discuss my writing and blogging journey AND…..to talk about the release of my new E-Book Journal!: What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows.

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To say I am excited is an understatement. I have waited to make sure everything came together before announcing the release. The whole subject of vow writing, writing words that are meant to be spoken and helping others have been swirling around in my head for years now. It wasn’t until I was in a coaching session with Sharvette herself did I realize that I was writing a journal all along. My notes were full of questions and prompts and once the connection was made, I was determined to see it come to fruition.

I am incredibly grateful for my husband who ultimately planted the seed, my family for encouraging me and for my God who steadied me when I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing. My faith keeps me lifted. It allows me to see things through and to realize the support I was seeking was there along. I just had to see it through.

So please join me in celebrating the release of my first E-book baby to the world! It is available for purchase on my website only. It is for so many people-men or women writing vows, those planning to propose or those wanting to rekindle romance by taking that all too familiar and hopefully joyous stroll down memory lane in a love letter for Valentine’s Day or anniversary anytime of the year.

 

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Meatless Mondays: Black Bean Soup

I know I didn’t post a recipe last week but for some reason it felt like a lot longer. I have been working feverishly on a project that is coming to a close and it felt amazing to get back to Meatless Mondays by trying this recipe from allrecpies.com.

Here is the link: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/25333/vegan-black-bean-soup/

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion-chopped

4 cloves garlic-chopped

2 carrots

1 stalk of celery

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 pinch black pepper

4 cups vegetable broth

4 15 oz. cans of black beans

1 15oz can of whole kernel corn

1 14.5 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

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Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion, celery, carrots and garlic for 5 minutes. Season with chili powder, cumin, and black pepper; cook for 1 minute. Stir in vegetable broth, 2 cans of beans, and corn. Bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, process remaining 2 cans beans and tomatoes until smooth. Stir into boiling soup mixture, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes.

I was unsure how much I would like it without salt but the pepper, chili powder and cumin, onions and garlic provided more than enough flavor. It was relatively easy to make it and we both loved it!

 

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James River Writers January Writing Show

You know when something goes wrong right before a big event and you start to believe it may be an omen?

That was me last night. I noticed a thread trying to run away from my sweater so I grabbed a pair of scissors to gently cut it off. I soon realized I had a dull pair of scissors and was doing a little too much to get it off. In a matter of seconds, I not only taken the thread but cut a hole right in my sweater. Seconds before I was about to dash off to the Firehouse Theater to sit on a panel for James River Writers Writing Show: A 2018 Creative Plan for Scheduling, Motivating  & Organizing Your Writing Life.

I found another sweater, crossed fingers and toes, said a prayer and went to the panel.

I am relieved and proud to proclaim that my worry was a waste of time. The evening could not have gone better. My fellow panelists, Michelle Mercurio and Evans Hopkins were not only knowledgeable but there was a sense of ease in how we interacted with one another. The positive energy from the audience was palpable and relaxed me right away.

Karen Chase and Kris Spisak organized the evening to a T. Although Kris was unable to join us as a moderator last night, Karen took the reins and the panel went smoothly. We discussed topics like dividing our time, motivation and even our writing spaces. I particular loved Michelle’s powerful advice she gives to her clients to plan how they want their 2018 to end. Evans’ vulnerability was unforgettable as well. He realized how retreating from the world also leads to an absence of material to write about.

The panel discussion flew by and before we knew it, it was time for a quick intermission and the Q&A session. Even though I spent a limited amount of time with the audience members, there was an undeniable warmth present in their questions  and our interactions. Even through the blinding lights during the Q&A, it felt like we were all in it together, asking and fielding questions, sharing our stories and frustrations and wisdom gained from our experiences.

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From left: Evans Hopkins, me, Michelle Mercurio and our moderator, Karen Chase.

What cannot be overlooked or undervalued is the colossal amount of support I received from my friends and husband. I love that I have People. People that can be counted on. People that will show up without barely having to be asked. My husband is part of my People. I am keenly aware that is not everyone’s situation.

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With some of my People (my friends Morgan and April along with Hubby) who came out to support me! I wish I had gotten pictures with everyone!

There is gratitude. Gratitude for being asked, to being able to participate, for an audience of writers and non-writers alike who seemed to pick up what we were putting down, for James River Writers and for the smile that never left my face.

 

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Grow

I have pretty much been in work mode all day and next level tired the whole time. Hubby is still sick but he has his moments when he is walking around so I remain grateful–a bit frustrated but grateful nonetheless. Part of me wishes I went to writing class tonight instead of giving into the weariness and the work.

So where does that leave me besides committed to the work? It leaves me proud that my weariness comes from work and challenges me to push through finalizing my project and keeping to my schedule posting here.

It also reminds me that if I could go back to even 2 years ago and ask if I would rather be living that life, the answer is an emphatic “No.” Being too scared or lazy or a combination of both to take classes, seek coaching, blog, attend conferences and write even when my lids and heart are heavy is nothing I want to run back to. Don’t misunderstand me. I harbor no ill will against who I used to be.

I just wanted her to grow.

 

 

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Sometimes You Have to Say No

I am currently working on a project that will be released very soon. As excited as I am about it, I am trying to meet a deadline. The pressure is self-imposed but I care about meeting it for myself.  I want to be confident in the work I am creating and if it takes time away from cooking and blogging about a meal here this evening, then it will just have to be.

It’s interesting that the more I try to stretch myself, the more obstacles seem to crop up. For instance, I was supposed to devote a lot of time Sunday to my project and finish up today. However, I didn’t plan for hubby to get violently ill and for me to take care of him in the wee hours of Sunday morning into the evening. Which also meant I didn’t sleep very well and tried to grab a few minutes of sleep here and there while checking on him. I am always happy to put him first but of course that means my head is not with the work nor should it be.

So I am adjusting. Saying no to driving to the store, scrambling to cook something, take photos and post about it.

Even though I know I have other work to do, on a laptop that decided to start giving me problems late last night as I tried to get more editing done, there is still a part of me that wants to say Yes and believe I can do it all. To take No out of the vocabulary.

But I am not listening. I am sticking with “No” because I don’t have longer than 24 hours in a day and it’s more than OK to acknowledge that.

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Too Much?

I just got off of the phone with a good friend of mine and we were discussing celebrating wins or rather why people aren’t.  She pointed out that while we are worrying about whether to celebrate or how to celebrate, time was still passing by. We let worry steal our minutes, hours, days and as the Good Book says we cannot add an hour to our lives by worrying.

We waste the moments. I let that slide in, slink around and settle for a minute.

Why do we do that? Question if we’re doing too much, being too much? And while I am going down this rabbit hole, what is too much? Let me give you some context. I am sitting on a panel for James River Writer’s first Writing Show of the year and I will reveal a project I’ve been working on next week.

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Ready for the Writing Show!

While I feel excitement and curiosity about what I will learn and experience, I tend to be low-key. It’s usually not my style to announce things by shouting it from the mountain top.

However, I would like to learn to come in at above a whisper.

Especially if I want to be heard.

 

 

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Freedom

We have been back from San Diego for four days now.  While I was talking to a friend about the trip yesterday, I found myself romanticizing San Diego. Not that there isn’t anything to romanticize-gorgeous beaches, delectable food, picturesque views and a vibrant arts scene. Plenty of material, right?

However, I believe I was crushing on the freedom of living there if I wanted to. When we were walking hand in hand in Little Italy, hubby peered up at an apartment and said “I could live right there.” As we walked through the harbor afterwards, I started to feel the same way.

As a writer, I know my imagination has a life of its own. It will pack up a suitcase, book a flight and go on its merry way. Even as I am writing this, I know it’s the freedom I crave–freedom to travel as we please, live where we want when we want with the stability we need. Since I am well aware we are not there yet, those romantic notions are put on hold-not forever or even indefinitely but until all of our goals are met.

I know this will take being more with steadfast with my efforts with my writing and wellness goals. When I see the rest of my life, I not only envision this level of freedom but a healthy person exercising it.

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I think San Diego gave me the gift of this vision and an extra incentive to see it fully realized.