2016, A Year in Review (and a few resolutions, too)

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Twenty-sixteen was my best year yet when it came to writing (not so much the number of words, but the number of finished projects, publications, and contest wins).  I’ve decided my minimum is 300 words (Stephen King’s is 2000, but unfortunately, I’m unable to write for a living yet).  If I want to go over that, that’s wonderful, but the overage won’t count towards the next day.  I have to keep myself accountable.

I have several New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Get more organized.  This will waste less of my precious time.  I have spent part of the last day of the year clearing out my favorites, deleting e-mails, organizing my USB drive, transcribing my notes that are scattered from pillar to post, polishing the drafts in my blog account so I can either “plush or slush” them (this I’ve done over the last week, explaining my prolific posting).
  2. Do more, and by that, I mean trying different things (especially physical ones, liking biking, climbing, etc).
  3. Plan meals so that I never have to wake up needing to cook.  (I hate cooking in the morning; I’d rather have fish for breakfast…and I have.)
  4. Write something using dictionary.com’s “word of the day”.  This will help me remember it far more than simply memorizing it.
  5. Don’t start writing any more books until I’ve finished (and edited) the ones I’ve written.  (This will take all year.)
  6. Keep coupons in the car or purse.  I am just too forgetful.
  7. Don’t respond to outlandish status updates on Facebook or you will be expected to post one.  I’m sorry, but these really piss me off.  Just like the ones that say “If you love Jesus, you’ll share this”, and others of its ilk.
  8. Include, in my daily to-do list, all the activities I want to do with my daughter.  This includes not just reading stories at bedtime, but other books during the daytime.
  9. Make at least one video of my daughter a week.  I’ve slacked on this as it’s harder to edit videos (or take good ones) than it is a photograph.
  10. Wear less black and gray (yes, it’s slimming).
  11. Do different things with my hair (it’s one of our greatest accessories).  I dug out my old crimper (I’m an eighties girl) and got many compliments on my new look; got a snood for Christmas and if you don’t know what that is, look it up.
  12. Work on Christmas gifts all year long (which would include trying a new recipe weekly).

And that’s just the beginning, but it’s a start.

~

One of my proudest moments this year was winning first place (in the same contest I placed in second twice last year) for my story, “The Punch Drunk Potluck”, about what happens when a saucy girl brings pot brownies to a Mormon Church party and spikes the punch.  Let’s just say everyone’s spirits were lifted.  (I will post the link when the online newspaper editor has it up.)

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I was also published in Bella Grace magazine, for which I wrote a narrative poem about the magic of childhood.  The magazine seemed tailored just for me, with its almost “Pollyannish” take on life (Pollyanna being one of my favorite movies).

I also got published in the anthology below.  This site, http://writingcareer.com/, has been a great help to me in finding places to submit.

I wrote for the student newspaper this fall semester, am writing still for a parenting blog (https://getconnectdad.com/?s=sarah+richards&lang=en), and help write and design the newsletter for a local veteran’s organization.

As far as my personal writing goals, I got on a blogging schedule, where I only have to create new content once a week (the Writer’s Digest Wednesday Prompt); for the months of April and November, I successfully produced a poem a day.  My Monday and Friday posts come from what I’ve tweeted out, which I artfully compile.  I’ve started a Facebook page with writing tips and truths (https://www.facebook.com/sarahleastories/), also of which will someday end up on this blog (waste absolutely nothing you write).  All of these things have helped me become a better, and more confident and prolific writer (and it all counts towards my daily 300).

Though I’ve enjoyed this year immensely, I am never sorry to see it go, because every year just gets better and better:  I learn more, I become more.

Cheers!

Sarah Lea

15 Life Lessons Learned From Classic Movies

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  1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Written lies can be stories.  (Just don’t print them as truth.)
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird: Sometimes there are consequences for doing the right thing.
  3. Gone with the Wind: You might lose your soul-mate by pining for someone else’s.
  4. Clash by Night: “It’s who I am” is not an excuse for being a jerk.
  5. Johnny Belinda: Sometimes you say it best when you say nothing at all.
  6. 9-5: If you want good office morale, treat your employees right.
  7. Office Space: “Humans weren’t meant to sit in a cubicle all day.”
  8. 12 Angry Men: “Not guilty” isn’t the same thing as “innocent”.
  9. The Night of the Hunter: Religion can wound, and it can heal; it depends upon the application.
  10. It’s a Wonderful Life: Your life matters more than you realize.
  11. Miracle on 34th Street:  Let children be children.
  12. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: Never stop wooing your wife.
  13. Meet Me in St. Louis: A love of home and a sense of belonging is more important than more money.
  14. The Sound of Music:  Even in the darkest of times, music can be one’s salvation.
  15. Sullivan’s Travels: Making people laugh has intrinsic value.

#Micropoetry Monday: #Christmastide Couplets

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The Christ child has gone from babe to man,
His birth and death now lauded more than His life itself.

The Yuletide glow of silver and gold has dimmed from shine to frost,
whilst the resolutions of the New Year prepare to rewrite one’s storyline.

Twas the night of Christmas, when all through the house,
that leftovers in the fridge drew leftover guests like a mouse.

The Christmas trees remaining are like looking into the past,
the holiday clearance shelves, the regifted future.

On Boxing Day, the focus shifted,
the spirit of giving and thanksgiving, lifted.

A Christmas Thought: Mine…Everyday

As William Wordsworth spoke of the “hour of splendor in the grass”, I am enjoying some peace and quiet in a house that naps–myself, the exception.  When it is quiet and I am alone, that is when I do my best work.  A Facebook friend of mine just recently quoted (from Urban Dictionary) “Introverted people gain their energy from their own, complexed inner world, and tend to feel exhausted when they have to interact A LOT with people. (extroverted people gain their energy from the people around them).”  Perfectly put.  Yes, I draw from personal experience (which includes my interactions with other people), but I don’t “bounce off of other people”; rather, I draw from a well somewhere deep inside myself, and that is what flows onto the paper (or screen) in a sometimes muddy stream of consciousness.

My family does most of their celebrating on Christmas Eve night; Christmas Day is spent recovering from it all (Stevia Coca-Cola with Crown Royal, anyone?), so I use that time to reflect on the coming year, and how I hope to continue to make each better than the last.  When it comes down to it, even though this Christmas was a “Hard Candy Christmas” (a la Dolly Parton), what with our financial struggles, I wouldn’t trade all I’ve learned and accomplished and enjoyed to go back.  It is in this way, every year does get better and better.  Sure, I want more, but I also want to be more, do more, and that’s what I hope for this next year:  simply more, of what matters.

As for today, my readers, I leave you this thought:  Sometimes, we can look at the same person in different ways, and though the ways be different, they can all still be true (or have some truth in them):

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He humbled Himself to become a child,
to be cared for by the least of them.
He chose the low and lowly road,
to reach His highest potential.
His royal lineage was masked
by meager beginnings,
His crown of glory, an invisible halo.
He became the Everyman,
so He could understand the soul of Everyman.
He grew inside a woman who was chosen
and who,
in turn,
chose Him.
Those who believe,
see Him everywhere,
in the strangest places and
most unlikely situations
because He is everywhere
inside those who believe;
for they are looking not outside themselves,
but somewhere inside.
They see Him,
only to find themselves.
He isn’t ours,
but He is mine,
as He is for each one of us.
He is limitless.

One bright, shining thing

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I was ten years old when I saw “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”, around a quarter of a century ago, and I never forgot it.  I’m not even sure if it’s a Hallmark movie (if it is, I can say, “They sure don’t make ’em like they use to”).  That said, for some reason, I never believed in Santa Claus (my parents tried, but I was like little Susan Walker on “Miracle on 34th Street”); I don’t know why that was–I suppose, being a very imaginative child, I thought everything that wasn’t Biblical or historical was simply a story, and that it was fun to pretend.

For years, I’ve tried to find a copy of “Virginia”, to no avail.  Yesterday, I looked it up on YouTube, and there it was.  I caught many things as an adult that I did not as a child, such as how all the immigrants (from different countries, no less) looked out for each other.  It made me think of when my mom was in the military overseas and all the Americans were close-knit (so different than in the States).

I used to think I wanted to be a reporter (even though I was terribly shy, having not matured into an introvert yet), but I decided I wanted to write stories where I wouldn’t have to depend upon other people to provide the information.  I also wanted to write stories that would be remembered.  This was further confirmed when my English Comp II professor said, “Most people can name at least one book that’s changed their life, but not a newspaper article.”  When Franklin P. Church (the man who answers Virginia O’Hanlon’s question about whether or not there is a Santa Claus) says no one remembers a news story after 24 hours, I agreed.  It’s why I’m not majoring in journalism–because I want what I write to stand the test of time (though journalism can be a much more exciting and lucrative career).

When I read a biography of Aimee Semple McPherson (female evangelist who founded The Church of the Foursquare Gospel), it changed my mind on women pastors.  When I read D. James Kennedy’s, “What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?”, it opened my eyes to how the gospel of Jesus Christ not only affected those who chose Him, but also bettered the lives of those who did not who lived with those who had.  When I read “The Happy Room” by Catherine Palmer, it showed how Christians sometimes neglect their children in the name of being “called” to do missionary work, for what profits a person to save a village, but lose their own children?  “Many Moons” by James Thurber showed that children have simple wisdom.  Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” showed that the Christmas spirit cannot be found in a store, but comes from within.

I’d love to write such a book, but perhaps, I will someday write such a story (or editorial) like Franklin P. Church’s, even though newspapers are dying as blogs are being born.  Perhaps I will even write that story somewhere online, for words on a screen can be just as powerful as on paper (once they’re internalized) and they will live on in cyberspace, long after my soul has returned to the firmament.

The editorial:  http://www.nysun.com/editorials/yes-virginia/68502/

What is your story?

#Micropoetry Monday: Faith & Spirituality

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Christ had been in the stories,
but had never been mentioned by name.
He was like the photographer that had taken the picture,
& it was because of Him,
everything else existed.

She ended up in The Big Sky Country,
he in the Low,
where he got saved where it was hot,
& she got cold where she did not.

God said, “Let us make man in our image,”
but Goddess had become barren from the Big Bang,
& Mary had become her surrogate.

When her way of living died,
and her friends went on living
as if hers had not,
she did not lose heart,
for her faith was in the Divine,
not humankind.

3 Wise Men searched for a Baby,
only to find themselves.
3 Wise Women searched for a Man,
only to find each other.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #353, Theme: Nothing Important

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25 Things of Little Importance
that Make My Day Perfect

1. Waking early, to everyone else still sleeping
2. Recalling an old memory, & being able to hold onto it
3. Remembering a new word I learned, for it is another color to add to my literary palette
4. Writing a new piece that seemed to come from nothing
5. Drinking a cuppa java while sharing my writing with new friends
6. Reading a handwritten letter from an old friend
7. Getting good news in the mail, & sharing it with whoever will listen
8. Running into someone who remembers me from years past, for it meant I’d made an impression
9. Realizing I accomplished a goal I’d never made, for it was inside me all along
10. Parting with something that meant little to me, but means a great deal to someone else
11. Discovering a Brady Bunch episode I haven’t seen
12. Listening to old Christmas music while a fire on the television crackles
13. Having all the ingredients for a new recipe, & deliciousness ensues
14. Remembering to pull my Mexican Coca-Cola from the freezer at just the right time
15. Enjoying dark chocolate with hazelnuts or marzipan
16. Driving to the beach when it’s 82 degrees with a breeze
17. Finding the perfect seashell—a tiny glimpse of the celestial kingdom
18. Burning calories while playing outside in the shade—MOMents that Heaven are made of
19. When twilight lasts as long as the day
20. Stopping to breathe in the scent of the gardenias
21. Capturing a butterfly with my camera
22. Climbing into bed & falling asleep to the sound of rain
23. When I see my husband as he sees me, & know, I chose the right one for me
24. When I make my daughter laugh & know that yes, I was meant to be her mom
25. When I see something old in a new way, & it’s like the first time I’ve seen it

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-353