The Thanks, Gifts, and Giving Post pt.1

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in my “gift” story request. I was pleased with how many of you wanted to share, and surprised by those who submitted. I expected many of my writer friends and family members to provide a tale–I even imagined what a couple of them would say was their most treasured “gift”. I got a few from friends and family, but interestingly enough, I received several submissions from people otherwise unknown to me.

I was provided enough stories to require multiple blogs. Please take the time to read them all! Some are very short, others are full essays. A few are complete stories, others are passing comments. All are important to the writer, whether they be the giver or the given.

I consider each of these a gift.

***

An antique sterling silver evening bag from my dad. He tucked a 50 dollar bill in it. I still have the bag😁

Tess I.

***

When my mom was first diagnosed with bladder cancer I ordered her this. She was Catholic and even though I am an atheist I thought it would comfort her. She loved it. She never took it off. She would rub it between her fingers for comfort. It saw her through bladder cancer, and then breast cancer. She wore it until she passed away back in May while holding my hand. My dad took it off of her neck and gave it to me and I have worn it ever since. It means more to me than any possession I own.

Amanda W C

***

The story I want to share is not about a traditional “gift” but I think it’s perfect for your blog about Thanks, Gifts, and Giving. In 1985, I was a rebellious, hormonal teenage girl. After (another) particularly rank argument with my ridiculously stupid parents (fifteen year old me’s words, not mine), I stormed off to my bedroom, slammed the door and flopped onto my unmade bed. That was it, I had had it. I was outta there. I grabbed one of the old suitcases stashed at the back of my closet and started pulling shirts off hangers and stuffing them in. Pants, socks, repeat as needed. When I got to my underwear drawer, I stopped cold. Up until this moment, I had held the focus of my ire on my clueless parents. Now, I was awash with fresh anger at my eighteen year old brother. He had stayed out of the parental exchanges and pulled a ‘Switzerland’ when they’d tried to invoke him. Not only had he been in MY ROOM, but he’d opened my underwear drawer! On top of my panties and bras was a handwritten note from my brother. It said, “Be patient. They’ve never raised a 15 year old girl before. They’re learning on the fly. You have to help teach them.” It was so stupid. “Learning on the fly”? What the hell was that supposed to mean? “You have to help teach them.” BUT I’M THE KID! The note tripped me up. And slowed me down. I unpacked my bag—well, I shoved things back in the drawers and closets. Baby steps. He and I never discussed it but I’ve never forgotten that note. His stupid words clung to the back of my brain. Cling still—talk about a gift that keeps on giving! Oh, and BTW, my parents are totally awesome now. I credit their teacher. LOL.

Sharon R.

***

My most precious possessions are my daughters & family. One of my favorite gifts was the year I asked for photos of my daughters together. They asked a good friend of ours to take the photos. I was delighted and so touched when they gave us photos of the the three of them together dressed in winter jackets with colorful scarves while it was snowing! Photos of my loved ones mean so much to me! ❤

Kelly S.

***

When I was young, maybe four or five, my dad gave me a charm bracelet that he’d picked up at a gas station. He traveled a lot, was always on the road, hardly ever home. It was a Christmas themed bracelet with charms like a tree, Santa, reindeer, etc. He started picking up charms on his travels. Charms that represented the state he was in, other holidays, our family trip to Disney, etc. My mom took it upon herself to add each new one to the original bracelet, filling every link, eventually attaching a second bracelet to hold all the charms, then a third. There were so many charms, all cluttered beside each other you couldn’t really tell what anything was. I would get SO MAD because they wouldn’t let me wear it! Nearly two decades of memories collected together. My mom and dad have both passed. That string of bracelets and charms hangs on the wall above a family portrait of the three of us.

Dee A.

***

In high school I was best friends with a girl. Let’s call her Puri. Well, I was starting to find myself, as kids do in high school, and flexing my wings of independence. I was trying new things and branching out. Well, Puri’s friendship started to feel confining and clingy because everything new I ventured into she tagged along. I’m sorry to say I resented her. Then one day she showed up at my locker with a gift. In a white box she’d brought me white sand and a few shells from a trip she’d taken to Florida. It was a cool gift. And I had not expected it. I fumbled for words. My already strained patience with her rubbed the awkwardness of receiving an unexpected gift and I did not accept it gracefully. My “thanks” was insincere, my hesitation awkward, and my glare, for I’m sure I glared, was cruel.

Soon after that our friendship ended. We went separate ways in school, joined different clubs.

The last year of high school I wrote a poem for her, apologizing for how I treated her, and I put it out there in the school paper. Though we never talked about it I feel that she saw it and forgave me.

That gift taught me a lot about myself, about how I handle receiving unexpected gifts, and about how to treat people.

Karen K.

***

Thank you for checking in on today’s Gift Stories.
Stay tuned for more to come…
Can’t wait? Read my original gift story here.
And access the column that inspired this idea here.

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It’s a Petty Party!

Usually we don’t want to focus on the petty gripes of daily life. Those hashtag First World Problems, #FML, or #SMDH kind of posts. Especially when we have BIG things to complain about. And hooboy, do we have bigger things. But today, as we head into week three of our containment, I say, let’s have a PETTY PARTY!

Let me go first–
You know what’s really bugging me? I recently had the carpet removed and hardwood installed in my hallway. It’s beautiful! I love it! Yet, and here’s a good example of first world problems, the hallway walls are not aligned making the grooves of my new planks obvious. With carpet, I had no idea my walls were crooked! Just admiring the dark wood, I can’t really tell. But when I put the rug runners down, OMG, the OCD that I do not have absolutely kicks in.

I have tried every possible way to adjust the not-completely straight carpet runners to best camouflage the imperfect lines between walls and wood seams. There are none. Not completely true. In the dark, it’s harder to see.

I can’t NOT have runners. Loud, slippery, running the risk of dog claw marks, etc…ON MY NEW FLOOR! Carpet strips are a must.
I will learn to live with it.
Eventually.

Probably about the time I can leave my house.
Just sayin’.

What are YOU griping about NOW that pre/post Covid would be no big deal?
Scratch lightly. I want truly silly, frivolous, superficial, ridiculous complaints.

My god, could my cat lick his butt any louder?!

Yeah, like that.

What do you mean there’re only FOUR seasons of The Good Place?! That’s like one afternoon of viewing.

I know, right?

If I close my eyes when I walk down the hallway, it’s not so crook–oh, wall!–ed. Huh.

Your turn.
This is a safe zone, share freely.
Remember, GO PETTY you’re ALREADY HOME.

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Listen up!

In this time of isolated binding–housebound, carbound, cubiclebound, etc, you’ve got plenty of time to listen to great tunage.

My last “social” event was The Unlikely Candidates concert at The Bluebird Theater in Denver. We really could not have had a better send off to quarantine. The bands played well–rocked the house. They were personable and friendly on and off stage, and signed and greeted after their sets.

The openers were RH2, a fantastic band with a great front man and a too short set. Check out their music videos here. They did a cover of Cheap Trick‘s I Want You to Want Me–and in a bizarre twist of concert fashion, I was NOT wearing my Cheap Trick t shirt!

Next up were Castlecomer, a group out of Australia. This band came a loooong way to rock a few sets before the tour was cancelled. They, too, were really enjoyable with a star front man and talented musicians. Check out some of their videos here.

The headliners, The Unlikely Candidates, a band that Dave found while doing a search of venues along our trek home from Las Vegas, were amazing. We listened to them a lot before the Vegas trip in preparation for the show–and, thinking they were our little secret, were super impressed to hear their hit single Novocaine, played over the P.A. in the Palazzo. Then we found out the song was #1 at Alternative Radio. As it should be.

It was a great show with three really great bands. The Bluebird Theater is the perfect venue. Not too big, good sound, and a tiered floor with rail dividers for leaners like me.

This is music you can move to. Groove to.
Wash your hands to.

Seriously, each of these bands deserves your attention.
RH2
Castlecomer
The Unlikely Candidates
I hope you will check them out.
(click band name for Spotify links)

Now, tell me–who are YOU listening to?
What are some of your favorite Quarantunes?
What’s your “Shelter in Place” soundtrack?
Share in the comments!

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I woke up this morning with a great idea for a new novel…

Just kidding.

IT’S REAL LIFE!

As a fiction author who has dabbled with post-apocalyptic and dystopian themes, I am both fascinated and freaked out. Which is fascinating in its own way.

You just can’t do this kind of research from a distance.
You can Google potential, you can imagine and expound based on limited personal experience, but you can’t really know how things would work or how people would react.

With hindsight (of merely a few days time), I kind of miss the naivete of creative writing.

This pandemic is a work in progress. Let’s hope it runs its cycle quicker than I finish writing novels. And that it has a satisfying ending.

I’ll be focusing on my next publication.
The universe has gone to great lengths to suggest I stay home and write.
A little extreme, but the kick in the pants I need.

In the meantime, stay solo, wash your hands, and READ A BOOK.
I have some fine recommendations. 😀
Click here for my Amazon link, or click the highlighted titles below.

My Publications:

Short Story Collection:
Foe Be Us : Phobias
, a collection of thirteen thrilling short stories based on phobias. 

Novellas:
Safe Harbour
, a follow up to Kinder Garden – A Kimmie Jillison Mystery
Baker’s Dozen – A Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery Kindle World Story
Kinder Garden – A Kimmie Jillison Mystery, paranormal ghost story

Published Novels:
A STRANGER’S CHILD –
A contemporary continuation of the Pandora myth. A young woman who is orphaned for the second time makes amazing familial discoveries and must come to terms with her legacy. Coming of age tale, first in the The Pandoran Legacy seriesUrban Fantasy/mythology
Pocket Money, four friends reunite after college and fall into the familiar competitive dynamic of their youth, resulting in a deadly game of one-ups-manship. Thriller

Thank you. 
Be smart. Be safe.

 

 

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Bad People make the Best Stories

I love that title, don’t you?

Full disclosure, they’re probably not the best stories, and honestly, there are certainly worse people. But it’s catchy and relatable. I’m thinking this could be a series.

Entry 1:
I was at the store buying liquor. All right, it was Wal-Mart and it was a case of Miller Lite. They card now. EVERYONE. I must show ID. I can’t just provide an obviously older than 21 birth date, but must instead dig my driver’s license out and hand it over. At Wal-Mart. For a case of Miller Lite.

The clerk takes my ID, looks at the photo, looks up at me, returns to the photo, then back up to me again and says, “I see you let your hair go.”

Yes, folks, four years ago when I had my last DL picture taken, I had brown hair.
I no longer have brown hair.

I say, “Yeah, I got tired of keeping up with the roots. Too much time, too much money.”

She hands me back my ID and says, “I’m not ready to look that old.”

ZING.

Trying to make light of this conversation, I replied with, “I’m a grandma now, so it’s cool.”

She told me she wasn’t a grandma and even if she were, she’s not sure she’d advertise.

Huh.
Okay.
Any comments on my DL stated weight, lady?
For real, though, wow.

There was more to our exchange. She shared how she was 55 (older than I am) and her salon time is her therapy (I don’t get that, but I respect it), and also how her stylist told her she could NEVER go gray (of course the lady you pay to color your hair told you that, duh) because her hair would be pure white! I told her I thought that would look stunning on her.

Then, two weeks later, I happened to catch a glimpse of that same clerk from behind. Solid inch and a half of outgrowth. Roots.

I did not comment. (I tell you instead, lol.)

THAT is exactly why I don’t bother with the coloring anymore. The upkeep!
I’ve gone natural. It happens to be gray.
But you know what?
I don’t hate it.

It’s not for everybody. I get it. That’s cool.
Also, can we stop saying, “Grandma” like it’s an insult?

AND, an addendum to this story:
I’m at the Palazzo in Vegas and one of the high-end salon peddlers stopped me and asked if my color was natural or dyed. She said it’s gorgeous and she has clients–young ones–that pay big bucks for this color. And extra for my “highlights”!

Why, thank you.

Maybe Gracious People make the Greatest Stories?

 

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MasterClass

I received a subscription to MasterClass for Christmas. I immediately went through the list of many offerings and compiled a wish list of classes I’d like to take.

For those of you who are not familiar, MasterClass offers online classes on topics like Film & TV, Culinary Arts, Writing, Business, Photography, and Fashion. They are created for students of all skill levels. The instructors are the best in the world including popular, recognized, and professional chefs, actors, athletes, and authors. A few of the many impressive names associated with the sessions are: Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsey, Annie Leibovitz, Penn & Teller, Timbaland, James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, Simone Biles, and Serena Williams.

Not only am I drawn to the writing courses, but watching the trailers piqued my interest in other speakers, as well. I’m curious about the hows and whys of successful people–no matter their craft of choice.

There are over 75 MasterClasses available. Each class is broken up into about 20 lessons and each lesson is about 10 minutes long.

I’ve watched a couple of episodes from a couple of different instructors. I’ve participated in several of the suggested exercises, and I’ve read through some of the syllabi. I am eager to be taught and inspired.

Unfortunately, between writing book 2 and doing design work, it’s hard to find MORE time to (sit at the computer and) commit to an entire class. BUT I WILL!

And when I do, I will gladly share my impressions.

If you have taken any of the MasterClass offerings, please share your experiences.
Maybe we could get together and discuss.
(That would force me to get through a whole course, lol. I’m just sayin’.)

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Fairy Tale Day

Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 25th, is Tell a Fairy Tale Day!

I grew up with Fairy Tales . . . Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney

I remember reading The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen to myself, then having it read to me and realizing the boy’s name, Kai, was pronounced /k ai hh/ , not /kā/. I felt smarter every time I read it to myself after that.

I remember having a record of Thumbelina that I’d listen to over and over. Perhaps that contributed to my current love of audio books?

I remember reading Tall Tales, Folk Tales, and Legends, too.
Pecos Bill, Johnny Appleseed, and Paul Bunyan (and Babe, his Blue Ox!)
When I think of these stories, I want to Ya-Hoo!

Of the Grimm tales, my favorites were Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Rapunzel.
And by “favorite”, I mean the ones that resonated with me.
Later, after Disney’s The Little Mermaid, I went back and read the Brothers’ version. Reading the stories as an adult was a much different experience than reading them as a child. MUCH DIFFERENT, lol

I know a lot of people take issue with the “Disneyfied” versions of such dark tales, but I love the Disney movies. The beautiful animation and contagious songs that showcase the heart of the stories. I’m okay with introducing kids to the wonder of storytelling in a cursory way. At least they’re getting introduced to storytelling!

Here’s a Disney link for 11 Stories to Celebrate Fairy Tale Day.

And, of course, I love mythology! Gods, muses and monsters!
I was inspired by Pandora’s Box to write my contemporary continuation of her story.
I’m working on book two in the series, now. Check out book one, A Stranger’s Child, here.

Each of these types of tales explains a natural phenomenon, highlights the struggles of their characters, showcases the depths of good and bad/faith and evil, and provide a message, moral, or lesson by the end. As a kid, these types of tales inspired me to want to write stories that explain, highlight, and teach.

What were YOUR favorite fairy tales? What resonates with you still?

I hope you celebrate Fairy Tale Day!
Read a tale, share a story memory, write your own. 🙂

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A Quick Note on Perspective

I listen to a LOT of audio books while I’m driving. And when I’m not listening to audio books, my car radio is tuned to SiriusXm 70’s, 80’s, First Wave, or Classic Vinyl.

So when I watch American Idol and the contestants do contemporary songs, I rarely know them. Of the eight or so (!) singers featured in the two hour (!) premiere episode, one did two songs I knew, one blew a song I knew, a couple did originals, and the others, well, they might as well have been originals!

Although a bit embarrassed to be so far removed from the hip and cool music scene, and also for using words like hip and cool, I kind of like not having a comparison. I don’t know who the artist is or how the song is supposed to sound. I can judge the contestant on their performance without those biases.

It’s a helpful perspective when it comes to considering the talent.

Top of Mind Inspiration post this morning.
See? Quick!

 

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