DirectionsI had to get to the airport early today. Being summer, it was good driving weather, except for being dark since I had to leave the house before sunrise. However, I made the mistake of thinking I was following the On Star directions when the voice said “turn left”.  Unfortunately the left turn wasn’t exactly when I heard the voice say it. It was a few seconds later. There had been a slight left curve in the road and I thought to myself, this left turn was easy. A split second later, I had to suddenly brake and quickly turn the steering wheel a sharp left, as there were road sign arrows pointing left in my face! Did I mention it was dark, and it was the middle of the night.  I was a little tired and probably not at my top thinking ability. Fortunately I was able to stay on the road and didn’t hit anyone. So much for trusting modern technology. Hopefully, I won’t make that mistake again.

It seems there is a learning curve for just about everything we do. Like it takes longer and more energy to follow a recipe for cooking/baking the first time. Sometimes the recipe even warns you to read all the directions first. Yes, I am the type of person who reads an appliance manual completely before operating it the first time. I realize most people just jump right in, then go back to the instructions if they run into a problem. When it comes to machines, it is best to know how to turn something off before you start it. My dad taught me this.

Navigating through life can be challenging. We have lots of decisions to make and pretty much a finite time to make them. Also, tasks usually take longer and more energy than we anticipate. When I take time to just sit and relax for a moment, I usually remember something else I need to do. Some of the things I remember when I do so turn out to be high priority things such as family matters, or somewhat immediate matters such as remembering there are clothes in the washer which need to be switched to the dryer. So, do the best you can, that’s all any of us can do. The most important thing is to take breaks to have more time to reflect and come up with wiser decisions and plans. That way, you can more easily navigate the curves life throws you.

 

Janet and Linda

My book, Flip Flap Try . . . A Cardinal’s Journey, recently reached a milestone. The 300th copy has recently sold! I feel it is a testament of how well received the story of Rainier’s journey is. It turns out, the little cardinal that my husband and I experienced while camping, has inspired a story enjoyed by many people. My friend, Linda, who I hadn’t seen in a long time, bought the 300th copy of the hard cover book. She also bought the first soft cover book. Thank you, Linda!

I am somewhat of a quiet person, so have had to stretch myself out of my comfort zone many times in order to sell my book. I recall the day I sold a copy of my book to someone I did not know. It was during a Ladies Night Out event in Lebanon, Ohio. It meant a lot to me to be able to do so. I also recall selling one book during an event in a rain storm. Success! I might not have sold any that day, but I was determined to try anyway.  One bit of good advice I’ve heard about selling is: let the product sell itself. I try to follow that suggestion.

My sincere thanks to all who have bought, read, helped promote, had a hand in the creation of, or have a copy of Flip Flap Try . . . A Cardinal’s Journey on your coffee table or shop shelf. Each one of you has shared in reaching this milestone. Sing, play and be happy!

Janet

 

Soft Cover Flip Flap Try

I am proud to announce my book Flip Flap Try . . . A Cardinal’s Journey is now available in a less expensive soft cover format. It is more slender and slightly smaller. It’s cover is shiny and pretty sturdy for a soft cover book. Both books are for sale at my author website JanetKassalenAuthor.com. Just go to the buy now tab to purchase a signed copy. The soft cover price is $14.99 + tax + shipping & handling. The hard cover is $19.99 + tax + shipping and handling. I am sure you would enjoy either format, it just depends on your preference which one you decide to buy.

I am happy at how well received the story of Rainier is and to hear the ways it has helped children and adults alike. Did I mention how fabulous the illustrations are? A shout out to illustrator Laura Yoder. It was her first book also. I love the bright colors she used and the expressions on the characters faces.

Writing and promoting my book has been a rewarding experience. I am glad to be able to share it with you.

 

Grandfather Clock“Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment and know Everything happens for a reason.” — Albert Schweitzer. I recently got to play my banjo in a music recital. I had tried to play my instrument a couple of times in front of people previously, but had failed from being too nervous or not as familiar with playing banjo as I needed to be. I decided that the music recital consisting of students who were taking lessons at the music shop would be a good way for me to practice playing in front of strangers. I made the commitment to do so. I also decided that I would not back out of my commitment. I made practicing a priority. I paved out some practice time. I knew it was best to practice well before the recital in order to let the muscles in my fingers learn how to move. In order to learn a song well enough for a performance, where you just keep playing forward through the piece as best you can without stopping, you must practice. Though, sometimes starting over from the beginning is warranted. It’s natural to be nervous for a performance. It means you care. Well, I made it through my solo without too many mishaps. The positive comments I received afterwards helped to validate my feelings of happiness. Happy to have succeeded my goal of playing in front of strangers without getting too nervous. I had learned a hard lesson as a child about performing. One time I memorized my song for my first piano recital. When I sat down at the piano, to my surprise, I couldn’t remember how the song started. I think my teacher was more embarrassed than I was. I learned a hard lesson that day — always bring your music with you to a recital. The fact that I had disappointed my piano teacher affected me more than the embarrassment of forgetting how to play my song. I don’t recall ever playing that song again. To this day, I do not remember what song it was. No matter. I have a new song now — Grandfather’s Clock. And I suspect, this time, I won’t forget it till my heart’s last tick tock, tick tock, tick . . . tock . . . chime!

Cardinal “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” — Ansel Adams. Since writing my cardinal story, my love for cardinals has grown. My eyes became keen on noticing cardinal objects or artwork wherever I go. The picture of a cardinal at the beginning of this blog was one such item. I bought this cardinal artwork at a craft fair in Texas. The image on it is a photograph of a cardinal taken by photographer Edward Charles. He worked hard at creating such a beautiful image of a cardinal to share with others. I especially like how he framed it using a special photography technique of blurring the original photo. The blurred frame makes a nice contrast to the original photo. I appreciate the work he put into making it. Creative photographs just don’t happen by accident. (The same thing applies to stories in a book.) The photographer behind the camera sees/feels something special when taking a photograph (writing a book). Part of you enters into the picture. Knowing how to work the camera (learning writing techniques) helps, of course. It takes practice. I’ve heard it said, “You can tell the greatness of a photographer by the size of his wastebasket.” We can work on being more creative by being in tune with the creative side of ourselves. It helps to carve out blocks of quiet time and to take trips on vacations. Appreciating others creativeness can be learned and give us joy (and new ideas.) There is a lot of beauty in this world. I hope you can develop your creative mind to capture more and more of it. Then share it with others.

This morning, I had to hurry to Momfinish packing for my trip to Texas. I rolled my suitcase to the backdoor of our house, making it ready for a quick exit. I was already about half an hour later than I planned to leave the house. Decided it would be prudent to glance over my ‘do not forget’ list once more. Sports jacket for Mike (my husband) was on the list. “Oh yes, he asked me to bring him one,” I thought. Funny, when we talked on the phone the other night, he said “Remember to bring a sports jacket.” I had forgotten he had asked me to bring one for himself. I though he was wanting me to bring one for myself. I’m glad I checked my ‘do not forget’ list once more & glad I had written it down as “sports jacket for Mike.” I sat at the airport waiting for my connecting flight feeling full from my meal at Friday’s, sipping my ‘to go’ unsweetened iced tea. People were passing by rolling their suitcases. I hear two dings from my cell phone, signaling a message. I check it. It was my husband messaging, “See you soon.”

I used to write letters home to my mom when sitting in the waiting room at car appointments. If I were to write a letter to Mom today (which happens to be the anniversary of her passing) what might I say? Perhaps something like this . . .“Things are keeping me busy. I was able to get tax information together, taken over and dropped off to our accountant yesterday. Hope I did OK with it. I didn’t have enough time to gather up all of my expenses. Trying to carve out more time to work on my second book. Recently decided to make some changes. I will have to work out some new details in the scenes . . .”

Albert Einstein once said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Having time to sit and reflect gives one time to organize their thoughts & think of new ideas. With writing, you may want to just start typing and see where it takes you. Time passes by quickly when you work on a writing project.

Still at the airport, I checked my watch. Time to catch my connecting flight. There was a gate change, of course. Luckily, I was able to walk quickly to the new gate location and make my flight.

When my husband & I got to the hotel room tonight, I unpacked my suitcase. Took Mike’s sports jacket from the front zipper pocket of the suitcase where I had hurriedly stuffed it this morning and handed it to him. He said, “Thanks. That’s the one I would have picked. Glad you brought it.”

Back to my letter . . . “Thank you helping me with so many things. Hope things are going well. Miss you.

Love,
Janet”

dumbbell
Photo from Pixabay.com

The start of a new year is a great time to start something new. Having a support group/person may help you keep going. I recently joined a gym and signed up for coaching there. The coach did an assessment of my current physical health including my known problems such as back pain. She tailors the exercise routines so as not to aggravate any problems I have. I started out slow, using light weights and have progressed to heavier weights. It takes a bit of commitment and pushing oneself at times. It is rewarding to see progress. I am working to make healthier food choices.  I believe all foods fit. I try to make healthier food choices more often and ask for small portions of some higher calorie foods. If I am full, I know I should stop eating. In college I had a roommate from Pakistan. She said that she was taught one should stop eating just before feeling full. Sounds like some good advice. Filling your plate with some lower calorie foods such as lettuce and carrots helps to curb overeating.

There are other areas for new beginnings. Toastmasters is a place where one can work on improving communication and speaking skills. One recent guest to the Wilmington Expressives club said he was surprised to learn that Wilmington had a toastmasters club. It is the best kept secret in town, someone told me, trying to point out that our club needs to advertise itself more. One can also find writing groups for improving writing skills. Just like Rainier, the main character in my book, tried new things till he found his fit in life, so could we. Explore new beginnings to find what works for you. May you have a happier, healthier and more rewarding new year.

Christmas Mouse

I didn’t have time to set up our stored away in garage attic Christmas tree this year. Instead, I rediscovered some other Christmas decorations which I had stored in one of our bedroom closets. Actually, it was evidence of a mouse which prompted me to take everything out of the closet. It was nice to rediscover some older decorations I hadn’t used in years. I had fun finding places to display them for the holidays. Sometimes we stuff things away; sometimes our feelings. One day, a lady noticed me stuffing one of my used Kleenex in my purse. She told me I was a stuffer. She said I tended to hide my feelings. I was a bit hurt by her observation. Sometimes the truth hurts. I remember once telling someone I was fine when I was really pretending to be fine. I later found someone whom I could trust to tell everything was not fine. I asked for their help. Building friendships is so important in life. Having people you can trust. A good friend is one who can tell you when you are doing something wrong. They love you enough to tell you so. Reaching out for help from others is a good thing, as is reaching out to help someone. I had my book published, at least one of the reasons for doing so, to help people who might be struggling with their career. I wanted to give people hope they would find their dream job someday. I know my book Flip Flap Try has given some people hope from hearing feedback of those who have read it. I believe you never know when and who you might be able to help. You don’t have to write a book. Just having a conversation with someone may give them hope, point them in the right direction. Usually something sparks us to take action. For me this year it was a Christmas mouse . . . a personal coach, book coach, two marketing assistants, speech coach, writer’s group, shop owners, personal trainer, friends, kind neighbors and loving family.

It is ideal to first make a list of to whom you would like to give a gift then come up with a list for each person of the types of things they like. Of course, sometimes we don’t always do the ideal thing.

At one ladies group I belong to we pick a gift we think anyone in the group will like, then play Bingo as a way of letting members win a wrapped gift. They won’t know what gift they got until they unwrap it when the game is over. It includes the element of surprise which adds more fun to our holiday tradition.

lumiereHomemade gifts are special because they incorporate the elements of time & creativity which the receiver can appreciate. I made a jar lumiere recently using a jar, tissue, scissors, ribbon, bells and glue. You can use any kind of jar you like such as a Mason or pickle jar. Of course, you will need some sort of tea light to go inside. Battery operated is the safest. I hope to make more so I may give one to several family members this year.

Skill and craftsmanship may also play a part in the creation of a gift. My dad made side tables out of wood for my mom with carvings which matched the carvings on her dining room table chairs. They were beautiful. When I was out of college, my mom let me pick out what Christmas dish pattern I liked, then bought me a set of those dishes every year till I had a complete set. She actually worked in a china department and would hand pick the dishes she bought for me. My parents valued quality. My husband says, “No wonder I am spoiled.” Interesting I had picked the pattern with a cardinal for my Christmas dishes. I hadn’t written my story about a cardinal yet.

Something different, one year I surprised my husband by having his guitar refurbished. He hadn’t played it in years in part because he was unhappy with it. I wouldn’t recommend changing someone’s instrument without their permission. I felt ours was a unique situation and fortunately had a happy ending. His guitar sounds and looks nice, except for some accidental scratches I made on the pick guard. My husband said, “Oh well, it looks like I’ve done something with it.”

I hope you will feel free to be creative with your gift giving. Enjoy your holidays.

 

“The things that we love tell us what we are.” ____Thomas Aquinas. I buy things which look pretty to me. I wear Mary Jane shoes because of their comfort. They’re flat and have room for my toes. They are of reflection of who I am, what I value. I had a Betsy McCall doll when I was a child. I made a dresser with a mirror and chair for my doll using materials we had around the house. I used my creativity and sewing skills to put it together. My mother saved it. One day, when we were both older, she pulled it out of one of her closets. It was the closet in which she apparently kept the special things my sisters and I had made as children. She told me she thought I had done a good job making it. She treasured it and thought it worth holding onto all those years. When people’s houses are destroyed by a flood or such, it’s the irreplaceable items like photos and keepsakes that they miss the most. I have a little bunny craft which my mother made. I’ve kept it because it reminds me of my mother and her talents. It’s another reflection of what I love. I’m sure you have some things for similar reasons.  Cherish those memories.