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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Doesn't Kill Us...

We've probably all heard the old adage, "what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger." I'm gonna say that under most circumstances it's likely true as well. But as with all of life's lessons it usually comes with side effects, right?

Did it kill me to have a migraine interrupt my concentration for the past, well, how many days? No, I'm still here, I've learned some lessons. I'm probably stronger in some way, used less Excedrin than previous attacks. There are definitely some side effects though. Today I may no longer have much of a headache but my confidence is down. I keep asking myself how I 'let' three days go by without writing anything. 

What makes you question yourself? Can you see how it's also made you stronger? What lessons have you learned? I think we all have an internal desire to move forward. A few things separate those who do from those who dream.

Choices, self discipline and self image come to mind. We have to make the choice to do what we dream of doing. To take those steps towards making progress on our goals. The choice we have in front of us will take a positive self image to believe we CAN go out and do! Once we believe we can do it, and we've made the choice to go do it then we need self discipline to follow through.

"But my dreams are so big I can never realistically get there from here!" Well, first of all, if you want to cross over the bridge from dreamer to doer than you HAVE to drop the words never, can't and impossible from your vocabulary. Take baby steps. Yes, I am obsessed with choices and steps and lists. There are worse things. Um, there are, right? (I'm also a closet office supply addict, is that bad?) 

Seriously, break your dream into achievable steps, make yourself a list of how to and/or what to do to get to the next step. And don't forget to celebrate! No matter how you break up your steps you need to allow yourself a bit of celebration time for each one you check off your list. Now, don't let your party break all your concentration! But do enjoy every little success. Even if the success is just that it didn't kill you!!

Thankful for: Excedrin Migraine. No joke y'all, this stuff really works!

Lessons Learned:
*A few days of rest and no writing doesn't have to turn into a big gap...with a little new-found self discipline I jumped back on the horse (well, laptop) today and got better momentum than I've had in weeks!
*I'm addicted to interacting on Twitter. No seriously, I should have the RT button taken away - I got sent to "Twitter Jail" during the Daytona 500!
*There are a lot of reasons to give up...unless going forward is going to cause serious injury there is no reason to listen to any of them!
*I am not great at tuning out background distractions, like a rambunctious toddler and a talkative tween!
*If something doesn't kill us than not only may we experience the stronger thing but we can probably use it to tell a story, teach a lesson or write a blog! ;o)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shake Off The Rain Delay

I had a plan for today. Ok, I had hopes for today. Two things have dampened that quickly...a killer migraine and the longest Daytona 500 rain delay I've ever suffered through. So how do you put a happy spin on your day after that?

Employ some patience, creativity and it doesn't hurt to follow some funny folks on Twitter! It also helps when the kids are cooperative about naps and snuggle time. Seriously though, life is full of curve balls and we all have heard the expression about rolling "with the punches." It's true, we need to be able to adapt, we need to have an open mind, we need to remain positive and flexible.

Our situation may in so many cases be completely out of our control but our reaction to our circumstances is our choice and it's what we do have control over. No matter what goes on around us the choice remains ours whether we're going to make it a good day or not. Surrounding yourself with others who can also roll with the punches helps!

So, what's your best: #replacewordinmovietitlewithdanica ?

Thankful for: Lazy Sunday afternoons and Excedrin Migraine!

Lessons Learned:
*Rain delayed races are only fun for a certain amount of's has long passed it
*No matter how many years pass the sight of that black #3 into the wall at Daytona brings back the tears. Every time.
*A simple thing like a long, hot shower can work wonders for the downers!
*Ice Cream is another good cure for the rain delay blues!
*My low tolerance for disrespect takes a nosedive during a massive headache

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Does It Take?

A little over eleven years ago, NASCAR Nation and I watch in horror as our beloved (or in some cases enemy) black #3 took a now infamous turn into the wall on the last lap. I am not one who remembers things in vivid detail, call it a blessing or a curse I'm just plain forgetful. But some images are burned into even the most elusive of minds. That whole day is burned into mine.

In the months, etc that followed our beloved sport saw great strides taken in implementing new safety features/measures. Safer walls, HANS devices, and on and on... Watch the highlight clips from the past week and a half at Daytona to see how this technology is saving lives, there were several crashes to choose from where it is still with amazement we can watch them literally WALK away. Better yet, tune in for today's NNS or tomorrow's Daytona 500 to see it unfold live.

I can never think back on the amazing safety technology without the question coming to mind...what does it take? This is not limited to great strides in racing safety, or any sport, this is a universal concept. What does it take for people to stand up and take action instead of just sitting back and complaining? Or speculating? Or forewarning even? How drastic must the tragedy be before someone says, "we can't wait any longer, we need to fix this now."

Sadly, in many cases, it takes too much. It takes a life, or several lives. Think of the FDA and their recalls, sometimes way too late. Think of the war on terror and those who called for action years before that fateful September morning. Think about your own life. What does it take for your to make a change when you desperately need to? Is there something right now that you've been thinking of or meaning to change? What's holding you back? What will it take to step forward and fix it?

Thankful today: For all the safety devices that make it possible for a driver to walk away virtually uninjured from wrecks like this:

Lessons Learned:
*Knowing a driver will most likely walk away does not keep my heart and lungs from stopping until that window net drops!
*I am STILL learning the damages in my life from not fixing something soon enough...I may never stop learning that lesson, I just hope I can use it to help someone else someday
*I like my random blog just the way it is...even if no one is commenting or reading it much! ;o)
*What it takes to fix something is in direct proportion to what it is, who you are and where you're at in life
*Too little too late is something you can never take back...ever.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Making The Most Of...

On Friday most people celebrate the end of the week in some way, shape or form. Some party, some have family game night. Others may have a hot date, a few will enjoy relaxing with a good book. The idea is centered around making the most of your weekend, right when your weekend starts, right?

So how do we carry that feeling over into the whole week? What can we (realistically) do to bring that 'Friday feeling' to the rest of our week? I mean, c'mon, why are we letting Friday hog all the fun?

I can think of hundreds {literally!} of excuses for not making the most of every day of the week. But I say to those excuses: so what? I'm not saying to party everyday...unless you're in college, then this is the only time you'll probably get to do so. No every night can't be family night or date night. 

Well, Niki, then how do we make the most of everyday? How do we sneak in a little bit of that Friday feeling on the other days of the week? I thought you'd never ask!

It takes a little effort but not a lot of energy but it may take more discipline - especially if you're one of the people who puts every one else's needs ahead of your own. You've probably heard what I'm about to say before, but maybe not so I'll say it anyway. To make the most of every day you need to make time for YOU every day. Even if it's only 15 or 30 minutes you need to do something you really like to make at least one good memory for your day!

Push yourself to schedule in that 'you' time then make sure to fill it with something you love to do. Not sure what to fill your time with? Not sure you can fill your time 7 days a week? Make a list! {I know, I must be addicted to lists but they work!} Add to the list as often as you think of something else that brightens your day.

Try it for a week. Anything new you try you should really push for a month before you give up but just try this for a week and see if you don't want to keep going after that week...if you have a great week then push yourself for two weeks, three weeks, you get the idea! Good luck! :o)

Thankful for: sunshine and warm days! I'll be even more thankful if the tornado watch never turns into a warning today!!!

Lessons Learned:
*Help can be found in the most unlikely of places and people :o)
*The time between filing your taxes and receiving your refund is the longest part of the year for an adult (kind of like the span between Thanksgiving and Christmas for kids!)
*Blue mashed potatoes taste just as good as plain, maybe better because they're so much more fun!
*While I am a fan of hot weather outside, I am not as much of a fan of the heat when it's inside my house while I am trying to sleep
*It no longer feels weird to be thinking of the pool in if we were to put up the pool this month, well that might be insane weird.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Turning Around

So yesterday I talked about thankful living as being the basics. I rambled about the need for getting back to those basics, pushing ourselves to be thankful...but if you've long since abandoned thankfulness than how do you turn around?

I have said before that taking small steps is a great way to break up a goal into manageable tasks. This is no different! So, if you want to get serious about getting thankful here's what I want you to do: grab a pen/pencil/marker/etc and paper. Right now. Go, I'll wait. Got something to write with and on? Okay, draw a line down the middle to make two columns. It's alright if it isn't straight, no one's looking and there's no show & tell later. Promise.

The left column I want you to label, 'Needs.' Can you guess what your right column is? Yup, it's your wants column. Now, I want you to write down at least five needs in your first column. Take your time, really think about what you have to have in order to live. Like those "what would you bring to a deserted island" exercises only I'm not sending you to an island. Why are you still reading this, make your needs list!

Got your five needs? Did you get on a roll and come up with more? Hmmm, look them over and say them out loud. Are they truly needs? Only you can answer that. Moving on. You know what's next? Wrong. I'm not gonna ask you to write five wants. Nope. Not gonna do it. I want you to write down ten wants. I think you'll be surprised at how fast you'll come up with them. To keep from going over, number them 1-10. Why? Well, the mom in me wants to say, 'because I said so' but I'll level with you. It's important to get to that tenth one and experience how it feels when you need to stop at ten.

Which column was easier? Were you surprised? Did you write down 'wants' that you already have? Or did you put down things you are wishing for? Next week I'm going to come back to these lists. No, I promised no show & tell. But I do want you to save your list so you can take a look at it again. For now, make yourself a reminder. Whatever works best for you. You can go digital with a calender reminder on your computer or smart phone. You can go basic with a post it note on your mirror, fridge or coffee maker. Whichever you choose make sure it will remind you every day for the next week to say out loud one thing you are thankful for.

"I'm already pretty good at giving thanks Niki!" Okay, so why are you still reading this? Just kidding, really, I am thankful you've stuck with me. Honest! Well, if you are reading this, feeling pretty thankful and want a bigger challenge than shoot for 2-3 thankfuls per day. If you're going digital, try setting 2 or 3 different reminders for various times in your day. Post it peeps? You should post in 2 or 3 locations, say the bathroom mirror, the fridge and maybe your car. Find what works for you and push!

Thankful for: You! If you are reading my ramblings than I am most thankful for you! :o)

Lessons Learned:
*Turning around towards something good when we've strayed the positive path in life is made more manageable not only in small tasks but also in a group.
*You don't have to meet in person to be friends.
*My kids will take cues from me. If I'm thankful, they'll get there. If I'm crabby, they'll whine the day away!
*Distraction comes in too many forms to mention...must find better way to stay focused!
*No matter how many hours you have in a day, you'll always wish you had at least one more...I just need to make the most of the ones I'm given!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Getting Back To Basics

I was conversing with a new Twitter friend last night and I realized that what I had originally had in mind for this blog and what I've actually done with it are a little off sync. I didn't want to stray far from my devotional writing roots, if you will, but mostly I'm so random in here that a stranger wouldn't guess that about me!

So, today, back to basics! I want to keep things light, casual and uplifting, maybe a little comical. I need your help! Please tell me what you'd like to see here. How to stay thankful? When to throw your arms in the air, laughing so you don''t cry? Why I still believe in miracles? I am trying to brainstorm several topics at a time so I won't run out of things to say!

A friend on facebook had a great reminder about being thankful this morning. I think it is SO easy to forget to say we're put off our thanks until later, eventually never getting around to it. We need to say thanks in every moment, especially when we don't think there's anything to be thankful for. We live in an age of 'gotta have it now,' and 'different, more, better.' It can lead to an unsatisfactory existence. 

We see what everyone else has and we wish for it. We hope for it. We pine away for it. We never notice when we cross over the line of challenging ourselves to move forward into the realm of greed. We blur the boundaries between wants and needs so badly that we can't tell them apart. If we never push ourselves to find  the blessings in our lives during the tough times than we won't recognize the good times when we start living them again...because nothing will ever be enough. 

If we get stuck in the dimension where our wants become our needs than someone else will always have more than us. There will be an unending supply of something better just out of our grasp. But it is never too late to turn around and get back to basics! It will most definitely be harder the longer it's been since you veered off on the wrong path but it's never too late. 

I'm not going to spend every day talking about being thankful but I am going to 'continue' this thought tomorrow by delving into how to push yourself back to basics. I'm also going to begin ending every blog with one thing I am thankful for on top of my lessons learned for the day. I hope you'll join me on this journey, I can't tell you where it's going to lead but I have a feeling we'll have some fun along the way!!

Thankful for: Mornings my toddler sleeps in past 8 so I can type uninterrupted!

Lessons Learned: 
*Just about the time you're ready to give up on them, your tween surprises you with the good inside them that they were hiding from you
*Knowing you're halfway through the week does not make Wednesday any closer to's still two more days! Or it's only two more days! 
*Being thankful isn't just something to do, it's a way of life we should strive for, it should become a need like air, bread & water
*Whoever said, "If you want what you already have than you'll always be satisfied," was exactly right! 
*I look forward to library day more than my son does! I can't wait to fill my canvas bag full of more novels I haven't yet read!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mmmm, Pancakes

The day before Lent begins has many labels. Mardis Gras, Paczki Day, Fat Tuesday & Pancake Day come to mind. What others have you heard? 

In honor of Pancake Day I have decided to make pancakes for dinner for the kiddos and I. (Paczkis were our fave when we lived in Chicago but haven't found a place to buy them here.) Pancakes are an artistic expression in my house. Many times the discussion over what to put in them is far overshadowed by the one over what color they will be.

Yup, I'm the goofy mom who adds food coloring to almost every batch of pancakes I make. My daughter's favorite question to her friends the morning after a sleepover, "what color pancakes do you want?" Guest's choice, of course! So, if you come for a stay here be sure to know what color you'd like! (The choices in case you're wondering: Pink, purple, yellow, orange, blue, green)

Tell me, would you be more or less inclined to reach for the pancakes if they were "dyed" a colorful hue? Please comment below, keep it clean! :o)

Oh yeah, Lessons Learned:
*Boxed Pancakes are faster but once you've made from scratch enough times you won't mind the minute or two more of gathering the best ingredients!
*Pancakes are more fun with colors and with mix-ins!
*Lent is a time of serious reflection; the day before Lent begins is a time of serious eating
*Not everyone is brave enough to try a green pancake!! (unless they watched you mix in the food coloring!)
*Writing this has made me begin to wonder what other foods I could add some fun colors to!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ever Have One Of Those Days?

The kind when you just want to bury your head in the sand and pretend no one can see you? Sometimes the day starts out that way and slowly gets better. Other times it starts that way and stays that way. Maybe the day started out good and has quietly snuck up to buried head status. 

The final example I can think of...the roller coaster. My day started out feeling like I downed a bottle of Ouzo alone last night. (I didn't so it was so not fair!) I had a splitting headache. I had to go out in the muddy traces of snow (if you can call it that with as little as what stuck!) when I wanted to crawl back into bed. 

It got better and now it's backsliding again. So what do you do to avoid being swallowed up by the khaki crystals? Do you just let them swallow you whole? Do you fight fire with fire? Or will you catch more flies with honey?

Okay, so either I've lost you in mixed metaphors and odd visuals OR you're laughing so hard you drink is in danger of becoming a sinus rinse. Well, maybe somewhere in between. :o) But laughter is key! You need a good laugh to shake off the gloom. Battle your inner cranky with a laugh-fest!

Lessons learned:
*Even when it seems things are getting better they can still take a turn for the worse. Hang on folks, gonna be a bumpy ride!
*Always have a laugh backup, don't put all your laugh-hope in one basket (or joke, or person for that matter!).
*My kids can either be the cause or the cure of the cranky's but they're always involved! :oP
*I sometimes concentrate so hard on writing or revising that the cranky's sneak up on anyone who dares interrupt. Must work on being less startle-able!
*When all else fails, write a blog and feel your spirits lift as you wander into a fantasy world where hundreds or thousands of people read & love your advice!

Word of the Day is Push

I had to push myself to type this blog today. I tried my small steps to see if I could find my inspiration there. No such luck. I tried blaming my ongoing sinus battle (which I was losing big time today) but truthfully I was a distracted procrastinator!

I opened this blog post page more than two hours ago. I let myself become distracted! I napped (okay, not procrastination, that was an immune tactic to fight off this crud I've been at war with), read books, took a long bath, watched movies...well, you get the picture. I was the queen of procrastination and I realized a few minutes ago that I've been procrastinating on revising my manuscript as well!

I'm  not going to bore you with my self-diagnosed psycho babble about the why behind either of my procrastination projects. I am going to say that when I thought I would just skip a day on my blog (who reads it anyway, right?) I told myself NO! I pushed at my own fears, self-consciousness, laziness and I made myself get on with it.

Does the best writing come out when you push? Maybe not, but if you keep pushing then I believe that one day you will push through whatever barrier in our minds is really holding us back and we will burst through that dam into a realm of inspiration, quality and (hopefully) lots of precious words!

Lessons Learned:
*Procrastination is NEVER a good idea (like waiting until now to type this!)
*Snow is easier to handle when you know it's going to melt in less than 24 hours
*I may not survive another 3 year old - who knew boys could throw tantrums like that??? And they're SO obviously faked!
*Sleep should not be avoided, you can never truly "catch" up!
*Vitamin C is my best friend! (Okay, okay, ONE of my BF's ~ I have many!!)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What a GREAT Day

What a day!!! I am gonna just lay it right out there, the past few months have been beyond rough around here. We have had more bad days than good, which can really wear on you. But! It so totally makes you appreciate the good days all that much more! And today! Woohoo! Today was a GOOD day!!!!

Last night my daughter had a friend sleepover. Normally the next morning after breakfast the sleepover guest returns home. Well, the girls were having fun, minding their manners and being helpful so I called her parents and asked if she could hang with us until mid-afternoon. She stayed and we all took advantage of the gorgeous Carolina sun and warm temperatures! (The thermometer read 67 at one point today, in mid-February no less!!!)

However, as the day progressed in the way that lazy Saturdays do my 3-year-old son never had a chance for a nap. This blew up on us shortly after supper! Wow! Cranky isn't a strong enough word for the actions of my little man! Bless his heart, you could just tell he was overstimulated and overtired because he didn't really know what he wanted, one minute he asked for one thing and one he asked for the total opposite. He cried when I laid him in bed but he was asleep in less than two minutes. Poor guy!

Well, things I learned today span from toddler to tastiness and I think that's another layer on why today was SO great! I read while the kids played at the park and since I'm now in a different place (aspiring author instead of a simple reader or fan) I found myself thinking over how a certain word should have been used twice in one sentence or how the description was a little awkward and didn't flow with the rest of the Chapter.

I also learned to love cooking all over again, it's the most fun when hubby and I collaborate over a spectacularly simple yet tasty meal! Oh, and I love when I get my family to try a veggie they think they don't like (cauliflower) and they end up LOVING it! Now that I've finally tuned out the TV (well, sorta) I think I've also learned that, um...wait, what was I...OOOOO, look, Dale Jr!!! I gotta go!

Lessons Learned:
*I should not watch TV when I'm trying to be productive (especially when it's the first NASCAR broadcast on a non-cable channel in how many months?)
*Impulsive meals can be AMAZING for the taste buds!
*My toddler is not fun after 5:00pm if he's missed his nap!
*The more I get into trying to revise my manuscript the more critical my readers' eye becomes. I found myself stopping and "rewriting" in my mind a few parts of the novel I read today.
*I should NOT keep the TV on when I'm trying to...oh, wait, did I, look it's...

Uh-Oh, Technically I Missed a Day!

Ok, so it still FEELS like Friday, because I've only been home from work for an hour and I'm still wide awake. Does this count as skipping a day? As long as I type another Saturday blog I think I'm gonna clear myself from that! Because I'm on a roll doggone it!

Gotta love Fridays, even people who are perpetually cranky are usually bearable on a Friday. There's something in the air that says, "be happy, it's the weekend!" Do you feel it? It's kind of funny because I'm sure scientifically and all that jazz I'm sure we'd be told that the same percentage of people are the same amount of emotions on a Friday as any other day...kind of like how they swear that there's no "real" difference when there's a full moon. But if you've ever worked retail, banking, hospital, __________ (fill in profession that I'm missing?) then you KNOW the full moon means EVERYONE acts NUTS!!!

So why does Friday get us feeling so good? Is it because the week is over? Is it because it was "instilled" in us from an early age, "Thou shalt love Fridays"? Or is it one of those things we should not over-analyze? Like cookie dough ice cream's healing qualities? Should we just go with it? Maybe so, hey, it can't be bad if everyone's feeling happier than normal, can it?

Well, I think for me it's more habit but there is more time for family fun on the weekends since hubby doesn't work too many, I work sporadically and my daughter won't have to get up for school...could just be me! Maybe Fridays give us hope. Hope is essential for survival. I read this awesome quote on goarch,org this week about how if faith were a tree than hope was its branches. Let's grab onto the branch of hope that is Friday and claim the positive features to springboard us into a great weekend!!!

Lessons Learned:
*Procrastination during the day leads to missing dinner and posting an overdue blog. (Not that I think anyone was sitting on pins and needles waiting for this but I'm skirting the edges of breaking a deal with myself)
*Jimmy Fallon is distracting when I'm trying to type ;o)
*Fridays are fun 90% of the time...even when you have nothing to do
*No matter what I do this post will show a date of 2-18-12 which makes it look like I missed a day
*Compromise is crucial in all walks of life, including making a deal with me, myself & I ;o)

***Niki's Thoughts email should go out tomorrow, thanks for your patience my email subscribers!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Small Steps To The Bigger Picture

Today was one of those days that was perfect for staying in your sweats or jammas, curling up with a good book or movie and generally taking it easy. Add to that the aches and pains that come with fighting off a cold and you've got me avoiding the computer and this blog for a better part of the day. I checked my emails and social medias but my heart wasn't in it. I wasn't the only one, hubby has worked odd, alternating hours this week so he was relaxing and I think my 3 year old may be battling off the same cold as me because he mostly wanted to snuggle.

I read more than one book today and I will confess I most likely will read one more before I got to bed. I was not thinking I had anything to write about today and sat staring at the blank screen for longer than I'll admit. I finally worked this post backwards, starting with my lessons learned bullet points. Sometimes small steps can get us moving in bigger ways.

That's how my novel manuscript came into being. I had an idea for a short story, I was going to try to write it up to submit for publication in an e-Mag. Next thing I knew I have 21 chapters and over 50,000 words. And I haven't really set the scene as much as I ought to, to help my readers really feel like they are in the story with my main characters so I am hopeful it will end up closer to 80,000 by the time I am finished with all my revisions.

Relaxing in your sweats or jammas can seem like a small little downtime. The danger lies in letting it consume all our "free" time. We can't let ourselves fall into a pattern of relaxing all day everyday because the temptation will turn into a lazy habit that can't easily be undone. I learned this the first month I was home with my son. He won't let me have a lazy day everyday, he's 3, but there were many days that I would read a book while he napped when I should have been cleaning! We need to use the small steps in our life to move towards positive and challenging directions! I think it will surprise us how much we can do when we break each bigger picture (like a full blog post!) into smaller pieces and take it one at a time.

What small steps will you use to get to your next goal?

Lessons Learned:
*Rest when your body tells you to...but don't confuse a cold with a blue mood or you'll never get out of your pj's
*For me, reading is as addicting as delicious food...I pick up a book, finish it in a few hours and almost instantly am drawn to pick up another. 
*I can cook and read at the same time but I can't read while folding/hanging the laundry
*Reading and resting go very well together...unless you need sleep...I haven't yet figured out how to read while I sleep ;o)
*Reading is essential for good writing. Seeing what works and does not work in other authors' published materials gives great opportunity to take notes and apply them to my own manuscript.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Exercise Is Not My Strength

I have a Wii Fit Plus program and sporadically I'll get consistent enough to work out with it on a daily basis. I'll get excited about having more energy. I'll block off a certain every day to exercise. Inevitably, something gets in my way one day. Then I'll use an excuse the next day. By the third day of no exercise I am "too tired" and that becomes a daily reason until I forget to even talk myself out of it anymore.

Writing is exercise for my brain. So is reading. I love to read and I can lose myself in a book so badly I'll forget there are other people in the same room. It's like I enter a different reality and the book becomes my surroundings while my real surroundings fade away. Writing is this euphoria times a thousand for me. I'm, sure every writer goes through their own process but I wonder if it's as extreme as mine or not?

This novel I've written is so real to me I feel like I need to call up Zoe (MC) and ask her out for a cup of coffee so we can chat a bit more about how accurately I am (or maybe I'm not) portraying her life. When I sleep I often dream in snapshots of her story and what other twists it maybe has taken. I wake up wondering if now is the time I should check myself into a mental health facility or if it's just one too many glasses of merlot before bed.

But my ineptitude for consistent exercise carries over into my writing often times. In the past I have gotten consistent on a project (Niki's Thoughts devotional followers are nodding their heads collectively here) and then fallen off into the nether world of too few words and probably too many Law & Order reruns. I am excited to be writing daily on this blog but there's a little nagging voice in the back of my mind asking how long will it last this time?

I've decided to fight that voice by immersing myself into the world of writing as much as possible. I'm connecting with authors and editors in the social media world by following their blogs and twitter feeds. I'm seeking out alone time on the computer so I can type this blog, even if there's no real common theme yet. Most of all, I have admitted to myself something that it has taken me all my nearly 33 years to realize: I am passionate about writing. I may not always have a devotional to share, I may not always have the same topic to blog about, I may tweet serious one day and funny the next but I live to write!

I'm going to fight inconsistency by embracing this new-found love. I'm going to tell the voice in the back of my head that I want this more than I've ever wanted anything for me. Ever. I'll debate away excuses with the passion in my heart and the will to push past the road blocks like never before. And when I feel like I don't have even two words to say then maybe I'll just type one. It's human to stumble, to fall, to wallow. I'm going to lean on God when I'm weak and I'm going to battle my own bad habits with words, oh so many words!!

Lessons Learned:
*If I can quit smoking for the health and well being of my children than I can quit allowing excuses to block my writing journey.
*Not every day is going to be mega productive but I will push to write something every day so I keep exercising my brain.
*It is normal to be discouraged at how long the editing and revising process is going to be, if I want to be a real writer I will push past the urge to rush it because I want to polish my novel so much it shines!
*It is likely I will never become a world famous author but my dream is not fame, it is just to be published.
*Laughing at my own work and how much help it needs keeps me realistic, grounded and smiling!! :o)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For The Love Of...

For the love of money... For the love of country... For the love of your life... For the love of _______ <--- insert overused cliche'

Everyone's thoughts turn to love when the calendar turns to the fourteenth day of February and today I wonder "What's love got to do with it?" I'm not saying I don't believe in love, I'm not putting down love...what I am trying to ask is maybe better put as in what way are you incorporating love into your life? Because if it's just a word than Tina Turner's on to something - "it's a secondhand emotion"...and if you're living with love as something secondhand in your life you are missing out big time.

I'm gonna go traditional "Niki's Thoughts" for a moment and say that the Bible is very clear on love being unconditional and being how we should treat every single person on this earth. No matter what. Not just those who love us, not just those who are kind. Everyone! God's already given us the ultimate example, will we try to mirror His selfless love somehow in our lives?

On a day when most everyone is trying to show love I think it's a good time to also reflect inwardly on how we are sharing love. Do we freely share our love with all we come in contact with? Or are we stingy with our love, reserving it for an elite few in our inner circles. Well, I think you know which one we should be pushing towards, right?

If we look at my song reference to Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" as a "How-Not-To Guide" then let's turn to Whitney Houston's (remake) song "I Will Always Love You" and remember to show our love at every given chance. We are all reminded often that life is too short to wait to show we care. BTW, I love you, my friends, and I hope you can see it in the way I act. But if not, please do let me know it!! 

Lessons Learned:
*Unconditional love is HARD! But when we stumble we need to just wipe off our scuffmarks and keep trying!
*There are different levels of love, the love we have for our neighbor will be different than the love for a child, & different still from our love for our spouse
*We need to love God above all else otherwise we will have false visions of true love
*Love does not have to be serious all the time! Love can be fun! Ask someone who's recently engaged? Newlywed? First love? Enjoy every moment because you will need to lean on those through the rough patches!
*Not a lesson just a note: I pray for the family and close friends of Whitney Houston, her death was tragic, her career was legendary but only those closest to her really know what was lost this past weekend.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Long Week Ahead

Get ready to laugh, do NOT take a drink of ANYTHING while you read this...

I was reading thru my Twitter feed to see what I missed while I slept (nasty necessity, thinking of hooking up a coffee IV so I can avoid it) and I read a friend's post that began with #FF (Follow Friday for my non-tweeters out there) and so I was like, oooo, I have a few to share! Hubby looked over my shoulder and asked, "Who's #FF?" (He's a bit of a twitter virgin himself) and I told him what it stands for. "But it's Monday!" Oh Boy! (Needless to say I quickly deleted my tweet!)

So, I'm thinking this week is going to be extra long if I thought today was Friday. Ugh! Waiting to hear on a job opening, planning out meals, fighting with the checkbook and cleaning the house is not going to help it pass faster! I need to get lost in my book editing/revising but that is SO hard to do while also entertaining a toddler. (Though he is doing a nice job of entertaining himself by dragging around his plastic b-ball hoop right now!) 

Lessons Learned:
*Think before you type! (And check a calendar once in a while!)
*Be open to laughing at yourself, or you'll cry. A lot.
*Coffee is a lifeline, use it but don't abuse it (Wait, is there such a thing?)
*Write down the funny things your kids say when they say them or you will forget (and then you can't embarrass them years from now!)
*Find time for what your passionate about every day! Life is too short not to.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

If I Could Just Quit Shaking

I used to love getting up in front of a group of people, to give a speech, to play a part, whatever. I am who I am and I am okay with that. I'm goofy, I'm upbeat, I smile a lot and I am affectionate - I prefer hugs to handshakes every time!

So I can't figure out why I was shaking in my boots (literally, in my cute black boots) when I made an announcement at church. Ten minutes later my hands were still not steady! What's up with that? I mean, I know most of the people I was talking to, they know me. So, what gives?

I think maybe because I was not up there representing just myself but a group of amazing ladies that I have the honor of serving and volunteering with. That's what I'm going with. Because the alternative is that as I get older I am becoming a chicken and as my tween would say, "That's so not cool."

Lessons Learned:
*I can write notes all I want, I'm still gonna talk too fast and shake in my boots
*My friends and family love me for me so I really need to stop getting nervous
*I want to do justice to a group of amazing ladies who give their hearts and time to a lot of great causes
*I REALLY do not tolerate cold weather - unrelated but seriously important to me! LOL
*I sometimes smile so much it hurts, which will probably lead to a lot of wrinkles...but I don't care I like it when my smile becomes contagious and makes others join in the fun! :o) Go on, you know you wanna smile too now! :o)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Running Circles In Place

"We could drive in circles on these ramps for hours if we wanted!"

I like to drive, I usually am the one who wheels us around town. I do have roads I love to avoid though! I am more of a back-roads kinda gal, I prefer the quiet 2-lane rural highway through the horse fields and cow pastures. Which is why I loathe driving on Highway 150 in Mooresville. And Harlem Avenue in the Chicago suburbs. Plus there's Midlothian Turnpike in Virginia. Yikes!

Tonight, as I contemplated taking the long way home to keep from my arch enemy road, I thought about what else I avoid. Well, there's the obvious: laundry! I don't mind the washing and the drying...but the putting away, UGH! I put off dealing with the bills until I absolutely have no choice. I even stay away from talking on the phone - which is odd because: a} I usually have a lot to say; and b} I usually enjoy talking once I'm actually on the phone.

I guess there's a metaphor to be drawn from avoiding one road by circling around and around on another, something about how we'll never move forward and grow in our lives if we are avoiding the tough or uncomfortable parts. We've got to take it all in, good, bad and in between, and learn our lessons from each road our journey leads us down. 

Lessons learned today:
*It does not kill me to let someone else drive (in fact I didn't even get carsick)
*Life's giving me a journey of laughter & love that I am blessed to enjoy
*Laughter abounds when you have children in your life (today my 3 yr old raised his hand and said, "I want to!" when I said don't spit in the mixing bowl)
*Vitamin C is the BEST weapon when fighting allergies that want to become an infection
*The wind & cold won't kill me (but if I don't stop complaining about winter someone else might!)

Have a blessed night! Hope ya'll are staying warm wherever you may be!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Learning Can Be Fun! (Usually)

Revising or self-editing a novel is a great way to learn just how many mistakes when you write stream-of-consciousness an entire book. I'm only through Chapter One (of 21) and I have a page (front AND back) of notebook paper with all the edits I need to work on.

Potty Training both a girl and a boy teaches us that the vast differences between the sexes begins at an early age! I'm talking the mindset, the personality, the only thing that is consistent is that mostly ALL humans at some point in their lives are more stubborn than a mule.

Teaching respect begins at home, we know this, but in the pop-culture world where rebellion rocks and respect is an ancient term this quickly is becoming an "it takes a village" task! I can't remember a lot of my childhood (part curse, part blessing!) but I remember specifically the first time I disrespected my mom...I made the mistake of back talking her in front of my Grandfather. I had a red mark on my cheek for the entire day! I was 13. I was never disrespectful like that again, and it was the one and only time I was ever physically disciplined (far as I can remember but I think that would be memorable even for me). I'm not saying we all need our parents to come smack our kids, not even close. I AM saying that we need to find a discipline that shocks the respect back into this next generation.

This Dad's got the right idea:

Maybe the gun was a bit much but I'm guessing hoping his daughter learns that respect goes both ways and when you shatter it too often you get bit. (Or your computer gets shot.) If not for all the cuss words I would be showing that clip to my daughter - she has her moments but I know she's got a good heart, she just needs that shock value!

I think if we remember that EVERY situation in life has a lesson to be learned, if we approach those lessons armed with good humor and an open mind then we will find that all this "learning something new each day" really can be fun! C'mon, would you rather stay right where you are, nothing changes, never learning from your mistakes (or others')? Or would you rather fall down, laugh at yourself, pick yourself back up and make some notes about what you've learned?

I'm spending 2012 looking for life's lessons every day...wanna join me?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

So Much For Consistency!

Consistency - it's overrated, right? 

Okay, so maybe not but isn't half the fun of a totally random person the fact that you NEVER know what to expect from them? If you're new to Niki's Thoughts you will soon find out that I can indeed be that random person! Usually a happy random, still random nonetheless.

So what have I been up to while in hiding the past month or so? Learning that I cannot KIS (Keep It Simple), that 3's are always harder than 2's and that if 6th grade is survived we ALL deserve a party this June! Oh, and I am capable of spewing out a novel. Yes, spewing is most definitely the appropriate word here for I had the entire 50,000 words or my rough draft written before I went back through and figured out where the Chapters began and ended!

I am now working on the painstaking process of revisions...well, sorta...this Blog thing is a creative outlet to, um, uh, help keep my brain waves fresh. Yeah, that's it, fresh perspective! Well, also, I have a couple of VERY AWESOME and PATIENT and GENEROUS friends who are taking a preview and giving me some much needed feedback on what's not working. (Last night I found 16 things in the first 4 pages that I need to edit so these are SERIOUSLY GENEROUS friends, and ladies-you know who you are-I love you!)

I also submitted my interest in working for a new Social Media/Branding Company that I think would be a DREAM JOB to get so I'm keeping fingers crossed on that too. I would LOVE to work in a job where I can use my creative thinking skills and my passion for writing in all forms, please keep me in your prayers!

Things I've Learned:
*So NOT kidding about the 3's - my son is keeping me on my toes and then some...mostly it's fun but some days there's not enough coffee & merlot available!
*I have a MAJOR passion for writing and this is what I need to be doing (besides being a wife, mom, friend, volunteer, etc)
*Red wine is good for the heart and for the nerves
*Writing can make me somewhat insomniac
*I get distracted easily, like now, I really want to check my Twitter instead of finishing th...wait, what was I doing?

Well, I don't know if anyone out there is reading this but if you are I hope you smiled at least once. Life is too short to take everything so seriously! Laugh daily, love unconditionally and pass along a few smiles to strangers!