Category: Musings about Life

The ABC’s of Friendship – Friends for a Season

season

 

The ABC’s of Friendship

Part 3 – Friends for a Season

This week in our discussion on friendship, I want to share about those friends who come into our lives for only a short period of time.  In a poem, by an Unknown Author, some of the reasons for a friendship of this nature are discussed.  In part, the poem reads…

“When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.”

Often times we can’t see the “reasons” for a friendship of this nature until they are long over. I recall a very dear friend of mine that came into my life when we started attending the same church. She was much older than me, but we connected in a way I’d never really connected with anyone before. As time progressed, we shared more and more – she was definitely an A+ friend as I turned to her as my world and my marriage started to fall apart. Through her life experience, she was able to walk me through a very difficult time in my life and, I believe, her guidance helped saved my marriage. We remained friends for years after that, but then my job required me to move. Oh we promised, we’d stay in touch and we did…for a while.  Several circumstances and events occurred which caused us to grow further apart. I was hurt. I was angry. I was sad. I missed the woman I’d become so close to. Eventually, after much pain – I let her go.

I wish I’d realized the lesson about friendships for a reason  as I could’ve saved myself so much heartache by fighting to hold on to something that I needed to let go. The season was over.  Because it was a friendship that endured many years, I think it was challenging for me to say good-bye to something and someone who’d meant so much to me.

We all want and need friendships – they are part of the fabric of our lives. The important thing is to recognize when a friendship is coming to an end and be thankful for the time that this person walked along life’s path with you.

*hugs*

Nicole

The ABC’s of Friendship

ABC

One of the most prominent relationships a writer has to focus on, especially a romance writer, is the hero/heroine relationship. Just as important, to me, is who is going to play the role of the heroine’s best friend.  Behind every strong, real-world heroine, is an awesome best friend.

From the time we are old enough to walk, we start to understand the value of friendship. I recently heard a quote in a movie that said, “Friendship is lot rarer than love. There’s nothing guaranteed in it for anyone.”

At first, it appears to be a very extreme quote but when you stop and think about it and think about some of your experiences with friendship, you have to admit there’s some truth.  We’ve all had friendships that were one-sided, a give and take where you had to be all the give and your “friend” did all the taking.

Our friendships are a fluidic, ever-changing type of deal.  I have lots of Facebook “friends” According to Facebook, the number currently stands at 333. Plus, I have some friends that aren’t on Facebook *gasp* LOL  Out of all the “friends” I have, only a very small percentage are what I would consider “A” friends – the person I call first when anything bad or good happens, the one who knows all my secrets (and still loves me anyway!) The other 98% rank somewhere between B – Z on the friendship scale.

Over the next few blog entries, we’re going to explore the ABC’s of friendship and, as a bonus, I’ll share about the Level A friends for the real world heroines in my stories. As you consider the friendships YOU have, how would you rank your friends? Do you have more in the beginning part of the alphabet or only a select few while everyone else fills out the rest of the letters?

 

*hugs*

Nicole

Finding Balance

balance

Earlier this month, someone asked me if I was making any New Year’s resolutions.  My simple answer:  No.

Now it’s not that I don’t like to play along with the majority and adhere to the tradition of making a resolution (though history has taught me if I can make it even to the end of January, I’m ahead of the game). As I mature (i.e. get older), I’ve realized that for at least the past couple of decades, my resolution comes down to one thing:  Finding Balance

I suppose each person has their own ideas about what balance means, but for me it’s the achievement of managing the spiritual, physical, and emotional elements of my life. Only three areas, piece of cake right?

Not so much… LOL

Within those three categories are a plethora of demands, responsibilities, desires, and activities that occur on a regular basis. Unfortunately, they don’t consult with each other to make sure there aren’t conflicting demands on my time.

For example, when I focus…and I mean really focus, on a healthy life style (eating correctly, exercising, getting enough sleep), other areas undoubtedly suffer (my writing time, quality time with family and friends, and household responsibilities).  Why?  Because exercising takes time and, to get the results I need to make it worth my while, lots of time.

I also confess that I can really only focus on one or two areas of improvement in my life at a time. I’m too easily distracted to stay focused 100% of the time.

So what is the answer to finding that elusive balance?  Are you ready?

I don’t know.

(You didn’t really think after scores of self-help, time management and motivation books made the shelves that I’d be holding on to the answer to one of life’s biggest challenges, did you?  🙂 )

What I do know is that balance is worth the effort.  Every day, I start with the mantra, “And so we begin again…”  Some days I do a pretty good job, other days – not so much.

Bottom line:  Life is an evolving and ever changing set of circumstances to which we have to adapt.  It’s not easy and there will be many successes along with many failures. I try to remember that while balance is my destination, I don’t want to miss the joy of the journey. So whatever (or whoever) happens to get my attention on any given day, I want to be sure I enjoy being in the moment with that person or activity rather than focusing on what I’m NOT doing.

Best of luck to you on your trek toward balance and may you enjoy the journey each and every day!

Live, Love, Laugh

Nicole

Decisions – Decisions

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We are fresh off a huge decision making season.  From choosing the perfect gift to give our friends and family to whether or not we’ll make the dreaded new year’s resolutions for the umpteenth time to the thousands of decisions – both minor and major – we make every single day.

My mom has a saying she shared with me from the time I was a small child. Anytime I would complain about the direction of my life, or lack thereof, she reminded me. “Life’s all about choices.” Of course, this sage advice was often followed with another reminder, “You’ve made your bed…now you have to lay in it.”

I don’t know about you, but often times I take the privilege and freedom to make decisions and choices in my life entirely for granted. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “With great freedom, comes great responsibility.”  During a Facebook chat with a young woman in the Philippines recently, she was fussing about the fact her parents were making all of the decisions for her. She stressed to me that “I” got to make ALL the decisions in my life.  She’s right. I do. I reminded her (along with myself) that I also had to live with ALL the consequences as well. (I make my bed…now I have to lay in it.)

Life isn’t easy – we all know this. And unlike the characters in my fiction novels, when I make choices for them…if I don’t like it, I simply hit the backspace or delete key and try again. Unfortunately, we can’t do that in real life.

Many of our choices are simple: What do I eat for breakfast today? One spoon or two of sugar in my tea?  Many are not: Should I stay in this relationship? How can I get through to my kids? Where will I go to college?

These decisions come with far greater and longer lasting consequences (potentially good or bad) that can’t easily be undone with a stroke of some keys on your laptop and often times involve more than just ourselves.

While I’d love to be able to share some great piece of wisdom or plotting wheel to help you ensure you always make the right choices, we both know I’d be blowing smoke if I even tried. What I will share is that when plotting a book, I have to focus on both short and long term goals for my characters and their story arcs. I try to do the same in my own life. What seems horrible today…will it seem as bad when I look back on it in 5, 10, or 20 years?  Is taking the easy way out today and avoiding conflict going to serve me well in the long run?

I could go on and on, but the truth is each of us has our own set of questions we must ask ourselves to deal with the choices life gives us today. I want to close my blog with some of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs – words that remind me each day I can start anew and make fresh choices to alter – whether in a grand way or a subtle way – what the story of my life will be.

“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfeld

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

The Importance of Tradition

traditions As the holiday season is upon us, it’s a time to think about traditions.  I always love hearing what traditions people grew up with and which ones they carried on to their family.  It’s satisfying … realizing something you’re doing today will be cherished enough to be repeated for generations to come.

I’ll never forget some of the holiday traditions I had growing up.  Each year, my dad, sister and I would go out and find the perfect “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree to cut down and bring home.  Mom would always have some hot chocolate waiting (and cookies sometimes) to help warm us up before the decorating started.  As was the case with all the household duties, each of us had responsibilities when it came to the tree.  Dad always got it set up in the stand and put the water in the base (important to keep the needles on a live tree for as long as possible) along with stringing the lights. My sister and I were in charge of ornaments and then mom finished it off with the icicles.

When finished, we’d turn off the lights in the living room and turn on the Christmas tree lights.  I still remember the awe and wonder I’d feel every year when the raggedy little tree we’d bring home would transform into this magical, beautiful center of attention in our living room that got me excited about Christmas morning.

As an adult, I still rememeber with fondness those times we worked together as a family to create something magical. To me, that’s what traditions do – they bring us together and help give us a sense of family – a feeling of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. Whether its the Christmas tree or Black Friday shopping or the tradition that says no matter what time you get up on Christmas morning, you can open your stocking gifts from Santa 🙂  It was our family code – it was how WE did Christmas!

Each person has different traditions they hold dear and makes us, and our families, unique and special.  So when the craziness of the holiday season threatens to overtake you, find some peace and comfort in your traditions. And, if you happened to grow up in a household that didn’t honor family traditions, there’s no time like the present to start a few of your own 🙂

As the holiday season is underway, I wish for each of you less stress, more love and laughter, and, of course, the joy of tradition!

Until next time

*hugs*

Nicole

The Power of Connection

nurturing-connections

 

At one time in your life or another, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, but WHO you know.”

The power of networking has long been recognized as a part of doing business, getting ahead, getting things done. Regardless of what industry or profession you’ve chosen, I’d wager you’ve witnessed how this aspect of the job is highly effective.  LinkedIn and its thousands of members can’t be wrong, right?!

The same holds true in the publishing industry.  Authors…editors, publishers, everyone involved in the process seek to connect with those who can help us along the path – whether it be to publication (for the authors) or business success amongst those who service the industry.

To the more cynical mind this could be seen as people “using” each other to get ahead and connecting with others only for personal/financial gain. While there may be some truth to that, I happen to be an optimist who believes there is good and good intentions inside of each of us.

In previous posts, I’ve attested to how amazing my fellow authors have been in this journey.  Do we ask each other for help – to promote an upcoming release – to share with others – to “Like” or “Follow” each other?  Of course we do! Do we do this in the hopes that others will return the favor?  Of course we do!  Is that bad?  Of course not 🙂  Why? (and here’s where my positive spin comes in lol) Because I truly want each person who is walking down this challenging path to succeed along with me and believe they feel the same way.

The other very important aspect and power of networking is the more people we know and connect with – the more people we can help.  Knowing someone who can help a friend in need and connecting them is one of the best reasons I can think of to take the time to develop a network of people – from all aspects of life – not just those we think can help us.

Sometimes we find these people by chance, sometimes it takes more effort. Either way, I’m challenging myself (and hopefully you will do the same) to look for positive ways to connect with others and expand my network and, as a result, my power to help others.

Until next time…

Live, Love, Laugh

Nicole

 

The End Justifies the Means…

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I recently finished watching the TV Series “Breaking Bad”.  I confess that I felt many emotions as I watched this series (I did most of my watching on Netflix as I was a late starter…don’t judge!  LOL)  Everything from repulsion from the violence, to sadness for all of the loss, to laughter at some of the lighter moments and finally to intrigue.  If nothing else, I was fascinated by the way the writers of that show took a mild-mannered, normal high school science teacher and turned him into a ruthless, murdering drug dealer.  Even more interesting was that I found myself pulling for this very bad man on more than one occasion.  Why?!!

Very simply, I understand that motivation plays such a big role in everything we do.  Walt (the bad guy) was motivated, at least initially, out of his love for his family and his desire to provide for them since he expected to die from the lung cancer he was diagnosed with at the beginning of the show.  As a parent and wife, I can understand that motivation.  I WANT to make sure my family is taken care of should anything happen to me.  So, even though I might not have agreed with his METHODS, I understood the MOTIVATION.

The idea of motivation for characters is a basic requirement for all writers.  From the beginning, I was taught about GMC or Goals, Motivation and Conflict.  What does my character want?  WHY do they want it? And What is standing in the way of them getting it.  Which follows, what are they willing to do in order to overcome those obstacles.  This is the stuff great stories are made of!  From the Wizard of Oz to The Fugitive to every great story between and since…they all contain this key element.

Whether I’m writing fanfic or working on my novel, one of most challenging and entertaining activities is to figure out what journey or motivation my characters need to do what needs to be done.  What can make a rational person do something irrational…and then telling that story in the most compelling of ways!

So I’m curious (as that’s my nature *grin*) what’s the most irrational thing you’ve ever done and what motivated you to do it?  C’mon let’s share with the class!

Thanks for stopping by.

*hugs*

Nicole

Happily Ever After – The Language of Love

As we wrap up the segment on Happily Ever After, I want to finish it up with talking about love languages.

Many studies have been done and tests designed to determine your love language.  My explanation is not highly scientific rather I like to think of it as the unique way in which I show my love for others and, in return, they show their love for me.

This ties into the final piece of advice I promised to share.  Someone shared this with me around year 5 of my marriage and helped me shift my perspective.  Let me explain… The advice was:  “Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they aren’t loving you with everything they have.”

Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?

As a romance writer, I spend countless hours devising the perfect words for a hero to say to the heroine, or the perfect gesture or grand romantic notion. It’s easy to get caught up a fictional world that is entirely scripted.  Unfortunately, life just doesn’t work that way does it?

It’s so very easy to become disappointed when our spouses don’t meet up to our expectations for how we WANT them to show their love rather than focusing on how they DO show their love. When my husband brings me a cup of steaming hot coffee or runs a bath for me if he knows I’m stressed or tired (and does these things without my even asking) – he’s showing his love for me in a very tangible and sincere way.  I’ll never get a love letter nor will he wax poetic for me – and often gets tongue tied with his words…but when I shifted my perspective to focus on what he did to, rather than what he didn’t…guess what?  I felt more love…more appreciation…more happily ever after 🙂

Once you identify how the other person “speaks” their love for you, it becomes so much easier to see and enhances and strengthens your relationship.

Relationships are hard work and require a great deal of flexibility, forgiveness and a willingness to focus on someone else for extended periods of time.  It’s not like the romance books, but finding happiness is possible.  After 25 years, I’m more in love today than ever before.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our brief glimpse into happily ever after.  Thank you for taking the journey with me and may YOU find your happily ever after!

Until next time,

Live – Love – Laugh

*hugs*

Nicole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed our brief glimpse into happily ever after.  Thank you for taking the journey with me and may YOU find your happily ever after!

Until next time,

Live – Love – Laugh

*hugs*

Nicole

Happily Ever After – Advice from a Work in Progress

And-they-lived-happily-ever-after

Advice is defined as “an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc.”

We all like to give advice and, often times, it is from lessons we’ve learned the hard way. It’s our way of protecting those who come after us from making the same mistakes or experiencing the pain we’ve endured.  Sometimes advice is very good.  Other times, not so much.  You always have to consider the source!

In between those two is the well-meaning advice that just doesn’t pan out.  I received some advice like that prior to my wedding day.  The advice was:  “In order to be successful, a marriage has to be 50/50.”

Now, in theory that sounds great, right?  An equal sharing of the responsibility and work…two are better than one.  The problem is that life is not theory, it’s reality.  And reality never works out quite so mathematically perfect.  My new husband and I struggled those first five years trying to make the 50/50 work.  We divided the roles, responsibilities, work – everything.  Guess what?

Epic fail.

Why?  Because we happen to be human.  Humans have good days and bad days.  Sometimes one gets sick or is stressed because of the job, the list of why we can’t always be at 100% goes on and on. As a result, we aren’t always able to offer up our 50 in the equation and still have enough to deal with the mess of life.

The beautiful thing about being human (and willing to learn…) is that we adapt and adjust the game plan.  So instead of 50/50, we slowly came to realize it was more of a sliding scale deal.  Some days, I might have to give 70 to his 30, or vice versa.  When I was put on bed rest during the fourth month of my pregnancy, it moved more to a 99/1.  Fortunately, we were living close to family and so they were able to help him out and lighten some of the burden.

Authors talk all the time about our “work in progress” or the current novel we’re writing.  We take the first attempt or draft and edit, rewrite, edit some more, cut scenes, add scenes…you get the picture.  I believe our marriages (or any relationship for that matter) are a work in progress. As our characters (the people in our lives) grow and scenes change, we have to adapt—adjust—rewrite how we handle ourselves, the situation, and our relationship.  It’s an important step to writing for ourselves that “happily ever after” we’re all looking to achieve.

Tune in later this week when we talk about a piece of advice that was given to me around year five of my marriage—a piece of advice that helped me view my expectations of love in a whole different way.

Have a wonderful week!!

Nicole

Happily Ever After…

And-they-lived-happily-ever-after

Twenty-five years ago this month, my husband and I said “I do.”  We promised to love each other in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse…till death do us part.  Countless people make these vows, or some variation of them, every year.

Yet, despite our promise, the current divorce rate is over 50%.

I often laugh when people ask me how long I’ve been married because I usually answer, “Almost twenty-five years, and almost twenty of those have been happy.”  The reply always gets a smile or a laugh, but there’s also echoes of truth.  As a romance writer, I am in the powerful position of creating a happily ever after for my fictional characters.  BUT, guess what?  As a wife, I’m also in a position to help create my own happily ever after.  Is it is easier as a writer?  You bet!  The words on a page can be easily (okay maybe not easily, but it can be done LOL) changed to either make life better or worse for my hero and heroine.

Life, is not as easily changed and the “sickness, poorer, and worse” part of our vows seem to be more prevalent than the “health, richer and better” part, doesn’t it?  The bottom line, though, we promised to love our mate in all of those.  See what happens when we’re young and in love?  LOL

This month in my blog, we’re going to talk about love and some of the advice I was given to help go the distance in this journey of marriage.  I’ve stumbled along the way, there’s no doubt – we all do.  The point is, to make this journey a marathon rather than a 100 meter dash, we have to be willing to pull ourselves up, pull our mate up, and carry on.  We have to appreciate that a “happily ever after” doesn’t always mean “happiness every day”.

I hope you’ll join me as we talk about love, heroes and heroines, and happily ever after!

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