Learn How to Give Thanks

Being a Southern girl, I was taught to always give thanks to those who help me. Some of the ways you’ve helped me are; opening my door, listening to my laments, signing up for my newsletter, giving me a difficult message, even literally saving my life. Thank you. There, I’ve lived up to my heritage’s expectation. But is that all there is to learn about giving thanks?

Why Bother Giving Thanks?

I believe everyone benefits from thanks; those who give, those who receive, and those bearing witness. Our energy is greatly affected by the energy that surrounds us. Like attracts like. Grateful feelings grow as they move from one person to the next. And gratitude is so easy to include in your life. Sometimes it shows up as a smile. Try smiling when you don’t have a reason. How does it make you feel? For me, tension leaves and lightness comes in.

When someone is nearby to receive my smile, it magnifies my joy. I have no way of knowing what they are feeling, but often I see their face change. Their eyes light up and their lips lift and broaden into an easy smile. The energy in the room goes up a notch for everyone.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, also remember to thank yourself too.

How do you give thanks to yourself?

Do something nice just for you. As in all things, this is particular to you. By learning to listen to yourself, specific ways you can thank yourself will show up. Think back on occasions when you were alone and happy. Chances are you were showing gratitude for yourself. Examples include window shopping, reading a good book in a cozy chair, stopping to smell a fragrant flower, taking a walk in a garden, choosing a colorful ink pen over utilitarian black, or treating yourself to a luxurious pedicure.

Today I choose to have a pedicure

The first task is selecting the nail polish. There was a wall of choices and the only thing I knew was that I wanted something neutral. I needed help to make such an ‘important’ decision, so I decided to call on my intuition. My gaze scanned through three displays and rested on an OPI bottle. I lifted it to feel the weight, turning it over to see the name, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. That cinched the decision.

Carrying my selection to the row of relaxing combination massage chair and pedicure sinks, I selected the next empty seat. The technician, Thi, handed me a menu of pedicure flavors; basic, VIP deluxe, or pearl powder. The high-end pearl powder called my name at first, but once again I checked in with my inner voice and selected the mid-range VIP deluxe. There was a long list of scents. The first choice, ‘High Seas’ seemed appropriate to honor my upcoming cruise.

Once Thi completed the tedious nail trimming, she applied a soothing cleanser, massaging my tired calves and feet. I drifted into a state of nirvana, lulled by the lilting Asian conversation in the background. Before I knew it, Thi was gently rousting me from my dreamlike state. She continued pampering me, treating me like a special person. The calmness in my heart during the pedicure stayed with me the rest of the day.

Once you start living in gratitude, almost everything tends to improve.

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When Fathers Day is Difficult

This post seems late since Father’s Day was earlier on Sunday. Rather, Father’s Day is difficult for me and I waited until after the holiday to write about it. How many holidays that expect certain emotions or actions are difficult for you? There’s a lot to pick from; Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Thanksgiving, and many more as this Internet List shows.

Memories are sweeter now, afterward

Looking back is easier today, the pain of loss and grief less pungent. Rather, sweet memories pour over me; the smell of his tobacco smoke, the tickle of his beard when he hugged me, the white salt stains on his work shirt from a day farming in the Florida summer heat, his ability to make me laugh. One prank he pulled especially comes to mind. Whenever I came home to Polk County, I liked to visit Bok Tower Gardens. Dad loved it too. My husband and I were talking as we left our car in the parking lot and Dad and Mom were ahead of us. My inner compass followed Dad without thinking.

When I looked up and realized we weren’t where I expected, I said, “Dad, where did you lead us?”

He grinned  and lifted one eyebrow while winking the other eye. I knew I’d been duped again. We were a perfect match. He loved to play practical jokes and I never saw them coming.

Keeping his memory alive

Therefore, I return here, to Bok Tower Gardens often, choosing to volunteer both as an interpretive guide during the cooler months and an historic home docent all year. The many people I meet from all over the globe also remind me how much I’m like my father. He never knew a stranger.

May your memories be as sweet and dear to you as mine are to me.

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Number One Reason to Attend a Writing Conference

During the 2019 Florida Writing Workshop in Tampa, I met other writers, the number one reason to attend a writing conference. Some of these writers were self-published, some told me they had 100,000 friends on Facebook, a few taught seminars and offered their books for sale, others were agents who were looking for their next star. I mingled with memoir writers, YA writers, romance writers, children book writers, new writers, seasoned writers, writer presenters, writer agents, and writers of technical work. And this was in one day.

More Reasons for Attending a Conference

Renewed incentive to write, clarity, and honesty with myself about my writing are more reasons for attending a conference.

What did I do the morning after attending a writing conference? I worked on my novel. I meant my memoir. Wait. Haven’t I been writing about my memoir? True. In-person dialog with an agent-publisher changed my perspective temporarily. A few days later, after meditation and some soul searching, I confirmed without a shadow of a doubt, I’m writing a memoir.

During the conference other writers asked me what I’m writing. That question illustrated I wasn’t clear about my why. Now I’m clear.

Connections Matter

Lunch with writers in the conference was heightened by the side connections made with conversations at the adjoining table. The energy in the room reverberated throughout my arms and hands.

Furthermore, my tweets before and during the conference enabled me to recognize fellow writers and presenters. These digital connections made it easier to start an in-person conversation. Speakers and participants noted the consensus that Twitter is an excellent platform for writers. After all, Twitter was originally a place you could only write and write succinctly. Now it allows photos and adding more characters by commenting on the original tweet. The conference encouraged attendees to use the Twitter hashtag, #flaww, to find one another and tweet our experiences. Furthermore, I continued to use this hashtag when posting related tweets days after the conference.

Kimiko Nakamura of Writing Day Workshops coordinated, sent update emails, manned one of the registration tables and kept everything running smoothly. Members of a local writing group Tampa Writers Alliance helped wherever needed. Alliance representatives shared information about their get-togethers, critiques and poetry nights at a local Barnes and Noble. For me, the 90 minute drive didn’t appeal. Rather, it heightened my interest of making more in-person connections who were closer to my home. As a result, my contact list includes two new writers to meet long after the conference.

What to Bring to Any Conference

Bring your enthusiasm, your willingness to walk up to a stranger and introduce yourself, your ability to listen, note taking material, and your business cards. That little piece of paper may sound archaic, but it is essential when you only have less than a minute to make a personal connection. And it’s a great way to end a conversation.

“Here’s my business card. May I have one of yours?”

The second sentence, asking for theirs, is key. Then you have the ability to continue the conversation, learn more, broaden your platform through social media connections, and grow your community.

Following Up After the Conference

Review your notes. Highlight anything that stands out. Now act on it.
Gather up the business cards you collected.
Follow, friend, email, phone, connect.
Write. Write. Write.