beach, From my Bookshelf, Writing

Blue Mind Magic

I usually try to write blogs based on what causes an emotional reaction in me.

So, you’d think that being at the warm, sunny beach in February would trigger a lot of emotions.

img_7309The problem is that the calming effects of the ocean lull me into a kind of beach bliss — such a subdued, satisfied, relaxed state of happy -that I can’t muster the mental energy to write a coherent blog.

If you’re a beach lover, you know that a physical change takes place in us when we’re near the wide expanse of the ocean.

Our breathing slows, and our overactive brains relax like a tired, soft baby on a mama’s shoulder.

There is a pleasant loll that gently overtakes the brain, giving us a break from incessant, urgent thoughts.

Our senses heighten, and our need to “do” gently subsides. A welcome tranquility settles into our bones.

So, rather than looking at my laptop and writing while I’m at the beach, I end up spending time captivated by the rhythmic ocean waves, the dolphins skimming the ocean’s surface, and the massive formations of birds hovering over the water looking for fish.

I stare at the changing clouds, and marvel over how one minute they look full of rain and the next, they are gone, and the sky is cloudless, a stretch of perfect blue.

I gaze at the different varieties of beach houses around me, all painted in bright happy colors like coral, green, sky blue, and yellow.

img_7386And, I watch workers busily getting houses ready for the vacation season — roofers precariously perched on top of sloped beach houses, painters on tall ladders, restaurant owners painting picnic tables and benches, and even a realtor flying a drone over a house to get good photos that highlight the features of a house going on the market.

I look at the breach where the ocean powered through the sand dunes and took out part of the boardwalk, and then I walk toward the fishing pier and wonder when the construction crew will finish this year’s repairs.

I walk on the beach, ride my bike, read a book, and binge watch The Crown on Netflix.

img_7389Yes, while Doug caulks, power washes, paints, seals, and putters, I laze and enjoy watching the flag flap in the wind and I savor a certain smugness that comes over me when my daughter and sister send photos of yet more snow in Utah.

img_7406I read about Blue Mind, “The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, On, or Under Water Can Make you Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.  (How’s that for a title?)

Turns out, Blue Mind is a real thing. Science even proves it. “Water attracts and fascinates us, and we know instinctively that being near it reduces stress, increases creativity, and brings us peace.”

For a few more blissful days, I will savor the Outer Banks, knowing that soon I will be back in the clutches of a Utah winter.

But, for now, I will appreciate the beauties of Blue Mind Magic.

 

 

 

Family, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing it all down

It’s New Year’s Day 2016.

I’m sitting on the couch thinking, “I should write a New Year’s blog.”

Last year about this time, I wrote a blog called Blah-Grrr, which was less than inspiring, but it captured my mood at the time.

This year, I want to write something BETTER, more MOTIVATIONAL, but I’m stuck.

Hello Writer’s Block.

(The inability to tap into the writerly part of your brain where thoughts turn into words and sentences.)

Part of the reason for this mental block is that I’ve set myself up with the idea that I should write something INSPIRING or MOTIVATIONAL.

Writing expectations can be lethal. They choke creativity.

No idea is good enough. No thought cogent or powerful enough.

And no good sentences can flow from that kind of clogged up mental mess.

Not only do I have crippling blogging block, I seem to have unintentionally infected my family with it.

For Christmas I gave everyone in my family five-year journals.

IMG_5865

One of our Church missionaries introduced me to them.

She called hers her “most prized possession.”

Her dad gave one to all of his family for Christmas a few years ago and she’s written in it faithfully since.

“It’s awesome to look back and see where I was and what I was doing on the same day in previous years,” she said.

I’m a writer, a journal keeper, and big believer in creating personal histories. So, this sounded like a great gift idea.

Side note: A friend in college once said to me, “What is it with writers? They don’t think things are real unless they write them down.”

Ah, yeah…because they’re not.

Last night, Doug started a group text reminding everyone to start our new journals on New Year’s Day.

 

My sister, Sallie, said, “I can’t wait to start my new journal. I have to do something more exciting tomorrow than taking down the Christmas tree though. I don’t want to judge myself for the next five years for having a boring New Year’s Day.”

Annie said, “I know! I feel pressured to do exciting things!”

Then, Sallie, who drives a red convertible VW, said, “I’ll pick you up, Annie, and we’ll drive around the lake with the top down and then hike Y Mountain at midnight so that we’ll have something fun to write about.”

convertible
Cruising in the Convertible

“Too bad we’re in North Carolina,” Annie replied with a sad face emoticon.

Sara texted, “I was thinking of having a focus — like writing about a funny thing that happened or the best part of my day or tender mercies.”

Having a focus sounded like a good idea to me too — a kind of writing prompt.

“I’m just going to write about the weather,” Doug said.

“Good idea, Dad,” Sara wrote, “Or you could just copy your daily horoscope into your journal.”

Today Sallie texted me to see if I’d done anything exciting to write about.

“I walked on the beach, watched an episode of Oprah’s Belief series and then called a friend who just announced she and her husband are going to Brazil for a Church mission. Is that interesting enough? Or maybe something amazing is yet to happen.”

“We have faith,” she responded.

Yes, if faith means believing our lives on New Year’s Day 2016 literally will be ones for the books, then we have faith.

That’s a lot of faith.

No wonder I can’t write a blog.

I can’t even think about that tiny little paragraph I need to write at the end of the day, let alone write a 500-word blog.

How can we live each day for five years worried about whether our lives are interesting enough to write about?

Well, see, that’s the thing. We can’t. So we don’t think about it so much. We just do it.

We just pick up a pen, or put our fingers on the keyboard, and write.

Start with a word and go.

How’s that for MOTIVATIONAL?

I sometimes don’t know what to write, but I try to write anyway.

Sometimes it’s just nonsensical junk that ends up on the page, and sometimes it’s something that’s surprisingly good.

But writing well isn’t even the point.

The point is expressing ourselves, and what makes it fun is that it’s all stuff that comes from inside of us, stuff that defines us and our ordinary lives.

And that can be wonderfully rewarding.

(And you know that if you don’t write it down, it’s not real, right?)

Get writing people. Make that your 2016 New Year’s resolution.

Capture your life on the pages of a notebook or on a blog or in a daunting five-year journal.

Your life is probably a lot more interesting than you think.

Let me end with this great little nugget from a writer named Victoria Erickson.

“Why write? Why should we all write? This is what I recommend…pick a word and see where that word takes you. Because you store everything in your body: the gorgeous, the ugly, the painful, the ecstatic. It’s all there locked away in your cells where memory, tension and confusion remain day after day, waiting to be set free. You don’t have to show it to an audience or your spouse or your children or even yourself again. But when it’s written down as a list, as a paragraph or poem or story, you can go to bed with greater understanding of yourself, of the world, or even of both yourself in this world. And at the very least, you know all those things are out of your body. Writing is essentially becoming free. It all begins with a word.

I couldn’t have said it any better. Thanks Victoria.

Now, get writing.

Figure out a way to capture 2016 in writing.

It’s only going to be real if you write about it …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Me, Memoir, Personal, Uncategorized, Writing

Exploding Head Syndrome

I’ve ignored this poor blog a lot lately.

I could say I’ve been too busy, but that seems shallow.

Not too busy to buy Lucky Charms and comb my troll doll's hair to help us win at Beach Bingo
Not too busy to buy Lucky Charms and comb my troll doll’s hair to help us win at Beach Bingo

Writing is something I love. It’s therapeutic for me.

So, when I’m not writing, something’s up and I know I need to stop and figure out what is going on with me.

Happily, I’ve figured it out.

I’ve been suffering from Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS).

This happens when I take on too much and my brain gets so full that it feels like it’s going to pop.

Really — burst like fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Except, not pretty fireworks.

I can’t write if my head is too full.

It’s like trying to knit but not being able to find the beginning of the yarn ball.

I can’t access one thought and follow it from beginning to end because my ideas are tripping all over each other.

I wish I could say this doesn’t happen very often, but that would be a lie.

I give myself massive headaches from this Exploding Head Syndrome.

One of my greatest strengths is that I am a creative idea person.

That also is one of my greatest weaknesses.

(Please tell me I’m not the only one whose strengths can also be their weaknesses.)

I fall in love with good ideas, and I hate to let them go.

Idea: plant more of these beauties
Idea: plant more of these beauties

I get attached to my ideas.

They are like embryos with amazing potential and they beg to be nurtured.

But, how many ideas in embryo can one human being nurture at a time?

I mean, really? One, two, ten, a hundred? Forty-two million?

At some point, it has to stop because I have more ideas than time and energy.

It’s humbling and embarrassing, because you see, I want to do too much.

I hate limits, time constraints, and boundaries.

To quote my Mom, “It gripes me to death.”

(That means it makes her really annoyed.)

Yes, it gripes me to death that I can’t keep up with myself.

To that, my mom would say, “You wear me to a frazzle. When are you going to learn to slow down?”

Never, apparently.

I wear myself to a frazzle, and that too, gripes me to death.

I told Doug the other day that it’s hard being me. (I probably said it in a whiny, tired voice too.)

He didn’t sympathize. He said we all have things that make it hard to be us.

That was a weird sentence, wasn’t it?

But, I like the concept… we all have personality quirks and core characteristics that make us crazy.

It’s not just me, right? Please tell me it’s not just me.

You have your own ways that make you crazy, right?

Is anybody out there? Come on, fess up. Make me feel better.

Is it as hard being you as it is hard being me sometimes?

I was cursed with a “go-go-do-do” personality according to my mother.

That can be good and bad, but right now, for the purpose of this blog, it’s bad.

Very bad.

It leads to neglected blogs, headaches, indecision, and having to have a serious sit-down with my overactive mind.

EBS symptom: after searching everywhere, you find the salt and pepper in the fridge
EBS symptom: after searching everywhere, you find the salt and pepper in the fridge

Imagine the comedy in my conversation with my brain.

Me: Enough already. You are driving me mad. Stop with the ideas.

Brain: I can’t. The ideas are so good. I won’t let them go. You can act on all of them. Trust me. We can do this.

Me: No. Trusting you leads to migraines and endless to-do lists that I could wrap around the globe in long, messy, unkempt strands.

Brain: We’ve got this. Just get up earlier, go to bed later, quit exercising. Forget about healthy eating. Why do you need to file all those papers, pull weeds, do your laundry, talk in coherent sentences anyway? We don’t have time for all that nonsense. We have IDEAS that demand our time and attention.

This could go on forever, this back-and-forth debate with my overactive brain.

Bottom line is a neglected blog means a cluttered mind and a stressed out woman.

Stressed out women need new pink shoes.
Stressed out women need new pink shoes.

A stressed out woman leads to decreased productivity, and probably decreased popularity because people don’t like being around or working with a nonsensical, I-have-another-idea but I-can’t-keep-up-with-myself-woman.

And before I have yet another thought for this blog, I’m going to stop writing.

I am going to think of my ideas like city buses.

They come and they go.

I don’t need to hop on every bus in town and ride it to every random place it’s going.

So if you see me standing at a bus stop waving, you’ll know I’m practicing my new let-it-go approach to life.

And, now you can start singing that Frozen song —Let it Go –because that is what I’m going to do because…

That is one good idea!

 

 

 

 

 

Writing

About that award-winning author status…

Even though I had fun with my blog about the news release and the best-selling author business, it was a legitimate contest that highlighted some excellent writers.

The Amazon link for Kindle downloads is up at : http://amzn.to/1aU3Z4o

And, if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free Amazon software to read Seasons of Our Lives(Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) on almost any device you have — from the cloud, your smart phone, many tablets, or from your PC or Mac.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000493771

Jan Marquart, CEO of About the Author Network, said,  “Seasons of our Lives is an anthology of memoir and heart-warming stories written by women about seemingly unnoticed moments. Their deeply personal stories will embrace you to slow down and take a deep breath. They lead you back to your own heart, filling you with a sense of purity and beauty, meaning and purpose as you turn from the page. Seasons of our Lives is a must read. It will give you a new perspective out of which your own stories will peek through.” Jan Marquart, Author and CEO and Founder of About the Author Network.

And, you thought I was kidding about being a legit Amazon author.

Not only that, all four volumes quickly shot to Amazon’s bestseller list. Here’s proof:

amazon

All joking aside about my own best-selling author status, these stories are wonderful and these authors have written some beautiful memoirs.

Check it out.

 

 

 

 

Memoir, Uncategorized, Writing

A little bragging is in order

I know I haven’t posted as often as usual; and I’m going to take care of that… soon.

Really, I am.

Soonish.

But, remember when I wrote a blog called “Cheerleading Envy?”

https://lauriesnowturnerdotcom.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2051&action=edit

You know the one, 12-year-old-me sitting in the bleachers, hating on the cheerleaders because I wasn’t one?

At least Sara was a cheerleader and I could live vicariously...
At least Sara was a cheerleader and I could live vicariously…

Well, I won an award for it.

Turns out, there’s this blog on women’s memoirs and they had this contest, asking authors to write stories about seasons.

Yes, seasons, like winter, spring, summer, and fall.

http://womensmemoirs.com/

I submitted “Cheerleading Envy” for the fall edition because autumn and football season sometimes remind me of it.

And, it won.

fall

The grand prize is that is published and people can buy it.

In addition to having my essay published, readers get to read lots of other award-winning essays too when they buy these books.

winter spring summer

In case you think I’m making this up, I will quote a very official press release I received that said, “The true stories in the four volumes of Seasons of Our Lives will charm, intrigue, captivate, and inspire you because they speak of our lives almost as much as they do the authors!” (And, yes, they had the exclamation point at the end of that lead sentence.)

It goes on to say, “The details of childhood, coming of age, adulthood, and aging — of passion, friendship, love, sacrifice, betrayal, disappointment, survival, and unexpected joy — of lives intersecting with history — of ordinary yet extraordinary experiences are unique to these award-winning authors and yet at their core these stories tell of our lives.”

Okay, so I added the emphasis on award-winning authors because it just feels so good to be called that.

And, in a very official press release, at that.

So, if you want to help me become not only an award-winning author, but a best-selling author, you can buy the book  on Amazon.

Just search Seasons of our Lives on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Seasons-Our-Lives-Matilda-Butler-ebook/dp/B00HMEJSNW/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kstore_3

And, if you believe the press release… I mentioned the press release, right?

The one about me being an award-winning author?

Very official —  or as my daughters’ say, “legit” —  press release.

It also says when you read these stories, “They’ll make you laugh. Cry. Feel Joy. Experience sorrow. Collectively they form a kaleidoscope of life’s multifaceted seasons.”

(Don’t go blaming me for the weird punctuation in these sentences because I’m just quoting the release.)

If you’re a writer, you might appreciate that there is a little lesson at the end of each essay, designed to motivate you to write your own life stories.

Isn’t that something?

In addition to being an award-winning author with the very real possibility of becoming a best-selling author, I also am an inspiration for others?

Who would have thought this little girl, who sat on the wooden bleachers at little league football games, envying the cheerleaders, would turn out like this?

An award-winning author.

Unbelievable.

Go me.

Oh, look at that… I am a cheerleader, after all.

(By the way, I hope it’s abundantly clear that I am having fun with this little award and that I am not really, truly bragging and puffing myself up!)