Christina Cole Romance

Discover the power of love


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A Thought for Today: Peace of Mind

Peace of mind

There is no greater wealth in this world than peace of mind. 

I believe this is true. After all our struggles for riches and worldly success, we’ll always finds ourselves poor in spirit until we realize that real wealth — and happiness — comes from within. It comes from knowing who we are and being at peace with our self.

Life is best lived with balance and wholeness, and the curious thing is that we can only find peace of mind when we listen to our heart.

What is your heart telling you today?

 


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A Thought for Today: Change

 

Butter

If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.

Sometimes we get stuck in ruts in life. Sometimes we feel that things will never change. Truthfully, changes are taking place around us — and within us — each day. Even though the positive changes we desire may seem slow in coming, we can recognize and celebrate every small step we take toward our goals.

Butterflies have long been a symbol of change and transformation. It’s amazing to see the process taking place.

Life caterpillars morphing into butterflies, we are continually in a process of becoming. We change, we grow, we learn. It’s not always easy, and sometimes we’ll struggle, but if we stay focused on the positive results we seek, we can become who and what we hope to be.

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Who are you becoming?


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A Thought for Today: Choices

Camus

Life is the sum of all your choices – Albert Camus

Although we may sometimes feel as if life is something that happens to us, the truth is we play a role in creating our future through the choices we make. Each day, we make choices that affect our health, our happiness, our relationships.

Wise choices can bring us closer to the life we want; poor choices leave us struggling to get through each day.

Most of the time, we know what’s right. We know healthy foods are better for us than fattening desserts. We know it’s important to get enough rest. We know the importance of treating others with kindness. Yet time after time, we make choices we later regret.

At other times, we simply make wrong choices. Maybe we misjudged someone or something. Maybe we didn’t have all the information we needed. For whatever reason, our choice proved not to bring us the happiness we expected. It happens.

So make choices today that you won’t regret…and when you make a mistake, learn from it and make new choices for tomorrow.

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What choices are you making today?


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Make a Mess!

Creativity

I say these words over and over because they’re so very true. I don’t recall the source, but I do remember when I first heard them. I was sitting on the living room floor, surrounded by a mess of papers, drawings, art supplies, books, and snacks as I worked on a project. Yes, creative people make big messes.

It was then as I began the “cleaning up” process that I fully understood this little saying. As I sorted through ideas and inspirations — keeping some and discarding others — my mess turned into a completed project.

I approach fiction from this perspective, too. I make a huge mess with story ideas all over the place. I scribble notes on odd scraps of paper. I grab research books to keep close at hand. Putting a story together does get very messy indeed.

For what it’s worth, my current project — The Sheriff Wore Skirts — is a disastrous mess at the moment. Even though I began with a synopsis for the publisher, now that I’m working on the story, I’m seeing new possibilities. New characters are emerging. New complications and conflicts are happening.

What do I do?  I let it happen. It’s wondrous fun.

To me, it’s much like working a jigsaw puzzle…only first, I have to create all the pieces.

I won’t use them all. As with any creative project, I’ll find myself throwing away things that aren’t needed, sorting out what’s right for the story, getting rid of ideas that don’t fit. Gradually, the mess will be picked up. The research books will go back on the shelf. The little scraps of paper will be tossed aside. A finished manuscript will come together, ready to go to the publisher.

Don’t ever get discouraged when your creative efforts result in a huge mess. That’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s a process, and making a mess — the bigger, the better — is the first step toward success. Celebrate all the mixed-up, confused ideas. Scatter the pieces of your own puzzle around so you can look at them from different angles. Pick things up and play with them. Enjoy the mess!

Then begin the cleaning-up process. Throw away or set aside things you know you don’t need. Find what’s most important and build around it. Add in possibilities that might work. Discard ones that don’t work.

Slowly and surely, as you clean up the mess — whether it’s an art project, a poem you’re writing, a recipe you’re cooking, or any other endeavor — you’ll see a beautiful creation shining through.

 

 


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The Game of Life

What’s the question for today? I don’t know yet. I’m sitting here in MLWR — my little writing room — with my little “Questions and Answers” book on my lap. I’m enjoying a quiet moment before I open it and turn to today’s date.

I love to wonder about the question. Will it be something amusing? Something fun to answer? Or will I find myself face-to-face with a difficult, challenging issue in my life? Will answering it embarrass me?

Opening this little book is both exciting and frightening. What will today’s question be?

Oh, boy. It’s a crazy, fill-in-the-blank question.

Today you destroyed___________________.

 

I can honestly say, “nothing…so far.”  It’s only 5:15 AM, so I haven’t had much time for destruction.

PiratesLooking back over the last 24 hours, however, I can actually find quite a few things I destroyed. Yesterday afternoon, a grandson and I turned on the Wii and spent several hours playing Pirates of the Caribbean, and I happily bashed boxes, crates, furniture — and yes, a few Lego people, too.

In the process, we also “destroyed” a few Cherry Ice Popsicles. He loves the treats I’ve been making — and yes, you can watch for more recipes coming soon.

Mario_Party_8We also played a Mario Party game.  It was my first time playing, and I found it both frustrating and fun. Video games move quickly — especially with a 9-year-old at the controls. It was difficult to keep up with him, and for several mini-games, the contest was over before I’d even figured out what I was supposed to do.

There was a little destruction in the Mario game, too: a bit of paint-ball shooting, attempts to block opponents (both real-life and computer-generated) from achieving goals, and, inevitably, a little crushing disappointment at not always winning.

Yes, folks, I’m a mean grandmother. I don’t let the grandkids win. In the Mario game, I took first place in a “float-your-boat-down-the river” mini-game, and I won another, as well. For anyone who’s played these games before and who is familiar with the characters, I was playing as “Daisy”. She’s not the modest sort, I learned. After each victory she loudly proclaimed, “I am the winner!”

Overall, Daisy did come out in first place, even after the random”bonus stars” were awarded. I saw the let-down in our grandson’s eyes. I heard the touch of sadness in his voice. Although some people disagree with me, I viewed it as a learning experience, an opportunity to remind him that “we can’t always win.”

It’s true, not just with video games, board games, or card games, but in life. Sometimes, we lose.

The ability to accept losses is important, I believe. Children grow stronger when they’re given opportunities to face little disappointments and rise above them. There’s no shame in losing when you’ve done your best. There’s certainly no shame in losing a game of chance where luck, not skill, is the winning factor.

In my opinion, what matters most in playing games is playing fairly.  Games are meant to be fun, not to serve as contests to see who’s better than another. Sometimes we’ll win, sometimes we’ll lose, and we need to know how to do both graciously.

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It’s been said that life is a game. Whether you see it that way or not, the same principles apply.

  • Play fair.
  • Learn to lose.
  • Win with grace.

 

Thanks for visiting with me today.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Do you let children win at games?

And, by the way, what have you destroyed today?

 


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A Thought for Today: One Small Step

 

The secret to reaching your dreams

 

I love this inspiring reminder. Often, one more step is all it takes to make a dream come true. Yet even if your dreams are still far away, the secret to reaching this is, indeed, to keep moving  closer every day.

It may be a small little step, or it may be a giant leap. You may advance with confidence; you may move quietly and cautiously. You might even stumble now and then, but it’s all right. Pick yourself up and keep going.

It’s the forward motion that matters.

One step leads to another, and that’s how dreams come true.

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Take a step toward YOUR dream today!


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Keep it Simple

One of the most important things I’ve learned over the course of my life is the wisdom of keeping things simple.  I don’t know why it is, but we humans have a tendency to overcomplicate our lives. Why do you think that happens? I’ve pondered over it a bit, and I haven’t come up with any good answers.

Speaking of answers, perhaps you’ve heard of “Occam’s Razor” or “Ockham’s Razor” as it’s sometimes spelled. If you’re not familiar with the concept, please don’t look it up online. If you do, you run the risk of stumbling across this monstrous definition from Merriam-Webster:

…a scientific and philosophic rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities.

Egads! What in the heck is that supposed to mean?

Despite the mumbo-jumbo and scientific jargon, the answer is simple. Really. The principle of Occam’s Razor is that, as often as not, the simple answer is usually right. It’s a philosophical concept that begs us not to complicate matters unnecessarily. William of Occam, a 14th-century Franciscan friar, was advising folks to “keep it simple.”

Although his thoughts were directed toward philosophers grappling with metaphysical theories — according to Alan Baker, at least — I believe the rule can be understood and applied in the context of everyday life.

Recently I came across this excellent visual reminder of the need to keep things simple.
Why
Yes, it really is that simple.  Life isn’t meant to be a struggle. It’s not intended to be fraught with complications. Let’s save the drama for fiction — where it rightfully belongs — and enjoy the simple pleasures of an uncomplicated life.

THANK YOU

for visiting today!

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YOUR OPINION, PLEASE:

Why do we complicate so many things?


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Regrets?

I’m currently working on the fourth book of my “Sunset Series”. The title is No Regrets, so naturally, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the whole business of looking back at life and wondering if we could have and should have done things differently.

I want to know your opinions on the subject.

One of the first times I ever considered regrets came from hearing a country song. It was “I’d Rather Be Sorry” by Ray Price. Please, take a moment to listen.

I’d Rather Be Sorry

The words that jumped out at me as most meaningful were these:  I’d rather be sorry for something I’ve done than for something that I didn’t do.”

Sorry

I was much younger then, and when I heard the song and listened to those words, I didn’t agree. I hated doing the wrong thing and later regretting it. It seemed so much easier to cope with those “wishy-washy” regrets that were more like forgotten wishes. “Oh, I wish I’d gone skating with my friends…sounds like they had a great time.”

Here’s how I saw it. If I regretted something I’d done, I had to face up to the fact that I’d made a mistake. I had committed an error or infraction. Something I hadn’t done, on the other hand, wasn’t a mistake so much as a simple oversight. Well, I should have realized how much fun skating would be…hey, maybe next time.

Mistakes — those things I regretted doing — caused harm. Little oversights and missed opportunities, not so much.

Now that I’m older and a little wiser, I can see it a bit differently. We shouldn’t live our lives being afraid of making mistakes and having regrets. Life should be about taking chances, daring to live our dreams, and doing things we love — even if we sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes, we even fail.

I see, too, that life really is all about choices. Letting an opportunity pass us by is a mistake, and afterward, we have only ourselves to blame. As we get older and look back over the years, what hurts most aren’t the things we did wrong but the things we neglected to do, the times we allowed our fears hold us back, the times we chose not to get involved.

Writing No Regrets has given me an opportunity to explore what “being sorry” means in our relationships with others — and in our relationship with ourselves. Through listening to my characters and sharing their stories, I’ve come to understand and fully embrace the need to be who we are, to follow our dreams, and above all, to dare to live passionately.

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HOW ABOUT YOU?

Would your rather be sorry for something you’ve done?

Or for something that you didn’t do?

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Thank you for visiting today.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Remember, each comment on my blog this month adds $1.00 to my May pledge to Reach Out and Read.


DID YOU KNOW: The State of Colorado once had a law that made it illegal to kiss a sleeping woman!  Watch for more fun and fascinating little facts to come. 


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Got a Problem?

LucyIt occurred to me last night as I was doing a little story planning that fiction writers should be the world’s greatest problem solvers. A large part of our job as we entertain readers is to keep conflicts and complications coming. We pour the troubles on, heaping them upon our valiant characters all in the name of testing them, proving them, and ultimately showing that they are, indeed, deserving of the happy ending we have planned. At least, that’s how it goes in romance.

Or, I should say, that’s how it’s supposed to go.

I was laughing at myself a bit as I pondered all the fictional problems I’ve dumped on characters over the years. I was taught early on that we should always ask “How can I make this worse?” In other words, don’t merely have the little boy lost in the woods…make it worse by adding in a thunderstorm. Worse still, have the sheriff and his men turn back because of the storm. And don’t just show the worried father. Make him suffer. Let him find the little boy ‘s shoes…and not just anywhere! Put those shoes beside the old creek.

Get the idea?

By the way, if you’ve happened to read Summertime, you’ll recognize this part of the storyline.

The problem with problems, though, is that after we’ve made the situation as difficult as it can possibly be, we have to figure out how to fix everything again. It’s not easy.

I recall a dramatic short-story I attempted to write many, many years ago. I had the beautiful woman running from her abusive boyfriend. I had the boyfriend half-crazed from hallucinations. I had his brother bravely rescuing the woman. I had the remote wilderness setting, the little cabin, and, of course, I had to have another storm. I had a raging rivers, too. Muddy roads.

The only thing I didn’t have was a way out. I did such a good job of putting them into an impossible situation that I never could find a way to save them. As far as I know, they’re still stuck in that little cabin, waiting for me to help them. Sorry, characters. It’s not going to happen.

What makes problem-solving especially tricky in fiction — beside all the obstacles we’ve stacked up — is that only certain legitimate solutions will work.  Readers have rules. We have to find real answers, not have our characters suddenly and miraculously saved by a convenient plot device, such as the well-known deus ex machina.

Deus ex machina: The term has evolved to mean a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Depending on how it is done, it can be intended to move the story forward when the writer has “painted himself into a corner” and sees no other way out…

From: Wikipedia – Deus ex Machina

Another problem with problem-solving is that, doggone it, the answers have to make sense. Sometimes that sure throws a wrench in the works. That happened back in my early story-telling days when I tried plotting a novel about a big, lovable fellow who just happened to have a problem with alcoholism. This has been so many years ago, I don’t remember the details, but I know at one point in the story, he stole a lot of money…from his boss. Yeah, I was trying to make the situation as bad as I could.

But then, I had to fix everything. Oh, I thought I was so clever. He went to his boss. He confessed. His kind-hearted boss, of course, told him “OK, it was wrong, but just pay me back, and I won’t fire you.”

Yeah, right. Like that’s really going to happen.

Hey, it was a long, long time ago! And, no, I never finished that novel.

I’d like to think I’ve learned a bit over the years, and I hope that the knowledge I’ve gained is reflected in the stories I write, the problems I throw at my characters, and the strengths I give them to draw upon as they work their way through tough, but believable situations in order to arrive at logical, satisfactory conclusions.

Yes, writers do indeed deal with a problems on a daily basis. We make them. We solve them. We’ve got an answer to everything. At least in fiction. Somehow, the problem-solving techniques we use in our stories don’t seem to work quite so well in real life. A pity, isn’t it.

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What’s YOUR problem?

No, I won’t offer to solve your problems. I won’t even put forth any advice. I’ll be busy today trying to straighten the twisted pathways I’ve created for the characters in my current WIP. Wish me luck!


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Question Everything

A friend — who happened to be a lawyer — once gave me this advice. “Never ask a question,” he said, “to which you don’t already know the answer.”

Huh? How’s that again?

Already I’m asking questions, and no, I don’t have the answers.

purple-question-mark-clip-art-yTkeBkkLcThat bit of advice is great for a trial lawyer who needs to know what answers to expect from a witness on the stand. In real life, it’s pointless. At least, that’ my humble opinion.

If I already know the answer to a question, there’s no reason to ask…is there? Yes, there’s another question. My mind this morning is filled with questions, questions, questions.

I’m very fortunate that I grew up in an environment where asking questions was encouraged. I can’t recall ever being taught not to question what was going on in the world around me. I was never told that certain people weren’t supposed to be questioned, or that certain beliefs were supposed to be accepted. The philosophy I was raised on was, “If you have questions, ask.”

There’s a lot more to asking questions, though, than simply tagging a question mark on at the end — in writing or by using verbal inflections in our speech. The real trick is learning how to ask the right questions.

Years ago when I studied conversational skills, I was taught not to ask “yes and no” questions. If you want to engage someone in conversation, provide them with an opportunity to share information or exchange ideas. So, instead of “Did you enjoy your vacation?” a better question would be “What did you do on your vacation?”

It’s a good principle. I have found out, however, that sometimes folks just don’t want to be dragged into a conversation. “What did you do on your vacation?” can be answered with “Nothing.” End of converstion. Or worse. The question can be answered with another question. “Why do you want to know?” Well, actually, I don’t, all right? It’s just an example.

Moving right along, asking too many questions can definitely make a person appear nosy or overly inquisitive. Questions can also sound accusatory if not phrased correctly. Instead of asking “How in the blazes did you screw that up so bad?”, it might be better to politely inquire, “What do you think went wrong?”

I’m being a trifle facetious. Would anyone really ask such an outrageous question? Yeah, I know some people who probably would.

Questions are important. We learn by asking questions. The truly surprising thing is that people are often hesitant to raise their hands and say “I’ve got a question.”

Sometimes we feel we’re supposed to grasp everything we’re being told. If we interrupt and ask a question, it might make us appear weak or less intelligent than others.

People also fail to ask questions because they think they already have all the answers. Instead of clarifying plans or information, they assume they know everything, and the results can sometimes be disastrous.

Yet another reason why people fail to ask questions is lack of time. They don’t want to slow down or put plans on hold by dredging up possible problems. Easier to ignore questions, plunge in, and hope for the best. Really? No, of course not. But that’s the approach a lot of people take. Maybe there’s a time and place for the “Shoot first, ask questions later,” approach, but failing to ask important questions at the start of a project can lead to bigger problems later on as well as a lot of wasted time.

While browsing around earlier, I found this information from Paul Sloane. He’s a creative thinker and the founder of Destination Innovation.

Try to practice asking more questions in your everyday conversations. Instead of telling someone something, ask them a question. Intelligent questions stimulate, provoke, inform and inspire. Questions help us to teach as well as to learn.

I definitely agree with Mr. Sloane. How about you?