Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

if you’ll only look June 5, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 9:25 am
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I’d pick beach stones over diamonds any day. Diamonds are obvious and flashy, beautiful in a cold and untouchable way, but the stones nestled in the sand? They feel incredible in your hand, smooth and touchable. Diamonds may be unbreakable, but beach stones? They’re adaptable. Caught between powerful waves and abrasive sand, they grow smoother and more consistent. Diamonds catch the light and make it fly, but when you reach through the lapping water and pick up a stone, it literally glows in your hand. Then the breeze starts to dry the stone, and you watch the colours fade until there is only pale texture against your skin. Diamonds demand the admiration of everyone, but the beauty of a stone nestled in the sand and half-hidden by the water can only be enjoyed by those who are willing to search. True beauty is like that, I think. Born in humility, polished by difficult circumstances, and all around us – if you’ll only look.

 

30 Before 30: Redux June 3, 2011

Filed under: 30 before 30,Blahging — bethanyjoy @ 9:00 am
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I had great plans last summer to complete my 30 before 30 list. Then life happened. Which is fine…my motivation behind the original list was a desire to live with intent, rather than letting life sweep me along. Intentional living involves planning…but it also involves seizing the opportunities as they come, rather than being so fixated on any given goal that you miss the chances that grow out of a busy life. Here’s where the 30 before 30 list ended up:

Bethany’s (revised and altered) 30 before 30

(for the original list, click here)

  1. Go to an amusement park without the kids and ride all the big roller-coasters August 8, 2010
  2. Assemble a family tree picture wall. It didn’t happen quite as I envisioned it…but I did sort, print, and frame a bunch of family photos…and even got them up on the wall. September 2010
  3. Start jogging with my 6-year-old. He wins.
  4. Sew a slipcover for the couch.  July 2010
  5. Knit Bry a sweater. October 2010
  6. Design and publish at least two new knitting/crocheting patterns.  They aren’t online yet, but I’ve written a few for the students in my knitting class. January 2011
  7. Find super comfy jeans that fit. May 2011 (This is always worth celebrating. 😉 )
  8. Stop biting my fingernails  April 2011
  9. Write another NANOWRIMO novel.  Completed November 29, 2010! 54, 755 words. Woot-woot!
  10. Write my 3rd novel. In progress…
  11. Spend weekend stripping wallpaper, painting, and visiting with my Nana. Nov. 2010
  12. Get a book I own signed by the author  “The Gathering” signed by Kelley Armstrong, May 2011
  13. Learn how to make really.really.really.yummy custard. Mmmm. April 2011
  14. Find a new band/musical artist that I *love*. Mumford & Sons! February 2011
  15. Start writing poetry again. Ongoing!
  16. Make my own pasta. Not quite…but I’ve developed kickass bread-baking skills instead. Yum!
  17. Learn to make beaded stitch markers. Knitting bling. It’s all that. 😉
  18. Share written work with others for critique and input. Winter/Spring 2011 – This is probably the goal I’m most proud of, it required a massive amount of willpower/courage for me, but has proved incredibly helpful and encouraging.
  19. Go away with hubby for longer than 24 hours! We owe the Ultimate Uncle and Awesomest Aunt big-time. 🙂
  20. Discover new (to me) authors I enjoy: Jeanine Frost, Seanan McGuire, Lois Macmaster Bujold, Rob Thurman, Jennifer Estep, Scott Westerfield.
  21. Use the camera on my iPhone. So it’s not DSLR…but since it’s always within reach, at least I’m using it to document life on a regular basis. 🙂
  22. Grow hair out. Although, I’m not giving up on the purple yet…
  23. Find & attend a writing circle. Winter 2011
  24. Learn how to remember people’s names when I meet them. Still needs improvement, but I’m getting better. The key is to use the name at least 3 times in the initial meeting, if possible.
  25. Go downhill skiing. No…but I went zip-lining instead. Wheeeeeee!
  26. Learn to knit with beads. Lace with beads, even. Mad skillz, those… 😉
  27. Get a part-time job. This one was an unplanned goal, and has had a major impact on the changes to this list. It’s been good, though – a few hours out of the house each week is good for one’s sanity.
  28. Complete ACE English (final grade: 95%)
  29. Start teaching knitting classes. Another unexpected event! One of my favorite things now…
  30. Take bellydancing lessons. I still want to do this! Unfortunately I’ve somehow ended up taking math instead. Don’t ask me how THAT happened. *sigh*

And since this post is all about lists, here’s another:

Lessons Learned in the Last Year:

  1. Perfection is a foolish goal. Strive for excellence instead.
  2. You’re less likely to say something in anger that you’ll regret later if you sit down, lower your voice, and look the other person in the eyes during an argument.
  3. Colorful scarves and nail polish make any day better.
  4. Deep breathing is almost as good as chocolate when you’re feeling stressed. (Chocolate + breathing = even better.)
  5. Peace comes from knowing who you are, what you need, and where you want to go.
 

Opening Lines June 2, 2011

Filed under: Writing — bethanyjoy @ 9:50 am
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Opening lines are to fiction what chocolate chips are to cookies – you’ve gotta have ’em. There’s a lot of good ones out there, but the truly great opening lines have three things in common:

  1. They plant the reader’s feet on the story’s ground by providing an initial sense of place, time, and character.
  2. They tease the imagination by providing just enough hints or clues to the plot of the story to make the reader ask questions.
  3. They establish the tone of the story – humorous, dark, sarcastic, narrative, etc.

For example:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

“‘Live life balls out,’ Katie Kramer told herself every night, and even though she didn’t own a pair, she hoped the mantra would keep the nightmares away. It never did.” – Jill Shalvis, Instant Attraction

“I have to. I’ve been fighting it all night long. I’m going to lose. My battle is as futile as a woman feeling the first pangs of labour and deciding it’s an inconvenient time to give birth. Nature wins out. It always does.” – Kelley Armstrong, Bitten

“I stiffened at the red and blue lights flashing behind me, because there was no way I could explain what I had in the back of my truck.” – Jeanine Frost, Halfway to the Grave

“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.” Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree

Regardless of length or genre, the opening line of a story is a powerful tool, both for writers trying to captivate readers, and for readers trying to choose their next story. Skip the blurb on the back, and check out the opening line instead – it should make you want another cookie.

 

Do you have a favourite opening line from a book, story or movie? I’d love to hear it…

 

 

Balancing On One Foot May 16, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 10:00 am
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i’m at the crossroads,

with multiple paths open before me

all of them twisting with detours

and alternate routes due to construction

my hands are full of questions

doubts

hopes

dreams

wonderings

fears

and the weight of my limitations tug at me

until i’m wavering precariously on one foot,

trembling and shaking

trying to balance of all the possibilities

and i know that soon something will change

the question is

will my foot fall on a path of my choosing

or

will the weight of it all propel me

somewhere i never expected to go

and in the end

will it really matter how the choice is made?

 

Just Another Day April 13, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 8:37 pm
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1 cup of coffee

2 lunches packed

2 children taken to school

2 others brought back

1 more cup of coffee (ok, I’ll admit to 2)

1,980 words written

2 block towers built and kicked

3 sinks of dishes washed

1 handful of bubbles hurled

3 meals made and shared

1,560 stitches knit

8 little snacks prepared

2 loads of laundry processed

5 chapters of a favorite book

1 child taken to ER

1 prescription filled

1 of 30 doses given

1 blog post shared

Just another day in an ordinary life.

A little bit crazy, and a little bit fun.

A  little bit excitement, and a little bit dull.

A little bit of wonder, a little bit of fear.

Just another day. Just another year…

 

Wordplay April 3, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 8:44 pm
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The woman stared at her computer.

The exhausted mother stared wearily at her computer screen.

The exhausted mother stared with dagger-like intensity at the glowing screen of her computer.

 

She tried to think of something to write about.

She struggled to find anything interesting to write.

She wrestled futilely with her muse, but inspiration hovered just beyond her grasp.

 

This, she thought, was the hardest part of writing.

Keeping things simple, she thought, was the part of writing she struggled with the most.

Propping her head on her hands, she stared at what she’d typed and realized – not for the first time – that finding the balance between adding enough detail to bring a piece to life but not so much as to suffocate it was really, freaking hard.

 

Making Time: A Pep Talk In Pictures March 30, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids,Simplicity,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 9:48 am
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Some days, I feel like this:

Other days, I feel like this:

 

What makes the difference?

What lights you up inside?

Find out, and make it happen every day, even if only for a minute or two.

Trust me, it’s not being selfish. It’s being smart. Charge your light, and let it shine…

because everyone in your world will feel it if you don’t. 😉

 

 
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