Bringing Cheer over the Holidays

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Let’s state something up front! There is no perfect life. There just isn’t. Postings on social media might lead us to believe otherwise but, remember, we are often only seeing the good parts. During the holidays people ramp up their efforts to create images of having perfect lives and Christmases.

Everyone has struggles and things to overcome in life. But as they say, what you do with those challenges is what counts. That is why it’s important that for those who have inspirational stories to tell and feel they could write a book about it, to do so. The reason I penned a memoir in the first place was to help others who struggle with health issues understand that our attitudes profoundly affect our well-being.

I’m very proud to say that this past Christmas, thanks to the Mickey Barrows Memorial Endowed Fund which “benefits children who are confined to the hospital during the holidays,” copies of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected found their way to families through the Childrens Colorado Foundation in the Denver area. The hope for the initiative is that the book brought some smiles and cheer to faces and encouragement to teen cardiac patients who were hospitalized during the holidays. The book has won the Harvest Book Award in the young adult category and two EVVY awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

So, for anyone who is considering writing a narrative that will bring light and love to others, here is my message: Help others to know you are never alone.

Your story matters!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul and the EVVY award-winning anthology Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

See you back here on Monday!

 

 

Into the Heart of the Story

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An angel can fly directly into the heart of the matter. ~ Unknown

Time is running out! Order the three time award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected right now for the entire family to enjoy reading together. It is available in audio book (the voice holds the real treasure!) and the e-book and can be delivered in just a few minutes. It’s  not too late to order the paperback either. It may arrive at your doorstep before Xmas if you jump right on it.

Since Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected was published, a few of the most common remarks from readers have been:

“I wanted to be part of YOUR family!” 

another reader said:

I read the story slowly, a little bit each evening, because I didn’t want it to be over!

Why? Because the truths from the stellar character, Fanny, were told in a manner that involved hilarity and unconventional wisdom. Life long lessons were taught by a human being with a limited education who knew how to go directly to the heart in every manner. Fanny’s unique translation of the gospel truth can be grasped by children.

 

Recipe for an angel

See you back here on Monday, on All Things Fulfilling! I will look forward to your company.

Dear Santa 2015

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December, 2015

Dear Santa,

635524489837773185-write-santaI hope you haven’t had your fill of yearly letters from me yet. This December I have an even larger request. Over the past few years you’ve marvelously delivered what I’ve asked for so I hope you can
pull things off for me once more.

Three or four years ago I requested that you provide me with memories of my childhood so I could pen a memoir. Things came through very clearly.

The next year I was lagging in the motivation to finish the publication. Miraculously, persistance and determination began to show up more frequently. Thus, I accomplished my goal. Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected came into the marketplace.

Last year, as you may remember, when I read my Dear Santa letter at the Steamboat Writers Group Xmas party I asked you for two gifts – to deliver some creative ideas on fresh ways to market my memoir and ideas for a new publication. Out of a small twinkle I once saw in your eye Santa, my e-book Lessons of Heart & Soul came into being.

I’m a little concerned that I am really overstepping my limits this year. I have a larger request than ever. Regretfully for you, but fortunately for me, my love of writing keeps leading me forward which requires asking for what could be harder to fill requests every year.

Santa, I am in dire need of a new computer. I mean, the one I’ve got I can tell is nearly worn out. I am grateful that it still is hanging in there.  I can always go work in the library, if  you can not fulfill my request. After all, it’s a beautiful environment – bright, cozy warm and the technology is all there. Problem is we are limited in the number of hours we can use their computers.  There are lots of other people who need them. I understand. I’m not kidding, I really do. Sometimes I awake in the middle of the night…and you know what William Faulkner says about that – “if there’s story is in you, it’s got to come out.

This year I’ve been asked to edit a publication and I need to contribute a chapter to the book also. I could work a little more efficiently if I had a new computer.

Lastly, Santa, I need a larger spark of interest in my ancestors because I have become involved in a genealogy writers group. Although I love to write about my memories, and I have a new found love of writing fiction, my most recent foray into a story can not come from just my own opinions. I’ll need some facts to better substantiate what I intend to write about. Can you help me out with that?

I’ve been a good girl. I always work hard at whatever I am doing. I’ve gotten my work ethics from my forebearers! I am not a slacker. I try to be kind and compassionate, like you. I help others to successfully accomplish their independent publishing goals by sharing my knowledge. It’s what I love to do!

Say, I have an idea! How about one year you and Mrs. Claus write love letters to one another about the spirit of Christmas.  They will be in kept in the family archives for generations. All your little elves down the line will love it too. I’ll help you if I have the means to do so. That is… with my new computer… (Hint, hint!)

P.S. Please don’t forget to take some time out for yourself. It keeps you healthy and in the right spirit of Christmas. Love U! Sue

Elemental Truths

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When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story’s voice makes everything its own.”  ~ Unknown

In the Oven, a chapter in the award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected is one family’s Christmas story. The anthology shares an elemental truth about many life lessons which are shared in a unique voice. Adults and children can enjoy the memoir together.

The real treasure lies in the audio book. For your reading pleasure, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected is also available in paperback and e-book. Pictures in both of these formats greatly enhance the reading pleasure.

Here is what other readers say about Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

I enjoyed Gift of a Lifetime so much I read it three times. What a character was Fanny. So much devotion to God and the family. ~ Leonie, from Brisbane, Australia

Such a heartwarming and inspiring story. The author did an amazing job and it was a very easy read! Once I started I did not want to put it down. I will definitely pass this one on to my friends and family. ~ Pam

Fanny and her winsome ways are a must read! Can’t wait to also listen to the audio version of this inspirational book. ~ Grace

cookiesI really loved this book because it is so well written. It is personalized story of how the “help” (Fanny) had such a positive influence on the young children in the Batton family. This is a story of love and wisdom sprinkled with humor to get through adversity. ~ Carol

This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard. Do return to All Things Fulfilling.

 

Finding the Upside to Life

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When you were a child, do you remember sitting at the Thanksgiving table being asked what you were thankful for? It was so awkward. I hoped and prayed that all things that anyone could possibly be grateful for would be mentioned before it was my turn to speak up.

There was always the person at the table that had some profound thought or reflection to share but not in my family. Thankfully, I am happy that we were allowed to be silly and if the only thing we could think of was to say we were grateful for our animals, that was good enough. No stiff collars in our clan.

So, on this day before Thanksgiving, here is my thought for tomorrow. I am immensely happy to spread the joy of this notion with you, if you can relate to it!

mother cutting hair

Whenever you are having a bad day, I’d suggest visiting this website. There are also lots of fun things “from out of the mouths of babes” to  turn your frown upside down on this You Tube video

As we age, we begin to recognize the upside to the downside of life. It was the impetus behind my writing of an award-winning anthology of stories called Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. With age, comes wisdom.

See you back here tomorrow on Turkey Day, I will be sharing more memories of Thanksgivings of my childhood. This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Family of Composites

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Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life! ~Albert Einstein

“She’s just like her father,” or “the apple didn’t fall far from that tree,” is often heard at every family reunion, celebration of birth or funeral.

I challenge you to find a family where all members are exactly alike. The family of man is made up of  individuals with unique characteristics  – physical, emotional and intellectual. A group of composites makes life interesting.

When our family gets together we are loud and possibly overbearing to outsiders. Having a healthy sense of humor is the best defense a newcomer can arrive with if they want to survive the experience.

Crazy woman wearing a metal colander for a helmet

I am grateful that my family and all those who came to it through marriage enjoy being with each other.  We try to avoid talking politics or dietary choices. We have “agreed to disagree” on those issues. Sometimes we successfully respect the unspoken ground rules and other times things get a little vocal. What do you expect from a bunch of fruits and nuts from the harvest of America’s people who all have their own opinions and were raised differently?

As you will learn from my memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, we’ve had many crazy times around our family table whether it was a holiday or not. The audio book holds the real treasure and you can get a better picture of what I mean when you listen to the voices.

The recounting of those family stories (from the EVVY award-winning anthology) was before our clan expanded to include my husband and our offspring and my siblings spouses and their families. Since then, there have been more lessons of heart & soul that have been learned from extended family.

 

 

 

A Holiday Challenge

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If you visited All Things Fulfilling yesterday, welcome back! We are grateful for our strong reader base that is continually growing!

Getting back to the basics has been a topic this week and today we will continue that theme. Combating the high value placed on material goods is a struggle for some families. Last night, I became aware of an initiative that might seem just right for your family. If not this year, perhaps it’s something to work towards in the future.

As you put together your holiday gift list, strive to give your loved one’s

only one of  these four things:

only-4-christmas-gifts-for-kids-something-you-want-something-you-need-something-to-wear-and-something-to-read.

 Add one more item to this list.  #5 Teach your children the value of giving to others.

Pick out one  item from these four categories and donate it from your family to another family in need in your community.  Have your children go along for the ride and drop it off at a thrift shop, a Salvation Army box, a local church, a non-profit organization or a community food kitchen. Although it may not seem like much, keep in mind that for many receiving all four items for Christmas would be beyond their wildest dreams.

Remember: People overestimate the pleasure they’ll get from having more stuff. This does not apply to new rose bushes, crayons, or yarn stashes. ~Dr. SunWolf

(P.S. Because it is wavering Wednesday, you are allowed to modify this quote with what feeds your soul!)

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

 

 

Flaws in Character and Writing

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Two weeks ago Charles Shields, author of 20 histories and biographies for young adults came to the Bud Werner Memorial Library to talk about his knowledge of Harper Lee and her two publications, To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman.

Shields publications Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee and I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee reveal a multitude of little known facts about Lee’s childhood life prior to becoming an author.

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  • She left law school and moved to New York City to become an author. However, her dreams of becoming a full-time writer were delayed because she needed to find a way to pay her expenses, so she became an airline reservationist for a period of about eight or ten years.
  • A neighbor and playmate was Truman Capote, author of In Cold Blood
  • She and Capote hauled a 12 pound Underwood typewriter up to their tree house where they’d sit for hours and write and discuss ideas for stories.
  • Upon her fathers death, Harper Lee inherited her father’s watch, which she in turn gave to Gregory Peck who played her father (Atticus) in the 1962 movie To Kill A Mockingbird.

In his book talk, Shield’s certainly provided the audience with a wealth of information about the author and her two books. To sum it up, Shields says that “Mockingbird” asks the reader for compassion, while “Watchman” asks the reader for forgiveness. I agree with this statement. It helped me to  lay aside my own profound sadness for Scout when she finds out at the end of “Watchman” her father was not the man she thought he was.

During the Q & A session one of the audience members mentioned that she was bothered by the fact that “Watchman” was released in it the same form the original manuscript was written. I personally appreciated that the publication was released “unpolished.” I hope the lady in the audience can forgive and understand perhaps why “Watchman” was released without copy editing. I believe the “raw state” of the publication adds to the historical value to the writing from a Pulitzer-prize American author whose work has certainly held up to the test of time.

Tonight I look forward to the community discussion to wrap up the One Book Steamboat series, which has received attention from the National Library Association newsletter.

Thanks once again to Bud Werner Memorial Library for a fulfilling opportunity to learn all we can about one of America’s most beloved authors.

This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Life Stories Altered

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If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. ~Abigail Van Buren

Today’s narrative is about raising children. The other day I was in the library and picked up a copy of Psychology Today magazine and came across an article called in the October 2015 issue called Crisis U.

Long story short, the article by Hara Estroff Marano was about the “downstream consequences of kids being shielded from failure and adversity all their lives.”

“How does this happen?” You might ask.

There are a lot of psychologists, sociologists and behaviorists looking at this syndrome –  students who get great grades, yet are lacking in skills of taking care of themselves or they are developmentally delayed in their life skills. It happens due to over-involved parents or “helicopter parents.”

An expert, a dean from Sanford University recently appeared on Fox News talking about this very troubling issue facing young adults. Here is his article.

Several winters ago at Colorado Mountain College in a public speaking class, I presented a talk on Helicopter Parenting. I outlined how to  recognize the signs that indicate when parents are over-involved and the results on the behavioral patterns of young adults. I received high accolades from the teacher. She said “I fully convinced her how detrimental this is to the student.”HelicopterParentsIf you have children, I’d suggest you read these articles because a lifetime story can be altered in harmful ways when parents do not allow their children to learn age appropriate lessons (such as coping, resilience and resourcefulness) themselves. It can create a life-long dependency on parents that is unhealthy.

This blog is brought to you by the award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

 

 

 

Friendship and Courage

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Friends give us the courage to lift the blinds on our hearts. To open up and show what we generally keep hidden from the rest of the world.” ~ Unknown

One day, several months after Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected was published, my phone rang. It was a surprise call from one of my childhood friends.

“How did you do that?” asked the caller.

“Do what?” I asked.

“Write all that stuff about yourself.”

“I don’t know, ” I said to my friend. “I felt the need to tell the story and share it with children who are going through tough stuff in life. Besides, I felt safe. I knew that my true friends who didn’t know about my childhood medical history, wouldn’t abandon me when they knew the facts. (And believe me – to many my story came as a surprise!) True friends don’t do that.”

GS2When I spoke with the Girl Scouts this spring we talked about the importance of  including a diversity of people in our circle of friends. “People who may be different can teach us to look at things differently,” I said.

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As the eve of the Girl Scout Campfire and Reunion approaches, can’t help but think about the song we used to most frequently sing in Girl Scouts. “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”

I look forward to making new acquaintances with others who also benefitted from the days of being a member of the Girl Scouts.