A Whip Stitch Character

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The basic quality that any great story must have is a story that illustrates the human condition.” ~ William Shattner

Who is your favorite audio book narrator?

What’s that you say? “You’ve never listened to an audio book yet?”

What is you, crazy?

Audio books are on the rise and are greatly appreciated by those who are on the run. They allow for multi-tasking – while driving in the car, exercising or cooking dinner. You need not do a thing, only listen.

Here’s a list of some of the favorite audio book narrators of all time. Narrators like Maya Angelou and Garrison Keillor and others are well liked because their voices are so memorable.

Valentines 2016It was a fulfilling experience narrating my own audio book because the central character, Fanny, had a dialect I could emulate so well.  It is what many readers say “drew them into the story in the first place.”

If she were here today, “she say, you oughts to put dem earplugs in yo’ ears, and listen to a story. You don’t knows what you is missin’.”

Oh, how I miss that lady who was the heart and soul of my story. She was some kind of special. One might even call her a “whip stitch.” Just thinking about her makes me smile. And she sowed my heart in more ways than one.

If you are looking for a fun, memorable experience listen to the audio book version of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected through Audible. It’s downloadable within a few minutes. Any one of the formats – the award-winning audio book, e-book or paperback makes for a great Valentines gift for yourself or for someone in your family.  After all, it is a love story from several different perspectives!

Also available are 10 short stories cut from the EVVY award-winning manuscript, Gift of a Lifetime. Lessons of Heart & Soul gives readers a humorous and touching glimpse into the love of a family, just like the first publication. .

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.

Somewhere, a Twin Out There

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“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” ~― José N. Harris, MI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love
I’ve been feeling a little sad lately. My twin and I went to college with two other sets of twin sisters. A few weeks ago, I learned through web connections that one of the matched sets suffered the loss of her sister.  I have felt empathetic pain deep in my heart for the remaining sister as well as sorrow for the death of the other half. Life will certainly be different for the survivor and grief is handled differently by each person.  I hope the surviving sister can find solace in all the things that she finds fulfilling in her life.

According to Psychology Today, the loss of a twin is  unique grief because twins hold special love and kinship with one another. If you’ve never thought yourself as a twin, according to Julie Dillon, we all have twins out there in the world. If you share a rare bond with a friend, you know what it is like to have a kindred spirit.

For some people it may take a lifetime to find a companion who you feel an extraordinary connection with. It took three minutes for my double to appear in my life. Although we are not identical, the fraternal connection is very strong and different than the the other relationships in my life. My twin and I have laughed together, cried together, been partners in mischief, learned some hard lessons as a united team and celebrated as siblings who were born on the same day from the same mother.

twin hearts

 

I  didn’t mean to end this Friday on a “downer” but sometimes if we put voice to our emotions through writing, it helps us to feel a little better.  Anyone who has lost a very, very special friend will relate to this writing.  We are all human beings, and grief, in many forms, comes to each one of us at one time or another. It is part of the human condition and with each loss we are reminded to “treasure your relationships not your possessions.” ~ Anthony J. DeAngelo

 

See you on Monday with more happiness in my heart! I  have faith that it will be so! I promise~~

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

 

 

 

Families in Shipping and Commerce

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“Great people have great values and great ethics.” ~ Jeffrey Gitomer

I recently revisited a National Historic site that I remember from my childhood.  It’s just a couple of miles from where I grew up in Towson, Maryland.

Hampton Mansion, tagged as a “Palace in the Wilderness,” at one time equaled half the area of present day Baltimore. The site tells a story of early settlers, the Ridgely family, prominent Marylander’s who were colonial merchants in iron production, shipping and commerce. Ridgely’s iron was said to be “the most profitable exports in the mid-Atlantic colonies.” Read more about this tale of an industrious family who helped fuel a new nation.

The artifacts, beautiful gardens, parterres and vistas, the Georgian mansion, stables and workers quarters for the indentured servants are all evidence of a powerful businessman, who was said to be “genteel” kept “the best table in America” and was “very kind to his servants”. Written entries in journals evidence the care that was taken make Christmas gift lists for all the domestic help of the estate.

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Easter Eggs of the Past

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You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. ~ Fyoda Dostoyevsky

Oh, Easter Joy! Look at these little pretties that are pictured. I’ve been up since before the crack of dawn making them.

In my memory box from my childhood are recollections of the year my mother and my aunt Claire made my twin sister, two brothers and me, and our two cousins Jay and Karen (aka Meg) hand-crafted Easter eggs made out of mashed potatoes.  Yes, you read it right – mashed potatoes.

Although both my mother and my aunt (now in their mid-eighties)  have lucid memories of making these eggs, neither of them still have the recipe but I was able to track it down from A Taste of Home.

The candy is every bit as good and sweet as commercially made coconut-crème Easter eggs (sweet enough to send your preschooler on a jet propulsion sugar high until she/he graduates from college). Perhaps they do have a smidge more nutritional value since they are made with potatoes!

easter handmade chocolatesWhat a fulfilling morning I have had recreating a childhood memory by making my own hand-crafted coconut-creme eggs. Only thing missing was my mom and aunt by my side!  Mom & Claire – you are in my heart today and every day because of the memories you made for our family during our childhood.

Easter 4Readers, I share the recipe with you today while there is still time to make these candies for Easter for your family. They are really quite easy!

Recipe: Mashed Potato Hand-Crafted Easter Eggs from A Taste of Home

1/2 cup butter softened (I used no-salt butter)

1/2 cup cold mashed potatoes (cold is important) -plain – prepared without added milk & butter)

2 lbs confectioners sugar

1 1/2 cups flaked coconut

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 lb of dark chocolate candy coating (such as Wilton Candy Melts) – Walmart has these

In bowl, cream butter and beat in mashed potatoes. Add coconut and vanilla and then add in confectioners sugar. You may need less or more sugar until you have a somewhat stiff dough.

Line cookie sheet with waxed paper and dot with tablespoon size clumps of the mixture. Refrigerate 4 -6 hours. Once refrigerated the candy mixture will stiffen up and be easier to work with to shape into egg shaped forms.

In microwave oven melt candy coating according to directions and dip oval shaped (egg shaped) candy into the chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip off. Decorate with sprinkles or other candy decorations or leave plain. Place on waxed paper and chill once again until set. Store these in refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes approx 96 candies. The recipe can be halved easily.

Easter book promo

Return tomorrow there will be an Easter gift from me to you! You will be able listen to an audio narration of an Easter story from a chapter of my award-winning audio book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. The audio book is narrated by it’s author, Sue Batton Leonard.

Calling All Valentines Procrastinators

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“Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.”  ~Richard Bach

You knew you shouldn’t have, but you did it anyway, right? You’ve waited to the last minute to think about what to give to your loved one for Valentine’s Day. It’s tomorrow!

“Oh, no,” you say, “time got away!”

You can place your order today and have Short Stories: Lessons of Heart and Soul delivered within minutes as a gift for a loved one since it’s an e-book. It’s perfect for ages twelve and up. A little humor that is family friendly and a wonderful hero with subtle messages are all inside the storyline.

IMG_20150110_153738_111  resized 50%Have a great weekend, everyone. See you back here on All Things Fulfilling on Monday. This blog is brought to you by the award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

Colored Me Beautifully

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Do you remember back when civilty and common courtesy ruled? Please understand I share this story as an example of those times, not for self-serving purposes. I mean that.

My mother recently went through her hope chest, and sent some wonderful things that she had been saving for me. I couldn’t believe what she held on to for so many years.

In 1974, when I was 19 years old, I had a car accident. It was nothing more than a small fender bender and I think my Dad paid for the damages out of his pocket they were so minimal. At the time I thought it was the biggest tragedy that had ever befallen me. Never did it occur to me that I had been through much worse than that and survived the experience.

My twin sister was in the passenger seat and there were no injuries other than to the spirit. I was beside myself. (You know how teenage girls tend to over react, right?) I felt awful I had damaged someone else’s car and my parent’s vehicle.

I couldn’t believe the kindness the man that I rammed into showed me. He offered to come home with me to help me tell my parents because I was such a wreck. My sister can testify that the man upheld his offer.

Furthermore, after it was all done and over, the wife of the man I rammed into sent this note to my parents to let him know their car had been repaired and all was well. No hard feelings.

note about my car accident when 19 correct position

(Truthfully, I don’t have any clue what I said or did to warrant the comments on this note.)

Today’s message on All Things Fulfilling is for all parents. I want to share what John Locke once said, “We are like cameleons, we take our color and our hue of our moral character, from those who are around us.” ~ John Locke

Paint a picture of people

Thank you, Mom & Dad. I am so glad I grew up in an era of old-fashioned civilty and you raised me to have a strong moral compass. According to Locke, your colors must have rubbed off on me.  I hope I always stay true to my values.

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, Sue Batton Leonard.

 

 

 

 

Valuing the Right Things

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Planning is bringing the future into the present, so you can do something about it now. ~ Alan Lakein

Happy February 1st! You know what that means. Valentine’s Day is around the corner – just two weeks away and the pressure is on to find the perfect present.

Valentine’s Day is not just for adults. If you have children who are twelve or older, sometimes finding a token of love to give them for Valentine Day is even more of a challenge. Especially if you are looking for something that will fuel your offspring’s understanding of love rather than provide fuel for a sugar high or fuel the idea that love is all about some high priced item.

If you are a parent who is attempting to raise children who will have their values in the right place in life, the ten stories in Lessons of Heart and Soul are very appropriate for ages 12+. They give a jumping off point to handling those important conversations you have been meaning to have with your children. There is nothing that helps get a conversation started better than humor – that’s inside it!

The cost of the e-book is less than the cost of cards in retail stores. So you don’t need to make a big financial investment. Your children’s understanding of relationships might be substantially different after reading Lessons of Heart and Soul.

Lessons of Heart V4 Cover JPEG  50% resized

P.S. Did you know 46% of all children have already read e-books? You can even download a Kindle on a computer. No need to go to great expense until you and your family decide if you like reading from a tech gadget.

Twin Telepathy

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My thoughts are free to go anywhere, but it’s surprising how often they head in your direction. ~Author Unknown

Sue & Jan Mt Werner

A few days before Christmas I filled the teapot with water, set it on the stove to heat, picked up the phone and dialed my sister’s phone number. I turned the burner up to HI just as my sister picked up the receiver on the other end and immediately said “Hello! Hold on a minute will ya, Sue, I want to put my tea kettle on.”

“Yep,” I thought as I waited, “we’ve still got it – that twin telepathy thing.”

When she returned to the phone I said, “What a coincidence. Just this minute I put water on to heat for a cuppa, too.”

Mind you, I am in Colorado and she is in Maryland. Although in two different time zones, we were both ready for a cup of tea at the same exact time.

It often turns out that we call each other simultaneously, both feeling  like we need to have a good long visit.

“I wanted to speak with you before real the holiday confusion sets in. I have been in touch with some blasts from the past.”

“Like who? Who have you been in touch with?” Jan asked, sounding very curious, and as if she had missed out on something.

“Oh some people we knew in high school. I’ve connected through social media.”

I began to name them off. We had a great time recalling the good old days and people neither of us have been in touch with for nearly four decades!

Do you have people you would like to be back in touch with? Did you know reconnecting with old friends is good for your health? Here’s an article that will be of interest. http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/wellness/staying-connected-to-the-past

What better New Year’s gift could you give a long lost friend or relative than the gift of your voice? I’ve tried to do that through a different kind of medium  – in my memoir writing!

Reconnect to a long-lost friend or acquaintence before another year goes by and you delay it. Wishing you a fulfilling year ahead with good health and lots of renewed friendships! Happy 2015!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Short Stories: Lessons of Heart & Soul and the award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. For more information, go to http://www.allthingsfulfilling.com/about-the-book/.

 

 

Advent Day #20 Remembering to Give

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share your blessings

As a thank you to our readers, today I am going to share an audio chapter of Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

One of the most valuable lessons in my lifetime was learning as a child that the spirit of Christmas should be extended to others. In fact, being grateful and thinking of others rather than ourselves is one of the best cures for whatever ails us.

A week ago, I volunteered a few hours helping with a United Way project here in Steamboat. I was awestruck by the charitable hearts of the people in our community. Corporations, retail establishments, individuals and churches all came together to make sure no one who needs assistance will go hungry and without a gift for Christmas.

A holiday shopping market of toys and clothing and other necessities that makes Christmas feel special was set up for families in the auditorium at Colorado Mountain College. Hundreds of volunteers helped with the effort.

Kate Nowak, Executive Director of Routt County United Way is to be commended for her efforts in leading the way in pulling it all together.

Being neighborly and remembering to give of ourselves through volunteering and other thoughtful gestures means much to those who need to be lifted up. For the giver, it can also lead to a few symptoms of the advent virus – “contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature and frequent attacks of smiling.”

In chapter 29 titled  “The Gift of Life” in the award-winning memoir by yours truly there’s a poignant holiday story that families can share together about being grateful every day of your life. Listen in here.