Oh, those childhood memories–rabbit, hobo, gypsy and bat costumes, sugary school parties with little plastic witches and candy pumpkins perched on orange frosted cupcakes, and staying up late for It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. But no memory can compare with the annual candy-coated ritual of trick or treating.
It may not be socially acceptable for a 50-something “kid” to go door-to-door on All Hallows’ Eve, not even one who writes for children, BUT that doesn’t mean trick or treating is entirely out of reach. Check out this list of (entirely treacherous) tricks that can trip up even the most tenacious writer. BUT don’t stop there! A list of tempting treats is ready for all of you, my tiny talented toffee topped wordsmiths and creative caramel apple artists.
Salty Self Sabotage. I should be further along by now and everybody knows it.
Jealous Beans. Every writer (minus me) mastered Scrivener in 24 hours.
Lazy Lolliplops. Thinking about writing is equivalent to fingers on keyboard writing.
Bitter Gummy Bears. I can hop on Facebook for ten minutes, then hop right off.
Delusional Lemon Drops. If I finally manage to get published, my life will burst into unicorn shaped rainbow bubbles.
Goody Gumdrops. Take a 3-day holiday from social media.
Lickity Split Licorice. Set a timer and give yourself 20 minutes to tidy your desk. Admire. Have a sweet treat.
Come Away Caramels. Register for a seminar, workshop or conference.
Candied Dates. Make a date with your most encouraging friend.
Butterscotch Boosters. Open your file of uplifting notes and enjoy rereading a few.
This year’s summer giveaway has been my favorite. Reading your childhood memories sparked my recollections of so far gone summers.
Running throughthe sprinkler with my sister or wading in our little dark green inflatable pool with a smiling dolphin looking up from the bottom. (I feared sea creatures back then, and would only wade around the inner perimeter of the pool because I didn’t want to step on that dolphin. He looked suspiciously sharky to me and I wanted to keep all ten toes.)
Loading up the car on a hot afternoon and heading to a local lake or river and coming home with sand stuck to my “everywheres.”
Picking strawberries with my mom.
Going to Vacation Bible School.
Slurping home-frozen popsicles.
Rambling family road trips.
Reading outside while swatting away maddening mosquitoes.
Watching my sister catch tadpoles and frogs in the creek near our house (again, only watching – you know, the whole “sea life” thing).
Donning PJs and going to a drive-in movie.
Eating corn on the cob with no front teeth.
Being bothered by the sound of chirping crickets when we moved from our city house to the country.
Having a lemonade stand (which was a challenge considering we lived on a dead end street).
Falling off the jungle gym repeatedly (no wonder I have back issues).
Wearing a gob of baking soda paste on a bee sting. And calamine lotion on poison ivy bumps.
Riding my brown Huffy around and around our subdivision.
Building a fort in the woods with my neighborhood friends.
Staying with my aunt and cousin (a boy) and playing GI Joes on a sandy hill.
Watching the lights change on the waterfall fountain my grandpa had built into the side of a hill.
Going out for A&W root beer.
Strolling through the sensory overload that was the county fair.
Eating watermelon and trying not to swallow the seeds. (Who wants to have a melon belly with green vines coming out your ears?)
Getting to stay up late. Following fireflies. Counting stars.
Learning to love the sound of the crickets outside our open bedroom windows.
Feeling like summer was an entire year unto itself.
See what you started?
So, thank you very much to everyone who shared a memory, a story or a snippet of their childhood summer memories. I enjoyed reading all of them. The winner of this year’s giveaway package was chosen at random, but after you read her submission, I think you’ll agree, she deserves the prize times two.
My warmest, summery congratulations to Rachel Anderson! You’ve won a prize package filled with snacks, a craft book, a journal, a slinky and all sorts of fun stuff. Be watching your mail box!
Rachel shared this summer memory:
As a kid way back in the day, my ultimate favorite thing to do was to ride horses with my sister. We rode for miles and miles, jumping creeks, racing through hayfields and plodding lazily along rivers. Life was good.
Here is part of a poem I wrote about riding:
Two little sisters, eight and ten, Dashed up to the farm and then Jumped on horses for a ride Raced the field, side by side. Galloping without a care Going here and going there.
What a lovely memory. Enjoy these last lingering days of summer, my little strawberry shortcakes.
Every summer, like roses, childhood returns. ~ Marty Rubin
Summer may be slip-sliding away, but there’s still time for my blog’s seasonal giveaway.
To enter, all you need to do is comment on this or any post on my blog. Tell me your favorite summertime thing to do when you were a kid. That’s it!
Deadline: Noon on Wednesday, August 14. So hurry!
Your Prize Package will include:
Journal to Capture Sparks of Brilliance On-the-Go
One of a Kind Doodle with Your Initials in It
Manual Thought Generator (aka a Slinky!)
Disclaimer(s):No purchase necessary (or even an option). Shipping & handling included. Safe when used as directed. Do not submerge. Batteries not included. Dryclean only. Frog on a Dime is furnishing this Prize Package “as is.” None of the authors, contributors, agents, editors, miscreants, vandals, ambidextrous nose miners, or anyone else connected with Frog on a Dime, in any way whatsoever, can be held responsible for your (mis)use of the contents of the Prize Package. Remain seated until the ride has come to a complete stop. Do not refrigerate after opening. Contents may settle during shipment. Prize Package sold by weight, not by volume. Frog on a Dime does not provide any warranty of the item(s) whatsoever, whether expressed, implied, or statutory (whatever that is), including, but not limited to, any warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or any warranty that the contents of the item will be error-free (because). Use at your own risk. Subject to approval. Driver does not carry cash. No substitutions. Do not fold, staple or mutilate. Some restrictions apply (but you can’t make me say what). Void where prohibited. Employees must wash hands. For off-road use only. All terms and conditions shall be rendered null and void on a whim. If state laws apply to you, some or all of the above disclaimers, exclusions, or limitations may not apply to you and you may have additional rights. (Go You!) I know you are but what am I. This tag may not be removed except by the consumer under penalty of law. (Ooo, scary!) See store for details.
A Bohemian earth mother or a wee-winged sprite whirring through clouds of opal pixy dust. That’s how other writers might describe their muse. My muse is, well, she’s not like that. I was going to say she’s indescribable, but that would make for a mighty short post, my little salted caramel squares.
One day I would love for you to meet Enid, my extraordinary muse. Rain or shine Enid wears a double breasted camel coat with a Union Jack pin on the lapel, a hat that you can roll to jam into a suitcase, dark support hose and Crocks. She’s instructed me to let you know that she’s foregoing the ankle bracelet in 2020 and swapping her orange Crocks for green. Ever the fashion plate, my Enid.
What’s in Enid’s bulging plaid book bag? Enid’s packing PW, the 2009 Writers Market, Levenger’s catalogs, an autographed John Grisham novel (don’t ask), a bag of Hershey’s miniatures (with all of the dark chocolates ones missing), one of those fancy wooden boxes of assorted tea bags, her PBS travel mug and a paddle ball game. (She likes to play with that when she’s getting impatient with me.)
I didn’t always have a muse. For the first few years of serious writing attempts, I had to be self-musing. Enid came into my life after the writer she was bemusing moved out of state and Enid opted to stay here to be closer to her grandchildren. (I know. I had no idea muses could have grandmuses.)
Enid typically pitches me ideas right before I go to sleep or when I’m in the shower. I understand that’s standard MMO (Muse Mode of Operation). She caught on early that there was no point in giving me a lot of detail when I’m in bed. Her ideas evaporate by morning. If I’m showering, I’m too soggy to capture anything on paper. So, mostly she gives me titles or character names and lets me dig for the rest. But it’s a start and that’s usually the toughest part.
Yes, Enid is a no-nonsense gal. Lest I give you the impression she lacks a sense of humor, I have heard her laugh. It’s more like a nasally, smirkish chortle. I typically hear it when she’s waiting for me to do something with an idea she’s pitched. She’ll go sit on an overstuffed stool in my office, reach into her bag and pull out a crisp copy of The New Yorker. Enid does love her snarky cartoons.
Has she ever laughed at anything I’ve written, you ask? (I assume you mean the stuff I’m intending to be funny.) Yes and no. Once I saw Enid’s shoulders spasm as she covered her mouth to stifle a laugh. She was reflected in my computer screen as she read over my shoulder. Oh, please don’t tell her I saw.
But better than a laugh is an Enid smile. Enid is one of those eye smilers. You know the ones. The corners of their mouths turn up or down ever-so-slightly and 99 percent of the smile comes from their eyes. She has violet eyes. No, not violent. V-i-o-l-e-t eyes. Like her laugh, an Enid smile is a rare treasure. Oh, how I work for those.
Oh, no. Enid must have heard me talking about her. Act natural, okay?
Enid is whispering in my ear.
What’s that, Enid? You think I should blog about Heather? (She’s my Inner Critic.)
What if I . . . (Oh, no. Enid’s going for her paddle ball game.)
Looks like there’ll be no Enid smile (again) today.
What about you, my gooey gumdrops? How would you describe your muse?
Following my muse has worked out pretty well so far. I can’t see any reason to change the formula now. ~ Chris Van Allsburg
You do know I like to doodle, don’t you? It helps me concentrate, listen more intently and relax. Today, Frog on a Dime is delighted to have the Doodling Duchess–children’s author Monica Harris–as a special guest. If you too doodle, you’ll enjoy it. If you do not yet doodle, you’ll want to try it once you’ve read what the Duchess has to share.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN DOODLING?
I have always been a visual person. Colors, shapes, and patterns intrigue me. When I was in school, I often found myself doodling on the edges of my papers. This was especially true when sitting through a lecture that didn’t challenge me visually. You know, those lectures that keep the same slide up for 15 minutes before changing to the next one. Ugh! By doodling, I found my mind better able to focus on what was being said.
During my teaching
career, I learned how visual cues and colors helped students recall materials
better. I encouraged my students to doodle and use different colored pens to
take notes. It was quite entertaining to
see what teenagers came up with!
As I tell my workshop participants, doodling is different than art. With art, there’s a preconceived image in your head. The process involves getting the image onto some sort of medium like canvas or paper. Where people get frustrated is when the art they create does not match the image in their head. This does not create relaxation or mindfulness! Doodling, on the other hand, does NOT start with a preconceived image in your mind. You create an image on the paper organically – step by step without a specific goal. This frees the participant from pressure, anxiety, and self-doubt.
For meditative doodling,
I ask participants to close their eyes. A question, emotion, or situation is
described for them to contemplate. They are to imagine colors that come to mind
and shapes – nothing more. Then, we dive into the doodle session!
WHAT DOES DOODLING DO FOR YOU?
For me, doodling is a
meditative state. The rest of the world seems to melt away as colors and
patterns fill the page. It’s a conscious choice to put my brain in ‘time out’;
to breathe and only focus on colors and shapes.
I also doodle when I have
a problem that I cannot figure out. Science has shown that the average person
has 60,000 thoughts per day and 95% of them are exactly the same! The brain spirals through an endless loop
looking at the same ‘possible’ solution over and over again. By occupying it with doodling, a solution
often presents itself.
DOES A PERSON HAVE TO BE ARTISTIC TO DOODLE?
Absolutely not! I’ve had several participants say, “But I’m
not artistic” but, in the end, are completely surprised at the images they
create. Doodling is for fun mindfulness,
not for submitting to the Louvre!
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE INTERESTED IN DOODLING?
Try it! Take out some markers, colored pencils, and
paper. Try a simple starter exercise by scribbling big overlapping lines on the
page. See how you’ve created small little pockets of space? Choose one pocket and doodle in a pattern.
Then, go to the next pocket. Before you know it, you’ll have filled up the
page! And, just like yoga, it’s YOUR practice – do not judge it by what others
can do or even what you hope to do in the future. Enjoy that one moment in
HOW MIGHT DOODLING BENEFIT A WRITER?
Freeing your mind in a doodle has multiple possibilities. It could allow a new story line to ‘pop’ up. It might offer a solution to your protagonist’s problem. Doodling might offer insight on a character’s psyche. If you have a protagonist that’s filled with angst, go into their mind and doodle. A character that’s suffering through a sad time would have a totally different doodle. If your main character is a penguin, it would be extremely entertaining to consider how it would doodle and what design it would create! (Okay…this entertains me…I’m going to go doodle!)
Thank you for your time today, Duchess. Happy doodling to you!
Monica Harris is the author of 30 children’s books and more than 200 articles for children. She also teaches guided meditative doodling under the name The Doodling Duchess. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram. Her writer website is: monicaharrisbooks.com
Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one. ~ Brad Paisley
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice. ~ T.S. Eliot
My warmest wishes to you for a joy-filled holiday that lifts your spirits, gives you happy memories and provides you with time to be with those you love best.
We can look forward to welcoming in 2019 together. Let’s fill it with creativity and courage to try new things. And, as always, we’ll give each other encouragement all the year through.
Cheers, my little snap dragons!
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever. ~ Neil Gaiman
Here we are friends, within winking distance of a new year. Maybe this was “your year.” The Universe washed you in warm waves of lavender infused dreams come true. Or maybe the year felt like a family of quarreling beavers with chronic eczema and a love of lutefisk with limburger took up residence under your bed. Perhaps–and I do hope–it was at least a patch of somewhere in between.
Whatever this year felt like to you, I want you to know I’m proud of you, my little sugar snap peas. You made it through and you’re here, reading a blog written by a goofy lady who just called you a legume as a term of endearment. You’re not on fire and you probably get to sleep indoors tonight. So, see? Things can’t be “that bad,” right?
Intermission: Year End Decompression Break
If you want, go ahead and pretend you’re still reading, but in actuality, you can imagine you’re snuggling a giggling Baby New Year on a porch swing. It’s 72 degrees (my personal favorite) and blissful, sun-soaked, honey scented peace surrounds the two of you. Ahhh.
Now, that you’re all squishy and at ease, I want you to do one last thing for me, if you don’t mind. Please read the list of wishes I’ve collected just for you. I can’t guarantee they’ll all come true–some of them are up to you–I hope they help you to finish this year with your chin up and heart happy.
My wishes for you . . .
May you have a brave heart to exile manuscript excess, to say yes to [insert scary thing here] and even be excited about trying a new genre.
May you master the fine art of saying no in order to give yourself time to write—and not feel guilty about it.
May you inherit a tastefully decorated self-cleaning house with a self-cooking stove. (Give science enough time!)
May you have presence of mind like a butterfly net to consistently capture those seemingly silly, random thoughts and slippery ideas as soon as they light on your imagination.
May you be a sponge to absorb untried techniques, compliments and constructive feedback.
May you be a boomerang, able to return repeatedly for yet another try.
May you acknowledge even eensy progress and be undaunted by momentary gaps in your momentum.
May you remember e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e has dark times, disappointments, dry spells, downturns, doldrums and damp socks, even authors who seem to enjoy perpetual success. When you compare your insecure insides with someone’s shiny outsides, you’ll always come up short. So, don’t compare. Give grace (including to yourself, my little snickerdoodle.)
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice. ~ T.S. Eliot