Thursday, 17 December 2015

Apologies to my readers

I know, I now, blogging is a personal, free and without strings activity so I don't need to say 'sorry'.

But I feel I do.

Some of you are regular readers and I haven't supplied you with something to read.

Not that your day was any less enjoyable or that you had so much time to spare you were bored..........( chuckle chuckle).

I just feel the need to say " I am sorry I have been so lax of late and I promise to mend my ways!"

Sometimes life just takes over... timetables, and schedules mean nothing and that most elusive of commodities " Time", well, there just isn't enough and what there is of it gallops by at 100 miles an hour.

When I have this type of struggle I hear a voice in my head saying " Like sand through the hour glass, these are the days of our lives!" Recognise this sentence?

Especially for those who want a walk down memory lane;

Click here - for THE VOICE
Anyway, when I have these moments and I hear that sentence I think - oh yes, that is so true.

Life has had some absolutely jewels of moments of late. It has certainly not been all bad - at all.

My daughter, son in law and 3 children paid a visit, that was AMAZING! We have had a couple of mini trips away, I have been able to assist my mother in law after her fall recently, the preparations for Christmas are heading in the right direction.... to name a couple of things that kept me off the streets and out of mischief.

But now, now is the moment that I have decided quite definitely to reclaim my space in the day. That some of those 1440 minutes of the day are MINE to use in a way that enriches my life and gives me room to be ME without the trimmings of others - just a wee while of the day is all I need to keep a balance!

So grains of sand, I greet you, claim you and will enjoy using you!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Morning has broken....

Last night I was able to capture ( amateur style) our setting sun- a real gift. Makes me feel extremely humble and grateful that I have this chance to enjoy day's end in this special way.

This morning I awoke to a beautiful sunrise - the view from my kitchen window is awesome....then I look out of the lounge window and again I am struck by the beauty I see before me.

We live in an apartment- Signed the purchase papers a year ago now. On Christmas Eve 2014 we slept here for the first time. Since then we have been putting 'finishing touches' to this, our possible last place we are to call home.

No, I don't mean that in a pessimistic sort of way - just to say " We love it here. Hope there won't be a reason to leave".

From the kitchen at the back to the balcony at the front - we have an amazing view.

The morning sun shines right through the house- creeping in through the kitchen window and touching the large window in the lounge on it's way out to the balcony. A dream location and situation you might say! And in the evening - the reverse happens- The sun pours into the lounge- over the dining room table and knocks on the kitchen window to be let out.

My morning was again a true gift when I noticed the fading moon from the lounge window and the sky being slightly lit up by the morning sun across the skies in a reflection from the kitchen. I didn't know where to look first.

I am not sure whether this description sounds logical but what I do know is - that it is a joy to wake in the morning and be privy to such a display of grandeur.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Job well done

It is just the two of us.

It has been for almost 13 years now.

Two breakfast settings.

Two towels in the bathroom.

Two favourite coffee mugs.

Two sets of house keys.

Two opinions.

Two ....just two.

When the children were young and growing up, I had visions.

Visions of the quiet.

Visions of tranquil evenings.

Visions of small pots on the stove.

Small shopping baskets.

I couldn't imagine how that would be.

It actually confused me.

Always extras at the table.

Mattresses on the floor.

Extra food in the larder.

Shortage of towels.

A washing machine which never stood still.

Bench covered with dishes.

A biscuit barrel that was forever hungry.

A multitude of opinions.

Laughter prevailed, voices did too.

It is, just the two of us.

No longer confused.

Job well done!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Over - and over and over!

Overbooked, overtired, over it!

I need to be REALISTIC. I need to realise that I am not as capable of forging on day after day after day - not like I could when I was 25 -35 or even 55! And there is no shame in that. Somehow I appear to feel the need to PROVE I still 'HAVE IT'.

There is nothing wrong with my energy levels. They belong to an active 62 year old...! And believe me I can tackle my world when necessary.

 But the past week and a half I lost the vision of what I could and couldn't handle.

The events and activities were awesome and  LOVED every minute of it. There is no room for regret because it was all FUN, WORTHWHILE and REWARDING to be and do what I managed to do.

It just meant, I got over tired, slept more than poorly and my day today is for most part - a write off.

The ironing can and will have to wait.

The floors dito.

My blog writing, an important part of my week - was put on hold and I have, despite the fun and hectic schedule of the past days - was sorely missed. Made me a wee bit cranky! Well, maybe not cranky but I felt bereft.

So, now the reality. I am no longer 45. My activities need to be kept in balance and I need to remind myself - build in 'time out' moments.

Today, a day to re-assess, to look back on some amazing events, having received loving, heartwarming and complimentary emails about my cooking skills and know my fatigue was a small price to pay for the
satisfaction received.

I am back - back on line. Back at my desk.

Will take the next few days to update my blogs, my recipe books and my photo gallery.

The first album to complete ( having started it months ago) - is for my niece. Then 2 for my wee grandchildren. Those 3 are 'promises to keep. The rest are projects I want to work on.

Just like after a good break and enjoyable holiday - I feel great to be back at my desk.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

B - R - B

Some days 

Some weeks

and this is one of those..........

I promise

Look for me next week - or else send out the troops.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Becoming aware

Well, I have decided I can't be silent on the subject of the fleeing refugees. I know, there has been more than enough said/written so time to get active.

But active how? By whom and to what end?

The size of the issue is SO huge that it isn't any wonder everyone ( well almost everyone) is running around frantically starting up groups, centers, building walls, scouring beach fronts,
scratching heads and arguing the point. Meetings are being scheduled, round the table talks, moments of passing the buck and burying heads in sand are part of the scenery in todays screaming issue


Well I suggest to humanise the subject - let's call these people exactly that, PEOPLE.

There are millions of displaced people - tragically caught up in a situation not of their chosing. Being forced to leave homeland by those who are supposed to give them shelter - their own government.

Yes, their own leaders, people in charge - are forcing their own people to leave their homes, family, friends, lifestyle and traditions by being TYRANT instead of PARENT.

PARENT I hear you utter! Yes, PARENT.

When a child is abused and not properly treated at home - he or she leaves home and seeks shelter somewhere - anywhere. Just a place of safety.

These people belong to a family - they are citizens in their own right and those in charge of their welfare have failed in their duty to care for and protect.
There is fighting, squabbling over money matters, power and greed. Their main priority being THEMSELVES instead of OTHERS.

I don't really care what's at the bottom of it - be it religion or political perception. All I care about are the homeless- the deprived - the frightened and persecuted people running as frightened cattle many of them finding death.

Do I fix their problem by offering a bed to one of these many who have lost a roof over their heads? Is that the simple solution to a drastic problem?

A question: Someone moves into the house next door to you. The neighbourhood where you grew up in. You managed to buy a house just down the street from your parents. You know the neighbours well. They are almost family. The new comers are a friendly lot and join in the neighbourhood activities. Over a period of time - you start to feel less connected- changes happen. The new neighbours have gotten involved in the committees and workgroups and slowly their stamp is on everything that is organised. You notice one or two 'regulars' haven't attended the last bbq. Your parents start showing signs of nervousness and come outside less and less.

After 18 months an unease sets in. You aren't alone. More and more friends are despondent. Their outgoing nature dampened and the conversations hushed. A For Sale sign pops up in the street. Shock horror. Your schoolbuddy and best friend calls it quits. He wants out.

Oh well, I can go on with the story - but the crux of the matter is - the influence from others on peoples sense of belonging, of appreciation and worth is affected by those around us. Whether we like it or not.

Our brain has developed rational thinking - but our primal brain maintains it's function - Fight and flight. When the going gets tough - GET GOING. FLEE from that which threatens you. When given space to rationalise one comes up with solutions.

Due to the inability for other stronger nations to have intervened when the GOING GOT TOUGH - allowing for breathing space and rational thinking to kick in - these oppressed, persecuted and frightened people are on the run. To safety ( they think) to peace ( they assume) to freedom ( don't think so).

Maybe we, those living in non - war countries, have been too complacent. Too laid back with the ' oh let them sort out their own battle,' attitude. Well, the result is on every front page, news item and radio broadcast.


No, I don't either

Friday, 4 September 2015

With great pleasure: Introducing Jen Cudmore

As a Blogger I belong to a number of collective blog groups. I also scour the web for blogs which contain contents I want to read, where I can grow and learn form, and to just ENJOY. Another way to discover like minded bloggers is to check out the links on other blogs. A bit like discovering 'friends' via Facebook. These bloggers are then added to my blog reading list and I visit them regularly to read what 'they are or have been up to'.

Jen Cudmore is a blogger I have followed for a while. At a distance but then I started reacting to her posts a bit more frequently. Bloggers do so enjoy a wee sign that readers have 'been and read'. A short comment or acknowledgement is always welcome.

Some bloggers start blogging and then move on to having works published - others, like Jen work the other way round- have books published then start blogging.

Blogging is a great space for those wanting to share their passion for writing, their need to 'jot stuff on paper' and those wanting to share their wisdom, experiences, faith life or other hobbies such as cooking or the like.

Jen Cudmore
Facebook link: Jen Cudmore
When I decided I would like to add some guests to my blog pages I invited Jen to 'pop in' and respond to some questions I had committed to paper. Here are her answers.

Jen, I am pleased and proud to introduce you a guest on my page.

Readers, introducing: Jen Cudmore

1.     What came first- writing or blogging and how long have you been a blogger? Writing. In the beginning I was just having fun jotting down story lines. Then it turned into learning to write novels. Once I found a publisher for my books, I started the blog.

2.    As a blogger, how do you decide on topics and regularity to place posts on your blog? What would you not share – (e.g. specific topic?) I have tried different schedules to see what works for my readers and for my home life. Right now, due to other commitments, I am only doing a couple posts a month. As far as topics, I typically stick to marriage, family, and women's issues, plus some writing stuff from time to time. I try to stay away from anything controversial or political. My goal (my passion) is simply to encourage other women with my own experiences and help them to live the abundant life in Christ.

3.    Are reader’s numbers and responses important to you? Do these two items influence your writing? Yes and no. Higher numbers and responses typically mean I'm talking about issues that are important to others. For a while, my goal was simply to encourage more hits. Now I just write whatever is on my heart in the moment, depending on what God's been teaching me.

4.    The Blogger’s world has become ‘a place to be’ for non-published writers – I also see that a number of Bloggers now also use Facebook as a writing platform – do you also combine these two media options? Yes, I do. A blog and FB account are places where people to get to know you personally. They can only get so much from books! Blogging and personalizing FB pages makes authors feel more like real people. They can better understand your goals and passions.

5.    Publishing- ( a multi question )
5a. Have you considered publishing any of your blog posts? Yes.
5b. In what form? A nonfiction book on marriage.
5c. If you have published – what process did you follow in choosing the ‘right’ material? Because I'm a novelist, I didn't use any of the material on my blog in my books.

6.    What is your motivation to Blog and share? Life is hard. It's often messy and disappointing. We all need encouragement from real people who are trying to navigate kids, jobs, homes, etc, all while pursuing our Savoir and living to please Him. I love writing and teaching, and all the better if I can help someone else. A word fitly spoken blesses the listener. That's what I want.

7.    Is writing your main activity or a much loved hobby? Just a hobby. I have a day job and a family that take up most of my attention, as well as church commitments. I don't have much time for writing in this season of life. But someday...

8.    Are there unforeseen repercussions due to blogging? The only negatives that I have seen personally is lack of response. Or the pressure that we bloggers put on ourselves to write something incredible. It's a process of learning to relax, write well, and follow God's prompts.

9.    What are (if any) main hurdles to overcome- to start a blog? Learning the background and set-up stuff to make it look the way I wanted! I was really overwhelmed trying to understand how to work the program so I could get each item to show up in the right spot. There was a lot of trial, error, and praying for comprehension!

10. Can you give beginner bloggers your 3 most valuable tips to a successful blog?
1 - Don't get caught up in the number of views - that is only one area to use when evaluating your success.
2 - Just like any new venture, becoming a good blogger takes a lot of practice (just like Olympic winners and famous musicians).
3 - Enjoy yourself! Discuss topics that you're passionate about.

Here is the link to Jen's blog
click and enjoy

Thanks for your visit Jen and succes with your writing. That we readers may long be able to enjoy the fruits of your work.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Guests on my blog - Welcome Anita Hunt

How absolutely flattering and heart warming to receive the replies so speedily for my project - Guests on my blog.

After reading all the wisdom in the responses from Jeanette Levellie, I had to re-read and I took notes. It just goes to show how much talent, wisdom and valuable sharing happens with the input from experienced writers like Jeanette.

And I promise you, there is more wisdom on it's way. Fellow blogger and (first) name sake Anita Hunt, from her blog: Gathering the Stones, has also managed to divulge more pearls of wisdom and given insights into her source of energy, ideas and hints for bloggers everywhere.

Enjoy your read

With the utmost pleasure I present;

The 10 answers to questions from:
Anita Hunt from Scattering the Stones

1.     What came first- writing or blogging and how long have you been a blogger?

Writing came first. Journaling was and is still an important part of my personal relationship with God.

I have been blogging for 8 years. During this time, I have read a lot of material on writing and blogging, which has been helpful.

In 2007 I began a small business selling my personalised greeting cards that included my botanical photography and design. I began blogging as a way to complement my cards, and share information about plants and visiting gardens for my readers. I learned early on that blogging is a very important part of your marketing strategy.

In 2009 my children’s novel, ‘Matty-boy and the Secret Pigeon Racket’, was published, which has the underlying message – ‘If you are being bullied, please tell someone’. Blogging complemented this message and helped to build an audience, giving information on where to go for help if you are affected by these issues.

In 2011 I began Scattering the Stones Christian ministry, with a mix of devotions, courses and encouragement.

2.    As a blogger, how do you decide on topics and regularity to place posts on your blog? What would you not share – (e.g. specific topic?)

With each of the three topics I have written about – flowers, anti-bullying, and Christian devotions, I have learned how important it is to know and understand your ‘why’ before you begin. Why do you want to blog about this? If you are passionate and dedicated to the ‘why,’ it will help you write material for your target audience.

My ministry is focused on helping those who are hurting find hope through their difficulties, as well as specific Bible teaching in a devotional capacity. My posts will always be lined up with this focus. Occasionally I may share a post that falls outside of this structure, but will always connect in some way.

In terms of when to post, it’s vital to research when your target audience is most likely to read your posts. In the past I have completed various trials and analysed which specific days and times are best. Consistency is more important, so that your readers know when to expect a post from you.

A question I always ask myself before writing a post is – ‘Will this subject benefit my readers?’ if I’m not sure, I journal about it first. Through this process is helps you to see if it’s more of a private cathartic exercise rather than for public consumption. This helps particularly when going through a difficult time.

3.    Are reader’s numbers and responses important to you? Do these two items influence your writing?

Numbers and responses are always going to be there in the blogger’s life. There are a number of reasons why these may be important to you, particularly if your aim is to find a publisher.

If you read books, articles, and posts by marketing gurus and building your platform experts, numbers and responses will be key in analysing what is working and what isn’t. Sadly, it can either become an ego trip or a trigger for major discouragement.

Balance is key.

Numbers can all too easily become the guiding influence rather than the Holy Spirit.

When I graduated from Bible College, I was handed a piece of paper with the words – ‘For the audience of One’. This is probably one of the best things I received, because if God is leading me to write a post, I must be confident in the knowledge it is for someone or a group of specific people. I have to lay the results in His hands. I just have to trust and obey.

4.    The Blogger’s world has become ‘a place to be’ for non-published writers – I also see that a number of Bloggers now also use Facebook as a writing platform – do you also combine these two media options?

Blogging is important whether you are published or non-published.

If you have written and published a book, the journey has only just begun. No one will buy it, or get the chance to read it, if they don’t know it’s available. Blogging is a vital tool for marketing your material.

If you are seeking to become published, publishers will first look to see if you are building a platform, and whether you have an audience before they consider you, so building your blog first is crucial.

Publishing has changed hugely over the years. Self-publishing is much more common and the internet is the new publishing model. It provides, dare I say it, an accessible platform, to share your message from, but it can also be hard to be seen and heard when there are millions of other websites.

When I think about it, it still amazes me that within seconds of publishing a post, someone on the other side of the world can read it. Blogging can sometimes open more doors than focusing on the traditional paperback. This is where our responsibility as Christian writers is underlined, because what we write about will influence others, so we must be careful with what we write.

The internet has provided us with a number of other opportunities to grow our audience, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc… to video such as YouTube and Periscope, and each of these can be a useful tool in reaching our audience… Just because we have a variety of Social Media avenues it doesn’t mean they are the best for our particular community. We need to be where our niche is. If you don’t know, ask them J.

I do use Facebook, with a page for my blog, and private groups. For me, the groups work best, as a place where you can discuss and grow, building on from your blog posts. As Pages have become more monetary focused, it’s hard to build a follower base and share your content with them, due to Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm.

5.    Publishing- ( a multi question )

5a. Have you considered publishing any of your blog posts?
5b. In what form?
5c. If you have published – what process did you follow in choosing the ‘right’ material?

5a. It’s certainly an area to consider, but needs to be much more than just purely publishing your posts. Platforms such as Amazon prefer new material, or at least built upon work, so using your pre published blog posts as a structure to work from could be the way to go.

5b. I haven’t published my blog posts in book format. If I do, it will probably be in the format of a free report for my subscribers.

In the past I published an Advent Reflections eBook. After publishing it, I then built a specific website to complement the book with extras, and this worked well.

5c. In choosing material to publish, I have done a lot of research, to learn what is either missing or needed in my niche. There is no point in publishing a book no one wants to read, or has been done before, because the market is huge and often saturated with similar content.

6.    What is your motivation to Blog and share?

My main motivation to blog is to share the hope we have in Jesus, and what God places on my heart, to encourage others in their relationship with Him.

7.    Is writing your main activity or a much loved hobby?

It has become my main activity. I am working on building more material in various formats such as podcasting, and providing a range of services such as coaching. I am currently working on developing a Christian blogging website with a coaching format for new bloggers.

8.    Are there unforeseen repercussions due to blogging?

You have to be dedicated to your ‘why’ that I mentioned in a previous question, and put time aside for it. It can be wonderful, but also discouraging and exhausting if you don’t put strategies in place, and lose sight of why you are doing it.

9.    What are (if any) main hurdles to overcome- to start a blog?

·            It takes more time that you think to plan, write, and share.
·            It takes far more time to build a presence than it does to begin a blog.
·            You have to be prepared to persevere if you want to do it well.
·            It can be tempting to compare yourself with other writers.
·            At some point you will more than likely want to give up, so having a good support system behind you will help to look at the pros and cons of continuing.

10. Can you give beginner bloggers your 3 most valuable tips to a successful blog?

1.     Take your time in thinking and planning your blog.

*Why do you want to do it?
*What do you expect to gain from it?
*What does success look to you?
*Are you prepared to pray, plan, and persevere when the tough gets going?

2.    Don’t be tempted to be the next Sharon Jaynes, Ann Voskamp etc… we don’t need a copy; we want to hear what you have to say.

3.    Choose your blogging platform carefully. Free isn’t always best. I recommend a self-hosted blog such as with your own domain name.

Anita Hunt – Scattering the Stones

Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts and insights into the world of blogging with me Anita. I have enjoyed getting to know you better. Your tips will also be referred to in future I am sure.

Thank you for asking Anita, I hope what I shared will be helpful to your readers. God bless.

Readers, believe me there is something weird about addressing someone in your own name. It makes me smile though.

Do you want to find out more about Anita and her blog contents- then go to the link:

Anita's blog: Scattering the Stones

Happy reading