Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Never Give Up

24 Jul

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t. ~Henry Ward Beecher
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You know what’s almost as exciting as your own personal success? It’s when one of your dear friends accomplishes something fantastic. Mandy Griffith is a wonderful writer, but like most writers, it’s difficult to get published or recognized, even after years of hard work, determination, and stacks of rejection letters. But, she never gave up, continued to plug away, (or type a way) kept sending out those query letters, taking workshops, and rewriting and rewriting.

Our small writing group has been been meeting for quite a few years, everyone working on different types of stories, with very distinctive voices. What we all have in common is…we love to write, we support each other, and we refuse to give up or feel discouraged.

Here’s the long-deserved recognition for Mandy. Congratulations Mandy! I’m glad you’re obstinate.
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McKinney native wins $2,000 in UNT writing competition
Staff report | McKinney Courier Gazette

Amanda Griffith of McKinney received the second-place award of $2,000 in the Reported Narrative writing competition sponsored by this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

Griffith received her award Saturday during the conference, which is hosted each July by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at University of North Texas’s Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Jounalism. The conference brings together approximately 300 participants interested in writing narrative nonfiction to learn from renowned journalists and storytellers in different genres.

Her reported narrative, titled “Iranian Women of Independence,” tells of an Iranian family fleeing their city after Iraqi soldiers invaded it in 1980, settling in a safer place, then returning to the city and living under the shadow of war.

From its first years, the conference has held its Personal Essay, Book Manuscript and Reported Narrative contests to recognize extraordinary literary journalism and creative nonfiction from writers of unpublished work. This year’s conference awarded $3,000 each to the first-place winners of the Personal Essay and Reported Narrative, as well as awarding the first-place cash award in the Book Manuscript competition.

Second-place winners in all three categories each received $2,000, while the third-place winners each received $1,000. The winners were announced Saturday at the conference’s Literary Lights Dinner, which featured Lawrence Wright, staff writer for The New Yorker, as the guest speaker.

All six winning Personal Essay and Reported Narrative entries and four runners up selected from these two categories will be published in Ten Spurs, a literary nonfiction journal published by the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism. The edition featuring this year’s contest winners will be published just before the 2015 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

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Tuesday Totem and Other Lucky Signs

23 Jul

One can’t give a grasshopper to a child if one has not caught it yet.
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Y’all know I’m a big believer of sign and symbolism. Y’all know I’m from Chicago, so I’m being silly when I say y’all. Yesterday, I found a lucky quarter after house hunting, rushing home and meeting my friend Zelda at Olive Garden for dinner. On he way out, I found a lucky quarter. 25 times luckier than a penny, RIGHT?

I’ve been having some pretty crazy, disappointing days, weeks…let’s face it…it’s been an awful year, but, my spirits are good. I keep finding my lucky coins, feathers, and signs, giving me hope.

Well, after another day of house hunting, Linda and I went back to one of the first houses we looked at. It’s a brand new house. Last time we were there, a beautiful Argiope spider had built his zig-zag web on the outside window. I thought that was good luck. Then today, we saw a grasshopper way up the bricks on the back porch. Grasshoppers are really good luck. I knew this was the house I was meant to to be in. A brand new house for a brand new start. NOW, I just have to keep my fingers crossed that everything else goes smoothly. SO, please cross your fingers, toes and eye balls for me too.

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In Native American Indian symbology and tribal lore (specifically the Iroquois nation) grasshopper symbolism deals with messages of glad tiding. In this context, the grasshopper is a harbinger of good news. Indeed, when this creature is seen on spirit walks, it is a sign that the seer will receive profoundly joyful news that will benefit the entire community.

Here’s a quick-list of grasshopper symbolism…

Grasshopper Symbolism and Meanings

Lucky
Stable
Virtue
Vibrant
Content
Intuitive
Fertility
Patient
Peaceful
Creativity
Abundance
Insightful
Messenger
Connected
Courageous
Resourceful
Forward Thinking
As an animal totem, the grasshopper appeals to artists, musicians and dancers. To wit, the lilting song this creature emits is an inspiration to our muse; its skittering and jumping is divine choreography. The artist within us all easily recognizes the grasshopper making its own dance steps, and grooving to its own special melody.

The grasshopper moves to its own rhythm and tune, indicating this creature is a advocate of intuition and listening to our inner voices. The grasshopper encourages us to listen to our own stirrings – those beautiful chirping lullaby’s that sing in our hearts are indications of our inner beauty and creativity. The grasshopper totem reminds us these inner musings must never be silenced – rather, they should be nurtured, and always remain as the background music to the performance of our lives.

As with most insect totems, the grasshopper keeps itself to the ground. As such, this is a grounding totem, and the grasshopper can teach us stability, patience, security, and solidarity.

The grasshopper chooses those of us who are innovators, forward-thinkers, and those who progress in life by unorthodox methods. This is because grasshopper symbolism recognizes tremendous leaps of faith, impressive jumps in progress and consistent forward momentum. Those with this totem are likely to aim high, and achieve amazing feats – they take great leaps where others fear to tread (or jump, in this case).

Another special feature of the grasshopper totem is that it calls to those who have natural clairvoyant abilities. Just as the grasshopper uses thousands of tiny eyes to formulate the “big picture” so too do those whom the grasshopper is called. In other words, those with this totem are visionaries. They see things intuitively, seeing beyond what the concrete world holds, and they use this special vision to see the world with a childlike wonder.

We can call upon the grasshopper when we need a sense of adventure in our lives. When we feel stuck in a rut, the grasshopper can bounce us into magical viridian worlds filled awe and joy.

The grasshopper can also help us when we need a little creative inspiration.

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My friend and best realtor in the entire state of Texas, Linda Grossman, invited me to a celebration dinner, complete with frosty margaritas and a toast for good luck. SALUD!

Montage Monday: A Week in a Peek

22 Jul

“It’s funny how, when things seem the darkest, moments of beauty present themselves in the most unexpected places.”
― Karen Marie Moning, Dreamfever
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I just liked this quote. There are so many beautiful things in the world, a glorious sunset, a baby’s giggle, a well written book. I get excited when I find a lucky penny or a feather. It’s hard to be down in the dumps when the view from there is filled with amazing vistas.

A week in a peek-a-boo.

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Sunday: Sometimes It’s Just Not Your Lucky Day

21 Jul

“Do not rely on a rabbit’s foot for luck, after all, it didn’t work out too well for the rabbit.”
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Another one of those crash and burn days. Up-down-up-down. I was so optimistic. I found a lucky penny yesterday right underneath my car door when I stopped at the store. Wow! Good sign! Right? I was thinking, “O.K., this is it. This is going to work out.” I woke up this morning with that positive vibe, went to church, came home and went for a long walk, and had lunch.

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In a nut shell…thought I had the house sold…didn’t work out…again. Strike two. Back to square one.
Sometimes what appears to be lucky, well, doesn’t always end up that way. When I was out walking the other day, I saw some critter parts in my front yard. It looked like a bunny was torn apart by a coyote or bobcat, and the remains were left behind. All I could think of when I saw the torn off rabbit’s foot was, “This rabbit wasn’t too lucky.”

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I know…kinda gross…but poignant. I guess we have to make our own luck.

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Saturday: Sit Back and Do Something Special

20 Jul

“I think people who are creative are the luckiest people on earth. I know that there are no shortcuts, but you must keep your faith in something Greater than You, and keep doing what you love. Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.”

Judy Collins
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Another whirlwind of a day. I got up early and walked about three miles, then went to Saturday Zumba at 9:30-10:30. I didn’t have my usual writing group, so Zumba was a special treat. Then, scramble home, shower, straighten the house for a showing, and get out the door by 11 am. Can you say, “Run around like a mad woman?”

I decided to hang out on the Square, have my yummy yogurt parfait at Snug, visit Dana and Judy at Art on the Veranda, and then paint champagne flutes at Sweet Spot and visit with my buddies there.

Painting glassware is one of my favorite creative pastimes. It is so gratifying to take a plain ol’ glass item and turn it into a work of art. I haven’t painted in so long, mostly because I don’t want to make a mess in the house, but really, I just haven’t been motivated. I’ve been wanting to work on a project for a special gift, and I knew that I could grab my paints and go over to Sweet Spot Bakery, and just hang out and paint. (It’s great to have friends everywhere.)

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I sat by the front window, painted champagne flutes, chatted with friends, and watched people walk by.

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A few hours later, here is the beautiful finished product. Now, do you see why this is so much fun? I’ve painted hundreds, if not thousands of items. I’ve taught many, many people how to paint wine glasses, vases, ornaments, etc., when they thought they couldn’t. (I’m just a darn good teacher.)

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(Close up)
Yes, I think creative people are the luckiest people on earth. I’m going to keep doing what I love and find a way to get it out to the world. Art on the Veranda has dozens of my painted glassware items for sale in their shop. They display work of many local artists, and offer many fun jewelry, painting, and creative classes, including my wine glass painting workshop. Somewhere down the line, after I get my act together, I’d like to offer some in-home painting parties. I think it would be fun to have a bunch of girlfriends over, drink wine, eat snacks, and learn to paint your very own wine glasses. . “I’d like to teach the world to paint, in perfect harmony…” You knew there’d be a song in there somewhere, didn’t ya?

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Friday: Finish Each Day Footloose and Fancy Free

19 Jul

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely…”
Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes (American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist, 1803-1882)
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Friday ALWAYS rolls a round so fast. The cool weather today made it a perfect morning for a long walk. After a few errands and a quick lunch, it was already time to go to Towne Creek for my senior art group. Our dear friend, Krys Watson, came to teach us how to make paper origami fortune cookies. (I forgot to take pictures of her demo and the delicious feast that she brought to share with us.) but, I did take a pic of my finished project.

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Another thing I finished was the yummy dessert Krys brought. It was that crushed pretzel, cream cheese/cool whip, jello fruit dessert. (Again, no photo…duh!) But, Krys did catch me licking the spoon.)

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After I got home, I remembered that I promised myself to “dance in the kitchen.” So, I decided to “Cut, Footloose.” Yep, Finish each day footloose and fancy free. And always, always…dance in the kitchen.

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If you want to join the club, fill in your name and be footloose and fancy free.

Theme Song Thursday

18 Jul

“It should not be denied… that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.”
Wallace Stegner
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There’s nothing like watching people singing and dancing to lift your spirits. I had the pleasure of attending the McKinney Summer Musical “FOOTLOOSE,” at McKinney Boyd High School tonight.The dreary rainy evening was forgotten once the exhilarating dancing and spectacular songs rocked the auditorium.

As I’ve mentioned before, I plan to dance in my kitchen and sing show tunes. Life is to short to sit still and mope around all day. This morning I danced, shook and shimmied at Zumba, and this afternoon, I was dancing to “West Side Story, ” in my kitchen. Tomorrow, I’ll dance to “”Footloose.” Give it a try. “Everybody cut….”

Now, you want to cut loose, don’t ya?

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