2018 Clearing My Life: Christmas as it Should Be

   It’s Christmas and there are a million things to do.  I think back about how I used to make Christmas happen with kids at home, a job during the day, limited funds, Christmas cookies baking, and still I managed to make it happen.  I hope with some grace.  Maybe not always. It should be easier now.

I have a new tree this year that signifies a change in my life style.  It is smaller and more compact.  I can put it in a box on the shelf of the closet and handle the weight of the tree alone.  It is not going back in the attic where we might fall climbing to get it.  I can tug it out of the box and then pull it up to its intended height – stretch out a few branches – and voila I have a Christmas tree! I took several boxes of old ornaments and decorations to the local thrift store yesterday.  It is time to downsize.

A good friend wrote a piece about being a million points of light that I wish I could use here, but the gist of it was being a light for the world and yourself during this time of year.  I try. It is important this time of year to remember to take care of yourself as well as others.  I don’t feel very sparkly with the current Christmas “cold” I’ve come down with, but it is only the Rhinovirus, not Cancer. I’ll survive. I have more than one friend in the hospital right now – I guess that has to do with our age.

The picture at the top is the new tree with one wrapped gift.  I have finished my shopping but have not started to wrap.  I also need to work on sending out Christmas cards.  I really don’t think of these things as chores, but with the virus dragging me down, I have trouble getting things done.  And the post office would not like me licking envelopes right now. EEEKK!

I seem to have a Christmas tune or two rattling around in my head that I’m sure I picked up from Christmas specials on TV or maybe in a store or two.  But I find them pleasant, not annoying like they might be if I was working in the store all day bombarded by the songs meant to make shoppers over indulge.

It is a good Christmas so far.  My family is healthy, and we plan a dinner at my son’s once again.  My adult children step up and take care of a lot of things these days and I just show up with a side dish and a festive smile. Grandma’s here!

I hope your Christmas is full of love and joy.  Take time for yourself and let some things go.  You don’t have to make fudge just because you used to.  No one needs it anyway.  Savor the season and wrap yourself in its warmth.

Merry Christmas.

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2018 Clearing My Life: Things Come in Threes

    It’s been a long week.  Things come in threes and we’ve had three so far this week. 

A member of the Enid Writers Club had a massive heart attack and maybe a stroke.  She seems to be improving and we wish her well.

A co-worker of my husband passed from a brain tumor.  She was buried today.

My husband’s life-long friend had surgery and a stroke.  He was air-flighted to Oklahoma City and things look serious.

It seems things come in groups whether the old-wive’s tales are true or not.  It’s the holidays. Post-Thanksgiving and Christmas are not the best time for patients or families to spend in the hospital. It must be tough on the employees of the hospitals, too.

We’re visiting the patient in the Oklahoma City soon and hope that things go well for him. He needs to be back up and celebrating the holidays with his family soon. 

We are in for some snowy weather the end of the week to add to the pain.  Get ready for Oklahoma’s weather once more. 

Okies are tough people.  We can handle it. We don’t go down easily.

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2018 Clearing my Life: Small Business Shopping

    This weekend was Small Business Saturday – just in time for Christmas shopping.  Buying local from small businesses helps the consumer find quality goods and services and provides a living for the small business entities.

Authors are small business entities.  We sell our goods to the public after our blood, sweat, and tears go into a story.  Oklahoma is full of local authors, I know because I’ve been involved in the Enid Public Library’s Author Fest and the OWFI conference in Oklahoma City for years and I am amazed at the amount of talent this state produces.

My books sit proudly displayed on the shelves in the local author area of A New Chapter Bookstore and Café in downtown Enid. Go by and see them and check out all the local authors on their shelves while you try their coffee.

My Sandhill Island books, published by The Wild Rose Press, were recently placed on Walmart’s internet shopping at https://www.walmart.com/search/?query=Secrets%20of%20Sandhill%20Island.  They are also listed on LSI Ingram making them available to all bookstores and libraries. The Wild Rose Press website https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/search?controller=search&orderby=position&orderway=desc&search_query=Peggy+Chambers&submit_search=  can also make shopping easier with the click of a button.

Amazon holds all my books and they are listed on this page to the right.  You can click on the picture and it will take you to the amazon page that sells them.

If you’re in Enid, I always have copies at the house and would be happy to sign one to you as a Christmas gift to yourself or an avid reader.

Books make great Christmas gifts.  Buy local and make your Christmas giving special.  Stuff a stocking, buy a book!

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2018 Clearing My Life: But Not my Dog

    My greatest wish is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am. 

I didn’t write that quote, and I don’t know where it came from, but it is an honest statement of what I wish my life would be.

I’ve written this year about clearing my life of unwanted things.  I don’t need things, but if everything was taken from me, I’d be lost without my family and dog.  No, my dog is family as many people think theirs is too. 

It is safe to say that I’ve always loved animals.  Growing up we had cats mostly and a miniature poodle named Princess.  My dad was not a big animal lover, but she got under his skin.  She’d move over close to him as we drove (she always went with us on vacation) probably trying to win him over.  Or maybe it was just body heat she was after.

When I married, my husband soon came home with a puppy. Six weeks into the marriage he arrived one day with a German Shepherd/Collie mix.  I’d never been around big dogs.  My mother was afraid of them, but it didn’t take long for us to become friends. We named him Strauss (after all he was German) and he lived with us for years.

When the kids were little, we got them a Golden Retriever puppy for Christmas one year.  He was so big he could carry the box I sent to bring him home in.  He didn’t want to be left in a box or a kennel, he was family and demanded to be where his family was at all times.  Our kids became his kids and he didn’t like arguments with them.  He always sided with them.  He protected them, but when he was hurt, he always came to Mommy.  Dad thought he might make him into a hunting dog, but that never happened.  He was family.

Our dog, Athena, came from Craig’s List.  It had been 14 years since we had a dog and my husband had run out of patience with me deciding whether or not to have another child.  The human kids had been gone for a while.  He took her from a soldier who was leaving for Afghanistan (at least that was the story, we wondered) and she acclimated to our house very quickly. Today when we travel, we have some great friends who babysit for her.  I hate to leave my daughter in a kennel at the vet’s.

Pets are a big part of many people’s lives.  They become family as they should.  I believe animals have a soul and feel as much as humans do.  If you have a pet, you understand that statement.  If you don’t, get one, they’ll make you more human that you ever thought possible.

What kind of pet/family member do you have living with you?

 

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2018 Clearing My Life: Weekend in Texas

    My blog is late this week because we spent the weekend with family in Texas.  We shopped, sampled a little wine, and visited.  When family turns to friends, you know you’ve got a good relationship.  My husband’s cousin and his wife looked us up after more than 30 years and it has been more fun than we could have ever imagined. We even got to visit with their son and grand dog. 

We started at their home in Glen Rose, TX (southwest of Ft. Worth) and we used it as a jumping off point to travel to points in northern Texas.  We spent one day in Grapevine, Christmas shopping and checking out some Texas wine. The second day we traveled to downtown Dallas and the Kennedy Museum at Dealey Plaza. It didn’t hurt that the cousins knew the roads in the Metro Plex and we traveled them in style.

It is amazing to reconnect with people from your past and when you have similar interests, it makes it even more fun. We plan to get together again in the spring.

The drive down was uneventful, but we saw the beginning of winter on the way back.  The first snow of the season visited early this year.  It was beautiful, and the roads were still good in the area we traveled. Thanks, Texas, for a great weekend.

What did you do this weekend?

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2018 Clearing my Life: The Aftermath

    The aftermath of Halloween is all around us. 

My husband and I walk the dog most mornings and the day after the Halloween onslaught we marveled at the things we found in our neighborhood.  I loved the two pumpkins who looked like they partied too hardy the night before – but had a wonderful time.

The first Trick-or-Treater came before dark dressed as the scary clown from Stephen King’s “It.” This was a large teenaged sized clown, but it didn’t have the red balloon the character should have had with them. I didn’t get a picture. The teenager would not have thought it cool.

The Spidey glove I found on the street the next morning proves somewhere there is an incomplete costume. (Or maybe Spiderman left it there to protect the neighborhood. I left it just in case.)  

Sugar induced craziness took over my neighborhood last Wednesday night.  My former neighbors came by and the entire family was dressed as The Incredibles (very fitting for them). My dog loved all the kids at her front door since she lives with old people.

Last year a little girl ran into my house and chased the dog down the hall towards my bedroom – sugar induced craziness.  But no harm was done.   

Every year I gripe about the price of candy.  I worry if I’ll have enough, and then it is over in a flash.  I so enjoy all the smiling faces full of candy and mischief.  Again, this year the joy overflowed on a cool, crisp evening when it was fun to pretend – and eat candy too.

Happy après Halloween for another year. 

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2018 Clearing Your Life: A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cook)

    Change is inevitable. It is a good thing for some, others struggle with it.

    To Live is to Change. To be perfect is to change often. – John Henry Newman.

I’ve often misquoted this saying and attributed it to Confucius. But the meaning is the same.  Change is a good thing because remaining stationary is to miss the things life has to show you.  You never know what is just around the next corner and you are bound to miss it, if you don’t make the journey.

It’s fall, the season of change.  God had a great idea with the four seasons.  Imagine how boring if it was eternally hot or cold.  Just when you are so sick and tired of the heat in the summer, the winter winds begin to blow. But first there is a small interval of the weather in between – fall.  Then when your toes and nose are frozen beyond warmth, summer arrives – but first the scents and blossoms of spring.  I still find it amazing, even at my age, when fall and spring give us respite. Being fried or frozen make us grateful for the seasons of postponement.

I look forward to change.  I’m easily bored and always looking for adventure.  Others hold close the day-to-day work I find intolerable sometimes. I am always on the lookout for the next thing and I find it hard to understand not wanting to find out what comes afterwards.  I always say I blame it on my father who was an adventurer.  He had to know why, when and where and he would find out by experiencing it himself.  That is not a bad thing.  He experienced a lot in his time and passed that love on to more than one generation.

I am in love with fall and the relief it gives us. I walked the dog this morning and kicked the fallen leaves while smelling the hint of winter in the air.  I made plans for simmering soup and writing by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate.  The simple things can also be an adventure.

Enjoy the change. What are your plans for fall and winter?

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2018 Clearing My Life: Blooming Justice

    The first in the Keystone Lake Series, Blooming Justice is soon to be released.  Erin Sampson is a high school senior ready to start college – on a shoe-string.  Hard working and determined, she knows she wants to have more of a career than her mother. She wants to be a lawyer like her aunt.  And she thinks her hard work and determination are all she needs in life.

And then she meets Todd. His life hasn’t been wonderful, though to the outside world he has everything a young man could want. His scarred childhood has created a monster, one that cannot be tolerated.

Erin soon realizes bullies come in all shapes and sizes. They are everywhere, and you can’t let them ruin your life.  Sexually harassed at the senior prom, she plans to forget it and move on.  She wasn’t hurt, only humiliated – but it was just the beginning. In college – and at her aunt’s law firm where she works part time – she will have to find the strength to stand up for herself and others.

Here’s an excerpt from the prom:

And just like that his hand was on her butt.

Really? On a first date? Did he really think he’d get that lucky? The laughter from the other table increased – and then it hit her. The date was a show for his friends. She reached down and moved his hand back up. He backed up looking her up and down, then pulled her tighter, grinning, and sliding his hand down again. This time he grabbed a handful of ass as he dipped her backwards toward the table. The French twist felt heavy behind her, then the spaghetti strap on the gown popped. She felt her face flush, and he stood her back on her feet.

“Oops,” Todd said leering.

“What are you doing?” She yanked up the borrowed dress her face burning with embarrassment.

“Just dancin’.”

And the music changed to a fast tune.

She stood in shock facing her date holding the dress up on one side, her face on fire listening to the laughter. She suddenly knew the plan. Get the geek girl to fall for you so you can make fun of her, or worse.

“Need a pin, honey?” Sally Elkman asked with a smirk as she shoved past holding on to the hand of a boy Erin knew only as Train Wreck. Thrusting Erin out of the way, they pushed past leaving her to face her date. Todd grinned as he grabbed her again and twirled her around, then pulled her toward him.

Blooming Justice is a coming of age story about strength and endurance, friendship and love.  I look forward to introducing you to the first in the Keystone Lake Series, Blooming Justice in 2019.

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2018 Clearing my Life: Preparing for Fall!

    Cold weather is coming!  Today is the day – the day that the cold air is coming in along with more moisture.  Fall is here, and winter is on the way.  With that in mind, I brought in a couple of plants, just in case the meteorologists are correct about a possible freeze.  My geranium decided to try one last time to bloom before the cold air arrives.  I’ll bring it in and see if I can keep it alive this winter.      I don’t make any guarantees.

My family and I attended the Greek Festival in Edmond yesterday (Oompah!) and dined on Gyro sandwiches, some wonderful Greek beer and wine and of course Baklava for dessert.  I bought a lovely scarf of silk and pashmina wool.  And as usual, just for the sake of our health, we brought home an assortment of Greek desserts. I know it is fall when the Greek Fest comes around and I even got to wear my new fall poncho.

I’ve gone to work for the local YMCA substitute teaching some classes that I sometimes attend (not the heavy-duty, extremely athletic ones, but the old lady ones). It keeps me active and helps others when the regular teacher needs some time off.  It won’t interfere with my writing and who knows I might loose some weight. (unless I continue to eat Greek desserts).

Fall is a time when Mother Nature prepares for a long winter’s rest. It seems to energize me and make me want to try new things.  It is soup weather instead of salad weather and maybe with my increased time at the Y, I won’t put on the inevitable winter pounds this year.

What does fall do for you?  Do you rest, or does it energize you?

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2018 Clearing my Life: SWOSU-Sayre Literary Festival

  I was asked to speak at SWOSU-Sayre’s annual Literary Festival https://newsok.com/article/5609767/swosu-sayre-fall-literary-festival-to-be-held-on-oct.-5 this last week.  I found myself immersed with a great group of people who love literature as much as I do.  Terry Ford and her staff put together a great day with vendors, speakers and even a pumpkin decorating contest.  I even received a student anthology of writing put together by the school and handed out at the festival.  

Other speakers were Bob Avey of Broken Arrow, who writes Detective Kenny Elliott series of crime fiction, and Landry Brewer, recipient of the 2018 SWOSU Bernhardt Academic Excellence Award. He has a new book about Maurice Halperin, a University of Oklahoma professor who was accused of being a communist and spy.

There was even a free lunch and lots of participation by high school and college students from Sayre and surrounding communities.  It was a great time as we shared our love of literature.

I look forward to more of their festivals and thank you SWOSU-Sayre for inviting me!  

(Oh, and I helped a friend with her garage sale and clearing her life this week.  I try to keep you updated.)

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