People across America are gearing up for the big Memorial Day weekend celebration. Stores are running sales, cook-outs and other celebrations are being planned, boat launches and fishing trips are under way, and most of our Nation’s National Parks and Amusements will officially open for the 2013 Summer Season. However, with all of this activity are we doing anything to show what Memorial Day really means?
Whatever you plan to do this weekend, I hope you’ll take some time to incorporate things that will remind you, and teach your children, what makes this country so special.
There are many stories about the origins of Memorial Day, but the National Holiday was officially proclaimed in 1868 when General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, had flowers placed on the graves of Union and Confederate Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. It’s a time for us as Americans to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by our Military men and women who over the years have bought us our freedom.
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the kick-off to summer, or enjoying our favorite American pastimes, but let’s take the time to be thankful for them and remember where they came from in the process.
Here are some ideas that I hope you’ll consider adding to your Memorial Day celebration, and that I hope you’ll make part of your annual family traditions. Whatever you do, be safe! Happy Memorial Day!
1. Respect the American Flag
The American Flag is a symbol that shows the world that as an American people, we are committed to one another. The Flag shows that we care about each other and are in support of one another. It’s special and should be treated with respect.
The next time you see an American Flag, take the time to think about what it means. Discuss it with your children. Do they know what it stands for? What the stars and stripes symbolize? Where it originated? This could be a great opportunity for a special outing to your local library. Find some books about the history of the American Flag and
read them with your children. Turn this into a summer project, ending with the 4th of July Celebration, and get creative. Do some art projects, play games like ‘capture the flag’, and give rewards for whoever can find bits of information or other symbols of America during your daily outings and activities.
Consider flying or displaying your own American Flag to let your neighbors and the world know that you’re glad to be part of a great nation.
2. Learn the Pledge of Allegiance and Teach It to Your Children
Most people have at least heard the Pledge of Allegiance but nowadays, few really understand its meaning. Children are no longer required to recite the Pledge or salute the American Flag in school.
The Pledge is simply a promise. It’s a verbal commitment that you’re giving your word as an American citizen to be loyal (allegiance) to your country and the Flag it represents.
You’re expressing thankfulness for the right to choose your leaders (the republic) and expressing your willingness to stand by your neighbor in a strong and powerful (indivisible) nation. You’re telling the world that your freedom (liberty) and fairness (justice) is important to you.
Consider doing some research with your kids and find out when the Pledge of Allegiance was first written and why. (1892 and the 400th anniversary celebration of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas will get you started.)
3. Sing Patriotic Songs
Whether you’re gathering around a campfire to roast marshmallows, barbequing in your backyard, or simply spending a quiet evening with family and friends, consider taking some time to sing some songs about America. There are plenty of great patriotic
songs you could sing. “The Star Spangled Banner”, “America the Beautiful”, “This
Land is Your Land”, “God Bless the USA”, “You’re a Grand Old Flag”, and “Yankee
Doodle Boy” are just a few. Copy the lyrics and pass them around. Talk about
what the words mean. Let the kids put on a parade. This would be the time to let
them get out those pots, pans, and spoons, and show the world that Americans
know how to make some noise!
4. Plan a Road Trip to a National Monument
Places like Arlington National Cemetery, Boston with its Tea Party attractions and Plymouth Plantation, and Gettysburg are all great ideas for family vacations that
reinforce American history and build patriotism. You could also visit local
museums and government buildings like Fire Departments and Police Stations.
(Call ahead and arrange for a tour.) Get the whole family involved and assign
each member a specific task in the planning and in the actual visit. This could
be something as simple as asking a question. Share what you’ve learned with each
other and express how these people’s lives reflect upon yours. Even the youngest
child will understand that a Policeman, Fireman, or Soldier helps them be
5. Do Something for the Military
Take the time to shake hands with our Military men and women and say, “Thank
Offer to do yard work or cook a meal for a family who’s loved one is
Make Thank-You cards, or red tissue paper Poppies (the official Memorial Day flower inspired by Moina Michael’s Poem “In Flanders Field”), and deliver them to Military personnel or Veterans in a Veterans Home. Nothing says “I value you.” like personal
recognition, and Veterans especially like to talk about their experiences. It would mean so much to them for a younger person today to say, “I’m grateful that
you have helped me have my freedom.”
Get together with neighbors or family and have a free carwash for Military personnel. Advertise with signs and have them show you their Military ID to get a free
Again, whatever you do to celebrate, stay safe!
I want to personally thank all of you out there who are in our Nations Armed Forces or who have loved ones serving our Nation. I value you and am grateful for the freedom you afford me and the sacrifices your loved ones make to let that freedom exist!
“Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti
Simoni! What is this you have scribbled on my kitchen wall?!”
“I am sorry Momma. It is a masterpiece! The hand of God giving life to Adam!”
“Well you better get it off of there before ‘The hand of Momma’ takes your life from you!”
Do you suppose the mothers of our world’s prodigies ever had moments such as this when their kids were growing up?
With the approach of Mother’s Day, I have found myself thinking a lot about when my own “babies” were small.
As a new mother I wondered what they would become and how they might leave their mark on the world. I wondered whether I was nurturing them enough and helping to develop the most important of their character traits. I wanted them to become the best human beings that they could be.
At times, I wondered if my kids would even make it to adulthood! I had very imaginative children who seemed to always get into some kind of calamity every other day! I guess most kids do, but the countless, sleepless nights and worries seem so paramount when you're going through them.
I can’t help but smile when I think of all the possibilities my granddaughter will have in store for her mother now that she is making her mark on the world. I’m so proud of the mother my own sweet daughter has become. I know she will have her hands full with little Lizzie and my heart goes out to her as I think about what they will go through together before Elizabeth is grown.
If you’re a mother, you understand what I mean. There are no words to describe the sense of awe and fullness you have for being responsible for and even undeserving of, the life of another human being - one that is part of you and connected to you in such an intimate way.
Michelangelo’s mother must have felt the same when her son was growing up. Most of us know this man of greatness for the legacy his art has left on the world. This Italian Renaissance Sculptor, Painter, Poet and Engineer, was one of the greatest artists of all time. His works like the Pieta’, the Statue of David, his paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and his architectural work at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, all prove the
measure of his greatness. But Michelangelo was a person, just like you and I. His apprentice often noted that he was moody and that he was also rude. More than once he was credited for being “indifferent to food and drink, eating more out of necessity than pleasure”, (no doubt evidence of his artistic nature), and he was called “rough and uncouth, his domestic habits were incredibly squalid” according to written accounts of the day.
Do you suppose his mother cringed at hearing these kinds of things said about her son? That she was embarrassed? I can just hear her saying, “Michel, I taught you better than that!”
If she did, she no doubt forgot all of his imperfections when she looked at one of his .
Reading these kinds of things about Michelangelo helps me to not feel so bad about the times I neglected my own kids or felt that I had failed them in some way. It eases the embarrassment and shame caused by the mountain of dishes and laundry everyone had to climb over just to get to the kitchen when they were little and it somehow makes up for the numerous times I felt I had no idea what I was doing and was sure I had ruined their lives for good!
I’m not sure what my granddaughter will do with her own life or what greatness she has in store for us. It doesn’t matter. She is part of a legacy.
I know my legacy on the world is not equal to that of Michelangelo’s or his mother’s, but mine holds no less beauty. When I look into the tiny face of my grandchild, she is more beautiful to me than any masterpiece in the world! I see her mother and myself reflected back.
My legacy is my daughter, my son, and now a granddaughter. These are my masterpieces. These are my marks on the world.
Oh, I have my writing, and even a few paintings that I have put together over the years, but they cannot compare to the mark of my children. My legacy doesn’t hang from a ceiling or stand in a marble hall, or even lie between the pages of a book. It lives and breathes, loves and cries. It drips with beauty and inspires hope. My legacy is life and the world was immediately changed the day it touched the horizon!
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have the legacy of life! May your masterpieces make you proud as they leave their mark - your mark - on the world!
Just a quick post to offer my many thanks for your thoughts and prayers during my recent heart surgery and recovery. I've missed interacting with you all and look forward to getting back to "para" normal asap. Until then, here's a little glimpse into my pain journal, and yes, you have my permission to point out typos! ;)
"This mask I wear to hide you grows heavier. How can something
so fragile and so veiled carry so much weight? Sometimes I don’t know which
presses on me more, the burden you place upon me to wear it, or the restraints I
place upon myself to keep it in place. They consume me, and I find myself
buckling beneath their load.
I" dare not slip and let the mask fall for fear of retribution.
The anguish that one act would cause me, would be a thousand times worse than
what I suffer now. I cannot expose your hideousness to those around me and you
know that. Sometimes I think you play on that in order to increase the torment
of my distress. You’d like me to break and flood the earth with my tears, but I
will not give in. They say that one drop of water raises the sea, and I will not
be responsible for flooding the space around me and allowing my torrents to
drown the ones I love in your abyss.
"You’d like nothing better than to be exposed to the light. I
know you. You push and pry, hoping to find a crack in my facade. You leech not
only my life, but the lives of those near me, and I’ll not help you spread your
filth throughout my world. Don’t worry. You’ll have your day in the sun, but
not today. Today I give you nothing!
"Perhaps I’m being just as selfish as you for keeping you under
the mask, but I can’t help it. I refuse to allow you to compound your
importance. The day will come when you will stand in the spotlight, and receive
the attention you so desperately crave. You’ll have your chance to feed on
others, and infect them with your taint. But until then, I’ll not help you with
your efforts to poison me and mine any further. No, you will have to wait for
that! At least I will spare them the hell of looking into my face and seeing
you mirrored back at them.
"You see, it’s not strength that keeps the mask in place, but
weakness! I cannot bear the torture you inflict on others, and so I hide you until I am truly alone. "
Here's another talented writer that I think you will like if you give him a try. He's brought us a bit of wisdom through his writing tip posted under Buzz From the Best a while ago, and now it's time to see if Robert Thomas
lives up to his advice. I think you'll find that he does!
Dream Valley is a fantasy saga that throws readers into a world of adventure, magic, and war. It's a land held in perpetual summer, with the same lush beauty as when the world was born. The air is as sweet as nectar and the water so clear it mirrors the clouds from the sky itself. Nothing ever dies there except for the very old. Never has there been a care until an unexpected invasion from a land long thought dead envelops the Chrystum and two life-long friends are thrown into the ravages of war.
Creatures they once fought only in their dreams of glory and grandeur have come to life to rape and pillage their peaceful world. Their only hope now resides in a stranger from
outside their realm and the aging wisdom of one of their own as an epic journey
of magic and war now consumes them to the very end.
Give Dream Valley a try and make sure to leave a review! Happy reading. :)
Tax season is coming to a close here in the US as filers only have until April 15th to get their tax forms sent in to the IRS. My husband and I took care of ours a few weeks ago, and doing so has set off a chain of thought in regard to my royalties that won’t quiet down. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about how much I actually earned last year as a writer, and how I’m going to challenge myself to increase that figure in 2013.
Let me first say that I don’t write for the money, but it is nice to earn some. Most of you know that I can no longer work outside the home. Those that don’t, it’s a long story, which I’d be happy to share if you really want the boring details of pre-existing conditions, injuries, and becoming a liability issue. Anyway, it would be foolish to invest all the time and resources that it takes to produce a novel, and not want to at least sell a few copies, and I’m no fool. Okay, maybe I am, but not one that doesn't want to be a paid for her books.
I've been thinking long and hard about how difficult it is for Indie Authors to get their books noticed. We do our own marketing. We often end up feeling like homeless people standing on the street corner begging for someone to notice us and take pity. I know I’m not alone in this, as I've talked with countless others who feel the same way. People, who have well written, perfectly formatted, exciting and interesting stories, find themselves almost begging for someone to read them. So what’s an Indie to do? How can we increase the visibility of our works in the hopes of gaining popularity?
One major way, is for those that do read our books to leave reviews. A person doesn’t have to be an eloquent orator to tell someone else how amazingly awesome, or even horrifically terrible, they thought a book was. It only takes a minute or two to write a review, and a simple, “I loved this book!”, or “This was a disappointment”, goes a long way to help an author’s writing. That’s right. Even bad reviews help an author, because they teach us where we need to improve.
Another way is for people to talk about us face to face. A lot. And to the right people.
When we go to the movies to see the latest film, what’s the first thing we do when it’s over? We talk about it! We tweet to our friends, rave or complain about it on Facebook, and we discuss it in circles of people who have the same interests as we do. Do we think to do this with the books that we read? How many of us have read a book and thought, “They should turn this into a movie.”? Guess what? The only way that’s going to happen, is if the book already has a following and lots of people are talking about it! That’s right, literary agents are only interested in getting movie rights for books that are being talked about. A lot. That means that an Indie Author needs to have a book that sells about six figures for anyone to take notice. But we know it can happen! I’ve witnessed it with a member of my own writing forum. (Shamelessly blows on knuckles and rubs them against shoulder because Colleen Hoover is in my writer’s forum, and I think that this somehow entitles me to ride the shirttails of her success...which it doesn’t… but I like to pretend it does…while I dream of having just a tenth of the talent she has… Sighs…)
My point with all of this is, that Indies need people who will get behind us and help us to promote or books by word of mouth. I can’t speak for everyone out there, but I appreciate every comment, review, email, and yes, sale that I get and I thank you. Maybe in a few years my royalties will outweigh my husband’s wages, tips, and compensations on our tax forms. Maybe not. But each new review I get helps me to become a better writer and means that I’m one step closer to living the Indie dream.
In the meantime, I’m going to continue to help my fellow authors in the promotion of their books. Maybe some will do the same for me. I know some have already and I greatly appreciate it. And if you see me on the corner with a cardboard sign, maybe you could honk and wave!
However you choose to celebrate the Easter Holiday, I wish you joy! Many will be off to church today, celebrating the Resurrection. Others will be anticipating that look of surprise on a child's face over hidden eggs, jellybeans, and the discovery of chocolate bunnies. Others still will celebrate spring and the coming of a new season. Rejoice and enjoy time with family, loved ones, and friends! Blessings and Happy Easter to you all.
What a combination! This week our Author Shout Out goes to the multi-talented Barbara Mack. Her romance novel, Chasing the Sunset is a quarter-finalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel contest and samples of this great story can be downloaded for free! Leave a review and let everyone know how much you enjoyed Barbara's work. Make sure to vote for the Grand Prize winner on May 21 at www.amazon.com/ABNA .
If you're not into romance, you can try any number of Barbara's cook books with great recipes and tips on making that perfect, and deliciously healthy bread we all love to eat! Give Barbara's writing a try, and as always, tell your friends about this fabulous Indie Author.
We all fall in love with the main characters in a story, but what makes a perfect sidekick? Someone who helps the others along?
This week's writing tip from Mona Ingram, an ever popular romance novelist, tells all. Check out what she has to say about the importance of a good sidekick and then read Then Came Love
to see if she gets it right! I'm pretty sure you'll find that she did!
To read Mona's and other great writing tips, just visit Buzz From the Best and as always, I hope you're learning plenty of new techniques and trying them out with your own writing. Cheers!
It's been a while, but it's time for another Author Shout Out. Like in the past I have two great reads for you this week, and both Authors have the same first name!
The first comes from Jess Mountifield, a UK native now transplanted into the beautiful Roman city of Bath. Her book, Sherdan's Prophecy, is a science fiction novel where faith and technology come together to take the human race another step closer to the final showdown of time. This is a gritty account of the struggle for power that shows both the good and bad sides of humanity. Unique and well worth reading.
Our second Author is Jess Allison. Jess is a red-headed adventuress who at the age of 14 ran away from home to work in a circus. She did everything from pick up elephant poop to helping set up booths. She found a whole new world and now writes about new worlds of fascinating alien people who are sometimes quite human.
Her fantasy adventure Road to Cordia
is laced with humor and intrigue in a delightful tale of dragons, slavers, tricksters, and a young girl's coming
Be sure to check out these two great books and other works that both Jess and Jess have to offer! Enjoy.
This week's tip comes from David A. Cuban, Ph.D.
David is a Canadian-American author of French-Spanish ancestry! What a mix! But he knows his stuff after having attended the University of Toronto where he received two Master's degrees.
David moved to the U.S. in the early 90's to do doctoral studies.
He has published academic books and essays in the fields of literature, linguistics and teacher education.
He has also published works of fiction in Europe, Latin America and North America.
He is fluent in English, Spanish and German; with working knowledge of French, Italian and Portuguese.
With all of that linguistic knowledge under his belt, we've bound to learn something this week! So pop on over to Buzz From the Best and see what David has in store for us. And in the words of my infamous friend, "Cheers"!
David's E-mail: email@example.com