Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2016.
This year has been an amazing year of highs and lows, of incredible personal challenges, yet it had many exciting plans that I have seen come to fruition.
I have a chronic illness, Fibromyalgia. One of the ways that I deal with a chronic illness is to keep a gratitude box. This list was not a surprise but it was nice to see it all in one place. And this is just the beginning…
Day 3: Successes
I love reflecting on the past year as I eagerly focus ahead for the coming year. It is a time that I take stock of the great experiences that I've had, as well as having a good hard look at the lessons that I have learned from the tough and challenging times as well.
In the past couple of weeks I have read over past blog posts and have picked out the most popular blog posts of 2016, counting down to the most popular.
10. At a writer’s workshop in my local writer’s group, find out what we learnt about using similes and metaphors to make your writing sing. Interesting stories are included.
9. Ester de Boer’s illustrator school visit is a success. Find out what she got up to at a local primary school that had them giggling.
8. Ever wondered if you should attend a Creative Weekend? Find out what happened when I took the plunge at a Creative Workshop Weekend in Bright, Victoria. The same might happen for you.
7. Check out my interview with Karen Tyrell and her latest book, Song Bird: Superhero, and find out why it should be on your kids 'to be read list'.
6. Have you ever wondered what it is like to live on the Autism Spectrum. Get some insight from my son, Brandon, as he chats candidly about living with Asperger’s in a Neurotypical world and not giving up.
5. Have you ever wondered what it is like to pursue a writing career and be a single parent? Is it even possible? Find out from someone who knows. Meet Robert Vescio, a children’s author and single parent.
4. The life is tough. The writing life can be tough. Have you ever wanted to give up? I have. Find out why, and how I fought back. I hope these tips will encourage you on your life journey.
3. Author school visits are all part of an author’s life. Find out about how I prepared for my first school visit, and how it went.
2. Wondering whether you should go to the KidLitVic2017 Meet the Publishers Conference in Melbourne next year? Don’t know what to expect? Find out about my take on the conference, as well as links to other authors' blog posts who went too.
And the top post for 2016…
1. The exciting announcement that Ester and I have our book, Raymund and the Fear Monster, coming out late 2017. It is a book about overcoming fear.
2016 has been an amazing year. I thank you all for being such wonderful supporters of my blog. I appreciate the time it takes to click and share; to post a comment either here, Facebook, or Twitter; or to send me an email.
If you want me to tackle something in particular, please email me, or pm me on Facebook or Twitter.
I have some new topics lined up, and some authors are coming for a visit. So stay tuned. Look out 2017, here we come.
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Recently, I experienced the worst flare up of Fibromyalgia symptoms that I’d had for years. In the end I had to take a break from everything to look after myself and not burn out. Been there. Done that. It is not fun.
Looking back over the past year has been an incredible time. It was while I was looking back over blog posts from the past year or so that I discovered this one.
On the weekend I had an amazing dining experience at Café 3875 & Co. in Rosedale, Victoria. My friends and I gathered to celebrate another friend’s birthday. Admittedly, my daughter and I approached the experience with some trepidation due to our various food allergies and intolerances.
Entering the establishment we were stunned by the eclectic decor. The hours that we were there, we were still discovering something new to point out. There was a lovely and varied menu to suit even gluten free and vegetarians. All the staff were warm and friendly.
I have to say that the Chef, Lucus, bent over backwards to cater to my daughter’s and mine dietary requirements. The chef personally came out, introduced himself, and even checked to make sure that the food was to our specifications. It was delicious by the way. It was so nice to eat out and not pay for it later, i.e. curled up in bed for a few hours with stomach cramps etc.
The plates and the quantities placed on them were HUGE, and the food was scrumdiddliumptious.
Then there were the little touches. A birthday card from the café that was for my friend, was on the table when we arrived. There was the coffee art, the little tiny biscuits on the teeny teaspoons, and every spoon unique. There was the little flower art on the plates with pancakes, the cute little milk jugs only one cm high, the little bitty honey pot just for me for my Spiced Chai Tea, the lovely little teapots, the perfume for use in the bathroom... well you get the picture.
We will certainly be returning and recommending the cafe to everyone.
Which brings me writing. How, you may be asking, does this relate?
I have a friend who illustrates children’s picture books. I love watching her work. She loves placing little things throughout her detailed pictures that you have to hunt for. I always end up spotting something that I hadn’t seen before, even months down the track. It’s those little details that add to the overall enjoyable experience of a picture book.
I write for children. The experience at the cafe had me asking the question, ‘How can I, a children’s writer, add the little things in my stories, that will make a child fall in love with my characters?’
Choosing a character that a child will identify with, adding little things about the child, likes, dislikes, setting, writing a story that child can relate to--all these can add to a story. But, it can be the tone of voice, an action, just one little word, that can change the overall feel of a story.
I will keep this experience in mind as I write from now on. I will also try to remember it in my day to day dealings with people. How about this as a challenge: Ring and say thanks for the nice day out. Send a card or note just to say, 'Hi!' Have special cups for guests. Maybe little chocolates or biscuits to go with their tea. A flower from the garden as they head home.
Whatever it is, be true to yourself, be creative and keep in mind, it is in the little things that others are made to feel special.
For me, this post was a reminder that, during this time of big spending (for many but not all), lots of eating and indulgences of various kinds that many regret later, that it is a time to reflect on what I have to be thankful for. And it is for the many seemingly many small experiences that I have had this year that have made it one of the most amazing of my life so far.
It was a year of much personal growth, as well as experiencing one of the longest periods of decreased mobility that I’ve had (many months of cold weather did not help). It is because of those times, the days I could barely walk and lived on painkillers, I stopped to be grateful for the many wonderful people in my life, meeting many more, as well as the amazing experiences that I have had this year.
I keep a gratitude box that I started this year. Every time I have something to be grateful for, I write it down and pop it in. I am looking forward to opening up this now overflowing box on New Years Eve and reminding myself of all the wonderful things that have happened in 2016.
What can you do for someone this Christmas? And, like I said last year in the above post, whatever it is, be true to yourself, be creative and keep in mind, it is in the little things that others are made to feel special. And for some, they will not feel so lost, forgotten, or overlooked, but rather remembered and valued.
Merry Christmas everyone.
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