Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Improper Poll: In a Word

Recently at work I read parts of Life’s Greatest Lessons. In it, the author, Hal Urban, discussed the idea of constantly being reminded by the words “think” and “thank.”

That got me thinking: if you could have one word posted where you would see it every day as a reminder, what word would you choose? I think mine might be the word, “grateful.” The more I see what can go wrong in life, the more grateful I am for the things that are right.

In fact, a friend and I were talking about this the other day. Why is it that the people we know who have it easiest in life are those who seem to think they are perpetually suffering? They have a talent for getting people to rally around them and do things for them while they sit back and complain. These people are invariably masters of the double standard. They don’t seem to return the things they ask for. When asked why, they say it’s because they are more sensitive than others. So sensitive that they will beat people to a bloody pulp with their “I’m Sensitive” signs and then tell them they are mean for running away.

I’m convinced that the happiest people in life are not those who have it easiest. The people who have the things that look like they should be happy struggle so hard to look better than others that I can’t help but wonder if they feel worse.

My friend and I concluded that it’s really the grateful who are the most happy in life. If you could have any one word posted as a reminder where you would see it every day, what would that word be?

Here’s to a happy—and grateful—2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Signing and Christmas and Stuff

I know—I’ve been remiss in my blogging, much too bogged to blog. I must nonetheless report that the “Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Soup for the Body” book signing was wonderful, and we even got to meet the elusive Val Thevictorian along with some male members of the Thevictorian family.

We collected lots of food for charity and sold an average of 4 books each. Many, many thanks to our friends and family who came out to support us, not to mention to my dear and talented writer friend Theresa Sanders, for doing the work of setting it all up. She begins the preparations at least six months beforehand and did even more work this year to add the extra bookstores.

The above is video footage accidentally shot by my friend Jeffry. None of us knew the camera was on “movie” setting. I thought Jeffry was just one of those people who make you wait forever before he snaps the picture.

Shown left to right are Nina Miller, Theresa Sanders, Dennis Tidwell (co-owner of All on the Same Page bookstore), me, and Patt Hollinger Pickett. 

Friends, family, chocolate, books, laughter…does it get any better?

Which brings me to Christmas, and:

Ten Wonderful Themes of Christmas, No Matter What Your Religion
  1. Give.
  2. Celebrate babies.
  3. Let there be chocolate.
  4. Spend time with family.
  5. Spend time with friends.
  6. Embrace traditions, because we never outgrow them.
  7. Make children feel special.
  8. Create magic. Believe in magic. Be magical.
  9. Decorate. Sing. Get in touch with your spiritual side. One of life’s many paradoxes is that the greatest of people are the ones who know they are not the greatest thing out there.
  10. I am now going to reveal what I find is the greatest miracle of Christianity. It’s the miracle that for over 2000 years, so many people worship, as the greatest king who ever lived, a man who was born in a barn. A poor “nobody” who taught that the most valuable riches are found within. Now that’s something.

May Christmas find you with exactly what you value most in life. May it be light in darkness and comfort in need. May it raise humanity to new heights and cause your soul to sing with angels.

"Better joy in a cottage than sorrow in a palace..."    ~ Proverbs

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Improper Poll: Death by Christmas Décor

When I was growing up, my mother used to decorate with nostalgia. I don’t mean decorations with a nostalgic feel, either. She had to have every ornament and light that had survived her own childhood—even if her entire childhood would have been outlawed by today’s EPA. I still consider it a miracle that her tree had once been lighted by seriously frayed 1940s bubble lights rather than actual flaming candles.

Then there was the wreath. In life it had been made of real holly, but that holly hadn't seen life since at least two wars earlier. In death it had atrophied and mummified into a vicious, gnarled business I still think of as The Wreath of Wrath. It was a cruel crown of thorns that lived in the bowels of the scary-crawl-space during the rest of the year and drew blood even through the most heavy duty pair of mittens. It was always below zero in Nebraska at that time of year, so the unfortunate Christmas decorator was besieged by all sorts of peril. And guess who was always voted Noel Ostentatious Ornamentation Operator (N.O.O.O.)?

So when my daughter and I decorated, I tried to get an honest look at what I was putting up. Some is trying to be pretty, and some is a little nostalgic, and some is blatantly tacky…or what the children liked to call “fun.” Not only does baby Jesus slumber in front of a strobe-lighted manger of pine garland, but a quilted Rudolf-trophy head presides over the room just because I enjoy its satirical feel.

So tell me: Do you have dangerous décor? Or do you do pretty, tacky or nostalgic? Or all of the above? Or nothing at all?

P.S.-Many, many thanks to those of you who came out to see us for the Fourth Annual "Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Soup for the Body" event!!! I will be posting more about this later!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fourth Annual "Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Soup for the Body" Book Signing

Next Saturday is the fourth annual “Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Soup for the Body” book signing! This combination book signing and canned food drive has now expanded citywide in honor of Chicken Soup's upcoming twentieth anniversary.

Bring a canned good and receive 20% off your entire purchase. There are three stores this year:

From 10 am to 12 noon: All on the Same Page, 11052 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, MO. Picture a cozy and unexpected little reading oasis featuring books from lots of local authors. Featured will be Nina Miller, Theresa Sanders, and me, T'Mara Goodsell.

From 1-3 pm: Main Street Books, 307 South Main Street, St. Charles, MO. Imagine a Thomas Kincaid painting complete with brick streets and horse-drawn carriages, and you will have a pretty good idea of Main Street. Signing books will be Cathi LaMarche, Linda O'Connell , Lynn Cahoon, and Pat Wahler.

From 4-6 PM: The Book House, 9719 Manchester Rd., St. Louis, MO. This charmer looks just like it belongs in a Dickens Christmas Village (both inside and out). Featured writers will be Beth M. Wood, Donna Duly Volkenannt, and Sioux Roslawski.

This is a great day to do your book shopping if you live in the Saint Louis area. If you don't, it's a great day for a road trip! Hope to see you there!