Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SHERRI WILSON JOHNSON and TO DANCE ONCE MORE

I am pleased to host an interview today with fellow Oaktara author Sherri Wilson Johnson and feature her latest release, To Dance Once More.  Sherri and I are definitely kindred spirits--we first "met" through our publisher's website, where our mutual values have become apparent over the past year or so.  I am therefore pleased to welcome Sherri and have her share something about herself.
~~~     ~~~     ~~~     ~~~     ~~~     ~~~     ~~~     ~~~     


Welcome!  So glad to have you with us today, Sherri.   Tell us about yourself.
Posey Johnson
Hi, folks! I am Sherri Wilson Johnson, author of To Dance Once More. I am from Georgia—never lived anywhere else. I have been married since 1988. I am a former homeschooling mom of my two children (now 21 and 17) and I have a twelve year old Labrador and a two year old Chihuahua who doesn’t know she’s a dog. 


Well, we'll have to name your Chihuahua an honorary dachshund, since she seems to have traits like our doxies--Duke and granddog Shadow!

Now on to your novel, To Dance Once More.  Tell us  about it.
To Dance Once More is the story of Lydia Jane Barrington, a Victorian debutante. Lydia lives on a plantation in Florida under the watchful eye of her father. She’s quite an independent young lady who does not want to fall into the trap (as she sees it) that her mother and sisters have fallen into—marriage and motherhood. She wants to travel the world and experience life before giving her heart to a man. One day, her eyes are opened to love and no matter what, she cannot forget the blissful feeling it causes. She begins to believe that love isn’t such a bad thing after all. Then she discovers a secret that prohibits any of her dreams from ever coming true. She begins a quest to free herself and her family from a future of bondage. Hearts are broken and lives are torn apart because of Lydia’s own selfishness. Will she surrender to a call that God placed on her life and be able to experience love after all? You’ll have to read the book to find out.


Well, you've certainly piqued readers' interest now, Sherri, especially those who love a good Victorian novel.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, BY AUDREY HEPBURN

Below are beautiful words Audrey Hepburn wrote when asked to share her "beauty tips."  They were read at her funeral years later: 


"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others." 


Good advice still.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"B" IS FOR . . . BOREDOM

Boredom  is an odd (or even boring) topic to write about, I know.   Most people would rather have their fingernails ripped off than be afflicted with boredom!  I believe I am qualified to address this topic, however, because I am easily bored myself.  My mind has to be stimulated most of the time:  I don't enjoy boring colors, books, TV shows and movies, people, or events.

Boredom, especially for children and teenagers, is often looked upon by them as a form of torture:  "Mom, I'm sooooo bored," which means that Mom is expected to alleviate the boredom.  As a child, I never said that to my mother, at least not more than once!  She would definitely find something to alleviate my boredom--such as help around the house, or (horrors), wash the dishes.  I hated washing dishes.  Still do. In any case, at that time, it didn't occur to me that she might appreciate some spontaneous help with those things.  Oh, I did my assigned tasks, but I wouldn't usually help with anything else unless prodded to do so.  She worked full time and was probably tired--and never had the time to be bored herself.

By the way, why should others be expected, or made to feel obligated, to relieve our boredom?  And, with all the gadgets and technology today that are dedicated to entertaining us, why are we ever bored?  But back to my hypothesis . . .

The concept of boredom, which means something dull, tiresome, or tedious, is not necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, if that is the case, then we can just switch to something that isn't dull, tiresome, or tedious, right?  Unfortunately, however, that's not always possible because the object of the boredom is often a person we have to endure (like a dear Aunt Hortense who never tires of talking about her antique doorknob collection), a job we must keep (because creditors often take a dim view of those who quit their jobs), or an event we must attend (a graduation ceremony that comes prepackaged with a long-winded, boring speaker).  We all suffer through those things because they are just a part of life.  There's an entire infrastructure of books, programs, and conferences that has been created to address these issues, so let's not deprive all those creators of their methods for making a living.

Despite all that, I still think that boredom can be a good thing, and I have several reasons for thinking so.


When boredom sets in:
(1) reassess the root cause of the boredom, then take steps to rectify it.  In thinking through the reason for the boredom, we just might stumble upon something worthwhile and enjoyable to do.

(2) realize that there are things far worse than boredom, such as being in the hospital, falling off a cliff, or being chased by a horde of starved spiders!  (I've been dying to use that description since I saw it for a movie blurb on our TV guide channel.  Ewwwww . . . and I didn't watch that movie, needless to say.)

(3) rethink the what we could be doing instead of thinking about ourselves (isn't that what boredom is?).  Reach out to someone else with a cheery phone call, an invitation to an activity, a nice note, or even a brief visit.

(4) revel in the boredom!  Yes, that's right--revel in it.  Some of us don't have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything, we stay on the go nonstop, we have more responsibilities than we can handle, or we are just plain worn out--if that is the case, then, what on earth is wrong with just enjoying a peaceful time without expecting to be bombarded with sensory overload?

Our forefathers would not understand the modern concept of boredom, I'm certain. They worked so hard to scratch out a living that they seldom had any time to even think about it  (unless, of course, one's forefathers were wealthy and idle, often doing only silly things to alleviate their boredom). I think that our lifestyles today foster more boredom than the lifestyles of a generation or two ago.  Today's gadgets I mentioned often lead us to believe that we must be entertained, connected, or interrupted at all times.

That reminds me: what about  those who have to shoot the breeze or text on cell phones while driving?  They can't wait until they get where they're going to catch up on the latest Facebook or Twitter posts, and heaven forbid that they'd have to stop somewhere in order to do so.  I've had a few close calls (no pun intended) from those cell talking and/or texting addicts!  Several states have outlawed texting while driving for safety reasons, since drivers doing such are definitely impaired.  I do concede that there are emergencies requiring phone usage while on the road--so pull over, for heaven's sake. Some drivers just keep on driving and are merely alleviating their boredom!  See how boredom can lead to injury, or even death??  No thanks--I value my life more than that myself.

As unintended by-products of alleviating boredom, our imaginations are shot, our creativity is blunted, and our mental acuity is diminished.  A case in point:  a store cashier trying to figure out a customer's change manually if the computers are down.   Most of the time, the person either has great difficulty accomplishing that task or simply cannot do it without help from a supervisor.  As a career educator, I know that students' attention spans have steadily gone downhill over the years.  Today, the ancient art of listening--or even taking notes while doing so--is just that:  a lost art.  Since fast-paced TV shows and movies are far more exciting with buildings exploding, steroid-saturated beings turning into futuristic vehicles, along with commercial breaks every few minutes--we are now programmed to require constant mental variety.

There's a story dating back to the Old West stagecoach days.  A gentleman comes out of the hotel in a small western town to catch the stagecoach bound for his next destination.  Upon being informed that the stage had already left and he had missed it, he matter-of-factly states:  "Well, I'll just catch the next one when it comes through next month."  NEXT MONTH?  I can't even wrap my mind around how boring it would be to wait that long, can you?

What can we do about boredom?  The way I see it, we have two choices:  (1) do something else, or (2)  succumb to it and just enjoy it.  The best antidote I've found for my boredom (which comes far less often than in my youth) is by "doing something else":  counting my blessings and thanking the Lord for them.

After all, I keep thinking about that horde of starved spiders, and mere boredom sounds so much better by comparison.

Friday, February 24, 2012

WRITING: WHAT PEOPLE THINK I DO vs. WHAT I REALLY DO

They've been all the rage on Facebook lately, these posters--

TEACHER: WHAT PEOPLE THINK I DO vs. WHAT I REALLY DO

ARIZONA (OREGON, THE BEACH, etc.): WHERE PEOPLE THINK I LIVE vs. WHERE I REALLY LIVE

I personally get a kick out of them.

Someone shared the poster below on Facebook, so I had to share it here, of course.  


I'm not quite down to the point of the last picture on it, however--truthfully, I would change the statement to say "Will write 4 fun."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WRITING SKILLS: DO YOU REALLY NEED THEM TO LAND A JOB?

Even completing that job application properly can often mean the difference between getting the job or not.  Many companies now include open-ended questions on their applications, even with entry-level positions.  For example:  "Tell us about any additional skills you have that have not been addressed in this application and how those can be useful to the position you are seeking."

Given any two applicants with similar skills, schooling, and experience, which of the two applicants below  is more likely to get to the interview phase of the hiring process?  Let's say both are seeking a receptionist position at a large company, and their answers to the question above are given below.


Job Applicant A:
"I enjoy talking to poeple, so my abality to interact with all types would be a a good thing for a recepionist.  I like to talk on the phone, help others, and know what's going on around here."

Job Applicant B:
"Your company offers an excellent opportunity regarding this position of receptionist, usually the first employee with whom visitors and guests will come in contact.  My outgoing nature and my ability to offer a friendly, yet professional welcome to visitors is a skill that is vital to your company's first impression with prospective business partners."

Of course, the interview phase is important as well, but one's WRITING skill can open that first door toward landing the job.  We are often judged (whether it is fair or not) by what we say and how we say it, what we write and how we word it, what we wear and how we wear it.

So yes, all of those things make up the entire package for the individual job seeker, but WRITING ability (or the lack thereof) is the first step.

"A" IS FOR . . . GRANDCHILDREN!

No, I haven't lost my mind--I know that the word "grandchildren" begins with a G.  To put your mind at rest regarding my mental acuity, each of their names begins with the letter A, and they are the light of our lives as grandparents.  Annika is seven, Alexa is six, and Asher will be two next month (already??).

All three of them have delightful personalities, and I enjoy being silly with them:  playing Barbies with the granddaughters while using funny voices (I usually attempt a foreign accent), or looking at picture books with Asher and purposely using the wrong names when pointing to animals.    For example, I'll point to a dog and say, "Look at that nice cow."  He loves to correct "Gamma."


They have a kitty named Aslan, so I suppose he qualifies to have his picture here as well:

Aslan was rescued by a neighbor's cat who brought him up to the house when he was only a few days old.  Nobody could determine where he came from, so our daughter Holly nursed him back to health.  He was dehydrated, covered with fleas, and tiny.

He's turned into quite a handsome red-point Siamese, don't you agree?  And he participates in everything that goes on around the house!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LEMONADE, ANYONE?

As a Christian, I love life's "lemonade," which is the gift God gives us when we trust Him--because those circumstances and events that produced it were revised by Him.   


Now just think about that for a moment:  life's lemonade to me means that when something negative or hurtful happens to me, if I trust God, He can turn it into something good in my life--is that what I'm saying?  Exactly!  The Bible puts it another way:  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." --Romans 8:28 NIV


A positive outlook is the key.  If I truly believe that God is in control (and I do), then I must also realize that NOTHING happens in my life without His express permission.  Nothing is a surprise to an omniscient, omnipresent God--He allows various people, events, and circumstances into my life for a reason.  Is God obligated to explain His reasons to us "down here"?  Of course not.  Just as parents do not explain things to a baby, we are often too young and immature in our faith to fathom His ways.  


As a Christian, life hands me lemons on a regular basis, but I desire to turn those difficulties over to Him, allowing Him to work them "for good." I can attest to the fact that He has always been there for me, realizing that sometimes hindsight is better than foresight--meaning that the reasons certain things happened the way they did become clear to me at a later time.


Therefore, I have two choices when life presents me with lemons:  (1) to turn against God, plunge into despair, and hold on to anger and sadness, or (2) to trust that God loves me, He is in control and will work things out for my good.  


I choose the latter, not because it is easy or that I can always do that immediately, but because He is worth trusting!

Monday, February 20, 2012

TEACHERS: WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Since I am a career educator, I found the poster below to be quite accurate.  Since "many a truth is said in jest," I really got a chuckle out of the statements below:


Teachers, I'd be interested in hearing your comments on the above.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

VERSATILE IMPRESSIONIST: THE TALENTED DACHSHUND

Caption this!
In this pic, Shadow our granddawg does his bat impression.  When our daughter Holly posted this picture on Facebook, I immediately had to share it here with blog readers.

Is he comical, or what??  Those of us who love our doxies know exactly what I mean, because these beloved dogs love a joke as much as the next person . . . er . . . dawg.

Now using his pen name SARGE in I AM SARGE and I AM DACHSHUND, Shadow is working on DACHSHUNDS FOREVER.  He's quite talented, as you can see :).




Caption this!
He also gave his version of  "the blonde bombshell" here when the granddaughters outfitted him with this flowing blonde wig.  However, he does look as if he's gonna let out a growl any second!









Caption this!
And finally, to show how tolerant and long-suffering he is, he permitted the granddaughters to place a bridal veil on him from their dress-up box.  Quite fetching, isn't he?

Never say that doxies, especially this one, are not good sports.

Readers, I invite you to share your captions of these pics in the comments section below this post.  Join in the fun!

Friday, February 17, 2012

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER, by ERMA BOMBECK

I always loved the down-to-earth writings of columnist and author Erma Bombeck.  She just had that "been there, done that" air about her writing, like she understood the annoyances, ups and downs, and pitfalls of life. 


IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER - by Erma Bombeck
(written after she found out she was dying from cancer)



I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.


I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.



I would have talked less and listened more.



I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SAY WHAT YOU MEAN, AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY!

Just a misplaced comma can totally change the meaning of the statement below the picture.

I've always been a big advocate of proper punctuation.  Problems arise when one does not adequately communicate; in fact, I submit that misunderstandings can (and do) arise in the workplace when reports and memos are punctuated incorrectly.

In my English classroom, I've always taught that certain punctuation marks can be considered as traffic signs.  If not used correctly, the driver (writer) might cause an accident (misunderstanding)!


COMMA = yield sign/slow down and look ahead - it often prevents misreading (see picture above)
Example:  He wants to eat, Grandma!  The baby is ready for his milk.

SEMICOLON or PERIOD = stop sign
Example:  Yesterday, I was tired; today, I am more rested.
-OR-
The rain came down heavily.  Cars began slowing down.

COLON = look ahead to see what's coming.
Example:  Three things I enjoy doing:  reading, writing, and laughing.

Well, you get the idea.  The old adage, "Say what you mean, and mean what you say," is applicable for using punctuation--make certain that what you write actually communicates what you mean.

Monday, February 13, 2012

VALENTINE'S DAY: THIS IS TRUE LOVE


Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, when hearts, love, flowers, and candy are prominent.  Those are all fine, even enjoyable, but for those who are searching for something more eternal and lasting, your free gift is waiting: 
believe Him, accept Him, and turn your life over to Him.  This post is not about embracing a religion, but accepting a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus.

And, just like any other gift, one cannot earn it, nor can one lose it, once an individual has accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior, thus receiving God's free gift of eternal life.  

"For it is by grace are you saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves; it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast."  Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.  I and the Father are one."  John 10:27-29 NIV




He is the way through which one can obtain eternal life:  "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."  John 14:6 NIV

I turned my life over to Him on December 9, 1975, and have never regretted it.  Have I had problems or difficulties in my life since that night?  Of course.  But the difference is that He is always with me, guiding and uplifting me.  I don't have to go through the valleys alone.  And I know that my eternity is secured, so I am not fearful of what tomorrow brings.  This fact puts everything "down here" in proper perspective:  "I don't know what the future holds, but I know WHO HOLDS THE FUTURE."

On this Valentine's Day, may yours be full of blessings and joy.

Friday, February 10, 2012

OLD PHOTOS PROMPT FORGOTTEN MEMORIES

Age 4, France
While rummaging through boxes in the basement, Clark brought up an envelope which contained some old family photos that had belonged to my aunt Irene (my mother's sister).  After her parents passed away, my cousin Kathy had sent them to my mom several years ago.

And there are others we found  in an envelope labeled with my name  after my mother moved to an assisted living facility.

Here are a few I'd like to share.




Thursday, February 9, 2012

TOCCOA FALLS, GEORGIA


We recently visited Holly, Philip, and the grandchildren in Georgia, and we went to Toccoa Falls.  Beautiful!  The waterfall is the tallest east of the Mississippi, at approximately 180 feet.  It is located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College.

As you can see, there were few people about on that late Friday afternoon, so we practically had the place to ourselves.  The granddaughters enjoyed climbing the large rocks around the park, while grandson Asher tried his best to throw some small pebbles into the water.  

VALENTINE'S DAY AND TRUE LOVE


With Valentine's Day approaching, we hear all this talk about love, Cupid, roses, chocolates, and teddy bears (there's nothing wrong with any of that, mind you!).  We all enjoy giving gifts to those we love.  But let us remind ourselves about true love, that eternal love that God exemplifies toward His children:


Now that is true love to emulate!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

ENGLISH IS A CRAZY LANGUAGE

I've always told my English students that I didn't create English grammar and usage rules:  I just teach them (or attempt to teach them) to those who often aren't too keen on learning them!  However, I submit that knowledge of grammar, usage, and writing skills is pretty important in just about every facet of life today.  

At the very least, filling out an application form without spelling and punctuation errors, for example, can often mean the difference between landing a job and continuing the search for a job. I have seen glaring mistakes in resumes and cover letters from those who should know better.  Perhaps a misspelled word does not have a bearing upon one's ability to perform a job, but in today's competitive job market climate, first impressions are still the name of the game.  If job seekers overlook spelling errors on their own letters and resumes, what else might they miss while on the job?  (I'm just being the devil's advocate here, thinking like an interviewer for filling positions--which I have been at times).

So, I'll readily concede that "English is a crazy language," but it behooves us to learn it and know it well.  After all, our language is the vehicle through which we communicate to the world out there.

How well are you doing so?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dachshund Books for Dog Lovers!

Dachshund Books for Dog Lovers!
Click on the BOOKS tab at the top of this blog

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