Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Journaling with guest blogger Lynn Goodwin

One of my favorite writing genres is journaling. I've kept a journal or diary since the fifth grade, sometimes rather sporadically, but the desire to record my thoughts and work them out on paper has always been there. So, imagine how thrilled I am to have a guest writer on my blog today, who wrote a book about journaling!

Lynn Goodwin is the managing editor for Writer Advice, an e-zine for writers that is chock-full of good information. She is the author of You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers, a journaling book with over 200 prompts to get you started. We're all caregivers in one sense or another, whether it be a full time situation for a loved one, a paid job, or in our roles as mothers, wives, and friends.

Without further ado, I'd like to welcome Lynn to Over the Backyard Fence and say 'thank you' for being here. (Look for a drawing for Lynn's book, at the end of this post!!)


Journaling Helps by B. Lynn Goodwin

How can journaling help? If you are like most women, you are a caregiver to spouse, kids, and maybe your parents and siblings. You spend time carpooling kids to school and dental appointments, making sandwiches, answering questions, paying bills, cooking dinner, entertaining, and if you are caring for parents as well as your immediate family your work load increases exponentially.

Why write about it? Journaling allows you to vent, process, explore, discover, and rejoice. It offers a safe place to explore, express yourself, dig deeper, analyze, and discover truths. It gives you the "me time" that keeps you whole. It creates a record of the story that only you can tell.

Over the past ten years my journals have been:
A record
A place to spew
A place to delve and see where the pen takes me
A place to hone my thoughts
A place to sharpen my craft, and figure out what I really mean to say
A place to make discoveries
A place to find story ideas
A place to find resolution or the next step on my journey
A place to make lists and cross off what I accomplish
A place to look back on what was once important and gain perspective
A place to record my reflections

I write my journals in longhand. I like the smooth flow of a pen on paper. I like the progress of moving from left to right, line after line, traveling down one page and on to the next. The rhythm of longhand soothes me.

In addition to the fact that university studies have shown that writing saves lives, here are a few other reasons to journal:
I write to share
I write to pull out secrets locked in place in my brain
I write to see what happens if I release my private truths
I write to move to a new level of comprehension or analysis
I write to tweak life and imagine happy endings
I write to tweak life and imagine worst-case scenarios
I write gratitude lists to feel better

What are your reasons for journaling? What do you journal about?

Though it does not always seem like it, journals have the power to pull you off the hamster wheel of obsession and into action. They are a safe place to heal. Healing does not wipe out old problems or past actions. It washes over them, helping you cope, change your attitude, and move forward.

Heal your spirit by writing in journal.

B. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice, and the author of You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers, which contains encouragement, instructions, and over 200 sentence starts to help you journal any time, even if writer's block rises up like a granite wall in front of you.
To enter my drawing for a free copy of Lynn's book, leave a comment below, and answer the question, "Are you a journaler?" (If not, maybe now is a good time to start!) You don't have to have a blog to enter. Just be sure to send me an email telling me how to contact you, in the event that you win.
Edited to add: Obviously I'm new at this give-away stuff. Have your comment posted by Friday, January 29, 8:00 p.m. MST to enter.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Loose ends

I've spent most of the day wrapping up loose ends and getting things in order before I leave town tomorrow. Lots to do in getting myself packed and getting caught up on household stuff before I leave. I've learned not to do too much planning as far as menus and such -- if I leave enough food they'll figure something out, and chances are they'll want to do their own thing anyway.

I'm going with a couple of girlfriends to Albuquerque for a spiritual retreat led by Father Richard Rohr. Fr. Rohr's teachings have played a significant part in my spiritual journey of the past year. He is a Franciscan friar and ordained Catholic priest, as well as the founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. I first met Fr. Rohr last May when he was in Denver. His writings and talks focus on a number of issues including the integration of action and contemplation, peace and social justice issues, and eco-spirituality. I'm looking forward to a weekend of listening, learning, quiet contemplation and sharing. And quiet. Did I mention the quiet?

Oh, so for the loose ends. Several people asked in the comments or by e-mail if Em and I enjoyed the movie Avatar the other day. The evening before we saw it, it won best picture?, I believe at the Golden Globe Awards. I need to qualify my critique by saying that I'm not a movie buff, which will become quite evident in just a few seconds. I love a good story, in any form, be it a book, play, movie, t.v. show. For me, the thing is the story and it isn't that I have no interest in cinematography, but I'm just not a good person to critique it. Having said that, I was at first mesmerized by the creativity of the movie -- the way the characters were physically formed and all the amazing animals and 'beings.' But, after a while the battle scenes dragged on way too long. The whole movie was, to me, a marriage of Dances With Wolves and Star Wars. The hostile takeover of a group of peaceful, native people, blended with sci-fi creatures and warfare. In fact, don't hate me, but Em felt the same way ("You know how it's going to end,") and we left early (blush.)

Ending on a silly note here. (Pamela, you will appreciate this;) We're actually getting a new puppy in a couple weeks. . . yeah, yeah, I know. More on that later. So for the past few weeks we've been mulling over possible names. First, you should know that our dog Abby is an absolute cookie fanatic. She loves her dog biscuits, and the quickest way to get her attention is to say, "Wanna cookie?" or even just, "Cookie." So, my eldest son, with his twisted sense of humor, suggested we really 'play with Abby's head' and name the new puppy, Cookie. How mean is that?! (I can't stop laughing, what a picture).

Okay, sorry for the discombobulated post. I have to get up at the crack of dawn, I'm fighting a head cold and I need to go to sleep. Catch up with you all on Tuesday;)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday, Monday

FOR TODAY, January 18th, 2009 ...

Outside My Window...
A bit of a gray day. The sun is out, but the light is diffused by clouds and the heavy winter air. There are still patches of snow on the ground and the temperatures are chilly.

I am thinking...About the people of Haiti and what it would be like to have my world turned upside down like theirs has been.

From the kitchen... Burritos.

I am wearing...jeans, black shirt and my new favorite long sweater vest.

I am creating... some things in my sewing room. Just playing with fabric, making aprons.

I am going... to a movie ("Avatar") with my daughter this afternoon.

I am reading...finishing up Dragon House by John Shors. It's an excellent book, can't wait to tell you all about it.

I am hoping...that I can stay caught up with work. I worked long and hard last week, and if I stick to my plan, it should stay manageable.

I am thankful . . . that things are not always as bad as they seem.

I am hearing... the t.v. in the other room.

Around the are off school today, they are in and out with friends, so the house is feeling very busy and very lived in.

Some of my favorite things..."dangly" earrings, freshly brewed coffee, Pentel RSVP fine point pens, movie popcorn.

A few plans for the rest of the week...get my hair highlighted, book club, leave for Albuquerque on Friday for a retreat!

Here is a picture thought I am of our favorite holiday traditions is to have a jigsaw puzzle to work on the dining room table. It would be fun to do all the time, but I have absolutely no self discipline and can't keep myself away.
For more Daybooks, see Peggy over here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A bit of housekeeping

I've been out of the blogging groove this past week, and I need to do a bit of tidying up now that I'm back. I know it looks rather stark around here, without a photo in the header. Sometimes, I like it that way, it gives me a clean slate. When the spirit moves me, I'll put up something new.

Some fun things to share! In the past few weeks I've been the lucky recipient of not one, not two, but three blogging giveaways! (blush) It's kind of embarrassing, but at the same time thrilling, like going to a shower and cleaning up on all the game prizes. But, I promise I'll make it up to you all and will be having a little surprise giveaway of my own soon. And, no, it's not another diet book;)

Speaking of which, Susan was the lucky recipient of The One Day Way drawing. She doesn't have a blog, but sent me an email, as she's a regular reader of this blog. So, congrats to Susan!

And now, wait'll you see the goodies that came in the mail last week. Melinda at Country Dreaming is a Kansas City girl and we've kinda bonded because my DH is from KC and I happen to love the place. We spent a few days there this summer on our Great American Road Trip. Melinda had a giveaway of Kansas City memorabilia and I won! Take a peek at all the neat stuff . . .
An array of postcards including some of our favorite KC places and stadiums:), lots of chocolate (KC inspired), BBQ sauce (KC is king), KC roasterie coffee (my personal favorite), a pen, a note card, magnet, and a thimble which will go nicely in my sewing room. Thank you, Melinda, you're a real sweetheart:)

The other two packages arrived before Christmas, so yeah, I'm really late in acknowledging these. The first is a book from Katrina's Fall Reading Challenge at Callapidder Days. It's the third in a series, so I'm holding on to it as I've read the first book and need to read the second.
Another book that I was very happy to win is You Want Me to do What? Journaling for Caregivers, by B. Lynn Goodwin. I highly recommend it for anyone who is in a caregiving situation, whether it be professional or volunteer or for a family member. The book is filled with journaling prompts to help the reader begin writing and to discover how to care for themselves. I'm donating the book to our church library for our collection of books for caregivers.

Now, I'm going to do a bit of housekeeping in my house! I'll be back soon. Promise;)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Blogging for Books

When The One-Day Way by Chantel Hobbs was offered by Blogging for Books, I was tempted to pass on it, thinking it was just another diet book. But it was November and I figured by the time the book arrived in the mail, I would probably be ready for something new, in light of my annual resolution to get my act together and lose some weight.

The mechanics of Hobbs' diet plan is what we all know. It's a matter of what you eat and how much you burn off. What makes this book different is her approach to dieting, mainly by taking it one day at a time. It's refreshingly simple and reminds me of the question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer is "one bite at a time." You choose to be successful by focusing on daily successes and small steps.

She's no nonsense when she insists that you follow the three components for success: Food, Fitness and Faith. The faith component is not necessarily religious faith, but the idea of believing in something and living it. This is where she gets into your head, which is where the problem lies for most of us.

I like that her fitness routines are things you can do right at home The success stories that are highlighted throughout the book are inspirational.

I have an extra copy of this book to give away. If you're interested, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail at the address in my profile by Monday, January 11 at 6:00 mountain time.

The author of Never Say Diet and The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer, Chantel Hobbs is a motivational speaker, life coach, personal trainer, marathon runner, wife, and mother of four whose story has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, the 700 Club, and the covers of People and First magazines. She appears weekly on two fitness-themed radio programs and promotes her One-Day Way Learning System on television. Visit Chantel at for fitness updates and coaching tips.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Story of My Life, Part 1

Thirty-four years ago, I was 18, in my senior year of high school, and looking forward to starting college at the University of Northern Colorado in the fall. It was one of those perfect times in my life. Senior year in high school, surrounded by a group of good friends, and the promise of freedom in just a few short months.

I knew exactly what I wanted to study in college. Nursing. I knew this was what I wanted to be because my best friend, Kathy, was going to be a nurse, too. And we were going to get our RN's, then move to Boston where I imagined we would live in a Mary-Tyler-Moore-style apartment by the ocean. I also knew I wanted to be a nurse because I had read the entire Cherry Ames series growing up. The only thing left to decide was, would I be Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse? Cherry Ames, Visiting Nurse? Cherry Ames, Cruise Nurse; or Cherry Ames, Department Store Nurse? (Deparment Store Nurse?) I knew that given we were living in Boston Cherry Ames, Country Doctor's Nurse was out.

In the first two years, I studied my way through three levels of Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology and Pharmacology. I can't say that I loved science, but I did love going to class and living the life of a student. All the while, looking forward to the day I could wear the pale blue student nurse uniform along with our school's nursing cap, white stockings and white shoes. And a stethoscope around my neck. It was all about the accessories.

There were clues along the way, that perhaps I wasn't cut out for this. The guys that lived in our dorm thought that since my roomate and I were nursing students, that qualified us to pierce their ears, since we knew sterile technique. Mary always handled the needle and cork, and I held the alcohol and cotton balls. And found myself looking the other way at the moment the needle penetrated the earlobe. I also found that during pharmacology lab, while the other students were fighting over who would get to "stick" the rat with a needle, I was happy to just keep a tight grip on the rat and hold him while he got poked, a job no one wanted because the critters were apt to bite.

It finally became clear to me, on the day I was required to give my first shot, that all the white shoes and crisp, starched caps in the world, were not going make the hospital odors and jabbing people with sharp objects any easier. And besides, sick people could be so cranky! Not like rats, who never complained. So, much to Kathy's dismay, since it meant we would have to put our Boston dreams on hold, I gave up nursing.

But I wouldn't give up college. . .

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I'm days behind in writing a new year's post, but the truth of the matter is I'm suffering from a serious lack of motivation. In so many ways. Not a good time to be uninspired, this time of new beginnings and new goals. If you're looking for encouragement, stop reading now.

Perhaps it's serious after-Christmas meltdown. Ya think? The decorations are taken down and tucked away. All sorted and organized, in a new storage area that we've set aside just for Christmas. To do so, we pulled all the luggage, assorted curtain rods, old baby gates and empty boxes out of a basement closet. Now, it's filled in a most orderly fashion with Christmas boxes neatly labeled and stacked.

And then, I just stopped. My days have been consumed with chipping away at the mountain of laundry that mysteriously accumulated over the the two days I took a break at Christmas. I sit down at my desk to catch up on a bit of work, and before I know it, hours have passed, and I emerge feeling good about the work I've accomplished, but the laundry pile has grown even higher, the dog has shed another pound of fur on the carpet and I haven't a plan for dinner.

Did I mention the kids haven't gone back to school yet? Whose brilliant idea was it to send them back midweek? They've been sleeping in until 11:00, then get up and take over the t.v. for a while. Then, the younger two will go over to the rec center to play basketball, so I think, great I have a couple hours to get something done. But before I know it, they're back. They find their own entertainment, so I can't even blame them for being a distraction. But I know they're there. And I have to work and they don't. Tomorrow, they're back in school. So technically, we're still in vacation mode.

So, I'm declaring January 6th as officially New Year's Day.

Happy New Year:)