The Year in Review—2016

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For some years, there are no words.

Perhaps you can relate. Twenty-sixteen definitely has had its ups and downs with project losses and gains, illness in the family, graduations, etc. And at the end of the year, I find myself striving to write anything. This wordless state is a bit scary for me. I’d love to be in a fulsome state of writing right now. But some things can’t be forced, I guess.

One Christmas gift that inspires me is this (click on Christmas gift to find out more about this book):

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And this tea is insanely good!

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Early in the new year, I’ll do a giveaway of Christmas gift inspirations like the ones above. In the meantime, I hope 2017 is good to you. What are your hopes for the coming year?

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My new Jane Austen quote journal. We will spend lots of time together in the new year.

Barbie Made to Move™ photos and other photos by L. Marie.

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Take a Leap

Man LeapingEver been to a place with water so clear, you couldn’t wait to leap in? The Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios was such a place for me. As I contemplated what to write for Leap Day, I couldn’t help thinking of the waterfall there and how I leaped in. But this post isn’t about that trip, which happened several years ago, so don’t expect a travelogue or personal photos. 😀 But I’ll at least leave you with this one:

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Happy Leap Day! What a great day to post! After all, February 29 only comes around every four years!

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You’ve heard people talk about making a bucket list—places to go or things to do before you die. Ever thought about making a leap list? I think of this list as things to do to help you live the kind of life you’ve always wanted to live. Perhaps a bucket list and a leap list might seem to be the same thing. But so many people make a bucket list for the future. A leap list includes things you can do right now. You don’t have to make a long list. Just decide to do one thing.

Maybe you’ve been on the fence awhile. Could it be time for you to come off that fence? Maybe you could . . .

Become a fighter for a cause. My mom’s surgeon became a doctor to fight against breast cancer. But at some point, she had to make a commitment to do what was necessary to be an effective fighter (i.e., go to medical school). What cause will you champion? How far are you willing to go to fight for that cause? Think of a simple step you can take to start. When you engage in a fight, expect to get knocked down sometimes. The important thing is to get back up and keep fighting. What do you believe in so strongly that you’re willing to keep going toe to toe in a scrap?

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Take a leap of faith. This could be as simple as making the leap from doubt to belief. Or it might involve doing something you’ve been afraid of doing, because you were afraid to fail. I can’t help thinking about my friend, Jill Weatherholt (many of you know her), who took a leap of faith by entering a Blurb to Book contest. You can read her story here.
Kick a habit. You don’t need a pair of rain boots or fancy sneakers to kick a habit. You just need willingness and determination that this time, nothing will stand in the way of your success. Don’t let your doctor be the one to force you to do it!

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Forge a new relationship or renew an old one. Perhaps you have an acquaintance whom you’ve wanted to get to know better. Or, perhaps a relationship has been interrupted in some way. Are you willing to be intentional about building or rebuilding a relationship? Make a memory as my friend (and a friend to many of you), Andra Watkins, talks about on her blog.
Try something new. Choose something you’ve always wanted to try. Or, return to something you loved before. As for me, I’d like to return to my art roots and take an illustration class. I’m a bit rusty!

When you’re about to leap off a diving board, do you tend to look behind you? While there are some dives that require you to stand at the edge of the board with your back toward the pool, generally you face forward before leaping off. That’s what we need to do when taking a leap. Looking behind at past failures might be a detriment to taking a leap.

Of course, taking a leap doesn’t mean throwing common sense out of the window! I don’t know about your mom, by mine used to ask, “If all of your friends leaped off a bridge, would you leap off too?” as a caution against giving in to peer pressure. So facing forward still means looking before leaping!

By the way, Marie of 1WriteWay, get ready to leap! You have won The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye. Congrats! Please comment below to confirm.

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Leap Year image from prettylittleliars.alloyentertainment.com. Man leaping from thankingthespoon.com. Dunn’s River Falls from islandbuzzjamaica.com. Other photos by L. Marie.

2015: The Thing That Will Finally Leave

On Saturday Night Live in 1978, John Belushi participated in a horror movie trailer spoof with Jane Curtin and Bill Murray called “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave.” Christopher Lee hosted the show, so the spoof was appropriate, based on Lee’s earlier career. (Sorry about the video quality. If you show this video to your kids, you might have to field questions about the telephone Belushi dials and other items your kids might wonder about in this age of cell phones and song downloads.)

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience with an acquaintance or relative who wouldn’t take the hint to leave, but instead made excuses to linger and annoy. This sketch came to mind, however, as I thought about the close of 2015. If I could sum up this entire year, I would say it often seemed like the annoying thing that wouldn’t leave, thanks to its many challenges. So I’m delighted to finally see the backend of 2015. I wouldn’t care to repeat one day of it.

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Many people dear to me have had a hard year due to job loss, tornadoes, loved ones with cancer, health issues of their own, financial reversals, multiple rejections, and other disappointments. If you’ve read this blog this year, you know I can relate to all of those.

I know. I shouldn’t blame 2015 for the hard times I and others faced. Recently a friend sent a post to me that really hit home and caused me to see those hard times in a new light. If you have a minute, take a look at it. I won’t mind if you dash off to read it. Rachel, the writer of this post, makes a good point about the way trials test your resilience. Just as rough terrain tests the quality of a tire, you find out what you’re made of when life’s terrain grows rocky.

So many times I’ve felt like I was made of gelatin, thanks to my tendency to shake with fear or melt into a puddle when the heat was on. Yet by the grace of God I’m here still with dirt under my fingernails. And so are you.

Now I’m suddenly reminded of Metapod, a Pokémon with a skill called harden which always seemed useless to me whenever I played a Pokémon game. After all, it is a defensive skill, rather than offensive. Its skin hardens to help it defend against attacks. But now I see the usefulness of this skill. In the game of life, we could all use this skill to help us persist when the blows come. Yet, the temptation to grow harder in a cynical sense will beckon, however. We have to fight against that temptation in order to show compassion for those around us who are suffering.

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So, good-bye, 2015. You’ve taught me that when life is tough, I must be tougher.

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What has 2015 taught you?

“The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave” image from engineeringwellness.com. Year changing image from sageone.es. Metapod from memeaddicts.com.