What challenges would you like to tackle?

Inspiration to take big steps often comes from others.

When I was 51 years old, I screwed up my courage and left behind the title, the pay check, and the prestige of the corporate world to become a writer. Many things contributed to my ability to make this huge move, but among them was seeing others who’d been brave enough to take a chance and pursue their dreams. My experience is true for many. We take courage from – we’re inspired by – those who’ve gone before.

Today, I’m sharing books that  include the inspiring and encouraging stories of many writers. I’m honored to be among the writers included in these anthologies.

TYIG_Four_covers_11-25The Tending Your Inner Garden series includes four books of essays and poems contributed by many women writers.

According to editors Diane Glass and Deb Engle, “The voices of women across the country and globe speak of the joys and sorrows of everyday life, as well as those pivotal moments when life surprises us and prompts us to rethink our values and priorities.”

The writings in these books explore what women have learned from the four seasons:

  • Fall – The Season of Wisdom and Gratitude
  • Summer – The Season of Beauty and Resilience
  • Spring – The Season of Hope and New Beginnings
  • Winter – The Season of Rest and Renewal

The Tending Your Inner Garden books are available as a set or individually at the TYIG Book Store. and individually on Amazon.

My Gutsy Story AnthologyInspiration also comes from around the world through the My Gutsy Story Anthology. Editor Sonia Marsh told the story of her family’s gutsy adventure in a memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops. Since then she’s encouraged others to share their own gutsy stories. She’s collected the stories of 65 writers in the anthology she published this year. It’s available on Amazon.

According to Marsh, “What makes these stories unique is the authors’ willingness to openly share the obstacles they surmounted, and the strength they developed to overcome doubt, fear, rejection, and grief. These stories of love, courage, and adventure will inspire you to follow their lead and experience your own gutsy adventure.”

The approaching new year prompts many of us to consider where we are in our lives and what might be next. Those resolutions may go by the wayside because we think the task is too big or we can’t see how to do it.

If you or someone on your gift list could use inspiration to take that next big step, you just might find that encouragement in these books.

How does spring inspire you?

It’s fall and during fall we think of endings. The end of summer. The end of good weather. The end of vacations. So it’s with delight that I attended the launch of a new book that focuses on spring–a time when things are beginning.

Spring – Women’s Inspiration for the Season of Hope and New Beginnings is the second book in a four-book series edited by Debra Landwehr Engle and Diane Glass.

According to Glass, Spring speaks to the yearning within all of us for bringing new possibilities to life. In this new book, 36 writers share poems, essays and stories with their experiences and insights into dreaming of and preparing for growth, giving birth, and nourishing the tender new shoots of life.

Winter – Women’s Stories, Poems and Inspiration for the Season of Rest and Renewal launched the series earlier this year. Glass and Engle say the final two volumes featuring Summer and Fall will be published yet this year.

The four books share women’s diverse voices around themes central to Tending Your Inner Garden, a program of spiritual and creative growth that has guided hundreds of women internationally in finding meaning and purpose in life.

Here’s one essay from Spring, reprinted with permission from the author.

My Bucket List

By Pattie Flint

The springs in Seattle can be described by two words: unending rain. Only native Seattlites can brave this incessant drizzle without a feeling of a slow and painful drowning, but even grizzled Northwesterners can sometimes feel a little depressed when each new day brings rain without hope of summer. Often it drives us inside to the comfort of our couches and kitchens, and it was on such a dreary March evening that I plopped down in my my favorite armchair to watch “The Bucket List.”

Overall, I didn’t much find the movie that interesting. But afterward, in a spurt of aimless creativity, I decided to start my own bucket list. Never mind that I was only 20 years old, and it would hopefully be decades before I really had to worry about what I had accomplished in my life. It would probably also be decades before I had enough money/time to do any of the things on my bucket list anyway. To combat my boredom, I wrote down everything I could remember wanting to do. I stuffed the sheet of paper in my drawer and forgot about it.

Several weeks later I found myself pulling it out and really looking at all the things I wished I could do. I crossed out a couple of silly things and added several new entries. I posted it on my refrigerator door and marked some of the smaller, easier ones that I could work on right now. With a reminder posted where I could see it nearly every day, I was astounded to realize how much of my time I spent on menial, repetitious tasks when I could have been doing something better with my time.

I eventually gave away my TV because I spent too many rainy nights watching movies, and I cancelled my Facebook account. With a keen eye on my bucket list, I taught myself French and threw a tea party in my living room, complete with a Mad Hatter hat. I jumped into Lake Washington in the snow on New Year’s Day, and I kissed a man–a complete stranger–on the mouth when I saw him picking out a book I loved at a bookstore.

I can’t say why I wrote, “Kiss a complete stranger” on my bucket list, but he and I have been together since that day. He has added items to my list and helped me check others off.

I got over my fear of heights when I rock-climbed a mountain in Colorado at dawn. I forgave my father for abandoning our family. And while there are things on my bucket list I’m not sure I’ll ever accomplish, such as meeting the President, bungee jumping (okay, I lied–I didn’t completely get over my fear of heights) and flying to the moon, the list on my fridge is a constant reminder of how I should be living each day to its fullest and treating every action with ceremony. After all, someday when someone asks me what I wish I could have done with my life, I hope I’ll be able to answer, “I did everything I ever told myself I wanted to do.”

Except, maybe, make Seattle springs any less wet.

***

To get your copies:

Winter and Spring are both available through the Tending Your Inner Garden Bookstore. Winter is also available on Amazon and Spring soon will be.

Links:

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tending-Your-Inner-Garden/117449911667979
Twitter: @YourInnerGarden
Blog: http://tendingyourinnergarden.com/
GoldenTree Communications

Find Pattie on her website: http://pattieflint.weebly.com/ and follow her on Twitter @PattieFlint

Going visiting – Blog style

Would you like some coffee?

Most families in our farming neighborhood saw Sunday as a day for resting and visiting. A day of resting and visiting AFTER you milked the cows at 5 a.m., had breakfast, went to church, and ate Sunday dinner–and BEFORE you milked cows again that night. Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. there were a few hours for visiting.

The whole business of visiting is different these days. Particularly in the social media world. As I’ve made new friends in the worlds of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, I’ve watched authors go visiting blog style. Just like Sunday afternoon visits on the farm, blog visits are a chance to share the news, deepen existing friendships and make new friends.

There were a few ‘rules’ to Sunday afternoon visits: catch up on neighborhood news, enjoy the lunch that will always be served, and leave when it was time for chores. I don’t know all the rules of blog visits yet, but they seem to be about the same: chat about appropriate topics and don’t stay to long. The lunch part is left to readers bringing their own cup of coffee and a bagel.

I’ve hosted Diane Glass and Debra Engle, the authors of Winter, here and I’ve made a few visits myself. Each discussion has been different, reflecting the personalities of the blog hosts. Here are three blogs I’ve been invited to visit recently to share thoughts about writing my memoir.  I hope you’ll click on the links below, catch up on our discussions and share your thoughts.  There’s nothing bloggers like more than to have readers jump into the conversation.

Rachelle’s Window  Rachelle Ayala wrote MICHAL’S WINDOW, a look at the biblical story of King David from the perspective of David’s first wife Michal. As a lover of historical fiction, I find these kinds of stories fascinating because they take someone many people know well (King David) and show the events from the perspective of a lesser known character. Rachelle is true to the biblical story while weaving a fascinating tale told from a woman’s perspective. 

A.D. Trosper Audra Trosper raises goats and writes fantasy. How interesting a combination is that? I haven’t read her book EMBERS AT GALDRILENE (Dragon’s Call) yet, but how can I resist when I know the author understands the seriousness of milk fever in dairy cows and goats?

All Dressed Up J.P. Lane and I connected because of clothes. She’s an expert on historical clothing and I needed to know what men’s underwear was like in 1910. Just let it be said that men wore far more then than they do today. Joan recently released The Tangled Web, a story of international intrigue, murder and romance played out in New York, London, Prague, and a Caribbean island.

As society changes, so do things like Sunday afternoon visits. Blog visits are one way I’m keeping up with friends. How about you? What do you see as the new way to visit?

photo credit: Jasmic via photo pin cc

Is Winter your season of renewal?

We have a special treat today, an interview with Diane Glass and Debra Engle, founders of the Tending Your Inner Garden® workshops. Diane and Debra just published Winter, the first in a series of books that shares the stories and poems of women worldwide who’ve drawn inspiration from the seasons of the year. I have the honor of being one of the women sharing my writing in their book.

Diane and Debra are giving away five copies of their book this month on their website. Read on for details of the giveaway or click here and start now. Read an excerpt from Winter below.

Thanks for joining us, Diane and Debra. Tell us about yourselves and how you came to work together.
We’ve been friends and colleagues since the 1980s. But in the early 1990s we came together as women experiencing rapid change. One of us left a corporate job in the midst of breast cancer treatment. The other married, wrote a book and moved to a new home. We experienced all the stages of change and the challenges of making transitions. That led us to ask, “Do other women need support as their lives unfold in new ways?” Ten years of experience tells us, “Yes!”

What is Tending Your Inner Garden?
Tending Your Inner Garden brings together women looking for connection, community and conversation. We create a nurturing context in which women discover what brings aliveness and joy to their lives. They do this by tuning into their inner voice of wisdom and by connecting with the spirit that animates all of creation. This search for renewal often invites change. The seasons of the year—the new growth represented by spring, the rapid change of summer, the harvest and letting go of fall, and the rest and stillness of winter—provide a wonderful guide for making that change.

Why did you decide to publish books?
In our ten years of offering the Tending Your Inner Garden program, we’ve been struck by the power of women’s stories and how honest they are about their lives. As they’ve discovered more of their inner selves, they’ve shared their wisdom, triumphs, heartaches, courage, fears and joys. And so we thought it was time to publish books, letting more women’s voices be heard and extending the community as far as the books would take us.

As we sit here in the heat of summer, it feels odd to be thinking about winter. Why did you start with Winter?
Winter offers the gift of dormancy and solitude, both in short supply in today’s world. Too often we strive for continual productivity, at the expense of pausing, reflecting and discerning. This leads us to make decisions that reflect the priorities of the outside world, rather than the insights of our own hearts and souls. Although we think of spring as the time of new beginning, often that beginning starts with the period of rest and renewal offered by winter.

Who are the authors and how did you find them?
We posted a call for entries on our site, and then we used the connectivity of the Internet to help us spread the word. We posted it on Facebook, of course, and it ended up appearing on other people’s blogs and in writer’s groups in other countries. In some instances, we asked women specifically to submit, knowing the power of their writing and their story.

What do you hope for people who read these books?
We hope that women will see they’re not alone. The material covers so much ground—being a new mom, experiencing unexpected changes, understanding yourself better as you grow older, the value of friendship, etc.—that we’re guessing every reader will see herself somewhere in the book. For instance, Paula Sampson contributed a powerful piece on grieving the death of her son. For any woman who has lost a child, that essay will give solace and inspiration.

What are your plans for the other seasons?
We welcome submissions for all the other seasons. Our next book will feature the experience of Spring in women’s lives. That might include experiencing new growth emerging through the soil of their lives, cultivating a rich environment, or envisioning what they would like to grow. Women interested in sending us a poem, story or essay can find additional information here about guidelines for submission.

Thanks for joining us, Diane and Debra. I wish you the best through all the seasons!

Win a copy of Winter. Debra and Diane would like here how you’ve drawn inspiration from the seasons. Click here and share your story on their blog for a chance to win one of five copies they’re giving away this month.

About the Editors

Debra Engle and Diane Glass

Debra Engle is the author of Grace from the Garden: Changing the World One Garden at a Time and the owner of GoldenTree Communications, publisher of On Thundering Wings, Semi-Sweetness and Light and other books of artistry, new thought and inspiration.

Diane Glass serves as a spiritual director, working both with individuals and groups. She is a member of the staff of PrairieFire, a program of spiritual renewal and growth, at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.

Links:

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tending-Your-Inner-Garden/117449911667979
Twitter: @YourInnerGarden
Blog: http://tendingyourinnergarden.com/
GoldenTree Communications

Winter: Women’s Stories, Poems and Inspiration for the Season of Rest and Renewal is available from the editors at: Tending Your Inner Garden and on Amazon

An Excerpt from Winter

Courting Winter
By Angela Renkoski

SWF seeks wise mature man for solitude and contemplation. Must like long walks in the snow, heart-to-hearts by the fire, and enlightenment from silence. Best if able to tolerate, even appreciate, darkness and cold, and long nights and short days.

This would have been my personal newspaper ad in the years before online dating questionnaires—if I had known my true soul mate was closer to Old Man Winter than the more summery Adonises I set my eyes on. For too long I chased after the gorgeousness of spring’s lushness, the lust of summer’s bounty, and even the looming ache of fall’s harvest, and skittered away from winter’s, well, wintry, advances.

When I first faced that I might be in winter in my soul, it was early fall outside, my favorite time of year. But I was reaping nothing inside and couldn’t bear the thought that the frozen, barren picture I had of winter also described my inner world. The deeper fear was that this icy void I associated with the season would last forever—not an unreasonable fear in Iowa where I was living at the time.

After much howling at the wind in protest, I surrendered and could say without reservation, shame, regret, or fear: “I am in winter. And that’s OK.” Until then, I was more attuned outward to bright appearances and the opinions of others for happiness and security. These wilted, however, when met with adversity and were doomed to disappoint the more I depended on them, sacrificing the authenticity of Self.

Learning how nature works drew me to appreciate winter’s charms. When I looked about, I thought all was dead. Not so. Winter is the time when the trees put down new roots. In dormancy, plants and flowers prepare for new growth or suspend activity in wait for the more favorable warmth of sun and showers.

Braced with this knowledge, I peeked at and then contemplated the winter of my discontent. I came to see that it is in winter that my center is cultivated and strengthened. Like a hibernating bear, I had plenty to draw from and sustain me as I peacefully slowed down and rested in Spirit, content and less distracted by the outside world. It became a time of tremendous healing and recharging and a metaphor for seeing what was previously ignored or resisted in a new light.

In embracing winter, I also came to love previously dismissed and hidden parts of myself. Like a sled dog burrowing into the snow, I pulled within and curled around my soul, affording myself insulation from the dark and cold. I drew all the pieces of my past into my heart so it throbbed and glowed with life and love—an ember upon which I would fan the flames of growth in spring.

Now I court winter, looking for those times I am called to go within. And winter seduces me with the sensory pleasures of romance: candlelight, roses, and music that warms the soul. I take long walks in whatever snow is on the ground, hunker down next to fireplaces in coffeehouses and restaurants, and spend more time in the exquisite silence of the season.

Winter is not so distant and forbidding, nor so interminable. It is a time that begs for the space to encompass activities, thoughts and fears, a space that allows for new perspectives to breathe and stretch and put down roots in quiet and safety. Come hither, Winter. Come hither, Self.