Friday, January 8, 2010

"What If...?" Challenge: How Was Your First Week?

We are one full week into Year 2010, so it's time for a progress update on the "What If...?" challenge. As with any new venture, there is a lot of excitement in the beginning, and perhaps that's partly why this has been such a good week. Whatever the reason--adrenaline, commitment, a favorable alignment of the planets, or the grace of God--it has been very encouraging. Often, it's just little things that mean the most. This week I have been thankful for, or glad about, the following:

1/1 -- being able to enjoy on TV the full two-hour broadcast of the Tournament of Roses Parade after missing it the past several years;
1/2 -- that my NaNoWriMo writing buddy wants to continue being writing buddies throughout the year;
1/3 -- that my daughter and son-in-law made it safely home through the storm that dumped over 3 feet of snow on us today;
1/4 -- for our wonderful maintenance crew who worked tirelessly to shovel us out; that my daughter was able to retain a snow removal service for my mom's property--huge relief;
1/5 -- for Eagle Brand replying so quickly to my inquiry asking if None Such Mincemeat was gluten-free: it is! Also, for calls from my son and one of my daughters; that four more people are virtually fostering dogs through Save A Dog on Facebook ( in response to my invitation to join me in sponsoring; and for delicious, frozen gluten-free meals for when I'm just not up to cooking;
1/6 -- that the items I'd ordered for friends came today so I could wrap them (the items, not the friends) and send them on their way;
1/7 -- that I was able to get my hair cut, and that another writer has agreed to do a guest post on my blog when his new book is released in the spring.

As for my goals for this year, I have broken them down into doable steps for each month, week, and day. My major goals for January are to (1) begin revisions on my WIP (work in progress)--started on 1/4, (2) declutter one day a week--started on 1/7, (3) join two off-line writers' groups--not yet, (4) mail package off to brother and sister-in-law--not yet (different from package mentioned above).

So, how was YOUR first week? Did you devise a workable plan to achieve your goals or resolutions? Were you able to find at least one thing each day for which to be grateful? If you struggled with either or both of these, how can we support you in getting back on track? Post your goals, gratitude list, or struggles in the "Comments" section.

For help in setting realistic goals, check out these resources: -- Mary Jane Ryan--life coach, change expert, speaker, and author of such books as Adaptability: How to Survive Change You Didn't Ask For; This Year I Will; Happiness Makeover; and Attitudes of Gratitude. -- Explains how to use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to set achievable goals. -- List of articles with tips for keeping New Year resolutions.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Suzanne Beecher: Living in Mayberry

Since writing my New Year's post and embarking on the "What If...?" challenge--to find at least one thing each day for which to be thankful, and trying to focus on the positive this year--it seems I keep coming across articles, blog posts, and quotes by others who are sharing the same or a similar message. Suzanne Beecher's "Dear Reader" column for January 6, 2010, is just one example and, with her permission, I'm reprinting it below. First, however, I'd like to take a minute to introduce you to Suzanne and the book clubs.

Suzanne has owned a restaurant, founded and published a business magazine, founded a non-profit program to feed the homeless, and home-schooled her youngest son. In addition to writing her daily column at, she designs book clubs for publishers, book sellers, and libraries across the country. Her book Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy--if disorderly---Life debuts in June of 2010 (Touchstone).

When you sign up for one of her various genre book clubs, you will receive an e-mail on Monday through Friday with a portion from a book that will take about five minutes to read--just the thing to go with a cup of coffee to start your day, or as a mid-day break. By the end of the week, you'll know whether or not you want to add that book to your "To Read" list. Suzanne also has many contests and give-aways for her readers. Reading her column is like receiving a note from a dear friend, and her sense of humor will have you smiling even if you've been having a bad day. So, I'd like to invite you to sign up and read along with her and 375,000 other people (including me) every day at her online book clubs at And now, Suzanne...

Dear Reader,

I do my best writing when I'm living in Mayberry. Yes, I live in Sarasota, Florida, but in my mind I spend a lot of time sitting on the front porch of my house in Mayberry, three streets over from the courthouse where Andy and Barney are keeping the peace. I make different choices since I've taken up residence in Mayberry. Life is more fun in the slow lane and I rarely watch anything violent, which includes the evening news. Murders, children being abducted, cruelty to animals, folks just being downright nasty to each other, I realize these things go on every day; but watching them being replayed hundreds of times on television, or reading about them day after day, wouldn't help the victims or do anything good for my life, either.

The folks in Mayberry have problems, but they try to find gracious ways of solving them and they're polite even when someone deserves less. Not being born and raised in Mayberry, I'm far from being a model citizen. I try my best, but sometimes I still lose my temper and have to chase nasty thoughts out of my mind. But I've discovered that spending time in Mayberry, surrounded by people who try their best to live a good life, it's rubbing off on me and I like how I feel.

Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.

Suzanne Beecher
My blog:
Book clubs:
"A Friend to Readers and Libraries"

If you'd like to help promote the book clubs, here is a link to flyers Suzanne has put together. If you could print off a few and hand them out, she would appreciate it.

["Dear Reader" column reprinted by permission.]