Hallmark Countdown to Christmas Movie Review

The Mistletoe Secret

Kellie Pickler finds her small Utah town in a pickle this holiday season. Can a travel ghostwriter save the town and be her elusive Mistletoe Man?

Who are we kidding? We knew the answer to this question before the movie was written.

I give this one a 10/10 because Patrick Duffy of Dallas fame stars as Kellie’s widowed father and self-imposed matchmaker. He’s a geriatric snack! 😂🤣🤣🤣🤣

The Characters We Love

I have many characters in my life. Some are as real as me, breathing and living out loud before me. Others are characters I get to create as a writer. They live in my head and my heart, visiting me in my dreams or during waking hours if only for the mind’s eye. Real or created, I receive joy from these characters. They all have a structure that is interesting to observe, learn from, and love. You must be willing to let your guard down and let them in.

Recently at work, I took the DiSC personality assessment. We did this as part of a retreat for the entire company. I am always resistant to being assigned a number, a color, a letter, or other designations with these tools, afraid I will be painted as something I’m not…or as something I am and would prefer not to be. That did not happen with this assessment though. Even though I was assigned a letter, two in fact (Si), I found myself in an open environment with caring people who simply wanted to understand each better as “characters” in a live-action play called Career. We let each other in! Technology increasingly widens our doorway, too.

How lucky are we to live in a time where the world has become smaller through technological advances, and we get exposed to more characters daily? We are also more mobile for work and pleasure, meeting characters at greater distances and then staying connected via social media. This post is not about the drawbacks of a smaller, more connected world. I’m an optimist. I’ll take the best of it and try to avoid participation in the worst (e.g. trolling). Maybe some version of these new characters will make it into what I write, lovingly and as a testament to their unique attributes. We are all characters, in the end, leaving behind a story. I’m making mine, real or imagined, good ones.

On Writing

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Two weeks ago, after a two year absence from fiction writing, I decided it was time to try again. My head and heart are clear after a renovation of my body. I know how to make things work realistically in my busy life. Most importantly, I’ve carried a new story around for that long in my head, and it was time to let it out.

I will write on weekend mornings to work around my running, work, and people schedules. I have no expectations for what this book will become. I simply want to enjoy the process. There is a wisdom that comes with age. I did not believe it until I found myself at more advanced ages. I am smarter without the arrogance of youth. I hope this will come out in what I write.

Writing is about creating, and creating is fun. Somewhere along the way I forgot this. I’ve missed it. I’m happy to return. This time away has been a reminder not to forget why you do things in the first place: love.

 

Late is the New Early: Better Late than Never to Learn Music

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ACDC Thunderstruck Tab from electric guitar lesson this past Saturday and a guitar aerobics book I love.

 

I was just pondering on this snowy Sunday evening regarding my “late” start to  musical pursuits. I use the word late because this is what I heard many times over when I picked up my banjo and made my way down the bluegrass trail one year ago. It almost made me put the banjo back on a peg. I had people telling me children have a much easier time learning. I had others say it did not seem worthwhile if I could not do something with it. I am happy to say I was wise enough to employ a filter which has come with wisdom. And here is what my filter said…

Late is something you are when somebody assigns a time to an activity, and you arrive beyond this time. In my lifetime so far, I was late for parties (we could debate whether you are supposed to show on time). I was late for work. I was late for my period, and we all know where that led! I could not be late for my return to music-making because I was in charge of the arrival time. I own my time now more than ever, and I have assigned a sizable portion to learning music.

On the matter of children learning music more quickly, there is science to back the amazing capacity of a child’s mind to learn. I have a lot of noise in my life, and I have for sure altered my brain chemistry on occasion whether with medicine or a youthful & free night out. My brain still has amazing capacity though, and when I exercise it with music or reading or writing, I can feel it gain power. Our brains can still exercise as adults. Also, I would argue most of us have developed more discipline and passion for pursuing art and other challenging and/or relaxing activities. Finally, I find not having to balance intense schooling with other learning frees up brain waves for music.

On the final topic of what I will do with my music, I have little patience for this discussion. I learn and play music for the love of it. No matter what age you are and what you are pursing, if you are not starting from a place of love and passion, you are not giving your true self to the opportunity. The only goal I have right now is to love what I am doing and learn to do it well.

Late is the new early in my date book. I do not waste time thinking about why I did not start earlier or where I am going with music. I just pick up my instruments every day and learn to play better than I did the day before.

I want to leave you with three practical tips if you are down the same path, even further along than me, or if you are pondering a pursuit of passion on this very day:

  • Make sure you find time for the pursuit daily, even if for a few minutes,
  • Be rigid about practice time, giving what you can and maintaining focus during practice,
  • Find all resources (people, books, online) to help you learn more quickly, and
  • Tell your friends, family, and colleagues you would like their support, and what you are doing is important to your happiness.

Good luck. Shred it. Roll it. Pluck it. Play it. Do it.

Nice article to read:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/06/playing-an-instrument_n_4903835.html

 

 

 

The Novelist Musician

I have been a writer since I was a little girl. From plays to songs to poems to books, it was my favorite thing to do. In fact, I make a living from it today. I also had a passion for music though, and at one point, I found enough time to take piano lessons. There were not enough hours in the day for me to pursue both artistic paths to the level I wanted, so I kept writing through undergrad and two advanced degrees, and the piano became decoration until it was sold. I was still an avid music listener and concert attendee, and no moments passed where I was not exploring music in all of its forms. I just did not make it myself. Don’t lament! Let’s fast forward to one year ago.

I found myself finally landing in the career I wanted in January of 2014 after a disappointing (actually, downright terrible) fall. It had the right mix of challenge, writing, and life balance. I could breath. I was happy. Inside of me the desire to make music rested waiting for a spark and was no longer impeded by stress, lack of time, and sadness.

The spark was a simple visit to a local music store to browse. A banjo caught my eye. I don’t know why. They say instruments find you, and this one jumped off the peg into my arms. Of all forms of music, country and bluegrass were not forms I frequented on playlists or through purchases. I did sweet Jesus knows what with the banjo as I had nary a clue on how to play it, and it still made a beautiful, joyous sound. I went home, did some research, discovered Earl Scruggs and old school bluegrass. I also discovered the key of sweet, sweet open G. I bought a banjo and started lessons in February of 2014. I chose to learn Scruggs style which I will discuss more in a future post and became a bluegrass mama.

When I had about seven months of banjo under my belt, it did not take long for the guitar bug to bite me. I was crazy for strings, and I wanted to explore another instrument with a different range of sound. After much research and testing, I bought a Fender Telecaster with dual humbuckers and began electric lessons with my banjo instructor, who I am convinced could make a cardboard box with strings sound good.

This brings me to yesterday. I went to my first classical guitar lesson after receiving a Cordoba C5 nylon string guitar for Christmas. That’s right. I’m taking banjo, electric guitar, and classical guitar lessons. I practice all three every day, rain or shine, happy or sad, healthy or sick, calm or chaotic, and I take lessons twice a week. And, I am still writing novels with a plan to put the final polish on my current manuscript and find an agent in  2016.

I have risen to a level of dedication, study, and hard work where I am comfortable calling myself a novelist musician.  I plan to keep sharing the story of my journey here so I can marry my passions in one small place in the digital world. I will also share tips and resources for anyone looking to explore similar passions. I’m going to be honest about both my achievements and my opportunities for improvement (we won’t use the word failure here). I can be pretty damn funny at times, and I hope to meet some new people of all skill levels in these two wonderful realms of my life.

My ultimate goal is to convince people sitting on the fence regarding their passions to pursue them with vigor. I’m not the most talented novelist musician. I have a truck ton of passion though. I hope it lights your fire.