Anything is Possible!

With Faith, Hope and Perseverance


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A Quick Update: JoAnna of the Forest is Back!

 

Lantern hill trail (2)

I’ve been wanting some anonymity on my blog, so I’m returning to my blogging roots as joannaoftheforest. One reason for the change is that I’ve decided to publish my memoir under my maiden name to protect the privacy of several individuals. It might make marketing a little more complicated in other places, but it will give me more peace of mind. For updates on the book, you  can sign up for my monthly newsletter and/or like my Facebook author page via the side bar to the right.

I appreciate the loving support of my blogging family, and as joannaoftheforest, I’ll be able to let you know when my book comes out.


15 Comments

“Wait Is a Four Letter Word.”

When God says, “Wait,” we can control only two things: how we wait and who we become along the way.  __Elizabeth Laing Thompson

When God Says Wait

Enter for a chance to win a free copy by signing up for my monthly newsletter to the right >>>

It’s always something. If it’s not waiting for your soulmate, it’s waiting for your kids to become independent, or waiting to retire, or waiting for your manuscript to be ready for publication.

I’ve just started reading the book, When God Says Wait, by Elizabeth Thompson. It’s easy to read with well-fictionalized biblical stories, personal stories from the author, and simple exercises at the end of each chapter. I sure could’ve used this book 15 years ago when I was wondering if I’d ever fall in love again, if I’d ever find a partner who’d be a good fit. Still, the messages about “navigating life’s detours and delays” clearly relate to my life now.

Finishing the manuscript for Trust the Timing (see my Work in Progress page) has taken a lot longer than I ever imagined, though I’m getting closer every day. Fortunately, waiting to publish and not rushing have allowed me to work through questions about my own history and about how much of other people’s history to include.

This has been a struggle. Early in the writing process, I was encouraged to dig deeper and to show more scenes, which is fine if you’re writing fiction, and okay when it comes to my own baggage, but not so comfortable when it comes to other people’s baggage, or what I call OPB. Even with name changes and changes in identifying characteristics, there has been an uneasiness about exposing some OPB. Earlier drafts have more OPB, and I’ve deleted and softened quite a bit of that. Yet, there are some pieces of OPB that are important to the story. This is one of the big challenges of writing a memoir.

I’ve been praying hard for guidance every time open the manuscript document. It’s helped to ask this  question:

What does God want me to write?

Things often become clear when I ask that question, or some version of it, and then listen to my gut. God often talks to me through my gut. Sometimes God whispers in my ear. But I have to be quiet and open to get the message.

Waiting gives God time to work things out in us and others. Waiting gives us time to become who we are meant to be, to become ready for our heart’s desire. After all, that’s what my book is about. It seems to be my life-long lesson. And I’m learning, slowly but surely.

For a chance to win a free, signed copy of When God Says Wait, sign up for my monthly newsletter before March 21st by clicking the box on the side bar to the right, or just click here: http://eepurl.com/ch52KT

What are you waiting for?  What helps you wait?


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How To Learn a New Skill

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How long does it take to write a book? Apparently, it takes a long time, for me anyway. I’ve always been a slow reader, so I guess it makes sense I’d be a slow writer. But good things take time, right? I thought I knew how to write, and I did well on  college papers and in journalism. Creative writing is a whole different animal – with wings, and squawks, and smells, and feathers, so it must be a bird of a different color.

But how does one become a writer, or anything else?

PRACTICE.

Writing is a skill like any other. Some people may be naturally better at it than others, but with practice, we can improve at anything. I’m terrible and learning to tie knots and things mechanical, but that just means I need more practice at those things than the average person – if that’s how I want to spend my time.

I spent a lot of time as a substance abuse/mental health counselor, at least 30 years as you may know. Asking how something happened, like a relapse for example, was important. What was the chain of events, or thoughts, that led to the relapse? Many of my clients desperately wanted to stay clean, but didn’t know how. You can tell someone to stop doing drugs, or stop eating potato chips, or stop smoking, in all kinds of ways. But some people really need skills. Skills like self-soothing (without illegal drugs) and assertiveness, self-care, meditation and relaxation, going into a new support group, applying for a job, helping family members or friends understand why they don’t want to be part of the drama anymore, and accepting when they still don’t understand – just to name a few.

How long does it take to learn new skills?

It depends on how often we practice.

Changing thoughts is a skill. I can still get caught up in ruminating about things I should have done better, or worrying about how someone is going to react to my boundaries. It takes a conscious effort sometimes to pull my mind back to the present moment. Asking myself, “Why do I keep doing that?” doesn’t help as much as, “How can I stop doing that?”  Or better yet, How can I catch myself sooner and re-direct my thoughts?

Sometimes I use sticky notes to remind myself to be in the present, or think positive. Sometimes I ask God to help me stop thinking about something that isn’t doing me any good to think about. One of my favorite things to ask God is, “How do you want me to handle this?” Sometimes I get an answer, like, “love her,” like when my daughter was 13 and melting down. Or sometimes the answer is, “wait.” Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be an answer, but I know God is going to help me work it out somehow.

SOCS

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is the word, “how,” brought to us by Linda G. Hill at https://lindaghill.com/2017/02/24/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-2517/ who instructed us to “Start your post with the word “How.” Bonus points if you end with it too. Enjoy!

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


5 Comments

Be careful about…

I’m getting so many messages like this one, telling me to slow down the process of publishing my book. Another spoke loud and clear in a horoscope, in a magazine that I never read, except for one night last week when i just happened to pick it up. I’m being guided to look more closely at and revise some of the content in my memoir that I thought was finished, but it’s not, and having to learn patience on a whole new level. Trust the Timing is not just the title of my book. It’s my life lesson. Oh, boy. Another lesson. Thanks, God. I might roll my eyes. I might even stomp my foot. But I’m listening, cause I know who’s running this show.

Sacred Touches

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****Photo by Mandy Disher; text box added by Natalie; collage by Natalie

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Thank You!

SOCS

First, I want to say thank you to my followers, my supporters, my encouragers. This has been possibly the best year of my life. It’s certainly been a year of transition, and I’m grateful to have the support of so many people on WordPress and beyond. I’m grateful to be approaching 1000 WordPress followers! Officially: 927 WP followers and just over 1000 total blog followers.

When I first started blogging, I couldn’t imagine having 1000 followers, but one day at at time, one post at a a time adds up. It has been so fulfilling to grow here and get to know inspiring people – ordinary folks – I mean that in a good way – working through life’s challenges with grace and learning from each other. I appreciate each one of you, even if I don’t get over to visit as often as I’d like. You are part of my blogging support network, and I am grateful and honored to be part of this community.

2016 has been a year to remember. I took my first steps into retiring from my career as a counselor, and as the year ends, I’m ending the job of 30 years to pursue my creative dreams. And it is because of my first love who is also my last love and, as you probably know, I”m writing a book about that. Almost finished with the writing/revising part and getting ready to send it off to the line editor – one of the last steps in writing this particular book which I started about four years ago. Hard to believe I’ve been working on it so long, but I’ve heard of people taking longer, which is more than okay. It has become a labor of love.

I wish you all abundant blessings in 2017. May the stars shine upon you and may you dance with joy, rest in serenity, and sing your song. I look forward to a lasting, laughing, loving life of creating with you.

And now, my Stream of Consciousness brings us to this song which I dedicate to all those who are lonely. You never know what wonderful surprises are waiting around the corner.  In the mean time, love yourself well and know that you are deeply and profoundly loved by your creator, forever.

 

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt was: “first/last,” with instructions to use one or both words, or find words that mean the same. Bonus points if you start your post with “first/beginning/start” etc. and end with “last/end” etc. Enjoy!

The Saturday Stream of Consciousness is brought to you by Linda Hill at:

https://lindaghill.com/2016/12/30/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-3116

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

 


25 Comments

No NaNo for Me, but….

socsbadge2016-17

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve never done it, yet. But one year, I hope to – when I’m writing a novel. I know you don’t have to write a novel, but it is National Novel Writing Month. I’m sort of doing my own intense memoir-that-reads-like-a-novel fix up this month, which means I’m going through my memoir and looking for places to change some of my telling to showing.

It’s harder with a memoir, because I can’t just make stuff up like I could in a novel. But I’m learning to be more creative in adding scenes and dialog even if I don’t remember the exact words that were said, though sometimes I do.

I have been reading more novels lately. I’m a slow reader, but I recently finished Steele Secrets, a young adult novel about a girl who meets a ghost in a slave cemetery. It’s full of compassion and integrity and a great read for any teenager or young adult.

Right after finishing Steele Secrets, I read Linda’s book, All Good Stories. It was great to follow up an emotionally moving novel about saving a slave cemetery with something lighthearted and funny. Linda’s book is technically a novelette. It was fun and easy, but not too easy. Both books were important to read: Steele Secrets, because we need to honor the enslaved people who suffered and died in America, and All Good Stories, because we need fun and delight in our lives. We need balance.

My memoir does sort of read like a novel, I hope. I have work to do, and I’m sure I can set some goals to intensify my efforts. I imagine there’s more thinking going on in revising and editing than the speed writing of NaNoWriMo. I sort of envy all of you doing that. I bet it’s exhilarating. Hopefully next year, I’ll join you! Dang! I wish I could edit out those sort ofs, sort of. No, really.

Okay. I didn’t mean that NaNoWriMo writers are not thinking. But it’s a different kind of thinking. Maybe the characters are thinking for them, which would be cool. Am I in trouble? I worry too much. Sort of. 🙂 Better to stop now. The stream of consciousness is carrying me away.

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt: “novel” was brought to you by Linda G. Hill.

To find out more, visit Linda at:

https://lindaghill.com/2016/11/04/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-nov-516/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


20 Comments

The Day Water Delayed My WIP

socs-badge-2015

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is, “book.” Yesterday I was going to work on my book in the afternoon, because that’s my schedule. Wednesday and Fridays afternoons are for my WIP, my book. Wednesday and Friday mornings are for platform building and business related to my book. Which reminds me, what do you think of the new look here at
“Anything is Possible?” I didn’t want to make a static home page, because I don’t know if that will make it harder to find my blog posts. One step at a time. I did add a WIP page and a page for my art.

Anyway, I also went to the gym in between the business book work and the book work, and it was HOT out, so I decided to take a shower! I have an exclamation point there  because now, with my new schedule, I have the freedom and flexibility to take a shower whenever I want, almost. The problem came when I could not turn off the cold water! I tried and tried, but it still flowed out happily – more than a trickle but less than a gush.

blue waterfall

 

I called my husband who told me where the cut off was right in front of the house. Yes, I should know that. He said it was under the bucket just under the bedroom window. I pulled that bucket for a while before it came up. There was no turn off to be seen. Only bugs. Lots of bugs. I poked around a bit, but then recalled that there is also a shut off closer to the street. It took about five minutes to figure out how to lift the cover off the hole. I got my biggest trusty screw driver, after the shovel didn’t work, and lifted it. More bugs. Living in the south, in a humid environment, we have an abundance of large cockroaches. We call them water bugs. I don’t mind them as much when they’re outside….

I poked around and found the meter. The screw driver tapped something that might have been the turn off valve next to the meter. But there were lots of roots covering the whole shebang. I don’t usually use that word. I don’t think I’ve ever written the word, shebang. I don’t like the looks of it. Roots covered the whole apparatus.  I had to dig at them, but they were tough. I used my hands some which made me feel brave. I set my jaw the same way I used to when I was single and had to do this stuff myself most of the time. I had thought of calling my husband back and telling him I couldn’t find the dang turn off, but I decided to push through and not make him come home from work. After I got a plastic grocery bag to use as a glove (we only get them because they’re great for picking up after the dogs) things moved quicker. I saw the turn off valve! AND I had the turn off tool the plumber left with us which made it much easier to turn off.

Then I went to wash my nasty hands. But there was no water! Thank God, I had put a pot under the bathtub faucet before I started looking for the turn off. I had meant to save it for the dogs. But I’m so glad I could use it to wash my hands. So, I could finally get back to my book! Oh, the adventures of working from home.

If you’d like to get your feet wet in the Stream of Consciousness, visit Linda G. Hill at:

https://lindaghill.com/2016/06/03/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-416/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!