Thursday, February 28, 2013

What's Going On Here?

Have you been wondering? First I take a long bloggy break for the month of January. Then I return for a week only to disappear the next week. Then I come back again and don't even post an interview on Wednesday. Now here I am throwing in a Thursday post. What the heck?

Maybe you're not wondering at all and you're reading this thinking... whatever. Wonderstruck me already.

Hmm... "wonderstruck" doesn't verb as well as I'd hoped.

Anyway, let explain. You probably already know about the January bloggy break. Last week's break was just me feeling brain dead and drained for energy thanks to what my doctor called "more than cold," which apparently means cold on its way to sinus infection and bronchitis. Between being sick and being on cold meds, I could barely stand up for 5 minutes, let alone form a mildly brilliant sentence. (And yes, I'm feeling mostly better now.)

As for today's interview... well, I'm a procrastinator. You may as well know that now. And I procrastinated on entering the interview until last night. And then again until this morning. Then I decided that wasn't fair to the interviewee to spring on them, "Hey, you're interview is up... right now!"

I have a couple interviews awaiting entry, so next week should be back on schedule if I can keep my procrastination in check.

Side note: I'm looking for wonderstruck interviewees. No special skills or job experience necessary. You just have to write your answers to a few questions. You can find those questions and instructions here. If you have a kid who wants to participate, that's awesome! Those instructions are in there, too. Email me. Seriously! This means you.

Also, I'm trying something new on my Facebook page: I'm using a deck of cards called The Answer is Simple by Sonia Choquette to give us all a little something to reflect on each day. I call it the Card of the Day. Check it out and let me know what you think. Be sure to "Like" my Facebook page (if you haven't already) to get the daily card and other updates. You can click "Like" in the right sidebar on my blog. Easy.

As for my writing schedule, I'm still sort of sticking with Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but I've also thrown in a random other day here and there. I like to keep people on their toes. I'm deciding what works best for me right now, so the schedule may be in flux. It will probably even out soon.

So that's what's going on here. What's going on with you?


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The iPhone Update That Wouldn't End

I spent a good part of yesterday trying to update my iPhone 4. There was a system update that I hadn't been able to get for a while because it required 2.5 GB of free space and I only had 500 MB.

To make space, I deleted apps I don't use, which got me to 1.2 GB of free space. I had recently cleared most of the photos off my phone, but still have a bunch of videos. There wasn't a quick, easy way to move those, so instead I opted for temporarily ditching my music.

I synced the phone to my computer telling it not to sync the music, then waited. The syncing process took a full half hour, mostly during the backup phase. (Why so long?) When it was finally finished, I unhooked the phone and set it to pull the system update.

Another half hour ticked away while it downloaded the update, installed it, restarted and whatever the heck else it was doing. I used that time to create a new playlist on my computer for music I wanted to put back on my phone.

Once the update was finished, I hooked the phone back up to the computer to sync again with the new music playlist. Fortunately the sync was only a few minutes this time around.

It finished, I rejoiced, and looked at my phone to discover that some of the apps I had deleted earlier were back. Not all. Only about half. How does that happen?

Once again, I hooked up to the computer, unsynced the offending apps ("unsynced" is not a real word, by the way, but I think it should be), and rearranged the screens back the way I wanted them.

For all that work, I'm not sure what the new update got me other than a new app on the first screen called Passbook (which of course bumped another app I had there to a different screen). Passbook recommends that I download a number of new apps in order to appreciate its functionality.

I don't see that happening any time soon.

I always loved Apple for its ease; for the way it so breezily installs or uninstalls programs; for the usability of its tools; for its speedy updates.

Yet, today all I have to say is GRRRRRRR!

Indeed, sometimes wonderstruck looks a little more like flabbergasted.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Word of the Year: Listen

Has the shine of the new year worn off? Did you have resolutions? If so, how are they coming along?

I don't make resolutions. They're kind of notorious for being hard to keep. For four years now, I've followed Christine Kane's practice of choosing a word for the year. With this method I choose a single word to reflect on throughout the year. It sets an intention. What do I want to invite more of into my life?

In 2012, my word was Clarity. And yes, I gained some. I became more clear about what I want to do with my life and what directions I want to explore with my writing.

At the beginning of 2010 I was very pregnant awaiting The Little One's arrival. I couldn't begin to imagine what my life would look like that year, so I simply chose Joy. Then I tried to find ways to bring more joy into otherwise difficult new mom moments.

This year I considered the word Wonderstruck (appropriate, right?) but when I thought about how I wanted to grow, a different word kept returning to me: Listen.

The things I want to focus on this year are:

  • paying better attention to my family, individually and as a group

  • getting serious about my writing

  • being present in the moment

  • a healthy body (eating better and moving more)

So, how does the word Listen figure into all this?

  • Family: I want to truly listen to my family- share their joys, help with their needs.

  • Writing: I need to listen to my muse- spend time with a pen and a notebook or my computer and let words transpire.

  • Being present: I want to listen to the sounds around me to help connect with any given moment.

  • Health: I want to listen to what my body needs- when is it hungry; what is it hungry for? What hurts? What needs to be moved or stretched?

Previous experience tells me this word will probably teach me in ways I haven't even thought of yet. In fact, this weekend I learned that true listening isn't just about the ears; it's about the eyes, too. Observing facial features, body language, settings, and situations contributes to understanding what's really going on or being said.

The word of the year teaches in unexpected ways. That's how these things tend to go. I wonder how Listen will continue to unfold for me the longer I reflect on it.

Do you have a word of the year? Resolutions? What have they taught you about yourself?

How Hurrying Works Against Us

Never hurry. Hurrying leads to oopsies like dropping things or spilling things and other accidents.

Slow down. Give yourself a few extra minutes if you can. If it's too late for that, give yourself permission to be late. Or maybe even to cut out an activity entirely.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Weekend Inspiration - Real Love is Messy

Love. Talk about a complicated beast. There's a whole holiday dedicated to forcing couples to be nice to each other. Did you ever think about it that way?

This Valentine's Day was pretty good. My husband surprised me with a fruit arrangement full of grapes, strawberries, and heart-shaped pineapple, along with a box of chocolate-covered strawberries. In the attached note he said, "You're pretty and you smell nice." No, I'm not kidding and yes, I thought it was adorable. We're weird like that. (Mutual weirdness works well.)

Since love is in the air (and the stores), this dose of weekend inspiration is about just that. But as you may already know, love isn't always perfect. It rarely looks like the fairy tales or romantic comedies.

Real love is hard work. Sometimes it's awesome. And sometimes, well, sometimes it kind of sucks. It's messy and complicated. It's also fun and supportive.

That being said, here are a few posts that tell it like it is.

Real Love: What It Looks Like. The Good. The Hard. And How To Make It Better from Leonie Dawson - As you might surmise from the title, Leonie talks straight on this one.
Two people being ... stubborn about having a long lasting relationship.

Two people deciding to grow and heal.

Even when it doesn’t look or feel easy or graceful.

Confessions of a Resentful Wife on Pace and Kyeli - Pace talks about moving from "90% wholehearted" to 100% wholehearted. This post is honest, sweet, and may require a tissue.
I try my best to be compassionate, but sometimes I fail. I think how inconvenient this is for me, how it's hard on me, how I have to do all the work now.

Why Relationships Fail: 4 Tips to Make Love Last at Tiny Buddha - About the importance of healing ourselves to have healthy relationships.
When you go from “needing” love, affection, and support to fill a hole in yourself, to “sharing” love and happiness from a place of fullness, your relationship (and life!) will blossom into something truly amazing and lasting.

What about you? What are your thoughts on love? How do you keep it working in your relationship?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Giveaway Winner

Happy Valentine's Day! As I announced in Monday's post, I am sharing the love this week by giving one reader a copy of The World Needs Hope.

I am thrilled to have been a small part of this book. It's a wonderful, inspiring reminder of all the hope that surrounds us. It's a great gift for someone special, even if that someone special is yourself, so check it out on Amazon.

I wish I could give all of my readers a copy. I appreciate all of you so much.

Alas, I can choose only one. Selected by an online random number generator, our winner is...


commenter #2: Shari! Hooray!

Shari, you will be receiving an email from me so we can work out delivery details. Check your inbox today. Congratulations! The comment you left was filled with hope. It sounds like this book has found its way to a wonderful home.

Thanks again to all of you who make your way to my little website. Wishing you all lots of love and hope this Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Interview: Richard Monro

Each Wednesday is Wonderstruck Interview day. Hearing other people’s  stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

Today’s interviewee is writer Richard Monro.

RichardMonroWhat have you been wonderstruck by recently?

This past spring I was wonderstruck by the altruistic interaction of the different creatures that inhabit this magnificent planet. In this case, the interaction involved a hummingbird, a baby wren and me.

During the many beautiful afternoon days we have here in Arizona, I like to work in my backyard or sit on my patio and read. One day while trimming my trees, I noticed a diminutive hummingbird nest with two tiny eggs. It was located just below eye level on a branch I was about to trim. Forgoing that planned action, I became an observer. Over the days that followed the mama hummingbird and I developed a relationship. She must have realized I meant no harm, and eventually let me approach within eighteen inches of her as she sat on her nest.

RichardMonro-HummingbirdShe made me her protector. Anytime I was outside and a predatory bird was perched nearby, she would start chittering at me. Once I spied her cause of alarm, I would chase the offending bird away whereby mama hummingbird would settle quietly back onto her nest.

One afternoon while I was comfortably ensconced in my reclining patio chair reading a new book, the hummingbird flew into my face chittering vociferously.When she caught my attention, she flew several feet away and dove into a very large planter containing a Gardenia bush. I thought this behavior quite strange, and finally after several repeated exhibitions of this behavior, I got up to take a look. Looking carefully into the planter where the hummingbird had repeatedly dived in, I found a baby wren barely covered in pin feathers. It had obviously fallen out of the nest built on my speaker located six feet above the planter.

Mama hummingbird's obvious concern for the plight of this baby bird of an unrelated species astounded me. After carefully placing the baby wren back into the nest from which it had fallen, mama hummingbird peacefully settled and went back to feeding her own two young nestlings. I returned to my recliner in awe of the wonder I had just experienced.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

I am an early riser typically waking at 3 AM, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and raring to go (much to the dismay of my wife). I am more creative and productive in the five hours between 3 AM and 8 AM than for the entire rest of the day. This high-energy, contemplative time of the day when the house is quiet is a blessing for me. However, the time of day for which I am most grateful starts around 6 PM every day. My wife and I stop the activities in which we are involved and take time to be with each other. Our topics of conversation are expansive and frequently deeply personal. It is a time of connection, sharing, beauty and peace.

What part of your day is tough? How do you move through it?

My biorhythm hits rock bottom each day between 1:30 PM and 2:30 PM. My mind fogs and my body demands to be shut down. I can force myself to slog through this abysmal time, but whenever possible, I take a power nap lasting from 15 to 30 minutes. The sonic boom people hear around this time are my eyelids slamming shut.

What do you wish you are more conscious of?

It seems like everyone I run into has a personal issue they are struggling with but remain silent about. I can't help everyone. However, I can extend my hand of help and loving kindness to friends and family. Therefore, I want to be more conscious of the little visible facial expressions or that special look in someone's eyes that signals they could use a listening ear. Now, when someone replies, "I am okay" to my general greeting, "How are you?", I look at them carefully. If the stress signals are there, I quickly respond and ask, "Now tell me how you are really feeling?" The answers are surprising, and the person I am talking to is usually grateful that someone cared enough to ask.

How do you stay truly focused on what is important to you?

Having always been a very focused person, I find that staying on task is easy. However, getting started is sometimes the hard part. When I find myself procrastinating, a prioritized list usually comes to the rescue.

More about Richard Monro:

RichardMonro-CheatingDeathI am an ordinary man who has led a rather extraordinarily life. For too long a period of my life and for too many times, death dogged my footsteps and almost caught me. This rather bizarre life journey resulted in my memoir, Cheating Death-an Extreme Memoir. This book was published on Amazon last year as an e-book.

Fortunately, life is much more sedate now. I'm blessed with an extraordinary wife and two grown children that make up the nucleus of our close-knit family.

I am currently wrestling with a novel tentatively titled, Spider Master. It has been through more twists and turns than a ball of twine. I know what the ending will be, but the journey there is still evolving.

Follow Richard on:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Giveaway: Sharing Hope for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is this week, which means you have probably already been inundated by commercial reminders to show your love. Flowers, balloons, chocolates, stuffed animals holding stuffed hearts. My local grocery store was pushing heart-shaped ravioli. Here's wishing some of these tokens make their way to your home, courtesy of a special someone.

As for me? I want to show my love for you. You show up here at Live Wonderstruck. You read my words. Maybe you even leave some words of your own. I love you for that. Knowing that you navigated the rampant internet waters and paused here... magical. Thank you so much.

So, in honor of you and this time of year, I am sharing some love in the form of my very first giveaway! Woohoo!

Here's the scoop. I am giving away a copy of The World Needs Hope. Created by my best friend Sara McClellan, this book is filled with beautiful words and artwork to remind each of us that hope is all around.

Read a few lines, journal in the margins, meditate on the imagery. It's that kind of book.

I edited this book and contributed a photograph and a short passage of text for Chapter 2 on Comfort, so you'll be getting a piece of me as well.

The rules are simple:

  1. To enter, leave a comment on this post by midnight EST on Wednesday, February 13, 2013. (Any comment. You can talk about what has you wonderstruck today, what you love or hate about Valentine's Day, where you find hope in your day to day life, why you are excited about this book, or even "oooh oooh... Pick me!")

  2. Due to shipping costs, I can only ship to the continental United States of America. (My apologies to my wonderful Australian and British readers and those from all other locales. I appreciate you and I'm sending you a big hug right now.)

That's it. Easy!

On Valentine's Day I will choose a winner at random and announce it here on the blog. I will also email the winner to request your mailing address, then I will ship your book to you.

Thank you for visiting Live Wonderstruck. Thank you for your support, your kindness, your love, and your attention.

Now, go ahead... comment away...



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Where I'm Finding Inspiration

In the past few weeks, a number of readings have caught my attention. Here are some that I found particularly inspiring:

This is what you need to remember when life is hard by Heather Plett - The title says it all. How to find hope to get through the hard.

Jealousy & Regret Are Great Teachers by Shauna Niequist, in which she says...
But there were too many trips and meals and conversations and experiences that I was too busy and too overwhelmed to really experience and appreciate. That’s what I regret: the days when I was there but not fully there, the conversations with people I love during which I gave them half my mind and a sliver of my heart because I’d spent it all already, because I was empty and fragmented from the sheer amount of things I was trying to experience.

Not fully there... a state I find myself in far too frequently. Shauna suggests slowing down- that has also worked for me. I need to remember to build in downtime so I can fully appreciate the... um... uptime?

What If My Dreams Scare The Shi* Out Of Me? by Leonie Dawson because sometimes dreams are big, scary things. Leonie gets that.

The Girl of Fire by Brandi Reynolds wherein she explores the beauty of fiery people. Like Brandi, I'm not a fire person either, but I was moved by this post to think about what my own brand of fire might look like.

Practice Makes Perfect also by Brandi Reynolds. (I've been following Brandi for several years now. I love her spirit.) - A short and sweet post about the frustrating side of practice.

Book: Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass - A book for middle readers about a pair of almost thirteen-year-old friends searching for the keys to a box claiming to contain the meaning of life.

What readings have caught your attention lately?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Enhancing My Calm

How things look on the outside of us depends on how things are on the inside of us. ~Park Cousins

I'm thinking a lot about calmness today. I started this week off with the most amazing sense of inner calm. The business of January culminating in frantic basement work in preparation for a Superbowl party left me feeling harried. Then Monday morning came and I awoke to only the usual obligations: taking care of my family, my home, and myself.

It was soothing to know there was nothing extra to be done. I could breathe.

In the middle of the week, things started getting busy again until last night I was feeling frantic. Again. I hate that feeling.

So today, I'm placing a lot of focus on maintaining my inner calm. Despite the fact that my little boy turns 2 today. Despite the approaching snow storm. Despite my teenager's as of yet unnamed "spectacular funtastic" plans.

This morning I woke up a bit earlier than normal and I got in the shower to wake myself up. When my husband left for work, I sat in the quiet studio and played the first meditation video in Susan Piver's Open Heart Project, which has been sitting in my email inbox for two weeks now (collecting with other more recent sessions).

I haven't had a lot of experience with meditation, but it seemed a good place to start to enhance my calm. (Remember in the movie Demolition Man how they would tell an angry person to "enhance your calm." Right, well I'm a dork and I remember and I'm telling myself.)

As it happened, just after Susan finished her opening explanation and the bell chimed to start the actual meditation practice, my phone rang. Since I was watching the video on my phone, it was quite the intrusion.

Rather than be rattled by the interruption, however, I had a lovely conversation with my husband. When it was done, I started up the video again and did the 10 minute meditation. And you know what? I am feeling calm right now.

I hope to hold on to this feeling throughout the day, returning to it when I stray.

I may not have even thought to do the meditation if it weren't for Cora Ramos posing a question about meditation earlier this week, so thank you, Cora! (She wrote about it yesterday on her blog in a post called Wild and Crazy Thoughts.)

How do you maintain (or return to) a sense of calm when things get crazy?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I'm Back

Hi! Thank you for your patience during my bloggy break which has now been for 5 or 6 weeks. Whew!

Sometimes you need to let some things go for a while. There was too much going on since the holidays. I had to let go of some activities to allow others to finish.

January is often a big transition month. This year was no exception. I needed to resolve and clear some things to restore balance.

Now I'm feeling refreshed and ready to dive back in here at Live Wonderstruck. I've done some reflecting and wondering, planning and dreaming (or dreaming and scheming, as I like to say).

There are some changes underway and more in the works. Did you notice the new blog design? Yes, I know I changed it only a few months back, but sometimes you can make changes and it still doesn't feel quite right. You have some of the right elements (colorful butterfly, purply pink links), but it's missing something. Do you know what I mean?

Well, I've kept the right elements and brought in a forest (I love forests! They're so natural, yet magical, don't you think?) and cheerful peachy-yellow. Yes. This is feeling more right. More me.

A little whimsy... a little mystery... a little bit wonderstruck?

I've also added a flash fiction piece. Perhaps you caught that in last week's sneak post? Expect some more of that.

What isn't changing? Me. I'm still me. I'll still be talking about wonderstruckness. Weekly interviews are lined up. (I'm also looking for more, so if you are interested in being a Wonderstruck Interviewee, visit this page for details: Then email me at smhutchinswriter at gmail dot com or reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter.)

Can you feel the energy? Something is stirring. I feel excited, yet serene. I hope you do, too.

So tell me... what have you been up to?