Author Archives: Marylin Warner

About Marylin Warner

Writing coach and editor, freelance writer with published short stories, essays, memoirs and articles in numerous magazines, anthologies and newspapers. Member of SCBWI, Colorado Authors League, and National League of American Pen Women. Her short story, "The Truth About Camels and Ducks" recently won first place in the ACC Writer's Studio contest and will appear in THE PROGENITOR literary journal. Follow her at https://warnerwriting.wordpress.com

GET IT IN WRITING

Charlie Brown, of PEANUTS fame.  (book picture from Wikipedia; all other pictures by Marylin Warner)

Charlie Brown, of PEANUTS fame. (book picture from Wikipedia; all other pictures by Marylin Warner)

Stamps make mailed cards and letters extra special and come in an amazing assortment of choices.

Stamps make mailed cards and letters extra special and come in an amazing assortment of choices.

 

 

 

Charlie Brown was the star character of the popular comic strip by Charles Schultz, PEANUTS, which began in 1950. Charlie Brown’s wishful thinking about being noticed by the little red-haired girl began a theme of love disappointments that lasted for more than five decades.   This is one of his most often quoted cartoon lines: “There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters…I could be their leader.”

Charlie Brown didn’t want a phone call, a signature-only Valentine card, an email, a text or a twitter; he wanted a letter. Actor Keanu Reeves said this about a letter’s importance. “Letters are something from you. It’s a different kind of intention than writing an e-mail.”

Letters can be saved, to be read again and again. Greeting cards that arrive in the mail—especially with personal messages written inside—can be displayed on a bedside table or a shelf, reminders that someone, some-where still thinks of you and cares enough to stay in touch. Visit a nursing home, an assisted living, a hospital room or the home of an invalid to see how treasured the cards and letters are by those who receive them.

Valentine’s Day is still more than a week away. Plenty of time to buy a Valentine card, a greeting card of any kind, or even just write, type or print a letter to someone. One of my favorite quotes about happiness (attributed to numerous writers, including Joseph Addison) is this: “The grand essentials of happiness in this life are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.”

For lonely, ill, or older neighbors, family and friends, or those who are getting forgetful or suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, I would change the last grand essential to this: “…a grand essential of happiness is something that shows I’m remembered.”

To be remembered is a treasured gift.

She wrote this message in chalk to her Grandpa.

Grace wrote this message in chalk to her Grandpa.

 

Greeting cards can be much appreciated, too, if there's a personal message written inside.

Greeting cards are appreciated, too, if there’s a personal message written inside.

Years ago, when Grace was learning to write cursive, she wrote this for my mom.  Mor-Mor-Mor means mother's mother's mother in Swedish.

Years ago, when Grace was learning to write cursive, she wrote this for my mom. Mor-Mor-Mor means mother’s mother’s mother in Swedish.

Before Gannon could write, he "practiced" with chalk on the fence.

Before Gannon could write, he “practiced” with chalk on the fence.

36 Comments

Filed under art, Different kinds of homes, friends, importance of doing good things, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, making a difference, Special days in February, special quotations

BEST INTENTIONS

Come on...who doesn't smile at the colors of the Red-Footed Boobie featured on Jeopardy?

Come on…who doesn’t smile at the colors of the Red-Footed Boobie featured on Jeopardy?

How can you brighten a gloomy winter day?

How can you brighten a gloomy winter day? Maybe a colorful breakfast?

 

 

 

 

My photo doesn't do justice to this delicious, colorful treat!

My photo doesn’t do justice to this delicious, colorful guacamole dip!

When I was in second grade, we had what felt like an extra long, very cold and dreary winter. My mother, who was an avid reader of magazine articles, created her own version of a helpful hint for brightening winter meals. She decided to cheer up our day by serving a colorful breakfast one morning.

We often had oatmeal to jump start cold mornings, but this time she made a big pan of Cream of Wheat. She added some to the dog’s food, and then she heaped servings in bowls for my brother, our dad and me. As we sat at the table waiting to eat, Mom added drops of green food coloring to my bowl and stirred the concoction, then blue to my brother’s, red to hers, and yellow to my dad’s. (His was actually laughable; it looked like she’d made ice cream from snow where the dog had piddled.) My mother had the best intentions for brightening our day, and it ended up working surprisingly well.

I remember us all sitting there, staring wide-eyed at bowls of food that looked like we’d tried to make science projects but had failed. My dad finally smiled, picked up his spoon, and said, “You always appreciate the cook.” The food tasted pretty much the same, and soon we were all laughing: our lips and teeth had been stained the color of our Cream of Wheat. So on that dreary day, at home and then at work and at school, we all probably made others smile, too.

Mary Zalmanek, my favorite non-fiction magazine writer in my Wednesday morning writing group, and also author of ART OF THE SPARK, often thrills the group by testing recipes on us. She brightened a recent Wednesday by bringing tortilla chips and a big bowl of her amazing homemade Guacamole with Pomegranates. It was colorful, uplifting, amazingly delicious, and she generously agreed to share her recipe here:  http://adventuresoftheheart.com/appetizers-pomegranate-guacamole-_529.html

This winter, and on any dreary day, rise to the occasion and create your own cheer. Spice up your life and the lives of others with a surprising burst of color.     blue pool waterpurple pool water

The hotel pool added water-changing colorful lights, which my grandson loved!

The hotel pool added water-changing colorful lights, which my grandson loved!

51 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Contagious Creativity

S is for sustainability.  Get the details below.

S is for sustainability. Get the details below.

 

 

knowledge is power

In 1983, long before my mother’s dementia, she and I attended a writing conference at Avila College in Kansas City. At the luncheon, when a trophy was given for the best contest story written by an unpublished writer, one of the women at our table had to go up and accept it on behalf of the writer. The actual winner—a mother with several young children—paid the entry fee to enter her story and receive a critique, but she hadn’t been able to afford the cost of the conference and luncheon, plus child care and transportation, so she wasn’t present to receive her own hard-won prize.

Mom and I, as well as many women writers around us, felt strongly that the priorities were way off base. Instead of giving trophies that would gather dust on a bookshelf, wouldn’t it be more helpful to offer scholarships for mothers who needed financial help to reach their writing goals?

Oh, how I wish the heavy curtain of dementia would lift so Mom could see the assistance becoming available for mothers who are also writers and artists. And she’d be thrilled that it’s open to women everywhere.

The SUSTAINABLE ARTS FOUNDATION offers up to five awards of $6,000 each, and up to five Promise Awards of $2,000 each for writers and artists who have at least one child under the age of 18.   Winners may use the funds for materials, conferences, equipment, classes, daycare assistance, or for anything that will aid them in reaching their creative goals.

Writers apply in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, long form journalism, picture books, graphic novels, or playwriting. Visual artists apply in painting, sculpture, drawing/illustration, printmaking, mixed media, or photography. Both groups submit a brief biography, an artist statement, a curriculum vita, and a $15 entry fee by February 26.

Go to this website for the required entry form and complete guidelines: www.sustainableartsfoundation.org

Please share this opportunity with friends, family, deserving neighbors, and the waitress who has been penning short stories or painting murals during her breaks and while her children are in school. Encourage creative hopefuls.

Albert Einstein said,“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”

Norman Rockwell knew kids need a lot of supervision...writers know that kids' antics also make good stories.

Norman Rockwell knew kids need a lot of supervision; writers know that kids’ antics sometimes make really good stories, if you’re not too tired to write the stories.

Mom was VERY young when she learned that babies take a lot of time from writing...and learning to write.

Mom was VERY young when she learned that babies take a lot of time away from writing…and learning to write.

65 Comments

Filed under art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, just doing the best we can, making a difference, paying writing opportunities, writing, writing contest with cash prizes

SADDLE UP

Not all cowboys look like Tom Selleck.

Not all cowboys look like Tom Selleck.

 

Some of the best Cowboys aren't "boys" at all.

Some of the best Cowboys aren’t “boys” at all!

And not all the work is done on horseback.

And not all the work is done on horseback.

 

And the mama cow still does a lot of the work.

But one thing stays the same: the mama cow still does a lot of the work.

 

My mom was an excellent cook, but Sundays were extra special. She made a roast surrounded by vegetables or baked chicken with all the trimmings, and she always made plenty of food and extra biscuits in case someone came home with us to share a family meal after church.  Those were delicious main meals, rich with what my parents called the best food, family and fellowship, but as much as I enjoyed those Sunday dinners, my favorite “meal” was always that evening.

Sunday night was family time for us.  Mom sliced apples and popped a huge bowl of popcorn.   That was our evening meal as we watched Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, or some similar program.   It was many years later before I realized that all the cowboy shows from that period contained lessons of THE CODE OF THE WEST.

In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, One-Word Personal Themes, and general plans for being more aware and doing better, I’m adding The Code of the West to the mix:

1) Live each day with courage.     2) Take pride in your work.     3) Always finish what you start.   4) Do what has to be done.   5) Be tough but fair.   6) When you make a promise, keep it.   7) Ride for the brand.   8) Talk less and say more.   9) Remember that some things aren’t for sale.   10) Know where to draw the line.

If you don’t have a resolution or a theme word—or even if you do—which of the ten code lessons would you choose?   Slice an apple, eat a bowl of popcorn, and give it some thought.

Whichever lesson you choose from the Code of the West, to make it work, remember YAGOTTAWANNA

Whichever lesson you choose from the Code of the West, to make it work, remember          YAGOTTAWANNA

 

61 Comments

Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, making a difference, recipes, special quotations

Donated Inspiration

It's no longer a war theme, but a challenge to choose a single word.

It’s no longer a war theme, but a challenge to choose a single word.

Winter can be hard on us all. What can we choose to get us going...and stay focused?

Winter can be cold, barren. What word will get us going…and keep us focused?  (picture by Marylin Warner)

 

 

Television talk shows have been giving attention to the topic of how single word themes are replacing lists of New Year’s Resolutions. Motivational specialists seemed to agree this is a wise move, selecting a single word to give your thoughts and actions focus throughout the year.

One program asked viewers to Tweet their single word themes. By the end of the segment, these were some of the words scrolling across the bottom of the screen: unafraid, release, balance, achieve, persevere, observe, win, play, simplify, learn. The word that came to my mind was very different.

For several years, I volunteered at the local Women’s Thrift House on the third Saturday of each month. I was often amazed—and sometimes saddened—by the handmade items and gifts that were dropped off as donations. Knitted scarves and gloves, pottery bowls and pitchers, crocheted baby blankets and booties. Some were donated in their gift boxes, and a few still had sweet cards written to the recipients by the senders.

One Saturday eight years ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of the handmade items, so at the end of the day I purchased it. The one-word hand-stitched message was matted and framed, and it was like a reminder tapping me on the shoulder: YAGOTTAWANNA

I took the 5”x7” framed message with me to show my mom on the next visit, and I remember she studied it a moment to figure it out. Then she laughed and said, “I think this message was made for you, Marylin. No matter what, when you really, really want to do something, you find a way to do it.”

That was then, and now my one word for 2016 is YAGOTTAWANNA, a reminder that if there’s something I need to do, want to do, hope to do…my first step is to grasp the reason WHY I really, really want to do it. The Why will guide me to the HOW…and the commitment to get it done.

I have three supporters in my corner. The first is Confucius: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Abraham Lincoln is the second: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than anything else.”

Third, and best of all, is my mom, who believed this message was made for me as a reminder that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do if I really, really wanted to do it.

Yagottawanna

 

82 Comments

Filed under art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations, writing, writing exercises

Not One of Our Better Ideas?

These are early 20th Century New Year's Resolutions (now in post cards, via Wickipedia)

Early 20th Century New Year’s Resolutions (now on post cards) via Wickipedia.

 

 

snow on pinecone branch

Two television commentators argued the pros and cons of making New Year’s Resolutions. Finally, one shrugged and said, “The practice of making yearly resolutions wasn’t one of our better ideas.”   Really? Our idea?  We take too much credit.

At the beginning of each year, the Babylonians made promises to their gods to do better, and began by returning borrowed objects and repaying their debts.

The Romans began each year by making promises to the two-faced god Janus. It wasn’t that Janus was fickle; he had the two-faced ability to see the past (the old year) and learn from it to move more clearly into the future (the new year).

And this one—for fans of Camelot—is from the Medieval era. The knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry.

The practice of evaluating our lives at the end of one year as we begin a new year isn’t something modern thinkers can claim. Somewhere along the line, though, the themes of New Year Resolutions have focused more on quitting some habits, creating better ones, and making general plans of things we’ll do day after day…until we forget or decide we need to do something else. Generally speaking, modern lists of resolutions are popular water-cooler topics that have less shelf life than milk.

Many years before her dementia, I asked my mom if she was going to have a New Year’s Resolution. She said it was pretty much the same every year: she resolved to wake up each morning, say a prayer, take a deep breath, and face the day ready to do the best she could do with whatever happened.

As British author and screenwriter David Nicholls said, “This is where it all begins. Everything starts here, today.” I don’t think either my mother or Nicholls was referring to a New Year’s Resolution, but to every day of life.

janus statue

Peacock display, Rolling Hills Zoo, Kansas

Peacock display, Rolling Hills Zoo, Kansas

49 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

This Comes Without Ribbons

The Christmas tree in Mom's asst. living apartment, with family pictures scattered among the decorations.  Even Scout's is included.

(The Christmas tree in Mom’s asst. living apartment, with family pictures scattered among the decorations. Even Scout’s is included.)

 

 

Our tree is a Charlie Brown tree, very basic with one red ball and one Christmas Pickle ornament. It's on a table so Scout can't get it.

(Our tree is a Charlie Brown tree, very basic with one red ball and one Christmas Pickle ornament. It’s on a table so Scout can’t get it.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps … means a little bit more!” ~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

An eleven-year-old boy can be caught up in multiple sports, computer games, and all the statistics surrounding Fantasy Football and his favorite NFL teams. But if this boy is also sweet and thoughtful—and a treasured grandson, too—he might make a surprising offer: “Mor-Mor, I want to go with you to visit Great-Grandma.”

The drive was 200 miles each way, with errands to get things for my mother, plus silk poinsettias to put on my dad’s grave stone, but Gannon’s offer was sincere.

He was a wonderful travel companion, a masterful Word-Search player, and a blessing not just for me, but for his great-grandmother as well. My mother had not been responding for almost two days, but without hesitating Gannon pulled up a chair beside her and opened her favorite book of A LITTLE BOOK OF POEMS AND PRAYERS.   He began reading aloud to her, and when he put his hand on hers, she began to hum. He kept reading, and soon she opened her eyes, looked at him and smiled.

Being with our family is always wonderful. Even chasing after puppy Scout this Christmas has worn us all out, but it has also kept us laughing and happy, cuddling the fur ball of energy. The list of special moments goes on and on. While I will remember them all with heartfelt gratitude, I will be especially thankful for the memory of our grandson reaching out and patting his great-grandmother’s hand as he read aloud her favorite poems and prayers.

This post comes to you without ribbons and tags, but with many genuine wishes for Christmas joy.

And of course birthday cake!  Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

And of course birthday cake!

Scout (and her shadow) waiting at the door for more fun and mischief.

Scout (and her shadow) waiting at the door for more fun and mischief.

BOOK OF POEMS AND PRAYERS

54 Comments

Filed under "Christmas Memories With Mom", Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, spending time with kids, Spiritual connections, Things to be thankful for