Posts tagged ‘Love’

2016, December 9

What do You gift writers?

2016 is nearly over and I’d like to thank every single one of my readers for making it such an amazing one, and my bloggy friends who have filled it with so much awesome blogging, flash fiction, poems and even essays to read, each week!

Here’s wishing you all an early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

tea-book-gift

As for my blog post’s title? I wrote this back in 2011 for FFDO, but wanted to share here on my own blog now since that website closed.

This is the season of gift giving, and more often than not, we end up with gifts we like, but which aren’t too related to our field. When I give a gift I like to really think about what the person would enjoy and use. Shopping for writers is rather easy, in my opinion, as we all have access to the basics.

While I do not personally have the one formula you could use to determine what each of your fellow scribbler and avid reader family members or friends would like to receive, I have put together a short list of things which could tickle their fancy.

  1. Gift baskets. I know what you’re thinking. Gift baskets come in all shapes and sizes, but not one shop or website carries one named “Writer’s gift basket”; right? They don’t, or at least not the ones I looked through around here as research for this article. So why did I include this here? Because, you can make it yourself!
    Grab a pretty basket and fill it up with: pens and pencils, pencil cases, bookmarks, journals, stapler & staples, ink (either for a pen or for a printer), notepads, erasers, post-it notes in any or all shapes and sizes, stationery, note books (maybe something fancier, like a leather note book), day planners, diaries, bookplates, writing-themed magnets (magnetic scrabble fridge tiles), a book light, memory sticks, and chocolate. Every writer loves chocolate.
  2. Books. Kind of obvious, yes. But every writer I know has a never-ending wishlist. Many have books on the craft of writing, technical books, collections of writing prompts or all those wonderful novels and poetry out there which they would love to own, yet simply can’t afford or feel that they shouldn’t indulge.
    See if they are willing to share the wishlist (or they might have one online on Goodreads, Amazon, or BookDepository so you can check it without them even suspecting what you are up to).
  3. I’d like to include Literary Magazines, either Single issues or Subscriptions under this category, too. This is a luxury most poetry or short story writers would appreciate as it’s always nice to hold a magazine in hand while reading rather than the average e-mail subscriptions.
  4. Amazon Prime might be a good idea as well. I think if there weren’t the added benefits like free same-day or two-day delivery, unlimited streaming for movies and series, hundreds of playlists and unlimited photo storage, the single reason a writer would choose Amazon Prime is: borrowing one book per month with no due date from the collection of over 800,000 books of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library!
  5. Other Software or Updates. In this very tech-y day an age, most writers use a laptop for writing, on a daily basis. The key software for these writers is a word-processing software. Most PC users use Microsoft Office-based Word, however there are other ones out there as well, like Scrivener or White Smoke.
    If you’re feeling fancy, ask if they’d like to switch from their free blogging platform to their own self-hosted domain. They’re not as expensive as eight years ago when I first started blogging.
  6. An editor. Let me rephrase that since editors might not let you tie a pretty red bow around their neck and agree to sit pretty under the Christmas tree: An editing session. Are the writers in your life in need of a second opinion? Are they letting their masterpiece collect dust on a shelf, or putting off writing/sending out query letters because it needs more editing? An editing session could help them out big time.
  7. A creative writing class, workshops or conferences. Either in “real-life” or online, many writers would like to further perfect their craft. Have they got fear of writing, issues with time management, or are in need of fresh creative energy to move out of a rut? There are several websites you can check out, and in case you can not decide on your own, include the writer in the decision making process. They are the ones who best know what they need.
  8. Customized items. Great for stocking fillers. In this area of gifts, there are many things you can customize, like jewelry: cufflinks, pins and badges, pendants, bracelets engraved with their favorite (short) quote, earrings;
    clothing: T-shirst, neck ties, hats, scarves;
    and even kitchen items: mugs, serving trays, bowls, wine bottles, etc. And you can never go wrong with writing-themed Christmas tree ornaments!
  9. High end pens. Quill pens, fountain pens, ballpoint pens. These are good choices for every writer of course, but especially for pen-enthusiasts.
  10. Book ends. They seem underrated, but I think they are worth keeping in mind because they not only keep books from falling off not-yet-filled-up shelves, they allow for building a bookshelf anywhere – on a windowsill, a desk, etc. They also come in all shapes and sizes and are customisable to your writer’s dreams.
  11. Time to write. This can be as simple as arranging play-dates, taking the kids to a movie one day per week, going to visit the grandparents without your spouse on a weekend, taking over some of the chores or cooking dinner yourself so your writer will have a bit of time to themselves, to clear their head from the everyday worries and write without interruptions.
  12. A place to write. If you are in the mood to make over a room in your house, how about giving your writer a cozy space to read and write in? A door to shut would be ideal, but even simply rearranging a shared space to make room for a bookshelf, a comfy chair, or a desk will go a long way. Build them a book lover’s Christmas Tree!
  13. A writer’s retreat or travel for research. If you can afford it, check out a few places close by and send your writer on a short writing retreat. Or if they have a trip coming up, offer to extend it by a few days. Send them on a short trip for research, if for example, they are city-bound yet writing about a beach setting.
    A weekend away from a noisy house, in a cute little bed and breakfast is guaranteed to make their year!

How about you? Would you be happy to receive any of the above listed? How do you shop for the writers (and readers) in your life? Any ideas I could steal?

~~~

As a disclaimer, the above listed are things I use and love, or I would love to receive.

I have personally worked with Karen Schindler in the past, and she has edited my work in such a way that she kept my voice throughout the stories; sometimes sending them back with edits that I didn’t even notice at first were not my own writing. I highly recommend Karen’s services.

In April 2012, I took Milli Thornton’s Ace Your 10K Day online class. She has several classes to choose from, her insight for the issues I had were more than helpful as they were easily applicable; and overall, Milli was a pleasure to work with.

If you’re crafty, a while back I made myself some classy handmade bookmarks, and cute corner bookmarksa writer’s clock, pretty calligraphy ornaments and a travelogue and built a Booklover’s Christmas Tree! With a little imagination, they can easily be transformed to your own needs and even crafted with your children to gift to the writer in their life.

Happy gift giving!

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2016, September 16

Expressing love

I’ve been in relationships where “I love you” was said every day. Or even several times per day. In ones where it was seldom said. And I’ve been in relationships where “I love you” was said too soon. Each of these situations has its own positives and negatives.

But you know what? Sometimes, you don’t really need those exact words to feel the love projected your way.

page more love letters

Love might come in the form of:

  • a caramel latte made every morning
  • asking ‘are you OK?’
  • being driven to work and then back home each day
  • saying ‘thank you’
  • finding us-time
  • watching movies/series together
  • annual Elder Flower Picking Day
  • having friends over when you don’t feel like going out
  • making tea
  • cuddling
  • going out of the way for something
  • road trips
  • funny names and titles
  • two art pieces on the wall
  • taking off one’s shoes as soon as walking in the door because they know you’ve cleaned the house
  • cooking together
  • being supportive
  • listening
  • cooking for one’s partner, or their family and friends
  • being OK with the tea collection taking over cabinet space
  • caring about what the other partner thinks, feels like
  • massages
  • a simple gesture
  • a hug
  • a caring look
  • a smile
  • guarding the plants from the cat
  • reading, while they watch the game
  • riding bikes together
  • holding hands in public
  • holding hands in the summer when it’s too hot to cuddle on the sofa
  • a photo on the fridge
  • checking that the alarm is set for the morning
  • going biking together
  • chatting while at work, too
  • taking care of each other in sickness
  • a note on the fridge
  • reading the partner’s creative writing
  • sharing about work
  • helping with studying
  • doing things separately, too.

What do you think? And what have you observed? How many other ways does love come in, aside from saying those three words?

2016, July 22

Love, in so many different ways

I’ve talked about love before. I’ve defined it before. More than once. I still believe that. And I could still talk about it. A lot. But I will spare you, and leave you with only a couple of thoughts.

A friend of mine said that she doesn’t believe in falling in love, that people can only care for each other and be together out of necessity after the age of 25.
I strongly disagree with her theory, but I do see something resembling this happening a lot more today. I will give her that.
So many people are only in relationships (or worse, marriages) for self-serving reasons. For the money, for the status and all the other perks, for the wish of not being alone, of not being single parents, and so on.

So, can we fall in love after the age of 25? Heck, Yes!

Do we truly love only once in our lifetime? I don’t think so.

However, in the past few years, after going through a lot of ups and downs and different relationships, I realized something important. We love every partner slightly, or greatly, differently.

It’s one kind of love, when we’re in high school and our biggest problems are having a curfew or choosing the right university. It’s another kind of love when we move out of our parents’ house, we discover who we’re shaping up to be, we have room/flat mates, classes at uni all day, and know full well that after the final exams are done, we’re relocating and our partner will be left behind.
And it’s a different kind of love once we start working full-time, maybe even more than one job, and try to make ends meet. It’s definitely another kind of love when we live together, go through grief, changing jobs, illness, caring for family and other difficulties together.
There is also a lot of joy all the while going through all of these different types of relationships. I’m not contesting the effort, and the love we pour into each relationship.

So if you really think about it, how could we really love everyone exactly the same way if we ourselves are continuously changing and evolving?

The “trick” is to recognize this and not avoid telling people we love them, only because we think we should feel in a way that fits into a nice and comfy, previously experienced mold.

2016, April 15

That moment – by Estrella Azul

Large-Blue-RGB-National-Poetry-Month-Logo

Today is the third stop on the Savvy Verse & Wit National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Last week, I printed out the National poetry Month poster and displayed it on a cork board at work, hoping it’ll inspire some of my colleagues, too.
I have to say I’m having a lot of fun this month reading more poetry than I do on a regular basis!

Since I haven’t posted this on my blog before, and lately I felt the need to start gathering all of me/my writing in just this one place, I will share with you my poem, “That Moment”, which was featured on ArtiPeeps back in 2014.

~

NPMBlogTour2016That Moment,
by Estrella Azul

Four hours… passed by in a flash.
A cup of fragrant Jasmine tea in a cozy cafe,
gave way to a long walk as the wind made them shiver.
A fire lit up inside as dusk turned into night,
as drizzle turned into rain, as two lips touched.
That moment… it felt like eternity.
For her, that moment felt like a hike.
It felt like sunbathing on a hilltop,
surrounded by mountains covered in sparkly snow.
She felt her soul fill with warmth and calmness.
That moment… it felt like perfection,
in her world filled to the brim with uncertainty.

~

In other news, my wonderful writer friend, Janel Gradowski who first introduced me to National Poetry Month when she interviewed me as part of the 2010 blog tour, has the first book of her culinary competition series, “Pies and Peril” now free on Amazon through April 24th. This is the first time any book in that series has been offered for free, so I urge you to go download and read it as it’s truly a book worth spending your precious reading time on!

How is your National Poetry Month going? Read anything you think I’d like? Do share!

2016, February 12

The Did-Do List

Nearly every evening for the past two weeks, I got home after 8 PM (or even after 10 PM) and still had at least 50 minutes or more of chores around the house before finally getting into the shower and having dinner. It got me thinking about how last year, when I wrote my Not-To-Do List after spending too much time on work stuff instead of enjoying my vacation, I also looked at writing a list of the things I did do.
I wrote that list, because I noticed that too often we feel stressed, we feel that we don’t have enough time in the day to work on everything we need to get done, and we end up feeling like we failed or didn’t do enough – when actually our Did-Do List might end up longer than the original To-Do List.

Back then I immediately started writing a week’s worth of did-dos, but then publishing a blog post with/about them somehow didn’t make it on my To-Do List. I know, ironic, right? ;)
In any event, I was quite surprised at everything I accomplished on most days. The truth is that our time is filled with lots and lots of recurring tasks that we do on auto-pilot and never even think of during the day.

So below is about one week of my life, and the things I did do.

Saturday:

  1. Made the bed
  2. Fed Pixel
  3. Took Pixel to the vet
  4. (Stopped scratches from bleeding)
  5. Bought some groceries
  6. Cast plaster frames (times 20)
  7. Pre-cut napkins for decoupage
  8. Helped with cooking
  9. Set the table
  10. Had lunch with mom
  11. Copied two movies onto laptop
  12. Talked with grandparents and mom
  13. Did the laundry
  14. Hung clothes to dry
  15. Made tea
  16. Had tea with mom
  17. Cleaned out the pantry
  18. Did dishes
  19. Put clothes away
  20. Fed Pixel
  21. Showered
  22. Looked around, posted to Instagram

Sunday:

  1. Made coffee
  2. Made the bed
  3. Fed Pixel
  4. Had latte while browsing Pinterest
  5. Bought mom birthday gift
  6. Purchased a vacuum cleaner
  7. Visited with mom
  8. Helped serve lunch
  9. Had lunch with family
  10. Discussed buying new washing machine with grandparents (this alone was a two-hour task!)
  11. Helped with clearing the table
  12. Transferred flour, salt, sugar and breadcrumbs into new containers
  13. Vacuumed the car a bit
  14. Went shopping
  15. Carried groceries up in two trips
  16. Put away groceries
  17. Made dinner
  18. Put away clothes
  19. Vacuumed the apartment
  20. Scared Pixel with vacuum
  21. Wrote blog post
  22. Watched movie with boyfriend
  23. Put the trash out
  24. Watched series with boyfriend
  25. Played Ice Age Village
  26. Looked around, posted to Instagram
  27. Showered

Monday:

  1. Worked from home
  2. Bought new sheets
  3. Changed bed linen
  4. Went to exchange sheets
  5. Changed the rest of the bed linen
  6. Made the bed
  7. Vacuumed (times 3)
  8. Fed Pixel
  9. Had latte
  10. Made breakfast
  11. Had breakfast at lunchtime
  12. Paid bills
  13. Cleaned bathroom
  14. Made lunch and dinner for boyfriend
  15. Cleaned litter box
  16. Did dishes
  17. Shook blankets out
  18. Washed my hair
  19. Showered
  20. Added hair mask, waited
  21. Washed hair mask off
  22. Dried my hair
  23. Cooked myself dinner
  24. Had dinner
  25. Watched series with boyfriend
  26. Arranged clothes in closet
  27. Made tea
  28. Cleaned kitchen
  29. Replaced shampoo bottles
  30. Had tea in bed
  31. Played on FB
  32. Cut toenails
  33. Looked around, posted to Instagram

Tuesday:

  1. Made the bed
  2. Applied make-up
  3. Fed Pixel
  4. Ran errands
  5. Worked from the office
  6. Made lunch
  7. Shopped for groceries
  8. Put away groceries
  9. Made dinner
  10. Did dishes
  11. Vacuumed the apartment
  12. Showered
  13. Put the trash out
  14. Talked on the phone with mom
  15. Had dinner
  16. Watched a movie with boyfriend

Wednesday:

  1. Made the bed
  2. Applied make-up
  3. Fed Pixel
  4. Bought breakfast
  5. Worked from the office
  6. Went out for a short walk
  7. Had lunch
  8. Sent mail to Lilla Rose support
  9. Went to mom’s
  10. Went home
  11. Had dinner
  12. Did dishes
  13. Had tea in bed
  14. Showered
  15. Watched series with boyfriend

Thursday:

  1. Made the bed
  2. Fed Pixel
  3. Applied make-up
  4. Worked from the office
  5. Replied to Lilla Rose support’s message
  6. Had lunch
  7. Went to the post office
  8. Read in the park for 15 minutes
  9. Went out to get to know two people better
  10. Went out with other friends
  11. Went home
  12. Took a shower
  13. Had dinner
  14. Did dishes
  15. Put the trash out
  16. Had tea in bed
  17. Watched series with boyfriend

Friday:

  1. Made the bed
  2. Fed Pixel
  3. Worked from the office
  4. Made lunch
  5. Had lunch
  6. Attended work meeting
  7. Did research
  8. Shopped for groceries
  9. Put away groceries
  10. Went home
  11. Made dinner
  12. Showered
  13. Had dinner

Saturday:

  1. Made the bed
  2. Fed Pixel
  3. Had breakfast
  4. Cleaned the apartment
  5. Vacuumed
  6. Made wall hangings (times 20)
  7. Looked around, posted to Instagram
  8. Browsed Pinterest
  9. Binge-watched “Melissa & Joey” because I felt sick
  10. Had lunch
  11. Hung clothes to dry
  12. Showered
  13. Had dinner
  14. Did dishes
  15. Watched series with boyfriend

I noticed that sometimes we wake up or arrive home with our mental to-do list made and just start doing it rather than planning it. We do far too much planning sometimes and thinking about things and they never get done, right? On the flip side though, sometimes it’d be far better to have all the things we need to do written on the list rather than add on another lists’s worth of mental-noted items and then feel like we’ve failed.

With most of the time feeling like we have never-ending, ever-extending to-do lists both at work and at home, I think that writing a Did-Do List can also be very effective as a technique for anxiety management!

What do you guys do on a daily basis that you never even think of adding to your To-Do List? How long is your To-Do List? And how long is the Did-Do List once written down? Feel free to share it below in the comments, I’m really interested to see other people’s lists and compare notes ;)

2016, February 5

The power of small steps

Last January, during my year of following the 52/52 e-guide‘s assignments every week, I wrote a Life List. Even though I started out with the list looking more like a to-do list in the beginning, I quickly switched to dream-mode and thought of the things I’d really really want to do in this lifetime.

Now, my boyfriend is very realistic. He doesn’t like to make plans too far ahead, if at all. And it sometimes drives me nuts because I believe that the things that we focus on are the things that will surround us.
If we only focus on today, then weekend plans might fail because we’re not making an effort to think about them and make time for some things. Or if we only focus on having bills to pay and not having enough money, then that will be our reality. And we won’t be able to shift that reality until we start looking beyond our present, and start believing that things will get better. (I am quite bad at this one, after years of being in debt!) Then, we need to decide what it is we want, and take small steps toward those things.
For this reason, the other day I wrote a list of things we need to fix in the apartment, or stuff we need to buy. I’m hoping that being on a list will keep them more in focus as opposed to just in the back of our mind and never getting around to even think of them.

There are quite a few things on the Life List that I still need to start taking steps toward. Like turning my year of photo challenges into an e-book – I still need to sit down and work on it. Little by little, even if it doesn’t have to be done in one day, I ended up avoiding this item. Not sure why. But I fully intend to finally sit down and start assembling the e-book.

However, as I read it the other day, I realized that I actually achieved several things off my Life List. Also, I achieved quite a few things off the My purpose for money list that I wrote four years ago, when I had a total of four jobs at the same time by the end of 2012. It’s interesting to me how many similar items there are on both lists.
I traveled more in Romania and saw places I’ve never been to, alone and with loved ones. I re-visited places I loved (both in my country and across the border), and wrote a few travel articles. I visited friends from Great Britain and tried a lot of new kinds of food while traveling. I made a couple of my home-decor ideas reality decorating our small apartment, learned a bit how to drive, and saw the fireworks in Budapest, Hungary this New Year.

My most important item on the Life List and also on the My purpose for money list was by far to “Earn a living being a full-time writer/Turn writing into a priority and a steady income”. And you know what? I made that come true!

With a lot of support from my boyfriend, and learning more, I am now a technical author and love love love it! I recall writing a letter to myself talking about this when I was only applying for the job. It leaves me creative enough to write on my blog, too, and is still about writing, and editing and re-writing, etc. which I love doing as a full-time job. It gives me the chance to sometimes take the afternoon for reading, research and learning even more about the field.
It also gave me the opportunity to travel to London. Twice.
It pays better than any job I ever had before and now I can actually set money aside for travel and vacationing even if it takes a couple of months to save up. But I am finally out of debt.

Sure Life still gets in the way of things many times, but it doesn’t bother me quite as much as before. Because I am doing something I love and it made everything else much easier. I am definitely happier and more enthusiastic.

So if you ever stop and think about something you’d like to do as it being “unattainable”, please don’t. Try to break it down to small, achievable steps. Take one small step after the other, and it will all work itself out.

2016, January 15

My Happiness Jar of 2015

In her first blog post of 2015, my friend Judy Clement Wall stated how much she loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s Happiness Jar idea, and that she’ll be doing it throughout the year. I read up on the idea, and here’s what Elizabeth wrote about it on Facebook:

What is a Happiness Jar? The simplest thing in the world. You get yourself a jar (or a box, or a vessel of any kind) and every day, at the end of the day, you grab a slip of paper and write down on it the happiest moment of the day.
Even on lousy days, you do this. Because even on lousy days, there is one best moment (or at least, one least-worst moment.
You stick that little piece of paper in the jar.

Over the years, you have a record of your happiness…

Over the years, my Happiness Jar has taught me much. What continually amazes me is what ends up on the slip of paper every day. Not awesome events, not huge achievements — usually just a small and tiny thing, a moment of awareness…that moment when you step outside and between the house and the car you get hit on the top of the head with a beam of sunlight, and suddenly feel awash with gratitude simply for being alive, and you think, “Yes. This is it.”

It’s usually something that small — and something that grand.

Don’t you just love that? In every day there must be at least one little glimmer of hope, love and happiness which lights you up inside.

Not wanting to put all of this into an actual jar and use up space in our already small apartment, I kept this online by saving a draft here on WordPress of this very blog post. And on some nights before bed this past year, I’ve been scribbling down something to add to my virtual Happiness Jar.

Here it is:

My Happiness Jar of 2015

  • An outing with friends is wonderful after a failed (for the day) sewing project.
  • Marshmallow Lattes.
  • Looking at pretty houses while walking to buy honey.
  • One nice word from a colleague trumps any bad-mood-causing remark.
  • A full inspiration board.
  • Toffee topping, my morning coffee’s new best friend.
  • Ponytails with a twist, I love easy to do hair ideas.
  • Looking up at my furry alarm clock, Pixel on the nightstand, after waking up.
  • The way the BF looked at me before I got out of the car to head for work.
  • Walking fifteen minutes off my usual route to get the lunch sandwich I’ve been craving for a week.
  • Watching the BF play with Pixel, laughing all the way.
  • Girls’ night out.
  • Getting a new friend’s phone number.
  • Cooking lunch with the BF.
  • Quiet time at home with Pixel, and doing a little bit of writing, too.
  • Laughing for ten minutes after reading a “Dog Rules” list.
  • Visited with my ever-so-crafty friends and had an awesome time catching up. Their home was truly in the Christmas spirit.
  • Dinner with mom.
  • Watermelon Lemonade.
  • Homemade salsa.
  • Picking up my fixed boots.
  • Pockets on my knitted scarf.
  • Became friends with lovely people.
  • Getting Pixel neutered.
  • Fresh orange and grapefruit juice.
  • A colleague greeting me with a Happy New Years hug upon arriving to work.
  • Laughing all evening with the BF.
  • The BF having my back.
  • Three beautiful earrings, a Christmas present from a very dear friend.
  • Quiet day in, cuddled in bed with the BF and Pixel.
  • Visited Sighisoara Citadel, and even though the guys weren’t interested, they waited while I took a tour of the Evangelical church there.
  • Had a Tiramisu and a Gingerbread Latte at Bibliotheque Pub.
  • Took sunset pics of Bran Castle.
  • Got a nicer phone.
  • Night-time, relaxing massages.
  • A surprise package in the mail, with the most beautiful angel inside it.
  • A new tea favorite, Lemon Macaroon.
  • Snowdrops blooming.
  • Although tired, the boyfriend helped me prep for the job interview.
  • Really thought of and believe I could have a career as Technical Author.
  • All the Christmas decoration fit back into the existing boxes.
  • Had an awful cold, but the boyfriend took care of me all day long.
  • Found/bought coconut milk.
  • Pixel slept on my tummy while I read.
  • I am now a Technical Author.
  • Took two trips to London (for work, and some fun on the side).
  • Followed the 52-52 Guide’s suggestions every week in 2015.
  • Read 10 books for my Goodreads challenge.
  • Read more than 50 training manuals which I also edited/re-branded for work.
  • Saw the Queen of England!
  • Visited Buckingham Palace – and got all teary.
  • Had a wonderful afternoon walk in Mamaia, on the Romanian seaside.
  • We got a new car.
  • Took several lovely road trips.
  • Visited places I’ve never been to before.
  • Had some great trainings.
  • Came in second in class at the end of the SQL 2012 training.
  • I won a prize at work, which no one in the Cluj-Napoca office has won before.
  • Got a raise and glowing performance reviews.
  • Tried a ton of new recipes and international dishes.
  • Found my mother a job.
  • Went on a short trip to Hungary for New Years.
  • Achieved several things on my Life List.

Did you make a Happiness Jar, either virtual or an actual one? Or did you keep a journal noting the good things that happened to you? What would go into your Happiness Jar today?

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