About shereenielsen

Author/Photographer, 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, Folly Beach Dances - a 'healing' coffee table book inspired by the sea and my lymphoma journey. http://www.beachdances.com/ I'm a multi-award winning author, poet, and photographer who loves nature, travel, pets and family.

I Just Got Joy’d in Starbucks Drive-Thru!

Starbucks drink cake pop

As my Chevy Equinox rolled through the Starbucks drive-thru, I was reminded by two wide-eyed, whining, energetic dogs to order ‘puppacinos’. Checking my Starbucks phone app, I realized I had enough for a drink award.

“Welcome to Starbucks, what can I get started for today?”

“One venti iced cappuccino, non-fat, two pumps mocha, one extra shot of espresso, blonde roast, cold foam, please….and oh yeah, a chocolate cake pop and two puppy whips”, as I muttered to the person at the other end of the speaker box.  (I ordered cold foam because it was free. I never order it because it’s a dollar extra. In my estimation, the drink alone, came to about $7.50).

“Thanks, please pull around!”

Approaching the drive-thru window, two pups, with heads lunging out of the back-seat window, eagerly awaited their puppacinos.

Holding up my phone app to pay, the girl cheerfully stated, “It’s been paid for by the car in front of you.”

“Really?”  I said, as tears filled my eyes. It’s been a hard week, and this was a little glimmer of joy to fill my day.

Handing me my enormous drink, cake pop, and the puppy whips, I asked, “Can I pay it forward?”

“Absolutely!” she answered, with a grin that stretched from Florida to California.

As we drove away, I couldn’t help but think what just transpired – a simple random act of kindness.

We could all use a little more kindness in this world, couldn’t we?

I challenge you today to pay it forward, and let me know in the comments below how you Joy’d someone!

“Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”

~ Scott Adams

Peace, love, and sand dollars,

Sheree

__________________________________

Sheree K. Nielsen is the award-winning author of four books  –

Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, is her love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water. She’s dedicated the book to the Siteman Cancer Center Nurses who helped her make chemotherapy more bearable.

Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, based on her adventures (Chanticleer Semi-Finalist for Nonfiction Guides – Insight and Instruction)

Folly Beach Dances is her 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, a healing coffee table book inspired by her lymphoma journey

and coauthor of, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers

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Mondays in October – My love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water – dedicated to the St. Louis Siteman Cancer Center nurses

Mondays in October….Happy Book Birthday Baby!

July 30 – published by Shanti Arts, Maine

For me, this collection is about time, nature, art, movement, and learning to slow down. During the creation of this book, I was forced to take a step back and look at life differently. In November 2018, I began chemotherapy for Waldenstrom’s lymphoma.

At the end of April 2019, chemotherapy was finally over. As for life, well, I imagine things in a simpler light. I’m in remission. I’m grateful for a publisher like Christine of Shanti Arts who was both patient, understanding, and kind, throughout the book’s journey.

I’ve dedicated Mondays in October to my husband, my fur babies, the tango dancers Elise and Marco who I met on the beach that Monday in October, and the St. Louis Siteman Cancer Center nurses who aided in my longest days of treatment with a smile, a kind word, and even a joke.

The photographs and poems are places, people, animals…and nature….that I hold most dear. They are my gift to you…..my love songs for life.

“Like the cricket’s song serenading a marsh at sunset, the wind’s harmonies causing waves to lap to shore, or two lovers dancing the tango in the sand, Sheree K. Nielsen’s Mondays in October’s collection of poems and photographs suggests easy movements in nature, and a time for us to slow down… like October…and imagine a simpler life.

Mondays in October are Sheree’s unmistakable love songs for the beach and all things water – vulnerable, blissful, and sensual.”

Here’s a page from the book titled Red Dog’s Observations at the bottom of my blog page.

Red Dog was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his heart on Monday. We are cherishing our days with him….however many sunsets he still has….

This post is for him.

Peace, love, and sand dollars,

Sheree

Visual Perceptions – An award-winning poem from my upcoming book, Mondays in October

Good morning everyone,

Well, I’m just four days away from my preorder date of July 23 for Mondays in October, my poetry and photography collection. The book’s official release date is Tuesday, July 30, from Shanti Arts Publishing in Maine.

I’d like to share my poem Visual Perceptions, which won Second Place at the Missouri Writer’s Guild Conference in June. I’m including the photograph that goes along with the poem.

Please enjoy! I’m excited about the book which is my love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water. For more info on Mondays in October, click here.

Visual Perceptions

Secret Beach, Middle Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands

 

Visual Perceptions

 

The sunless sky

appears a misty haze

blurring

structures,

figures,

and natural

phenomenon,

beside the shore.

 

Sand

mimics the sea

as ripples

of white,

pewter

and celery green

intermingle

with shadows cast

by midday sun.

 

Clouds form

cotton candy pillows

tittering the atmosphere.

Seagulls

wistfully,

blissfully

soar above

the horizon.

 

My mind wanders

to easy days

and lazy nights

where campfires

linger

and glow,

conversations

flow

and time

takes

a much

needed

nap.

 

Peace, love, and sand dollars,

xoxo,

Sheree

 

 

A Thousand Sunsets…

Sheree's Warm Fuzzies

20170831_193551 R B S fishing

The last week in August, my husband, canine kids and I, spent four glorious days in Door County, Wisconsin. We stayed at a quaint inn with cabins in picturesque Ephraim, Wisconsin.

Marinas and docks dotted the curvy shoreline, and sunsets were spectacular. We set aside 90 minutes each evening to meander to the inn’s private dock, complete with white Adirondack chairs.

Four evenings brought lively conversations with other guests from the inn – a family with a young boy who loved to fish, a baby boomer couple who wiled away hours during the day searching for the perfect winery, a grandma with her children, and their children who gave the dogs repeated hugs, and a doctor and her husband who hailed from flooded Houston, but were afraid to check texts and voice messages for fear they would be homeless when they returned.

Just as the people we met were unique…

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More Peace and Laughter in Our Lives- Learning to Slow Down

20181030_112038 Blue springs

In September 2018, I was advised by my oncologist, chemotherapy would begin in November. Diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia in 2012, this would be the first time I needed treatment for my lymphoma. I wanted a diversion from life.

Last October, my husband surprised me with a trip to Blue Springs Ranch, a rustic retreat sprawling over acres of picturesque property in Bourbon, Missouri. Those golden autumn days were peaceful and serene…just the dogs and hubby in a tiny one-room cabin set atop a hilly, wooded piece of land. The only other souls at the resort were the ones that checked us in.

In the cool evening, we’d huddle around a crackling fire, barbeque burgers and brats on the grill, and listen to the sounds of the sleepy forest – saw whet owls, coyotes, song birds and crickets.

Days were spent exploring shorelines, clear creek beds, roaring streams, and meandering trails blanketed with leaves. The trees embraced us with their maizy yellows, burnt sienna, and caramels, while the menthol blue hue of the springs comforted our soul.

In January, we headed west to Burbank to visit our friend Colin, cameraman for the Big Bang Theory. He afforded us an opportunity to be part of the studio audience. During the taping, staff interacted with us, playing games and keeping us in stitches. It felt great to laugh deep and heartfelt.

After the show we were given VIP passes by Colin to visit the set. We plopped down on the brown leather sofa, and seated ourselves in Sheldon’s spot. We exchanged smiles and small talk with Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, and Kal Penn (from Harold and Kumar) and snapped pics for our Instagram followers.

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Afterwards, hubby and I meandered the set with Colin, our shoes shuffling across the floor, all the while listening to his stories and memories – bittersweet for him, as the show was wrapping up its final season.

I remember looking up, and eyeing all the metal and wiring – the lights and equipment suspended from the ceiling, and just thinking ‘how amazing’!

As we made our way to the exit, I spun around one last time, and let out a big sigh. We thanked Colin for an opportunity to experience something unique.

The next evening, we visited the Rockwell Table and Stage where Jeff Goldblum was performing. Jazzy piano player, singer, movie trivia buff, jokester – Jeff Goldbum was the whole package. More laughter, more tears of joy. The thirty-something gals in their skimpy outfits loved him, and he, in turn, loved taking pictures with these women. More laughs.

Heaven knows we need more peace and laughter in our lives…a chance to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life that we don’t often notice like….

  • the woman and her retriever playing fetch on a Malibu seashore
  • a howling coyote that blended into the hillside of Griffin Park
  • the quirkiness of the shops along Topanga Canyon Road
  • sunsets with rainbows at seaside restaurants
  • stepping in Gene Kelly’s footprints in front of Grams Chinese Theater
  • the Danish girl in the audience of the Big Bang set who worked in Finland and Sweden, lived in Denmark, and who had to ask her mom how to get to work every day

 

DSC_0342 coyote smiling S crop

These are snippets of life I remember…the feel-good, unexpected surprises and memories I never tire of, guiding and helping me through my chemo treatments.

My newest book, Mondays in October, a poetry and photography collection, my love song for the beach, and its eternal companion water, is a feel-good book on how to slow down.

Releasing July 23, it embraces art, movement, time, water and solitude. Won’t you hop over to my book page, and read all about it?

Oh yeah, I’m in remission!

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Offering a Seed – Cardinals Feeding Rituals

DSC_0167 male feeding female copyrDSC_0166 male about to offer seed copyr

DSC_0165 female eating seeds copyr

 

While preparing my Irish oatmeal this morning, gazing out the window, I noticed a sweet sight that brought me to tears.

Two cardinals, one male – crimson berry red, and one female, pale reddish-brown were perched on the deck rail. The male selected a pecan bit that I scattered on the rail, hopping back to her, offering her the snack – beak to beak. He repeated the process seven or eight times. Before he offered her the sustenance again, her tail feathers shook and ruffled. I couldn’t detect if something was wrong – was she sick, blind, unable to care for herself?

The resident squirrel hopped up on the deck rail, which startled the male cardinal, causing him to take flight, abandoning the female. She seemed agitated and upset – her head tuft was at attention. Looking around, she flew to a magnolia tree branch for refuge. Eventually the male returned, snatching a few pecan pieces from the deck rail, feeding the female.

I was concerned about the female, so I did some research online, and this is what I found  –

One the website http://www.sciencing.com, I discovered the male cardinal offers the female cardinal a seed (or in this case a nut) as part of the courtship ritual even before the two establish a nest. He will continue to bring her food before, and after she lays eggs. Males are especially attentive, and have even been seen feeding their young, in addition to other species of birds.

After the female lays the eggs, the male continues to bring her food, so she can remain on the nest. After the chicks have hatched, the male may continue to feed the female, and the young for almost two months.

The male cardinal just happened to be feeding a juvenile cardinal! I have never seen a baby cardinal before! (Compare my photos to this link of a juvenile)

Both parents continue to feed the young, until they can forage for themselves. This way mom can keep an ever-watchful eye on the nest. Cardinals are monogamous, and typically have two broods during their lifetime, building a new nest each time, when mom is with child.

I find this fascinating, nurturing, and so sweet. Shortly after this scene unfolded, mom hopped up on the deck rail, and daddy and baby bird flew off.

Wouldn’t that be lovely if our mate prepared dinner for us every day during pregnancy, and for two months after? Just a thought.

(Full disclosure – I have animal kids.)

What do you moms and dads think?

Peace, love, and sand dollars,

Sheree

Hop on over to the books tabs on my blog, and check out my publications! I’m in the midst of editing my fourth book!

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ALL DOGS SAY THEIR PRAYERS – PART TWO

My husband started a cute routine with the dogs awhile back – a prayer before their meals. When the pooches spot him with their food bowls, they know it’s time for dinner, but importantly, it’s time to be silent and listen to what Daddy has to say.

I tried my hand at this concept again this week at the beach. Food bowls in hand, I say a prayer at each meal. On a couple of occasions, our mini Aussie who knows how to ‘say her prayers’ even bowed her head in reverence.

My original blog post from May 2014 focused on the dogs being thankful for special things in their lives. However, I left one important element out. How could I? Let’s see if you can figure out what I left out.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this food.

Thank you for everything you do for us.

Thank you for CHICKEN!

Thank you for long walks on the beach,

new canine friends,

long rides in the car over the intracoastal waterway,

and CHICKEN!

Thank you Lord for the screened in sun porch at the beach house

to observe passersby on Main Street,

and CHICKEN!

Thanks to Mom and Dad for the trip to the beach.

Thanks for letting us lick the bottom of the cappuccino milkshake cups.

And most importantly,

CHICKEN!

Sincerely,

 

Ms. Brina and Mr. B

Salty Dogs Morning

Well I hope this little dog prayer brightened you day. I know it did mine.

We’ve got a few more days at the beach, and I’m sure the dogs won’t let me forget to put some chicken on their Purina dog food.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Sheree is the author of three books –

– Chanticleer nominated Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– Montaigne Medal Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

Her work can be found here:

https://amzn.to/2NDanYo
https://amzn.to/2zLgqFm
https://amzn.to/2zNuoq9

 

Dear Kindred Spirit…

This is my original post from the first time I visited the Kindred Spirit Bench. Can’t believe it’s been so many years now. We’ll be visiting again in May on our annual trek to Sunset Beach.

Sheree's Warm Fuzzies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMay 22, 2013

Dear Kindred Spirit,

It’s not a coincidence that God brought me to you.

In April, I visited Sunset Beach for the first time.  I heard how Bird Island was a hidden gem!

That day I meandered down the beach, and a little boy threw a bucket of water on me. His actions were followed by an apology…..by his mother.

Sitting on her beach chair, she relaxed reading a book.

We conversed.

“First time here?”

“Yes.”

“You should check out the Kindred Spirit bench on Bird Island.  People from all over the world visit the bench and leave their thoughts and prayers in the mailbox’s journals.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA salty tear trickled down my cheek.

Being here now is a peaceful feeling.  I’m sure it was meant to be.

As a writer, this spot moves my inner soul.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m here with new friends Jacqueline and Sandy who are so important…

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The River – Going With the Flow (Ethel + Robert Mirabal)

 

 

20190224_205925My long friend Tina, surprised me with tickets to see The River performed by Ethel + Robert Mirabal at the Blanche Touhill Performing Arts Center on February 24 at UMSL. I really had no idea what to expect as I’d never heard of the group before, so I settled into the comfy theatre balcony seats.

The River embodied the ritual of the Native Americans gathering near the water for events – the the birth and baptism of a child, a celebration, washing their clothes and bathing, among others. The river forged a sense of community among the people, as they would always return to the water, creating an essential spiritual role in the Native Americans lives.

Mellifluous sounds expressed through violins, flutes, and spoken word about how the river connects people throughout their life, was blissful solitude to hear. Robert Mirabel shared stories about his Native America heritage as well.

Their performance overwhelmed me with gratitude, and brought me to tears. For me, I felt connected, just being an audience member. At times, the music was so meditative, my eyelids felt heavy with slumber. I identified with The River’s concept that water is life – holding close to my heart trips to the ocean and the Great Lakes.

Waiting patiently until the audience had left, Tina and I were able to meet and speak with the group in the performing art center hallway.

I expressed thanks to Robert that the music brought me peace after recent chemotherapy treatments.

As tears welled in my eyes, Robert placed a colorful braided necklace over my head. The coral, crimson, maize, and burnt umber strands highlighted a pendant in the shape of an animal carved in wood.
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“This is Mama Bear. Mama Bear protects,” Robert smiled.

He lifted his left hand and interlocked his fingers with mine.

“Go with the flow of the River.”
_____________________

Peace, Love, and Sand dollars,

Sheree

___________________

Sheree is the author of three books –

– Chanticleer nominated Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– Chanticleer and Montaigne Medal nominated Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

Her work can be found here:

https://amzn.to/2NDanYo
https://amzn.to/2zLgqFm
https://amzn.to/2zNuoq9

A Gift From a Stranger – A Valentine’s Day Random Act of Kindness

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Typically, if it’s a warm winter day (over 45 degrees), I like to walk the dogs at one of their favorite parks. This Valentine’s Day was perfect for getting out of the house – almost 60 sunny degrees.

After visiting the post office to drop off a package, I steered the car in the direction of Heartland Park in Wentzville. This sweet park boasts a peaceful lake with walking paths, pavilions, a bridge, hens and drakes swimming, great white herons, and a waterfall dedicated to children who have passed on.

As we strolled past the ballfields, Bordeaux, aka Red Dog, decided a particular patch of grass was in need of fertilization. After collecting his ‘specimens’ in my designated ‘perfumed poop bag’, I tied a knot in the bag, and we headed to the nearest trash receptacle.

As I approached the receptacle, I noticed what appeared to be plant stems on the picnic table bench inside the quaint gazebo.

Upon closer inspection, a bunch of long stem ruby red roses lay on the bench. Surprised, my heart skipped a beat! For a minute, I thought about taking the entire lot of roses, but settled on two – one for my soulmate and one for me.

What a nice gesture, I thought. The stranger must have spent a pretty penny for these roses!

I gently picked up the fragrant beauties, protecting them from the wind by cupping my hands around the buds, while navigating two frisky pooches across the bridge and the lake path, and back to the Chevy Equinox.

After a stop at Starbucks for lattes, we headed home. The pups bounded inside the kitchen door, and I hand hubby his caramel-vanilla latte and a rose.

He was surprised, thinking I actually bought him something for Valentine’s Day. (chuckle)

I told him the story, and his comment was, “What if a man left them for his wife that had passed, and that bench was her favorite spot in the park?”

“Highly unlikely,” I said, explaining that “the stranger just wanted to bring a smile to people’s faces.”

I carefully trimmed the rose stems, and placed the lovelies in a nautical blue porcelain vase with white starfish embellishment atop my favorite beachy white chest of drawers to admire.

I recalled how seeing the roses filled me with joy – all as a result from a random act of kindness.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Remember to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Every. Day.

The hubster and I celebrated Valentine’s Day at a Great River Road winery admiring a magenta and cornflower blue sky as the sun’s reflections danced on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

Peace, love, and sand dollars,

Sheree

______________________________________________________________________________

Sheree is the author of three books – Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, and Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, Folly Beach Dances.

Her work can be found here:

https://amzn.to/2NDanYo
https://amzn.to/2zLgqFm
https://amzn.to/2zNuoq9

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Winter’s Kiss – A poem

Today in the Midwest, is one of the coldest in years. If we’re going to endure this harsh weather, here’s a poem I wrote a few years ago. It’s one of my favorites – Winter’s Kiss

Sheree's Warm Fuzzies

DSC_1210 1 Willie, Ruby and Rachel copy

On this wintry weekend, I remembered a poem I penned after taking a walk with my mini Australian Shepherd a year or so ago.

The poem stirred up memories.  It also made it to publication this year in Well-Versed Literary Works 2013.

Please enjoy.

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Winter’s Kiss

The cold kiss of winter brushes my rosy cheeks

and snowflakes drop like confetti.

Five gaggles of graylag geese soar overhead

north to south

in the hazy cotton sky.

I stand reticent,

listening

intently

to their cackling,

as if I were multilingual.

They settle in the field nearby,

graceful

as an experienced aviator

sideslipping a glider in for a landing.

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The Spirit of Aloha – The Lei Tree of Maui

DSCN1560 The Lei Tree crop copy

Last April, my husband surprised me with an anniversary trip to Hawaii. The second leg of our trip we spent eight glorious days on the island of Maui. Honua Kai Resort, on Kaanapali Beach’s north coast, served as our home base.

Each day, we’d venture out and explore a different part of the island. One of my favorite drives was to the breezy south coast. I adored the winding curves, the scenic overlooks, the wild surf, effervescent beaches, and aquamarine sea. Every so often, hubby and I would stumble upon a beach where driftwood washed ashore. Majestic trees, barren and seasoned by the radiant island sun, told their stories.

One such tree, I fondly named the “Lei Tree” , spotted near Ukehame Beach Park. Reposed on the western shoreline, her resilient, sinewy neck lay adorned with colorful leis – each represented a victory she’d won, a battle she’d conquered. She was a true, Hawaiian warrior princess.

DSCN1561 lei tree copyr

I often reminisce about that statuesque lady. Her memory makes me smile.

She represents the true ‘Spirit of Aloha’ – arms open, ready to love…ready to give.

According to the Hawaiian people, Aloha also means love, compassion, kindness and grace. Its literal Hawaiian definition is “The presence of (Divine) breath.”  Taken from Alo = presence, front, or face and Hâ = breath. …

In Hawaiian culture, the spirit of aloha goes well beyond a simple greeting.

It is a way of life.

At this time of year (and maybe even every day), let’s try and spread the Spirit of Aloha to those around us. Every one we meet on the street, in stores, our friends, our family…

Maybe our lives would be that much fuller, if we accepted people for who they are…..

Aloha, and Merry Christmas !

Peace, Love and Sand dollars,

Sheree

_______________________

Sheree is the author of three books – Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, and Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, Folly Beach Dances.

Her work can be found here:

https://amzn.to/2NDanYo
https://amzn.to/2zLgqFm
https://amzn.to/2zNuoq9