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

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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

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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

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

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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

 

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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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Staying in with Sheree K. Nielsen – An interview with Linda’s Book Bag

So honored to be featured on Linda’s Book Blog today in “Staying In with Sheree K. Nielsen” with my inspirational essay collection, Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits. Read the entire essay on Linda’s site.

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As we are now in that frantic run up to Christmas when time seems short and we can all begin to feel slightly stressed, it feels the perfect moment to be staying in with Sheree K. Nielsen for the evening to chat about one of her books.

Staying in with Sheree K.Nielsen

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Sheree. Thank you for staying in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

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Linda, I have brought along Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits– An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets. It is the most recently published of my three books, and shows how tender and positive adventures and experiences can be in life, if we just keep our eyes open to our surroundings.

(I think we all need a book likeOcean Rhythms Kindred…

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A Star is Born – Keeping it Real

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Last evening, I ventured out with friend, Dena, to the local theatre. I was eager to see “A Star is Born.”

The film, (a remake of three previous films), starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, was one of the best movies I’d seen in awhile.

Without giving away the plot, Jackson, a popular country western singer, is played by Bradley Cooper. Ally, (played by Gaga) a server at a restaurant by day, moonlights as a nightclub singer by night. The two meet, and well, you’ll just have to watch the movie for the rest of the info.

I loved Bradley Cooper’s character. His raw vulnerability and honesty is appealing, despite obstacles he’s facing. And dang, what a voice! Not to mention, he’s a easy on the eyes.

Gaga is amazing in this movie – her voice, her role, how she loves the people in her life. I’ll be honest, I didn’t care for Gaga when she first started out, many years ago. Even with a tremendous voice, the weird costumes, makeup, and stage props were too much for me. But the more Gaga stripped down and evolved, the more talented, and naturally beautiful she became. I even pondered if “A Star is Born” could be her story?

Two messages stuck with me throughout the film.

  • Hold close your loved ones.
  • Sometimes it takes time to find yourself/your dream, just to lose yourself, just to find yourself again. And sometimes, you lose yourself again.

It’s funny how some people hide their talents because they’re either too shy, embarrassed, or not confident enough. Sometimes we hide under a ‘costume’, whatever that might be, when all we really need do is ‘be ourself’.

In keeping it ‘real’, we’re transparent, raw, humble, and vulnerable with everyone we encounter along the way.

When we love ourselves first, it’s easy to love others.

Then maybe we can be honest enough to write our own story, with some help and trust from above.

Hope you liked this post. If you did, please feel free to leave your comments. In the meantime, get out and go see this movie!

Peace, love and sand dollars,

 

Sheree

Midnight, The One-Eyed Cat – How a Cat (or Dog) Can Soothe Your Soul & Inspire You to Write a Book

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The soft nudge of a cat’s nose against your cheek, the sloppy wet kisses of a blue-eyed Australian Shepherd on your eyelid – no wonder we love animals so much.

I have a friend that sometimes comes over and watches tv, and often tells me, “It’s so comforting to have your pets around.

Our big goofball (part Bernese Mountain Dog, part Aussie) loves to flirt, belly side up and wag his tail.

Our little girl kitten hops up on my lap, and snuggles on her grey security blankie.

I could go on and on about my pets, but there’s one girl in particular, who my husband rescued on a snowy, wintry night nearly 13 years ago, covered in motor oil, hiding under his car, who holds a special place in my heart. With the intentions of merely fostering, Midnight spent 10 days in the master bathroom de-fleaing, de-worming, and getting to know us. By then, we were in love with her sweet disposition.

Midnight, our black cat, just turned 18 years-old this week. That’s something to celebrate.

Something else to celebrate – she was the inspiration for the children’s book Pat Wahler and I co-wrote together, MIDNIGHT, THE ONE-EYED CAT.

For two years, I stared at a book title scribbled on a piece of paper, pinned on my office bulletin board. A book title that my smart, cute, clever husband came up with – THE ONE-EYED CAT WITH A FEATHER IN HER HAT.

They say sometimes if you write down your goals and read them every day, eventually they come to fruition.

The story, inspired by a dream I had, came true after I penned a poem, and phoned my friend Pat to brainstorm about creating a picture book.

A book deal and several years later, MIDNIGHT, THE ONE-EYED CAT, is available on Amazon pre-order, with a printing publication date of September 2018.

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The ‘real life’ Midnight, who loves her butter and whip cream, inspires me to be a better person every day. Yes, a ten pound, 18-year old cat, inspires me to be a better person.

She loves her canine stepsister and brother so much, she cleans them every day. And when I rescued a pregnant stray two years ago, Midnight adjusted her comfortable life to include more cats. (We kept two of the kittens.)

Real life Midnight is resilient, positive and confident. She ‘talks’ to me when she wants something, has the loudest purr, snuggles on your lap, gives cat scratch kisses, and holds her own with the other pets.

Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat (the book version) who is bullied by other cats, learns to be ‘the best she already is’ with the help of her best friend, Starlight.

I hope the real life Midnight sticks around to see the book version in print.

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Peace out and love,

Xoxo

Sheree

 

 

 

 

The Yin and Yang of Things….How Couples Complement Each Other

Have you ever wondered why your partner just naturally complements you?

According to the website, What’s your Sign, the yin and yang interact, and the good comes from the two being in harmony.

Coffee & ying yang.. Gotta love it!

Taken from Pinterest, Coffee & Yin Yang

The Free Dictionary says the Chinese symbol represents perfect balance. Yin is negative, dark, and feminine, Yang positive, bright, and masculine. Their interaction is thought to maintain the harmony of the universe and to influence everything within it.

I started thinking about this idea, and I discovered that my husband and I complement each other more than realized. I came up with a little chart to explore our balances.

In the food category:

My likes – His preferences

tomatoes – olives

pickles  – cucumbers

raisins – grapes

dark chocolate – white chocolate

salty espresso drinks – sweet espresso drinks

white meat chicken – dark meat chicken

Don’t need a recipe to create a meal – He needs a cookbook

 

In the life category:

I like to tell a story, he’s to the point

I’m a tree hugger, he’s a hunter

I’m a wanderer, he’s a navigator

I change my mind a lot, he needs a plan

I remember names, places & faces, he does not

I’m artistic, he’s computer savvy

I’m a light sleeper, he’s a deep sleeper

I need written directions, he needs a map

I would leave out parts, he’s good with putting things together

I’m sure there are many more ways couples balance each other. I believe the longer you live together, you develop a natural rhythm.

So this Valentine’s Day – the day to celebrate affection and love – take the time to think about how your partner balances you. It’s the perfect time to tell your loved one they ‘mean the world to you’. (I wonder if that saying had anything to do with yin and yang?)

I’m interested to know how your partner complements you. Feel free to share your comments below.

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The Spirit of Aloha

My husband planned a surprise trip for our anniversary, and presented me with the itinerary at my birthday dinner. We’d be traveling to Hawaii – three nights on Oahu, eight nights on Maui.

Maui garnered a spot on my bucket list for quite some time, and I was truly excited to visit the land of breathtaking landscapes and exotic flora. Along our journey, everyone we met greeted us with a warm Aloha – a Hawaiian expression of love, hello, and goodbye.

Here are some examples of Aloha I experienced while visiting the islands.

  • The Arizona Memorial – 1,177 men lost their lives on December 7, 1941. The somberness and quiet solitude touched me as I observed the oil still spilling to the surface of the water from the ship. Some say it’s the souls of the lost sailors. I’ll always remember the feeling that overcame me – one of emotion, one of loss – an Aloha goodbye.20170428_092710 oil copyr
  • Al Rodrigues, the 97 year old Pearl Harbor Survivor, we met outside the Arizona Memorial gift shop signing his book. He hugged us so tight when I told him my dad was on the USS Vestal that was moored next to the Arizona.
  • The wild, windy southern shoreline of Black Sand Beach and Makena Beach was a welcome ‘hello’ as we strolled the seashore for shells and photo opportunities.
  • A warm Aloha evident in the latte art in a cup of espresso from Bella Surf Café.
  • The exotic coastline, mixed with the cool evening air at Surf’s Up, a hidden gem and lookout point on a mountaintop. It’s so peaceful there, you can hear your voice echo. The sunsets on the west side of the island are phenomenal.

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  • Rachel and Anthony, a young couple we met at sunset at Surf’s Up. They were loving life traveling this great land, spreading the spirit of Aloha.
  • The white, friendly dog and smiling lady at Julia’s Banana Bread roadside stand along a dangerously, curvy mountainside street.

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  • The brackish cliffs near the Nakele Blowhole, and the untamed ocean.
  • The road to Hana with 617 turns (some hairpin curves) and infinite drop-offs.
  • The hike to the pristine pools beneath Twin Falls, and the way my body felt when I stepped gingerly into the midnight-hued cold water. The rushing sound of the falls was delightful.
  • The tangy taste of a Lilikoi tart at Kula Bistro.
  • The refreshing dessert, named ‘Coconut’ at the Mill House Restaurant. A mix of white cake, chilled coconut sorbet, and coconut meringue mirrored the look of a mini Baked Alaska, and tasted like a cool slice of heaven.

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  • Our farm to table anniversary dinner at Pacific O Restaurant while gazing at the sunset.
  • The fragrant aroma of eight varieties of lavender at Ali’I Lavender Farm high in the Kula Mountains.

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  • The foggy mist on the side of the mountain near the lavender farm.
  • The King Protea in bloom.

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  • The paragliders floating along the mountaintop in Kula.
  • The wind in my hair, and the sun on my face aboard the Trilogy catamaran.

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  • Ladies with plumeria, gardenia, and pikake tucked behind their ear lobes.
  • The romantic sounds of the Hawaiian language and their meanings conveyed through song.

These things and more, I find to be the spirit of Aloha for me – a lingering and everlasting feeling of love, hello, and even goodbye.

For Hawaiians, the Spirit of Aloha is a way of life – spreading kindness, compassion, and grace. Their values – ‘to care for, and do what’s right’. Sustainability to all natural resources is key in Hawaiian life – evident in the vegetation, the flora, the food, the people, the farms, the animals, and the waterfalls. I felt refreshed by the universal beauty around me, and invigorated by the friendliness of the Hawaiian people.

And isn’t that what life’s about — embracing our aloha, giving back to community, to the environment, and each other?

Peace out and Aloha,

Sheree

Love Letter to My Husband

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As I sauntered into the kitchen this morning in my pink robe and Chocolate Labrador themed slippers, I noticed a single piece of paper placed on the kitchen table were I normally sit for breakfast. My attention was drawn to the big red font on the signature line that read, Happy Valentine’s Day, from Russell.

Taking a seat at the table, I lifted the paper and read the words my husband penned. Countless emotions filled me – joy, happiness, thankfulness, gratefulness, love, forgiveness, and understanding.

Still sobbing, I walked the hallway to the bedroom and stroked the white-gray hair of my friend, lover, and partner for life.

I whispered in his ear, “That was the sweetest thing…that was the sweetest thing.”

Tears still flowing, I showered him with kisses. He smiled.

While I won’t divulge the contents of the letter, he expressed more than once, I was the only one for him.

Do you know how mellifluous that sounds?

You’re the only one for me.

You’re the only one for me.

Despite my many medical issues and lymphoma diagnosis, our difficult years of marriage, the passing of our animal children, and Mom’s dementia, he stayed. Even if it meant cleaning up Mom while incontinent during a dental appointment. I couldn’t do it. But he did.

Through life’s adventures, over land and sea – diving with black tip sharks, our first helicopter ride, visiting countless coffeehouses in this great nation, walking on a disappearing sand bar in the Caribbean, horseback riding, picnicking on the lawn of a home in Eleuthera with Cotton Bay in the distance, collecting seashells, writing an award-winning coffee table book – we experienced these mile markers together.

I’ve never had to want for anything, always feeling secure with Russell. And I’ve never felt lonely, like I did in my first marriage.

People, hold your loved ones tight and close.

Don’t be afraid to show affection – whether it’s a homemade card or love letter, a heart-shaped waffle, a phone call to a family member, a candlelit dinner, or a meaningful look.

Words and actions

can often mend hearts,

touch hearts,

bring hearts together.

Russell, I love you.

You are the only one for me.

You are the only one for me.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Now go celebrate your special day!

Peace out,

Sheree