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

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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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Offering a Seed – Cardinals Feeding Rituals

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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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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

The Spirit of Aloha – The Lei Tree of Maui

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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.

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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

 

 

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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Uncle Willie’s Farm – An Excerpt from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirit about Heritage

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Today, on this brisk autumn day in the Midwest, I’d like to share a story from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits about my family heritage titled “Uncle Willie’s Farm”. The essay recounts memories of my first and only visit to the family farm. It’s by far, one of my favorites.

“Grateful for this experience with my family, I understand a little better this place called Uncle Willie’s farm. I can only envision the playground this farm provided for my mother when she was a young girl full of dreams.

I have come full circle with my heritage. As the noonday warms me from the inside out, an overwhelming feeling fills my body. My throat starts to close an tears well in my eyes. Generations have passed, yet I feel the spirits of those that came before me. I am walking on precious ground. Oh, how I wished I had been around during that era, even just for a day.”

“The ornament of a house, is the friends who frequent it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. I welcome any comments below. I’ll be at Main Street Books on November 3 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. signing copies, and doing a giveaway. If you liked this sneak peak, my book is available on Amazon, and your local bookstore Main Street Books.

Life on the Wall (Bloody Bay Wall) – Excerpt from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

Good morning everyone! I hope our neighbors due south are staying safe in preparation for hurricane Florence.

Today I’ll be sharing an excerpt from “Life on the Wall”, my diving adventure with friend Sheila and divemaster Zam, about the first time I cast a gaze on Bloody Bay Wall in the Cayman Islands.

Hope you enjoy!

“Keeping the wall as my visual landmark, I fin-kick and swim downward. Pressure builds in my ear canals. Pinching my nose with my thumb and forefinger, my cheeks puff as I force an exhale, clearing my ears.

I check my depth gauge, which now reads seventy-eight feet. Glancing to my right, I study the blue abyss. An immense Caribbean reef shark, sleek and gray, appears unexpectedly out of the chasm. I inhale deeply from my regulator, and hold my breath — an action forbidden in scuba diving. I quickly remember to exhale.”

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“The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are truly adjusted to each other, who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of mankind.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

 

The Pillars of Hercules – Sneak Peak from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

This sneak peak below was taken from an essay I penned for Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits titled “The Pillars of Hercules” – a dive site off the craggy coast of Cayman Brac, teaming with tall pillar corals and magnificent macro life. Our divemaster and boat captain for our adventure was Craig Burhart – also unforgettable. He lead our group from Chesterfield Missouri (Y-Kiki Divers).

Here’s the excerpt from “The Pillars of Hercules”

“Donning my equipment over my sleek swimsuit, I jumped in giant-stride from the dive platform. The tepid water temperature felt invigorating on my skin. With only ten pounds in my weight belt, I dropped effortlessly to the sea floor. Russell followed close behind. The sun’s shadows danced on the rocky bluffs below the surface.

While drifting along the crushed seashell bottom, in the distance, I recognized the regal coral described by Craig. Tall butter cream pillar spires swayed softly and reminded me of bottle brushes, flourishing with banded butterflyfish and hogfish snappers. Close up, their bristles were actually polyp tips that opened and closed.”

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Well, I hope that little teaser peaked your interest enough to visit my blog next Tuesday for a sneak peak at another essay.

For more about Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets click here. The book releases on September 25, 2018.

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

 

Grasshoppers, Roses, and 12-point Bucks – Nature’s Good Luck Signs

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Since last Saturday, I’ve been encountering glimpses of nature…things I consider good luck, even God things. The first sign occurred a week ago on a Saturday night.

A lime green grasshopper with fat lips attached himself to the outside of our glass storm door. Peering in to get a view of our big, wide world inside, he covered one of his bulbous eyes with a front feeler, (sort of like a human hand) to block out the bright light emanating from our hallway. His caramel-hued mouth was stuck in a ‘pucker’ position – like he was ready for a kiss.

The cats were mesmerized by this creature, and watched his movements cautiously. Six spindly legs, about as wide as a toothpick, secured him nicely to the glass.

Grasshoppers are keen to sounds and vibrations around them. I wonder what he was thinking about the cats chatting, the tv blaring in the background, and me talking to him through the glass?

The other natural phenomenon occurred while speaking with my friend Pat on the phone. As I peered out the bay window, I noticed a pop of red on my pink knockout rosebush. Upon closer investigation, a bright red rose was blooming near the back of the rosebush. How could this have happened? I felt so lucky. And the same thing happened again later in the week — another red rose blooming on the same rosebush!

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The third good luck sign occurred while traveling a country road near my house with friend Abby. Just minutes before a glorious pastel tangerine and violet sunset, we glanced to our right to eye a majestic 12-point buck whose antlers were in full velvet (covered with brushy hair and a waxy coating) resting in a field of tall, grassy-green hued soy beans. I had never seen a buck of such a sizable stature. He appeared confident, and when we turned to observe him, cocked his head slightly to the right, locking a gaze on us, unstartled by our vehicle. I wonder how tall this creature would be if he stood up?

I didn’t snap a photo of the buck; the moment went by so fast. I chose to treasure the memory in my mind.

The deer, a symbol of Chinese good luck, also means success, longevity and prosperity.

These three brushes with nature, gave me the energy to look forward with hope of good things to come. Sometimes, if we take the time to slow down and experience the small treasures in life, it slows our heart rate, fills our souls, and helps us stay positive.

“Each moment of the year, has its own beauty.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

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If you love nature reading about nature, oceans, and the beauty around us, my book Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets is due out in paperback September 25. It’s available on Kindle preorder here.

Take Time to Breathe – It’s Time to Slow Down

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I read a message on author/illustrator’s Sandy Gingras’  Facebook page who I’ve recently become acquainted. She mentioned how people are missing the point of beach life – simplicity.

A beach girl at heart, trapped in the Midwest, I can identify with her. All I’ve ever wished for is a little cottage by the sea. I’d be happy with a one room home to call my own – as long as I could spend my time outside with nature, the waves, the sand, and the sea.

But for now, I’m limited to beachy vacations to the South and Great Lakes regions.

As a writer, I get caught up in trying to check things off my daily ‘to do’ list, and often miss the little things in life happening right before my eyes – like the white-bellied plump squirrel munching on organic banana chips I’ve scattered for her on the deck rails. Or the black banded pennant dragonfly fluttering above scores of pastel lavender and eggplant-hued Cleomes in my garden.

When I take time to slow down, I notice the small things in life.

Yesterday, I eyed a Momma bunny in our backyard foraging bits of dried grass, meticulously moving the straw-like material from an old nest to a fresh one, in preparation for a blessed event! She allowed me within a foot of her presence. Nesting grass was tightly gripped in her mouth. I was overwhelmed by her beauty.

Inside the house, Miss Adeline, our Manx cat, was leaping windowsill to windowsill, vocalizing about her bunny friend, and dreaming about a future bunny buffet!

It’s these times when I slow down, my ideas and creative juices flow.

With that said, for those of you who love to travel, revel at nature, and spend time with family and pets – you might just like my upcoming book – Ocean Rhythms, Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets. It’s due to be published this summer by Ocean Spirit Photography. To accompany the essays, photographs will be at the end of each story. Cover reveal coming soon!

Have I started marketing yet? Not really. This is the first mention of the book.

Am I worried about marketing? Maybe. (Ha – who am I kidding – Yes!)

In the big scheme of things, I think it will all work out.

But for June 21, the beginning of Summer Solstice, I need to soak in the playfulness of the squirrels and the cardinals prancing about the deck rails, and listen to the words of Sandy Gingras —

“Take time to breathe”

Peace out, and love,

Sheree

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Feeding Yourself – Increasing Positive Energy; Decreasing Things that Suck Energy

Yesterday, I met a writer friend for coffee, tea and conversation at our favorite coffeehouse – Van Buskirk Chocolate Bar, Cottleville, Missouri. The conversation was easy, as it always is with this friend.

Serendipitously, another friend, who I hadn’t seen since in a couple of months, just happened to be hanging out, working on his laptop. I noticed him as I stepped inside the door.

We greeted each other with a hug and a smile. I asked how he was doing, and he spoke briefly about his new endeavor.

At one point, we invited him to pull up a chair and chat with us. I knew this man designed beautiful websites and inspirational videos. I asked for some marketing advice about our forthcoming picture book, Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat, due out in September (Amphorae).

It was effortless listening to him speak, and before we knew it, three hours had flown by. We agreed to think about his ideas and get back to him.

I bid my writer friend goodbye with a hug, knowing we would see each other soon – connected by a project and similar interests.

I also hugged my male friend and bid goodbye. But the goodbye morphed into another conversation. A conversation about being fed – spiritually, emotionally, visually and creatively – and the energy that accompanies those specific points.

He often suggested to friends or clients to reflect on their own lives by making a list to identify which people, places and even actions, feed energy levels, or suck energy levels.

I began to think about his advice in terms of motivation, focus and goals in my own life.

I quickly realized that my fur babies, nature, song, dance, art, sunshine and exercise are a positive force in my life. At different times, my husband can be positive, neutral and even negative. (Sorry dear) Certain friends are always positive. Some friends fall in all three categories at one time or another.

So, what’s a person to do?

Spend more time with those people that give you positive vibes. Hang out where people are uplifting. Spent more time in nature, if that’s your thing. Needlepoint, paint, draw – whatever lifts your energy level.

The opposite is true for things that suck energy. Decrease those aspects.

For me lately, social media sucks energy. Often times, it’s so depressing. So, I’ve vowed to limit my social media time to a minimum per day.

As a writer, it’s hard to get away from social media, altogether. It’s an important aspect of networking, connecting with readers, and even selling yourself.

Since nature uplifts me, I spent more time with the pooches yesterday walking our property. Normally, I rush right through it, hoping they will do their business, get some exercise, so I get can back to writing.

Yesterday was more of a ‘meander’. Sure, it took longer, but we observed nature’s splendor and noticed the small things along our journey.

Things like –

The way the sun reflected on the slightly budding, yet naked trees and caramel-hued earth in my favorite part of the clearing.

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The carvings in the smooth telephone pole, and shiny metal inspection tags left by the lineman over the years.

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Twisted, tangled, fairy tale branches, leaning into another tree trunk for support.

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A hollow depression in a log carved by some creature exhibiting ragged edges, wedged horizontally against a knobby trunk.

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The way my blue-eyed Pretty Dog pondered life intently studying the landscape.

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The wet, pungent leaves underfoot, and how Red Dog stepped gingerly to avoid the sticky Missouri clay on his paws.

Their noses to the ground, Red Dog and Pretty Dog explored new growth in the clearing, and coyote scat laden with seeds.

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Yes, this was exactly what I need today.

I needed to be fed.

I’m curious to see how you increase positive energy and decrease things that take energy from your lives. Please feel free to comment.

Peace out,

xoxoxo

Sheree