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

Uncle Willie's Cabin by Russell Nielsen bl wh

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.

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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

What’s On Your Bucket List, Some Sweet Ladies, and some ‘healing’ books

jpeg-imag me and Kelly PEO

Kelly and me, at the PEO luncheon

Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak to the PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) women’s group at a church in Ferguson, Missouri. I was invited by author and friend, Deb Marshall and event organizer, Kelly Mazzacavallo.

After a lovely lunch of chicken and ham salad, the women gathered in a cozy lounge and settled in comfortable chairs to listen to me talk about “What’s on Your Bucket List” and the story behind my ‘healing’ coffee table book, Folly Beach Dances.

I shared with the ladies, that in preparation for the talk, hubby handed me a paper I gifted him a few years ago. The paper’s first words were “Do you remember when?” and reflected on all the crazy and unexpected bucket list items achieved in our travel adventures…like seeing the excitement in my husband’s eyes when we dove Bloody Bay Wall in the Cayman Islands, sailing a hobie cat from Sandals Negril to a deserted island, or even observing a ten-foot pregnant black tip reef shark on a dive in the Abacos.

Aptly named for the definition as well as the movie, The Bucket List, stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Complete strangers, fate lands the two men in a hospital room together. The men discover they have things in common – their desire for adventure, and a need to come to terms with their lives. After they are released from the hospital, they set out to check items off both their bucket lists.

At the end of the movie, Edward (the billionaire), living to age 81, has his ashes carried to the top of the Himalayas by his assistant Matthew. As Matthew gently places the container of ashes alongside Carter’s can of ashes, he takes a pen and crosses the last item off the Bucket List (which is to ‘witness something truly majestic’). Finally, Carter (Morgan) states, “I’m pretty sure he (Edward) was happy with his final resting place. Because he was buried on the mountain, and that was against the law.”

So, someone’s idea of a bucket list item, may be totally different than someone else’s.

That’s how it was for me when Folly Beach Dances was just an idea. In 2014, my idea came to fruition. I was able to cross ‘publishing a book’ off my bucket list.

As I spoke about the book’s mission of self-care, healing and positivity, the women listened intently.

I selected some of my favorite poems to read.

“Circle Dog Dance” written by Pat Wahler, reflects on three dogs laying in a circle on a beach relaxing, not a worry in the world.

“The Drifter” penned and photographed by me, reminisces about memories of days gone by and lazy days spent on the beach.

“The Fandango” – An old seagull (sporting grey hair on this wings, face, and body) who lives to fly, soar and dive, is penned by Marcia Gaye.

“The Twist”, about how often times life seems to be a mess of knots and twisted rigging (by Marcia Gaye). The Twist brought tears to the women’s eyes.

After time had run out, the women stepped forward to purchase books. I quickly ran out of Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits, my newest release, and Folly Beach Dances.

One woman stepped forward and shared how “The Twist” touched her heart, reminding her of a family member going through tribulations. We spoke for awhile, and I offered hopeful suggestions on how to make things better. Our conversation ended with a hug.

I thanked Kelly and Deb for allowing me to take part in this quiet gathering. The women where particularly sweet and seemed genuinely interested in my writing. My wish for the day was to stir some emotions, touch some hearts, and be positive.

IMG_1011 me and peo women

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

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Sheree K. Nielsen is the author of 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, Folly Beach Dances; coauthor of Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat, and Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets.

 

The Dolphin’s Dance – A gift from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits book release day

jb040702 (1) The Dolphins Dance Spot and Craig

Spot and Craig, photo copyright by Jason Belport

It’s book release day for Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, and I couldn’t be more excited. In the coming days, there will be giveaways for free books and Starbucks gift cards.

Writing this book was a labor of love. It was a difficult decision which essays to include in the book. That’s where Trina Sotira came in. An early content editor, she organized the book into sections for me, advising what worked, and what didn’t. Although, I removed some of my favorite essays, there’s always another book to be penned.

So here’s a sneak peak at one of the best days in my life, the inspirational individuals, and special friends I met that unforgettable day.

This excerpt is taken from “The Dolphin’s Dance”.

“Following a second morning dive, Big Sister revved her engine, and steered a course to our afternoon site – The Wreck of the Kissimmee, a Cayman energy tugboat well past her prime, deliberately sunk in 1982 to aid in the reef system. As the boat killed her engine near the northern shore, we recognized a familiar face portside.

Spot had returned for an encore. I clapped my hands in delight. The dolphin patiently waited at the surface for our group to re-enter the ocean’s warm embrace.

We dropped quickly to the sea bottom, where visibility was excellent – as far as one’s eye could see. While exploring the wreck’s nooks and crannies, Spot lingered in the sand flats close by.”

If you enjoyed the sneak peak, you can order the book here or request it at one of your local bookstores. Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits includes complementary photographs and Emerson quotes for each essay.

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

In Search of My Kindred Spirit – An excerpt from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirit

DSCN0299 Sea Dog Dance

Today my thoughts are with those affected by the hurricane. My friends in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, seemed to have fare a little better than the other coastal towns like Wilmington. So in honor of them, here’s an excerpt from my book, Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits, to be released Tuesday, September 25, 2018. Hope you enjoy it.

The essay is titled, Finding My Kindred Spirit, and it talks about finding a perfectly inspirational place some search for all their lives. I was lucky to find this place of calm about 7 years ago. So drawn to this spot, I return year after year…

“Two days later, on a radiant Carolina morning, with canteens and cameras in-tow, hubby, the dog and I, made our journey down the beach to the Kindred Spirit Bench from the 40th Street beach access. Along the way, we took time to soak in the sights and sounds – seagulls soaring overhead, driftwood wash ashore, and children building sandcastles.

Arriving at our destination, my carefree animal child with the ice-blue eyes hopped up on one of the two weathered benches aside her Earth Mother. We cast a gaze onto the flat hard sand watching passersby carefully select seashells from the shallow tide pools.”

Hope you enjoyed the sneak peak. The quote below precedes the essay in the book.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

Emerson

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

DSCN0300 Russell, flag, Kindred Spirit blkwht copyr

The Fix-It Man – excerpt from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

I missed my blog post Tuesday due to the launch of my children’s book, Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat. For that I apologize.

I’ve decided to focus on family for this next excerpt from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets. More specifically, my Dad Joe who passed almost 30 years ago, and the comaraderie of friends. Some friends I am still close with today…my LTF’s (or long time friends).

The title of this essay is called “The Fix-It Man”, and anyone who knew my dad quickly realized he could fix just about anything. The excerpt takes place in my first home. It’s about all the people that stepped up and took part in doing chores, readying it for my first husband and I to live in. The scene takes place after everyone is tired from a day’s work, and the evening begins to wind down.

It’s my favorite scene. I can still remember it to this day.

“The Fix-It Man”

“Upon closer inspection, I noticed a one-inch ring of barbeque smeared around the perimeter of Dad’s mouth. His sticky fingers grasped the ribs as he sunk his teeth into the meat, causing the sauce to drip, drip, drip onto the paper plate. I couldn’t tell if Chris was chuckling at my Dad’s infant-in-a-highchair look or at what he was saying. My father rather enjoyed laughing at his own jokes.

Later, as the bright tangerine sun touched down on the horizon, one by one, my friends garnered seats on the porch. Gathered around Dad like fireflies to a mid-summer night sky, they chuckled as he spun tale after tale, all the while savoring his scrumptious barbeque — pausing only to lick his fingers and tilt back a beer.”

I hope you enjoyed a little sneak peak from Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits. I’ll be posting another teaser on Saturday.

(Joe, the Fix-It Man) Me and Dad in Florida crop

Me an Dad at Silver Springs, Florida – photo by Mom

If you love the beach, nature, the ocean, pets, wild dolphins, sharks and family heritage, you can get your copy of Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits here.

For now, peace out, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

 

 

 

 

 

Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat is here! Happy Book Birthday!

Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat is finally here! Her book birthday is today!

Five years ago if you had told me I’d be publishing a children’s picture book with an author friend, Pat Wahler, I would have said you were crazy.

But at that time, a little seed was planted by my husband who made the comment that Midnight, our black cat, looked like a one-eyed cat with a feather in her hat, the way her tail plumed above her like a periscope when she pranced about the house.

“That’s a really great book title,” I said with confidence. “I’m going to scribble that down and pin it to my bulletin board in my office.”

He said, “Why thank you for thinking that.” Of course, I chuckled.

Every day as I walked past that bulletin board, I stared at the piece of white paper written with the book title written in blue colored pencil.”

Two years passed.

Suddenly, one morning I awoke from a dream I had about Midnight. I quickly grabbed my notepad, thoughts pouring out easily, and wrote an entire story in fifteen minutes. The ending and certain parts of the storyline needed tweaking, so I called my author friend Pat Wahler to collaborate on the story to make it perfect.

After querying agents and publishers, we received a response from a small indie publisher in St. Louis (Amphorae), who seemed interested. They mentioned how they loved the message of courage, confidence, and overcoming disabilities. Would we be willing to making a few changes, and resend the manuscript back to them for review? We agreed. That was three years ago.

Believe me when I say it wasn’t easy. There were at least six edits (maybe more) on this children’s book of approximately 450 words. All the while, we were hoping for a certain illustrator to come into the picture — Janelle Dimmett. We loved her style and use of color.

After Janelle was hired to illustrate, it was then up to her to interpret our story. Janelle also went through many illustration updates to coincide with the book’s message.

Fast  forward to today.

I am so proud of this book and the message of “it’s okay to be who I am, just the way I am.”

With the help of Midnight’s best friend, a three-legged white rat named Starlight, and a bunch of bird buddies, she gains the confidence and courage to realize she was already okay, just the way she was.

So welcome Midnight to the world.  Happy book birthday!

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Midnight, 18 years old, (pictured above) was extremely impressed she was the inspiration for this story!

Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat is available on Amazon, and can be requested at your bookstores and libraries.

midnight no background - 3d cover

 

 

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.”

26 The Pillars of Hercules, Pillar Coral with full view of banded butterfly copyr

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

 

Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection Sneak Peak

Good morning everyone,

In less than a month my book, Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets makes it debut (in paperback) on September 25. Beginning today, I’ll be sharing snippets of my book, (hopefully) posting regularly on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I hope to show the connection we all have to each other – every being, every creature, every drop of rain, every leaf on this place we call Earth.

This paragraph is taken from the Introduction titled “Wednesday Awakenings”. Enjoy!

“After breakfast, I scuffled down the hallway to the bathroom. Squeezing the Crest toothpaste tube, a tiny bubble formed, and floated upward. The small masterpiece remained airborne for what seemed like five minutes. I watched the bubble travel about the bathroom much like a hot air balloon adjusts to altitude. First up, then down, then sideways, toward the window, over the tub, and back towards me like an astronaut weightless in a space capsule. I stepped into the bedroom to grab my camera to capture a shot of the bubble, but when I returned it had disappeared.”

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I hope you enjoyed this little teaser. Stay tuned for another snippet tomorrow from a different essay.

Feel free to leave comments below.

Here’s the book cover, in case you haven’t seen it.

Peace, love and sand dollars,

Sheree

Ocean Rhythms eBook Cover Large

Kindle ebook preorder link here

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.

A Life Changer – Brunswick Christian Recovery Center – Teaching individuals a new way to live

When my editor at South Brunswick Magazine, Allison, asked me to write a story on a nonprofit – Brunswick Christian Recovery Center, I was a little anxious. It was important I convey the center’s message of hope. After talking to Joshua Torbich, the director, and hearing compassion in his voice, and love of the work he was doing, not just for the community, but for the men of Brunswick Christian Recovery Center, all my anxiety was laid to rest.

Here’s the three-page story that was published in South Brunswick last week. I hope you enjoy the message, as much as I enjoyed writing the story.

S Brunswick - Life Changer BCRC S Nielsen pg 79

S Brunswick - Life Changer BCRC S Nielsen pg 80

S Brunswick - Life Changer BCRC S Nielsen pg 81

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

DSC_0045 squirrel close up copy