Planting Seeds – Part Two – Hope in Bloom

 

In mid May, I found some flower seed heads in a clay pot that had been sitting in my garage for several years. I planted the seeds in two cute ceramic containers – one the color of butter, the other a biscuit hue. A couple weeks later, I checked on them, and they were flourishing…packed together in one space. (See my first post titled Planting Seeds)

At the end of May, I set them free in the garden.

On June 23, I snapped these photos.

Their daisy-like neon blooms of blood red orange, magenta, and tangerine brought a smile to my face. The intricate star-like pollen florets (technical name) and long spider-like stigmas were no doubt, crafted by God’s hands. I spotted my first monarch butterfly sipping their dulcet delight last week.

As I take respite in my wicker recliner on the front porch, my sweet little zinnias are always within eye shot. That makes me happy!

What are you doing to bloom this summer?

How have you found hope in nature?

Peace, love, and zinnias,

Sheree

 

 

 

 

Sheree is the author of four books –

– 2019 Royal Dragonfly First Place for Poetry, First Place for Fine Art/Photography, Honorable Mention for Coffee Table Books Mondays in October

– Chanticleer semifinalist Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

Planting Seeds

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From my front porch, the mellifluous sound of a steady summer rain rustles through the Bradford pear and maple trees, tip-tips on the leaves of a Rose of Sharon bush, and gurgles through the gutters. Rain’s constant melody reminds me of standing on a Caribbean beach, getting caught in an unexpected shower, water embracing my skin, soaking my hair, and trickling into my eyes.

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The morning sparrows and warblers sing their song in harmony, as if to ask, “More rain?”

A cool, yet warm breeze stirs the rose bushes, lavender and tiger lilies. If he could talk, I’m certain even the garden frog statue would say he’s refreshed.

I love rain, as long as I’m not driving in it. It reminds me of growth, and promise of new hope…a cleansing.

A few weeks ago, I found some old cone flower seed heads in a clay pot in my garage. Heaven knows how long they’d been sitting there – maybe three years. I planted the seeds in two cute ceramic containers – one the color of butter, the other a biscuit hue. I just wanted to see if they’d grow.

Well, they’re flourishing. So many of them now packed tightly together in one little space. It’s almost time for me to set them free in the garden…give them more room for those beauties to grow. This week, I’ll be replanting them. I can’t wait to observe their beautiful bird-like leaves and soon-to-be buds sky bound. I’m sure I’ll be surprised by their color.

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What ‘seeds’ are you planting now that will change your life…someone else’s life?

Seeds to provide sustenance to your family in the form of flowers, fruits or vegetables?

Seeds of hope in someone’s else mind? Seeds of kindness in their hearts?

How have your seeds grown lately?

Feel free to share you story below –

 

Peace, love, and sand dollars

Sheree

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Sheree is the author of four books –

– 2019 Royal Dragonfly First Place for Poetry, First Place for Fine Art/Photography, Honorable Mention for Coffee Table Books Mondays in October

– Chanticleer semifinalist Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

I Had This Dream – Rainbows at Night, and Shooting Stars

A shower of shooting stars burst forth from the night sky, like sparklers on the Fourth of July, and rained down from the heavens, and the full moon was so happy it winked.

A rainbow so big and thick, like the kind of orange slice candy with sugar from the corner confectionery you bought when you were just a child, reflected on the clouds, turning them Crayola colors of blue, pink, yellow, green and lavender. The clouds were rainbow hues!

People gathered in their back yards, standing in awe, snapping photos of this wonderful phenomenon.

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This was a dream of mine from about two weeks ago.  So moved by it, I felt the need to illustrate the images.  This is a rough draft. (chuckle)

Normally, my dreams are about conflict or mystery. But this time, the dream was positive and uplifting. I awoke smiling.

I’ve been seeing rainbows everywhere lately – on social media, on sidewalks, on my doors, and in windows of homes. Since there is a Full Pink Moon tonight, I felt this post was appropriate.

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According to dream-meaning.net,

Dream Rainbows represents hope, success and good fortune in the form of money, prestige, or fame. Your dreams and wishes may come true.

Rainbow at Night

“A rainbow typically cannot be seen at night because it is a reflection of the light. Thus, seeing a rainbow at night can be interpreted as divine interventions that offer you a glimmer of hope at the time of trouble. When you are not experiencing waking life difficulties, a rainbow at night can represent a perfect ending that you have wished for your own life.”

And according to spiritualunite.com

Due to the fleeting nature of shooting stars, their rarity and their associations with love and romance, a dream about a shooting star could also be a simple reminder to cherish the time you have on Earth with the ones you love.

But of course, these are just symbolism, and we should not put our faith in symbolism. We can choose to look at the bright side of the dream, and think that good things are to come.

In light of the world right now, and uncertainty of when the Corona virus will end, maybe it’s best that we just put our faith in God.

I opened my Bible last night, and a piece of paper fell out. On it was written Deuteronomy 31:6. I forgot that my previous life group gave me this paper when we met a couple years ago.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Stay strong, stay healthy, social distance, and be kind.

Peace, love, sand dollars and full pink moons,

Sheree

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Sheree is the author of four books –

– 2019 Royal Dragonfly First Place for Poetry, First Place for Fine Art/Photography, Honorable Mention for Coffee Table Books Mondays in October

– Chanticleer nominated Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

 

https://amzn.to/2wMXzeo

My Lymphoma Journey – learning to survive and grow during chemotherapy

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I recently found my notes on my first chemotherapy treatment.  Here’s hoping my experience helps those going through chemo, and their caregivers.

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In 2012, I was diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia lymphoma. Over the years, I developed anemia and a B12 deficiency. I’d save writing for the morning, as low energy levels rendered me useless in the afternoon.

My hematologist suggested chemo in fall of 2018 after my IgM protein levels reached 3300. (A normal level is below 250). Hemoglobin levels dropped as well. My hands fell asleep, and my right foot began cramping. If untreated, my type of lymphoma could progress to neuropathy and vision problems.

November 27, 2018 – First day of chemo

The nurses ran an IV drip of Bedamustine, mixed with saline, thus minimizing a burning sensation in the veins. Within a couple of hours, my treatment was complete, and I was free to leave. Hubby and I ate lunch at a favorite restaurant, and the rest of the day went off without a hitch.

November 28, 2018 – Second day of chemo

The nurses started Rituximab at 50 mg. After the dosage was increased to 100 mg, pain and bloat filled my gut, and the drip was paused. After 30 minutes, I was given steroids and Pepcid to ward off side effects from the drug. Anti-nausea meds were added to the drip. Another 30 minutes passed without issues. When the dosage was increased to 125 mg, within minutes, a headache, thirst, nausea and hot flashes ensued. The nurses dropped the dosage back down to 100, and left it there for the better part of the day. Later towards evening, they attempted to increase the dosage to 125 mg again, and reactions resumed. At 6:30 p.m., the on-call doctor, a striking Indian woman, looked at my chart and noticed I’d only been able to handle about 40 percent of the Rituximab.

“No more,” she said. “You’ve had enough for one day. Go home.”

The nurses flushed a bag of saline through my veins which took about another 30 minutes. Hubby and I were the last to leave the building.  Dinner was Bread Company drive-through. So spent, I couldn’t wait to get home.

November 29, 2018 – Third day of chemo

Treatment went smoothly with the Bendamustine drug – in and out in 2 hours, with lunch at a favorite restaurant.

That evening, I felt fine. I napped a bit, but awoke to the worst case of cottonmouth, and consumed massive amounts of water. I retreated to the recliner sofa, and once again, fell asleep.

Awakening with nausea Thursday morning, I phoned the hematology nurse for advice.

“Stay hydrated, and eat protein.”

I sipped homemade chicken soup and water. The nausea subsided temporarily.

After taking my gout and shingles medicine (for prevention) Thursday evening, I felt uneasy. I climbed into bed around 11 p.m. By 12:45 a.m. I awoke with excessive thirst, sweats, and breathlessness. My belly was extremely bloated. Drinking water to curb my excessive thirst, lead to repeated trips to the bathroom. Russell checked my heart rate with a phone app, which read 114. I awoke at 4:03 a.m., feeling nauseated. On a trip to the bathroom, I vomited water. So much water.

The soft glow of the entry ceiling light guided me to the living room. I settled in on the sofa, and sobbed. Russell, hearing my cries, sauntered down the hallway and garnered a seat next to me.

Stroking my sweaty hair, and wiping tears away with a Kleenex, he smiled, “Try and get some sleep.”

I shuffled my pathetic skeleton back to the bedroom, swapped my drenched nightgown for another, slid beneath the covers, and hoped to disappear like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Friday, 7:15 a.m.

A breakfast of Irish oatmeal, fresh raspberries, buttered toast and Ceylon tea seemed to satisfy. After munching the last bit of toast, I felt my belly swell. Nausea was constant, and I really needed to poop. Four days had passed since my last movement. I attributed my constipation to all the medication received.

Gazing at a reflection of myself in the bathroom mirror, I was unrecognizable.  Cracked lips, dry skin, dark circles under my eyes, were just a few effects of chemo. Had I morphed into a character on The Walking Dead? My anxiety railed off the charts.

I phoned the nurse three times in less than six hours.

“You keep asking her the same questions,” Russell mentioned.

Anti-nausea medicine was prescribed, which hubby promptly retrieved at the local Target. God bless him…this was his eighth trip to the store in less than 24 hours with my many requests.

Within thirty minutes of downing the pill, it came back up. I couldn’t seem to keep anything in my system. Sugary beverages made me gag, so I sipped hot tea, alternating with Kombucha and sparkling water.

By dinner, I was jittery and emotional. Adavan was prescribed by my doctor’s office. Yet another trip to Target by hubby…

“Take one now,” he insisted.

I called the nurse again and barked, “I’m not taking any of my meds!”

“That isn’t an option. Try and eat something, then take your meds, followed up by an Adavan.”

As I lifted the pill to my lips, I swallowed it reluctantly, followed by a drink of tea. Five hours later, the 10 p.m. news blared on the TV. I drew a warm bath for myself. While soaking, I reflected upon my experience, and prayed for better days to come. I headed back to bed.

When I awoke, the sun was shining, my head was clear. A new outlook, would bring better days.

“Do you feel better?”

“Yes. Much.”

“I’m glad.”

Just a bit of advice for those going through chemotherapy –

If you receive a cancer care packet from your doctor – read it. There’s really good information useful during your chemotherapy treatment and after. Ask your caregiver to read it.

Caregivers, be patient with your person. Whatever your loved one requests within reason, get it for them…at least for the first few days after treatment.

My husband was so caring, patient, and available through the process. There were days, even weeks, when I really didn’t know what I needed or wanted, but his support helped me figure it out.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But please, don’t get dependent on anxiety meds. Sometimes I just took a ¼ of a pill, or a ½ a pill, to take the edge off, a few days after treatment.

Taste changes after chemo for some people. It did for me. Meals savored on treatment days, I don’t care for – homemade chicken soup, pea soup, garlic, veal. I craved nutritious foods, baked chicken, broccoli, asparagus, raspberries, blueberries, red beets, kale, apples and celery – and still do.

Food like whole milk, eggs, or spicy, caused severe cramping for four to five hours after ingesting, or diarrhea. Yogurt, kiefer, bananas, tea and Tylenol aided in calming down my stomach during these episodes. The decision to avoid these foods until thirty days after chemotherapy treatments, helped cut down on instances. I now enjoy these foods, once again.

You might consider taking a break sometime during chemotherapy, if you doctor allows. My hematologist afforded me an extra week off in order to vacation in California between treatments.

We rented a beach condo in Malibu for a portion of our stay. Even though I was suffering from stomach issues, I spent time allowing myself to calm down.

The crashing waves, seagulls soaring overhead, the pier in the distance, dogs running on the beach, all took my mind off the lymphoma. With so many places to explore, hubby and I savored the drive along winding Topanga Canyon, spotted a coyote in the hills at Griffith Park, visited the Point Verde Interpretative Center, walked the marina at Redondo Beach, enjoyed the wild ocean while cliffside at Pacific Palisades, the comedy of Jeff Goldblum at the Rockwell, and the live taping of the Big Bang Theory in Burbank.

Best of all, unforgettable walks on Malibu Beach at sunset stirred my soul and soothed my worried mind. I was determined to remain positive during chemotherapy.

Lasting a full six months, with treatments three days a week (and a 24-day reprieve before the next treatment), six weeks after chemotherapy ended, I rang the bell at Siteman Cancer Center. I was in remission! See photo below!

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Here are some thoughts to keep in mind –

  • Be happy this day, and give thanks if you live a healthy life.
  • Be kind to others, because you never know what they’re going through.
  • Take joy in simple things….like golden, caramel, and creamy saw-whet owls you discover while looking ‘up’ at a log cabin’s eaves, the soft brush of a cat’s whiskers on your cheek, the aroma of a sugar cookie scented candle, sweet surprises from your loved ones (including the endless number of trips your husband makes to Target because you can’t decide what you want to eat or drink).
  • God has your back.

 

I wish you life!

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, recently won the Royal Dragonfly Book Award: First Place – Poetry, First Place – Fine Art/Photography, and Honorable Mention – Coffee Table Books. Mondays in October is Sheree’s 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, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist

Double Yolks? Pregnancy in your 60’s?

As I was crisping my bacon today in the microwave, the thought of scrambled eggs popped in my head. So I snatched the last two cage-free eggs in the frig, and proceeded to crack them in a cheery aqua starburst-patterned ceramic bowl. Much to my surprise, the first egg was a double yolk.

Curiosity struck, and before I could begin my scramble, I just had to google the meaning of a double yolk.

According to a bon appetit post on Gail Damerow, a prolific chicken writer, who operates a family farm in Tennessee, Gail can spot a double yolker without even cracking them.

“It takes 25 hours to make one egg,” says Damerow. “When a hen is hatched, they come into the world with a certain number of ova – it’s like a bunch of grapes that’s hangs from the backbone.”

When a hen is mature enough, ova grow one at a time until they’re the size of a yolk. Breaking away from the ovary, it moves through the oviduct, her glands secrete a substance called albumen (the white), and a substance to form the shell. An egg is born.

Typically, a double yolker normally comes from a young hen.

The article in bon appetit goes on to say, “If you find yourself with a double yolker, think of it as a gift of an amateur hen’s early work, like the joyfully scribbled drawings of a toddler but more nutritious.

Interested to find what symbolism or superstitions comes with a double yolk egg, I googled further…

According to the Encyclopedia of Superstitions by Richard Webster, double yolked eggs are believed to be a sign of good luck. It can also mean that someone in your immediate family is pregnant.

I doubt if I’m with child, as I just started my official reign as a geriatric – collecting social security. My niece is young and unmarried, and just started a new career. I have second cousins that are of childbearing age. Girls are you not telling us something? Keeping a secret, eh?

The spiritual meaning of a double yolked egg is they provide great luck and happiness. Chances of cracking a double yolker are 1/1000! I feel really special…sort of like winning an egg lottery.

Some people have even found triple yolks, and as many as nine yolks in one egg.

As I sit here feasting on my crispy bacon, scrambled eggs with dill, and multigrain toast with butter and lingonberry jam, I can’t help but think how the yolk is my favorite part of the egg, and today I was lucky enough to discover two in one.

Please enjoy my favorite key lime pie recipe made with just egg yolks:

Ever dreamt of a Healthy Key Lime Pie without the healthy taste? Your prayers have been answered! It's got the perfect combination of tart and sweet, rich and creamy, and healthy and delicious! -- Healthy Dessert Recipes with sugar free, low calorie, low fat, high protein, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan options at the Desserts With Benefits Blog (www.DessertsWithBenefits.com)

 

Mrs. Biddles Key Lime Pie

One 14 oz. can sweet and condensed milk

4 egg yolks

½ cup key lime juice (or lime juice)

Combine milk and egg yolks at low speed. Slowly add juice, mixing until well blended. Pour into 9” graham cracker pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Refrigerate for an hour. Serve with whipped cream.

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

Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, recently won the Royal Dragonfly Book Award: First Place – Poetry, First Place – Fine Art/Photography, and Honorable Mention – Coffee Table Books. Mondays in October is Sheree’s 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, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist

DON’T PAY A PUBLISHER TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK!

IF YOU’RE A NEW AUTHOR, WANTING TO PUBLISH A BOOK, PLEASE READ THIS!

Monday, I felt motivated to clean out the file cabinet in my office.

I ran across this document from a publisher from 2013. I have removed any information that identifies them.

If you’re thinking about PAYING a publisher to publish your new book – DON’T.

Luckily, I didn’t fall for this trap and relied on the wisdom of my author friend Sandra Carrington-Smith. She mentioned this correspondence threw up red flags and suggested I ask them a series of questions. They never responded to ANY of my questions.

This publisher wanted me to PAY them half of their cost (or so they say) or $5,000 to publish my essay collection with photos, Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits, and store the books in THEIR warehouse.

I’d have to pay them another $5 per book to get them out of the publisher’s inventory. WHAT? I’m suppose to do all this, and sell retail on my website. RIGHT!!

Look at the font in the first paragraph. It’s totally different than the font in the rest of the email.

This tells you I WAS NOT special. This publisher cut and pasted the body of the letter after the first paragraph.

 

Please, new writers, I implore you, don’t fall into this trap. Do research before signing any contracts.

You shouldn’t have to pay a publisher to release your book into the world.

I’ve published four books – all award-winning. Two were traditionally published – Mondays in October, and Midnight the One-Eyed Cat.  Folly Beach Dances and Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits were published under my imprint.

With that said, in 2014, I released Folly Beach Dances to the world. It went on to win a 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award and Art Category Finalist from the Eric Hoffer Foundation.

After receiving print samples from printers all over the country, I used a wonderful printer in Chicago (Publishers Graphics), a kickbutt designer (Kristy Makansi), and even planned an AWESOME LAUNCH PARTY at a really cool venue in historic St. Charles.

In less than 5 months, I recouped ALL the printing costs ON THIS BIG BEAUTIFUL coffee table book, designer, marketing and launch party fees and had turned a profit. And…it was my first book!

I relied on my network of smart, wise and creative people along the way to nudge me forward.

Looking back over the last six years, I can’t believe I’ve published four books!

You can do this! Just don’t fall prey to people that are just out to make a buck, and have no interest in investing in your welfare!

Any questions, feel free to connect with me at oceanspiritpublishing at gmail.com. Feel free to share this post.

#publishingtips #writersbeware #writingcommunity #authors #poets #selfpublishing #traditionalpublishing #marketing #bookdesigners

Peace, love, and sand dollars,

Sheree

Christmas in a Bottle? Keeping the Spirit of Christmas All Year Long

 

As my eyelids became heavy, visions of sugar plum fairies danced in my head. Within minutes I was lulled into dreamland, and into magical thoughts of Christmas.

What if you could collect all the good things about Christmas and capture them in a bottle?

Sort of like a ship in a bottle, or seashells and sand in a bottle…

But this bottle would capture the night baby Jesus was born, the smell of pine trees, Christmas carols, the way snow feels when it touches your face, kittens’ whiskers, Christmas lights…the feeling of Christmas in your heart.

And whenever you’re having a bad day, you could just open the bottle and sprinkle Kindness, Love, and Hope on yourself, or on all the Bob Cratchit’s of the world.

I thought to myself as I awoke from slumber, ‘Christmas in a Bottle’ is just a dream.

We need to remember to be kind, helpful and loving to others on a daily basis, especially to those we meet on the street.

It doesn’t take much effort or money to open a door, buy a coffee, start a conversation, give a smile or a hug to those you know, or even a perfect stranger.

So this Christmas, I’m challenging you to pay it forward every day.

Once you get in the routine, you’ll do it without thinking.

Merry Christmas!

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

Romans 2:10

“Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.”

~ Eric Hoffer

“Keep your Christmas-heart open all the year round.”

~J. L. W. Brooks

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

~ Roy L. Smith

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

Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, recently won the Royal Dragonfly Book Award: First Place – Poetry, First Place – Fine Art/Photography, and Honorable Mention – Coffee Table Books. Mondays in October is Sheree’s 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, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist

 

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

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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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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.”
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Peace, Love, and Sand dollars,

Sheree

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Sheree is the author of four books –

– 2019 Royal Dragonfly First Place for Poetry, First Place for Fine Art/Photography, Honorable Mention for Coffee Table Books Mondays in October

– Chanticleer nominated Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Finalist Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

 

https://amzn.to/2wMXzeo

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

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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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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.

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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

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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