Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Novel Idea

"Boat Ran Aground" (Copyright Ralph Klein. All Rights Reserved.)
To purchase this as a print visit Posterlounge
I've run aground upon the dry shores of "appropriate" reference material. In an attempt to push my writing vessel back out to sea where I can catch the momentum of the wind, I've turned to an unlikely source for information and inspiration.

Popular fiction is not typically considered bona fide research material. However, in order to write a credible story for readers of all backgrounds, a writer must do a certain amount of research to write her story.

My current project with EraGem Jewelry requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of the stories of antique jewelry pieces and the people who wore them. Along my research path, I found myself browsing the library catalog in search of The Language of Flowers*, by Kate Greenaway.

A Victorian Era code book detailing the meanings of flowers during that era, The Language of Flowers* promised to be the perfect companion to Jeweled Garden*, by Suzanne Tennenbaum and Janet Zapata. Jeweled Garden has proven an invaluable source of information about botanically-inspired jewelry throughout history.

Flower Shop Exterior (Crysanthemums = Truth)
Photo Source: The City Sage

Though the Redding Library does not have a copy of Ms. Greenaway's book, I did find a novel with the same title by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I promptly went out and borrowed a copy, and it does indeed reveal a wealth of information about the meanings of flowers--an important foundation for me to lay, as Victorian jewelry designers often embedded coded messages within the color and form of each piece.

Not only am I learning about this tradition of sending secret messages with flowers and jewelry, but I'm also enjoying the story about a broken young woman's journey out of the foster care system. Having grown up without a place or purpose, Victoria is sent out into the world on her eighteenth birthday, seemingly ill prepared for what she will encounter. A few days of sleeping in the park lead her to Bloom, a flower shop where her unique knowledge of flowers and their meanings lands her a job with Bloom's owner, Renata. Soon Victoria's secret knowledge of plants begins to cause her customers to bloom in their circumstances. I am hopeful that she, too, will begin to come alive as she discovers her place in the world.

A Cherished Scene

"After three blocks I came to a liquor store, where paper-wrapped bouquets wilted in buckets under barred windows. I paused in front of the store. They were mostly mixed arrangements, their messages conflicting. The selection of solid bouquets was small: standard roses in red and pink, a wilting bunch of striped carnations, and, bursting from its paper cone, a cluster of purple dahlias. Dignity. Immediately, I knew it was the message I wanted to give. Turning my back on the angled mirror above the door, I tucked the flowers inside my coat and ran." (Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers*, p. 5)

Vintage Daisy Flower Brooch (not Victorian Era)
Photo Used with Permission from EraGem Jewelry

What I've Learned So Far

If I were going to give my daughter a gift of jewelry,
I would buy her a hair clip with a daisy on it to celebrate her innocence.

If I were going to purchase a brooch for myself,
I would choose a tiger lily to represent the queen I am becoming.

If I were going to give my husband a gift,
I would choose a potted Indian jasmine as a sign of our attachment to one another.

If I were going to plant a garden in honor of my son's birthing day,
I would choose periwinkle for the ground cover, tender remembrances.

I look forward to sharing more as I continue to read. By the way, if you've read Ms. Diffenbaugh's story, I'd love to hear what number you would assign it on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 = Couldn't get into it; 5 = Finished it, but wouldn't recommend it; 10 = I own it now). Leave me a comment with your rating and your favorite scene.

Peace & Joy,

*This is an associate link to Amazon. I will receive an associate commission for any purchases made through this link. I thank all those who are willing to purchase recommended books through these associate links. These commissions help support me as a freelance writer.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Holding a Piece of Time
Photo Source: Nicole Lee Artistry


What am I going to do today?

I have plenty to choose from, but nothing seems like the right choice. Nothing seems like it will make me come alive. Nothing seems like it will feed me, nourish me, teach me, strengthen me.

Nothing seems to dominate the mood.

I'd rather let go of nothing and embrace this moment. The coolness of the keys beneath my fingers. The tapping sound each letter makes as I spell out a word. My daughter's voice ringing from the other room, calling me to attend to her needs instead of to my own.

In fact, now I have a reason to rise from the deflating cushions of my leather chair, now several years old. Now I have a reason to stop my flow of thoughts and step outside of myself to make a connection with her. (Be back in a minute...)

And now, the sounds of blocks and Legos finding their proper places in the other room; the sounds of my children negotiating the details of cleaning their room. The smell of fresh air floating in from the open bathroom window, and the trill of birds blowing in on the breeze. The distant sound of my husband's voice as he connects across the miles with his best friend over the phone.

Today, as words fill this page, I feel myself smiling, relishing the richness of this moment. I am grateful for the mundane, for it is a wise and noble teacher. I am grateful for today. I will unwrap it as the gift it is one moment at a time.

What are the senses of this moment for you?

In Peace & Joy,

Monday, April 9, 2012

Know Thyself

Know Thyself
Photo Source: Intense Experiences
Personality tests provide a rich array of information about what makes us tick. Last time, I wrote about the DISC personality inventory, which I took after hearing about it off and on over the past six months. I talked about bar graphs in general and my red bar graph in particular. I shared the definition of two of the words that describe me on the D for Decisive scale:

Responsible & Inquisitive

I encouraged you to take the inventory and discover your own D words.

Have you done that yet? If not, CLICK HERE.

When you get your results, you will discover all manner of useful information about yourself. You might find that, like me, your approach to problems and decisions is forthright. You may find, as I did, that you usually depend on yourself to determine new directions you will take. Or, if you're not like me, you might find that you appreciate a lot of input from others before making decisions for change.

You may discover that under pressure you make swift decisions. On the other hand, you may learn that no matter how high the pressure is, you simply will not make a decision without enough information. You may discover that you will tackle long-term specialized projects with a high degree of persistence. This is definitely true of me.

You may discover, like I did, that despite believing that you have very little patience, you actually behave as though you have a "long fuse," especially at work. Be careful, you may be keeping that anger just long enough to set it loose at home. If this is true for you, it might be a good idea to stop off at the gym and vent some of that frustration before heading home.

Whatever the case may be, I know you will gain powerful insight into the way you make decisions, solve problems, interact with others, approach expectations, set your pace, and express your emotions. You may find a number of things that surprise you, and you may find some powerful encouragement to continue to be fully who you are in every area of your life.

Regardless of whether this is the first personality inventory or the hundredth (as is nearly true for me), I know you will find the fifteen or twenty minutes it takes for you to fill in your responses worth every minute. After all, the Greek sages warn that it is best to "Know Thyself," as opposed to allowing those on the outside to define you.

I'd love to hear two of your D-scale words. Leave me a comment including your words and their definitions!

Peace & Joy,

P.S. For a fun know thyself activity, click on the photo source link.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Who Am I Anyway?

Photo Source: Quantum Learning Solutions

I just took a personality inventory called the DISC test. My friend Sarrah gave me the link, and since I can't figure out how to share it with her and my other writer friends on Facebook, I decided I'd share my results with you here.

You can take the test here: FOR FREE!

So, the fun thing about this test is that it gives you not only one bar graph, but two: A results graph and a values graph!

I'm still trying to figure out how to save a picture of my results to my desktop, so I can't actually show it to you (any help would be appreciated). However, I can tell you that the first bar on my results graph is red, and it shows that I'm a medium D--D for Decisive.

Some of the WORDS that describe me on the Decisive scale are:



Yes! Those are two fantastic words.

MacMillan Dictionary defines RESPONSIBLE as "sensible, reliable, and able to be trusted to do the right thing," and INQUISITIVE as "asking a lot of questions about things, especially things that people do not want to talk about," AND "keen to learn about a lot of things."

Yep, these nail me! You can count on me to be just like myself.

Take a leap with me and jump over to the test. All you need to do is put a little information in the Get Started box, and it will take you to the test. It really is free!

Once you've taken it, pop back over and leave me a comment answering this question:

What top two words describe your Decisive qualities?

And if you figure out how to save a picture of your bar graphs, please will you share that little secret with me, as well?

Peace & Joy,