Category Archives: Non-writing posts

The Longest Wait

This is a poem I wrote 15 years ago during a time of poetry-writing in my life.  Some of them were not bad, some of them were not so good, but this was one of the fun ones 🙂  Just to explain one verse about being sick…when I was small I was sick with a bad cold or the flu every Christmas.  It was almost a tradition.

THE LONGEST WAIT

Wanted: Santa Claus

Image by kevin dooley via Flickr

by Sandra Bell Kirchman

The longest time I ever waited
Probably makes me seem outdated
‘Twas waiting for the day of Yule
And waiting time just seemed too cruel

It’s only 20 sleeps, she said
My mother dear who’s now long dead
You only have to wait that long
Before you hear the Yuletide gong

19, 18, 17, ack
I couldn’t wait to see that pack
Filled with toys and other things
Which made us feel like queens and kings

16, 15, oh dear lord
It’s not that I just want to hoard
It’s that it’s magical ya know
He flies the skies like driven snow

14, 13, getting close
I’m sick so pour another dose
Medicine won’t get me well
The only thing is Santa’s bell

12, 11, 10…now 9!
My cheeks a-quiver, eyes a-shine
Single digit days are great
But ohmigosh I still must wait

8 and 7, 6 and 5,
Santa knows that I’m alive
Doesn’t he, oh tell me true
That he won’t miss and sail right through?

4 and 3 and 2, oh, wow!
He’s coming any minute now
No, wait, there’s one more day to bear
But Christmastime is in the air

And now the countdown is complete
With all the presents at my feet
Childish laughter fills the house
What mem’ries as I click my mouse.

© 1996 Sandra Bell Kirchman

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my blogging friends and readers. Thanks for all your support and encouragement..

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Yayy, another award!

The Versatile Blogger Award

I am so pleased to have received another award, this time from my good and brave friend, Dorky Deb.  She is actually anything but dorky.  Instead, she is a mother and wife, full of good cheer, dealing with life despite the odds stacked against her.  She is also a wonderful photographer.

This version of the award The Versatile Blogger is one I have eyed for some time.  I’d also like to congratulate my fellow award winners.  If you’re interested, you can visit Deb’s blog and find her list of current winners there.

According to the rules, I have to choose five deserving recipients for the award and publish seven unknown facts about myself.   First, the new Versatile Blogger winners I have picked:

Tinkerbelle, of Laughter is Contagious
Zoya, of Silver Mists
Tom, of FORENSICS4FICTION
Barb Taylor, of Barb’s Blog
Girl on the Contrary‘s Blog

Congratulations to you all.  You have entertained me, informed me, and/or made me laugh.  You all excel at your writing and your blogging.  Thank you.

Now for the seven things you don’t know about me:

1.  When I was in my 20s, I won $100 on a Montreal TV game show called “Little White Lie” where I told my life story to the panel, and they had to guess which part was NOT true.  They could only ask me questions answerable by yes or no.  They didn’t guess correctly and I won the money.  I was so excited.

2.  I was the first live female all-night radio broadcaster (DJ) for CHQR in Calgary when it was a middle of the road music station (MOR).  My show was from midnight to 6am; since CRTC rulings regarding music mix didn’t apply at that time, I got to pick my own music.  I loved it, although I never did get used, after three years, to sleeping during the day and working all night.

3.  My great-great-great-great-grandfather (perhaps even more greats, not sure) was an Irish king, who was hung by a rival tribe for horse thieving.

4.  I wrote my first “book” at the age of 7.  It was entitled “Angus the Ant,” was five pages long and self-illustrated.  My one big regret is that somewhere in all the moves of my life, it got lost and never found.

5.  In the ’70s, ’80s, and part of the ’90s, I toured parts of Canada and the United States as an international lecturer, speaking on inner peace and self discovery.  It was a wonderful time of learning and sharing for me.  I met hundreds of great people and probably learned as much from them as they learned from me.

6.  One of the recipes that I adapted from a recipe I received from another gal has won the hearts (and stomachs) of all the men in my life.  If I want to prepare a special meal for my husband or my son or any of my male friends, I cook Newfie Noodles.  If anyone would like the recipe, I will offer it here.  It’s an instant hit with men (women like it too, but not as crazy about it as men, who call it “shovel food”) and very easy to make.  (Edit:  Suzicate asked for the recipe.  You can see it in my reply to her below.)

7.  For a good part of my life, I wanted to be able to whistle just using my fingers, but all I ever managed to do was spit down my fingers and make a wet noisy sighing sound.  My son, with infinite patience, finally taught me how to do it, and I was so happy.  If you want to hear me do it, give me a call lol

You Wanna Do What to My Memetastic Award?

Memetastic blogging award

Wheeeee, look at meeeee!

Yup, you heard me right.  Memetastic Award!  And I got one.  No, it doesn’t hurt…it’s a fun thing, a blog award and dear Dorky Deb passed it on to me and four other recipients, having received one herself previously.  Is there a catch?  Not as far as I know, except…well I gotta set out five facts about myself…oh wait, four lies and one fact, and you gotta guess which one is the truth.  I’ll warn you in advance that I have led a pretty…uh…exuberant life.  Okay, weird life.  And any one of the little gems could be true, but only one is…you guess which one.  Ready?

1. My mother was a talented and acclaimed radio actress and played in radio dramas in the late 1940s.  My father wrote the plays and produced them.  I once got to scream in a WWII radio drama and then was shot while being held in my mother’s arms. The scream scared me more than the shot did.

2. My brother was good at horse riding and showed me how to ride when I was 6 or 7.  He was training me to ride in the junior division of The Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.  However, the horse I was training with, named Gypsy, bucked me off, I got scared, and didn’t get my nerve back until after the Fair was over.  I never tried riding at the Winter Fair again.

3. My grandfather, a government surveyor, was surveying the boundary between northern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories in the early 1900s, when he was captured by aboriginals disgruntled by various Indian Treaties.  They told him the government lied and they would kill him if he didn’t change the treaties.  He did some fancy talking to convince them that he was a government surveyor, not a treaty agent.  They eventually, reluctantly, let him go.  He used to tell me the story as I sat on his knee.  I didn’t really believe him until he showed me the faded newspaper clipping he kept in his desk drawer with a bunch of other memorabilia.

4. How fleeting is youth!  When I was in my early 20s, I won a small beauty contest in Montreal…Miss NDG (Notre Dame de Grace), a municipal English district in Montreal.  I let it go to my head, thinking maybe I could reach the heights of Miss Canada and then maybe even Miss Universe.  Far from disliking the whole world of beauty shows, I loved it…the excitement, glamor, attention.  I seemed to get along well with the other girls, which made a difference too.  Anyhow, the next division was Miss Montreal…and I lost miserably to a lovely French girl.  I later admitted that she was prettier than me.  A lot prettier.  I didn’t even get Miss Congeniality…they didn’t have that award in the Miss Montreal contest.

5.  Motherhood agreed with me.  Every time I got pregnant, I seemed to glow…never got morning sickness and seemed to be spared the more common aches and pains in the 7th, 8th and 9th months.  My first child was born quickly, although I went through some pretty excruciating labor pains, but only for 7 years.  During the 2nd and 3rd pregnancies, I practiced self-hypnosis, and honestly, I’ve had worse gas pains when it came time for labor.  However, something went wrong with my innards, and the 4th and 5th babies were delivered by Caesarean.  I couldn’t have any more babies after that.  All five were healthy and normal.

Okay, of the five stories above, only ONE is true, the other four are lies.  You have to figure out which one.  Please leave your guess in a comment 🙂

Now for the rules for the five new winners of the Memetastic Blogging Award that I will choose shortly.

Here’s the deal with the Award.  Once you receive the award you must do a few things:

  • You must proudly display the award in a post.
  • You must list 5 things about yourself and 4 of the 5 must be BOLD FACE LIES.
    (your readers must guess which one is the truth)
  • And you must then pass this prestigious award on, to 5 deserving bloggers.

And the winners are……………

1. Michael of Michael’s Blog

2. Janet of AnimalsOurEVERYTHING

3. Haley of Soldiering Through the Writing World

4. Hobbit Queen of Miss Bee Haven with Hobbit Queen

5. Kristin of Fearlessly Nourished

Congratulations, guys.  Now get back to your blogs and…lie! 🙂

P.S. If you want to add yourself to the Memetastic Award winners list, here is the Memetastic Hop page.

Love Yourself First: Seven Ways to Have the Best Valentine’s Day Ever (Heart-Shaped Candy Boxes Not Required!)

Author: Bagande

Image via Wikipedia

 Feeling cynical or depressed about Valentine’s Day? Don’t, says intuitive psychologist Susan Apollon. Instead, use it as an opportunity to explore the meaning of pure love…and create a life of peace and joy.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and if you listen closely you’ll hear North America heave a collective sigh of resignation (from the couples who must run out and buy obligatory gifts) and gloom (from the singles who feel like hiding sulkily under the covers).  Many people dread this seemingly happy holiday more than a trip to the dentist. But intuitive psychologist Susan Apollon says not to look at Valentine’s Day as an occasion for enforced “romance” or mourning for your dormant love life. Instead, think of it as a day to celebrate the existence of love itself—pure, authentic, unconditional love—and all the rich rewards it brings.   

“Love really isn’t about hearts and flowers and grand romantic gestures,” says Apollon, author of Touched by the Extraordinary, Book Two: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope (www.HealingStoriesOfLoveLossAndHope.com). “It isn’t about who got who the best gift, or who has a partner and who doesn’t. Love is a way of living. And Valentine’s Day can be more than a reminder that someone loves you; it can serve as an affirmation that you are totally lovable, loving, adored, and special all year-long.”

In other words, let Valentine’s Day be a day in which you focus wholeheartedly on your ability to give and receive love. You don’t need to have a spouse or romantic partner in order to do this. You can love your coworkers, your neighbors, your pets, the clerk at the grocery store—anyone and everyone—but especially yourself.

Here are some steps Appollon offers on how to rev up your love quotient this Valentine’s Day:

Commit to Unconditional Love: To You, From You. It may be a clichĂ© but it is true: until you love yourself you can’t fully love another person. And too many of us beat ourselves up for not being thin enough or pretty enough or smart enough—and worse, we may even use the fact that we are romantically unattached (or in a bad relationship) to validate that low opinion. “This is tragic,” says Apollon. Whether single or involved, it is vital that you truly understand the value of loving yourself unconditionally. Self-love is the key to achieving all other love and finding happiness in its many forms. 

“There must be no conditions for loving yourself,” insists Apollon. “Being lovable and capable of loving is never about having a great body, a high-profile job, or tons of money. There are no strings attached to your adoring your whole self: body, mind, and spirit. There is only the need for you to view yourself as the exquisite miracle you really are. Allow Valentine’s Day to be a reminder of who you are. Love yourself first, because you are your most significant other.” 

If you’re wondering what love really is, Apollon says, it’s energy. Everything is energy, in fact, and love is one of the highest energies. So, when you choose to become your own priority and love yourself unconditionally, you will vibrate at an astoundingly higher energy level. The result is that you feel wonderful and life becomes a delicious adventure. Your love for yourself enables you to walk with your head held high and your heart full and healed. You’ll feel grounded, centered, and stable—and these good feelings will affect those around you.

Jumping for joy - © Wd2007 | Dreamstime.com

Get High This Valentine’s Day—High Energy, That is!

If you’re wondering how to reach that high level of energy, Apollon says the answer is simple: do things that feel good. You might buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of flowers, for instance, or a nice pair of silk pajamas, or a day at the spa. Or place notes all around you that remind you of how loving and special you are…that you are a Beautiful Soul…and that you are loved. It may seem silly, but it works.

Breathe in Love—Not Just on Valentine’s Day, But Every Day. Apollon suggests that each morning and evening you take a few moments to focus on your breathing in and out—long, deep, relaxing breaths—with the intention of helping you shift to a higher energy. Visualize yourself breathing in loving energy from the Universe. See this flowing into every cell and feel the warm, loving impact.

“Picture the Universe, your own Soul, Higher Wisdom, God, or your angels being present for you and feel their embrace—the embrace of love,” she says. “Sit with this and really feel the amazing warm, healing energy of this embrace. It is so powerful!”

Affirm and Visualize Love. Imagine that you are a half-inflated balloon. Most of us live our day-to-day lives in this love-less state of under-inflation. Now envision your soul filling up with love. Affirm your worth several times a day by stating silently or out loud: I am love, I am lovable, and I am loving. Your love for yourself enables you to feel the powerful energy of love even in your cells. As you make your affirmations, visualize these feelings of love permeating every cell of your being. You are love, and you deserve the joy of giving and receiving pure love.

Incorporate Your Own Strengths into Your Affirmations. You are a unique creation worthy of universal energy and love. Everyone is blessed with different attributes and a great way to fill yourself up with self-love is to remind yourself of all your fabulous qualities. Practice affirmations about your own uniqueness that makes you worth loving. A few examples are: I am passionate, I am a great mother, I am ready to be loved, I give fabulous advice, and I am full of creativity.

Face, Embrace, and Replace Grief…and Practice Forgiveness. The energy of love does not mesh comfortably with the energy of anger, pain, guilt, and unresolved conflicts or issues, says Apollon. Therefore, you must release any old grievances in order to vibrate on a higher energetic plane. Valentine’s Day should bring for you a reminder that we are all here for love and that love begins first with forgiveness of yourself and others who have in the past treated you poorly.  Face your negative energy and acknowledge it. When you are ready, replace old grief with love and just savor the vast difference this shift makes in your life!

If you need a mantra to help you release the pain that holds you down, Apollon suggests you say to yourself: I love myself enough to let you go now. I choose to detach from carrying you around with me, weighing me down and disabling me from moving on and having a good life. I forgive you and I forgive me. I am truly sorry but I must let you go. I surrender you to the Universe. I choose to be free of any attachments that keep me from experiencing the peace and joy to which I am entitled.

Release Your Attachment to Your Vision of Prince or Princess Charming. If you spend Valentine’s Day hoping for an engagement ring, seething with resentment that your partner forgot that you prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, or daydreaming about that knight in shining armor who will sweep you away from your dreary life, you’re missing the whole point of love. Your attachments to an ideal only set you up for a fall when perfection fails to materialize. “Remember,” says Apollon, “that real love (for yourself or others) doesn’t come with conditions. When you love unconditionally, you don’t need anything in return.

“We feel happy, we are lighter and unburdened when we release our expectations,” asserts Apollon. “Don’t spend Valentine’s Day hoping for roses, romance, or a note from a secret admirer. And married folks and those with partners need to realize that the person you love is not responsible for meeting your checklist of expectations for happiness. Instead put your focus on sending loving energy to everyone you know this day and every day. It will clear the metaphorical haze around you, so to speak and for the first time you will see and feel all the love you need.”

“Too many people use the fairy tale illusion of living happily ever after to define their inner worth,” says Apollon. “Know that true happiness can’t come to you in its many forms until you are able to accept it. Love is all around you and will manifest when you finally learn to let it permeate your spirit, by loving yourself and exuding love to everyone you know. Remember that love is what connects and sustains us all and gives life meaning. Living lovingly feels so good, and when you make the choice to do this, each day can feel like the best Valentine’s Day ever.”

# # #

About the Author:

As a psychologist and an author, Susan Apollon empowers and heals the body, mind, and soul; as an educator, she informs; as a speaker, she inspires and touches the heart.  

Susan Appollon

For more than twenty-five years, Susan has been in private practice in Yardley, PA, evaluating and counseling adults, families, and children who are dealing with difficult life situations similar to what she has personally experienced, researched, and written about, including cancer, other health issues, trauma, and grief.

She is an avid researcher of Mind, Consciousness, Intuition, Energy, Prayer, and Healing and brings this expertise to her three published books—Touched by the Extraordinary, Book Two: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope; Touched by the Extraordinary: An Intuitive Psychologist Shares Insights, Lessons, and True Stories of Spirit and Love to Transform and Heal the Soul; and Intuition Is Easy and Fun: The Art and Practice of Developing Your Natural-Born Gift of Intuition (co-authored with Yanni Maniates)—as well as to her audio books, online course, CDs, and MP3s. Susan’s work is scientifically based and enhanced by her ability to trust her own intuitive wisdom.

Susan comes from a family of physicians, which includes her husband, father, brothers, aunt and uncles, daughter, and cousins. Healing and medicine are a part of her lineage.

She integrates the gifts and challenges of having lived more than sixty-five years with the joy and satisfaction of being married for more than forty-four years to her husband, Warren, a practicing orthodontist, along with the role of being mom to her two adult children, Rebecca, an Emergency Medicine physician, and her son, David, a Management Consultant.

About the Book:

Touched by the Extraordinary, Book Two: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope (Matters of the Soul, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-9754036-9-3) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.

If you would like more information, you can pop on over to  www.HealingStoriesOfLoveLossAndHope.com or www.TouchedByTheExtraordinary.com.

Promise You’ll Write a Sequel – Book Signings (Part 2)

Book on left was edited and layout done by Sandra Bell Kirchman. Book on right was written by her.

You’ve done your homework and read Part 1 of this two-part article, right? So you know about the set-up. Your table is looking beautiful, with shiny new copies of your book artfully arranged, your business cards available, and you’re waiting for someone to appear. The shoppers start coming in, and you eagerly await a horde of book fans, all salivating at the thought of getting a signed copy of your book.

That doesn’t happen.

Instead, as they come in the door, the stream of customers part at your table as if you were Moses and they are the Red Sea, leaving you in this tiny island of you, a table, and books. At this point, don’t despair. It will show on your face and drive any customer, who accidentally stumbles on your table, away. You are no longer a creative artist (well, you are, but this is not your primary function at this point). You are a marketer extraordinaire. Even if you are normally an introvert, you are not here. I don’t mean you have to get up on the table and tap dance, but you must start making eye contact, smiling at people, chatting to them in a friendly way if they get close to your table.

If you have signs/posters up, people will start coming over to see what the fuss is about. Then you start talking to them. Here’s how I did it.

One lady came up and picked up the book (Witchcanery), looking at the beautiful cover, then turned it over and read the back jacket.

 Me:  Do you like fantasy fiction?

 Her:  Not really. What’s this about?

 Me:  (Trying not to sound too disappointed) It’s about Shelley Kesinkowsky,  a modern-day witch, who is hauled out of her comfortable home by the Grand Council of Wizards because of a special talent she has and sent with her former nemesis to save the world from Mother Earth’s wrath. See, Mother Earth is ticked off at the way people are polluting the planet and…

Her:  What age group. I don’t see it marked here.

Me:  Oh, it can be read by anyone 14 years up to 85 and more. I have friends who are in their 80s and love it.

Her:  I was thinking of getting it for my niece. She’s 13.

Me:  Oh, well, if she’s a mature 13, it should be okay. It’s squeaky clean, in that there is nothing suggestive or improper in it. It includes humor, romance, high adventure, and of course the magic of fantasy.

Her:  Sounds good. Could you please inscribe it to Nancy?

Me:  Could you take it to the counter and pay for it and then bring it back?  The store would prefer you do that before I start marking up their books. (little laugh)

Her:  (Little laugh) Sure.

I’ve won her over and off she goes.

Not all the customers are that hard to sell. That was about the hardest I had to work to get someone, who was already predisposed to buy a book, to actually buy it.

I have talked to hundreds of people at these book signings. They nearly always appreciate a friendly and caring manner. Well, friendly, anyhow. I tried to be helpful as well. If they came looking for a specific book, and I had noticed it in the store, I would direct them to it. On at least three occasions when that happened, the people came back and decided to buy a book.

On other occasions, I asked them (from signs I noticed as I was talking to them) if they were interested in writing themselves. I nearly always got it right. The people were touched that a professional writer (me) would take the time and interest to talk to them about their hobbies and their hopes and dreams. I was always encouraging, letting them know if they wanted to write, all they needed was perseverance. The rest would come.

Now, here is what I was told by the staff of this big bookstore. If I sold more than five books, I could consider myself lucky (yeah, well, it takes more than luck), and this was in a big city environment. They said that even some known authors didn’t sell much more than 10 or 15 books. I was blown away. There went my dream of big bucks at the signing table. Oh well, I wasn’t writing for the money anyhow.

And that’s what you have to remember. You aren’t really there to sell books. Remember I said at the beginning that you are going to have to be a marketer extraordinaire? But not for selling books…for selling yourself. For your first book, especially if it is self-published, you are going to have to get people talking about you and getting to know your name.

That’s why your business cards (don’t forget to hand them out), printed bookmarks if you have them, flyers and brochures are such great tools for getting your name known. People love to get things free, and readers generally keep bookmarks. They will have your name and the name of your book in front of them for a long time.

Well, where is the fun part, you might ask? I found it in talking to the readers. I love readers. Without readers, where would we writers be? I love them because they love what we do as a whole. If they like us, they back us, support us, cheer us on. And when they find a writer they can talk to, some of them pour their hearts out.

Sure, there are some who want to put their tippy coffee cup on your book table (ask them not to) or whose grubby hands gleefully page through a pristine copy of your book (nothing you can do about that unless they are rough with it) or even take your time talking to you and then walk away without buying anything. That’s okay. They probably have your business card, and more importantly they have walked away with a good impression of you. And you go away with happy memories of the great people you have met.

Just as an example. I explained what Witchcanery was about to a lady who loved fantasy. Her eyes grew bigger and bigger as I was talking. When I finished, she said to me very firmly, “I’ll buy the book on one condition.”

 “What’s that?” I asked.

 “You promise to write a sequel to it.”

P.S. At my first book signing, I sold 11 books. Only once in the many subsequent book signings did I fall under five books and that was because the book table was hidden away behind tall book shelves. One Christmas week I sold 27 books. I am telling you this to let you know that you can be a first-timer and still sell books. Also keep in mind that it’s not the number of books you sell, but the number of people you talk to. If writing is your passion, don’t let anything persuade you to let it go or discourage you!