Friday, 1 January 2016

My advice to you in 2016

Happy New Year!
My 2016 advice for you:

Don't let yourself have any regrets by the time 2016 ends.

- Travel somewhere new. If you can afford it, go somewhere you've never been before, somewhere where the culture is different from yours and the world is more colourful. If you can't afford that kind of trip, go somewhere local that you've never been before. Find out more about the special beauty that your own town or city displays.

- Learn something new. You are never too old to learn a new skill or try a new hobby. Learn how to do something you have never done before. You might find out you enjoy it.

- Appreciate your loved ones and let them know they are loved, not just by your words but by your actions. Do something caring for someone you love. Spend more time giving out hugs this year.

Tweet: Remember that the kindness you send out into the world will always find its way back to you.

- Live in love instead of in fear. Do something kind for a stranger. Stop making decisions based on the fear of what *might* happen, and start basing your life on love and service to others. Remember that the kindness you send out into the world will always find its way back to you.

- Do something good for the planet. Go out and spend some time cleaning up litter in your neighbourhood or at the beach, give to a charity that aids the environment, spend more time walking instead of driving places. Find a way that you can help fight climate change and then do it.

- Spend some time at the ocean. If you can swim, go for a swim in the waves. If you can't swim, just sit on the warm sand and watch the waves crashing against the shore. Trust me - it's therapeutic.

- Spend more time in nature. This world we live in is a beautiful place, full of its own special magic. Take time to appreciate the beauty all around you.

Tweet: Your appearance does not define who you are. You have a soul, a spirit, a mind, and that hidden part of you is who you are

- Learn to love yourself. This might possibly be the most difficult challenge any of us will face, but it's one of the most important ones. Your body is not YOU. Your appearance does not define who you are. You have a soul, a spirit, a mind, and that part of you, that hidden part, is who you are. Don't let others who can't see that part of you define you. You know who you are; you know your strengths and your flaws, and, deep down, you know you are worthy of love. Embrace this.

- Take care of your body. While it is only the vessel that carries your soul, it can get sick and it can break down much earlier in life if it is not taken care of properly. So only put food into it that strengthens it and nourishes it, and make sure to exercise your body on a regular basis.

- Pursue your dreams. Don't let society tell you what dreams you should and shouldn't have. If your dreams don't hurt anyone else, then by all means, go after them. Start by taking small steps towards them and build from there.

- Create something. Whether it's art, crafts, the written word or something else entirely, be creative this year. It nurtures your soul, and, sometimes, it helps nurture the souls of others too.

- Be silly. Spend some time just being silly. Let yourself be taken over by a fit of the giggles, make corny jokes, and laugh a lot. Laughter improves your quality of life.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

"Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales" is available in print!

Our book, "Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales," created by members of the Chapter Book Challenge is available in print now!

We are all very excited about this!

From the blurb:

"With stories to enchant readers of all ages, these fairy tales pull you into their own magical worlds. From twists on the classic fairy tales of old to completely new fairy tales, let these charming stories sweep you away into the realm of fantasy. With 35 stories, including two poems, written by 21 different authors, Teapot Tales is a wonderful collection of short stories, each story just long enough to enjoy with a cup of tea."

Go and buy your copy now! This anthology of  fairy tales makes a great gift!

If you are in the US, order here.

If you are in the UK (and/or would like a copy with British spelling), order here.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

"Doodle Your Heart Out" and "The Little Book of Doodles" pattern coloring books are out now!

I have two new pattern coloring books that are available! I've created 50 pages of doodles, from simple to complex, for kids to color. I've included some pages for kids to create their own doodles. The books are the same inside, but the "Little Book of Doodles" is a small 6 x 9 version, making it easier to take with you when you are on the go, or to fit into Christmas stockings, and the "Doodle Your Heart Out" book is a full-sized 8 x 10 book, making it easier for kids to take their time coloring in the shapes and patterns. The larger size is also better for younger children.

Here's what the covers look like:

And here is a preview of some of the pages you will find inside the books:

Here's a photo of the two books together so you can get a better idea of the size difference:

The prices aren't too bad either. In the US, the "Little Book of Doodles" will cost $3.79, and it will cost£2.85 in the UK. The larger "Doodle Your Heart Out" book will only cost $4.89 in the US and £2.99 in the UK.  My kids are already having fun coloring in these!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

"Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales" is available for Kindle!

"Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales" is available to buy for your Kindle now. I now know how much work is involved in preparing an anthology of stories written by different people. It's a ton of work, but I am looking forward to doing it again next year. (I'll be doing it again later this month when I put together the anthology for the Creating a Female Superhero Challenge.)

This beautiful cover is created by Kelly McDonald who also has a story in the anthology.

This anthology holds an entertaining collection of fairy tales, from twists on the classics to completely new stories to enchant readers of any age.

All the proceeds from sales of the Teapot Tales anthology will be going towards the Chapter Book Challenge, helping keep it free for everyone to join.

Look for the print version to become available sometime in September. I'll be sure to let you know here when it happens.

Now, go get your Kindle copy of Teapot Tales now!

US version                                 

UK version

Friday, 10 December 2010

Teaching Our Children To Have The Courage To Dream


Very few people have the courage to live life to its fullest. Very few people are willing to take risks in life. Very few people are actively striving to reach for the dreams that they hold deep in their hearts. But there are a few. What is it, exactly, that those few have that makes them different from the rest? What makes them keep trying? What keeps them from settling for less like so many other people do? And if you had to choose whether or not your child would be the type to sit back and settle in life for whatever he was given or would be the type to reach out and take few risks and grab for his dream, which would you choose?

Most of us would say that we want our children to dream and to believe that they can make those dreams come true. Most of us want our children to reach for their dreams. Most of us want our children to set themselves goals and then work towards making those goals a reality. But if we are not living our dream, how are we supposed to teach our children the importance of living their dreams? If we have given up on our dreams, how are we supposed to teach our children not to give up on theirs?

The best way we can teach our children to reach for their dreams, to make goals and achieve them, is by doing so ourselves. Dreams don’t always have to be about careers. Some dreams are very different from that. And how we, as parents, achieve them, teaches our children some important lessons about life.

An overweight mother might dream of losing weight. By taking steps toward being healthier and losing the weight, she would show her child the importance of setting goals and reaching them. If she loses the weight in an unhealthy manner, the weight loss is not likely to be a lasting one, and the child will only learn to go for the quick and easy route or that reaching goals isn’t really all that likely or lasting. But if the mother loses the weight by eating healthily and adding in some moderate exercise to her daily routine, her weight loss will be healthier and more lasting. From this, her child will learn that setting goals can be productive and that it takes time, effort and commitment to meet those goals.

A hard working dad might hate his 9 to 5 job. He might have dreamed about writing a novel ever since he was a child. By continuing to work at his 9 to 5 job, without giving any outlet to his writing dream, he is showing his daughter that it’s better to take what you’re given and accept your lot in life. He will teach her to settle. But if, on the weekends, he writes short stories for magazines and writes a bit more of his novel, he is showing her that it is important not to give up on your dreams. If he actively researches what it will take to find an editor and literary agent, joins writing clubs and continues feeding his dream of writing by taking positive steps towards it, he teaches his daughter that it is worth the effort to work towards your dreams.

A hardworking mom might be unhappy in her current position at work. She might dream of moving higher up the ladder in her profession, but she lacks the education required to do so. If she just accepts that this is as good as it can be for her, then she teaches her child to settle. She teaches her child to give up. But if instead, she starts taking some night courses that will help her eventually get the required education that she needs in order to get a promotion, then her son sees a better example. Her son sees her not giving up. Her child will learn that education is important and that it is important to obtain whatever learning is needed for reaching our dreams.

A dad might have lost his job and be looking for a new one. He might let himself get depressed and mope about the loss of his job. From this, his child would learn about self-pity. If instead, the dad never loses faith in himself and never loses the belief that he will find another job, so he keeps putting himself out there for interviews, then his child learns that it is important to believe in yourself if you want to reach your dreams.

These are just random examples of how people raising families can not just reach for their own dreams but can also be an example of doing so to their children, but there are many different scenarios that will still teach our children to value goal-setting. If we want our children to believe that they can attain their dreams, we have to believe it for ourselves. Children learn from us, not just from what we say but from what we do.

What is it that makes those few people with the courage to take risks and reach for their dreams different from the rest? What is it that makes them keep working towards their dreams? What is it that makes them keep taking step after step towards reaching their dreams no matter what obstacles stand in their way? It’s actually quite simple. They don’t give up. No matter what stands in their way or what seems to be making the task seem impossible, they keep working for it. They believe in themselves and in their dreams. They ignore the people who tell them it can’t be done. They think positively about the outcome of all of their work. They know in their hearts that they will obtain their dreams. They picture themselves reaching their goals. And we have to believe it for ourselves too, if we want to teach it to our children.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Ten Ways to Exercise With Your Child


This is an article I wrote for Beverly Hills Child Magazine in their September 2010 issue.

As parents, we can be full of excuses for why we aren’t getting enough exercise. One of those excuses, often enough, is our children. We say that we don’t have enough time to exercise because our children take up so much of our time. We complain that we don’t get enough time to spend with our children as it is so how are we supposed to give some of that time up in order to go to a gym?

But we aren’t the only ones for whom getting enough exercise is important. Obesity is becoming a growing epidemic in many first world countries, and it is up to us as parents, to make sure that our children don’t become one of those statistics.

So how do we give up the excuses and make sure that we, and our children, get enough exercise? Here are ten suggestions.

1. Take your child on a picnic at the park. Bring along healthy snacks. Picnics at the park are the perfect environment for playing, running and being active.

2. Take nature walks with your child. Children love to go for walks and try to spot different animals and birds along the way. It’s also a great way to spend some real quality time with your child while she talks to you.

3. Dance with your child. Turn on the radio or find a music channel on the television and let yourself be silly. It will get your child moving and also create a wonderful memory for your child in the process.

4. Plant a garden with your child. Digging in the soil, watering the plants, pulling weeds and pruning the plants is all physical activity that helps to raise the heart rate and makes a great way to exercise while helping the environment and, if growing your own fruit and vegetables, saving money too.

5. Play ball with your child. Something as simple as throwing a ball back and forth with your child is a great way to get him exercising without him even realizing that he is doing any.

6. Sign you and your child up to learn something new such as dance or karate. These clubs are great ways to exercise while learning a new skill and spending time with your child.

7. Have your child join a sports team such as soccer or baseball. Team sports are a great way for kids to get some exercise. Many team sports allow parents to volunteer as coaches, team moms or just to help out during practices, and going to your child’s games will show your child you support her. Don’t just sit and watch her play though. Follow your child up and down the field from the sidelines and cheer for her!

8. Walk your child to and from school each day. Walking your child to school each morning is a great way to spend some time with your child before the school and workday begins, and you will also get to hear about your child’s day while walking home. Not only that, but by not driving, you will be cutting down on pollution and creating less traffic congestion near the school.

9. Take your child swimming. Not everyone has a pool in their backyard, but there are many public places where you and your child can go swimming. If neither of you know how, then you can take lessons together. Swimming is a fun way to get some exercise that works out the whole body.

10. Just play. Kids love it when a parent is willing to run around and play games with them. Play a game of tag or “Duck, Duck, Goose.” There are so many children’s games that will get both of you active. Just get out there and PLAY!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Finding Magic In Everyday Life

Stanton Park 18 Sept 2010

There are so many reasons to be happy in this life, and there are so many miracles that happen on a daily basis and in even the most ordinary of lives. It's important that we each take the time to cherish the beauty that this world holds for us and to appreciate the magic that each new day holds. There are several things you can do to help yourself find magic in your everyday life.

Open your eyes to the beauty that lives in the world all around you. Whether it is by noticing the first rays of a new morning or seeing the fresh morning dew sparkling in the sunshine, you can begin your day enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds you. And soaking in the sight of the golden rays and pink cotton clouds of sunset can bring you a new appreciation of the natural majesty held within this world. There are numerous sights that you see throughout each day that are wonderful examples of the beauty and magic all around.

Listen carefully to the joy and peace that comes with the sounds that surround you each day. From the magic of a child's laughter to the thunderous sound of waves crashing against a sandy beach, there are sounds everywhere that can evoke rich and deep emotions within you. Maybe you like listening to thunder storms or to the sound of rain as it patters against the windows. Or maybe you love to listen to music. This world we live in is full of wonderous and enchanting sounds.

Embrace the diverse sensations that you can feel with the variety of different textures in this world and how they feel against your skin. Luxuriate in a hot, soothing bath until your skin turns pink and the tips of your fingers wrinkle. Swim in a pool and feel the cool, wet water as you glide through it. Hug your son or daughter close and feel the warmth of his or her little arms around you. Lie between silk sheets on your bed at night. There are so many wonderful things that you can touch and experience against your skin every day.

Stop to smell the roses, or for that matter, to smell anything with a rich, wonderful aroma. Different smells can evoke emotions in us as they can be associated in our minds with different memories. And some smells are just enjoyable to each of us for different reasons. Let the rich aroma of a freshly brewed pot of coffee help you start your day each morning. Or fill your bath with scented soap and bubbles. Bake a vanilla cake and let the scent of the vanilla fill your kitchen. There are so many ways to find the everyday magic in your sense of smell.

Taste the delightfulness that this world has to offer with a variety of different foods. From the juicy, natural sweetness of strawberries to the spicy, warm taste of a curry, your mouth has the ability to distinguish an endless variety of taste sensations. Bake some chocolate chip cookies and eat one while it's still warm. Make yourself a fruit salad full of the tangy sweetness of apples, the juicy tartness of oranges and the succulent sweetness of strawberries and other berries. Cook up and enjoy a salty and tangy chicken stir-fry. There are many different taste sensations to experience.

Pay attention to the magic and the miracles that occur in even the most ordinary lives. From the birth of a new baby to the blossoming of a flower, from the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly to the golden honey created by bees, all of these things and many more are miracles and examples of the awesome magic that this world holds.

Create some miracles of your own in order to bring the magic of this world more closely into your heart. The best way to create a miracle of your own is to do something wonderful for someone else. Give someone who is feeling down a hug. Tell someone a truthful compliment. When you are at the coffee shop, anonymously pay for the person behind you in line's coffee. Buy small gifts and deliver them randomly (and anonymously) to neighbors. If you know someone who is struggling financially, slip some money through his letterbox when he isn't home, or take him out to dinner. Offer to babysit for a tired mom who doesn't get out much. There are a myriad of ways to create your own miracles, and the magic of it is that the more miracles you create, the more you want to create, and the miracles that you create for others have a far-reaching effect in that those people tend to pass them on with new miracles for others.

This beautiful world that we all live in is full of magic and wonder. All it takes is to let yourself perceive the magic and the beauty that is all aorund you.