Thursday, August 4, 2022
Now, after much trepidation, I have joined the podcast world. Writing the Heartache is the theme and has been my push/shove/advice since Daniel died when I realized the wonderful and inexpensive therapy that comes from writing after loss.
My first podcast (Anchor.FM) is short; it will take just over 5 minutes of your day. The topic is: No Grammar or Spelling Worries; Just Get it Out There. I share a few benefits of writing from grief.
You can listen by going to the Anchor.FM page. If you don't have a Spotify account (I don't), you can listen by scrolling down the page and pressing the arrow. Go here.
Saturday, July 23, 2022
I have a penchant for making lists, particularly the to-do and grocery kind. Both help me organize what needs to be done and the grocery one gets me in and out of the store with items I need that without a piece of paper to guide me could easily make me forgetful. Lately I found out that I keep another kind of list, one I have, unfortunately, used many times before. It's one that I store in my mind, one that is a tally of what I’ve done wrong or messed up doing. This type of list leads to regret, remorse, and for an unhappy Saturday (or any day of the week).
Sure, we all have times we make mistakes. Usually we make amends, deal with the consequences, forgive if we need to, and move on. The damage is when we aren’t able to follow these steps and instead of moving on, we take the list in our head---a mental list---with us. The mental list can be degrading and when gone over too many times can cause us to miss out on living life to the fullest. The mental list of negatives is a violent thunderstorm happening in our heads.
Recently I had a mental list going. It started with one disappointment, and another, then it grew larger when I added mistakes I'd made that week, all along telling myself I should have known better. This mental list didn’t grow on its own, I fed and watered it. It became worrisome and caused anxiety. Of course I prayed, asking God to help me. I knew the verses in the book of Philippians that tells us not to be anxious, but nothing seemed to help. I was in a funky state of mind.
After a day of self-induced angst, my eldest daughter Rachel invited me to the beach. She knew nothing of my bad list because I'd shared it with no one. She wanted to spend a day with me and texted that she'd drive. A day at the beach! My heart did a little happy dance. A day at one of my favorite places would be therapeutic. Rachel and I planned, and four days later, we were at Carolina Beach enjoying the sun, the ocean view, salad lunches, seagulls who ventured close, laughter, and being together away from our other lives. We splashed some in the waves, but the wind and current were fierce, so we mostly stuck to the safety of the shore.
When I got home, sunburned and sandy, I was able to think more clearly about mental lists of agony humans bring on themselves. I think we carry these types of lists too long because we don't trust that God does care for us as he tells us that he does in scripture. Instead of carrying petitions before God and allowing ourselves to continue on, trusting him enough to know that he does care deeply for us, we let the mental thunderstorms continue. The beach day was an unexpected blessing from God, a God who saw my needs and mental health when I was at a low point. A God who cared for me and will always care for me.
Sometimes taking a piece of paper and writing my struggles on it and then crumpling it and tossing it into the garbage bin works to show that I will not carry negativity around with me. If only I can remind myself each time I'm tempted to recall those items on the piece of paper I've thrown out that I need to refrain. I have given my problems over to God. No backsies.
I want to free my mind from worry and know that I cannot do it on my own. I will still keep lists to help organize my life, but the lists of tallying up my wrongs are not welcomed. Instead a list of gratitude will be just the thing to steer my mind toward a positive and peaceful direction. I'll end this with one of my all-time favorite scripture verses about God's care and our need to invite the peace he gives--and only he can give--into our minds.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:6-9, NIV
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Today's treat is a new novel and recipe from author Susan G. Mathis. Susan, welcome! We're glad to have you here to share with us! Take it away.
Traditional Thousand Islands Shore Dinner
Traditionally, the Thousand Islands Shore Dinner a big fishing party. Several skiffs rallied at one island, dispersed to fish until noon, partook of a shore dinner, and then fished again until late afternoon. Fine folk like George Pullman, Frederick Bourne, and J.P. Morgan—and even President Ulysses S. Grant when he visited the islands in 1872— took time to get away from big-city life and find a quiet fishing vacation in the islands. The main boat would often be a small steam yacht. They would leave around 7 a.m., towing up to ten skiffs trailing behind them. The captain would choose an uninhabited island to use for a shore dinner, prepare the meal himself or drop off the meal preparers, and send the fishing guides off to row their guests to different fishing spots.
You’ve likely heard of the shore dinners of New England. But the traditional Thousand Islands shore dinners include fresh fish, French toast, and a sandwich with fried pork strips. And, of course, a salad with Thousand Islands Dressing.
When they made the camp coffee—they add a cracked egg, shell and all. That way, the grounds stick to the yolk at the bottom of the pot and the shells remove the bitterness. Hmmm…
Then comes the French toast for dessert, also fried in the same pan as the pork and fish, and topped with lots of local maple syrup. Again, one needn’t count the calories; just enjoy the unique flavors of the shore dinner.
Today, uninhabited islands are few and far between, so shore dinners became a little more complicated. But several companies still serve patrons who want a traditional shore dinner. In fact, the NY State parks were, in part, established to provide a place for shore dinners. Maybe one day you, too, can visit the Thousand Islands and enjoy a traditional shore dinner.
Do you think you’d enjoy this meal? In Peyton’s Promise, they served fatback sandwiches to boaters sheltering on Calumet Island. Here’s a recipe for Thousand Islands Dressing!
Thousand Island Dressing
2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
1 tablespoon green pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon scallions, finely chopped
Mix all ingredients together and chill to blend flavors.
About Peyton's Promise:
Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala. As she works in a male-dominated position of upholsterer and fights for women’s equality, she’s persecuted for her unorthodox ways. But when her pyrotechnics-engineer father is seriously hurt, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.
Patrick Taylor, Calumet’s carpenter and Peyton’s childhood chum, hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton has to ignore the prejudices and persevere or she could lose her job, forfeit Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossips.
Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty-five times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. She has seven in her fiction line including, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, Katelyn’s Choice, Devyn’s Dilemma, Sara’s Surprise, Reagan’s Reward, and Colleen’s Confession. Her newest, Peyton’s Promise, came out in May 2022 and Rachel’s Reunion releases October 7, 2022. She just finished writing book ten, Mary’s Moment. Her book awards include two Illumination Book Awards, three American Fiction Awards, two Indie Excellence Book Awards, and two Literary Titan Book Awards. Reagan’s Reward is a Selah Awards finalist.
Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world but returns each summer to enjoy the Thousand Islands. Visit Susan's website for more. And head over to Amazon to get your own copy of Peyton's Promise.
Friday, June 10, 2022
Need a book to read this summer?
In an era where print novels are not as readily available as e-book versions, I have three of my novels ready to sign and send to you. That's right, paperbacks, the kind where you can turn and smell the pages. Each price includes shipping to anywhere in the USA. The novels retail for $13.99 and $14.99, but you get to save here.
Rain Song -- My first novel, a Christy-Award Finalist, set in the pickle capital of the world, Mount Olive, North Carolina! Middle-school teacher, Nicole, has a lot of questions about her past in Japan, and a mysterious man enters her life to help her solve them.
How Sweet It Is -- Also, a Chirsty-Award finalist, this one is set in the mountains of North Carolina, where cake decorater Deena, finds herself teaching cooking to some wayward teens per her deceased granddad's request.
A Wedding Invitation -- Samantha gets invited to a wedding where she knows no one. But her mistake leads her to a man from her past who broke her heart, and a Vietnamese girl she taught in a refugee camp.
To order an autographed print novel, select from the Buy Now menu below. Prices include shipping to anywhere in the USA. Or if you'd rather send a check for $15.00 per novel, make it out to Alice Wisler and mail to:
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Malaise --- noun: malaise; plural noun: malaisesa general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify.
The year is now is her third month and I realized I haven't posted much on this blog. While I have a hundred excuses, one is that I've started spending time at Medium.com where I got my profile completed and my page up and running. I've been faithfully posting and gaining readership and followers. If you've got a page there, please follow me and I'll reciprocate. Also my happy news is that I've become a writer for Devotable. Devotable publishes devotions, and so far, three of mine have made their debut. So if you'll head over to Medium.com, to see what I've been up to, I'll be happy and grateful.
The truth is, this year I'm all about staying upbeat and grateful. Times are hard. Our country and the world are in sad states. I absorb news to keep informed and sometimes I have to step away and nourish my soul. Instead of letting malaise win me over, I want to look up, be still before God, and write more. I've always believed that writing is healing and healing is what I continue to need.
I hope you'll join me!
Saturday, January 22, 2022
Daniel’s been gone from Earth for almost 25 years (February 2 is the day he died). Over the years I’ve discovered a multitude of things about grief, about my grieving self— guilt, longing, the lonely hour of 3 AM—and about the way society handles loss.
After a loved one dies, we tend to use the past tense. Instead of I love Daniel, the acceptable thing to say is I loved Daniel. Since Daniel is not living any more, society speaks of him in the past tense. All of the characteristics of him are spoken in past tense, too. Daniel liked to collect stickers; Daniel’s favorite movie was Toy Story, the very first one. He recited jokes from a weathered joke book. He fought bedtime. He had a mischievous smile, especially on the day he went into my desk drawer, took out a self-inking Thank You stamp, and stamped his legs with it.
I know Daniel died. I was there when it happened. I’m not delusional about things, except for when it comes to algebra because that has never made sense to me. I believe that when Daniel took his last earthly breath, his soul arrived in Heaven. He is now in the presence of Jesus, his Savior, whom he learned about in church and through Bible stories from an illustrated book. Daniel still exists; he’s just doesn’t exist here on Earth anymore, except for in our memories.
I loved him while he was my son, for those four short years that I was privileged to be his mama. I still love him, as I love my three adult children who live close by. My love for Daniel has not stopped just because he isn’t with us and I can’t see him open a birthday gift or eat the grilled cheese sandwiches he was fond of enjoying or get his photo taken by the Christmas tree.
I love Daniel. I’ll say it again. I love Daniel. And I invite you to use the present tense when you are talking about the love you hold for your loved one that has passed onto the heavenly eternal.
Even death cannot end the love we have. We don't stop loving a person just because he or she is gone. Love goes on.
Monday, January 10, 2022
The Christmas tree was up, bright decorations sat on the coffee table, and some hung from shelves. Christmas tunes played as I prepared for our family's Christmas Eve gathering. I put plates of cookies, dates, and cheese on the dining room table.
Then why did a sudden deep sadness fill the kitchen? I felt like my bones had been carved out and sorrow had been pushed into them. This is a cheerful season, I thought. What's wrong with me?
When my son Daniel first died, Christmases were nearly impossible to celebrate. My husband and I took our three young children someplace away from our home so that we did not have to be in the very house where Daniel was missing. The absence of our four-year-old was too much to handle during a time of festivities. I wanted to be able to close my eyes the week before Christmas and not have to deal with any of the celebrations until the week after the new year. But we know that's not possible, and so like other grievers, others who have had to bury a child, I had to learn how to adapt and adjust to the holidays.
It's been 24 years since Daniel's death. So no wonder I was surprised this past Christmas season when I felt overwhelmed with emotion.
Fortunately I had two bereaved parents, friends of mine, to text. I sent each of them separate text messages. They assured me that my grieving was normal. “Accept yourself in your beauty and brokenness,” wrote one.
I know that many people feel discouraged and depressed around the holidays, and that we need to be mindful of the fact that others around us are lonely and aching. Just because they are cheery decorations, family and friends, and even Christmas songs and hymns that speak of joy, doesn’t mean that all feels well.
In this new year you may have moments of sorrow. Don't deny them, acknowledge them. I find that writing helps. A journal or just any old slip of paper and a trusty, comfortable pen are great tools to use as you spend time writing. Write from your pain. Share a happy memory about your loved one. See what develops.
And one more bit of advice that I like to give, advice that has helped me, be sure to buy sturdy and soft tissues. Because when the tears come, our eyes deserve the best.
Grieving the loss of a loved one never leaves. Even when we think we have the pain tucked away, it can arrive unexpectedly. Don’t run from it; embrace it, if you can. We grieve over a person because we love. What a blessing it is to have had this special person (child, parent, friend, spouse) to love on Earth and to continue to love long after he/she is gone.