Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stories With Brilliant Wisdom

I totally love reading stories with brilliant wisdom!  Stories like Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Stories like 20 Wishes by Debbie Macomber. Stories like We Bought A Zoo, and Second Hand Lions.  They are all really great stories within themselves, but they offer such a great sense of wisdom.

They are stories that I love to read, but I either have to stop and write thoughts and quotes down as I am reading, or I read once just for the love of the book, and then a second time to get the thoughts and ideas I want down on paper.  Is that crazy?  Maybe, but do I care if it is crazy?  Nope!  I love to read, and I love quotes.  I love inspiration, and I love others inspiration that feeds into my own!

For example in Eat Pray Love - well let's just say I totally loved the book.  I can picture myself being this person, if life had turned out differently for me!  I could totally do what she did!  I loved it.  I loved the concept of finding a word that represents who you are -

"Maybe you're a woman in search of her word" 

and I often think - maybe I am a woman in search of my own word.  It isn't what I do for a living, or what I think of myself, but who I am.  What represents me?  If I can find my own word, then will I find who I am?  Will I find me?  I think that as time moves and we grow with it, perhaps the word we use to describe ourselves may change, but there has got to be one word, that is me, regardless of how much time changes who we are.  My word?  I haven't figured that out yet, but I am working on it.

Another example in 20 Wishes by Debbie Macomber, is a book about figuring out what you want most in life and setting goals / wishes that they may come true.   A group of ladies meet, and agree each to set their own set of 20 wishes.  Through their own experiences they find out that wishes can really come true, and often it isn't in the way you would expect it.  It leaves you with the desire to set your own 20 wishes, and see what happens.  It's really about starting over again, and making life better.  I really enjoyed it, and ended with a renewed desire to be "that" person who started over and succeeded.

We Bought A Zoo:  I never read the book, but I totally loved the movie!  One of my all time favorite quotes and philosophies of life has come from this - by Benjamin Mee -

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” 

Isn't that just perfect!!!  I have used this many times in my life when I have felt unsure, or like something might not be worth it, and it has gotten me through!  I totally love it!  

And finally - in the movie Second Hand Lions - again I have never read a book, but have watched the show many, many times, and I love it.  When Uncle Hub is giving the talk about what every boy needs to know to be a man, he says - 

"Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in."

 I have said on many occasions, that perhaps "so and so" needs to have this talk delivered to them.  Oh, how I love to find good messages in movies, books, and even songs.  There is just so much in life that is crap, we need to be able to see the good, pick it out from the piles of "stuff", and feed our souls happiness.  Wisdom can be found in goodness, and I love it!

On that note, there are stories within our own lives that contain brilliant wisdom as well.   Stories where we learn and grow.  Don't forget to write down the quotes and examples that contain brilliant wisdom from these stories, for they are ever as much a part of who we are, as the stories we read and learn from.  Stories from the lives of our loved ones, or stories from our daily experiences.  Quotes from our own lives can be just as memorable as a quote from a movie or a book.  Never overlook your life experiences and words as minimal for they are the most important ones YOU can learn from. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017


Dolce far niente!
The sweetness of doing nothing!

I love it!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Like Coming Home

Wow, it has been way too long since I have written here on one of my very favorite places.  I opened my blog this morning, and was giddy, like opening a present Christmas morning, even though you know what it is, you still are super tickled, because it is going to be spectacular!  That is kind of how I felt, when I came back to My Notebook.  It was like seeing a long lost friend, and being surprised all over again, at how much you loved them and missed them!  I know it is kind silly right?  Silly, but none the less true!  I have missed Blogger, it was my first blogging experience about 10 years ago now, and it was fantastic!  I have been away far too long.

It isn't because I have been slacking in anyway whatsoever!  It isn't because I don't love My Notebook anymore.  It is just because I have been so busy working like a mad woman, setting up my two newest websites.  Inch By Inch Preparedness and A Taste Of Thrifty!  It has been a great learning adventure.  I have done things that still amaze me, when it comes to setting up a new blog, a self hosted blog.  No doubt there have been some crazy challenges, and a oober ton of work, but it has been a really great learning curve.  Probably the one thing I have learned the most, is that I can teach myself almost anything I need to.    It isn't quite a easy as working with Blogger, but it sure makes for an easy way to create a blog that makes a bit of money.  Check it out if you have ever wanted to have a .com site, or one that will make you some Moola!

If you are interested in doing this, I strongly recommend using Bluehost.  They have been fantastic for me and fairly easy to understand.  Any questions I have had, they have been quick and helpful to find an answer.  I have figured out so much working with them.  Well worth the money.

Summer months are flying by right now.  I have so much to do and so little time to do it all.  It makes for late nights and early mornings, and to be honest with you, those are the most precious, quiet times I can take to ponder and do some writing.  Seriously, early morning hours, when the house is quiet, and my brain is fresh, is the time I love the most.  I completely understand why writers will tell you to wake early and get a good start on the day.  It makes sense!  It works!

Thanks for having me back - dear notebook - it has been far too long since I have written in you!


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Idea Notebook

I often have people ask me where I get ideas to write about.  Well, if you know me, you know I have notebooks full of ideas, characters, lists, prompts, and so much more.  I pretty much have a notebook for everything, including a place to put ideas.  In fact I have a folders and notebooks full of ideas.  Where do I get all the ideas from? 

I read a lot, and write down quotes that strike home with me.  I write down life experiences, I read a lot of blogs and research a ton of topics, in which I always write down things that inspire me.  It is rare that I can read something without a highlighter in hand or a notebook handy.  Even when I am reading on the internet, I always have a open document in which I can copy and paste a quote, picture, or something that rings true to me.  I take a lot of pictures on my phone, which I always have handy for those times when I don't have a pen.  If I want to remember something I take a picture of it, or make a note of it, in my phone notes, then
What do you put in your idea notebook?
transfer the picture to my idea notebook.  Everything gets transferred to my idea notebook, folder, or calendar on the various topics in which I keep notes and research on.

If it is an article or picture in a magazine, or in a newspaper, I clip it out and tape it in my notebook or drop it into a folder for future use.  If it is something I have dumped into a file on my computer, I print it out and likewise place it where I can find it for future use.  I love this quote by Stephen King....... "A writer's notebook is the best way in the world to immortalize bad ideas. My idea about a good idea is one that sticks around, and sticks around, and sticks around."

Some things you can ask yourself about an article or picture, quote or thought, are: "Why is it interesting to me?"  "What can I learn from it?"  Maybe even write a quick summary or thought on the article or picture as you are pasting it in your notebook, to help bring to mind the thoughts you were having when you found it.

When you run out of ideas, you can always look through your notebooks, or folders, to find interesting things.  Often when I look back through my folders and notebooks, I find things I had completely forgotten about.  It always makes me smile.  It also always makes me wonder just how life got so carried away that I forgot all about it.  I love to wonder about things, and I love to smile about things.

I love notebooks - period!  They just make me smile!  Especially my idea notebooks!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Writing Struggles

I love writing things.  I really do.  The biggest struggle I face, is whether or not to promote what I write.  Honestly, I think to myself all the time, "who really wants to read this?"  So I write it, I push publish, and I am happy with what I have written, but I never post it to Google, or Pinterest, or Facebook, or the many other possibilities out there.  Okay, sometimes I do, but not very often.  I just struggle with it!  Why?

Is it because I am afraid someone is actually going to comment on what I have to say?  Not really, because I don't mind comments, and if they are negative I can always just delete them right?  If they are positive, well that's great too.  I just hate to put myself out there.  And that is something I need to get past.  I need to be able to promote my writing, my feelings, and my opinions. 

I like the stories I write, and in my head they are pretty good, but are they good to anyone else who reads them?  I have one novel mostly complete, and I have given it to several people to read through and give me some advice on a few things, and not one of them has done it, and that was several months ago.  So what does that mean?  They don't like it, they forgot about it?  What?  And really, why do I care?  I should press forward and keep going right? 

It is tough the struggles a writer goes through.  I don't care if it is blogging, short stories, novels, or what have you, I think the worst critic of our work is ourselves!  Why do we do that? 

The Write Life - talks about this very struggle, and some marketing strategies we can use to promote ourselves.  Check out the article.  It's a great one.  But here is the short summary.

1. Create some realistic self promotion goals
2. Keep what's working and drop what's not
3. Don't reinvent the wheel
4. Use available tools to your advantage
5. Shift your focus

Sure there are time struggles.  When do we find the time to write?  Then there are the blank stare struggles.  We all stare at the screen sometimes.  Mine are the promoting struggles, because I judge myself to harshly and don't want someone to criticize what I do. 

Yep, I have work to do.  I have struggles I need to get over.  And someday I will be able to share my work without the worry of judgement.  There are competition struggles, and feeling like I am not good enough struggles.  For now, I will keep blogging, keep writing my novels, keep writing my workbooks and reference books, and I will share a bit here and there, with the hopes that at some point, maybe something I do will take off. 

So even though I have struggles, the reality is, I do it because I love to do it. 

Come what may, I will keep doing it, because I love it!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ruby Secret


Nat turned the key and creeked open the door to Giardino di Fiori . Garden of Flowers, she couldn't believe it was hers. She would have rather had it under different circumstances, not the death of Gran. She gave a shudder from deep down at the thought of Gran. How she wished she would have taken that trip last summer break. Gran had asked her to come and visit, but Nat was working hard to finish her Master's and felt like she would wait until the following year, then she could come and spend more time with Gran. She had been so adamant about waiting that year, now just regret. Gran was gone and all she had before her were the memories, and the villa.

The vision of rushing into Gran's arms as she threw open the door brought tears to her eyes.Gran would always give her a kiss on each cheek, Nat couldn't remember which came first. She was sure there was a correct way to do it, was it left cheek then right, or the other way around?

The smell of fresh Italian bread baking, along with ginger tea brewing were all but a memory now. The villa sat empty except for the ghostly white sheets covering the furnishings. Running her hands over the closet doors, she remembered all too well the many times she crawled in behind the long graceful coats to wait for her father to come and find her. She would giggle as he would pretend to be a large bear who came into his den to find a fair maiden awaiting.

The large windows facing the gardens in the back, were covered, making the room seem lonelyand cold. Nat could not deal with lonely right now. She needed to feel Gran, to remember how her warmth felt, the breath of her, as she kissed her cheeks and forehead, and the shine that always radiated from her eyes. She pulled back each curtain, gazing at the flower gardens. Giardino di Fiori, appropriately named she thought, as she noted the pristine condition of the gardens. George had not slacked off in his duties, keeping the grounds immaculate.

Paul had arranged for George and Rosa to stay on and maintain the villa until such time as Nat could arrive and decide what she wanted to do. Paul. She remembered the call she received from him only two short weeks ago, informing her of Gran's will, and her inheritance. She still could not believe it was all hers. Her parents Pete and Tec inherited money, but Nat received all else. Tecla was the only daughter of Amelia and Stefano,  who died 15 years earlier. When Nat was ten, Tecla and Pietro moved to Chicago, becoming Tec and Pete to their American friends. Nat had only been back three times since then. Once when her Papa, Stefano, had passed away, she was twelve, twice to spend summers with Gran. Those were precious memories.

The door closed behind her, as Rosa entered. Tears glistening her eyes, Rosa hugged Nat and finished with a kiss to her right cheek, then the left, refreshing Nats memory of what was the proper way.

Natalia Amore, your Grandmother would be so happy to see you here. How was your journey?”

The journey was long, but uneventful Rosa, grazie. The house is beautiful, thank you for taking care of it. The gardens as well. Where is George? Is he around?”

He will be here momentarily. I called him as soon as Paul told me you had arrived. We are both deeply sorrowed by the loss of your Grandmother Amelia. She was closer than family to both of us.”

Grazie Rosa, that means a lot to me. I know she felt the same about both of you. After Papa died, she relied heavily on both of you, and you never let her down.”

George and I have discussed, we both would love to remain here in your service if you need us. Paul told me you were intending to stay for a time until you make decisions as to what you will do.”

That would be perfect Rosa. I will need help keeping Giardino di Fiori running smoothly. It is far too much for me to do on my own, and I know so little about it for now. Rosa, did Gran leave any instructions for me, other than what Paul might have shared with me? He gave me a stack of papers to read through, and Gran's will only said that I am to receive everything other than what she left for my parent's.”

She only told me one thing Natalia, 'Tell Natalia to keep her eyes open, as she did when she was a child, and she may discover wonderful treasures. Treasures that have been buried deep in Giardino for many years.' I do not know what she meant by this, but perhaps you do.”

Nat had no idea what Gran could possibly mean by that, but if it involved treasures, she was sure to figure it out.

Bella Natalia, how are you? Come let me look at you.” George had walked in through the open garden doors. Time for treasure seeking would have to wait.

George, I have missed you.” Kisses, right then left. “And the gardens are spectacular. Rosa told me you have been working as hard as ever to make them even more beautiful, if that is even possible.”

I only wanted everything to be perfect for your arrival Natalia. Amelia would expect nothing less.”

Well I love it. And please stay and continue to help me. I know Gran left provisions for the both of you to remain here as long as I need you to, and I need you to George. I cannot do it all on my own.”

My pleasure Natalia.”

Now if you both don't mind, I think I would like to explore my way to my room and take a long hot shower to freshen up, then find something to eat.”

Nat made her way up the long winding staircase. The first door on the left, Gran's room. It belonged to her now, she was allowed to enter. She felt like a little child who had just broken a very large rule as she opened the door into her new bedroom. Of course it was immaculate. Between Rosa and Gran, she didn't expect anything less. It was as if Gran was expected home any minute. Rosa had not covered the furnishings in Amelia's room, instead had kept them clean and in place. The brush on the night stand, the perfume bottle resting on the vanity, Gran's clothes hanging, freshly laundered and pressed in the closet and the bed freshly made, waiting for it's occupant. Nat gave a large stretch, followed by a moaning yawn. It had been a long 48 hours. A shower and a rest would feel incredible.

Two hours later, Nat descended her stairs for the first time, as the owner of Giardino di Fiore. She couldn't help but feel like that little child all over again, with a giggle of happiness, yet a longing for Gran to meet her at the bottom. How many times she had seen Gran descending these very stairs, dressed in a ball gown, dressed in her garden tea clothes, dressed in her casual clothes to meet her at the door. It didn't matter the occasion, Gran was a lady of beauty and class. Never a hair out of place, never a broken nail, never a wrinkle in her clothes. Nat had dreamed her whole life of descending these stairs in such a manner as Gran did, with the grace and elegance she had. She had a long way to go. Living in Chicago, attending the Fine Arts School, didn't offer training or education in class and grace. In fact, Nat thought, it was just the opposite. The more extreme you were, the better you fit in. Life would be different here in Italy. She was looking forward to the adventure.

Rosa had created a light meal of bread, cheese, and provolone, with a new bottle of wine. It was just what Nat needed. She poured a glass, and tipped it to the sky. “Cheers to you Gran. I will miss you.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Journal Keeping

I have gone in spurts throughout my life where I have kept a written history type journal.  I did keep out some details, because of that “fear” of anyone ever reading it.  My husband would always tell me that he wished he knew what I was thinking, and so some years after we had been married, I had printed out a copy of my journal from the time I had met him, up until that recent point in time and I gave it to him for Christmas.  He and my kids love reading it still.  I also have some treasures of my grandparents and little snippets of their journals that they kept, and I consider those great treasures.

You sit and stare and that blank page wondering what you should write, thinking of your day and knowing that you can’t write some of the things that happened, because you never ever want anyone else to know.  You don’t want them to know what you are really thinking, or how you really feel.  You don’t want them to know the dumb choices you have made.  And you most certainly don’t want anyone to ever, ever learn about your deepest, darkest secrets.  So what do you write in your journals?  Or how do you keep a journal that could be of benefit to you, and not necessarily let others read it, or even know about it.

Journal keeping is always something that I have been taught – but it isn’t an easy task.  As I have been blogging and growing in my writing department, I have come across different ways to keep journals.  It doesn’t mean keeping a diary like it use to.  You know the ones we all had when we were little that had the little lock and key with them, because we wrote of our secret crushes and our best friends.  Ya, we all had those ones, but a journal is so much more today.

My daughter has an old notebook that she keeps a copy of every movie ticket she has ever seen in the theaters.  She thinks it will be fun to share with her kids someday.  It also helps her remember certain movies and who she went with to see them.

Art Journal Idea.  It comes from artbyjacy.comI love this idea of keeping a journal through your art work.  I have a daughter and son who neither of them love to write anything, but they do love to draw.  Why not draw in your journal your thoughts, your dreams, and your happenings.  I would love to see them do this, but as of now, I haven’t convinced them that this would be a great idea!

I don’t write in my journal anymore, I write it on my computer.  I keep a journal notebook on my computer, but I also keep several blogs.  Some of those blogs are for specific purposes, and some, like this one, and just for my own thoughts and feelings.  You can set up a blog so easily and in minutes be typing away.  You can keep your blog private so that nobody has access to view it, that way you can write whatever comes to you and whatever your “deepest, darkest secrets” are.  Or you can have it open and write those secrets anyways and not worry about who reads about your life.  I have seen it done so many different ways.

It really doesn’t take much time to maintain a blog, and the nice thing is that you can write on it as often or as little as you want.  it can be whatever you want it to be.  But this isn’t about blogs, it is about keeping a journal.

If you are a great photographer, keep a blog or a scrapbook of sorts, about your daily happenings, your family, friends, workplace, trips, or any other adventures in life.  Great stories can be told through pictures.

I love quotes.  I have many notebooks that are filled with quotes and thoughts that I have gathered through the years.  Quotes are a great source of motivation and inspiration to me.  They have a way of reaching out and touching that one tiny spot that pricks your mind and they can say what no other could.  Keep a quote journal, and perhaps a thought or two about why you like the particular quote you wrote that day.

Keep a heroes journal, about people in your life that mean the most to you, or even those everyday heroes you see, that perhaps seem invisible to everyone else.  Perhaps you could talk about the people in your life and why each of them is a hero to you.  That would go a long way to helping us see people in a different light, if we are watching and picking out those qualities that make them one of our heroes.

Create a jar with writing prompts in it, so on those days you don’t really have any inspiration to write about, you can pull one out of the jar and just follow the prompt.  There are lots of writing prompts on the internet, just give them a google and see what comes up.

We used to keep a family journal for a very brief period of time!  It didn’t work so well for us, but I have seen many who have really made this one great!  Keep a notebook or binder handy so anytime and any day, your family can write in it their thoughts and how they feel.  I would maybe stress the importance of not being negative.  We don’t want it to be a way of venting and saying hurtful things to each other.

Maybe you write music or love songs, keep a journal about your favorite songs and what they mean to you.  If you have any particular type of talent like, cooking, sewing, crocheting, cars, sports, or whatever it might be, I guarantee that if you keep a journal based around what you love, someday it will be a great treasure to your children and grandchildren.  Hop on pinterest and search journal ideas, or use google to do the search.  You will come up with “something” that inspires you to write more!

What great journal ideas do you have to share?  I would love to see your inspirational ideas.  We all need some inspiration once in awhile.