Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thanks for the Gift

Gifts. Some of them leave a lasting impression. You know the kind. The ones you remember from childhood. And when you recall them, the memory still gives you pleasure, almost as if it was happening all over again.

I remember some Christmases that stand out to me:
when Donny and Marie Osmond were on prime time with their variety show, Mom got me the Donny and Marie stage set with dolls, microphones, and even Donny's purple socks! I played with that set for hours. Since I loved to sing as a child, I loved to pretend I was Marie singing "Paper Roses" and "I'm a Little Bit Country".

Then there was the year when Mom got me my first boom box, which is what they called cassette players that had speakers and built in radio with antennae. That was one of The Best Gifts she bought me, since I played my cassettes a million times over, whether it was Michael Jackson, Christian Artist Sandy Patti, or Amy Grant (plus a host of other artist). (That repetition is now coming back to haunt me now that I have Radio Disney songs playing down the hall from my office on repeat...;))

Aaaah, gifts from Christmases past. They linger in the memory like the sweet aroma that embraces when the cookies are baking.

But, you know, there is a gift you really can't put a price on that presents itself all year long. Not just at the holidays.

The gift of Time. That precious commodity of which we never seem to have enough. But when someone gives you the gift of time, it is often unexpected. Like when you sit at the dinner table and end up having a heart to heart talk with a family member. Or you go on errands together, and as you drive down the road, you spill your hearts out to each other. Or you see the sunset and take the time to sit and enjoy the view...together.

Then there are the times when you deliberately take the time to say hello to someone, email a friend, or check out someone's blog post or Facebook post or Twitter link. You reach out to a new friend or encourage someone by posting a encouraging or thought-provoking comment about what they shared.

For those of you who have sent me an email or dropped by my blog post to read and leave a lovely comment or RT one of my links on Twitter or respond in kindness and humor to my Facebook posts, I thank you. I thank you for the Gift of your time. I thank you for choosing to get to know me, to follow my Twitter posts, and friend me on Facebook.

I appreciate every single one of you. You often put a smile of my face, a spring in my step, and a bit of sunshine in my heart.
And it is my greatest wish that I do the same for you.

May you have a blessed and delightful New Year in 2010.
I look forward to getting to know each of you even better.

© by Dawn Herring

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Unexpected

It's that time of year where as you drive through the neighborhood after the sun goes down, the pretty lights come out. Sometimes you can see several homes is a row that are quite creative with their decorative display of holiday pleasure.

But it's always a pleasant surprise when you come around the corner to see a display for the first time in the Christmas season; that's when it's unexpected.

Many true pleasures in life are unexpected. You don't necessarily see them coming. Or maybe when you do, you don't realize how beautiful they are until they're right upon you. In all of their delightful, glorious dimensions.

Like birds migrating just before winter. When you see them on the horizon, they may not appear to be a flock of birds. Perhaps they're just a shifting, dark cloud in the sky.

As I drive up the highway during this time of year, I am inspired with the elegance, beauty, and instinctive dance of those migrating winged creatures. Sometimes I'm tempted to pull over and take a photo or video to capture their flight.

When I see these groups of feathered friends do their dance across the sky, it amazes me how they never move the same way every time. No matter how they swoop, mingle, or settle to congregate in trees and on telephone wires, their recital is always fresh, always unexpected.

They always know where they are going. Rarely are they alone. And they are always communicating, either through their vocal melodies or unspoken connection with one another.

It is often through unexpected communication that we can receive the direction or the encouragement we are looking for; whether it be through the lyric of a song, a verse of Scripture, or a kind word of affirmation when someone sees or hears us doing something that resonates with them.

We may find ourselves at times thinking we are heading the wrong way, especially when we are out of our comfort zone. Or perhaps we feel like we're in a rut and need a change, but we don't know which way to go.

Always keep your mind open for new ways of thinking and doing; the unexpected can be just what you need to get back on track or start a new one.

There are boundless possibilities. And there is no telling what beauty will be waiting for you right around the corner.

What is that instinctive, unexpected voice telling you? Are you listening?

© 2009 by Dawn Herring

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Mult-Dimensional View: Gratitude

As we near the Thanksgiving holiday, it is often an appropriate time to take a very close, detailed look at how blessed we are.

Here is my assessment:

I have several ribbed sweaters and long-sleeved knit tops hanging to dry on my laundry organizer. I am thankful to have warm clothes to wear and a place to hang them to dry. I can never say I'm not warm enough since I can always put on another sweater! I always have what I need to stay toasty and comfortable. :) Therefore I am blessed.

I have pictures in frames of my immediate and extended family hanging on the wall and sitting on the hutch and bookshelf in my office that include my sister, her husband, her two daughters, my Mom and Dad, me, my husband, and our two daughters. I have photos most recent from last Christmas and some from several years ago. I can recollect the history unique to me and my family represented in these photos as I gaze at each visage. I am grateful for the multi-dimensional effect these relationships have had on my personal life, affecting the development of who I am today.

Pinned to a bulletin board to the right of my computer cart is my self-made writing calendar along with an inspirational collage of messages which are next to the developing story board attached to the wall I've created for my novel in progress. I am grateful for the space I have to use these tools and for the imagination and creative spirit I enjoy utilizing in my writing pursuits.

I have a glass-topped L-shaped desk I use primarily for my office managing responsibilities for Bill's Quality Electric, LLC. I also have an adding machine, an electric pencil sharpener, and several organizers to keep my tools handy, along with filing cabinets to keep things in order. I am grateful for the space and for the every day ease with which I can accomplish my tasks.

I have bookshelves that contain my almost 40 volumes of journals I've kept since before I was married (over 20 years worth). They represent the multi-dimensional journey I have trod as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, artist, writer, office manager, and home schooler. I have chronicled almost daily my point of view of the ongoing joys, trials, triumphs, and challenges I have experienced, and decisions I have made along the way. I am grateful for each experience, for every insight, for every relationship, and for all they have taught me about myself, my family, my community, and my God.

Life is always changing. The dimensions breathe and evolve and develop as I become who I am meant to be. I can take this opportunity to acknowledge how I am blessed, and how I can utilize those blessings to benefit the world around me.

The hustle and bustle, the coming and going of every day life can keep us so busy that we, often without realizing it, inhibit ourselves from being conscious of the blessings that are the very substance of our surroundings. Everything in our lives has a history, a purpose, a story that becomes the fiber of who we are and is part of the foundation that reveals how much we are blessed.

Take the time to really look at who and what is around you right in your own home. Consider what each relationship and part represents, how it has affected or benefited you, and how you can utilize those blessings to benefit the world in which you live.

You may find yourself more at peace and contented as a result. Time for gratitude is never wasted.

Have a delightful and fruitful Thanksgiving.

© by Dawn Herring

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Take Care

Take care of yourself. Yes, you need to take care of yourself. You won't be able to take care of anyone else if you don't take care of yourself first.
Like the instructions on an airplane tell you, if you don't put the oxygen mask on before you put one on your child, you'll be no good for the child either. Or anyone else, for that matter.

It's easy to put off taking care of yourself with so many other responsibilities begging for your active participation. The kids always have something needing immediate attention. Teens often see their problems as emergencies.

But when was the last time you saw your own needs as an emergency? Do you wait until you're so exhausted that your immune system breaks down, leaving you feeling lousy and spent? Or do you take time to do things you enjoy, just because?

There's no need to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. A time of refreshment is essential to well being. Whether it's reading a good book (a library or book store are treasure troves), taking a class you've always wanted to take (to stimulate those learning vibes, when finances permit, of course), going for a walk, hike, bike ride or swim (making exercise more enjoyable), or spending time writing in a journal or scrapbooking (creative outlets are therapeutic).

Perhaps you need spiritual rejuvenation through prayer and meditation. Simply writing down all the things you are grateful for can help give you a fresh perspective.

Or maybe you could just benefit from a decadent piece of chocolate or other favorite dessert. How about a fresh glass of cold ice water or lemonade?

Often it's the little things that count. Little refreshments add up to big refreshments over time, especially if you're consistent with taking care of yourself.
And you're the one who knows best what works for you; go with what you enjoy most or what benefits you the greatest. Whatever can help you recharge and renew.

Take the time to take care of yourself. Be Refreshed! You'll be glad you did.

Now, don't you feel much better?

© by Dawn Herring

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Decor and Disguises

The Halloween aisles are set up with bags of candy in a variety of types and sizes; creepy looking ghosts and ghoulish masks, with spiders in faux cobwebs; costumes galore for all ages; and arts and crafts supplies for those who like to decorate from scratch.

Then there are the pumpkins: in supermarkets, on front porches with or without carved faces, at farmer's markets and in the pumpkin patches where you can go for a hayride.

Oranges, reds, yellows, and other autumn hues are everywhere you shop.
This is truly my favorite color-time of year.

As I made my way through Michael's, I was compelled to purchase a multi pack of autumn colored butterflies with which to decorate my office. Sometimes I wish I could turn my office space into a retail-looking oasis with all those beautiful colors (but then I would have to hire a stock person to keep the shelves looking fresh since my cat Sophie would probably knock the items onto the floor ;)).

As I was lingering in the produce aisle at Market Street, inhaling the fresh sweet aroma of the fruits and vegetables, I saw a stack of candy apples covered in butterscotch and peanuts. They did look good. Reminded me of biting into one of those as an adolescent, wanting to just eat off the candy and peanuts and forget the apple. But then it wouldn't technically be a nutritious snack.

Most don't associate the month of October with healthy snacks. With all of the candy assortments to choose from, we all know what most kids have on their minds as they plan for their Halloween or Autumn Fest adventure on October 31.

My favorite Halloween candy are the bite-sized Reese's Peanut Butter cups that come individually wrapped in autumn-colored foil, decorative in a candy dish, if they remain there for very long. ;) That chocolate and peanut butter combination always hits the spot.

With Halloween on Saturday this year, I'm curious as to how early the neighborhood children will be out and ready to fill their pumpkin-shaped buckets or pillow cases or plastic bags full of candy, handed out at each brightly lit doorstep.

You can never know what kind of costume each trick-or-treater will wear as their disguise for the evening. My two daughters went out a couple of years ago as Hannah Montana/Meet Miley Cyrus in commemoration of Miley's first CD recorded as herself. Decked out in wigs, fun styles, and makeup, they made quite the pair. And they even sang the theme song to Hannah Montana for one interested candy-giver.

Yes, disguises are popular for Halloween; it's fun to attempt a guess at who the person is supposed to look like. Some costumes are easy to pinpoint, like Spiderman or a Disney Character.

But some are more subtle.

Disguises are used to cover who we truly are. Sometimes we wear the more subtle form without realizing it. But with some digging and searching under that disguise, we can begin to discover what we're about, what makes us tick, what we are here for.

It can be a challenge to learn how to define ourselves, evaluating our authenticity. But once we get to the place where we know who we really are, where we're going, and what our purpose is, then we can move forward in confidence and sincerity, accomplishing what we are meant to, making a positive difference in our world, in your world, in my world.

As the REAL you, as the REAL me.
So, who are you really?

© by Dawn Herring

Monday, September 21, 2009


Boxes come in handy for a variety of reasons and tasks.

Take the gift box. You know the kind you ask for at the retailer where gift wrapping is offered for special occasions. Or the kind you can buy at Christmas time for shirts or small gifts. They sometimes come collapsed until they are ready to be used. And once the box is wrapped in pretty paper and decorated with a bow, it has taken on a whole new look!

Then there's the packing box. The one you see U-haul selling for folks getting ready to move from one place of business or residence to another. These are often extra sturdy for packing just about anything. They make what would be a monumental task a whole lot easier and more convenient.

How about the shipping box. These come in all shapes and sizes depending on what item is enclosed, often with shipping foam or air filled plastic to keep things protected and in place.

The file box is a must for home and business offices to keep files in order so it's easy to find what you're looking for when you need it (unless of course, you don't have a very good filing system; but that's not the fault of the file box. ;)). Now they come in different colors to match the decor in whatever room you keep them in. Some are portable with a carrying handle so you can bring them with you for convenience.

There is, no doubt, a place for boxes.

Have you ever heard someone say, "I like to think 'outside the box'"? Generally, when I see that statement, I often associate it with open minded thinking, outside the status quo. Those who come up with new ideas or innovative ways of doing things often think outside the box.

'Boxy' thinking can often hold us back from from our full potential. Has there ever been a time where you have felt like you needed a change, a move to a broader way of thinking, or a refresh from the place you occupy?

Frustration can set into our minds and spirits when we attempt to stay where we are for too long. Perhaps it's a good time to step back and access where you've been and where you want to be. If you find you're not satisfied with the progress you're making or with the goals you have reached (or not reached), it may be a good time to step out of your 'box' and BREAK OUT!

Try something new. Get excited about the possibilities of getting from point A to point B. You never know where a refreshed way of thinking might take you.

Boxes have their place. My cat Sophie certainly enjoys inspecting any that come through our front door and playing hide and seek in them. But she doesn't like staying in one for very long. It's too confining. She likes her freedom.

Are you ready to Break Out and start thinking 'outside the box'?

© by Dawn Herring

Monday, September 7, 2009

"How may I help you?"

In my latest attempts to get help from a customer service line, I have noticed several trends.
Voice activation is the newest. And, perhaps, the most annoying.

I honestly prefer the touch tone aspect of getting where I need to go on a help line. But, no. These voices want you to talk back to them. And, unfortunately, they are hard of hearing. I have yet to experience a smooth transition of supplying verbal information and actually working through the whole system without a glitch.

Usually I end up repeating myself at least three times, often yelling into the phone hoping a louder voice will help. But, of course, it never does. I just hear that repeated statement, "I'm sorry; I didn't get that."

That's when I want to hang up and forget about why I was calling in the first place.
When I finally hear the other option given for a real person to talk to since the 'auto voice' didn't hear me properly, I audibly breath a sigh of relief, knowing I'll finally get my situation resolved. (I do appreciate those human customer service voices that talk back to me kindly and get my problem solved promptly; Thank you!)

Then there's the prerecorded voice telling you that the options have recently changed, and I must listen very carefully to the following menu, even though I don't honestly know how they think I will really remember the previous menu from the last time I called.

How about the music and advertising you sometimes here repeated in rounds trying to keep you from falling asleep while you wait on hold, sometimes with a warp from the very old recordings that don't get replaced. And the volume is always on ten which prompts you to put it on speaker so the recording doesn't give you a headache in the process.

"Call me, on the line, call me, call me, any, anytime." Yes, on the bright side, most of the lines provide 24 hour service. (Of course, you won't find me calling in the middle of the night.)

There is another 24 hour help line for any trouble that may arise in your day-to-day doings. "And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me."(KJV) In the NLT, "Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory."

When we call on God to help us in our frustration or in circumstances out of our control, He often brings relief to our weary souls, strength to our weakness, support for our burdens, and comfort in our grief.

He won't tell us, "I'm sorry, I didn't get that." God is never hard of hearing.
He won't put us on hold or repeat things obnoxiously in our ear.
We never have to worry about calling the wrong number or the wrong department.
He will handle any and all kinds of troubles.

And we can call on Him any, any time.
Whatever trouble you may have, He is waiting for your call.

So, who are you going to call?

© by Dawn Herring

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What time is it?

It's back to school time.

The buses will be running again down our side street every morning and every afternoon. I don't need an alarm clock since those diesel engines are always noisy enough to get my attention. And they signal the close of the school day.

It doesn't feel like school weather-wise. We still have another month of summer left, technically according to the calendar, and here in North Texas, we'll have summer temps for another month after summer has officially given way to autumn.

Yesterday I could hear the high school band practicing up the road from our home. (We happen to live in the school zone between the yellow flashing lights where you have to slow down to 20 mph.)

Of course, my kids continued to enjoy their summer sleep despite the advice of getting up earlier to acclimate to the new early morning school schedule so they don't feel like zombies on the first day.

Even though I've been a good example to them getting up at the time I normally would on a school day (not that they've seen me; I just brag ;)). One advantage to an earlier rise time: getting more work done around the house. Crossing off more things on my 'to do' list.

But, do you know what I discovered? I've made a habit of defining my day by what's on my agenda and what appointments are on my schedule. I've found myself waking up in the morning and thinking, OK, what do I have to do today? Within a short time, I'm verifying appointments in my book to make sure I don't forget where I need to be and when.

I'm always relieved when I see a blank space. Aahhh, open territory. Can stay home and get stuff done.

But, like my husband always reminds me, when I wake up in the morning, I need to think about what I want to do. What is my purpose for today? What are my life goals?

Life is not just about work. In fact, instead of thinking in the living to work mindset, I need to think about working to live. I need to define my days by what I want to accomplish. What activity leaves me feeling satisfied?

I realize that each day brings a certain amount of time to it, and I want to be a good steward of every minute. Today, there is a purpose for my time. It's up to me to discover and renew that purpose.

If I don't start my day with that renewed purpose in mind, my time gets filled with activity that isn't necessarily what is best. Sometimes I feel like I'm going around in circles, wasting precious energy that could be used toward better, more creative pursuits, ones that move me forward and give me that sense of knowing I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. That space when I'm in my element and feel good about what I've accomplished.

It says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.
There is a time for work, a time for leisure, and a time for family. And most of all, time with the Creator, the One who created time.
That is why I seek Him in how I can be the best steward of my time every day.

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

What is your purpose today?

© by Dawn Herring

Monday, August 10, 2009

Can You Read Me?

My cat Sophie has a very expressive tail. I think it's one of the things I like most about her.
First thing in the morning, when I give her food and water, and as she meows to me about her evening and how hungry she is, her tail is speaking for itself, positioned straight up with the tip hooked to the left which, according to a feline website I read, means she is absolutely delighted to see me!

When Sophie is sitting in the bedroom as my husband and I sit in our recliners and read, I will notice her tail wrapped around her body or just lazily slung out by her legs with just the tip moving occasionally. But when I begin to talk with her and ask her what she's doing over there, her tail begins to perk up a bit in response to my voice since she knows I'm talking to her. Relaxed but aware.

Whenever the whim hits her, my daughter Hannah will hold Sophie when Sophie would rather be somewhere else (since she is often disturbed from a relaxed cat nap prior to this position); her tail says it all as it swoops from side to side or flicks its annoyance in different directions, saying, let me go before I get ripping mad.

I often see Sophie walking through the house with her tail down; I call this her investigative mode. She's busy sniffing the perimeters of the rooms, keeping a feline eye on things, making sure she's not missing anything (perhaps a needed hunting expedition). I sometimes ask her what's she's looking for, but she's too busy to pay any attention to me as she puts on her 'inspector' tail.

Yes, my cat is easy to read, most of the time. People are another matter. Especially in new situations. When you look into a person's face, they are often hard to read. Now, there are people who are like an open book: they are pleasant as they display their emotions, having nothing to hide. They show sincere interest in you. But this type of person is a rare breed: a refreshing breeze in a stale-aired world.

Typically, it's easy for people to misread other people based on their facial expression. They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but often, that's exactly what we do. It can be the only way to get to know a person, unless they open themselves up to you.

That's why it's reassuring to me that unlike man, who looks on the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart,(I Sam. 16:7) which is what God told Samuel when he was looking for the next king of Israel.
God doesn't judge a man from the outside but from the inside. He knows our intentions and our motives even better than we know them ourselves. And when we read His Word, it reveals to us the thoughts and intents of our hearts. (Heb.4:12)

Unlike people, God will never 'misread' me based on my outward expression. He always gets me right.

Sophie never hesitates to show her feelings through her tail. It just comes naturally.
How readable are you?

© by Dawn Herring

Monday, July 20, 2009

Would you like a refreshment?

I've never been a fan of ice water. I found every time I would drink water with ice in it, I would end up with a freeze headache in the middle of my forehead. Now, I can't get enough.
I suppose it might have something to do with the heat wave we suffered through last week and the week before and the week before that...

I can't seem to keep my mug full of water and ice for very long, constantly heading to the fridge for a refill. I found it helps cool me off, especially with the recent high humidity. When I stand outside in such stifling heat (which I try to do a little as possible), I sweat without any exertion;
that's when I head inside for another mugful. Coming home from running errands on sweltering days also prompts the need for hydration.

But since ice water has never been my choice of drink before, I find it quite odd. I wonder what changed for me. Perhaps now I simply have more of a tolerance for colder things than I used to. Perhaps it's age. (I will not get started on that.;))

I can remember as a youth being so cold in the grocery store shopping with my mother in the summertime. I'd, of course, be wearing shorts and summer top, so lots of skin to be stimulated to the point of goosebumps, especially passing the coldest section of the supermarket: the milk aisle.

Now I have my own kids complaining of the cold in the supermarket with their accompanying goosebumps to prove their discomfort. I explain about the summer temperature colliding with fresh foods that can spoil, prompting the colder atmosphere of the grocery store, hoping it will appease their annoyance. Then I tell them when I was their age, I used to complain about the same thing.

Now I find the cooler air and the cooler beverage to be downright refreshing.
You know what else I find refreshing?

A nice compliment from a sincere person; someone holding a door open for me; when my husband calls just to say hi and see how my day is going; or when my cat Sophie is curled up on my lap, looking up into my face, her purr box on.

But what do I find most refreshing?
Taking the time to be with Someone who enjoys taking refreshment with me in conversation and communion (Rev.3:20). He's a good listener and always gives great advice (Isa. 9:6) Listening to His stories (and He is the best Storyteller), absorbing His presence (peaceful and calming), and seeing His countenance (often with a smile on His face) is often just what I need for the day, a great prescription from the Great Physician.

Just like a cold glass of ice water.

Have you been refreshed lately?

© by Dawn Herring

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Colorful Spur of the Moment

It's a tradition we started about five years ago.

My youngest daughter, then almost 10, was looking out the window that faced the front of our home that evening on the Fourth of July. It was dark out already, and her stop was timely. She saw fireworks doing their light-up dance between the leaves on the trees. She quickly pointed them out to me as I was by my desk in the living room. I and my other daughter came dashing to the window, hoping we wouldn't miss anything. We could hear the popping sounds and wondered how close the 'show' was.

Like Bill has always been, he spontaneously grabbed his keys and told everyone to hop in the car, and we'd go try to find them.

What made this somewhat amusing was that we were already dressed for bed, in our PJ's, one barefoot. But with the look of amused excitement on Bill's face, I wasn't about to say no. Besides, it was my birthday, and what's the Fourth of July without fireworks?

So, we left the house, forgetting to lock the front door in our giggly haste, and climbed into our car. Bill was at the helm as we pulled out and headed in the direction of where Hannah had seen the fireworks.

It only took a few minutes to find the source over an open field. So we pulled over onto the side of the road and enjoyed a front seat view, in air-conditioned comfort, the kids huddled right behind us not wanting to miss anything.

We chatted about how cool it was we found fireworks so close to home; how Hannah had a good eye for things; how we didn't have to get eaten by mosquitoes amidst all of the 'oooh' and 'cool!' and 'I LOVED that one!' comments as the colorful show displayed before us.

That particular spot eventually came to an end, but Bill decided to check out other parts of the neighborhood where we saw some fireworks along the horizon, here and there. He would point and say, "Look, girls, over there; did you see that one?" We were looking in all directions, not wanting to miss one firework that might be displayed within our view.

It started to get late, and we were all pretty tired, especially after all that unexpected excitement. Then the girls asked Bill if we could do it again next year. Bill smiled his mischievous smile and replied, "Of course."

When we pulled into the driveway, we all climbed out and rushed to the door, checking inside to see if everything was still there (being that the front door was still unlocked); all was well.

In the distance we could still here the popping of fireworks nearby, giving the girls temptation to keep looking out the window; but it was bedtime, so we would all have to put the lights out and go to sleep.

At least we already had our PJ's on.

© by Dawn Herring

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Magic of Michael Jackson: A Tribute

I was supremely shocked at the news of Michael Jackson's death. As I was driving down the highway with my daughter, she received a text message from a friend. Then I heard it on the radio, confirming the stunning news.

Michael Jackson: a musical icon, a legend, the King of Pop.
He set the standard as a songwriter, dancer, musical genius, and a phenomenal performer. No doubt, he was one to watch and listen to. The way he moved, his feet in motion, his swift twirls, his trademark musical sounds, his groundbreaking music videos. It was how Michael Jackson showed us who he was.

I remember watching his Thriller video on MTV in the 80's when I visited at my best friend's house. I couldn't take my eyes off of him, even when he turned at the end with those freaky eyes, revealing his ghoulish secret to the audience.

I remember listening to his tearful rendition of "She's Out of My Life" on the radio and found myself wanting to cry right along with him. He had a way of drawing you in emotionally through his authenticity.

I memorized every song on his release, Thriller; I was a huge fan.
I drew a pencil/charcoal rendering of Michael in his trademark red jacket, only it was in black and white since I hadn't broken into color at the time. But it was my feeble attempt to show the world (or at least my art classmates at Morris County Vocational School) I was a fan.

I remember the trends he started with the clothing, accessories, and other items, especially the single glittery white glove he was famous for wearing.

I remember my dad noting my overt fascination with Michael. I guess it was obvious considering how I played his music all the time and watched him avidly on TV whenever I had the chance.

My favorite songs by Michael were "She's out of my life," "Beat it," "Billie Jean," and "Rock with You." One thing I noticed about Michael's voice: it was so different from anyone else I had ever heard. His vocals were unique. He set his own style. He was a true artist in every sense of the word.

And that is how I choose to remember him. His music marked my adolescence and my heart. I will truly miss all that he was and the genius he imparted to music and to the world.

Michael Jackson: R.I.P.
Thanks for the unforgettable memories.

© by Dawn Herring

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And the Siren Sounded...

We were completely unsuspecting. I hadn't checked the weather that day. 

I was sitting in my recliner in the bedroom, just getting started on Christina Katz's book, Get Known Before the Book Deal, which covers platform development for writers. Bill had the door open, letting in a nice spring breeze. I noticed a huge gust of wind taking a hold of the trees, the kind that tells of a big storm to come. Then I realized how dark it was getting.

Bill took a trek out the front door to see what was going on, and it didn't look good. A pukey green colored sky was pervading the space between the trees. The wind was getting stronger by the minute. (Bill later heard they were predicting possible wind gusts up to 80 mph.)

I decided to check the weather on Yahoo! and saw that there was severe weather in store. Then Bill turned on the government weather channel where we received minute by minute updates. Then the siren sounded. Yes, THE SIREN SOUNDED. In our city out in the rural country. We've lived here for five years, and not once have we heard a siren sound.

It was truly freaky. There was a tornado spotted only thirty miles west of us, and we were told to take cover.

So my daughter got a blanket, and I got a winter coat to cover ourselves with. Then we huddled in the hallway away from windows. Hannah was talking to her best friend on the cell phone, while I called Mom to let her know we were under a tornado warning.

As I spoke to Mom giving her the blow by blow of what was going on weather wise, Bill was doing the circuit around the house, inside and out, keeping an eye out for any tornadoes that might be headed our way. Yes, in a crises, Bill has always been level headed, calm, and prepared, now with his long rain gear, cowboy hat, and work boots on. Except for the type of hat he was wearing, he reminded me of Inspector Clouseau from the original Pink Panther movies.

He came in once from outside and said the wind gusts were so strong, it blew a squirrel across the road. He said it was quite comical to watch. I just felt bad for the squirrel out in that storm.

One thing I noticed as I huddled in the hallway was the intense pressure I felt in my head. There was a heightened painful pressure between my eyes which I attempted to alleviate by pinching the bridge of my nose between my forefinger and thumb. Plus the base of my skull felt like it was in a vice grip. I had never felt such pressure in a storm before.

A couple of times the lights went out for a couple of seconds and came back on again. Eventually the TV went out, leaving us without updates to accompany the storm.

It continued its wild ways with lots of rain, frequent lightning and that wicked wind stronger than anything we had seen in these parts before.

After about 30 minutes passed, Bill heard that the tornado warning had been cancelled, so we were free to go. I hung up with Mom and told her we'd let her know if anything else started brewing. 

The 'crisis' was over; the storm had calmed down although there was still thunder in the distance. We thanked God for protecting us from the storm, an answer to our verbal prayers as we had huddled in the hallway.

God will sometimes send us a siren sounding when we have made a wrong turn or a unwise decision and will show us the right path to take. Those paths are not easy; they are often the road less traveled, the straight and narrow, with lots of bumps along the way. But we are wise to heed God's siren warning, listening carefully to His voice, always being prepared for what may lay ahead. We can trust His Siren sound; and when we follow its warning, we will never regret walking in His path.

Hebrews 3:15 But never forget the warning: "Today you must listen to His voice. Don't harden your hearts against Him as Israel did when they rebelled." (NLT) 

Yes, it will always be wise to heed God's siren sound.
Have you heard it lately?

© by Dawn Herring

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer Memories

I always feel the start of a new month is a good time to post on my blog.

Ok, so, what comes to mind when you think of June? 

My memories rush to my school days when I would get out of the private school I attended the third week of June while all of the public schools got out a week later. That was the only way I could justify their spring break since my school didn't take one. (Don't ask me why; I still would like to know.)

June was just getting warm enough to change the wardrobe from summer to winter; you know, take out the winter socks and switch to summer stuff. 
I would be remiss to not mention the sock fight my Mom and I used to have during this switcheroosy. Yes, we would throw socks at each other just for the laughs in an attempt to make the change not as boring. But instead of calling it a sock fight, Mom would yell, "Food fight!!" Don't ask me why she did that. Maybe she has a messy memory from the cafeteria in school or something...But it was hilarious. (Of course, this one may be a 'you had to be there' moment, but I though it was worth mentioning since it still makes me laugh thinking about it.)

We didn't just change the small stuff. There were the sweaters to move out to be replaced with cooler ensembles and bathing suits.

Aaah, the bathing suit season. And with bathing suits came Terrace Lake, my absolute favorite place to be all summer (aside from the library), at least on days that it didn't rain and on Saturdays when everyone came out of the woodwork to go swimming. 

Terrace Lake (which is no longer in existence, has been replaced by condos--go figure.) was full of stuff to do. Swimming, of course, was priority, and they had a lot to offer. Three different slides for different sections of the lake (shallow, deep, and deepest), with the tallest one famous for its 25 foot height, which I finally mastered with the help of some friends. Believe me, it looks a lot steeper from the top! (I wasn't an especially strong swimmer, but I did well enough...) 

There was also a dock out in the deepest part of the lake that seemed three miles away to my swimming limbs; I did a lot of floating in order not to wear myself out. I always enjoyed watching my Dad swim using all the right strokes and kicks to get where he aimed. I admired his ability to synchronize his moves that looked so easy to my observation.

I enjoyed the diving boards area, where they had three heights. The lowest height was where my Dad taught me how to dive. Keeping my feet together seemed like a monumental task as an adolescent, but I still enjoyed the experience. There was the highest one that I didn't dare dive from; jumping was what most of the kids did, where the cannonball was famous. So I always made it a point to swim fast to the ladder so I wouldn't get knocked over by cannonball waves from the jumper behind me in line.

Terrace Lake also had a pretty cool, shady, playground area containing swings, monkey bars, see-saws, a whirly bird that I thought I would get my fingers broken on when the big teenagers would make it bang against the middle pole instead of just going around nice and easy; and the huge rock, more like a boulder, that all the kids had to climb on.

There was the annual carnival held at Terrace Lake which was always fun with pony rides, food to buy with tickets (I absolutely loved that part, especially the ice cream), the dunking booth and other attractions.

I also enjoyed the paddle boat ride Dad would take me out on occasionally where we would check out the vegetation that grew in the lake (gross); I was always glad the swimming side didn't look like that. 

Then there was mini-golf with my friends to keep us from getting bored when there was nothing else to occupy us. There was one golf spot that was always a major pain. You had to get the ball the roll through was looked like a roller coaster loop. You had to hit the ball reasonably hard for it to have enough momentum to roll all the way through to the other side where the hole was. It often took three tries for some of the players to make the ball go through.

Terrace Lake was my favorite part of summer, and knowing I'd be there soon after school let out made it worth the wait...(well, almost).

Do you have a favorite place you went as a child in the summertime?

© by Dawn Herring

Friday, May 22, 2009

The American Idol Buzz

Is it just my imagination, or are a lot of people fuming over the new American Idol winner Kris Allen? I've read a few blogs, and I've been disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm for Kris's win. Adam Lambert seems to be getting more press than Kris is. You wouldn't think the runner up would get more attention than the winner himself; but there it is.

I don't think Kris Allen is being given enough credit for his win. Kris is a multi-talented musician and vocalist. I enjoy his down-to-earth acoustic style. The duet he did with Keith Urban was entertaining. It was a sweet song and just the sort of music I would expect Kris to come out with. He has a genuine soulful sound that I think a lot of people enjoy and relate to. Plus he is very creative in his music renderings.

I don't find Kris to be dull or boring. His performances and vocals are heartfelt and authentic, to borrow a word from judge Paula Abdul. I don't think he would have gotten so many votes if he wasn't worthy of them. I understand that Danny's votes may have been a factor, but I'm sure there are a lot of Kris fans out there who voted with their hearts. (Thirty eight million votes in his hometown alone.)

I think the press should be fair to Kris Allen and give him the time that is due him, favorable time worthy of an American Idol winner, one who won fair and square.

A hearty congratulations to you, Kris Allen. I hope you go far and succeed at your dreams for many years to come.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The American Idol Dream

I'm sure my topic today is covered on hundreds of blogs this week. Tonight is the final round in the American Idol competition for season 8. The two contestants are Kris Allen and Adam Lambert. As I have listened to both competitors throughout this season, I've liked some of each of their performances. Many of the songs I'm unfamiliar with since I don't listen to the radio much (just Radio Disney when my teenager is in the car.) Since I know only some of the music they have sung, judging their performance has been a bit more challenging.

But this particular American Idol finale seems to be a historic event that I don't want to miss, since it is the first season I have watched. I don't have hindsight to work from based on previous performances from other seasons so I won't attempt to predict who will win. Last week over 80 million votes were cast, bringing Kris Allen into the final round, voting off Danny Gokey which seemed to be the surprise of a lifetime for the judges. I think they all expected Danny Gokey to be Adam's contender for the Idol crown.

I've read quite a few blogs to gauge what others think will happen in this vocal competition. Some say Adam Lambert will win because he has always had star quality and hasn't wavered. Some say Kris will win because those who were voting for Danny Gokey will vote for Kris rather than for Adam.

Plus I read that Kris has a growing number of voters as he has worked his way up the ranks; I have noticed his performances getting better and more creative, enough to catch my attention, once Anoop Desai was voted off.

Most of America will probably be watching to see the performances, followed by serious text messaging and phones ringing off the hook. 

I look forward to seeing the results of this competition: if Adam Lambert wins as the judges have predicted in the past (before only one million votes separated him and Kris), or if Kris will be the next American Idol.

I'm glad I've taken the time to watch this season, to see the evolution of contestants from beginning to end. I initially watched the show since one of my daughters talked about auditioning for American Idol; but now I watch it because it seems to have become a phenomenon. 

My husband put it well, as he has watched several episodes of it, and I have shared what I read. He thinks a lot of it has to do with how people relate to the contestants, thinking, especially if they've had the idea of auditioning, "I could be like him or her." There is a connection between the contestant and the viewer that the contestant may not be aware of unless they meet in person or have a fan site dedicated to them.  I believe their personalities and attitude also affect how viewers vote, not just on their performance.

We are all people with dreams; some of us follow our dreams; some of us just watch others follow theirs.

It is often when we choose to follow our dreams and make things happen, that God opens doors that we least expect.

The winner of American Idol will no doubt be the recipient of a dream come true.

What are you dreaming today?

© by Dawn Herring

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Ants Go Marching...

My daughter was alarmed to find a very busy trail of ants taking over her bathroom yesterday; especially since she didn't have any food in there to draw their attention. Once she announced their presence, I immediately went in to gauge the situation and to find where they were coming from.

One thing about ants, they are so well organized, like an army. One behind the other they marched; the line started at the floor, looking like they were streaming in from inside the wall. They made their way up the wall in the bathroom on a piece of trim, wound their way up the blind slats and the blind pulls. A large part of the blind was covered in tiny black ants. It truly looked like an ant invasion; something for the Ant Busters to take care of. 

My husband said he would try to get something the next day that wasn't too messy to take care of the problem. As we turned in last night, I was hoping I wouldn't have nightmares about ants invading our entire house. Little did we know that there might be an ant nest inside the fifty year old wall of our main bathroom.

Well, much to my surprise, today, when my husband went in to access the situation, there were just a few stragglers left to remind us of what went on last night. Certainly nothing to be alarmed over. I was amazed after seeing all those ants, there were just a few left, post war, I suppose.

Bill assumed that a larger ant army invaded their territory and decided to take over (meaning that there may still be ants in the wall, quiet as they may be), so the little guys had to run, or march, for cover, mass en route. Rather than be destroyed, they decided to find another base for their home business (finding the best eateries closest to 'home').

Small as ants are, in Proverbs 30:25 they are hailed as unusually wise and prudent. In chapter six verse six, we can all take a lesson from the ants, watching how they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter without having anyone tell them what to do. In other words, ants have a good work ethic! 

But not only are they smart and work hard, they know when it's time to move on.

Sometimes we humans have a tendency to stay in the same place for too long, where we feel safe and comfortable. God often has better, more profitable places for us to be, and He may choose to bring a uncomfortable situation into our lives to move us forward.

But if we choose to follow His lead and trust His plan for us, we will find ourselves in a much better place, safer than the one we were in before. It may not have looked that way seeing it from a distance, or perhaps not seeing it at all, but God is with us. We can trust and believe in His provision.

That's what makes life with God so interesting and surprising. You can never know what kind of plot twist God will create in your life to keep you moving.

(Please note: I want to emphasize my condolences to all the families around the country who have lost a job, their business, or a home in this roiling economy; my heart goes out to you, and my prayers are with you as you deal with these unexpected losses and troubles. May God's mercy be upon you as you access your situation and make plans for your future.)

© by Dawn Herring

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cleaning out

They always say spring is a good time to clean out. I've never actually been one to follow the cleaning protocol when it comes to my home. I just work each day, managing to get one thing done or another with no specific plan in mind. I found that when I did have a plan, the plan was just a taskmaster with a dictator attitude, intimidating me into thinking that I wasn't working hard enough or fast enough. Thus, the plan when into file 13.

My husband shared a bit of wisdom with me when it came to work. He said it's very easy to live to work all the time. When you find the first thing that comes to mind is your 'to do' list instead of something you're looking forward to, you know you have the mindset that you're living to work. It can be a frustrating way to think, and a bummer approach to life. Because, you never do get all the work done, and it's always there waiting for you the next day. (And the house will not disintegrate if it doesn't get dusted TODAY.) (I'm not referring to anyone who works a job outside the home and has a deadline to meet, obviously.) 

My husband went on to give me the antidote for living to work. It's just the opposite: working to live. That certainly turns the perspective on its head, don't you think? Working to live. It kind of gives what you do a true sense of purpose. You have to ask yourself if your work brings life.

Well, that brings me back to my introduction: cleaning out. They say when you declutter your home, it actually feels different. It opens up paths of energy that were formerly blocked. And, of course, you realize as you go through the piles and closets and shelves, a garbage can is a good thing to have close at hand, or bins: one for throw away, one for give away, and one to keep...somewhere. Plus things have a tendency to present themselves when you least expect. Then you find yourself saying, "I wondered where that book/notebook/kitchen gadget went to."
It's always nice to find something you were looking for; basically a perk for cleaning out.

Well, the first place I decided to work on was my office, since that's where I check my emails, do my office managing work, and where I keep my cat Sophie's water and food dishes. I figured my desk was the perfect place to start dismantling piles which included mail, recent bills, homemade note pads, The Writer,  Homeschooling Today, my growing novel manuscript (which is safely in its own file), and other miscellany. I also had my computer desk which was covered in swatches of paper with notes taken. Plus on the floor I had goodie bags left over from my most recent dental cleaning and photos developed from last year. 

It is absolutely amazing how quickly stuff piles up. And just looking at it was making me tired. It took a couple of hours, but I threw out so much I was amazed. That always feels good, to just get rid of stuff I don't need, making room for the new stuff. Or just plain 'ole good energy.

I can see my desk and computer table again, not to mention all of the floor without bags and such. 

They say it's best to start cleaning out in one room, working your way from one pile to another. It does take time, but once you get started, you may end up feeling like you're on a mission: Mission Clean Out. You might even find yourself putting on your detective hat wondering where you got that something-or-other from (and it can get quite gross if you're cleaning out your fridge. My husband who had a stronger stomach than I do has taken on that job more than once.)

Once you've cleaned out one room and are ready to tackle the next, don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back for your progress. You might want take a good long look at your handiwork before it starts cluttering up again. Better yet, take a photo of the room so you have a visual to work toward when it's time to clean out again. (Or perhaps, throw stuff out before it becomes a pile. Yeah, I know. It seems like too much to ask. It's easier to just leave it for the next day; maybe that photo really will come it handy...)

Now I'll reward myself with some time to do something I really want to do. Play with my cat. Laugh with my husband. Live a lighter life. Breathe in the spring air. Inhale all that new energy.
And thank God for giving me the idea in the first place. Can you imagine a cluttered Heaven?

(c) 2009 by Dawn Herring

Thursday, April 2, 2009


When you think of the month of April, what comes to mind? April showers? Spring equals warm weather (at least in the south)? How about the birds beginning to build their nests and catching up on old times (like last spring's happenings and how the kids are doing now that they have flown the coop)?

Well, the last thing I would think of with the month of April starting out would be winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour; that 's what we've got here in North Texas as a nice big cold front blows in from the north.

As I stood in front of my trunk attempting to get my cold bags out for grocery shopping, I thought I was going to get knocked over. I could barely get the car door open. Then there were the empty plastic bags left in the trunk from WalMart with one getting snatched up in the wind and blown into the next parking lot in milli-seconds.

Honestly! April. Hmmm. How about sunflowers with their warm dark middles and bright sunny dispositions that look like they're smiling at you when you stop to admire them? Or white billowy clouds on a nice 70 degree day with an occasional breeze to flutter my hair bringing the sweet smell of spring?

Well, we must not forget that it is spring. And with spring, especially in Texas, I must remind myself that the winds are inevitable.

My husband remembers when we moved into our house two years ago in April, we had a two week stint of what we call winter temps that took us by surprise. So April can be quite fickle here in North Texas. It's always full of surprises.

And sometimes tornadoes. Yes, the spring and autumn months are often cluttered with volatile weather. We always hear stories from folks who witnessed tornadoes in neighboring towns and talk about what got damaged or wiped out. Texas tornadoes are part of spring's wardrobe, but it's not very pretty.

You can always tell when a strange weather pattern in emerging: the green/yellow sky that almost looks like someones's regurgitated dinner. And the birds often get really quiet; they know what's coming. And the dogs stop barking. And the cats just gaze out the window wondering where all the birds went.

But I know Who creates the wind and sends the rain and whips up the tornadoes and controls the storms.

"The Lord displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet."
(Nahum 1:3,4) NLT
"He sends the snow like white wool; he scatters frost upon the ground like ashes. He hurls the hail like stones. Who can stand against his freezing cold? Then at his command, it all melts. He sends his winds, and the ice thaws." (Ps.147:16-18) NLT

Knowing this reassures me that nothing happens by accident; I can trust God to carry me through the storm, even when I feel like I might be blown away.
Because he also said, "Peace, be still." And the storm ceased--just like that. (Mark 4:39) KJV

What storm are you facing today? Instead of being blown away by the wind, be comforted by God's peace. Even in the midst of the storm.

(But, of course, don't forget to take cover, especially in a tornado warning.)

(c) 2009 by Dawn Herring

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wet Tales of a Feather

It has been a cold, dreary, wet week here in Texas, with temps in the 30's and 40's. Now that wouldn't be so intolerable if it hadn't been prefaced with four days of 80 degree weather. So I had to remind myself that it is still winter, and I was just plain spoiled with unseasonably mild Texas weather.

Despite the unpleasant weather which can make a day seem to drag its butt around waiting for the sun to unveil itself, March shoots like a missile at warp speed; have you noticed? It seems that 2009 has been like that since day one. Maybe they're right when they say that time goes faster as you get older.

Remember those days during the school year when you thought summer would never arrive; and then it did at warp speed? And the next school year would rear its ugly head before you were ready.

But then when you graduated from high school, you realized you would either get more education or get a job. Yes, a job. No more loafing around the house, reading a good library book, enjoying the summer breezes. Or hanging with your friends til all hours, not having to worry about the alarm clock waking you up the next morning to kick your butt into gear for work, especially on a day when there is a cold rain coming down in torrents. (Not exactly the best wake-me-up for anybody.)

So, yes, watching the cold rain come down is not so bad when you put it all in perspective. It won't last forever. And we happen to be in a drought here in Texas; so the rain is desperately needed.

And the birds seem to be having a superb time with the accumulated puddles of water that they view as custom-designed bird baths. So they congregate in the trees that surround the rain-made puddles, having their bird council meetings, with head bird, Big Crow, giving out bird bath schedules and the best times for the early bird to get the worm.

And then they dismiss themselves into the other trees to discuss this new schedule and find it to be rather limiting. So they take a bath when they see fit to and start a party revolt against Crow Bird, their ruffled feathers flying in defiance.

Then Big Crow swoops out in a huff, attempting to intimidate with his large wing span, leaving all of the neighborhood birds running for cover, with small remnants of worms in their mouths, grabbed hastily for dinner in case Big Crow comes around again and leaves them without a worm to their nest eggs.

Until the next bird council meeting next month, when the sun will hopefully be shining.

P.S. Don't forget to stop and watch the birds (perhaps in lieu of stopping to smell the roses.)

(c)2009 by Dawn Herring

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Laser Chase

When I retrieved my cat Sophie at the private home in Plano, Texas where she was currently residing with her brother and two sisters, I remember one of the activities her former owners indulged in with the kittens: the laser light. I remember Sophie tearing up and down the stairs in the house enjoying this game of 'cat and laser' to the full. I decided I would need to get a laser for our home, so Sophie could enjoy that form of exercise.

That was three years ago. I attempted to find a laser light that didn't cost an arm and a leg, but I wasn't aware of the right place to find one.

Until I went to my cat's vet for her yearly check-up and vaccinations. There I was told that WalMart carried a laser light cheap. So I went there to aisle 15 where I was told I would find it. Unfortunately, they changed the spot where they sell them. So I didn't find it till the next week with help from a cashier working nearby.

I finally acquired my laser light; and Sophie was in for a surprise.

Little did I know how much Sophie would enjoy this activity still three years later. Talk about 'crazy cat!' Once I turned that laser on, she was spinning around in circles following that light around on the two rugs in our bedroom. It reminded me of a dog chasing its tail! It was quite an amusing sight, especially the first time around.

But the fun didn't end there. Oh, no. Sophie was totally into chasing that laser from one end of the house to the other. It was my challenge to keep that laser in sight as it went around two corners in the process. If she didn't see it, she'd stop dead in her tracks until it came back into view. So she was truly keeping me on my toes (although I wouldn't classify that as exercise).

It amazed me how many times she would tear down that hallway from one end to the other (which is approximately 55 feet), with tail arched in play. She honestly sounds like a horse galloping when she runs that fast!

One of the things she enjoys when we use the laser is when I shut it off and ask her, "Where did it go?" I don't turn it back on until she answers with a certain puzzled meow while she looks for it darting her eyes around the room. Then I turn it back on, which follows another streak down the hall (at 55 miles per hour).

After just a few minutes, Sophie gets tired; but she still wants to follow the laser anyway, at least with her eyes. But I tell her, if she doesn't chase it, she'll have to wait til next time.

At Sophie's latest check up with the vet, I found out that she is getting a bit chubby at 13 pounds! So I discussed my options with getting Sophie a bit slimmer: Exercise and a reduction on her daily food amount. The vet explained to me that in order to get Sophie to eat less I would have to give her small amounts of food from a pre-measured source throughout the day, so she wouldn't eat all her food before the 24 hours was up. So instead of measuring a cup a day, I reduced it to 3/4 cup a day and measured out 7 days into Ziploc bags.

Each day I would start with a bit of food for breakfast and give her a bit more every couple of hours. If I wasn't home to do this, I'd double up the portion for the time I'd be out. We've been doing this for three weeks. I've only had issues with Sophie's nagging me for food a couple of times. Through this process I have been able to gauge how much she eats during the day and during the night (she eats less at night). So I give her more that half before night time. (This came after using a long term feeder for at least two years.)

So between the twice daily exercise (if I remember!) and the slimmer feedings, I'm hoping to get Sophie down to twelve pounds by the end of the year. She's heavy carrying her with one arm! I've now added a new nickname to her long list: chubby-wub!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Unveiling

It's been a week already since the "Unveiling" as I like to call it. I took my now-17-year old daughter Sarah to her orthodontist last Tuesday. It's been over 2 1/2 years since we consulted with Dr. Crain, Sarah's orthodontist, concerning her need for braces. And every six weeks since then, I have taken Sarah to her treatments.

Well, this particular appointment was a long time in coming and greatly anticipated: Sarah can now celebrate having straight teeth without braces for the first time! A hearty congrats are in order, wouldn't you say? Believe me, I personally understand what it's like to go through such a treatment for an extended period of time; and according to Dr. Crain, she was one of his best patients.

And now she has a beautiful smile to show for it!

So, the big day arrived; I picked her up from school, and we headed to Plano, Texas where Dr. Crain's office is located on Coit Rd. Since this was to be her last treatment visit, I asked her if she wanted me to go in with her. So I accompanied her for the "Unveiling."

First, Sarah had to pick a movie to watch during the proceedings. She couldn't decide between High School Musical and The Princess Diaries. I thought they were both good choices. But since Sarah already had music playing in her ears with her MP3 player, I suggested she go with Princess Diaries since it's not a musical. It was very interesting watching people walking upside down from my point of view in the extra chair I was sitting in. But I did enjoy some of my favorite lines, like when the grandmother, played by Julie Andrews, tells her granddaughter, played by Anne Hathaway, that she is a princess by blood, and she responds to such news by saying, "Shut up!"

I think the thing about the "Unveiling" that surprised me the most was how quickly the braces come off at the end of treatment. Dr. Crain basically used what would amount to orthodontic pliers to remove the brackets all in one straight line, removing the whole top portion of braces in one fell swoop! He did the same with the lower brackets. Then I realized that the removal of the braces are not the part of the procedure that makes it so time consuming. It's the cleaning off of the cement, the preparation and installation of the permanent lower retainer, and then the dreaded cleaning of the teeth, which turned out, as it usually does, to be quite a bloody procedure, mainly on the top teeth.

But Sarah was a trooper, watching her movie, listening to her tunes, and laughing at the funny lines while she checked out Anne Hathaway's acting prowess.

After all the clean up, it was time for them to take an impression for the preparation for the removable retainer she would wear every night in order to keep or 'retain' was she worked so hard to achieve: A pearly white smile that would make Julia Roberts proud.

Then we left to have lunch and do a bit of shopping.

We returned for the retainer fitting and instructions on the retainer's daily care. Much to my surprise, Sarah's retainer was not the usual wire retainer that most come to expect from post orthodontic care. It reminded me immediately of what an invisalign would looke like. It is clear plastic in the shape of Sarah's teeth as they are perfectly straight, based on the impression. So when she puts it on, you can't even tell she's wearing it. I thought that was truly cool. She did, too.

So, Sarah is officially 'Unveiled' and happy with her new look.
At this point, she's ready for her close up!

Friday, January 16, 2009


Actually, he also used a few other words to get us to show off our pearly whites: the classic ‘cheese!’, ‘guacamole!’, and ‘peaches!’ (My daughter Hannah had to remind me of that one!)

Of course, you may be wondering who said this and why….

When we visited with my extended family over the Christmas holiday, we had an in-house portrait session done in my sister Denise's home (thanks, Sis!) by none other than Robert Matthewson, a photographer for many years, who did both my wedding almost 20 years ago as well as my sister's wedding almost 10 years ago. So, it was basically like a family reunion extraordinaire with "Robby" as our host photographer. We've known Robby since we were in school and church together.

Before the session started, we asked Robert what we should call him. He said that "Robby" was fine; it just reminded him of what era we're from since that was his childhood name. It was so cool to see him again after all these years. And we had the best time, hilariously so.

Now, this photo session was at my Mom's request since none of my family likes having their picture taken. Mom just loves photos of family. She keeps small photo albums sitting on either side of her place at her dining room table with pages open to photos of her and my husband Bill, one of me and my sis, and ones of her grandkids. So photos mean the world to Mom. Thus, the photo session.

Up front, Mom had a few pictures in mind for the occasion: one photo of everyone in our clan, including our newest member, my niece Rebecca, who is 3 1/2 years old. The last photo that was taken of all of us was from 3 1/2 years ago when we went to visit in the spring. That was before Rebecca was born. So this updated picture was of utmost importance to Mom. She also likes having one with all of us girls in it. Last time she dubbed it for Mother's Day.

Well, that's where it started. But once we got going, we almost couldn't stop, ‘til we had every conceivable combination of family members. Once we had the whole family done, which was quite an accomplishment with 10 faces, hands, legs, and 3 sets of braces to contend with; there was the update with my family, which we managed a nice shot for.

Next, we decided to get all of the girls (again); then all of the guys (3 with Dad, my husband Bill and Uncle Jay). This was a first.

Then there were the cousins together. We managed to get all four of them smiling pretty sitting on a couch with their heads together. Robby tried one with all of them on the floor with their heads meeting in the middle, but the light was too bright for my niece, Elena, so we scratched that pose.

Then my sis decided it would be nice to have a “Sister” pose; we hadn’t had one since we were young adults as a gift to Mom and Dad.
Then the other sisters, my two daughters, teamed up for some shots together. This was where Robby really shone with his sense of humor, as he kept calling Hannah “Gertrude” and then encouraged them, despite wanting to strangle each other, to try to make nice for the picture, at least. He had Hannah laughing so hard, she had her head down, trying to gain her composure. We did manage to get a very sweet shot with the two of them smiling sincerely. Priceless, of course.

The original ‘nuclear’ photo was done with Mom, Dad, Denise, and me.
Then it was Mom and Dad, the patriarch’s of the family. There was the smoochy one, encouraged by Robby, then some lovey ones, which turned out really nice.

At that point, I think we were all spent from laughing, posing, and posing some more. Then it was time to see all the shots on my sister’s TV which was cool. One of them had to be viewed sideways, which made for picking a pose interesting. Then there was one with the 3 guys, where my brother-in-law Jay had black dots blinking over his eyes, making him look like a space alien. That really got the laughter rolling. It was quite a distraction in attempting to pick the best pose. But we managed!

Jay was super helpful with writing down all the numbers of the poses we picked for each family as we went through the session on the TV screen. It was 11 pm by the time we were all finished, and then it was time for my family to head back to the hotel.

We thanked Robby for his terrific attitude, hilarious sense of humor, and for making our photo session so memorable.

This was one of the many family Christmas ‘memories’ for 2008 from our Christmas road trip, which included driving from Texas to New Jersey with a couple of stops in between that I’ll share in a future posting or two.

Hope you enjoyed this posting, and don’t forget to ‘smile!’ in your next photo session. Hope yours will be as memorable as ours was.

© 2009 by Dawn Herring

Friday, January 2, 2009

Life in 2009: Happy New Year!

I can't believe it's January 2, 2009 already, and I haven't even had the chance to wish all of my readers a Happy New Year! The days continue to go by in a blur, no matter what year it is. That's my only consolation.

I wanted to take the time in this posting to thank every person who has ever read my blog, whether you've read from the first posting, or have just joined me, I so appreciate you! I hope the postings have been either encouraging, thought provoking, or laughter inducing. You're always welcome to leave a comment if a particular posting has left an impression on you.

I can't believe it's 2009 already. It will be interesting to see what this year holds for me and my family. And what it will hold for you and your family!

I do know this: God is good, and He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

I don't know what each of your views are religiously, but I just want to say that any time we spend with God is always time well spent. And I'll leave it at that.

What are your plans or goals for the year 2009?

I'm still in ruminating mode from our Christmas road trip to see Mom, Dad, Sis and family. (I will try to share some of that experience with you in future postings!) So I haven't put a lot of thought into my goals for 2009. (I'm still unpacking, doing laundry, and acclimating to having my cat on my lap full time again; I did miss her while we were away.)

I know that my husband Bill and I are starting from a fresh place family-wise with the passing of his father last year. The death of a loved one changes everything about life, how we view it, and what we do with it. I'm sure those of you who read my postings, if you've had the death of a loved one, understand my viewpoint. There is so much to learn about life and about ourselves when we view life from a perspective of change like that. I found that there is a space left behind where a loved one once was. And it's ok to have that space. It's something you have to acclimate to. And sometimes it bites. It pains. But that's ok, too. It's always good to talk about it, pray about it, and digest it. Then grow from it and move forward from that place to the rest that life has to offer. And make it the best it can be for you and for those you love.

Life is often our response to difficult circumstances; it can seem like we go from one challenge to the next. And perhaps we do. But what we glean from it, and what we do with it is what matters.

So, for this year, shine some light on a life today. Be kind. Say something loving and meaningful to someone in your life. And do something good for yourself as well. (Loving your neighbor as yourself starts with loving yourself!)

We can start this year with great expectation of what God will do; and what we decide we want to make happen. The right choices and decisions we make now will only produce good and prosperous things for us in the future.

Great expectations, right choices, and a some time with the Creator. Sounds like a winning combination to a great start of a great year--2009!

(c) 2009 by Dawn Herring

Popular Posts

Dawn's #JournalChat Favorite (formerly Pick of the Day)

You can now view Dawn's #JournalChat Favorites on my website:

Wednesday's Pick (9/27) Dream Journaling Puts Your Dream Fairy Back to Work for You by Mari McCarthy

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Tuesday's Pick (8/20) 7 Tips I Have Learned About Connecting with My Purpose for Writing My Memoir by Kathleen Pooler

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Wednesday's Pick (8/14) Making the Mind-Body Connection by Mari McCarthy

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Friday's Pick (12/16) Journal Writing Prompt 31-Priorities by Dolly Garland

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Today's #JournalChat Pick of the Day

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Friday's Pick (8/19) Altars to Remember by Amanda

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(6/9) Using Your Journal to Clear Your Clutter

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(6/3) "What Oprah Knows For Sure"-#1

(6/2) Sharing Your Thank You and Love through Personal Journaling

(6/1) Kid Quotes are the Best

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(5/30) Spiral-Bound and Spellbound

(5/27) Dare to Dream

(5/26) What Lies Beneath

(5/25) Biggest Mistake Forgiven

(5/23) Journal Writing Your Wrong Ways

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(5/18) Travel Journal For Kids

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(4/28) Secrets Journaling Prompt

(4/27) The Miracle of Mindfulness

(4/26) Your Philosophy

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(4/21) Journal Writing Prompt 18: Busy Life/Stress/Responsibilities

(4/19) A Week's Worth of Journaling Prompts: Expanding Creativity

(4/15) Journal-Keeping: Tips and Ideas for Writers

(4/14) Mind Your P's and Q's: Part I

(4/13) Journal Writing Through Life's Passages: Moving

(4/12) Appreciate Journaling: Children Need to Write

(4/11) Journaling for Healing, Health, and Happiness
(4/7) Yellow Legal Pad

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(3/30) Let the Left Brain Know What the Right Brain is Doing: An Interview with Dr. Lucia Capacchione

(3/28) Movies Journal Prompt

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(3/23) Journal to the Soul

(3/22) A Reflective Writing Honoring of Women's History Month

(3/21) A Week's Worth of Journaling Prompts: Vulnerability

(3/18) How Journaling Changed My Life: Receiving Journal Insight

(3/14) Let Them Play in the Backyard

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(3/10) Memories

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Three Steps Toward Yourself (as published in SFC Newsletter, Dec 08 edition)

Accountability: to give a reckoning or explanation for one’s actions, responsible.

When most people think of accountability, they often negatively associate it with answering to others, such as a spouse, a friend, a mentor, or, in most cases, a boss. As a writer, you are your own boss, which is one of the reasons that you need to be accountable to yourself. And it can be a positive experience rather than a negative one.

The first step in being accountable to yourself as a writer is setting goals for your writing and keeping track of projects you want to finish. Incurring a deadline for yourself can help
motivate you in this area. This step can also include daily writing goals. Some authors plan how many words or pages per day they will write.
I’ve set goals for myself as a writer by making them reachable and attainable. This year I have set a goal to write at least one scene for my novel per week and at least one other piece,
whether it be memoir or essay, per week. That can mean just making notes, writing a first draft, or revising a draft.
As long as your goals keep you moving forward and you’re making progress, then you know you’re headed in the right direction.

Once you have your goals set, the next step in accountability to yourself is writing down what you accomplish each day. You can use a daily calendar just for writing or keep track of your
daily accomplishments on your computer. I designed a custom monthly writing calendar. It helps me track what I write daily, whether or not I’ve met my goal for the week, and it has
space for ideas for future writing pieces. I also have a spot to keep track of books I’m reading for that month. I use abbreviations to keep the daily writing easier and to save space. As I review each completed month, I can go back to see what I’ve accomplished and keep track of when I wrote each piece.
Whether you use something pre-made or customize something for yourself, use whatever works for you and helps you stay accountable to yourself.

A third, and perhaps most important, aspect in accountability in your writing is taking care of yourself as a writer. Than can mean giving yourself space and not being hard on yourself if
you don’t reach your goals each day or each week.
Flexibility and refreshment are paramount to your health as a writer. It also frees up your creativity and can actually help you produce more quality writing in the long run.
I enjoy writing in my journal, reading fiction or memoir, and watching a good movie with my family. Taking a walk, listening to music, talking with your family members, and just taking time to sit and enjoy life are all ways you can be good to
yourself—and ultimately accountable—as a writer.

Learn to celebrate your accomplishments and your uniqueness as a writer. That’s one of the best ways to be accountable—to yourself!