Category Archives: Writing

Turn Heads With These 10 Gramazing Words

Awesome is an excellent word.  So is amazing. But don’t you agree they’re over used?

I had an awesome time.  That movie was amazing.  How ya doing?

Amazingly awesome.

I like to use the A words reverently, sparsely, when no other words will do.

Maybe you’d like some alternate words to use too?  Try These 10 gramazing stand-in words. They’re fun, and just as powerful. Sprinkle them in your writing or in your feedback to others.

Kryptonian You reached kryptonian heights with that speech!

Fly That car is so fly!

Kickass  Those are some kickass moves!

Wicked That sequel was wicked!

Transcendent I am blown away by his transcendent writing.

Capital You did a capital job on the presentation!

Magnificent The hotel was simply magnificent!

Rawk That song is so rawk!

The honey pot The finale was the honey pot – a sweet ending to a perfect day.

Double rainbow brilliant Are you kidding me? That was double rainbow brilliant!


Why not try your hand at coming up with your own sparkling wordage to describe something really impressive?

How about exponentially excellent. Deluxe. The capstone. Over the top great. Phi Beta Kappa…

And when no other word will do,

go ahead and use awesome.


Facing Death Every Day

Today's guest blogger is Pastor and Author Charles Spurgeon

I say this, Christian brothers, I have joy in what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for you. That is why I face death every day. -Paul the Apostle

We die daily, said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age.

We have to bear the sneer of the world–that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse.

Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth be not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. The devil little cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in him.

The Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame.

Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God.

Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour, you need these things more than ever, and may God the Eternal Spirit display his omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher,

we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

What Do Dogs Dream About?

I love to watch my dog sleep.  He curls up on our couch or his fluffy doggy bed, head and paws touching, tail tucked close to his body and falls asleep in what seems like seconds.  Soon I hear little woof-woofs while his nose twitches and paws move gently as if running through air. Is he dreaming? Is he chasing the bunny, playing at the dog park, or running to greet me?  Or, is his twitching and sleep barking nothing more than reflexive? What does science say about dog dreams?

He hears something, I think it was a car horn. He wakes, pops his head up and looks around the room and our eyes meet.  He seems confused, probably wondering,

How did I get here?  Wasn’t I running with the deer in the woods? Didn’t I chase the squirrel up the tree? I came so close to the edge of the forest where I have never been before.


His head drops back down and he sighs deeply, sometimes he yawns, then he slop slops his mouth and swallows.  Maybe his dream gave him a juicy steak or his favorite –  a hot dog.  Whatever may have happened, or not happened, he is off to sleep again.

I love my beautiful, gentle, boy, and I adore him when he sleeps. I’m convinced he dreams, just like you and I dream. I laugh when he sleep-barks and am contented by the sound of his rhythmic breathing.  I have to resist the pull to snuggle him close, to stroke his back, scratch behind his ear, and lay my head on his chest.  The boom boom of his heart moves me and the single lick to my face is a sweet gift – he tells me everything is alright, I am loved, I am safe. And in case he had a bad dream and needs the same reassurance, I tell him everything is alright. I’m right here buddy. You are safe, go back to sleep and dream those doggy things.

And just-like-that, he does.

Would My Dad Know Who I Am Now?

Father’s Day is a happy day for some, and a sad day for others.  And then there are those like me who are happy/sad.  My dad is gone, but I have a husband who is a wonderful father to my three boys. Now we celebrate the day spoiling him with presents, good food, ice cream, and miniature golf.

My father died when I was twenty.  I have spent more years living without him than with him.  The hardest part for me now is realizing he never got to know the grown up me.  He knew me as a child, his youngest daughter.  I was daddy’s little girl, but my heart aches when I remember how mean I was in my later teenage years.

He knew me when I was bratty and terribly moody.  I have one vivid memory of a sunday afternoon when he drove me back to nursing school. I don’t know what he said or did, but I clicked my tongue, rolled my eyes, and said something horrible to him.  Did he shush me, or lecture me about my behavior? No.  He just looked away and watched the numbers change on the elevator.

He died shortly after that. Why is it on Father’s Day I have to remember that stupid day?

If I had a magic bean that could grant me one day with my dad, would he know me when he saw me? Would he recognize my face, my voice? It’s been thirty-one years and I’m not who I once was. I’ve changed in so many ways.


I would know him.  His deep brown eyes, his big, toothless smile.  He loved popcorn, country music, horseshoes, and staying up late to watch John Wayne and Kung-Fu movies.  He was most content reclining in his lawn chair in our backyard, smoking his lucky strikes while listening to the birds songs and the scratchy buzzing of the locusts.

I would know my father.  He is etched in my memory, cut into my heart. I’d recognize his voice, his walk, his whistling.  He’d smell of old spice and Wisk laundry detergent.

My tall, kind, patient, long-suffering, always there till he wasn’t, dad.

I think he would know me. I imagine him saying,

Sweetie, I saw it all.  Your career, your wedding.  I was there when your boys were babies – handsome kids. Will reminds me of myself when I was his age.  I saw them walk across the stage to get their diplomas.  I saw it all.  I’ve watched you all these years, and you have made me so proud. I love you.

Of course he would know me – he’s my dad. He would always know me.

I love you too dad. Miss you. XO

Me and my dad.
Me and my dad.

Originally published June 16, 2014

3 Ways To Get Noticed

You can write a better than great blog post, but if you only get a handful of readers, are you ok with that? Of course not. The point of blogging is to share your opinions, experiences, and knowledge with the world.

With a potential 3 billion people audience and 150 million bloggers worldwide, getting people to read your content is a challenge.

It starts with an intriguing headline.

Ask a question. Solve a problem. State a claim. Make a list.

Your reader has clicked in, now you need to deliver what you promised.

BAM! Get to the point.

We all scroll and skim. Trim the fat and get to the meat or we are off to the next headline before you can say, Tic-Tac Sir?



Give me eye candy.

Break up your text with cool-with-attitude pictures and images that invoke my emotions and make me want to stay awhile.



Teach me.

Life-hack me. Tell me something I didn’t know. Give me a short cut or a brilliantly unique perspective.

Make me come away with thinking, finally, after so much digital time suck, I have found you.

There you are!
There you are!


Give me a bonus.

Something I wasn’t expecting whether it be a tip on free stock photos or a link to Starbucks secret menu.

Most of us bloggers are small satellites in cyberspace.

small guy


To get noticed don’t be run-of-the-mill average. Stand out even once, and your audience will keep coming back for more.

6 Places I Find Inspiration for Writing


All the top social media blogs I read tell me where to find ideas for hot blogging content.  So off I go browsing Amazon’s top sellers for my niche, check out Drudge, and see what’s trending on Twitter.  Next stop: Copyblogger and time suck some more, and then I notice the clock has tick-tocked to dinner hour and I’ve got nothing written.

What is wrong with me? Do I have writer’s block? Am I a procrastinator? Or am I trying too hard and discouraged because I’m such a teensy fish in a multitudinous ocean.

If I don’t come up with a killer headline, or a list of how-to’s and secrets that will change your life – I am DOOMED.  You will leave me to read a better scripted blog post by a social media rock star who has the content that delivers what YOU want.

The influencers’ advice isn’t working for me.

Truth? I want to write what I want to write in the way that I write.  I know there are at least three people who read my blog and come back faithfully. Thousands would be cool. But three is enough. Instead of being a me-too writer I’m a come-alive writer.  And I will write for three.

Where I Find Inspiration for Writing:


  • Conversations: I talk to people and listen with the intent to learn.  I find out who they are, what they’ve been through, what they like, what their dreams and aspirations are. I ask, “Tell me your story.”  That’s the best content you are ever going to find.  Real life, real people.
  • Museums: I took the above picture at the Rochester MAG one sunday afternoon.  That’s my son off to the side listening to the pipe organ concert.  It was transcendent, holy.  I was moved to reflect and consider the lilies.  As I stroll the museum halls I take notes of ideas, my feelings, and memories invoked by a work of art.
  • Nature: It is vital to be quiet and escape from the constant connection to the digital world.  Whether it be sitting on a hillside, playing in the snow, walking through the woods – some of my best writing comes from being still and listening to the heartbeat of nature.
  • Family: Past, present, and future. Aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, pets. I read old letters or journals from those who have passed. I talk to my boys and ask about their day.  They are my muse. I’m blown away when they tell me they liked what I wrote. I’m euphoric when I see them write, read their words, and consider maybe I inspired them, just a little?
  • Music: I will often listen to an album and either write by hand or type on a blank page unedited, freely, continuously until I’m satisfied I’ve emptied my creative bucket.
  • Experience: Crazy things have happened to me. I have cheated death. I have teetered on the edge of cliffs and have had rocks thrown at me. I could fill a thousand journals with knowledge, wisdom, thoughts, fears, truth.

There is inspiration everywhere, we just have to keep the internal critic away and use whatever inspires us.

Here’s a nugget of truth: write what you like, in your voice.  Don’t try to fit the mold, break the mold. And in the end, be you. The world wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

Be a Halloween Hero: Give a Top 10 Candy


Halloween has got to be one of the best days ever – Ring a door bell, say the magic words and ding-ding-ding – candy is delivered into your plastic pumpkin bucket.  I love Halloween! The sound of rustling leaves, the chatter of kids and parents, giggles, and an occasional shriek or “boo”.  For us, it’s never been about spooks and ghouls, it’s always been about the candy.  The goal: get out there and get it because it’s the Willy Wonka jackpot of chocolates,  sweet n’ sours, and everything wonderful!


My fellow Americans, I charge you to be generous and give the kiddos what they want.  They have put weeks into planning and making costumes, will endure hot and sticky masks and itchy make-up, and have rehearsed their Trick-or Treats and Thank You’s.  So don’t be a tightwad or Halloween scrooge.  Don’t give out any of this going right into the garbage crap:

No list

If you want to see happy monsters, be a superstar and give out these Top 10 All-Time-Sure-to-Please-Favorite candy:

  1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  2. M&M’s (Peanut Butter or Pretzel are wicked!)
  3. Snickers
  4. Kit Kats
  5. Twix Bars
  6. Butterfingers
  7. Sour Patch Kids
  8. Skittles
  9. Airheads (regulation size)
  10. Almond Joy

Remember, NO fun size or mini anything.  If you are going to give mini’s then let them take a HANDFUL.  Anything less and you might as well turn your lights off and go to bed.

P1150595Any other not to be missed candy suggestions you want to include? Add a comment.

Never Hire This Guy to Do Your Yard Work


Three things I hate to do: ironing, painting, and weeding. Ironing: solved. I buy wrinkle-free no fuss clothes.

Painting: taken care of. My husband loves to do it and agrees that I should stay away from a paint brush.  My hatred for the task is blatant. I leave unsightly drip marks, missed spots, and I ruin brushes by dipping them too far in the paint can.  He’s fired me from painting and it’s fine with me.  I thank Shel Silverstein for his help in getting me out of that chore.

If you have to dry the dishes 
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore

I got out of weeding for a long while because my mom liked to do it.  Pull this, whack that, trim here, get every green thing out till all that is left is thinned out perennials and black dirt. She considered weeding an extreme sport and went off the deep end with what should be plucked and what should not.  We had no choice but to let her go as chief gardener.  We’ve given her sock sorting instead.  It’s ok that I have to do them over after she leaves.  Sorting for a ten feet family can be tricky.

Weeding is now my headache.  Either I suck it up and do it, or I allow the vegetation to creep over my beautiful stone pathways,


crawl up my siding, and choke to death my lilies, roses, and various other flowers the owners before me lovingly planted and nurtured.

Ribbet collage

My yard is too big for me to handle, so I hired this guy. He said he’d work for chicken.


Huge mistake. This is his idea of pulling up weeds:


He gets an A for enthusiasm, stamina, and he’s freakin’ adorable, but his technique was slipshod, messy. All I asked was for a little help pulling up some weeds, and he goes berserker on me. Dirt flying willy nilly, ripping through roots with his teeth, digging down deep all while making this high pitched ear piercing sound.


I’ve learned my lesson.  If you want a job done right, don’t hire your mom or your dog. Hire a professional.

After receiving his chicken wages and a long overdue bath, he settles in for a well earned nap. Take another look at my first picture. Can you spy Frodo doing his “yard” work?

P1150011How about you, have you regretted hiring a non-professional?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments….

5 Sure Signs of an Egomaniac: It’s All About Selfie

Big EgoWhy do some people have such huge egos? You see it all the time in celebrities, the fifteen-minute famers, the co-worker who takes credit for everything (even your ideas), and the friend who is just too into herself. Does she really think I want to see yet one more selfie?

Here’s the thing, a big ego is seriously stupid and even dangerous.


5 Sure Signs of an Ego-maniac:

  • You bask in recognition and live for the cheers of your audience. You crave the limelight.
  • You think you know everything and and never admit mistakes, never apologize.
  • You take credit for other people’s ideas and work.
  • Your business card or signature list every degree, credential, or certification you have achieved and then some.
  • Conversations are one sided: all you talk about is you. You have no interest in learning about others.


You, You, You, You. You are the center of the universe.

How long can an ego run rampant before it destroys relationships, careers, businesses, or kills someone? Here’s the fix: quit feeding the maniac’s ego.  Just like a toddler’s temper tantrum, if you ignore it, it will eventually stop.

Whether superstar, nobel prize winner, or the guy sitting next to you on the plane, we are all the same inside, and trust me, I have seen plenty of people’s insides. We are guts, blood, waste, bone, and skin. We have a brain, a soul, and a personality.  We all have unique talents, feelings, dreams, and fears.

My guess is the egomaniacs aren’t reading this.  But, if you are on the precipice of egomania land, do an about face and start moving as fast as you can.  Life is way too short to be lived for selfie.

P1100285Pop the overinflated ego balloon and come back down to earth. Life is richer and the air is cleaner.

A healthy ego is good, but keep it in check. Too much and it gets to be like dust in the eyes – you can’t see anything until you clear it away.

Is The Worst of Times The Best of Times?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us….Charles Dickens


Certainly you’ve heard that opening line from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  I didn’t realize the first sentence was all the above and a bit more that I left off.  Wordy, but powerful, and these twelve words, unforgettable.


Life is ups and downs. Joy and sadness. Wealth and poverty.

Where are you, and more importantly, how are you reacting to your circumstances? Are you sitting pretty on a pot of gold, enjoying a lucrative career, fame?  Do you have uninterrupted success and everything I dream of? My friend, be wary of the breezy, prosperous times.  Enjoy them, but don’t forget these cliché reminders: keep it real, stay humble or stumble, pride comes before a fall, keep both feet on the ground, at the top we all sit on our bottoms, and everyone has to use the bathroom. I wanted to say we all poop but I thought that wasn’t very classy.

If your life is rough, if you are deep in some hole or walking through one fire after another, don’t give up. It is often in the midst of despair that life takes on new essence. We discover who we are and learn we can endure, grow, persevere.  We find meaning in little things and embrace the preciousness of the small, good things that we do have. Thank God for the worst of times.  The worst of times are the best of times.

Another Charles once said,

If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always dandled on the knees of fortune; if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar; if there were not a few clouds in the sky; if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should become intoxicated with pleasure, we should dream “we stand;” and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy. We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank him for our changes; we extol his name for losses of property; for we feel that had he not chastened us thus, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial. Charles Spurgeon

The worst of times can be the best of times.  I never did finish A Tale of Two Cities, but I sense if I embrace the opening line, I have a good understanding of the story.  It’s life.