The Best Feelings: Part II

Sometimes, it’s nice just to stop and to recognize the good things in life. So, in the name of positivity, here is the second post in my new series, “The Best Feelings.” You can read the first post here: “The Best Feelings: Part I.” Thank you to those who contributed to this week’s post. Please feel free to add to the list by commenting below, and it may even show up in part three of this series. Enjoy!

1. Biting into a doughnut when you haven’t had one in a long time.
2. Finding money you forgot about in old jackets.
3. Having a good makeup and/or hair day.
4. Kim over at You Are Not Alone contributed this wonderful moment in the last post: “Unexpected joy in routine places! As I turned my cart into the tea section of the grocery store the other night, I came upon a man and woman dressed as sparkly FAIRY ELVES. She had a glittery crown and they both had fake pointy ears. I said, ‘Wow! This is an awesome aisle!!!’ They laughed and explained that they’d just come from a friend’s fantasy-themed wedding.” What a neat moment! This, my friends, is why we should have more fantasy-themed weddings in the world.
5. Tricia from Freedom Through Empowerment suggested “the fresh smell of herbs and/or flowers while out hiking and a dopey dog’s expression while he’s smiling and wagging at you just because.” For me, fresh basil and rosemary always take me back to summers past, and a moment filled with doggy happiness is always a good moment.

This was after Sabrina opened her birthday presents.  She got food, and she got to be destructive.  What more could a dog ask for? Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

This is after Sabrina opened her birthday presents. She got food, and she got to be destructive. What more could a dog ask for?
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

6. Those jumping butterflies that you get in your stomach when you have a crush on someone.
7. That first sip of coffee or tea that warms your stomach on a cold day.
8. Iggy23 at A Symphony of Literacy added “when people are cheering for my team” because it gets him “motivated to do better.” I imagine so, and Iggy23 will have plenty of times to hear the crowd roar in excitement for him because he’s playing soccer at the college level (they call it the “university” level across the pond). How cool is that? Congratulations again, Iggy23!
9. Having the end product be better than what you imagined it would be.
10. Receiving flowers for no reason.

Sometimes, it's just nice to get flowers. Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

Sometimes, it’s nice to receive flowers.
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

11. My buddy, Matt over at The Book Blogger added feeling appreciated. That’s so true, and sometimes it doesn’t even take a grandiose gesture to make someone feel appreciated.  Even a simple “thank you” will do most of the time.
12. Sheldon at Sheldon Kleeman said that “being able to blow your nose after it’s been blocked” is another terrific feeling. So true, so true.
13. When you’ve been teaching a student how to read and then his/her parents come up to you later to thank you for all of your work and to let you know that the child is reading well above his/her grade level now.
14. When you know that your pet fully trusts you.
15. Walking under an apple tree during fall.

There's something about walking under an apple tree during the fall that just feels . . . good. Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

There’s something about walking under an apple tree during the fall that just feels . . . good.
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

16. Finding out that a student reached his/her goal in part because you helped him/her.
17. Someone giving you a hug because he/she knows that you’ve had a rough day.
18. When a store’s employee gives you a discount on an item because she thinks that it’s priced incorrectly.
19. Having someone genuinely laugh at one of your jokes.
20. Saying something that makes a student stop and think.

Grief and Kindness

Grief is a strange creature. It rears its head when you least expect it, and it hangs around in ways that you could never have imagined. Its appearances can be logical, but they don’t always have to be. Sometimes grief only pokes its head out to greet you, and then other times it feels like its lying on your chest trying to smother you.

I hate it.

Last week was my first time teaching my own college class. I’ve guest lectured and I’ve worked with high school, elementary school, and preschool students, but college is a different animal. Overall, I think that it went very well—most of the students seemed to be engaged, and I had quite a few really get into the topics. I’m ecstatic that my teaching wasn’t an utter disaster. But there’s that bit of grief that hangs in the back of my head reminding me that I can’t tell my grandmother how my classes went and that she didn’t live to see me have a college classroom of my own, and that’s a kick in the gut.

Time has helped to dull the sharp edges of missing her, but I still think about her every day. Maybe I always will. Honestly, I don’t want to not think about her. I like hearing her laugh in my mind when I see something that I know she would find funny. I like imagining her sarcastic commentaries when I hear, or utter, a stupid comment. I like saying something and then stopping and thinking that she would say the exact same thing. I like remembering her.

But remembering doesn’t always feel so great. Her recent birthday was perhaps one of the hardest days as of late. There were no presents to wrap, no flowers to buy, no special cake to bake. Plus, I had to go to an orientation for work when all I wanted to do was stay home and wait for the day to end. Luckily, I had friends, who were unaware of the day’s import, who kept my mind occupied and who always had an errand to run and let me tag along, and that helped.

Sometimes, you just need to have some friends flying by your side. Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

Sometimes, you just need to have some friends flying by your side or maybe even in front of you for a while.
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

I guess that that’s one of the few (and I mean very few) upsides to losing someone you love—finding out how great friends can be. Some know that they’re helping you. I’ve had friends who have explicitly talked to me about the grieving process and who have comforted me. Others may be unaware of their kindnesses’ effects. Our culture emphasizes “passing it on” and the idea of feeling good by helping someone even if that other person doesn’t know your name, which is wonderful. However, just because you don’t know that you’re helping someone does not lessen an act’s impact. My friends didn’t know that they were helping me that day of orientation. Still, I have to believe that that kindness gives them as much good karma than if I were to flat out tell them that I was having a rough day and ask for their support.

This post is not meant to be depressing. I write this firstly because I know that there are others who have lost loved ones who feel like I do, and maybe they would like to know that they are not alone in their feelings. I know that it helped me when friends told me that I was not alone. Also, as the school year starts there will be new experiences that pop up. When they do, sometimes there will be an involuntary feeling of wanting to tell our loved ones about that experience. Yet, we can’t tell them, and, for me, my heart feels at least a twinge of grief and sadness each time this happens. So, if someone acts a little funny, seems a little down, or is quieter than usual, then maybe they’re feeling that painful twinge as well.

Lastly, I write this post as a reminder that sometimes kindness has more power than you know. So, while my message of “be nice to people” seems simplistic, it is, nevertheless, an important one. Your kindness, whether you are aware of it or not, can impact someone who you didn’t even know was dealing with sadness and hurt.

The Best Feelings Part I

The other day, I was talking with two fellas, and they were discussing how great it is to be alive. They reminded me that sometimes we just need to stop and remember the good things in life. So, in honor of those two gentlemen, I’ve decided to do a series on some of the best feelings in the world. I’d love to hear what feelings you think are the best in the world, so please feel free to add yours to the list by commenting below, and it may even show up in part two of this series. Enjoy!

1. Freezing and then stepping into a hot shower and feeling the cold melt off from your skin.
2. Feeling supported and like someone is rooting for you to win.
3. Sitting down in a cool mountain stream on a hot summer day.
4. Someone holding open a door for you without you even asking.
5. Catching a fish and releasing said fish back into the water to swim another day.

One of the most beautiful and impressive things in life is a wild rainbow trout. Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

This is one of the trout that I caught last fall.  One of the most beautiful and impressive things in life is a wild rainbow trout.
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

6. Making someone so happy that they tear up a little.
7. Doing something to make a little kid smile and/or giggle.
8. Finally finishing a project that you’ve been working on for a long time.
9. Watching a student’s mental wheels turn and “get” a concept that you are teaching.
10. Dancing like nobody is watching to a catchy song. Might I suggest this one?

11. Running with wolves. (Yep, I’ve actually done this, and it was an amazing experience.)
12. Having your first inside joke with a new friend.
13. Crawling into bed and sinking down into the mattress after a long day.
14. Seeing a blue sky after having smoke-filled skies for days.

Now that's the blue, western sky that I love. Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

Now that’s the blue, western sky that I love.
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

15. Wearing a new pair of sneakers for the first time.
16. When your pet looks up at you with nothing but adoration, love, and trust in their eyes.
17. Hitting the sweet spot on your golf club when you hit a golf ball on the driving range.
18. Hitting a bull’s eye when you’re doing archery.
19. When your hiccups finally stop.
20. Eating homemade pie. Okay. Any kind of pie. Pie is simply awesome no matter where it comes from. The same goes for cheesecake.

Flash Fiction Foray: Lost Paradise

My friend, Matt at The Book Blogger has a weekly flash fiction challenge entitled, “Flash Fiction Foray.” He posts a song and you write a flash fiction piece (maximum of 100 words) based on the song. This week’s song is “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks. If you want to read more about the challenge or about the Book Blogger himself, then please head over to The Book Blogger.  My entry is below.

Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

Title: “Lost Paradise”
Word Count: 100
Note: I apologize for the lack of indentation. I can’t figure out indentation on WordPress.

“I don’t need you,” she says.
The evening is chilly and busy taxis keep rolling by. I gaze at Julie and the dirty river flowing. Every Friday, she flies to Waterloo, and I don’t want to stay at home, so here I am.
“I don’t need to wander,” I counter.
“I don’t wander.”
“You meet Terry here every Friday night.”
Julie makes no sound.
“You wander,” I say.
“So?”
I feel old and dizzy. “Fifteen years together.”
“Terry actually tries and cares. He isn’t lazy like you.”
I look into the dark water and wonder what happened to my paradise.

Catching Up: Blogs that NEED to be Read

I have been so behind on my blog reading that it’s just . . . sad. There are some wonderfully talented writers on WordPress, and their writing needs to be read. That’s right, NEEDS to be read. Therefore, for this week, as I catch up on my reading, I am posting some of my favorite, relatively new posts by some of my favorite bloggers. I think that I am going to make this a regular series, so if I don’t mention your name this time, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you, and your name will probably pop up in the next “Catching Up” post. 🙂 I read quite a few blogs, and if I mentioned all of them in one setting, this list would get super long. If I list your blog, and you’d rather not be listed, that’s completely fine. Just e-mail me, and I’ll take it off. 🙂

If you know of a blog (including your own) that you think is awesome and NEEDS to be read, please post it in the comments below and I’ll make sure to check it out.

Owls & Ravens by James Zemke“Up”
This blogger is relatively new to the scene. He does personal posts, but he also does movie reviews. In these reviews, he posts what cupcake would exemplify the movie. That is truly a novel take on movie reviews. His latest review is on the movie, Up, and the cupcakes are designed by yours truly.

Vintage Inspired Passionista by Abby Hawthorn“Weekly Whistle: Stately Styling Bold Pre-Fall Brights and Patterns” and “Style Template: Summer Essentials”
Abby is seriously motivated when it comes to fashion, writing, and being successful. Admittedly, I’m a little awkward on fashion. Okay. I’m a lot awkward. My thing has always been jeans and a t-shirt (preferably one that features Snoopy or The Beatles). However, as I’ve gotten older and had to get dressed up to work, to teach, or to give conferences, I’ve learned that jeans and a t-shirt just don’t cut the mustard. Therefore, I’ve tried to step out of my fashion comfort zone, and Abby’s fashion advice has certainly helped to inspire me. One of my favorite outfits that Abby has posted is her bright chartreuse sweater with purple skirt in “Weekly Whistle: Stately Styling Bold Pre-Fall Brights and Patterns.” Overall, her blog is great for ideas, and it’s pushed my fashion boundaries. But, I won’t try ruffles. I draw the line at ruffles.

If chartreuse isn’t your style, you can also check out some of Abby’s other summer style suggestions on her post, “Style Template: Summer Essentials” at her second blog (yes, she has a second blog—I told you that she is motivated), Sixteen & Successful.

Underdaddy by Underdaddy“Daddy Am I Pretty?”
This blogger is one of the funniest writers I’ve ever read. Heck, he beat me in a humor writing competition a while back. *grumble* *grumble* He’s someone you just enjoy reading, he was recently published in Dads Behaving Dadly 2, plus he’s got a pet wallaby (no, I’m not kidding, and the baby wallaby is adorable). However, he took an unusually serious turn for a semi-recent post called, “Daddy am I Pretty?” I was skeptical of the lack of laughs at first, but the post left me teary eyed at the end. While it’s not one of his newer posts, this one is still worth a read.

Send Sunshine by Jessica Edouard“Compassion” category
If you ever feeling gloomy, then this is the blog to go to. I always feel better and more hopeful after vising Send Sunshine.

Improptu Promptlings by Lady Calen“Soul-Mates?” and “Moments”
I dare you to find a sweeter blogger than Calen. Her blog is honest, thoughtful, and beautiful. She posts pretty much every day, so there is always something new to read. I quite enjoyed her recent post, “Soul-Mates?.” As I’ve gotten older and have been more in the dating world *bangs head on table*, I’ve found that perhaps I’m looking more for a “soul-friend” as Calen explains, rather than a “soul-mate.”

I also really liked Calen’s recent post entitled, “Moments.” It looks like such a fun writing prompt that I may have to tackle that myself one day.

The Book Blogger by Matt (a.k.a. “TheBookBlogger2014”)“5 Words that should Die an Agonising Death”
Matt is always a fun writer to read. He typically does book reviews, but he also holds weekly flash fiction contests and writes posts on writing in general. I quite enjoyed his latest entry. In fact, it literally made me smile. Haha! Sorry, Matt, but I couldn’t help it. (You’ll get the joke if you read his post.)

Fluidicthought by Kristin Henzler “Here Comes Another Weekend”
This blog is a mixture of personal stories and photography. I’ve never been to Australia, but I feel like I’m able to experience just a small piece of the country through this blogger’s beautiful photography. Now, in no small part due to her photos, visiting Australia is on my bucket list. Every now and again, she posts a shot that makes me stop and just stare. The rainbow picture in “Here Comes Another Weekend” is one of those shots.

A Symphony of Literacy by Iggy“In the Belly of the Beast”
Iggy does both writing and photography. His piece, “In the Belly of Beast” recently did quite well in a contest, and after reading it, I completely see why.

Northerndesert by Alison Hardenburgh“My Buddies are Back!”
Gosh, I love this blogger’s photography. She captures some of the landscape that I love in a way that I haven’t seen anyone else do. She also has a talent for perfectly photographing animals. I don’t know how she does it.

Freedom and Empowerment by Tricia“Good Me, Bad Me”
Whether or not you agree with blogger, Tricia’s writing, she’s still fun to read. Every now and again, she shows a vulnerability that is universally relatable. For instance, her recent post, “Good Me, Bad Me” touches on the experience of having good days and bad days and of simply being human. Some days we want to save the world and pay for others’ coffees, and some days we want to flip off the guy who cut us off in traffic (not that I’ve ever done that . . .). Her piece definitely NEEDS to be read, if only to remind you that you’re not alone.

Rough Canyon by Robert Robinson (otherwise known as “UtahRob”)“Nowhere in Particular”
If you’re into fly fishing, then you need to read this blogger’s posts STAT. Also, if you like Norman Maclean, you’ll like this fella. His post, “Nowhere in Particular” put into words what I’ve felt but been unable to articulate.

Humor Contest: Guess What . . . .

Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

I found out this week that I placed 5th in the international 1st/2nd Quarter 2015 “America’s Funniest Humor!”(TM) Writing Contest held by HumorPress.com. The contest had quite a lot of entries, so I’m very happy that I placed amongst the top writers. Hopefully, it shows that my previous humor writing award isn’t just a fluke and that maybe, just maybe, there’s some potential there. Or maybe I just got lucky again. Anyway, my entry, “HMO: Help Me Out,” is about my experience with finding new health insurance. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go well, and I end up in an unhealthy relationship with a computer. You can read the story by clicking on the following link: “HMO: Help Me Out.”

“HMO: Help Me Out” will be featured in HumorPress.com’s main showcase until new results are posted after completion of the current contest, which is accepting entries through December 31, 2015. I encourage anyone who likes writing humor to apply. I know that there are some of you out there, and it’s a great opportunity to get recognized and to get a little cash. Yep, I got a cash prize too. Let’s just say that the sum wasn’t enough to buy a corvette, but it was enough to buy a few cups of coffee to keep me up at night writing.

Admittedly, I was a little teary when I found out the contest’s results. The sadness comes from this being the first award that I’ve gotten since my grandmother passed away, and it’s the first one that I don’t get to tell her about. She’s been there for every award, every graduation, every achievement, and every failure. She shared in my joy, and she shared in my sadness. Whenever I needed to work something out with my writing, I could always call her and bounce ideas around with her. Now, I’m in a world without her and, to put it eloquently, it sucks.

However, I know that she would be proud of this award, especially since she was such a big fan of laughing. She always made jokes, particularly ones of the sarcastic nature, and I loved making her laugh. In my mind, I can still hear her laugh when I think about it. I hope that, in some way, she can see this award and story and is laughing.

Flash Fiction Foray: For the Lonely Penny

My friend, Matt at The Book Blogger has a weekly flash fiction challenge entitled, “Flash Fiction Foray.” He posts a song and you write a flash fiction piece (maximum of 100 words) based on the song. This week’s song is “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers. It’s a legend—wait for it—dary song, haha! (If you get this joke, then you rock.) Anyway, Matt is brilliant and a super nice fella, and I finally didn’t forget to participate in his challenge this week. Wohoo! If you want to read more about the challenge, the Book Blogger himself, or read some honest reviews about books (ranging from the new to classics like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), then please head over to The Book Blogger.

My entry, which only uses words from the song’s lyrics, is below.

Is it time to mend broken fences? Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

Is it time to mend broken fences?
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

Word Count: 93
Title: For the Lonely Penny

I know I’ll be the man who’s working, who’s growing old, who’s lonely. I’m gonna be drunk on money and fall down five hundred miles. You would be back with me if I would pass on the penny and be the man who just comes home. But I’m working hard in the work I do without you, and I’ll go a thousand miles dreaming. Every time I get drunk, I’ll walk to your door, but I’ll go home without you. I’ll grow old dreaming and working and, yes, I know I’ll be lonely.