Authenticity, Blogging, courage, Encouragement, Individuality, Support


Timmy, Max & Lucy are poster children for competing and comparing at dinnertime.

Anytime I read or hear something three times, I stop and take note, which is one of the reasons my experience at the 2013 Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Conference was so meaningful.
Arkansas Women Bloggers

Although the offerings and speakers varied, each person, in her own unique way, presented some of the same principles I’ve been hearing at gatherings of writers over the past year. Each AWB speaker confirmed the advice of a previous mentor. Which takes me back my Rule of Three: Pay attention to the truth of a repeated message.

Here are some of the things I’ve heard again and again over past twelve months.

Don’t Compare!    Don’t Compete!     Don’t Compromise!

Wait a minute! If we’re going for the gold or a big scholarship, we’d be foolish not to compare our performance with others seeking the same thing. How can you break a record if you don’t know how you line up with your competition?

It’s a given that no one wants to lose that tennis game or play on a noncompetitive team. But that will happen if we don’t compete. Right?

And anyone who has been in a close relationship knows that compromise is important when family, colleagues or friends disagree. It’s a sign of maturity not to always demand your way. Maybe their way is better.

If Competition, Comparison and Compromise are such important components of our culture and obviously a part of human DNA, why don’t they belong in the world of writing?

Perhaps it’s partly because the creative arts are subjective. They can’t be evaluated by a stopwatch, scoreboard or test key. Even though there are guidelines in writing, we’ve all read things that appeal to us that aren’t the norm. Throw out a topic and take note of how differently individuals approach it.

I’m blessed to be in a critique group that meets once a  month to discuss one another’s writing. For the most part, our group focuses on the positive, but we also challenge each other to do our best work. Otherwise, why meet? It has stretched me at times, but my writing is better for  it. And we’ve formed friendships because our work is done in a spirit of encouragement, not comparison and competition.

Recognizing our natural tendencies to compete and compare is the first step in creating a healthy support group. If we don’t, the Three Cs will separate and reduce us both individually and collectively. As with much of life, these challenges are intertwined, so the answers to them overlap.

Here are just a few of the things I heard at AWB and other gatherings this year that resounded with me. Most can be applied to other facets of our lives, too. 


It’s Okay to Be Who You Are!

To find my voice, I must Be Relentlessly Authentic.

To be Truly Authentic, I must write from my Own Experiences.

The answer to “Who am I to blog?” is:
I am a Person with Stories.

We’re all on Individual Journeys, but they all involve the same Universal Truths.

Don’t look at numbers, just write what’s on your heart.

Your message Won’t Appeal to everyone, but Your Audience Will Find You.

Authenticity is a Powerful Force.


I lost track of the number times we were reminded to look for ways to encourage and promote one another at AWBU. In this dog-eat-dog world, it doesn’t come naturally. But when you realize the other person is pulling for you, it’s easier to do the same.

Don’t be a Blog Snob, Promote Others.

         Invite people to Guest Post.

Find blogs that Nourish Your Soul. Read. Comment. Interact.


It’s so important that I’m going to say it again:

It’s Okay for Us to Be Who We Are!

That involves accepting ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Just find the middle ground. Don’t blast your readers with a daily dose of angst, complaints or too much information.

Be Fearless.

Stop doing what the other guy is doing.

Ask yourself: What is my passion?

What do I know to be true

                                                                                       Curly Girl (Leigh Standley) is my inspiration

Remember that accepting and owning your own individual strengths, weaknesses and experiences makes you unique.

Don’t discount the power of your voice.

There was enough wisdom dispensed at AWBU to fill several posts. The bottom line for me is that I felt empowered by the support and encouragement of the women I met and the speakers I heard that weekend. I’m encouraging my blogging friends to join Arkansas Women Bloggers and to attend the 2014 AWBU with me! 
We need each other. We’re more powerful when we band together.

I have to express special appreciation to my friend, Talya Boerner, for prodding me to start a blog, helping me set it up, holding my hand all along the way and for telling me, “You need to join Arkansas Women Bloggers. You need to go to this conference.” 
Talya is the perfect role model for this wonderful organization!

If you haven’t read her blog, I hope you will today.

T, You’re the best! I love you!

And thanks to all my friends who take time to read, like, share and comment on my blog. You are Wonderful!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Cor. 5:11





children's books, courage, dragons, Family, Ogden Nash, poetry


I can’t remember a time when someone didn’t read to me or encourage me to do so on my own. My brother and I spent our early years in the company of Uncle Wiggily, Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh & friends, Alice, Dorothy and a host of characters in The Golden Book of Poetry.
The poetry book was filled with colorful illustrations and poems that danced across the pages in a rhythm and rhyme that tickled us. We each had our favorites that we went back to over and over. By the time my children came along, that beloved volume was in tatters, so I invested in a new edition and shared the familiar poems with them. Although it’s now held together by packing tape, I still  occasionally bring out The Golden Book of Poetry to read “The Tale of Custard, the Cowardly Dragon” by Ogden Nash.

The poem tells the story of Custard, a cowardly dragon, who lives in a little white house with Belinda and her little black cat, Ink; a little gray mouse, Blink; and a little yellow dog, Mustard. Belinda and crew fancy themselves as brave as a barrel full of bears, tigers in a rage, and believe they can chase lions down the stairs. Their favorite pastime is to sit in her little red wagon and tease Custard because he cries for a nice safe cage. But when a nasty pirate invades that little white house, guess which characters hide and which one rises to the challenge? It’s a great story about overcoming your fears to save the people you love.

There was a time when I could quote “The Tale of Custard the Cowardly Dragon” by heart, but it’s under copyright, so I won’t do that here. And truth be told, now I could only regale you in part. But if you Google “The Tale of the Cowardly Dragon,” you can read the entire poem on Keith’s Poetry Archive page.

Amazon offers The Tale of Custard the Dragon as a single volume featuring illustrations by Lynn Munsinger. If you have small children or grandchildren, buy it for them. It will make you laugh. It will make them giggle. You’ll find yourselves going to it again and again for the sheer joy of Ogden’s poetry and whimsical tale!

 What was your favorite children’s book or poem?


God is the perfect poet. Robert Browning


courage, Faith, Family


John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” The longer I live, the more I know it to be true. Sometimes “what happens” is exciting and even better than our youthful dreams, but more often, life brings unexpected disappointments and even loss.

I recently spent the weekend with a childhood friend whose family has faced more personal tragedy than anyone should have to bear. Sherry’s son passed away at age 25 after suffering more than ten years with a rare genetic disorder that slowly robbed him of the ability to move and speak. Shortly afterwards, her husband began a prolonged physical battle, which he lost. Then her parents’ health began to decline, and her father died. Now her mother is disappearing into Alzheimer’s.

Sherry and her three grandchildren,
Emma, Reilly & Halle

Although we live five hours apart, we’ve stayed in touch. Over the years, I’ve been amazed by Sherry’s courage and the grace with which she has handled each ordeal. She has always been matter of fact about their circumstances but never dwelt on their sorrow. Instead, Sherry usually found something funny or positive to share and expressed sincere interest in what was going on with the rest of us.

During this visit, we talked about her losses and how she is learning to live alone for the first time in her life. Sherry said there had been times when she thought she couldn’t bear what was happening, but she made it through because of her faith and the support of family and friends. In visiting with her daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren and some of the friends who’ve walked through these things with Sherry, I caught a glimpse of the love, joy and strength that sustained them all through those difficult times.

This courageous company reminds me of a little clump of flowers I once saw growing out of rocky ground. The surroundings looked too dry and rough to sustain life, yet the blossoms stretched upward with their faces toward the sun. That’s how I see my friend, always abloom, even in the harshest conditions. Someday soon, I hope Sherry and crew will be transplanted to a lush garden. But in the meantime, her beautiful spirit will bless others, wherever she may be!

The Lord is my strength and song … Ex. 15:2
(This post also appeared on Arkansas Women Bloggers