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Tomorrow is the first day of June, and most of us are happy to say goodbye to May. Not that it was all bad, but having been quarantined for so long, the very idea of a new month that introduces a careful return to normalcy is exciting. June 21st is the summer solstice, but June 1st is the meteorological first day of summer, my favorite season of the year.

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From the musical, Carousel, Rogers and Hammerstein gave us “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” and boy does that sound like a theme for this year’s month of June. I think we’re all ready to be bustin’ out!

And whether you’re in or out, there is something to celebrate every day of the month. Well, actually more than one each day, but I’m just going to mention some of my favorites.

  • June 1 — Oscar the Grouch’s birthday, but more importantly, Donut Day
  • June 2 — National Rocky Road Day — After the stock market crash in 1929, William Dreyer mixed chunky almonds, mini marshmallows, and milk chocolate ice cream to create a new ice cream flavor that would make people smile in spite of the tough economic times. Thank you Mr. Dreyer!
  • June 3 — Egg Day
  • June 4 — Aesop’s birthday and especially for a good friend of mine, Cheese Day – Oh, and for some of my other friends, it’s Hug Your Cat Day.

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  • June 5 — National Gingerbread Day — In June? Who knew??
  • June 6 — D-Day-WWII and National Yo-Yo Day
  • June 7 — National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
  • June 8 — National Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day – Yes, please!
  • June 9 — International Young Eagles Day
  • June 10 — Maurice Sendak‘s birthday

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  • June 11 — Jacques Cousteau’s birthday
  • June 12 — National Peanut Butter Cookie Day – Now there’s one I can get behind!
  • June 13 — National Juggling Day and National Lobster Day – Oh yeah! Lobster-Tails-Lemon-Butter-Recipe-1S-5798
  • June 14 — Flag Day – Fly yours proudly!

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  • June 15 — Power of a Smile Day and Fly a Kite Day
  • June 16 — Fudge Day
  • June 17 — Begins National Week of Making (So get busy!)
  • June 18 — International Picnic Day

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  • June 19 – Lou Gehrig’s birthday and William M. Muhly, Jr.’s birthday (that’s my brother) 😉 and National Martini Day
  • June 20 — National Ice Cream Soda Day
  • June 21 — Father’s Day and World Music Day

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  • June 22 — National Onion Rings Day and National Eclair Day — Celebrate!!!
  • June 23 — National Pink Day (for my Mary Kay friends)
  • June 24 — Swim a Lap Day (Maybe those of us who can’t swim can just walk back and forth across the pool?)
  • June 25 — National Handshake Day — Perhaps this year we’ll do something a little different, like a tip of the hat, peace sign, or simple smile and nod. 😉
  • June 26 — National Coconut Day — Think I’ll celebrate with a pina colada.
  • June 27 — National PTSD Awareness Day

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  • June 28 — National Paul Bunyan Day
  • June 29 — National Waffle Iron Day – That could be fun!
  • June 30 — Social Media Day — Time to post, post, post!

What’s your favorite day to celebrate? I know I’m ready to celebrate every day in the beautiful month of June. I hope you enjoy yours too!

Humr-gkb

Never Forget

Memorial Day

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How many have died for their country? How many have we lost?

How many have given their lives for our freedom?

Here are just a few numbers…

          American Revolution – 25,000                Civil War – 655,000

                       World War I – 116,516                    World War II – 405,399

                   Korean War – 36,516                      Vietnam War – 58,209

      Gulf War – 294           War in Afghanistan – 2,216 — Iraq War – 4,497

This is what Memorial Day is all about. I certainly enjoy a good barbeque or time at the beach as much as anyone, but I cringe when I hear someone say “Happy Memorial Day.”

For this is a day of remembrance.

I think we must all take time out from our “kick off to summer” to remember all those who gave their lives for our freedom. Remember the mothers who lost their sons and daughters, those who lost their spouse, those children who group up without a parent because theirs made the ultimate sacrifice…

And it was for you.

God bless them, God bless the Gold Star families, and God Bless America!

 

914USAccGloria

 

 

Have you ever felt out of step… different from others… like a weirdo? 

Do you always feel that way?

Well don’t worry. That just means you haven’t found your tribe yet.

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This spring has been filled with disappointments. Things we’ve lost or missed out on. Trips to exciting places. Relaxing vacations. Weddings, reunions, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries. The list goes on and on.

Things we’ve looked forward to with great anticipation were suddenly snatched away because of COVID-19.

Like all of you, I lost some of those things. Between my husband, Lee, and I, we had trips to Maui, Argentina, Cape May, South Africa and Lancaster, PA all cancelled.

But wait… Did I say Lancaster, Pennsylvania? What’s so exciting about that?

For me, it may have been the greatest let down of all because it was the annual Pennwriters Conference. I started looking forward to this conference the day after last year’s conference in Pittsburgh.

Now what has all this to do with finding your tribe? Or being a weirdo?

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Let me explain first by saying I found my tribe.

I found a small part of my tribe (but a big part of my heart) sitting around my publisher, Demi Steven‘s, dining room table in 2015.

And then my tribe grew and grew through Pennwriters.

My tribe of funny, quirky, wonderful, inspiring writers always lift my spirits, and I discovered I’m not all that weird. Well, at least if I am, I’m in good company. Make that great company! (I am fortunate enough to have found myself part of several tribes, but that’s a story for another day.)

Yesterday — A good day — A great gift

People from all over Pennsylvania and beyond were feeling bummed as the weekend of “the conference that wasn’t to be” approached. Then an amazing group of people from Pennwriters gave us a delightful surprise–The Mini-May Madness.  They learned and mastered all the necessary technology, put in the many hours of ZOOM practice, etc., and presented us with a Friday night and all day Saturday experience.

I still missed seeing and hugging everyone and all the great happenings of a live conference BUT…

My tribe didn’t let me down. From the Read & Critique evening to morning meditation to mini workshops to Q&A with two amazing authors, Susan Meier and Jonathan Maberry, it was a day filled with inspiration. I am in awe of these presenters and their generosity.

 

And when Jonathan Maberry referred to himself as a “weirdo” like all of us writers, I was suddenly proud to say, “I’m a weirdo too!”

Who inspires you?

I hope you’ve found your tribe, but if you haven’t…

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Until next time,

GloriaBooks-gkb

First, let’s talk about Clara Barton.

There are certain books we read as children that leave an indelible impression. For me, one of those books was Clara Barton, Girl Nurse. During this pandemic, as we have all become more aware than ever of how special and crucial nurses are, this very special woman’s story came back to me.

So who is Clara Barton, and why is she special?

Born Clarissa Harlowe Barton, the list of her accomplishments is long, but the most notable is as the founder of The American Red Cross.

Clara lived from 1821 to 1912. She attended boarding school where she extremely timid and shy and became so lonely and depressed she was brought back home. Always anxious to help, she found herself at a loss and didn’t want to burden her family. Hoping to help Clara overcome her timidity, her parents suggested she become a schoolteacher. She acquired her teaching certificate in 1839 at the age of seventeen. And from there, she began to blossom. Continuing her education, Clara soon became so well written that her body of work could instruct statesman of the time. She moved to Washington D.C. and in 1855 had a clerkship in the U.S. Patent Office making the same salary as men. This was unheard of at the time, and she suffered much abuse from her male counterparts for the three years she was there.

In 1861 the Baltimore Riot resulted in the first bloodshed of the Civil War. When forty wounded men from the Massachusetts regiment were brought to Washington D.C., Barton was there to meet and nurse them. That was the beginning of her dedication to army work as she dedicated herself to supplying food, clothing, and other supplies to the wounded soldiers. She also provided emotional support to lift their spirits by talking with and reading to them as well as writing letters to their families. Clara Barton became known as the Florence Nightingale of America as well as the “Angel of the Battlefield” since she spent time on the frontlines tending the wounded.  Probably what she is most remembered for though is founding the American Red Cross.

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Next, let’s talk a little about Florence Nightingale.

A contemporary of Clara Barton’s, born in 1820, Florence Nightingale knew by eighteen how she wanted to spend her life as she felt called on by God to dedicate her life to the service of others. Her high-class British family was not at all happy about this, but despite their outrage, by 1844 she’d made up her mind to become a nurse.  She and the nurses she’d trained, tended wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. It was said in The Times that “When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.“ Nightingale became known as the lady with the lamp and an angel of mercy.

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Lady with the Lamp

Perhaps the most important contribution Florence Nightingale made to society was to declare hospitals must not be a place where people get more sick. She knew they must be designed to provide safe conditions and filled with well trained nurses to care for the sick and injured.

Finally, let’s talk about Darleen Muhly.

What? You’ve never heard of her? Well, that’s probably because she is not one of the twenty-five most famous nurses nor is she known for some particular contribution to medicine. No, I’ve chosen Darleen Muhly to represent all the wonderful nurses who quietly go about healing and caring for their patients without any special recognition. This nurse, who also happens to be my wonderful sister, spent much of her nursing career in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) caring for the most vulnerable little humans born a little too soon. She may not be known to many, but I know without a doubt there are many, many parents of those once fragile little ones who are forever grateful to her and others like her.

Is there a special nurse in your family or one who holds a special place in your heart for the care they give? I’d love to hear about them.

520MouseccGloria

 

 

 

Meet Simeon

JLMcatsgreypersian - Simeon

Who is this Persian beauty you ask?

Meet Simeon, one very affectionate Persian cat.

Mia Reed, the protagonist in my upcoming book, Watercolor Whispers, told me she wanted a pet, and with her busy schedule as an art therapist, it simply had to be a low maintenance pet. She decided this beautiful Persian cat was the solution. That is before Simeon told her, no demanded, that he be brushed daily. One must take care of long hair like his after all. But Mia has decided it’s totally worth the time and effort because brushing Simmie, as she calls him for short, is very relaxing. Especially with the calming sound of his purring. And so what if her wallet took a hit because of the special food she buys him to prevent hairballs.

Although Persian cats are often referred to as furniture with fur, and it’s true Simeon is not terribly active, Mia soon found out he is not to be ignored. He is definitely a lap cat, with Mia’s lap being his favorite spot. If that spot is not available, Simeon may be found in his second favorite place in the apartment, the solarium where Mia paints. There he enjoys soaking in the sun from the deep window sill and keeping an eye on the neighborhood. while Mia works on her watercolors.

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Simmie tells Mia how much he cares in several other ways. One of his favorites is kneading which he sometimes begins early in the morning. I think it may be his way of saying, “I love you and also it’s time to get up.”

Simmie will sometimes hold eye contact with Mia for a few moments, then blink slowly. These slow eye blinks–often accompanied by more purring–are another way he shows affection. Did I mention he’s a regular purring machine?

One more way he shows he cares is by twitching the tip of his tail. But look out if he swiftly lashes it back and forth–that most certainly means he’s annoyed. Simeon, aka Simmie, it turns out is also a good judge of character. He can tell the good guys from the bad guys. Honest, he can!

In this tale, you may want to watch Simmie’s tail.

Where did Simeon get his name?

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Stained Glass courtesy of Pixabay

Simeon, described as a just and devout man, appears in the New Testament of the Bible one time in the gospel of Luke. Forty days after the birth of Christ, Jesus was presented at the temple (as was required by the laws of Moses). There Mary and Joseph met Simeon who had been visited by the Holy Spirit and told he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Upon taking Jesus in his arms he uttered a prayer which is still used in some Christian churches, the Nunc dimittis, also known as the Song of Simeon.

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

So what does any of that have to do with the name Mia chose for her little Persian Prince? On February 2nd the Lutheran Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord. Mia was brought up in the Lutheran Church, and her birthday falls on St. Simeon’s feast day. Perhaps she chose this name because of that coincidence, or perhaps it was because she knows she has also been visited by the Holy Spirit through her “special” drawings. Those of you who read Premonition Bridge, Book 3 of The Bridge Club Series, will remember Mia has a gift through her art and her faith that resulted in her surviving a perilous situation. In Watercolor Whispers, Book 1 of a new mystery series, she has grown up and become a professional art therapist whose gift will be an integral part of solving mysteries.

I’m curious, are you a dog or a cat person? Or neither? What do you think is the best pet?

 

GirlCat-gkb

 

 

You’ve Got This!

Have you ever felt stuck? Is there something major challenging you now?

Well I’m here to say, You’ve Got This!

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As some of you know, when I decided to write my new book in a different genre, I soon discovered the move from writing romance to writing mystery was quite a challenge.

Readers of my Bridge Club Series have asked,

When is your next book coming out?

How’s the new book coming?

And for a very long time, with some embarrassment, I mumbled, “I’m stuck.” 

Yes, I wrote the first few chapters, then BAM!

I hit a brick wall

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Months went by, and I stared at the blank page to begin chapter four.

It remained blank.

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No matter how long or how hard I stared at it, nothing… until two things happened.

First, I met with my editor/publisher/coach and friend Demi StevensShe inspires me to GSD–Get Stuff Done! (Yes, you can substitute another word for stuff.) 

And Second, I stopped focusing on the whole book and started taking it one chapter–or one brick–at a time.

focus on one brick

So after meeting with my coach in March, I decided to tackle this task bit by bit, chapter by chapter, and guess what…

Yesterday I completed the first draft of my new book — Coming Soon —

WATERCOLOR WHISPERS

(Working Title)

Now soon is a relative term, so I’m not promising an exact date of release yet. This is the first draft after all. Now the fun begins. It’s time to rewrite!

But I am sharing this bit of news to encourage you to focus on one brick, and–no matter what wall is blocking your progress–you will tear that wall down!

(Images thanks to Pixabay)

One last thing: I am close enough to completion to be getting excited about a cover. Here are three images I’m considering for part of the cover. I’d love it if you’d help with this big decision and tell me which one you like best. (The protagonist, Mia–who was growing up in the Bridge Series–is grown and an art therapist.)

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Until next time…

GloriaBooks-gkb

 

 

Re-Birth

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A Poem by G. K. Bostic

(I was given a challenge a few years ago to write a one-sentence 40 line poem. As I sat out on my deck, I was inspired by listening and looking at my surroundings.)

One spring day
As I meandered
Through my greening world,
And listened to
The sounds of birth
Surrounding me,

I observed a song,
A symphony of life
Springing from
The dormant fields
In colors of
A new season

Filled with violets
And hues of yellow and pink
As an artist’s brush
Lavished his canvas
With impressionistic
Beauty,

And the waking earth
Held murmurings
Of awakening life
As birds sang,
Dogs barked,
And children played

Together
Like all the players
In the symphony
Collaborating
To create a spring
Concerto,

And the music
Rang through the trees
Dancing with the breeze,
A waltz
Circling round
And round

While a single bird
On the rooftop high
Sat wrapped
In feathers and sky.

Why are we all so obsessed with ice cream?

Because it’s good!

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Right? Okay, well maybe there are some people in the world who don’t like it, but I do believe they would be hard to find. And perhaps they are aliens from another planet in a galaxy far, far away.

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But let’s admit it, most of us average humans love this creamy frozen delight. Did you know the origins of ice cream can be traced back to about the 4th century BC? Persians combined ice with flavors to produce treats, and it is said that Nero ordered ice to be brought back from the mountains to be mixed with fruit.

Ice cream probably came to Europe from Shang, China where King Tang used a method of making ice and milk concoctions. Later, in Europe and then in the United States, these concoctions evolved into recipes with which people experimented developing more and more sinful, delicious dessert temptations. 

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Ice cream was so popular here in the USA that the first ice cream parlor was opened way back in 1776 in New York City where the colonists started calling the concoction ice cream for the first time, coming from the phrase iced cream. And the idea of the ice cream parlor went over so well, it would be almost impossible to find a town without one now.

But what’s your favorite? You don’t have to settle for a simple bowl of ice cream. Thanks to some of the following people, here are some other choices.

  • Ice cream sundaes – May be attributed to Ed Berners of Two Rivers, Wisconsin in 1881 when a customer requested his ice cream be served with some syrup normally used for sodas. Berner charged a nickel for it. George Giffy, a competitor in another Wisconsin town, decided to serve the same thing but charged a dime and only served it on Sundays calling it an Ice Cream Sunday. It was so popular, he decided to change it to Ice Cream Sundae so he could serve it every day.ice-cream-sundae-382767_960_720
  • The Ice Cream Cone was introduced in 1904 at the World’s Fair in St. Louisice-1432274_960_720
  • We can thank British chemists for discovering a way to double the amount of air in ice cream and giving us soft ice cream.ice-1581501_960_720
  • The Good Humor Ice Cream Bar was invented by Harry Burt in 1920. And soon  ice cream trucks covered the land.

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So if and when you need a little comfort–and who doesn’t these days–maybe you can pick your favorite and cozy up with a little ice cream.  Oh, and if you’re watching your weight and don’t want all those calories, there’s a yummy alternative I’ve discovered. It comes in lots of flavors, but here’s my favorite. Enjoy!

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Hey, and I’d love it if you’d leave a comment, and tell me your favorite! 

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Feeling down? Need a dose of something to make you feel better? Don’t pop a Valium. Have a dose of the best medicine you can find–MUSIC!

Research has proven that music can be healing. It’s used in hospitals across the country to heal patients or alleviate their symptoms. And though the research and current practices may be new, music has been used as therapy through the ages.

Al Farabi who lived from c.872-c.950, wrote about music’s cosmic qualities and discussed the therapeutic effects of music on man’s soul.

And it can help people of all ages,

  • An hour of music a day helps premature babies to sleep and eat more and gain more weight. Music is soothing and softens their environment.
  • Students–no matter what their age–can study better with peaceful, harmonious background music (especially classical such as Mozart) which helps them focus and can reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Dementia patients who may not recognize family members or remember what you just said, will respond to an old familiar song such as Amazing Grace and be able to sing every note and every word. (In a recent news story you may have seen a man singing this through the window with his elderly mother–made me cry.) 

A 17th century scholar, Robert Burton, argued in “The Anatomy of Melancholy” that music is critical in treating mental illness.  We know today it can help with pain management, reduce blood pressure, improve concentration and enhance learning.

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So today, as we face fear evoked by the Corona Virus, worry over loved ones beyond our reach, and the boredom and depression of being home-bound is getting to us, perhaps we should put on some headphones and escape with a musical interlude. Maybe we can change that helpless, restless, lonely, and confused mindset shown on the left to the peaceful, relaxed, thankful, and happy one shown on the right.

MusicOrient-gkb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No matter how much you may love your home,

right now is this how you’re feeling?

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You are not alone. Though most of us can remember whining things like,

“Tomorrow is Monday… but I don’t want to go to work.”

“My calendar is so full, I have no time for myself.”

“Oh, if I just had more time.” 

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Suddenly–for most of us–Monday is the same as every other day. No, you don’t have to go to work. No, you don’t have to set the alarm and get up to go to school.  Our calendars are unnaturally empty. You wake up with that familiar, fleeting question, “What do I have to do today?” At least you do if you’re anything like I am. But it doesn’t take long–mere seconds or milliseconds perhaps–before it hits you. Nothing! 

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It is so easy to see the downside of what we are all forced to cope with during this critical time–the fear, the isolation, our own boredom, and bored children–

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So is this what they meant when they said be careful what you wish for? 

Regardless, this is what we have for now, but we will get through this, and there are things we can do to chase away the blues. As someone very wise told me, we need to take it one day at a time. I can do this–just for today–I can do this.

Just like eating an elephant…

How-to-eat-elephant

So instead of putting our focus on the negative–I know, easier said than done–let’s look at the many ways we can lift our moods and stay positive. 

  • Play your favorite music – play something lively and get up and dance (nobody’s watching)
  • Send an email to someone special telling them why they’re special to you – lift their mood too.
  • Meditate – Or find your quiet, peaceful place (your garden, the beach, the bathroom with the door locked) to just be mindful
  • Take a nap
  • Delight your senses – Lift your mood with aromatherapy
  • Get outside and enjoy the sunshine when you can
  • Laugh, laugh, laugh – Tell a funny joke or story, follow someone funny on Twitter
  • Bake something

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all those who are not locked down at home but rather are out doing their jobs to help us all stay safe and well. God bless them and keep them safe.

I’d love it if you’d leave me a comment with your ideas for how to stay positive.

rachelmankowitz

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