The Power of Positive Thinking

It’s been six months since COVID-19 changed everything. How we shop, how we socialize, how we work, how we communicate, the learning environment, where and how we travel, and even how we dress (masks required!)

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the “new normal”, especially when it looks like these changes will remain in place longer than we anticipated.

Developing a positive attitude in the wake of change and uncertainty is a challenge, but one well worth the effort. When so much is beyond our control, one thing we can determine is how we think, feel, and react.

The benefits of a positive attitude include increased energy, better problem-solving, greater confidence, and more satisfying interactions with people. People with a positive attitude are more creative, more resilient, and live longer than Negative Nellies.

When you are feeling sad or worried or anxious, cultivating a positive attitude may feel just as overwhelming as all the other challenges you’re dealing with. Start with small shifts to build towards greater positivity. Here are five ideas to get you started.

  1. Pay attention to your words and vocabulary. Replace negative, pessimistic phrases with optimistic, empowering ones.
    Instead of saying “I can’t go out to eat,” try “Cooking at home allows me to try new recipes and make healthier choices.”
  2. Start a gratitude journal. Every morning or evening, take five minutes to jot down three things you are grateful for. Reread your entries when you need encouragement.
  3. Connect with people who lift you up with their own positive energy and outlook.
  4. Keep a list of things that inspire you-music, movies, books, blogs, exercise, rituals, etc. Get a daily dose of inspiration to stay on track with your positive outlook
  5. Relish small pleasures. It’s easy to focus on what we’ve lost and what we’ve had to sacrifice, but there is still joy to be had in life. Be intentional about recognizing the pleasure and joy in small moments, such as the perfect cup of coffee, a leisurely walk along a quiet country lane, fresh vegetables from your garden, time to read new books and reread favorites, starting a new hobby, assembling a care package to send to a friend (and envisioning their smile of surprise), and so much more.

How are you staying positive? What inspires you? What encouragement would you offer to others? Keep up the good work and have a wonderful August.

Believing in Tomorrow,

Gini

June – Celebrating Wisconsin Authors

There’s something special about reading a book set in a location you are familiar with, especially when that setting holds fond memories or is much loved.

When an author weaves in authentic details about a location, especially local traditions, culture, and history, the setting becomes another character in the story.

For me, Wisconsin is such a place. What makes The Badger State special for me is its expansive shoreline, quaint small towns proud of their history, creative and beautiful artisan crafts, and a strong sense of community no matter where you live in the state.

Here are five Wisconsin authors whose books showcase what I love about our state.

Kate Bowman – For the Love of Fiber Series, which includes The Spin I’m in and It Never Felt so Good

Virginia McCullough – Author of The Jacks of Her Heart, Greta’s Grace, The Chapels on the Hill, and other award-winning women’s fiction and romance.

Nancy Sweetland – The Door to Love: A Door County Romance

Valerie J. Clarizio – Love on the Door County Peninsula Series, which includes Talia & Ryan’s Story and Jess & Sam’s Story.

Mary Grace Murphy – Noshes Up North Culinary Mystery Series, which includes Death Nell, Death Knock, and Death Nosh.

You can also enjoy my women’s fiction romance, inspired by the joys of living in Wisconsin.

What is a place you love to read about?

Believing in Tomorrow,

Gini

May – Looking for the Silver Lining

The coronavirus pandemic has brought uncertainty and fear into our homes and our lives. How did this happen? What will we do to survive? When will it end?

There is an abundance of speculation by both citizens and professionals to these and other questions, but, as yet, there are no definitive answers. Each state, community, and family needs to evaluate the situation as it unfolds and reach answers that are unique to themselves. We have never had to handle such an overwhelming event that reaches to our core.

So, in my humble opinion, I say help where we can, let kindness be the guiding force. A simple phone call to an isolated person will let them know you care. A funny card,–homemade preferred–sent by mail will bring a smile. Maybe with all the home cooking being done, a plate of sandwiches and cookies would be a treat for a close neighbor with children who are tired of eating mac ‘n cheese.

I call these little acts of kindness a silver lining to the chaos surrounding us.

My neighborhood email thread keeps us connected. It is a poor substitute for morning coffee with a friend or a lunch together to help support our local restaurants. But think how much we will enjoy seeing each other when we can.

I live in a rural area, and last week a neighbor reported seeing orioles and hummingbirds. I’ve been watching, and this morning a male oriole sat on the window ledge by the kitchen table. He left before I could get a picture, but, oh, how beautiful he was. I call him Nature’s silver lining in these days of doubt and despair.

One evening, the local nesting pair of Canada geese brought eight goslings onto the lawn. They ran and played, then ate the newly mowed grass and ran some more. The parents certainly had to work to keep them together. Can you argue against this silver lining of life moving forward?

My neighbors have gardens ranging from a few raised beds to elaborate areas with greenhouses and hoop houses. With empty spaces on the shelves at the local grocery store, these friends won’t be in need of assistance. They are kind people and will generously share extra produce come harvest time. Neighbor helping neighbor, another silver lining.

This week I will plant lettuce and radishes in my cold frame. The ground is warm under the glass and once the sprouts appear the plants will be safe from rabbits and deer looking for a tender green treat. It will be a couple of weeks before I plant the rest of the garden. I’ve seen too many freezing nights before June to challenge Mother Nature. Doing a second planting after a frosty night is not my idea of fun, thank you very much. Come fall, I will reap my silver lining and share the bounty with my neighbors.

In The Christmas Promise, my 2019 holiday novella, Charlotte Wilson goes to Willow Birch, her husband’s childhood home to be with her mother-in-law. The longer she stays, the more she sees the community as a take-care-of-your-neighbor kind of place. Charlotte uses her abundance to help a local, needy family. Her silver lining is the joy she feels after helping others in a position of want.

We shouldn’t wait for a holiday or a special event to find a silver lining, a small act of kindness for a friend or neighbor or for someone unknown to us. Now is the time to reach out. Be creative, Be funny. Bring joy to the day.

Silver linings, small blessings, will have us …

Believing in Tomorrow,

Gini

April – Planning Ahead

With the uncertainty we are facing now and into the unknown future, we are forced to do more planning than we have had to do in the past. Our shopping mainstays – grocery and all-purpose stores – have limited items on their shelves, forcing us to adjust our meals and activities. Never before in recent years have we’ve seen empty spaces in our stores and wondered when they will be restocked.

As we focus on our homes, I’m reminded of a quilt block known as the Log Cabin design. Popular in the late 1800s, this block was traditionally made with a red square in the center of the block to represent the hearth of the home. Around that square, strips of light and dark fabrics were added in sequence. The light fabrics on one side represent the sunny side of the house while the dark fabrics are the shadow side.

It’s known that quilts with black center blocks were sometimes hung outside homes to indicate a safe haven for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad trying to make their way north to freedom. After the Civil War ended in 1865, there was a dramatic migration to settle the West. During that time, brides-to-be often used yellow center squares, thought to represent hope for their lives ahead.

New quilters often used this design to develop their skills for accurate cutting and sewing. They find the sewing requires attention to seam allowance, and it’s easy for a block to become slanted if the sewing is not precise.

My first attempt many years ago.

Recently I made a wall hanging using the Log Cabin pattern It was important to me that the cutting and sewing were accurate so the wall hanging would be square with the wall when it was done.

Recent finished project.

In my latest release, The Quilt Company, Deanna Westford uses the Log Cabin quilt design to describe the way she’s building her company, with each strip representing a different part of the business. She knows that each “log” of her business needs to be added accurately or her business will become out-of-line and collapse.

Our current lives require us to give accurate attention to the many aspects of our lives – the light and dark “logs” around our hearth – to make it through this difficult time.

I wish your family well keeping your Log Cabin safe.

Believing in Tomorrow,
Gini

March ~ the Month of Transition

In Wisconsin, we talk mostly about the weather during March. The adage, “In like a lamb, out like a lion,” or vice versa, is mentioned often from day one. I’m afraid that if this is true, with the beautiful days we are having now, we will pay big time before the end of the month. So, when conversations lag, weather is an easy subject.

Nationally, we transition into Daylight Savings Time in March. How wonderful to have an extra few minutes of daylight in the evening and more time as the months pass. I love those warm evenings when it is light after supper.

Wisconsin – the beer capital of the U.S., maybe the world – transitions to “green” beer on St. Patrick’s Day. Even if you don’t claim Irish heritage, the meal that day is corned beef and cabbage served with a mug of green beer. One meal each year is enough for me, thank you.

My favorite transition in March is the changing of the closets. I am not a person who embraces winter, so when warmer temperatures arrive this month, I am happy to put away the heavy coats, hats, and mittens for another year. It’s like the weight of the cold weather is also being packed away.

This month I transitioned to include sewing and knitting along with quilting. Our local help organization needed baby items, so I opened totes of yarn, cabinets of flannel fabric, found patterns, and got busy. Boy, did I have fun. Look at my assortment of booties, beanies, bears, and blankets.

By the time you read this, all the items will have been given to local families in need. I’m so grateful to be able to help.

Before I sign off, I want to tell you Miss Opal, the recipient of the quilt from the January blog, arrived on schedule. She and Mom are doing fine. Dad is sporting a huge smile and offering a helping hand.

Keep well this month and enjoy a touch of the Irish.

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much, and reach for that Pot o’ Gold.

Believing in Tomorrow,

Gini  

FEBRUARY – The month of love and romance and Valentine’s Day

Did you ever wonder how it all began?

Historians aren’t 100% in agreement as to the beginnings of this holiday. Many believe it started as a Pagan ritual known as Lupercalia when goats and dogs were sacrificed and their skins, soaked in the animal’s blood, were used to slap the women of the village. The women welcomed the treatment, believing it helped to make them more fertile in the coming year.

Around the 3rd century A.D., the Catholic Church banished the Pagan ritual and recognized three different saints named Valentine, but, here again, there is no consensus among the researchers.

It is known that Americans began exchanging handmade valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, a woman began selling the first mass-produced valentines she made with lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures. In 1913, Hallmark Cards offered premade valentines, and in 1916, began mass producing them. It is estimated that 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year.

We have friends who save their money all year so they can celebrate Valentine’s Day in grand style. They buy special gifts for each other, spend the evening with dinner and dancing, and playfully renew their wedding vows. Hubby and I are lower key in the celebrating—maybe a card, maybe a dinner out, or not. It all depends on the activities surrounding the day.

My quilt project for February was done as a challenge from the aforementioned husband. He said, “Do something that you haven’t done in a long time.” I immediately thought of a miniature project. And what better subject than a heart?

Each of the squares of red fabric in the heart finish as one inch squares. To keep the challenge going, I hand-sewed all of the red squares together, then added the background fabric using the machine. The fabric heart is in a 7 x 9 inch frame.

With the leftover fabric, I made two-sided hearts and put them on florist wire. I put the hearts into a red and white artificial flower arrangement I put out in February.

I hope you enjoy the month of love and romance and make every day a Valentine’s Day.

Gini

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!

I hope everyone is as excited as I am about starting fresh in January. I have a group of friends that are truly motivated with goals and intentions, so when I asked them about their projects for the coming year, they could count on their fingers the what, when, where, and how they would be successful.

When I inquired about their decade goals, I was totally surprised. They looked at me with deer-in-the-headlights expressions and mumbled, “Well…I… Let’s see… Um…I’m not sure.”

Could this be true? Do my dedicated friends only think in one-year increments? I was surprised – shocked, really – until one person explained that thinking long-term was scary for her. The last time she’d planned long-range goals, she accomplished them sooner than she’d planned and was left floundering with all her “free” time.

My reply of, “How wonderful. What a gift. Let’s plan more goals for you,” wasn’t received well.

I finally realized she hadn’t given herself time to do some future thinking to challenge herself to set bigger goals that were “scary” and would stretch her skills to accomplish them.

It is a known fact that we plan to do more than we can accomplish in one year, but we also don’t plan to do enough in the years beyond the first and are left with “Is this all there is?”

So I challenge you to grab a cup of tea, coffee, or “whatever” and spend some enjoyable time doing future thinking for the next few years in order to make this decade an awesome adventure.

For myself this year, in addition to writing, I have the challenge of making quilts – my first passion – for wedding and baby gifts. In our current society, hand-made gifts are seen as unique and special. And that is how I want my gifts to be.

My first gift this year is for a baby arriving in February. It is always relaxing and comforting to work with the pastel colors and add a flannel backing for warmth.

In this picture I have set out fabric and supplies and have made a few sample squares.

And here is the finished quilt, ready for the expecting parents. I can’t wait to hear when the little one arrives.

Each month this year I will show you my current quilting project and the challenges I will face making it.

Until next time, I wish you happiness and joy. The kind my characters receive after facing and overcoming their challenges.

Gini

Quilts Galore

I’ve always enjoyed books about independent women who are strong enough to successfully run a business and balance that with family. If there is a man in the story for her, that’s even better.

With the publication of my first book, Quilts Galore, you’ll meet Marianna Spencer, a professional quilter; her family, the attractive craftsman next door and the tight-knit, supportive community of Wolf Creek Square.

I brought my love of quilting to this story. I share Marianna’s love of fabrics and quilt patterns, and some of my award winning pieces were original designs. I have many boxes of fabrics and enjoy visiting quilt shops and quilt shows.

I’ve also brought a touch of history into the story. Sometimes it is fun to learn who were the settlers and how they forged homes and towns from the wilderness and how that history influences the lives and loves of the current residents.

I hope you enjoy reading about Marianna and her friends in Quilts Galore.

Next up for me is Country Law, my next novel in the Wolf Creek Square series.