Inspiration

Where do you find it?  The inspiration to write, to create, to change your life; where do you find your inspiration?  Do you find it in your meditation?  A walk through nature?  A song on the radio?

 

We all get those thoughts, or feelings that enter our brains and whisper softly, seductively:  Do this!  But how often do we follow through?  What keeps us going?

 

There are times in your life when a certain song will help you find your inspiration or get you through those tough moments.  Here are some of mine!  They’re 80’s songs; I told you once before how much I love them!  And I am a product of that generation.

 

Whenever I was feeling blue about a boyfriend, I’d listen to:

 


 

 

When I was a gym rat, and needed inspiration during my workouts, I’d put on:

 

 

Or

 

 

And when I needed to find that inner strength to make a major life change:

 

 

 

At some point in my life these songs spoke to me, on some level that made me reach down and find the will to keep going.  Are they cheesy?  Sure, maybe, but they had the power, at some moment in my life, to inspire me to keep going.  Finish that work out, give love another chance, take a giant leap of faith.

What are some of your inspirational songs?  What makes you want to get up and move?  Which one keeps you going when you feel like you want to quit?

Teach Your Dog English

HaHaHaHa! Your accent is terrible!

 

Because speaking dog is hard on the voice

Your dog is going to have to learn English, or Spanish, or German, or…you get the idea.  Training your dog involves teaching her a wide spectrum of behaviors.  There will be some behaviors you’ll expect her to do all the time, without being told; for example, not eliminating in the house.  For others, you will give a specific command; like ‘sit’.

We already know about communicating with our dog, and how important timing and accuracy are to successful training.  The third leg of a successful training plan is establishing some sort of dialog between the animal and the trainer.  Yes, really.  So we’re not talking about the weather or the nature of the soul, but there has to be a two-way communication system or we will never have a trained animal.  With this system in place, there’s no limit to what you can teach your pet.  But just like learning a new language it takes a little time, and patience for you both to understand it.

Since you are the trainer, the burden falls upon you to be absolutely clear and precise in defining and applying the ‘words’ that you use.  You are going to teach your dog useful commands, and you are going to carefully observe her reactions and body language to understand what she is telling you.

A command by any other name

Animal Training Glossary:  Command.  Tells the animal to perform a specific behavior.  Also known as a cue, or signal.

Animal Training Glossary:  Trained behavior.  A behavior the animal performs on command, as opposed to doing it whenever she feels like it.  The training process is the means whereby the trainer pairs the command with the desired behavior.  An animal is trained when she reliably performs the behavior on the command.

If you say the word ‘down’ randomly in a sentence, and your dog coincidentally lies down, you have not ‘trained’ her.

Consistency – it’s not about texture

Ah consistency in animal training!  It is one of the easiest mistakes for a trainer (yes, you!) to make.  If you are inconsistent in your training, you will not be successful in your training.  Let me give you a few examples:

 

Owner:  “Sit, Jesse.  Sit.  Jesse, come on, sit, now!  JESSE, SIT!”

Dog:  “Which one of those did you mean?  Do you want me to sit on the first command or the third?  Does that fourth one count then?  And why are you yelling at me?”

Poor Jesse has no idea what he’s supposed to do.  Repeating a command only confuses the dog.

 

Dog jumps on couch.

Owner:  “Jesse, Down!”

Dog jumps up on visitors.

Owner:  “Jesse, Down!”

Dog is just standing there.

Owner:  “Jesse, Down!”

Dog:  “Does that word mean get off the couch, don’t put my paws on people, or lie down?”

One command = One behavior.  Jesse has no clue what his owner wants when he says ‘down.’  To Jesse, it’s a nonsense word, just like most of the blah-blah that comes out of his owner’s mouth.

 

Dog jumps up on couch.

Owner:  “Come on over here and cuddle!”

Dog:  “Cool, comfy couch time!”

Owner sitting on couch watching the big game.

Dog:  “Cuddle time!”  And jumps up.

Owner:  “Jesse, Down!”  And pushes Jesse away.

Poor Jesse’s not having an easy time understanding his Owner.  He knows ‘sit’ means to plant his butt, but his Owner says it so fast and so many times, he’s not sure when he’s supposed to ‘sit’ or if his Owner really means it or not.  He has no idea what ‘down’ means, but his owner is usually angry and yells it.  Jesse’s not sure if it’s something he’s doing, or if his Owner is just upset because the cat walked by.  What really confuses Jesse is the couch, sometimes he can lie on it, but other times, it makes his owner really mad when he jumps up.

Is anyone out there Jesse’s Owner?  Consistency is hard!  I know, believe me.  I’ve done this professionally for years, and I still catch myself saying ‘sit’ a couple times in row.  Then I kick myself, and start over.  I’ve been Jesse’s Owner!  The trick is to catch yourself at it, and practice.  You’ll get there!

Consistency affects multiple aspects of training

You must be consistent is all facets of your training, and not just you, but every member of your family must train the same way.

Decide what behaviors you want to train.  I suggest a minimum of Sit, Down, Come and Stay.

Decide what word you’re going to use as the command and stick to it.  Try to avoid using the word when your dog is paying attention to you if you are not actively trying to get him to do the behavior.

Decide ahead of time what behaviors you’ll allow, and what you won’t.  If you’re okay with your bull mastiff jumping up and putting her paws on your shoulders to give you big, slobbery kisses, then cool!  But don’t yell at her when she does it to you when you’re wearing a silk suit.  She can’t tell the difference between raw silk and cotton from Target.  Same thing for furniture; it’s either okay, or it’s not.

Are you consistent in your training?  Who else out there is Jesse’s Owner?

I Won’t See You Tomorrow

Because I won’t be online.  You may not be aware of this, but there are currently two bills in Congress; PIPA in the House, and SOPA in the Senate, which severely curtail freedom of speech.  Even if you’ve never been involved in politics you may want to pay attention to this one.

Rather than repeat what others have already so eloquently stated, I will direct you to two wonderful ladies who will provide you with details, and how to get involved.

 

Emma Burcart – No Soup For You!

Ginger Calem – Stop Censorship!

Ginger also provided this bit of info from WordPress on the SOPA Strike.

 

So, will you take action? If you can’t do without the Internet for one day, what will you do if it goes away?

 

My regular Wednesday Dog Training post will be delayed until Thursday.

Versatile Blogger Award!

Prudence McLeod kindly bestowed this award on me.  Thank you Prudence!  You really should check out her blog, she’s a prolific writer, a dog trainer and a Reiki Master-Teacher.  Novan Witch is on my Kindle, next on my reading list, waiting for me to finish Atlantis.

The Versatile Blogger Award has a few requirements.  You must thank and link back to the person who bestowed it.  You must tell the world seven things about yourself, and you must pass it on.  I went visiting some blogs that I have not been to before, or only a few times, and let me tell you, I have been missing out!  So check out these talented writers:

Thea Atkinson  http://theaatkinson.wordpress.com/

Sadie Hart  http://sadiehart.com/

Jennette Marie Powell  http://www.jenpowell.com/blog/

Kristy K James   http://kristykjames.wordpress.com/

Barry Crowther    http://barrycrowther.com/category/blog/

Rachel Firasek    http://www.rachelfirasek.com/

Susan Bischoff   http://susan-bischoff.com/blog/

Mhairi Simpson   http://www.annemhairisimpson.com/

Chicki Brown   http://sisterscribbler.blogspot.com/

Jillian Dodd   http://jilliandodd.wordpress.com/

Seven things about me…

I hate housework.  Really.  I’ll do it under duress, but otherwise, I’m content to have a few dust bunnies populate my corners.  I am a lucky woman in that Hub shares my distaste equally, and when we do kick into cleaning mode he shares in the work.

I don’t mind washing dishes.  I know, totally contradictory.  Goes back to washing fish buckets on cold winter days.  Warm water, just my thoughts, ahhh, a mini-meditation session.

I believe you can create your own reality.  So many people poo-poo this.  “I wished for a million bucks, and that never happened” is usually what their complaint is.  Well, the universe isn’t going to just drop it in your lap because you wished for it once or twice.  It takes dedication, it takes moving, working toward what you want, and holding that reality firmly in your thoughts; it takes passion.  I am creating my reality as a best-selling author right now!

I love being surrounded by animals.  I can’t imagine a life without at least one animal companion.  Current count: A Belgian Sheepdog, 12 years, a yellow Labrador retriever, 5 years, one 16 year old cat and two 12 years old kitties, 4 chickens and 1 betta.

I’m not much of a girly-girl.  Don’t get me wrong; I like getting dressed to kill, going out and looking good, but it’s not an every day thing for me.  I can happily spend most days sans makeup and in casual, comfy clothes.  Comes from being in profession that essentially dresses in pajamas.

I’ve killed my own animals for food.  Chickens.  And, yes, they were delicious!  Going to do it again this year, too.

I dream of opening up a small farm.  I spent so many years teaching people about animals and the environment, and I would love to do it again!  Holding educational programs for city kids to learn where food comes from, animals and how we are connected to our environment.  Adults too!

I love to bake.  Just for the sheer pleasure of watching people’s faces light up when they taste real food made with love.

Congratulations to all Versatile Bloggers out there!  More blogger love to pass around!

Reiki On

What Is Reiki?

For the last several years I’ve been studying this fascinating practice.  You can find a lot of information about Reiki on the Web; how it originated, developed and spread.  Plenty of people will offer to make you a Reiki practitioner through online courses.  You can even find local Reiki practitioners and practice circles.  In very brief:

Reiki was developed in Japan by Dr. Mikao Usui and brought to the west by his student, Mrs. Hawaya Takata.  Reiki is a method of energetic, spiritual healing.  Reiki is a universal, healing, life force energy.  Reiki is channeled through the practitioner to the recipient; none of the practitioner’s energy is used.

Learning Reiki

Reiki practitioners progress through three different levels, or degrees:

First Level, or Shoden.  Reiki flows through direct contact, or minimal distance.  The practitioner lays her hands either directly on the client or can hold them a couple inches above the body.

Second Level, or Okuden.  In this level the practitioner learns symbols that enable her to offer Reiki at a distance.

Third Level, or Shinpiden.  The Master level is divided into two types of practitioners.  A Reiki Master is one who has been given the Master attunement and symbol, but does not instruct or attune others in Reiki.  A Master-Teacher is given an additional symbol and training in passing Reiki on to others.

At each level, the student is ‘attuned’ by the Master-Teacher.  An attunement is a sacred ceremony that enables the student to channel the Reiki energy.  It can be thought of as an opening up of psychic doors within the student.  Many Reiki students experience enhancement of their other psychic senses following a Reiki attunement.

Is It Safe?

My friend, and fellow student when I was studying to become a Master-Teacher used to say,  “You can’t fuck up Reiki.”  It’s true; the worst thing you can do with Reiki is spend some quiet, meditative time, either alone, or with someone else.

What happens in a Reiki session?  The client will lie down, fully clothed, or can remain seated in a chair.  I recommend the client close her eyes, and focus on her breathing.  I encourage clients to let go of any preconceived notions of what to expect, and just relax.

Maximum benefit is obtained from Reiki if you consciously accept it, so I encourage clients to repeat to themselves “I accept this Reiki for my highest healing good.”  I emphasize that it is her choice to accept the Reiki healing; I only offer the energy, the client is the one who allows it to work.

What is happening during a Reiki session?  Reiki is spiritual energy, it is a healing energy, but it does not do the physical healing, rather it supports and encourages the body in healing itself.  It operates on four levels:  spiritual, emotional, mental and physical, but it starts on the spiritual level.

Really?

Is it real?  I could give you a very wordy dissertation on the nature of reality.  Which might be fun, sometime.  Or share with you some of the things my clients have shared with me after a Reiki session:

“I’ve never had the pain go away without having to pop a pill.  I’ve never had the pain go away that quickly before.”

“I felt something shift in my back, my muscles relaxed.”

“I felt something release inside me.”

“First my arm went numb and tingly, then the pain went away.”

“I could feel the energy moving through me.”

“Your hands got really warm.  Almost hot!”

Was it ‘real’ for them?  What do you think?  What have you experienced during a Reiki session?  Do you practice Reiki yourself?

Pictures taken by and under copyright to me!  Please ask permission before use.  Thanks!

Animal Communication In Animal Training

Do I have to be psychic?

Animal training is animal communication.  I have known gifted psychic animal communicators; I’ve even experienced it myself.  If that is one of your skills and you use it with your animals, rock on!  But, even if being psychic just isn’t for you, if you want to train your dog, wrap your head around this concept:  Animal training is animal communication; you communicate what you want your animal to do.  And, your animal will talk back.

What am I thinking?

How can I talk to my dog?

Dogs do communicate, subtly through body posture and facial expressions, and vocalizations.  Some of a dog’s repertoire is obvious; we all know a growl or snarl is a threat, but a dog’s bark can be warning or welcoming.  If you have spent any time with animals at all, you know that they have emotional states as well as behavioral awareness, which they communicate with each other and, you!  You need to understand what your dog is telling you.  Your dog is supremely sensitive to your moods, postures and actions; whether you notice it or not, your dog watches you and knows your every action.  Time now for you to learn your dog!

"Blah, blah, blah. Too busy looking at that cat!"

Spend some time just observing your dog, or a pack.  Try to do it without them being aware of your attention.  Watch heads, ears, and tails; are they perked high or held low?  Where are her eyes focused, is her expression strong, confident, or wary and tense?  Is there a ridge of fur standing up along his spine, or is his coat slick, and flat with skin tight and twitching?  What do you think it means?  Next, watch your dog when you’re interacting with her, her facial expressions and postures.  Learn to recognize when your dog is paying attention to you, or focused on other things.

Did you know dogs yawn and lick their lips to relieve stress?  These behaviors are both an indicator the dog is experiencing stress, and a method of relieving that stress.  Dogs will also yawn and lick to help other dogs relax.  Seriously.   Don’t believe me?  Try it.  Watch next time your dog is yawning, (and she’s not about to drift off to sleep) you may notice she’s also exhibiting signs of stress, such as:  tight, worried expression, wrinkled brow, holds herself tensely, glancing side-to-side to avoid direct eye contact.  Try yawning back and licking your lips, casually glance at your dog, look away and continue to yawn and lick.  I’ll bet your dog relaxes.  See if you can spot this behavior at a dog park or in your own pack.

What’s that got to do with training?

“I just want my dog to do what I say.”  Sure, heard that one a time or two.  How are you going to tell your dog what you want?  You are the one who has to establish the vocabulary, and make sure your dog understands it.

Imagine you’ve just started a new job, one with a lot of tasks, from simple to complex, that you’ve never heard of before.  You are a complete newbie at this.  You have a hard time understanding your new boss, who’s teaching you the job, because he uses lots of new terms, he hasn’t really defined these terms and he doesn’t apply them consistently.  Plus, he seems to change his mind daily on just how he wants you to do your new job.  One day, it’s okay if you’re a few minutes late, the next he chews your ass off.  Who’s had that boss?

To train your dog, he has to understand what you are asking of him.  As the trainer, you need to be the one to establish clearly how you are going to communicate.  You will need to be able to read and interpret your dog’s behavior, so that you can shape your dog’s behavior.  If you do not clearly communicate your wishes to your dog, or have a grasp on your dog’s natural behaviors you will be like the boss in my example above.  You don’t want to be that guy.

Training an animal means you are modifying its behavior, sometimes contrary to the animal’s natural behavior or instincts; for the animal to do this on your command requires a level of trust from that animal.  You build that trust by establishing a system of communication that is clear and consistently applied.  Once you gain that trust, you know it.  Everyone who’s trained a dog, a horse, a bird, a goat, or any creature has felt that bond, that gestalt, of being in sync with your animal and perfectly understanding each other.  It’s really spectacular.  But it takes time and patience to build.

What does the black dog's posture tell you about his mental state? Is this a fight or play?

 

 

What's the expression on the puppy's face? The older dog?

 

 

How have you established communication with your pet?  Does your dog understand you?  Do you understand your dog?  What does she tell you?  What has he taught you?

To train an animal requires fine timing, a clear communication system and, consistency.  We’ll talk about being consistent in your training next time.

Share That Blogger Love

So many blogs!  How do you know which ones to read?

Developing this blog has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my writing career.  Through Kristen Lamb’s online class, Blogging to Develop Your Brand my online presence has skyrocketed.  Our class was 100 strong, a vital and diverse group and it has truly been a privilege to meet and learn with all of you.  I’m thrilled that I keep discovering more and more every day.

Two very talented writers honored me with these blogging awards:

The Liebster Award from  Deborah Johnson Krager  and  The Kreativ Blogger from Jennifer M. Eaton

Thank you to both these wonderful ladies, for bestowing these awards.  The best part of winning is, I get to pass these awards on, and introduce you to some very cool writers out there in blogdom!

I won’t keep you in suspense, the winners are:

Alicia McKenna Johnson – Arm Chair Adventures

Colin Falconer – Looking For Mr. Goodstory

Jacqui Talbot – JustJacqui2

Merry Farmer – An Historical Romance

Nicole Maggi – The Journey From Getting The Call To Seeing The Book On The Shelf

Sheila Seabrook

Jennifer L. Oliver – World Beneath The Evening Star

SJ Driscoll – Come Site By My Fire

Emma Burcart

Teresa M. Owen

Should you choose to accept, some conditions apply; you too must share the blog love.  Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award, and then pass the award on to five new bloggers.   Congratulations to everyone!

Congratulations to all the winners, and share that blogger love!

Spirits Are Everywhere

Really

There are spirits all around you.  Your own Guides, your loved ones who have already passed (human and animal by the way) want to be near you and look in on you.  My first dog, a big, shaggy black beast is always near me; he has quite clearly told me he would very much like to come back soon and live with me again.

The city of I live in has a rich history, and many old buildings with layers and layers of stories in their walls.  It is not hard to find a wandering spirit on any given occasion.  It’s been my experience that if they know I can see them, a few common reactions occur.

The Scary Dance

They try to scare me.  If the being is carrying a lot of heavy energy and emotions, the only way he or she knows how to communicate is through anger, hate and fear.  Also, they can often get a reaction out of the living by sending out such heavy vibrations.  If they have enough energy, they may manifest:  a form, moving an object, sounds.  Spirits are sometimes a little like dogs or small children; any attention, even if it’s negative, is reinforcing to them.  It makes sense too.  Heck, if I could see and hear everything that was going on around me, but everyone ignored, or walked through me, I’d probably get annoyed and start throwing things too.

The “How I Died” Movie

Especially if the death was traumatic, they want to tell me about it.  Make that show me.  I’ve been shown being drowned, stabbed, shot, suicide, and being surrounded by family members saying goodbye.

Afterlife Message Service

“Tell my family…”  As much as I would love to pass on every ‘I love you, I miss you, I’m okay’ the reality is often the family isn’t even present on the earth anymore to give a message to.

For those who have passed over, and even for those who haven’t the message is the same:  They’re okay.  They still exist, their personality survives even though the body may be long gone.  And they love you.

Time To Go Home

What I can do for spirits is offer to help them cross the Veil.

There’s lots and lots of ways to conceptualize this, ‘going into the light,’ ‘crossing over,’ etc.  Basically it’s when a spirit that is bound to the earth releases that binding and steps into the next realm, the true home of our spirit.

Spirits that are stuck here on Earth cannot move on for any number of reasons, traumatic death, unfinished business, an inability to let go of life, the list goes on and on and on.  It includes the ties of loved ones among the living who refuse to release the one who has passed on.

Not all of them want to go.  Some are fully aware that they’re dead, that home waits on the other side, but they want to stay attached for a time.

Crossing the Veil releases that binding; it is always by the being’s own free choice.  I don’t ‘make’ a spirit cross; I only point the way, although sometimes that process of pointing and explaining can get quite involved.  My Guides assist; they help by calling in the earthbound spirit’s own Guides and loved ones who show the bound spirit the way home.

Some of the most wonderful crossings I’ve ever seen are those of the darkest entities I’ve encountered.  These beings are filled with pain, fear and hopelessness and frequently project quite intense feelings of hate or anger.  When they cross the Veil, they release all of that heaviness and become once again their true, light selves.  It’s almost like an explosion of love and joy; the whole energy of the room changes, going from dark, prickly and uncomfortable to almost unbearably beautiful.

All photos are taken by and under copyright to ME!  Please ask permission before use.  Thank you!

Developing Your Dog Training Skills

Timing is everything

My husband, the bass player and professional musician, tells me I have no rhythm and can’t sing.  It’s true.  Until I met him I had no idea what a ‘count’ was for in music, and frankly it still kinda baffles me.  And, sadly, I really love karaoke!  Those cheesy 70’s and 80’s songs, I love getting out there and singing with all my heart.  No alcohol necessary.  But I’m usually flat, and can’t always find the right key.  Hub has stopped suggesting we go do karaoke, and he gets plenty of stage time on his own…sigh.

One day, we were driving down the road and I was trying, in vain, to tap my hand to the beat of the music on the radio.  Hub just shook his head.  “You’re early,” he said.  “You’re always early.”  And then, it hit me like an epiphany; why I couldn’t find the beat.  The heavens opened, choirs sang, bells rang, and everything became clear.  I was anticipating it.  I am too much an animal trainer to be a musician.  Now, I feel a certain vindication about having no rhythm, but have no excuse for still wanting to inflict karaoke on my loving, musically talented, husband.

That has what to do with animal training, you ask?  It’s all about the timing.  There are two key ingredients to animal training that apply whether you’re trying to train a dog, a cat, a wolf, a cheetah, a dolphin, a sea lion, or a hawk.  Timing and consistency.

Timing and consistency

We’ll get to consistency; for now, it’s all about the timing.  You will get faster results when training if you are accurate in your timing when you bridge your animal.  To be accurate, you must be able to anticipate your animal’s behavior.

Okay, in English:  be sure when you tell your dog ‘good dog’ that what he’s doing at that exact moment is ‘good.’  In other words, he is doing what you are asking him to do.  Accuracy in your timing comes from anticipating the moment your dog does the behavior you’ve asked for so you can time your ‘bridge’ appropriately.

Not that kind of bridge!

Animal Training Glossary:  Bridge.  A bridge is a signal that tells the animal ‘yes’.  It communicates that the behavior the animal is doing at that moment is correct, i.e. what the trainer desires.  Usually a sound, like a click, or ‘good!’  Can also be visual or tactile.  So called because it bridges the time between the animal completing the behavior and the delivery of reinforcement.

 

Unlike my lack of rhythm, you can refine your timing

What does this mean?  Tell a dog to sit and praise him, right?  But when am I giving that praise?  If I tell Jake to ‘sit’ and he plants his butt, then stands up and takes two steps before I tell him ‘good dog’ then what have I communicated to Jake?  That I want him to stand up and walk toward me when he hears me say ‘sit’.   My timing is waaaay off; I am late with my bridge, so Jake does not understand what I am asking of him.

Have you ever seen the dog that sits halfway?  The owner says ‘sit’ and the dog’s legs start to fold, and then the owner tells the dog ‘good girl!’  The dog instantly hesitates; maybe she slowly completes the sit, or maybe slowly stands back up, or just stops and does the hover.  The slowing down or stopping indicates the dog’s confusion, because you were too early with your bridge.

You do not want to confuse your dog; it will frustrate her and could lead to behavior problems.  Be watchful, and know your dog’s behavior, so you can be accurate in your timing.  It takes practice, you will make mistakes, and this is okay.  Dogs are very forgiving.  Practice, and practice more; your dog will love you for it!  You can help her understand if you know exactly what behavior you are looking for, so you can anticipate your dog doing it correctly.

How do I do all that?

When I tell Jake to sit, I expect he’s going to fold his hind legs and plant his fanny on the floor.  I have a very clear picture in my head of what that behavior looks like, I know exactly what I want Jake to do when I say ‘sit!’  As soon as I see his back end start to drop, I get ready to tell him ‘good dog’ so that I can say it as soon as his haunches touch the carpet.  I anticipate the moment he completes the sit, so that I can bridge him at the exact moment he does what I’ve said.

Simple, right?  Think about your own dog, and when and what you praise him for.  Every time you tell your dog ‘good’ you are telling him the behavior he’s doing right then is correct.  Now consider, is that something you really want him to do?

Practice refining your timing so that you deliver your bridge accurately.  Have you been trying to train your dog?  Does he complete the behavior you ask?  Stop halfway?  Have you been timing your praise accurately?  Where do you think you are early or late?

I'll let you know if your timing is right!

 

All photos taken by and under copyright to ME! 🙂  Please ask permission.

 

Happy New Year!

What direction do you want travel in 2012?

 

Welcome to 2012!  We’ve survived another lap around the sun!

This time of year brings out the best and the worst in people; we had people getting stabbed over shoes, and lay-away gifts paid off in full by generous strangers.  Some stress out because they can’t find the perfect gift (an elusive creature), or get their decorations just right.  Others take time to reflect on the past year, some make resolutions they don’t intend to keep.  Many (myself included) just kick back, relax, enjoy the good feelings and fellowship that come with the holiday season, and try to spread some of it around.  Let me share some terrific bloggers with you:

Resolutions, what to do?

Louise Behiel gives you a step-by-step method for setting goals and resolutions.

Hayley E. Lavik tells you what she has no intention of changing.

Did you have a good year?

Lynette M. Burrows gives you some of the best of 2011.

Ginger Calem tells you about her five favorite things of 2011.

I want to send out a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me through this year, I never could have done it without you!  I made huge strides in my writing in 2011 and 2012 looks to be even more awesome.  Thank you for reading this blog, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with me!  I wish for all of you the very best the New Year has to offer.

Enjoy some spectacular fireworks from Australia’s New Year’s Eve 2012 celebration!