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Merri's Blog

Giving Thanks

Posted by Merri Hiatt on November 18, 2012 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (2)

Happy Thanksgiving!

How did Thanksgiving sneak up on us so quickly? It feels early this year, even though I'm sure it's coming at the same time as last year. Life just seems to be so filled up these days.

Holidays used to seem very far away from each other when I was a kid. Now, I can barely keep up! Halloween turns to Thanksgiving to Christmas, all in the blink of an eye.

When I was young, Thanksgiving meant family members gathering around the table to eat turkey and mashed potatoes. Olives held center stage for me. On my fingers, of course! Ten would be slipped over my fingertips and then eaten one by one with great zest! :)  Later, the olives would be eaten with a fork or, when no one was looking, my fingers.

Other dishes graced our table and became family favorites: my niece's sweet potatoes, my mom's orange Jell-o salad thing (you know, the one that has cottage cheese in it -- makes me gag every time, but I try it every year in hope that this might be the year I fall in love with it).

The last few years have been very different. After my father's stroke in 2006 and my mother's balance issues, they now live in separate places (Dad in an adult family home and Mom in a long-term care facility). It's a challenge to get the family together. Especially after my sister died in 2009. Things haven't really felt "right" since then.

It's been my personal tradition for well over ten years now to spend Thanksgiving weekend writing Christmas cards. I start playing Christmas music the week of Thanksgiving to get in the mood. I ignore Black Friday in favor of sappy Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, a warm blanket, and a stack of Christmas cards, address lists, stamps and red and green felt tip markers.

Once the cards are done, they will sit on the counter until December 1st (no premature mailing, the postmark must say December 1!). I love getting the cards done early as I know my loved ones will just be starting to think about Christmas. What a great way to begin the Season of Love!

This Thanksgiving, I wish you a quiet moment to drink in the joy of all the reasons you have to be thankful. The simple things, such as breathing, as well as the more elaborate things, reconciliation with loved ones, forgiveness, humor and passion.

Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving!

I was almost a leap year baby

Posted by Merri Hiatt on February 29, 2012 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)


I celebrate my birthday each year on February 28th. Yes, I was almost a leap year baby.

Birthdays are often a time of reflection. Thinking back on the last year and planning for the future. We believe another year lies before us, but we don't know what might come our way. A diagnosis may change our plans drastically. News of a pending divorce or marriage can alter how we view the days ahead. And, sometimes, we spend so much time thinking about yesterday that we miss the day right at our feet.

When I was knee-deep in chemotherapy treatment for cancer (diffused large b-cell lymphoma, to be exact), I remember counting seconds as a way to get through a difficult time. Every part of my body hurt and moving even half an inch or blinking my eyes took too much energy. I didn't see how I would ever get through that stretch of time.

Then, I began counting. One, two, three, four... When I got to sixty, I was relieved that an entire minute had passed. I had not died. I thought if I could do that sixty more times, I would make it through the next hour. I began to count again.

I still count today when times are tough. Instead of wishing the moment away, I try to experience it, hard as it may be, and then move past it.

With an extra twenty-four hour period this month, I hope you are able to pause for a moment and give thanks for the gifts you have received, honor the challenges for what they have to teach us and plan for the days ahead. It all lies before us like an unwritten book. It is up to us to lay down the words and breathe them into every part of our being.

Fall -- a poem

Posted by Merri Hiatt on October 18, 2011 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The path taken

Posted by Merri Hiatt on October 3, 2011 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

How many times have you encountered a crossroad in your life? Sometimes we don't even know we're at a crossroad until we've traveled on the road for a bit. Then, when we look back, it seems so clear. We chose, whether it was subconsciously or with much pro and con list making, we chose.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
From "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

When friends encouraged me to put the words in my head down on paper and get them published, I was completely clueless as to how a writer gets a book into the hands of a publisher and a book is made available.

After a quick Google search (Google is your friend, remember?), I found a publisher that seemed legit and claimed to have 50,000 happy authors. Sign me up! I'd make it 50,001! Could it be that easy?

I sent my manuscript in immediately, making sure to read the submission guidelines carefully. A response was in my e-mail box within twenty-four hours. They wanted to give my book the chance it deserved.

To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. A fire had been lit deep in my belly and I could barely stand working at my day job when all I wanted to do was write. After all, I was now a published author.

I didn't know it then, but I had chosen to walk a path pitted with stones, potholes, and hidden sinkholes. A little education in how publishing really works would have helped me tremendously. Thankfully, I found just that at the Absolute Write forum (Linky goodness:

I regretted my choice for several years. Most days I still do. But I also learned some life lessons that I will never forget:

1. Google really is your friend - use it. Also remember to add the word scam or complaints to any Google search you perform.
2. While Google is your friend, you need to use your brain and discernment skills. If something sounds too good to be true, well, that saying hasn't been around forever because it's not true.
3. Sometimes you need to go deeper. What you see on the surface is seldom what is real.
4. Mistakes are okay, we all make them. The key is to learn something from the mistake and move on. Growth happens when we are forced to look at things in a new way. This is a good thing.
5. Before dismissing an idea, consider it from all angles first. 
6. There's no replacing personal research. Let me say that again. There's no replacing personal research.

Back to my original thought...

We make turns here, linger there, get stuck for a few days (months) over there. Isn't that what life is? Navigating the pathways to create a life that is uniquely ours.

When you look at the moments in your life when you made key choices, you were making a bend in your journey. No one wants to end up on their deathbed having walked a straight line from point A to point B.

Throw some twists, round-a-bouts, and even a few hairpin turns in there. It's your life and it is defined by the choices you make and how you feel and interpret these choices.

Doesn't that path over there look interesting? I think I'll check it out.

Conjunction Junction what's your function?

Posted by Merri Hiatt on October 1, 2011 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Remember Schoolhouse Rock? Interplanet Janet (she’s a galaxy girl), getting adverbs at Lolly’s, and Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla were only a few of my favorites.

I just knew when the lucky number seven rabbit stepped from the mid-air steel beam, he would be a goner (not to worry, he’s Lucky Seven Sampson for a reason).

These educational and fun songs are engrained in my brain. When someone makes a comment about bills and laws, the cartoon for I’m Just a Bill starts playing in my mind’s eye.

I often think we’re missing this foundation today. Sure, we needed more than Schoolhouse Rock on a Saturday morning between Scooby Doo and Captain Caveman, but it was a learning tool that really stuck with me, and with my friends. The information slid right into our psyche and lodged itself firmly forevermore.

Even when we weren’t aware of it, we were learning. Isn’t that one of the best ways to educate? It’s not even painful!

Luckily, the internet is a marvelous thing and you can find Schoolhouse Rock videos on YouTube (what can’t you find on YouTube?).

I would be remiss if I didn’t give you a link to the educational goodness. Here’s a link to a page that contains all Schoolhouse Rock titles and song lyrics, along with links to the videos on YouTube.

Excuse me, I have a date with YouTube and Mother Necessity (where would we be?).

Autumn is here!

Posted by Merri Hiatt on September 25, 2011 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (4)

Yes, that deserves an exclamation point. The air feels different now. Not in a way that you'd notice right away, it's subtle. You find yourself remembering to bring a sweater with you when you leave the house or reaching for the throw that's been draped over the arm of the sofa all summer unused.

Today is blustery, with wind making the clouds scurry by so quickly, you'd think they were late for a meeting with the Queen of Hearts. Maybe they are.

It's the season for warm, fuzzy socks, flannel sheets and a hot cup of tea or cocoa.

I used to live in an apartment with a fireplace. I loved it. I purchased those pressed logs that you buy at the grocery store and I'd curl up with a good book and a hot beverage. Bliss!

Soon, we'll see frost on the grass and ground and we'll dream of summer. Well, most people will. Not me. I've waited all year for the leaves to begin their colorful dance.

Happy Autumn!

What's your passion?

Posted by Merri Hiatt on September 22, 2011 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (2)

I’ve been staying up much too late this week. Paying for it in the morning, too! But, oh, how lovely it is to spend time doing what you feel passionate about. Time loses all meaning, until you realize you haven’t gone pee in eight hours and your neck and back are so stiff you can hardly move.

That’s how I get when I’m writing, editing, creating book covers, and jotting down notes about a storyline or character. I’m amazed when I look at the clock and, quite literally, hours have passed by.

Last night I began a second or third round of edits on a book around 5:30pm. When I glanced at the clock, what seemed like only moments later, it was 12:15am. I hadn’t moved, except my fingers, in almost seven hours!

It helps that I do my writing on a laptop, usually sitting in the most comfortable recliner ever. I’ll have music in the background, turned up just loud enough that I can hear it, but not so loud as to be disturbing. A Diet Coke sits on a ceramic coaster atop a table my dad received years ago when he took a job on the California Coast working at a sawmill. He was there several months before our whole family moved from a very small town to Fort Bragg.

I had a roommate for a year or so and found it very difficult to find a space in my own head to be able to write. Another person’s presence was very distracting. I didn’t even realize it at the time. It wasn’t until my roommate left that my characters’ voices seemed to break through the disruption enough for me to hear them again. What a freeing feeling!

Back to passion… is there something in your life that you feel passionate about? Something that, while you’re doing it, time is suspended? The muscle aches seem to disappear and food never crosses your mind? I hope there is, and I hope you visit that passion often.

Did someone say Fall?

Posted by Merri Hiatt on September 16, 2011 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (2)

My favorite season is Fall. Yes, I know every season has its amazing qualities, but Fall, oh dear sweet Fall, you are my favorite.

Grey skies fill with puffy white clouds and rain drowns out all other sound, or falls so quietly and tenderly you are barely aware of it. Pace slows. We become more deliberate about our journeying, combining trips to save time (and gas), but also because the days are shorter, darker, and we smile at the light that shines from the windows of our home when we pull into the driveway.

Time is spent curled up by the fire with a good book and a cup of something warm. I can breathe in the Fall. Deeper than at any other time of year. Maybe it's because I allow myself not to be quite so busy, although it sometimes feels as if I'm just as busy. The very air feels different.

When I was a kid, I remember reading Winnie the Pooh and discovering the blustery wind. One day I actually saw leaves picked up by the wind and tossed over my head. They danced in the current and I was wide-eyed watching them. Blustery wind really does exist!

Dreams become real in the Fall. Passions are ignited. It is not a coincidence that women have babies about nine months after Fall has passed. ** insert eye wink here **

And, of course, more time inside means more time spent writing! Love that part.

Happy Fall!

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