Tag Archives: writer

Sunshine Blogger Award!


Sunshine Award

The Sunshine Award!

I smiled with joy when, upon opening a comment, I discovered that the writer had given me the Sunshine Blogger Award! What a treat and an honor. So thank you, Jay Morris, for honoring me so. I think my readers will also like your blog, which is The Wayward Journey (link will open in a new window).

I must admit I’m embarrassed to be so late announcing this. Jay actually wrote to me at the beginning of January. However, it’s been a rough couple of months health-wise, so I am behind on many things! Now, I am feeling better, and the beautiful Gerbera daisy above heralds the beginning of spring.

The requirements for accepting this award are that I tell you seven things about myself and that I nominate ten other bloggers for the award, not to mention letting Jay know how much I appreciate his award to me.

Let’s start with the seven things about me that you may not know.

1. I’m a cat person. I like dogs and had them while I was growing up, but I adore cats. I love their independent spirits, their ability to take care of themselves when I leave for a few days, and the way they curl up in balls when they sit in my lap.

2. I’ve traveled to South Korea, Japan, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.  I lived in Korea for nearly two years and loved that wonderful country and its friendly, loving people who always had a smile for this expat. I took an eco-hike on St. Croix and learned many things about herbal medicines from the naturalist who led the hike.

3. I’ve been in every state in the Union except for Maine, Massachusetts and Alaska. I would love to visit Alaska one day. It’s been a dream for many years.

4. I have one daughter, who is 39. She is a woman of many talents. I adore her and her son, who is the light of my life. When he moved back to be with his dad during his teenage years, I missed him so much I could hardly stand it. But I am so grateful for the spending most of the first ten years of his life near him in person. We had wonderful times and still do have beautiful, warm talks and hugs when I see him!

5. My favorite color is yellow. My sofa is yellow, and the chair that goes with it has lots of yellow too. Yellow is such a sunshine color and always makes me feel great, whether it’s in my own living room or at the store buying flowers. I hope my daisies will come back this year.

6. I love gardening and I have had several wonderful combination veggie/flower gardens. Unfortunately, because of my health now, I can’t garden like I used to. However, I can do container gardening. In 2012 I had way too many containers with plants and flowers and veggies! It took me 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to water them each day. But they were beautiful.

7. It is still my dream to travel more. I would like to go to the holy healing places of Medjugore and Lourdes. Maybe God will send me a miracle healing if I go there. Of course, maybe He’ll send one even if I don’t! Next, I’d like to go to Israel. It doesn’t seem like a very safe place right now. I always pray for peace in that region. Finally, I’d like to go to Eastern Europe and see the Czech Republic and some other places. I hope one day I can achieve this dream. But if I don’t, I feel blessed and grateful for the traveling I’ve already done in my life. Many folks haven’t even been out of their home city or state.

Okay, now for the nominations.

1.  Monce Abraham is a writer who lives in India. His blog posts will really make you think. They’re not fluff at all!

2.  Lead, Learn and Live is David Kanigan’s inspirational blog.

3.  Piya Singh is an Indian Artist, currently living and working in Germany. I think you’ll like her creativity.

4.  Charlie and Tom are photographers whose work is lovely. Their blog is PhotoBotos.

5.  Shannon Elizabeth Moreno writes about her strong faith in Revelations in Writing.

6.  Marney McNall scribes her volunteer experiences in The Volunteer Fringe.

7.  Rebeca Bud has a different take on her blog: Taking the Kitchen

8.  Loolie and Poolie have a fun blog about their vacations: The Adventures of Loolie and Poolie.

9.  Dianne Gray is an award-winning Australian author. Her blog is Writing and Loving Life.

10.Speaking from the Heart is an out-of-the-box blog by a woman who is a holistic health practitioner.

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Filed under Family, Helping Others, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Starting Over…If I Can Do It, So Can You!


Up, up and away! Photo by me 🙂

Writing: my hope, my dream, my nemesis, my muse. I had my first story published when I was eight years old. It was about a water moccasin in the toilet. The local paper published it, and I was a proud writer. And then, it got sidetracked — that dream of mine — to be a full-time writer. It went off course because of getting married at a very young age, moving out of California to the South, supporting my husband’s career instead of my own, and mostly because I didn’t believe enough in myself in order to work at making my dream come true.

Then, in 1997, it happened. I saw a commercial with Magic Johnson. “If you do one thing toward your goal every day, at the end of a year you’ll have done 365 things.” Or something like that. Bingo. Hotter than heck light bulb goes on. Serendipity. Inspiration. And YES – my muse started working overtime for the first time ever. Within a month I was published. Within a year, I was making pretty good money writing. During that year, I went to South Korea to teach English for the first time.

The trip and living in another culture  inspired my muse even more. Plenty of subjects to write about. Lots of time to write. Success comes in the form of published work, both in the United States, on the internet and in Korea itself for the Korea Times, Seoul’s English language newspaper.

Then back to the United States in 1998. I move back to the South to be near my only grandson, who is one and one-half years old  at the time. What a sweetie pie he was (and still is). And writing. Yes, yes, YES! I am a full-time freelance writer and editor, adding credit after credit to my resume.

And then it all falls down, like the proverbial Humpty-Dumpty sliding down the hill. Clients don’t pay, I get depressed and more. I go back to South Korea and that falls apart as well. “What is happening to me,” I scream at my God. “ARE YOU LISTENING? HELPPPPPP.” I go back to South Korea and learn valuable lessons there.

And God does help, but not in the way I thought he would. I come back to the U.S. and do some writing for a content mill and am frustrated the whole time with the complete idiocy of the editors the mill selected. They mangle my work, add more mistakes (my writing is usually pretty much error free, and suppress my style.

More changes. Now I am ill, so ill I can’t work. This lasts for more than two years. In the hospital, out of the hospital, one thing after another, aches and pains all over, and I feel as if I am aging so fast and so prematurely that life hardly seems worth living.

Finally feeling better now. Thank you again, God.

And that, my friends, brings you up to date (without ALL the details) on my life. And HERE I AM.

So now, I’m starting my writing career over, because all my really good credits are a few years old. But it’s okay. Starting over is better than not starting at all.

What do you need to start over? Do you need to quit smoking or drinking so you’ll be healthier? Is there a relationship that you need to work on without blaming the other person for the problems in the relationship? Are you sick and tired of your career and need to start a new one? Do you need to lose weight so you can walk up stairs better or fit into clothes you really want to wear? No matter what it is, you can start over. If I can do it, so can you!

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Filed under Behavior

Endings and beginnings – more about friendship


children

I wish I had a picture of me and Janet, but I don't. So, I found this one on morguefile.com. Phaedra is the gal who took it. Her page is here: http://morguefile.com/creative/phaewilk

I’m going to Fayetteville, GA next week to see my friend Janet, who has cancer and the most amazing fighting to stay alive attitude I’ve ever seen. Janet is the person who opened her home to me in 1998 when I came back from my first year teaching in South Korea. She never charged me a  penny’s rent, helped me buy a computer and a car, and most of all, she accepted me exactly the way I was.

I was raw. I didn’t want to come back to the states, because I think I’m a true expat at heart. We’re both Scorpios, so we got along pretty well most of the time. Her husband was dying of Alzheimer’s and in a nursing home. I was so self-absorbed, I don’t think I was much comfort to her. We met online through a writing group. Janet was more of an editor than a writer, and she ran critique groups for budding writers – all online. Her site was writelinks.com, but it’s no longer on the Net.

However, while it was up and running, Janet did more good for more people than you can imagine. She encouraged, advised and just listened. She had a huge list of links to various other writing sites, resources which were invaluable to all the wannabe writers and pros alike.

A few years ago, Janet started knitting. She got so good at it that she started teaching classes at Michael’s, the hobby store for those of you who don’t know. Then she branched out. Instead of just knitting for friends or friends of friends, she started knitting baby things to be donated to an organization, the name of which I don’t remember. There are lots of these organizations, though, so if you’re a knitter, you might want to do a search for them.

Janet knitted me some washcloths to give as gifts to my family. I also got one. I still have it. It’s off white and the best cloth I’ve ever used to really get the dirt and grime off my face and body.

She has a mind like a steel trap — it traps information and keeps it to throw up as trivia or to explain some complicated medical process or to answer questions about everything from parenting to literature. I love her mind.

She’s traveled all over the world. Her husband Len worked for Delta Airlines and that was during the time when a buddy/family pass was exactly that. The pass cost a pittance compared to today’s rates. That was also when baggage was free, meals were free, and people took real books on planes instead of laptops and Kindles or Nooks. She has a map with little red push pins showing all the places she and her beloved husband went together.

When she was sixteen, she started a restaurant. Later she got advanced degrees in psychology and was a school psychologist for years. She’s soft-spoken and rarely gets angry, but she loves a good debate.

She’s from California like I am, and we had lots of laughs about how most people in the South don’t know what Swiss chard and artichokes are.

The night I arrived in Georgia from Korea via California, she took me to Ryan’s a buffet restaurant, so I could have my favorite stewed tomatoes and okra. She bought my favorite foods at the grocery store until I started making money with my writing and we challenged each other on computer games that didn’t involve killing monsters, aliens or humans. They were mostly word games as I remember. We both love words.

I call her every day now, just to see how she’s doing. Some days are good, some are bad. She’s in a lot of pain most of the time now. Treatments for the cancer are finished.

I like to think that God will answer my prayer for a miracle for Janet so she can go on being herself here on earth and enriching others’ lives.  On the other hand, if God doesn’t answer that prayer, I know he must need another angel. Janet will be an awesome angel. I hope she’ll visit me often, but I know if I’m not on her visitation list others will be, and their lives will be all the better for the time with her.

So, I’m going to Fayetteville on Tuesday next week. I’ll stay in a hotel and visit her once a day for two days. She says she doesn’t need me to stay with her. I guess the way it’s going, it will be the last time I’ll visit her. But instead of thinking of it as an ending, I’m thinking of it as a beginning.

Why?

Well, it’s a beginning because our friendship will ever be new. It’s the start of another phase of her life and mine without her.

What I know today is that my mother used to say I would be lucky if I had two true friends in my life. I have been more than blessed with quite a few more than two. I don’t believe in numbering a list of best friends, with this person being number one, the next being number two, etc. However, I do know that Janet is at the top of my unnumbered list today. The hope she gave to me, the consolation she provided when I was down, the good and practical advice she always gave – they will always be with me.

Lord, I hope I can be as good a friend to others as Janet and others have been to me. I hope that I can give people strength when they are feeling weak, the words they need to hear when they have a problem, and the ability to bring a smile to their faces when they are with or think of me.

Who will you be a friend to today?

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Filed under Friendship, Uncategorized

Slipping Through the Cracks


plant in sidewalk
Isn’t this a wonderful photo? I found it on morguefile.com. It was taken by giulian.

Luke 10:33 (NIV) But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

It’s hard to tell how old he is. His long, wavy brown hair is clean, and his reddened face makes me wonder if he is/was an alcoholic or just has weathered skin from being in the sun. His warm brown eyes belittle the rest of his appearance, which includes almost always dressing in camouflage.

I met him at the convenience store. Every night, night after night, week after week, month after month, he stands outside because once there was a robbery and he wants to make sure the women who work late at night into the wee hours of the morning are safe. The company doesn’t pay him to do this. He does it because it is his way of serving others.

His little red moped scoots down the road to his sparsely furnished house without air conditioning. His voice is soft and his grammar is pretty bad. He’s lived in Spartanburg all his life.

Being a writer, I’m always asking people questions. This drives my daughter nuts! She says, “Mom, you shouldn’t ask her such personal questions.”

I always respond with the same answer. “Well, Mol, I’m a writer and that’s what writers do.” If I had a dollar for every time we’ve had that short conversation, I’d probably be buying a home in the Hamptons.

Anyway, I needed an extra pair of hands and a strong back for my move in December 2010. I asked the gal at the store if she would trust him to help. She said, “Absolutely. We’ve never had anything go missing as a result of him being here.”

So I asked him if he would like to make some money, and he said “Sure” in his slow Southern drawl.

He did show up to help and did a wonderful job.

A few days later I saw him at the soup kitchen where I volunteer.

Fast forward to night before last. I had a car full of groceries and garage sale items I hadn’t unloaded yet. I was exhausted from running around, and it was getting late. I didn’t want to make 10 trips to the car, so when I saw him outside the store I stopped to ask if he would like to help. He agreed and came over, unloaded the car, hooked up my new flat screen TV (small for my office; I guess I’m finally in the 21st century now!).

Then we had dinner. I’d bought some fried chicken and potato salad. He wolfed it down. We chatted. He told me he’d had a job at a car wash in town for 20 years, but then he found a better job and then lost that one. He hasn’t had a job since and now does whatever work he can find. His friend lets him live in the house rent free.

He told me he doesn’t have food stamps, disability or any type of government assistance. Amazing. Seems like everyone these days gets that stuff, and some of them actually look like they live better than I do, taking vacations and so forth.

It used to be that when I would meet someone like him I would immediately take the person under my wing, try to fix and change them, and mostly feel self-righteous — as if I was God’s special messenger doing my part one person at a time.

I don’t do that anymore. I learned my lesson the hard way after getting ripped off by two people I tried to help…sometimes I’m a very slow learner.

He’s coming over today to do some planting for me because I just can’t get down on my knees right now. It’ll probably take an hour, and I’ll pay him $10 so he can have some money to put gas in the moped.

This man has slipped through the cracks of our society. So many have. One of my passions is helping the homeless. My dream is to renovate some of the old schools, mills, etc. around here and turn them into sustainable housing. I still have time.

Some people say you shouldn’t give people on the street money. Instead, they say you should buy them a meal. Over the years, some people have said to me, “Most of them are just alcoholics or drug addicts, OR (with a smirk) they’re mental cases, and THAT’S why you shouldn’t give them money. You can never be sure, you know? You never know what they might do to you.”

Though these people are partially correct, I ALWAYS give someting. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’ve been homeless so many times (never on the street, but very close).

Anyway, what do you do when you pass someone on the street who asks for money or you meet someone who is slipping through the cracks? Does it make you feel as good as it does me when you help someone else?

And, would you like to help me make my dream come true? Let me know what you could bring to the table (skills, money, who do you know, etc.) by emailing me directly.

Have a blessed day.

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Filed under Helping Others

Hello world!


Me, relaxing in Costa Rica, March, 2010

It’s time. This freelance writer has had a long dry spell, but my muse is finally working again.

You may wonder who I am and why I’m starting a blog. It’s simple.

1.  I have wisdom to share.

2. I know that my words are part of me, and I want to share them with more people.

3. I’m greedy. I’d like more writing assignments, so maybe some will read this and think – “I could use her skills on my website, my book, my articles, etc.” I’ll never know unless I ask.

A little about me:

My name is Ellie Kuykendall, and I live in my nearly perfect two-bedroom yellow house in South Carolina with my two calico kitties. It’ the first house I’ve ever owned, and I love it. I also love gardening, swimming, fishing for rainbow trout, reading, walking, eating out and going to flea markets and garage sales. But most of all I love God.

My writing experience includes articles for magazines and newspapers, contributions to books, and tons of website content. I started writing when the late 90’s boom for freelance writers hit the Internet. It was easy to get writing jobs then. People posted on places like Craigslist , and they paid anywhere from $.05 to $.50 a word.

Times have changed. Now everyone in the world wants to be a writer – we seasoned professionals call them “wannabes.” And so, the Web is filled with blogs and tweets,  updates and photos on Facebook and YouTube. Prospective employers check these sites to see if applicants are the type of people they want in their organization, folks look for high school and college classmates, and families stay in touch with their keyboards (whatever happened to the old fashioned dial phone? 🙂

So welcome to my world. You may love what I say or hate it. You may wait breathlessly each day to read my latest post or read one and wonder what turnip truck I fell out of. But one thing I promise. I will make you think, question and laugh. I’ll move you to cry, smile widely or pet your dog with gratitude. No matter how you feel when you read my writing, though, I hope you’ll share those feelings with me. And, if there’s anything I can do for you or anything you’d like to hear my opinion on, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Shalom and may the peace that passes all understanding be yours forever,

Ellie

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