Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


The Happy List

Swallowtail caterpillar in my garden.

Better late than never! This week’s happy list.

1) Music. It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but as I sat in the warm summer sun at the Winnipeg Folk Fest, I was struck by how music really is the universal language. I watched three bands grouped together on one stage who had never met before. One from Belize, another from Mexico, and a harmonica quartet from Quebec, of all things. The musicians didn’t speak the same language. They hadn’t heard each other’s songs before and certainly had different styles of playing. But they managed to make incredible music together–something incredibly unique to that particular day at that particular festival.

Me with the Medieval torture
device in Curacao.

How can watching strangers become friends through music fail to make one happy? If you haven’t made it to an outdoor festival or concert this summer, I highly recommend it–even if you think you’re not the “festival type”. You may be surprised.

2) Trying new foods. So far this year, I’ve tried red snapper (with the head still attached), conch, jerk and Thai-flavored cheese, keshi yena, meat cooked on some spiked iron Medieval torture device, homemade ice-cream sandwiches, and deep-fried pickles. Some were hits and others I’ll never eat again, but getting adventurous with your palate is one way to shake things up and discover a new favorite. And it’s fun! I should have bought those haggis-flavored chips….

3) Living up to your calling. When you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing (and only you can say what that is), it feels amazing. I’ve learned this the hard way, again and again. When I’m writing, I feel great. When I’m not, I feel guilty. And guilty does not equal happy.

4) Butterflies and other garden visitors. I have a small butterfly sanctuary for swallowtails in my backyard. Monarchs finally came last year and I could have danced with joy! Knowing that you’re doing something good for wildlife and the environment feels fantastic, not to mention the insects are fascinating to watch. I would love to see more bumblebees, though.

5) Meeting like-minded people. I finally bought my plane ticket to Vancouver last night. I’m returning to the writer’s conference I used to attend every year until my day jobs got in the way. There’s something about being a room with hundreds of like-minded people who are in the same boat and truly get where you’re coming from. I learn a lot, make new friends, and always return home refreshed and inspired. There’s a conference for almost every past-time on the planet–have you been to one?

What’s making you happy this week?

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
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  1. Javier

    I am going to the Kiss concert tonight with a very good friend. That makes me happy!

  2. Story Teller

    That’s a great one, Javier! That makes me happy too.

    And a comment on my blog! How could this day possibly get better?

  3. Kathy C

    Last year this week I had 2 broken fingers. This year, I’m able to go to Super Spike, do the Color Me Rad run and go to kickboxing to train. Remembering how much it made me sad to have to say no to all the fun things I wanted to do and knowing that I can do them now… That makes me very happy!

  4. Story Teller

    That’s awesome, Kathy! I’m so glad that you’re happy and healthy and able to do what you love. The easiest way to appreciate something is to have it taken away, unfortunately.

    The Color Me Rad run sounds interesting…I’ll have to look into it. Thanks so much for your comment!

  5. Lisa

    –>Listening to Josh Ritter’s new album while I work.
    –>Having fresh sweet corn on the cob (BBQ’d) twice this week.
    –>Sharing the crossword puzzle with my husband while we drink coffee on the patio on a warm summer morning
    –>Running trails in Whittier Park and reveling in the cool shade and firm mud paths

    I have a lot that makes me happy this week…that’s just a sampling!

  6. Story Teller

    That sounds awesome, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your list.

    I’ve never heard of Josh Ritter. What is he like? I wish I could listen to music while working, but I can’t focus, unfortunately. Always envied people who could.

  7. Lisa

    Josh is a singer-songwriter (he played the WFF this year but I didn’t get out to it :(( )
    You can listen to some tracks on his website: http://www.joshritter.com/
    His new album is about mending his broken heart – lots of wonderful lyrics that I totally get lost in.. lol!

    from “A Certain Light” off the new album:
    My new lover, sweet and kind
    The kind of lover that one rarely finds
    And I’m happy for the first time in a long time.

    Came along and opened up a door
    And though I know I’ve been in love before
    Oh I feel it so much more than the last time

    And she only looks like you
    In a certain kind of light
    When she holds her head just right…

  8. Story Teller

    Thanks for the info, Lisa. I was at the Folk Fest but didn’t see him. I’ll have to check him out! I’m always looking for new talent.

  9. Michelle D. Argyle

    As always, wonderful thoughts! I hear you about living up to your calling. On days that I do so, I’m on fire. 🙂

  10. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comment, Michelle! This week is all journalism and not much calling for me. Hope you’re having an awesome week.

    PS – I thought you would like the fact that I have a butterfly garden.

  11. Michelle D. Argyle

    Oh, yes, of course I do! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for so long, but where I live just doesn’t get enough sun at all, especially for milkweed. It’s one reason why I’d like to move.

  12. Story Teller

    Sun I definitely have. But the caterpillars haven’t been as plentiful this year. I think it’s still too early for monarchs, but the swallowtail population is significantly low compared to other years. Of course, I have more dill this year so they’re also harder to spot. I have a forest of dill!


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