Book Review: Look Up!


lookup-ccIn a fast-paced world that often makes us forget our humanity, we need to be reminded that life is more than work and paying the bills. Life is about breathing and soaking in the magic that comes with being alive. Jennifer A. Payne’s book, Look Up! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, offers both an exploration and reminder of how nature can save us from ourselves.

A simple walk through the woods is all it takes. Payne’s meditative journey begins on a wooded path surrounded by trees and with a question, “And how have I missed this before?” The wind through the trees and the crunch of leaves beneath her feet suddenly became the missing pieces she craved.

Look Up! is unique in that it combines quotations from the likes of Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau with spiritual thinkers such as the Dalai Lama and Krishnamurti. In between lines of poetry and philosophical ponderings are Payne’s personal essays that explore her meditative journey to reconnect with nature and ultimately herself. Her candor and wit makes her personal journey relatable and universal to anyone who feels overwhelmed by the pressures of modern life.

Payne’s use of diverse perspectives serves as a reminder that meditation isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing. For some achieving total mental stillness is a possibility, but for others the mind never stops ticking. In one of her personal essays, Payne puts out the idea that a constantly ticking brain isn’t necessarily a bad thing in terms of meditation.

Meditation is all about slowing down and redirecting all of our energy towards something that isn’t a to-do list. If we take the time to slow down and simply be, we might just learn something. Dragonflies and even a mushroom can carry a valuable lesson that is worth seeking and contemplating.

In addition to carefully selected quotations and essays, Look Up! includes beautiful photographs of Payne’s interactions with wildlife. Everything from raindrops on water to slithering snakes to autumn leaves elevates this little book into something very special. It truly invites the reader to take a personal journey. Whether it’s on an actual trail or vicariously through the pages, the meditative path is one worth pursuing.

I read Look Up! in three sittings, but I highly recommend treating it as a daily, weekly, or monthly devotional. It’s divided into months and seasons reminding us all that a journey takes time and patience.

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Click on the image to purchase Look Up! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness

Visit Jennifer A. Payne via her blog: Random Acts of Writing [+art]

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Sunset


The active weather of late has made the sky an interesting thing to watch. Between the presence of large, puffy clouds and the wind kicking up all kinds of dust, the sunsets have been absolutely beautiful. The interplay of light and shadow put on quite a show this week and I was happily enjoying a front row seat on my patio.

From pale blues, pinks, and purples …

to dazzling yellow, coral, and indigo …

The sky is a canvas, the sun a painter.

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With beauty like this greeting me at the end of each day, I can’t help but smile, breathe, and be inspired.

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

2014 Goals: September Status Report


1) Pitch The Muse.

I’ve heard it said that editing is never done and I’m truly starting to believe it! My editor did an amazing job of cleaning up my manuscript, but there are still a few more changes to make. As September came to a close, I started working through my “to-do” list of things to fix in The Muse. My list includes everything from a single word change to continuity issues.

I’m attacking my list like a test – complete the easy stuff first (single word changes) and then tackle to tough stuff (continuity issues). So far, the system seems to be working as I only have around ten more items left to do!

In addition to editing, I’ve been hard at work researching agents. I added seven agents to my spreadsheet tracker and I’m hoping to send them a query package as soon as I complete my final edits.

2) Outline and start writing The Muse: Lineage

While plot planning, I realized I needed to do a little research. I’m in the process of deciding what element of mythology I want to play with, while also considering how I want to re-imagine it. Recently, my muse has been a bit fascinated with the concept of an oracle. It’ll be fun to see where that path leads!

3) Submit writing.

Tunnel vision regarding The Muse keeps this goal on the shelf.

4) Continue to build author platform.

Traffic on Facebook has been phenomenal. Even though my page Likes shrunk a little, my posts are reaching an audience in the triple digit range. I’m starting to get more creative with what I’m posting and what I write on my page. It’s clearly paying off as traffic continues to grow.

As for Twitter, I haven’t logged in since August, which makes it all the more baffling that my followers have grown. It must be my blog post links! ;-)

Facebook likes went from 375 to 374

Twitter followers grew from 544 to 549

Thanks so much to everyone for clicking those follow and like buttons! Your support is greatly appreciated.

5) Inspire others.

As always, I hope I am a positive presence.

The invisible goal:

6) Be flexible.

My recent obsession with Haikubes (and Love Haikubes) has been a surprising and incredibly inspiring addition to my writing process.

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c.b.w. 2014