Chynna's Books!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Music Mantra Monday - It's A Beautiful Day (Michael Buble)



Hi everyone, remember me?

Well, I know that it's been awhile since I've written. Not only has it been crazy around here, as usual, I've had a few  health concerns to contend with. My kids can only help me with so much.

When your health is effected, it can be a real downer, especially those of you going through more serious issues. I figured everyone out there could use a bit of a positive boost, especially with the weather finally starting to get beautiful again.

There are so many positives in our lives that we can turn to when going through troubled times. We overlook them, or don't see them at all at first, but they are there. That's an important factor I've realized lately.

So, for everyone out there...here's a funny video and great song to help you find some happiness to celebrate today. It always brings a smile to my face (and it helps that Michael Buble is singing it).

Enjoy.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Writing Sample Wednesday: The Mysterious Lucky Bamboo

I'm sorry we missed our Talk About It yesterday. I am crazy-busy around here with my upcoming blog tour for Just Shut Up and Drive, my new children's picture book coming out, keeping up with my editing and articles, plus putting in my daily word count for my next novel. And, if that isn't enough to keep me busy, I am finishing off my second degree (Criminology). Oh yeah, and did I mention doing all of this with four kids running around?

Ah well. At least they are all older now and can (mostly) occupy themselves until I have my precious few break times.

For today's Writing Sample, I thought I'd share a wonderful snippet I wrote for an environmental magazine a few years back.

As many of you know, I am very big on all things spiritual that connect one with the environment and to nature. In this article, I shared my experience and connection with Lucky Bamboo. I was introduced to it through a dear friend (thank you, Colleen) who gave me a bouquet of them to help me and my youngest through an emotional and scary time.

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Mysterious Lucky Bamboo
by Chynna Laird

Earlier last year my best girl friend, Colleen, got me a fantastic gift for my birthday: a small bunch of five lucky bamboo sticks. The little bundle was wrapped with a red silk ribbon and presented in a gorgeous glass pot, filled with smooth pebbles.

I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, but it really wasn’t the most eye-catching bouquet I’d ever been given. As I tried repressing a confused frown, Colleen laughed and said, “It’s Lucky Bamboo, Chynna. Surely someone as in tuned with the more spiritual side of life knows about Lucky Bamboo! It’s to bring peace to you and the baby.”

Now, although I’ve never been a person who believes in lucky charms, Colleen was right in that I am a very spiritual person, drawn to the Chinese and Aboriginal traditions. Those cultures just seem to be so connected to the environment. And I love how they use things from nature to bring peace and meaning into their lives.

I knew she was ultimately thinking of the baby but, secretly, I also think she got the bamboo because I have a horribly incurable brown thumb. I mean, I’ve managed to kill a cactus. But bamboo is very easy to care for as long as you remember to give it fresh water, lots of indirect sunlight and, as I liked to do, talk to it and tell it how beautiful it is (Hey! Whatever I can do to help keep plants alive, I try!).
In celebration of this wonderful and spiritual plant, I’ve gathered a few layman facts in case you want to purchase one for your own home.
What is “lucky bamboo? In Chinese, the bamboo is called, "Fu Gwey Zhu." Fu means Wealth, Rich; Gwey means Power, honor; and Zhu is bamboo. It isn’t the same sort of bamboo found at back yard barbeque parties. They almost look like tiny palm trees with their thick, fibrous stalks and sparse foliage. Ironically, even though they are thought of in Chinese culture, they are actually species of Dracaena, native to Cameroon in tropical West Africa.
Why is it lucky? Lucky bamboo is the most popular feng shui cure.  The most amazing definition I’ve seen states that the bamboo, “teaches the ultimate wisdom: how to be flexible and hollow (open) on the inside, so that the spirit can freely flow and heal your Being.” (About.com)
The lucky bamboo is thought to emit a very peaceful and wise energy and considered the most lucky when it combines all five of the elements of true Feng Shui:
WOOD - the Bamboo itself
EARTH - the Rocks the plant grows in
WATER - the Water the plant grows with
FIRE - most pots usually have a red ribbon tied to them
METAL - the glass pots belong to the metal element. If Bamboo is planted in a pot other than glass (i.e. clay or ceramics), it will usually have either a metal coin, or a metal figurine with it.
Why are they bunched in specific numbers? I’ve seen these little plants in stores and, although you can get one on its own, it seems to be more common to buy them in little bunches. And specific groups of numbers have specific meaning.
The most popular combinations are three for Happiness and five for Health. Other popular combinations include two for Love and Marriage and nine is considered a lucky number overall representing Good Fortune. Of course, there are other traditions for the bunching aspect, but those are the most common.
It wasn’t until I read up on Lucky Bamboo that I understood the significance of the five bunching Colleen gave to me. The most miraculous part was that from when I got the bamboo, and throughout the rest of my pregnancy, those little sticks burst with life.
It seemed like every day a new stem bud appeared. And you know what? It actually did made me feel calmer, despite not knowing the fate of my unborn baby. It was as if the little plant was saying, “Don’t worry, Chynna. You’re bursting with life too, and baby is fine. Take what energy you need from us to give you strength.”
Weird, I know. But when I finally got to bring Sophie home from the NICU, wouldn’t you know that little plant was big, leafy and beautiful. In fact, I moved it into Sophie’s room the day after I brought her home. And as she’s grown, gorgeous and healthy, the plant has too. I guess, in this case, my brown thumb was overpowered by the strength of the Lucky Bamboo. And Sophie’s Auntie Colleen who cared enough to share its calming powers with our family.

Why not balance the energies in your home with one of these mysterious miracle sticks? I’m still not sure I believe in lucky charms but I do believe in the powers of the Lucky Bamboo!  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Music Mantra Monday: Dumbo - A Beautiful Movie For Special Needs Kids



A few years ago, I posted this video after watching Dumbo with my oldest for the first time. She had just started the first steps in her Early Intervention therapy (a couple of years before her SPD therapy).

Like most kids do, and I believe it's mostly to torture their parents, she watched the video over and over. The scene above was one of her favorites, the next in line being when Dumbo learns to fly.

Upon viewing #586,000, give or take a few, I asked her, "I know you seem to really like this one, but wouldn't you like to watch something else?"

"Nope," she replied, her eyes glued to the screen.

"Can you tell Mama why you like it so much?"

"Yep."

Understanding that she needed  a lot more prompting back then to get information out, I added, "Well, go ahead and share with Mama. I really want to know because I really like it too. I like his smile and how nice he is to everyone."

Again, without allowing her eyes to leave the screen, she said, "I like his ears and his Mama and the mouse."

"Me too. What do you like about them?"

I gave up prompting because if you questioned her too much, she'd just shut down.

So I waited for her to respond. Then, when this scene came on, she whispered, "His ears make him sad. His Mama makes his sad stop. His Mama likes his ears. The mouse likes his ears." Then she shoved her head into my side, which was how she tolerated hugs.

I'll never forget that. Basically, she was saying that his ears made him different and he was made fun of that. The other animals didn't try to understand him, they just laughed at him and shunned him. All except the mouse and his Mama, who both loved him just the way he was.

My daughter was often made fun of and shunned for her reactions and her severe sensory sensitivities. But she had her Mama to make her sad stop, and her 'mouse' was her sister who always stood up for her.

Dumbo taught my daughter to feel better about being 'different'.

I wonder how Walt Disney would feel knowing that some of his movies had this impact. I'd be the first to thank him.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Mama's Muse: Guardian Angels

Well, I'm feeling a little nostalgic today being Easter.

This holiday was always a big deal for my family when I was younger, and it was the last holiday my grandmother was alive for.

This year will be the first that I don't have all my little munchkins with me as they celebrated over at their father's. It's all good. They still got to do our Easter egg hunt, and remember the true reasons we acknowledge this holiday.

I usually talk about Mommy-dom on our Mama's Muse, but I thought for today, I'd share a piece from my earlier writings. This is a soft review of the movie City of Angels, which I still hold as one of my favorite movies.

Feel free to share your thoughts...about the movie, your own Easter memories or a movie that has touched you in a similar way.

Have a wonderful rest of your day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve always loved the idea of guardian angels watching over us. Someone to help us up when we fall, to comfort us while we grieve, to guide us down the path we choose and to guide us back when we go off track. The movie, City of Angels, strengthened my belief in angels and gave me comfort during a very tough time.
My grandparents were the most important people in my life. So, their deaths were excruciating for me. I lost them both within two years of each other. My grandmother’s death, although upsetting, wasn’t a shock. She’d been fighting Alzheimer’s most of my life so I had been able to accept, and make peace with, her death long before it happened. When Grandma died, I was sad but I was comforted by the fact Grandpa was still there.
But a couple of years later, the worst happened.
Grandpa had a massive stroke. The worst part was that I had been out of town at the time then he’d passed away the day after I got back. I didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye. The way he died, without warning and so suddenly, took a part of me with him. My soul was lost, leaving me frozen in a fog for several years.
I moved to a different city to start fresh. I figured with new faces, new experiences, I’d be able to move past my grief. But it seemed I couldn’t get past my sadness no matter how many good things I surrounded myself with. Then one day, I went to the local dollar theatre to catch an afternoon Matinee.
I’ve always loved movies. They take you off to a different world, away from the ‘norm’, where you can forget about your own life for a bit. We can laugh, cry, or scare ourselves silly. Or, better still, they can kick you in the rear end with reality.
The dollar theatre showed movies no longer showing in regular theatres. It was the same as renting, only seeing them on the big screen the way you’re supposed to. That particular day, City Of Angels was playing. I shielded myself from knowing the ending so I’d enjoy it more.
I’m glad I did.
I never give spoilers but this movie was one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. There is no other word to describe it.
It’s just…beautiful.
I was carried away on a wave of emotions from the opening scene, to the end of the haunting song echoing through the tiny theater during the credits. When the lights came back on, I, along with every other person there, sat weeping uncontrollably. For me, it was the first time I’d allowed myself to cry since my grandparents had passed away.
I think I was meant to see that movie at that particular point in time. I also believe my grandparents, somehow, guided me to that theatre to hear the messages in City Of Angels.
Unconditional love is always with us even if we’re only able to experience it for a little while, or if it is taken away from us suddenly. It’s what gives us strength to get up and face another day. Most importantly, true love never dies, whether it’s a friend, relative, child or lover.
The most significant message I took away from the movie is a quote from Nicholas Cage’s character, which I wrote on a piece of paper and still keep in my wallet. When asked by another angel whether Cage regretted giving up what he did for Meg Ryan’s character he answered, “I would rather have had only one day with her…to feel her love…than to have lived a lifetime without it.”
Because of that movie, I finally allowed myself to grieve. I also learned that, maybe, it’s not such an outrageous idea to believe we have guardian angels watching over us.

I know I do.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Food For Thought: Falafel Burger recipe

I know, I know. It was our foodie day yesterday, and we are ignoring writing prompt for today. Sorry for the confusion but we started our Easter festivities already and we weren't able to get on here. We hope to make up for it with a yummy vegan recipe for falafel burgers. (For you carnivores out there...it really is yummy.)

There are several options out there for us vegans/vegetarians who still want to participate in the joys of burger eating. Boy, have things changed since I first started on the non-meat train. Now, you can buy soy, veggie or tempeh based-burgers that really aren't too bad. I always say, though, that homemade anything is better than pre-made, store-bought stuff. With summer coming, I thought I'd share a few wonderful BBQ and warm-weather recipes that will even have those meat-and-potato-type people in your life wanting to give it a go.

Since I'm the only one around here who eats these sorts of meals regularly, I usually end up making a batch of various meatless burgers then freeze them for future burger nights. This particular recipe freezes well, and you can eat them in a bun, wrap, pita or just crumbled up in a salad.

For the spices, I usually eyeball everything because I know how I like it to taste. But feel free to follow the measures until you figure out how you like it. Also, you can pan-fry or grill these, but I usually use the oven method.

Good luck with this one and feel free to share your own 'burger' recipes!

Happy eating.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Patties:
~ 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (You can also use ones you've soaked overnight and boiled. This just saves work)
~ 1 onion
~ 3 minced garlic cloves
~ 1/4 cup of fresh parsley (dried is good too, just use less)
~ 2 tablespoons tahini
~ 2 teaspoons cumin
~ 1 teaspoon coriander
~ 1/2 teaspoon salt
~ 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
~ 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
~ 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
~ 1 teaspoon baking powder
~ 1 cup bread crumbs

Falafel sauce:
~ 1 small container nondairy yogurt
~ 2 tablespoons tahini
~ 1/2 peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber
~ 2 teaspoons lemon juice
~ 1 teaspoon dill

**Preheat oven to 400**
Prepare the sauce first. Combine yogurt, tahini, cucumber, juice, dill and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. While it's chillin', make the burgers.

1) Pulse chickpeas with food processor until pasty. You could also use a masher for this step. Transfer peas to a mixing bowl.

2) Add the onion, parsley, tahini, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon/lime juice and baking powder, then slowly add the crumbs until everything sticks together (you may need to add more). Form into patties.

3) Place patties on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake them for about 10 to 12 minutes until the bottoms are golden, then flip them all over and cook for another 10 to 12 minutes. After that time, take them out and allow to cool.

Add your favorite bun and condiments.

Video trailer for BLACKBIRD FLIES!


Video Trailor for JUST SHUT UP and DRIVE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRr-vJ8W7YA