Monday, November 18, 2013

Author Interview and a Gratitude Contest

Let me introduce you to my talented friend, Lori Nawyn. I'm grateful for friends who inspire. You will certainly be touched by this heartfelt interview. Lori 'taught me the ropes' as a member of my first critique group. Meet Lori:

The wife of a fireman, mother of four, grandmother of four, and mentor to three opinionated dogs she's training for urban mushing, Lori enjoys running, hiking, kayaking, and reading, and growing tomatoes, peppers, and herbs for her fresh salsa.

2. What does gratitude mean to you?

Lori: To me gratitude means seeing with my heart; consciously seeking to understand the purpose in all I experience and determining to appreciate the wonderful times as well as the difficult and challenging times for the opportunities they afford me to learn and grow.

3. Eloquently said. Please name something you are grateful for.

Lori: I am most grateful for the examples of friends and family members who have taught me that the quality of our lives has everything to do with our attitude, not our material possessions or social status. In particular the example of my Grandma Esther is a beacon in my life. I recently wrote about her for one of my publishers (

4. I'm big on attitude myself. Great article, BTW. Tell me about the Gratitude Journal Project.

Lori: Three years ago, I was going through a very difficult time. It seemed the harder I worked, and the more success I attained, the more miserable I became. I realized I was trying to fill some deep voids left by my growing up years. I felt inferior in many ways, that I would never measure up or be of value. In my childhood, a trusted adult had often expressed to me that I should never have been born. I came to see how much, throughout my lifetime, I had subconsciously internalized that sentiment, and how to a frightening degree I had embraced it as truth.

A good deal of soul searching led me to see that I needed to consciously shift my focus away from feeling and acting like a victim. Indeed, I saw I was blessed: I had physically survived many circumstances that others had not. Following the example of my Grandma Esther and those I knew like her, I determined to find something to be grateful for in each day.

At the time, a couple of relationships in my life were unraveling. Betrayal and distrust left me feeling vulnerable and hurt. In addition, I needed to deal with emotions I had not processed when I lost both my grandparents (who were effectively my parents) in 2006, and the deaths of many close friends–several who had committed suicide. Every stress, worry and fear in my life seemed amplified. When my husband, a fireman, responded to emergency calls, I became obsessed with feelings of trepidation that he wouldn't return.  Often it would take much conscious effort to surmount emotional challenges and find the strength I needed to face each day.

I kept a spiral notebook–my gratitude journal–with me at all times. I wrote down anything and everything I could remotely think of to be thankful for. Sunlight, my own breathing, the bite of cold on my face on a snowy day, challenges that had reinforced my determination to do my best, the love of friends and family who I could trust, the power of love, the hope of healing. One day I focused on the tedium of household chores, the certainty of aging, and my fear of making mistakes (Renae, see attached) and came to understand that it was my privilege to choose happiness. Over weeks and months, writing down what I was thankful for became habit. I began to see my stress and worries lift. I felt happy and hopeful. The practice of gratitude has become a life-sustaining influence that I never want to lose sight of again. 

5. Wow! So glad you pulled through. This gives personal meaning to the effort in this book. Lori graciously shares one of the Gratitude Journal pages with us. How does it feel to be inspirational and give encouragement to others?

Lori: I meet those who tell me, "It must be so cool to see your name in print." Or, "It must be great to be famous." Really, what is wonderful about being an author and illustrator is the chance it gives me to share what I've learned with others and hopefully touch their hearts and lives for the better. Just last night a dear friend, a great-grandmother in her nineties, related to me how the book I recently illustrated (Love, Hugs, and Hope: When Scary Things Happen) has helped her. Her daughter died unexpectedly a few weeks ago. "I know you illustrated that book for children," she told me, "but I picked it up and went through all of it. I held it close to me. I embraced the message of hope." Hearing that meant more to me than words can express.

6. Can you leave a writing tip for us?

Lori: Don't give up! I used to think that if I couldn't turn out award-winning writing in the first draft I should quit. But writing is like painting. You do some sketches, you move things around, rearranging the composition. You put down some bold strokes of paint; you add subtle nuances, fine details. You work to find a pleasing balance of contrast and color that feels right to your heart, mind, and eye. It's the same with writing.

7. I'm grateful she didn't give up on me as a new writer! She has such a way with words and many wonderful books out. Please tell us what you are working on now and how to contact you.

Lori: Right now I'm working on compiling a book of pear recipes. I'm also writing a children's picture  book about my grandfather and rewriting a middle grade novel. In between I'm working on layouts for a line of gift books. 
Here is the brand new cover of her book coming out in January. So pretty!

Twitter: @LoriNawyn

Thank you, Lori. More warm thoughts: Enter to win this wall hanging. Contest ends November 22.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lori said...

Sincere thanks for asking me to be a guest on your blog, Renae! I'm excited to see your books in print. You're a talented writer!

All best with love and hugs,


Renae W. Mackley said...

Thank you and it was my pleasure hosting you today.

Kristina said...

There are very tender and personal emotions shared here, Lori. I appreciate knowing your struggles that have molded and strengthened you into the beautiful woman I see. I want be the kind of person that can turn trial into triumph!

L. Taggart said...

Thanks for sharing your inspiring experiences. I am trying to have a similar feel to my blog and live my life as positively as both you and Lori have.

kbrebes said...

My heart is touched by Lori's experience. Thanks for a wonderful interview!