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Alisa Murray’s Living the Sweet Life | Expressing Gratefulness | April 2017

April Sweet Life 2017

Expressing Gratefulness

Lent comes each year and I spend those weeks, as so many of us do, fasting from some things that I like coupled with reflecting on my life; contemplating what I can improve both spiritually and physically. After all of that time in a reflective state, my mind looks joyfully towards a time to celebrate with friends and family. Friends and family are never far from my mind as each day I try more and more to let those that I love know what they mean to me. Call it getting older, becoming more aware of my own mortality or just getting old with age and becoming more nice… having a strong sense of gratitude and being capable of showing it is a sign of maturity that I quite like actually.

I wear a leather cuff almost everyday that says simply “Be Grateful.” I came across it in a little boutique and many of my friends have commented that they liked it. I wear it to continuously remind me to be mindful and aware of what it is that I do have and not to dwell on the things that I do not. Sometimes this works and other times when things are just not clicking in the directions I want them to be going I look down at that leather cuff and want to stomp my foot and pull it off! That little voice though in my crazy head stops me and after a few deep breaths and in just a few days or even an hour or so of just being ornery I come back around. We all, you see, should wear an invisible bracelet reminding us to be grateful!

There are several ways that I have found to express gratitude, some are easier to do than others of course, but we all should implement them into our lives so that we are enriched and reminded form time to time of what we all do have. Lives well lived are with rich relationships and not “stuff!” Firstly, each week I make it a point to write a thank you note. It might be for a lovely towel that is brought in a hostess welcome or for an unexpected gift from an old dear friend. It might be for a loving spouse that decided to make tea and breakfast and let a certain someone you know sleep in a few extra hours! Either way I write them and truthfully I write them as much for me as I do for the recipients!

I feel another way to show someone gratitude for them being in your life is to give meaningful gifts.. you know stuff that you know suits that person, not a generic whatever that you randomly picked up! When the holidays came last year we were visiting family after having not been at Christmas in over 19 years! The family members wanted to draw names and then proceeded to tell all of us to buy each other gift cards, which was a fairly stupid idea if you had asked me. I ended up not only buying them a gift card, because they is what they asked for, but I had made for each of them a monogramed leather clutch. That way each of them had something personalized and lasting from just us. That is truly being thoughtful, and shows that you are mindful of their likes and have taken the time, which by the way is also very valuable, to go out of your way to make sure a gift selected for them is actually for just them!

Another way that I show my clients, who are my friends, that I appreciate them is through hugging them. Touch is the first sense we acquire and it is an important act that builds relationships. Listening to a friend without casting opinion, being the first to say your are sorry, and offering to help with a project or a new move or with shopping…all of these are small ways we can show gratitude towards others.

Whether you are randomly smiling at a stranger, writing a letter of thanks or hugging an old friend; all of these acts are a display of being grateful. Gratitude is something that is taught and learned and as we age; it is more valued in our relationships. It is a symbol for me of graciousness that I am proud to be well versed in. The best part about having gratitude is that it is two-fold. The more we show others how much we care and appreciate them; the more thankful we become of our own lives and the less we long for more “stuff!”
Take Care of YOU!
🙂

Houston Award winning Columnist | Alisa Murray’s “Living the Sweet Life” | April 2016| #alisamurray

Living the Sweet Life : Being unknownMindful of the Greatness

It’s that time of the year when we all are ready for the cold to dissipate and for the flowers to bloom. It’s GREATNESS time too. If your like me you found yourself last year reflecting and wondering “where did the year go?” Sometimes when life starts to happen we let ourselves just go with the flow instead of purposefully positioning ourselves for great things. Now is the time to make sure to access those resolutions and tweak if necessary so you don’t look up and find another year has flown by and you lived mindlessly instead of mindfully.

Let’s think about that for a minute. One of the most important things we have is time. People who are older and wiser often look back over their lives and wish for what? Time. I think it’s human nature to want to rush and get ahead but truthfully as I get older I realize that God intends GREATNESS for all of us and much of that is given through living mindfully and not blindly. So I vowed to not be so rushed. I vowed to spend time wasting time. For me that really means spending time doing nothing because I am such a planned and scheduled person to think of not doing something feels like I am wasting time. I am of course doing the exact opposite of such but it feels that way nonetheless.

What can we all do to make 2016 remarkable…and savor the little moments? Stop. Yep… pretty simple to say but as they say “Oh so difficult to actually do!” One thing that you can do is go through your calendar and block off a day a week or a day a month for just you. Make it an afternoon trip to the park or a day trip to somewhere close by like the sea. Take a picnic and not go to a restaurant (sorry guys…it’s part of the experience). Mainly plan to just “BE.”

An interesting thing will happen as you do these things. You will become enlightened as to what the most important things are in your life. You will recognize people in your life that are rare jewels and want nothing more that your very best happiness and you will also find those that are pretending. You will feel pulled closer to the Holy Spirit (insert divine power for those of my non-Christian friends) and you will be told your GREATNESS. Listen. Obey.

Spring is coming and flowers are beginning to wake up and shine. Through the years in our lives; we are given opportunities to grow and other years opportunities to reflect. Last year I was in a reflection year and with each life event that occurred I became ever more reminded of how precious time is. I was dormant and waiting. This year with renewed purpose I am mindfully savoring my moments and blossoming as an artist, mother, wife, and friend. It takes conscious effort to wait for it…. to then recognize it…. and at last to succumb to God’s GREATNESS for our lives.

Take Care of YOU!

Living the Sweet Life: March is National Reading Month

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What’s on your nightside table? I have several books all the time that I am working on. Right now it’s Eve by WM.Paul Young, Euphoria by Lily King and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I have always loved books and reading because it is fun but bottom line it makes you smarter!
March is National Reading Month and it’s important to not only grab a great book and READ but to also share those great works that have moved us with others so they can experience it for themselves too.
Today the book industry has changed so much as we go towards a more digital world there’s been talk of a day where library’s are shut down and book stores are a thing of the past. I sure hope not! One positive thing that has really changed in the publishing world is the ability for anyone to write and publish a book. With solid content and a few clicks you can be an author and offer free e-books and print on demand. With that said, I have had a lot of friends that have done just that. Rick Gillis has published five books with is latest Promote! Likewise Minerva Perez and Damali Keith both well known faces in our homes for years, have taken their talents as journalists to write books and share their experiences. Minerva’s I’ve got a story has been so successful that as she signs and tours currently she is working on a second body of work entitled MORE STORIES. Damali’s A Great Day to Live is a wild journey through domestic abuse and raises awareness to a problem often overlooked and left to fix itself. Too often women die at the hands of those they think love them.
It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that years ago I hired an agent and actually sent out countless query’s pitching a children’s book collection and a cartoon series. Both are still neatly compiled in my drawers unpublished as I don’t take rejection very well and wasn’t willing to self publish because the industry was so sketchy. Today though things are very different. I have been working on several books for a while now and the first will come out this fall. I’ll go ahead and answer the question what’s the title? with a resounding and confident “I’m not sure yet.” When I asked Damali Keith about the title of her next book she smiled and said Accepting Her Life. Both Rick and Minerva… same thing. Not me though I am winding through some pretty traumatic stuff of my childhood writing those pages and like peeling back an onion and traveling through layers of my life, I know it will come to me. I can only liken it to those new parents that come see me for their maternity portraits and I ask them “what are you naming the baby?” Some know immediately and others contemplate and say things like “we are waiting to meet him or her.” I know like birthing a baby (which by the way is what this is starting to feel like), a title will come in time.
It’s exciting that all of us are now in an age where we all can be an author. Each of us has stories to tell and some have dreams that one day they could have careers like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Like David Sedaris, who by they way is one of if not my favorite along with Fannie Flagg, those books coming out of us all are little pieces of our souls. What makes for great reading is when writers are passionate about what they are trying to say. I hope that each of you will find a great book for your nightside table this month (I’ve given you several in this column!) and if the idea of becoming an author has ever been a fleeting fantasy; that this month you’ll not only be reading but you’ll start writing too!

Take Care of YOU!
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Are you wanting be a published writer? What are your stories? What great books have you read that you think others should as well?
Email me at: alisamurray@yahoo.com

Award winning Columnist and Photographer | Alisa Murray’s Living The Sweet Life Celebrating a Very Happy 10th Birthday! November 2015

Award Winning Photographer Alisa Murray Houston Texas

Ten years ago Micheal Fredrickson called me after I wrote about creating artistic spaces for children for one of his other publications and stated very matter of factly “ Alisa, you are a writer!” I laughed at him and said “well…I graduated with honors from University of Houston!” He then asked me if I would write a column monthly and said I could write whatever I wa
nted and he wanted me to accompany it with one of my photographs… the rest is history. I named the column “Living the Sweet Life” in November of 2006. The first column was a picture of my daughter, then a little girl, making chocolate chip cookies.

Over the years I have written about many different subjects such as God Winks, Magical Moments, Love, Being Kind, Happiness, and Family to name a few. I have paid tribute to my friends who I featured in ten years worth of Hope and Inspiration, breast cancer calendars, farewell’s to children who were featured in my Small Miracles Childhood cancer calendars and even to family members gone from us in body but never in spirit. There’s not many topics that I haven’t covered over these ten years. Sometimes I was not too sweet about things either. My column has been a place that for me I have shared some of my deepest thoughts and life’s experiences. There in all that writing is a window into my own soul. It has been a wonderful platform to give my readers a piece of my mind from time to time and share both my joys and my sorrows as we all are going through our own sweet lives together!

There’s been too many times to count instances that strangers have stopped me, church friends have patted my shoulder… all of them telling me they really appreciated me writing about this or that. My family has, enjoyed growing up and being a part of this column as well, especially the grandparents and the children. One time a sweet old lady called me and she said “she was down and depressed and I had the wisdom of an old soul and reading my column had brought her out of her depression.” If one called I have often wondered over these years how many more have felt better after reading me. I hope quite a few.

So the saying that “Time flies when you’re having fun” couldn’t be more appropriate for this month’s sweet life. I want to thank you for reading me and being a part of my life and allowing me to be a part of yours. It has been fun and I have loved every minute of it! If you missed some over the past ten years you can find it all at www.alisamurrayslivingthesweetlife.com.

Take Care of YOU!
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I have already texted Patti about the photography fpr this … ya’ll prob want to go through the archives and make a collage of some of the pictures over the past ten years

Living the Sweetlife : A Beautiful Responsibility

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 I really like wearing a cape (figuratively speaking of course!) and given the opportunity to be a super hero at anytime in my life has, and I am sure will continue to be, ideal. Now, my time has come! Many already know that as the children have grown in my family client base they have attached the name “Auntie A” to refer to me. It is a name of endearment and through it I have a furthered sense of belonging to a great extended family. I rather love that a small child would name me and want to share their thoughts and greater still as a teen actually listen. This has been a long journey in the making.
I can argue because I am old enough now to win the argument that although children need us to rear them at all ages it is imperative that they have an adult that they confide in during the teen years. These special years are the most difficult to navigate because of puberty and now with what I call the “Social Situation” just plain scary. Teaching them what to do and to not do is an enormous task and a beautiful responsibility.
I try, to be hip and not seem like an old foddy doddy. That is probably why I know a lot about what all my children are doing and questions they have usually get asked openly on a multitude of subjects. Even so I am not stupid enough to think for a minute they are not doing what children do which is test limits and try things on for size. Parenting is different at every age and stage but being trusted and confided in takes time. Through my talks with teens, I came to realize that many do not understand the importance of manners and the future impact of their social behaviors. It might surprise you that most teens do not know how to balance a check book, or understand that all their texts will come back to haunt them. Deep down each of them  are looking for solid advice, just not from their parents, that they can make sense of their world and tough decisions.
Recently I did a little research to see if I could at all find a place that teens could go to learn about what to do and not do and ask questions about stuff. I found a bunch of etiquette about businesses. I, of course also found all the old stuff about setting a table but what to do when you are being bullied? What to do when someone is pressuring you to do something you do not want to do? Those subjects were next to impossible to find advice and solid facts in an interesting and relatable way. With our lives increasingly influenced by the “social situation” it is surprising that this  not taught in our schools. And all at once, I caught a glimpse of my cape.
Over the past several months even years I have been transforming into the superhero that I have always know I could be…should be. With the encouragement of my daughter and agent I have developed a show called “Auntie A Says.” It airs on my Youtube channel by the same name and I have developed a weekly episode with a years worth of content for our youth. I am excited to tell you right from wrong in a world that has all but forgotten basic etiquette. I feel like I have transformed fully into the name given to me by our children. Mostly, I hope that I will be able to influence  vasts more through social media to make their world a better place.
Take Care of YOU!