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What the world needs now…



Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 | 1 comment

Words matter.

My words matter, your words matter–it’s important for us to steward well what we say and write, right?

A kind word of affirmation or a sharp word of discouragement can oppositely and exponentially change the course of our day–for the good, bad or downright ugly.  Let’s shoot for that first one as often as possible.

Bruised hearts take so long to heal, and sometimes that kind of hurt, while forgiven, just can’t be forgotten.

Word art is a trend in home décor and I find myself having to exercise restraint not to buy every piece I discover; many of my favorite artists mix words and images to complete their work–Curly Girl Design, Kelly Rae Roberts, Story People by Brian Andreas, and my long-time love, Mary Engelbreit.  So, I couldn’t have been more thrilled when DaySpring’s senior product manager requested permission to use some of my words for a line of art prints they were developing, fantastically enough, called Words Matter.  

Crazy Loved is the first of several you’ll eventually see bearing my name as author.  It’s practically like I’ve written a book (minus 80,000 words or so).

Crazy-Loved Art Print by Robin Dance for DaySpring

It’s a little thing that means a lot.

The words are taken from a post about giraffes (not really, but really); reading it will provide context for the above quote.

Go…buy one for yourself, your children, your co-workers and friends.  Sometimes we NEED this reminder.

There are 19 art prints in the shop now including inspiring words from sweet friends Kristen Strong, Arianne SegermanSarah Mae, Kristen WelchHolley Gerth and Lysa TerKeurst.  Oh, and God.  He’s got some prints there, too (check back often because more are coming.).

This is the first of two reasons I’m happy dancing today.  I cannot W A I T to tell you reason #2.

{I’m using affiliate links so I stand to earn squillions of dollars.  Or tens of cents.  <– One of those.}


Robin Heart Signature - Green





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How writing is EXACTLY like chasing frogs



Posted by on Feb 4, 2014 | 4 comments

Frogs on a log

I took a walk in the woods the other day, the kind of day when I wanted to kiss (rather than kick) the South’s mercurial weather.  Or is it everywhere you can have snow and 19 degrees on a Wednesday then mostly sunny and 75 on Sunday?

It must’ve felt good to everyone and everything because the forest of bare naked trees sounded like summer.  Frogs were screeching their happy little froggy hearts out like they had been bound and gagged for way too long and now they were finally free. I kinda felt like croaking, too.

Ours was a brisk pace, feet crunching gravel and confettied leaves, 50 shades of gray and brown.  The trees were little more than telephone poles with tentacles, but the sounds were harbinger of the spring that couldn’t arrive soon enough.

We got closer to the noise and I was certain there was a least one frog in the puddle over there, so I steered in his direction. I wanted to see the little creature who who could make such a big commotion.

That was enough to shut his mouth.  I stood silent and still, scanning his hiding spot the way you study a magic-eye picture, waiting for the image to sharpen into focus.  No matter how hard I tried, though, I couldn’t see him except in my mind. Funny, the image of a frog holding his breath–warty and determined and cheeks like balloons.

There were countless others like him, their squawk a dreadful but happy symphony, the forest, their theater in the round.  They were blissfully unaware of the giant who wanted to out them…until I got too close.  As soon as they sensed my presence, their croak would stop, too.

Frogs can be jerks like that.

It was then it hit me: chasing frogs is exactly like writing!


Inspiration will arrive out of nowhere, loud and proud and brilliant in my mind. (Usually when I’m driving, in the shower, or cursed with insomnia.)

But when I get home, towel off, wake up the next morning, poof!  Those marvelous thoughts and ideas mysteriously vanish!  Just like a hulking giant creeping on some defenseless little critter, there’s an imaginary force that scatters all those wonderful ideas. And no matter how determined I am to recapture them, the mere act of opening my laptop shushes my brain.

Ironic the analogy would give me something to write about.





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20 great (writerly/provocative/memorable) quotes by John Steinbeck



Posted by on Feb 27, 2013 |


He won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Nobel Prize for Literature and he authored 27 books.  Even if you haven't read them, you've heard of them–Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, The Winter of Our Discontent.

Ever the controversial figure with ties to Communism and books frequently banned, John Steinbeck's birthday is today, and were he still alive, he'd be a centenarian plus 11.  

His saddest words to me were among his last, reportedly penned to his doctor that he believed his biological life's end was final and complete; no afterlife of any sort.

Steinbeck had a lot of good things to say; in honor of his birthday I've compiled 20 of his most famous, memorable, provocative and/or writerly quotes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

To be alive at all is to have scars.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

There's more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

A man so painfully in love is capable of self-torture beyond belief.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

People like you to be something, preferably what they are.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

A man without words is a man without thought.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

You know how advice is – you only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyways.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I guess there are never enough books.

Your turn:  Got a favorite from my list?  One you think I should have included?  Do share in comments!

Disclosure:  Amazon affiliate book links used.

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Cinnamon: a (poetic) December abstraction



Posted by on Dec 10, 2012 | 3 comments


Burnished talc, I'd mistake it for cocoa if not for its scent,
tell-tale and irresistible

Pied Piper, spice-song filling the air, in anticipation they follow invisible tether, a chorus of "Mmmm, that smells good!",
their love-song back

Redolent intoxication, breathing in present, exhaling the past

The taste of Mama's love, the feel of home

A portkey to childhood, stirring memories spicy but sweet. 


Shyly, I'm joining my brilliant writer-friend, Amber, as she invites others to join her in "using the concrete to speak of the abstract."  This week's prompt is "cinnamon."

Years ago, in one of those streaks when I fancied myself a poet, I invented a poetic form:  a Pensieve (brief explanation below but this explains more).  I haven't written much poetry lately, save the occasional haiku, but I still love the premise of a Pensieve.  It's challenging (at least for me) to attach all the senses to a subject, but by the time you finish, you've looked at something through a myriad of lenses, and maybe for the first time, have seen a different point of view or a more complete picture (when you didn't even realize one was lacking).

I was planning to write about the cinnamon ornaments my children made when they were littles, but I haven't yet found them as I sift through the mess my babies made when they "helped" me last year by putting away all of our Christmas stuff. I needed to see the ornaments again for inspiration….

 * * * * * * *

What is a Pensieve poem?  A titled, five-line poem; each line correlates to one of the five senses–sight, sound, scent, taste, touch–and describes the subject (title).  The goal is for the reader to take on the poem as his own, being able to "experience" your subject through your words, by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling what you described.

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Fifty, Failure and Buckets



Posted by on Jun 22, 2012 | 12 comments

What would you do if you knew
you could not fail?

~ Robert Schuller


Man paragliding

March, 2012, near Erlangen, Bavaria (Germany). Soaring on blue skies and skipping on clouds.


Seriously, WHAT would you do if you knew you could not fail?  

At the top of my list you'd find paragliding, sky diving and hang gliding, all related to my fear of tumbling through space to a painful death  mangled limbs and paralysis for life heights.  This is one of those things I'd change about myself if change was as simple as willing it or wishing on stars.  

But it's not.  Sometimes I'm a fraidy cat.

A question I often ask when making important life decisions is

Do the advantages outweigh the risk?

It helps clarify perspective.  It forces me to consider potential benefit and satisfaction versus cost and consequence.

My 50th birthday is next year.

I think that's the first time I've written it…and though I've said it many times since my 49th, it feels strange clicking off my fingertips, seeing it in writing.

It seems important at this season in life to ask that question–What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail?  

On one hand I like the question; it compels you to DREAM BIG.  But I think I prefer a different question:  What will I regret not trying at the end of my life?

I'm working on a "50 Things for my 50th Birthday Celebration" bucket list; not necessarily to do before or while I'm 50, but 50 things that demand me to step outside my comfort zone, learn something new, challenge curiosity and convention, live more simply, see with new eyes.  Take risks. 

Will you lend me your imagination?  

I'd love to hear your suggestions for my bucket list; I know your creativity will ignite my own (especially if you already have a Life List with ideas).  If you're a blogger who's published a bucket list feel free to link the post in comments, too.

And I'd love for you to answer either question:

  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?  
  • What will you regret not trying at the end of your life?

No pressure to share your answers out loud…but I think it's a wonderful exercise to consider the possibilities.

 :::: ::::

5-minute-friday-1Written in response to Lisa Jo's Five Minute Friday writing prompt, "Risk," but I exceeded the time limit!  Once I began writing I wanted to finish the thought.  

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I had NO idea just how exciting this could be…how excited I would be!



Posted by on Jun 5, 2012 | 9 comments

Mother of Pearl cover ~ Luminous lessons and iridescent faithLast fall I was contacted about contributing an essay for a collaborative print book project; everything about it seemed perfect:

  • I've highly regarded the publisher almost as long as I could read (an arm of Guideposts).
  • Through this Inspiring Voices project, author Margaret McSweeney compiled over 50 WONDERFUL essays related to motherhood from a diverse group of veteran and new authors.
  • And what maybe thrilled me more than anything else, all proceeds from book sales was to help struggling women and children in true need:  
    • WINGS:  to help fund a safe house in the Chicago suburbs, where mothers and their children can flee from domestic violence; and
    •  Hands of Hope: to help build wells for school children in Uganda

Legacies, lessons and love were the over-arching themes of the collaboration, and, not only did I know I had to say yes, I knew exactly what I was going to write about–something that encompassed all three!

Mother of Pearl Table of Contents  Mother of Pearl-Author Robin Dance

Eight months later I received my copy today…and I'm downright giddy with the end result!!  Smack dab in the center of the book, pages 80-82 to be exact, you'll find my essay.  

Is it a big surprise its title is A Princess Tale

A Princess Tale by Robin Dance

As delighted as I am with a single chapter, I cannot image the joy and sense of accomplishment of writing and publishing an entire book!  Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith would make a lovely gift for the mother, daughter, grandmommy or special lady in your life, and serve as a lovely mama-encouragement for you!  And proceeds from your purchase will make a difference in the lives of sweet mamas and children you'll likely never get to meet but who are grateful for strangers who care.

A little bonus I didn't expect was to see my sweet friend and Very Accomplished Grown-up Writer, Holley Gerth, with an acknowledgement on the front page.  That made all this tripley sweet.  

This seems to be a theme, too, with projects I've joined the past several months; both collaborative and related to motherhood. Before this Mother of Pearl project there was the beautifully written collaboration with another group–you might remember it:  The Mother Letters (grab that one for a steal!), brainchild of Seth and Amber Haines.

Sincere thanks to Amy Lathrop for seeking me out and connecting me with Margaret.  I'll be forever grateful to her for this beautiful milestone.  

(In case you'd like to purchase the book, I've included my Amazon affiliate link below.)

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