Nov 28, 2015

Fun ways to be thankful

I like to think of ways to make November all about being thankful and helping my kids even thought they are young to think about behind thankful too. So I am sharing some of the fun things I try to do to keep thankfulness the theme for November at our house. If you like any of theses feel free to give them a try, they would be good for some older kids too!
1. Make a paper turkey and write things we are thankful for on the feathers. You could do this in one night or slowly add feathers throughout the month.
2. Thankful tree same basic idea as the turkey but with leaves on the tree instead of feathers on the turkey.
3. Take up the challenge of sharing on social media something you are thankful for everyday of November.
4. Start a gratitude journal.
5. Play the I am thankful for… game. Kind of like I spy with my little eye.
etc. Theses are just some of the fun ways we have tried keeping the spirit of thanksgiving all month long. What else have you all tried?

Nov 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

by Kari Diane Pike

Gratitude - Dictionary definition: "the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness." 

"Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we are more likely to be happy and spiritually strong. We should regularly express our gratitude to God for the blessings He gives us and to others for the kind acts they do for us" ( 

Gratitude is more than saying thank you. Gratitude requires me to be humble, to notice things, and to be patient. Gratitude shows me how to appreciate each moment and live in the present. Gratitude reminds me to never take anyone for granted. Gratitude motivates me to look for ways to serve and lift others. Gratitude brings me closer to the Lord. 

Gratitude gives me the strength I need to get through the hard times and reminds me from whom all blessings flow all of the time. My gratitude list could fill volumes. Today I want to say how grateful I am for you - the person reading this blog - yes, YOU! You are phenomenal. I hope you know that. There's no one else just like you. You were created to be where you are at this specific time for a particular reason. Thank you for being who you are and for touching my life. I am better because you are here. 
Happy Thanksgiving.
Life is magnificent.

Nov 24, 2015

Helpful Writing Blogs

by Marsha Ward

I believe in life-long learning. Most of my learning, of necessity, deals with writing and the skills I need to forward my indie writing and publishing career.

I read a lot of helpful writing blogs so that I can learn new things. Then I  gauge how or whether to adopt them into my life.

One of the most useful sites for me is The Passive Voice, an aggregated blog with partial articles and links to the complete articles. The host of the site is an attorney with an interest in authors, self-publishing, and traditional publishing.

Sometimes I will link to a suggested article and start delving into other articles on the site. That is how I found this post by author Toby Neal about writing a multi-book love story in any genre. Since I face challenges in writing a saga involving my fictional Owen Family, I thought I should have a look. I came away enlightened.

When I find a blog that offers sound advice, I usually subscribe to it so a heads-up on new posts will arrive in my inbox. I finally decided reading through emails was better than trying to chase down each and every blog by finding my bookmark for it. If I'm on the wrong computer, I might be out of luck.

Some of the blogs I follow are listed on this page at my blog under Indie Writer Resources. I have a couple more I need to add, though, such as Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog, which I read every Thursday for her Business Musings. I usually focus on the Monday post at The Write Conversation, as it contains tips about effective blogging.

Go ahead, click on the page at my blog and try out a couple of new sites to increase your writing and/or business knowledge.

Then come back here and let us know what you learned in the comments.

Nov 21, 2015

Books That Help Me Write

by Cindy R. Williams

If your a writer, you have books on your shelf about writing. Some may be crisp and almost new, covered with a light layer of dust, others may be dog-eared and marked with tons of post-its.

Here are some books, just some--or this blog would be tooooooooo long--that I have on my shelf for reference.

Beginning Writer's Answer Book, edited by Jane Friedman.  The entire book is a list of questions about writing, followed by answers. Good stuff, here.

Thanks, But This Isn't For Us, A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected, by Jessica Page Morrell  To quote the book, "This book . . . written by a Demon of Harsh Reality and meant as a hefty dose of reality along with encouragement to keep trying, to keep learning. Because writing is a craft and it can be learned." It is just that. It tells it like it is, and sometimes a bit crudely.

Writing Tools--50 Essential Strategies For Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark. This book has sections like NUTS AND BOLTS, with chapters like;  Begin sentences with subjects and verbs, Order words for emphasis, Activate your verbs, Be passive-aggressive, Watch those adverbs. Take it easy on the -ings, Feat not the long sentence, Cut big, then small.  It is a great study.

I saved my favorite, well worn book on writing, for last.  Stephen King On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft. Whether your a Stephen King fan or not, he knows how to tell a compelling story on paper that translates to the big screen. I had heard about the book from a number of accomplished writers so decided I better buy it. It lives up to its reputation. He shares his writing journey and knowledge with forthright honesty. Yes, he has a bit of challenge thinking of words to replace swear words, but the book is a goldmine in what works. Even the picture on the front cover gives me hope. You see Stephen King, writing by hand, rocking back in a rolling chair, feet on his desk, dog under his legs, papers, reference books, notebooks and memorabilia scattered all around. A wall with various clippings and pictures etc. The picture alone tells so much. He has a dedicated writing space. He must spend a great amount of time there if his dog likes to lay there. You can tell he has is deep in thought, and working hard in-spite of his lounging position. For an author as famous as he is, his writing place is normal. For an author as successful as he is, he still puts in the long hours.

Nov 19, 2015

Coming Together in the Midst of Disaster

It's been a crazy couple of weeks over here in Spokane, Washington.  And I'm sure some of it has trickled down through much of Washington and Idaho.

We had a major wind storm on Tuesdays, which resulted in more than 180,000 homes being without power.  Even now, more than two days later, around 100,000 people are still without electricity.  My husband, an employee for the utility company, came home this evening after working a 36-hour shift.  He was nearly comatose with exhaustion.  He told me of 200-foot trees with trunks too large for him to hug falling over, splitting homes in half. He spoke of streets where nearly a dozen power-poles were decimated, splintering into millions of pieces, leaving power lines strewn across lawns, cars, and debris-filled yards.  The linemen scrambled to keep people away from live wires while installing new poles, clearing streets, and repairing millions upon millions of dollars in damage.

While my husband was on task helping to fix the immediate needs of the community, I decided to roll up my sleeves and work on the individuals.  I was one of the lucky ones who witnessed her lights flickering only once, and lost a single shingle off her roof. My neighbor across the street lost nearly half his shingles, another 2 blocks down had a 100 year-old pine tree rupture half-way up the trunk and topple onto the street. Every single one of our schools lost power.  Entire sections of town were pitch-dark and eerily quiet.

I washed all the sheets on all our beds, ran to the store bright and early to stock our shelves for extra mouths to feed, filled the Suburban with gas to drive around town, then called my Relief Society President, the Bishop, and one of our Elders Quorum Presidency to see who needed help.

Next I got onto Facebook, messaged several friends, called nearby family, visited my neighbors, and texted anyone else I could think of.

I'd like to say that I was able to help dozens of families by offering them a warm place to stay, and a home-cooked meal.  I wish I could tell tales of wonderful deeds I'd done to touch the lives of those temporarily in need. But you know what? I do not have a single story to tell.  Instead, I can say I tried.  I was willing to help, but apparently 7:00 am the day after a storm is too long to wait.  Not a single person needed a warm place to stay.  They already had arrangements made, or were prepared in their own way.  No one needed a home cooked meal, or someplace to bring their kiddos to stave off boredom.

Our area was good. I was not the only person to chip in and offer assistance.  Our ward members all pitched in, called everyone on their home teaching and visiting teaching lists to make sure each family was cared for.

Although I do not have any heart-tugging humanitarian stories to announce, I am happy to report that there are also no heart-wrenching stories of people forgotten, or left to freeze and starve.

It warms my heart to see us come together in the midst of chaos, and to care for those who need it. All too often we read of the tragedies that befall us or of the evil of those around us.  But today I offer up happiness and relief.  Maybe last week's lesson on caring for the poor an needy was heeded after all.  Well done, Spokanites.

Nov 17, 2015

Is there a third alternative?

by Terri Wagner

Like everyone, I was appalled, horrified, and angry at what happened in Paris. For some reason I was especially bothered by the poor wheelchair victims. I have read several eye witness accounts of how they felt so powerless.

As information comes out, it seems at least one or two [of the terrorists] were pretend refugees, and one was, as they term it, a "home grown" terrorist.

I remember some years ago a documentary on France's growing Muslim population. One scene showed a major road where they gathered to pray, thus blocking all traffic, and there were places where the police did not bother to come. Apparently Sharia law was administered and French officials looked the other way.

Now it's our turn. Do we take in the refugees or do we protect our home? Will we be Paris in just a few years or even less time? Can the president force a governor to take in the refugees? How have other refugees worked out here? I also remember a documentary on a place in Tennessee where a group of Somalian refugees were placed. It has not worked out well. The Somalians are not fitting in or trying to, and the natives were getting restless. Could that happen again?

The First Presidency has asked us to assist the humanitarian crisis going on. And there is a crisis. So what do we do? Open our doors? I just keep wondering about what Stephen Covey always said, there is usually always a third alternative. So what would it be here? How can we both protect our home and yet reach out to help others? Would a history lesson help? What would history tell us about this area of the world other than Syrians have been around since Moses. It is really stretching my brain to come up with an equitable situation. Any ideas out there?

Nov 14, 2015

Continued learning

by Cassie Shiels

Our ANWA sister, Carol Anne Olsen Malone, posted an article the other day that changed how I see stories and movies. It was one of those things where you went "Oh" and now everything is different. I am writing differently, reading differently and looking at movies differently. Here is the article in case you want to check it out too.

There were a lot of great points in this article but the one that really has sat with me and changed me in the world of storytelling is the Yes/but as well as the No/and point. I find myself evaluating a scene and looking for it to be a yes/but or a no/and event. Of course every scene can't be this way but its starting to be super fun looking for the pattern. I am also trying to put these into my own writing and it is making a change for the good.

So the point to all of this is continue learning. Like a lot of us, I don't have all the money in the world to attend all the classes and conferences that I want, but sometimes a book or even a short article can truly improve our writing. So look for it where you can. I know that some things hit people differently. I have read many articles and I think good points but that's it. Those are good reminders but sometimes we get to read something that changes us forever more.

Tiny tidbits can increase our learning and improve our writing, so if you can't make it to a class or conference don't fret about not being able to learn the craft. There are other ways to learn.

Nov 12, 2015

Something to Write About

by Kari Diane Pike

I'm standing in our walk-in closet staring at the overflowing racks of clothes and I catch myself thinking: I have absolutely nothing to wear

My sapphire blue blouse is too dressy. The mint green top with the gray stripes is too summery for the recent cooler temperatures. My favorite go-to white, button down shirt is missing a button - and it needs ironing. Plus, I think the dryer is shrinking the rest of my clothes, because, what other reason could there be for them being so tight lately? 

Actually, I've really been sitting in front of my computer (in my comfy yoga pants and a tee shirt) for the past four hours, trying on idea after idea, searching for something to blog about today. Thoughts and ideas pop in and out of my brain, only to be flung across the room in frustration because, while they have some reason for taking up storage space in my overcrowded brain, they are missing something, or they don't fit the purpose of this blog (Insert picture here of piles of crumpled papers strewn across the floor, a roomful of regurgitating file cabinets and me pounding my head on the desk). I have absolutely nothing to write about. 

I even perused old journal entries looking for inspiration. I found stuff like this: 
July 25, 1977
It was really warm today - as usual about 105 degrees. I spent all morning cleaning the fridge and scrubbing the stove for Mom. Tommy [last name withheld to protect the guilty] came over so we were amid bedlam all day. We went swimming for awhile. I gave myself a manicure and it was my turn to give the family home evening lesson. We went to the Skone Shop for dinner and wandered around Metro Center. I also saw a poster that said: "You have to kiss a lot of toads before you find your Prince!" I often wonder where I am going to meet my eternal companion. And I hope I am ready for him when we do meet. 
 July 26, 1977
Today I spent in the kitchen once again. I made dinner and a couple of blueberry pies for Dad. Dad took me shopping for things for the Mexico trip tomorrow. I got everything except film - but don't I always remember to forget something? 
I was seventeen. I had  just graduated from high school. The previous summer a young man I met in Toulon, France proposed marriage to me. He was from Paris. I hadn't even been on a real date, but I felt so grown up and so in love with love. 

Fast forward thirty-eight years, one husband (I managed to find my prince without kissing any toads), nine children, nineteen grandchildren, twenty-something moves in four different states and nearly as many jobs as moves. My kids will tell you that they can keep track of events in our family not only by what house we lived in at the time, but by my "hobby-of-the-month." You know...the quilting phase, canning phase, let's make fake meat out of (horror) gluten phase, cross stitching, gardening, and the let's learn how to live off the grid phase. More and more often I catch myself repeating stories and saying the words I swore up and down I would never say: Well, you know, when I was your age..."

I can honestly say that one interest that has always remained a constant is writing. Most of my writing time as of late is spent studying and preparing lessons for early morning seminary. I love digging through the Old Testament and discovering those treasures of testimony of the Savior and His Atonement. Did you know that the word "Atonement" appears more times in the book of Leviticus than anywhere else in the scriptures? I found that fascinating. But what about you, the reader? When you visit this blog, what are you hoping to find?

I realize that my personal journals will be of no interest to anyone but a handful of my descendants, but I hope the things I share help someone else in their life's journey. I love "likening" the scriptures to my own life. I adore watching the faces of my seminary students when I ask them "What does [name an incident in the Old Testament] that happened over 4000 years ago have to do with what is happening in your life today?" Then I encourage them to write their thoughts down. The more they do, the more thoughts that will come. 

The scriptures are replete with examples of how the Lord instructs His servants and helps them in their journey. The book of Exodus tells us how the Lord prepared the way for the children of Israel to cross the Red Sea and journey across the desert. In 1 Nephi 17 of the Book of Mormon, Nephi is instructed how to build a ship not "after the manner of men," but after the manner the Lord had shown him, that would carry his family to the promised land. The book of Ether explains how the brother of Jared and his brethren built their barges "according to the instructions of the Lord." And the Lord brought them out of the depths of the sea and protected them as they passed through the waves and the wind and the floods. He gave them a source of light and because the brother of Jared had faith and obeyed so willingly, he was given knowledge of the Savior and saw Him face to face.

While studying Exodus 25 - 27  I thought about our temples today and the exactness with which they are built - the workmanship and placement of every detail, even down to the way the light fixtures are lined up and where the chairs are placed. Those things matter because the Lord gave directions and expects His servants to "make a sanctuary that [the Lord] may dwell among them." The Lord asked for the children of Israel to "bring me an offering; of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart..." The Lord asks me today to offer Him my willing heart - my broken heart and contrite spirit. I made covenants in the temple of my own free will and choice. In the temple, I receive instruction about how to live my life - how to construct my life, if you will, after the manner that will safely carry me through this mortal journey and back into His presence. 

Maybe I do have something to write about. 

Life is magnificent!

Nov 10, 2015

Outline Characters that Sizzle

by Marsha Ward

When I first started writing fiction, one of my favorite authors to read was Robert Newton Peck, who writes both for young people and adults. His characters are always so vivid, so alive, so sizzling! Some are the unforgettable Soup, in the book series with that character in the titles, and the father in a Day No Pigs Would Die.

Peck has also written several books on the writing process. If you can find Fiction is Folks, and Secrets of Successful Fiction, I highly recommend them. They are out of print, but still available from third-party sellers on Amazon.

Peck suggests that before you sit down to begin your short story or to write Chapter One of your novel, you first do homework on your characters, getting to know them inside and out.

His sage advice helped me develop characters that readers care about, so I'm passing it along. Here are Robert Newton Peck's suggestions for outlining a character.

Start with Character A, and answer these questions about him or her on a blank sheet of paper:
  1. What's his or her name?
  2. Where was he born and raised?
  3. What is her religion and ethnicity?
  4. Briefly describe him: fat, thin, tall, short, muscular, flabby, gray, bald?
  5. What does she believe in?
  6. Where has he failed or triumphed?
  7. Is she married, single, divorced, or shy?
  8. Most important of all, what kind of work does he do? And then, is he happy or discontented with it?
  9. What are her hobbies? Sports? TV?
  10. Is he neat or is he a slob? To establish this on paper, describe his desk, his closet, a drawer of his desk and the trunk of his car.
  11. Can your mind picture him making something? Using a simple tool, perhaps, to shape the hull of a model clipper ship?
  12. How do his hands behave? Relate them to tangible things that surround him.
  13. Is she musical? Is there one special instrument that she plays well or badly? Does she play it alone, for herself, or can she jam it up for an audience of friends or strangers?
  14. What was his school and schooling like? Who was the teacher he respected, and why?
  15. What are the events, items, pets, pals that she remembers for years?
  16. Other than memories, what are the tangible trinkets he saves and treasures from his past?
  17. Is she witty? If so, you cannot tell your reader that she is. Instead, you must let your dialogue show a reader exactly the witty remarks she makes.
  18. How does he drive his car, tie his tie, gargle? Does he pick his nose, cough often, snore?
  19. Read the editorial page of your newspaper and choose which opinions she agrees with or disputes. Does she argue bitterly, silently, or to anyone who has to listen?
  20. What is his goal? Whom does he dream about, yearn for, hate?
Repeat the exercise for each major character. Even though you won't need to know as much detail for minor characters, make sure you know them, too!

How do you get to know your characters?

Nov 7, 2015


by Cindy R. Williams

Yesterday was my birthday. Here's what I thought about it.

  • Old, but feel not so old, yet sometimes I feel like a hundred.
  • Looking in the mirror. Who is that grandma looking lady? She sure looks tired. Then later, Wow, I don't see any wrinkles. Looking good for in your fifties now. 
  • Glad that fifties are the new twenties . . . okay forties. 
  • How weird that I received more birthday wishes from people on Facebook--some I don't even know--than from birthday cards, calls or from live bodies in first person. 
  • Nice day not to worry about too much sugar, fat, carbs, red meat or too little exercise.
  • Day to ponder who I have become. Do I want to stay that person, or create a new and improved version?
  • How did I get that tummy?  (Like just this day I woke up and there it was. Yes, I am in denial here.)
  • Thankful that this tough year is over and having faith that this next year will be full of reached goals. 
  • Counting on one hand how many people are not speaking to me on this birthday, and realizing I am actually relieved that I don't have to speak to them. (Okay, too much info here, but three of them are crazy, one has few boundaries and is close being a stalker and the other one scares the living daylights out of me.)
  • Don't care about presents. Do care that my children remember my birthday and have at least a few fond memories of forgiving kindness to direct my way. 
  • Gift to self. A nap on my pretend cloud bed. A long story for another blog.
  • Next year I am going to rest when I'm tired. Not feel guilty to say no when needed. Scale down on the supermom stuff. Let my creativity go sky high. Act on inspiration and promptings. Smile tons more and find more humor and humanity in situations. Move into a castle.

Nov 5, 2015

Thank You, Lisa Mangum, For Scaring Me

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of being a part of the Northwest ANWA Retreat in Rosario Beach, Washington. I arrived on Wednesday for the write-in so I could concentrate on the work-in-progress I'd been struggling with for eighteen months. It was also the first time I went to a conference intending to talk to an editor about my manuscript.
The ladies at the retreat.  10 Points if you can find Lisa!

But we didn't have just any editor. No. We had Lisa Mangum, the Acquisitions Editor for Shadow Mountain Publishing. This may not be a big deal for some writers, but in Mormon world, having the Acquisitions Editor for Shadow Mountain, the imprint for Deseret Books, on your doorstep is a big deal.

I'd spent weeks psyching myself up for a possible encounter with Lisa. I'd rehearsed at least a dozen scenarios in my head on how to present my book as the best thing ever and convince her that I had the next Fablehaven series. My first book, Unleashed, was nearly through the editing process and I was planning on finishing the first draft of the third book at the retreat.

The first time I saw Lisa, I swear angels sang from Heaven. I was expecting some lady in a black pantsuit, high heals, perfectly coiffed hair, and flawless makeup. But Lisa addressed our crowd of forty writers in a Rush t-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes, and absolutely no make-up. It was glorious! She's a real person!

The view from the beach
The next day, the writing gods smiled down upon me, and I walked into the conference building to find Lisa, all alone, staring out a window at the ocean. It couldn't possibly be that easy, could it?

I took a deep breath, smoothed down my shirt, and marched right up to her, thinking up some stupid excuse to interrupt her reverie.

She was nice, smiling politely and even remembering me from the 'getting to know you' session the night before. “You're the lady double majoring in Social Work and Addictions, aren't you?”

I grinned like an idiot and nodded my head.

“So, what are you writing?”

I have spoken in front of crowds of nearly 2,000 people, once ad-libbing for twenty minutes when they had an equipment malfunction. I've watched my three-month-old son be wheeled out of his hospital room to have open-heart surgery, had a child nearly die in my arms, and have made business presentations to international corporations. And yet, talking to Lisa Mangum scared me most.

One of our breathtaking sunsets! Aren't you jealous?
My heart skipped a beat, my mouth went dry, and I drew a blank. “It's not ready! I don't want to talk about it.”

She gave me a funny look. “Okay, then what have you been reading lately?”

Blank again! I swear I've read twenty books in the last six months, and I couldn't think of anything except the Twilight series I'd teased my sixteen year old son about reading...for the fourth time...and some e-book series I'd read nearly a year ago. “The Scarab Beetle Series? Text books?” I stare at her hoping she can answer my question for me.

Instead, she just smiled. We chatted for a few more minutes about nothing in particular, and then lunch was called. I missed my opportunity, and I spent the rest of the afternoon kicking myself for not having faith in myself or my book. Somewhere during that split second when Lisa asked me what I was writing and giving my answer, a little voice in my head screamed, “It's not good enough! She's not going to like it!” And I listened.

Saturday morning, I almost ducked out early because it was my daughter's birthday. But Lisa was talking one more time and I wanted to hear her words of wisdom.

She talked about how she once listened to that horrible little voice in the back of her head that said, “You're not good enough.” She listened to it for ten years. But something changed in her, and she realized that, not only was she good enough, but she had a book in her that was “like the best thing ever.”

She discussed how she began to write again, how scared she was to show her story to others, and how, after it was published, she realized that we all have a story inside us. We need to get that story out. We need to ignore that negative voice in the back of our heads, and write!

I left the ANWA retreat energized, motivated, and a true-blue Lisa Mangum fan-girl.

Since then, I've finished my third story, am 14,500 words into my fourth manuscript, and have decided to split my series into two trilogies. My goal is to have my book, Unleashed, ready to submit to publishers on January 1st. And you know what? I think I may just make it.

Thank you, Lisa Mangum, for scaring me and kicking me into motion. I would never have made that leap of faith with out you!

Nov 3, 2015

A Month of Gratitude is a Good Start

by Terri Wagner

I see these posts popping up on Facebook quite a bit. A challenge if you will of noting each day of November something you are grateful for. It's a terrific idea. I feel sure most of us can make the first say 15 days but after that it gets a bit harder. You become more reflective. One person last year decided at the end of November that they actually had no regrets because each failure, each disappointment, each cruel situation made them a better person. I have never understood that philosophy. I have regrets. Things I never did but wished I had, and things I did I wished I had not. I do not believe I am a better person for having lived through those times, just a different person. So am I grateful for bad experiences, perhaps especially those I brought on myself? No, honestly, I wish I had missed those experiences.

Mostly I sit in literal amazement that the foolish things I did did not in fact end worse. Once for no particular reason at all a friend and I switched driving positions going down the Interstate at over 70mph. We survived, but did not repeat the idiocy. It was years before I realized what we so easily escaped. Once in a misguided effort to protect a mom who had a child in her car with a busted out back window on a long bridge going 70mph I pulled behind her and kept a close distance so no one else could jump in front of me and cause an accident. She did not appreciate or understand my desire to keep her from being run down since she was going much slower. Was I wrong? I scared her instead of helping her. I regret that.

On the other hand, I have had some wonderful experiences I definitely would not trade out. Visiting Yorktown for the first was like a sacred experience. Feelings of gratitude for that ragtag band that stood so firm against the British and won the right to be a country. I still feel those things when I visit there. The time I was on a date with a car mechanic and he stopped to help a family in trouble. Our date was blown, our assistance made up for that. A time my friend and I managed to lock her still running car in the Blue Ridge campground, only to discover that car keys are only so many for a car and exact matches can turn up in unexpected places. There are so many times my guardian angel watched out for me. So there are many things I am glad I experienced.

But the really bad ones...nope I prefer to have skipped them. It is not a matter of learning the bitter from the sweet, more a matter of what I could have had had I listened vs. what I got because I did not obey. So am I grateful for bad! Am I grateful for good experiences...yes. Would I trade some of those bad betcha!