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#smileaday Helping someone along.

I'm doing a fair bit of mentoring these days, formally and informally. Today, I read a story for a beginning writer and offered some advice. That's always tricky. Even when someone asks for your opinion and help, it doesn't necessarily follow that they're open to hearing or using what you have to say. So, I take it on with equal measures hope and trepidation.

Luckily, my advice was well received. Whew!

advice quote oscar wilde

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#smileaday Getting an audiobook.

I do a LOT of my reading in audiobook form, so it's been a bit of a heartbreak to me that my own books weren't available in audiobook. But that's about to change! I had a phone call today with my audiobook narrator to talk some details and she'll start recording THIS WEEKEND! I am so excited guys!

audiobook icon

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#smileaday Lots of sunshine.

I got two walks in the sunlit woods today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, one with my husband and one with one of my daughters (both with the dog). The water sparkled in the light and I felt lit from within. Some time in the outdoors is so important to my peace of mind.

Good light, good company, good places.

my daughter and dog by the river

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#smileaday Gaming with my family.

Tonight, we had all four Bryants at home, all alert and healthy and doing well, so we jumped on the chance and played a board game together! Tonight was Pandemic: The Cure, a dice-based version of the popular board game. We've all played the regular board game, and my husband and I have played through *some* of the Legacy game. We thought it was thematic, given that our family lost February to various illnesses. :-)

I love co-op games with my family. It's a great chance to work together on something that won't really have consequences if we fail. This time, though, we saved humanity! And at the last minute, too. It was a close one.
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meant to be meme#smileaday Signs we're meant to be.

It's Friday night and the Retro series we love is playing Alfred Hitchcock films. Normally, that'd be a no-brainer and we'd be there. But we've had a bunch of sick in our house. We're barely recovered. I found myself thinking of the outing with dread instead of joy, but I didn't want to take the fun away from Sweetman, so I hadn't said anything.

Then we went for a walk, and in talking, it became clear that Sweetman felt exactly the same way.

So, not only are we so well matched that we wanted to see the same movie, we're so in sync that we both unusually didn't want to go tonight. Looking forward to going to bed early and getting some energy back for future fun!
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my shoe and the creek#smileaday Sitting by running water.

The thing I miss most about living in Alaska is wilderness. Being able to go someplace where there aren't any other people and all you can hear are the sounds of nature. It used to melt the stress off of me. I didn't know how much I craved it until I came back to the 48 and it got so much harder to get.

In my part of North Carolina, I can get out into the woods pretty easily, and I can usually even get to be alone or nearly alone there. But I can hear the highway everywhere, and that's a mood killer.

I've found one natural place in my town though, where I can't hear the highway. It's at the bottom of a woods loop, alongside a wide creek. If I go sit by the water there, the water itself is loud enough to mask the residual buzz of tires on asphalt.

I went there today and sat on a downed tree letting the water wash my troubled thoughts downstream. It was perfect.
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#smileaday Cooking something new.

I do most of the cooking in our family. Because I teach in the same town we live in, I generally get home 1-2 hours earlier than my husband, so we eat sooner if I cook. Luckily, I like cooking. So, this works out.

However, I get seriously bored if I cook the same things too often. I'm not one of those people who can rotate a small repertoire of dishes. I need novelty to stay interested in cooking.

So, tonight's experiment was orange chicken, a dish I've often ordered at Chinese restaurants, but never made myself. (here's the recipe, for anyone insterested: https://www.modernhoney.com/chinese-orange-chicken/ ) It was delish. All Bryants were pleased.
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balanced rocks#smileaday Finding my equanimity.

It was especially stressful at school today. Hormones have hit sixth grade girls rather hard, and there's a lot of drama and meanness. My mood was tanked after teaching one particular class today and I had a hard time getting back to an even keel.

What usually works is walking, so I took my dog out for Riverwalk. That helped, but I still had a grumpy edge. Dinner helped. Burgers, tater tots, and broccoli tonight.Three favorites. During dinner, we watched an episode of The Dragon Prince. That helped, too. After dinner, we went out for custard at a place that opened a few months ago and we hadn't gotten around to trying yet. Now, I'm alone in my writing room with a cup of Tension Tamer tea, and I'm *almost* not grumpy.

Whew. That one was hard to shake.
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buttercups by the creek#smileaday My doggo's joy on a walk.

The doggo and I went to Riverwalk today. It's our favorite walk when it's been raining because it's paved, but still feels like a wooded path.

There are two paths you can walk: a loop that takes you alongside the river and towards a nearby park and a longer path that take you the other way alongside the river and eventually hooks up with other walking trails.

Generally, we take the loop because it's short enough to do on a time crunch, but today, when we got to the "choose your direction" moment, he stopped and looked back at me and tugged towards the longer path. I looked at those puppy eyes and instantly caved. I said, "Okay, bud-bud, take me to the river."

You never saw such a joyous dog! (no photographic evidence of joyous dog because a tail wagging that fast cannot be captured by a mere cellphone camera).
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me with Captain Marvel poster#smileaday A good girl-power movie with my girls. Went to see #captainmarvel today with my daughters. A very solid and satisfying superhero flick. Much better than the trailer led me to believe. Brie Larson overcame my doubts quickly.

It didn't quite get the leap-out-my-seat clapping feeling that Wonder Woman gave me, but I still pumped my fist in the air more than once. Favorite moments: the "getting back up" montage of Carol Danvers at different ages and the line "I've got nothing to prove to you."

Jude Law was a great antagonist, and Annette Bening was clearly having a blast in both her roles. Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar brought such warmth and love to their roles, really selling the found-family dynamic with Carol. I'm looking forward to seeing this character come back in Endgame.
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art supplies#smileaday Scrap Exchange.

If you've never been to Scrap Exchange, it can be hard to understand what it is. Part recycling center, part thrift store, part artist's refuge, it's a store in Durham, North Carolina, USA. It's both chaotic and well organized. You never know what you're going to find there. Disparate objects are in bins and barrels and you sort through to find what you want to buy.

I was there with my daughters today, which is a triple delight: awesome store + two awesome daughters. The eldest needed some supplies for a project for her Interior Design class, things like fabric swatches, buttons, paint samples, etc. The youngest just loves to be there. A fourth bonus is that *both* my daughters love this place. It can be really hard to find one thing to do that genuinely pleases both an 11 year old and a 19 year old. But we could all wander the aisles digging through fascinating objects and letting our imaginations run wild for days.

http://scrapexchange.org/
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#smileaday Happy children.

My poor daughter has had a lonely month. No playmates due to sickness. Her own, then mine. But tonight, she has a sleepover guest and the giggles coming from our living room right now could make the Grinch's heart triple in size.

grinch heart growing gif

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#smileaday Spoiling myself. I bought myself a birthday present this year. (It's not my birthday yet, but sometimes I celebrate early). One of my former students from Nome now makes jewelry using fossilized ivory and mammoth bone set in beveled metals (among other things: he's also a musician). It's very Alaska meets the Southwest, which come to think of it, is what he's like too.

I know teachers aren't supposed to have favorites, but this student was always a special one, and I love hearing about the interesting life he's living now. And now I've got something beautiful he made. I love that the shape of the piece itself reminds me of Kodiak Island, another of the homes of my heart.

I'm not much of a jewelry person over all. But I do love a piece that means something to me. Happy birthday to me, a month or so early.

me with a new necklace

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#smileaday Spring flowers.

Spring makes my head hurt (allergies), but it makes my heart happy. The hyacinths in my garden bed are in full bloom today.
hyacinth

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#smileaday Spoiling Sweetman. We celebrated my husband's birthday tonight. Just a little lowkey night: a lovely bolagnese and a Mexican chocolate cake for dessert. Another episode of The Dragon Prince (we're trying to only watch on episode at a go, to make it last). I guess this is what they call domestic bliss :-)

All work was worth it to see his shy happy smile, my favorite of all his smiles.

taurus

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cake batter in bowl#smileaday Making cake.

The youngest and I like to bake together. A lot of times, this is just box-kit cakes, but tonight's preparations are to be a birthday cake for Daddy, so it needed to be special. We made our cake from scratch this time: Mexican chocolate. It smelled so good while it was baking that I am sad we're not eating it until tomorrow.

If people who are good with plants have a green thumb, what do people who are gifted bakers have? Because the littlest Bryant has one, whatever it is. Everything she bakes is lovely.
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#smileaday The Library Book Sale.

I'm on the board for my local Friends of the Public Library and today we had a pop up book sale. We usually have a spring and a fall book sale, but thanks to Marie Kondo encouraging everyone to examine their collections, we had a flood of donated books and had to hold an extra sale so our storage room could meet fire code.

I love our book sales. It's such a voyage of discovery, walking around and looking. The collection is far more eclectic and changeable than anything you'll find in even the quirkiest indie bookstore. Maybe there's a glut of cookbooks because a local cook decided to cull the collection; or maybe we have a ton of graphic novels because someone thought they were now too old for them. Maybe someone unpacked their old college books and decided they don't need that book of 17th century poets anymore.

The other great thing is spending my day with book addicts, who are looking for odd things and are thrilled by these serendipities. We'll all so grateful to feed our addictions so inexpensively, and getting karmic credit for library support at the same time.

It's a lovely way to spend a rainy afternoon for sure.

friends of the library logo

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#smileaday Planning time with Sweetman.

I know this probably sounds dull to a lot of people, but Sweetman and I like to plan together, both short term (what's for dinner tomorrow?) and long term (where will we live in 15 years?). It's an important point of connection and a language of love for both of us.

February has been painful in that, with one Bryant or another sick nearly all month, we couldn't plan together. Either he had to make plans or I did, but we were spread too thin to plan together.

So, today we made plans. And it was glorious!

premeditated

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#smileaday Retro night. Sweetman and I are fans of the Retro Film Series at the Carolina Theatre. If we had but world enough and time (and money), we'd probably hit nearly every show. Tonight, after nearly a month of sickness at our house that meant we missed a great film festival here, among other things, we made it! #datenight #retrofilm

retro film series logo

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#smileaday I don't have a headache. Reasonably sure this is the first day in February in which I went through the whole day without having a headache of one sort or another. Between illness, allergies, noise, and stress, it was a helluva month. Not having a headache made such a difference in my demeanor that I was walking around singing this song all day. "Human Again."

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Samantha J Bryant

March 2019

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