Climb Every Mountain with Courage (and Cookies)

 dreams thoreau_opt

Three years ago today I crossed the bridge from blog reader to blogger.


covered bridge between Vermont and New Hampshire

Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, Vermont (and New Hampshire)


I was scared, but I had a plan when I published my first post, There’s No Place Like the Prairie.

I wanted to create my author-ly space here on the internet (aka author platform),

A place to hang my quirky creative brand hat

not that I could define it at the time

baby Coleen Patrick bonnet_opt

Mini me wearing one of my first quirky hats 


Oh and I didn’t have expectations

or, if I did, I didn’t know what publishing my thoughts, my books, my photos (hey an audience that doesn’t require a family room and a slide projector!) would actually feel like.

Some of my 1,095 Hey I’m a writer! days were pretty awesome

flower garden Trapp lodge_opt

Flower garden at Trapp Family Lodge (the family that inspired The Sound of Music!!)

Stowe, Vermont 

droopy flower rain_opt

Others, kinda droopy. Seriously.


I like how Kate over at 4amwriter summed up the droop-tastic feeling:

“The bottom line, I discovered recently, was that I never told myself what I would do when I got rejections. I knew I’d get them. What I didn’t know is that they’d lay me out flat. And because I didn’t set myself a specific battle plan, it was easy to turn tail and run.” ~4amwriter


Enter courage (well, after some tears, some dessert, and a perusal of the classifieds).

Trapp Lodge Vermont_opt

The Trapp Family lodge in Stowe, Vermont makes an impressive first impression.


Okay, so courage doesn’t always make a dramatic entrance. Some days courage is one word, one tiny doodle, one smile.

And some days it’s just not quitting.

The creative life needs courage.

Our heads are not just in the clouds, we’re weaving fluffy, silver lined couture garments.


Yeah. Vulnerability is NOT EASY.

In fact, the image from my blog that has been pinned the most is this one:

pinterest courage quote


Oh and my mom’s cream cheese cookie recipe is not trailing far behind.

Some of you may have guessed barns.

red barn Stowe Vermont_opt

Barn nestled on mountain overlooking the village of Stowe.

By the way, thanks to Clay Watkins for tweeting me about his own barn finds!


But I’ll take courage and cookies (and supportive friends like YOU).

They’re great companions for climbing mountains.


Stowe Vermont mountains_opt

Even if you can’t quite make out the mountain. Yet.


Climb every mountain, 
Ford every stream, 
Follow every rainbow, 
‘Till you find your dream.

~Rodgers & Hammerstein, The Sound of Music


How are you mustering courage, or climbing mountains? Or just tell me your thoughts on cookies. I’d love to know.

Happy Weekend!

 Coleen xo


Do You Have Tattoo Envy?

Today I’m hanging out at Jenny Hansen’s blog. The topic? Tattoos!

Hop on over and check it out!



Have a spectacular weekend!




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Reader Paparazzi: An Interview with a YA Book Reviewer

It’s Reader Paparazzi time.


YA readers interview

It’s research, not stalking.

Reader Paparazzi is my Q & A series spotlighting YA readers (if you missed any previous interviews, click here or on the tab in the header above).  I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens–writing and reading, so it’s great to get a little real YA world perspective to help with character inspiration, or to learn what holds a teen’s interest, or simply find a new book to read.

But it’s not only teens reading Young Adult novels.  The popularity of YA spans the generations.  Wikipedia says the typical age range is from ten to twenty-five, but I know plenty of adults are reading it.  Plus, the categories of New Adult or Upper YA throw off the typical range also.

More than half of the eighty books I’ve read this year have been YA.  Although I guess I don’t count since I also write YA–and because I’m just barely over twenty-five.


Anyhoo, today I bring you an interview with a college student.  Ancient, I know.  But Amanda is a prolific YA reader.  She blogs about the books she reads over at her site Born Bookish.  Check it out.  You can find great reviews and segments like Breathtaking Book Covers and Wordlover Wednesday.



A big Reader Paparazzi hello to Amanda!

Amanda, what book are you reading right now?

You actually caught me in-between books! I started The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore a couple of months ago but have been so busy with review books I haven’t been able to finish it. Next up, is Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday.


the rise of nine

I am a fan of The Number Four series! Of course, every time I go to your blog, I find new titles for my to-read pile!

Okay, now let’s get serious.  What did you eat for dinner last night?

Macaroni & Cheese. Not the kind out of a box, I actually went out to eat and got fancy schmancy Mac & Cheese.


Yum!  What was your favorite book when you were younger?

I can only pick one? Wow, that’s hard. I’m going to go with Abby: South Sea Adventures series by Pamela Walls.


What do you hope you will be doing five years from now?

I hope that I will have a job in the field of Graphic Design, one that I will enjoy doing everyday.


What are you most looking forward to right now?

My trip to London that I’ll be taking over Winter Break!


Sounds amazing.  London is definitely on my bucket list. 

What would you like to learn how to do—that you don’t know how to do?

So many things . . . American Sign Language is something I’ve always wanted to learn–and how to play violin.


What fictional character would you most like to meet and why?

I have to think about this one for a minute . . . Cammie Morgan from the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter because she is a spy, and what girl didn’t dream of being a spy when she was little?!


out of sight out of time


Yes, but all that intrigue can make a spy girl hungry!

So back to food.  What is your favorite comfort food?

Chicken and stuffing


Top 3 songs playing on your iPod?

Small Bump- Ed Sheeran

Red- Taylor Swift

The Writer- Ellie Goulding (I just bought concert tickets for an Ellie concert tonight! I’m SO excited!)


You have a great blog segment on book covers—how important is the cover to you when choosing a book to read?

So important! If a book has a great cover it is pretty much guaranteed that I will at least pick it up, read the synopsis and decide from there. If I dislike a cover I won’t even bother reading the back. I know that’s horrible, but it’s the designer in me. I just can’t read a book if I hate the cover.


If you could Skype with anyone—who would you pick?

Does Perry the Platypus count? No? Okay. Then I would choose Taylor Swift.



Quick fire fill in the blank:

I fear: Heights

I need: Chocolate

I love: Family

I am inspired by: Nature

Favorite word from your Wordlover Wednesday series: Lollygag

As in enough of. Got it. 

Thank you Amanda!

Now, because Reader Paparazzi gets me feeling extra stalkerish and curious, tell me, what did YOU have for dinner last night?


I did NOT have Halloween candy for dinner.  

Have an awesome week!




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The Freedom to Express Our Frolicking Energy


I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.

― Mahatma Gandhi

first amendment freedom of expression wall_opt

The First Amendment Monument in Charlottesville, Virginia


What would you write on this monument?

Me?  I got creative and wrote my name.

And continuing the theme of relaying the obvious, I wrote:

 freedom slate monument_opt


Maybe it wasn’t as colorful (or cathartic) as the citizen who wrote RYAN IS A TOOL, but that’s okay.  The 108 feet of slate writing space exists to express our views on well, whatever.


I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.

― Oscar Wilde


 Because freedom of expression is one of our rights in America.

art on first amendment monument_opt

This one makes me smile.


Whether we doodle on slate, express our political or religious views or write best-selling books, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said that part of the significance of our freedom of expression is to “assure self-fulfillment for each individual.”

Expression = Self-fulfillment

Maybe not right away, but having the ability to express yourself can help you find purpose, passion and meaning in your life.  And there are so many ways to do it.

For example,I express myself in this blog, in my fiction writing and by wearing sparkly shoes.

 converse sequin


Maybe I color my hair blue, paint, or do DIY projects. .



Even my lunch tells a story about me and what I want for myself.

grilled tofu salad_opt

This is a very delicious grilled tofu salad. Not that I’m trying to convince anyone (because of freedom and all that).


Plus I like to bake and experiment with recipes.  I planned on showing you a picture of the gluten-free spice cupcakes I made for this weekend.  But sadly, they are all gone.


empty platter_opt


But cupcake or no cupcake, every day is another opportunity to show the world an expression that is uniquely our own.  Because each of us have a JOY looking for a voice.


You are joy, looking for a way to express.  

It’s not just that your purpose is joy, it is that you are joy. You are love and joy and freedom and clarity expressing. Energy-frolicking and eager.

That’s who you are.

― Esther Hicks


So, here’s to FROLICKING ENERGY and the unfettered freedom to find meaning.

What would you write on the Freedom of Expression monument?  How do you express yourself?  

I love it when you comment 🙂

Have an awesome week!

Putting the You in Blogging: What I’ve Learned So Far

first year blogging coleen patrick_opt

 Putting the YOU in blogging.

A year ago this week I started blogging.

Before that, the idea of me blogging seemed practically other worldly, like getting stuck in an elevator with Ian Somerhalder.

Just another dreamy idea.  Sigh.

But the more hours I set aside for writing, the more the business/public side of this job of writing became apparent.  I’d read an author’s blog, and somewhere in the cramped corner of my mind I’d think:  I might have to do this someday.

Still it seemed like something other people did.  Not me.

But then the idea planted itself and then grew until it poked at my gray matter.  It was time to do something, time to take another step.

writer evolution typewriters are heavy_opt

Time to EVOLVE.


So after stumbling across Kristen Lamb’s WANA blog, and then reading her books, I decided it was time to experiment with this blogging thing.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I followed her advice (note: all mistakes are my own) and started learning how to BUILD A PLATFORM.

And very quickly learned –and this is going to sound ridiculous coming from someone who writes a blog–that I don’t really like talking about myself.

Okay I will wait while you laugh.


So if that’s the case, then how do you decide what to blog about, especially when the blog’s brand is YOU?




“You’ve got to recognize, there will never be another you. It has nothing to do with ego; it happens to be the truth. There will never be another person the same. There’ll never be another you.”

~ Mickey Rooney

So be you.

Okay, but what about boundaries?  The internet knows none.  But not me.  Filter is like my middle name, and TMI is a VERY distant cousin.  This means I’m naturally less inclined to tell you what color underwear I am wearing. Doesn’t mean I don’t like underwear, or don’t wear underwear or don’t read blogs about underwear.  Underwear can by a VERY funny thing to blog about (don’t believe me? Check out the very lovely Jenny Hansen at More Cowbell).  Now maybe one morning I will wake up to hear the Today Show revealing a study that says:


Well then I’m going to have to reconsider the whole underwear thing, because I love me some inspiration.

Yup, I learned I DO like to sprinkle in some inspiration when I blog, but still I started somewhere WAY SAFER.  I started with bonnets.

baby Coleen Patrick bonnet_opt

This is like the opposite of underwear.


There’s no place like the prairie.  That was my first post.  I blogged about my favorite books from when I was a kid–the Little House on the Prairie series.  It kind of summed up a big part of me as a kid, as a reader.

And that’s okay.  You have to start somewhere.


And unfortunately I’ve learned that I’m a PANTSER when it comes to blogging.  No, I’m not talking about underwear again, being a pantser just means that I spend most Sunday afternoons with my face scrunched up in front of my computer writing Monday’s post.

Because I don’t plot or plan my blog posts.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the idea of outlines and planning ahead–and let me say I’ve planned and executed some amazing and detailed family road trips, but setting up a blogging calendar?

Um, so far hasn’t worked.  At all.

I’ve got my idea stash, but every week the only idea that sticks is something current, something with at least a tiny emotional connection, so yea, forget planning ahead.

It’s one reason why I do a lot of quoting around here.

But from other people.  Sure I’m a source of wisdom here at my house.  I’m handing out life lessons on a daily basis.  Why just this morning I got to impart this little gem:

Diarrhea will never be convenient.

With jewels like that, you see why I like to stick with Maya Angelou or Albert Einstein.

Besides that sort of quote might not translate my brand all that well on a Google search–which brings me to:


Search Engine Optimization.  If you blog, then you will know at least a little something about this.

Me? I’m still struggling to understand this—The Real Housewives franchise (and even the LOST finale) make more sense to me than this, but I’ve managed to think of SEO like this:


search engine building author platform


The more posts I write, the more information I have floating out there in search land–and eventually the repetition of me AS A BRAND should add up in the center.

Okay this is rudimentary and quite possibly wrong (and did I just call myself repetitious?), but I can pull up the searches that have directed people to my site and get:

Teenager washing dishes (a parent can dream)

Teen stockade (ditto)

These are searches that would be in the outer circles, because while I write stories about teens, it’s not quite right.  Like these searches:

Cooking with Pooh and liking it

Patrick written in poop

Toilet cake ideas

Again, not exactly at the core of what my blog is about, but I kind of like it because these searches also hint that somewhere in this blog is something funny.

Funny is important to me.


“Comedy is defiance. It’s a snort of contempt in the face of fear and anxiety. And it’s the laughter that allows hope to creep back on the inhale.” ~Will Durst

Funny is like a balm to me.  Sometimes life just sucks a big lemon.  People that I love are dealing with divorce, recovering from disease, suffering with pain, or money problems.  The world is filled with insane people.  And of course I’ve got my own obstacles to figure out—from the unexpected (my health) to the expected (but not easy) evolution of parenting (learning to add more “let go” to the love equation).  But it doesn’t even have to be BIG issues, it can be lots of tiny ones that kick up into a terrifying dust bunny of the mind.


too much on my mind


So yea, funny is good.  And sometimes you read a blog because you just want to know that someone else feels the same.  When I see searches like these collecting in my virtual Venn diagram:

How to find the courage to try something new


Embrace your story

I feel happy.  Because it’s positive and what I hope is a big part of the core of this blog.

Which brings me to another lesson I’ve learned:


Yes, there are weeks when I think—maybe I don’t want to do this anymore, maybe I don’t have something to say.  Especially when all the hard things about life come to wrap themselves around me, poking at my heart, making me want to fold up instead of sharing.

Except I belong to an AMAZING community of writers and bloggers.  Friends who randomly tweet things like this:


awesome blogging friends



And then I’m reminded that what we do, what we say or even what we blog about MATTERS.  Maybe we will never know the impact of our words in any given moment, but if it matters to you, it probably matters to someone else.  Maybe it’s someone at home or all the way across the world in Australia.

I have been lucky to come across amazing writers and bloggers first through Rachael Harrie’s writer’s platform building campaign, and then Kristen Lamb’s WANA (we are not alone) community (click on her site link above or see #mywana on Twitter or click on the beautiful peacock graphic in my sidebar).  It’s like your key to a writer’s Narnia.

I told myself I was going to do this for a year, an experiment of sorts, to not only see what I could do, but what could happen and also give myself the footing to be able to make the best decision for me when it comes to publishing.

I am learning as I go.  I am remaining open and curious.

Which leads me to my favorite part:  Question time!

I love when you take the time to read–and I love every comment and email.  So if you are a blogger, it would be super cool if you share with us in the comments how you put YOU in your blog.

If you don’t blog, then tell us why you read blogs, or Facebook posts or tweets or watch YouTube videos.  Do you do it for inspiration, motivation, laughter?  I’d love to know.

Thank you!!





Multitasking: Make Twice the Mistakes in Half the Time



Two weeks ago, while in the middle of answering emails (and clicking on link after link until I had at least two dozen tabs open that would need to be dealt with), I remembered I wanted to send a birthday package to my twin nephews.

So I opened another window and with a few clicks I filled my virtual shopping cart with fun picture books.   And cookies. Animal cookies in a cute yellow school bus box.

What four-year old wouldn’t want to have cookies and then play with the cardboard school bus box, right?  So cute!

So I put two in my basket, checked out and then patted myself on my super productive shoulder.  

Then I continued toggling, replying, reading and jumping around my to do list.

Until the next week when my mom asked:  Where did you buy those cookies?

ME:  Amazon, why?

MOM:  Your sister seems to think they were dog biscuits.


MOM:  Yes.  She was pretty sure.  She said the ingredients mentioned the percentage of crude fat and protein.

ME:  But why would they package it in a bus?  Dogs wouldn’t care about that!!  No way.  It can’t be dog biscuits!

It was.

I checked my Amazon receipt and that’s when I noticed the things I’d been too busy to catch:

Great for finicky pets!

Made by Exclusively Dog.

Animal Shaped Dog Treats.

In my defense, I had started out in the food section, but with one click or maybe switching from animal “crackers” to “cookies” I ended up in the pet supply section.



“I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.”  

~Jennifer Yane


The thing is, I know that I’m entering the Mistake Zone when I start toggling between tabs, email and everything else.

I worry I will type the wrong name (legal vs. writing name) when I switch back and forth between personal and writing emails.

I worry I will hit publish instead of save while I’m in the middle of writing the “vomit draft” of a blog post–which to me would kind of feel like walking out of the house without pants on.

Still, some days it’s hard to stop adding another chair on top of the stack.


coleen patrick balance_opt

Got balance?


But  our brains slow down when they go into juggle mode and occasionally information can get lost between long- term memory and our short-term working memory.

And the next thing you know you could be overlooking important clues:

Made with human-grade ingredients.  No animal parts or by-products.

It’s a good thing vacation is right around the corner, because I need a Balance Check.   For now though,  I will remember to breathe, take a fun day and feel the waves.

There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves.

— Frank Herbert

Oh and take more time for tea.  I LOVE tea!

And it’s even better with a great snack.  Anyone want an animal cookie?


Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold.  But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow. 

~Douglas Pagels


What are your thoughts on multitasking?  Do you think it adds to stress or do you feel more productive?


Leaning into the Leap


There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.
~Carl Sandburg


This weekend my husband and I went to an outdoor sports festival.  There was music, food and a variety of outdoor sports demos including slacklining.

 slack line coleen patrick_opt


Yoga on paddle boards

 yoga paddle board coleen patrick_opt

super chess coleen patrick_opt

Even super chess

Super Chess:  Are you ready??


All that adventure and yet I was beginning to feel the hint of a wallow coming on.  Nothing unusual, just a little Monday slipping into my Sunday afternoon.

I ignored it, and we made our way to the Ultimate Air Dog event.

 For this event, dogs ran across a ramp and jumped, flying over and into a pool (occasionally being prompted by their favorite chew toy or ball).

And every dog was different.  Some were coaxed on by their owner and others had to be held by the collar because they couldn’t wait for it to be their turn.  It was a Hippo vs. Eagle moment.

One little dog scampered down the ramp and then came to a complete stop at the edge.


dog hesitates coleen patrick_opt


And as the little dog hesitated, there was a collective “Aw.”  Because we all know the feeling.

In fact it was exactly why I was beginning to feel like I wanted to wallow like the hippo (rather than soar like the eagle).  I was thinking about writing a blog post and Tweeting and sharing on Facebook and pinning on Pinterest–and I felt a curious mix of fear and excitement at the thought of moving on from my cozy, family weekend to a week of social media.  Again.

Because every week when I think about putting myself out there, I feel like I am dangling off the edge of that ramp, suspended over a dark pool of insecurity.

And it’s usually due to over thinking.

I’m too much of an introvert–this isn’t natural for me.  I am far more suited to hours of solitary writing than social media and marketing.   This blog topic sucks.  Who is going to read this? It takes up too much time–instead I could, oh I don’t know, learn how to juggle or  teach myself Swedish.  Or I know! Finish knitting that lumpy scarf  I started years ago or bedazzle . . . something.

Over thinking creates obstacles, diverts attention.

slackline fall_opt

Better to be present.  It’s easier to get to the other side, the place you want to be, when you focus.

Even if you’re not quite ready to jump, you can always lean into the leap.  


 dog jumping soaring_opt

Then catch some air.

And it’s a relief to be on the other side, to finish something that’s not easy, to take another step, reach another goal.  There’s the sense of accomplishment, both in getting it done and pushing thru the hesitation.  

It’s even kind of exhilarating.

Even when it doesn’t go so gracefully or my blog topic is well, a little meh.  It’s okay.


Flops are a part of life’s menu and I’ve never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses.
– Rosalind Russell

And yes, the hesitation will be back, but:


The best way out is always through.
– Robert Frost


Because something happens every time you leap through to the other side:


You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face.
– Eleanor Roosevelt


Are you soaring through this week, or is there something causing  you to want to wallow?


Looking for a Sign That He Loves You


Have you ever found yourself looking for a sign?


Sometimes we look for signs anywhere– horoscopes, the weather, dreams.  When I was younger I remember consulting the Magic 8 ball when it came to matters of boys great import.

Did you know that Google is also on that list?  I realized that last week when I looked at the list of search engine words that led internet surfers to my site.

High on that list was one of the great philosophical questions, Where’s Waldo? (because of this post), but a very close second was Liam Payne, member of the crazy popular British boy band One Direction.  Thanks to my YA reader friend Lydia, fans have been stopping by after Google searching for All Things Liam.


sign one direction


But by far the most interesting search phrase that landed one of those fans on my blog (and got me seeing Google as this generation’s Magic 8 ball), was this:


A sign that Liam Payne loves me.


Now I don’t believe I have any sort of psychic powers, BUT I do believe in the power of hope.

Hope got me through many crushes in high school.

Oh and believe me, I looked for signs that me and my crush were meant to be EVERYWHERE.

Like seeing his initials.

Or looking at the clock just when it showed his birthday.

Or turning on the car to hear his song on the radio.

My BF and I even hung out outside of Chrysler Hall simply because our boy band crush sang there once upon a time.  I think we thought we could still breathe some of his air there.

Hope had us open for any sort of sign.

So I get the massive internet searches.  And who knows?  Maybe landing here on my blog is all kinds of meant to be–and I don’t want to disappoint.

In fact I love to make people smile, so I went on a search of all the things Google listed that people were looking for here (but couldn’t find).

liam payne freckle

Is that Liam’s mole/freckle?



liam payne lips

Are these the lovely teeth you were looking for?


liam payne feet

 And the shoes only Liam could fill?


liam payne hat

Oh and is this the hat you were looking for???



Nowadays I might see signs of love a little differently (like bringing me a cup of tea or washing the dishes), but my favorite part of looking for a sign?

Being open to hope.


Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope.

~Maya Angelou


When it comes to love, have you ever looked for signs?

The Courage to Try Something New


“Never be afraid to try something new.  
Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark.  A large group of professionals built the Titanic.”

~Dave Barry


Over the years there have been many times I jumped right into trying something new.  Sewing, rock climbing, blogging, selling makeup, quilting, flower arranging, painting–

 try something new elmo overalls _opt

Elmo overalls I made for my niece.  My wall mural is the background.


Even if I didn’t take to something, at least I learned from it (like that I really don’t like selling makeup and I really can’t sew in a zipper).

But I don’t always try new things.  Habit tends to get in the way.  I get used to my routine.  I like my To Do lists and that satisfied feeling I get at the end of a productive day.

Habit makes it so easy to resist the new.

So does fear.  Maybe you never sign up for those dance classes because you think you will look silly doing the Argentine Tango.  Or stay quiet about that new project idea you had for work because it’s not what you usually do.

Trying something new often takes courage.

And sometimes I think we just plain forget the thrill that often accompanies something new.

 converse sequin

And it’s not only about creating or wearing something new.  It can be trying new foods.  I tried  Vietnamese food for the first time a couple of years ago and I love it.  But most of the time I stick with the same meals because it’s easier, one less thing to consider in regard to taste or nutrition.

But it’s definitely fun to try new food, experience a taste sensation–both good and not so good.  Like last week when I tried gluten free oat matzoh.

Now I can now officially say I’ve eaten cardboard.

Still it’s amazing how many sensory details I eked out of that experience.  Trying something new can get your neurons sparking again.  Sort of like what happens when you put oat matzoh in the oven–it spontaneously smokes at the slightest hint of warmth.  Your brain can get all warm and smoky too, but in a good way.

Plus trying something new can lift your mood.  This weekend my son was in a Spring-Break-is-Over-Funk and I knew I needed to nudge him.   So we all got up early and headed to the batting cages.  It was something neither of us had ever done.

 Try something new batting cage_opt


Funk dispelled.

Sometimes new things have the power to do that.

Tell me! Have you tried something new lately?  I would love to know.