Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.
Lots of us have had tough years personally before, but not in my lifetime have we as a human race had such a difficult year. If you’re like me, New Year’s held a new significance and you’re thankful to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. Hopeful for 2021, I tried writing about the activities I desperately miss and appreciate more since COVID-19. I hope this year to return to treating myself to a mani-pedi (I’m so relieved it’s closed toe shoe season!), getting a haircut every six to eight weeks instead of twice a year, going to lunch with friends and sitting close enough we don’t need walkie-talkies to converse, and window shopping. Somehow instead of being the hopeful post I intended, I found myself needing a break from thinking about COVID and the harsh realities it’s brought crashing down on our lives.
Also needing to laugh, I turned to a book I discovered in Glassboro, New Jersey visiting my son. When the title caught my eye, This Is Like, Totally a Quote Book, I had to open it. The dedication had me LOLing. “This book is dedicated to the eminent individuals whose words are parodied herein. We’d like to imagine each of them, living or dead, getting a chuckle out of it. We only wish we could invite them all to dinner. * That would be, like, totally an amazing party. *Except maybe Hannibal Lecter.”
The book takes famous quotes and inserts the phrase like, totally. Having been part of the generation that thought those words were so cool, I couldn’t stop reading. The next thing I knew I was reading quotes to my husband. So today, in hopes of making you smile and showing how adding two words can change a sentence, I’ve tweaked some famous quotes.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in like, totally rising every time we fall.” -Nelson Mandela
The way to get started is to like, totally quit talking and begin doing. -Walt Disney
Life is what happens like, when you’re busy totally making other plans. -John Lennon
To be or like, totally not to be. -William Shakespeare
When you reach the end of your rope, like tie a knot in it and totally hang on. -Franklin D. Roosevelt
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but like, totally by the seeds that you plant. -Robert Louis Stevenson
It is during our darkest moments that we must like, totally focus to see the light. -Aristotle
Here’s some modified western/cowboy sayings from grammar.yourdictionary.com.
Some cowboys have like, totally too much tumbleweed in their blood to settle down.
When you’re throwin’ your weight around, be like, totally ready to have it thrown around by someone else.
Always like, totally drink upstream from the herd.
Never ask how stupid someone is ‘cause they’ll like, turn around and totally show you.
The only good reason to ride a bull is to like, totally meet a nurse.
And my favorite…
Never like, jump a barbed wire fence totally naked.
I hope these changes to famous quotes made you chuckle. To be entered in the random drawing for today’s giveaway of the sparkly Peace sign and a signed copy of Home on the Ranch: Family Ties share a quote and like, totally parody it in This Is Like, Totally a Quote Book style. Here’s to 2021. May your year be blessed, and wishing you like, totally the best year ever!
As I waited in the pharmacy for my flu shot, I checked out a book display. Among various inspirational books was Wise Dogs by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. and Dale C. Spartas. The book pairs words of wisdom with beautiful dog photos. The small book brightened my day and got me thinking.
Animals have always been there for me during good times and rough patches. They never judge, love unconditionally, are fantastic listeners, and never share my secrets.
But pets offer more than companionship. Studies show they can improve our mood and immune systems, reduce stress, anxiety, and lower blood pressure. (A common statement in my house when someone’s cranky is “Will you pet a dog to lower your blood pressure and calm down?” It’s also a handy excuse. “Sorry. I can’t _______. I’m lowering my blood pressure now.”) There are stories of people who would’ve committed suicide if not for having a pet to care for.
I have a “Dogilosophy” coaster. If you can’t read it in the picture it says, “Listen more than you speak. Act like you have purpose. Appreciate a simple life. Give more than you receive. Be happy with what you have. Be a best friend.” What fabulous advice. Ever since, I’ve tried to follow this.
I’ve added to this list of what dogs and pets have taught me from Wise Dogs, bestlifeonline.com, and the Huffington Post.
Live in the moment/Enjoy life/Enjoy the journey—I think this is especially important now with social media. How often do we see people ignoring those around them in favor of their phone? Some people are so busy posting what they’re doing they’re not really present in what’s happening. I’ve learned sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Wise Dogs says, “Who you’re with is always more important than where you are.”
Walk more—Very few of us get enough exercise. I know I don’t. (I’m adding walking the dogs more to my resolutions.)
Drink more water—Again I’m adding to things to work on in 2021!
Greet everyone with enthusiasm/Jump for joy when you’re happy—We don’t celebrate successes and the positives in our lives enough. Dogs do. Finding a stick, barking at a squirrel outside the window, their human coming back after checking for mail are all celebrated with gusto.
Everyone needs a hand to hold and a heart to understand—This has been difficult with COVID-19. We need to find other ways to stay connected such as notes and phone calls.
Play and run daily—We need to have more fun!
Be loyal/Defend and protect those you love—Truly good friends are a rare gift and should be treated as such.
Don’t hold a grudge/Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship/Leave the past in the past—I’ve fostered dogs who came from terrible situations that are still capable of love. They don’t let their tragic past steal their future.
Family doesn’t have to be blood—I’m a big believer the one and the theme runs through many of my books.
Don’t have the time or space for a pet? Consider volunteering at an animal shelter walking dogs or playing with cats or dogs. Or, visit a friend with a pet. I bet you’ll receive health benefits.
As we thankfully approach the end of 2020, I pray 2021 is better for the people who have suffered or still are and may we all be a more like pets. I’ll leave you with one last quote from Wise Dogs. “May your dreams defy the laws of gravity.”
Today’s giveaway is a “live like someone left the gate open” (one of my favorite sayings) mug and A Cure For the Vet which contains my book The Rancher and the Vet. My heroine, Avery McAlister, is a veterinarian who runs an animal shelter. To be entered in the random drawing, comment on this question. Of the above lessons from dogs, what’s your favorite?
First of all, a family situation with my parents has taken over my life the last few days. I hope this post makes sense.
I’ve mentioned before how my mother listened to country music during my childhood. I’ve also said I wasn’t a fan. That all changed when I sold my first book with a cowboy hero and started listening to country music for inspiration.
What I love about country music is how many songs tell a story or contain a lesson. “I Drive Your Truck” (click here to listen) by Lee Brice tells the story of a man coping with a friend or relative’s death serving our country in Afghanistan. (It was inspired by the true story of a man who lost his son.) A song with a happier story is Brad Paisley’s “Mud On the Tires” (click here to listen) . A man’s asks a woman to go for a ride down by the lake in his new truck. It always makes me smile, want to hop in a truck, and go four-wheelin’. Then there’s Billy Currington’s “Good Directions” (click here to listen) where a city girl asks a country boy for directions. It plays every string of this happily-ever-after girl’s heart. (For an extra treat click here to listen to his “People Are Crazy”.)
But the song that’s speaking to me most, keeping me going, and inspiring me lately is Rascal Flatts’ “How They Remember You”. The song contends everyone will be remembered. The question is how, and the lyrics insist the answer is up to us. Dealing with aging parents has me thinking about the past and legacies. The song asks some important questions. The answers to which determine how we’ll be remembered. Here’s part of the lyrics. Click here to listen)
Did you make ‘em laugh or make ‘em cry?
Did you quit or did you try?
Live your dreams or let ‘em die?
What did you choose?
When you’re down to your last dollar
Will you give or will you take?
When the stiff wind blows the hardest
Will you bend or will you break?
We get one life shot. How we use it and what we do matters. Not all of us can save the world, but we can treat those around us with kindness, respect, and dignity. Life can be rough like it is right now. That stiff wind is definitely blowing hard. How do we keep from breaking? As my BFF Lori told me lately, take the lemons and make lemonade or my grandmother’s lemon bars! If we can’t do that, throw the lemons at the fence. At least that’ll burn off stress.
Everyone is struggling, and many of our coping strategies, like getting together with friends, aren’t available. So what do we do? We can text friends to say hello or check on them. Or better yet, call. A dear friend, Cathy has done this during COVID-19. Her call made my day! If you’re like me and have a stockpile of cards, send them to friends along with a note. We need to find creative ways to stay connected and show we care.
And if you think little actions don’t make a big difference, consider this quote from the Dalai Lama. “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
To be entered in the random giveaway for an digital copy of my latest release, To Marry A Texas Cowboy, leave a comment to this question. What is a song (doesn’t have to be a country one) that speaks to you or inspires you?
Take care, be safe, be kind, and tell someone today how much he or she means to you.
I’m so excited for the release this month of the fourth book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Marry A Texas Cowboy. Mark your calendar. September 28th is the day Zane Logan’s story arrives.
Zane is the playboy in this group of heroes. Women fall at his feet, and there’s never been one he couldn’t handle. Do you see trouble coming? Of course you do, and you’d be right. Here’s an excerpt from To Marry A Texas Cowboy. I hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to mark your calendar.
“Are you okay?” Mr. Stop Traffic asked, stepping into the light. She must have showered him with champagne because his shirt lay plastered against his chest, revealing his well-defined abs. Oh, my. His chest looked as wonderful as his face.
“I need to get to the generator,” McKenna said, but she’d no sooner gotten the words out when the lights came on.
“What happened? There’s blood smeared on your face and sleeve, and your nose is swollen.”
McKenna resisted the urge to groan, his comment obliterating all her feminine warm fuzzy feelings. While she was thinking about how dreamy he was, he’d been worried about her bloody, swollen nose. She should’ve known something practical accounted for his interest.
“Something hit my nose when the lights went out.”
“Bet it was the cork from my champagne bottle. It got away from me when the lightning hit.” He glanced around. “Mrs. Severance, you’re a nurse. Come check this out.”
Thanks. Call more attention to the fact that I got hurt and probably resemble a rodeo clown, while you, dripping wet with champagne look…marvelous.
McKenna smiled and waved the older woman off. “No need. I’m fine.”
“If you’re sure,” Mrs. Severance replied.
She nodded as Mr. Stop Traffic moved past her, lifted a glass, and filled it with water from a nearby pitcher. Next, he grabbed a napkin, dunked the square into the water, and returned. Increasingly embarrassed and fighting the urge to run, McKenna reached for the napkin, but he pushed her hand away. “You’ll only smear it more.”
His brows furrowed in concentration as he wiped the blood from her face. His green eyes held tiny flecks of gold, making them almost sparkle. He had the most mesmerizing eyes. Paul Newman, never-forget kind, except in green instead of blue. Her breath caught in her chest. She couldn’t think. Oh dear. No man had ever sent such a warm rush of pleasure pulsing through her before. Not even during sex.
“You need medical attention. Your nose is really swollen.”
His words obliterating her sexual feel-good haze, she leaned forward, kept a smile on her face, and whispered, “Stop saying how swollen my nose is. I’ll deal with it later. Right now, I need to do my job.” Then she straightened and announced, “I’m fine, everyone. If I wasn’t, I’d say so. Now let’s get this party back on track and toast the happy couple.”
She placed her empty bottle in the tub and selected another. This one she opened before handing it to him. “Pour. Everyone’s waiting.”
“Hey, Zane,” came Ty’s voice again from the dance floor, “everyone okay back there? You about got that champagne poured?”
McKenna froze. Zane? While that wasn’t a common name, it wouldn’t be unheard of for two men named Zane to be in attendance tonight.
Right, and if you believe that then you’ve got less brains than God gave a fruit fly.
“Don’t get your britches in a knot, Ty. We’ll be ready for the toast in a minute,” Zane replied.
No, she couldn’t have done what it appeared she had—assumed her boss’s grandson was temporary hired help, ordered him around, and spilled champagne all over him.
This man couldn’t be Ginny’s grandson, the video game designer from Los Angeles, because nothing about this man said California. He was all Texas, including Wrangler jeans, a crisp black western shirt, a silver oval belt buckle with Texas written in the center, and freshly polished cowboy boots.
Despite the evidence, she had to be certain. “You’re not Ginny’s grandson Zane, are you?”
“The one and only.”
Despite their awkward first encounter, when Zane takes charge of his grandmother’s wedding planning business and becomes McKenna’s temporary boss, she doesn’t let him run roughshod over her. Zane doesn’t know quite what to do with a woman he can’t impress, and there are plenty of fireworks.
Today’s giveaway is a signed copy of book 3 in the Wishing, Texas series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, and an insulated cup, Less Monday More Summer. Since Zane steps in to run his grandmother’s wedding planning business, to be entered in the random drawing leave a comment what you enjoy most about weddings, a wedding trend you like, detest or just don’t understand.
I hate to admit this, but as a child, I wasn’t a fan of the country music my mother played music. But since I sold my first contemporary western romance in 2011, I’ve come to love it. The other day I thought about how many great songs have cowboy in the title. The first one that popped into my mind was “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” by Willie Nelson. For fun, I ran a searched to find others.
The first site on my search was http://www.myweddingsongs.com. The irony is the day before I wrote this post, I turned in revisions on To Marry A Texas Cowboy which comes out in September. In that book, my hero temporarily manages his grandmother’s wedding planning business! When I went to the website, I discovered the fourth Saturday in July is the Day of the Cowboy. If I’d known, July 25th would’ve found me in my recliner watching cowboy movies. Then I would’ve sat on the patio with a cool drink and listened to cowboy songs.
Since I missed this year’s day, I’m compiling my Day of the Cowboy playlist for Saturday July 24, 2021. Here’s my list so far.
Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell
Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys by Waylon and Willie
Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? by Paula Cole
Should’ve Been a Cowboy by Toby Keith
Cowboys and Angels by Garth Brooks
Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) by Big and Rich
Cowboy Casanova by Carried Underwood
Cowboy Take Me Away by The Chicks
The Cowboy Rides Away by George Strait
Don’t Call Him Cowboy by Conway Twitty
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys by Willie Nelson
The Cowboy in Me by Tim McGraw
Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy by Chris LeDoux
Cowboy Love by John Michael Montgomery
Asphalt Cowboy by Jason Aldean
The Cowboy’s Hat by Chris LeDoux
Cowboy’s Back in Town by Trace Adkins
100% Cowboy by Jason Meadows
Cowboys and Angels by Garth Brooks
My Cowboy by Jessie James
Cowboys Like Us by George Strait
All Around Cowboy by Waylon Jennings
Cowboy Logic by The Charlie Daniels Band
Cowboys Are My Weakness by Trisha Yearwood (Oh, yes! Mine too!)
I Want a Cowboy by Reba McEntire
I Ain’t Her Cowboy Anymore by George Strait
Broken Down Cowboy
And two non-country music entries…
Put the Boy Back in Cowboy by Bon Jovi
I Wannt Be a Cowboy by Boys Don’t Cry
(This has a great video if you love watching Jon Bon Jovi!)
Since I was having a great time and in a wonderful mood after listening to many of the above, I searched for best songs about cowboys, and I had to include these.
Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi
Desperado by The Eagles
The songs that spoke to me as I compiled my list were “Cowboy Logic” by The Charlie Daniels Band, “I Want a Cowboy” by Reba McEntire, and “100% Cowboy” by Jason Meadows. To listen to those, click on the song title. Now I have another way to brighten the day when I’m feeling blue–listen to songs with cowboy in the title!
To be entered in the random drawing for the brand wine glass, the wine cover and a copy of Home on the Range: Colorado Rescue, leave a comment stating your favorite song with cowboy in the title and why you like it.