Digger & the Little Choo Choo

How to Keep Calm & Chug Along: 

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STARTING THIS PODCAST HAS BEEN AN UPHILL JOURNEY . . . When I made the decision in the Fall of 2016, I didn't know the first thing about how to make a podcast. I watched a few tutorials on YouTube, borrowed a USB mic from a friend, and recorded the demo episode of "Fly Home Birdie" using Garageband on my Mac. Then I spent months researching & playing around with recording. I watched more free tutorials on podcasting, with Pat Flynn, Cliff Ravenscraft, & Jessica Kupferman. I recorded some songs and intros. I signed up for a course with John Lee Dumas and I enlisted the help of a local musician named Kris Rogers to record the jingles. I climbed up the podcasting hill inch by inch.

        Birdie thinks podcasting is so EXCITING!!!

        Birdie thinks podcasting is so EXCITING!!!

      Some parts of the journey were steeper than others. But with every success, I gained more confidence, felt more motivated. Within a year, I went from no knowledge to successfully recorded 48 episodes of Story Spectacular. I didn't have to go back to school. I got to learn about podcasting online and recording a demo for free before I decided to invest any money. I still have plenty of climbing to do but I am now a podcaster. If I can learn something new than so can you! What do you say? Do YOU think you can?

Your hard work will pay off!

Your hard work will pay off!

Chilly the Snowman

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How to Love Snow Like a Kid:

AH SNOW. . . My feelings about snow have really evolved since my childhood. As an adult living in Maine, the snow piling up can feel like such a burden. Snowbanks are like obstacles you need to move out of the way or navigate your car around.

      But as a child… a big snowbank looks like hours of fun! It can be a slide, a sculpture, and of course a snow fort!!! I spent so much time playing out in the snow. I don’t even remember feeling that cold as a kid. The biggest obstacle between kids and playing in the snow, is putting on all the snow gear! Boots, hats, mittens, and of course... the dreaded snowsuit! Who can forget Randy from A Christmas Story “I CAN’T PUT MY ARMS DOWN!” I certainly had my fair share of falling in the snow and being unable to move from all of my cumbersome winter gear! So many things to put on and keep track of. My little brother lost so many gloves and hats that my Dad referred to the lost and found as his “locker”. But oh boy, is it worth it! There’s just nothing like playing in the snow.

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     This time of year many families are on break for the holidays. It can be really hard to get enough time outdoors when it’s cold out. But I think it’s always good for the body and the mind to spend time outside. I wanted to write a story for kids that would get them pumped about playing out in the snow. So bundle up! Get outside! Move and shake like you are Chilly!

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My brother Tony & I playing in the snow during the 1991 "Halloween Nor'easter"


Lawrence the Lighthouse

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How to Face Your Fears "Head-light" On:

"HI -YAH  LAWRENCE . . . " I just love this one. I have lived in Portland Maine for 10 years now. We are a little port city with an old working waterfront. The Portland Headlight has been guiding boats into Casco Bay since 1791. It is my favorite lighthouse to visit. When I made my living as a landscape painter, I painted this lighthouse dozens of times.

     The Headlight always looked like it was in a different mood. But mostly, I thought it looked lonely. The Lighthouse stays up all night keeping vigil, guiding boats into the harbor. Boats that have seen the whole world, but the Lighthouse never gets to leave its post. Sailboats get to leisurely float around. But the Lighthouse is always working. Even the “Working” Boats have a day off for the annual Lobster Boat Races. But the Lighthouse doesn’t get to participate. Always a boat guide, never a ride. Okay okay, I know I am getting all worked up about an inanimate object. And if you really stop and think, this Lighthouse doesn’t really have it all that bad. It gets thousands of visitors every year AND is the most photographed lighthouse in the world! Come to think of it, the Portland Headlight has more Instagram followers than most celebrities!

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     For all these reasons, I just had to write a story about the Headlight. Soon there will even be a book! A family member took me out on his 1968 Columbia Sailboat for a tour of Casco Bay. It was a beautiful afternoon and I was able to take loads of photographs of the Bay, the Boats, and the Lighthouse. These photos will be the background illustrations in the Lawrence the Lighthouse book. I can’t wait for you all to see it!

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Sailing around Casco Bay aboard the "Salt", watching the lobster boats and tug boats race around the harbor while "Lawrence" watches


Happy Birthday Maple

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How to Make Like a Tree & Leave Things Behind:

 MY FAVORITE CHILDREN'S BOOK IS . . . "The Lorax" by Dr Seuss.  I wanted to write my own story about trees. Even with some great inspiration, “Happy Birthday Maple” did not come easily to me, because it was not actually the story I set out write.

      The first story I wrote was called the ‘Tree Retreat’. It was about trees from all around the world, gathering up their roots and meeting at the top of the earth for the annual “Tree Retreat.” I know, not bad right? But as I was writing the story I realized there wasn’t much in it for kids. It became overworked and really preachy. It lacked joy, a magical spark. Man, when something ain’t working, it really feels like WORK!


      After the 10th unsuccessful draft of the story, I realized I had to let it go. It was a really hard thing to do. I felt like a failure. How could I have wasted so much time on a story? Why couldn’t I salvage this thing?!!! I had to take a step back and have a chat with myself. . .

     Q: “What is the essence, the emotional core of the story?”

     A: “I want to tell a story that celebrates trees”.

     Q: “Who are you writing for?”

     A: “Little kids and families”

     Q: “What do kids like to celebrate?”

     A: “Their BIRTHDAYS!”

     Q: “How about a birthday party for a tree?”

     A: “BINGO!!!”

In this frame of mind, I wrote “Happy Birthday Maple” in one sitting. It was a joy to write. Didn’t feel like work at all.

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A Birthday with the trees!


The Quirky Turkey

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How To Let your Quirks Fly:

LET'S FACE IT. . . We all have a quirk. There is no such thing as “normal”. Sometimes we feel like we need to hide these weird parts of ourselves, especially in social situations including… holiday gatherings. Holidays are another one of those schemas that feel completely different when you are a child versus when you are an adult. I don’t know about you but I LOVED the holidays as a child. I loved seeing my family, eating big meals, having more than one dessert option, listening to music, and shaking my TAIL-FEATHER!!! 

      I'm not sure when it happened, but as I grew older things have slowly shifted. I feel more stress, more anxiety associated with holidays, and family gatherings. Maybe because of the expectations I have of myself and of others. Maybe I just want these things to feel as amazing as they did when I was a little girl. Maybe instead of trying to live up to an ideal or fit into a mold, I just need to be brave. Just be me. I’m going to try and take more steps forward. I’m trying to let more of my “quirks” out. Feel the freedom that I had as a child to be myself.

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     Since starting Story Spectacular. I have heard from people all over who are connecting back to their childhood through my stories and songs. I am so thankful for this. Anyone reading this note, I am thankful for you too. Now come on everybody, let your quirks out. It’s time to celebrate!

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Come on . . . get QUIRKY!!!