Gift Guide for I Am a Gifted Musician

I Am a Gifted Musician: Affirmations for New Players of Music contains 50 positive self-talk statements that new musicians can recite, believe in, and practice daily. I wrote this book after seeing so many people (adults especially) become very critical of their playing ability in the early stages. We need to be kind to ourselves as we are learning and this book helps to provide encouragement with affirmations, illustrations, and journal prompts.

I have also made a companion journal to go along with this book. You can use this to record your journal prompt responses and other details about your musical journey. The pages feature a thumbnail (color) illustration of one of the musicians from the book mentioned above. This pair would make a great gift for anyone new to music.

How to Read Music in 30 Days by Matthew Ellul is a book I found to be very helpful when I started to learn how to read music. There are written examples, listening sections, and written exercises that are extremely thorough. This would make a great gift as well and will continue to be a reference book in any new musician’s library.

I’ve designed this tote bag in my TeePublic store, along with other fun merchandise based on the illustrations I created for the book. Featuring a collage of musicians, this tote will be perfect for carrying your books and music accessories to practices and jam sessions.

I hope the gift guides I’ve shared this week help you with some ideas for your friends and loved ones this Christmas season! If you have any questions, you can contact me at contact@createdbysusan.com

(The above links are affiliate links, meaning I can earn a small commission from any sales at no additional cost to you. I thank you for your support!)

Gift Guide for Danger Zones, Underpants Dances, and Colon Funerals

Today I am featuring another one of my books with a few gift ideas for your gift recipient this Christmas!

Danger Zones, Underpants Dances, and Colon Funerals: Poems and Illustrations on My Life with Ulcerative Colitis is the story of my journey with ulcerative colitis and surgery to remove my colon. It features some funny poems and illustrations I created as humor is something that helped me through the whole experience. Do you have a friend who deals with IBD? This may be a perfect gift for your friend. It always helps to know you aren’t alone in your struggles.

You may want to pair this book with a nice journal for your friend to write down some of their own thoughts about their experience with IBD. I love this Paperage Lined Notebook that comes in all sorts of fun colors. It’s one of those hardcover journals that is just a treat to write in.

What better to go with the notebook than journaling pens? The iBayam Journal Pens are my favorite set. There are 18 different colors and they write beautifully. And the price is right, too!

You can also download this inexpensive printable of one of my illustrations from my book, Surrounded by God’s Blue Sky: Christian Affirmations for Chronic Pain. The Spectacular Sunflower can be a reminder for your friend of how strong they are. You can add a simple picture frame and have a gift ready to go.

I hope this has given you some ideas for gifts that would pair well with this book. Stay tuned! Tomorrow I will feature another book!

(The above Amazon links are affiliate links, meaning I can earn a small commission from any sales at no additional cost to you. I thank you for your support!)

Gift Guide for Ukulele Expressions

Today I am featuring my book Ukulele Expressions: Illustrated Ukulele Fingerstyle Etudes for the Picking Hand, along with a few other gift ideas that would pair well with it in case you want to give your friend a gift basket, gift bag, etc.

Ukulele Expressions focuses on instrumental music that can be played using only one hand – no fretting! Ten pieces of music are set to a nature theme as paintings of nature scenes I created are paired with them. This is perfect for an advanced beginner or experienced player.

You can pair this book with the other two books in the series. Ukulele Expressions: Ocean Adventure and Ukulele Expressions: Low G Animals in Art are sure to keep your friend busy with music for a long time to come. The music is perfect for anyone who experiences hand pain in their fretting hand and gives them the opportunity to still play beautiful music.

The D’Addario Tri-Action Ukulele Capo would pair well with any of these books since you need a capo for some of the musical pieces. I love this capo because it is easy on my hand. I can open it and put it around the neck of the ukulele with ease. And it is adjustable so you can have just the right amount of tension on the strings.

A tuner is essential for playing the pieces in Ukulele Expressions since the tunings change every few songs. The Snark ST-8 Super Tight Clip-On Tuner is my favorite. It is very reliable!

Lastly, this Hawaiian Hibiscus Ukulele Strap by Cloudmusic would be a fun gift for any ukulele player. It is fun to collect straps and change them out and they can be a reflection of the player’s personality.

I hope these ideas have been helpful! If you have any questions, you can always contact me at contact@createdbysusan.com. Tomorrow I will share another one of my books!

(The above links are affiliate links, meaning I can earn a small commission from any sales at no additional cost to you. I thank you for your support!)

Gift Guide for Ink Sketches for Wellness

Today I am featuring another one of my books, Ink Sketches for Wellness: Poems on My Life with Invisible Disabilities. In this book, I paint a picture of my life with chronic health conditions. Laughter and silliness have helped me through the dark times. Sketches accompany poems that describe my experiences. This would be a perfect gift for anyone going through a tough time with chronic medical conditions. The following are some additional gift ideas that would pair well with the book if you’d like to give a variety of gifts as a gift basket or gift bag.

The Canson XL Mixed Media Sketchbook would be perfect for your friend to sketch their own doodles and ideas about their illness and experiences. I love this paper because it can handle some water without crinkling the pages too badly. The paper is nice and smooth, and bright, too.

The Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens are black and waterproof. I love outlining my sketches with this pen. Your friend will love how smoothly they write, too! This is a nice, assorted pack.

This Paperage Lined Journal is such a nice size. I love the portability of this journal. Your friend can write their own poems and ideas down in this journal! It comes in a wide variety of colors, too.

This collection of gifts will surely surprise your friend and the book may be comforting since it shows them they aren’t alone in their journey.

Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post. I will feature another one of my books along with more gift ideas!

(The above links are affiliate links, meaning I can earn a small commission from any sales at no additional cost to you. I thank you for your support!)

Gift Guide for Surrounded by God’s Blue Sky

The Christmas season is here! All this week I will be featuring my books along with other gift ideas that would pair well with them, in case you want to give a gift basket, gift bag, etc.

Today I am featuring my book, Surrounded by God’s Blue Sky: Christian Affirmations for Chronic Pain. This is full of encouragement in the form of art and Christian affirmations. 50 positive self-talk statements that you can recite and take to heart are included along with journal prompts to help explore your relationship with pain. 50 watercolor nature sketches I created are also included.

I have also created the Surrounded by God’s Blue Sky Companion Journal to go along with the book. This has 120 lined pages with images from the original book lightly displayed in the background of each page. It’s perfect for writing down your journal prompt responses.

You can also use a sketchbook for your journal responses and create watercolor nature sketches. The book has a brief lesson on how to create a watercolor nature sketch. I love using this Canson XL Mixed Media Sketchbook. The paper can handle some water and any crinkling that happens quickly flattens out once the book is closed for a while.

A simple watercolor set is perfect for the beginner as well. This Nicpro Watercolor Paint Set is fun and has a lot of different colors. You can create so many different nature scenes by playing around and mixing the colors.

If you would like to add black lines to the nature sketches, I recommend the Faber Castell Pitt Pens. These are waterproof so you can outline your sketch and still add watercolors on top of it.

There you have it! These five gifts would make any recipient so pleased to have them! The journal, sketchbook, watercolor paint set, and waterproof pens pair perfectly with Surrounded by God’s Blue Sky.

Keep an eye out for my next post tomorrow where I will be featuring another book and a few more gift ideas!

(The above links are affiliate links, meaning I can earn a small commission from any sales at no additional cost to you. I thank you for your support!)

How I Said Goodbye to My Colon with an Imaginative Funeral

When I was younger, I remember having little funerals for my goldfish that would occasionally die. I would have a toilet-side service with the fish scooper-upper and wipe a few tears as I said goodbye before the big flush. Fast forward years later and I never thought I would be imagining holding a funeral for a major part of my body. This turned out to be one of the most therapeutic aspects of my life with ulcerative colitis and surgery to remove my colon. If you live with inflammatory bowel disease, I want you to know that you aren’t alone, and it is possible to find humor to get you through the most challenging moments of the disease.

My struggle with ulcerative colitis began roughly four years ago. I tried numerous treatments and never found anything that controlled the disease well. I felt like I was captive in my home, always chained to the bathroom, and afraid to venture out. Ulcerative colitis can involve rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, and urgency to use the bathroom. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. My disease progressed rapidly toward the end, and I remember being so sick that I couldn’t eat or drink anything. Everything caused me problems. I was growing more frustrated and depressed.

The final ER visit before my colon surgery would lead to a two-week stay in the hospital. I begged the doctors to help me, and I knew the end was near for my colon. Because I was so malnourished, I was on a special nutrition line before my surgery (called a TPN Line or Total Parenteral Line) so that I could be healthy enough for the surgery. I had a lot of time on my hands in the hospital. I had a small sketchbook that my mom brought to me, and I would draw the beautiful flowers that sat in a vase by the window, along with calming images like waterfalls.

As I began thinking about the upcoming surgery, I thought about how glad I would be to be rid of my colon! It gave me nothing but problems by that time and I was happy to see it go. In fact, I imagined a grand send-off for it! I envisioned a lavish funeral for my colon with a fancy casket and towering flowers in vases. As I lay in my hospital bed, trying to put down a rough sketch, I pictured my colon in the casket on a fluffy white pillow. I instantly began laughing, which made the fear and uncertainty of the surgery a little easier to bear. I started telling myself that on surgery day, I would have this funeral for my colon while I was under anesthesia. I finished the tiny drawing of my colon and kept that sketchbook near me so that I would be reminded to laugh.

When I woke up from the surgery and was moved to the ICU, I shared the sketch and funeral idea with a couple of my nurses. They thought it was funny, too, and began telling others about it. I don’t think they had ever heard of someone giving their colon a funeral! But this funeral was just what I needed at that time to get through the challenging feelings and emotions I was experiencing.

Once I was home from the hospital, I worked on a full-color version of my colon funeral sketch and wrote a poem and even a ukulele song about it. In fact, I would add quite a few poems to the collection I had started at the beginning of my disease. I combined all my poems and drawings into a book so that it could help others see there is plenty to laugh about with inflammatory bowel disease. It may not seem like it at first, but if you look for the funny moments in your everyday experiences, it can help make you feel lighter. It can ease the burden of the disease and provide some comic relief.

Humor is a great way to get through such a terrible disease that is typically met with shame, fear, and uncertainty. Find those funny moments and let your imagination run wild. You can keep your musings private or share them with friends and family. What might your write or draw about inflammatory bowel disease that can keep you laughing?

My book Danger Zones, Underpants Dances, and Colon Funerals: Poems and Illustrations on My Life with Ulcerative Colitis is available on Amazon. You can check that out here.

(This post contains an affiliate link which means I can earn a small commission on products purchased.)

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Original Illustrations Available as Digital Downloads

My original illustrations are now available as Digital Downloads on the website, Payhip. You can download the jpg file, print it out on heavyweight paper or cardstock (for best results), add a picture frame, and hang it or give it as a gift! I have Christmas illustrations available, like my collection of forest animals preparing the forest for Christmas, as well as illustrations from some of my books. The best part is that they are very inexpensive. There is something for everyone!

Click here to check out my Payhip store. And thank you for your support!

5 Star Review for Surrounded by God’s Blue Sky

I was thrilled to see that Surrounded by God’s Blue Sky: Christian Affirmations for Chronic Pain received a 5 Star Review from Readers’ Favorite. This is a book review site for authors by authors. You can read the review below or check it out on Readers’ Favorite here. If you are an author, check out Readers’ Favorite for book reviews, contests, and more.

This post contains an affiliate link, meaning I receive a small commission from any purchases made.

Reviewed by Philip Van Heusen for Readers’ Favorite

Surrounded by God’s Blue Sky: Christian Affirmations for Chronic Pain by Susan Montgomery is a book of encouragement and healing. Having suffered from chronic pain since the early ‘70s, I found this book most delightful. The fact that it contains both affirmations and Scripture is strengthening. In addition, Susan understands the value of journaling, so at the end of each piece, she includes a prompt for the reader to keep a journal. Too often, people wait until the circumstances improve before starting the healing journey. Susan explains that you will never begin the trip if you wait for a more suitable time. Go ahead and plunge into the healing offered by Susan in this book. Knowing that living with chronic pain is challenging and demanding, Susan desires to encourage with the words of affirmation and the comfort of Scripture.

One key ingredient to journaling is to include gratitude, which is a powerful healer and can change how we view our circumstances. As you journal, concentrate on the good that is happening in your life and around you. God is always blessing us if we just take the time to notice. Even during Susan Montgomery’s pain, she motivates others in Surrounded by God’s Blue Sky. We, too, can encourage others through our suffering. Apart from being a creative writer, Susan is a talented artist. She includes her artwork in this book and encourages her readers to start creating art. You can create art from within even if you can’t draw a straight line. Allow Susan to motivate you and inspire you to encourage others.

5 Star Review for Ukulele Expressions

Ukulele Expressions: Illustrated Ukulele Fingerstyle Etudes for the Picking Hand recently received a 5 Star Review from Readers’ Favorite. This is a book review and contest site for authors by authors. You can read the review below or check out the page on Readers’ Favorite here. If you are an author, check out Readers’ Favorite for book reviews, contests, and more.

This post contains an affiliate link, meaning I receive a small commission from any purchases made.

Reviewed by Diana Lopez for Readers’ Favorite

Music is an art that allows us to relax and enjoy the moment, and Susan Montgomery has a motivating story to tell readers about the ukulele. She liked to play music and although she injured her left hand, it didn’t discourage her from playing. Instead, she focused on improving her one-handed skills and composed musical pieces with relaxing melodies. This inspired her to write Ukulele Expressions: Illustrated Ukulele Fingerstyle Etudes for the Picking Hand. Etudes are short compositions designed to improve a technique. Susan used the concept to create her one-handed Etudes. Her book demonstrates her creative nature through her paintings and compositions.

Susan Montgomery is a multifaceted person with a creative mind who shares with us her skills as an author, composer, and painter. Ukulele Expressions is well organized. Susan first recounts her history and explains basic music theory. She then demonstrates her artistic side through paintings and sheet music. All the illustrations are colorful and focus on nature. The music she composed is relaxing and the sheet music is in both TAB and standard notation. This allows beginners to play the melodies more easily. With these arrangements, you don’t need to know how to read music to play the ukulele, although she explains the procedure in detail. She includes a short explanation of musical symbols and hand positions. I recommend this book for beginners and intermediate levels alike.

“Laugh About It!” Journal Prompts to Help You Laugh About Chronic Illness

In celebration of my new book, Danger Zones, Underpants Dances, and Colon Funerals: Poems and Illustrations on My Life with Ulcerative Colitis, I am offering a FREE PDF download of “Laugh About It!” Journal Prompts when you sign up for my monthly newsletter, Susan’s SideNotes. I created ten humorous journal prompts to help remind you to keep finding the funny moments in your life with chronic illness. These humorous prompts are meant to be a starting point for even more creativity. You can create poems, drawings, short stories, songs, and more! If you need any help or have any comments, you can always email me at contact@createdbysusan.com You can read more about my new book here!

This post contains an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission from any purchases made through this link.