The Lure of Bookstores

IMG_1612

Anyone remember B. Dalton, Waldenbooks, or Borders? If you’re a writer, you likely remember all of them well. To authors, brick and mortar bookstores are the equivalent of water to a river.

We all dream of having our books holding space on the shelves. Even before I began to take my writing seriously, I spent endless hours dreaming of that exact thing at one of the bookstores in the city in which I lived for many years. Anyone remember Media Play? It was exactly what it sounds like–a bookstore, a movie store, a music store–all things media. It was a dream!

A couple of weeks ago we were in a town that has a Barnes and Noble bookstore. My husband and I looked at each other, no words needed, and both headed in that direction. I felt like a little girl going into a toy store. The minute I opened the door the smell of books hit me full on and I thought I was about to drool. I paused for a moment and inhaled deeply before proceeding into the store.

IMG_1613

I headed for the coffee shop and ten minutes later stood in awe of all the talent from creatives that surrounded me. Memories of days past, before life became so busy, flooded my mind. At Media Play curled up in one of the chairs with a coffee and a book. At Borders camped out on the floor, sitting cross-legged in front of shelves of books, in author/reader heaven. At the mall, veering off into Waldenbooks, disappearing behind walls of books.

We didn’t stay long (it was close to closing time). But the half hour we were there, the memories, the smell of coffee and books, the sheer joy of it all, was worth far more than what we spent on the numerous books we left with.

When was the last time you were in a brick and mortar bookstore?

You see, bookshops are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power. They are, simply put, the best of places.
—Jen Campbell

The Bookshop Quote

More Visions of Summer

It’s been said that even too much of a good thing isn’t good. I disagree. I believe there’s no such thing as too much of summer’s beauty. Of drinking it in fully, with deep appreciation. Here is evidence of some of what I’ve been drinking in.

IMG_1513

IMG_1506

IMG_1512

IMG_1500

IMG_1517

IMG_1503

Incredible live entertainment along the river as we sat on a patio eating dinner for our wedding anniversary.

img_1488.jpg

It’s the simple things that are often the most beautiful.

IMG_1511

Again…simple…beautiful.

IMG_1489

A gorgeous Colorado sunrise. God’s Artwork.

With that, go forth and enjoy some summer beauty, drinking in the sights, the soft breezes, and the sounds that only summer can bring.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Making a Difference to Just One

making-a-difference-to-even-one.png

A while back a friend talked to me about her desire to make a difference in the lives of others by getting her “story” out there. That story consists of almost being murdered by her ex-husband. No one–as in not one–not even the doctors, expected her to survive. But survive she did! She’s truly a miracle. In fact she didn’t only survive, she’s by far one of the most positive, smiling, happy, and grateful people I know. Those who know her are blessed indeed.

During this talk we had, she was somewhat discouraged. She wanted to help so many and felt like she was reaching no one. Writing a book was at the top of her list, but anyone who is an author knows writing a book and getting it out there takes a long time. Because of her generous heart and caring spirit, she wanted to help people now. What she didn’t realize, and what I pointed out to her, is that she was helping people–every single day, and that each one she touches, is so important. She’s a first responder victim’s advocate, offering on-the-scene support to victims of crime. She’s won awards for all that she’s accomplished and does because of what she’s been through, using her experience for good. She speaks to groups of people, letting them know that nothing is too big to be overcome. She motivates, inspires, and brings joy.

Every. Single. Day.

Each of us that had a role in the prosecution of her case has been forever touched by her.

Fast forward nine months:

5i5x8i5_RGB_300dpi_front_cover

I got a message from her the other day that said “Oh my God, you’re Alexandra Benn!” She proceeded to tell me that her therapist lent her two books, one of which was my book that I wrote under a pseudonym, Finding Peace Through Gratitude: The Secret to Healing from Trauma and Finding Joy in Every MomentShe went on to tell me what a difference the book has made in her life and that she didn’t know it was me until she saw my picture on the back. I’d even seen a photo she posted on social media of her chair at the pool with a bottle of water and a copy of the book.

Imagine my joy. I was moved to tears. The advice I’d given her months before came back full circle. And her voicing the difference my book made to her, made a difference to me.

Anyone who has followed my blog for any length of time knows I participate in Camp NaNoWriMo every April and July. This particular July, however, I’ve been preoccupied with life–vacation to Minnesota visiting family, chaos relating to my husband’s job, and surgery last week on my heart. Progress on my Camp NaNo project just wasn’t happening. But knowing my words made such an impact on this woman, one person, was all it took to get me back to it with gusto. Will I make my Camp NaNo goal? I don’t know. But I do know that knowing my words make a difference, that they bring me such joy to write–well, my friends, that’s all that matters. That I made a difference to one. Because that one is a woman who is beyond amazing.

And now I’m back off to Camp to keep on keepin’ on, despite reaching my goal or not. Whatever I write is that much more that I didn’t have at the end of June.

I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.
-Mother Teresa

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
-Mother Teresa

Naturally Nature

More nature shots this week. Too many good ones not to share…

img_1249-copy.jpg

Even weeds can be beautiful.

IMG_1301 - Copy

Confluence Park, Denver

IMG_1300 - Copy

My favorite place to bike to in Denver. REI and Starbucks together–so perfect!

img_1251-copy.jpg

This big guy was injured. The State Park rangers came and picked him up and sent him off to rehab.

IMG_1270 - Copy

Watching me closely.

IMG_1273 - Copy

Perfectly still…

IMG_1264 - Copy

God’s Artwork

IMG_1265 - Copy

A Denver Broncos sunset.

Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself.  -L. Wolfe Gilbert

 

 

Natural Beauty

It’s time for some nature shots this week. I’ve been graced with so much beauty from nature the past couple of weeks, and I wanted to share. Sit back and enjoy… 🙂

IMG_1247

IMG_1245

IMG_1244

IMG_1190

IMG_1240

IMG_1242

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. -John Muir

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful. -Alice Walker

Honoring All Who Served

IMG_1205

Thank you to those who have given some and to those who have given all. To those who have served and to those who are. And to the families behind those who serve.

Because of you, we have our freedom and blessings far beyond anything we’d have without you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

IMG_1206

 

 

The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude. -Jeff Miller

Change Begins with One

 

 

doves

April is an exceptionally busy month in the world of criminal law. Not only does it hold National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, but it’s also Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. So for those of us who work in the criminal law arena, by the end of April, we’re all pretty much running on fumes. There’s not another month quite so exhausting, nor quite so satisfying and fulfilling. In fact, during that month, as difficult as it is, I’m pretty darn proud to be doing the work that I do.

The criminal justice system is called the criminal justice system for a reason–it’s justice for the criminal. When society thinks of the victim, it’s frequently not in a good way. Victim blaming and shaming has gotten out of control. When we’re silently thinking that the victim should have done something differently, was wearing the wrong thing, shouldn’t have been drinking–well, you get the picture–it’s blaming the victim.

The following two examples, while you may think to be a little silly, demonstrate how victim blaming happens:

Example #1: You’re house is burglarized and destroyed, your personal items trashed. Your door was unlocked and you have a nice welcome mat on your front porch. The police are called out to your house, but they respond with, “But your door was unlocked and you had a welcome mat outside your door. You invited this.”

Example #2: You’re in a diner having coffee with a friend and engaged in good conversation. The waitress asks if you would like more coffee. You tell her, yes, you would like more. You proceed to engage in conversation with her while she pours the coffee until it’s overflowing, dumping scalding hot coffee all over your lap. You jump up and complain, but the manager says, “I’m sorry, but you weren’t clear enough on when you wanted her to stop.”

Blaming the victim for what s/he was wearing, doing, saying, or NOT wearing, doing,  saying, takes the fault away from the perpetrator and places the blame on the victim.

Example #2 is not so far-fetched. Say a man or woman (yes, men can be sexually assaulted, too) gets carried away in the heat of the moment and their potentially willing partner changed his/her mind “mid-stream” and says, “NO, STOP”, whether verbally or non-verbally. Aggressors on many occasions have said it was too late–they couldn’t stop. Hmmm…If the pair are teenagers and the victim’s parents walk through the door, I bet the perpetrator would be able to stop in a hurry! Or if the victim’s six-foot-seven football star husband comes home unexpected, I bet activity would stop immediately and one of the two would make a beeline out the nearest window!

Denim Day (which is today) is a campaign that began after an Italian Supreme Court ruling overturned a rape conviction when the justices decided that since the victim’s jeans were tight she had to have helped the rapist remove them, implying consent. The next day Italian Parliament women went to work wearing jeans in support of the victim. Our office gives us the option to wear jeans every year on Denim Day. You can bet I have–and will continue to–wear mine loud and proud.

bluejeans

From one who has been a victim of sexual assault and who works with victims of crime, I believe we can change the way society sees the big picture and to put the responsibility on the perpetrator instead of the blame on the victim. I truly believe we can! And as victims survivors of crime, we can rise above what has happened. Tragedy doesn’t have to beat us down or define us, but instead we can use it to shape and change the world in which we live. As a society, let’s change how we view crime and stop victim blaming. Change begins with just one. Won’t you be that one?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. –Edward Everett Hale

And now I’m back off to Camp for the final burst of energy, finishing off Camp NaNo strong. See you on the other side.

Off to Camp

 

Ready to Roll

Reenergized & Rejuvenated

We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden.           —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Have you ever declared some time off, regardless of what other people think or do? It’s called being true to yourself and is one of the best things you can do for yourself and everyone else in your life.

In the writing world there are numerous beliefs. One widely held belief is that we “must” write every day. Another is that in order to be successful in the blogging world, one “must” adhere to a schedule.

While I believe both are important, I also believe they’re not the most important things. The MOST important is what is true for you. What fits in your life at this precise moment. I say that because our lives are fluid. Needs, priorities, available time, schedules…they all shift depending on the season you’re in at the moment. Heck, sometimes mine shift depending on the day. By trying to live someone else’s success or beliefs will only lead to struggle and burnout.

I took an extended break the past month and am all the better and healthier for it. I didn’t write hardly anything at all on my WIP (work in progress) but that doesn’t mean I left the writing life. Ideas came and went, percolating into bigger ideas that I jotted down. But I didn’t take the time to flesh them out. I simply let them wander aimlessly to see which direction they wanted to go.

I didn’t blog much, but that doesn’t mean I left it. I love the blogging community. It’s a place of online friendships and support that you can’t find anywhere else. And I’ve found peace with the fact that if I don’t blog every week, that’s okay. For me.

I didn’t read any books on the craft but that doesn’t mean I didn’t read and learn. I simply read other things, some for shear enjoyment without any hidden agenda, but in some I loosely noted style and detail.

What I did do is spend time nurturing family bonds. Growing relationships that are golden to me. I spent priceless time with my grandchildren, my grown children, and my extended family. I loved, cherished, enjoyed, and treasured every moment and will continue to do so. Every. Moment. I practiced living in the moment, keeping my mind completely present, rather than distracted by what I “should” be doing. I lived fully, feeding my soul and my spirit.

Because of that time “off”, busting out of routine, my writing life is again ready to roll. I’ve got plans to get my newsletter back on the road (if you’re interested in getting my newsletter, please email me and I’ll add you to my mailing list), I’ve submitted my project for the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo (revising book two in the Whispering Pines mystery, Abby’s Retribution), I’m signed up and ready to learn at the Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference in May, and a new mystery series is in the gestation phase.

By taking a break I didn’t lose any time, I gained it. And I gained so much more!

Do you ever go against what the majority believes to be true in order to be true to yourself?

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. -Henry David Thoreau

Oh So Grateful!

1000789_602599603108372_472059398_n

 

As I write this post, my precious almost-two-year-old granddaughter is sleeping soundly in the room next door. I know without a doubt it’s soundly because she fell asleep in my arms while I rocked her, while I carried her upstairs and lay her down, covering her with a soft blanket, and ten minutes later when I dropped a jar of blackberry jelly on a tile floor. For those who aren’t as graceful as me (a little sarcasm there) and have never done that, let me tell you it makes an earth-shattering noise that could wake the dead and sends tiny glass shards spraying across the entire kitchen floor. Shards so tiny that a broom will not sweep them and a good vacuuming is required. After which, I peeked in on my granddaughter and the angel hadn’t stirred a muscle. I can’t remember the last time I slept that well. She’s staying with me while we eagerly await the birth of her little brother or sister.

Given the magic of grandchildren, I thought this was a good time to do a gratitude post. My top three things I’m grateful for this past week are:

1.)  My grandchildren. Seeing the looks on the faces of three precious grandchildren when they wake up early in the morning to see me there because their mommy and daddy went to the hospital to give them a new little one. Time spent one-on-one with one of those precious little ones, in whose eyes and behaviors I see glimpses of her daddy, giving me the joy of memories when he was a child. And little arms that circle my neck as she presses her forehead against mine. Watching her dance with all she’s got to the song Let it Go from the movie Frozen.

2.)  A visit from my other son telling me the details of his day with such enthusiasm and passion, leaving with a hug and an “I love you, mom.” Those words are priceless.

3.)  Watching the sunrise, a crisp white blanket of a recent snowfall around me, the mountain backdrop, from the beautiful heat of a hot tub.

gratitude-1.28.19.png

What tops your gratitude meter this week?

***Update and addition to number 1: My three granddaughters have a new little sister and I have a new granddaughter. 

Child of my child, heart of my heart.
Your smile bridges the years between us…
I am young again, discovering the world through your eyes.
You have the time to listen and I have the time to spend,
Delighted to gaze at familiar, loved features made new in you again.
Through you, I see the future. Through me, you’ll see the past.
In the present, we’ll love one another as long as these moments last. ― Author Unknown