A Grave Interest

My husband and I went on our first vacation in three years (other than visiting family). Destination? Taos, New Mexico. Between the arts and the history, it fed both of our interests. Of note was how often they go hand in hand.

Something I’ve taken a particular interest in is old cemeteries. I love the architecture, carvings, and creativity in the headstones. I enjoy reading the names and any identifying information written there–or lack thereof. Taos had several cemeteries to feed this interest of mine.

With Taos known as the art community it is, I was elated to discover the grave of the woman who helped establish it as such. This particular cemetery is very old, as can be seen in several of the other photos, but it’s apparent that Ms. Luhan has had many recent visitors.

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Kit Carson’s headstone (below). He’s buried next to his third wife, Josefa Jaramillo, with whom he had eight of his ten children.

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The headstone below was a little confusing. Given the fact Kit Carson had been married three times and had ten children in all, I spent some time trying to figure out why it said he only had one grandson. Until I realized the correct message is “Only Grandson Serving WWI and WWII.” Now that made a lot more sense!

Of special interest is the different opinions people there hold of Kit Carson, whether he was good or bad. I personally believe it’s not that black and white and that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

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The grave below, neglected as it is, saddened me. It made me wonder if their extended family even knows they’re buried here.

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In the photo below, notice the urn sitting on top of the ground, the thin slab of marble simply leaning against the tree.

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This was perhaps the most unique headstone. Unfortunately, the engraving was too faded to read.

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The simple crosses were eerily poignant. Many of the burial sites were bordered with concrete or individual fences.

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Any other Cemetery Tourists out there?

The richest person in the cemetery is the one who left the most happy memories.
― Matshona Dhliwayo

 

 

“C” is for…

 

cre·a·tiv·i·ty

[kree-ey-tiv-i-tee, kree-uh] 

noun

1. the state or quality of being creative.
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.

I LOVE #2.  To transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns…to create new ideas, forms, methods…

Transcend means to go above and beyond what’s traditional.  It drives my adrenaline into high gear as if I’m breaking the rules, yet not doing anything illegal.  (My day-job is in the legal field, I can’t be doing anything illegal.  And my Judge is none other than Christ himself–I wouldn’t want to purposely disappoint Him. 🙂 ) But I would be lying if I said being untraditional didn’t make me feel just a little bit…rebellious.  And I have to admit I was always the one who loved the narrow college-ruled notebooks but would get a little thrill from writing outside of the lines or in the margins.  Or I would strive to color inside the lines so I could get the teacher’s praise, but would get that familiar little thrill when I colored things colors no one else would have thought of.  It was a moment by moment guess which would emerge, the perfectionist me or the creative me.

Although, perhaps that’s more befitting for the other “C” word–CONTROL.  Oops–wrong post. 🙂

We creative types are prone to dancing to the beat of our own drummer, so maybe that’s how creative writing got it’s name.

Today I will strive to create amazing words and to color outside the lines.

Creative-Pablo Picasso

Peace to you.

NaNoWriMo 2013

NaNoWriMo is over for this year, and I reached my goal of winning–two years in a row.  While I thought I would be looking forward to taking a bit of time off from writing, instead it made me desire to adhere to my writing schedule even more.  Writing is blissfully fulfilling to me.  It’s what I do for fun, for peace, for growth.  And I believe God gave me this gift for a purpose–to honor Him.  And I am humbly grateful He chose little ole’ me to honor Him.  What a gift! 🙂

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“Relax. No, celebrate. You were meant to be on this road you’re walking. And because others have walked it before, you can do so as well—if you do not give up.

What we all have in common is our desire to tell a well-crafted story. To create characters and worlds that stand the test of time—be it one month, five years, or a hundred. So do you. Tell your story.”

— Sharon G. Flake, on soaring.

All is Grace.

Book Synopsis

      Since NaNaWriMo is just around the corner, which means the rough draft of another novel, God willing, I decided to post the synopsis to the book I’m finally finishing up.  All comments are welcome.  🙂
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The Inheritance

         When Victor and Vivian Forrester meet their unexpected fate on their way home from hosting a charity dinner, it leaves their three estranged adult children with an unexpected fate of their own.

            Madison has the perfectly planned life of which her two young children are the center, leaving no room for anything or anyone else, including her husband.  Her career as a psychiatrist enables her to validate her self-worth and give her children everything they want.  She has made a promise to herself that her children will never be without, vowing to give them the best childhood anyone could ever have.

Maxwell is a successful partner of a law firm, who is as skilled at playing the ladies as he is in the courtroom. He has long since written off his family in order to avoid having to answer to anyone.

Molly is a writer and free spirit who has lost herself in the miry pit of self-pity, claiming her title as black sheep of the family.  She tries to drown and numb the pain from years of being misunderstood by her family, only to find herself on the lowest rung of life’s ladder.

What none of them expect after the shock of their parent’s death is the shock of learning what is in the will their parents carefully constructed.  That will lists steps required by each of them before they can claim their substantial inheritance.  Those requirements take them on a journey of self-discovery and change that leads to wealth far greater than any of them had ever expected.

Minnesota Farm House

All is Grace.

Writing My Memoir

English: Typewriter "Hermes" Deutsch...

So the idea of writing my memoir has been tumbling around in my mind for a long time now. Having a tendency to cram ten lifetimes into one, I’ve experienced so many things in my life, good as well as some not-so-good (aka: mistakes), that I would like to share in the hopes of helping others get through their trials and tribulations. Even if it’s just one person I am able to reach. And even if it’s simply by letting that one person know that someone out there has experienced what they’re going through, understands them, and has overcome.

Research I’ve done revealed numerous articles which advise that in order for your memoir to be effective and worth reading, one cannot sensor what is written for fear of what people will think. That the writer cannot fear what the reader will think of them or anyone else, and the writer cannot worry about upsetting other people.

 Pen and Paper

I need to say I struggle with that concept. That being said, maybe I’m reading into those sentiments all wrong. While I don’t worry what the reader will think of me, I don’t believe it is my place, writing memoir or not, to tell someone else’s private story, even if it directly affected my life and how I grew from that connection or grew tired trying to overcome the obstacle from that connection. I would like to believe that there is a difference between writing the truth about an incident, even if someone else is involved, and throwing another under the bus. That it is possible to tell my story even where it involves others, and not hurt them in the process of telling that story.

As I finalize the last details in publishing my book, The Inheritance, and begin outlining my memoir, I think I will insert the word “Pray” at the top of every note card I prepare for each writing session. A reminder to pray and ask for God’s guidance to write the truth, to help those I can with my story, and to keep information with a potential to hurt anyone at all confidential and out of the story. Even if it’s just the name. To always remember that making the story interesting and credible means not hurting another. And that if hurting another is what it takes to make a sale, it’s no different than selling one’s soul. May my soul always belong to God.

All is Grace.

Why I Write

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Last week I received an email from the author of a blog I follow,  The Creative Penn, and the author asked her readers to think about why we write.  And that did, indeed, get me thinking…

I write because when I do, I:

*     Feel freedom and the ability to express myself in a way that nothing else can match.

*     Feel joy,  peace, and pure contentment.  Even if I’m working on a piece that doesn’t come easy, I’m in my element in the quiet     of my office with pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard, mood music playing softly on Pandora, and my mind creating whatever it happens to be creating at that moment.

Create.

 

 

 

 

 

*     Get more connected with God by making my thoughts concrete on the page, where oftentimes it’s then I can see where God is working in my life, or where I’m not, showing me I need to make myself available for more of God.

*     Am able to live vicariously through my characters–where else can one live so many different lives and have so many fun, funny, loyal, and even quirky friends? 🙂

*     Have the ability to reach and connect with other people that I wouldn’t have been able to without the magic of written words.  I’m able to connect with my sponsor kids through Compassion International, making a difference in lives in another country.  How blessed am I! I’m able to connect with readers on this blog, every one of which I am so grateful for.  It’s a magical connection that other writer’s at heart can likely understand.

*     Can turn a bad day to better from being able to escape to another world, whichever I happen to create, or by simply writing my feelings on paper, making me aware of them and then being able to let them go.

*     Spent a number of years getting too busy with life, which resulted in not writing, and I’m a much happier person when I write.

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*     Cannot imagine my life without words and story, whether handwritten or from the keyboard.  The vehicle which produces those words doesn’t matter, only the fact that I’m able to do it.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
―     Maya Angelou

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday — Autumn & New Beginnings

Autumn's Arrival

Autumn–even the word is beautiful, not to mention pleasing to all five senses.

It conjures up images of evening lamplight, candle flames flickering and dancing on walls of rooms darkening a wee bit earlier each evening, the scents of food cooking in the crockpot, fresh stewed tomatoes canning, and the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Autumn brings with it the warmth of the sun on a clear, cool day, and crisp evenings in the rocker on the porch with a soft, warm blanket and a cup of herbal tea.

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It brings afternoons of fun, laughter, and exercising together as a family while raking leaves into huge piles in which to jump and bury one another.

It’s a time where the trees’ clothing magically turns from green to multiple hues of fire orange, golden yellow, and vibrant red–the hallmark of Autumn–as well as the scent of those changing and fallen leaves, the fullness and completeness of summer. The closing of one book and opening of another.

And that new book contains so many new beginnings. Fresh starts. Its energy breathes new life into my bones, hot and tired from the heat and busyness that tends to take over summer before we even know what happened.

It’s the start of preparing my home for cozy evenings spent in front of the fireplace, hot apple cider while reading a good book on the back porch, wool sweaters, and those soft and comfy hoodies.

Walks in the woods, dried, fallen leaves swirling around my feet and crunching under each step, the woodsy smell and earth’s aroma as nature, too, readies itself for sleep in order to prepare for a new season. The chill in the breeze making rosy circles on smiling cheeks.

Autumn seems to be the start of a new writing season for me. It’s the time I plan–the stories and a writing schedule that will carry me through the winter. Also planning my next NaNoWriMo project. And though it means a schedule, it’s a feeling of coming home to that place I find freedom, warmth, security, and even exhilarating madness that somehow feels comforting.

It’s the beginning of a new holiday season, of time spent with family and friends, the annual conference for my day job in the breathtaking mountains of Keystone, Colorado, as well as a Writers Retreat in a serene retreat center snuggled in the Rockies, the latter being a first time adventure. A new beginning.

Leaves Under Water

It feels like God is especially close in the Autumn season, His presence surrounding every side of me and His blessings interwoven in every aspect of my life. And as I breathe in His magnificent presence, I bathe in the glow of His goodness. And I am so grateful.

All is Grace.

When I Just Don’t Feel Like Writing

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

Whether it’s revising my novel, journaling, blogging, or writing letters to the children I sponsor through Compassion International, I try to do some sort of writing every day. But truth be told, some days I just simply don’t feel like writing. And from reading what other writers have to say, I’m not alone in that area. It extends well beyond the perimeter of my own limited space. What I can say from reflecting on my experience, however, is that it usually comes from complacency.

I’ve compiled some ideas on how I can forge beyond that barrier of resistance.

Visualize the End Result

If I visualize the final product of what it is I’m about to write, it usually can motivate me enough to at least get me to the keyboard, which can be the hardest part. And from there, it gets much easier. If it’s revising my novel, I visualize being that much closer to being done and what that will feel like. I imagine what it will look like when I’ve completed the revision, or better yet, the entire process of writing the book, reminding myself that getting my bottom in that chair and my fingers on the keyboard are the only things that can make that happen. If it’s writing to my sponsor children, I visualize their smiles when they receive the letters, the joy it brings to their precious hearts, and suddenly my not wanting to write seems so small in comparison.

A Reward for Reaching the Agreed Upon Goal

I’m not above bribing, and that includes myself. Whether it’s dark chocolate, a computer game, surfing the Internet, napping–whatever it takes to get me to my computer. Once I’m there, I’m usually home free.

Write Something Fun

Create a scene in my novel that I’ve been looking forward to writing, even though it may not be what happens next. it still counts as words written and has, on occasion, motivated me to write more from there.

 Enjoy Other Forms of Media

Read, read, read. Read work by an author I aspire to emulate, motivational writing articles in magazines or on-line. Personally, I try to keep the Internet as a last resort, because my lack of self-discipline can sometimes lead to surfing, and that does nothing but rob me of time rather than inspire creativity. Watch movies while thinking of plot–or subplot–ideas. Movies such as The Jane Austen Book Club and The Words particularly inspired me.

Please share with us what works for you.

Thankful Thursday -The Smallest Hope

provoking sunrise

Recently I was laid up with an unexpected illness, accompanied by a level of pain I can’t ever remember experiencing.  On the third day I woke feeling relieved of the pain.  Until I tried to ride my bike and walk, both of which were not possible, as it brought the pain back full force.  However, what was a constant, won’t-let-up pain, did let up for a couple of hours.  And those couple of hours gave me strength, relief, and hope to carry on when the pain got bad again.  God knew what I needed and He provided.

This experience brought to mind other areas in which the smallest hope is glossed over as coincidence or not recognized at all.

When fretting over something I’ve said or done, something I try not to do but also something I have yet to master, and I’m caught in the middle of inner torment, that moment comes when I realize that God is all I need to please and the burden disintegrates into dust particles.

When in the middle of writer’s block or a stand-still in my writing life and that story idea pops out of nowhere, flashing through my conscious.

When guilt makes its ugly way into my writing time, telling me that’s time that should be spent doing something “important” and “worthwhile,” and then comes that comment from a friend or stranger telling me that something I wrote made such a difference to them.

When it’s been a gloomy, rainy spell and the sun decides to peek from behind the clouds for the briefest of moments, it’s rays creating the most beautiful iridescent streamers of light reaching all the way to the mountaintops.

When it’s been a long, dark, cold winter, and finally that burst of green comes through the thawing earth, showing the promise and hope of spring.

Crocus in Snow

When it’s been a difficult week at work, lots of noise, angry callers and co-workers, and then that afternoon happens that all is silent–the phones, the people, even the background noise.

When it’s been a morning, a day, a week, of feeling painful insecurity, and someone decides to make a comment about nice you look, how much you mean to them, or gives you a hug out of nowhere, letting you know you are valued.

When I’ve had a restless night, complete with unsettling dreams, and when reading the Bible during quiet time the next morning and the absolutely perfect Bible verse is laid out before me, lifting me up.

During these moments of hope, is my mind saying “It’s about time” or “Thank you.”  Each phrase is short, simple, yet place the heart in opposite hemispheres.  One shows the heart to be connected to oneself, while the other shows the heart to be connected to God.  One is negative, one is positive.  It’s all in how we choose to live and see life.  Glass half-empty or glass half-full.

Entitled or grateful.

Gratitude changes everything

Today I choose to be grateful.  And, God willing, tomorrow too.  But right now all I have is today.

Thank you God.

All is Grace