The Three E’s

Education, Education, and Education.
Oh, yeah, and education.
I love learning! And I recently had the perfect opportunity at the Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference. The theme? The Muse Cruise. It doesn’t get much better than that. 🙂

Below is the new director at the podium while the retiring director takes it easy on the lounge chair.

IMG_1083

Below is a photo of the keynote speaker, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Cynthia Swanson, who gave an incredibly motivating speech about successful writers at every age. Gives the older writers (ahem…like myself) hope that it’s never too late and to just keep on keepin’ on. Cynthia’s book, The Bookseller, is soon to be a motion picture starring Julia Roberts.

NCW Conf.2

Below is the bio of another fabulous presenter, Jordan Rosenfeld. Her bio speaks for itself. I attended Jordan’s class on How to Plot Your Novel Scene by Scene. Fantastic!

 

IMG_1082

Below is thriller author LS Hawker. I attended two of her classes, Social Media Marketing: Bookbub Ads, Facebook Ads, & Book Trailers, and also Writing a Thriller that Readers Can’t Put Down. All amazing information! She really knows her stuff and isn’t afraid to share!IMG_1071

Below is Steven Dunn, again whose bio speaks for itself. He taught a class on How to Get Sentences to Feel Like What They Describe. He used passages from his own work and let me tell you, they were powerful!

IMG_1076

Below is Jovan Mays, another keynote speaker. Jovan’s passion for poetry and family was contagious and touching. He had every person’s full attention and respect. Such an incredible man!

IMG_1098

 

I also attended two classes by the amazing Angie Hodapp, who I’ve mentioned in prior posts. I literally cannot get enough of her presentations. I can listen to the same one several times and still learn something new.

I always come away from conferences feeling so inspired and motivated. Last weekend I managed to get my WIP (work in progress), Abby’s Retribution, book two in the Whispering Pines duology, off to my beta readers. With that off my plate for the time being, I’m knee deep in reviewing the audio files for Shear Murder, book four in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, which my narrator sent to me a couple of weeks ago.

With another Camp NaNo coming in July, at which time I’ll be revising Shear Fear, book five in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, I’ve got my work cut out for me and a whole lot of tools in my belt with which to do it, thanks to conferences and writing classes.

Have you been to any writing conferences? What was your biggest take away?

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. -Pele

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.

IMG_0268IMG_0267

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

IMG_0258

IMG_0259

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.

IMG_0312

IMG_0313

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

IMG_0266

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

IMG_0295

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

IMG_0294

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

IMG_0303

Any other Cemetery Tourists out there?

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

 

 

Like What You Do; Choose What You Love

Like What You Do; Choose What You Love

What may appear to be a small difference between two things can lead to a significant difference in the ultimate enjoyment of something.

Examples that immediately come to mind include:

  • While a cup of coffee from Starbucks and a cup of Folgers are both coffee, there is a distinct difference between the two.
  • Nikon and Canon cameras both have obvious similarities, yet each has characteristics unique to each.
  • A Kindle and a Nook are both e-readers, but each has their distinct differences.
  • Liking what you choose to do vs. choosing to do what you like.

When I was a new mom I signed up to take an online journalism/short story writing course. I absolutely loved every moment of that course and should have kept my love for that in mind as I traveled blindly on the highway of life over the next couple of decades. However, since I already had my cosmetology license, it was more practical to find work in a salon and make instant money as I raised my children. Since money is an obvious necessity, especially while raising children, making instant money made sense and was the responsible thing to do.

As life passed by and the needs of my family changed, my boys’ dad worked, earning enough money to support our family.  I was able to stay home with my boys and provided daycare for a few children to supplement that income. While the children napped or during quiet times, when I could have been writing, I found myself whiling away the time by doing other things like cleaning up after a house full of children. Necessary? Yes. But I could have squeezed in a few minutes of writing throughout the day or after my children were tucked in for the night. Instead, I only thought about it.

As my children grew, I changed jobs to best accommodate their schedules. Never did I think to practice my writing skills by actually writing. Rather, I spent that time with even more dreaming of the day that I could write again.

As my children continued to grow, I survived through a divorce by working where I needed to in order to best accommodate my children’s schedules and to make instant money. It never occurred to me to actually write simply because I enjoyed it. Once again, I pushed that dream to the back of my mind for a later date when I would have the time.
That “time” never appeared as I continued my education for things that were more practical. Things I had a tendency at which to excel.  I took a medical transcription class not because I  loved to transcribe medical terminology, but because my typing skills were fast and accurate and because I wanted to work out of my home. That worked until life circumstances pushed me to get a job outside of my home.

When I landed a job in the legal profession and learned I had the capacity to do well at that, I decided to go back to school to receive my Associates of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. It was a wonderful opportunity that made sense, because my job provided a  tuition reimbursement program, which meant as long as I maintained a 4.0 GPA the entire program was paid for with the exception of books. So, essentially, I received a free degree. It was something I did because I could. Not because it was my dream. And while that education is something no one can ever take away from me and something I can always use, it wasn’t what I loved. I liked what I did, but I didn’t choose to do what I love.

I liked what I did, but I didn’t choose to do what I love.

Since then, I work at a job that does not require that degree. A job that I truly like, nonetheless, but it’s a job that I chose, not a job that chose me.

pen

The difference is, in addition to my paying job, I now choose to write, the one thing that truly brings me joy. It’s something I’ve done–or dreamed of doing–throughout my entire life. Something that breathes air into my lungs and gives me life. Not something that takes my energy away, but something that gives me energy. And that, in turn, has breathed life into the job I do by day. And, hey, now that I’ve pursued my passion of writing, I even make money at doing what I love. Bonus!

It’s important to like what you do, but it’s critical to do what you love.

DSC_0023

Thankful Thursday – The Luxury of Education

education

 

 

 

I was at a COVA (Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance) Conference for work up in the mountains this week, in beautiful Keystone, Colorado. While I sat on the balcony of my hotel room writing this it occurred to me–right after I recovered from the surprise of looking up and seeing a big, fat, black crow with an imposing fat beak and beady eyes, like he came directly from a Halloween horror movie, sitting and staring at me from no more than five feet away, which led me to finish this inside of my hotel room — that education is something so many of us take for granted, while it is truly a luxury.

The classes I attended ranged in diversity from The Victims of Cults to Elder Abuse and Mandatory Reporting to A Survivor’s Story of Trauma and Beyond, followed by walks around beautiful Keystone Lake and on trails in the woods to digest, ponder, and process the information.  And as I walked I realized those classes taught me far more than what they were intended to.  Not only were they educational for my career, but for life in general.

Keystone Lake

 

 

The top educational takeaways I received from the conference are:

1.)  Five people can hear the same exact words, but depending on where each is in life, or what each is going through, there will be five different perceptions of the same message.  For instance, years ago I heard an instructor say that after a crime, the victim will never return to normal as s/he once knew normal to be, but s/he will develop a new normal.  As someone who works with victims of crime, that insight had always stayed with me.  However, when I found myself the victim become survivor of a crime, I struggled to make sense of that sentence, and it meant something completely different.

When we, the class participants, spoke with one another between classes or at meal times, it was educational in and of itself what each got from the same class. One conversation made me feel like we were in different classes, when in reality we were hearing the same speaker at the same time.

2.)  Each and every person has so much to bring to the table–diversity, backgrounds, experiences, perspectives–that rather than cut your own experience and opportunity to learn off at the knees, limiting your potential growth, accept each person for exactly who they are, appreciating what they’re bringing to the table, rather than close your mind by judging them as different. Fight the urge to judge, and allow each difference to enrich your life.

3.)  Something a very dear friend once told me, and that was reinforced by listening to conference speakers and participants: Sometimes what we go through in life seems hard because it IS hard. Simple as that.

4.)  When the end of something fun is nearing (ie: the last evening/day of the conference, the last couple days of a vacation, the senses awaken, trying to experience all one possibly can, so as not to waste a single minute. Since each day of one’s life is one day closer to the last, none of us knowing when that day will be, wouldn’t it benefit us to live each day as if it were the last, living and experiencing life to fullest?

5.)  Your past does not need to determine your present or your future.  You have the control to make the choice to change and make your life a better place.

6.)  Not wanting to hang with the group does not make one “anti-social” or a “snob”.  Some people are truly comfortable with their own company and enjoy processing life in a solitary manner or with close friends and family.  The next time you see someone sitting alone in a restaurant or at a movie, don’t pity them and assume they’re lonely. Chances are good they are there alone by choice.

A close up portrait of one of the many jackdaw...

 

 

By the time I had finished writing this, the earlier mentioned crow kept flying low over my balcony, eventually perching in a space all too close to the chair I had been planted in only a moment before.  It would have served him well to read number six–I was alone by choice, and his company was not welcome. 🙂

All is Grace