Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Day to Remember

Photo Credit:

Remembering the sacrifice of all those men and women who have gone before us who fought valiantly for our freedom, and all those who tirelessly serve every single day.

Thank you! 
We appreciate your service.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

How to...

Every story is different. Therefore, the process of writing every story is different. Or at least it is for me. I was fortunate enough to spend a big chunk of my weekend in the company of my writing friends. I'm trying to get started, trying to get traction, on a new project. A new super sekrit (because I've no idea what it will actually turn out to be so I'm afraid to talk too much about it) writing project.

Part of my process, these days, is to surf links looking for The Answer. The answer on how to make writing easy. How to make the words flow. I find information and inspiration all over the place, and then I will often print it out and carry the pages with me like a security blanket. That way, when I start writing and I run into a problem, I can pull out those pages of wisdom and maybe something there will work the trick.

Hey. I need all the security I can get these days.

On the off chance that maybe you could use a little information and or inspiration yourself, here are some of the links I've gathered...

First, the best explanation I've come across yet for why procrastinators procrastinate. Not that I would know anything about that! (She said, as she started writing her blog at 10pm on the day it was due...)

And oh, look, here's something else I know nothing about--decision paralysis!

But once you get past the procrastination and the paralysis, you might need to know how to increase your output. This is a good place to start.

And once you've got the words flowing, this is a good place to look for help on building your story.

In the end, of course, the answer is to start writing.

Right now, for me, that's easier said than done...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother's Heart

This is a tribute to mothers everywhere and a tribute to my mother who died almost sixteen years ago at the age of forty-nine after a prolonged battle with juvenile diabetes. Now, at almost forty-seven myself, I realize just how young she was when she died. It was hard on all of us and I think this is the first time I’ve ever really been able to write about her. For many years, Mother’s Day was difficult, almost unbearable, for me. Even though I had babies of my own when my mom passed away, Mother’s Day had become a painful reminder that I’d lost mine. It was a memorial day reminding me of the spectacular, loving woman who was no longer part of my life. A touchstone to my grief.

However, as I thought about it this year, I see that my mother does live on. In me, and in my children, because she gave me a mother’s heart. So I wanted to share with you what I learned from my mother. And everything she gave to me, I have passed on to my three boys.

First, my mother taught me to love. Honestly, she was the most sensitive, intuitive woman I've ever known. It was from her that I learned to navigate the sometimes scary, often riotous, always complicated mine fields of personal relationships with my friends, family, boyfriends, teachers, and my husband. It’s from her I learned that you must always tell someone you love them and never take it for granted. People matter. Every single one of them. Do what you can to let them know how important they are in your life. And if you've got a problem, you talk it out. You didn't hide.

Second, from her, I learned emotion is good and passion is healthy. Emotion wasn't something you feared. Being human gave you the ability to live life passionately. She didn't hide her emotions from us--her compassion, her generosity, her love, her joy, her sadness, her anger, her bitterness, her gratitude, her courage. None of it. So I learned not to stuff those emotions away when they came along. To never fear them. I could experience them and learn to understand them. Bottom line, she taught me emotional intelligence and the importance of authenticity. And that passion was the life-breath of the heart.

Third, I gained an understanding that what you do with your emotions is important. Even though you were allowed to experience and express your emotions freely, you weren't free to hurt others. You had a responsibility to take care of those around you, those you loved. And, most importantly, you didn't use those experiences as an excuse to wallow or stagnate. You pushed through, despite your circumstances.

Fourth, I learned to fight for what you want. My mom was the consummate feisty, strong-willed woman. She was a fighter. Even to the end, with all the complications she faced and the suffering, she fought hard for what she wanted--to live life fully. From her, I've gained a tenacity to keep fighting for what I want most. Life takes a lot of courage. Fighting for what you want is not easy, but it’s necessary for your happiness.

Fifth, and finally, I was taught that strong women work hard but still know how to enjoy life. My mom was the oldest daughter in the family of eight kids. From an early age, she helped take care of her siblings. She married young--right out of high school. So work was not foreign to her. She’d always known it, and labored hard over the years to help my dad provide for us--to give my brother and me everything we needed to succeed. But there’s not a time I don’t remember her being there with us, sitting on the front porch, talking, enjoying the moment, and really listening. So while she worked hard, she lived in the moment. Always fully present. That’s a great lesson.

So here’s to all the mothers out there who give so much of themselves every day without even realizing they’re instilling a mother’s heart into their kids. Thank you. Thanks for the lessons you provide that carry us through a lifetime. We love you and thank you!

Tell us a treasured lesson you learned from you mom.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Walk in the Woods

It is Spring here on the East Coast. Pollen is falling as thickly as the snow fell this winter. My car is now a gilded grey color, shimmering in the strong afternoon sun. My sinuses are packed tight, and mostly, I want to sleep, even with the weeds in my back mud patch calling to me to come kill them and complete their circle of life. As well, the sad plastic bag full of dead hostas that my sister harvested for me... last spring... are erupting again. What is it the poet said?
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Good ol' Eliot. Apparently, he, too, spent the last six months in DCs gridlock of ice and snow and cold and this past week in April watching roads wash out and sink holes form. (And judgy hostas grow in one's back patio and mudpatch.) (Or more to the point, not in the mudpatch, rather in a plastic bag, feeding on last year's dead.)
So, of course, in order to escape the green glare from my garden, I drove (was driven) to the mountains. To look at wild flowers. A lovely day out with friends, something I regularly do, just with less dirt, steep declines, rocks or Solomon's Seal, either false or true, but unknown because the ones we saw were being coy and refusing to flower and thus declare themselves one or the other. But I can do new things. Walking in the mud, looking at flowers, wondering if I'll see a bear. I was going to be a regular Wild Flower Tourer. Tourist?
Except I wasn't. Oh, the hike was lovely. The first hour. Tromping down the steep trail, somewhere in the Blue Ridge. Thinking, is this the Appalachian trail? Cos there's no way I'd be doing this with a full backpack. The company was great. Friends are always the best thing to carry with you into the woods, more important than bug spray or water.  But I'm not terribly sure-footed, and spent a lot of time watching every step so I may have missed the skunk cabbage and orchis.
Our guide would stop over some leafy patch, point at it with the borrowed walking staff, and say "That's a May Apple. It is past its blooming period." "That's Rue Anemone (or Meadow Rue) (I think two different flowers) (one of which apparently the heroine of The Hunger Games is named for)" "That's mustard" and each time, I thought, those are green leaves. I did recognize some lovely bright yellow violets and deep purple violets, but only heard tell of the elusive green violets. 
And because I am who I am, the home-dweller on the run from her bagged hostas, my mind wandered as I plodded from rock to stick to earth. I was back with the early settlers, wondering who harvested the wild parsnip and carrot? And was the Sweet Cecily gathered by cooks or herbalists? I imagined the struggle to survive in that steep rocky terrain, let alone dealing with bears and skunk cabbage and poison ivy. What if this was a RomCom? Then the guide wouldn't have been a middle aged woman, but a hawt guy with great shoulders who carried bugspray and BandAids. I'd still be in New Shoes, but my top would show more cleavage, and the group would have shrunk from 12 to two, and would include a night in the woods without poison ivy, bad breath, or the need to tinkle.
And then I wondered, where are the dead bodies? Wouldn't this be a good place to dump them? There was a deer carcass picked completely clean, the rib cage empty beside the skull. Zombies, I suppose.

What do you think of on your rambles through the woods? Are you a nature lover who communes with the Divine or do you plot your next murder? Whatever you do, I hope your Spring is spent in the open sunshine, where pollen lightly gilds you and your heart and mind are stirred back to life.