About loriking

Lori is a writer whose home is full. She has five children, a dog, a turtle, a lizard, five ducks, three chickens, and a husband providing her hours of entertainment, awareness, anxiety and pure joy. They also mess up her house quite a bit. Currently, her diet consists mostly of left over macaroni and cheese and peanut butter sandwiches which she refuses to let go to waste. Lori's favorite pastimes are hiking, swimming, reading and writing which she does with her fellow nerdy friends in a rather quirky, local writers group. You can find their fiction (among other things) here.

The End of Summer

This one is going to be short. Every member of the group is going through, what can only be described as, “The End of Summer.” We’re getting our children back to school, we’re writing schedules and organizing our homes to support the added burdens on our time. Some of us are starting school ourselves and realigning our lives to fit the time for further education.

It has been an eye opening summer. I think that this group will look back at it as the “Summer of Magic.” There has been a great deal of adventure and some heartache, but all of us have experienced a growth within our soul that can only happen in the shadows of fragrant summer nights and in the wilting heat of a hot summer day. Details are coming, and we will divulge all we have learned, but for now we are weary. Our spirits have been stretched to their limits and it’s time to let all of those things distil within us so that we can share them with you.

But I will tell you this:

  • People are amazing and kind.
  • Friends are found in the most unexpected places.
  • Hugs are healing.
  • Marriages can be saved.
  • Old friends can be found.
  • New friends can understand the core of you at your first meeting.
  • Death isn’t the end.
  • Love really is the answer to almost everything.
  • Summer nights are magical and fleeting.

And you, Dear Reader, are loved.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck by us through this interesting time. (especially two husbands who would prefer to remain in the shadows throughout the pages of this blog.) Thank you to all of our readers and followers.

And personally, I would like to thank the other women in this group. I love you and you have helped me to grow in ways I would have never imagined.

2013-07-22 21.32.42

Top Ten Ways to Make a Woman Angry

I don’t know if it’s the end of summer and everyone is at the peak of laziness/apathy, or if there are just several men who are acting a little stupid lately, but I want to post this as a public service announcement. Please take note.

10. Leave your laundry on the bathroom floor – We are not your maid nor your mother. It is laundrynearly as easy to remove your clothes and put them in the hamper as it is to toss them on the bathroom floor. We hate walking into the bathroom and stepping on your clothes, especially your underwear. (You know the reason as well as we do.) We hate hunting for your socks behind the toilet. Just put your clothing in the appropriate receptacle and avoid the problem.

9. Whining – We know that things don’t always go your way. We know that you’re working hard and that you have a lot on your plate. So do we. Whining does not make it better, in fact, it makes the situation nearly unbearable. Please. If you want to complain, at least find a creative way to do it.

8. Anger at stupid things – This might seem hypocritical, but seriously, when you want to kick someone’s ass for cutting you off in traffic, we want to kick your ass.

7. Call watching YOUR children “baby-sitting” – When you spend time with your children without their mother you are NOT baby-sitting. What you are doing is being a father. Fatherhood is frightening, confusing, messy and chaotic. So is motherhood. Mothers do not have all the answers. We’re winging it just like you are. Creating children takes two. So does raising them.

6. Treating us as if we’re irrational…all the time – Look. We know that there are certain times of the month that we may seem a little bit emotional, or out of sorts. But that’s not every day. Sometimes we have a point and if you ask if it’s “that time of the month” we’re going to be upset. Even if it is “that time” why would that make what we say invalid?

5. Minimize her feelings – this one goes along with number six. Even if we might, maybe, could be irrational. The feelings we are having are real and disregarding them doesn’t make them go away. In fact, if we ignore our feelings they just get bottled up and the situation gets worse and worse. If we are feeling angry, sad or anxious, don’t tell us to NOT feel that way. Say that you understand and bring us a cup of tea, some chocolate, and listen. We’ll be happier…and so will you.

action-figures4. Putting too much stock in toys – Okay we understand that you like the X-box. We have things that we like too. We know you might have a passion for firearms, or games, or…I don’t know…action figures. Whatever it is, people are more important than your toys. Your children, your significant other, your parents, visitors, all more important. Keep your priorities straight. If someone breaks a toy, be polite, it’s okay to be upset. It’s not okay to act as if the world is about to end or to make whoever broke it feel as if they are worthless.

3. Laugh at her passion – This blog is primarily for writers, but all women have something that is their passion. Trust me, there is a fire within her for something. If she shares it with you and you treat it as if it is a joke, you’ll not only make her angry, you’ll extinguish some of that fire. Instead of laughing at her, take some time to explore her passion with her. You’ll learn something about her that will fascinate you. You’ll get a glimpse of her that she won’t show you unless she feels safe. We promise, she will come alive and you’ll be amazed at the depth of your love.

2. Ignoring magic – Magic exists. It is all around us, and most of the women I know can see it. There is magic at the turning of the seasons. There is magic in the birth of a child, in new love, in old love, in music, in poetry. Most women can see it, grow with it and enjoy it. If we try to share something magical with you, it’s probably in your best interest to agree that whatever we are speaking of is beautiful. Or at least smile and nod. If we’re trying to share magic with you and you just stare at us and then say, “Hey, did you pay the car payment? It was due yesterday.” We’re going to be really angry.

1. Forgetting to show compassion – The ability to imagine another person’s plight is part of what makes us human. Too often, we forget to try to see a person’s life through their eyes. Lacking compassion makes us judgmental and negative. Without compassion, we’re dooming ourselves to see the world through a single pair of eyes – our own. How boring! And how empty! If you want to keep us happy, practice compassion with everyone you meet. Try to understand your fellow beings on their terms. Not only will it keep us happy, you will live a more fulfilled life. It will allow you to see people as God does, as wonderful, fallible beings full of potential and promise.

compassionate

August 3rd Forum Meeting

The meeting on August 3rd will be moved to August 10th.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience.

Our forum meetings are growing and the feedback we have received from our attendees has been invaluable. Besides, meeting once a month with a group of writers is good for your soul and inspiring…as well as instructive.

For information on our forum meetings visit us here.

Feel free to join us at any of these events.

Follow us on Facebook for the latest in Writing the Fire shenanigans.

Piece by Piece (Following Your Stupid, Stupid Dreams)

stupid dreamsThe above image was found by Cindy and it makes me laugh every time I see it because it is sort of the unofficial mantra of our group. Each of us in our own way has had to face life while forging ahead with our dreams and sometimes they do seem stupid. Really, really stupid. At times it seems like you’re actually moving backwards. Sometimes it seems as if you have to choose your actual real life (kids, work, marriage, friends) or choose to follow your dreams.

For example, while I was attempting to edit a book THIS happened:

1. Three year old asked if she can go downstairs and watch TV with the older kids. I told her yes. She left. I began to edit.

2. Responded to screaming from the basement because three year old saw a spider (which was actually just a tiny beetle.) Rescued three year old from “spider.” Got told, “MOM! Be careful! It’s going to bite you to death!”

3. Responded to husband who was disturbed by the screaming of the three year old. He had been sleeping after his late-night/early-morning shift. He told me the air conditioner he just installed was broken. Checked air conditioner only to realize that he was talking in his sleep.

4. Responded to screaming 6 month old. Realized that he has pooped clear up to his neck. While cleaning him up I reassured three year old that she hasn’t pooped. (She has a fear of poop.) Reassured her that she wasn’t messy even though she was looking at someone who was. She removed her clothes just to be sure.

5. After I finished cleaning up the six month old, I realized all the diapers were in my locked bedroom with my sleeping husband. Left naked, just-learned-how-to-scoot-around six month old and naked three year old to get diaper. Came back to living room to realize that six month old had scooted off of blanket onto hasn’t-been-vacuumed-since-yesterday-floor.

6. Unwound dog hair from six month old’s nether regions because he was naked on hasn’t-been-vacuumed-since-yesterday-floor. Put diaper back on.

7. Dressed three year old under protests that she had poop up her back. Wiped her back with wipes to appease her.

8. Carried her down stairs because she was certain that the “spider” would “bite her to death.”

9. Came back to dead computer.

10. I gave up for the day.

See, when all of that is going on my dreams seem a million miles away and very, very stupid.

But the fact remains, I was born to do this. I was born to absorb life, energy, and emotion. I am driven to ponder the meaning of life, find reason amidst the chaos, express it in beautiful terms and share it.

Since my life is lived by the seat of my pants, piece by piece, moment by moment, I’ve decided to make my Facebook statuses count. I’ve been attempting creative writing through my posts on Facebook. (See below.) I’ve decided to hone my skill post by post. Right now, that’s how my dreams make sense.

And so, I am going to attain my stupid, stupid dreams one moment at a time. And I suggest you work on your stupid, stupid dreams moment by moment too.

My attempt at living my dreams piece by piece (My recent Facebook statuses):

She climbs to the top of the slide with the strength only a child knows. Standing on the precipice, holding onto the bar, staring down, tiny fear thrills her heart. She’s never done it alone. She takes a deep breath and thrusts her body down the slide.
One more moment of growth, gone in an instant. One more fear evaporated.
Sometimes she feels as if growing up isn’t going to be so difficult.

Before she goes to bed, her three year old soul rushes to the open window.
“I need to fill my lungs with air,” she says and inhales the fresh night. Smiling, she peacefully slips into her bed.

My hair hangs down my shoulders, stringy and damp. I smell of sunscreen, chlorine, and sweat. My eyes burn and my muscles are tired. Children’s laughter still echoes in my mind as I caress my sleeping infant. Summer is tiptoeing out the door. Shorter days are ahead, days of books, lessons and discussions. But for now I’m going to soak up summer with my children. Time passes swiftly and my heart gently aches, knowing that these days will be gone.

We sat, we two, on cool iron cafe chairs as the fragrant night breezes washed away the cares of the day. We soaked in the deepening summer night, laughing at jokes understood by only a handful of people. The barista turned off the lights to remind us that we had responsibilities to attend. We wandered slowly to our cars and drove home to be greeted by the sounds of lazy summer crickets.

Wet scales. Wriggling bodies. Cold water. I had forgotten how beautiful it is to touch a wild animal that lives in a completely different world than I do. Connecting with alien life, alien life right here reachable and touchable. I’d forgotten, and I loved it.

Dreaming Together

Happy Thursday Firefans,

If you’ve been with us for awhile, and especially after the last couple of weeks you have probably realized now that our group is…slightly erratic to say the least. Or rather, chock-full of ups and downs. Last week, Natalie basically made a proclamation for the universe to “bring it on.” In this Monday’s Moxie post, Lori let go of some pretty major emotional baggage. After a half-summer of soul searching, and deep in the throes of a nasty summer flu, I woke one morning and found myself nothing left to write. And in this one very extremely long, scorching mid-July week, we have all uttered the same words.

“I give up.”

We are tired for reasons that are very different, and yet oddly parallel. Like everyone else on earth, there are some days we just want to quit. Everything.

And yet…even at the lowest of low, even in the darkest of voids, there is magic. It lives amidst and among our group. It lingers behind each spoken word and floats between the lines of what we write.

It showed up this morning, in a private message conversation between Lori and I. She sent me a small section of a book she was reading, Emily of New Moon. It said:

It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside—but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse—and heard a note of unearthly music.

That passage she sent was followed by her comment. “This is why we keep writing. This is what we must share.”

I told her I was glad she shared and asked if I could borrow the book. I needed a new one to take on an upcoming vacation. A very long vacation I wasn’t sure I wanted to take.

 And then in the conversation that followed, this incredibly magical, beautiful dream happened between us. We’re going to share it with you, let you just ever so slightly peek inside our heads to see the magic that keeps us going…as writers, as women, as close friends. As sisters.

Hope you enjoy,

~Cindy

****

Lori: When we get old, we’ll have a real vacation without children…in nature…away from everything except tea.

Cindy: and sea.

Lori: I know just the place. It’s on the outer banks, surrounded by water, shaded by trees.

Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cindy: Sounds perfect. Lets live there.

Lori: We can. It’s lovely. Old small towns on the edge of the United States, tall trees, sandy beaches and ancient stories.

Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cindy: Sounds like home to my soul.

We will bring old books and lavender tea. Lots of spiral notebooks and colored pens. A cat or two for comfort. Listen to classical music. And ride bicycles with baskets…

Lori: We’ll go barefoot and get up early to watch the dolphins swim just off the coast every morning.

One morning we’ll find a canoe sitting on the beach. We’ll fearlessly climb in and head out to the sunrise to see the dolphin up close. They’ll swim right beneath us. We’ll get an occasional splash from the young ones who leap out of the water to get a closer look at us.
Photos of Frisco Woods Campground, Frisco
This photo of Frisco Woods Campground is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Cindy: Dolphins. *sigh*

dolphinsCindy: We will wear big hats and own just a few long sundresses for summer, which we will hang out on a laundry line to dry in the fresh sea air. In the winter we will stoke fires and wear Irish sweaters and…EAT.

Homemade stew with every fresh vegetable imaginable. And fresh baked bread. And triple chocolate brownies.

Lori: We’ll learn how to make grits, cornbread and beans.

We’ll string fairy lights on every tree that will stand still and our neighbors will think we’re witches.

Cindy: Fairy lights. Yes. There will be so many fairy lights.

tree with fairy lightsCindy: And the very brave souls will come to our door and ask if we are…magic. And we will say yes and smile and send them away with warm soup and fresh bread and a brand new spiral notebook. Because only we can know that they are magic too.

Lori: Our grandchildren will come and visit. We’ll tell them stories about brave men and women so that they are prepared to face the world. But we’ll also tell stories of magic and light so that they know how to find it in their lives. We’ll cuddle, feed and educate and they will leave feeling fresh and renewed.

Our children will harbor within themselves a secret faith in magic that carries them through hard times. They’ll always know where they can come to renew their faith in all that is good…because we have been through tough times and found the light and are prepared to share it with them.

Moxie Monday (Taking Down a Wall)

Occasionally, there are crystal moments of clarity when I know who I am, when I feel the power of me churning just below the surface. I can see Who my power comes from and I feel as though I am gently clasped in God’s love. I recognize the purpose of my life is before me and that I will never be alone as I pursue it.

The walls are coming down

I’ve spent a lot of time building walls around my heart. I’ve been hurt; my heart has been trampled. I’ve been told I was worthless and that I wouldn’t succeed in anything I wanted. I was told that I didn’t have the skills I needed to accomplish my goals. I’ve been taught to fulfill other people’s needs. I was taught that my value is solely in what I can do for others.

It doesn’t help that in today’s society we are taught that women are only as good as their beauty. If they are thin, pretty and stylish, they have value. I am none of those things and so to some, I’m not of any worth.

Operating with those erroneous beliefs, I make poor decisions for myself. I’m not saying that I’m sorry that I have four children, or that I don’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom. I’m talking about things that are internal, and almost undefinable. My self-talk is extremely destructive.

And there are the things that people have told me.

                “You’re ugly. You’re like a cross between…”

                “You’re kind of fat…”

                “No husband wants a fat wife, Lori.”

                “Why don’t you be more supportive of your husband?” (While I was going to school, had a two month old baby and working from home.)

                “You’re a slob.”

                “You look like a man.”

                “What have you done all day? The house is a mess.”

                “Why would anyone want to hear you play?” (When I said I would play my flute for a function.)

                “You can’t be a writer/editor you don’t have your degree. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

                “You’d be a better person if you had graduated from BYU.”

And there are many, many others.

All of these things made me build up walls so that I wouldn’t get hurt. I remember when, as a child, I was told that I was not a pretty girl and that my head was too big. That person said it with such certainty that I couldn’t deny it. I felt myself lay another brick on the wall, mortar it in place, and harden myself. “Now I know,” I thought. “I won’t ever think I’m pretty again.” The bricks kept the tears from falling.

There was a time before the bricks, when things could touch me. Beauty would envelop my soul. Music was something that was potent to my senses. I loved it. I could feel it vibrating though my being. But as the wall grew, the bricks dulled the feeling. I was killing off a part of myself and I was being numbed to peace and beauty.

The pain of being constantly belittled was worse than I could bear and the wall got taller. I began to love the bricks, putting more and more in place. I believed that I could endure anything.

But there is a problem. Things still seep into my heart on occasion and because of the bricks, I can’t let them out. I have ignored it for the most part, but I am aware that the bricks are not totally effective.

There are other ways of dealing with it…

I rarely let anyone in to know the real me and I lie a lot about my life and how good it is. And when I do let someone in, I have horrible anxiety. I am certain that they’re not going to like me; I’m not worth liking. It’s safer to just move through life than to try to make and keep intimate friends. I keep real friends from loving me at the core of who I am.

I lead an empty life.

Until now…the walls are coming down.

I can’t keep going like this. This weekend, I had a day trip with the group. I had an experience in a graveyard that changed the way I view things. This weekend I also heard music that made me cry simply because of the beauty. I haven’t done that since I was in high school and it felt wonderful.

I walk through tall black gate and enter an old graveyard. Trouble haunts my mind. “What am I going to do? We’re not going to make it. My life is falling apart and I’m helpless against it.”

Sweet breezes stir the grasses growing between the headstones. Birds sing a repeating song high in the trees. An unseen gate creaks on its ancient hinges. I continue to walk up the stony path surrounded by the long since dead, secretly envying their peaceful rest.

Suddenly the breezes still. The bird’s song ends and a whisper rises from the ground.

“Part of your purpose is to enjoy these things, to listen to happiness in the song of birds, the feel of the grass swaying against your skirt, and smell the fragrant breeze. You were put here to take in these things to drink deeply of life, because those are the dreams of your final rest. Make friends, laugh, play, sing and dance. Troubles always end, but life, real life, all of the important things, love, beauty, fun and joy, all of these things will last if you pay attention and receive them.” Peace enters my soul as I realize the truthfulness in those words.

All is once again left to the birds and the swaying grasses. And I am left feeling grateful, aware of my beating heart.

Glenwood Cemetary

Reading the Fire

The importance of reading has been brought to my attention several times over the past week. As Cindy mentioned in her post, it is essential for those of us who write to be among people who read and it is a desirable quality in a spouse. But I believe that it is an important aspect for our culture as well as individuals.

There are two things that have stuck in my mind over the past week that underline the reasons we should read.

First, one of my children has been struggling with reading and just made a break through. It was like it finally all made sense to him, and he came to me one morning excited, “Mom! I read it!” He handed me a book which he has been trying to read on his own for a couple of months. “It’s about a cowboy…” He followed me around the house during morning chores and told me about what he had read, how he had felt, why he liked the cowboy and how excited he was to continue reading.

It was all I could do to keep the tears from flowing down my cheeks. This is how I felt about reading and my son had suddenly discovered the perfect contentment contained in a good book. He can now be taken to faraway lands while lying in his bed. He can discover the meaning of love before he even starts dating. He can be introduced to the beauty of the world through the eyes of authors who are aware of it. He can learn what it means to be a man of value. He can discover compassion within his heart for people who are different through the characters found in books.

This is what reading has done for me, my family, and my fellow group members. I couldn’t be happier and more excited to discuss books with him and hear his perspective.

The next thing happened in our writing class last week, our teacher said, “Illiteracy within a culture means that culture lacks imagination.” I find this to be true in the people around me whether it is actual illiteracy or willful illiteracy, where a person chooses to turn their back on the other worlds that books offer, the outcome is the same. Without imagination, we would not have innovation, invention, creativity, or exploration. Imagination drives our soul, the very thing that makes us human.

And so in the spirit of keeping imagination alive, I’ve started a list of books which have changed my life, changed the way I look at things, scared the h— out of me, given me great pleasure, distilled the beauty of life on my heart, or simply made me laugh.

Please comment! Add your books to the list! Let’s keep imagination alive!

Fiction:

  1. You Are Special by Max Lucado
  2. If Only I Had a Green Nose by Max Lucadomy library
  3. You Are Mine by Max Lucado
  4. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  5. Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling
  6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  7. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  8. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  10. Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
  11. The Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour (I’m not a western type of girl, but I love Johannes Verne. “My name is Johannes Verne and I am not afraid.”)
  12. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  13. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede
  14. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  15. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  16. The Railway Children By Edith Nesbit
  17. The Fairy Books by Andrew Lang (Some purists don’t the like the fairy stories in these books but I love them! My favorite two are the Blue Fairy Book and the Yellow Fairy Book.)
  18. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  19. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  20. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
  21. Anything by Shel Silverstein especially The Giving Tree (great way to introduce your children to poetry)
  22. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (My favorite is The Last Battle)
  23. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  24. The Legend of
  25. Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  26. Holes by Louis Sachar
  27. The Great Brain by John Dennis Fitzgerald
  28. Little Britches by Ralph Moody
  29. The Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
  30. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  31. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  32. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  33. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  34. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  35. Sherlock Holmes Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  36. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  37. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienLord of the Rings
  38. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  39. Anything by Jane Austen (My favorites are Mansfield Park, Northanger Abby, and Pride and Prejudice.)
  40. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  41. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (When I read this book in high school it was about friendship, as an adult I think it’s a book about parenting. I love multi-faceted books like that!)
  42. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  43. The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway (I don’t like Hemingway, but loved this book and the short story listed below.)
  44. The Writing Class by Jincy Willet (I love the protagonist in this novel! She reminds me of ME in parts.)
  45. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  48. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (You’ll be suspicious of everyone’s intentions for a while.)

My Favorite Shakespeare:

  1. The Merchant of Venice
  2. A Midsummer night’s Dream

Non-Fiction:

  1. The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
  2. Backyard Ballistics by William Gurstelle (My husband and son LOVE this book. I mean, who wouldn’t love building a tennis ball mortar out of Pringles cans?)
  3. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  4. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout (Will confirm everything you believe after reading Heart of Darkness)
  5. Emotional Vampires by Dr. Albert Bernstein
  6. The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
  7. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
  8. The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
  9. Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner

Short stories:

  1. The Judges House by Brahms Stoker (Don’t read it in the dark.)
  2. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
  3. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
  4. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
  5. The Gold Bug by Edgar Allen Poe
  6. Hills Like White Elephants by Earnest Hemingway (I hate The American, but I LOVE that this story can be interpreted many ways.)
  7. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Chilling.)

Poetry: (I enjoy poetry, but I’m not well versed in it. There are, however, a few that I adore.)

  1. The Oxford Book of American Light Verse is a good place to start.
  2. A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  3. If by Rudyard Kipling
  4. Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer
  5. The Highway Man by Alfred Noyes
  6. Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  7. I love Eugene Field and his poetry for my children.

Upcoming books that I’ll be reading in the next couple of months:

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  3. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
  4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  5. The Color of Water by James McBride

Okay, so there it is. What about you? What books have changed you? What stories do you LOVE?

Conversations with a Muse (Part 3 – Lori)

The alarm clock sounds. My eyes fly open and I search for the button to turn it off before it wakes the children sleeping down the hall.

“How do I forget where the stupid thing is every single morning?” The words escape through clenched teeth. I find the button and push it as hard as I can. “Please! Shut up!” I whisper to the intrusive time piece. Silence. I lie still for a few moments straining my ears. The children are still asleep. I hear only the water trickling in the stream beneath my open window. I slip out of my room and sneak down the hallway into the bathroom.

I open the window to a pale blue morning and start the bath water, watching as it fills the tub.  When it is ready, I step in and slide down so that the water covers my ears. I can only hear the sounds of my heartbeat and air as it rushes into and out of my lungs. I close my eyes and enjoy the simple magic of life. I smile as the words drift through my mind.

SpiderI open my eyes to look at the brightening morning sky through the unscreened window. A spider is weaving her web in the corner just below the casing. I watch her as steam from my bath pours across her handiwork leaving fragmented drops of dew on her silken threads. The words float across my brain, tickling my consciousness.

“You’re here,” I say.

I am. The friendly, comforting words dance into my thoughts.

I turn in time to see a soft white mist gather to form the shape of a woman. She sits on the side of the bathtub trailing her fingers through my bath water. I slowly become more aware of everything. I feel the coolness of the tile where I have propped my feet. I notice the chill air from the open window tingling across my exposed skin and the steam billowing around the lights above the mirror.

“How can you do that?”

Do what?

“Make me…notice things more.”

You feel for both of us. I’m a Muse. I can’t feel it, but I can experience it through you.

“That’s so sad.”

No. It’s just the way of things. I can do things that you can’t too.

“Like?”

Like this. How many humans do you know that communicate directly to your mind?

“Good point,” I say.

I can feel all of your emotions. I can know you more deeply than any other entity because I am your Muse and I love being your Muse. I take all of your hopes, fears, and desires and distil them down into words, fragments of sentences that bring you back to yourself…and you’ve been ignoring me. The voice in my head changes to one of slight chastisement.

“I’ve been busy! I have children. I’m working…” my voice rises in self-defense.

I know all that. I’m watching you every day. But it’s becoming more difficult to reach you. I’m worried that if you don’t start writing, and practice hearing me, there will come a time when I won’t be able to reach you at all.

I feel her sadness at the thought of being silenced, coupled with my own terror at the thought of losing my Muse.

“I can’t lose you! You’ve been with me my whole life! You’ve comforted me on my darkest days. You’ve shown me the beauty in my life I appreciate what I have because you’ve let me see it more clearly! I need you!” Tears begin to flow down my cheeks as I think about what life would be like without her.

Her hand leaves the water and touches my cheek. I don’t feel her hand, but the warmth of her touch. Don’t worry. It’s not too late. I’m still here. The answer is simple, very simple. Leave time for me every day. Focus on the feelings and messages I send to you. I won’t give you too much, just enough…so that we don’t lose what we have.

I wipe my tears with my wet hand. I look into her eyes and feel calm. I start to breathe again, noticing only then that I had stopped. I resolve within myself to listen, and to write daily.

She can feel my intention. Good. You know you were beginning to worry me. I’ve tried to share some lovely stories with you, but you are always preoccupied with other things.

“I know…and I’m sorry. I knew something was missing. I just haven’t felt like myself,” my voice catches. Tears are threatening to come again.

I know that we Muses can be demanding, but I’m trying not to be. You’ve promised to listen and I believe you. She straightens up and shines as the sun begins to creep though the window. And I…I will promise to help you in your everyday life. She gestures toward the door just before I hear a tiny knock.

“Mom?” A small, sleepy voice comes through the door.

I look at my Muse and she smiles. Let her come in…she needs you.

“Come in, hun. Is something wrong?”

My seven year old daughter walks into the room, tears in her eyes. I look at my Muse and see my daughters feelings reflected in her face.

Unaware of our visitor the child sits on the edge of the tub next to her. “Mom, the tooth fairy took my tooth and didn’t leave anything.”

Instantly, the events of the night before come back to memory. I took the tooth intending to return with a treat and a new toothbrush, but my plans got interrupted and I had forgotten. I sigh and struggle to think of something to say. The words

Tell her a brownie took the tooth.

“A brownie must have taken your tooth. They’re mischievous little creatures. They like to interfere with the work of fairies. It’s an ancient, but somewhat friendly war…” The words flow from me, telling my child how the fairies will get her tooth back, how they will bring her something once the battle is over and how the fairies will celebrate when it’s all over.

I begin to realize just how beneficial it is to have a Muse help me in everyday life and how easy it is to listen to someone who wants to tell beautiful stories.

Top Ten Finally

Top Ten Tuesday…er…Thursday.

Okay, Fate, you piece of $#!%, I’m going to post this one way or another!

(Ahem)

Top Ten Saturday.

The Top Ten Lies That Keep Us From Writing

(And yes, I see the exquisite hypocrisy in posting this specific post late.)

liesEvery writer knows that there is an anti-writing demon that possesses a part of their soul. From the moment you discover that your calling is to be a writer, something sinister awakens and attaches to your spirit. It begins to send messages to specifically interfere with your pursuit of writing. Some writers fail to realize the message they hear is a lie. I myself just barely escaped. Today we will explore the Top Ten ways we allow this anti-writing fiend to keep us from accomplishing our goals.

10. The Lie: You can do it all! – There are only 24 hours in a day, and they must be used wisely. There are many activities that we want to do, many that we should do, and many that we need to do.

The Solution – Where does writing fit for you? Is it something that you NEED to do so that you can find release and peace in your life? If so, schedule it as a need and don’t let less important things interrupt you.

(You’ll find that this is a theme running throughout this post. Make time for you to write every single day. Schedule it!)atlas3

9. The Lie: You need to “be there” for every person in your life – Most writers and artists are sensitive, kind, loving and generous; and that is wonderful. There comes a point in all the giving when you have to realize what people really need vs. what they think they need. Some people will drain you dry in every way possible. They will take up your time, your money and your compassion.

The Solution – If you have someone draining you in your life, set some boundaries! Decide now, before they ask, what you are willing to do for them and stick to the plan.

8. The Lie: You don’t have time to write because of your work (or school) responsibilities. – Yes, I know we all have responsibilities. And yes, I believe that you should have a job, and you should do that job to the best of your abilities. However, I know that some of us will use work or school as an excuse to NOT write. “If I didn’t have this paper to write, I’d be able to work on my book.” I think I have said those EXACT words. Or “I’m swamped at work. I don’t have time to write.”

The real reason I didn’t want to write will be discussed in number 1.

The Solution – No excuses!

7. The Lie: I don’t have time to write because of my family. – I know that you’re surprised that “the fam” would be at number seven and not at number one. Listen, the family will continue to thrive if you take up the pen again. Moms, it’s okay if you step away to work on something for yourself for a few minutes a day. The same goes for you Dads.

The Solution – Defend your time to write. Unless someone is bleeding profusely, you are not to be disturbed.

6. The Lie: You must begin to write every story that pops into your head. – This one too-many-ideasmight seem counter intuitive. It happens like this: You start working on a story and, for whatever reason, you stop. It might be stopping to grab a sandwich. It might be that you stop for a few days to let the story solidify in your mind. Whatever it is, you let your mind take a break and new ideas start to tap on your shoulder and introduce themselves. “Hello. I know you’re busy but…” and they begin to explain themselves in excited tones. You, as a writer, LOVE new ideas, and so you, in turn, get excited and open a new document and begin to develop this new idea until you need a sandwich or for that story to solidify…and the process goes on and on and on.

The Solution – Jot down your new ideas, but keep plugging away at your current project.

5. The Lie: Your work is not as good as (insert name here.) – Comparing your work to comparingthat of your peers serves no one. Each of us are different with different skills mastered at different times in our writing career. Each of us has a different story to tell, in a different style, with different characters.

(This group is guilty of this. One day I said, “I feel like I’m the weakest link.” Then, Cindy, the wise one, said, “We all are…for different reasons. But we’re also the strongest links too.” Since then, we’ve moved beyond comparing, it doesn’t work and just makes us all feel bad.)

The Solution – Accept yourself and your work as it is now. If you want to improve, then do it! But don’t try to improve by comparing your writing to someone else.

4. The Lie: You must make your current project perfect before moving on. – This is one of my very, very WORST habits. I participated in NaNoWriMo one year and spent almost the whole month editing the first chapter of my book. I wanted it to be perfect. At one point (on November 29th) I realized that I had to move on or the rest of the story would never be told.

The Solution – Make sure to set aside time during your “writing time” to edit and leave the editing to ONLY that specific time.

3. The Lie: Something important is happening on Facebook/Twitter/Email. – This does not need any explanation. It’s so easy to fall into the web of…well…The Web.

The Solution – Take time to write before you open your browser. Set a timer and write for 30 minutes.

2. The Lie: Others know what you are capable of better than you do. – When I was young, someone told me that desiring to become a writer was a silly idea. He would rip into my work and criticize nearly every single word. (This is not an exaggeration.) It was a person who loved me and so I trusted that they had my best interest at heart. As an adult, I know that he was merely voicing fears about his own discarded dreams.

The Solution – Examine your beliefs about your dreams. If it is from anyone else, let it go. You do not need other people’s fears holding you back.

1. The Lie: You can’t do it! – This is the biggest lie of all. It is the most personal and the hardest lie to dispel. Thoughts begin to run through our mind, “You are wasting so much time.” “Why do you even do this?” “This is just crap. You’re writing crap.” “What makes you think anyone is going to want to read this?” “People are going to read this and laugh at it. It is so ridiculous.”

The Solution – The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to let go and do three extraordinarily frightening things:

1. Allow someone to read your work and ask for their feedback. Share it! It doesn’t matter if you think it’s ready; email it to someone you trust. Just attach it and hit the send button. You can explain it later. The important thing is to share it and ask for feedback.

2. Introduce yourself as a writer. For the first little while, you will flinch when you say it. You will berate yourself and internally call yourself a liar and a poser. That’s okay! The discomfort means growth. Pretty soon, it won’t feel like a lie. Something will change within your heart and you will realize that you already are that thing which you most want to be.

3. WRITE! Make time for yourself to hone your craft. Make it an important part of your life. We all have responsibilities and sitting behind a computer does not, from the outside, look like a productive use of time. But, if you don’t tell your stories, who will? You have ideas, dreams, visions, and thoughts to share through the written word. To do that effectively, you must make time to practice.purpose

I believe that each human being, has a rich purpose in this life. We all have something to share with the rest of our fellow persons. There is nothing as sad as witnessing someone who has a purpose and desire ignore it because they doubt their ability to do it.

Don’t be one of those people.

You be the kind of person that ignores all the lies and fulfills your purpose.

After all, what else is there?

Hello Again…I’m back from my adventure!

Guess what! One of our founding members has returned to us! She has been living in another state for a year and has returned wiser, happier and excited to share our writing (and life) experiences. So without further delay, here is Ali!

 

They say you can never go home again…They lie!

By Ali White

I say that home is the best place to return to. And I am always right! Just ask my husband. I returned with a new appreciation for my home, the people, the places, and my mountains that I took for granted. I knew that I loved my family and friends, but I didn’t realize how much until my return home. I left feeling that I was finally breaking free and coming into my own. I realize now that you can’t truly be yourself unless you are grateful for your past and the people that made you who you are. It is possible to find a new connection with yourself in a new place and I recommend taking ”me time” to everyone. But always, always go home at some point to see the vast difference between who you are and who you were. Me, I am content to stay home and experience the blending of my new life and my old life. So here is Ali’s list of crap that you should know that she learned while having an adventure!

  1. NEVER forget the sunscreen!
  2. Always have an exit strategy
  3. You should always be willing to sacrifice something for those you love
  4. Patience is not given it is learned
  5. Laughter is the best way to cope
  6. McDonald’s is McDonald’s everywhere you go so be careful
  7. You can never have too many rolls of toilet paper

Now having been home from my journey for a month I am settling in and getting comfy. My new family loves it here and my muse has returned with a vengeance. I am writing again and I am so happy to be rejoining my awesome compatriots in the guild. I look forward to sharing new paths and new ideas with everyone. So until next time Peace Out Homies!