Saturday, October 3, 2015

A repost that continues to speak to the writer in me

 I stumbled upon some revelations while on vacation that are applicable to writers.

There were twelve of us crammed into a van for a scenic tour to the top of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Island for a view of the Caribbean. When the driver rounded the narrow mountain road, riding precariously close to the cliff's edge, a young woman behind me spoke out.

"Jesus Christ!"

I turned with a stern look, and I saw that she had her eyes closed and her hands folded.

"Jesus Christ!" was a prayer, not a swear.

1. Don't jump to conclusions. Words can be misconstrued. Praise God, share the space, the waves ... and also generously share writing call outs, and your knowledge with other writers.

Most vacationing beach goers hope to come home with a suntan. It cannot be done in one day. Tanning is a slow process, and staying too long in the sun on day one results in a sunburn.

2. Trying to write a book in a week, an essay in an hour, or a poem in a minute is as impossible as getting an even tan in one day. It can cause a writer to burn out.            

We had one day of torrential non-stop rain. Storm clouds gathered, lightning chased beach goers inside, and thunder rumbled. Storms dumped on all of us. After the rain we glimpsed part of a rainbow; that spot of color was a promise of brighter things to come.

3. Seek colors in a bland day; look not only sky high, but in unexpected places.

Caribbean time is a slow ticking clock. I commented to our native driver, a young man of thirty, that he looked twenty.

"That is because I smile a lot, and when you smile and are happy inside, it shows on the outside."

He dropped us at an isolated beach where he said Princess Di once swam. It was one of 365 beaches on the island. Can you imagine one beach for every day of the year? A woman in our group had to use the restroom. She walked to a snack shack which was supposed to be open. She discovered a female employee snoozing on the porch floor.

"Excuse me, I thought you opened at 11:00. I have to use the bathroom."

"The owner is late. No problem. Go pee in the sea," the woman said and rolled back over.

4. Think positive, take it easy, make do; find a creative solution.

While walking along the beach, a gusty wind stirred. A beach ball rolled past me at a good clip. I kicked the ball towards the beach in hopes that the child who lost it might retrieve it. But the ball caught another groove in the sand and kept rolling, and that ball was long gone.

5. Keep your momentum going. If you get stuck in a rut, find another way out.

A flock of docile seagulls waited quietly for someone to toss a morsel. There was nothing to differentiate one from the other.

An orange beaked bird joined the flock and squawked and squealed and made itself known, circled the sea and wasn't at all hesitant to dive in for a meal. This bird was a go getter.

6. Don't wait for it to happen, make it happen. Dare to be different. Make yourself and your work stand out from the rest. It doesn't hurt to toot your own horn. GO FOR IT.

When you stumble, don't stop, just put one foot in front of the other, pen to paper, fingers to the keyboard. Keep going. Be humble, be grateful, be helpful. Appreciate the little things.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

When life gets you down, don't give up

After eating pizza, I walked around a lake and took photos.
Sometimes life can be exhausting: mass killings, the world situation, violence, disappointment, illness, death. Someone in our extended family was robbed after a ball game and her boyfriend shot. He is paralyzed. Friends and family are battling cancer and serious illnesses. Warring nations, starving people, hurricanes and natural can get you down. 
Everyone needs a support system. Don't be afraid to reach out, state your feelings, needs, ask for what you want. Express gratitude.
When you are feeling down, look up. The night sky was an incredibly beautiful gift.
Stand out from the rest. Do something that makes you unique. Be a leader not a follower. Being different is OKAY.

Hang out with those who make room for you. Return the favor. Share, no matter how little you have to give.

Don't give in to your fears, and don't automatically turn tail and run.
There is a divine plan for each of us. Have faith. Hang in there.
I saw a photo on Facebook of a Native American captioned:
 What if I told you the left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird?
What if we all vowed to seek peace?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whispers on the autumn breeze



One of us will turn loose first.
                                     Let's gussy up,
swagger in the breeze,
                            tease a smile out of passersby.
ang out till the very end, then
                      take the plunge with an air of authority,
                    as though we have always been in control
                                     of our own destiny.
I wrote this poem as I walked through the woods and personified the foliage. Giving human characteristics/emotions/attributes to inanimate objects was a fun challenge. Have you ever written from this perspective?

Your challenge: give it a try, and share a line from a leaf's perspective with me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I am honored, thrilled, delighted, amazed...

It is soul touching to know that something I have written will make a difference in other's lives. I am thrilled to share this letter I received yesterday from Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Dear Linda  
Chicken Soup for the Soul is working with The Boniuk Foundation, a non-profit organization, to promote tolerance, respect, and compassion, inspiring young people and adults to embrace their differences, reject stereotypes, and make good choices. This multifaceted project started about a year ago and has become a very important part of what we do.

There are many components to this program, with the three largest being:

· Books for kids, teens, and adults

   Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be the Best You Can Be — Inspiring True Stories about Goals & Values for Kids & Preteens

   Chicken Soup for the Soul: Create Your Best Future — Inspiring Stories for Teens and Young Adults

   Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Great Kids — Inspiring Stories about Sharing Values Generation to Generation

· A new half-hour weekly Saturday morning family television show, Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Hidden Heroes, which starts on CBS October 3, 2015.

· A national literacy-based anti-bullying program for kids from Grades 1-12, using the stories in the new books to prompt discussions and provide the foundation for lesson plans.

The partnership between The Boniuk Foundation and Chicken Soup for the Soul uses storytelling to encourage young and old to accept and respect people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, and culture—one story at a time.
One of your stories was chosen for this program and appears in one of the three books listed above.   
To my blog readers, if you are not a writer and do not submit for publication, know that still, your words can have profound impact. Leave your legacy; write a letter of appreciation to someone who made a difference in your life. Write a note to a loved one, a letter to your grandchild, parent or grandparent. Words are far reaching and you never know what impact they will have in the future. I encourage you today to put your thoughts on paper.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I spent three nights with another guy, and I am in love!

Where have I been?
My daughter, Liam's grandma and babysitter, was out of town, so I kept my sweetie pie three days and nights. I am delightfully exhausted.

I took him on his first trip to the Zoo and he was afraid of everything, including the painted frog statues on the ground. Once I convinced him they were toys, he got brave enough to get closer and put his hat on a frog's head.

The goats terrified him, especially the one that hopped up on the bench next to him. I had to rescue him.

He liked the penguins, sea lions, and large fish. But what he really liked was the elephants. He watched as one used her trunk to rip leaves off a tree branch and then carry the branch around.

When he heard the train whistle as it click-clacked down the track, he got very excited. So, of course we had to go for a ride.

He sat on a seat like a big boy so I could take his picture. Then he noticed the animal photo
on the seat in front of us. He babbled and jabbered and touched it, telling me about the elephant.

I said, "Yes, that's an elephant, and we saw the elephant eating leaves."
He listened and looked and smiled.
He noticed the locomotive up ahead as the train was boarding. We were seated three cars back. He got very excited when he saw "Thomas" the tank engine leading us. I said, "Yes, that's the train, and you are sitting in the train. We are going to ride this choo-choo."

He understood what I said, kicked his legs and squealed with delight. He was astounded when the train rounded the bend and slowed in front of the elephant compound. He even loved going through the dark tunnels.

This little guy is 15 months old and is repeating words and talking. His latest: hi kitty cat, hi papaw, bouncy ball, basket ball, what's dat? BALLLL. (Everything is ball to him.) Instead of saying the word "more" and tapping his fingers together, he uses the baby hand sign for more food and says, "Ball." We have been working for three days on saying "more" and touching his mouth. He did it twice. He's stuck on the word "ball."

He zooms down the drive way on his riding toy car, lifts his feet and coasts like a big boy.
What an active little sweetheart. We are blessed.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

TWEETING took on a new/old meaning

Sunday was Kirkwood's (St. Louis suburb) annual Green Tree Festival. The aromas of caramel corn, funnel cakes and every kind of food imaginable permeated the air. Craft booths filled the park; artisans sold their wares. This family-friendly event drew huge crowds. There were three different stages with live bands, and there were dogs and kids everywhere.
I often hear people talk about the Good Old Days, when times were easier. I wonder if that time really existed, or if it all seemed less hectic looking back. The pace of living has certainly increased, and in many ways the work load has lightened. Will our children consider these days their good old days? 
We took a walk and discovered Frontier Village, an encampment of actors portraying frontier life.
 Years ago, women spun sheep wool into yarn to make goods for their families.

These guys were forging iron, working the bellows to fan the flames to do metal work.

These pioneers were tin smiths and candle makers. Tallow candles are nothing like fragrant Yankee Candles.

Quilting is almost a lost art. So pleased to see these women working their needles, making those fine stitches.
Children and adults had fun trying to walk on stilts. Many landed in the hay, laughing and sputtering.

The canon misfired the first time, but the second attempt was like the shot heard 'round the world. It reverberated throughout the park. 
Imagine having to hunt animals to make buckskin clothing to wear. It's hot and heavy.
I'd travel anywhere in this covered wagon as long as I had this big guy by my side.
No matter the century, mothers have always reprimanded their children. We passed this mom telling her children, "Go blow those bird call whistles over by the tree. I'm tired of your tweeting."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The clowns were everywhere, and no one wore grease paint or red nose

The Hot Air Balloon Glow was cancelled Saturday due to gusting wind, so although the balloons were not inflated, they did fire up. Just not the same for the huge crowds that gather in Forest Park to see the Energizer Bunny balloon and so many others light up the night.
Saturday the wind was still whipping, so the balloons did not lift off until 5:00 p.m.
Liam spent the day at his other nana's, so I was unable to take him, and we did not attend. 
 Bill and I went to a neighborhood fall festival, where we saw some really strange sights. Steve Davis, a dynamic Elvis impersonator performed. Usually Elvis-obsessed older women run up to plead for a scarf. Instead, there was a group of blind youth attending this event, and two of the older boys couldn't sit still once he started singing. They got up and danced to every song. "Elvis" motioned their caregivers to bring them forward. He wrapped a scarf around each of their necks. The crowd went wild with applause, and the boys were thrilled. They upstaged the king. 
This older, German gent in lederhosen was either hawking beer mugs or double fisting and draining the contents, because he was a hoot. He danced and sang and moved to the groove with a live band that performed Taylor Swift songs and Top 40. He grabbed a microphone and sang an oom-pa-pa ditty and invited everyone to come see him at the October Fest next month. He certainly was one of the interesting ones.
This young lady was a sign of the times. She kept removing and replacing her cell phone from her bra. If you look closely, you can see it protruding. 

A kid begged his mom seated across from us for more money. She reached into her bra and whipped out her phone, a camera and a wallet...which made me wonder if she buys bras that are a couple sizes too big for her conceal and carry contraband.

A middle age "quirky" couple seated under a canopy at the table across from us were love struck. He positioned his chair so it faced his sweetie instead of the band. He took her head in his hands, and nose to nose, he stared into her eyes for about five minutes. I'd have gone cross-eyed. She went to sleep. When her head nodded, he whispered sweet nothings, probably in shades of grey, and within minutes she perked up, and they were walking off the parking lot hand in hand toward their car.

Then there were the dog lovers. A woman who seemed normal and resembled Mimi, the secretary on Drew Carey's old sit com, cuddled her peek-a-poo in a blanket. Every time Elvis or the bands sang a song about dogs: You Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog, etc. she would prance around the bandstands and walk her dog. When a wind gust kicked up on this sunny, glorious 80 degree day, she grabbed her pooch, wrapped him in a heart decorated fleece blanket and pulled off the checkered red and white table cloth and further encased the little yapper until it was panting. Then she unwrapped the poor thing, sat down at the table, whispered in its ear, and clutched it to her ample bosom, its butt planted on the table top.

An older man and woman sat down in folding chairs at our table to watch the Elvis impersonator. She had gray hair and appeared normal. He had gray hair and wore a sleeveless shirt. He sat down and shortened the leash on his service dog, a white lab who laid at his feet. We noticed the guy's shoulder and arm tattoos: a non professionally inked Howdy Doody, a character from a  children's show, circa 1953; and a Marine Corp insignia, among others.

She got up and moved her chair into the sun.
Out of the sun.
A few feet this way.
A few feet that.
A table over, and then back to us.

He moved with her each time. Then he got in her face and mouthed off quietly, and she pointed her finger in his face and told him to calm down. They played musical chairs for about ten minutes, and when he got up to walk the mutt, she moved clear across the parking lot. He came back and couldn't find her. He was like a lost kid shrugging his shoulders, his head spinning in all directions. People in the crowd pointed him in her direction.  She motioned him with her index finger, patted a chair and invited him to come join her.

Meanwhile, without discussion, Bill had been observing their behavior. He whispered, "Either his mom has driven him crazy, or maybe he's a Viet Nam vet, and that's why he needs that service dog."

"Maybe," I replied.

Elvis announced his next selection, a slow song, Love Me Tender. Couples got up to dance. As we observed the dancers, Bill nudged me. "Look. He's sicker than I thought. Look at how close he's dancing with his mom and caressing her backside. Oh sheesh, his hands are traveling..."

I asked, "Where's his mom?"

Bill puzzled, "Isn't that his mom he's dancing with?"

"What makes you say that?"

"Well she was pointing at him and telling him to behave."

I laughed out loud, which drew unwanted attention to myself.

"That's not his mom; that's his wife."

There were so many clowns at that event, and not one of them wore a painted face or red nose.