Friday, May 31, 2013

Crossing Bridges

I've put up a new post at my Inspiring Thoughts and Pictures Blog

This time, both the words and the photo are mine. The picture was taken during our trip to England last September - one of the highlights of my life. It was taken at Stourhead House, a National Trust property not far from where our friends live in Bath. We had the loveliest day there, which I'll always remember forso  many reasons, not the least of which is young Orla's declaration that it had been a Yummy Beautiful Day!

Click HERE to go the blog.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day

Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart. When I was little, we had a huge flag that had lain over the coffin of a family member who had been in the military and we draped it over the bay window, pretty much covering half of the front of our small home.

Memorial Day meant our town parade - and it was a good one! In addition to the veterans and scout troops, we had the Clan MacPherson bagpipers. When you heard them coming, man, it just sent chills up your spine.

The parade always paused at the town common for a reading of "In Flanders Fields", which gave me goose bumps even as a little kid. Later in the day, we took geraniums to plant on the family graves. I always knew it was about more than the hot dogs - it was about remembering.

As I grew older, I came to better understand the full meaning of Memorial Day. I had always thought of it as a day when we remembered our loved ones who had died - meaning our own family. Later I understood the larger context of honoring those who served our country and died for freedom. Our common bond of sacrifice and loss.

I am a yoga teacher, and some folks in the world of yoga have at times expressed the sentiment that patriotism is not a very enlightened state - that it creates a sense of nationalism that can separate us from one another.This is because in yoga we recognize that we are all one, all from the same source, and that it is focusing on our differences or separateness that keeps us at odds with each other.

While I agree that if we can really see our oneness in each other's eyes, we can be more at peace with one another, I DON'T feel that loving my country and expressing that love and pride necessarily creates separateness. I think it is just fine to be proud of where you're from -wherever that is, and to celebrate it.

I am especially proud of Americans when I see how we respond to tragedies like the Sandy Hook shootings, the Boston Marathon bombings and the tornadoes in Oklahoma - with selfless bravery, kindness, compassion and generosity. Whenever people think that Americans are just fat, lazy, entitled and only interested in what Kim Kardasian is wearing or who wins American Idol, they are suddenly confronted with the faces of third grade teachers who threw their bodies over children to protect them, of First Responders AND private citizens who ran toward bomb victims instead of away, and of a little boy named Martin who held up a sign that read, "No More Hurting People."

Sometimes (often?) I don't like what the leadership of my country does, but I feel so fortunate to be free, to live in a land where it is not just okay, but expected, to say what I think. I feel this especially as a woman, as when I see how women are still so oppressed in so many countries - how the oppression of women is an integral part of the politics of many countries - it utterly breaks my heart.

So, I am proud to say Happy Memorial Day to us all - to all who live in freedom, wherever you live. And even as we say "Happy" Memorial Day, we recognize that the happiness we find in our freedom came from sacrifice, sorrow and loss. And today I send a prayer to all who do not live in freedom, that soon it will come to you too.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Beware of the White



Launch Day for BEWARE OF THE WHITE by Kai Strand!

I'm delighted to be participating in the launch of Kai Strand's new book, Beware of the White. Kai writes fiction for kids and teens. Her books also include The Weaver, The Wishing Well and Save the Lemmings. Check out her Author Page on Amazon.com.

Read on for a story summary, a tantalizing excerpt and Buy the Book links:





As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Natures Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.



The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld,
responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after
themselves until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.



With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra
attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together,they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, itcomes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new
Spirit earn back the peace of the city?



Excerpt:



Even though her heart did its best imitation of a hummingbird, her palms slick with sweat and her legs desperate to kick into flight mode, Terra somehow sensed it wasn’t unexpected for her to stare at an elf-like creature standing politely in her bedroom at two in the morning.


“What are you?” Her voice, barely a whisper, shook with fear. She clutched the comforter under her chin, ready to throw herself under her covers if he bared spiked teeth and razor sharp claws.

The creature stepped into a beam of moonlight streaming through the window. Terra gasped and blinked—more like a hole in the wall, which used to be a window. A cool night breeze wafted through
the opening. She pushed herself into a sitting position and scooted as far into the corner of her bed as she could press herself, dragging her comforter with her.


The creature removed a pointy hat from his bald, bony head. “Please, young miss, let me introduce myself.” He bowed formally. “I am Hermie, your Introguide.” His voice was a strange mixture of croaky and squeaky. Only two feet tall, everything about him—his nose, ears, chin, and fingers—ended in points. Muddy colored skin blended into the shadows of the moonlit room. An expressive face framed eyes aglow with kindness and an engaging smile. Not a fang in sight, but Terra was still wary.


“But what are you? And what are you doing in my room?” Terra’s heart pounded so loud she barely heard her own strangled voice.


Replacing the hat on his head, Hermie said, “You, young miss, are one of our Natures Spirits, and I am your
Introguide. This is the Saturday past your twelfth birthday. I am here as aSpirit Ambassador to escort you to the Underworld. Tonight you will begin to learn what talents you possess and how best to use them in the Underworld cities.”


Terra narrowed her eyes as Hermie’s words sunk in. Bits and pieces of her mother’s odd behavior, earlier in the evening, started to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The cryptic comments of “Who’d have thought the twelfth year would arrive so quickly,” “Terra, your life is destined to change,” and “Don’t be afraid of the unknown” took on new meaning.  Yet she avoided answering whenTerra directly questioned her. Was this what her mom referred to? An odd creature showing up in the middle of the night. Why hadn’t she told her
outright?


“Hermie, do you know my mother?” Terra asked.

Buy the book: Click on the links to purchase Beware of the White.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Muse it Up

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"I'm Here"

Today I have a new favorite quote. Two words uttered by Amanda Berry, kidnapped and held prisoner for 10 years:
"I'm here."

They strike me as so poignant. She understood that everyone thought she was gone, and all the time she knew she wasn't "gone" at all. She was still here. How many times did she think those words? "I'm here. I'm here. I'm here."

Then she said three more beautiful words: "I'm free now."

"I'm here. I'm free now." 

You could quote Shakespeare and Browning and Longfellow all day long and you would find no words more beautiful than these.

Amanda, welcome back. You seem like an amazing person. So strong - to have held on to who you are all these years. To have given birth and raised and loved your daughter in your prison. How long you have waited to break free. How long you have waited to say those words. I'm here. I'm free now.

Amanda, I am so very very glad that You're Here. Michelle and Gina, welcome back to the world. I hope it will treat you with nothing but kindness now.





Friday, May 3, 2013

Can You Believe It's May Already?

I think we're all glad April is behind us - what a month filled with sadness and turmoil, yes? But can you believe it's already May??? And that means this year will soon be half over. Time goes by so fast....

We've been settled here in Florida for a full four months now and are very happy and content. Deciding to stop RVing was such an emotional decision for us, as we had originally thought to continue on. But L'il Ole Me needed a home.

I've come to believe that when things fall easily into place, it's a sign that you've made the right decision. That's how this choice feels, because once we made it, we immediately found this beautiful place to live, the RV sold and I was able to start teaching for a wonderful yoga studio.  My schedule is great and leaves lots of time for writing.

Here's some views from the condo we are renting - you can see why we like it:

A canal outside our lanai, and boats across the way


Sailboats silhouetted against the sunrise


My inability to write while we were on the road was one of the main reasons we stopped RVing. I know - it seems like I SHOULD have been able to write, but the reality was that the lifestyle just made me feel like I was on vacation all the time. It was great to go here there and everywhere, and see and do so many fun things. But I discovered that I need to be more grounded in order to write.

I'm pleased to say that the minute we changed course, my creative juices welled up like volcanic lava. I wrote some poetry and got back to writing Return to Canterbury, the sequel to The Christmas Village. I'm up to Chapter 31 and 25,000 words, which puts me at about 63%. It will be about the same length as The Christmas Village.  Still hoping to publish later this year.

I haven't been very active with this blog. These days I'm preferring to use it to help others promote their work as they publish. And I'm enjoying the simple creativity of my Inspiring Thoughts and Pictures blog, where I find a great quote to match up with one of my photographs. It's simple and soothing. I post 2 to 3 times a week, not every day. It's a quick way to start your day right - with beautiful words and images. You can follow by email. Here is the link:  INSPIRING THOUGHTS AND PICTURES BLOG. Please share it with your friends.

RVPainter has been painting up a storm and he's also had some sales success. He's doing once a week painting demos on his two blogs:  RVPainter and AhhhPuntahhhGordahhh. Some of his smaller paintings are available from his ETSY SHOP.

He's been doing many Florida scenes of course, but recently felt drawn to paint some Nubble Light and Pemaquid Light scenes - feeling nostalgic for when we lived in Maine. Here are a couple of examples of what he's been doing lately - the pictures might be a little dark - I can't tell on my computer:

Nubble Light, York, Maine

Pemaquid Light, Damariscotta, Maine
This painting is of the Mangrove in the Wildlife Preserve on Sanibel, Island. I like it because he really captured the feeling of the place, without having a lot detail. It reminds me of a fun day we shared with our friends Marylou and Jim when they were down here last month.

Mangrove, Sanibel Island, Florida
Jim, Marylou, Dick (aka RVPainter) and Me
at The Crab House in Punta Gorda, FL

We are putting together a book for Newbie RVers - I think it will be an e-book. RVPainter learned so much about RVing even before we hit the road, and he became quite the expert with tons of people following his blog. Some of our misadventures brought the most learning, and we'll be able to share all of it with the goal of helping others. And, it will be funny and entertaining too; a combination of good information and stories from the road. Funny how the worst parts of an adventure make for the best stories later ....

Events like those of last month always remind me to cherish the days and make the most of them. Sometimes making the most of them means just sitting and looking and listening and appreciating. I'm doing a lot of that these days. Hope you are too.

Have a good one!