Travel

A September on Overload, An October to Embrace

chicago-ohare
Hall of Flags, Terminal 3 at Chicago O’Hare Airport

What a month September has been. Amid family crises, personal issues, another birthday and travel to Chicago, I feel like I’ve been on a whirlwind of emotions, back to back.

Now that my mom’s surgery is over and was successful, I can breathe. She was schooling me on her funeral plans and debating her DNR (do not resuscitate) paperwork, all which took a subconscious toll on my mental health.

My son’s car was hit by a police SUV, accidentally, and after realizing he wasn’t significantly hurt, I gave thanks. Sharing my car with him for three weeks, hassling with insurance, and medical visits was troublesome but we made it through.

Getting another year older, seeing more gray hair and another wrinkle, or two, has its own issues, but hey, it’s better than the alternative.

Every week in September I received a rejection notice from some lit agent. File that in pfft.

Last week I got to travel to Chicago. That was a highlight of the month.

Chicago hot dogs (at Portillo’s) and deep dish pizza are every bit as good as the Chicagoans brag about.

Chicago Hot Dog, Portillo's
Chicago Hot Dog, Portillo’s

Now I know why Chicagoans call pizza, a pizza pie and why Giordano’s is in the business of shipping frozen pies to your hometown. Two slices and you’re done for the evening, but the next day you want more.

Giordano's pizza pie-Chicago
Giordano’s pizza pie-Chicago

We enjoyed an architectural and history tour of Chicago via boat-outstanding views of the skyline. The art museum is a gem as is Millennium Park, but what’s up with the crowds at Cloud Gate (The Bean)? This stainless steel sculpture got hordes of attention.

The Cloud Gate or Bean in Millennium Park, Chicago
The Cloud Gate or Bean in Millennium Park, Chicago

I have too many photos to post here, but if you’re interested and ‘do’ Instagram, I’ve just begun posting photos of my travels, art I find interesting, and insightful quotes.

In the meantime, I’m going to stretch and exhale for the next few days. I need to ‘re-center’ myself. Which may be the reason why this photo resonated with me. (By the way, the BMX rider isn’t falling, he’s popping a wheelie).

For more astonishing sports photos, see the Red Bull Illume 2016 Winners.

Here I go into October.

Bicyclist in Germany-Winner of the Illume Image Quest, sports photography.
Bicyclist in Germany-Winner of the Illume Image Quest, sports photography.

 

Anne Lamott self care quote
Healing, Health, poetry, Self Care, tough times, Wisdom

What to Do When You Don’t Feel Safe

Anne Lamott self care quote
Unplugging-Anne Lamott

This has been a frightening week, interspersed with personal trying periods, and a need to bury my head for a couple of hours at a time.

My daughter texted me after the tragedy in Nice, France.

iPhone text
Text One
iphone text
Text Two

 

I hated that she felt unsafe. I hated that I couldn’t stretch my arms across 1,000 miles and give her a hug, kiss her forehead. All I could offer her was to look for hope and to take a deep breath.

But I had to remember that feeling unsafe doesn’t mean that we are.

This was my reaction to feeling powerless, angry, and fearful.

I wanted to share the power of prayer with her, but she isn’t Christian or of any faith anymore. That in itself added to my sadness. But, also gave me the opportunity, later, to have a conversation with her about why I pray and how that helps me.

That night the news across all channels broadcast the tragedy. Soon there was another world event, the attempted coup in Turkey, and another, the sniper attack on police officers in Baton Rouge.

I had to keep the television off and stay off social media. My mind, spirit, and body were out of whack.

My attempts at ‘righting’ myself was to practice some self-care. I tried to find ways to relax and experience safety.

The garden beckoned. The Monarch caterpillars had decimated the milkweed leaving it a skeletal reminder of a once gorgeous fiery orange headed plant. Meanwhile, new butterflies showed off acrobatic skills over the remaining fronds of the second milkweed bush.

Butterfly acrobatics
Butterfly acrobatics

While watering the potted succulents I found that two blossomed with beautiful flowers. Being in the garden helped and somehow pushed me to go to the gym and exercise.

Flowering Christmas Cactus in July-Southern Calif.
Flowering Christmas Cactus in July-Southern Calif.

That evening I decided not to go out and sat in my backyard coloring. My sister gifted me with the adult coloring books a few months back. This may sound cheesy, but I felt a lot of pleasure wielding the colored pencils, so much that I had to go buy me a box of Crayola crayons, the giant 64 set box.

The next day, I read a mesmerizing book of poetry written by a man who had been a slave and put into the ‘service’ of a wealthy slave owner as a child of six years of age. Although his verses expose the cruelty of slavery, his poetry reflects the beauty he finds with his parents and his own world.

Book of poetry, cuban poet Juan Francisco Manzano
The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle. Poetry of Juan Francisco Manzano.

Meditation via my cell phone is a life saver. I either go to Pandora and listen to Deepak Chopra or I go to the Oprah channel and listen to one of Chopra’s 21 days of meditations. (Many times they are free).

On Sunday, I attended church service where I’m a greeter a couple of times a month. As I passed out bulletins to numerous families, teenagers and the elderly, the smiles people gave after a “good morning, I hope you enjoy the service” enlivened me.

I wondered why I felt a new energy, and it dawned on me that although the people were heavily burdened, they were trying to live and do the best they could.

Over the weekend, I kept in close contact with my daughter and shared the photos above with her. I don’t know if this helped her but it sure helped me.

Do the best you can. Create your own safe space. Hugs. 

 

 

 

Encouragement, Writing

41 Fearless Ways for #Writers To Stay Motivated

writing tips to build your writing career
From yourwriterplatform.com

Have you ever had those days when you’re so unmotivated to write that you’d rather vacuum the rug? When you think of giving up on ‘building’ a writing career? Me too.

This usually happens to me when I’m faced with another revision or starting a new piece of writing or receiving another rejection slip.

Keeping on task and moving forward isn’t easy.

Well, serendipity struck and I came across a fabulous article from Your Writer Platform. After I read the tips I thought of each one as a brick in the process of writing and in the steps to a writing career. (Pun intended).

I’ve added two more tips to their fine suggestions.

Tip #40: Relax: Chill out, it’s not the end of the world. So what you take a brief break from writing.

Tip #41: Dream. Novels are made of this stuff.

Dream
Dream

I hope you enjoy the Your Writer Platform blog post. And keep writing, even if it’s in your head.

 

 

Encouragement, Faith, Inspiration, Writing

Don’t Meltdown When You Feel Like Giving Up

quote on not giving up

Have you ever had months or weeks when you just want to throw up your hands and give up? One of those weeks when not much made sense, you asked ‘why?’ and the gloomy clouds outside matched your mood?

Yeah, I had a month of those weeks in my writing life.

But a great thing happened in the midst of the dark. I didn’t have a meltdown because other people’s posts and words (which I stumbled upon) lifted me above the clouds; especially this week.

I want to share these words and say thank you to the writers/bloggers who I came across in the past seven days:

“I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” Anne Lamott

A revolutionary patience. I loved hearing hope described in that way.

“misery shared is misery halved, and joy shared is joy doubled.”

At Publishing Crawl, author Stacie Lee and Stephanie Garber gave encouragement with their post, Moving Beyond Rejection. My misery halved.

Bustle.com had an article on Octavia Butler’s Letter to Herself:

Octavia Butler's letter on writing, books,
Octavia Butler’s Letter to Herself-archives Huntington Library

Some humorous pet photos passed my way and the laughter lifted my spirits:

dog with eyebrows, humor, pets
Yeah, I got my eyebrows done. What do you think?

An angel appeared:(from Gerry Wilson’s blog).

brandonangel

12 reminders to live passionately  dropped into my email box.

And this past weekend I went to a woman’s worship service and Sunday service. The message from one: You can worship through your hardship.

The message from our ‘tell it like it is’ pastor: “Hard Life, Good God.” He spoke on the reality of trials, that they are unavoidable but purposeful.

Yes, it was ‘one of those months,’ but I heard the message loud and clear.

When we don’t know what to do pray, ask for wisdom, have faith, and believe.

I feel better already!