The Muse LELA

The Muse LELA

This is my first week back to work/writing since my return from Mount Hermon.

I feel inspired and excited and beyond enthusiastic. I also feel sick to my stomach, as if I’ve taken on too much and am overwhelmed.

Enter, LELA.

In my mind’s eye, Lela is a vermillion-haired beauty with twinkling green eyes, dimples and a smattering of freckles across sun-kissed cheeks. An enchantress you would find on the moors with mist about her feet and the laugh of a devious sprite. She is part muse, part conscience.

Besides all of those things in my mind’s eye, LELA is a command center writing collaboration built with two other artists. LELA is a brain trust, a conservation of effort, a duplication of exposure, a wellspring of encouragement and enthusiasm and sometimes even the shackles that keep my feet planted firmly on terra firma. It is my pride and my modesty, it is my will and my conscience. It is my lofty dreams and my fear. It is reckless abandon and common sense all rolled into one. It is exactly the kind of grouping an artist needs, the kind of grouping I need. These artists are my “Go Pro” team and our collaboration is named LELA.

If you’ve read Steven Pressfield’s War of Art, you will instantly know what “Going Pro” is. (If you haven’t read it, check out my review here.)

As for the team element of Going Pro, it is a concoction of a mastermind group, a support group and a group of new, but trustworthy friends. When I decided to become a professional writer, it required a mental commitment. Since writing isn’t always the surest of incomes, it is sometimes hard to remember you are a professional writer when you are in between paychecks. When you are “in the trenches” so to speak. Especially in a society where success is measured in dollar signs.

A GoPro Team helps you stay focused and reminds you that you are in it for the art of it all, not just for the money. Money is lagniappe. You are in it because your soul tells you to be in it. You are driven there. It is easy for an artist to be solely driven and lonely and to hold an audience of zero in the pursuit of their art, but it isn’t necessary. As a matter of fact, I highly suggest you don’t go it alone. Having some steadfast, intelligent, similarly structured beings with whom to share your ideas can sometimes keep you from making a boneheaded mistake in the name of art. It can save you from wasting valuable hours.

However, not just any group will do. I’ve been a part of different, wide-ranging groups and I’ve met countless people in the writing world and it took me ages to find LELA and it happened rather organically.

I pursued two-thirds of my group (for you math wise folks, yes, it means I pursued everyone but myself). These were artists I met, admired, and wanted to be when I grow up — even though I’m the oldest of the bunch. I pursued them as friends. I pursued them as people to look up to, mentors. However, I did not pursue them as a GoPro Team. Yet that is what they became. And I’m grateful for that organic metamorphosis. Truly. And I pray I give as good as I get.

I will introduce you to my beautiful, exquisite GoPro team in weeks to come. No need keeping all of their greatness to myself, as tempting as that is.

I urge all of you artists out there to recognize that this doesn’t have to be a solo venture. God brings people in and out of your life for a purpose. You may already be in the presence of those who will help you reach greater depth in your art. Look around. Pursue if you have to.

By all means, Go Pro.

Great Grab and Go Keyboard

Great Grab and Go Keyboard

I had some Amazon gift cards burning holes in my pocket. The trouble was choosing what to buy with them.

Seriously, my Amazon Wishlist is a ridiculous exercise in total greed and my want button is turned up to 11. However, I AM quite capable of exercising restraint, so I scanned my wants for a useful item that won’t quickly get set aside and clicked Buy It Now.

I love getting boxes from Amazon. Especially when my busy life has me forgetting I even ordered anything. Seeing the box on my front porch quickly reminded me of my purchase and I was EXCITED to open the box. This was not an Amazon delivery of toilet paper or dog food. This box held potential.

I chose the little keyboard pictured above.  It is the Logitech iPad Keyboard and Stand Combo.  It works with iPad, iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th generation), iPad mini and the iPhone. (Don’t fret, there is an android version too.)

It is Bluetooth enabled so I can use it with my phone and can comfortably work anywhere. For power, it uses triple A batteries so I don’t have to worry about charging cables etc. So far, it is really cool and I can’t say enough about it. It fits in my purse and the keyboard is full sized so I don’t end up with cramped hands. I’m actually writing this blog with it as we speak.

Its connection is not jagged or delayed. It is as smooth as if I am typing directly into my device. With every word, I grow more and more fond of this tech-savvy do-dad.

I’m totally digging it. So, how am I going to use it? First, I’m going to download the Scrivener App to my iPad mini and see how I like working on that, so I don’t always destroy the charge on my phone running Bluetooth-enabled peripheral gadgets. And since the connection is flawless, I can see myself typing blogs from the carpool lane and working on my manuscript anywhere inspiration strikes. I don’t have to preplan and have my laptop with me.

You should try this. Definitely worth finding the money in your budget, or the next time someone asks what you want for your birthday, suggest an Amazon Gift Card.

And I’ve gotta say, I might get these for my children. It is so much cheaper than buying them laptops and they can type right into the Google Docs App for their papers for school. Win/win.

You can buy this keyboard for your Apple products here:

You can get the Android version here:

 

My Husband’s Hands

My Husband’s Hands

I had a dream the other day. It doesn’t seem like much, and to most people it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But the dream has been bugging me all week.

In my dream, I am with my husband, BigTough, and his new family (which he doesn’t have in real life – totally make-believe) at a local ice cream shop. He has a notebook full of things from his youth, stories he has written, and ribbons he has won in track and field. He has a little screen with him. He pops in a home movie to show his new family. In the video I see close-ups of different art projects he worked on as a child, and report cards. All the things that represent his history. Then I see a close-up of him shuffling through papers.

Up until this point in the dream, I was fine. I sit across from his new bride with a big smile on my face. But when I see his hands I lose my mind.

Those hands are supposed to hold my hands.  Those hands are supposed to wipe away my tears. Those hands are supposed to run up and down my back when he holds me crying after our nest is empty.

Those hands are mine.

Now I don’t have a clue what this means, Except that I love him. I guess people put so much stock in what others look like, and what they themselves look like, when it’s something greater than that that makes a person beautiful.

I love my husband’s hands. I love them most when they’re holding mine.

My husband is handsome.

But you should see his hands.

Jigsaw Puzzle Manuscript

Jigsaw Puzzle Manuscript

Every once in a while I do something crazy.  Like yesterday.  I shaved nearly 10,000 words off of Act one of the Proving Ring and started rearranging things.

The characters have fleshed themselves out and know better where they need to be in the timeline than I did when I typed the first sentence of this manuscript.

So today I am putting all of the pieces together again.  At first I was nervous with an “OMG, WTF did I do?” moment.  But with the initial panic over, I see a tighter, leaner, meaner story.

 

The War of Art – by Steve Pressfield

The War of Art – by Steve Pressfield

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” – Steven Pressfield

It is rather appropriate that the first book I’m choosing to review for this blog is a book that I am driven to live every day.

I have wrestled with the artist part of my being for as long as I can remember.  I pushed it down and tried to find more acceptable pursuits. (Acceptable in the eyes of friends, family and society where success is measured in dollar signs.)   If not art, then in law as a paralegal, or in teaching.

I suffocated in self-inflicted professions as anything but author.

The most fun I’ve had outside of writing is teaching.  Perhaps because teaching can be an art — when done with passion. And a part of me gained satisfaction knowing I could be something important to a few. As gratifying as it often was, I still was very aware of it not being the best of me.

There have been many voices keeping my artistry pushed deep within me and keeping me hiding it from the world.  Oddly, the ones I listened to so completely had never read a word of my writing.

However, The War of Art  points out something I never wanted to believe.  It points out that this Resistance with a capital R — the influence that keeps us from our higher selves — is something we’ve each created within ourselves.  There becomes an addiction to not living up to our potential. And not living to our potential is easy.  An even easier with the multitude of excuses so readily available to the angst riddled artist.

Do we have to stare death in the face to make us stand up and confront Resistance? – Steven Pressfield

This book helped me realize I was the only thing keeping me back.  I need to make changes and I need to change now. And the power to push through is within me.

If you have even the slightest inkling to pursue something that puts you on a higher plane — painting, writing, singing, entrepreneurship to name but a few — then by all means read this book.

See what you can achieve. But don’t only try once.  Work every day at being the higher, better you. It is a war of sorts, made of many battles, none of which are cheap.

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day. – Steven Pressfield

I know that “following my dream” is just another way of saying “living to my potential.”  Living to the capabilities given me by my Creator.  And I know the greater my pursuit is of IT, the greater the pull of Resistance.

The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we feel toward pursuing it. – Steven Pressfield

Buy the book here:

Hiding From Wonder Woman

Hiding From Wonder Woman

I thought the women in  my life were strong.

I’ve grown up and I realize they were weak.  They were hiding.

The women in my life hid behind their men.  They hid behind convention.  They hid behind their faith. They hid behind the fear of all that could go wrong. They hid behind the shear act of existing.

And they taught me to do the same.

I’ve spent years of my life in hiding.  Not like witness protection hiding, where you are hiding because you are part of something bigger than yourself, but the kind of hiding where you’re fine never leaving a mark.  Never. Leaving. A. Mark.

When I was a little girl, I had a particularly strong affection for Wonder Woman and Princess Leia.  These were strong women. But they weren’t real.  They were fantasy and not something of this world. As much as I wanted to be Wonder Woman or Princess Leia, I was taught they were nothing more than fodder for dress-up.  They were who I could be when I was playing pretend. But for the real world – it was required I be a white-soled sneaker.

On the gym floor of life, I would never leave a mark.

Now, with half of my life behind me, I realize I’ve been wrong.

Wonder Woman and Princess Leia were the physical manifestations of the dreams of the collective girlhood of the 1970s in America.

Who didn’t want to fly an invisible plane? Who didn’t want to be a SPACE PRINCESS? No one. Duh.

But more importantly, who didn’t want to be significant somehow, in something that is right or good, or beautiful?

Girls of the 1970s realized maybe there was more. Maybe we could have actual dreams and not be outcasts for it. (Gasp. I know.  Startling, isn’t it.)

It took me awhile, but I’ve finally caught up. Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not hoisting a late-unfurling flag of feminism.  That’s not who I am.  I have a deep affection for many of the things modern feminism doesn’t enjoy, BUT I can be Princess Leia.  I can wind my hair in thick buns over each ear and fight a good fight. I can be Wonder Woman, grab my golden lasso and stand up for truth. To emulate my heroes does not mean I’m playing at life.  It means I’m living it.  Living it with wind in my hair and the sun on my face.

Yes, the women in my life hid behind their men when they should have been standing beside them.  They hid behind convention when they should have been re-writing the rules.  They hid behind their faith when God never asked them to be less than what He made them to be. They hid behind the fear of all that could go wrong when risk brings reward. They hid behind the shear act of existing without ever living.

I’ve abandoned what I was taught. I’ve written a new story for myself. And I’ve written it with a sharpie marker for everyone to see and no one to erase. I’ve hid from Wonder Woman for far too long.

As for the invisible jet? Wouldn’t that make car pool more fun?

Pick A Lane

Pick A Lane

As a writer, I spend a lot of my time in coffee shops. I know it sounds cliché, but coffee shops are pretty great places to be. The coffee is never-ending. There’s usually bites that are not good for the hips but perfectly great for the soul. And if you put your earbuds in, you can pretend all the other people there, aren’t there at all.

This morning I wanted to get a few hours of writing in before I headed to my day job. It was supposed to be my day off, so I pushed it to the very last second, as I’m known to do. (inner rebel) Perhaps even a few minutes longer than I should have, while waiting for my go-cup of coffee.

I made my way to the parking lot. I found my car with ease. I got in, put it in reverse and zipped down the lane to the exit of the strip shopping center.

Brake lights.

I found myself behind a woman in a white SUV. Midsize. Rather new. I could see her reflection in her side view mirror. She looked coiffed. Put together.

But she didn’t seem to have a clue where she was going.

She looked to her left. She looked to her right. She looked forward.

She kept the car stopped and in one position, straddling both her lane and the lane of oncoming traffic. There was no room to maneuver around her.

At first I was frustrated.  I said to myself, “Not everyone is confused lady, some of us know where we’re going. Some of us even know how we want to get there.”

That’s when the similarities to the situation and writing came to mind. I am blessed to know many writers. And I know many people who want to be writers. But they’re just sitting still, straddling the lanes and looking around.

They don’t seem to know what to do.  They don’t seem to know where to go.

I consider myself one of the fortunate ones.  I have a prize in mind. And it’s not what you might think.

I want my stories read, my voice heard.

I want my voice out in the cosmos — as weak and feeble as my voice might sometimes be. I’m in my writing driver’s seat and I’ve chosen a lane.

I have a plan. I have a mind map. I have a calendar filled with goals and dates by which I want to achieve said goals. But I wasn’t always like this.

I was that woman, sitting in the car, not knowing where to go, for nearly all of my life.

I had a good professional life, which I set aside to be a mom and a caretaker for various family members who were gravely ill, some of whom have shuffled off this mortal coil.

But besides that, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was forty-something, still wondering what I was going to do when I grow up.

I love to write. (and yes, I smiled when I wrote that)

I always have. Since I first set crayon to construction paper. But being a writer didn’t translate in my world. I didn’t know how to make writing a  career. I was caught up in the monetizing, legitimizing, confidence eroding elements of “being” a writer. My mind equated career with financial success. And it was ruining me.

Sometimes, I don’t know if I’ll ever make much more than a dime from this. I definitely recognize that the hours I put in versus the money I receive don’t really add up. No one would call me a success, well most people, anyway. And that’s ok, because I believe my riches are greater still than anything you can figure with a calculator.

I’m happy. I’m delighted. I’m overjoyed. And I’m humbled to be an artist.

I’m excited to finally lay claim to that which has pretty much been a part of my soul since the moment I could speak.

I AM A STORYTELLER by birth and a writer by trade.

As long as I keep telling my stories, creating new worlds and new people, something of me will exist when my physical self no longer wanders this plane. I will exist.

In the mist. In the ether. In the eternal.

Physically, in the now. And in the later.

We’re all either neck-deep in the muck, searching for our souls’ desires, or we are straddling the lanes, knowing not which way to go. But each of us hopes we might figure out what our soul’s desire might be.

Soon.

Long before we draw our last breath.

Art is a dynasty. Even when the art is only for yourself.

Steven Pressfield wrote in Turning Pro, “What you and I are really seeking is our own voice, our own truth, our own authenticity.”

Whatever soul-searching venture the well coiffed, SUV driving lost soul, might be struggling with, I hope she finds what she needs. I hope she finds her way.

Dying in the Carpool Lane

Dying in the Carpool Lane

I’m a true foodie to my core, but I must admit, I really enjoy Chick-FIL-A breakfast biscuits with a crispy side of tots.

This morning, on the way to school I hit the drive through to get that yummy chick-fil-a breakfast before speeding off to the next school in my dreaded carpool lineup.

Finally, breakfast half eaten, I arrive at the last school of the morning. Eldest daughter is dropped off with goodbyes and I love you kisses and best wishes with confirmation of the time I’m expected back this afternoon. Now I can finish my breakfast while I navigate back to the house.

With my biscuit fully consumed, I have only a few tots left as I start to plow my way through the impatient sea of minivans and SUVs. Traffic slowing to a near standstill, I dip my tot into my tiny vat of chickfila sauce.

Then something happens. My years (like nearly 45 of them) of eating experience failed me. Rather than swallow that little chunk of sauce soaked potato, I inhale. Not in the eat fast way but in the “oh-my-God-I’ve-got-potato-in-my-lungs” way.

A fit of coughing, the likes of which I’ve not experienced before, overwhelms me. People behind me honk to speed up the line, which mind you was transitioning from stationary to snails’ pace. I try to scoot up, not letting my fellow carpoolers down, fully understanding my carpool exit strategy responsibilities. But, HELLO, I’m dying in here.

I continue to cough, wheeze, and gasp. Tears are streaming down my purple face. This is it.

With a phlegm filled hack I pound my chest and see stars, thinking I’m going to pass out. I cough so hard I’m sure I scared birds out of the trees and somehow misaligned newly forming planets. After all I was dying. I can be mildly irritating. The universe would give me a pass on that right?

Thoughts run through my head like “Who will pick up my kids?“and “Man, are the people behind me going to be pissed when I die and block their way out of here.”

Then the unthinkable happens.

With that last ginormous, raging hack I pee just a little. My thoughts are interrupted. “Did I just pee?”

My lungs still aching from lack of air, I convulsively cough again.

Did I just pee again?

By now I’m turning onto the main road. Mighty fine carpooler here. Now no one will be blocked in the driveway by my dead, urine soaked body.

I continue down the main road. Coughing. Peeing. Coughing. Peeing. All for another mile or so.

Wiping tears off my cheeks, it dawns on me. I don’t want to die in carpool covered in spit, phlegm, and pee with potato chunks and chickfila sauce stuck to my purple face.

I want to live! Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus! And you’re right Dorothy, there is no place like home. Damnit.

With a new lease on life and a serious debt owed to my guardian angel I’m off for a shower and an upholstery shampoo. Having used up a fair amount of today’s luck I really hope I don’t trip on the soap.

Happy New Year

So after several tumultuous years away from my blog, I’m coming back. 2017 is the year of personal growth for me.

I’m not making resolutions. I’m just moving forward on those items I’m wanting to do/change/grow.

For me personally, 2016 sucked. On many levels. So change is good. And needed.

But before I can look too far ahead, I want to say a quick goodbye to many we lost in 2016.

https://youtu.be/DD1mxPBHqc4