To write a book…

charlie-chaplin-392926_1280When I was in school I hated American History. I thought it was boring. I thought that since other countries had been around so much longer, they were obviously much more interesting.

Now that I am older, I am no longer so excluding. For the past few weeks I’ve been focused on the American Civil War. My attention was peaked last year when I did some family history research. It was more recently that I received a book of local ghost stories that pinged that interest again.

Then I spoke with another writer who I greatly admire. I told him that I had been thinking about writing a book that takes place during the civil war. I recounted what I had found out about my family, and he said: That sounds like a good place to start. Why don’t you?

That “Why don’t you?” Has been echoing around the empty cavern of my skull for weeks.

I tried to use the excuse, “Well, life has so many changes going on right now, with the new job and going back to school…”

My inner writer answered with, “You don’t work on the weekends and part of your degree is going to be in History anyway.”

Then the dragon of self doubt raised its head and said, “Do you really think you can find anime_dragon_1024x768-634320the time to write a book? Look how well that has worked in the past. You have three unfinished novels sitting on your computer right now. And remember that rejection letter. The one that hit the mark so well.”

The dragon almost got me. Then I remembered the rejection letter it was reminding me of was the catalyst I needed to pull up my boots and march back to school. The three unfinished novels reminded me that my current way of writing isn’t working very well and I need to try something new. (Not that those three will never be finished. Two are honestly in a rewrite stage but I changed things and got stuck in the muddle in the middle. Then proceeded to wallow in the muck.)

So now, with so many things already on my plate and with so many new challenges to face, I find myself stacking yet another task on top. I’m going to write a book. Sanderson Quote-800wi

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Changes come to Camelot

Hello everyone. I’ve been slacking a bit lately when it comes to blog posts. The truth is life
has been full of changes recently, which has left my mind foggy. It is hard to pick one thing to write about when there is so much going on and it is even harder when you are smack dab in the middle of all the changes that are happening.

Change is one of the constants in life. Things always change. Today is a big day for change too. Today I say good bye to the best boss I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for. She is off to greener pastures (and hopefully better pay).

It isn’t good bye forever of course. It is just the boss/employee part of our life journey has come to an end. Now, I hope we will stay connected as friends.

There will be more at a later date of the other changes going on in my life, but for the moment I will leave you with a poem that pretty much sums up how I am feeling.castle-195105_1280

Camelot Falls

By Tammi A. Miller

Camelot has fallen

Mordred is at the gate

The table is now splintered

And our lives left up to fate

Our Royal leader must depart

To travel Avalon’s golden shores

We are knights without direction,

Boats who have come unmoored

We will not long stay adrift

Using knowledge our leader taught

Yet a bit of worldly good is gone

Such a truth can not be fought

Our banner has been trampled

The staff broken by unnamed foes

The colors stained and tarnished

Our morale crushed by heavy blows

We still have our beaten armor

And with it, weapons sharp

We can battle by strength and mind

Though what we lack is heart

We are without a sovereign true

Without a mentor to guide the path

We must choose all on our own

How to miss mistake’s quick lash

Camelot has fallen

Mordred is at the gate

The table is now splintered

And our lives left up to fate.

I am not Mary Poppins

mary-poppins-bagI’ve been rather down lately, in both body and spirit. As one heals I try to focus on raising up the other too. Not feeling well in body can dampen low spirits evern further.

It has been really hard to think and focus. Like my brain is so busy trying to steady the spinning world that it doesn’t have room for things like words or holding on to thoughts. I find this incredibly frustrating.

Then a couple of days ago I decided to check my email. My writing ego, which was already beginning to look like a flap jack, took another hit. I got a rejection letter. That isn’t unusual. I get them all the time. However, this letter left about a paragraph of actual honest usable feedback.

Normally I would be really happy about that. Feed back is a good thing. Non-form letters are good things. The problem was that I liked the story I wrote quite a bit. There is nothing wrong with that either, except I came away with the feeling of being exceptionally clever and I let that writing high go straight to my ego.

The story was average but shows promise. I just have yet to develop that promise. You see I learned a few things writing that story and, like a kid who just learned to tie her shoes, I felt like I had mastered the secrets of the universe. Then when these other kids come by and point out that my shoes have come untied, I am humbled and embarrassed. It is hard to swallow that my tying skills/ writting skills are still lacking more practice.

Humble pie, like many things that are good for us, doesn’t taste that great. I am not Mary Poppins. I am not “practically perfect in every way”, though sometimes I think I am. My umbrella doesn’t talk or fly. However, with practice, maybe it will keep off the rain.

From Japan to Greece

IMG_20160409_122329794_HDRSaturday the kids and I drove up to our state capitol in Nashville for a Cherry Blossom Festival. We had a good time. My son learned how to make an origami throwing star, we watch some martial arts demonstrations, and we ate too much. I also learned about taro when I bought a strange white and lavender muffin.  (It is kind of like a potato.)

We left the festival around 3pm and were on our way home when we decided to change direction. It was our first trip to Nashville and even though we had a three hour car ride to look forward to, it seemed a shame not to explore just a little more. That was how we went from celebrating Japanese culture to exploring Ancient Greece. (Well, sort of.)

In 1897 Nashville held an Exposition to celebrate Tennessee’s 100th anniversary as a state. For six months crowds flocked to hear speeches, play games, and watch parades. They also came to see a massive replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Sadly, that replica was built of plaster and did not withstand time. By 1920 the structure was crumbling.IMG_20160409_144243004

However, the city of Nashville decided not to let the fascinating building die. Instead the created a complete replica, inside and out, of the Greek temple using more permanent materials. While the Parthenon in Nashville isn’t made of marble, it was build to the same dimensions and inspires a similar sense of awe. IMG_20160409_153927995_HDR

It is home to a statue of the goddess Athena that stands over 42 feet, with a smaller  6 foot
representation of the goddess Nike settled on her hand. (The original statue this one was model after has been lost to time and greed.) Standing at her feet it is nearly impossible not to stare up at the intimidating goddess and imagine her taking a step off of her carved pedestal.

IMG_20160409_145818225.jpgThe Parthenon also houses art exhibits on its lower levels, as well as a historical exhibit detailing its creation. The Cherry Blossom festival was fun. The Parthenon was fascinating. We all slept well once we reached home.

My Easter Sunday

tree flowersEaster Sunday was overcast with rays of sun peeking through
the clouds. Blossoms from the Bradford Pear in my yard lay scattered on the ground like a white carpet. It was a nice contrast to the green grass. I would have been lovely with multi-colored eggs scattered about as well.
But we didn’t hunt Easter eggs at my house. Instead we went over to my mom’s for Easter lunch and my eldest scattered Star Wars themed “eggs” in my mom’s flower beds for my youngest to find. We even took the dog. It was nice.

I enjoyed visiting my parents and seeing my brother and his wife. My daughter even got up the nerve to slip behind the steering wheel of our car. We drove up and down the same quarter of a mile road several times and she did very well.

Maybe it doesn’t sound like the most exciting Sunday, but it was well spent enjoying my family and adding to good memories. I would be hard pressed to come up with a better way to spend the time.

A Mountain Trip, Or How I Crashed a Funeral

We have been enjoying a couple of nice sunny days recently. Yesterday, I took advantage of that to pry the kids away from their electronics and take a trip into nature. We headed north toward the Great Smoky Mountains and Cades Cove. moutian

Cades Cove was settled by Europeans in the 1800’s but had long been roamed by Native Americans before then. Now it is a national park with a scenic drive, white tail deer, and restored rural dwellings and churches. The views are breathtaking and inspirational. Walking the trails, it is easy to see why settlers came to the area and decided to go no further.

deerMy kids complained a little about the lack of their usual entertainments, but my son soon forgot about mine craft when he handled actual quartz found in a cold mountain stream. We marveled at the height of the trees and stood just a few feet away from deer grazing in a field. Then we found a little twisting dirt road with a sign that announced a rural Baptist Church so we decided to follow it.

The road was a narrow bumpy ride through the trees and ended in a gravel parking lot with a little white wooden box of a church. My son remarked that: “It looks just like that Church in that show Nanny always watches.” (That show being The Waltons, and Nanny being what he calls my mom.) I agreed the two did look similar.

The gravel lot was crowded with cars. Other visitors were snapping pictures of the church set among the trees and some wandered the old fenced in graveyard. I thought the graveyard would be a good way to encourage my daughter out of her no wifi/phone signal funk.(She is a teenager.) She likes slightly creepy things.

That was when I noticed several people exiting the church dressed in black. I was a little confused at first because, while it was Sunday, it was a bit late in the day for a church service. We were nearly to the little gate that lead to the graveyard when I heard one of the women who had come down the steps say, “I wish they would stay away at least until we close the casket…” It all suddenly clicked into place. The freshly dug grave and the huge pile of dirt next to it helped to tip me off.

There was something the little white hand painted sign hadn’t told us. Not only was the Baptist Church still in current use but the graveyard behind it was as well. Realizing that we were trespassers at an emotional time, I quickly herded the kids back to the car. The other tourists snapping pictures; were still oblivious to the intrusion we all represented.

As we made our retreat as discreetly as possible, I heard the lady address two teenagers also dressed in black. She asked them if they were visitors to which they replied yes with wide eyed confusion. I don’t know if they were visitors to the park, or for the deceased. I left before finding out.

We passed two more churches on our scenic drive. They didn’t appear to be in session. The parking lots held only a few cars and there were no fresh graves that I could see, but we didn’t take any chances. stream

Gifts

paper-933661_640A few minutes ago I was standing at the kitchen table re-wrapping Christmas presents for my ex-husband and his wife. I needed to mail them out and the original wrapping job wasn’t going to fit in the box. In the background my mom was watching the world news.

I wasn’t really paying attention until she started complaining about how many shots were fired during something. I still don’t know what happened, but I do know that was the moment I started to hear the words echoing from my television rather than just enjoying it as background buzz.

I was wrapping Christmas presents while the world was falling apart. There were shootings, bombings, deaths, and babies being born addicted to drugs. My hands paused on the brightly colored paper. I didn’t reach for the tape. I just listened and it saddened my heart. It hurt.

atomic-bomb-966008_640
There is so much pain in the world. I stood still thinking about how I would heal it if I could. But what could I do? One single mom on the edge of welfare. The world is so big and there is so much hurt, what could my two hands do to help?

That was when I realized that I was already doing it. I was wrapping presents to my Ex and his wife. I was planning on taking some of money I try to stretch like elastic, and mail their presents across the country to where they now live.

With brightly colored paper and clear tape I was wishing them joy. I was wishing them happiness. Even as I wrapped their gifts I was hoping that they were things they would enjoy.a toast

They don’t even live in the same state as me any more. It would be too easy to just not worry about it. To say it is just too expensive to mail the package. Out of sight out of mind. But I didn’t.

I can’t touch the entire world but I can touch little parts of it. I can do what I can to forgive the hurts that touch me and to heal the ones that I come in contact with. I can’t fix everything but I can do little things. Maybe if we all try to do what little things we can, then they will add up to big things.

I can’t fix the world. But maybe if the world tried hard enough, it could fix itself. At the very least it would be a little brighter. hot-air-ballooning-436442_640