What I learned this Summer – Reflections on my 17 year old’s list.

Kelsey's awesome shot of the Falls at Lake Weiss, AL.

As July ended, so did our visit with the children.  It is always wonderful to have them come and stay.  I miss the laughter and talks though, once they go back home, and find that my house is not as full with them gone.

As I go through and clean after their visits, it never fails that I find articles left behind by each of them.  Clothes, shoes, ipod cords, etc. are collected into little piles on the table, as I separate out what belongs to who.  This particular summer, I was fairly amused when I ran across a list constructed by my youngest daughter titled “What I Learned this Summer (Houston) (Towns County)”  {She lives in Houston with her dad and we live in Towns County}.

There were various things which she listed:

1. Never ask Calle for food. (Calle is my 21 year old)

2. Getting a learners permit is more difficult than people think.  (We tried to get one for her while she was here, but didn’t have the correct paperwork)

3. Jonathan only has one face expression. (I am assuming that is someone she knows in Houston)

4. Never hold a cat when its scared. (We have four kittens.)

5. Sitting on the side of a three person tube is not safe. (That one speaks for itself)

6. Lucky is fat. (Lucky is my dog, who is my best lake buddy, besides Kevin, and thinks he’s human)

7. Photography can be dangerous. (As a budding artist she takes tripod and camera and goes where no photographer has gone before)

8. Never follow Kyler on his “Adventures” (Kyler is my boyfriend’s 10 year old son)

9. Lakes are scary. (Tube episode)

10. Keagan’s band makes really good music. (Another friend)

Kyler at the base of the Falls at Lake Weiss

I think what struck me most about the list was the item “Don’t follow Kyler on any of his adventures.” I laughed, as I remembered the day we boated over the falls hidden in a little cove at Lake Weiss in Alabama.

The place is somewhat remote and away from the main course of traffic on the lake, in an area behind old brick pillars which still stand guard even after the rail road tracks which they held up years ago disappeared.  After anchoring your boat, you can either swim and hike back to the thunderous veil of water, or tie to the shoreline and follow a trail cut ages ago to the base, where you see Kyler (in the pic) sitting.  This particular day Kyler decided he and Kelsey should go hiking back there via the other side rather than the trail.  Some time had passed before I saw anything of them and I made Kevin go look for them, as I was getting rather concerned.  He took the trail, while his daughter, Carleigh and I soaked up the sun on the back of the boat.

A couple of hours passed before the group came back.  They were all very excited because they had made it back to the falls. (Last year was drought conditions, so the water wasn’t running).  Kevin proceeded to tell me that he watched from the other side as Kyler and Kelsey maneuvered around large boulders and pools of water, of which one time Kelsey held her tripod and camera over her head as the water got deeper.  He said he could see in their faces that both wanted to get there no matter what. ( So when Kelsey listed photography as being dangerous, I knew what she meant. )  I was proud of her for being so determined with her art and that she was so brave to follow Kyler, not on the easy trail, but over the harder obstacles.  (There is a lesson here.)

Reflecting upon the list with a grin, I measured it against myself – what had I learned this summer.    What transpired these past three months to make me stand up and take notice enough to make a list too?  Well I thought about it this whole week (which is why I have not blogged) and here is my “What I learned this Summer” list:

1.  Never say “I can’t” because Kevin is right behind me going “But you can, because you’re such an awesome woman.”

2.  Lucky IS fat, I’ve fed him way too much people food.

3. I have too many cats.  My kids are right, I’ll grow old and become the crazy cat lady.

4. My children, (even those who aren’t mine) are precious to me.

5. Summer was very busy and I’m glad school is starting soon.  (Did I just say that?)

6. Writing is only dangerous if poke your eye with the pencil.

7. I’d follow Kyler anytime on his adventures because he goes the most interesting places.

8. I’m glad I’m older so I don’t have to take any driving test or learner’s test.

9. I love our lake and camping, and look forward to next year with the kiddos out on the water.

Carleigh and Lucky

Enjoying Your Life – Knowing when to take a break from writing.

Tire swing in the back yard at the little yellow cabin.

Usually summertime is writing time for me as I take a break from school and studies.  The past couple of years it seems that my summer is progressing to being one of the busiest times of the year, making me wish for school to be back in session.  LOL! But I would not trade it for anything in the world.

My wonderful boyfriend’s two children come over from Oklahoma to visit as well as my daughter, Kelsey, from Texas.  Not only are we excited to have them, but since our little cabin is situated in the mountains of North Georgia, and we have a lake right down the road only ten minutes away, we are always doing something on the water, or at the ranch.  Our place has become a sanctuary for others in our family too.  We have had visitors since March this year, coming to enjoy the peaceful quality of Hiawassee, and to see us.

I remember when my children were younger, how stressful I would get when I knew I had much to accomplish, and never seemed to get anywhere during the day.  It would “freak me out” if I could not seem to get anything done on a timely basis.  I know my children thought I was very controlling about my schedule, and even told me so.  It was not until a few years ago when I had a mild heart attack that I realized they were correct, and I was not enjoying this life the way that it should be.  I always worked and never took the time to visit the simpler things in life.

I have always been the firm believer that the supreme being places us here on this earth to learn valuable lessons before we are graduated to higher plane.  This lifetime has taught me that I need to slow down and listen, look and ponder.  While my writing is very important, especially since I would like to finish Legends of Green Isle Series before I leave this existence, there are more important things that need my attention during the summer, and that is the children.  They are little only one time, and once they grow up, they will “freak out” about their lives and their children, and not have time for me then, until they need a babysitter.  🙂 And I am pretty cool about that.

Writing is very important to me, but now I look at it in a different way.  I write for my children, instead of wishing to be as famous.  I write to enjoy words like an artist enjoys painting colors on a canvas.  I write to give of myself, so that the future generation may see something of who I was.

Part of being a great writer is knowing when to shift your perspective, and taking a step back from the stress of everyday, to allow your soul to recharge.

Give someone a hug today just for the heck of it, and take a break just to hear the birds sing, the wind talk, and the insect call to each other.  It will do wonders for your mind, and your body, and give you a chance to be a little less stressed.

Chainbooks.com – Writer’s Wanted!

I’ve met this wonderful guy who has come up with a unique writing experience for everybody.  Chainbooks.com is a company which will soon be up and running on the web.  I really am impressed with Matt Evon and Chainbooks because as a future teacher, his goal is to make Chainbooks something that schools would eventually utilize in helping children experience writing chapter books, and at the same time teaching them to process and develop storylines, characters and enhance their writing ability.  It’s got great dynamics!!!

Matt still needs help with acquiring “Starter Chapters” though.  These “Starter Chapters” need to be about 2500 – 3000 words long.  As a “Starter Chapter” author, you receive a payment for the “Starter Chapter” plus you will receive royalty payments once the book is completed and copies sold (payment is based on how many are sold).  You can get more information at http://www.chainbooks.com/.

Putting your heart and soul into Writing – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Gilman

Back in 2003 when we first moved from Texas to Georgia, I was at a time in my life when I was doing some major healing and correcting.  Somewhere I had gotten lost, and did not recognize my own heart and soul.  I think our journey from Texas to Georgia was God’s way of taking me to a place where I could heal and get back on track with the goals I had set for myself a long time ago.

I remember reading a story called “The Yellow Wallpaper” in my English Literature class last spring semester (2010).  It was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who based the story on her own healing she went through.  During the early part of the 20th Century, women were frowned upon should they venture to doing anything outside the home, especially if it consisted of anything which showed women actually had brains.  Charlotte was a writer and artist, and told by a doctor to never do either, because it was affecting her domestic goddess position, causing her to be sick mentally.

In an article from 1913, Charlotte explains why she wrote the story:

“For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown
tending to melancholia–and beyond. During about the third year of this trouble
I went, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in
nervous diseases, the best known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and
applied the rest cure, to which a still-good physique responded so promptly that
he concluded there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with
solemn advice to “live as domestic a life as far as possible,” to “have but two
hours’ intellectual life a day,” and “never to touch pen, brush, or pencil
again” as long as I lived. This was in 1887.

I went home and obeyed those directions for some three months, and
came so near the borderline of utter mental ruin that I could see over.

Then, using the remnants of intelligence that remained, and helped by
a wise friend, I cast the noted specialist’s advice to the winds and went to
work again–work, the normal life of every human being; work, in which is joy
and growth and service, without which one is a pauper and a parasite–ultimately
recovering some measure of power.

Being naturally moved to rejoicing by this narrow escape, I wrote
The Yellow Wallpaper, with its embellishments and additions, to carry out
the ideal (I never had hallucinations or objections to my mural decorations) and
sent a copy to the physician who so nearly drove me mad. He never acknowledged
it.”

I connected to Charlotte’s story and article because I felt that, in some ways, being deprived of my art and my writing for such a long time, I almost went to mental ruin myself.  I lost myself for about ten years because I stopped doing any art.

For those who never have touched pen to paper, putting their heart and soul into writing, it would seem to them that the Doctor’s words may have been correct.  But to the contrary, writing is a means to which our heart and soul is expressed, allowing the emotions to spill forth in poetry or prose, washing us clean of the bottled up jumble of complexity which we need to convey to the world, but sometimes just can not find the right unspeakable words to do so.

I urge you to read “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

Creating my series Legends of Green Isle, other short stories and poems allow me to utilize my art in an intelligent way, to go somewhere beyond the hubbub of a 9 to 5 job, to express to my children my love, to give to my boyfriend a gift of myself through words, and to help others find another world to venture into if days are precarious.  As the main character in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” experienced the restriction of not being able to write, I believe, that should I be denied the time to write or create, it would put me into mental ruin. (But as Charlotte expressed, not to the point of complete degeneration, just enough to make me a little insane and angry.)

Being able to put my heart and soul into my writings help me to clear out the clutter of emotion which deluge me sometimes.  I feel more than other people I know, so these emotions can get out of control if they are not dealt with properly.  Writing is an outlet with which they can be safely vented. (I will be posting some prose and poetry here on the blog soon.)

I think all people should venture into expressing themselves in some kind of art.  My wonderful children all are gifted in some form of art: my son, Chase is a writer, my daughter Calle is a painter, and my youngest, Kelsey is a photographer.  I have seen their heart and soul poured out in their words and pictures.  And my boyfriend is also an artist, although he would like people to believe that he is more like a Nascar driver, but he does write me pretty poetry, and he is fascinated by the sunset and his pictures are breathtaking.

Everyone is this world should be a part of art.  It is a way to express the inner workings of who you are.  I urge you to try it, whether it’s writing, painting, drawing, photography, etc.  Put some of your heart and soul into it.  See what happens.  The beauty of your creation will be awesome.

Is writing good for your soul?

If I could, I would write everyday. It is unfortunate that life does not want to allow me that gift. If I could, I would squeeze a couple of more hours into the day just to quiet the desire of my soul, but with school, full time job, three grown kids, a boyfriend, four dogs and (I’ve lost count) cats, I am not able to pinpoint when those hours will be available. Writing is my art. I find I write best when I have been upset, or if my heart is sad. The emotion swirling like a tornado up from the essence of my being, the impressions of the discord inking the paper with feeling. Writing is an outlet, my words parallelling the disjointed life which I live. It is good for my soul. As a form of expression, it is an outlet for the damage from which my soul has traveled through, bringing forth healing.

I once had a fellow writer tell me that he admired my stories.  He commented that I wrote with heart, and that was very rare to find.  I’ve kept those words tucked away.  If I feel that I am writing to just to please the audience, I take them out and review them again, reminding myself to find the words of my heart – and my soul.  I try to encouage my children to be the same way about their art.  All art is good for the soul.  I believe our children have strayed from creativity because of so much stimuli with TV, video games, computers, etc.  Our technological world is making our next generations distant from art.  Without art, we have no beauty, no solace, no repair of injury to our souls, no magic of imagination.

Technology can make us machines, without feelings, without creative awareness, if we do not connect to our souls and feed our essence by our art.  Tolkien wrote his famous books because he felt the same way after WWI.  He saw the new weaponry, new machines used by humans against humans, saw the evil it brought.  Writing my series “Legends of Green Isle” I use the metaphor of technology replacing the soul, thereby destorying art.  Uthal, the Black Warlock is the machine, advancing on human kind, seeking to elimate all magic and magic creatures.  His spell is all powerful because it steals the life force of all, magic creatures as well as humans.  While writing my books, I wonder if that is our destiny?  Will we allow technology to consume our world, feeding off our souls, and procuring us to become slowly inhuman? Or will we stand to write, paint, sculpt, play our instruments, create for the benefit of our souls and the healing of the people of this planet?  I chose to do the last.