Thursday, March 9, 2017

Touch Your Soul

Sitting alone in a group of women, I scanned the room, observing all of them in deep conversations with each other and here I sat, with two empty chairs between me and the next woman.
  The leader of the group gave us the assignment, to write a mission statement for our life. She called it our vision statement – why we are living. What makes our life worthwhile to still be active and doing what we are doing for a living.
I scanned the crowd. Noticing that the woman closest to me glanced my direction, sneering. I wondered why she looked at me like that. What made her so special that she felt she was better than me.
 I noticed the women across the room would glance at me; they also dismissed me. I had to ask myself why I even came to this group. It was supposed to be a group to empower each one of us to touch our strength and build our inner selves up so we felt stronger the. But I felt so alone. So isolated.
 I started to write my mission statement about inspiring others—inspiring those who read my books or even those who could approach me without fear. But maybe I am the one who is living in fear.
 My comfort zone is being reserved, quiet, listening and observing others.
 I watched as the leader went around to each woman present, ignoring me. I was in the seat closest to her, but she started with the second person to my right. I wanted to cry. Instead, I continued to ask myself, “Why are you here? These women don’t like you and look down on you. What I am coming here?”
 I realized I come for myself. I come to build myself and to hell with them.
 I scribbled out what I started to write.
 “Please, Soul, come into my life. Come into this moment. Assist me with this task.”
 As soon as I uttered that silent request, my sadness went away. My aloneness went away. I wrote, “I live my life according to my inner voice and it’s guidance.”
  When the leader finally came to me, I read it to her, expecting her to dismiss it. Instead, she wanted me to read it to the group. Others put their family and friends a head of them. The lesson she wanted us to take away was putting ourselves first. The leader high fived me. As usual, I hit her left high hand with my right hand, instead of matching thumbs.  Yes, I am totally awkward.
  I am me. I am who I am.
 I touch my soul. This is what I want others to learn. How to take their power by touching the part of them that knows more about themselves.

  Invite that seldom seen but always felt part of you daily. Feel better, stronger and know more about your own direction in life.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What is Your Legacy?

           I was given a copy of The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe ( last summer. I hadn’t heard of Mr. Schwalbe or his mother and wasn’t sure about reading about death. But I was out of interesting books to read when I ran across it in a pile, so I started reading it.
 As I read it, I fell in love with how Mary Ann Schwalbe raised her three children and work successfully in many different high profile roles. She the kind of life I would love to be and gave back to society and across the world. One of her pet projects was seeing a library was built in Afghanistan. She was diagnosed with panarctic cancer in 2007, I think it was, so her middle son, Will, and she decided to share what she taught him most: share their love of reading.
  In the two or three years she had left, they chose books to read together and they discussed them during her chemo treatments. Many of the books they discussed, I had not heard of, but am interested in finding so I can read them, too. A few of them, I had read, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It interesting to read they enjoyed that book, whereas I was less taken with it.
  All through The End of Your Life Book Club, I found myself reflecting on my own life, and how it would be so different if I had believed in myself more and not allowed others who discouraged me. If I had not listened to my mom who said others knew more than me.
  One of my goals in my youth was to be able to give back to others. To set up funds for groups to aid in organizations, like helping with literacy, and creative endeavors.   Mary Ann Schwalbe could help with many originations. She left a legacy behind and many people benefited from her social fundraising and love of seeing others benefit from books and libraries. Of course, she had the financial ability as well as the social connections to assist with her raising the money.
  Mrs. Schwalbe did not look back with regret. Nor did she allow the times she was raised in prevent her from living life to the fullest. The more you give to others, the more others will give back to you.
 As I read this book, I thought back to the deaths of my own parents, wishing I could have been there and be able to forgive as well as have those last few years or days with them, with a clear understanding of what they had given me and what the really wanted me to learn. So much time I lived in anger and resentment that they did not allow me to be the person I wanted to be. So often, I felt judged, strangled and like I could not move. As I look back, perhaps I was also strangling myself by keeping my own anger and resentment in front of me, living the past instead of learning to let go, forgive and create a new life for me. I kept my mom’s fear as my own fear, instead of recognizing it was her fear and I did not have own it.
 It is true, not all of us are blessed with the ability to travel the world and help in refugee camps, like Mary Ann Schwalbe, but we can find local areas to volunteer at that can make a difference.

  Let go. Share your love of books with others. Share your life with your parents, if you still have them. Open your heart to your spouse and your children. Give your favorite books to your children and grandchildren. Encourage all to read and discuss them. Give back to others any way that you can.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What do Avoid and Why?

 What do you avoid and why do you avoid it? We all avoid something in our life either out of fear of what would happen if we did it or because we think we aren’t good enough to see it through.
 I avoid putting myself out there, telling my whole story out of fear of others ridiculing me, or saying my story isn’t worthy. I’m not good enough can’t be inspiring enough.
  I’m afraid of I’m not professional enough or can’t teach good enough to really help someone. Yet I want to teach. I want to be there for others. I want the love I feel to shine through what I say and feel. I want to inspire others to go beyond their own sense of worthiness.
 I’ve struggled all my life to be something I thought I was meant to be. Someone almost always says I fall short of my own goals, or that I should give up and try something else. If I could turn back the clock, I would not allow those nay-sayers to stop me. I would keep fighting for my goals.

I have always felt I battled an uphill climb to get to where I want to be.  Recently, I don’t have as many nay-sayers. Instead, I have more individuals cheering me on. Yet I still feel I am a long way from attaining my goal of being a successful writer who is noticed for what I am doing my best to say to people.
  The reward is being noticed by others and my blogs shared by numerous readers and noticed by people who have a larger following than I do.

What is your fear? What are you avoiding?  Maybe it is safe to come out after all. If you and I make a pack to keep each other accountable to face these fears together so we know we are not alone.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

We are the Stuff that Dreams Are Made of

What is your dream? How much time would you invest to make your dream come to pass?

My dream has always been to be a writer and attain a large following. At the age of 12/13, I thought it would be easy to write and attain a publisher. I did not realize how much work goes into it.
  My dream became a love-hate relationship because my mom didn't want me writing because of her own fears of hearing about famous writers who have lost their minds. Their imaginary worlds became too real to them. Or they allowed their battles of depression and desire to end their misery with a bottle of booze and  Colt 45.
  Those images haunted me. The last thing I wanted was to become crazy. If anyone called me that, I'd get upset or I quickly pulled my neck in and refused to show anyone what I was writing.

  Some thirty/forty years later, I have now self-published. I'm still struggling to find an audience and battling my fears of being so different than other writers. I write fantasy. More than fantasy, I aspire to make the reader see a different way to see their spiritual life. I hope I am challenging them to look deeper inside them. In order to be successful at this, I have to challenge myself to go beyond my own fears.
  My fears of being seen as crazy because I combine different folklore and spiritual myths as well as use a few psychological techniques (or perhaps I am creating my own methods based on things that made sense to me). My fears of being seen as so different because I write a type of genre that is not usually accepted by those who place literary writing above the genre of any kind of fantasy whatsoever.
  My fears that I will never have the kind of fanbase that will allow me to be seen worldwide.
  Technology is a baffle to me. So much of what I need to get my books seen is a far reach for me. I need to have a good healthy business account into to hire the best marketing team, the best editors, graphic artists and the best web designers. I need to understand how to write the advertising copy and create the ads for Facebook, Amazon and other places. Exactly how am I get that healthy account? No one has ever truly told me what I need to have so I can try it.
   What is your dream? What is holding you back?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Trees Are Calling Me

There's a line in Tuesday Afternoon by the Moody Blues that says, "The trees are calling to me. I have to find out why."
  I love that line because often I see a group of trees and feel I need to go toward them to see what secrets they hold.

  Trees are known to have the wisdom of thousand years or more. Banyans trees are said to be the tree that Buddha sat under that helped me to reach Nirvana. It is no wonder, when you put my love of daydreaming about trees, into my novels.

 About four or five years ago, I started the book that would become my fourth book in the Indigo Traveler Series, (tentatively titled Ian's Story), about a young teen who sees trees walking passed me, or running after his school bus to try to catch him. Banyan trees are known as the walking trees, so they are the species I began to foreshadow starting Ian's adventures with Sarah Johnson finding Raindom in the Shadowlands ( ).
  Raindom introduces Sarah to the concept of love, acceptance and assists her to see a way beyond her sad thoughts about how to tell Xander she might be adopted and her wondering why she was given up to begin with. Once she embraces Raindom, she is infused with love, forgiveness and realizes so much of what she experiences really is not what she thinks. She is able to see the Shadowlands for what it is and assist the others to do the same.

  In the third book in the Indigo Series, Many Paths to Follow (in beta reading right now), Milo Bickford is rescued by a Banyan tree named Windsly. Windsly teaches Milo how to meditate, and how to let go of his concerns. Milo begins to see a different view of his life without his biological parents, though, he knows he still needs that connection. Windsly stays with Milo, helping him find the peaceful Murdoc Village so the other two spiritual paths do not disturb him.

   I only began to write another draft of Ian Temple's story. I started many drafts over the last few years, but never finished them. This draft, though, will be finished. Ian's story will take him to a land that is similar to India. But first, he notices the many Banyan Trees that are following him, chasing his school bus and will even see the Crow Judge, Tanner, riding in one. So, Ian will have  his own personal Crow Judge to guide him, watch over him and help him to navigate what he really needs to see and learn.
  Share your experiences with trees. What is your favorite tree?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Joys of Being Young

 Growing up, my mom loved the fact I was small for my age and appeared younger than my years. She used to get me in for the lesser price. If not, I remember crouching down below the ticket booth so the ticket person couldn't see me and Mom would not have to pay for me. I don't remember how well that really worked, but she was happy. As I look back on it, it was dishonest and we likely could have afforded the cost of three girls and one adult. 
  As I grew up, no one questioned my age until I was much older and in college. Those who knew me knew I was near their age. Once I started looking for work, I was faced with the question of, "You aren't who you say are. How old are you, really?"
  Those around me treated me like I was kid pretending to be an adult. "Why don't you be happy with the age you are? You'll get old sooner enough and you will wish you were young again."
  Or, there was, "Isn't nice to look twenty years younger than you are?"
  No, I don't think so.
 My teenage son and I attend the movies together on the weekends. I noticed over the last year or so, some of the cashiers behind the concession stand offer us one large drink and two straws. One young man even winked at me while he smiled slyly at me. I gave him a strange look, wanting to say, "You know, I'm old enough to be your mother. Would you smile and wink at you mother like that?"
  I refused the one large drink, saying, "Two drinks." They were rather confused untilI started carrying my Aarp card a few months ago. Once I even said, "I need to ask my son what he wants" and the cashier said, "Your son?" I affirmed that.
  This past weekend my son and I were at a local craft fair selling my books and some other items we put together. Towards the end of the day, two different women came up within ten minutes of each other. The first gave me a condescending smile wanted to know how long I've been writing and I told her. She chose her words carefully and asked about my education. I went into more detail than I normally would. She smiled dismissively and then said, "You know, there's nothing wrong with going back to college as an adult learner." And she left.
  The second lady wanted to know about my last name. I told her it was Dutch. She then remarked, "You're awfully short for being Dutch. Most of the Dutch people I know are real tall."  I said my husband was Dutch and he is tall. My son came into the room. Her eyes twinkled as she watched him walk up to the table, "Is that your husband?"
  I smiled, "That is my son. He's only 18." I looked her in the eyes, head cocked to make a point, "I'm a lot older than he is." She face fell and she left with no more words.
  So many individuals are want to look young. Forever young, the song says. Why can't we aspire to look our ages? And why do we feel that one's young appearance is equal to not being knowledgeable?
 I tend to get defensive when others write me off as too young to know what I'm talking about or being experienced in a certain field. I am what I am and I do believe I am good at it. Look beyond one's appearance and judge others on their level of work.  Or learn to accept someone without labels. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Insecurity Creates Writer's Blocks Part 1

I attended my normal write-in that my writing coach holds on a weekly basis. A new writer attended. I was glad to see her since I have met her before in other writer's groups. She mentioned a group online called the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This perked up my ears. Soon others were sharing their experiences with how their urge to write fantasy was dismissed by the universities and how their writing in general, was belittled and they were urged to pursue other careers. I wanted to share my experiences but realized if I did, I would be one-upping since my experiences were more profound (in my eyes and deep feelings). I decided to wait.
  I checked out the Insecure Writer's Support Group and noticed they had a blog tour, but I hesitated to sign up for  it because I still feel deeply I am not good enough.
  This morning, the seeds of this article began to take place so here I am writing it to bring to the forefront my deep struggles with being consistent with my writing.
 From an early age, I wanted to be a writer. My mom and dad admitted I had talent, but urged me not to make it my career goal since it didn't make a lot of money. My Mom's number one issue was it would cause me to go crazy because of most great authors become crazy or end up taking their lives. At age 13, this caused me to become fearful of pursuing the one passion I had and the inner drive I felt. I wanted to speak out and but was terrified of standing up and did not have anyone to talk to regarding the battle deep within myself. My high school guidance counselors encouraged me to pursue easy courses and steered me away from anything that would require effort. I allowed this, but the battle deep within remained. Indecision followed me even though I knew I needed to write. It was like someone refusing oxygen who has been told the oxygen they need to live could poison them (which could be lying) because the other person is afraid of them dying, yet by cutting off their oxygen, they will surely die.
 In 1990, after receiving a both a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Science in social services and working in with the Department of Children and Families services, (1985- 1990) I went back to college at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. I choose, at my dad's urging, to study accounting and business, but my brain couldn't grasp the fundamentals of accounting principles. After meeting a graduate student in the Masters of Fine Arts with an emphasis in poetry I realized my true love really was creative writing. I started taking graduate and undergraduate writing workshop classes. My love of fantasy was born. I wrote one story based on a dream that had a friendly dragon in it that was misunderstood and the villagers wanted to capture it. The dragon lived in a castle with his family and befriended a boy who was also misunderstood. The town was called Rumination and involved indecision and longing to decide what is most important in choosing a direction in life. I turned it in. On the day my story was to be workshopped, the adjunct professor announced we wouldn't workshop because dragons were not real and the story itself was fantasy. It had no redeeming elements of literary work within it. The students in class sighed with disappointment. As they passed their copies to me, I heard it was excellent and they were looking forward to discussing it. I was crushed because I wanted to hear what they had to say. I knew I had to become a writer but was not sure how to pursue it. When I  would confront my professor at it, she got this painful look on her face as if she was afraid of telling me the truth. Instead, she said, "Everyone has potential." This delighted me, but underneath, what there was the lingering, "Except you."
  Fantasy is considered a genre form written for the general public while literary fiction is written for intellectuals as they study one important emotion or theme. Sometimes it is to understand how divorce after a child dies effects a couple and those around them or to understand what is going through the mind of someone who isolates herself. Though, often the deeper issues, such as rape and intense hatred toward men who only want a woman for her body, but not a  solid relationship with her are not welcomed. I know this because I also wrote a story like that for this same professor, and again, would not workshop it because the anger and abuse of the men in the story was too intense. It made her uncomfortable. She wanted balance or something like that. Again, some of the students gave me favorable comments and suggestions for improvements. One, in particular, loved one of the redeeming characters in that story and asked if she could use him. I let her, but inside, I felt crushed. I felt helpless and wondered if I could ever make my dream come true of being a published writer.