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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Your dream is going to change lives

Leo Tolstoy once said, "The most powerful warriors are patience and time." When I read that quote a part of me wondered, what does that have to do with anything? And then I realized- you and I are chasing our dream. The only tools that are going to allow us to get better at our passion is patience and time.

The task of learning patience allows you to dig deep. You have to figure out how to press on when most people would have given up by now. Patience allows you to have a calm head when pursuing your dream. You are able to find what you need to improve your skill level.

Time is something that must be treasured when chasing your dream. The gift of time allows your budding talent room to grow.

You have a skill that is unlike any other person on this globe. Your dream is going to change lives and all you need is patience and time.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend on Mars

Okay, not really. But it's easy to feel like you're on another planet in a place like this. Just off to the left of the pic below, you'll find -


- Delicate Arch, the "unofficial symbol of Utah." I was there on the day of the solar eclipse, so you can imagine we had the best seat in the house.



It's hard to describe the sense of ancient-ness you get at Arches National Park. These formations were here loooong before I was, and they'll be here long after I'm gone. It really drives home how (literally) small we are, just a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of Time. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.





You have to drive past these ladies on your way into the park. They call them the Three Gossips. You guys, I swear they're talking about me . . .



Well he-llo there, Captain Carter!


Actually, these were the only John Carters I found on my trip, in a little book store in Moab - which is almost as good as the real thing, I guess, bibliophile that I am. But still, a girl can dream, right?



We scrambled through some narrow places in Little Wild Horse Canyon. That's my aunt Holly up ahead, making her blog debut. If we had John Carter's powers, we could just jump out. But that wouldn't have been as much fun.






I like to call this the Multiple Personality Rock. From here, it's Iron Man.



But from the other side, it's a Stormtrooper. Or maybe He Who Must Not Be Named. (I'm open to suggestions.)



Doesn't this look like a spaceship landing platform?



There's something eerie about the hoodoo formations in Goblin Valley, almost like they're watching you. I think these guys were talking about me too.


Even so, this trip was just what I needed. I think I'll have to go back every year.



Happy Memorial Day, everybody! You've seen some of my summer fun, now I want to hear about yours. What are your plans for summer? Travel? Writing? Discuss.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Why Do You Write?

The last few years in my (writing) life have been a roller-coaster. I state that parenthetically because it seems that what I am learning as a writer is being wildly influenced by what I am learning in my life. And vice versa. 

I don't know why at forty-blah-blah years old I am finally learning stuff I really should have learned in my thirties (and preferably in my twenties; I mean it would have been nice to get it over with way back then), but here I am. All fresh and nearly fifty and finally figuring out that, Baby, your self-esteem had better be coming from the right place, or your writing life is going to be death on melba toast. And so will a lot of the rest of your life too.

Here's the thing: Like most people, I've survived some crazy stuff in life. I'm proud of it (not as proud as surviving a bird-beak to my back, or a weekend in Barsoom, but still. Proud.) I could be a whackadoo who spends her life wearing a tea-cozy on her head and banging on an old ceiling fan with a Harry Potter wand-replica whilst singing "I'm A Yankee Doodle Dandy" in Sanskrit. (Which would be a trick.) But I'm not. Mostly. And that's a good thing.

Yet somehow, I have reached a certain age--which, according to everything I read should render me altogether wise, mysterious, and alluring--and still find myself struggling with the ole self-image.

And that, as a writer, is disastrous.

Writing is solitary. Meaning, you don't do it in front of a crowd and you don't get a lot of instant feedback.   If you're a member of a writer's group, you might get some feedback once or twice a month. But not every day. And if your group is full of your besties, then the feedback you are getting may not be entirely, shall we say, objective. Or even truthful. Nope. Most of the time as a writer you sit in front of your computer churning out words that people may or may not care about, and it is very possible that you will never know. An agent may never pick you up. Your blog may never gather a crowd. And if you do gather a crowd, they may be the shy quiet types who don't comment. 

If your self-esteem is tied up in all of this--if at the end of the day you are writing (or doing anything, really) in order to fill yourself up with worth, it's gonna be a tough ride. I know. I tried it.

What happens is this: "OMIGOSH! I have followers! Wooot! People like me! I might succeed! Yay! Wait! I lost a follower! AAAUUUGH! Why? Why did they leave me? Was it something I said? Ooh, I got a compliment! WOW! I might be really cool and a great writer and probably I have awesome hair! How come no one commented on THAT post? Maybe it was badly written. Maybe it wasn't edgy enough. Maybe I'm out of touch. MAYBE I CAN'T WRITE. What? You liked my post? You, dear agent, would represent me because you like my style except the market is glutted with sparkly paranormals right now? YAY! I CAN WRITE! I'M THE NEXT JK ROWLING! I JUST NEED A NEW PLOT IDEA! GASP! I lost two Twitter followers! Maybe I offended them! I'M NOT THE PIONEER WOMAN! I can't write! ACK! I should quit! And my haircut is probably bad!

Yeah. That is exhausting. And not particularly productive. Instead, why not write, create, build, make, paint, choreograph, account, invent, act, sing, dance, engineer, medicate, bake, or whatever it is that you want to do--for the pure joy of doing it? Let the ends of your creating be the creating itself. Not you yourself. That way whatever you do will live longer. And so will you.

Here's what I think we should do instead: Go out there and love. Ourselves and others. Then once we're all full of esteem--because that's what love freely given does-- we go knock the socks off of a plot. That's what I'm working on. And I'm starting all over with a blank page creating the world of my book. Without my security attached. We'll see how it's different this time.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A bird flew into my back

Today I was going to write a motivational post on obstacles. Oh, I had this baby all planned out in my head and then I got into a head on collision with a bird.

No joke, a bird swooped off my balcony as I was getting out of my car. I didn't see the bird and the bird didn't see me. He flew low and then smashed beak first into my back.

The bird recovered and flew off into the sunrise as if nothing happened. Five minutes later, I am sitting here in my condo absolutely baffled. I don't know if this bird was stoned or what? He must've had quite a shock barreling into my back. And then it dawned on me, obstacles happen no matter what species you are and the only way to get through them is too do what that lil bird did- he flew again, no matter what.

No obstacle stood in his way-I vote we learn from that dear bird.

PS- I felt so horrible for the lil bird I went out and bought a huge bag of bird seed. The birds are eating good tonight!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Maegan is on Barsoom!

Hi all! So, I don't know if you've noticed, but Maegan has a slight crush on Barsoom and all things John Carter. Well, it so happens that she is on Barsoom right now! Or at least Disney's stand-in for it: Goblin Valley in Southern Utah. Where I've seen from her Facebook page that she also took in yesterday's solar eclipse. Cool, yeah?

 I don't know if our dear Maeg is back yet, but judging by the echo-y-ness of her spot on our blog today, I'd say she's not. So I thought I'd pop in and let y'all know whattup. I think we will require her to report and share pictures when she gets back. You with me on that?

In the meantime, thank you so much for reading and supporting our non-linear minds. You make our days brighter. I hope we can return the favor! Cheers!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I fell into a lake while on a date

It's a proven fact nature and I just don't mix. Squirrels attack me, birds poop on me and I always seem to fall into something. This weekend I went golfing and made an absolute fool of myself on a date. Sure, I wore my cute lil black skirt with an argyle hoodie but I also slipped on a rock and fell into a large pool of water.

Okay, here's the details, friends. My date was trying to go for a birdie (whatever that means) while I was running away from an ornery goose. I swear this goose had it in for me. He was hissing and arching his head back while I ran over the tiny hill for safety. And that's when I slipped on a rock and careened into the water.

It was bad enough that I had a gash on my arm but then I had to emerge from the water covered in mud and soaked like no other.

My date didn't finish his work on hole nine. No, he came looking for me-the swamp monster herself. The instant he laid his eyes on me, I knew we were in for a defining moment. The hott date with hair longer than mine could've easily made me feel embarrassed or said a wise crack to tear me down but he didn't. No, he simply smiled. His dimples were divine as he laughed hard, so hard that tears were rolling down his cheeks.

He took off his shoes and waded his feet. He then scooped up a heap of mud and coated his arms with the mud. All the while, he smiled down at me and said, "Guess we're in this adventure together."

He took my hand, helped me out of the water and we drove in our cart to the clubhouse to clean off. The air whipped around my face as I realized my date coated his skin in mud so I wouldn't feel like an idiot when I walked into the clubhouse looking horrid.

Sometimes, life is going to give you an embarrassing moment and other times, people are going to surprise you and do something kind. And if you're lucky, you'll get both wrapped up into one delish moment.

PS- Check out the view we had on one of our last holes while golfing. Stunning, huh?



Monday, May 14, 2012

Sheldon and Me

I've recently discovered The Big Bang Theory. In the few monthssince it's been on my radar, it's become my new favorite thing, ever. For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, it's about four socially inept scientists who form a friendship with a cute waitress/struggling actress. One of the scientists is a neurotic, self-absorbed, too-smart-for-his-own-good physicist named Sheldon.

Sheldon is my favorite character.

He says the things we'd all like to say but never do because our social sensibilities tell us not to. Despite his many issues (or maybe because of them), there's something childlike and oddly endearing about him. More than that, I think I like Sheldon because I identify with him a little.

Now I'm no physicist, and I sure hope I don't come off as a high maintenance know-it-all (I'll take the oddly endearing, though). You see, Sheldon can be a bit obsessive. He tends to fixate on certain things. Like when he gets stuck on a scientific problem. Or how he can't stand it when someone doesn't answer their phone. Or the time he thought his neighbor's recycled chair was infested with bugs.

See what I mean? He just can't let stuff go.

Writing is a lot like this for me. I get to a certain point and then I can't go any farther because I get hung up on something stupid like, "This sentence bugs me. Why can't I find the right adverb to describe exactly how he picks up that pencil?" or "Gah! This scene isn't turning out at all like that perfect vision in my head," or "But I don't know all the details of this character's back story! How can I know what she'll do in this situation until I figure out whether she liked to eat Froot Loops or Cocoa Puffs for breakfast when she was ten? Oh mighty Muse, WHAT DO I DO?! WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!?"

Little stuff like that. I know it's crazy. I know first drafts are supposed to be full of mistakes and I can always go back and fix everything later. But like poor Sheldon, I have a hard time letting stuff go.

I think a little bit of obsessiveness is good for a writer. How else do you get the gumption to slog from that first spark of an idea all the way through the Miserable Middles to the bitter happy end? The trick is to find a healthy balance. I just hope I figure out how to do that before I end up like THIS. Janiel and Russo have my back, but it'd still be way embarrassing if they had to come fish me out of a ball pit in the middle of the night.

What about you? Are there any fictional characters who remind you of yourself in one way or another?

Originally posted January 9, 2012.

Friday, May 11, 2012

How to Cop a Positude

When my middle kid was much shorter than she is now (and younger than she is now), there was a week where she was home from school with a pretty miserable flu. Most of us had had it, and had spent our week laid out and moaning. 


In the middle of her little bout, I went to check on her and found her like this:
What you can't see in this pic is the vomit-bowl sitting on the bed next to her just in case, the plate of barely nibbled saltine crackers, the book she was trying to read, and her stuffed horse, Clippity, who stayed next to her the whole time for comfort. 

So I asked how she felt, and this was her response:
Yep. That bottom picture is EXACTLY how she felt. But check out her cherubic little face in the top picture. That's the face she showed to all of us. The. Whole. Week. 

She was six years old.

This child is simply like that. She doesn't do unhappy. She doesn't like to make other people unhappy. So she tries very hard to stay positive. With the result that everyone around her loves being, you know, around her. And when she's feeling like garbage, that's how she cheers herself up. By finding, being, or doing something positive. And helping someone else feel, be, and do the same thing.

That is a 'tude I like. It's one I should cop. Girl's got Positude. And no matter what you're doing, it's going to be easier and smoother with some of that top picture tucked in along side it. I think it's pretty simple: it's all about finding the good stuff, and then focusing on it, so it becomes where you live. Then, like my kidlet up there, you just spread it around. 

And by the way, she didn't learn it from me. I'm trying to learn it from her.

And a little child shall lead them, right?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Train like an athlete for your dream

I love this time of year because it's sports all the way. First there's my beloved Wimbledon and the Tour de France, not to mention the Olympics. Athletes endure hours of training a day. You are no different than an athlete because you train.

According to Dominique Moceanu (Olympic gymnast), training is all about trying something new. She said it best in her book, "It's why you go to the gym . . . to explore possibilities." Granted your dream might not require a gym (in my case, that's a blessing-can you imagine me on a balance beam?) but you get the point.

Whether you’re a writer, painter, dancer or whatever, your dream requires you to train. Take chances, explore new worlds and have courage. You are on the road to your dream. It’s a bumpy and thrilling ride. One minute you can be frustrated as all get up and the next you can flying high over a new achievement.

Train like no other and know this, my friend, your dream is gonna change lives.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Martian Link-Fest!


The ladies of Challenging the Gnome have a bit of a crush on John Carter - both the movie and the man (although we often refer to the movie as John Carter of Mars, because John Carter by itself as a title is just stupid). If you'd like to know how much we love this transplanted Earth-man turned savior of Mars, you can read my thoughts here, Janiel's review on her blog here, and don't forget to check out  Caytelynne's PruView here.

Well, it turns out we're not alone. There are loads of other John Carter fans out there. There's even a whole online movement gunning for sequels on Facebook, fansites, and forums. I know we're all being bombarded with Avengers-this and Avengers-that right now. And yeah, Iron Man's sarcastic little quips are funny and Hawkeye sure can wield that bow like nobody's business and the Hulk gets to smash stuff and Loki's got those big, blue eyes that you can't help but feel a little sorry for and Thor is there in all his tall, blonde, Norse god-ness . . . Okay, maybe I have a crush on Thor too.

My point is, John Carter (of Mars) is a great film. Go see it. Trust me on this. Would I lead you astray? Pay no attention to the negative critics who have a tiny little box of sawdust where their imagination should be. See it in the theatre before it's too late, because everyone needs to experience Barsoom* on the big screen at least once.

*The Martian word for Mars, according to Edgar Rice Burroughs

Friday, May 4, 2012

John Carter of Mars - PruView by Caytelynne!!

Hello all! Caytelynne here. Back by Maegan's popular demand to PruView John Carter of Mars. A movie I haven't seen yet. But you should todally go because of Taylor Kitchner's chest acting. 
Anyway, without furthera dew, here's the pruView. Yes. That rimed. I'm todally into peotry and think I'll publish a book at some point. After I'm done being famous for PruViews.


Yeah. I todally just found out that John Carter's name is Taylor Kitch, not Kitchner. And it's also not Kitchener. Or Kitchykoo. Sheesh. Someone should tell me these things before I make a movie PruView. It could be so embarrassing! Sorry peeps!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Embrace the Pressure

According to Tennis magazine if you're going to be the best at your chosen field you are going to have to embrace the pressure. The article also states that pressure is just another word for responsibility.
Let's face it, athletes battle each and every day with the pressure to achieve their dream. A few years ago, an American athlete named John Isner played an 11 hour match against a French player named Nicolas Mahut. Would you battle 11 hours for your dream?

We have to embrace the pressure and carry on. For example, I'm a hood girl, I come from nothing. My pressure is the fact that I know my family needs me to continue striving for this dream. I have to accept that pressure or let them down. What is your pressure? The responsibility on your shoulders that just won't let you quit.

Tennis magazine said it best, "Look in the mirror and say, I ...am...better...than...this... and actually do something about it."