You Tube Tuesday: Glacier National Park

 

(*YouTube Tuesday idea originally came from the Martians Attack blog)

 

Last week, our family went on an adventurous vacation.  When I say “adventurous” I meant that practically everything was done on the fly.   Such is our life with my former-Navy-officer hubby 🙂

Originally we were going to spend the entire time down in the Black Hills region (South Dakota); however, the place was too mad with tourists.  We stopped very briefly at Mt. Rushmore, and then left.  We drove most of the night through the remaining sixty-plus miles of South Dakota, and most of the width of Wyoming, arriving at a truck stop just south of Billings (Montana) around 3:45am.  There, we slept for a few hours in the vehicle.

After a quick breakfast, we were back on the road heading north for Helena.  We ended up settling in at a KOA twenty miles south of the city in a nice cabin nestled close to Canyon Lake.  There we stayed  for three days before heading out for Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park is so huge, and incredibly beautiful!  You could easily spend three or four days exploring and still not see everything.  We were only there for a few hours; long enough to drive up a very scenic highway to Logan Pass which was where I took this amateurish video clip (using my Trio tablet).

I added music to it before uploading to YouTube.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, post something from YouTube that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it.  Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out.  Also, if you’re on Twitter, tweet about it using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.

 

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The Magic of Christmas

magical-cmas

 

On many level, Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year.

  1. It’s magical.   The Christmas holiday always has that “magical” feel to it whether you’re a kid waiting to see what Santa will bring; or an adult who enjoys watching kids open their presents on Christmas morning.
  2. It’s inspirational.  Creativity seems to soar around this time of the year; and of course, I’m usually too busy to do anything about them right away so it’s nice to keep a notebook handy to jot ideas down.
  3. It’s a time for remembering.  The holidays, especially this year, have special connotations for me as they remind me of my Daddy.  I have so many memories of him around Christmas.  You never could tell who was the biggest kid: him, or me and my siblings.  🙂  He’s been gone for over two years now, and it still hurts to not have him here to spend it with us.

What about you?  What makes this time of the year special for you?

Fighting the Darkness

bare land

 

For a long time, I viewed my disabilities as weaknesses; and considered myself to be inferior to other able-bodied individuals.  I felt that by “accepting” my disabilities meant I was giving in to them.

So, anger settled in.

Instead of feeling propelled to do great things, I opted to feel sorry for myself and gave up on my dreams.

Years passed.  Regrets mounted.  Misery and loneliness hung on me like thick furs on a hot, muggy summer day.

Suffocating me ever so slowly.

Anxiety and depression visited intermittently until they decided to move in on a more permanent basis.  It got so bad I couldn’t step outside of my own home without having an episode.

I realized that I couldn’t go on living like this.

Something had to change.

It wasn’t too long after we moved to North Dakota when I learned there was a School for the Blind in Grand Forks (a short 45-minute drive from home); and that they offered Adult Weeks just about every quarter.  Pam, my Vision Services Specialist, encouraged me to come in March.  I had every intention of attending, but “chickened” out at the last moment.   She then encouraged me to attend one during the first week of June.

I actually went.

Finally.

 

*Will talk about my week at the School for the Blind in my next post.

 

 

Nature Intervention

Ever gone through times when you think you were starting to get ahead financially and then…ka-blamo!  Nature intervenes.

Life (and goals) interrupted.

This past Friday started out normally.  I got up at 5am to help hubby get around for work, and sent him on his way.  Work for him was nearly 1 1/2 hours commute time, one way.  My son’s on his summer break so I let him “sleep” in ’till 7am.  We’d spent the past few days cleaning the house since my Mom and young nephew were flying in later that morning to spend a week with us.  The house was the cleanest it’s been since we moved in a year earlier (pretty sad, huh?) I was in the process of fixing breakfast for us when hubby called.

“Better get to the basement.” He said.  “A bad storm’s headed your way.”

I glanced out of the window.  Dark clouds were billowing in.

“Okay.” And I hung up.

I sent my son, Karl, down the basement with one of our cats.  I finished fixing a mug of coffee and proceeded to step down in to the stairway when out of nowhere these horrific winds (macrobursts they’re called) slammed into the house.

Whooshing sounds rattled all around us.  Before I closed the door, I glanced back at one of the kitchen windows and saw nothing but a sheet of whiteness.

We sat on the sectional couch in the basement, listening to the roaring outside.  It wasn’t 10 minutes before the power went out.

Oh, great.  (Not really especially if you have a sump pump in the basement with no back up power supply)

The storm was over 10 minutes later.

Karl led me, fumbling and all, to the other side of the basement where the sump pump was, and we checked the “well” in the floor.  The water was rising rapidly.

The next twelve hours were a bit of a blur.   First part of it was spent in the pitch blackness of the basement as I frantically filled the only two buckets we could find with icy water while Karl ran them up the stairs and out the sunroom’s door and dumped their content outside.   This cycle went on for at least five hours.  By this time, hubby had returned home (worried since he hadn’t heard from us).   Karl, exhausted from all the running; and me, in shorts and sandals, up to nearly my knees in cold water, shivering.   The entire finished basement floor now under water.

Hubby declared it “lost.”  We shifted gears and began pulling everything that could be saved out of the basement, and filled the sunroom.

Then my Mom and nephew arrived.

The cavalry.

A few moments later, the power came back on which brought on another set of problems for us.

With the sump pump now running overtime pumping water out of the flooded basement, the piping system became overwhelmed and there were leaks springing in several places.  The largest of them was in the laundry room up on the main floor.  Mom, hubby, Karl and myself worked in shifts baling water until the sump pump “caught up.”  Then the leaks ebbed until they completely stopped.

The ordeal began a little before 8am and finally subsided around 8:30pm.

Then, I went outside and oh…my…gosh…

Tree carnage everywhere I looked.

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I was in disbelief (still am).  I later learned that many farmers around us have sustained similar damages and worse.  Dozens and dozens of crop fields are under water.

Lost or at best, severely damaged.

I wanted to cry; but as I looked around and saw my family…

Safe.  Unharmed.

And I felt so grateful. In spite of the damages our farmstead had sustained, we were together.

And that’s all that mattered to me.

So, now the cleanup process has begun; and even with insurance, I can’t get over how expensive everything’s going to be.  It will wipe out our savings, and max the credit cards.  Hubby had promised to take Karl on a trip to see his cousins out in western New York but it’s looking like we’ll have to cancel that because everything’s being devoted to fixing the damages around the house and farmstead.  As a last ditch effort, hubby has set up a GoFundMe account to see if he could raise money to send Karl on his trip east.  We’ll see how that one works.

In the meantime, God Bless you all and have a restful and safe evening.

 

 

 

Reality Versus Writing

Ever had a time during your life when writing (or whatever your artistic passion is) has become incompatible with reality?

It sucked, didn’t it?

I hope that like anything else, this only lasted for a season and that you were able to go back to it.

I went through my “incompatible” period not too long ago.

Two years ago actually.

Hubby was unemployed but in college working towards a formal science degree.  I was the only one working full-time (in the banking industry).  My vision was deteriorating, but I somehow managed to put in over 40 hours each week while suffering from terrible eye strains and painful migraines.  I had a young son, and a house to also take care of.  Whenever I tried to sit down to write, hubby or son always needed me for something.  Or, if I spent “too much time” writing, hubby would complain that my priorities were to my family and job since I wasn’t making any money with writing.

Then, my father became ill with an aggressive lung disease.  I would allot whatever free time I had to spend time with him.

It was during this period of my life when I had to choose between “reality” and writing.

Writing had to be put away.  I felt like I’d lost a piece of myself for doing so; but, still the choice had to be made.

My Dad passed away a short time afterwards.  Hubby graduated from college with honors, and is now working full-time as a federal employee.  And I’m “retired” from the workforce, and am home full-time.

With these now behind me, I have ample time to write again.

 

tough times never last

If you’re going through an “incompatible” period, just remember this quote…

 

 

 

A Writer’s Vulnerable Heart (Part Two)

It’s difficult to open your heart when its been broken time and time again.

The first time I remember having it broken was losing my best friend and cousin, Darren.  We were born one month apart.  Playmates at a young age; but things began to change when we were about six.  He kept falling down, and needed help getting up.  Next thing I knew he was in a wheel chair.  A few years later, bed-ridden with all manner of machines hooked into him to help his body keep functioning.   Then, he was gone.  Dead just shy of our fourteenth birthdays.

He had Duchene Muscular Dystrophy.

It was at a young age when I learned that we don’t live forever; that our bodies were fragile.  Mortal.  And that death was a very real thing.

Parents are supposed to be our protectors.  Not just for our physical safety, but of our emotional well-being.  But, even parents are humans…flawed…scarred…and their own hurtful pasts can sometime hurt the ones they loved the most.   As a child, it was hard to see this though; especially when one of them continuously tore you down with damaging words, that you’re not good enough, that you were at fault for their current troubles, and that you don’t deserve anything except pain and hell.  That same parent would continue to pound and belittle until they get the desired outcome…tears.

Hence, I learned to associate tears with being weak.

When I was seventeen, our family’s true matriarch, my surrogate mother and emotional rock as a child, my Grandmother, passed away of Emphysema.

Once in college, I turned my focus to hopes and dreams of a better, brighter future; however, at the age of twenty-one, I learned I was going blind.  As a result, I gave up on my dreams.

Two years later, I met and married Aaron.  I thought that perhaps my life will start to turn for the better; I was wrong.  Less than two years later, he died as a result of a car accident.

Twenty years ago today.  And I can still remember the events of that fateful day as if they just happened.  The heart never forgets no matter how hard you try to push it away.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last of my losses.

I remarried three years later.  He was my best friend from college who knew of my emotional scars, my hopes and dreams, my anger…everything.  Over four years into our marriage, I was nearly eight months pregnant, he began to have growing issues with breathing.  He went to our family doctor who ran a series of tests on him.  Next thing we knew, he was being transported to the hospital.  His diagnosis: Pericarditis.    They admitted him, and immediately performed an emergency operation to drain the fluid that had its death grip around his heart.  But, that wasn’t the end of it.  Doctors were unsure if this was viral or bacterial.  Bacterial would require a heart transplant.  So, while they ran further tests, they pumped antibiotics into his body.  It would be days before we’d learned that it was viral, not bacterial.

Ever since this event, intimacy has been an issue with me.

Five years after our son was born, I became pregnant again; only to lose that baby.

My latest loss?  My Dad who passed away less than two years ago from an aggressive lung disease.  He was only sixty-seven.

Now, I realize that death is a normal part of living.  The same goes for pain.  But there comes a point though when one suffers so much of both that they shut down emotionally to try and protect what’s left of their heart and soul.   The problem is that I have placed such a tight lid on my emotions, I don’t know how to open it.

The real question though- Do I really want to open it?

 

 

 

 

Another Year’s Ending

What a year this has been for me and my family.  Packing and moving from NC all the way up to ND…talk about a culture (and weather!) shock.  Christmas was quiet for us as it was just us (all the family’s back east).  It felt strange.  Even my 12-year old son commented on how it really didn’t feel like Christmas this year even though there was nearly two-feet of snow on the ground.    We’re still settling in , and adjusting to our new life.  These things just don’t happen over night.

Need to keep reminding myself of that.

I’m not one for resolutions.  They never really worked for me.  My only goals for the coming new year are:

  1. Write often (daily if possible)
  2. Read as many books as I can
  3. Seek out and connect with other creatives

That’s it.  Simple is always better.  Anything else would be gravy.

What about you?  Have any specific (or general) goals for 2016?

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

*Here’s one of my favorite poems by Lord Alfred Tennyson called “The Death of the Old Year”:

 

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take ’em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I’ve half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o’er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he’ll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
‘Tis nearly twelve o’clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we’ll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.

 

 

New Road

IMG_20150728_145131

Journey

from the green mountains
to the golden, lush prairie
the road continues

(first posted on April 30th, 2015)

kr

kr

My previous life in North Carolina feels just like that-as something that happened in a previous life. Almost everything about North Dakota is a stark contrast to North Carolina. And that for me is a breath of fresh air. Here, I’m finally able to breathe while back in North Carolina I felt like I was suffocating.

North Carolina is a beautiful state. It has the best of both worlds: mountains and ocean. But, it also has way too many people. For us anyway. Both hubby and I grew up in small towns-he in rural Allegheny County of New York and me in a village nestled in the valley of the Adirondack Mountains.

So many people have asked me-why North Dakota?

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Back in February the answer would have been-it’s because my husband got a federal job there. Now, after spending over two months here, I have no single answer to the question.

The weather is beautiful here (even though I’ve yet to spend a winter here so check again with me sometime next year to see if I change my mind). The people are down-to-earth, hard-working, family oriented, with morals and values you would have found decades ago but now growing unfortunately rare. Kids can still run and play outside without parents having to worry about predators (if you know what I mean). My son can finally be a kid and have fun; something he rarely experienced back in North Carolina.

It is wide open here. And I’m loving it. But North Dakota is not entirely flat as people may believe. There are so many different types of terrains here, I am continuously amazed and filled with wonder by the beauty of them all. In time, I hope to share them with you so you may see as well.

Changes can be good. Going from a small house in a subdivision to a 14-acre farmstead way out in the country has been a big change for us; and so far, that’s been a very good thing. Here, I’m hoping to reclaim some of my dreams that I gave up years ago.

Here, on this road, is a new beginning. A brand new journey. I’m ready to start the trek and see where it leads me.

I hope you’ll travel along with me as well.

The Big Move

the big move

 

Only a few more days left before the Big Move!

By either Saturday or Sunday, we’ll be loaded up and riding out for our three-day journey across the states for North Dakota.  We’ll have two vehicles…one of them will be loaded with over a dozen of (indoor and outdoor) cats.  What can I say?  We have a cat farm.

I’ve been to every state along the eastern seaboard, but have never been further west than that.  Yeah, I’ve been deprived.

So, this should be an adventure for me.

From May 16th till sometime in July, I will be without internet access.  I will be back as soon as I can!

Until that time, have an enjoyable and productive summer!

 

Writing Through the Chaos

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” Deepak Chopra

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” Stephen Sandheim

storm prairie

In all the chaos of this world, is it really possible to find that “stillness” within you?   Could art (in my case, writing) be the key to bringing that “stillness” back into our lives?

Everything in my life is currently out of whack, and I’m having a very difficult time trying to find my rhythm as a writer again.  I’m still living out of bins and eating off paper plates, and cooking meals in the microwave all the while trying to keep my house immaculately (with seven cats and a young boy) clean and odor-free for potential buyers/realtors who can come at any given moment. Hubby has been out in North Dakota for almost a month now working in his new job.  He thinks he has found us a home there, but now we’re just waiting on someone to buy our house here.  Logistics can be a real pain.

Son is really missing his dad so I’m trying to stay positive and upbeat for him.  My mom comes over every other day to visit and help me when she can, but she’s still dealing with losing her life’s mate, and I’m trying to be there for her emotionally (as I have been a widow once).  But, I am really missing my daddy too.

*Sigh*

To top it all off, I’m juggling bills and various expenses with only one income; trying to make it all stretch  just long enough ’till my disability benefits come through. Oh, and trying to keep my anxiety level down because of the worrying of not hearing or seeing something when I should have in order to avoid any major disaster (wish my darn eyes and ears would work like everyone’s else).

All the stressing and worrying have me so distracted, I’m finding it nearly impossible to focus on writing; and this would then add on to my frustration since I really need this outlet to calm my nerves down, and free my mind of all the clutter that keeps piling up in this over-stimulated mind of mine.

*Sigh*

Something has to give.  So, here I go, sitting my butt down in the chair (one of the few furniture still left in the house), and I’m going to write.  It may not be eloquent or any good at all…but I know this action will miraculously (as only writing can do for me) still my racing thoughts and quiet my nerves.

Thank goodness.

prairie

 

No Writing=Insanity + Pain

Is it really almost March?

My goodness-where did the time go?

Have moved all the boxes and most of the furniture out to the Pack-Rat pod; now living out of bins and on paper plates and plastic wares.  Hubby has left us behind to go on to North Dakota to start his new job.  My son and I need to stay with the house ’till it sells.

I hope it sells soon.  It sucks having our family separated like this.

Now that things have “quieted” down some-I can focus a little on writing.

Not being able to write for long periods has been painful.  I feel so pent-up and frustrated.  I find myself daydreaming more and more as an outlet to the “real” world.

As a writer, I need my imaginary worlds!   Without them, I’d be in a nut-house!

Wait a minute…that’s right, I’m already nuts 🙂

 

Turning A New Chapter In Life

Boxes and boxes and yet more boxes!

My life took another detour and a new chapter has begun.

I’m forty something and am now officially “retired” for health reasons.

Plus hubby’s new job will soon move us from North Carolina to a land far, far north of here…

North Dakota.

packing

 

 

 

I’m excited.  I’m also very nervous!

As a writer, this new chapter in my life represents new experiences, new people; and of course, new adventures!

Stay tuned!

A Writer’s Rant For the Holidays

You’re a writer, right?

I have a question for you.

Do your family and friends know you’re a writer yet they still either have no idea what to get you for Christmas (or birthdays) or they give you only non-writing gifts?

How hard is it really to buy for writers?

Okay, I’m done.

 

Remembering and Missing Loved Ones

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Thinking of my dad and both granddads today.  They’re not here physically but I can still feel them in my heart.   I’m so grateful for what they’ve done!

Have a safe and quiet day.

 

Using Pain To Create More Realistic Characters

day eight

 

As writers, we tend to be more sensitive to various events in life whether in our own lives or in the lives of others; and because of this sensitivity, certain events- specifically those that involve losses- hit writers exceptionally hard.

Why is that so?

Speaking from personal experience, I consider myself an empath and tend to internalize emotions from others around me which at times would threaten to overwhelm me so what do I usually do?  I run from them.  I’ve done it so many times in the past (during the deaths of my maternal grandmother and first husband for examples).   Stifling my own emotions, not allowing them to surface, I believe affected me as a writer especially when it came to developing realistic characters. How can a character be “real” when she’s not allowed to feel?  After all, readers are drawn to these types of characters.  And why is that?

Because readers can relate to them.

So, many of my stories tend to fall short with characters coming across as “flat” or too one-dimensional.   The desire and passion to become the best writer that I can be keep growing within me to the point that it became louder than my own fears of emotions.

I forced myself to face them when my daddy died.  Internally I kept going back and forth with excuses as to why I couldn’t go to the hospital and be with my family on my dad’s final night.  I so wanted to run.  But, I didn’t. Not this time.  It was probably the most difficult thing I ever had to face, watching my daddy take those last agonizing breaths, listening to my mom and siblings weeping next to me.  I thought for sure it would overwhelm me, but it didn’t.  The emotions I felt was a deep sadness as well as gratitude.  I was so grateful that I was there for my daddy, and for my family. I thought for sure that their pain would force me to run; instead, I found myself hugging each one of them.  I even kissed my daddy’s forehead after he had passed as I said my final goodbye.

Now I can tell myself (and other writers) this:  it is okay to be afraid of your emotions, of your pain (or of others’), but don’t run from them.  They have a way of caching up to you.   It is easier to face them head-on, and acknowledge them for what they truly are.  By doing this, it would enable you to write a more fully developed characters that your readers can relate to.

 

 

“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain.  But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond the pain.”-Saint Bartholomew

 

 

 

Intentional Blogging Challenge

blogging

I’m intentionally setting myself up to have a busy fall.  For those who do not know, my daddy passed away on September 26th after an agonizing battle with lung disease.  He was only 67 years young.  This brought on the intense reality that life is indeed too short to waste; so, I have re-dedicated myself to my faith, my family, and my passion which is writing.

To start off, I will be participating in Jeff Goins’ 21-day Blogging Challenge which begins today.   His first challenge is for us to update and improve our “about” page.  He called this page the “most over-looked real estate” of one’s blog.

Do you agree/disagree with that?

Here’s my updated “about” page (or click on the about page above).

What about you?  Are willing to take up Jeff’s challenge for your blog?

NaNoWriMo-Decision Time

nanowrimo

I keep teetering back and forth on “yes! I will  do NaNo this year” and “eh, nah, not this year.”   So, I’ve decided to turn to listing the pros and cons of participating.

 

Cons

1. Time-consuming (when I have a family plus I’m the only one who’s currently working full-time, plus Thanksgiving is coming)

2. Energy-consuming (see above)

3. Would need to “write” while everyone’s sleeping (not sure if I can muster this with my eye-condition)

4. Not sure if I have enough motivation/determination to follow through with the commitment (I would cough this up to not having enough energy or eye-power for an entire month)

5. Lacking family support (namely my husband)

 

Pros

1. Have this strong desire to complete a draft of something

2. My son wants me to (this translates to that yes, I have a story in mind and that he wants to read it!)

3. I need to write!

4. To help me feel better as a writer (to end the year on a high note with having worked on a large project)

5. I would like to have a work-in-progress manuscript on hand when I apply for an opportunity at a writer’s residency (never been to one)

 

I’m looking over these items I’ve listed above and I still can’t decide.  Okay, I’m going to grab another cup of coffee and think some more.

 

 

To Nano Or Not (Poll)

The year started off awesome in regards to writing; but, it now have fizzled to barely a trickle of words on paper.  Frustration grows daily as this drought continues to drag on.  With November not too far away my thoughts have turned to “should I try NaNo this year?”  I haven’t done it since at least 2010 I believe.  I have vague ideas in mind but nothing really concrete yet.  Would my schedule (and family) allow me to even try this endeavor?  Again, doubts and frustration are all I’m greeted with.

The only thing I’m certain of is that if I don’t start writing again soon, I just may go off the deep end!

 

What about you?

 

P.S. There will be “five” weeks this year instead of the usual four.  Hmm…

 

 

Write For Them

If you’re a writer and you want to have an impact on people lives…

Write letters!

There are relatives, acquaintances and strangers who need these;

Especially the elderly or shut-ins who have no other family members there for them.

They just need to know that they’re not alone or forgotten.

Letters can give them hope or a sense of comfort.

So, if you’re a writer and want to impact others

use your talent and passion for them!