Tag Archive: writing

3x5OverToThe DarkSideWednesday Wisdom ~ DreamSculptr travel sense, Little Man with a Big Siren, and a question, so Angel doesn’t go over to the dark side in a few hours.

DreamSculpting Interactive is all about hearing from you what will make your dreams sing, and including that when sharing an upcoming guidebook I compiled for myself ~ a relatively playful process that worked well for me during the worst of my personal trials, and continues to do so.

First, though, I want to say that last night’s travel ambassador tour at the stadium clubhouse was awesome! Thank you CVB and stadium manager. I met fascinating new people and ran into friends with whom I swapped travel adventures, leading a friend to ask, “Why don’t you write about the many benefits of your adventures?” Would people actually be interested in reading this?

I told my friend, “I’m too busy adventuring.” (Well, publishing books and dancing around the art of ceramics,  watermedia, and staying alive, too). Then I remembered the safe, savvy, solo travel book I began as a spinoff from the sculpting my dreams book while driving coast to coast to ‘walk my talk,’ after finalizing a late bloomer degree that placed me firmly in the professional ranks back home.

Travel is magical. It transports me to other worlds and connects me to new people. As much as I love being caught in the lens, while traveling I am the one behind the camera. I love adventures, like those recently spent cruising from Paris to Monaco, through the Pacific islands, trolling the Caribbean, escapades on the Disney ships, and sailing on windjammers. Times spent enjoying Denali, calving glaciers, sweeping through Europe to study the arts, sleeping in a national forest outside the Grand Canyon, climbing volcanoes, residing on the Emperor’s moat in the elegant Akasaka Prince, riding the Shinkansen, homestays in “rural” Otsu, and drawing artwork for a ‘little man with a big siren’ after leaving Denver trailing a broken leafspring. Then there were times when I nearly died in the Hiawatha Nat’l forest, when the flooding Colorado River near Arches swallowed me, when I survived Death Valley without air one hot July, those insider observatory tours with my personal astrophysicist, a lockout on Olympia, and a storybook life as a kid along the Pigeon river wilderness and Rifle river while pulling porcupine needles from a dog’s muzzle, skinning rabbits, and petting a tame elk tagging at my heels. Other times, I faced a Yellowstone black bear, caught myself in a frenzied herd of  longhorn cattle, as well as earthquakes, tornadoes, and stampeding buffalo. I drove sheep, climbed mountains, learned 35mm photography far out on a Kaibob ledge jutting into the Grand Canyon without a railing, and hiked canyons with my brother. I’ve experienced amazingly spiritual animal encounters, escaped from a roaring inferno, unknowingly worked for a serial killer, endured my child being in the Rome airport during a terrible bombing, been guarded by a tiny Japanese woman with a parasol, survived the Great Sargasso Sea of Romantic Turbulence, broken through the glass ceiling, found personal discovery and generated questions, plus much more.

My travel hasn’t always been solo but lately much of it has. “Walking my talk” led to many people at Disney World and across the country freeing themselves from spellbinding circumstances to pursue their dreams.

This represents a lot of exhausting air, overland, train, and ship travel for a woman who, like all women, can be magnetic in person but must hide her charm when far from her sanctuary and yet still plan well enough to allow for spontaneous openings ~ for new people, new ideas, and insight.

Many benefits come from solo travel, whether you are truly alone or hitched to a flock of other travelers going in the same direction. I developed better radar, found moments when I forgot to guard my heart, formatted a better understanding of the world, and, of course, encountered events that required the intervention of my guardian angels. But they rose to the challenge. Now I know of new places to mention when friends ask, “what’s next?”

Preparation is key to safe, savvy solo travel. It is critical to know how to pack your bags, how to stay ‘invisible’ at times, and when to join in or merely observe. Safe transportation is a must, as well as preparing for emergencies that arise along the way ~ and that includes unexpected situations with a first time roommate as well as mechanical upsets and crises back at home base.

The truth is, I don’t know if I want to reveal poignant details of my life. I currently write stories and poetry for older children, young adults, charity, and myself. I’ve also published stories about amazing circumstances in several local editions and I’m working on a series of novels as well as in a collaborative studio.

So before I invest my time in developing what I did and why and how, I wonder if people are interested in reading these assorted tales? How has travel opened your horizon to new possibilities that help you realize your own dream?

I drew this picture while trapped at a campground outside of Denver on the flat, high plains ~ having just left behind the awesome beauty of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. There’s a key pad combination lock on that open privy door, and the drawing is entitled “Little Man with a Big Siren.” Ouch…TextrLilMan BigSiren


Recently someone posed a question about ebooks vs print books.    They were running out of subject lines to catch our attention, and “Good morning, m’dears” didn’t sound very catchy.  The brain buster of the day is: which do you prefer, ebooks or traditional books? (I know, such a mind bender, huh…) Seriously though, which do you prefer and why?

Me?  Different formats for times and places, whatever works is great.   With a house already packed to the gills with print books, it’s nice to enjoy alternative formats that can be accessed wherever we are in the world.  It is so convenient!  Boredom has finally met its match.

Just before sleeping, there are print books. (Wouldn’t want to fall asleep on top of an electronic device and break it!). In the car there are books on disc.   Now we have new toys, the iPad and iPhone, and the world of electronic books has opened its door. Free iPhone and iPad apps are available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, epub, and other readers, so an iPad owner can download books in almost any platform. Moreover, with ereaders we can often sample a portion of the book free to glimpse the author’s style before making a purchase decision. This is a very accommodating feature.

Yes, it’s a tempting new world.  The iPad tucks nicely under a pillow, in a bag, or inside a folding chair for an outdoor concert. While writing books on the computer, one can watch streaming video movies on one device and check email, social media, and other functions via smartphone.   Or watch a movie in bed and pause it to fall asleep reading a book.   Just be careful not to stay up all night exploring the incredible array of friends and activities associated with ebooks.

I have published in print books that make wonderful gifts and will last as long as they are loved.  Owners often display them face out on the shelf, something we cannot do with ebooks.  Besides writing, I edit ebooks, including some for print authors. Indie authors are an active group, and social media author groups are rapidly growing. It’s an exciting world where author and reader alike can catch a wave that is growing. Along with the books, we’re drawn heavily into a variety of emerging social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Be aware that ebook layout differs from print.  For one thing, due to the wide variety of readers and the ability to view in one- or two-page spreads with variable size type, the book may vary in length and the layout isn’t always guaranteed.  Chapters may not start where planned.  Pictures designed to display across the page from a poem may not.  Tables of contents may spread across three pages instead of two.  Careful consideration must be given to these features when designing an ebook.

Whether you like print books or easily accessible ebooks, there is a plethora of new resource material  entering the market.  It is a great time to be alive.

Personally,  I like to snuggle up with a print book on some days and read using the iPad on others.  Which do you prefer ~ print or ebooks?

(I decided to publish and add to this later.  There is so much more!)

Chocolate Ink  ~  Writing with pure delicious love

No doubt about it, chocolate helps!  Life can be hard, but chocolate is a definite plus. Once upon a time, I thought chocolate was the deadliest food in existence.  Then one day, I saw the light and fell madly in love.

Dark chocolate labeled ‘70% or greater’ contains the most cacao and the least fat, sugar, and milk solids, making it the most healthy and guilt free.  I carry individually wrapped squares or small bars when I travel, keeping the treat to a piece a day.  It is the best mid-afternoon ‘pick-me-up’ I have ever found besides filtered water.

Then too, there are related chocolate goodies.  For instance, chocolate raspberry coffee.  I used to think to myself, ‘eewww raspberry and chocolate?! Who likes that stuff?’  Yup, it’s me – I eat and drink the stuff now. I can even lose weight with my little chocolate buddy if I want to.  Best of all, I can sit down with a steaming cup of chocolate raspberry or Jamaican Kahlua and caramel coffee – and write, write, write, happy and contentedly without the fattening snacks that often plague sedentary activities.

I just introduced my daughter, an immensely creative entrepreneur, to chocolate-flavored coffee roasted with Kahlua and caramel.  She was flabbergasted when I served it plain.  But she loved, loved, loved it!  Generally she serves coffee with flavored creamer, spice, sugar, chocolate powder, milk, etc, many of which contain trans fat or can irritate a sensitive digestive tract.  Let’s check the choices.  Heart attack? No. Colostomy? Not a good selection.  Allergies and lactose intolerance?  NO, no, no, just gimme half a cup of roasted beans with a chocolate flavor built into them and I’m happy.

Oh, chocolate stars!  Speaking of which, here is a recipe for brownies I could eat by the batch.  That’s why I rarely make brownies or chocolate chip cookies.   Dark chocolate raspberry is chopped and mixed in the batter, while squares decorate the top. Thankfully, many of us can enjoy an occasional chocolate overload.

Using a paddle attachment in a stand mixer bowl, mix together 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 Tb vanilla extract.  Add 2 large eggs, one at a time. Add dry ingredients (3/4 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/2 tsp kosher salt, sifted together).  Spread half of the batter in a lightly greased 8×8″ baking pan.  Cut a chocolate raspberry (or caramel or mint chocolate) bar into 8 pieces and place randomly across the top. Spread the remaining batter on top and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  After cooling for 30 minutes, unwrap 9 dark chocolate raspberry squares and distribute evenly across top.  Cool, cut, and enjoy!

While we eat our brownies, let’s talk writing.  I use a chocolate theme in both poetry and prose.  To my surprise, writing about chocolate feels almost as decadent as eating it.  ‘Chocolate Town’ is part of my first novel. ‘Chocolate Snowman’ is in “Firelight”, an illustrated poetry volume.

Why does chocolate bring us joy?  How does it enhance the pursuit of creativity?

If we were all watercolor pencils, we could create great art. Like colored pencils, everything we do leaves a mark, and we can correct most of our mistakes. The most important things in life are what is inside of us as we go through repeated sharpening to make us better throughout life, while submitting to, being held and guided by, the wisest hand of all. Then we create beautiful visions and realize our greatest dreams.

Recently, I joined a group of friends traveling to Las Vegas to see Cirque Du Soleil.  For years I had wanted to see more of  Cirque Du Soleil. I was also fascinated in the time share condo we rented for the week instead of separate hotel rooms. With friends going in the same direction as my ‘dream’, I was only too happy to become a ‘colored pencil’ in the hands of this well-established group as their newbie member.

Once we settled the lodging, air, and minivan, we turned our attention to the specific Cirque events to visit each night as a group.  Facebook was offering closed groups, so we created one and posted each show separately. Eager participants researched online. The plan was to see all of the shows, or as many as possible.  Candidates were Ka, O, Zumanity, Viva: Elvis, Love: the Beatles, and Mystere. Organized conversation flowed until we finalized advance reservations and were on our way!

Or were we? We agreed to meet at the local airport two hours before the late March flight, knowing the ticket counter closed 45 minutes before the flight. One couple was already there when I arrived.  I must say, I was not entirely intact.

I had, in fact, been under stress for some time wondering whether I would be able to keep my travel plans. Why? Well, despite a lifetime of good health, a swollen lump surfaced near my scapula a few weeks earlier, just as the late January “Snowpocalypse of 2011”  hit Michigan with over a foot of snow. Whoopee, right? Not really…it makes a better plot line for your worst nightmare. I had just paid unrecoverable travel expenses, so I waited quietly  to see if it went away, rather than spook family and friends.

For several weeks, doctors sent me from one inconclusive digital test to another, including ultrasound, biopsy, PET scan  and CT. In the end they decided to  ‘explore’, in other words, surgery. I could see myself trying to lift and roll a heavy case through the airports.  Worse – does there always have to be a worse? – they decided to combine two procedures into one more painful hospital visit, rescheduled even closer to my departure.

Without their support I never would have been able to go.  One was rooting hard for the trip to continue on schedule. The other encouraged me to stay in case treatment was needed. Had I listened exclusively to him I would have lost  funds, my friends’ good will, and precious memories. Instead, I listened to my positive thinking daughters encouragement.  “Hang in there, mom, you might be able to go.”  With support from them and my sister, I endured the tests, big scary words, and surgery with nothing more than a rash from the impatience and frustration. I made it!

Steri-stripped together with week-old stitches, my daughter drove me to the airport and waited to roll the big suitcase  while I dragged the smaller overhead case.  Eventually our disabled traveler arrived and claimed the group wheelchair. With cleverly disguised anxiety, we waited for our final friend to arrive with our boarding passes. A mere 20 minutes remained to shutdown by the time we checked luggage, passed security, and fled toward the gate. We were off!

It was great fun. After arriving in Las Vegas airport our ravenous fliers ate Polynesian Kiki burgers at the nearby Bachi Burger. We picked up a few basic groceries and tucked ourselves into the condo’s two bedrooms and living room for some much-needed sleep.

After a hot breakfast of omelets and juice on Monday morning, we  oriented ourselves and set out to explore architecture along the ‘Strip’. Our first stop was valet parking at MGM Grand.  After checking out the CSI Experience and Ka theater, we walked outside to the fascinating 3-story M&M store. Now, those little brightly coated chocolate M&M’s are my favorite treat.  I was careful to leave with only 3 bags of the peanut variety and a souvenir or two.

Next, we drove to the Tower for lunch on a platform revolving 360 degrees a hundred and sixty floors above Las Vegas.  Our cameras worked overtime as we ate one of the best sandwiches I have ever tasted. When we had rotated nearly a complete circle, we spotted the jump site approaching.  Yes, a roof to ground jump site.  Jumpers are anchored by a support line on either side, as they glide rapidly past the windows on the center line and a camera mounted on the outside line snaps a picture.  We were each determined to snap a live picture of the next jumper.  Problem was, the speed at which they descended.  I decided to select video on my iPhone and shoot a moving clip rather than risk snapping a speeding blob.  It worked.  In a split second it was over.  By holding my camera position near the window top, where I knew he would appear first, I caught him, panned downward, and followed as he disappeared toward the ground.

Then we slipped into valet parking at the Treasure Island casino, home of Mystere.  After claiming reserved evening tickets by the required one hour before showtime, we shopped the theater store and looked around for a quick dinner  before the show.  Kahunaville was next to the theatre.  We had a mere 30 minutes from the time we ordered several hors d’ oeuvres until we needed to claim our seats. The food arrived in the nick of time and proved to be a perfect meal before a performance.

By 6:40 pm we were seated for the 7 o’clock showing of Mystere. I was enthralled by my first Cirque Du Soleil performance in Las Vegas from the pre show  until the final moment. Even the comedy relief was great. We will now greet each other charmingly by squeaking “Poppa!” as a current inside joke. Later, we discovered that MGM sold Treasure Island in order to build the City Center at the Aria Resort. New owners reside on the top floor and maintain a proprietary stance on Mystere memorabilia.  It can be purchased only at the Mystere gift shop. Show costumes, music, characters, and acrobatics were magnifique! Even though Mystere is the longest running Cirque show in Las Vegas, it was my inaugural experience. And I was hooked!

The next morning was Tuesday.   We traipsed along with  our condo host to a timeshare sales event.  By the time we left, two of our members had converted, purchased, or otherwise increased their holdings in this versatile community. After some shopping, it was time to dress and find Viva Elvis, a new Cirque du Soleil resident show playing at ARIA Resort & Casino at the Las Vegas CityCenter. I had already decided that Aria architecture was my favorite. Ultra modern styling and reflective materials highlight its slightly out-of-kilter angularity, making it spectacular.  We ate dinner that evening at a Japanese restaurant for about $30. Since I was not very hungry, I chose a soup with chicken for only $8, saving a robust $22 for other fun.

Wednesday and Thursday were my two nights of alone time. To save a few hundred dollars I had decided to see only 4 of the 6 group shows. That was both blessing and mistake. I needed time to figure out how to operate my new camera and write, so it was helpful. But I missed seeing Ka. I now believe I would have enjoyed Ka the most.  Attempting to recoup my error, I bought a DVD about creating the show, and downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes once I reached home. I was beginning to act to like one of my fine watercolor pencils by now; I was culminating my dream by creating a fabulous set of memories and links to new creative experiences that would lead my particular brand of personal creativity into a visionary future.

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