Wednesday, August 27, 2014

straddling fall ideals and the heat of summer...

Last week the weather turned cool and nights were comfortable and mornings perfect for hot tea. This week... the air is hot. This week we started school. This week we dove in and the weather turned and we are straddling fall ideals and the heat of summer and sleepless sticky nights and early productive mornings. Pancake breakfasts and starting school before 9am because we are ready and chomping at the bit for reminders of rhythm and routine and structure. Afternoons turn us towards the beach, or icy drinks at air conditioned coffee shops while we finish school work... 

And I forgot how exhausting starting back is. My brain is mush. My words are used up by mid day. Nap time has never looked so good. I forgot just how much we can pack in a day... I'm waiting for my stamina to build up again, as it always does in Autumn. My zest for life, my energy, and my creativity comes back full force as the weather cools... it's the in between, the straddling, that melts my brain and has me counting down until bedtime. Not for the kids, but for me! 

Over the weekend the first Writing Naturally Workshop met, and it was on a perfect August evening. The light was brilliant, the breeze held up for a while keeping the bugs at bay until the very end, and we wrote. It was breathtaking. I learned much from that evening, and have opened registration for the fall series. If you're local, I hope you'll join me. Next week I'll be sharing about my online offering: Writing Naturally: October. It will be part writing inspiration and instruction, part coaching, and I'm excited to finally have it come to fruition. I've felt *this close* to having a grasp on it for a long, long time. 

I also wanted to share two other offerings that I'll be participating in come September. I'm so excited about both of these e-courses:

Alisha and Robin are offering another round of liberated lines, "an Instagram-based, quick and dirty, poetry and prose course", beginning September 8th. I missed the last session, and wouldn't dare miss this one! Registration for liberated lines - clear is open right now.

Jen at iHappy is offering her first e-course: Poetry in Everyday Beauty. From Jen's description: "In this workshop we will use words and photographs to capture the poetry of our everyday. Each day, for ten days Monday-Friday, you will receive a short essay and a prompt from me that you are then free to use how you wish. Will you feel moved to take pictures? To write your own lines of poetry? To journal? To share with others or to keep close to your heart? It is up to you." Registration is open now {she's offering a buy one, get one deal to share with a friend!} and it also begins on September 8th. 

Lots and lots of goodness, my friends. 


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

peaceful

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She goes from dipping toes gingerly to dancing in single movement, fingers grazing the still waters. Waves kiss the shore, ever so gently. Early morning love songs from Mother Nature... these peaceful moments before the world fully wakes.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

...hop...

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A few weeks ago, my beloved friend Christa invited me to participate in a blog hop. I've known Christa online for years now, and she's someone I look up to in many ways, and for many reasons. Hopefully I'll be able to put my arms around her and give her a big hug sooner than later. She's shown me what I can't help but call love in friendship and in such maternal way that whenever we correspond I simply feel held. I hope you hop over and meet her if you haven't already! 

When Christa asked if I'd play along with the hop, of course I said yes. I've answered these questions before, but at the time I wasn't writing much and answered in a different way than I will today. These questions can be answered in so many ways, I think it would be incredible to answer them again in another few months and to see what is similar and what has changed. But for today, here are my answers. At the end of this post I'll introduce two {because I couldn't ask just one...}thoughtful blogs that will host next Saturday.

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1. What am I working on?

I'm slowly working on the novel I wrote back in November during NaNoWriMo. I'm not sure where I want to take it, or how it will work, or even what to do with it... but it's there! I'm also making notes for another story as it comes together in my head. Daily I try to write a bit in my journal, either from prompts or just free writing what's on my mind.

Also, I'm focusing a bit on creating my Naturally Writing Workshops {the first one is on the 23rd, yikes!} Ideally after the first session I'll have some insights into how to translate the workshop into an online course, which would be more accessible for writers who are not located nearby. The workshops will be focused on free writing, and turning freely written words into more focused pieces.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

While I'm not entirely sure, I will say that what makes my writing unique is that I focus a great deal on making it lyrical. I believe my writing, especially non fiction, has a sort of poetry in prose thing going on. The challenge I have is bringing my authentic writing voice to fiction. It's a gigantic work in progress.

3. Why do I create what I do?

I'm beginning to realize that I create what I'd like to read. Pretty simple. I love to read beautifully written narratives, lyrical and easily digestible. So that's what I write. I create blog posts to document, to share, to connect. I create journal entries to work through whatever is happening in my head. To see what is in my head in writing always brings revelations and new insights. I suppose in some way I write to be able to read, and then to learn. It's always fascinating for me to look back on what I've written, because while I'm in the zone I'm not really sure where the words will go, and on the page they look so different from in my head.

4. How does my writing process work?

When I was writing back in November, my process was really simple. I sat down, and I wrote. Picked up where I left off the day before, and wrote like crazy. Certain times I still do that. For the blog, or in my journal. For some reason I'm more hesitant with fiction.. Maybe because there isn't a deadline like during NaNoWriMo? There's really something to be said for having a goal made public, and knowing others are participating in the same goal, individually. These days I jot down a few sentences when I think of an idea, snippets really. I've connected a few, paragraphs are adding up as the days go on. I'm not feeling a sense of urgency, so I write descriptions of moments or even a few key words in list form. I count all of that as writing, as part of the process. As summer is winding down and we start spending more time at home again, and have more of a daily rhythm, I'm hoping to spend more time on fleshing out ideas.

Thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions, Christa! Looking at them now, I know I just need to get my butt in the chair and write like crazy again!

And now, I'd like to pass along the hop.
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Virginia and Kara write jointly at Mea Cuppa. They weave beautiful tales of family, daily life, recipes, natural living, and so much more. 


"Have a seat and I’ll get you a cuppa coffee… let’s chat." This phrase may be the single best way to describe Kara.  She absolutely loves people- her family, her friends, complete strangers, everyone. Kara has an incredible way of approaching things in an off-the-cuff manner that draws you in and makes you say, “yes please,” to java cup number 2 (or 6).



Virginia is wife to her high school sweetheart, mother to three daughters, coping with the intense job of homemaking, and a copious consumer of coffee. When not contemplating life with her co-blogger and friend Kara over at Mea Cuppa, Virginia can be found vigorously reading, cooking, crocheting, and happily enjoying her little slice of life.

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Jennifer Hoppins writes at Imagined, Remembered, Believed. She writes nothing less than her beautiful truth, and comes to the table with warmth and knowledge in her pocket.

 
Jennifer Hoppins is a writer and home educator living in Greensboro, North Carolina.  She writes to give form and expression to the emotional truth of circumstance and change.  Celebrating moments of agency against recurring setbacks, closed doors and failed opportunity, she writes to come alive, to recognize debilitating fear, to exercise the power of written ideas, to experience the freedom of acceptance, and to observe openings in life's sometimes densely tangled path. She also writes to encourage and draw out written expression in others through mini lessons, prompts and sample stories. A turning point in her life happened on her wedding day, when both sets of parents (who, living in separate states and had never met) collided in a high speed accident on the way to the chapel.  Jennifer writes short stories, poems, a blog and has one often neglected novel in progress (which gets attention on rainy days.) 

Friday, August 15, 2014

it's not all lobsters dancing over rainbows...

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Lest you think our stays in Maine are all lobsters dancing over rainbows and hair being tossed effortlessly into sea breezes....

Last night Lucas was back in Massachusetts. My girl needed to be snuggled to sleep, so I happily cuddled with her for twenty minutes. Then my boy needed the same, so I happily snuggled for another half an hour. Figuring he was asleep, I tried to sneak out of his bed. But every time I attempted, he'd roll over, make a sad face, and pull me back in. This game continued for another half an hour, before I finally just had him climb into the big bed with me while I read until a reasonable adult bedtime {ahem...9:30... thank you very much sun and water and fresh air...}

All was sweet and calm until my girl woke in the middle of the night, and was furious to find her brother in bed with me. Where she should have been, according to her. She climbed in and fitfully slept until the sun started to rise, at what felt an ungodly hour. She woke with chip on her shoulder, a distaste for all things I offered for breakfast, and quite frankly a general sense of malaise. 

When someone in the house wakes in a state like that, the day can go two ways. We all know this. So I tried to save the day and offered mini golf, which the kids have been asking to do all summer long. And like any sane mother, I've tried to put it off until I couldn't any longer. 

It was a chilly morning, so we put on sweatshirts and I dug through my suit case to find my jeans and a striped navy and white shirt. Dressed, I felt put together and stylish {one of a few outfits that I modeled after my favorite duchess... the shirt from Boden, bought on sale for a steal!}

We arrived at the large mini golf arena and dutifully paid an arm and a leg for three clubs and colorful golf balls. It all started off fine, with smiles and gentle swings of the golf clubs. 

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And then, as any person who has mini golfed with a child, could guess, all hell broke loose. Balls started flying off the course and onto the side road {thankfully, not Route 1...} clubs became light sabers and swords, someone realized that the mini golf mecca had ice cream back at the pro shop - and the begging and whining started around the 10th hole. Around that time I not only realized that I had forgotten to have a proper cup of tea that morning, but also I looked back and saw not just one, but five other women wearing my favorite outfit of jeans and a blue and white stripped top. As we finished the course, one child flinging her arms for ice cream, the other sulking because we had to return the clubs and balls, I felt like vacation cliche.

Now, anyone who has spent time my children know they are sweet, well behaved, nary a whine children. But sometimes.... sometimes we all have a day.

We stopped at our favorite coffee shop on the way back to the condo. The kids sat patiently while I ordered and the barrista made my caffe mocha. When she passed the drink to me I sighed, saying "I attempted mini golf this morning, un-caffeinated..." She laughed heartily and smiled knowingly. "Well, you've come to the right place!" she said as she passed me my change.

On the way out the door stopped at the picnic tables, never having noticed before they were covered in chalk board paint. Tiny mason jars held nubs of pastel colored chalk. My kids looked up at me hopefully, but they didn't say a word. Perhaps they were a little frightened after I went on a long rant about being grateful and respectful and enjoying experiences while we were stuck in traffic en route to the holy grail of caffeine....

I nodded. And sat myself down on the bench and pulled out a piece of chalk. They followed suit. The conversation was easy and light. We drew for a while, and then headed back home for lunch and an afternoon swim. Fully caffeinated. Fully aware that our day turned around in a split second, thanks to the coffee shop, a caffe mocha {best $4.50 I spent all week!} and the chalk board picnic tables. 


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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

six

She turned six yesterday. A few friends came to join us in Maine, and she had a party that was perfectly her. She smiled wide as we celebrated. We are all still exhausted from the events, and have spent today quietly playing with new transformers and reading comic books, making jewelry from kits and drawing with stencils... even making paper airplanes. The gifts she received yesterday truly reflect her vast array of interests, her sweet little girl-ness, and her creative side. There is so much to this six year old that leaves us smiling, bewildered, and thankful. We are so lucky to know and love her. 

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

I see the moon...

The kids and I {and Lucas, too, for a few days here and there...} are on a Maine adventure for the week. It feels very 1950's or something, having him here on the weekend, and then watching him leave Sunday night for the work week. Though he'll be back tomorrow night to celebrate our girl's birthday Tuesday. Regardless, it feels very old fashioned, and liberating at the same time. The freedom. The excitement of alone time with the kids someplace where the laundry doesn't pile up as much, there aren't bills on the counter, and spontaneity is on the wind.

After baths tonight we decided to throw caution to that spontaneous wind and we headed down to the beach with the intention of watching the Super Moon rise over the sea. We dawned sweatshirts, snagged the last parking space and then grabbed a blanket from the car and danced onto the fine, cool sand of our favorite hidden beach. My boy cartwheeled his heart out, my girl jumped with her freshly bathed legs from tide pool to tide pool, and we stared at the sky as it clouded over. We caught just a glimpse of a bright pink moon before it hid behind the cloud cover.

Intentions are fine and wonderful, but the real magic always happens when you let go of them for a bit, or keep them a bit vague... open.  Intention and expectation are two words that I will admit to having trouble with at times. I want to stick to them. To cling to them. My intention is one thing, but if I'm not careful {and often I'm not...} it turns into an expectation and I truly believe that expectations kill so many joys and hold us back from experiences that have life changing potential, most times for the better.

Tonight the light changed each and every moment. The sky was painted in pinks and purples, hues of orange and blue. Clouds magically whisked away the moon, replaced by an even more spectacular portrait of an August evening on the coast of Maine. There was a tinge of disappointment on my part, though the kids were happy as clams to simply be out past bed time, getting sandy and collecting sea glass and shells. And so I let my expectation of seeing the Super Moon go. And of course, I felt lighter. And of course, I could hear what my children were saying to me clearer. They were happy. They were on an adventure. And it was a special night to them.

We headed back to the condo and as we pulled into the parking lot my son gasped so loudly, I jumped in my seat. Ahead of us was the moon, brilliant and bright, full and above the clouds. Waiting for us. We ran inside, dished up bowls of ice cream and sat on the deck until the kids heads were heavy and their beds called to them. My girl walked inside sleepily asking if we could paint the moon in golds and silvers and yellows. My boy commented on how nights like this don't happen all that often {whether he meant the moon, an evening on the beach, or ice cream way after bedtime... I'm still not sure!}

I tucked them in, smiling with visions of the marsh and sky, pinks and purples, her night gown dancing down the beach, his sweatshirt pockets brimming with seashells...

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

tiny tea leaves

I've mentioned before that these days I'm a project knitter. I don't knit for the pure joy of knitting... my wrists and thumbs and tendons become angry when I knit for the sake of knitting for hours on end. But, there is a joy that I still get when I knit for someone I love. When there's a project to work on, one that I can see come to life in and by my hands. This time of year is one of my favorite's to knit, when the humidity is low and I am longing for my beloved Autumn to just start already! While I love beach days, summer beach days are hard on my body and I love to take refuge in a comfy chair with my yarn and needles and dream of hot tea and chilly nights and hand knits to pull tight around my shoulders. 

My girl had a little sweater that I knit for her two or three years ago. She wore it non stop, the only hand knit that has been worn endlessly until it was too small. The yarn was not my first choice, as it was an acrylic blend, but it held up to countless washes in the machine and even a few tumbles in the dryer. So when she asked for another one, but in purple (and size appropriate for a nearly six year old!) I said yes, and cast on as soon as the yarn arrived. 

Recently I've spoken with a few people about the relationship that knitting and writing have in my life. As a writer, unless you print out your words you don't normally hold your work in your hands. It's not a very tactile sort of work. But knitting... knitting grows and you can see the progress you are making. You can feel the bumps of the purl stitches, the smooth of the knits. It is a welcome change from the less physical act of writing (aside from the hand on the forehead, elbow on the table position that I often take when I am staring off into space coaxing words into form...)

And so, below are photos of my girl's second Tiny Tea Leaves sweater. In purple. 

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

welcoming August

My mother came to visit this week; a quick, sweet surprise for the kids. We said good bye this morning, and the kids and I are leaning in to a slow day, recovering from the last two spent in the sun. Enjoying the calm before the storm of mid to late August. Birthdays and celebrations and time away and school prep and a workshop.... August will be full. And quiet. Intentional. 

Off line I'm playing with Amanda's prompts for August, and I'm loving the daily practice of writing. Again. I seem to always make my way back to the simplicity of words on the page...


The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. ~Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting




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