2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference: What a Blast!

Two days after conference I am finally getting my bearings again. I go to a writers conference to learn and to connect like most everyone else. Like most everyone else I work my ass off doing it. 14 hours of workshops, 7 hours of connecting and schmoozing whilst having a meal and several more cocktail hours of connecting and schmoozing. All this over the course of a three-day weekend (there is a fourth, optional day on Thursday that I didn’t participate in). By Sunday morning I am usually hiding behind copious amounts of coffee, overstimulated, exhausted, and walking around in a bit of a fog.  At the same time I am content and happy to be among my people all weekend and thrilled with the learning experience. I noticed several others in the same condition. I tell people it’s like going to Hogwarts. Well, I think there is a clear correlation anyway.

Conference Experience

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) is known as the friendliest conference in the country and ranks as one of the top ten writers conferences in the U.S. This year the conference earned attendees from as far away as Ireland. So is it true? Is PPWC the friendliest writers conference in the nation? You betcha! This was my second year at conference. I was so overwhelmed my first year I kept to my workshops and didn’t talk with much of anybody. That was not for lack of trying on the staff’s part. PPWC staff made me feel so welcome and comfortable that first year that when I returned this year I made nearly two dozen connections including authors, publishers, and editors in several different genres. I practically felt like an old pro at this conference stuff.

Registration is a breeze, swag bags are awesome (this year included a free book!), and if you even think that you might be feeling lost or overwhelmed there is always someone nearby to help you out. In fact, they may know you need help before you do. Most likely they have been there and done that.

How friendly are these people. Well, I walked up to a keynote speaker’s table and asked if a seat was taken. Staff members piped up trying to gently tell me the table was reserved when I saw the sign. I played it off with some clever comment (at least I hoped it was clever) and ended up being complimented on my “radio voice” (I was a little hoarse that day). No snooty upturned noses, no rude comments or questioning of my cranial fortitude. No, instead I was complimented.

 Speakers

Holy cow, the speakers! Move over Tony Robbins. Get out of the way Zig Zigler. Find a new gig Mike Dooley. Meet the 2015 PPWC speakers, Mary Kay Andrews, Andrew Gross, R.L. Stine (I call him Bob), and Seanan McGuire! All wonderful authors, highly inspiring, with impressive histories, and individual flair and styles all their own. If you’re not motivated about your writing by the time these people are done with you, you need to find something else to do with yourself. You should have heard some of Bob’s fan letters, hysterical!

 Workshops

There are up to six workshops going on at any given time between breakfast and dinner. Open and closed critique groups and speaker panels round out this portion of the conference. Authors, editors, agents, and specialists present workshops on everything from craft to the business of writing. Tough stuff like plotting, keeping the pages turning, query letters, what agents are really looking for, platform building, how the process of writing a book and getting published works and many more. My best advice, fork over the cash for a recording so you can get all the fabulous workshops you’re going to miss while attending to your priorities or stuff that’s not recorded. So many talented people including Barbara (Samuel) O’Neal, Josh Vogt, Robert Spiller, Angie Hodapp, Cara Lopez Lee, Kevin IkenberryLaura DiSilverio, Liz Pelletier, and many more! Once again, if you’re not on fire about your writing after these people are done with you, you need to find something else to do. Maybe even check to see if you still have a pulse. Just sayin’. No, there is not Kool Aid.

 The Zebulon

The Zebulon is a comprehensive writing contest that includes a rounded list of genres and mimics the process of submitting a story for publication…only much faster. You can purchase a critique of your story and you will receive a scorecard so you can identify your strong points and work on the areas you’re not so strong in, including your query letter. So worth the small investment.

 Start Saving Up Now

So much more is available including query 1-on-1 and professional headshots as well as a book store. Then there’s the friends, comradery, and priceless moments to be had at every turn. This year there was even a ghost hunt. I save up all year just to go to this conference. I suggest you do the same and I’ll see you next year! There is a payment plan, so there’s not much of an excuse. I met writers of all kinds from erotica to nonfiction and everything between.

If you’re a writer and wondering if a conference is something you should do, let me save you the trouble. As the Nike ad says “Just Do It”. It could be one of the best decisions you could make about your writing career. Until Next year, adieu, magical PPWC. Back to the muggle world for now.

As always, feel free to drop comments or questions below and discuss. Love to see what you think.

Desire Leads to a Different New Year Perspective

So here we are, nearly half-way through the first month of the new year. If you’re like me, New Year’s resolutions don’t really work for you. I stopped making them years ago.

But last year I found something different.

Danielle LaPorte put out this book called The Desire Map and that was a game changer. Now before you tune out and go off thinking “Oh, God! Not another self-help guru’s sheep spouting the wisdom of said chosen guru.” Take a moment to think about this.

What if you stopped thinking about your life in terms of goals, and instead, focused on how you want to feel? Seriously. All those things that you want to do or get done, lose weight, find the right someone, write that book, are all intended to make you feel a certain, desired way anyhow. What if you focused on those feelings and the things you could do on a daily basis to support them?

But I digress, this post is not about the book, the system, the day planner, the cards, the book groups, or the facilitators springing up around the world. The D-Movement (I just made that up myself).

This post is about how focusing on how you want to feel; a subtle shift that changes everything. Including what you thought were your goals. It changes the way you think about everything.

So here’s my case in point. I am not one for routine. I find it to be mindnumbingly boring…a creativity and momentum killer…basically a big downer. However, the practical, hardworking Capricorn part of me knows that routines and schedules are necessary to success, which also means I have a very difficult time putting down a task that is unfinished just because the time to work on said task is up and I must move on to the next. I was having trouble coming up with a way to be more comfortable with routine and schedules. Does this sound immature? It doesn’t matter, it’s the way I feel and I am plenty mature enough to acknowledge my faults and deal with them or work around them <sticks tongue out and makes face>. Also, I have a physiological challenge that cause me to become foggy or unable to focus for anywhere from an hour to days.

I went to the go-to Desire Map group on facebook.com to help me brainstorm an answer because I’ll take a little help from wherever I can get it, I’m exploitative like that. I got a lot of really great answers from going with the flow to wonderful mantras, to-do lists, thinking of it as taking control, and doing what feels good. The coolest thing was that everyone shared what they felt in their heart might help me. No one, single person posted anything like “just suck it up and do it, you pansy!.” That in itself was immensely impressive to me because, you know, there’s always one in every group.

So, my fair readers and DMapers, without further ado, here’s what I came up with. It resonated with my entire being and at the same time struck me as a gigantic, DOH!

I found the secret to submitting to a routine and scheduled tasks was…

drum roll please…<apple drops on noggin>

Nurturing.

What?! I know, right!!!

Here’s the thing, all those “routine” tasks that I think are so boring and ask myself “why do I have to do this?” about, are only nurturing me. Dishes, laundry, housework, only gives back to me (mainly because we are empty-nesters now and there are no kids here anymore to suck up the benefits of my labors. Love ya kids! Mwah!). Scheduling writing time, exercise time, and meditation time only gives back to me, sometimes many-fold more that I put into it. So before you think that I might need a maid and an assistant – I know these things are beneficial and nurturing to me because of the way I f-e-e-l after I have done them. Clean, proud, accomplished, happy, content, and generally good.

So, when I perform my routine, when I schedule these things that are important to me, but may or may not want to do at that time, I am taking care of me, nurturing myself, taking time to love me. In turn, nurturing myself allows me to be more nurturing to others and that’s what it’s really all about.

If you want to know more about Desire Mapping and the great things you can do with it, Check out Danielle LaPorte’s website at DanielleLaporte.com if you find you’re fired up about it, join our group on facebook.com. Happy New Year! May your best and greatest destiny be yours!

As always…feel free to discuss below.

Road Trip Photo Essay: Colorado Springs, CO to Points West…and South, Part II

As promised, this is part two of our trip to the four corners area. So without further ado, Part II.

Mesa Verde Park covers 81.39 miles of mesas and valleys in the southwest corner of Colorado. The park includes over 5,000 archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings. These were the ancestral lands of the Pueblo Indians who later moved further south to join the Pueblo people of Arizona and New Mexico. No one knows for sure, but droughts were probably the main reason for the move. Knowing where they could go, and that the people further south were friendly probably helped make the decision to move a little easier. These people inhabited the Mesa Verde area for 700 years building their apartments in the caves and learning to live and farm the top of the mesas. They are called the Anasazi in the language of the modern Pueblo, meaning “ancient ones” and consisted of Navajo and Zuni people. Oh, by the way, Mesa Verde is Spanish for green table.

Outside the visitors center you will be greeted by the Pueblo Potter, a 2009 limestone sculpture by Adrian Wall.
20140912_102958

But the first thing you see besides the building is The Ancient Ones, a breathtaking statue by Edward J. Fraughton. My picture here doesn’t do it justice, the light was not in my favor. It depicts a scene out of everyday life for these people. A man climbing a cliff face with nothing but small hand and footholds carved out of the rock to hold on to with firewood on his back.
20140912_102903

Here’s a closer peek.
20140912_102903 (2)

The next thing we did was plan our visit with info and maps provided by the visitors center. We already knew we were not going to see the Cliff Palace and we wanted to do our own, self-guided tour which left us one clear choice that would take us to Spruce Tree House and Mesa Top Loop Road.

Spruce Tree House is one of the few cliff dwellings you can visit without a guide. To get there you must descend to the valley floor via a half mile of switchback trail (you’re going to climb back up this trail to get out so make sure you are physically ready to do it in the heat and sun) then cross the valley floor and take a short path up to the cave. There are also petroglyphs to see here if you have time to take the two mile, round-trip hike to see them.
20140912_121659

The dwellings reach deep into the cave making use of every nook and cranny.

20140912_123512

Corn grinding stones
20140912_123531

More of Spruce Tree House
20140912_123203 Open Kiva. Kiva’s were underground structures with wooden roofs believed to be used for spiritual and community gatherings. Normally all you would see from these angles would be a small, square hole with a ladder sticking out of it.20140912_123240

20140912_123351

Looking down at Spruce Tree House as we finished climbing back up out of the valley. You can see a couple of the switchbacks here.
20140912_125602

Once we were done gawking at Spruce Tree House, it was time to take on the next leg of our Mesa Verde Adventure, which was actually several rolled into one.

Mesa Top Loop Road is a six-mile driving tour with twelve sites along the way. Some are seen from a distance such as Cliff Palace, the largest dwelling in the park which can be seen from Sun Point and Sun Temple stops.
20140912_134902

20140912_134430

Others sites, can be visited during the drive on top of the mesa including an old, man-made reservoir and surface dwellings like these.

20140912_142939

20140912_162503

There’s a lot more to see on this drive. Including, a 365 degree view from South Point View (also where the fire watchtower is located).

Speaking of fires…don’t be discouraged by some of the views that you’ll see on the Mesa Top Road Drive. You’re going to see some real fire devastation, but at the same time, your going to see tremendous renewal. The fires exposed a lot of new archaeological sites and more opportunities to learn about the Anasazi people.
20140912_120330

Between 1934 and 2003, the Mesa Verde Park has experienced 12 major wildfires, all determined to have been started by lightning. Since 2000 alone over 24,000 acres have been scorched. But then you will also come across breathtaking views like this…
20140912_132204

and this…20140912_154137

and this…a short hike to South Point lookout, and 365 degrees as far as the eye can see, haze allowing…
20140912_152017

20140912_152128I feel so blessed to be able to travel and see the wonders and history of stuff like this and to have a smartphone with decent camera to record it! Now for some practical stuff.

20140912_125059

When I said to make sure you are physically ready to hike in Mesa Verde National Park I meant it. I saw at least one ranger have to go down the switchback path at the Spruce Tree House with oxygen and a portable defibrillator. Elevations range from 6,000ft to over 8,500ft. The guided tours require guides for a reason. Access to the Cliff Palace includes climbing down a long, narrow ladder in a sandstone crevice near the edge of the cliff. Don’t push it. Stop and take a break if you need to. Pace yourself. That means go at your OWN pace. The path to Spruce Tree House has benches and rocks to sit on along the way. There is poison ivy on this trail and it is marked. You are forewarned.

Bring plenty of water with you. We were there just two weeks ago and although the weather was mild (in the 80 degree range), the sun still gets hot in a hurry and there is not much opportunity for shade. Although some signs and websites say water is available at every stop on Mesa Top Road, it is not. Don’t take the chance. Bring your sunscreen!

Finally, if you really want to explore the wonders of Mesa Verde National Park. I would recommend making a long weekend out of it. We only saw a small fraction of what the park has to offer. There is a resort area and plenty of camp sites as well. Stay a couple of days and take some time to explore. There is also a restaurant at Far View Area. Nothing fancy. but there’s food, drink, and a gift shop. The park fee is $5 or $10 depending on what time of year it is. The guided tours are $4 unless you opt for the twilight tour and that’s $12. Make sure you get a map and a visitors guide and read them. Make sure you don’t miss and cool or important stuff!

The last leg of our journey saw us leaving our lodgings at the Ute Mountain Casino and Hotel a day early. We traveled to Pagosa Springs and stayed the night there in a really reasonable, tiny, family owned hotel by the highway called the Alpine Inn that I found on tripadvisor.com. We visited a couple of the local pubs, took a gander at the hot springs pools at The Springs hot springs and made a mental note to come back just to go there. We had dinner at the second best and more reasonably priced restaurant in town, Boss Hog’s Restaurant and Saloon. The people were very friendly and the food was decent.
20140913_174351-1

Our route home took us over Wolf Creek Pass and through the San Luis Valley, down the Cosmic Highway (Highway 17). Note to self, RV camping at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and/or at the UFO Watchtower should be in my future. I could see how the great, wide open, and sparsely populated San Luis valley could seem like a nice place to land your space craft.

The western side of Wolf Creek Pass started out beautiful beginning with Treasure Falls, about 15 miles east of Pagosa Springs. The falls are named after Treasure Mountain, which legend says, holds the secret treasure of some Frenchmen that snuck into the area and struck it rich.

It was a cool morning so the mists hung over ponds along the way and the air around the falls was crisp and heavy with the smell of deep pine forest. You can do a side trip here and take the trail to the top of the falls for about at 300ft climb. Set aside about 45 minutes if you want to make the 1/2-mile round trip.
20140914_074837

As we made our way further up the pass things began to get strange, then downright eerie, then just sad. Here in Colorado we’ve been battling the pine beetle for some time now. On the front range we have seen some issues, but nothing prepared me for the absolute devastation of so many old pines over such a large area. In this case, it was the spruce beetle. Tens of thousands of acres in the San Juan forest, including Wolf Creek Pass have died leaving vast swaths of dead trees interspersed with other species not affected by this particular beetle. This is a wildfire just waiting for lightning.
20140914_075914

20140914_080025

The eastern side of the pass was a little better and dropped us into the San Luis Valley. From Alomosa, we found ourselves on Highway 17, The Cosmic Highway with one more mountain range, the beautiful Sangre de Cristos, to cross to get home.
20140914_102001

If you look closely, that barely discernable, hazy line of demarcation at the foot of the mountains is the Great Sand Dunes. A desert of sand dunes, in the middle of the Colorado Mountains with Medano Creek flowing through them. Again, you can’t make this stuff up.
20140914_094741

With the Sangre de Cristo mountains behind us, we started the last 45 miles of our trip, heading into Canon City, then north back to Colorado Springs.
20140914_111012-1-1-1

Back at home after a full week on the road I was glad to be back in my own bed with my own pillow (big satisfied sigh). We also missed a cold snap in the Colorado Springs area that apparently had brought a dusting of snow to some parts of the area. Temperatures were back inthe 70s and 80s by the time we got back. Oh shucky darn.

I love trips like this where I get see so much. Sometimes it can feel a little bit like sensory overload, with so much to see, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love to travel and see new things and share them with others who may share the same passion. Happy travels everyone! Be safe!

 

Road Trip Photo Essay: Colorado Springs, CO to Points West…and South

Last week the hubby and I took a road trip to the four corners. Apparently he thought this was an important place to see. Having been there, I informed him that there was absolutely nothing to see there but a concrete monument. Still, he insisted that this was a must see on his bucket list so I booked us a room and off we went. I don’t know if you’ve seen what absolute desolation looks like, dear reader, so let me show you.

This is the most exciting part of the four corners monument. Incidentally, this is apparently no longer considered the actual location of the four corners. According to Conde Nast Traveler, the GPS location of the four corners is 1,807ft to the west. Traditionalists argue that the current location is where the original borders were set and therefore, the four corners are exactly where they are supposed to be. You decide. I’m getting out of the heat.20140911_124858-1

Here’s what it looks like outside the monument…for miles…and miles….and miles.
four corners desertThe moon landing could have easily been faked and filmed here instead.

However, the road trip from Colorado Springs, CO to Towoac was wonderful! Towoac is a small town just outside of Cortez, CO located on the Ute Indian reservation. We stayed at the Casino/Hotel on the reservation. If you’re interested in the area you can see some reviews I did on tripadviser.com here Ute Mountain Casino and Hotel.

Changing colors and really green mountains were a beautiful site after the last 10 years of drought we’ve had in Colorado.
20140910_140650

We got a great view of the Collegiate Peaks as we bypassed Buena Vista. That would be Mt. Yale, Mt. Harvard, and Mt. Princeton. No joke, you can’t make this stuff up. All are fourteeners, meaning they are 14,000ft or more high.
20140910_131305

Oh, and we ran into this guy…
20140910_165438-1

From there we traveled through lush mountain forests and over Red Mountain pass where evidence of the mining booms still stand. We went through Silverton, elevation 9,308ft, and Ouray, elevation 7,792ft.
20140910_181723

20140910_182053

Ouray, CO.20140910_175605 20140910_175906

20140910_191406

The other objective of this trip was Mesa Verde National Park. We also spent a night in Pagosa Springs and had a somewhat sobering trip through Wolf Creek Pass, but I’m going to save that for the other half of this long photo essay. Until then, please enjoy some more photos of our great Rocky Mountains!

The Chalk Cliffs, Buena Vista, CO.
20140910_134305

20140910_185840

20140910_131240

Curecanti National Recreational Area near Gunnison, CO. The water level is a great sign of some recovery from drought.20140910_161146

Another good sign, streams and waterfalls to be seen around almost every bend in the road!20140910_180506

To be continued…

1st Time NaNoWriMo Observations: Pansters vs. Planners

So like a good little NaNoWriPar (National Novel Writing Month Participant) I’ve been following my local activity threads on the NaNoWriMo website. The first thing I notice is that there are few first-time participants like myself and these seem to me much younger than me. Oh well. C’est la vie. I didn’t get into this to hang out with any particular crowd. Our Municipal Liason (ML) is the owner of a local book store in her tenth year of doing NaNoWriMo. In an event where it seems that one is considered a winner simply by finishing, this seems to be big deal. And believe me, finishing, is no easy feat. We are talking 50,000 words in 30 days (November 1 – 30). Around 300,000 writers will participate and about 10% will actually finish. Pray for me people. Pray really, really hard!

An interesting dichotomy has garnered more of my attention as of late that is basic to writing and yet nonetheless fascinating. It is the division of the “pansters” and the “planners” otherwise known as “plotters” (suddenly I’m hearing the battle of the pugs and the poms from the musical Cats in my head). It’s not a new concept and much has been written on the subject. Basically, some writers write by the seat of their pants, throwing everything out there and seeing what ends up sticking during the rewrites, yes plural, meaning several. Obviously if you throw so much spaghetti at the ceiling, you’re going to have to clean it up. Others, opt for a more organized approach, these are the planners. Planners write outlines, make meticulous character development charts, create complicated story trees, map plot points, and basically leave as little to chance as possible. There are pros and cons to both approaches making neither one necessarily right or wrong except in the eye of the person doing the actual writing.

Pansters experience the divine art of creation through sheer imagination. A panster doesn’t think about where the story is going, how many scenes it’s going to take to develop each chapter, whether or not he is hitting plot points at the right time or if the character that just appeared out of nowhere is actually necessary to the story or what kind of ice cream she likes. Pantsters just write. In fact, the less thinking there is, the better. This allows for a purer channel for the story to come through and pantsters live on a kind of faith that their characters will come through and introduce themselves in all their idiosyncratic glory when the time is right. Of course this means tons of work on the tail end in the form of re-writes, but allows for a free and flexible flow of creativity. Sometimes pantsters don’t even know how a book is going to end until they are quite a ways into it. Hence the pantster runs a high risk of getting hopelessly lost in the big, scary forest of a story of her very own making <shiver>.

Planners/Plotters on the other hand, plan as much as possible on the front end of a project. They are the ones busy making outlines, developing story trees, mind-mapping and using any number of other ingenious organizational tools to map out a book long before any actual writing begins. By the time a good planner is finished with her planning, why, the book has nearly written itself. Unfortunately, writing this way doesn’t leave a lot of room for creative flexibility and when new material shows up that doesn’t fit into the paradigm of the world already built, it often must be scrapped or tabled for use somewhere else rather than be explored. However, Planners usually have little to do once the first draft is written as they’ve already planned out the entire thing and know how everything is going to turn out.

Who are these pantsters and plotters? Well, I’m about to drop some heavy duty, maybe even surprising names on you here:

Pantsters

Stephen King –

Preeminent “King” of horror, notorious pantster

Ray Bradbury –

Science fiction writer extraordinaire, pantster

Kim Olgren –

NaNoWriMo participant, multi-genre writer and blogger, pantster (okay, maybe not that big of a name…yet)

Planners

Charles Dickens –

Master Storyteller, planner

Edgar Allen Poe –

Yes, really, despite spending most of his time in one intoxicated state or another, planner

J.K. Rowling –

as with many fantasy writers, planner

Most writers fall somewhere in between the two. pantsters might use some plot points or a loose outline and many planners are not nearly as structured and rigid as the tools of the trade may indicate. However, I’m learning that many pantsters and planners are quite passionate about their particular approach to writing.

If you are a writer, which method do you prefer? Are you a pantster, riding the wave of the story and seeing it through to the end? Or are you a planner/plotter, putting things together with an end already in mind? Why does your particular method work so well for you?

Demons, and Heros, and NaNoWriMo…Oh MY!

Not so long ago I was in the midst of finding a new job and trying to solve some nasty medical issues while my daughter and two precious grandkids moved into our house doubling the headcount overnight. Fast forward five months and now I’m feeling healthier than I have in a long time, all the “kids” are still here, I found a full time job, and I’ve joined NaNoWriMo. What? Nanowhomo? Nanowhatnow? I know, I’m beginning to see it too, I may just be a glutton for punishment. Before all this I spent four years working full time while going to school full time to earn a degree that has recently become absolutely meaningless to me (no, I will not discuss the financial implications of this).

I have always been a somewhat introspective person and it only took one simple question to turn my whole psyche, not to mention my world, upside down. I hate it when that happens! So now that you’re dying to know how one little question turned a grounded, down-to-earth, professional, level-headed, practical gal into a mental, gelatinous pile of goo I’ll tell you what the seemingly innocuous inquiry was.

“What if there is no retirement?”

That’s it. Six simple words, “What if there is no retirement?” Did I freak out because our 401k is nonexistent after stints of unemployment for both me and my hubby? No. Did I lose it because I had just realized there will likely be no Social Security when I reach “retirement” age? Nope. It was much more horrifying that that. Something went off in my soul. My heart felt stifled, I couldn’t breathe for a moment, and for once, my ego had absolutely nothing to say. In that moment of pure clarity and suspended time I realized something big. No, something HUGE. Suddenly and large part of my life lost all meaning entirely, which left an opening for a true and passionate calling. No matter how terrified I was, there it was, plain as the nose on my face.

I couldn’t keep doing what I’ve been doing only to get what I’ve been getting and I certainly didn’t want to live… be…die…”retire” living the life I was living. Suddenly Peter Gibbons voice is in my head from the movie Office Space and I’m thinking every day I have to go into the office is the worst day of my life. Guess what? It is, and there’s nothing I can do about that right now. However, I can’t undo what I’ve seen and it’s funny how being really sick forces you to take a look at your life and figure out what your real priorities are.

Enter NaNoWriMo.org. Before this major epiphany I had resigned myself to being “okay” with the slow and constant drudgery that is my life with maybe an occasional vacation, but now that I know what I know, it has become slow torture leading to certain death. Think I’m overdramatizing? Show me someone who has heard his or her true calling and I’ll show you someone who would wither and die on any other path. I had begun writing a novel several months ago but it has been slow going as I learn a new job and juggle a house full of six people while trying to find the time to write.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is put on by The Office of Letters and Light. You can go to the website NaNoWriMo.org for more information. What NaNoWriMo participants do is write the rough draft of a novel, all 50,000 words, in one month from November 1 to November 30. Gah! Yep. This writer is going to attempt a 50k novel in 30 days working full time with six people in the house! Go me! This is my first time at NaNoWriMo, so I’m doubly nervous and excited. If you are a writer and have always wanted to write a novel but procrastination, fear, or whatever other excuse you’ve made has stopped you, maybe you’ll want to check NaNoWriMo out to get your feet wet.

Once I realized that every day was going to be the worst day of my life until I could get out of the cycle of going to a j-o-b every day I had to move. I had to set things in motion to be and do more, to create a life with more meaning and to give meaning to what I do day in and day out.

All that said, I am ever so grateful to my employer for giving me the means to pay the bills and I work for some wonderful people who will still be wonderful without me pushing papers around for them once I’m ready to become free. Even the caterpillar has to take it on faith that it will become a butterfly because it basically becomes caterpillar soup in that chrysalis before a beautiful butterfly is formed and bursts from it. I am stepping out in faith that out of the soupiness of what’s gone before, I’m changing into something different, something beautiful and someone who can offer the world a little something more. The demons of the past will meet the heroes of the future on the field at NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned.

How about you? What was your epiphany? Your wake-up call? Are you still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up? I felt that way for a long time. How did you know when the defining moment had arrived?

The Return of the Bounty of Good (or even moderate) Health

As some of you may recall (if you’re still interested) I ran into some issues and put my blog in hiatus for a few months while I took care of…well…me. Some health issues had landed me in the hospital and subsequent surgery was required to fix me up. All this caused havoc with my existing diabetic condition, which has landed me dependent on insulin at this point.

Yet all that having been said, I have to add, Oh my GOD do I feel so much better! Physically I think I may have just gone backwards ten years! I have some catching up to do as far as being in shape, but I guess that’s the subtle difference. I may not be in as good of shape as I’d like to be, but I’m healthier than I’ve been in some time and that gives me the energy and endurance to get in even better shape. This is a key that cost me dearly.

Continuing to push along as things get harder and harder and you get more and more tired is a sign that something more is going on. Physically or mentally, there’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself, but the challenge should energize you, not feel like it’s destroying you. There are times when “suck it up and drive on” just doesn’t apply. Who knew???

What’s more, when a major life event knocks you on your arse, I’ve found that it’s valuable to look into why that might be. I’m not talking about physical cause and effect, I’m talking about much deeper correlations. Spiritual correlations. Even now we are learning that when we get sick, it’s not just our body that is sick, something in our spirit, or our soul is out of balance or sick too. Could sickness be the higher self or Spirit trying to get our attention? Could it be trying to slow us down and make us take a look at where we might be in our lives as opposed to where we truly want to or should be? I believe, at the very least, that it offers an opportunity for some introspective stock-taking. Perhaps if I would have been paying better attention, life wouldn’t have had to konk me over the head to tell me that something was amiss.

Nevertheless I am so glad to be back and so happy to be writing again. Have you experienced an event that changed your life or made to stop and truly take stock in your life? Have you experienced a setback only to find that it was one of the best things that ever happened to you? Did you change your priorities because you were somehow forced to be still for a while? I’d love to hear your thoughts.