cosmic chaos

cultivating calm & creativity in my corner of the world

Guest Hope Clark talks about #journaling #guestpost

C. Hope Clark is one of my mentors. I have been privileged to attend several of her writing workshops. Her newly released mystery is set in a city near to where I grew up. I can’t wait to read Newberry Sin!

The Opinionated Woman's Musings

This guest post is by C. Hope Clark from www.chopeclark.com

Q&A a Day: Five Years of Finding Yourself

                     When I hear that someone has journaled for years, I instantly admire them. For no other reason than they held themselves to a regimen, I find them incredibly in tune with themselves. They are living life, noting its lessons, and probably improving themselves in the process.

Presidents do it. Many authors do it, which makes me feel guilty since I’m an eight-book published mystery author, with a couple of nonfiction books thrown in for good measure. I’ve been writing for years, yet I could not find the discipline to write at the end of the day when I’m spent, probably having already written a couple thousand words for some story or feature.

Yet I’ve beat into my sons’ heads that journaling is a mental vitamin. I like to think…

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A Visit to the Other Side

I recently vacationed at Williamsburg, Virginia.  While there, my husband and I delved into history. 

We visited Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. 

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Recreations of the original ships that carried the first English settlers to Jamestown

 

We walked through Yorktown, the site of Revolutionary and Civil War battles. 

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Redoubt 9, Yorktown

 

We toured Colonial Williamsburg, a recreation and restoration of the 18th century city where you can see people re-enacting daily life of citizens, tradesmen and government officials. 

 

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The Governor’s Palace, Colonial Williamsburg

Williamsburg Kitchen

Kitchen Workers, Colonial Williamsburg

 

I also got the chance to do something I have wanted to do for quite a while; we did a ghost walk.

You would think that someone who regularly writes about paranormal themes would have been on a few ghost walk tours.  But it seems like time, money and opportunity never coincided until now.

I have to admit that although I love stories of the supernatural, I am somewhat of a skeptic.  I had already been to most of the places that were on the ghost walk and had not felt anything eerie or abnormal.

Night does add an element of mystery.  Our guide did a great job of weaving stories with purposefully pauses and sudden revelations.  He invited us to take pictures of all the sites on the tour, just in case a stray spirit was in the wings. 

The College of William and Mary was quiet during the tour …

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as was the Wythe House.

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Burton Parish Church did have a creepy monument outside.

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We were told the Randolph House was the most active of the hauntings and were warned not to get to close because those who did could feel themselves being pushed back.

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Enlarged photo of upper window at Randolph House

 

The only thing in the photos we took during the ghost tour that we could not identify or explain were some streaks in photos of the Randolph House.

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So did we have a ghostly encounter?  I don’t think so.  But we did learned some colorful  stories of people who lived and died long, long ago. And I am looking forward to more ghost walks. 

 

Redefining Chaos

Chaos.

For years, I defined chaos as trying to deal with the hectic demands of work, family life, commitments and creative endeavors.

This week, I have encountered a whole different type of chaos — home repair.

There have been items in our house that have needed attention for a long time.  We finally got to the point where we could no longer ignore the problems with our floor.  Walking to the back porch became an exercise in balance as we avoided the dips and the increasing give in response to our weight.  Our utility room suffered water damage due to past overflows from the washing machine and a pinprick drip from the water heater.

In preparation for the repairs, we emptied the utility room and two-thirds of the study.  The result?  Stuff piled up in every other room in the house.  Items out of place that keep me from being able to do anything in those rooms because it would be totally futile.  Everything will have to be moved again when the repairs are done.  Everything will have to be cleaned again because the repairs are stirring up dust and debris.  So I am leaving all the rooms alone for now as I scoot past the piles and feel closed in by our possessions.

There are work trucks parked in my driveway.  Workers are in and out of my house.  I thought perhaps this would be a time I could write since I can’t do much else.  But there is constant noise — hammering, sawing, ripping out old wood, nailing.  Then there is the unexpected. After all, in an old house you can never really be sure of the extent of the repairs until you open things up.  I need to be available for input but I don’t want to be in the way.  So I am shutting myself off in the den — hiding out, really — binge watching episodes of Father Brown  on Netflix and cringing with each loud barrage of sawing, hammering and loud booms.

It is nerve wracking.

It is also temporary.

I have an end date.  Perhaps today.  Perhaps tomorrow.  But it will end.

I will have a renovated  utility room with new linoleum, freshly painted walls, and plumbing that does not leak.  I will have a floor that is strong and bears the weight of the family without a problem.  The final results will be well worth these few days of stress.

How many times do we get lost in the current chaos in our lives, feeling overwhelmed by the demands that swirl around us? With a special project like home repair, it is easy to see to the end.  But in everyday life, the chaotic nature of everyday demands seem infinite.  The truth is, these too are temporary.  Children grow up and become self sufficient.  Job duties (or maybe even employment itself) change.  Family responsibility shifts.  We learn how to say “no”.  We find ourselves in a new normal.  The things that so stressed us may even become inspirations to drive our creativity to new directions.

My challenge for you:  look at the thing that is currently creating chaos in your life.  Is this something that will come to an end?  Can you use this to ultimately come to a positive outcome?

 

 

 

No Words

I have been silent lately.

My words have left me.

Usually, this time of year sparks hope and excitement and eager anticipation for all the beginnings a new year brings.

Not this time.  At least, not now.

2017 was a difficult year.  At the end of 2016, I learned that a close relative had dementia.  It was a confirmation of our fear.  2017 was a year of grieving.  First, there was the loss of the future we had envisioned.  Then mental function slipped away.  A few months later, physical function began to deteriorate.  In October, there was death.

I stumbled through the holidays.  This year was more about going through the motions than experiencing the joy.  I held tight to the decorations,the music, the spirit of Christmas hoping that it would ignite something inside me.  It didn’t.  Instead, I was haunted by the memories.  The ghosts of days past can be difficult companions when loss is so recent.

Stories and poems still swirl within me but I have not felt like writing.  My experiences over the last 18 months call out to be crafted into a written account.  There is enough there for essays, short stories, a novel.  I am not ready to put any of it down on paper yet.  Maybe in time. Maybe when my ghosts bring more smiles than tears during their visits.

In the meantime, I am taking a small break.

2017 was an end.  I needed a hard stop — a clean break — from some of the things that have kept me stuck.

2018 is a year of redefining.  Of discovering who I want to be.  Of reclaiming my words.

 

 

 

 

 

Just Piddling

Labor Day Weekend – a time to take a breath, take a break and relax.

These days, I cherish a day off to be at home.  It seems like there is always running around to do  — things that just have to be done.  I have so many projects that I have started laying around my house.  Paintings that I have started.  Stories that are in the beginning stage.  Items for home improvements that are lying around my house.

It is so easy to get caught up in “have to” “should” “need to” that we just end up doing those things we feel obligated to do.  Other times, we focus on our failures and convince ourselves there is no point in trying.

That is why I like days like to day.  Days I can just piddle — doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, not being in any hurry, not having any direction or deadlines.

Today, I accomplished more than a week of strict schedules and set deadlines.  All by just piddling.

 

 

The Jack-O-Lantern pallet I completed today.

 

Weekend Project

It was supposed to be a weekend project.  It was supposed to have been finished about two months ago.

My son brought me a few pallets that I wanted to decorate for yard art.  It should have been a quick turn around.

But life happens.  Family and friends need you. You are tired and veg out for a while.

And that is ok.  One day family and friends will no longer be there to spend time with.  Some days, you have to take care of yourself so you can keep going.

Remember that just because you didn’t complete — or even start — a project when you thought you would, doesn’t mean it is too late.  Take a deep breath and reset your timeline.  Then begin.  Maybe it is a baby step like marking off time on your calendar. Maybe it is getting your supplies.  Maybe it is jumping in and getting it done.

I started my pallet craft on Memorial Day.  I finished today.  It is no longer a blank pallet waiting to become something else someday.  Success!

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Podcast

I was invite to be a guest on the Faith & Tech podcast to talk about my experience publishing with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace. Here are the links:

https://itunes.apple.com/…/one-off-technology-…/id1083085548

http://faithandtech.com/s2-ep4-how-to-publish-a-book-with-amazon-or-not/

 

March Motivation

March has brought some creative opportunities.

Last year I was contacted about the local writers guild providing a series of writing workshops.  After a looonnnngggg planning and preparation period, we presented the first workshop this week. Everything went really well.  It is so satisfying watching a group delve into prompts, transforming experiences into written passages.  I am looking forward to the next class!

Also next week, the local library is hosting an authors fair.  I am excited to be one of the 13 authors participating!  This event has pushed me to create that long overdue bookmark to promote myself.  Promotion is the hardest part of being a writer.  The authors fair is a great combination of promotion and inspiration.

Here’s hoping for a year full of creative opportunities!

 

Snow March 2017

The great South Carolina snow of March 2017!

 

 

A Little Help from Friends

I was happy to welcome 2017 but the truth is that the things that complicated 2016 didn’t just disappear at the strike of midnight on 12/31/16.

Family stress, work stress and various obligations have continued throughout January.  Sometimes, it is easier to just withdraw, shrink into yourself and stay isolated.

My local writers group hosted a writing workshop today and yours truly was the planning coordinator.  I have to admit, I really wanted to bury my head in my covers and just sleep-in this morning.  But the coordinator has to show up.  So I did.

There is something about being in a group of artists, whether literary or visual.  There is an energy that grows and spreads.  As we delved into words, writing exercises and sharing experiences, I found my mood lifting.  I tackled the writing exercises with gusto and enjoyed hearing everyone’s work.  I even started a new poem this evening, something I haven’t done in weeks.

Creativity breeds creativity.  Whether an art/writers guild or an inspirational friend, it is important to make connections that motivate your inner muse.

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 Happy Creating!

 

Welcome 2017!

If my Facebook Newsfeed is any indication, 2016 was a difficult year for many people.  I am no exception.  2016 brought a number of personal and professional challenges that left me feeling drained and depleted.  As you can image, it also took a toll on my creativity.  My writing has screeched to a near standstill with only a handful of poems being completed. Last night I said a very happy  goodbye to 2016.

As I move into this new year, I am resolving to leave the negativity of last year behind.  Life isn’t always easy or fair.  Challenges arise without warning or adequate preparation.  Tragedy can blindside.  When these things happen, it is easy to give in to despair and sorrow.

It is ok to acknowledge the sadness and anger we feel; after all, those are legitimate emotions.  But if we submerge ourselves in only the bad feelings, we risk missing out on the good things that happen everyday.  So I will approach my days with gratitude in 2017, looking for the everyday miracles that make this an amazing world.

 

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Happy New Year!

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