Posted in My Own Personal Weirdness, Writing

Day Five of Nanowrimo

Despite my lack of planning on my official nano piece, things are going well. Since I am using Lady Air Pirates (the new story) to bribe myself to work on Caro’s Quest (the older story I am supposed to be finishing this month) I am, in effect, doing a double nanowrimo this month.

The whole Lady Air Pirate story started with a dream I had that was a mash up of several things I’d been reading or watching at the time, like three months ago or longer. It stayed with me all that time and my brain has been amusing itself with what if’s along the way, but I told myself I needed to finish Caro’s Quest first. Then I completely burnt myself out on that when my critique group went from twice a month to once a week and we got some new members that just did not get the fantasy genre. It became such a slog. So my brain kept telling me these silly little side stories that were not going to work in Caro’s Quest. I thought I might shove them into The Dreaming for a while as well, since I have some pseudo pirates in there. I had zero time to work on that, though, with the increased critique group load. This lady air pirate was not willing to be squashed down into a side character in a novel not her own, in any case. No, not her.

So when it came time to declare my nano novel, she just took over and told me she was not going away. I’d have to find time to write her, too. That was the day before nano started.

Day One hit and Lady Air Pirate went into hiding. In her place, the little girl at the bottom of the gazebo came forward. She knew she was going on an adventure with the Lady Air Pirate from the moment she saw her hanging there in the air, but first she wanted to tell what she was escaping. So day one became about that.

Day Two was more of Melanda’s story. Her mom Joan was actually about to win an award for once and she was not going to let Melanda’s wild ways ruin her day.

I made a rough outline of my story on Day Three. I dumped all those plot points into Scrivener, a sentence or two per section really adds up the word count. I also got some character sketches done that day, in between a visit from a friend’s family.

Yesterday was Kerani’s day. She’s the Lady Air Pirate. I got to hear how she ended up doing the super risky thing she was about to do, how it was supposed to save everything for her crew that had just had an upheaval, and how it was actually going to be an unmitigated backstabbery disaster. Then to add insult to injury, there was this kid they accidentally abducted. Yeah. I wrote nearly 3,000 words on Caro’s Quest yesterday morning as well, doing word sprints at mywriteclub.com with my friend Elizabeth. I also got nearly caught up on my Vein of Gold classwork in the afternoon. It was a fantastic day.

Today I need to up my count for the Lady Air Pirates piece. My brain got stuck on this picture of Amy Pond as a pirate while I was researching the other day, so she may in some form or fashion appear in my story as well. Not sure how. It may just be her hair, who knows.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week. How’s everyone else’s week going?

Posted in Computers and Internet, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Writing

NaNoWriMo 2020

Another year, another NaNoWriMo. I prepped all October to finish up the rewrite for last year’s Nano novel (Caro’s Quest) but then there’s been this other story this last week (Lady Air Pirates steampunk thing) that I cannot get out of my head, so I changed courses this morning and started on that instead. I’m in a mood, what can I say?

I’ve written 1711 words so far on the weird steampunk thing. It’s really weird, man. I had to stop for lunch (frozen cheese pizza for the third time this week – Greg’s trying to get it out of his system before he goes back to in person school tomorrow), but I feel like there’s more story in me and I’ve already done all the other personal life stuff I needed to today, so I think I’m going to write some more while my brain is still good.

I am still working on Caro’s Quest, though. I have thirty days of re-writes planned out, so I’ll do those and use this new story as a bargaining chip. As in, “do your rewrites, Lisa, and then you can write the crazy lady air pirate story after.”

I’ve made myself a crazy excel spreadsheet of all my projects and am going to track and see how many words I write a month overall. (A kid came through just now and wanted to know how many projects that is and I’ve counted four fantasy novels, one mystery, one memoir, all the short fiction I do during my writing group times, and this blog.) I’ve been curious about what that number would like for a while now. Maybe I’ll share that with y’all later. 🙂

What are y’all working on this month? Doesn’t have to be writing. What’s your passion project? Tell me about it in the comments.

Posted in Friend Time, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

UU Discussion Group, first session

Our spiritual practices group has segued into a discussion group now. We’ll each be leading a session of our own topic choosing. We had our first session tonight and it went really well. Here’s the quote we discussed:

“It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the test results and they’re not so good. Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.” Anna Quindlen, b. 1953

The two questions our leader this week proposed were: (1) How are we doing at “crafting our spirits” – what does that even mean? (2) How can we be better friends to one another so that we are not “cardboard cutouts?”

Honestly, I didn’t have a really good answer for that first one when we got started. By the end of the discussion, I realized that all this was part of crafting my spirit – the spiritual practices class, the Vein of Gold class, learning the tarot card stuff for my Preptober with Tarot class, just learning about writing well-rounded characters in general can be enriching to the spirit because it makes you think so much more about your own character and what makes you you.

As for the second part, it was something I was already thinking about. Two of my friends that used to be really close are having a tough time communicating lately, and I have become something of a go between while they each work through it on their own. It is an interesting enterprise. One friend I have known for years, so we communicate on a deeper level than I do with the other friend, who I’ve only known a year. They are both people that are hard-working and dependable. They each strive to help their community so much. I’ve tried to be a listening board for both of them, but that looks and feels different depending on which person I am communicating with. There isn’t a “cookie cutter” quality to these friendships, despite that we are all in the same organization doing volunteer work. Each person I have a different relationship with. It is good.

In any case, those are my thoughts for the subject. What about you? Do you have different answers to those questions?

Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

Sacred Space

Here’s something I wrote for my Spiritual Practices class this week:

When my kids were small, we used to have a little altar set up in the front hallway. We put pretty leaves, feathers, flowers, and rocks there that had caught our fancy during walks. As the seasons progressed, so did our altar. Green leaves gave way to yellow, flowers gave way to acorns and whirligig seed pods, but rocks were always a part of the mix. 

Once the last child started in all day school, those daily walks came to an end. The altar lay stagnant. Eventually it became a dumping ground for all manner of school related detritus.

This new altar sits in an awkward space between the living room and the back hall.  When I was first putting this together, I despaired of finding anything spiritual to put onto this shelf. Everything in my house spoke to fairy tales: dragons, unicorns, fairies, and trolls. But then I started thinking of that other, older tradition we once had. So this altar is a bit of a combination space.
First I covered the four elements: rocks for earth, candles for fire, hummingbird and clarinet for air, and fountain for water. Four of the five senses are also there: perfume bottle and candles for scent, all the pretties for sight, rocks and beaded textures for touch, and clarinet and bird for sound.  Plus a little mandarin orange for taste.

Home is the center. Also shown: Some favorite quotes, a cross stitch with our family motto, a painting that makes my mind wander to spiritual thoughts by a friend whose art fills my home, a wooden box from my favorite store in my hometown that is filled with at least a petal from every flower arrangement I received from 1998 til about 2015, a spooky old tree that is reading (and also is an incense burner) the footsteps poem from where my spiritual journey first started, a rock from the lake by my parents’ hometown, other rocks and shells from so many places our travels have taken us, a geode that reminds me that even the hardest rock can be changed by a tiny stream of water, the hummingbird from my best friends “second chance” adventure, a fantasy map where the treasure is in a book (naturally), the clarinet because music has been a part of my life for so long, a green polished stone engraved with the word “Balance” and candles, always candles. 

So there I am, me and some of my beliefs all in one little shelf.

Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness

Spiritual Practices: Pilgrimage

Photo by Bishal Sapkota on Pexels.com

For our last UU Spiritual Practices class, we talked about Pilgrimages. Pilgrimages are associated with many religions. Christians visit places associated with Christ’s earthly life. Their motives for pilgrimages usually include penance, thanksgiving, and a desire to obtain supernatural help.

Things that are involved in a UU pilgrimage: transformation, devotion, reflection, a deeper understanding of the sacred and of yourself.

Several people talked about the kind of pilgrimages they’ve already taken or would want to take. Places like a UU trip to Boston or to the first UU Church in Transylvania or to the bridge in Selma. They talked about social justice trips, as well.

I personally, don’t have any thoughts on where I’d go on a spiritual pilgrimage. The idea is fairly new to me, as I grew up with a religion that rejected them as a concept. In my head, it’s something you’d read about in medieval literature, not something that is done in modern times. I guess it’s something I need to think more about.

Growing up, we went on several non-spiritual pilgrimages. The first one I remember, and possibly the most meaningful to me in the long run, was when we visited the Bronte Parsonage. I was, at seven, too young to have read the Bronte’s well, but my mother loved their books, so we went to see the Parsonage. She got me some edited versions (for first time English readers) and had me read them and we watched the movies before we went. It started a lifelong love affair for me with classic English literature, which eventually lead me to a degree in English and life as a writer.

Where would you go on a spiritual pilgrimage?

Posted in Crafts, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness

Spice of Life Crochet

I came to this realization the other day that I am a much more happy, productive Lisa when I am crafting. I really enjoyed doing those dolls, using my hands for more than just typing. When I craft, the back of my brain can work on writing thoughts while my hands do something else for a while.

So I decided to do a fall themed crocheted blanket. But I didn’t have any patterns for that, so I looked through what patterns I did own and found this one. Which looks like a lot of fun! It’s a striped sampler, basically, and has some things in it I have never attempted before.

Then I went to try to recreate the colors she used in the original, but more fall-like. That’s when I discovered I didn’t really actually have any fall themed colors on hand. So I changed a few of her colors to things a bit more muted without being oranges and rusts. Here’s what I’ve ended up with. 🙂

We shall see how it goes. 🙂 I think I’ll just crochet all weekend and ignore the weird things going on behind the scenes.

Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness

Spiritual Practices: Retreats

Photo by Kate Trifo on Pexels.com

This week in Spiritual Practices class, we discussed retreats. What is a retreat for your spirit? It’s a time apart to reflect, pray, and meditate, usually somewhere around three to four days in length (but it can be as short as a day). It can be done as a solitary thing or as a group. It is usually time set aside to ask the Big Questions (such as “Who am I?” or “What is worthy of my life?”).

We were given a couple sample retreat schedules and asked to ponder over how we would do a spiritual retreat for ourselves. It was an interesting group activity to think about — the younger mom’s of the group all wanted to go on retreat by themselves, while the single people all wanted group retreats.

For me, I’d need to do it on a weekend that was not already filled with other activities, probably at a hotel or something. My intention would be meditation, personal writing, and art.

My day would probably rotate around those things in 30-60 minute time slots, depending on what I was doing. Thirty minutes for meditation times, but longer for walks, art, and writing, and a few rest periods where I could read or nap.

What would your spiritual retreat look like?

Posted in Crafts, My Own Personal Weirdness, Writing

VoG: Creativity Doll and Inner Editor Monster Doll

Today (or whichever day I am currently on that may or may not be the right day – it’s hard to keep track with the group calendar changing) we were supposed to make two different kinds of dolls: one a Creativity Doll and one an Inner Editor Monster Doll.

I have a lot of random craft supplies at my house because, as you all probably already know, I am a craft dabbler. So I dug out a bunch of stuff, traced an outline on some beige fabric, pulled out my mom’s old sewing machine, and I went to work. I’d made a doll once in the distant past, around third grade for the one room schoolhouse experience. And when I say “I’d made” I really mean that my mom made it while I stood by and handed her things, as was the way of my people.

The doll itself was easy to make, with simple lines and a quarter inch edge all the way around. Using my mom’s sewing machine is second nature, unlike the one that I’ve had for the last decade or so that never made sense to me (which I shipped off to a friend the moment I got my mom’s in my hot little hands). I did have a little trouble at first with the thread tension, but a little swearing and rethreading later, I was good to go.

Stuffing proved a little harder because my stuffing tool went missing, but I used a skinny handled jewelry making file instead. Then I decided she needed clothing, so I freehanded a dress pattern while playing games with the boys. Sewed that up, then painted a face, glued on some curly, colorful wool (from needle felting) for hair, and gave her a bit of bling. But something was still missing. Shoes. I had no idea what to use for shoes. But she was just about baby sized, so I hand-sewed her some felt baby booties based off a pattern I’d thought about using for Kay’s twins when they were born, but never got around too. I eyeballed it. They turned out okay.

The Inner Editor Monster Doll is where I went off the rails. I felt like it should just be wackier, I guess. I grabbed an old, much hated bra out of the dresser, cut the straps off, and sewed it into a tube. I really thought I was going to break the sewing machine, but she worked like a dream, sewing through multiple layers and a zipper without any trouble at all. The backside, the secret side I’m not showing you all, is a black and white striped ribbon with all the bad phrases we wrote down during that Golden Words writing experiment several weeks ago, all those not so nice things people, and therefore my Inner Editor, have said to me. After I was done, I didn’t like her staring at me. It made me uncomfortable. Now in this section of the book, Julia Cameron says some people like to burn this creation or destroy it or maim it in some way. Another thing you know about me is that I love setting things on fire. But I just couldn’t somehow. So I came up with option B: a sleep mask. So now my Inner Editor can just take a rest and leave me alone. 🙂

Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

Hospitality and Belonging

This week in Spiritual Practices class we talked about how the Unitarian Universalist faith is a covenantal faith. We are a community that welcomes the strangers because we were all once the stranger.

I grew up Lutheran, for the most part, until I was 15 or so. I don’t remember hearing much about this topic growing up in that church. I do remember experiencing hospitality as a child, though, in the form of many, many people visiting our house over the years, mainly professors and grad students. My parents loved having people over. My dad’s parents were known for their parties and my mother was known for hers. As a child and teen, we were always having people over. As an adult, I’ve struggled a little with this one. When the children were little, my house was always too much of a wreck, though I did host other mom’s weekly for playgroups. My husband is an extrovert and would have had people over every weekend for games and fellowship. With his church, though, it was hard to get people to drive all the way out here (his church is a 40 minute drive from us and his church area expands an hour and a half around outward from the church). Now that the kids are older, we’ve hosted monthly gaming afternoons a have a few other big parties a year.

So what are the qualities of hospitality? At first we think of food, greeting and welcoming people, and listening to others. Hospitality involves an opening of the heart, as well. It’s about cultivating the desire to welcome people and invite them into our lives, a willingness to accept change and accommodate for others.

It’s not one-sided, though, it’s also about letting your community know that you have a need that should be filled. This side of things, I know I am not good at. I never really saw my parents ask for help from others when I was growing up. Helping others, volunteering for others? Yes. Getting help? Not so much. When we moved from Nebraska to Pennsylvania and then on to Texas, we didn’t have people over to help pack. We didn’t ask people to help put furniture on the trucks. As an adult, I still don’t know how to ask others for help when I really need it.

Hospitality is also a social skill. You need to have the ability to know when to reach out and when to leave people to their privacy. Another tough one for me. I watched my mother ask many intrusive questions over the years and I was always so embarrassed. I tend not to be a reacher-outer. I don’t like to bother people. I never thought of this as being the other side of the hospitality coin.

Some questions for reflection:

  1. When have you felt truly welcomed?
  2. When have you felt truly included?
  3. When have you been blessed by hospitality?

Posted in Books, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

Spiritual Practices: Liturgical Library

This week for our Spiritual Practices class, we were encouraged to make a library of spiritual or sacred texts. I wandered the house for hours, picking up books here and there, and piling them all up next to my bed. Nick and I had a long conversation about what we each thought should go in a spiritual library. His definition leaned towards Christianity, naturally, while mine was wider reaching and included not just spiritual practice manuals, but also covering mythology, fairy tales, and books that weren’t necessarily about religion, but changed my views on it. Then I realized that my library also includes things on my kindle and on my hard drive that I do not have physical versions of, so I made myself a little collage of all those books to put alongside my “new” spiritual library. It was an interesting thought experiment, over all. Now I just have to figure out where to put all these books now that I’ve gathered them and people refilled their spots with other books.

What books do you consider Must Haves in your spiritual library aresenal? Please leave me some comments below. I am always looking for more books.