Changing up my New England trips

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites on my New England drives.

When I cross this bridge on my New England road trips I know I’m close to MA.

When I started making frequent trips to New England, the dates I would visit were mostly random and didn’t usually coincide with any particular events. That all changed after I attended my first Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness pow-wow and realized I wanted to attend as many as I could. To that end, I’ve planned my trips around the dates of the MCNAA pow-wows for the past two years and I continued that tradition this spring with the Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow, their first pow-wow of the year. It was after that most recent trip that I realized it was past time to change things up a bit.

As usual for my most recent trip, I drove out on a Wednesday, stayed in a hotel up in Seabrook, NH, stocked up on a few groceries from Market Basket, visited Newburyport and Amesbury and took a day trip into Boston. I’d told the friend I’d known the longest from New England, and who was one of the main reasons for my first trip out that way, that I wanted to see them and they said they wanted to see me too. It had been a year since we saw each other and I thought a brief chat and a hug wasn’t too much to ask.

Unfortunately, when it came down to it my friend made excuses for why they couldn’t see me and we never saw each other. Although I tried to shrug it off at the time, it hurt my feelings and made me realize it was time for a change.

As it turned out, I did get my chat and my hug during that last trip, just not as I’d expected. I gave one of the MCNAA Board members a ride home after helping out Friday before the pow-wow and she and I had a nice chat while navigating the stop-and-go Memorial Day traffic. I received several hugs from familiar friends at the pow-wow and an especially tight one from Harry the Hawk, one of my favorite pow-wow dancers. So despite the hurt caused by someone I had called friend, the universe reminded me that I am a valued friend to others.

In the spirit of change and taking a different path, the main reason for my upcoming New England trip is to volunteer at and attend the MCNAA Summer Moon Pow-wow in Danvers, MA. I won’t be making any trips up to New Hampshire, northern MA or into Boston, not that there’s really time anyway. I will be heading out Thursday evening instead of Wednesday morning because I watch my girls for my ex Thursday and don’t want to miss time with them. Plus, heading out in the evening should help me miss a lot of the usual traffic I encounter in MA.

My hotel is a less than 10-minute drive from the pow-wow location at Endicott Park, which will be a welcome change from having to drive down from Seabrook, NH. I’ve never stayed in Danvers, only visited there for pow-wows so I’ll have to learn a completely new area, but I’m sure it will be good for me. It’s past time I explore more of Massachusetts than just the few specific locations I’ve visited and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of interesting experiences just like always. I’ll probably get all sorts of lost too…just like usual. 😉

Know Your Own Value (re-post)

Time is valuable, don't waste it!

Time is valuable, don’t waste it!

While I do have ideas for a totally new blog entry tonight, I’m too tired to write it just now so I’m calling upon my past self once again for an older blog entry. I vaguely remember writing the one I’m posting tonight and when I re-read it, I realized I should probably commit it to memory. I admit that I don’t always take my own advice, even when I know it’s good and has been proven right. Ridiculous I know, but it’s the truth.

I experienced great success in my writing career today and while that makes me extremely happy, it’s being almost overshadowed with issues in my personal life. I know things can’t always be perfect but I have experienced times when everything is in a nice, positive sync and it feels like smooth sailing. Despite the rough weather I’m currently enduring in a particular friendship, I know that I’ve survived worse and have come out stronger. The same will be true this time too but at the moment, I’m feeling a little seasick 😉

As I take some advice from my past self I hope it helps other people too. I assure you that I do really believe what I wrote…when my heart isn’t fogging up the clarity of my brain.

***

Know Your Own Value (2/21/2013)

Your time is valuable, never forget that. Those aren’t just words to use as an excuse when you don’t want to do something, those are words that should actually mean something. Time is far too fleeting and precious to waste on frivolous endeavors that do not further you on your path. Know and accept that your time is valuable because YOU are valuable. No matter what anyone else in this world might say or think, you are an important commodity and should never be taken for granted. 

If life has repeatedly shown you that something you say or do makes a difference and is appreciated, open your eyes and see that. Do not dismiss praise and recognition as a one-time thing or feel that if you accept your own importance, you’re not being humble any longer. As long as you work hard and earn that positive recognition then it is truly yours and it is not conceited to acknowledge that.  When that pat on the back happens once, smile and enjoy it, and when it happens consistently accept that what you do comes from who you are as a person.  

Take pride in your work and follow your bliss. Everyone has their own perspective so your efforts will not always be seen as beneficial or praise-worthy. Don’t believe that the opinions of the few are the feelings of the majority though. Stop being your own worst critic and start seeing yourself in the positive light others see around you. The sooner you understand that both you and your time are valuable, the sooner you will be on your way to much better things!

The Power of Illumination (or lack thereof)

When nightlight bulbs start burning out all over the house, some people would dismiss it as cheap bulbs or wiring issues, but to someone like me, it was a sign.

Over the past two weeks, the nightlight bulbs in my house have systematically been burning out. First, it was the nightlight in the kitchen, then the one in my daughters’ bedroom, and finally the one in the hallway. As I was out of replacement bulbs and kept forgetting to get more, I lived in relative darkness at night for a week or so. I still had light at night from the fish tank in the girls’ room and the LED flower nightlight in the bathroom, but the rest of the house existed bathed in shadows.

At first, I dismissed it as cheap bulbs but I quickly realized that it was a sign. I believe that there are always spirits around me to guide me on my path and redirect me when I step off the correct trail. I’d temporarily wandered off my positive path with some rather negative thinking and the spirits and my house responded to that energy by making it rather dark in my world. I re-examined my thoughts, corrected my thinking, and sought out the light once more, both metaphorically and literally.

When I went to the store to buy new bulbs I discovered that LED nightlight bulbs exist now. The bulbs seemed like an energy-efficient, more durable, and safer option so I chose them instead of traditional bulbs. The LED nightlight bulbs come in colors like green, blue, and “soft white” and I grabbed a package of each to mix things up a bit around my house. I put the soft white ones (they’re really more bluish than white) in the kitchen and hallway nightlights and a green one in the girls’ nightlight. I chose green for that one because it’s a little resin Pooh Bear house and the green light looked neat shining out from the green tree.

Once I’d replaced all the bulbs, I then did a sage smudge to cleanse my house of any accumulated negative energy. Changing my thinking was the first step toward abolishing the negative energy but I knew it could linger in my home if I didn’t deal with it appropriately. I love the smell of a burning sage stick and I let the aroma and cleansing energies wash over me and restore the light that had become temporarily shadowed within me.

Image courtesy of A Fanciful Twist

Dealing with that whole experience reminded me about the power of illumination and how it feels when it’s not as present as I’d like. Stumbling around in a dark house at night is an inconvenience but easier to fix than being in the dark about other things in my life like friendships. When my cellphone screen doesn’t light up with a text response from a friend as often as it used to and when everything else in their life seems to come before their friendship with me, I feel the shadows of doubt creep in.

Though some might see them as weaknesses, I believe two of my strengths are my open heart and giving nature. I am perhaps a bit naive because the truth that a once valued friendship is no longer as important to the other person doesn’t always dawn on me right away. It’s difficult for me to accept sometimes that other people’s actions aren’t necessarily a reflection on who I am, but on who they are and that they just decided I don’t have a place in their life at this time, or anymore at all.

Yet even the hardest truths to swallow have something to teach me and shed light on realities I’ve tried not to face. I know that while the light has faded or completely gone out on that branch of my path, new paths will open up that are brighter and easier to navigate. I don’t believe that every path has to be easy and I learn a lot from the more difficult journeys, but there comes a point when it’s not worth trying to cut through the thorns when the person on the other side of the path isn’t cutting their way toward me. That path goes dark for a reason and it’s up to me to focus on a different path and those who seek out and appreciate the light I have to offer.

All That Glitters

Simple treasures

Simple treasures

All that glitters doesn’t necessarily glitter. Sometimes it shimmers, sparkles or twinkles. Other times all that glitters is more of a feeling in your heart than anything you can ever see with your eyes or buy in a store. The simplest pleasures and smallest treasures are what glitter and shine the brightest for me. Doing glitter and glue crafts with my daughters, receiving handmade gifts from them and watching them open their Christmas presents are just a few of those treasures.

My girls on Christmas morning

My girls on Christmas morning

The card Jaycie made me and the stuff owl Jordan sewed for me without using a pattern!

The card Jaycie made me and the stuffed owl Jordan sewed for me without using a pattern!

Walking in the falling snow of big, fluffy flakes and seeing some unexpected sights are yet more treasures…

Four swans on the cold lake near where I live

Four swans on the cold lake near where I live

One of the biggest gifts is knowing that even when I’m home alone with Jazz snuggled up next to me on the couch, I’m not really alone. My family and friends are never too awful far and I know that they care about me and are thinking of me this holiday. No wrap can hold that, no bow can decorate that and not even the shiniest, most shimmering faceted jewel can ever compare.

hood up next time

Missing the Point

burning-christmas-candles-1024x640

I thought I needed a few things at and near the mall this afternoon. I was wrong. The mall is already over crowded with swarms of shoppers searching for gifts in a less than warm and fuzzy way.

I loaded my girls in the car as the snow began to fall and we drove through the whipping winds and blowing snow. We managed to find a parking spot as someone else pulled out and in we bustled. Seeing the massive amount of people inside, I decided to scrap my shopping plans and just take the girls to the toy store so they could look around and get Christmas gift ideas. The girls loved that idea!

My best friend was in town on a short visit so she and another friend met us in the store and wandered around with us. She was kind enough to buy my girls the last two Equestria Girls they don’t own and they were over the moon in happiness! They’ve been playing with them from the moment we got home.

When we parted from my friends, we headed back toward where we’d come in and I decided it was time to go home. There were more necessities I wanted to get but I just couldn’t handle the crowds and I wanted to be home with my girls doing fun, relaxing things. So home we went and I started making Chex Mix.

It seems to me that a majority of people these days are missing the point of the holidays. They think the spirit of giving means buying as many gifts as possible and outdoing each other. I will always believe that the intangible gifts are the ones that really matter. Time with family and friends, a roof over my head and all my basic needs satisfied. You can’t wrap my favorite things up in a bow or stuff them in a sparkly box, my favorite things are always safe and warm within my heart.

Jumping from the Height of Luxury

The palace architecture resembled that of King's Chapel in Boston, only magnified 100x!

The palace architecture resembled that of King’s Chapel in Boston, only magnified 100 times!

I had a dream last night that I was in a grand palace. The palace was far too big for my tastes. Grand hallways of polished marble stretched on forever, fine artwork decorated the walls and the furniture was too luxurious and fancy to sit upon. I don’t remember why I was there but I do know Jazzmin was with me and we were both feeling rather lost.

I encountered some former friends while I explored the palace and after talking with them I just wanted out of the place. The friends had moved on with their lives and left me behind but now that they saw me again, they felt the need to brag about how happy they were. How in love they were, how wonderful their lives were, how they had everything they ever wanted. I was wearing jean shorts and a tank top while they were dressed in expensive designer clothes. My yellow mutt and I felt horribly out of place.

I was upset that my former friends were so obviously fulfilled without me in their lives. All I’d ever done was be kind to them and try to give helpful advice and they’d snubbed me for the “love of their life.” They’d tossed me like a dirty rag because I’m the weird girl who spends most of her time writing, walking her dog, listening to birds and watching butterflies. They were much more “fulfilled” spending every conceivable moment with their beloved. I didn’t care how happy they appeared to be because I was certain their words were lies and their whole demeanor just a well-rehearsed performance.

In my efforts to get away from these former friends, Jazz and I became separated. This was horrible for me because Jazz is always stuck to me like my shadow. Somehow one of my ex friends had lured her away from me and I was desperate to find her. I finally found my way out onto a balcony and gulped in the fresh air like a fish gulps in water after being on dry land too long. The luxury and grandeur of the place was suffocating to me and I wanted out!

While standing on the vine-covered balcony, I heard Jazzmin barking above and to the left of me. I looked to find her on a higher nearby balcony poking her head through the marble railing with her tail wagging happily. She was obviously very eager to get to me despite the offer of treats from the person on the balcony with her. As anxious as I was to be reunited with Jazz, I was afraid she was going to try and jump to get to me. No matter how much she loved me, I didn’t think even Jazz could leap that far.

So I shouted at her to wait, that I’d find her. Too late. Jazzmin leapt through the railing across the open expanse and poof! my dream created a balcony between the two of us for her to safely land upon. I was so relieved! She then made the last jump to me and I hugged her and praised her as her tail happily whipped back and forth and she rubbed her head against mine. We both wanted out of that place but had no desire to go back inside.

Looking below me I realized the balcony was now much lower than before so I swung my legs over and jumped down. Jazz squeezed through the railings and hopped down to me and we took off running through the lush, emerald-colored garden overflowing with fountains, flowers and topiaries. I didn’t need those former friends or that grand palace to make me happy. I knew in my dream, as I do in real life, what real love feels like. Genuine kindness, caring and love are luxuries and treasures far greater than all the money in the world.

Mentors and Memories

Poised and ready to go!

Poised and ready to go!

I suppose not everyone needs a mentor, but I do. That wise and trusted counselor or teacher, as defined by the dictionary app on my phone. My most beloved mentor was my father. He always believed in me and my abilities as a writer. Whenever I’d visit my parents’ house he’d ask “How’s your writing coming? Submit to any publishers yet?” To which I’d usually say no and then feel bad because I was letting him down, though he never told me anything of the sort.

I have made attempts to submit my manuscripts to publishers, I imagine all aspiring authors have. I also imagine all aspiring authors are familiar with those generic rejection letters mailed back in the SASE we happily provide in the hopes of good news. Compared to many authors I’ve made relatively few attempts to get my books published. I admit that I’m easily discouraged which is not a useful attribute for an aspiring author. I’m not afraid to admit that I do require encouragement to keep my forward momentum going. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives.

Along with my father, I had another amazing mentor in my high school English teacher named Derek Hulse. He and I shared a kinship and love of writing and reading. Like my father, Derek was a great storyteller and I never got tired of listening to him. I was brave enough to let him read the first book I ever typed (then it was called Spark of Beginnings but it’s transformed into Dawn of Allies) and he gave me useful advice and insight into my writing style. He told me all about “willing suspension of disbelief” by explaining how silly it was that no one recognized Superman when he was wearing those Clark Kent glasses. I can still remember him demonstrating by removing his own glasses and I recall it making me laugh.

Derek and I kept in touch even after I graduated high school and he came to my house to meet my oldest daughter Jordan when she was only a couple of weeks old. I remember that he always seemed to be smiling and he had such a profound appreciation for life. We fell out of touch eventually which I still regret to this day. When I started writing a new non-fantasy fiction book in winter of 2011, I eagerly emailed him wanting to share. The reply email I got back broke my heart almost as deeply as losing my father. Derek’s wife wrote me back explaining that he’d passed away in May of 2011. I remember crying on my kitchen floor after reading that and it still makes me cry as I write this. I had lost my mentor, friend and the man who had felt like a second father to me.

I am certain that both my father and Derek are still with me in spirit, guiding me, watching over me and sending me signs when I need them. I also have some very close friends that encourage me when I need it, give me counsel when I’m lost and teach me valuable lessons. They’ve all read my writing, either emails or books or both, and they all believe in me even when I might not. When I’m ready to throw in the towel and give up on trying to escape ghost writing anonymity, they throw that towel back in my face or twist it into one of those nasty whip things to get my rear in gear again. Sometimes I need a gentle nudge, sometimes I need a big old shove and they know me well enough by now to act accordingly. I may be an aspiring author but I am an accomplished friend and the love in my life is the best acclaim a rambling girl like me can hope for.