Within Adversity and Mistakes Lie Opportunity

Let me tell you a little story. It goes something like this… 

One day an ambitious woman decided to make her mother a four-layer cake (white with her favorite buttercream frosting) for a landmark birthday and surprise party . She even considered trying her hand at making frosting roses but had back-up decorations should she fail. Opportunity, yes…without pressure.  

The woman baked the cakes the night before and allowed them to cool overnight, even made the frosting before she headed for bed and set her alarm for early morning to complete her mission. See – the woman had discovered years before that even though morning wasn’t her favorite time of day… early morning consistently proved to be a peaceful time that after a quick half-cup of coffee creative juices flowed and a deep zen-type focus would kick in. It’s the “riding the wave” under a muse’s smile and she was actually looking forward to the time. Looking forward to it so much she awoke several times discovering only an hour or two has passed before sighing and going back to sleep.  She rose 10 minutes before the alarm went off and eagerly went downstairs.

I’m glad in hindsight to report “Things did NOT go as planned.”  

It was early morning, yes. Consumed half-cup of coffee, yes. Deep zen-type focus? No.  That elusive and intoxicating unicorn had been shooed away by two snarfy kitties and their on-going ‘Operational No-Growl to Peaceful Co-Existence. ‘ Their antics included one older “how dare you exist” cat attempting non-whole-heartedly to hold back some of her hisses and growls while the younger and clingier made a game of being underfoot and practicing world-champion styled  “rub at the human’s legs.” 

Not a big deal.  The woman had often dealt with interruptions and adversity before. The key, she decided, was to refrain from many lower body movements. She smiled to herself. Problem solved. Now to deep focus

 Achieved!! Layer 1 on the cake plate and iced, layer 2 on and iced….layer 3 on and iced….layer 4 on and …. Ignore the cat, ignore the cat. The cake slide slightly to the side. 

Can’t have that. Nudge it back. Top layer iced. Okay. Frost the side and…. 

A piece of the bottom layer crumbled.

Dang it…well, that can be hid under the frosting. Slides again..

No, no!  Nudge it back. Okay…. Wish this cat would go away. Don’t think about that.  Focus. Focus. Breathe. Okay. We’ll grab more frosting and …. The cake slides again. 

 Damn it. Stop. Nudge. Nudge. Hmmmm…. Do I have toothpicks? Would someone accidentally bite into a toothpick?  I could…

The woman pushed the cat away with a foot. Cat came back. Pushes away. Comes back. Sigh. Doesn’t matter.  Maybe if I  nudge the cake more than necessary the other way and when I frost the opposite side… Oh good…Good… This is going to work.  

The muse creeps into the room, taps the woman on the cheek and whispers “Open your eyes. Your cake looks like the leaning Tower of Pisa.”  

Sigh. She nudges the cat away. Let’s see…I can… Cat comes comes back with an extra exuberant rubbing.   

“Will you get away from me!” The woman snaps and pushes cat away with the top of her foot.  Cat comes back. “GET.”

The cat looks at her incredulously. 

“GOOOOOO!”

Both cats bolt. The woman turns back to her project and takes a deep breathe, and another. Okay… How to deal with this and…

The top layer cracks…. Maybe I could hide that under frosting and… The crack ripples deeper in defiance it would seem of solution. Maybe I could make a Mt. Vesuvius cake? Mt Vesuviuos. How would I decorate for that? Not really appropriate for a birthday cake. 

 The woman frowns. Sits  in front of the cake. The thing mocks her with another rippling crack. I could just buy a store-bought cake. She reaches for the bowl for a taste of the perfect frosting. She closes her eyes.  Damn it. This is too good to throw out. Cake pops? Cake pops. I’d need a lot of chocolate and sticks. The woman glances at the clock. No, not enough time for a store trip let alone make them. It’s hopeless. 

It is here that a voice from the past knocks aside the mocking muse. The voice is her mother’s and the message is an old adage repeated past counting. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” 

Well, I could get out a casserole pan and make one really huge cake pop. Hmmmm….

And voilà! The invention of the Casserole Cake arrived into the world. 

Recipe: One cake disaster crumbled, scooped into pan, spread out, coated with a thin layer of white chocolate from the white chocolate bar originally bought to make the white chocolate fruit dip, and then decorated with back-up decorations. Easy-Peasey, yes?  

[As to the fruit dip: Dig into pantry until you find left-over black wafers of white chocolate from an earlier project. As black colored fruit dip is not appropriate for a mom’s landmark birthday add strong tint of rose to the cream cheese and yogurt part before adding melted chocolate. The color will be transformed into … dusty-dark lilac purple color. Yes! Do-able. Yay!]

The woman also bought store-bought cake as well for the candle blowing out ceremony because who knew if the disaster would turn into a decades old telling like the infamous Thanksgiving chocolate pies ….BUT the consensus for  Casserole Cake? “Yummy!  When are you making it again? Can I have another serving?”

Added bonus? The woman had a nice story to convey to her mother of how one of the life-lesson learned at her mother’s knee still benefits her to this day.

Oh, and the young kitty-cat? Still as affectionate as ever…but slightly less underfoot. 

Happy Birthday Mom! I love you!

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HEY! Change your attitude. 

Yeah? Just how much of a difference does that make? Well, I’d say it’s extremely key. 
  As a writer I get to do a whole lot of creating unsolvable dilemnas for my poor mistreated characters and figuring out how to let them “muck” through whatever problem/crisis/tragedy until they discover the impossible solution. It’s interesting to note that, in my humble opinion, many fiction books have their protagonists find a solution only after they shift their paradigm and find that “outside of the box” idea. Even more interesting? You see it in real life as well. By changing one’s paradigm, your way of thinking, basically having an attitude adjustment things tend to change. So why is that? And does it have any reason why we are hard-wired for story? (Yeah writer…  double team things) 

Earlier today I posted on my Facebook wall: “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. 

“Is ALL well in the world? No, like many there’s people I’m worried about and/or situational irritants abounding. It’s a small pocket of truth teaching a small child that yes there are things you cannot control and all you can do is send your prayers up BUT that which you do have control, do the very best you can. And that philosophy will serve you all of your days. 

I just need to boil that philosophy down to a quick one-liner for the list.”

Why did I write that? Suffice to say that I worry about those near and dear to me but I can’t always do anything about it. For someone who likes to be in control, it’s a bit torturous but tying myself in knots wasn’t doing anyone any good. Least of all myself. Yes, I can use the feelings of frustration, inadequacy, guilt, regret, sorrow, anger, etc. and transfer them over to my poor sobs in my manuscript and emotionally deepen the story but when I’m not writing then what? [Yes, Kathryn, I’m a storyteller because things happen…]

I fence…or dance…or take a walk…  I read this article recently for how to deal with upsets with an ADHD kid and first suggestion was to take a walk and talk because it’s near impossible to stay upset when you are in motion. My reaction was what? But say you are walking down the sidewalk on your cell phone and your friend gives you bad news. What do you do? You stop. Guess we are hard-wired for certain things.  

But I say we are hard-wired to change too. Why? We change our reality every day. And yes, some of it is merely by our actions. Repeat with me “I am the architect of my own fate.” True to a degree but there is more.  

Going a little deeper our subconscious mind has a great reality changer. It uses this cool tool called a reticular activating device. Yes, pretty RAD. (ha-ha) It’s that RAD that grabs your attention to whatever it is you’re focused on. Think being in a crowded room and hearing your name being called and frequently being able to identify the caller before you look up. How did you hear it over all the commotion? Your brain is on high-alert for certain things. So all those coincidences? Maybe they are not so coincidental. It could be your RAD sifting through the whatever terabyte of information your brain is bombarded with and brings your attention to your pet project, your new goal or even a sucky attitude that everything blows. 

Backing up a little … Thinking about how much stuff the human brain ignores and I’d wager our outside stimuli realities aren’t even the same. You and I could be at the exact same place and the exact same time and experience two separate things. And even if we experience the same catalyst our emotional/mental/spiritual difference may easily impact us or not in totally different ways. 

It gets better. Did you know your memories of an event aren’t from the event itself but more on what it was the last time you remembered it. Again we change our personal reality as time marches on. Granted it’s usually little by little but the thing is our reality is pretty fluid.   

Even our “beyond ourselves…outside our own heads” reality is kind of wonky, particularly if you look at basic quantum physics with its wave-partical duality (how about that for an oxymorin). Anything and everything is possible until the time an observer locks everything into one place, one reality purely by observing.  

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And not that you need to know this but every time I think of that it makes me think perhaps we have more control than we know and maybe magic and science are two sides of a coin…and it’s a very thin coin.    
But skipping back to one more physicality thought… How we are “wired” impacts reality. Take a rare condition of Syneshesia as an example. This cross-wire of senses causes people to experience things like hearing a color or tasting a number. I imagine that would be a strange way to experience reality and one that would be hard to describe.

And that gets me to stories. Studies have shown that experiencing a reality is more than just living it. You can gain many benefits of the same experience simply by story. Perhaps we are hard-wired for stories because we, on some level, yearn to have others “get” us and/or yearn to understand others. Take it one step further and perhaps stories are a way to experience a common reality, a shared one that we all know…. like one of our cultural shared foundations found in fairytales.  

A nice little ramble yes? Well I’m working on my reality right now and shaking all the pieces into place… I think. 

To loosely tie everything up… all that make-believe as children, the imagination, the infinite possibilities? All that helps. By having an open mind which is more resilient, less crystalized, more able to find those impossible solutions, you get your own personal doorway to a happier reality. So if someone says change your attitude, that might be the best advice you’ll ever get but as always it’s up to you to do it. Oh, and you have the ability to change reality, or at least your own. 

What do you think?

 

Birding the Scarecrow and Coveting the Shine

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A bird flew through me today…a big black raven.  It scooped up all my resolve, gulped it greedily and left me with an empty space within.
I never realized walking around with a non-sensible void, of nothing, feels weightier than the somethings.
Maybe gravity oozed in and filled the gap when I wasn’t looking. It’s colorless, tasteless, noiseless, right?

I need to find that bird and perform the Heimlich maneuver. Make it eject what it took.
But I don’t think it took resolve.
Was it hope? What is hope? Besides, you know, a nice little four letter word starting with an ‘H.’

Knock off the super ‘E’ and we’re all ‘hopping’ around waiting for that silent something more which changes Action into Faith.
Then Faith into Action. Maybe it’s like a shiny two-sided coin always spinning.
Maybe the bird took the coin and what’s remaining whistling on the inside is the centrifugal motion from spinning.

But why would it take it? Unless the coin got spent… maybe an expensive worry or six…and the winged tax collector came to collect.
Seems I’d be aware of that though, wouldn’t I? What about representation? Have I been hustled into the debtor’s waiting room?
Don’t tell, only hide, be quiet inside. And get that darned bird!

Unless I need to become the bird. Fly free and as fast as I can, feel the sunlight on my wings and scream in delight.
But how can I unless I cast off that which anchors me fast. Perhaps that elusive Gordian knot was painted into illusion.
I could shift my paradigm, couldn’t I?

With all the aspects of personality, we are the sum of our parts…perhaps sometime our parts refuse to be summed.
Seems like a tedious eventuality. Could we not be interchangeable within ourselves?
Or have I expelled myself far from the garden of well-being?

Perhaps I could just be a freaky little girl pondering if she should be a scarecrow or a bird protector.
Or perhaps I see too much and it’s just a play on words. I could just be raven-ous for change.  Then would it matter what I chose?
I think I’ll write some silly verse and mull…. Oh look, I did.

→Happy Friday the 13th←

Ever and Again the Brigadoon House Haunting

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Yes. That creepy old house as..,again. You know, that place where sometimes there’s a “door” and sometimes not. And you don’t realize you shouldn’t be or you don’t want to be…there….until it’s too late.

Does that happen to you?

I never know at first.

The first floor always looks friendly and warm and nice and it even looks different each time so I don’t recognize it.

The second floor, well, it starts to let me know with eerie places that pulse with a warning and the attic…I don’t go in there.

At my bravest I might peer inside before I slink away from the malevolence pervading from that place.

Except once. I don’t like to think about that. I got hit in the shoulder then and it still hurt after I woke up.

But today I was happy chilling in one of my bedrooms in my grandiose house. Heck. Grandiose mansion. I was reading or writing when Alicia, the daughter of a childhood friend, stopped by.

We chatted about a lot of things before she
asked just how many bedrooms I had in my gorgeous new place.

“Three,” I said.

“Are you sure?”

I laugh, “Of course! Would you like a tour?”

So we go from room to room chatting about the house’s decor and its charm. We poke through my posh living room and kitchen before we venture to the staircase.

I have a grand staircase! How cool is that?

We go upstairs and into another bedroom. Four. I didn’t realize I had four. Back to the hallway and I grab another doorknob. Bedroom #5?

It’s a bathroom. And with shivers needling across the backs of my arms, I shut the door. No. Not this place again.

“Is there a problem,” Alicia asks.

I shake my head. I have the right to occupy my space. Be fearless.

Exactly why do I find this place so creepy? Why do I always question that when I’m here.

I thought it was the ambiance of clutter and dirt and disrepair. But the place looks clean…it looks habitable this time.

There’s also a heavy presence which hates others occupying ITS space. But the air…it might not be as light as downstairs, but it doesn’t feel oppressive. More like waiting.

Be brave.

I continue the tour.

After a few more rooms we step into an L-shaped sitting room with hundreds of colored glass lanterns in various shapes hanging from the ceiling. They are all lit up. It gives the room a warm almost magical look but the room tastes like old smoke and regrets.

I don’t like the dirty blue-glass ashtray sitting on the large circular dark wood table. The table triggers an almost-memory. I can’t place it but I’ve seen that table before.

Alicia and I take a seat on the dark leather couch. I look at the cork board overhead and I notice faded old pictures pinned of people I don’t know.

This is my place now. Perhaps I should take them down.

Muttering — I can’t make out the words but maybe I shouldn’t try — come from the table. No one is sitting there.

Alicia grabs my hand. Her eyes are huge and round.

“Don’t worry. I’ll shun them,” I say.

(What exactly does that mean?? Did I know when I said it?)

I breathe Reiki-style at the table. “Leave. Take the attic but you can’t stay here.”

I’m able to see the attic through the walls of the room. I should’ve not been able to. It defies the laws of nature but I’m more struck to see the attic cleared of all the junk.

Did someone come in and do a major housecleaning? There is furniture in there. Like 60s, 70’s styled. But no crumbling old boxes. No dust. No scurrying movement. No holes in the walls.

I’m tempted to venture in. No. I told whatever it was to stay in there. I will stay out. For now.

I turn back at the hanging lanterns and I get the impression of a young woman, a sad young woman.

Then I hear a child singing. I am pulled away, eyes open to a window overlooking a familiar snowy scene.

Yep. Our resident 8-year old is up. I reach for my phone. 7:30? (Ugh) I shoo him downstairs.

So in-between shushing him so others can sleep and writing this I’m left with the feeling I should know the answers behind that house.

Is there an answer or is a dream just a dream?

Anyone ever dream with a narrator aboard?

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I had a dream this morning with what I can only describe as a master storyteller on board.

The dream opened with him telling a story…like a narrator would and it was a cute little fairytale-ish sort of tale — one I could see Pixar or Dreamworks doing about a spoiled human girl and a cursed fairy boy who’s been banished to the human world. I wish all the details weren’t slipping away but suffice to say they were thrown together…hating each other at first but along the way they started working together to fix their mutual problems.

During the story beats (rises and falls) the master storyteller would “lean in” and whisper about the technique, how things fell together organically and how someone else could do “this or that.” He asked me questions such as what would feel contrived and other things to see what I knew and then…we’d be at the next scene. He would narrate again if the scene’s beginning warranted it.

The story characters were wonderful — full of troubles and idiosyncrasies, weaknesses and strengths. Their conversation felt edgy and truthful. One, because they weren’t looking to impress but then…

They fell in love. And some horrible thing was happening to destroy, I’m assuming the fairy world, because they were being attacked and they were now in Fairy. A land where truth is sacred but creative truth telling is rampant. This means subtext is in the foreground.

I wish I remembered more about this but next I remember came this…

I saw how a clue, a tiny innocuous piece from the enemy’s construction got swooped up by the bird the girl was riding. The bird knew it was important but not the girl. Unfortunately, the item was lost when they veered in the sky to grab one of the cursed fairy’s people who was falling (I don’t remember how he got there… But at the time it made sense) and the bird spit out the piece to catch him.

The fairy was slipping–hanging upside down with his arms wrapped around the bird’s neck. They almost lost him before they made an emergency landing in a tree. But that piece they lost? It was found wedged almost out of sight within the tree’s canopy. The fairy spotted it, realized what it was and all of them decided what they would need to do.

The Master Storyteller leaned in again. “It isn’t enough to simply have the protagonist find a clue. They may be clueless and have to find that which unlocks the clue.”

The story evolved to where the fairy boy lost the feelings he felt for the girl. Human emotions and fairies mix strangely and it wasn’t that he fell out of love. He wanted those feelings back but they were lost to him.

The next part I remember … the girl, no longer spoiled, is ready to pass back into the human world. She is resolved to heal somehow from knowing such a true intense love. Her heart is breaking and she’s trying to be stoic. She said goodbye to him inside his tree home. They are not alone. His servant is there.

The fairy boy may not love her anymore but he is compelled to ease her suffering. He has found a way to get back his feelings but it can’t be just his…it will be both of theirs (just like the girl is doing at that moment).

He said “it’s better that way.”

The servant said, “I do not understand how you can say that. Your life is eternal and hers is fleeting. She will heal of it being human.”

The fairy boy said, “If I must live a life forever and never love, I want to know I did have love once and it was real.”

The whole thing was making me cry.

The Master Storyteller told me to wake up and to write this down… Which I’m doing now but I had continued dreaming. I was now inside an old medieval German house with a small library.

Someone was pounding at the door. I answered it only to find a skeezy little man who said he needed to ask me a lot of questions.

“Can you come back in half an hour? I need to write some stuff down,” I said.

Nope. He argued with me while I tried to keep the memories of my previous dream from dissolving into mist.

He barged in and said, “I’ll wait.”

I look for something to write on but all the notebooks in the house were full.

I finally picked up a book. Though I shouldn’t…I figured I could, at least, write quick shorthand notes in a blank page and transfer them over when I found a better place to put them.

I felt electricity go through my arm as soon as the pen was on page. I wrote. I had to.

The skeezy little man screeched. He had a book in his hands, one he had grabbed from one of the top shelves. It was an old book totally written in German.

New letters were forming inside his volume as if the books were linked.

Pandemonium broke out. Lights. Explosions. Villagers flooding in screaming about witchcraft.

The last I know I was desperately trying to hold onto the pieces I wanted to save from my dream.

Anyway I woke up…I reached for my iPhone where I usually put dream notes or notes on the fly only to discover I left it downstairs. I never leave it downstairs.

Despair, the house is awake.

I snuck down, retrieved the phone before the family noticed and barricade myself in the bathroom. And yes, you guessed it. I typed furiously to save as much of it as I could.

Interesting dream but I can’t help feeling like I had been plunged into battle to save…story ideas and writing tips. Alas, there had been more. So aggravating and sad but I’m hoping my subconscious will let it seep back.

A Gutter of Tree Sludge and Blood

(Warning. This is an introspection piece and it contains graphic and unsettling imagery)

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I compartmentalize. Sanitary little mind boxes meant to keep things separated. I’m sure I created the first one to keep me functioning when life and death got too big. It muffled painful things when it was locked away and I could pretend a normal face. Pretend, pretend and eventually you’ll feel it. But…I think the boxes are leaking.

I think they’re leaking because when I get overwhelmingly stressed, I go to a dark place…

And I have extra servings of worry lately. What are they? Suffice to say safety, sanity and survival for those I love most are pinging the top of the list along with a cumulation of swirling other exasperations to fill in the cracks.

Anyway, I think the boxes are too full … That or perhaps I’ve rearranged them so much the bottoms are breaking. I need to unpack them. Yes, I know.

See I’ve realized no matter what box I’m in, I’m missing my full potential. I’m incomplete. I’m a ghost shadow of what I could be. It’s a relatively recent realization and it makes me sad. But I wonder, in moving the boxes around in preparation of unpacking, have I allowed seepage to collect?

No. It can’t be. I’ve been trapped face down in a sludge of graphic images before. People with twin smiles who grasp their throats with hard realization and bodies cut deep to spill their inner secrets.

I turn inwards to escape the world and am greeted with a horror-lovers’ marathon. oh, fantastic. I don’t seek a horror genre but here it is waiting in the sacred place where thought collects.

The same mantra… Please…make the images stop, drain the poison from my mind. Do something with it.

Ah yes, the carnivorous carousel….and the blood pours bright red.

But I have used this venom to propel myself into better incarnations. Fling myself across the precipice to reestablish. Recreate. Fear of failing pales with what’s in my mind’s eye. I dress for battle. But I’m in a holding pattern this time. I must wait.

I hate waiting.

Perhaps I can use this creatively. Glimpses of hatchets with small heaps of bloodless feet. Yes. Creatively.

But where?

And why?

Yes, I’ve finally asked why. Why do I find this dark place. Why does it find me? Why does it hold the same template.

I remember waking.., cold sweat, afraid to move, hours before-elementary-school-started-pitch-black with yet another nightmare with my grandmother’s disembodied head in the yard. I remember… Squished and…

I feel squished… Like two massive hands work to press me flat like Playdough. Time to be reformed?Reshaped?

And I understand. I found a connection. A wild a-ha and resounding duh. The visceral blood thoughts and the sorrow and the worry… these are the legacies from and of my family when my uncle died and my aunt lost her jaw and I didn’t know if a killer would go free.

I made my first box then to hold the blood images and the shadow gunman who lived in my closet. And over time, I made others. They hold a myriad of ugly things. Some I’m afraid to open. But I know they hold hostage light and happy times too.

Like goes with like … and worry and overwhelm-ness goes in that first blood box and the memory goes…over there…in one of those hundred boxes….

I don’t want to put these worries in the box. Even for function’s sake.

I understand.

There’s a living tree, dissected and hacked, inside these boxes. My own personal tree of life. I’m not quite sure of its real dimensions … but I have in my hands a limb and a root. Their mine and I stand.

[Dark thoughts can be disconcerting and they can make life seem bleak. For anyone sinking into them I would suggest finding someone safe to talk to and to step back with the basics. Enough sleep, nutritious food, stay hydrated. Walk, dance, do something for your body’s natural feel-good endorphins. Journal. Paint. Breathe. Be your own best friend for a bit. Take things in moment-bites. Let go and let God. Know things will get better. Eventually. Live.]

The 7th Wonder of the Water Wizards (Chichen Itza)

The crown of our Cancun vacation had to be the sojourn to dwelling of wise water wizards or in other words, Chichen Itza (the city by the well or the wise men by the water, etc). This incredible site, a shadow of its former glory with its brilliantly painted buildings, smooth concrete plazas and rich culture was designated in July 7, 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Thank you Jack for the persuasive private message on FaceBook which I used to help convince Andy that we just had to go. 🙂

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All I wish, visiting the site, is we would have had more time soaking in what we were seeing. But I am glad I took as many pictures as I did, and Andy did too, because it’s helping with that delayed “soaking” of this site.

Our adventure started with our van picking us up outside our hotel at 7 am Wed., April 30, 2014, along with some other tourists, and getting us to our Cancun Tour bus. I enjoyed seeing more of the hotel zone as we rode Boulevard Kukulkan. We passed this interesting building, Maya Design Hotel, and here (second picture) is where we waited until our bus was ready.

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Our bus was 001 and our guide, Jorge, was a very versatile bilinguist. He easily flipped from Spanish to English so it eventually blended together. He shared information about the ancient Mayans along with passing things around for us to see…like depictions of the Mayan calendar and obsidian…

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…and he talked about the itinerary of the day (besides the tour of Chichen Itza) which included a a traditional Mayan buffet lunch (which was really good with homemade tortillas and a liberal warning about the hot sauce…salt and sugar folks, salt and sugar). Please note the thatched ceiling.

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Pic of the restaurant

We drove through Valladolid, a colonial Mexican town, and viewed its downtown, the lovers’ chairs and San Gervasio Cathedral.

Oh, because of a flat tire we ended up stopping at a merchants’ plaza with hand-made items. We did get silver pendants with our names engraved in Mayan.

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(one of the masks hanging from the wall)

We were also told we’d be visiting the Suytun Cenote in order to cool off after our tour in Chichen Itza.

Also check it out this Cenote (one of many) was in National Geographics
http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/wallpaper/photography/photos/best-pod-september-2011/centoes-chichen-itza/?rptregcta=reg_free_np&rptregcampaign=20140623_t2_rw_membership_r1p_us_se_w#

“If you have your bathing suit, congratulations. And if you don’t, congratulations, what happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico. What that means is it will be on Facebook in five minutes.” ~ Jorge, guide.

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And being at the Cenote was really cool but I would have, again, preferred more time at the ruins.

Okay…so without further ado, [drumroll]
Let me introduce Chichen Itza

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My first pic entering the site shows a small corner of vendors crying out their wares! They were everywhere. Admittedly, a lot of the stuff is really cool. For example, the jaguar growls in my Chichen Itza iMovies are actually whistles that these guys had. And most everything, was being offered for $1 (US). Not having pesos on me, I was just a bit nervous of stopping with US dollars because I was sure I’d be mobbed.
(In the background is the Temple of the Jaguars and the ballcourt)

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…and my second pic….the pyramid.

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The guide told us that the pyramid kicks out a bit from alignment from the other buildings and that it has been theorized that the building is meant to be a calendar of sorts.

The pyramid has 91 steps with four staircases — one on each side — and one platform so if you do the math it equals one solar year. Also, on the equinoxes the pyramid is a stage for a light/shadow show which shows their snake god descending from the temple into the snakes’ heads.

More tidbits: The pyramid is 78 feet tall and has an interesting surprise. What is it? There is a second temple inside this one…sort of like Russian nesting dolls. Inside this they found a jaguar throne and a chacmool. Oh, and they built the pyramid in five years.


This iMovie (above) has quite a bit of information of what the guide told us. He took us around this plaza and gave us insight with the pyramid, ball court, Temple of the Warriors, Wall of Skulls and Platform of Venus… and after he was finished I immediately asked him where the observatory was.

See, the site’s observatory was something I considered using as a template for one of the places in my book….a forgotten ruin from one of the (Chandarions) god-like people who had been interested in studying the sky. So you can imagine that I just HAD to see this not in just pictures But in front of my own eyes.

Amazing, right? Anyway the one thing I didn’t notice until later was the Chaac mask near the building’s crown. Do you see it? The Chaac masks represent the Mayan god of rain.

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more Chichen Itza iMovie. 🙂

I suppose seeing the The Church with its very obvious Chaac masks made me more aware of what these were.

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It surprised me to see lattice work carved in stone… I mean, wow! How long did this take the Mayans?

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And excavations are still going on. For example, in the 1990s, the Temple of the Big Tables was restored from the jungle. (I love saying I was in a jungle) This structure is beside the Temple of the Warriors and it has a substructure inside which can be reached by the door on the side of the staircase. One of the things that was found within were life-size figures of warriors, carved in stone relief with details in stucco and polychrome paint.

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Definitely, the science of archeology has improved. Back in the early 1900s one so-called archeologist, Le Plongeon, blew a part of the exterior away from the Edificio de las Monjas (Nunnery) in order to reveal an older structure within. Do you see the big hole on the right hand side, lower level?

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Here’s the back side of the pyramid and the Temple of the Warriors in the background.

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And one last thing I’ll share for now… the frieze from the ball court which gives us an idea how the game was played. [Please remember, kidding aside, these guys probably thought they were assured immortality. For example, the decapitated one is kneeling proudly as if he was perfectly fine, except missing a head]

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Laboring the Story Soul

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What is it that makes a writer a writer? Is it the burning desire to tell a story? Is it the burning desire to understand humanity? Is it the burning desire to understand self? Or is it merely a way to escape? (From the burning!)

I would wager to say escaping while perhaps true in the short term would be likened from leaping out of the frying pan… Writing is a lot of work.

Burning desire to tell a story – that’s what I’m to go with. And why do I have a burning desire to tell story? I’m voting that I’m still on the road of self-discovery or I haven’t come to terms with not knowing all the whys.

Do you know why you have a burning desire to tell a story? Or even if you don’t write, what is it about story that attracts you? We humans seem to be hardwired for story.

But my latest path with self-discovery and story is a reformation on things I knew but perhaps more on an unaware deep level.

I could go into all the details of circumstances, mostly external ones, bringing me to an internal epiphany but that would be a novel, at least, in itself.

Let’s just say it’s difficult sometimes giving it your best Pollyanna effort when the world doesn’t feel like it wants to cooperate in the least but I suppose that’s what spotlights true determination or failure,

We are greater than the sum of our parts. How long before we really know, like deep in your bones, know that one.

I would say that is easier to remember when we see it in others. It isn’t always easy when we looking inwards but we get to experience all the turmoil. Put both together (seeing it in others and feeling it your self) and what you have is a protagonist in a story who allows us to travel with – no, become one with him/her/it.

For you writers how do we get there? How do we build/create/spawn this magical transport?

You know this, don’t you?

It has to come from the deepest, most secret, maybe even hidden from yourself place that you possess. It comes from that place you hide from the world. It means you have to be brave and well, more than bare your soul. And that image took me straight to the kitchen with a bowl full of “souls” and the cook busily preparing them for preferential taste for her dinner guests…?

I suppose also being a writer means finding a way to use these weird weird images that come to you.

“Hi. Welcome to the inside my head – yes, it is kind of scary in here. Didn’t mention writers are crazy?”

Anyway, questions to ask to help you create this magical transport:

-Have you ever wondered whether your own life has a theme? what would it be?

– What draws you? Why?

– What is your coping device?

– do you think any of it is because of nurture versus nature? Does it come from someplace else?

Well… I have some crumbs to feed my magical transport so I’m off to my manuscript

Happy Writing! (Or reading) and may the story come off the page.

The Road to Success (pep-talk)

For myself and all my friends who have a dream….each day take one more step…always.

1. Keep your determination. Stride forward.

“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.” ~ Denis Waitley

2. Surround yourself with positives

And to help take that un-demoralized trudge forward…to turn each step into a the springful celebration of journey surround yourselves, as much as possible, with the greats.

For small people (not talking stature) will jealously hold you down, feed you a steady diet of discouragement and will go out of their way to block you from the figurative stars.

The great ones will spark your inspiration.

(Of course there are good friends who’ll give you fair assessment too)

3. Keep it in perspective

Keep the journey in perspective. In the words of the Wise Girlfriends Coffee Cliche “Compare and Despair…yeah, don’t do that.”

“It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important.” ~ Doris Lessing

4. And enjoy.

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” ~ Sai Baba

If the spark of wonder, of playfulness, of quiet enjoyment and love leave you…what is left to you? Your beautiful goal isn’t quite as beautiful is it?

Ok. Happy and determined. Deep breathe. Ready to take on the World.

Harvesting Nightmares

Nightmares can be a harvesting delight for the would-be storyteller….a juicy portal into the psychological “bump in the night” terrors…a rich cramming of subconscious symbols and archetypes.

For me, the latest nightmare sequence complete with freshly awakened “creep out” started with me simply chatting with someone (a blend of people) that I know. We are walking down a hall and we walk past a door from my childhood. I feel a shiver of cold across my shoulders.

There is a noise behind that door. It’s like a combination of a cat hacking a hairball, a child crying and something evil laughing, all rolled together. I’m not sure what it is but the more I listen, the more I can hear pull out the sound of weeping.

The person I’m talking to says she’s just laughing. She’ll fall asleep soon.

I said no. Something isn’t right. I grip the doorknob and twist.

The room inside is dark…. A wide contrast to the sunlight beaming through the windows on the other side of the door. And the feel of the air is brooding and heavy.

It’s a bedroom. My little grandson’s former bedroom but it’s my daughter at age 3 sitting there in his small bed.

From the faint light I can see she is covered in blood. Her hair is in her face and her eyes are rimmed with black….but it isn’t her eyes that are looking at me.

They are cold fire. I’ve seen those eyes before in other dreams but it never looked at me from a loved one’s face. It is a demon and it’s wearing my daughter’s flesh.

I stare at her heartsick, afraid and unsure for the space of maybe two heartbeats before I run. I scoop her tiny body into my arms and run for the bathroom.

The water is running in the sink. I can’t see where any physical injuries are. I’m chanting an Indian protection song because nothing else is coming to mind. It’s like my memories and knowledge have been wiped or suppressed. The demon says in my head that It’s useless…I can’t save her. But I keep chanting….

My daughter, in her sweet child voice, says she’s thirsty but I can feel the demon rippling under her delicate skin.

I can’t trust to let go to fetch her a proper drink.

I feed her water from the bathroom sink with my hand. She drinks. And then she struggles. I’m washing blood from her face using the water and my hand. Sharp teeth, a mouth, opens from the hollow of her neck. The teeth, unnaturally sharp, graze my hand. I want to cry but I don’t.

I keep chanting.

I am angry. I am heartsick. I am determined to not let go. I feel the demon’s presence receding within this tiny body but so is my daughter’s life force…what can I do? I have no good choices.

What can I do?

I keep chanting because that’s all I can do. If I let go the demon will possess her forever, she will be devoured and I will unleash a terror on the world. But if I don’t … I can feel her slipping away. There has to be a way that I can save her.

I wake up chanting. It was only a dream….but though I’m awake I feel a cold, brooding dark presence lingering beside me in my bedroom.

It was just a dream.

I remember Emily telling me an old lady died in that room. I remember finding another pin hidden in the bedroom carpet, not one of mine, making it five in three months. Have I disrupted a protection circle? The fan’s blowing. I’m cold and it sounds like the hint of dark laughter.

The feeling of something dark in that room with me increases.

I turn on the light.

It’s a long time before I sink back to sleep. I tell myself I am a warrior and I’m steeped in God’s love. And I realize if I find that demon wearing a loved one’s skin in another dream though I feel revulsion for the evil I must also remember to pour love as well because love and joy evaporates evil like sun to the fog and humans thrive on love.

So now….I am writing the entire experience down in case I can use elements of it later for story. Some sort of positive for the awful experience of dreaming it. I have some ideas.

And I wonder—how many storytellers and artists use their nightmares…