Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Year, A New Life.....I'm Back!

I'm back in the saddle again....I'm ready to go! I feel the New Year around the corner and I'm ready to embrace 2010, the Year of the Tiger. For some reason, when I say that, the Rocky theme song, Eye of The Tiger, starts playing in the background of my mind. I think "Tiger" best defines how I feel this year will go. When I think of a Tiger, I think of strength, precision, focus, and beauty.
(Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

I didn't feel like a tiger two weeks ago. I felt more like a mole or a bear in hibernation. I just wanted to bury myself in a hole in the ground and remain in it. It wasn't that I was depressed or sad or worried, it's just that I felt the need to let go of outside things and go inside. I needed to feel myself again. I needed to retreat.

I'm coming out of my cave now. On Dec. 9th I went to a 10-day silent meditation course in Onalaska, WA.

I had a room with hardly anything in it and I didn't speak for 10-days.

People may ask, "Well what did you do then?" I meditated...and that's it. No other activities except eating, sleeping, and bathing and responding to calls of nature. I do this at least once a year and I have a daily practice. I find it very beneficial. It's easy for me to get lost in the drama of life be tossed and turned by what is going on around me. A 10-day Vipassana course is not easy, it's rigorous. Many people have an idea that going to meditate for 10 days is like going to the couldn't be farther from that idea. It's serious work. It's surgery. The benefits I get from practicing meditation outweigh the benefits I've gotten from anything else in life, so I keep practicing. It's been almost 14 years. I feel clarity, peace of mind on a very deep level, balance, and understanding of the impermanent, changing nature of things.

Before I started meditation, I felt a lot of anger, worry, and self doubt. I don't feel these as much anymore and if they come to pay a visit, they don't stay long. The most amazing thing that has happened since I started meditating is that I find myself exactly where I need to be. There's no second guessing. Things fall into place very easily. I get lined up with the right people, places and things. I feel a connection to those I meet and feel the importance of those who come into my life, whether they be a reader of this blog, an author or fellow blogger on another blog, a yoga student, an ESL student, a neighbor, the postman, a stranger, whomever it may be, I feel the importance of why they are in my life. I'm not saying that things don't go wrong anymore, they do, but I don't seem to have a strong reaction like I did before. I'm able to observe the situation a bit more from a distance. I don't feel so attached.

Another thing I've felt like doing since I started meditating is share with others the things that I have learned or the peace and happiness I feel. There's a lot of negativity in the world these days. If I am not aware, I can follow people right into the hornet's nest of negativity. Realizing that I can't please everyone is a big lesson for me. Some people will not be happy with what I say or do, but if I feel o.k. with it, that's all that's important. My purpose in life, I believe, is to share, open up and extend myself to others. Also, there are times when I need to retreat, gain energy and take care of myself.

When I came back from meditation, I wasn't quite ready to come out of my shell, but Christmas was right around the corner and my family had big plans. We had planned to meet at my father's lake house in Washington. I went from the nothingness of total silence right into the craze of Christmas shopping at Northgate Shopping Center near my house in Seattle. Christmas shopping at peak season, if anything, will shake you from your shell. I was still moving slowly through the hordes of people and had to sit down often.

Christmas with my family was nice. It was nice to see everyone and spend time together. I'm not sure I really had time to get into the "Christmas Spirit". I was kind of thrown into it. When I was young, I celebrated Christmas because my family did. I don't think much has changed. The Christmas I see in America seems to be about spending time with family, buying a Christmas tree, buying presents, decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies, watching Christmas specials, listening to Christmas music, etc. Christmas is also about the birth of Christ, but that gets lost sometimes, I feel. I am not a member of any religion and I am member of ALL religions. Maybe it's good to celebrate everything. celebrate life! I was happy to finally be celebrating at this peaceful lake setting with family.

I think I was more excited about the new year.... I already feel things are lining up. While I was meditating, my husband and his friend decided to start a yoga business together and they already found a building in Seattle that they are interested in. I feel that this will happen. The most amazing part of the "possible" yoga school is the atrium.

It has an indoor Eichler-style atrium. I've never seen an older building in Seattle with this feature. It's perfect for a yoga school. I feel like my husband and are I both working towards our goals and dreams simultaneously and they both support the same goal of sharing peace, happiness and joy with others. The creation of his yoga school will be a collaborative effort of friends who are painters, gardeners, designers, construction workers. I think it will be so interesting to see this process of so many people coming together to leave a part of themselves for others to enjoy. It's like one big art project. Stay tuned for more information as this project progresses. Happy New Year everyone!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finding our way Home on Christmas Day

My favourite memory of Christmas this year: my grand-mère's ridiculously happy smile when she realized I was there to play and sing for her.

Grand-mère is in a nursing home, this will be her third week. She's a tiny woman, all shriveled up and bent with shaky hands and a lost expression on her face. She wasn't always like this, but I always remember her as being 'old' and difficult. I always defined her as "grandmère" and other as opposed to "woman" and similar to myself.

With a little bit of thought, her history comes alive and allows me to glimpse into her life as woman. Her mother was extremely ill with asthma, forcing Evelyn to quit school before grade 8 to care for her. She also cared for her two cognitively impaired siblings until their deaths. Her mother passed away when Evelyn was 18 years old, and left her to be the matron of the household. 

She always said that she refused to marry Albert (grand-père) until he returned from the war. "What if he came back missing a leg??" He returned physically whole, they married and had four children. She didn't bargain for what being in the front lines in WWII could do to a man psychologically. She now had a family of four children, two cognitively impaired adults and an alcoholic husband who woke screaming at night.

Grand-mère was also bulimic. My mother remembers her throwing up after each meal. I remember grand-mère's snide comments made to my mother about her weight.

Although we all knew that she was absent minded, her world began crumbling apart three years ago when her youngest son died suddenly. The following Christmas grand-père passed away after a long illness in their home.

And now grand-mère is no longer the capable mother, grandmother or woman she was. She has forgotten that my uncle has died... time passes in snippets for her. New memories refuse to stick and pass as quickly as the electrochemical-signals created. She remembers her husband. She remembers that he's no longer with her and talks of the day she'll join him. Her husband whom she spent years fighting, the love long gone. He was her anchor, his mind keeping her grounded while her physical health kept him with us.

Christmas day, only hours after our happy caroling sing-song, we arrived to take her to Tante B.'s for supper. Mom had been preparing her for weeks. We found her in the lobby, sitting forlornly in a huge, overbearing rocking chair. Her hair all askew, her clothing worn and haphazard. Looking like a tiny lost child surrounded by other wrinkly, lost children. All waiting.

Gone was the happy Grand-mère of Christmas day, and here was a confused woman. Where were we going? It's Christmas day? "Qu'est-ce que vous faites icitte??"

She allowed my mom to guide her to her room in search for her Christmas outfit that was opened yesterday. We arrived to find everything in her room packed into plastic bags. As my mother questioned her, grand-mère sat on the bed and shrugged her shoulders. She had no memory of packing her things, of the gift, of our singing. 

With a sigh, my mother asked me to draw the curtain so she could dress her own mother. I couldn't help. I stood behind the curtain, certain that if I saw them I would fall apart.

We left with assurances that we were taking her 'breathing' medication with us (she had a panic attack upon our arrival) and the half hour drive on the highway consisted of a cycle of approximately 6 questions: "aimes-tu ta job? c'est-ty ta car à toi? travailles-tu à Halifax asteur? Sauves-tu des cents? Les enfants aimes-ty leur madame? Quand-ce qu'est les noces?"...

Although she sat amidst the hub bub of her family, her thoughts too slow to follow conversation around her, she announced that she was so very happy to have gone. A few repetitions of how we were missing one this year (Albert) and a few reminders as to where she lived now and my mother and I were on our way back home.

"I hope I'm never that lost"

(post dedicated to grandmère Evelyn, whom I love dearly)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Art of Creation

I wanted to post something before I left Korea, but instead what I have done is to write this post for the future. I happened to go through an old blog of mine that I still post to on ocassion.

The words are mine, the images are the works of artist, Philip Brooker, who has been an artist who has poured his life into his work. He was born an artist. He will always be one.

At this reading, I will be in Paris, the day after Christmas, the journey will have been long. I will be going through the usual arrival processes and getting myself settled in with moist eyes because it took me so long to come back to a place I love.

I wrote about the valley of darkness we all go through. It was strange reading this post, because it almost seemed prophetic. It has been a very difficult year in the West. There has been much suffering, but do your best to touch as many lives as you can.
(C) Philip Brooker
In a World of Art...

It is out of the forces of great pressure from this earth great jewels are formed. It is through great oppression that heroes have arisen. It is through much struggle that voices have risen to create some of the most incredible views of canvas, of scultpture, of words, and of music.

Through the valleys of want some of the most incredible renderings have been produced to reveal more to humanity. Most aspire to greatness, yet fail to walk along a path, choosing comfort and safety of the commercial.

Is real art, the most private kind of work? Where there is no message, but the state of being? This is a time where through much adversity there will be the most incredible works to come. Remember, Paris had vacated the artists, and because of the war, many came to try to rebuild their success over here. Some succeeded, some starved, and some were forced to try to survive in concentration camps and their voices were never heard from again.

The mediums of light and dark, the sweet and the sour, and our current state of alarm are the seeds that can be turned into the muse we seek. For it is out of conflict we grow and it is revealed what really matters. In our state of humility we begin to see the larger truths...those universal ones that we have ignored...those whispers of our heart.

It is one thing to be paid for doing what you love to do. It is another to sacrifice to do what you love...and another to have the courage to live the life you want to have. The displaced community of creative genius who mime their way through other outposts, playing roles of other vocations who scream inside to fuse their words, images, and displays as long discarded dreams...

Of course, there are still dreamers. Waking up in the world of illusionary security being told what is of value in a society that struggles to find its way. What a time to be alive...for a new awakening is beginning. Where there are worlds of currency but no real wealth, except what we bestow upon each other with random acts of kindness without seeking reward.

Yes, this is the greatest resource available...more than credit lines that people have snorted like lines of economic cocaine. There is us...the creators of our own destinies.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Holidays

Christmas Morning

There was a sidewalk troubadour, twelve-string in hand, he said
"Come hear me warm up my guitar..."

A vagabond in tattered old rainbow poncho
Was pushing a shopping cart, a cart decorated with snowman
Reindeer, garland and a sign that read

"Happy Xmas, I'm homeless, please help."
A red, white and blue striped wolf, visible only to me
Moved him down the sidewalk nipping at his heels.

A group movin' to a jazz trumpet and drum said
"He's a taco short of a combination plate!"
Their laughter rose into the sky...

The full moon floated in the sky like a white plate.
I wanted to walk into the mountains
find the place heaven split apart and fell to earth...

But the troubadour sang a Christmas song
of three ships in a harbor on Christmas day in the morning, he sang,
"And all the bells on earth did ring on Christmas day in the morning."

An angel, audible only to me, sang into my ear, "And who
Will ring the bells for the poor on Christmas day in the morning?"
The singer sang on, he was warming up, he sang for me

He sang for the bum,
Christmas morning, Monday night, December 15th.

Rayn Roberts

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let Me Show You Paris

Along the Champs Elysees, where the wealthy come just to shop at Louis Vuitton, you will see a world pass by any cafe in clouds of cigarette smoke mixed with Chanel number 5. My eyes saw the world that is ignored, a woman who prays for the pennies to come in to survive on the streets of Paris. I feel the March rains and think for a moment of my own heartache of waiting for an artist, a friend, and the pain subsides with the stark hunger in the streets. The beautiful lights lose their luster as the well heeled passer-bys mock the woman I find my heart breaking all over again. These were my beginnings in Paris, where I came solely to pursue my passions of writing and love...only to see I could not be blind.
As I found the beacon of the Eiffel calling me, I replicated the picture on my vision board. I found the park at the foot of the Eiffel and was dazzled by the reflection in the water. At night, alone, an Algerian man try to seduce me with butterfly kisses that lacked the passion that could only be answered by a familiar mouth. An imposter's heated heady stare was extinguished by my icey blue eyes. I was not for the plundering of such feeble seductions. A hunter that seemed to approach with sophomoric fumblings. Not even the power of the Eiffel could spare this man's humilation as I rolled into laughter...a woman with a closed heart..and a deadly kiss of a black widow. I winked and watched the lovers and visitors pay homage to the iron maiden. The modern goddess of love.

It was in this secluded square where I fell in love with the brilliant finger of this classical guitarist...and I swooned. There was no audience to speak of, and I stood there, out of his view to listen to him play as he would close his eyes and be enraptured by his own melodies. I wanted to dance and feel the music in my blood. I thought to myself of how so much comes through Paris. Who was I to knock on her gates and proclaim my dreams? I came to write about my search and quests along the way. In a city, a life, foreign to me, who challenges the world...a city of cities, of revolutions, of art, of intellectualism...I hungered to taste Paris.
Across from Notre Dame is Shakespeare and company. The library, the bookstore, the flop house for wayward cash strapped close to the center of Paris. I fell in love again...with the smell of books, stacks upon stacks that I would wrap my arms around. My eyes fell upon a piano that begged for Chopin, and up the stairs I went to a writer's area, cramped, with an impossible typewriter with torn and worn ribbon, a writer's lamp...and an invitation to leave my mark...a dare to proclaim my dreams...

So I did. I return to Paris, I promised her I would return, as lovers do...and I will go and see the real streets and feel the real earth, and look at her with a full walk the streets of artists, of writers, and I realize as long as I breathe...I will write with every bit of passion within me.
For my dream has been realized, and now it is time to build bigger ones. J'adore Paris. I will see you again in 10 days darling.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Just Being

I sat outside with  Monte this afternoon ... and yeah we just ...sat.

We are all staying at my parents at the mo' (house reno's nearly finished) and as a result Monte has a fair bit of stimulation all week.

He has had his fair whack of "No, don't touch that" "Look at this!" and " Come here!" .

He has been grabbed for cuddles,  hands held to try and urge him to learn to walk, pulled away suddenly from the sausage dog and rescued often from the jaws of the dishwasher.

The little sod just wants to make sense of the world around him - but he has giants coming at him from every angle and telling him to "Be Careful!"

 I feel for him!

He is curious about stuff , and so he should be.

So today I took him outside, which is where it is at - as far as he is concerned.

  I said and did nothing.

I didn't pick him up or urge him to look at things I thought he should look at.

I didn't talk to him or give names to the things he was looking at.

I just sat and watched him and let him be.

Let him soak in what he wanted to soak in.

I didn't know just how fascinating a gumnut was until today!

 He looked at gumnuts and leaves in great length and tried clapping a couple together, as he does.

Everything is clappable.

He watched the little butterflies weave around him in fascination.

Every now and then almost hyperventilating from the excitement of it all.

After a little bit  he would look back at me to see if I was looking , give me a smile- and  go back to what he was doing.

I just sat there and watched.

I actually fell into a really tranquil state just trying to see the world through the eyes of an almost 1 year old.

 I really conjured up the power of now.

Ekhart would be proud.

For a few moments I detached myself from my head and just listened to the thoughts going around:

"He should have a hat on, I hope he doesn't eat that gumnut, it's probably too hot...." 

I just let them swirl by without giving them any heed.

I could smell eucalyptus, I could hear buzzing of flies and insects - the hum of the air-conditioner on the roof - birds chattering, I was lying on the grass and above me were great big trees overlooking the river - it was beautiful.

When Monte tried to crawl the gumnuts weren't so pleasant on the knees so he got up on his feet and crawled in the funniest style I have ever seen!

He then gave up.

He looked over at me with the most massive grin.

He crawed over and flopped on me and nuzzled up to me.

I'm pretty sure he was saying "Thanks Mum for just letting me be"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday Afternoon Crawl

It's boiling hot in the car. She swings into a parking bay,switches off the engine and looks around. Her eyes are drawn to a young 'hip' couple. He, pale dreadlocks, cool sunglasses and tattoos, unpacking a mountain bike from the back of his truck. She, already strapped into rollerblades, tanned, also tattooed and wearing a short tight skirt with flat tanned midriff proudly on show. She notices that they are not a couple but rather a trio and smiles at the pink tongue hanging out of their friendly dog's face. The dog is tethered and ready for a race around the lake.

She groans out loud at the thought of moving that fast. She flips the lid on the center console and digs around for her Walkman radio. She untangles the cord of her 20 year old walking companion and anxiously flicks the "ON" button. She fumbles the ear phone into her ear and smiles for the second time. It works! Well it's battered, but it works and she's hanging on to it because it picks up AM radio stations.

There is no delaying it now. It's time to get out of the car and get walking. Another groan escapes as she ambles to the path. The couple with the dog whizz by in a whirl. She watches them speed further and further away until they are just specks. They disappear out of sight and are replaced by a steady stream of speedsters on bikes, running, jogging and rollerblading.

A young woman shouts "Bike!" loudly in her ear and whizzes by. She mentally flips the bird in the direction of the rapidly disappearing girl. That makes her feel better and she smiles her third smile.

She thinks "I am so slow. I can feel my blood cells sticking together lazily, as they oozily bump into each other".

But then she notices the wind in the trees, the Willy Wag-Tails on the wire fence and the cool avenue of shady trees stretching out before her. She leaves her weary slow methodical walking body and is transported.

An old favorite song comes on the radio. She picks up the pace. She smiles and nods to passersby. There are too many smiles to count now. She is in the zone. She notices the water, the swans and the ducks and the pleasant change in temperature that the branches overhanging the path bring. She looks forward to the next shade zone and the next.

Up ahead is the ramp that leads to the bridge that spans the Freeway. Her legs take her up there. She has never been off the path before, so this is unexpected. She admires the sky blue sky and the tall bright white arches of the bridge.

Traffic streams underneath her and she is unnerved. At the other side she sees a wide expanse of lawn and a cricket pitch. To the side is a large shady tree with a bench underneath it. She makes a "B" line for it. Nearby she spies a rather large lizard lying quietly on the grass. She creeps up only to find a torn shred of leopard skin patterned polyester. A shiver runs through her as she imagines how it came to be there. What violent or lustful action has taken place on that bench she wonders? She turns on her heel and makes her way back over the bridge and back to her car. The couple with their friendly dog has long gone. She eases herself into the driver's seat, turns off the Walkman, and flings it into the console ready for next time. No small wonder it's battered she thinks.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Temple as Cage

I don't know why in this white sunlit hour, a tiny bird

flies in the temple I'm visiting
flits ledge to ledge in circles in the ceiling
confused by green paint, wondering where it is.
High electric lamps flood the altar with white light.
Sensing daylight, the bird darts toward them
then quickly back to ceiling time and again.

As I look on and wonder, a monk enters, bows three times,

begins striking a moktak, chanting sacred sound,
the blessed names of Arhat and Buddha.
People come, leave money, fruit, rice and go.
The bird flies ledge to lamp and though now frantic
for the freedom of mountain air, 'til it knows all light
is not sun or sky, the temple is a cage.

I want to tell you I am like the bird or you are: blinded by

false illuminations, but I won't bore you with parables,
we have so many, for what reason I cannot say, nor tell
for what good: they barely dent the surface of the sorry world.
I could tell you the bird is your soul, but that isn't so.
I could risk a metaphor and say the bird is your mind,

but you are already resting on that limb too, no, the bird is

a winged thing that turned on hollow-boned dinosaur wings
into a temple, by accident, cause and effect, maybe both
or maybe it has come to guide all winged creatures
to a day when they too will find peace and liberation--
It appears more imprisoned by its own ignorance
much as I am, making long flights over water and land
The lazy Bodhisattva, blinded by wanderlust and poems

False light and illusions one can never call home.

Rayn Roberts. Korea, 2005
The Poem first appeared in "Of One and Many Worlds", Poetic Matrix Press, 2006.

Friday, December 11, 2009

As Fate Would Have It Or You Would Have It?

In Korea, it seems there are the Christians, the Buddhists, and those that profess no belief in anything. I am amazed with the many who rely on superstitions and fortune tellers to confirm their choices, like finding a floating message in a bottle. In many different versions of belief systems, there is much written about the importance of having a clear mind and vision for yourself. You are the result about what your think about.
In Korea, I have been fortunate enough to do nearly everything on my list, save one thing. That was to visit the artist and writer's colony in Andong. I am so close to it, and yet so far away, the problem is, I can get there, but I have no way to get back. So I chose not to go. That kind of bit me in the butt, cancelling twice because of transportation. However, I can't really be too upset over this. Instead of a week up at Andong, I wrote my little heart out during my 'vacation', which was more like being fused to my keyboard, having writing marathons that left me with as little as two hours of sleep. When I get those 'brain fevers' I loose comprehension of time and sometimes you manage to scrape together some jewels out of the whole journey.
There was a time where I was obsessed with misspelled words, messages on t-shirts that seemed to scream at me to take action. Some of these messages pushed my internal buttons, igniting rages of thought and writing. My own explorations into what I perceived as a deadening of our brains. I was enraged. Had we, as a human race, lost our ability to imagine anything anymore? Even the tag, got under my skin. The contradictions in our society, "Be your own brain; Take to Trend" made me want to start a revolution within myself. How can a writer be original if they only follow trends? Imagination is the most underrated ability we can possess.
Today, I felt like the picture above, "Spew Out Your Worries". Today, I received my working papers for China. I have been officially hired by a University to start teaching in February. I have tried and mostly succeeded in couching those worries. My chief worry, was not about the job. My chief worry was being to continue my writing on my blog, The Lotus Sutra Chronicles, and the other writing projects I have agreed to do. It was with immense relief that I found several other expatriate blogs based in China. I still managed to jump up and down with excitement holding these "work papers". I know what this journey is going to mean for me. I made a huge leap of faith and caught on to the cliff's edge and I am going for it.
The way I look at it is simple. We can line up waiting to have our fortunes told, putting our faith in a complete stranger's words. The other option is to stop and listen to ourselves. The truth about who we are is already inside of us. Spew out your worries and realize that no one else can tell a story the way you can. I don't want to encourage anyone to follow my path. There is an incredible beauty in your own path, and yes, that means spewing your guts once in a while to have courage. Not through fate, but through faith (and hard work).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Writer Capital "W": Intro to Lisa

Lisa aka EcoYogini

Hello! I am so honoured to have been asked to be a part of this sharing and supportive space.

Honestly, I was completely surprised by the concept. "Me? be part of a Writers' group?? But... I'm not a Writer capital W..." It's strange that I'd think this of myself, as with a bit of reflection I realized that at one point in my life I had wanted to be a Writer.

A Canadian, through and through, I grew up in a tiny lobster fishing village in Southern Nova Scotia (population 500, well 499 now). As a child I grew up a part of two very disparate cultures- Acadian (think "cajun" origins, with more French) and Anglophone. Attending a non-private/sorta selective Acadian elementary and highschool completely shaped the person I am today. Heritage and culture are so incredibly a part of who I am and family means everything.

I loved to write and sadly was an odd enough little person that the social trappings of school from primary to 12 were always difficult. As a result, I read and wrote. I remember writing a "book" complete with chapters and "art" in grade five about a trip to New Zealand (which I researched extensively using my encyclopedia... yep I was a nerd). Sadly that saga was not published...

After high school I moved to New Brunswick and quickly learned that English Lit was not for me. I also learned that my writing was terrible... and worked hard to perfect the whole "psychological" way of writing. I graduated with an Honours in Psychology and a minor in French and left my writing dreams firmly behind.

Afterwards I moved to Montreal and completed a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology. This city (and the subsequent crazy love quests and culture) inspired an outburst of creative songwriting. I wrote my favourite melodies and lyrics while alone in my tiny room on Rue Papineau. How I adored Montreal.

Cue a move to central British Columbia (the Okanagan) in which I got a "big girl's job" and I realized that I need the ocean. Two years of living surrounded by overpowering, claustrophobia inducing mountains and I am happily back in Nova Scotia. Breathing in the salty air and feeling the thick mist of the fog on my face. Love.

Along the way I realized that I should have been more of an activist and as a result, EcoYogini was created. I love yoga, although am not so great at it and have other spiritual leanings (Goddessian) and I feel very strongly about the environment. Lille from Woodstock Lily, found me here and since has been so completely supportive of some light of Writer in there that I cannot even begin to know where to thank her.

Lisa in a blog-post. :)

Many Blessings and hope I can nurture this fledgling Writer!

A New Way to Create Book Buzz

Since the release of my novel, "Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever," I've been researching non-traditional ways to promote. I've found a new tool called the Social Media Release (SMR). It replaces the old standard press release and the distribution is quite different. For more information, a sample, and some helpful sites, go to my website and click on my blog.

Be careful what you ask the Universe

Hey, Sharni again - thought I'd share a story I wrote a little while ago regarding a terrifying experience I had - wonder if anyone else has experienced anything like this - and how did they react? I laughed -- out of sheer terror ....
I was going to add a picture here to accompany this - but couldn't find one appropriate...

........Scary Moments...

About three years ago I was down on the ground in the foetal position praying for my life.

Three armed bandits equipped with a gun, a machete and a sledge hammer were standing over some twenty of us drinking in the beer garden at an upmarket hotel in Double Bay in Sydney.

A few seconds earlier we'd heard them shouting “Get down on the F****** ground ” , enforcing the command with a gunshot.

How had I ended up in this mess?

Only three days earlier I left the one horse town I was living in for a brief return to Sydney Town where I had been working and living for several years.

As I packed my overnight bag I was wondering whether this trip might make me feel that I should shut up shop in my quiet little town and return to big-city action.

My first two days were filled with lunches, theatre, clubbing and other twenty-something amusements so on Sunday night after a frantic day of shopping my best Sydney buddy Carly and I retreated to her Rose Bay home to chill out in front of the television.

Time somehow disappeared and at 10.30pm we were still rolled up in our blankets on the couch.

At that point we turned to each other and laughed “Are we grandmas? What are we doing at home, we don’t have to work tomorrow! Lets get amongst it! ”

So after tossing the dice over several likely establishments, as fate would have it we decided on the Sheafe in Double Bay and took a cab to New South Head Road.

At this time of night the hotel is normally overflowing with swanky party people, but we noticed it was oddly quiet.

Perhaps the Universe was trying to warn us?

We ordered some vinos and made our way out to the beer garden to have a relaxing drink with a dozen or so other patrons , some of whom appeared to have been there all day.

Suddenly the quiet buzz of the garden was broken by the most horrific shouting.

My first thought was that it was just a drunken fool – but I turned around to see a vision that hasn't left me yet : three masked men – one yelling “ Get down on the ground” .

At first everyone thought it was just bad street theatre and continued drinking.

“This is not a f---- joke” the bandit yelled and fired a gun to ensure we took him seriously.

Carly and I dropped to the ground clutching each other's hands and falling into the foetal position.

I've watched scenes like this on television, but my real-life reaction was a little less predictable.

Certainly tears were rolling down my face but, probably out of complete hysteria, Carly and I were both
laughing uncontrollably .

At the same time I was thinking how I still had stuff I wanted to do with my life , how much my body was going to suffer when they shot or stabbed me and and, oh God, how I didn’t want to die.

I was thinking of the Columbine Massacre (this was the day before the Virginia Tech one) and suddenly felt empathy with those victims.

At this point I was not seeing this was as a pub robbery – if something went wrong I knew I could be involved in a massacre.

My life and those important to me flashed before my eyes.

I told Carly I loved her and then started praying for my life, all the time in some sort of hysterics.

The sheer terror had us reacting in the strangest ways.. “If they catch us laughing, pretend we are crying” Carly hissed at me.

My heart was racing, my mind was thinking a million things at once.

I could hear the guy lying on the floor next to me calling the police on his mobile, and I was worried that the bandits would include us in their reprisal if they heard him.

If you asked me how long we were down there I couldn’t tell you, but after what seemed years Carly said to me “It’s Ok you can get up now” .She was certainly the calm one of us in this scenario; I was still frozen on the ground.

“How do you know?” I asked as I warily popped my head up.

Then I realised that people were standing once again and that the police and paramedics had arrived.

We learnt later that the bandits had put a knife to the barman’s throat and forced the hand-over of the contents of the safe.

The three had escaped through a getaway car stationed out the back of the beer garden.

Never in my life had I needed a reviving a drink so much.

Talk about sneaking back into Sydney for a quiet holiday!

The question I had put to the Universe: “Should I return to Sydney?” was answered.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have packed so much emotion into that question: a little symbolic sign would have sufficed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hello and Goodbye

Hello everyone. I realized that I asked each and everyone of you to write an intro and include a picture and I never really did that. For those of you who don't know, my name is Katherine Jenkins, but most call me Kathy. I just turned 40 this year. I was born in Bellevue, Washington. I've been writing since I was 10 years old when I received a Little Twin Stars diary from my mom for Christmas....that was 1979. Since then, I have a diary for almost every year of my life. Writing was survival for me for a very long time. Whenever I had a problem or a question or an idea or whatever, I'd write in my journal. My journal was my friend. In high school, I won Outstanding Journalist of the Year and continued to write for the newspaper in college and published some of my poetry back then. I've always been afraid to share my writing, so I've kept it in closets all these years. In January 2009, I decided to come out of the closet and I created my blog, Lessons from the Monk I Married. Yes, I married a former Korean Buddhist monk.

Namaste!-Biking on Lopez Island in Washington State July 4th 2009

My story is a little unusual, so sometimes it's hard for me to tell....but I feel compelled to tell that story and that journey. Several chapters of my book Lessons from the Monk I Married, appear on my blog. So if you are wondering how I ended up in Korea and married to a monk, you can read about it here After living in Asia for 10 years, Korea for 8 and Japan for 2, I moved back to the United States with my husband in 2006. I teach ESL at a local community college and my husband is a yoga teacher in the Seattle area. I spend my days surrounded by people from every corner of the globe. In my classes, which just finished this quarter, I had students from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Somoa, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Congo, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia, Ukraine....well the list really goes on..

I feel, in this life, I want to expand, share, open and understand people from all different walks of life. While I love to create and expand, I also find a need to retreat and gain energy. The world moves so fast these days and I feel a necessity to unplug and stop at times. Tomorrow I will be gone for 10 days of silent meditation.........but please, carry on with your conversations here...I think it is sooo wonderful and I'm so happy to meet all of you here. We really do have a fantastic group of authors. I look forward to catching up on all the reading on this blog when I get back on December 20th. Peace to you all, Kathy

Creating Space for Writing

You're busy right? We all are, so let's get on with it.

Let's consider the possibility for getting some writing done and work/life balance (if such a thing exists). It's one of my favourite subjects. And I'm guessing it's one of yours. You're here right?

Ok let's get down to the nitty gritty. This won't take up alot of your time.

Let's say that you have a partner, +/- children, a career, a job, a mortgage, extended family, friends and other interests , but you want to get some writing done. What you need is some head space. Here's how to create it.

Give yourself permission to create the space you need. If you are like me everyone else comes first. What I'm asking you to do is put yourself first for 4 nights. This is difficult but it is not impossible.

List all possible escape destinations. I go to stay at my parents condo when they are overseas, to destinations within one hours drive of my home, to seaside holiday villas in the middle of winter (it's cheaper), or on planned retreats with other writers.

Plan to go away for at least 4 nights. I take 7 because I know it takes me 48 hours to get into the state of flow. This is when I become so absorbed in my writing that nothing else matters. I know this because I journal while I am away.

Plan your project before you go. One month out, commit to a project. Then gather the resources you need to work on it. Write a plan, and write about what you want to write. If you are going away with other writers meet and discuss plans. It will help you to commit.

Pack all the things you need for writing. Think about your comfort as the first priority. If you are heading off to a cabin you will need a comfortable chair, slippers, you're favourite cup, a printer, extension leads, music etc.

Pack all the things you need for you: good food, fine wine, yoga mat, runners, dvd's, chocolate.

Invite others who need writing space (that would be most writers!). Structure your time and during breaks talk about your writing. Ask for help, edit a piece of their work and have them edit yours. I usually brainstorm headings with other writers. The results can be hilarious, but I always come away with great headings.

Journal regularly during your writing retreat. Write about what you are writing about, how you are feeling, your goals and ideas. Set goals for each day. Before you pack up to come home plan your next retreat.

Finally, don't be reluctant to plan your writing time. The structure is important. It will make you excited about getting some writing done.

G'day from Australia

Thank you Katherine for inviting me to contribute to Writers Rising. Now for a summary of me:

I live just outside Brisbane in Queensland, Australia with my husband and our dog. I've wanted to write since I was six years old and in the last two years I've dedicated most of my time to doing just that. I'm also a gluttonous bibliophile and spend whatever spare time (and cash) collecting books on every topic you can imagine. I've published one short story and am currently writing a novel, but my pride and joy at the moment is my new online journal called Diversity Writers Network, where I will showcase writing (and writers) from across the globe in an effort to celebrate and promote human diversity and tolerance. Diversity has always been an important concept and topic in my life, but I believe that despite our differences we all have similarities that are fundamental to being human. It is to those sensitivities I hope to appeal.
I have my own blog, but I feel it is important to get involved collaboratively with other writers, so I'm pleased to be involved in Writers Rising. We can learn much from each other. I look forward to contributing to as well as reading from this blog.

Sharon Egan

Keeping the Pipes From Freezing

An old bit of folk wisdom I picked up somewhere advises that one keep a slow drip of hot water running through all the faucets in the house during a major freeze. That way, the theory goes, standing water expanding as ice won't cause the pipes to crack and flood your basement. I don't know if this bit of folkloric advice is true or not, but I follow it as if it were. Writing is a little bit like that. You expect that things going on down in the basement are liable to take care of themselves. However, without at least a warm trickle of expression, your internal pipes may freeze...crack...and burst.

I am one of those poor writers cursed with the memory of a few sublime experiences while laboring at my craft; this hampers our ability to partake of ordinary writing, the variety that we writers refer to as "The Work". It is prosaic, unexciting, and necessary. If you are only willing to write when you are on fire and phrases pour out of you like wine, then your catalog will not be long.

This morning, for instance, I had amassed for myself such a great number of chores to do and errands to run - some of a critical nature - that I stood on the brink of not writing at all. Then, the demon Resistance changed tactics and tried to show me the towering prose I had been allowed to transmit during exalted, altered states, and then pointed to a prophecy of what my writing today would be like - just a bunch of tired, trite cliches that would be of no use to anyone. Next, the demon Resistance throws up another barrier by attacking me physically: Often when I am approaching The Work, I feel a powerful, soporific drowsiness steal over me, unbearably intense, that will make me literally fall asleep at the keyboard. Recognizing all of these opposing forces as simply the current I have to swim against to make the daily effort to create, I'm able to float to the surface and ride the current forward. In this, there are equal parts effort and surrender. If I'm going to move forward I have to surrender to the current and let it take me where it wants to go.

It doesn't have to be some kind of finished product with a beginning, middle, or end. It doesn't have to be marketable, or even readable. What matters is that you do it. Everything else follows after that - the surrender to the process is why you are doing this at all, not because someone's going to congratulate you or compliment you or pay you. You will find that the less you write, the less you will be able to write. And even if you are diligent and write every day, you will have days on which you feel as if you're just beginning all over again. Accept that too. Strive for it. A beginner is not burdened with assumptions or wishes (as much). Just do The Work, and if you work diligently, you will eventually find that it is feeding something deep within you - something deeper than your ego. And once that benefit presents itself, you will find that it has a tendency to spread outwards towards others.

It Doesn't Matter....

Yes kiddies, that is me. Yes kiddies, that is General Peter Pace. I was a mother who wore combat boots, so I know a little bit about not accepting failure as an option. There is a beautiful story behind this image. General Pace was my first commander when I once upon a time lived in Miami, Florida for seven years. Like the rest of the nation, I bought into the idea of what we were doing was right at the time. I, like the rest of the world, scoffed at Richard Gere's cautionary words about us plunging head long into this costly war. The irony of being a flower child in military uniform is another story,

General Pace was making his final rounds, touring all of the units he had once commanded in his career before his retirement in 2007. I was always a fan of his speeches, because he kept them human, so I determined to sit as close to the front as possible. He had served for 40 years, and remembered every name of each Marine that had lost their life under his command when he was a young lieutenant. The emotion of serving in a hated conflict and carrying the survivor's burdens for all of those years touched the very core of the audience. I never forgot his speeches, and when he left us to serve up at the Pentagon after 9/11, I told everyone, 'He's going to be our next Chairman of the JCS'. Less than 3 years later, he was the first Marine posted to the position.

How this picture came to be, was actually a funny story. General Pace had just finished speaking and held up a coin, his personal one as an incentive to the person that would ask him his first question. I didn't just raise my hand, I jumped out of my seat. I don't do that for every one, but this was a man I had greatly venerated. I approached the General and whispered something in his ear and the audience gasped as I pushed away the microphone. Somehow the salut was lost and instead he pressed his coin into my hand and we broke into smiles.

Admidst the emotion of the moment, I had almost forgotten to ask my question, until I was reminded by the General. My question, was two words, "What's next?" Those words have been like a boomerang for me, as I finally took off my uniform a few months later.
I fell into my writing as if I had a brain fever. I was not able to control myself. I realized I had to go and do this and forsake a life of perceived security. I have been fortunate to meet Jim Haynes, an incredible ex-patriate author who resides in Paris. I have never sat down to read his biography, but I smiled when I felt like I saw my words in his biography. Synchronicity is wonderful when you see it. I idealized what I thought my life supposed to be, when under the surface, I also knew that I was not following my heart. I was following the illusions of the day.

I have to admit, that looking back, had I known some of the struggles I would be going through, I wonder, if I would have had the courage to make the journey, and at times, the courage to continue. I have great respect for all of the writers on this blog. It does take a certain amount of courage to refine your work. This crazy dream was planted within me at a very young age, but it was always to write about life, and not fiction. It is hard to tell people without sounding self-important about the amazing journey that I have been on. Sometimes I embed my work in poetry. A wonderful poetess, Lena Vanelslander, from Ghent Belgium decided to write with me during this past summer. I just simply said, we publish it, and that is all there is to it. No second-guessing, no doubts, and just create. That was the heart of this project that evolved into "Quills of Fire". The official release date is 10 January 2010. It sounds simple, doesn't it? Really, my friends, it is. You sit down, and you write, edit, and just do it because you believe.
One of my favorite pieces, from this anthology was inspired by an artist, a friend of mine who I frequently correspond with over the past few years. It is my pleasure to share it with you. A leave you with.

Ode to the Unknown of Art

Oh craftsman, the night is spent
Yet the canvas is still wet
Wet with your blood and sweat
Painted before you
are your nightmares and dreams
Those silent prayers and screams

And still, the insanity of creation goes on...

The wordsmith with tools of the new and old
A quill and an inkwell
A cursor that flashes a dare
Create to create
For is it foolishness to covet to be great?

When all is said and done
Isn’t all of creation condemned to die?
Oh we, who spurn to be immortalized
through our works be it in song, verse...
the prose upon a stage...

The charade that is life in an actor’s gaze.

The fortunate ones...the despised...
Who become a shred of what they were
as fame becomes their guise.

Whether known for a moment, a decade or for centuries...
we all become the unknown of art
to become the dust of another...

Far the vault of morbid histories...
just to say we bled, we sweat, and cried untold tears.
For the human hand yields the power to destroy or create.
Who will look upon our works in the span of time?

To be remembered and not known...
for art is the measure of a society.
A power to portray,
perhaps display what we would like to see.

However, do not see this as a futility.
For eternity is not how to measure art...
for truly it is all unknown art that is rendered
and what only but for a moment.

Marilyn Campiz

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hello! My name is...

First, let me say how excited I am about being asked to participate in this group!  Reading the credentials of the other writers on this blog was a bit intimidating, but I decided to close my eyes and jump.
I fell in love with books at a very young age.  I loved to write when I was still in grade school, making up simple stories for my eyes alone.  During my junior high years, my focus shifted to writing songs and poetry.  Strumming my guitar, sharing my original compositions with any friends that would listen, I dreamed of being a song-writer; but I never had the confidence to pursue it for a career.

My high school teachers often told my mother that I should be a writer.  However, they never told me!  (I learned of this only recently when my mom told someone else.)  I loved Lit classes, and still wrote my songs and poems, occasionally tossing in a short story.  Sadly, I never considered it more than a hobby.

Through my young adult years, I worked various jobs while raising my only child, a daughter.  My writing became almost non-existent, except for the time when, in my thirties, some college courses reignited my love of writing.  Even though my instructors gave me the highest marks, and encouraged me to enter my essays into local contests, I still lacked the confidence to actually do it.  At one point, I started writing a novel.  After about three chapters I lost steam and put it away.

Now I'm in my fifties and have finally found the confidence to pursue my life-long dream.  I am over fifty-thousand words into my manuscript.  And I have a plan!  Perhaps I'll share about that next time...

I currently write three blogs:  a farm blog, an essays blog (my miscellaneous site) and a blog about my pursuit of becoming a published author.

The Heaviness of Words

what are word for?Image by Darwin Bell via Flickr

Bach in school, I hated Latin. I had to study it at the Uni also, but if you ask me today, I forgot all the declinations and ablatives and such. What stayed in my memory are the proverbs. I remember a lot of them, and especially the one that says "Verba volant, scripta manent", that means, roughly translated, "Spoken words fly away, the written ones remain".
I love words. I respect them. I love and respect the ones that know how to use them to give us pleasure. As a journalist, they were the matter with which I created something. Something that remained. I am in awe of the written word. I can resist longer without food than I can without reading, without a book. I taught myself to read when I was six and I haven't stopped reading ever since. When I was seven I wrote my first short story and I dreamed of becoming a writer. I haven't stopped dreaming... I am not a writer and I don't think I'll ever be. I condemned myself to a dreamer's status the moment I renounced my native language and had this illusion I'll be able to write in a language that is not mine to share. I struggle like I'm drowning but I'm afraid I am no partner in this match.
I am a feeler. Before I write something, I feel it. Sometimes even the smell of a certain thing triggers waves of words, just like in Proust's "A la recherche du temps Perdu". My problem, though, is that many times I find myself wordless. I feel the emotions trying to materialize into words, to break free from my mind, and I just can not express them. Because they mainly want to come out dressed in Romanian and I force them to wear borrowed clothes that just don't fit.
The heaviness of words just crushes me and leaves me powerless. I pray to God asking Him to lift this curse, to let me breathe, to let me live. I am burried deep in a forest of words with nothing but a mere scissors to make my way through it.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

I haven't changed much

Many thanks to Kathy for inviting me to contribute to Writer's Rising. I can see I am in good company. Kathy asked me to introduce myself in my first post. At the age of 44 I don't have an impressive biography. I do have a good education, good relationships, somewhere nice to live, good health, and a purpose. I'm not going to say much more about those things here. Instead I'm writing about the 2 things about me that haven't changed in nearly 40 years. I figure that these things are very essential and core information about who I really am, so they will suffice as my introduction as a new contributor on Writer's Rising.

The first core truth about me is that I love the natural world so much that I collect souvenirs.
Picture this. A blood red 2 door Torana. My lovely mother in a head scarf,and my handsome dad driving. Five (yes 5!) children aged 5-8.5 years in the back seat. Yummy foods, drinks, a blanket and some Lazy Boy chairs in the boot. Destination? Weekend family picnic.

Imagine this. The winding roads and sharp bends leading to the picnic grounds are exaggerated by the pile-up of kids against the 'lucky' two with the window seats. Car sickness complaints are rising from the back seat in anticipation of a travel lozenge doled out to 5 sweaty hands.

Here is a photo of my sister and I aged 6 and 5 years at one of our weekend family picnics. We are holding hands and shyly smiling. Our outfits are identical from the shoes up and so are our haircuts. I am the younger sister on the right. My sister's right hand grasps my right hand and in my left I am holding something. It's difficult to see what it might be. Recently, as I scanned this photo and it was magnified on my laptop screen, I realised that I was holding a small blossom.

Forty years later and my sister and I rarely, if ever, hold hands. We have different tastes in clothing and very different hair styles. But I still bring home souvenirs from my almost daily forays into the natural world. At the moment I have a bottlebrush in a glass near my kitchen sink. Tomorrow it will be something else. Yesterday it was a large fragrant pine needle branch and the many days of nature walks before have seen feathers, shells, flowers, and bright autumn leaves find a home on my sink. When I look at these momentoes throughout the day I am transported back to my walk. Loving nature and bringing it home with me is something I have always done and will probably always do.

The second essential and enduring thing about me is that I love and respect the library and its contents. I know how dorky and nerdy that sounds believe me. Let me explain.

When my 4 siblings and I were growing up our lives were very routine. My mum was a nurse from the 'old school', so breakfast was at 7am, morning tea at 10am, lunch at 12, afternoon tea at 3pm and dinner at 6pm. Mass every Sunday and every Friday night was a whole family trip to the library and fish and chips for dinner.

We lived in a small seaside town so the fish and chips were good. Along with enough chips for a family of seven we ordered potato scallops, fish and sometimes dim sims. These were eaten at home later with pickled onions and fresh white bread. Five Twin Pole icecreams were paid for and wrapped in newspaper ready to collect with our order.

While the fish and chips fried we all went to the library. This was the highlight of my week. I loved the silence, the order and the anticipation and smell of the books.

We were allowed 3 books each so that meant that 15 books came home for the week. I learned to read at age 3 to keep up with my older siblings. There were many whispered discussions in the library stacks before we all agreed about what was coming home that week. The chosen 15 were shared around. Subjects varied from cricket and football to sewing and the Famous Five series. By the time we had all finished primary school we had read every book in the kids section a few times and had moved on to the adult section. At home we read comics and magazines and the newspaper. We each had a book case in our bedrooms filled with books, and we had quiet reading time for 1-2 hours in the afternoon during the holidays and on weekends.

Today I read at least 2 or 3 books a week. This has helped me get through a University degree and post graduate studies. I still love the library. I have worked in the University library as a student searching for rare books, retrieving books from basement collections and scanning and sending articles and chapters to external students. I love entering a library and feeling the excitement of bringing a few books home with me. Reading has helped me find solutions for many of the problems I have had. There is always someone going through something similar and there is always someone writing about it.

Words Become Honey

I remember sitting in my 5th grade class when the teacher asked us to compose a short story. She may as well have told me I could skip ahead 6 grades--this was how giddy, and ecstatic it made me. With little legs swinging joyously under the desk, I set about to capture in words the onslaught of imagery that filled my head onto paper. My imagination took a flying, soaring, roaring delicious leap, with chapters, and chapters of adventures for my characters to fulfill. In my mind's eye, I saw an entire book in vivid movie form not "just" a short story.

Somehow I missed the part where she told us we had only an hour to achieve the writing task. When she told us to pass our papers forward, I nearly fainted. It was like I had drawn an elaborate picture, and then had my crayons abruptly taken away before I could finish coloring it. I got a D. Not because of my writing, but because I didn't turn in a complete story with a beginning, middle, and conclusion. [insert a BIG sigh here] I was crushed but not entirely squashed. I went home and continued to work on it anyway. That's when I first discovered my passion for writing. I've been chasing it with a butterfly net full of paper and pens ever since.

Three years later, at age 13, I wrote my first song. It was 1965 a year after the Beatle's Invasion. The kids in my class told our teacher I'd written a song, and much to my surprise, she asked me to get up in front of the classroom, and sing it for everybody. Shyness nearly robbed me of that moment of glory but wobbly kneed, and with a weak voice, I did it. The kids loved it but I'm sure the teacher had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. For me it was a taste of honey I've hungered for ever since.

Beatle boots and a surfer haircut
That's what I like
Tight pants and a leather jacket
Riding on a motor bike

There was more to the song I just don't remember it. I'm surprised I remember that much of it. I even remember the melody, and could sing it to you some 44 years later. But don't ask me what I ate for breakfast yesterday. I'd be hard pressed to tell you.

That's me in the picture performing at a beauty pageant in SO CA in 1970 at age 17. I wrote, and sang a song I composed. The next day, the newspaper headline said, "New Queen Can't Read Or Write Music But She Can Compose". I received my first standing ovation, and won the competition which led me to compete in the next leg to the Miss California pageant. I didn't win that next pageant but a new dream of writing simmered under my rhinestone crown, and filled my mouth with honey once again.

That dream never left me, and I did indeed grow up to become a singer-songwriter with nearly 25 years under my belt of singing professionally. I've recorded three projects/albums and toured nationwide. You can check out my photo journal here that highlights my bands, and documents my steps along the way. Out of that journey I realized writing in all forms was like medicine to my soul. Seven of my short stories have been published and my forthcoming book, "Six Days to Haight-Ashbury" is as good as it's gets for a girl who's favorite song is Over the Rainbow.

"Six Days To Haight-Ashbury"

A young girl sticks her thumb out to find the Summer of Love

Lille Diane's forthcoming book chronicles one of the most colorful times in history during the last century--the magical sixties. In 1967 the California freeways were lined with hippies seeking ways to tune out, and turn on to freedom from the establishment. Like 100,000's of young people, Lille stuck her thumb out on a freeway on ramp to find peace, and love in San Francisco's historical Haight-Ashbury district. Those six days became a lifetime to a 16 year old girl.

"Riveting, and real!" readers say. Take a trip back in time to see what all the fuss was about, and to find out what she was running from.....

To read an excerpt click HERE.

My blog Woodstock Lily has given me yet another outlet to use writing but this time as a healing balm. After a bad auto accident in May 2008 I was diagnosed with PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. I'm using writing, art, photography and blogging to help me jump back into life again.

Thank you, Kathy, for inviting me to be a part of this writer's group. I feel like swinging my child heart's skinny legs under my desk, and humming a tune loudly for all the world to hear. That's how happy I am to be a part of this. Thank you fellow writers, for I know inspiration will drip like honey from each one of you. How exciting to have a place to come together, to meet, to grow, and to cheer each other on. I'll stop by to visit your blogs or websites, too. Now I know ya'll are dying to ask me.... go ahead.... ask me to sing that song I wrote in the 5th grade... you know you wanna.

Biography: Rayn Roberts

I've been asked to post a bio so people know me better. I have a profile on here in case anyone wants more.... Here you go:

Rayn Roberts moved to Seattle from Asia where he lived and worked in Japan and Korea for 15 years; the last 8 out of 9 years in Korea. He appears in print and online in Rattle, The Sow's Ear Review, Voices in Wartime, PoetsWest, Chronogram, The Pedestal Magazine, Rattapallax and other journals plus four anthologies.

His poetry is heard on radio in PoetsWest programs and is available on CD from PoetsWest in Seattle. In 2006, Celestial Arts, Berkely/Toronto, included him in their book, "Illuminations" on interfaith understanding. His last book, “Of One and Many Worlds” and others are available from Poetic Matrix Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and numerous small book dealers.

It's About Time

I know, I know, it's about time I start posting...So..O.K..I am a very shy person..Here we go....In the beginning, I'll say a huge "thank you" to Katherine for inviting me here and another equally big "thanks" to the other members, for having me here.

Now, the hard bit...something about myself...where to start? I was born in Romania 44 years ago and I am currently living in Israel (long story, another time). I am a former journalist that tried to be an English teacher (in Israel) and failed with flying colors! I am currently a staying at home mum, and of course, I am called "imaaaaaaaa" (mother in Hebrew) by my three years old baby-girl Maya and my 24 years old son, Darie.

Back in Romania, in my glorious days as a journalist I published a book, a traveling/history/personal experiences type about Israel. It is called "Between the Central Bus Station and The Wailing Wall". But that was a long time ago, in another life...Now, I am working at a big, secret project, a fiction book, and it is really big for me as I attempt to write it in English...I am training my hand in writing here: where I watch my life unfolding before my eyes, where I can go and live among my memories from time to time...
That is for now...I'll be back soon. now I have to go to take Maya from the kindergarten. So glad to be here!