Tag Archives: stories

Uncovering Great Stories …

24 Apr

Celebrating words and their magical effect on our lives under the California sun created a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

Every year, we find our way through the mazes of people and books to create our own weekend adventure. Sometimes the moments are simple, other times they’re exciting fireworks style encounters, either way we always look forward to this book lover’s tradition.

We look forward to what this festival will uncover. Sometimes it’s all about meeting a special author, other times it’s about discovering a new story, or running into my kid’s favorite super hero, sometimes it’s about exploring the science stations, or cooking demonstrations, and sometimes it’s about witnessing a great performance on stage. This weekend we were lucky enough to experience it all, although the Caped Crusader was missing … probably solving a crime though.

It was our yearly outing to the Festival of Books and the fact that we didn’t have a meltdown definitely ranked as a Top-10 Outing.

But the one special surprise that snuck its way into our hearts was discovering The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now if you know anything about kids, you know that rock, paper, scissors is a major tie-breaker decision maker around here. So when we uncovered the origins of this very funny story, mom scored some points. If you have kids I strongly encourage you to read this one. The fact that we met the author and got it signed? Mom got a high-five for that one. The fact that we got four of our books signed? Yup. It was chocolate time.

So as I sat there on the grass, under a tree, listening to the band on the nearby stage, unloading our reading treasures and eating the goods from our homemade picnic, I thought … definitely a moment to be captured on film. Definitely a moment to be grateful for … definitely a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

 

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The Adventure begins …

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Checking out some authors …

 

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Hitting the stage to rock some children’s music …

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I loved checking out this wall … can you find ours?

 

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My kids thought this would be a great book for me …

 

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I decided to pick that up plus a couple of freebies 🙂

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We stopped by to spread some kindness during our book loving tour …

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Before departing we left our mark on the wall of books …

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Our awesome loot at the end of the day …

Yup … it was a 10 out of 10. High five mom.

 

 

Dia De Los Muertos Inspires A New Conversation

1 Nov

I think about the clicking-clocking sound he used to make when his tongue would hit the roof of his mouth. NUK! He’d knock-knock-knock my forehead simultaneously … you know during one of my McFly moments. My Uncle Erick.

And I think about my Dad and how he used to call me Canela  and how he’d start smiling even before I told the joke.

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My Dad and Uncle Erick back in the 70s

The two most important dudes in my life growing up, with the exception of the tallest Texan I know, he hails from Lubbock and has his own story, which I’ll share later. But today … today I talk about My Dad and Uncle Erick, today I talk about their stories because Dia De Los Muertos celebrates their spirits and everything they brought to my life.

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They’re on my mind every day, especially when I feel how life could have been so much better if they were still around. And after surviving my Halloween Hangover (why was Halloween on a Monday anyway … KitKat overload) I took a moment to celebrate their lives by sharing some vintage Polaroids and Kodak moments with my kids, accompanied by the stories and adventures behind those pictures.

Whether it was hiking waterfalls in Guatemala, road tripping that had multiple detours, watching SC football on Saturdays, toasting pumpkin seeds on Halloween, or listening to the Bee Gees, Billy Joel, or KC & The Sunshine Band, each adventure added something to my life.

And I miss it, I miss them. I miss the conversations and the reminiscing that brought laughter.

As always it hit me in the pit of my stomach. I celebrated them, and talked about their lives, but was also sad in the end. So I was glad to have come up with a new story about them. A piece based on their lives, inspired by my Uncle Erick.  It’s a conversation. My piece is about a conversation they probably had while my Uncle Erick was growing up. It’s about the advice my dad would have given him and the interesting way he’d go about doing it.

It’s a comedy, of course.

And although this conversation never took place I can totally see it happening because I can hear their voices. I can totally imagine them going through this exchange.

So, on this very special Dia De Los Muertos celebration, I was inspired to write a piece about the two men in my family who I learned from the most.

I’ve even submitted it somewhere … so hopefully their conversation, their story, their journey continues and makes other people laugh in the process.

I’ll keep you posted on that.

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Negatives and Positives and Girl Scout Flashbacks

18 Mar

Good things don’t usually come out of bad experiences. I mean they may come afterward but I usually have to work at it in order for something to happen.

It just doesn’t come out on its own, I have to find the lesson.

I have to search for the funny in it. My lens changes and I’m on the lookout and eventually … it happens. I find strength, awareness, thicker skin, appreciation for myself, acceptance that failure happens and I get back up. I find something immeasurable that contributes to me as a person.

But this time … this time I found opportunity.

Like most writers certain places, people, or experiences spark inspiration and the story just comes out. You weave fact and fiction into your storytelling and at the end you’ve created something out of a negative experience. Could be a great story, could just be writing therapy, or it could be both.

I found that one of my previous writing sessions fueled by familial dysfunction turned into therapy, which turned into laughter, which turned into a short play, which turned into a writer’s opportunity.

This week I was notified that my short play had been accepted into a 10-Minute Play Festival at one of theaters downtown.

I had a total high-five moment when I read the email … for once … it wasn’t a it’s-not-you-it’s-me rejection letter. It started off with … Congratulations. So after having a quiet celebratory moment I woo-hooed myself. I was able to bring about something positive, from such an emotionally draining experience.

I celebrated the news and kept this happy moment to myself for a while before telling a few friends and while I was quietly smiling at this moment I had flashback.

I was in the fourth grade, I was a girl scout, and I had gone camping to the big girl scout wilderness camping pow-wow convention. On the last day of workshops and badge earning festivities each troop needed to have a talent to present on stage. Some groups sang, others danced. Apparently my troop decided to act.

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Does anybody have any ideas for our play? Who wants to help write it?

And there it was … the spark.

While others wanted to be on stage, in front of the crowd, I wanted to be behind the scenes. So I scribbled down notes, dialogue, and action. We practiced a little bit and then they hit the stage.

I stood next to my troop leader, Maria, hugging her in excitement and angst, squirming just thinking about how my words were gonna be out there. She smiled and hugged me back as we watched it unfold.

“It’s gonna all right,” she said.

It was the first time I saw my words live and in action. And it was all right. People laughed at the funny parts. People smiled. And some people didn’t, and that was all right too, because I was still smiling. I had done it.

And now years later I was gonna get to do it again. That has brought back the fourth-grade-girl-scout-giddy feeling and for that I am grateful. Something positive did come out of something negative.

It’s totally possible.

 

 

 

Thanks Cheryl … Now I Remember, I Just Haven’t Accessed Them Yet

13 Nov

It was like I had to do it.

I mean I could have done it tomorrow in light of day, just catching moments of time here and there, but I thought it was best to soak it in all at once and have a moment. A wow moment, a self-discovery moment I knew would take place because it had happened before. It had happened with other great books in the quiet of the night, other books that gave me moments of reflection, moments of change at just the right time.

So I wanted another one.

I had to do it. I had to find out what happened in the end, I mean I know what happened, she got to the bridge. But what really happened, how did it feel? What did it change? Because even though I hadn’t walked, run, or hiked those hundreds of miles on The Pacific Crest Trail, I had changed with her.

37 pages.

That’s all I had left after chipping away for months on Cheryl Strayed’s novel, Wild. 37 pages. Didn’t seem like much, just a thin sliver, but for a slow reader like myself that seemed like a chunk and in the end, a chunk is what it was because so much had happened in those 37 pages.

And I needed to tell someone, tell my own personal community book club that no one knew they were a part of until the read the first sentence of this post.

I needed to share.

Not that anyone would read it right away, or that anyone would read it in its entirety but I felt like this has become my own little support group, filled with people I’ve never met, but at the same time filled with people who also know parts of me. Well … I did meet Susie. Bonus.

But this community of writers, and artists had become a place where running to share something awesome that happened to you because you know that somewhere out there something just as awesome has happened to someone in return and they can relate to you. Whether they’re in California, England, Boston, or Australia. Someone relates.

So I found myself at 11:59 p.m. sitting there having a moment. I had just been part of Strayed’s journey, she brought me along the her 1,100+ mile Pacific Crest Trail adventure describing the forests, mountains, skylines, lakes, trees, wildlife, and moonlit nights that transformed her.

For those of you who haven’t read it and want to, this might be the place to stop…for the rest of you…

This was definitely the story of someone who seemingly had everything health, family, college, and the love of a good man–a good husband. But that all went to crap after the heartbreaking death of her mother. Affairs, betrayal, divorce, heroine, all these bad choices found this girl at the bottom and so far away from her center she had no idea where her internal compass had gone, and she had no idea how to get back until she discovered a simple guidebook to Pacific Coast Trail while waiting in line … it was this guidebook that sparked the idea that eventually changed her life. It reminded of the movie I had seen awhile back, the one that had made such an impact, The Way, starring Martin Sheen.

They were both physical journeys that impacted the emotional levels of each character, it changed their spirit and helped them find their center. It helped both of them come to terms with the things that happened in their life.

And even though the journey had great discoveries it also had exasperating moments, like when Strayed accidentally dropped one of her hiking boots over a cliff and all she could do was hug the other one really tight, the only other hiking boot she had left, before chucking it over in utter frustration. I found myself thinking … dude that would have totally happened to me.

But at the end the losing the boot didn’t seem to matter much, it was part of what was supposed to happen in order to get her to that spot. At the end when she reached the Bridge of Gods and eventually found herself sitting on that white bench, eating the ice cream and having her moment, feeling like she knew certain things in her life would come to pass, even though she hadn’t accessed them yet, she knew they would come, that she would be all right. She knew and she was full of gratitude.

At that point, I remembered Ayers Rock in Australia. I remembered having my own mini adventure in Uluru. I remembered the roundabout walk around Uluru, the 10K, the feeling of peace as I touched to the magical sandstone, the feeling of awareness, the presence, the stories told by my aboriginal guide, the quiet I felt as I sat on the wooden bench when it was over. The gratitude in knowing the trip had changed my life and the knowledge that I’d be all right no matter what was waiting for me when I got back.

Strayed took me back to a moment that had slipped my mind, a moment after my own journey that I needed to remember. Strayed reminded me or parts that are yet to come … they’re there … I just haven’t accessed them yet.

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