Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Extensions and Excuses

Quote of the Day: 
A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet taken in anxiety.

Current Local Weather: 
100% chance that hot weather will linger
until all humans in the Springs-area melt away.

Currently on my iTunes: 
"Just Another Parade"
Belly of the Sun
Cassandra Wilson

Currently Reading: 
Cheryl Strayed

Dear Friends, Family and my Family of Friends, 

How are you? Yeah? Me, too. As a matter of fact, stressed isn't the word for it. Stress has become more of an anomaly to me than not as of late. But it is what it is. I've been involved in so many things that it is taking its toll. Big time. And this time, thank the heavens, it's not taking a toll on my physical health, just my mental health. As you all know, my physical health has never been great but just for updating for update's sake, it's doing much better. 

This blog has nothing to do with my physical health. **you can breathe your collective sigh of relief.**

Lately, I've been sorting out my priorities. Last time I was this over-extended, I posted THIS blog on serenity. I've been trying, desperately so, to find time within my schedule to find me. To be me. And to figure out, yet again, what that means in the ever-changing landscape of my little earth. One thing you'll notice that's different about this blog is that I'm posting what I'm reading in addition to my listening list. I'm doing this for those that don't have a clue when it comes to picking books up off of the shelf. I hope you'll read some of my suggestions....

A good friend and colleague of mine, Kevin Doughten recently pointed me in the direction of a book titled, Tiny Beautiful Things. This is the book that resulted from the infamous advice column, Dear Sugar

It is filled to the brim with beautiful tales, stories and sarcastic, dry-humored advice. Her words flew off the page and into my ears. I needed to hear her words peppered with "radical empathy." 

Personally, I think ANYONE that needs "advice" on love, regardless of the facet of love that's plaguing you, should get this book. Put it on your nightstand, on your table next to your toilet, on the coffee table and even in your car in case you're ever in enough of a traffic jam that you can take time out of your schedule and read. **pure bliss**


What I've been trying to figure out, among this creative chaos in my life, is this: If there isn't one person that's made for us in this world (at least I'm starting to believe this is true), then how can we possibly be one person to everyone in our world? Wait, before you start scoffing, let me elaborate. 

When I originally wrote this blog, I was hiking. I wrote most of it in my head on the way up the trail, found a good resting place...stopped, sat down, pulled out my paper and pen and, yep, you guessed it, wrote it all down. I work better that way. TO give you a better picture of what I look like and what I observe when I'm in the woods, I wrote this: 

I'm sitting amongst the wooded shelter and on top of cool rocks on the side of a steep hill that, at first glance, looks dangerous, obtuse and too high to climb in my average sneakers. But if you look close enough you'll see that the rocks begin to marry one another as they get higher up on the slope. They create a series of sturdy steps and eventually those steps mold into chairs and desks and resting places for those that dared climb them. 

Below me is dirt. Cracked and dry and muddled with shades of black, yellow and rusty umber. Miniature trees are blowing around, talking to one another with their leaves. It's as if those trees are a bunch of giddy women in a dressing room, trying on new, hopeful pieces of a wardrobe for the change in season. 

To the side of the mini-tree sorority, a flower is growing out of the side of a rock. It doesn't appear to have any origin other than the granite. It is strong with tiny yellow buds. Berries are on the bush next to the rock above the flower. They're tempting and succulent. Too red for their own good. There's just enough sunlight over my left shoulder so that I have to squint to write and just enough for me to worry about the fact that I did NOT bring sunblock. It is obviously going to be hot later in the day. To the west and right of me there are clouds that offer a slight promise of rain despite the dapper dryness of the moment. 

My notebook is in my lap, home-brewed green tea is sitting on my rock desk in a Nalgene bottle and there is already ink on my fingers from an earlier mishap with the pen in my hand. I've forgiven the pen. Maybe it was just excited to see me. The paper is breathing patiently as Ben Williams plays quietly in my ear buds. I feel like I know Ben even though I haven't met him. His music is very tangible in an intangible way. 

The trail I took to get here looks easy from where I sit although I know it wasn't. My heart is still pounding in my chest because of it. Water is running somewhere in the distance and I is early...Mother Nature must be bathing her children before they leave the shelter of her home. 

I close my eyes and breathe and then write. To you. For you. 

Without each component the well-orchestrated scene above wouldn't be what it was for me yesterday. If it had been more hot, it would have been uncomfortable. Had it been too steep and no rocks offered their extended hands to help me up, I would have stayed on the trail and blogged from the comfort of my home. Some of the parts of the scene above work by themselves but there isn't really a single description or word that can serve purpose in this picture if used without an accompanying word. 

So why should we come to expect that one person can complete the bigger picture in our own life? And I'm not talking about just romantic big pictures with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and successful little book shops that turn into multi-million dollar corporate conglomerates. 

I'm speaking on behalf of your whole circle of friends and family. All of your friends online, off-line, off-the-grid, those who have your back and take you back. And for the hell of it, let's say we're talking about your animal friends, too. 

The driving force in my life, why I do anything I do, is my family and friends. I've had the privilege to gain, lose and become friends with a number of great lovers. I want to give more and receive less so that my friends and family can in-turn give more, too. I wish I could buy everyone more of the intangibles in life. Love is love is love regardless of how it begins or ends and it always feels great when you're in the thick of it. Yet tethering this vast and great responsibility to a single soul or object in your life will eventually weigh you and the ball at the end of the tether rope, down. 

It's time to let loose and shred the clothes that dress your mentality of your past notions of what love, serious and not so serious love, look, act, feel and smell like. Let a whole host of people in your life lift you up when you're down. Gather with others to lift those you love, up. Don't pin the responsibility, just as you wouldn't do it to another person, only on yourself. 

Too many men and women, especially in this generation of post-divorce livelihoods, look for love with an eye kept out for someone that meets all possibilities of "perfection" in the next best coulda-shoulda-woulda that comes along. Instead I am challenging myself to forge through without that expectation and instead forgive myself and the mistakes I've made thus far in my own search for friends, lovers, and more. I worry that if I don't do this, I will always be searching for something that is gone, absent and disappointing before it even begins. 

I love the song, One by: Harry Nilsson. 

One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do...
Two can be as bad as one, as its the loneliest number since the number one...

It's true though. So how 'bout it? Instead of searching for one, we search for many. We find time to extend our love and get rid of the excuses for the person in our life that isn't living up to "being the one." Let's find space carved into the sides of mountains, desks made out of rocks and orchestrations and symphonies out of the streams and solace in walking with a friend or comfort on the ledge more than behind the ledge.

As my favorite onesie that Natalie Poo wears, says, "Choose Happy," on the front and "I am 100% Compatible with My Mommy," on the back. Be compatible with who you have around you and make the most of it. Allow air to be your security; a bed, roof and full belly to redeem each night from the hard day you had.

I know for a fact that it doesn't matter how much that lonely number re-enters your life, if you over-extend your true worth, that ONE thing that makes you, you and worth the world, you will find a result that creates unhappiness, possibly bad breath and wart-laden hands. And all the kind debt you rack up by being everything to everyone will ruin your credit and become too much to pay for the income you bring in.

Allow yourself to be a part of the company of greatness without losing the greatness that is you.

Yours in Trees, Trespassing on trails and Truly Trying to Take Time For Those That Matter,


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Announcement & Change in October 2012 Retreat

Quote of the Day:
Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. 
Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end of the day.
 ~Winston Churchill~

Current Local Weather: 
Massive mountain-shaped clouds
patiently waiting for the words and water to arrive. 

Currently on my iPod: 
Teeth in the Grass
Iron and Wine

Dear Friends, Family and my Family of Friends, 

     Is anyone else out there tired of this hot weather? For Colorado, it's very unusual to have this much heat in a single season. I'm thankful for the rain and cooler nights, but the days have been difficult to handle. I think it's turned everything that's lovable about this state into an unrecognizable beast at times. Personally, I don't react well to heat. At all. Ask anyone who lives with me or near me or knows me well, heat is my enemy. I thrive in the cooler temps, mild temps with a cool breeze and I think I'm in heaven. 

This summer, I believe, everyone in Colorado would agree, has been particularly difficult to handle. As an artist, I find it almost impossible to create or bring to life any ideas when under intangible stress. Whether it be the weather, events beyond my control or general dark clouds of unhappiness above me, my ability to function is not just below capacity, it's absent. I know I'm not the only artist in the world that deals with this issue. In light of the darkness that's overcome a lot of Colorado in the past two months, I have made an executive decision in regards to the October Writing Away Retreat in Breckenridge. 

I have decided to change it into an artist's getaway. All of the proceeds from this retreat will go to directly to the Red Cross to benefit the families affected by the Aurora Shootings and the Waldo Canyon Fire

Here are the details: 

Due to economic decline & Mother Nature's recent rampages throughout Colorado, Writing Away Retreats is taking a break from its usual routine to offer five days of R&R & time to work on individual projects to literary artists (both nonfiction and fiction), poets, musicians and visual artists. The retreat will take place from October 4th-8th at the Little Mountain Lodge in Breckenridge, CO. For the first time in its six-year history, Writing Away Retreats will be a traditional retreat...For one price, this all-inclusive retreat is complete with 3 gourmet comfort foodie meals/day, snacks galore, open beer, wine, coffee and tea bars, amazing scenery and more. There will also be plenty of time to focus on your work-in-progress, escape to the beautiful outdoors, enjoy the company of other creative types, & simply relax.
If you’re interested contact Cicily Janus right away. Space is very limited.

Prices are as follows:  Private Room: 675.00 single occupancy, 775.00 double occupancy  Shared Room: 450.00 Bunk Room: 350.00 

You can sign up and see pictures of the lodge on Go to registration and register but ignore the request for a sample of your work and instead just write the type of artist you are in the sample box and then ignore the payment prompt or check any box. Please specify what type of room you would prefer to stay in.

You will be invoiced the above amounts for the specified room upon acceptance into the retreat.  If you need art supplies at the house, please let me know and we can order them ahead of time so you don't have to travel with them. I can easily add your supply bill to your invoice and you can pay it all at once. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Cicily Janus at or call her cell at 719.323.3469. Also, if you register to attend Author Fest of the Rockies at you will automatically receive 15% off of your tuition to attend this retreat. Mention your registration for Author Fest on your registration form and your invoice will reflect the discount. I also offer military, education and hardship discounts. Please don't hesitate to inquire about them.
DON'T LET FINANCIAL ISSUES DISCOURAGE YOU! Let's work it out so you can attend and get away this fall.

Payment plans can be arranged.

Please pass the word along about the retreats to any artist you know. If you would like to send somebody or sponsor someone's tuition so they may attend, please contact me and let's make it happen. I fully believe in the power of being able to get away, relax and refresh your soul and how it can affect your life for the better.

Let me help add fuel to the creative fire within you. Trust me, you won't regret this, at all. And if you bring a group with you or if you want to get away with a writing group or reading group etc...or visual arts co-op or class etc., I will surely give a group discount.
Help me, help you.

Yours in Retreats, Rethinking the Reasons and Restarting the Fire,


PS: I'm partial to the retreats because they're my brainchild. Of course I think they work wonders! They always do for me...but don't take my word for it, instead, take these folks and their words:

"Words Fail...there aren't many venues out there that provide such a safe and comforting environment for creativity..." ~J. Gilstrap, 2012

"I can't tell you how much this experience has encouraged me and changed my perspective. I feel like I lost a part of who I was and here I found myself again. This is truly priceless to me." ~J. McQuade, 2009

"I have just spent the last week living (and working) in a Muir landscape. It has been fantastic, and one of the few experiences of adult life that lived up to the fairy-tale expectations of youth. Thank you!" ~E. Schneider, 2008

"Before the retreat, I had been through some challenges...please know that my experience at the retreat, at a deep level, helped me overcome these challenges and emerge ever more dedicated to writing." A. ~2009

"For the first time in a long time I have a dream for the future that's now mine for the taking!" ~B. Pedas, 2009