Saturday, March 28, 2015

Moth Memories

I'm late for a very important date!

I agreed to a challenge from Beauty Flows regarding pollinators, and I can't find the photo I was going to use. So, I'll have to share some stories instead.

Butterflies have always had a magical quality to me--and probably for most--which is why they are such a loved insect. I've heard that when a butterfly lands on you, you get a wish. I wonder if the same goes with moths?

When I was thirteen-ish years old my family had regained a hunting/fishing lodge in the Medicine Bow National Forest. My mother, sister and I were driving on the very wet and muddy early-summer roads, and got stuck. We ended up walking six miles in the mountains to get to the lodge and get help to free the car. It was a long, wet (because it sprinkled on us the whole time) journey.

On one of our frequent breaks, we sat on a log at the side of the road. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge, grey, fuzzy moth the size of a desert plate appeared fluttering down the road. I'd never seen any moth that size, much less in the mountains. It was beautiful, too, covered with dove-grey feather and white markings.

It drifted straight over to us, taking a look, and then settled itself right on my knee. It sat there for quite a while, and then just took off and fluttered the rest of the way down the road.

Most butterflies and moths in Wyoming in are small, so the size of this one really stood out and had an otherworldly quality to it. I think all three of us wanted to believe it was an angel in insect clothing.

There is one other time where a butterfly has made a special appearance, and I've wondered if it could be a spirit in disguise.

As I mentioned just last week, my sister, Dyan, died in 2001. I got married in late August of 2002. Of course I wished she could be there, and her absence was very palpable, as was that of my Grandmother who had died three weeks before my wedding.

After the wedding, a gigantic, yellow and black, butterfly (you know the type) fluttered through the tent we had erected in my parents back yard. I've only seen this type of butterfly once in Wyoming. (When one had attached itself to my drumset after I'd played outdoors, cocooned and then birthed itself in February in my bedroom.) I've definitely never seen such a butterfly out in the plains, where there are no trees.

The butterfly on my wedding day fluttered right up to me, and landed on one of the tent lines, maybe three feet away from me, and then took off, disappearing over the prairie.

My mother and I had always said that butterflies reminded us of Dyan, and so it felt like she'd sent the butterfly to let me know that she was there, even if I couldn't see her. So, butterflies and moths now hold an additional special place in my heart.

Thank you so much, Tammie Lee, for letting me join the challenge, and I look forward to hopping around and seeing everyone else's posts! If anyone is interested in seeing more posts, pictures and/or artwork related to pollinators, go over to Beauty Flows for the list!

Do you have any special butterfly memories?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Funny Friday Photos: A Maniacal Owl

Happy Friday!

It's an especially happy Friday for me, as it starts my Spring Break. I have all next week off! Yay!!

My auspicious plans for the week include going to the Mythical Creatures exhibit at the Denver Museum of Space and Science, super-cleaning at least two rooms of my house, and hopefully be in a position to start the second draft of Through the Fairy Ring.

I really thought I'd be done with the first draft by today--I've only got a couple thousand more words to go--but it seems to just keep going! I'll write three-four pages, and only make a little headway in the story. I can't believe I'm up to 85,000 words and am still not done! At least when I edit out ten percent, I'll still have a decent sized story.

Okay! Let's see last week's favorite photo! Winning by one vote, it is:

Here's the new ones!

What is it about cats and boxes?

Awwwww. :(

Zombie cats would be horrible!!

Not sure which is scarier--the claws or the maniacal look in its eyes.

Anyone get it? I hope I'm not the only one!


My favorite is either the maniacal owl or the insecure seal - leaning toward the insecure seal. 

What's your favorite?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cover Reveal: A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford

I am very pleased to welcome Nick Wilford back to Motivation for Creation.

I "met" Nick through blogging, and was fortunate enough to contribute an essay in his Overcoming Adversity Blog Hop, and the post was later included in his Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew.

When Nick asked for help with his cover reveal, I was so happy I could help out. His new book, a short-story collection called A Change of Mind and Other Stories, sounds absolutely fascinating. Take a look at the story descriptions below the cover, because I bet you'll think so, too!

Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Contemporary speculative fiction
Cover Design: Rebekah Romani
Release Date: May 25th 2015

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.

Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working, he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. You can find him hanging out on his blog or on Goodreads or Twitter.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Funny Friday Photos: Tricky Half-Notes

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone's week went well! I'd like to thank LG Smith and Mark Koopmans for sharing my Mindfulness Monday post this week. That was very kind of you!

All my thoughts are on finishing the first draft of Through the Fairy Ring. I'm thinking when the first draft is done, I'll start the process for getting a cover, so I can put it up for pre-orders. I'll be going through 99 Designs again, working with the same designer, Ivan Zanchetta, who designed Finding Meara. If I get to have a vote for which design is the best, I'll let you know, because I'd love your help picking a cover.

Then, on the other hand, I wonder if I should wait to get a cover until I'm closer to being finished with editing. Decisions, decisions.

Last week's favorite funny photo was:

Thanks, everyone, for the comments letting your will be known!

Here's the new photos!

My Italian great-aunt Julia used to always say this,
no matter what she was wearing, if you gave her a compliment.

Excellent Stanley impersonation. That is such a sad, sad play.
(Have I shared this before? It looks vaguely familiar to me.)

Better view?

Quite glad I'm not living there!

The expression!

My brain totally fixed this sign the first time I read it.

Those half-notes are such tricksters.

They'll let anyone into college these days... 

A pun or two?

In case you needed to know where to find them...

Have a great weekend! My favorite this week was "This is not a drill." For some reason it really cracks me up.

What's your favorite?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mindfulness Monday: Live As If You Have No Future

“Life is a preparation for the future; 
and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.” 
~ Albert Einstein

"If you love someone, hurry up and show it."
~Rose Zadra, Age 6 

It really is that simple. There are no assurances in life that even the next moment will be waiting for us, so we better pay attention to now, and enjoy it as much as we can.

I came to this understanding when my sister died of complications from Multiple Sclerosis a couple of days after she turned thirty-two. While she was sick, there was no reason for her to die at that point in her life. The doctors had missed (I don't know how, but I won't go there) that she'd developed blood clots in her legs, and she died one night from a pulmonary embolism. Just like that, my sister and best friend was gone.

To be honest, I think watching her health and abilities deteriorate over a short period of time was just as instrumental in teaching me to appreciate each moment of life as was her unexpected death. Sometimes it seemed like each day she'd lose her ability to do something else. It was unbelievably hard to watch, and I can only imagine how hard it was to be the one living through those losses.

I admit that it's easy to lose sight of being grateful for what I have, or even to see what good things I have in life. I get busy, or things get stressful, and I start to wish for things to be different instead of accepting and appreciating. That is why it's important to meditate even for just a few minutes a day, to slow down and refocus on what is important to us and what is good in the now. There will always be things to be changed, or desires for what we don't currently have, but all of that is in the future, and we're alive now. Right now. In this present moment.

Living in the moment, though, doesn't mean YOLO (you only live once.) It's not about doing stupid or dangerous things. Living in the moment is about experiencing each moment, and not even judging it as good or bad. It's not being reactive, but being thoughtful to the world, to others and ourselves. 

So, I try to keep my thoughts on what is good even when things are icky, on what I can do right now to be happy, or to achieve a goal (and not procrastinate - which I tend to do alot!) I try to let those I love know I love them, and to recognize when they show their love for me. I try to take time and really listen to people and be present for them when they just need someone to talk to. I try to look around, notice the happiness in other people's smiles, feel the breeze on my skin, smell the moisture in the air and marvel at the beauty of the world that surrounds me. I try to not hold grudges or be cranky, even though I had a rough day at work.

Because, if I died tomorrow, I'd want my kids to know I loved them because I spent time playing with them. I'd want to have taken risks when I needed to, and have been responsible when I had to be. I'd want the people who know me to remember me as being kind and compassionate. Because, if I died tomorrow, I wouldn't want to regret not looking at the bright blue sky, listening to the meadowlarks and feeling the magnitude of the Universe in the very small. I wouldn't want to have missed the little moments full of hugs and laughter and love--I wouldn't want to have missed out on the everyday magic of life.

Because it's that simple. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Not even the next moment. All we have is now.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Funny Friday Photos: Player Deer and Positive Protons

Happy Friday!

Look at my progress bar! I am so close to being done with the first draft of Through the Fairy Ring. The better news is that I'm five-hundred words away from 80,000 total, and still have about three scenes to write. I was worried the story would be too short after editing, but I'm confident now it'll be at least as long as Finding Meara.

I'm really liking how I can finally see how everything fits together. Not being able to get the full view of the story as I've been writing has messed with me and my motivation. This book has taught me a lot about trusting my subconscious and the process. Of course, that's assuming the story's a good one. I like it. Maybe some other people will too, right?

Instead of replying to the comments from last week, I'm just going to say a big thanks to Suzi Retzlaff, Veronica Roth, Roland Yeamons and Joe Hagy for stopping and voting for their favorite photo!

Last week's winner was:

Here's the new ones!

This week has been a killer.

A bunny with a headband, none-the-less.

My kids do this to me all the time. Last Sunday I got beaned with a tennis ball.

Reminds me of Arden, in a very funny way.

Me, too, Darth Pug, me too.

Always hear Right Said Fred in my head singing "I do my little turn on the catwalk."

I hope we all have a great weekend. On Saturday I'm taking a handgun class and all the rest of the weekend I'll be writing my little heart out. For the record, I only shoot at targets. I'm not a hunter (can't kill anything), but I love archery and pistol target shooting. I'm getting pretty darn good at shooting cans with a BB gun, too.

So, have a great weekend, and remember:

Which is your favorite? Mine is the Arden stag.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Funny Friday Photos: Shaking Things Up

We've done it again. Here's another Friday, just for us!

I was dismayed last Friday with the death of Leonard Nimoy. Some of you may remember that Spock was my first love when I was four years old, and he's always been kind of special to me. I was so smitten I even drew pictures of him (I think my mom still has one.) So, the first photo of the day is dedicated to the amazing and talented man who gave Spock his Spockiness and who has moved on to whatever comes next in the journey of life.

Is anyone else ready for the weekend? I believe I am. So...

Last week's winner for funniest photo was:

I've notice that I tend to be a little OCD with the order of the pictures. Maybe you haven't noticed, but it goes "animals, geeky, science, puns." I'm going to try moving the geeky/science into the animals and see if my anal retentiveness can take it. If I upset your balance by switching it up, I'm sorry and take some deep breaths. You'll be fine. And so will I... Right?

One of the most memorable scenes of Westside Story.

The new guy.

Very cute Guardian's of the Galaxy reference.

Did you get in on the whole dress thing? I saw it late, of course. I'm glad I did, though. It's an amazing tool to use with my groups at school when teaching about perspective and respecting other people's ideas and points of view. Because who knows what their reality is! Even first graders get the point with the dress as a prop.

The way I feel when taking pictures. Especially when you stand there, frozen faced, waiting for the flash!

I think someone needs to send something like this to an agent.

I have lost my coffee and found it hours later in the microwave. Several times.
I seriously worry about when I'm 75 or 80 years old.

Puns still have to go last. Different kind of photo, you know.

One-two-three o'clock, four o'clock rock...Gonna rock-around-the clock tonight! 

Crop circle!

That's it for this week! I hope everyone has a relaxing weekend!

My favorite is the "smiling" sea lion. Is it a sea lion? 

Did you like one photo more than others?
Which is your favorite?

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Mindfulness Monday: Smiling

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
Sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Taking Control of Your Memories

Did you know we can trick our brains? Our memories are so powerful that if we remember mindfully, really re-live each detail of a memory, we can re-experience the emotions contained within. If we can mindfully remember a joyful memory, we can trick our brain to feeling happy.

The reverse is true, as well. When we dwell on bad memories, replay depressing/frustrating life moments over and over again in our heads, we find ourselves feeling sad. It's a negative feedback loop that ends up making us feel worse and worse.

This is why it's important to learn to be aware of what we are thinking about, and then make a choice. We can control our brains and our feelings, and let our smile be the source of our joy.

And Sometimes Your Smile Is The Source of Other People's Joy

We are born with Mirror Neurons, which are brain cells that scientists believe are key to learning by mimicry, and to developing understanding of other's actions and emotions (empathy.) When we smile at others, or see others smile at us, it activates these neurons, and we vicariously experience the emotions that cause us to smile. Mirror Neurons are why we feel happy when we see other happy people. So, by smiling we not only spread happy feelings, but we also feel better ourselves, because we are drawing happiness to us. We are able to change our environment simply by smiling.

Give It a Try

If you're not feeling much like smiling, I suggest mindfully remembering a happy memory. Mindfully remembering is not like playing a movie of the moment in your head. It's reliving each detail.

  • Where were you?
  • What did the scenery around you look like? What colors were there? What was the weather like? Was it sunny or cloudy? Warm or cold?
  • What could you see? Hear? Smell? Touch?
  • Who was there with you? Take a moment to really see their faces.

Use these prompts to remember each moment of the memory. If you move from one place to another, or a new person comes into the memory, use the prompts over again to really place yourself in the moment. I am confident that it won't be long and you'll be smiling, maybe without even realizing it.

What makes you smile?


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