Rocky Mountain Inspiration

Easter and Calgary 2013 025We spent a lovely, lively four days with my sister, brother-in-law and two nephews in Calgary, Alberta, last week. Alberta is the neighboring province to our west. We also took a little  with a side trip to the picturesque town of Banff located in the Rocky Mountains that divide Alberta and British Columbia.

How’s that for a geography lesson? A teacher I am not. That’s my sister! She’s also a foodie. So we ate very well while we were there. Porridge with a variety of toppings for breakfast, homemade tomato for lunch, trout for dinner. Lawd, it was delicious. Good company and good food make for good times!

My husband and I lived in Calgary for four years after we were first married. We loved it there, but it just wasn’t where we were meant to live. I love my wide open prairies and my small city. But I still enjoy going back to the mountains and we hadn’t been there for far too long. Writers gain inspiration from all kinds of settings. But there’s something about being surrounded by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains that stirs the creative juices. For a romantic suspense writer the possibilities are endless. Every setting comes with it’s own dangers. With it’s own storms. It’s own extremes. Own challenges. There are high divides, passes and alpine lakes here. Variations in weather and season. These mountains are home to moose, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears, and others from butterflies to eagles. It is a rich environment to draw from.

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What settings inspire you? Have a favorite book set in the midst of a mountain range? Do you pick books because of setting?

Too Heavy To Hold

glass half full“A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!”  –  Author Unknown

Life is like that sometimes — To Heavy To Hold. Anxious thoughts about anything, if held long enough will weigh more than our arms can carry. We need to put the glass down.

And take a break. See you all in a couple of weeks. I’m off to refresh the well of inspiration and rejoice in an Easter week of reflection and family frivolity.

January 26th was Human Library Day

Check out a human book.

Oh my gosh, who could resist? Not me. Thank you Twitter for the heads up.

This past Saturday was my city’s first ever attempt at Human Library Day. It was hosted by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and libraries across the country.

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Real people. Real Conversations.

I love conversating. In person. With flesh and blood people. Who talk back. Where you can gauge how they’re feeling without needing emoticons. All you had to do was register, either online or in person the day of the event. Friendly volunteers in red t-shirts were there to greet you and help you out. The ‘human books’ were spread throughout the various floors of our downtown library, in nooks and crannies or small private rooms, perfect spots for some quiet and informative conversation.

Perfect for writers, information junkies, or anyone with questions to ask the interesting and varied group of people kind enough to share their lives and career choices with the list of books who had volunteered to sit and chat. Among them a Forensic Firearms and Toolmark Examiner, a STARS pilot, a STARS flight nurse, and a grassroots organizer. I saw the list of ‘books’ and was swamped with a flood of story ideas. It was like Christmas morning.

With stories of a terminal cancer diagnosis, the loss of a dream because of a violent domestic attack, people were there to share their stories, change perceptions, and tackle stereotypes. They were there to make a difference in their community. To share their experiences.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  spoken as Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

I ‘checked out’ a divorce lawyer. (Let me assure everyone it was for research purposes only.) The hero in one of my work-in-progress is a Family Law Attorney. I had questions. Needed to know I was on the right path with his views and ideals. We also talked about what her day is like, how much time she spends in court, and the misconceptions she faces. We talked about the importance of mediation and collaborative law when dealing with “good people at their worst”. As opposed to being a criminal lawyer who deals with “bad people at their best”.

All that in fifteen minutes.

So, if you had the opportunity to ask anyone a few questions which ‘human book’ would you check out? I think I’d like to talk to a member of the Hell’s Angels. Can you even imagine? I’m never gonna be able to shut my brain off now.

Nanny McMuse

I’m always intrigued over discussions about creative muses. The names, the personalities, the sense of their effectiveness or the absence of them. I think it’s largely due to the sense that my own muse plays a more background role. I received a present from my sister some years ago, a miniature sculpture of a smallish doll with short strands of thread and yarn sparking out of her head. My sister said the strands represented ideas. She doesn’t have a name but I’ve always loved the notion of her and she sits patiently on my desk ever ready to encourage ideas. A symbol of creativity.

A comfort.

A guiding spirit or a source of inspiration according The Free Dictionary.com. I don’t think of my muse as in attendance or absent, but simply a lurking spirit with those ideas sparking out of her head, smiling, never naughty but always engaging. At least, that’s what comes to mind when I think of her at all.

Until I watched the movie Nanny McPhee. It struck me that she was a perfect representation of a creative muse.

“There is something you should understand about the way I work: When you need me, but do not want me, then I will stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go.”  Nanny McPhee

There when you need her, reminding you of the necessity to keep writing no matter how hard times are but ready to back off and let you be your creative self when the juices are flowing. With her looks representing a troubled soul when times are tough, but softening as the person’s spirit eases and finds its way.

Muses are as individual and unique as the people that claim them. They have a will of their own. They plot, motivate, and inspire be they corporeal or ethereal. Whatever works.

What’s your idea of Muse? What do you think of mine?