Home, Again

The past two months have been filled with family, adventure, and writing. Lots and lots of writing! In June alone, I wrote fifty thousand words on my project, which is just over Corroded’s final published word count.

The first two weeks of July provided a road trip to the Poconos, where I was able to write almost daily for ten days (to the sound of water instead of music–a first), and brought home twenty-five thousand more words.

PA porch

And thanks to my big sister, the neighbors, and the location, the kids were entertained, watched over, and all of us well feed.

PA creek

Now I’m back and settled into the typical routines of life. Comfortable, with just the right amount of unexpected happenings to keep things from going stale. More soon, most likely via my newsletter, complete with tidbits on my writing project and what I’m reading. Sign-up now if you haven’t already.

 

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Scents of Wonder

I’ve been thinking about smells lately. Not necessarily bad odors (though with three kids in the house, there are plenty of those), just the power of memory in regards to one of the main senses.

Childhood, in a jar.

Childhood, in a jar.

To me, a fresh box of Crayola crayons or a container of Play-Doh is childhood.

Camel cigarettes smell like corruption.

The scent of brush fire is fear.

And this…

The battlefield of clear skin.

The battlefield of clear skin.

…is high school.
Open a bottle of Sea Breeze and all the insecurities of my teen years rush back to me. Or did they ever leave?

What smells trigger your memories, for good or ill?

Knowledge is Kindness

Over the past few months, I’ve come to an understanding. It’s nothing earth shattering, and I’m sure these things have been said before, but I needed the time to mull things over for myself.

Now I can share: I’m less likely to take offense to things people say if I know the individual.

Why is this? I’m empathetic to where they come from and realize that they have a valid reason for thinking the way they do, even if I don’t agree with it. The better I know the person, the more leeway I give their opinions.

Take the same words, said by someone I don’t know, and my first reaction is to be offended. For example, a friend says something that I disagree with. I’ll usually stay out of the conversation, and maybe even think “bless your heart” (a slight assimilation to southern living). But if one of their other friends steps in to agree or expand on the topic toward their angle, I get defensive about my ideals and think “how can she listen to people like that?” Or “I can’t believe there are people in the world that buy in to that propaganda!” And, well, you know… I’m sure you’ve thought similar things.

But don’t worry, I get over it.

And now, more than ever, it doesn’t bother me beyond that initial gut reaction.

It rolls off—the natural man is conquered, at least on this front.

After all, I don’t want to give other people’s words power to corrode my mood for the day.
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With all the contention in the world right now—even in our own communities—I think the best way to peace is to get to know each other. That’s the easiest way to combat judgmental behavior. After all, the majority of people want the same thing (peace, helping those less fortunate, etc.), we just have different ideas on what we think is the best route to get there.

Knowledge can equal kindness. Who do you need to understand more?

Bucket List, Check!

My number one bucket list item is officially checked off: I attended my first Europe concert this past weekend. It only took twenty-five years and nearly a thousand miles of driving, but people have always told me I’m patient.

Photo by my husband.

Photo by my husband.

Yes, Europe is in America, at least for a few more days. My family and I made a road trip to the in-laws in Illinois (post about that soon) and after a few days of visiting, my husband and I left the kids with the grandparents and drove two and a half hours over to Indianapolis to catch Europe’s show at The Vogue. The venue’s neighborhood is an awesome mix of restaurants, local shops, and good vibes along the river—a great place to walk around and people watch.
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We got there early and I had fun talking (well, mostly listening) to the other diehard fans that were lined up. Listening to the stories of the blue collar Mid-west rock fans was great, and there was even a guy from down under in the group. The experience reminded me that I need to get out of my usual circle of book nerds, homeschooling moms, and church friends and expose myself to a wider variety of people more often. It’s good for the soul.
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And so was the music!
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Being third in line landed me a center stage spot when the doors opened. Before hand, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be stage right, near John Norum and his guitar skills, or stage left, next to the bass (John Levén) and keys (Mic Michaeli), but since the stage was small, I opted for center. That put me first row, in front of Ian Haugland’s drum kit and Joey Tempest’s microphone, when he wasn’t moving around with it.
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Plus, I was in the middle of the vertically challenged. But when you wait twenty-five years to see your favorite band in concert, you don’t feel bad about blocking people’s view. The show was fabulous! I’ve never gotten front row before, so that was a bonus, but I also got my first guitar pick—the leader singer/guitarist pressed into right into my hand. Thanks, Joey!
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Great sound.
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Seventeen song set list.
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Awesome band!

People need to put down their phones and watch concerts live, not through a screen. (I took less than two dozen pictures during the whole show--too busy enjoying the moment.)

People need to put down their phones and watch concerts live, not through a screen. (I took less than two dozen pictures during the whole show–too busy enjoying the moment.)

Expand Your Horizons

Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month is past the halfway mark. Have you seen an increase of understanding around you? My blue hair has provided more opportunities to discuss autism with others, so I’m glad I was brave enough to try it this time.

Me, on World Autism Day.

Me, on World Autism Day.

I scrolled through some old posts and came across this one from two years ago—the then nameless Fernando has been making an appearance on the blog for that long. This is a timely find, because it talks about my two manuscripts that are now under contract for publishing in 2016, and it explains where I got my line, “Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.” It doesn’t seem like Fernando has grown much, but it’s more than doubled in size.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando today, April 2015.

Fernando today, April 2015.


Seeing these photos today reminded me of my teen on the spectrum. Just like my son, Fernando is always responding to his environment. Outside stresses, like weather, can cause disturbances to growth and adaptability, while appropriate nutrients and habitat can promote expansion. Sometimes, the rate of my son’s maturing seems laboriously slow, but if I think back to how he was two (or more) years ago, I can see how far he’s come.

Fernando can be used as a personification of my writing, as well as a symbol of human needs and growth. What can your fern do?

If you don’t have a Fernando of your own, go find one and nurture your creativity.

Global Autism

Today is one of those controversial days, this month sometimes less than joyful.

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and April is dubbed Autism Awareness Month. (Yes, April is also National Poetry and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but allow me to focus on one for a bit, please.)

There are some in the autism community that despise this month, this day especially, because they don’t agree with some of the organizations that have over-run things with their own agendas and publicity. No matter what some groups have done, this month is still be a great opportunity to share your stories—whether your own or your family’s—and bring to light the joys and frustrations of life on the autism spectrum.

Today, I’m wearing blue, and all month I’m sporting a bit of blue hair and an Autism Awareness ribbon. These visual tokens give me conversation starters to share with others about my own family’s journey, as well as direct people to great advocates on the spectrum like John Elder Robison, Dani Bowman, Erin Clemens, and A.S.P.I.E.

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Over the coming weeks, I’ll share a few more autism-related posts (including literary news you’ll want to stick around to hear.)

As for the other worthy cause, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I highly suggest reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Several different times she and her publisher helped raise money for RAINN in April. One year I donated to RAINN and Laurie, in return, donated to Autism Society of America. A win-win situation of awesomeness.

Now I’ll branch over to the National Poetry Month. Here’s a haiku I just wrote about some of the feelings one might deal with on the spectrum:

All thoughts are spinning
Mind, body, crowded senses
Breathe, wrap me in weight.

What are you passionate about this month?

Read Aloud

100_7028It’s World Read Aloud Day and we’re celebrating here by taking extra time to read from our bedtime tome, The Complete Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. We’re currently in The Silver Chair, the next to the last book in the series. The kids have enjoyed the stories as much as I do—and as much (or more than) the movies—which is awesome. 100_7029

I remember the best part of school was listening to my fourth grade teacher read Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary to the class every day after lunch. That was where my fascination with Newbery award winning books began—listening to Ms. Sawyer’s raspy voice read those letters from Leigh to his favorite author.

Which books do you recall from your childhood, or do you currently share with loved ones, in the read aloud tradition?