Monthly Archives: April 2012

Changing Course

Honey and Toast was meant to be about finding adventure in everyday life. This is a quest I believe in.

But the longer I’ve been writing, the more it feels like I’m skirting the edge of something, without quite getting to the heart of the matter.

I’ve been thinking a lot about it, trying to figure out what’s wrong. And I think I’ve figured it out.

I’ve been using the term adventure all this time, when what I’m really talking about is happiness.

In an odd way, I’ve been writing about happiness all along, but was trying to stuff it into the straightjacket titled “adventure.”

If I think of the project as more about happiness, and that adventure, or a spirit of adventure, is part of that – well, everything falls into place.

So what’s the mission statement for Honey and Toast now? To help people add more happiness to their lives by providing options, experiments and ideas.

In this space, I’ll be modeling what a person in search of happiness in the little corners looks like. And other people can join in, if they want.

Why does anyone do what they do? Because they want to be happy. People want to be happy. That’s sort of the basic thing, isn’t it?

But somehow, too many of us aren’t.

I know it’s probably not possible to be happy all the time, forever. But the search for happiness is universal, no matter who you are.

 What makes me qualified to talk about happiness?

I think the question is off track.

We’re all qualified to talk about happiness. We all have our own experiences.

I’m willing to talk about it, to experiment with things, to report back what works and what doesn’t work for me, but might for someone else.

Do I think I can solve someone’s unhappiness? No. But sharing a journey can encourage others to take steps along their own path.

Here’s what I’ve got to offer to this project:

  •  A super-analytical mind.
  • A drive to increase my own happiness.
  • The ability to write, both well and clearly.
  • A willingness to share what’s going on in my own quest, in the hope others may want to play along.

So, here’s to a renewed, revised, and refocused adventure!

 

Explorer’s Logbook #4: Flowers! And Cowboys! Spring in New Mexico.

 In which we record the adventures and celebrations, both great and small, of the previous week.

Life is good when you can have a work meeting with a cowboy. Let me explain: The university’s mascot is the Cowboys, so we though it would be fun to have a Cowboy Code – core values for the students that could encourage a culture of responsibility, philanthropy, etc. Last year the brilliant cowboy author Slim Randles spoke at commencement, and his speech resonated so much with what we’d been thinking that we knew we had to get him involved. Luckily one of our co-workers is a friend of Slim, so we all had lunch in Albuquerque and started hatching our plan.

Went to the biopark! We had time after our work appointments in Albuquerque to go to one of my favorite places ever – the Biopark. Favorite enough that even though we live two hours away, we still have memberships, so we can drop in whenever we get a chance. Somehow, those changes seem to be mostly in the dead of winter, or the blazing summer, but this time we got to see all the bulbs coming up, and wonderful blooming trees, and all sorts of loveliness!

Mysterious book sales. Not that I’m arguing, but we’ve seen a decided up tick in our short travel guide, 28 Great Things to Do in Santa Fe. The book was originally meant as a learning experience in formatting while I was working on my first YA book. Oddly enough, it’s been just as successful as the fiction books. Part of me wants to know what’s going on, so I can figure out a plan for the other books, but I think its for the best just to relax and be pleasantly bemused.

Well behaved dogs! Well, comparatively. We had a wonderful trainer come by on Monday night to give us pointers, and crazily enough, in just a week of doing part of what she suggested, we’re already seeing a difference in their behavior. Looking forward to adding more of her techniques in.

Pansys gone wild. I mean really. Look at these things. It may not seem like much, but a) these are from last spring! And b) they’re blooming in our yard!

 

 What adventures did you have this week? Large or small, we’d love to hear them!

 

The Terror of Taking Risks

Risks are scary. And yes, that does seem obvious, doesn’t it.

But I don’t mean big risks. I’ve done some of those. I’ve jumped out of a perfectly functional airplane (Twice, because I figured it didn’t count until I’d done it again, knowing what it would be like).

I’ve moved to a foreign country on my own, with only a rudimentary grasp of the language. (It worked out, but in the oddest ways.)

We expect risks like that to be a little crazy. But they’re not every day sorts of things, so they don’t come up that often, and somehow that makes them more manageable.

It’s the little things that get me.

Right now I’m taking some risks. Small risks, not life threatening, but possibly life changing. I’m considering transitioning out of what’s been my bread and butter career for years. Exploring the idea of offering completely different services in an unrelated professional field. Rearranging how our household finances work. Dreaming up a job I think should exist, and trying to hustle it into being, without exactly knowing how that’s going to work out.

And even though no airplane is involved, it’s all just as scary.

Maybe even more so, since this isn’t a temporary leap, but a slow and steady shift.

I think things are going to work out. I really do.

I’m remembering other small risks. Sending out chapters of my first novel for crits. Putting books up for sale on my own. Reviews. Moving to a new town.

Every change was just as scary, but now they’re just part of life, and part of the steps I’ve taken to bring life more in congruence with what I imagine.

These new changes are just more of the same.

Maybe, possibly, what I’m feeling isn’t exactly fear, but growing pains. Growing, shifting, transforming.

And that’s not nearly as scary.

 

Explorer’s Logbook #3: Pizza time!

In which we record the adventures and celebrations, both great and small, of the previous week.

The university was closed this Friday and old friends came down from Wyoming for Saturday dinner – well, not coming down just for dinner, they were driving to El Paso and our house was a reasonable halfway stop.

So Friday we hit Santa Fe for pizza making fixings and since it was such a lovely day, took a short walk on the path at Museum Hill. We’d noticed the path on the last trip, but the weather was far too blustery to check it out. It was a shorter path than we thought, but took us to the Spanish Colonial Museum, which we hadn’t visited before, so that was very cool. The featured exhibit was on the Civilian Conservation Corps sponsored woodcrafting at the Bandelier Monument Visitors Lodge.  Amazing work, and they even had a bench Sean remembered from childhood trips to Bandelier.

On the walk back we checked out an odd little building we’d seen any number of times, but never up close. The size and shape looked a little like a peculiarly situated crypt, but it turns out to be a scale replica of a flour mill. For unknown reasons.

 

Saturday was a solid spring-cleaning of the house – more of an adventure than it should have been, but it’s good to have it done. Then an evening of homemade pizza, good conversation, and bailey’s espresso chocolate chip cookies.

Other bits of happiness for the week included:

  • The planning for a new travel book – more on that soon.
  • Buds on the tulips in the back, and leaves on the lavender bush.
  • A new black bow tie for the Tux and Tails fundraiser later this summer.

 

What adventures did you have this week? Large or small, we’d love to hear them!

Flexible Truths

This weekend was full of adventures. But for the most part, they were all inside my head.

See, I’ve been writing this book.

Yes, I know. I’ve written others, and they went out as planned, and all was well.

But this book, this book is different.

This is the first book. The book that wasn’t meant to be a book at all.

Back in the day I started writing flash fiction for the heck of it. It was fun and a way to play with words and I’d never really meant to be a writer, anyway. These were just stories to help keep my head out of the tangle of grad school.

But then there was this one scene in my head.

I started writing it and it wasn’t just a flash piece. I had to start further and further back to get to that one scene:

A girl, out in the mountains, walking towards a sheer stone cliff.

And she walks through, and disappears.

I wanted to write that scene. I could see it so clearly.

But I didn’t know who she was or how she got there, or anything.

And then I had another idea. About a book that sucked the reader in with dreams and visions, became a drug that they couldn’t put down.

And I wondered if the two scenes were connected.

By the time I’d backed everything up to get the book, the girl, the colony world, and the rest of it tied together, things had changed. And I was a long way off from flash fiction.

Maybe it’ll be a short story, I thought.

After a few months it became pretty clear. I was writing a novel.  I felt sort of tricked into it.  I hadn’t meant to write a novel. I just wanted to get the girl from the colony town she lived in and where she had found the book, to the mountain where she walked through the wall.

But along the way things kept happening. More people kept coming up because otherwise it wouldn’t have been very interesting, would it?

And then more things came up. And I had to ask why for all of them.

After six months of this, I thought if I was writing a novel anyway, maybe I should get some practice. Someone (I don’t even remember who anymore) told me about Nanowrimo, and I decided to try writing a novel on purpose.

So I did, and after a couple of years of revisions it turned into Coyote’s Daughter. And the next year for Nanowrimo I wrote the zeroth draft of Bear’s Heart. And after a few more years of revisions, that story felt good and solid and true, so off it went.

And there’s a couple more drafts of different novels that have happened, but I keep coming back to the first story. About three years ago I hunkered down and put an end on it. That ending wrapped things up, but never really sat right with me.

So I put it aside, worked on other things, other projects.

And this weekend, I replanned the whole end of the book. Pretty much cut out the final eight chapters all together. And felt wonderfully free.

I know it’s ridiculous, but I get into this thing where once I’ve thought about a story a certain way, that’s the way it is. Really. The truth, as it were. Even though it’s a story, and I’ve written it, that’s the way things happened.

So this weekend I spent almost ten hours taking apart all of that reality, asking “well, what if that’s not the way it happened?”

It was uncomfortable. After all these years, after all the time these characters and this world had lived in my head, I KNEW how this worked.

But what if it didn’t? What if there was an entirely different structure to the end? What if some of the events were the same, but the reasons were entirely different? What if some of the events that had happened, just didn’t?

Poking, rearranging. Making things work better, smoother.

And then something clicked. It was obvious. Simple. By far the easier, more natural arrangement of “facts.”

I didn’t write eight new chapters for the end of the book, but I’ve got a new outline, and so far it’s working for me.

And it’s making me wonder. Other things that I assume are facts – are they? What if more things in life are flexible?

What if somebody is acting a certain way, not because they’re a jerk, but because of some other reason all together?  What if a client is late getting back to me, not because they hate the work, but because they’ve gotten excited about it and are thinking of new ways to play with it?

What if truth was more flexible than what I’ve written in my head?

What if my own truths – how I behave, what my patterns are, how I react – could also be more flexible? What if I could change those things into new patterns? I can’t change my own past as easily as the back story of one of my characters, but what if looking at things as a cohesive whole gives me ideas for a simpler, easier solution for the future?

I don’t know, but I’m rather enjoying the idea of flexible truth.* And I have a notion that it could lead to a whole new kind of adventures, even if it’s just in how I deal with the days.  And someday, I’ll get that book done.

*Not flexible facts. I’m with Neil deGrasse Tyson on this. Science is true whether you believe in it or not.

Explorer’s Logbook #2 : A Week of Music and Writing

In which we record the adventures and celebrations, both great and small, of the previous week.

It was a good and very full week!

  • Sasha, a stray husky who our entire street worked together to find a home for, was adopted by her foster family!

Sasha in the wild... now in a home!

  • It was a clinic weekend, so very early mornings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And almost 100 animals will live their own lives, without adding to the over population problem of Las Vegas. At clinic Sean found a lovely little malamute puppy that did NOT want to be there, but quieted down with some extra attention.
  • Sean wrote a new song on the guitar, and decided to learn the Moonlight Sonata for his piano final. Probably a better choice than the Shastokovich piece he’d originally selected.
  • Corie worked on revising her YA science fiction novel, and figured a potential way to solve a roadblock that’s been given her problems for several months.
  • Sean’s weeklyish string jam had an evening celebrating the music of Earl Scruggs, and preparing for the big yearly shindig.
  • And due to Sean’s hard work, we have more roses in the front yard, as well as phlox and pansies. Hooray for spring!

What adventures did you have this week? Large or small, we’d love to hear them!

We talk about a lot of things here…

Being gentle with ourselves, and the importance of small adjustments towards alignment.

Experiments in happiness and what does adventure mean, anyway?

What can happen when you say "Yes" and what might be waiting outside your front door.

And of course, why pretending to be a pterodactyl is good business.

 

Sound like your kind of place?

Go ahead and subscribe - I'll make sure you get the updates in your inbox, and you'll find out how to sign up for the free Start Your Day with Purpose program.