The first time that I visited Las Vegas I was somewhere in my twenties. It was with a good friend, whose mom was nice enough to pay for all expenses. It was a family affair. The three of us shared a room at the Mirage. I remembered that hotel for it’s tropical feel; at least there was a bit of nature in this very built up, over-the-top destination.

My memory is fuzzy of how I actually felt, what my feelings were in response to all of the “noise” but my sense is that, at times, it was overwhelming. As a person who appreciates her solitude, it was the sort of place that went against my natural disposition. For years I convinced myself that Las Vegas was not for me and that I wouldn’t visit again.

I believe that I did end up there a second time with the same family in the same hotel and that this time, the flashy city did began to grow on me.

Fast-forward roughly twenty years and its one of the destinations that hubby and I would venture to for a short getaway.  He is an extrovert through and through and I think because of him I try to find places that he’ll be able to enjoy and that I’ll be able to explore and revisit. Because of him, the layers of my introvertedness are beginning to peel away to reveal more tolerance and more enjoyment of my extroverted side.

I still enjoy my quiet time, but I’m able to feed off of noise a lot better and am able to find the quiet within the chaos.

We’ll be visiting the Las Vegas Strip again soon to take in the glitz. I love walking through the gorgeous hotels, admiring the architecture, people watching, catching a few shows, and being right in the middle of all of the action.

One of my favorite parts is planning the trip, researching the different restaurants, and trying to get a feel ahead of time for potential places to eat and things to do.

I know that there’s more to Las Vegas than the Strip, but I have grown a great fondness for this piece of Las Vegas set against its beautiful desert landscape.

 

So far the one-word, five minute writing prompts are working for me. Sometimes I don’t have a lot to write in my notebook with this one word, but always it brings me somewhere-eventually; sometimes, I write past the five minute mark. I’ve always appreciated Julia Cameron’s insistence on writing “morning pages.” I can’t say that I’ve been diligent in following through, but I do realize their place and importance in keeping the writing hand and creative mind moving. I like to think of these one word daily prompts as an alternative. It’s a bite size that fits perfectly and is a nice way to get the day started if you need a gentle nudge. 

Magnetic poetry words have also been helpful and I keep keep them tucked away in case I’m in need of further nudging. 

I settled on using Google Docs to record my daily prompts. It’s great that I can login from anywhere and also use the App across my devices. Then I don’t have to worry about collecting yet another paper journal! And there’s consistency in knowing where to go and not trying to remember which journal had what. 

Before I know it, five minutes, turned to, ten; once it reached my journal blog, an hour has passed…a quick, enjoyable hour that really does feel like five minutes. 

Smudged: Today’s word is from the writing prompt book I mentioned in a previous post. Below is the direction that my fingers tapped it out.


She erased the drawing but in her haste, she left a giant smudge on the page. The more she looked at it, she thought she heard a faint voice coming from the page, from the smudge itself. She put her ear down toward the smudge; the voice was clearly talking to her.

“Why did it take you so long?”

She brought her head back up to see if the smudge had taken shape. She heard it. Or was she mad? Had she been sitting with her pencils and erasers far too long?

She decided to respond to the smudge but instead of talking aloud, she started to write words at the bottom of her drawing, and then she began drawing ferociously; she didn’t think about it any longer, she was becoming at one with the drawing before her.

As the drawing began to take shape, the smudge had become a beautiful table outside a cafe somewhere far away along cobblestoned streets, a day filled with sun and people zigging and zagging through the market admiring the handcrafted goods.

The artist sat with her sketchbook at the table, recording the happenings, soaking in the sights, happy to be alive.

When I first learned of this book a few years ago, I never would have expected what I found within its pages. I appreciate snails, but I never imagined that I would want to keep reading of the companionship that one humble snail would offer to its newfound keeper and continue learning more. The writing is beautiful in an understated way. The descriptions of the author’s country home and nature transport, and the details allow the reader into this intimate space.

I never feel Elisabeth Tova Bailey feels sorry for herself in a way that takes away from her story or journey. I feel a kinship with her and her snail who becomes the shining star in this memoir because of her strange, debilitating illness, that comes upon her suddenly when she’s on her way from her travels to home.

I love that each chapter is headed by a haiku or quote that ties in nicely to each chapter. It’s true, this small book does indeed feel like a “delicate meditation on the meaning of life.”

A gentle and beautiful read that I’m happy to have stumbled upon.

From time to time, I search the internet for writing prompts to help light a spark. I was browsing Amazon and came across this one. I read the few reviews and decided that for $2.99, why not. It provides three writing prompts for each day for the whole year. There’s a Five-minute prompt that consists of one word, a Midday prompt, and a dinner prompt. You can also view the prompts by genre if you have an idea of the direction you want to go. I’ve done the prompts for the first day and have peeked around at the other prompts.

I like how the Kindle book is laid out. Simple and clean. Just reading the prompts gets the juices going. I hope to continue on and get back to a daily writing schedule just to keep the sparks from completely burning out.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to respond to the prompts in a paper journal or a Word document or some other application. I love paper, but sometimes, it’s easier to keep organized using technology. Evernote is another option that I considered.

There’s something that I’ve always found exciting about grab bags or–now–these blind book dates, something about being surprised, not knowing, figuring it out, finding something you might not have.

So, I had my first ever blind date with a book two weeks ago. The local bookstore has been doing this through the month of July. Donate a small amount of money, and take a book on a date. I don’t make it to this particular bookstore all that often; who knows how many opportunities I missed.

An assortment of books vied for my attention, all wrapped in the same brown paper outfits with a single clue written upon them. The one I chose had this clue: Australia late 1940s–novel re: renewal & moving on. I couldn’t wait until I got home to carefully peel the wrapping off to see which book would be waiting. Upon unwrapping the mystery book, the title that looked back at me was, The Railywayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay. I had never heard of it. By now, it’s been a few weeks, and I’m happy to report that the date was a success. I only got through the first 25 pages, but I was interested in the family and wanted to learn what would happen next. With so many other books competing for my attention, I plan on returning to its pages soon.

Next, I was off to find a book of my choosing. I love reading about books and especially why certain books are important to other readers, so I couldn’t pass up, The Books that Changed my Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians, and other Remarkable People by Bethanne Patrick.  I am throughly enjoying it and am purposefully taking it slow, although, it reads quite fast. I want it to last a while longer than it might normally. Already, there are several more books that I want to read because of this book and others that it has reminded me of.

I’ve since been back to the store because I had a coupon to use. I saw a book that seemed like it would be funny. It was between it, the funny one: Dating Tips for the Unemployed or Keep Me Posted. I wish would have gone with Keep Me Posted. As I started reading more of the other one, once I owned it, there just wasn’t a connection. The book and I were definitely not a match, which I should have know, but I was really looking forward to something funny and different. I had flipped through it in the store, as I usually do, but somehow, I was hoodwinked. I like trying new things; this one just didn’t work out.

I went on two more blind book dates. One was a memoir and the other was science fiction, both new books to me. The memoir wasn’t to my liking and the science fiction book sounds interesting, but the first few pages didn’t pull me in as much as I would have liked. I may have to come back to that one when I’m in the right mood.

If I see other bookstores that offer blind dates with books, I will most definitely be participating! And the money goes to a good cause.

I sit here this morning against a backdrop of beautiful hills and a multitude of trees on the library grounds. Large art works, some familiar, having been here many years–permanent installations, others new to me.

The squeaking wheels of the mechanical pea cock titled the “Wheely, Whirly Peacock”, a crow clucks, small birds tweet in the distance. I sit here on the bench that faces the peacock, beauty all around, both natural and made by human hands.

As the sun warms my body, the breeze cools it down; lavender blossoms fill the air with their scent, carry in the wind and fill me with a sense of calm and of summertime.

It’s ironic that I’m reading more since I’ve been taking classes to complete the A.A. in accounting. Better late, than never. Now that our living situation is different, after work I go to the library almost everyday to study. Usually I only take one class per quarter because it’s all that I have the energy or focus for; however, I’m getting close and have decided that I will take two courses next quarter begins. Summer session is almost done and I finally get a small break before the Fall quarter. At this point, I feel like I’m doing this A.A. degree more for myself than anything. I’m viewing it as a small attempt to provide a cushion if I should find myself somewhere else, and it’s also a challenge that I can afford to take-and must take.

I remember blowing on dandelions when I was a kid; I don’t remember thinking of them as clocks. Today, my daily calendar has a close up photo of a bunch of dandelions with the caption, “Dandelion clocks await a child’s puff of breath.” Today this is really special to me because, amongst other books and audios, I’m listening to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. I’m also wanting to revisit The Illustrated Man.

When I see the dandelions this morning, I see Ray Bradbury. I see Clarisse holding the dandelion up to Montag’s chin. And I remember that when I was in a writer’s group for a very brief moment, one of the writers told me that I should read Dandelion Wine after having read one of my snippets.

I don’t have a strong tie to my own childhood and the dandelion, but after returning to Bradbury, and the dandelion that turns up in his other stories, I feel a real resonance and connection to him. So now when I see dandelions, I see him and I’m reminded of childhood-the childhood that I know he speaks about but haven’t yet read in Dandelion Wine. I think of what a remarkable person that I imagine he was, and of course, a great writer and storyteller. I appreciate how open he is about sharing where the seeds of his stories began.

I knew that if I didn’t come to the page, in this moment, that this moment would fly away just as the seeds of a dandelion, and that sometimes you just have to stop what you’re doing and GO. To be in the moment, lest it fly away, blow into the wind.

“I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure.”
–Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I listened to the audio version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. It’s always a treat when a book is read by the author and it works, which is not always the case–as odd as that sounds.

Not only did I feel inspired by her book, I soaked up her anecdotes, and felt so excited to keep listening and learning about her experiences and synchronistic associations in navigating her writing life.

This was a gem of a book, by someone that seems humbled by her experiences. And she is funny! She had me smiling my way through her book. I enjoyed it so much that I began listening to it again about two weeks after my first listen and will probably read bits and pieces on the page for a different layer of appreciation.

Earth Laughs in Flowers.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

I came across this quote on my daily calendar of inspiration, and it really made sense to me. Right now it seems there is so much tragedy going on all around. I mean, in a way, this is always the case, but it feels as though it’s been especially heavy.

Questions, confusion, disbelief, swirl around in my mind. How can we, as human beings, these evolved creatures, not find a better way…why? is at the forefront of my mind.

I continue to maintain a sense of positivity, and I try to imagine that one day, humans may find a way to co-exist without harming themselves and others.

earth smiles upon us
in a rainbow of colors–
encouragement to keep looking up

Saturday was a good day. Each day actually hasn’t something good to appreciate, but Saturday was great because I got out of the house early before anybody was awake, even the stores weren’t quite ready for me. I started with a hot cocoa from Starbucks, then ventured over to the .99 cents store that was open. I went down each isle in search for something that I might need, being careful not to buy just because it was a bargain. I found a blank notebook. I don’t know that I really needed it; I saw it as a new beginning, a fresh start. I also bought one pack of miniature Hersey bars. I couldn’t resist.

I wanted to go to the gym. My excuse for not going was that I forgot my fanny pack, which is essential for taking only what I need. I didn’t want to go back home just for that. Instead I parked the car near the bookstore, walked over to the Walgreens, which was a couple of blocks away–a little bit of exercise, albeit not as much as if I went to the gym.

Finally, I ended the morning searching through the stacks of bargain books outside the bookstore. I haven’t actually done this for a while and it felt really good, taking my time, being by myself, not rushed and just enjoying some “me time.” I did find a handful of books and have started two, one is a collection of essays celebrating Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I need to read her much loved book. I have vague memories from my school days, but don’t feel that I’ve actually read it, so it’s on my TBR list, and I may get to it sooner than planned. I also picked up The Borrower, which has really piqued my interest. It’s quirky so far and I like quirky. Also, a Paul Auster book: Timbuktu.

When I exited the bookstore, the day settled in on my spirit. The blue skies had a softeness to them, the three little birds that I saw playing underneath a car, swept past me and I could hear the flutter of their wings. I think that was the second highlight of my morning. It practically gave me goose bumps.

I took my bag of books and my happy state of mind back home with me, ready to fold into the rest of the day.