Happy Spring Eve Eve!
Spring Equinox 2019 is just two days away (March 20th at 5:58 p.m. EDT). Astronomically speaking, the sun will be directly above the Equator as the Earth’s tilt begins to point the northern hemisphere towards the sun. Spiritually speaking, a magical transition is about to go down as winter gives birth to spring. This coldest, darkest, most lifeless of the seasons delivers us into the most life-affirming one. As this shift unfolds, we find ourselves in a world of rebirth, where everything begins to blossom in the returning warmth and light.
My little clan has been hitting the beach in our winter gear almost every weekend since February, collecting crab shells, unearthing stinky forgotten oyster traps, building snowpeople, and on warmer days (anything over 40 degrees), we’re wading in the icy New England water in our tall rubber boots!!! We spent yesterday (a sunny St. Patrick’s Day) doing just this, and unexpectedly met four beautiful horses (and their riders) who were out for their own beach adventure. In the middle of winter, there are more people (and dogs, and horses) on the beach than you’d expect to find, but it’s really no wonder. We’re all drawn there for a reason. The shore is a numinous place, pulsating with energy and meaning, and just being there re-syncs us with the eternal rhythm of the cosmos. Any time of year, being in that place where land meets sea, experiencing the moon’s cycles pushing and pulling the water before us (and within us), rejuvenates us.
In the middle of winter, when we emerge from our cozy home to endure the face-numbing cold, to embrace simultaneously the harshness and the wonder of nature, we reconnect with the vital process of pure experience, and it transforms us. The frigid water reaches toward us and then pulls back across smooth sand and jagged stones, singing and rocking us with its rhythm, and the divine force of the universe flows through us; we’re rejuvenated, and we move to higher ground. We experience our own little rebirth. Such transformations are essential to my relationship with my husband, our relationship with our children, their relationship with us and with each other, and our connection to ourselves. This is when we as parents show don’t tell–the most effective way to teach (as well as to write). When we all leave like contented, tired dogs, rejuvenated, reconnected, full and satisfied, the experience forms a happiness anchor within them (as it does for us) that will one day serve to remind and to beckon them back when they need it most.
At this time of year, nature’s push out of darkness into the light to create inspires my own creative process; my transformative experiences in nature push me to explore and discover new story territory. I am hard at work every single day, inhaling and consuming the best resources to improve myself as a writer, while simultaneously exhaling and developing my story world, my characters, and their journey through their own winter into spring. I cannot wait to finally slay the dragon and claim the treasure, but in the end, the journey to her lair and the battle itself will shimmer as the most valuable treasure of all!
As we all step out and feel that burgeoning sun on our faces, I hope the springtime push to create delivers you to epic places! Happy reading, writing, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, planting, building, renovating, exploring!
Hello out there!!!
With spring finally here, and my littlest peanut already seven months old, I’m finally stepping out of my winter/new-mom hibernation and sketching out my seven-book series. It feels good to be back in the saddle after becoming a mom again, and experiencing this magical transformation for a second time.
Becoming a mother for the first time (four years ago) was an absolute rebirth for me. It dug up the deepest layers of myself and brought absolute gold to the surface; a magical, heart-wrenching, spiritual, beautiful experience. After my son was born, I used to tell my husband that it felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest, and absolutely shredded, broken down, torn up, because it was growing, changing, evolving into something bigger and better, like a worked out muscle with all its fibers tearing and snapping in the process of rebuilding itself stronger. I was torn apart in love. For the entire first year, I would cry just looking at him, holding him, smelling him, flooded with such love that it overwhelmed my new-mom heart. People talk about the hormones that flood a new mom, but I never expected them to manifest in this way. Everyone warns of the negative aspects of these postpartum emotions, but nobody talks about the brilliant, transformative aspect. I never saw it coming and didn’t know what hit me. It’s biology, and the most spiritual experience I’ve ever endured; it absolutely changed me, and completely plugged me into my new purpose as mother. Suddenly, I had a reason for being. I had created this precious, vulnerable, magical little miracle, and he needed me. Suddenly nothing else mattered. It didn’t matter that I’d been underestimated in my life, that I’d been judged, criticized, diminished for various aspects of my insides or my outsides, or that I’d been emotionally abandoned by people I loved most; all this broken-people bullshit that had surrounded me for my entire life, made me feel less, made me feel worthless, defective, unloved suddenly died. And it was a beautiful, epic death. The meaningless illusions were vanquished as new life and true love burst forth like warm sunlight. My old self had died, and I was starting life all over again. I was important, I was loved on the most profound level, and my purpose was the greatest of all purposes in this world. I had just created new life, and I was now a mother. Through my child’s birth, I was reborn. I was stronger, more capable, more gifted, and more heroic than I’d ever imagined. Ever since I stepped into this new life, I’ve embraced my own personal evolution, craving it, seeking it out, and embracing any opportunity to self-reflect, grow, and change into a better version of myself. With the birth of my daughter, I am currently in the process of another incredible transformation. She has reaffirmed my purpose as mother, and has also transformed our family, shifting and stretching my son into a big brother and our threesome into a family of four with ever-evolving dynamics. This time, with the wisdom of experience, and the appreciation for what I knew was coming, I’ve been letting this transformative energy rush through me like a superhero finally receiving her powers. I love my children so much it hurts; they make me feel, experience, and appreciate absolutely everything–love, joy, fear, pain, and everything in between and beyond–and I cannot imagine living or loving any other way.
With all this new energy, vitality, love, and inspiration, my drive to create only intensifies. All of my life’s experience and passion pours out into my work in ways that never cease to surprise me. I’m always dancing with my characters, getting to know them, their settings, and what they have at stake. I’ve resumed Googling, reading, and audio-booking while living, observing, thinking, and feeling incessantly. This process involves lots of immersive day trips to Newburyport with my crew; my unceasingly supportive and inspiring husband and two littles are always up for adventure by the water. The process is grueling: people and boat watching on the marina with coffee while ruminating on future dreams with my man–my first dream come true; playing hide and seek behind trees and tag through the grassy park with my second dream come true; baby snuggles and vicarious thrills at every magical ray of sunlight, dog, and blade of grass with my third dream come true; lunching at outdoor restaurants on brick sidewalks in wrought iron chairs; walking in my characters’ footsteps through the charming streets and neighborhoods of this hidden-gem town by the sea. It’s as rough as it sounds. When I’m not out there living it, I’m doing tons of research on various essential subjects for my series, and tapping every excellent writing resource that I find. This often goes down in the car thanks to Audible and their Great Courses lineup.
Though my priority right now is my nest with my little chicks, I find stolen moments to spread my wings and take to the sky to create. With the most abundant inspiration but the least time to create, I am getting better at making every moment count. I am in no rush to move this stage along—when it’s gone and I have time again, I will want to give it all back to hear that contagious laughter, see that wonder and joy, and bask in that unconditional love all day long.
Photo courtesy of Barrett/Flickr.
It has been quite some time since I’ve posted, but I’ve been hard at work. Research and writing continues, and life’s experiences continue to inspire the details and depths of my characters and story (dear life, please let me up for air).
This year has been a challenging one, and despite a profound sense of loss (or maybe because of it), I feel more deeply thankful for all that I have – a family that I love and can’t live without, friends that make me laugh, good health, a roof over my head, a job that pays the bills, and the freedom to be myself and choose the life I want (a huge thank you to all responsible parties).
In six years, I’ve lost my dad, my brother, and most recently my mother. Losing such major keystones has shaken my foundation beyond what I am able to express (still working through it all with the pros), and has given birth to a very real fear of future loss. Nothing is certain in this life except for death, and that is a truth that most of us (myself definitely included) work to avoid facing on a daily, regular basis. On the whole, that is a good thing – it is unhealthy to dwell on such morbid realities, and doing so would prevent us from living our lives and embracing all the amazing things in it. But when death is thrown in your face over and over again, before you can even get on your feet from the last knock-down blow, it becomes really difficult to ignore that death and loss is very real, and it is absolutely terrifying.
Heartbreak tears us apart, but in the process it deepens our understanding of ourselves, it makes us more compassionate and empathetic to others who have or are enduring it, and it forces us to re-prioritize our lives. It shakes us out of complacency, allowing us to see everything with a renewed sense of appreciation. It makes us more thankful than ever for our loved ones, because we know that there is no guarantee that they will be here tomorrow. Though I wish there was another way to cultivate such profound appreciation (and a way to keep my family safe in a bubble), experiencing pain and loss is a rite of passage and this is the only reward. Appreciation, gratitude, thankfulness…these are gifts. Without them, you can have the world and still feel empty and unfulfilled. With them, you have everything you need.
On this Thanksgiving, I wish you and your loved ones all the blessings that life has to offer. Be well, and spread the love.
Photo courtesy of Don Graham/Flickr.
April hath put a spirit of youth in everything – William Shakespeare
Happy Spring everyone!
In New England, we’ve finally emerged from our snowy tombs after getting slammed all winter with the cursed stuff. Mountains of snow survived into April, and 20 degree days made us wonder if there really was such a thing as spring. We did walk outside in short sleeves and flip flops once upon a time, right? Just last week, we were still in our winter jackets. Thankfully, May brought the sun back to stay, and our hyacinths and tulips are blossoming in celebration.
Being holed up this winter did have its benefits. I did a ton of research and finished a bunch of Great Courses lectures: The Peloponnesian War by Kenneth Harl; Ancient Greek Civilization by Jeremy McInerney; Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World by Glenn Holland; Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Empire by Kenneth Harl; Greece and Rome: An Integrated History of the Ancient Mediterranean by Robert Garland; and The Aeneid of Virgil by Elizabeth Vandiver. Right now, I’m finishing up The History of Ancient Rome by Garrett Fagan, and then I’m onto my next adventure: The Aeneid by Virgil. Elizabeth Vandiver’s course on the Aeneid was awesome, and I’m so excited to dive into the epic itself (after falling in love with the Odyssey last year).
All my research goes to good use. I’m plugging away with my writing and having lots of fun with character development, plot twists, metaphoric parallelism, and all the stuff that makes writing (and reading) so addictive. Ancient Greece and Rome is fertile ground, and my favorite place to search for seeds of creative inspiration.
Happy reading (and spring frolicking)!
Photo courtesy of Gary J. Wood/Flickr.
Happy New Year everyone!!!
It’s 2015, and another year of possibilities is ahead of us!
New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap because so many of us set goals, but only a fraction of us are committed to the steady progress it takes to achieve them. But why the eye roll or the scowl from so many folks every time we utter the word resolution this time of year? Should we instead just stop hoping and dreaming, give up on setting goals, be complacent to drift along the river of unrealized dreams because we might not ever accomplish what we set out to do? Best to scrap that gym membership or that online course before we even begin, eh? So negative. So grumpy. Such a buzz kill. Those voices sing their song of woe from a glass half empty. Dump it out, and reclaim your glass. Then, fill it to the top with what you want most. To me, a New Year’s resolution is just the spark I crave as I kick off my journey toward achievement. Thinking about getting there gives me momentum. Fire at my back urging me on, and fire up ahead beckoning me. The act of setting and sticking to goals is born from our dreams, and also feeds our dreams; when we begin to see that our consistent effort is actually changing things, creating progress, moving us forward, it is electrifying.
As I look back at 2014, I’m feeling really proud of myself for sticking to my goals and making solid progress toward realizing my dream. For me, it was a huge year for research. I finished Professor Grant Voth’s lectures on Myth in Human History; Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days; Ovid’s Metamorphoses; Professor Elizabeth Vandiver’s lectures on The Iliad of Homer and The Odyssey of Homer, followed by the heavy hitters themselves – the Iliad & Odyssey; Vandiver’s lectures on Classical Mythology and Herodotus; Professor Jeremy McInerney’s lectures on Ancient Greek Civilization; and in December, I started Professor Harl’s lectures on the Peloponnesian War.
As I kick off 2015, I am filled with gratitude and the motivation to make this year just as epic as its predecessor! This month, I’m wrapping up my research and shifting my focus back to writing. I’ve drawn in loads of inspiration, I’ve got the momentum of a growing support network and fan base on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads behind me, and I’m ready to finish writing Book I.
Whatever your goals are this year, say them out loud, write them down, proclaim them from a mountaintop; the louder, the better. Let’s ride the New Year wave and go get ’em! 2015, here we come!!!!
Photo courtesy of Vincent Kaczmarek/Flickr.