Saturday, December 28, 2013

Soul Inspiration -- Mom

Hi folks, the week marks the twelfth year since my mother, Lera Lee Kelly Barlow, passed away from early-onset Alzheimer's disease. She was 61 years old and had suffered for over a decade. If you long for a cure for this disease and want to donate to a worthy cause before the end of the year, here is the donation link to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. 

Mom was a free spirit. She was a person of visions. Here is a bit out of her journal:

A totem is given, not chosen. And mine was given by God for his purpose. No one of this society would deliberately chose the turkey vulture for a totem.  Egyptians considered vultures holy, but we think them untouchables.

Three times God has given me visions of the vultures. visions whose meanings are clear to me. Once I saw them slicing down a cold north wind on a sun-bleached winter day. When they slowed, the wind would catch at their tails, and they would loop-the-loop. I wonder which one found this trick. Looked like fun.

The other vision I was given twice. Mainly because even now, I look away from the meaning of it. The vultures were swarming in the sky like bees, hundreds of them. There was one who held back. A reasonable thing to do considering how poorly vultures fly. They were flying into each other all the time and falling down out of the sky. It looked scary to me. At last, the one who held back got the courage to enter the melee. I cheered him on. Then, he was gone. When he entered the circle of life, he could no longer be distinguished from the others.

The first vision means I should get out on the winds of life and enjoy life. Even if it is scary, it is great fun. The second, I can make a decision. I can stay an individual and out of it, or I can join the circle of life and be one, no longer different, no longer alone.

Hard decisions for me. Vultures were given to me for a totem. Like them, I don't fly well and it takes me a long time to get up and it's difficult,  but once I make it, then I can soar for a very long time.

I hope you find your totem like Mom and it tells you what you need to hear. It feels good in my soul to remember all that she was.

Here is Mom and Dad with my older sister Lee in the spring of 1962.

Here is a detail of one of mom's paintings from when she was a teen.

One last quote for your pocket.
Always something new to learn. Lera Lee Kelly Barlow. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Soul Inspiration -- Daring

Hey, folks. Hope the creative efforts are humming. I finished the rough draft of my novel a couple of days ago. The WOW factor has worn off and now, and I'm staring at many, many pages that need a ton of work.

Inspiration keeps me on task, and this month I'm writing a series on what inspires my soul. I hope this help you too. I'm inspired by daring. I think about this in big ways and small. As an added bonus, I also like to tuck in a Christmas poem during this time of year. So here goes--

Anyone who dares...

to try,
to give,
to learn,
to believe,
to practice,
to appreciate,
to understand,
to chase a dream,
to embrace change,
to hope for the best,
 to choose happiness,
to turn the other cheek,
to think and then speak,
to put up with tough stuff,
to head down the road less taken,
to help even when it isn't convienient,
 to make the most of tough circumstances,
to continue in the face of impossible odds,
to admit wrong-doing and make no excuses,
to change when the current way isn't working,
to be more when intolerable circumstances arrive,
to devote time to caring for those less fortunate,
to show mercy to those who need it,
to stand up for the truth
to say no to injustice,
to stop running,
to forgive,
to love,
I thank you with all of my heart. 

I hope you are daring in every way.

 Here is the doodle: "Merry Christmas!"

Here is my quote for your pocket. It has been in my pocket for a long time.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Soul Inspiration --The Unexpected

Hi folks, this month I'm writing about what inspires my soul. Here is a listed of unexpected moments that have stayed with me and inspired me. I'm not even sure I can give these moments justice, but I will try. I hope this post makes you create your own list.

1. I stopped on the side of the road on Oahu to snorkel in a cove. I was suddenly engulfed by a school of white fish. Hundreds of them zipped around me.

2. My first time to Paradise on Mount Ranier, I thought I was looking down into an impossibly deep valley and realized that I was really looking at a lake that was reflecting the gorgeous mountain scenery like a mirror.

3. I was a young mom overwhelmed by the unending grind. I'd put my three children ages 2, 3 and 4 down for a nap, and I sank down in the hallway in tears. A minute later my youngest son's arms went around me and he whispered, "You're awesome."

4. I was driving past a lake on the way to Banff, Canada, and one half of it had a rainstorm, kicking up the waves, and the other half was calm, lit by sunshine. 

5. I was driving to the grocery store early one morning and saw a clown on a unicycle, juggling bowling pins.

6. The first time I looked through a telescope at Jupiter with four visible moons, I was shocked at the richness of colors in a sky I see in black and white. This can't be captured by a photograph.

7. A squirrel chattered at me every day I went outside for several days.  I would ask him what is wrong, and he would come up to my toes and chatter. One day I asked, "Should I follow you?" He nodded his head and scampered away. I followed the squirrel to the dead body of another squirrel on the side of the hill beside my house.  The body was full of bees.  I buried the dead squirrel, and the live squirrel never bothered me again.

8.  A boy working in the drive-through at McDonalds took my money, and I noticed he had George tattooed on his wrist.  I asked him why. The boy had tattooed his grandfather's name on his wrist to remind him of his grandfather's love.

9.  I'm always running into birds at strange times. A barn owl in father's driveway, a peacock in the middle of nowhere near Waco, an eagle in middle of road while driving my kids to school, a vulture on the corner of my very suburban street, a lone snowy egret on my porch, a flock of hundreds of starlings in my small backyard....

10.  Driving along Highway 1 on the way to Hearst Castle, we went around a wide curve and I saw a beach with thousands of people laying on it, and then I realized I was looking a sea lions. 

Keep your eyes opened for the unexpected.  I will be back next week with more soul inspiration.

Here is a doodle for you. I call this "Christmas Trees."

Here is a quote for your pocket.

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me. Carl Sandburg.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Soul Inspiration -- Passages

Hi, folks, this month I try to cover the stuff that inspires me. We lost some talented authors and illustrators this year. This is how I feel when we lose someone: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. John Donne's No Man Is an Island.

I will miss you, Barbara Park,  and Junie B. Jones.

A little glitter can turn your whole day around. Barbara Park

E.L, I made it a goal in life to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art because of The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The museum was just a fab as I imagined it would be.

Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around. E. L. Konigsburg

Rollin, I miss your unfailing belief in others. Rest in peace, my colleague, my first illustrator, and my friend. You sketched "Jo and Louie" at my very first book signing, and I still treasure it.

credit; Rollin Thomas

I will return next week with more soul inspiration.

I'm skipping my doodle and just letting Rollin's work speak here.

Here is a quote for your pocket.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.  Kahlil Gibran