Update

I had intended to have consistent updates this month with the promised posts from last year’s trip to Japan, but sometimes health gets the better of me and throws things a little out of whack. There will be posts, three of them in fact, and hopefully soon, but this may run over into June’s postings. Photo heavy posts take awhile to put together and lately I haven’t been up to anything of the sort. Thanks for understanding and see you around here soon!

Looking Back: Japan 2016

A year ago today I was in San Francisco boarding a plane that would next touch down in Osaka, Japan.

Japan has been and still is my dream. It’s the home of my heart, the place my soul feels most joyful and most at peace. Everything there is both achingly familiar and fascinatingly new and ready to be discovered. This was the very first time I had the chance to “go home” and not one moment was a disappointment.

It’s a year later and I want to share a few of the memories I have, mostly through photos. Give you a glimpse into the world I experienced last May. I’m not sure yet when I’ll be able to return, though I have tentative ‘hopeful’ plans that are far too early in the making to be sure if they’ll pan out.

For now, I hope you’ll enjoy the posts this month as I look back at the awesome country and culture that is Japan. (At least how I was able to experience it.)

sunset over rice fields in japan

The Early Stages of Writing a Poetry Collection

If you’re following this blog, amidst the random posts on letter writing, kid lit, and other assorted things, you’ve seen a few posts about me working on a poetry collection. This is my first. I’ve written single poems for prompts, competitions, and personal ideas off and on for many years now, always thinking that one day I’d like to create a collection but never really sure what that would look like.

More than a year and a half ago I had an idea for a poem that slowly morphed into an idea for a themed collection based on the instrumental music of a single artist. I sat on the idea for quite a long time, thinking over possible ways I could approach a larger project like this, before I picked up the pen and began writing November of last year. (I also realized that a poem finished earlier in 2016 fit the collection, so wooo head start!)

But here’s the thing… while there are lots of wonderful blogs and vlogs walking writers through the process of novels, there isn’t so much material out there for poets writing a collection. I have articles saved with suggestions for submitting your work, organizing a collection (once the work is done), and promoting your book. Noooot so much the ‘here’s a blank page, now start your collection’ sort of references. Continue reading

KidLit Love: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

I had an imaginary friend for years. In some ways I think she never went away, but rather merged into my creative subconscious.

BeekleImaginary friends are quite the interesting topic to think about whether it’s your own personal memories, wondering about the psychology of the phenomenon, or just getting a smart punch in the feels when media brings up the topic. (Bing Bong, anyone?)

“The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” by Dan Santat is sweetly written and stunningly illustrated. The image of Beekle makes me think he could possibly be a distant cousin to Baymax, which honestly is something I’m more than okay with. (Beekle and Big Hero 6 were both released in 2014, but obviously have nothing to do with one another.)Beekle - Interior Pic

When Beekle isn’t called off to the human world by a child’s imagination, he decides he’ll just set out and find his own child instead. His initial impression of the human world is that everything seems… not quite right. The kids he sees aren’t stuffing themselves with cake, everyone is in a rush, and he isn’t quite sure there’s a place for him after all.

But as is so often in both life and stories, right when he thinks he just might give up, the perfect friend comes along.

While I certainly enjoyed Beekle’s story, the art is what really swept me away with this book. The illustrations are vibrant yet easy on the eyes, with just the right amount of detail to keep you enjoying the pictures each time you see them. Dan’s art is everything about picture books that I love and remember from being a kid.

*Is there a children’s book about poetry, books, or creativity that you want me to check out? Make sure to leave the suggestion in the comments!

Letter Writing Extravaganza

In February I decided to take part in a challenge known as InCoWriMo or International Correspondence Writing Month. The goal was to write and mail or deliver a letter every single day in the month of February. These letters could be to family, friends, or even strangers. Many participants shared their addresses on the InCoWriMo website for those who wanted to write to strangers. I added my own address to the mix.

Honestly, I had hoped to receive maybe a dozen letters throughout the month. What little I found on the internet about the challenge didn’t really seem to tell me much about how big the event may or may not be, so I was careful with my hopes on the receiving end. It would at least be a chance for me to indulge my desire to send a bunch of snail mail while waiting on replies from my regular pen pals and that was good enough for me.

I wrote to a combination of existing pen pals, family members, friends who wouldn’t expect to receive letters, and the occasional stranger. Due to some health flare-ups I only got 20 letters sent out. (My hands didn’t work the best there for a few days, so letter-writing wasn’t really an option at that time.)

What did I receive? Continue reading

A Few Days of Crippling Self-Doubt

Writers (and other creative people) have this thing where we usually doubt ourselves. A lot. I can’t even quite explain to someone who doesn’t fight with this just how much we doubt.

This is me. Except, you know, without the book deal to soften the feelings.

I love Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s work. SO MUCH. Everyone should be reading her stuff. (Click on the comic and it will take you over to her site.)

My confidence in being a writer and in trying to become a well-published writer has its hills and valleys. There’s pretty much always a quiet voice in the back of my mind that asks me what I think I’m doing. Couldn’t my time be spent on something with a more guaranteed outcome? Like theoretical physics?

About a week ago that voice got really, really loud. Continue reading

Worldwide Post Report: January – February 2017

This is the last postcrossing update for a little while again. Stamps are expensive! And for now there are other things that I need to take care of. But you’re not here for that talk. On to the postcards!

Germany postcardI love this not just for the ocean (I always love the ocean), but also for the quote. I’m a person who very much loves her comfort zone. Very, very much. But I’m also aware of how much that comfort zone sometimes limits me. Last year I had the opportunity for international travel and that very much changed my views on the comfort zone. I still love it dearly, but I’ve always seen the wonder that is out there when you leave it behind. This postcard came from Germany. Continue reading

Tracking Creative Progress and Becoming a Writer

2017… the year I’m trying to get serious about being a poet. And about allowing myself more creative time in general.

I’ve been using the awesome (and incredibly simple) app Timesheet to track how much time I’m giving to writing and how much time is going to a given project. In January I tallied an impressive 35 minutes. Total. But in January I also gave most of my creative time to a photo book project. Many, many hours in fact. It was something I was passionate about creating and have been putting off because I’ve been terrible about allowing myself time to work on creative projects at all. I’m thrilled with the end result. And I’m learning how to give myself time for the creative projects I really want to work on, not just writing… and how to gently let go of the projects begun that became a burden instead of a joy.

I’m doing better with writing this month, and even though I haven’t clocked a lot of hours yet I have seen definite progress on my project. I’ve also taken on a commission for the first time. A small project for a friend who needed some poetry in her story. I’ve got a good start on it and am waiting for more notes from her before I launch into finishing it up. I’ve never tried to write something that isn’t a vision in my own head before, so this is good practice, even if not something I’d normally do.  Continue reading

The Quest to Tidy: Shoes and a Confession

I may not be a “girly girl” in a lot of ways. I’m not big on makeup. I don’t spend much money on my hair, either at the stylist or on products at the store. I love looking at jewelry, but usually only wear a few select pieces. I really don’t care if anyone knows the brand name of my purse or my clothes. Honestly I don’t care if I know it. I try to keep my nails nicely shaped, but don’t paint them too often. In fact… I’ve only ever had my nails done at a salon twice: once for my wedding and once to meet two of my favorite Japanese musicians before seeing them perform live. Sense a trend?

But on the things where I do get “girly”, I go all out. I own ball gowns. Not just dresses (some of those too of course), but full on wear-one-or-two-petticoats-beneath-them BALL GOWNS. When I do style my hair I usually go for curls. I love a good, bright red lipstick. I have good daily hygiene, I just also value things like sleep and hobbies, so the expensive or time-consuming “girly” sorts of things are out the window when it comes to day-to-day life.

Except shoes. High heels in particular. I love them. Send me to the store for a pair of tennis shoes and I may walk out with three pairs of clearanced heels instead. I can wear them with my ball gowns. I can wear them with my more casual skirts and dresses. I can wear them with jeans. I can wear them with shorts, even! (Yes, Sam I Am, I’ll wear them in a box, with a fox…)

high heels, wedding shoes

My incredibly awesome shoes from my wedding. I wore them the entire day they were so comfortable.

I put off KonMari tidying my shoes. I had more than I needed, but despite my love for heels I really didn’t have an absurd number of them. A couple pair of 5-6″ heels. Maybe half a dozen pair of your more standard 2″ heel, in a variety of colors. A few other oddities… probably no more than 12 or 13 in total. And then I did the hardest tidying I’ve done yet: I tossed almost all of them.

Rewind time. Continue reading

Worldwide Post Report: October – December 2016

I had to slow down my postcrossing habits a bit due to time and finances during the holidays, but thanks to several gifts of stamps and postcards I am back to it with the start of the new year! I hope to have many more lovely cards to continue to show you in 2017, but let’s wrap up 2016 for now.

postcard canada fashionFrom Canada, from a lady who said she dreamed of designing costumes for theatre when she was a child.

I’ve always really enjoyed this style of art and so I was excited to get this card in the mail. What a fabulous outfit! I’d love to know what she’s up to. Perhaps someone gave her those flowers? I sense a scandal! Continue reading