Tag Archives: SCBWI

SERENDIPITY

 

Celtic harpists played in the building on the left while writers worked in the building on the right. (All pictures by Marylin Warner)

Celtic harpists played in the building on the left while writers worked in the building on the right. (All pictures by Marylin Warner)

Between the two buildings, a perfect place for morning coffee, thinking and planning.

Between the two buildings, a perfect place for morning coffee, thinking and planning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and the deer enjoyed grazing in the cool, quiet morning light...

…and the deer enjoyed grazing in the cool, quiet morning light…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serendipity is a “pleasant surprise” or “fortuitous happenstance.” The word was first coined in 1754 by Horace Walpole whose Three Princes of Serendip were always making unintentional, surprising discoveries. More recent examples of serendipity include Alexander Fleming’s 1925 discovery of penicillin, Percy Spencer’s 1945 invention of the microwave oven…and my writing retreat at the Colorado Franciscan Center on May 2-4, 2014.

A good writing retreat is equal parts inspired writing and retreat from distractions. There is no better place to stay than in the calm, private, former convent rooms within a stone lodge in the deer-roaming, bird-chirping foothills of Mt. St. Francis. No televisions or traffic, but spacious, calm areas for writing as well as guided drawing and painting. Plus delicious meals served with great conversation: http://www.franciscanretreatcenter.org/

But what if, on the same weekend and in the same lodge, the Colorado Celtic Harp Society was having its retreat, too, and—here comes true serendipity—on the final night of both retreats, what if the groups were so supportive of each other that the harpists read aloud writers’ poems and children’s stories, accompanied by harp music?

During the weekend, our writing group was given an amazing hour-long experience and additional sessions of “singing bowls” by Ann Martin, MileHighHealingVibe.com   (For basic information and history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singing_bowl ). I had never even heard of this incredibly creative, restorative and centering experience, so this was another gift of serendipity for me.

In future posts I’ll be sharing some of the writing, drawing and painting prompts from the retreat, as well as words of wisdom I gleaned during meals, while walking the trails, and as we laughed and shared healthy doses of a writer’s best medicine: chocolate.

Two days after the retreat ended, Jim and I drove from Colorado to Kansas. For an early Mother’s Day, I took a glass bowl of budding tulips to my mother, along with stories of the retreat, music of the singing bowls, a fresh mango, and a bar of Dove chocolate. Mostly she just wanted bites of the mango, and of course, the writer’s best medicine—chocolate—so I knew she was doing pretty well.

This is my favorite quote about writing, chocolate, and making sweet plans about dying: “Now she and I sit together in her room and eat chocolate, and I tell her that in a very long time when we both go to heaven, we should try to get chairs next to each other, close to the dessert table.” ~ Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

In his 1998 book Armadillo, William Boyd coined an antonym for serendipity. Boyd’s term, zembianity, is “an unpleasant surprise, an unhappy and unlucky discovery.”

As for me—and I think I speak for my mother as well—we don’t need any zembianity. We choose serendipity, especially if it includes a surprising amount of chocolate.

 

Preserved TB house on grounds.  1909-1947, over 12,000 TB patients stayed in Colorado TB houses to breathe in the high altitude's dry air and healing properties.

Preserved TB house on grounds. 1909-1947, over 12,000 TB patients stayed in Colorado TB houses to breathe in the high altitude’s dry air and healing properties.

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

Harpists practice for their Saturday night recital.

Harpists practice for their Saturday night recital.

 

1945 statue of St. Francis near the entrance to the Franciscan Center.

1945 statue of St. Francis near the entrance to the Franciscan Center.

Trail leading to the cemetery.

Trail leading to the cemetery.

 

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Filed under art, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, Things to be thankful for, writing

THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD


Yesterday I received great 2012 news, a message from Pamela Zimmer awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Along with receiving the award came the responsibility of writing 7 things about myself that haven’t been covered in my blog.

Here they are:

1) I grew up in Fort Scott, formerly a fort established in 1842 in the southeastern part of what was Bloody Kansas.  It is the location of the #1 National Cemetery, the home town of author/photographer Gordon Parks, and the current home of many exceptional and wonderful people, including my mom (who is the inspiration of my blog, “Things I Want to Tell My Mother.”)

2) I moved to Colorado Springs, and for 30 years I taught high school English, literature, speech and creative writing (and for part of the time coached debate and Mock Trial). Despite a handful of impossible students, parents and administrators along the way, I wouldn’t have traded this for any other career.

3) Because of this blog, I’ve met talented, insightful, surprising and creative bloggers from all over the country, plus Canada and Finland.

4) My published writing credits–short stories, articles, essays, memoir pieces and a play, ranging from mainstream to religious to horror to children’s to True Confessions–may make me seem like I have multiple personalities.  Actually…

5) I have a short attention span for writing topics, and I love trying a variety of genres.

6) I am proud to belong to Colorado Authors League, SCBWI, National League of American Pen Women, and the lesser known but equally important and inspiring Wednesday Wonder Writers (which also includes Thursday now).

7) My favorite “other” name is Mor-Mor (Swedish for mother’s mother), especially when it’s accompanied with hugs and kisses from our grandchildren.

The tradition of the Versatile Blogger Award is to list other blogs that deserve this award.  As it turns out, some of my favorites have already received this recognition: pamelazimmer.wordpress.com; lesliehobson.wordpress.com; susanwritesprecise.com; nineteenfortyeight.wordpress.com.

Here are four more great blogs that deserve The Versatile Blogger Award:

http://tomstronach.blogspot.com (of Essex UK)

http://jwmanus.wordpress.com

http://lynnobermoeller.blogspot.com

http://viviankirkfield.wordpress.com

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Filed under memories for grandchildren, The Versatile Blogger Award, writing