Write Anywhere #76 Bone Museum

It’s been a long hiatus here on the blog. Life went sideways but Keeper Hubby and I have left Oklahoma and landed mostly intact in our little apartment near Lexington, Kentucky. I hope to be posting more often now.

A funny thing happened on the way to Kentucky… not really. I injured my hip during the move, and developed a severe case of plantar fasciatis. Left hip, right foot. Not much locomotion happening now. I’m continuing to heal thanks to physical therapy, but in the meantime I’m mainly confined to the house. It’s very frustrating when you’re used to being independent and going places whenever you choose, and then you can’t. I’m anxious to begin exploring my new surroundings, but I’ll have to listen to my body for now.

The isolation has given me time to reflect on this new season of life.

The nest is officially empty: Artist Daughter and her hubby Saint Nick have gone off on an adventure of their own in the Big Sky Country of Montana. Poet Son likes it there, too.

Musician Daughter, Musician-In-Law, and Destined-To-Be-A-Musician are still in The Middle happily expecting to make their group a quartet in the fall. I’m happy for them all, but find myself nostalgic, the phrase “Remember when…” popping out of of my mouth almost daily.

I’m working hard on focusing forward, working on my health and my writing. Write Anywhere venues will be limited during my rehabilitation, however. My goal at this point is to get out once a month, at least until I am physically back to 100%, to discover new places to fuel creativity.

In the meantime I was fortunate to have one last Write Anywhere outing in Oklahoma with my youngest before we all went our separate ways. Artist Daughter invited me to spend the day with her. She advised I should bring my camera, because photography would be the main activity. I love taking photos, but little did I know I’d not only be preserving the trip in photos, but preserving my time with her in my heart.

Write Anywhere #76: Bone Museum

Museum of Osteology Oklahoma City Oklahoma photo by kristin nador

Artist Daughter had the whole trip planned out. She’d wanted to visit the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City for a long time, and this was her last chance before leaving the area. We’d drive two hours to the museum, then grab a bite before heading back. She printed a map to get there, and prepared a list of restaurant possibilities. Artist Daughter doesn’t plan things, so I knew she was serious about it. I decided to put aside my trepidation at visiting a museum filled with skeletons and tag along.

The weather started out clear, but as we drove west, clouds began filling the skies. It didn’t matter, it was sunshine and smiles inside the car. A.D. chattered away about her coming move to Montana. In between her thoughts on mountain air, snow, and her new job, she’d check the map and tell me to turn this way or that. When we finally pulled into the parking lot of a German restaurant on the northwest side of the city, she realized she printed out the wrong map. We were supposed to be in the southern outskirts of OKC instead.

Points for trying.

We laughed about our ‘extra’ trip while the temperature plummeted and fat raindrops followed us to the museum.

whale ribs and vertebrae, Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

whale ribs and vertebrae

The Museum of Osteology is the only skeleton museum in the country. It houses over 300 skeletons, both animal and human. They focus on educating patrons about the importance of skeletal structure and its function in living creatures. I thought it might be creepy, but I was willing to endure for the sake of Artist Daughter. She wanted to photograph the exhibits for a series of sketches and oil paintings she planned on completing. Unlike many museums, this one encourages photography.

Cars filled the parking lot to capacity around the small nondescript building, which surprised me. I thought we’d be the only ones checking out skeletons on a Saturday afternoon. What looked plain on the outside was anything but on the inside.

Greeting us in the foyer where we purchased museum entry were an array of horned animal skulls, such as gazelle, mountain goat, deer and elk along the walls.

Antlers and horns, Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

Antlers and horns greet us

A whale skull towered over the entrance. Amazing.

Whale skull, Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

Whale’s skull. Compare to the door. Amazing.

In the corner of the foyer, a glass exhibit showed one of the more efficient ways the museum and the company Skulls Unlimited prepare the skeletons: dermestid beetles ‘clean’ bones by eating all the tissue off carcass bones. Fascinating but gross.

Dermestid beetles cleaning lion bones, Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

Dermestid beetles enjoying a meal

Some of the collections include primates, reptiles, birds, forensic pathology, and Oklahoma wildlife.

Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

Reptile skeleton, Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

Giraffe Skull, Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

Armadillo skeletons, Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

I made my way around the museum, then made a second pass. Among the Girl Scouts completing the museum’s scavenger hunt, young couples, and parents pushing strollers, I spotted Artist Daughter. When I had already walked through the museum’s two levels twice, she was only at the third exhibit, painstakingly taking photographs of each and every skull and skeleton. I took about a hundred photos, she took thousands. When it comes to her art, she is focused and meticulous.

I found a bench in front of a television monitor showing ‘Dirty Jobs’ host Mike Rowe’s visit to Skulls Unlimited, and pulled out my notebook for a little writing.

Bones are foundational structures. They are strong, giving shape and strength. Bones grow with the organism, protect it. They are at the same time delicate, and with the wrong pressure can be broken. Mothers and daughters have a similar journey.

I remember…

little fingers and toes.

how she used to grind her first front teeth.

tiny girl with porcelain hands and sapphire eyes.

her bones grew straight. Her teeth didn’t. She endured the never-ending orthodontia like a trooper.

my shock at her stubborn streak, and my greater shock when I realized where she got it from.

her laugh, which she hid in the folds of adolescence for a time, now fills the air like wind chimes in the breeze. Saint Nick has a lot to do with that.

 

I watched her snap photos, so focused, so excited for her future, thinking how proud I am of her, and the woman she’s become. The finality of my children leaving hit me. I stared at a display case of shark teeth, trying not to cry.

Like bones, our relationship is solid. Same as my other two, but also completely different. Add to the mix a layer of new: new ways to communicate, new ways to let go and let them choose, decide, live. New ways for me to advise, cheer, accept.

And always the memories: her first step, the time she survived falling down the stairs in her walker, the time I survived her bald haircut, piles of paper filled with sketches, layers of curls and lace as she walked down the aisle.

We finished at the museum, but not before A.D. bought a replica skull of some critter to add to her ‘collection’.

We finished out the day with Thai food and lots of conversation. I knew I wouldn’t get to see her for a while, so I savored the words while I sipped the Tom Yum. Even though we’ll talk and text and Skype, I will miss her every day.

I miss Poet Son and Musician Daughter, too. But somehow my youngest child is a bridge between two lives for me.

My first life: three children, evenly spaced enough to experience each ’stage’ of maturity at different times, but get the flu altogether at Christmas. Homeschool field trips and macaroni and cheese. Piles of laundry, Oklahoma red dirt and hot wind. Sunday school verses and Barbies. Arguments and piano lessons. Oldies on the radio and Pokemon cards across the floor.

I can always visit my first life through the stories. Writing them, speaking them, sharing them. I will always love that life, without regrets.

My second life is unwritten. A little scary, the deadlines seem closer, but it’s time to start writing it. Time for new adventures. Time to collect new stories. Ready, set, go.

Where did you write this week?

 

What Exactly Does Facebook “Friend” Mean? The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

kristin nador:

Have you ever been offended by a Facebook ‘friend’s status? ‘Unfriended’ (how is this a word now?) someone because of what they post? Thought about chucking it all and deleting your Facebook account?
Read this blog post from the wonderful Kristen Lamb, where she honestly deconstructs Facebook friends, virtual offenses, and how to deal with them all.

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

WANAs at DFWWWCon

WANAs at DFWWWCon

What is a “friend?” That’s a good question. One of my personal peeves about The Modern Age, is that English is a very rich language and too often words are employed as a synonym when they aren’t. A HUGE bugaboo? A 13 year-old girl cannot be mature unless maybe she survived a concentration camp or other horrific events (and even then she could actually be emotionally stunted). Maturity only comes from life experience. She is too young to be mature.

The kid can be precocious, meaning she seems very adult-like. The danger in using these two words as synonyms is they AREN’T. Often a precocious child will be given more freedom than is age-appropriate or even handed burdens and responsibilities that are NOT age-appropriate.

For instance, I did most of the accounting, banking and bills by the age of twelve. I helped my mother get through nursing…

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Writing Process Blog Hop: My Writing Process

Today I’m part of ‘The Writing Process’ Blog Hop.

Author Linda Austin graciously invited me to join. Linda is the author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight and Poems That Come To Mind. She also helps others tell their life stories and focuses on the WWII generation. Please visit her over at Moonbridge Books where you can discover her writing process and more of her writings. Thanks Linda!

The blog hop asks 4 questions to each author about their writing process. Here are the questions and my answers:

1) What are you working on?

I am currently revising my first novel, which I finished at the end of December 2013. It’s a contemporary suspense novel about a female Iraq war veteran’s fight to keep herself and her daughter alive during a weekend in Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains. She must face an enemy she never expected, as well as the ghosts haunting her since those days in the Iraqi desert.

I’ve also been doing some basic outlining on a generational historical fiction set in St. Louis and Denver in the 1890’s. And to be real, because I’ve been busy moving from Oklahoma to Kentucky, I’ve only been working sporadically on these projects for the last six weeks or so. I’m looking forward to settling into a writing routine again.

2) How does your work differ from others of this genre?

My focus is on writing stories of strong, courageous women. The genres may be different, but what connects them are vital, determined women hoping to make a difference in their worlds.

3) Why do you want to write what you write?

I think all the stories I want to tell are in some way exploring myself, peeling back the layers in a ’safe’ way. But I also discover these characters, these women, who want to tell their story, and they demand a voice. I guess that’s what keeps me from giving up and flushing it all down the toilet. :)

4) How does your writing process work?

When I’m ready to get to work, hot tea and listening to christian monks sing gregorian chant (yes, it’s on iTunes) sort of ‘clears the pipes’ and I sit down at my desk. Some days I’m on the keyboard. When I want to hash something out, I write it longhand. Sometimes I use a timer to work in 20 or 30 minutes chunks. Other times I sort of multi-task (which means play on social media) and I get some writing done, but not as much as if I force myself to focus. Imagine all the books that would have been written if we writers weren’t so busy liking and tweeting! Truth.

Now that I’ve answered the questions about my writing process, join my three author friends next Monday, April 14th, when they join the blog hop and give you the scoop on their writing process.

What is your writing process like? What are your answers to the four questions? Please share in the comments. Happy Writing!

Moving Forward When Life Goes Sideways

Smash, courtesy Jef Poskanzer, Creative Commons

Smash, courtesy Jef Poskanzer, Creative Commons

I had a plan. I really did.

It was a great plan.

A calendar filled with my writing plans, blog posts, and craft book study for 2014. It was going to be a great year. I was going to be productive, prolific, and positive.

That lasted about one month.

Then life happened.

Unemployment, urgent money issues, health and pain issues, surgeries.

In the midst of all that, Artist Daughter and Saint Nick, along with Poet Son moved to the mountains of Montana. Although I am happy for their adventure, my home and my mother’s heart is a little emptier.

I feel the specters of anxiety and depression tapping at the window, hoping I’ll throw up the sash and let them stay a while.

And just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, they got better.

(You thought I was going to go on whining, didn’t you?)

As it seems to happen, grace flows in the midst of struggle, and a job opportunity presented itself. Now Keeper Hubby and I will also be traveling a new path, discovering a new adventure.

We’ll be leaving behind the purple sunsets of Oklahoma that we’ve grown to love for seventeen years for the bluegrass of Lexington, Kentucky.

So as surgeries heal and health improves, we are busy with packing, selling our house, and trying to figure out how to move four cats 725 miles (!)

And why tell you all this?

Because maybe you had a plan, too.

And life got all stuck and smeared in the teeth of your plans, like a piece of black licorice that reveals itself every time you smile.

Learn to ebb and flow with the things we can’t control by corralling the things we can control.

Be gentle with yourself.

Find your peace on the inside.

Flow around obstacles like water.

When the chaos slows down, you can easily readjust to being productive, prolific, and positive.

That’s my plan, anyway. ;)

I apologize for the huge silence on this blog for the last month, and I may be posting less often until the dust settles, but I hope you’ll stick it out with me.

I’m still going to work that writing and blog post plan going forward, and now some opportunities for new Write Anywhere venues seem likely.

Have you had any chaotic life situations that have thwarted your writing plans? How did you handle it?

100+ Ways To Maximize Your Creativity in 2014

788px-Jigsaw_(When_Art_Imitates_Life)_(8164506694)

jigsaw, (When Art Imitates Life) courtesy of russavia, Creative Commons

What are your plans for 2014?

A new writing project? Getting back to something you let drop last year? Getting healthy, working on relationships?

A new year means a new beginning, a chance to re-invent how you do life. Time to reassess, refocus, recommit. We make resolutions to stop bad habits and start new ones.

It’s also a great time to get new inspiration for your creative self. Doing something different stretches you, keeps ideas fresh, helps you explore new mindsets. I’m a list girl (just ask Keeper Hubby about my piles of lists) so I collected this list of creativity hacks with links to help fire up the sparks. Some may be simple, others harder or more expensive, but if you’re committed to having your best creative year, some of the ideas in this list could help your imagination go where it’s never gone before.

Build your brain, start new pathways of thought, break down fear barriers that have blocked your art, and have fun. My plan is to try something on this list each week, in addition to drilling down on my daily writing time. 2014 is the year to let your creativity loose!

  1. Sleep for eight hours every night.
  2. Take a walk.
  3. Keep a dream journal.
  4. Create at the same time every day.
  5. Create at a different time of day.
  6. Listen to Mozart. Or Samba. Or Nirvana.
  7. Shape something (play-doh, clay, pottery, bread) with your hands.
  8. Sketch your ideas.
  9. Listen to TED talks about creativity.
  10. Spend time in nature.
  11. Attend a poetry reading.
  12. Keep yourself hydrated.
  13. Go people watching.
  14. Observe others’ power of observation: see how many days you can wear the same outfit/clothing item before someone notices. (Note: permission to wash items while testing this theory.)
  15. Learn a new language.
  16. Try Karaoke.
  17. Paint a picture.
  18. Schedule your daydreaming.
  19. Learn to code.
  20. Practice Tai Chi.
  21. Play old school board games.
  22. Write with a fountain pen.
  23. Repurpose an item in your house into something new.
  24. Fold paper.
  25. Dance like nobody’s watching.
  26. Put together a comedy routine for an open-mike night (or family night).
  27. Explore craft ideas on Pinterest.
  28. Write a short story in a genre you’ve never tried before.
  29. Play a brain game: Sudoku, Scrabble, Mahjongg, etc.
  30. Create a prompt box or file with first lines/ideas and pick one a week.
  31. Laugh.
  32. Freewrite.
  33. Walk away from a project for a while.
  34. Color in a coloring book.
  35. Wear a wig for a day.
  36. Write in a different direction on lined paper.
  37. Increase the awareness of each of your senses for ten minutes per day.
  38. Make a Pinterest inspiration board.
  39. Teach your hands something new.
  40. Visit an art museum or gallery.
  41. Spend time with some children you know. Ask them questions to get a different perspective on life.
  42. Exercise.
  43. Do a mind map.
  44. Move your eyes back and forth.
  45. Read fiction.
  46. Purposely make something imperfect. Enjoy the freedom.
  47. Start a creatives group. (Think of Hemingway and his pals in Paris.)
  48. Wake up and write.
  49. Keep a daily journal.
  50. Create a persona and take it for a walk in public.
  51. Turn off your email/computer/smartphone.
  52. Meditate.
  53. Fail.
  54. Have a well-established way to capture ideas. You’re more likely to let ideas float around your head because you aren’t afraid to lose them.
  55. Experience live music.
  56. Be a fashion maverick. Wear something you love even if it’s not in style.
  57. Enter an arts contest. (writing, photography, state fairs)
  58. Spend a day completely by yourself.
  59. Visit a public garden.
  60. Play a video game.
  61. Make a vision board.
  62. Go barefoot in public.
  63. Write a letter to someone you haven’t been in contact with for a while.
  64. Build a birdfeeder.
  65. Create a comic book character.
  66. Write a story about something you’ve never told anyone with pen and paper. When you finish, burn it.
  67. Learn to play an instrument.
  68. Memorize a passage or quote that inspires or is important to you.
  69. Declutter your desk.
  70. Declutter a room.
  71. Change the lighting in a room.
  72. Light some candles.
  73. Make a list.
  74. Expand your social circles. Meet different people, and people who are different from you.
  75. Doodle.
  76. Pray.
  77. Plant a garden.
  78. Take a class.
  79. Eat ‘brain foods’.
  80. Do yoga.
  81. Choose colors that promote creativity.
  82. Learn something new every day.
  83. Drink coffee.
  84. Time your creativity.
  85. Take a social media sabbatical.
  86. Drink green tea.
  87. Take a nap.
  88. Think about a happy memory.
  89. Eavesdrop on conversations in public.
  90. Decide there is no right or wrong way to think about a problem or project.
  91. Read biographies of successful creatives.
  92. Dim the lights.
  93. Learn about Method acting techniques.
  94. Make a YouTube video.
  95. Make an art project using only your feet.
  96. Volunteer.
  97. Watch a sunrise.
  98. Watch a sunset.
  99. Imagine the opposite.
  100. Spend time in another climate or culture. (This one takes planning and $$)
  101. Read classic literature.
  102. Take a photo a day. Try Fat Mum Slim’s photo challenge for inspiration.
  103. Make a conscious decision every day to reject perfectionistic thinking.
  104. Snuggle with a pet.
  105. Soak in a bath.
  106. Play ‘What if?’ Let your mind follow the ideas no matter how silly.
  107. Learn to knit, crochet, embroider.
  108. Watch a travel show or attend a travelogue.
  109. Solve a problem by imagining a fictional invention.
  110. Build with Legos.
  111. Watch the midnight sky.
  112. Relax.

And write. Write to let the percolating ideas flow. What will you do to be more creative in 2014?