Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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The {Short} Story of Lou

Today I am participating in a challenge…

to write a blog each day in the month of May.

When I woke up today I had no such agenda. But when I looked at my blogging friend Jenny‘s blog, and saw that she was going to do this challenge… based on this other girl, Jenni‘s blog… well, I just had to join in. I will try my hardest.

Each day is guided with a prompt, which is pretty cool. Today’s blog?

Day 1, Wednesday: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph… no one will be counting your words… probably)

new mexico, writer, young adult

see? always meant to be in NM :)

Melinda Grey (Wilder) Williams never wanted to be a writer. She grew up a pastor’s kid (still is one to this day {Lutheran, in case you were wondering}) and was born in Virginia, lived in Minnesota, until finally coming to New Mexico, which she considers home. When all the kids in class knew what they wanted to be, Melinda stayed quiet and simply couldn’t decide. But she always loved to read. Her first favorite book was Where The Red Fern Grows. Then it was To Kill a Mockingbird. Later on in life, she discovered many more books (Catcher in the Rye, A Prayer for Owen Meany, 1984, Middlesex, etc) that continued to change her life. She considers Tom Joad in Grapes of Wrath to be the best character ever written. She calls him her literary crush. It wasn’t until college, when prompted to write a Young Adult fiction “first chapter,” that she began to write her own fiction and fell in love with writing. She finally knew what she wanted to do and she is doing her best to make that happen. Melinda is lucky enough to be married to a great guy, Greg. She has three loving sisters (two older, one twin) and great parents. Growing up she was shy and awkward,

meredith and me... awkward middle schoolers, but at least awkward together

meredith and me… awkward middle schoolers, but at least awkward together

but that has surely changed (at least the shy part.) She likes who she has become and what she believes in. She is no longer afraid to speak out for a cause (like boycotting GMOs, supporting local and/or organic, awareness of factory conditions for animals, & saving the BEES, just to name a few.) Melinda is currently building a chicken coop in her backyard, growing a garden she hopes will proved a large portion of her food, and working at a bakery. She has written three complete manuscripts and writes Every. Single. Day. Because being a published author is Plan A, not Plan B. Life is good! Melinda wakes up every day wondering how she got so lucky.

writing, fiction, short story

Lou & Lou… so lucky

That’s me in about 250+ words. Now you know a little bit more about me, Melinda, AKA Lou.

Also- Today was a busy, great day!

flowers, garden, writing

“before”

I worked in the yard with Greg for hours. HOURS. We planted a flower bed (above… will hopefully have an “after” picture in the next few weeks!), shoveled pounds and pounds of compost, pulled weeds, neatly stored away our hoop houses for the garden, placed small logs around the periphery of our vegetable garden AND THEN went to run a 5K with my friend. Every second was a blast.  All the proceeds of this run went to Boston Relief. I am so grateful to have a body that is able to run and work in the yard. I am so thankful to be safe at home tonight.

And how cool is this? My dinner will have part of my garden in it! Spinach and garlic!!!

melinda, writer, young adult fiction

did you know young garlic looks like this?

Hope you all had a good day, too!!

<3  Lou

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Can You Find What’s Missing?

Sometimes people ask me one simple question:

How do you find time to write?

And workout? And read an entire book in less than a week? And cook all of my meals from scratch? And spend a large portion of my day just sitting outside, watching birds or gardening or hanging up the laundry to dry? 

Okay, I added all of the others, after the first simple question, How do I find time to write? But I’ve had at least a few people ask me these questions at different times. I really have. And I will be the FIRST to admit that I don’t have a perfect scheduled out system to my life. I forget things, I make mistakes and I do waste time.

Just not very often.

Let me give you a clue as to WHY.

Here are some pictures, taken at different angles, of my living room/dining room.

hey lou, writing, new writer, short stories

Piano and bookshelf

Greg plays the piano ALL THE TIME!!! Coolest thing about it? I grew up with my dad playing this very same piano. My parents recently bought a new vintage piano and gave us this one. Also- this bookshelf is inside the wall. No space is wasted and it is beautifully carved out of wood.

Here’s a close up of the picture of my grandmother, which is sitting on the piano.

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

Okay, more pictures. Keep looking to find out what’s missing!!!

hey lou writes, young adult, short stories

“Dining room” and front door

Best part of this picture is the table that my parents bought when they were newlyweds. I wouldn’t buy a new one, ever.

writing, short stories, new writer

Christmas trees and music :)

Yes, we keep our Christmas tree up all year long. We’ve had it up since October 31st, 2010, when we bought it on sale at Hobby Lobby. This room is usually filled with band equipment for Wildewood.

Justin Townes Earle, couch, hey lou writes, writing, reading

Where I read!

And there you have it. The rest of the house is similar. We have a small bedroom with hardly anything inside, a laundry room with a computer for Greg to work on music recordings, and another room that stores most of Wildewood’s equipment and Greg’s big drum set. It’s a modest, yet amazingly comfortable and spacious living arrangement. Oh, it’s also on a half acre. Don’t ask me how we got so lucky. But ask me how often I thank God for such a home. Answer: Every single day.

Did you see it? Or NOT see it? Have you guessed it yet?

I can read, write, blog, clean, sit in the warm sun, garden, workout and spend time with my husband ….ALL BECAUSE…

We have no TV. There it is. This is not a TV bashing blog, either. But will I ever own one again? Not for all the money in the world. (Okay, come to me with a million dollars and I might buy one. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be where anyone can see it) 

In our last place, a small apartment, I really tried to evaluate why I was either unhappy (at times), felt lazy or fat (at times), or felt disconnected with the world around me (almost all the time.) I remember this specific moment. I was watching a “reality” show. Maybe it was The Hills? I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is this: I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh. Here I am, watching someone else live their life. How lame. I need to go live my own life!” And there you have it. Greg and I moved into this place, got rid of our TV, and we’ve never looked back.

I know what some of you are thinking. But, Melinda, The Hills is trash reality TV and I watch great shows or the Food Network or the Discovery Channel… I don’t waste time. I learn and laugh and relax after a really long day. 

Well, I say HOORAY for all of those people who do exactly that. I would say in the beginning that I did miss those “good” TV shows. I like watching other people cook. I love a good special on Abraham Lincoln or a newly discovered animal in the ocean. But do I still miss it at all? Does it even EVER cross my mind? No.

In fact, I am still very busy and on the days when I have zero time to relax, I often wonder how in the world anyone has time for TV. I know that most people are on even tighter schedules than I am! Explain that!

Having no TV hardly makes me a hermit, either. We have Netflix and we watch movies on our laptop. Um… we have the INTERNET… so, yeah, it’s not like we miss out on any news. Simply having a twitter account makes me weirdly more informed about the world than I ever wanted to be.

I recently read this awesome blog about budgeting money. It made me think. I may not be the best at budgeting money, but I have become really good at budgeting my time. It’s something I can truly say I’ve grown to be good at, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Here’s what a typical day looks like for the Williams household:

A.M.

Greg and I try to wake up together, and unless he has to work at 5 (yikes!), which is rare, we make this happen. Our usual wake up time is anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00, depending. We wake up at LEAST an hour and a half before either of us have to leave. Why? So we can do this:

-Greg makes the coffee

-I made the breakfasts

-Weather permitting, we sit outside to eat and drink

-We might both spend 30 minutes reading

-We might start chatting, which I always love

-I’ll go for a thirty minute run or do a workout at home

-We talk about our days, challenges we might face, and how excited we are for the relaxing evening to come

MID DAY

Greg and I both work. He works full time and I work part time. (I do, however, spend more than a full timer’s worth of time writing.) If we happen to have a day off together, you can bet we’ve done these things:

-Pulled weeds/gardened

-Gone on a short walk

-Made some more coffee and sat outside (bird watching is our new hobby)

-Read more

-I write

-Greg will practice harmonica/drums/piano

-Whip up a good and healthy lunch

-Do laundry, sweep the floor

-Laugh our heads off at least three times (Greg is the funniest person I know)

P.M. 

This is where life really gets busy. Greg, being in a band, has lots of practices and shows. On a rare evening when we have “nothing” to do we’ll make time for:

-Making dinner together

-Talking about our day

-Getting caught up on life… dishes, putting AWAY the previously washed laundry… etc

-Reading some more

-Writing some more

-Practicing music some more

-Going on that run, if I didn’t get to it in the A.M.

See what I mean? Nowhere in there do we have space or a care to “budget” our time to fit in TV watching. Books are better, anyway. It might seem boring. I’m sure what I’ve just described, as a life being lived, seems utterly unexciting to the untrained eye. However, it is anything BUT. We spend quality time. I’ve learned to appreciate the sound of birds and learning what type they are. I’ve learned to savor each moment of silence I can muster up in a day, preferably with Greg right alongside me. I’ve learned to garden and I actually look forward to picking weeds. I get to be outside, I’m healthy and have a body that’s able, and I am caring for something that will provide me with vegetables and fruit to eat.

One drawback, if you can call it that, is how sensitive I have become to too much noise and distraction. I feel just a tad overwhelmed when I am somewhere with TVs blaring or a hundred different sounds buzzing around my head. I feel as if I can’t even listen to or hear the person sitting right next to me. Even in the car, if Greg and I have music playing, we’ll usually both reach to turn it down at the exact same time, and laugh and say, “I couldn’t hear a word you were saying.”

I guess that means I’ve learned to give my full attention to one thing at a time. Plus, I’m addicted to reading. This past month we got our Netflix DVD in the mail and we put off watching the movie for two weeks because each night, when it came down to it, Greg and I both opted for our books instead.

I’m not saying you should go throw your TV out on the curb today. I realize that for some people, this is extreme. (Like the lady who told us we were practically Amish for not owning a microwave… I think she’d faint if she read this.) But just like my last post about phones, I guess the reason for writing this is to encourage people to follow their dreams and not have distractions from those dreams. IMAGINE what you could accomplish if instead of watching TV for two hours a day, you did something productive… something you’ve always wanted to do. Like…

-get in shape (those two hours could be spend hitting the pavement)

-WRITE (it takes tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime)

-sign up for an art class

-volunteer

-go outside and TAKE A WALK (the most therapeutic thing on the planet, in my opinion)

-or whatever it is you’ve been putting off!!

JUST DO IT! (like Nike says…)

Your brain, body, and family will thank you for it. I promise! Feel free to ask me anything about my no-TV household. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I have a LOT MORE to say, believe it or not.

Let me know how it goes, or if you do something similar!

<3 Lou


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I Ran, I Read, I Cried

I had quite the weekend. I would consider myself having had TWO workouts.

The first, was the 5K Color Me Rad run I completed with my older sister, Emily.

reading, writing, melinda williams

at the finish line!

If you haven’t heard of this, or if no color run of any sort has graced your own city or town, it’s kind of weird. People run around for 3.1 miles and there are these stations where you get hosed down, sprinkled, or thrown buckets of paint on your person. People show up wearing white. They leave looking colorful (or like they just have on a green shirt! Emily got the bucket!)

I’m really happy because I didn’t have to stop and walk, which was my big goal. Yayyyy

writing, running, reading, hey lou

I thought this really shows just HOW colorful everything was!

It was super fun!! I highly recommend you find one of these races and participate. Families with little kids were walking the course and the kids loved getting paint on their clothes!

Alright. My other workout was one of the best whole body workouts, definitely including the abs quite a bit. It left me a little sore.

Doesn’t that happen to you, too, after you’ve sobbed your eyes out reading a book?

It totally happened to me.

I read Barbara Kingsolver’s greatest novel, The Poisonwood Bible. Again  AGAIN!  I judged a book by its cover. Why do I keep doing this? This is another book, lent to me by the same person as the last book I so wrongfully judged. It sat on my bookshelf for many days. This cover stared at me.

reading, writing, short stories, young adult

it’s kind of a cool cover, actually

I feel in love with this book and wound up finishing it in two days. I could NOT put it down. I brought it in the car, just in case I turned up early anyplace and I could read for another precious few minutes. I hardly slept. Maybe part of running the 5K and not walking at all was simply my determination to get home and read… ha  just kidding!

If you read this, get ready. You will need a whole box of tissues, or you will simply have to throw whatever sweater you were wearing into the wash.

But you should also get ready to laugh out loud, cringe, pick up some new sayings, and have some preconceived notions thrown out the window. I know I did all of these things.

The family in this book is similar to my own in a few ways:

There are four daughters, two of which are twins

The father is a pastor (mine’s Lutheran, in the book, they’re Baptist)

My grandpa (mom’s dad) grew up in Madagascar with this missionary parents (and wrote a book about it!) 

reading, writing, missionary

I know, so cool, right??!

The family in this book is also very different from my family in a few ways, too.

Our minister dad isn’t totally and awfully abusive, like in the book (writing Bible verses as punishment just doesn’t seem to match up with what they’re actually there for… )

The youngest two in my family are twins, not the middle two

None of us have been to Africa

That’s just to name a few ;)

Yet again I read a book that made me reevaluate my entire life. It gave me a new perspective on my own country, my home and the way I judge people. It seems that is all books have been doing for me lately, which I am thankful for.

When I put the book down, I LITERALLY stood up and was overwhelmed by the size of my living room. It felt humungous… It took many steps for me to get to my kitchen, which just absolutely shocked me. Weird, I know. But you have to understand – for two days I’d been living inside the book, meaning I was living inside a tiny mud hut in a small village in the Congo and I had almost zero resources. Walking across a wood floor in an adobe house with everything in the kitchen I could ever want was suddenly amazing. I made my dinner in a daze. I took out my frozen peas, heated them up on the stove with soy sauce and a little tofu, put it on a bed of arugula and added olive oil. I hadn’t quite considered the technology it took for all of that to end up on my dinner plate.

I felt ashamed of the life I live, thankful for the life I live, wary of the choices people in high places have made all throughout history, yet hopeful. This book did it all.

I was riddled with the smart and witty quotes.

“I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.”

“Sugar, it’s no parade but you’ll get down the street one way or another, so you’d just as well throw your shoulders back and pick up the pace.”

“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”

The Poisonwood Bible also made me stray away from my usual and slightly ignorant belief that I should feel sorry for people with less. This book showed the beauty of living with practically nothing. The people in the Congo (at least in the village written about in this book) lived on one primary source of food, a gooey and tasteless substance, but it was simple and kept them alive for hundreds of years. They had homes made of mud, one pair of clothes (if even) and schooling wasn’t a top priority. They were smart in other ways. I am reminded of that famous quote:

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein 

I am now a Kingsolver fan. Next on my list is her book about living a year on only local food (something I wanted to do!) called Animal Vegetable Miracle. Can’t wait!!

Don’t forget how lucky and blessed you are on this fine morning. If you’ve complained about the size of your home or the fact that your car isn’t nice enough, you definitely need to read Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver :)

You’ll wind up a much more content person if you do!

<3


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Bad Poetry, Bowl Cuts & The Past

We have all done things we regret. Right? Please don’t tell me I’m alone. I’ve done things that I still feel guilty about. I’ve also done things that are embarrassing or just silly. I can’t change the past, even if I really, really want to. Too bad. I can, however, use what I’ve learned and start a better future. My husband Greg always says, in moments when I’m down, “Don’t water last year’s crops.”

It says so much. Last years crops are dead and gone and there’s absolutely no point in watering them. Do, however, water this year’s crops- the ones growing right now. I need to nourish the future I have by taking care of my present. That silly old past- it won’t get me down!!

Here are a few examples of past moments I need to move on from (go ahead, laugh… you’ll be laughing with me, not at me… I think)

My first acrostic poem:

poetry, past, writing, young adult, fiction

Looks kind of violent from far away- all that red

For anyone who might have trouble reading this, it says:

M elinda how creative was that? at least I used two different colors

E nergetic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still love the exclamation point, to a fault

L emen   ? maybe, although that’s debatable. I do like lemons, though

I nsperacian   my spelling did improve, with time

N eet   never, have I ever in my life been “neet”… or neat

D o   well, that’s just common sense. I do lots of things

A ward   I like to think I’d just won some great award in my classroom, but there’s no solid evidence for that

I’ve been humbled by so many things. I’ve learned not to compare myself to my sisters (my twin, Meredith, wrote a poem just like this and hers is awesome!! straight lines, correct spelling, and words that actually described her) If I did that, I’d just go crazy. I’ve learned to laugh at things that might be embarrassing… like… LIKE THIS PICTURE!!!!

My first “mistake” haircut:

fiction, past, young adult, fictiion

most likely, I wrote the poem around this same time (yikes)

I looked like a boy. My bowl cut matched the baby Tommy doll in the case I’m holding. I think that’s a classic Christmas morning nightgown. I had braces at age 6… brutal.

But I digress.

This beautiful, coherent acrostic poem (and the bowl cut) is in my past. I can’t change that! (which I’m completely okay with…I’m one of those people who can laugh at myself…thank goodness) But you know what else? Something I CAN do?? I can write a new one!!! Yes!!

Here is a new version, written today.

M elinda some things from our pasts shouldn’t change, so there, I kept the original M

E nigmatic sometimes…

L aughing daily

I nterested in almost everything

N ever neat though I’m working on it

D edicated to those I love and pursuing my dreams

A pprehensive at times

There! Done. Changed, or updated, something from my past.

Although- now that I’ve gone and done that, I think I like the original one better <3

Another example of something I can’t change:

The dreaded brown and short hair. I don’t know what I was thinking. Hadn’t I learned from my childhood, that short hair just isn’t my thing? I went through an identity crisis. Luckily, Greg still proposed when I had this hair, but even more lucky…. it grew back.

My second “mistake” haircut:

past, regrets, writing, fiction

not me at all!

It took years to get back to my “normal” self. In the same way, when I make big mistakes and hurt those I love, it seems as though it can take years (or even longer) for things to go back to normal. Sometimes the people I love most in life surprise me and show me complete grace…forgiving me right away. Greg is the best at this. It is often ME who has a tantrum-like moment and often HIM who smiles and says, “Okay, can we be done arguing now? I just thought of the birds outside and it made me so happy!” Literally. This exact thing has happened.

writing, love, past

Everything is back to normal ;)

I’m so grateful for poetry of my youth, the fact that hair grows back, and people who chose to forgive, rather than hold grudges. I’m thankful for mistakes and the fact that we can LEARN from them, rather than wallow in them forever.

<3

If you’re interested… Here are some examples of my poetry. I like to think I’ve come a long way since the acrostic poem of my younger days, but you should let me know what you think ;)


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How Legends Are Made

Lemon Moon by Wildewood

short stories, writing, young adult, new writer

Alex, Meredith and Greg

GO and LISTEN to this song. Study it. Think on it. Imagine if this folk tale were to be true. (And realize, that it could be…)

The Lemon Moon has become a popular topic in our group of singer/songwriter friends. There are at least five Lemon Moon songs. They all tell different tales of the legend, the stories of who was left behind and the reason the Lemon Moon exists at all. I will be posting the short story (you guessed it, inspired by this legend that Meredith Wilder from Wildewood came up with), chapter by chapter, in the coming weeks!

So really, go listen to this song. Your life will only be better for it!

:)

 

 

Lemon Moon Lyrics

All the people come out and are wandering around

thinking, “Oh, where is my love?”

Everyone who remains is alone

The Lemon Moon has come back to take every better half

where they go, nobody knows

But the sky sees each on his own

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

His eyes were the deepest blue and he used to sing for you, how easily you let him in

Always thinking that he would escape

Now his garden’s turned to disrepair, no more flowers anywhere

but the birds continue their rounds

In the uninspired parade

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

Had I known, would I have looked lower, lower to find somebody not so fine

Fine like the breeze, easily the best being I ever laid my eyes upon


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I Did The Thing You’re Never Supposed to Do

reading, writing, hey lou, short story, young adult

I have to admit it: I did the thing you’re never, ever supposed to do- especially as an avid reader or writer who knows better. And it isn’t the first time I’ve done that, truth be told.

I’ve committed similar crimes. Like the time I broke that sacred rule among all women and excitedly said to a woman I barely know, “Oh my gosh! You’re PREGNANT!!”

And she wasn’t. (I know, I’m still cringing, too. It was awful.)

I’ve done worse things. I’ve learned many lessons on what to say in public (my mom’s rule after a family outing, “Don’t say a word until all the car doors are shut and we’re driving away!”) and when to bite my tongue.

You may not think it’s as big of a deal… this other thing I did, but I do. I’m always glad to be proven wrong, yet I always fall back into the similar pattern. Have you guessed it yet?

I JUDGED A BOOK BY ITS COVER!

That’s right. I do this all the time, despite knowing how wrong covers often are. One solid picture that represents hundreds of written pages? A picture can say a thousand words… it can also misrepresent about 100,000 words!

My latest victim of judgement:

Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

This is the cover I sat and stared at, not really wanting to pick it up:

books, writing, reading, short stories Let’s admit it. It looks kind of cheesy. I guess it’s some tv show now, though I’ve never heard of it. My boss at work gave me this book to read and I ignored it for about a week. I was turned off by the three gals riding bicycles and the funny expressions of the two older women in the bottom picture. I didn’t want to know why the nun looked so smug/full of knowledge/kind. Weird of me, right? I just couldn’t really get past it.

Then I read the first page. And I finished the book in about three days.

It was an excellent, fantastic read! A real page turner.

Set it London in the 1950’s, this book depicts the true accounts of Jennifer, young midwife (about my age), and what she saw and learned and dealt with. I had no idea conditions for people were so awful. My perspective on life has completely changed. It’s one of those books… the kind that have you reevaluating what you take for granted every single day. After reading I realized I am LUCKY and BLESSED beyond belief because I have:

A running toilet, in a nice bathroom (many people in large cities in the 1950’s were still using outhouses or communal bathrooms in apartment buildings… one single “toilet” for hundreds of people)

A house for only two people (small one bedroom apartments would be occupied by a family of six or bigger)

A great hope for a healthy pregnancy with luxuries, such as prenatal visits and a clean facility to show up to (the nuns and young midwives traveled around on their bicycles for home deliveries, mostly to small and overcrowded apartments, as mentioned above)

A husband who is very kind and gentle (domestic abuse was prolific and unspoken)

Plenty of sunshine and green vegetables to eat (rickets were common due to lack of vitamin D, being in the big city and surrounded by tall buildings and therefore, shade, and other deficiencies due to poor nutrition)

A car (the nuns and other midwives seriously only had their bikes. I want to challenge myself to ride my bike when I leave the house, but I just haven’t done that yet. When it’s freezing cold and raining, I’m glad I don’t have to go out with that as my only option)

A job that has great hours and smiling faces and doesn’t include the word “factory” (many worked in factories, some of which were so awful that if a family arrived at the “workhouse” they were all separated – like a concentration camp- and rarely left)

That’s just to name a few. This book was filled with gripping stories of childbirth, poverty, laughter, tears and human nature. Some of Jennifer’s preconceived notions were completely turned upside down. The crazy lady who showed up at almost every birth wasn’t just being a pest, she truly cared to know if they were healthy and alive. The girl who had stolen a large amount of cash wasn’t just a horrible thief- she’d been tricked into prostitution and couldn’t find a way to escape. The women who had the dirtiest apartment was depressed and driven to drink because her husband was so abusive.

I know it’s just a book, but these stories are such a great reminder to me to not judge people. To give them the benefit of the doubt (one of my new years resolutions!) and to look kindly on all people, as you never know what they’re going through. Some stories in this book were hilarious, too. Some filled with joy and hope. Those were my favorite parts.

I highly recommend this book! Just don’t pay any attention to the cover.

:)

 

 


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Now THAT Is Real

writer, hey lou, short stories, young adult, anniversary

My parents… their teen years!

When I look at this picture, I think… “Wow, they certainly look meant to be.” They both had the style going: choker necklaces, long hair, involvement in school, what I would call “hippy mentalities,” kind smiles and good looks.

I’m so thankful that not only did this couple look good together, but they really were meant to be. Today my parents have been married for 33 years.

33 years is a long time!

It was a Tuesday. Kirsten Faye Braaten and William Bruce Wilder were getting ready to make the commitment to love each other forever. Who gets married on a Tuesday? Two people who have to work that very week, who have very little money, and who will get a discount at the hotel where one of them works. That’s who. And you know what? They say they wouldn’t have it any other way. Their small wedding was a special one. A few good friends and their families were there. They had a “reception” that took place at the hotel, in a room that wasn’t booked solely for them. My, how the times have changed.

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Mr. and Mrs. Wilder

It’s no wonder these two made it work with the bare minimum. They were meant to be. My parents hardly knew each other when they got married. They had known each other (somewhat) in college, and then, having spent some time together (a total of about 4 weekends, as they were living in separate places) knew they were meant to be. They said it was like a magical force simply willing them together- that they had hardly a thing to do with it. It was all in God’s plan.

weddings, anniversaries, short stories

my mom, her two new brother in laws, and another groomsmen

Besides, look how cool my mom is. No wonder my dad fell head over heels ;)

short stories, young adult, hey lou writes, writing

my mom, opening wedding presents (we played dressup with the dress she is wearing my entire childhood!)

It doesn’t take a storybook romance to make things work. I know that my parents have had their share of rough times, but they’ve always, always made it through. When I think of my own marriage, I look to them, because they never gave up on each other. They never gave up on their children, on their lot in life or on their faith that things would always be okay.

wedding, marriage, strong, writing

newly weds :)

My parents have never told me to do something because of money or popularity. They’ve encouraged me and all three of my sisters to follow our dreams and be happy in doing so. Maybe it helps that they come from humble beginnings and they know it’s possible to survive on beans, rice, and a lotta love. Because of their example, I like to think I don’t want for much. I can live simply and love much.

My mom told me many times growing up that once I’m married and have started a family, people who might try to get in there and ruin it, or whose lives seem so much more exciting… that they’re just fake. They’re not real. They may look one way, but that’s just an outward appearance. Yes, others might be really exciting and kind and have great lives, but it doesn’t make mine any less. I truly believe that now. I wake up each day to an existence I am happy and content with. More than that… I wake up every day to a life that makes me smile and laugh and wish only for another simple day of the same thing. Just like my mom, I also married a great man. The love of my parents and the love I experience with Greg is something that can’t be made up. Fiction can’t compare.

So thanks, mom and dad. Thanks for sticking together for 33 years.

Because that’s real.

hats, marriage, writing

I love this one! Always having fun, those two…


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Three Days of Muses

I had the best three days EVER!!!! Thursday, Friday and Saturday were amazing in every way. I wish I could experience them over and over, but I’ll settle for writing about it and holding the memories in my heart forever! <3

Basically, I had a chance to see live music. Not just any live music, either. But three musical groups/individuals who inspire my writing. I mean… literally, I have written characters and entire short stories based on their songs. These three above all others. It didn’t even really dawn on me all the way until the very last night. I was brought to tears. It seemed very meant to be and I felt lucky… so lucky!!

Here’s how it went down:

THURDSDAY: WILDEWOOD

short stories, writer, new writer, poetry, young adult, novels, music

Kate Burn Photography…Wildewood

Here is where you can check out some of their music. My short story, Proud Mothers, has a strong relationship with their original song Goodbye Morgan. Lemon Moon is another song for which I’ve written a short story…but that one is a work in progress :) In one of my (currently :) ) unpublished manuscripts, a character named Mason Andrews has characteristics and plot surrounding him- all based on another original by Wildewood, a song called Keep My Distance. When I listen to their music at each and every show I make it to (which is most!) I never fail to get inspired to write something, whether directly related or not. They’re just that good!!!

FRIDAY: DEER TICK

short stories, poetry, young adult, writer, new author

Deer Tick

This picture was taken on my really old school flip phone, but hey! It’s a picture of them! You should check them out here. The lead singer of Deer Tick is also in a band called Middle Brother (favorite songs? Wilderness & Blood and Guts!!), and many of their songs inspire my writing, too. It’s also the Deer Tick song, These Old Shoes, that just so happened to be the first (and maybe last?) song I really learned to play and sing on the guitar. It was fun! To me, that’s the greatest love song of our time.

Bonus: For one song, they called a guest singer onto the stage. Guess who it was? Vanessa Carlton!!! Yeah!! I know!! It was weird. I can only picture her sitting at a huge piano, can’t you? But there she was, at a small-ish bar in Albuquerque, singing along with Deer Tick. She sounded awesome!

I would walk 1,000 miiles....

I would walk 1,000 miles….

and… drum roll please….

SATURDAY: MARK ERELLI

mark erelli, music

OMG! I was shaking!

The name may not ring a bell, but I promise you, if you listen to his music you will not be disappointed. Especially the album he recorded with Jeffrey Foucault (another person you should listen to every day!), Seven Curses. THAT album is the REASON I began to write short stories.

That’s a pretty big deal!!! At least to me it is! So you can imagine what it was like to hear Mark Erelli sing in person. The show was at a house … about fifteen people were there. A new project called “The Standing O” had him come into town and they first interviewed him, then he sang! It was just amazing. It’s the songs The First Mrs. Jones, Wyoming Wind, and Ellis Unit One that made me write my first two short stories ever, I Looked Over Jordan and Wilde Wood Saloon!! I had him sign my short stories!! How cool is that?

short stories, music, mark erelli

“Keep on writing.” Oh Mark, I will!!

The paper stapled to the top is an e-mail I printed out from over a year ago. I wrote to him and he wrote back! I never thought I would get to meet him.

And there you have it. In three days I had beer sloshed onto my feet, sweaty people mosh pitting beside me, fancy chocolate served on a table in a living room, hard cider, sparkling lemonde, and lots of awesome music (I’ll let you figure out which things go with which shows….) ;) .

Thanks Wildewood, Deer Tick and Mark Erelli!!!!!!!

And as ALWAYS, thank YOU for stopping by Hey Lou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Being Patient and Kind <3

I’ve never been a huge believer in giving up something for lent. It can be fun to challenge yourself… but only if it’s just that: FUN. It’s no good to give up something and then make everyone around you as miserable as you are. Am I right, or am I right? I’ve never successfully given up one particular thing for the entire season, which always left me feeling like I didn’t accomplish something I should have.

SO! This year, rather than giving up something, like coffee or sugar or laughter (ha), I decided to add something to my every day life.

Greg and I have been reading 1 Corinthians 13 every single night.

It sounds simple… the “love is patient, love is kind” verse we all know. I have done a lot of thinking on this particular verse of the Bible, and I think that I’ve always passed it over as something that is “too popular.” How ridiculous of me, first of all. We didn’t have it read at our wedding because I wanted to be more original. Again, how ridiculous. The entire chapter is beautiful and meaningful in a way I had never understood until reading it with my husband every night. It’s perfect for a marriage. In fact, I’d say it’s downright required.

I recommend this sort of “every night ritual” for anyone. ANYONE. Single, married, divorced, dating… basically, if you interact with other people at all, this verse could do you some good. Why not try to be patient and kind in all we do? It will only make the world a better place. Why not STOP being envious of other people, STOP being too proud, and start living a more humble and content existence?

I want to be someone who isn’t quick to get angry. Especially before I ever have kids… I’d love to get my temper in check. (not that I have a crazy temper, but we can all use some improvement, I’m sure!) I want to be someone who can forgive and clean off the slate, especially in my marriage. “Love keeps no record of wrongdoing” has been one of the most influential parts of my lent challenge. I’ve let a lot of things go. I want to protect what’s important to me, trust in Greg, never give up hope for our future and persevere through it all. I’m more than three years into my marriage and I can say that I’ve failed in every single one of these and I will probably fail in them again. I’m human. All I can do is try, pray and wake up every day with a smile that we’ve made it this far! Making something real last is worth it.

The result of all this?

I’m happier, smile more often, I feel lighter (in my soul!) and my marriage is in better shape than ever before. If you read something over and over, eventually it takes on a whole new meaning. Each day something different will pop out at you. It’s just like hearing a song and because your life is different than the last time you heard it, the song has completely changed.

I recommend this challenge, and not just for lent. It’s almost over, anyway. I have a feeling that even after Easter comes and goes, Greg and I will still continue to study this passage and I will continue to pray for those changes to stay with me and grow in my heart. <3

writer, short stories, young adult, new writer, fiction

one of my favorite pictures of us!

On a different note, another thing I did in the past month was read one of the craziest stories of my life.

myra breckinridge, short stories, poetry, young adult, hey lou

you will not believe what these pages hold

Ever heard of Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal? I hadn’t, either. That is, until my brother-in-law told me I should read it. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t tell anyone under the age of 18 to read this book. It was excellent, but uncomfortable (aren’t most great books at least a little bit uncomfortable?) I don’t want to spoil the ending in any way, shape or form, so I won’t tell you too much. I will say that this book is a page turner, CRAZY, sexual, surprising, and will make you gasp as you read it.

Just trust me.

:)


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Confidence, Truly

There have been times in my life when I felt anything but confident. I have felt, just like any gal, that I was less than pretty, less then talented, or just plain unwanted. Thankfully, those moments have been few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t exactly walk around thinking I have it all or anything, but I have had some great moments of confidence. It started at a very young age.

Case in point:

writing, confidence, short stories, poetry, new author

confidence, truly

Please notice: I wrote,

Today and yesterday I figured out that I am good at drawing. (age 7!!)

The teacher must have chuckled as she wrote, “You certainly are!” But then secretly worried about me…

I don’t think anything phased me. I sat there and drew this face and I was proud of it. I wish I could find that little girl and be there again without fail. I wonder what happened? What day came and went where all of a sudden I doubted whether or not I was good at drawing?

I’d like to think that every kid starts out this way. They can do anything. It isn’t until someone tells them they can’t or someone laughs at something they do that they begin to doubt. I wish, so badly, that everyone could be as confident as I was at the age of 7.

And then stay that way.

Another great moment I had as a 7 year old was writing a story titled “The Floppy Bunny.” I really did a horrible, half-assed job at the drawings for that book. But I was so, so proud of the story.

It’s the story of a bunny who has no hair. He’s a bald, naked bunny. He goes around to all these animals, asking them if they have any hair to spare… could he have some? Of course, everyone says no. It isn’t until the Floppy Bunny meets a sheep, who has wool to spare, that he can finally have some hair. They make an entire suit made of wool and the Floppy Bunny wears it, finally feeling comfortable and covered up.

Yes. It was a gripping tale.

I’d like to think that my writing abilities have gotten better ;)

Obviously, if you are here on this blog, you can see that I never did give up on the whole writing thing. I have my short stories, my poetry, and three books I’m working on daily, trying to get published. I am trying to hard to keep that 7 year old version of myself close at heart. I want to be her… unafraid and entirely confident in my abilities.

I hope you can find your own version of her, too!!!

<3

Fun fact: I think I did get a little better at drawing. Wildewood even let me do their cover art…. !!!!

wildewood, hey lou, writer, short stories

confidence, later ;)