Getting Back Into the Writing Groove After Vacation

Sprague Lake in RMNP July 4 2019

Do you have a hard time getting back into your writing after you’ve been on vacation?  Do you get totally and happily lost in trekking in the peaceful, scenic, and rugged landscape of the Rocky Mountains for two weeks?

Long's Peak, Estes Park from our cabin July 2019

(Long’s Peak seen from our adorable cabin)

hiking trail from storm pass to bear lake day 4 July 2019

(One of the trails we trekked in Rocky Mountain National Park)

Maybe hung out at an absolutely gorgeous lake?

Troy and I at Sprague Lake RMNP July 2019

(Hubby and I)

Okay, maybe you spent your holiday on the beach or zip-lining through the rainforests of Brazil.

In any case, when my family left for our vacation to Colorado (once again. Our last vacation there was June 2017), I’d left my computer at home but brought along a small notebook in case I wanted to jot anything down regarding the experiences I encountered on my trip. And I did. I also wrote a page and a half of a story I’d written notes on a few months ago. The latter was done on the train ride back to Chicago before we picked up our car that had been sitting in the parking garage and headed home.

But still, my mind, body, and spirit absorbed the beautiful surroundings of Colorado Springs where we caught up with dear friends, but most especially, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. We walked four trails while there, and it was exhilarating.

Troy walking ahead on trail day 2 hiking July 2019

(Hubby walking ahead of me on our second hike, just me and him)

canopy of trees day 2 hiking RMNP July 2019

(Canopy of pines and aspens)

Alberta Falls RMNP July 2019

(Mid to lower section of Alberta Falls in RMNP)

small bridge on walking trail RMNP July 2019

(Small bridge on one of the trails on which our boys joined us)

And had visitors right outside our cabin.

doe 30 feet from our cabin Estes Park July 2019

(A doe about 30 feet from our cabin)

buck by Brown cabin Estes Park July 2019

(Buck right near our cabin, as well)

For a little while those first couple of days back home, I worried I’d not want to finish my WIP, but by the third day home, I was finally able to focus and re-immerse myself in my story and others’ stories via my online critique group.

I think what helped get me interested again in my story was submitting the next chapters and reading the ones already in the queue. My characters and the storyline drew me back in. Whew. Thank God!

So, it’s back to the story-creating world for me, while keeping the memories of my favorite place, Colorado, always in my heart, for we want to return to Colorado in three years, after our youngest has finished high school.

When you return from a well-needed and relaxing vacation, how do you get your mind and fingers back into your writing?

 

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Lake Lucerne and a Greek Slave in D.C.

Washington Monument July 6 2018

Last weekend, Friday July 6 through Monday July 9, my family spent it wandering around our historic nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.  We walked those four days and got quite the workout.  Except for the first day that was sweltering hot, transforming me into a soggy, drippy human puddle, the walk was absolutely beautiful and a good challenge to my under-exercised body.

Lincoln Memorial July 6 2018

We visited the Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and Martin Luther King’s Memorial on the first day.

MLK Monument July 6 2018

On the second day, which was the most pleasant weather wise, we visited a few museums:  The Natural History Museum, American History Museum, and African American History Museum in the National Mall (all part of the Smithsonian).  My sons who had not been excited about coming, did enjoy some exhibits.  Both of them loved the butterfly pavilion and insect area in the Natural History Museum.

My oldest, Nicholas, also liked the African American History Museum.  We both did.  It was a very moving and impacting experience.  It is three stories full of the history of African Americans, starting with their origins in Africa to the slave ships, slave trade, sugar plantations and the like, and the distinguished men and women in the latter years, including Phillis Wheatley, for whom I wrote about in a blog post a couple of weeks ago!  That was especially cool for me to read an excerpt from her poem on display and see her statue.

Each floor progressed further in history.  The second story was my favorite.  It held the 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights artifacts and videos.  It also had a special exhibit going on while we were there.  What timing!  They had on display for a limited time, the casket that young Emmett Till had been buried in until 2005/2006 (can’t remember which year, but it was one of them).  There was a line meandering through the second floor.  We waited about forty-five minutes or so to go into the room where the coffin was to read about it and look at it.

Gospel music was playing when we entered the room, which tested my ability to keep my tears at bay, and a large sized photograph of Emmett’s destroyed face taken by a newspaper (I think it was Jet) was in a gold picture frame set in the coffin representing him.  Thankfully, the casket was elevated, and the coffin’s ledge of the open casket was at my eye level, and I couldn’t see the photo.  Incidentally, I’d already seen the photo when I’d watched the excellent documentary Eyes on the Prize a couple of years ago.  I didn’t need to see it again.

My oldest son, Nicholas, was behind me sniffling.  He said he saw a sliver of the side of Emmett’s battered face and couldn’t bear to see anymore, so he looked away.  We walked out of there feeling the grief of the murder of a young boy.

A video was in an alcove explaining the murder of Emmett.  Nicholas, poor guy, shed many tears and sniffled a lot.  What a huge heart my son has!  I managed to stave off the tears that had collected in my eyes.

The next day we went to the Air and Space Museum and looked at all the airplanes and early aircrafts used to fly.  We also watched a twenty-five minute film in the planetarium on dark matter, which was fascinating.  Don’t ask me to explain dark matter because most of what was presented in the film was quite complicated.  But we collectively agreed that was the most interesting film we’d ever see in a planetarium, and we’d seen quite a few in the past!

Air and Space Museum July 8 2018

We then headed to one of the museums I’d been waiting for, the National Gallery of Art.  This was a HUGE edifice, as were the others, but this one had two unattached buildings that were a West and an East building.  We only got through the first floor and partially the bottom floor.  There was too much to take in in the few hours open and available to us!  But I saw the early art work by the American artists I’d studied last term in my American Art class, and that was really cool.

I took a picture of one of the paintings of my favorite landscape artist, Albert Bierstadt.  It’s called Lake Lucerne, if I remember correctly.  What a beauty!  I wanted to walk into the scene, it’s so peaceful and gorgeous.

Bierstadt painting lake Lucerne July 8 2018

Lastly, I took a picture of artist, Hiram Power’s incredibly beautiful sculpture, The Greek Slave.  I studied this piece in my American Art course.  It was quite the talk of the public and controversial at the time.  Here’s an excerpt on the story behind the sculpture via The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

“The full-length female nude represents a bound prisoner being sold in a Turkish slave market, an allusion to the atrocities that the Turks committed during the Greek War of Independence, and, by implication, to the ongoing debate over slavery in the United States. The Greek Slave toured American cities from Boston to New Orleans between 1847 and 1849, and again into the 1850s, where it drew huge crowds and brought forth, alternatively, outpourings of protest and praise. Miner Kellogg, manager of the statue’s organized tour, assembled a descriptive pamphlet emphasizing the figure’s “high moral and intellectual beauty,” suggesting that—though nude—it was “clothed” in Christian piety. The Greek Slave was also shown in London in 1845 and 1848, and was a centerpiece of the United States display at the Great Exhibition in 1851.”

The Greek Slave statue July 8 2018

I’d seen a black and white photo of it in a linked article in my American Art course and a color one in the printed textbook I have, but that did little justice to what I saw in person.  It was beyond beautiful in person.  A real brilliant and gorgeous work of art!

We then walked up to Chinatown that my son, Nicholas, wanted to see so much.  We bought a few souvenirs there and headed back to the hotel.

Chinatown DC July 8 2018.jpg

We finished off our vacation with a visit to Arlington Cemetery where we saw the graves of some well known figures in American history.

JFK grave July 9 2018

(John F. Kennedy grave)

Robert Kennedy July 9 2018

(Robert Kennedy grave)

Medgar Evers July 9 2018

We’ll be back some time soon to see all the other museums and the rest of the art museum!

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An Encounter With St. Andrew

St. Andrew the first called

 

As my family and I stepped inside the Church of St. Andrew in the town of Patras, Greece, we immediately observed its huge interior with frescos and mosaics in brilliant colors encompassing the walls and ceiling. The large space was cool, and our feet shuffling on the marble floors echoed through it. Straight ahead was the narthex, or foyer of the church, and further in, the nave. There were chairs on either side of the aisle leading up to where the marble-laden icon screen stood, beautifully ornamented with the altar in the center.   Large crystal chandeliers hung down from the lofty ceiling, where in the center, the Pantocrator (Christ – ruler of all), painted in the dome, gazed down and blessed us.

Eventually, my sons and I, along with my mother, came to the white tomb where St. Andrew’s head lay under a silver and glass enclosure. Vases with beautiful flowers were on either side of it. I kneeled on the step before the tomb and bent my head, saying nothing at first. A glorious, mystical fragrance permeated the air around me. At first, I thought it was the flowers next to me on my left and right, but I leaned over and inhaled their scent, and none of them had this wondrous aroma. The smell closely resembled flowers. Gardenias, perhaps, but it wasn’t. It was emanating from the relic below the silver and glass box covering it. Moved to tears, I struggled to swallow the lump that had formed in my throat. Just then, St. Andrew’s life and ministry flashed through my mind like a motion picture.  His pain at his crucifixion swept through me, and I caught my breath. I asked St. Andrew to pray for us , kissed the glass dome, and crossed myself.

Housed in wood and glass next to the marble sarcophagus were the original pieces of the cross on which St. Andrew was martyred. As I had done a moment ago at St. Andrew’s tomb where his head lay, I kissed the glass encasing the remnants of the wooden cross. My faith was affirmed and strengthened that day.

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This is a piece written for my Introduction to Creative Writing Class back in early 2015.  This is a true encounter I had with St. Andrew at the Cathedral named after him in Patras, Greece.  Below is a picture of my husband, sons, and I in 2010 standing in front of St. Andrew’s Cathedral on our trip to Greece in May 2010.

family in Patras, Greece May 2010

(Inside the nave of St. Andrew’s Cathedral)

St. Andrew's Cathedral

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Have you ever had encounters with Saints or the heavenly hosts?