How To Stage Your Home For Creativity

typewriter on shelf

Is your home staged for creativity?

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Have you set the stage in your home for maximum creativity potential?

It’s been a year since we sold our four bedroom home in Oklahoma and downsized to a 850 sq. foot apartment in Kentucky. We were excited for the job opportunity for Keeper Hubby, but not too keen on what it would take to get there. Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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?

Write Anywhere #75

I believe you can find the fuel for creativity anywhere.

I’m kind of passionate about it.

I think it stems from a conversation I had when I was young and impressionable. Not really a conversation but a statement presented to me as gospel. Someone who I looked up to and was supposed to be a nurturing presence told me I wasn’t creative. Flat out. Not creative.

Oh, yes, you are a pretty girl and yes, very smart. But you can’t do ‘arty’ things.

This person told me Continue reading

Write Anywhere #74

We’ve reached the last part of my August travels. It’s been a wonderful journey that I’ve enjoyed reliving by sharing it with you here on the blog. I know most of you have probably caught up with me at this point, but just in case, here is how the adventure went down:

Driving down Interstate 44 towards Tulsa, I reflected upon all my experiences over the past week. No matter how much you want to shield your children from hurt in this world, it’s going to happen in one form or another. As devastating as their experience was, I was proud of how the kids were handling it. I knew they would be okay.

I also discovered  Continue reading

Write Anywhere #73

Two more stops on my August adventure to make it back home. Have you seen where I’ve been so far?

The moments spent with BAM and his parents flew by. Though life would always be different for them, they began to fall into the regular routine of their lives. Time for Nani to get out from underfoot.

Sent off with big hugs and a few tears, I headed out early on a Wednesday, with lots of time for reflection during the eight-hour drive. I decided to take a quick detour to a place that had been calling me to exit the interstate and explore it for decades.

Write Anywhere #73: In A Cave

Meramec Caverns, entrance

leading the way to the caverns

Meramac Caverns has long been on my ‘explore this’ list. I can remember from my youth the billboards and barn roofs painted with the familiar advertisement along Interstate 44, which follows much of the path of the original Route 66 through Missouri.

Meramec_Caverns_Barn_(162826555)

Meremac Caverns Barn advertisement, photo courtesy Brett Moore, Creative Commons

Meramac Caverns is the largest cave system in Missouri, which is known as ‘The Cave State’ with about 6,000 identified caves. After exiting the interstate, I followed a beautiful tree-lined road about ten miles to the entrance.

Meramec Caverns, entrance and stores, Missouri, photo by kristin nador

Meramec Caverns from the outside

The outside of the cave looks rather kitschy, with some storefronts, a restaurant, and a ton of gaudy souvenirs for purchase, but once you walk into the actual cave system itself, the atmosphere changes, literally. Even though it was ninety+ degrees outside, plus high humidity from an abundance of rain the day before, inside the cave the temperature stays at a steady and cool sixty degrees.

At first I thought I’d get the chance to walk through the cave on a self-guided tour, but it ended up being much bigger than I thought. All visitors must take the tour with a uniformed guide. Our group gathered to about 75 people before they herded us into the first wide opening.

Meramec Caverns, The Ballroom, Missouri, photo by kristin nador

The Ballroom

According to historical accounts this area of the cave held an abundance of saltpeter, also known as potassium nitrate, an important ingredient in gunpowder. It was mined for saltpeter from the 1700’s right through to the Civil War.

While the cavern was in Union hands, a small contingent of Confederate soldiers attacked the Army’s mining venture. Legend has it that one of those soldiers was the infamous bank robber Jesse James, who along with his brother Frank, later used the cave to hide from the law. The owner of the cave, Lester Dill, found some artifacts that were traced to a train robbery at Gadshill, Missouri that Jesse James was known to have been involved in, so it could be true.

After its saltpeter days up through the 1940’s the huge entrance was given a floor and used as a dance hall, and today is known as the ‘Ballroom’. They built a stage for bands to play Saturday night dances and Sunday night gospel singalongs. The echoes in the room would make for a freaky awesome sound. Wonder what some modern-day electric guitars might sound like?

After the Ballroom, the tour guide took us back further into the cave system, and the air became damper, and of course, it was pitch black without lights. The guides would flip a switch and lights came on ahead of us, then flip another and the lights turned off behind us. I could see why they didn’t want people just wandering around on their own. The roar of an underground river bouncing off the cave walls combined with the dark gave me a bit of vertigo. The group had to cross a bridge over the river (which was really the size of a large creek) and I have to admit I tried to hold on tight to the rails. Only problem, everything is coated with a film of dampness, so that didn’t make me feel any more secure.

Several areas offered a close-up look at stalagmites and stalagtites, the perfect recipe of water and minerals that happen in limestone caves, dripping and growing centimeter by centimeter over thousands of years. They placed clear plastic walls between visitors and mineral formations to prevent any contact with them, as something as innocuous as skin oils can damage them and stunt their growth. It was very hard to take any good photos in the dark and cramped conditions (seventy-five people trying to look at the same rock in a cave is cramped!) but here are a few that turned out:

Meramec Caverns, stalagmites and stalagtites, Missouri, photo by kristin nador

stalagmites and stalagtites with a pool of water

Botryoid mineral formations, Meramec Caverns, Missouri, photo by kristin nador

Botryoid formations: grape-shaped

large stalagmite, Meramec Caverns, Missouri, photo by kristin nador

large stalagmite

We moved up and down throughout the cave system, and at one point a climb of almost forty very steep stairs had the tour guide asking ‘those with knee and cardiac issues’ to wait at the bottom. I climbed the stairs huffing and puffing with most of the group to view the famous ‘Wine Table’. It’s a very rare formation, with only one other in the world in Italy. My lungs did not appreciate the rarity, but instead complained about how out of shape their owner was.

The final stop on the tour was the spectacular Stage Curtain. You can tell where it gets its name:

Stage Curtain, Meramec Caverns, Missouri, photo by kristin nador

The Stage Curtain

And harking back to a time when Americans were much more easily entertained, we sat down in theatre seats in front of the Stage Curtain for a light show.

Hokey and simplistic now, it was a technological thrill during its time. It’s the original light show owner Lester Dill installed to showcase this natural wonder. The tour guide has to throw switches for all the lights throughout the show, so if you are there in person, you mostly hear the clicking of the switches. Dill was very proud that Kate Smith actually came to sing ‘God Bless America’ there in front of the Stage Curtain in the 1940’s, and the governor of Missouri gifted the cave with the American Flag light. They can only leave it on now for 25 seconds or the bulb burns out.

After the tour guide led us back to the start of our journey, I found a bench near the tour start, and pulled out my phone. It was a little too dark to see my own writing on paper, so with a note-taking app, I wrote down some of my impressions and worked on  sensory phrases that described what I experienced. A scene in my in-progress historical fiction calls for my protagonist to sneak into a series of limestone caves being used to store and age kegs of beer, and the sensory phrases I came up with will hopefully enhance that scene. My lungs appreciated the bench rest as well.

The strangest part of my visit to Meramec Caverns had to be coming out of the cave into the noonday sun. It took a while to adjust to the brightness and the heat seemed so much hotter than it should have after spending almost two hours in the cool of the caverns.

I headed out back onto Interstate 44 with plenty of time to spare to make it back to Tulsa. Or so I thought. The last and most bizarre part of my adventure would start only about thirty miles ahead.

Where did you write this week?

Examining the Root of Fear: Guest Post at Oklahoma Women Bloggers

Happy Monday, Friends!

It’s October, the month for spooky, scary things, and over at Oklahoma Women Bloggers, we are sharing our fears. Today my post is up, and I confess where death first became a looming concern I couldn’t shake. I hope you’ll stop by to check it out:

Medical Center, Hypochondria, and Living Past 20

Oklahoma Women Bloggers is a great online community for women. If you live in Oklahoma, you should consider joining us. If you don’t, they can point you in the right direction for similar groups in your state.

Do you have any phobias? How did/do you deal with it?

Write Anywhere #67

This post continues my August travel adventure and personal inner journey. If you’d like to start from the beginning, click here. I hope you’ll come along and discover like I did, that you can find the fuel for creativity anywhere, in any situation, if you choose to keep your heart open and make room for it.

Musician Daughter’s voice broke as I listened on my cell phone. She stumbled with the words emergency room, blood tests, and ultrasound. No medical explanation, they told her.

Then the loneliest of words: miscarriage.

“Should I come now?” I asked, working to keep my voice steady.

“No, wait. I think we’ll be okay.”

I called her each day for three days, wanting to offer love and support, but also not wanting to intrude on this most intimate of wakes between husband and wife.

For three days I grieved, I cried, I prayed, I prepared. I lamented the 441 miles between us, which might as well have been a million. I imagined how they felt, and cried some more. I grieved for life lost, for hope crushed, for hearts broken.

Then,'”Could you come now? We need some help.”

“Of course. I’ll be there tomorrow.”

Write Anywhere #67: Rest Stop

Mural, Missouri Rest Stop

Mural, Missouri Rest Stop

I packed my Prius and headed out first thing in the morning. The drive from Oklahoma to southern Illinois, six hours for the normal driver, takes me over eight hours because of my back issues and all the stretch stops I have to make. I didn’t mind. It gave me time. I needed time to empty myself of myself. Musician Daughter, Musician-in-Law and Destined To Be A Musician didn’t need someone else to worry about, care for, or be uncomfortable around. I had to button down my own emotions to be able to let them release theirs. I needed to think about the words. What words could I say?

My first rest stop on the trip was just over the Oklahoma-Missouri border, about 90 minutes into the trip. It’s a nice rest stop, with clean bathrooms, cozy couches, fresh coffee, and rows of travel brochures. I walked several laps around the sidewalks and did my physical therapy stretches where I could, to a few quizzical stares. I walked into the visitor center, and a welcome hostess asked me where I was headed, and if I needed help finding a travel brochure.

“Thanks, I know where I’m going.”

The rest stop had a Route 66 theme, and offered weary travelers picnic tables, each covered with a nostalgic diner or gas station-designed gazebo.

Rest Stop, Missouri Interstate 44 photo by kristin nador

I strolled through the empty shelters, watching eighteen wheelers pull in and out of the parking lot, and reflecting on my own nostalgia: Musician Daughter when she was a baby, a toddler, a young girl. When I could soothe any hurt with a band-aid, a hug, or a cookie.

I felt empty and helpless, her pain now beyond a mother’s consolation. I sat down at a picnic table and got out my notebook, and wrote words. Words to the heavens, words to darkness’s depths, words not to be shared, but words to wash the debris of grief from the wound in my heart.

I had the liberty to grieve later, now I needed to help them with their grief that couldn’t be postponed, each time they passed a nursery never to be used. They didn’t need another person asking questions, wanting details, offering polite sympathies.

I watched an old man get out of a car and make his way to a picnic table. A scruffy three-legged dog hobbled behind him. The dog sat at the man’s feet while he lit up a cigarette. The man began to cough, and the dog put a paw on his knee. The man rubbed the dog’s head, and he relaxed and laid down across his feet.

rest stop interstate 44 missouri photo by kristin nador

I realized they didn’t need to hear any more words. They just needed someone to be there, when they need a hug, or a hand to hold. Or when they didn’t. Someone to let them cry. They needed a safe ear to listen to their words, if they chose to memorialize with them, when words are so inadequate, but all we have.

I headed back out to the interstate, wedging my car among tractor-trailers, and moving towards the next rest stop, and the next. As the sun settled behind me in the West, I reached my destination. Arms ready for any and all hugs requested.

Where did you write this week?