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Thank you:)

Life

Some people smile, some yell, some grit their teeth. Some hang on tight and others let go.

If you step back and observe.

You’ll realize it’s all a matter of perspective.

Fail to Succeed

  Please visit me at my new blog kdrausin.com/blog/.

My husband has a saying he likes to repeat to me, “You must fail to succeed.” He said he learned this from going to the gym.  The only way he can improve his strength is by choosing a weight so heavy he is only able to do four to six reps instead of the normal eight to twelve. In failing to lift the weight the full amount he succeeds in building his muscles. Eventually the weight he could only lift six times is lifted twelve and more weight is added. The process begins again.

This saying of his has been on my mind lately. Is it true? Is it in failing that I succeed?

Two years ago I met the most amazing group of women. Seven of us traveled to Honesdale Pennsylvania to attend a two-part writing workshop called, “The Heart of the Novel.” Our teacher was the well known editor Patti Gauch. She was the reason we were all there. On our first visit we listened carefully to Patti’s every word, ate incredible food and then retreated to our individual cabins to write. Our goal was to have a completed novel in six months and send it to Patti to edit before our next gathering.

When we all returned to Honesdale it was like a family reunion. We had kept in touch through email discussing what we had learned and supported one another in our writing. We were all anxious to see Patti’s notes on our novels.

This was my first children’s novel and at the time I was still figuring out the differences between an editor and an agent responsibilities. I had two drafts written of MYSTIC and in my mind, I was done. It was ready.

I’ll never forget the rainy afternoon that I received my notes from Patti. I sat on the bed listening to the ping of rain on the tin roof of the cabin reading through her pages and feeling as though I was the worst writer in the world. I wondered why I even tried in the first place. I felt foolish and embarrassed.

I got out my cell phone and climbed to the top of a hill, umbrella in hand, trying to get more than one bar on my cell in order to call my husband. He would comfort my failure and probably even lie to me and tell me I was a great writer. Because that’s what husband’s do.

When it was time for my meeting with Patti, I asked her if she thought I should take a creative writing class. Here I was at a writing workshop with women who had already been published. Women who had graduated from prestigious colleges and I was just a teacher who liked to write. I was feeling very sorry for myself. Patti said no to the writing class and then said something  I’ll never forget. “You’re closer than you think.”

Saying those words to me made me see her notes in a different light. I realized that everything she was telling me about my story was necessary in order to make the story better. My expectations of what I wanted to read in her notes were unrealistic. An editor is a teacher and a guide. A talented soul who helps writers hone their craft.

We focused on the first chapter. She showed me my mistakes and challenged me to try again. Still feeling vulnerable I went back to my cabin and forced myself to sit down with my laptop. I rewrote the first chapter. The next morning the sun shone bright. The dark clouds had disappeared taking with them much of my insecurity. I was not going to give up. Patti read my chapter and smiled. I learned and improved. The process of storytelling was finally sinking in.

If Patti had told me that my story was brilliant, which is what I wanted to hear, I never would have grown as a writer or as a person. I had to fail in order to gain the strength to persevere.

Isn’t that what life is all about? Perseverance – through the perceived good and perceived bad. If I don’t falter in following my path, I know all my failures are just stepping stones to success.

This morning  I typed J into Google. I wanted to research the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. But when I typed J – pictures of J. K. Rowling appeared. I had to look because last night I watched the Lifetime movie of her life. And a few days ago I wrote about Daniel Radcliffe.  That’s when I found the following in Wikipedia.

Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as “the biggest failure I knew.”[42] Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as liberating:

Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea.
And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. – J.
K. Rowling, Harvard commencement address, 2008.[42]

Bonus, it tied right in with today’s title.

Thanks for reading and here’s to failure!

Works in Progress

Yesterday was a day of firsts. My son wrote his first song and my daughter had her first driving lesson. Some days, like the day they were born, are etched in my memory forever. Yesterday was one of those days.

Standing alone in a hospital
Body is in control
Calming my young mind
We will be fine.

Holding her in my arms
Eyes staring into mine
Love, intense, blankets my fear
Mom, that is me

Sixteen years of practice vanish like a dream.
“Just get in the car mom, I can do this.”
My eyes open to the brave person she’s become.
Mom, that is me.

Surrounded by friends and family
He screams his way into our world.
This boy has passion.

Siblings, what I desperately wanted.
Two to share time together
Love, intense, blankets my fear
Mom, that is me.

Twelve years of practice vanish like a dream.
“Do you want to hear the song I’ve written?”
My eyes open to the talented person he’s become.
Mom, that is me.

Wanting to cling forever
Time is in control
Appreciating every moment
Mom, that is me.

K.D. Rausin

Still Typing

In between dancing with the middle school students and driving my kids to all their activities, I’ve been hard at work revising Mystic. I had hoped to be done by February 20th but discovered I was too ambitious with my work load. Books take time and I have proof. Here is a link to Kristin Cashore’s blog. kristincashore.blogspot.com/2010/03/monday-ruminating.html I had to laugh when I saw the picture of the cows. Eric and Elle were teasing me the other day saying that on one of our family vacations, I took more pictures of cows than of our family. It must be the artist is me.

Thank you for joining this fan page. I’m blessed to have the support of so many people. You Rock!

K.D.Rausin

Creating Believable Characters

Many years ago when I performed in plays and musicals I used to create monologues for my characters in order to help me understand them better. I suppose it was during my acting days at AMDA that a drama teacher taught me to give each character a secret that only I knew. For instance if I was playing a young girl meeting a boy for coffee my secret might be that I was desperately in love with him. Or my secret could be that I knew the boy was my step brother. The scene would play out differently using each of those scenarios as my secret.

Jump ahead several years and now I am doing the same thing with the characters in my novel. The chapter I am editing now is particularly challenging because I am telling a story within a story and I need to make sure the two are linked together. There must be a clear relationship between the two stories. This morning I took my character Sri, and gave her a journal. I needed to hear her voice tell the background leading up to her story within Mystic. Does that make sense? In other words, I always knew what happened in her past leading up to her appearance in Mystic but I needed to write it from her perspective. It is amazing what little gems appear when characters are allowed to speak for themselves.

What does Sri have to do with Amelia and Greg? Well, you’ll have to wait until the book is published to find out. I can give one little hint…Sri may be related to one of them.

Sri’s Journal

Entry: I have learned to calm the mind of a wild beast, to turn a stick into silver and to fly amongst the Seer Dragons but I cannot stop the bursting excitement that flows through my body every time I see him. It’s as if a breeze brushes over my heart and I must breathe deep when he is near in order to keep my composure. He is only a man not a wizard yet he appears to have placed a spell on me. This is unacceptable and I must stick to my path. My future has been carefully planned. I have great gifts. I am Queen Fredonia’s only daughter. A daughter in need of a spell to wipe away thoughts of handsome strangers.

Entry: I have decided to speak to him. My jumbled emotions are getting the best of me and I cannot focus on my studies. Surely when I speak to him I will learn of his daftness and get over my sickness. Enough is enough. Ralient has been odd lately. Our friendship seems strained. He looks at me with distant eyes. Though I have given him no reason to believe I have feelings for the stranger, I worry he knows my heart too well. His desire for me is no secret. I feel only friendship for Ralient and I don’t want to hurt him, yet fear I will.

Entry: There is a light shining from within me that I cannot dim. No spell can replace the happiness that colors my world that once was clear. James, his name is James and he is kind, intelligent and brave. We have spent the past month together and I have learned much about his world. It is not a place I wish to visit. When James is with me I feel content, safe, at peace and my mind is far from my studies and full of only him. We spend our days escaping to the forest and the White Mountains. I have shown him Mystic’s beauty in hopes that he will want to stay. Today he took my hand during our walk. I had to remind myself to breathe. Then I felt a tinge of annoyance that Queen Fredonia’s daughter could let herself become so vulnerable in the presence of a man. I thought of my great power for only a brief second before James interrupted me. He stopped, took me in his arms and kissed me. I felt the stubble from his beard on my chin and that familiar breeze across my heart. My tears dripped onto his collar.

Suddenly, I felt piercing heat on my back like arrows shot from a distance. A pair of eyes were watching us, cursing us.  I stiffened and turned to face them. I felt his pain and knew that I had hurt Ralient deeply. A line had been crossed and my once perfectly planned life was now unpredictable. I knew I could no longer allow myself to act like a helpless child. James was in danger. Ralient’s power was only surpassed by his jealousy. Now, my only concern is whether or not my powers are strong enough to protect the man I love from the man who was my best friend.

K.D. Rausin

Mystic

Please visit my Mystic fan page on Facebook

Read and Comment and I’ll Donate:)

Nathan Bransford is a literary agent with a great blog. I’ve been following it for almost a year and I’ve learned a lot about the publishing market. This morning I discovered that he was raising money for Heifer International. I was out buying Nahla and Ollie a dog bed last night and missed the deadline for commenting on his blog and helping the cause.

So, here’s what I’m going to do. For everyone that leaves a comment on my Mystic fan page, journal or Facebook posting I’m going to donate .25 cents to the Reeve Foundation. I have to put a cap of $100.00 because 1. I’m not okaying this with hubby (current breadwinner of the family) 2. I haven’t (yet) made any money from writing! 3. Daughter is itching to drive which means insurance payments for a teenager!

Here’s Nathan’s link (bottom of the page) so you can see all the good he’s doing in the world. He has included other blogs that are also raising money for Heifer International. All you have to do is comment and they will donate. Just like me.

For all the Mystic fans, I will post chapter 2 the beginning of January. I told myself that I wasn’t going to look at my LJ stats to see how many people were reading my blog.I didn’t want the pressure either way. (Too many readers or too little) Then this morning I decided to change the look of my page and add a picture of me instead of plants or animals. I’m still getting used to my picture. It’s daunting having me stare at me while I’m typing. AHHH! Anyway, I peeked at my stats and was elated at how many people read chapter 1 of Mystic. Thank you! It’s exciting and I’ll certainly take the pressure of having many readers.

Happy Holidays to everyone. I know some of you are still out shopping so I’ll keep the comment section for donations open through Dec.31st. All you have to do is leave a comment and it’s the equivalent of a .25 cent donation.

K.D. Rausin

Nathan’s blog: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/12/making-spirits-bright-with-heifer.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NathanBransford+%28Nathan+Bransford+-+Literary+Agent%29

Writing and Running

“But look how clean the house is!” That was my reply to my daughter when she questioned my progress on editing my novel. She was complaining about her precalculus homework and I happened to mention all the chapters I had yet to edit with a looming three week deadline. Big mistake. “You had ALL day, why didn’t you get much done?”

I have struggled with that question for months. It occurred to me that there are parallels between two of my favorite passions, writing and running.
I tried to explain it to her.

There are some days when I really don’t want to go to the gym but I go anyway. I walk around and feel unmotivated, but I am there so I do my best. Sometimes, the adrenaline starts pumping; my attitude changes and I work out twice as hard as I normally would. Other times it’s as if I’m in slow motion and everything I do is painful. I long to go home. Even on those days where I felt I accomplished little, I still accomplished something. I kept at it and I tried. Then there are the magical days when a little voice inside will say-I feel like running today. I’ll get on the treadmill, (too hot outside) and there is no pain. Everything within me wants to run and time disappears with the miles. When I am finished I ask myself why every day isn’t like that.

Writing for me is very much the same. There are the magical moments when I hear the words clearly in my head and they flow. I must grab a pen quickly and write them down. I distinctly remember this happening in my preteen years. I can picture myself kneeling on the floor with the pad of paper on my bed, scribbling a poem about a little boy I babysat. It wasn’t an assignment for school, the words came and I had to write them down. Afterwards, it surprised me because I didn’t know how I did it. I couldn’t explain why I heard the next verse so clearly. I had probably been playing two hand touch football with the neighborhood boys minutes before writing. Days like that continue to fuel my belief in a Universe that always whispers to us through all our distractions.

Most of the days I spend writing begin with me sitting in my chair and telling myself to get to work. It is the same as me putting on my gym clothes and driving myself to the gym. I could think of a dozen other things to do instead, but there is a pull towards running and writing because I know they are a part of me and if I don’t fulfill that part of me I will not feel whole. When I am done writing for the day just like when I am done working out, I feel great. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do the things I love.

There is the occasional day where I sit at the computer and struggle. Sometimes it is because I know what I must write and it creates stress from within. Billy’s Story took me all day to write and I started and stopped six different times. I wanted to give up and walk away but I forced myself to finish. I tend to get angry with myself. There is guilt over having the time to write and not using that time wisely. There is an inner struggle that sometimes ends with me vacuuming, mopping, and cleaning out closets. I try to be thankful for the little I have accomplished and tell myself that tomorrow’s a new day. I kept at it and I tried.On those days you’ll find me on Facebook.If you see me,feel free to tell me to get my butt off Facebook and get to work!

Once while working out with my husband and daughter, they brought it to my attention that I don’t push myself hard enough on the weight machines. Eric bumped up the weights and I laughed. “Yeah right-I can’t do that.” They told me if I wasn’t in pain the next day, I wasn’t building my muscles. My reply- “Who wants to be in pain?” They laughed and I’m sure I saw my daughter roll her eyes. It occurred to me that they were right. I was stuck doing the same machines at the same weight and my body was not improving as well as it could if I pushed myself harder and learned how to use different equipment. I decided to enlist the help of a personal trainer.

After I finished my novel, I naively thought I was done. I went to a writing workshop and our genius editor/teacher, Patti Gauch, read it and started laughing. Not really. She compassionately showed me what it lacked. Just as I had been stuck in the same routine at the gym, not improving as I should, my novel had been written without guidance, not improving as it should. Talk about pain-realizing that three hundred and fifty pages had to be rewritten. That is the mountain I have been climbing since May. Some days I journey far and others I count every step and convince myself to keep going. I have little signs taped to the top of my computer screen. Energy! Passion! Texture-Remember Your Marbles! They are all reminders of Patti’s lessons.

It’s about the climb, isn’t that what the song says? Climb this mountain. Make this novel the best it can be and then move on to the next mountain. With each climb, I’ll be in better shape and have knowledge and experience as my guide. (Okay-hopefully an editor too!)

My daughter understood my comparisons of my two worlds. Still she couldn’t help but add a phrase that she has heard all too often- “You better get to work!”

Cheers!
K.D.Rausin

Distractions

I showed you a bright yellow sunflower standing majestic in the morning light.
You walked right by.

I played your favorite song on the radio.
You left the room.

I sent a cool breeze across your sweaty face.
You were wishing for rain.

I showed you the man begging for money.
You pretended not to notice and drove away.

I led you to a friend to share your thoughts.
You were too busy to talk.

I brought you to a mountain that touched the clouds.
You were worrying about tomorrow.

I called to the children, asking them to wake you.
You told them to grow up.

I will always be here even when you are not.
You can find me everywhere–Now

K.D.Rausin

This morning I grabbed Sue Monk Kidd’s book, Firstlight. I took it outside with my coffee to watch the sunrise. I read of her quest to discover the amazement of life. Marriage n.-Close union- She said we must renew our marriage vows with life. I was thankful for the reminder.

I packed my son’s lunch and we hopped in the car. Suddenly, I heard the words above speaking clearly in my mind. I saw the cloud’s reflection in the calm waters of the Caloosahatchee.

On the way home I put in my Grease CD and sang at the top of my lungs. I loved that album when I was a child. I came home, remembered the words that spoke to me and wrote them down.

Heart of the Novel- Highlights Workshop

Wednesday morning I woke at three am. By four thirty, I had whispered good bye to my family, bounced my suitcase down our stairs, and walked out into the dark morning, ready for my adventure.

I had waited and prepared for my trip for over seven months. I knew a weekend with Patti Gauch as my teacher, was going to be an experience of a lifetime. My novel already written, my required reading list almost complete, I arrived in the Scranton airport and searched for the man with the Highlights magazine.

We drove from Scranton to Honesdale. Memories of my days growing up in Elizabethtown came pouring over me like a warm spring shower waking me from my sleep. Green grass, roads that dip and climb, old brick buildings and churches with steeples, all images from my childhood. Even though my Florida bones shivered in the sixty degree weather, my heart said I was home.

We pulled up to cabin number 17 and there was my name. Rain drizzled down. This was as close as I was ever going to get to camping. A rocking chair sat on the porch. Inside were all the comforts of home. I unpacked and sat, sipping my hot tea and listening to the rain. Lucky for me, I arrived a day early. After finishing Andrew Clements, No Talking, I decided to challenge myself and describe my first day, four words at a time instead of three.

Waiting at baggage claim
Zipping up jean jacket
Smiling at friendly man
Riding along twisty roads
Familiar trees, gray rocks
Warm joy filled memories
Cozy cabin for me
Suitcase huge as usual
Bathroom close, my heaven
Heater on, cold bones
Moths fluttering in windows
Catch them, set free
Eating pasta and bread
Listening to birds sing
Carefully talking to strangers
Relaxed, eating Snicker Doodles
Thinking of my family
Nervous to meet people
Cabin warm as Florida
Pj’s, bed, book, sleep

My original plan was to describe every day this way. It didn’t happen. As soon as the workshop began and Patti started her lessons and critiques, there was no time to do anything except eat, listen, work on my chapters and sleep.

The title of the workshop was, Heart of the Novel. It was appropriately named because Patti showed us how to make a novel come alive. I sat absorbing her every word, hoping my memory and notes of her lessons would carry me through several months of rewriting. And boy do I have to rewrite!

Everyone who has attended a Highlights workshop in Honesdale will talk about the incredible meals. Incredible is simply not a word that gives Marcia’s cooking justice. I have never in my life tasted food like Marcia’s creations. I’ll never look at my tofu crescent squares or my cheese and tomato sandwiches the same again. I’m spoiled.

I returned home at seven pm. on Sunday. To my surprise, the duck egg I had been caring for had begun to hatch. She pecked and peeped for hours and hours until finally at two am. she pushed her way out. I couldn’t help but notice the symbolism. Hatching of a novel…hatching of an egg… Life expresses itself in many ways.

Yesterday, my eyes filled with tears as I read the emails from my new friends. We shared something special. Seven women in a living room, learning from a master. We opened ourselves up to an experience that will forever bond us together.

I look towards October with great anticipation. For that is when we will all come together again and show what we have created. – Life is too short to set aside your dreams. That I know for sure.


PROCRASTINATION

The laundry is done.
I’ve cleaned every dish.
The floor is mopped.
I’ve fed the fish.

The groceries are bought.
I’ve been to the mall.
The bills are all mailed.
I’ve friends to call!

The beds are made.
I’ve organized drawers.
The tables dust free.
I’ve recipes to explore!

The windows sparkle.
I’ve energy to spare.
The grass is mowed.
I’ve ironed underwear!

The feeling won’t leave.
I’ve thought this through.
The reason for housework…
MY TAXES ARE DUE!
K.D.Rausin
 

On the Lighter Side

I went to get my hair cut on Monday. Who knew it had been over a year since my last cut. I don’t keep track of these things. I’m truly not a girly girl. Anyway, I love chatting with R. the woman who takes such great care not to shock me with any drastic changes. Although, I was sooo close to becoming a blonde. Julia Roberts looked very cute on the cover of Allure. I almost said, “Go for it, what the heck!”

Anyway, R. had mentioned being sick of deep chick flick movies that make you feel. Later, I told her about this journal and then I realized that possibly too many of my articles were deep. I needed to lighten it up a bit like my hair. (almost) I was going to write all about the Gasparilla race in Tampa but then last week there were complications with Elle being able to race in high school track meets (again) and that has now added to my need to lighten things up.

So, today’s Writer’s Block asked ….What was your worst job? My answer is absolutely positively being a waitress. I failed twice.

My very first job was at Tropical Treat in good ol E-town. I was sixteen or seventeen. Tropical Treat was a truck stop. Now, why I ever thought I would be good at waitressing, I have no idea. First of all, I didn’t talk to anyone I didn’t know. I preferred writing. If there had been texting back when I was in high school, I would have had a lot more friends. Second of all, I hated to cook. Still do- my idea of lunch is an ice-cream cone or pre made salad. It’s too much work getting all that food ready, eating, and then cleaning up. I’d rather create a story, plant a garden, or clean my entire house.

I have two memories of my job at Tropical Treat. I remember wiping counters. Notice how I blocked out all cooking or taking orders. And I remember the day I was fired. I was scheduled to work, but something came up. I don’t remember what it was. But I do remember calling the owner of Tropical Treat and asking for the day off. She was from Russia and spoke broken English. Her reply was, “You no come to work today and you no work here no more!” I said, “Okay” And that was my first job. When my friend Amy heard the story she was in hysterics. For the rest of the school year and maybe the next , Amy took great pleasure in practicing her best Russian accent and reminding me, “Hey Krista, you no come to work today…you no work here no more.”

Did this stop me from waitressing again? Nah, jump ahead three years and I’m living in LA trying to pursue acting but surviving as a leasing agent. When our buliding changed owners, my apartment manager and friend invited me to live with him and his partner at his new building. I graciously accepted. We moved to Sherman Oaks and I applied at Denny’s. That was the biggest mistake of my life! It was horrible. From the ugly, itchy green uniform to the thirty five cent tips. Once a co worker didn’t feel like serving so she sat all the customers in my section. People were giving me their special orders and telling me to hold the onions. I had no idea how to convey such things to the cooks. I tried to write it all down…but I was a writer at heart and would want to flower it up. ..He would prefer his eggs sunset yellow with the consistency of a cheese fondue so his toast can properly absorb the correct amount of yolk.    (not really)

Don’t even get me started on milkshakes! If you go into a Denny’s and order a milkshake be very kind to your waiter or waitress. It’s a big pain in the you know what to make one. One customer screamed at me because we ran out of those giant silver metal containers that hold about a gallon of shake and I put the milkshake into a glass. Come on, this was California where everyone was a size two. Actually back then it was six but who’s noticing. Who would have thought screaming would ensue over a little less shake? I made a bee line for the bathroom.  I’m not much of a cryer but that woman scared me!

Thank goodness I was offered my own building to manage… Overland Apartments, right near the West Side Pavilion. I miss that glorious mall. The West Side Pavilion was actually the location of my very first job in LA….The Gap. That was before I had my Yugo and rode the bus from Korea Town. One day  at The Gap, while I was standing-and folding (they frown on sitting) I saw a singer recording a music video on the escalator. I turned to my co workerand said, (another huge mistake) “Who’s that?” I got a look. “Tom Petty” What can I say? I had just attended AMDA in New York. I was all about musical theatre at the time. Boy do I love the song Free Fallin!

My days at Denny’s were over and my new job entailed wearing my own clothes and taking the elevator to work. To this day every time I go out to eat with my husband I ask, “Did you leave a good tip?” I have nothing but respect for waiters and waitresses especially if they have to wear ugly itchy uniforms!

Love Is

This is a poem I wrote in 2006 after Eileen Spinelli asked me if I wrote poetry. I said no and then like a true half blooded Italian went to my room and wrote a poem. Why not? Suddenly, I remembered that I did write poetry. There was the poem about the little boy I babysat when I was twelve.There was the poem that I wrote after breaking up with my boyfriend when I was…..too young to have a boyfriend! My poems were scattered throughout my journals.

That evening after chatting with Eileen, I went back to my hotel room and sat in silence. I wrote about my grandfather. He had passed away ten years earlier but my pain from missing him was still fresh. It’s safe to say that I was missing my grandmother too. Even though she was in a nursing home, Alzheimer’s had taken her from me. My grandparents played a significant role in my life. We moved to Cape Coral so I could be with them in their final years. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

The poem changed several times over the years. The voice has always been too adult. With Valentine’s Day coming I thought I would change it once again and try to capture a child’s voice. Writing, like children, are works in progress.

Happy Valentine’s Day, may you show someone love.

Love Is

 

 

Do you remember when we watchedour feet disappear in the wet sand?

I sang out to the sea gulls that swooped down beside us.

I think love is a day at the beach with my smiling Grandma.

 

Do you remember when we baked Nicky a giant dog biscuit on her eighth birthday?

I was decorated from head to toe in smelly white flour.

I think love is acting silly with someone.

 

 

Do you remember when I climbed to the highest branch in your Banyan tree?

I imagined I had wings and could fly.

I think love is feeling free as a bird.

 

 

Do you remember when I cried because it felt like my ear was going to explode?

I snuggled tight in your lap.

I think love is feeling cozy.

 

 

Do you remember when I begged you to read my favorite story a bazillion times?

Your nose wrinkled all up when you laughed.

I think love is laughing until your belly hurts.

 

 

Do you remember when we made popcorn every Friday night?

You always let me pick the movie.

I think love is thinking about someone else.

 

 

Do you remember when my knees shook and I couldn’t jump in the water?

You smiled and opened your arms wide.

I think love is having a Grandma who will catch you when you jump.

 

 

Do you remember when we took pretty wrapped presents to the hospital?

I secretly wanted to open them myself.

I think love is giving when you want to keep.

 

Do you remember when I played the piano on stage?

I asked why you were crying.

I think love is being brave when your stomach is doing summersaults.

 

Do you remember when you said “I love you?”

I was hugging you with all my might wishing, good byes didn’t make me feel so bad.

I think love lives in happy memories.
K.D.Rausin

 

What Do You Feel?

Summer of 2007 I visited my brother and his band in California. They were playing on The Tonight Show and I wanted to be there to share in the excitement with him.Two years earlier I realized my little brother was a mystery to me and I set out to discover the man that little BJ had become.

Little (BJ), I remember the day he was born. I walked out to the bus stop and was greeted by our father returning from the hospital. “You have a little brother…Bryan Joseph.” I was elated! It didn’t take long before I became his second mother. I can still picture him crawling up our apartment stairs and the Luv’s commercial appearing on TV. Bryan stopped and immedietly began backing down the carpeted stairs. He had to be near the music. It was calling to him.

I spent several days in California with Bryan and during that time I had an insiders view of life on the road with a band. It was very different from my life as a wife, mom, busy teacher and weekend writer. I kept hearing the phrase “What do you feel?” Every moment seemed to be lived by “What do you feel?” I think we stood outside our hotel for forty five minutes waiting for someone to make a decision about which bar we were going to for drinks. The teacher in me was dumbfounded. The mom in me wanted to take over and tell everyone what to do. Instead I watched and listened. When I noticed the police car approaching ready to give the band manager a ticket for illegal parking, I spoke up and said he might want to drive away. This crazy phrase, “What do you feel?” I scoffed and said to myself that if they lived in the real world with real responsibilities they would never be able to live every moment by what they feel. Perhaps there was a part of me that was jealous. Jealous of their freedom.

I hugged my brother after his performance on The Tonight Show and told him how proud I was of him. I will never forget that moment. I came home and jumped back into my busy life. Every once in awhile I would hear this nagging phrase whisper to me as I drifted off to sleep exhausted,”What do you feel?”

Nine months later while walking my class to lunch, I suddenly stopped, just like Bryan on the stairs. I told my fourth graders to go ahead without me. They knew the way. I walked into our principal’s office and told her I wouldn’t be back next year. I acted in the moment and listened to my inner voice that had been calling to me. “What do you feel?” “I feel it’s time for a change.”

Another nine months has gone by and my hectic days of teaching responsibility are fading from my memory. A part of me still feels like teaching so every Wednesday I help a small group of children at my son’s school. I go in, get my hugs, teach a short lesson, listen to them read, listen to their tales and come home refreshed.

To my surprise it turns out I don’t hate cooking as much as I thought I did. I think about what I feel like making every night and it is no longer a chore. In fact everything I do, I feel like doing. With that comes freedom and joy. It turns out my little brother taught me an important lesson. Listen to yourself. That voice that allowed you to see the wonder in the world when you were little. It’s still there.

Today, this is what I wrote. It’s what was created as I sat in my grandmother’s chair wondering what was I feeling. Alone in my room staring at the sparkles of sunlight bouncing off the canal and feeling the breeze and light on my face. I thought I had nothing to say. It turns out I did.

If I Had Something To Say

If I had something to say, I would say escape to silence and close your eyes.
Remember someone that made you feel safe.
Think of your favorite food and how it tastes.
Picture a fragile infant snuggled in your arms.
Feel the heat of the sun filling you with light.
Touch the soft fur of a dog and gaze into his telling eyes.
Watch a bird glide through the sky, its wings like a seesaw tilting side to side.
See the old man and old woman standing alone.
Do they love or do they hate when it’s time to say goodbye?

Symbols

Symbols

 

My husband has heard the name, Sue Monk Kidd flow from my mouth over and over again. It was two years ago that an editor suggested I read The Secret Life of Bees, and immediately I fell in awe of Mrs. Kidd’s ability to reach my soul with her writing.

 

Christmas Day I opened up, When the Heart Waits. I had forgotten she had written this book. For the past two months I listened to her stories in Firstlight and I asked Eric to buy me a copy of the book for Christmas. Checking out the audio version from the library for the fourth time seemed a little too selfish.

 

When the presents were opened and the banana stuffed French toast joyfully eaten, I climbed back into bed and opened up my cherished book. As I read, something from within glowed. That’s how I knew I was on the right path.

 

This glowing feeling is like a light on the inside that illuminates your heart and calms your mind. When you are still and aware it tells you that everything is going to be okay.

 

The challenge for me is to live my daily life consistently aware of this light. In other words, leave behind my old way of living and live with a renewed sense of wonder and joy. Mrs. Kidd points out that the word cling comes from the Anglo-Saxon word clingan, which means “shrink.” When we cling to routines to feel safe, or a job we loathe, or even to a child who needs to discover life on their own, we shrink.

 

Learning to live in the moment is difficult but from everything I’ve read, with practice it becomes easier. Mrs. Kidd uses symbols from daily life to help her understand her inward journey and to remind her to be present. Because she is aware, she is able to see the symbols presented to her and learn from them. I too have kept my mind open to symbols.

 

Our family loves to travel. We have been overseas and to many different states. Planning vacations has been a highlight of every year. In 2008 we decided to make it a year of traveling only within Florida, our home state. Both kids have not been thrilled with this decision and I have to say that I have felt some guilt over deciding to stay close to home. This guilt has led me to search out inexpensive ways our family can be together, have a unique experience and enjoy the day.

 

Last week we decided to go the beach. It was seventy two degrees and we couldn’t decide whether to wear jeans or a bathing suit. We didn’t know if we would simply walk around or if we would sit on the sand for awhile. That shows how often we have ventured to the beach in our fourteen years in Florida. We were clueless. Both kids wanted to know exactly what we were going to do. I felt the guilt creeping up in the form of frustration. Who was I fooling thinking a trip to the beach could compare to Switzerland?

 

 A giant bridge guides all the traffic to Ft. Myers beach. We inched up the bridge with all the other cars. It reminded me of riding a rollercoaster, slowly making your way up hill knowing excitement was on the other side. We reached the top and I had a panoramic view of the sunlight bouncing off the surface of the Gulf, my mind calmed. This was better then any rollercoaster ride. I grabbed the camera to capture the moment, but quickly realized I had forgotten to replace the memory card. A voice from within told me  to enjoy each moment fully without worrying about saving it so that sometime in the future I could view it from a computer screen. The moment would be captured in my soul. Live and BE!

 

We found a spot on the beach. People were everywhere, in the water, playing catch, building sand castles and quietly reading. Little children chased sea gulls. A man tried to fly a kite from the pier. A parasail slowly carried passengers across the cloudless light blue sky.  I opened up, When the Heart Waits and read.

 

I heard someone nearby mention dolphins. I looked up to see people lined along the wet sand watching several fins glide through the water. Most everyone had stopped what they were doing to see the show. The sun was just beginning to set. One of the dolphins did a flip. I was amazed at how close they came to the beach. It was obvious they were just as curious about all of us as we were of them. This was a perfect moment. No amount of planning could have ever deemed such a result. This was of the Universe.

 

We decided to get an ice cream before leaving. Elle climbed the ramp to the pier with Eric and Kai while I stood and watched the sun set serenely below the water. People gathered again, the sight was enchanting. An old woman came and stood beside me. “Isn’t it funny how nature entertains us?” I nodded my head and smiled. “Yes, it’s absolutely beautiful.” She spoke and walked away.

 

Nature entertains and teaches us countless lessons. The sparkling water, dolphins, setting sun and the old woman were all symbols telling me that one doesn’t have to travel far or spend money for entertainment and enjoyment.

 

I often discuss with Eric ideas that intrigue me in my reading. He listens and as is his nature constantly questions. Yesterday’s topic was, letting go. I told him that while I believe letting go is crucial to happiness it is a very hard thing to do. My entire life I have strived to meet goals and succeed and now I am trying to let go and trust. He said he didn’t agree with me. He finds comfort in striving. So I asked him to give me an example. That morning he had run nine miles and he said he needed to strive constantly to accomplish those nine miles. This I believed to be different. He had already decided to run and while he was running he was focused. The striving I was talking about was a constant thinking about what you’re going to do in the future. It’s almost a relentless nagging that leaves you feeling incomplete. I’ll be happy or whole when…..type of striving. This striving does not allow me to be in the moment or aware because I am thinking about the future. Eric said he sort of understood and the topic changed.

 

Later that day we were cooking an afternoon meal together. I mentioned that I hadn’t had enough coffee that morning and was getting a headache. I poured the leftover coffee into a mug and set it in the microwave for a minute. I went back to making my tofu crescent squares without giving it a second thought. Eric and I chatted while we cooked. When the crescent squares were ready for the oven I decided to melt some butter to place over them as they baked. I popped open the microwave and there was my coffee! I had completely forgotten about it. It was still warm. I laughed at myself for forgetting so quickly. Then I questioned. Why did I forget when it was so important to me to have the coffee? Everyone who is addicted to caffeine in the morning knows of the ensuing headache that follows an insufficient amount of caffeine. The answer came like an unexpected doorbell. I forgot because I completely trusted that what I needed was on its way. I took action and then let go. There was my symbol. Excitedly, I explained my coffee experience to Eric and related it to our conversation that morning. “Now I understand.” Whew!

 

Symbols seem to come once a question is posed. Sometimes I ask questions from my reading and sometimes I question things I hear or see. I would venture to guess that symbols are there for us always answering our questions. However, we may not always be paying attention. I liken it to a teacher having to come up with many different ways to help their students understand.

 

While I was on the computer a few days ago a survey questioned popped up. The question was.. Am I more concerned with…the economy, Iraq, gas prices or health care? Iraq was my first thought. Then I hesitated and thought about the economy and health care. I really am unhappy with our lack of health coverage for our daughter who is paralyzed. So I questioned myself, why Iraq. The answer came…because people are dying and even though I don’t know anyone over there…I care. I checked Iraq over the other concerns and went on with my day.

 

The next day I opened my Facebook account and a friend had sent me a friend request for someone she thought I may know. I saw a man in uniform who had attended the same high school many years ago. On his status update he had mentioned that he was finally leaving Baghdad for the last time and returning home to his family. It had never occurred to me that we could communicate with soldiers in Iraq through Facebook. I sent him a message wishing him a safe journey. Apparently we were online at the same time. He sent me an instant message and we talked about high school twenty years ago. We knew some of the same people but had never actually met. Our conversation ended with me wishing him personally a safe journey. He was about to leave Baghdad.

 

 Suddenly I remembered the survey. There was my symbol, my confirmation. I had questioned and the answer was given. Or it could be viewed as, I asked to know someone in Iraq, and the very next day I spoke to M. just before he was about to return home.

 

Sue Monk Kidd likens our inward journey to the caterpillar who builds a cocoon. I was surprised to learn that there is no set time that a caterpillar must build their cocoon. Some put off the change for years. They grow into a butterfly only when they are ready.

 

Symbols are everywhere. Our uniqueness allows us to see and understand the Universe in our own way. Symbols help us to let go. Here are the words of Eckhart Tolle, Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that. You share that purpose with every other person on the planet-because it is the purpose of humanity.

K.D.Rausin

Not Purple but Relaxing Rain

I should be cleaning out my spare room packed with all my teacher stuff. I should be vacuuming downstairs or wrapping presents. After all, I was up until midnight writing an article that was due ….before midnight. Instead of cleaning or wrapping, I am writing. Why? It’s raining!!! One of the many wonderful aspects of living in Florida is rainy days in December are a novelty. Here I sit gazing at a light gray sky listening to the wind whoosh and the rain drip into the metal trough of my window sill. Both dogs are a sleep at my side. A single sea gull is flying, flapping his wings diligently against the wind. There’s something about this weather that brings me peace. Maybe it reminds me of Pennsylvania where these mystical days came often. Perhaps it is a welcome change from the sunshine that greets me most mornings. It could just be an excuse to relax and not go outdoors. Once upon a time I drove in ice and snow, now if it’s raining I have no inclination to leave the house. I’m becoming my Grandmother!

I am learning to relax but it has been a process for me. The past five years were a blur and now I am taking my time, listening to the quiet and finding my path once again. Priority one, my family. Never have I felt such intense responsibility to prepare two someones for adulthood. College is a necessity and more and more parents are talking about the difficult admissions process. Along with education comes the responsibility of instilling a sense of self pride and kindness and compassion towards others. I want my children to feel as though they can accomplish any goal they set for themselves. I also want them to recognize others who may need assistance and do what they can to help. Fortunately for me I am surrounded by a close group of friends who show me endless examples of strong positive parenting.

This year my third priority has skipped ahead to claim second place. I have chosen writing over teaching. I say this year but really it’s only been since June. July and August I finished my novel and giggled every time I thought about not returning to my classroom in September. October came with a request from an editor for an exclusive on my novel. I worked day and night on last minute editing. November and December arrived and I’ve written many articles, queried agents, registered for conferences and convinced myself to take a break before starting my next novel. Every day I walk to the mailbox holding my breath, knowing if I see a letter it means my story has been rejected. Often when the phone rings there is a question in my mind….could it be Patti? (the editor) Eric tells me to relax, I tell me to relax…but I do have Dondero blood flowing through my veins and that Italian determination is often in full force. When it gets too overwhelming, I run and then I am reminded that every little thing is gonna be alright.

Children have always meant the world to me so I couldn’t stay away from teaching..priority three. I am fully qualified to help. Why not put all those years of very hard work to good use?Every week I teach a small group of third graders at my son’s school. Yesterday, I walked into the classroom and to my surprise the entire class started clapping and calling out “Mrs. Rausin!” A little girl who was not in my group handed me a new pen, “This is for you.” Then I received a slinky and a beaded necklace. I was overwhelmed with joy and reminded of how much I truly love teaching and being with children. My new role as a helper may not bring monetary value but it sure brings soul value.

Having spent endless hours in the classroom I know how overwhelming it is to be a new teacher. Having children is demanding, having twenty two children all day is exhausting. Add to that the stress of being responsible for your class performing well on a standardized test without much guidance from your peers (because they are busy too) you have a recipe for burn out. (That’s me) While my fire is dwindling, I can help prevent what happened to me in a new teacher. I can be available to guide and help, free to come home to my family without the pressure of papers to grade, essays to score, and parents to call.

The rain is still steady and the wind has brought cooler air. My dogs are still napping and my spare bedroom is still packed with teacher supplies. My stomach is grumbling and that’s the only change since I sat in this chair. Have you ever sat alone in a silent house listening to the rain? It’s magical.

K.D.Rausin

MY Writing Buddy Has Returned!

Saturday afternoon I was at the gym trying yet again to accomplish a nine minute mile on the treadmill when much to my dismay my MP3 player died. I was forced to look at the televisions hanging from the ceiling. There was some show featuring a man out in the wilderness trying to survive. He was making a guitar trap. Me being the true vegetarian that I am hoped the little mouse he was trying to catch would be smart enough not to get caught. Eat a berry and be done with it! Don’t kill poor little Mickey. Anyway, this man in the woods saidsomething about seeing your world in a different way can help you reach your goals. I knew this but it was a good slap in the face. Even though I turned my world up side down by deciding to write full time instead of teach full time, I was falling into a rut. I hate ruts!

Sunday morning I woke up and decided to skip my computer session and sit outside on my pool deck admiring nature. This is what all the German tourists that stay in the house next door do every day. They even wear bathing suits in seventy degree weather. “BRRRRR” My husband joined me and we sat and watched the sea gulls hover, anxiously waiting for the old woman to come out and feed them scraps. (Just like my Grandma used to do) I said to Eric, “I miss the Pelican that used to come and hang out in our canal. He hasn’t been around for at least four or five months. I loved watching him dive and splash into the water. I wish he would come back again.” My desk with my computer is in our spare bedroom. While I worked on my novel, I would gaze out the window and see my buddy flying, floating or splashing into our canal. Seeing him brought me peace.

Our family went about our day. Around noon, I was folding clothes and I looked out my bedroom sliding glass door. I saw something floating in the canal. It was too big to be a duck and too wide to be a heron. I went out on my upstairs deck. It was my buddy!

My Writing Buddy!

I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was as if he was saying…. “You called?”

Later that day, look who else showed up.

 He brought a friend. Now I’m doubly inspired.

This morning I spotted him fishing from the neighbor’s sea wall.

 

See the dot in the water? That’s a turtle watching him fish.

 These are my boys wondering why in world I’m taking pictures outside on a Monday morning and not upstairs typing away. (Edison, Bob, Max and Merlin) They are really watching Nahla and Ollie sniff around the canal. I know what they’re thinking…”Stupid dogs-don’t you know you’ll get all wet if you go in there?”

I was watching Book TV last evening. I’m hooked. First I watched the National Book Awards and I listened to Mark Doty talk about his editor and agent. He said “They love the way the word gives voice to the soul.”    That’s why I write and that’s why I gaze out my window and notice. When I stop noticing, I’m in a rut. I hate ruts!

Here’s to a rut free week and a HAPPY THANKSGIVING to EVERYONE!!! Class of 88- Thank you for finding me on Facebook. It’s been wonderful reconnecting with you.

K.D.Rausin

I chose to write this instead of mopping my floor.

“I always say, when the voice and the vision on the inside become more profound, clear, and loud than the opinions on the outside, you’ve mastered your life!”….Dr. John DeMartini

I have been a mentor and teacher to children for over ten years. Over and over I am reminded how vulnerable children are in the world of adult business.What adults say to children matter more than we realize in our rush to get things done. I wonder if some adults have grown up clinging to misconceptions about themselves that were planted as tiny seeds when they were young. Now, these seeds have grown into massive weeds that slowly strangle them from within. These adults have no vision and allow outside opinions to master their life. Is this what we want for our children? Or do we want our children to grow up with direction, confidence, and peacefulness within?

Teachers know this is true. Children will often blurt out whatever is making them feel the most insecure. Within minutes of  first meeting a child who has failed a grade, they will be sure to tell you how old they are and what grade they failed. This has happened to me numerous times and always makes my heart ache. How awful that at such a young age this child defines himself as a failure. Unless, a caring adult intervenes, he will grow up holding this belief. If he thinks he is a failure on the inside, how will this influence his behaviors on the outside?Please don’t leave it up to teachers to mend this mistake. Teachers are overwhelmed. It is a societies responsibility to heal it’s children.

How do we teach our children to have a positive image on the inside? Every teacher learns the importance of modeling. First, I would say take a good look at yourself. Are you positive, confident, disciplined, knowledge and goal seeking? If the answer is no then get to work. Children are carefully watching. Next, compliments are like flowers, give them away and see faces brighten. I learned this from my friend Elena. Years ago when we first met, we spent a lot of time out an about with our little ones.Elena complimented complete strangers even if they had a scowl on their face. I was constantly amazed at her ability to make people smile. Finally, we must teach children that while all the pictures of perfect bodies and all the material gadgets may appear as though they will make you happy, happiness comes from within. If we teach our children about the multiple intelligences and give them tools like discipline to practice skills that they find difficult, they will taste success. One of the greatest rewards I had teaching was seeing children gain confidence in their ability to succeed.

This holiday season may be unique because of our economy. There is a lot more we can do for ourselves and our children then purchase stuff that will bring us temporary happiness. If we are parents or teachers we can give gifts that will last a lifetime…time, encouragement, praise, stories. If there aren’t any children in your life then there are a lot of foster children or school children who need a grown up to tell them they are smart, kind, worthy human beings. The wonderful thing is, once you start helping a child, you will find you have also helped yourself.

Two Thoughts or More

It’s late and I am usually a morning writer, but all day I waited for some quiet and it never happened. I happily had a house full of kids.

Two things happened this past week that caught my attention and taught me a little lesson so I am going to share them.

Arielle asked me once, “Why does daddy always read those inspirational books?” I thought for a second. She was right. Eric reads books on how to succeed in life and business at least once a month. He’s been doing it for years. I knew instantly how to explain the reason why it’s necessary to keep reading these books. I asked her why we keep going to the gym. Why not go for a few weeks and learn the exercises and be done with it? Our mind needs that same kind of practice, otherwise we fall back into old habits. She understood. She got me thinking about Eric’s books and I picked up his latest. Extreme Success by Rich Fettke.

I read about a man who was training for a karate tournament. In order to get his body in shape he would count calories and fat intake along with a rigorous workout schedule. He would not allow himself to have any beer during this time. Most people hide the food they don’t want to eat or drink. Out of sight, out of mind- But he places several beers in the front of his fridge. He opens the door and congratulates himself for having a strong mind. Every time he refuses the beer and succeeds, he gains strength to get him through the next day. I thought this was brilliant. I am not a dieter but I loved this way of viewing a challenge. See yourself as strong and congratulate yourself several times a day for being strong. You win every day instead of trying to get through a significant amount of time with a possible prize at the end. I like it!

Of course I had to share it with Elle who then said, “Let’s do it!” Now I get to congratulate myself everyday for not eating sweets.Do you know how much Halloween candy I have in my house? Her race is on Tuesday. Wednesday is chocolate day no matter what the scale says!-

I’ll have to write more on Monday. My eyes are closing. I’m not quite the night writer I used to be.
Tomorrow we are off to Miami to see the Dolphins play. My first pro football game ever…..I think.
I’m sure the Dolphins will get lots of homeruns.

Heroes

Do You Remember?

Do you remember when we held hands and watched our feet sink into the wet sand?

I discovered sea gulls love the beach as much as I do.

We were dancing on the shore with the waves tickling our toes.

Do you remember when I climbed to the highest branch of your Banyan tree?

I discovered birds are lucky they have wings!

We were playing hide and seek on a sunny spring morning.

Do you remember when we baked Nicky a giant dog biscuit for her eighth birthday?

I discovered dogs love birthdays as much as people do!

We were covered in flour, singing happy birthday to our best friend.

Do you remember when I cried because it felt like my ear was going to explode?

I discovered I love snuggling close in your arms.

We were rocking in your old brown chair dressed in our footsie pajamas.

Do you remember when I begged you to read my favorite story a bazillion times?

I discovered words could make you feel like you were flying to the moon!

We were sitting underneath the stars with our flashlight, listening to the cricket symphony.

Do you remember when I stood like a statue on the edge of the pool?

I discovered diving wasn’t as easy as I thought.

We were splashing in the glistening water listening to the birds sing.

Do you remember when we took shiny wrapped presents to the hospital?

I discovered giving gifts made my heart glow.

We were smiling in the elevator.

Do you remember when your whole house smelled like hot buttered popcorn?

I discovered popcorn and movies go together like peanut butter and jelly.

We were lying on our tummies with our feet swaying, giggling between mouthfuls.

Do you remember when you watched me play piano on stage?

I discovered my stomach could do somersaults!

We were discussing my future as a famous musician.

Do you remember when you said, “I love you?”

I discovered the words good bye made my heart hurt.

We were hugging each other tight and I whispered, “I will always remember.”

To Virginia and Everett Keen and Jessie and John Dondero- One day I will show my grandchildren the love you have shown me.

By Krista Rausin

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