Tuesday, March 01, 2011

babies, goals, sisters, and the velvet elvis

My beautiful niece. New life is so precious! Copyright (c) 2011 Wendee Holtcamp

"When everything is answered, it's fake. The mystery is the truth."
-Sean Penn.

Methinks I need to blog more frequently because when so much time passes, I start to wonder where to even begin. Or shall I say, not too much is going on, yet everything is. Ah, life as paradox.

I just returned from a week-long visit to the small mountain town of Sisters in central Oregon, where I got to know my newborn niece and her mom. My brother was there too, for a brief moment of time. When I first saw my niece, I was scared to hold her, like I was going to drop or break her or something. It's funny how you forget how tiny newborns are, and how fragile. Yet human life is also so strong, so persistent, so tenacious. I did overcome my baby-breaking-fears and held her, of course, and oh how sweet she is! I'd never been to Sisters before, and - the few times the snow stopped and the sky cleared - the view right out the window was of the "three Sisters" which are three 10,000 mountain peaks in the Cascades. Early settlers dubbed the three sisters Faith, Hope, and Charity.

I didn't get out of the house much because I was helping my niece's mom out, but it was sure peaceful and beautiful. The neighborhood sets right next to Deschutes National Forest, and many tall, red-barked ponderosa pines rose tall from the layer of pure white that blanketed the area. We had several snowfalls during the time I was there. It was so lovely and beautiful! When I was a kid, I have many fond memories of camping on the Deschutes River with my dad and brother but that was a different part of Central Oregon.

While there, I made a couple visits into the quaint little town of Sisters, and especially fell in love with Angeline's Bakery, which has a lot of vegan and gluten-free items, and I discovered this utterly divine raw, vegan chocolate truffles made from raw cacao by Jem Raw Chocolates. They're only sold in Oregon, but if you can, check them out. Seriously amazing. And no one paid me to say that. They're just good! Oh wait, I think you can actually buy them online too!

What am I up to? Well, let's see. I'm working on this "Goal Setting Course" by The Wake-up Call Coach Amy Ahlers that I won during the Inner Mean Girl Cleanse I participated in. It's a 12-week course, where I get weekly emails that have exercises to identify wins and losses from the previous year, "process" the through journaling and such, and then create new visions and goals for the new year. I'm about 1/3 of the way through.

Even though I'm not at the goal-setting part yet, I have already set some pretty serious goals while thinking about my New Year's resolutions, and as far as writing/biz goes - one is to double my income, and write twice as many stories in 2011. That means, I will have to become doubly efficient! To that end, I installed a program on my computer that tracks where I spend my time, Rescuetime. It's pretty impressive and the results, illuminating! I have already discovered that I'm a fairly fast writer when I set down and do the writing, but I also tend to - on occasion - spend "too much" time on time-wasters like Facebook, Huffington Post, etc. It's been very insightful.

Overall, I am happy with how things are going so far this year. I've broken into three new markets (The Daily Climate, Climate Central and Miller-McCune magazine) from contacts I've made from the Society of Environmental Journalists conference, which is a good thing because the state of Texas' budget is not doing so hot. My daughter came home telling me how they had laid off many of the first-year teachers, and many extracurricular activities have been cut, and it will affect her JV soccer team. It is going to affect my writing for Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer because that is my bread and butter, and the editors there are awesome to me! I'm working on a query challenge with other members of Freelance Success, which is a fantastic writer's resource.

I have an article coming out this week on "The Big Chill: Why is the Bering Sea so Cold if the Earth is warming?" at Climate Central online, so stay tuned. If all goes as planned, I should have a piece in the next issue of Miller-McCune magazine, and I'm about to head to the coast next weekend with my awesome friend Cheryl, who I met at the Colorado Writing Away Retreat last year and hung out with again at last fall's SEJ conference! I'm working on two stories for Texas Parks & Wildlife mag. One is for the 10th annual water issue, and another is a "3 days in the field" travel piece. Those are always fun!

Last but not least, I am in love! I have discovered ... Rob Bell. He. Is. Amazing! I love Rob Bell. I love Rob Bell. I love Rob Bell! He wrote The Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith - see below - and also Sex God (I'd previously read some of this one, but the Velvet Elvis, which I just discovered, blows me all away in a whole different way), and is a pastor who founded Mars Hill Bible Church. I dunno, the guy's a freaking g.e.n.i.u.s. I just adore his writing, his open mind, his intellect. He says, for example, "Central to the Christian experience is the art of questioning God... naked, honest, raw, vulnerable questions." He also delves into a lot of Jewish cultural history from that time, and despite having studied a lot of this stuff through various Bible studies, he had completely novel insight for me, such as the meaning - in Jewish culture - of being yoked to a Rabbi, and of "binding and loosing" and other things that Jesus said; the meanings of the statements are still relevant but these cultural references lend so much more insight. Good stuff!

Wild Olive Tees
I love this design! They're having a hoodie giveaway but it ends tomorrow...
Dangerously spiky icicles. The three sisters in the distance - this is the view out of the window of the house I stayed at in Sisters, OR.
I bought this onesie for my niece that says "I love my auntie"
The three sisters mountains. The one on the right is actually two. The second peak is hidden behind the one in front.
My latest journal collage.

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