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IT’S GOOD TO BE VULNERABLE! (WHY I REFUSE TO TAKE MYSELF SO SERIOUSLY.)

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photo credit: Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement

 

Don’t take yourself too damn seriously!

Accept that you are vulnerable, and make peace with that.

Be fearless!

If I had said these things to my younger self, it would not have had much of an impact. I wasn’t ready. But at some point in time, other people said these things to me, and even though I still wasn’t ready, they planted a seed. And every time someone plants a seed, he or she brings us closer to eventual healing and understanding. It certainly worked that way for me because, despite my stubbornness, I am always listening, and I always want to be a better version of me than I was yesterday.

So, last year, I read the first criticism of my work from a reviewer. Admittedly, it wasn’t scathing; she had many nice things to say, but I was able to handle that in a way that I couldn’t have all those years ago.I was curious more than anything, and I wanted to understand her point of view.

It was because, by then, I had stopped seeing myself the way I saw myself at the age of seventeen and for many years to come—as the writer, the destined one, or, ack, some kind of chosen one. I had come to accept that I am one writer in an endless sea of writers— just another voice in the choir.

Some people don’t like this perspective—at all. Back then, I would not have liked it either.

I’ve heard, in response, “You have to take yourself seriously or no one else will, right?”

Oh yes, for sure, but we can be serious, and we can be too serious. For me, the shift in perspective, from taking myself too seriously to taking myself just seriously enough has worked well.

When we see ourselves as a part of everything and not the center of everything, we begin to want for others what we want for ourselves—success! We’re not in competition for that because we know there is enough to go around. When we’re taking ourselves too seriously, those other people do not exist except as competitors. It’s about us and us only, so whatever happens to us is more important than what happens to everyone else. Less than favorable outcomes are magnified and often unbearable.

It helps to take it down a few notches and strive for a little humility. That includes checking ourselves and questioning the motivation behind decisions we make.

It’s not as hard as it sounds, and, eventually, it becomes a part of who we are.

By striving to keep my ego in check, I’m in a better position to handle criticisms and failures because I don’t have to prove I am beyond reproach. I haven’t placed myself up on a pedestal where I see myself as superior to and separate from others. I don’t believe I am so important that my haters are just sitting around watching and waiting to laugh at me when I fail. If they are, then they’re wasting precious time and won’t be able to achieve very much in their lives.

What this mind shift does is; it gives us permission to be vulnerable—permission from ourselves because no one else is stopping us. Then, instead of worrying about what others will think, we just write from the heart. We focus on learning to master our craft—something we absolutely cannot do when we think we already have it all down.

Of course, we all want praise. We want the glowing five-star reviews. There‘s nothing more gratifying than knowing your work has touched someone profoundly or thoroughly entertained as intended.

Friends kindly remind us that we all face rejection and that no one is above criticism. That’s true; someone has criticized every successful writer we know. But hearing that is not quite as comforting as it’s intended to be, so we secretly hope to be the exception.

We might be—if we tiptoe around—if we ask only our friends for reviews. We’ll get fewer reviews, but they’ll all be five-stars, right? On the other hand, if we want to reach millions of readers, we have to throw ourselves fearlessly into the arena, making ourselves more vulnerable to criticism.

Writer friends have said to me, “But, what about the internet trolls?”

Well, the truth is, people who take themselves too seriously are the perfect target for trolls. They are the ones who will argue with the trolls, thinking they will somehow get that person to sympathize or agree. It won’t happen because trolls lack empathy, or, let’s face it, they wouldn’t be trolls. If they know they’ve upset you, they will continue to provoke you. You can’t get caught up in the futility of that.

At the same time, not everyone who doesn’t like your work is a troll. There is legitimate criticism. We can get it from beta readers, good editors, and yes, honest reviews.

When it comes to betas and editors, we want that person who will say, about a particular scene, “You can do better than that.” We get lazy sometimes even with so much at stake. It’s wonderful to hear someone say, simply, “Oh, it’s great, I love it!” But if you’re still trying to iron out the kinks in your story, that’s not going to help you. I want to know where they got confused, where they got bored, what annoyed them, what characters they liked and didn’t like. That will help me determine whether I’m getting the effect I want. Not everyone will agree, of course, so it helps to get several people looking at your work—people who are not afraid to be objective and possibly upset you. Personally, I will not beta read for most people because I know I will give the honesty that I’d want myself, and I realize not everyone can handle that. I have gotten upset myself once, but I got over it fast. We don’t always have to agree with someone’s criticism, but we need to be open to it.

My beta readers have me laughing hysterically with some of their comments, especially with things that need fixing or clarifying. A simple, “Really?” or “Seriously?” can have me in a fit of giggles. The times we are laughing together on the phone or in person are the most fun. Even if they say, “This guy sounds like a douche,” I’m only going to be concerned if he’s not supposed to be sounding like a douche, and then we talk that stuff out. A bit of lightheartedness and a good sense of humor is key.

In an early draft that I wrote many years ago, I had decided to start at the beginning of my character’s life. By page 455, she was still twelve! I can’t help laughing now about how ridiculous that was. I had so much to learn about brutal editing (cut, cut, cut), where to begin a story, proper outlining, etc., and I’m still learning!

In my latest book, Shattering Truths, I was anal about how I wanted to tell this story. It is deep and personal, not my story, but a story about things I had witnessed over the years and one that had become very precious to my heart. It’s hard to be flexible when you are that emotionally involved, and, honestly, we become emotionally involved in all of our books, so we are incredibly biased. I needed feedback, and then, simply, to let go of what wasn’t working.

The truth is, we never stop learning, and there is always room to improve! I’m sure even the most successful writers would admit that, so it helps to embrace the learning process. Our confidence will increase as we evolve.

It’s all about honesty and integrity, and just being the best you can be. 🙂

 

© Copyright April 15, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

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FIRE IN THE SOUL

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Interesting conversations with readers give me a lot to think about, so I like to provide a platform for those conversations.

Someone recently brought up amateur/aspiring v. professional.

I have known people who create guidelines for when a person can call himself or herself an author (or even a writer). It’s the same with most artists. Are they amateur and aspiring or professional and experienced?

Many of us have had this burning passion or determination to do something since childhood. Ideas and urges came, and we responded. We delivered. I feel we know whether we identify as poets, writers, artists, musicians before we ever have a book published, show our work in a museum or get on stage with a band. We may be aspiring to succeed and to master our crafts, but we are not aspiring to be what we are.

I remember a fifth-grade poetry assignment. The kid behind me copied my poem. When the teacher (nun) caught him, he told her he copied it from a book. I imagine he thought he’d get in less trouble for that, I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted me to go down with him. Nevertheless, she believed him. She asked for the book, and I was so confused that I was trying to find this book that didn’t exist… in my desk. (Nuns raising their voices to me invoked terror.) Then something strange happened. All these kids began calling out that this boy was lying because I was a writer, and I had always been a writer… other ten-year-olds! Amusing as it seems, they touched my heart for a lifetime. She asked me again if I copied the poem from a book, and I finally found the courage to say I didn’t. She gave me a gold star and displayed it on the wall for Parent-Teacher Conference Day. I will never forget this; how the kids knew this thing about me because it was already part of my identity.

As another example, my nephew was drawing since the age of five. I have never seen anything amateur about his approach, his expression, or his final product. (As an aside, he’s amazing.)

People may tell you things like, well you’re not published, you’re not an author, or you’re not a writer, even though you have been doing this thing ever since you can remember.

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If there is anything to separate the amateurs from the pros, for me, it is the desire and willingness to give your best and give your all.

Pros focus on mastering their craft. They set goals. It is a priority in their lives, and they will devote as much time to it as is possible. They can’t “not” do it. They know the passion is the fire in their soul. It’s their heart. They know it’s who they are.

Whether we are good or not, that is another story, but we have control over that, too.

From early on, characterization and dialogue were my strengths. Description was my weakness. I was not observant. I kept my mind clouded with other things, the obsessions of the moment. Eventually, I realized I had to work hard on that area, and I did with much success.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we often feel we don’t measure up, as people, as artists. If we believe that, that’s when we work to get better: identify problems, find solutions, expand our knowledge, and hone our skills. The desire exists for a reason, and learning is perpetual. We can always do better. That is all a part of mastering.

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© Copyright February 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

RECLAIM THE GIFT THAT MAKES YOUR SPIRIT SOAR

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Photo Credit – Angela Marie Henriette

 

My nephew, Christopher, was about six when he gazed out the window in the backseat of the car and said, “I’m just afraid I will run out of things to draw.”

He began at an early age, sketching and drawing—leaving people in awe of his talent. You see the brilliance in his eyes when he talks to you, especially about art. When I ask him if he can do a certain thing, the answer is, “Of course, I can!” He is chock full of confidence.

It is not hard to believe in someone like him. We not only believe in him, but we also celebrate him. He touches our hearts and remains such a light in a dark world.

I feel the exact same way about my son who was educating strangers about Jupiter’s moons in the first grade. They are two people who came into the world with gifts and talents, and a clear sense of who they were from an early age. I can attest to this much: when you know, from childhood, what you are and what you love, you cannot imagine any other life. I feel strongly; people must allow you to be the person you are, not the vision of you and your future that they have in mind.

It is easy to recognize the apathy and pain of someone who never lived their dream; someone left to wonder what the outcome might have been had they followed their heart. You see glimpses of their fire, traces of the light gone from their eyes. They had their spirits crushed, their voices silenced, their true selves obliterated.

Children need to hold on to their natural confidence and infectious enthusiasm, along with the ability to trust their instincts. My heart tells me, we need to not only believe in them but also show them how much we do.

Perhaps this is one reason experiencing an incredible contribution to the arts– everything from singing and drawing to dancing—can move me to tears. I realize people make incredible achievements every single day, ones I don’t see. They may not have an audience or applause, but their achievements are no less important. But seeing people get out there, doing the thing they love most and nailing it speaks to the person inside many of us that might say, I want to do what I love as fearlessly as that. I want to celebrate that moment where I have the audacity to succeed and reach the hearts of others, all of us sharing the passion and joy. It is one of life’s beautiful and most cherished experiences.

For me, it is.

In these moments, I don’t think about the harrowing destruction of our world or of humanity. It is a brief lull because I don’t want to ignore that. It has affected me profoundly since childhood, and while I search my heart for solutions, I can only counteract with love and a message of oneness. I believe each of us can do that in some way, especially if we have a voice or means of communicating our passion and love to the world. It is one small contribution of many until we can do better.

Those of us who have made it thus far with our dreams intact are eternally grateful. Whatever the passion – no matter what happens in life, it is there, and it saves you. It just might save others, too.

© Copyright August, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

THE RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF A DREAM: THE HEART’S MOST REWARDING JOURNEY

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In the natural world, I don’t talk much about writing (though I probably should). When I do, people often open up about their lifelong passions. Most of them seem to feel that although they’d love to do something about those lifelong dreams, they’ll never get the chance. What I believe, though, is that those passions tell us who we are.

For me, it began with the The Wizard of Oz. (I think it inspired many writers.) I was four or five the first time I saw it. They had me at Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but every scene that followed left me spellbound. By the age of eight, I wrote fairy tales and years later went on to poetry. At sixteen, I wrote a novel. It was rather an aimless story, and my idea of a hero at sixteen should have been a big red flag—as in, you need therapy, Kid, but it was over five hundred pages! tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-005

Me Along the Journey

Me Along the Journey Then and Now

Another inspiration came to me at nineteen—someone else’s story that moved me. I submitted it directly to Random House, which you could do back then. They rejected it, but I followed up and ultimately learned they were willing to reconsider it if I reconstructed it in the manner they suggested. I was a cocky little egomaniac, so I didn’t. I scrapped that, too, and went in a different direction with Soul of a Child, my third attempt at a novel. It was the best of the three since I was learning to master my craft, but I kept getting sidetracked—relationships, work, other career options, illness, tragedy, one distraction after another.

Somewhere between 2003 and 2005, I began toying with the idea of reconstructing the three books into a series. Initially, I was too distracted to focus. I had to set small goals, just do it for an hour a day and then work up from there. As the momentum began to build, I made writing my priority. That meant waking up at four a.m. every day to work a few hours before getting ready for my job at a law firm. I may have fallen asleep anywhere between seven and nine p.m., but it was worth it to me.

In 2009, I completed the first book of that series, except I had started at the beginning of my protagonist’s life, and she was still twelve on page four hundred fifty.I realized then; I had been doing it wrong from the start. (This is why you need patience and resilience.) Not that I expect everyone to run into this particular problem, but there are plenty of problems to go around.

It occurred to me that, in this undertaking, I had tunnel vision. I was trying to get everything in and everything accurate as if someone had subpoenaed me to testify. Second, I was writing about my life. That hadn’t been the plan initially, but since such a peculiar story had developed, I felt compelled to share it. Then, starting at the beginning of a protagonist’s young life in a novel can be tricky—and boring if you are not careful. Charles Dickens, a master storyteller, pulled it off brilliantly in David Copperfield, but I obviously didn’t.

It was time to start over yet again. And this is all part of the learning process. You learn what a dumb-ass you are, and you fix it. That’s true of life, in general, if you’re doing it right, and it’s certainly true of writing.

I had to part with much of the material I initially wanted to include. As a writer, I knew that deep down. The emotional connection to this saga was blinding me. One of the first things we learn as writers is to write what we know, but it’s okay to learn as you go, to research, and to, quite frankly, make shit up. It’s fiction, damn it. If someone wants to write about his or her life, that’s great. It wasn’t working for me. Fiction is what inspired me, so I reached a point where it no longer mattered what actually happened to someone at some point and what didn’t. That made it a lot easier. I could focus on the storytelling aspect. Once again, the foundation had to be tweaked, all of that groundwork. I would end up with a fictitious story loosely based on a story that was true for someone at some point or another (as it should be). tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-010Isn’t that how it usually goes?

I went through thousands of pages of notes and poured over the old manuscripts. Eventually, I had everything organized into folders. Now and then, I show someone the obsessively, compulsively, and meticulously organized file folders on my hard drive, and they can’t believe what I’ve done here. I can’t believe it either.

My eyes were blind sometimes after a day’s work. I fought distractions like they were demons. I put together two volumes of poetry while working on this first book of the series and got one of them published. (The other will be out soon.) Those are good distractions, but there were not so good ones. And there were also sudden waves of anxiety (seemingly out of nowhere) not to mention the occasional moments of outright fear. I drank water, opened windows, got air, and just let myself breathe; reminding myself it will all turn out okay. My fellow writers understand this: Often it is just you and the moon, you and the rain, or you and the sun outside your window reminding you that life is passing too quickly. But it is, indeed, okay. In fact, most of the time, it’s quite peaceful and beautiful.

I have been fortunate to receive an abundance of praise thus far for whatever I have put out there. I am fortunate, too, to have wonderful friends and family members, particularly my son, my sister and my nephew, all of whom have cheered me on at every turn. Their encouragement and support mean more than they know.

I have writer friends who can attest to the fact that you will lose people along the way. In fact, when I was dreaming of all this at eight, I had no idea what a thick skin I would need. Some people will wage a personal passive aggressive war with you, and you can’t waste too much energy there. The “not enough to go around” syndrome is real, and the people who suffer from it perceive your gains as their losses. Leave them to sort it out. You don’t have to. People will get mad at you for even wanting what you want, or they want you to fail for whatever reason they decide. Let them. You did the hard work, earned your accomplishments, and that’s what matters. It helps to focus on that, keep working hard, and doing your best. The rewards come, and then they keep coming.

I know, too, that no matter how tough it may get, I’m in. I have always been a writer and will always be a writer. It’s what I do and who I am, and I’ll deal.I have immense gratitude for being able to do what I do and for the privilege of sharing it with others.

If you ask me, it is a miracle that I managed to get this far, but I have completed the first book of my series. It is now in the hands of my editor. It was such an insanely long journey that I marked the day and time, August 17, 2015, at 5 pm. And since all the groundwork is complete, the subsequent books in the series won’t be far behind.

It’s a trite saying by now, but if you don’t believe in you, no one will. For many of us, getting to that level and staying there is in itself, a journey. I know, too, we can always find reasons, excuses not to do it. You have to muster up some courage and become part of the celebration of triumph. As I see it, there are two corners, the cheering corner, and the grimace corner. Everybody in the cheering corner gets a taste of victory. Camaraderie begins, and it leads to making dreams come true. It’s contagious. In the grimace corner, they just continue to whine, criticize, and make faces. It’s about what’s in your heart. Ignore them. Just do it. I’ll be holding your hand from afar.

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© Copyright August 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WHAT IS THE HEART OF YOUR MOTIVATION?

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If you are an author, you know this, we don’t just write a book and query agents or publishers. We are entrepreneurs, hustling to compete in an oversaturated market. Beyond the ongoing creative process, you devote a lot of time and effort to marketing, interacting with your potential audience, avoiding controversial issues, and essentially walking on eggshells.

It’s hard to fathom how an artist of any kind can be both cautious and authentic and avoid controversial issues. Can you imagine Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain navigating their social media platforms? It would be hilarious.

Doing any of the above, let alone all of it requires an extraordinary amount of motivation. Considering this, I often wonder what others think and dream about while assessing their goals and struggling to achieve them.

I had decided, before second grade, I wanted to help people “escape” if only for a while. I dreamt of making fantasies come to life while delivering messages of love, kindness, and hope. Ten years later, I wanted a mansion, fancy cars, and a full staff. I clipped an article titled “What to Do with Your First Million” and followed its advice to live as if I was already there. I found the celebrity hotspots and frequented them while remaining unfazed. I went for the expensive champagne. My father dared to suggest I become an advertising copywriter. I told him I would not waste my talent to sell bottles of soap and junk like that.

Being twenty-something also presented what seemed like easy opportunities to model or marry up, along with opportunities to break into print on someone else’s terms. In my estimation, these “opportunities” were not easy if I had to invest in something that had nothing to do with my ruling passion or something in conflict with that passion. It seemed a colossal waste of oh so precious time and energy to continually nurture those things.

My opinions, needs, and wants have changed over the years, as I’m sure is true for many. People take different roads, and the one I stumbled onto was the longest route possible. It had to allow for interminable growth and healing.

Some may remember the vision boards of the 90s. What I might have put on those boards at seventeen and twenty-one wouldn’t be on there now. Yeah, a bigger, better place is always great. I like a lot of space. I realized, though, I could be happy anywhere that is reasonably comfortable, and I’m happy with what I have. I don’t need a lot of money to do what I want in life. I’m already doing it. I love what I do and feel privileged to share it with anyone. (I’m talking about writing fiction now, not blogging, which I hate.)

Of course, it’s not a bad thing to want money. We have to want it. It pays the bills, gives you security. You can eat. It puts you in a position of being able to give it to people who need it. It allows you to pursue things you want to pursue. So yes, if anyone wanted to hand me a million dollars, I’d take it.

Being motivated to hustle and sell is another story. Caring about having that bestseller or how many books you’ve sold requires that hunger I had at seventeen and twenty-one. Yes, we all want it, but you may need to move a few mountains to get it and can’t be too lazy about that.

It’s seems easy enough to pretend to be what everyone wants and say all the things people want to hear so that you can sell a gazillion books, right? I know the sort of things I’d need to say and do in that regard and yet still find it impossible. I’m sure I am far from alone in that.

If what I contribute to the world has the best possible impact on someone, it’s well worth it to me. So, yes, every time another person reaches out to express his or her appreciation, it’s hard to want more than that.

The motivation to provide an escape, make fantasies come to life and deliver messages of hope in this bizarre world, remains. Far as that goes, I have come full circle, back to my childhood heart.

Above all, however, writing is the ultimate refuge. In constantly feeling the world’s pain, individually and collectively, that, too, becomes part of the motivation. Writing, for me, is that comforting place. Even those who write dark literature would agree that what horror they write pales in comparison to real world horrors. We want those blessed intervals of complete, total control of what is happening, and what happens next. We can delude ourselves, but more often, we share the suffering, the healing through a process of grief, and sometimes we fix the broken in ways we can’t do in life.

For these reasons, writing consumes me. It leaves me with little time to nurture more than a handful of relationships or to build what others have. At times, I feel a sense of loss, and then I remember that I created all I had ever wanted—a peaceful existence where I could write and share and then spend precious hours with people who mean the most. I’ve come to treasure that, along with life’s simple things.

I may have to kick it into high gear, but it helps to understand what drives you.

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© Copyright June 25, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

A RETURN TO MY CHILDHOOD HEART

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A few years ago, when I began my literary fiction series, I chose New York City as the setting for my story. I was born and raised in Woodside, Queens, New York, so it seemed the obvious choice. I soon realized this was not the story I wanted to tell. The determination to write since early childhood had nothing to do with wanting or needing to tell my story. Fantasy drew me in, and I loved a challenge. Somewhere along the line, I became stuck in reality, and this created limits in the limitless realm of fiction.

I decided to find a different setting for my story, a place I’d never visited. I chose Glastonbury, on the banks of the Connecticut River. I would visit there eventually and numerous times but only after I created it first in my mind. Of course, these days, we have the Internet for research—images, maps and that little yellow Google person. One could travel the roads and study the map while sitting in a comfortable office chair drinking coffee, which I did.

This past Sunday was my first “actual” visit. I traveled there with my sister, Denise, my son, Jesse, and my nephew, Christopher. We decided we would go to Hartford first, which is about twenty minutes from Glastonbury.

We set out at 9 a.m. on the most beautiful September day. After an hour of driving, we stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Milford. Christopher tried the apple streusel French toast breakfast. Jesse had a bacon cheeseburger. Denise and I ordered scrambled eggs with biscuits.

Now, Jesse never wants photos of him on the Internet, which I thoroughly respect. He took these photos at Cracker Barrel, except for the goofy one where I tried on the cowboy hat. Denise took that one while Jesse watched Christopher take videos of a toy pig singing ‘Wild Thing’ and a toy dog singing ‘Dance to the Music’.

Our arrival in Hartford was at least an hour later.

Hartford Welcome

We bought tickets for a tour of Mark Twain’s house and poked around the museum until it was time for the tour.

 

I was thrilled at the first glimpse of Mark Twain’s Victorian Gothic revival home. I could see why this place was so special to him. (As an aside, the guide usually referred to Mark Twain as Samuel Clemens, Mr. Clemens or Sam. As I am sure most people are aware, it was his real name.)

When we went inside the house, the guide asked that we refrain from taking photographs or touching anything except the banister while walking up and down the stairs. I must say, the décor is impressive. I loved the ambiance, particularly in the cozy library, which faced a conservatory that had a fountain and lush plants. The interior of the house remains dark for the tours because the Clemens family had gas lighting when they occupied the home. I love dim lighting, but I imagine this much darkness can become dreary, not to mention a little spooky at night, going up and down those stairs, probably with a candle. It prompted me to ask about ghost stories. The guide informed us that people claimed to have seen the ghost of Susy Clemens, the oldest daughter. She died alone in the house, from spinal meningitis, at the age of 24. Employees also made claims that the butler’s ghost continues to work there. We learned that the show ‘Ghost Hunters’ featured the house. Apparently, there are ‘Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours’ that sell out quickly, so tickets must be bought in advance.

Some people in attendance were not thrilled to hear about the ghosts. I hadn’t thought about that since I don’t seriously believe in ghosts. Denise reminded us of the time we all walked through the haunted maze at Bayville Scream Park. While searching frantically for the exit, I said (loudly) there was no way out, then suddenly all these kids were crying hysterically. Their parents had to assure them there was an exit somewhere. It’s a good thing I believed in ghosts when my own son was a child. I was less oblivious to people’s fears and concerns about ghosts and other creatures that likely don’t exist.

The tour, while quite interesting, took much longer than they said it would. Through most of it, I didn’t focus on our confinement to a relatively small space where only three people weren’t strangers. Toward the end, this reality became painfully obvious. I wanted to ball gag anyone who asked another question.

Outside on the grounds, we took more photos. I came up with the unoriginal idea to pose with a book, since I like those seemingly candid shots of authors reading books. I am still laughing about this. Denise (and even Jesse) took a dozen photos like that—me reading on the grass, on the steps of the museum, on a bench, etc. Everyone made me laugh with funny comments about these “photo-ops” especially since I hate photos of me, let alone sharing them on social networking sites. During the last attempt, Jesse thought he had the perfect shot when Denise came over and said, “Still with the book?” I lost it and laughed hysterically in the only picture you will see of me with the book. It was the way she said it. She is funny. They are all so funny. Christopher later decided he, too, wanted a picture while reading a book. It became a thing…a silly thing. Silly is good.

Here are a few of the photos, which include some other houses on the property, like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house. The Twain and Stowe houses are captioned at least one time.


I am including the link for anyone who would like to see the interior we could not photograph and some other interesting links.

Mark Twain House

Nook Farm: Mark Twain’s Neighborhood

Where Mr. Twain and Mrs. Stowe Built Their Dream Houses

Funny Mark Twain Quotes

By the time we arrived in Glastonbury, it was late afternoon. It was not easy to find certain places, and we often found ourselves on private property during the search. One or two of us got out of the car anyway, camera in hand. Jesse said we should have brought bail money. He wouldn’t budge from the car.

We drove around in circles trying to find the entrance to Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow’s pristine woodlands. That didn’t happen. The one person we asked sent us to the wrong place, though we thoroughly enjoyed the scenic drive through the woods of Kongscut Mountain Open Space and Mountain View Estates. It was gorgeous, but we didn’t take any photos. We were too busy looking for Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow.

Glastonbury is a pretty place. I wish we had more time to capture this in photos; however, it was great to be there. We did more laughing than anything, but that’s the best part of any trip. We had fun.

These are photos of my main character’s neighborhood (which is a bit too close to the cemetery). She attended Smith Middle School. Addison Park was part of her childhood.


Here is a link to the preserve we were looking for (Shoddy Mill Coon Hollow).

The Cotton Hollow Preserve We Didn’t Find

On the way back to New York, we saw the most incredible sunset. Denise loves to photograph sunrises and sunsets, but she was driving. I took a picture for her with her phone, except I never heard the click. I thought it didn’t work the first time, and somehow she ended up with I don’t know how many pictures of that sunset.

She was busy deleting sunsets at Red Lobster while we ordered our food, scolding me. We all joked. We were home in New York by then and starving. We savored every bite of our meals. Eating is part of the fun, too, isn’t it? Besides, we ran out of Twizzlers in Hartford.

Here is what I learned. Your heart, as a child, knows. Through life’s encounters and experiences, you can pile shovel after shovel of dirt upon it—bury it so deep that it is lost to you. It’s important to dig through all the dirt and find it, then embrace it, and never lose it again.

© Copyright September 20, 2014 kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

PASSIONS AND DREAMS

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My nephew, Christopher, was about six when he gazed out the window in the backseat of the car and said, “I’m just afraid I will run out of things to draw.”

He began at an early age, sketching and drawing – leaving people in awe of his talent. Every year his mom helped him put together a calendar featuring his artwork.

You can see brilliance in his eyes when he talks to you, especially about art. When I ask him if he can do a certain thing, the answer is, “Of course, I can!” He is chock full of confidence.

It is not hard to believe in someone like him. He is, above all, kind, caring and a sensitive soul. We not only believe in him, we celebrate him. He touches our hearts and remains such a light in a dark world.

I feel the same way about my own son who was educating strangers about Jupiter’s moons in the first grade. They are two people who came into the world with their own gifts and talents, giving you a clear sense of who they were from the start. I can attest to this much: when you know, from childhood, what you are and what you love, you cannot imagine any other life. I feel strongly, people must allow you to be the person you are, not the vision of you and your future they have in mind.

It is easy to recognize the apathy and pain of someone who never lived their dream, someone left to wonder what the outcome might have been had they followed their heart. You see glimpses of their fire, traces of the light gone from their eyes. They had their spirits crushed, their voices silenced, their true selves obliterated.

Children need to hold on to their natural confidence and infectious enthusiasm, along with the ability to trust their instincts. My heart tells me, we need to not only believe in them, but also show them how much we do.

Perhaps this is one reason experiencing an incredible contribution to the arts – everything from singing and drawing to dancing – can move me to tears. I realize people make incredible achievements every single day, ones I don’t see. They may not have an audience or applause, but their achievements are no less important. Seeing people get out there, however, doing the thing they love most and nailing it speaks to the person inside many of us that says, I want to do what I love as fearlessly as that. I want to celebrate that fearless moment where I succeed in reaching the hearts of others, where we all participate and share the passion and joy. My heart sings in contentment. It is one of life’s beautiful and most cherished experiences.

For me, it is.

In these moments, I don’t think about the harrowing destruction of our world or the harrowing destruction of humanity. It is a brief lull, because I don’t want to ignore that – all the suffering, all the pain, all the hatred. It has affected me profoundly since childhood, and while I search my heart for solutions, I can only counteract with love and a message of oneness. I believe we all can in some way, especially if we have a voice or means of communicating our passion and love to the world. It is one small contribution of many, until we can do better.

Those of us who have made it thus far with our dreams intact are eternally grateful. Whatever the passion – no matter what happens in life, it is there, and it saves you. It just might save others, too.

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© Copyright August, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.