Tuesday, May 27, 2014

7:30 BELLS: When Butterflies Bloom

Butterfly images have been hovering in and out of my dreams and poems the past two months. So naturally I have been wondering why.

Then a few days ago, while I was writing outside (oh glory—it is the season to write outside!), I saw this butterfly hiding under a red Gerber daisy a few yards away. I watched, amazed that yet another butterfly had flown into my life. What was this one telling me? I emptied my mind of everything but watching, so I could catch any flash of insight.

In Texas, when all the butterfly imagery began, I’d missed an opportunity to take an important picture. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. So out came my camera, but I was too far away to capture detail. Inch by inch, I crept closer. Tried not to startle the butterfly away.

It didn’t move. Then I saw why.

My butterfly was a budding flower—a red Gerber daisy about to bloom. I laughed at myself, even as the bells rang. I loved how a butterfly became a flower. Usually a butterfly is the pinnacle of transformation—moth, chrysalis, butterfly. But even a butterfly had places to go, something to become.

Often we see what our lives have primed us to see, what we are expecting to see. But if we keep watch, life offers some new wonder instead, and how splendidly our minds blast open. I went back to my manuscript, wondering what new wonder I I might see there.

How glorious to think that we can keep becoming. Maybe even angels have places to go.

The bells ring when the expected
into the unexpected

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on June 10 for a guest post with author Joan Holub.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

7:30 BELLS: The Bells of Witness

On Saturday, high in the mountain town of Leavenworth, Washington, the bells rang for me during my book signing at A Book for All Seasons. My best book signing ever. Why? Because I had the privilege to witness something wonderful.

Three sisters came into the store. The littlest was about six, the middle one about eleven, the oldest about fourteen. I chatted with the middle sister about my book Eva of the Farm. She decided she wanted to read it. Then her little sister held up a book and cried, “but I want this one!”

The middle sister hesitated. I guessed she had only enough money to buy one book or the other. She put Eva of the Farm back on the table. “Maybe my library will get it,” she said. And she bought the book her little sister wanted.

How lovely this was! I said, “You are such a good sister.” After the girls left, I told one of the bookstore staff who had witnessed this too, that I’d never cried at a book signing before.

The story gets better.

Ten minutes later, a woman came in and asked if we had seen three girls. She turned out to be their mother.  The family lives in Leavenworth. The staff member and I told her about the wonderful thing her daughter had done. The mother—both proud and a little surprised herself—bought a copy of Eva of the Farm for her daughter.

I was thrilled to inscribe the book with the middle sister’s name and added, “for the best sister in the world.”

Witnessing this act of compassion and selflessness from someone so young gave me hope. If girls like the middle sister grow up to run the world, our future will be beautiful.

Thanks again to owner Pat Rutledge and all the staff for inviting to me to A Book For All Seasons for the best book signing ever.

Witnessing acts of love makes the bells ring

703 Hwy 2, Leavenworth

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

7:30 BELLS Guest Post: Do What You Love by Allie Costa

I can't think of anyone more alive than actress Allie Costa to write the 7:30 BELLS Guest Post for May, a month when all the world is coming alive with light and summer. 

I love a lot of things. I love my family. I love being on stage and on camera. I love reading a good book. I love watching a good movie. I love the sound of a cat purring. When Dia asked me to write a post about what makes the bells ring for me, I thought of all these things and more. If you could peek inside in my mind for just a moment, you'd be treated to multitude of images and memories and songs and words.

I'm a motivated girl. I tend to wake up happy, eager for what the day has in store for me, prepared and determined to make wonderful things happen. I've been asked more than once what gives me so much energy, and the answer is simple: I'm just wired that way. 

I'm fueled by life. I was born with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, a vibrant imagination, and an inner drive that propels me forward. 

Every day, I move forward. Every day, I try to make my dreams come true.

When I sing, I sing from the heart, whether I'm in front of a thousand people or just walking down the street. When I act, I go to the heart of the matter, the truth of the character I'm playing and the story I'm telling. The same when I write. I want to communicate and create stories that touch people, that make them feel alive and inspired.

There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. There's always more to say, more to share, more to do. Thankfully, if we're lucky, we get another day, and another. And, if we're wise, we appreciate what we have, allow ourselves to follow our hearts, and make every day count.

How can YOU make the bells ring? Do what you love, and love what you do.

Do what you love, love what you do,
and the bells will ring.

Allie Costa is an actress, writer, singer, and director. She is currently playing Sam in Wake.Film/TV credits include 90210, Unusual Suspects, You Me & Her, andUnintentionally Awesome. Theatre credits include Spring Awakening (Martha/Ilse), Hamlet(Guildenstern), Pope Joan (Young Joan), and Before a Fall (Darla). Allie's original plays and screenplays include Who She Could Have Been, Prodigal Daughter, Testimony, and Can You Keep a Secret? She recently managed to be in four places at once, which was a personal record.

Learn more about Allie Costa at: http://www.alliecosta.com

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on June 10 for a guest post with author Joan Holub.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

7:30 BELLS: A Spider, a Masterpiece, and Canova’s Heart

Have you ever felt insignificant in the presence of a great masterpiece—perhaps a sculpture by Michelangelo or an equation by Einstein? Ever felt anything you might make or do—writing a novel, a theorem—will be paltry against the history of creative accomplishment? Have you wondered how long anything you make might last? Or how “great” it could ever be compared to such masterpieces? I did. But a spider changed all that when I visited an 800 year old Frari Church in Venice.

The church has renaissance paintings and sculptures. Immense vaulted space lit by jeweled windows of stained glass. Titian is entombed there, and so is Canova’s heart. I stood awed by 800 years of glory. Then, high up in the air, something glimmered. One silken spider thread spanned the glory of vaulted light.

What could be more ephemeral than a spider's web? The startling contrast of eternity and the present made me come alive, made the bells ring and ring.

Suddenly how long, how great no longer mattered to me. Only ascension to the now, to the here. The great history of creative endeavor and accomplishment is like Frari Church. And anything we try to make or do belongs there simply because it is a participation in the age-old creative glory of the human spirit.

But I don’t need my work on a church wall. Don’t need my heart entombed when I die. I need to live now. I need to be a spider and soar into that vaulted glory, spinning out any gossamer beauty I might make. And should one person look up, see it, and stand transfixed for a moment, that is masterpiece enough for me.

Spin your silken thread into the vaulted glory,
and the bells will ring.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on May 13 for a guest post with actress and children's literature blogger Little Willow, Allie Costa.