Tuesday, January 26, 2016

7:30 BELLS: The White Wonder of Now

Witness pure joy. And feel it yourself—I did when I watched this panda reveling in last weekend’s record snow in Washington DC. No doubt— the bells are ringing for Tian Tian! And for me as I watched his joy. I’ve seen animals play, but I’ve never seen pure instinctual joy like this.

And it makes me wonder. Is joy instinctual? So much of human consciousness has only recently emerged from our vast primordial unconscious past—and that past still walks with us below our awareness. We get intimations of it in dreams, art, myths, religious symbols, and behavior we don’t understand.

Hunger, fear, the urge to create and procreate, protect—all are instinctual. I love the idea that what we consider “higher” human emotions are instinctual as well.

I wish I could feel such pure joy. Part of it has to do with the animal ability to transcend time. No past. No future. Just snow sliding under me, flying around me in the vast white wonder of now.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on February 9 for a guest post with children's book author Clare Hodgeson Meeker.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Magic Cup is Coming!

Dia Calhoun and Lorie Ann Grover
 are excited to announce the upcoming publication of 

A Business Parable About a Leader, a Team, 
and the Power of Putting People and Values First
by Howard Behar

Calhoun and Grover collaborated in the writing with Behar, 
former president of Starbucks International. 

The book encapsulates the values Behar has held
as a leader throughout his life, 
such as truth, courage, compassion, and responsibility. 

THE MAGIC CUP helps us discover
that only by acting on sound moral values
can we fill our lives 
with the personal and professional success
and satisfaction we seek.

Forward by Jeff Brotman,
Co-founder and Chairman of Costco

Available March 22, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

7:30 BELLS: Fog Song Under the Stars

In early evening, fog rises from fields near the river, and hovers like a halo. But the sky is clear. Later, when I step out for a night walk, the fog swells above the tree tops, ringing the horizon. But the sky is still clear. Mighty Orion surges in the south. And that immovable point at the sky’s heart—the North Star—shines brightly.

The Bells ring as I think, how strange life is, What is eternal, timeless
a celestial road that is light-years awayis clear and close above me. But what's only a few yards from my hand is blurred in a dark watercolor fog, a blending of the world like a painting by J.M.W. Turner. No open road there. 

But the fog has its own beautyblue, purple, black. Suddenly I don’t mind that I can’t see the near road, because I can see the essential one. 

Most of the time, life is the other way around. And that's worse, I think. The near world, the near road to take looks obvious. Meanwhile fog floats overhead, obscuring the essential, far road that we should really use to navigate by.

Perhaps there's a clue here to holding times of uncertainty in our lives with comfort instead of distress. Maybe we can even see that uncertain state as beautiful, a fog-song of its own
if we stay connected to whatever the essential is for us—and if we trust that somehow, someway, the far starry road will lead us through the fog.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on February 9 for a guest post with children's book author Clare Hodgeson Meeker.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chime of the Day

Great ideas do not come from the well behaved.

     --paraphrased from a talk by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

7:30 BELLS Guest Post: Scribbling in the Void by Erik Brooks

Erik Brooks, illustrator/author of children's books, lives in the same Methow Valley that inspired four of my novels. I'm so pleased to share this inspiring (and very kind) guest post.

Thank you Dia for the invite. I’m excited to participate—especially knowing that we shared the same ill-fated debut publisher oh so many years ago. But its good to know as well that we weathered an early hiccup to continue doing what we love—making our way in the world of children’s lit.

If I’m perfectly honest, the twenty-seven-year-old me was humbled and impressed by your eloquent and articulate descriptions of that early publication experience—something about “Waltzing on Quicksand” —and the same holds true today to see you exploring these many varied sources of inspiration in the 7:30 BELLS. Sixteen years ago you epitomized a professional and thoughtful approach to creative endeavor — so thank you for setting a high bar and keep up the great work!

Regarding the Bells—these vibes that spark us to creative things—I wanted to write about the wild—about growing up Alaskan and about living on the edge of the Washington’s own Cascadian wilderness. Or about winter, which goes hand-in-hand in my mind. I love the snow. I love the quiet. It feels different than the everyday and therefore special—lightly chiming for an entire season. And truly, bells do ring for me in this regard—connecting a forty-three-year-old author/illustrator, husband, and father, to the elementary school-aged child who explored the Anchorage foothills.

But even more than wilderness and winter, the most important chime for me is the physical endeavor—the engagement outdoors, and then the lull that follows. I get out. I run. I ski. I shovel the driveway! And these little explorations—are tantamount to ringing. I work, like many of us, sitting, in relative isolation—so its AMAZING to be out! Its even better of course when you catch a fleeting glimpse of a mountain lion tail—or hold a sleeping wolverine in your arms—but chimes can peel in so many ways.

As unique and caterwauling as these active moments can be however, what rings me most are those quiet moments of repose. The after, perhaps, even more than the action. The sound of my heartbeat. The pause and the breath. The gulp of inspiration. Things happen. Wild surprises. But space, it seems, is created in the lull. And that is where the pencil really comes to life—scribbling in the void—ringing at a furious pace.

Erik Brooks illustrator of 20+ books for children and the author/illustrator of several more including the Washington State Book award winning Polar Opposites, and next years’ Later, Gator! (Sterling, 2016). When not drawing, writing, or visiting schools and libraries, you’ll find him coaching cross-country and track at the local high school, running, skiing, and wandering through the North Cascades. Erik lives in Winthrop, Washington, with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Keeley. Say hello to Erik online at erikbrooks.com.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on February 9 for a guest post with children's book author Clare Hodgeson Meeker.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

7:30 BELLS: New Year’s Resolution: Behold the Hawk

“The word reclamation is derived from the old French reclaimer, meaning ‘to call back the hawk which has been let fly.'” --Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

When the hawk lands in the bare cottonwood, you have to be ready. You won’t have long before he flies away with whatever message he’s come to deliver. So have binoculars nearby. Be strong enough to keep them pressed to your eyes. Be strong enough to keep your arms from trembling at the beholding of mystery.

You’ve prepared for this coming. You’ve done push-ups. Purchased new eyeglass prescriptions. Meditated. Read all the mythology you could hold. And listened to your dreams.

The hawk comes with a cry of swiftness to the bare branch. You grab the binoculars and watch. Only his head moves from side to side. Looking here, here, here. Looking everywhere, always. How long will it perch in the cottonwood—the hawk, the revelation, the annunciation? Even with all your preparation, you fear your strength will fail at that moment you’ve been anticipating, the moment the hawk takes flight.

And so it does. Just as your shaking arms fall, the hawk flies. You missed the glory of the upswept wings, the ascension to the sky.

The hawk came because you called
prepared, even if you weren’t perfectly prepared. Revelation doesn’t wait until we can hold up ten-thousand pound binoculars for ten-thousand days. Or until we’ve meditated ten-thousand hours. Or read ten-thousand books. It’s when we’re imperfect that we most need revelation.

So look back out the window. Look here and here and here, moving your head constantly from side to side hoping for another glimpse of the hawk. And finally you understand what the hawk came to tell you. All you have to do is keep turning your head. You need only be strong enough to keep looking, here, here, and here. Keep looking everywhere, always.

Beholding is everything.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on January 12 for a guest post with children's book author Erik Brooks.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Central Oregon Teen Lit Festival

I'm excited to visit gorgeous Bend, Oregon this coming April to speak at the Central Oregon Teen Lit Festival. We often vacation in the jewel that is the Oregon Cascades. I'll feel right at home among trees, mountains, books, and book lovers. See you there! More details to come.