Charlecote Park

It has been a long time since my last blog post and having left Cardiff and moved to Birmingham which is closer to considerably more historical houses, I have had the opportunity to visit a number of places in the last few months, the latest being Charlecote Park in Warwickshire.

file-29-09-2016-17-34-59 Charlecote Park

A Little History

The house at Charlecote Park dates back to the mid 16th Century built by Thomas Lucy I after inheriting the estate, which had been held by the Lucy family since the late 12th Century. Upon it’s completion around 1558 it was one of the first great Elizabethan houses,  and within 20 years, played host to Queen Elizabeth I who stayed for two days en route from Kenilworth Castle where she visited Robert Dudley. A few short years later, legend has it that young William Shakespeare was caught poaching on the Charlecote estate and as a…

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Black and Blue

I am black and blue.

I am scared for my brothers and sisters.

My loved ones kiss me goodbye, unsure I will come back alive.

You hate me because you assume you know me and my kind.

You fear me because you judge me on appearances alone.

We have a history -you and I.

It too is black and blue.

Which one am I?

Which one are you?

 

Beauty

So I have a confession to make….not a big fan of Beauty and the Beast, not entirely sure why either.  Don’t get me wrong, I can completely relate to the Disney version….brunette with her nose in  a book, always out of place and saying things she probably shouldn’t.  I also fell for a man who, in younger years, could easily be described as a beast; angry, impatient and stubborn……fortunately for him, I was equally so -stubborn that is.  Eventually he softened,  and in return for my calming effect, he strengthened me; helped me find my voice.  Love has a way of doing that.  I am certain God designed us to do that to each other.  Not a fan of the Big Man?  Sorry, but He is kind of pivotal in my life, but don’t go!!!  I promise I won’t preach to you, but I do want to show you your own self-worth, in a different, deeper, beautiful, beastly kind of way.

I’m currently coloring my hair with an all-natural product.  Pretty cool because I’m not stinking up my house, but it is time-consuming.  I’m sharing this because I want you to know that I’m not immune to feeling the pressure to look “pretty.”  (I began going gray at 20 okay, call me crazy, but that isn’t exactly the age I intended to turn into a silver fox, and I don’t have the bone structure of Anderson Cooper to pull it off in any case).  So I started to color my hair, because well, I still wanted to look as young as I actually was.  Years have gone by and I have experimented with more unnatural colors than I can count.  Orange seems to be a reoccurring misstep, and more than once I’ve rinsed out the dye only to discover that the ends of my hair look like tiny, wrinkle-crinkled strings (admit it, you’ve done it too).  I do, however, enjoy a bit of flare in my otherwise homely-brown hair, and I like getting compliments when my color-concoctions haven’t gone aria.  The trap is when my identity gets entangled in my efforts to look like something I’m not.

Beauty isn’t skin deep.  It runs all the way through us.  It’s a pulse, a deep part of who we are and what we want the world to believe we are, the problem is we rarely show the authentic stuff and -brace yourself -the goods God gave us; the stuff we were born with.  In all of my stories I try to picture the minuet DNA of my characters.  I get to pick and choose what their attributes and truly ugly characteristics will be.  I want them to feel authentic.  You won’t find an A-typical beauty in the bunch.  Hazel eyes that radiate the fall season.  Black hair so rich you might think you were staring into an ink pot.  Cheeks that are full and fleshy, like a perfectly ripened peach, or a smile accentuated by deep wrinkles from a life fully-lived.  See how pretty that sounds?  Now do you see that in yourself?  One thing that makes you absolutely beautiful and unique?  Not that any of the attributes listed above belong solely to one person, but they are intermingled and intertwined -designed- into all different patterns that make us each individually special.  I love to find those things, and I try to instill in my daughters the importance of finding it in others.  You can find beauty in any person if you look.  Perhaps a person’s beauty does not fit with fashionable people -whatever that means- but that does not mean they -or you- are lacking it.  Look around and see the deepest, truest beauty in your immediate vicinity.  Have you found it yet?  Keep looking, it’s there.

Was it a cloud?  Was it a tiny bug that crept across the floor of the break room, with translucent, glistening wings? (Don’t kill it please, remember its beautiful too).  Was it a brief smile from a total stranger?  It doesn’t have to come from a magazine cover….in fact, just for good measure, put the magazine away for a few minutes and sit with yourself.  Find the one thing that you really find beautiful about yourself.

My beast has a thin scar along his right bicep.  He got it before we even met, and while yes, it is a scar and not very “pretty” it is the only part of him that doesn’t get tanned in the summer and so becomes more pronounced.  I love it, not because it makes him look tough or manly, but simply because it is a part of him, a part of his life’s story.

My eyes are a strange combination of blue and hazel.  I didn’t like them as a kid because I wanted them to be one or the other.  They seemed dull, and odd, and I had enough of those two attributes without taking my eyes into consideration.  As I’ve grown I’ve found that they are part of my story.  The blue is from my mother and the slight touch of green and gold is from my father.  (The gray hairs are also from both sides, but we won’t discuss that).  My eyes are a part of my story, my person, my beautiful inner-self.  Sure, I suck in other areas, sure I don’t like parts of me, but I am exactly who I was designed to be.  I am exactly my own person, and that my friends……that is fucking beautiful.

Somewhere between sea turtles and literary agents

I am sitting at my desk with my feet soaking in a bit of warm water and Epsom salt.  (I walked doggies at the shelter today and they do a real number on my tootsies).  But I am in a rather relaxed sort of funk and thought it might be a good time to gather up my thoughts and write them down.  I just sent out another query and just prior to that received yet another rejection.

My dear friend in England is feeling rather sorry for me at the moment, but I have assured him of my being in good spirits and in no way discouraged.  Of course every email has started and ended the same way:

‘Thank you for your submission……..sorry but it just isn’t on my list right now.’

And my response to the computer screen is:

“But it is on your list, because I checked before I submitted it to you?!”

I suppose it is just the agency’s polite way of saying, “nope, you stink.”

I ask myself how long I will submit queries before giving up.  100, 200 times?  It would be easier to give myself a limited number of rejections and be done with the whole process -another manuscript tucked under the bed or lit on fire- but I’ve done the easy way a million times.  I’ve been hiding my work, my voice since the 6th grade!  My teacher asked me to submit a story for a competition and I screamed, “no!”

I don’t know what it is about writers that makes us so reluctant to share our work.  Maybe because appreciation is uncertain and rejection an unavoidable part of the process.  No one wants to labor for more than 10 years on a project only to have it tossed back without a second glance.

So what’s an introvert with aspirations and tender toes to do?  Keep going.  Pull my feet out of the pot and get back to work.  If it were just me depending on me, then sure, I would sit and stew forever, but I have others that are counting on me to keep at it.

That dear friend in England is one.  I have promised him a seat at the academy awards one day (don’t think I’ve forgotten muffin).  He has been such a support and encourager.  And on my right at those awards?  My husband, who believes in me when I don’t, which is 99% of the time.  For those two boys and others in my life who inspire and read my work, I cannot give up.  Nope, never.

Sure I will get pissed and cry -one of my worst traits.  Who else bursts into tears during an argument with a guy in the parking lot at Target over why I won’t sign his petition in favor of plastic bags?  Save the sea turtles! Note to self -work on not crying when extremely frustrated with complete strangers.

Uh, hm, anyhoo, what I am trying to get at is that I don’t care if it takes the rest of my life.  I am going to have a published book, and not through my own means, but the old-fashioned way, the way God intended.  Well, I suppose it would be the way He intended if He had invented publishing.  Then again, if you believe He created the guy who created publishing, then technically speaking, He did invent it.  Regardless, He did create sea turtles and they will survive, and so will I.  I will feel my way through uncharted waters and come out the other end with an agent and book deal.  I will……right?  Right.