My Bliss Meter by Janine M. Donoho

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALet me admit that vortices of ‘why bother’ have been known to draw me into their gyrations. With a throbbing knee keeping me from decades-long walking meditations over the last month, my outlook has swung wildly into Danger-Will-Robinson-red before bumping into cautionary yellow.

Even so my thanks-o-meter has begun to migrate into the sweet green zone again as I enjoy moments of gratitude so richly textured that the sky actually opens and celestial beings pour through—although decidedly not of the religiosity variety. Instead my unnatural immobility focuses me on what registers with both normal and extrasensory perceptions—an indulgence and a categorically unscientific way of viewing the world. It does speak to an integrated brain, however.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today I’m enthralled by the fire in our soapstone stove. Within the temperature registers a balmy 60+ degrees Fahrenheit rather than the double-digit minuses outside. Our basking hounds sigh and groan, adding a joyful dimension. Beside me are stacks of books to read. Bliss.

Travel stickersA handwritten letter from a best friend included these inspiring stickers of maps you might expect to see on old steamer trunks—along with beautifully rendered birds. Then there’s my Wacom tablet, which required a year of scrimping to buy. The tablet works brilliantly with Corel Painter 12—a promise of exhilarating skills to gain and visions to liberate.

Can I even joke about the uninhibited delight I find in MSOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA writing programs? Especially when compared to typewriters with carbon copies and the ancient Commodore 64 on which I wrote my first novel, losing chapters at a time when the system burped. I simply love my artful pens, too—gifts received with each published novel. Another two for CHOSEN BY MIST (Book 3 of MISTBORN CHRONICLESand SOUNDINGS (Water Elemental) will be joining the medley of five this month. What writer can resist a fabulous pen?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally this Tuesday I look forward to getting both cortisone and hyaluronic acid injections into my aching joint. By the end of next year, I may while away the winter months recovering from a more permanent fix. Exuberant dancing, extreme hiking, and other endorphin-crazed activities could fill my life again. On, on!

Another gift? Some communities translate well into electron clouds, especially when you connect with those wild ones who will howl at the moon with you. They can loft you into the stratosphere when other means fail. So thank you to those unconventional, big-brained creatives on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. You expand my horizons from isolated to ecstatic herd member.

Let’s start a conversation. What gets you over the bumps and pegs out your gratitude meter?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Greyhound in the Arbor by Janine M. Donoho

Like many of us, I navigate periodic meltdowns. This usually happens during the BIG transitions: death of a family member, including our hounds; life in new geography which entailed leaving behind best girlfriends; the early death of a friend; learning on Facebook that your very independent and beloved son was in a near fatal accident… You get the idea. We all face these changes.

Most of us survive these times. Sometimes we do so through our natural ebullience, other times we walk upon tender bare feet across what feels like shards of heated glass. My process for surmounting falls most often in the latter category.

When engrossed in the moment, I sometimes encounter resistance toward the next evolution. That can mean putting petal-to-metal to get where I need to be. Although it does bring out interesting responses in the predominately slow-moving folk where we live now, that behavior’s changing.

 Allow me to share with you this scrumptious moment between–a moment of now with my sweet greyhound Kartoucheʹ. After three years of feeding roots and training trunks into cordons and a canopy, we have our first ripening grapes.

Bliss.

Growing a Life of Bliss by Janine M. Donoho

Spring offers a natural time of renewal. Cleaning out the cave involves more than chasing dust bunnies into the great outdoors or dealing with windows smeared with sighthound nose-hits. This time of year has become the nexus for an abundance of creative relationships. Besides another planting cycle, an ELEMENTAL novel presses insistent cotyledons from my subconscious as story reaches for light.

Earthy renewal has become as perennial as the hardy plants in my desert gardens.Digging into soil allows space between intuitive writing and more pragmatic edits. As a meditation, building soil presses me to be fully in the present. Sometimes the outcome is to let old fields lie fallow. Either way, this process opens the way for story.

Like kilims and area rugs from Turkey, Morocco and Egypt, it’s good to air winter’s buildup and knock free any debris. Just as stress fractures in a relationship heal faster under bright light, rugs and edited stories can take on a fresh luster. Worn areas can be shored up and perhaps new joys added into the mix. Let’s face it, disappointment and sorrow can dull even the shiniest, most enduring bonds, whether delivered via rejection letters or life’s bumps. But handmade carpets and individual stories hold value because of the hands that craft them. The journey weaves into both weft and tale.

As with this latest ELEMENTAL novel, for years I resisted the call of narcissus and tulips, although crocuses, snowbells and hyacinths received no such impertinence. Yet even as I adore the return of ubiquitous robins, now daffodils, unsown stories and tulips usher in this warming equinox. Thus, both saga and common flower have been invited to grow. Will there be a market for this novel? Who knows. Local whitetails and mule deer treat tulips like candy. The blossoms are more ephemeral than in less wild climes. Still, they’re in my garden today. Thus, this year my Earth ELEMENTAL, along with table grapes and kiwis, take precedence in cultivation. From the multitude of choices available, only the hardiest varieties of ideas and plants survive.

Unlike many stories, there’s a known endpoint for writing the Earth ELEMENTAL. Submissions for Barbara Kingsolver’s BELLWETHER PRIZE FOR FICTION end this September. As for the grapes, Valiant, Edelweiss and Swensen actually have a good chance of enduring arctic continental winds–with some help. The kiwis, whose male plays Pasha to a harem of September Suns, eschew the fuzzy jackets of their commercially known cousins. For each of these endeavors, structure is necessary. Grape arbors, story framework, and kiwi trellises fill my dreams. Oh, and gabion windbreaks constructed from wire and stone…

Yes, the center of my life brims with spring. My beautiful 32-yard turquoise-&-black dancing skirt, which offers no boundaries to untamed Turkish dances, blisses me out. Rich brocades and velvets for vests and hip belts await, too. In a lovely synchronicity during my last signings and library program, a budding friendship with Sou gifted me with Omid’s VICTORY CD along with body mist and butter appropriately named BLISS. Even now, French onion soup simmers in the crockpot. With final additions of Gruyere cheese and coarse chunks of thyme-infused bread, a rainy April in Paris will be revisited. Meanwhile, ferocious winds usher in the season even as chaotic thunderstorms bring pelting rains to quench thirsty gardens.

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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