All posts tagged: volunteer

Smoke and Ashes

The first month my husband and I lived in our current neighborhood, we watched a house across road from us burn to the ground. The scent of smoke began to pervade the street around 8pm, and at first, could have been mistaken for a campfire or barbeque. Soon the air became hazier and it was obvious something was wrong. Neighbors and volunteer firefighters walked up and down the street looking for the source of the smoke for a half an hour before visible flames began to shoot out from the house across the road and three houses down from ours. Within another 10- 15 minutes the house was engulfed in flames. I had never met the owners of the house or been inside their home, but I knew they had lived a lifetime in it. I could tell by their back yard. It faced a stretch of the walking trail my husband and I walk every evening. We were  just learning how hard it is to maintain a green lawn, and theirs was thick and …

Star Wars at the Symphony

This past weekend I attended a screening of Star Wars; A New Hope hosted by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Just like a previous showing I attended last November of Home Alone,  the orchestra performed the soundtrack live. Once again, it was a fantastic experience. Every time I see John Williams’s music performed live, I really appreciate how intricate the music is, and how difficult it is to perform live. Seeing the score to Star Wars performed live was also very nostalgic, since I was introduced to the movies by my grandparents as a child. I have a lot of fond memories of watching and re-watching all three films while staying with them for visits. I would highly recommend seeing a movie screening with the score performed live if you ever have the chance. I’m looking forward to seeing the Empire Strikes back in 2020! Give Back: Dress for Success is a national organization that distributes suits and business attire to women across the country. Each client gets a suit, shoes, and accessories to wear on …

Creating a Writing Soundtrack

I’ve always found it difficult to write in silence. Even as far back as high school, if I was writing an essay or report, I needed music in the background or my mind would wander. Now, when I’m working on poetry and short stories, I like to listen to classical music written or featured in soundtracks for movies and TV shows. I’ve been compiling a playlist with a mix of pieces from soundtracks that stand out to me when I first hear them. I keep adding to and rearranging the songs, but I can still remember the scenes in which I heard them. Below is my writing playlist in its current form, let me know if you have any suggestions to add! Give Back: Random Acts of Flowers mission is two fold, to deliver flowers to patients, and to prevent waste by recycling elements of flower arrangements.  Consider donating funds, or volunteering at a local branch. Read:  If your a fan of spoken word poetry, read this comparison of Ann Sexton’s two performances of Music …

How NaPoWriMo Completely Reshaped My Blog

Last year I made the impulsive, last minute decision to participate in National Poetry Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo. For the uninitiated, NaPoWriMo is a month long project occurring each April in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day the entire month. Participants post a link to their website or blog to the NaPoWriMo website to show off their participation. Although I had made myself a resolution to restart my creative writing, at about this time in 2018 I had not made any moves to fulfill it. The turning point for me was stumbling on a fellow blogger’s post about NaPoWriMo. It gave me the structure I needed to get started,  accountability, and support. The daily prompts provided invaluable inspiration, I began to connect with other writers, and the daily writing habit I gained carried on long after the month was over. Ultimately it completely changed the focus of my blog from a hodgepodge of travel posts and photography to a writing blog that also catalogued my inspirations. I started with …

Searching for Springtime Scares

I like to align a lot of my writing with the seasons, since I take a lot of inspiration from nature. Spring is usually a challenge for me, as I prefer darker themes and imagery. How do you make sunshine and budding flowers scary? I might be able to take some tips from the upcoming slew of horror movies coming out this spring. First up is Jordan Peele’s Us. The film is centered around a family on a beach vacation, and are confronted by terrifying, murderous versions of themselves. Following later in April is the long anticipated Pet Cemetery remake, The Curse of La Llorona, and Brightburn. All four movies seem to feature warm weather, picturesque settings, and children. I can also take  literary inspiration from some classic short stories.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is centered around a sunny room. And of course, Shirely Jackson’s famously unsettling The Lottery, detailing the horrifying tradition of a small New England town each June. Strange Happenings This Week: Give Back: 826 National is an organization dedicated …

Shades of Grey

At the end of winter it can sometimes feel like spring is a fairytale instead of a season. We have the expectation that winter will immediately give away to warmer days but the reality is for many, spring is weeks of rain punctured by a few days of sun and flowers. Things have felt especially great for me lately. Whether it’s the actual rain clouds over my head, long days at work, deciding if I can still listen to Michael Jackson’s music or not after watching Leaving Netherland, or tracking down the missing clothes my laundry service misplaced, it feels like the sun is never going to come. But there is no need to lose hope just yet. The sun peeked out today from behind the clouds. I have plenty of musicians to admire. My laundry was found, and I have a five day weekend next week. Winter always ends. But if you need some extra greenery, consider any of the five films listed below. Some are longtime favorites of mine (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) …

Spring Training

When I was young and still attended church regularly, Lent was a big deal. I remember a priest referring to it as Spring Training for Catholics. I would get my forehead anointed on  Ash Wednesday with my Grandparents, and discuss at length with my sisters what to give up for the six weeks of sacrifice. Which is probably way I have continued to observe lent long after I ceased to become a regular church goer. Other than Christmas, the solemn period of Lent, and celebration of Easter is the only other Catholic tradition that holds a lot of positive associations. Although now it has become more a period of self reflection, where I cleanse  my house of clutter that can be donated, try to shop less, and of course think of something to give up. Give Back: As is the case with other natural disasters, the best way to help victims of last weekend’s deadly tornadoes is to donate to established charities, like the East Alabama Chapter of the Red Cross. Read: It has been …

Cautiously Optimistic

In North Carolina, this is usually the time of year where winter lets things warm up, and then smacks us with one more winter storm. So far, the February weather has been pretty mild. It’s been warm enough for flowers to start blooming, and it looks like they might make it to spring without withering under a final icy blast. I appreciate the starkness of winter, but by this time of year, I’m ready for long days and warm nights again. Give Back: The National Domestic Violence hotline https://www.thehotline.org/get-involved/ Read: Looking for a Valentine’s read? Skip the romance novels and enjoy Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman for free here, courtesy of The Poetry Foundation. See: Sunday, February 17- If your up early, you can catch Venus and Saturn align before dawn. Watch: If you haven’t caught the Netflix documentary Abducted in Plain Sight, it is a must watch. A stranger than fiction account of how an entire family fell victim to the grooming and manipulation of a dangerous predator, the film will leave you yelling at …

Winter Horrors

I love horror movies set in winter. In some of the best, the winter weather can act as a second antagonist, trapping the hero of the movie. In others, it offers up gorgeous cinematography to serve as a poetic back drop for the story to unfold in. Below are some of my favorites, I’d love to hear about yours. Misery The Thing The Shining 30 Days of Night Let the Right One In Give Back: If you are looking for a way to donate or volunteer during Black History Month, Give Lively has a list of top rated charities serving local communities to consider. Read: All of the movies mentioned above were originally books, with the exception of 30 Days of Night, which is a comic book series. See: Wednesday, February 6– Look low in the west-southwest sky about an hour after sunset and you’ll see a thin crescent moon smiling just above the horizon. Watch: February 9th- If your looking for some counter programming to the wave of romance themed TV and movies rolling …

The Sketchbook Project

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to begin submitting my poetry for publication again.  In addition to the traditional outlets, I’ve found some more offbeat ways to get my poetry out into the world. One of those is The Sketchbook Project, a massive community art project housed by the Brooklyn Art Library. The idea is, artists order a sketchbook, fill it with any form of art or writing they desire, register it online, and mail it back to the library. The curators will then keep the book on display, and scan a bar code anytime someone views it. This allows the artist to keep track of how many times their book is viewed. There is also the option to have a sketchbook scanned and posted in their digital library as well. So far I am still working out how I will fill mine, but it is a great way for me to utilize a lot of my horror poetry, as the amount of publications that accept speculative poetry appear to be very limited. I …