Wear Red Tomorrow

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“Red is the first color of spring. It’s the real color of rebirth. Of beginning.” ~ Annie Condie

Are you planning on wearing red tomorrow? The American Heart Association has declared February 5th National Wear Red Day. This day is dedicated to raising awareness that “heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 women, yet 80% of it is preventable.”

On the Go Red for Women website there are educational articles and resources to educate the public about the importance of children and fitness, and factors which increase chances of heart disease such as high blood pressure, smoking, inactivity and high cholesterol. The useful and free information is there for each and every one of us.

As Conway Twitty once said “listen to advice, but follow your heart.” Always listen to your body, and if it is telling you something is not right, don’t wait – go see a doctor. It could be the difference between death or life.

You can help the fight against heart disease by posting #GoRed on your Facebook page or through other social media.  Remember to #gored tomorrow, donate to the cause or fill a shopping cart at the GoRed on-line store.

Thanks for listening and tomorrow is a good a day as any to begin improving your heart health.

My award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected speaks to this issue which is close to my heart.

 

Unfinished Business for MLK

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“You will never say goodbye to the past, until you understand why the flashbacks haunt you.”Shannon L. Alder

Today on All Things Fulfilling, we’ll celebrate the birthday of one of the most influential civil rights activists of all time, Martin Luther King. His work to erase racial segregation and racial equality for all was tireless. Sadly, his unfinished business in Memphis is still a work in progress in our country.

We’ll take a trip through images to Memphis, Tennessee situated along the Mississippi River. The city’s cultural roots run deep and it’s known for his rich music heritage. Beale Street abounds with eateries of it’s famous barbeque and sounds of rhythm and blues, gospel, jazz. It’s also known as the birthplace of rock and roll.

The Orpheum Theatre is historically significant and today it plays an important role in educating children. Their belief is that “when kids find art, they find themselves.” Many celebrities have performed in this theatre whose beginnings date back to 1890, when it was then known as the Grand Opera House. In 1907 it was renamed at The Orpheum.

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Beale Street signed

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BB King books signed

miss pollys neon sign signed

blues cafe signed

 

girl sitting on window sill signed

Tragically, Martin Luther King’s life ended on April 4, 1969 in Memphis, Tennessee during a time of racial tension and upheaval. It was a period of unrest in my own life also. I write about this time in Chapter 21 Someone to Watch Over Her in my memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Bringing Cheer over the Holidays

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Let’s state something up front! There is no perfect life. There just isn’t. Postings on social media might lead us to believe otherwise but, remember, we are often only seeing the good parts. During the holidays people ramp up their efforts to create images of having perfect lives and Christmases.

Everyone has struggles and things to overcome in life. But as they say, what you do with those challenges is what counts. That is why it’s important that for those who have inspirational stories to tell and feel they could write a book about it, to do so. The reason I penned a memoir in the first place was to help others who struggle with health issues understand that our attitudes profoundly affect our well-being.

I’m very proud to say that this past Christmas, thanks to the Mickey Barrows Memorial Endowed Fund which “benefits children who are confined to the hospital during the holidays,” copies of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected found their way to families through the Childrens Colorado Foundation in the Denver area. The hope for the initiative is that the book brought some smiles and cheer to faces and encouragement to teen cardiac patients who were hospitalized during the holidays. The book has won the Harvest Book Award in the young adult category and two EVVY awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

So, for anyone who is considering writing a narrative that will bring light and love to others, here is my message: Help others to know you are never alone.

Your story matters!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul and the EVVY award-winning anthology Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

See you back here on Monday!

 

 

Out of This World Art Launch

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Happy New Year, Everybody!! Today I will be sharing some very exciting news about two artists whose work I am proud to say fulfills me every day because many of their published art prints hang on the walls of my living space…

Last week as I read the blog My Life with the Masters, I thought “Jumpin’ Jupiter! This news is out of this world!”  American artists Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik have made history and literally brought science and art together when their paintings were launched into space and are now rotating the Earth at phenomenal speed.

According to the article written by Kristen Thies, “This art/science journey initially began when James Nadir, a Silicon Valley engineer who retired from Intel invited Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik to create 1.25” x 1.25” paintings to be placed into a small space capsule aboard the International Space Station.”  To read the full article, please visit My Life with the Masters.

If you are not familiar with these artists, Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik, learn more through their bios. I came to know this husband and wife team of master artists back in 1998 through the beginnings of an independent publishing venture, Stove Prairie Press, LLC. Much of my knowledge about the industry can be attributed to these pioneering artists whose work has reached new heights in this New Year! Congratulations, Richard & Nancy!!

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This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

See you back here on All Things Fulfilling on Monday, January 4th!

 

 

The Afterglow of Success

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Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi

The last of a three part blog about author/playright Jorge Avila will be featured on All Things Fulfilling today. Before Christmas I interviewed Avila about his newfound sucess as a playright. To read the beginning of the interview, please go to from Local Author to Playright and Advancing the Story.

Sue: So what does it feel like now that you have stepped away from all the excitement of seeing your musical played out on stage?

Jorge: There is a little bit of sadness and a let down because it is easy to get carried  away with all that goes with on in the world of L.A.  But we aren’t done yet. My vision for this musical is even more than that.  I have been offered a huge opportunity at the end of September and the first two weeks in October. The production will return to California as part of at the Hispanic Heritage Festival. For four weeks, in four different districts, I am told that 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 people will attend the festival annually. Do you believe that?

Sue: And I understand you received special recognition during the three day run of the musical. What night was that?

Jorge: On the  middle night of the performance, I and the director and musical composer, Caleb Encampos, were each given certificates of award from the City of Los Angeles for work in advancing the arts. It was very exciting.

Avilas certificate from City of LA

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Sue: What can you attribute to the success that you have had with Maricopa Men in Pink?

Jorge: It was a long five years but I never stopped believing that I had a quality product and it was a matter of getting it into the right venue or environment.

Sue: What’s on the docket for the future? 

Jorge: I have two more musicals I am working on and a book but, I would like to do something more with the local high school here in Steamboat. They did a Powerpoint presentation about my book’s storyline with the English as a Second Language (ESL) students. I’d like to put together some sort of workshop. We will see, I’ll have to put more thought into that. And I’d like to take the musical to Chicago. That’s where I’d  really like to see it.

Sue: You have been in a whirlwind for six months or more. Perhaps with a little time off, your visions will become more clear. Now that you have stepped away into a quieter environment, here in Steamboat, you can ponder it.

Before Jorge and I said our goodbyes  I told him how he is a shining example for other independent publishers to press on and not to give up. Although he mentioned feeling a little let down now that things were over, I saw a huge afterglow of success on his face and in his exuberant voice.

Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow when we begin the countdown till the New Year! We will be fulfilling 2016 with new possibilities and opportunity!

As Far Away as Ever

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“Distance lends enchantment to the view.” ~ Mark Twain

Welcome back to All Things Fulfilling! I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas. Soon it will be time to ring out the old and bring in the new year.

Our family celebrated Christmas southwest style in New Mexico. It included tamales, visiting the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History (the pop-culture display was my favorite!) and the luminara festival on Christmas Eve in Old Town Albuquerque. We even experienced  a bit of our son’s world over the three day vacation by taking in a movie (Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens – what else?).

Now we have re-entered our own atmosphere of the frozen tundra of the Centennial State. While we were away we escaped the -29 degree temps which hit northwest Colorado the night after Christmas. Last night I was back in my own cozy bed and it was also a little balmier outside at -14 degrees farenheit. I still had visions of the Land of Enchantment in my head.

Below: Finally a reunion with our son, Marc. It had been a long 10 months and how I have missed seeing him!

Marc & me xmas 2015 at his place

Albq Luminarias Christmas eve resizedAbove photo: Hundreds of thousands of luminaras bedazzled Old Town Albuquerque on Christmas Eve.

The display far exceeded my expections and this one house alone had over 1200 lanterns multi-tiered all over the property. Blocks and blocks of neighborhoods were lit. We walked and walked taking in the festive atmosphere and listening to the carolers in the gazebo in Old Town Albuquerque.

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Above: The San Felipe de Neri Church, photo by Charles Mann. There were so many people it was

difficult to photograph it myself.

hot air ballons xmas eve Albuq.

Above: Hot air balloons on Christmas Eve all lit up. Photo credit: Terry Leonard

meghans family and ours

 Following the traditions of the Womack family, we celebrated new friends and Christmas Day with the pop of Christmas crackers, an English tradition.

marc and meghan xmas 2015

 As my grandmother used to say the moment the last Christmas gift was opened, “Well, Christmas is as far away as ever!”

Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow. We will be finishing up the three part interview with playright Jorge Avila. Click here to read Part I and Part II.

On Wednesday, I’ll be sharing a few images from the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History .

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Christmas: Outside Looking In

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I believe your atmosphere and your surroundings create a mind state for you. ~ Theophilus London

f9ccaa0aad84c2adde61047a62449dc8I don’t like to be a slave to my living environment, but I do take a little time to try to create a place where I like to hang out.  Just a few low cost/no cost seasonally appropriate decorations make a difference. It helps me appreciate a season or holiday. I do it for myself and after it’s done, I’m glad I took the extra effort.

Psychologists say our attitudes are affected by our environment. So, no matter where you are living, even if it is in what you might consider to less than ideal, take the time to add a little sprig of holly or a pine bough or a cinnamon scented candle or put a light in the window during this holiday season. Thrift stores are often a great place to pick up embellishments for nearly next to nothing.

Last week in the dark of the evening I upped my spirits when I strolled historic downtown Main Street Steamboat with a friend and took in the window dressing. The fresh fallen snow added to the magic! Here are some images. All but a few were taken from the outside looking in.

Below: Fringe (a new store in town). I liked it very much!

Do stop in and check it out!

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Below: F.M Light & Sons (THE place for cowboy boots!)

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Below: Kali’s Boutique (a place to get distinctive apparel)

xmas walk - consignment place

Below: Steamboat Art Company (this display was like fairytale land). I expected to see little gnomes or elves or sprites peaking out from between the pastel colored foliage!

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Below: Allen’s Clothing (There, hospitality included great treats!)

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Below: Steamboat Art Company (as usual, their window displays are as lovely as their in store wares). I always get caught up in this store – so much to look at.

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Below: Steamboat Art Company

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Below: F.M. Light and Sons (Outfittin’ the West Since 1905)

Check out their blog – A Cowboy’s Christmas Recollections

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Below: F.M. Light & Sons

Xmas walk - not sure

Below: Chrysalis Steamboat (surprisingly affordable and stylish). 

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A Fulfilling evening experience from Winter Wonderland in Steamboat Springs, CO

Xmas courthouse

“Paper state” last week we received 44 inches of new snow and we have already  surpassed 115 inches for the season! See for yourself. Much, much more has come over the past few days.

Thanks to those who gave me permission to take photos inside their retail establishments!

Come on back tomorrow to All Things Fulfilling. Then I’ll be taking a break until after Christmas.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Advancing the Story

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We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom.Marni Gillard

Avila and wife MaribelLast week I sat down with author and playright Jorge Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat, to discuss the gigantic leap of success that he has just experienced. To read a short summary of his musical, please go to the blog from last Thursday.

(Photo left: Jorge Avila and his wife Maribel)

Jorge had just returned a week previously to his hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado from a very busy six months in California. His live theatre musical, adapted from his book Maricopa Men in Pink had a three day run at the Plaza de la Raza, Cultural Center for the Arts & Education on Mission Road in Los Angeles. Avila was ebullient as he answered the questions I had for him to learn more about his experience. Here is part of our discussion about going from local author to playright in a very short few years:

Sue: Jorge, when was Maricopa Men in Pink published? 

Jorge: In 2010 it was published. A short time afterward I sent it off to a friend who is a stage designer in L.A. to get his opinion. He reviewed it and gave me some feedback about adapting it for a play. I decided that my vision for the work was a live theatre musical production. So I rewrote it exactly 2 years, nine months ago in script format along with song lyrics. Caleb Encompos, a resident who helps with the music program at the Christian Center here in Steamboat, composed the music to accompany the lyrics. I approached the Chief Theatre here in town, but it didn’t seem to be the right venue. So,then we sent it off to three production companies in California. 

Sue:  So, what was the response? 

Jorge: I’d like to say that there have been few  Latino or controversial political musicals that I am aware of other than In the Heights and Hamilton and the Book of Mormon. So I was happy to even get a response and it was positive response from two of them. I chose one of the production companies that I felt best understood my vision. I was offered a small sum of money from the production company, but I took half of that because I wanted to be directly involved in the entire process, so that the final product would be what I envisioned.

So, I began over the next six months going to L.A. one week out of every month. For the next six months, Caleb Encompos and I chose vocalists and actors for the live musical production. Once we heard my lyrics put to music and saw it performed by the actors we had chosen, there were some tweeks that were made before the opening.

Sue: So, tell me about the three night run.

Jorge: The turnout was outstanding compared to what I had anticipated. I was told for an unknown author/playright, typical sales would be 60% of the seats. The first and third nights we had 95% of all tickets sold, and the middle evening 75%. Surprising, considering I read in a New York Times article that out of 318 million Americans, 58 million agreed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s handling of inmates in Tent City Jail in Arizona. Seventy eight million disagreed, and the whole rest of the population knew nothing about the news story.

Sue: How did that feel? To see your musical come before live audience like that?

Jorge: Surreal! I feel flattered and proud but it was very stressful. I even started up a bad habit – smoking. I hadn’t smoked in six years and I ate too much and gained a little weight.

The musical was even mentioned on National TV on Spanish stations. While we were waiting for the production to begin on opening night, I stepped outside and there were 120 people in line to get a ticket – to my show! I couldn’t believe it and I counted every one of them!

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The rest of this interview on All Things Fulfilling will be posted the week after Christmas. Do return because we will be talking about Avila’s rewards in terms of personal fulfillment which were a result of his determination, persistance and his belief that what he had was fitting for a quality live musical production that still has great potential for future audiences. We will be sharing more about his special award from the City of Los Angeles also!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

Local Writer to Playright

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A culture is made –or destroyed –by it’s articulate voices. ~ Ayn Rand

Jorge Avila, a Mexican by birth, moved to the United States in 1995. Since then he has become an author of two books Suriana and the Sulphur Cave and Maricopa Men in Pink. The later is a controversial story about prisoners in Arizona and “Sheriff Joe” known in the media as “the toughest sheriff” around. He sentenced two thousand convicts to serve their sentences in pink underwear and handcuffs for better accountability. The macho men probably could not have been more insulted!

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Christmas came early to Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat our independent publishing network group, when his first publication Maricopa Men in Pink was  adapted as a musical and came to live theatre in Los Angeles. It had an extremely successful run with nearly booked houses each evening.

Stay tuned to All Things Fulfilling on Monday because we will be featuring an interview with him about what it has been like to go from local writer to a playwright within a very short few years. Avila was recently recognized as a person who has helped advance the arts in the LA area.

This blog is brought to you by author Sue Batton Leonard.

Bringing Community Together

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bookclubWhat brings community together? Just ask the South Routt County Book Club and they will say “BOOKS!”

I  became familiar with this group of readers when I met one of it’s members at the Bud Werner Memorial Library Genealogy Club. Here is what Vanessa has to say about bringing individuals together through reading~

“The backgrounds of our participants is so varied and interesting.  There are ranch wives who have lived here for generations, several who have lived all over the world, who worked for the CIA in Paris, another has lived in South Korea, Netherlands, Argentina etc. following her husband’s work.  Many are retired, or are active in community non-profits, and they range from librarians to a psychologist to women who have never worked outside the home. Those who do work include a hair stylist who participated with her 16 year old daughter, a substitute teacher, and our current library manager. 

Our age range as stated has been between 16 and 80 something!  Our youngest started with her Mom and is now a senior in college.  We manage somehow to include all age ranges in our choices.  Book themes can be universal and appeal to every age.

We have been going since 2008 when we started with 6 members and now have twenty.  I remember holding my youngest grandaughter who was 3 weeks old at one meeting as I was babysitting for my son and daughter-in-law.

We select themes and book titles at our Jan. meeting and meet every other month with 3 selections on the current theme.  Some themes have been: War, Second Chances, Life’s Situations, Classics, Famous People, Hemingway, Memoirs, etc.  Everyone goes around and throws out titles and then we group them into a theme and try to have a contrast.

Our meeting places vary among our members.  Some for whatever reason will host at one of our libraries, however, most are at private homes.  We have a social period and food before we discuss the current books-many times the theme or books themselves will suggest the menu. We incorporate movies, pictures, and other items at our meetings. One memorable one was when we read Wild by (forget the author’s name!) and a member who had walked the Appalachian Trail shared that experience with us.

  The small (and I mean small) towns in the south part of Routt County are financially depressed yet surrounded by million dollar mansions and a small rural community around Stagecoach Lake.  The older residents are hardy, conservative, and clannish but community spirited with colorful people.There is also a large group who have moved here for the wonderful ski town atmosphere and for second homes and tend to be more liberal and richer.  Makes for an interesting clash of values though all seem to come together when needed.”

Thank you Vanessa for sharing this wealth of information about your book club and how it has brought a diverse group of people with varied interests and backgrounds together!

If you have never been a member of a book club before, put it on your list of things to do in the New Year!

This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.