Welcome, Heart-Filled Month

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Did you know yesterday was Inspire Your Heart with Art Day? Being the independent spirit that I am, I’ll celebrate it today instead. It’s a good kick-off to this heart-filled month of February.

I am inspired by artists, working in any medium, who have the DNA to toil unrelentlessly to succeed. After all, art is not just living by one’s one creativity. From my observations, the most successful artists might sum up their lives this way:

Valentines-Day-Hearts- with sues artist quote corrected #2

 

Whew! Those are some tall work boots to fill! If you are considering an art career and this statement fuels your fire, I’d say you are in it for all the right reasons! To shed realistic light on the subject -as in any career, there will be both adversity and distraction but it is all part of the fulfilling equation.

If you are in any part of the writing or publishing process, you might enjoy this blog from BookBaby.com about not letting excuses and distractions get the best of you!

That’s more than enough philosophical ponderings for today! See you tomorrow on AllThingsFulfilling.com.

Click  here for information on EVVY award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard’s publications.

 

 

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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.

albuquerque gazebo

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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.

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!

Avia7

Avila5

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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.

 

 

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.

A New Musical: Allegiance

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Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved and differences resolved. ~ Bernard Beckett

allegianceHave you heard about the  American story now being played out on Broadway? Allegiance is a real and important tale of the Kimura family who came to America after World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Similar tales of family bonds, duty and defiance, hope, loyalty and the power of the human spirit could be told by 120,000 other Japanese-American families who fled their country in search of a new tomorrow in the United States of America.

George Takei and Tony® winner Lea Salonga star in this live theatre production. To read more about this live musical production, visit the website.

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling.

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

A Tapestry of Beliefs

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advent calendarOur journey has begun into the Advent season. People have different expectations about the days leading up to Christmas depending on a person’s upbringing. As a society, we have become so touchy, afraid to stand up to our own values for fear of offending others politically and spiritually when it comes to the holidays.

I believe we all come to our understandings about faith or not in different ways. In the New Year, a movie called Tapestry staring Stephen Baldwin and Burt Young is due to be released. It is one man’s story of his spiritual journey.

Although I have yet to see the movie that is now being filmed in New York City, I wonder if this film is a reflection of Baldwin’s own tale of enlightenment or discovery. He has said this about his role in the film, “After 25 years in the film business, the projects I choose now must motivate me on a creative level that inspires and elevates my sense of art and spirit.”

tapestry the movie

If you are inclined to question and seek to form your own beliefs about a higher being or the creative or spiritual world, keep your eye on this film release in 2016.

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

 

 

Tree Decorating Lifts Spirits

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This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in. ~  Theodore Roosevelt

Last Thursday evening I had an unexpected request from Lift Up, an inter-faith thrift store and food bank where I volunteer twice weekly. I was asked if I would help decorate for the annual “Festival of Trees” at the Tred of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs, CO. I and three other volunteers, who I rarely come in contact with each other, because of our differing schedules and duties, had a great time together!

Our tree was sponsored by the Community Food Bank at Lift Up. Ninety or ninety-five percent of the “food-themed” decorations that went on the tree were donated to the thrift store or came from recycled materials. Georgi, a very creative and energetic person had used her skills to make some of the ornamental food from plastic bags and “Mod Podge,” a crafting material. She also made the tree topper – a red chef’s hat. The tree turned out beautiful. Here are a few pictures.

Below: Georgi is here in Steamboat for a one year stint with the Colorado Episcopal Service Corps. She would make a great full-time resident of this community.  She has yet to experience a “three wire winter”  since she just arrived in town a few months ago from Pennsylvania.  (That’s what locals call winters when snow so deep it reaches the third wire on fences (in other words, it exceeds your armpits!). And it happens frequently.

Georgi

Below: A few full-time employees of Lift Up

Lynn food bank mgr

Angela case worker

Below: Four representatives for all the dedicated people who make Lift-Up the

wonderful non-profit organization that it is.

Hundreds and hundreds of volunteer service hours are donated

annually.

Lift up volunteers

LU tree with topper

As Christmas grows nearer, I will share more pictures of the beautiful Festival of Trees from the Tred of Pioneers Museum on All Things Fulfilling. They were all delightfully decorated.

I was fully thrust into the festive spirit and it continued the next day as I helped the United Methodist Women prepare for the Fall Harvest Fair. We wrapped and priced all the baked goods, jellies, jams.

Come back tomorrow to see what that shopping experience looks like. Hundreds of people come through the open doors at the United Methodist Church every year to shop for the holidays and fill their empty stomachs at lunchtime with homemade soup and bread.

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