Sketches of Ancestors

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Last week I was up against the clock. I hadn’t a thing to contribute to the genealogy writers group that I attend at our local library. Our meeting was impending and I felt pressure to be an active participating member by reading my writing.

In the wee hours of the morning, I suddenly awoke with a glimmer of a thought. As I lay in bed tossing and turning, mental images of my maternal grandfather were brought together as I recalled what my mom had told me through her storytelling. Finally at 2:30 in the morning I got up and began to put words to the depiction I had created in my mind of my deceased grandfather.

As I wrote I sipped a cup of chamomile tea, hoping that once I had put my thoughts to rest on a piece of paper, the tea would relax me and help me fall back asleep. No such luck.

I was so content with the picture I had painted with words of my maternal grandfather, the rest of the night I lay awake pondering it.

My maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother both passed away when I was very young. Their presence is not in my childhood memories of thanksgiving tables my family and I have shared together. However through the tales of my mother, I can bring her parents alive through my writing.

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Writing about the legacy and values of a family is never time wasted. It becomes part of our heritage.

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A Classic Way of Life

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promoting-empathy-and-a-sense-of-community-4-638People are beginning to understand that wealth is not all about money. Real wealth means having good neighbors, living in a close-knit community, finding jobs whose real value is in the personal fulfillment it brings to us.

There is a new community in Devens, Massachusetts, called Emerson Green, whose goal is for it’s residents to “Come home to a connected, community-focused neighborhood that hearkens back to a simpler era – and looks ahead to a sustainable future, aimed at having it’s residents return to a classic way of life and a tight-knit community.” Something to really write “home” about if you are successful in finding such a place in this transient society.

Union Studios, national award-winning architects and co-developers for the project along with NOW Communities have designed the Emerson Green Project with the “right size” in mind. In other words, sustainable living. It has reused a plot of land  on the outskirts of Boston which used to be a military base. The homes, which have several different floor plan options, are as suitable for first-time home owners, families, professionals and empty-nesters alike.

Once the project is finished and people are well-established in their new community it would be fun to see if Emerson Green has met it’s the objectives of  providing a satisfying way of life which by design encourages social interaction. With our emigrating society, this is something more and more people are looking for because studies point to “social interaction” as a contributor to good health and longer living.

P.S. Having good resources such as an outstanding library helps to build great community. If you visit Union Studios website, take a few minutes to peruse information on the newly completed Tiverton Library project as well as other civic and residential projects the architectural firm has been involved with.

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

Flaws in Character and Writing

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Two weeks ago Charles Shields, author of 20 histories and biographies for young adults came to the Bud Werner Memorial Library to talk about his knowledge of Harper Lee and her two publications, To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman.

Shields publications Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee and I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee reveal a multitude of little known facts about Lee’s childhood life prior to becoming an author.

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  • She left law school and moved to New York City to become an author. However, her dreams of becoming a full-time writer were delayed because she needed to find a way to pay her expenses, so she became an airline reservationist for a period of about eight or ten years.
  • A neighbor and playmate was Truman Capote, author of In Cold Blood
  • She and Capote hauled a 12 pound Underwood typewriter up to their tree house where they’d sit for hours and write and discuss ideas for stories.
  • Upon her fathers death, Harper Lee inherited her father’s watch, which she in turn gave to Gregory Peck who played her father (Atticus) in the 1962 movie To Kill A Mockingbird.

In his book talk, Shield’s certainly provided the audience with a wealth of information about the author and her two books. To sum it up, Shields says that “Mockingbird” asks the reader for compassion, while “Watchman” asks the reader for forgiveness. I agree with this statement. It helped me to  lay aside my own profound sadness for Scout when she finds out at the end of “Watchman” her father was not the man she thought he was.

During the Q & A session one of the audience members mentioned that she was bothered by the fact that “Watchman” was released in it the same form the original manuscript was written. I personally appreciated that the publication was released “unpolished.” I hope the lady in the audience can forgive and understand perhaps why “Watchman” was released without copy editing. I believe the “raw state” of the publication adds to the historical value to the writing from a Pulitzer-prize American author whose work has certainly held up to the test of time.

Tonight I look forward to the community discussion to wrap up the One Book Steamboat series, which has received attention from the National Library Association newsletter.

Thanks once again to Bud Werner Memorial Library for a fulfilling opportunity to learn all we can about one of America’s most beloved authors.

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

Hey Boo: Best Movie Words

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Life was always waiting for the right moment to act.” ~ Paul Coelho

No one ever expected Harper Lee to publish another book. The writer’s destiny seemed to be an author of a sole publication that has sold over 5 million copies. She surprised the literary world when it was announced that a second novel was in the pipeline for publication. Fifty years after To Kill a Mockingbird was published Go Set a Watchman was released. If you haven’t read either publications, as far as I am concerned you are missing out on very important American literature. I believe “Watchman” will also become known as an American classic in coming years.

harperlee_flatLast week I attended the second in a series of community events at the Bud Werner Memorial Library geared around Lee’s publication Go Set a Watchman. The screening of the  documentary film Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman (previously titled Harper Lee:Hey Boo) was at the center of the evening. In the film, interviews of famous people in the literary and media world talk about what the classic To Kill a Mockingbird has meant to Americans who love this book.

marymurphy_creditchriscarroll_m8398After the screening, the filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy Skyped in to take questions from the audience at the library. I had the opportunity to ask my question. “As a filmmaker what did you learn from Harper Lee about storytelling through the production of this documentary?” Her answer included remarks that to tell the story well, it was a juggling challenge.  She had to go back and revise and edit the film to include information about the 2015 release of “Watchman” by Harper Collins. She also mentioned that more revisions to her 2015 documentary will be necessary as the full impact of “Watchman” on the literary world is made known in coming years. For more information on Murphy’s film which has also been aired on PBS, visit the filmmaker’s website.

Thursday evening, October 15, 2015 is the third event for One Book Steamboat. Charles Shields, Harper Lee’s biographer will be at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in person. He was one of the first persons to be aware of Lee’s manuscript for “Watchman” that had been locked up in a safe deposit box for decades. I look forward to his presentation.

I have never been so immersed in the full study of an author before and it has been an extremely fulfilling experience. Thanks to Jennie Lay at Bud Werner Memorial Library for programming all the surrounding events of One Book Steamboat for this community.

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

Thou Art Grateful

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Happy National Arts and Humanities Month! I believe that my life is enriched in great measure by the opportunities that I have to incorporate the arts and humanities into my lifestyle. As a blog writer for All Things Fulfilling, which focuses on arts and the humanities, I take great pleasuring in sharing information with like-minded people. Let me count just a few other activities and events related to art, culture and religion that also bring me personal fulfillment:

  • Volunteering at Strings Music Festival
  • Visiting museums
  • Worshiping in a supportive spiritual environment
  • Incorporating local artisans work to my into my home environment
  • Attending the writers groups and workshops
  • Having a wonderful community library where there is ALWAYS something of interest happening.
  • Participating in community “Art Walks” to see local artists work
  • We Write Steamboat –  networking with other independent publishers to foster success
  • Book talks and presentations
  • Taking advantage of educational opportunity to obtain more knowledge about the literary arts and other art mediums.

I am a proponent of Americans for the Arts. Involvement at the local level is a great way to show how you, too, enjoy cultural events that are available. Our world would be very different without music, art, museums, libraries, places of worship, concert halls.

Get involved and learn how art  enhances life!

The more we learn and grow and evolve as individuals, the more we will find happiness and satisfaction in relationships, work and life.”
Kristi Bowman

Links to Past, Present and Future

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My first duty is to write a gripping yarn. Second is to convey credible characters who make you feel what they feel. Only third comes the idea. ~ David Brin

Did you read Friday’s post on All Things Fulfilling about stitching yarns together? Today we are going to continue the conversation from a slightly different angle.

In my first publication, the award-winning memoir called Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, I wrote a first hand account of my memories.The facts were all there as best as I could remember from my childhood.

For years I have been told some interesting stories about a character of interest on my mother’s side of the family tree that I did not write about previously.  The tales could be full of baloney because they are a bit sketchy. I need to determine if they are fact or fiction.

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In order to find out the truth of the matter I recently joined in with a genealogy group at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colorado to see if I can stitch together the vague pieces of information that I have been given my mother. If there is some truth to the matter, this figure from my heritage could prove to be a fascinating fellow.

Great resources are available at my finger tips! The Bud Werner Memorial Library (BWML) is an affiliate of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Some people find great fascination in tracing their family back many generations, I am not sure if I am up for the task. “But how will I know whether I’ll find that kind of research fulfilling or not if I don’t begin somewhere?” I ask myself.

I’ll keep you posted….

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

Community-Wide Reading

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Communication leads to community that is, to understanding….. mutual valuing.” – Rollo May

If this is your first visit to All Things Fulfilling, Welcome!

The heartbeat of this blog space is about the arts and humanities.   Many blog postings are literary in nature – about books, independent publishing, writing and other culturally fulfilling things that enrich our lives. Take a few minutes to browse the list of categories on the right-hand side of the page.

Fortunately, I am living in a place where literacy is well-supported. The pulse of the arts can be felt though community-wide offerings and events sponsored by the Bud Werner Memorial Library, the Steamboat Arts Council and at Colorado Mountain College. There is always something of interest happening in  town. It is easy to design a fulfilling life when your interests align with the community where you reside.

Last Wednesday night I attended the first in a series of events that revolve around one very special book that was recently published. It is being talked about by many people in many communities. Tomorrow the focus will be on “One Book Steamboat.” Do return!IMG_20150917_071739_991

This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her publications.