Today is my birthday and it is one of the best ones I can remember.
There are many reasons why:
I am away from home.
I am near the ocean.
I am eating delicious vegan meals in warm and well decorated cafes.
Loved the decor of this vegan cafe!
Pumpkin Curry Bisque
And I tried something new.
I threw axes this afternoon! After watching Christine Baranski throw them on an episode of “The Good Fight”, I had to try it. I mentioned it a couple of times months ago but never thought much about it. Whey Hubby said he had a surprise for my birthday and it’s something I want to try, I racked my brain but came up with nothing.
I eventually guessed about a week ago and by that time, he already made the reservations. When we pulled up today, I was excited. Even if I didn’t hit the board, I knew it wouldn’t matter. The point was to ring in 39 not only with workouts, reading, eating and water but to usher it in with a Kristina who wouldn’t be too scared to wield an axe or anything else I never pictured for myself.
By the way, I not only ended up hitting the board but a couple of times, I hit the bullseye.
Happy Birthday to me.
This past weekend, I attended the 2019 James River Writers Conference. I walked in this year feeling different. I didn’t care I didn’t have a book to pitch and all I wanted was to hear about was quality writing in all of the many forms it takes. I took some notes but I realized what I needed was to be around other writers.
I needed to catch up and laugh with some of my friends.
I needed to be reminded to set aside time for myself each week to put pen to paper and let this particular truth deliver a gut punch: I shouldn’t be devoting more time to my blog than to all my other writing.
Which is exactly what I have been doing for several months now.
Every novelist, screenwriter, memoirist, short story writer, journalist, poet and agent reminded me that there was story still beating inside of me.
The keynote speaker, the incomparable Marita Golden, emboldened us to celebrate ourselves as writers even if we are not published or under contract. This wise woman had me at the edge of my seat telling us how she had been birthed twice. Once on the day of her actual birth and again when her mother told her she was a writer. I also was blessed to hear her on the panel discussing memoir.
Marita shared that sometimes you need to write the memoir to free yourself to write fiction. The vulnerability in memoir panel impacted me emotionally the most. I love how they brought three writers with wildly different tales to share their points of view. I wish I could take classes regularly from Marita Golden (Migrations of the Heart), Mary Bonina (My Father’s Eyes) and Jon Pineda (Sleep in Me).
A special note about this year’s conference: It was beautiful to see the level of cultural diversity this year. James River Writers Conference has come light years in this respect, especially since my first year as an attendee in 2016. Thanks to the chair, Robin Farmer and co-chair Sonia Johnston for not only creating a conference that ignited my fire to devote more time to my craft but for creating an experience where I had the distinct pleasure of seeing faces that reflected the real world around us.
Last Thursday I went to a book launch for “Traveling the River” a moving book of poetry by my good (and wildly talented friend) Hope Whitby.
After congratulating her and taking pictures as if I was a proud mama, I took my seat and waited for the reading portion of the evening to begin.
A word kept coming to mind as I waited and persisted as Hope told stories of what inspired certain pieces and as she read her work to us. A word kept coming to mind as I took in the beauty of the Japanese artwork around me. A word kept coming to mind as I watched her supporters fill the seats, ready to toast her with cake and champagne.
I have spent many evenings in writing classes with her, around a table in reserved library spaces and cafes listening to her stories and poems and sharing literary dreams. She gave me my first book about haikus and was one of the first people to buy my E-book last year. When I heard she was asked to write this book, the first book by Valley Haggard’s Life in 10 Minutes press, it came as no shock at all. It felt right. It felt as if my friend’s time has come.
When your friend or family’s time has come, you stop and celebrate. You plunk down your money and buy. You gift it.
Today is my birthday and I spent it doing some of my favorite things plus taking a brief look back. I walked around with Hubby, spent ample time in a bookstore and ate delicious food. My brief look back was because I did it at my college Alma mater.
I hadn’t been in 12 years. It was surreal to drive by old dorms and regale Jeff with stories of a time gone by. It was strange to see everything new and comforting to see how some things never change. I almost wanted all of my friends to be here with me so we could laugh at all the same memories.
But the loveliest part was it felt like I was properly introducing an old segment of my life, of me to my husband. A place where I started to grow into the woman he married.
Of all of the places we could have chosen to celebrate this new year, I am glad we chose this one.
It warms my whole heart to look into the past without being stuck there.