A2Z Wrap-Up

I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has joined me throughout April for these Inspiring posts. Your comments have enriched my life and often given me moments of pause and consideration. If you missed any of my posts or just want to read them again, they can be found HERE

I have enjoyed making rounds and have visited some amazing blogs this month. For those I have not visited yet, I will still try to get around to all of you during the upcoming Road Trip.

In case you are curious, here are some other People Who Inspire Me that didn’t make the cut for the A2Z this year, mainly because there were others more important. These are also important, but not nearly as much as those I posted about. I had considered doubling up a few of these, but eventually decided against it. These are not in any particular order:

  1. Richard Gere
  2. Gertrude Stein
  3. Kim Stanley Robinson
  4. Orson Scott Card
  5. Linkin Park
  6. Neil Diamond
  7. k.d. lang
  8. Pema Chodron
  9. Neil Gaiman
  10. Audrey Hepburn
  11. John Lennon
  12. Mary Oliver
  13. Michelle Obama
  14. Ernest Hemingway
  15. Oscar Wilde

There are many, many others. Way too many to mention. As my list continues to grow, perhaps I will do inspiring people again next year for the A2Z. Thank you all again for joining me.

Love & Blessings


#atozchallenge – Billy Zane Inspires Me


zane_bztchThere are a lot of actors who inspire me (Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Eric Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden and Ingrid Bergman, just to name a few), but there is one actor who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his versatile and often dramatic acting and that is Billy Zane. Not only is he easy on the eyes (omg, but he is!), but he can step into any role, be it a villain, a romantic lead or a classical character. He usually plays over the top roles and adds his own dramatic flare to them. The first time I laid eyes on him was in the Back to the Future movies. I was spell-bound! Who was this gorgeous man and would he marry me? *laughs* And then I started seeing him not so much from his physical appearance and began paying attention to his acting style. I was blown away by his role in Dead Calm, as Hughie Warriner . Although he played a crazed psycho, I kept thinking to myself if I were to ever be kidnapped, I would want it to be by him (Zane and Warriner!). The next role that I saw him in was in Titanic. While most people’s eyes were on Leonardo DiCaprio, mine were on Billy Zane. His role as Cal Hockley was devious and so well done. He really does have the villain down to a science. I’ve seen in him in dozens of movies and television shows (remember him in Twin Peaks? awesome!) but the one television role that I enjoyed the most was as Drake, the ex-demon, on Charmed. What fun it must have been to play that role. If you haven’t seen him in it, he played a teacher at the magic school and had quite the dramatic flare, reading poetry and acting like a classic Shakespearean actor. Brilliant!

And because you can never get too much of Billy Zane….

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So what is it about this great actor that inspires me so much? His versatility, his charm, and his ability to get into a psychological mindset to play the roles he has. Any time I write a villain, you can bet there are Zane qualities in there.

Here are a few quotes of his:

And a few videos:

You may want to turn the volume down on this one. The background music is insanely loud:

And keep it down for this one too:

Interesting Facts: Billy Zane is of Greek descent and his family name is actually Zanetakos, but his father anglicized it to Zane when they came to the US. In November 2010, he was awarded an honorary degree from Lium University, Bellinzona, Switzerland, for his contribution to cinematography. He is the chairman of the Francesco Fucilla Film production company 21st Century Filmworks. Zane has starred in 98 films and comprised 35 television roles. (source)


Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day (except Sundays) I have shared with you The People Who Inspire Me.

Celebrate the Small Things – 04.29.16

Celebrate blog hop

I didn’t celebrate anything last week. My heart and soul died and I was just too devastated. I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate when such a beautiful soul had left Earth. I’ve finally come to terms with his death now and feel it is finally okay to do a little bit of celebrating.

I celebrated finally meeting my great-nephew, Hunter this past week. He is just over 2 years old now. Wednesday was the first time I’ve met him since I returned home from OK. He reminds me so much of his father, Cody, who is a special young man. We share our birthday, so I have a different kind of closeness with him that I don’t have with his siblings. My niece, Katie, also brought over her daughter Abby for me to see again. She is so adorable and has the chubbiest cheeks!

I am also celebrating that tomorrow I will successfully have completed my 2nd year doing the A2Z. This year I tackled two blogs. If you are interested, you can catch up with them here: My A2Zs @ As the Fates Would Have It & Promptly Written

And I am about to celebrate the beginning of May and tackling another project. I will be writing a story a day on Promptly Written with Julia and company @ StoryADay In May.

What are you celebrating this week, dear readers? Feel free to share with me in comments.

Each Friday, I join Lexa Cain and friends for a weekly blog-hop called Celebrate the Small Things, where we celebrate all of those small moments from the week before.

The wonderful co-hosts of Celebrate the Small Things are:
L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Celebrate The Small Things Linky:

1. Lexa Cain 2. Fiction and Film
3. Writing Off the Edge 4. Kidbits
5. TheCyborgMom 6. Thoughts and Ideas from Deanie Humphrys-Dunne
7. My Inner Geek 8. Eclectic Alli
9. Intentional Insights with S. Kelley Harrell 10. Constantine
11. My Miracle Life 12. Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams
13. My Creatively Random Life 14. Shells Tales and Sails
15. Lara Lacombe 16. TF Walsh
17. Caring for my Veteran 18. Life, Yoga and Other Adventures
19. About myself, by myself 20. Suzanne Furness
21. Elizabeth Seckman 22. Avalon
23. Cherdo on the Flipside 24. My Baffling Brain
25. Planet Kimberly 26. Shah Wharton
27. Mere Joyce 28. Victorian Scribbles
29. Tanya Miranda 30. God, Entertainment, & Annoying Things
31. Ann – A Friend of Jesus 2013 32. Special Teaching At Pempi’s Palace
33. Square Pegs 34. Patricia’s Place
35. Yvonne Van Dalen 36. Anne Higa
37. My Antimatter Life 38. Into the Imagination Vortex
39. Bouquet of Books 40. Lightravellerkate
41. Curious As A Cathy 42. Thoughts for the Day
43. Julie Flanders 44. As the Fates Would Have It
45. Project Why


#atozchallenge – W.B. Yeats Inspires Me


William_Butler_Yeats_by_George_Charles_BeresfordMost people who know me well, know that I am not sentimental or overly romantic. So when I tell you that I love a romantic poet, you can bet there is something else about his work that I also love – the dark undertones, the mournful, melancholy themes. That poet is the Irish poet, W.B. Yeats. I remember clearly (something not so common with me) the day in High School when we were reading some of his work. I was 16, a senior and in my English Literature class. My teacher loved Yeats and told us that his work wasn’t normally discussed in HS English Lit classes because he is an Irish poet. Although he was included in the textbook, most teachers just passed his work by or only assigned one poem to be read. That didn’t set too well with me because I am an Irish American. So of course, I had to read more than just the assigned poems, of which, we read three in class. Here is the first poem of his that I ever read:

O Do Not Love Too Long

SWEETHEART, do not love too long:
I loved long and long,
And grew to be out of fashion
Like an old song.
All through the years of our youth
Neither could have known
Their own thought from the other’s,
We were so much at one.
But O, in a minute she changed –
O do not love too long,
Or you will grow out of fashion
Like an old song.

~W.B. Yeats

Notice the mournful, melancholic undertones in that piece. That is what drew me to his work initially, but his use of symbolism is what kept me reading him. He chose symbols that had many meanings, so that what when reading him, you get various interpretations. He also used a lot of Irish mythology in his work. He mostly wrote in classic forms, but did write some free-style pieces. In the following poem, written in his latter days, he uses a symbol that I use a lot in my own poetry – bones. It is a classic form called ottava rima and consists of 3 parts.  This is probably my favorite of his poems.

The Circus Animals’ Desertion


I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.


What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his fairy bride.

And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
`The Countess Cathleen’ was the name I gave it,
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.

And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love
And not those things that they were emblems of.


Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

~W.B. Yeats

If you are curious about what others have thought of that poem, you can read what some critics have said about it here. Personally, I think Yeats was reflecting back not only on his poetry, but his life in general. I think the Circus Animals represents his old age. *sighs* his language is just so gorgeous and those themes and symbols! So much in his work has inspired my own writing – themes, symbolism, the dark undertones, melancholy and mournfulness, and yes, even the romanticism. If you want to read more of his poetry, check some of them out here (you will also note that he wrote fiction, non-fiction and plays!).

Here are some of my favorite Yeats quotes:

Interesting Facts: Yeats was an Irish Nationalist and desired a free Ireland. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Irishman to do so. His muse was Maud Gonne, to whom he proposed marriage to four times, but was rejected all four times. Yeats loved mythology, mysticism, spiritualism, occultism and astrology. He was the driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and founded the Abbey Theater where his plays were produced. Yeats died in 1939 in Menton, France and was buried at Roquebbrune-Cap-Martin. Later his body was removed and buried in Drumcliff, Ireland.

His epitaph is taken from the last lines of “Under Ben Bulben”, one of his final poems:

Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!

(these facts have been taken from this source)


Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.


The Sandbox Writing Challenge #37 — Something Important

I’m a bit late with the challenge this week. I am still not 100% okay, but moving on…

This week, Calen has proposed an interesting scenario


Imagine this man telling you something important, something you need to hear. What is he saying? 

The first impression I get of this man is that he seems grumpy, disgruntled or not too happy with his current circumstances. I think his advice would go something like this:

“Don’t do what I did, young lady. Many opportunities to make something of myself came along. I hesitated. Weighed all of the pros and cons. Took my time making a decision. By the time I was ready to say yay or nay, the opportunities had moved along. Then I would curse myself as a failure. I became embittered. I drove everyone away because of my self-doubt. Now look at me. I am an old man. I never made anything special out of my life. And my only company are these pigeons.

“If you see an opportunity, cease it. You may still fail, but you can pat yourself on the back for trying. Then try again. Embrace your loved ones. Keep them close. When you reach my age, don’t feed the pigeons alone.”

#atozchallenge – Malcolm X Inspires Me


mystery15n-11-webBack in the 80s when I was doing a lot of research on the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, I disregarded on important figure of those times because I thought he was too militant. I am referring to Malcolm X. It wouldn’t be until I was in college that I began taking a closer look at him and his movement. I had joined a feminist club and there was an older woman in it (she was also studying at Hollins under the adult program) who had known Malcolm X and she began telling us stories about him. Her words have stuck with me all through my life. She said, “He was never racist. He never wanted war. He wanted a world where everyone lived peacefully regardless of skin color. But he was willing to fight and die for it if necessary.” Those are almost the exact same words he is known for. As a life-long pacifist, I found it hard to understand fighting of any kind, but then I am white and have never lived under oppression. I began to put myself in his shoes. While I still believe I would have gone the route that Martin Luther King, Jr. took, I can definitely see why some would go in the opposite direction. What inspires me so much about him is that he stood by his convictions. He approached the Civil Rights Movement from an intellectual perspective, realizing that integration would probably not work and that separation was the only way for blacks. While I don’t believe that stance was a correct one, I honestly believe that he genuinely cared about the plight of blacks in America.

Here are some of my favorite Malcolm X quotes:

Here are some wonderful videos of his speeches, interviews and a biography:

Want another opinion on Malcolm X? Check out this well-written post by JD Holmes on Why Malcolm X Matters

Interesting Facts: By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he embraced Sunni Islam. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he repudiated the Nation of Islam, disavowed racism and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He continued to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense. In February 1965, he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, published shortly after his death, is considered one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century. (source)


Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.


#atozchallenge – William Goyen Inspires Me


william-goyenI wasn’t introduced to William Goyen until college. I wasn’t overly impressed with the cover of the book I was handed by my professor. It had a blue background with merely a white wooden house on the cover. What did impress me was the title, The House of Breath. The thought of a house breathing intrigued me. As I began to read that book, I was in awe of the beautiful way it was written, like poetry with its rich imagery and repetitive style. It’s themes include home and family, place, time, sexuality, isolation, and memory. The house and the river are not mere objects in this book, but they are characters themselves. It is the one book I have read more than 10 times. I make it a point to read it once a year. It is also my most well-worn book. I’ve had to tape the cover back on several times over the years. I’ve read his other works, which include four other novels, two non-fiction books, his book of poetry, and his collection of short stories. Although all of them are good reads, none of them inspired me as much as The House of Breath. William Goyen’s writing style – stream of consciousness flow, descriptive nature, and repetition, has greatly influenced my own writing. 

Here are just a couple of quotes from the book:

“I wanted to put my hand on this hand and hold it still under mine, made still by his made still. Oh he was bright and I was dark and I gave him all my darkness on that ship; but we joined, for all good things in the world, and to find somethin together; and loved, I never knew I could do it and was afraid; and on the bow of the ship that night that he said, “What have we done Christy?”
I said, wonderin too, “But somethin good will come of this, I know somethin good will come of this…”
Only sorrow came.”
― William Goyen, The House of Breath

“In summer the rich pond water was a vat of ripe simmering fruit, of varnish color: golden in the sun, holding like a rich syrup all the stock and plankton of the woods: loam-wealth, growth richness, leaf and sap goodness, the potlikker of the secret woods—all untouched and rare and gamy. There lolled fat, torpid, safe fish, bobbling languorously over in the thick piny syrup, bubbling their rubbery globules, like plump ripe fruit in their juices.”
― William Goyen, The House of Breath

And here is a poem that I wrote based on a scene in the book:

Through the Window

In the hottest summer’s day
you never opened
the shutters, kept us closed
off from the world

I took my chance to escape
The circus came:
clown and lions and her
Emerald eyes laughed
behind the made-up mask. I beheld
the world through those jeweled eyes
riches beyond the window you wouldn’t gaze
through. And you
you descended into madness
unsure of the day, the hour
the moment I fled
still sure that you heard
my footsteps, my shallow cry
from the well shaft

Now, Mother, your skin is wilted, ashen
your eyes are sunken, deranged
and your hair is sallow, matted
Look, Mother. Look through the window!
That’s where you will find me

© 2011 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.

Interesting Facts: In 1963, Goyen married Doris Roberts, the actress perhaps best known for her work in Everybody Loves Raymond; they remained together until his death in 1983. His style has been compared to Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, and Gabriel García Márquez. (source)


Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.


#atozchallenge – Virginia Woolf Inspires Me


NPG P440; Virginia Woolf (nÈe Stephen) by GisËle FreundI have a confession to make. I’ve always loved melancholy writers. I am drawn to them because of my own mental illness and melancholy ways. Such is the case with Virginia Woolf. I was around 11 when I first read Mrs. Dalloway (another book my mother had to sign at the Library for me to read!). I was drawn to those opening words, “Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” I was intrigued as to why she would buy them herself. What were they for? But it wasn’t just the words she wrote, it was how she wrote. Her book was the first introduction I would have to stream of consciousness writing. I was also intrigued by the themes of feminism, mental illness and homosexuality. I was just beginning to realize that I was not an average young woman sexually and already suffering from bouts of depression. I wouldn’t read To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own, and Orlando until much later, during college. By then, I understood my sexual preference (bisexual), was well acquainted with my own mental illness, and was a feminist. Her works took on an even greater role in my life as inspiration while I experimented more with my own writing. Without her influence, I would have struggled with who I was as a woman and would never have discovered the flow and rhythm of stream of consciousness.

Here are some of my favorite quotes by Virginia Woolf:

Here is a reading of the suicide letter that she left for her husband Leonard:

And a biography of her:

Interesting Facts: Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. She wrote Orlando for her lover, Vita Sackville-West. Woolf committed suicide by drowning in 1941 at the age of 59. (source)


Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.

#atozchallenge – John Updike Inspires Me



As a young teenager, I was quite a curious reader and if I was told not to read someone, I generally disregarded the warning and read them anyway. Such was the issue with John Updike. I was told that his themes of death and sex were unsuitable for a 13 year old. I remember the school librarian telling me, “You are too young to understand such things.” I laugh at that notion now because I had already read War and Peace by that age and was told the same thing about it. So, as that curious young reader, I did the opposite and I read him and read him and read him. His Rabbit series was my first taste of his writing, which I continued to read up until the last one was published in 1990. I also read The Witches of Eastwick around 1984 and The Widows of Eastwick in 2008. Over the years, I have probably devoured around 15 of his novels, two of his poetry books and even a few of his non-fiction works. What inspires me the most about Updike’s writing is that he speaks to the everyman with his topics of morality, mortality, religion, death and sex. And as my old High School English teacher would say, he “knows how to you use his words.”

In the introduction to Picked-Up Pieces, his 1975 collection of prose, I learned how to read and understand a writer’s intentions (and how to write amazing book reports!). He listed his personal rules for literary criticism:

1. Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.

2. Give enough direct quotation—at least one extended passage—of the book’s prose so the review’s reader can form his own impression, can get his own taste.

3. Confirm your description of the book with quotation from the book, if only phrase-long, rather than proceeding by fuzzy précis.

4. Go easy on plot summary, and do not give away the ending.

5. If the book is judged deficient, cite a successful example along the same lines, from the author’s œuvre or elsewhere. Try to understand the failure. Sure it’s his and not yours?

To these concrete five might be added a vaguer sixth, having to do with maintaining a chemical purity in the reaction between product and appraiser. Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike, or committed by friendship to like. Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in any ideological battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never … try to put the author “in his place,” making of him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys of reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that end.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes by John Updike:

And here are a couple of videos of John Updike via Youtube:

Interesting Facts: John Updike was awarded 30 awards from 1959 thru 2008, including two Pulitzer Prize for Fiction awards. Politically, he was a life-long Democrat.

For a complete list of his works, go here


Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.


Creative Questions 10 – War


CQ 10 – How has war impacted on your family and life?

War has never directly affected me. No one in my immediate family served in the military. My maternal grandfather served in WW2 and I have some cousins who served in various branches of the military, but they all came back home from their services. I’ve had no close acquaintances die during war. However, I am aware of the hardships that Vets live through as I have worked in various community centers who serviced Vets. I am a pacifist and believe in non-violence. I have nothing against the military and am proud of those who are and have served, but my preference would be that no one’s sons or daughters would ever have to go to war again.

How about you, dear readers? Has war had an impact on your life or family? Share your thoughts with me in comments.