Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Haikus for Joplin

After reading a spread in the Sunday paper about the disaster in Joplin, I decided to try and do a haiku recap, like news in poetry form.

Trees, once leafy oaks
Stand as mangled trunks, naked
Anchored by their roots.

The question now is,
"Do I want to live here still?
Or start somewhere new?"

Like 9/11
There's life before the storm
And life after it.

We will overcome
We will rebuild this city
Gotta believe it.

Address: FEMAville
Neighborhood, not livelihood.
Home for a few months?

Working on a plan
Seeking out debris dump sites
Can't we recycle?

Another landfill
Millions of tons of rubble
Buried in the ground :(

American flags
Flying proud from the wreckage
Homeless optimists :)

We're undecided
Should we stay, or should we go?
No easy answer.

Battered businesses
With plywood-covered windows
Post "We're open" signs

Back to work again
Chainsaws start cutting into
The tornado scar

And just for fun, I created a Wordle out of these haikus, which I featured in yesterday's post as a teaser for today~

Wordle: joplin wordle

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ms. Panda's Wordle

For theme day #3 in the Blogathon, we were given the option to make our own Worldes. You can make your own Wordle here.

I chose this version of my Wordle since it uses Old English and I looooove calligraphy.

Wordle: Panda's Wordle

Here's a sneak peak into tomorrow's post. Can you guess what it is going to be?

Wordle: joplin wordle

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Funday #1

Blogging should be fun on Sundays, so I am creating Sunday Funday on my blog - a day to share fun ideas, stories, and crafts!

I received a post card from my "high pointing" pen pals! 

Dana wrote that the hike took 6 1/2 hours round trip!  Wow! 

What's random about this place in Black Hills, South Dakota is that it shares the same name, "Harney" as my best friends' sushi restaurants in San Diego.  No coincidences in life - not even little ones.  I'm so glad I met Dana and Ron.  They rock!

Here's a picture of us the first time we met.  You can feel the love :)

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

6 Word Saturday

A blogger that I follow posted a challenge I couldn't resist!

She writes,

"I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who came up with the 6 word story idea, or at least accepted the challenge to try and created one of the best 6 worders ever:

For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Here's my try:

Funerals were funny, but not his.

Not as complete as Hemingway's, but its a fun challenge. Quite a challenge.

What have you got?"


Well, I'm on this fairy tale haiku kick right now, so challenges like this really intrigue me.

I mean, telling a complete fairy tale in a haiku seems hard enough let alone in six words?

Here's my attempt:

In demand, true love, no price.

Castles, made of sand, will fall.

Happily ever after, a fairy tale.
 Prince finds Princess, a perfect beauty.

Whaddya think?  Happy 6 Word Saturday!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Travel Plans This Summer?

The gypsy in me is about to dance free once again and I couldn't be more happy about it! 
With work slowing down in June and a set-in-stone girls' trip to New Orleans from 6/13-6/17, I am thinking BIG! 

Panda sightings may be extremely likely in Memphis, TN, NOLA, Baton Rouge, LA, Austin, TX, Fort Worth, TX, OKC, Tahlequah, OK, Little Rock, AR, Lawrence, KS, and of course KCMO!  But I've only got June, so if you are on this list and would like to connect, let's do it!

I am extra pumped up right now from meeting a super cool couple who are "high pointing" all 50 states!  I just got an email from them talking about their journey since we met on 5/17 at the "Portugal. The Man." show at Record Bar in KCMO.  It was surely fate, and I now have a new pen pal! 

Ron, Panda and Dana

Dana writes in her email about their adventures:

"After leaving KC we drove to Clayton, NM for the evening.  There are a lot of very bleak towns scattered across the interior of the US and I do believe we have driven through and stayed in a fair number of them.  Clayton may be their poster child.   Thursday morning we hiked Black Mesa in Oklahoma (high point number 2).  Black Mesa was an amazing and wonderful surprise.  Absolutely the middle of nowhere and mainly gravel roads surrounding the nature preserve.  There was one sign which gave information on the area and a phone of the mercantile store in a neighboring town.  They request that you call the store and let them know you are out there for your own safety and then phone them again upon your return to your car.  My guess was in case you had a run in with a rattlesnake.   We were the only car in the lot, which we did not even share with a garbage can.  Very isolated and pristine.  I have seen it described as bucolic and I very much agree.  We made to the top of a wind swept mesa and logged in at the marble obelisk marking the high point.  The last visitor had been 5 days previous and prior to that guy it had been 10 days earlier for the last group.  So...Ronnie decides to go the bathroom and at that very moment we see ANOTHER couple walking up the path.  Get out of town!!  They were from Pittsburg and they were geocaching.  They had been in Las Vegas and then rented a car to drive to Black Mesa.  They almost stepped on a huge rattlesnake and were kind enough to share their photo.  When we got back to the lot, very hot and hungry (8 and 1/2 mile round trip hike), we had a picnic with Oklahoma Joe’s leftovers and a beer.  I just cannot tell you how cool it was to be eating good food in such a completely unspoiled place."

FYI - I looked bucolic up and it means, "of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life."  Might just have to throw Black Mesa on my list now!  

Oh, and Oklahoma Joe's is a BBQ joint in KC.  It's located in a gas station, but has been acclaimed to have the best sauce on the planet.  I will investigate and get back to you all!

I'm so happy that I met the "high pointers" at a Portugal. The Man. concert.  It was an epic show.  
I'm seriously dreaming in their music now.  Check this out.

Road trip mix tapes are brewin' right now ;) 

How about you?  What song/s would you suggest to add to a road trip playlist?

Some of my favorites are:
Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf
Free Fallin' - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Hotel California - The Eagles
Free Bird - Lynard Skynard
Around the World - Daft Punk
We No Speak Americano - Yolanda Be Cool
Beautiful Day - U2
People Say - Portugal. The Man

What else?  Hmmm?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Once Upon A Time...

An amazing San Diego based artist, Jason Feather, and I are collaborating on a project involving fairy tale themed haikus written in calligraphy and then incorporated into a unique style of pop art

Here is an sample of what I will be mailing to him tomorrow.

I am absolutely thrilled to see how this evolves!  Will keep ya posted ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tornado Day

Like a scene out of "Independence Day," the morning sky in Kansas City brewed with heavy green cumulonimbus clouds - the type of clouds that form tornadoes.

I've witnessed these emerald anomalies on a few occasions and from my experience, when the clouds turn green, you can bet you're gonna catch a glimpse of a twister!  That is exactly what happened here today.

If looking up at the sky wasn't enough to warn me of the eerie danger that lurked on the horizon when I woke up today, the city's tornado warning siren was sounding outside and the Emergency Broadcasting System was alerting loudly across the bottom of all channels on the T.V. 

I thought about where to hide.  The corner of the basement where the foundation of the house is most underground - That's where I'd go.  I thought of southern Missouri and the unwavering hit that those folks in Joplin took barely two days ago by a gigantic tornado with 190mph winds!  People, cars, animals, trees, literally everything ripped off the ground and sucked up into a whirlwind in the sky.  It happened a few years ago here, too.  Just two blocks away from where I live.  Houses missing all except their foundations.  I thought about leashing my dogs up to the pipe in the basement bathroom.   

However, when I peeked outside, the trees were completely still and there was no rain in sight.  I was in the "eye" of the weather pattern, a complete calm before the storm.  The weather radar on T.V. showed the severe "red splotches" approaching my house, and the rotation of the storm hovered over the city as a whole, lingering, cycling, and promising severity.  The texts started rolling in on my Droid about tornado sightings and the local weatherman confirmed a touchdown in nearby Overland Park, KS.  Luckily the tornado was weak, the damage minimal and the storm moved on.

The rain began in my area, starting lightly and then increasing in intensity.  The wind blew it one direction and then the opposite and I decided it was time to get underground.  Luckily, the golf ball sized hail missed me by about five miles sparing the damage to our cars.  The sky darkened and if it wasn't for the fact that it was noon, I would have guessed it 8pm.  A couple of twisters began to form over cities to the immediate north and east of me (less than 5mi away), but no touchdowns. 

Phew!  What a relief! 

It's days like this one when I really think of how temporary life is and count all of my blessings.  I think the panic in Kansas City, MO was greatly intensified by the week's prior devastation in Joplin and the fact that so many have deep personal connections there.  I pray for all of those who have nothing left - no house, no car, no family - all stripped away in the blink of an eye and I pray for those who the storm has not yet met.

If you would like to get involved and feel like volunteering or donating to the cause, I found a ton of great info here.

Also, photographer of the picture featured above, Scott Cook, has set up his own relief fund:
If you would like an 8X10 of this print, please send $15 to his paypal acct, scottcookmail@gmail.com and include your address. Proceeds will be donated to Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery.

As always, thanks for reading!  Be safe out there!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Five Favorite Places To Write

In the second theme day of the 2011 Blogathon, bloggers are writing about their top five favorite places to write.  Whether it be their next masterpiece, or a brainstorming "mind map," one thing influences it all - location, location, location! 

For me, overheard voices play a huge role in finding inspiration.  I can be anywhere (i.e. church, out to eat, near a T.V., at a laundromat, in a car, at a bar, etc.) and one single word, or phrase, uttered out of the mouth of a complete stranger can get my wheels spinning.  That is why I keep a small Moleskin journal in my bag at all times.  I love its size! It's perfect for my kind of tidbits (i.e. quotes and haikus.)

So, when thinking about where I like to write most, I immediately think about the places where I find the best material.  Like I said, it's all about location.

1. The Library.  With its seemingly infinite supply of useful information, the library is the first to make the list.  As a Creative Writing student in college, I was often found in the library.  In order to gain authority of a new subject, I would commonly stake out a long, wooden table and cover it with every book written about that topic.  I've skimmed through hundreds of pages looking for connections to my creative angles and many times found rewards in the most random places.  I still use this technique regularly, with my latest endeavor being research on eco-conscious Children's literature.  I would like to contribute my environmental point of view to this genre someday and find it extremely important to know what is out there now.  I mean, how else can you be a game changer if you don't already know the game?

2.  Outdoors.  Like Walt Whitman said, "I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars."  Whether camping out under the stars, walking through a rose garden, laying on the beach, or just sitting on a sunny patio, life is happening all around us and inspiration flows as easily as one will allow it.  Thousands of different sounds, colors, shapes, feelings, words and actions appear all around us all of the time.  If I simply bestill my mind, my senses begin to write.  The spontaneus world outside is, by far, my favorite place to write. 

3. My Super Comfy Bed.  I guess that writing from my bed started when I was young.  I could always retreat to my room for some quiet time and would usually fill the pages of my Hello Kitty diary with gushing love notes about boys.  I continued to write in this manner for many of my school years, usually in my journal at bedtime, always confessions of love.  As I got older, my bedtime writing shifted to the morning hours as I began eagerly decifering the symbols and unconscious messages sent to me through my dreams.  It was through the practice of dream interpretation and journaling that I discovered that I have psychic abilities.   Dream journaling has changed my life for the better, as I feel I am more connected to my unconscious now than I have ever been before.  I am able to recognize signs and symbols that appear throughout my day and connect them to the divine truth of my life's path.  It's mind blowing!  Really.        

4.  At Concerts. Lately I have been pulling out my journal at concerts and writing down random lyrics that I hear.  Like these overheard bits by Brett Dennen at Red Rocks Ampitheater, "Darlin', don't fear what you don't really know.  All your troubles don't stand a chance!" and "In the back of a Greyhound bus, you can be who you are."  I also took my journal out at a Tom Petty concert, which ended up as this:

Danced the night away with my sister, sang our hearts out, and from a lyric of each song on the set list, I wrote this:
She might need a little lovin, but she don't need you!
She's gonna make it on her own-
So, let's get to the point-
She moved out here-
The age of 18.
My little honey bee-
No I won't back down!
Learning to fly...
But I ain't got wings.
Comin down is the hardest thing
Don't come around here no more
Give it up! STOP!
Stop walking down my street
What do you expect from me?
You can believe what you wanna believe
You don't have to live like a refugee!!!
Workin on a mystery
Goin' wherever it leads...

Kinda neat, right.  If anything, it's a cool memento to help recollect the set list that night. 

5. While driving.  I love taking road trips, and although it is not very safe, I write from behind the wheel.  I can't help it.  If I see a sign for a city with a cool name or an image that sparks a thought, I must write it.  The time alone on the road is perfect for self reflection and the hum of the tires on the pavement provides great rhythm for a spontaneous flow of poetry and emotion.  Combined with great music, writing and road trips are an amazing wealth of inspiration and drive. ;) 

Here is a poem I wrote while driving to California from Kansas City, MO.

The trees change
The farther I drive away
From my home.
I think of my mom.
The leaning telephone poles
One after another
Remind me that
Even if they don't stand tall
At least they get the job done.

Driving with my knee.
Writing suicidally
Drifting south, then
West, west, west. 
As the windmill harvests
The wind into energy,
The writer must keep writing
In order to build
The kind of steam
It takes to create
A masterpiece.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Larry Bear and the Oil Spill

Larry the bear travels everywhere.

He lives on a ship and plays sweet music.

His friend, the wind, blows soft into his sail

Moving him onward, a fresh ocean smell

Larry Bear breathes a big breath of fresh air

Then brushes his teeth and combs his long hair.

He spends most of his days far out at sea

Fishing and playing the ukulele!
When the fish in the water hear his song,
They swim to the surface and dance along.
Larry Bear dances above on his ship!
He spins and caws with his pretty bird Skip.
“Ahoy!” sings Larry, while Skip looks cute
And they sail all day across the big blue.
The ocean sways for them. It cradles them home.
With all that’s inside her, they’re never alone.
He’s friends with the fish, one whale and a bird.
A wise old turtle, with tales never heard.
Like one of a drill brought here by the man
To drill up oil from under the sand
The pipes bring it up onto a huge barge,
It’s refined with stuff and used to fuel cars.
This made the man happy and full of greed
‘Til the big drill broke and spilled in the sea
The whale’s spout was black with fresh spilled oil,
And the dancing fish began to spoil.
The turtle got oil under his shell
He couldn’t swim around very well.
The air filled with smoke, ruining the breeze,
Poor Skip sneezed and Larry fell to his knees!
From the top of his lungs he made his plea,
"We must find a way to stop all of this
before my fishy friends wash up dead.
Because of them I am never alone.
Is oil worth it? Worth hurting their home?
The sea once blue, so clear you could see through,
Is filled with black gloops the fish eat for food.
And the birds, whales and everyone else, too,
Are getting sick quick!  It’s terrible news!
But my ocean friends still have a good chance,
If parents and kids learn to change their plans.
If they choose to rides bikes and park their cars,
They can choose to use less, it’s not too hard!
Because to conserve things and buy local
Can really cut down on all that oil!
We should use wind, or power from the sun
To fuel our gadgets and transportation!
Because as we have seen, oil’s no good.
It hurts us all in my neighborhood.
That one choice will be the voice that tells earth,
We want to help and we value its worth!
Will you choose to plant a baby tree?
To provide us with oxygen to breathe?
Will you choose to keep the big ocean blue?
Will you ask your parents to choose it, too?
The choice is now yours! So try and choose right!
Then my friends and I can sleep sound at night.
New choices will come each day that you wake.
You must learn to choose each choice that you make.
The things you choose now decide the future.
There are lots of things to love and nurture. 
So start with yourself! Start with your own health,
And remember good decisions are your greatest wealth!"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Bass Whisperer

The bass whisperer
Makes his lady purr
Those streaks of silver
Hum up and down her
Long neck, tingling
A feeling coming 
From beneath the floor
Sacred beats of old
Carry current lore
In rhythm retold
By his hands,
Through her core
Long after
He plays her.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cheeseburger Culture

A trip to Ocean Beach, San Diego is not complete without a visit to Hodad's. 

Hodad's is one of those secrets that you wish nobody else knew about, but since Guy Fieri blew their cover on his Food Network show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," I figured I had the go ahead.  I mean, the line to get in stretches around the block most days.

According to their website http://www.hodadies.com/ and I can personally vouch for them,

"Hodad’s has been recognized as one of the top 5 burger joints in the country by CNN with Hodad’s being the only west coast restaurant to get recognized."

You can view the article here:

Regardless of their countless honors, there is something that Hodad's offers that can only be experienced.  It has a one-of-a-kind surf-punk, beach bum vibe.  "No shirt, no shoes, no problem" doesn't even begin to describe it.

Personalized license plates and street signs decorate the walls, surf and skate stickers stick to everything from the entryway to the longboard shaped tables and VW bus booth. 

The music playing is usually some revved up heavy metal and the beers are cold, local brews that are served in mason jar glasses. 

By far, the window is the best place to sit and people watch.  To begin with, the servers, whose faces haven't changed much over the last decade, embody the dark OB counter-culture and the unique characters hanging out front range from homeless vets and their dogs, to unique street performers like this guy - OB Phil

There really is no other place like Hodad's.  When you eat one of their ginormous burgers, you just feel cool.

So next time you visit Ocean Beach, don't be scared of the line - it's worth the wait.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sunshine Daydreams

Rain, rain, go away.  Come again another day...

There is so much truth for me in this rhyming couplet.  Why does it seem so hard to shake the clouds in my mind when the sun won't shine?

I know that I am not the only one who battles with this mental block.  I lived in Southern California for 10 years and when it rained, people were in a funk as a whole.  Same thing happens here, in Kansas City, MO, too.  Even my dogs would rather stay inside and sleep than go out in the wet mess.   Here's a couple of videos of my favorite canine gals on a sunnier day at the Shawnee Mission dog park.


At least if the sun won't shine, I have my dogs to keep me warm and happy.  Sometimes I feel like they are the only ones who understand.  And they depend on me for everything.  They are my joy.  If they are happy, I am happy.  There is so much to be learned from our pets about the meaning of life.  The way they just are.  They are present in every moment. They take us for walks. They teach us so much if we just quiet our minds and listen.  If this rings true to you, then check out Eckhart Tolle's book, Guardians of Being.  It's absolutely wonderful - and great for all ages.  

According to artist, Patrick McDonnell, "Guardians of Being reminds us why we love our companion animals. It illuminates for us their divine purpose. While we are lost in our thoughts and busyness of everyday life, they have become the key to the present moment, our guardians of being."  Ahhhhh...
If we remember to be present in every moment, even the rainy ones, then we will be open to receive the gifts that the day has to offer.  It is in our mindset that we thrive.  How does the rain affect yours?  How do you stay positive?

XOXO, Lucy and Annie

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Super Moon

Some Christians are saying that this Saturday, May 21, 2011, is going to be the the end of the world.  All of the planets are aligned with the moon and according to the Bible, Saturday is the day, so they say here:


Hmm.  So what if it is?  What will you be doing?

I personally, have to work.  But even in the rare circumstance that the end of the world begins on Saturday, won't there still be months of earthquakes to look forward to before the actual "end" comes?

Just a conversation that I was having last night.  Thought I would share. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just Roll With It...

Whether with family, or friends,
At an art gallery, or park
Always make sure you roll down the hill :)

At the Getty Center in Los Angeles, CA

This is me rolling (gracefully) down the hill at the Getty.

This is how my nephew, Michael, rolls at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, MO.

The finish.


Have fun!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Save The World Haikus

Our home, Mother Earth
Provides a nice place to live.
To Her we should give.

The Queen of our land
Gives us resources to use
Just not to abuse

It's hard to forget
When I want it so badly
Save the Earth with me!

Plant a tree Susie
Builds forests for you and me
So that we can breathe

Dumpster diving Mike
Rides everywhere on his bike
Recycling life.

Everybody knows
The pollution solution
Is less gas and trash!

One plastic bottle
Will be here a thousand years
That's longer than YOU!

Trashing the planet
We keep throwing out our stuff
One-third of Earth gone!

Global fisheries
Are fished to capacity
Now what do we eat?

Toxic chemicals
Used to make all of our things
Get in our bodies

Oil spills are death
To birds and fish in the sea
Who never get cleaned.

Hunting by humans
Make animals extinct, or
Extremely threatened.

Wild animals,
Like leopards and tigers, are killed
To make rugs and bags.

We think with egos
Our worth gained by what we buy
We think we need it.

The ads on TV
Make us sad with what we have
Told that we are wrong.

We have more stuff now
But less time with families
What matters the most?

Dumped in a landfill
To pollute land, air and water
Garbage makes toxins.

Stop burning the trash!
It releases more toxins
In the air we breathe.

Toxic acid rain
Falls freakishly from the sky
Eats through umbrellas.

People start working
When they see the big picture
On saving the Earth

See the connections
Renewable energy
Wastes no resources

Throw away mindsets
Must soon be thrown away, too
And zero waste gained.

Sustainable Phil
And his closed loop production
Keeps life clean and green.

If you want to help
Visit the zoo close to you
Donate extra, too!

Start a new garden
In a community place
Share with your neighbor

Write a few haikus
Give people some ideas
On what they can do.

The answer is here
The efforts are growing now
Join in your own way.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Poem for Michael Lang, My Facebook Contest Winner

What was an extra ticket to Rockfest
Became a Facebook page "liking" contest
With the grand prize being a date with me.
Not usually so egotistical,
I would consider myself quite humble.
But to create a buzz, I had to see.
When all was said and done, the contest won,
And winner, Mike Lang, had some rockin' fun,
I knew that it all must be meant to be.
His friends and family stuck by his side
And posted his name many times with pride!
Mike is a cool guy, a great one to meet.
We also met bands and got autographs
Got rides on golf carts and had a few laughs
But in the crowd was where we saw boobies
And the kind of kids that we used to be.
Was fun feeling young, a great way to be

Thanks for winning, Mike! Glad you were with me!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Promoting my FB page with a contest

At 1:00amCentral Time on 5/7/11, I posted a contest on my Facebook author page.  This is what it read:

"So, I need a date to Rockfest and decided the only way to be fair would be to create a contest.
Here's all you have to do:
Share a link to my author page in your status, ask your friends to "like" me & upon "liking" have them post your name on my wall.
The winner will be the one whose name appears the most!
Contest ends Sat., 5/14/11 at 10am. GOOD LUCK!!!"

At that time I had 196 "likes."  I wanted to see how many new "likes" I could tally up in one week by sweetening the pot.  Now, I am sure that not all of my FB fans love rock, or even care about it enough to enter, but I had the idea and felt the urge to just go with it! 

The next morning I woke up and tweeted my Rockfest contest, which happened to lead me to 98.9 The Rock's hosts Johnny Dare and Jason Nivens.  Dare didn't bite, but Nivens did and word got out fast!  I even received a call from my cousin who heard about it from a friend.  The contest was on! 

At 10:00am today my total "likes" had hit 274!  I gained 78 pairs of eyes reading my posts.  I am very proud, but also feel like falling over from the "date" that I had to the Rockfest all day today. Next time I will just offer the pair of tickets.

Experiment successful, lesson in life gained.

And there's even a BONUS!!!  My cousin got us backstage to mingle among some of the bands!  Sweet!

Getting autographed =)

What should my next contest be?  Any ideas out there?  Definitely something more writing centered...

As always, thanks for reading! 
Check my Facebook fan page out for yourself!

Friday, May 13, 2011

NEW BLOG!!! Ms. Panda's Adventures

I am so sad to have lost my last post due to technical issues with Blogger :(  Even if you missed the chance to read it, it was SO inspiring to me!
However, in an effort to stay on track with the Blogathon I am participating in this month, I have created a new blog here:


This blog, written by Ms. Panda herself, documents her travels around the world to visit animals on the WWF endangered species list.  If you go to my blog now, you can even help decide who she visits first and help Ms. Panda draft her interview questions!

Thank you for your support!

Amanda Panda

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Made for THIS World

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." C.S. Lewis

I found this quote on Sarah Allen's blog, http://fromsarahwithjoy.blogspot.com/, and nothing could feel more true at times than to think that I was made for another world. 

Maybe that world is some divine place, where all of the concerns about the environment, attention to its own people and other desires for a brighter tomorrow are actually heard by mother nature.   She absorbs these desires directly into her atmosphere and trees and in turn, releases the solutions in response to her inhabitant's concerns - as if the thoughts of the world really counted as part of the whole consciousness.

Seriously, if the earth could talk, what would she say?

Then I found this blog: http://ifearthcouldspeak.wordpress.com/earthcure/.  The author doesn't really use dialogue to illustrate this idea, but he does point out the problems that out planet is experiencing due to our reckless inhabitation on it. 

If I were to take the conclusion of the above mentioned blog and turn it into dialogue, it might sound something like this:


"Since you are melting my ice caps at such a fast rate, why not use massive amounts of oceanic water to significantly impact the impending global rise in sea levels?"

"Can we PLEASE clean the countless tons of carbon dioxide and other particulate matter in my atmosphere ASAP?"

"I will promise to provide food permanently on a global basis, if you promise to start using alternative resources permanently on a global basis."

"An untold number of jobs exist worldwide if everyone joins efforts to save me."


Then I found and watched this youtube video: http://youtu.be/anHUYUrFkL8

It gave me goosebumps, brought tears to my eyes and made me realize that I am not alone in this unique sadness. 

"We gotta work together to make a better place...We are all in this together, let's run the race."

So sign up for your own personal "Earthathon" today.  Make a pledge to be a part of the answer everyday for the rest of your lives.  The "Earthathon" will never end.  Even if we can correct our actions and heal her wounds, our work will never be done.  We must always sustain and love this place we call home. 

And as C.S. Lewis says, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy..." then my answer is to create that experience on this earth!  This is our home.  We must remember that. 

Get creative. Save it.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TODAY IS HAIKU DAY!!! #blog2011

Today is Day 10 of the Word Count Blogathon and the theme is HAIKU!

This style of poem, which you can learn about here http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Haiku-Poem, is composed of 17 sound units divided into three parts - one with 5 units, one with 7 units and another with 5 units.

They are pretty easy to write and I love composing them from overheard voices.  In fact, this process actually makes for some very interesting haikus, like these that I wrote while listening to a sermon on a Sunday morning.

Baptised in fire
Purged by God's own holy will
Burn away your sins.

If you yield to Him
God will announce your purpose
Don't go your own way!

Aren't you curious
To know and live God's purpose?
It's why you are here.

Relax and enjoy
Trust that he has brought you here
To show you the way.

You will be a queen
If that is in your future
Strive to rule like Him.

Predestined within
We are justified with Him
To be used for good.

Can you tell what the sermon was about?  What a great exercise to try.  I love reading them again.  I will never forget that sermon now and can always revisit it for inspiration.

I also like to write haikus when I go out with my friends!  Sometimes they tease me for pulling out my journal at a bar. ;)

The happy hippy
Is she writing a haiku?
Flower poet child.

But the best ones are the ones I write when I am alone, thinking, contemplating a subject and feeling the urge to get its point across poetically.  This one is my hands-down favorite haiku ever:

Honest to a fault
I wear my heart on my sleeve
Like a truth tattoo

I actually have a running list of haiku poems that I published here on my blog:

So how about you?
Think you can write a haiku?
Try it here and now ;)

Feel free to add yours
In an empty comment box
Don't forget to share ;)

Happy Haiku Day! 
Get out and enjoy the sun :)
Tan those blank pages.

Thank you for reading
I cannot stop myself now...
Haikus keep coming!

I will never stop
Unless I do it myself
Right here and right now!

;)  Ms. Panda

Monday, May 9, 2011

Investing in Your Dreams

I was asked, "What is your dream?"

I answered, "My dream is to be able to hold a copy of my own book."

As I thought about that answer, my mind suddenly flooded with the million tiny steps that it would take to eventually reach out and touch that holy grail.  Since I will most likely self publish, I have a lot to invest before I can expect royalties to start rolling in.  The bulk of that investment will be focus, hard work and time, but there will be a point when I will have to pitch in some of my hard earned money as well, if I ever expect a tangible book to appear. 

I immediately thought of the book, You, Inc., by Harry Beckwith, in which he writes that one of the top mistakes that small businesses make is, "They didn't invest enough."  He continues, "As a result, their execution looked half-baked.  They looked tenative, as if they feared their idea was flawed and lacked the faith to put their money behind it."

It's true.  Money is a huge piece in the process of starting a small business, which I easily consider self publishing no exception to the rule.  

In self publishing Children's books, 
an author must first write the story,
then storyboard it,
find and pay the right illustrator, 
find and pay the right graphic designer to organize it all in the right format, 
choose the right publishing house, yep, pay them to print it the way you like...

...and finally, one may hold their own book in hand. 

Beckwith concludes with this thought:  "You have to invest.  The investments you make, of both time and money, demonstrate your confidence in what you are offering.  The premium prices you pay are literally that: premiums.  They are your insurance in your success."

It is so important to invest in our dreams.  If we don't think it is worth it, no one else will. 

And, even though the above mentioned half of the process doesn't directly speak about investment in marketing and selling a book, I feel that the money you spend before the product is complete, will directly effect the chances of it selling, too. 

Andy Warhol once said,

Personally, I am not focusing on selling it just yet.  I really just want to hold the culmination of my hard work in my hands and have the ability to ship it off to my friends so they can share Ms. Panda with their kids finally!

All of our dreams are unique, but they do all share one common thread - investment.  The point here is:
Don't cheat yourself!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I may still be a beginner, but I've got killer taste!

In my last few blogs, I've reached into the issue of originality and staying true to oneself no matter what avenue you persue.  As a beginner in the realm of Children's lit and self publishing, I found these two Ira Glass quotes very reassuring.  They are full of wise thoughts that may prove important to anyone who enters a new field. 

Ira Glass is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.  
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

"It's hard to make something that's interesting. It's really, really hard. It's like a law of nature, a law of aerodynamics, that anything that's written or anything that's created wants to be mediocre. The natural state of all writing is mediocrity... So what it takes to make anything more than mediocre is such an act of will..."
Ira Glass


Happy Writing YOUR WAY!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

10 inspiring images today.

In the first blog I wrote here, I made myself a list of 100 ideas to use if I ever needed a creative push.

Well, today's blog is a tip o' the hat to good ol' #77 -- visit more free museums. 

Today, I visited the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.  It is home to many beautiful sculptures, paintings, and other musings from around the world, including an Egyptian mummy, suits of armor for a man and horse and a super retro Frank Lloyd Wright chair.  

I love it all.  The old and the new, the elaborate and the simple, studying each collection as a sum of its cultural traditions.  Life fascinates me and I know I will sneak back very soon to soak up some more of that rich history that those walls contain. 

As for today, here are 10 pictures of the wonderful things that the free museum awarded me for visiting.  Cheers to lucky #77! Hope the images strike creative chords in your day, too! 

Happy Mother's Day eve :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

On the Illusory World of the Illustrator

When I first thought of publishing a Children's book, my biggest fear was not having it illustrated the way I could see it in my head.  I mean, who else could truly understand what an eel-ephant looks like?

I was weary of publishers, for they pair your story up with one of their illustrators, and once the story is sold, it is creatively out of your hands.  That freaks me out!  Writing is my art, and just like the clothes and jewelry that I create, I have a deep personal investment in each individual piece.  Anything that I produce and actually present to the rest of the world must bring with it of that one-of-a-kind effect. 

I am, by no means, an illustrator, but I try.  I try because I must stay true to myself.  However, I do realize that in order to make print worthy images appear on the pages of my story about Eli, the eel-ephant, I'm going to have to seek out some professional assistance. 

Yet finding the right person for the task has proven to be quite difficult.  Most prolific artists step right up to the plate when I ask for their help.   Maybe it is because they truly love what they do, or maybe it is because I offer to split the profit right down the middle with them once it is self published.  Considering my views on artistic license, self publishing is clearly the way I am leaning.  However, after the initial excitement of exchanging emails, picture texts, and inspiring ideas subsides, the artist seems to fade away. 

I'm not sure where they go, because they are still reachable, but somewhere inside the illusory world of the illustrator, there is a mind erasing machine that makes them forget about my Eli. 

I'm sure that not all illustrators are like this, but they are most likely also the ones who are getting paid to work.  I wonder how much they make?

On a forum at: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-14130.html,
a post by Vin states, "I did a spot illustration for a book [small maybe 4x6] I could get $200." 
Wow!  That is way out of my budget considering that one children's book with 30 or so 8 1/2 x 10" pages - you are looking at a cool $12,000!!!  In that case, Vin better stand for Da Vinci!

Another artist in the forum discussion, bRyaN, has a starting rate of, "about 15 dollars an hour, plus art materials."  Yet, how do we know if bYanN is prolific enough to bust out 30+ images in a week, or if he is going to milk the hourly for every red cent?

Pricing is a tricky topic in the illustrator's world.  I understand that an artist may feel solace through being commissioned to do a project.  There is virtually no risk.  They get promised a set amount up front and they can expect to receive it upon completion.  Voila!  But working with a budget is a reality in the self publishing world and I must spend my money wisely. 

As I am still in the beginning stage of my publishing journey, I plan to story board my picture book to the best of my ability, which I will most likely blog about in the near future as well.  With this valuable tool, I can more soundly approach illustrators with a sense of preparedness.

I must also write a synopsis of my story and a bit about myself, the author.  These will prove very important communication tools, so I plan to choose every word deliberately. 

With both of these "tools" readily available, I hope to unite forces with just the right illustrator and make my dreams of self publishing a reality on the road to success! 

If you have any experiences or suggestions for how to find an illustrator when self publishing, please comment below!  Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again :)