Friday, December 19, 2014

Uplifting and Spirited Music

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, play. My husband and I watched and listened intently to them performing the Brandenburg Concertos.

I have always been deeply touched by hearing those concertos but haven't seen them played live in ages. These concertos seem to have the ability to reach deep into my heart and go past that, touching my soul.

The Chamber Music Society features many gifted musicians who aptly interpret and play the various concertos beautifully. The artists are various ages--each lending a unique quality to the music, which seems to stem from their age for example vibrancy, ambition, wisdom and mastery.

Each of the artists exhibited a tremendous joy, drawn from their mastery over their chosen instrument. Their joy was infectious, resulting in numerous standing ovations. Now, if only I could come close in my lifetime to composing a piece of literature, painting or combination of the two, approaching the genius exhibited in J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Stepping Closer to Winter of Mind and Spirit

Fall has hammered me. I believe I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). This type of disruption happens every year. Lessening of outdoor light, naked trees, leaves blowing about--BINGO, my spirits fall. Most days, I'm flat lining.

I know there are full spectrum lights available. Must get one of those. Meanwhile, I've been trying flower essences, essential oils, meditation, naps, whatever...still SAD takes over, thus less and less blog posts, writing and other creative production.

This empty basket represents the harvest. SAD isn't just about the weather and light changes for me, it's about the harvest. I have posted quite happily about sowing seeds, putting good energy out into the world. But what I'm noticing is how many things I've put into that harvest basket and then tossed back out and into the universe. That makes me sad too.
My debut novel, so to speak, was to be published spring 2015. No go. Too many problems and issues to move forward on that one for a plethora of reasons I don't care to go into today. So, as of now, no debut novel.

My spirituality and weight loss book? Let's see. It's had two small presses interested in signing it. I pulled it from both for complex reasons. What I tell myself is that I was looking out for the best interest of the book. That book was also to come out in the spring of 2015. It does have a new literary agency representing it. I am ever so hopeful Nikki will enable the book to land in a really good, prominent and appropriate publishing house. Time will tell and when it does I'll share it with you here.

My career in freelancing rose quickly on Elance and just as quickly has dried up. I ran into a wide variety of problems and to be honest, schemes, with that website's clientele. Not my cuppa. So I closed out my membership, after working through various difficulties and spending over a thousand dollars, I didn't have. Ugh! Frustrating. Fellow freelance writers beware of that site. Proceed with caution, read everything you can about it before partaking. That's all I have to say about it.

Yes, I still have a lot to be thankful for. But I'm SAD and sad, and feeling drained of my life energy so preparing for Thanksgiving is presenting some challenges. The good things apart from my beautiful family and lovely pets that I'm thankful for are rediscovering art. I blog and talk about art making but haven't done diddly squat until recently.

In my studio today, I have three very large paintings going between 3' and 6'--so there, that's something. They are explorations of the self--self portraits, blown up bits of pieces (eyes, teeth, nostrils) examined piece by piece, little by little. Those should keep me busy for a while. I shall share some of the images soon on this blog. I've returned to oil on canvas and am doing smaller mixed media studies on paper. Painting in oil is wonderful! It's luxurious and expansive in its possibilities. It gives me hope, even as I step into the winter of mind and spirit, which may be even a darker stage than fall.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

With Gratitude

Not sure if it's luck, hard work, lots of wishing or a combination of all three but it is with sincere gratitude that I report in, this first Wednesday of November for the IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group) monthly blog post.

I could look at my situation negatively because much of what I've been going on about here in this space has turned out to be...

but everything happens for a reason. I've decided to return to the pure source of my inspiration. This requires me to simply write as much as I can and to paint with a open heart in my studio. 

All this is easier said than done. I had gotten extremely distracted and pulled away from creative writing and painting by various projects and part-time jobs. I was over-scheduled and distracted. Distracted to the point where I couldn't breathe, let alone be creative. It all left me drained of creativity and my body revolted. I am a bit under the weather, thus I haven't been posting much or visiting other blogs. Today though, I want to share some good news, in light of being a IWSG member.

My spirituality and weight loss book called "Mama Nature's Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss" has been through so much. Much of it was shared here. In the end none of it was right for me or for the book. I waited and low and behold, something wonderful has happened. I'm so happy to say I'll be working with the literary agent, Nikki Terpilowski.  Nikki is now representing that book and eventually my other books, through Holloway Literary Agency.

In short, I want to express gratitude to Nikki for believing in my talent. Her acceptance of my work came during a time I was beginning to doubt it.  I'd also become confused about my direction. I am so happy the universe acted within the open space available, enabling Nikki and I to work together at this particularly sensitive time in my creative life.

To my fellow IWSG members I want to share my new found appreciation for space. Open space, re-opened the door to creativity in its purest form. Open space was found during down time. That space was opened further by illness, of all things. Slowing down, as is necessary for healing, led to revising the direction of my life. 

Writer friends and visitors, I urge you to always make space for what it is you love. Through the space you leave open, all things are possible.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Brimming with Possibilities

This is my monthly installment, as a member of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Follow the link, as this is an exciting time for us. It is the anniversary for the group, brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, who has worked tirelessly building a safe, rewarding and meaningful community for bloggers.

Over the last few months since I've been participating in IWSG, things have been rapidly developing and changing. It's almost as though, as a result of admitting my insecurities, airing them out and working on resolving or at the least dealing with them, I've embarked on yet another amazing journey.

I do attribute some of this movement forward to my re-engagement with the possibilities of the Law of Attraction, metaphysics, magick and earth-based spirituality. With all of these thoughts and desperate practices coming together, the possibilities in life seem endless. These possibilities encompass every aspect of my life. Since writing is at the forefront, it has been one of the most impacted aspects of the transformation process.

Writing and the creativity it requires, is flowing, along with my thoughts. Unhampered by the limiting climate fostered by insecurity. This is a blessing, for which I express the sincerest gratitude towards the universe and all the mystery and wonders which it hosts.

In terrain, I've seldom traveled, I'm not certain where my little choo-choo train in the sky is taking me. I'm not questioning the process too much. For now, I'm enjoying spectacular views, while welcoming new visions. I'm sitting back and enjoying the ride. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Follow Fest Interview and Sharing

When I first became a blogger it was difficult to know if I had readers and visitors coming to my blog. I’d post and be met by the sounds of crickets. Then, I branched out into the world of the blogosphere, a world I didn't know really existed. From my ventures, I met a lot of interesting bloggers. I've started following and commenting on numerous blogs, for you see, prior to my outings, I too was out among the crickets. Lurking about but seldom saying anything.

A fellow blogger I've met through my journeys around the blogosphere is Melissa Maygrove. She had the brilliant idea to have a Follow Fest, where we share about who we are, what we do and most importantly, how you can connect with us further.

It is my intention through joining Follow Fest, that I’ll connect with many more readers and people interested enough in what I do to want to learn more by following. So, here goes my entry for the fest.

Stephanie Rose Bird

Fiction or nonfiction? 
I wrote both; nonfiction for about 15 years and fiction for just a couple.

What genres do you write?

Fiction: Literary Young Adult (YA) Fantasy/Paranormal.
Nonfiction: Alternative Spirituality, Magick/Paganism, Healing and Mind Body Spirit.

Are you published?

Yes. I've had five nonfiction books published. I have a new one under contract, which is a novel.

Do you do anything in addition to writing?

Lots! I paint and do mixed media art. Am a mother and wife and chief garden tender, sometime cook and chauffeur. I do freelance writing published in magazines and online in the genres indicated above. My work has been published in anthologies and encyclopedias. I've done content editing for many years. I mentor and coach writers and give critiques as a Publishing Consultant. You can learn more about the services I offer on Elance. I also teach fine art and offer retreat experiences, as well as healing workshops.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m currently on a journey of transformation. I've been losing weight since January. In the process finding out new things about lots of areas of my life. I practice magick; not just write about it. I’m an herbalist, dedicated to the magickal aspects of healing plants. I have not as of yet discounted the possibility that faeries or dragons exist.

What are you reading right now?

Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu, and "A New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose, Eckhart Tolle," nonfiction. 
"Guilty Pleasures" by Laurell K. Hamilton, "The Wolves of Midwinter" by Anne Rice and "The Book of Life" by Deborah Harkness, fiction.

Which authors influenced you the most?
Stephen King, hands down. I am also very fond of Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare, Carlos Castaneda, Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, Alice Walker, and a vast array of American poets.

Where can people connect with you?


Author pages:

Author Website

Do you have a Newsletter?

I come out with a product newsletter for my Almost Edible Natural Products a few times a year. Contact me through my author website and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

I've had so much back and forth, on again off, with my newest work of nonfiction, “Mama Earth’s Spiritual Guide to Weigh Loss.” 2 book deals that fell through for various reasons blogged about here. Tons of rejection from literary agents. I could go on. Stay tuned to see how this develops. It all seems to be taking a turn for the better. I’ll post here soon, with some good news!

In terms of my novels, I've been through the ringer with the one that is to be published next year. I get very hot on it and then cold. It’s a YA Literary Fantasy novel that began as a memoir. The memoir aspect has been virtually buried but every now and then it pops up its head and I shelve the book for a few more months or years, until I can make it go away.

For fans of Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones, it looks like the publication of a new type of Hoodoo book is in the works...stay tuned!

A special thanks to Melissa, host of Follow Fest, all my readers, visitors, newly joining members and long time supporters.

Monday, September 22, 2014

An Underrated Treasure

I've joined yet another blog hop. "Underrated Treasures Blogfest" is hosted by Alex Cavanaugh, who also put together the much talked about A to Z April Blogger's Challenge. Thank you Alex, for reminding us that our posts are due today. Sometimes I get oblivious and caught up in my own world.

When I first heard of this blog hop I got very excited because on the designated day, bloggers post about an underrated or obscure book, movie, band or a TV Show. What I like about this challenge is that it made me think. I went through my mental inventory of books, movies, bands and TV programs to decide which one to blog about and why. What did this particular type of expression mean to me and what could it offer others. This was a fun exercise in itself because I was reminded of the many hidden treasures I enjoy that could be shared. I will do so, each month, as the hop continues. You can see what other people are sharing by scrolling down Alex Cavanaugh's Blog to the Blogroll.

So there is an author that profoundly changed my life. He brought about a shift in my way of thinking, being and seeing the world. His work is transformative, mystical, metaphysical and shockingly terrifying. His was my first peek into the world of shamanism. There is debate about whether his work is fiction or nonfiction. I am not one of those people.

My book is "The Fire from Within" by Carlos Castaneda. He was born in 1925 in Peru. During the height of his career as an author, he was very well known--beloved by some and loathed, as well as questioned by others.

I came about his work with fresh eyes, as a young art student, years ago. His work was still circling around and talked about in the 70's. This was the early beginnings of the New Age. With time, people move onto other authors and books, quite naturally. I want to call attention to Castaneda, not just this book but his 14 others. Reading them, from the start, just might change your life.

His work centers around the Yaqui Sorcerer way of life. The Yaqui Sorcerers are able to see the wholes that exist inside of us, and manipulate them for good or evil, depending on their orientation. They are warriors of the highest order in the spiritual realm. They are able to bend and twist reality at will, even going so far as to alter their appearance by decades and transforming themselves into birds, animals and natural formations. Castaneda's books explore how he came into that mysterious world, which few outsiders encounter, and few still, understand.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tasting Memories

While it may sound unbelievable, when and where I grew up speakeasies were still in existence. I grew up in Southern New Jersey, what we call South Jersey, of Jersey Shore fame. As far as when, that rests with me. There were many fascinating things about visiting speakeasies with my parents, one of which is that my mother was learning to make her own alcoholic drinks. We went regularly to one which featured the white lightning of the owner and another featuring homemade wines.

My mother was a very idiosyncratic woman. She liked drinking the white lightning perhaps a bit too much. On the other hand, at the other speakeasy we’d visit, she quickly became captivated with the idea of making her own wine. From there, she went about going to antique shops, in the ‘olde’ town of Swedesboro, to find just the right crocks, as the vessel in which she’d make her wines.
To my untrained nose, her wine-making was a foul affair. What else could it be in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, so distant from what we know as wine country? Still, I saw care and love in her crafting of her simple country wines. She favored the local fruits, and though young, I still remember them, particularly her strawberry wine. Her wine-making stage lasted through my teenage years into college. She didn't mind giving me a taste every now and then for my opinion. What she didn't realize is I was tasting wine elsewhere, at parties out with my friends.

My palette wasn't educated, to say the least but perhaps this was the early beginnings of my wine tasting. Some may look down on fruity country wines such as those made with strawberries. Even at a young age, I could see there was a wide range in tastes in these wines. As I recall, my mother’s wine was at first sweet but then it took on a greater complexity.

I abhorred the sickeningly sweet, one note, cloying wines my friends would pick up. Her wine captured the smells that filled my senses on long car rides to town. Somehow she had picked out just the right strawberries from roadside farmer’s stands that while sweet, retained deeper notes that stabilized them. Most likely they were ultimately grounded by the earth in which they grew.

Her wine had something you don’t hear about a lot—it had heart, sprinkled with the depth and aromas created by the humus-tinged earth from which it was made. That fertile soil is what gives New Jersey its identity as the Garden State, yielding Jersey tomatoes and gorgeous eggplants. However educated I become in fine wines, my mind often wanders back to that homemade strawberry one created with love in simpler times by a person I love, long gone but not forgotten.