The Overlook at Pump Gap

hot springs french broad river
Overlooking the French Broad River and Hot Springs

A few weeks ago, I went for a hike along Pump Gap Trail, just outside of Hot Springs, NC. It connects with the Appalachian Trail a little ways in. The first part of the trail, though, is a steep uphill climb to get to this overlook.

It’s well worth it – the views are just an incredible mesh of blues and greens that highlight the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I snapped the photo, originally in black and white. But then, I headed over to BeFunky to have a little fun. First, I  used the cross-process filter to get the blues and yellows. Then I applied the gouache filter to get the brushstroke effect.

The overlook? Wonderful. The image? Awesome. BeFunky to change it up a bit? Timeless.

It makes me want to make my own painting out of the original. Do you dare me to?

Here’s the original:

overlook pump gap
Overlook of the French Broad River in Hot Springs, overlooking from Pump Gap Trail – in black and white.

And now. It’s Wonderful Wednesday and it’s a link up. Anything you have that has something to do with the Outdoors is the theme this week.

Want to link up and don’t have a theme? You can still link up.

Before linking up, please be sure that:

  • you comment on at least two other blogs in the link-up
  • it would be especially nice if you commented on my blog
  • feel free to grab the Wonderful Wednesday button if you want to link up

Otherwise, have a Wonderful Wednesday!

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This Overload

red daylily
This red daylily is blooming brightly in my yard. I love the morning dew drops on it.

I went out this morning to walk the dog and I have all these daylilies blooming in my yard.

I hadn’t brought out my camera, so I made a mad dash to retrieve it, hoping my dog wouldn’t run down the road while I aspired to cater to my photographer’s whims.

These last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.  I’m excited about the Master’s degree.

But, there’s also a wistful, bittersweet side to it.

You see, I love all the stuff I’m doing right now, too. (This includes walking out into the yard in my flipflops and PJ’s to snap photos.)  Sure, there has been that element of loneliness in freelancing full time. It’s prompted me to want to move to the city in a big, bad way. I love the country and all, but I need people.  Even if I am a clark.

When classes looming on the horizon, I’ve been furiously thinking about what I’m going to cut back on, what I’m going to keep doing, and what I might have time for.

Well, taking 3 classes in three weeks, I’m probably not going to have time for a lot of extra things.  And wonderful readers, please bear with me: the summer classes will actually be the busiest time. Even when I return to school in the fall (as a student and as a teacher), I will have more time because everything will be spread out over the course of a semester. If I don’t make it to your blog to comment, please know I’m still reading as I can and tweeting your posts.

I’ve racked my brain to figure out my dilemma of doing too much: writing only a few articles a month for the various writing clients I have (maybe canceling them altogether), writing just a few articles per month over at HubPages,  still doing art, and photography, starting a new blog for Spanish teachers, creating a Teachers Pay Teachers store….


Whoa there, cowgirl.

I am WAY too good at taking on WAY too much.

I want to do so many things; I need nine of me to keep up.

It’s a chronic problem I have. I realize this.

As we drove to Waynesville yesterday, I found myself not wanting to think. I do way too much of that too. In fact, when I give my poor brain some room to breathe, that’s when it comes up with the answers I need.

I would do well to remember that – I don’t want to experience those all-too-familiar symptoms of burn-out.

Thirty minutes into our hour-long journey, after willing myself to look at the mountainside and enjoy the summer blooms, and NOT to think, IN popped the answers: how I would do it all.

And in a stream of consciousness fashion, it went something like this: hold-off-on-Teachers-Pay-Teachers-continue-writing-a-hub-here-and-there-keep-doing-photography-when-I-have-time-go-ahead-and-create-art-if-just-to-give-it-away-treat-my-writing-art-photography-as-a-sideline-like-making-money-from-a-second-job.


Blogging, writing, photography, art – I can do them all, but it will be when I have time, when they happen to fit in my schedule, and treat them as really fun part time jobs. They don’t have to interfere with anything else if I don’t want them to.

Plus, I should go with what I’m already doing: my poor store at Zazzle is growing cobwebs, though I’m selling stuff. (I love the internet for that, haha.) My Flickr account is growing, and my hubs continue to garner the views.

That’s what I did before: when I was teaching full-time last year, I treated my writing as a sideline and it was most enjoyable that way.

I have to do it this way otherwise, I will get an Overload and run myself ragged.

This last year has been so healing on so many levels and I don’t want to ruin it by taking on too much again.

This song from the movie Dirty Dancing came to mind:

Granted, it’s more of a love song, but I’m feeling the effects in that department, too.

I have to say it’s weird going off and staying in a dorm for three weeks (I do get to come home on the weekends) without my husband. That dude and I are best friends and we are incredibly close – even after knowing each other for 12.5 years. If he is my rock, then I am the paper, pencil and scissors. (You remember that game?) It’s cliche, I know, but it’s true for us: I like to compare us to two trees that have fused together, created a deep root system, and we reach for the sky together.

So, the Dirty Dancing video is perfect.

The last time I was away from him for more than a few days was when I went to study in Spain in 2005. I “lived” there for five weeks. I loved it, but I have to say, spending that time without my husby was…difficult. For the first two weeks, I cried myself to sleep each night. The third week, I was sort of getting used to the fact that he wasn’t there with me, but then the fourth and fifth weeks were filled with anguish because I couldn’t wait to get home to him – so crying myself to sleep every night happened all over. I mean, I enjoyed the Spanish culture, for sure, but it would have been infinitely more enjoyable if he’d been able to experience it with me.


I have some questions for you, the reader:

Do you take on too much? How do you combat it?

If you have a significant other, do you want to be with him/her all the time?


The Dragonfly

dragonfly wall decor
I recently completed this dragonfly drawing. It’s Sharpie marker on paper.

About two weeks ago, my husband and I were driving to go to my mother-in-law’s house. We had the windows rolled down and a few minutes after leaving, a blue and green striped dragonfly flew in and landed on the floor by my feet.

I looked down and saw its wings flutter weakly and then stop.

I asked my husband to pull over so we could gently put it into the grass where it would rest in peace.

However, after we stopped and I opened the car door, the beautiful dragonfly “came back to life” and buzzed away, on toward the stream and trees in the distance.

I knew that dragonfly was a sign.

I have always been keen on symbolism. Since I was young, I’ve always held animal symbolism close to my heart. Perhaps it’s my Native American (Navajo) roots, my love of nature, my love of all life (I can’t even kill the ants that are in my bathroom at the moment…), or all of the above.

But, I’ve always felt that animals – insects and creepy crawlies included – all interact on a level that we cannot see, and always have a higher meaning.

Have you ever taken the time out to think about what happens after you see an animal that you might not normally encounter in your daily activities?

For me, this dragonfly flittering into my car was the first time that ever happened. The fact that it survived was a miracle in itself: we were going over 40 mph.

I believe in miracles.

The hallmark meaning and symbolism that surrounds the dragonfly is change. At this point in my life, no truer symbol could characterize what I’m experiencing.

Because they exist near water, they also symbolize how our deeper thoughts are surfacing and that we should pay attention to those deeper thoughts and how they can be applied to our lives.

I didn’t know it then, but my life was about to change…drastically.

Right after this encounter, I happened to fire off an email to one of my professors I had when I was working on my Master’s degree back in 2010. I never finished it. I was teaching full-time, doing Americorps, teaching one or two community college classes and trying to commute to my classes in the evenings two hours away.

I wonder why I couldn’t do it all.

Yeah, I have a tendency to take on too much.

But, back to the point.

I had asked my professor about maybe taking some classes for professional development related to my teaching.

She immediately responded, saying I could do professional development classes later this summer, but if I did that, I may as well finish my Master’s degree. I could finish in a year.

That chance email sent me on a whirlwind of reactivating my student-status, cancelling my summer trip to Colorado to see my parents, preparing to spend an entire month in a town two hours away in (GASP!) a dorm, applying for financial aid – and having it ALL APPROVED – within 24 hours, and signing up for three classes.

I’m at once giddy and nervous.

I can’t believe how much life can change in a short time.

Changes for blogging

So yes, of course, I’ll be back to writing 25-page papers with alarming regularity in Spanish. I won’t be able to blog or write like I have been. ¡Qué bárbaro!

That doesn’t change the fact that I will always write, always do art, always create…and teach, of course.

The beauty of finishing my degree will actually give me more credentials to work with. I’ve been working on a book based on the Legend of Chocolate and I’ve finished the written portion. The next steps will be to illustrate it. After that, I want to create a whole complementary unit to go with it so that teachers anywhere can use it.

I want to do the same with other legends I know about: re-write them using my own words and imagination, illustrate, turn them into books and write units that go with them.

Granted, all that is going to take longer because of school.

Moving the other websites

I have two other websites: a freelance writing one and a my Sharpie Artist one.

I used to have everything here on this blog, but I moved them so that I could “go niche.”

Yeah, well. I’ve never been able to “niche” myself – not when it came to this blog. I need all my life’s stuff in one place. Mostly, because I need to streamline my online presence for the time being, and because I’m so inspired by Sue Dreamwalker’s blog.  She writes about her life, symbolism, art, everything important to her (and should be to the world!) and she’s got one beautiful blog. I can’t get enough of it.

So, you’ll see changes here: all of my artwork and writing in one place.

I’ve also created a blog solely for my teaching. (What was that about niche?) It’s not finished, yet, but as I write and create lesson plans and units, I hope to connect them with that blog and my store over at Teachers Pay Teachers, and of course, link it to this blog here.

If you’re a regular participant in Wonderful Wednesday, I still plan on keeping up with it, though for awhile, that might be the only post I do over the course of a week. And it might just be a photo or two. That’s okay: I just want them to be wonderful.

This blog, however has become part of my journey. It’s my little corner of the netverse and perhaps one day, friends and family will look at it and say they were inspired. 

I don’t anticipate ever letting it go.

About the dragonfly art…

The photo at the top is of a dragonfly I decided to draw after seeing the one in my car. It’s also going to be part of the art show I do at True Blue Art Supply in August. It’s Sharpie marker on paper, 18″ x 24.”  Cost: $200.

Here are more closeups of the drawing:

A detailed look at a portion of the drawing.
Another part of the drawing.

Yes, I’m still going to do the art show in August; I will have been home for a few days after my summer classes end to be able to focus on the art show.  Never a dull moment, right?


Wonderful Wednesday: Favorite Places

beach sunset
The sunset overlooking Pamlico Sound on Cape Hatteras Island
cape hatteras beach wood
A piece of driftwood at the beach on Hatteras Island


hatteras lighthouse
A black and white version of the Cape Hatteras Light House


cape hatteras sunrise
Sunrise on the Atlantic side of Cape Hatteras – it was really cloudy

You may have guessed that the Outer Banks are one of my favorite places.  Since I was there last week, I thought I’d share a few photos from that adventure.

Cape Hatteras is one of my all-time favorite places on the planet.  I might be “mountain grown,” but I can appreciate the beauty, history, power, peace, and ferocity of the ocean.

We return each year to the Outer Banks, but for the last two years, we’ve returned to Hatteras Island.  Last year: I was getting ready to transition to become a full-time freelancer.  This year: I’m getting ready for grad school.

This place represents change, but good change, for me.

I also had a great time taking artistic photos of this journey.

And It’s Wonderful Wednesday!

Link up your post.  This week’s theme, of course, is “Favorite Places,” but link up anyways if  you want to just hop blogs.

There aren’t many rules, but if you link up, please try to visit at least a few other blogs on the linkup so that we can continue to grow and get to know other people.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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Vacation: Perspectives

The beach.

Sunrises and sunsets.

A lot of reading.

I threw away my to-do list.  I went for my to-be list:  be present, be mindful, be still, be calm, be at peace.

black and white beach
A shell on the beach in black and white

I shared on Facebook last evening that vacation does wonders for the mind and body.

And the kind of vacation I did – unbeknownst to me – would end up being a game-changer.


Taking a Step Back Really Does Give You a Fresh Perspective…

As you know, I’ve spent the last year doing writing, photography and art.

And I’ve really liked it…mostly.

It’s one of those things where I gave myself permission to be creative.

But, if I’m entirely honest, I didn’t deeply enjoy this last year.

I felt like it was more like a self-imposed year of asceticism and…a certain amount of suffering.  Because I’ve mentioned it in other posts, I won’t go too much into it here.

But I will share that it sent me into a “searching” mode.

I was searching for myself: my true calling, what I was “supposed” to do, where I was supposed to be, why I wan’t progressing very much with my writing (at least I felt like), why I couldn’t seem to get it together to sell my art or photography more effectively, why I hadn’t gotten more freelance gigs.  Little did I know, those answers would come....

I was going to try to blog and write while I was down at the beach.  But as I was working under the pavilion at the campground on day 2, my laptop lost its charge and the only place to “plug in” were the bathhouses.  Ugh.

Plus, I had 4 kids who randomly came up to me, invariably surrounding me with questions: what I was doing, questions about my dog (who was sitting beside me), and they just wanted to tell stories.  They were kinda cute, actually.

I think I met Honey Boo Boo…

They were an interesting mix of kiddos: one looked like Honey Boo Boo (I think – I don’t watch that show), and the three other kids were from Mexico.

I sort of wanted Honey Boo Boo to leave me alone, I admit: she kept wanting to wrestle my dog and would complain loudly when he wrestled back and gnawed on her hands.

With the other kids, their faces lit up when we started talking in Spanish.  They lived there at the campground in their motor home with their mother and helped her during the summers as she cleaned, maintained and otherwise helped keep the campground looking spiffy.

Needless to say, I accepted it as a sign that I should probably “sign off” for the week.  I was on vacation anyways, right?  Besides, when I got home, my laptop had literally fried itself.  It had been on its last legs for awhile; apparently, the beach made it go on permanent vacation.

beach bird
A pelican on the beach…a perfect vacation.

Day 4: The Game-Changer

While building a fire and having taken two naps (!) and reading a chunk of philosophical books (I’m a nerd like that), my mind began to light up with possibilities for my immediate future.

You see, I recently blogged about getting back into teaching.

I didn’t know how much I needed it.  I needed the people, the interaction and the challenge of becoming part of a community.  I needed to sing, laugh, dance and wear sombreros for fun…I mean work.

Then I thought, I work part time at the school – with the possibility of going full-time as the school grows.

That gives me time to…finish my Master’s Degree. 

It was like my brain lit up.  I was thinking about how long it would take me, how I’ve always stayed in touch with my professors, and it would give me that extra authority I’d need when confronting educational leaders about decisions relating to language and development.  And, holy cow, I’ve been teaching going on eight years, with only a six-month break.

Then I thought about the ebooks I want to write, and the units I want to create, the Spanish-language blog I want to work on…

All of a sudden, this past year made sense: I left one frustrating teaching job that burned me out on teaching, but that would send me on a path of personal discovery, which would enable me to be open-minded about teaching in a spiritual community, and would ignite my quintessential passion for working with people again…which would then lead me to better myself with an advanced degree.

I immediately emailed my professor to tell her I was interested in continuing.

Then, I thought about more possibilities: teaching would allow me to continue writing.  On the side.  For fun.  With no pressure.


The Final Sign…

Yesterday, I went to a friend’s house who was having a garage sale.

Suddenly, one of the first professors I had while getting my Spanish degree (yes, yes, my second bachelor’s…I DO like school, dang it) walked up to me.

Do you ever think about the Law of Synchronicity?  If things are meant to happen, they align themselves to create the opportunity for you….

This particular professor hasn’t been teaching at the university where I’m getting my master’s – for at least the past five years: Appalachian State.  (Yes, that is pronounced: A-puh-la’-chunn.) ASU is located two hours away from where I live, mind you.  And she moved to Iowa to complete her PhD.

She just “happened” to be in town for a wedding.

I just “happened” to drive into Asheville – 40 minutes away from where I live – to go to my friend’s house – on a whim, no less – whom I hadn’t seen in about six months, anyways.

And we ended up meeting on her front lawn at the same garage sale at the exact same time.

My professor and I started talking about me finishing my Master’s and she looked at me and said, “you’re a third of the way there.  The rest of it will be a breeze.  You need to finish it.  If I’m completing my PhD, you can finish your Master’s and it will open a lot of doors for you.”

I stared at her, with my jaw hanging open.

What are the chances?

The Summer Institute is starting at the University two hours away on July 1.  After some quick paperwork, I may be deep in the throes of the mundo hispanohablante (the Spanish-speaking world) in two weeks.


Oh, and yes, that means there will be changes with this blog…I have no idea what this looks like, yet, and if I’ll really be in classes in two weeks.  I’ll definitely let you know.

Wonderful Wednesday: Awesome Pets

gray tabby cat
Ralphie was very interested in something. It was Da Vinci sitting on the stairs below.

This week’s Wonderful Wednesday theme is pets.  I’ve been wanting to share a few snapshots of Da Vinci, Ralphie and Pepe.

I know there are lots of cat lovers and dog lovers out there, so I thought this would be a great theme.

For once, this is going to be a “photo” post and I’m not going to have too many words.  Check out the bottom of the post for more information on this blog hop and link up if you want to participate.

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!



black cat
Pepe the cat sitting on my car.
black lab white spots
Another shot of Da Vinci – I thought this looked neat with the green plants growing everywhere.
black labrador
Da Vinci posing. His eyes are incredible in this shot.
black shorthaired cat
My black cat Pepe sitting on my car. He just got finished rolling around in the dirt.
black dog staring
Da Vinci in black and white. His fur almost looks gray because it’s so shiny.
tabby cat looking up
Ralphie – don’t his eyes look awesome?

It’s another Wednesday – a Wonderful one at that!

What is the Wonderful Wednesday blog hop?

It all works much like Wordless Wednesday but I wanted the added thrill of a theme to help all fellow bloggers push their photography muscles and try new things.

You can participate in the weekly theme, or not – it’s up to you.

If you do link up, please take a few moments and visit one, two or several blogs in the hop – this is not to add “rules,” but part of the reason for a blog hop is that you get to meet and see about other bloggers.  So have some fun!

If you’re participating and want to grab a button, feel free to do so – the buttons for this blog are in the sidebar, or you can just copy this image:

And don’t forget to link up.  🙂

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Going on a Beach Retreat

Once a year, my husband and I head to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

It’s our beach retreat.

We always go camping.  We love to camp.

But yes, this week I’ll be blogging from the beach.  This is one of the reasons I love what I do: between teaching and blogging, I can go on retreat.  Though I will admit that this post and Wednesday’s post are pre-scheduled.  I thought I’d leave Friday or Saturday’s blog post up to whatever inspires me.

However, I consider myself to still be a budding entrepreneur, so I still plan on blogging, at least somewhat – you know, a “maintain the business” sort of thing.  Please forgive me ahead of time if I don’t return comments on your blog; I’ll catch up when I get home.

The Importance of Going on a Retreat

mountain retreat
A retreat center in western North Carolina

Just the act of getting away, and not scheduling events and having things to do up the wazoo, can be very uplifting.

It gives you a break from the routine.

Going on a retreat can help replenish your energy and can center you.

This is why my husband and I return to the Outer Banks every year.  Yes, it’s growing up, but it’s not very commercialized.  No chain stores, and if there’s a fast food restaurant, I think it’s just as you reach Manteo.  Once you’re on Highway 12, there’s stuff, but it’s unique, local, small-town stuff.  God, I love that.

It’s always a rather relaxing affair: we plan our meals, cook on the grill or the campstoves, have a large tent to spread out, a gazebo with a bug screen that pops up, an air mattress for some comfort and extra wood for sitting by the fire.  I love reducing our lives from the complexities of modern life to the simplicities of the laid-back beach life.

We go on beach walks, visit lighthouses, fly our kite that we got in Kill Devil Hills (in the Outer Banks) years ago, ride our bikes into town to the little store, check out a few local restaurants, play Frisbee on the beach, check out museums, read, write, sleep – basically, whatever we feel like doing.

Last year, we found a campground that is a step-up from the state campgrounds: it has warm showers, wi-fi, a recreation center and it’s next to a slow-moving waterway.  That means that it’s got a lot of algae and green matter sitting on the water.  That makes it especially appealing for turtles.  They sun on exposed tree logs or sandbars in large groups – five or ten at a time.  I have no idea what a group of turtles is called.  They’re not flocks, or schools, herds, or anything else I can think of.  Do you know?

We look forward to this every year.  Perhaps some day we’ll upgrade to some kind of camper, but I don’t know if we’ll ever rent a beach house.  It kind of takes the simplicity factor out of it.  At least for us it does.

black line

Going on a Spiritual Retreat

This last year has been one of such intense spiritual growth for me.

I think it’s only fitting that I incorporate elements of a spiritual retreat into this adventure.

I’m not exactly sure what it will all look like, but I can assure you that I will come back with TONS of ideas for future posts.  They’re already starting to sprout like dandelions in my head.

Some ideas I have to make this like a spiritual retreat:

  • going with my husband on silent walks 
  • studying the stars at night
  • taking time to write inspirational notes to each other
  • meditating on the beach (of COURSE when no one’s looking)
  • setting out intentions for the day, as in, having a “to be” list and not a “to do” list: being present, being peaceful, being gracious, being generous, etc.
  • reading inspirational books
  • taking time to do art (this is actually for work, but the act of doing art is a meditative practice)
  • engage in storytelling around the fire

Inspirational Books

This is a week-long retreat, so I can’t say I’m going to get TONS of reading done.  After all, I have to try to perfect my sunburn…er…suntan at the beach.  Haha.  Who am I kidding?  I did not inherit my mother’s darker olive skin; I’m the lucky benefactor of Spanish genes…those Europeans are so dang fair-skinned (historically speaking…you know…when thousands and thousands of years ago there were ice ages and they were figuring out how to hunt and gather for food, still).

Already, I have The Art of Happiness  by the Dalai Lama and Love in Action by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Oh and I have a dog-training book I’m reading over.  I want my Da Vinci to be the best well-behaved dog, ever.  So I can take him to work with me.  And so he can go to work with my husband.  Or anywhere dogs are allowed.

And of course, I really need to finish reading Melanie’s book, start Yvonne’s and Stacy’s books.

But all in good time.  I’m resolving to be okay with whatever happens this week: if I get a lot of reading done, great.  If not, then great.  Same with blogging.  Same with everything else.

I’m going to let my heart and soul guide me in my activities this week.

And I can’t wait to cook my famous vegetable soup in the Dutch Oven.

Are you planning a retreat?  Let me know in the comments.

I’m thinking it would be cool to host a mini-retreat as a Google hangout sometime.  Or, have people come up to the living retreat that is my house.  Or coordinate retreats elsewhere for women, or people wanting a spiritual retreat.  Now that is some interesting food for thought.