Category: Love

Trip Report: South Africa, Part 1

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One of the many school visits in Qwaqwa.

Back in December of 2014 when I was presented with the opportunity to visit South Africa for a month this summer, I knew straightaway that my life would change. I did not return the same person as when I left. Something about me is…different. Before I left, I promised everyone that I’d talk about my time there via my blog and/or newsletter. I promised I’d share pictures and stories.

I’ve been home more than two weeks  and I’m struggling to put this life-changing experience into words. My emotions are too strong, I suppose. Perhaps I should preface with I’ve had my lion’s share of life-changing events in the past years. I got a divorce. I moved halfway across the country. I climbed to 14,000ft above sea level and actually enjoyed it. I got a book deal. I started graduate school…again. I quit graduate school…again. And I’m about to be published. Yep, me, published.

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Davida, one of our interpreters. I’ll never forget the day we said goodbye, one full of tears and laughs.

Led by three faculty, CSU graduate and undergraduate students visited Harrismith and Qwaqwa, South Africa for a month. We primarily spent our time with the South Sotho, people who grab onto your soul with two firm hands and give it a sincere, loving hug. I’m still warm with happiness from their big hearts. And I ache to be near them again. I’ve never met a group of total strangers who welcomed me into their lives with such excitement and genuine affection. How could anyone not wish to immerse themselves in that for life?

The South Sotho were victims of Apartheid. For those who aren’t up on South African history, I’ll give you an abbreviated version. The Afrikaans, Dutch folk who migrated to South Africa long ago, enforced Apartheid (which literally means “being apart”) from 1948-1994. What it meant was that the Afrikaaner minority forced blacks and other “non-whites” to live in designated areas of the country. Apartheid was segregation in the worst form—no interracial marriage, no interracial schools, no interracial sports, no voting for non-whites, etc., etc., etc. If this sounds familiar it is because the United States lived in a similar “segregated” world up until the Civil Rights Movement. And if Apartheid sounds awful, it was. From it, however, Nelson Mandela rose from the ashes of his imprisonment and was voted President of South Africa in 1994. So, yeah, positive change came to the country eventually.

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Get the camera out and the kids go krrrrrazy!

Shortly before leaving for our trip, we were told that racism still runs rampant in South Africa. We were told to beware. We were warned. I expected to witness racism. I did, of course. So, it’s no surprise that I expected the South Sotho to be distant. They could have seen us white Westerners in a very different light. They could’ve shunned us. Instead, they showed an outpouring of friendship that I have never quite experienced in the United States. Even now, I’m brought to tears thinking back on it, wishing that I could bring a piece of that scarred part of the world back home to Colorado for everyone to see and love too. Somehow I feel that if people could spend just a little time engaging with others from all over the world, forging bonds instead of separating each other by our differences, we’d cross physical, emotional, and historical barriers.

I will share more of my thoughts on the trip as the weeks progress. There’s too much to tell in one blog post. But before you go, listen and smile like I did when we were invited to a birthday party of a Zulu friend:

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Peace and light.

Abby

I spent some time getting this little one to open up and smile. After that, we were besties. <3

I spent some time getting this little one to open up and smile. After that, we were besties. <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Book Cover Reveal on July 27th!

Spiderman

Check it out! I’m all smiles today. Wanna know why? Nope, I didn’t just meet Spiderman in person or finally recover from jet lag after a month in South Africa. And no, I didn’t just save a kitten from a tree. Well, maybe I accomplished some of those things.

The real reason I’m smiling today is because I can finally announce that the book cover for THE REAPER’S KISS, A Deathmark Novel will be shared on July 27th! It’s beautiful and perfect and deserves a little love from you!

If you run a blog, etc, then please sign up here to be the firs to share the cover with the world: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1h-E4TEVeySZVnfrP9MNf2KptHSLcG7j2PBTpa2JPEw8/viewform?c=0&w=1

And if you just want to see the cover and ogle it, stay tuned. July 27th is rapidly approaching.

xo


So We Made a Movie

Quote of the Day

And by movie, I mean, a friend asked for my assistance with her film shoot.

I met a friend through my boss–a woman I adore. Since my boss recommended this person, I was sure the friendship would flourish. And it did. We started as climbing partners. Amidst one of our climbing sessions, she invited me to join her in a movie project, one where she spotlights the wisdom of the various women she has met in her life. She asked six women in their twilight years the same questions she asked girls between four to nine. What she put together is one touching (and humorous) compilation of the beauty and strength of women–young and old.

I’m honored to have a small part in this project. I look forward to the film’s premiere when we get to see the actresses finally meet. Even better, the proceeds will go to help women in need in Colorado. :)

Check out some of the highlights from this past weekend’s movie shoot.

The Stage Before Setup

The Stage Before Setup

Mr. Floppy, the Producer

Mr. Floppy, the Producer

Ready for the Actresses

Ready for the Actresses

One of our Wise Stars

One of our Wise Stars

One of Our Little Stars

One of Our Little Stars

Our Photographer Getting Some Direction From Mr. Floppy

Our Photographer Getting Some Direction From Mr. Floppy

One of Our Stars and Our Director

One of Our Stars and Our Director

The Post-Shoot Treat

The Post-Shoot Treat

With the Director

With the Director

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day


Meanwhile, in the land of 420

Crooked Stave

As the world knows, yesterday was Easter. It was my mother’s birthday. And if you have been living underground for the past year, it was 420 here in the land of legal pot. There was a rally in Denver which seems unnecessary. What are they rallying for?

Since I don’t celebrate Easter, yesterday was all about Mom. So at the crack of dawn, we queued up at this place:

Voodoo Doughnut

Voodoo Doughnuts

Now, go ahead and assume that because we went to a fancy doughnut shop that we partook in that 420 rally. The line for doughnuts was out the door and everyone, except for a foursome of college-aged girls with unusually vibrant energy for 7:30am on a Sunday, was mellow. I stand my ground that everyone in line was baked. Well, not Mom, Dad, and me. Had we been stoned, the rowdy college girls might not have seemed so painfully intriguing. Might’ve.

Then we went here:

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens

Colorado boasts a mild climate compared to where I came from (Chicago, bitches). Since the climate is kinder to humans and other living things, the flowers and trees at the Gardens put on a beautiful show for Mom’s special day. I fell in love with the Pasque flower which is native to Colorado and is soft as kitten fur.

Pasque Flower

Meow

We made a stop at Denver’s finest sour beer brewery and a rival to California’s Russian River, in my opinion:

Crooked Stave

Crooked Stave

And then a brief hike at Lily Lake (8900ft above sea level) in Rocky Mountain National Park was in order, a place where we saw two muskrats and lots of evil geese getting ready for spring. Mr. T climbed a boulder with me. He hates to climb.

Lily Lake

The evening rounded out with baked chicken, roasted asparagus in olive oil and garlic, buttered Parmesan macaroni (a family favorite) all prepared by yours truly, another Voodoo doughnut for the birthday lady, an educational sit-down with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and then a glimpse at Mars in the clear, night sky.

Farewell, friends. Back to the editing cave I go…


Thursday Music Moment: Eddie Vedder

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P.Ink and Sacred Tattoos

jessica weichers tattoo artist

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Some women who have these massive surgeries feel like they lost their “womanhood” and they want to put something beautiful over the scars to show they survived.

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For the past two weeks I had the privilege of asking tattoo artist, Jessica Weichers questions. This week, dear readers, Jessica has answered your questions.

  • I’ve always been curious what types of ink are available to choose from. Are there some that are ‘healthier’ than others? More natural, etc? Or is there an industry standard product that everyone uses?
There are many different brands of ink out there. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t even give an ingredient list… some, very few companies, have submitted their recipe and are approved in areas, like Europe and Canada. From what I hear the U.S. might be next. So, I stick with the approved companies. There’s word that they are making an all vegan line of inks but I haven’t heard much about it… just a whisper in the air at this point.
 
  • Can Jessica tell us a little bit about her involvement with P.Ink? I think this organization is wonderful!
P.Ink is something I got into when I was asked to fix a botched masectomy surgery. This client was very unhappy with her scars, so we made them into pretty flowers. She was so happy. She wasn’t afraid to take her clothes off again. And she added that she felt much better having a woman do it too.
 
It was really nice to be able to give that feeling back to someone. Some women who have these massive surgeries feel like they lost their “womanhood” and they want to put something beautiful over the scars to show they survived. It’s a much different level of a tattoo at that point. I feel like it’s part of what I can give back to women.
 
  • I want to know more about your Sacred Tattooing. That sounds really neat, but I’ve never heard of it.
The Sacred Tattooing is a much more energetic, holistic side of tattooing. I’m trying to bring it back to its roots. Tattoos have been around almost as long as mankind and it was done to represent a special time in someone’s life, like an achievement or a right of passage. It was special and sacred to that person. I feel with the popularity of tattooing, the process has lost that original feeling of achievement.
 
I have a strong pull toward the vibrations of matter, feelings and disease and as a result I have been combining this type of energetic healing with the use of crystals, breath work and meditation before the session. Some clients use if for deeper meditations, some use it to relax before a session, some to try and remove a block of energy. There are so many uses for it that I’m just skimming the top right now. I love doing it and my clients have really enjoyed it too! The world is shifting and a lot of us can feel it.
 
  • What do you say to people who want to get armband tattoos?
Hehe… armbands…. in the famous words of another tattooer “friends don’t let friends get armbands”…. that is all I have to say about that…. hehe
 

As Bugs Bunny says, that’s all, folks. I’d like to thank Jessica Weichers for sharing her time and passion with my readers and me over the past three weeks. Anyone who wants to contact Jessica, please visit her Facebook page. She regularly posts pictures of her latest work and updates with her whereabouts.

Thank you, Jessica. You make this crazy world a better place.

Namaste.

xx


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