Home, a bracelet and the Maasi

Maasi women (photo credit : D. Burrows)

Maasi women (photo credit : D. Burrows

Some of the joy of travel is when I return home and share the fun and stories with my friends and family.

On this trip though, it occurred to me that I really didn’t have a home to come back to. Not the kind of home that I had always had. This thought kept me traveling for much longer that I had planned and would take me around the world. It was in the space of time when I left the plan behind that I realized home is no longer a place, but resides in my heart. And the heart, while fragile, has an infinite capacity for love.

Some trips shape me. Some trips change me. Some trips transform me. Some trips have affected my family and friends. And sometimes, the stories I tell and the gifts I give have reached beyond those I know and love. Far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

This is the story of the bracelet.

Wherever I was, whether in the countryside on the outskirts of Melbourne, trekking the Himalayas, in the jungles of Java or on the shores of the Bali Sea, I had my eye out for little treasures. Unique gifts I could bring back for friends and family. As I was backpacking through the world, portability was key.

In Kalibaru on the island of Java I found and purchased a handful of beautiful handmade bracelets. For the next sixty days they would travel with me all over the world. When I returned to the U.S. I gave one to my very good friend. She loved the bracelet so much she never took it off. It stayed on her wrist as she journeyed to Wales and then to Africa.

The bracelet (photo credit: A. Burrows)

The bracelet (photo credit: A. Burrows)

And it found its way to a little village in northern Tanzania where a tribe of Maasai lived. The women of the village made bracelets to help support their families. The Maasai women surrounded my friend when they saw her bracelet. The idea of using different-sized beads on the same bracelet never occurred to them. The type of beads captivated them. The way the bracelet fastened was a curiosity. This gave the Maasai women lots of ideas about bracelets and their future designs. My friend bought one of their bracelets and when she returned home, she gave the bracelet to me.

And through my friend and the bracelet and the Maasi women, my home just got a little bit bigger.

So often in life we think that the little things we do don’t matter. We discount our influence or even our own significance, at times. But the biggest things we do can be the smallest. A smile. A joke. A well-timed call. A small gift. A simple treasure. The little things your heart whispers can bring so much joy to the world.

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Wordless Wednesday : Nyepi Day, Bali

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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday : Everest

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YA Storytellers “fireworks” excerpts — so hot they explode!

bookclub

I’m excited to giveaway a signed paperback to a random Goodreads commenter in the YA Storytellers Book Club Group discussion of Shadow Slayer. Click here to participate….

 

Cover for the paperback copy of Shadow Slayer

Cover for the paperback copy of Shadow Slayer

 

Click here to listen to the series playlist!

Here’s the “fireworks” excerpt from Shadow Slayer:

He finally slows to a stop at the last deserted bonfire. The couples gathered here when we first arrived are inside the mansion, dancing no doubt. Drew turns toward me, grabbing both of my hands and says. “You are the Shadow Slayer.” I’m not sure if it’s his torment or desperation or the fact he believes this shadow stuff with all his heart that sends shivers up my spine in the warmth of the bonfire. I swallow hard. “What’s a Shadow Slayer?”

“You’re the only human who can stop the onslaught, who can turn the tide.” Drew tilts his head as if he doesn’t know what to say next. “It’s sporadic when you’re new. Visions come fast. Some are to be trusted. It’s part of the initiation.” I miss his smile, the one he flashed in the cafeteria when our eyes first met. By the glow of the bonfire in the light of the almost full moon, Drew’s so much more than a ten, his hot factor. This simple thing, being caught in his golden gaze in the heat of the bonfire, makes me realize I’m about to believe anything he says.

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The land of the free and the home of the brave…[photo: courtesy Bryna Butler]

Where will your thoughts take you when fireworks light up the night sky this weekend?

For many years I haven’t been able to see fireworks on the 4th of July. So many years, in fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw fireworks. Fire danger in California played a part. Financially strapped cities too poor to put on shows was a factor. Over the past three years, these themes of danger and lack would unfortunately become forces with which I’d have to contend on a much deeper, personal level.

Tonight I thank the universe that I’ll see fireworks again. Seeing them with those I love is pure magic. Thanks for sharing some of your holiday weekend with me here at Laurasmagicday.

The YA Storytellers are all posting “fireworks” excerpts – so hot they explode! Reading excerpts from my fellow society authors – Bryna ButlerKasi BlakeHeather HildenbrandPatti LarsenQuinn LoftisLiz LongMelissa PearlL.M. PrestonStacey RourkeChristy Sloat and Suzy Turner is a fun way to beat the heat this holiday weekend. For more “fireworks” excerpts click here!

 

Dancing barefoot on the beach

Here’s a track from the soundtrack of my trip.

This song was playing at an open air bar/dance club just a few meters away. I was sitting on the beach in front of a bonfire on Gili Air with a group of new friends I’d made there. We were all talking about our lives. How they’d all met, where we might all be going. Laughing a lot. I traveled alone, but found I never was alone. It was the trip’s great gift, the company and wisdom of new friends. They were from Sweden, a guy and four girls. The guy and his girlfriend were very sweet and invited me to have dinner with them earlier that night. What struck me about him was how gentlemanly he was, making sure I had a glass of wine and that I knew everyone. Later that night I would discover the heartache he’d suffered. The gal I spoke with most of the night is an artist-yogi. A few Spanish gals and I would dance until morning.

My guru on Bali said in life three things are certain: Everyone will die, everyone will grow older, everyone will lose all that they have.

I hope to dance barefoot on the beach. Often.

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When you see the Southern Cross for the first time…

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Where have I been?

Around the world, in ninety days.

A research trip for a screenplay that was supposed to be five weeks long where I traveled to Australia and Indonesia turned into so much more. Thanks for your patience while I was away. I’m in the process of understanding all the changes that I’ve been going through and putting words to the experience. Surprisingly I’ve had no jet lag when I returned nearly three weeks ago and am instead working very hard on the screenplay and some film documentaries too. There’s so much to process. The trip was life affirming as well as life changing. You’ve been great supporters of my work and I’m thrilled to have you on this journey with me. One of the places I least expected to go was Mt. Everest, and as fate would have it, while I was there the worst disaster in the history of the storied mountain unfolded. An avalanche took the lives of 16 sherpas. They were family members and friends of the sherpas who trekked with me on the Everest trail. Sometimes stories come to you. This was perhaps the biggest story I’d ever been caught up in and it influenced my entire experience in Nepal, which started off as a humanitarian trip to provide dental care to “yakland” kids (children who live above 10,000 feet) some who are orphaned (due to the ten year civil war there) and some victims of human trafficking. This is but a small a window into one of the unexpected, but wonderful stops on my journey.

I haven’t updated my about page, because I really like the fact that I had written there that one of my dreams was to travel to Indonesia. And it’s so nice when dreams come true. I don’t think I’ll update it with my new dreams yet. It’s nice to savor and celebrate moments like this. *pops the cork off the champagne bottle* *pours you a glass* Now about that stand up comedy routine…

 

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YA Storytellers : *blushes* or yeah I d-id….

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This week for Fun Friday the YA Storytellers are dishing embarrassing moments. There are sooooo many to choose from for me. But the one that just cracks me up is the one that happened to me in Houston. I hadn’t flown very far, it was only a four hour flight. So I can’t blame this on jet leg or even exhaustion, I guess I could try and blame it on what I call travel haze. Overstimulation. Rushing. This thing and that thing on the mind. I was not quite where I needed to be CLEARLY.

See, I had to pee. Yeah. And so I did. Only, as I did, a very deep voice in the stall next to me said in a southern, very gentlemanly accent, “Ma’am, I believe you are in the wrong bathroom.” He must have seen my pink painted toes. You know those moments, the ones where you’re like, REALLY? It sort of hits me between the eyes and the center of my stomach at the same time and I alternate between wanting to laugh and disappear. I didn’t laugh. I remember that because I was so gobsmacked, as a good friend would say–it actually is the perfect word to describe how it felt for me. So I sort of doubled over on my half-naked self and swore silently. Then he added, “I’ll make sure no one else comes in while you are in here.” And my rescuer was a very wonderful man who asked me if I was okay. And I thought I was, but maybe deep down I really wasn’t. Anyway, looking into his deep dark eyes and seeing his white smile made whiter by his chestnut skin, I felt certain he was an angel watching out for me. A perfect stranger’s kindness is usually what meets my embarrassment every time. I guess fast friends are formed in the intimacy of being vulnerable, being human. And for every time I’ve wanted to disappear when I’ve been embarrassed, I’ve been given a measure of magic too.

Ginny, in Winnemucca, a small-town fairy tale has an embarrassing moment when she realizes she’s falling for the local axe-murderer…at least that’s what her best friend Lizzy calls him. Of course this happens the day she’s planning to breakup with Bobby, her fiáncee. Here’s the excerpt:

Clyde placed his murdering hand on the doorknob and took his

eyes off me for the very first time. He walked out of the stock room

but something floated in the air behind him and whatever-it-was

caught in the door Lizzy held open. I bent down, and freed the

paper, but it was just an empty toilet paper roll. I tossed it into the

garbage but when it landed on a pile of folded Pampers packing

boxes, I saw what I hadn’t seen when I held it in my hand––ribbons

of blue words.

“What’s that?” Lizzy said pawing my hand.

“Nothing.” I rolled it over in my fingers trying to make sense of the

scribbling. But, it wasn’t scribbling. It was, poetry. Even had a title,

No one loves you like me. Dated the day before.

There’s a circle, a spiral I walk

with dear Ginny

and a wish we’d never part

as we lift over our barbed wire sea

Ginny. Me. Clyde signed his name so hard it indented the

“Let me see,” Lizzy said. But I stuffed the poem in my apron like a

used Kleenex. Like it wasn’t the most enchanting moment of my

life––that a man I’d never spoken to wrote a love poem about me.

And for the first time I didn’t believe the rumors about Clyde.

Lizzy unloaded another box of shampoo and I peeked at the next

line:

The Devil’s rope around my heart

I wanted to know more about Clyde as desperately as I wanted

nothing to do with Bobby.

“Now, you girls get back to work,” Charlie said, all fake mad, his

forehead a sea of wrinkles, his tuffty eyebrows formed a V like a

Muppet. Tie Guy sighed, scribbling on his clipboard again.

“Anna knows where you are. Bobby’ll be here any minute,”

Lizzy whispered in my ear.

I rolled Clyde’s poetry in my fingers, trying to read every word.

“Let me tell Bobby.” Lizzy eyed the poem.

I shook my head, dropped the poem into my apron pocket and

grabbed Lizzy by the hand so we could catch up to Clyde. My cell

vibrated again. I searched up and down every aisle but Clyde had

vanished. The clocks on the new majestic shelves in aisle nine

weren’t running. I stared at them anyway.

“Why are you just standing there?” Lizzy asked.

Clyde walked past empty picture frames and table lamps.

He met me at the frozen clocks and leaned his mop against the

majestic shelves.

My cell vibrated again, and all I wanted to do was breathe in

Clyde’s big-sky, blue-eyed stare. My stomach sank knowing why.

My heart had Devil’s rope around it too. I held tight to Espy’s

“Lizzy Fairchild, to the register,” Charlie announced over the

Lizzy said, “Keep away from my best friend, Convict.” She threw

Clyde an axe-murdering gaze on her walk down the aisle. She

was a master at axe-murdering gazes.

I’d never really seen Clyde before. And right then he wasn’t just

one of the people on the edges of my life anymore, he was front

and center.

“Straddling the fence is the same as straddling the middle of the

road,” Clyde said, like he knew the ripening would seal our fates.

Like he’d been with me when my sleep went thin and I’d straddle

the open road. And there, in aisle nine, I fell for Clyde. It was

wrong. It was lousy timing. But it was real. My heart jack-hammered

and more than anything I wish I had the power to freeze time.

Thanks for stopping by. If you feel like sharing one of your embarrassing moments, feel free to comment and we can have a laugh together. Check out all the fun posts from the other YA Storytellers here. Have a wonderful weekend! *waves* from Indonesia.

 

Clyde placed his murdering hand on the doorknob and took his

eyes

Wordless Wednesday

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