Entry ways of New Orleans shops are interesting in themselves.

New Orleans – A Romantic City of History and Cemeteries

N - New Orleans
N – New Orleans

I love romance and traveling. With a long list of places I want to walk through and explore, I get excited when I get to mark one off. As a writer I want touch, smell, hear and experience the character of each place, the unique weaving of history and culture that can only be savored first hand. New Orleans was one of those places.

New Orleans Bourbon Street
New Orleans Bourbon Street

Well, maybe not so much the smelling — but if you stay away from Bourbon Street in the wee morning hours before they power wash the uh.. evidence away, you’ll be fine)

I was surprised how much I loved this city. I’m not a party kind of girl and when I thought of New Orleans I thought Bourbon Street and Madi Gras.

We stayed in the French Quarter and there is so much to do that doesn’t involve Bourbon Street that we spent hours walking around and of course you have to have a midnight snack at Cafe Du Monde.

Beignets and Hot Coco at Cafe Du Monde
Midnight snack: Beignets and Hot Coco at Cafe Du Monde

Shops, restaurants, bars art galleries are all nested together in the French Quarter. Neat little areas that can get over looked are all over the place.

New Orleans French Quarter
New Orleans French Quarter

You don’t even have to go in most of the buildings to enjoy the art work.

Art in New Orleans
Art in New Orleans

Art in New Orleans. A hint of Mardis Gra in a peaceful moment
Art in New Orleans. A hint of Mardis Gra in a peaceful moment. This is begging to be written as a scene.
Art in New Orleans - The passion of the dance.
Art in New Orleans – The passion of the dance.

You can't be in New Orleans and not visit George Rodrigue's Blue Dog
You can’t be in New Orleans and not visit George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog
You can't be in New Orleans and not visit George Rodrigue's Blue Dog
You can’t be in New Orleans and not visit George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog

There is enough in the French Quarter to make great memories, but how can you go to New Orleans and not explore the cemeteries? We walked to Canal Street and hopped on a Ttolley.

Canal Street where the street cars meet the edge of the French Quarter
Canal Street where the street cars meet the edge of the French Quarter

If you like more traditional shopping Canal Street (on the edge of the French Quarter and Downtown is full of shops.

We took the trolley to the Garden District and walked through the historical cemeteries. It’s like going through a museum. Which we did also. New Orleans has so much to offer we plan on going back.

It is worth staying in the French Quarter though…it is like stepping into another world.

Lafayette Cemetery No 1 - Garden District 1
Lafayette Cemetery No 1 – Garden District 1
Lafayette Cemetery No 1 - Garden District 1
Lafayette Cemetery No 1 – Garden District 1
Lafayette Cemetery No 1 - Garden District 1
Lafayette Cemetery No 1 – Garden District 1
Lafayette Cemetery No 1 - Garden District 1
Lafayette Cemetery No 1 – Garden District 1

Opposite of the trollies on the other edge of the French Quarts is the Mississippi River. It is worth the ride on the paddle boat as live music plays. (Skip the over priced dinner. Really,) As you head back to dock, the sun is setting over New Orleans – it’s beautiful.

Paddle Boat on the Missisippi
The Natchez- a Paddle Boat on the Mississippi
Paddle Boat on the Missisippi
Paddle Boat on the Mississippi
Downtown from the paddle boat
Downtown from the paddle boat

Christmas Past, Christmas Future: What makes it feel like Chirstmas for you?

I love decorating for Christmas – pulling out the pieces of history from my family and adding new for  future generations.

The first item that gets unwrapped (reading the headlines from the years past is fun too) is my mother’s hand made nativity scene. Once these guys are up I know it’s Christmas! They are about 12 inches tall and when I inherited them they had a few chips and dents – I hesitate to “fix” them. What do you think? Should I repair the chipped chin and broken wing?

Ceramic Wise-men glazed by Cindy Guinther in 1975
Ceramic Wise men glazed by Cindy Guinther in 1975
Ceramic Nativity scene made and glazed by Cindy Guinther 1975
Ceramic Nativity scene made and glazed by Cindy Guinther 1975

Hand painted stockings are added to the mantel and then the Christmas tree is next! A tree full of angels and memories.

Christmas Tree of Angels and Memories
Christmas Tree of Angels and Memories

Over the years four kids have added their school made ornaments and the gifts my husband and I have received from students get added, but between all the mix-matched ornaments are my angels. My mother started giving me one each Christmas. The last one she gave me has my name hand written across a banner the little clay angel is holding. Each one takes me back to years that can’t be relived but they can be remembered.

My husband and sisters have contributed to the collection, and of course I have the ones I couldn’t resist buying. Now I have a tree full of angels and memories and I love it. Sometimes I change out the garland with red or plaid ribbons, cranberries, cinnamon sticks with dried oranges, raffia and silk poinsettias or stringed stars. I like adding something new each year to the pieces from my Christmases past.

Tree trimmings with raffia, poinsettia and family memories
Tree trimmings with raffia, poinsettia and family memories

The last thing I do every year is add my great-grand mother’s white plastic reindeer. When I was five and she was in her last eighties, she let me pick one ornament off her tree. Being the five year old I was, I passed over the old style decorations and went for the shiny plastic white reindeer. I went through a phase that I didn’t like the little plastic trimming. Now it is the last piece I place on the tree – right were I can see it and remember a women I barely knew but loved me dearly.
nativity-scene-web-3
Do you have a favorite tradition or decoration?

With age, you s…

With age, you see people fail more. You see yourself fail more. How do you keep that fearlessness of a kid? You keep going. Luckily, I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself. – Hugh Jackman

In the A to Z blogging challange we have arrived to the letter  J….uhmm…what do you think comes to mind?  I know an actor that has the last name of Jackman.

Is that Hugh Jackman on my blog again? He really needs to stop following me.
Is that Hugh Jackman on my blog again? He really needs to stop following me.

Another J that brings me joy is Jackson Pollock – “I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.”

Jackson Pollock 1946 Eyes in the Heat
Jackson Pollock 1946 Eyes in the Heat

If you have never “dripped painted” before, you should try it…it really is a joyful experience.

Jackson Pollock Number 8 1949
Jackson Pollock Number 8 1949

Now that I think about it – the person that brings me the most joy is Fred, his real name is Jesus. Yes, ironic because that makes me think of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who I give joyful thanks for everything in my life. The word teaches us to live a life without fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

(self-control, really? – the whole eating habit thing keeps haunting me.)

What inspires you? How do you get past the fear to be the person you where created to be? Fearless?

Embrace the fear.

The writer Peter De Vries said, “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9:00 am every morning.”

Color Doodle
Color Doodle

We are all born with a creative brain. If you don’t believe that, hang out with some four or five year olds. The impulse control is underdeveloped. The filters of acceptable behavior and fears of rejection aren’t there yet in the young mind. This is why the creative genius, Picasso, said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

So how do we redevelop our creativity?

In the mid 1800s there was a movement that changed how the world would forever look at and judge art. Impressionism was incubated at Café Guebois. How did a small group of people accomplish this fete? By meeting together regularly, they challenged and debated the idea of art. They had heated disagreements over the “rules” of art. Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne and Degas were a widely diverse group of artists, but their creative energy paved the way for generations of modern artists. Steve Jobs said collaboration works best when ideas are met with brutal honesty and are forced to explore a deeper purpose. Sound like good critique to me.

Four years ago, I found SARA (San Antonio Romance Authors), and my writing has greatly improved because of their questioning, pushing and tough critique. They introduced me to other writers that changed my life.
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In June, for the last two years I have made my way to West Texas A&M to a writers week organized by the amazing Jodi Thomas and Tim Lewis.

Morgan Hysinger, Winona Cross, Matt Sherley, Linda Trout, Alexandra Sokoloff, Jolene Navarro, Storm Navarro, Deann Landers, Sheri Waide, MarilynTucker, Sherrill Nilson
Morgan Hysinger, Winona Cross, Matt Sherley, Linda Trout, Alexandra Sokoloff, Jolene Navarro, Storm Navarro, Deann Landers, Sheri Waide, MarilynTucker, Sherrill Nilson

The people above are superstars. For five days, we meet about five hours a day in a class led by Alexandra Sokoloff. This year bordered on magical. A full week of brainstorming, being pushed by this small group to find that twist in your story. The ideas are there, buried deep in your brain.
Side benefit? Lifelong friends that “get me” in a way no one else ever will.
Brainstorming in class.
Brainstorming in class.

If you want to be creative, you can’t let fear of rejection or ridicule hold you back.
Find people that help push past your first superficial idea and get to the imaginative workings of your brain. Whatever it is- art, writing, computer, finance, or building things- We are beings created to create, find that group of liked passions and discuss how to make your dreams come true.
Do you have a group that challenges your creative mind?