Picture Pick FriYAY: Enjoying The View

Sometimes I take things, people, places, in my life for granted. Yesterday I was looking out my window and I fell in love again with our yard. I saw the beauty of spring, and the vibrant colors that most days I ignore.

Can you see the waterfall through the blossoms? (“Waterfall” is a stretch, it’s actually a storm drain, but “waterfall” is so much more romantic.)

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I was thankful that in this small part of the Earth that we inhabit, animals are able to thrive.

Can you spot one of our resident ducks in the photo below?

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You’ve seen the view below in a fall photo series that I shared. Here it is in luscious spring.

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Happy FriYAY. Hope you are enjoying your view today.

-Rachel

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Finding The Magic

I’ve been rewriting and editing, and then rewriting and editing some more. I’ve had my picture book (PB) reviewed by three people and it’s been incredibly helpful. Elsie Goes To Work is so close, but I feel it’s still missing something. I think I’m leaving some magic out.

I wanted to keep you guys posted, but I don’t have much to report. I’m just looking for that fairy dust to sprinkle on my PB.

So, you know if you have any to spare (fairy dust that is), please help a writer out.

-Rachel

My Journey With God: The Abridged Version

I didn’t have a lot of exposure to organized religion as a child, and not much has changed in that regard since.

I was baptized Catholic and attended mass with my Grandmother on occasion. Nobody talked to me at mass although many attendees knew my Grandmother. I was a small child with not much to say anyway. I liked to close my eyes and listen to the choir and sing along when it was encouraged.

I didn’t know much about the bible. I knew the Christmas and the Easter story from the beautifully illustrated books that my mother read to me during the season of these celebrations.

Mostly I found God in nature. I was a student of John Muir and Ralph Waldo Emerson before I knew who they were. When it came to religion, in many ways I was a young transcendentalist at heart.

I would talk to God while I played in the river. Swallowing the icy, glacier water, I felt alive and awake in every aspect of my life. I felt clean. I opened my mouth and drank thirstily the holy water.  I thanked Him, I laughed with Him, I sang to Him the songs I remembered from church and a few I made up just for Him. I climbed onto the largest rock that over looked the riverbed below and sang Happy Birthday to Him every Christmas. It was our thing.

I ran along the riverbank. The hot, uneven stones beneath my feet were smooth and slick, but I never fell. I put all my faith in Him and He carried me over those stones, the wind beneath my outstretched arms. We laughed with pure joy and I felt Him living inside me and all around me. When I think back on our relationship then, I am awed by the power and sheer innocence.

Then Christian camp happened and that’s when I learned my worship style was “wrong”.

It all started when my parents announced they were getting divorced. Being the thoughtful parents that they are, they wanted to do something fun for me after the blow of the divorce announcement. So, they sat me down and explained that I would be going to “horse camp”. (With a little sprinkle of Protestant influence and activities.)

Cool… horse camp, new friends, learn more about God. Yay!  I thought it would be great, but I didn’t know that I would be a tadpole in a sea of well-versed Christian fish.

My parents dropped me off with my shiny new bible, a shirt that was an inch too short, and a bikini instead of a one-piece, condeming me as the next Delilah. A note on the shirt: I have a very long torso and this was the early 2000’s before longer shirts were made fashionable. (Finally.) My parents DID NOT drop me off in a tube-top and Daisy Dukes. Although with the looks the counselors gave me you would think I was about to do a strip tease on the hood of the General Lee.

The counselors snickered at my shirt and some of the other campers joined in. That was how my first day beganme pulling my shirt down every 30 seconds. Avoiding eye contact with everyone.

The next day at bible study I learned that I brought the wrong type of bible. First, my bible should have been in a more “used” condition. The shiny crispness screamed “Never been read!”. Second, I should have had a bible that was more learning friendly, not one that was so traditional. Then we were told to reflect on all the ways we could make our relationship stronger with God. That last part seemed fair, although a bit negative to kick things off.

Anyway, while I was reflecting and our counselor walked away to give us some space, I started to eat some pink huckleberries that are indigenous to Washington State. One by one, my cabin-mates began eating the berries too. Suddenly I was Eve in the Garden of Eden, leading my fellow campers to the biblical fruit of sin. Our counselor came back and scolded us for eating wild berries. I explained to her that they grew in my yard back home and I’d been eating them my entire life. (The poor woman thought her girls were all about to be poisoned.) We were not poisoned. She was still furious. I was officially “the bad kid” at camp.

My transgressions continued. I made one bosom friend who I adore to this day. We left everyone out. Our friendship was easy and we didn’t have time for jealousy or judgment. We would rather talk about the camp horses rather than who wore too much makeup. We clicked, and just got each other. The same kids who judged me also complained that my friend and I ostracized them. It hurt their feelings that my friend and I didn’t include the other eight girls we were forced to share a cabin with. They also loved nothing more than to point out our flaws. One night, I held hands with a boy that I liked. One of my cabin-mates spit at me that it was disgraceful and may as well have called me a whore with the level of disgust in her eyes. I laughed in her face.

For the first time in my life I was an outsider. I wasn’t liked. The counselors didn’t know what to do with me.

In my hometown, I had many friends and my teachers adored me. At camp, I was the bad girl. My twelve-year-old-self didn’t know what to do with the new camp version of me. Then, for the remainder of my stay, I embraced it.

I went back to that same camp a few more times and with every visit my “screw you attitude” became stronger. I didn’t want to feel the sting of their rejection so I ignored it and acted like their judgement amused me.

I wasn’t completely upset about returning to camp the following year. There were many aspects of the camp that I loved. The ocean was a short walk away. I adored horseback riding and taking care of the horses. I liked sleeping outside in a tent. I liked Christian camp for all the wrong reasons.

Every time I returned home, I was a slightly different version of myself. I felt God move away from me as I walked by the river year after year.

I know now that it was I who distanced myself from Him. I began to feel unworthy of His love and attention. I went to a camp that praised Him, but I failed there. Our relationship became more complicated over the years. The pettiness I learned at camp was just the beginning of our challenges.

My late teens and early 20’s were the loud years in my life. I didn’t allow any quiet to sink in, I couldn’t hear Him. I was in string of challenging relationship. I partied hard.

Then I met my husband and we built a peaceful life together. I reached out to God again, but it was difficult to find Him, even after my life had calmed down. The years between us weighed heavy on my heart.

I became pregnant with our son. I learned that bringing a child into the world strips you of all vanity and arrogance. Birthing my son revealed a depth to my spirit that I previously thought was shallow. When I pushed my son into the world and held him to my chest for the first time, I was brought to my knees and humbled beyond measure. Childbirth was the greatest force of nature I’d ever experienced. I cried out to God in gratitude, I felt His presence in every corner of the delivery room.

When I look at my son I see such bliss, love, and curiosity in his eyes. I see a sacred innocence that shinesthe same light that once danced in my eyes as I raced along the river shore. There is a spiritual light that illuminates children, perhaps because their tender years make them closer to that side of heaven. 

I watch my son race across the grass in our yard, his toddler legs moving as fast as they can go and my own feet are light again. My spirit soars as I chase after my baby. A familiar, but long-lost smile breaks across my face when my son looks back at me. My arms rise like a bird in flight, a voice whispers in my heart, welcome home.

-Rachel McKee

Author’s Note: I don’t normally talk about religion, politics, or sex on this blog. (You know all the things you wouldn’t bring up at Thanksgiving dinner.) But this essay kept coming back to me and it wouldn’t let me go. I had to write it down. I hope none of you take offense from my journey with God. I also don’t want to give the impression that I am against organized religion because I know many people who attend church and have deepened their relationship with God this way. This is simply part of my story.

Picture Pick FriYAY: Indian Creek & Moab, Utah

Looking back on these pictures I miss the Jurassic feel of the desert. I miss being on the road, the excitement and freedom of the adventure.

I’m glad I was able to make this journey before starting the adventure of a career/family life. I’m excited to take my family to see the South West one day.

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Have a great weekend.

-Miles

Picture Pick FriYAY: Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice.

This year we participated in the luminary walk that our little town sponsors. People walk the candle-lit path and reflect on their year and gaze at the festivities, the river, and listen to a band play Christmas carols.

It was peaceful and serene.

Winter Solstice

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Wishing you peace and happiness today and always.

-Rachel

Photos by Miles McKee.

Picture Pick FriYAY: Bookstore

I visited a cute bookstore in Snohomish, Washington yesterday called Upper Case Book Shop. I love bookstores. (Shocking!) The air hums and vibrates with the power from hundreds of books. Now that I’m writing my own book, I’m amazed by how many manuscripts actually make it to the book store. Writing a book is an enormous endeavor and then actually selling your book is an entirely different mountain to climb.

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I like to envision my manuscript making it to the shelves. Will I ever see it there? Guess I’ll have to keep writing and find out.

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Sometimes I feel so close to making my dream come true. Then dark thoughts cloud my mind and I wonder if I’m living in a fantasy.

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Bookstores inspire me. So many authors have made it happen, surely I can too.

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There is no time like the present. So I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep editing. I’ll keep dreaming of walking past a bookstore and seeing my book on their shelf.

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I’d love to hear about your greatest dreams. Please comment below if you’d like to share. Sometimes saying your dreams outloud or even just writing them down is powerful visulaization.

Happy FriYAY!

-Rachel McKee

Picture Pick FriYAY: Indian Creek, Utah

Miles captured these photos of the Indian Creek, Moab, Utah area while climbing with his buddy in 2009.

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Have a wonderful weekend.

Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS PROVIDED BY MILESMCKEEPHOTOGRAPHY.

200 Followers: Q&A

Here is the Q&A video celebrating 200 followers on Illuminated Literation. I hope you enjoy hearing the answers to your questions. I had fun writing my response. 

I reorganized the questions depending on topic, so some of your questions may be split up in different sections.

I want to thank the following readers for participating and asking me thoughtful questions:

Fab Writings

Paintdigi

The Lily Note Pad

Mystery Date With A Book

The Inked Autist

Evince

The Invisible Moth

Casey Fae Hewson

Cool Beans 4

Wind Blown Words

I Am Miradh

A Note To Huguette

Ben

 

While there are many edits I would love to make, life is too busy to nit-pick. There is one that I can’t let slip by. Ben asked, “Is there any work that guides you? Or a particular author?” I said the novel “Infamous” but the novel name is “Infandous” by Elana Arnold.

Here is the link to the blog The Daily Post. Look for their post called Community Pool. It’s a great way to make new blog buddies.

Thank you for your continuous encouragement and support.

Love and Cheers,

Rachel McKee

Picture Pick FriYAY: Lowell

Good morning Bloggers and happy Friday! These photos are from around this time two years ago. I was feeling the urge to be creative, so I took a photo walk around an area in Everett called Lowell. I think it’s really cool to see what kind of compositions we can find when we take it slow and look around. Now, having a camera with us all the time (phone) helps us look for photo opportunities all around, but a lot of the time I think we are in too much of a rush to stop and spend a few minutes with a subject that interests us. I am going to slow down and see what my eyes are drawn to this weekend and perhaps you will do the same.

 

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-Miles

#AmWriting

I have been focusing on my YA novel and the characters are starting to feel authentic, so that’s very encouraging. I’m trying to get the first draft written without beating it up too much with my grammar hammer.

I have been using Twitter more and I’m having fun meeting other writers there (hence the hashtag name for this post). I have also been learning Photoshop (see cover image above).

The cover image is a quote from my YA novel. I’ve been wanting to create images with text for a long time so for the last few weeks I have been experimenting with Photoshop and I’m learning a lot. I have experienced a lot of trial and error, but that’s all part of it right?

So if you are wondering what little ol’ me has been up to, well that’s about it. Other than throwing first birthdays, chasing a one year old, wrangling a dog, appeasing a cat, and attending a wedding.

Have a fantastic week!

♥R♥