Most folks living in North America learned about the Santa Fe Trail as children in school. Opened as a commercial route in 1821 by William Becknell and his party, the Santa Fe Trail grew to become a critical trading lifeline between Missouri and New Mexico. Our memories conjure images of pioneers riding across open country in covered wagons. Hollywood’s version of history also influences our perception of life on the trail. But it is the real experiences of travelers who dared journey on the Santa Fe Trail that I find the most fascinating.
Living in the Rocky Mountain West most of my life, I assumed I had a good understanding of the Santa Fe Trail and its history. I’d driven the byways in Southern Colorado and New Mexico often enough. However, while researching my upcoming historical fantasy novel, THE VENGEFUL DEAD, I came to understand how little I knew of what life was really like for the pioneers and traders.
Over the next few months leading up to the release of my book in 2022, I’ll be sharing interesting facts about the Santa Fe Trail and other locations from the setting of THE VENGEFUL DEAD.
If you’d like to learn more about the Santa Fe Trail and its 200th Anniversary (1821 to 2021), please visit https:/santafetrail200.org
Life is a journey. The imagery for envisioning our individual paths varies based on the unique experiences of each person. My path embraces the natural terrain of a peaceful forest. Patches of sunlight peek through the leaves as I walk, delivering warm positive thoughts. Of course, some stretches of the path are rocky. I’ve hiked through thunderstorms. My heart has been bitten by frigid snow as well. Still – I keep going. I know storms end. I have faith the darkness of night will be expelled by a benevolent sun.
Our journeys don’t stay on a single path. Life is full of byways and turns. Each decision we make takes us on a new trail. If we are wise, then we will use what we have learned from past excursions.
Encouraging Tips for The Next Leg of Your Journey
Reflect with an open and forgiving mind as you look back on your journey
Be Compassionate with yourself and others. You didn’t have the knowledge then that you do now
Let the past go, taking with you only the things that will aid you in future trails
Christmas holds beloved traditions for many cultures around the globe. Experiencing different holiday customs is my favorite tradition of the season. A few years ago, I adopted the German tradition of the Advent Calendar. I – being a techie – went for an online animated one recommended by a fellow techie.
Lawson’s Nordic village includes Scandinavian folklore and tasty recipes. My favorite piece of folklore from this year’s Advent Calendar is the Yule Goat. It has become the symbol for Scandinavian Christmas.
Fun Facts About the Yule Goat
Pagan Origins: Many believe the tradition of the Yule Goat represents the Norse God Thor, who rode across the sky in a chariot pulled by two goats
Swedish Beliefs: The Swedes believed the Yule Goat was a Spirit who traveled to Sweden prior to Christmas Day. The goat made sure all the Yule preparations were done correctly
Move Over Santa: In the 19th century, the Yule Goat rather than Father Christmas brought the presents. Father Christmas eventually took over the job
Hay Goat: The Yule Goat was traditionally made from the last batch of hay at the end of the harvest season
Big Goat: Some Scandinavian cities still build a Yule Goat from wood and hay at the center of town. These goats can be over 40 feet high
Each year I join a multitude of other book lovers in the Goodreads.com Reading Challenge. It’s a great way to set and track reading goals. I typically list my goals at two to three books per month for a nice round total of thirty. Sometimes I exceed my goals. Other times – like this year – it’s a challenge to squeeze in thirty books.
The benefits participating in this yearly challenge make the time investment well worth it. Here are my top three benefits for folks to try the reading challenge in 2021:
Encourages individuals to read when they typically don’t spend a great deal of time exploring books
Free and fun way to engage with other book lovers
Goodreads offers Lists for readers to discover new books and authors they may not have found otherwise
Here are my top favorite new finds from the 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge:
The Felix Castor series by Mike Carey – Listed in Amazon Genre: Ghost Thrillers. Felix Castor is an exorcist barely making ends meet in a modern, but alternate version of London, UK. In this world, ghosts are a reality and zombies walk the streets.
The Troop by Nick Cutter – Listed in Amazon Genre: Genetic Engineering Science Fiction. A Must – Listen to the audiobook! The narrator gives a John Malkovich vibe that really sends this read over the top.
Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo – Listed in Amazon Genre: International Mystery and Crime. I first discovered Harry Hole when he appeared in the 2017 movie “The Snowman” with Michael Fassbender. Harry, the lead detective in the Oslo crime squad, is such an intriguing personality. Nesbo has given us a clever but flawed main character. I can’t wait to read more in the series for 2021
Do you have book suggestions for the 2021 Reading Challenge? Let us know in the comments.
Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well. AND sign up for the 2021 Reading Challenge!
There are two types of Pumpkin Lovers – Savory or Sweet. Savory folks love the pumpkin in its natural state: pumpkin soup, pumpkin ravioli, and roast pumpkin. Sweet folks are obsessed with sugar and spice: pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I have a foot in both camps though I don’t enjoy super sweet food.
You’ll find a can or two of “Pure Pumpkin” (just the pumpkin, ma’am. Not the pie filling) in my pantry all year round. Considering my love of this versatile and healthy food, I find it odd how much I hate pumpkin pie. Yep. My least favorite Thanksgiving fare.
A Happy Holiday Accident
I decided to forgo my usual sugar-free Pumpkin Custard dish and make pumpkin pie instead for Thanksgiving this year. Why? Maybe it was sentiment for a childhood tradition? I don’t know. Turkey Day Eve I took out the ingredients. Our family recipe and the instructions on the can of pumpkin called for evaporated milk and lots of sugar. I realized I’d purchased sweetened condensed milk instead. Opps! Not really invested in the outcome, I found a pie recipe using sweetened condensed milk. The ingredients are simple: pumpkin, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin pie spice, and a pinch of salt. No extra sugar.
What a difference! The pie was delicious. I believe it is my new favorite pumpkin dish. I’m delighted by this happy accident.
Are You Open to Happy Accidents?
What about you? Has a habit or belief you’ve held for years been suddenly challenged? Rather than struggling to revert back to old patterns, try embracing new things. Be open to them. Meditate on their nature and how it can impact your life for the good and bad. Make a mindful decision before acting.
2020 smashed all perceived notions of success. Institutions we KNEW were solid suddenly faltered. Movie theatres closed. Even the Big Mouse started their own streaming service and releases its movies on that platform. I don’t see many near-term plans for traditional theatre releases.
So, what does that mean for your creative project? Will the time and creative energy you put into that novel, screenplay or other art go to waste? Let’s break it down to what we mean by “Successful.”
Financial – Simple. Nobody’s getting rich right now unless you own tons of stock in Amazon.
Conclusion – Everyone is in the same boat. No need to judge your progress by anyone else’s level of success (or failure). The pressure is off!
Fame – Globally, we are inundated with COVID 19 news, the American Presidency, and advertisements for early Holiday spending. Nobody can hear you right now unless you fit into one of these categories.
Conclusion – If you are counting on a huge social media party for your new book (or other artistic project), then there is a big chance you’ll be disappointed.
Changing Your Focus from Outcome to Fulfillment
In March 2020, I and my colleagues were told to work from home until further notice. The USA was on lockdown. We were all stuck at home. No face-to-face interactions with my readers. It’s very difficult to work in a vacuum. We produce art, but what if we don’t know whether or not someone is experiencing what we create? It has been frustrating and depressing. I wasn’t able to write much if at all during those early days.
The pandemic forced me to take a hard look at why I write. It’s easy to tell yourself you create your art for the sake of art. Then a horrible global event happens. Depression sets in. You crack open a bag of potato chips and lose yourself binge watching TV. The blank page stays empty. You no longer experience the excitement of planning for the next book’s release. No one knows if or when things will return to normal.
I can’t stay away from the act of creation for long. This time was different. I began to work on something new. It isn’t part of my book series. Nor is it in my “comfort zone.” This is a new story I am creating with no expected outcomes. I’m writing it, because I am a creator. I must create my art. It is who I am and what fulfills me.
Be kind to your inner creator. Cast out your expected outcomes for your creative projects. Now is the time to get back to the simple pleasure creation brings.