Tag Archives: vacation

Until 2011

Hi friends. I am taking a bit of a hiatus for a few weeks to play in the snow with my family here in Montana. Normally, I respond to each of you because I consider you gifts and because I learn from you and because when we share back and forth, something always happens in the way of abundance. I wish you all a joyous New Years and I’ll see you back here at THESE HERE HILLS soon. I will be reading your lovely comments and taking each one to heart.

In the meantime, I’m still offering ad space to my blog readers for a special rate, so if you have a business you would like to promote here, I promise to champion you and to feature you here, as well as in my cyber presence. I know what it is to feel like you have something you care about so much and not necessarily the platform to give it wings. I’m happy to use whatever platform I have to help. Let me know here and we can email about it.

Stay tuned for my January HAVEN newsletter which will feature the writer Susan Pohlman, author of the memoir HALFWAY TO EACH OTHER. We will be writing about the subject of endings bringing beginnings. Sign up on the home page of THESE HERE HILLS, or on my website: http://www.lauramunsonauthor.com in the left column of every page but HOME to get HAVEN, and come here to comment and share with Susan and me.

yrs.
Laura

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Filed under Haven Newsletter, Parelli Natural Horsemanship Blog Pieces

Impromptu.

Sometimes my family just gets in the car and drives. First we are all silent, and sometimes grumpy. Soon, we are far from our lives and in the wilds of Montana.  That usually means that there’s no technology available. Quickly we are laughing.  Last night we spent the night at a friend’s cabin up the North Fork because that’s where we landed and our friend was generous. We played Scrabble and lay around in grizzly bear territory feeling thankful for the woodburning stove and the sound of the river and the roof over our heads and even the outhouse. I find that these impromptu adventures are always more pure than the best planned luxury vacation. I think it’s good to be thankful for light, heat, food, and a place to lay your head with the people you love.

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Filed under Little Hymns to Montana, Motherhood, My Posts

Personal Day

When is the last time you took a personal day? Mine was yesterday. I had just come off a few stunningly wonderful days in San Francisco doing readings. Readings are intense, especially with a memoir. People are hungry for messages of empowerment and appreciate vulnerability. So there is much sharing– something that I love and am deeply grateful for. But there’s so much pain in the world that I don’t see in my life spent here at my writing desk. In this time of sharing my book with people, I have found that I need to let that pain move through me as part of the collective We. To not let it get stuck. I don’t know how doctors and nurses and therapists and teachers do it, or anyone in any field where they are daily looking at pain. I have learned that pain can be our guide. My book is all about this. Thanks to people being so willing to share their own stories of pain and transformation, I’m reminded over and over of the freedom found in the present moment. That we need to breathe away thoughts of the past and the future and receive life moment by moment. That’s where the fear goes away. That’s where the freedom is.

To that end, the other night when my flight from San Francisco landed in Seattle, I did not get on my connecting flight home. Instead, my trusty little green roller suitcase and I marched right out of the airport, grabbed a cab, and checked into a hotel. It was like I was being pulled by something magnetic– as if I had no control. I simply needed to spend a day alone, and I did. I slept until ten am, and then roamed around Seattle for hours and hours– a city I love and one in which I lived a long time ago for some of the most inspiring years of my life. It feels like a city that is constantly in a state of expression, holding out its palms, full of gems. Here are some of them. And yes, I gave and received that free hug. Thank you, Seattle. I’m home now, better for having had a day with you. yrs. Laura

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Filed under Food, My Posts

Summer Lost (or Summer Gained): It's how you slice it.


I didn’t have a summer this year, and I feel sorry for myself. Maybe you can relate. Here’s what I didn’t do that I usually do:
Visit family
Go anywhere beachy
Garden
Ride my horse in the woods (cardinal sin)
Go to the County Fair
Camp
Go to the gym
Hike in Glacier National Park (a .6 mile walk to a waterfall and back does not count)
Spend more than a half an hour picking huckleberries
Finish the Bear puzzle on the dining room table with the kids
Read a novel or two ot ten
Watch the meteor shower
Take a night walk with the dogs, or any substantial walk with the dogs for that matter
Go to Canada, which is 60 miles north
Make homemade ice cream
Have long leisurely dinners outside on the patio
Eat lobster

Here’s what I DID do on my summer vacation:
I compiled this list yesterday because I was sick of beating myself up for all the things I DIDN’T do, and it reminded me that when you are launching your life’s dream and starting a business, you might suffer in the “Life in Balance” category. And so what? Sometimes that’s just the way things fly. So yesterday, I took my mind off my NO list and set it on my YES list, and I went to bed by the full moon last night feeling sated.

The below is not shameless self-promotion, it’s just a good exercise. If you feel that you too didn’t have a summer, you might want to write down what you DID do. And that includes just sitting in a room breathing and gazing out the window, if you didn’t have a high performance last few months. Let’s live in YES instead of NO. Let’s live in the SOLUTION, not the PROBLEM. For what it’s worth, feel free to skim the below:

Played tennis with my kids
Started a puzzle with my kids
Took a romantic getaway with my husband to see Michael Franti and Spearhead in Missoula, MT and had a total blast
Went to a three day horse clinic about centered riding and learned so much about how tight I am on a horse when I’m scared
Swam in the lake a lot

…and the following:
Social Media:
Took a hard core stab at understanding Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, Shewrites, and Blogher which is all mildly terrifying for this techno peasant.

Started “Daily Tips for Writers” on Twitter which I hope to make into a book one day, or use in a memoir about writing.

Regular Blog Contributor:
Became a regular contributer to:
Huffington Post
Parelli Natural Horesmanship Blog

Live Chats:

Awesome Women’s Hub.com on Facebook with Robin Rice

Penguin Watercooler

http://us.penguingroup.com/static/pages/publishersoffice/subcontent/watercoolerarchive/lauramunson.html

My Haven Newsletter live blog chat with Life Coach, Rossell Weinstein

http://lauramunson.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/haven-newsletter-2/

Contest:“Think Outside the Barn”– did a photo essay of barns, and their “real life” personae– followed by the “Name This Barn” contest and book giveaway. Winner to be announced Sept 12. People are having a lot of fun with this and so am I.

Interviews:
The Kathleen Show (radio and blog)

http://www.thekathleenshow.com/2010/07/31/laura-munson/

SHE Magazine– UK (glossy mag, December publication)

Inspiremetoday.com with Gail Goodwin (pending publication)

NPR interview with Sally Mauk

http://www.mtpr.net/program_info/2010-06-10-132

406 Magazine (Montana)

Q&A: Montana Quarterly Magazine

Guest blogger on:

The Traveling Writer

http://alexisgrant.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/qa-with-laura-munson-a-modern-love-success-story/#comment-3336

Drinking Diaries

http://www.drinkingdiaries.com/2010/08/18/an-interview-with-laura-munson-author-of-the-memoir-this-is-not-the-story-you-think-it-is/

Adhocmom.com

http://www.adhocmom.com/2010/08/taps-by-laura-munson-2/

Huffington Post– Arielle Ford’s Blog

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arielle-ford/write-it-and-they-will-co_b_660034.html

Published Essays:

“Dog Fog”– Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-munson/post_670_b_653067.html

“Rain Song”– Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-munson/rain-song_b_653071.html

New York Times Magazine “Lives” essay:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/magazine/25lives-t.html

Author Magazine

http://www.authormagazine.org/articles/munson_laura_2010_06_14.htm

Woman’s Day (August issue)

Pending Publication:

Shewrites essay
Parelli Horsemanship blog post (will be a montly deal)
O. Magazine South Africa essay
Life By Me essay http://www.lifebyme.com/ ebook by Sophie Cliche (includes Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Maya Angelou etc.)

Submissions: (waiting to hear)
The New Yorker (fingers, toes, eyes, and nostrils crossed)
Ladies Home Journal
The Sun
NPR essay to read on air

Summer Events:Read at the Whitefish Lake Lodge
Read at three private parties: Ridgewood NY, Millbrook, NY, Short Hills, NJ
Read at the Kent Place School, Summit, NJ
Read at a book group on Flathead Lake

FALL EVENTS:
Sept:
Co-hosting (or just plain being feted at) three private parties/readings: NYC, Hartford, Chicago
Reading at two libraries: Fairfield and Simsbury, CT
Speaking at a major Chicago hospital benefit
Speaking at the kick-off to the reading series at my high school in CT
Speaking at the Winnetka Bookstall– luncheon at a great Chicago restaurant

Oct:
Fundraiser for a San Francisco school– Burke School
Festival of the Book in Missoula, where I’ll serve on a panel of memoirists and speak seperately
Nov:
Miami Book Fair

Oh, and I got a book deal in the UK, (Little Brown) which I’m so excited about. Book to be published in April.

So why is it that I feel so guilty that I haven’t been to the gym, taken night walks with my dogs, ridden my horse in the woods, etc? I think we all could learn a lot by looking at our pro list and not our con list. I’m going to work on this. I know it’s not about doing. It’s about being. But sometimes we need to give ourselves a pat on the back for what we’ve done. And who we were doing it.

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Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

ANNOUNCING: "THINK OUTSIDE THE BARN" CONTEST WINNER!!!


May I introduce to you the…drum roll… “Confounded Sneetch”

Congratulations to E. Victoria Flynn of http://www.pennyjars.blogspot.com!!!
YOU WIN A FREE SIGNED BOOK! My kids (the judges of this contest– skilled out-of-the-barn thinkers) are die hard Dr. Seussians and have always loved this story about racial profiling, even though they see it simply as a tale about the pain and trouble that ensues when we live in a world of Us/Them. Thank you, Victoria!

AND THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED! Your wit and outside-the-barn thinking truly mesmerized me. I have some of the coolest blog readers around, and for that I am deeply thankful. When I started this blog a year ago and had zero readers (okay, maybe my mother), I never dreamed that I would find an audience out there in cyberland, and especially one so loyal and supportive. You all teach me so much. Thank you for showing up here at These Here Hills. The next contest will be announced soon… Hint: turn to page 301 of my book (THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS)

I’m going to be travelling in the next few weeks doing book promo in the New York, Hartford, and Chicago areas, so I may be thin on the blog entries… yrs. Laura

Hello, everybody. I’ve been having fun barn chasing this summer– which is how, at least this gal, deals with FINALLY getting a book published after 20 years and all that comes along with it. Better than therapy. Thinking outside-the-box as a practice is a total blast. I encourage you to try it. What designs do you see in the world over and over? For me it’s often heart-shaped things, especially rocks. But as a little girl growing up in Illinois, it was always faces in barn fronts. Living in Montana, there are lots of opportunities to engage this childhood fantastical thinking.TO THAT END:

I’m holding a contest here on my blog from now until September 12 (which my calendar tells me is Grandparents Day– seems somehow approriate).

To enter the contest, simply send in your best shot at naming the above barn in the comment section here on this post. Is it a celebrity? A concept? A country? A kind of sandwich? Let your common sense go and dream a little. It’s good for you.
The winner WINS A SIGNED FIRST EDITION copy of my book THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS. This contest will be judged by a team of highly skilled professional out-of-the-box thinkers: my two kids. (14 and 10. Girl and a boy, to be gender fair, but hopefully not ageist, as I’ll probably weigh in too. And probably my husband too– 44 years old, each of us.)

Additional opportunity for the extra outside-of-the-boxers: A signed book will also be sent to the person who sends in the best original barn photo and name…

Please feel free to pass this contest and link along to your friends. Imagine what could happen with a whole lot of people thinking outside-the-box and sharing as much. (Even if you live in the city, I bet there are barns in your life somewhere. If not, feel free to name any building that has a face to you and submit that photo. Could be really interesting…)

To get the out-of-the-box juices flowing, you can see what I did on my summer vacation here:

Kalispell, Montana (side-talker)

Valier, Montana (needs braces)
Belt, Montana (has braces)

Red Lodge, Montana (that mean Nellie Olson)


Lewistown, Montana (Cyclops, the 8th dwarf)
Lakeside, MT (Meow)
Evergreen, MT (Mrs. Havisham maybe better on a foggy morning…)
Great Falls, Montana (Namaste or Burl Ives as the snow man in Rudolph. Can’t decide.)
Whitefish, MT (Hannibal Lecter)
Chester, Vermont (Gerorge Washington and his wooden teeth 1700s barn from Amy)

Kenosha, Wisconsin (a literal face sent in by Robb)
Bartow County, Georgia (Rapunzel Rapunzel, let down your hair… from Lisa)
Bartow County, Georgia (Old Mother Hubbard–the face is in the cupola, her skirts below– from Lisa)


Proctor, MT (Dr. John.)

Proctor, MT (Jim Henson)

Lake Mary Ronan, MT (Tweety bird)

Somewhere in Montana (Little Red Hen)

Libby, MT (Baby Face)

Sweden (A Work In Progress from Terri)

Missoula, MT (Ghost of Christmas Past)
Arlee, MT (Fu Man Chu)
Polson, MT (Not the gum drop buttons!)

NAME THIS BARN!

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Filed under Contests! Win a signed hardcover of THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS!, Every Barn Has a Face, Little Hymns to Montana, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

One Week Vacation

I’m taking a week off to play with my family, pick huckleberries, get over some tunnels in my carpels…and just be. Maybe play with a horse. Get lost in Glacier National Park. Make my dogs happy.

Happy last weeks of summer to you all. Hope you’re giving yourselves the same. To that end, I’ll post a few old posts that nobody read a long time ago before all this whirlwind happened.
yrs. Laura

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Filed under My Posts

Inversion

inversion
Inversion
by Laura A. Munson

It’s lonely in February with just one woodpecker and a few chickadees against the grey. They call it inversion.
Our valley is flanked by the Whitefish Range—foothills to the Rockies– what in summer looks like a towering garden wall. Then winter rolls in from the Pacific Ocean and gets caught along its jagged edges; and we are sequestered here under a low ceiling of grey, from as early as October, to as late as June.
I don’t have the mind for winter much past the end of January. I can’t sleep that long. Day after day of this grey, socking us in, pressing us down, depriving us of vitamin D. I try to work with what is left—with what is not dormant. I become fascinated by paw prints—are those snow hare prints? Mountain Lion? Fox? I go out with a field guide and a ruler. Scat becomes a symbol of communion. Even the deer start to seem exotic. Crows, prophets. The raven, a mystic holy one.
I walk in insomniac circles in the snow to prove that I am alive. Is that the actual dirt of my driveway glinting through the ice? Does the pond look like it’s opening up in the middle—just a bit?
I force bulbs in my kitchen window, missing the wildflowers that
cover the hillsides from June on to the snows—the yellow arnica, the pink roses, the purples of the columbine, wild lupine and geranium, the orange of Indian paintbrush, the blue flax, and on and on until the violet of the asters. The bulbs in my window come up so wan, knowing they are decoys.
I become good with the mawl, splitting kindling, never enough in this undying season. Sometimes I split wood just to hear the echo. Maybe the woodpecker will answer. Maybe it will be a Pileated woodpecker—maybe there will be red in the trees.
It is fashionable to complain. I do not want to complain. I remind myself that it is this precise grey that keeps our valley free from over-development, our hillsides thick with Larch and Fir, Ponderosa and Lodgepole pine– not thick with the “rustic chic” of log-accented condos and private ski chalets. These are not Colorado winters bedazzled with sapphire skies and relentless “champagne powder” days. This is still the great Northwest; fertile and wet and dense. And grey. Perhaps that which is so fertile must sleep deeper. Longer.
I slap skins on my skis and hike to the top of the mountain, above the cloud level, just to see what has been procured for pilots and high-flying birds who’ve had the guts to stay. I strap on skis and climb through the grey to remind myself—my skin, my retina– that there is a color in this world brighter than my orange down parka.
The sheen off Glacier National Park is garish. Like a confection. The sun so sovereign. The sky so blue with infinity. My heart rises then sinks: How could we be so…neglected?
And I remember the gluttony of summer. Dipping hot feet into mountain lakes turquoise with mineral-rich glacial run-off, melting lotion into golden shoulders, waking with the birds at the exact blush of dawn, little bundles of fingers purple from picking huckleberries, emerald green peas in a silver pail.
Maybe I’ve got it wrong.
Maybe we are being protected from something that only the sky knows. Maybe the inversion is a great grey net, preserving us, somehow.
It looks so quiet below. Not sinister.
Yes, I decide. We are being preserved.
I breathe into the blue and slide back down under, and for a moment, as the world vanishes into vertigo, I feel free. Floating in-between acute wakefulness and sleep again; a part of the gentle hand of ozone covering us all these months, year after year.
And then it’s the valley again, cut off at the shins. The lake, a white footprint in the middle of it all. And again, I am on my front porch, chin to the grey, but I am thanking it now.
For however else am I to remember the welcome the wildflowers deserve?

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Filed under Little Hymns to Montana, Stories

Raven

Heart_Shaped_Rock

Raven
by Laura A. Munson

I know a woman who frequently finds hearts. In rocks, in the dish suds, in the shape of manure clods. She’ll say, “Laura! Come here.” And I’ll know that I am about to see some mystical arrangement of two curves, cleavage, and a point.
I know another woman who claims that whenever she begins a trip—in her car, on horseback, by foot, a hawk flies right across her path. “That’s how I know we are going to be safe,” she says.
I know a man who says that when he was a boy, his father told him that there was a magic place in the forest where there was a circle of trees. And if he could find it, and stand in the very center of the circle, he would get any wish he could dream up. So he was always walking around in the woods behind his house in northern California, in search of the Circle of Trees. He never found it. But now, as a man, in northwest Montana, he says that he cannot take a walk in the woods without coming upon a perfect circle of trees.
“Do your wishes come true?” I asked him.
“I’ve never made a wish there, actually. I just figure that the circle is, in itself, the proof that wishes can come true.”
I knew a girl when I was young, who was on the lookout for stones with perfect rings around them. “They’re good luck,” she’d say, squatting on the banks of Trout Lake in northern Wisconsin. She would pick them up faster than it took for me to imagine how a ring in a rock could have power; never mind believe in it. I wanted to believe—her bucket filling up with all that luck.
For a while it was blue sea glass. On the beaches of Lake Michigan. Green, white, and amber were abundant. Blue was hard to find. But not for me. Red was almost impossible, but I’d find red too. Then someone said, “Do you know what that is? It’s broken glass. It’s litter. Pollution. How can you find that beautiful?” So I stopped looking. Still, on beaches, I find blue sea glass. Put it in my pocket. Don’t tell anybody.
My daughter finds X’s in the sky. From airplanes. “Look, Mama. Another X. Isn’t it beeuuuuuuuuuutiful?” I don’t tell her that it’s exhaust from an airplane. She can find beauty wherever she wants.
Now, for me, it is the raven. Always a raven with audible winging, coming out of nowhere as if it is the same one, following me, flushing at my presence, performing its fly-by. It halts me. Reminds me to breathe deeply; say thanks.
My husband finds faces in coals. Usually late-night, around a campfire, when the fire has burned down and everyone else has gone to bed, and it’s just us. He is silent, staring. I know what he is doing. I leave him to his faces. I have never seen them. He says I look too hard.
I apologize to the coals. I assume I have not looked hard enough. I assume I should be the sort to see every design in all of Creation.
But I hear the winging; the raven being released into the night. So close I could reach up and let it skim my fingertips.
Breathe. Thank you.
I take a stick and poke into the coals, collapsing the faces I haven’t seen for whatever reason. I do not need to see faces, I say in my mind. I am the fire. The faces are me. I am not Narcissus of the fire ring. Nor an interpreter of Nature’s art. I do not need to see the designs as much as receive them when they come.
And still, there is the raven. And I wonder: are these things offered? Or are they beckoned.

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Filed under Little Hymns to Montana, Motherhood, My Posts, Stories