About kimberly b.

Wife, mama, friend, lover of Jesus and justice. Wannabe writer and farmer.

Solo

I’ve been talking about doing this for a while, you guys, and I’m finally here!

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Why, yes, it is a small, somewhat dirty hole-in-the-wall hotel room. You miss the point. I am BY MYSELF! I didn’t even realize how badly I wanted the solo time until I actually booked it. I figure it’s been about 12 years since I’ve actually gone anywhere (aside from the grocery store, sometimes) completely by myself. I mean, we were getting to the point of more freedom with the girls because they occupy themselves more and don’t need to come with us everywhere, but throwing a baby into the mix a decade later threw off the natural shedding and rebirth from the mommy cocoon. Also, since we’ve been married we’ve pretty much done everything of significance together, even without children! I almost forgot that I actually like exploring and being alone and feeling like I have the capability to make my own decisions. It’s quite exciting. I took the train northward from San Diego.

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These photos epitomize LA for me. I know I will have some haters, but I grew up about an hour east of LA and I never learned to love the sprawling, gray, dusty beast. I love big cities and everything that comes with them, generally, but in my opinion LA just did it wrong. I was happy to be on the train going through it instead of parked on the freeway.

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Past LA the landscape opens up into something beautiful. The stark coastline opens infinitely to the west, sparkling and blue and beckoning. This is what calls people to LA, really. At first, sagebrush and canyons scrabble and claw their way up the harsh terrain to the east, but as you get further toward Santa Barbara the landscape begins to give way to rolling hills. This time of year it’s a conglomerate of greens all thrown on top of each other, always softer around the edges than what I’m used to in San Diego. The above picture was taken just south of the City of Guadalupe, a small farming community just north of Santa Barbara.

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This is Guadalupe proper. I think I mostly love the train because you see the backsides of places and things that you normally would miss in a car. It’s really a beautiful way to shift perspective when you travel, and I didn’t anticipate this when I first took a long train trip.

I thought this would be a great time to just get some head space and to get a lot of writing done. In reality, I’ve spent too much time on Facebook already, and just wandering a little around the city. Tomorrow I am vowing to keep the internet off (except a newsletter that I HAVE to finish writing) and to make some art, albeit art squeezed into a day trip, squeezed out of my being at my request instead of organically. Sometimes you just take what you can, folks.

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#NationalAdoptionDay

I just found out that tomorrow is National Adoption Day. Seeing as how we’ve been flung (joyously but unexpectedly) into this whirlwind that is adoption, I feel as if I should write something about it.

Often times people think that adoption is expensive. We get that question regularly, and it was something that even we were in the dark about. When we became foster parents, adoption was NOT our end goal so we never even asked those questions. Fact is, though, that if you adopt through the foster system (at least in San Diego) it is FREE! Private agencies charge a lot of money, but not the county. I did a little research and found that throughout the US this is the case, though they can charge you small fees for various things like fingerprinting and background checks.

It’s not an easy path if you instantly want to have the promise of a baby. Usually the wait list for adoptable infants through the county is long, but if you are willing to take on a child that’s toddler age or older there is a huge need. There is also a HUGE need for foster parents, and this is a less direct way to end up with a baby. This is the route we took, though our end goal was initially not adoption. Fostering is an amazingly rewarding, guaranteed to be bittersweet and a little heartbreaking, experience that is not for the week of heart. I encourage you to check out a Foster Family Agency (just Google it!) in your area for good info that’s relevant to you.

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Our super cute, almost-adopted foster son checking out the scenery.

So, really and truly, you can adopt a child that is in terrible need of a forever family for FREE or almost free. You might have to pay for livescan and/or some other nominal fees, but it’ll all be less than a few hundred bucks. In fact, depending on the situation, you might even get PAID by the government for the foster care phase and even after adoption up until the child turns 18.

Wanderlust.

Winter time in San Diego. This was last January here in Imperial Beach.

Winter time in San Diego. This was last January here in Imperial Beach.

Winter is finally rolling into San Diego, as much as winters do in these parts. The air is brisk at night, the leaves blowing off the few deciduous varieties here by the beach. The daytime temperatures are still in the high 70’s, though, and the sky stays the clear blue of a robin’s egg. It’s idyllic, and I know this, but I can’t help the yearning I feel for a real wintertime. My spirit wants the smell of pine and the dry, clear cold that only comes on winter nights where it falls below freezing. When I started university in San Diego, I never thought I’d stay here past the few years it took to graduate. Little did I know that I’d meet my future hubby and grow roots here. The thought of digging up the little ones and taking them into the unknown is daunting. My blood is transient.

The truth is, staying physically put in the same monotony of every day life drains me. Ever since I married my spouse, I’ve been eager to pack it up and keep exploring. San Diego was supposed to be a pit-stop, nothing more than a baby step away from my parent’s home so I could begin to stretch my boundaries. So far it’s been a 17 year pit-stop, and I’m antsy. I can’t help but feel that we were meant to move, to be fluid like a river and reach our fingers wherever the the earth will take us. What happens when we sit still for too long? Do we go stagnant or dry up? This, I fear.

As the years have past, I’ve grown and changed so much, but the nature of my heart is the same. Exploration and new experiences are life-giving. I know that it will be painful to leave the community that we have here, but bittersweet. Technology and ease of travel mean that family and friends-like-family are always accessible. My kids need to learn to explore the world and to not fear the unknown. I know not everyone is wired like me, but new experiences make everyone grow.

We are not 100% sure, but I think we are going to make the jump sometime in the next year. We have been researching and praying for clear direction. We want to be somewhere where we can be doing something positive in whatever community we are planted in. This spring, we will make the trip to Detroit to check out the city and get a feel for its heartbeat. Along the way, we will check out a few other places like Kansas City and St. Louis, too, but we are feeling a real draw to the Motor City.

Check out the video and article below for some more insight and stats. Are you from Detroit? Ever been there? We would love any words of wisdom or connections to check out in the comments. We love community development and working with youth and have a good amount of experience in both.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/taking-back-detroit/explore-detroit.html

The case of the pending adoption

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I’m antsy. This week is the first big court date we have for our foster son. It’s the date where the court will decide if they should terminate services for his biological parents or continue. Really, it’s probably a no-brainer because they’ve been completely MIA since the beginning, but it’s still nerve wracking for us because it’s the first real step that brings us closer to becoming his legal parents. Man.

When we began this journey, we were sure we didn’t want to adopt. Our goal was to love on a child that needed it, to help them through a rough patch and to mentor some young parents along the way. We were pretty happy with our two middle-school-age daughters and our new found freedom as a family on the move. I was enjoying being out of diapers and bottles with kids securely in a good school. The thought of starting over with another baby made my palms sweaty. We had, however, heard that this was the way the cards tended to fall. When the foster parents really don’t intend to adopt, they come up with the adoptable kids. It’s Murphy’s Law. The parents who would love nothing more than to grow their family end up with placement after placement that gets reunited. The universe is funny like that.

So, here we are, 9 months almost to the day of when our journey began and I couldn’t imagine life without the little guy. That’s how they sucker you in. You get eased in by this thought that it’s not permanent, and by the time the option for permanency presents itself you are totally on board with the idea! In reality, it’s been a little bit of a roller coaster. You spend the first few months guarding your heart against becoming too attached, and then the inkling of the idea that this baby might actually end up yours presents itself. No matter how hard you try to protect your heart after that, you can’t stop the hope from wriggling it’s way into you. In the end, this case can still go either way. I’ve seen potential parents put all of their hope into a baby, only for that baby to be reunited or placed with a biological family member that shows up at the last minute. I don’t know how the cards will fall for us, but I know that in the end it will all be okay. I hold onto the optimism that God is so much bigger than me, and that doors open and close as they should. Life will inevitably march forward and we will grow, no matter which way this journey takes us.

Stealing Time.

I know I’ve been absent here for a long time, but I think I’m finally ready to come back. See, we signed up for this little thing that has been sucking away my time and energy, and I’ve been using it as an excuse for not writing. We thought about jumping into this project for a while, but we finally decided to pull the trigger in January and become foster parents. Yup, you heard right. Along with two preteens of our own, we now have a 1 year old baby. It’s been a crazy beautiful and intense 8 months, but I feel like we’ve finally settled in to some sort of rhythm. It helps to have the girls back at school.

I still dream of finishing a novel one of these days. Actually, I think I’ve finally found a way to help me stay on track! I bought a notebook and have been writing the traditional way, pen to paper. It seems like my writing time is always stolen between appointments, while waiting in the car, or on family trips. My laptop sucks, and honestly sometimes it’s just tough to be creative when Facebook keeps beckoning me away. Oh, you. You know what I’m talking about. Another perk to writing longhand is that I can’t go back and delete everything I wrote the next day because I think it sucks. It keeps me moving forward, and I wish I would’ve just started doing this a long time ago. I still think everything sucks every time I re-read it, but I am determined to make it all the way through the story line and wait to edit until I am typing it up. It feels really nice to be unstuck.

I started looking into some novel writing software – do any of you folks have experience with this? The prices range a lot. What are the things I should really make sure to look for? Any great recommendations? I am looking most seriously at Write it Now and Write Way. Also, still looking for a critique buddy…

Last thing for you all. Just came across this blog by Chuck Wendig and really like it! He’s got great insight for any aspiring writer, but he’s kind of a smart ass so avoid it if you don’t like sarcasm. I especially like this one and this one. That’s all for today, folks! Have a beautiful one.

New directions.

I’ve decided to cut the cord on publicly trying to putt through this horrendous story of mine. Actually, I’ve learned quite a lot! In no particular order:

First drafts suck – They are supposed to, I think. They just lay the framework for what can be a really great story with a lot of work.

Keep trudging forward – This blog has really helped me with that, actually, and I am continuing with my RTFD (really terrible first draft) without looking back. I just want to do it in private, before I embarrass myself even more. I have confidence that something good can come out of this framework, but you really have to have the resolve to keep on keepin’ on.

It is really difficult to translate what you have in your head to paper – This is where writing every day and practicing comes in handy. You only have the potential to get better at what you practice, and so many things are learned from trial and error.

Read other people’s stuff – Other books, novels in the genre you want to write, novels in genres you don’t care about, and any tips and tricks of the trade. You will learn something from all of them.

If you get stuck, write anyway – You can fix bad transitions and stuff later, in the next draft. Or the draft after that. I think it’s supposed to take many.

Stay optimistic– You CAN do this. No one may ever read it, but that’s not the point. If you want to write a book or anything else, the only thing that will stop you dead in your tracks is YOU, yourself. Nothing else is stopping you from accomplishing this.

Write everyday – even if it’s only a few words, and even if it’s not related to your “big” project. Keep in the habit.

Find a critique buddy -This will keep you writing, too. I need to find one who is willing to put up with me and has similar goals. Anyone game?

Thanks for listening! I will leave my terrible story line up because, the process, right? I will continue to use this blog for thoughts, insights and a collection of things I maybe don’t want to loose. Also, maybe trying out flash fiction, etc. This blog is about the process for me, and maybe it will inspire you.

Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day

I just don’t want to lose this. I am at work and can’t stay to ponder and read thoroughly, but will later! Hopefully you can get something out of it, too.

Confessions of a Creative Writing Teacher

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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There were fireworks on the bay that night. Christian contemplated the surreal evening as he watched the glittery embers drift and fizzle toward the ghostly city outlined on the horizon. He was so blindsided by everything that was happening that he was having trouble sorting through it. He couldn’t figure out if he was overwhelmed with extreme happiness or if he was gasping for air in the middle of a train wreck. Continue reading

A Human Challenge

Today I am following yesterday’s prompt from The Daily Post, which challenges us to write on anything we want for exactly 10 minutes:

I’ve held a conviction lately that we, as humans, aren’t supportive enough of each other. This sounds very broad, yes, but within it I’d like to create a challenge. I challenge you to donate 10% of your income to helping other people.

This seems quite simple and maybe even redundant to. Biblically, tithing is supposed to be 10% of your income donated to the church. Regardless of your religion, I challenge you (yes, you!) to set aside that 10% and figure out a way you can bless someone with it. How different would our lives look if we simply did this to help out our fellow humans?

Recently we got a bill from my husbands life insurance company. It was for a few hundred dollars, just to maintain our insurance in the case of his accidental death. This is the incident that really got me thinking. I could throw away that few hundred dollars to a huge insurance corporation with the hopes that I might get to see some of it in the case of my husband’s untimely death. And God forbid anything happen to me, because then we’re screwed. Or I can take that cash and donate it to some of my friends. I know that many of them are hurting for various reasons. One is going through treatment for Lyme disease. One just lost her husband. One is trying to save for an adoption. What would it mean if we, as humans, supported each other instead of insurance companies? Medical bills for untimely illnesses aren’t covered by any insurance companies, so anyone that is sick is guaranteed to have mounting expenses that they are probably having trouble paying for.

So, I challenge you this: Invest in each other. Bless people financially where they are hurting. There isn’t always a whole lot we can do to physically help each other, but sometimes money can take so much weight off of someones shoulders. Invest in each other, and have faith that if catastrophe ever found you, those people would rally around YOU and support you, too. I guarantee that the people in your life care more about you than any insurance company. Pour your heart into them and have faith that what goes around, comes around.

**GoFundMe.com and YouCaring.com are great crowd sourcing sites where many people with expenses that they can’t afford are investing their hope in fellow humans. Check them out if you like this idea and want to find people who need help!