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Ode to Rivers

The currents of rivers run through my veins and resonate within me.

When I was a little girl, I fished with Grandpa on the Sheyenne River of North Dakota. It was murky and mysterious, but it gave up northerns (Northern Pike), crappies and bullheads to our cane fishing poles.

Growing up, my family lived only a few blocks from the mighty Mississippi River, which originates as a tiny stream in northern Minnesota. Yes, I visited the source, and walked across its rocky footpath, as many tourists do. Closer to home, as a teenager, I partied with friends on a piece of sandy shoreline.

For nearly thirty years, I lived near the meandering, rocky Snake River of Central Minnesota. We often went canoeing when the water was high on a warm and sunny day following a major rainstorm. Our destination was the St. Croix River, designated a Wild and Scenic River by the National Park System. The whole time we were in the canoe, we had to be on guard – watching for boulders jutting high out of the water or big flat rocks lurking just below the surface. Yes, we had a memorable canoe upset, but lived to tell about it.  

Now my home has a view of the Crow River, which has become my muse for countless photographs. And, in my journeys around the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, I frequently take one or more of the bridges over the Mississippi River. I like to nod or otherwise honor the waterway as I cross it.

Throughout history, communities were built near rivers, a source of water, food, minerals, transportation, and more. What lies below the surface is often unseen and unknown. Rivers are never the same twice. They change and erode, creating waterfalls and views of breathtaking beauty, as they serve as flyways for bird migration, and give sustenance to animals, trees, and wildflowers. They can also be dangerous and sometimes even deadly.   

As a person who has been blessed by my connections to such memorable rivers, is no surprise that a theme of rivers runs throughout my soon-to-be-published novel, or that the word River is part of its title. I am just one of many writers, artists, singers, photographers, poets and dreamers who see a river as a metaphor for life.  

Copyright Shelley Odendahl, 2019

I am so excited to tell you about my novel. Here is the book description I plan to use for my sales page when the book is published.                                                                        

Three Lifetimes, One Eternal Love

Vivid images from Diana’s dreamlife swirl around her and flood into her conscious mind during her daily life in 1972. Are the dreams memories of her past lives?

As Kari, she danced in a coming-of-age ceremony in a smoky, ancient cave, with wild animals painted on the walls. Captivated by flute player, Lor, they promised to love each other forever, but dangers of the prehistoric era threatened their plans.

Rachel, in the gold rush days of Deadwood, was mistreated by her drinking, gambling husband. She found comfort with Civil War veteran Sam. Was a future together possible?

When Diana meets Eric, a singer-songwriter at a local bar, something familiar about him, and a deep longing for love, connects her soul with his. Could his spirit be that of Lor and Sam from her past lives? Will they finally find happiness together? 

My first novel, Memory of Rivers: A Past Life Love Story, will be published this September. I’m so excited to finally bring my book into the world.

Changes to my website today will lead to new postings about the novel in coming days. I’ll be back with stories behind the story soon.

Themes for 2018

Happy New Year 2018!

Wishing you a very healthy, loving, peaceful and happy new year.

In keeping my tradition of themes (instead of resolutions or goals with too many rules) for the new year, I am revisiting my topics from last year. Except I gave them teeth and put them on steroids for 2018.

Live in a spirit of love and peace.

Personally… Love more. And show that love. How? I can bake bread and break bread with others, to interact in a warm and comfortable environment. Beyond my circle of friends and family, I will try to be open-minded, understanding and supportive of people whose circumstances are different than my own. And not forget people who are out of my sightlines. (Hello, Puerto Rico!)

Politically… Create peace and wellness. We need to make huge changes in the USA this year. For me that means finding new, progressive candidates to support, joining with like-minded forces, participating in everything available, from caucuses in February to mid-year conventions to an election in November. And I’ll keep doing what I did last year: donating to causes I believe in and sending opinionated emails to my senators and congressional representative.

Eat Healthier

Less sugar, more vegetables. Enough said. Just do it!

Write My Novel

I wanted to finish and publish it in 2017. That didn’t happen, for a good reason. I keep going to classes and workshops – which totally rev me up, I love them – and now I keep revising my manuscript. I’m convinced I’m writing a better book! So, I’ll keep learning and keep writing.

Have more fun and adventure

I’ll keep on doing fun and adventurous things as long as I live.

In previous years I’ve had themes that still carry through to my current life. For example, the theme of Vincent Van Gogh will always be with me. (Did you see the film Loving Vincent? Awesome!) I like to find and create recipes that become part of my cooking repertoire, and I still love swans!

On a final note, Faith Salie offered this take on resolutions inspired by art on the CBS Sunday Morning show. It inspired me! Check it out. And, please, share your comments about the new year. I would love to hear them.

fortune cookie

Years ago, I received a fortune cookie that I’ve read countless times. It resides in my bathroom, water-spotted and almost unreadable now. But I know what it says:

“Your love of life will carry you through any circumstance.”

Yes, indeed. It has helped me get through some tough situations, inspiring my zest for life. Just a few words that help me feel strong.

What else inspires me?

As a writer, workshops and the people who populate them inspire me. I love that my teachers and fellow students care enough about my writing to provide valuable feedback and suggestions. And so, I continue to work on my first novel.

Young women inspire me. I love their energy and authenticity. Letting their individuality show, accepting themselves and others. Embracing diversity. Making a difference.

Recently, I felt challenged by the task of taking notes and writing minutes for an important meeting. I made too big a deal about it, perhaps, but I fretted over doing it well. Imagine my surprise when, after the fact, I received two phone calls just to tell me what a good job I did! My perspective on the task changed. Well, maybe that wasn’t too bad, and maybe I’ll do it again. Thank you to people who take the extra effort to compliment someone. Hopefully it will inspire me to commend others.

There’s more, of course. But now, I’m wondering: what inspires you?

I recently posted this on my Facebook page:

I thank you and appreciate you, my Facebook friends.
Like many other people, I tried to keep my Facebook postings mostly politics-free. It’s not easy to do that anymore, because there are so many things going on, so many perspectives to share, and so much passion involved. I know we don’t all agree on issues, but I still think that diversity of thoughts and beliefs, and the ability to compassionately express them, are some of our greatest strengths as a country.
Even though many of my Facebook friends see things from a totally different point of view than I do, you haven’t dropped me and I haven’t dropped you. I don’t plan to drop friends who think differently than me, and I hope we remain friends.

I received positive support on this posting from friends at all levels of the political spectrum (in the USA). Many of us realize we likely won’t be changing other peoples’ minds: even people we care for, even with ideas we vehemently support or oppose. But we are in this big boat together, and will need to make landings together along the journey. We can keep our own ideals, while being courteous and respectful to others, while delivering and receiving matter kindly, while listening to diverse thoughts and opinions. Along the way we might learn something that will help us find solutions to our current problems and impasses.

I believe in sharing as much or as little as we care to about our political beliefs on social media, while bringing our authentic selves to the conversation. (As I say this, I truly appreciate I can do so because of my right to freedom of speech, and I recognize that not all people have this privilege.) Most importantly, we can make the effort to be respectful, even when we don’t agree.

 

Themes for 2017

The new year comes with hope. I don’t believe in a fresh slate exactly; most of us are in the same general circumstances as we were just a few days ago. But we do have an opportunity to take a deep breath of fresh air and reflect on our overall situation, with an open heart to new perspectives and a change in direction.

Here are three themes I chose for my own path in the new year:

Winter Joy_0002

A watercolor and new year’s poem I created a few years ago.

Live in a spirit of love and peace. I think many of us have this sort of mindset for 2017.  We look at the crises and challenges around us and wonder what we can do – how can we be an authentic force for creating the kind of world we want to live in? We may struggle to find our own solutions. I try to show my love to those close to me, and to support those I don’t know in different ways, such as donations, volunteering, and communication. I will provide more financial support this year for the organizations I believe in, those working to hold true to my values of peace, civil rights, personal freedoms, economic fairness, and environmental improvement.

Eat Healthier.  To me that means more organic vegetables, less sugar. I won’t go to extremes, but will take a more holistic view of adding food choices that support the needs of my family. I have gradually adopted this path for the last couple years, but I am ready to crank it up a notch with using my new spiralizer, shopping more at farmers’ markets and natural food stores, and integrating new healthy recipes into my repertoire.

Write my novel. While I have been working on this project for over a year now, I am excited to get more of what is in head and outlines into actual prose — words on the page. It is so easy to let other priorities and responsibilities in life come before my own personal passion. My intention is to make major strides in writing during the next few months, and to (hopefully, because I don’t believe in putting strong deadlines on my creative work) have my novel published in 2017.

How about you? What are your themes or objectives for this new year? If your intentions include eating healthier, losing weight, finding a new job, developing a passion or hobby, going back to school, or traveling more, my book, Realize Your Dreams: Create an Action Plan for Life Transformation has advice and inspiration for you. In fact, I intend to create a new action plan or two for myself.