Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Road Trip: Austin   

‘Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” – Ann Landers

Photo from 2016 Stories from the Heart Conference with vivacious Debra Weingarten at the head of the table cheering us on. Sadly, she was missing this year.

My road trip to Texas, so far, had been a family thing, reconnecting with distant loved ones, and spending cherished time together with lots of hugs. My four-day stay in Austin to attend Story Circle Network’s Stories from the Heart Writing Conference was just as full of love and hugs.

Though not related by blood, I considered the other female participants – from  SCN  founder and award-winning author Susan Wittig Albert, whose published books are almost too many to count, to writers who were still hoping to be published – my sisters.

Without many of these women in attendance here in Austin, and other members scattered across the world, my own book, Travels with Maggie, would never have been published.

I first discovered Story Circle Network in 2010 when I saw an ad in Writer’s Digest for the Stories from the Heart Conference. I have not missed one of the conferences, which is held every other year, since.

I was on my second draft of Travels with Maggie when I first joined the organization for women writers, and was trying to give my book the voice which critiques said it lacked. In the first draft, I had tried to disguise that I was an old broad. Story Circle gave me the confidence to realize that being an old broad, and still having a zest for life, was the unique voice the book needed. And then when the book was finally finished to my satisfaction, and with the very generous help of SCN member Sherry Wachter, it was my SCN sisters who lent me their confidence to publish it.

To be among these women, my sisters, was every bit as heartfelt as being with my blood relatives.  The only thing missing was my marketing mentor, the vivacious Debra Weingarten, who sadly was in the hospital with terminal cancer. This award-winning author and publisher’s high energy, overwhelming love and always-upbeat attitude were missed by everyone at the conference who knew her.

It was important for me to hold Debra’s hand, and SCN’s beautiful new president, Jeanne Guy, made it happen. Together we skipped out of the conference to visit Debra, who was weak and soft-spoken as she lay in her hospital bed — but smiling through the pain.

Even as I write this, I can still feel Debra’s hand in mind, and her love and support for me, and for all of my other Story Circle sisters.

Thankfulness fills my heart for having found Story Circle Network, and such wonderful women as Susan, and Jeanne and Sherry and Debra, and all the many other wonderful women whom I now consider sisters.

I now serve on the board for the organization, and during a board meeting that had me staying over an extra day after the conference ended, I learned my worth.

According to Susan Albert, SCN had paid $450 for the Writer’s Digest ad that had caught my attention – and I was the only person who responded.

“It was a worthwhile investment,” Susan said. Of course, that made me feel good, but then that’s how I felt from the first to the last sisterly hug I got at the conference – and there were many.

Bean Pat: A Cat Story: https://windagainstcurrent.com/2018/08/18/the-cat-that-found-me/?wref=pil

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

Read Full Post »

  “If we are to achieve a richer culture rich in contrasting value we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.” – Margaret Mead

Clearly these figures located at the Chinatown Center in Austin, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Clearly these figures located at the Chinatown Center in Austin, Texas. — Photo by Pat Bean

What Culture? Who’s Culture?



            I found this week’s topic confusing. Culture has many meanings, and some of those I think depend on personal interpretations.

A doctor might think of cultivating a bacteria, while a farmer thinks of cultivated land. Are we talking about culture as being educated, or as how it relates to an ethnic group. Or simply an  everyday existence shared by people who live close together and share the same values?

The culture of  people who live by the sea and make their living fishing would be quite different from a group of apartment dwellers who take the train into work every morning.

Since I couldn’t decide what would best exemplify culture, I just picked a couple of photos to share that I liked and that I think represent two diverse cultures.

Bean’s Pat: A Record-Breaking Birding Day  http://tinyurl.com/bv7s7sv 294 Texas species in 24 hours. This one is for the birders among my readers. It’s from the Cornell University Ornithological blog. Anybody here ever seen or read “A Big Year?  Great book, good movie!.


Read Full Post »

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.  ~Vita Sackville-West

Among My Writing Soul Mates 

So many things I want to tell my writer friends out there about the tremendous amount of energy and good advice going on at the Story Circle Network’s Stories from the Heart Conference being held in Austin this weekend.

Austin skyline from Lady Bird Lake -- Wikipedia photo

Much of what I’ve learned, however, still needs to be digested, and practiced, before I feel I can write about it.

But Gail Straub’s keynote Friday night  presentation “My Mythic Memoir Journey,”  had a secondary significance for me. She spoke about her memoir, “Returning to My Mother’s House,” which is about her relationship with her mother.

 Sitting next to me was my own daughter, Deborah. Gail hit a few familiar notes with her talk and it seemed as if I weren’t  nudging my daughter, she was nudging me. 

University of Texas fountain, a familiar sight to Austin residents. -- Wikipedia photo

Gail’s talk was full of interesting insights, and came at a time when my daughter and I could both recognize them — and most importantly laugh about them.

The best thing about the conference for me is being in the midst of a circle of supportive female writers. It’s not that any of us, well among the many circle members I know, have anything against men. It’s just that our voices are different and it’s nice to be among people who understand female quirks, and the difficulty women often have in finding their voices.

I can say with 100 percent accuracy that this writing circle is the most supportive group I’ve ever encountered in my years on this planet. I can’t think of any place I would rather be this weekend than right where I am — deep in the heart of Texas with writing soul mates.

Bean’s Pat: Darla Writes  http://tomurl.com/77xu6pf  13 Tips From Writers. It seems only fair that today I should give a thumbs up to a blogger who writes about writing,

Read Full Post »

“The earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Wright's skullcap -- Photo not by me (remember I left my camera in the hotel room), and I'm not sure who the photographer was.

A delayed plane and a missed flight put me into Austin after 10 p.m. yesterday. It meant I missed meeting with a couple of old friends here in town, like me, to attend the Story Circle Network’s Stories from the Heart Conference.

Instead I treated myself to a nice strong Jack and Coke at the hotel bar, while I waited for my oldest daughter, Deborah, who is attending the conference, too  to arrive on an even later flight. I woke up this morning, thinking it was 6 a.m., only to discover it was 8 a.m., seeing as how I was in Austin instead of Tucson, where it was 6 a.m.

After taking care of a bit of business for the conference, four of us writing buddies, took off for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. When we arrived, I realized I had left my camera back in the hotel room, which was a darn shame because there were plenty of beautiful flowers to photograph.

My favorite was the Wright’s skullcap, whose blossoms reminded me of Darth Vader.

And that’s all I have to say today. While it’s just after 9 p.m. in Austin, it’s after 11 p.m. in Tucson and my body remembers and is telling the brain it’s time to go to bed. I think I will sleep well tonight, even without a Jack and Coke.

Bean’s Pat: Portraits of Wildflowers  http://tinyurl.com8ywkbd5  Standing winecups. Steve Schartzman’s blog is why I could identify many of today’s plants at the wildflower center.

Read Full Post »

The three figures on the right welcome visitors to the Chinese Center in Austin, Texas. I suspect each  statue represents something, but have no idea what. Do you know? — Photo by Pat Bean


“Assumptions allow the best in life to pass you by.” — John Sales

Travels With Maggie

My big adventure today was drinking an avocado milkshake.

Just the thought of such a thing when my granddaughter, Jennifer, insisted I try it, made my stomach turn. While I love avocados, I simply could not get my mind to imagine them tasting anything but nasty mixed in a milkshake.

Yes Virginia. There really is such a thing as an avocado milkshake. And it's yummy. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I kept saying I’d rather just have a chocolate shake during our hour-long drive from Harker Heights to Austin, where Jennifer, her best friend, Ellen, and my daughter-in-law, Cindi, were all excited about visiting the Asian market in the Chinese Center. All three are big fans of Asian food.

The salted duck eggs were a popular item at the Asian market. Photo by Pat Bean

While they bought such things as salted duck eggs, chow mun noodles, mochi and other exotic goodies not available in your regular supermarket, I contented myself with just a box of hibiscus tea.

The four of us ladies then had a Chinese Buffet Lunch at the Fortune Restaurant (good and reasonably priced) before Jennifer was back to talking about those avocado milkshakes again. They would be our dessert, she said, and her treat.

While a chocolate shake still sounded better, I didn’t want my granddaughter to think her Nana was a wimp, and so agreed I’d try her avocado shake. Jennifer bought one for each of us at the Lily Sandwich Shop around the corner from the Fortune Restaurant in the Chinese Center.

I have to admit it was quite tasty. Perhaps I should have bought some of those salted duck eggs, too.

Read Full Post »