Author Archives: cwesala

About cwesala

Author. Arizona. Published on Amazon and Nook.

Notre Dame

It is with a heavy heart that I sit here going through photographs, reliving memories, almost hearing the chime on a Sunday morning as I ate a lovely breakfast at a sidewalk cafe directly across the Seine. I videotaped it so I could remember the sound. I’m so glad I did. Notre Dame, as they keep saying on CNN, is much more than a building. More than a church. It is unbelievably stunning in architecture, its spire rising high, its Rose window gleaming, the flying buttresses giving it strength and dimension. I have walked along the banks of the Seine past Notre Dame dozens of times in my three visits to Paris. It’s simply “there” – and we thought – always would be. It was such an iconic place, one began to take it for granted and although I enjoyed the exterior beauty during my last visit, I hate to admit I can’t recall going back inside. Shame on me for taking it for granted that it would simply be there when I returned. Like so many things in life, we simply expect they will be there when we return. And yet, perhaps not …

We await word of the damage in daylight. Once the flames are doused; once they can get into the nave, we will know if it can ever be repaired. It was devastating watching the spire fall; horrible to see the steel scaffolding instead of the beautiful wood facade and roof. It will never be the same. It may be rebuilt and in twenty years if my children return, perhaps they will find a grand structure similar to the one destroyed today. But it will never be the same.

My first visit was with my son, the second with my daughter, and my third alone in an apartment for three wonderful weeks of walking the Seine day and night. I’m going to post a poem I wrote during that first visit and some photos we took while there.

 

      Notre Dame
I felt God wrap me in layers of peace
His presence clung to my soul.
Tears of what? – joy, sadness, love –
Clung to wet lashes, refusing to fall.
The Gothic arched nave, inches from heaven
Called me to its heights of marble glory.
The stories are told in stained glass windows
Their beauty unmatched on earth.
Rose windows absorb the light
Stone floors worn smooth by thousands.
Wood pews gleam with the oil of centuries
Faint incense fills my senses.
Mary holds Jesus in the pieta.
A marble scene carved over the ages.
A mother’s grief and anguish
A son’s death for each of us.
The immensity of the cathedral
Is far from stark or cold
For God fills the air with warmth.
And the hushed silence of the visitors
Allows me to be alone
In the healing of spirit
In the quiet of music
In the air fraught with substance.
God makes Himself fully known.
The beauty of Notre Dame
Stands starkly against blue skies.
Daring us to disbelieve.
Asking us to simply trust.
I stand in awe and quiet
I feel a presence clearly
I ask for faith and release.
Cwesala
Published in The Gila River Review – 2011

Why?

 

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Though the sign is actually promoting coffee, it had a special meaning for me this morning. Cancer (NOT ME!) – damned Big C – my 5th friend – this time a recurrence – now metastasized through her body – eating her from the inside out. Two adorable three-year-old grandsons and only in her 60’s.

I want to scream with rage, but the weeping won’t allow me that luxury yet. I race through the stages of grief as fast as the Star Was ride at Disneyland – spinning into anger – sadness – denial – acceptance – and back to anger. Rolling through emotions, unable to settle on one. And, really, who can? One emotion is no better than another at this stage. I only found out last night.

I think back and count the years. 33. Not the kind of friend who meets for coffee weekly or calls often. Not the kind who does monthly lunches even. But every few months – a lunch, a symphony, a party, and yet –

The one I called when my divorce turned ugly; when my teen daughter started using; when a relationship was destroying me. A listener, a hugger, a therapist, a funny, honest, direct and loving friend. Yes – that kind.

Grief spreads beyond her situation to wasted moments, months, years in my own life. Passes by my advancing age and the few good years left; passes by the faces of my children, my friends – neighbors; passes by my lack of direction, my reason to get up each day, my unfinished novel, my blog put aside for months.

She stands with me (or I with her) as we look into the same mirror – the mirror of future, of lost possibilities, of death.

I dissolve into sadness and sit with it ….

A Surprise Trip

On January 1st I sat at my daughter’s house purportedly watching her cat, but really just vegging out in a different locale to get a perspective on the past year. I began writing down things I want to accomplish in 2019 as well as places I’d like to visit.

The list read: Dog – Cat – Neither (I’ve been wanting a pet lately), Write – what?, Move or stay in my current house – Tempe? Gilbert? Trilogy again?

And then: Savannah – Charleston – New Orleans – Sanibel Island.

I had a text from a writing buddy and friend who asked if I was in town, so when I got home that afternoon I phoned her. What’s up? I asked. Would you like to go to Sanibel Island next week? she replied. My mouth dropped open in disbelief. What? I asked her to repeat and she explained the situation. Fully paid for, sister had to cancel, do I want to go? I thought for a moment, not believing this was happening and I fudged just a little. Let me check airfares. What are your flight numbers? I rarely make decisions on the spot. Ask anyone who knows me. So I went to the Frontier website and found her flights; checked the price –$50.00 each way plus $60 for my bag round trip. What??

Now I haven’t been to church in ages which I feel guilty about – but that’s another story. But I have been having conversations about some personal issues in my life. The feeling wasn’t déjà vu, but it was intense. Someone or something out there had read my thoughts on that paper. Sanibel Island – out of the blue? My life works this way. It’s just that I forget so quickly that it does. The trip was lovely. The place was beautiful. I got to see other friends who winter in Florida which was a treat. And we collected more sea shells than I’ve ever seen in one place. I highly recommend the island and the cottages we stayed in. Here are a few photos from this wonderful surprise:

 

One last note — I’m waiting for someone to invite me to Savannah and Charleston!

Count-down to Christmas, 2018

With 5 days left before Christmas and very few gifts bought, I’m posting an older blog post. That week-long trip to see family last week really put me behind.  But it was still nice to decorate and bake and put up the tree with my sister and brother-in-law. Plus we went to see a great presentation on The Star of Bethlehem at the planetarium and participated in Enid’s annual Candy Cane Cash event. Ha Fun times.

So here’s my blog from several years back:

For Christmas I received a beautiful quote I intend to frame. I wanted to share it:

“The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to the placement of each of us in precise orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives.”  Author — Neal A. Maxwell

Some call it synchronicity, karma, coincidence, kismet or a multitude of other words to describe how the world works. One thing I know for certain — the world does work. I have always believed that people come into my life for a reason. And I do not believe it is coincidence. Recently another close friend shared an astounding story with me – a story that most certainly supports my belief.

She has been ill for a few months and has missed a great deal of work; well over her allotted sick days. As her income fell to zero and her savings were eaten up with medical bills, someone she does not know particularly well came to her aid. He presented her with a check for an astounding amount of money to cover her upcoming procedures. She met this person through a mutual friend about a year ago. Their paths, most assuredly, would never have crossed. They do not work in the same profession and definitely don’t socialize in the same circles. But their mutual friend made an introduction that proved to be prophetic.

She has not cashed the check, and she may choose not to do so, but she was shocked that someone she barely knew had entered her life for a reason; someone loving and generous; someone who simply wants to help another human being. No hidden agenda, no care if it’s ever repaid — simply a gift at the right moment in place and time.

Look at the people who surround you, especially individuals you may have recently met. Consider whether you were placed here to help them, or if they were sent with a life lesson or a gift of love for you. In some of my darkest hours when someone has left my circle, I have forgotten to look back and appreciate the many gifts that person brought me during our time together. I’m trying to remember that God placed me in that spot for a very particular reason and that I need to appreciate even the painful memories.

 

Loving Meeting Readers

Fun few weeks meeting readers. I had a booth at the Tempe Book Festival and met some great authors and readers. It’s always nice when someone comes up to buy your sequel after reading the first. This past week I did a book signing and presentation at an “elder care facility”. The women in the independent living section were the greatest audience ever and had so many of their own stories to tell about the historical time-frames in The House on 4th Street. It was so much fun and I hope to do that again soon. In two weeks, I’ll be at the Mesa Book Festival. Great time to buy books for the holidays.

Busy fall as always. I spent weeks researching and negotiating on a new car. If you’re like me, it’s worse than having teeth pulled. But it had been three years on my lease so it had to be done. Finally, last Monday I got to the right pricing and made a huge change to a small SUV. Still learning all the computer technology. Ugh

Celebrated my son’s 40th birthday over several weeks. Our trip to Disneyland was the most fun ever! Thanks for that request, Michael. Now next week my birthday is on Tues., my daughter’s on Wed. and Thanksgiving on Thurs. Then we hit Black Friday, shopping and Christmas.

It’s like this every year. I complain and moan all summer that I can’t be outside. Then fall hits and it’s so busy who has time to sit outdoors and read? Ha  Ah, the joys of living in Arizona.

We’re headed to the White Mountains for a few days and will enjoy (hopefully) the cold weather and hiking and having a fire in the fireplace, and baking a turkey in a kitchen we’ve never seen. Yes, I have a list of items to take north with us.

Give thanks for all we have and think of the things we can do for others to make their lives better.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Fall is Like Heaven in Arizona

While my friends are turning on heat, watching the first snow, and bundling up in coats and scarves, I am basking in 70 degree temps in the valley of the sun. Only desert dwellers can appreciate what 70 degrees feels like after 5 months of what we call triple digit heat. (100-115 degrees F.)

The doors and windows are open. I can sit outside and read or have coffee or tend my vegetable garden. It is like heaven. People are climbing out of their houses for the first time in months, and it’s interesting to realize people actually live on my street.

Usually November 1st is our turn-around date. We drop from 90-70 overnight. This year, we’ve had California weather for the month of October with tons of rain and 59 degrees early morning. All I can say is “I guess I survived another summer in the Southwest.”

My book critiques came back from my beta readers, and it appears there is lots of work needed on this latest manuscript. Like most authors, I have tucked all their notes in a box along with the book and will revisit it when I feel I can face it. Revising is often a daunting task.

Meanwhile, I’ll be at the Tempe Book Fair November 3rd from 10-3 and will have my books available at the Mesa Book Fair on December 8th from 2-7 p.m. If you’re in the area, please stop by.

Sales are up considerably this month. Most of my author friends noticed a drought over the summer just as I did. And Amazon ads seem to be working as well. If you are an author, I can say for certain that the ads are selling my books right now. I didn’t believe it till I tried it. Last month I upped my “bids” for my sponsored ads and am showing up on numerous book sites (paid ads). It seems to be working.

Halloween is coming up quickly for those of you who love the holiday! Have a wonderful fall week!

I’m off to my lovely patio to begin Barbara Shapiro’s newest book which I just picked up this morning. The Collector’s Apprentice. She had me at the first paragraph when the main character appears in Paris. Love it.