Thanks so much for being here and making Four Days A Week
a special place since March 15, 2010. Although today's post marks the closing of my Monday Musings blog
, the spirit of following our dreams and doing what we love lives on.
Stepping out into the sun and on a different path. Come. Take a walk with me. Let's go to my new home online at www.miatstarr.com
~ where I'm building a treasure chest of moments, musings, and inspiration from behind and beyond my desk, sharing and creating.
To my regular readers, or perhaps those just passing through, here's to a wonderful year following your dreams. May each step forward be filled with unforgettable moments, inspiration, and joy.
It's a new day. Dare to reach beyond your grasp. I hope to see you out there. And for those days when you need a little lift and inspiration, or a room with a view, please stop by my home. The door is open
Do. Dream. Believe.
The sun is rising.
The ocean is speaking.
The moon is dreaming.
* THE MOMENTS BEHIND THE PHOTOS ABOVE
(sun, ocean, moon, and wind from top to bottom)—Mia at the Shadowcliff
in Grand Lake, Colorado for the 13th Annual Lighthouse Writers Retreat in 2010. She steps out to meet the sun. * Stephen Lloyd Webber
(Mia's fantastic writing teacher at the Writing Immersion Retreat in Tuscany
in 2011 and 2012) shares a breathtaking photo of the ocean near Heaven Hill in Big Sur, California, where he and his wife, Jade Webber
, are building a private sanctuary for writers and artists. *
At night walking with the moon, dreaming and imagining. *
Mia remembers the moment from September 2009. She is on the mountains of Boreas Pass in Colorado, holding a prayer arrow. The wind is whispering. Mia closes her eyes and makes her wishes, trusting all will come to be.**
A top story in Anita's Finding Inspiration Daily
and The Becoming Daily
. May 2012.*
ON THE STEPS OF SPANNOCCHIA, coming together on a writing retreat. Full of laughter and joy. In a moment of happiness, in the photo above. Did we really just meet? It seemed we have known each other all our lives, celebrating Fourth of July every summer with each other. Sharing secrets and sparkles, our writings and wishes. In Tuscany.
We listened to the murmurs of our hearts. We followed our dreams.
✶ PHOTO ABOVE (top left by Josh Bowen):
An inspired group of writers celebrating the Fourth of July on the steps of Spannocchia, last summer in the heart of Tuscany
. From left to right: Melissa
, Melanie, and Michelle
. For more moments and photos from their writing immersion retreat, click here
. ✶ VIDEO ABOVE:
Capturing the beauty and spirit of Spannocchia, home of the Writing Immersion in Sustainable Tuscany Retreat
and much more.
Find a purpose in life so big it will challenge every capacity to be at your best.-Jim Loehr-Above photo by Tet Shimoda.
From the White Rim Trail. Moab, Utah.
ACROSS THE SEAS
a daughter, Mia T. Starr, returns to the village of Mong Phu, her father's birthplace in Viet Nam. The true story you read below takes you back to that day, a journey that is now woven into Mia's MORNING SUN
, a historical fiction about an ordinary Vietnamese boy who must survive a time beset by famine, sacrifices, doubts, and two wars, if he is to honor his father's last wish and save their family.A FAMILY PASSAGE
MONG PHU, VIET NAMby Mia T. Starr
In February 2001 our Vietnamese driver and translator, Tuan, said in English, "We are almost there."
I was quiet, sitting in the back seat of the car and looking out the window at the peaceful countryside. A foreign landscape of tranquil rice paddies, farmers at work, mountains, and rivers rich with history unfolded before me.
My friend, Tom, who had hired the translator and made the trip possible, turned around in the front seat. He said, "Are you okay?"
I gave him a smile for reassurance. I said, "Yes."
"I'm happy we're here," Tom said and leaned back to give me space. He didn't want to be in the way of my journey home.
The car moved forward. The rocks beneath the wheels crumbled, and I thought about my father walking barefoot on this same dirt road sixty-three years ago. That was 1936. He was six years old and in search of work, food, and wood to keep his family alive. [read more to continue the story]
__A NOTE ABOUT THE WRITER: Mia T. Starr was born in Vietnam and
raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her writing credits include published poems,
an Honorable Mention for ASPIRING AUTHOR
in the New York Stories 2005 Short Fiction Contest, and a Finalist placing for CLOUDS
in the 2006 Glimmer Train Fiction Open Contest. Mia is currently working on completing revisions to her historical fiction, MORNING SUN. A NOTE ABOUT THE PHOTOS:
Each was taken from Mia's trip to Vietnam on that day in 2001 when she returned to the village of Mong Phu, her father's birthplace. For more photographs and the story behind them, continue here
. JOURNEY INTO WRITING: Read about Mia's writing moments
through her blog posts at Four Days A Week
. She shares excerpts from her works in progress, sharing her experiences as she moves toward her dreams of publishing MORNING SUN
and other works in multiple formats. Popular posts include:
ON A SUMMER DAY IN TUSCANY
I stepped away from my writing desk inside the villa at Spannocchia. I took a stroll with Casey, one of the participants at the writing immersion retreat
, toward the large green gate and into the Secret Garden. Six months ago in a magical place. I sat on one of the stone seats at a table constructed from a tree trunk and rock. Nearby was a keyhole pond and winding paths lined with cypresses.
I thought I had entered the world of The Hobbits
. Here where the sun and shades danced in a tango with the trees, the birds sang with the frogs, and the soft wind kissed you with a whisper full of wonderful things to come. I looked out into the garden and smiled. Casey snapped a picture (shown above). In that moment,
looking forward and thinking about my novel undergoing major revisions, my MORNING SUN
, I embraced my fears past my failures and said, "Hello again, my dreams." -Mia
A top story in The Becoming Daily
and The InterPlay Daily
. January 2012.✶
IT WAS ALMOST TIME TO GO.
, and I packed our weekend bags and placed them in the hallway of the hotel Palazzo Rosa
. We had a couple of hours in Venice before catching the train to rejoin our writing group
. With little time to take in the last morning of our stay, we returned to a few favorite spots,
bending around corners in twists and turns. We said hello and goodbye to the wonderful Venetians we met at the Ristorante Al Vagon
, took more pictures, shook hands, and expressed our gratitude for last night's splendid dinner and service.
We visited the juice bar, where Rachel envisioned one day of opening her own poetry cafe (naming it after one of her poems and a desire to bring together all that she loved in life). We stopped by the Silvietta, an accessories and clothing boutique, where we met Alessia with her delightful smile and couldn't help but buy
a few dresses to take home. We went to one of the gelato shops
for one memorable taste of the sweet, cold cream. We strolled in and out of stores we missed the first, second, and third time around.
THIS TIME I WAS DRAWN TO AN OPEN DOOR ON MY LEFT—to the old-world interior, the leather-bound journals on the shelf, the whispers of something special inside. La Carta.
I raised my hand to Michelle and Rachel, who were steps and shops ahead of me. They hadn't realized I was wandering again. I said, pointing to the door, "I'm going inside. I'll be just a few minutes."
I ENTERED LA CARTA. The owner wearing a green smock smiled as he helped two customers with their purchases. I browsed through the tiny store filled with all kinds of treasures: a red airplane hanging from the ceilings, miniature library desks and gondolas on the shelves, a pair of scuba diving shoes in the corner, a craftsman's tools behind the cash register, photo albums and pens with the markings of having been made by hand.
I touched the shelf lined with the leather-bound journals, resting my fingers on a cover. I dared to open the book, telling myself I can admire but not buy (I had already exceeded my spending budget). I was in trouble from the very first page, falling in love with the grain, the long, leather string, and the blank pages inviting me to write inside. Imagine the stories. Imagine your ideas coming to life and within reach of your fingertips.
"His work is beautiful," the woman said, ready to pay for her journal. She smiled at me.
I agreed and surrendered to the moment, wanting to meet the man wearing the green smock, the owner, who made these treasures. I stayed, listening and learning, spending more than a few minutes with the man full of charm and passion.
Rachel came inside, wondering what was keeping me. Did I get lost? Fifteen minutes passed, maybe a half hour or more. Michelle followed in, checked to see. Soon we were all at risk of missing our train. HIS NAME WAS VIANELLO ELIO
, born and raised in Venice. He spoke English and told us his family had been in Italy since 950 A.D. He nodded when we raised our eyes in disbelief. He said, "It's true. Four hundred generations."
Rachel wrote it down on paper, words committed and etched as proof. She took down the name of the BBC documentary, Francesco's Venice: The Dramatic History of the World's Most Beautiful City
, that also featured Elio and his La Carta in an interview.
I listened, wondering if something was lost in translation, stuck on the possibility (or impossibility) of four hundred generations in a man in front of me.
Elio showing us the documentary.
Elio showed us an old copy of the documentary, passion and pride in his eyes when he talked about his city, his love of designing and crafting by hand his leather-bound journals and photo albums, all things created with paper and shaped in books to hold and cherish forever.
WE LEARNED HE WAS ALSO A COLLECTOR of great arts, rare finds, and books. His face lighted up when he spoke about the special journal he won at an auction. His smile twinkled. We asked to see. He bent behind the counter and pulled out the aged-old yellow journal, showed us the handwritten, Italian notes filling the pages, passed from priest to priest through Italy.
It was a rare treasure in our hands. Enchanted, we asked him to read a few passages. He did with happiness.
I DID NOT UNDERSTAND A WORD, but I heard the joy in his voice. Then and there my heart skipped, taking a leap. It no longer mattered whether Elio came from a line of Vianellos dating back to 950 A.D., if it was 4, 40, 400, or 4,000 generations of history in the making.
Elio's treasured journal.
Standing before me was a man who loved his treasures, his books, his handmade leather journals, his store (where he also met his wife), his city, his life. It did not cost me anything to believe in him and share in his joy.
It was almost time to go. We made our purchases, buying Elio's journals and photo albums bound with love and passion. I asked him if he would sign my two journals. He asked for my name. "Mia," I said. "Mia Starr." "Mia," he said and smiled. He signed my journals and drew the meaning of his name: A window, stairs made of four steps, and stars above. "It's the way to the sky, the way to the stars."
"Elio," I said. "The way to the sky
✶It was July 3, 2011 when we met Vianello Elio. For more photos and treasures from our travels in Venice, follow us here.✶
VIANELLO ELIO, the way to the sky, the way to the stars. La Carta, S. Marco, 5547/A (S. Bartolomeo), 30124 Venezia. Italy. TEL 041 52 02 325.
BOUND WITH LOVE AND PASSION.
Vianello Elio's handmade leather journals inside La Carta. Venice, Italy. Following our bliss
COMPANIONSIt was my first time in Venice,on the gondola on the second day of July, in 2011
.I was here on the Grand Canal
taking in the breath of wind without worries.
A bird soared.
I raised my arms,
raised my hopes.
For the moment we soared together.
Taking flight with life.-by Mia T. Starr-
July 2, 2011
Venice, Italy ✶
Postcard No. 1 ✶
Photo & Moments from Mia
✶Come. Follow us to Venice in a swirl of art and joy for more photos, moments, and treasures from the journey.✶✶
Join us here next week on October 31, 2011
and meet Vianello Elio, the way to the sky, the way to the stars
For all our postcard posts from our travels, click here
. It began with crossing paths at the Shadowcliff
on August 23, 2010.✶Happy travels and wishing you many wonderful discoveries.Thanks so much for sharing in the moment. Beyond the trail.Honored to be part of your journey.
Above the grandeur. Around the canal.
Life, heart, and soul. Ascending.
A discovery. Unfolding, stirring with desire.
July 2, 2011
Venice, Italy ✶ Postcard No. 2 ✶ Photos & Moments from Mia
I tipped my face to the sky.
At the Piazza San Marco. In a swirl of art and joy.
I kissed the beauty, the moment, and the dreams.
July 2, 2011
Venice, Italy ✶ Postcard No. 3 ✶ Photo & Moments from Mia