What is the best thing I love about my work? The creativity, the remoteness, the ability to take an idea and transfer it onto the page. Ever since I discovered my passion for writing, I’ve intertwined a touch of wit, a touch of inspiration, and words that come straight from my heart. I look so forward to waking up and observing nature and writing from that place. My dog helps. He’s my muse. I guess that’s more than one best thing, but they all connect somehow and they all are described as proprietors of my work.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? If I can narrow it down to one aspect I would say to feel supreme contentment and balance. I tend to have an overactive brain, which can lead to overwhelm, which ultimately leads to burnout. I’ve learned through the years to take long moments every day to sit with what’s in my gut and heart, breathe into it, and find out solutions. They don’t come automatically however, carving out time each day to put my health as priority (and I mean, my overall health of body, mind, soul) I achieve that level of happiness and smile a helluva lot more. If I can say snuggling my dog factors into the equation, our togetherness certainly helps.
What is my greatest fear? That all these creative projects I’ve worked on for so long and have given my all will amount to nothing, that things I pour my heart and soul into will pan out and I’ll be left alone with nothing to show for my efforts. I also fear my ultimate dreams will never come to pass. I’m a bit of an illusionist versus a realist, and the things that drive me in this world originate in my dreams. I’m a strong believer in making things happen, yet I also fear I’ll die alone.
What is the trait I most deplore in myself? Wow, that’s a good question. I’d have to say *indecision* and *being too much of an open book.* I give full disclosure to a fault. Honesty is positive and I abide by it, but I can be cutting in some of my emotional connections when I communicate, as in speaking before thinking. I’ve had to work on this a great deal. It stems from judgment, and that’s one trait, along with the indecision and open book that worms its way into conversations. I always remind myself to inhale long breaths before I speak, to elicit compassion before I write, and to implore kindness when I meet someone face to face.
Which living person in my profession do I most admire? I would have to say Laura Marjorie Miller. I get so intimidated around her. She’s a prolific and introspective writer and communicator, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her years ago, and it was awesome. I love her work. I love the way she creates stories and organizes her thoughts. She’s a Communications Writer at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I admire her work with animals and her sincerity with her pieces about the supernatural and spiritual world. She’s truly got it going on. It’s tough to choose just one, but Laura is my go-to person. I have to add that my favorite poet is David Whyte, and my favorite novelist is Anne Lamott. Both speak my language and both compel me to be a better writer.
What is my greatest extravagance? Oh boy, I’m a Libra and I love luxury, so this one is a toughie. I’ll have to say full body massages. I used to get one every two weeks when I had the money and the time. Now I have the time and not the money. There’s something about lying naked on a table, a cushy towel draped over my body, a complete stranger ready to place their hands on me, tranquil music in the surrounding speakers, dimmed lights, the aroma of essential healing oils all over my skin, and a complete and total surrender for 90 minutes that takes me to otherworldly places. I’ll never take massages for granted again, I never did actually. It was more of a practice and an integrated caring method for my tired bones and mind. I haven’t had one in eons, and the self-care it involves is something I’m working towards achieving again.
On What Occasion Would I Lie? To protect a secret, that’s about it. It might be something trivial and something I dance around in explanation, but if I held something sacred that either I or another close relative or friend asked for a fiduciary pact, I would most certainly help in that instance. It’s more of being an adversary to my boundaries than spilling the beans when no one benefits.
What is the Thing that I dislike most in my work? Being stuck to a schedule. Since I work at home and I get caught up in creating, I often forget that my dog needs time and attention. At first I get irritated that he’s so scheduled, yet it’s that very adherence that helps me to go outside and play and get out of my head. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. I love sitting and writing, I don’t love what it does to my body.
When and where was I the happiest in my work? Kauai, Hawaii. No question about it. My heart was pulled to go to that island and spend three months writing my first book. It was freeing and accepting, and if there hadn’t been other distractions from my home in Austin at that time, I would have stayed longer. I wrote first thing in the morning with a cuppa tea, I went for a run along the coast after hours of writing, and met some of the finest humans ever. We all had our specialty healing modalities and offered them in community. I also needed to make some money, so I worked part time as a cashier at Harvest Market in Hanalei Bay. Talk about meeting some colorfully memorable characters! That added to my love of being there. I rode the bus everywhere, no car transportation. I walked everywhere. I transformed so much of my inner self during that year in 2011.
If I could, what would I change about myself? I would desire to be bolder in my actions and less dependent in my living situation. I feel as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become somewhat reserved on my nomadic life. Maybe it was destined to be this way yet being on the road and moving around brought me such joy. I’ll be 60 years old in another year and a half, and the thought of it is mind blowing. I still feel like such a kid at heart. So yeah, I want to continue being adventurous and less restricted.
What is my greatest achievement in my work? Authoring and publishing two books. It was never a chore. It was something I had to do to wrap my head around vulnerability and love. On both occasions I was going through some major relationship upheavals and to choose to write about each in different formats, through nonfiction and fantasy fiction, was something I continue to shake my head on. I can’t believe I pulled it off during such dramatic years and yet, I also overcame hardships to enter into the beauty of self-discovery. That’s the magical rainbow right there.
Where would I most like to live? New Zealand. Their culture is environmentally friendly, the climate is temperate, the people seem amazingly conscious and appreciative of their surroundings, and it has a beautiful mix of ocean and wilderness. If I could inject a minor political statement, I’d also like something different than our current culture here in America. It’s gotten outlandish and divisive. I’m not sure on the affordability in New Zealand, but I’m sure the Universe would have my back if I decided. That’s me being hopeful.
What is my most treasured possession? Hmmm, I would have to say a tossup between the crystals I’ve amassed and the shells I’ve collected at the sea. I’ve given away or sold so many things throughout my life in an effort to simplify and not place emphasis on the material, but natural elements from Mother Earth and Ocean are things to be treasured.
What is my most marked characteristic? It’s my smile, my small ears, my curly hair, or my need to never leave home without a pair of earrings on. This is also a tough (only one) answer. I need to be modest and perhaps allow those I know to give me their answer and perspective.
What is my most inspirational location in my city? Living in Southern California is chock full of goodness, and if I would have to narrow it down it would be walking the beach at night on Coronado island. My dog and I go there a few times each week to unwind, to walk the stretch of shore with freedom and no lifeguards and barely any people, and listen to the waves and star gaze. I feel free there. And I always want to write a ton when I get home.
What is my favorite place to eat and drink in my city? Home. I’m an extroverted introvert and I love to cook. I enjoy creating my meals, pouring a glass of red wine, and listening to music and savoring all of it. The Lotus Café in Encinitas is also a go-to spot whenever I meet someone for lunch. Other than that, I’m pretty simple and prefer home.
What books influenced my life and how? To Kill a Mockingbird_ by Harper Lee was instrumental in numerous ways. The children’s love for their father, the father’s humanitarianism for defending a man of color in the south during troubled times, the character Boo who was generous and protective towards the children even though he remained elusive. This book showed me family love and it gave me the inspiration to name my dog Scout.
-_Gifts from the Sea_ by Anne Morrow Lindbergh is a genuinely heartfelt story of a woman needing to soul search and finding treasures in the form of shells. Each shell had a story and an image that helped her understand who she was, how her life was evolving, and how important self-love was to her being. I’ve read it three times. –
_The Loop_ by Nicholas Evans was unbelievably great. This author had a few books that all revolved around a main hero or heroine who dealt with challenging times in nature.
_The Loop_ is a story about a horrific practice used in long lost days of capturing wolves with a metal loop that debilitates their movement and ensnaring their paw. It’s barbaric. The upside and highlight is how the central theme was shining a light on this practice whilst also shining a light on an evolving love story. I felt I could relate to the characters and their needs to be true to themselves.
-_The Glass Castle_ by Jeanette Walls was the book I took with me to Italy and couldn’t put down. Here I am in this gorgeous country all by myself, exploring and traveling everywhere, and this book gripped me in such curious ways, as the creative father who was bound and determined to live a life of fantasy and not necessarily providing proper living conditions for his kids. He moved them around, they lived abnormal lives, and although they accepted it as their fate, their desires to leave were ever present. I was torn whether I loved this man and his rigid “I’ll go along with whatever you say and do” wife, or whether I hated him for putting his family through stress and worry. It reminded me of my creative uncle, who I was intimidated by until his death.
Who are my favorite writers? Ernest Hemingway, Anne Lamott, David Whyte, Margaret Atwood, Nicholas Evans, Jack Kerouac, Carl Jung, Thomas Moore, Harville Hendrix, Louise Hay, Virginia Woolf
What music would I listen to on my last day? -Old classic rock and roll. Neil Young, Led Zeppelen, Jimi Hendrix, even some Dan Fogelberg, Lenny Kravitz, Sarah MacLauchlan, Sade, Al Green, Steve Winwood, Jackson Browne. Basically music from the olden days that still have relevance and still make me sing, and still give me goose bumps, and still open my heart.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird is my hero. My heroine is Rachel Harper from my own fictional book A Big Piece of Driftwood. I love both characters.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? The Dalai Lama is my hero. Progressive women who launch movements to change the world are my heroines. Also Malala Yousafzai is incredibly brave. Her spirit moved me the instant I saw her story and how she continues beyond to work tirelessly helping impoverished children receive an education.
Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? ET, the Extraterrestrial needs to be seen by every generation. Again, the fantasy fiction which can transcend into reality and magic gives the audience tears, laughter, reasons to applaud, adventure, connections of the heart. I adore movies with children as the curious protagonist. I’ve seen this one at least a dozen times and I cry so hard every single moment.
What role plays art in my life and work? Muralists are my saviors for creativity. Whenever I drive or walk around in new cities or environments I stumble onto these gorgeous paintings on walls in unsuspecting places. It propels me to write about the experience, to document, to take photos, to swoon, to appreciate, to stand and marvel, all of it. Each painting becomes life, to me.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, and partner in crime? Without sounding too redundant or frivolous, it would have to be my dog Scout. He is about the most loyal and supportive energy I can have with me. We have a partnership in wellness service, so between the two of us, we strive to make a difference in people’s lives.
Who would I like to work with in 2018? I have several people I’d die to work with. One is Laura Marjorie Miller, the writer I mentioned earlier. Another is Victoria Erickson, a fabulous poet. I’d also enjoy working with a large corporation, but in a creative capacity. Something whereby I’m part of a team of collaborators, and we have dogs running around the office giving us joyful distractions and much-needed playtime, and the end result of our work is something to inspire the masses and make a difference. It could be an invention, it could be a new app, it could be stories upon stories, doesn’t matter. I’m sure there are organizations out there full of people in this type of environment. I’d love to be involved.
What project in 2018 am I looking forward to working on? I have written my third book. Well, actually my dog has narrated my third book, his first book. It’s a nonfiction happy story about touching people’s lives and carrying that energy forward. Even though the manuscript is complete, I know there’s plenty more work to do. I’ve submitted it to over 20 publications, been rejected by seven, and am hoping some traditional publisher will pick it up and want to pursue it. After it’s been accepted, I’d like to hire an editor (I know who I want) and choose all the dimensions and cover art and go from there. Who knows where it will lead? I actually began writing it as a screenplay. Bought a book all about how to write a screenplay, and realized after trials and challenges that I’m no screenplay writer. I would have to take several courses and seminars on how to actually format a screenplay. It’s a tough job. Once I gave up on that idea, I turned it into another book. It’s designed for middle grade, young adults, and perhaps mainstream population. It has a spark.
Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2018? Janne Robinson is one. She lives part time in San Diego, and although her poetry is raw and brash at times, I find her to be interesting and brutally honest. She reminds me of Bukowski. I’d also like to meet Kate Bartolotta. She’s another writer and editor and self-care coach who’s helped me with my second book, and I just did a Sacral Chakra workshop with her. She’s intelligent and extremely inspiring. I’ve only met her through Skype or phone calls. And of course I’d love to meet David Whyte, the renowned poet who gracefully speaks words that take me to another dimension. He’s charming and handsome, and I was bold enough to go out on a limb last year and ask him to marry me as a comment on one of his posts on Facebook. I didn’t care, and I knew he wouldn’t answer, but it sure felt good to put it out there. He’s got a gift. And he’s already married. But I’d die and go to heaven to meet him.
Where can you see me or my work in 2018? I have a website called Eight Paws Wellness.( https://eightpawswellness.squarespace.com) I write monthly blogs about my adventures and travails with Scout, my dog. It originated in 2015 when I adopted him, and our primary purpose was to care for other’s animals and to teach yoga with dogs by our side at the beach or park. It has morphed into more of a mission of service than a paid wellness brand. I have all my writing links listed and images of our travels and explorations. I just wrote a blog on 8 Paws Wellness about how things have changed and how I’m embracing this next phase of life. It’s a tad scary, but I’ve been asking for it and I’m ready for it. Otherwise, I hope to begin a new website where I can house newer pieces of work that I write for publications. If you were to Google “Gerry Ellen” there’s a host of links and sites where my work is listed. As far as seeing me in person, I’m in San Diego and who knows for how long, it’s part of that whole nomad thing I prefer anyway. I am accessible and open to community and strangers. I’m also true to my boundaries when I need solitude. I’d like to reside up on the Central Coast in San Luis Obispo, which I’ve spent a few months there as well. It’s got a vibe I am drawn to, and there’s no traffic or five lane highways. It’s charming and surrounded by vineyards and mountains and oceans. Reminds me of when I traveled to Tuscany and Venice, sort of a combo of the two. Love it in SLO.
What does the phrase “Passion Never Retires” means to me? It means never giving up on your dreams. If we follow our hearts and remain true to who we are, there is an energetic outpouring of good things that can heal and help others and our planet. Love is passion. Energy is passion. The soul is passion. The heart is passion. These are the emotions and vessels that needn’t ever abandon themselves.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Carolyn Avalani is one. Jaimy Mokos is another. Carrie Ciula is another. Bryonie Wise is another. Maranda Pleasant is another. There are so many, but these are the creative women who stand out for me, and I’d enjoy hearing more of their story.
How can you contact me?