5 Random Places to Find Inspiration

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 12
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 12, 2015 at 9:00 am

As writers, we have to be open to the weird and the wonderful, and inspiration often strikes in totally random places. Often, we don’t even need to search for inspiration; it finds us instead. With that in mind, here are 5 random places where you might find your next story idea!

Image courtesy of somethingoneverything.com

Image courtesy of somethingoneverything.com

  1. Vintage Stores - Writing historical fiction? Then head to your local vintage store before you slide into your desk chair. Browsing is so much fun because each item has its own unique story–and it’s up to you to find and tell it.
  2. Gyms - Your blood is pumping and the endorphins are flowing; these factors can launch your creativity into overdrive. Add to that the fact that your mind is mostly blank when you’re doing reps or running on the treadmill, and you have the ideal environment to dream up awesome new writing projects.
  3. Your Shower - Many times, you don’t even need to venture out of the bathroom for inspiration; just take a shower! Great ideas often hit when you’re sudsing up.
  4. Bed - The saying, “Sleep on it,” is so true; sleep really lends us a sense of clarity. If you’re stuck at a stubborn point in your story, “sleeping on it” is often all you need.
  5. Public Transportation - Not only do you have uninterrupted time on a bus, train, or airplane, you also have an abundance of people and conversations. Hello, people watching!

Writers out there, what is your favorite random place to find inspiration? Is there a special location that always works for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

Cover Reveal and Mermaid Monday Giveaway!

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 15
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 15, 2014 at 9:30 am

I’m psyched to announce that my newest eBook, The Mermaid’s Wedding (California Mermaids #2), will be launching tomorrow, December 16th!

Therefore, I’ve dubbed today Mermaid Monday…and what would this magical “holiday” be without a giveaway? I will be gifting FREE copies of The Mermaid’s Wedding to the first five people who comment below with one reason to love mermaids. Get creative! For example, you could comment, “I love mermaids because we’re never too old to believe in magic,” or, “I love mermaids because they bring a dose of fantasy and intrigue to my Monday.” Also, please include your Amazon ID (your email that is registered with Amazon), so I can gift you the Kindle book.

In honor of the launch, Book 1 of the California Mermaids series, The Mermaid’s Curse, will be free December 16th and 17th, so make sure to download it if you haven’t already!

And in other news, I want to give a warm shout-out to everyone who voted on the cover concepts that I posted on Facebook and the blogs last week. The overwhelming winner was the design on the right. Here’s the final cover reveal! What do you think?

Here's the cover reveal for The Mermaid's Wedding, which will be launching on December 16th! What do you think?

Here’s the cover reveal for The Mermaid’s Wedding, which will be launching on December 16th! What do you think?

 

Perplexed by Life and/or Human Nature? Turn it into a Story!

by Kristina Ludwig
Aug 4
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: August 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

One of the pieces of feedback that I receive most about my books is that the characters, situations, and feelings are believable and relatable. And there are reasons for this. First of all, I’m an avid lifelong reader, and have been exposed to various types of literature. I know how touching it is to feel for a character, so I’ve learned techniques to create reader empathy for my own characters. Also, I love to channel my characters, really becoming absorbed in their worlds. And, most of all, I am fascinated by human nature and all of its oddities, which is probably why I enjoy making up fictional characters so much in the first place.

One of the most interesting things about getting well-acquainted with new people is learning to interpret their moods, and eventually being able to guess how they will react to certain situations. That’s why, with family, significant others, and close friends, we can often predict how they’ll handle the ups and downs of life–and even sometimes what they’re thinking or about to say. This same concept applies as we get to know our fictitious characters. Even if we create character profiles detailing everything from childhood background to favorite color before we ever start writing, we still have a “getting-to-know you” period with these products of our imagination, as they develop and become more real to us.

Perplexed face courtesy of SHERV.net

Perplexed face courtesy of SHERV.net

Human nature, and life itself, is so perplexing, full of twists and turns. Even when we know people well, they can surprise us and throw us a curveball, and when we’re writing, our characters sometimes do much the same thing. Human nature can be fickle, influenced by so many factors, and sometimes, uncharacteristic behavior can be most intriguing of all. Observing it in someone you know is interesting, but creating it in your own characters can be pure magic.

The other aspect of human nature that I find incredible is evolution. This is why, in my books, I always choose to write about dynamic characters as opposed to static ones. One of the most telling parts of a person’s character is how (s)he responds to challenges in life, and how life experiences shape personality. Just as a jagged rock in the ocean wears down and becomes smooth over time from the continued bashing of the waves, so can people’s characters be molded by their good and bad experiences. Will your character become rougher and tougher when (s)he faces adversity, or smoother and more worn down? You, as the author, are in control of that. Embrace it!

Some of my most dramatic books have been written in times when I’ve been most perplexed by my own life or my relationships with those around me. Do you find this to be true in your own work? I’d love to hear your reflections and experiences!

Creativity Jungle-Style: What Animal Are You?

by Kristina Ludwig
Jul 7
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: July 7, 2014 at 11:55 am

Yesterday, Antonio and I finally made it to the famous San Diego Zoo with our friends Janice and James, who are visiting from out of town. None of us had ever been there before, and as with any new and innovative experience, our minds were working overtime during and after our adventures there.

Being "attacked" by a lunging tiger at the San Diego Zoo. ;)

Being “attacked” by a lunging tiger at the San Diego Zoo. ;)

My most striking observation was how similar the animals are to us humans. Each species had a different personality type that mirrored how we humans behave in our everyday lives, as well as in our creative and/or professional ones.

Here are just a few animal personalities I encountered. As you start your post-holiday work week, ask yourself… Which animal sounds like you, and how can you overcome your obstacles to become more creative and productive?

  • The Meerkat – These adorable little mammals make their homes in the deserts of Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and South Africa, and can crawl on all fours or stand up on their hind legs. With their small ears, intelligent-looking faces, and upright posture, they almost look human. Meerkats have no body fat, and must forage for food every day–evolutionarily not advance planners. They reside in underground burrows and are very social, living in clans of 20-30 members. If you have the creative/work style of a meerkat, you’re likely to be amazing in brainstorming sessions and collaborative work environments, but when it comes to strategizing or working alone, you generally prefer to bury yourself in the sand. Creative meerkats should focus on working in industries where teamwork is encouraged and essential, but let strategic planning and independent projects to a different personality type.
  • The Camel – With their humps packed full of water for long desert days, camels are awesome advance planners. They move slowly and are capable of deliberate, almost singular focus. The only problem: they’re stuck in their ways. We observed this firsthand when we interacted with an older male camel. He was obsessively chewing on a branch of dried wood. When the wood was moved away from him, he pouted, waiting for it to return so he could resume his chewing. He continued this behavior for the entire time we observed him, and when we left, he was still working on that piece of wood. Creative/work camels are focused, and can achieve much throughout the course of their work days. However, they are prone to closed-mindedness and are not the best at thinking outside the box. If you’re a creative camel, take advantage of that famous focus, but strive to enhance your creativity by becoming more open-minded.
  • The Giraffe – Giraffes know how to get to the top–they just stick their necks out. If you’re a creative giraffe, you’re not afraid of reaching new heights every day, and you’re always striving to go higher and shoot further. If this sounds like you, keep up the great work. Just remember that you might hit your head and face a few bumps and bruises as you break through the glass ceiling. :)
  • The Condor – What a show-off! Condors are sexy and they know it, especially the male ones, who are prone to flaunting their powerful bodies and plumage atop rocks and cliffs. And what a wingspan… They’re made to fly up, up, and away! If you’re a creative/work condor, you may be prone to boasting, but you’re usually able to back up all that talk, soaring to new heights when faced with a challenge. Keep the strutting in check, and you’ll go even further!

I hope this exercise was fun for you as you embark on your work-week. Can you think of any other animal personality types that I might have left out? If your creative/work personality mirrors any of these, how have you overcome your own personal obstacles to succeed? As always, I love hearing what you think!

5 Reasons Why Becoming a Successful Author is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

by Kristina Ludwig
May 1
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 1, 2014 at 10:16 am

If you’re a runner or know someone who is, you’re well aware that we’re in the height of marathon season. We just had the Boston Marathon of course, and it seems like every time I turn around I’m hearing about a different marathon, half-marathon, or 5 K race in my area. Antonio is even planning to run a 5 K with obstacles!

Marathons are not just for runners, though. I think that the writing life is a marathon–we writers have a burning desire to get our work out there, but first we have to train for it, and then work hard every day. And just as unexpected obstacles might pop up when running a marathon on unfamiliar turf, the same thing happens as we discover our voices, move towards publication, build our platforms, and promote our work. So many writers give up their dreams at some step along the way, but persistence is key. A marathon runner is not going to drop out in the middle of the race, and we writers can’t drop out either.

We writers can take some hints from these guys!

Writers can take some hints from these guys! Image courtesy of fansided.com 

 

With that in mind, I’ve devised 5 reasons why succeeding as an author is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy!

  1. It’s a full-time job - Marathon runners train for months so they can crush it in the race. Even if they’re working full-time jobs, they wake up earlier, train in the evening, and do whatever it takes to come out ahead on race day. We writers can take a lesson from this. I worked full-time as a pharmacist, but dreamed of being a writer. So for about a year, I dedicated most of my free time to learning all about self-publishing, taking advanced writing courses, attending conferences, and, of course, practicing my writing! I treated writing as my other full-time job, and soon I was able to make it my only full-time job.
  2. You have to be in for the long haul - Sprints are quick and intense, and runners have to expend maximum energy in a short period of time. But marathons require endurance. A successful career as an author is pretty much the same. Very few authors will write one book and live off its royalties for the rest of their lives. Most of us have to write many books and keep them coming regularly. As soon as we finish one, we have to start writing another. This is not only because of how the creative process works, but also because more books=more discoverability.
  3. It requires discipline - Marathon runners are some of the most disciplined people out there, and they have to be. They must build their strength and endurance to almost superhuman levels, and this can only happen by living a structured life. Writers have to be disciplined, too. It’s very easy in a creative field, especially one in which we’re self-employed and determine our own hours, to just put off writing to go to the beach or go shopping. It’s also easy to get carried away running errands, or even doing something mundane like cleaning the house. But the fact of the matter is, we have to discipline ourselves to put distractions aside and write every day. Which brings me to my next reason…
  4. It’s all about setting goals - When training for a marathon, a runner must set daily and weekly goals: distances covered, running paces, and healthy eating goals. Writers can do the same thing. Weekly writing quotas keep me in line with my bigger goal of releasing one eBook per month. And it’s not only about writing quotas: the goals of successful authors also include ones related to social media and networking, timelines for speaking events, blogging, and platform building. Writing a list of goals for the day or week is one of the best ways to become more productive–and more prolific.
  5. It’s a growing process - Many runners have told me that, when they’re training for and running a marathon, they feel as though they grow not only in strength and endurance, but spiritually and mentally as well. Being an author is a constantly evolving process; we as writers are growing every day as we experience new things, find new inspiration, and hone our craft. And our reward for growing as writers is much the same as the reward for a marathon runner: not only having fans “cheering” for us, but feeling a sense of accomplishment as we grow. The mental and spiritual rewards are rich for us as well.

Writers, have you had similar experiences? Can you think of any more reasons why becoming a successful author is like a marathon? As always, I welcome your feedback!

Writing Fitness: 4 Easy Ways to Flex Your Creative Muscles Today

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 14
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 14, 2014 at 9:56 am

I am a huge advocate of physical fitness. I adore yoga, cardio, and targeted weight-lifting and toning exercises. I also love being outside and doing “active” activities like biking, swimming, and shooting hoops. And of course, I live to dance crazily, and have a penchant for randomly launching into gymnastics on the beach.

It’s a known fact that being physically fit not only allows your body to perform optimally, decreasing the risk of common health problems (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and hypercholesterolemia being only a few), it also makes you feel better. There’s even a scientific basis behind it. (Hello, feel-good endorphins!)

Your body is not the only thing you need to keep fit, however. If you’re a writer questing after ever-evolving creativity and awesome story craft, you also need to keep your mind fit, and the only way you can do that is by exercising it.

Writing fitness is as important as physical fitness! Image courtesy of gimnasia

Writing fitness is as important as physical fitness! Image courtesy of gimnasia

With that in mind, I have compiled a handful of tips to enhance your writing fitness. Our writing muscles will atrophy if we don’t use them, after all!

  1. Warm up your writing muscles  – Just as we wouldn’t exercise without stretching first, we shouldn’t launch into a full-on writing session without warming up first. Warming up can take a variety of forms. It can involve working on your blog, or taking a time out for journaling. You can even write a short story using a story prompt. Once you warm up, you will find that the main event of your writing session (i.e. working on your novel, etc) will flow more easily and smoothly.
  2. Read a lot – Many times, I learn new exercises from reading the blogs of fitness experts. Then, I just can’t wait to try them out at the gym or even at home. You can apply the same concept to your writing. Learn new literary techniques from reading the works of great writers of the past and present. If there’s some part of the creative process that’s perplexing you, read a how-to book. Reading gives us fascinating new ideas, opening doors for our own creativity.
  3. Fight boredom - One of the worst enemies of an exercise routine is boredom. Not only does it decrease your motivation to work out, the benefit to your muscle groups actually diminishes if you get stuck in a rut. That’s why it’s so important to shake up your fitness routine and evolve constantly. The same concept applies to your writing. If you do the same routine in the same location day in, day out, your creativity will be drained over time. Instead, work from various locations and split your writing day up differently throughout the week, incorporating other activities (ex. reading, playing a musical instrument, working out) into your day. Keep yourself stimulated, and the new ideas will flow.
  4. Keep it colorful - How psyched are you to go to the gym when you have a brand-new, brightly colored workout ensemble? I don’t know about you, but in my case, the answer is very. Psych yourself out to write by keeping it colorful! I’m not telling you to paint your office in neon colors (although hey, whatever works), but I am saying you should make your writing life figuratively colorful, if not literally. This means embracing new experiences, different cultures, and unusual locales. Even new writing equipment (i.e journal, pens, or computer) can make you feel more colorful–and enable you to infuse color into your writing!

On Location: 5 Writing Locations to Stimulate Creativity

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 9
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 9, 2014 at 10:15 am

As writers, we all have goals–writing quotas, so to speak. We want to write x number of words by y timeframe, or x number of chapters in said timeframe. I’m no different. When I’m writing my Amish novellas, my goal is a hard and fast two chapters per day. This gives me enough time to work on my other projects, social media, and promotions, and it also ensures that I’ll finish one Amish novella per month. It’s especially important when I’m writing the Amish in College series, because these novellas have a good twenty pages on the Amish Hearts books.

Last week, however, I crushed this goal–but it wasn’t by accident. One of my birthday presents from Antonio was a membership to Hera Hub, an organization for female entrepreneurs who usually work from home. Hera Hub is a physical location where business owners in various industries can network with each other and attend events such as writing workshops and business boosters. The work space is open and inviting, decorated like a spa, and encourages community and productivity.

I went to Hera Hub three times last week, and each time, I got a ton of writing done. I wrote one extra chapter per day on my Hera Hub days. True, I was exhausted by Friday–I’d basically tired out my brain. But even taking the entire day Friday off from writing, I’d still written an extra chapter above and beyond my weekly goals.

This got me thinking…first of all about how great of a work environment Hera Hub is, but also about how writing from other locations besides the home office can stimulate creativity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible to be super creative from the home office, and that’s still where I do the majority of my work. But it’s also ah-mazing to work from different locations, since newness makes you more innovative.

So many ways to increase creativity...so little time! Picture courtesy of ljsilentg.com

So many ways to increase creativity…so little time! Picture courtesy of ljsilentg.com

Here are 5 away-from-home writing environments that have sparked my creativity. I hope they work for you!

  1. Local workspaces – Office-style workspaces, such as Hera Hub, are the perfect places to get out of your writing doldrums. The environment, the people, and events such as writing workshops jack up creativity and productivity. Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs, some of them writers, fuels your spirit and your writing. So far, Hera Hub is found in the San Diego area, but there is talk of expanding and franchising. Check out your area for similar workspaces–you’ll be glad you did.
  2. Libraries – They’re free, and they’re full of books–what could be better?! Libraries are the perfect place to write. Any resource you can imagine is right there at your fingertips. Plus, if writer’s block strikes, you can exercise your mind and get back on track by picking a book from the seemingly infinite wall of books and reading it. Another awesome thing about the library is that it’s the perfect place to meet other authors in your neighborhood. Antonio and I went to the library on a random Saturday afternoon, and stumbled upon a writer’s organization that holds meetings there once a month! Needless to say, we’ll be attending the next meeting, and have found a whole new group of writers to network with!
  3. Coffee shops – It may sound cliche, but I’ve gotten some good writing done at Starbuck’s over a tall blonde roast. Not only does the coffee wake up brain cells, cafes are prime people-watching havens. Need to find a character for your next story? Just listen in on some convos at a coffee shop, study some patrons and their mannerisms, and you’re halfway there.
  4. Airplanes – Flights, especially moderately lengthy ones, are the optimal places to do some serious writing. Looking out at the clouds does wonders for creativity. So does the fact that you’re locked into an enclosed space, so you’re almost forced to work. Bonus points if you spend part of your flight reading, too.
  5. Parks – When I was in elementary school, having class outside in the courtyard was a special treat. I felt like I learned so much more in the fresh, open air than I did in the stuffy, old classroom. Writing outside at a park can work much the same way. Like the coffee shop, there’s plenty of people-watching (and therefore, character inspiration). Go there on a nice day, and there’s also sunshine, which increases your creativity through its actions on your brain neurotransmitters. (More about that in this recent blog post.) There’s something magical about sitting on the grass in the breeze crafting a story. Try it this spring, and you’ll be a believer!

What other locations do you enjoy writing from? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Reflections on a Writing Field Trip Part 2: College Trip Down Memory Lane

by Kristina Ludwig
Mar 17
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:09 am

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all! To celebrate the luck of the Irish (and to be a little ironic), I’m giving my humorous contemporary YA romance, Unlucky 13, away for free today. We may be having a lucky day, but thirteen year-old Jordyn’s year is anything but… She endures a string of crazy bad luck as she tries to score a date with her dream guy. Can Jordyn turn her luck around and win Andrew’s heart? Find out today…for free!

Unlucky13

And in other news: Long-term followers of my Random Inspirations blog may recall my Writing Field Trip post from December, in which I reflected on a trip to Lawrence County, home of my Amish Hearts characters. Today, it’s time for part 2 of that post. Last weekend, I visited my family in Pittsburgh, and took a trip down memory lane to my old college campus, the University of Pittsburgh. This trip came at the best possible time, because I have been working hard on “Amish Faith: Rebekah’s Book,” Book 1 of my new Amish in College series, and Pitt is where Rebekah and Braeden go to college.

Writing “Amish Faith: Rebekah’s Book” has been an incredible experience, because I have fond memories of life at Pitt–especially my last two years of pharmacy school, when I met and fell in love with Antonio! I spent six years on that campus, and I know it inside out. The beautiful architecture that blends old and new styles, the brilliant collection of students from all over the world, and the way the entire campus seems to blossom and bloom in the spring just before finals… All of these are aspects of Pitt that I love, so of course I incorporate them into “Amish Faith.” 

“Amish Faith” will be released later this week (date coming soon). So, to get you psyched about some of the people and places in Rebekah’s book, here are a few pictures we took at Pitt. We owe these great shots to my dad. :)

A cheery sign by the famous campus landmark, the Cathedral of Learning, proclaims, “Welcome to Pitt.”

Welcome to Pitt

The Cathedral of Learning houses the nationality rooms, several classrooms, a computer lab, Starbuck’s, and food court downstairs, and a huge, open study area on the main floor. This is where Braeden and Rebekah like to study in “Amish Faith.”

Cathedral 1

During well-deserved study breaks, Braeden and Rebekah lay in the grass and gaze upward at the Cathedral of Learning. When the clouds move just right, the building almost looks like it’s falling on them.

Cathedral falling on you

Inside the Cathedral of Learning is a wrought-iron gate with the famous quote that inspired Rebekah to attend college in Rumspringa Break: “Here is eternal spring. For you the very stars of heaven are new.”

Cathedral quote with me

Rebekah lives with her funny roommate Allie in Litchfield Towers, the freshman dorm buildings. In Mercy’s Fall, Rebekah’s sister Mercy describes the towers as looking like silos.

Litchfield Towers

Braeden walks Rebekah to her least favorite class, Bio 1, at Clapp Hall. Her class consists of more than 300 students, which is very overwhelming to an Amish girl who grew up attending classes in a one-room schoolhouse.

Clapp Hall

When she and Braeden have a disagreement, Rebekah finds solace at the Log Cabin near the Cathedral of Learning. It’s a reminder of her simple roots amidst the bustling, competitive city environment.

Log Cabin

Braeden convinces Rebekah that God is everywhere when he takes her to a church service at St. Paul Cathedral. Although mass is much different than Rebekah’s Amish services, she feels as touched by Herr Gott as she does at home with her family.

St. Paul Cathedral Doors

St. Paul's cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral Angle

I hope these pictures and descriptions will help “Amish Faith: Rebekah’s Book” to come to life for you! Stay tuned on the blog and Facebook for release dates!

The Science Behind Creativity: How Brain Chemistry Influences Us

by Kristina Ludwig
Mar 6
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: March 6, 2014 at 9:35 am

Creativity is such an elusive feeling: some days, it’s there en masse, while on others writer’s block rears its ugly head, and it’s virtually impossible to get rid of it. Have you ever stopped to think why on certain days, you might feel more creative than others? When I asked myself this question, I realized that my creativity generally increases after a good night’s sleep, vigorous exercise, doing a rewarding activity, or meditating. And the chemist in me said, “Whoa, all of these activities influence your brain’s chemistry. Think there’s a connection there?” The answer, of course, is a no-brainer.

I have an extensive chemistry background from my “previous life” as a pharmacist; in pre-pharmacy Organic Chemistry classes, I spent hours poring over molecular structures and their reactions, and in pharmacy school I learned about biochemistry. I was particularly intrigued by the chemistry of the brain, and the way that certain behaviors and medications affect it.

Our creativity is directly affected by neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals native to our bodies that transmit signals from one neuron to another. The two neurotransmitters that affect our creativity the most are seratonin and dopamine.

There's a lot going on in these brains of ours, and being knowledgeable about our brain chemistry can make us more creative. Picture: toptenreviews.com

There’s a lot going on in these brains of ours, and being knowledgeable about our brain chemistry can make us more creative. Picture: toptenreviews.com

Seratonin is the neurotransmitter that regulates memory, learning, sleep, and mood, among other things. I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling happy and fulfilled, my creativity skyrockets.  Sometimes you just feel happy, but have you ever wondered why? If the sun’s out, you’ve just exercised, or you’ve slept well the night before, you’re generally much happier than you’d be if circumstances were the opposite. Guess what: bright light, exercise, and a good night’s sleep all increase the seratonin in your brain, leading to increased feelings of well-being and amped-up creativity. Check out this article, which explains ways to increase seratonin without drugs. Scientifically speaking, my advice to anyone who wants to pump up the creativity by manipulating seratonin is this: have a restful 8-hour sleep, exercise 3-5 times a week, and get outside every once in awhile. If it’s cloudy out, turn on some bright, cheery lights. Your creative writing project will thank you!

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is related to motivation, emotional arousal, and reward and pleasure centers; the more dopamine circulating in the brain, the more creative the person will probably be. Check out this article called The Mad Artist’s Brain: The Connection Between Creativity and Mental Illness. It may sound weird, but a study found that both schizophrenics and creative people who demonstrated unusually high abilities to think outside the box had lower dopamine receptor activity in their brains than average people. Dopamine, like seratonin, increases with exercise: just one more reason to get to the gym. Meditation and activities that feel rewarding also increase dopamine, so my best practical advice to fuel your creativity and increase your dopamine levels would be this: do yoga. It’s the perfect marriage of exercise, meditation, and rewards. I always feel more inspired after a yoga session… This will, in fact, be a topic of one of my future blog posts.

I hope this brief science lesson has inspired you to take your creativity to new levels…by manipulating it at the source. Best of luck on all your artsy endeavors!

 

 

Reflections on a Vacation in Mexico City

by Kristina Ludwig
Feb 20
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: February 20, 2014 at 11:24 am

For the long President’s Day weekend, Antonio and I decided to visit a faraway land…Mexico City, to be exact. Antonio’s good friend had been inviting us down forever, and we decided it was time to just do it already!

My first impression of Mexico City was wow. It is, without a doubt, the largest city I’ve ever seen…much bigger than New York or LA. Flying over la Ciudad de Mexico was like overlooking a sea of lights. It was 11 PM on a Friday night, and the city was glowing with vitality and energy.

We had the privilege of staying with our friends Cristian and Ana, in their gorgeous casa in the north of Mexico City, by Polanco, and they made sure we had an awesome weekend. Mexico City is the perfect amalgamation of ancient past and glittering present, and our amazing “tour guides” showed us exactly that.

Our first full day in Mexico City, we drove to San Angel, an historic community in the south of the city. We enjoyed a delicious outdoor brunch, where I tried my first-ever sopa de melon (melon soup), a Mexican specialty that is both sweet and salty. And then, fortified for the day ahead, we attended the Bazaar del Sabado (Saturday Bazaar).

Traditional Mexican music, played by three men on a xylophone-like instrument, emanated throughout the open courtyard as we browsed jewelry, housewares, and art. The prices were reasonable, mostly because $1.00 is equal to 13 pesos, so even though the items sounded expensive they really weren’t. Antonio and I practiced our Spanish and our negotiating skills as we purchased an abalone mask, a ceramic skull, a jade bracelet, and a leather cuff bracelet.

Naturally, being a book enthusiast, I sniffed out a libreria (bookstore), where I bought a book called Con Permiso del Sol (With Permission of the Sun). I’ve started reading it to practice my Spanish, and the experience has been fun and enriching. If you’re trying to learn another language, I’d definitely recommend reading a book in that language. It’s challenging, but, for me anyway, seeing the words in print reinforced all the phrases I’d been hearing scattered randomly throughout conversations all weekend.

The libraria in San Angel

The libreria in San Angel

That night we had a house party…Mexican style! It lasted until 6 AM! Antonio and I passed out somewhere around 3:30 AM, though…our day of exploration had tired us out, in a good way.

Sunday, we checked out downtown Mexico City, and were completely blown away. It’s a bustling metropolis full of street performers, breathtaking architecture, music, and dancing. I danced in the street twice: once when we passed a stand blaring fun, festive music, and again when we reached a group of street performers doing a traditional Aztec dance. We marveled at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the most important cultural center in Mexico City, which serves as an opera house, theater, and museum. Then, we enjoyed more delicious Mexican cuisine at the well-known Danubio Restaurant. The seafood was extraordinary, and my favorites were the langostinos (tiny lobsters) and the calamari cooked in its own ink. The restaurants of Mexico City have top-notch food and service.

downtown mx city pic

As the sun sank lower in the sky, we made our way to a rooftop club, Mundo Joven (Young World). A DJ was silhouetted against the imposing, historic buildings of the Mexico City skyline, pumping out innovative house music. To me, this epitomized the blending of old and new that you’ll find in the bonita Ciudad de Mexico

That night, we ate at a yummy taqueria, where we tried pastor (pork) tacos with pineapple and an appetizer of cactus and toasted cheese (my first time ever eating a cactus), and we fell completely in love with coconut milk. I wish we could import these traditional Mexican tacos into the states…I’ve never tasted anything like them. Then again, they just give us more incentive to return to Mexico City!

Our last day in Mexico, we went to the pyramids in Teotihuacan, the City of the Gods. I remembered learning about this place in high school Spanish class, and was psyched to see the Piramide del Sol y la Piramide de la Luna

Armed with our sombreros and SPF 50 sunscreen, we climbed to the top of the Sun and Moon Pyramids. As soon as I stepped onto the Piramide del Sol, I felt as if I was being touched by history, and a bit of magic. Antonio even found a butterfly, which I carried toward the top of the pyramid. When we reached a scenic overlook, I released the mariposa and we both made a wish. And when we reached the top of the pyramid, we sat on the side overlooking the Piramide de la Luna, and meditated, reflecting on life and love. Seeing this awe-inspiring, enduring piece of the past helped us to appreciate the many things in this world that are bigger than we are…yet, somehow, it also made us reach deeper into our own essences, looking further into ourselves for meaning and inner peace.

We climbed the Piramide de la Luna next; only the bottom set of steep steps was open to the public. But we were okay with this. The first tier of the pyramid afforded us a first-class view of the Piramide del Sol, and we were able to sit on the edge, dangling our feet below as we basked in the sunshine like lizards. It was a pretty amazing afternoon.

Climbing the Piramid de la Luna

Climbing the Piramide de la Luna

We left Mexico City that night exhausted, yet recharged…completely inspired for the work week ahead. And ever since I’ve been back home, my writing has been on fire. It seems that all we needed for a bit of physical and creative renewal was a weekend surrounded with scintillating artistic and ancient culture!