What’s Going On:


20140226-201346.jpgI will be putting some old drafts on Wattpad so I don’t waste all the words. That’s over five drafts and each one is a different story, even though they were supposedly the same when I wrote them.

I’m going to edit very lightly, taking out only errors that make me flinch–because part of this is seeing a timeline of my writing as it improved. A mermaid story turned into one about Muses.

I don’t know how–but that’s one of the great things about art. You never know what will happen.

A sample of Dissonance is up here if you’d like to read it (yes, three chapters off the real actual almost-final draft! I have to nitpick it one last time, but that’s all.)

I’m open for return reads–as long as it is not a vampire novel or fan-fic. No OneDirection fan fiction!  Comment here or message me here on Wattpad if you would like to swap! I will give you the best, honest critique I can!

Click to visit my Wattpad profile!

Raconteur is also on Wattpad, and it’s my favorite side project. I decided to try a freestyle story but it wound up getting a plot. Let me know what you think!

I’m excited to read your stories, so contact me!

Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton


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Thomas Merton was born in France in 1915, and during his younger years religion seemed unimportant. They moved a lot–his life was hectic, where for the most part he never seemed able to settle anywhere–they moved to New York, and then for a short time to Bermuda. After that he spent some time in a French boarding school, until his father decided they were both going to England–so Merton had to leave the place after he finally settled..

Merton wasn’t someone you’d expect to become a Trappist monk. In fact, he didn’t even expect himself to ever become Catholic. For a while he would play with ideas and mull over philosophies, but never made the move to even visit Mass until adulthood. This was my favorite chapter, where he was so overwhelmed by the thought of Jesus being present that he left before the Consecration.

In his sprawling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, Merton tells us about his conversion to Catholicism: How God pursued him for most of his young years, relentlessly tugging at his heart until he was finally baptized in 1938. It’s a conversion story that shows how thoroughly the Lord wants us, no matter what our history, no matter how stubborn we are and despite philosophies that might corrupt our times.

What I enjoyed most about this autobiography was how beautifully it was written. Thomas Merton was also born a writer, and much of the time his reflections sounded like my diary. Everywhere he went, he had to be writing–even after becoming a Trappist, the monks had him write his poetry and translate old books. You see that God gives people gifts for a reason: No talent is an accident, and they should not be wasted.

Let me share my favorite passage from the Epilogue:

By this time I should have been delivered of any problems about my true identity. I had already made my simple profession. And my vows should have divested me of the last shreds of any personal identity.

But then there was this shadow, this double, this writer who had followed me into the cloister.

He is still on my track. He rides my shoulders, sometimes, like the old man of the sea. I cannot lose him. He still wears the name of Thomas Merton. Is it the name of an enemy?

He is supposed to be dead.

But he stands and meets me in the doorway of all my prayers, and follows me into church. He kneels with me behind the pillar, the Judas, and talks to me all the time in my ear.

He is a business man. He is full of ideas. He breathes notions and new schemes. He generates books in the silence that ought to be sweet with the infinitely productive darkness of contemplation.

And the worst of it is, he has my superiors on his side. They won’t kick him out. I can’t get rid of him.

Maybe in the end he will kill me, he will drink my blood.

Nobody seems to understand that one of us has got to die. (Pages 448-449)

Merton’s autobiography can be found here as a PDF. It isn’t light reading–in fact, I only got through it the second try. His writing is so complex, has such depth, that when I first got the book I couldn’t relate to it. Now that I’m older, I seem to understand better: We are almost kindred spirits. I don’t think I have a vocation to the religious life, but if I did, I would struggle like he did to kill my inner writer. I struggle already to quiet my mind long enough to pray in peace.

Perhaps we aren’t supposed to kill our inner artist–after all, aren’t we made in His image? Doesn’t that mean we all have the instinct of a Creator within us? I don’t think God wants us to kill that creator, but rather use our imaginations to carry out the mission we are given. I’ve always seen it this way, but it makes a lot more sense now that I know I’m not the first one to struggle with this, and certainly won’t be the last.

The Seven Storey Mountain isn’t light reading, but it is worth every moment. I rate it 4/5 stars, and really hope you will give it a try.

Good Friday


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I’m a nine-year-old Catholic, and every time I go to Mass I remember why I am so glad to be Catholic. It doesn’t have to be Lent or even Easter Vigil (even though that’s my favorite.)

Mass is literally Heaven on earth, and nothing will ever be able to replace it now that I’ve realized that. If only more people were taught this while young–taught to feel it as well as just know–we wouldn’t have so many fall away. When you actually feel it in your heart instead of only knowing, it’s beautiful.

Of course, faith isn’t about feelings–it would be wrong to think that either. A lot of things are true although we cannot feel it, mostly because we don’t want it to be true: We don’t like to be told what to do. We can try to feel it, but we won’t like the feelings that come with it, such as conviction or the itch that we need to change something about ourselves.

We don’t want to change, think we’re fine just the way we are, but there’s always room for improvement. Christianity isn’t for warm, fuzzy feelings. It’s about polishing us through fire to make us into saints.

I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.
—C.S. Lewis

This weekend it all just sinks in, how much He loves us. He doesn’t need us around, but died so we could be with Him anyway. We’re so used to selfish love, the “What can you do for me?” mindset, that we cannot wrap our minds around love like that. 

There is nothing we can do for Jesus except love Him back, and many of us fail to do even that. To act out our faith seems to require too much effort, and so we throw His sacrifice right in His face.

On Easter, though, we are forced to look at Him again: To see what He did for us.

That’s what Good Friday is for. Today when they brought out the wooden cross, it was powerful. There’s no way to get around it when we see it right in front of us. If we rely on feelings to prove a religion true, what can we do when we’re faced to look right at His sacrifice?

Some will cry, some will be in awed silence–others still will remain lukewarm.

For me, I was in awed silence. I did tremble, and thanked Him, and reminded myself that I need to fall in love with Jesus every single day–not just on Easter.

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter Vigil!

Watercolor Season


For some reason, this time of the year I always feel like being a painter again. I don’t pretend I will ever be professional, but I like making things–with all sorts of mediums. I dug out my stash of watercolors again and painted something.

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The title is “rebirthday” because 4/17 is the day I was baptized. I got sentimental, okay?

I can eventually get more realistic if I just practice. The problem is finding time to sit down and practice. I have the exact same issue with the piano and guitar (I use the piano more than I use my guitar…I haven’t played that in over two years.)

From April to about August, I practice a lot–and then as the weather gets colder, I lose interest again. After the trees lose their color and autumn is through, I don’t want to paint anymore.

Why bother if snow is white? I hate white pencils, markers, and (unless I need it to make a mixture) paint. Idaho winters tend to be nothing but snow and slush (which is gray.)

Spring is my watercolor season. I think the flowers, rain, and smell of life inspire me again. Even if it only comes in bursts and does not last more than a few weeks, I enjoy the sensation of creating something that doesn’t involve words. We all need to leave our comfort zones now and then.

Do you have tips for painting in the winter? Is springtime “watercolor season” for you, too?

Nine Years Catholic


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Before my baptism in 2005, the Sacred Heart devotion was already important to my spiritual life.

April 17 marks my ninth year as a baptized Catholic. I found myself reflecting on the years since Mom decided we’d go back to church. I don’t remember the actual moment I was baptized; rather, emotions come to mind–such as the sensation of belonging. I was young, but still knew I’d come home.

My heart was already Catholic before I was baptized. My grandmother would come from Peru with her beautiful statues and holy cards. She taught me to pray, and before my baptism I was making the Sign of the Cross in times of unease. I was in love with the depth of a spiritual life—the thought of going to church, praying with the certainty that Someone was there, even if I didn’t officially belong to a religion.

I was baptized at the age of eleven, less than two weeks after JPII’s death. At that age it seems easier to believe without questioning: My soul was drawn to Catholicism, the beautiful faith to which I finally belonged.

One thing didn’t change: Every time someone spoke of Jesus, I thought of my grandma’s Sacred Heart holy card. It isn’t accurate to what He really looked like, but there is a certain passion in His eyes. I always felt safe when I focused on that image. Some will call this idolatry, but in my heart He always looks on me with those eyes.

Even when I didn’t know it was actually a devotion, I was devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. No matter how many beautiful devotions I learn of, it always comes back to this. I have framed that holy card and placed it on my desk. I know Jesus looks different to everybody; however, I always see those eyes fixated like in the painting.

I don’t have family pictures framed–only this card.

Being Christian doesn’t make life easy, however it gives us strength to cope with trials. I’ve dealt with surgeries, periods of depression, loss and loneliness, Dark Nights of the Soul and more. The Church is one thing that never changed–much like His love for me, which keeps her going. I always wound up coming back when my hobbies became watered down.

I could not find wholeness anywhere else.

St. Augustine’s words ring true in my head: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” I used to think that quote overused until I realized how well it relates to me. When I open my heart, I realize it only rests with Him and His own Sacred Heart. That devotion in me, even when I didn’t know of it.

Isn’t it a beautiful thing to think about? His Heart belongs to all of us—and ours were made for Him.

We live in a world obsessed with relationships, and if you want to use traditional imagery, we want to give our hearts to someone. We want to be trusted with someone’s heart. In this devotion we know His heart belongs to us. It’s an actual relationship greater than romantic or familial: A relationship with the God of the Universe.

He can’t be contained in an image—indeed, His heart is too big for that—The point is, we easily forget that He loves us with all His Heart. No other relationship will make us whole, no other heart is worth having. I’ve felt His presence since before my baptism, felt it in a personal way which was His Heart. It’s always been around to comfort me, and still is now, though I’m older and find it harder to concentrate on prayer.

My own heart is always restless on her own. She’s never satisfied if He’s not in the picture, and even when she strays, He brings her back. I’m not perfect, and nine years later have a long way to go—Sainthood is a neverending process. Jesus is always going to be waiting patiently with a Heart greater than I can imagine, one that’s marvelous and fills me with wonder.

Blurry photo of a photo of my baptism. Hopefully I will find a better one soon.

Blurry photo of a photo of my baptism. Hopefully I will find a better one soon.

Paper Towns by John Green


Spoiler Alert!

PaperTowns2009_6APurchase Here

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

I started Paper Towns on the plane to Vegas and finished it on the way back.

The book has such an undertone of melancholy to it. Even in humorous scenes, like when Ben is doing something crazy, we can feel that the author has an ache in his heart. Something’s missing in the character’s life and we, the readers, feel it as well: The void Margo left. We don’t care about the other kids having a good prom; we don’t care about anything except solving this mystery because we feel Q’s emptiness if he doesn’t. The main character is so real that we feel his pain.

When Q starts finding clues Margo left behind—or at least, we presume it was her—we go with him on a thrilling, heartbreaking journey. I watched Q crack the codes she left, discovering new leads. He’s in love with this girl and wants to find her, even if he doesn’t find her alive.

It’s not a happy kind of love: It’s a quiet, powerful, broken love. Margo fascinates him because she goes out of the box to live her life in ways he’d be scared to do himself. The first nine chapters made me smile because she has a whole plan to wreak havoc on town, and though he sometimes tries halfheartedly to talk her into sense, Q enjoys every bit of her craziness. He thinks it’s beautiful, and this is what causes him to fall in love—becoming one of the only kids in school obsessively searching when she vanishes.

I loved the book, but towards the end I did not like Margo. Compared to the first chapters detailing the adventure they had, Margo later on seems tired and out of character. Like Q’s other friends, I question if it was worth all the trouble they went through to find her. Perhaps for Q it was, since love is love, but she took the whole thing so calmly–as if she didn’t expect anyone to follow her, an unfair reaction. The ending in general didn’t satisfy me, but as a whole I would read this book again.

Note: If crude language bothers you, there’s quite a bit of it here, but all in character.

It was my first John Green novel, and I see why people enjoy his writing. It isn’t super complex, yet has a depth characteristic to him only. Soon I’ll get around to reading The Fault in our Stars. I’ve avoided that book for long enough!

Hidden Rebellion: The Reason for the Film


When a story remains untold, a lot of sacrifices vanish in thin air. Not many seek these stories to revive them. Hidden Rebellion stands out for unearthing a chapter of the French Revolution few will know. Blessed by a Bishop of France, it will be a great story of faith and martyrs.

The About page on Hidden Rebellion’s official website tells of an epic history:

An 18th Century popular and Catholic uprising against the French Revolution is brutally suppressed by the Revolutionary armies. Priests and nuns are drowned, hung and thrown to an angry mob. A prayerful, peaceful region of France defends its clergy, resists the higher taxes and refuses to wage war.

Victorious at first, the Vendeans are later defeated in a 150,000 person extermination that includes the slaying of women and children so that “the race does not persist” and the world looks on as a quarter of the population vanishes.

The destruction of the population in the Vendee region was a goal of the French Revolutionary forces and raises a number of important issues related to religious liberty and political tyranny that are even more relevant and timely in light of today’s geo-political climate.

I asked the film producer, Daniel Rabourdin, why they decided to start on this project and what effect they hoped it would have. His answer was thorough and shows incredible dedication. I hope you’ll take the time to spread word about this project and donate, but if you can’t give money, please send up a prayer.

God Bless,

-Mariella

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Why did I start this crazy, risky production called The Hidden Rebellion? Why do I desperately ask for your help in a little donation? I’m a fool, preferring to take a risk and produce something good–preferring it to a comfortable job.

Four years ago, I found an old comic book in my family basement in France. It was about the adventure of a Vendéan boy who succeeded to steal a canon from the soldiers of the French Revolution with his friends.

I had just finished a docudrama on Saint Joan of Arc so I was all about action filming. Plus, this story based on true events had all that I could wish for as a film writer. There was injustice, there was a David versus Goliath situation, there was a story that our cultural elites had tried to hide for several centuries.

thr-poster-final-01-2Those same elites tried during my teenage years to extirpate faith from my soul. How did they dare use their authority as adults and teachers to do a job nobody asked them to? This was child abuse, spiritual abuse.

Initially, the farmers of Vendée (living a bit south of Normandy) had nothing against the French Revolution. They even bought government bonds more than any other region of France. But then they went through one injustice after another, those injustices bloody and scary.

Their priests had to swear obedience to the State. If they refused, there were rounded up and deported–even old priests! Ships on the high sea would dump them in the waters. City people would buy the goods of the Church. The government appointed employees to lead parishes in place of their priests.

The Revolutionaries had one goal: To build up a new man, even if it meant using violence. The people had to be freed of the old man…by force.

Pretty soon, Robespierre invented a religion with Reason as their goddess. He was the high priest. People in the streets had to call each other citizens for fear of being arrested. Many words they used to say became “mined” and dangerous.

Does it all sound familiar?

CHL_8678Then the sons of France where forced to wage war on the rest of Europe to spread those Revolutionary ideas. The calamities would go with an unsurprising tag: Higher taxes. All the utopian plans had to be paid for…

In many ways the mounting oppression that believers suffer in France and America resemble those of the French Revolution. They are just tiny in comparison, but are of the same nature: The State knows what is better for us, and will force us to be happier.

This is the last great reason for my production: To tell the Social Engineers that playing with society in the past has ended in horrible disasters. They should be aware of this.

After living in America for 25 years, it became easier for me to realize the atheistic abuses of France. I was not mocked here, threatened or put apart when my Christian faith was known.  Once upon a time in America, I tasted more religious freedom. The recent and final motivator to produce Hidden Rebellion was seeing the arrogance of atheistic “elites” who pretend that all evil came from religious or ethnic pride. They imply that social nightmares never came from intellectual atheistic utopias.

They work on making us forget the Nazis, the Soviets, or China. The atheistic Nazis, whose name comes from National-Socialism, are estimated to have been the cause of 40 million deaths directly or indirectly. The atheistic Communists in Russia are estimated to have caused around 20 million deaths. Then their catastrophic utopia spread to China (65 million), Cambodia (2 million), Vietnam (1 million), Latin America (150 000) etc.

And guess what? One of the first social magicians was Lenin, who called the Volga where he drowned his Russian peasants, his Petite Loire River. The Loire River was were the French Revolutionaries drowned their priests and Véndean farmers…

donate-footerAtheist ideas can become very fascistic ideologies, causing misery on earth. They’re not the only ones to cause miseries, but are quite good at it too.

Then again, those “elites” are maybe repeating the same calumnies about faith so much that they forget the historical truth.

So here we are with our production Hidden Rebellion, left with little help because we are not politically correct. However, with the Internet we can reach many who read us–and they can change things.

It is called a grassroots movement, and we are many–you and I, all those reading this post. We are many. Small donations from many people can benefit productions we agree with. So if you like what you’ve read, if you discover on our official page that you love it, please help us send to the media landscape a fascinating docudrama on the brave Vendéans.

Click here to donate. Thank you!

Daniel Rabourdin
Producer

Travel & Adventure


“Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.”
— Unknown

You can learn a lot in four days.

There’s really no way to ever see all of a city. Even when you live somewhere, you’re not going to see all of it. The population doesn’t really make a difference: Places with small populations leave more room to wonder about the environment; and if there’s a huge population, the people-watching can be epic.

During a four-day trip to Las Vegas, I found so many stories before my eyes–stories that have not been written–and I will never be able to write them all. Yet they will cling and come through in how I see life, and the environment of my own stories.

There are buildings of literally every size, enormous and tiny; there are all kinds of restaurants and stores. Musicians perform on the streets and ensure that there is never a quiet moment. There’s an Eiffel Tower and a Pyramid, a Statue of Liberty and a Colosseum! There are so many different countries in one huge city.

It’s so very different from where I live.

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I saw people dressed in fantastic clothing with nice computers and cars. I saw homeless people on bridges next to these street performers. I’ve been in big cities before, but don’t think I’ll ever really get used to them.

We’re not supposed to–that’s why we travel.

There are some things which can be both beautiful and make one sad. That’s life–we can’t filter things out, and beauty can’t be black or white. Everything is gray and we need to find beauty that will move us, not make us comfortable.

Art is supposed to make us uncomfortable, not just be pretty to look at–and life is like this, too.

Las Vegas has so many lights, and different sounds, from guitars on the streets to people laughing. I heard so many different languages and eavesdropped on some fascinating conversations. (Writers do that–stay away from me if you don’t want eavesdropping.) Sometimes it felt like The Great Gatsby, and others it felt like nothing I’d ever imagined.

Inside the Paris hotel, it felt like a Charles Dickens novel. There were cute mini buildings inside the casino, and a blue ceiling that looked like the night sky. I didn’t see a lot of murals outdoors like I hoped, but saw art in so many other forms.

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Four days taught me a lot.

I learned what I already knew: Adventure can be an hour away or ten, and makes life worthwhile. I also realized–once again–that the world is bigger than we could imagine.

You don’t have to leave home in order to find an adventure, but to write a good book at home, you need to go outside and see how things are.

To see beauty, we have to look at things outside our comfort zones. Just because we don’t have to leave home to find something new, does not mean we should stay home where it’s comfy.

I encourage you to go out where things might scare you–if you want to live life to the fullest.

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I loved this vacation. It was more than just seeing new places and taking pictures of pretty buildings. It was more than just meeting a friend and visiting a different state. It was more than just walking around and seeing people. This trip was short but so poignant–I saw many stories and had many sink into my heart.

Travel is about living, and seeing things differently, and finding out how life is outside your front door. I would go back, and plan to at some point. (There’s a Bavarian restaurant that was beautiful–but there was no time to visit it!)

When I eventually get to work on the plot bunnies I picked up in Las Vegas, I’ll have to revisit the city and immerse myself again. Hopefully I’ll stay longer and see the smaller gems. Beyond the giant hotels and casinos, there are tiny places that have just as much story–if only I had more time!

This is not going to be the last adventure I ever have, but it’ll be one of the first and boldest. My travel journal does not have stories–rather, it’s got observations and inner thought. These things will grow to expand my worldview and make stories deeper.

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Do not hesitate to go someplace new, even if it’s outside your comfort zone–especially so. Pay attention, and notice when there’s something questionable about a situation, for that helps you recognize the Truth in smaller things.

Never hesitate to meet a friend, and don’t stick to the popular eating places. Try to go where you’ll have your own adventure, not just where everyone else flocks! Swim against the current; be the different person, and do something every day that frightens you. 

There will be things to do at home that frighten you, but at home it’s tempting to just stay with what’s comfortable. To really see differently, you have to go out. I wonder where my next adventure will be–then realize it can be right here. “When’s the next time I can do something cool?” I wonder–and realize I can do something right here, right now, that I’ve never done before.

Opportunity can appear at random times, but that doesn’t mean to stop looking for it and creating it. In the end you choose your path and the places you see: Don’t wait for adventure to happen. Make it happen. 

One of the things I learned this week was that I don’t have to stop having fun when I get home. Excitement will happen if I look for it.

Excitement is something that doesn’t just happen; you can make it happen, and you should. Do something that scares you. Do something that’ll change how you see. Do something you’ll remember.

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Update on my Adventure


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We arrived on Sunday and I was shocked that the weather was just so wonderfully warm.

I’ve been so many places these past two days, it’s almost disconcerting. I have been inside a pyramid and hope to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower.

This place is fascinating. There are so many different people here. I see friendship, competition, beauty, mystery, old and new. I have so much to write about when I get the chance to sit down with a notebook.

There are so many possible stories here.

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Travel really does help you see. I’m excited to see how perception of my own home will have changed after this adventure.

You want to take pictures of everything and capture everything to remember it later–but the more you try to remember something, you’ll miss important details. Even a writer can’t remember all the important things. What’s most beautiful will stick–the poignant stories, the ones you’ll tell later.

Everything else will probably just slip through the cracks into a story I write. It’s happened before. I really have no control over it–isn’t that how it is with most art?

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Go travel. Really. The world is different just an hour away from where you live. You’ll get to the dream vacation eventually–but don’t let that blind you from what’s already here.

Going anywhere can be an adventure if you make it so. Your whole life could appear different when you get back!

It’s going to be difficult to beat this week. This is definitely a bold point of my year. It’s not let me down so far, and though I know there’ll be other adventures, this’ll be one of the greatest; I’ll remember this one.

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Late Spring Break


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Like said in my previous post, I will be in Las Vegas for five days–people-watching, exploring, meeting a friend, and taking way too many selfies in front of murals. I’m excited about the updates I’ll be posting during the trip–or after, since I’m probably not going to be on the Internet much during the trip. I am going to journal a lot, and share my experiences later.

One of the most popular bits of advice I’m reading from people who travel often is don’t try to plan things. A trip is more about what we perceive in our hearts than what we get on photographs. We’re not going to remember a certain landmark so much as we will remember the way we felt coming to it. It’s the old cliche stating the journey is just as important as the destination–if not more so.

I don’t have a plan. What comes will come. Isn’t that what an adventure is?

Las Vegas is way out of my comfort zone. So far from my comfort zone that it almost makes me nervous thinking of it–but all the movement and magic is certain to give me stories to tell. I love traveling so much, and am excited to visit someplace new!

In the plane I’m finally going to read a John Green. Paper Towns is the only book in my backpack. I want to actually finish a book I start reading. My habit of starting a new book in the middle of my reading another is stopping me from beating the Goodreads challenge. I’m going to finish reading this book, I will!

Have you traveled anywhere for Spring Break this year? Where? What experiences did it bring you?