Child’s Play

I was more nervous than I thought I’d be when Loura McRae, the owner of All God’s Children Child Enrichment Center, asked me to speak about my job to a group of children. First of all, there was the age range; 5-10 year olds. How was I supposed to get a 5 year old excited about writing when she can only spell a couple words? How was I supposed to convince a 10 year old at summer camp that writing is fun, and this isn’t like school?

I thought back to my beginnings…the age old question I’m always asked, “Lorna, when did you start writing?”

“Always,” I answer, “I wrote before I even knew how to hold a pen.”

I realized I wasn’t going to convince these kids of anything. My original plan was to go in and have them co-write a story with me. I’d start them off, and we’d all add events until we had a finished product. Then I stopped and thought…that is just a writing activity. Yes, I’d be asking them to use their imaginations, but on something I prompted. It was an assignment. That would never inspire them; it would have been a task with a beginning and end, and would never linger once I left the room. It would be about something I asked them to do instead of something they discovered on their own. I had a real shot to introduce these kids to expresssion, and had to be careful not to make a lesson of it.

I started by asking them their likes and dislikes…movies, books, video games, activities, and showed them how without writers who chase the things that run through their heads to write them down, we wouldn’t have any of it. I then asked them what they know about some place they’d never been…another city or country, and opened their eyes to how writing, voice, opinion, and personality connects us to the things we haven’t even experienced.

I let them know writing has no limits at all, and it isn’tabout a pen and paper or computer. It is about creating and experiencing, and making it so other people can too. It is communicating humanity. It’s art. Writers give legs to the lame, vision to the blind, and music to the deaf.

All I knew to do was share my passion with them, and that’s what I did. I started telling them about blogging about a hot air balloon ride on a magical morning, and how the words came when I simply imagined myself there again, letting the experience speak for me. They started telling me things they had seen and felt, and what they’d been reminded of in certain experiences. They were so excited, and they were writing to me already!

I then read them an unpublished manuscript of mine based on a fairy hunt I created to stop a friend’s daughter from crying after a bee sting. I explained how a fairy tale was born from just reflecting on something that really happened. I could see little light bulbs flashing on in their eyes…they were thinking up things like this of their own.

When I passed out journals I’d made for them, they couldn’t wait to fill them with the stories and ideas that were starting to generate. They loved that it was not to turn in and no one had to ever see it. The younger children were excited to learn they could even draw their stories, or simply tell them to anyone who’ll listen.

These kids were fired up when I left, and the warm reception I experienced at All God’s Children was definitely soup for my writer’s soul. It gave me a chance to remember the early days when I was writing just to get it out, because something was that exciting to me. That’s how it should always be. Writing isn’t sentences, grammar, or impressing people. It’s making connections with anything and everything outside the words that become the sweetest deliverence. Just connections…that’s it…child’s play.

The smiling faces at All God's Children with their journals!  They even let me photo-bomb :)

The smiling faces at All God’s Children with their journals! They even let me photo-bomb 🙂

Stay tuned for one of these children’s stories to be featured on this August!

Also contact Loura McRae at 828-515-0661 for more information on child care! She’s awesome!

Railway of Dreams

The best way to tour a city is to know it, actually meet it, date it, and learn its history. Don’t we see new places for that very reason?  Don’t we travel to become part of something charming we’ve been bored for, and to find something steeped in a past we’ll weave a connection to?

I’ve had that priviledge, here in my own city.  A 3 mile ride over a once abandoned railroad track did it for me.  It wasn’t the ambiance of the French Broad trailing beside me, or the delightful park we stopped at to picnic and pose for family pictures at, though those places were among the highlights.  For me it was the story.  It was learning the track had sat there for nearly 60 years awaiting a promise.  The track had been useful once, told it would feed into bigger better tracks, and become a part of what Asheville was at the time; a city of railroads leading to industrial dreams, or just public transportation.  The Craggy Mountain Line was promised it would be part of the buzz that eventually had no room for it.  People forgot.

However, a man was born on August 10, 1964, that would save the railroad.  This man rode out of the womb on a steam engine with a dream as long as the track itself.  An avid trainlover, with a passion bordering insanity, his destiny would be to fulfil this railroad’s promise.  It would be a functioning part of Asheville one day.  Even better, it would be saved in the ninth hour, preserving the last of Asheville’s trolley , and usher in an era of old to the new generation.  It would bring joy to the smiling faces of children and train enthusiasts everywhere.  It would become more than hoped for, and would stand the test of time unlike the more prestigious rails that once thrived downtown.  It would carry those cars on its tired rails and reign once again.  It would become the little track that could.

My blessing?  I married into this dream, wedding the son of that man gifted to the lonely track.  I get to become a part of this history up close and personal, sharing my knowledge of it with the world.  This is as much a part of Asheville’s quaint history as anything I’ve seen.

A work in progress, the track will hopefully be open full time in the coming months.  Now, however, keep your eyes peeled for special holiday events, birthday party opportunities, and Saturday night rides.  Taste history, and become it’s family.  You’ll feel the dream when you first step foot on this line, the hallmark of perseverence.

post by:  Lorna Hollifield

For more by Lorna visit and find her on twitter!



A Visit to Hendersonville from Asheville NC

Asheville is my home; Hendersonville is my neighbor. I am not much for long vacations or traveling out of town every other weekend. I guess you can call me an Asheville Homebody. Now I love adventures, but my hometown provides many.

When I do take a little break, I like to visit the neighboring communities on the outskirts of Asheville. Hendersonville NC is usually my 1st choice. I love their downtown scene and layout. They have a great community there, good food, a brewery, a winery and more. The perfect “mini-mini” vacation spot, just 20 minutes from downtown Asheville.

Recently I took the late afternoon off and went to Hendersonville for the evening. On the recommendation of RelyLocal Hendersonville, I ended up staying at the gorgeous Claddagh Inn located at 755 North Main Street, which is one block away from the beginning of the downtown stroll. I spent about 15 minutes outside in excitement, taking photos of this place. Being able to stay somewhere so nice and comfortable, and then being able to walk to everything was great.

After getting comfortable in the King room, we got ready and started to walk. While walking in downtown Hendersonville, we visited several shops, went window shopping and just enjoyed this town filled with Southern Hospitality to the fullest. For dinner, we ended up at Champa Sushi & Thai Cuisine, and glad we did. We ordered a cocktail to start, then an appetizer, then a FEAST! Great food, service, and an awesome experience for us.

The evening at the Claddagh Inn was wonderful. I got back, browsed this historic home even more, took pictures, then went back to the room to get some work done and relax. They had a cute little upper observation deck I was able to go out on, get some air and think for a few.

Waking up at Claddagh Inn Hendersonville was beautiful. I threw on some slippers and headed downstairs to consummate my “Bed & Breakfast” experience. And the food was delicious. I could not have found a better morning meal at any breakfast spot in my town or this town.

When it got time to leave, my conscience kept telling me “I will definitely be back here” .. and it is true. I am trying to plan a “day away” from Asheville at least once a month, and going to Hendersonville NC fulfilled and confirmed my desire.