Recharging your creative bucket...

I recently celebrated my...(insert number here)...birthday and wanted to share with you how much fun I didn't expect to have. You get to a point in your life where you try to let birthdays pass you by without acknowledging that you're another year older. If I had been successful at this, I'd still think I was twenty-six!

Alas, somehow, my children manage to remind me of this day in one fashion or another. Since one is a teenager, she manages to make me feel old by bombarding me with attitude day in and day out, then forgetting that her mother has a birthday until someone else reminds her that the world does not revolve around her.

My other daughter is on the other side of the world with her husband in the Air Force and unable to spend the blessed day with me in person, but manages to coordinate the time to call me (her night, my day) and wish me well and tell me she loves me. Ahhh...gotta love the dedication.

Now where is this leading? Ah yes...my son...the twenty-three-year-old with a sense of adventure. His idea of how to make my birthday happy was to take me four-wheeling on ATV's. I'm thinking, this is his birthday wish, not mine!

I would have enjoyed breakfast in bed and a day to read a great book. But nooooo. My son, bless his misguided heart, drives four hours, pulling a trailer with two four-wheelers loaded on it, to come to see me and take me and my husband (who also has a four-wheeler he calls mine) out in the mountains to ride.

I love my son and can't manage to disappoint him, so I paste on the happy face and direct the loading of the third four-wheeler on to the truck (men just can't get by without the woman directing their efforts). After a one-and-a-half hour drive to the mountains, we finally get there, unload, and crank up the engines.

I can hear the roar of other four-wheelers racing through the woods and mountains with hunters dressed in camouflage and wonder if this might NOT be a good time of year to be out and about. After all, this is the first weekend of bow and muzzle-loading hunting. But I revive my game face and climb on.

That's where the fun begins.

We start bumping along trails with fallen logs, boulders, and steep hills that scare the living daylights out of me, down into ravines, up over hilltops, and back down again. I'm ready to call it a day at ten minutes into the ride. My son is grinning ear-to-ear. How can I tell him I'm through? "Having fun, Mom?"

Oh yeah, I like losing years off my life every time I'm bumping down hills at insane speeds heading straight for immovable objects (trees), or climbing hills that go straight up wondering if my bike is going to flip over and ride me back down the opposite direction. Yeah, I'm having fun.

Then we come out on a dirt road. Ahhhhh...Seems my son is losing years off his life watching me lose years off my life and takes pity on me. We ride twenty miles along a dirt road taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. The sun is shining, the air is cool, but not cold, I'm with my son and husband, the breeze blowing through my helmet, and I'm having a blast!

What a wonderful birthday present to get from my son! He knows me better than I know myself.

What does this have to do with writing? A writer has to recharge her creative bucket with real-life experiences. After that ride in the mountains, I felt completely recharged and ready to get back to work. Yeah, it was tiring, but it was a good tired.

I was filled with a sense of wonder at nature and the love my son has for me to offer me such a wonderful birthday present. After such a terrific adventure, I was ready to get back to writing exciting, action-filled romances. I'm already thinking of a storyline involving a heroine insanely racing through the mountains to escape some unknown enemy.

What's the most unusual birthday gift you've received that recharged your bucket of energy and creativity?

Myla Jackson