Wednesday, October 3, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different - Part Two

Hi everyone! It's been a loooong while since I've checked in here! Summer was crazy.....but lovely at the same time. Kelowna had a gorgeous summer with lots of hot hot days, just the way I like it. It always goes by so fast, though, and before I knew it fall was here.

My daughter left for Spain in September to be an au pair for eight months. My middle son is graduating this year and the youngest is in grade nine. Everyone is busy and happy doing their thang.

I knew this fall would feel different, as a Mom especially. I'm not needed as much anymore. Except for feeding the hungry horde (I am known to cook a meal occasionally, which is always appreciated), driving, and being around for emotional support and Gestapo-like laundry and bathing checks (two teenage boys? Come on!)

So I started to consider what MY fall would look like. Or rather, what I wanted it to look like. I have focused on my writing for the past four years, and it's been great. I finished my first novel, started a second, started a third. I'm proud of what I've accomplished and what I've learned.

But....things were feeling stale. I found I wasn't writing regularly, and that bothered me. Was I just being lazy, or was I ready for something else? I hated it when people would ask me, 'so, how's the writing going?' or, 'got that book published yet?' I'd mutter some lame answer and slink away.

I began to think about what was really going on.....besides guilt. Digging under the layers of 'should' and 'have to' were hard. Anyways, I came up with a crazy idea....just crazy enough that it might be the answer!

My next post will talk about what I'm doing now and how it's going, and what I'm learning....about myself and others.......

Check in soon!


Friday, May 18, 2012

By The Sea

I'm on a little excursion this weekend. I've been wanting to visit my Mom, who lives in Chemainus, for ages, and things kept getting in the way. Now that I'm feeling better (yay antibiotics!) and had a free weekend, I hopped in my truck and headed to the coast.

There's nothing I like better than getting to the ocean. I really miss it. Yes, Kelowna has a beautiful lake, but it's just not the same. The waves, the smell of seaweed, the marine life.....bliss! So, I left a day early and snuck into the Beach Club Resort in Parksville for a night. I've never stayed here before, and I was pleasantly surprised. The rooms are lovely, with little balconies looking right onto the beach. There's a boardwalk that goes forever, and when the tide is out (like this morning), you can walk for miles. It's a great place to get inspired and, for me, do some writing. I'm working on a new story idea, and I must say, sitting on the deck looking out at the sea is sure helping in the creative department!

Here's some pics for you!

                                             the ferry leaving Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver
                                              the beautiful beach

                                                    Beach Club Resort

                                                      view from my balcony
                                                     view this morning, with the tide out

Hope you all have a wonderful long weekend. Happy Victoria Day!!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Doctors and Fevers and Chills, Oh My....

If you read my previous post about being sick, you'll be interested to know that I Am. Still. Sick.
The doctors don't think I've contracted pneumonia, however my body and my research on the internet (which is enough to scare the pants off anyone, do you agree?) tells me differently. So today, I'm off to see Doctor #3. Considering I can hardly pull myself off the couch, this should be interesting. I've never seen my kids so eager to leave for school/work, as they listen to my convulsive hacking with alarmed glances.

I've never been one to whine about my health. I don't believe it benefits me to harp on about this or that pain or illness. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and have been dealing with it for five years. I have a 'soldier on' mentality, and tend to just deal. So forgive me my self-indulgent whining in this post.

Anyhoo, as my brain capacity is at a bit of a low point, (my daughter asked me how I was doing with life these days, and I honestly couldn't think of an answer. All I know is YUK.) my blog posts have fallen to the wayside. But have no fear, faithful readers! (and if you are one, thank you! I owe you chocolate :) I am giving you a little Instragram update for your viewing pleasure. Hope you enjoy my rather inept attempts at photography.

                                                 pensive Victoria
                                                     Shasta, close
                                                possibly my all time fave of Shasta! She's smiling!
                                          the spectacular view (and wine!) from Mission Hill Winery
                                             Kelowna during a thunderstorm
                                              photo credit, Hunter
                                             3 pretty martinis!
                                             a tree decorated for Easter I spotted while out on a run.

                                              A Dome in Rome!

Happy Monday!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The War of Art

I have a new favourite book these days. It's called The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. He starts out the book with this statement:

'Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.'

He goes on to explain the concept of Resistance as the force that keeps us living in the mediocre - the treadmill we never use, the career we never pursued, the passion we never followed. He defines Resistance as the thing that prevents us from achieving the life God intended for us.
It keeps us from our calling.

Otherwise knows as Fear.

As a writer, this is all too familiar. Anyone I've met who is pursuing their creativity struggles with it. When I was in Banff for the Writing With Style Series, this subject came up a lot. Here we were, artists surrounded by a nurturing, supportive environment. And yet when we were faced with reading our work in front of everyone else, we all felt the same. Scared silly.

Pressfield writes: 'Henry Fonda was still throwing up before each stage performance, even when he was seventy-five. In other words, fear doesn't go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.'

When I was writing the first draft of my first novel, I entered this battle every morning at my desk. Resistance was strong, urging me to give up. Fear had a tight grip around my throat. They whispered in my ear, 'Who do you think you are? As if you could ever write a book. Why don't you just check facebook, or watch a movie.' And every day, for six months, I fought, and just wrote. It was an amazing feeling, to stare Resistance in the face and win.

When I started my second novel, I figured I'd have it easy. I'd already battled, and won. The words would flow, the confidence would surge.

Surprise, surprise, Resistance was there again, ready and willing to go to battle once more. I wilted in it's presence, and backed away. Surely I couldn't still be struggling with the same old fears? Hadn't I learned anything?

That's why The War of Art is so great. It's a lovely kick-in-the-pants, get-off-your-ass and be professional about this, kind of message that I think many artists need to hear. Stop looking at what you do as 'special' and 'intuitive' (even though it is) and treat it like a job. Expect that fear will be lurking around every corner, and that every day will be a battle. And with that knowledge, don't ever let Resistance win. Be a warrior in your life, and amazing things will happen.

Next week, I'll delve into Pressfield's chapter on 'Turning Pro.' Lots of good stuff there.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sickness and Other Stuff

It's been just over a week since I've been home from the Banff Writer's Workshop Workshop on Steroids. Last week, I gave myself permission to relax, process, and recover. I didn't have any expectations on my writing, exercising, or cooking. This week, however, I planned to re-enter life with a whiz-bang. Resume my running schedule, cook some healthy meals, and crack at my WIP with renewed gusto.

The best laid plans....

I got sick. My oldest son, Jordan, acquired pneumonia while I was away, and my younger son, Hunter, got a mini-me version. So, sure enough, Monday morning I get hit with the sick stick and now I'm on the couch, shivering, coughing and generally feeling sorry for myself. No running, which is kind of driving me nuts. No cooking....well, I'm not too broken up about that one. I got my daughter, Victoria, to bring home won ton soup from work last night. Super yummy!

As for writing? What better opportunity, than to be relegated to the couch all day? There's only so many episodes of The Walking Dead I can watch before I turn into a zombie. The books I'm reading aren't really doing it for me. So, time to open that sucker up and get some words down. I'm struggling with setting in a major way with this novel, and I'm still not sure how I will fix it. But I'm going to keep plugging away, and trust that it will sort itself out.

Hope you all have a great week!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Factoid Friday

Hey, it's Friday! I love Friday. It holds all the promise of the weekend, and, for someone who is all about fun, this is a good thing.

I've decided to add a regular feature on Fridays. As you can tell by the title, it's .... Factoid Friday!

Why? Because I like how it sounds. And also because factoids are fun. In case you're not sure of what a factoid is (I had to look it up) here's the definition from wikipedia (because that's such a reliable source).

My favourite thing about the origin of the word is that Norman Mailer invented it back in 1973. He describes a factoid as 'facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper.' And if I may add to that, Mr. Mailer, 'or the internet.'

More recently, news sources such as CNN have re-defined the word as 'a small piece of true but valueless information.' aka, trivia.

Isn't the English language magnificent? We have so many words with multiple meanings, misconstrued definitions, and weird spelling. As a writer, I find it fascinating, and love to plumb the depths of vocabulary. It's also annoying when people use words in the wrong way. Or can't spell.

Case in point:

Aargh! This would be hilarious if it wasn't so stupid. Okay, it's hilarious. And stupid.

For the most part, Factoid Friday will riff on CNN's definition. I'll gab about a bit of trivia. Why? Because it's fun! Oh, I might squeeze in a wee bit of thoughtfulness here and there, but not too much. Don't worry.

So, obviously, today's factoid is all about that lovely little word, factoid. Could I use factoid any more in two lines? Factoid! hah! It's one of those words where, the more you say it or type it, the weirder it looks. Hmm....

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trust Yourself...

I've been home from Banff for three days, and I'm still exhausted! All that creative intensity was crazy. I'm just starting to process everything - what I learned, who I met, where I go from here.
One thing that stands out today is something I've been focused on for a couple of months. It's a life lesson that sounds very cliche, very over used, and yet it's so, so important. 

Trust yourself. 

Yup. That's it. Two little words that, for me, carry a big punch. Because, lately (and I'm talking years here) I haven't. Trusted myself, that is. And the weird thing is, I'm just now realizing it. For some reason, it felt really normal, making decisions based on what everyone around me wants. (like the meat salesman who comes to my door every month, or the infomercial lady who knows I NEED to buy a 50 DVD boxed set of workout tapes) And completely ignoring that little voice inside saying, 'What the hell are you doing? Are you NUTS?)

So, learning to trust myself, and that little voice, has been something I've really been working on. Even before I went to Banff, I found myself becoming more aware of what I wanted or needed, and honoring that. 

Then, surprise, surprise, I got to Banff and found myself falling into the same old trap. Here's how it went down. 

I was blessed to be placed in an amazing small group of writers for the week. We were all working on the first chapter of our novels, and, each morning, one of us would have their work critiqued by the group and our wonderful leader, Joan Thomas. I got to go first, and absolutely loved it. Everyone was positive, encouraging, and had excellent and honest feedback. I felt great

Then, a couple days later, I did it. I forgot to trust myself. I started focusing on the little doubts and concerns, and they became larger and larger in my mind. I began mumbling to myself (what am I doing? who do I think I am?) and started sinking into that icky swampy ooze of self-doubt. By the time I got home, I had worked myself up into a big old confused mess. 

So, today, I took some time to remind myself why I'm writing what I'm writing. Why I believe in it, why I chose it, (because it chose me, but that's another post!), and why I trust it. 

Sheesh. Two little words. Trust yourself.  So, so difficult to learn and apply in my life. 

I'm getting there, though. Bit by bit. Word by word. Moment by moment. 

Putting one foot in front of the other,


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Banff Beauty

Thought I'd share a few photos of the incredible place that is the Banff Centre. I'd write more, but I'm honestly spent from all the writerly goodness going around and don't have any more words to spare. Cheers!

 they have outdoor concerts here with up to 2,000 people in the summer.
 one of the newer buildings, this one houses the library and meeting rooms
 view from the library
the beautiful library, where....get this....they actually love to help!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Writerly Heaven

I'm at the Banff Centre for a week, participating in the Writing With Style program. A friend of mine came here last year and raved about it, so I sent off my application and got accepted into the First Chapter, Novel workshop.

First off, let me say that checking out of my life for a whole week NEVER happens. Sure, I've gone on vacations (aaah, Italy, how I miss you!) but always with someone else. I can't recall having gone away ALONE for a week since I've had kids. EVER. (sorry about the caps, can you tell I'm a bit excited?) So this in itself is a biggie. Last Saturday I jumped in my truck, peeled out of the driveway, and headed for the open road, latte in hand and snacks on the passenger seat. I blasted any music I wanted (Gotye is my latest obsession), stopped whenever I wanted, and ate whatever I wanted (hello, Subway!).

Upon arrival, I checked in and found my room. MY room. Just mine. All alone. For a week (sorry, I'm a little giddy). Thinking I had loads of time to unwind, unpack, and wash off the grime of the road (because apparently I'm Willie Nelson now), I collapsed on the bed and glanced at the clock. Wait a minute.....what? 6:50? That can't be right. Umm....right.....Alberta time......CRAP. I only had 40 minutes until my first mixer, when I come face to face with the people I'd be spending the next week with.

I've never showered so quickly.

And in record time, I took a deep breath, pushed back my shoulders, and.....opened my door.

Trying new things is fun. Vital, in fact, to our well-being and growth. But it can also be terrifying. We fear the unknown. Will I be successful? Will I look like an idiot? Will I have lettuce stuck in my teeth? And, trust me, fear has kept me from trying a lot of things in my life. Not just fun things, but serious things. Like standing up for myself, or setting boundaries. I've allowed fear to keep me from living an authentic life.

But, being here at the Banff Centre, I kinda feel like anything's possible. I survived the first night, and the next, and the next. And now, three days in, I sense a shift. I am moving from fear to joy. I'm excited about being here, surrounded by others who are also battling fear, and acting courageously.

Sometimes it takes courage to take that first step. Or, for me this week, just to open my door.

Putting one foot in front of the other,


Sunday, April 15, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different...

I've been thinking a lot about this blog and where I want it to go, if anywhere. I've been attempting to create an industry blog, because that's what I thought I should be doing. (I have a bad habit of 'shoulding' on myself, I'm working on it....) However, the more I tried, the less I found I had to say. Hence the long, vapid gaps between posts. This left me questioning whether I was on the right track or not, and if I should be doing the blog thing at all. 

I'm going through a difficult time in my personal life right now, and it's really got me thinking. About who I am, who I want to be, and how I can get there. A biggie for me is to live an authentic life. What does that look like? It's me, knowing what my values are, and making decisions based on those values (ie: what's right for me! Now there's a concept!) It's also reminding me that I have things to say, and if I am going to honour myself, I need to honour those things in me that need saying, and say them. Whether it's to a friend, or my kid, or myself, I need to speak up and let my voice be heard. 

So, I've decided to take this blog, this voice if you will, in a new direction. I will still talk about writing - the struggle, the joys, the craft - because that's a big part of who I am. But I will also talk about other things. Things I'm learning in my life, things I'm struggling with, things I question. I believe there are a lot of people out there looking for someone they can relate to, someone that is honest about their life and their struggles. None of us want to feel alone, and sometimes that's what life does to isolates us, or we isolate ourselves, and pretty soon we find ourselves feeling like we are the only ones in the universe who has ever felt this way. And it's not true! We just have to look around, look outside of ourselves. 

So, a big thank you to my (very few!) readers who have checked in up to this point, and a very big welcome to anyone who's new to my little world. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, make you smile, or just reassure you that you're not alone in whatever you're going through. 

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the new title? Something I've learned recently, and continue to remind myself of, is that everything in life is a stepping stone to something else. Every tiny victory, every time we make a choice that is right for us, and no-one else, is a stepping stone to becoming the person we were created to be. When I look at life that way, it puts everything in perspective. I'm not there yet. But I'm just another stepping stone away. 

Putting one foot in front of the other,