Wednesday, June 28, 2006

See you soon!

For the past few days I have been working my way through the book, 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho. I am reading it for my books group. I admit to beginning to read with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I don't like to read or watch things with too much hype. I wanted to be the only person in the world who hadn't seen Titanic because I didn't want to give in to the hype. I almost didn't read any of the Harry Potter books for the same reason. I kind-of felt this way about this book. I have found that when there is a great deal of hoopla about something I get disappointed when I do see or read it.

Luckily I admit to enjoying this book very much. It's a sweet story with wonderful lessons. Interestingly it is a very simple phrase that has been coming back to me again and again. I had to go back through the book to find it. Usually when I read I either fold down the corners of pages or put in bookmarks or write softly in pencil beside passages that hit me. This was so small that it didn't register until I had read past it.

The boy and the alchemist are riding across the desert having a conversation about alchemists. The boy asks about some of them and why they didn't succeed in their quest.

"They were looking only for gold," his companion answered. "They were seeking the treasure of their destiny without wanting actually to live out their destiny."

That passage just resonated for me. I think that I have been guilty of this for the past little while. So worried about money and the lack of it, I have been looking towards what will happen when we finally have more of it. I have been missing the fact that the journey - the process - is more important that what I am going to get at the end. By thinking in this way I am stifling any creativity and process that might actually create something that might be saleable. No one is going to buy a book written by a stress-case. It will be forced and unnatural and won't fill them up. People will buy books written by someone who is living in the centre of her experience. People will respond to writing that is about life, not about the paycheck that it will bring.

I am off in a couple of hours for a trip HOME. I am doing a one-week flying visit to Canada. It is going to be a crucial rejeuventation for me. Canada. Sigh. I won't be posting very much. I am going to be filling the well, the heart, the belly and the soul. I'll be hugging my loved ones close and meeting new loved ones and eating lots and lots of my Mom's cooking! I'll be back next week - filled up and ready to post much more often. In the meantime, love to you all. Keep safe and well and take care of you.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #13 - Music

The prompt for this week's Sunday Scribblings is "Music." I don't know what I want to write about it. I think I had an idea when I first read the prompt but then Laini suggested that we try to go deeper than our first reaction.

I initially thought about the music I used to listen to as a teenager. Mark and I caught the last little bit of a program on T.V. called "The Top 50 Albums that You Must Own." It was a lovely walk down memory lane. I own a lot of them, but I was a real Canadian music freak when I was a teenager. I spent a lot of money on concerts in a small venue called "Artspace" in my youth. I loved supporting new bands before they were famous. I felt helpful!

But then I was supposed to go deeper. So I thought about my problematic relationship with music. I don't like to play it loudly - unless I am in my car and then I play it and sing as loud as I can. I used to collect CDs but I rarely listened to them. I didn't always feel comfortable playing the music that I needed to hear so that other people could hear it. For some reason for me listening to music is a very personal experience. I feel deeply freed by the invention of the ipod. Now I can play whatever I want, whenever I want and no one else needs to know.

But then I want to go deeper even than that. If I go back as far as I can my first memories of music were warm, fuzzy ones. I've mentioned before that I lived at a summer camp. Well for the first six years of my life all music was played on guitars and sung in groups. Whether it was just my family sat around a campfire or a group of counsellors and campers singing silly action songs, or a church service deep in the woods, music was about love and joy and being silly together.

So the deeper I think about music the happier I get. That's interesting! I had a really difficult time writing this, and despite my happy musical-beginnings I still don't like to listen to music with other people. So I know that there is more here. I need to go deeper. I think I'll have to look at this some more in another post when the writing is easier.

P.S. I also thought about this in an earlier post about my own personal soundtrack. I created one - if you haven't done this already, what would be on your own personal soundtrack?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Poetry Thursday

* Before I say anything else I need to warn people from my Canadian world that this post is about Mark D. I've never written about him before but he's been in my thoughts a lot over the past few weeks so I thought I needed to honour those thoughts.

Once again, I have worked out a Poetry Thursday entry without reading the instructions first! I am home sick from work. I have some sort of bug so I am sipping tea and watching Oprah. (Funny - no matter which country I am in the sick day is the same - but I sure am missing saltine crackers.)

I have written a poem for Poetry Thursday this week. I haven't written a poem in years but I started scribbling in my notebook yesterday and this is what came out. I feel the need to explain a little. When my Mom was pregnant one of her best friends was also pregnant at the same time. They gave birth three days apart. We shared a playpen - one little blonde head, one little dark one - and grew up close friends. We went to camp together, trained as camp counsellors together, both soon had little brothers (he had two!) and went off to university.

One morning before seven our phone rang. My Dad is a minister so the phone ringing that early often means something bad has happened. I can only vaguely remember what happened next, but my Mom came into my bedroom and told me that my friend had committed suicide. There are no words to describe what happens to you when you hear those words. A part of me shut down in that moment. Mutual friends came to stay with us and all of them asked me how I was. Everyone knew how close we had been but I couldn't cope with those questions. If we had been so close, how could I not have known? Could I have done something? I shut down for many years. I couldn't let myself be sad - I didn't deserve to be sad.

It began to come out years later and eventually I was broken enough and brave enough to go and see a counsellor. We sat and coloured and talked and I finally cried and began to heal enough to think about him again. His Mom and I can finally talk about him a little. And I can finally write about him. So this poem is about all of that. It's here just as I wrote it so forgive the roughness -

When you died
we were twenty.
Two souls -
three days apart.
Salt and pepper
light and dark
girl and boy.

It doesn't get easier -

It gets harder
because some days
I don't think of you at all
and then when I do
I remember.

Where is the line?
The one that you crossed.
The one between
sadness and darkness?
Why couldn't you see
the way back?

I miss you.

There is a hole inside of me
where you used to be
It is surrounded by questions
that you can't answer.

You've missed a lot
you know.
I've danced alone at two weddings
and you're an uncle now.
I'm an aunt, too.
Or do you know that already?

come back.
Explain it all to me.

Two souls.
Three days apart.
But one will be twenty forever
and one never will be again.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #12 - Bed

"When in doubt, take a nap." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

P.S. I had the most wonderfully-connectedy- luscious (and hot) afternoon with some bloggie sisters - check out the pictures Susannah posted!!

I live in amazement when it comes to blogging. No matter where a post starts in my head, it never ends up where I think it will go! This Sunday Scribblings is supposed to be about 'Bed.' I meant to scan just the bed part of the picture and write a story about the girl who owned the bed. But now I just can't seem to get my act together.

I must admit that I co-started Sunday Scribblings as a means to make myself write some fiction. Instead I have used it as a means to look at my life in ways that I haven't before. I have used it as a way to get to know myself and for you to get to know me better. I think I have learned something about myself. Fiction is really not my thing right now. I love to write and I love having written a novel and I love the novel ideas that come into my head. But right now for some reason I just can't fiction. Who knows. It's easier to walk across the river if you don't fight the current right?!

This page is something out of my Illustrated Discovery Journal. I talk about this book a lot and I think I will talk about it more in the future as it really does tell me a lot about myself. It's something Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about in her book 'Simple Abundance.' Basically I go through magazines and anything that catches my eye for any reason I cut out and add to the book. Looking back through the pages I find that I am surprised by the insights I come to about myself. It's like reading a letter from my soul.

But what does this have to do with bed? Well, nothing except that as soon as I sat down to write about bed I thought of this picture. this is my second dream bed. My first dream bed is in my Illustrated Journal that lives under my bed in Canada so you'll have to wait to see it. But I think that this one (indeed this whole page!) says a lot about me. I think you can tell a lot about a person by looking at where they sleep. Right now I sleep in a big bed with white linens. The bed was a hand-me-down so we didn't pick it and Mark picked the linen - so really my bed says almost nothing about me. (Unless you look at the well-loved stuffed dog that lives on my pillow, the four half empty bottles of water on my bedside table, the fairy lights that are wound around the ugly headboard and the selection of various inspiring books by women writers on the floor!) So the bed in this picture should tell you something about who I would like to be.

I would secretly like to have a whimsical life. I would like to stop being practical and afraid and a worrier. I would like to sleep in a bed that makes me smile when I look at it. I would like to have a magical doorway in my house out to a magical garden. I would like to have a funny quirky 'Wendy-house' to write in. (That's what they call the little houses like the one in the picture in the UK.) I would like to be surrounded by friends and flowers and family and faerie-dust. And more than anything I would like to do nothing for income but write.

And yes, I got all of that from the topic of 'bed'. Sheesh.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Poetry Thursday

For this week's Poetry Thursday I have decided to post a link to the poem that I have up in a place of honour on my bulletin board. I've been very girlie/ woman-y lately so I thought that this poem was timely. It's called "Imagine a Woman" and you can find it in it's entirety here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

the measure of a woman

I've just been over to Susannah's site and she has some great headers with Marilyn on them. She inspired me to share this picture. I have been holding on to this for a really long time. It is an ancient Nike ad. I remember the first time I saw it in a magazine. I ripped it out carefully and put it in a big book. Over the years I have found and loved it over and over again.

I'm not sure why I loved Marilyn. I went through a real phase when I was younger. I read all of the books I could find on her. I loved how beautiful and fragile she was. Sometimes growing up the images I found of women were all about being tough and ballsy and in a world of strong role models I think I found her femininity and curves reassuring.

And now as I get older and learn more about the world I appreciate that femininity even more. I often think that somewhere along the line while women were trying so hard to be equal to men many of them forgot that equal doesn't mean the same. Learning to embrace being a woman is something that has taken me a long long time to get to. I wish I had started this journey earlier. I think it is going to be amazing.

Monday, June 12, 2006

an enormous question

"If anything at all were possible, how would you live your life?" - Christiane Northrop

I've been a bad blogger again. I even missed Sunday Scribblings this week - ME! - I just haven't had time. I've been overwhelmed by work and other work and being an auntie and the feelings that that has brought up (gleep!) Does anyone else look at their life sometimes and just shake their head in amazement?

I've been thinking a lot lately about choices and changes. We always look at new babies and see all of this potential and amazingness there. Why do grown people not see that about themselves? At what point in our lives do we lose that sense of anything being possible? Why do we live by a set of limits that make no sense to us? When do we become afraid to be everything we want to be? How can we get that back?

And how can we help new little ones (and other not-so-little ones) keep faith in themselves and their dreams? Whew - that's such a big question isn't it?! xo

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My New Niece!!! and Poetry Thursday

This poem has been running through my head (of course it's Shel again!!)

I Won't Hatch!

Oh, I am a chickie who lives in an egg.
but I will not hatch, I will not hatch.
The hens they all cackle, the roosters all beg,
But I will not hatch, I will not hatch.
For I hear all the talk of pollution and more
As the people all shout and the airplanes roar.
So I'm staying in here
where it's safe
and it's warm.

Shel Silverstein

The reason it's been in my head is that my brother and sister- in- law seem to have waited extra-long for their daughter to arrive. She didn't seem to want to be born. But after some nagging and assistance yesterday, SHE'S HERE!! I am an aunt for the very first time!! Her name is Helen and I am just itching to get home to see her!! Three weeks and counting!!

P.S. I have permission to show her off - here she is, all new and wrinkley!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

A race for life.

"What it gets down to is: how do you want to spend your time on earth?" - Meredith Monk

Well, I DID IT!! I completed the 5K 'Race for Life.' It took me about 39 minutes. I admit to doing some walking - up the hill that we had to do twice!! It was such an amazing experience. It was incredibly, scorchingly hot, and there were 5000 women doing it. I had a few moments of concern for my ability to finish the race when I was walking towards the venue. I was following all of these women with messages about who they were running for on their backs. I got all teary and goose-bumpy as I read about people's loved ones and people's struggles. I felt the emotion of the day all around me. It was difficult keeping focused. BUT I DID IT!! (Here is a rare photo of me. I am the one on the left - the one who seems to have lost her eyes somewhere along the route!!)

Three years ago if someone had told me I would be running a 5k (or training for a half marathon) or that I would have finished and sent off a manuscript, I would have laughed and looked down, bit my lip and known full well that it would never happen. I have had a very strange vision of myself. Like I said in an earlier post, I am good at controlling some parts of my life and not others.

In the past little while, however, I have felt like things were changing. I can trace its roots back a few years, but it is only in the past few months that I have really been feeling the effects. I have heard a grumbling - a roar, a growl - deep in my insides. I know almost at a cellular level that there is so much more to me than I have been allowing so far. I have been clenching - holding back huge parts of myself - worrying about so many things. I have been stuck seeing myself as a fat, stuck, struggling writer, and have not allowed myself to see that I am so much more than that. Lately I have sensed that curtain being pulled back a little. I can see my life on the other side. Every time I have gotten a peek I have stumbled back a few steps and had to make my way back there again. Each time I've gotten a little bit stronger. Each time I've gotten a little bit braver. The growing pains have been enormous. I've wondered if it was all worth it.

But this weekend I pushed myself past one of those perceived boundaries. I CAN be strong and fit and healthy. Why not? As I finished the miles I could hear the growl becoming louder and louder. On Saturday I sat down and drew this tulip - pushing past my creative fear for the first time in a long long time. Today I officially started in a permanent job. Saturday I talked to a wonderful new friend for hours. Tonight I spoke to another inspiring friend for the first time. I can feel my life shifting in profound ways.

So when I was drawing this I was pulled to use these words of Liz's to go with it. It captures the way I want to be right now - softly, honestly, and gently continuing to grow and change and be strong - and finding the beauty that is in there. GGgggggggrrrrrroooooooooowwwwwwlllllllllllll!!!!!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #10 - ... earliest memory

I can't believe it is the 10th week of Sunday Scribblings already. Time sure flies!

No matter how hard I try I can't decide on my first memory. I have an amazing memory for things that happened after I was about 7 or 8 but the things that happened when I was really little are a bit fuzzy. I think that the problem is that I don't know if they really are my memories or if they have been taken from pictures or stories that other people have told. I don't remember very much about living at the camp. I am terribly sad about that, because I am sure that every memory would be interesting.

I can remember climbing up my "step-up cupboard." My room had a closet with lots of shelves that I could use as steps to get up to the top. I loved it! I also remember falling and scraping all of the skin off of my knee on our front step. I remember running up the steps to my Mom and getting her to "fix it." But I think that my clearest earliest memory that I know is simply a memory was from when I was about four. I went to a Nursery School near where we lived, but my Dad or Mom drove me to school every day. I remember being at school at the far end of the room (it was green, I think) and looking over towards the door. My Dad had come in and he was holding something in his hands. From that distance I thought he was holding a huge hamburger. ( That part of the memory always makes me laugh - even then I had a thing for hamburgers!!) But as it turned out, he was holding a turtle! He had found it on the road and had brought it in to show the kids at the school before he let it go somewhere safer.

My funniest earliest memory was from my last day of school before we moved away from the camp. I must have been in Kindergarten by then, because my memory of this classroom is red, not green. On the side chalkboard, there was a cardboard cut-out of a shoe for each student. The shoe had yarn laces and your name in big black letters. If you could prove to the teacher that you could tie your shoes, you could have your shoe moved up to the chalkboard at the front of the room. Well, I remember sitting behind my bedroom door on my last day of school, determined not to go until I could tie my shoes. And yes, the tenacious little madam that I was was able to figure it out in time to get my shoe put at the front of the room before I had to leave that school. What a kid!

I think I need to channel her spirit to help me get other things in my life done!!

What are your earliest memories?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

control issues

"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps." - Confucious

This morning I posted a poem by Shel Silverstein about running the world. I feel like I need to write a little bit more about my reasons for choosing it. Last night Mark made some funny comment about me being 'in control.' My response to what he'd said shocked me. I said something to the effect of, "No. I pretend to be in control, I want to be in control, but in fact I am completely not in control." It doesn't sound like anything written here, but it hit me really really hard.

I am a bit of a control freak. I am a real worrier. I'm the girl who needs to be at the airport 4 hours early. Not only that but I usually know which desk I need to go to for check in. I have to check that the doors are locked before I go to bed, and I drive Mark crazy asking what we are going to have for dinner hours (sometimes a whole day) before any normal person would want to know. I need to know what's going on. I need to feel like I am in control.

But there's more to the story. If I need control so badly, why is it that I can't stick to a healthy eating plan? Why is it so darn hard to get up in the morning and go for a run? Why can't I sit at a desk and get some writing done? Why do I put off doing laundry until it is climbing out of the hamper? Why does it take me so long to respond to email? What is wrong with me??

Why do we pick and choose the things that we can control? Why can we make ourselves do some things and not others? Why are we so hard on ourselves over the small things we aren't doing when we are doing so many other things well? How can we learn to be gentle with ourselves without adding even more stress? How can I learn to be more in control of the important things and to let the other things go?

Sigh. Sorry, another big question!

P.S. Further to my "I'd like to move it, move it" post - my Race is on Sunday! Wish me luck!!

Poetry Thursday

I haven't read the instructions for this week yet, but this is the poem that has been in my head today. I am in a Shel Silvertein kind-of place, and this poem is about where my brain is too. I am working through some 'control' stuff. This makes me smile about it.

“God says to me with kind of a smile,
"Hey how would you like to be God awhile
And steer the world?"
"Okay," says I, "I'll give it a try.
Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?"
"Gimme back that wheel," says God,
"I don't think you're quite ready yet."”

-Shel Silverstein

P.S. I just went to Poetry Thursday and realized that the instruction this week was to find a poem you could read out loud. So I went on line and found this one by Robert Service. It's truly a fun read. This is the first stanza. If you don't know the poem, go here. It's well worth a read!!
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.