Saturday, February 24, 2007

Where I've been.

I have spent most of the last week in the city of Bath. I started out there for a conference for work, and then Mark came up and met me for a day of playing in the city. The best part of my conference was the view from the hotel (first picture!) That tells you how much I enjoyed the conference!! During most of the sessions I sat there feeling the urge to leap up, toss my papers in the air and run screaming out of the room. I just couldn't summon up the enthusiasm and energy that all of the 'lifers' seemed to have. I just didn't care about any of the things that they were talking about!

With the conference over, Mark came and met me and we moved to an even nicer hotel. We walked around Bath in the evening, stopping for dinner at my favorite restaurant!! We both really love it there - freshly cooked noodle dishes with lots of vegetables and spicy sauces. Sigh... MmmmmmMmmm. Being in a city was good!

The next day we braved the scattered showers and wandered around Bath. I bought chocolate chip cookies (bliss!! It's difficult to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie here.) And we bought yummy wine in Waitrose, had coffee, shopped in all of the unusual shops, drooled over many things, and enjoyed being together and dreaming of living in one of the stunning townhouses. Bath is beautiful and charming and absolutely teeming with history and stories and things to see and do. I am afraid we rather fell in love with it.

This picture is of the Abbey. It's set in a funny area with lots of expensive shops. (Olives for £8.50???) We didn't have time to go in this time because we spent the next hour going through the actual baths. Sometimes I can be a bit of a nightmare in these places because I get so bored of the commentary but this time they had groovy headsets that you wore and in several places there was commentary by Bill Bryson! It was neat to hear a different sort of thought on things.

I love the next picture of Mark looking at the Great Bath. It's overwhelming to look up from here and see the Abbey in the background. It's one of those places in the UK where you can really see the layers of history. How could these ancient ruins have been lost for hundreds of years when they lay so close to the church? The baths were originally a temple to the goddess Minerva. What was it about that spot that prompted generations of people to want to worship there? Standing on the stones where Roman feet once walked and looking up at such beautiful architecture made me feel very very small. It also makes you wonder what other treasures are still buried under the modern cities and houses that exist today.

We spent the last part of the afternoon with a good friend of Mark's family. He lives very near a huge safari park. Unfortunately we got there too late to go in and see any of the animals, so we will have to go another time closer to the summer season. I am completely charmed by animals. I get a bit sparkley-eyed and giddy when I even think I am going to get to see something exotic. We snuck into a back entrance and saw a few Wallabies but nobody else was around.

Coming from Canada I am used to having birds outside of our kitchen window. In the summer we have hummingbirds and in the winter there are chickadees. But just look what was sitting outside of the kitchen window when we were visiting yesterday!! It was a perfect end to my week!

P.S. I had a lot to say today so I will save the detox foot patch stories for Monday!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

See you soon!

Strange things happen when you move to change the way you do things! Since declaring my 21 Day Challenge I have had a strange bout of the flu, more social engagements than before, and a whole weekend of my internet being down. But I also have had a charming email from an author I admire, time for some really deep work on my intentions, and some really clean feet!

I am off now on a four-day conference for work. When I come back next weekend I'll bring pictures of the lovely city of Bath, I'll tell you about the detox foot patch that changed everything, and I'll let you know if I've stayed on track. Have a wonderful week and I will see you soon!


Friday, February 16, 2007

As the Days Go By

"When sleeping women wake, mountains move." - Chinese Proverb

As I have been moving through my 21 Day Challenge I have felt an incredible array of emotions. Yesterday I was feeling so unhappy with myself and my ability to follow through with decisions and dreams that I was in the kind of tears that don't feel like they are ever going to stop. After a long talk with Mark, a good sleep and some reflecting, today I am feeling strong again, and back on the road to full dream-chasing recovery.

It's a hard thing - this intention to create change - when you see other people living up to their creative potential you compare yourself to who they are NOW. You don't see the days when they were in floods of tears, or the years when they wrote, "Today I am going to start..." over and over again in their journals. I don't think we share enough of the bumps in the road.

Today I wanted to share a book that has helped me over one big huge bump. I grew up in an interesting brew of religiousness. I've shared before that when I was born we lived at a summer camp. It was sponsored by the United Church. So my earliest spiritual upbringing involved singing about love and peace and friendship while sitting in the woods surrounded by people I loved. When I was a little older I went to church with my family, but spent most services sitting with my Grandfather drawing squiggle-pictures and eating Trident mints. God for me was always a place of love and family. But it was never cool to talk about God in real life, so I never discussed it with anyone.

I've re-written my next paragraph about 47 times now looking for the right words to explain some more about my spiritual leanings but it always comes out wrong. I guess what I want to say is that I was always nervous reading or talking about Religious People's ideas (capital R intentional!) So I kind of hid my own ideas deep deep down. You never know what people are going to come out with or what hornet's nest you are going to disturb when you bring up any sort of divinity talk. It became something I was working out on my own - what I thought, where my place was, what I believed in - and was constantly in a shifting pattern, moving towards what I could live with.

A few weeks ago I discovered "The Red Book" by Sera Beak. I read it in two days and felt a strange mixture of recognition, terror and excitement as I did. When I finished it, I am ashamed to say I put it down, ran away from it, and did lots of other things to keep myself from thinking too much about it. It resonated with me a bit too much. I was terrified of it. But it kept calling me from the bookshelf so I got it out again and started working my way back through it. If you have any interest in magic and spirituality and femininity and divinity and sexuality and colour and inspiration - read. this. book. It takes living juicy to the next level. It's Sparkling 101 for grown-ups, and Creative Inspiration for women (not girls!)

(And if you do get it and want to talk about it with someone - I'd love to!)

"... become a divine exhibitionist. Play more, laugh more, do things that make your spirit roar, that amplify all your senses and encourage others to smile. Love boldly. Make your spirituality brighter, your prayers more colorful, your life more refined and reflective. Not only make the divine see you, but make the divine want to lick your forehead and taste you. After all, it's not enough to merely notice the divinity in the oak tree or gorgeous sunset or in your feelings for your loved ones, or even in the mirror. You have to pray from such an honest and open and raw place in yourself that the divine eagerly wants to kneel at the alter of you."
- Sera Beak "The Red Book" pg 69.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Days 5, 6, & 7 & A Valentine's Wish

Working on my own 21 Day Challenge and telling you all about it has made me pay very close attention to what I am doing and how I am doing it. I want to be able to tell you that I am doing well, I want to have done something fabulous, but I also want to do enough small things to create a continuable habit. I don't want these 21 days to be a stand-alone. I want to CHANGE.

In the past few days I have continued on the NO MORE DIET way of life (and let me tell you it's LIBERATING. I can't explain how wonderful it is to have so much of my energy back. Astounding.) I also have written something every day, and have been focusing on my goals. I think tomorrow I am going to write some out that are much clearer. The more you focus on what you want, the more you realize what you actually don't want. There's nothing like the threat of actually getting a wish granted to make you clear about whether or not you really want it!

The photograph above is just one of my bookshelves - it's the 'working' shelf - where I stash my current reads, my must haves and my notebooks (I am currently working through 4.) I love this shelf and its contents almost as much as I love Mark and my family and friends. So it's from the bottom of my bookshelf and my heart that I wish you all the sweetest of Valentines Days. I hope that wherever you and and whatever you're doing, you know that you are loved.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Days 3 & 4

I have to admit that yesterday was not a stellar day in my 21 Day Challenge. I am still not feeling 100%, so I didn't exercise. I did write a little, but not enough to make me feel like I am moving onwards.

Today, however, I am back on track!! I am going to read a little and write a lot! I felt some shifting in my head yesterday in regards to two of my written pieces. For one of them, I have been waiting what seems like ages for it to finally arrive in my head. It's a non-fiction piece, and I just can't visualize how it is going to LOOK. I want it to be unusual, but I am not an artist. I wanted to see what form it was going to take before I went any further. Last night I decided that I was going to forget that part and just get re-writing it. So today I am going to spend at least an hour working on it. I am going to work into the answers.

"Go ahead, make a list: What are you waiting for?"

Friday, February 09, 2007

Day Two

21 Day Challenge Day Two!!

Considering I have been mostly in bed, I have accomplished quite a lot today!! I have a book that I have been reading about changing your 'money mind.' It has a seriously cheesy title so if you are interested I will whisper it to you another time. Basically it helps you to understand why you are the way you are about money and how to change your hardwiring to actually think and act in ways that will bring abundance into your life. I've read most of it in bed today so I am going to go back tomorrow when I am clearer and reread the pages I marked with what looks like might be about 47,000 torn-paper bookmarks.

Also today I wrote to a dear friend and asked her to be my deadline. I need to have a push to get myself writing, so by asking her now and setting a date, I hope to have some writing for her to read. I am a LOT gun shy about this. Once when I was younger I gave a manuscript for a Fantasy novel that I'd written to a teacher to read. I was (and still am) so proud of that book! She not only didn't read it, she actually LOST the manuscript. That shattered me. I've had one good experience since then doing a manuscript swop with another friend. THAT one went well, although I have realized since that that book really requires some distance and a rewrite. But another time I gave a piece of preciously new writing to someone else and their response was almost non-existent. So asking this friend to read something is a pretty big step: Tonight, I write!

A few days ago I found a crazy ad in the back of a magazine. As I can't visualize, I have trouble 'seeing' myself as the slim, healthy, confident, sassy woman that I know I am becoming. This site took a photo of me and put it through the process that they use on magazine models to make them thinner. I thought it would be a perfect thing to print out so I could see myself at my goal weight every day. Today I got a photograph of myself back that was me only about 40 lbs lighter. It was very strange as they send it back to you right beside the original picture. I couldn't believe a) how different I look in my original picture from how I see myself and b) how much it hurt to see how I could look compared to now. It was really hard, but after the original shock, I think that it is going to be a great tool for me - I will focus on already being that size, STOP dieting, and keep working out. I know where I have to be now.

SO, despite the flu, I have written some and will write today, done one small step towards the website, made a shift in physical thinking and let myself have some slack on exercise. Yes!

Thea is also spending the next 21 days challenging herself, and I am so so happy that I have inspired others of you to set dates for your own challenges or to also do this with me - let me know if you really are doing it & I'll help cheer you on!

(I've also temporarily stopped adding photos. For some reason Blogger won't load them up for me?!)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Day One.

So Day One of my 21 Day Challenge started off very well! I slept very fitfully, but I put it down to thinking too much about all of this. So when the alarm went off at 6am, I got up and exercised for half an hour! In my quest for 'vibrant health' I have decided to begin by exercising three or more times a week and work up to more. I have also made the fairly major decision (with Mark's help and support) to stop dieting.

Every time I try hard to lose weight I end up gaining it. If you subscribe to the concept of 'what you focus on appears,' then the more I focus on 'weight' whether it be losing it or gaining it, the more 'weight' will appear. So I am going to stop focusing on it. I am going to try to eat what I want when I am hungry and to stop when I am full. When I feel like I am going to be deprived of something I want it more - not good for weight loss. So that's the plan.

I spent my goal of 15 minutes focusing on my goals this morning, but then the universe had an interesting plan for me. Mid-morning at work I started feeling rotten and then progressively worse and now I am home with what appears to be a big bout of the flu. It's strange that I got this today, but I am going to rest, listen to my body and not get off track. Tonight I am going to work on one bit of writing towards the website, and I will have accomplished everything I wanted to today, sick or not.

I am determined that this is going to work! I feel good about my steps today. Now, back to bed.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Day Before...

Tomorrow is the official beginning of my own 21 Day Challenge. I am really looking forward to it. Someone asked me what a 21 Day Challenge was so I will explain: There is all kinds of research that says that it takes 21 days to create a habit. I also think that 21 days is a nice amount of time to try something out. If it doesn't work for you, you have given it a fair shot and you can think of something else.

For me the next 21 days is about doing something every day that will bring me closer to my goals of: vibrant health, publication (writing) and a successful website. I also commit to spending 15 minutes every day focusing on my goals as if they had already come true. (The Secret) I have a lot of trouble visualizing so I have created a vision board of my greater goals.

I tend towards selective laziness. Hopefully by doing this and by asking for you to help me stay on track and to do it with me, I'll be able to keep focused. I think that I am finally in that place where I am so bored of myself that I need to change something. I think the universe is telling me something, because at the work conference I was at today, one man used another version of the two quotes I gave yesterday. He said, "If you don't change your route, you might end up where you're headed." Yup, Yup, I get it already!

So it all starts tomorrow. I shall see you then!

P.S. I also wanted to show you this. I appreciated this means of raising money for a good cause. I have bought the word, 'beautiful.' Now I own it - I own beautiful. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Work in Progress...

If you look really closely at this picture, you can see an angel in the sky. (She was much clearer from another angle, but this one is her just before I got my camera and she disappeared - hint - she's in the clouds.)

As you can see, things are shifting a bit here! I've decided that I am done being irritated and bored with myself. I am formulating a plan! Step one is changing the look of my blog (although it is far from done, I'm just testing the waters in the land of colour!)

Step two is the biggest part of my plan. Some time ago someone (I can't remember who so let me know if you can so I can credit them properly!) suggested that people do a 21-day challenge. Lots of people did it and I was really impressed with their tenacity and their ability to follow through. I have a funny view of myself and I thought I'd better not sign up because there was no way that I would be able to do it. Ugh. I know. More about this in a moment.

Two months ago Thea introduced me to The Secret. It's a book and a DVD and it is all about getting what you want. By following a few steps and making a few commitments, it says that your life will change. Well I watched it and I have had amazing things happen since then. (Unexpected income!!!!) Today, though, I was thinking about it in the context of what I really want and I had a serious talk with myself. At times I have very limited thinking. I hold a lot of fear and worry and anxiousness about a lot of things. I tend to view myself in terms of those emotions a lot of the time. When I was watching it today again this quote jumped out at me:

"If you want to change your circumstances you must change your thinking."

Guh. It was like a smack on the side of the head. I'd read it before. I think it was Oprah who said, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." Today for some reason a light bulb went off in my head. What I have been doing so far has not gotten me to where I want to be. Despite me throwing all kinds of energy towards them, I have not gotten to where I want to be. Clearly what I have been doing in the past ISN'T WORKING. I need a radical shift in thinking. I need to do something different to get something different.

A few months ago, Laini and Alexandra talked to me about the advice that they got at the SCBWI conference that they went to. The biggest advice that they shared with me was, "Write the Damn Book." Besides being great writing advice, boiled down to a metaphor what that means is quit talking about it and DO IT. Get your ass in gear. What do you want? Well then get started.

So here's my plan. On February the 8th I am going to put myself on a 21 Day Challenge. I am going to focus my attention on what I REALLY WANT and every single day I am going to take an action that will get me there. I am going to ask you to hold me accountable, dear friends and readers. If I do not post about it, please ask me about it. I am going to try to post every day I am able. If anyone else would like to join me in a 21 Day, "Write the Damn Book" Challenge (metaphorically speaking or not) please do!

"I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings."
-Mary Oliver.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sunday Scribblings - Goodbyes

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is 'Goodbyes.' Laini told me last week that I needed to get scribbling again, so I felt that I needed to start with this one as it gave my heart a twist when I read it. When you live in one country and your family and most friends live in another, you say an awful lot of goodbyes.

For me there are several layers of goodbye in life. First there are the goodbyes that you say that you don't mean. These goodbyes are the ones that you say when you hang up the phone, the ones that you say when you leave someone at the end of a night out together or when you are leaving a dinner party or work or just when you leave in the morning. These goodbyes are never meant to be final, and they slip off of our tongues without us realizing how powerful the word can be. These goodbyes sometimes become the ones that you wish you could remember.

Then there are the goodbyes that you don't want to say because they mean it's going to be a long time before you get to say 'hello' again. These are the ones that bring tears to your eyes. I say a lot of this kind of goodbye at the airport. No matter where I am going I am leaving someone behind who I am going to miss. A lot of these are shortened by lumps in the throat or foregone all together in favour of a tight hug. These goodbyes remind you of how precious people are to you and how important moments together are.

Finally there are the category of goodbyes that are never shared; the ones you have to keep to yourself because there is no one to say them to. These are the ones that haunt you; the ones that are beyond tears. These goodbyes are the ones that you whisper into a phone when you have already hung up and you know you will not speak again. This is the goodbye that you say to a gravestone or a silence or that you whisper into the wind. This is the goodbye of unfinished business or regret or sudden loss. This is the one that echoes in your ears as you lie in bed at night. It's the one that you long to have been heard. It's the one that alters your life.

Sometimes I wish that we lived in a time where we could use the word, 'farewell' instead of 'goodbye.' In a fantasy book that I wrote I ended with one of my characters saying, "Farewell" and then finishing up with, "Until we meet again." I feel like we take our partings for granted. Shortly after a friend died I came across this Irish blessing and I loved it. It's a bit religious and old fashioned, but all it really means is, 'I love you, I wish nothing but the best for you and please take care of yourself so that we will meet again.' So now if you and I ever meet in person and then we have to say goodbye, please know that what I really mean by that is this:

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

P.S. My surgery went well, thank you! I won't gross you out with the details like my Dr. grossed me out with the evidence!