Sneak Peek

peeping tomYou’ve been asking about what my next novel is about. Here’s a little sneak peek;

How do your write about magic when the protagonist doesn’t know anything about it herself?

Well, you just write. You dream it up, because nothing has to make sense. Sense is over-rated and we often forget that.

Sometimes the best existence is just feeling; living in the moment as a big, fat, YES!

Sometimes witches don’t wear black velvet dresses or have long, black hair. No. Sometimes they wear jeans from the church rummage sale and men’s white undershirts.

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Inspiration: As Far As You Can Carry It

Artists know that inspiration comes in waves; sometimes in the gentle, steady rhythm of a lake waking up to the sunrise, and other times overwhelming, crashing into you like the Pacific coast tide.

The thing about inspiration is it’s only as good as how far you can carry it. After all, we can only balance so much. The mundane tasks of everydayness often take up both hands.

In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talked about inspiration as a living thing, that moved on if it wasn’t nurtured in our care.  What she had to say as a professional writer resonated with me, and made me feel a bit better. Careless with inspiration, but at least not the only one.

As a full-time working, single mom, my second novel kind of bit the dust. But I’m nothing if not resourcesful, and optimistic too. Instead of trying to twist it into some kind of tome, I’m going to use what I have and craft a short story. I’m also hoping that by doing this, the inspiration my be wooed back, and stick around for the long haul required of a novel. I know if that does happen, that the success or failure of the project will depend on me; on my dedication, devotion and prioritizing.

Either way it will be fine. The inspiration will be freed; to move on, or to take up residence in the pages of my creation.

Inspiration comes my darling friends, but how long it stays with us depends entirely upon how long we are able to carry it.

One in a while we have to reassess what’s weighing us down in favour of what lifts us up.

CPR: Creativity Promise Reboot

domoreOh my gawd!!!

Sometimes pithy little sayings are the eyeroll that I need. Yes, I hate to admit it, but it’s true.

This morning I read something about how many people succeed at what they dream of doing and how many don’t. Basically the gist of it was most people won’t do the hard work so they fail.

 

 

 

I prefer something a little more gentle;

successandfailure

 

I have yet to self-publish my thousand-year-old novel, and I have a head full of characters clawing at my brain to communicate with my fingertips to get it all down on paper. It’s time to get this second book out of my mind and onto the page.

…and so it is time to breath some life into my creativity. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.

It’s time.

A little reminder to every creative artist out there; just breathe.

Artist’s Spiritual Revival

creative mindsWith a machine gun pointed at me, I suddenly realized that my idea of art was akin to the local authority’s idea of a great place to smuggle cocaine. And so ended my love affair with foreign sculpture as souvenir

I switched to anything on paper or canvas that I could roll into a small cardboard tube and carry in my suitcase.

Art is the expression of the human spirit, so I try to support that. The more oppressed the person, the more vibrant the art; or at least that’s the way it seems to me.

Admittedly I haven’t even joined the ranks of amateur visual artists. Unless you count how creative I can get with lingerie and feathers.

I’ve tried my hand at watercolour, acrylic, and yes, even coffee stains. I stitch, I write poetry and novels and essays. Music mystifies me, but I am going to get my hands on a ukulele as soon as humanly possible. After all, how sad can you be strumming away on one of those little creatures? Creativity has always seeped through my pores and when I don’t have time for it, it tangles up my patience and wrings out  frustration.

Thus I have invited the wonderful weirdos in my life to a night of creative sharing meant to ignite that spark of brilliant madness we poo-poo as fodder for preschoolers and the institutionalized insane.

I will be working on a piece about storytelling. After all, I have always believed that we exist as the stories we tell ourselves.

wildthingLately I have been wrestling with the dark side, for no apparent reason other than everything is ok. Seriously. I have a healthy kiddo, a stable job, a roof over my head, and a man just as sweet and sexy as they come. He could use a lesson in romance, shiny things and dirty talk, but over all, he’s more than wonderful.

The only thing that doesn’t add up is the time that I need to write, to paint, to walk around half cut on champagne listening to Janis or Willie or Bob or Leonard, wearing nothing but a kurta and smile.Perhaps I feel my creative side stifled as my friends and I age; tempered by life,  less willing to play and be playful. My creative friends are as close to the silliness that I crave in relationship as possible

My only hope right now is  sunshine, someone to do all of the menial shit that I get caught up in, and an endless supply of Fruli.

Later this month I will be spending an evening with the wild, gentle and secret parts of the souls of my creative mentors. This, I hope, will help inspire me to let the laundry and the cooking sink further into hell and let my creative pursuits rise. Let there be lightness, let there be dark, let there be an artist’s spiritual revival.

A Night Owl’s Meditation Lesson for Morning People

no wormI’m not a morning person. Unless I’m the first one up when I’m in the great outdoors, marvelling at a sunrise, watching mist rise from a placid lake, and listening to the first call of the loons.

But that rarely happens.

So, I’m basically just not a morning person.

I am a night owl. The still darkness is rich ground to cultivate ideas and search out creative genius.

We all have a delicate balance of extroverted and introverted needs, and as a fence rider on almost every element of the Myers-Briggs assessment, I need as much time alone as I do surrounded by other fascinating human beings.

Morning people often insinuate that I’m wasting the day. They gently suggest that perhaps I’m a tad depressed, lazy, unmotivated, or accomplishing less than my potential. Morning people are wrong.

My very naïve beginnings at meditation have developed throughout the years, and my practice is now something I am aware of every day.

Waking slowly, at my own pace allows me to be quiet with the thoughts that come and go from my mind.

It’s easy to be aware of all of the thoughts that come to mind as your head is on the pillow waiting for sleep to wrap her arms around you. Unless you’re dog-tired, thoughts come fast. You can’t help but be aware of their presence in the quiet darkness of night-time.

Morning thoughts are different. These are the thoughts that come out quietly, like a hungry stray hoping for a leftover morsel. They slink quietly into consciousness and scatter as soon as you turn to thoughts of preparing for the day.

be the awarenessThis morning as I woke,I listened to the heart-breaking howl of the neighbours oft neglected dog.  The irony is that if some of my thoughts were sounds, they would have sounded like that baleful howling.

In the silence of my fluffy duvets, snuggled warm and safe, I had time to reach out and hold each of those thoughts gently, examine them, and then let them go.  At peace with my own self, I felt prepared to face the day, and share it with whatever the world had prepared for me.

My not-a-morning-person mornings are a simple pleasure, and a quality of life indulgence.  I have the peace to let my emotions and thoughts speak their truth, and the time to gently make peace with everything, both good and not so good. This is the value of meditation, practice, and the awareness of personal presence.

 

Advice for the New Year

IrishBlessing8x10It’s time for the old year to retire.

He’s lounging in a smoking jacket with his slippered feet up, and a tumbler of bourbon to help clear the path of reflection.

New Year’s resolutions have always seemed a little silly, and a lot naïve to me. It’s the same with people who say they’re, ‘finding themselves’ or trying to figure out ‘who they are’.

I don’t make resolutions any more. Not even secret ones just for myself. I simply try to find joy and silliness in every aspect of my life; work, parenting, friendship, love and yes, even housework.

If you are joyful, you become friends with yourself pretty damn quickly. Your body enjoys the kindness and you start eating and exercising  naturally. Your work becomes a calling, and your relationships are a calm ocean where you can relax and refresh yourself.

We are born knowing ourselves. We tend to allow expectation and adulthood fog the landscape. During adolescence we seek approval from people who value meaningless things, and often never grow out of it.

If you’re busy looking for the next ego fix, you certainly can lose track of who you are and what makes your soul smile.

Ah, but not I. I’m one of the lucky ones. Life has rocked my boat and I’ve sprung a few leaks over the years, but I’ve held fast to my convictions and personal ethic.

Being a better person means being  true to yourself, having the courage to do what’s right and not what’s cool.

Wishing you a joyful and peaceful transition into another calendar year. Be good to yourself, and choose joy.

Let the old year finish the bourbon and welcome the beautiful new year as the gracious, happy, loving lady that she is.

 

Advent Challenge: The Life-Changing Power of Small-Talk

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What better place to start a conversation than in a long Christmas-shopping-season line-up?

The season of Advent is upon us. A season of darkness and stillness, awaiting the mystery to unfold.

 

Hell, if that’s what it’s about, I think perhaps I’ve been living a lifetime of Advent!

It’s strange and wonderful how conversation and communication work.

I remember being a little girl and hanging off my grandmother’s shirttails, head thrown back, eyes lolling at a great and dangerous sarcastic angle, whining, “Come oooooo-ooooon! Mom!”, while she jabbered away to someone.

When I was younger I used to think that long, winding conversations were pointless.  Much like advent, impromptu conversations can be ever so revealing about our own hopes and dreams.

Exposing your ideas and dreams to concrete language can be the first step to creating a new reality for yourself.

Once upon a time a poet-mentor of mine asked if he could read some of my poetry aloud to me. I felt reserved and shy at first. He knew that hearing my own words spoken would be a very powerful experience. And it was.

More than once I’ve had a conversation with someone I don’t know so well and then ask myself where the heck that came from. Engaging in conversation with a diverse cross section of ages, genders and intellect is a wonderful way to get to know yourself.

For instance, tonight I had an unexpected and rather lengthy conversation with a gentleman who worked with my mumster (he thinks she’s the cat’s meow). We discussed his career, the professional acquaintances we have in common, his semi-retirement and subsequent move. That lead to a review of my C.V., and some of my dreams for the future.

As only perspective from someone older, more experienced and wiser can do, the conversation really shed some new light on what my future might hold. If only I have the courage to pursue it.

One thing that I’ve learned in my lifetime is that you have to ‘put it out there’. In other words, whatever it is that you want, that you crave, that gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning; you need to talk about it with everyone and anyone who will listen.

It’s not what you know darlings, it’s who you know. The person next to you in line at the coffee shop may know someone who knows something about what you’re dreaming of.

Put it out there. Give a friendly hello, and start with the dreaded small talk. Just talk to people.

Wake up with intention and do something about it. Research. Ask Questions. Go do it.

This Advent season, let the mystery of what’s holding you back from the life you desire, unfold in your every-day interactions with the people around you.

Uncorked Part 1: A Little Of the Heming-Way Becomes Her

heming wayWhatever story you buy about the character of Ernest Hemingway, you have to admit that he’s a hell of a writer. He lived a remarkably interesting life, and didn’t pull any punches.

Personally, I find the stories and myths about his life fascinating. Maybe it’s the era within which he lived, keeping company with Picasso, the Fitzgerald’s, and the fascinating Gertrude Stein.

Maybe I just love men who are assholes. That could very well be it.

There have been books written, tongue-in-cheek, on the ‘Heming-Way’; How to be a manly man.  In case you can’t read the font, the cover of the book reads; “How to unleash the booze-inhaling, animal-slaughtering, war-glorifying, hairy-chested, retro-sexual legend within, Just Like Papa!”

After reading Hemingway in Love, I fell in love (writer to writer of course darlings) a little more with Mr. Hemingway.  This from a woman who has written in his old haunts in Havana and Paris, France.

You see, the book is a tale of regret regarding lost love. Or rather, love pissed away by ego and, well, that’s it.  Just ego.

Spoiler alert; during a twilight-years  discussion with his dear pal F.Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway admits to the failure of his grand affair (basically he left his first wife whom he met, fell in love with and married while he was a nobody, for a spoiled rich girl who got whatever she wanted, including Papa). inlove

I made a mistake with Pauline, that’s all. A goddam fatal mistake….No mater what they tell you about reliving the past, it’s not a bridge…She tried to use her wealth to connect us, but it just put me off. I’d made it on my own and I had to keep it that way.

Ahh, yes, there you have it. “I’d made it on my own“.

So many women have made it on their own, in spite of….

…you name it; sexual abuse, poverty, physical abuse. Whatever it is, choose your poison.

Others have not had to face such adversity, and so, they have never had the necessity of having to cultivate their inner Heming-way; toughening up with no one to pour their pink champagne or hold them while they cry.

I for one have never had a father (brother, husband, uncle…..) look out for my best interest or protect his little girl. Everything I’ve done, I’ve done on my own and under my own steam.

Women who have had to walk with their heads held up high, without the benefit of daddy, husband or family-money funded Louboutin’s know what it’s like to have to maintain some rough edges in order to cut through the barbed-wire of independent life.

Kindness matters, yet sometimes a lady has to know when to drop an f-bomb to get the fair result of her efforts. A little booze-inhaling, retro-sexuality can go a long way as a salve to the harsh reality of single living, and letting the silver-spoon-in-mouth born crowd know that you mean business, and have the balls to carry that business out.

As Hemingway allegedly said, reliving the past is not a bridge. We all live, and we all learn. Bridges burn and crumble.

The Her-heming-way’s among us know what it’s like to cry yourself to sleep and plaster on a smile in the morning so you can bring home the bacon. They know that reliving the past is definitely not a bridge , and they’re glad that it’s not.

To all of the Her-Heming-Way ladies out there,  I salute you.

Sunday Morning Meditation: Book Love is Nothing Unless You Give it Away

booklove

The Little Engine that Could, Frog and Toad, Anne of Green Gables….

Sunday morning. Yah, I’m not a morning person. Not at all.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve grown to appreciate the quiet of morning. It allows me to sip my coffee at my little writing desk or on the patio when the weather is warm, take in the sunshine, and contemplate what is.

Sunday I try to read the paper, do some writing, and if I’m really lucky, I can quiet my mind enough to read a book. If I’m not working.

When I’m on a roll, I devour books like Fred Flintstone devours Whateverosaurus ribs.

I love sharing that passion for reading with little ones, especially those who are so tiny that they sound out each word letter by letter.

When they finally make sense of an entire word or an entire sentence, their faces light up like they’ve unlocked the secret door to a new kingdom. And they have.

I remember the joy in reading Shel Silverstein’s, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and the bittersweetness of life captured so poignantly in the The Giving Tree, in such a simple way that even a small child could relate to. I rediscovered Silverstein’s work as an adult in such giggly classics as My Uncle Oswald. If you need a laugh, you need this book.

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

~Shel Silverstein~

My favourite books as a child were; The Little Engine that Could (which as turned into a mantra of mine), Frog and Toad, and Anne of Green Gables. What were yours?

Years ago, I struggled to read. I was not the first kid in the room to raise their hand at circle time to give it a go. No, I suffered from shyness, and was sent for remedial help. Today I have a bachelor’s degree in English literature. We all come to reading, knowledge, and the wonder of the world around us in our own time.

Wishing you the joy of reading, and the magic of sharing that joy with a young person. Happy Sunday…

PS; For the adults out there, some favourite books that I would suggest are:

Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, The Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald G. May, Bring Me the Rhinoseros by John Tarrant, and The Heart of the World by Ian Baker, Mordecai Richler’s Barney’s Version, Moon over Marekesh by Nazneen Sheikh and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (because we all need to be reminded that there is magic in life).

Wishing you the joy of reading, and of sharing that with some of the younger people in your life.

Honouring Nuit Blanche: A Writer Upon Waking

morning hairI woke up to find half of the day gone.

If you’re a hardworking, anxiety-addled-type-A-creative-spirit like myself, you know what these days are like. The days when you have been looking forward to. The days you’ve carved out time to just write, or draw, or paint, or contemplate.

You wake working the clock backward; what needs to be done, what do you want to get done, and how much time can you spend on each thing in order to make it happen. Is combing your hair absolutely necessary, and underwear,…really?

Coffee first. Steaming hot, rich, rocket fuel. Ah yes, gimmee some of that lovliness, and back the hell away until I’ve had a few cups.

My hair has more volume and curl than Madonna’s in the 80’s, and I still can’t see properly because I don’t have my glasses on. Sleep is still thickly fogging my vision. Who texted? Who called? Who commented, read, liked……Who cares.

I blink, still unable to see a darn thing. I stumble over my bare feet and a cat toy. More coffee.

12.5

The number of hours of sleep my body required last night.

No phone. No alarm clock,. No cats jumping at the bedroom blinds like lunatic gymnasts. No one to wake me with their snoring.

I needed that.

Time to pack my laptop, my underweared-self, and get the hell out the door before the guilt of must-do’s overwhelm my creativity and desire to write.

All creative folks need that. Protected time, away from anything that pulls at your conscience.

In the spirit of Nuit Blanche, I wish you a perfectly indulgently creative day!