Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunrise Today

Come and take a look at the pictures for Sunrise today :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just Give Me Time...

This past week was good. I finished a course I was taking, I received some good news on the health front and I received some much needed news yesterday. I just hope I ended the call before I started my happy dance, complete with a small shriek. I even rewarded myself with a hamburger and fries yesterday for the first time in four years. Although, I'm pretty sure grease leached out of my skin and my blood coagulated temporarily. :) It's been a while since things have gone my way and I think I've paid my dues and earned the little triumphs of the past week.

I'm not going to go into details but it's been a difficult few years (okay, so maybe it has been a decade or so). I have put so much work into looking for answers in what seemed to be all the wrong places. But each wrong answer filled in a piece of the puzzle that has lead me to be in a few right places for answers. The point of all this is that answers, most answers, do not come easily but they eventually may come if you keep chipping away at them. 

Three years ago, I blogged about the meaning of "no" ( Looking back, it's still true. My premise was and is that "no" isn't always a concrete barrier stretching up ten miles high when searching for answers. Sometimes 'no" is just the universe's way of telling you to try another way, go another route or you're asking the wrong questions. As the saying goes, a well-defined question is half of the answer. The last words in the post were, "Take responsibility for yourself. Trust yourself. Trust your instincts and intuitions...'No', in most cases, is an opinion, not a decree." It has taken time and energy and now I seem to be reaping at least some of the rewards of my persistence - I'm not where I want to be yet but I will get "there" in one form or another. But we're never completely where we want to be, no matter what our situation. There are no instant answers; instant answers are so often the wrong answers. But there are answers, sometimes in the most unexpected of places.

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill as a punishment, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. I think we mere mortals can do a better job. Yes, the rock may roll back down the hill every damn day but every once in a while, it crests the top of the hill and stays there. Maybe my middle name should have been Sisyphus because it seems I have always been rolling one rock or another up some or another hill only to have it roll back and flatten me. But apparently not this week - those boulders are staying put. For now, anyway.  

So yay! A couple big questions answered plus an accomplishment. Just another day in the life. So now, I'll have other boulders to roll up hills until I find more answers. The answers will not be instant, they may even be 'no' but they're just rocks, really, and rocks aren't known for being immensely smart anyway. They will give up their secrets sooner or later. I will move my mountains. :)

Just give me time...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Every day I count wasted in which there has been no dancing ~ Nietzsche

I've been coming to a single conclusion for the past while. Life is too short.

Life is too short to hold grudges.
Life is too short to let your last words be harsh ones.
Life is too short to waste your breath on dead causes.
Life is too short not to go for what you want.
Life is too short for bitterness.
Life is too short for hate.
Life is too short for unending anger.
Life is too damn short to hang onto past hurts.
Life is too short for regrets.
Life is too short not to grasp love when it's near.
Life is too short for drama.
Life is too short not to laugh every day.
Life is too short not to dance every day of your life.

I hope you dance. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It Goes Both Ways

For the writers amongst you, I have a question. Do you ever pick up bad language or attitudes from your characters? As nuts as it sounds, I do. When I get toward the end of a book, heading towards and through the black moment and climax, my characters swear. A lot. And it's not "fudge-buckets" or "sugar."

Some writers will tell you that they are completely separate entities from their characters, having no bearing on the writer him or herself. I think that's garbage. Characters are a part of the writers who create them. Somewhere inside the writer, a part of this character that we have identified with is running amuck. No, the writer is not the character but the character is a facet of the writer. You wouldn't be able to write convincing characters if you didn't identify with the little terrors to some extent.

So I hit the 'do or die' part of my current WIP last week and since then, well, it's a good thing that I live alone. I am swearing a blue streak and not only at home but in the car, at other drivers. In the grocery store, at missing produce and products and other shoppers (under my breath). It seems that I'm grumbling at everything for the past week. I'm ready to fight. I'm not sure if this is good for my health or not - on one hand I'm venting frustrations but, on the other hand, studies show that profusely negative venting is not good for you - you just become angrier and angrier.

It's a little disconcerting that characters can influence your behavior. But I'm thinking I'm not alone in this. In between the angry music I'm listening to in order to get the mood right, I am listening to calming, peaceful music to haul me out of my self-induced insanity. And it's tiring. 

I know that many people think that writers perform a core dump and vomit words onto the page, and presto, a novel appears. Writing is the most difficult thing I've done and I've done a lot of insanely difficult (and stupid, let's not forget stupid) things. The saying that writing is easy, you just open up a vein, is entirely true. You pull things out of yourself that weren't necessarily supposed to set foot out of the primordial sludge. Things that aren't nice, aren't pleasant, aren't fun and sure as hell aren't civilized and happy pink thoughts.

It's tough - especially when you set out to make your characters' lives a living hell. Which I do. I've been known to cry, to have to take walks to calm down, swear, shout and on occasion to throw things around (I limit myself to pillows so I don't damage anything). Easy? No. Necessary for writing? For me, yes.

I fully admit that I create screwed up, flawed characters. Who wants to read about a character who has ALL of his or her shit together? I don't and I'm betting you don't either. Is this a tortured part of my psyche screaming to get out? Maybe. Is this a twisted, dark side of myself erupting from my sub-conscious? Maybe. Am I a masochist? At times, I think all writers are masochists. I don't think people generally look at the darkest parts of themselves without a ton of motivation.

So when a character you're reading really gets to you? Makes you angry and squirm uncomfortably? The writer probably wasn't the happiest camper either. Who needs therapy when you can write messed up characters who explore all the dark areas? Just remember, it goes both ways - the character is influenced by the writer and the writer is influenced by the character.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it’s been quoted so many times that I don’t think anyone really pays any attention to the words anymore. But listen again… it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It’s still true after one hundred and fifty years or so.
People have wonky memories when it comes to good times and bad times. In truth, the good times were probably fairly good but the veneer of time and distance puts a special happy filter on the good times. And the bad times are probably worse than you remember. Yes, some things are truly awful—losing loved ones, illnesses, divorces, wars, destruction and just feeling that life will never improve. Feeling isolated and alone. You’re in the black hole and you’re never going to see the light again.
People complain about getting older, especially in North America. Here, we are obsessed with youth, dismissing anyone older than thirty as ‘old.’ “I’m old,” someone says in their thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies and then in their eighties. So, I’m just going to say it. YOU ARE NOT OLD. There. Got that off my chest. It felt so good to say that I’m going to say it again. YOU. ARE. NOT. OLD. With one exception—if you give up and insist you are old. Then, yeah, you are. And you may as well die right now. Give up. Go back to the dust from whence you came.
We are all aging. We are on the road to death the instant we are conceived. No, I’m not being morbid. Just very honest. But if you use your chronological age to justify acting like an old fuddy-duddy, then you are doing yourself a great injustice. You cheat those you love of your life. You’re cheating yourself out of your life. What kind of existence is that?
Life is not easy. It never is. It never was. It never will be. There will always be tragedy, heartbreak, illness and disability. Bad things will always happen. That is the nature of life. But beside those bad things are good things. The good things that are made that much better because of the bad things. I think we all forget this when we are frustrated or unhappy or having a shit day at work.
Nothing is going your way, it seems, for years. And it may very well be years. You or someone you love may be sick for years. Not just a case of the sniffles, but something that is chronic. Painful. Debilitating. Financially devastating. You may be unemployed and wondering what the hell you’re going to do when the money runs out. Will you ever work again? And after a while, doubt seeps in and you think no one in their right mind would hire you: you know nothing. To what could you possibly contribute? You’re an idiot.
And you hit rock bottom.
You have a choice.
You can stay at rock bottom, wallowing in misery and the illusion of agedness. It’s your choice. Or you can kick off from the bottom of that ocean of self-doubt and swim to the surface. Not to be trite, or Pollyanna about that whole thing, but things really do work themselves out, one way or another. Something that you thought was the worst thing to ever happen opens a door to a new way of being. That journey is a tough one. No one said it was easy. “Good” is not a destination. “Life” is not a destination. “Bad” is not a destination.  Life is a journey encompassing the good, the bad and the not-so-bad. Because when you arrive at where you’ve been heading for your entire life, you’re dead as a doornail.
So all this talk about “arriving” at your life is crap. What you’re experiencing now? Right now? This is your life. The only one you’re going to get on this earth. You can walk around bemoaning your age, railing against your "fate" (another piece of garbage people use to support their misery) or you can live your life to the max.
I have/had a great-Uncle, whom I never met and I believe is no longer in the land of the living, who went trekking down the Amazon when he was in his eighties. His eighties. That is one man who was never old. My parents are not old even though most of the people I meet their age are old. My parents are busy people, despite being retired for a couple of decades. They go places, do things (don’t ask me what but they’re always busy) and it keeps them young. People regularly think mum is anywhere from 15-20 years younger than she is. She looks great. I won’t tell you her age but, while a majority of people my age are mostly grey, she isn’t.
It annoys the hell out of me, this “I’m old and ancient” crap. One would swear by what some of these people say that they should get walkers and support hose by the time they’re forty. Start lawn-bowling any day. Feed the pigeons in the park. People younger than me are claiming that they’re old. I’m not old, so if they’re old it’s because they’ve chosen to be so.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” is always going to be true for someone somewhere every single day. I’ve lived that saying for my whole life. Nothing is ever perfect. There will always be a fly in your chardonnay. But it’s up to you whether you let that fly swim the backstroke or fish it out and enjoy your wine. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Some New Year Thoughts :)

A new year has come around again. New challenges, new people, new experiences, new stuff all around. But is it really? People hope that the new year will be better than the last year but they still carry around something that is not new: themselves. Their hopes. Their joys. And their sorrows.

This seems like a "well, yeah...duh" moment but really it's not. Things don't tend to happen unless you do something to change your behaviour, your outlook on life... you. Sure, a few people will win the lottery but most of us have to change ourselves to improve our lot, our happiness, in life.

If I look at my life as objectively as I can, I can see all the things that have gone wrong, things that have failed, and I am the common denominator. Yeah, some things were plain bad luck but other things? Other things were sheer idiocy, a measure of naivete, a lack of understanding of my own self-worth and an unhealthy dose of stubbornness. I can out-stubborn most people, if I put my mind to it. :S

I find that so many people wander around totally oblivious to the destruction they wreak upon themselves and the lives around them. If things are habitually going wrong for you, you need to take a look in the mirror and decide what responsibility you have in the whole mess. I highly recommend counseling. I sought counseling a few years ago after a very emotionally destructive period of my life. It's not easy to have to look yourself in the eye and be honest with yourself. Most people won't do it: it's hard, it's painful and it takes a LONG time to see the patterns in one's behavior that led to one's own demise, so to speak.

At this point, I think most people could use some counseling. We're all kind of screwed up in some way or another - some of us more than others. And there's really no excuse not to take a look at one's behavior and say, like a certain tv psychologist does, "How's that workin' for ya?" Someone said the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. So by this particular definition, I think there are a LOT of troubled people out there.

So for this New Year, 2011, I want to wish everyone good mental health. And I want to share my yearly list of what I have learned in the past year - oh joy, you're thinking :) but here goes (and yes, a lot of these are cliches but they're known for a reason):
  • Just because something is difficult is no reason not to try
  • Never say never
  • Stop whining and just do it
  • Live with intention
  • Walk to the edge and look into the abyss
  • Listen well
  • Never stop learning
  • Play with abandon
  • Laugh until your sides hurt and tears run down your face
  • Cry your heart out if you feel like it
  • Do what you love
  • Black Rat snakes have very cool and smooth skin and if I didn't object to feeding a snake a poor, terrified mouse once a week, I would get one
  •  Don't let the bastards get you down - there's no reason not to have fun - annoys the bastards :)
  • I can be my own worst enemy, my own worst critic, and I have to stop that kind of thinking in its tracks
  • I am my own best champion
  • Trusting my gut instincts is the ONLY way to go - whenever I have doubted my gut and gone with my head, everything goes sideways
  • Being obstinate is different than being determined - obstinate gets me into trouble, determination gets me ahead
  • And the last one is a quote by Mary Ann Radmacher: "Courage doesn't always roar,  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.”

Much Love to You,