Until we meet again

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heaven

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When I am overcome by sorrow and surrounded by an outpouring of emotion, the writer in me takes over and helps process the overwhelming feelings by using words.  I cannot express enough gratitude for those words at times when tears and despair are not adequate enough to describe the sadness of attending a funeral for a 30-year-old man who had been experiencing the best year of his life.

In the aftermath of a tragic event, two parents lost a son, a younger brother became an only son and my best friend lost her brother.  The news of his passing was felt in our small town like the shock waves recorded during an earthquake.  Everyone who knew Cam was rattled to their core.  The emotion was raw, the grief was all-encompassing and the anguish could have been described as physical pain.

We gathered in Toronto today to celebrate Cam’s life.  We shared tears, we shared many hugs and we all knew we had lost something special in our lives that we can never get back.  Cam was that guy that everyone loved to be around.  His smile will be forever etched in the memories of those who were fortunate enough to see it and his absence will never go unnoticed.

His funeral service today was a touching blend of spirituality and prayer, accented by a heaping dose of Cam’s sense of humor.  As the family left the service, the well-recognized Monty Python song “Always look on the bright side of life” played while we stood, waiting to join the family outside.

“Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”  —Phillip Brooks

Cam truly was a man of character.  May you rest in peace, Cam.

 

Check, check and check

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I am a self-professed control freak when it comes to events in my life.  I love planning, I love having lists and I love being organized.  I’m an Aries, what can I say?

The questionnaire

(photo credit – chicklitplus.com)

Routine and planning make me comfortable.  I like to know what to expect and I appreciate having my day flow in a way that can only come from planning.  I go so far as to arrange my grocery list according to the layout of the aisles so my shopping is not a haphazard trip, circling the store multiple times to find items.  It is a coordinated dance through the maelstrom of people frantically running from aisle to aisle having given no forethought to the layout of the store.

While I admit I am not a big fan of surprises, I do appreciate a little spontaneity.  It is a welcome change from the comfort of my structure, but I could never be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl.  I like setting aside time for certain tasks and find that I accomplish much more when I stick to a regimented timetable.

I have mellowed over the years and am not as systematic as I used to be.  I was once accused of planning a spontaneous event and was guilty as charged!!  I’ve learned to let go of the reigns as I have matured (or aged….the maturity is still in question) and enjoy the moments of the unexpected, but I will never give up my lists.

What about you?  Are you a planner or a spontaneous person?

Let the creative juices flow

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I have a strong penchant for all things creative and I’ve dabbled in many of them.  Since I was a young child, I could always find ways to express myself artistically.  When I was still in single digits I would spend hours at a time at our summer cottage painting birds on old cedar shingles.  I was no Rembrandt but I must say they were pretty good.  My parents were slightly concerned that I was not spending more time outside until they came to the realization that I never complained that I was bored and they didn’t have to find things for me to do.

Exploring that creativity was like opening the door to a new world.  My affection for writing began at the tender age of eleven and that passion has always been my true  love.  Being able to paint my images with words gave me more freedom because the images came from my head and they were an original creation, not an imitation of anything else.

The poetry continued through high school but the writer in me found great competition with the sketch artist lurking in the shadows.  I would spend hours, most often during class, sketching and shading a large collection of pencil drawings and thus continued my artistic journey.  Oil painting, photography, wood carving, sewing and cake decorating are all part of my creative arsenal and I enjoy being able to dive into the bag and pull out a different weapon when the mood strikes.

pansy cake

Tonight, once again, I get to trade idioms for icing and decorate a going away cake for a friend.  I used to make wedding cakes as a side business and loved it.  It was three hours of being able to lose myself in a process that would begin with a blank canvas and turn into something beautiful.  The cake above was a cake I made for my mom on her 65th birthday.  Everything on the cake was made by hand and all edible.

Perhaps my love of words stands above the rest because words are forever.  Cakes will be eaten, pencil and colors may fade, but words and phrases are always readily available and they do not need a time or a place to be written.  They linger in the recesses of my brain and stand ready and waiting, longing for the chance to be freed.

Though we have many loves throughout our lives, we always remember our first true love.  While the writer in me may step aside to allow the myriad of other hobbies to bubble to the surface, those words will wait for me because they know my heart belongs to them.

Family and friends aside, is writing your true love or do you share a passion for something else?

Finding a way through life with humor

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robin williams

The recent death of Robin Williams has devastated me.  To me, he was the personification of humor.  There are so many of his roles and movie lines that have been ingrained in my psyche.  They have helped shape the person I have become today and the realization that his humor was a mask for his depression is debilitating.

Perhaps his death has made me look back on my life.  Just maybe his struggle has touched a nerve in my reality that has long been buried.  Depression was never an issue for me but the feeling of inadequacy was certainly in the forefront of my brain as a I struggled through my teenage years.  My sense of humor was a God-send.  It helped me extend myself beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone. It allowed me to engage my peers in a way I felt comfortable.   And it gave me a way to reach out to others with the feeling that I had the safety net of laughter.

Many times the person who is making the jokes is trying to keep the focus as far from reality as possible.  They painstakingly go to great lengths to keep you laughing so you don’t focus on the issues they deal with between the laughs.  They diffuse their reality with comedy but the joke, sadly, is on them.

I go to bed tonight with a heavy heart.  I grieve for the man who could not win the battle against his demons.  I solemnly remember the teenage version of myself who was thankfully able to quell the monsters who lurked in the dark corners of my mind and find more solace in the laughter than perhaps he could.

I can only hope that Robin Williams is finally finding the peace that he so truly deserves.  The world will never be as funny now as it was when he was in it.

(image credit: bu.edu)

 

 

Don’t be offended, but I am not a fan of the Beetles.

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Back in May, I bought a young Birch tree and planted it in my mom’s memory.  The tree is just outside of my living room window and, when we can all find time to get together, my brother, sister-in-law and my nephews are going to come over to place the river rocks around the tree that we collected at her celebration of life.  Each rock contains a word or two that was written by friends and family to share their memories of our mom.

I have been faithfully watering the tree each day and trying to make sure it thrives in its new home.  Recently I had noticed some of the leaves were beginning to yellow.  Upon closer examination, I also discovered the tree has become home to a bug that I have never seen before and this particular creature loves to devour the greenery and skeletonize the foliage.   Had these pests been named John, Paul, George or Ringo I may have been a little more forgiving, but these Japanese Beetles waged a war that I am going to win.

beetles

(image credit: walterspropertyservices.com)

 I diligently tend to my tree at least three times a day to pick these creatures off, one by one, to rid the poor tree of this unnecessary destruction.  Google and the garden center staff seem to agree that this is the most effective way to eradicate these pesky bugs.  I can only hope that I can put an end to them before they put an end to my tree.

On a side note: if anyone is going to Japan in the near future, save some room in your luggage.  I would love to send these iridescent insects packing!!

Two kisses

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sunrise-18a

In the wee hours of the morning,

her visits often happen then,

the charge in the air is palpable

and sleep is still in my head.

Her message hangs heavily in the air,

the words are always the same.

“Two kisses I will give you,

to help get you through your day.

 One kiss is to give you courage,

to help you save the world.

The other kiss is to help protect you

from the curve balls that life will hurl”.

Her words soothe me and give me peace

in the last moments of my sleep.

And on my cheeks, as I face the world,

two kisses I shall keep.

~~

This was the poem in my head at 4:00 am.  I will be forever grateful for those kisses.  I miss you mom.

(image credit: santabanta.com)

All the signs point to me getting off my ass…..

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Life has a way of making a point in a very obvious way.   But sometimes the message, although completely apparent to others, escapes our attention until we have time to rearrange the pieces of the puzzle to complete the bigger picture.

In an earlier post, I wrote about showing my work-in-progress to a fellow employee who is a writing student and currently working on two novels of her own.  Her insight gave me the kick in the ass I needed to throw some gasoline on my slow-burning writing fire and ignite the inferno in my brain.  Subsequently, some interesting things have happened since then.

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A guest of our lodge recently published a children’s book with a great message for young people and I have had the good fortune of being able to pick her brain regarding the editing and self-publishing process.  As I was telling her about my story, and lack of illustration, another hotel guest leaned in and told me she was an illustrator.  It was the trifecta of information.  It was as if the stars had aligned precisely for me at that moment and given me the swift kick in the ass my mother used to so eloquently refer to.

It’s time to so something with the words I have crafted.  It’s time to see what an editor has to say and it’s finally time to take the plunge and see if I can market the stories that originated in the far corners of my mind.

If I had to name the signs that appeared to me , they would be called Simon.   And Simon says, get off your ass!

An unfortunate series of events

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Last night I was scanning through the social media sites, surreptitiously wasting precious moments of my life that I won’t get back, and found a collection of pictures on Facebook that I just had to scan through.  The pictures were of some unfortunate puppy dogs who had run into some bees and the photos had been turned into memes.  As much as I felt sympathy for these poor creatures, I was certainly enjoying the humor of those who wrote the accompanying words.

dog-eats-bee-looks-like-goofy(image credit: weknowmemes.com)

 Fast forward to this morning.  I let Callaway out for her usual morning routine.  I have great faith that she will not run out onto the road since she, like me, is a great creature of habit.  When I went out to let her back in, she wasn’t waiting at the door as per her normal behavior.  I stood on my deck and whistled for her and the jingling of her tags came from a direction that was out of her usual territory.

When her front paws landed on the first stair, I saw the bee on Callaway’s back.  I grabbed the towel that was hanging close by and, after the most ungraceful display of heroics, I swatted the bee away.  But I knew it wasn’t the only strike.  Her usual playful entrance to the house was replaced by a sullen walk to her doggy bed where she lay licking her wounds.  There was no waiting for cookies, only a somewhat embarrassed dog attempting to be brave through her tragedy.

The irony of my previous night’s web surfing did not escape me.  I watched the bumps on my poor dog’s body increase in size and tried to console her as much as I could before I left for work.  In a matter of minutes my dog had gone from svelte to lumpy.

I’m glad I live close to my work because I couldn’t stand the worry and came home at 10:30 this morning to make sure she was okay.  Her pride was a little bruised but her physical condition was stable.  There was nothing a bit of love and a few more cookies couldn’t fix.  As I type this post, the swelling is going down and Callaway’s sense of adventure seems to be somewhat diminished…..for now.  She seems to be content to watch the wildlife from inside the house.

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For whom the writing bell tolls

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“Better to write for the self and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” ~ Cyril Connolly

It never ceases to amaze me how simple it is to get lost in the world of words.  How easily we become swayed by others opinions can have an enormous effect on what and when we write. We work so hard to keep our momentum flowing that we become exhausted in the process and dehydrate the well of our writing essence.

Although I still have muddied water in my reservoir of ideas, I have been caught up in the impetus of the WordPress world, as well as other writing competitions, and found myself being pulled in different directions when it comes to the content of my writing. There are no posts that I wish I didn’t write but I’m sure if I read back through some of my earlier posts I would find entries that were written in expressions far removed from the inner voices I contend with on a regular basis – posts written to impress others rather than being written for the sake of writing.

An artist is always unique. Whether a masterpiece is painted on canvas, developed into photographs or has a myriad of materials blended to create a single form, no two depictions of an idea will ever be identical. Each artist has a vision that can only be created by their idiosyncratic brain.  I cannot imagine an abstract artist would ever pause to wonder how many people will appreciate their work – they simply have a need to create.

The-Book-of-Life-a-colorful-metal-art-sculpture-by-David-Kracov-that-depicts-a-book-dissolving-into-butterflies

(image courtesy of mayhemandmuse.com)

The same can be said for the art of writing – authors simply feel the need to write.  Each wordsmith is encouraged by the ubiquitous string of letters that form into words in their imagination and the story will then develop a life of its own.  Writing is an adventure and one that each mind should be free to express on a whim. It should be a journey that begins in our mind and flows through our veins until it reaches our fingertips.  It should embody our true creative process and be written for the sole purpose of expressing ourselves.  Our creativity should not be stifled by the boundaries of an audience but should be free to shout at top decibel to all who understand our passion.

Writing for self is writing from the heart.  This freedom with the written word has no structure, it has no defined audience and it allows us to reach deep within ourselves to convey what lurks behind our conscious mind.

Helicopter parenting and stating the obvious

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Helicopter-Parenting

 

(image credit: teenlife.com)

I had a remarkable interaction with a parent of a teenager who will be ready to face the working world next summer.   This particular parent just happened upon our resort to scope out potential lodging to stay at next spring while his son pounded the pavement to find himself a job.  The most important part of that previous sentence are the words  “to find himself a job“.

Too often over the last few years I have had conversations with parents gushing about the talents of their children and why said child would be perfect for a job at our resort.  Never in those golden moments of being told how great “Johnny” was did I ever speak to “Johnny” himself.  It has become the norm for parents to act on behalf of their offspring in hopes of finding them gainful employment.  One of the most unfortunate parts of this new trend is that the child will never gain that self-confidence that you can only achieve by creating a resume, making that first phone call to ask about a job and securing a job with a face-to-face interview.

While it is regrettable, I am among many in the position of hiring students who inevitably put “Johnny’s” resume at the bottom of the pile.  What kind of employee will “Johnny” be if he is not eager and hungry enough to seek out and secure his own job?   These kids learn nothing about achieving goals if somebody else does the work.  They will never understand the concept that the world owes us nothing – that you have to work for what you get.  The blades of their helicopter parents are slicing away at their chance of being successful on their own merit.

Life is about disappointment, but still having that drive to succeed.  Life is about making mistakes but learning lessons from those mistakes.  If our future generations are to succeed, they need to learn how to try and, potentially, learn how to fail.  They need to fly on their own and crash a couple of times before they have clear skies.

Thank you to that incredible dad who was allowing his son to leave the nest and fly on his own.  Please send him our way.  I’d be happy to have a look at his resume and chat with “Johnny” for a while about a job for next summer.