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?

It is called a ‘senseless tragedy’ for a reason

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There are several phrases in the English language that we utter fairly frequently without truly recognizing their meaning.  They are used commonly in conversation without true regard for the depth that these phrases can impart.  Today I felt the incredible intensity of one of those over-used expressions.

My best friend lost her brother in what can aptly be described as a senseless tragedy.  Nothing about his passing makes any sense whatsoever.  He was young.  He was paving his path to success and happiness.  He had faced his demons and won.  So why now?  Why would he be taken in such a random accident so long before what should have been his time?  Why are there no acceptable answers to these questions?

These accidents, these random moments in time that can alter the reality of so many, seem so absurd, so unfair.  I cannot write with the perspective I usually have because I am so broken by this senseless tragedy.  So many lives have been forever changed by the loss of his gregarious spirit.  So many futures will be altered by the lack of his presence.  There was absolutely no reason for this catastrophe.

The only thing I have to help me through this is my words.  My heavy heart aches for my best friend and her family.  I have suffered losses in my life, and one very recently, but none compare to the one that they are now faced with.  I can only hope that the embrace of loved ones and the sharing of memories can help alleviate some of their sorrow.  Rest in peace, Cameron.  You will be missed.

 

 

 

 

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)

 

 

Two kisses

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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!

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.

Why? Why did the chicken cross the road?

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Lately I have been asking myself that question ad nauseam.  Surely there are a plethora of answers to this age-old question but in my case the punchline is “to take up residence at my neighbor’s house and cover my little slice of heaven with a large grey cloud”.

chicken

(image credit: nbcnews.com)

My house is my oasis.  It shields me from the reality of living in a tourist town by being perfectly located on a road that is five minutes outside of our bustling summer metropolis.   I live on a residential street that has only three houses and during the summer I can see neither of my neighbors through the seasonal foliage.  My home offers seclusion, it embodies peace and it epitomizes tranquility.

Until recently that trifecta of relaxation was a normal daily occurrence – and then things went completely fowl.  The neighbors decided to add six chickens and one rooster to their family.  The rooster, although inept at figuring out that he should only crow in the morning, was not a problem in the beginning.  Until I heard his chatter when I was leaving for work and again when I was coming home, I could not hear his incessant noise when I was safe in the confines of my home.  But the winds of change began blowing.  And by that I mean that the North-West wind pushed the scent of the coop right into my living room.

My dog seems to enjoy the pungent stench of bird but I prefer the oven-roasted-to-perfection variety.  There is a noticeable level of odor when dealing with fecal matter and chicken poop ranks high on the list of loathsome smells.  There have been many occasions when my dear, sweet pooch has come home with the lingering funk of Raccoon poop, or as my dad used to call it “Coon Coloogne”.  But even Raccoon poop can’t hold a candle to chicken shit.  Callaway found the mother load this morning and proceeded to baste herself in what she thought was a wonderful perfume and she was so happy to come home and share it with me.

I bathed her once before I went to work.  I bathed her again when I got home and the scent still permeates my home and my nostrils.  It is the smell that will not die, yet smells like death.  I have sprayed my living room screen with Lysol deodorizer and thankfully the direction of the wind has changed slightly.

If you receive an invitation for a sumptuous roasted chicken dinner, please remember to thank the neighbors on your way home!

 

Back in the saddle

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Life happens.  It travels at a million miles per hour (unofficially clocked….we are awaiting confirmation) and it has a nasty habit of redefining our original trajectory.  I had been transported to an alternate dimension of my own reality but I finally figured out a way to get back to my blogging home.  I’m back in the saddle, baby!!

back-in-the-saddle

(image credit: godoreen.com)

I have to admit….getting back into the WordPress groove is making me feel good.  Just taking the time to read and comment makes me feel more like myself than I have felt in a while.  I have missed the witty banter.  I have missed all of your literary and poetic genius.  But most of all I have missed that feeling of community that I find when I participate.

I’m looking forward to catching up!!

Self-doubt and a flamethrower

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Who knew it would only take a bit of positive feedback to light the spark that had been snuffed by my lack of creativity.  It’s difficult to think that a mere 6 days ago my mind was a blank.  I took a huge leap of faith and gave the beginnings of my novel to a very creative girl who works at the resort.  She studies language and had been very persuasive about wanting to read it.  I was almost physically ill as I timidly handed her the manilla envelope containing the fruits of my labor.  Wanting to do nothing but slink back into my office and rock back and forth in the fetal position, I powered through the rest of my day and headed for home.

The next day I waited patiently (who am I kidding, I was a wreck) and, after not hearing from her and stressing myself to the maximum level, I reached out via text to see if she had read it.  She had and the result was remarkable.  She laboriously made notes as she read through each chapter and all of her feedback was great.  She loved the story line.  She was intrigued by the characters and she gave helpful insight into making the lead character a little more engaging and interesting.

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Her positive and insightful observations started a chain reaction.  What had been an extinguished pilot light raged into a deadly flamethrower and the ideas would not stop.  I immediately re-worked the first chapter and began developing new plot lines for the upcoming chapters.  I was writing again.  My brain was firing on all cylinders and I felt that writing mojo for the first time in a long time.

To be continued……I hear the characters calling and I have to answer that call.