The 6 p’s of success – and no, I haven’t had too much water

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A few months ago, a dear friend and I were having a glass of wine and a conversation about our school experiences.  It took us a while to remember that far back, but we both agreed that we had some professors and educators who really stuck out on the maps of our scholastic journeys.

I wrote an earlier post about my most memorable teacher.  He led my Grade 6 class with great enthusiasm and really encouraged us to think outside of the box.  Nothing was ever wrong when it came to imagination, hence my love for writing.  (If only he had held that same belief when it came to History class and those red x’s on my tests!)

My friend told me about one of his professor’s who had a deep impact on him in a very short time.  It was early in my friend’s law school days when this teacher introduced the syllabus of the curriculum they would be following by writing six capital P’s across the chalkboard with spaces in between each letter.  A baffled class of students who wanted to be recognized for their genius all muttered amongst themselves, trying to be the first to solve the great riddle on the board.

The teacher assured them that this first lesson would be neither covered in the course outline, nor appear on any final exams.  As the relieved crowd fell silent in anticipation, the professor proceeded to tell the eager group of future litigators what great importance these letters would have on their career as an attorney, or any career for that matter.   The teacher filled in each word as the group watched, not saying a word.  When each word had been completed, this is the phrase that spanned the front of the classroom:

“Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor performance”

Blank Chalkboard

That string of words struck a deep chord within many of those students.  Those 6 p’s were vigorously scribbled into notebooks, on the back of ironically unprepared hands unable to find their notebooks and etched permanently in the minds of those students hungry to succeed.  My friend was one of those hungry students, and succeed he did.

All these years later, sitting in a local restaurant having a glass of wine, my friend still remembered that lesson and what an impact it had on him.   I only hope his instructor knew what an impression he had on those students and that he potentially created an entire generation of people who make their p’s a priority.

Another gone too soon

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It is difficult to write an upbeat post when tragedy has pulled its dark blanket over our small town once again and taken another young life long before it was time for his soul to leave the Earth.

When you live in a small town, nobody is really a stranger.  Those familiar faces you see on the street every day become more than strangers.  They become extended members of our friendship circles and unwittingly become like a member of our family.

Those faces, those smiles that become etched in our memories leave a lingering impression.  If we are lucky enough to have created a relationship with those who were once strangers, the sound of their laughter will remain in our hearts.  This young man was one of those who created a lasting impression on his first encounter.  He had a gregarious spirit and made many people smile.  His bonds of friendship ran deep and his absence will leave a big hole in many hearts.

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My sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends.  Our town will seem darker but Heaven has gained such a bright light.  May you rest in peace and may the many souls that have gone before you find comfort in your warmth and kind spirit.

 

 

A symphony of silence

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Everyone feels the need to belong to something or to be connected to someone. It is a normal human desire to be accepted by others and we strive for that feeling of belonging. But there are times when we wish to pull ourselves away from society, bask in the glory of our own company and leave the rest of the world behind for a few blissful hours.

The state of solitude disengages us from the immediate demands of other people and, for a short time, we put our own needs and pleasures above all else. There is a fine line between solitude and loneliness but solitude is a conscious choice to remove ourselves from the whirlwind outside of our private sanctum and relish in the down time we can create in that time alone.

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Solitude can bring healing, bliss and a sense of abandon. But you must be truly comfortable in your own skin to be able to fully appreciate the pleasure of being alone. Being able to let your mind wander in a myriad of directions, having an inner dialogue with yourself or just enjoying the serenity of your company is a rare gift.

Everyone needs to occasionally give themselves the gift of guilt-free isolation – the permission to do nothing except for the things that you never give yourself time to do. Forget the needs of others for a brief period of time and read a book, take a bubble bath, cook a fabulous dinner for one, watch the show that is your secret guilty pleasure and kick back with a glass of wine. Whatever your vice of quietude is – seize the opportunity to revel in it.

The moments we have alone to reflect are the rare gifts we are able to give ourselves. Enjoy your own company once in a while and give yourself a chance to really breathe in your life. Solitude does not mean isolation. Solitude is merely silencing the outside world for a moment and obtaining that inner peace that we all crave.

Got the message, loud and clear…

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It’s a rainy, snowy, cold Saturday and I am home with a nasty chest cold.  I’ve been channeling my inner James Earl Jones when I talk and my boss thought I was a man on the phone.

I did a bit of work around the house to make it a little less drafty this winter and I finally decided the germs had gotten the best of me.  I wrapped myself in a blanket and had been wasting my time surfing through my pictures when I stumbled on this one:

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‘Nuff said…..thanks to the spirit responsible for sending the message!  Time to reintroduce myself to the characters of my book and get the bloody thing written!

A little blood on Halloween seems almost redundant

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I used to love carving pumpkins.  I was one of those weirdos hoping to have the most creative pumpkin on the block, so I bought a carving kit and some patterns and locked myself in a room to avoid distraction.

Walls were spattered with stringy pieces of eviscerated pumpkin.  Elongated strings of profuse verbiage slithered under the doorway, assaulting the ears on the other side of the door, and small drops of minor arterial spray infused themselves into the paint on the wall.  But at the end of the painstaking process I achieved success!  The copious amount of band-aids, blood loss and light-headedness were worth the effort.  My pumpkins were the talk of the town.  My then-boyfriend’s children (who I still refer to as my step-children) were even proud to acknowledge the creativity on our front doorstep.

After my first attempt, I became a little less guarded when it came to the carving process and the whole family would get involved.  Where there were originally only two arms covered in pumpkin guts, eight sticky arms reveled in the joy of dissecting the large gourds and separating the seeds from the gooey mess.  Each of us skilfully created our masterpieces and sat back with a smile as the toothy pumpkins returned our stares.

The house would begin to smell of the roasting pumpkin seeds and, after a massive clean up, we would light our pumpkins and snack on the seeds in the darkened living room.  The memories of those nights of laughter and camaraderie are the ones I still hold close.

As Halloween approaches, I am slightly saddened that those years are so far behind me.  I live on a street where no children trick-or-treat so there is no need to create any more scary faces.  Perhaps this year I should take advantage of the fact that my digits are all still intact and drag out the carving tools once again.  I’m sure my dog would like to sit in the dark with me staring at faces like these -

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Happy Halloween everyone!

There’s a lot of DNA and it’s not a Criminal Minds episode

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I am officially glad I am no longer in my twenties.  Even when I was in my twenties, my regard for a sanitary living space and the respect of my roommates trumped any need to party like it didn’t matter.  I have recently discovered that this is apparently an old-fashioned way of thinking!

A new friend has had the challenging job of being the General Manager at a fast-paced restaurant in the area where I live.  I have frequented there many times and become friends with the staff through our mutual jobs and our shared love of football.  Sure they are a younger crowd and they like to party, but I had no concept of how many of the rules of human nature those parties violated until just recently.

I had a few drinks with the GM last night after he and the head of maintenance had spent the last two days cleaning the remains of those parties once the staff had vacated the houses for the season.  The pictures he took of the damage and the items left behind were shocking to me.  I would have requested a full hazmat suit before I even entered those seasonal dwellings.

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(image credit: dnaproject.co.za)

From 10 staff houses, they collected over 90 bags of garbage, repaired holes in drywall that were cleverly disguised by newly purchased plastic vent covers, disposed of a few comforters that would easily have contained so many samples of DNA they would keep a Forensics team busy for months, steam-cleaned carpets and collected an arsenal of bottles and cans from each yard.  The description of some of the parties left me speechless, and that is a tough feat considering I have a writer’s brain and nothing is off-limits when it comes to a story.

There is something extremely soothing about walking into my house and not fearing the unknown.  There will be no naked parties taking place, there will be no food on the counters and tables that have become science projects over an extended period of time and there will be no risk of seeing things that cannot be unseen.

I sure hope the two responsible for the clean up get to reward themselves with the accumulated amount of security deposits and bottle returns.  After those crime scenes, they deserve it!

Turning myself into Elvis Costello

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Elvis costello

I am neither becoming transgendered nor am I becoming a rock star but I am going to fit myself into a frame of Elvis’ mind – Every day I write the book.  Come November 1st, that statement will become my new mantra.  I have idly complained, mostly to myself, that I have not been spending any time with my work-in-progress.  We have severe detachment issues but all that is about to change.

With NaNoWriMo looming, I have made a promise to myself to set a writing schedule and do everything in my power to stick to it.  I am not going to set myself up for disappointment by saying I am going to finish my novel in a month but I am going to write as much as my brain will let me in the month of November.  Hopefully the writing Gods will smile on me and allow my creative juices to flow freely and possibly continue on into December until the full story comes to fruition.

I am excited to get back into the character’s minds and allow myself to become fully involved in the process.  There is a great story rattling around in my brain and it is time to put it where it belongs.

Perhaps I should also heed the advice of another popular Elvis – A Little Less Conversation (a little more action).  Wish me luck!!  And to all of you who will be officially participating in NaNoWriMo – may the force be with you!