It’s Been a Week…


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I wrote a post on March 17, 2015, St. Patrick’s Day.  It is still in draft and will likely be disposed of as it sounded a little too much like a whine-fest!

Now like everyone on this planet…I confess that I bitch and complain about any number of things.  But at this moment I’m feeling determined.

A week ago the hot water kicked out in twelve units in our building, mine being among them.

The plumber was in my suite today and you guessed it, still no hot water.

I am fortunate that there are shower facilities at my workplace.  I can and usually do come up with a back-up plan when it’s necessary.  Hell, my hair actually looked half ways decent today considering I’ve been drying it without benefit of a mirror.

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All kidding aside, tonight as I stepped into my apartment and turned on the taps expectantly, my hopes were quickly dashed.  Still no hot water.

I spoke with Kathy the strata council president then called a plumbing company that had been recommended.

Next I drafted a letter to our property manager.

I want this corrected once and for all as I’m certain that everyone in the building does.  Re-piping a building will cost money and a lot of it.

Still, buying a condo is an investment like any other.  We knew this was an issue having had a depreciation report completed a few years back.  The purpose of the report was to begin to set up an adequate contingency fund to oversee the maintenance and repair of the major projects that should be done over the next few years.

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Last Saturday we ran out of time on the one most expensive project being the re-piping of the building.

I’m feeling rather agitated as the powers that be are dragging their heels.

Politics!

Our annual AGM is scheduled for April 27, 2015.  It was suggested that this problem of twelve suites without hot water could wait until such time as it could be discussed by everyone.

Seriously?!

Over a month?

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There are 47 units in my building so 35 are still blessed with hot water. I don’t understand the why’s or wherefores of such things. What I do know is that we need to remedy this, and we need to do this now.

Patch jobs end up being far more costly at the end of the day.

I’m not on council, though I’ve been invited.  I’ve so many other things on the go that committing time to this is just not feasible.  Still, when something requires my attention and assistance then yes, I’m in 100%.

Once the letter is sent, I wonder, will I be ignored?  This property management company hasn’t exactly been very responsive as of late.

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The pit bull in me is coming out. We need to have the building re-piped.  Let’s get on with it.  Let’s get quotes and references and of course do due diligence and check out those references.  Ask pertinent questions and make no apology.  Then go to the bank and with our finances in order and tell them this is what we need. .

At this point we go the rest of the  tenants and tell them. This is what we need to do and this is what it will cost us.

My suite is one of the biggest in the complex.  I’m having to pony up more than most. In my mind it is the cost of owning.  Sometimes shit happens.

We knew this was an issue, hence the special assessment.  We need to do the same $96,000 commitment that we did last year.  The bank will be encouraged by this.

It’s been a week though.

I’m a little numb.  Much to do and I am but one person.   I’m trying to focus on a several things. And I’ll get them all done.

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But tonight as I finished up my conversations and completed the rough draft of the letter I’m going send to the property manager, tears stung the back of my eyes.

I’m not someone who will bitch about falling out of bed at 5:45 AM to go to work to shower and prepare for the day,

In fact, I feel blessed that I have this option.

I switched phone services for my sister and myself last Sunday and it’s been a week of discovering what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve been hell bent at work to prepare an adequate budget.  This gets a check mark.

I finally got the all the journal entries put in to close the year.  Now I just have to close it.

I am looking forward to a year of bank reconciliations.

I’ve got an office to set up and a filing system to implement.

It’s in my head.

I know it will work.

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I finished up and headed over to by worked over by Physio John.

I’ve improved incredibly.

Then why I wondered did I just feel like a piece of shit?

I’ve written a book and all those that I know that have been kind enough to purchase a copy have said nothing.

Have they read it?  What was their opinion?

I’m interested.   And I know, more than anyone how tough it will be for those who do know me to read this.

Yet I’m feeling so incredibly emotional currently and it might well be attributed any number of events that have occurred as of late.

I’m not superhuman.  While my mind is buzzing along at light speed yet my physical self is crashing and screaming.  Then the optimist kicks in.

“You’ll be just fine.”

Who am I trying to convince?”

The physical inabilities are weighing heavy.  Now there’s a pun if I ever heard one.

I’ll manage.  I always do. Whatever these inconsistencies are, I get through.

Right now I’m pushing into warrior mode.  I’m tired of the politics.  They show up on every level.  It is this procrastination that has in fact cost us big time.

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For example, Translink wants more money.  In my mind they need to prove they can manage these funds.  To date, not so much.  The whole Compass program is a fiasco that still sits idle and the cost to taxpayers, well lets not go there as I’ll go for the juggler in a heart beat.

I guess what perturbs me more than anything is that residents will come to the meeting regarding the issues and insist that they shouldn’t have to pay that kind of money.

A friend of mine needs a new roof on her home.  She has been quoted that the cost will be in the $17,000 range.  Ouch!

If I have to pay $7,500 in costs for major projects over the next three years, then I can adjust my budget and do this.

And life goes on.

There are no guarantee’s, no promises.

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I can recall pulling into an Esso Gas Station some 15 odd years ago at Hastings St. & Cassiar.

A woman was standing beside her Maserati crying.

I was just finishing up my newspaper route all those years ago.

I asked her what was wrong.

She was going through a nasty divorce.  All her charge cards had been cancelled and she had no idea now how to put fuel in her car.

I smiled at her and showed her how to do this task.  At the end I told her “It will get better.  You’ll get stronger.”

Then I gave her a hug and left.

I don’t know what happened in her case but I do understand human frailty.

I’ve  been feeling this a bit too much as of late.

And I do know that life will continue on inevitably.

So I’ll wipe the tears the from eyes and get on with it.

The Delicate Balance of a Book Review


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For those who’ve followed me for any length of time on here, you’ll know I share pretty much whatever happens to be playing out in this head of mine at any given time.

And I am entering the realm of a published author now trying to determine how I let the rest of world know that I’ve written a book.  They may want to read it….then again…they may not.

I’ve written letters as of late to ‘promote’ my product.  I’ve set them aside for a week then went back to see if the brainstorming session that had been initiated still held appeal.

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In the last few weeks nothing has been promoted as I’ve recoiled from first few attempts to try to ‘win’ attention of a media person of interest to review my book.  I’ve got this damn weird sense of humour that tries to slip in between the sheets  and (wow) the recipient of a letter just may feel violated!

Mind you, I did send that letter to Ellen…..hmmmmmmmmm!

Some of what I’ve written has been quite good.  However, closing the letter by saying things like…”my friends will tell you I am a good and dependable person.  They will also tell you I’m a little bat-shit crazy at times with a smile on their face in the telling.”

I then challenge the recipient of the letter (who has never met me…never heard of me) to read the book and decide for themselves who I am.  And this book isn’t really an introduction per se of who I am.  It is telling you the nasty business of how I got here.

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Oye!

So having pondered the best approach and a starting point I began to look for book reviewers online. Find someone who appreciates and/or has a preference for memoir and submit the book for an honest review.  The other aspect of this is to find credible reviewers.  I mean I want to garner more traffic and interest in my book.

That’s the point of the marketing.

One of the best ways to create interest is by word of mouth.  Get the buzz happening and people will check you out.  Hopefully the product will then entice you to purchase and read.

I’m wearing a different hat these days.  I’ve gone from being the ‘creative genius’ to being the ‘business mastermind’.

Am I not humble? (Insert a glaringly funny and obscene smiley face here).

In all honesty what I’m finding is that due diligence in this area is extremely necessary.

Many sites request a fee for their time and I can certainly appreciate this.  So far I’ve found sites that request $30 for their services and others that ask for $500 and up.

Then I got to wondering…if you paid the $500 then the $30…what type of reviews would you get? Money can be such an influential thing, can it not?

If I paid $500 for a book review wouldn’t I expect it to be decent and favourable?  And I don’t really have that kind of cash to toss into the arena.  The sum of $500 may well be the entire budget I want to invest in publicizing this book.  I’ve already spent $90 approximately on copies to send out for promotion.  The dilemma at this moment is who to send it to.  Who will have the most impact and do they appreciate this form of literature?

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I read one site that guaranteed honesty in their review.  And I wondered how I would react to someone not liking what I’ve written, not understanding and completely trashing me.

Indeed it would hurt.

But not for long.  I’d have to be pragmatic and ask the reviewer where I lost them and what they found so unappealing.  After all there is the business aspect to this.

And besides, what I’ve lived can no longer hurt me. There will be the odd sting or two no doubt.  And I’m not out to convince this world of anything.

I just am who I am.  No more.  No less.

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As I venture into the wide and wild world of publishing and marketing let me assure you in many ways it’s like seeing the sun rise for the first time even though you know you’ve watched it a hundred thousand times before.

There is a beauty that I just love.  And an innocence that,  damn, I wish I could hold onto forever, and a boatload of desire and passion to expose all that is in this heart of mine

And that’s what I must use as a compass point in this venture.

Take nothing for granted, appreciate any and all comments.

And always remember that I’m only human after all.

Peace out!

 

 

Babies and Birth: The Birth of People, Ideas and a Book


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Last Saturday I attended Claire’s baby shower.  I am so very excited for her!  She is totally warming to the idea of motherhood now and getting rather giddy to boot.

I could see that there was a little fear in there too.  I wanted to tell her that this is a very normal response.

When the idea of a new life being born to this world hits a new mother, it can be a very powerful experience mixed with every emotion imaginable and a boatload of hormones to boot.

Claire will be just fine.

I then got to thinking of all the wonderful people I’ve met since I began writing in earnest, Claire being one of them.

She is one of the first people to have read any of my work.

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I had joined up with the New Westminster Writers Group in early February 2011 which was a critique group.  I hunted about now wanting to find another group that would provide additional information on the whole writing thing.  I found the Vancouver Writers Social Group and joined in March of 2011.  They would get together and discuss various topics.  I liked this and found it was the balance I was looking for.

While I had written all my life I can say in all honesty I really didn’t know anything about it.  When terms such as ‘steam punk, fan fiction’ and the like were bandied about I had no clue what these were.  So I listened.  Claire offered to give me some feed back on the memoir I had begun so I sent her the first chapter then met with her a week later at a coffee house near her home.

I was prepared to be critiqued.  After all this would provide additional guidance on this project I’d begun.  She looked at me rather resolutely and stated “I really like how you write.  You could possibly have a best seller here.”

I was absolutely stunned by her comments.

And it occurred to me then that perhaps I was good at this writing thing after all.

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The year of 2011 was a year of major breakthroughs on so many levels.

What I’d previously considered impossible now held merit and plausibility.  I needed to explore this further.

2011 was also a tough year emotionally.  I was stepping up to own those painful truths that I had denied for the better part of my adult life.  I was taking chances and stepping out of my comfort zone in a big way.  I discovered that my ‘comfort zone’ is simply what I’m used to, what I know and what I come to expect.  It can be a very stifling place to remain in.

Stepping outside of this mindset was the best thing I could have done to assist in my personal growth at that time.

I had to break down a few walls along the way though.

There were opportunities aplenty to change my mind and return the mediocrity of what I had known.  I teetered on this point several times.

But finally it was time to find out what was indeed on the other side of the mountain and my curiosity pushed me over the edge.

2011 was the ‘All or Nothing’ year.

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I just wanted to feel again.  I didn’t want to over analyze or question…I just wanted to experience this life fully and without inhibitions.

And I remember the night I started to write the book in true sincerity and with vision.

I’d chatted for years about penning a book.  There were many starts of fictional novels.  I started a journal back in 2004.  In a light blue duo tang folder I put a package of 200 line sheets in it.

On the over I wrote “Welcome to the Human Race:  With This In Mind”.

It took me seven years to write 100 pages of longhand.

On that January night in 2011 I reached a serious crossroad.   I’d been out with my friend Kathy and we’d had a conversation that would ultimately resonate so deeply that it propel me to change how I was living my life.  That evening I sat in the corner of my bedroom where the computer was originally set up and with a glass of red wine in had and pile of notebooks and such decided it was time.

By July 2012 I’d finished the first draft.

And it was meeting so many other writers, Keith, , John, Gareth, Amber, Jonanne, Perry, Peter, Sonya, Issac….just to name a few that propelled me forward wanting to improve my skill set.

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Claire’s initial affirmation was a major boost for my confidence and to continue on.

In the last five years I’ve finished and published my first book.  I’ve posted about 540 articles on this blog of mine and am developing six other writing projects.  A trilogy of the fantasy fiction variety exploring the evolution of the Written Word; an erotica fictional novel with the exploration of how we arrive at our sexual preferences at the core; a murder mystery and of course a romance.

This should keep me busy for a couple of years.  I also started my own publishing company and do hope to work with other writers as well.

Like all newborn’s there will be few slips and stumbles along the way.  That’s how we learn and grow.

I’m looking forward to meeting Claire and Denis’ little one.  Soon…

Peace.

 

Can You See Me Yet? The Great Marketing Campaign!?


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Three weeks into publication and I’ve sold ELEVEN books!

Pretty damn good considering the majority of this world doesn’t know that I exist nor do they know I wrote a book!

My daughter kindly did some research and sent me information on how to market a book.  It would seem I should have been exciting the masses at least a year ago.

It would seem I forgot about the foreplay.  Oops!  Also, I have to sell myself to some degree, get the public interested in me.

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And I’ve never done that before.  In fact I’ve deflected attention more often than not.  I’ll downplay compliments…that sort of thing.  In truth, I really am trying to get better with accepting love and feeling worthy.  I know this sounds rather absurd but there is truth in this.

Am I a remarkable woman?  There are those that will tell you I am.

I will tell you we all are.

That odd little spot light that at times I shine in but more often than not will find me slipping off into the shadows once the awareness of its presence is known.

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If I want to sell my books, as well as sell and represent others, I will have to develop a sense of self that is comfortable in the public forum.

I will use my passion that fuels what I do!

I am growing and really am looking forward this new challenge.   I’ll be criticized from time to time no doubt.  I do expect this.  There is this odd little thing with how I receive criticism or praise.

Knock me down?  Hell, I’ll be back on my feet in no time.

Shower praise on me and I’ll become awkward and so completely out of my element.

And yet I do understand this reaction.  And I just need to work through it.

So back to the topic at hand.

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I’ve written Ellen DeGeneres and asked if she would review my book.   She has yet to respond.

I’ve called a few radio stations and was given names of the people who do book reviews.  I’m formatting letters of introduction to try and ‘entice’ the person to want to know me better?

Yikes!

I’m trying to be to some degree mysterious…HA! HA! HA! HA!

I’m trying to be to some degree mischievous, interesting, curious…?

And I’m really trying to just be me and not try too hard.

Selling a book is a business.  And in truth, I really am good at ‘business’.

I’ve just never partaken in this form of it before and well, I am excited.

Like a child with their first bike…no doubt I’ll fall a few times.  But the thing about me is I always get back up and I just get better.

Can you see me now?

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The Responsible Writer…


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I got together with my writing group tonight.  The topic for tonight’s discussion was a provocative one.  It had in fact sparked a weird conversation on the Meet-up site. I had found the conversation rather amusing in that obscure and animated manner that we at times come across.

The topic for tonight’s discussion was the role of the ‘responsible’ writer.

An interesting notion regarding the ethics of what we write and how they impact the reading public.

Certain things were declared to keep us in the realm of respectability regarding our writing.

One was to not take a real person and fictionalize their life in a derogatory manner.

The second was not to be deceitful. Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling for Columbine’ was used as an excuse as apparently not all the things in that movie / documentary? were factual.

Still, sometimes you have to stand back and look at the message….yes?

Drive the point home by whatever means but some felt he’d been rather deceitful in the execution of telling the tale.

A lot of questions sprang to mind as I listened to the views expressed.  We all agreed that journalism is held to a very different standard than your run of mill book.

And it should be.

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The term ‘literal truth’ was a raised a few times and I sat considering what meaning this held.

It is a factual term that cannot be disputed. For example the Moon circles the Earth every twenty-eight days.  It is a literal truth that is a proven fact and cannot be altered.  Now that I had reconciled it’s meaning in my head then came the ’50 Shades of Truth.’

And I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  This particular book was mentioned a time or two as well tonight.

While almost everyone and their dog that I have spoken with will tell you how poorly written it is, I ask you this?  What then was the appeal?

To say that a lot of bored housewives were out there smacks of a certain duplicity and insults women in general.

I read the first book.  Didn’t like it.  It was billed as erotica and in truth it was a poorly written romance.  Nothing more.

But I will take my hat off (if I wore one) to E.L James.  She sold this book through brilliant marketing.  Sex and controversy!  Hell, now that is combination that is irresistible.  Get the public curious and they will take note.  She also used social media much to her advantage as well.

I can recall when Michael Jackson wrote ‘Moonwalk’.  The lead up to the release was hyped to the max and ‘promised’ to give us the skinny on the ‘gloved one’ in his own words.

Personally it was a disappointment for me.

Michael was trying to sell a story he’d been parroting for years and in many ways it read as though he was trying to convince himself as well. I didn’t buy it.  And it made me sad.

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The responsible writer…provocative.

What if a woman writes about her love and adoration for her husband who happens to be extremely abusive and controlling to the outside world?  Does this set a poor example for our youth?

If a woman is raped in book and confesses to ‘liking it’ what message does this convey?

At the age of 12 or 13 I slipped beneath the covers with flashlight in hand and read my father’s copy of ‘The Happy Hooker” unbeknownst to him until I was caught.  Back in 1970 I wasn’t too certain what much of what I was reading meant, but I can assure you I was not inspired to go out and fuck a German Shepard.

We need to respect that our children are not mindless sheep who will believe everything that they read.  Also we must infuse a sense of kindness and love in them and teach them by example.

Mark Chapman read “Catcher in the Rye”  It triggered something in him and he killed John Lennon.

Is the book at fault?

No.

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Mark Chapman was mentally ill and unfortunately the object he fixated upon was a brilliant musician.  I love John Lennon’s music. His gift of song spoke to me on such a personal level.

There are many who condemn him for being and an abusive asshole.

I do not condone this type of behavior.  What  I saw was a man trying to change, wanting to be a different man, wanting to be better.

I have not always been the lovely woman I am today either.

John was not afforded certain opportunities as his life was cut short.

In high school we read two books back to back in social studies.

“Mein Kampf” and “The Diary of Ann Frank”

Quite simply the lesson was ’cause and effect’ intimately woven together and it was an incredibly powerful lesson.

One was the progression of an intelligent and extremely impotent and insecure man who was falling into the obscene and frightening belief of his own myth that he had created becoming the epitome of evil.

The other was the beautiful innocence of a girl hiding in an attic with her family experiencing the tender chutes and passions of youth only to be discovered and effectively killed.

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I have always been fascinated by the human condition and what we choose to accept or reject.  We can alter our memories particularly those that are extraordinarily painful. We can press them back and deny them simply because they are too raw and savage.

Human kind has a dark history in this regard.  Through the ages the manner by which we’ve killed our own is truly disturbing.

And it continues.  Atrocities still exist.  I see the intolerance that hate has blossomed into and the false bravado these  men try to wear.  Very sad.

Young people are taken at such a young age and fed a litany of propaganda that they later act upon.

Think about this.

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We tell our children there is a man named Santa that comes every year and flies about the world in a sleigh pulled by eight magical reindeer and delivers a gift to each and every child.  Mall Santas’ sit listening to each child’s wish list and Canada Post will even send a child a letter back if they’ve written to the North Pole.

This is of course isn’t harmful to them, is it?  There is a sweetness to it.  Oh they will eventually grow up and know that it’s not true and when they have children of their own they too will carry on the myth of Santa.

I am simply using a very base example of how myth can affect the mind of a child as I can well recall laying in bed on Christmas Eve wondering if Santa would come.  For a time I believed.

Now think of how they take young boys in the middle east and feed them fear, conditioning them to close their minds and only accept a ‘truth’ bound in darkness.  Because to raise a child up believing that by forfeiting their life serves their ‘god’ and a higher purpose is truly tragic.

What I took from the meeting this night was more in keeping with free thought, free speech and the responsibility to ensure we always have it.

 

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Time Ever….


 

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The traffic was horrible on this evening.  I left the office at 4:00 PM.  I would have to navigate over two bridges on this evening’s commute.  I listened to the first traffic report that indicated a few issues on some of the bridges.

As I passed through the Cassiar Connector. which is a tunnel just past the Iron Workers Memorial bridge (a.k.a. 2nd Narrows), the traffic was backing up and beginning to resemble a parking lot.  I opted to take the 1st Avenue exit and travel along Boundary Road to Marine Way and access the Queensborough Bridge via this route.

I was making a special trip this evening as I was on my way to pick up the books I’d ordered.

This would be the first time I saw my work in print.

I cruised along extremely well and motored to Big Bend shopping centre where the traffic kinda slowed to crawl and sorta stopped altogether at times.

I cranked the radio and checked the gas gauge.  I had a 1/4 tank and should be just fine.  I switched the engine onto economy the sat back and sang out of tune to the songs on the radio.

Time wise I really wasn’t worried as U.P.S. closes at 8:00 PM and it was just 4:40 PM.

The minutes ticked by as the gas gauge slipped closer to empty.  The wild imagination that inhabits this head of mine began to nibble anxiously as the possibility of running of gas surfaced.

I reassured myself and my vehicle that we would be fine.

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An hour and half on the road and I was now approaching the bridge deck to the Queensborough.

Several traffic reports confirmed that accidents or breakdowns had somehow occurred on every bridge this day seemingly.

Michael Jackson crooned, “I wanna rock with you, all night…”

“You’ll get there” I whispered and ran my hand along the steering column like I would a familiar lover.

I squirted past the accident scene, saying a prayer and hoping no one was hurt.  I needed gas and I had to pee!

I seldom venture into this part of the world.  Surely there was a gas station somewhere around here?  Hadn’t I noticed one at some point?

I was down to an 1/8 of a tank when I saw the U.P.S. building and pulled in.

There was a fellow in front of me wanting to courier a watch face embedded with diamonds.  He wanted to insure it for more than $500 which was the limit U.P.S. apparently sets.  A kindly woman was on the phone making an inquiry on his behalf.

Twisting my legs a little tighter, I really didn’t mind waiting, I just need to pee!

The woman gave the fellow the phone so that the individual with the expertise could better explain to him why there was a cap on courier insurance.

After a moment she smiled and asked “Are you picking up a parcel?”

I grinned back “Yes.”

I handed her the tickets then asked if there was a washroom I could use.

She showed me where I could find relief.  Ahhhhhh!

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Upon my return the fellow had left and the woman retrieved my package.

My heart suddenly skipped a beat and crazy excitement began to build.

Completing the transaction my final question was where I might locate a gas station.

She gave me directions and it really wasn’t far.  Now I had the car gassed up and a box full books…my books.

I got back on track and head home to New Westminster.

A warm pleasure ran through me then.  I had been on the road for just over two hours and that was cool.  I was now basking in a strange warm glow as I maneuvered back through rush hour traffic.

The euphoria was building as I crawled back over the bridge.  I pulled out my nail clippers and opened the box then fished about and pulled out a book.  Reaching out I ran my hands along the cover and felt the tears sting my eyes.

I needed to record this moment and I needed food.  There was no way I could cook as every part of my being had surrendered to the sweet emotions that had engulfed me when I saw my first ever book in print.

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I order some food and a beer then opened the book reverently.

I gazed down at the dedication page and burst into laughter.  My first grammatical error glared at me.

To my daughter I wrote, “Not a day goes by that I do not appreciate the woman you ‘has’ become!’

I shook my head and smiled.  That’s just me trying so hard to get it right.

My daughter did the cover and I love it.  It works.

I knew I would come across a few spelling and grammar issues but I did try my damnedest to get it right.

And then I was just so overwhelmed by all of it.  I did it!  I really did!

This is a first.  This is a moment that will never come again.

Mistakes and all I’ve put it out there and bared my soul in the process.

While writing this book I found a strength and truth in my vulnerability that surprised me.

In doing this I am experiencing a  rush so sweet and pure….this is the first time.

Let me savour this for just a moment or two.

Peace.

 

Another Year…


Fifty-seven years.  Sounds like such a long time doesn’t it?

There are times when it feels twice as long and them seems to have gone by far too fast.

I’ve almost passed another year.

Age really doesn’t bother me so much anymore.  It’s keeping this physical body of mine in good repair and remaining healthy and fit.  These are the factors that will determine how I fare in the next stage of my life.

So many things I still want to do, want to experience, want to see, touch, feel…

For now I have but today and I will try to live it fully.

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For some it may mean that their life needs to be filled with activities and an abundance of wild and crazy stuff.

Tonight I stepped to grab dinner.  I gazed up into the night sky with a sliver of the new moon and a stars dotting the black expanse.

In that moment I was breathless!  Oddly tears stung my eyes as I once again realized I am part of this!

There is an energy that runs through this world and beyond…from our ancient ancestors to those who inhabit other worlds and this energy permeates every molecule of my being.

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Tonight as I walked through the streets of New Westminster, the aches and pains that have resulted from the recent car crash reminded me to take my time.

I smiled.  I’m still alive and kicking, albeit painfully.  But I will recover and rebuild and I will run again.

Shit happens, you know?

Sometimes it feels like you received more than your fair share.  But hell, if anything this only makes me appreciate what I have that much more.  If I can live each day in this splendor then indeed I’m living my life fully.

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I met with friends earlier today. It was an impromptu get together that I tossed out to celebrate the release of the book and my birthday.

Cheryl spoke about Mother’s Day last year…THE BEST EVER!

We were laying on the deck of the Star Princess sunbathing enroute to San Francisco watching ‘Dirty Dancing”.

Yeah, baby!

Then we hit Napa Valley and got delightfully drunk!

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It was ridiculously fun and you know, that’s what it’s all about.  Just being in the moment and enjoying those around you.

Beauty is truly an energy.  It is so far beyond the physical world.

So why do we try to define it?  Try to contain it?  And try to dictate what it should be?

My brother Stephen was mentally handicapped.  He was a forceps baby and suffered brain damage at birth as a result.

He was institutionalized at an early age here in New Westminster.  Thankfully the institution is now gone.

For the last few years of his life though he lived in a facility that provided exemplary care.

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My daughter and I went out to see him often.

Stephen was targeted and picked on relentlessly in his youth because of his condition.  Yet I can tell you he had such a beautiful soul.

Stephen was often given ‘trial’ medications that affected his moods and behavior.  And I hurt for him so much in those moments.

My brother just had such a love of everything and music was right up there.  He loved animals, he loved his sisters and his niece.

He would sing Frank Sinatra and Joe Cocker, though you likely wouldn’t understand the words, but they were there in his beautiful interpretation.  And if I close my eyes I can see him rocking back and forth singing with an expression of absolute ecstasy on his face.

For his 48th birthday we rounded up a bunch his mates and took them all to Boston Pizza.  There was a great deal of planning as many of the guests like my brother had special needs.

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The smile on Stephen’s face that day, well my God, it was just brilliant.  There was such a purity to the joy he expressed.  I remember looking around at everyone that day and saw beauty in its truest form.

Many of those in attendance had lived in conditions that were at times appalling.  They had been treated horrifically at times by an unforgiving society that had cast them out.  And yet despite all of this they found it so easy to love and express joy.

That was Stephen’s last birthday.  He passed away about nine months later.  I was with him as he lay breathing shallow fast breathes.  I kissed his forehead and told him it was okay.  He could let go.

My brother is an angel that I’ve been so blessed with .  He taught me so much about humanity, about joy, about forgiveness, about peace.

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Did he ever look in the mirror and feel less than?

Probably not.

Did he condemn himself  for not measuring up to society’s expectations?

Not a chance!

And here I am now…at the start of another year.

I’m embarking on a new world in terms of the publication and what will be revealed.

This is a virginal moment for me.  There is a purity to it, a newness.

But then in this rediscovery of life that I’ve been blessed with…despite the heart thing and the cancer thing…

I’m coming to understand what it means to just be.

If I can pass this along in any context I will.

Thanks for stopping by and many blessings to you.

Peace.