It Starts Here


I woke this Sunday to a beautiful fall morning.  A brilliant blue sky had emerged from behind iron grey clouds that cast the lower mainland in a torrential downfall pretty much all day yesterday.  I decided today would be my return to running.

I did a yoga class yesterday that was pretty intense and while I haven’t been to the gym as often as I would like, I’m getting there.

My toes are still a little numb.  The sensation is minimal though.  This would be a walk/run in any case.  I have only run twice in the 4 1/2 months since the surgery.  I am all set up for the radiation treatments which will be starting in a couple of weeks.

I just want all of this to be done.  There has been an odd impatience as of late.

I’ve noted lately is that I have begun to feel rather irritable with all the poking and prodding.  Oh, you need more blood?  Oh, you need to put another mega needle in me?  Oh, you need to poke about my vagina a bit more?

My daughter smiled the other day at my rant about the nurses being unable to find my veins, but it can be frustrating.  I have deep veins that are small also known as ‘rollers’.  I make it a point to tell this to anyone who is going to attempt to draw blood out of me.  There is a huge ‘ick’ factor to having someone put a needle in you then begin to probe with said needle to find the vein they thought was there as it seemingly just disappears.

I shouldn’t complain and usually I don’t.  I think the fatigue experienced and the challenge to stay focused has worn on me a bit.

So this morning I thought I would try the feet out.  See if they were up for it.  They were.  I’ve got my work cut out though.  My core has lost a lot of strength.  This makes sense though considering that I had surgery and couldn’t do anything for a couple months afterward.

Still I had some really good long stretches where I ran it out for a good kilometer or more.  I did the 5 KM route and it took me about 45 minutes. Not too bad at all.

I want to put together a workout regiment now that will focus on core strength and losing this additional 20 lbs. that accumulated over the past few months.

I have missed running.  It felt good on the two long stretches that I got in.  Yes, the lower back and hips are tight but damn, despite the pain, I love the movement.  I know it will get better and better.  I’ll get stronger.  In a way I am starting over, but the difference this time is I know where this will take me.

I got my submission in for the CBC Short Story Contest.  Worked really hard on it.  At 1,500 words it is a challenge to tell a story in such a short span.  And in fact, you can’t really tell a story but rather share an event in a story.  The non-fiction portion will begin December 1st and I’ll enter that as well.  Might as well.  It is a good exercise.

Then we have NaNoWriMo this month.  I will give it a shot unofficially.  I’ve got the new book that I am working on and I am five chapters in.  So I am going to check my word count which I think is about 20,000 words and see if by the end of November I can have 70,000 plus words.  That would see the first draft at 75% complete.

I am just going to fight to get back on track to where I was prior to this whole cancer thing.  It feels longer than five months that I have been sucked in and consumed with all of this. And I just want it to be done.

Still, I am elated that I can introduce running back into the equation.

Enjoy your day.

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The Marketing Files: Refocus


Forward thinking in a backward world, or is it backward thinking in a forward world?  In any case, I had an interesting conversation last evening at a friend’s birthday dinner.  I began discussing my curiosity about marketing and how I was looking at some of the things I could do to develop more traffic for my blog spot.

Some interesting points were brought up.  I was challenged on why I wanted to do this.  Did I have a product?  If I did, then I should be trying to attract people who could assist in promoting said product.  In other words, marketing isn’t a popularity contest. 

Pointedly I was asked if those of you following my blog would purchase my book once it was released.  I was asked if any of my current followers could assist in getting the news out about the publication.  It was a bit of an assault, but one that I really think I needed. 

I actually found myself feeling extremely protective of all of you who read my posts.  Then I wondered (GASP!) if I was selling out by wanting to improve the amount of traffic I receive.

It was an odd reaction.  I started this blog for the purpose of writing on a regular basis.  I have stated this previously.  This still holds true. I guess, too, this was a way to introduce myself to the world of writing. 

This is the first forum that anyone has ever read any of my writing.  I had not joined the writing groups when I began this blog.  I truly was in my little corner of the world hoping that someone would hear me. 

I thought about the ‘product’ that I would be promoting in the grand scheme of marketing and it would in fact be me.  I am the one who is writing.  All these ideas are coming out of the expansive grey matter that resides between my ears. 

It was very strange to think of myself as a ‘product’.  As I considered this, it occurred to me that we sell ourselves all the time.  If we’re looking for a job, resumes are developed to highlight our skills and abilities pertaining to the position applied for.   So the shift is a minor one really with this line of thought, yes? 

Yet when I applied this ideology to promoting myself as writer, there was a moment of panic that occurred, a moment of doubt. 

No solid background exists in this area.  I did not graduate from high school.  While I took a non-accredited Creative Writing course several years ago, there are no other educational credentials or pursuits on my part.  My education in writing has come from reading and the need to put my thoughts down on paper.  A few years ago I went from describing myself as someone who loved to writer to a writer. 

This change in how I regarded myself demanded a certain discipline and respect if I was to take this seriously and regarded as such.  My belief was and still is that if you want to be good at something, anything…practice regularly.  Find and acknowledge the areas that you are weak in and work that much harder to develop your skill set.

And this is where I am currently.  Working hard to become a wordsmith of sorts. 

What I realized last evening as well, is that I have succeeded.  Perhaps not to the acclaim that many might equate success with, but those of you who have followed my posts hopefully have gained something from them.  Or perhaps I have simply entertained you. 

I will continue to research various marketing techniques and I will report my findings to you.  But this is not a popularity contest.  While I joked about being the Belle of the Blog, it really was meant in jest. 

My interest in marketing is simple.  I plan to self publish. I have a few reasons why I want to go this route.  First and foremost, I wrote a memoir.  It is a very personal telling of some extremely difficult issues regarding abuse I have had to deal with during my lifetime. 

I want to have control over this and that was why I chose not to try and ‘sell’ my story.  Second, I thought what better way to get to know the market I am wanting to be part of.  If I am going to make mistakes, and I can almost guarantee you that I will, then why not do it with my own story? 

I am now writing my first fictional novel and am six chapters in. I also have about six others in various stages to be developed down the road. I am always coming up with new ideas as well.  I am exploring various genres and I am having fun with the telling of stories and I want to become good at it. 

The plan then will be to post any new marketing information I have come across and my ideas surrounding it perhaps once a week.?  All other posts will be in keeping with what I have done all along of whatever happens to be firing in my head at the time. 

Just needed to adjust my focus a bit.  There, I can see so much better now. 

Enjoy your day!

 

 

Wiggin’ Out


RW ExciteI got to thinking about a book I read along time ago.  Can’t remember the name of it but it was a ‘futuristic romance’ novel.  Now I am not one who typically reads romance novels, however, for a year back in 1994 or thereabouts I found myself plunged into the darkest depression I’ve experienced to date.

This was a result of memories that had been repressed and that had now surfaced.  Oddly enough for that year I read approximately 200-250 romance novels.

Inadvertently I became something of an unqualified ‘expert’ on this genre.  And now that I’ve made my excuses I will carry on.

In the book in question, the female lead is a futuristic soldier.  She is by description perfectly formed and is pretty much hairless.  This is now how the current society rules. After having a waterless shower she can walk into some contraption and order up whatever hair colour she wants, her choice of cosmetics, clothes and also change her eye colour if she so chooses.  All of these goodies are zapped into place and she is out the door.

Of course there is a rebel faction outside of this society that is considered the ‘enemy’.  They stayed au-natural and as is the formula for such romance novels, she meets one of these beastly and very hairy males and takes him prisoner.  Of course, hormones win out and they have amazing sex with a multitude of orgasms involved and she eventually throws away her life to go off and live in a mountain somewhere.  (I can’t really recall how it ended but typically with romance novels even the strongest female characters acquiesce to the male’s lifestyle.)

If you are asking yourself what’s the point of this odd little recollection of mine then here is my reasoning.  What spurred this particular remembrance was the idea of being able to walk into a contraption and change your appearance radically from day to day.  As I positioned my wig this morning and pulled out all the little pieces stuck beneath the elasticized netting and combed the mop into place I wondered how homogenized we would all look if we could do that.

And I wondered, if in this world I had read about close to 20 years ago, the women actually went out with no hair at all.  I don’t recall it ever stating this.

Yesterday I saw the surgeon who performed my surgery back in June.  This was a follow up to ensure that I had healed up and no scalpels or sponges had been left inside.  And I have healed up fabulously.

The doctor thought I still had my hair and that I had simply changed the colour and style.  We have only met twice before.  Pre-op my hair was growing out and looking rather unruly as it usually did.  Day of the operation I was covered in baby blue shower cap during surgery and well, I don’t want to even begin to describe the horror of my hair after the operation.

When I told her it was a wig, Dr. Finlayson was impressed on how natural it looked.  And you know, the funny thing is that while I have been told this a number of times now, to me it looks so ‘fake’. And in my typically curious manner I began to analyze my response.

Laying in bed last night I let these musings play about and then another thought occurred.  I got to thinking about sex.  I am a single woman after all and I wondered if being bald at the moment would add a new dimension to the act.

I like having my hair touched during sex normally so how would it feel while in this state?  Then I wondered if it would be a turn on for men.  I would not even consider for a moment trying to keep this thing on during the event.  Hell, I had a bout of sleepiness hit me the other afternoon at work and I rested my head on my hand and closed my eyes for a few minutes.

A few minutes later I went to the washroom to freshen up and sure enough the wig was sitting slightly askew.

And as I drifted off to sleep I smiled because now the imagination was having fun.  My last thoughts were of meeting this beautiful man….not telling him I was wigged out and when things got hot and heavy and he pulled the wig off I would scream “My hair! You pulled out my hair!”

Ah yes, the all important first impressions.  Hmmm…there may be a clue in there as to why I am still single.

The above photo is the wig I purchased.  I would have preferred the colour it is shown in and may hunt around for one a little darker. I like the style…but the shade of ginger blond on me…not quite so much.

Have a good one and thanks for popping in.  Toodles!

 

Guilty Pleasures


So I am going to come clean with a few guilty pleasures today.  I have been preoccupied with my health as of late and quite honestly, I want to take a break from thinking about it.   As stated yesterday I am looking to the lighter side of things.

An interesting tidbit this morning to send out to others in the profession of welding.  A guy had an acetylene tank stored in the back of his vehicle for his work.  He is a welder.  He used his remote to unlock the car and something sparked in the tank and the vehicle went up like a roman candle.  This occurred just two blocks from my work place.  A few people were injured by flying debris but no one was hurt seriously.  I am sure this is an anomaly, however, felt there was a need to share for the purpose of awareness.  Sometimes we just do things on such a regular basis we don’t stop to think of the potential harm is something is not stored properly.

In any case, the above is not a guilty pleasure but ‘Dancing with the Stars’ is.  I don’t know what it is about that show but I have always liked it.  Perhaps it’s the fact that the stars really do have to work their butt off and also you get to see a side of them not ordinarily seen.  And somehow I feel a connection to those who no matter how hard they try, just have no rhythm.

I am one of those who really cannot dance.  I do love to try.  Ask my broom and my mop.  They are frequent partners of mine.

A few years ago I went to a Halloween event at a pub.  My friend’s son was playing his first paid gig and when getting up to dance Marie made the comment of not wanting to ’embarrass’ her son.  Hell no!  That girl has got moves let me tell you!  I was blown away.

When my daughter was young she told me that I looked like a Sea Monkey when I dance.  Do you recall these on the back of cereal boxes?  They turned out just to be brine shrimp….yet another rip off in marketing.  You needed a million box tops it seemed and then got some squiggly pink thing that looked nothing like the animated characters on the box that bounced around at the bottom of a fish bowl.

But there you have it.  My claim to fame…I can dance like a brine shrimp.  Take practice you know.

Another guilty pleasure is that I still like Freddy Fender.  He was a round little fellow from Mexico who made it big in the 1970’s.  Songs such as ‘Before the Last Tear Drop Falls’ and ‘Vaya Con Dias’ topped the charts.  I still have his album and every once in a while I pull it out and give it a spin.

I always wondered too, why The Bee Gees got such a bad rap.  I love their music.  Yet, when the backlash against disco occurred in the early ’80’s admitting that you liked such a group got you exiled and placed permanently on the ‘D’ list.

That’s okay though, because in truth I was never on any list for that matter.  My range in music is huge.  From hard rock to classical and everything in between.  I have never purchased a polka record but I have danced the Chicken dance to a polka.  And in my defense to having done this (more than once) let me just say that the consumption of alcohol sometimes makes me do things I wouldn’t normally do and I was in Alberta at the time.  So there.  Confession is good for the soul, isn’t it?

We all have those little things that delight us that just happen to be a little nerdy or not in vogue I suppose.  Funny thing is, I sometimes don’t know why I find it necessary to ‘hide’ certain likes from the populace.

They are not bad things, not sinister things…okay, doing the chicken dance is a little weird but harmless.  Last night I actually saw a woman dressed as a chicken on ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’  That is something I wouldn’t do.  She described herself as a ‘Hot Chick’.  And this I watched as precursor to the ‘DWTS’ finale.

Ah yes, to be so eloquent and rhythmically inclined that I could dance with effortless grace across the floor.  (Insert dreamy sigh)

So yes, such is the mind these days entertaining such notions.  But alas, I am the woman who dances like a Sea Monkey.

Enjoy you day everyone and thanks again for stopping by.

 

 

In Training (Day 76)….Am I Tough Enough?


A slight altercation in my workout strategy this week.  On Wednesday evening I had my writer’s group meeting and it ended early.  I got to chatting with John, one of the members.  We discussed future projects and a host of other topics.  Finally he said he had better get going.  I looked at the time and it was 1:24 AM!

Yes, I can be long-winded.  I know that but I didn’t think that it was that late.  So I scratched running on Thursday morning and moved it back to the original Friday slot.  This morning’s run showed improvement.  I did my 5 km route.  At the beginning it felt really awesome and I debated doing my 6 km route.

‘No…listen to your body and don’t push it!’   I warned myself.  There is a rather steep incline on the 5 km route and I walked it out for about a minute in that area.  For the most part I felt the strength coming back, though I have a ways to go.  I am hoping that the race this Sunday goes well.  It is a run around the Seawall in Vancouver.  The only incline is at the end.  The last 1/2 km is uphill.  Rather cruel, don’t you think. 🙂

My breathing was not as laboured as it was a few weeks ago. I found a really nice Zone 1 pace this morning and I will try to incorporate that into my run on Sunday.  I was also fasting this morning as I needed to go for my blood tests.  So that was the other factor in taking it really easy this morning.

Ah yes, happily only four vials of blood were removed from me.  I had thought that perhaps six may be taken.

When I entered the building a pale blue sky was peeking out from the clouds.  It was quite mild out and dry.  When I walked out of the building 1/2 an hour later there was a hail storm.  Fortunately I was wearing my wind breaker that has a hood on it.  The hair suffered a little but not too badly…and I had the hair thing going on today.  Is it a sign?

Then I got to thinking about just how tough I am and what that means exactly.  Somehow when I think of being tough it has an air of impenetrability to it.  That somehow I cannot be hurt or maligned.  It surprised me with this flu bug that I picked up just how quickly all the hard work and training reduced my efforts dramatically.

I also got to thinking about the publication of the book.  I had an incident occur at the writer’s group meeting in that one of the members commented on the actual style of the book itself.  Now he probably joined when I was in the mid-way point of my book.  So he has never read the first part.  First he told me how a book should be structured than likened my book to a comedian who never comes through with the punchline.  That I wasn’t providing relief, I wasn’t summarizing.

Now this writer’s group is about reviewing the work that has been offered up and offering insight into the flow and the various components of the characters, and in my case me.  Does it work?  How might it be more effective?  That type of thing.  In fact, the original guys that I met when I joined just over a year ago helped me immeasurably and gave me such insight and perspective into my project.

So I have been pondering how to respond to this.  It occurred to me that perhaps he just doesn’t like my writing or the topic or both.  And I told him this.  I explained that this book was not for everyone.  It was strange because I realized too, that with publication I am opening myself to criticism.  For the record, I have always posted a warning to my group members if a chapter is particularly raw and graphic.  The thing about this weeks submission is there was a lot of humour inflected into the telling of this event.  That I suppose is what had me mystified.  There was a vagueness on his part of articulating his point, which is odd for this particular individual.  Then he just seemed to shut down as I  inquired further as to his meaning.  “That’s just my opinion.”  was all he offered.

An odd tension arose that I was a bit confused by.  And as I thought about it later I decided it’s not really okay to slam someone’s format for their book.  Now I have to decide how to approach this.  This group is not about dictating how a book should be set up.  It is not about whether you like the topic or not.  I would prefer someone be honest and tell me they find the subject matter disturbing and don’t wish to participate in this particular project.  I am totally down with that.

I suppose too, this fellow is an educator and has been in publishing as he pointed out ‘for 23 years.’

Again I was left with the impression that somehow he feels he is more knowledgeable in this area than I am and that my work is somehow inferior.

I suppose that I should expect such things though when I publish this, and I will publish it.  So I will have to implement some rules regarding the critiques that are offered up in group.  I am a co-organizer after all and I am ‘tough enough’ to take this on the chin.

Understand too that I only have a Grade 10 education.  Yes, I went to a community college for a year as a mature student for accounting, but much of my education has come from reading.  Do I know all the nuances of the language, all the technicalities?  No.  I have issues with tenses…that has become apparent but it is this type of feedback that has made me a better writer as it has been brought my attention and dually noted.

Should I take a writing course on such technicalities?  Well, in truth it really doesn’t interest me.  I think the best way to learn is to read and write.  My command of the language has improved incredibly in the last seven years or so and will continue I suspect.

Part of the conversation I had with John later was about certain books that are considered literary masterpieces as they are written for scholars by scholars.  While I have tackled some of these they are at times difficult to read and somewhat intimidating at times.  They are held up though in their perfection and hey, I won’t slam this at all.  After all it is a glimpse of the language being mastered and I truly do appreciate this.

My point to all of this though is simple.  Just because someone has more education does not grant them the right to dictate prose and structure to others.  After all, this also a creative process.

I am tough enough.  I realized that about self.   I will publish this book. I will finish my race even if I have to walk at times.  It is after all about the journey and what I learn along the way.

Have a great Friday everyone!

 

Choices


New York_2 076

This is an anniversary of sorts for me today.  One year ago on this date I was admitted into hospital where an angiogram was performed and later an angioplasty.  Which means, for those of you not familiar with the terminology, I had a heart blockage that was investigated then had a stent inserted to open up the artery which we discovered was 95% blocked.

And the thing of it is, I had virtually no symptoms.  We  kind of stumbled upon this through some other tests.  A year ago I was feeling far too human and far too fragile by the day’s end.  But what I realized in that moment as I laid in the operating chamber, very much awake and watching as the doctor moved his instruments inside my heart, was how little time on this planet we actually have and how much we take it for granted.  It was the day after this event while I sat curled up on my sofa, ruminating about all of the things that I had been through in my life time that I began this blog.

I have always wanted to write and I want to be a good at it.  Don’t get me wrong, I have always written,  not always in a particularly coherent manner, mind you.  At this time last year no one had ever read any of my writings.  I had been working on a memoir, which last year was still a compilation of emotional writes in several notebooks.  I embraced the New Year with a vim and vigor never quite experienced before.

I found a writer’s group that focused on offering positive critiques for ongoing novels and/or short stories. My first meeting with them was rather intimidating.  I can recall thinking ‘What if I’ve just been kidding myself all these years and can’t really write very well at all?’  To this little offering of doubt that presented itself, I smiled and decided that I best learn the craft then if I want to write, yes?  And so began the exploration of learning to become a decent wordsmith.

I joined yet a second writing group which tackled different issues regarding the world of publishing and all the little intricacies and nuances and gave me insight into a world I really knew nothing about.  I have been a sponge, wanting to take in as much as possible.

Sanctuary Photowalk 087This is my 219th post over the course of this past year.  I have had emotional highs and lows.  I have challenged self consistently and have moved forward steadily.  To where, I can’t say just yet.  What I’ve been doing, I realized today,  is that I have been laying down a foundation of sorts.  I have become far more disciplined in the task of writing on a daily basis.  The appetite to read, to explore, to research is at times voracious and difficult to satisfy as there are only 24 hours in the day.  In that mix I work two jobs, run, workout, do Yoga, write, cook clean, socialize.  I punched it up into high gear and just ran with it.

Over a four and half month period I put the book together.  And other ideas began to blossom in this fertile head of mine.  I participated in Rick Hansen’s 25th Anniversary of the Man in Motion Tour.  And now not only do I want to write, but I want to contribute in a positive way to this world that I belong to. And I guess that has been one of the most exceptional realizations is that I do belong and that I matter right along with all my other beings on this beautiful planet.

For so many years I looked out at this world from a carefully constructed shelf.  As this year began I jumped into the fray and woke to this world of so much splendor.  I wondered why I had not done this previously, but then decided no point dwelling on a point that was now moot.  I run now into a presence that encourages as much as it challenges.  I no longer have the attitude that I can’t do something.  Now the neurons are firing and assembling thoughts and ideas at a pace that I sometimes can’t keep up with.  And so I sit, meditate and slow the thing down.

It’s not about me, the individual any longer.  It is about me, the participant.  What can offer to the grand design?  How can I be used by this life source that feeds me and give back?  Those are the questions that dance through the head now.

flowerI do consider myself a writer now, not just a person who likes to write.  I have made several choices in my life…some not so good…some not so bad.  But the best choice I made over this last year was to live and live well.

For those of you that have followed my journey over this past year,  I thank you and hope that you will continue on with this evolution of mine.

Puddles & Plays


Laying in my bed this morning I could hear the rain falling outside.  I smiled.  There was, of course, the mental battle of whether to go for a run and get obviously wet, or stay in the warm depths of the bed.  It really wasn’t too difficult a decision.

I opted to get good and wet.  I splashed delightfully through the dark of morning in the rain.  I really don’t mind it.  Sometimes it takes a little longer to get warmed up, but hey, that’s what happens when you live in a rainforest.  It was refreshing and there is something about the smell of wet Earth and Evergreens that I find very exhilarating.

Last night I met with an improv group for the first time.  I have never done any kind of comedy in terms of performance, and telling jokes and delivering a punchline in a rehearsed setting…well, half the time I forget the damn thing and my timing is all off, so I get heckled by my friends and curl up in a ball and suck my thumb.  Comedic talent? No, though  I can be very funny at times.

In all seriousness, I thought it might be fun to meet with some performers and bring forward some ideas for sketch comedy routines.  I wouldn’t mind exploring the written aspect to all of this as writing and developing skills in this area is what I am truly exploring.

We did several exercises and games.  I found I quite liked the idea of behaving foolishly as I explored different characters through this medium.  But don’t go thinking you’ll find me seeking out a stage to try out this new delight.  I am one of those people who should you put me in front of an audience,  I likely resemble a deer-caught-in-headlights.  I become something of shrinking violet…just get me out of there!  Then things get really awkward and that’s when the really weird stuff can erupt from my mouth.  And we really don’t want to go there.

No thespian desires have been ignited.  What I hope to get out of working with this group is developing some insight and angles on writing sketches and working with performers.  Just that simple.  And if I can explore the other sides of self that often doesn’t get out to play as much, then all the better.

I also like the idea of seeing how people interpret what has been written.  How do they absorb it and make it their own?  When we read a book for example, the words will likely paint a very different picture in my mind than what you see when you read it.  When it is suggested what someone looks like in a fictional novel, then I create an image in my head.

I think that is one of the reasons why movies that have been adapted from book form are often so lacking.  If I have read the book, then I have a visual in my mind’s eye.  When I go to see the movie, I am watching the director’s interpretation of the book.  An example would be ‘The Mists of Avalon’.  The idea of the book is that it’s the Arthurian Legends told from the women’s point of view.

I read the book several years ago and had this image rich world come to life as the story unfolded.  I loved the book.  A few years ago it became a TV movie.  I debated whether I should watch it or not, then thought why not?  Not surprising it did not even come close to what was in my sweet little imagination.  The characters that evolved for me were mysterious, magical, beautifully feminine, enticing, exciting and tragic.

So I will continue to meet with this group for a while and see what comes.

You know its funny but when I run through the park  on Friday mornings, particularly at this time of year, I liken the shape of the trees to different forms.  Animals evolving into magical creatures.  I see the forms of people in them, I see torment, I see joy, I see passion and vulnerability.

The feeling of the water that splashes on me from my running shoes, the sensation of the rain hitting my face and the sound of the breath moving through my body.  Good stuff.  All of it.  And I will continue to explore the creative spirit that looks for expression constantly.

Enjoy your day everyone.