Hey, there’s some sap on your back.

Okay, let’s get sappy for a moment. It’s Olympic season—let’s put a little sap into all that muscle. For two weeks most people around me are glued to whatever device they have access to, holding their breaths, and hoping their favorites take gold. Stories are being told of how these Olympians do it—how they defeat the limits of the body to perform in this unreached way. And to me these stories are the most important take-away. They tell us what it takes to succeed, to overcome.

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When I was a kid I was an avid skier. In my mid-teens I discovered ballet, and threw myself into it, giving up just about every other physical activity. After a couple of years I joined a troupe and did what we here call sports-etudes, which meant the major part of my day was spent in the studio and I was exempt from most school classes. I danced for 8-10 hours a day. I’d be in the studio when no one else was, I’d be in my dorm practicing, I would even practice in my dreams. As my studies came to an end and opportunities began opening up, my knees gave out. All that skiing, they said, followed by intense dance training. I was given a choice: give up dancing, or undergo a surgery that may leave me worse, possible with difficulties even walking. I gave up dancing.

That was my choice. I didn’t have it in me to take the risk. To these Olympians a choice like that would be a no-brainer: they’d choose surgery. If there was any chance they could continue doing what they like best they’d take it, risks be damned. Insane, some of us would think.

Now, too many years later to name, I’m a writer. I’ve been working on the same novel for too many years to name as well. I’m coming to an end of this novel, a true end. What I’ve learnt in all this process of countless years of writing is that I need the insane. I need the OCD. I need the brutality of perfectionism. I need to push and push, and loose hair and teeth. I need to cry in the dark. And more than that I need the will to keep at it.

The thing all these Olympians have in common is a belief in self. They know they can do it. They don’t care how long it will take, how much practice it will require, how much they have to give up. They can do it. A when they fall, when they injure themselves repeatedly, it’s fine, because they will heal and they will continue until they get there.

And they have one more thing. They have support. They don’t do it alone. They have family, friends, coaches, teams, who believe it them. And eventually they have a country backing them up.

At my kids’ elementary school, they’ve been going nuts with Sochi. Watching the events on Smartboards in classes. All their schoolwork has been Olympic geared for the last two months. They’ve done many written and oral projects. And the phys-ed department posted a YouTube video supporting the Canadian team.

After I watched it with my kids I told them to re-watch it, and imagine that all this was done for them—that they had all this support behind them. That they could do whatever they wanted in life, if only they have the right attitude.

I tell you the same thing: watch the video and imagine that all this is to support you and what you want to do. At the end of the video, all that screaming is to cheer you on. All the banners have your name on it. And when you’re done watching, then go, and do it, whatever it is. Because you can.

9 New Year’s resolutions for a writer, ie. me

1. Get dressed every day of the week. Okay, 5 days out of 7. Fine, 4 days. NB: Pants with coat covering pajama top and hat covering head does not count as getting dressed.

2. Speak to people who are not my children or my children’s teachers at least three times a week.

3. Do not live inside my head so much so that said people can actually speak to me.

4. Do not turn every incident into opening scene of a story. See note no. 3.

5. Remember that children need to eat on a regular basis.

6. Remember that children should be picked up on time from school, otherwise kids gets ushered into office and exasperated staff from school call with snarky voice.

7. Periodically leave the house for something other than driving children and buying food. ie. Go for walk, or do yoga, or have lunch with a friend. See note 3 and 4.

8. This is the most important. It will help when New Year’s Resolutions are not kept:

Remember the power of introverts.

9. When have broken all resolutions and am proudly basking in power of introverts, must remember am not hermit or will become stinky crazy cat lady. Already one cat lurks by my windows and door meowing to get in. He has even snuck into house and helped himself to my wine (I caught him with his paw inside my glass). Repeat: Am not hermit.

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Happy New Year! 

 

How about you: any resolutions this year?

Aside

A cocoa and marshmallow moment without the cocoa or marshmallows

There are some things we return to over and over no matter what age we are. It’s our comfort, our go tos, our ahhh time.

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(photo credit: http://littleulvar.deviantart.com/art/cozy-350285009)

At the top of my list of comfort activities is reading Gay Gavriel Kay. I’ve been saving his latest novel for a time when I really needed it, and that time arrived a couple of days ago.

As a child I believed in magic and secret groves and fairies and witches and warlocks and lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

I still do.

And when I read Kay I’m reminded of that.

His latest novel, River of Stars, is mesmerizing.

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I devour novels, about every 3 days I’m reading something new. 7 days if it’s long or requires me to be gentle with it. This one will be a much much longer read. More like how I eat chocolate. I savour tiny morsels; a chocolate can last months (literally!) often until my husband can’t take it anymore and eats it when I’m not looking.

I can feel the dedication that Kay put into River of Stars, each sentence is like a breath.

As a writer, I’m astounded by his story telling capabilities.

This story is told across people in time, rather than across time itself. There are characters we meet only briefly, being in their POV for a couple of pages and no more, never to return again. And yet, there is no frustration in this, no sense of being cheated, because we have witnessed the character’s defining moment in the story and there is no need for more from them. They have shifted the current, and that was all they needed to do.

I don’t underline prose in my books. I don’t fold pages. I was tempted to do so, but realized I would highlight too much to be of any benefit. This is one I’ll return to again and again, if only to hear the lyrics within its pages.

Do you have a go-to author or novel(s)?

Dead Things

For most of the summer, every time we opened our front door to make our way down the treacherous path, we held our breath, crossed our fingers, and did rock paper scissors to see who would be first.

We live on a hill, with a steep sloppy cobbled path, and although many visitors complain and wonder how on earth we go and up and down multiple times a day, especially when bags are involved, that wasn’t the issue. We love that part of it. The problem was the Dead Things. Legs, heads, gutted torsos. Wings, beaks, a carpet of feathers. And depending on how long they’d been there (hours or overnight) all the crawlies that accompany dismembered bodies.

You see, we had a pair of falcons (although one neighbour is not convinced that’s what they are–if you look at the photo and recognize the bird, please, leave a comment and let me know!) move in, and nest. Three hatchlings added to that pair, meant five predatory birds hunting in my ancient oak tree on my front lawn.

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My husband took this photo in early spring when they first arrived. The birds screech so loudly, all of the neighbours in the vicinity were opening the doors and scanning the skies to find out what was going on. At first it was fantastical, we’d all stand around dumbfounded with our cameras and binoculars, watching these soaring birds. But then bodies started piling up, two, three a day, and all the wildlife disappeared. Our noisy, busy, neighbourhood was abandoned. And yet, still the bodies piled up. Passer-byers I could only suppose. And once the hatchlings were out and learning to hunt, but were still ever so clumsy in their kills, it was horrifying. I had to go out ahead of the kids, armed with bags and a scooper and Lysol. And I, I admit without shame, and oh so squeamish, I have even a hard time cooking chicken (no red meat in my house). Let’s just say we ate our fair share of fruit and veggies and beans this summer, appreciating the vegans.

And then, just like that, I opened my door and did not find any Dead Things (as my family came to call this debris). And the next day, neither. And then we opened the window and heard the chattering of birds. Not the shrill of the hunters. And we all ran to look outside and cried, “Look! It’s birds!!” After a week, the red cardinals came back. And then the ravens. And the squirrels are back in full force. (have you ever seen a predatory bird go after a squirrel??!!!). Still no finches, or blue jays, or grackles, or robins, or or or. But things are flying around, and calling out to each other. And it feels like summer is here. Too bad it’s actually just ending.

Always buy batteries!

How many times have you been told to make sure your fire alarms are working and have batteries in them? Countless, I’m sure. But, if you’re anything like me, you take this warning half to heart. Yah, yah, I know, but I just keep forgetting to stop for batteries. It’s OK. I’ll get to it. Plus, when the batteries die the smoke detectors make that awful noise, inevitably in the middle of the night. So maybe it’s a subconscious thing that I keep putting off.

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As it happens, yesterday I went to bed with the toaster oven on. I didn’t know this of course. My husband, who has been traveling, came home a few days early around midnight. He happened to be in the kitchen looking at some mail and hearing a ticking sound. He finally investigated and found the toaster oven at 400 degrees. The toaster oven is in a nook, separate from our kitchen.

We live in 1914 Arts and Crafts house. It’s a very typical house from that period, which means unusual, and given the layout, my bedroom is on the second floor, and the three kids happened to all be having a sleep over in Older Brother’s room on the first floor. There’s also an original oak butler’s pantry. Which is where we keep our toaster oven. Some papers had fallen behind the toaster oven and they had turned brown and began curling from the heat. The old wood was too hot to touch. Had my husband not come–as was planned–there would have been a fire. And I didn’t have any fire alarms with working batteries.

Luck, fate, who knows. But I can tell you this, I’m going to buy batteries today!

Moving Forward

Two things happened recently that I’ve been waiting a long time to happen. I’d long given up on either of them happening.

The first is that I found a title for my novel.

The relief I feel at this happening is enormous. I really thought I’d be selling this book with some horrible title that just never really fit. I’ve only told one person the title. I’m just not ready to share it. It’s been sitting with me for a few weeks, solidifying and becoming permanent. I’m letting myself know what it feels like to have this title before I can see how others react. This is the first time I’ve had to keep a potential title to myself.

The second thing is that I’ve heard a song that is totally my novel. If I had to pick a theme song this would be it–it describes it in so many ways. So many authors have songs that depict their novel, and the fact that I didn’t was always a bummer to me. I thought I just wasn’t cool like that. Guess I was wrong :) The song is Radio Active, Imagine Dragons.


Other than that I’ve been busy getting my novel complete. Most of my brain power is designated to writing, and there’s not much left for my blog. I’m just writing as much as I can. Here’s hoping by the end of the summer I’ll have good news about my progress. I’ll be popping in occasionally.

Have a great summer!!!!

 

A Book Give-Away!!!!!

Linda Cassidy Lewis is having a five-day e-book give-away, with a winner each day! Winners can choose from either of her two published books in a series. There’s still two days left for you to win one these fantastic books–you may be the lucky one!!!

Reposted from her blog:

All right, we’re now on Day 4 of my end-of-May giveaway extravaganza! I’m giving away ONE eBOOK EACH DAY for five days. Winners get a choice between The Brevity of Roses or its sequel An Illusion of Trust.

brevwidget2Don’t despair if you entered yesterday, or the last three days, but didn’t win. You have two more chances because it’s a new giveaway each day. If you don’t win today, you can enter again tomorrow! And if you win today, you can enter tomorrow to try for the other book.

IMPORTANT: Since these are five separate contests, you must follow the entry instructions each day you want to be entered in the drawing. Entries DO NOT carry over to the next contest.

All eBooks are in the Kindle format, but you don’t have to own a Kindle to read them. The FREE Kindle app is available for every major smartphone, tablet, and computer.

AIT_widgetSo, how do you enter? You enter by clicking one of those social media icons below to share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. And then leave a comment here to let me know where you shared.

Each day’s entry period runs from midnight to midnight (PST) and Random.org will chose the winners.

READY … SET … GO and good luck!

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