* I’m participating in Jamie Ridler’s Wishcasting Wednesday – today’s prompt is “How do you wish to spend your days?”
One of my favourite blogs is Catching Days by Cynthia Newberry Martin. Every month she invites a writer to share how he or she spends a typical day. It is always fascinating and interesting. All of the writers put in time in front of the page or computer – it is the only way to complete a book, poem or article, and all of them struggle with various forms of procrastination. They fart around on Facebook, have an urgent need to do the ironing or wash the dishes and take the dog for multiple walks. What strikes me most about all of the writers, is just how ordinary their lives are.
When I was a girl growing up and aspiring to be a writer, my romantic notion of what it meant to be a writer oscillated between having a special writer’s room where I could work uninterrupted and have a maid to do the cooking and cleaning, or I’d live in a garret suffering beautifully while I wrote novels and poetry.
My reality is somewhere in between those two notions. I don’t live in a garret and I don’t have a maid (I wish!). The truth is, right now I’m spending my days exactly as I wished to when I was a little girl. I spend each day editing my first book, writing blog posts, writing website content or articles for clients and developing an ebook on journalling. The only thing I wish for is to make a little more money – and I have faith that it will come with more effort and a little more time.
I do wish to be a little less distracted and a little more productive each day, but as the writers featured on Cynthia Newberry Martin’s blog demonstrate, even the most successful writers struggle with that, so at least I’m in good company!
I’m inspired by…
- The blank page. It beckons, says “fill me with words, images and stories.”
- Books. The words written by those before me inspire and encourage me.
- Blogs by lovely women such as Susannah, Jennifer, Marianne, Liz, Jessica, Jess and so, so many others encourage me to share my words and images.
- The colour red, vibrant and passionate. It says, “look at me.” I have it all over my house.
- Libraries. I love the look and smell of books, especially old ones no longer in print. I love browsing the shelves and chancing upon books that don’t turn up on an Amazon recommendation list.
- Thrift stores – amidst the bric-a-brac and clutter, there are gems and treasures seeking a new life.
- Flowers – delicate and pretty, bold and colourful. Always a delight.
- Pens – I have a weakness for pens – fountain pens, colourful Japanese gel pens and markers. So many ways to leave my mark.
- Blank books – blank, squared, lined and dotted. All good. I’m not brand loyal – Moleskine, Leuchtturm 1917, Clairfontaine, Letts, Muji and Midori are all brands I gravitate towards – also the sale rack at Indigo Books and Laywine Pens and Organizers.
- Music – dance music to move to, classical to write to, folk and alternative to chill out to. All music, except country, moves and inspires me.
What are you inspired by?
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
~ Lao Tzu
I wrote this quote on the first page of my journal a couple of months ago and it has become a mantra of sorts for me. The last year or so has been about letting go of what and who I thought I was. Letting go of my grasping need for security at all costs. Letting go of work titles and the business cards that go with those titles. Letting go of being the sensible one, the responsible one – not that I am now insensible or irresponsible, but I’m trying to be more open to new ideas and new experiences. I’m trying to let more play into my life.
I remember my mom telling me that I behaved like a 30 year old when I was a teenager. Now that I’m 41 (!), how am I supposed to behave? All the rules for acting and looking your age have changed. Mick Jagger is 65 and doesn’t look anything like my grandfather did when he was 65. Why should you look like an old fart just because you turned a certain number? “Acting your age” really means stop being playful, stop living life to the fullest, buy a house in the suburbs and do what everyone else is doing.
If I listen to people around me, I should wear sensible pant suits, low heeled shoes and grow a sensible business in business communications, because that’s where all the money is (supposedly). But frankly, I don’t want to. I’ve worn the pant suits for 10 years and I’m just not interested. I worked in communications because that’s where the money was and it was – not really soul-sucking – but not my heart’s desire.
Several years ago I was having a spirited conversation with a coworker – about what I don’t remember – and I did a high kick to mark my point. Spirited, not threatening. My coworker remarked that she wished she could see that aspect of my personality come out more – spirited and punchy. I’m mostly so tightly wound that I don’t let people see the real me very often. Actually, that part of me comes out so little I barely recognize it.
So, I’m letting go of the pant suits (I sent them to Goodwill months ago) and what I have been up until now. I’m bringing on floral skirts and fun shoes and stepping into what I might be.
What are you letting go of?
Despite its imperfections -
a spine that twists
in ways it shouldn’t,
thighs just a little too fleshy,
toes that pile up on top of each other,
my body moves.
My body moves me,
up the subway stairs,
across the ice in jumps and spins,
sweeping into a yoga pose,
off the diving board,
plunging into the water.
A wheelchair is an ever present
That fate I narrowly avoided,
My body moves me away,
from possible confinement.
My body moves.
** To understand the context of this poem, please read my guest post on Kind Over Matter – Accepting my perfectly imperfect body.
ReWork – The smart guys over at 37 Signals have some cool ideas about work and business.
My first guest post for Kind Over Matter appeared yesterday. Many bloggers I admire have appeared on Kind Over Matter and I feel so honoured to have been included in such great company.
Lissa Rankin on Good Life Project. As someone who has spent time in the health care system as both a patient and as an employee, I agree with Lissa that while, there is much good about Western medicine, there is also much that is broken.
Registration for Susannah Conway’s Journal Your Life e-course opens on May 21st and I’m signing up. I’ve done all of Susannah’s other courses and loved all of them. Are you going to sign up too?
A year and a half ago I left my corporate communications job to write a book and figure out a different way to live.
I’d like to say I embraced my new found freedom and dove into my life as a freelance writer and photographer, writing feverishly on my book.
But that just wasn’t the case. I agonized over what to do and I was unclear about the path I wanted to take, or rather, I knew what path I wanted to follow but didn’t have to courage to pursue it. I sought advice and even took a traditional entrepreneurial business course.
Big mistake. I wasn’t listening to my gut, my intuition. I was committing the very same mistake that led me into communications in the first place, a career choice that didn’t really suit my personality or personal values. The advice I got was conflicting and – I realize now – more about the person giving the advice and less about what I actually needed. For example, I told people I wanted to be a freelance writer, but all I heard over and over again was how hard that was, how little money I’d make, publications and websites aren’t paying anymore, and on and on the doom and gloom went (from people who worked full-time as freelance writers!) It was as if people delighted in stomping on my dreams. Sure, making money writing isn’t easy – frankly it has never been easy – but the advice was crazy because people do make a living writing – online copywriting, corporate writing, or do the writing they want and offer e-books, e -courses, workshops, etc. It is possible.
Looking back at 2012, I realize that I was likely experiencing a bout of depression. I was in a dark, uncertain place and the fear gremlins took over.
This time last spring, I became convinced that I couldn’t pursue my dreams of writing full-time and of running my own business. I started looking for a new job with little success. It is possible that recruiters could sense through my resume and cover letter that I was applying for the job because I was scared and not because I desired the job. I applied for several dozen jobs, got five interviews and no job offers. After these rejections I began to wake up to this question “I have one, precious life . How did I really want to spend my days?”
“You have one, precious life. How did you really want to spend your days?”
Towards the end of last year, I took several brave steps towards my ultimate dream. Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I went on a four-day writing binge and finished the first draft of my book. I wrote 36,000 in four days, proving to myself beyond a doubt that I could deliver when I wanted to.
I began writing more on my blog and slowly getting more comments – all positive ones too! I landed my first guest blog post and have a second one appearing today on a blog I truly admire. These successes have emboldened me to submit to more blogs, magazines and other sites.
I also landed a couple of freelance clients and got paid to do exactly the kind of work I like to do – writing and designing websites. I’m also in the process of setting up a new website to promote my business services. These small successes have made it easier to believe that the bigger goals are attainable – publish my memoir, launch e-books and e-courses and generally make money doing what I love.
My lessons learned:
- Advice is more about the person giving it than the person receiving it. Choose who to get advice from very carefully. Feel free to ignore any advice that doesn’t feel right.
- Follow your intuition. It really is the best guide.
- The fear gremlins will launch an insurrection. Take a good hard look at how realistic those fears actually are and then decide how much risk you are willing to accept.
- Ask yourself this question “When I’m old or on my deathbed, will I regret not doing this?”
- Dreams are big and you must grow into them. Take baby steps towards that dream no matter how crazy it seems. The path will become clear as you move along it.
- The energy you put out into the world will attract like energy.
* My guest post “Accepting my perfectly imperfect body” is up on Kind Over Matter. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Today’s prompt over at 52 Photos Project is Crop It. So I opened this photo I took last summer at the Creative Joy Retreat and went to work on it. It isn’t a bad picture, but there is just too much background for such a small butterfly. I also adjusted the levels a little bit and increased the definition and sharpness.
The picture still isn’t as crisp as I’d like but it goes to show just how hard it is to focus on a fluttering butterfly! Oh, and the lavender smelled divine!
On a separate note, I’ve begun using iPhoto to organize and edit my photos. For years, I’ve been a Photoshop snob since it was the first photo editing program I learned to use. I still have Photoshop CS3 on my old MacBook Pro, but I doubt I’ll upgrade since Adobe is moving to a subscription model instead of offering individual licensing. The subscriptions will cost between $10 and $50 a month and you can download and update your software at anytime. But once the subscription runs out or is cancelled,your software will stop working. Over the years, Adobe has parted with A LOT of my money and I’m just not keen to keep giving them more. If I were using Photoshop for hours each day and making money from my photographs I’d reconsider, but right now I’m happy with the tools I have.
There are so many free and cheap photo editing apps out there. Here are a few of my favourites.
Pixlr – Provides 3 options – Editor is remarkably like Photoshop, Express is scaled back and straightforward, and Pixlr-o-matic has lots of fun filters to play with.
iPhoto – Comes preloaded on most Macs and provides an easy way to organize and edit photos.
GIMP – This is a free, open source alternative to Photoshop. I haven’t used it yet, but will consider it. If you haven’t used Photoshop before, I don’t think I’d suggest starting with GIMP as it is pretty sophisticated. (Mac and Windows, free)
Instagram – This isn’t really an editing program, but you can crop images, adjust the brightness and add lots of fun filters. Check out my photo stream! (Free for iPhone and Android)
Camera+ – Has an arrange of editing tools, filters and allows export to social media sites. ($0.99 for iPhone and iPad)
Camera Awesome – I’ve just started to play around with this app. Similar features to Camera+ and the Awesomize button is fun to play with. Provides some filters, but others you have to pay for.(iOS, Free)
Adobe Photoshop Express for IOS - This app provides better control over adjustments, such as brightness/contrast, hue/saturation, etc. Has a few filters, but most you have to pay extra for.(iPhone, Free but camera packs cost extra)
Gorillacam – This is not an editing program, but does provide quick and easy access to features such as self-timer, burst mode, anti-shake, time lapse and stop motion. Camera+ and Camera Awesome both provide similar features, but Gorillacam is quick and easy.
In the playground power pyramid
the popular one.
I was the little girl
who sneaked into the library,
finding friends amidst the books.
I was the little girl
chased onto the playground
by teachers who’d rather smoke than teach.
I was the little girl
who tiptoed on the edge of the yard,
determined to avoid
the cruel girls and bully boys.
Like the boy who thought it’d be fun
to carry me around like a sack,
until I dug my fingernails
deep into his flesh, creating crescents of blood.
I was the little girl
who fought back,
who rejected the pyramid,
who didn’t need to be
* For Sunday Scribblings prompt “popular.”
Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir edited by William Zinsser
Seriously considering lining up to watch The Great Gatsby
I’ve just discovered Lisa Hannigan. Lovely!
Possibly doing a little shopping at Target, which just arrived in Canada a little while ago. Can you believe I’ve never been to Target?