Wherever the Road Takes Me

Rainbow

She was one of those ever-so-rare kind of people.

She never believed the success and accomplishments of others would take away from her own.

She gave her expertise generously and offered her support freely. 

She was one of the greatest mentors I've ever had. 

And when I lost her, I didn't know where to go.

I haven't been able to write the way I want to, or take the chances I hoped I would. 

I feel like she was helping me become that kind of writer, and it can't happen without her.  

Then I was invited to fly to the east coast and insert myself into a small group of talented writers, photographers, and musicians—where surely my shortcomings would be put on display—and I didn't think I could go. 

Heartache made my feet heavy and fear told me to stand still.

Until her words came back and grabbed me by the hand, 

I'm always surprised when I offer to read someone's work and they don't send it;

I wish more people believed in themselves.

And I felt her pull me towards the person offering me a place to go.

An ever-so-rare kind of person

Generous and supportive.

Hopeful that I'll accept her invitation to believe in myself. 

And I'm scared that it won't work, and I'm scared that it will. 

I'll walk to the ocean tomorrow and throw my tears into the waves, while I let myself imagine the writer I might become without her.

And then I'll find my words in their hiding place and throw them into the clouds, where I know she'll be there to catch them.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Stealing Time

Swinginglegs

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We always put music on when we’re in the kitchen. And I’m standing at the stove singing along to a song, when I catch a flash of movement from my youngest child, who’s having breakfast at the table.

She’s still in her pajamas, because our mornings together are slow. Everyone else has left for work and school. She’s swinging her legs in time to the music, and I realize she has the only pair of feet in our family that can’t reach the floor. 

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I've been thinking about time a lot lately. And often, resentment will ride in on those thoughts. I feel resentment about the weight I gave to time and how much of myself I gave away to counting it and wishing it would pick up its pace. Those were the early days of motherhood for me—when I wore time like a heavy coat that was two sizes too big.

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I knew it wasn’t the way I was supposed to feel. But first time motherhood was hard. Convincing myself I could make it to the next stage was hard. Enjoying my baby was hard.

When they put her into my arms for the first time, I felt like I had been thrown overboard, and I spent those early months flailing as though I had forgotten how to swim. I used all my energy to swim against the current, because I was convinced it would take me to the shore—where I would find solid ground to stand on.

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And now so much further into my mothering, with experience and loss behind me, I resent time for how light and careless it seems. Like a balloon that's been let go on a windy day, I'm always on my toes reaching for it and trying to bring it back to me. To hold onto it more tightly. To hold onto the people who I want to share it with more tightly. 

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I’m so glad those feet can’t reach the floor. As I stand and watch them swing, I can hardly remember the version of myself that was convinced what was coming would be better than what was already there.

I’m not needed in the same ways these days. I’m still caring for my children, of course, but I spend a lot more time as a spectator than as a participant in their day-to-day lives. I am finally standing on that shore. And they are swimming towards their own horizons without me.

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These are passages from an essay I submitted to an anthology of stories by mothers for mothers, recently published by my talented colleagues Shannon Day-Cheung and Tara Wilson at Tipsy Squirrel Press. My story appears along with many other heartwarming and hilarious essays about motherhood, written by a collection of mothers asked to reflect on moments from their own journeys.

I was honoured to be asked and glad to be able to lend my voice, because I know the value of being part of a greater story. We are all writing our own chapters, after all. We can celebrate our differences and our sameness and read one another's chapters and take from them what we need. 

Martinis & Motherhood is now available on Amazon (Canada, US, UK) and on Kindle

And I'm giving a copy away to one of my lucky readers (Canadian, US, or UK only please). 

Enter below before July 31, 2015 to win!

xo

 

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What Makes A Community?

blogging-community

We were driving through a part of town we hadn't been to in awhile. 

My eyes scanned the road ahead and landed on the building site of a new neighbourhood of homes.

As usual, I felt myself bristle at the thought of more houses crowding our community.

Oh Mama...lookshe said from the back seat, some builders are making houses so new families can have a home. They will be so happy.

And there it was; the clarity that life experiences and cynicism and even entitlement (if I'm being really honest) have blurred.

Her four-year-old heart sees every person, every family, every home as a part of her community.

And her belief that every person belongs is so beautiful and pure that I can't find the right words to tell you what it made me feel.

I was humbled and lifted by how much her viewpoint differed from mine.

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A few days later, I walked into a community where I felt like I had a home.

And I remembered her words, because there was a time when I hadn't felt like I belonged

What space was there for me, I had wondered, in these established communities?

How would I ever be able to build a home in this space?

In a town where there were so many talented writers, bloggers, and storytellers, with well-established roots and good relationships with their neighbours, I felt like a house without an address. 

At least that's what I told myself, until I learned that I was wrong. 

Until I was welcomed again and again.

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Every year, I return from Blissdom with ideas and motivation and inspiration. 

And I am reminded that I am part of a community where every person belongs.

Where anyone can build a home.

I am brave enough now to knock on my neighbour's door, to hope they'll invite me inside, to imagine we'll get to know one another. 

And I thank everyone of you who has opened their door for me.

You have humbled and lifted me, too. 

I hope we can continue to grow this community and hold onto the vision my daughter has when she sees the world. I hope we can lift each other up.

To get started, take a moment to read about my friend Alex's post-Blissdom project

I can't think of a better place to bring people together than at a potluck of joy. 

See you there, neighbour. 

xo

 

 

 

 

 

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My Top 10 Books (so far...)

Diviners

{Photo credit: Goodreads}

If you're going to ask a person to create a list of their dearest friends, there has to be enough space to talk about each one and to share how they influenced and impacted your life. 

I was terribly shy as a child and a good book was often a good friend. I still end each day with a few chapters. Reading is like oxygen for me. 

So when I was tagged (a few times) in the Facebook 10 Most Influential Books meme, I had to sit on it for a couple of weeks. I left a piece of paper on my desk and started jotting down titles when they came to me. 

Let me tell you, there are far more than 10 books on that page. 

I was the kid who got in trouble for reading at the table, who spent hours in my room on a sunny Saturday reading a book, who looked forward to wandering the aisles at the library.

I have always been the kind of reader that feels the story and becomes intimately connected to the characters in a well-written book. And many of them have stayed with me long after I read the last page.

Here they are:

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: My grade two teacher read this book to us in class, and I felt such a wave of empathy and connection to that tree. It was one of the first books I added to my children's collection, and I hope it will stay with them too.

The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson: I was intrigued by the unexpected friendship in this story and the hope it gave me for my own awkward social skills. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor and sobbing for the characters. It was the first time I realized a book could touch you enough to make you cry. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: This book was so well written and its story so well told that I felt like I was in it. I fell in love with its characters and Twain's ability to take me somewhere I had never been.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller: We read this play in grade 10 and I loved it more than all the Shakespeare I had ever/would ever read. I felt for Willy the way I did for the Giving Tree. I went back and read it again and again.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding: Most of my high school years were very uncomfortable. I was fascinated by the dynamics of an uncivilized group of children and the wrath they could unfurl upon one another. At that time in my life, it felt very relatable. 

The Diviners by Margaret Laurence: I wrote an independent study on this novel for my grade 12 English class and the teacher held me back after class and told me she was giving to fail me unless I confessed to where I had found the "cheat notes" for the book (since she wasn't aware any existed). The words and ideas were all mine (no internet back then, folks)—that's how much Laurence inspired me. I bought all of her novels with my part-time job money and finished them by the end of that summer. Laurence also led me to Carol Shields and Alice Munro (whose writing has also influenced me greatly). 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera: This book was given to me by a friend with whom I shared complicated feelings. So before reading it, there was already a weight of emotion attached to it. But Kundera's writing made me feel like I was reading the words to a love song or sonnet. This novel is a beautiful unveiling of the complexities of the human experience. 

The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis: This book was also a gift from a friend, who thought I would appreciate the writing. I did, indeed. Much like Death of a Salesman, Amis is brilliant in his portrayal of the underdog (who I've always had a thing for). I loved every single page.

 

Snowflower 

{Photo credit: Goodreads}

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See: I picked this book up from a display. I liked the cover, I liked that it was written about China. It has since become a treasured part of my library. Written about the friendship between two girls, who are one another's "old sames", it spoke directly to my heart and connected me to my own history

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: I read this series (at the speed of light) before becoming a parent and it reignited my childhood imagination in the most wonderful way. This series—with all its magic—was a sneak peek of how wonderful it would be to share books with my children and watch their imaginations light up. My oldest daughter has read the series over 20 times and really felt a connection to its characters.  

What about you? Which books have you been inspired by so far (because we know there are so many more waiting to be read). I'd love to hear about them.

For my favourite children's books, you can read my post here.  

 

 

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