Archive for the ‘parenting’ category

What Miracle?

December 20, 2016
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Future Santa in his sleigh?

Here we go, lying to our children. Again. About a jolly, ageless man in a red suit, miraculously popping down a billion chimneys or magically passing through walls to deliver gifts to all the youngsters of the world in a single night. Then, we’re drawn along as though by some magnetic power and forced to buy! buy! buy!

Things.

Why?

To step back from the frenzy is a) to see how ridiculous it is, or, more hopefully, b) to search for the deeper meaning in this, the last month of the year…in children’s Christmas concerts at school, in the music we only listen to in December, or in the opportunities at every turn, church, grocery store, street corner, to give to those less fortunate.

I was in a shop downtown with my six-year-old buying a present for a family member. Suddenly my son looked up at me and said, “Santa isn’t real. Magic reindeer? How does that work?”

I should have patted him on the back and sighed with relief. I should have told him the truth. After all, when the tooth fairy forgot to come the other night, and there were no questions about “real” versus “fairy” I had to wonder, are my children naive? Stupid? Gullible?

One of the books I bought for my daughter this season was A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. I couldn’t resist taking a peek. In one scene, Smith’s main character has just delivered her first baby at age 18. She solicits her mother’s advice about how to give her daughter a better life than she has had. Her mother says:

“And you must tell the child the legends I told you—as my mother told them to me and her mother to her. You must tell the fairy tales of the old country. You must tell of those not of the earth who live forever in the hearts of people—fairies, elves, dwarves and such…. and you must not forget the Kris Kringle. The child must believe in him until she reaches the age of six.”

“Mother, I know there are no ghosts or fairies. I would be teaching the child foolish lies.”

Mary [her mother] spoke sharply. “You do not know whether there are not ghosts on earth or angels in heaven.”

“I know there is no Santa Claus.”

“Yet you must teach the child that these things are so.”

“Why? When I, myself, do not believe?”

“Because,” explained Mary Rommely, simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”

Instead of responding to my son’s queries in that downtown shop, I allowed him the candy cane the clerk offered. I remembered the images I had as a child of a jolly Santa hurrying through the air behind his team of reindeer.

I can still hear those bells.

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Brutal winter magic

March 29, 2014

It started with the flu and a power outage. It developed into a cold, a cough, bronchitis. Weekly storms brought winds that nearly blew me off my feet. Someone threw up. Someone else got an ear infection. Cold sweats and hot chills, and he we go with the flu again.

This winter has been less than kind to the general health of my family.

There were four PD days to manage in February, snow days and sick days from work and school. Several times I said aloud, I did not go back to work to be stuck at home with kids! Then I’d get sick again, for punishment.

Still, there’s been magic. The tooth fairy visited us with Santa Christmas Eve. I’d forgotten about this until my daughter lost her first molar last week.

The next day, after she’d stashed her four dollars, she said she had something to ask me. I didn’t know it at the time, but my body was brewing another bout of flu. So maybe I wasn’t feeling much like keeping the magic alive, which made it easier, when my daughter asked if it is, in fact, parents who leave money for teeth, to ignore the angel on my one shoulder for the devil on the other. I told her the truth. Then, when she asked about the Easter bunny, I believe I used the word ridiculous.

Now I might have the angel and devil mixed up. Because what I will never forget, despite my haze of cold sweats, is how grateful she was that I didn’t lie to her direct question. And what I hope my daughter never forgets about this conversation, was the advice I gave her to move forward with this new information: how, when you are no longer told what to believe, you are free to discover your own magic in the world.

It’s taken a certain amount of magic to get through this brutal winter. I found plenty between the covers of books. Quite literally, in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, what a cool idea! Very much an impossible love story, where real magic is almost believable against a backdrop of realism, with so much great detail. I have re-read some of my favourite authors, Jane Urquhart, Anita Rau Badami, Barbara Gowdy, Michael Ondaatje, Susan Musgrave.

Did I mention I am going to Iceland? I can hardly believe it, it seems so unreal, but I’ll be there in just over a week. My preparation for the Iceland Writers Retreat has open several doorways to new discoveries, including Sjon (I read The Blue Fox in an afternoon, and it summoned ancient storytelling methods in a modern setting, very different from anything I’ve read lately). Another book that was on my list but I got to it sooner because of this trip, was The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden (which won Canada Reads this year!). This is a very important book, one I feel like I’ve been waiting for, for a long time, for its very honest depiction of Canada’s beginnings, a story we don’t talk about often enough.

And finally, I discovered Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book. I haven’t been able to pick up another new book since putting this one down. This is the most incredible work of historical fiction I could ever imagine. This one makes me squeeze my eyes shut tight and imagine I can time travel to the places Brooks brought to life on the page, several different time periods, all drawn so clearly it makes my fingers itch to touch the dirt, the rocks, and clothing of the people there.

I’ve had at least one sick day with each of my children this winter. With my three-year-old, I made train tracks and caught up on some Kids’ CBC episodes. With my middle son, I played Uno, Monopoly, and enjoyed his favourite Disney movies. My daughter and I watched two seasons of The Dance Academy on Netflix. I’ve hardly had time to think about how stuck I was feeling last year before I found a job. Things are ticking along, just as they should.

 

 

Brain not stimulated in sweatpants

October 4, 2013

I am a master at sleeping through the night when not woken by one of my children, so it was a shock to be startled from dreams the other night. I felt around the covers the way I search for a pen on my desk, tapped my feet as I do while preparing lunches in the kitchen, and blinked, as at a computer screen in a windowless office during daylight. All of this because I wasn’t sure where I was.

I wouldn’t say it was a relief to be in bed, with hours of sleep time left before dawn. My newest routine involves being dressed and ready to leave for work as my children head to school every morning. I have a hard time calling it “work” when it doesn’t involve laundry, managing the bathroom, activity, playtime and eating schedules of three little humans. I quite enjoy this thing called work I do with other adults on weekdays. It’s a routine which will become dull with that inevitability of anything we repeat over and over, but for now, is completely refreshing.

And the world of adults is equally as entertaining as that of children. Add and subtract certain frustrations. Traffic for spilled milk. A slow-talking janitor for a whining two-year-old. The entry-level position (for which I am grateful, it’s a foot-in-the-door as I am told over and over) for bum-wiping.

Women are making all kinds of choices these days, but our one restriction will never completely disappear: that of the career-halting reality of having children. Of course, different women are managing this in various ways. For me, I have spent the last decade supporting my husband’s career and making babies. I am glad, thanks to the women a generation before me, I have the choice to access childcare, and look for a job. It’s been a year since I started to work on this plan, and it is finally a reality. I am eternally grateful I have three wonderful children to make a childcare plan for. The truth is, I have been out of the workforce for five years, and am starting from zero, once again. And yes, I want it all.

I’ll be blunt: I found being home with my children extremely isolating. I never enjoyed “playdates”. My style is more, kick the kids out the door so I could engage my brain in my writing. I have no regrets about having been home with them (and seeing all of my kids’ firsts is a gift I cherish), they are great kids, and we get compliments about them all the time, in particular, how polite they are. If me being home with our children had anything to do with their (so far) good natures, then it was worth it. But I have a brain, and it wasn’t stimulated in sweatpants.

One working mom I know once said, “Your children will be happy if you are happy.” I felt stuck at home. Now, I offer undivided attention to my children when we’re together, rather than trying to do two things at once. Of course there is still the laundry, my husband and I still have meal plans to make and barf to clean up from the kitchen floor, turns to take when someone is up in the night. And, I continue to pursue my fiction writing. But if I’ve learned anything over this last month of being back at work outside the home, it’s that we are all, barring any real health issues, capable of more. Not less. Everything and anything we do can become repetitive, and it’s the more that will break up those routines, keep us motivated, and show our children how to do so, also.

Practicalities

I spent too long fretting over how it was all going to happen, but in the end, me going back to work outside the home only made sense for us this year (even though I would have been glad to have done this a year ago), with two out of three kids in school full time. There’s enough juggling (sick days, appointments, activities to manage) without adding extra confusion to that nasty Kindergarten year, of 2.5 hrs. of school in the middle of the day. And financially, with two kids in full time daycare, one in after school, I would have been paying to work. Yuck. The balance is slightly tipped in the right direction with (only) one child in full time daycare, two in after school care.

First thing was to get our youngest into full time daycare. I decided on the one I wanted, ignored the people who said “you’ll never get in there, the wait list is years long” and called or emailed the director every day all summer until she offered me a spot.

It took another week to figure out after school care for our other two children, a couple of days of my husband picking them up early so I could get settled in my job (teamwork!). But same thing happened with that: once I decided on the program I wanted the kids in, I bugged and bugged until I got two spots.

The job? That part now seems easy compared with organizing three children. A few months ago I dug deep into my past, summoned one or two of the best references I hadn’t realized I had, and they really came through for me. I’d also been concerned about how my resume looks, seeing as I haven’t had many long-term positions. But none of that matters when you add up experience, a positive attitude, and determination to get out there.

The Motherlode of Inspiration

May 10, 2013

I’m suffering a roadblock where my due may not be coming. My due time to sleep, my due time to have two coherent thoughts back to back, uninterrupted by tiny hands and persistent munchkin voices, my due time to put on clothes that haven’t been trampled under a hoard of dirty laundry.

It’s eight am and my daughter is not dressed or finished her homework and my son is anxious to start walking to school and my two-year-old is freaking out because his cereal is soggy and he wants a cookie. I take a deep breath and pass out small glasses of orange juice and bowls of oatmeal, make sure they are all wearing clean underwear (the pants and shirts I can’t be sure of). After school my daughter comes home crying because of a fight she’s had with friends and I ask all the diplomatic questions and nod understandingly in all the right places. My son is crying on the stoop because his father, his hero, is not home from work yet and nothing mom can do is quite as magnificent as what he can do.

My next deep breath conjures an image that’s been hovering in my peripheral vision through weeks of sleepless nights with one coughing kid or another, weeks of being one pace behind a clean house or a move made on my job search. This image is one that lives in my heart even with thousands of kilometres between us, and it is of my mother.

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A pregnant me celebrating a birthday with my mom.

Mother of composure who can pass on dessert and make me believe that a morning walk is important as sunlight. Mother of compassionate determination in the face of sky-high demands of career and family and self-care. Mother of creativity when it came to birthday parties or PD days, always ready with a cardboard box — aka fort — from an appliance store, scissors and crayons, glue and scrap material. Mother of hilarity, who has this great ability to laugh at herself (she once sent me a copy of her disastrous passport photo in a letter I opened, to my great embarrassment, in front of my friends at camp. But I had to laugh  because I could imagine her chuckling to herself as she sealed the awful picture into an envelope and put it in the mail for me). Mother of a remarkable way of creating fabulous meals in a wake of charred oven mitts and broken dishes, spilled soup and sticky dribbles in the creases of the kitchen. Mother with a knack for something more laughable than a good comedy sketch in the way she never fails to screw up the punchline of a joke. Mother of maturity and insight who could pinpoint the appropriate lessons and events by which I have marked out some fabulous courses for my life — summer jobs where I was able to work outdoors, encouragement to not just talk about writing but to call myself a writer, and so many other practical ideas she sought out to place in my lap. Mother of energy and unconditional love, unafraid to be wrong (but really, always right), to get angry or express joy, who taught me to fight my own battles and for God’s sake pick up after myself (that one didn’t really stick, sorry mom), and to go after whatever it is will make me most happy.

During the daily grind of rearing children I find it tough to imagine what will make me happy but that, like my mother in my life, is always there, even if it is pushed to peripheral places where it mixes like watercolours on the canvas of my existence. Thoughts of how best to proceed day to day blend with images of my own mother looking when I wanted to show her a dance step or a story I’d written, answering whenever I call her seeking advice, encouraging me to study or practise or move a little faster in the mornings while getting herself ready for another day at a job she loved.

I’ve had a lot of great role models in my life but my mom tops them all, and here’s how: because when I’m not feeling up to the struggle to shove pudgy round feet into square shoes, or to arm wrestle carseat straps, to clean another poopy bum, deal with midnight barf-a-thons or the confusing new math homework, and I’ve yelled at my kids not because they are awful children but because I’m tired and I’ve lost my patience, I think about all the wonderful things my mom manages alongside her roles as mother, daughter, wife and friend. This business of motherhood is not, even with well behaved, perfect children like my mom had and like I have, an easy job. So far, the only place I’ve got my mom beat is having three children to her two. But I know that when one career wasn’t satisfying, my mom worked hard, taking courses or networking to find another. And when that challenge was old hat to her, she strove for more. Always while remaining an available, approachable, and loving mother. She is my light at the end of a sometimes murky tunnel.

As I was writing this my two-year-old got out of bed, whining and wanting me to come upstairs and I said no, go back to bed, but I asked for one more hug and kiss from him. He refused. I put on a pouty face and he said, Don’t cry, so I pretended to cry and he ran into my arms with a smile and gave me a big hug and kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, all over my face the way I do to him, the way my mom did to me, and when he walked away he said, Don’t cry, and I somehow maintained my composure.

I have many wonderful female role models in my life. My very own fit and healthy ball of energy, humour, intelligence and wisdom who is a superstar of a mother, truly. Lovely aunts and a mother-in-law and sisters-in-law I admire and can confide in. I had two amazing and loving grandmothers. I have had terrific female bosses, also mothers, and only the best women friends with little ducklings in tow. My mom introduced me to the battle we as a gender have been waging, to be able to fulfill our dreams that extend outside of our work in the home while answering the very natural pull toward motherhood. Her actions as a working mom have been a lesson to me in how to go after what I want, while celebrating my femininity and my capacity as a mother. I adore time spent with my mom shopping or hiking or getting lost on a road trip and finding our way into a quaint cafe. I cherish the unending talks my mom and I are capable of, which drive the men in our family out of doors to swat flies in reverential silence. I celebrate the fact that, thanks to my mom and other women like her (although no other is quite like her), where we are is a place of true partnership between the sexes, if not complete equality. I know women like my mom worked hard to get us here.

Another thing my mother taught me is to be myself. And this self, as a mother, is something I can only be as a woman, full of both self-doubt and confidence, creativity, ambition and hope. I embrace this part with love, laughter, thoughtfulness, and never without compassion. Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss and kiss, to you, my beautiful fellow moms but most of all, to the brilliant shining star who is my very own and much beloved, mother.

The Clarity of Moments

December 31, 2012

IMG_4268Does it seem that the lessons get tougher even as the years, the accumulation of them as individual stretches of twelve-month periods, feel shorter?

I started this conversation then got horrendously distracted. Pre-menstrual and parent-weary. A bit anxious about getting any writing done while trying to get the house ready for a party tonight. But that’s not what I meant to say.

I meant to say how pleased I am with the piles of books we as a family collected this Christmas. I meant to discuss what I’m reading, Aritha van Herk, an author I identify with because of her daring female protagonists and especially their time spent in northern landscapes, their search for that place called Home.

I’m also reading Ted Solotaroff’s book of essays. He offers advice to writers just starting out that will give me a pep talk whenever I need it in the coming year. To keep going. Keep writing my way toward the goal of being a weaver of words into thought-provoking stories. My goal of clarity (also the goal of each individual moment), a burning desire that shines between the lines of well-chosen words. In fiction I can be a product of all that I am and all that I’ve come from and seen and done and felt. In fiction, I can take control of these things.

TS, in one of his essays, discusses how the novel can come across as self-conscious compared with the immediacy and honesty of the oral tradition. I worry about this in my own writing, of a self-consciousness rather than an authorial confidence. There was a writer I “met” online when I did my first NaNoWriMo. I adored the subject of her first novel, her characters and her story. But “self-conscious” was exactly how the writing felt to me. Like it had been over-edited, cut down to too few words because publishers will only print a limited number of pages for a first-time author. This writer, Sarah Dooley is her name, her blog has such an intimate and draw-you-in kind of a tone that seemed lacking in her first book. I’ve bought (for my daughter, but I might get to it first) Sarah’s next book, a YA novel titled Body of Water. I believe in her capacity to grow as a writer. To shed some of that self-consciousness, and let the more relaxed voice of her blog seep into her fiction. I can only hope to trip over my own feet a number of times, learn these tough lessons, and to keep trying until a piece of writing feels “right.” To Fail Better as Zadie Smith wrote.

I’m often anxious, like many of us, about where technology is taking us. But as I’ve seen with Sarah’s writing, perhaps blogging is the true continuation of an age-old tradition of oral storytelling that has otherwise been mostly lost in the world. I am terrified of the things we all know are heading for “lost” in the world, but maybe this is one instance where lost can actually be found.

Gifts for our children. This was what I really wanted to write about on this last day of 2012. I’ve thought a lot lately about the truest and best gifts I could possibly pass along to my children. Besides love, nutrition, discipline and shelter. As important as all of these, I think, is the gift of words. I’ve got three small heads in my household (and two larger ones) that bow to books several times a day. As well, all five of us have been getting our heads (and hearts, I hope) to church some Sundays this year, a place where this love of words is continued in the form of the oldest method of storytelling, that is, words passed along orally.

This gift of words is one I can see the affects of hour by hour, season by season. My children are capable of sitting quietly between outbursts of rowdy play. Sitting with a book is when they recharge their batteries. They can recite certain lines from books we’ve read together and stories we’ve heard at church, talk about them, laugh about them. From who sitting my chair? our two-year-old growls at Goldilocks, and the historical facts our five-year-old is learning about in a children’s chapter book about Christopher Columbus, to What is synchronicity? our eight-year-old daughter is exploring in the chapter books she devours at a pace of one every other day. The fact that words can lead to discussions we share together, this is the tie that binds all the other important gifts, from love to shelter. Words. Most important, every day of the year.

One of the things I am most proud of at the end of 2012, and what I will take into the new year as my central focus? The fact I can’t count the number of times each day I hear, “Read this, mummy! Read this!”

Pity Parties and Perfect Paragraphs

December 16, 2012

I have a new favourite paragraph. I’ve read it over and over and over again today, check it out (from Zadie Smith’s latest novel, NW, this is the opening of Chapter 14):

A great hill straddles NW, rising in Hampstead, West Hampstead, Kilburn, Willesden, Brondesbury, Cricklewood. It is no stranger to the world of letters. The Woman in White walks up one side to meet the highwayman Jack Sheppard on the other. Sometimes Dickens himself comes this far west and north for a pint or to bury someone. Look, there, on the library carpet between Science Fiction and Local History: a knotted condom filled with sperm. Once this was all farm and field, with country villas nodding at each other along the ridge of this hill. Train stations have replaced them, at half-mile intervals.

This paragraph has everything, at least, everything I seem to be looking for at the moment. The camera casts a wide glance over an area of London, England. It zooms in for a look at a particular place in a library. It has a dreamlike quality with the mention of infamous characters from literature and history (Wilkie Collins! I’d forgotten about Wilkie Collins, I’ve only read The Moonstone back in lit class, but I remember it well…..now here’s Collins’ Woman in White meeting up with a criminal, I love it), and its scope is both historical and current with those last two sentences, which I absolutely adore.

Sigh. I’m not jealous of this perfect paragraph, I think that’s the silliest thing in the world, to be jealous of another writer’s words. I know I have a sense of language. Of the rhythm and music created by words when they are put together in a certain way. I know that there are as many different ways to do this as there are writers, both past and present. No two writers will ever put the same words or ideas together in the same ways. Like snowflakes, we writers are. Like each individual human, past and present, and oh, alright, future as well. I’m only anxious to get around to creating my own ideal sentences. Perfect, ideal, these are not the right words. Striking, maybe? Memorable. Lasting.

I just need more time to work on this glorious, heartbreaking, obsessive craft of writing. And it’ll come. The few scattered hours a day of writing I get in now isn’t enough, but it’s worth it to push on through, keep going. On through snowstorms (it’s about time the snow arrived, and I hope it lasts through Christmas), through illness, through all of the life that can’t be separated from work and writing…..

Oh illness. Our youngest had croup recently. Croup is one of those things I’d heard of, but which taught me, again, how you never really, truly know a thing until you experience it yourself. In this case: how it will keep you up all night (your child coughing, gasping for air). How the cough will linger throughout the day, make the whole family miserable. How you will end up in and out of the doctor’s office and the hospital for a week straight.

The first night he was sick, when we didn’t realize it was croup (which is really just a cold virus, but in small children, their trachea swells making it difficult for them to breath, and they will make a sound like a seal when they cough, and it is agony to listen to), I’d get up when I heard him cry, put his head back on the pillow, cover him with the blanket. Then I’d lay down in my own bed, sure that he was drowning.

He wasn’t. He didn’t.

But then I got so sad over the fact that we are all alone out here on the Rock, without our families, the grandparents who would, if they lived close by, come over for even an hour or two during the day to be with the other two kids while I took the youngest to the doctor. I felt sorry for myself over the fact that I’d been in and out of the house all week, arms loaded with sick child, diaper bag of snacks and water and toys to keep the kids occupied in waiting rooms. All the while looking longingly over my shoulder at my neglected writing.

My own cough made me weak. Sent me into a two-day pity-party. Catching the baby’s cold was inevitable, being covered in his coughs and sneezes around the clock. By the end of the worst day I was exhausted, and had to make the clear, conscious decision that the next day would be different.

My husband filled in the role the grandparents would have taken on had they been here, leaving work to pick up the kids from school. We pulled together as a team, and made it through the croup and our own bad colds. I put aside my writing for those few terrible days, and turned to reading which, for a writer, is sometimes equally as productive. With cold, without the bad attitude. Pity party over. Simple as that, really. I mean, none of this was tragic. But during those few days I felt th pull that sometimes happens when you think only dark, sad thoughts. The sideways lean that sometimes has me reaching for the liquor cabinet….hand slap. Deep breath. Don’t make a bad situation worse.

And then the skies open up (and snow like crazy) and this amazing paragraph appears and brightens everything. So I’ll read it one more time, then get outside to play in the snow with my family.

Epic Journeys

April 23, 2012

I have a note above my writing desk at the moment that says: stories I grew up with were about love and survival, tragedy and death, and always, always REBIRTH. I put this note there, next to a few pictures of my kids, to remind me of something I’m working towards.

It may seem obvious, we’re all working towards goals, aren’t we? But we can loose our momentum, stumble along the way. We’re human, and stumbling is as much a part of our nature as dreaming. Hitting low points can make us tender, extra sensitive to the bruises we’ll encounter. But that only makes the highs all the more sweeter.

The weather here on the Rock is often a struggle to deal with, the damp that offers so few breaks from snow and fog (two and a half days in a row last week of sunshine that melted what we hope is the last of the snow, then an entire weekend of sun actually left me feeling a bit breathless, it’s so rare to see that much light here!). So we do the best we can. My husband and I joined the Family Y, and we’ve been using the heck out of it, mostly in the way it’s designed to be used: as a family. It’s great, we walk there a few evenings each week, put the kids in the “baby room” as our older two call it, then hubby and I can go work out together, which I don’t think we’ve ever done before in a gym. He found out the other night there was a kickboxing class about to begin, so we thought we’d check it out. By the end I was laughing deliriously, it was so challenging! And super fun.

We’ve also been out of town together a few times in the last couple months — Cuba, just he and I, which was, wow, so sweet. The kids did great with my parents for the week we were gone, and I found the right balance between missing them, and…..um, actually, I didn’t miss them, it was so great to get away for a week, but excruciatingly lovely to squeeze them again when we returned. Then, my hubby took one more entire week off (pure bliss to have him for a stay-cation!) and we went out of town for two nights, to Terra Nova Park. We stayed in a cabin, but did a soggy hike one day, half of which was in knee-deep snow. It felt great to get out there with the kids, to be somewhere alone, just us, in the trees, listening to the birds, and to see our 7 and 5-year-old live up to the challenge of having to walk in the couple kilometres on the road, since it was still closed for the season, then do the 3 km hike around the lake and all the way back up the road to the truck. We were super proud of them. It was like an initiation  that they all three passed (the baby was in the backpack for most of it, but we let him down to scuttle the last hundred metres or so in the pouring rain). That day was my birthday, and on the hike, our five-year-old lost his first tooth! The motivation to have his first visit from the tooth fairy probably helped his little legs to keep moving through all that heavy snow.

In keeping with some of the things I’ve promised myself (and my mother!) to do this year, I also applied for a job recently (which was already filled by the time I made my follow-up call, but still, it felt good to stretch those job-searching muscles again, to see on paper, ie, my resume, all the things I’m still proud of). I have, as I set out to do in my resolutions for 2012, been writing more, more and more, and reading as much as possible, too.

During my latest visit to the library, in search of a book to get lost in, I discovered something I didn’t think I was looking for at all. I’d thought about finding something in the fantasy genre, something otherwordly, completely fantastical and full of action. Instead, I was drawn to a non-fiction book I can hardly put down (The Golden Thread, a reader’s journey through the great books, by Bruce Meyer), one that has given me the boost I needed to get back to work on the novel I’m determined to have a complete first draft of by the end of this year (not so amazing, really, since I’ve had it in the works for more than a decade now, in one form or another). See, this book got me thinking about all the classic epic journeys that take place in all my favourite books, from childhood to now….and beyond.

Meyer has reminded me of what I enjoyed in Tolkein, Lewis Carroll and C.S. Lewis, Milton, Homer, and so many more writers. That the classics follow a standard set in the Bible, that ideas and words should reach into our imaginations and grasp hold of something vital in the human spirit. What I’m working towards is a story of hope, survival and rebirth. I don’t stop to think about whether or not my own epic journey will make it to publication. I do stop to relish the support and the enjoyment of creation along the way. My husband made my birthday cake into the shape of a book, with it’s title, and By Carrie, written on it. It was like a tangible endorsement for me to keep going, even when writing is nothing but a hobby for me at the moment, even when I sometimes find it hard to justify working at something that has no monetary value. But hey, I have to keep believing, it’s not about the destination. Life is in the journey.