Posted tagged ‘goals’

On discipline and the power of love

January 9, 2013

From across the moonlit distances between the inevitability of life and the finality of death, I hear you, Ray Bradbury (may he rest in peace)… I’m not sure why I didn’t come across this video sooner, and I’m at a loss to describe how destiny works (as Bradbury was, too), but I believe in it. And in the coincidence (for me) of coming across this inspiring speech by Bradbury at the beginning of what will be a challenging year (which will include a home reno after a burst pipe resulted in a tectonic upheaval of our parquet kitchen floor….nothing like a good toe-stubbing first thing in the morning to wake all your senses….and maybe I’ll take that over the nausea of having to reno the whole kitchen, but maybe it’s not entirely up to me, and it’s just got to be done. Maybe that’s a sort of destiny in itself).

Back to writing: I believe in Bradbury’s challenge to write a short story a week, and at the end of the year, to have 52 bad ones. A much better goal than my previous idea of simply polishing up the few measly stories I’ve had on the go for the last few months, and sending them out into the great unknown. Why not write, harder, longer, stronger, and see what comes of it? I’m completely committed now. So why not push forward with even more gusto than I ever thought possible?

So here you go. For anyone out there who would sit and watch this entire thing, and be even half as inspired as I was (as much the second time as the first, since the first time I tried to watch I was interrupted about twenty-five times by two or three munchkins underfoot and in my ears and pulling at my last remaining strands of patience. But I was still completely awed, and I hope you are too).

One more writerly thing that inspired me this week was this – enjoy!


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…, 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.

Perceptions of Time

February 8, 2011

Stress has a way of turning Time into a yo-yo. It speeds up and slows down at intervals, irregular ones that leave your guts in a knot.

Going through a relocation involves a lot of “hurry up and wait,” a term I’ve rarely used since my tree planting days. In this case, hurry up and get your house ready for the market….wait for it to sell. Hurry up and decide where you want to live in the new town or city….wait for the right opportunity to make an offer on a place. Hurry up and say goodbye to your friends…wait for the pain of departure to swell before ebbing in your heart.

While all this waiting is going on, here’s what I’m doing with my time:
Writing in the mornings while my two older children are in school and the baby sleeps. Spending time with friends in the afternoons and some evenings, quality time with my family in between, engaging in long talks with my husband. We’re trying to keep our course and envision what our goals are, so that we don’t become swept away in this relocation. We don’t want to look back and realize we allowed it to be completely out of our control. We see the value in still living, enjoying our time together and with friends, even as we wait.

But there’s something about not being able to visualize any part of your own future that is more terrifying than thrilling. This time around, we are having to leave before our house sells. Before figuring out where we’re going to live when we get there.

So what am I really doing with my time? I’m FREAKING OUT. We have packers booked to come in less than a week. Great, they’ll do all the work for me, of packing my house, and I’m glad for that. But where is all our stuff going to go? Into storage. For how long? WE DON’T KNOW. So, while this would be sorta okay if it was just my husband and I, we’d have our clothes, some gear – snowboards, running shoes, bathing suits – with us. But with three kids, including a baby who is growing out of sleepers on a weekly basis, it’s a little more complicated.

So here we go, we’re planning on packing the truck (thank goodness for the pickup with hard top my husband insists on keeping in his life), and making a two week journey from Thompson, Manitoba to St. John’s Newfoundland. In February. Are you kidding me?

Nope. This is for real.

I’ve booked a few things – hotel here in town for the last night when our beds will be loaded on the moving truck. My son’s last eye appointment to find out if his prescription is still the same. Cancelled the phone. Changed our insurance to the less coverage, higher price that is a consequence of leaving a home vacant and moving away.

Where to have our mail forwarded to is another matter. I know, I know, it’ll have to be a General Delivery address in St. John’s. And I know, I know, we aren’t really going to be homeless in a destitute sort of a way, but we are going to be homeless in a practical sort of a way. And what school will my daughter be able to attend while we’re living out of suitcases in hotels until we find a rental, and wait for our house here to sell?

Ah, the suitcases. In my nightmares last night, our giant suitcase tormented me, opening it’s floppy lid and spilling out random essentials – toothbrushes, baby clothes, toddler clothes, girl clothes, man’s underwear, my pj’s, as well as flashlights, books, papers – that I scrambled to retrieve from behind a worn hotel dresser and off the dusty hotel t.v.

What I’m really doing, is giving myself a pep talk every morning so that I can turn a brave face towards my children as I clean up the cereal they’ve spilled all over the floor. Trying to forget that I woke up my whole family last night rummaging angrily in drawers and cupboards, trying to find the children’s advil and Vicks for my son, who couldn’t sleep because of a stuffed up nose, cursing the fact that I can’t find anything in my own house ever since it’s been ‘tidied’ for showings, and hating the fact that we have to live like this, displaced already before we’ve even left.

I decide every day that I can make this hard on all of us – by complaining about the fact that it’s difficult enough to stay afloat with laundry, meal planning and kids’ activities without also having to pack for a journey of undetermined length. Or easy – feel excited for the adventure of it all. I can’t change how I feel (did I mention I’m FREAKING OUT?!?!), but I am learning to have a little control over the expression of those feelings (except in the middle of the night when all I want to do is snuggle back in bed with my nightmares). I’m learning to use that great gift of Free Will we humans have, to surmount the obstacles before me, choose my own destiny, and all the rest of those magnificent terms we use to describe greatness.

Today’s pep talk: Bins, Carrie. Pack bins. Leave the unmanageable giant suitcase for the packers.

My husband called me this morning to ask how I’m doing ( a little afraid of the answer, after my rampage in the night). We have these conversations frequently these days, and they always end in….giggles (as an aside, though, I should add that it’s not all a laughing matter, and I was relieved last week after talking with some other friends who are also going through upcoming relocations, to discover we all agree that fighting with your spouse seems to be yet another side effect of the inherent stress involved).

So my husband asked how I was doing today, and I couldn’t answer him except to say: “Are we really moving to Newfoundland in February?” As soon as we’d finished laughing at and with each other over the phone, he suddenly had to go. Time sped up while I rushed to rescue the baby from a hungry belly. Time slowed down as the baby fell asleep and I began typing these words. And speeds up again as I look over at my To Do list and wonder, guts in a knot (part excitement, part fear), at our elusive future.