GETTING REAL AND SERIOUS

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Can one possibly get real on Halloween night with little ghosts, goblins and little princesses knocking on your door and yelling, Trick or treat! ?

It is October 31, the eve of NaNoWriMo.  My pencil is honed.  I am ready to write.  In fact, I do have a title for my novel, a somewhat plot and an introduction.  I wonder if I have done too much and have already disqualified myself from the contest.  No matter.  I am serious and I am going to write my novel, one page at a time.

To be real and serious, can one write a book in a month?  I am already losing sleep and energy with the pressure of writing 50,000 words in a month.  My brain is blank, my creative juices frozen and my words are nowhere in sight.  How can I write a book under these conditions?  I feel like I am lined up with my laptop along with a kazillion other writers at the starting line.  We are all waiting for someone to fire the gun.  GET READY, SET, BAM!

This part is no longer fun for me, I’m sorry to say, NaNoWriMo.  But I am grateful to you for perking my interest and getting me started.  Now, I need to get real and serious and write.  I will write every day in November – and beyond as much as I can.  But I cannot go at it at a gallop.  Sometimes I have to let things simmer and percolate.  I have to let the child in me dream up dragons and such.  I have to let the stories in me come out a page at a time.

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It might as well be a fantastic book that someone will want to read, even if it’s a friend or relative.

GATHERING MY CHI

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The stage is set.  I have a title for the novel.  There is a plot and a cover.  I have drank enough coffee and I have lost sufficient sleep the last two nights, wrestling with the project.  And my desk is certainly messy enough to start the creative juices flowing.  That is what you get when you sign up for the project with just a week to go.  Now is the time to let go of the doubts and researches on how to write a novel.  I just have to write.

The other day I took out Alex Quick”s 102 Ways to Write a Novel.  The cover said that it has indispensable tips for the writer of fiction.  It defined a novel as fiction having at least 50, 000 words.  Otherwise it would be a novella.  Well, I haven’t even ever done a novella either.  It also said that writing a novel could be an arduous task – taking months, years and even DECADES to complete!

WOW!  Not very encouraging words.  So, I’m going to have to leave conventional wisdom behind and charge forward.  How else can I write a novel otherwise?  A novel by definition is fiction.  Fiction is not truth.  Hence a novel is a bunch of lies strung together.

How hard could that be?  Well, it could be very hard for me.  I’m like George Washington.  I can’t tell a lie. I have my work cut out for me.  I am thinking with three days remaining before the kickoff for NaNoWriMo, I better clear my energy field in my work space.

I went to my special place in my mind.  I opened my heart space.  I breathed stagnant chi out.  I opened my arms to embrace my heavenly creative chi.  November Novel Writing Month, here I come!  I wonder if my nose will be like Pinocchio’s at the end of November.  I sure hope so.

AIM FOR SUCCESS

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The days are getting shorter and cooler.  It’s harder and harder getting out of bed in the morning.  There is this heaviness in my body and mind.  That is my awareness when I wake up in the morning nowadays.

I did not step out of bed till eight this morning.  But I still did better than the sun.  It did not show its face till nine!  And then it hid itself behind clouds as if saying, Oh no, not today!  I am tired.  Just can’t do it.

Mr. Sun, I know exactly how you feel.  I am feeling YICK!  I don’t feel like getting out of bed, never mind doing anything.  But part of my mind recognizes that it is the time of the hibernation season.  It is too bad that we can’t be like bears and sleep the winter away, curled up warmly in some cave.

We are not bears and we cannot hibernate.  We have to rise and shine somehow, even if only dimly.  I’m remembering that I’m suppose to write a novel in November, 50,000 words in 30 days.  Well, it’s only some 1700 words a day.  What’s the big deal?  Nobody is saying that it has to be a bestseller, or that it even have to be good.  It just have to be written.

Somehow that makes me feel better.  I’m thinking, too, that even if I can’t write 1700 words a day, I could try for a 1000.  That is the goal of this little blog – a thousand and two words a day.  So far that goal have not been reached.  But wait just a cotton picking minute!

I cannot think like that.  I am already setting myself up for failure.  Why not aim to succeed from the word get go?  I WILL not compromise or booby trap myself into failure before I have even started.  How often have I done that to myself?

Look at how far I’ve come so far.  Tenacity is in my genes.  I love words and have been told I have some talent with them.  I have two blogs to show for it.  I can work on imagination.  I just need to get my head out of linear thinking and into possibles.  I CAN.  I CAN.  I CAN.

I am the woman who can!  Alice still lives here.  Now where’s that damn rabbit hole?  I need to fall into it and come out and see what’s on the other side.

CHALLENGES AND CHALLENGES

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I register for the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge yesterday.  I’m one of those wannabe writer who thinks she has a story to tell, but just waiting for the right time to do it.  It’s been years, since high school, that I’ve had this calling. The right moment has not come and there is no book.  But now, the time has come – to do, to write.  No more just talking.

I read the fine print, accepted the terms and policies and created my account and profile.  I was pumped up.  I was up to the challenge of 50,000 words in November. …. a little over 1,ooo words a day.  I had a title, sort of a plot, and maybe even a cover.  Then I read somewhere that it has to be fiction.

Fiction!  That gave me cause to pause.  Wait a minute!

Though I am an a voracious reader of fiction, I’ve never thought of writing fiction, never told a story, never even had a fantasy.  I have never daydreamed about a perfect wedding, the white picket fence, children, etc.  It’s no wonder that I have none of those things!

But now is the time, like the walrus says (from Through the Looking Glass):    ‘To talk of many things:  Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —     Of cabbages — and kings —And why the sea is boiling hot —And whether pigs have wings.’

And why not talk of cabbages and kings, whether pigs have wings and other fanciful things?  Why not wish upon a star and ask for the moon?  Why not dream a little and dare a lot?  Why ask for a small thing and not the whole shabam?   Just think, I could have had a tea party like Alice in Wonderland instead of shared Retirement/Farewell party between 4-5 people.  Where is my pride and sense of worth?

Wait, it is not too late!  There’s still time.  I can still do many things.  I can write about cabbages and kings and whether pigs have wings.  If Mary McPhee can write books and blogs at 87 from her retirement home, there is a lot of hope for me yet.

I just did the math of 50,000 words in 30 days.  It equals something like 1700 words a day.  No matter.  I will still give it a good go.  I will do my personal best.  I have a week to relax into it.  I will call forth all the creative forces within me.  I can do it!  Or die trying. 🙂

ON RETIREMENT SO FAR

Photo on 2010-11-09 at 20.11It seems surprising to me that when so many of us look towards ‘retirement’ as an answer to everything, a lot of us are also so afraid of it.

My hairdresser thought I was too young and worried for me.  She liked being at work more than being at home.

She is not alone.  Many of us enjoy being at work more.  We cry for freedom but we also love having schedules made for us.  We know exactly what we are suppose to be doing all day long, including when we eat.  Freelancing and winging it on your own could be scary.

I was never one of those who counted down to the months, days and hours to being finally free, whatever that means.  I was never one who worry about things to do, places to go, etc.  But.  I did worry about who I was going to be and who had I been all these years.

How am I doing?  Well, I’m in my 3rd month.  I haven’t traveled the whole wide world yet.  I haven’t made a ton of new friends, not even a one, though have met some new people.  I haven’t discovered any new burning desires.  Haven’t won the lottery, or anything.  All this does make me feel somewhat of a ‘failure’ at retirement.  Somehow I feel that one should be out there burning up one’s bridges.

Oh well, I am always bigger in my own mind than I really am!  But I have been getting 8 hours of sleep almost every night.  I am enjoying the lovely autumn on our daily morning bike rides with Sheba.  I am working out my quirks.  I am enjoying life.

Isn’t the sun just lovely this morning?

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I KNEW IT WAS MY LAST DAY THERE

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The snow on the ground this morning made me think of my first time to Ghana, land of palm trees and warm beaches, being close to the equator.

Here I am, with my own chief, sitting on the balcony of our chalet, facing the ocean, creating my own photo memory.  I knew it was my last day there.

Pictures flashed through my mind – the woman in her black Benz on the red clay road, the son who thanked me and the balloon-filled sky as Nana drove towards the airport.

I remembered I was a woman of grace.  I am still.

GIVING THANKS

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I love October mornings like today.    The morning air is crisp and refreshing, the sun bright and the sky, an incredible blue.  How can one not feel thankful for Nature’s generosity?

I give thanks to the Heavens above, my arms reaching up like these bare branches. The golden leaves are floating down on my head, blessing me, surrounding me, protecting me.

And I know that everything is copacetic still….even if I am feeling some discomfort, even if I feel a slight dissatisfaction, even when I am unhappy with myself.  I sit still with the feelings of it all.  This, too, will pass.

To everything, turn, turn, turn.  There is a reason and a season for everything.  It is as it should be.  And I am thankful in this season of harvest and colours.

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TEN THOUSAND JOYS, TEN THOUSAND SORROWS

IMG_2294 I have been trying to live this Dharma life of ten thousand joys and sorrows.  Did the Buddha say that without mud, you can’t have lotus?  So that is the way with joy and sorrow.  It is the yin and the yang, love and marriage.  You can’t have one without the other.

My period of sorrow has ended.  Now I must step out of its shadow into the light.  I have acknowledged the darkness.  It is time to see the world with eyes anew.  It is time to reframe the picture before me.  I remember seeing a field of dandelions last summer.  The first impression is:  What a lot of weeds!  But when I see them as potential for medicinal tea, I see them as a hundred million miracles.

There is time for everything under Heaven.  Autumn is that time for thanksgiving, to count all our blessings.  I’m counting all the things big and small that bring me joy.  There’s at least ten thousand joys alone in the leaves of green, yellow and orange, quivering and shimmering in the morning sunlight as we rode around the park with Sheba today.  And what about the crisp morning air and the brilliant sun, opening my lungs, my eyes and heart?  Sheba alone is worth another ten thousand joys.

That guy riding with us is worth something, too.  Without him, Sheba would be at a standstill, digging her skinny little legs in, refusing to move.  But he is a beacon for her to follow.  She does not want to be left far behind.  So she trots joyfully and gallops at times, tongue hanging out.  I have to admit that he brings me joy, too.  I have discovered that I am not an island unto myself.

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What other things bring me joy?

  • The smell of bread and cinnamon buns baking.
  • Seeing a pair of blue jays feeding under my trees.
  • Having tea and conversation with my mother.
  • Having coffee and conversation with friends.
  • Blue skies.
  • Walks and bicycle rides.
  • The smell of coffee.
  • Creating on my sewing machine.
  • Writing, words, poetry.
  • Hearing Paddy Tutty in concert at a small local church.
  • Drinking wine with my housemate.
  • Watching Sheba sleep.
  • Making soup.
  • Learning.
  • Being still.

These are some of  the things that bring me joy.   What brings you joy?

PIVOTAL MOMENTS

Do you have days when you hear a song over and over in your head?  Today, I am hearing Willie Nelson’s To all the girls I’ve loved before.  I’m singing and singing it to myself over and over.  Perhaps I need to love myself again…all those fractured splinters of my being, past and present.

How did I arrive here at this particular moment?  Who am I right now?  And where was I all this time, these 63 years?  They say that life is short but I don’t think so.  In these 63 years, I have traveled from the distant shores of Asia to a small town in the province of Saskatchewan in the northern country of Canada.  I have known the time before electricity in my home village in China.  I saw the first electric light bulb, dancing nakedly from the ceiling of a hotel in Canton when I was 6.

How fast the years sped by, just like a slide show!  First, there was grade one.  I did not even speak English then.  When I had to go to the bathroom, I just got up and went.  How do you ask permission when you don’t know how?  Good thing I knew where the bathroom was.  Oh, the things that lingered on in our memories!

Here I am today at 63, sitting in the comfort of my sun room.  There is electricity.  There is running water.  There is WiFi.  There is iPhone.  There is Candy Crush Saga.  Do you know that you can give Life there?  I am tap tapping away at my keyboard, wondering about the how of all these things.

The slideshow plays again.  I am 16.  How young and dreamy-eyed I look.  And look at those earrings! They look good enough to eat.  Another slide forward and it is grade 12   graduation.  The girls are all dressed in their long gowns and white gloves.  Our hair are coiffed by hairdressers in Lloyminister, a city some 30 miles away.  We are feeling so grown up and important, not realizing that we were still very much wet behind the ears.

The years passed.  I went to university.  I dropped out of university.  I went to business college and became a secretary, much to the disappointment of my public school principal.  Then I got fired from my first job, just before Christmas.  I cried all the way as I drove home.  The shame of it.  What was I to do, if they didn’t give me work to do.   I answered the phone but how many calls are there to a broiler company?  I was bored with making coffee and getting donuts for the few employees there was.  So I sat there, smoking and blowing smoke rings.  Then, I answered the phone call….from someone for my job.  THAT’S how I knew.

But under every cloud there’s a silver lining.  I got a better job in a big office with a bigger salary.  But I got bored after a couple of years.  I got tired of being ‘cute’ and unable to advance to a higher level.  I wanted to an executive secretary, have my own office and sit in on meetings and take minutes.  Was that too much to ask?  Apparently it was.  I was just too cute and had no commanding presence.

The projector of life moves again.  The slide show stops and I am a nurse and in my late 20s, 30s, 40s…..Yikes!  Now I am in my 60s.  This leg of my journey has been long and it is done.  I have to cake to prove it.

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I have many stories to tell once I am rested up.  There are many stories in Bedpan Alley.  You can mosey over to:  http://soyoucallyourselfanurse.wordpress.com/ if you are curious.  It is just up and still in construction with just my About page.