I am feeling discouraged this morning.  The weight I had lost in the winter have all come back – with no help from me, of course!  I feel them heavily, sinking my spirit to the ground. They sit on my hips, pushing and keeping me down.  I sigh and sip my sweet Chai.

Oh life, why must you try me so hard?  When I’m up, you bring me down.  You even blotted out the sun this morning.  There’s a brisk breeze blowing through the trees.  My purple petunias are bravely nodding their heads.  They have seen better days.  Their season is over.  It’s time to put them to sleep.  I can see today is one of those days.

My head is like a jukebox sometimes.  A thought or feeling is like a coin in a slot, triggering a song.  The Byrds are now singing Turn, Turn, Turn.  There is time for every purpose under heaven.  Perhaps, it is signalling me to relax and let go of the uncontrollable.

Image from google.ca
Image from google.ca

I’m having a second cup of Chai, sans the honey and milk.  That much control I have at this moment.  I can’t speak for later.  Sometimes I think the food manufacturers slip things into the food to get us hook.  Why else do we have these cravings?  The grey is making me a bit paranoid besides wanting to hibernate and add to my adipose layer.  Damn it!  I’m not letting that happen – much.

I’m in danger of running out of words, ideas and inspiration.  I better save them for the Alice in my wonderland.  I have, howerver, roused myself from the doldrum of lethargy and taken a run at the day as best I could. That’s all one could ask of oneself.

IMG_6881I’ve gotten up, dressed up and shown up.  The bed is made, breakfast over and dishes are done.  I’ve made a small batch of sunberry sauce.  The aroma of sweetness, ginger and lemon spices the air.  Sheba and I have walked, talked and barked at people and dogs.  My little furry white neighbour is gazing at me intently through the window.  I can feel his eyes boring into my back.  He brings a smile to my face as I am tap, tapping away here.

Sheba saunters into the room.  Looking up and out the window, she sees her teaser.  She rears up on her hind legs and barks at him ferociously.  He looks back, nonchalantly as to say, Who, me?  What did I do?  And so it goes.  Every dog has its day, too.

How are you doing on this fine day?  Want to share?




I take my first sip of tea.  Sheba barks at a passerby.  It’s Monday.  It’s a cool 3 degrees Celsius sunlit morning.  Gold and orange leaves drift down my elm trees and roll across the sidewalk.  I think of the song The Autumn Leaves.  I am feeling mellow and relaxed, none of yesterday’s angst.

I have to ask myself of yesterday, Was that true?  Or did I let myself get roller coasted by the false feeling of the moment?  I have to be more conscious and question myself the next time it happens.  In the throes of my angst, I feel such self-loathing, mean spirited and anger.  Is that who I am.  What if it isn’t true?

This morning I consciously choose to turn it around.  It isn’t true.  What would I be without those thoughts about myself?  I am not that person. That is when the sun came out and opened the door to my heart.  I feel such relief.  Thanks be to Byron Katie and her teachings!

alice-little-doorI can tell another story for I am THE writer of my life.  I have the control of the keyboard and the words.  The page is clean, ready for me.  What WILL Alice do today?  Will she swim out of her puddle of tears?  Will she follow the white rabbit or will she choose a path of her own?  Will she continue to shrink and grow, shrink and grow haphazardly?  Or will she put her foot down and say NO MORE ?  I will be am who I am.  I am Alice of the normal size.

Can you tell I have a fascination with Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll?  How can I not be? The charming nonsensical story brings a smile to my face.  Just imagine yourself in a doll house, with one leg up the chimney and an arm out the window.  Picture a gathering of animals outside underneath the window.  The are trying to mount a ladder against the wall to reach the arm and yank Alice out of the house.  See what I mean?  Are your lips quivering with mirth?

Life need not be so serious and high voltage all the time.  You can easily burn yourself up rah, rah-ing.  Just watch this video.

Tight dresses and stiletto heels can be hazardous to your health.  You can trip and fall.  I hate even imagining the how of the fall and where those earrings would catch.  Not that I am knocking Lisa Nichols.  Life coaches and motivational speakers have important roles. Sometimes we need a rah or two to push us off our butts.  I admire people like her and Tony Robbins.  They have such electric personalities.  They can get you moving, but will you be able to sustain it after the show is over?

I go for the slow motion of tumbling down Alice’s rabbit hole.  It’s a needed rest from my seriousness.  What is slow and fast can be deceiving.  Sometimes I am faster than I think. I have a friend who signs off with “Don’t move faster than your Guardian Angel can fly” after every email.  It’s good advice.

I like to say in the words of Gracie Heavy Hand from the Dead Dog Cafe :

“Stay calm.  Be brave.  Watch for the sign.”






photoSome days any thing and every thing irritates and pisses me off.  I think today is one of those days.  It is as if I’ve forgotten to put on my wine tinted glasses.  I feel like snarling at the world.  Oh yea, I keep it to myself, that is up to now.  But then this is really about me – a monolgue between me, myself and I.

So don’t take it personally or seriously.  After all, it is just a mood.  It will pass.   Meanwhile, I might as well use it to fuel myself into action.  I feel as if I need a stick of dynamite to get me going.  This feeling of inertia can fool me sometimes. It plays jokes on me frequently.   Even though I feel like a puddle of jello, I haven’t really been sitting on my ass and picking my nose.

I have been moving, however slow I may feel.  I have 6 jars of spaghetti sauce to show for it.  A load of towels have been through the washing machine.   Sheba has been around a block or two, then brushed and defurred somewhat and the floors vacuumed of her sheddings.  It has taken me all day to do it.  Not that I am exhausted or anything, BUT…

horse race
image from google.ca

Wish I could be more efficient.  Wish I could be more exuberant.  Wish I do not have these episodes of puddledom.  If wishes were horses, where would I be?  I would be riding on the winds of elation, clearing hurdle after hurdle.  I would be riding to win the Freakness.  I would be riding to freedom.

I’m almost there now.  It is almost within my grasp.  My horse is kicking up the dust.  I am standing up in the stirrups.  The wind is whistling in my ears.  The crowd is but a blur but I can hear them cheering me on.


If wishes were horses, I could do a lot of things – like ride to the moon and play among the stars. Doesn’t that sound just lovely?  Though wishes are not horses, I am over the finish line.  I am riding the ride, chanting the I CAN, I CAN rant.  Rah, rah, rah!  My fingers are flying across the keyboard, tapping out the letters, the words, and the story.

OK, life, what the hell do you want from me?  Get off my back.  I am living and writing as best as I can.  Your mountains are pretty steep and your valleys get so low.  I am tiring of singing “Aint no mountain high enough”.  I’m no Diana Ross.  I’m calling you.  I could use some help – a break or two.  I won’t hold my breath.  While I’m waiting, I’ll carry on as best I am able.





Image from wikipedia.org

Some mornings I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, waking up to the same morning day in and day out.  The unchanging greyness frightens me in the first moment of wakefulness.  Have you ever experienced that?

The thing not to do is to dawdle in bed, but I do.  The greyness holds me there.  I am unwilling to touch the cold floor of reality and face the day.  I’ve been here before many times.  I know that the moment my feet hit the ground, the feeling will dissipate.  No, it does not magically evaporate.  I have to assist its departure.  How?

Getting out of bed is the first hurtle.  The rest follows:  I get up, dress up and show up at my desk.  I put one letter, one word….any letter, any word and start.  Things happen when you move.  That is the law of life.  It is not rocket science, as they say.  Don’t you just hate cliches?  I’m past the hurtles and I am sitting here, tap, tapping out the words.  I hope for magic today. I want to feel the words tumbling off my fingertips like water rippling over the rocks in the river.  The sound of the keyboard is music to my ears.  I see the stream of words floating gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily life is but a dream.

IMG_1089I’m rowing my own boat, steering, pushing it towards my  destination.  You have to have a little bit of oomph to get over rough spots. The weather changes and the water can get rough.  A life jacket is a must.  A rope or two can be useful.  You can never tell.  It’s best to have some tools on hand.

The weather has changed.  The sky is steely grey.  I feel the ghost tiptoeing on my grave. It is alright.  I am well acquainted with him. He cannot hurt me.  I breathe and drop the other shoe.  There are no explosions of catastrophe.  The quietness of a Saturday morning presides.

I am safe in my home, in my own skin.  I am the captain of my spirit.  I get to change the direction in which I travel.  The sky is grey.  Autumn leaves of orange and gold are floating past my window.  They are whispering and teasing me with their graceful dancing movements.

“Come with us.  Come with us”.

Image from google.ca
Image from google.ca

Perhaps today would be a good day to explore – to travel down Alice’s rabbit hole.  Would I find her Wonderland?

I stepped inside the book yesterday just for 15 minutes.  I fell down the tunnel with Alice and landed on top of a bundle of twigs and leaves.  We chased after the white rabbit and came to a hall full of locked doors.

We found a magic key that opened a door. We still could not get in, of course.  It’s not that simple.  If it was, that would be the end of the story.  There would be no Alice in Wonderland.  Life is like that too.  It has many corridors with many locked doors, all posessing different codes.  You need the right combination to unlock each.

I had to leave Alice swimming in the puddle of her tears, wondering how she was going to get into that Wonderland.  I will find another 15 minutes to be with her today.  It is an intriguing story.  It has grabbed the child in me.  That’s what good stories do.  I’m learning the process.



It is so easy to be distracted from your purpose!  I’m browsing through my Facebook page this morning, looking for any excuse not to write.  It is not a conscious decision, but I feel it gnawing at me – delay, delay!  Something is screaming at me inside.

Silcoff_home_aNot all procrastination is wasteful.  I did come across an inspiring post on Canada Writes.  It is about a woman, Mireille Silcoff who has a chronic disease and was confined to a period of bed rest.  She wrote her first book of fiction in bed in 15 minute spurts. It’s reminder to me that Rome was not built in a day, nor the Taj Mahal, or the pyramids of Egypt. Patience, woman, patience, I tell myself.

image from newyorktimes.com
image from newyorktimes.com

I was reading my emails on my iPhone in bed this morning.  A terrible habit, I know.  But I love warm luxury of those short or not so short moments before the day starts.  A friend had sent a story of a woman who walked 10,000 miles in three years.  The story of Sarah Marquis’s journey and a bit on Robert Falcott Scott’s expedition to the South Pole grabbed my attention.  It is something I would love am trying to do.  I don’t mean doing a trek or expedition.  I mean I am on the arduous task of completing a goal – writing a book.

Perhaps I shouldn’t use words like ‘arduous’.  It might discourage me.  Here’s the definition of arduous according to Webster’s online dictionary:

Full Definition of ARDUOUS

a :  hard to accomplish or achieve :  difficult <years ofarduous training>

b :  marked by great labor or effort :  strenuous <a life ofarduous toil — A. C. Cole>

:  hard to climb :  steep <an arduous path>
ar·du·ous·ly adverb
ar·du·ous·ness noun

Scary stuff, Huh?  Years of arduous training, marked by great labor or effort!  I have no doubt that Sarah Marquis and Robert Scott worked and trained hard.  There’s results to show for their efforts.  Am I cut of the same mettle?

I’ve been easily scared off, influenced and distracted off a chosen road many a times.  What would be different this time?  Already the thoughts are playing their song in my head.  “Even if I don’t write my book/novel/memoir, at least I AM writing.”  Already I’m making an escape plan, making compromises.  I have to stop.

image from google.ca
image from en.wikipedia.org

I have to stop the negative self talk and start the I can, I can rant.  I can breathe and let go of the can’ts.  Breathe and think of the sphynxes and pyramids built in ancient times.  Picture the slow, but steady progress of the men moving one stone after another.  The magnificence of their work still stands today.

Can I put aside my impatience and discomfort for just 15 minutes at a time? I can build with one word after another on the page for 15 minutes at a time.  Can you see my sphynx yet?  Will it last till the end of time?  15 minutes is good enough – for now.  It is a start.


IMG_2343I pay attention to the turning of  seasons, the phases of the moon and all things that change.  I pay attention to serendipity.

I’ve been talking and writing a lot about Anne Lamott.  Her book, Bird by Bird came in the mail yesterday, along with Sandra Ingerman’s Shamanic Journeying.  I have great admiration for these women.  They speak with authenticity and from a place I recognize.

They both have depression and spoke about Robin William’s suicide.  Anne Lamott:

I know Robin was caught too, in both the arms of God, and of his mother, Laurie.

I knew them both when I was coming up, in Tiburon. He lived three blocks away on Paradise drive. His family had money; ours didn’t. But we were in the same boat–scared, shy, with terrible self esteem and grandiosity. If you have a genetic predisposition towards mental problems and addiction, as Robin and I did, life here feels like you were just left off here one day, with no instruction manual, and no idea of what you were supposed to do; how to fit in; how to find a day’s relief from the anxiety, how to keep your beloved alive; how to stay one step ahead of abyss.”

“This was at theologian Fred Buechner blog today: “It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling.”

Live stories worth telling! Stop hitting the snooze button. Try not to squander your life on meaningless, multi-tasking bullshit. I would shake you and me but Robin is shaking us now.”

Sandra Ingerman:

I was deeply saddened to hear the news about Robin Williams death and that he had been dealing with depression.

Dealing with depression has been a life-long journey for me. I am not going to use the word “struggle” as I do believe it has been part of my spiritual journey. It has simply part of my destiny in life.

Learning how to ride the waves of depression and know that the strength of my spirit will get me through has been a life long teaching for me. It is not easy one. But I accept this is part of my path and keeps me in a continual state of compassion for the challenges that people experience on all levels.

My two mantras are: “The strength of my spirit will carry me through.” “The only way out is through.”

I have to add myself to the list of sufferers of depression. I didn’t think of myself having depression for a long, long time.  I’ve read a great deal on the topic and anything related to it.  I wonder why life is so God damn hard.  I work hard at it constantly, trying to unlock that mystery.  Maybe I shouldn’t try so hard.

The mystery is what keeps us alive, egging us on to chase rainbow after rainbow.  Life is one mystery after another.  That is the marvel of it.  To come to the end of that mystery would be death.  So let me not bemoan my hard life, my little difficulties for they add texture to my otherwise bland existence.

It is true that I have suffered, but now I look back.  I see that my life is not a small thing. Despite because of everything I have succeeded in living and I have stories worth the telling.


Today is only Wednesday, but what the heck.  I have my story of 100 words ready for Friday Fictioneers.  I might as well put it up for you to see.  We are hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, the lady who is addicted to purple.  Won’t you come in, sit awhile and read our stories.  Better yet, join us. 

 PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Marie Gail Stratford

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Marie Gail Stratford

A hundred bottles on the wall. 

A hundred bottles on the wall.

The refrain played over and over in her head.  She saw a hundred green eyes winking at her, mocking her.

The dancers danced their dance on stage.  The audience clapped and cheered in the celebration of the moment, in the  appreciation of skillful maneuvers and flamboyant robes. 

She sat silent, watching, not feeling.  Not knowing how to feel. She will feel tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the music played, hips swayed and feet moved.  Flashbulbs went off.  Toasts were made.

She sat, silent and unobserved or so she thought.  Tomorrow, tomorrow…..


I’m feeling the pain more than the gain.  Perhaps that’s how it is at first.  I’m exercising my stay-with-it muscle.  I’m taking my writing seriously for the first time.  First I take the writing.  Then I will tackle the art.  Who knows how far I can go.  If I don’t succeed, try and try again.  I am full of clichés this morning.

Image from google.ca
Image from google.ca

Perhaps I should not try to be so clever.  I feel I’m blocking myself in already.  It’s a good thing my own copy of Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and  Life” is on the way from Amazon.  I need help on both.

Her voice is one that you can’t help but hear.  It is an excellent reference and such a pleasure to read.  I tell everyone who is interested in writing about it.  I talk about Anne Lamott and her writing alot.

She came to mind again yesterday when I was digging through my cedar chests, looking for a cross-stitch of teddy bears I had done many years ago.  I found everything, mostly unfinished projects, except that.  Among the stuff these squares showed up:

They almost ended up in the trash.  I did throw out the little cutout pieces, thinking I will never have the time or patience to work on them again.  I had to rescue them when I opened these folded squares of cloth.  Their beauty took my breath away.  It was as if I’ve found parts of myself that I had misplaced.

Lamott is right.  There’s treasures hidden among our mess and clutter.  Use it and whatever angst that’s gnawing your butt.  They are fodder to fuel our creative souls.  If you’re lonely and have worries, don’t run away from those feelings.  Use them.  You could have written a song like Downtown.

Or penned a poem like Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it love
Tell me about your despair and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Who knows?  You could have – if you pick up that pen and start.  So go ahead, start.

Someone is calling me about breakfast and something about not enough clean plates.  He is supportive in my writing endeavours.  I have warned him that I might be a little distracted and absent minded in the next while. Sometimes the sandwiches will not have lettuce.  You have to tell the person you’re living with what you are planning and what to expect.

Today is a better day.  There will be spagetti with fresh homemade tomatoe meat sauce – a break and a reward for days of plain old sandwiches without lettuce.  But first Sheba needs her walk.


I am sure that for every problem there is an answer.  I am feeling not copacetic this morning.  You know how it is – morning fatigue, irritation, grumpiness, I need coffee but can’t have it anymore.  Call it what you wish.

Sheba is being annoying, barking up a storm every time the two little Chihuahuas next door poke their fuzzy white heads out on the deck.  I should not have named her after a queen.  She sure is acting like one!

How am I suppose to get creative and come up with my 500 words in this state?  The Lord must have heard me.  When I opened up Facebook, the first thing I saw was from Canada Writes on:

Art blogger The Jealous Curator on vanquishing creative block

How timely and appropriate!  It is just what I need to get going this morning. I, too, love art and had hopes of becoming an artist.  I majored in Fine Arts and English my first year in University.  I had no work discipline and gave up on the art after a year.  My thought was if I had talent, I wouldn’t have to work at it.  I could whip up masterpieces just like that.  So why waste time in something that I can’t excel and make money at?  I was listening to the voices of reason.

The next year, I dropped out of university altogether.  I had a history of being a quitter. When the going got tough, I was missing in action.  I am trying to do better now.  I am working hard, staying in the mental and physical discomfort of pushing for a little more each day.

When I read some of the winners’ stories  on Canada Writes, I think to myself:  I have no hope in hell!  But then I tell myself to move on.  If I stay in that thought, I will never accomplish anything.  I have to keep writing to get better.  I write because I love words and ideas.  I am not doing it to win at anything.  And I can’t measure myself up against others. We all have our unique styles and words.

I am going to heed the Jealous Curator’s advice on being stuck.  Maybe you will find it useful, too.  Here it is:

The Jealous Curator’s 3-part creative block exterminator
1. Time. Allow yourself time to be blocked. It happens, and yes, it will pass. It always does, but you can speed things up with ingredients 2 and 3.
2. Humour. Don’t take it so seriously. Most of the pros have a really light view on their inner critics and blocks in general. If you can laugh, and cut yourself some slack, the blocks seem to fade a lot faster!
3. Side projects. So, so, so many of the artists suggested doing little side projects to help shake yourself out of a rut. In fact, all 50 of them gave an “unblocking project” at the end of their interviews. They’re so good! (I’ve tried about five of them so far.)


I’m here exhausted and full of breakfast.  Can I write my 500 words in this state?  Can I push forward with no ifs and buts?  Of course I can.  I’ve caught up on my sleep and Mr. Sun is smiling down on me with a promise of  28 degrees Celsius.

Wait!  I need a refill on my tea.  Ah, so much better now.  I can feel the frown unfurling between my eyebrows, my face and eyes relaxing, the tension in my body easing.  I feel the warmth of the sun on my right cheek.  I see my purple petunias bobbing in the morning breeze.  They’re still strutting their stuff, not ready to give up yet.

“We’ve still have alot of living to do”, they seem to be singing.  “Don’t do us in yet!”

Yesterday was a busy, busy day.  I prepared 4 trays of Roma tomatoes for the dehydrater, made 5 jars of tomato sauce, baked 6 loaves of bread and made a batch of sunberry muffins.  It seemed so easy when you start out.  I had it all planned.  I would do the Roma tomatoes first.  Then I would start the bread.  During the first rising phase, I would start the tomato sauce.  During the 2nd rising phase I would walk Sheba.  And while the bread was baking, I would whip up the muffins and pop them into the oven after the bread comes out.

No matter how often you’ve done all these things, they  are always harder and take longer than you think. Our memory plays tricks on us.  It is not a bad thing.  Time allows us to forget about the difficulties and let us start again – refreshed and full of enthusiasm. Maybe even by next week I will do it all over again.  My pain today is my tomorrow’s gain.

Not that yesterday was difficult or painful.  But I was busy and moving till evening.  By supper time I was tired and irritable, ready to bite someone’s head off if he got in my way. I was liable and did say, DON’T play any more music.  There are times when music soothes and time when it drives me mad.  It was the latter.  I was ready to jump out of my skin.

I’m in a bad mood, I said. I speak my mind so people would know where I’m coming from. Sometimes it doesn’t work well but this time it was copasetic.  Life is like that.  There’s the good, bad and the ugly.  That’s how you can tell when everything is copasetic and the sweetness of it is worth the pain and ugliness.  What goes up must come down.  No pain, no gain.

I’m pushing hard on gaining, not only with my words but staying in the present.  I want to make my own choices in life  and not let life choose for me.  I don’t want procrastination to own me.  It’s easier said than done – way toughter than I thought.  That’s what I’m learning while I’m searching for my 500 – 1500 words a day.  It’s only been a week or so.  I have a long journey ahead of me.  I better pace myself for the long haul and not fall within a week or two.  I’m crossing my fingers and toes.  I think I better cross my slippers, too.

IMG_1464My Sheba is fussing.  Maybe it’s time for a break.  She has been very cooperative, waiting patiently for her walk.  She needs a break, too.