Wander Wishing

After some appointments downtown, I found myself not yet ready to depart the urban environment. Sunlight called me down the street lined with old snow, skims of ice and puddles.

In as little as a block I went from the yuppie-ville of high-end breakfast places and trendy lunch outlets to sketchy people in rough clothes who ignored social cues and openly stared as I progressed down the street. I keep forgetting my hair is purple now.

I suppose the health and Rehab centre on the corner contributed to this urban underbelly feel. I kept walking, and found a tiny violently pink shop that looked to be no more than a single room. I think I’d like to visit it, no matter what the menu.

Rounding the corner, I found brick business buildings of a bygone era, still rife with detail, a street that still gloriously sported a row of mature trees, and a chap with crutches who said, “Nice colours!” as he walked by.

The road dipped down and the brooding shadow of a concrete overpass loomed. It seemed both post-apocalyptic and whimsical as its serpentine path arched away a few scant yards above.

The flavour of the people felt hunched shouldered and hard edged, like they might ask you for a few dollars, and then insult you if you didn’t pay (which happened) or maybe just wonder what right you thought you had walking in their neighbourhood.

It is as close to a bad part of town as I think this city gets, which, all in all, isn’t very bad, thankfully.

I passed a huddle of people and belongings piled under an orange tarp beside a wide empty lot just before a narrow old elevated bridge. There were tattoos and dreadlocks aplenty among the scattered goods, but one man, naked to the waist, etched in ink showed a surprising inclination to industry that I hadn’t expected to see in a street person as he swept up a pile of debris along the edge of the sidewalk. As if this was his home, and this his own front yard.

Poignantly, it may have been.

It made me want to go speak to him. But a woman alone? Would it be wise?

Still, I experienced a surge of respect for the man, wishing now I had had more courage.

Perhaps that is why Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs.

Eyes Full of Dollar Signs

Awkwafina
Awkwafina
Supertree Grove, Singapore
Supertree Grove, Singapore

How did it happen?

I think it started with looking up 10 Parkour Tricks for Beginners. Suddenly I was on a success and money safari through the interwebs.

I bumped into fascinating people like Simon Sinek and Seth Godin and even sat through some Tony Robbins all talking about success. Sir Ken Robinson was there. Even Dr. Phil.

All of them had key things to say to the entrepreneurially minded. How to tackle adversity. What real leadership looks like. What kinds of life habits have impact.

All good stuff. But one has to be careful that one doesn’t get sucked down the rabbit hole.

As one deeply concerned about finances since my lay-off back in October, the topic of money grabs me.

And yet I hear the advice given by certain people to the high earners out there and it isn’t “build a bigger table” to share what you have. It’s upgrade the quality of your life.

Buy the business class airline ticket. Get the better trainer, home chef, cfo (financial officer). Throw the extravagant house party with all your friends. Spend it on yourself.

Self.

The biggest idea the new rich can think of as to where to spend their money is “on me.”

Doesn’t matter that x-number of people are homeless in the town where I live. I deserve a well-stocked four car garage.

Doesn’t matter that the women’s shelter can’t afford any more beds. I need more lattes.

Doesn’t matter that cancer is still unsolved. I need another x-number of square feet on my house, and the pool.

I heard that most people in the world live for under $500 a YEAR.

What if we built planes to have an equity class. Take the extras from Business class and spread it evenly over all the seats. What would that kind of world look like?

What if there were only Moderately Crazy Rich Asians, but everyone got to be one?

Maybe JK Rowling is on to something.

Target Rich Environment

Take ten squirrels, put them in a small cage and shake it. (Don’t really do that. It’s cruel). That will give you the frantic state of my brain some days.

As always, focus for me is a challenge.

Do I take those master classes? Work on learning Chinese? Or the guitar? What about my flute skills? Should I write more on the novel(s)? Or focus on developing short content? Poems? Short stories? Film??

And on the home front, is it purging things to the garage? Or painting? Plumbing anyone?

Spring soon. What about the yard? Veggie garden? Or just maintenance? Fencing?

Weeding? The Faerie Garden! What about that?

How to calm the critters?

My strategies thus far have been:

1) Know yourself

2) Choose/discover your life mission

3) Prioritize the “squirrels”

4) Break down each “squirrel” -i.e. project- into bite sized pieces (Don’t use actual squirrels. That’s cruel).

5) Schedule the pieces and take a two week run at the new schedule

6) Tweak and adjust from what you learn in live practice

7) Repeat as needed until task is done, item is learned or habit is set

(28 days to learn a new habit)

Rewards for successes are probably a good idea too.

And tea. Tea is good.

What are your strategies?

Quests & Voyages

I am continuing the quest to purge my house of excess stuff.

Took a look at the Fantasy Book Shelf, a sacred space in my home.

It was surprising and delightful to look back at just the titles and remember all those fantastic voyages, the writing that ignited my passion for fantasy, the authors like old friends.

It was intriguing to be pushed to remember who I was when I read those books, or where I first read them.

I did not linger long. Memory often brings me acute emotional pain.

So I merely glanced, and tasted again of that luxurious season of library trips by bike, stacks of books on the corner of my bed, and afternoons reading in the sunshine of the giant window of my room…and of course rainbow dragons!

Dog Day

The more I get to know myself, the more I hate me.

The expression “this went completely pear shaped” is indicative of something that was an unmitigated disaster. Well, I am pear shaped, both physically and metaphorically, and I am restless for change.

Change comes in uninspiring increments so small one can scarcely see them. It also comes with pain. Faith is the only antidote to keep one trying to slog it forward in the face of the unrelenting headwind.

They are trimming the trees on the boulevard of my street and anxiously I peer out my window, hoping they will not destroy the thin strip of beauty that makes living in a city this size almost bearable.

There’s nothing I can do about it. The trimming must happen, to protect cars and homes.

How does one prune a pear tree? And when will spring come?

Dance

Today was a dance day.

By dance I mean that I moved through the day with a kind of comfortable flow.

No dashing, no crunching, just a lilting pace all on my own, taking up the tasks as they came to hand. Minimal planning.

It reminds me of a sports term I learned when running ultra marathons: active rest. You’re still moving, but it is gentle and restful.

After a very physical, not to mention conflict oriented week full of appointments, I could really use a dance day.

Have you ever had a dance day? What do you do to rest and rebuild?

Gif credit: 21 Pilots – Holding On To You -Official Music Video

 

Into the Waves

Still need to fix my phone so as to provide readers with my own photos.

Do you know how annoying it is to have an intermittent “h” on one’s keyboard? I start typing like I have a Cockney accent!

Both bulbs finally burnt out in my office light fixture.

Complete household meltdown on the weekend, followed by a reprise Monday night.

Medical things. Dental things. Money things.

And on, and on…

Yes, these are the little irritations that plague even the most dedicated writers.

I think the trick is to set your prow into the waves and keep writing anyway.

Walloped

So apparently getting “let go” had more ramifications than expected. Witness the total lack of blog posts since about November! (And stock photo for this post!).

In all fairness, Christmas happened in that time frame (and oh what a joy THAT was!). Also the health issue took a turn for the worst, but has stabilized yet again. (Feel like a yoyo!)

On the up side, the second novel is now clocking in at 632 pages (first draft) and I got to experience my first ever full on writer’s block. It was fascinating. But thanks to the coaching of several more experienced novelists, I recognized the symptoms of fear and took the time to break down my experience to get to the root of it.

Turns out I have a weighty fear of breaking this complex monstrosity as well as a dread of being “done” with theses characters. (I have carted these folks around for better part of 20 years. What happens to them when the book is done?!)

After sorting that out and facing off against my desk for three days running with little to show for it, I finally had to resort to allowing myself to be a beginner and be okay with the result. As they say, one can fix it in the rewrite.

So a mammoth 80 page section was the hard won end result, and now I get to face off against another jag of “how do I put all these pieces together and make sense?!”

Wish me luck!

Church

So, after a door-slamming row with the spousal unit last night, I got up this morning and decided to do something I had been considering for some time: walk up to the church on the corner for the early morning service.

Why?

It is true that I believe if one is so inclined, one can “meet God” anywhere. But if one wishes to meet people, one has to show up places.

This was really an act of following my heart.

And what a day for it! Pink graced the sunrise beyond the snow-laden evergreens. Hardly a soul was to be seen at this hour.

Blessed silence.

I have a long and colourful history with faith-based institutions, not all of it is pretty.

I could have gone in, elbows out, in my punky finest, but that didn’t suit me today. These are good people trying to do good things. I felt I should go in gently. It would be kinder to them.

But I didn’t want to put on an “acceptable suit.” I still wanted to be my authentic self. So, yes I wore my mismatched earrings with the Bajoran-esque ear cuff and chain, my rib cage and gem heart necklace, and my winter cloak. (Yes, Winter is Here, never mind Coming).

I chatted with one old chap in the parking lot as I arrived. Friendly enough, though I got the sense that talking to someone in a winter cloak was a bit of an adventure for him. He braved it well.

Synergy ensued.

I have been considering where to move next on the employment journey and it occurred to me that I could do some meaningful volunteering if nothing else.

Who was the guest speaker this morning? The director of a charity known as “Inn From the Cold” that helps shelter homeless families!

I have always been one who loves things of a restorative nature, be it books, houses, furniture or lives. Inn From The Cold’s aim is to help stop homelessness before it happens, but also to be there with all the tools when it does.

This seemed a good fit. I am actually excited about the prospect. But I am one who gets excited about many things, so I opened up to God to hear what He’d like me to say, if I spoke to this speaker person.

Two key words came to mind in the form of a question: “Can use a writer, or maybe a volunteer?” It was kind of freeing to speak it. Writer is what I am. Volunteering is what I am willing to do, what I can do. I don’t need to reconstruct a new self to be of value somewhere. She invited me to have tea, take the tour, and talk more.

This church is of the more formal variety, with ministers in robes, and candles on the altar table. The liturgy (the script, if you will) was printed in a little pamphlet and had all the bits from the various books identified by page number and book colour. I though this was very thoughtful of them.

I still managed to muff the stage directions for the Communion ceremony as in this church everyone walks up to the front and kneels for it. The row filled up and I had no spot to go to, but the usher (in her Hogwarts jacket!) was quietly helpful.

When I entered, I noticed they had Kleenex boxes situated at various locations on the benches. I had no particular inclination to tears this morning, in spite of last night’s row, but chose a spot nearby one, just in case.

I was treated to a flow of beautiful words, both contemporary and historical, a favourite “chorus” or short song, (“They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love”) from my childhood, and an old time hymn, which I loved. Touch after touch seemed to say, “This is your place.”

The sense of tranquility in that place was welcome, though the prayer of Confession (not as horrible as it sounds) did make me cry, not for any scourging properties, but for the words in it that were all my words, stunningly specific to my life.

There was also the traditional Lord’s Prayer. This was the thing that really started the tears because the last time I heard it was at work, in my former job, in our little circle of four.

One of the things the abrupt ending of my employment caused was the tearing away of my one circle of fellowship. I don’t grok with traditional religious institutions very well, so my only time to be with those of like mind in spiritual matters was at work. We would meet every Wednesday and talk about life, work, and say the Lord’s Prayer at the end.

The one who led it was the one who fired me. Laid me off. Whatever.

To hear that prayer again stabbed, a fresh sense of loss.

It is what it is. I try not to let pain make me hate.

After, I met a gal by the name of Jen, an empty-nester who likes to volunteer a lot here and there, and we chatted over tea and cake. I learned that her family hails from Norway, one of the travel destinations on my “to see” list, the other being England.

The tea server was a fun lady by the name of Anse (“Just ask a question, and you will get the Anse!”) who also has a passion for travel and England (!) I met their spouses (Cam and Daniel, respectively).

Then some lady with gorgeous blue shell earrings came up and asked me if I was “Lisa.” (The door usher had asked me if I was “Louise” the guest speaker, when I entered. The day of mistaken identity, I guess!) I said no. She complimented my necklace and ended up taking a pic to show her son, who makes jewelry.

Everyone in the circle laughed at this oddity, pretending this was their standard practice to photograph new attendees. Made me smile.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable time, with no pretense on my part. And that in and of itself was a relief.

I might do Advent with these folks.

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