Archive for the ‘Polka Dot Pens’ Category

‎Finish the thought: “the blank page…”

What words to you add? Which way did you take it?

The blank page is scary.

That’s the first thought that came to my mind.


Like monsters in the closet and thunder and the unknown.


And then I stopped myself.

Scary? Really?

What’s scary about it? The fact that there’s nothing there and I’m expected to fill it up with words?

Seriously. Enough already.

It’s not scary.

Cancer is scary and growing old is scary and watching those around you fade away is scary.

Losing people is scary and not knowing why is scary and being powerless to do anything about it is scary.

The blank page?

The blank page is none of those things and maybe it’s time to see it for what it is.

It’s just a thing, an empty bucket waiting to be filled up with my thoughts. They don’t have to be good thoughts or smart thoughts or witty thoughts. They just have to be mine. And I just have to put them down and fill up the blank page.

And then it won’t be a blank page anymore.

The blank page is only scary if I believe it to be.

No more.


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‎It’s been so long that I almost forget how this used to go. I vaguely remember a time when it was part of me, something I didn’t really have to think about, kind of like breathing or crying or laughing. And perhaps just like those other things, I stopped paying attention to it and so it was soon forgotten.

‎And then today, out of nowhere, a comment from someone who used to read the words saying they were missed. A person on the other side of the world who stumbled across my words in the same random way that these things often happen, who wondered where the words had gone.

It was only then that I realized I was wondering the same thing.

In the beginning the words were so heavy, they mattered so much, that I feared putting them out into the world. I told myself over and over and over that they were just words, that they didn’t, in fact, matter at all and slowly I started to listen. The words found a home, they found a voice and a sound and a rhythmn.

And then they stopped being heavy, and instead became so light that they floated, unable to be pinned down. They went from mattering so much that I couldn’t write them to mattering so little that they weren’t worth the effort.

So I forgot.

I forgot how good it felt to pull them out, one by one, and see what happens when I get them just right. I forgot the weight that lifts from my chest and my heart and my soul when they release from inside me and become part of the world. I forgot that finding the words and turning them into something is a part of me.

I forgot all of that until someone I have never met, someone who I will probably never meet, said they missed them.

And then I realized I miss them too.

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I was away for a little bit; off on a vacation on which I made the conscious decision to disconnect from all of the technology I normally drag around with me.  I didn’t take a phone, I didn’t take a laptop, I didn’t even take a little piece of paper with my passwords jotted down on it in case the desire struck me to log in, check up or connect.  I did cave and take a notebook and a pen with me, on the off chance that brilliance and genius would strike while I was sitting on the beach or lounging on our veranda, watching the sea go by.

I didn’t even take the notebook out of my suitcase.

I’ve been back for a few weeks now.  I’m now officially back into the routine of packing lunches and checking backpacks, going to work and coming home again, checking and filling up the calendar with places to go and things to do.  That whole “being away” thing now seems like a distant memory, something that happened to someone else that I heard about once.  And I’m okay with that.  Some people may like to be on vacation all the time but I think the only way I can actually appreciate being away, or alternately, being “here” is to only do it once in a while.  Which is good because that’s about all my bank account will allow.

So I was away and completely disconnected and now I’m back and almost fully plugged back in, except for one thing.


It’s like I came back and got about 95% back into my “here” life but I just can’t seem to get back into the writing.  When I was away it was like a switch was flicked and I just stopped contemplating.  I stopped thinking about “what if” and “why” and “why me” and “why not me” and as those are what make up almost all of what I write about, it just didn’t even occur to me to pick up the pen.  And now that I’m back, I can’t seem to flick the switch back on.

I told my bestie I was waiting for inspiration to hit, as it always seemed to do in the past.  I’ve mentioned before that so much of what I write comes at me in an instant, like someone whispering in my ear “write about this” and so I do.

I’m not sure if the whispers have stopped or if I just can’t hear them.

I always thought I write because I need an outlet for all of the reflecting that I do; that the only way to clear up space inside my head is to get the thoughts out on paper so I can make room for more.  But these past few weeks I’ve begun to wonder if maybe it’s the other way around.

Maybe the reflecting doesn’t cause me to write; maybe the writing encourages me to reflect.

And I hope now that I’ve broken the barrier and put something, anything, out into the world that the flow will come, the reflecting will come, and I can once again feel connected to me, and to the words that make up such a big part of my world.

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When I write, I pick the title first.

I know people who do it the other way around, they write what they want to write and then look back through it and decide on a title that would best describe what they’ve just written and that’s obviously a valid way to do it as well.  I’ve tried but can’t seem to get it to work for me.  Rather I come up with a title, very often just one or two words, and then I just start writing.  Every once in awhile I check back in with the title I’ve written at the top of the page and make sure I’m still on the right track.  I find having the title is like a route marker keeping me on the right path, making sure I’m not straying too far from the thought I was trying to express.

But, that being said, lately all I’ve been able to come up with are titles.

It used to be that once I found the title, the rest just came into focus.  My thoughts would all line up neatly underneath and while I can’t guarantee they made sense to anyone else, they provided some clarity for me, at least.  Now I write the title down at the top of the page and there it sits, alone, unaccompanied by any other words that may actually flush it out into something resembling a clear and cohesive thought.

When I write, it has a way of emptying my head of all of the random, often useless thoughts that I have floating around in my head.  Putting them down on paper, all neat and lined up in a somewhat intelligent way stops them from floating any longer.  They are pinned down, immovable, stuck, which is a good thing because then my head is a less crazy place, at least for a few moments.

But lately, because I can’t come up with anything but a bunch of titles, the thoughts continue to float and dance around in my head.  And now it’s getting crowded in there.  There’s not really much room for floating so they’re all bumping into each other and banging around, making it harder and harder to concentrate and function.  They keep me from sleeping and reading and wasting time staring out the window.  I find myself in the middle of conversations and I’m not sure if I spoke the words out loud or just thought them in my head.

I have tried, really I have.  I’ve started writing a dozen things and all of them seem jumbled, all over the place, meandering from one thing to another, just like the thoughts in my head.  Rather than keeping me on track, the titles I now come up with seem to mock me.  Like ‘good luck writing something about this.’

But I know I have to get out of the rut.  I have to slap the titles back into line and show them who is boss.  I have to force the thoughts to make sense again, before they drive me crazy and I, in turn, drive everyone else crazy around me.  So, in the hopes of jump-starting some kind of inspiration, or at the very least ridding my brain of these random words, I’m going to list all of the titles I’ve come up with over the last week and a half, the ones that have proven to be less inspiration and more hinderance.  And in writing them down here I’m giving myself permission to let them go and start fresh, to stop being bogged down by the things I can’t write and perhaps make room for things that I can.




not caring

thinking your thoughts

in the corner



There they are, stuck on the page, at the very least these ones won’t be floating around anymore.

Now we’ll just wait and see if it helps.

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When I finish writing what I’m going to write here and hit the “publish” button on the side of the page, this will be my two hundred and eighty second post on this blog.

Two hundred and eighty two.


I know it’s usually the big anniversaries that are celebrated.  Like two hundred or three hundred or even two hundred and fifty but today, this time, I decided I need to celebrate two hundred and eighty two.

Because that’s an accomplishment for me and I’m tired of celebrating when other people or the calendar or social convention tells me that I should.  Usually by the time I actually arrive at the “approved day of celebration” I don’t feel like celebrating at all.  It’s like I wish I could just wake up one morning and decide that day is going to be my birthday.  Just decide on the spur of the moment that I want to spend that day celebrating me and eating cake and doing what I want to do, because I want to, not because the calendar tells me that I can.

And with that in mind, today I have decided to celebrate this little place I created and the blood, sweat and tears that have kept it going.  Well, to be honest, there hasn’t been a whole lot of blood and sweat involved but the tears, oh there have been tears.

Some people in my life know about this blog but there are also some who don’t.  There are people who know me but have no idea about this place or what is here or even that I write at all.  That’s the way I like it.  Some might say that I’m hiding; that it’s not right to keep part of who I am tucked but for me, it allows this place to be the more authentic me.  I don’t have to edit and censor.  I don’t have to define to people what I do here, or why I wrote what I wrote, or to justify or explain myself.  This is the place I come where I don’t have to do any of those things. Keeping a little part of me hidden actually allows me to be more open.

When people find out that I have a blog the first question is usually “what is it about?”  I always find it a difficult question to answer because, truthfully, the answer would be that this place is about me.  And maybe I just need to stop apologizing for that.  Maybe I should stop thinking it’s selfish of me to have something in my life that’s just for me.  Because it is.  This place is about me and the things that I think and feel and struggle with and like and love and hate and question and contemplate and all of that makes up who I am.   I write here as a record for me to look back on in those times when I lose sight of all the people I have been along the way.

And so I’m going to take a moment to pat myself on the back for two hundred and eighty two.  Not all of them have been brilliant, or intelligent or even remotely articulate but this place represents me, and I’m definitely not always any of those things either. But it is about me, for better or worse and, I have discovered, it has also become about the people who join me here.  Those of you who have been here since the beginning and who have become an amazing source of support for me, and those who have found the Palace along the way and who have pulled up a chair and stayed.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your time here so far because I’ve certainly enjoyed having you here.

Happy two hundred and eighty two.  I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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Tag, I’m it!

My friend at Bees on Skis has included me in this fun little game and I’m more than happy to play along.  And not just because my bestie told me that for a change, I need to write something that doesn’t make her cry!

My relationship with Bees is kind of a funny one.  I know her in “real life” which is to say we knew each other in the actual world before we met again in the blogging world.  I’ve never been to her house and she’s been to mine only a couple of times, we live thousands of miles away from each other and see each other next to never, and yet I would not hesitate in the least to say we’re friends.  We met through our hubbies because they grew up together and what a bonus it was to meet her and find out that I really liked her.  With or without the hubby connection I know we would be friends anyway and I’m just counting the days until we can spend an afternoon together in London, drinking tea, talking about books and laughing, laughing, laughing.  We’ll get there…one day!

In the meantime, I’m excited to take part in her tagging adventure.  The rules are simple, she came up with a few questions that I have to answer and then I have to tag a few other bloggers and come up with some questions for them.

And here we go!

1.  If you could take one song/album to a desert island with you, what would it be?

Living Under June by Jann Arden.  If you’ve read this blog for a little while you know of my absolute love and devotion to Jann Arden and her music.  This particular album came out when I was in high school (holy moly that’s a long time ago) and I remember listening to it everyday on the way home on my yellow Sony walkman.  Wow, now I’m making myself sound even older.  As soon as CDs came out I upgraded my cassette copy and it’s one of the few albums I can say I still listen to on a regular basis.  This album has essentially been the soundtrack of my life and I can’t imagine leaving it behind.

2.  What one piece of advice would you give your child as he/she goes into high school?

Find your flock.  Find a group of people who care about what you think and allow you to share with them who you really are.  High school can be a scary, scary place and it makes things infinitely easier to not have to go it alone.  It’s not about popularity; it’s not about having the most friends or the coolest friends or the prettiest friends, it’s about finding a group who think you’re pretty great, just the way you are.  It will make everything else so much easier.  

3.  What is the one piece of advice that you remember most from your own parents?

My dad always encouraged me to go away to attend university.  He had done the same when he was growing up and he said it was the best experience he could have had.  Of course I’m not sure they planned on me going so far away but to this day it’s one of the decisions I look back on and know, without a single doubt, was the right one and I’m so grateful that they could see past their fears and doubts to let me go through with it.  It allowed me the opportunity to find out who I was once I was free from all that I used to be.  It was a fresh start, a chance to carry with me all of the things I liked, and a chance to dump all of the baggage I had brought on my journey up to that point.  It’s not often that advice becomes life-changing, but in this case it really did.  

4.  What is your dream job?

I don’t know quite how to put it in words, but it would somehow involve helping women through the emotional preparations and transition to motherhood.  I think we’re doing a better job supporting mothers physically and giving them the supports they need but I think we still lack in the emotional support.  I think so many of us went into this thing with such skewed expectations and ended up feeling lonely and guilty and unhappy.  And because this wasn’t the way it was “supposed” to be, we just feel more lonely and more guilty and more unhappy.  I would love to do something to help those women who go through what I have gone through, and to help them realize their feelings, no matter what they are, are exactly what they are “supposed” to be. By no means do I have all of the answers, but sometimes it’s a comfort just knowing others have asked the same questions.

5.  Would you change anything about what you studied in college or university?

It’s funny for me now to think about how far I am from what I actually studied, technically, and yet it still shapes me on an almost daily basis.  I studied Journalism because I thought I was going to be a writer.  All these years later I don’t do any writing on a formal basis and yet the principles and structure of it are with me all the time.  It taught me all of the rules and processes that I needed to know, and it taught me that I much prefer writing outside of all of that.  I want to write what I want to write, when I want to write it.  Going to school to “learn” about it taught me that at least.

6.  Who would you call if you had only one phone call left to make?

My hubby.  No matter the ups and downs, it all still begins and ends with him.

7.  Where is your favourite place in all the world?

In Ottawa, along the canal, right next to the university I attended there are locks where you can cross over to the other side of the canal.  One particular lock, once you get to the other side, takes you to a path that eventually leads you to a small foot bride.  Over the foot bridge there is a large tree and when you sit under it, you have a perfect view of a little stream that trickles its way through the park.  I found this particular spot in my first days in Ottawa, when I felt alone and unsure and it gave me some peace.  Whenever the weather was warm I would take a book down there and sit, sometimes reading, sometimes just watching the world pass by.  My last day in Ottawa, before we moved away, I went down there again, to say goodbye and whenever I’m back in the city I think of it and try to pass by as a reminder of who I was then, and where I am now.

8.  If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

The forgotten children.  The fact that there are still kids, right in our own neighbourhoods, that don’t get breakfast to eat or books to read or dreams to dream.  There must be a way, there must be a way to get around all of the judgement and the rhetoric and just help.  Just help them get what they need so they can go on to be the people they are supposed to be.  There are unwanted kids in one house and down the block there are people who want nothing more than to pass their love down to a child.  It shouldn’t be as hard as it is to bring the kids together with the love they so desperately deserve.  It really should be easier and yet it’s not.  

9.  What did you like best about your childhood?

The sheer “regularness” of it.  I grew up in the suburbs of a big city with a mom and a dad and a brother and a cat.  I walked to school and had a best friend and went for ice cream and dreamed all of the dreams that a kid is supposed to dream.  I grew up believing that I could do anything I had the courage to try, and be anything I had to imagination to dream.  Being on the other side of it now, being the one who’s responsible for giving two little people a “childhood” it has become clear to me how amazing that is.  

10.  Why/How did you start your blog?

I was feeling lost, stuck, unhappy with where I was and unwilling or unable to see another way to be.  Writing had always been an outlet for me but the idea of sharing it had always been a huge barrier to doing anything with it.  Until I decided I was tired of being afraid, tired of not writing and sharing because I was afraid of what others might think.  One day I realized that it wasn’t about them, it was about me and if writing the words helped to lighten the load, then that’s what I should do.  And the Polka Dot Palace was born.  A silly little place with a silly little name where I write about all the things that float around in my head and put them down on paper, if only to clear up some space in my mind for more things to think about.  It has proven to be a wonderfully cathartic experience.

11.  What is your favourite day of the year?

That first day of spring when it’s finally warm enough to open the windows and feel the warm breeze on my face.  When I can grab a light jacket and go for a walk, marvelling in the world coming back to life after a long winter.  When the grey gives way to the green and the darkness gives way to the sunlight.  When all I want to do is slide my feet out of my shoes and feel the grass between my toes.  When all that was dead begins to grow again.  That’s my favourite day.

Okay, my turn to continue the fun!  I’d like the tag the following bloggers and ask them to answer the questions below.

Fahrin Kermally

Shoes on the Wrong Feet


It’s not often that you are asked to think about “you” and what you like and what you want and what you see.  I know you are all busy with the million things you have to do each day but if you find a spare minute, sit down and give this a try.  For me, it was a really wonderful break in an otherwise regular Sunday afternoon of doing laundry and making lunches!

And I’ll ask my friend Bees to answer them too, not to tag her again but because I’m interested to hear her answers to the questions!

1. Who is your favourite character from a book, movie or TV show?

2. What does writing do for you that nothing else can?

3. If you could spend a month living in a foreign city, which one would it be?

4. Which thoughts run through your head and keep you from sleeping at night?

5. What is your greatest fear?

6. No matter how down you may be feeling, what is the one thing that can always make you laugh?

7. If a stranger came up to you on the street and gave you $100, the only rule being that you had to spend it on yourself, what would you buy?

8. If you had an extra hour every day, what do you wish you would do with it?

9. If you had an extra hour every day, what would you actually do with it?

10. If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would that word be?

Tag…you’re it!

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‎I planned to write tonight. I planned to sit down in front of my computer, a cup of steaming hot, sweet milky tea sitting on the desk beside me, and write.

I planned to finally try and write a submission for the short story contest that I entered last year and was hoping to enter again this year. I’ve had a few ideas floating around in my head for the last few days and I was planning to finally get something down on paper.

I should have known better.

It seems that whenever I plan to write, a dozen other things pop up and get in my way. It seems that whenever I plan to write, I actually fail to write anything at all.

Instead plans got changed and I ended up cuddling with my daughter on my bed, watching a movie we had already seen. We painted her nails and ate snacks and when we were done I put my arms around her and she tucked her head under my chin, her hair tickling my neck.

When the movie was finished I put her to bed and kissed her cheek, brushing her hair out of her face and inhaling the sweet scent of her. All too often these days I forget about these moments with her, I think she’s too old and I’m too busy and that we’re not in that place where we once were‎.

But then we have a night like this, a night where I was planning to do other things but instead spent the night curled up with a little girl who is not going to be little very much longer. And now, as the night draws to a close I haven’t written any part of a short story; I didn’t even turn on my computer.

I didn’t do anything at all that I planned.

And it was pretty great.

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