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Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

‎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 like to think I know what’s going on.  I like to think that, generally speaking, I’m up on what’s in and what’s out and what it’s all about.  Sure, I realize there are things that fly over my head on a regular basis but I tell myself that those are the things that I don’t need to know about so I’m really not missing out on anything.  Lumped in that category would be things like: the newest cell phones, what’s going on in the world of soccer, jazz music and foreign films, just to name a few.  And I’ve come to peace with the fact that I don’t know anything about those things and if they should come up in conversation at a dinner party I will casually excuse myself and spend ten minutes washing my hands in the bathroom in the hopes that the subject will have changed in my absence, or I will casually change the subject to something about which I am more well versed, like Scandal or the newest nail polish colours for spring.

But, once in a while I am caught completely unaware about something that I should know something about.

This happened to me today.

I read about this book in a magazine a little while ago and it sounded funny.  And heh, it’s a book with cartoons in it so I’m up for that.

Hyperbole and a Half

Not to mention that I liked the name and the cover.  Apparently I’m not supposed to judge books by their covers but I totally do, pretty much all the time, and I think if you were being honest you would admit that you do as well.

So I put it on hold at my library and it came in the other day.  To be honest, when I got the email notification and I saw the title I couldn’t remember in the slightest which book it was or why I would have put it on hold but I was ready to be surprised.

Initially the biggest surprise was that it was heavy.  Man, it was like carrying around a brick.  This didn’t bode well because I do most of my reading on the train which means I have to carry the book around with me most of the day.  I have to REALLY like a heavy book to drag it around with me but I decide to give this one a try.  Again, the cartoons were proving to be a big selling feature.

And within five minutes of cracking it open this morning I almost peed my pants.

This book is hilarious, and touching, and brutally honest and witty and sarcastic and everything I wish my writing could be, but it never will.  I want to be friends with Allie Brosh.  Not let’s go hang out at the mall friends but let’s sit on the couch in our fuzzy pants and shoot the shit and realize that the world is often a place where we don’t quite fit.  The book includes stories about her dogs which, I’m definitely not a dog person but it almost made me want to go out and get a dog on the off chance that maybe it would inspire me to write hilarious stories about it like she does.  It also includes a story about getting lost in the woods as a child with her mother and sister that almost had me laughing out loud, in public, and not caring who stared at me.

But the ones that got me the most were the two chapters she wrote about depression.  Incredibly insightful and brilliant and so unflinchingly honest that I want to rip them out and carry them around in my pocket and show them to everyone I meet.  I can’t even imagine the courage it would take to be that honest about something so personal but she did, and in such a way as to make it seem like the simplest thing in the world to share.  I’m not one third the writer that she is and even I know that one of the hardest things about writing is to take something so difficult and make it look easy.

Of course, upon discovering what I thought was a hidden gem, I messaged my bestie to see if she had heard of it and tell her she absolutely HAD to read the book immediately.  She promptly wrote back that of course she’d heard of it, she’d been reading the blog forever and how had I not heard of it?

In response I immediately did what any rational person would do and I looked it up on Wikipedia to see if it really was something everyone else already knew about.  And yes, at least I’ve heard of Wikipedia.  Of course from there I learned that I apparently totally missed the boat on this.  One of the blog posts (one of the ones about depression) apparently got 1.5 million views in a single day.  How did I miss out on something that 1.5 million people managed to know about, all in a single day?  What rock must I have been living under on that particular day for this to have gone completely unnoticed by me?

It’s kind of like the day I “discovered” Post Secret only to figure out that it had already been discovered, about two years before I “discovered” it.

So I feel kind of lame and I admit it.  But I also feel mostly kind of great because I finally found it and it’s amazing and I just might have to run out and buy my own copy.  My own copy so I can put it under my pillow and hope that some of Allie Brosh’s writing greatness seeps into my brain while I sleep.

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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.

Wow.

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

PaperKeeper

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 can use them as a weapon, defending my opinions, my thoughts and even my personal space.  I can use them to keep you at bay or invite you in.  I can use them to hurt you, if I choose.

I can use them as armour, protecting myself from the hurtful world around me.  With a carefully placed “I’m fine” or a strategically used “everything is good” I can deflect the questions I’m not willing or ready to answer.  If I use them correctly, you won’t even be able to tell I’m lying.

I can hide behind them or stand on top of them.  I can wrap them around myself for comfort, or scream them from the top of my lungs in anger.

I can use them to express myself, or use them as an excuse not to.

Sometimes I feel them everywhere, in my head, behind my eyes, on the tip of my tongue and sometimes they get lost, hidden away from me, making me wander aimlessly while I wait for them to appear.

On more than one occasion I have regretted them, wished I could gather them out of the air and put them back in my pocket, never to be heard from again.  If only.  If only it were that easy.

It is not so much that I wished I hadn’t thought them, quite the opposite actually. I think we all think the things we are supposed to think, there is no crime in that.  The difficulties arise when things are spoken, written, shared, that really shouldn’t be.  It is not their fault for being thought, it is our fault for not having the wisdom to keep them to ourselves.

I have never doubted them, never doubted my ability to put them to good use.  Even when every other thought in my head is a question about what I’m doing, what I’m feeling, what I’m not doing, what I’m not feeling, this is never one of them.

I can use them to erase all of that, all of that noise in my head telling me all of the things I can’t and won’t and shouldn’t.  They take all that and put it away, at least for a little while.  Because there’s no room for all of that, not now, not when it’s time to focus on what is the most important.

Because it’s always the words.

My words.

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In honour of this, my 200th post, here at the Polka Dot Palace I decided it was time for some new dots.

The new dots

The new dots

I hope you like them.

The old dots have served their purpose.  They managed to get this thing off the ground and into the air.  They were a source of comfort for me, every time I opened the site and saw them on the screen I could exhale, relax a little, knowing I was here, in the palace, where it was okay to just sit back and be me.

But now it’s time for some new dots.

Some happier dots created by me, for me.  Brighter colours, brighter stories, brighter ideas and brighter words.

Or at least that’s the hope!

It’s hard to believe it’s been 200 posts.  I still shake my head and wonder what I managed to find to write about 200 times.  I can only recall a handful of them, the others have slipped away, so attached to the moment in which they were written that now the moment has passed it is as though the words have disappeared as well.

I have learned a lot in writing 200 posts.  I have learned very little about the actual art of writing, but that was never the point anyway.  Rather I have learned about my own ability to stick with something, which I never believed possible in the beginning.  Although I told myself this time would be different, in the back of my mind I thought I would be lucky to churn out more than a dozen posts before getting lost in the day-to-day.  I thought this would once again get pushed to the back-burner, simmering gently, ignored, until finally it would boil dry and be forgotten.

But it didn’t.

This time I decided I wasn’t going to let it be forgotten.  I wasn’t going to deny myself the peace and tranquility that has always come from putting the words down on paper.  I wasn’t going to get in my way, again.

And so I stuck with it; realizing over time that it’s not about how many people read the words I write, but rather the fact that I write them at all.

So I’m going to continue to write. I’m going to continue to look around this little world of mine and see what stirs my heart, see what prickles my eyes with tears and tickles my mouth with a smile.  And when I’m touched by something I’m going to write about it and stick it up here as a reminder that I stuck with it.

Just me and my polka dots.

Here in my palace.

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I wonder about you; the people who read what I write. I wonder what you’re doing right now, right in this moment as you read these words.

Blogging has put me in touch with some amazing people and I have been surprised at the level of connectedness that I feel, considering we’ve never met. However, I also feel at a bit of a loss that I can’t see you, can’t see the look on your face when you read what I’ve written. Do you smile, do you cry, do you get halfway through and then delete and move along?

Whenever I hit “publish” and send these words out into cyberspace I wish I could be there when they land. I wish I could see where you are, what you are doing. Are you reading these on your computer while you sit at work, wasting away the hours? (Don’t worry, I won’t tell)! Do you read them on your phone while you eat a bowl of cereal over the kitchen sink? Are your kids yelling in the background? Is your doorbell ringing, the TV blaring?

If you looked up from these words right now, what would you see? Is there a window nearby that you can look out? Is it daytime or dusk? Is it raining or shining? Is the wind gently shaking the leaves from the trees and blowing them past where you sit?

Are you tired after a long day, taking a few minutes to relax before you call it a night? Or is it the morning and you sit sipping the day’s first cup of coffee?

It is the juxtaposition of being a writer. We are story tellers but rarely, if ever, do we get to be there when our stories are consumed. We know the intention behind what we are trying to express but often never know if the message was received as we intended.

Instead we have to trust that the words we chose were the right ones. We have to trust that they reached those who read them at the right time; at the moment they were most needed.

I control these words, these thoughts that I put on paper, for only as long as I write them. After that they are out of my control. I can’t sit there beside you as you read them, although I wish I could.

So I finish these words, send them off to you and wonder.

I wonder what you’re doing and seeing and feeling.

Right now.

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