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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

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.

Writing.

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.

 

rememberings

uncomfortable

not caring

thinking your thoughts

in the corner

hiding

 

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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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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Here it is grey.

Here it is a drizzly kind of day that forces you to remember your umbrella and cram your feet into your rain boots.  It is a day that encourages inaction and leaves you dreaming of hours spent on the couch, under a soft blanket, feet tucked up under you.

Here it is a day for quiet, a day spent living in your own head.

Here it is a day that will be lived and then forgotten; washed away by all of the rain that pours down.

Here it is the most regular of the regular kind of days.

But somewhere else, this day will be magic.

When I’m having a day of nothingness, I like to think that somewhere else, someone is having a day of amazingness.

Somewhere the stick will turn pink and eyes will fill with tears of joy.

Somewhere the ring will fit perfectly.

Somewhere eyes will meet across a crowded room and a love story will begin.

Somewhere a door will open and a first step will be taken on an amazing new adventure.

Somewhere a plane will take off, and a dream will come true.

Somewhere this is a day that will be remembered forever, celebrated forever, cherished forever.

Even if that somewhere isn’t here; it still makes me happy.  It makes me happy to think that somewhere out there, today will be someone’s best day.  I have had some pretty wonderful best days, and one day it will be my turn again.

And until then I will watch the rain fall outside my window, and celebrate someone else’s day.

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I had half an hour. An after-school errand took longer than expected and I would beat them home by about thirty minutes. I could empty the dishwasher or maybe fold the clothes that had been sitting in the dryer for the last two days. That would be practical.

I didn’t feel like being practical.

The sun was shining. I had the window of my car down just a crack. Spring had not yet arrived but it was close enough I was starting to imagine it. After months and months of winter I could finally see relief coming, just around the corner.

I was suddenly desperate to be outside. I needed to feel the air on my cheeks, the wind in my hair. Forget the dishwasher, I was going to use my thirty minutes for something much more productive.

I bolted upstairs as soon as my key turned in the lock. I quickly changed into workout pants and a hoodie, not caring if they were the pants that made my butt look big or if the hoodie had a pasta sauce stain on the front. I was almost frantic in my hurry, frantic to get outside, everywhere else suddenly seeming claustrophobic and stifling.

A quick stop for my sunglasses, ipod, shoes and I hit the front step at a jog. Then I stopped, breathing deeply, and the most incredible feeling of peace settled over me.

Feet on ground.”

So strange that those words would come into my head right at that moment.

Feet on ground.”

It took me a minute to place them and then I smiled.

Jann.

Of course it would be Jann. She has always had the words when I could not find my own.

Feet on ground.”

The words so perfectly described the feeling of that moment. For so long I have been floundering, flailing, lost. There has been instability, uncertainty, unsteadiness. But in that instant it was gone. My feet were on the ground; planted firmly, steady, strong. All of the things I had feared would never be.

Heart in hand.

The next line of the song came to me as I started to walk, automatically turning down the street on my preferred route. I could feel a smile start to tickle the corners of my mouth in the same instant that tears began to form in my eyes.

Heart in hand.”

The lyrics are from one of my all-time favourite Jann Arden songs. I have probably listened to it hundreds of times, each time the words taking on a new meaning, somehow filing whatever cracks I had. I wonder what it’s like to know your words can heal. That at any moment something you created can change someone’s life; someone you have never met. I think that must be pretty amazing, for your words to add depth and meaning to someone’s world.

Heart in hand, facing forward, be yourself.”

And for the next twenty minutes I walked. I took deep breaths and inhaled the changing air. A little bit of winter and a little bit of spring. One foot in the past and one in the future.

Change.

And as I climbed the last hill that stood between me and my return home I felt a sob catch in my throat. But for the first time in so long it was not of sadness but rather of relief, understanding and hope.

Thank you for your words Jann, again and again and again.

Thank you.

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I want to have more, and do less.

More time, more money, more freedom, more laughter, more breath, more clarity, more quiet.

Less work, less chaos, less hurrying, less mess, less waiting, less misunderstanding, less loud.

That’s all I want; not too much to ask?

Only I don’t know how to get more of this, and less of that.

Because the more I try, the less I do. The more I think, the less I understand. The more I question, the less I answer.

It really should be simple.

Or maybe it is.

Maybe it is, but I make it more difficult.

More of the good stuff; less of the bad.

Words to live by.

More or less.

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baby

Image credit: happytag.blogspot.ca

I see you there with your new baby wrapped in your arms, your eyes full of tears and your mind full of all the hopes and dreams you have for them.

As I see you wishing a hundred different wishes for them, I have a few of my own for you – the new mother.

I wish you the strength to trust your own instincts because although you may doubt that you have any, you do. You just need to quiet the hundreds of voices offering a thousand pieces of advice long enough to hear them. No one knows your baby better than you. Trust that, and trust yourself.

I wish you the vision to not lose sight of yourself and the needs you have as a person, separate from the needs of your baby. Your opinions matter, your feelings matter, your wants and needs matter. Yes your baby is important, but so are you.

I wish you a circle of mothers to surround you; women who love you enough to tell it like it is. Not to scare or depress you but so that in your darkest hour, when you sit on the floor of your baby’s room, tears streaming down your face wondering if you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life, you will not feel alone. We have all felt that way. Wrongly thinking you are the only one makes it a hundred times worse.

I wish you the knowledge that every moment, good or bad, is fleeting. This too shall pass, whether you want it to or not. Accept that the minutes and hours will seem endless but the months and years will go by in an instant. There are many moments you will wish to forget, but also so many you wish you could hold onto forever.

I wish you the ability to cut yourself some slack. You can’t do it all; some of the balls you are juggling will fall to the ground and that’s okay. Maybe you’ll pick them up, maybe you won’t. Life will go on whether you finish the baby book or not.

I wish you a group of true friends who knew you before you became a mother and stick with you after. Friends who realize it may take you a few days to answer an email and accept without question why you have to bring your breast pump to dinner. People who know visiting the baby is one thing, but coming over with a home-cooked meal and a genuine desire to fold the laundry is a thousand times better.

I wish you the understanding that happiness exists in moments, but true contentment lasts much longer. There will be moments of bliss so pure that you will literally feel your heart breaking, but they cannot and will not last. If you expect them to, you will live your life in disappointment. Strive for contentment, acceptance, and the ability to wait in peaceful anticipation of the next moment of bliss, whenever it may come.

I wish you the patience to deal with people who criticize and judge. You can’t control how much their words will hurt, but you can control how long you let them sting.

I wish you the wisdom to accept help when it is offered. If someone wants to cook you dinner or do the dishes or change a diaper, let them. Doing everything yourself does not make you a better mother, and at the end of the day, you’ll be the only one keeping score.

And most of all I wish that one day you will gain the confidence to realize that you are doing a great job at this motherhood thing; no matter how loudly the voices in your head try to tell you otherwise.

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