Five hundred and forty-nine

City living

I’m on my way to my parents’ house in the country to visit for a few days and breathe some fresh air.  I mostly love living in an urban area, but since my parents moved into a large property in the Niagara wine country, I am more drawn to getting out of the city.  I’ve always loved being in the fresh air, but as I get older, I hit a point where I get so frustrated with the crowds and pollution of the city that I need to leave.  I feel depressed and overwhelmed.  I get annoyed with the littlest things, like a piece of litter on the side of the street or a rude cashier.  I can’t take the noise of the construction or the smell of the body odour of the person sitting next to me on the streetcar.  I need to get out.  And so I leave the city, I breathe some fresh air, enjoy the quiet and go for walks in the trees, and then I come back and I’m refreshed for awhile longer.  I wonder if everyone feels this way, or is it only me?

It’s not just the grime of the city that bothers me.  I also get sick of the people.  I’ve found myself in a place and time where it seems the ideas of morals are shifting.  I get so angry when my friend speaks of her married friend who constantly cheats on his wife.  Unless his wife is okay with him sleeping around, he is a horrible person and I don’t want to hear about him – ever.  I’m sick of seeing some drunk guy try to fight some other drunk guy and knock over an innocent bystander.  I hate women who back-stab, or bratty children who have been taught no manners.  I’m sick of people who spend all their money on things they don’t need, then complain they don’t have enough money to pay rent, and yet walk past a homeless person and tell them they have no money to give them because they have as little as that person does (while wearing an expensive pair of jeans or carrying a Gucci purse).

I’m not religious, although my ideas of morals come from Christian foundations.  Am I just programmed to follow these rules of morality?  Or is this a natural human trait?  I guess we will never know the answer to that question.  I try to be open minded, but I draw the line when it hurts other people.  And maybe I’m being all high on my horse because I can be – because I don’t need to steal or lie to survive.  The thing is, I would be okay if someone stole food or money from me because if they didn’t do this they would starve. But it isn’t those people who make me angry.  It’s the man (or woman) in his suit with his good job, sleeping around on his wife, stealing money from his company so he can buy another big screen television, whose son watches him and models himself after his father.

I know I’m not perfect.  I don’t ever claim to be.  I know I have, to some degree, lied, stolen, cheated.  I try to learn from my mistakes.  Maybe it all comes down to one word: honesty.  Maybe if we were all honest the world would be a better place.  But of course there are pitfalls with too much honesty.  I don’t have any answers, just lots of questions.  I guess I just have to make my own decisions and follow my own moral code and try to surround myself with people who are similar to me.  And try not to worry about other people and their choices.  My friend’s cheating friend still makes me angry, but he’s not worth my energy.  And I need to make time to regularly get out of the city and escape to the country.  I obviously need that RIGHT NOW, as I can’t seem to stop ranting!

(As I finish this post, I’ve arrived at my parents’ house.  It’s interesting how a bit of fresh air adds a a different perspective.  Maybe I’m being too judgmental?)

No blog next week…

Next week, I’m taking a week off from the world, so there will be no blog.  I’m heading to Algonquin Provincial Park to hike, see the beautiful fall colours of the leaves, take in more fresh air (and a longer break from the city) and write the last bits of the book.  I will see you in two weeks with hopefully some amazing photos to share!

Five hundred and forty-two

Gratitude

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude.  As I get older, grow and change, I realize more and more the importance of being thankful for things that I have.  At the end of my yoga class today (I’m still doing yoga, left over from vegan month) I listed in my head some of the things I am grateful for: my family; friends; the fact that I have a job when so many others don’t; that I live in Canada where I can speak my mind and have many social services if I need to use them; my health; my brain; my ability to write; my working body (I had just finished yoga, so my body was on my mind).  I have been accused of being a hippy from time to time, and doing yoga while thinking of the things I’m thankful for is probably one of the reasons why.  I don’t think you have to be a hippy to feel gratitude, though.  Gratitude is a huge part of many religions and belief systems.  Thinking about those things that we are happy about make it easier to deal with the things we aren’t happy about and accept the things we can’t change.  I watched a video today by actress Amy Poehler answering a question about how to deal when we feel down about our bodies.  She gives some of the best advice I’ve ever heard, saying to be grateful for the things you love about your body and concentrate on those.  Here’s the video:

As I said earlier, there are many big things I’m grateful for, but there are also lots of little things.  I know many people have written books about the little things, but I thought for today’s weekly post I would share a few of the little things I’m thankful for.  I don’t think there can ever be too much gratitude in the world!

The few of the little things I’m thankful for:

  • When a friend calls me up out of the blue at the exact time when I really needed a friend
  • The ray of sunshine that comes in through my bedroom window in the mornings
  • A cuddle from my always warm boyfriend when I’m always cold
  • The moment when, although I will always be their “little girl”, I knew my parents thought of me as an adult
  • The smell of fresh air when I leave the city
  • A deep and unexpected conversation with a stranger that opens my mind to different possibilities
  • The feeling when I know I am in the exact right place I should be
  • Farmers’ markets
  • Riding my bike in the warm rain
  • The firemen who came to check up on a water leak on an electrical panel and flood at my work (this really did happen on Monday night)
  • The feeling of getting to the end of a book, not wanting it to be over, then finding out it is part of a trilogy
  • The opportunity to follow my dreams
  • My new age and creative friends who won’t let my logical brain completely take over and make decisions
  • My logical brain for not letting the creative side take over either
  • My brother for calling me yesterday when he was at the grocery to see if I needed anything, then buying me grapes just when I had a craving for them
  • The ability to get lost in a city, explore, then find my way again
  • The taste of a perfectly ripe tomato
  • Dark chocolate right before a certain time of the month (I’m sure this is on most women’s lists) – actually any time
  • Sitting on a patio, enjoying the last of the summer (And this is where I’m off to now.  I hope everyone has a fabulous day!)

Five hundred and fifty-five

Writing a book

Man, writing a book can be hard!  To all those people out there wanting to write a book, beware: it can be frustrating, emotionally draining and time consuming.  You can go through points where you don’t think you can finish and you’ve given so much to the book, you’re not sure there’s anything left to give.  BUT, I would highly recommend taking the plunge and giving it a go!  For me, it has also been inspiring, emotionally purging, and rewarding.  I’m a couple of weeks away from having a rough draft of the book finished and I’m feeling like I’m at the end of a marathon: a little tired, having pushed past the hump, gotten into a steady stride and am heading for the finish line.  Of course then there is the editing by me, my literary agent, then me again, and finally by the editor and publisher – as long as all goes to plan.  I’m excited about this next part.

As I approach the end, I’m feeling very reflective about the experience so far.  I’ve learned so much during the process of writing this book, especially considering the experiences I’m writing about are still fresh in my mind and heart. I did however face a lot of hurdles.  Here are a few of the problems I’ve faced, that perhaps other writers can relate to:

  • Portraying real people in my life –  I am using pseudonyms, but of course they are going to know who they are when they read it and I want to be as accurate as possible without hurting or angering anyone.
  • Writing about particularly emotional experiences – It’s been very cathartic to get onto paper all the emotions I’ve kept bottled up, but difficult.  There were moments during the 366 days that really affected me and sometimes other people that I love.  It was hardest to write about those personal times.  I have occasionally gotten so frustrated with having to relive and articulate these moments that I had to completely walk away from my computer for a day.  The difficulty of getting it out of me on to computer screen proved that they were still many issues I hadn’t dealt with completely, despite my trying to convince myself I was over them, and I had to deal with through the writing process.
  • Being honest with myself and the reader – There are things I did during the year that I’m not completely proud of – things that I would have done differently had I to do it over.  But alas, time doesn’t work like that and I can’t change the things I’ve done, only deal with them and try to do things better in the present and future.  What is that saying about giving strength to accept the things I can’t change and change the things I can, or something like that? (I’m writing this with very weak internet right now, so I’ll have to look it up later, but you get the point)
  • The dreaded procrastination –  There is always laundry to be done and tea to be made and Netflix to watch (especially when I get hooked on a series and “need” to watch the whole five seasons of it).  When I’m feeling uninspired, it is hard to write, and easy to do any of these other things.
  • Retreating into myself – There were also a few weeks where I became completely anti-social, ignored all my friends and family, and was a little down on how hard it was to finish a few of the chapters (I think I might have also been avoiding dealing with some of those emotional personal issues I talked about earlier).

Despite these times when I thought I wouldn’t be able to continue, I somehow managed to keep on deadline and I should be done the book by the end of the month, as planned!  I’m ready to have the main writing part finished and on to the editing and tweaking.

Overall, I’m feeling very positive about it.  I had a great meeting with my literary agent today.  I have gained so much more in terms of knowledge, skills, and personal growth, that far outweigh any negativity.  I have learned to look at the big picture and the small details simultaneously.  I have learned TONS about writing dialogue and extensive description, two aspects of writing that aren’t included in journalistic stories very often.  Finally, I’m really proud of what I’ve done so far.  I believe in myself and I believe in this book.  And whatever happens, I’m will have accomplished my goal.  I will have written a book.  Next goal: sell millions of copies!