Thursday, January 31, 2013

Describe five strengths you have

I'm tackling another topic off the The Thirty Things List.

This one isn't that easy as I'm not that good at tooting my own horn but if I don't, who will? 

Here goes:
Compassion and empathy for others
I like to think I have compassion and empathy for others and the struggles they go through. The wisdom of age and my own struggles have given me more insight into how others feel. After the death of our baby girl due to forceps injuries, I saw loss in such a different light and am more touched by others’ grief than before when I felt distanced from it. Now I know truly how they feel since I’ve been there and I try to take action and be supportive.

I think I am a very creative person and I came to the conclusion a while ago that this creativity is part of who I am and needs to be expressed or I feel like a drudge. I love all the arts and have been involved in writing, art, music and drama all through my life.

I feel this connection to my soul and time stands still when I create. It’s like a magical process that I constantly need to tap into. I get inspired by creativity around me in music, films and art and I long to relive the beauty by expressing my own creativity. When I don’t get to be creative because of procrastination or being busy with other things, life is so unsatisfying and I grow restless and unhappy.

I am a person who feels things deeply which is both good and bad. My feelings are often very intense and over the top which can be annoying for those who have learned to hide behind a controlled facade. With me, what you see is what you get.

I’ve always been overly sensitive which can sometimes be a curse in a world that is often unkind and cruel. But I truly believe it’s better to be passionate about things than to be cold or apathetic, distancing yourself or not allowing yourself to feel. I know people like that and I pity them. They are missing out on what it’s like to be truly alive. Maybe they are protecting themselves from feeling hurt or disappointment but what a price to pay.

Childlike joy for life
My inner child often bursts out of me with joy and exuberance. I can tap into my little Cathy so easily. She’s still there dancing her little heart out and often comes out to play. She knows how to dance in the rain and can be awfully embarrassing at times. Still, I love my little Cathy because she is so much fun. She loves to laugh, is so spontaneous and creative, and she knows all about joy and being in the moment. I wish she’d come out more often to cheer up middle-aged Cathy who can often be so cynical and resigned, thinking that her best years are behind her and that she should have done more with her life.

Dependable and Loyal
My family and friends are important to me and I feel intense loyalty towards them. I try my best to have integrity, be dependable and do what I say I’m going to do. I hate being let down by others and know the disappointment I’ve felt in the past when people acted like I wasn’t important enough to follow through on their promises. I don’t want others to feel that way. Sometimes I mess up and let people down but I always admit my mistakes and apologize right away. My intentions are always good and I try my best to follow through.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pet Peeves

  1. Whining, negative people who find fault with everything but never lift a finger to make the world better. Get off your butts and help change things if you don’t like it.
  2. Selfish people who talk, talk, talk about me, me, me and never listen to what anyone else has to say. Shut up already, let others talk and listen for change. It isn’t always all about you!
  3. Rude people who butt in line acting like you’re invisible or talk loudly on their cell phones again acting like you’re invisible.
  4. Fake people who only act nice when they want something from you. Otherwise they could care less about you. The workplace is bad for this with so much sucking up and pretense going on.
  5. Snotty people who like to act superior and full of self importance, acting condescending towards others. You’re no better than the rest of us.
  6. Hmm, can you tell I get annoyed about inconsiderate people? Okay, now for something completely different. Stray socks drive me crazy. I can’t stand trying to match up stray socks. Aagh! The dryer must really gobble them up as they disappear regularly. Or maybe it’s Loup, our Malamute who enjoys chewing on socks. That must be it. He sneaks in and steals them. Well, he can have the whole basketful of stray ones. I quit!
  7. Not changing the toilet paper or paper towel roll. I guess they’re waiting for the paper roll fairy to show up and do it. She shows up eventually but she’s very bitchy about it.
  8. Dirty dishes lying around. If you use a dish, pick it up and put it in the dishwasher. Once again they must be waiting for the dish fairy, a cousin of the paper roll fairy.
  9. Clutter is a constant pet peeve and yet I feel so utterly helpless to keep it under control. I’m always drowning in papers, books, bags and assorted this and that. I’ve tried to get organized but it only works for a short time and then it’s back to being cluttery again. Sigh. And you multiply this by 4 with the rest of the family and no wonder the house is a mess.
  10. Change room fluorescent lights and mirrors. They are just pure evil!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I love musicals!

I’ve loved music right from childhood and I sing in a choir, play flute accompaniment with the choir, and with a community band and with my harpist friend. I can’t imagine life without music. It fills me with such joy and passion like nothing else does.

Music is such a personal thing. I’ve always been fascinated by how a piece of music can touch me so deeply while to another person, they are bored or turned off by it. It’s definitely something for scientists to ponder but I prefer to think of it as something magical and mysterious.  

I've seen "Les Miserables" twice and would love to go for a third time. The music is so passionate and clever and I have so much admiration for the talented composers who created it.

I loved the film's technique of having them sing right there in the scene instead of recording them in the studio and then having them lip synch later. It brought a gritty realism and emotion to the story that enhanced the film so much.

I loved the tragic characters in “Les Miz” and got so caught up in their stories. Usually I don’t like sad movies but this one was different somehow. I couldn’t help but be moved, especially by Jean Valjean’s story. And I loved Hugh Jackman and Eddy Redmayne in their roles. *Wipes drool from keyboard* 

I’ve always adored musicals and the idea of telling the story through music is so much fun. “Sound of Music “and “Oliver” are favourites right from childhood. And who can resist “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady?” I even enjoy the corny musicals of the 1950s like “Singin in the Rain”, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, “American in Paris”, and “The Music Man.” We have a local musical theatre group nearby and I always look forward to their yearly productions.

And don’t even get me started about my love for animated musical films as I’m an animation lover from way back. I even met my hubby at an animation studio where we were working as opaquers painting cartoon cells but that’s another story for another blog post.

As a child, I was captivated by musical films such as “Bambi”, “Snow White”, “Cinderella” and many others. Then I got to indulge in my passion some more when I had my own kids and could take them to see animated movies like “The Lion King”, “Quest for Camelot” and “Aladdin.” My kids are older now but I still  love animated musical films and always will.

So much emotion and passion comes out in a musical as the story unfolds. How can anyone not be moved by it? And yet some people can’t stand musicals and think they’re silly. My husband dislikes my recording of the “Les Miserables” stage production. He says they sound like they’re shouting all the time. I tell him that’s why I like it so much, because the passion and emotions are so over the top. I can’t help but be moved by the characters and their stories.

Watching a musical is pure escapism and fun for me, a guilty pleasure that I would happily indulge in at any time. It fills me with joy and passion like nothing else and I long to have that feeling again and again. 

Anyone want to join me as I go see “Les Miserables” for a third time? ;)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What is your dream job and why?

I decided to have some fun with the next topic on the 30 things list.

What is your dream job and why?

I’ve never had a dream job so don’t know what they’re like. I’ve had lots of drudge jobs but I’m sure you don’t want to hear those Cinderella stories.

I have a good imagination that works overtime, so I can imagine what a dream job might be like.

The morning breaks to a lovely warm summer's day without any humidity. I have my hunky chauffeur Andre drive me to work. He’s such a great guy. Must give him a raise one of these days. And he’s a good driver, too. *wink*

I stop at Starbucks to get a Grande Skinny vanilla Latte and then I take the elevator and arrive at my writing job in my elegantly decorated office with my name in gold letters on the door. My office is full of tropical plants and flowers,  decorated by the best designer in town, sparing no expense. And I love how my desk faces the big window overlooking the river.

Boxes of Belgian chocolates and roses cover my desk. All those agents clamoring to be the one to represent me. They know how much I love chocolate, the dears. And all those messages from those editors eager to meet with me to sign the next book deal.

I turn on my ultra new state of the art laptop and look at my email and Facebook for several hours until lunchtime. Those deadlines can wait!

The boss and my publisher, Gretchen is absolutely thrilled to see me and calls me into her office. Of course she praises the work on the latest story I’m writing and gives me yet another raise. So imaginative she says. You’re brilliant, Cathy!  Yes, indeed.  I’m that good. Yep, I am.

That cute hunk Brad who works in the office next to me drops by to ask me to lunch of course and of course I accept. We eat our fattening expensive five course lunch at the best Italian restaurant in town, charging it on my expense account. Of course all that pasta and sauce won’t make me gain an ounce. I have a fancy chocolate dessert and coffee for dessert, naturally.

Brad tells me that he likes older women and I believe him. I do. He begs me to run off with him and I say I’ll think about it. We make plans to meet for dinner later.

On my return, all my girlfriends rush into my office to ask about my lunch date. No one is jealous, ever undermines me or talks behind my back. They just want to know the details to liven up their dull little lives. I understand. Hey, they all love me here. No jealousy. No animosity. No office politics. Non existent. It’s a dream job, remember.

I assure them he is totally dreamy and hot just as we thought. I don’t tell them he wants to run away with me. Don’t want to make them too envious. Even dream jobs aren’t perfect when it comes to that kind of thing.

I get back to a bit of writing interspersed with Facebook lurking and blog posting. Hey, networking is important, isn’t it? And I need to do a bit of research for my story to find out about clothing for the early 1800s. Mmm, breeches and boots. Gotta love it. Google Images here I come. *Wipes drool from keyboard*

But first I need to check my friends’ statuses. And I need to look at a few cat videos and photos, followed by posting a few photos and inspirational quotes.

Finally I finish early for the day as I’m quite exhausted by this point and don’t want to overdo it. 

Besides, I have an exciting evening with Brad ahead of me and have to get home to get ready!  Toodleloo!

The 30 Things List

1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
3. Describe your relationship with your parents.
4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.
5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
7. What is your dream job, and why?
8. What are 5 passions you have?
9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.
10. Describe your most embarrassing moment.
11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
12. Describe a typical day in your current life.
13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.
14. Describe 5 strengths you have.
15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
18. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?
22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.
24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?28. What is your love language?29. What do you think people misundertand most about you?
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The hardest thing you've ever experienced

Taking another prompt from the list, I decided to write about the hardest thing I've ever experienced. I would have to say the death of our six-day-old baby girl from forceps injuries causing a brain hemmorhage, was the hardest thing.

It was twenty one years ago this February and I still think about it. Laura died mysteriously in her sleep one day after bringing her home. We never even knew anything was wrong with her which made it that much more shocking. Even now it's hard to understand why it happened. I've come to think of it like a car accident, unexpected and tragic. At one point, I was consumed with anger but I've had to let it go in order to go on. We have been fortunate to have two healthy boys since then, both good deliveries. I know other parents who have not been so fortunate.

Over the years, I have written countless journal entries, articles and poetry expressing my grief and coming to terms with the loss. I have also befriended other bereaved parents to share our pain and offer comfort. I've come to the conclusion that you don't go back to normalcy after such an experience. You incorporate the event into your life and try to keep going but it's there with you always like a scar. You're not the same person as before.

I think I'm more cynical and less idealistic than before Laura's death. I know that life's journey is full of struggle but there is so much beauty and goodness, too. The trick is to try and stay positive and be open to that goodness. I think I have more gratitude for all the good things as I know how easily it can all be taken away. I try to find joy in simple things and I try to show my gratitude and appreciation more than before. 

Each day is a gift and could end at any time so it's important to make the best of it and focus on important things like loving ourselves, loving those around us and helping make the world a better place.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ten things you would tell your 16 year old self if you could

I was a very shy and overly sensitive teen who would have benefited from this list. Often I held back from trying new things because I was afraid of failing or looking stupid. And when I did fail, I’d wallow in self pity for ages instead of getting on with it. 

I still have a tendency to be this way but the wisdom of age has helped a lot and I’m willing to put myself out there more often. If I mess up, so what? It doesn’t mean the world has ended. 

These days as I get older, I feel a sense of urgency to enjoy the moment more, worry less, laugh more and recapture that inner child where wonder and imagination live.

Ten things you would tell your 16 year old self if you could.
  1. Be happy with who you are and don’t try to be like someone else or compare yourself to them. They have their burdens just like you and no one’s life is perfect.
  2. In hard times, remember that they will soon pass and keep faith that you will get through it. Ask for support if you need it. No one needs to go it alone.
  3. It’s okay to have fears but it’s important not to let them paralyze you from living. Brave people face their fears and keep going through the fear. Talk to a caring friend or adult if it’s too much. And remember that you aren’t alone. Everyone is afraid of something but many people keep their fears hidden and are experts at pretending everything is fine.
  4. No one knows everything even if they try to give the illusion that they do. They have their strengths and their weaknesses just like you do. Perfection does not exist.
  5. Respect yourself and pick friends who respect you for the unique and special person you are. If they don’t, they’re not really your friend.
  6. Don’t get down on yourself for failure. Sure failure hurts and is a setback but it is also a huge learning experience that makes you grow. Don’t be afraid to start again after failing. All the great people in the world failed at some point but the main thing is that they didn’t give up.
  7. Love yourself and practice self love each day. Keep that Inner Critic from poisoning your thoughts with lies that make you feel hopeless and inadequate.
  8. Take time to be grateful for all the good things each day instead of focusing on what’s lacking in your life. You will feel much happier.
  9. Don’t take things so personally when someone hurts you with unkind words. It’s hard when you’re overly sensitive as most teens are. If you try and distance yourself, you’ll see that it’s not about you and is usually the other person’s problem. They feel insecure and making you feel badly makes them feel better about their own situation.
  10. Realize that you are totally unique and there will never be another you, ever. Let the world have the privilege of knowing you and share your strengths and talents. The world will be a better place as a result and you will find happiness and purpose through giving of yourself.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

20 Random Things About Me. Narcissism at its finest!

I got this idea from the 30 Things List I saw on this woman's blog. Since I love prompts to get me writing, I thought I'd give it a go.

I debated whether to post the first one as it does seem a bit narcissistic to write a list all about me, me, me. IT'S ALL ABOUT MEEEEEEEEEEEEE! *Head swells to the size of a football field. Snaps back to reality and am alone in my living room with only the cat for an audience* Uh, where was I?

People have the choice if they want to read this or not so I thought I'd post it. At least these prompts get me writing again. I think I'll try number 2 next. I like having a topic to write about rather than looking at a blank screen waiting for divine inspiration. Prompts work well for me. How about you?

20 Random Things About Me

1. I am shy and introverted but am prone to embarrassing outbursts of extroversion on occasion. Just ask my teen sons who are embarrassed by it. And I don’t mind singing and playing a flute in front of people. Go figure. I don’t understand it myself really.

2. I have played flute for nearly 40 years and took it up by accident when the computer gave me music in my grade 9 timetable when I’d asked for typing. I think of it as a fortunate serendipitous event that changed my life for the better. Playing music enriches my life so much.

3. I adore cats and am quite feline myself as I’m aloof and independent but also affectionate and loving. My nickname is Cat. I’m even growing whiskers and can show my claws and teeth on occasion if cornered.

4. I lived in the Arctic in a tiny community called Gjoa Haven, almost at the North Pole on King William Island in the Arctic Ocean.

I survived the darkness and winter cold with temps near -60C with wind chill (always add wind chill, much more impressive ;) being isolated in Gjoa Haven for 8 months with hubby and my two boys who were 4 and 2 at the time. Aren’t you impressed by my endurance? Haha! We did have a nice house though and not an igloo.

5. I adore musicals of all kinds and often wish life could be like a musical. Sound of Music and Oliver are favourites right from childhood.  I love the latest film of “Les Misérables” It totally captivated me from start to finish with wonderfully authentic settings, costumes, makeup, acting and singing. It deserves all the praise and awards. As Wagner would say, it was gesamtkunstwerk.

6. I am very honest and wear my emotions openly. I dislike workplaces where people pretend in order to make themselves look good and get ahead.

7. I was an airforce kid who moved around a lot which was hard but a good education in learning about different places and learning to adapt.

8. I have ugly thumb nails covered with bumpy ridges and ugly big toes that poke through shoes. Guess I’ll give up my aspirations to be a hand and foot model.

9. I am a coffeeaholic. I can guzzle a whole pot in no time flat. That’s not a good thing, is it?

10. I am also a chocoholic. It’s taken all my strength to cut back in order to lose some weight at WW. I still indulge on occasion but not quite as much as before.

11. I enjoy lame chick flicks and reading predictable romances. Guilty pleasures just like eating the chocolate.

12. Jane Eyre, the BBC 2006 version with Toby Stephens as Mr. R. is one of my favourite movies. *Wipes drool off keyboard.*

13. I abhor commercialism and materialism with a passion. If the world would stop buying so much stuff that we don’t need, many of our problems would be solved. Unfortunately consuming seems to drive the economy.

14. I write a Facebook account for my Malamute, Loup, and I let my inner wolf come out in Loup’s voice. Great fun to say things in Loup’s saucy voice what I’d never have the courage to say myself. I often wish I had Loup's bravado as he is so bold and brash in real life and never has any doubts or lapses in self confidence. Full speed ahead with Loup.

15. I suck at math, science and logic. Give me creative right brain anytime.

16. I can be vague, scattered and dreamy. This seems to be worsening with age. I am also not much of a planner and my time management skills can be patchy at times unless I have a deadline. It drives organized, efficient people crazy when they have to deal with me. Hey, I get the job done even if it’s not the way they would do it.

17. I am fiercely loyal and devoted towards my friends but don’t cross me as I have a bad temper. I forgive but it takes a while.

18. I like thrift stores. Something so magical about the thrill of discovery once you get beyond the musty smell. I keep thinking I'd like to write a short story with a thrift store as the setting.

19. I have a good sense of humour and love to poke fun at life’s absurdities and at myself. I try not to take myself too seriously. I’m only a mere mortal full of flaws just like all other humans.

20. I like these numbered list thingies and enjoy articles with top ten tips for this and that. Something comforting to think it could all be summed up neatly in a list. I like making lists as they give me the illusion that I’m organized but then I lose or forget the lists due to number 16. Sigh. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Freewriting to start off the new year with baby steps

Freewriting seems like a good place to start at the beginning of a new year and when you’re in a slump, doesn’t it? Time to put the fingers to the keys and let her rip. Also I deleted my old blogs, except for my Malamute, Loup's blog. He wouldn't like it if I deleted that even if his blogs are sporadic. Kind of like clearing out the clutter. I had mixed feelings as I did that. Relief mixed with a twinge of sadness. That old me is gone and now I’m someone else who is older, maybe a bit wiser (though I'm not so sure some days) and similar but not the same as yesterday, a constant work in progress.

Something about this time of year puts me in a slump and I need to work hard to get out of it. Perhaps it’s the anticlimax of all the Christmas activity. Maybe it’s the lack of light in the Northern Hemisphere. Or it could be the lack of colour with the monochromatic bare trees and dirty snow that makes me want to forget all about writing and just eat chocolate, Facebook lurk, watch lame chick flicks and hibernate. Menopause doesn’t help either. Oh, and don’t forget to complain about the cold. Hey, I wouldn’t be Canadian if I didn’t complain about winter being too cold, too snowy, and too long. It’s the thing to do!

No one wants to read your writing, the Inner Critic yells. “Who do you think you are anyhow? Don’t you think you’re special writing a blog? Ha! No one will ever read it. You know that, don’t you?” He sits in the corner mocking me. “Give up already,” he says. “There are thousands of more talented writers out there. Why do you think you could compete with them? You’re crazy.”

I’m generally an upbeat, positive person most of the time and I am grateful for my life and all the good stuff. However, there are times when a dark cloud of doom hangs over my head and blocks the sunshine. It takes a lot of work to get myself out of these occasional slumps. Today is that kind of a day and I’m pushing myself to keep my head turned towards the sunshine. Maybe that’s why I enjoy positive quotes and daily affirmations of gratitude. They get my head in the right place for the day.

I tend to worry a lot that my writing is no good and that I’ll never make it. I’ve already been writing for about ten years sporadically and have published some things if that’s how success is measured. I haven't made much money and have forked out thousands over the years for courses, workshops and conferences.

People always say to me. Keep going. Keep it up. You’re almost there. Almost where? I don’t really know where I’m going so doubt I’ll get there. Make goals they say. Keep submitting. Fake it til you make it. You’re off to a good start. Should I be only at the beginning after ten years? Shouldn’t I be further along than this? I often wonder why I’m bothering with this whole writing thing. And yet to give it up completely is unthinkable.

I need to return to the whole reason I started writing in the first place. Not to become famous. Not to become rich. If I was doing it for those reasons, I would have given up by now. It ain’t happenin’. It’s not a road to riches, this writing thing.

I do it to express my tumultuous emotions and make sense out of the world around me. I do it to express my joy and gratitude for the good stuff and to vent when things aren’t going well.  I do it to share with others and to discover our universal humanity, despite our differences. I do my fiction to escape into a world where I'm in control of what happens. I can't always say the same thing for real life.

Writing comforts me when times are tough like when we lost our six day old baby to forceps injuries. Sharing with and supporting other bereaved parents helped me so much and it was the writing that connected us.

I’m afraid this freewriting has become one big whine fest and is certainly not one of my better pieces. The Inner Critic is shaking his head in disgust at me. “Give up, girl,” he says.

I turn to him and give him the finger as I post my first blog post in ages. 

You can’t get rid of me that easily.