Friday, January 30, 2015

Have a Lucky Cardinal Day!

Are the starlings driving you crazy?
Being so annoying, so rude and lazy,
They love to squabble and act so greedy
Incredibly pushy and oh, so needy,

Don’t let the starlings get you down
Mr. Cardinal is back in town,
Annoying starlings don’t bother him
He just laughs from the evergreen limb,

Bright and colourful, chirping with glee
He sings his song from the top of the tree,
Always positive and always happy
Looking so dapper, sharp and snappy,

His cheerful presence makes me glow
He lifts me up when I’m feeling low,
It’s a lucky day when he drops by
He makes me feel like I could fly!

So chase those pesky starlings away!
And have a Lucky Cardinal Day!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Are you an Artist? #MondayMusings

Are You an Artist?

Do I have to make artwork that dazzles the masses?

Do I have to pay money and take lots of classes?

Do I have to sell art for a very large sum?

Do I have to wear black and be totally glum?

Do I have to suffer terribly in order to create?

Do I have to have a big ego and think I’m great?

Do I have to network, see and be seen?

Do I have to act like a Drama Queen?

Don’t worry and stress, it’s never too late

To be an artist, I just have to CREATE!

I am writing this in response to the prompt 
at Write Tribe for Monday Musings - Are You an Artist?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Eat More Chocolate, Drink More Coffee and other Writing Resolutions for 2015

I thought the idea of eating more chocolate and drinking more coffee might pique your interest about my resolutions. Did it work? Hope so! ;)

Seeing the word “resolutions” is intimidating to read on the page and even harder to put into practice. 

At least I’ve taken the first step by writing down what I’d like to achieve which is often the hardest part of all. If you don’t know what you want, you sure won’t achieve it.

This year I want to take my writing more seriously with goals and deadlines as I have so many writing projects in various states of completion.

I have tons of short stories and some unfinished novels that beg to be revived again. The main problem is I can never decide what project I want to work on.  Which one is most important to me? 

Just the prospect of having to decide makes me procrastinate further. Usually I do what I always do and start something new which makes for even more unfinished projects. Or I drink coffee and eat chocolate while I ponder my predicament. Hey, any excuse to drink more coffee and eat more chocolate, right?

As a person who isn’t naturally organized and flits from one thing to another, getting structure and a schedule are a continuing challenge. That’s why I enjoy taking courses and belonging to writing groups for the structure, goals, challenges, accountability and deadlines.

I find I’m great at starting a project with all the enthusiasm and energy that the Muse can provide. After a while that energy and enthusiasm tends to wane, especially if the work has been rejected or I’ve had it critiqued and it needs revisions to improve it.  

Face it, revisions are hard work! They certainly aren’t as fun as that first draft where your fingers are flying and you’re filled with the magic of the Muse as you scramble to get all your ideas onto the page. Still, proofreading, editing, and revising are so necessary for making a piece shine and stand out.

This year I want to revive some of these stories and bring them to life again for possible submission to markets. 

I also want to continue blogging regularly for that feeling of accomplishment I get from completing a post. Blogging makes me feel like a writer and I love being able to connect with my words and photos as well as get to know other bloggers and support their wonderful blogs.

Do any of you have tips you’d care to share about how you manage to stay on track and motivated enough to finish your writing projects?

What are your writing resolutions for 2015! I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wordy Wednesday - What is it that I really want to say?

I wrote this short story of 300 words in response to the sentence prompt at Blog-A-Rhythm of "What is it that I really want to say?"

Wordy Wednesday at BAR

Love this new badge Sid designed to inspire us further.

“What is it that I really want to say?” Brendan held his pen poised above the heavily scrawled paper.

“Who’s the mystery girl?” his best friend, Maddy asked. “It better not be that awful Janessa you went out with last term. She’s so not worth it.”

 “No, it’s not. She only wanted me to drive her around and pay for stuff,” Brendan said making a face.

The librarian glared and put her finger to her lips.

“Forget the letter. Tell her how you feel in person,” whispered Maddy.

“I’m confused,” he said, his voice breaking. He ripped the paper up and threw the pieces into the library’s recycling bin. Running off, he disappeared into the crowd before Maddy could catch up.

A few hours later, Maddy found him sitting on a swing at the playground next to the high school.

“I’ve been looking for you. When you weren’t in English class, I got worried.” Maddy sat down on the swing next to him. “Remember how we used to spend hours here?”

“I remember,” Brendan replied. He stopped swinging and looked down at his feet.

“What’s wrong? Can’t you tell your best friend about it?” Maddy said.

Brendan swallowed and hesitated. He looked Maddy right in the eyes.

“I want us to be more than just friends. Do you think you could ever see me that way?”

Maddy broke into a big smile that lit up her face. She leaned towards Brendan and touched her forehead against his. “I’ve known we were destined to be more than just friends since I was ten and now we’re almost eighteen.”

“Guess I’m a bit slow.” Brendan reached for Maddy’s hand and squeezed it.

“I’ll say,” Maddy said with a mischievous giggle. “Now shut up and kiss me. I’ve been waiting eight years already!”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#MicroblogMonday - Small Actions Do Make a Difference

My family has a band made up of me on flute, my husband on bass clarinet, one son on tenor sax and the other on drums. We play music at the Presbyterian church we attend every third Sunday. 

Our church congregation are a traditional, conservative bunch, not known for displaying too much emotion and often I assume that no one cares much if we play or not.

Yesterday I was at a funeral for one of the members. A woman came up to me and told me how much she loves to see my sons perform and how the music just pours out of us. She always looks forward to the Sundays when we are performing and how much our music means to her.

Her appreciation for our music reminded me that even small actions can have a big impact.

It also reminded me that if someone does make a difference, it’s important to thank them and show your appreciation. Never assume that people know already as often they’re like me and don’t think that these small actions are a big deal.

Never underestimate the good you can do in the world by your small actions and your appreciation of others. These small things make more of a difference than you realize.

I am writing this post as part of the Microblog Mondays linkup over at What is MicroBlog Mondays?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Being Creative Takes Courage and Perseverance

I can sure relate to this cartoon as I'm sure you can, too. How many of us feel that way when we set out to do anything creative? 

There is that initial surge of enthusiasm and energy when we try to get our wonderful idea out of our head and visualize it, whether it's a drawing, painting, acting, writing or music. 

The hard part is when the inner critic (or Abuse as she's called in Hilary Price's cute cartoon) arrives and starts to poke holes in it telling us how bad it is. 

It certainly isn't made any easier when we have people being indifferent or critical about our great idea. All of a sudden, self doubt sets in and all that enthusiasm vanishes. Maybe it was a crummy idea and why bother?

How do we overcome all this negativity and persevere? That's the challenge of the creative person and one well worth tackling. 

I think we have to remember why we're being creative in the first place. If people like your work or you make money from it, that's great but you can't depend on that all the time. I think you have to love doing it first of all. You need to remind yourself of why you're creating to sustain you through the rough times that come to every creative person sooner or later.

I had a Eureka moment several years ago that being creative was part of me like my red hair, bad temper and overly sensitive nature. 

When I went through hectic times where I couldn't express myself creatively, I would often feel robotic and drudge like. Now I see that creativity makes me feel whole and is essential for my overall health and well being. 

Yesterday I did my first portrait/life drawing class in over 30 years as I haven't done any since the 1980's as part of my graphic design course. I must admit I was nervous when I first arrived as I've been carrying around an old story in my head that I can't draw realistically and not to bother. "Just stick with your cute cats and girls in puffed sleeves, Cat," the voice would always tell me in a condescending way.  

I felt a bit stiff and unsure doing my self portrait from looking at myself in a mirror. As the class progressed, I felt more relaxed and I think my drawing loosened up, too. Here is one of the self portrait sketches that I did. 

The people in the class were very friendly and welcoming. There was no pressure to compete and no worries about getting a good mark. The teacher was helpful in her criticism, but not mean and destructive like other teachers I've known in the past.

How wonderful to take a class for pure enjoyment without worry of the outcome and I made some new friends, too. 

Overall it was a positive experience and I look forward to rekindling this love of drawing that I've had since childhood. 

It's never too late to start again with a fresh perspective!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Facing My Fears

Today I will confront my demons and fears
The ones that have plagued me for many years,
Telling me that my artwork is bad
Making me feel incredibly sad,

You’re not good enough, Cat, so you’d better quit
Do something else that’s a better fit,
Get a real job that pays real cash
Toss that artwork in the trash,

Why do I listen to that annoying voice?
After all, it’s entirely my choice,
The inner critic is harsh and cruel
Giving in to him is like giving him fuel,

It’s all just a story I’ve been telling for years
One plagued with doubts and so many fears,
I won’t let the inner critic have his way
I’ll rewrite the story, starting today!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Never-Ending Winter

I wrote this story for the Wordy Wednesday challenge over at Blog-A-Rhythm
using the phrase "Never-ending winter" that I provided for this week's phrase.
Gee, I don't know where I got that inspiration!

Look at our cool new badge for Blog-A-Rhythm designed by Sid Balachandron. 
I am proud to be part of the fun and supportive blogging group, Blog-A-Rhythm 
headed by Shailaja Vishwanath. 
Thanks for all you're doing to make it such a fun group, Shailaja!

300 words 
Lisa wrenched the frozen car door open and tried to avoid the vicious wind. Mundane Monday mornings were hard enough but when it was a dark and stormy January in Canada, they were agony.

She put the key in the ignition. The motor turned over once, gave a few feeble sputters and died.

“I hate never-ending winter!” Lisa cried, her breath coming out in puffs that fogged up the windshield.

She got out of the car and returned to the house. The car keys slipped out of her glove and disappeared. She leaned over and stuck her hand in the snow, trying to search in the darkness.

“Crap! I hate winter. I wish I was down South!” she yelled.

At that instant, a huge swirling squall of snow knocked her over and she fell head first into a snow bank.

She felt warm sun caress her winter-weary body and she sighed in contentment. 

Opening her eyes, she found herself lying on a beach chair with a view of the ocean waves lapping the sand. Palm trees whispered and swayed above her in the tropical breeze, like soldiers on guard.

She closed her eyes and sipped her pina colada brought to her by that sexy waiter, Giorgio.

A cold sensation made her yelp and gave her a jolt.

 Snow slipped down her back, melting into icy rivulets.

“Are you okay?” her husband Jack asked, helping her out of the snowbank.

“The car won’t start and I lost the keys.”

“There’s a big storm. Why don’t you call in sick?”

“Sounds like a good idea,” Lisa agreed.

Once they were inside, Jack showed her two tickets. “How would you like to go to Cuba on a romantic vacation, just the two of us?”

“That's fantastic!” Lisa said. Mundane Monday was shaping up.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Gratitude Rhyme for a Monday

I am linking up to Laurel Reagan's Gratitude Link for the week on her Alphabet Salad Blog. Laurel's Gratitude List Why not add your list, too?

I think in these troubled times, it's even more important to be grateful for everything we have as you just never know what tomorrow will bring.

I am grateful for longer days and moments of sun
I am grateful when I get my blog posts done,
I’m grateful for friends both near and far
Thanks to you all wherever you are!

I’m grateful for my furry friends with paws
They still love me in spite of my flaws
I’m grateful that I saw the cardinals on the snow
I wish they’d come more often to say hello,

I’m grateful for winter, a time to ponder
A time to reflect, a time to wonder
I’m grateful to be alive for another day
There isn’t much more that I can say!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beating the January Doldrums

It’s hard to stay upbeat during the dark cold days of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Up here in Canada, it can be especially harsh as the frigid winter days drag on and we know there will be no relief until the end of April. 

It’s difficult not to get a bit depressed and succumb to bad habits of being a couch potato watching lame chick flicks, drinking too much coffee, baking and eating too much comfort food. Not that I do that of course! *looks away and whistles*

This is a month we have to work extra hard to keep our mood positive and optimistic and not succumb to those dreaded January doldrums. The excitement, lights and colour of Christmas have passed and January seems very bland in comparison. 

Even the novelty of the new year starting with all its possibilities starts to wear a bit thin if you feel you’re not keeping up on all your goals and resolutions.

I imagine in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere it can be dull and grey with lots of rain which can be more depressing than the snow at times.

How can we make January a more fun and upbeat month when we’d just like to hibernate until spring?

A few of my strategies are:

Get outside for some exercise to appreciate winter's beauty and soak up some sunlight (when there is some that is). It could be something as simple as taking a walk or taking photos. Winter can be beautiful as you can see by this photo I took of my dog Loup yesterday. Winter is definitely his season and is when he looks his best. He loves winter and is such a snow dog!

Then there is this other photo I took yesterday of my favourite bird, the cardinal who visits the feeder occasionally. 

Whenever Mr. C appears, I’m convinced it’s a lucky sign. His beautiful red plumage brightens up the dullest winter day.

Winter can be funny, too, as this squirrel has figured out how to get on the wire that the hubs put up, thinking for sure he had solved the squirrel problem. Nothing defeats a squirrel. You have to admire their perseverance even if they are pesky creatures who like to empty the feeders and make a big mess.

If you’re more adventurous, how about skiing, skating or snowshoeing? I'm not that sporty but do enjoy skating on the Rideau Canal or cross country skiing in the woods.

Get out and interact with people. The computer is great but actual face-to-face interaction with people is also important to ensure you don’t get cabin fever and feel too isolated. I have signed up for some in-person courses to push me out of my computer chair and out of my comfort zone.

Having things to look forward to is important. Meet a friend for coffee. Plan a trip somewhere if you can afford it. Even a day trip somewhere new can be fun. Go to a movie or a live show. Go to an art gallery or museum. Sign up for a course and learn something new or try a new sport. 

Read a book. Lots of people are doing book challenges like my fellow bloggers, Shilpa Garg Shilpa's blog and Corinne Rodrigues Corinne's blog. I don’t know if I’m as ambitious as them to read all those books but I do like the idea of reading different kinds of books and broadening my interests. And with access to our wonderful online library where we can order whatever book we want, there is no excuse not to read more books.

Clear out some clutter and donate some of your unwanted stuff. You'll feel good for making more space and for donating. A win-win situation. Of course this is one I'm always working on as the clutter seems to grow and grow just like the dust bunnies. I just get rid of some of stuff, and a new load takes its place.

Go volunteer and help the community. You’ll both feel good about it. I play flute with my harpist friend and sing Alto 2 in a choir. My favourite part about doing my music is sharing it with others. I love it when we do concerts in the community, especially for the seniors who are always so appreciative.

Winter doesn’t have to be a prison sentence and should be embraced and celebrated. It’s here for a long time so we might as well just accept and try to enjoy it.

How do you fight the January doldrums or do you manage to stay upbeat, despite it all?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

It's Peculiar People Day!

Did you know that January 10th is Peculiar People Day? Peculiar People Day 

You do have to wonder how they come up with these unusual days but this is a fun one for a drab winter's day in January so why not?

Are you a Peculiar Person or do you know someone who is?

I like to think I’m peculiar and unique as we all do.

However, I’m pretty conservative and not as peculiar as some eccentric types who like to draw attention to themselves.

Let’s celebrate being peculiar today. It beats the heck out of being normal which is downright dull.

Peculiar People are everywhere
All you have to do is look,
What about that guy with spiky green hair
Or that girl always reading a book,

One guy rides his bike in winter weather
Peculiar and dangerous, too,
Or what about that girl who wears all that leather?
Or the one who paints stripes on her shoe,

Did you see the guy walk backwards down the hall
Now that’s peculiar and weird,
Or what about the girl who draws on the wall
You know, the one with a beard?

I think it’s great to be unique
Why be normal and sane?
I like to be peculiar
Peculiar people reign!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Blog Delurking Week 2015

I first heard about Blog Delurking Week on my blogging friend Laurel Reagan Laurel's blog Alphabet Salad and then from my other blogging friend, Shailaja Vishwanath Shailaja's blog The Moving Quill. Of course I had to come up with my own post on this topic. Can't let them have all the fun!

(This badge was created by Melissa, and she has kindly given permission to use it to anyone who wants to do their own International Blog Delurking Week 2015 post.)

I am so lucky to have wonderful blogging friends like Laurel and Shailaja who share the ups and downs with me on this writing journey. 

We all appreciate the time, effort and creativity that goes into writing a post. It takes work but it’s definitely a labour of love, right, gals?

I know folks are busy and it’s often hard to find time to leave a comment on a blog. It does mean a lot to bloggers though. We work hard on our posts and like to share them with our readers. Often it can be a lonely pursuit where we feel we’re talking to ourselves. It's hard to know who's reading our blogs, except from the comments.

Nothing brightens my day more than to see some comments and hear that someone liked my post or it touched them in some way.

In honour of Blog Delurking Week, I have written a poem for the occasion. Both Laurel and Shailaja know how much I like writing my poems. I enjoy writing them and hope people enjoy reading them but I never know for sure unless they tell me.

Lurkers lurk in cyberspace
They come and go without a trace,
They peek in shyly and watch from outside
But if you spot them they run and hide

It’s great that people read our work
But what is the reason why they lurk?
Bloggers are friendly and we really don’t bite
Maybe now and then, but only at night!

Lurkers, why not say hello?
Just comment in the box below!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Rainbows are Magical!

I am writing this for the Wordy Wednesday word prompt of "Rainbow" at Blog-A-Rhythm.

“Isn’t it magical? It’s our lucky day,” Judy pointed at a rainbow, its bright profusion of colours hanging like a magnificent banner in the sky.

“What nonsense. No such thing as luck. Besides, a rainbow is only sunlight going through raindrops, creating prisms that break the white light into a spectrum of colours,” Frank explained in his boring know-it-all tone.

What was Judy thinking when she agreed to go on this dud of a date that her sister set up? Was she that desperate? Frank was an absolute bore.

“Well, would you look at the time? I must be going,” Judy said looking at her watch. “Thanks for the date, Frank.” Maybe she could salvage the evening with a chick flick and some chocolate ice cream. Even waxing her legs would be a treat compared to this.

She ran off and collided with a handsome man gazing up at the sky.

“I am sorry,” he apologized. “I was looking at the rainbow. Isn’t it amazing?”

“It is,” Judy agreed, unable to pull her gaze away from his big brown eyes fringed with long lashes.

“Don’t you think rainbows are lucky? I sure do,” the man said with a warm smile that made Judy’s knees go rubbery.

“I agree. Hi, my name is Judy.” She put out her hand and he shook it.

“I’m Nick,” he said. Reluctantly she pulled her hand away but not before noticing that he didn’t wear a wedding ring.

Rainbows were lucky, indeed. The movie and ice cream could wait.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Take Action with Passion and Purpose

I’ve been trying to pick just one word as a theme to start the new year off right as many other blogging friends have been doing. It’s sure not as easy as it seems.

I could pick GRATITUDE or POSITIVE  or CREATIVE but I’ve been working on those for years already. I try to live with daily gratitude and stay positive even on difficult days. I seek out positive quotes and affirmations and subscribe to several newsletters. I try and be creative daily with my many projects in writing, music, photography or artwork.

I tend to be somewhat cautious and passive at times, a true introvert who enjoys observing the world around me. I remember when I was a kid feeling like I was invisible as if I was watching a movie. I tended to forget that I was in the starring role of my own movie and could change the script, the setting and the theme by my actions and attitude.

I’ve been thinking that rather than one word, a good phrase would be TAKE ACTION WITH PASSION AND PURPOSE.

Each day I need to take action on some small goal and finish it or take steps towards finishing a larger project.  It needs to be projects that are meaningful and that I’m passionate about and can tackle with purpose. I can have an impact on my world and don’t have to watch passively and wait for things to happen.

I affirm on this January 5th, that I will TAKE ACTION  with PASSION for what I’m doing and have a PURPOSE by either making the world a better place or growing more as a person.

Ready. Set. Go. 2015, I’m ready for you!

Do you have a word or phrase to guide you as a new year begins?