There are moments in your life that are challenging; they put you to the test and leave you tired and broken. These moments are the ones that make you. You can give up or you can push through. If you’re lucky you’ll have people in your life that motivate you, that believe in you. People who lift you up and keep you stable. If you’re smart you’ll believe them when they say that it gets better, that everything will be okay, that you’ll be fine. All you have to do is let it ride.
“And yet, anything real, anything strong, was never easy. She’d been taught from an early age that the things that mattered most were the hardest to obtain.” ― Nora Roberts
After weeks of agonizing anxiety and paralyzing self-doubt I finally feel like I’m back to my old self. Words are finally flowing; slowly but with intention. My mind is churning over new ideas for this blog, for a few side projects, and even for some new short stories. My heart is full of joy and excitement for everything that’s coming this year. Wedding plans are in full swing and I’m thinking about documenting the journey on here. I hope you’ll stay tuned.
Photo from Ultralinx
When I was younger I was against looking back; moving forward meant forgetting the past. Yesterday as I went through my various memory boxes and packed up my old notebooks, I realized that sometimes the only way to know how to move forward is by looking back.
Relationships are quickly put into perspective as memories jump out of photos and leap off of letters. Reminders of who you were and how far you’ve come smile at you like an old friend. Suddenly your entire world expands and everything makes sense, including the hard times you couldn’t control, the hard times that you created, and even the good times you didn’t think could be beat.
“Taking time to look back, is a foundation on course to build a stable future.”
― Unarine Ramaru
Here’s to a brand new week of a brand new month. Remember that you can face anything that this week throws your way. Remember to start and end each day with a smile. Remember to love.
Last weekend, Alex and I watched Whiplash. He’d seen it before and said to me, “when you watch this, think about your writing”, so I kept that in mind as the opening credits rolled out. There’s no denying that Whiplash is a time-bomb of emotion, a story that depicts what it really takes to be one of the greats. There’s a part in the film where the band teacher (Fletcher) says to his student (Andrew), “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job”. Why? because it promotes mediocrity. It promotes that just because you’re good, you don’t have to push yourself beyond the capabilities that you don’t even know are there.
I was there to push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that’s an absolute necessity
If you’ve watched Whiplash, you’ll know that Fletcher is a little insane in the way he pushes his students – especially Andrew. But it kinda worked, didn’t it?
Andrew: But isn’t there a line? You know, maybe you go too far, and you discourage he next Charlie Parker from ever becoming Charlie Parker?
Fletcher: No, man, no. Because Charlie Parker would never be discouraged.
This line moved me beyond belief. It inspired me to sit down every morning and evening this week; to write all of the words I could let out of my head. It inspired me to start trying again, to believe in myself, and to push myself harder when the words won’t flow as well as I hoped they would. Because, the next Dorothy Parker would never get discouraged.
*Quotes from Imdb*
On Saturday after work I had a hankering for a Big Mac, and a hankering fuelled by hunger is one that must be taken care of. So, on the way to my boyfriend’s house I stopped at the McDonald’s and ordered myself a Big Mac. I paid the $8.00, which I made in tips the night prior, grabbed my tray and sat down alone to eat my meal. As I slowly savoured my french fries, allowing the tremendous amount of salt to cut my tongue, I wondered why I don’t go out by myself more often. As I gorged on my meal I people-watched and made up my own conversations based on their hand movements and facial expressions. I let my eyes wander and my mind create (that is my business after all). I even thought about what other people might think about me — Wow she looks hungry – is she even breathing between bites? She looks sad, maybe she just got dumped. Maybe she got stood up. Maybe she’s in rush.
It’s an interesting feeling when you’re able to put your phone away and be left alone with your thoughts. To watch the world go on around you as you sit perfectly still. To marinate in your own thoughts, fears, and worries and really connect with them. As of late I feel like everyone is walking around in a frozen cloud of thoughts, unable to forget them, to control them, or really sift through them and figure things out. After lunch I felt a new air of confidence about the future, the present, and taking chances.
HAVE A CHALLENGING, CREATIVE, AND WONDERFUL MONDAY!
“If you live through defeat, you’re not defeated. If you are beaten but acquire wisdom, you have won. Lose yourself to improve yourself. Only when we shed all self-definition do we find who we really are.” The Tao of Wu
January always starts off a little slowly for me. I let the previous year linger in the air instead of focusing on the year ahead. I give myself a much-needed break from the blog, reading, and even writing stories. And then suddenly it hits me, I want to do everything all at once. I start tweeting again, my fingers itch to write the perfect sentence, my brain longs to learn something new, and I’ve morphed into that version of myself that I like best: the passionate go-getter ready to take a chance. The woman who is willing to lose all other versions of herself, especially the ones that do anything but empower her.
Usually a conversation with my best friend or my parents is all I need to get out of my funky version of January Blues but this time it was actually a book that kicked my butt into gear. A Man Called Ove is the loveliest book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s about an old man called Ove who is stuck in his ways and just wants to die. He misses his wife desperately and wants nothing more than to take his own life to be with her, the trouble is that the entire world is so incompetent that they won’t let it happen. Neighbours and stray cats meander their way into Ove’s life and he begins to feel responsible for them. How can he go off to be with his wife when men can’t reverse trailers or bleed radiators, when women don’t know how to drive, or when teenagers can’t fix their own bikes? Ove doesn’t stand for this, he believes that people should be able to do the most basic things in life, no gadgets or technology should be doing it for them. Ove’s view on how the world should be is contagious and quite hilarious if I may say so, but the most endearing part of the entire novel is how he and his useless neighbours depend on one another. This novel is about relationships, about love, and about doing the right thing no matter what. Ove’s love, determination, and selflessness inspired me, as did all of the chapters about his late wife Sonja.
“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”
― Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
In A Man Called Ove, and my own life, time is of the essence. And even though I’m not quite sure where 2015 will lead me, I vow to rock the crap out of it, to say yes, and to simply live.
The wheels in my head wouldn’t stop turning this weekend. My thoughts sprung back and forth from an interview I went on, to the book that I want to write, to an event I’ll be attending tonight, to traveling, to needing new phone, to saving money, to looking for more freelance work, to comparing my life to others and back again. I’ve always spent a lot of time in my own mind, churning over various conversations, moments, and decisions until they stop making sense. Like repeating a word over and over again until it looses all meaning. I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself to excel, to make people proud, to ensure that I am living up to my potential, and every day that I am not doing one of those things tends to be a rough one for me.
Below is a photo of a door that leads to my parents’ bedroom. My mom is repainting and decided to let the smoke detector hang in such a way that it is exactly in line with my forehead. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own thoughts that no matter how many times I walked down the hallway this weekend, I walked right into the smoke detector. Sometimes I’d snap out of it and nearly duck out-of-the-way before I smacked right into it. Afterwards I’d turn around and watch it sway back and forth, taunting me, laughing at me. Telling me that it’s time to wake up and pay attention. Telling me that Life is happening all around me and if I don’t look where I’m going or live in the moment, it’ll find a way to smack me back to reality. Telling me to stop thinking about things and start doing them. Not just doing them, but doing them well, doing them right, doing them with passion.
Sometimes you sleep walk right into Life, and I have the bump to prove it.
“Do stuff. be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. stay eager.”
― Susan Sontag
At a family dinner the other night I noticed something, I’ve changed. My relationship has changed. My goals have changed. My need to impress people has changed. What I spend my money on has changed. What I want for my future has changed. The way that I think about things has changed. The way I share things has changed.
Sometimes changes come hard and fast, other times they trickle in. From now until THE END you’ll notice a few differences on My Pen, My Voice. For starters the theme is completely different, I don’t love it or hate it, I’m just trying something new. I’m trying to arrange it so that I can keep the blog portion and still have an area to share new projects and exciting articles that I write for other websites. And for right now, this works.
I hope you’ll stick with me for the next few months and enjoy all of the changes as they occur. Let me know what you like and what you don’t, what works and what doesn’t.
Although we shouldn’t need a holiday to remind us to be thankful, we’re human. We’re self-obsessed beings who thrive on pity, and focus on the bad instead of the good. We need Thanksgiving to take a step back and think about all of the people and moments that make us happy. To remember that life is fragile and we should enjoy what we have before it gets taken away from us.
I’m thankful for… (equally and in no particular order)
- family and friends
- my niece
- my boyfriend
- LOVE & LAUGHTER
- sight and health
- books and words
- music and movement
- travel and adventure
- dreams and goals
- traditions (new and old)
- good food and sweet wine
- inspiration and creativity
- romance and hand holding
- passion and dedication
“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.”
― John Henry Jowett
I’ve been excited to read Not That Kind of Girl since my interning days at Random House Canada when the book was first announced. I’ve watched Girls on HBO and love it but my admiration for Lena Dunham has more so to do with her words and her kick-ass attitude than her acting. Not That Kind of Girl feels like you’re reading a script from Girls, except it’s a tad more poetic and 100% real. Lena holds nothing back, sharing insights and stories about love, sex, her body, friendship, work, and family life. She writes with honesty, conviction, and passion. In sharing everything she’s “learned’ you can’t help but learn something about yourself or about the person you want to be.
Lena’s book doesn’t need to be reviewed. No matter what I say fans will still flock to bookshops and purchase their own copy. In the big scheme of publicity, my review will not boost her sales or gain her fans, so instead of writing a review I’d rather write a thank you.
Thank you for expressing everything that I have ever felt, witnessed, or experienced in a kick-ass, unforgiving way. Thank you understanding the basic human condition, that we are all assholes who are afraid of death. Thank you for making the personal essay cool, valid, relatable, honest, and smart. For publishing the kind of words that fill voids, generate laughter, and banish embarrassment. Reading your book has given me the courage to continue writing personal essays, to share my thoughts with the world, and to challenge myself as a writer. Thank you for showing me that every story is important and that my thoughts are valid.
AND I DECIDED THEN THAT I WILL NEVER BE JEALOUS. I WILL NEVER BE VENGEFUL. I WON’T BE THREATENED BY THE OLD, OR BY THE NEW. I’LL OPEN WIDE LIKE A DAISY EVERY MORNING. I WILL MAKE MY WORK. (201)
My cousin Amanda recommended that I read WILD by Cheryl Strayed. It’s one of her favourite books, one that she knew I would love too. WILD is the most intense memoir(ish) book that I have read this year. Cheryl holds nothing back when retelling dark and incredibly personal stories from her childhood, her teen years, and her adulthood.
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
I adored Cheryl’s writing style, her voice and her views on life. I held my breath on every word of every sentence. I cried, I laughed, I shuttered, and I wondered if I could ever do what The Queen of the PCT did. I enjoyed every person she met on the trail, I cringed at the thought of toenails falling off and the immense strain the hike put on her body, and I cried whenever she discovered something new about herself or her mother. I admire everything about her journey and more so, I admire her ability to write it all down and leave it on the page. WILD is about more than her literal journey, the PCT hike, it’s about life and how we approach it. It’s about the simplicity of complex problems if you just sit down, empty your pack, and think things through. It’s about how to carry yourself through life while understanding everything around you. It’s about lives ending too soon and appreciating the relationships that you have. It’s about goals and dreams and letting go when it’s time to let go.
“It was all unkown to me then….except the fact that I didn’t have to know. that it was enough to trust that what i’d done was true… to know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. that it was everything. it was my life — like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. so very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.”
*quote from pg 311