The SPARK

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I’m getting so into The Spark that I might finish it today (full review to come in April). It makes me think about how my parents, family, and friends have nurtured my passions (reading/writing). I remember the excitement I felt when my mom took me to the local library for the first time. We had just moved to Bolton and I was a shy, soft-spoken seven-year-old. I remember getting to sign my name on that flimsy, barely laminated yellow card. My very own library card. A card that represented my love of reading. A card that meant I could take out whatever book I wanted and keep it for a few weeks. My parents took me to the library as often as I needed to. As an added convenience the library was attached to the hockey arena so I would run in there every everytime my brother had a hockey game. I ALWAYS brought a book to my brother’s game (or wherever I went,really). For some odd reason the players needed to arrive a few hours before the game actually started, which meant I got to sit by myself, sip a hot chocolate, let my face numb from the cold, and float off into another world, another book. My parents never forced me to stop reading, as long as I was with them during the game, they let me be.

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After I watched Matilda and read the book, my mom embraced my obsession with this girl. A girl who needed the written word to feel at home. A girl that I related to very much. She let me dress like Matilda and cut my hair like her, she even bought all sorts of ribbons to put in my hair. She still brought me to the library and let me watch Matilda on repeat.

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When I started writing stories and poems of my own, my parents bought me countless notebooks and diaries, never forcing me to share them. When I felt confident enough to share my thoughts, they loved every single word I wrote. My dad and I would even come up with stories together and write ‘screenplays’ — we still brainstorm my future novels together but now it’s over a glass of wine as oppose to a glass of milk.

I don’t know if they saw a spark in me but they certainly allowed me to follow my passion. Sure, they made me do things that I HAD to do, like socialize and make friends, but they always let me carry a book with me. They always let me write or read whenever I was finished doing something I had to do.

“Jake had as much time to do things that were important to him as he had to do the things that were important to other people, to me, or to the school…He did have to get through the day, but he didn’t have to change who he was to do it” (The Spark Page 106).

My parents still encourage me. They ask about the books I’m reading, about the agent who rejected me, about the blog post I wrote, or about the novel I want to start working on. Their support has made a world of difference, it’s helped me believe in myself.

They were the spark.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

This belief has carried me through so many less than perfect moments.

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Every single time something good happens I find myself on the edge of my seat, frantically looking both ways, waiting for the ‘just kidding moment’ that’s lurking around the corner.

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Does anyone else do that? I have to wait a few weeks to tell anyone good news, just in case someone takes it away from me.

Am I superstitious? Or just plain crazy?

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I do believe that good things happen to those who work for it.

This belief has carried me through so many less than perfect moments.

So, on this sunny and beautiful Sunday, stay focused, work hard and don’t forget to…

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

Blurry ride. My man by my side.

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

IMG_1481I bet I’m not the first or the last person in the world to contemplate life while sitting on the subway.

It’s so easy to get lost in thought when outside the window everything goes blurry, then dark, and then blurry again.

It’s easy to think when you don’t have any distraction but the narrator in your head making lists and recounting moments.

Moments that just passed; the laughs, the glass of wine, the conversation.

Moments that might come; the email you’re hoping to get, the event you want to attend, finishing the novel you’re outlining.

Moments that will come; the birth of you niece or nephew, a new job, a trip that’s coming up.

That’s a lot of moments to think about on a twenty-minute subway ride.

A blurry ride with my man by my side.

A blurry ride, ending with a clear frame of mind.

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

If you are depressed…

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

If-you-are-depressed

I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I haven’t felt anxious or depressed in a while and then my friend sent me that quote by Lao Tzu and things started to make sense. So thaaaaatttt’s why I’ve been feeling so calm lately. That’s why when I sit down to work or write and surround myself with coffee, candles, and flowers I don’t feel panicked or anxious. That’s why I’ve been letting my mind sit still sometimes and focus on the task at hand.

Because I am living in the present.

Why haven’t I done this before? It feels freaking amazing! It’s the best way to live and I think it’s been essential to my improving work ethic and bursts of inspiration this past month or so. I still make TO-DO lists and keep a day planner but I no longer feel so anxious that my heart beats out of my chest, my left eye twitches, and beads of sweat start trickling down my neck. Now, I feel a hint of excitement when I look at my planner or my lists and I tackle them one at a time.

I’m walking hand-in-hand with the Present and I’m enjoying every peaceful second.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

All I need is room enough to lay a hat and a few friends

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

“All I need is room enough to lay a hat and a few friends.” – Dorothy Parker

I’m learning (slowly) that the best way to show someone you love them is to listen to them, to care about what they care about, to support them — even when listening means pretending to care about something you don’t really understand. Sometimes you need to let your crazy family member (ME) get excited about silly things and try to get excited about them too.

Thanks to all of those who do that for me (Jess, Mom, Dad, Joseph, Alex, Ash, Tia M, Sarrrahhh, Steven, Alanna Marie, Buddy, Katri etc.etc.). Thanks to those who try to understand what all of this “blogging” means or why I get excited over a new Twitter follower or why I jump around whenever I get invited to an event. Who smile when I receive a new book to review because you know that nothing makes me happier than a book waiting for me in the mailbox. Thanks to those who have to tell others that their friend/sister/daughter/niece/granddaughter/girlfriend is a Writer and feel a sense of pride when saying it — even though you’re pretty certain that I don’t really do much of anything but daydream :P.

I’m at a point in my life where YOUR support is the most detrimental.

I know who I am but I’m trying to be something great. I’m letting my passion guide me and comfort me but it would be a lot harder if I didn’t have your support.

So, thanks.

You make me smile. You’re my motivational penguins ❤

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo

The single blue rose in a sea of red

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.” — Steve Jobs

As if finding my voice wasn’t tough enough, I let myself become bombarded by the opinions and thoughts of others. Sometimes their voices overpower my own — an engine roars to life when I start to speak. I guess it helps that my inner voice keeps me going; the pen hitting paper, skating along in unison with my thoughts. It’s that voice that reminds me of my goals, it keeps me on my path, it tells me that it’s okay to be the single blue rose in a sea of red.

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It’s my inner voice that allows me to NOT get side-tracked by other people’s goals or opinions. I live a lot inside my own head, my inner voice just doesn’t shut up (that’s why I’m always writing). But this voice isn’t lonesome or sad or weak. It is strong and confident and powerful.

My outer voice is still trying to catch up to my inner voice, to my writing.

All in good time.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Spreading my optimistic-love-glitter all over the effing place!

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

You shouldn’t need a silly holiday to tell someone you love them. You shouldn’t HAVE to give your mom a rose just because it’s Valentine’s day. You shouldn’t need Cupid’s special day to buy the love of your life a box of heart-shaped chocolates.

But we’re human and sometimes we’re so busy being busy that we forget to remember to be thoughtful. 

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It’s Valentine’s Day, the day of love, all kinds of love. Although it’s never meant much to me and I’ve always had a bitter outlook on the holiday, this year I’m using it as a reason to show people that I care about them, that I think about them, that they add something extra to my life. I’m using it as a personal reminder to be thankful for all the kinds of love and respect I receive.

I’m also using Valentine’s Day as a day to make a new NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION — to stop being “too busy” to appreciate the ones that I love. To stop being so thoughtless and self-absorbed. To treat each day as LOVE DAY and spread my optimistic-love-glitter all over the effing place!

So, Happy Love Day and thank you to all of my family, friends, and avid blog readers and supporters.

I’m thinking about you and I appreciate you!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

why i Write, with a capital W

Book Reviews, Lifestyle/Personal

I’ve been looking through Not A Model’s favourite links and have found a quote that explains who I am and why I need to write and read.

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.” — Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Ernest Hemingway on Writing are now on my to read list. 

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Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

What if money didn't matter?

Categories, Lifestyle/Personal

Watch this:

Now tell me…

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On this snowy Friday, I urge you sit back for a moment, make a delicious cup of coffee, and take it all in. Take in your life and look at what you’re doing, who you’ve become, and be honest with yourself. Is this what I desire? Is this what I would be doing if money was not an object? My answer is yes. Money is and always will be an object and yet I have chosen to try out doing what I love to do, in hopes that one day I’ll get paid for it. I’ve tried the whole full-time-career-right after-university thing and it didn’t work for me. So, knowing that I can manage (financially) by working part-time and writing most of the time, that’s what I’ve decided to do. There is only one other thing I would do if money really wasn’t an object:

A good two months of writing in Europe (England and Italy with a quick trip to Paris and Germany) and then settling down in Chicago.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

It’s only when you find your dream that you can figure out which path you’ll take to make it come true.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo  

The Greatest Gift I hope to Give…

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

You may have heard that my sister is pregnant. I’m going to have a little niece or nephew in a few short months and I’m terrified, excited, nervous, and ecstatic about becoming an aunt. I think often about the kind of aunt I want to be, what I want to teach my niece or nephew, what gifts I hope to give them. Of course I immediately thought, I want to be the coolest aunt ever! But that isn’t really me — I’m not the “cool aunt”. I eat healthy food, I love books, I think bedtime should be strictly followed etc. etc. So I’ll leave the whole being cool business to my brother.

So, what kind of aunt will I be? Yesterday while watching The Secret Garden I discovered exactly what kind of aunt I aspire to be. I want to be the kind of aunt that helps her niece or nephew believe in magic, to create it, to find it. I want to write stories for them and I want to encourage them to write stories with me. I want to share with them the best part of not growing up, of being a little weird. I want to be the kind of aunt who encourages all of their passions and who will find other ways to inspire them if reading just isn’t their thing.

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“Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,” he said wisely one day, “but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment.” ― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

Any tips for this new aunt?? Leave them in the comments 🙂

Love Always

Vanessa Xo