Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Berenstain Bears

Yesterday, I learned Jan Berenstain died. She created The Berenstain Bears with her husband Stan. This children's series featured a family of bears who went about their daily life and, through a bit of adventure, taught the reader important morals and lessons on safety. The first book debuted in 1962 and was entitled The Big Honey Hunt. Since that day, almost fifty years ago, the series has grown to over three hundred titles.

Jan's passing is sad for me because I wonder what will happen with the series, now with both the original creators passing on. In 2005, Stan passed away and their son Michael began collaborating with his mother to ensure the books continued to be published. But will the sons carry on the tradition? I can only hope.

Now, these books weren't a staple in my house growing up, I read far more Dr. Seuss than anything else, but my first "reading" memory came from the quirky family of bears. And no, I'm not talking about my mother reading to me, I believe that would be The Bear and I, or The Incredible Journey. What I mean is, it was the first book I "read".

Of course, you're an observant reader and you've noted how I have put "read" and "reading" in quotes.

A long time ago, my parents though I was a genius.

No, really. They did.

I sat upon my father's knee at five years old and flawlessly read to him The Bike Lesson, a Berenstain Bears book. So enthused was my father, he called my mother over to bear witness to the extraordinary event. Together, they stared in awe at their brilliant daughter.  Of course, this was very fleeting.

Unfortunately, my mother noticed I wasn't really looking at the book at all. And so, she promptly flipped it shut. Of course, I continued to 'read' without realizing what was happening. You see, they'd read me the book so many times that I'd memorised the whole thing, beginning to end.

Over the years, the story has been told a hundred times. "A brand new bike for me", they exclaim, laughing at the memory. Even now, it makes me smile, because it's such a random event. One I know I will never forget. And one I doubt my parents will either. I wonder how many people remember the first book they were able to read. Well, I remember the first book I memorised by heart. 

It's because of this memory that I feel connected to these books. I've probably read a hundred of them, but I only remember one. The Bike Lesson. It's such a strange thing. A small, inconsequential thing. And yet, it's important. To me.

Jan and Stan Berenstain provided countless hours of entertainment for children the world over. I hope you can find the time to search out one of their books. Or at least hop over to Wikipedia to take a gander at the rather unique story of how they came to be and the books started.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Unconditional Love

Today is George Harrison's birthday. A man who truly understood the importance of love. And so, I feel like I need to write about it. Love. Not George Harrison. The man is genius. No blog of mine will ever do him justice.

The other day, I sat on the kitchen floor with Oliver and Etnie and gave them a little affection. That's all we were doing. A simple enough thing, but there was this moment, when Oliver laid his puppy head in my lap and let out this sigh of contentment, that I finally understood what unconditional love is.

Trust. Respect. Acceptance. No restrictions. Contentment.

There is nothing my fur-buddies can do that will change the way I feel about them. Not when they barf in the bed. Or step in poo and leave a trail of crap-prints all over the floor. And not even when they snarl or bite or claw or talk back.

I give them love without conditions.

It's a truly amazing feeling to be loved by something without reservation. And to give it? Well, that's the word, isn't it? I've said it before - it is not what we get, but what we give that makes us happy. Not the false materialistic happy we think new fashions, a speed boat or a diamond ring will bring, but true happiness.

A friend said to me, could you imagine a world where we loved everyone as much as you loved Oliver?

Wow, I thought. What an odd little place it would be. Then, I got to thinking about unconditional love towards people. Individuals, to be exact, not mankind as a whole, but I'll touch on that later.

For a long time, I thought this unconditional love thing was kind of hokey. I mean, a nice idea in theory, but essentially something made up by artists and writers to make people want something they will never have. I used to think, how can you love a human unconditionally when they are fallible, have cognitive thinking,  and ulterior motives? Gee, doesn't it sound like I have a healthy view of people.

Back in the day, I believed people set out to double cross each other. Oh, it sounds even worse written down, but it pretty much sums up my mind frame. Correction: old mind frame. I'm not in that head space any more. Though, I do still experience trust issues and think, for the most part, humans are selfish creatures who will trample each other for a five dollar discount at Wal-Mart. That said, I've also opened up to not taking things personally. To letting things go. And, I dare say, forgiving people for their human tendencies.

Unconditional love is scary for two reasons.

1. The pain we assume goes along with it.

2. How inexplicable it seems.

First, let's talk about the hurt.

Sure, it can hurt to love something without conditions, whether or not they love you back, even if they dislike, ignore or mistreat you. It's painful because they can leave you or decide to test your feelings through jerky means. This hurt is directly linked to possession, though, because we are afraid of losing the person. And also, afraid of their actions. But, in the grand scheme of things, we cannot control how others act. And we actually don't own anyone. We are blessed with people in our lives, but there is no guarantee they will stay. We may call them ours, our boyfriend, our husband, our sex toy, but just because we say it, doesn't make it so. They will come and go, kind of like the wind.

And it hurts to think of them leaving us.

I fully admit I get choked up over the thought of Oliver dying or something terrible happening to him. It completely messes with my head, but I don't take away my love. To put it simply, it would be bloody lunacy to do so. Except, time and again, this is what we do to each other. We refrain from loving one another and push each other away because we are afraid of getting hurt.

In our hearts, we know it's silly. Unconditional love doesn't have room for these what-ifs and uncertainties. It needs to be left alone. To develop on its own without contraints or our own egos getting in the way. Besides, if our feelings are pure, we can let people go, because we know, even without them, the love will remain. Time, space, the past and future all mean nothing when it comes to the heart of the matter.

Secondly, we are creatures who thrive on understanding. We like to figure things out. Unconditional love doesn't make sense to us. Mostly because we're taught all forms of love come with conditions. We can thank movies, books and even our parents for that. After all, as children, we knew if we did our chores, went to bed without a fuss, and ate all our vegetables, our parents would love us more. Or, so we thought.

The thing is, unconditional love cannot be explained, even though I seem to be trying to do it. At times, I think it is our need to understand and have things explained that does the most damage. We are masters at over analyzing. And, I find, the harder we work to understand certain things, the more tainted they become. We need to learn when to leave something alone, to allow it to bloom and grow on its own, without picking it apart.

Love is the perfect example of this.

I live inside my head. I worry, mull, think, ponder, dwell, and poke, poke, poke. It's my fault. My flaw. (Out of the many I posses.) Only there is an exception to my over-thinking things and that is: I don't think about my adoration for Oliver and Etnie. It's true. It's all natural and it comes easily. I also don't think about the love for my parents or sister. It simply is. There are no expectations of getting anything in return and no doubts surround it. So, if I can apply unconditional love to them, why not more people?

As it goes, I started thinking about my ex, the most recent one. I've known him for years, almost decades, and our relationship spanned a very significant chunk of time. It is without doubt that I love him. And in a stupefying moment, I came to the realization that that love is actually unconditional. Of course, people will ask, if I loved him unconditionally, then why it didn't it work?

And that's the problem with love. People want to apply a romantic side to it.

Unconditionally loving someone doesn't mean you want to jump on it, ride the pony  or slap that ass. (Yes, those are all terrible song references to drive home my point.) Besides, love isn't always enough to keep people happy, healthy and moving forward. We can love someone and not be able to be with them. In relationships, everything comes into play, from personalities to eating habits to quirks and even musical tastes. There are many factors that can derail the cohesiveness of your relationship, but that doesn't mean you stop loving them. It simply means you can't live under the same roof or spend a lot of time with them.

My ex is someone I loved for years before we decided to give a relationship a go. He's someone I admired, respected and cherished during the time we spent together, even though he drove me nuts with things he'd do, or, more accurately, not do. Which is why I love him now. Just because our relationship ended, doesn't mean my affection did. No matter where he goes or what he does, I wish him the best. If he's happy, I'm happy. My love for him has no expectations or obligations. It simply is. And it always will be.

Realizing I unconditionally love my ex is an odd sensation. It doesn't mean I want to be with him. Good God, no. He's an extrovert. I'm an introvert. And, while we had a fair amount in common, we simply didn't cohabit well. We also weren't heading in the same direction physically, mentally or spiritually. But it doesn't mean the love isn't there. And if I can extend love to my ex, why not my ex-ex?

Here's the thing I didn't understand before about this whole complicated matter. You can get mad at someone and still care about them. Through fights, hurt, breakups, indiscretions, hard times, growing apart, you can love the person on the other end. It's okay to get frustrated, upset, angry, and irritated with the ones you love, because we're human and, sometimes, we can't help it.

And I am not talking about boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives. I am talking family, children, co-workers, friends, and even strangers.

Once you open yourself up to unconditional love, both giving and receiving it, you're made privy to a feeling of complete understanding. I never thought it possible before, but now I feel it daily. And I've been able apply it to the world as a whole, which is a very surreal and somewhat overwhelming feeling.

It means letting go of everything I thought to be true and embracing the fact that I was wrong. Wrong about love. Wrong about humans. Wrong about wants and needs. Wrong about how I looked at the big picture. Don't think I'm braiding flowers into my hair and wandering the streets in search of group hugs. No, humankind annoys the crap out of me and sometimes I get so agitated I want to scream. My sensitive self is constantly disappointed and upset with how we treat each other and the earth. But it's all part of the process. And I'm learning to deal with those feelings with understanding.

In the end, unconditional love isn't just for my dog. It's for everyone, all the people I brush shoulders with, everyone I come in contact with whether virtual or real. And it's for me, too, even though the idea of someone loving me unconditionally is a bit baffling. I mean, I'm a pain in the ass.

To wrap this all up, I do hold this kind of love for all creatures in every walk of life, but I feel it in return right now because Oliver's warm body is pressed against my thigh. And then I think of how big the world is and what the chances are that someone, somewhere out there, is thinking of me, and maybe there's unconditional love in their heart too.

At least, this is how I see it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

All The Noise

The other day, I needed to pick up a parcel from the post office. Usually they deliver it to the outlet closest to me, but for some reason they dropped it at the kyosk in the mall. I'm not really a mall fan. Never was I the type of person to 'hang' out at the mall. To be honest, I don't even know what this would entail. Loitering by the food court? Window shopping? Bumping into small children and laughing when they fall down? Watching men being dragged into fancy underwear shops?

There are a lot of reasons I don't like the mall, but, for the most part, it's because I don't like to shop, unless it's kitchy or weird or antique. Also, I'm not a fan of people. I mean, large groups of people. A large group being anything over three bodies, especially if they are persons unknown to me.

Essentially, my apprehension to crowds comes down to two things.

1. I feel it increases the chances of being shot at random.

2. I think if there's a natural disaster I'll end up getting trompled to death trying to do the right thing.

Everyone knows people run when things go awry. It's almost as if the fight or flight doesn't exist in the majority of people. Most of us only think one thing: flight, flight, flight.  Don't get me wrong, I understand my reasons for disliking the mall make me sound a bit on the lunatic side.

Alright, now that we've established I don't like malls. That's where I needed to go on Saturday, you know, to pick up my parcel. As I traisped through the second floor, I stopped at the mall map to figure out where I was going, because I didn't even know it had a post office. Right then, I noticed the beginnings of a headache. A ever-so-slight throbbing in my temple. And then, stepping back from the map, I took a look around and realized how noisy it was.

Music blarred over the mall speakers, each individual store played their own radio stations, the game shop had people testing out some video game on Playstation, people talked, parents yelled, and I physically recoiled. Even worse, it was more than the sounds. The noise extended beyond my ears. There were things to touch and see. Smells of food, perfume and cleaning supplies. All of my senses became entranced by the racket around me.

Then, the age old saying "it's so loud I can't hear myself think" popped into my head.

That's when I started mulling over all this noise we surround ourselves with. The noise we purposely inflict on ourselves. The noise that not only prevents us from hearing ourselves think, but which stops us from hearing our hearts.

It's gotten to the point where we are completely surrounded by noise at all times. People get home from work and turn the television on, the computer, the radio, the X-Box. Before they take their shoes off and hang up their jacket, they are checking their email, setting up the recording on their PVRs and texting a friend.

The truth is, we are all plugged in. Everyday we fill ourselves up with music, movies, advertisements on television, and our own voices. I know a lot of friends and family members who can't sit down and simply exist for a few minutes without some sort of noise, whether audible or visual. We are walking, talking examples of the marketing that surrounds us. Ask someone the Kit-Kat slogan or the McDonalds jingle and nine times out of ten they will be able to say it for you. I know I can.

All the technology filling our lives, all the chatter and pointless comments, I see it for what it is - a distraction. 

Part of me takes these distractions at face value. Something to do to stave off boredom. To keep us entertained.

But there's this other side of me that thinks these distractions are a way of preventing us from opening our eyes and actually seeing the word. It stops us from hearing our instincts. The information we absorb from the programs, adverts, and radio can be filtered through us without our knowledge. People drown out the televison, thinking they aren't paying attention, but these images and sounds are going into our bodies. Every webpage we click on has links and ads for products. We don't think we see them, but we do.

And what are the consequences?

There was a time when I allowed myself to be distracted by pretty, shiny technology. If I watched television, played video games, enjoyed a rousing game of Text Twist on the intersnacks, then I didn't have to reflect on myself. I didn't have to see the state of the world. I didn't have to confront my misery, because I wasn't aware of it. I didn't have to consider my path - or how far off my path I truly was. I didn't have to ask myself the hard questions like...

Do I love myself?


Is this how I want the world to be?

After I left the mall and started walking home, I wondered what all the distractions were for.

Why does the world keep making things louder, brighter, and bigger? Billboards are shoved in our faces. Images assult us when we walk down the street. They have televisions at the dental office and in the waiting room at the doctors. We have mini-computers attached to our hands through our phones. Mp3 players are constantly plugged into our ears. Buses have advertisements on them. You can't sit in a public place without being bombarded with smells, sounds, images and human interactions.

It reminded me of when I was a child and the nurse used to hold up a toy to distract me when I got a shot.

Are we all being distracted while something bigger is happening to us? Because I look around at the state of the world and can't help but believe that's exactly what's going on. A distracted public is a controlled public.

As a whole, it feels like our priorities are completely skewed. We avoid self reflection. We neglect what the world needs. Heck, we ignore our own base human need which is love. We are focused on concerts, sporting events, festivals, celebrity deaths and what new shows will be airing in the fall, all the while turning a blind eye to the atrocities going on around us. Ignorance truly is bliss. But you know what else is bliss? Freedom from being distracted. Being in the know. And understanding who you are and where you're going.

Silence is a beautiful thing. It's refreshing. Cleansing. Sometimes I lie on my bed, turn everything off and listen to nothing except the beat of my heart. It's these moments I feel most at peace, because I'm not bogged down by the drone around me. Without the constant chatter, I'm afforded the luxury of being able to love freely. It's not so hard to love mankind when it isn't so noisy. I get this when I'm out in nature. Which, I think, is why I'm so drawn to the forest and rolling hills of grass. Because the silence in these places allow me to become the girl I'm supposed to be.

A lot of people don't know this, but I have a thing for Aldous Huxley. I think he was leaps and bounds ahead of his time. A truly kindered spirit, which I think you can see through is work, but also through his life. There's a quote of his that has always stuck with me. Partly because I am a massive music nerd and also because it reminds me of the importance of silence. I will end this blog by saying, sometimes we need to press the off button, and here is Huxley's quote:

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

Monday, February 20, 2012


What the heck is sexy? And where can I get some?

Alright, the first part was serious. The last part was my attempt at a joke.

Growing up, I always had a clear picture of what sexy was. And it certainly wasn't anything I could ever encapsulate. When I thought about sexy it conjured up images of smokey eyes, high heels, wild hair and lingerie. Even now, I think of long legs, smooth skin and naughty librarians. Not too sure why on the last one, it just pops into my head when I think about sexiness.  Probably because it's one of the ultimate male fantasies - right alongside innocent schoolgirl.

Here's what's weird, when I think of the word sexy, I think of women.

The reason for this is, women are supposed to be sexy. Isn't that so?
That's sexy, right? See, I am having troubles deciding now.

Ever since I was little, I grew up thinking I was supposed to be this hairless, skinny, rosy cheeked, perfectly quaffed, vixen with big boobs. Well, only one of those things is true - and it certainly isn't the hairless, skinny, rosy cheeked, perfectly quaffed vixen part. I even remember taking my sister's razor and shaving my entire body in order to get rid of the peach fuzz covering my skin.

At eight years old, why did I think any form of body hair was wrong?

Honestly, I don't know. It's too easy to blame the media. Isn't it? And yet, that's where I want to go. All of these images we are faced with make us think high heels, lingerie, push-up bras, tanned skin, make-up and flawless hair is the epitome of sexy. But these are things I'm never going to buy into.

The truth of the matter is, I will never be this:
 Mainly because my undies and bra never match. Also, because I don't fake tan or bleach my hair. Nor do I stand around in awkward poses. And I've never greased my skin up to look this shiny.

Here's the facts: I will never represent what socity thinks sexy is.

But then, I got to thinking. Do I think these things are sexy?

In truth, no.

Don't get me wrong, it works on some women. The women who exude femininity and softness. They ooze sex appeal and are comfortable slinking around in a shimmery dress and six inch heels. I am not one of those ladies. And, while there was a time when I wanted to be one of these women, I realize it simply isn't me. I don't have the time and/or patience to be one of these girls.

After I stopped thinking about myself, and how unsexy I truly am in my jeans, t-shirts and Converse sneakers, I started thinking about men. Nearly everyday on my Facebook, random pictures of half-clad men pop up in my feed. These are treats from other women. It's this whole eye-candy thing. To be fair, they post pictures of women too, but it's always the men that catch my eye because... Well, because I like men. Not saying I don't like to look at women, I do, but I'd rather ogle men. They say the female figure is more aesthetically pleasing. I actually disagree with this.

Regardless, they always end up posting pictures like this:
For the record, I don't find anything about this sexy. And it isn't just because I don't like blondes. (The truth is, I've always favoured dark hair on guys.) There's nothing about this that I find attractive. First, I'm positive this gentleman has frosted his hair. Second, what is he wearing? Third, I'm actually cringing at this because I think I have more body hair than him. Are his eyebrows plucked? They look plucked.

Here's the thing, I just don't get it. I know we all have it in us to appreciate a nice body, but sometimes when I look at models (men and women) I think, this isn't real. And it isn't real. It isn't natural. Not in my opinion. And then I got it. Then I realized what it is that I find truly sexy.

Natural. And a nice pair of arms. But mostly, someone who is natural. Men and women. Someone who simply exists and doesn't fuss and primp and worry about their looks. And it goes for everything. I enjoy a natural smell, look, and feel on people. For me, the idea of a man in jeans and a t-shirt out in the garden pulling weeds is far sexier than a greased up man riding a horse topless in chaps.

And you know what? True sexiness extends beyond the physical.

Oh, don't get me wrong. It helps to have a rockin' rack and legs that just won't quit, but they will only get you so far. Well, at least when it comes to me, it will only get you so far.

To me, sexy is reading. Being out in nature. Animal lovers. Compassion. Creativity. Respect. Intelligence. Common sense. Embracing emotions. A dose of cynicism. Having hope. And faith. Trust. A sense of romance. Desire.

It isn't a six pack or an ass you can bounce a quarter off of.

Sexy is walking through the grass barefoot. Taking long drives along the coast. Music nerdiness. Entertaining a possible future. Messy hair. A complete lack of worry and doubt and fear. Confidence without being big-headed. Lack of ego. Happiness. Lightness. Being realistic. And above everything humour. The ability to laugh at the world and yourself.

Sexy is knowing who you are and refusing to compromise it.

It's loving yourself. And those around you. Now that's hot. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dear Lover - An Open Letter

Dear Lover,

I don't know where in the world you are or what you're up to, but you're on my mind. Not because of what day it is. No. Today is not any more important than yesterday or tomorrow. Not when it comes to you, because you're always on my mind - regardless of special occasions. Today my thoughts of you do not come out of obligation or because they are expected, like they do for others. No, today my thoughts of you are organic. Natural.

In fact, I dedicate a thought to you every day. Sometimes two. Or three. Or four.

And each thought consists of wonder, what-if, awe, hope, patience and, most importantly, of love. Sometimes the thought is fleeting and other times it lingers, keeping me company as I go through the motions of the day, as I tow my line, as I stumble along my path.

The fourteenth of February holds no significance to me, except it's another day in which I wait. And wonder. And this, well, this is my message of love.  

Lover, I've made mistakes.

It's true. At times, I've been impatient and pushy, selfish and cold. I've hurt people. And, I've allowed myself to be hurt by others, more times than I can admit. To some, I've given too much. To others, I've given too little. The truth is, I've demanded much more than I am entitled. Wanted things I knew people couldn't give. Needed things people would never provide.

There are moments I am not proud of. Moments of weakness, fright, lust, pettiness, and, though it embarrasses me to admit, moments of viciousness. Of true callousness. There have been things I've uttered in anger that have been razor sharp and cruel. In the heat of the moment, I've let things pass through my lips that never should have escaped into this world, simply because they are mean. Hateful. Riddled with disappointment and sorrow.

I told myself they were said for the sake of honesty, but that is a lie. They were said out of panic, pain and the clawing knowledge of being completely off course and hating the person I was. These are excuses, though. And I take responsibility for my mistakes. My anger. My childish temper tantrums. My harsh words and actions. I take responsibility for the heartache I've caused. But these are things I cannot take back.

Lover, you've made mistakes.

And like mine, yours cannot be undone either. The things you've said and done. The insensitivity, hurt, sorrow, harsh words and careless actions, the indifference. None of it can be erased. I will know your mistakes because they are similar to mine. I will recognize them and understand they are a part of you. The same goes for all the things you've done right. And the other lovers you've given a part of yourself to. They are what has brought you to me. Brought us to our beginning.

It is your past, and I know I can't change it. That it is yours and yours alone. It is not mine. I have no place in it. I cannot dabble or dwell. I cannot be jealous, angry, or upset. On the other hand, I cannot try to heal you of it either. The grief and pain you hold in your heart are yours. Not mine. And I cannot clear them away or make it better. It is up to you to do that.

Lover, I understand.

I understand you've been hurt and you understand I have. And I know there are things you need, things you want, ones you can express and ones you can't. I understand the need to take time. To grow. To heal. To live and stretch our wings and go slow. To find ourselves. I understand how far away we are, but also how close we could be. And that our paths will cross when they are meant too.

Above everything else, I understand that when I see you, I'll recognize you.

It isn't a matter of your face. But a matter of your heart. I understand the beauty you posses without you showing me. Your light shines through, it always has, and it always will. It will help me. As I hope my light helps you. I understand it will take awhile for our possibilities to manifest themselves. And I understand I must be patient.

Lover, don't give up.

Our past paths are riddled with broken promises, brutal truths, lies we've told others and the ones we've told ourselves. You carry your past with you, as I carry mine with me. But we cannot mend the hearts we've broken, except our own. In order to do so, we must keep moving forward. And the easiest way to undo the bad we've done is to do a little bit of good.

Love is good.

To love is the only way through the darkness, the only way through the desolation and solitary ways we covet. It's the way to the truth. To see what exists beyond. To come to terms with why we are here. How we will get through. Where we are going. And when it will all pull together and make sense. If anything, we must keep hope, have faith and never give up.

This space and distance, this without-ness, doesn't exist. I'm always with you, and you with me. Even though we've never met. Even though we've never touched. You dwell in my heart. You have a permanent residence there. You are at home with me. We are never alone.

Lover, I promise. 

I will surrender, fall on my knees, give over to love. And embrace the nice things. Cherish the sweet things, the ones that leave me light and happy and warm. Remember the good times. And learn from the bad. To enjoy every second. No matter how fleeting our moments our, I will hold them near my heart and let them speak for themselves.

I promise to show affection.

At times, I will let my hands do the talking. My mouth will taste yours. I will swallow your secrets and keep them as close to me as my own. With my lips, I will show you what desire is, and ply kisses to every part of you. I promise to make love to you and allow you to make love to me. And, when you are not near, I will make love to myself with the memory of your body and hands and laugh and soul.

And I promise to remain true and honest. I will watch what I say and not let fear, doubt, worry and hurt guide me. I promise to simply exist in your presence. To laugh. To cry. To give you the full rainbow of my emotions. To trust you. And trust myself. My heart. My gut. My intuition. My choices. Above everything else, I promise not to taint our love with cynicism. I promise to be open to love.

I guess what I am saying is...

Lover, I love you.

Unconditionally. Without question. Without reason. Without understanding. Without pain. Without worry. Without fear. Without heartache.

Wherever you are.

Whenever you appear.

Whoever you're with.

However you will take it.

I love you.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Idea Factory

My brain never turns off.

It whirls and spins and grinds and, rather disturbingly, it burps. The noise is never-ending. A constant chatter.

I call it the Idea Factory.

It supplies me with countless things to do. Not only is there a special little compartment where the leprechauns work to supply me with plot lines and characters arcs, but a whole section of it is dedicated to sentence structure and authentic dialogue. There are also the corners where grammar, spelling and punctuation hang out. Those spots tend to collect cobwebs. On occasion, the janitor goes and sweeps them out.

Without the Idea Factory, I'd have a very unfulfilled life. Albeit a quiet one.

Sometimes, I curse my brain. It spits out scenes and memories and outlines novels endlessly. It strikes at odd moments, tender ones with a lover or friend, and awkward moments, like in job interviews and peer evaluations. And then, there is the night time.

The Idea Factory never closes.

It doesn't understand the importance of sleep.  It can't comprehend what two in the morning feels like or having to get up at four Am to go to work. If I had a dime for every time I woke up with something I needed to write down, I'd be rich. Notebooks litter the floor by my bed with notes I can't decipher, bold words, and odd drawings of worlds I long to create. 

The Idea Factory does not go on vacation.

Since I sat down and seriously started writing, only about three years ago, I've been to a number of places. Only once did I leave my computer at home. That was a bad idea. My fingers itched to type out the scenarios playing through my head. When I went to New York, I brought my laptop in order to hammer out a few thousand words a night to a pirate story that was haunting me. The time I went to Disneyland, I continued to write my middle grade novel each morning.

If I don't write down at least some of the things the Idea Factory churns out then I start to go a little crazy. And I know that sounds odd, since I already seem a bit loopy, but it starts to get ugly.

They say idle hands are the devil's play things. And though I don't think this is necessarily accurate, there is a sort of truth to it. If I were to stop writing, blogging, vlogging and doing all the other things I use as an outlet for the Idea Factory, I would find myself lost, drowning in thoughts and creative juices.

To have an idea is only part of the process.

The burning desire to turn it into something I can see and show other people is what takes my writing from being a hobby to being a life choice.

At times, I fear the Idea Factory going out of business. I wonder what I would do with my life if the well simply dried up. Every day, I see people doubting their writing and humming and hawing over whether they should throw the towel in. This is not something that crosses my mind, because it is out of my control. Never did I sit down and think, I'm going to be a writer. It's always simply been there.

And I wouldn't recognize myself without it.

My biggest worry is running out of time. What happens if I can't get all the stories and characters out of my head? What if I never get the chance to pen the novels forming? They are stories that deserve to be written, and I am the vessel in which they are using to escape into the world. I worry I don't do them justice, but more so, I worry something will happen that will prevent me from even trying to do them justice. There are books and journals, diaries and crumpled up pieces of paper in my desk with notes scrawled over them. Past ideas from the Idea Factory, ones I haven't had the time to breathe life into.

Time. All I need is time.

Like I said, the Idea Factory is out of my control. The ideas it spits out come from an inexplicable place. And, once they use me as a medium and manage to escape from my head, they don't even feel like mine. The characters are people, not of my creation, ones I talk about with love and understanding. The plot lines are ones I know by heart, except I don't remember how I came up with them. Of course, I know they came from somewhere in the deep recesses of me mind and were tapped out by my exhausted fingers, the aches in my wrists make that clear, but the stories extend past me.

The Idea Factory is a curse, because it keeps me up at night, making me tired and zombie-like. It is a curse because it has no respect for special occasions or loving moments. Because it shouts and stomps its foot until it is And it is a curse because I cannot turn it off.

But it is also a blessing. It allows me a reason to hunker down at home. It keeps me fulfilled and happy. It challenges me. And it provides we with countless hours of entertainment.

The Idea Factory is why I'm here. And why I create. It is my purpose.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

All I Wanna Do

Dear Paul Weller,

I was having a hard time expressing myself with words, but you've gone and done it with this song.

Thank for saving me the trouble,


"I'm not out to train you
Leave you far and far behind
I'm not here to claim you
You know I'm not that kind

All I wanna do is be with you."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Letting Go Of What You Love

Recently, I let go of something I love.

It was a hard decision. Mostly because I loved it. And also because I don't like giving up on things.

The hard truth of the matter is, I knew in my heart what needed to be done. My gut told me so. We rarely listen to our guts these days, especially when they tell us to do something that will hurt. I find the gut instinct, or intuition, is often overlooked because we want to trust our heads or our hearts. Eventually, though, we must do what is best. And if we let go of something with understanding and acceptance it doesn't hurt as much.

Of course, this did hurt, because I let go of it with exhaustion and frustration, and, if I'm being honest, a tiny bit of anger, as well. As soon as I pulled the trigger, I panicked and started to doubt what I'd done. But then, I sat back and really thought about it.

I am not a rash person. I do not leap before I look. As far back as I can remember, I've thought things through. Excessively so, really. What a pain the rear that can be. This situation wasn't any different. After the panic subsided, I realized the choking feeling of letting go was because I didn't do it with love. I released it with irritation.

At first, it took a long time for me to come to terms with what needed to be done. This was because I considered it mine, my baby, a part of me. Sure, I let others in on it and, over time, it became ours and not just mine. But secretly, between you and I, at the end of the day, it was mine. I nurtured it. I brooded over it. And I was left rattled when it seemingly fell to pieces months ago.

That is when I started to let go by distancing myself from it. After a couple of incidents, I realized, the thing I loved no longer brought me joy. It was a source of contention and made me tense. And that was my ah-ha moment! When I realized what I loved wasn't what it was anymore. What I loved was the idea of what it used to be. What I loved was in the past. And what it became ended up being nothing like what it was supposed to evolve into. Not in my mind, at least. 

Sure, I still loved it, but in the same way you love a film from your youth. You know, in your heart, if you watched it again, it wouldn't be the same. It's never really the same.

Ironically, I had to let go twice. Initially, by saying I was letting go, and later, while sitting on my couch mulling, I relinquished my grasp on it with love, understanding and perhaps a bit wistfulness. The first time it hurt, like I was being run over my an emotional steamroller, and the second time, not so much.

They say if you love something, let it go and if it comes back to you it was meant to be. I do believe this. For lovers, friends, family, careers, travels and even book projects. That said, you must let it go without the expectation or hope it will come back to you, because, in all reality,  a lot of things never return. And sometimes we realize we never had whatever it is we loved in the first place and so letting go is the only way of setting yourself free.

I know, this will never come back to me. And I'm okay with that.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Inexplicably Connected

This week was odd. I can't deny that. A few things happened, which I will most likely be blogging about at another time, when my head is clearer, and today I knew I was getting sick. I fought it all week, even went to bed early one night, but my lips became chapped. That's one of the first signs I'm succumbing to a cold or virus of sorts. This morning, I had the hardest time pulling myself out of bed.

My body ached, eyes stung, throat was sore and I just felt as though someone had taken a giant stick and pummelled me with it. About an hour ago, I told Noelle through Skype that writing wasn't working for me so I was going to take a bath and clear my head. Upon my departure, I instructed her to select a song to inspire me, for when I got out of the tub.

Now, she had already signed out by the time I got back, but she did send me a song before she went. The song made me smile. It completely lifted my mood, even though I still feel that scratch at the back of my throat. Her selection proves to me that we are inexplicably connected. She doesn't really know the importance of this artist to me, yet she selected exactly what I needed to hear. Something to play on my heart strings and give me wings.

You know, some things aren't coincidence.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Take A Drive

The other morning, as I drove to work, I paused to have a bit of a chuckle. A couple weekends ago, a friend came over to little old Vancouver for a visit. While here, I took him to all the silly little tourist places, including a walk around the Sea-Wall in the middle of January. Nothing like a good host to send someone home with a bout of pneumonia.

But I digress.

On this guy's last night here, we went to the H.R MacMillan Space Centre, which is right down at Kits Point. Afterwards, I thought it'd be nice to take a drive along the water up to Spanish Banks. You know, for some scenery, because us Canadians are big on our scenery.

So, I said to this fellow, "Want to drive for awhile?"

To say he physically recoiled from the idea would be an understatement. Not only that, but he said, rather adamantly, "NO!"

I stared at him for a few seconds, trying to figure out why he didn't want to take a drive with me. To be honest, my driving skills aren't that bad. Sure, I speed a little and it might not be reassuring when I ask someone who hasn't been in the country since he was ten how to get somewhere, but it wasn't like we were lost.

Also, I'm not a very intimidating person, despite how people always tell me I am. Even if he watched a lot of gangster movies, I doubted whether he thought we were going to go for a 'drive' so I could 'whack' him and drop his body into the ocean to 'sleep with the fishes'. Still, he seemed pretty certain he didn't want to go.

Unsure of how to respond, I said, "Well, then what do you want to do? Go back to the hotel?"

For some reason, it dawned on us that there had been a miscommunication. Oddly enough, he thought I was asking if he wanted to drive my car. To which I laughed, because, as easy going as I am, I didn't want to die. We'd already previously discussed how he didn't know how to drive, so I found it rather humorous that he thought I would actually let him get behind the wheel of my car.

Needless to say, I mocked him for it. I mean, I couldn't very well not.

Once we got the cultural barrier out of the way, he is from England after all, we took our drive. Well, I took my drive and he accompanied me.Realistically, he didn't have a choice. What was he going to do? Walk back to the hotel? He didn't even know where he was in relation to it. Oh, the power. I'm surprised it didn't go to my head.

Driving is one of the most relaxing things for me. Every morning, as I head to work, I feel at ease. Although, I do have to battle turning the car around and driving in the complete opposite direction. I have grand dreams about just getting in my truck and hitting the road, no real destination, nothing holding me back. And, as much as I enjoy solo trips, I always imagine a great co-pilot with me on these adventures. One who would commandeer the music and provide witty banter with me. One who will go anywhere my little heart desires.

I wouldn't even mind doing all the driving.

I think what I most enjoy about driving, especially at night, is that it feels so freeing. The moments I spend in the cab of my truck are restraint free. It's almost like a home away from home. I don't have to answer to anyone or talk and I can listen to my music as loud as I want. I don't have a lot of people who will just up and go for a drive with me, which is okay because, like I said, I am comfortable with rolling solo.

Still, it's always nice to share the scenery with someone else.