Sticky notes on campus

Today at the Avenue campus someone (a student, I’m guessing) left a trail of sticky notes throughout the halls. Some were on cupboards, others doors, a couple bulletin boards . . . and I spotted one more in the stairwell. And written on these little yellow sticky notes were a variety of positive messages. For instance, one of them was a stick person with two speech bubbles. On the left speech bubble (and crossed out in red) it said: Why me? In the right speech bubble it read: Try me! I guess it’s equivalent to ‘turn that frown upside down’, eh?

And then I started to find the quotes. Now look, my short term memory is a sieve so I can’t recount them all, but one was from Ghandi (i.e. a quote from Ghandi): Don’t cry for it ending, smile because it happened.

I am happy it happened.

Not the cancer, nope, not that.

The friends, the challenges, the writing, the working, the living, the grocery shopping, the tea drinking, the sofa shopping, the Lost-a-thons, the orange eatings, the portswoodings, the guy foxings, the spring flowerings, the movie nightings,  the self-explorings, and the apartment hoppings. Plus that fabulous fried chicken served at Pleasure Garden.

I’m so incredibly happy for all of it.

So here is to smiling, not crying. And to good memories, not bad. Mind you, come May I’ll be a human rain machine. Sentimental expression has become my middle name (Catherine Sentimental – Geez, is she crying again? – Brunelle). But it’s because of all the good things, and not the bad, that I’ll cry come next May. That is a positive contrast to last year.

Sticky notes with positive messages. Maybe you could try some yourself? Afterall, there’s no need to sign a name to your little kernel of positivity. It’s good vibes sans embaressment. Believe me, people WILL notice.

Here is my sticky note for this post: When one door closes, another one opens. Like my time in England and moving to Canada, and like the end of this posting followed by dessert.

*Oh! I burnt the apple crumble. Blog posting is too absorbing.

The end. For real. For real, for real – because it’s time for dessert! (minus the burnt bits)

The writing workshop: results

Good Monday to you! Whew, what a weekend. Totally exhausting. I’d say it was about 65% interesting and 35% frustrating, but that had more to do with the teachers rather than content. One of my teachers was brilliant, the other a little scattered – and so the result was a very productive start with a petering finish.  But it’s better in that order. No matter how much I wanted to vent and rant (and this opinion may be quite singular because other people seemed to find Sunday very productive – like very productive – but it wasn’t my cup of tea) there was the feeling that, yes, overall this weekend was valuable.


It’s exciting to be in a room with other writers  – feels like camp (the musty smell in the building contributed toward that atmosphere) where we’re all there to play games, learn about ourselves (our writing) and take home priceless memories (aka tips on finding an agent). And the opportunity to meet and chat was really helpful. Actually, I even met a fellow Canadian – so there you go! And she has an agent, is on her way to publication, and is crafting the second draft of her novel. Apparently she had gone to the Winchester’s Writer’s Conference and attracted her agent’s attention with just a synopsis and a thousand written words. Hello! That’s lovely.

So we were asked a question this weekend: why do you write? This wasn’t something to answer aloud, but to ask yourself. And I thought about it  – about the project I’d been working on (having shelved it for almost a year) before my breast cancer diagnosis, which is the same project I’m coming back to now . . . why am I writing it? Well, originally I began to write this story because I wanted to get pregnant. I had planned (for the fall of 2010) to start trying for a baby. That was the plan between Zsolt and I, which frankly left me feeling nervous as heck. So – what to do when nervous and uncertain? Write it out. And so I began this lovely story of nine women across nine generations. It was like I could pull on their strength  – their representation of those who have been there and done that – and this would make everything okay once it was finally my turn. Anyhow. Why did I write it? Because it was a coping process.

But now I can’t have children for at least two more years, and that’s assuming my ovulation resumes – and so far, no clear signs indicate that having happened (fingers crossed, please). Giving birth has become a question mark, but not becoming a mother. That will happen no matter what.

So . . . eleven months later (according to my blog archive of entries) and here is the question again: Why do I write?

Maybe I’m writing to heal (certainly blogging to heal, but this goes a little deeper). Plus, I take such pleasure in this story, it’d be an incredible shame not to grow the characters to the end. I guess they’re my responsibility now, so it’s time to step up and support them.  And besides, one day – someday – I’ll be a mother, so there’s still a reason to wade through the uncertainties of that change.

I think other writers sometimes read this blog (you know who you are!) . . . so it’s a good question to ask yourself: why do you write.

Actually, it could be expanded to any kind of project, couldn’t it? Maybe we often do things without realizing our internal motivation? Who knows. Why do you do what you’re doing right now?

This past weekend was really interesting and helpful in defining my story. It helped me create an overall understanding of the work – because this is a novel, not a short story collection. My fuse was shortening come Sunday, mostly because it was what I had feared (all exercises, all the time) and less tailored to our own work/style. But, there you go, not every workshop is perfect. It was certainly something to remember, however, if I’m ever asked to teach.

Wanna hear my one line pitch (still to be perfected)? “I’ve got a story about that uncertain time between pregnancy and motherhood, a coming of age across nine months and nine lives.” Add some explosions and fireworks, and that’ll be a real winner.

Anyhow, in the meanwhile I have a pile of clothes beside my bed asking to be sorted, Zsolt is still loving the post-thesis (pre viva) life, and the weather here had dropped from warming to cool.  Now it’s back to work for one more week and then… and THEN…. HOLIDAY IN FARO!!! Watch out Portugal, we’re coming to support your economy with our tourist dollars. Woohoo!

Busy weekend ahead

This upcoming weekend is big in several ways for several people. Mostly – for a few hundred thousand (etc) or so, it’s about the march in London. Now I have to be honest and admit that I 100% chickened out on this march due to a list of excuses that I won’t go into. However, even though I am not attending, it’s still worth mentioning. So in defence of the public sector – check out this link to learn more. March for the Alternative and take a (virtual) step for the alternative.  I hope the day will be as HUGE as they anticipate.

Right. So like said, I chickened out on the march, and therefore was left feeling restless. Not only that, but two nights ago I woke up (hot flash!) and could not get back to sleep. This is what happens when I get off my track. For a while things were ticking along well with the healthy eating, vitamins, exercising and writing – but then things got a little sideways and I’ve slipped up on my gluten-free diet (though in my defence, when eating pad thai you’d expect the noodles to be rice), scaled back on the supplements and totally lost track of my writing. Good intentions are one thing, but total lack of initiative has poisoned my well.

However, no complaining. These mood funks are impacting, and my melancholy runs deeply while it lasts . . . but only while it lasts.  TIP: Don’t write while moody. Nothing good comes from it. Writing while angry is A-Okay so long as it’s edited with a cool head, but moody – moody sucks. It turns good ideas into long winded complaints.  With blogging it’s almost too easy to wha-wha-wha all over the internet, and sometimes I post unwisely (see my blog history and pick out my moods – they’re totally obvious), so this is a habit I’m trying to break.

Therefore, yesterday I was moody. Today I am not. Instead of sulking I’ve taken action and signed myself up for that intensive weekend writing workshop mentioned last week (or the week before?). My final conclusion on the course was that no matter what goes on this weekend, it will force me to examine my story, focus, and will hopelly set my head back onto track. While taking the MA in creative writing, I wrote tons of material. Since then I think my writing has improved (through a bit of trail and error), but the quantity has diminished. Therefore this evening after work I’ll start this Writer’s Pitshop Weekend. Fingers crossed it’s a great experience.

Oh my goodness, (Quick aside) I didn’t mention earlier, but ought to send a shout out to the spring time. Spring is here. It is now. Birds are singing, the sun is waving and our curtains are blowing with a warming breeze. Nice stuff. Soon it’ll be summer dresses and sunglasses. I love this time of year.

Anyhow, back on track: this weekend. Here is a final big thing happening this weekend in England. THE CENSUS. This is mandatory, apparently. Every household needs to fill out the questions, and I happen to have the light purple census booklet beside me at this moment. Let’s take a look inside:

Who usually lives here? Me, my man, and our Yucca. Not to forget the hundreds of lady bugs who push away the bits of sponge I’ve jammed into the cracks in hopes of blocking them – next step in ladybug removal involves duct tape.

Do you stay at another address for more than 30 days a year? I wish. If given the choice of ‘second homes’ it’d have to be a holiday house on Lake Balaton and we would fly there often, reside in the summer, and live in a time capsule of paddle boats, ferry rides, and goulash over the fire.

How is your health in general? …. hmmmm….. Great? They  have a range from ‘very good’ to ‘very bad’, but I guess I’ll be choosing ‘very good’ because unless sometime tells me otherwise, I’m cancer-free baby.

How do you usually travel to work? Walking! We’re so very green in this household. But honestly, walking is awesome. I used to take the bus to PWC everyday (30 minutes) and so never walked . . . my hips really began to expand and it wasn’t until I switched to a closer work location that they shrank back down to size. Interesting, no? Green and healthy. Plus, walking has been shown to reduce the chances of breast cancer reoccurrence (actually, exercise in general does the trick, apparently).

OK, one last question…

What’s your country of birth? CANADA!!!!! WOOOOHOOOO!!!! Having been a foreigner for the past five years, my sense of identity has become increasingly more Canadian (mind you, I do love England, but the moment I start talking it obvious I’m not from here – so there’s no escaping the difference).

Right. Time to go to work. Have a lovely weekend, hopefully it’s as eventful for you as it is for a huge slice of the British population (and me, with my writing). Cheerio!