Tales of Imagination Never Get Old 

My favorite author sat down every morning to write before the world would awaken and bring with it the duties that made her life vastly different than yours or mine.

She wrote through sicknesses brought by the harsh Canadians winters, sometimes having to sit on her frozen toes to warm them up.

She wrote diligently, in times of grief and desperation, the same as she did on happy and hopeful days.

She beat all odds working against her; she was a woman, from a small town on a secluded island.

She went to become one of the first if not the first Canadian woman to make a living with her words.

She succeeded, in her life time, in doing something many of us writers, fail to do. And she did it all without having the luxury of internet, computers, even without typewriters in her early years.

Whenever I get discouraged I think of her. I have no excuses really.

She was a freelancer about 100 years before the word actually existed. Before she wrote her famous work of fiction “Anne of Green Gables”, she sent out stories written by hand to magazines and managed to make a stable and comfortable income.

At the time of her death she had written 22 books.

I read today that Netflix will debut a “Anne of Green Gables” series this summer.

Lucy sat down in 1905 and wrote the first words to the book that this same series is based on.

2017.

More than 100 years have passed since the idea for her story was formed in her head.

I’m honestly speechless about the whole thing, that’s how remarkable it is to me.

I’ve been struggling lately with my artistic ambitions and I’ve found why.

Some people go through life trying to find out what the world holds for them only to find out too late that it’s what they bring to the world that really counts.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

I really couldn’t have said it better myself.


Have you ever read Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books?

Do you have an author that inspires you?

Let me know in the comments 🙂

*Photo Credit: lovinkat flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Be Your Own Hero

 “Sometimes I look at my life and…”

Someone said that to me once with their voice trailing off to somewhere I couldn’t follow.

It was such a great opening, an intriguing start to a very human confession whose nature promised the delivery of some deep truths and authentic connection which I both sought.

I was left to fill in the blanks myself with my interlocutor’s sudden silence accompanied with a swift wave of the hand.

I still think about it from time to time, the writer in me can’t help it.

Statements like this resonate for a long time in my psyche.

It amazes me how sometimes the absence of words can speak louder than all the words in the world.

It’s a hard fact to accept as a writer.

I want to put words on everything, from the mundane to the extraordinary. On universal feelings and ones you wouldn’t know you had before reading about them.

I can’t.

I tried imagining what the speaker meant to say.

Everything I came up with felt flat.

I then thought of what I could say.

“Sometimes I look at my life and…”

I’m at a loss for words.

Plain and simple.

Not because there’s nothing to say, quite the contrary.

But because there’s so much.

Looking at my own life as if I was the hero of a story, I realized that if I want to ever be able to fill those blanks for other people I should start with my own.

Of course there is power in what is left unsaid but you can’t deny that most of us crave to hear or read stories that show the universality of human experiences.

I think if we can find those kinds of stories in our own life and tell them well enough to satisfy that craving, we can then really call ourselves a writer.

If you wish to capture deep truths and have an authentic connection with your readers, you have to start by connecting with your own truths first.

You don’t have to be a memoirist but if you can’t write about the little and big things in your life in a way that makes you feel empathy for who you were, who you are and who you will be, how could you do it for any character?

I say “Be your own hero”.

Writers out there, what do you think of auto fiction? Is it a necessary first step to writing good relate-able characters? 

If you’re not a writer, do you “sometimes look at your life and…”? 

Let me know your thoughts on the topic in the comments. 

*Photo Credit: blinking idiot flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Don’t Let the Mood Swing By?

Just do it.

I’m not sure there ever was a catchphrase as popular in self-help circles.

It seems to be the solution that everyone likes to tote around when they want to encourage people to stop letting excuses in and go after what it is they really want.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the quote.

I just don’t do it.

I don’t believe in simply doing things.

It’s a brilliant quote, an advice that looks good on paper (and in Nike ads) but it never worked for me.

I’m definitely not the only one.

If everyone was “just doing it” surely the world would be a better place by now.

Book sales and traffic on self-help sites would certainly be down at least.

If you’re reading this it’s proof the interest in knowing how to go after goals and dreams and how to better yourself is not down.

No, a lot of people still want answers. A secret key that will unlock the vault where their motivation and drive has been trapped.

You might say “just do it” is a great advice. The only reason people fail is because they didn’t follow it.

That’s exactly my point.

What good is an advice if no one takes it?

I’ve been in search of a better advice for a while.

I thought I’d start with what keeps me and most people away from “just doing it” day in and day out.

Mood. As in “I’m not in the mood”.

Just because mood is a temporary feeling about something doesn’t mean it should be overlooked.

In fact, considering it’s the number 1 cause for all those “I’ll do it tomorrow”empty promises, we should give it the attention it deserves.

That’s where the Nike motto gets it all wrong.

Sure, we shouldn’t be controlled by our feelings but pushing them aside clearly doesn’t work and when it does, the struggle is real.

I believe there is value in exploring the feelings that makeup our “I’m not in the mood” mood.

Feelings are often seen as a nuisance. A human weakness that ultimately will be our demise.

Feelings indeed have a lot power. They can make us fail in achieving everything we want.

I say “they can make us succeed and get everything we ever dreamed of”.

If only we harnessed their power for our own good.

Whatever we feel facing a task at hand, even negative emotions, there is a way for them to be useful.

I learn about myself everyday facing all the emotions that come with not wanting to do things.

It turns out, I do want to do things.

Once I connect with myself, I can do better work than I ever would if I “just did it”.

What do you think?

Are you a fan of “Just do it” or do you think feelings have a place in motivational speak at all?

Tell me in the comments. I’d love to know!

*Picture Credit: Lydia flickr Creative Commons 2.0

The Power of Stories

I think as artists we all have days where we ask ourselves this question: “Why?”

Sitting down to write or create something, putting our stories out into the world can feel pointless.

It doesn’t matter what your medium of choice is, the fact is; being an artist of any kind doesn’t have many of the perks that a so called “real” job has.

No financial security, no status, nothing resembling a nod of approval for the important work we do.

Sometimes I do wonder. Is it important?

After all when it comes to life and death, fighting oppression and making the world a better place, a pretty children’s story or a contemporary dance piece are not part of the obvious work that we think should be done.

It’s already hard to find value in art when everything is rosy and sweet unless you’re an artist. When the world is looking bleak, like it does nowadays, even I, strict defender of the arts,  find it difficult to believe that sharing my words, my stories, a piece of my own vision is the most worthwhile thing I can do.

I’ve thought a lot about this in the wake of the recent political events that have (it seems) turned the world upside down.

Activists everywhere are waking up and people who never thought of themselves as activists are taking a stand.

Where does that leave artists?

Some say that art can be a tool in bringing social and political change.

If you have ever looked for a justification to do your art when more important things are happening, you probably gladly took this one.

I know I did and I am now.

If I’m being honest I didn’t quite truly believe it until today.

You could say I had an epiphany.

Where did it come from?

It came from asking this question: So what if I’m sitting down writing a story I believe the world doesn’t need?

We are already being bombarded by stories everyday. Stories that we don’t get to choose.

Everyday I read on SnapChat stories about some celebrity’s vacations or sudden acne flareup.

I read on Facebook stuff about an airport officer getting shot and a 2 year old singing perfectly a famous country singer’s song.

One can avoid reading the news you could say. That’s true. But it’s not just about story lines on social media or in the papers.

It goes deeper than that.

The power of stories is at work right now in your life and in your children’s life whether you like it or not.

Whether you realize it or not.

It’s also at work in our neighbor’s life, in our friends, in our enemies, in elected officials. Everyone.

What do I mean?

First, the obvious; what we do, what happened to us, that’s a story. You can’t say that has no power. The past impacts us all in ways we wish it didn’t sometimes. Conversely what you’re doing right now impacts you future, even though you might not want it to.

Secondly, the less obvious but perhaps a lot more powerful; the stories we pick up here and there, the one your grandpa might have told you when you went fishing with him or that time you got caught telling a really good lie. The stories big and small that we use to create. The stories that created us.

The stories that tell us what is important at all in this life.

Being an artist may come without a status but it does come with great power.

If you’re ever in doubt, please:

Never underestimate the power of a really good story.

Especially your own.

 

*Photo Credit: Eric flickr Creative Commons 2.02.0

Blue Monday 2017, Money Talk & Self-Love Magic

Today is Blue Monday 2017. As if we didn’t already have enough with Friday the 13th this month, now we have to deal with what is apparently the most “depressing” day of the year.

Surprisingly only one of the two days is surrounded by a superstitious cloud. January 16th 2017 (today) is a bad day because mathematics say so.

Yes, really.

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Credit: The Sun

I don’t know about you but I didn’t know these variables were a barometer of my mood until now.

All jokes aside, the silly idea of Blue Monday may have been thought up by some PR company but it still deserves some recognition for underlying something a lot of people, including me, do deal with at this time of year.

I’m talking about the dreading feeling that the new year will unravel to become a lot like all the other years where things didn’t turn out exactly like you wanted them to.

I mean, how often does that happen anyway. 

At this point no one even takes resolutions seriously. Everyone expects others to fail. Heck, we don’t even expect ourselves to succeed. That is if you’re being honest with yourself.

It has become a joke, a running gag because let’s face it, we’d rather laugh than cry about it.

Still, it pinches our heartstrings a little when we’re in private, looking at our reflection in the mirror.

I read in a survey that only 9% of people say they succeeded at keeping past resolutions.

It’s fair to say that most of us can put a number in for Q= time since failing our New Year’s resolution.

Which brings me to my next point; the money variable.

Nobody likes to talk about it but fact is apparently 8 out of 10 Americans are in debt.

I am. And chances are, you are too.

Weather is for sure a part of the equation too if you live in the North.

The point is there seems to be a lot of things weighing down on us at this time of the year.

I’ve sure felt it these past few weeks in my personal life. I thought I’d take the opportunity of this very special day (Blue Monday) to ask myself and you this:

So what if all the variables in our life are negative values?

Does it mean we can’t change the result?

Life isn’t a set formula. When things don’t go our way we can always include new variables.

If, like me, you’ve never liked math maybe it’s time to give it a shot.

I do believe there’s a variable that can change a lot of things.

(S)=self-love

I think Mickey would agree it’s sort of magic.

I’m personally working on quantifying it and I won’t let myself have a Blue Monday.

I hope you won’t either.

What do you think?

Have you been letting the January blues get to you?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.

 

*Photo Credit: JD Hancock flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Redefining Success

We live in a world filled with fear.

We are all afraid of death and sickness to varying degrees. Our own and those we care about.

There’s fear that makes us passive, stuck in our ways. There’s fear that fuels hate.

And there’s fear that acts as a double weapon. It gets us to stay cramped up in our little corner and fills us with hate.

Hate for ourselves.

It’s a fear arguably worse than death.

Being afraid of life and what good it can give us.  

It’s scary to believe there are opportunities for us out there. What if we go out in the world and never find any?

What then?

What if we never find any opportunity for love? Work? Fulfillment?

No possibilities for happiness.

It’s true that some roads are better left non-explored. In the wild jungle that is human experience on this planet, some paths do turn out to be full of venomous creatures.

However, there are no stories of triumph and great adventures without an exotic creepy crawly or two.

Life is not a story book. I know.

I’m not going to turn into Jane from the jungle anytime soon but the writer in me can’t ever drain life of it’s potential for imagination.

The truth is we all carry our own story of how we will be successful one day and what our life will be like then.

For some of us that book may be accumulating dust in a closet deep down in the basement but it still exists.

Maybe your success story might as well have been written on toilet paper because you only ever think about it when your life gives you crap.

When everything seems to be going wrong, you think “wouldn’t it be great to have a better place, better job, better everything?”

“To finally write that book and have it become a best-seller or get rid of everything and go on that world-tour trip who you know will change your life?”

Then when things get better you just forget about it all. I mean who cares about toilet paper besides for the moment where you really need it.

Success is the realization of all our wildest dreams for most people. It’s this grand thing that we don’t know how to get to.

I want to be a successful writer but I’m terrified of failing. On most days I feel like I should write directly on toilet paper, that’s how terrible I find my writing.

The truth is I’m already successful because I’m working on it no matter what.

I have decided today to redefine success.

I say the moment we stop being fearful of what we cannot do and achieve, success has already been reached.

What do you think?

What is your definition of success?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.

*Photo Credit: jm3 on Flickr flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Will You Take a Leap in 2017?

Jumping over something with great force and with great height is terrifying. That’s why we call it “taking a leap of faith”.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from my gymnastics days it’s exactly that.

When your one goal is to spring over a stationary object that’s almost taller than you and the only way to ever succeed is to run towards it at full speed, let’s just say you quickly understand the meaning of the expression.

Pros always make it look easy.

The truth is there are a lot of things to consider before taking what seems like a leap of faith.

There is a long moment of contemplation usually.

One has to decide which feet should go first. Then there is the question of how far away one should be before they start running.

I personally always felt better taking a few steps back before attempting anything.

Then there is the dreaded run. Confidence is high for the first few strides but the closer you get to the vault, it gets lower and lower until you either stop to run or slow down so much that jumping over is impossible.

After failing over and over to get any height from the springboard, you learn that having a good hurdle is primordial.

Ironically, a hurdle in common speak refers to a difficulty. In gymnastics it’s the name we give to the final step before performing a skill.


The beginning of a new year can feel very much like standing at the start line waiting to perform a very hard trick.

 We have a goal in front of us, the only way to get to it is by rushing towards it full speed. It’s tempting to take a step back before launching ourselves forward. Once we start actually getting somewhere we lose our confidence.

We sell ourselves short by stopping altogether or chugging along unenthusiastic-ally, making our accomplishments non-existent or non-impressive.

Every time we fail and try again we get a little more experience in facing obstacles.


 In gymnastics and in life, one day we eventually get the steps right.

A bad hurdle or hurdles don’t get in our way. We have force and height.

It seems like we will get exactly what we want. A perfect landing or that perfect career or whatever else.

It can all come crashing down.

Because even when you’ve mastered the hurdle, stuff like this still happens.

The key is getting back to the start time and time again.

Some day you may reach perfection but remember you’ll have to do it all over again. And again.

Better start working on your hurdle people!

I wish you all a happy New Year and if you happen to fall on your butt in 2017, laugh it off and start again.

What are your goals for 2017?

Are you going to be taking a leap of faith this year?

I’d love to know in the comments.

 

*Photo Credit: Araí Moleri Riva-Zucchelli flickr Creative Commons 2.0