Category Archives: Author

You have a superpower

Oh yes you do.

The youth leader at our church introduced me to the book What’s My Superpower? by Aviaq Johnston. Within that book lies the answer.

The main character, Nalvana thinks that everyone but her has a superpower. She has friends who run fast, build with super strength and dangle from monkey bars for hours.

Every day she watches her friends and wishes she could do what they do. She tells them how great they are.

Nalvana is feeling badly until her mother helps her to recognize her own superpower. It’s a power we all have, if we choose to see it.

Nalvana makes people feel good.

Book cover: What's My Superpower, by Aviaq Johnston

Leap Day: The gift of an extra day

Most years have 365 days, but leap years have an extra one.

I know that time is a human construct and all that, but when we have the gift of an extra day, we should take best advantage. This post is inspired by the poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver. That poem ends with:

Tell me what else I should have done? | Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do | With your one wild and precious life?

The Extra Day

Where to be today? Who to spend it with? What makes my soul leap, like the day?

There is a place.

The one where I plug in to recharge, where each face is love reflected, where the synapses of my brain snap with new ideas, faster and deeper, where the rainbow falls on the tree of life.

Reassurance and growth.

Wisdom and compassion.

This is where people are SEEN, where peace is made, where we question how to live, where graces falls on us all.

This is where I dance “Like a Prayer,” I travel on pilgrimages, and where my head sizzles.

Here, children’s laughter ripples through the air. I thrill in their sparks of insight, and their truckloads of questions. Here is where I say, “I don’t know.”

In this place, people are fed, body and soul, smiles right the world, and friends embrace in tight hugs.

Spicy soup simmering, tart, sweet pies, pinkie squares.

Guitar strings strumming, harmonious voices, organ crescendos.

A silent night of candles and tears.

This is where I am.

A place of steadfast friendships, where good grows out of my mistakes.

Wisdom and compassion. Healing through hardship and celebration after the light returns.

Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Do you have a place like this? May you find it and spend this gifted extra day there.

Embracing interruptions

I’m away on a short vacation – interrupting my routine. While I’m travelling, I’m re-posting some old posts from my previous blog site. Enjoy.

One of the joyous frustrations of freelance writing is its unpredictable variety.

Notebook with blank pages.

I never know if I’ll be writing about money, or toilet installation, or chickens, or veterans, or crows, or . . . the list goes on. I never know when I’ll receive the last-minute phone calls. I get up in the morning with plans to do something and then, BAM, the phone rings. My whole day gets knocked sideways.

The frustration happened yesterday. The phone call came and all the things I’d planned to do and write about got swept off my calendar. It’s difficult to make firm plans. And if you ever drop by my house and see dust on the furniture, you know why.

The joy comes from learning about new things all the time. I am so lucky to never feel like I’m in a rut. I get paid to write! How great is that? 

Another joyous benefit of my freelance writing career is the reading I do on many topics. Years ago, one of those reading stints led to me this best piece of advice:

Embrace interruptions.

When I’m writing, I focus. I dive deep down into a well of creative thought and if someone speaks to me I need to swim my mind up through sludge to the surface again. I can practically hear the murky bubbles around me.

Interruptions used to drive me bonkers.

Now I tell myself: There is a purpose behind this interruption. How does it benefit me?

It gives me a chance to get a drink or go to the bathroom. It makes me notice the typo I overlooked before, once I settle back into place and look with refreshed eyes at the work I’ve done. It gives me an extra 24 hours to write a blog post.

Interruptions come in big and small sizes too.

There’s the simple, “Mom, are we out of milk?” kind of interruption, and then there’s the, “You need to take this. I’m afraid there’s bad news,” kind of phone call that knocks a life sideways for weeks, or months, or years. The big ones are harder to embrace, but perhaps it’s even more important to look for the gifts in those doozies.

There is a purpose behind your interruptions. How do they benefit you?

Work, rest, play, or all three at once

What did you do for work this summer?

For rest?

For play?

How often did you work, rest and play at the same time?

Those questions were the topics for discussion at my church recently, and we were surprised to discover how often we choose to spend our time doing things that feed us in more ways than one.

Rocky shoreline of Lake Huron
I spent some time this summer on the shores of Lake Huron.

Gardening, for example, is work for sure, but meditative and joy-filled too. We take days to prepare for camping trips and more days cleaning up after, but the time spent resting by the campfire or playing in the lake make it all worth while. A hike up a forest path accelerates our heart rate and strains the muscles, and then we get to enjoy the view and sleep really well at night.

When those questions were asked of me, writing came to mind.

Facing down the blank page is hard work.

Writing is hard work. Whether it’s paid work for my jobs or labouring over the second draft of my novel, I must give of myself mentally, physically and emotionally—sometimes painfully—to get words on the page.

I also play with the words, move them around, change them, and chew on them until they feel just right. I feel that jolt of joy when I know that I’ve captured some elusive idea exactly right.

I’m a writer because it’s something I need to do. When I have fulfilled that need, expended the energy and played with ideas, gratified rest follows. Even if I know a work is not complete or that I will need to revisit a paragraph or concept, I rest with the same sense of accomplishment that the hiker experiences at the top of the mountain. The rest serves my writing too. When I step away and then return, the time away gives me fresh perspective and I see ways to make the work even better.

What did you do this summer? Did it feel like nothing but work? Did you play? Have you rested?

The garden sanctuary I look at when I am working, playing and resting while writing in my back yard.

July 4, Zimmerman, finishing, and weeds

On this eve of July 4, I could write about how much I love America. What a beautiful, amazing country it isand how I’m worried about it.

In the past, when I travelled internationally the first question people asked when they heard my accent was: Are you American? Now, it is: Are you Canadian? Best not to lead with “America,” I’m told, because people who aren’t American get too offended.

Internationally, things are not great, America. Just sayin’. But I’m pulling for ya!

Or, I could write about how my son graduated from university and how proud of him I am. And how convocation ceremonies are the most joyful, mind-numbing experiences we humans have ever come up with. At my son’s convocation we celebrated when he kneeled to be hooded, and when we reached the final name in the looooooooooooooong list. Zimmerman! Yay!

I could also write about how I’ve finished a first draft of a novel after writing for a really, really, really (really) long time. I had started to wonder if I would ever finish. I have. Good for me.

Exploding fireworks

But that’s really all I have to say about all of those things. But because I’ve been finishing my first draft, travelling to my son’s grad, and celebrating Canada Day, I haven’t had any time to weed my garden.

Weeding . . . that’s a good topic. I recommend you read about it on Tuesdays with Laurie: Gardening.

An invitation to ponder the people, places, things, events, and opportunities in your life that are not positive, uplifting, constructive, or healing, or that don’t support the best version of you. I’ll do that while I’m in my garden pulling out actual weeds.

Weed-filled flowerbed

So THAT’S what happens: Being at peace with life

Sometimes it’s difficult to find peace when nasty surprises upset our lives. Sometimes it’s even a challenge to savour fun events or exciting bonuses.

We waste time evaluating whether something is “good” or “bad.” We forget to head straight to accepting what is.

And appearances can be deceiving. Events that appear catastrophic at first can lead to unforeseen good fortune. Other occurrences that strike us as boundless good luck turn out to be the opposite.

All of us would love to have 100 percent control over what happens in our lives. But we don’t. Unplanned events inevitably derail our plans.

When that happens to me, I try to remember to rise above it and survey everything as an impartial observer. I try to view whatever comes—no matter what it is—as a big, welcome surprise.

“So THAT’s what happens!”

Stuck in the slow line at the grocery store? So THAT’S what happens! A winning goal for your hockey team in overtime? So THAT’S what happens! You’re fired? So THAT’S what happens!”

It’s easier to be at peace with unforeseen twists of fate — illnesses, riches, petty disagreements, journeys, friends, deaths or births — if all of them, no matter what , are viewed as big, welcome surprises.

So THAT’s what happens! Surprise!

I wonder what happens next?

An arrow pointing to the right with the word Next on it