Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Me? On CBC?


It was early Saturday morning. I had already been out for my early grocery shopping outing and was on the couch with my tea barely registering what they were discussing on the TV news. The house was asleep and I was enjoying the peace and tranquility of the early morning before everyone was up. But it wouldn’t last.


A door being ripped off its hinges; a thunderous stampede up the stairs sure to break the support beams within; panicked commands to TURN ON THE RADIO - it was enough to wake anyone from a tea-induced stupor!

I usually have the radio tuned in to the weekend show ‘North by Northwest’ on CBC Radio One with Sheryl MacKay, but that morning I didn’t. I should have.

So when the half-naked man charged up the stairs, complete with bed-head and sleep-swollen eyes, and barreled through the house screaming to turn on the radio, I knew better than to ignore him. I raced over but the half-naked man had beaten me to it and was already bent over the radio that resides on a table near the floor.

CBC Radio One hosted a writing contest – enter 300 words about an epiphany that changed your life course, what happened and how you turned your life around – and I had entered. My piece, ‘Sticks and Stones,’ was about how being called a name, at age 34 no less, changed me. As the Jan 27th deadline was a while away at the time I entered, I put the whole thing to the back of my mind. Knowing that all of British Columbia would likely be entering the contest, I figured my piece would just be one of thousands lost in a pile. I was proud of myself for at least entering the contest in the first place.

But that morning they were picking stories at random to read on the air – the ONE Saturday morning I didn’t have the radio on. The contest hadn’t closed yet, so the reading didn’t mean I had won. I later remembered thinking as I entered the contest, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if they read my story on air and my husband (who listens to the soothing voice of Sheryl MacKay in the mornings as he lies in bed) heard it on the radio?’

It turned out to be funny alright. The excitement was enough to wake wake an un-impressed 17-year-old boy from his beauty sleep.

With the radio on we listened to Sheryl MacKay recite the words I wrote. I had only missed the first few sentences during the broadcast – that’s how fast my husband bolted out of bed and up the stairs. She my piece perfectly, making what I wrote sound better than I remembered. At the end she recited my name once again, and moved on to the next entrant’s work.

We stood there gushing, oohing and ahhing over the whole thing. The half-naked man didn’t know I had entered, so through giggles of excitement and tears of laughter and surprise, I explained. He was most impressed – what a supportive guy. He said he was half-asleep listening to Sheryl’s smooth voice (he likes her voice) when suddenly my name was read on air. ‘That name sounds kinda familiar’ he sleepily thought, and then REALLY woke up when he realized what was going on!

The joy and excitement settled down, the supportive half-naked man congratulated me, gave me a hug, and toddled back downstairs to jump in the shower. ‘After all that, I’m awake now!’ he announced without bitter resentment from being woken from his sleepy state. I was lucky.

I stood by the radio wanting to savour the moment of having heard my work read on the air. It was only after Brian Dance started with the news that I realized – my half-naked husband and I had been standing by an open window the whole time.

I learned a few things that exciting morning. Always listen to CBC during the weekend mornings and always leave the drapes closed. You never know what may happen.

CBC Radio Victoria Open House

CBC Radio Victoria has a new home in Victoria, BC, and they are having an open house – be sure to visit!
Friday January 25, 2013
780 Kings Road (the parking lot entrance at the back of the CHEK building)
6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

(authors note: I have permission from the half-naked man to air his adventures.)
(at the time of this writing, the CBC writing contest is still on, deadline January 27, 2013 - be sure to get writing!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Time for a change in January?

As the month of January suddenly appears on calendars everywhere, thoughts of new beginnings, fresh starts, and making and keeping resolutions are on the minds of many.

Laura Langston’s article in the January/February 2013 issue of YAM Magazine, 'A Change for the Better' (page 56) explores resolutions and goal-setting by examining habits; how to make ‘em, break ‘em, and keep ‘em.

Through spot-on research and keen interviews, she looks at how habits are integral in keeping resolutions and achieving goals. And what goes hand-in-hand with habits? Routine. Without a routine, those habits can’t be fostered. And without habits being created or broken, resolutions and goals more often than not don’t come to fruition.

Laura is a master at routines and habits, herself, to achieve what she has so far. With countless books published for young children and in recent years books for young adults (see, she is also a regular contributor for YAM Magazine, as well as the group blog, The Pen Warriors.

Laura's article contains an interview she did with me about how maintaining my own routines and habits helped me accomplish my own goals and dreams. I am honoured to have been interviewed by her, and as well, am honoured to have her as my writing colleague, mentor and friend.

It’s never too late to plan your own resolutions and goals. Be sure to check out Laura's article in YAM Magazine, free on newsstands around Victoria, BC, and also found online here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Got Halls?

Words - and wise words - come in the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times.

I had been wallowing in self-pity due to stress and worry about too many things going on all at once. Which, when handled carefully, can be kind of fun when the wallowing includes over-indulging in chocolate and anything with salt.

Yes, comparatively, my worries were minor compared to the greater, bigger issues of life. But at the time, everything in my head rolled around like a vicious tornado, robbing me of my clear thoughts and, most importantly, my writing creativity. I couldn’t think of anything to write.

Very often I hear writers complaining about never having anything to write about. I have written many articles lamenting, professing and nagging that there is always something to write about. If you’re a writer, you write, and that’s all there is to it. I had always been proud of the fact I was always writing something; I could always find something to write about.

But lately as that tornado of worry and wallow robbed me of my concentration and writerly thoughts, it was also playing havoc with my self-confidence. Writers are often deemed as ‘tortured artists’ and I sometimes wonder if it applies to me, as I am often my own worst enemy. Berating myself when the words didn’t come and where the ones that did seemed trite and forced, I began to wonder if I really was a writer. So I wallowed some more, ate more chocolate, and then wallowed even more. I was feeling like a fraud. I knew I should practice what I preach – I am a writer, I write, and that’s all there is to it.

But through it all I did keep writing, even though what I wrote was crap. I have many false starts that will forever sit in my hard-drive. I kept trying to push through the crappy days and fought to get past my tongue-tied creativity, even if it only frustrated me. My self-confidence was taking a beating, and I was sure I would never be able to write another word again.

So the other day I (seemingly) had nothing to write. My confidence was gone, the chocolate was depleted, and I had just about given up and decided to take a break from writing for a few days. Then, to add to my woes, I got a tickle in my throat.

OH GREAT! Just what I needed. A cold on top of it all!!!

So forcing to be happy, calm, and repeat chants like this too shall pass, I reached into a bag of Halls Triple Soothing Action cherry throat lozenges.

Just as I was about to unwrap one, something on the wrapper caught my eye, and instantly my woes about a potential cold disappeared.

‘You can do it and you know it’ was printed in dark ink, boldly glaring up at me from the beige wrapper.

I stared at the lozenge for a second, feeling kind of spooked, like someone was on to me. There were other encouraging words on the wrapper, but none as poignant as those eight words. Upon frantic, excited inspection, I discovered all the other lozenges in the bag had wrappers with other encouraging words and phrases. The lozenge makers were pretty smart, printing 'pick me ups' on the wrapper for those feeling low and needing a boost. Those encouraging words were just what I needed.

It was at that moment that I realized – don’t try so hard. Things like words – and wise words – do come when it’s time. Accept things for what they are at the moment, and with patience, time, and without being so hard on myself, tornados to do go away, and all will be clearer once again. Wise words, and things to write about, do come at the most unexpected times.

I never did eat the wise-words covered lozenge. It’s tacked to the corkboard in my office/bathroom. The tickle in my throat is gone. My resolve to keep going, to achieve what I want despite little road-bumps in life, is renewed.

I unexpectedly found something to write about. I could do it and I knew it – if I wanted it bad enough.

Thanks, Halls©.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Don't Give Up....

In the first week of January the post-Christmas sales are still going strong, decorations are slowly being stashed away to wait for next year, and leftovers are quickly being consumed (um, by me, of course). And usually by then, if not before, resolutions are made.

And with those leftovers come resolutions of better diet and exercise habits. And with those post-Christmas sales come resolutions of spending less money. Resolution upon resolution, goals upon goals are made, and this is good; doing so works for many, especially me. I have my own resolutions and goals I make every year, and I often keep them – um, maybe not all of them all the time, but heck, no one’s perfect, right? But I work towards fulfilling, keeping and maintaining them, and usually, in some form or another, I do.

But this past year I realized three words that could be the underlying theme to any goal or resolution: Don’t Give Up.

Those three words could be a resolution in itself.

I had an ‘interesting’ year with health and other personal issues. Resolutions and goals I set at the beginning of the year were constantly challenged. I had personal development goals, as well as professional goals to do with both my day job and my writing career. Various events threatened to trip me up, challenging me to give in and give up. But I had put these goals down on paper, and doing so solidified them. Posting little inspirational reminder notes around my bathroom mirror served as a daily reminder and urged me to keep going.

Some days were easier than others. To keep going, to keep working towards what I wanted was not always easy. Life challenges, being tired and cranky, or sheer laziness or procrastination was sometimes a threat, but I kept telling myself ‘If I want it bad enough, I’ll do it.’

And it’s true. If you want something bad enough, you’ll do it, and you won’t give up. Push yourself to see how far you can go - you never know unless you start.

Don’t give up on losing five pounds. And when you DO lose those five, go for two more. You know you can do it. Don’t give up.

Don’t give up on saving money for the trip to Hawaii. You WILL get there – one penny at a time.

Don’t give up on finishing that novel; one word a time, one page a time.

Don’t give up on getting it published. If you want it bad enough you’ll listen to criticism with an open and professional mind, and use it to make your book better and therefore, hopefully, saleable. Look at all those who published before you - they didn't give up.

Don’t give up on maintaining and keeping relationships with loved ones. They’re only here once.

Don’t give up on you - make yourself proud.

Don’t give up on training your pet guinea pig to ‘go’ in the litter box; one paw at a time, one piddle at a time. You’ll both get there with patience, love and determination.

So when you make your resolutions and goals for the year and write them down, at the top and bottom of the list be sure to put ‘Don’t Give Up.’ And you won’t.