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Archive for the ‘Heroes’ Category

Convincing yourself you’re too busy to read is almost worse than convincing yourself you’re too busy to write. The truth is, you are never too busy to do either. Yes, there are things that may shrivel if they aren’t tended to. Creditors might start calling, friends might stop calling, a few pounds may be gained and your menu de jour may suffer, but I’ll tell you what won’t bloom if you fail to stop and sniff the dust jackets – your dreams.

A writer must do many (oh so dauntingly many) things to hone and cultivate their craft, one of which is, you guessed it, writing. But the other is reading. It’s crucial to a writer. What to do, and often times more to the point, what not to do, can be learned from losing yourself in someone else’s work.

For what seems like forever, I’ve been depriving myself of this easily accessible and potentially enjoyable education. Except, it hasn’t been forever. As a child, teen and young adult, I was a gluttonous reader. And, when my own kids were young and I was only slightly less than housebound, I devoured whatever I could get my hands on; Anita Shreve and Frank McCourt kept me company even while furious fingers and miniature mouths savagely suckled syrup-sweet sustenance.

Yes, while flying in planes, riding in cars, enduring long waits and relaxing under stars, I would read; an insatiable, undeterrable, indisputable addict of the written word.

So, what changed? Put simply, me.

When did I change? Just so happens it was during the most crucial time possible; the time when I began to think about writing in a more serious fashion.

Why did I change? I’m not sure even I understand it completely, but here’s the gist. I developed a mindset – if I wasn’t writing my own stuff, I didn’t deserve the privilege of reading others’.

Big, no…enormous mistake. Reading is inspiring, enlightening, developmental and motivational. Why would I deprive myself of that?

Well, it’s also shaming.

A writer’s writer hat rarely, if ever, gets tossed onto the banister or into the back seat. We read with writing on our minds. We taste each word with a different condiment. A boatload of gravy; “Awesome, that’s the way I would’ve written it.” A pinch of salt; “Ooh, I wish I’d thought of that.” A dollop of sour cream; “If I’d actually sit down and write, I could come up with something just as good.” Too much salt; “I am so jealous, my mouth is puckering.” So much rich chocolate sauce it gives you a bellyache; “I will never write as well as that.”

In all honesty, dreaming, talking and writing about writing will get us nowhere. It takes focus and intent. It begs experience and exploration. It demands we eat, sleep and breathe our craft and that of likeminded others. Never forget this. As writers, we not only deserve to read the work of others, we owe it to our own readers even more. Without it, we are just babbling buffoons.

If you need a pivotal place to partake, I hear that Khaled Hosseini guy is pretty proficient.

Oh, the shame.

Me, inhaling "And The Mountains Echoed" at the lake this week

Me, inhaling “And The Mountains Echoed” at the lake this week

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Well, it’s pouring.  No, let me change that to bucketing.  For some, a depressing downer of a wet day, but for me, a perfect opportunity to hole up fireside and delve into post number fifty-one.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to come to this place and point for inspiration.  After all, I love this lady, her story, her blog and her wonderful book.  She came highly recommended by a friend of mine a few years ago and let me tell you, one taste and I was hooked.

A ‘foodie’ I am not, but I do eat the stuff and I find it’s much, much better when delicious.  (Simply picturing me winking here is sufficient because when I actually do it, I look a bit like my back just went out)  I digress…

This Superwoman does it all; blogs, cooks, writes books, snagged a husband is a wife, runs businesses, grows babies, photographs all of the above and looks fabulous while doing it.

I’d like to say I adore this (insert one specific thing about her here) the most, but I can’t.  The whole package is just crazy palatable.  Her writing style is seducingly smooth; her subject matter, quite literally devourable.

Spending endless hours in the scullery, or simply eating what comes your way, this master of many trades will arrive at your heart’s doorstep whether she journeys there mentally or digestively.

The site: Orangette, the heroine: Molly Wizenberg.

Molly started her blog in 2004 and published her book in 2009.  Her blog is still going strong and her book is a must-read.  She connects food, dishes and recipes with reflections and her descriptives will have you salivating.  The cuisine is undeniably delectable but honest accounts of her days in Paris, her father and his passing will have your heart aching.

Her very first blog post is here and a glimpse into her book can be found here.

This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t acknowledge her grace and generosity.  In March 2011, I emailed Molly, asking if she’d meet in an alley at Delancey (which she happens to own) during one of the nights I’d be in town.  I never expected an answer, but thought it would be a good story, me explaining the nutty thing I’d attempted to pull off.

As luck would have it, she replied.

Within an hour…maybe less…I had an email from Molly Wizenberg saying; “Sure.”

I was ahh-mazed, ahh-stounded and ahh-bsolutely freaking out.

*Side Note: I am in no way encouraging anyone to follow my lead.  This was over a year ago and ‘Mrs. Wizenberg’ has since started a second book, had a baby and opened another bar/restaurant (named Essex, FYI) and is, presumably, much, much busier than she was way back then.

I was very touched by her kindness and will never forget the evening or the experience.  If you ever happen to read this, oh great one, I thank you from the bottom of my writer-reader heart.

By the way…the food just happened to be top-notch.

Molly and Hazy hangin’ Delancey style.

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liebster blog award

Awards…I’ll admit it here and now, in blood (or keyboard type and virtual paper as this case may be) for all to see; awards pinken my cheeks and ignite my very being with quivers of pleasure. It’s also kinda special that this comes alongside my 50th post.

I write this blog to satiate a passion for creativity and I get a somewhat insane rush from knowing people out there are so generously reading the words I have linked together on a shoestring budget of ability.

Much like my pal over at WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot4 (yes, that’s W…T…F…4 for those of you who are afraid to ask), I am tickled this platform exists to draw us all that much closer to knowing what makes one another tick.

I thank her for the nomination and will follow her lead in bestowing you with five, hopefully not sleep-inducing things about me:

1. I am a perfectionist and sadly, this gets in the way of me completing, umm…most things in my life. That, if you can’t do it perfectly er, right, don’t do it at all mentality is a real buzz kill.

2. I love hard work. Tough to admit, but I love doing things like cleaning the whole house and feeling the ache at the end of the day. (I have to do less and less to feel the same amount of ache with each passing year – score) I’m pretty sure I was a workhorse in another life. Or, maybe that’s this life – I might be confused.

3. I’m a Make-Up Artist by day and while I adore painting faces, I’d gladly pack up my colorful kit should someone hand me an advance and a book deal, only having the caboodle resurface for free family, friends and fun.

4. Contrary to my list of friends and often-full house, I am not a social butterfly. I’ll kick back with the best of them and have a darn good time while doing it, but I very much relish alone time and am rarely pining when hanging with me, myself and I.

5. I am a tough Irish girl. Everyone who knows me can attest to that. What they might not realize, and I can only hold myself responsible for this suppression, is that on the inside I’m as fragile as a twig bearing a heavy load of snow. I’m easily broken.

WTF4’s questions for me:

1-If you could for one day be the opposite sex, what would you do? I would enjoy being able to say whatever I want and have it not be the end of the world.

2-What is your favourite book of all time? No fair! There are too many favorites for too many different reasons! But ok, if you’re going to make me choose – “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors” by Roddy Doyle.

3-What is the one thing you least love about yourself and the one thing you most love about yourself? The fact that I’m a perfectionist and, the fact that I’m a perfectionist. And a bonus: the fact that I’m a perfectionist who rarely does anything perfectly.

4-IF you won ALOT of money, how would you use it? I’d pay off my massive debt and then see what everyone else needs. After that, I’d reinstall the bathroom that I ripped out two years ago and ah, never replaced.

5-Sadly, b/c we all die….cremated, buried or burned? Your choice is….? CREMATION. No way, no how I wanna be rotting in a claustrophobic box 8 feet under. Sorry folks!

As per being graced with a Liebster nomination, it is my pleasure to pass along the cheer. Here are my five nominees: (Some have more than 300 followers, but I’m a rebel)

1 Story A Week

www.1storyaweek.com

A blog for short stories – original, entertaining and written in that easy tone that is so very difficult to achieve.

lth0ms0n

www.lth0ms0n.wordpress.com

Self-described as a “neurotic twenty-something”, I admire this young man’s dedication to his passion and his desire to spread it through the written word.

Renew Moon Yoga

www.renewmoonyoga.wordpress.com

Not just Yoga, Renew Moon is a place to find comfort, inspiration and good reads.

Colored Brush

www.coloredbrush.com

Following her dreams, she paints with imagination, glorious color and the freedom of a creative mind.

Saige Wisdom

www.saigewisdom.blogspot.ca

Saige, (aka) Sara is funny, generous and downright clever. Her blog is entertaining, informative and, at times, heart-achingly honest.

The above five have now been officially nominated and it is their choice (all obligation forbidden here) to keep the party going. Should they choose to rock it, here’s the drill:

~ Write a post with a link to me for the nomination

~ List a few ‘facts’ about yourself to share

~ Answer my five questions

~ Nominate a self-chosen amount of your fave bloggers (with three hundred or less followers)

Here are their questions:

1 ~ What drives you to do whatever it is you do?

2 ~ What brings you the most joy in life?

3 ~ Are you where you want to be at this stage in the game?

4 ~ If you could change one decision you’ve made in life, it would be…?

5 ~ Sweet, savory or both?

Good Lord – I think that wraps it up!

Again, thanks to WTF4 for the vote of confidence and the motivation to write today.

Thanks to all of you for reading!

Hazy out.

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This is the fourth and final instalment.  (the story is below in its entirety)

Destiny’s betrayed me, I think as I slam my breakfast into the sink. The spoon clangs in protest and milk lashes out over the rim of the bowl and onto my hand.

I should’ve been a shoe-in.  No, I was a shoe-in. Heavy rain made angry pangs on the balcony’s cement and I focused on the miniature water bombs.

I’d put in for a new job placement two weeks ago; Head of Displays.

The Box, a large designer store, had employed me for six years and I’d snailed my way up and over the shelves from part-time stock girl to full-time smock girl while slogging through an upper echelon school for which I was still making hefty monthly payments. It had taken me four years to attain my Bachelor’s and I felt I’d more than proven my commitment to fashion.

“And along comes Denise”, I pretty much spit as I paw at the milk dots on the cuff of my blazer with a damp cloth. “Or ‘Denise the piece’ as she’s known amongst the male lunch crew when they think no one sporting alternative equipment is around.

“Piece…my ass!” I chuck the cloth into the sink to join the bowl and spoon. It stares me down while sullenly sucking up the spilled milk.

Denise appeared about a year ago. I’d choked on her perfume before she’d even hit the lunchroom, decked in a low cut blouse, red hot mini and leopard stilettos; complete with ballooning bosom and legs all aglow.

I had to admit I’d known in that instant that I was doomed. If Nigel had gotten any closer she could’ve breast fed him and every other male in the room would’ve stood in line behind him.

My boss is a lady’s man. At least, he tries to be. Nigel is tall and lanky, never having surpassed his high school physique and in his skinny ties he reminds me of a zipper, his tongue, the toggle. His black hair is a little too shiny and his thickly rimmed glasses don’t quite depict a scholar. He’s always been nice enough to me, but I’m not his type and to show my gratitude for that, I try not to step back when his spit bubbles burst onto my face. Nigel’s a bit of a close-talker.

I look around the kitchen. It’s clean and tidy and for ridiculous reasons this brings me some peace and the strength to head into work.

Snatching my satchel from the velour chair in my entry, I check for my phone.  Straightening my slim-cut cargos, I slip my feet into well-worn combat boots and take a deep breath. Grabbing an umbrella, I swing it like a sword and march out the door.

I don’t make my usual stop for a skinny macchiato.   It’s raining too hard and my hands are too full, one gripping my swaying umbrella, and the other, my slippery phone.  Aware that any sensible person would ignore a text under these conditions, I swipe away, trying to access Nikki’s message but my fingers are wet and slide uselessly over the slick screen.

I’d vented to her last night over the phone after she’d told me what Denise had said and she was probably worried I was about to do something crazy.

My attempt futile, I slip the phone back in my pocket and wish I’d made a java stop after all.  Now I’d be forced to drink the ‘coffee’ Troy made every morning.  Bless his little stock boy heart.

The store is quiet and everything, as it always does when The Box is closed, seems surreal.  I know a lot of the staff feel eerie in the big store when it’s not open for business, but not me. My spirits lift the moment that warm whoosh of air escapes the big glass doors and meets my face.  There’s something about the white, high-glossed floors and the atmosphere fused with leather, lavender, lotions and limitless blood, sweat and tears.  It’s home to me.

Taking a moment to right myself, pulling in the calm and pushing out the clutter, I feel my heart rate slow as drops of water meander off my boots and onto the gleaming floor.

“Mornin’ Lenore,” Seth greets me as he places a bold Caution: Wet Floor sign on the tile. “Jeez, yer soakin’ the place.   Dry up, would ya?”

“Very funny,” I reply. “Don’t push my buttons today Seth, cuz I can’t be held responsible for my actions.”

“Aww, the weather ain’t that bad!  Chin up, doll face.”

Seth, you’re pushing…” I walk away smiling.  “I’ll see you at lunch.”

The ride up the arced escalator is soothing and the view from half way is simply stunning.  I drift up backwards, taking it in.  The Swarovski handrails glisten and magnificent flecks are scattered throughout the store.  Billowing silk screens, blown by forced air, almost lick me as I glide by and Jalisse, a raven-haired black beauty looks like she’s swooning to the piped-in Musak as she greets me at the top.  Draped in a royal blue Maxi dress, she smiles gracefully, letting me know I made the right choice.  Her new attire pleases her.

I’m almost completely pacified by the time I step off.  My ‘you didn’t get the promotion because I’m in love with Denise’ worries nearly forgotten, I pass Jalisse and notice a dot on her chin, a little white chip marring her beautiful milk chocolate complexion.

Tiny, but enough to drive me right back to crazy town.

Vigor returning, I head to the lunchroom sporting blinders to all around me.

“Nigel, I need to talk to you.”  I look directly at him and head for the coffee pot.

He’s sitting in a fuchsia chair at the lunch table, long fingers wrapped around a cup of sludge.  His dark, thin brows lift when he hears my tone.

“Well, you’re all business bright n’ early, love.  Not even a mornin’ for your crackerjack boss, then eh?”  Nigel’s British lilt, though normally one of his few redeeming qualities, borders on annoying this particular day.

“I’m not kidding, boss.  A serious face to face – when are you free?”

I look down at the dark liquid spilling out of the carafe.  With bits and pieces of brown substance bobbing up and over the spout, I swear I see an entire bean pass through the flow and into my mug, Espresso, stock boy style.

His fingers punctuate his words and as he stands, Nigel’s tie uncurls like a snake’s tongue.  “I may have time post lunch,” he grazes on my attire, tasting his way from my boots up to my shabby but chicly ‘bunned’ hair.  “You do have a way when it comes to assembling”, he observes.  “An eclectic ensemble indeed.

Reluctant to portray self-doubt, I don’t review my outfit in front of him, but resurrect a mental image of my full-length mirror from this morning; Meh, I was good.

“I do like to think outside The Box once in a while, you know Nige…?  There are options beyond…” Small pools of sweat form in my pits as I wonder if my metaphor is over his head, but I continue to doctor my coffee, now morphing into a latte as I add more and more milk.

“As I say,” he sprays, slipping silently up beside me; “I’ll text you after my lunch.  I’m not sure how long I’ll be with Denise,” Was it my imagination or did he hiss the S?  “But it won’t be quick, I’m sure.”

“Actually,” I venture, “I don’t think I can make it ‘til lunch.  I need to talk now.”

My phone buzzes like an angry hornet trapped in my pocket.  The pools of sweat begin trickling down my sides and the waist of my Cargos becomes Martina Navratilova’s headband.

Nigel tries peering at me without turning his head, but the arm of his specs proves too wide to see past.

Lenore, love.  It wouldn’t be prudent until I’ve taken care of the other business, yeah? Sensitivity’s of the utmost…I wouldn’t like her to be the last to know.”

A snap of his tongue and he slithers away.  I toss his cold mug into the sink and use my still damp cuff to wipe his venom off my forehead.

Unable to ignore it any longer, I swat to squash the mad buzz but when I see I have twenty-two notifications from Nikki, my heart drops.

“Red alert,” most of them begin.  “It was a set-up – promo yours. Abort, abort!”

The urge to slap Denise was fierce, nothing new there, but absolutely foreign to me was wanting to kiss Nigel.  In the blink of a text his snake’s skin had shed and he’d emerged a Superhero, complete with tight blue suit and red cape.

As quickly as the thought came, I let it go.  I’d almost quit a job I loved over a rumor and I wasn’t about to start another.

I’d quietly stroke the snake.  No skin off my back.

 

Okay, so I couldn’t find a Superhero snake…

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I’m afraid I’ve become a sayer rather than a doer. This wasn’t my intent. In fact, it was just the opposite. This blog was, in my eyes, a way for me to write on a regular basis; a stovetop on which to whip up tidy, complete meals and instant satisfaction. But in my forage for nourishment, it may have instead become a fridge full of leftovers; empty calories and unfulfilled dreams. Ironically, a little like my own cooking.

Speaking of mad kitchen skills, my husband and I had a lovely meal the other night, me nowhere near the oven. We cozied up in a wonderful, local restaurant. I sat taking in a view of the glistening ocean, a few glasses of robust vino and, a little later, an off the cuff comment; “You write too much about writing. You should, you know, write a novel (again) or something,” he said.

I won’t lie; it didn’t come as a shock. I have, in the very back crevices of my noggin’, felt a pang of recognition regarding this every time I start a new post.

He’s right, I do write about writing…a lot, but I feel I’m moving forward, albeit in baby steps. Perhaps this is how I’m finding my way, a cookbook of sorts.

I enjoy writing these posts immensely. I take great pleasure in imagining that I’m honing my skill and revving my engine. I cherish the fact that I may be of some slight inspiration to others who are attempting to follow their hearts and fulfill their dreams. I feel like I’m doing something about the direction in which I want my life to head. All good things, yes? Yes.

He’d second-guessed himself the moment it was out; worried he’d smothered the struggling fire of hope only just beginning to catch in my heart.

But I can only see the positive in my husband’s observation. A touch of lighter fluid always fuels a flame.

It means my subject matter has been clear, my blog has a theme (who knew),  and (this is the best part) he’s actually been reading my posts. Hope burns eternal.

Fiery Vintage Stove

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“Fall down seven times, stand up eight”

My post today was going to depict dog-eared folks who have beaten the odds. They’ve achieved success on bountiful levels despite battered introductions and experiences in this world.

It was going to be about those who have essentially clawed themselves free from what would be seen as unsalvageable ruin and rubble and found their way to a breathing hole. People who have taken ownership of the debris and repurposed it into a life of their own; a life to be proud of.

I was going to write about Kevin (The Kid) Lewis who persevered his sadistic, abusive parents and the debacle they called a ‘home’. He struggled with right and wrong, suicide and self-deprivation long past his escape from outside influences and went on to follow his dreams of acceptance, family, writing and movie production.

I would’ve written about Nick Vujicic; born with a rare disease called Tetra-Amelia Syndrome. Yup, no arms, no legs. Contemplating suicide at the tender age of eight, love for his family carried him through the tough times. Nick went on to achieve vast successes, large and small. He is a University Graduate with a double major,  a preacher, an inspirational and motivational speaker, the founder (at seventeen) of Life Without Limbs, a non-profit organization and an author. In February 2012, he married his sweetheart. Talk about getting up when you’re down.

I could’ve told you about Randy Pausch; Husband, Father of three, Science Professor and Childhood Dream Achiever. He trusted in optimism prior to his Pancreatic Cancer and it served him well throughout his life. His ‘glass half full’ outlook carried him, respected and accomplished, to his death. It also scored him three years as opposed to the original three-month prognosis.

When told he had three months to live due to his tumor-riddled liver, he simply continued on with his lifelong legacy; positivity, video logs for his wife and children, one last book and one Last Lecture.

I’d ‘ve brought to your attention, Elizabeth (Liz) Murray. She came into the world through poor, drug-addicted, eventually HIV positive parents.  When her Mother died of AIDS, Elizabeth, fifteen, was homeless and left to fend for herself. She graduated high school in just two years while supporting herself and her sister. Snagging the New York Times Scholarship for needy students, Elizabeth was accepted into Harvard U in 2000. She left in 2003 to care for her ailing Father, continuing her schooling at Columbia to remain close to him.

He succumbed to AIDS in 2006, permitting her to return to Harvard to complete her Psychology degree. Today she is a motivational speaker and founder of the company Manifest Living.

My post would’ve included Aron Ralston. Somewhat of a pro climber, Ralston took an ‘easy’ hike and became imprisoned Between a Rock and a Hard Place. After five days of hallucinating and sipping his own urine, he had little choice but to amputate his trapped right arm with the dull blade of a multi-tool. His fortitude and fight for life carried him up and out of the canyon to eventual safety.

Aron is now an expert rock climber, using various extensions for his prosthetic arm, one of them being an ice pick for glaciers. He’s a motivational speaker, an author, a husband and a father. If you haven’t read his book, I strongly urge you to do so. Not only is it can’t put it down riveting, it’s fantastically written. This guy had the moxie to survive and the writing chops to prove he was meant to tell the story.

I was going to write about these people who are brimming with negatives turned positives, who ooze strength, courage and determination, who have taken their pain and unfairities and spun them into the stuff dreams are made of…the material of Superman’s suit…hero producing, goal achieving champions of challenge.

I was going to sing their praises and draw your attention to their utter and absolute amazingness.  I was excited to write about all of them…and then I realized they don’t want me to speak for them. They insist on speaking for themselves.

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