Archive for September, 2015

I confess….it’s been more than two months since I’ve blogged. There are reasons. I’ll begin: returning from my Scandinavian and Russian sojourn in late July took the wind out of my sails. You go from the beauty of a Russian ballet one night, and stores packed full of gorgeous green Baltic amber or lovely stacked Russian dolls, and then fly into Frankfurt and finally home to Ontario. Well, it’s all a bit of a time travel jump. (This is when I wish I had a Tardis with David Tennant in it!) 🙂

As a result, I spent the first few weeks of August trying to get my sleeping patterns back in order. It wasn’t easy. Once that settled, I read Joseph Boyden’s masterpiece, The Orenda, putting it down when it hit my heart too heavily and then picking it up again when I worried about how the characters were doing. Most of August, though, to be honest, was spent dealing with severe anxiety attacks. Yup. Not the nicest way to spend an August and now it’s dragged into the fall, so I’m dealing with that the best I can. It’s always an uphill battle when you least expect it in life, I’ve found…and being creative often means (I’m afraid) that one’s head is too busy for one’s own good. More on this struggle in some future post, when I’ve gained distance from the demons, but for now….

I bought my first salt lamp in August! This is exciting because I have lusted after salt lamps for years. My friend Charmaine Kennedy owns the beautifully calming Tree of Life shop on Regent Street. Knowing they are good for cleansing your chakras and other esoteric things, I purchased one. Now, when I write or read, I put that little lamp on, and a bit of classic music, and occasionally peer out at the still green leaves on my front yard trees. That salt lamp makes me thankful. Those green leaves and trees make me grateful. The classical music calms me when I get swamped with writing deadlines or heavy loads of marking. I have big senior English classes this fall, so it’s a new learning as to how to balance my marking with my writing. My classes are lovely, though, and I am always impressed by the girls I teach.

My love affair with Kate Bush’s music spans my adult lifetime. I think I may have first heard of her from my friend Mel, back in the early 1990s, when we were studying English together at Laurentian University in Sudbury. I have a short one-act play, “Ghost of a Chance,” that will be produced at the Sudbury Theatre Centre in March 2016, so I spent part of August listening to Kate Bush’s music on my CD player (yes, I’m officially old!) and working on re-writes of the play. I think it was the link between “Wuthering Heights” and my ghost in the play….and also that I think of Kate Bush as a ground breaking feminist. The character in my play is in her late twenties, searching for herself. (I find it amusing that I’m now about to enter my mid-40s and I’m searching just as much for myself these days. Mid-life crisis? No, I don’t think so. Mid-like awakening, perhaps. If I follow my parents’ leads and don’t lead a long full life, based on genetics alone, then I’m more than half way through it all already….and maybe part of this pressure I’m feeling is that I know I have many things to do before I go….and an awareness of mortality.) Anyway, listening to Kate Bush while re-writing plays in August is not a bad way to spend your time as a hermit writer type! 🙂

I also spent the last few weeks of August, and into this month, working on moving my novel forward. It still doesn’t have a title. I’ve written just over 200 pages, so I’m thrilled with what I’ve done since February of this year. It’s coming along….but I wonder about the ending and how it arrives, or how I should best usher it along. It’s all very mystical, this first-time-novel-writing-experiment, so I’m trying to be gentle with myself.

Now, this week….in the midst of a lot of stress, I watched the Pope arrive in America and took great comfort in his visit. I’m not usually a fan of CNN, being more a BBC and CBC type of girl than a big glitzy media imbiber! Still, CNN had excellent coverage of the Pope’s visit and I was glued to the TV. I love Pope Francis. I know, I’m likely an odd one. I’m a practicing Catholic, Mary is my “home girl”, and I still have a bag full of my grandmother’s old broken rosaries that she gave me in the mid-1990s, before she died. (She used to say them in bed at night in her old house on Wembley Drive, and I’m sure the things snapped when she slept on top of them, tangled up in her nightclothes, or maybe they slipped off the mattress in the dead of night, or she may have just prayed too hard for everyone else but herself! 🙂 I’m lucky I had her as a guide in my life. We had plenty of conversations about religion when I was in my 20s. She was a fascinating conversationalist and I miss our talks tremendously. In any case, she loved John Paul II, or JP2 as my generation might have referred to him. She missed seeing Benedict arrive on the scene, but I truly believe she would have loved Francis. His devotion to Mary, his care for the environment, and his awareness of world poverty, all would have been things that would have resonated with her sweet heart.

I know a lot of people think Pope Francis is “too soft” in some ways. In truth, though, I think he’s brave. He speaks his mind, making comments about things that matter. He speaks of love and mercy, and of forgiveness. I want to believe in a world where what he preaches can be true on a daily basis, in our work places, in our shops and in our streets around the world. I know I’m idealistic. I think that’s why I’m drawn to what he preaches. He sees people on a human level. He doesn’t seem infallible to me…and maybe that’s why I am so fond of him. I love how he always closes everything with “and please, I ask you, pray for me.” He admits he has faults. He admits he struggles. He is human. Yes, he is human, but the light of Christ shines through every smile and every well chosen visit to homeless shelters or prisons. I love how he does things unexpectedly, launching himself into a crowd of faithful and shaking hands or taking selfies. (In some ways, he reminds me of my dad. He died at 78, but had a bright spirit, always laughing and joking, but full of good virtues. This guy has the same kind of steadfast kindness. I like that.)

I know that people say he hasn’t done enough, but then I read everything he has done so far and I think that he is saying things that no one has ever dared to say before. He speaks of things the Vatican has always wanted to sweep under the rug. I’m sure there are some Vatican people who don’t like his forward-thinking approach to creating a more inclusive and welcoming Catholic church in the world, but I’m glad he’s brave enough to speak of the sex abuse scandal without mincing words. On this visit, he spoke of women having a more visible role in the church, which is something I think would be wise indeed. I don’t expect things will happen instantaneously, but I am pleased that he speaks up and reminds rich bishops and cardinals of what their true role ought to be, as servants of Christ. He has to begin somewhere. At least he’s begun….it’s a start.

Yeah, so….that’s August and September for me. Quite a mishmash of thoughts, I know. I’ll be better in my next post, which I promise will be better formulated.



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