November is just around the corner.

November is National Novel Writing Month, and if you don’t know what that is, please click on the above image because The Office of Letters and Light will do a better job of explaining it to you than me. During the month of November I do my best to write 50,000 words in thirty days. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at novel-writing November is the perfect month to start because you’ll have 300,000 other people there to motivate you and encourage you and help you leap over plot holes.

I could tell you that it’s easy and that 50,000 words is not a lot, but that would be a giant fib and I’m not going to lie to you. I will tell you that winning feels AMAZING and you get a sense of  accomplishment even if you know that your novel is going to require some serious editing later. There will be late nights and early mornings and getting eight hours of sleep at least one night a week will seem like an impossibility. Caffeine will become the newest love of your life for the duration of the month and you will get enormous dark circles under your eyes but after a while you’ll stop caring about your appearance because it takes away from your writing time. You will make new friends and have an intelligent support network (via the NaNo forums)  at your beck and call at any time you need them, because you can’t afford to get lost on Wikipedia.

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of: I can’t write a novel in a month! I have no idea what to write about and I don’t have a plot. BUT YOU CAN and it will be brilliant. I had a general idea that I wanted to do something with Fairy Tales and Dinosaurs for this years NaNo and it took me maybe thirty minutes to think up a plot to combine those two radically different things. Your mind can and will surprise you with the sheer amount of imagination, creativity and ideas that it can produce.

Even if you don’t reach 50,000 words by November 30th you’ll STILL be a winner because you’ll have given it your best shot and you will probably write more than you ever have before. Yes, you will be rocking some serious sleep deprivation and be more over-caffeinated than you’ve ever been in your life, but it’s WORTH it. Your family will think you’re strange and some of your co-workers will avoid you when you’re writing in the break room, BUT IT’S WORTH IT. I promise.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel I highly encourage you to give National Novel Writing Month a chance, and if you haven’t, well, I can tell you that you’ll be missing out on a grand amount of fun.

Advertisements

Because I will be the picture of discipline.

For one reason or another I seem to think that buying material things will make me happy, and they do. For a VERY short while. A new laptop, Blackberry, or purse is NOT going to fill the void in my heart. It’s like I’m justifying the purchases by being convinced that this next new item will do what the other item didn’t. It will make me happy and somehow fix whatever is wrong with me. NOPE. Not even close. Despite knowing that it won’t actually help, I still listen to that voice inside that tells me to buy these things. I think it is most likely because I still get that small rush of adrenaline when I purchase some new thing. Endorphin’s create a small bit of happiness that I keep clinging to. Honestly, that type of happiness is like the one-night-stand that tries to get away without waking you in the morning. Fleeting satisfaction.

Books though! Books are fantastic. New books bring me ACTUAL joy. They fill the void a lot more that anything else seems to. They wake me up. They pull me past the sludge of reality and into something wondrous. Until the book ends. Less one-night-stand; more summer-fling. I know they won’t actually help fix me, but it’s nice to pretend. Distractions help get me through.

 

Know what else helps get me through? Amanda Palmer.

And in my mind
I imagine so many things
Things that aren’t really happening
And when they put me in the ground
I’ll start pounding the lid
Saying I haven’t finished yet
I still have a tattoo to get
That says I’m living in the moment

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

Lets talk about health.

I have an average body with a few extra pounds; I am not overweight but I’m not healthy. I don’t shy away from physical activity but I don’t exactly push myself either. I have a passionate relationship with junk food and crave take-out like a crack addict craves a hit. Essentially, what I’m trying to say is: I’ve decided to make a lifestyle change.

Last Monday I was talking to my mother and I can’t exactly remember how the conversation came up, but I found out that there are a lot of bad things running in my family genetics; cancer, diabetes and lung disease, to name a few. I won’t say that it scared me, but it did put a few things into perspective for me. If I were to change and become a healthier person; thirty years from now, if I develop a dangerous disease, I would have much better chances of fighting it off than I would if I stayed the same as I am now.

Changing my eating habits was the hard part. I cut junk food (ie: candy, ice cream, chips, pop, desserts, etc) out of my system. I will admit it was like overcoming a drug addiction for a while there. I also stopped eating after 8pm. These are apparently two very good steps towards living healthier, so I was happy to be heading in the right direction.

The next step was digging my (slightly old) exercise bike out of the closet, cleaning it off, and setting it up in my living room. Once that was done, I managed fifteen minutes of cardio before I felt like my legs were going to fall off, and then did ten minutes of muscle-building. I survived my first work-out and did it all inside the comfort of my own home. I’m also going to say that I’ve only been at this for a week and I can now do thirty minutes of heavy cardio and twenty minutes of muscle-building. Improvements are important and they’re going to be super small at first, I know, but they’re so nice to see.

Food is important. I love food, so I made a list of healthy things that I like and some healthy things that I should try. I found out that I DO like caesar salad, despite hating it for years, and that hard-boiled eggs are actually quite good. My fridge is now full of fruits and some veggies, as well as some soy milk that I haven’t tried yet.

Working out is something that’s coming easier to me than I thought it would. I feel really good after a work out, despite my aching muscles; I suppose that’s the endorphins talking. It’s the ‘not eating junk food’ bit that’s pushing my self-control, however, every time I get a craving for something sweet I eat an apple or drink a glass of water. It seems to be working very well so far.

Winning the little battles feels good. Like, turning down the cookie a co-worker offered me despite the fact that I was staring at it with open lust, and pushing myself to pedal that bike as hard and fast as I can for the last five minutes of my cardio despite the ache and heavy breathing. I may just be starting to change my life style and it’s sometimes so very difficult, but those little accomplishments keep me going because they mean I’m improving. That little voice in my head that says I can’t do this, is a liar.

Let’s talk about libraries.

I have always loved books. My earliest memory is of my father reading me Dr. Seuss before bedtime and I distinctly remember begging him to read me ‘just one more’. I also remember my first time in a library. My hometown has a wonderful public library and I spent the majority of my summer holidays curled up in there with all the books. During my first visit, I was with my babysitter Aunty Barb, a kindly old woman, with arms the size of tree trunks, whom I drove partially mad and quite frankly she had a very strong heart for the amount of times I almost gave her a heart attack. I was an awful kid, but I always behaved myself in a library.

I was enchanted. There was a lot of people, but everyone was quiet; talking in whispers, and it was as if the whole building was sacred. I remember being amazed at all of the books; I’d previously had no idea that so many books could exist in one place before. Aunty Barb was holding her breath and watching me like a hawk, waiting for the trouble to start but none did. I just stood there and stared with my jaw somewhere near the floor. Aunty Barb returned her books and picked up some new ones, all the while staring at me like I had grown a second head. For the first time in the four years of my short existence I was behaving myself.

The atmosphere of a library is singularly unique and I’ve never encountered anything quite like it. I’ve seen a library turn the most rowdiest kids into well-behaved darlings the minute they walk through the door; I was one of them. In my childhood it was the ‘magical book place’ and now it’s a safe haven, a quiet place to think and write and research. It’s a place of right answers and facts. It’s a place of sanctuary. My best friend became my best friend in a library. My grandfather met my grandmother in a library and they fell in love there. Libraries are capable of bringing communities together and contain more knowledge than most people will read about in their lifetime. Libraries can open doorways to different worlds and places; they can help you expand your imagination and they will always welcome you with open arms – much like the books they house.

Disney ruined relationship prospects for me, or rather, they raised the bar of my expectations with ‘Beauty and the Beast’. In the middle of the movie The Beast gives Belle a library. HE GIVES HER A LIBRARY. My seven-year old self couldn’t understand why she didn’t propose to him on the spot. If a person gives you a library, you marry them. I still stand by that ridiculous piece of logic today and if I had been Belle the situation would have gone differently:

“Marry me?”

“But I’m a monstrous beast!”

“Honey, you just gave me a library, your excuse is invalid. Now go see if the candelabra knows someone who will marry us.”

Clearly I should just go to rural France and find myself a cursed prince to love so I can get my own library.

I’m sure you could tell but this still needs saying: I love libraries. It’s an unwavering and fierce love, the kind that never truly fades away. I hope that everyone reading this visits their library today because they deserve more love than they are getting. If you’re open-hearted and love your library it will love you back a thousand times stronger.

You give me butterflies.

I made a wonderful discovery on my way home from work today. I decided to take a round-about way home, because walking is healthy, and passed under the overpass on the Main Street of my city. I found a bunch of butterflies.

I did a little research about these butterflies, and by ‘research’ I mean I asked my local friends on Facebook about them; as it turns out, they’ve been there for quite a while. Possibly a year or longer.

Personally, I’m not all that knowledgeable about graffiti (unless drawing Ninja Turtles on my bedroom wall, in crayon, when I was five and getting yelled at by my parents counts?) but don’t most places try to cover up the graffiti as soon as they can? Granted, my city is tiny in comparison to some, and I rarely ever encounter any graffiti – which I find slightly saddening – so I’m fairly certain that my city usually covers the stuff up quite quickly.

Maybe they left this one alone because it’s tasteful and positive? Or perhaps the people in charge of painting over the graffiti in my city really like butterflies and decided not to cover them? Either way, the butterflies are still there and will, most likely, stay there for a good long while yet. I feel kind of proud that my city decided to keep them.

That was totally today’s warm fuzzy.

And it goes on, and on, my friend.

I’ve managed to get the winter blues this year and it’s a first for me. I think Joline’s death is (obviously) the main reason for that and the fact that we’ve barely had any snow this year. I love winter and I love snow. My parents used to joke that I was the only true Canadian in the family. This year I’m having a lot of trouble keeping my optimistic personality in place without it cracking.

I dislike negativity and people who always focus on the bad things that happen to them. There’s a woman I work with who can’t stand to see other people happier than she is, and she’ll go out of her way to drag them back down to her level. I’ve never let her get to me before, but recently she’s just been driving me up the wall. I’m more than sure that I’ll be fine, but I don’t like the idea of someone else thinking they can control how I feel. She’s so negative it’s incredible. She enjoys seeing other people’s pain and it’s slightly disturbing.

There are a lot of things that help me focus on keeping my positive nature, and I’ve decided to share a few of them.

MUSIC. Loud music. Anything from happy show tunes to kick ass battle sequence instrumentals. If it increases your joy by even a tiny bit – listen to it. Frequently. I walk to and from work everyday so I have twenty minutes to get myself into a positive and motivated mood. If you drive to work, crank that shit up in your car and drum along on your dashboard.

READING. Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction; whatever your favorite genre – read it into the ground. During the days following Joline’s death I’ve managed to finish reading three books and I’m halfway through a fourth. I shouldn’t really promote escapism when trying to deal with the unpleasantness of life, but I’m pretty sure there are worse coping methods out there. An example would be alcoholism or shooting heroin or both. So if you escape into books to get away from life, that’s a-okay in my book. I do it too. (John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!, would be good places to start.)

MY CATS. They are ridiculous and funny and they will make me laugh until I, almost, pee three times out of five. If you have pets, let them love you, or watch them do stupid things because they don’t know any better, or let them fight each other for space in your lap because, being needed makes you feel better even though they’re using you as furniture. Having a constant companion (or three in my case) can bring you joy just by scratching an adorable set of ears.

So there you have it. Some tricks for surviving the winter blues, and negative coworkers. Deep breaths probably help too, but I’ve found humming “This Is The Song That Never Ends” under your breath works better.

Start me up!

Lets talk about things that have a tendency to keep my motor running, so to speak. Writing and photography.

One of the things I enjoy about writing is the feeling of being unleashed. Like, being set loose after a long time in confinement. The need to write and create. The feeling of the keys beneath my fingertips typing out every little thing that pops into my head. Every word, every descriptive paragraph and every scene. In a way, writing makes me feel alive. It gives me a reason to get through the day, so I can come home and type out two measly paragraphs. That might not seem like such an accomplishment, but after a long and exhausting day at work, I’m lucky to even make it past my couch to get to the computer chair. It’s an effort that I’m willing to make when I’m not partially unconscious.

Photography makes me feel the same way. When you’re looking at the world through a camera lens, I find that you’re really able to see the things you generally overlook. For example – looking up. I find that too many times when I’m out walking or exploring I never take the chance to look up. I find, since that realisation , I do it often now, even when I’m not taking photographs. Sometimes a perspective change is all you need to see something beautiful.

For me, photography is about having fun. Yes, there are times when I take it very seriously, but there are also times when I just have fun with it. Everyone should just have fun and be a bit of a goof with their photography. For example: I once spent forty-five minutes chasing a butterfly at Fundy National Park simply because I could.

Randomly chasing a butterfly is also, probably, among the list of reasons why my mother thinks I can’t go anywhere unsupervised. I’ve been living on my own for ages now, but when I tell her about things like chasing butterflies, she’ll give me a look that says I’m suddenly five years old again and she wants to properly educate me on why chasing butterflies is not socially acceptable for adults. It’s probably why most of the crazy things I do, she doesn’t know about. I think that everyone should get that look at least once in their life. Socially acceptable for adults? Pshhaw! Be a five-year old!