Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Naked Journal

Do you gaze with delight or apprehension at the first blank page of a new journal? 

Do you fondle and covet the variety of journals while visiting a greeting card or book store?

At times, I find starting a new journal quite intimidating especially if selected pages are already inscribed with words of wisdom and inspirational quotes.  I have a Celtic Mandala Tree of Life journal that has remained untouched since I purchased it in early 2009.  The cover art and section pages are beautifully designed.  It seems like the crisp, lined pages deserve something better than weekly updates, mundane ponderings and the occasional scribbles of bad poetry. 

While running errands with my daughter yesterday, I was lured by the siren call of the journal display in a local Carlton Cards store.  I oohed and ahhed at the colourful, intricate cover designs offered by the "Paperblanks" selection.  "The journal as functional art" statement caught my fancy.   Carlton Cards was having a sale so I bought two!

Lately, I have found that starting a new journal is like beginning a new phase of a journey or fresh path in one's life.  Do you pause with cautious deliberation before expressing your next words or actions?  Do you jump in with glee, poised with your favourite pen and a mind ripe with ideas?

This morning I completed the pages of a cute little journal I started last autumn, just as we were entering the gray and brown days of November.  That journal helped me navigate thoughts and dreams through the dark, long winter and into the refreshing days of spring.  This morning I transcribed recent observations, accomplishments, social engagements and family outings in that beloved book.  The last page was reserved for a list of goals and dreams. 

I look forward to listing them again in a fresh, new journal.  I look forward to recording the progress of those goals and writing with joy after I realize some dreams. 

Who would have thought someone could dedicate a blog entry to the subject of paper journals?  With the increased use of computer keyboards, smart phones and tablets, I wonder if people will lose that special connection between inspirations of the mind, the hand sweeping with the ink of a pen onto the receptive, blank page.  Will our expanding digital world present different writing skill requirements for school children and eventually eliminate the need for cursive writing?  Although most people can learn to type and transcribe more quickly by using a keyboard, I find that a scary thought.

I will continue to supplement my digital, keyboard writing activities with those of the pen and paper journals.   As I shared with a group of art lovers over a month ago, writing is a form of expression and ongoing therapy and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.  Well, I am taking a bit of a break since releasing the novel and gathering strength to publish an electronic version. 

Of course, intimate contemplations will only be expressed through the loving caress of pen on paper.  Perhaps that special, untouched Tree of Life journal can some day receive final revisions of poetry or inspirational essays. 

Thank you for reading this far.  If you like my writing style, you may enjoy excerpts from my novel, "The Year of the Rabbit". 

Saturday, July 23, 2011


After hearing about people displaced by forest fires in Northern Ontario, earthquakes, droughts, famine and violent acts occurring in other parts of our mixed-up world, I suppose I shouldn't complain about this past week's heat wave in the Ottawa Valley and most of Ontario.   These bigger events offer stark reminders as I reflect, offer thanks every day for what I have in food, safety and shelter. 

As for the weather, Environment Canada says we're supposed to see some relief soon. To aid in this transition, I invite followers, readers and lurkers to enjoy an excerpt from The Year of the Rabbit's Chapter 1.  This is where Father Gio meets Sera, his newly discovered biological daughter.  Well... imagine his surprise!  

Come experience the refreshing breeze from Georgian Bay and sit under the shade of the "famous" cherry tree
Now excuse me while I primp and prepare for a Summer Social with my writing group this evening.  Once again, I stepped up to the plate and volunteered to coordinate tasks.  At least this year, it won't be raining!  We will enjoy a meal near the water, get to know other members in a relaxed manner and perhaps take a walk through the Arboretum.  That will provide us the opportunity to "shake down" our dinner.  It will also give me a sense of relief and connectivity to like-minded humans and nature after feeling imprisoned in the concrete city all week.   I look forward to hear some light readings, appreciate the shade of trees while accompanied by a trusted guide book

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Follow me

No, I'm not some self-absorbed, wanna-be cult leader :o)

I AM a recently published author.  I want more followers.  If you have a Google account, you can follow this blog.  See that "Follow" button at the top of this page?  See it?  Please click it.  Ahhh, thank you!

Now that I have your attention (she coyly purrs), hop on over to the Year of the Rabbit blog and do the same thing.  

Follow Florence on Twitter.  She's a deep blonde too.  

Thank you for stroking my ego.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

We are our environment

After work on a Friday night, I attended a book reading and discussion led by Dr. Ian Prattis, hosted at Planet Botanix on Bank Street. 

Ian read from "Earth My Body, Water My Blood", a collection of work he edited based on the initiatives by students in his last class on Ecology and Culture at Ottawa's Carleton University.

"The book is organized around the great elements – Earth, Water, Air and Fire. The fifth great element – Space – is to penetrate humanity’s consciousness about a better way to live with Mother Earth. This research into establishing eco-communities reflects the shift in mindset required to salvage the global ecosystem for human habitation. Our present values and patterns of consumption are the architects of the present global ecological emergency. We are our environment. "

Ian had praise for the students he taught and expressed joy at the creative ways they were carrying on with the work. Judging from the comments and questions raised by the intimate audience, it seemed that Ian was preaching to the converted.  Regardless, he reminded us that we could still be participants in change and become mentors to younger generations. 

In addition to purchasing a signed copy of the book, I acquired some walking tips from Ian who is also a teacher of Buddhist meditation.  I hope to learn more as time allows and apply it to the calming times of my busy, urban life.

On the second bus ride of my slow journey home, my apprehensions were echoed by fellow riders when the rainfall increased its intensity on the windows and rooftop.  I was indeed prepared with an umbrella that I pulled from my bag but sighed at the fact that I was wearing sandals.  The dark, windy walk home from the bus stop was not pleasant.  I was bombarded by the elements of water and air plus a bit of earth due to the sandy grit that embedded inconveniently into my soggy sandals. 

Ah, yes.  I was becoming one with my environment.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Call of Duty?

My knuckles are gradually healing since an encounter with a neighbour. 

This Canada Day I chose to remain cool and comfortable at home while listening to the festivities, interviews and Royal sightings on CBC Radio.  I had no desire for "being there" among thousands of noisy, sweaty bodies in downtown Ottawa.  I enjoyed hearing that Rick Mercer was among the celebrities in Kandahar, marking the last Canada Day that the troops would spend in war torn Afghanistan.  I was proud to hear about new Canadian citizens being sworn in on that special Day.

I appreciated the down time in my new home after a hectic week of obligations, appointments and meetings.  I wrote, sorted through digital photographs from two offspring's recent graduations. (insert fuzzy proud feeling and a big sigh of relief!)  I shared news, thoughts and pictures with friends and relatives via email while reading their updates on family, health issues and recent accomplishments.  I followed up on activities to promote my novel.   It was a satisfying way to spend the warm day in the privacy and quiet of my little apartment.

That was until...

It started with what sounded like random drumbeats coming from our neighbour's place.  This was not the usual boom, boom, boom music vibrating through the wall and floor that we unfortunately share.  After a half hour, I concluded it was either the sound effects from a action movie they were watching or... a video game.  The sound grew louder and louder.  The gun fire became more intense. 

The sound of machine guns vibrating through our home became too much to bear.   Those who know my history are aware of my aversion to loud noises and violence.  I once again state my appreciation of family, friends and professionals who helped me get through the rough times and PTSD

After another twenty minutes of this barrage, I braved myself to seek out the source.  Dressed in frumpy, casual attire and without makeup, I had to go out of my way to knock on my neighbour's door. There was no answer yet I could hear the hoots and male grunts from inside accompanying the gun fire. 

I knocked again.  No answer. Augh! Frustration.  I had to wait for a lull in the video game combat in order to knock again and again and actually be heard. 

Finally, the door opened.  I was greeted by a good looking, buff young man (oh my!) wearing shorts and no shirt (oh my, my!).  My frustration was briefly overcome by flirtatious thoughts.   I was next aware of how haggard and unfeminine I must have appeared.  

Not wanting to let primal reactions distract me from my objective, I breathlessly introduced myself.  

He returned my greeting.  

I stammered nervously and politely, conveying to him that we shared the same wall and... and floor and... and... I could hear - I could FEEL the sound in my apartment.  

He apologized, said they'd turn the volume down, adding that they were just kicking back and getting ready to head out soon.

I thanked him then turned to leave.  He wished me a Happy Canada Day.  I think I grunted in response. 

Things have been pretty quiet since.  As I rub my sore knuckles and wring my hands, I shake my head at the entertainment and lifestyle choices of a few.  I think about those new Canadian citizens who escaped war zones in order to make a better life for their families.  I think about Canadian and Coalition soldiers who have risked life and limb, striving to maintain peace and order in Afghanistan.  Let's hope that disruptive actions of a few do not interfere as others adapt and heal, settling peacefully into their new homes. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Another Public Speaking Event

On Wednesday, June 29th I was able to stand before an audience of 38 people.  Since the majority were those I knew and felt comfortable with,  it wasn't a stressful experience at all.  My voice was loud and clear.  The audience was in the palm of my hand.

I have become quite at ease with this group, relaying announcements about membership benefits, up-coming events and using the new services on our web site.  It helps when you speak about that which you know!

The only snag for this latest occasion was that I had somehow misplaced the printed notes from which I was planning to read.  As a lesson re-learned from a previous event, I had even printed it in a large font.  It just isn't like me to be unprepared for meetings or presentations. 

Winging it, I grabbed a printed copy of my novel, found the passage of intent and read a short, intriguing excerpt to the crowd.  The response was very good.  You can read about the event and a surprise encounter in the Year of the Rabbit blog.

If you're looking for short bursts of blondness, you can also follow my nom de plume on Twitter.  It's a gradual art, learning to express with only 140 characters on your pallet!