Category Archives: Specifically Steff

The Heal Thy Steff Plan: The Victoria Model v2.0

I try to learn life lessons where I can, but I’m not sure what to glean from spending $95 on a massage, then sleeping on my arm wrong.

Sometimes, maybe there isn’t a lesson. Sometimes, maybe life’s just stupid.

Ignoring the “Oops, I did it again” sleep and all, the massage was awesome. I’m still in a frustrated headspace, though. This weekend, some game-planning’s goin’ down.

See, like the ever-smart pragmatist I try to be, I realized the year-end was upon us and I’ve begun trying to make all my leftover medical benefits vanish by way of use, rather than time running out on me.

I took this shot near my home yesterday. Had a 4km pre-breakfast sunrise walk. Beats the shit out of walking to a bus stop on a busy thoroughfare, like I’d be doing back in the city in the morning.

Hello, beefy masseur. Howdy, Mr. Chiro. Bonjour, acupuncturist. Allo, physiotherapist. Holy fuck, look at that crowded calendar.

Thus begins the 10-week intensive Heal Thy Steff regimen. Oh, and I’m signing up for yoga at the end of the month, and I’ve just joined the gym. I’ll continue with my avid walking/cycling life as well, with my last bus ride having been in July.

It’s about to become a very anti-social, very focused, and very broke end-of-year for me, but with, I hope, fantastic results. I’m imagining myself starting 2013 in the best mind/body place I’ve been in for a few years. But I’m under no illusions that this will be an easy time of life management or physicality. Time to get my game on.

Last year, when I did something similar, I spent my funds completely differently — on experimental stuff on the other side of town, after which I’d get home tired, often soaked, and frustrated. This time, I’m doing more traditional treatments I know have worked for me before, and I don’t need to spend 70 hours a month on the bus to make it happen. Instead, everything’s within 2.5 kilometres of me.

I’m switching chiropractors, which is the one big risk. The guy I’m with has worked with many Olympians and is incredible, but he also causes a lot of pain. I’m in constant inflammation, and I’m just wondering if someone else who uses the same techniques can be a little more forgiving with my body. The worst thing is, his time management sucks. Out of about 15 appointments, only 3 times have I gotten in with less than 15 minutes’ waiting, and at least 5 times I have waited 45 minutes. I know I’m not some big fancy rich person or anything, but my time’s valuable to me, too.

And given I’m cycling 30 minutes/9km each way to his appointment, that’s adding up to about 2 hours of my time, not to mention the half-hour I have to stretch after all the cycling’s done, or that I usually justify this time/effort spent as a reason to order bad food on my way home. Add to that the money I’ve spent on the session, and suddenly it’s a black hole of time and expense, and usually ends up making me bitchy.

So, Olympians or no, I’m moving on to someone closer, whose bio sounds like he has a similar life/wellness perspective as what I’m hoping to attain.

Any way you slice it, this plan I have in mind will take tremendous discipline, a lot of work, a lot of money, and a lot of patience. It’s a huge commitment, and one I’ve not been ready to make before now. In 3 weeks, I’ll be meeting with a prominent physiotherapist who’s got an amazing background, and I will be getting a program started with him.

It also means I put writing on the back burner once again.

My recent birthday, and getting my new driver’s license, has opened this realization that I’ve been on this five-year journey through a lot of levels of pain, and I’m fucking tired, man. It needs to end. If it means I throw EVERYTHING at this, for one amazing 10-week period, and see where it gets me, then so be it.

Five years ago, I got my driver’s license photo back and this massively fat face was peering back at me. I’d just quit a job that had sent me spiralling towards depression because my employer was a toxic, negative hag who had high turnover with good reason, and went back to a job I’d always enjoyed (and am still at). I chose to do something about that depression by way of exercise and eating better, and adopted a lot of good habits, worked crazy hard, and lost 85 pounds in the next year (but gained 10 back immediately, and maintained a 75-lb loss for the next 2+ years) before blowing my back 4 years ago this month.

The last four years have been a repetitive story of rehab and fall-backs, including me regaining weight (it was 25 lbs when I left Vancouver, spiked to 35lbs after, and now is at 28lbs regained, so…).

All this culminated in this year’s decision that the city was killing me and I needed a slower pace of life that would be kinder to my body.

So, I sit here now, typing in my pajamas before a day of working from home, which is some 7 or so blocks from one of North America’s best urban ocean stretches, where I find my soul and refill it often.

I have come a long, long ways in the last seven months since my move.

It’s why I’m ready to make the commitment now, despite the fact that the fat, long-injured girl deep inside me is scared as hell about what it’s gonna feel like to go hard and face all the things that emotionally come with rehabbing your body after injury.

I suspect I’ll get bored of being in all the same neighbourhoods by the end of this year, since I’ll be in a 3-5km radius for much of the winter months, until Victoria is bike-friendly and pretty and warm for cycling again, but at least I’m close enough to never have an excuse to not cycle to appointments, since it would amusingly take about 3 times as long to bus as it would to cycle.

I’m scared and excited, but either way, time to go to the next level of Steff v2.0: The Victoria Model.

Let’s do this.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The Zen of Living in a Nice World: My Writing

Hey, guys.

So, I write more a month, I suspect, over at Build Direct’s decorating blog more than I write here. But I want to share with you all the writings I’ve done in the last three months. Click the links below for more.

And a word to the wise? Those of us who blog commercially are oftentimes rewarded for when you “like” the blog post on the blog page, or you use the “tweet it” option, or you +1 it, or you comment. So, get involved, like the stuff, share it, and you’ll put money in my pockets. Thanks!

Heritage Homes: One Neighborhood’s Approach

Throughout North America are places that reflect the world that was, little havens of heritage.

This spring, I moved to one.

James Bay, in Victoria, Canada, is the oldest West Coast neighborhood north of San Francisco, its streets lined with a mix of homes dating as far back as the 1860s and apartment buildings built in the 1950s and ‘60s, when the city had its first population boom. READ MORE HERE.

Upcycling for Everyone!

Reusing stuff doesn’t have to be boring, you know.

Today, the trend of “upcycling” is well-established in some parts, but some would say it’s an age-old art dating back to whoever first hung a truck tire from a tree and called it a “swing.”

What is upcycling? READ MORE HERE.

Home Decor Upcycling Ideas: New Lives For Old Stuff

Scouring the Internet is a wonderful way to find inspiration for reinventing things you might’ve thought had their day.

Just because it can’t be of use as it once was doesn’t mean you can’t turn yesteryear’s obsolete items into repurposed awesome things that are of use, and fun to have, in your modern life.

Next time you’re cruising yard sales or helping someone clear out their attic, try imagining all that “junk” as something completely different. READ MORE HERE.

Stained Glass Accessories For Illuminated Home Decor

I’m new to my city and find myself walking randomly and discovering great things, like the local artist who has incorporated stained glass in his property’s fence.

Since then, I’ve noticed stained glass in so many homes, in so many ways, and I’ve found myself falling in love with its attributes.

If you think about it, most of us we spend our lives in search of light… READ MORE HERE.

Shadow Boxes: Making Clutter and Keepsakes Into Art

More and more, people are learning the lesson of clutter and how it affects us on a daily basis.

When trying to confront clutter, there are lots of ways to bring some of those rediscovered, long-lost items the respect and visibility they deserve.

One great way is with shadow boxes, which truly showcases our things. It’s the decor version of “Hey, Look At Me. I’m Special!READ MORE HERE.

Create A Home Coffee Bar: Better Living Through Home Brewing

Some joke Starbucks should be called “Fivebucks,” because coffee’s so expensive these days — but they ain’t the only ones raking it in over this magical elixir.

A necessary drug for most of us, java’s the wheel that keeps the modern world spinning.

Let’s face it… READ MORE HERE.

Outdoor Kitchen Planning: Room For Dreaming!

Not long ago that the phrase “outdoor kitchen” meant having a big barbecue and a great table, and that was good enough for us!

Now those days seem quaint and underachieving, as  one can obtain culinary awesomeness in the great outdoors. With today’s mix of old traditions and new technology, outdoor kitchens boggle the mind with possibility. READ MORE HERE.

DIY Cooking Grills And Pits For Outdoor Dining Spaces

While fancy state-of-the-art outdoor kitchens are all the rage now, there’s a lot to be said for the age-old mighty barbecue pit, old-school smokers, and even converted barrel-cookers.

It’s nice to order high-tech, but the fact is, people have been cooking outdoors since the dawn of man, and we’ve done it for tens of thousands of years before stainless steel appliances and solar panels landed on the scene. We don’t need no stinking technology!

All these newfangled gadgets are great, but… READ MORE HERE.

Accent Walls: One Wall To Rule Them All

Oh, accent walls, how I love thee.

Today, an accent wall makes a lot of sense by offering a budget-friendly way to introduce a great deal of drama in a room without having to tackle the whole room.

As a kid, my first great decorating triumph came by way of an accent wall when my mom let me pick the wallpaper for my room and I got all crazy and asked for an accent wall with pink. It worked. Since then, I’ve been addicted… READ MORE HERE.

Personal Spaces: Interior Decor & Design Rules To Be Broken

It’s an exciting time to be alive. The internet teems with ideas and worldviews that surprise and delight us constantly.

We’re in the age of open individualism. We see so much into average people’s lives now, and their lives are so different from what we’d been shown in oh-so-white traditional media before the web’s explosion.

Now, individualism is almost omnipresent. Everywhere we go, people are “characters” and spaces are becoming more unique and funky.

Quirky, creative homes now capture our imagination and give us permission… READ MORE HERE.

Outdoor Room Themes: Outdoor Living Spaces As Exotic Locales

If you’re like me, you think your backyard or deck is where you get to live a little.

It’s where you let loose and unwind, soak up some sun, read a book, entertain friends. It’s also a great place to have fun with a theme. Embrace your creative side and see what you can create in terms of a backyard that transports you to another time, place, and culture.

When you’re willing to do a little DIY, shop off the beaten track… READ MORE HERE.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

A Carnivore Ruminates: Thoughts About Balance

Food. Some eat to live, others live to eat. Either way, it’s the source of life.

The Chinese believe in the Chi of food. Eat food from the place you’re from, and you get Earth-drawn energy to live upon the place you’re in. It’s a circle-of-life thing.

Me, I clearly live to eat. Lately, too indulgently and without balance. Sproing goes the waistline this summer, I’m afraid. And that’s no good.

Living to eat and doing it badly is an ironic way to embrace death. I’m certainly better than I’ve likely ever been as an eater, but it’s a constant act of re-education, and the more I learn and deprogram myself on the white-food-rules upbringing I had, the further I’ve yet to go.

I had a bit of a Twitter spanking as I tongue-in-cheek suggested I get great pleasure from seeing former Vegan/Vegetarian people going back to meat. I explained that it vindicates my belief that vegetarianism and veganism are somewhat unnatural.

Then again, entire cultures, like the Hindu, go their whole lives without food that comes of taking a life.

I get that. But I’m Irish and French. It’s just never gonna happen chez Steff. I mean, really. If we weren’t supposed to eat meat, it wouldn’t be so tasty.

It’s that simple.

But it’s good meat that’s tasty. Meat raised under ethical conditions, raised eating real food, not stuffed with commercial feed, who have access to pastures, live naturally, and are slaughtered compassionately, then processed with care by people who value the product and the life given to provide it.

Give me a steak by a grow-factory, slaughtered en masse without empathy, processed on a conveyor belt, versus a local farm-raised product, slaughtered the old-school way, and hand-trimmed, with both prepared and cooked the same, and I’ll tell you on the first bite which is which. Easy. Done. It’s right there. That je ne sais quoi of having been raised ethically and killed compassionately.

There are lamb in Spain who get walked — WALKED! — on a 650+ kilometre trek across the mountains, feeding on grass as they go, birthing, mating, living like they should, being sight-seers for many weeks before they meet their end. That’s something you taste. Real grass grown from valley to valley, by river and stream, under olive trees and by grapevines. It’s all there in that lamb.

The French believe in terroir and how it applies to not just wine like most people think, but to everything from meat through to oysters. You taste the land that the food comes from. Like where you’re born imprints you, so too does it to the meat and seafood and everything else we consume. Like those Spanish lamb I think would surpass any I’ve ever had.

Yum.

It’s a beautiful thought, that this interconnectivity runs through everything around us, and that we can choose to focus on more seasonal, local produce and it’ll not only be of better quality, but also of better Chi, of better terroir, and even just better for the environment, and ultimately more fulfilling for our soul.

As I reflect on food and what it means to me this week, I know where I’m going wrong with my diet is simply too many carbs and too much meat. I won’t go paleo or Zone or Atkins or any of those faddish diets. I just want to find a balance that works for me — ethically, tastefully, healthily, and financially.

I will never eat what I don’t enjoy, and I’ll never omit things like juicy steaks, cheeses, or other great food-of-love things that transport me when I eat them. Life’s meant to be lived, not survived.

There’s a perfect balance of finding flavour yet eating a diet that makes your body happy, and that’s the balance I’ve lost.

I’ll be eating less meat, less cheese, but when I have them, having far better quality. At the same time, I want to explore vegetarian dishes from around the world, particularly from places where they manage to go entire lives without meat, because clearly they’re doing it properly.

I’ve known people who’ve been extreme vegetarians, who did it balanced as best as one can, but who ultimately returned to the Meat Side when they ran into energy problems when being more active (like a boxer I knew, and a hardcore mountain cyclist). I don’t believe one needs to omit anything completely (except when allergic, obviously) to live an “ethical food” life.

Yet we as a society in the West eat meat to excess and a compromise would be good. I’ll attempt a 50% vegetarian week. I’m sure there’ll be weeks I fail, but I’m probably meat-eatin’ 6 days a week now, if not 7. That ain’t no good.

There’s one thing I can’t argue. That’s the issue that raising meat, farm or factory, creates a lot of methane, which is hugely responsible for global warming. If the world went vegetarian tomorrow and commercial meat production ended, we’d probably see a drastic difference in climate change quickly. This is true. Irrefutable.

So, mandate methane capture and conversion. Let’s solve that problem. Let’s have our cake steak and eat it too.

Because, to me, every cow is sacred, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it salted and grilled.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Having a Blog vs. Using It: Some Thoughts

I don’t follow analytics much with my blog. You’re reading it. That’s all I give a shit about. Following the traffic, I don’t do much of that.

I’ll check once or twice a month, see if my daily visits are holding up, and if there are massive spikes, I see what posts were near that day. Pretty chill, but I’ve done this for enough years to actually have a grasp on who you, my reader, often is. Or the readers I care about, anyhow.

And while my old sex posts drive my traffic the most, it was actually politics and current events that became my stratospheric posts over the years. When I get pissed, it seems to resonate. Apparently my anger reflects the frustration we feel both in Canada and the USA, and even England, because most of us are living in a classist divide that’s becoming increasingly religious.

So, over the weekend at the Pride events here in town, I chatted with friends about social media conferences, and how, for me, it seems more about selling tools than encouraging propagation of debate and discussion.

When it comes to blogging, I feel it can, and does, change the world. I don’t wanna talk about WordPress, metrics, and all that shit. The message is the message, for me, not the medium.

I feel an obligation to put ideas and content first, design and discussion-tracking last. I believe my voice matters. (And so does yours; whether you choose to use it is your drama.) I don’t really need to host the discussion here, I just need you to leave this page with a few thoughts percolating in your brain, and then I’ve done my job — that’s always been my take on things.

Sunday’s conversation kind of ended with my thinking that I’ve betrayed my ability to write, my strong beliefs on where we’re going wrong today, and my desire to see the world live according to my ethos (since I’m super-inclusive and secular), all by failing to continue blogging in a more frequent way.

I give good debate, baby. And I’ve been letting myself and my readers down at a time when I think we need more discussion, because if anyone can be the spark to a good fire, it’s me.

The Past’s Shadow is Long

Part of the reason I don’t watch my traffic today is because I don’t want to feel beholden to numbers. I’m cranking out some 1,500 unique visitors a day, and without doing a lot of work to sustain it. It’s what I call “legacy traffic.” Google had lost me for a long time, but now it points anyone looking for sex tips and smart writing here. Good job, Google!

Still, it bothers me a little, because I haven’t been writing about sex for about 3–4 years.

To have so many of you still turning up, with questions arriving in my inbox (which I’ve been ignoring in my life chaos), it tells me there’s a dearth of great information out there, and that mine’s standing the test of time on the web, a hard thing to do.

These days, I’m a-thinking. I don’t want to be writing about sex and relationships, because I’ve more or less been celibate since all the trouble began with my back, except for, you know, a dalliance or two. My head’s not there right now, and I haven’t wanted it to be, either.

Maybe I underestimated the voice I bring to the sex discussion, and maybe I need to rethink my role and the validity of my place in the fight for a smarter world that’s sex-positive in a way that doesn’t mean we have to jump the “taste” shark. Maybe I also underestimated how much we have devolved into an orthodox society with increasing hangups about sex and sexuality.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But if the Shoe Fits…

I’ll be doing a lot more thinking about this. I’ve avoided talking about sex or sex news because I was tired of being pigeon-holed as a “sex writer,” since I feel that’s about 8% of what I’m comprised of, but if it’s not getting done properly by others, maybe it’s time I dust that conversation off. Just something I’m considering, and not a promise. Your thoughts are relevant to my thinkin’, so feel free to persuade me on this.

Maybe combining sex and politics in this same post is indicative of who I am/have been as a blogger and a person.

I think sex and love are basic human rights. I believe who we are as a society is something that shifts and changes through the ages, like a river carving a canyon. Change and evolution is constant, but often only visible on a wide, long view, and while I see the massive changes we’ve had for the better, I see how far there is to go.

Born Under A Bad Moon Risin’

I’m of that generation that came of age in the analog times but made the digital world our bitch. I was my college’s last journalism class to lay out a newspaper with glue and paper, and the first to do so on the computer. I was born at a crossroads, with one foot in old-world news, and the other kicking toward the future. My head of journalism was a former editor who ran political campaigns, so I learned about the press from both sides.

I’ve blogged since 2004, about sex since 2005, and I’ve been political since my teens. I live in borderlands and know more about America than most Americans will ever know about Canada, and I bleed maple syrup.

I was raised Catholic, rebelled against it after I learned of molestation scandals and cover-ups in my own Archdiocese and high school. I identify as a feminist but love men and deplore radical thought in any vein, especially if feminist.

The Alchemy of a Writer’s Voice

Somewhere, in the midst of all those qualities and attributes lies the reason why I too have a voice that’s important to the mix of who we are and where we’re going.

We have the ability to stand up and be counted, to leave our prints on the windowpane of the world, thanks to the internet.

For those of us who can do so, yet don’t do so, we’re betraying a gift of being born with talent in this time and space. We’re at a point in evolution where we have the means and the ability to project our lonely voice around the world, free of corporate interference, free of investment, and yet we’re mired in a complacency that sees our society devolving almost daily.

While the 1% keep getting richer, we applaud and watch the Bachelorette while reading TMZ, glorifying the division of our classes, because glamour is somehow more significant to us than protecting our dwindling average-citizen quality of life.

We belittle the intellectuals, want leaders we can have a beer with, and seem to do everything we can to avoid the realities of what’s going on as economies around the world teeter on the brink.

We delude ourselves into thinking change can’t come, that we’re just the little guys. We pretend that if we keep watching TV, shopping for “Made in America” products, and praying to the good God above that we’ll be just fine when that high-water mark of society gets overrun.

I don’t buy any of it.

In a span of three years, with no technology, no automatic weapons, no electricity, nothing, the working class of France brought down the nobility and monarchy, and modern democracy was born. Three years. By people with HOES and SHOVELS, with the occasional dagger for good measure, for crying out loud.

Shit started rolling last year, but I don’t respect the Occupy movement a lot because there are too many dumb-assed anarchist fucks in the mix. But they’re heading in the right direction, as long as they leave anarchy out of the debate.

They’re right, though. Anger, frustration, these aren’t things we should be feeling fleetingly. These should consume us.

There’s a disparity of income distribution that is a mockery of what the USA was founded under, what Canada should exemplify, and it all comes down to legislation by politicians who are bought and sold by the interests of those they mainly seek to protect, the upper-upper-class.

We deserve better.

And the only way we’re gonna get better is if we never, ever let the matter drop.

Me, I’ll never be that guy on the street with a placard, but I have this soapbox.

I think it’s time I start seeing this blog as an obligation, not a hobby, because I loathe the world we’re becoming, and I cannot respect myself if I don’t shout out loud about why I feel it’s all going so horribly awry.

And that’s what blogging can be. That’s what it should be.

If you want the latest scoop on TomKat’s Divorce, maybe it’s time to aim higher, expect more, and become a part of these discussions we really need to stop avoiding.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

On Writing, & Not

I’ve fallen prey to the thing I caution others against constantly in writing: I keep thinking, “Huh. That’s a great idea. I’ll write about that later.”

Then the proverbial “later” never comes.

Instead, untethered, unrecorded, the idea dissipates, never to occur to me again.

Experts estimate we think some 60,000 thoughts per day. We’re constantly thinking. We think about thinking, we even think about thinking less. Hell, we medicate ourselves so we can think less.

We think about groceries and bills and sex and hairstyles and smells and sounds and feelings and flashes.

As the old Latin saying goes, “I think therefore I am.”

60,000 thoughts a day!

You know the difference between writers and other people?

Every now and then, one of those thoughts goes off like a bomb, and a writer — a real writer — absolutely has to write their thoughts on that idea. Just get ‘er down, out, and string those words together like a lifeline to the cerebral side.

Real writers know that inspiration is fleeting and it’s not always possible to ride the lightning. But they also know that ideas, topics, themes are everywhere all around us. Whether we choose to record our gut-instinct reaction to them is generally the dividing line between who succeeds and who fails when they write.

This is why a real writer is forever making notes. Notes, notes, notes.

Not making those notes, it’s like that lifeline snaps and a writer floats adrift, no destination shore in sight.

And Then I Stopped

I used to be the note-making type. This digital shit, no. I just can’t do it. I fucking love my iPhone but writing ideas I plug into it might as well get flushed down the toilet. I never look at ‘em, never make ‘em come to life. Something about the very, very linear data-based method of note-making is a big stinking fail for me. I gotta do it on paper with a pen.

Last fall through to now, I’ve been deep in the “moving, changing, adapting” to life phase. I was finding out where I didn’t want to be, where I needed to go, and who I wasn’t. Sure, I’ve had thoughts in between, but they seldom made it to the page. And I have had way bigger priorities, and I’d given myself permission to just walk away from my craft for a while. I just didn’t think four months would pass and I’d still feel the same.

I recently heard about some creative type of great acclaim, but whose name escapes me, who was said to have walked away from his craft to “lead a more interesting life.” A more interesting life.

Because creating isn’t interesting. It’s isolated. It’s solitary.

Whether writing, painting, architectural designing — it’s almost all done alone. I can’t write with you in my room. I can’t write when I’m cooking dinner. I can’t go out for drinks and still get the writing done. I need my desk clear, no time constraints. I need money to be not stressing me out. I need to feel comfortable sitting for a few hours.

And then, the writing itself, for me, requires I have time alone with my thoughts too. I need the solitary times in my life. I’m an introvert. I’m outgoing, but an introvert.

But if I don’t have external experiences — be it cycling along the water, enjoying great food with great company, watching a movie, scouring the city, spending a day doing photography — I also can’t create.

I don’t remember when or where I made the promise to myself that I’d move here and just let myself figure out when/where/why to start writing, but it was certainly a conscious choice. I’d been swimming against the current in life for so long that the opportunity to just go with the flow after moving here for a no-commute lifestyle was something that I couldn’t resist.

I’m still doing it, too. But a part of me has become annoyed, lately, that many great ideas I’ve thought of have just vanished for me, because those ideas could fuel hundreds of hours of writing when the dark, dreary, rainy months descend come November — and when I want to be spending my months strolling the stormy seashores on mornings before writing till noon in slippers and pajamas. After all, that was part of my Move to Victoria Lifeplan.

So, today I’ve spend part of my Canada Day just cleaning. I’ve sorted my desk out, changed a couple things in the layout. Dusted.

And I found my Idea Box.

Writing Tools: My Idea Box

Idea Box, I love you. Welcome back to my life, you trusty thing, you.

I’m sure other writers have tools like these they employ, but let me tell you about my Idea Box and how I make it work for me.

It’s a recipe card box. You can get ‘em at any dollar store for under $5. Grab a stack of index/recipe cards that fit that box. I go for 3x5, because you don’t want to get too into anything at this stage, so limit the space. I like cards with lines on only one side, but do what you like. You can also pick out colours for the cards, if you write on frequent themes, say like a productivity writer could use pink cards for Organization, and blue cards for Time Management, so if he/she knows it’s one general subject they’d like to tackle, they can limit ideas to choose from via the card colour.

So, here’s the deal. I’ll write my idea in 5–12 words on the unlined side of the card, then on the back I’ll write a few points about why it’s interesting to me, or how I’d tackle it.

Then, I put it into the back of my Idea Box, with the short synopsis showing at the front.

When I need an idea, I go into the box, remove all the written cards, and quickly flip through looking at the front. When something makes me go “OH!” I’ll either start writing right then, or I’ll check the back of the card for more on the idea, and see if it’s something I feel like tackling.

Sometimes the back of the card’s what I save until I’m into writing about the idea and I hit a stumping point where I’m a bit blocked, then I might read it for a new perspective.

So.

I found my Idea Box. The ideas in it are so stupid my head hurts. I’d cleaned it out before my move and left a few weird ones in. I have now recycled all those cards. I’m starting fresh. It’s staying on the corner of my desk, never out of sight.

Like Catching Lightning

And that’s really, I find, the secret to writing. Listening to your ideas, and never letting them slip away unless it’s you throwing it away. Of all the ideas we have for our writing, most of them are shit. Half the time it’s about execution. And sometimes it’s just plain dumb luck.

Inspiration really is as fickle a bitch as she’s claimed to be. She comes, she goes. She’s not into marriage and she’s barely even a one-night stand. She’s only after quickies in a by-the-hour room.

When we amateur or on-the-side writers are lucky, we have that rare synchronicity of not only having a great idea, but having the time to tackle it, having the lack of distractions so we complete it, coupled with our creativity firing on all cylinders.

The rest of the time, we do what we do and sometimes it just works.

But the more we do it, the more those sometimes happen.

Me, I find it hard to go from a non-writing period like I’ve been living through for the last few months, into a writing heyday, but I’ll get there. In the meantime, I’m doing what life presents to me. Writing will come, because it’s as much a part of me as breathing. For me to have had such a long period of not wanting to be a writer is unusual, but I’m a believer in taking breaks when you need them, and being honest about when it’s time to get cracking again.

As a short-summered Canadian, that time is not yet nigh. Summer is a priority when you stay fishbelly-white 9–10 months a year, like yours truly.

I can only believe my writing will improve for giving myself the time to be who I need to be this year.

Here’s hoping I somehow find a balance as summer wears on.

FYI: There are some other reasons I’ve been holding back on writing, such as my increased site traffic, but those are for writing about on another day — the adversity of external pressures on creativity would be a poncey way of describing that one. I’ll revisit writing, breaking my block, and recharging my creative self frequently in the weeks and months to come, I suspect.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Our Lives After Their Death

There’s a full moon tomorrow. I’m in a weird headspace.

In social media, I’m seeing snippets here and there from those I’m connected with, remembering the passing of our good friend Derek Miller last year. My thoughts on Derek, as his death took the world by storm by way of an incredible blog post, were posted here.

Someone once graffiti’d a lot of sites in my new neighbourhood, and this one made me think of Derek last week — a lighthouse, a beacon, at the end of a long path, and at the foot of it, “The things you really want, you can’t buy.”

Derek’s death became a lot of things for a lot of people, and I’m having trouble even now identifying what it meant to me, but I know his blog post, and his passing, were part of why I spent the next few months realizing how unhappy I was with my life. The thing was, I knew someone like Derek would simply comment, “Well, then change it.” So, I tried to figure out what I needed to change, why I was so deeply unsatisfied with everything.

He may have “just” been a husband, father, and all-around geek, but I got the sense that there was really nothing else Derek wanted from life. He had everything he wanted. He was where he wanted to be. All he wanted was more life, more of the same with the people he had around him.

All The Things I Wasn’t

I found myself thinking a lot about, well, I’m not where I want to be. I don’t have what I want. I don’t have the people in my life I want (ie: love). Let’s not even talk about the bigger picture.

I’d been kind of skating through life and sort of ignoring anything below the surface. I’d stopped being a good writer (in my view) and stopped living the deeper, observant, involved life I’d once had. I’d been depressed before, but this wasn’t depression — this was plain old unhappiness.

Derek’s death somehow was a slap in my face, like a loud shout of Wake up! Get it right! Time’s ticking!

And, it took a while, but I think I’m where I am now because I’d realized through him of just how far afield I was from the things I considered basic requirements in life — time to write, close to the ocean, quiet, and so many other little things that speak to who I grew up being, who I was in my 20s, when I was most “myself.”

I’m new here, in Victoria, so I’m ironically even more “alone” than I had been in Vancouver. I’ve not been looking for a new tribe yet, but I will begin later this month. Because that’s another lesson I’ve learned through him. Some people just make our souls feel better, and we need them in our lives. We are better people when we have better people around us, and there are few we can’t learn something of life from, but others offer a master class in it.

Two Lost Souls Swimming in a Fishbowl

When I sat in that theatre for his remembrance, listening to all those amazing people paying homage to Derek, hearing their stories, I couldn’t stop thinking about the degrees of life. This couple, Derek and Air, they were in the same crowd I’d run with nearly 20 years before. But by inches and degrees, we must have missed each other here, there, and at different times. Somehow, some way, we never connected until the end of Derek’s life.

What if I’d paid more attention? What if I’d slowed down? What if?

I’m not done learning lessons from Derek’s life. Or anyone’s life. I’m just not done learning.

Next week, Mother’s day rolls up again, and the Hallmark Machine is playing that message loud and clear. So, these days, I’m thinking a lot about the people I’ve lost in life, the legacies they’ve left me, and whether I’d feel I’d done enough if I were to leave this realm tomorrow.

Coming Back to Life

Getting here, moving, that was a start toward the life I’d like, and the legacy I seek to leave. But I’ve barely even begun on my way. I was off-track so many years that just getting back on-track is a hell of a journey in itself.

I’d like to think there’s plenty of time for me to get it right, but that’s foolishness. Sooner is better than later.

So, as the full moon messes with my frequencies, and the hazy oppressive clouds dampen the world beyond windows, I’m lost in thought about who I am today versus who I’d like to be, when I really should be writing a project quote and starting my day job’s work.

Sigh. I don’t know how to finish this post. I’ve tried six different endings and I keep deleting them. Maybe there is no ending. Not for me, not for this, not yet. Maybe there is just a beginning.

Well, then. That’s how it is.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)