Posts made in October, 2016

(Re)treat Yourself

Posted by on Oct 28, 2016 in Life in Writing | 1 comment

I mentioned a few posts ago about how much I miss spending time in the forest and what an important recharge it is for me. That period of time–early September–became a turning point for me. The downward spiral I have been suffering from a period of heavy depression for a good part of this year. Essentially, it began and April and only started to taper off in August, and I didn’t even really realize it until I started feeling better and more like myself again. Most days, I could just do the bare essentials of taking care of my daughter–taking care of myself was hardly a part of the equation. I haven’t even done any meal prep since May. I haven’t posted much in this blog all year. I can’t say what brought me out of it, but I remember walking to the library in early August to talk to some kids about writing and being a writer, and it hit me that I actually felt like myself. I hadn’t felt that way for awhile. It hurt a bit. But I felt something else, too–the drive to continue on this route. I don’t even remember feeling awful, but I don’t really remember June or July at all, so that might be telling enough. In late August into September, for about two weeks, my back went out. I was finally starting to feel better mentally and my body decided to betray me! So I had a meltdown. I remember sitting on the living room floor sobbing about what a terrible mother I was because I couldn’t move (?!). I spent some valuable recharge time in Alma that week, hobbling through the forest as best I could. And then, two weeks later when I was feeling better, I started thinking about what I could do to spend more time in the woods. I had spoken to my therapist about it as well and she talked about finding strategies to take that feeling of being in the woods with me. Being in the woods is beneficial for many people, which explains why I feel so good when I’m there. The next steps I spent a whole week out and about with my daughter. We’d wake up at the crack of dawn, as we always did, but we’d eat our breakfast and then go out almost immediately. There’s a lovely little playground that’s very toddler-friendly about a fifteen minute walk away, and we often go there. We went every day that week. I packed a plethora of snacks to ensure our stay was well over an hour long. One of my co-workers had been talking about going to a horseback riding retreat, and it got me thinking about how nice a writer’s retreat could be. This led to a little mental back-and-forth of me telling myself there likely weren’t any in the area, and certainly not ones that would fit my schedule. Maybe not even retreats that would be the kind of wilderness escape I was longing for. So what was I looking for, then? Well, I told myself, you don’t have to be around other people to do it. And that was what set the wheels into motion. I started thinking about what I could do, and when. And I settled on September 29th, in an oTENTik in Fundy National Park. Why oTENTiks? I’m not prissy or anything, but let’s be real: camping in late September in a tent on the cold hard ground–where there are critters, and you need to duck down low and huddle up in your tent, sleep on rocks, and hide your food from potential predators–was not my idea of a relaxing and inspiring time, especially when I was doing this to escape obligation, not create a different one. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it wouldn’t have suited my purposes. oTENTiks are basically the baby of a cabin in the woods and a regular tent. Perfect. I had been wanting to stay in one for awhile anyway, so this was the ideal opportunity. I decided on Point...

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Writer’s Retreat Photographs

Posted by on Oct 28, 2016 in Components of other posts | 0 comments

Dad and Amelia dropped me off at the campsite and the three of us explored for a bit. Then, Dad packed her up, and the two of them left me to my own devices. Time to explore.     My campsite and the surrounding area yielded some interesting finds. It seemed the Goutte d’Ô would have been a better option for one person staying alone, but the oTENTik was certainly suitable for my purposes. I also found a friendly hare foraging nearby. After some exploration, I went back to my campsite, got my bearings, and decided to hit the ground hiking. I made tracks to the Coppermine trail, which was a five-minute walk away.      The Coppermine trail is one of my favourites in the whole park. I walked through the woods and along the coast and saw a number of beautiful and inspiring sights.    I took a break along the coast for a snack and to take in the scenery. I very narrowly missed meeting a new friend…    …And connected with a few others along the way. That quartz stone was just glittering in the sunlight as I rounded the corner. Its beauty struck me. It was covered in veins of dark green moss and had what looked like copper running throughout. I couldn’t capture its brilliance on camera, but I tried. After my walk, I ran back to my campsite and quickly wrote 5 pages of project notes for a new idea I’d acquired while walking. Night was beginning to fall, so I set about making a campfire. This proved a challenge at first. It took me a lot of tries, a wasted firestarter, and half a book of matches before I achieved much success. Some scrap wood on the ground nearby also served as a sort of an extended match. But… Before long, I was met with the warmth and success of a happily crackling little fire. Once it was finally lit, it stayed lit for three hours. I sipped an Erdinger, roasted vegan marshmallows and veggie dogs, and contemplated for a long time. 2016 has been a strange year for me, but it led me here, to this moment. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied movement, and a little deer mouse hopped around my feet. I named it Peter. With a chill in the air and an owl hooting in the distance, I retired into my sleeping bag in the oTENTik and got ready for the morning to follow. I would have to check out of my site at 11, which meant that getting up early to enjoy the day would be imperative. I worked briefly on a novel I have in the works, and then went to sleep. Good morning! I awoke to the sun shining down across my campsite. I freshened up a touch, and went out to the Point Wolfe observation deck to enjoy a breakfast I had packed. Next time, I hope to make use of the cooking amenities, but this time I had brought some food from home.    Some veggie dogs from the night before, two hard-boiled eggs, some cold black tea, a banana, and a chive I’d picked from my father’s garden.  I sat there in the sun, reading Thoreau, and when I finished eating, I sprang up to run down another path. I took a walk down the Shiphaven trail, which is just across from Coppermine and runs in the opposite direction along the coast. I walked all the way down there, across the street to another path, then up through the picnic area. By then, it was time to go. I walked back up to my campsite to pack up and say a final farewell to my retreat. While walking, I tried my best to absorb as much sunlight as I could. I wiggled my fingers and stretched them out toward the light, inviting it to stay. The winter is on its way, and with it comes long periods of cold and silence. The trees are my preferred place and reconnecting with nature was such...

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Unicorn Cave Writer’s Retreat

Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Components of other posts | 1 comment

When: Early autumn/spring, bi-annually Purpose: to re-center and re-ground, focus inward and gather energy and inspiration from nature for the year ahead. Where: anywhere hidden from public view. A cabin or tent in the woods is preferred. Schedule: there should be none. Here is a list of suggested activities: meditation, outdoors or in candle-burning or campfire building photography reading of inspirational materials, such as poetry or novels listening to music hiking or exploring writing, of course! Rules: there aren’t really any, but staying away from the internet and social media is highly recommended. Having a 24-hour phone ban (excluding emergencies) is also recommended. Why “Unicorn Cave”?: Unicorns are solitary creatures. Caves are for hiding away out of sight. The Unicorn Cave Writer’s Retreat is your own solitary oasis carved out of your daily life, to spend alone and in reflection, working on whatever you wish. It’s a gift to yourself. The nice thing about doing a solitary retreat is that you don’t have to limit what kind of writing you do. Work on whatever you want, be it one project or three. Start a new one, or contemplate a forgotten one. You can choose to work on nothing at all and simply gather inspiration. There’s no wrong way to do it. Time is not the focus. For this brief period, you are a unicorn: you are outside of time. Obligations do not exist outside of yourself. Make yourself your only obligation and revel in that. Please follow and like...

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Surprising ways that Pokémon GO has impacted my life

Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

The date is Sunday, July 17th, 2016, and the time is 4:30 PM. I’d been waiting all week to hear any news of the official Canadian release of Pokémon GO, having decided to wait for official release rather than download the APK file. I’m hanging out in the kitchen at work and I decide to take a peek in the App Store, as I hadn’t all day. I type “pokemon go” into the search bar and I’m shocked when I’m met with the legitimate game as the first result. All week, I’d had fake duplicates staring back at me. My excitement was probably a little unreasonable for a 30-year old mom. I’m not going to lie: I’ve been waiting basically my entire life for Pokémon GO. My love for Pokémon in general hasn’t wavered since I discovered it in grade 7. There was a brief period in my life in which I treated Pokémon Diamond as though it was my full-time job. In short: I love Pokémon. As a mom to a very busy toddler, I don’t really get many chances to play video games. That makes me a little sad sometimes, as I do truly love gaming and have a lot of feelings about video games in general. Pokémon GO shone in the distance like a beacon of light in my dark, stagnant gaming life. Finally: a game I could play while out with my daughter. There was nothing I couldn’t love about this. It was perfect for me. And it still is, 2 and a half months later. So, here are some ways that Pokémon GO has impacted me. I’m looking at my phone far less (and therefore using less data) This is the one that surprised me the most. I thought I would be using my phone more. Before GO, I would often open up my phone and browse through Facebook while out on walks, checking my notifications and sometimes making posts. Not only has GO forced me to be more aware of my data usage, but it’s kicked Facebook off my data usage list altogether, along with the similarly high-cost Snapchat. I’ve been more productive With my mind away from my phone, I’ve been free to think of other things, and those thoughts have wandered back into the creative realm after a bit of a pause. Walking gets my creative juices flowing, too. Because of these things, and because of PoGO’s ease of use, I’ve been thinking more about what I can write while I’m out for a walk. I am attributing my recent resurgence in posting on this blog to that. I really am! I’m exercising more Don’t get me wrong: I usually do exercise quite a bit and I feel I lead a fairly active lifestyle. Nonetheless, I have found that GO has gotten me up and motivated on several occasions–particularly if I have an egg that’s close to hatching. I’m bonding with strangers and friends in new ways Within the first few days of playing the game, I ran into a couple of teenage boys who both had their phones out. Since you can usually tell who is playing by a glance, they called out to me “Pokémon GO?”. We high-fived in passing, then I proceeded to utterly fail at taking their gym from them. My point is this: I would never have interacted with these guys on a normal day. I rarely interact with people I know if I can help it, let alone strangers. I have gone on 2 AM Poké-hunts with co-workers and ridden in a car alongside a friend in PJs, and have simultaneously done a hostile takeover of gyms in Albert County with my friend while he was on his delivery route (Team Mystic for life). PoGO has led to some amusing and often impromptu social situations. For someone who resists spontaneity, this has been a refreshing change of pace. It has diversified daily outings with my daughter, and we’ve had some unique family outings Knowing that Centennial Park was a nest for Machops was reason enough to go, but the fact that...

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