Reflections

Today we said goodbye to our minister. The three churches in the parish came together for a service and potluck to mark the occasion. There were gifts and goodbyes, and a few tears shed. She’d only been with us for a year and many of us were sad to see her go. For the year we had her we came to expect the unexpected, seeing her dressed as a church mouse on one occasion and even a clown. She made us laugh and sometimes cry. She helped us to extend ourselves in kindness and be more than we previously were. While we’ve always been a parish that cared, with her we cared even more.

For Easter I gave her a copy of my book. I’m always amazed at what meaning every reader finds in a book, what themes present themselves to that particular reader. I think it all depends upon where we are in our own lives, and if we’re looking for some deeper meaning or simply to be entertained. I’ve had different reactions to my novel. Some people saw it as an entertaining story, while others were left wondering if it was a true story or one that I had made up. Rightly so, our minister saw certain things in the book as a reflection of my life, my beliefs, and things that can only come from the heart.

As we discussed the book, she mentioned how very important the connection of the three generations of women plays in the book. “Remember that as you go ahead in your writing,” she said later. I explained that when I started writing the book, much of what came to me wasn’t at all planned. She completely understood. Of course she would.

I’m often made aware of themes popping up when I’m writing a story even though I don’t knowingly go about putting them there. It just happens, as if the story is being eased in a certain direction all on it’s own. When I started writing Bitter, Sweet, I had no plans of writing about healing plants when I named one of the children Flora. Nor did I know I would be called to reflect upon a memory I had of my father digging gold thread from the ground.

For the most part I try to ignore these things while I’m writing for fear that it will get in the way of the story, but it’s there, running in the background. I’m not oblivious to it. Later, once the story has been written, I can take the time reflect upon these things.

While some stories seem to come directly from the heart, others are complete figments of our imagination, but I’m inclined to think that every story reflects something in the author’s life– thoughts, feeling, beliefs, opinions, memories. The same can be said for any one who is creative. We put our heart and soul in our work. We make it a reflection of who we are, who we’ve been, who we will become. Even our blogs tell something about us. That something is what draws others to come visit.

Lately, I’ve had many moments of reflection in my life. Reflection is never planned. It just happens. It’s important, not just for writers but for all of us. As I think about the next book I’ll write I can’t help but wonder what parts of myself will be layered between the pages. What I am sure of is this, it won’t be planned, it will just happen.

Do you believe that our creative endeavours reflect who we are? For the writers out there— do themes show up in your writing all on their own?

A Wrinkle in Time

We have spent the past week watching old home videos. It’s part of the healing process. Death brings us back to the past, reminiscing, recollecting, and repeating the old stories that we haven’t told in years. And we smile.

Memories are who we are, who we’ve been. Looking back, seeing ourselves for who we were during a specific moment in time, is an eye-opening experience. We aren’t aware of the subtle changes that time brings until we see old photos or videos from five, ten, or fifteen years back.

That’s why I titled this post A Wrinkle in Time. Actually a wrinkle is a huge understatement. There have been several wrinkles, and not just in time. There’s no point denying it. They’re written all over my face.

My daughter suggested the other day that I start taking some photos now in hopes that it will save a lot of anguish later on when I try and find a suitable author photo. I’d kind of like to have an outdoor photo this time. Sounds good. Sounds easy. Snap…snap…snap. Digital cameras—how did we ever survive without them? I mean we can snap hundreds of photos if we need to, crop them just so, and basically change them to suit ourselves. Camera heaven.

Almost.

However, this I have discovered: while outdoor photos offer many different backgrounds, they also seem to offer more wrinkles in the process. I swear. Tis true. And none of it’s good.

Okay, I’m willing to admit the wrinkles are there. I’m 51; it’s a part of life. I don’t consider myself a vain person, but for the love of God must the wrinkles appear to be so…so crater-like? Seriously. A cruel joke by my calculation. As I told my sister on the phone the other evening, they certainly aren’t that deep when I look in the bathroom mirror. “I believe it’s the digital camera. Maybe it’s on the wrong setting or something.”(I was willing to look for reasons. I’m like that, you know.) My sister calmly replied, “Maybe it’s the lighting in your bathroom.”  Thanks sis! I owe you one.

It’s a known fact in this family that I take lousy photos. My kids can verify. I can’t even begin to tell you the horror I put my husband through last time when I suddenly needed a photo for the back of my book. I remember pleading and lamenting, bringing out the big guns as I whined, “I hardly ever ask you for anything.” This was probably hundreds of shots into it, and he was sporting a blister on his index finger. Okay, so the blister is an exaggeration, but you’d have thought he had one the way he protested. I was getting desperate. Every photo looked, shall I say, less than acceptable. One hundred and one weird facial expressions…It seems I could write that book. Back then I had only a week to come up with a decent shot, one I was happy with. Looking back I can’t much blame him. The whole experience was enough to make the most patient person complain. But this time I vow it will be different. I won’t be left scrambling at the end. And if worse comes to worse I’ll use the same photos as on my last novel.

So here’s what we ended up with. The only photo that didn’t show those many wrinkles in time.

 

What can I say? My daughter made me do it!

Now seriously, the only wrinkles I see in this photo are the wrinkles in my pants and since I’ll only need a head shot… Relax, I’m just kidding.

Hopefully in the months ahead I’ll narrow it down with some decent shots, and while I really don’t like having my photo taken I’m at least going to have a little fun in the process.

Do you have any tips for taking good outdoor photos? I could sure use some help..

Serendipitious Moments

I’ve been known to make declarations to the Universe at least a few times in my life. Now don’t go picturing me, head drawn toward the heavens shaking a clenched fist, crying out with passion, a hot tear trickling down my cheek. Come on now folks, it’s never anything that dramatic.

Last year I made such a declaration when I completed my current novel perhaps believing it would stop me from tinkering with it once and for all. One of the hardest things for any writer is to stop fixing every little flaw in their manuscript and move onto something completely new. We go over our manuscripts with a fine toothcomb so many times we can drown ourselves with the sound of our own words. Honestly, are a few rearranged words really going to keep us from being published? I hardly believe that to be the case. Of course, writers go on the assumption that if our baby is ever accepted for publication we’ll be working with an editor to try and make it the very best book possible, so when we reach the point where we declare our novel complete it really isn’t. But that’s another post altogether.

So, to continue my story…

Most of you know I have another blog where I post photos from around the area “..way out here in Dalhousie.”  You’ll see the link over on the right side. The posts are fairly simply– a picture and a quote and little more. I don’t consider myself to have any great skills when it comes to photography, but the blog is really just me playing around.

The evening I declared to the Universe that my novel was compete the very next thing I went on to do was post a picture of a chickadee I’d taken earlier in the day at a bird feeder on my Dalhousie blog. I needed a quote and randomly typed in bird quotes to see what sites Google would bring up. I found one and clicked the link. The very first quote on the list was this:  Hold fast to your dreams because without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.—Langston Hughes.  I stopped cold. I knew I’d found my quote and I knew my book would be published. How? The title of my book, the one I had moments ago declared complete is — To Fly With a Broken Wing.  Pretty cool I thought. Now with this very same novel about to be published I’m reminded of this moment even more.

Now it’s difficult for me to ignore these serendipitous moments although I know many people pass them off with hardly a thought. (Coincidence, they mean nothing!) Well maybe so, but I like to think of them a signs that I’m kind of on the right track. If nothing else, they warm my heart for a time and make me smile. There absolutely nothing wrong with a heart-warming moment, nothing wrong in taking a few moments to say a simply thank you to God or the Universe (however you want to say it) for sending these serendipitous moments our way.

Do you believe these serendipitous moments come to us for a reason or they are simply nice coincidences but mean nothing else? Have you experienced any serendipitous moments lately that you’d like to share?

Amidst Life’s Sad Moments

“The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” Carl Jung

It’s only human of us to want to take someone’s sadness from them, but sadness is a part of life, a part that can’t forever be ignored. We think of sadness as a negative emotion, something that we shouldn’t feel. I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

What I have discovered this past week is that it’s okay to feel sad. Sadness in itself is not a bad thing. It is a part of life. In fact, it shouldn’t be ignored especially when we have a truly valid reason for our sadness. I’ve discovered it is best to allow ourselves to feel these emotions before moving on. The quote from Carl Jung speaks of balance and it makes sense to me in many ways. I’m almost certain that in order to experience happiness we do need to experience sadness. Otherwise how would be come to appreciate those happy times to their fullest? Happiness would be a continual state of being, not something to be cherished. It would just be.

The amazing thing about those times of sadness are those flashes of happiness that exist and persist, those little moments that arrive unannounced right out of the blue whether we wish them to or not. We, of course, have to be open to recognizing those flashes for what they are. If you’re not paying attention you could very well miss them.

I’ve experienced some moments this week that have gladdened my heart and made me smile, made me forget the sadness I was carrying for a brief time—a robin in the early morning struggling to pull a worm from the ground, the little story my granddaughter told me over the phone about a bunny, the peonies from my mother-in-law’s garden coming up through the ground, the kind words and acts of family and friends.

Death has a way of opening our eyes to life, giving us the opportunity to reflect, to examine what it is we want for our own lives. It gives us a time to retreat for a bit and contemplate the meaning of each day, and what we have to offer the world.

Thank you all for your kind words and cyber hugs. Everything’s going to be okay.

If I can stop one heart from breaking

In memory of  Frances Lillian Best  Sept. 9, 1918-  April 15, 2012

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickinson

I found this poem a few days ago and I was struck by it’s meaning. It seemed appropriate at this time.

I’ve been off line for most of the week. I’m not ignoring you all. I simply needed to be some place else.Some day I may blog about these past five day, but for now I need some time to surround myself with happier memories. I’ll be back later in the week.

Inspirationally Speaking; I Like Change

Last post I wrote about how inspired I felt, how ready to embrace changes in my writing and personal life. I was excited to get going, still am. Each day I’ve been waking with a sense of optimism, a knowing that everything is exactly where it needs to be at the moment. This doesn’t mean I have to stay stuck in one place. On the contrary. It just means that all the previous steps I’ve taken in the past have helped get me where I am right now. It’s all right. It’s all good.  Only now I’m ready to make some changes.

It’s okay. I’m allowed. No one’s the boss of me.

Most times change doesn’t happen at the snap of a finger. It can if we want it to, (a change of attitude for instance) but, be honest; most times we have to work toward bringing whatever change we want to fruition. And so we inch our way along. Hoping it won’t be too painful a process. Maybe we even close our eyes.That’s okay, too. It means we’re still making progress. We can breath easy.

Staying open to the possibility of change isn’t a bad thing in my mind. Our truths today won’t always be our truths tomorrow. That warm wool blanket can sometimes get mighty itchy all of a sudden. Don’t you think?

Thank goodness we have the ability to change our thoughts and minds. We don’t even need an excuse. That’s the beauty of it. It’s just enough to know that we changed our minds about something because we wanted to. And no, you don’t have to justify a change of mind. Not if you don’t want to. Just seems like sometimes our minds have a mind of their own.

I’m reminded of a neighbour of mine who is forever bringing up a comment one of my children made in the past about a certain town where she didn’t want to live. Turns out that’s exactly where she’s living today. My neighbour is constantly perplexed. How can this be? I know, for some, it’s a hard concept to follow. Life circumstances changed for my daughter. She changed her mind about where she would live. Simple dimple. I’m not confused by it at all.

Ask any writer you know. This happens more times than we can articulate. Our writing is forever undergoing change. We change our minds about the story we’re working on. We suddenly realize the character we’ve create doesn’t like horses, not since being nearly trampled to death in childhood by a runaway steed. (The writer is sometimes the last one to know!) Maybe the entire story was written before we even knew this.

It’s as if a lightening bolt zaps us and immediately we know what we have to do to change that story. These lightening bolts can strike right out of the blue. We can’t stand around and argue the fact that there wasn’t even a cloud in the sky.

But get this— it’s allowed. That’s the truly marvellous part.

Now I’m off to revise a very old story. You see, I changed my mind about how I would write it. Much of it will remain the same. I’m just going to breath new life into it. I didn’t know until a few days ago that I was even going to make changes. That’s the truly exciting part. It had been sitting unchanged for many years, but as I was reading it over a bolt of inspiration suddenly struck me.

Nice to know that change can/will come when the time is right.

 

Rising Up

But from this earth, this grave, this dust, My God shall raise me up, I trust. – Walter Raleigh

My son took two photos last year on Good Friday. (The other one I posted on my Dalhousie blog.) Everytime I see this photo I’m inspired by its deeper meaning.

 A few days ago I had lunch with a writer friend of mine. It was difficult not to feel inspired afterward. Her energy and passion for writing fuelled our conversation. We talked for a few hours. I honestly believe we could have talked longer. I came home vowing to make some positive changes, not only in my approach to writing, but in my life in general. The time feels right.

Have you ever sensed that change was coming, yet you chose to ignore the signs until you were suddenly forced into it? That’s kind of how I feel at the moment. I’ve been sensing a shift, yet holding onto the old even though it hasn’t been serving me all that well.

I like challenges. I really do. I like trying to figure out what needs to be done and then doing it.

Easter is all about change. It’s about hope and inspiration, opening our hearts and minds to all we can be. It’s about rebirth and rising up to meet the challenges that come our way, not simply giving in because we find things too hard. I believe Easter is also about being all we can be and then some.

Now is a good time make changes in our lives. I feel inspired just writing that. At this time, that’s exactly where I am.  :)

Happy Easter!

I Got A Postcard From Hell

So, yesterday I got a postcard from Hell. Wow! That didn’t sound weird at all!

And in case you’re wondering, nope the devil’s not out to get me. I haven’t done anything THAT bad, at least nothing that I know about. And you’d think I’d know, wouldn’t I?

I know many people claim to have been to Hell and back, but how many of them actually have the proof? Oh yeah, there’s proof out there. Why not? You go to Hell nobody’s going to believe you unless you’ve got some proof.

Little did I know when I opened my mailbox what was awaiting me. My sister hadn’t bothered to give me the heads up. I was totally in the dark. Oh she’d mentioned something about Hell when we spoke on the phone after she got back from her cruise, but I just figured she was exaggerating. I mean someone mentions Hell you have to humour them right?

So what do I know?  My sister really did go to Hell and back while on her cruise a few weeks ago. Apparently there is a place called Hell on the Cayman Islands. You might have heard of it. I think it’s quite a popular place—Hell yeah!

Hell’s not all that big. I bet you’re surprised to learn that. There’s nothing in Hell but a post office inside a gift shop. (And I thought East Dalhousie was small!)  Many of the tourists take their passports to get stamped while in Hell.

Look at that, it only costs about 20 cents to send a postcard from Hell. I say let’s all go to Hell where the postal rates are affordable. I mean Canada Post has been bleeding me dry for years. I wonder how much it would cost to mail a full manuscript from Hell? And wouldn’t you love to be the editor to make the claim that she just received the manuscript from Hell? On second thought that’s probably happened more times than we could collectively count.

The postcard my sister sent was to make up for the fact that she’d left Bitter, Sweet  behind on the cruise ship that day. That’s right, my book nearly went to Hell and back. But a postcard is better than nothing so I’m not going to complain. Nice to know that when little sis made her historic visit to Hell and back that she was thinking of me—Um I guess.

I think the postmark is absolutely divine. Is it okay to say divine when speaking of Hell? Just asking…

One’s on the Way!

I never thought at age 51 I’d be announcing this but here ya go. There’s going to be an addition to the Best household in the not so distant future and I’m SO excited!!

I know, I know, you probably all think I’m nuts, but what can I say? I’ve been hoping for this for quite some time now, but doesn’t it always seem as though the stars have to align just so?

Many years ago I probably wouldn’t have expected this to happen so late in my life. You  know how it is. You start out young and full of ambition, with certain expectations and hopes, thinking that it’ll all unfold according to your plan. Most always you expect these things to happen when you’re much younger and better equipped to cope with all the stress involved. I guess this goes to show we never know what the Universe has in store for us, and surprises are good much of the time, even blessings in disguise.

 Not a whole lot of people know about this yet as it’s taking me awhile to get used to the idea myself, but I’m expecting the news to spread quickly. In a small community secrets are not so easy to keep. I’ve discussed it with my husband and my kids, and Miss Charlotte, she’s a bit too young to even know what’s going on. A few close friends are also in the loop. I mean what’s the sense in good news if you can’t share it with someone. And my mum, it only seemed fair that she be let in on the news first thing.

My mind has already begun to think of names for this new bundle of joy. We all know that names can be changed at the last moment when we suddenly decide that the name we thought would be perfect simply doesn’t fit, but I’m hoping this name will feel so right that the thoughts of making a change will be next to impossible.

It’s been awhile, and I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve forgotten since the last time around. But I will have a much better handle on what to expect during the entire process. Experience is a great teacher. We learn through our mistakes.

My head is a bit in the clouds these days. I keep thinking of the euphoric feeling that came over me when my first bundle of joy arrived, how precious a feeling it was to hold in my hands that first time.

But here I am, my 51-year-old, self writing about this stupendous news at the same time experiencing some self-doubt if I’m being truly honest here. Am I ready for the excitement and those sleepless nights? Am I ready to meet and greet all the visitors who’ll show up to help me celebrate when the big day comes?

Now if I add a Happy April Fool’s Day to you here, you’re going to think I made all this up aren’t you? But what can I say, it being April Fool’s Day and all? But here’s the real scoop.

My editor from Nimbus called and said she’d like to publish my next novel!!! That’s right my baby is going to be published. There have been times when I doubted this would ever happen again, but as I said earlier we never know when and how things will unfold in life. I haven’t been given an exact publication date but the possibility of 2013 has come up.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed. You can bet when I know more I’ll pass it along.

So there you have it. I’m proud and happy and even a tad bit giddy, just like any expecting mama would be. Now it’s back to the real world. There are many novel ideas floating about my head, now to settle down and start writing.

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 149 other followers

  • Follow Laura Best on WordPress.com
  • my novels

  • Laura Best

  • Blog Stats

    • 58,644 hits
  • Add me

    Facebook Buttons By ButtonsHut.com