Being Present

Are you old enough to remember back when teachers took roll call every morning (Is that a thing these days?) where the teacher called out your name and you’d reply by saying “Present” and they’d tick your name off for the day. Being present meant you were there for the day, to learn the lessons and do the work; to pay attention.

But how many of us were truly “present” the entire time? Did our minds wander out of the classroom and onto other things?

I was guilty of that on many occasions, and more so as I aged, for my imagination had much more to offer than the reality of that stuffy classroom. I had no idea that all the thoughts that were freely flowing through my mind had anything to do with imagination. Imagination was something saved for the blank page during creative writing class–if only I had known.

Being and staying in the present moment is not an easy feat. It’s something that takes practice, and gentle reminders each time our mind meanders off into another direction. I think the ability to be truly present is far easier for small kids. I have only to watch my grandchildren at play to recognize that.

What does that have to do with anything now? Lately, I’ve been trying to stay in the present moment as often as I can. For a writer, this is doubly challenging, as our minds are often far away during the run of a day, when anything and everything that touches our senses can send us down the path of imagination. Sometimes, we only become present when we actually sit down to write.

For the past 42 years I’ve lived on our property beside Black Duck Lake. The leaves are absolutely gorgeous these days. I thought the other day of how many years I didn’t take the time to enjoy the colours and the quiet of the lake during the fall. Fall was always my busy time, but one I always proclaimed to be my favourite. Yet, if I had time to make it to the lake shore, there was always some purpose, the least of which was to admire the fall colours and just spend time being in the present moment, not thinking of what next had to be done, and enjoying the beauty of the surroundings.

But I’m attempting to make changes in the way I’ve done things in the past and, hopefully, finding and enjoying those present moments during my day will be part of it.

Staying in the present moment is not as easy as it sounds and not something that is realistic to expect one hundred present of the time. My aim, at the moment, is to enjoy as many present moments as I can and leave behind the worry of the day–past, present, and future.

Life is to be enjoyed.

Welcome to the Real World

My last post saw me reflecting about the use of social media in our lives, and even questioning the reality of it all. Since then, I’ve been taking a bit of a breather from Facebook and Twitter. I’m basically checking things out in messenger each day, but that’s about it. What I was finding is that I wasn’t being as productive as I wanted to be. It was far to easy to get caught up reading posts and comments, keeping up with those on my friends list just to see what they’re doing. Have I used it as a stall tactic to keep me from dealing with some of the other things in my life? Maybe. I’m sure most of us have found ourselves caught up in that a time or two. Procrastination has been my friend on more than one occasion.

And so for some of those reasons, I’ve decided to spend more time in the real world. I think, many of us can benefit from a break every now and again. Who knows perhaps I’ll have more time to devote to my blog, certainly my writing. And, this is big– I may even devote more time to doing housework.

I’m not saying that social media is all bad, because it isn’t. As one person pointed out in the comment section of my last post, social media is what helped her get through the pandemic. I agree with what she had to say. I’m sure many people had that same experience during the pandemic when we were holed up in our houses for weeks and months. It did help me stay connected to my kids during that time. Some days, I lived for those video chats and photos of what the grandkids were doing. It was a pretty scary and solitary time for most of us.

I also agree that there are some lovely people out there to be met, people we would never have connected to without social media. Some people I then went on to meet in real life. Right Sue? And it is the very people we encounter who help enrich our lives on many levels. The world around us is changing. There’s no denying that.

So, as I take some time to reflect upon the direction I want my life to go in, I plan to enjoy the beautiful fall colours and spend more time in nature. Fall is my absolute favourite time of year for a variety of reasons.

I believe life is a balance. Exactly what is that balance? That’s up to each of us to decide. There’s no right or wrong. Truthfully, I think whatever that balance is for us, it can change from week to week, month to month, or maybe even day to day. If you’re feeling the way I am, it’s probably time to take a bit of a breather from social media as well. If you’re feeling totally good about the time you devote to social media, then that’s wonderful. You’ve found what that balance is for you.

I’ll leave you with this lovely rose blooming in my garden. An October rose–how about that?

Too Much of a Good Thing

I’ll be honest, lately I’ve been feeling tired of social media, tired and disappointed. It’s not a new thing for me. I’ve felt it coming on for some time now. The pandemic might be playing a big role in this–all the negativity out there, all the misinformation that sometimes helps fuel that negativity.

These days, anyone and everyone has an opinion about pretty much everything, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What tires me out is the way some people choose to express that opinion. I’m tired of the anger and frustration that I see, people lashing out, determined to be angry at others. Sometimes people are simply downright mean. They will say hurtful things about people they don’t even know. I’ll be honest, I’ve never understood why. Well, I do understand that it’s far easier to type words than to face a real person. Social media is renown for that. What I mean is, I don’t understand why anyone would purposely want to be mean–what is the purpose, the reason? It actually says much more about the person lashing out then the people they’re attacking.

People have always had a difference of opinion. I don’t see that as a bad thing. Different opinions and different ideas can help us keep an open mind and maybe help us consider something we’ve never thought of before. That can be exciting. It’s how we find out about new things. One thing I am certain of, that as a society we will never all agree. It’s impossible. Nor should we all agree.

Social media outlets have us clamouring to collect “LIKES” and comments for the things we post, to seek that instant validation from others. Most of us lap that up. I think that deep down all many of us want is to feel as though our lives matter, that we matter as a person and we look for that outside ourselves. We allow the opinions of others to carry more weight than our own. But this is the thing–those likes are not real. We often forget what we’ve hit the “LIKE” button for. We read so many posts in one day our brains go into overload.

I’m sure many of us have fallen into that trap from time to time. But social media isn’t real life. It’s artificial to the extent that we even have to question the sincerity of some of the comments we see. Yet many of us buy into it. We’re allowing Internet communities to replace the real people in our lives. That frightens me on many levels. When I was a child, a big highlight for me was the pie sales and dances held at what we called “the hall.” The hall would be filled with people, real people, who talked and laughed. They shared the latest gossip. You could feel the energy.

Remember when people called to have a chat, they dropped in for coffee, wrote letters and sent cards, they gave hugs, real hugs, not just a word encased in asterisks in the comment section? Remember that? Now we drop a few words on their social media posts. We text. Forget the use of proper sentences, that’s all gone. Now we leave behind a string of words for others on our “friends” list to decipher. Forget punctuation. What the heck is a comma, a semi-colon, a question mark, capital letter, a period placed at the end of it all? But this is our new reality.

We live busy lives, at least that’s what we tell ourselves. But people have always lived busy lives. Modern conveniences have freed up more time in our days, time that many of us choose to replace with social media.

I think probably the main thing is to find that balance in our lives and not allow the internet to dictate to us. Unplug from time to time and spend time with real people.

While I didn’t intend for this post to come out as a rant, it seems to have rant-like qualities and I apologize for that. I’ve just been reflecting upon some things as I take time to appreciate the REAL people in my life this Thanksgiving weekend. Perhaps my next post will about the positive aspects of social media–yes there are some positives.

Happy Thanksgiving Day. I hope this will be a day for you to pause and reflect upon all the people in your life that you have to be grateful for.

Launching of A Sure Cure for Witchcraft

Last Saturday was the launch for my brand new middle grade novel, A SURE CURE FOR WITCHCRAFT. The weather was perfect, which is always an added bonus for any event. Things went well as only a few people were allowed in the community centre at one time. It’s always tricky trying to figure out a way to do things safely during this pandemic. I was simply pleased to be able to have an in-person launch this time around. But things went far beyond my expectations. They really did. We didn’t have the crowd that had turned out for previous launches but I knew it wouldn’t be. People are still trying to navigate through this pandemic and keep themselves, and others safe–myself included. No one knew what to expect anymore than I did. I went into this fully aware that this would not be a launch like my other ones. It wasn’t widely advertised and actually came together in less that a week. One of the many reasons for this was, I didn’t want to wait until proof of vaccination was required which was coming in to effect the following Monday. It just seemed as it would make things more complicated and add to the confusion.

But I have a few photos for those of you who were not able to make it.

Here I am with my two cohorts all decked out for the event. Judi and Bonnie lent their talents for the day and were responsible for all the decorations and for actually figuring out a way to make the day safe for everyone. We had all kinds of witchy decorations and I absolutely loved it. Every author should have a Judi and Bonnie in their corner–just saying.

The good people at Nimbus Publishing were on site for the day. Having a launch in a rural place has it’s challenges as many of these small centres do not have Internet access. But things went along smoothly regardless. True professionals!

This beautiful potted Mum was a gift from my son.

The area was petitioned off so that people were able to social distance. They came in, got their book, followed the arrows, stopped off to have their books signed and a quick chat, continued on, grabbed a cookie or brownie along the way and then proceeded out the exit door. Smooth.

Here’s hoping that when my next book comes out in Fall 2022 all this COVID business will be behind us.

Launch Day

Today is launch day and I just wanted to write a short post. I have no idea what to expect in relation to the pandemic. What I do know is that this will not be like any of my other launches for obvious reasons.

I already know that many won’t be attending as they’ve already indicated and I completely understand that. We also have the added challenge of only being allowed to have a small number inside the community centre at one time. Because of that people can’t hang around talking and mingling. Talking and mingling is really what these events are about. That and getting a signed copy.

I have friends who have decorated the centre. ( I haven’t seen it yet.) I really don’t know what I’d have done without their help. I’ll post some pictures later.

At least it appears as though it will be a gorgeous fall day. Whatever happens I can least be happy about that.

See you on the other side of the launch–hopefully with some photos to share.

Enjoy your day!

It’s a Launch

So happy to be able to announce that after the publishing of three books during this pandemic, I am finally able to have a launch for A Sure Cure for Witchcraft.

Also, everyone is welcome to bring their witch’s hat. (I know you all have one!)

Please feel free to let your friends know. Everyone is welcome.

A Sure Cure for Witchcraft Book Trailer

I’m so pleased to be able to share the book trailer my daughter Melanie created for A SURE CURE for WITCHCRAFT. If this peaked your interest perhaps you’ll drop by your local book store to pick up a copy. It is also available from Nimbus Publishing, Chapter/Indigo, Amazon.com

The New Baby Has Arrived

What more is there to say? A SURE CURE FOR WITCHCRAFT has arrived in the Nimbus Publishing warehouse and is already in some local book stores. It will be making its way across Canada in the days/weeks ahead.

Come On Over

I’m a guest on the Nimbus blog today. Find out how a blog post I wrote here on my blog twelve years ago ties into the publication of my soon-to-be released book A Sure Cure for Witchcraft. There’s also some advice for writers! Follow the link HERE to find out what that is.

Walpurgisnacht

While researching for A Sure Cure for Witchcraft, I discovered many things. One was Walpurgisnacht, pronounced Val-purr-gess-nach-t.

Exactly what is Walpurgisnacht?

It’s the German word for Walpurgis Night.

I know, so what is Walpurgis Night?

It actually began centuries ago as a celebration of Spring on April 30th and is exactly six months from Hallowe’en. Somehow along the way things changes and it became a time when men and boys would gather to light large bonfires and make loud noises all night long because they believed it would chase away evil.

It is said that Walpurgisnacht took place on “the Brocken” which was the highest peak in the Hartz Mountain. It’s supposed to be a place where witches meet to celebrate evil.

Walpurgisnacht is mentioned several time in my upcoming book A Sure Cure for Witchcraft, both in the past as well as the present-day story thread. Readers will learn more about the superstition surrounding it. I found it fascinating. I love reading about superstitions and the beliefs people once had. While I realize that people had all sorts of beliefs back in the 18th century, some of them seem farfetched today. You’ll find plenty of these outdated superstitions in the book.

I found this song on YouTube by a German band known as Faun. To learn a bit more about the band click the link HERE. The song is kind of catchy. I’ve posted the English translation below the video for anyone interested in what they are singing.

In the night-sky tonight

The witches rise

Wild folk and Lilith’s kind

Lurking, secretly ride the winds. 

Let us wander to the fires

Whispering, reach for the stars

Both the good and the bad word

Take us (further) on and on tonight. 

In the meadows our dreams will ring

And the winds will sing our songs.

Let us leap over the fires with the sparks

On Walpurgis Night! 

Hear the fiddles, hear the fiddles,

The fires are kindled!

Follow the round dance, follow the round dance

On Walpurgis Night. 

Unruly in the fiddles’ play

Our nightly round dance spins

And we join, wild and free,

This old magic.

 

Only once in great circles

We dance in that way

Until the first light of morning

Breaks our dream-web.

In the meadows our dreams will ring

And the winds will sing our songs.

Let us leap over the fires with the sparks

On Walpurgis Night! 

Hear the fiddles, hear the fiddles,

The fires are kindled!

Follow the round dance, follow the round dance

On Walpurgis Night.

Next month A Sure Cure for Witchcraft will be hitting the bookstores. I’ll keep you updated as the time get closer so check back on my blog from time to time and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.

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