Saturday, 31 January 2015

Short Story - Week 4: Only The Purple Boots Will Do

Ray Bradbury wrote that ‘it’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.’ This is my challenge – write 52 short stories over the course of a year, and quite possibly, prove Mr. Bradbury wrong!

The idea for this week’s story came from writer Sarah Selecky. She has a Pinterest board of daily writing prompts. Last summer, she posted Part 1: Write a list of ten sentences that do not connect. I did the sentences, then went on vacation! To find inspiration for these short stories, I went in search of Part 2, which is to use each sentence as the first of a scene. All ten sentences/scenes will likely show up here throughout the year!

Only The Purple Boots Will Do
Photo courtesy of morgueFile

“Only the purple boots will do.”

The words were said with such quiet confidence that Julie was taken aback.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” They had been checking out the display of children’s shoes, but she now turned to look down at the small figure beside her.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Let’s Talk… About Mental Health

Tomorrow is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Tomorrow Bell Canada and Bell Aliant will donate 5c for every text sent and every cell or long-distance call, if you are one of their customers. However, even if we’re not Bell customers, we can all help by tweeting using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk or sharing their Facebook image (I will be sharing this on the Menopause Moi Facebook page), for which they will also donate 5c.

Let's Talk... About Mental Health
Photo courtesy of stockimages via

This initiative has raised millions of dollars over the years, but more than that, it is raising awareness of mental health issues and trying to reduce the stigma around discussing them. The statistics typically cite that one in five are sufferers of mental illness in Canada.

The annual dollar costs, both to the healthcare system and in lost productivity, are huge. However, they are nothing compared to the personal costs of the sufferers and their loved ones.

The reason this is a big deal to me is that I have been the statistic. I have been the one in five.

I have suffered from depression, some of it major. This post was going to detail that experience. I wanted to share part of what I went through. In terms of how I felt within myself. In terms of how others treated me because of it. To try and help others going through it.

However I can’t. A lot of time has passed since I experienced the depths of my depression, but it is still difficult to put words to. Not because I fear the stigma. I did at the time, but not anymore. It’s that I am unable to adequately articulate those emotions.

Perhaps, as a writer, I will one day be able to find the words. Not only find them, but separate them from the feelings that once again take on a life of their own as I try to commit them to the page.

The most important, and positive thing is that I am now better. I reached out and got help. My GP listened to me, formulated a treatment plan and involved me in the process, immediately giving me back a small sense of control over my own life.

For me, there was medication, in the short term, to help balance things out. Then, because I was unable to be objective, he recommended counselling. This was the key that made all the difference. It was there that I received insight and tools that continue to help me recognize when I am at risk and ways to help myself out.

The only time this did not work for me was when I developed a thyroid condition. I thought I knew what was going on, but did not and endured more than I needed to in the process. Which is another reason why it is so important to ask for help sooner rather than later.

We are all different, so what worked for me will not necessarily work for everyone. But if you need help there is something that will make a difference for you, so please reach out.

And please, please, help Bell Canada with their initiative to raise not only money but awareness. Their website has a wealth of information and resources for those who are struggling, as well as those who love and care for them.

The stigma of mental illness is less that it was twenty years ago, when I was suffering my worst, but there is still work to do.

So tomorrow, Let’s Talk!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Short Story - Week 3: The Furniture Matchmaker

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Ray Bradbury wrote that ‘it’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.’ This is my challenge – write 52 short stories over the course of a year, and quite possibly, prove Mr. Bradbury wrong!

This week’s story came from a prompt at Creative Writing Prompts (#115 to be exact!). The task was to list, in ninety seconds, as many things as I could think of that you would find in a hospital. Then, write a story that includes all the words in the list without setting it in, or near a hospital. Here are my words:

                Waiting room

This is what I came up with from that list.

I should mention that two days ago, I hated this story (part of the reason why it’s a couple of days late)! Then suddenly, with the magic of editing and serendipity, it transformed. That is why I love to write! However, it is not finished yet, in my mind. I wanted to write so much more, but ran out of time. All I can say is that there is a distinct possibility that I will come back to this one at some point!

The Furniture Matchmaker
© Jorge Royan / via Wikimedia Commons

The Furniture Matchmaker

A small bell jingled as Laura opened the door. She noticed the smell immediately. It was that old furniture store smell, of dust and must decades in the making. Not an offensive smell for Laura, rather it conjured up comfort and stability. She had loved these stores as a child and they rarely existed anymore. That was one of the reasons why she had come here to look for her sofa. That and the fact that she was unable to afford a new one.

Monday, 19 January 2015

15 in ’15 – My Bucket List Challenge

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Item number four on my list of 2015 challenges – cross fifteen items off my bucket list this year. And it will probably be the most difficult one to achieve. Why? Because this is the one that will test my resolve to ‘Fear Less’ in the coming year.

15 in '15 Bucket List Challenge
This is the actual list!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Short Story - Week 2: Good Day? Bad Day?

Ray Bradbury wrote that ‘it’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.’ This is my challenge – write 52 short stories over the course of a year, and quite possibly, prove Mr. Bradbury wrong!

This week’s story is another that I wrote prior to setting myself the writing challenge. This one was a writing exercise with a writers group I attended last year. The exercise was to write a five-hundred word short story, using a list of words as a prompt. The list was created by each member of the group contributing one word, and this is what we came up with:

·         library
·         indoctrination
·         mystery
·         fantasy
·         sky
·         celebrate
·         wright
·         waterfall

The story is contrived, but that’s sort of the point with these types of exercises. Trying to make a story fit around random words, especially when you don’t have a lot of words at your disposal is always going to be a challenge! It was critiqued by several people in the group, so it has been edited, as well as the ending revised, which is why the word count is now just over five hundred. Enjoy, and let me know what you think – but be nice!

Earthquake damage
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Good Day? Bad Day?

Charlie swung open the door to the library. Inside it was cool and dark compared to the warmth and sunshine of the late-spring day outside.

“Hey Charlie!” Gloria was at the information desk.  “You’re looking pretty pleased with yourself.” It was true. Charlie had just finished the indoctrination period for his new job and was in the mood to celebrate.

‘You got it, Gloria! I’m here to take Emma to lunch.”

“She’ll be out in a minute.”


Charlie knew that a minute would be at least five, so he headed toward the stacks of books. There was a sofa and TV back there, so maybe he would watch the news to pass the time.

No sooner had he sat down when the walls around him vibrated. Charlie attempted to stand but couldn’t. Time warped as he struggled to figure out what was happening. An earthquake! With that realization he again tried to move. He needed to get Emma, to get out, but the books started to come down like a waterfall - a literary cataract that hit his head, dazing him and got under his feet making him trip. As he fell he heard a creaking, groaning sound followed by a crash. He glimpsed the shelving unit coming toward him, then darkness.

When Charlie came to, the air was thick with dust. He stared at a hole in the ceiling; the blue sky was a cheery counterpoint to the damage below. Where was Emma? The thought made Charlie try to scramble to his feet, but he couldn’t move. He was pinned. He flopped back into the pile of mystery novels and fantasy stories. Was anything broken? He wiggled fingers and toes. Thank God, as far as he could tell, everything worked the way it was supposed to. The worst thing seemed to be his throbbing head.

“Emma?”  The dust had made his throat dry and his cry came out as a croak.  “Anyone?”

When he heard no response, Charlie panicked. Where was everyone? He squirmed to look around but could see nothing.

“Hello?  Emma?  Gloria?  Anyone?” His voice was still hoarse, but grew louder with each call.

“Charlie Wright?  Charlie?”  A man’s voice answered.

“Yes!  Yes!  Over here!”  Charlie saw a flashlight bobbing around, then a fireman appeared out of the dust cloud.

“You hang tight.”  The fireman kneeled down beside him.  “We’ll get you out of there as soon as we can.”
He turned, waving his flashlight as a signal.

“Over here!  I’ve found him.  I’m gonna need some help though, to lift this shelving.”

As three more firemen picked their way across the floor, another, more nimble figure dashed around them. Emma! She ran to his other side and took his hand.

Charlie smiled up at her as the firemen readied themselves to lift. She smiled back and wiped a smudge from his cheek. He was bruised, banged up and would, no doubt, feel the pain for days. But he was in one piece. More importantly Emma had escaped and was fine. This was so far from what he originally imagined, but it was, ultimately, still a good day!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Going Gluten-Free


As I wrote last week, maintaining my health is a crucial goal for 2015. One of the ways I plan to do this is by going gluten-free. I don't have celiac disease, but I do have Multiple Sclerosis. I manage my symptoms well in general, but am willing to try anything (within reason) to improve my odds.

Going Gluten-Free
Photo courtesy of ongjulian via Wiki-Media Commons

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Short Story – Week 1: Icicles

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”
-         Ray Bradbury

My blog is not a writer’s blog, per se. I don’t share any tips on writing, publishing, grammar, etc. However, I do consider myself a writer, and have set a goal to write more, and more consistently, in 2015.

To that end, I have taken Ray Bradbury’s advice to write a short story a week. I will be posting these each Thursday, and hope you will drop in and read some of them. I may live to prove him wrong, but at least it will keep me on track.

Now, a disclaimer – this short story was written several years ago as an entry into a postcard fiction contest through The Writer’s Union of Canada (The exact details escape me, but judging from the word count, the contest likely had a two hundred-word maximum.)

Although it was not a finalist, it did make it to the second round which represented the top ten percent. As it was the first (and, to date, only) piece I had submitted to a writing contest, I found that encouraging.

Because the contest was back in the time before social media, I have not shared this piece much. The start of this new venture seemed like a good time to do so, as well as give me some breathing room as I incorporate this new routine into my schedule.

Photo courtesy of Tanzania via Wikimedia

As the sun rose above the roof of the office, I watched the icicles melt off the building next door. The building itself was less than a thing of beauty, metal roof and siding - coloured functionality grey. But the icicles hanging from its eaves on this particular morning were a row of sparkling jewels. The surface of each was glistening. In the sunshine, many were shot through with tiny rainbows. The uniformity of length of these frigid stalactites must surely have been the work of Jack Frost with a tape measure, though all his effort was in vain as they started to drip slowly onto the ground below.

There, on the ground below, lay a branch hung with its own set of tiny icicles. As it was in the shade, this scene seemed so much more still than that of the lively dancing diamonds in the sun above. A frozen sculpture in the gloom, forming a wondrous contrast. Amazing that both scenes were created by the same miracle of Nature, transforming man-made drabness into a spectacle of beauty with just a little frozen water.

P.S. spoiler alert – next week’s story is also going to be a bit of a cheater – not quite as bad as this one. Check in again next Thursday, to see what and how!

Monday, 5 January 2015

2015: ‘Fear Less’ and My Year of Challenges


I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I usually do, but based on personal history, if I had made them, they’d be broken by now!

For 2015, I needed something that had a better chance of success, something that would lead to growth and improvement, but that didn’t involve giving me a reason to beat myself up.

Enter Chris Guillebeau, whose blog ‘The Art of Non-Conformity’ I read regularly. He does an annual review (this link is to the post in whichhe describes his method) which is a formalized process for what I do in my head, or at best, in my journal.