Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Love...because you can!

I am 35 years old, I have four beautiful children of my own and two wonderful stepsons, I have an ex who I am still friends with and a partner that I am growing with and loving more every day. I could have taken a few other roads in my life that might have given me a better career or more money or something else I don’t know I’m missing. I have had hardships and horrible moments in my life but in all my years in this lifetime I only have one true regret and I’d like to share it with you.

On July 24th, 1993, my grandmother passed away, she was 84 and died peacefully in her sleep with my mother by her side. There was no shock to her death as she had been quite ill beforehand and although I was sad that she had died, I didn’t grieve for her much at that time. I was also 14 and going to camp so I had a lot to distract me from grief.

The camp I attended was called Teen Time and it was a wonderful place, lake, cabins, horses, bears, campfires, games, and the whole package with some Christian teachings in there as well. My brother and I had found the camp together and it wasn’t long before we became fixtures of the place, more so my brother Desmond as he loved horses and anything to do with ranching.

I was in training to be a counselor that year and was having so much fun with friends and animals but I was a little resentful towards Desmond because I was feeling like I was often referred to as Desmond’s sister and longed to be recognized for my own merits and not his. So even though we saw each other every day and growing up we had been best friends, that summer, he was not my favorite person.

On the evening of August 16th as we were all gathered around the campfire while a leader spoke about Jesus and loss I finally came to a point of grief for my grandmother. I was crying as everyone wandered off to their cabins for the night and as I turned to go I saw my brother.

He saw me crying and there was such love and understanding in his eyes, all I really wanted to do was run into his arms and cry with him. I didn’t.  Instead I chose to hang on to my anger towards him and I left to go cry by myself on the beach. 

That was the last time I saw my brother.

 He died the next day in a car accident on the way to be in the local town’s parade.

When I think of the children that died last Friday I think of that moment. My only moment of regret.

My message to you is to honor their deaths by loving the ones close to you.

Hug everyone every day just because you can and let go of all the anger all the resentments and bitterness, forgive everyone, including yourself and just love everyone just because you can…today.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A book that changed my home - one room at a time!

Book 9 - Super Natural Home by Beth Greer

       We are all looking for ways to improve our health and explanations as to why there are so many illnesses and diseases these days. In my quest to find answers and to learn more about the things in my everyday life that may be harmful to me and my family I picked up this book.

        This book is a straight forward/plane language/easy to understand explanation - room by room - of the things in our homes that could be harming us. To make it even better - it didn't condemn me for not knowing this stuff beforehand (Yes I've come across some pretty preachy books on this stuff too). The book simply tells you the truth about what the chemicals are that surround us, what they do/could do, and ways to avoid them.

         This book taught me a whole new way of shopping, whether it's for groceries or furniture or clothing, I pay attention and think about what exactly I'm buying. I try to make better choices but sometimes -unfortunately- the newer organic/natural things are just too expensive, but I still do my best.

         It made me realize that I was putting too much faith in thinking that my government was doing it's best to protect me from bad foods, that was an eye-opener! It made me take a good look at the food I was buying in big name grocery stores and I started to look to see where the food was coming from. I can't always afford to buy everything organic but I know which ones are worth the extra cents. I buy very little pre-prepared foods and do a lot more 'real food' cooking. I know what questions to ask at farmers markets - because they aren't all organic or pesticide free either!

         Shortly after reading this book we bought new couches right when I was first pregnant, the smell coming off these couches made me so physically sick I could barely stand in my own house, I was so dizzy and sick to my stomach. I had them returned as soon as I could and got another set of new couches which unfortunately still had the smell but it wasn't as strong and I did everything I could to air them out. The smell was coming from the Flame Retardant that they sprayed the couches with - chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and other health issues in humans and pets. I would've returned the couches and bought from somewhere else but my partner didn't support me and thought I was taking 'organic living' too far. Birth defects and I was pregnant - I don't think I took it far enough! (but that's another story)

         I made sure we paint only with 'no VOC' paints. I take a good look at the toys my kids are bringing into the house (next time your buying a doll or stuffed animal - smell it - that nasty smell that just made you gag is also flame retardant and that's what the child is breathing in every time that doll gets a hug). I also consider where that toy will go when my kids are done with it. (With Christmas on its way think of all those big plastic toys that fill our garbage dumps and take eons to decompose).

         Since reading this book and a few others on natural parenting as well I have become a 'non-consumer' parent - which means quality over quantity. I do everything I can to recycle as much of our waste as possible. I choose not to buy some products based on their packaging alone - if I can't recycle it I don't buy it.
          I love this book because it educated me on a lot of areas and sent me out asking questions and looking for the right answers. I hate this book because I can no longer shop like crazy and not have to think about everything I buy and bring in to my house. I love this book for the health it has given to myself and my children but I hate it for pointing out how many people in the world are getting poisoned by their own homes.

         Again, I really think everyone should read this book and learn about what is out there and how it can harm us or help us. Ignorance of the chemicals in our lives is no longer acceptable and we can no longer trust our governments to look out for us. We have to look out for ourselves and know what we are buying and consuming for our own health and happiness.

       I'll leave you with a small sampling of her suggestions

  • Most air fresheners are made with synthetic fragrances containing phthalates.
  • Essential oils are not the same thing as fragrance oils. Essential oils come from plants, while fragrance oils are artificially created and often contain synthetic chemicals.
  • Potpourri that lists 'fragrance' on the label mean that synthetic chemicals were used, and they should be avoided.
  1. Look for products with scents that are naturally derived or are plant-based or labeled as using essential oils. Make sure the word 'fragrance' does not appear on the label.
  2. For scented candles, try those made from soy or beeswax, and make sure their fragrance is made from essential oils.
  3.  To clear the air, use a nonaerosol citrus spray containing only citrus peel extracts, which are effective at dissolving airborne odors, instead of scented aerosol sprays, liquids that emit a continous scent, and solid air fresheners. 
 Author Website and Book Info!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Author That Opened Doors to New Worlds!

Book 8: The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

                The only fantasy novels I was introduced to growing up were Mercedes Lackey and Dungeons and Dragons, at least these were what my friends read, and I didn’t like any of them. It caused me to have the impression that there was nothing much of interest there for me.
                Then one day during a writing workshop, the instructor suggested that the next book we buy be one from a genre that we would normally not read. In the bargain bin at the grocery store the next day I found the book ‘The Lions of Al-Rassan’, bought it, read it, loved it, shelved it, and never thought much more about it for a long time. I enjoyed the book but it didn’t really inspire me to become a fantasy lover.
                A few months later my new brother-in-law lent me a book and told me that I would love it, it was the Fionavar Tapestry again by Guy Gavriel Kay. I devoured this book and went looking for more, since then Kay has become a favorite of mine and I’ve read all his books, even the poetry ones, and am eagerly waiting the day someone decides to make a movie out of one of them.
                That second exposure to his work was the kicker for me and once I read through all his books I went looking for more, spending hours wandering the fantasy shelves because I still had some doubts and wasn’t ready to commit to long series like Robert Jordan’s, but I wanted the magic, the mystery and the love, I had found in the other fantasy books.
                I bought a few anthologies of various authors and went from there, opening up a wonderful world full of many other wonderful worlds of fantasy. Yes eventually I read Tolkien too, even went past the Ring tales and into his other works as well.
                As much as I loved the books it still took me some time to fully embrace writing fantasy and how much freedom there was to it. For me fantasy and horror fell in together and my stories tend to reflect that a little bit.
                I only have one of my works that is totally fantasy and takes place in a fantasy world but I bring it back to tie in to my horror works. I just can’t seem to make that leap fully into the fantasy genre in my own writing but I can still appreciate the intricate and wonderful worlds these people have created and shared with us.
                I would, obviously, recommend Guy Gavriel Kay’s books to anyone but I also challenge anyone and everyone to go pick up a book in a genre you don’t like, you never know what surprises lie in store for you there.
                At least once a year I pick up a book that at first doesn’t appeal to me and I have yet to be disappointed, it is an adventure out of the norm – for me anyways!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Book Every Pregnant Woman Should Read

Book 7 – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

                I just recently finished this book and it has changed the way I see and feel about being pregnant, labour, delivery, and a bit about everyday life and the way our fears and perceptions affect us.
                The book starts with 127 pages full of positive and empowering birth stories – these aren’t the horror stories we’ve been brought up hearing, or the exaggerated drama birth scenes we see in the media, they aren’t about pushing a certain way of birth or lifestyle, they are just simple stories about women giving birth.
                That part really made me step back and think about how I was introduced and exposed to birth stories. During my first pregnancy when I was twenty-one, every woman I met had to tell me how hard it was and painful and they were in labour for this many hours and they wouldn’t have been able to do without the drugs and so on. I still delivered my first child with very little drugs and interventions but do feel that compared to today, I was ignorant of the true nature of birth.
                My second pregnancy – two and a half years ago – was a bit different because I was vocal and told everyone that I wanted a natural birth with no pain medications. I thought that would be enough to get them to help me but I was wrong, there were still a few things that happened during the birth that I didn’t like and that caused me more pain then necessary. (I still did it drug free though)
                Now with this pregnancy, I am very thankful that I picked up this book and read it through. After the birth stories she – Ina May (The Nation’s Leading Midwife) – goes on to break down the myths and medical jargon or birth and labor. She explains what all the interventions are, how they can benefit or hinder a natural birth or disempower a woman. She talks about the physiology of birth and pathology of birth and how our fears have a big part to play in how painful or stressful birth can be.
                This book made me a bit upset as I realized just how far down the medical world has brought the simple and natural process of birth. Birth is something that every woman is born and able to do, naturally, without drugs and independently. At the same time I do recognize the many children are saved from advances in medical procedures but unfortunately many of these ‘advances’ are used for convenience and not because there is any danger or because the woman is somehow made ‘wrong’ and can’t deliver.
                I think this book should come free with every positive pregnancy test and that every doctor should recommend it, most midwifes do.
                This book has changed my life in so many ways including the path that I plan to take with it. I’ve decided to get my Doula Certification so that I can help woman make informed choices and be empowered by their birth instead of ashamed by it. Possibly in the future I may look to getting my midwifery license as well but it’s a hard thing to get where I am.
                If you or anyone you know is pregnant or plans to be, please recommend this book. If nothing else it will inform and empower you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Book That Made Me a Better Mom!

Book 6 – Diaper Free, The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene, by Ingrid Bauer
                This books not only changed my life but my children’s lives too because it helped to change the kind of parent I want to be.
                For my first daughter, I did everything I was told, disposable diapers, breastfed till six months, potty trained around 2-3 years old, etc. It wasn’t bad but she had a lot of diaper rashes despite my best efforts to keep her changed and clean and there were the inevitable defiance surrounding ‘potty training’. She turned out ok though.
                When I was pregnant with my second daughter eleven years later I knew a lot more about raising a baby and about environmental impacts and health impacts on children. I kept thinking that there must be another solution to this diapering problem. I was all ready to use cloth diapers but still felt that there was something I was missing.
                Then I picked up a Natural Parenting magazine and in it was an article about ‘Diaper Free’ and it sent me to the book titled the same (actually there are two books with the same title and both are worth reading). I had the ever elusive ‘eureka’ moment complete with light bulb over my head and angels singing!
                Actually what I read just made sense, it talks about how children are born able to tell us when they are hungry, tired, and scared, and guess what, they can even tell us when they have to ‘go’! The truth is that conventional use of diapers wasn’t introduced until the late 1800’s and only as a means to help catch ‘oopsies’ when children were in public. We as the lovely enabled western society we’ve become took to it like flies to honey and started using them exclusively. With the use of diapers blossomed a trillion dollar industry full of diapers, creams, bins, books, aids, etc. Everything we needed to teach our children to eliminate in their pants only to teach them three years later that this was wrong.
                Now if you went for a walk in Africa, China, Russia, Northern Canada, etc., you would find that very few children wear diapers. It’s not because their parents just let them ‘go’ anywhere, it’s because their mothers learn to read the child’s signal and teaches them at a young age how to control and release their developing muscles (a skill they learn in the womb). Most children in every other country except Canada and USA are completely ‘potty trained’ by a year old.
                Believe me it’s not only possible but it’s easy too, a lot easier than cleaning and changing diapers over and over. My daughter started using a ‘yogurt container potty’ when she was two weeks old. For six months I never had to change a ‘number 2’ diaper and by a year old she could tell me with words when she had to go. Now at two years old she is almost completely toilet independent.
                I wasn’t perfect in my use of the ‘Diaper Free’ model written in the book, there were times when I got lazy and put her back in diapers, times when she was ill or travelling when we had minor relapses, but all in all I am very proud of her and myself.
                The book goes in to much more detail about the whole process and I highly recommend it for anyone who is expecting or who has children who are ready to get out of diapers. It’s a wonderful book and like I said, it opened up a world of gentle and respectful parenting that has improved all of our lives.
(Sorry went a bit over the 500 words but this is a topic I am passionate about – educating women on their empowering mothering skills and knowledge.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Author that brought me to the Dark Side!

Book 5 – Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

                I often wander through the book store just looking at books and jackets to pick a random book by an author I don’t know. This practice has led to many wonderful discoveries but I think the best one that I ever picked up was Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey.
                It’s a fantasy novel and yet the setting of the story is remarkably similar to Europe and Asia in history, even some of the names she uses relate to real life historical events.
                The story centers around Phedre no’Delaunay an orphan adopted by a spy.  She has been chosen by the God’s or Angels of this story to fulfill a very hard path. One of the angel’s is Kushiel who finds pleasure in pain and who took the lash unto himself in order to protect the ‘God’ that the angels followed. The other angel who has chosen her is Namaah, who laid down with strangers in order to secure food and lodgings for their God. She learns to become a ‘companion’ which is a woman who sells herself for profit. However this occupation is revered and has strict rules to follow. Despite this the novel doesn’t center on the sexual, it is simply a part of who she is and a part of the wonderfully rich society that Jacqueline Carey has created.
                This book changed my life for a few reasons; one because it opened my mind up to the real possibilities of fantasy writing – I had previously thought it was all about epic tales full of dwarfs and elves. Second, after contacting Jacqueline Carey by email through her site, she taught me a valuable lesson, how to let go of my own insecurities and fears.
                Before she told me that I was always worried that if my family and friends read my work they would think that I was either very sick or had very disturbing fantasies. She taught me that it’s ok, as a writer, to delve into the dark side of humanity and even the perverse and disgusting side too, because they exist. Just because you can write from the point of view of a serial killer doesn’t mean that you want to be one, it just means that you have a very good imagination and understanding of human nature.
                These revelations helped me so much in my own writing and  letting myself jump off the ‘safe’ topics I wrote about and delve into the darker side of my mind as well as my characters. She freed me to just go for it, go as deep and dark as you can and then find your way back to the light, or sometimes not, as in her Banewreaker Series.
                I have since and continue to read all her books because her characters are so wonderful and ‘real’ and when I pick up her book, it’s like going home and visiting family that I loved and missed.
                If you haven’t already then I highly recommend getting lost in her world, it will be a trip well worth it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The ones that got me writing!

Book 4- Johanna Lindsey

                This one isn’t so much one book but many by the same author. Johanna Lindsey is a Romance Author and many of her books have been on the New York Times Bestsellers List, but that’s not why I like her.
                Hers was maybe one of the first ‘adult’ fiction books I ever read. A friend was scandalized by the content of the book and gave it to me with a lot of giggles. The first one that I read was Savage Thunder, and at age 11, in grade 5, yeah it was a little scandalous but that’s not why I loved it so. Immediately and forever afterwards, I have loved her characters.
                I did spend some time exploring other romance authors but none of them ever captivated my attention quite like she did with the simple complexity of her wonderful characters. When I read her books, I cried, laughed, raged, and loved. Until one day, in grade 7, I decided that I could write.
                At the tender age of thirteen, I started writing romance novels complete with detailed and rather nice sex scenes. I have more than a dozen half-finished ideas and two almost complete novels that I haven’t looked at since high school.
                The reason I put her and her books in my list of books that changed my life is because they did, they opened my mind to the stories that were inside and convinced me that I could write them out almost as well as she did (ok I got a little ego trip, I was 13!)
                I am not actually a big fan of romance anymore and she is the only romance author that I still purchase and follow. I have every single one of her books and although I’ve thought of selling them a few times, I just can never seem to let them go. It would be like letting go of a lot of close friends.
                To this day I can still call upon any number of her characters and have them walk around in my head and they still make me smile and laugh and love. The stories weren’t always the most original, but they didn’t have to be, the force of her characters was all I needed. I didn’t care much about what was happening in the background, as long as I knew what they were doing and feeling and thinking.
                I would recommend her if anyone is interested in reading romance, or if only for a challenge to pick up a book from a genre that you might have preconceived notions about and be pleasantly surprised. If nothing else reading her books has taught me the importance of having and creating characters that the reader will love with all their hearts.
                If you make me care about the people I’m reading about then I will carry them with me always. Is this not the truth of many great novels out there and more than a few humanitarian efforts as well!
Find her here!

Is there an author or book that really influenced your start as a writer?