Does Your Life Serve You?

There is the risk you cannot afford to take, [and] there is the risk you cannot afford not to take ~ Peter Drucker

It’s the second week of August and there are no signs of the summer season slowing down at the hotel I work at. My job at the hotel is a double edge sword. I am so very grateful for the opportunity I am provided that helps excel my creative life. But I do question myself at times; am I working to live? I use to think I was doing okay with the whole “work-life-balance” but when you spend 8 hours a day at your full-time job that is not writing, that is 8 hours a day that I am not writing. On my days off I spend as much time in my writing room or wherever to write as much as possible. There are days I need a day to rest, but then I don’t write and I get angry with myself for wasting precious time away from creativity. I don’t mean to sound bitter or ungrateful, because I am not either of these emotions. I so very grateful for everything that has been and is being provided. That is where the double edge sword comes into play.

I have to work to pay the bills as I am not getting paid for my writing (yet), so I must do what is needed to be done to maintain and excel this writing life. I also really like my job. I like talking to guests, meeting new people every day. I recently checked in a couple from England, they were on their honeymoon and their first visit in Canada. They were lovely. When we talked it wasn’t me giving them the same spiel I do when checking in guests. We had honest to goodness eye contact and when I provided information to the same questions I answer every day, it was as if I was giving the information for the first time. And you know what? It is the first time I’m sharing the information about the dining room hours because they don’t know the hours of operations. They don’t know where our pool is located, they don’t know the great places in town to check out. It was a great experience. A little A-ha moment. The reason why I work in hospitality was revealed to me once again. Sometimes I need this. Sometimes I need a kick in the ass to remind me that I can’t take things for granted.

I had a nudge from my artist within to pick up The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The book is well read, dogged eared, tabbed, underlined and my notes in the margins. At first, I thought I was going to write about U-turns, where something great happens and then you take a big old U-turn because fear takes over and you end up not doing what is needed to move forward. I flipped through the book to see what was to be revealed and the quote about risk caught my eye and Julia’s question regarding the Virtue Trap: Does your life serve you or only others? Are you self-destructive? I had to sit back and think about this question for a minute. I use to be self-destructive when I was younger, but that was a long time ago. I learned that self-drama is useless, it gets in the way of the writing. My life serves me and others.

My creativity heals myself and others. ~  One of Julia Cameron’s writing mantra

When I write I know I am on the path of my true self. I am healing myself each and every time I come to the page. I share my struggles about writing because we all have little blocks that we are dealing with. I want to let you know you’re not alone in this creative journey. We are all here to support one another, we are here to lift each other up to say, ‘yes you can do this, it may be difficult at this moment, but you got this!’

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

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Knock-Knock, Whose There?

I hear a knocking at the door. I put my hand on the doorknob to open the door to see what is on the other side. It’s me the version of me I know I am becoming. I smile because I’m happy to meet her. It’s taken a helluva long time to get here.

I have heard a knocking in my heart for a long time. I have opened the door many times and found myself in amazing places and situations that never may have happened if I was curious what was behind the door. It is also a reminder of my true-self, what I am here to do. To create. To write and that is what I have been doing and continue to do. I am not published but will be very soon and that scares the hell out of me. I will be sharing my work with you and everyone out there.

 

The self-doubt is having a field day with my fear. Will anyone read my memoir about working in a high-end resort for a few summers? Does anyone care how this only child went through a few life changes during her time away from her home in Nova Scotia? Do you want to read about what it was like to work for a luxury hotel? Does anyone want to know how I created drama for a little attention from men? How I lost myself on top of a mountain in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and was able to find my way back to my true self? Is that something anyone wants to read? This is my ego filled with fear. I have no idea what to expect and my true self-says, that’s okay, we are following our heart. Then my ego says, “hell no, what if, what if, what if?!”

Here’s to the unknown. I’m ready.

Until Next Time, Keep On Typing…

 

Do you Believe in Magic?

 

I believe in magic. Creativity is magic and I definitely believe in creativity.  Creativity is an alchemy of words, paints, clay, music, energy and any medium brought together to tell a story. If that’s not magic I don’t know what is. I also believe in muses, angels, any form that brings the story and whispers it in my ear. There are many stories from writers who share that the idea popped into their mind. Maybe their muse had been planting the seed over time and then all of a sudden something clicked and the story was clear as day.

As I refer back to Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art, I am reminded of my muse. Steven shares how he envokes his angels of creativity. He refers to a passage from Homer’s, Odyssey, the T.E. Lawrence translation. Pressfield also shares one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now. ~ W.H. Murray

Like, Steven, and other writers, I welcome my muses to the table, desk, rocking chair or wherever I am sitting to write. Sometimes, it takes time to settle into the writing. I imagine my muses wandering around waiting for me to sit and say, “okay, it’s time, let’s do this.”  I always know when my muses are around. I feel a bit more light-hearted, I can see the story more clearly, there isn’t a struggle to get the words on the page. Everything is flowing and effortlessly. I have handed myself over to creativity and the muses. They are why I am here.

 

This week I am reviewing the copy edits from my editor. I have a lot of fear around this process, but a good fear. It’s more like excitement. I’m giddily awaiting to get to the next step to self-publish my first memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors. More specifically a hotel memoir about working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. I believe everything happens for a reason. I also believe serendipity is a form of magic. I had the privilege to be hired for a summer in a hotel and in that one decision, my path of writing and working in hospitality begun. Over twenty years later I have been provided with many stories and have worked for some amazing hotels and resorts. I am very grateful for this journey and look forward to the adventures ahead.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

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Smiles Are Free – My Hotel Life

When I left for a four-month summer job at The Chateau Lake Louise, I knew my life was going to change. I was looking for an adventure. Nova Scotia, at the time, didn’t seem enough for my nineteen-year-old lost soul. I was caught in a self-made love triangle over two guys and it kinda blew up in my face. I also needed to move away from under my mother’s thumb. I love my mother dearly, but when I was younger I didn’t care for her. I felt I couldn’t live under her roof for much longer. We all have a version of an estranged relationship with our mothers, fathers, siblings or/and family.

My first hospitality job was working at McDonald’s. I was fifteen years old and I wanted to stay home and write the stories that had been whispering in my ears. My father had another plan for me. I was told my allowance was cut off and I had to find a job. Ouch! At the time I didn’t see eye to eye with my father’s decision, but years later I am grateful. I am more independent for his act of tough love. My mother knew a manager at the McDonald’s that we faithfully went to each week. I met with, let’s call her Janet, and I was hired on the spot. ‘Smiles are Free’ was still on the menu board and I took that job as seriously as I could. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do anything I put my mind to.

The Golden Arches had and still has a great training program. I never forgot how to smile while taking someone’s order when working in the drive-thru. That part of the job carried into my other jobs in the hotel world. I worked as a switchboard operator and the office was located in the bottom of the hotel, no window’s, crappy fluorescent lighting, but when you called you heard my sunny bright voice, “Thank you for calling the Palliser Hotel, this is Marion Ann, how may I direct your call.” I must have said that a hundred time a day, if not more. Our General Manager would randomly call on a Sunday afternoon and after my spiel, he would say, “It’s so nice to hear your smile, Marion Ann.” Who the hell? I thought to myself, not knowing who was on the other end of the phone.                                                            “Hi, Marion Ann it Mr. X” – I thought this was a weird way to check up on your employees, but after I became a manager I started to understand why he checked in on his property. When you call an establishment, would you rather hear a happy voice on the other end or someone who just got the worst news of their life? Business is business and I am grateful for those little check-ins from our general manager. The tests kept me on my toes. I never knew who was on the other end of the phone. It could be Mr. X or Mrs. Smith calling for the first time, or Celebrity A calling because they needed my immediate attention to help them with something very important, like going to the Bay and buying their favorite nylons. I am not kidding you. And my responses, “My pleasure Mr. X, Mrs. Smith, Celebrity A.” and all with a smile.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

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Funny Tourists Questions #MondayBlogs

I spent over ten years working at Luxury hotels and resorts. I was privileged to have worked at one of the most beautiful hotels in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, well actually two, but the first one is where I caught the hospitality bug. During my time at the Chateau Louise, I was asked many odd questions (that’s my way of saying, seriously you asked me that?) Because after many years of the same question it can get tiring but never got old all at the same time.                                      One of my favorite inquires was about the color of the lake.

Do you paint the bottom of the Lake? A common question I was asked nightly when working at the luxury hotel, Chateau Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. The first glance at the epic blue/turquoise/emerald colored lake would make you think how is that color even possible? It can’t be real. It is real. It’s the magic of nature. The emerald colour of the water comes from rock flour carried into the lake by melt-water from the glaciers that overlook the lake. When the sun shines on the water the minerals are spiraling about and reflect from the sky color. Magic!

Lake Louise is and will always be a special place for me. I was drawn by the mysteriousness of the mountains and swept about by the natural beauty. I learned a lot about hospitality and how much I loved being part of someone’s vacation. How I could make a difference in someone’s stay. I liked making people happy and bringing them good food and drink seemed to be a natural fit for me. I liked being in the kitchen at home, food and drink brought people together. The classic east coast kitchen party has always been in my blood and where I am on the west coast or east coast, I will always welcome anyone into my kitchen.

As I get closer to self-publishing my first memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, I wanted to share a few fun facts and stories about the beautiful place I called home for over ten years.

Thank you to Kim Teramoto for the wonderful picture of Lake Louise.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

Practice Makes us Better Writers #Mondayblogs

The thing about writing is it’s in my blood. Creativity pumps vigorously through my veins. I can’t shut off my imagination and when I try to, it is not pretty. I become someone who I don’t recognize. I am not my true self. Creative.

I realize I write a lot about the struggles of being a writer. My struggles are just as important as yours. We all have the ego blocking our true selves from time to time. The trick is to be aware of what this looks like and squash it like a bug. (I’m not against bugs, but sometimes they get in the way and they get swatted.) I am here to help you with your writing hiccups, joys, fears, and celebrations. Why? I believe in the power of creativity. Words. The expression on the page. Creating a story. It’s all candy for me. Like a sweet treat, writing can be soft and gentle and it can be hard ribbon candy sitting in your grandmothers Christmas candy dish. I am no stranger to the two sides of the coin of creativity. I am ready to flip and take on whatever shows up. Are you?

I’m currently in the middle of revising my manuscript and I’ve given myself a bit of a deadline. I’m panicking I won’t make it, so I had to let something go to make room and time for what is needed to get through the edits. One was last weeks blog. I didn’t like not writing something new to share, but it was necessary and I got of work done. That made me happy. This week I am walking away from the TV again. It’s a love-hate relationship with the TV. I don’t mind taking a break and watching the news, or an interesting documentary, but on Friday night we binge watched Season 2 of Jerry Seinfeld’s, Comedies in Cars getting coffee. I love that show! My husband and I laugh out loud and end up spending quality time together. That also makes me happy, and it’s needed.

I wanted to touch base with all of you to say hi, and to share that it’s okay to take a break. Take a step back from one thing to grow in another area. Now it’ time to get back to the revisions. It’s getting easier with each time I sit down with the words I’ve chosen to use to share my story. It’s easier to let go of some words to shape the story. Practice makes us better writers.  I’m ready to keep practicing.

What are you practicing this week?

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

One Hot Mess #MondayBlogs

That’s one hot mess. A friend of mine said to share her displeasure of a situation at work she was venting about. I agreed with her experiences and the description of the matter at hand. That evening I thought of how my writing can be one hot mess at times. How the risk I am taking has taken on a life of its own and I’m the vessel to deliver stories. Stories that I get excited about and sometimes can’t remember writing, but I did. I sat down and the words somehow showed on the page. Just like this very moment.

Once I began, there was no stopping me. Anything could have happened, a lot did, none of it pretty. ~ Dani Shaprio

It was as if Dani was writing about me during my early twenties. Once I left home to work for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, there was nothing stopping me. Especially when I made the decision to stay beyond my last summer at the hotel. I made a choice to let go of what everyone expected me to do, and who I mean by everyone in my family because we didn’t know any other way. Or maybe it was just me who didn’t know any better. What was implied of me: come home, settle down with my boyfriend, get married (but I never wanted to get married), have babies (also no interest in having children) and do all the same family dance that my family had been dancing for decades.

Sis: No thank you.

This is Sis, my sassy pseudo guardian angel/alter ego, who is really me expressing my true thoughts. You see, my mother labeled me as a shy little girl and I carried that like a badge of honor because I didn’t know any better. But I wasn’t shy. I was more like Sis than I knew. Sis helps me tell my stories. It’s not that I’m hiding behind her, but she makes it easier to say the things that sometimes I can’t. I think we all have a Sis within us.

Sis: Damn straight.

The luxury hotel and the food and beverage world swept me away to another world. A world I didn’t know existed because I was sheltered. My mother didn’t let me watch The Goonies, because she thought it was a horror movie and I would be scared. That’s what I mean by being sheltered. I wanted to know more about the world that I knew existed but was not allowed to explore because my mother wanted to keep me to herself. I was her only child. I get it, but I had to fly away to figure out where I wanted to be. If I didn’t take a risk and experience what I knew was out there to be experienced, I would regret and resent myself. I would know what I could have done but didn’t. I didn’t want to feel any remorse, I wanted to live. I knew my experiences would bring me back right where I was needed. Here on the page.

My journey has brought me here to finish this memoir about my experiences living on top of a mountain working for a beautiful luxury resort. A resort that brought much joy and heartache to my life.

Sis: And I wouldn’t change any of it.

For a sneak peek of Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, please sign up for my Newsletter. See you there!

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

Taking A Risk #MondayBlogs

Why do I write? The question may be, why don’t I write? I have been writing since I can remember. There comes a point where I need to take more risks with my writing life. Not just on the page but my whole writing life. Am I really living the creative life I proclaim? I would love to say, ‘Yes! 100% you betcha!’ but in reality, I am not. Sadly, my routine has hit a roadblock and I am the only one who can get over the hump. So why am I here now, on the page, sharing with you? Because I like to share my journey with you. Maybe I have done or gone through something that will help you with your writing life. Now, it’s time for me to start sharing a bit more of my writing. More so, parts of my memoir about working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

I have been sharing a bit of Dani Shapiro’s, Still Writing, and I recently opened the book this week to find part of a paragraph underlined. I do this with all my reference books, I underline and tab to make sure I have easy access to the ‘a-ha’ moment I knew I would need at a later date.

I am compelled to take risks. Because there’s no point, really, in spending one’s life alone in a room, out of rhythm with the rest of humanity, unless the stakes are high. ~ Dani Shaprio

Something struck me about this quote. I am taking a risk to. To be here and share with you. Are you reading or just glimpsing? Are you engaged with my stories or am I just writing for the sake of writing? I am taking a risk for being honest to reveal what is in my darkest closets. The other night my partner and I were playing cards and I was thinking of my hotel memoir and the amount of work I still have to do on shaping the manuscript. A few moments must have passed by when my partner said, ‘having trouble finding what you’re looking for?’ knowing I was thinking. ‘No, just moving the many filing cabinets in my mind to organize my writing day tomorrow.’ His response was to be funny and I laughed but he was right, ‘I would think you have layers upon layers of cabinets and those layers have layers and layers.’ Yes, he is right. As a memoirst, I have a spiral staircase of filing cabinets, wooden boxes, and shelves of moments that shape who I am.

Courage is all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. ~ Dani Shaprio

I am taking a risk by opening one of those many cabinets to let out the stories and experiences that have been filed away for another time. By taking that risk, I am willing and have the nerve to write about the life I have had the nerve to live. It is scary as hell. The ego is ready to run in the opposite direction. The fearful questions start to rattle around my mind, ‘What if I embarrass myself? What if my family disown’s me? What if I get sued? What if everyone I know finds out about that time I once did that thing?’ Yikes! Then I take a breath…

What if I don’t take the risk? That would be worse than not writing. I am taking a leap of faith of sharing my experiences of a life I never saw myself living. A career I didn’t think I would take on after my first summer working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. A world that is not for everyone. The hotel world. A world where high expectations are eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A world where living with the same people you work with day in and day out is considered normal. A world where we woke up to the beautiful Victoria Glacier each morning and watched cotton candy pink sunsets each summer night and took for granted. A world where guests could tell you anything and you kept their secrets to yourself as much as you held yours even closer. It’s time to let go and share.

Until Next Time, Keeping on Typing…

 

 

What is Your Writing Plan? #MondayBlogs

I like to think that I am a disciplined writer. I have to be. No one else is going to write the books that are in my head. I can be better at my writing schedule. I know I can be better at sitting down and getting words on the page. I know this because I use to be able to sit down for hours and fill up the pages. I didn’t matter how many distractions that came with the day, I would sit at my desk and write. Now, I seem to struggle to get to the page. I long to write and my little girl within me cries out ‘I want to write!’ and so do I. Then something happens and a half hour goes by of doing this or that. I find myself being disappointed that I wasted time on a task rather than writing. I know we all struggle at times to get here to the page and I’m here to guide you back to the page at your own pace. I am taking my own advice as well.

I recently attended a workshop hosted by Darcy Burke, USA Today’s Bestseller author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. She is successful in her writing life but it takes time. She spoke to us about how to manage our author careers and I left the workshop learning more about my writing life and I felt rejuvenated. A few of the tips she shared were great topics that created great conversations throughout the workshop. The first topic was to have a business plan.

Have a business plan? Yikes. Darcy admitted she doesn’t really have a plan per say, but she has a team to help her with her writing plan. She shared that it’s good to have a goal(s) to work towards. There was a woman in the workshop who shared her business plan. What it was going to take for her to leave her current full-time job to move into a full-time writing career. I never thought of it that way. I was still thinking like I was twelve years old and said I wanted to write books for a living. I never defined what that would actually look like as I got older. Then all of a sudden as I listened to Darcy, I saw a ring that she was wearing. It triggered a memory about friend from university whose grandmother who bought herself an emerald ring as a present to herself after selling a certain amount of books. How did I forget that?! She continued to buy herself presents after selling a certain amount of books. That’s what she wanted to do with her money and that’s fine. What I want to do is write books, sell those books to make money to write more books, run writing retreats, work on buying our first home where we want to create a farm to grow food for not only ourselves but for people in the community. To provide good food for people to buy and to nourish their bodies, minds, and souls.

I think I have my business plan. With a few tweaks yet, but I’m on the right track. I am truly grateful for attending this workshop and growing my writing community. I am grateful for being here on the page and sharing with you.

Do you have a business plan for your writing career? What tips do you have that help you be a better writer? I love hearing from you.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

My Writing Community #MondayBlogs

Do you have a writing community? Do you spend time and connect with other writers? I do. I have to. It’s healthy to connect with like-minded people. I have this feeling of needing to connecting with other writers, other creative beings that are here for a reason. To create and share.

Recently a friend of mine has brought a few of us writers together to meet once a month. We meet at Drum Roasters Cafe in Cobble Hill, BC a middle ground for most of us.  A few of us live in Victoria, a few people live in Nanaimo and some people live a little in-between. We meet because we have connected over the years at different writing events and retreats. We connect because we all have something in common. We love the creative process. We love to share stories. We love the magic of words.

This weekend when we met, we talked about a variety of topics. Book covers, writing gossip, podcasts (ones we listen to and ones we want to create), author events, struggles, joys, and routines. When I shared my routine or what my routine looked like, I was happy to know that everyone else had ever flowing routines. Not one of us has the same rituals or maintains the routine day after day. Why? Because creativity does not fit in some type of box that this is how to write. There is no checklist that tells us how to be a writer or how or when to write. I referred to Dani Shapiro’s, Still Writing about our a writers day which we all related to but we all have different versions of the day.

We writers shape our own days. We sit at our desks in our pajamas. We putter around empty houses, watering plants, making stews in the slow cooker, staring out the window, and we call it “working.” We close our doors when our husbands or wives or kids are downstairs watching TV. Shhhh, I’m working! And at the same time, often we don’t have anything to show for it. We have no guarantee that what we’re doing will amount to anything resembling art. ~ Dani Shaprio

One of the writers during our coffee date said she doesn’t write for money-making purposes, (though she admits it would be nice), she writes for the exposer. She writes to share the story. Yes! Exactly how I feel. Yes, it is nice if we make some money for the stories we share, but ultimately I write to share a story that I hope engages the reader.

I left the coffee date filled with inspiration and encouragement. I was ready to get back to the page and keep writing.

Until Next Time, Keep On Typing…