Breaking up With the Sofa

Writing is healing. Writing is a way to let go of the past and move forward, to be right here in the moment. Writing unravels the issues within, writing releases the creativity within. I have many stories within, and I am blessed with both fiction and non-fiction writing, more so memoir writing. I don’t have any troubles letting the imagination run loose; in a blink of an eye, I can see a story unfold. Here is a little glimpse of how creativity quickly can take over. This is excerpt is from my Hospitality Memoir: Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ Summer 1:

I loved canoeing on the Lake. I would paddle out to the middle and let the canoe float around as much as the lake would let me. I glided my fingertips on the surface of the chilly waters (only a few degrees above freezing). As I got closer to the middle of the lake the color would change from clear turquoise to a dark murky green almost purpley black. I’d look over the edge of the canoe and wonder what mineral feed creatures lived down at the bottom.

Sis: Maybe an ancient type of dinosaurs like Loch Ness or Ogopogo.
Marion Ann: I wonder why they don’t have a legend at the Lake?
Sis: Too snobby for this place.
Marion Ann: True, it was named after the Queen’s daughter.
Sis: Not saying we can’t have fun with a story.
Marion Ann: Maybe a type of mermaid. Maybe a whole village. The lake goes deeper than anyone knows.
Sis: I like it.

So, did I liked when my imagination was stirred up and I had a story within a blink of an eye. The Lake had mystical energy and I wanted to dive into the deep waters to feed my passion for writing.

Now I should explain who Sis is. Sis is me, Sis is the voice that whispers to all of us. I like to introduce Sis as my sassy-pseudo-guardian-angel, who says what’s on her mind, which is essentially me speaking my mind. She helps tell my story.

When I reread this memory I’m taken back to those moments when I worked at the luxury resort in the Canadian Rockies. I had the privilege to canoe for free when guests were charged up to twenty dollars an hour to say they canoed on a national park lake. I loved when I stared over the edge of the canoe, gazing into the water, wondering what lake creature would pop up to see what lived beyond the surface of their watery existence. I would daydream about these fictional characters more than I thought I would. I would be serving my guests in the dining room, looking out at the lake wondering what the movie would be called if there was a screenplay that went with my daydreams about this magical and mystical underwater alternative life. You can clearly see how my imagination turns on quickly and wants to run wild. So why not? Stand aside and let creativity take over. I love the creative process! Then why am I having a hard time lately to get to the page? I clearly want to be writing and the ideas that enter my mind are crying out to be written. I only have one person to blame, me. I am in the way, along with the sofa and Netflix. So I’m breaking up with the sofa.

I’m getting up from the comfortable routine that the ego is holding onto and dragging me down with it. I’m walking away from the TV shows and movies that will always be there to watch when it’s time to zone out but not now, not any longer. Creativity and I have had enough. Not that I spend hours sucked into House of Cards or Netflix Original movies, but it’s too easy to sit down and get sucked into the promise of a funny and exhilarating movie that will surely leave you with laugh lines.

I’m breaking up with the ego. It’s a process, the ego has been around for a long time and I’ve had moments where I can clearly see the true self, the writer I have known for even a longer time. Yet, there is a moment where the ego slips in and a week goes by and you haven’t written a damn thing and wonder what Walter White and Jesse are up to.

Like any break-up, it may take time to not miss the sofa and curling up with a cup of tea and watching one of my favorite Woody Allen movies. Now it’s time to take that cup of tea to the writing room and write my own movies. Hear-hear! The creative cheerleader enthusiastically confirms as I sit down and begin to write.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

I should also mention where the Lake is located. Without giving it away, it is in a town called Lake Louise, Alberta. If you would like advanced Free chapters of my Hotel Memoir, please sign up for my Newsletter. See you there!

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A Recipe to Share – Thai Spaghetti Squash Noodles

I love to write and I love to cook. My social media pages tend to be filled with either writing quotes or pictures of what we are cooking. I thought I would share a few of our favourite recipes (Caution: plant-based recipes because veggies are good for you).

We recently made our first recipe from the Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better, alkaline recipe book by Julie Cove. Thai Spaghetti Squash Noodles with Sweet Chili sauce.

The Noodles:

• 1 large spaghetti squash
• 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (I used light tasting olive oil)
• ¼ cup sliced yellow onion (I used a sweet onion)
• 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh lemongrass (we used lemon zest because I forgot to but the lemongrass)
• 1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
• 1 Tbsp. finely chopped ginger
• ½ cup julienned scrubbed carrot
• ½ cup julienned, scrubbed daikon radish
• ½ cup julienned red bell pepper (we used about a cup because we love red peppers.
• ½ cup julienned, scrubbed zucchini
• 1 Tbsp. Bragg liquid aminos (I used soy sauce = 2 tbsp to the 1 tbsp)
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 5 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
• 3 Tbsp. sliced fresh mint (we didn’t use this, my partner is not a fan of mind, fair enough)
• 3 Tbsp. of sliced basil
• 3 Tbsp. of finely chopped green onions (didn’t use, we don’t care for green onions, purely a taste thing for us)
• Juice from ½ lime
• Hemp heart for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (I used our glass Pyrex dish, no parchment needed)


• Halve the squash lengthwise and place it, cut side down, on the baking sheet, (Do not add water or the squash will be too soft.) Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until fork-tender and the “spaghetti” strings pull freely from the skin. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
• Heat the oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onion, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes. Stir in the carrot, daikon, bell pepper and zucchini for 1 -2 minutes. Season with Bragg (soy sauce) and salt. Remove from the heat, then add the cilantro, mint, basil, green onion, and lime juice and toss well to combine.
• Using a fork, loosen the strands of spaghetti squash from the skin by dragging it lengthwise with the stands. Divide the squash among 6 plates into nice heaps. Discard the skins. Pike the Thai-spiced veggie noodles over the squash and serve with sweet chili sauce on the side. Garnish with hemp hearts.

Sweet Chili Sauce: (It does take time to make I recommend getting a glass of wine)

• ¾ cup filtered alkaline water (we have a Brita, I took that as okay to use)
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 4 drops of stevia (Sorry can’t do Stevia – we used white sugar about a teaspoon for 2 to 4 drops)
• 1 Tbsp. tapioca starch (flour if you don’t have any)
• 1 tsp coconut oil (we used light tasting olive oil)
• ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
• 2 garlic cloves finely minced
• ½ cup finely minced red bell pepper
• ½ Thai bird’s-eye chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped (couldn’t find this, but you can use cayenne pepper, about ½ tsp)
• 2 tsp maple syrup (optional) or more stevia – you better believe we used maple syrup

In a glass measuring cup. Whisk together the water, lemon juice, stevia, and tapioca starch until well combined. Set aside. (I used a mason jar and shook it together, great arm work out!)

• Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in garlic, bell pepper, and chilli pepper and sauté for 1 more minute. Whisk the tapioca mixture again and pour it into the pan. Cook, stirring to combine, for 3 – 5 minutes, until the mixture turns from cloudy to clear. Add the salt and maple syrup (if using). Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and pour into a sauceboat. (The sauce will set up as it chills. To thin it, whisk in a drizzle of warm water.)

Enjoy! Please let me know how you made out – did you substitute anything, add something? Please share.

Please sign up for my upcoming Newsletter where you can get Free chapters of my upcoming Memoir; Behind the Kitchen Doors – A Hotel Memoir Series, plus fun recipes like this!

Until Next Time, Keep On Typing. . . .

 

What Has your Writing Journey Been Like so Far?

What has your writing journey been like so far? Good question. I follow many authors on Instagram and this week a fellow writer has put together a mini writing Instagram challenge. All the questions are writing related and this particular question intrigued my creative child within.

My writing journey so far has been like a familiar but unpredictable weather system these days. Drizzly rain mixed with sun and cloud with a rainbow in the horizon. A mixed bag of emotions and events that have brought me to the page.

As long as I can remember and even deeper than that, it’s like I’ve had this past life, even lives that I can see and feel but they seem unclear at times. A life where I’ve been writing, telling stories and sharing. It seems that creativity is and always been in my veins. I cannot, not write. My imagination is a black hole, it is never-ending and swallows me whole at times. The vivid places and situations that occur in my mind baffle me at times, where did the ideas come from so quickly, so vividly that they play out like a movie?

I have never been afraid of the stories that have been and continue to be shared with. The one detail I am afraid of is that I am not sharing this talent and creativity will move on. It frightens me more that I will lose what has been graciously given to me. I have this deeply seeded knowing I should be participating like an excited cheerleader on their first game day – what gives then? It comes down to old behaviors and me, myself and the ego are in the way.

So how do I get out of my head? How do I stay on this great journey of writing? By writing, by reading about writing, by writing about writing, by surrounding myself with other writers to talk about writing and ultimately to keep writing.

My writing journey so far is mostly positive and there are some frustrating times, but as I have shared before, the only person that is stopping me from doing something is me. I choose to sit here in my beautiful writing room watching the trees sway in the breeze on this lovely Sunday evening. This is what I have to do more often. To choose writing over the sofa and Netflix. Writing over staying late a work just because I “think” I should stay for another hour over time to help out. It’s not helping anyone out when I’m pissed off because I chose to stay and would rather be home writing. A vicious cycle the ego plays over and over again.

My writing journey has provided me with beautiful places to live and experience moments that I have been able to soak in and share. Creativity has brought me across the country to live on an island and experience so many wonderful moments. Creativity has provided everything I need to excel this creative life and for this, I am truly grateful.

Now, I will ask you the same question: What has your writing journey been like so far?

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

Write Like the Deadline is Tomorow

It’s Sunday morning and I’m starting this post a little later than I tend to. I aim to write most of my posts on Friday mornings when I work in the afternoon at the hotel. This week I was distracted with other activities, like grocery shopping so I don’t have to do it on my days off. The less I have to do on my days off equals more time writing.

I have been thinking about what to write about this week. It’s been a busy week at the hotel life. After being off for a week it took a day or two to catch up. Throw in all the other everyday hotel activities, in a blink of an eye, the week is over. Throughout the week my thoughts have always been to what I would write about. Should I start with my commitment that I shared a few weeks ago? The one that I would start sharing my latest work in progress about my hotel life? Should I share more insights from the memoir reference book I’m currently obsessed with? Should I share how frustrated I am that I didn’t write beyond my morning pages this week? So many options, so many words to get on the page. The most important thing is that I am here now.

My friend and award-winning author, Jacqui Nelson, and I were talking over coffee before we started to write, she said, ‘write like the deadline is tomorrow’ ~ What a great quote! I’m going to write this on my current vision board in bold letters. I love this motivational sentiment, there is no fooling around when it comes to writing. Somewhere, someone else is working hard to learn more about their art and becoming better with every word. Time to get writing!

Writing the Memoir by Judith Barrington haunts my thoughts. Yes, I use the word haunt because what she shares with us are the very details of why I am called to write. I am of service and creativity has chosen to work with me, I better damn well be giving back as much as creativity has given me.

It is not the obvious landmarks of a lie that hold the passionate moments, the transformations, and the painful growth: those lie within incidents and relationships that are unique to each of us. Find that haunting story that has nothing to do with what looks like one of life’s “big moments.” Use your notebook to search diligently among your lifelong preoccupations. (Judith provides exercises to get us thinking about our memories)

I scribble in my notebook about the events that linger in my mind. Most of the stories are from my hotel life. Like I shared before, I am here to be of service and working in a hotel fills a part of my desire to help people. The events of working in a hotel are one part of my lingering thoughts. Other circumstances, like being kicked out of the kitchen for asking a question during a dinner rush are the other stories that show up from time to time. These memories remind me where I once was and how I survived what I once thought was odd behavior, but became very normal morals over the years. These are the stories that I am excited and a bit anxious to share.

I am preoccupied with the occasions of my hotel life because I never saw myself working in the hotel industry for over twenty years. The hospitality world has provided and continues to do so, what is needed to maintain and excel this creative life that is fully intended.

Thank you for sticking around with me during this post. I kinda feel that I am all over the place and that happens to me when I haven’t written for days. I need to sit down and start writing to get settled. So now, let’s get to it and WRITE LIKE THE DEADLINE IS TOMORROW.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

 

Writing Memories

The Memoir Club, convened by Molly McCarthy and Virgina Woolf attended the first meeting. They stated one of their goals was  ‘Absolute Franckness’. I came across this while reading, Writing the Memoir, by Judith Barrington. I love the image of Absolute Frankness. It is truthful. Down right to the core. No messing around with creativity. Baring the soul with such truth is still an act of faith.

I’m not sure at one point when I become a memoirist; a person who writes memoirs. All I knew was that I wanted to share stories. I loved all the ideas that seemed to come to me easily(and still do) and I would act them out in my head or write them down (again, still do). I would have pages of dialogue between characters. When I look back some of the material I kept (and I kept it all) I don’t even remember writing it. That’s what we call the ‘gap’ or the ‘zone’ where you do something you love and time seems to stand still. It’s a great feeling.

I was given Writing the Memoir by a work colleague and I didn’t really look at it. At the time I was working on my memoir about my maternal grandparents. I was working with an editor and writing mentor and didn’t look twice at the book. Last week I had a sense that I needed some help with my motivation and direction of my latest memoirs of working in the hospitality world. The true self-knows what it needs and it will nudge its way towards the things that will tickle the senses.

What things do you think about over and over? What stories haunt you? Which people from the past do you dream about? What makes you passionate when you think about it or talk about it? What do you argue about? Most of us have ongoing obsessions. ~ Judith Barrington

I started to answer some of these questions and I realized that I am on the right track with my hotel life series of memoirs. The stories haunt me. After fifteen years I still dream of the place that got me started in the hotel life. The things I have seen and done also nag at me but fill me with joy. The hospitality world is a double-edged sword. One that I am grateful to be part of, the world that I can’t seem to get enough of; like a loose tooth that you can’t seem to stop playing with until it ever so gently breaks away and you are left with a satisfying feeling of never giving up.

You can’t hide behind a memoir and I had to learn through my first memoir that keeping everyone, especially me, at an arm’s length. I have to be willing to take immense risks to reap enormous rewards. Am I ready? I’ve been ready all my life, I’m just catching up to it.

I’ve been honest with you and myself since I started this blog. I only want to share the stories that seem to make their way to me. A memoir is different and it can be difficult to let it go. Saying that. I’m ready to share the stories of my life through the chosen career of the hotel world.

I will be starting to share some of the chapters of the hotel life series. I don’t when I will start, I don’t have a date because I am knee-deep in first draft revisions but I need a kick in the pants to get those edits done and start sharing this hotel life I talk about.  It is a scary moment for me but very exciting one as this is all wanted, to write, to learn, to share, to be.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

What Do you Want Your Life to Look Like?

After reading Katharine Grubb’s, When the Timer Dings, the questions she asks and the exercises she presents to us have been lingering within me.

Have you ever taken a long-term approach to what you want your life to be like? Why or why not? 

This question is not for the light-hearted. You have to really take a look at what is important to you. Do you want a life that is comfortable where you get up, go to work, come home, have dinner, sit in front of the TV until it’s time to go to bed and then do it all over again? I’m not saying you are doing the above at the moment, and honestly, I have been doing this for about two weeks and desperately trying to break the cycle and I have been taking steps to change this bad habit that has somehow sneaked its way into my life.

I have been looking at a long-term approach to what I want in my life for most of my life. Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a writer, tell stories, write plays. Maybe even act out the stories or have actors act out the possible TV shows or movie ideas that were rolling around in my mind. I’ve daydreamed about a life where I was writing and working with other writers and creative people to 1. get my work published and 2. to help others write and share their stories. This has always been the life I’ve wanted.

There have been some moments in my creative life where I have achieved certain aspects of this life. I once was a resort manager of a meditation retreat center and I booked different workshops that inspired the creative soul. The Painting Experience, writing and yoga, and then in the offseason I would open the center every Monday or Tuesday for a few hours in the morning for people to come and work on their craft. Be it writing, painting, sculpting, music, I was creating a space where people felt safe to be creative and work on their passions. It was so effortless and like writing that ‘gap’ that many creative and spiritual mentors share when you are doing something you love, time seems to exist. What a feeling!

As time and life moves along, I got caught up in the ego’s trap where I kept thinking ‘okay, you should be doing this or that. You should be making X amount of money at some random job.’ then my true self would pipe up and ask, why do I need to be making a certain amount of money at some random job that I might not even like when I want to be writing and one day be paid for my creativity? A very good question.

What am I doing now to approach my long-term life goals? Why is so important to feed the creative soul that cries out to be heard? I am listening to my true self – it’s not that I haven’t been listening, I have honestly been tuning out my genuine self for random reasons that only I can be accounted for. Now, once again, it’s time to kick the ego to the curb.

I wish you well ego. I hope someone else adopts you, I’ve had enough and ready for the next step. ~ Marion Ann Berry

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

Do you love your routine? I sure love mine.

Do you have a writing routine? Are you taking your creative life seriously? Do you shut the door to your writing space, corner or wherever you write? Do you turn off the phone, social media and other distractions to sit down and do what is needed to get where you are going? Are you surrounded by supportive people who applaud your passions or suck you into binge watch Netflix?

Some routines and habits are good and a few of them can be hurting us and our creative life. I am pretty good with my life goals and use to be very stubborn with my writing time. No one was allowed to talk to me when I was writing. I can’t remember when I started this notion, but lately I’ve been much more open to people coming up to me to say hello, or ask about the stickers on my laptop or the book I maybe reading. Human interaction is not as scary as I once made it out to be in my head. Gotta love the ego sometimes.

Why am I asking you about your writing or creative routine? I was flipping through Jen Sincero’s, You are a Badass, I stopped on page 147 in Part 4’s section, How to Get Over Your B.S. Already, there are a few steps on how to get out of your own way and get on with the life you know you should be living but you and the ego are not seeing eye-to-eye.

5. Get out of your routine: Talk to strangers, wear something different, go to a new grocery store, make dinner for someone you want to get to know better, change toothpastes…walk taller, notice five awesome things you’ve never notice about your home, your beliefs, your mother, you face. Do things that pull you out of your routine and you’ll be amazed by the new realities that were there all along that suddenly present themselves. 

Yes, I agree to certain things to pull me out of my regular day-to-day rut that I’m involved with five days a week at the hotel life. It’s not really a rut, it’s currently the routine I’m working with and that’s okay. I’m working on it.                                           I like the idea of wearing something different, and I’ve changed my toothpaste, it’s better than the one I’ve been using for years. A small thing but a great change.

 

I love my writing routine. Sunday mornings my friend, award-winning author, Jacqui Nelson and I get together and write, drink coffee and talk about writing. Sunday afternoons I continue the creativity by either baking for the week or back to the page and tinker with my blog page. Sunday evenings I leave open to cook an elaborate meal or try a new recipe. We may watch a movie or spend time outside because it is currently summer and if you can, get outside and get some natural vitamin D.

Monday mornings I’m in my writing room for most of the day. I love connecting with other writers and reading their blogs and doing some research on possible new ideas. I tend to leave the house to go for a walk or go to any appointments that I need to attend to in the afternoon. Later in the afternoon I will head back to my writing room and settle back onto the page for a bit until my partner gets home from work, I welcome the break and love to hear about his day, it’s important to us to connect. He understands my writing life and he is the one who gently reminds me to get to the page and I love him for that.

 

Throughout the week I have slipped into a routine that I am trying to break. I was good at coming home to work at least ten to fifteen minutes on writing, but not in the past month and that bad habit is about to change. I’ll be here on the page a lot more.

What does your writing routine look like? What habits do you want to change to get to the page more often? I’m going to embrace my partners encouragement and head to my writing room, shut the door and write.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .