I am honoured to be nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by the witty and crafty writer and blogger J.J. Azar.
First, a few things about J.J.
- He has only recently joined the WordPress community, yet his list of followers soared to 100 and beyond in a very short time. Clearly, he is charismatic and people enjoy his blog. It’s either that or the name “J.J. Azar,” which will look good on a book cover.
- He is a university student with a double major, studying Political Science and Philosophy, gearing up for Law School. (We say “university” here in Canada, J.J. “College” is actually something else 😉 )
- As if that wasn’t ambitious enough, J.J. is also on a journey to complete a western-adventure novel.
- J.J. appreciates music and has been a faithful follower of my Christmas and Writing Song post series, which I truly appreciate.
- Apparently, J.J. has a monocle. Yes. Read it for yourself here in paragraph two. While you’re on that page, check out the great picture of J.J. and his cousins, dubbed the Five Strapping Lads. (It must be awesome to have cousins nearby!)
Okay, so on to the instructions.
I’m not old enough to own a monocle, so please standby as I hunt for my reading glasses.
When you get this award,
- Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog
- Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post
- Share 7 things about yourself
- Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15)
- Include this set of rules
- Inform your nominees
7 things about myself that aren’t in my bio, hmm… You already know I’m an author, I loved the Great Lakes and canoeing in my youth, I’ve played eight musical instruments, I’ve revisited the classical guitar, I’m obsessed with certain music, and I’m a weather geek (lots of weather stuff in my blog). I mentioned martial arts, but not in any great detail, so I’ll begin with that.
One: Martial Arts
In 2002, I learned the 108 moves of Taoist Tai Chi. After that, I took Wado Kai Karate with my kids and achieved my green belt. Had I been tested, I would have passed for my blue, especially since I knew two extra katas, which we taught kids as assistant instructors. On Valentine’s Day in 2007, I began taking Songham Taekwondo until about 2010 or 2011, when working long hours and evenings forced me to give it up. I won medals at tournaments and testings and achieved the level of brown belt. In my late forties and forty pounds overweight due to my metabolism, I held the pushup record for the women in the taekwondo school with 62 men’s pushups, which rivalled the young men’s (age 18-24) requirements.
I played a little classical guitar in my youth, taught by my father. I had potential with technical aspects, but never learned notes, and my repertoire of musical selections was limited. In 2014, I took up classical guitar with an experienced instructor after a long hiatus and learned to read guitar notes. Unfortunately, my coordination and retention are not what they once were, but part of this decision is to “use it before I lose it.”
Since I picked up the guitar again, I can say with certainty that
- every teacher should also be a student at something, especially something difficult
- the guitar is the best barometer for measuring my stress level and general health
Three: What if?
I may not have been a promising singer or songwriter as a youth, but I did exhibit considerable talent in playing musical instruments and was quite a good sight reader. (I could read notes in three different clefs for seven different instruments, just not for guitar.) It had crossed my mind to go into music professionally–at one point I even knew someone who went on to major in music at Western University in Ontario–but, of course, I was talked out of it.
In recent years, I have spoken with musicians, even a member of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and I lament that I didn’t follow my heart. All the things I was warned about–low pay, bad hours, competition–came to pass anyway. This emphasis on the “practical and lucrative” and well-intentioned advice gone bad became the basis for Beyond the Precipice. However, since I wasn’t a professional musician, I could dare to break boards in taekwondo and muck around in the garden with my bare hands.
Four: I used to write songs
Not good ones, not like my brother, but I did make several attempts. I didn’t have the talent to compose grand instrumentals (my brother did), and though I could carry a tune, I couldn’t sing to save my life (my sister and dad’s voices were amazing, and I have two daughters who inherited the talent from both sides of the family). I wasn’t even as good a writer as my academic classmates in junior high and high school (my teachers made that pretty clear), so I really had little going for me. But I didn’t let that stop me from living in my own little writer world.
I have dared to release a song I wrote in 1981 on this blog. It posts on January 30th.
The revised lyrics to Silver Bells (When Snow Gets You Down, Write Songs) did not require the invention of a new melody and chord accompaniment, but writing the words provided good therapy to cope with a tough winter on many levels.
As for poetry, I never really knew much about it, but my big claim to fame was winning second prize in a high school poetry contest. The poem made it into the yearbook, so for all intents and purposes, I was a published author in 1979. (Sporadic Poetry.)
My mother had a green thumb. She had a jungle of plants indoors and grew flowers and vegetables outside. As a kid and teen, I found nothing attractive about gardening except scarfing down peas and berries. I loved cutting the grass but had no interest in planting and tending a garden. It was the most boring thing ever, and besides, plants didn’t like me.
Strangely, that all changed when we bought a house in 1997. I received my first plant cutting, a bleeding heart, from a neighbour’s bush that spring, which I transplanted into my own garden. Afterward, another neighbour offered raspberries. Bit by bit, I built up my perennial garden and enhanced it with colourful annuals. My garden became the talk of the neighbourhood. In the back yard, we also grew a vegetable garden. I cooked some cool things.
Life happened, and I had no garden for ten years. I spent the decade as a single parent paying high rents in apartments. In spring 2016, I bought a matchbox-sized apartment condo that, to my surprise, happened to have a community garden. I bought the 4×10 foot plot for the season and was so excited about my good fortune that I wrote the Story of Our Garden.
Six: The wilderness, survival stories
You’d never know it now, but I used to love the wilderness. When I was young, I liked survival stories like Lost in the Barrens (Farley Mowat)–which happened to be one of the stories read to us in grade six. Except for science fiction, I liked realism for a long time, and avoided social drama. I’m still not the most adept at social politics (except to analyze retrospectively), but I’ve developed an extensive background in teaching, parenting, human development, the brain, and psychology. These now underpin most of my writing in addition to common human life struggles.
My appreciation for fantasy developed when I raised my kids. As for The Hobbit, which we studied in grade eight, I actually didn’t like it until I found out it was an adventure. As we worked our way through the novel, I began to love it. It also helped that my grade eight literature (as it was called then) teacher had us doing the best activities.
I was going to dedicate my first novel to this teacher, especially since he was the only person who actually taught me something about novels and writing, such as the Journey Motif and Theme of Literature (loss of identity, self-discovery, rebirth). By the time that dream was realized and my first novel was written–some 35 years later–my kids, “without whom I would not have attained wisdom,” got the dedication.
Seven: I always wanted to play the drums
Yup. It’s true. Playing drums is what I call a whole-body experience. It’s essentially a form of meditation. It’s bound to be a better drug than just listening to music. At this point in my life, however, even if I could afford drums or lessons and had a place to make such racket, I have to wonder if my natural rhythmic abilities and coordination are still intact enough. I’ve also wanted a piano since we had to leave one behind in Prague when I was four. It was actually a family heirloom. These days, with the advent of electric pianos that sound strikingly like the real things–but you can play them with headphones and not get yourself evicted–this may still be a possibility in the future as I continue to recover the scattered pieces of my life.
Building a Healthy Lifestyle (massage, fitness, and novel writing)
Nicole Sundays (great writing and humour)
Dana Wayne, Author’s post (nominated by Patty Wiseman)
Phyllis Still’s post (nominated by Patty Wiseman)