Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

Social Media

It’s Monday and time for another Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.
Before I get to the answer to today’s question,

Redefining Disability on Facebook.

Rose is the brains behind this whole thing,

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge,

but I invite anyone who is interested in this subject to feel free to visit, not only her original post, but also the extended community I hope will grow on Facebook.
I read Rose’s questions and have been answering them, along with others, but I think a Facebook page could be a wonderful place to share posts and articles about disability.
I think RDAC and the Facebook page are a place to redefine what disability means to the people who live it, to bring awareness to the issues that surround it, and to express the challenges that come up when living with any sort of disability imaginable.
Hope to talk to you all there.
***
Q: What would you like the general public to know about your disabilities, disability in general, or any other relevant subject?
A: I have been seeing a lot of stories on the news lately.
There have been the multiple features about customers being denied entry into public buildings in Toronto, with their service animals.
Is it up to the police to do anything about this?
What is their duty to enforce the law that a guide dog or any other service animal is legally permitted in any public space?
I have had this happen to me in the past. I can feel these people’s outrage, to be denied the right to enter a cafe, to get something to eat, with their guide.
Then there was the story of a cafe which is run by all visually impaired workers.
The workers say, in the piece, they want to illustrate to the customers and the world that people with visual impairment are just as capable as anyone else.
People in the piece said they made excellent coffee.
I make coffee all the time. I can understand why they want to showcase this to the world. I think it’s great, but I didn’t like that there was a part of me which felt they could become a thing of entertainment. People sitting there and enjoying the show of blind people trying to serve their customers.
Are these stories becoming entertainment, like watching animals in the zoo?
I know, I know. This could all be in my own head and I don’t mean to be over-sensitive.
I just felt strange, as I watched all these stories on the news over the past few weeks.
In my gut, I understand, it’s important and it’s all a series of steps to educate and eventually enough awareness will make them see…
The stories and the feel-good articles are increasing, more and more lately.
On one hand I like that attention is bring awareness. I don’t wish for any “but” I might add to take away from that fact.
So I say however…
:-)
I feel an undercurrent, a squirming in my stomach as I sense the awareness heightening and the barriers being removed.
I want the public to know everything these media covered stories have been speaking about. I feel the urge to educate, to protest, and to advocate.
Then I feel the discomfort that I have to do this at all.
I think, I worry, that these stories are becoming our feel-good dose of the warm-and-fuzzies for us all, a mass media love-fest.
As someone with one of these disabilities, I realize a lot of this is my own issue, my own unresolved issues.
I want to show this discomfort in one more example:
I came across this article in the Huffington Post.
Is this real? Is it true? How authentic is this?
A woman is going blind and her husband struggles to help her and to go on loving her, the best way he knows how.
Awwww.
Is it right? Is it sweet?
Read for yourselves:

Here
and for the short film, on its own, go
Here.

The acting feels forced. The script feels odd, to me.
People read this stuff and think so many things. I simply have no control on how this sort of thing is seen when it’s put out there for the public’s viewing pleasure.
It makes you feel good to read a headline like that. Publications like the Huffington Post come across stories like this and it’s an immediate jackpot. They know their readers will eat that stuff up with a spoon.
I can certainly understand the way she has of feeling like more of a patient or a child, the sense of feeling like a burden rather than an equal.
I know the sentiment. I just don’t know about its delivery.
I want to have frank and open discussions when I can, which isn’t always possible. It’s more likely that people will see articles and short films on YouTube, coming to their own conclusions, which may or may not help.
Here is the only place I can speak what I feel and know to be true.
Please think about these things when you read or watch them. These situations are rarely simple. They involve feelings and emotions. They are reasons to get worked up, to feel concern, and to register emotions that are often disguised from view.
I want to keep speaking and keep writing because that’s how I can be heard.
***
What are your thoughts on these stories? Do you read articles like this often? How do they make you feel?
Next week:
If you could cure the disabilities that affect your life, would you?
I get asked this question more than most and have all my life.
Stay tuned for the answer, which has evolved some as I’ve gotten older.
And please feel free to like the Facebook page I linked to at the beginning of this post.

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Uncategorized

Keep Calm and Get Your Hair Done: My Interview With Alaina From Glow Hair Studio

KeepCalmGlowKeep Calm: Get Your Hair Done


She is my cousin and I have known her all my life. When we were growing up Alaina’s dresser was always covered with all sorts of hair products and styling tools. We were her models and she would style our hair for us. There were always fashion magazines lying around and it wasn’t hard to predict what she would be when she grew up.

Once she moved from a child playing hair dresser in her bedroom to the real world she put in the time to develop her skills and to become the best she could possibly be.

When I started writing a blog I wanted to interview her about just how far she has come from those days. I wanted to let people know what great work she does and what a strong savvy businesswoman she is. She now runs a business to be proud of and has established a strong reputation in the area for the relaxation and the valuable service she provides at her salon. It was an honour to speak to her about all this and what she wants her clients to experience, from the moment they step foot in her salon until they walk out feeling like a million bucks, which I know firsthand because I am one of those satisfied customers.

I was welcomed into her cozy home one snowy Sunday, early in March. Her home always felt so warm and welcoming, which is a mark of the kind of calming atmosphere she is an expert at providing for people. We sat in her lovely living room with a nice cup of tea and I asked her about Glow Hair Studio and the business of styling hair.

Where did you train to cut hair?

It’s called The Festival School of Hair Design in Stratford.

I started working at Expressions Hair Designs right there in Stratford when I was still in school, for a few months before finishing, and then got my first job directly out of school.

Then one day a week at Springbank Hair, where I met my future boss at Penny Lane.
I worked for a year at J. C. Visions and then I went on to working at Penny Lane.

I was at my little home studio for five years, but after having my twins I realized how much I missed working around other people.

Have you received any business training?

I try to do a couple classes every season, just to try and stay on top of what’s going on. Schwarzkopf Academy in downtown Toronto offers seminars all the time.

From the first time I made a real appointment with her (in my early twenties) at the salon she was working at, at the time, I was hooked. I had never before gone to a hair salon and I didn’t quite know what to expect. I will never forget the way my hair felt when I left. It may have been the styling product she used that day or perhaps it was nostalgia of my memory of the sort of service she provided, but I left floating on air, my hair so soft and silky smooth. This image is imprinted on my brain and I have felt honoured, ever since, to have someone in the family who can make me feel so good about myself when I am most in need of a boost.

Others must agree with me and that is how she has been able to build such a successful client base over the years, people who have followed her: from others’ salons, to her one room salon in her basement, to the one she now operates out of her larger home, along with her other coworkers who also do hair, makeup, and massage therapy. She’s come so far in such a short period of time, but I knew it was a lot of work and still is and I was determined to ask her about that and more.

Did you ever want your own business? Could you ever imagine all this that you now have?

Um, no…I was scared. I thought it was going to be temporary. It was within a month or two though that I started doing it from home. I think once I started it a lot of people were calling me. I started getting a lot of really positive responses and I thought, I’m not going to be returning to Penny Lane.
It was scary at first because, regardless, you are putting your own money out…whether I was going to stay there or not. I think deep down I really wanted it to work, but I just didn’t know.

The biggest thing about going out on my own, which was scary for me, I really pushed my boundaries and I just had to figure it out and ask questions and find resources. You’re putting out all that cash and you’re just hoping it will work out.GlowLogo

What is the origin of Glow Hair Studio as your name?

I just kept it short and simple, like you’re glowing and happy, thus the word Glow. There were some other names tossed around (Haven and Halo), but when I Googled both
of those names a lot of other sites came up. I just liked Glow and thought it sounded nice and there really wasn’t anything else like it around here.

Do you ever feel like someone’s shrink/priest?

(She laughs before answering this one.)
Yeah, you definitely do hear other people’s problems. A lot of the time, when you do see people, it’s because there’s something major going on in their life and they want to do something with their hair to show it off, to go really bold and crazy with a new colour.
Maybe they want it all chopped off. Maybe they’re going to a wedding or event of some kind. As much as you don’t want to seem real superficial, your hair is so much of who you are. It’s an immediate way for them to express themselves, a quick, immediate, and easy way to make a statement. If they want to stand out. If they feel like they aren’t being heard.

(Here we go off on a bit of a tangent about how I could help out by letting her do the cutting and styling and I could counsel people on what’s going on in their lives. I’m working on plans to become certified as a counsellor since this interview. “There you go. We have a business plan,” laughing once more.)

Maybe they are dealing with the end of a relationship or they’re just starting a brand new relationship. I hear a lot. People come in, wanting a new look to match something that may be going on in their life, because often they are going through some pretty life-changing things. Some days it’s good and happy stuff…it’s the odd day that everyone who shares has something negative going on. It keeps my job interesting.
Sometimes the people who share the most are people you’ve never even met before and they sit down and you just think, wow, I can’t believe you just felt comfortable enough to share that with me. And I’m not qualified to be giving out any advice. All you can really do is listen. Some of them have been coming for many years and are my friends and you create a real emotional attachment to some of these people.

What is the best part of your job?

I think my job is so absolutely amazing. When I go down into the salon I am in my element. I love the girls I work with and I love the smell of it down there. I love it even when it’s crazy. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be. My day could be starting out bad and by the end of it…when the music is going and the phone is ringing non-stop, and when it’s crazy busy and all the people are coming in…the thing is, after thirteen years of doing hair, the clientele you build is a real reflection of who you are. Not only do they become your friends, but your clients are really a reflection of yourself.

What is the worst?

I would say the part I like least about my job is having to be someone’s boss. I really wanted a business partnership where it could be collective. I wanted a partner who could and would set her own hours. That’s more the vibe I wanted. I like not having to delegate jobs. I love things to just be more free creatively.

When Alaina moved to her larger studio she had more space and rooms and would be able to accommodate more stylists. It was a huge change and a big risk to make that leap, but she had a vision in her head and knew what she wanted Glow Hair Studio to reflect.

She found fellow hair stylist and makeup artist Chelsey Geerlinks and welcomed her with open arms.

How did you find the other girls? What does it take to make a good partnership?

This was my vision and I got it up and going. This all could have never been what it is now if it hadn’t been for Chelsey. It is the way it is today because of her coming on board. Of course I designed it all and had it complete when she came. The paint, the colours, the art work…she loved it. Other stylists I brought through to show the space, it just didn’t work. I had it all in my head. I wanted somebody who knew and loved doing hair. I was looking for someone with the same passion as me. The thing is finding people to work with who are going to fit. All it takes is one person with the wrong attitude and a wrong vision and it can wreck the whole thing. She’s my business partner and we work together as a team.

She had a bio and a beautiful website:

http://chelseygeerlinks.com

I really loved that she did makeup because that’s not something I already offered. I had constantly been referring people to others with services outside of Glow, that I didn’t have. I was super excited she did makeup, contacted her through Facebook, and told her I was opening up a studio. My sales representative, she knew of her, but wasn’t sure she would be interested.

Chelsey came and she saw it. Everyone else I’d showed it to were all hesitant it was out of my home, but she said she actually preferred it because it was more personal…not just walk-ins because she preferred to work on referrals. She sets her own hours and, if she isn’t feeling well, she is in charge of rescheduling her clients or passing them on to me if possible. We work together and are a team. Any ideas I have I always run past her first.

Next came registered massage therapist Stephanie Ewing and the list of services offered by Glow increased once more.

How did that work?

It’s taken her a bit of time to build up, but it has built slowly. Steph came to Woodstock not really knowing a soul. She had to start from scratch. Every massage therapist has their own technique and she’s done very well.

Do you do many weddings?

I wanted to find a partner to take on that side of it. I like that she can be the face of that side of things. Chelsey counted and said last year she did 28 weddings. I did probably the majority of them with her, but not all. She does the makeup and her client’s hair and I’ll do the bridal party’s hair. We do a lot of weddings, but with cutting back I am trying to do less so that’s why I want to have another stylist doing them with her. It’s a great business and I am so glad Chelsey is happy doing them. She loves weddings and that’s her expertise. Ilike the Glow name to be there, to cover all areas, even if I know I can’t always be there for everything. That’s why I wanted someone who could be there for the stuff I couldn’t. I love that she can be the face of that side of things and that she loves to do the photo shoots and the weddings.

What sorts of marketing do you do/do you find beneficial?

I’ve never advertised in the paper. We have the Facebook page, but I’ve never ever paid for advertising. Facebook’s been amazing. You can post pictures of the work you have done and you can thank your clients. You can post pictures of things you find inspiring. That’s one thing I absolutely love Facebook for.

https://www.facebook.com/GLOW.HAIR.STUDIO

We had a grand opening, to let people know we were here and because Chelsey was offering makeup and I don’t do that and because Steph was new at the time too…I wanted people to know what I was doing now, so we put something in the paper about that.

Once a year there is a write-up about business women in and around Oxford. We have been in that.

Business Women Around Oxford:

http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2013/10/27/glow-hair-studio-has-a-line-up-of-experts

You have to be humble to an extent but you know what, you have to be able to promote yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.

How has it been going in this newer bigger location?

Forty clients a week, in probably a six to seven-week rotation.

Usually January through February – those are dead months for salons and we were booked straight through. We manage to stay really really busy

Do you have plans of growing your business in the future?

I have had apprentices working for me and the experience has been mostly positive. What I’d wanted is to find ones who would love the atmosphere and the culture we’ve created here, who would love to be a part of it so I could phase out even a little more. So I could really focus on marketing the salon and growing the salon. I always will want to be a part of it, coming up with new concepts and ideas.

If the kids were older, maybe. It’s a lot of work. You can always do something bigger, but I am really content. My dream has come true. It’s always going to be a work in progress. There comes a point when you have to try and maintain. You could always be growing it. It would take too much time away from my kids. I want to spend my time with friends and family. I put all that on the back burner the last few years.
It’s always going to be a work in progress. I don’t know if I have the need to keep growing it because it is already a lot of work. To me work isn’t my life.

Are you getting better at balancing home/work life now, having it all in one place? Is that good or bad, having everything all right there?

Obviously for the first few years I was putting a lot of hours into it, a lot of long hours and late nights. I was investing a lot of my time into the business, to make it into something. Now I have help, allowing me to delegate so I don’t have to do everything alone. I can finally start to take a step back now that everything’s running more smoothly. The salon kind of runs itself. I can get my kids off to school every day. I feel like I am finally getting to that point. I have more time now to do the things I enjoy: cooking and being in the kitchen which I love, organizing things. It took a lot of hours and long days, but we’re there now. I am really trying to let it go a little when I’m not working…so I try not to always be checking my screen, my iPad, my email. It’s so much better.. Now, finally, things in my life are slowly becoming much more balanced.

How would you describe your personal style and how you put that into the salon?

I would say my vision for the salon is…well, I love art and I love fashion. I have very eclectic taste. I love old vintage pieces and to support local. I love to be able to support other local artists and business people. I have a friend who went to Europe and brought back some art from England…beautiful vintage prints. Vogue prints, and I had them matted and framed.

The art is bright and punchy, such as the art I have up on the walls of the salon from local artists. The space is small so I can’t go too overboard. In the washroom, there is a small print by Andy Warholl – vintage broaches and pins.

The front desk has a shiny, white, top with chrome legs, from Ikea.

A couple clients repurpose old pieces, interesting fabrics and bright colours. I like the modern mixed with old vintage looks. Old chairs, reupholstered furniture. I just think that is so cool, to take something old and make it new again, to bring back some new life into it. It’s not like I just went to some big box store. Everything down there has a story. Others have helped my vision come together. I’m so lucky. It’s good for them and my vision for the salon. I just wanted it to be a place people come, interesting and unique – a break from reality, different from anywhere else in town.

It’s a whole experience. It’s a treat, for people for a couple hours. People say: “Can I hang out? I don’t want to have to go back to work. I don’t want to go home. It’s loud and noisy there. Who wouldn’t want to work here and I say that’s right. That’s what I say all the time.

Alaina uses Glow Hair Studio to display pieces of artwork by talented friend Julie Hawkins:

http://www.juliehawkins.ca

This artist’s works have become a part of the decor.

How do you hold up physically, cutting hair every day?

I have had repetitive motion injuries, but in the past. It’s just the way I hold my arm when I cut…the way I hold my upper body…my muscles will get sore.

I recall one particular family Christmas party where she was the talk of the night after a particularly bad work-related injury.

It is called winged scapula: a condition where the shoulder blade protrudes out on the back rather than laying flat against the back of the chest wall.

The muscles that hold my shoulder they got separated. It was like a chicken wing popping out of my back. It wasn’t pretty.

I had gotten a massage that day because it was sore. I was driving home and I went to check my blind spot and suddenly my neck and shoulder…everything just froze. It felt like a bone was popping out of my back and I couldn’t get comfortable in my seat.

When I got home I looked in the mirror and sure enough, it was.
I called my therapist, “Did you happen to notice anything protruding?”
“No. I may have loosened things up and it may have happened, if it was going to do that eventually anyway.”

I need to just build upper body strength just to keep it strong, always holding my arms up all the time. I know it’s really important for me with my particular job. I’m busy and I don’t like doing it…two excuses. I’d probably enjoy it once I started doing it again and seeing results.
My back gets tight and sore. I’ve got to keep on that.

What tips do you have for anyone starting/running their own business?

Um, tips…well, be prepared if you’re going to have employees, have procedures laid out. Before I started I had someone write out a procedures manual.

Also, know exactly what your expenses are, month to month. Make set budgets for yourself. If you really know your budget and how it is all broken down. I personally need to know where my money is all going. Say one day I decided to sell the business…I could actually show someone and could actually present them with the work to prove it. Policies are very important and I developed all that from my own past mistakes.

At this point in our interview her little daughter comes into the room to snuggle, confused as to why her mother is sitting here and talking with me for so long. All that she has said about balancing work and family and wanting to cut back less on the former for the latter, in this moment is illustrated clearly why.

What sorts of fundraising do you do, if any?

We’ve done a breast cancer fundraiser. Every year we like to do one or two different charitable events – fundraiser for a girl who needed a heart transplant.

We offered mini makeup applications. A Christmas open house.

We try over the holidays – Christmas store, for low income families. As a business, if you’re able to do something like that for somebody, I think that’s real important. You should try to help others. It makes it all worthwhile when you can help someone else out.

What would you say is your best hair care tip?

My biggest thing I’ve come to realize, the best tip I can say is don’t over process it with colour. If you do it’s harder to style. Use quality product…keeping it trimmed regularly. What we should want, is, we should want our hair to look natural, healthy, and beautiful. Don’t over-use chemicals. I think we want our styles to look luscious and we should use good things on it to keep it looking strong and healthy.

When your hair is damaged it’s next to impossible to bring it back to life.
When you’re over processing and over colouring it’s hard to manage, it’s hard to style. The times when you want to go out and make it look good you won’t be able to get it to do what you want it to do.
Use quality products that a hair stylist can prescribe. That might sound crazy coming from a hair stylist to say, don’t over process it, because that’s how we make money but you know what, we want, we want it too look like it’s been kept up by a professional, so it’s very important to keep good things on it to keep it looking healthy and beautiful.

What are the products you use in your salon?

I didn’t want to carry a mishmash of products. You should carry the products you love and you should believe in it. You shouldn’t just carry them to make a sale. Just focus on that. That’s why I started with such a great product.

I’ve been pretty selective. I think you should find something that performs and then just focus on that.
Schwarzkopf Professional.
It’s such a well rounded line. Their education is great. Their styling products are so good.

A lot of people have a lot of sensitivities with all the stuff that’s often added. With all the sulphates that are added into these products, I felt like I needed to carry a line that was very clean. I have really seen over the years a real need for less sulphates.

Kevin Murphy is the other one.

You see it in a lot more high-end magazines. It’s featured in Vogue and Harper’s bazaar. I had seen them but they were really hard to access around here at the time.
It was not offered in any other salons around here and I wanted to carry it because it was unique and different. It was special.

It’s more of a luxury line. It’s a higher price point but that’s because the packaging is really sleek and beautiful, it’s got a lot more essential oils in it, and it’s animal cruelty free, which a lot of people like. It takes less time to break down in a landfill. Just a lot of the natural aromas – lavender. We got that line in and because I have my hands in it a lot of the time, I like something that’s a little cleaner.

Chelsey (we do have bits and pieces of things we truly love, but) she is a huge Moroccanoil fan, so she has the stuff that she likes.

Some places carry like thirty different hair care lines and you don’t know what to pick because there are so many in front of you.
You really need to carry something that you believe in and that you think is going to work for everybody.
I like having a couple different options for people at a couple different price points.

Those are my two main ones.

I decide to end the interview on a humorous note and with a lesson in failure and in not giving up, a part of business and also in life.

What was the worst mistake you’ve ever made on someone’s hair?

This is a good one.

It was my very first hair cut when I worked at Expressions Hair Design. We used to have quite a few actors from Stratford Festival come in. This guy came in and he was a younger guy, handsome, and he was my first hair cut. He was this handsome actor from the festival, so I was nervous. I was still in school, but it was my first hair cut as an apprentice. I was using their clippers and they had things a little different than what I was used to in school. I don’t know what I was thinking or what I was doing, but I forgot to put the guard on the clipper. I ended up shaving a bald strip right up the back of his head.

I was like, oh dear!

I went and buzzed the back of his head completely bald, so from the front it looked like a normal hair cut.

When I finished I said, I’ve got to tell you something. I totally messed up your hair.

So I handed him a mirror and showed him what I’d done and he just burst out laughing. I didn’t know who he was referring to:

“Oh my god! I look like the guy from the Volkswagen commercial.”

I just started bawling. I thought, my first day on the job…I’m going to be fired. I ran upstairs and I was crying.
Another stylist was also working. My boss, it was the end of the day, she had gone home and left me there. The other girl tried to fix it. I never cut his hair again.

Rumour has it that guy still goes into that same salon and has his hair cut…so they didn’t lose him as a client.

*****

To anyone who has known her long and has seen what she has built – you don’t achieve all that she has now without the passion for styling, a genuine love of people, and that is how it’s always been. It gives hope for me to know her story and to tell it to others, that if you are meant to do something you can find a way to make it happen. We need more women like her around, in business and in the arts. Her creations can be seen and enjoyed by so many, when they walk out of her salon and show themselves off, their best selves, to the world.

“It’s not all superficial. It’s not all just about making people look like Kim Kardashian. It actually really does sooth people’s souls. People can be having the worst day of their life. I love the glitz and the glam and I think it’s cool and I love fashion, but it’s so much more than that. It’s not all just superficially making them feel better. It’s not just what I’m doing for them, it’s what these people are doing for me when I am having a bad day. At least I have a couple hours to catch up, for sure. Keep it still professional, but a place people are going to want to come to. These people all become my friends and we all help each other.”

GlowSignage


I wanted to highlight the talents of local women and the successful businesses they run with grace and style. It can’t always be easy, but some make it look that way…like they were meant to do it and could do it in their sleep. I am happy to write about Glow and hope for continued and future success. Thank you Alaina for talking with me and for all you do to help myself and so many others feel better about ourselves and just a little more beautiful everyday.

The following article, which I’ve found and decided to include at the end of this interview, is something I was trying to get at with this interview. I find it endlessly fascinating, the relationship between a hair dresser and their client sitting in the chair. It is a relationship like no other and I had the idea to interview Alaina when I observed what was going on in the salon around me as I sat in that chair:

http://elitedaily.com/women/why-stylist-is-your-true-bff/973406/

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Poetry, SoCS

So CS: Not For Nothing

wpid-socs-badge-2015-03-28-13-23.jpg

***

Naught for nothing – I try and I try.

Naught for nothing – I am barely holding on.

Naught for nothing – I thought I had it and I lost what it was.

Naught for nothing – I can’t quite get a grip.

Naught for nothing – the knots in my stomach just tightened again.

Naught for nothing – I am not sure where I belong.

Naught for all the nots in my stomach that are not loosening, no matter how much I try.

***

WOW!

What the hell was that?

Okay, was that a poem?

I am not sure.

:-)

I just considered the prompt at Linda G Hill’s:

SoCS for March 28

blog post and I let stream of consciousness take over.

It’s a rather perfect first attempt for me at this blog prompt. I am glad to participate with so many other bloggers.

The prompt naught/knot/not was a cool one, if I do say so myself. I read it and just had to give it a try.

Excellent choice Linda.

This most imperfect of first stream of consciousness contributions of mine is a poem, if I do say so myself, and that’s what’s funny about both poetry and stream of consciousness writing is that I usually don’t consider myself a poet.

It is not my kind of writing, most times. It’s when I am not planning, just like stream of consciousness writing itself, that the rare poem from inside me shows itself.

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Fiction Friday, Memoir and Reflections, TGIF, Writing

Truth Or Fiction: Which One Is Stranger?

About a year ago I wrote the beginning of a story I had wanted to explore for a long time.

Fiction Friday: An Old Woman’s Regret

I called it this because I was attempting to establish Fridays, on my new blog at the time, as the days when I would try writing fiction. This was opposed to Mondays when I thought memoir would be the thing to write.

Well, let’s just say that a lot has changed and this blog has developed and evolved since I wrote that, but I have still not been able to figure something out…

I know there’s a lot of truth in fiction. It can’t be helped. Fiction is all things made up, or is it?

**“This proverbial saying is attributed to, and most certainly coined by, Lord Byron, in the satirical poem Don Juan , 1823:
‘ Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction;
if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange! How differently the world would men behold! How oft would vice and virtue places change! The new world would be nothing to the old, if some Columbus of the moral seas would show mankind their soul’ antipodes.”**

I won’t lie and say that there is no truth in that story I began to write. Anyone who knows me well, specifically family members, they could tell this right away.

The woman in the story is a clear reference to someone in my own life. I got my inspiration from her. Isn’t that where many story ideas start?

Well, it is for me.

As much as I love writing memoir, there is something about fiction that can’t be compared.

As I say on my About Me page on my blog, fiction gives a freedom that memoir does not, but that does not make me feel a whole lot better.

I guess I’ve just never been someone who can come up with totally imaginary worlds and populate them with completely created characters.

My ideas start from somewhere real and true, but this crosses the line that sometimes happens in writing.

This brings out my fears every single time I write something. I hate the thought that someone somewhere might read and be offended, seeing something in my words, real or imagined, that they believe is about them.

I know all those disclaimers on television shows, in movies, and in books that says any resemblance to real persons, places, or events is unintentional.

This is to protect people, but we are talking my own writing here.

I write to help me figure things out, how to put my life in perspective, and to bring clarity where their was only chaos.

This all goes on in my mind most of the time, but it comes out on the page/screen.

I tried, for many years, to not write and to not rock the boat. I hid from any possible rejection or criticism I feared writing might bring me.

this was unbearable and stifling.

Now here I am. I am hardly in any sort of Oprah and “A Million Little Pieces” scenario:

Author Is Kicked Out of Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club

:-)

Do you remember that whole situation?

But I find it a curious thing.

Now here I am again and have been attempting to confront this fear. I shouldn’t feel bad for expressing myself, if my conscience is really clear.

I am proud of what I write and anything that has come of that is done without malice, but I realize I can’t really worry about what others might think.

Yeah, when I figure out how to completely not worry about that, I will let you know here.

I have not written any conjoining parts to the story I began from above.

I would love to tell even a version of that old woman’s story, but am not sure I can do that.

I have experienced things recently, heartbreaking instances of harsh reality, for those I love. I can’t quite do anything, at this time, to hurt them, whether they think so or not.

I think it is an extremely interesting issue. What do you think?

Authors and writers and people who read.

How much of what you write, as far as fiction goes, is completely made up and how much of it comes from your own real life?

It brings back the notion of how truth truly can be stranger than fiction, but both have their place.

Hmmm.

All this talk makes me want to see one of my favourite movies, Stranger Than Fiction, again.

If you have not seen this particular film yet, go and check it out. It’s a will Ferrell classic and one of his best performances…not to mention the ones given by the rest of the cast: Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. .

Also, as a fan of literature, I just think it’s a really cool storyline.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

**Referenced in above article:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/truth-is-stranger-than-fiction.html

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, History, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Special Occasions, This Day In Literature

What Do Gloria Steinem and J.r.r. Tolkien Have In Common?

What do one of the leading women in the feminist movement and the father of fantasy have in common?

I wrote a post, when I was still new to blogging, about Tolkien Reading Day. I didn’t even know how to space out my writing effectively at the time, but I was certainly passionate about the subject matter.

Instead of writing about this day from a purely new perspective, it’s one year later and I am sick and don’t think I exactly have the energy to come up with a whole new piece of thoughtful writing, without repeating myself.

Here

is the original post.

My brother and I are attempting to read Lord of the Rings together, like we once did with Harry Potter. We like to read out loud, in braille, but it’s taking us a while. It’s such a large and long book and we only read when we see each other.

He is busy finishing up his first year of audio engineering and doesn’t exactly have much time for leisure activities such as reading. We should make it through Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King by the year 2020 or later.

:-)

Also, another cause important to me is worth highlighting today.

I was not able to secure an interview with Gloria Steinem herself, but I did come close with the next best thing really.

Check the interview out…

Here.

Happy Birthday Gloria.

And now I am off to read some Riddles in the Dark.

What do either Steinem or Tolkien mean to you, if anything?

I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Come on…give me something to do to get through this nasty cold.

:-)

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Happy Hump Day, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections

Microwave Popcorn For Dinner It Is

There is one area I haven’t written a lot about here: love and dating.

I have spoken a bit, but have honestly been a little apprehensive about going too deeply into those issues, this past year or so.

It is a difficult subject for me still. I don’t know what I should or should not say and am afraid to say too much. Some things should remain private and need to be handled carefully.

I always try to think before I post here, if I can help it.

I have to say that the last time I suddenly became single I was absolutely excited for the possibilities. I was willing to take it one day at a time and explore my options. I felt good about my status as a single woman.

Not so much this time around.

I have found it difficult to simply get passed my history and the last few years of my life. For the first time, in nearly three years, I became single once more and I felt lost and adrift.

I am dating, begrudgingly now. It didn’t happen overnight and I am still unsure of what it is I want or what I’m doing.

It’s weird to have gone on an actual date again, for the first time.

I was back to the beginning again. I felt as anxious as anyone might. I was glad I took that step and met someone again, whether anything came of it at all. At least I finally took the plunge.

Back in the game, isn’t that what they say?

I don’t feel like playing any games. I try to focus on myself, but some things are inevitable, leading you places you didn’t necessarily want to go, even a few weeks ago. I’m still not sure I want to.

I am back to feeling like there is something wrong with me, if the guy I met never called me again. In reality, people like who they like and are attracted to who they are attracted to. It can’t be helped or even explained.

I understand because I have had to make those choices for myself as well. You must do what is right for you.

Those self-conscious feelings and thoughts are totally normal.

Why wasn’t I enough?

What didn’t they like about me?

I’ve decided I do not like dating in my thirties, not one bit.

It’s all so surreal. The age of technology and texting.

Tinder is the next big thing in the dating world of App’s. This, unfortunately, counts me out.

And I recently heard there is a charge for anyone over thirty who uses it. Can you say agism?

What a rip-off!

Swipe swipe.

Swipe left for not interested and swipe right for yes. If you receive a right-swipe back, you’ve got a match.

I’ll admit, I have enjoyed watching Conan’s bits where he signs up for Tinder and alike, but that’s all in fun.

My own dating story is a lot more sober and sombre.

I guess I have been rather unsure of late, with a story I saw on the news a few weeks back.

WOMAN RAPED BY GUY SHE MET ON ONLINE DATING WEBSITE …

Of course this could happen to anyone at any time, but it left me hesitant and I think that showed in my attitude on my recent meeting. I probably didn’t seem all that comfortable, letting the news story or simply my own state of mind intrude somewhat on our conversation.

Subconsciously, I did not show up fully in…and open to the experience.

I told myself I didn’t need to wear makeup. That’s not what I am really like in my day to day life, I told myself. Why should I be anything other than who I am?

If they don’t like it, their loss.

This, generally, is not a blog on dating, the trials and tribulations of the act of finding a match.

I just don’t know what might be getting in my way, tripping me up. I feel like I am stuck in dating and romance quicksand. I can’t go back and I am paralyzed, unable to truly move forward.

I am so very sick of dwelling on the past and terrified of the future.

The present is all I’ve got, as much as I am a planner who wants to know what to expect and what’s to come.

That sand has me stuck well and good though, I must say.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMPEd8m79Hw

So are you the one?

Not necessarily the one one, but someone I could care about?

Maybe this time or maybe not. Maybe the next?

That’s what’s supposed to be exciting about it, right?

Because you can just never predict…

But until then: I guess it’s back to nothing for dinner, a piece of fruit, or the always-reliable microwave popcorn of my youth.

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