Life, Love

Keep This Love in a Photograph…

 

Loving can hurt
Loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard
You know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive

~ ED SHEERAN (Photograph)

Love is such a powerful yet fragile thing… a conundrum, really. It’s a bullet with butterfly wings. In Photograph, Ed Sheeran sings about the perfection of the photograph—the happy moments caught forever in a snapshot—and he kind of implies that we never see the other parts of love in that photo, the parts that hurt and scar and tear you to ribbons. The ugly parts.

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
Times forever frozen still

~ ED SHEERAN (Photograph)

Our hearts are never broken in the photographs we take, because photographs are for the happy times… the minutiae moments in between the hard and trying bits. We will never hear someone say, “Hold those tears! This is a Kodak moment.”

The photograph memory is a bit like the Facebook phenomenon wherein you display your happy self to the world and keep the shit to yourself. Everyone then sees one side of you and thinks, ‘Damn…he/she/they is/are so lucky!’ Only they don’t see the fractures that are slowly pulling you apart. Because Facebook = Happy Moments. It creates a vicious cycle of envy, jealousy, and falsehoods. It’s not real life. Real life isn’t only the photographs and it isn’t only the happy Facebook status updates. It’s also comprised of those unsnapped moments, the ones we don’t keep for posterity.

I began writing this blog post some two weeks ago, but I had no idea where I was going with it. So, I kept it in my Draft folder. Now I can use it.

Sometimes–without the photographs to remind us–we only remember the bad parts. We keep this love in a photograph. There’s a reason why the good stages of love can be found in that instantaneous snapshot. It’s there to jar your memory when you’re living in the dark stages of love. If you don’t pull out those photographs to remind you…you may think that all is lost. But sometimes, it isn’t.

I said goodbye to my mother last Tuesday (April 26th, 2016). Before seeing the photographs kept, I believed fully that all was lost. For good.

I sense that Ed Sheeran’s song is about lovers, but I think with just the odd tweak it can definitely apply to anyone. Love is, after all, universal.

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket
Of your ripped jeans
Holdin’ me closer
‘Til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone
Wait for me to come home

In the end, my mother did wait for me to come home. She waited for me and my baby brother to come home to her. We made the 14 hour trip in 12 hours. She woke up and had one last lucid period. In it, she said, “I did it” (meaning she made it…she waited for us just as she said she would two days earlier). She had her husband and her four boys at her side…exactly how she would have wanted it. I can’t and won’t sugar-coat things. I didn’t know that was how she would have wanted it until the time had come and I was actually there. I had always imagined that she’d be happier if I wasn’t there…if she had only her three boys and her husband with her.

I had forgotten to look at the photographs. We keep this love in a photographWhere our eyes are never closing, Hearts are never broken—Times forever frozen still. I focused only on the bad parts of love, the ones we don’t photograph. The ones we ALL have. I imagined my wounds to be terminal. And in my imagining, I had lost so much.

But there is a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…a time to tear and a time to mend…a time to be silent and a time to speak

Hearts are never broken.

 

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My Mom, Manny (1970), Me (1966), David (1965), and my Dad… (This is circa early 1971. My baby brother, George, came along in 1972.) I would give anything for those pants! We keep this love in a photograph…
US
US – At Geordy’s wedding… WAIT FOR ME TO COME HOME…
Beauty, Death, Life, Love

One Step Closer to the Death I Will Become – My Autumn is Upon Me

edwardtoys
Simple Beauty – A boy and his menagerie

As summer turns to fall, I enter a period of deep reflection. It has always been this way. Even before I discovered Robert Frost’s NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY, I had a deep appreciation for the importance of the time between summer and fall. It is that drop in the life-cycle of a calendar square…when dawn goes down to day…that pulls at my heartstrings. And as day seeps away into the gloaming…that is the time when I want to scream, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Look at me. Most people mix metaphors. Me? I mix poets and their poems. I’m just feeling so verklempt of late. I smell the changing seasons. I see these brushstrokes of hot orange and burnt sienna and mustard yellow in the trees about me and I ache inside. Now, more than ever. Because I know now that somewhere inside of me I am slowly turning to these colours myself. I have entered my own gloaming. And, yet, what have I done. I also continually imagine Jim Morrison screaming at me, “Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?”

Probably, Jim. Maybe. I don’t know, Jim. Maybe not. Leave me alone, Jim.

The gloaming...as beautiful as it is heartrending. The end of the day...
The gloaming…as beautiful as it is heartrending. The end of the day…

And then, don’t even get me started, I think of that song from Rent. Oh, you know the one…don’t pretend you don’t. Seasons of Love. Because…

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, how do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee…in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, how do you measure, a year in the life?

The mornings are a bit crisper, a bit more dewy. The sun often feels brighter this time of year…more piercing, just as it feels less heat-filled. Its glare seems more honest in September and October than it did in July. The year is winding down, and it is fighting against the inevitable…because the year is happy to be alive. And it gets happier the closer it gets to its own demise. As though it can feel the forever nap it is about to embark upon…and it rebels in the only way it knows how. It blows up into a miracle of colour and light.

Just to float on the sea, find myself on a page of history...
Just to float on the sea,
find myself on a page of history…

“I am here! This is me! I AM.”

Don’t you…forget about me.

60366d7b4efa8da92aa3eb136d89e14cAnd the year, it is so desperate not to die. It holds a ghetto-blaster up in the air and it says, “Take me as I am…do not forsake me. I will love you, if only you will let me stay here…in your life…in your love.”

And the year that is slowly dying…it plays for us a song to keep our attention. To justify its staying when it knows it cannot. It tries to tempt and trick the heart. “I can stay,” the year says, “if you love me enough.”

Love I get so lost, sometimes…days pass and this emptiness fills my heart…when I want to run away…I drive off in my car…but whichever way I go…I come back to the place you are.

cusakHow do we authenticate our lives? As the leaves burst into colour–and then later dry out and abandon all hope and wither to the ground–we too are changing. We may not know when, or why, or how, or where we die. But we all walk that Eventual Eventual. If we don’t contemplate our journey while taking it, what’s the point?
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make...
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make…
There is only one thing that matters. LOVE. The rest fades to black, as we ourselves do. The history of us eventually fades…but the love? Imagine love as a virus. It carries from one person to another and another and another. It is the one thing that doesn’t truly die with us.
Look for miracles...they are everywhere...
Look for miracles…they are everywhere…
As leaves gather around your feet this autumn, remember that you will not be spared this great equalizing season. You are witness to the autumn around you just as autumn begins inside you. And when winter comes, be ready…at least in your heart. Let the things that do not matter fall away. It’s the only way you’ll gain ground for more love to enter.
Love - It's guilt edged Glamorous and sleek by design...
Love – It’s guilt edged
Glamorous and sleek by design…
As the last leaves fall, you will scream NOT YET, NOT YET, NOT YET! But you know…as sure as you live and breathe, you know!
To everything…turn, turn, turn…there is a season…turn, turn, turn…and a time for every purpose under Heaven…a time to be born, a time to die…

Ponder your life. Forgive. Let go. Heal. And when you’re ready to shuffle off this mortal coil, remember one thing, my lovelies…DO IT TO THE BEAT OF LOVE and DO IT IN DANCE…

Do not go gentle into that good night – Dylan Thomas, 19141953

Nothing Gold Can Stay – Robert Frost, 18741963

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.

This time of year. It always makes me a little bit more insane. And sad. And happy…gloriously happy. I will not go gently into this coming autumn.

Life, Writing Life

A Year in the Life – Things to Come and This Too Shall Pass…

“Another year older, and a new one just begun…” ~ So sang John Lennon in Happy Christmas (War is Over)

2015 hasn’t begun yet, but it’s just a sneeze away. With another year under our belts, we sometimes can’t help but reflect. All the New Year cliches come out of the woodwork. We either stay away from, or join, the nearest gym. We think about all the things we accomplished in the year that is ending, and all the things we failed to do. We think about all the things we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year, all the things we know we will miss out on.

It’s just that time of year.

2014 was my year of travel. I will probably never travel as much in one year as I did in 2014. I did British Columbia, Spain, Paris, New York, Quebec City and Orlando, Florida. Capped it all off with a swing-by of Stratford, Ontario this past weekend. (-:

The Vast Camino is filled with Places of Wonder!
The Vast Camino is filled with Places of Wonder!

I made many new friends and experienced too many phenomenal things to list here. I grew through walking across Spain on the trail to Camino De Santiago. I walked up mountains and down mountains and through mountains.

"Captain, My Captain!" ~ Sue Kenney, Pilgrim Guide to The Camino
“Captain, My Captain!” ~ Sue Kenney, Pilgrim Guide to The Camino

I stopped to smell the flowers, to laugh, to cry, to make amends. I stumbled barefoot through mud and rocks and grass. I had a picnic like never a picnic was ever had before, or ever will be had again…at the apex of a beautiful hill, in tall grass with friends–fellow peregrinos.

To the Top of the World! Somewhere in Spain, on the Camino...
To the Top of the World! Somewhere in Spain, on the Camino…
A Picnic in Paradise - May, 2014. Spain
A Picnic in Paradise – May, 2014. Spain

I met a man I hardly shared words with, but who made me weep like a baby, a pilgrim from France who had found more than he had ever bargained for on the Camino…the love of a million pilgrims and one. He was that special.

A Peregrino from France Who Changed the Lives of All He Touched on The Camino...
A Peregrino from France Who Changed the Lives of All He Touched on The Camino…

I shouted into the rain and walked through snow. And at the end of the long journey, I walked into a city more beautiful than any emerald one could ever be. And, by some stroke of magic, I saw all those I had met along the way. I stood on the roof of THE Cathedral and viewed that beautiful city in 360 degree splendor from that holiest of lofty places.

The View NOT of the Cathedral of Camino de Santiago, but FROM Atop it!
The View NOT of the Cathedral of Camino de Santiago, but FROM Atop it!

I walked the quiet morning back-roads of Galiano Island with the wild wind at my back and the Pacific Ocean at my side.

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Morning Stroll on Galiano…
In British Columbia, the Sun Explodes Both IN and OUT of the Day...
In British Columbia, the Sun Explodes Both IN and OUT of the Day…

I saw Canadian flags wave greetings from boats in a tiny harbour there, while the Canadian Rockies in the background swallowed up anything else in my view.

The Galiano Inn - Home to the Annual Galiano Literary Festival
The Galiano Inn – Home to the Annual Galiano Literary Festival

I stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower and scanned a city heretofore a mere dream to me…a fantasyland where Fitzgerald and Hemingway wined and dined and wrote and sang and lived. Never did Paris mean more to me than that, until I was there. It opens anew to each visitor, presents a unique place in the heart of each guest. I stomped up the Champs-Élysées with my new friend, Nina, and together we took on the endless spiral staircase inside the Arc de Triomphe and we stood at the top exhausted and filled with light and love and we smiled on the fair city that stretched out in fingers away from the tower.

Me and my new friend NINA, fellow LBWR registrant, atop the Arc de Triomphe!
Me and my new friend NINA, fellow LBWR registrant, atop the Arc de Triomphe!

Together we walked the Tuileries, and sat for mayhaps a little too long sipping red wine while the sun went down and the rats in the bushes beside us scurried.

20140620_225917-MOTIONWe drank absinthe at a lovely little outdoor cafe, where we admired shoes and broke glasses and laughed until we were sore…nay, until we soared! With our group, THE LEFT BANK WRITERS RETREAT, we wandered museums, we took the Metro, we walked Montmartre, we wrote in Le Jardin de Luxembourg, we entered the great WORD CATHEDRAL—SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY. We entered Shakespeare & Company! After decades of imagining it.

Shakespeare & Company - Where words breathe
Shakespeare & Company – Where words breathe

I don’t care that I am running on and on, for with each word comes another remembrance. My year. My year!

CHARLIE. And CHARLIE. AND CHARLIE. CHARLIE! In the midst of it all was born a beautiful boy. Little Charlie Bucket, who will one day know what that means.

I leave you with this year's most precious new arrival...
CHARLIE THOMAS – Boy Wonder! Little Brother to EDWARD JACOB, the Wonder who came before him!

What it’s like to step inside Notre Dame Cathedral when it’s empty at eight in the morning (mark that down! At ten, the lines are so long you could die before entering!) is something that will stay with me for ever. It is a simultaneous feeling of being infinite and of being nothing at all. And to think, I stayed only a couple of minutes up the road from that most famous of cathedrals…the centre point of the old universe itself.

Notre Dame Cathedral in the Morning!
Notre Dame Cathedral in the Morning!

Later, I stood atop Rockefeller and looked down at the most famous park in the world and wondered at its vastness and its nothingness. A green thick and wild and in the centre of one of the world’s most thriving and populated meccas.

I recall Central Park in fall...How you tore your dress, what a mess...
I recall Central Park in fall…How you tore your dress, what a mess…

And the lady of the harbour, I saw her too.

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And to walk the streets of Old Quebec City after wandering the streets of Paris is to know the connection. plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Quebec City Streets - A Whisper of Paris
Quebec City Streets – A Whisper of Paris

An ocean between the two places, and a hint of the struggle that came with building the second in the shadow of the first.

New and Old meet - Quebec City...the Wall
New and Old meet – Quebec City…the Wall

Each beautiful, each unique. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Everyone is a Child in the Magic Kingdom! DISNEY ORLANDO...a MUST!
Everyone is a Child in the Magic Kingdom! DISNEY ORLANDO…a MUST!

OOH! Disney and Universal in Orlando. Something MAGIC this way comes!

Old Friends from Long Ago...
Old Friends from Long Ago…
Dr. Seuss is the reason I write. I had to meet The Cat in the Hat while at Universal in Orlando! (-:
Dr. Seuss is the reason I write. I had to meet The Cat in the Hat while at Universal in Orlando! (-:

I’m another year older, yes. But I’m also so much younger. I have learned a great deal in 2014. I am grateful for every new soul in my life. Each and every one of you!

I thought I would write a few words about my year and move on to Things to Come. Sorry…that just came out of its own accord.

So on with THINGS TO COME. What will 2015 have in store for me.

On January 19th, my 5th novel will be released! HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN won the Muskoka Novel Marathon‘s BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD! Now, it’s going to be available to all to read. It’s actually already available for pre-order at Amazon:

51OeS9ITAHL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-46,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_And don’t look for me come mid-March, for I will be in CHINA & HONG KONG…until April. (-:

What of THIS TOO SHALL PASS, you ask? This was something I always promised myself of all the bad things. And now it is something I realize happens also with all the good. So—grab onto every single moment you have. Every single one. Hold on for dear life and enjoy the ride. Whether it is good or bad, it is fleeting. This too shall pass…

Left Bank Writers Retreat, Life, Paris, Travel, Writing Life

Leftbank Writers Retreat – THE Perfect Christmas Gift for the Writer on Your List! Or Treat YOURSELF!

It’s DECEMBER. Some of us are finished our Christmas shopping. Others will start it on the 24th. I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to Christmas gift shopping. I have begun.

Have I got a gift idea for the writer on your list! 🙂

As some of you may know, I went to Paris in June of this year. It wasn’t an ordinary Paris trip, though. I went for a writing workshop. As a HUGE fan of Ernest Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST, I always had the desire not only to see Paris…but to see it in the footsteps of Hemingway. I Googled Hemingway’s Paris writing retreat about a year ago. As is often the case, Google struck gold. On the first page of my search, LEFT BANK WRITERS RETREAT IN PARIS came up. I knew within a minute of clicking on the website that I had found what I was looking for.

The Beautiful Luxembourg Gardens, where writers on the retreat spend their mornings writing and listening and breathing in the beauty that is Paris...
The Beautiful Luxembourg Gardens, where writers on the retreat spend their mornings writing and listening and breathing in the beauty that is Paris…

I saw Hemingway’s Paris, I wrote in the Tuileries and in the Luxembourg Gardens, I saw the city from atop the Eiffel Tower, I wandered museums, I strolled down the Champs-Élysées, and I climbed the great spiral staircase to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. I did it all.

In this unique writing retreat, writers have the opportunity to explore Paris on their own during the evening. There is nothing more beautiful than walking the streets of Paris while the sun is setting! Doing so after a full day of living the writing life is even more extraordinary!
In this unique writing retreat, writers have the opportunity to explore Paris on their own during the evening. There is nothing more beautiful than walking the streets of Paris while the sun is setting! Doing so after a full day of living the writing life is even more extraordinary!

The retreat is perfect for first time visitors to Paris, as well as those returning to the city of love and light. For first timers, not only will you be taken through Hemingway’s Paris in the embrace of tour organizer Darla Worden and her amazing faculty Sarah Sazur and Travis Cebula during the day, but you will also have the nights to explore Paris on your own. And all three faculty members are amazingly knowledgeable on all things Paris…and extremely helpful at making suggestions and offering directions, etc. I never once felt abandoned during my stay. It was wonderful to have the evenings to ourselves after our days of writing and museum hoping and neighbourhood visiting. And there was always someone from the group to share the evening experiences with.

paris2
Left Bank Writers Retreat Founder Darla Worden, Faculty Member Travis Cebula, and 2014 Alum Nina Welsh. Writing and Learning in the Luxembourg Gardens!

If you are a writer, now is the time to spoil yourself for Christmas! The Left Bank Writers Retreat is currently offering a discount! So treat yourself while the deal is on. You will NOT regret it. I loved it so much, I plan to attend this retreat again in the future.

The Left Bank Writers Retreat faculty take writers to these magical steps, where Gil was whisked off into the 1920s in the movie Midnight In Paris!
The Left Bank Writers Retreat faculty take writers to these magical steps, where Gil was whisked off into the 1920s in the movie Midnight In Paris!

If you have a loved one who is a writer, this is the perfect Christmas gift for them. I promise you, they will love this enriching experience in the city of love and light. Paris changes you. Paris through the wonder of the Left Bank Writers Retreat, done in the shadow of Ernest Hemingway, changes you on an even deeper level. Give the gift that will give back to the writer in your life for years to come.

As writers on the loose in the evenings of Paris, you could visit the Louvre! If you walk straight from the pyramid, through the Tuileries beyond, you will find yourself strolling on the Champs-Elysees. This will eventually take you to the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, where you can walk to the top and view the city in all its splendour!
As writers on the loose in the evenings of Paris, you could visit the Louvre! If you walk straight from the pyramid, through the Tuileries beyond, you will find yourself strolling on the Champs-Elysees. This will eventually take you to the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, where you can walk to the top and view the city in all its splendour!

Here’s a media release from the retreat:

Forget the fancy pens and notebooks. This year’s best holiday gift for writers is six days at the Left Bank Writers Retreat, a small-group summer writing workshop held in Paris each summer. A $200 discount on registration for this year’s retreat, to be held June 14-19, 2015 – on any registration made by January 1, 2015 – makes the deal sweeter for gift givers.

The discounted price of the six-day Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris is $1,799 (regularly $1,999) and includes morning writing sessions, coaching and one-on-one time with the instructor for a maximum of eight writers, as well as lunch each day, admission to museums and area sights, an excursion to Montmartre, a picnic on the banks of the Seine and a literary tour visiting many of the sites featured in the Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris.”

“I’ve heard many stories at the retreat from women and men who received the retreat as a gift,” says retreat founder and CAL member Darla Worden. “It is definitely a gift that keeps on giving – writers leave the retreat with newfound inspiration found in Paris.”

The retreat welcomes fiction and memoir writers, poets and playwrights. A place in the 2015 retreat can be held with a $500 deposit.

What trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. The Left Bank Writers Retreat included a boat ride down the Seine where we viewed the Tower from the river. Later, on our own, a fellow alum and myself made our way to the tower for our own personal exploration up close and atop!
What trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. The Left Bank Writers Retreat included a boat ride down the Seine where we viewed the Tower from the river. Later, on our own, a fellow alum and myself made our way to the tower for our own personal exploration up close and atop!

Put yourself, or your loved one, in the hands of the best Paris tour guides you will ever meet. Darla, Sarah and Travis are AMAZING! They gave me a gift I will never forget. Ernest Hemingway once said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

I have changed this slightly after being fortunate enough to have experienced the Left Bank Writers Retreat. “If you are lucky enough to have experienced the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for the Left Bank Writers Retreat is a moveable feast.”

Give the writer on your list a gift that will last forever. Give them Darla. And Sarah. And Travis. Give them Hemingway’s Paris!

Darla Worden, Sarah Suzor, and Travis Cebula --- collectively, the magic behind the Left Bank Writers Retreat!
Darla Worden, Sarah Suzor, and Travis Cebula — collectively, the magic behind the Left Bank Writers Retreat!