Let social media inspire you

I see this in my daughter, and it scares me to think it might one day disappear. She has an unbridled enthusiasm for life and for experiences, and as much as it drives me batty some days, it’s pure and it’s innocent and it’s amazing.

Ages ago she started asking me if I would do whatever with her — be it craft, play, do a puzzle, read to her, whatever. It was the addition of “with me” that I found hard to resist; it was specific to her, it meant she wanted me to do something with her, not just in general, and so I had to give in.

Now, it’s evolved to “want to do something fun with me”, or go someplace fun — it’s more open-ended, and it falls on me to come up with options for her to accept or reject. Just like everyone else in this household, but that’s another matter.

She creates constantly, though rarely actually on paper. She’s always talking, and it used to be she was sometimes retelling what she remembered of plots from television shows she’d seen. Then it became her telling very simple stories — mostly two or three characters telling each other to come visit and where they were standing (“I’m up here” / “there you are!”).

Now? Now it’s a never-ending narrative that includes characters and ideas and plans and visits. There are people and there are mystical characters, there are ideas and plans that could happen and others that can never be. But if you asked her what she thought about or was talking about or what her story was about, she probably wouldn’t be able to tell you — it’s not a story, it’s just what she’s experiencing.

I had a memory book when I was little where I would store keepsakes and write about who my teachers were, what my signature looked like, and what I wanted to be when I grew up. Without fail, I wanted to be a writer, and to some extent I achieved that (though I’m still working towards becoming the kind of writer I want and wanted to be). I can only hope that whatever she wants to be and what she becomes involves some element of creativity so she keeps this spark — really, this burning sphere — alive somehow.

(As an aside, she recently told me she wanted to be a mommy. I said that I was glad I made it look so glamorous, and asked if she wanted to look after babies. She said no and then said she wanted to be a grandma. Not yet four and she’s got things figured out.)

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A story in a single image

City at night

Once I finally learned how to drive, one of my favourite times to drive around was at night. When I worked downtown at the radio station, I enjoyed the challenge of leaving the core and timing it so that I just hit each light as it turned green, and I’d get frustrated with other drivers who would mess up my patterns by driving too slowly.

I remember driving around streets at night, in the rain, with flashes of silver in front of my headlights that I realised were frogs, and slowing down almost to a crawl to try to spare them.

I remember falling asleep in the middle of winter and having to rouse myself to drive back home at 4 a.m., hoping to get away without clearing the windshield but having to pull over because every time the streetlights hit, I went blind.

I think of the first time I drove out on the motorcycle to my now-husband’s house and wondering where the hell he actually lived, given I saw nothing but cornfields and drove on a poorly-maintained, single lane road.

I remember driving late into the night from our home to my grandparents’ home in New Brunswick, staring out the windows and listening to music after it became too dark for me to read. I tried to use the streetlights, but it didn’t work well, especially not along the highway.

I always trusted that my dad would get us there safely, and I think of moments like those when I drive my kids around now — that they will have their memories of driving with me, with us, in the dark, listening to music or talking to us, and always having complete faith that they would be safe with us behind the wheel, taking them to visit their grandparents or returning home.

One-word inspiration: LOVE

Once upon a time, I dated a fair amount. I dated guys I liked, guys I cared for, guys who hurt me or who I hurt, and in a few shining instances, guys I loved.

I still think about those guys on occasion, and what they’re doing now and what might’ve been. Not because I regret my life or how things have turned out, but just out of curiosity. I wonder if they think of me, and because I usually default to the worst case scenario, assume they don’t.

But in my experience, I have found dating love to be different than married love (or long-term love), which is different from the love I have for my cats, my family, and my children.

Before I started dating my now-husband, I always felt that my brain kept a placeholder for a garbage heap, and every time there was a fight or something was otherwise off in the relationship, a piece of garbage got added to that mental pile. And once things reached a certain point, then that was it, it was time to get out. Or if I’d met someone else who was more appealing and cleaner than my garbage-infested current paramour, then it was time to go. And of course it was always easier to leave when there was someone new and shiny waiting in the wings, even if I was mourning the loss of intimacy with the person I had loved prior.

Yet with my husband, that wasn’t ever the case. We fight, we argue, we disagree, we get on each other’s nerves, and in my lower moments I’ve definitely thrown or kicked things (when no one was around — this isn’t behaviour I’d want anyone else to witness), I’ve sworn, I’ve ranted… but there’s no garbage pile. I somehow suspected early on that this relationship was going to be one that lasted, even if I had no hint that he was going to mean that before we started dating.

And in the early days, that love was bright and shiny and exciting and all the things new love is. But of course that level of shiny isn’t sustainable long-term, and that’s good. Because where we are now is at a point where we just get to be ourselves, gross and normal as we both are. Because it is inherently comforting in not having to be embarrassed that you’ve been ill from something you ate. Or having someone pick up the slack when you’re too weak from gastro to do anything beyond sleep. Or have someone understand just by looking at you that you’ve had a stressful day.

There are many times he drives me crazy. But he balances me out and (un)fortunately for his sake, he gets to be the sane one when I’m spinning off in all directions and crying over whatever’s got me going in that moment. I read somewhere that a good relationship is two pillars leaning on one another — each one could stand on its own, but together they’re stronger, and that’s how I’ve always felt a relationship should be, and how ours is. We each bring our strengths to the table and mostly cover each other’s weaknesses. We’re both procrastinators and we both are kinda messy, but we could have worse habits.

We may not tell each other we love one another often (twice a year perhaps?), but we’re pretty good at treating each other with love and respect on a daily basis, which I think is more important overall. Words can be empty, and I’ve certainly said “I love you” and not meant it or not realized at the time I didn’t mean it, but actions are harder to fake.

(I was going to turn this into a segue about how the love I have for my kids is a horse of a different colour, race, and breed, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I wrote a piece in one of my own journals that I may share eventually about love and my kids and the phrase “I love you,” but it’ll keep for now.)

Things I Wish

  • That I could love my body.
  • That I could stop eating junk food to lose weight so I could love my body.
  • That my daughter doesn’t hate her body.
  • That my daughter never gets sexually assaulted.
  • That my daughter has the confidence to stand up for herself and that she dates people who respect that.
  • That my son becomes a man who will stand up to his friends if he sees them behaving in a way that would be disrespectful to others.
  • That both of my children become strong, successful, happy, and independent adults.
  • That I will have given my children the skills they need to be independent adults.
  • That I never become estranged from my children.
  • That my friends who are trying to have children succeed.
  • That I had better time management skills.
  • That I could make a living at creative pursuits.
  • That my husband worked fewer hours.
  • That I could turn off my brain more often.
  • That I had better self-esteem and more confidence.
  • That I didn’t second-guess myself all the time.
  • That I didn’t lose my temper with my kids.
  • That I had more time to read.
  • That I was better at not spending money.
  • That we lived in a slightly bigger house.
  • That the words “I wish” hadn’t lost all meaning as I kept writing it out.

I write because…

It helps me think through problems when I’m feeling messed up about something — whether it’s relationships, friendships, work stress, general life confusion, whatever — writing about it, even if I don’t resolve it, makes me calmer.

My mind is always spinning and writing helps me put it on a straight path. I think about conversations I’ve had and what I’m getting out of them later, or what I wished I’d said, or what I wished the other person(s) had said and what I might say later.

I love the written word and what I can do with it, what I can evoke, how I can communicate, how others can communicate with me. I love to break the rules of grammar to write in my own voice and try to capture how the phrases turn in my head and try to project them into someone else’s mind.

To connect with people. Nothing makes me happier than someone telling me they loved something I wrote or my writing in general. Okay, one thing makes me happier — when someone tells me something I wrote was exactly what they were thinking or how they felt about something. It makes me feel better to know that other people feel the same way I do about things, especially when it’s something I feel is an unpopular opinion.

Maybe one day I’ll write something that will become popular, will get me recognized or known, even if it’s just amongst a small group of people. I am in awe of the authors I follow and the amazing characters and worlds they’ve created, and I want to evoke that feeling in others.

When I write I feel like I’m unblocking something inside myself. I always feel more centered when I’m pursuing my creative hobbies, and writing does something for me that I don’t get from my other craft hobbies.

Writing is a part of who I am and who I’ve always been. I’m an introvert and sometimes I feel I have trouble connecting with people, but when I write, it doesn’t matter — it’s me and words and a screen or a piece of paper, and I don’t know if anyone will ever read it and that’s okay if they don’t.

Sometimes I have things I think and want to say to others but can’t. Or I feel a way about something that I can’t discuss with others, so I write about it to get it out of my head and free my brain to obsess or think about something else.

I love it.