100 Moments of Gratitude

Centenarian birthday candles spell out '100'

WordPress is telling me that this is my 100th post.  In almost five years, I’ve managed to sit down and write something on this blog 10o times.  For some people, that won’t seem like a lot. But for me, it is.  It could have been more.  It could have been less.  But I made it to 100.  Each word I put down here has been one less word, one less worry, one less burden to carry on my own.  Here, I can lay them down and let them be.  I can come back to them if I need to, but the words, the worries, the burdens, aren’t mine to carry alone anymore.

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You wanna be startin’ somethin’


Since graduating from university 12 years ago, I’ve had six unique jobs in four different industries.  And I’ve loved them all for their own reasons.  All this variety has limited my depth in each industry, but has given me a breadth and a set us transferrable skills that I know will continue to serve me well.

But, there has been something missing in all of these areas – art.  They all involved working with different people, working on different projects and stepping outside my comfort zone to some degree, but none of them involved art.  And don’t give me that blah blah “you can find art in anything” blah blah.  The industries were health care, banking, government and property management.  I found fun and learning in all of them, but not art.

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You look like an artist

Over my 35+ years, many people have graciously said all kinds of nice things to me.  Things like, “You look pretty today” or “I love your scarf” or, more recently, ” I really like your writing.”  That’s one of my favourites.  I also love, “Thank you for helping me”, not because I thrive on that acknowledgement, but because it is nice to know that I was there for someone when they needed it.  That means the world to me.

I don’t usually hold up a compliment for too long when I get one.  I usually savour it for a few sweet moments, then store them deep inside in a little gratitude box in my heart.  I don’t wear them loudly, but I never discard them either.  I go back to them when I need to, but usually they stay safely tucked away, never to be lost.

But there is one that keeps bubbling back up – one I can’t just tuck away.  It gives me a secret thrill every time.

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You should write about that

Oh, that damn writer’s block.

Sitting here, wondering what to say, trying to figure out what people will want to hear, trying to quiet the voices in my head to just one so I can focus and just get something – anything – down on paper.

They shouldn’t call it writer’s block.  They should call it writer’s-brick-wall-all-up-in-your-face, because that’s what it feels like.  Not like a block that can be easily moved, but like a brick wall that you can’t climb or can’t walk around or can’t bust through.  At least, that’s what it feels like for me.

And of course, looking for a way to bust through it would be the wise thing to do, especially for someone who wants to be a writer.  But when you’re faced with a blank page and an inky pen, or a blank screen with that damn tab flashing and flashing at you but not moving, it’s so much easier to retreat.  Few things are as intimidating as all that bright white with nothing on it.  I’ll think of something to write about later is always one of my favourite escape hatches. It’s all the permission I need to veg out in front of the tv, lose myself in a book, organize my desk for the seven thousandth time, or do myriad other things besides write.

And really – what to write?  I ask myself that same damn question every single day.  But the truth is, I know the answer.



Several months ago, I was at a party and got to chatting with the very cool Andy Walker, who is himself a speaker, author and prolific blogger.  Mostly about technology and web-related stuff (basically about stuff I don’t understand one bit) but a writer he is, and a good one at that.  I shared with him my struggles with writer’s brick wall, and his response: “You should write about that.”

He said that to me all night long.

Me: I hate yoga.

Andy: You should write about that.

Me: These cookies are delicious.

Andy: You should write about that.

Me: I don’t know what to write about.

Andy: You should write about that.

And finally, I got it.

Just write.

Write about anything.  Write about everything.  It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer Prize winning.  Hell, it doesn’t even have to be all that good.  The only way to bust through writer’s brick wall is to write.

And so it goes with everything in life.

Want to dance but just can’t muster it up?  Dance.

Want to cook but just can’t get your mojo going?  Start chopping.

Want to work out but can’t find the energy?  Go for a run.

To break through the barrier that is stopping you from doing what you want to do, just do what you want to do.  It’s so simple, it’s stupid.  But that really is the key.

Mr. Nike said it best:  Just Do It.

And so I do.  One day at a time.  One brick at a time.  There’s sunshine on the other side of that wall.  I know there is.

Just do it.

Worth the struggle

I’ve had a really bad habit my whole life that Stu called me on about a year ago.  He said, You never practice anything.  If you’re not good at it from the get-go, you don’t do it.  You know, people practice things.  They struggle and work for what they want.  You don’t.  If you have to work for it, you won’t do it.  

And he was right.  I’ve been so damn lazy – persistence and perseverance have not been my strong suits.

I could write, so I wrote.  I could sing, so I sang.  I could play instruments, so I did.  But I didn’t draw.  I didn’t paint.  I could do hoop tricks but I couldn’t dance like I wanted to.  I didn’t practice the dancing.  I just hung up the hoop.  I’ve done this so many times.

And now I have all this breastfeeding DRAMA.  And lordy lord, it’s HARD.  I’m not feeding her from my breast anymore. I pump the milk, and she gets it from a bottle, and it’s a whole big hassle, really.  Maybe I shouldn’t say that feeding my baby is a hassle, but this is.  It would be easier if I could just feed her from my breast, but I can’t.  It would also be easier if she was solely formula-fed, but she’s not.  So I pump the milk and wash the dishes and manage the bottles and measure and warm and pump and wash and oy vey it’s hard.

Of course, this begs the question, why not just formula-feed her?  She has been almost exclusively breast-fed for over five months.  She’s fine.  And yes, she is.  But this is important to me.  In all the baby stuff that has inundated my life, this is the most important to me.  She can wear cheap onesies.  She doesn’t need expensive Pampers.  If I get my way, her favourite toy will be a pot and a wooden spoon.  But for now, as long as I’m still making milk, she’s gonna get it, dammit. So I do this whole rigamarole.  And it’s a struggle.

I was complaining about it all to Stu the other day, and he pointed out that the reason it’s so hard is because I’m not used to struggling.  I’m not used to working for things, or working at things, or things being difficult and having to work through them.  This is the first thing I can remember in a long time that I’ve really worked for.  This is the first thing that I haven’t just been lazy about.

And I’m doing it.  It’s a struggle, and it’s a hassle every day, but I’m doing it.

I wonder what else I could do if I put in a little effort into it.  Maybe I could draw after all.  Maybe I could dance.  Maybe I could write for a living…

My practice to develop my practice.

So it’s Day 5 of November, and that means Day 5 of NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month.

I’ve tried this before, and have been unsuccessful.  But this is a new year, a new November, and I’m at it again.

I know several people who are attempting NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month, and I admire their insanity.  50,000 words in a month?  That’s almost 1700 words a day.  (Thank you Dashboard calculator.)  I’m lucky if I can get 500, so I really admire those who are going full-on.  But if I can do 30 posts in 30 days, it will be more writing in one month than I’ve ever done in any month before, and I will consider it a great accomplishment.

Writing is something I have always struggled with.  I haven’t struggled with actually writing – there are always words, and sometimes, they’re even strung together well.  But I’ve struggled with the practice of writing.

And a practice it is.  Or should be.  As with anything else one wants to do well in life, consistency is the key.  And that’s what I’ve been missing.  I’ve not had that in my writing, or in too many other areas of my life.

But 30 days would be consistent.  If it takes 21 days to form a habit, what can I form in 30?  I’m aiming for a practice.

So this is my practice to develop my practice.

There are several things I have implemented to do this, but the most important one is to turn the tv off.

These days, after Amira goes to bed, it is so easy to zone out in front of the tv for a couple of hours before going to bed.  The days are long, and I’m always so tired.  But the simple act of turning the tv off is such a freedom – all of a sudden, there is time to do other things!  The energy to do them is another story, but that’s where having a practice comes in.  And I’m not doing an Ironman Triathalon here, I’m writing a blog post.  I can summon the energy to do this.

And I want to.  I truly want to.  I know what comes with a diligent, consistent practice.  Improvement.  And I’m looking for that more than anything.

And so it’s Day 5.  And I write.

Be –> Do –> Have

A couple of years ago, I took a self-development class that introduced me to the concept that people live their lives with a Have –> Do –> Be mentality.  This idea really hit home for me.  I saw in this simple concept the way I had approached writing my whole life.

When I HAVE the right desk, I will WRITE (DO), and then I will BE a writer.

When I HAVE the right computer, I will WRITE, and then I will BE a writer.

When I HAVE the time, I will WRITE, and then I will BE a writer.

When I HAVE the life of a writer, I will WRITE, then I will BE a writer.

And it wasn’t always about writing.  It also meant:

When I have no more fear, I will share my music, and then I will be a musician.

When I have some inspiration/time/ideas/whatever, I will do that thing I want to do (sing/write/dance/etc) and then I will be what I want to be (musician/writer/dancer/artist/happy…)

I spent my whole life waiting for inspiration to strike and fear to dissipate.  I thought when those things had been achieved, I would do what I always wanted to do, and be what I always wanted to be.

But in that class, I got clear that you be who you want to be, do the things that person does, and then have the life you want.  Not the other way around.  It was time to stop waiting for time/inclination/inspiration, and just be.  And do.  And then I would have.

So now I’m not waiting to have a writer’s life to write.

I am a writer.  So I write.  And that’s what gives me a writer’s life.

I am a musician.  So I write and play music.  And I have a musician’s life.

I’m not waiting around for inspiration to strike and lead me to the life I want anymore.  This concept gave me the access to design the life I want, not wait for the life I want to happen to me.  Artistry and joy and freedom are not dependant on outside influences or resources.  It’s all at my fingertips.  It’s not what I have, it’s who I be.  It’s up to me.

It’s not Have –> Do –> Be.

It’s Be –> Do –> Have.

BE who you want to be.  DO what you want to do.  HAVE the life you’ve always dreamed.