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Monday, 28 October 2013

It's Only Words

One of the first things I did when I got my Blackberry Q10 in September, was download a couple of apps and a couple of games. I downloaded a Tim Horton's app, a TTC app, and a Cineplex Odeon app, as well as games of Chess, and Angry Birds. But, my favourite of the games I downloaded is called, Anagramy. As the name suggests, it's a word game. You have to find words in the seven letters you are given, including the word all seven letters make up. Oh, and the words can't be any shorter than three letters long. It's rare that I ever get all of the words in each game, and many times there are words that I would never have caught. Words like 'aphasia' and 'caducei'. 'Aphasia' is a fancy word for 'speech impediment' and a 'Caducei' is the medical staff that has those two snakes entwined around it.

Well, over the last month, my vocabulary has grown tremendously because of this little game I downloaded on a whim. I have a list of words that, prior to playing this free game, I'd never heard of. And, being a writer, words are important to me. Words are important to everyone; they are how we communicate in spoken and written formats.

The fact that this word game has given me words to broaden my vocabulary is awesome. Not only is it a great way to pass the time on a long subway ride or while waiting for the bus, it's a great learning tool. Who'd have thought?

Have you downloaded any apps or games that have been surprisingly helpful? What are your favourites?

Friday, 25 October 2013

It’s Fun Being a Guest

Last week, I mentioned that I was writing a guest post for a friend’s blog. Well, here it is! The Dabbler: Thoughts on Preparing for NaNoWriMo from Participant LadyofPangaea

Dianna is a fellow National Novel Writing Month participant. I have enjoyed some great laughs with her at write-in sessions around Toronto. Her blog is primarily on writing, and she’s got some great posts with some awesome tips. Check her out and subscribe to her newsletter.

And with NaNoWriMo only 6 days away, check out my preparation tips at her blog, as well as a post written by another fellow NaNoWriMo participant, and friend of mine, Bethlyn.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, why, and what is your story idea? If not, why? (But just know that you’re missing out on some awesome madness.)

Link to The Dabbler: The Dabbler

Friday, 18 October 2013

I'm Guest-Starring!

I was recently asked by a friend to write a guest blog. I’ve never been asked to do one of these before, so I’m pretty excited. The post itself has been written and sent to my friend, but is not yet up on her blog. When it is, I will link it here.

As a participant, and one year veteran, of National Novel Writing Month, I was asked to write a post on preparing for the amazing madness that happens every November worldwide. I am excited to be partaking in it again this year with my Toronto NaNo community (as well as some new writers) and I can’t wait for the insanity to begin.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

To Be Thankful

This weekend, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving. The Canadian Thanksgiving coincides with the harvest and it’s the time of year we (should) think about the things we are thankful for. It is a time when we should count our blessings and thank whichever deity we worship for the things we have. It’s the time we thank the people in our lives for simply being in our lives and the roles they perform in it. But why should we wait for Thanksgiving to express our thanks? Thank yous are something we should be expressing all year round. So, in this post, I am going to thank the people (and things) I do and don’t come in contact with on a regular basis.

To the staff at Eggsmart: Thank you for serving my mom and me the very delicious food you offer as often as you do (and for remembering that I drink tea with every morning meal).

To the wait staff at the Swiss Chalets my mom and I frequent: Thank you for your service and delicious food.

To anyone who has ever held a door for me, let me go ahead of them anywhere, or let me cross the parking lot in front of them: Thank you for taking those seconds out of your busy lives.

To my new manager: Thank you for giving me the opportunity you have.

To the customers who come into my store: Thank you for allowing me to give you advice on your purchases, and thank you for the things you do purchase.

To all of the wildlife in my city: Thank you for making me smile and proud to share my city with you.

To all my friends, and anyone who has ever been my friend: Thank you for being a part of my life regardless of how fleeting that time may have been.

To my fellow NaNoWriMo participants and Tonano chat room buddies: Thank you all of for your support during the most stressful and exhilarating month a writer can endure, and the months that surround it.

To the TTC workers, the ticket operators and bus, subway, and streetcar operators: Thank you for taking me where I, and millions of others, where we need to go without expecting anything in return from your riders.

To my family: You didn’t choose me, but you’ve chosen to love me as I am without question.

To the soldiers fighting overseas: Thank you for putting yourselves in danger so that I can live in freedom here at home.

To my cousin, Corporal John Mitchell: Thank you for your service and for always being at the ready should your country need you.

And to anyone and everyone who has ever read this blog: Thank you! You keep me writing it.

Be sure to thank everyone in your life. They are there for a reason, whether it be the people who drive your transit buses and subways, or the people who surround you on a daily basis. They all deserve to be thanked. So please, give them a big thank you. They would all love to hear it.

Monday, 7 October 2013

A Fleeting Moment

They say time is fleeting. I suppose it’s because time is something we always seem to run out of. Time is something we use, something we waste, something we can never get enough of. Time as we know it though, is a human invention. Before clocks, we awoke with the sun, ate whenever we were hungry and went to sleep when the sun went down. With the invention of clocks, we now get up around 7am, eat breakfast around 8am, have lunch at noon, have dinner sometime between 5pm and 7pm, and go to bed around 10pm. Now, this isn’t the same for everyone, but in general, this is how time affects us. In truth though, there is always enough time, the trick is to make it and apply it; a trick we have yet to truly master.

But the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to say, that life is fleeting. Not time, but life. Every year, I observe an event called Ohanami. Ohanami is a viewing of Sakura (cherry blossom) trees in High Park. For two weeks in late April or early May (depending on how warm our spring happens to be), the Sakura trees in High Park are covered in beautiful, white blossoms. Those white blossoms are considered to be the most beautiful in Japan, which is where those trees came from. They were given to the city of Toronto by Japan as a thank you for us housing displaced Japanese families after World War II. As beautiful as those blossoms are, a spring thunderstorm can pull those flowers off of the trees prematurely. If there is no bad weather, the blossoms will last, at most, two weeks before they fall off and are replaced by beautiful green leaves. I liken our lives to those Sakura blossoms. Life, in general, is a beautiful thing. To live is a wonderful thing. However, the length of our lives is unknown to us. There are a million and one ways our lives could be cut short; disease, a car accident, an at work accident, a complication from an injury, a bad infection, an embolism, a heart attack… For every moment we are alive, we should be thankful we have been able to live another moment.

My father passed away at the age of 66. Here in Canada, 66 is too young an age to die at. However, cancer does not discriminate against age, gender, sexual orientation, race, greed or culture. Cancer does not care who you are. I also had a cousin who passed away (also from cancer) at the age of 43. A very good friend of mine passed away in 2003 at the age of 23 of a heart attack. I almost lost my mother to a heart attack 4 years ago. She was only 60 then. And just recently, I almost lost someone else to a heart attack too soon. In fact, that person actually flat-lined and was brought back.

In the news, we’re constantly hearing about the latest gunshot victim, or the latest suicide bomber in the Middle-East. Recently, a sniper in the Middle-East went on a shooting spree; children were among the dead. Last month, a group of 10-15 gunmen entered a Nairobi mall and killed 72 people. Back in April, a Bangladeshi factory collapsed, killing 1,129 people. Last summer, a 23 year old man and a 14 year old girl were killed in a shooting on my street. A friend I went to high school with was murdered, along with her brother, by her common-law husband Christmas 2007. She was only a few years older than I was.

For those reasons, I say that life is as delicate as a flower and as precious as a gem. It is easy to say that we are going to live until we’re 80. But, how do we know that our lives won’t end tomorrow in a car accident, or because of a bad case of pneumonia? Quite simply, we don’t. We don’t know what the next two hours will bring will bring let alone the next 60 years. For that reason, we need to appreciate everything our life offers us. We need to appreciate the places we live and who we share those places with. We need to respect not only ourselves, but everyone we share our world with. They may be of a different skin colour or of a different creed or culture, but their lives are just as precious as our own. Those people have mothers, fathers and people who love them; people who would be devastated to hear of their deaths.

Life is fleeting. And because it is, it is special. No moment should be wasted. It doesn’t deserve to be wasted. There is are a couple of quotes from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring that sums all of this up nicely.

Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

The time we are given for our lives is not certain and that’s what makes it special. What are you going to do with the time that has been given to you?