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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Five Hundred, Twenty-Five Thouand, Six Hundred

Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred. That's how many minutes there are in a year. 525,600. At the risk of sounding like the theme to my favourite musical, how do you measure those minutes? How do you measure a year?


For some, a year is a long time; for others, it's merely the blink of an eye. For me, 2014 has been a bit of both, and I've been trying to come up with a way to sum everything up. It's had its ups and downs, its fun and its torment, its joy and its sorrow. But, all in all, I really cannot complain. I have met some amazing people in this last year, whose lives have come to run alongside mine. Friends have come and have moved away. I have gained, lost, and then gained employment. I spent 30 days alongside and leading an incredible group of writers. I have been given an amazing opportunity that does not come every day.


2014 started on a slightly somber note when a friend I have come to regard very highly moved back home to London (the real London). I count him among the very best of my friends; he's one of those people who makes my world seem right and my life would not be complete without him. I would see him again in April and again in November when he came back to visit, visits I wished had lasted much longer than they did.


April saw me taking on the Camp NaNo challenge, during which, I finished a Power Rangers fanfic I had been working on for about four years. It was both exciting and grievous to have something that had been in my life for so long come to an end. But, end it did. Throughout it, I met with some fellow writers every Friday at a local Starbucks (a meeting that has continued all year and will do so for what I hope is a very long time to come), was reunited with my friend from London, turned 26, and welcomed the coming of Spring with open arms.


The closing of June saw the end of my career in retail when the store I was working at closed. The lack of employment gave me a chance to work on my writing, but at the cost of my pay cheque. I would become employed once more in September at the company my mother works, and I have been there ever since.


July saw another Camp NaNo session, a session that seemed to fly by but gave me the beginnings of a story I hope to one day complete. (My trilogy takes presidency over all, though.) I also had the chance to meet with a friend I hadn't seen in many months.


In August, while meeting a glorious Green-cheeked Conure named, Frodo, I was asked if I would consider being NaNo event and chat room moderator for the Toronto region. I humbly accepted, and started the 2014 session of NaNo as, not only a participant, but a leader. It came with a new set of challenges, but I was prepared to meet them. So, with my trust mascot, Perry the Owl, I embarked on a month long journey with thousands of others worldwide to reach the ever-evasive 50,000 word goal. 2014's NaNo proved to be one of the toughest ones I participated in as the fates seemed to be against me. I started out behind and was never able to catch up. Halfway through, I gave up on reaching the 50,000 word goal, but just continued to write for the sake of writing. Then, on November 12th, an amazing opportunity was cast my way. The publisher, Simon and Schuster hosted a write-in event at a downtown Chapters, and I was in attendance. Everyone filled out a ballet, and entered to win the chance to have their manuscript read and reviewed by one of the publisher's editors. My name was drawn. I then spent the rest of November in a daze and alternated between writing and editing. I was also able to catch up with people I hadn't seen in a year, and I got to spend a much needed afternoon and evening with the friend who had gone home to London in January.


December brought on a flurry of editing (which I'm still in the throes of), and preparing for the upcoming Christmas season. It's also brought me to the movie theatre twice for three viewings of the final Hobbit film, The Battle of the Five Armies. Each time I have seen it, I have noticed different things, and this last viewing brought out the tears for me.


Christmas this year will me spent at my cousins', and for the first time in a very long time, there will be children involved, including a one-week old. It has been years since children have been a part of my Christmas Eve tradition, and I am very excited. Children make Christmas was it is. They make it joyous, and exciting, and innocent. They make Christmas beautiful.


2014, for me, has been measured in new experiences, changes, and, most of all, friendships new and old. 


To everyone who has crossed paths with me, whether in person, or online, thank you for being a part of my life. To those who have chosen to walk alongside me, thank you for sharing your road with mine regardless of how long or short that shared road was. To those who are still walking alongside me, thank you for allowing me to just be me and allowing me into your lives. Thank you for sharing in those five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.


TO EVERYONE: I wish you all the very best!


Merry Christmas, and all the best in 2015!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

What Is My Purpose In Life?

Do you ever wonder why things happen the way they do? Do you ever wonder why you're here, what your purpose is in life? Do you ever wonder if you're meant to be here? Over the last few months, I've been giving these questions quite a bit of thought.

Late August, my family doctor retired, which meant my mom and I had to find a new one. We did, and we picked up our medical charts to take to this new doctor. Between our last appointment with our former doctor, and our first appointment with our new doctor, we had some time to look through our medical charts. In doing so, we found out something neither one of us knew about me. I was still born.

I'd always known that my first few days of life had been touch-and-go. My mom had an appointment for a non-stress test, and the doctors discovered I was in distress. So, as a result, I was born a month premature. I've also known that I had stopped breathing a couple of days into life, and I spent 15 days in NICU, as well as that my development was slowed in part due to being premature. (I'm also aware that I didn't speak in full sentences until I was 4; I'm making up for lost time, lol.) However, I did not know that I actually hadn't been alive when I was born. When I was born, I was clinically dead.

This knowledge sparked a few questions, the most prominent one being, "Why did I survive?" Why did I come back to life? Am I meant to be here? Why? What is it that I am supposed to accomplish in however many years I'm granted? Whose lives am I supposed to enrich, if any?

I have many acquaintances and people I see fairly regularly, but I have very few close friends. It's been that way since I was a child, primarily because I choose who I want to hang out with. The people I make time to meet with are, in many ways, very special to me. In spite of this, there have been people who have come into my life I feel like I was fated to meet for various reasons. A couple of them got me back into playing my guitar fairly regularly, another few have, and continue to be, my inspiration for my trilogy and other novels, and one other reminded me how much I used to love playing board games. There are people with whom I feel the most at home, and the most free to be me. They are the people who have enriched my life. If they have enriched my life in their own big and little ways, have I done the same for them? What is my purpose in their lives? Am I fulfilling that purpose?

Those who really know me, know that I can sometimes be completely off the wall. I am really not so different from say, Peter Pan, in that I am a kid at heart and always have been. My difficult birth has provided me with a humourous response of, "I didn't get enough oxygen as a baby" when people look at me as though I've got two extra heads. On occasion, that response becomes, "Ain't you glad I survived?" when those same people can only smile and shake their heads at me. In spite of this, it's something I have struggled to grapple with since August, and I suspect that I will continue to struggle with it forever.

Why did I survive on my birthday when thousands of other babies in the same predicament may not have? What makes me so special? Why me?

In thinking about it, I've come to realize that everyone has a purpose, something they are meant to do. Everyone is meant to touch someone, everyone is meant to influence someone else. Everyone has a path to travel, even if that path is not clear, and those paths intersect for a reason – some bad, some good.

With this in mind, everyone who has crossed my path has meant to. To those who have made me feel at home, I am forever grateful. To everyone to has crossed paths with me, thank you, for you have made my life what it is.

"One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time." ~ Hermann Hesse

Monday, 1 December 2014

The End of a Chapter

As of midnight December 1st, the 2014 season of National Novel Writing Month came to an end. My word count was a measly 18,860, but those words would not have happened were it not for the support I received from my fellow Wrimos. I have yet to win a NaNo, but maybe 2015 will be my year.

In spite of my horrible word count, I had an amazing ride. I was an event and chat room moderator, which was an awesome experience that both thrilled and terrified me. I was suddenly responsible for hosting events and keeping chat safe. I think I was successful.

I also got to hang out with people I have come to love dearly, people who have encouraged me, supported me, picked me up when I've fallen. These are people who are just as insane as I am and who have influenced my life for the better. Many have been there since my first NaNo in 2012, and have been my pillers, my rocks, my source of laughter, and a source of inspiration.

As I rode the bus home from the last NaNo write-in of 2014 with my trusted mascot, Perry (aka my NaNoWrimOwl), I thought back on the crazy month that had just passed. I had become a leader of sorts, I barely saw much of my home as I ventured out to coffee shops to get the words out. I spent a night in a church kind enough to let us use their facilities for an overnight writing session. I received the opportunity to have my manuscript ready by publisher, Simon & Schuster. But, most importantly, I had been reunited with friends I hadn't seen in far too long, including one I wish didn't live so far away.

The one thing to remember about NaNo, regardless of whether you win it or not, is, you become part of an international community of writers. You instantly acquire the support of everyone else who is doing this at the same time. Should you make it out to write-in events within your local community, you are met with people who are striving to reach the same goal you are, the same people who will give you a pat on the back for finishing regardless of what your word count ends up being.

To those who won: CONGRATULATIONS!
To those who didn't reach 50k: CONGRATULATIONS!!! You have more words than you had in October! That's something to be proud of.
To EVERYONE: congratulations on everything you've written! You are awesome! Keep writing!

And to EVERYONE who has been there to support me, whether through encouragement and cheering, through laughter and shenanigans, through listening to my rants, or through simply putting up with me: From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Perry and me riding home after
the last 2014 NaNo write-in.