Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review: How I Define Me

In the past year I have moved my family to the UK; began a Creative Writing PhD program; written a radio comedy series; presented for a reading; judged a creative writing contest; acted as a submissions editor for an academic journal; created, developed and hosted a radio series; written short stories; published short stories; blogged; presented as a blogger; taught; learned; grown; shed; mothered; lectured; loved.

A few years ago I created a Wordle of words that defined my career goals. Today, I created one of words that remind me who I am.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Five Years Later: Divorced or Single?

“I’m not seeing my daughter until after the holidays, “she answered, “ but it’s ok, I’m a single lady,” the cashier continued, “I have friends to see all over the country.”

As she rang up and bagged my items she shared her adventures as a “single lady."

“I’m usually out travelling or seeing shows; I go out a lot, you see, because I’m a single lady.”

We talk every time I visit the store but I didn’t realize we had so much in common: I like to travel; I’d like to go out dancing, to meet new people. It took a good five minutes before I remembered: “I’m a single lady too,” I said.

“You are?” She wasn’t convinced.

“I’ve been divorced for five years.” I don’t usually feel the urge to explain myself but the revelation that I too am a single lady took me a bit off guard.

For the past few years I’ve been “divorced.” “Divorced” is a reminder that I know what commitment is and when it isn’t working; I know when to hold on and when to walk away. It tells people a version of my past and though I hadn’t meant for the label to stick, it slipped on and fitted itself on to my shape and stuck. I wore “divorced” as a reminder that my marriage didn’t work out.

Until at least the tenth time she said it, I didn’t realize I don’t have to be “divorced;” I can slip on words that fit and shed words that cling too tightly. If divorced is a reminder of something broken, single is a reminder of opportunities and decisions.

Words don't define me; I do.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Samsung Challenges UK Phone User to do without Smartphone for Two Weeks

Think you can’t do without your Samsung Galaxy SIII Smartphone? Samsung says you can, and you will.

If you’ve recently updated your Samsung Galaxy SIII without any problems then you may be one of the lucky ones. Now that I have attempted the system prompted update, my device doesn’t work. And I’m not alone. Now that my phone only ineptly strobes “Samsung” I’ve searched reviews on the update (Yes, I’ve learned to check reviews before accepting manufacturer updates) and found questions but no solutions. When I called the support number, the technician admitted that his update also destroyed his phone and his phone is out for repair. Why does Samsung know about the problem but still recommend the update? I suppose it’s the same reason they know how to fix it but don’t share the information: Samsung challenges us to stop using Smartphones.

Over the past ten months or so since I’ve had the phone, I have become addicted to checking emails, status and updates. I’ve taken pictures of my family and our move to the UK; snap shots of interesting places and posted blogs. I used my phone for emergencies too: if my children or their schools need to contact me, they call.

My phone kept me connected.

According to Samsung, maybe it kept me a little too connected.

Despite becoming a practical component of my life, my short battery-cycled friend (a condition potentially introduced via the update before this one) is also used for the impractical: gaming, reading, shopping.

So, like it or not,  for the next two weeks, I’m going to participate in Samsung’s ‘Do without your Samsung’ campaign.

Day 1: It begins.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Competitive Dating

I’m a competitive shopper. In the past few weeks I have bid on at least three things that as soon as I became the highest bidder, I didn’t want.
The information was in the listing: there was no false advertising; no revelation of a hidden meaning or twisted phrase. After the competition of bidding was complete and I was sure of winning, I just didn’t want what I thought I did.

To be fair, I was settling.

I was looking for a laptop and bidding on a notebook or looking for a Rockband guitar and bidding on a Guitar hero one; I even bid on an item from someone with more negative comments in the past six months than items I had bid on. I couldn’t seem to help myself. If other people wanted it, I had to have it.

“Please don’t let me win, please don’t let me win,” I prayed after bidding on items. Thankfully, my prayers were answered. I was able to walk away and watch someone else swoop in without feeling a need to win. But they weren’t my competition; I was.

If only I didn’t also do that in relationships.

How many times have you pursued someone you didn’t want in the first place? Against your better judgment, you’ve gotten babysitters, rearranged schedules, and rationalized for someone you didn’t want to be with but wanted to have?


There is no such thing as competitive dating. There are no prizes for dating down; no medals for settling and no theme songs for dipping out with the underdog. 

Starting today, go after what you want; walk away from what you don’t.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lessons from Season 1 of the Writing Life

This year I hosted my first radio series, The Writing Life, on Bailrigg FM. The series is an opportunity for me to interview writers, authors, publishers, and any one making a living with their words or endeavoring to. The platform allows me to share information with a larger population and fulfills part of my teaching passion. Largely, it is an opportunity to converse, interact and engage: to do things I love within a medium I adore.

Presenting is not as easy as some professionals make it look. Thanks to networking and connecting, I was able to garner a list of knowledgeable, personable guests who are willing to share information and were available. I interviewed Kevin Duffy of Blue Moose Books; writer, publisher and Fulbright Scholar Coleen Crangle; space planning visionary and author Jo Kipling; author, student; PR guru Simon James; advocate, lecturer and playwright Royal Shiree; award winning novelist Alison MacLeod; and award winning screen and playwright Daragh Carville. All of my guests have been lovely both on and off the air.  They shared information on how they got started; how they stay motivated; how to balance other careers and pursuits with the pursuit of words; and more. They indulged my curiosities and offered advice.

The interviews are engaging because my interviewees are engaged. It’s not just my personality that brings out the best in people but people that bring out the best in people. My ability to research allows me to ask pertinent, relevant questions. My interest in people prompts interesting discussions.

Listeners and I received valuable advice this year and I’m hopeful listeners have put some of the advice and experiences in to practice; I know I did. One of the best pieces of advice came from my mother: “it’s your show; you’re quirky, it’s fine if your show is too.”
I’m looking forward to next year’s season and gathering and sharing more information.

I’ve included the link so you can catch up on Season 1 before Season 2 begins.

Happy Holidays!

Backstory: Reflections on this Month's Theme for Stories at the Storey

Meeting deadlines is as soothing to me as a creamy cup of flavoured coffee. Checking a project off of my mental to-do list settles me. ...