Sunday, March 2, 2014

So Give Thanks

Some days I feel like I’m at the beginning, and it’s terribly frightening. Today is one of those days. I’ve been thinking lately about my writing and the journey it has involved. I’ve been faithful to my writing ever since 2003, when my first essay was published. I was living in Ottawa, Ontario, at the time, and I had to sandwich my writing in and around my day job. Fluent in English and French, staying employed in Ottawa — the nation’s capital — was easy for me. When I moved to Sherbrooke, Quebec, in 2010, finding employment proved difficult despite my skill set. So I made the decision then to focus on my art — writing, painting, music. Was this providence at work? Maybe. Now, back living in Ontario, I have a “day job” that offers a lot of flexibility, giving me time to pursue my artistic endeavours.

At the beginning, I’ve given myself over to the universe, no longer resisting the path laid out before me. The nine-to-five world never felt right to me, like I was immured in a dark abyss that day after day held me down, sucked the life out of me. But I did what was necessary to survive — to have food on the table and shelter over my head. Over the years there have been good times and not so good times, but through it all I’ve learned to keep the faith. Some days my faith is tested, yet when I hold on to faith, all that I need is supplied — not too much, not to little … but just enough.

Giving myself over to providence, I still write every day. Rain, sleet, snow, or a bright sunshiny day, I write. Sometimes I park myself at my desk in my office area, other times I settle in on the living room sofa. When there are too many distractions around the condo, I pack up and head to Spot, the neighbourhood coffee shop.

Despite my successes — publication of my short stories, poetry, and a novel (Freestyle Love), there are days when I still doubt myself. Am I really a writer or am I just playing at it? My successes don’t seem to matter. Maybe I’m not the writer I thought I was after all …?

On days like these, when doubt swarms over my body, I am thankful for my godsends. My godsends are my friends, spread out across North America, who are friends to me and my writing. Like my friend Heather-Anne who asks regularly how the writing is going. She’s interested in what I’m working on and tells me how proud she is of my accomplishments. Heather-Anne, like my other godsends, reaches out to me (without asking) at the time that I need encouragement the most. She is, as Julia Cameron puts it, a “believing mirror” whose support has been constant.

Messages from my godsends get me back to the page, help me to stay focused, remind me of my worth. And in the age of Twitter, Facebook and a plethora of other social networking sites, staying focused is sometimes difficult.

As the weekend winds down, I am settling in for a quiet evening. It was a productive and relaxing weekend (I am slowly learning to rest and not work all the time!). I walked to Chinatown where I had the battery in my watch replaced. I wandered through Indigo and bought a couple of magazines. I stopped to try a new (or at least new to me) restaurant and picked up a beef barbacoa burrito. I tried a new cake recipe, “Sticky Toffee Cake with Decadent Toffee Sauce,” from one of Canadian Living’s cookbooks, The International Collection. I finished the edits to a chapter of my novel-in-progress. I caught up with one of my believing mirrors after a few weeks of playing telephone tag.

Even as I write and feel good about all I’ve accomplished — now and in the past — doubt still lingers. But I’m not discouraged, thankful for the god-sent blessings — in friendship, in life, in work — that keep flowing in my direction.

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