Tag Archives: holidays

Fake It Til You Make It

1 Jul

Distance Vision1

I have terrible distance vision. Both literally and figuratively speaking. I always want things to happen now. Today. Not next month or next year. And I have trouble seeing that a little bit each day adds up to a whole lot.

Which is a bit of a problem for someone trying to write a novel.

In the beginning, I would set aside whole Saturdays every once in awhile, work nonstop from dawn to dusk and then get frustrated that the novel didn’t seem any closer to being finished.

We’re often told to fake it til you make it. If you want to be a fit person, then turn up to the gym every day, until you are one. And, if you want to be a writer, then sit down in that chair, and turn up to that blank page every day.

It wasn’t until I started taking my laptop with me on the train to and from work every day that I started to see progress. Real progress.

Distance Vision2

But I couldn’t see that day to day. Thanks to my crappy distance vision. All I could see was how much I hadn’t yet done, how many weeks of editing lay ahead. But I just kept picking up that laptop, opening it up to a new page.

Within the space of two weeks I had advanced 10,000 words. And in the space of three months I had a novel.

And in hindsight (which is always 20/20) that was no time at all.

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Glasses image courtesy of Bart Heird on Flickr.
Vision quote image courtesy of Brett Jordan on Flickr.
Maldives image courtesy of Sarah_Ackerman on Flickr.
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This will be the last post you see from me for awhile, as I am off on our long awaited trip to France for the Wedding 2.0 followed by our honeymoon in Italy and the Maldives. Jealousy-inducing photos to come in August. À bientôt 🙂Maldives
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The Paris Writer

10 Jun

Paris Morning Light

The Dream

I wake early, before my alarm. I dress comfortably and warmly and close the apartment door quietly behind me. I walk the short distance to the bakery on the corner. There is a closer bakery, but the croissants at this one are second to none. I wave good morning to Philippe, the greengrocer’s son who is busy setting his fruit stand on the rue Cadet. With a warm baguette nestled under my arm, I walk the long way home, savouring the half-light in which everything still feels new and hopeful. The day is yet to tire us out, wear us down, or disappoint with the things it does not bring. I climb the stairs to the apartment quickly, excited by the work waiting for me today. Perhaps if I am efficient this morning, I can take a few hours off this afternoon and go sit by the Canal St Martin. Cheered by this thought, I unlock the door. With one hand, I spread my baguette with a thin layer of salted butter, and with the other, I gently ease my laptop open and take a deep breath.

Snooze

The Reality

I wake violently to the incessant sound of my alarm ringing from across the room. Leaping out of bed to silence the infernal thing, I smack my shin on the edge of the coffee table. Hopping on one foot and cursing under my breath, I consider going back to bed. But, I’m up now; I might as well make the most of it. I pull on my oldest dressing gown, which is looking decidedly grubby with reminders of last week’s spaghetti bolognese on the sleeve. I flick the switch on the ancient IKEA kettle and rummage in the cupboard for some stale breakfast biscuits. I promise myself that tomorrow I will make the effort to go to the bakery. The sun is already streaming in through the window, so with one hand shielding my eyes against the glare, I roughly force my sleeping laptop awake. I have two articles to submit and I’m three days late with my blog. I think longingly of an afternoon stroll along the quais of the Seine, Berthillon ice cream in hand. Quickly I push the thought away. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to be finished by midnight.

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Paris in the morning image courtesy of l.gence on Flickr.
Snooze image courtesy of MacUK on Flickr.

Books About Paris

3 Jun

Books in Paris

It is fair to say that books about Paris are in no short supply. As someone who is writing a book about Paris, I am painfully aware of the fierce competition. Books about Paris fill my shelves, and I can’t resist ducking into Dymocks to see if there are any new ones on the shelves. But, there are some that keep me coming back.

*Paris Tango by Carla Coulson

Carla manages in one frame to capture the nuances of French life, in a way that armed with a thousand words I could only dream of. I love everything about her book. The weight of it, the texture of the cover, the old-school red placemarker. Of course, her words are magnificent too, once you manage to tear your eyes from her lovingly captured photographs. Her blog, which I stumbled across only recently, is also a delight.

*A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast

Indeed, Mr Hemingway requires no introduction. I only picked up a copy of A Moveable Feast this year. I think I put it off for so long because I was intimidated, and perhaps also because it is home to one of the most over quoted lines ever used to describe Paris. The reality, however, is that A Moveable Feast reads as if you have plopped down next to Hemingway in a Latin Quarter bar and he’s telling you about his perfectly ordinary day. It is a slender and light as Carla’s book is solid, and is intensely captivating in its brevity.

*Almost French by Sarah Turnbull

Almost French Cat

Almost French is everything I hope my novel will be. I would love nothing more than to have my as yet unnamed (suggestions welcome!) book sit side by side with Ms Turnbull’s. That possibility equally excites and terrifies me.

What are your favourite books about Paris?

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Paris books img courtesy of Roman Lashkin on Flickr.
A Moveable Feast img courtesy of life serial on Flickr.
Almost French with cat img courtesy of [o] suze q … [packing for firenze] on Flickr.

Things That Make Me Happy

27 May

Inspired by a post on the talented Carla Coulson’s blog, I decided to make a list of things that make me happy. Feel free to post yours in the comments below….

Bubble baths

Bath
Brightly painted toenails

Toenails
Towels fresh from the dryer

Mojito
Royal Mojitos

Mojito made with rum, lime, sugar, mint, club soda, served in a tall glass.
Weekends away

Bulong vines
Peter Alexander pyjamas

PJs
Working on my novel

Laptop
Fresh food markets

Fresh vegetables at a Paris market, Paris, France
Summertime picnics

Picnic basket
Reading in bed on rainy days

Reading in Bed
Drinking fancy tea

Teacup
Snow falling on cobblestones

Snow
Mastering a difficult yoga pose (read, all of them)

Yoga
Macarons

laduree-macarons.jpg
Falling asleep on the couch

Puppy snooze
Going for long walks through new neighbourhoods

Walk
Inspiring talks with people who believe in me

Inspire
Puppies & Monkeys

Puppy Monkey
Cooking, eating and hanging out with my husband

Max and I

What makes you happy?

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Bath img courtesy of
aka Laverne on Flickr.
Toenail img courtesy of
haunted by Leonard Cohen on Flickr.
Fresh towels img courtesy of
cattoo on Flickr.
Mojito img courtesy of
TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr.
Pyjama img courtesy of
sillypucci on Flickr.
Writing img courtesy of
joelgoodman on Flickr.
Market img courtesy of
Kevin Oke Photography on Flickr.
Reading book in bed img courtesy of
Reena Mahtani on Flickr.
Teacup img courtesy of
MyLifeThroughPhotography on Flickr.
Snow img courtesy of
Tavallai on Flickr.
Yoga img courtesy of
AmandaD_TX on Flickr.
Walk img courtesy of
gari.baldi on Flickr.
Inspire img courtesy of
Mark Brannan on Flickr.
Puppy & Monkey img courtesy of
elaine… on Flickr.

Lazy Sunday Façon Parisienne…

13 May

Paris

Every now and then I like to play a game called ‘If we were in Paris today…’ For example, on drizzly grey days, I imagine taking myself to La Mosquée de Paris for a glass of mint tea and some quiet reflection.

Mint Tea

On sunny Saturdays, I picture Max and I picnicking along the banks of the Seine, and perhaps afterwards, strolling through the Ile-St Louis, Berthillon glace in our hands.

Berthillon

Yesterday, we awoke around 8am, and knowing that a lengthy to do list awaited our attention we reluctantly dragged ourselves out of bed. After breakfast, we returned to bed for a quick fifteen minute snooze. Two and a half hours later, we awoke again, refreshed and relaxed. I began feeling guilty about all the things I should have done that morning. I should have written a chapter of my novel. I should have made a start on our wedding thank you cards. I should have written this blog post. I should have done the washing. Washed the dishes. Gone grocery shopping.

Snooze

But I thought back to all the Sunday’s Max and I had spent together in Paris. Almsot without exception we would sleep in until 11am, springing out of bed only to make a quick dash to the Franprix before it closed at midday, then returning to the couch for a lazy afternoon watching movies. Later, perhaps we’d walk around Montmartre, or welcome friends for an aperitif.

And so, instead of spending the rest of the day running around like maniacs doing all the things on our list, we decided to head out for a leisurely lunch in an Italian restaurant. Over plates of fresh pasta, we worked out that we could combine some of the less-fun tasks with some of the more interesting ones, and decided that several things could wait for another week.

To do list

After all, it’s what we would have done in Paris.

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Paris image courtesy of filipealberto on Flickr.
Mint tea image courtesy of
P Donovan on Flickr.
Berthillon image courtesy of maki on Flickr.

Snooze image courtesy of MacUK on Flickr.
To do list image courtesy of vvvracer on Flickr.

Finding Your Passion – Am I Creative?

6 May


Quote

Towards the end of 2011 I started feeling restless. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. Over lunch one day with two close work friends, I tried to articulate how I was feeling. Next to the two of them, one, a talented guitar-playing-singer-songwriter, and the other a former art gallery owner, I felt hopelessly dull.

What about doing something creative, they suggested helpfully. I nodded, but inside I was thinking, easy for you to say, but I’m not creative at all!

But throughout the week, their words stuck with me, and I decided to give some creative-adjacent things a go.

Knitting

I thought perhaps I would be good at knitting, so I made a beeline for the Lincraft store on Bourke Street to pick up some needles, wool, and a beginners guide to knitting. Indeed, the methodical nature of the task appealed to my logical brain, but the perfectionist in me grew quickly frustrated when stitches mysteriously disappeared, and I abandoned my scarf before I’d really begun.

After admiring some decorated calico bags for sale on Etsy for $20 apiece, I decided that was something I could definitely do, and maybe even make some money while I was at it. I dreamt of my pop up market stall at the Queen Vic Markets, and my future working form home as my online business took off. This time my efforts lasted just long enough for the Spotlight salesgirl to tell me they were out of calico bags.

Carambar

One Tuesday I flirted with the idea of becoming a trained masseuse, and working for myself, and by Wednesday I had decided I was starting a carambar import business.

In short, I was all over the place. What seemed like a brilliant idea one day would be revealed the next to be silly, or impossible.

Then, a friend sent me the following link.

Stuck? 25 Questions That Will Help You Find and Follow Your Passion.

Of course, the first time I read it, I skimmed the whole thing without writing anything down, sure that I would find the answer out my osmosis. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. You actually have to answer the questions. Like, on paper, with a pen. I know. What. A. Drag.

List

It isn’t the kind of online quiz where you answer a bunch of multiple-choice questions and it spits out a disparate list of occupations you might enjoy (usually spanning everything from hairdresser to scientist). The questions are designed to help you determine where your passion lies, and the answers, for me at least, were not clean cut. But what did emerge were a few key themes.

Food. Independence. Writing. The first one I knew about before I even started the questionnaire. But interestingly, while I was answering the questions it became clear to me that I didn’t actually want to work full time with food. But things a little bit removed, like food writing, hosting gourmet tours and writing meal plans for people sparked my interest. And realising that I could cook just for fun too, was a bit of a revelation. I seemed to think that I needed to manically combine all of my passions into a well-paid career in order to be happy.

Cookbooks

Independence was one thing I had been feeling for awhile, yet unable to properly articulate. I often felt that I didn’t want to manage anybody else, or lead a team. But I also wasn’t 100% comfortable working directly underneath someone either, taking orders. I felt that perhaps this desire for independence might indicate I’d be happy in a freelance type position, or working as a consultant.

And as for writing, I almost laughed out loud when I realised that was it. That was the thing that had been hovering in my peripheral vision, just beyond my reach. As a little girl I would stay up late, straining my eyes devouring books by moonlight. I read quickly and avidly, and told anyone who would listen to four-year-old me that I was going to be an author. I liked to write, and my short stories earned me praise from my schoolteachers. But, as I got older, without consciously acknowledging it, I’d come to understand that authors didn’t earn any money, and that if you wanted to make a career out of writing, you had to be a journalist, and I didn’t want to be a journalist. Therefore, I couldn’t write.

But the real power of these questions is that they made me realise what was stopping me. Fear, of course is a pretty common reason for not changing things up, for not trying something new, but was I was afraid of, wasn’t what I thought. I wasn’t scared of finishing a novel and having it never be published. I wasn’t frightened of going into business for myself. What was stopping me, ironically, was the fear of waking up in five years time, and realising that I had never tried…

Try

And once I’d worked that out, making a start was actually pretty straightforward. All I had to do was try.

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Passion image courtesy of deeplifequotes on Flickr.
Knitting image courtesy of
underthesun on Flickr.
Carambar image courtesy of
Sylvain Naudin on Flickr.
List image courtesy of
Flood on Flickr.
Cookbook image ocurtesy of
abakedcreation on Flickr.
Try image courtesy of
purplejavatroll on Flickr.

Dancing in the Dark

29 Apr


Self conscious

I am quite self conscious. I am easily embarrassed, and I hate feeling out of place. I like to know all the details before I head into a new situation, and fear of embarrassment can see me opt out of activities I’d actually probably enjoy.

Sometimes on the train home from work, I’ll miss my stop because I am wedged into the corner seat with three other people sprawled across the aisle, and in order to get out at my stop I’d have to make a bit of a fuss and ask them to move. So I stay quiet, and hope their stop comes soon.

Yoga

But recently, I’ve tried to push myself out of my cosy, insulated, predictable comfort zone. I signed up for a yoga course at work, even though it meant a change in my well-established routine and involved some awkwardness with a bunch of people I didn’t know.

And last Wednesday night I went with two friends to No Lights No Lycra in Brunswick. I had read about this activity in an issue of Women’s Fitness and thought it sounded like fun for someone like me. The principle is simple, the event takes place in a hall, they turn off all the lights and play daggy music, and everyone dances however they want, because noone else can see you.

We turned up, a few minutes late to find the event already in full swing. Weaving our way through the shadowy figures, we found a spot towards the back of the hall. I spent the first five minutes feeling supremely uncomfortable. It was a cold, drizzly night and all I could think about was how much I would rather be at home, warm in my pyjamas in front of the TV. It really wasn’t that dark and I wasn’t digging the first few songs. Nevertheless, we’d come all this way, so I was determine to at least give it a red hot go.

Dancing in the Dark

We spread out a little, giving each other space to do our own thing, and I found I could let go a bit more if I closed my eyes. Soon, some old school r’n’b was playing and I had forgotten all about my embarrassment as I got on down to Mary Mary. I opened my eyes to check where my friends were, just in time to see my usually reserved pal stride dramatically into the middle of the crowded dance floor, throwing back over her shoulder ‘Ladies, I’m going in!’ Emboldened by her bravery, and perhaps the blueberry amaretto sours we’d quickly downed pre-class for courage, I turned it up a notch and lost myself in the music. By the time a Britney Spears song came on, I was in the zone. Limbs flailing this way and that, hair in my face, jumping in the air – I was having a ball.

The night before at yoga, I had struggled against the meditation at the end of the class. I didn’t want to listen to the instructor’s voice as she told me to imagine my left kneecap relaxing. And when she handed each of us a flat stone to gaze at, I almost snorted with derision. But, in the middle of my third consecutive twirl, hands drawing wide circles above my head while I kicked my right leg into the air, I realised I had finally managed to live just in the moment, lost in the song.

Peace

Who would have thought that in the midst of all that noise and movement, I’d find peace.

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Quote image courtesy of Rob Meredith on Flickr.
Yoga image courtesy of GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS on Flickr.
Shadow dance image courtesy of sean.casaidhe on Flickr.
Peace image courtesy of MojoBaer on Flickr.

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