Category: Sleep

On being a freelancer, in earnest

cupcake smile
photo shoot out-take

I’ve been writing non-stop, for pay, for the past week and a half. This week’s assignments have focused on Canada Day. Several stories involved interviewing new and relatively new Canadians, which was a wonderful experience. Everyone has a story, and everyone’s story has some kernal that is poignant or humbling or moving; and I love listening.

A new and exciting development is that I’ve also been assigned to take some of the photographs to accompany the stories.

Let me tell you about yesterday, which was particularly manic and fun.

I started the morning with spin/weight class. Took a quick nap after seeing kids off to school. Biked to an interview. Raced home in order to prepare and test a variety of recipes — food for an imaginary Canada Day party. “I love my job,” I thought, dashing around my kitchen in the middle of the afternoon, delicious smells wafting. With help from Zoe, party-planning friend extraordinaire, we decorated and styled a small area of the back porch as if for a “party,” arranged the food, and I took photos. We worked at a crazy pace. I was trying to get everything done before children arrived home from school. And food is tricky to photograph, as anyone who follows my blog knows. I was thankful for great natural lighting, borrowed glassware and linens, and for the daughter who arrived home early and agreed to be photographed eating a cupcake while smiling non-stop (as directed!).

“Even fake smiles look real in photos,” I assured her. And, as you can see from the evidence above, they do.

It was a crazy fun afternoon.

I’ve made a discovery: all those shameful wasted years of reading cheesy women’s magazines has finally paid off. “Service-oriented copy,” as it’s known, simply flows from my fingertips.

Meanwhile, pleasurable discoveries and cupcakes aside, yesterday rolled on at its manic pace. For supper, we ate the food I’d photographed (bonus!). I processed and sent photos to my editor. I biked with soccer girl to the park. I ran 12km in just over an hour (I can’t do my long run this weekend — too busy with soccer tournament and dance recital — which is why I added mileage). We biked home. Put children to bed. Folded laundry. Worked on stories some more. Briefly spent time talking to husband on couch. Dropped plan to meet up with sibs to celebrate birthdays (something had to give).

Crashed.

Slept like a rock. I love sleeping like a rock.

On another note, let me share with you a pang. Sometimes I look at my children and wonder whether I’m keeping close enough track of their individual needs. In my busyness, in this great whirl, am I overlooking something important? Will each feel cherished and treasured by their mother? When problems arise, and heartache, as inevitably happens, do I spare enough time and attention to help them?

As my working life expands, as I prioritize earning a greater share of our family’s income, what falls through the cracks? What gets minimized or ignored or even lost?

A meandering kind of post

hail1
hail storm

Just before my reading yesterday (Wednesday) evening, the skies opened up. Talk about raining and pouring. And hailing. It was dramatic. Perhaps it purged my anxious mood, because by the time I got to the event at the library, everything felt magically relaxed. Or maybe that’s experience coming into play. After all, I have been reading and speaking in public on a fairly regular basis for the past few months.

A friend commented yesterday that she hoped I would find hidden value in my decade of at-home-with-children work; and there is no doubt it’s made me who I am.

I’m less self-conscious, for example. Any public outing involving infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and yes, even 11-year-olds, toughens the hide considerably. And my children have taught me how to ask for what I want — on many levels. If your child has ever been in need, you will discover within yourself reserves of grit and determination, you will knock on doors, you will be persistant and annoying and you won’t give a damn about being judged. On a different level, asking a child to do a task requires simple, straightforward communication. Forget fancy, forget dancing around a subject — state what needs doing in three words or less. So these are hidden assets I’ve gained over the years.

But other skills are rusty …

Alright, I started this post many hours ago, this is how far I got, and I’d like to finish it before bedtime. What has this crazy day held? I worked all day on a story on dinosaurs that is still not quite done. I set up an interview for tomorrow morning. I discovered we have a meeting at our eldest daughter’s new school early tomorrow morning; and that Kevin can’t attend due to work. I managed to make supper from scratch in about twenty minutes flat. Instead of eating it, I worked on the dinosaur story. Soccer girl and I biked to her soccer practice. The weather was gorgeous! I went for a run, and discovered speed — for the first three kilometres. And I hacked it out for the next two, and ran 5km in 23:38, my fastest time yet; and then I hacked out another kilometre and a bit, making it 6km in 28:52. (This is not record breaking time for anyone but me; but it felt good.) After soccer practice, the two of us stayed and practiced penalty shots — AppleApple in net, and me kicking. Addictively fun! Then we biked home. Dishes awaited. Laundry still on the line. Supper still on the table. Exhausted children to put to bed.

Man. I’m tired. I should not be typing, I should be reading in bed right now. I’m currently reading about the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay, and I spend a lot of time turning to my husband to report on the crazy things she’s getting up to. Did you know she was one of the most famous women in America in the 1930s? A poet! She sold 68,000 copies of a book of poems in eight weeks in the middle of the Depression.

More on Vincent to come, methinks.

For now, to sleep, perchance to dream.

Moving the furniture

living-room1
newly arranged living-room

Saturday. Day of quiet and rain.

Sunday. Day of hopping out of bed early for a long run. Oh, and more rain.

living-room2

living-room3

Saturday evening we decided to rearrange the living-room. I’m not sure why, but it always makes me happy to rearrange a room. Baking bread has a similar effect on my spirits. So does going for a run. Life is full of simple cures that are next thing to free for the taking.

living-room4
practicing for imminent piano recital

The newly arranged living-room changes the focus, upon entering the house, away from the television. (Hurray!) Instead, you’ll see the beautiful painting, as shown in the top photo, by Barry Lorne, which he generously gave us as a wedding gift. You’ll see books, too. Hidden behind the old brown couch is the art section. There is room for a communal computer.

Here is what I am thinking about on this blustery weekend.

This morning it was so easy to go for a run. Yesterday, I felt lethargic, as immovable as stone. Life may be full of cures free for the taking — but I confess that some days it is harder than others to take that first step, to put the best plan into motion. There have been times, lately, when I wonder what I’m doing wrong, wonder why I’m so tired, why I’m dropping the ball as often as not. Maybe I wish I were superwoman, leaping from role to role effortlessly, existing on little sleep, splendidly strong and competent and certain.

Instead, I’m just plain me. Rearranging the furniture, and making pad thai for supper, and falling asleep on the couch with a book.

Ominous horoscopes

birdfish

My horoscope has been full of ominous warnings lately. Do you read your horoscope? I don’t read mine regularly, and I don’t take it seriously. But every once in awhile I take a glance and something rings true. Lately, my horoscope keeps warning me to slow down, to take time, to rest, lest I risk burn-out.

Hm.

As I contemplate the full evenings, tumbling one after another, and the early mornings, and everything sandwiched in between, it can feel not just relentless but insurmountable. An impossible pace. The readings! The soccer! The writing! The meals! The exercise! I am longing for a week away, come August, when we will go to a cottage and do nothing but eat, drink, and swim. And read! (Remember reading? I do it now at bedtime, and it’s a battle between my practical self reminding me to put the book down and go to sleep, and my word-fed self refusing and fighting the lowering eyelids until they literally drop, and the book too.)

Still. Full is good, I tell my horoscope. And there’s room, in full, for relaxed stretches of simple play. For instance, I spent nearly three hours outdoors at a park on Tuesday evening. Sure, it was a poorly planned outing and supper was rushed beyond all reason (this is due to being a one-car family, and forgetting, on occasion, that we are). But when we got to the park, super-early for soccer girl’s game, the two of us had time to walk together, talk together, and practice soccer together. As her teammates trickled in for the game, they joined in our completely informal practice — a practice I wouldn’t have had the confidence to lead without joining that soccer team myself. It was so much fun. We had so much time, and it was so luxurious. When the real practice started, I went for a short run in the cool woods nearby. Then I watched her game; the boys wandered over after Albus’s game to join me. Then we walked over to a nearby field and caught the end of Fooey’s game.

We arrived home to supper still on the table, lunches to be made, laundry to be hung, and tired children to put to bed. And it was already well past bedtime. But would I trade that evening outdoors with my children for a different version? I can’t imagine anything better.

Or more exhausting.

You may be right, horoscope. But I’m hanging on. I’m hanging on for dear life.

Breathe

myrtle
This is just to say I’ll be taking a breather this weekend. Therefore, no blogging planned. Hope you find time to rest and settle in to whatever you’re doing this weekend, too. Happy spring!

May madness

jumper
sending happy vibes

When I woke up this morning, I remembered my dream. It seemed ominous. I’d been dreaming about sleeping. As in, I was sleeping inside my dream. I think that might define tired.

We’ve entered May, which is a month more packed with events than usual. So let me begin this post by telling you about some of them, in case you’re interested in attending/listening in/sending happy vibes. (I was going to say “send advice,” but it strikes me that advice is not at all what I want. I want happy vibes. Please.)

May 3 (tomorrow): If you’re in Guelph, listen in to a live (gulp) interview I’ll be doing with Dan and Peter who host a show called “Books for Breakfast” on CFRU radio. You can stream it live, or listen to the podcast later. You can. I won’t. I cringe when I hear my own voice. It sounds so different inside my head. My instructions are to pour myself a cup of tea, have my book handy, and pick up the phone when it rings at 8:30am tomorrow. I’ve arranged for the kids to be out of the house a wee bit earlier than usual.

Also tomorrow, immediately after the interview, I’m off to represent the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. I’ll be leading writing workshops for teens at an enrichment conference here in town. I’m going to call this day: The Day of New Experiences. Which is much better than its alternative and less motivational title: The Day of No Napping.

May 7 (Monday): Guelph, the ebar, 7-9pm! I’ll be reading with Andrew Hood, and doing a little Q&A afterward with Dan from The Bookshelf. Look for me at around 7:20, according to the schedule I’ve got. Any friends from Waterloo interested in coming? I’d love to carpool with someone.

May 15 (Tuesday): Indie Night at the Starlight in Waterloo! Doors open at 7. There will be nine authors, brisk and entertaining readings, and books for sale. Heather Birrell will be there with her new book Mad Hope, and fellow Anansi author, Robert Hough with his new book Dr. Brinkley’s Tower. And many more. Should be awesome.

May 16 (Wednesday): Short Story Shindig at Type Books in Toronto! 7-9pm. I’m reading with Heather Birrell and Daniel Griffin, and our host for the evening is the most awesome Kerry Clare (who writes the best book blog on the block, Pickle Me This).

May 27 (Sunday): reading at Wilfrid Laurier University. Details to come. Apparently Congress 2012, a gathering of some 7,000 academics, is coming to Waterloo, and WLU is putting on a literary salon to entertain those so inclined.

May 29 (Tuesday): Books and Brunch at A Different Drummer bookstore in Burlington. Starts at 9:30am. I’ll be reading with Jay Ingram and Dennis Lee.

:::

Note to self: find a more efficient method of posting this information on blog.

Meanwhile, onward. I started today with a good run with a dear friend in early morning light that was nothing short of beautiful. Pink sky, fresh light, new day. That’s the good thing about not sleeping. Being awake in today.

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