Tag Archives: writing

The Now

‘With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now’ ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Can I really do this?

NaBloPoMo is a challenge. Post everyday for a month. Sounds easy right? After much deliberation I decided I would put my writing skills to the test and throw myself into this new project.

Somewhere in my mind is an inexhaustible supply of blog ideas, some jotted down in the middle of the night when sleep evades me, others when my head is in the clouds staring aimlessly into space on public transport. I think little things you experience and accomplish everyday are blog-able if you give them enough thought and think about them from different angles. My arch nemesis is time. I find time flows erratically for me, I’ll have a few days of leisure and then all of a sudden I’ll have a bunch of things to do and my writing/correspondence takes a backseat. I’m still sorting myself out in this new city and long for a schedule to settle into.

Some of my blog ideas become drafts lying dormant in notebooks or a few lines on some paper scraps. Maybe never to be read again. Maybe Nablopomo will be the kick to share them.

The concept is ‘NOW’. The theme is flexible and daily writing prompts are given, how rigidly I’ll adhere to them remains to be seen. This theme could easily be moulded into what I want to write about; about living in the moment, the difference between then and now, focusing on the present and now or never – the steps towards being fearless. The reminder to do things today and not tomorrow. NOW is happening every moment of the present, that alone makes the theme workable.

I think this will be a tough challenge. I would never compromise the quality of posts for quantity and I will try to maintain a balance and continue to inform, question, ponder and entertain myself and hope the posts affect others in the same way. I will probably write 2-3 substantial posts a week and use the other days to display snippets of my life and photos I’ve intended to upload or share for ages.

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Filed under Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, Personal Development

Scribbled Postcards (Part II)

A hoy! Globe trotting via postcards:

An update for Postcrossers and more things I’ve learnt about the world through postcards. Click photos to enlarge.

Julie treated me to a cove scene from La Jolla, San Diego, CA. Coves are a great display of Nature as an architect and the powerful erosive force that sculpts these sheltered bays. I love the vintage/artsy feel to the postcard and it reminds me how much I would love to live close to the ocean (and not in the middle of the Canadian landmass, surrendering to its, frankly bizarre, weather systems).

In a word. Stunning. Silje showed me a glimpse of her world, the largest city in the north of Norway, Tromsø. I’m always bowled over by how beautiful Norway is and Tromsø is no exception. This city centre apparently has the highest concentration of historical wooden houses which co-exist with modern architecture, illustrated in the design of the Arctic Cathedral. Tromsø is the perfect place to marvel at the glowing Aurora Borealis skies. Good luck on your travels to England, Silje!

Cute Lakeland Bears postcard courtesy of Mieke from the Netherlands. Lakeland Bears are very collectible and love donning hiking gear and going out on long walks, they’re fully jointed so pose for the camera on their ventures. Some even dress in corduroy and tweed – how very English! I wonder if they like a good cup of Earl Grey. Mieke wanted to send me a bit of the British Isles to Canada and this teddy bear certainly accomplished that and a smile. Textured cat stickers are full of win!

From Steffi of Germany. How can I not like a postcard sent from a lady with a love of chocolate, sushi, coffee and photography, she also encourages me to hit the ski slopes. This art work is titled ‘Verena Kobelkowsy with Amaryll. He begs day and night’. I haven’t been sent many art cards so it was neat to be introduced to a new artist of foreign lands. Which is another thing about Postcrossing, increasing your awareness of the unknown and widening your scope of the world and the things in it.

The Renaissance painters are outstanding and I admire anyone who is brimming with talent and artistic flair. From Texas, sent by Lynn and is of Michelangelo’s The Torment of St. Anthony. I’m in awe that someone could paint like this at 14, at that age my macaroni art was coming together and the objects of my still life sketches were just about recognisable.

From Belarus. Happy flowers, bumble bees and the Cyrillic alphabet. Attempts to transliterate to the Latin alphabet resulted in translation fail of epic proportions.

From South Germany, the town Heidenheimer hosts a flower show accompanied by a herd of 80 sheep. Glass fibre reinforced plastic, these statues are customised by a myriad of designers (companies, schools, artists) who let their imagination flow to make their sheep stand out from the rest of the flock. Kind of like the Cow Parade, for sheep. I think my postcard sheep was sitting in the half way house between bohemian and hobo. The stamp is a salute to Selma Lagerlöf, the first female to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.

From Guangzhou, China. I’ve always found beauty in the elaborate temples and shrines of the world, decorated so ornately. This colourful detailed statue is from the ancient Shuanglin Monastery and contains over 2,000 intricate Buddhist terra cotta  and wooden statues. This specific statue of an armoured general is one of the eight protectors of Chinese Buddhism.

The captivating city of Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and a previous capital city of the Roman Empire. The painting is called ‘Entry of the Golden Horn’, with the Golden Horn being an estuary. This mega city has many mosques incorporated into its skyline and appears just as beautiful in modern-day photographs as it does in this artwork.

Geishas are the perfect blend of butterfly-like grace, elegance and poise. As well as physical beauty and elaborate costumes they are highly trained performers, mastering Japanese music, dance, tea ceremonies and etiquette. I remember after seeing Memoirs of a Geisha and getting a sneak peek at this aspect of Japanese culture and traditions, I began seeking out geisha literature and autobiographical accounts so this postcard was very welcome in my mailbox. It’s great that a geisha could continue to entertain well into her 60’s and still be deemed as beautiful as those in their youth. Maybe something to think about in the Western World where getting old is often portrayed as something to fight and not embrace.


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Filed under Arts & Culture, Life, Nature and Planet Earth, Travel

Coffee Shops and Scorchers

‘Joy in the the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked’ ~ Anais Nin.

The sun sits high in the sky, a blazing inferno. Winking at me as it passes in and out of the clouds. Sunbeams piercing through the luminous wisps beating down heavily on the pavement. Did someone crank up the thermostat here? It’s 25°C outside today with a string of scorchers preceding it and more expected. The perfect place to seek shade and escape the dry heat, the coffee shop.

Coffee shops were always a great place to study. I’d spread my textbooks out across the table, monopolising every bit of space. The hustle and bustle, catching fragments of others conversations and the sense of movement around me kept me alert almost as much as the caffeine. There was always the chance to bump into a familiar face, a pleasant distraction and we’d swap some gossip and complain about our impending quarter life crises and how we wished life was simpler. Wonder where our Fresher’s day had gone and why reading lists look nightmarish. Deny the existence of the real world outside being a student.

Today I’m in a coffee shop on 8th Avenue. The main pull is the guilt-free wi-fi, I can sit here for a couple of hours after ordering a frappe and a bagel and not feel like I’ve out stayed my welcome. People acknowledge each other. One guy asked me if I was doing my homework (which reminds me, last week when I told someone I had graduated, his reply was – ‘High school?’. Pfft.) and another commented on my deadly tripwire extension cord for the laptop power supply which I agreed was a death trap and slightly overkill.

I’ve never posted from a coffee shop before. Isn’t this prime blogger territory? Can I be in part of the cool blogging crowd now?

Gazing around I speculate at what each writer was working on. Maybe they are writing an epic novel, please not a Twilight clone. Maybe a poet with a restless soul pouring out romance, trying to be a modern-day Keats. The social networking addicts who I assume are Facebook stalking. The Warcraft gamers completely absorbed in their fantasy world. Or a small time blogger like me – sitting, observing, writing a little here and there. Mostly observing.

I just overheard some prize backstabbing from two women whose work colleague was now out of earshot. From what I gathered the three were working on a spot of event planning but when one left it had switched to MEOW mode. ‘She’s so difficult to work with’, ‘X creates issues that shouldn’t even be issues’ and my favorite ‘next time I’ll say, don’t give me bullshit *dramatic pause*. End of story’. Retract your claws ladies and if you can’t say anything nice….

In other news:

I checked out the University of Calgary job site and to my surprise there were three laboratory assistant jobs that didn’t need years of experience or certification I had never heard of. What the? This never happens. The application deadline is 21st so I will send a CV off tomorrow. They’re only temporary jobs but they would nicely fill a lab experience gap till I can apply to clinical embryology training and mean I finally have something after my University education to add to my resume instead of my Diploma in Life and Adapting To A New Country (Hons) with an MA in Work Permit Patience .


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Filed under Calgary, Canada, Career, Life

Demise of Snailmail?

‘What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand clasp’ ~ Unknown.

This links in with my last post….

Snail mail being eclipsed by the dominance of e-communications and the art of letter writing dying a death. Maybe I’m hopelessly nostalgic but I do love leafing through old cards, notes and letters, each carrying its own character right through from the stories and sentiments they hold down to the cursive handwriting. It’s sad the exciting aspect of receiving mail is slowly fading in the modern world, I miss eagerly awaiting the international envelope proclaiming ‘Par Avion Air Mail’ from my childhood penpals.

The importance of letter correspondence has been lost in a maze of disposable emails, faceless phone calls and convenient social networking. These all have their place in our world now – we’re in real-time sync with our friends no matter where they are, they’ve revolutionised the way we stay in touch, we’re more connected than ever before – but they still lack the charm and power of the written word. I embrace new technology, but maybe you’re thinking with my mindset I was simply born in the wrong era. I do love emails but I take time to reply to them because I don’t want to fire off a few lines without a little thought going into it so they do breed and multiply out of my control. Jen of the Penpal Project wrote a post that echoes this feeling exactly, especially the feeling of being ‘connected but disconnected at once’.

Recently Julie (blog friends are great!) pointed me in the direction of:

Postcards Exchange

Awesome, something to revive people’s forgotten passion for pen meets paper. Sending and receiving a postcard to/from a mystery country or a far-flung corner of the planet, well the idea intrigued me to say the least and Julie recommended it to keep me busy/stop going insane so sign me up! As a member of the postcrossing community you can also do direct swaps if you’re after a particular country or area to add to your collection. China and Lithuania were the first two countries I was assigned. I found two VERY English postcards of Bourne – Tudor cottages, a Dickens-esque town centre and churches brimming with history, and proceeded to tell each stranger what I loved about the place I had grown up in before going to University and hoped they enjoyed this little taste of England.

Projects like this are needed in a land of status updates and 140 characters Tweets. Interpals has revived penpalling, encouraging a whole new generation to step away from the screen and send letters, doodles, bookmarks and stickers, Interpals found me my  first (German) penfriend when I was 14. When I get settled in Canada maybe I’ll get back on the penpal wagon and find a few long-term letter friends that don’t vanish into mist. My mailbox needs some sunshine and smiles.

Dear Postcrossing,

I’m looking forward to exercising my new Canadian apartment address and holding a little piece of somewhere else in the world that has traveled across the miles to find itself in my hands.

Kind regards,

Nikki


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Filed under Life, Musings and Aphorisms

Product of Silence

If I’m trying to sleep, the ideas won’t stop.  If I’m trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness. ~Carrie Latet

February. It really felt like the short month it is. Feeling like I couldn’t contain the hours, savor any moments or halt the passage of time. Would this year just slow down please. Looking at my calendar March looks like a never-ending month in comparison, but once the days pass and time gains momentum it will be the end of another part of 2010. Despite my blog silence I have actually been working on an article for the New Scientist. I would always joke in college that I would sell my soul for a job working for National Geographic, maybe I was just swayed by the breathtaking photography which would leave me awestruck and longing to see the wonders of the world and experience nature in all its finery. New Scientist has a similar effect on me, reminding me that we are discovering things out about our world at an alarming rate. It makes me feel genuinely ‘wowed’ by science.

Rewind back a few weeks from today, I got an email in my inbox which made me very excited – ‘do you have a burning desire to write for the New Scientist?’ I had always packaged ‘scientific journalism’ in my mind and pushed it to one side as potential career path. So given my love for science and tippy-tappying on my keyboard or conjuring up torrents of words in a journal you can imagine my delight in finding this email. They are offering a 6 month paid internship in their London office. Despite the painful long experience of waiting for my Canadian work visa (and being stuck in rural nothingness) I knew if I was to get accepted I would be stupid not to take it as it would be such a brilliant experience. Like a stepping stone and a shove in the right direction.

Luckily soul selling was not involved. All they wanted was for me to have a science degree and craft a 400 word article on a scientific advancement. I picked my favorite topic – ‘reproduction’ – and went about putting together an article on a recent discovery of channels in the sperm membrane which have been found to be linked with their swimming capabilities. You can imagine all the intrigue this has caused in the science community and the implications of this for contraception and conversely tweaking sperm to make them vigorous swimmers. So, to me it seemed like something ‘fun’ to write about. Now 400 words seems such a minuscule amount, especially when you’ve churned out thousands upon thousands for a dissertation, but 400 words is so hard to write when you have much to say. Painstaking research went into it beyond just reading the one research paper – watching their lab videos, contacting the main researcher for photos, reading the rest of the science communities reactions. I was mostly terrified of getting the facts wrong and science is all about integrity and not taking shortcuts (rules to live by in life too). Cue me checking every detail, oh dear the perfectionist in me!

Now in all honesty I went to all this effort because it would be silly of me to let an opportunity slip through my fingers like that. I’m sure there will be people applying with a string of published articles or who have religiously written for their college newspapers. For that reason alone I’m not pinning any high hopes on this. But I need to start taking chances, living a little, you never know what might happen when you do.

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Filed under Career, Life, Science