Category Archives: Journal

Non-fiction writing about what is currently happening in the life of the author of clarkewrite.com.

Here it comes! 50…Fabulous? Yes.

                        Fab@50

Dear Wonderful Community of Readers/Writers,

I will be celebrating my 50th Birthday on August the 7th, 2015.  I am so happy!  Family and Friends will be joining me for a garden luncheon in my backyard on the Saturday.  I managed to get over 24 people to come celebrate with me in the middle of high vacation time here in Ontario, Canada.  Now I have a small house and garden (not to mention very small budget) and I have had to rent tables, chairs, dishes, glasses, and cutlery and ask for the wonderful help of friends and family to pull it all off. Small extravagances such as half the food being catered and a Merry Maids house clean the day before have really pushed my humble budget of $1000. A looming strike has made me scale back on decor and extravagant spending!  Thank goodness the garden is pretty already. I am organized and ready for the big event. Most importantly, I am ready to be FIFTY!

Now I cannot brag that I am in the best shape in my life…actually bad knees and a new excruciating pain in my bottom left heel have curbed a lot of extended walking of late but not the eating.  I do eat green veggies as much as is humanly possible and avoid too many prepared foods, too much sugar and salt as well as take out fast food. I could do better and its on my to do list to finally stick to a millionth diet and lose the belly fat.  Exercise daily!  I didn’t do this in my twenties or thirties as work took up a great deal of my time. There is a lot of pressure out there to be the new 40 at 50 but folks I just want to love being 50…I am no longer expected to take up jogging…if I just walk regularly and for long distances people will be amazed! And it is definitely more exercise than I did in my thirties. So I am so happy to join the walkers’ club and I am thinking of getting those Nordic Walking Pole things in preparation for my walker with wheels in my 80s! However, I can still walk a great (yet painful) distance and this I am thankful for!

The pressure to be “sexy” is gone.  No man looks at me anymore unless he wants to sell me something–very clear– no misconceptions here. This I noticed most profoundly in the company of my two young beautiful nieces at the local mall recently.  Was I sad? No. What freedom!  I can leave the house without mascara and lipstick and not one person gives me the “OMG look at her stare”.   I am invisible.  Yippee!  What power I feel being unnoticed.  I CAN DO ANYTHING!!! I can be seen in blue and green! I can wear white sandals before Victoria Day. I can wear a mumu in public.  Also at 50,  I don’t really care what other people think of my appearance. I am clean and clothes are laundered and my smile is pretty friendly. I am finding being comfortable in my clothes, shoes, in fact my own skin is the sexiest I have ever felt in my life. I am a natural woman of FIFTY!

I stopped dying my hair to discover just what is going on up there as far as grey.  Glad to say there is a lovely silvery grey coming in quite nicely. Lovely to feel the natural texture and wave of my hair and no frizz! Thankfully the skin is still pretty wrinkle free with a few more larger freckles here and there (Sunspots? Ha! I call them my 50 year old freckles!)  I like my grey hair and freckled skin. My scalp feels great…no itches or rashes from the harsh dyes. Its me and its freeing! No more covering up what Mother nature gave me. Good bye expensive hair dying! Good bye expensive cover up! Hello more money for fun things like gardening, sewing,theatre, orchestra, opera and technological devices! Hello authentic ME!I

I love that I have entered that era of my life where there is less expected of me in my career. It is my decade of winding down. I am not being bitter just honestly observant of certain realities in the education field.  I am not expected to be a career blazer. My talents and skills are completely overlooked as I am over 40 years of age and beyond my “best” promotion years. I keep learning innovative ways to teach students because I love my students and I love teaching. I don’t have to take additional qualifications to get better jobs…I already have enough of  them! I don’t have to volunteer my free time to run 10 extra-curricular clubs to impress the new boss and some self-entitled bullying parents. I run a few clubs because I love sharing my time and talents with kids and I don’t care if the parents or principals appreciate this I know my students do. I know now no matter what I do it will go unappreciated and unnoticed by most principals because of my 50 and over status. This is a trend I have observed in my particular board of education for the last 10 years. I have noticed that the ideas and reflections of my brilliant experienced colleagues in the 50 and over set are rarely listened to or valued in staff meetings and that the over 50 club rarely get sent to training workshops. More time with my students. More time to quietly sit and contemplate my garden or walks with the dogs. I love it! Experience is no longer valued in the field of education…your ability to tweet cute pictures of kids in highly decorated classrooms is what is valued now. I am not immune to the whole social media and communication pressure but I tweet parenting resources because in this crazy busy world parents need all the help they can get! It is so relaxing to have no expectations of grandeur. Now I can just be with the kids and enjoy the first and most important reason I became a teacher—the love of learning with children. It’s wonderful.

At 50, I am at  the threshold of a whole new world of learning, adventure and self-discovery.  At 50, I am thankful for the love and wisdoms of family and friends that share a life journey with me and blessed that I miss and remember those loved ones and their wisdoms whom have passed.  At 50, I feel fabulous!

Thanks for reading and please leave a comment about your reflections about being 50 or becoming 50 or being beyond 50! Looking forward to your contributions.

K Fab@50!

Political Rally Novice! What to Wear and Bring?

I went to a political rally for the first time in my 50 years.  I had resolved at my 45th birthday to become more than an armchair political activist.  I joined my riding association for the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Ontario and Canada.  I did not know what I was getting into or what I could do to help but I bravely joined a small committed group of social democrats. Since that time I have taken meeting minutes, folded and prepared flyers, attended various meetings, and helped create fundraisers for our local Candidate Michelle Bilek.

It was fun except I have to say some of the men in politics can be egomaniacs who like to hear themselves talk—A LOT. Also there is some sexism going on where the men do the talking and decision making while women do the minutes, food, meeting supplies etc.  I tried to fight against this sexist model…its hard.  There are those men though that have joined 21st century thinking and see us more than the good quiet little workers of the political party. However everyone in our little band of hopeful left leaning progressives contributed political saavy, feet to the pavement, cooking skills, event planning skills to get our NDP Candidate 10 % and increasingly more voter percentage over 5 years of federal and provincial elections in a highly conservative stronghold in Mississauga.We also contribute money as well as time.  I have a new respect for the teams of people who work to get their political representatives elected.  It is hard work and most or all is voluntary.  It is hard to believe in that active 5 years I had never attended a federal political rally!

On July 25th, at the Shingar Banquet Hall in my least favourite city in Peel Region, Brampton, I attended the Peel Rally For Change. Well what does one bring to a political rally?  I brought my chequebook…I knew that was a given because usually the NDP is desperate for funds. My cell phone had died so no photo ops possible.  I didn’t know if I was allowed to bring a camera, so I decided to travel light and not bring one (my first novice mistake). Due to my discomfort in crowds, I left in just the right time to get there and park (mistake number two). I did bring a pen and forgot to pack my writer’s notebook (I realized mistake number 3 later). Now understand that our party leader and current Leader of the Opposition of the Government of Canada was coming to speak. Somehow I didn’t quite believe it.  A great political leader was coming to speak to the lumping proletariat in Brampton?!!! I think it is a first.  It’s true I was completely unprepared for what the NDP Rally For Change was all about.

Next, I had to consider dress.  Business casual or a T-shirt slogan and slacks combo?  Summer  turquoise purse…will I be searched because the possible next Prime Minister will be there? So I decided on navy blue sleeveless shirt, denim capris and a lovely orange scarf (the colour of the NDP) a friend had brought me from Bangladesh.   I wore orthotic sandals, a little mascara and swipe of summer wine lipstick and off I went.

http://farheenkhan.ndp.ca/electric-energy-at-peel-rally-for-change-with-tom-mulcair
Thomas Mulcair with NDP Candidate and Her Supporters

When I arrived on time, it was too easy to find parking and too easy to find a comfortable seat.  I thought the place would be so crowded.  I wasn’t sure which way the speakers were facing as there was three huge raised stages and lots of tall NDP supporters. It was hard to see for this shorty.  I chose my favourite claustrophobic spot  in the banquet hall —an aisle seat near the exit and near the washrooms!

Image result for NDP Rally for Change Peel Region

NDP candidates volunteers walked through the crowd distributing Thomas Mulcair NDP signs and Ready For Change signs.  People met and networked.  After waiting for an hour checking out the delightful multicultural crowd of men, women, young and old , the rally began with some Bhangra Drumming which got the excitement going and blood pumping!  I realized my mistake of seat. All I was going to see was the backs and tops of heads and some big hats and turbans.

I realized the huge screen TVs were not to give me a great view of all the speakers but were teleprompters to keep things on message! The speeches and energy were great.  We were encouraged to post pictures and messages on Facebook and Twitter.  Thomas Mulcair was an impressive speaker inspiring the crowd to cheer NDP! and TM4PM in rapid loud chanting fashion.  When he mentioned the dismal record of the our 11 year Harper Conservative Government the crowd yelled out boo and shame.  It was so much fun! I could see the back of Thomas Mulcair`s head and his left profile when he panned to the crowd.  At the end he graciously shook hands and took photos with his supporters and candidates.   I was glad I came to hear Thomas Mulcair speak. In less than 85 days from now, I might just be bragging  that I sat 10 meters from our New Canadian Prime Minister.

In the end, I learned to bring a camera, digital social media device and a notebook.  Get there early so you can get a seat near the speakers podium…the TVs are teleprompters not for getting a better view of the speakers! Also avoid sitting behind tall people. The most important thing I learned about political rallies is that you go there to show support for your candidates of choice.  So for my first political rally I think I did just fine.

TM4PM! NDP!!!

Container Planting Ideas from Camden Maine

Ah Summer! I really enjoy Carolyn’s Shade Garden Blog. It has great inspirational ideas , helpful tips and beautiful photos of various gardens. if you love to garden you will enjoy following this blog too!

CAROLYN'S SHADE GARDENS

Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-35-55 PMThe display outside a storefront in Camden, Maine.

Michael and I visited Camden, Maine, for the third year in a row to attend the 68th Annual Camden Garden Club House and Garden Tour.  Readers love my posts from Maine so I took lots of photos while I was there.  The garden club maintains most of the public spaces in Camden and seems to have inspired the town to go wild with containers outside many of the homes and businesses.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed for the summer and will reopen in the fall.  To get all the details, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Let us know if you are particularly interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas.  For the miniature hosta catalogue, click here.  For the snowdrop catalogue, click here.

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Camden Containers 7-14-2015 5-34-06 PM.

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Just don’t do it

I just love this feminist analysis of women and linguistic styles. Well argued and humorous. A must read. Just do it. K 🙂

language: a feminist guide

This week everyone’s been talking about an article in the Economist explaining how men’s use of language undermines their authority. According to the author, a senior manager at Microsoft, men have a bad habit of punctuating everything they say with sentence adverbs like ‘actually’, ‘obviously’, ‘seriously’ and ‘frankly’. This verbal tic makes them sound like pompous bullshitters, so that people switch off and stop listening to what they’re saying. If they want to be successful, this is something men need to address.

OK, people haven’t been talking about that article—mainly because I made it up. No one writes articles telling men how they’re damaging their career prospects by using the wrong words. With women, on the other hand, it’s a regular occurrence. This post was inspired by a case in point: a piece published last month in Business Insider, in which a former Google executive named Ellen Petry Leanse…

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Summertime! Now what…

Clarke...Write!

Swimming Pool Avoid Deep Dives

“Avoid Deep Dives”   is good advice for my summer.  There are many perils to be aware of when deep diving.  If I just recklessly hurl myself into any body of water– is the water deep enough? First of all, I could break a limb, snap a neck, or rip open my belly.  Is it clear of unaware people and obstacles that I might damage or indeed hurt myself with in return? Do I have the kind of bathing suit that will survive the impact and not be ripped embarrassingly from my naked body or get wrenched up painfully into delicate unsuspecting crevices? Have I taken a deep breath and plugged my nose? Will the temperature of the water give me hypothermic shock? Is anyone watching and thinking cruel thoughts about my diving dress and technique? Will I make a gargantuan splash or set about endless elegant ripples with a near…

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Summertime! Avoid Deep Dives.

Swimming Pool
                 Avoid Deep Dives

“Avoid Deep Dives”   is good advice for my summer.  There are many perils to be aware of when deep diving.  If I just recklessly hurl myself into any body of water– is the water deep enough? First of all, I could break a limb, snap a neck, or rip open my belly.  Is it clear of unaware people and obstacles that I might damage or indeed hurt myself with in return? Do I have the kind of bathing suit that will survive the impact and not be ripped embarrassingly from my naked body or get wrenched up painfully into delicate unsuspecting crevices? Have I taken a deep breath and plugged my nose? Will the temperature of the water give me hypothermic shock? Is anyone watching and thinking cruel thoughts about my diving dress and technique? Will I make a gargantuan splash or set about endless elegant ripples with a near splashless entry into the water? Do I jump in feet first in an elegant pike or riskier yet  a perfect swan dive hand clasps in an arc above my head body straight and toes pointed straight just so?  So many things to consider when diving!

The summertime is an huge expanse of deep time that many would envy.  I have two months off.  July and August.  I could do so much!  I could deep dive into a very busy, productive and social summer!  Or I could dip in a toe and paddle a bit by the pool side and gradually slip into the water one body part at a time soaking in the cool and adjusting to feeling the water like a blanket of warmth. I am growing tired of the excitement and breathtaking thrill of deep diving and now as I approach the summer of my 50th birthday I want to luxuriate and linger and to slow down…no big commitments.   I might not make a big splash this summer. I think it is time to avoid deep dives.

I did it! Christmas Alone

Christmas Day All Alone Aaaachooo!
Christmas Day All Alone Aaaachooo!

I was alone for Christmas. Despised and rejected due to an unexpected gift…a touch of flu. Not wanting to spread the joyless gift to my unsuspecting relatives and friends I remained at home. Alone. I refused to feel sorry for myself. I decided to be fully present in the moment of my seclusion. I cozied up with a blanket and hot cup of tea and my faithful companion Esme and immersed myself in movies on Netflix. I watched Romantics Anonymous and enjoyed its charm thoroughly. But now what? I had not including afternoon naps of wellness at least 10 more hours to fill  my home- alone Christmas Day. As the feelings of loneliness and self pity threatened to overwhelm me, I chose instead to plan Family Day in February. I sent out save-the-date evites and planned a delicious menu. Stuffed Chicken Breast, Beef Wellington, Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Orange Glazed Carrots, Ginger Garlic Green Beans, fruit and cheese and trifle for dessert. Yum! I would plan it to be a buffet. Family did call before dinner to see how I was. I could hear the fun and business of Christmas Day in the background…wishing I was there and enjoying the delicious smells of turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven. I wished all well and poured myself some gingerale. More movies…more planning the menu for February Family Day and many naps later I made it 10 p.m. on Christmas Day. Esme looked at me expectantly…outside for a quick pee, a bedtime treat of dried liver, than off to bed. I did it. Christmas Alone. The world did not end. Remarkable!

Free Falls

photo
Picture taken by friend E.M.

I found engaging in Free Falls the best way to get into the zone of writing. Read something for inspiration. Look at a photo. Hear a snippet of someone else’s conversation or suggest a character setting and problem and then for 5 to 10 minutes write like a fool. Do not edit, revise or worry about the best word right now. Just splat your brain down onto the page. If you are by yourself set a timer. At Haliburton School of the Arts  our instructor, Catherine Graham, read a passage  from Ralph Keyes’ The Courage to Write and then said Free Fall write for the next 10 minutes.

I thought about writing…I thought that writing felt selfish like time away from others.  I thought of mothers and how they can be very selfish about their own child. Mothers will put their child above all other children deserving or not, husbands, parents, friends and so on. Mothers are not cursed or shamed or questioned when they do this.  It is considered natural. No matter how destructive some of their choices are in putting their child first, society condones these very selfish acts and then calls it self-sacrificing…a virtuous act of motherhood. I thought I must treat my writing like my child.  I must put my writing above all other obligations, loves, passions etc in my life.  I should live  for writing. F or now I am not published as yet,  so I cannot claim to write to live.  Yes, I must do anything to live to write.

I will post my revised and edited piece about writing being my child soon.  Haven’t thought of a title for it yet.

When I am stuck  for writing now I go to my writer’s notebook and look for something to twig my interest or inspire me. Then I put on my online timer for 10 minutes.  On your mark get set go! Perhaps this photo will inspire me today…morning sun, reflecting lake, clouds drifting carrying away the dreams of the night, the ball of the sun skipping like a rock over smooth water…..Give it a try.  On your mark, get set, Free Fall!

Commitment to Write

Every Song Tells a Story by Randy Bachman

July 14th, 2013

Morning time. The house is quiet. Finally. I know it is important for me to write everyday and to carry a writer’s notebook wherever I go. Randy Bachman said his writer’s toolkit is the kids’ left over crayons and serviettes in the glove compartment of his car. He as a songwriter knows that inspiration will strike and if you don’t write it down then and there…you will forget it. So now I will carry a little notebook and pen in my purse. This is a good act of commitment to writing.

The other act of commitment is to decide a regular time to write. Some writer’s are morning writers and some are afternoon or evening writers. My creative time of day I have not yet decided. The necessity of making a living dictates that my time belongs to others from 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday. I know in my work life I get creative at 4 p.m. when many people have left for the day. The building becomes quiet and all the crazy energy goes…I can think, put on the music I enjoy sans judgement or annoying others…and all resources are available… no waiting for the photocopier, printer etc. No interruptions except for the cleaning staff and then I feel like I am in their way. But we find our way to work around each other.

It seems I need my spaces to be free of busy energy from others. I can think and imagine. I can talk out loud or reread what I have written out loud without bothering anyone. So I think I need to find times in the day that are quiet…settled. I can breathe then more deeply. Create more freely. On weekends mornings are best. After two Keurig coffee’s and cereal, after the dog gets walked I can start. Weekdays will be a challenge. So many things to accomplish upon arrival at home.

But this is a commitment to writing. It is one of the things I must accomplish upon arriving home. Rituals are important. Maybe I will arrive home from work, have a cup of Maharaja Chai Oolong tea, walk the dog, start dinner and while it cooks, write. This is a possibility. Yes this is a commitment I can make.