Ten Memorable Moments of 2013

blue-firework

1. Travel. Taking the kids to Cuba for the second year in a row, splashing around in the warm ocean and visiting historical Havana.
2. Birthdays. Celebrating another year with the people I love most.
3. Dancing. Watching my daughter on stage; watching my children dance around the house with pure abandon.
4. Quiet days. Not having to go to work every day.
5. Camping on the beach. Searching for sea glass, building sand castles, campfires by the shore.
6. Water park. Our first visit to Magic Mountain in Moncton, NB.
7. Favourite things. Having time to read, write, knit, and take many, many pictures.
8. Fencing. Seeing my son delight in a new activity.
9. Outdoors. Fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and yes, even snow.
10. Christmas. Another holiday spent with my favourite people.

I’ve Been Published!

published-article

I opened the paper this morning, and there I was!

I had recently submitted a Christmas story to our local paper, The Northern Light, and had no idea whether it would make it into the Christmas stories section. Not only did it make it in, but I got my own headline, too!

Here is the story I wrote:

The Paper Tree
by Dawn Blanchard

In November 1997 I boarded a plane bound for Japan. I had been hired to teach English in Hamamatsu, and I was on my way.

Twenty-five hours and more than 10,000 km later, I arrived jetlagged but excited in Osaka. The Shinkansen (more commonly known as the “Bullet Train”) took me to my new home. For the next year, I would be living with a girl from England and one from Northern Ireland.

Christmas in Japan is significantly different from in Canada. For one thing, it is not a national holiday. On that first Christmas in a foreign country, I had to teach for the full day while back home my family was celebrating. Christmas in Japan was more a romantic holiday than a family one; gifts exchanged among couples were more common than those given to children.

A whipped cream, strawberry-topped Christmas cake could be bought; a roasted turkey could not. Department stores were decorated for the occasion. Intricately designed stationary and holiday-themed anime lined the shelves.

There was not, however, a Christmas tree to be found.

My roommates and I did our best to make the holiday festive. We cooked a meal of vegetables, rice, and chicken, and toasted with sake. We even bought a Christmas cake.

There were a few gifts wrapped in Christmas paper that had been sent from our families, but the ones we bought for each other were wrapped in plain paper. There was no silvery garland to hang from the ceiling; there were no snowmen to stand on shelves. We had gifts, but no tree to put them under.

So, I decided to make one.

On a large sheet of yellow paper, I outlined a Christmas tree with black marker. We drew a feathery garland and added a few sporadic ornaments in green and red and blue. One of us drew a crooked star at the top.

Published in The Northern Light, December 24th, 2013.

My Scrapbook of Words

word-book

I love words.

In fact, I love words so much that I collect them.

Every now and then, the kids and I sit down with some old magazines and cut them apart. For them, it is a creative mishmash of random details that become otherworldly creatures. For me, it is a scavenger hunt for juicy words.

These words become a reference for my writing, inspiration for poems, and a teaching tool for lessons (when I was teaching full-time) and my kids (talk about a way to increase vocabulary!).

This book is where I keep them.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Good Morning

keyboard

I just snapped this photo for this week’s photo challenge…

Every morning, before the kids are up, I sit at my computer with my coffee. It is my quiet way to start the day. I check the weather, my emails, and yes, Facebook. It is also when I write my blog, and work on other writing.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/photo-challenge-morning/

Glossy Pages

glossy pages

There is something about a new magazine, pages all glossy and unread, that I just love.

I start by flipping cover to cover, page by page. Then I go back and read each article while I sit with my coffee.

Some are better than others.

But even when they are shallow and fairly useless, I enjoy every page.

(Pictured is a snippet of the article, “How I Got Over My Empty-Nest Syndrome” by Ann Bauer – neither shallow nor useless – from Ladies Home Journal, September 2013.)

Where my Writing Lives

stories

This is where my stories and poems live.

I create them on the computer, but I keep them in a notebook. In black ink, I hand-write each one, then place the journal on my shelf with all my other books.

This way, I can’t lose them with a computer breakdown or a lost USB. They are organized and (sort of) published. This way, I make them a part of my book collection and I give them value.

I love to write. And I love books.

This way, I get both.

Ten Ways to Enjoy the Little Things

flowerburst-edited

September is here. And with it, new activities, schedules, homework, packing lunches, and hectic mornings. In a small attempt to take the quiet moments of summer with me, I have compiled a list of things I have learned about appreciating the small details. With any luck, I will remember a few in the midst of rushing the kids from one commitment to the next. Here’s what I came up with:

Ten Ways to Enjoy the Little Things

1. Look for small details. There is beauty everywhere. The daisy poking through the sidewalk, the peeling paint on a door, the reflection of light in the teapot.
2. Close your eyes. Listen to every sound.
3. Pick up your pen. Write about everything, including the dust on the bookshelf and the dishes in the sink. There is a story there.
4. Go out with your camera. It helps to focus and be in the moment.
5. Be still. Stop rushing and notice the surroundings.
6. Go for a walk. Breathe deeply. Look and listen.
7. Read poetry. It celebrates the little things.
8. See the world through a child’s eyes. Everything is delightful to a toddler discovering the world.
9. Get up earlier than everyone else in the house. Listen to the quiet. Watch the sun come up. Savour the taste of coffee.
10. Turn off the computer, the tablets, the phones. What have you been missing?

The Writing Life

read-edited-2

Sometimes, it is the words on a page that give me pause.

I love to learn from books, to gather ideas from books. At the moment, I am reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I am slowly beginning to think of myself as a writer, aiming to have published work. But here is always that tiny inner voice, that is cause for hesitation.

This book makes me believe that I can, that I am.

It is the definition of inspiration.