Tag Archives: Passion

Travel Writing: The BIG Dream

I’ve had this blog going for a couple years now and hardly brought myself to admit out loud, or I suppose, in type, the reality of my big dream. That one that stays hush-hush thanks to doubt and the perpetual fear of public failure. But that said, I did quit my fulltime job, spent countless hours years training myself to work independently, practicing, editing, scraping and pitching, all while attempting to remain transparent here, so why not just say it?
I want to be a travel writer.

The dream is to fly, road-trip, sail, and hike the different continents, countries, and towns of the world, forever searching for their words. I want to share places, experiences, cultures and (at times) sidestep that ever-bubbly whisper of romanticism. As much as travel can benefit, there’s this underlying prerequisite when writing about it to fluff it up and exaggerate a growth and spirituality that supposedly comes with stepping foot onto new soil. I get it, travel is wonderful. Epic even. Do I need to reinvent myself every flight I take? No.

I think travel and the image of hiking boots toeing the ledge of a cliff and inspirational quotes plastered in calligraphy against a wide blue sky, play against the back of my eyelids.

But that’s not enough for me.

A trend has come to my attention as of late and I hate it: Women don’t have a spot carved out in travel entertainment.

Our sweet spot tends to be the romanticized, spiritual, paths of self-discovery. Those stories are love ballots to ourselves. Which in itself, I won’t deny, has a beauty to it. Emotion is a large component of honest writing and we can play that tune in our sleep.When it comes to writing about travel, can’t we be more than ourselves in turmoil? Don’t we have more to offer than that?

I do. And I’m ready to prove it.

Watch out, Bourdain and Bryson. I’m coming for ya.

Advertisements

Writing Routines 101: My Tips to Acing It

People love to ask me how long it takes to write certain pieces or how I find income through this crazy thing called the internet. I’m asked about the self-control it takes to sit in front of a screen for hours on end, typing away obsessively, completely devoid of the mindless entertainment bliss that is Netflix or reddit. Well, the truth is, I don’t.

I don’t sit for hours on end attempting to binge-write. Binging is great with tv shows or reading or donuts, but it’s really not all that workable for writing. Writing is a practice that demands patience and creativity and creative interjection doesn’t get summoned at will. It’s finicky and particular and although you can cultivate space and moods to help it along, it’s really its own drum-beater.

It’s taken many months for me to figure out my own routine and just as long to recognize the things that were sabotaging it. Things like guilt because I felt I was screwing up or wasting time on a pursuit that had negligible gains in its early days, or ‘responsible distraction,’ that wonderful excuse to leave my work for the social demands of friendship or the cuddling needs of my pup. It’s so easy to find something to be preoccupied by when you’re meant to be sitting alone with your mind and a blank word document in front of you. So here are my tips and tricks to creating a completely feasible and comfortable writing routine that doesn’t have you chained to your desk:

1. Designate a writing space.
I spent months writing wherever I plopped myself down. Sometimes that was on the couch, or the floor or my bed or at the kitchen counter as I leaned awkwardly Continue reading Writing Routines 101: My Tips to Acing It

The Quarter-Life Crisis. My Experience

 

Fear, an anxiety that burrows deep and this incredibly urgent desire to ‘escape’ are some of the symptoms of the little documented, newly prevalent crisis that is sweeping through my generation and most familiarly, within my own social circle.

Even now, as I type this my fellow mid-twenties to mid-thirtyers  are fumbling through this early on-set predicament. And I get it. I know what it is and I understand the anxiety and discomfort it’s coupled with. I’ve been there. When I took off to BC for an undetermined Continue reading The Quarter-Life Crisis. My Experience

Searched Far And Wide. Now It’s Real

Goldilocks wandered the home of the bears, plopping her bottom atop chairs too big and too small, stuffing her face with porridges too hot and too cold and playing mattress roulette like she was a valued customer at Sealy’s. Sure, she may have been dabbling in a high stakes game of breaking and entering in the lair of a family of bears and her particularity verged on fussiness, but her intention was to satisfy a basic desire of ours to just be comfortable.

Never thought I’d say it…but I get it. I get the need to wait; To hold off for that perfect fit.


I started this search over a year ago. A relentless, stubborn, tedious and exceedingly self-severe quest onto myself.

Too big. Too small. Too plain. Too extravagant.

I became real life Goldilocks. But I wasn’t in search of a mattress (although that’s on the list), nor was I taste-testing breakfast gruel. I had this corner of my apartment cleared, found a chair that wasn’t only comfortable but sexy in that way only good furniture can be and daydreamed openly about the better half I’d be setting it up with.

My desk was out there and I was going to find it.

Now, sitting back, with my feet propped beneath its luxuriously finished, glossy top I’m not only the proud owner of a new desk, I’m also finally feeling like a  writer. A real life, bona-fide writer. Well, at least I’m a step closer to that bombshell in my own mind.

As I explored and scrutinized stores throughout Toronto and endlessly browsed pictures online, it became clear that this single piece of furniture wasn’t just a single piece of furniture anymore. It was important. Somehow this new ambition of mine, this new endeavour that demanded the risk of jumping blind, wouldn’t be real until I was working towards it from behind this desk. Investing in it became a priority not just to fill a space in my home, but to make this whole thing an actuality.

I really won’t be a writer until I’m holding a copy of my own, physical book in my hands, but, damn…I’m almost there.

Playing It Cool. Super Mantra-ing

There’s a time for everything. A time for quiet, for speaking out, for being stubborn and for giving in. Lately, it’s been my time to play it cool.

Busy. So busy. Play it cool.

Meetings, conferences, deadlines and rush. Play it cool.

Don’t neglect your friends. Drag yourself out of bed to have a drink with a heartbroken bud even though you need to be up in 5 hours. Play it cool.

Writing, writing, writing. Edit. Write some more. Play it cool. Wait, did I run yet today?? Play it cool.

Playing it cool is just surviving with an easy expression plastered to your face even if your shoulders are tense or even if there’s butterflies playing smash bros. in your stomach. Generally I’m laid back, but this is a new level of mantra-ing even for me. What is this mantra-ing I speak of? It’s the secret to success. Too far? I actually don’t think so.
A mantra may sound like I’m going all hippie/yogi on you guys here, but it’s actually so much more universal than that. It’s the secret to playing it cool. I discovered mine more by accident than in active search. Somewhere on the side of a hill that just wasn’t ending, my brain was trying to logic my body into keeping its stride. Logic just doesn’t have the upper hand when it comes to lung capacity though and my lungs were pretending they had no more space for the oxygen I was sucking up. ‘Liar,’ I accused. Another deep breathe. ‘Breath. Push.’ Those words, that’s all it took to set my pace again. It reined in all the logic-ing, all the complaints and refocused that frustration. A good run wasn’t going to end on a crappy note just because a few kilometres back I had thought ending at the top of this hill was a brilliant life decision.

‘Breath. Push.’

Each time my foot hit the concrete I would think the word ‘push.’ It was the metronome to my run, to my pace and stride, distracting the ache and playing off my naturally stubborn nature. At the top of the hill I stopped, resting my hands on my hips, huffing like the classiest of struggling civics and didn’t think another second about the magical words. (Because come on now, you aren’t thinking anything at the top of a hill while resembling a dying honda).

Days later the words would slip back into my mind amidst another physically trying, self-induced adventure. Then again a week later. Sometimes the words would change on me. I caught myself picking only one word to mentally yell at myself, or changing it all up completely. I was going farther. I was getting faster. I had discovered magic. Or, less Hogwarts-y, my mantra.

It wouldn’t be until I was suffering writers block and feeling the burn of being over-worked and generally just feeling grumpy that my magic words would sneak up on me without the pressure of a hill beneath my feet. ‘Well then. This is a thing then, huh,?’ I had thought. My collection of playing it cool worthy mantras has since grown and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

My ‘off-the-top-of-my-head’ mantra list:

1. (The classic)  Breath. Push.
2. I’m stronger than I think.
3. Don’t Whine.
4. You’ll be proud later.
5. Be better than yesterday.
6. Keeping writing.
7. Get your shit together.
8. You’ve got this.
9. Go with it.
10. It’s worth it.

These words, my mantras, have a power to them. They’re so simple. So classically unassuming. But heed my warning: they’re not to be solely relied upon. If you start whispering these lines to yourself, your world isn’t going to flip and you’re not going to turn superman on anyone or anything. Self control, confidence and an inclination towards stubbornness are highly encouraged. You ARE stronger than you think and a mantra is meant to be used as a tool. It’s helpful but not a problem solver. It won’t jot down words on the page for you or transport you to the top of the hill, but it can encourage, focus and keep you in the moment.

Pursuing Writing. For Serious

Committing myself to writing each day has been super trying. My brain has been very strictly kept tracing along a scientific dotted line for years and now I expect and demand creativity on a daily basis. That’s actually just cruel of me. Yet, here I am. Still writing.

This isn’t something I believed myself capable of. I’ve never thought my writing strong or sure enough to carry me. A gamble as big as I’ve taken is almost laughable with that track record. When I was a kid I danced through career potentials and landed firmly on Zoologist for the greater portion of my youth. It actually wasn’t until applying for university that I ‘responsibly’ sought more job rich studies. Hence, Environmental Resource Management. Funnily enough, I was bored out of my mind in this program and found much more comfort and stimuli in my minor in Biology and even greater joy in any Zoology course I could get my brain on.

Labs, dissections, proposals, research assignments, endless papers with formal citations and theoretical and scientific jargon got me through school.

Years of work in zoos, aquariums, animal rehabilitation centres and emergency veterinary clinics followed. I’ve bottle fed tigers, cleaned up after way too many species, led enrichment programs, rescued orphaned and injured wildlife and everything else linked directly to an animal related profession.

And now, I write. I write in the personal, in the abstract and with as few professional references as I can manage. From the blog posts I make, to the articles I submit to help finance this life of mine right now, and straight back to this book I’ve been working on, it’s all me playing by my own rules. I’m flying by the seam of my pants here. This is me taking a chance on something I’ve come to be passionate about. Sure, my confidence likes to waver, and yes, I read much better work on a regular basis from anyone but me, but this is where I’m going right now. I’d like to imagine that this writing commitment is similar to practicing an instrument. You play and play until you improve. The songs become more sure in themselves under your fingers and the masterpieces slide inch by inch closer into your reach. I’m hoping, by sitting here each day, and clicking away on this lap top, my words, sentences, thoughts and ideas are getting firmer. My personality starting to maybe slither between lines and my witticism not only audible in my own head all the time. I want my writing to just keep getting better. I want to grow and stretch in this new endeavour and find the footing I’ve been stumbling for. Maybe it’s coming. Maybe I’m onto something here. Maybe if I just keep writing…

Dear Sketchers, I Missed You. Love, Liz

With the air no longer stinging of ice and our sun forgiving the harshness of winter, I’ve been able to start running outside again. This is huge news! We live in Canada! You have any idea how hard it is to run in the winter months? Ice, suffocating wind and treacherous slush and snow bank obstacles make it almost a death wish – well, death for your poor lungs, ankles and knees mostly. I’ve been cooped up and antsy, despite my absorption into yoga and treadmill runs. I can act the part of yogi well enough, but it’s just not me. Bare feet and mats have nothing on solid earth and my sketchers.

Running is where I belong. This is my niche. It began years ago when I was a broke student suffering through a harmful relationship. Running was cheaper than therapy or booze. I ran to escape. I ran to feel. It became a life raft.

Today, I laced up, threw on a sweater and set off. I don’t listen to music while I run. I don’t carry my phone.
I am alone. I am strength. I am only me.

For years I’ve tentatively spoken of training and running in a half marathon or even just a 10km fundraiser but shied away with petty excuses as my only defence. As a new and sorely overdue commitment for this year, I’m going to ignore my aversions. By the end of this year I want to say that I’ve ran with purpose.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

The Hazards of Commitment

#3. Committing to a job, but aren’t passionate about the work.

#2. Committing to a relationship, but not enjoying the other person.

#1. Committing to yourself, but overlooking the love of others.

Beneath the commitments that rule our lives is an importance that is easily forgotten. It’s simple to remove passion from work when you are blinded by the almighty dollar. We work to appease a lifestyle, we work to earn a living and we sometimes dread Monday mornings with a terrible ferocity. Being passionate about work can be a challenge but it’s worth every bit of effort. Even when the passion is kept in our work ethic, or the happiness that we can bring to coworkers, it doesn’t need to be solely about a job title. When you love someone, you can overlook the beauty of just enjoying them. All the charms that built the relationship are ignored at later dates just because we’ve become complacent and indifferent to them. Love is blind in more than one way. Being able to sink into the comfort and playful antics of the ‘honeymoon phase’ is important no matter the duration of a relationship. And finally, while we commit to building ourselves and bettering who we are we sometimes neglect those around us that have been there silently shaping and encouraging all those improvements from the beginning. Friends and family that want nothing but the best for us fall to the wayside in our private strive for self fulfillment.

Commitments have the potential to make us happier, healthier and genuinely better people. Finding a balance and always remembering why these commitments are made is as important as keeping them.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
-L.M. Montgomery

Cheers to a year of keeping track.