I is for Ideas

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. So far, so good.

I always find it a bit puzzling when people ask me where I get my ideas because I am never really conscious of looking for them, they just kind of tumble out.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t help someone create the conditions for coming up with good ideas themselves, though. I *am* a creativity coach and ideas are usually the first step.

Personally, I think that people generally have a lot of ideas but they have a mental filter in place so the ideas are ‘caught’ before they make it to the conscious mind. So, the trick becomes in teaching yourself to let those ideas make it to a part of the brain where they can be recorded – giving yourself permission to have all kinds of ideas, silly, serious or anything in between.

It’s a bit like when I took a drawing workshop a few years ago and my instructor mentioned that step one in learning to draw is learning to SEE. What she meant by that was they we need to see objects as made of lines, and shapes and light, not just as a solid unit. When we are trying to be creative and find ideas, we have to learn to break down ‘units’ of thought into their component ideas. Then we can take those pieces and look at them different ways and see where they lead us.

ANYWAY, about me and my ideas…

(yes, it’s always me, me, me, it’s like this is my blog or something!)
I have always had a strong imagination, firing off elaborate mental scenarios for the tiniest thread of evidence and when I get started with ideas I ‘chain-smoke’ them – each one is lit from the idea before.

Pulling one idea out of my oddly connected brain is like pulling on one piece of a net – you may get one string of ideas or you may get all kinds of offshoots and interconnected pieces. It might be hard from the outside to see how they are connected, but I know.

For example, when I said chain-smoke above, that reminded me of my friend Jason because we used to say he chain-smoked conversations, lighting one topic off the one before so the rest of us could barely keep up. Mentioning Jason reminds me that he used to have blue glasses, and that reminds me that my youngest kid wants his hair dyed blue and that reminds me of how my sister Ange used to dye her hair with kool-aid and the stench of kool-aid would permeate the house.

Now, I might not say all of those things aloud to you. You might mention chain smoking and next thing I am talking about the smell of kool-aid, it’s not obvious when you are outside of my head. 🙂

And you might be thinking ‘Okay, Christine, that’s a flood of associations but where are the ideas?’

Well, from that net of connections, I thought about including smells of childhood – playdoh, crayons, kraft dinner, and kool-aid in a story and how those things can bring back such vivid memories, both good and bad.

And I had the idea of writing a story in which someone’s hair colour reflects their magic ability, or perhaps it makes them stronger – kind of like an update on Samson.

And I thought about writing about someone who is brave enough to be who they are, no matter what anyone thinks of them -their own opinion of themselves is far more important to them than anyone else’s.

And I thought about why someone might talk a lot – are they excited? Nervous? Do they just have a lot to say? Sometimes a lot of talking seems rude but it doesn’t always have to be. So I could write about all the different reasons around talking a lot. That could be for a fictional character or someone real.

So, now that I have told you all about how my brain churns out ideas, I am going to turn the question to you…

Where do you get your ideas?

Also, what does the colour blue make YOU think of?


Sunday Story – 100 words

The A to Z Challenge takes a break on Sundays, so I post a story. I just started the StoryADay prep class with Julie Duffy and I highly recommend it. I have only been in the class for a week and I already have 15 new story ideas, some excellent writing exercises and I feel like I am making a workable plan.

Here is one of the stories I wrote this week for the course. The challenge was a story in 100 words. By the way, this intro is 88 words! 😉


She stared at her phone until the words blurred.

She knew that this was the fashion, this was how it was done, but she couldn’t get used to it.

She would have liked to go back to the time when it was considered rude to break up with someone over the phone, when being respectful meant meeting someone in person to deliver the hard news.

Even a phone call would have been better than this though.

The text ‘We’re done.’ made its point but it broke her heart.

In a way though, she realized, breaking her heart was the point.


H is for “Home for a Rest”

I’m hitting the whole alphabet for the A to Z Challenge in April. It’s pretty fun.


When my kids were smaller, and the weather was decent, I would tax my brain and my neck by walking them to school. Trying to hustle them both along and keep an eye on them both (usually one behind me and one in front – hence the neck issue, it was from the swiveling)was often an exercise in frustration, even though I enjoyed that sort of transition time from home to school. We used to play little games and make up songs and act like characters from movies (Trillian, DentArthurDent and Zaphod Breeblebox most often).*

If the weather wasn’t decent then we would drive to school** and that meant that we picked out some songs to play and howl along with*** while we were in the great big line of cars waiting to drop kids off at school. And that’s where the title of this post comes from.

I used to tell the boys that if we wanted to figure out how old the parents of the other kids were, I should wait until they were walking up toward the school and then blast Spirit of the West’s Home for a Rest. The ones who stopped in their tracks, listened, then waited until the song picked up and then danced their way into the school – those parents would have a maximum range from their Aunt Ange’s age to their Uncle Dave’s age, and they would most likely be between my age and Aunt Neece’s.

We never did run the experiment**** but we always had a grand laugh bellowing along to the song and imagining all those dancing parents on the way in to school. Can you imagine how fun that would have been?

Feel free to dance along at home:

*I still walk my youngest to school most days and we have grand conversations and we goof around. I get those sort of times with my oldest son when we drive to appointments and the like. That’s one of the oddest transitions I have noticed about parenting lately. I used to have to take them everywhere with me and now that they are older, they can stay home by themselves more often. That is freeing in a way but I miss those in-between times, the chats in the car, the goofing around while we wait in line-ups, the foolishness of riffing on something odd we all noticed going on at the store. I don’t miss having to juggling their moods, my mood and crowds at stores and I don’t miss having to organize every part of my day around naptime/snacktime/school time, but it is strange to realize that some parts of parenting are largely behind me.
**Well, we always walked to school, in all kinds of weather, up until my eldest was in Grade 2 and we got a second car.
***Our family all follows the rule that YaYa Vivi Walker told to Siddalee ‘If you can’t sing it good, sing it loud!’
****We always think up fun sort of experiments like this. Now I’m thinking we should actually do some of them 😉


PS – Next weekend will be Spirit of the West’s final shows. I wish them well and I hope that Mr. Mann’s can find some ease from his health issues in his retirement. Thank you for the music, Spirit of the West. <3

F is for Feminism

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Find out more here.


The *other* F word.
Once upon a time, I used to do that young woman ‘I’m not a feminist but…’ thing, you know, the one where you disavow feminism while espousing extremely feminist views?

I had to distance myself from those angry manhaters who rejected feminine things, you know, because I wanted equality but I wanted it without making anyone mad.

I got over it.

I still prefer not to make people mad, but if it means moving equality ahead (or even if it means shutting sexist crap down fast) then I will take that risk.

It’s like Gloria Steinem said ‘The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.’

As I got older, I realized that the views I had were feminist views AND that I had been told a load of crap about what feminism was. The core of feminism is the fact that men and women are equal and their rights MUST reflect that.

It says nothing about women being better than men. It says nothing about men being hateful. Some individuals might believe those things but that’s not on feminism, that’s on those people.

Now, it just seems ridiculous to me that I ever refused to use the word feminist to describe myself. OF COURSE I’m a feminist, why the hell wouldn’t I be? What would be my other choice?

I refuse to accept any version of a world in which I am considered lesser because of my gender. I refuse to accept a world in which ANYONE is considered less because of their gender.Feminism4-850x1024

I think that the world we have now is crappy to everyone about gender – there are very narrow options for ‘appropriate’ gender expression. In fact, we are all too damn caught up in gender – just think about it – when we ask the Mom of the baby in green whether the kid is a boy or a girl, we are asking ‘What genitals does your baby have*? I want to know how to treat them!’

Yes, I know that it is an innocent question and it is only being friendly and giving the parent a chance to talk about their wee one, but, at its heart, it is a pretty weird question, don’t you think?

*Note: I know that is not any real way to determine someone’s gender, but that’s how a lot of people do it. That’s a whole different discussion and I am not at all sure that I am the person to write about that. Meanwhile, my personal take on your gender is that it is none of my business – you just tell me what pronoun to use and which bathroom you are looking for. And I will stand between you and the person giving you crap for either of those things. I can be pretty shouty if I need to be and I can back up those shouts when necessary.

PS – I should have really used the word ‘feminisms’ throughout this because there are many different types.
PPS – I also want to acknowledge the fact that feminism can be problematic about issues of race, class, transgender people, and so on. I work to be as intersectional as I can and I try to stay open to the fact that there are a lot of experiences that I know nothing about and that I need to listen when those come up because my opinion is not relevant.

E is for Elly-ville

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge and I am looking forward to posting my way through the entire alphabet. 🙂
Yesterday I wrote about my middlest sister Denise, today is all about my sister Angela. It isn’t here birthday or anything, but I thought I would give her a shoutout too. (Don’t worry, I only have two sisters, the sisterly posts end here.)

So, you are probably thinking, ‘Angela doesn’t start with E! What the hell is Elly-ville?’
Elly-ville is Ange’s business – she creates multimedia artwork and she makes crocheted stuffed animals and sells them at craft fairs and the like.

I love to see little kids come to her table and check out the animals. The kids are all so joyful and it is like they connect with the animals on a whole different level – Ange puts joy and whimsy right into them, I swear.

And that’s maybe the first thing you need to know about Angela. Ange is super good at making people happy.

She picks up on the little things that bring a smile to your face. She notices when you grin and she keeps track of why and then she will help make that happen again. I think that she has some sort of connection to a type of happiness that the rest of us can’t even see and I think she channels that into her various creations. I’m sure that’s why kids find so joy in her stuffed animals – she has poured that happiness right into them.
Now in the spirit of my post about Denise I’m going to tell you about the ways that I wish I could be more like Angela

Ange is really good at going along with things – a joke, a plan, a way to goof around. I don’t mean that she’s a follower because that is definitely not the case. If you engage Angela in the MAGIC of what you’re doing she will make it bigger and she amplifies it in a way that that doesn’t diminish your efforts at all. It’s a skill she has always seemed to have but I think that her improv training honed it even further. She is an expert at ‘Yes, and’* – for her the world is a a collaboration, she will build on your ideas, you can build on hers, and everyone wins. Ange sees all the interlocking pieces and she strengthens the connections between them. I can do it sometimes, but Angela’s ability to call it forth at will is astounding.

Ange also rocks at being interested in what you are interested in and giving you the chance to share why you love it. For example, when my sons talk to her about video games, or wrestling or whatever they are passionate about in the moment, Ange gives them her full attention. It doesn’t matter if she is not actually all that interested in the video or playing with playdoh or whatever, she is interested in her relationship with the person and that is what matters most. She is interested in their excitement about the thing at hand and it shows in the attention that she gives them. It is a kind of love and kindness that you don’t often see. It makes the other person in the conversation feel valued and respected and Ange is just incredible about sharing it.

Another way that I would like to be more like Ange is in her capacity for emotions. Angela can go fully into her feelings like no one else I have ever met. I’m sure that is a pain in the ass for her sometimes, but there is true beauty in it from the outside. When she commits to a feeling, she goes all in with it. If she is proud of you, she is the proudest person EVER. If she loves you, then she loves you all the way. When she’s excited, she’s over the moon. It feels really great to get carried along with those feelings and to be around someone who is okay with surrendering to them. A lot of people fight their feelings all the time and if you ask me, that causes a hell of a lot of problems. We’re often taught that we need to ‘keep control’ or not be so emotional, but that cuts down on the good as well as the bad. I would like to be more like Angela and just have my heart open to the elements.

I can remember the night that Angela was born – me and Neece being rushed over to a neighbour’s house so Mom and Dad could go to the hospital. I remember Dad coming into the room where we were sleeping to tell us that we had a new baby sister.

I can remember making up stories for her and bouncing her on my stomach in time to the rhythm of the story while I talked.

I can remember the smell of Kool-aid in the house when she took to dyeing her hair wild colours when she was in junior high.

I remember watching her do improv and being so damn impressed that she could be RIGHT there on the stage, making stuff up in the moment and she did it without any sort of stress or strain.

And to this day, I am floored by how damn capable she is when she steps up to take charge of things. She can create order out of chaos – a room full of people, a pile of ideas, a tangle of wool – and she does it with flair and with a smirk. It knocks me right out.

So, there we go. Angela doesn’t start with E, but Ellyville does and so does engaging & emotion, so writing about Ange today makes perfect sense. Happy Wednesday, kid – I am  proud of you. I love you.