Pursue Awesome

This week a woman looked me in the eyes, really stared into my soul trying to see… me. She was looking; searching for meaning, depth, story. And then she smiled.

Just as she expected, it was there. She didn’t learn my story, but she knew there was one hidden in the quiet way I returned her gaze unflinchingly.

“You are a shining star! Keep on Manifesting your Magnificence!”

Could she see the tears I’ve shed along the way? The doubt I’ve felt on my path? The waiting for life to begin? Or was it the fact that I was there at all? I stood in front of her with the words ‘Be Bold’ echoing in my head. Could she hear them? Was she saying them?

‘Dream big,’ her eyes whispered.

Dream Big.

I was at a book launch and inspirational evening hosted by TOAST! London. They invite visionaries to speak and share their stories of how they beat the odds, struggle against life and its challenges, and thrive, supporting their communities along the way. The woman who shook my hand was one of the authors in the book; a trailblazer in her own right. And she recognized something in me that spoke to her.

Do it. Take the step. Push yourself. Don’t be afraid. You will thrive. I have faith in you. Shed your insecurities and have faith in you too.

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Pursue Awesome

A Picture of Integrity

It’s rare for me to be in front of the camera. I take it wherever I go when working for a client, but the images I capture are for them and their businesses. I offer a service, and am an important part of my client’s businesses, but not a face of their companies.

When I get to attend a function therefore, I am thrilled to be a part of the event. I do my best to look the part of a professional, but know my place. The camera is in front of my eye capturing the moment, not me. Today was no different.

Today, I attended the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Ontario‘s 19th Annual Business Integrity Awards. The awards celebrate high ethical standards and integrity in business in London, Ontario. After a lengthy application process, the nominees are whittled down to three contenders for Category I (1-10 employees) and Category II (11+ employees) finalists. Each of these three companies is then highlighted at the breakfast and gets to present a brief video presentation on the merits of their companies. I am always impressed by the lengths these companies go.

Today’s winners are 1-800-got-junk (category I) and Hangar 9 (Category II). Congratulations!

I snapped photos to mark these companies’ moments of glory, then listened to subsequent speakers and the Keynote speaker of the morning, Dr Vipul Jairath. All of these people strive to be the best in their business practices, upholding the concept of integrity in all they do. They are a hallmark of what individuals and companies should strive for as they conduct themselves in the business world. And being even a small part of that is a huge honour.

So no, there weren’t any pictures of me captured today (again). And no, this post isn’t about my business. But it is about being a part of something bigger, whether you see me or not. I strive to do my utmost for clients. I try to capture them at their best and the moments they are a part of in the best light possible. Sometimes it is about them, and sometimes it is about the people they associate with.

Today, CLC Tree Services supported Business Integrity by attending the #BBBAwards2016. They received this coveted award in 2010, and still practice integrity in their daily business life. I proudly sat at their table to honour their support of integrity in our city. Accolades today weren’t about them, but recognizing it in others is as important as living the concept themselves.

There are days when my skills are recognized, but today the focus was on others. Knowing that local companies value hard work, ethics, best business practices, and an overall high business integrity reminds me that I too need to offer that. The invitation to be a part of this respected event lets me know that perhaps I already do.

I am proud to say I was there.BBBAwards2016

Appreciation

I just need to share. I have said it before, but I love what I do. I really do. Life seems to be giving back to me and I am tickled beyond belief. I hope I’m not tempting fate, but my happy dances just keep on coming and I’m thrilled!

So what’s going on? I have connected with three new clients since the spring, all of whom I consider quality companies who care about their communities, their employees, and the world. What’s not to love about that?! A long-time client has expanded what I am doing for them. Works for me! And they came up with a neat idea for some blog posts, which will get me out and meeting even more great people. They would like me to interview some of the companies whom they work and network with.

Wouldn’t you jump at the chance to meet more people whom someone you admire thinks highly of? I did. And I met with the first company this week. Today I published a post on local business Hedley Bennett Truck Parts for CLC Tree Services. I had promised the owner I would send a link to the article and promptly emailed it to her.

This is the part that made me proud to be a writer. This evening I received a heart-warming letter from the Hedley’s wife Pattie, which I have to share;

Dear Katherine       
As I write this I wipe tears from my eyes.   What you wrote is wonderful.   God your good at what you do !!!!!!!!!!!!!    I hope our paths cross in the future.  If I have the opportunity to refer you to someone I certainly will.   Please know you are always welcome and it was a pleasure talking with you. 
Hudsonly  Pattie

I am glowing. There are no other words. That level of appreciation touches me to the core. It makes me so proud and brings a hint of a tear to my own eye. I do my best when I write and apparently, my best is pretty darn good. Writing for a living seems like the best thing in the world I could do right now.

Thank you Pattie. You have made my night.

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Weekend Words

Last weekend I ran away from home for some good, old-fashioned me time. I went to dinner with my sister on Friday; National Sibling Day. The following day, I met up with a girlfriend for our annual coveted concert outing. We slipped into downtown Toronto for a delicious meal at the Rivoli, before heading over to Massey Hall to be blown away by Damien Rice. The acoustics in Massey Hall were incredible, made that much more impressive by Rice’s talented vocals and acoustic guitar playing. Just, Wow!

Imagine this echoing into your soul, as not a word is spoken by an audience rapt by his charms. You can love me any time Damien…

What a beautiful night.

By Sunday you would think I would be happy for a coffee and to head home, but I was in for one more treat. My girlfriend took me to a workshop luncheon put on by the Writers’ Community of York Region (WCYR) FYI, if you are a writer in this area, it would be well worth your while to join this welcoming community of dynamic writers!

But I digress.

Writers’ Community of York Region

So after two late nights in a row, I grabbed a notebook from my vehicle and followed Corrie to her local writer’s chapter. We got there early enough to join their “Write Before Lunch” writing prompt circle. Time to put my brain into action, as a table full of prompts was revealed and we were given 20 minutes to write a short story incorporating one, two, three or as many of the items displayed as we could manage.

It was a fun challenge, but I suspect I need more practice at the art of free writing, as too many words were crossed out while I hastily penned the beginning of a tale. At the chirp of a bell, time was up though and it was time to share what we had come up with. New to the group, I was timid to raise my hand to share, but eventually all eyes turned to me for a turn. So share I did.

Barry Dempster; poet, writer, editor, motivator

In the meantime, the room began to fill with people greeting others, shaking hands and taking seats at the tables set up around the room. Wafts of our waiting lunch swirled through the group, as I was introduced to the writers that joined our table. They were there to hear Barry Dempster speak, but were curious to hear my story too. We were all writers and our unwritten stories hung in the air around us. But Barry was there to tease some of them out.

I had agreed to attend the meeting with Corrie, but suddenly found myself nervous in the throng of people. I keenly felt my reclusive nature clinging to me, as people asked about what I wrote and what groups I belonged to in London. Too many days I spend alone in front of my computer and this attention was a rarity. The next part of the workshop was the real challenge though, as after lunch dishes were cleared, Barry asked us to pull out pens once more and capture descriptive moments from our lives. There was no time for editing. But he wanted us to share. And gosh, if that didn’t leave me angst-ridden.

Anxiety aside, I enjoyed the event. It was good to be amongst peers. I enjoyed the poetic prose that was created around me and the appreciation for good language which was felt by all. As much as the process didn’t elicit anything I was proud of sharing, it did create one thing which I think I need to foster – the realization that I need more one-on-one connections in my writing world. I felt that big stick poking me to get out and network with more writers. And it just might have to happen closer to home every once in a while too.

Calling all writers in the London, Ontario area! Anyone up for a writing date?

Stepping Out

Autumn's Sign

Freelance writing can be a lonely career choice. It is a solitary occupation, often done at home, minus co-workers. There is no conversation over the water cooler. There are no chats about your weekend during smoke breaks (not that I smoke or ever have). You certainly interact with people; clients, publishers, editors or other writers, but not necessarily every day. Sometimes not even every week.

I have been spending a little more time on my own as of late. It is good, as I have had more time dedicated to writing and have burned through many more books on my to-be-read pile. But social interaction is a good thing too. And as the days quickly get shorter I am all too aware that this will curtail time spent outside and potentially amongst others. I may be a sturdy Canadian lass, but when the mercury drops below 0°C, I hightail it back to my slippers and vitamin D supplements.

So after popping my first vitamin D of the season and checking prices on light therapy lamps, my next stop was looking into workshops and events for writers in my neck of the woods. Wouldn’t you know, but there are a few exciting things for writers in London, Ontario.

For starters, the London Public Library and Western University recently announced that they have a writer-in-residence this year. Gary Barwin is a writer, poet, composer, multimedia artist, educator and the first writer-in-residence that London has seen since 2008. Pretty cool in my books. And also very encouraging. He has office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Central library from 4-7 pm and at Western University from 10 am – 2pm. In addition to that, he will be also be leading several workshops throughout the year. One caught my eye entitled “Getting it Out There”.

I think it might be time to get me out there and attend.

Another way to get out there might be to take my courage in hand and sneak in the door at one of the London Writers Society monthly meetings. They are held the third Thursday of every month.  And No, I haven’t been there yet, for those of you who are shaking your heads in disbelief. They were established in 2007 according to their website and meet at Landon Library. With Landon a hop and skip from me, you would think it would be easy, but I guess life gets in the way of life sometimes.

Perhaps it is time to contact my babysitter and check her schedule.

I have also come across another event that sounds terribly exciting for literary folk. London will play host to WORDS: The Literary and Creative Arts Festival, an inaugural festival for writers, poets and other creative thinkers from October 24th – 26th, 2014. It sounds like a fabulous weekend event suitable for any creative types. There will be sessions with local artists like Paul Cavanagh ( I just finished reading his book “After Helen” this weekend), Guy Vanderhaege (won 2 Governor General awards, Canada Reads Award, a Canadian Author Award, a Faber Award, and he is an Officer of the Order of Canada, amongst many other accolades), Joan Barfoot, Diana Tamblyn, Gary Barwin (makes sense knowing he was just elected London’s writer-in-residence), Mark Kingwell, Joe Sacco, and plenty more. There will be something for anyone that fiddles with words and I want to be at every session and every location!

My biggest problem is how to fit it all in and celebrate my daughter’s 8th birthday at the same time. Ugh. Timing is going to be tricky. I might just have to make it happen though.

I think it is high time I step out and expand my networking and support circles. How do you keep in the loop?