Rumbling with Disappointment.

Girl Warrior Productions - Novel by Boo King Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies

This week I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong in the little red Ford Escape to and from work. Risking criticism for excessive use of alliteration, Brene Brown is a brave beautiful brilliant writer. And her book is bringing me to my knees. I am face down in the arena Brene. Get the book and you’ll understand the reference.

The book is making me think. And more importantly it is making me feel. Lots of feels. More feels than I can process in the twenty-minute drive to work. So I’m doing it here, in my safe space, and I’m sharing it with you, which doesn’t feel safe at all. Wearing my vulnerability on my sleeve, risking emotional exposure and shame is scary. I’m feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

One of the biggest feelings that Rising Strong has brought me face-to-face with this week is that of disappointment. Raw, unvarnished, unrestrained and intense, really fucking big disappointment. It sucks. I’ve been rumbling with this feeling all week but in truth, it’s been lurking in every single landscape of my life for years. I just couldn’t properly identify it until now. The hardest part is how personal it is. I can’t blame or point the finger at any other person, place or thing. It’s pointing directly at me. I am the bullseye. Me. Me. Me.

At the top of the list of disappointments – Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies, a novel by boo king.

This is particularly grim because it was a story I was born to tell. The first draft was written back in the Toronto days when my oldest daughter was a wee one. For three or four years during her afternoon naps, I cranked out the first draft to three novels. Back then, naively, I thought writing a novel was just in the telling, which is what draft one is all about. I was not interested in going back in and doing the really hard work of editing and re-writing and re-writing and re-writing until I got it right. I just wanted to tell the stories and express myself creatively. And then move on. Kind of like my feelings. Move on from any of them that make me the least bit uncomfortable. True story.

Those three novels didn’t get past draft one. Eventually after twelve years, a modest career in Advertising as a copywriter, and one life-altering separation, I moved away from Toronto. I left with my two older kids, three cats, about a thousand bucks in cash that I made at a garage sale, overdrawn on my overdraft, no husband, no partner in crime, no job prospects, no security, no nothing, and headed west to Victoria looking for a brighter future and my happily ever after.

I got that. Well, sort of. I got a job in a small boutique design firm, found an apartment in the top floor of a house owned by a newlywed couple, met a man who didn’t fit, met another man who I fell in love with, got pregnant, declared bankruptcy, moved a few times, changed jobs, but kept working and working and working. Not as a writer but as a Production Manager/Producer. The writing stopped when I left Toronto. And it was killing me.

Since childhood, writing has always been my thing. The painfully shy girl’s voice, the saving grace, the outlet, means of expression, the avenue and channel for all my feelings, thoughts and emotions. I learned to read and then I started to write. Not doing it, felt wrong. I was ill at ease for years. Not right in my skin. I didn’t feel like me.

At the direction, and wise counsel of my best friend, who simply would not tolerate my whining about not writing, I began as she advised: one word at a time. Best advice ever and just one of the many reasons why I love her and why we’re lifelong friends.

Of the three first drafts I had written in Toronto, one of the stories haunted me, demanding that I pay attention and do something with it. I blushed with secret embarrassment reading the earnest and unbridled words of a much younger me, and then I immediately went to work flushing out the story. New characters emerged, old ones fell away but the main character, Jo survived and then magic happened. A completely new story was born around Jo. The Summer” novel bore very little resemblance to the original first draft but that first draft was the impetus that lit the fire.

Because I was working full time, had three kids and little free time, I mapped out my daily writing time before the rest of the family got up. For almost four years I got up at 4:00 am and wrote before I did anything else. It was that important to me. At first, one word at a time, then one sentence and then one paragraph, page, chapter, entire novel. This time, I wrote, and re-wrote, and re-wrote, and re-wrote again and again and again. I was a ruthless, unsentimental and detached editor of my own work, a skill I had learned as a copywriter in Toronto. Then in February and March of 2001, within five weeks of each other, both my parents died. The novel was getting close to completion but not nearly ready for anyone other than me to read it.

I worked through my grief by writing. I became obsessed with completing the novel, with creating something that Ma and The Old Man would have been proud of. I stepped up my writing to include evenings and weekends. It was my passion, my magnificent obsession, my channel for dealing with sorrow and loss, and a tribute to my parents. It was a fictionalized version of our story. And in that frame of mind, I was determined to publish it. No one was going to stand in my way. No one.

By then, wrongly or rightly, I believed I wouldn’t be able to cope with, nor bear, any form of rejection or further loss. I also believed I didn’t have the strength, courage or wherewithal to jump through the hoops necessary to acquire a traditional publisher. The mere thought of receiving rejection letters was beyond endurable. I just could not do it. At least the story I told myself.

I decided to publish the novel myself. By this time I was a seasoned Production Manager and I knew how to pull a creative team together to get it done. To put it in perspective, in Canada self-publishing was in its infancy, so was blogging and social media, and there were very few Indie producers and artists. Nothing like it is today.

Fragile complicated emotions aside, the thought of undertaking a project of this scope intrigued and excited me. I hooked up with Trafford Publishing who handled all the publishing and legal stuff, hired my own talented crew of design and production professionals, proofreaders and beta readers, and solicited the feedback and candor of my best friend and editorial sounding board. Shortly before Christmas 2001, the book was published. With the exception of my children, it was my greatest accomplishment.

Seventeen years later, it is my greatest disappointment. It is at the very top of a long list of huge commercial failures – the novel, the book for girl warriors, the speaking engagements, the storytelling, the website, the girl warrior productions, the interviews, the t-shirts, the blogging, the poetry writing, the songwriting, the social media, the recordings and the guided meditations. Personal and professional flops each and every one. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. But Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies hurts the most. The palpable pain of that disappointment is the worst, the fucking worst.

I didn’t have the courage and I wasn’t brave. Worse yet, I didn’t even try. And because I was unwilling to risk rejection by a traditional publisher, this funny heartbreaking little story, this homage to my parents, siblings, friends, neighbors and the redneck northwestern Ontario town where I grew up never took flight, never found its wings, and worst of all, never found its readers. And that’s all on me.

But it’s also on me that I acknowledge and accept that I feel this disappointment. It’s real and it’s okay, or it will be. It’s also on me that I am completely vulnerable, curious and have my heart wide open to all ‘the feels’ that will come. It’s also on me to keep rumbling with these feelings and to Rise Strong. And most importantly, it’s also on me to continue writing and storytelling no matter what.

Get Rising Strong here:

https://amzn.to/2w7FGTi

Learn more about Brene Brown here:

https://brenebrown.com/

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Mel Baird.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, mobile makeup artist Melanie Baird, a woman of character and the quintessential example of what true beauty is. For over two decades, Mel has brought her unique style to over 1000 weddings; to popular television shows, including Canadian Idol, Canada’s Next Great Chef, and Kool Countdown; the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Closing Ceremonies; countless magazine features, editorial and print ads, music videos, CD covers, movies and commercials; plus, a finalist on Canada’s Next Top Model; BITE Beauty Founder Susanne Langmuir’s Movember Sephora Video; and Lieutenant Governor Judy Guichon’s official photo.  

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

As a female business owner, it’s my ability to connect with women. I love getting to the depths of our Souls with talking and healing. Spreading my light and helping make the world a better place however I can.

We love your Feel Good Campaign. How did that come about?

I have been doing makeup on women for years and helping them feel better. Many clients have gone through cancer treatments and I would teach them how to do makeup to look and feel better. It became my passion. As I did more and more I wanted to make this a staple. I get the most joy helping people, and this merged my two passions. So myself, and Danielle Bennett King, do hair and makeup every month for a woman going through treatment or hard times.

What has been your biggest challenge – personally or professionally? 

Professionally I would say my self-doubt/anxiety! If I don’t know how to do something well I tend to not feel comfortable trying. I can be hard on myself because my personal standards are very high.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

I would say my anxiety and fears; they can hold you back. I loved makeup and taught myself how to be a makeup artist the old fashioned way – through books!

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

This question makes my eyes tear up. I have SO much I would of loved to say! But mainly to not worry and all of your hopes and dreams do come true. Keep being you and have an open heart and beautiful things will happen.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Be true to who you are. Listen to your Soul. Feed your Soul. Work on inner growth because that is the key to happiness and abundance. Everything in your life will get better when you love yourself. You will be a beam of light! I try to teach this to my 18- year old daughter, especially by leading by example.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

I am constantly inspired by strong women who help others. Women are nurturers and are powerful. We teach love. Also, any woman who saves animals or run rescue organizations are my heroes too.

What’s next?  

To continue doing what I love and makes me happy. To keep growing as a person. Doing makeup. Laugh, travel, enjoy life, animals and my family.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 That’s always a funny one for me. For my career I feel I am exactly where I want to be. So then I think of other areas. I am very happy in my marriage and being a mother. So maybe travel more, do more yoga, work a bit less and spend more time with my father who recently moved here.

What message would put on your t-shirt?

There are two I love:

  • “Character is built through adversity” – Unknown
  • “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s Soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France

If you have someone you would like to nominate for Mel’s “Feel Good Campaign” please connect with her. In her words, “We would love to beautify and empower them.”

Connect with Mel on Instagram @mel_baird_makeup; through her Facebook page Melanie Baird Makeup Artist or her website http://www.melaniebaird.ca

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Jo Dworschak.

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There’s no age limit to being a Girl Warrior. She doesn’t look a particular way. She comes in all ages, sizes, shapes and colors. She’s out there. And inside every girl who enters the world. She’s the face of hope at the bottom of Pandora’s Box.

She is not afraid of her fierce magical powers. It is here that we have come to celebrate. Honor. Appreciate. And applaud.

Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our first Feature Girl Warrior, the extraordinary and inspiring Jo Dworschak. Comedian, broadcaster and writer and best known for her hit game show Story Story Lie and co-hosting of the LGBT show Fruit Salad on Coop Radio.

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

That’s a hard question. I feel like the wins I’ve had came from struggles and they tend to remain a struggle. I guess that’s part of being a warrior? I keep doing it. Even when trying is hard and I really want to just take a nap…well I take a nap but then I wake up and get shit done.

We love Story Story Lie. How did that come about?

I was on a train ride from Brighton to London, actually on the wrong train cause I wanted to get moving and thought it would be an adventure to get on a different train and see what happened. Luckily the train went to London, but the opposite side of London and it was so late at night it took me two hours on buses with drunks to get back to my room. Everything that happened that night was unbelievable. Truth is so much stranger then fiction, that’s how the show came to be. Two true stories and one lie, can you tell them apart? I know who the liar is and I still get confused! Also I wanted a show that gave the audience a voice, made people feel clever for being able to interrogate the performers. I’m so lucky everyone has loved it!

What has been your biggest challenge?

Biggest challenge has been asking. Asking for the venue to host the show. Asking performers to join as contestants. Asking media to cover the show and asking CBC Radio to add the show to its line up (I’m still waiting to hear back). Asking invites the potential to get what I want, but also to not get it. That waiting time is still hard for me. There are times I’m rejected, but people are usually quite nice about it.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

I’m a single parent. I’m lucky to have a son that is supportive of my dreams. It is hard to leave at night and perform when I can’t bring him with me. Though I realize he’s a teenager now and fine being at home with snacks and WiFi. I’ve suffered for years on and off with clinical depression. Some days getting out of bed, and on a stage, is very hard. Some days I have no clue why I still do it. But finding that story or that joke that connects with the audience, that helps them forget about their own problems or think differently about the problems of others make it worth it.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior? 

You’re voice is important! Anyone who tells you that your voice isn’t important, know just how important your voice really is.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Living a life without failure isn’t a life I’d want to live. We need to ask for what we want. We get a lot of yeses! And often the no’s tend to be for the best.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

Frida Khalo, she was a cross-dressing bisexual who overcame a lot of pain and brought beauty into the world when she saw none. Also she had a lot of pets! That’s so cool!

What’s next?

This summer I’m flying my son and I to St. John’s Newfoundland. We are on a tight budget to buy a crappy car and drive back. The goal is to meet as many diverse families as possible and interview them for an audio doc project I’m calling Families Across Canada. We want to find the things we all have in common and the things we can learn from each other. I truly believe sharing each others stories breaks down walls and builds strong bridges.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

On stage, on air and writing! I want to be able to live as a Creative. I would love for Story Story Lie to be bigger! To be traveling with that show and bringing diverse voices to the stage. I’d love to work on CBC Radio! Entertaining the masses and making people laugh. And having a hit show on CBC Radio.

Follow Jo on Twitter and Instagram @storystorylie. If you’re in the Victoria area on April 1, be sure to catch Story Story Lie at The Mint Victoria and see if you can spot the liar!

Get tickets to the show here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/story-story-lie-victoria-edition-tickets-31672884450

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Sometimes You Have to Leave the Herd.

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Girl Warrior. Sometimes you have to leave the herd. Pull away from the pack. And step out on your own. Fly solo. Go it alone. Take on the world single-handedly and forge a path that only you can walk.

This can be a frightening proposition. Terrifying. The mere thought may paralyze you. But don’t let it. Dig down deep into your Girl Warrior heart. Let it reveal all the reasons why you need to take this solitary journey. For in this sacred and sincere examination of all the light and dark places of your marrow you will discover that this is the only way you can get to the next step. This is what you need to do before you can fly.

And fly you must.

On this soul search pilgrimage you will discover some very deep truths about who you are and what you are made of. You will learn about the full depth and breadth and height of your character, rectitude, integrity, honor, principles, virtues and pure sweet goodness.

There is so much goodness.

Walk bravely and boldly through the refiner’s fire Girl Warrior. And know that your Tribe is not only waiting for your glorious and triumphant return, but that they have been there with you every step of the way. They were in the wind and rain and dust and dirt. In the forests and the mountains and seas and deserts. In the cities and villages and small towns and whistle-stops. Their abiding spirits were with you in the sunshine and in the sorrow, in the wilderness of your purpose and the wanderlust of your desires.

And when you are done Girl Warrior, they will be there cheering while you don your cape.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Spend Time with a Mentor.

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Abby with her mentors Rose and Robin.

Girl Warrior. Spend time with a mentor. If you don’t have one, find one. Chances are, this person is already in your life. Chances are, you’ve already engaged in a mentor-mentee relationship. Chances are, you may not recognize that you are connected in this way. Chances are, you are close to this person.

Take a look around you and ask yourself these questions.

Who is the person you admire most? Who is the person who teaches you things in a manner that feels natural rather than professorial, purposive or patronizing? Who is the person who leaves you feeling uplifted after spending time with them? Who is the person who challenges you to think beyond what you know now? Who is the person who encourages you to grow fully in every capacity – physically, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally? Who is the person who has your best interests at heart? Who is the person who tells you the truth in a way that doesn’t hurt or harm? Who is the person you want to be like when you grow up?

Girl Warrior, take a moment to write down the name of a person next to each of these questions. Chances are, this is your mentor. If you’re lucky, more than one name will crop up. But even if it is only one person, consider yourself blessed.

Now, go to that person and tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life. If they aren’t physically close to them then pick up the phone, text them, email them, send them a letter or a “thank you” card. Do not put this off. It is imperative that you acknowledge whom your mentors are and that they know how much you value their presence in your life. Let them know now that the world is a better place because they are here. This is the very personal gift that you give back to them.

Once you have done this Girl Warrior, take a second look around and ask yourself this. Who can I mentor?

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Melissa with her mentor Boo.

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Leslee with her mentors Kathleen and Char.

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Sher with her mentor Marion.

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Catherine holding the initials of her mentor BK.

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Jennie with her mentor Dave.

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Aimee with her mentor Boo.

Boo + Silk Mentor

Boo with her mentor Silk.

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Don’t Take Offense.

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Girl Warrior. Don’t take offense. This may be one of your greatest challenges. One you’ll not only need to work on every day but possibly every minute of every day. For being offended, insulted or indignant by another’s words or deeds happens so easily. Sticks and stones may break the bones. But words can hurt. Sting. Smart. Sadden.

Thoughtless, unkind, reckless, or flippant words are often the most harmful to our psyche, to our spirit, to our soul; but only if we allow or give them permission to do so. Therein lies our power. Therein lies our potency. Therein lies our potential. We are at the controls here. This is our command central. How we feel. How we think. How we react. And most importantly, how we act after receiving such a blow is everything. This is the “big tell.” This is the pivotal moment when more is revealed about our character than that of the offender.

Our egos are bruised. Our hearts are broken. Our feelings are hurt. Our spirits deflated.

But they needn’t be. Know this Girl Warrior, you have the power to A) neutralize your emotions and B) control your response. Both are critical and integral here. You don’t have to be upset, insulted, angry or wounded. You are not a victim. In fact you are just the opposite. What others say to you, or about you, is actually none of your business. Not your concern. It has no bearing on who you are. It’s their stuff. Not yours. Others will say or do what they will, often without even realizing the impact or the consequences. And so will you. So will you. That’s the hard pill to swallow. We are all guilty.

But you can fix this Girl Warrior. It is your job, your mission, to get at the truth and own it. Examine the intention of the offense. Malicious or not, forgive everyone including yourself, so healing can begin. For that is how you get over being offended.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Respect Yourself.

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Girl Warrior. Respect yourself. Yes you. Hold yourself in high regard. The highest, in fact. For you are a prized and precious and perfect person. Exactly as you are now. Exactly as you always have been. And exactly as you always will be.

This does not mean you won’t change and grow. Refine, reshape and rework your life. You’ll edit, emend and evolve as you go. There will be times when you press repeat, rewind or even pause. And that’s okay. You’ll learn new things. Astonishing things that will blow your mind. You are free to try on different roles and responsibilities along the highway or dirt road of your one-of-a-kind odyssey. Abandon what doesn’t feel right in your skin. Keep all that speaks to your truth and honors the brilliant Girl Warrior that you are. For this is the essence of self-respect.

Respecting yourself is part and parcel of loving yourself. It all starts here. You unwrap them together. They are hand in glove and should not be separated. They will act as your guide, your touchstone and spiritual litmus test for everything you think, say and do. But they do ask that you think well of yourself at all times. That you hold yourself in such high regard and esteem that you wouldn’t think of causing harm to yourself. Not physically. Not emotionally. Not intellectually. Not spiritually. Not ever.

There are no exceptions Girl Warrior. Your standard is set high. It is golden. And so are you.

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