Balance – ABCs of a Passionate Life

Balance by Marissa Campbell

Can too much of a good thing really be bad?

Chocolate? Perish the thought.

Time with good friends? Never.

Shopping? Say it isn’t so!

Yet, I am loath to say that yes, indeed, too much of anything isn’t good. We need balance. A little of this, a sampling of that, a pinch of something old, a smidge of something new. Taken all together it creates a wonderful harmony, a delicious symmetry in life.

Too much work causes stress. Too much worry and fear leads to disease. Too much blood, sweat, and toil leads to disillusionment and dissatisfaction. There must be time to enjoy ourselves, to stop and smell the roses. To nap, to read, to play. There must be passion and motivation to drive us toward our dreams but we must seek to find a work ethic that maximizes efficiency yet allows ample time for relaxation.

The most disheartening word I hear often is ‘guilt.’ We feel guilty if we take time for ourselves. We feel we should be doing something else—slaving toward financial freedom, toiling toward the next rung on the corporate ladder, striving and struggling for the bigger house, the prestige, the title, the coin. Ambition is a wonderful thing, but not at the expense of our souls, our life force, our passion, and our enjoyment of life, with all its wondrous experiences waiting for us to savour.

Yes Man with Jim Carrey is a wonderful movie, filled with inspiration. A reminder that fantastic things happen when we stop trying and just let life happen, giving into the moment, allowing ourselves to experience. I try and say yes to each new opportunity that flows my way, not worrying about why they are presenting themselves. If it is something I am interested in, or find entertaining, I will usually give in to the experience, and rarely am I disappointed. While I appreciate, I can’t spend every waking moment smelling the roses, I make sure to grab each opportunity as it arises and make space for the unexpected and pleasurable.

Take a nap. Read a book. Go for a walk. Dance in your living room. Laugh over lunch with a friend. Put the work down. Breathe. Live. Enjoy. Relish a quiet moment. Break the mold. Rebellion is exhilarating. :)

In gratitude,
Marissa xo

ABCs of a Passionate Life – Awesome!

An Awesome Life by Marissa Campbell

An Awesome Life by Marissa Campbell

To take my one-word-a-post concept even further, I’m going to attempt to go through the entire alphabet, highlighting the keys to an abundant, passionate life one word at a time. And to start this crazy train off right, I’m picking the word: Awesome.

I love the word awesome. I remember meeting someone who said that awesome was overused. He complained that we had lost the original meaning of the word and it was just superfluous. Bummer, man. Seriously.

Here’s what my tried and true, 1977 edition of The Living Webster has to say: Awesome: Inspiring awe; as, an awesome display of talent; characterized by awe. Now let’s flash forward a few years to my 2006 edition of the Oxford Canadian Dictionary: Awesome: 1. Inspiring awe; 2. slang excellent.

Great, fantastic, excellent, wonderful . . . these are all good, but awesome? That hits the spot. It’s a simple word expressing supreme awesomeness!

“How do you feel today?”

“I feel awesome!”

“How was the concert?”

“Totally awesome!”

“What kind of day would you like to have?”

“I’d like to have a lovely day.” or

“I’d like to have a wonderful day?” or perhaps

“I’d like to have a wicked, totally freaking awesome day today!”

Even if we added all the adverbs to lovely, wonderful, or great, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it. And who’s to say we have lost the original meaning of the word? I’d love each day to inspire and create awe in me. I’d love to be blown away by life, in awe of each moment. I want my life to be most excellent, dude. I want it to be freaking awesome!

Far from being overused, this word isn’t used nearly enough. Why? Because most people don’t feel awesome every day of their lives. We get too bogged down in expectations and demands. We force ourselves to fit into other people’s visions for us, to allow their judgements to influence our behaviours and our choice of words, clothes, actions, careers, music, etc. We can’t be awesome when we are giving up our authenticity, or our passions and dreams. There’s no room for awesome there.

Awesome stems from being enlivened by life, by allowing our passions and dreams, our goals and desires a place to grow and flourish. When we allow others to tamp down our vitality, it’s very difficult to find awe in our daily lives, to find awe in each moment. But if we plant our feet firmly on the passionate path, staying true to what makes us happy, being honest with ourselves and others when we explain what we need and what we want out of our relationships, careers, etc., we will find that life can and should be totally awesome.

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

A Passionate Life

 

A Passionate Life

A Passionate Life

Years ago I started a little blog over at www.lifelivinginfulfillmenteveryday.com to help celebrate the wonderful message in my book Life. But it’s really hard to juggle two blogs at a time, so from this point forward, all things Marissa Campbell will be held in a nice, neat, and convenient place: here. :)

When I started on the path to writing Life, I had a plan. I wanted to live a passionate life. I wanted to feel the wondrous love of living. I wanted to experience the delicious scoop-full of vitality in my daily life. Part of the quandary was recognizing and appreciating what I already had, another part was looking for new and unique ways to bring more joy and fun into my life.

My philosophy is simple. Follow what feels good to you, what feels right. This cannot be done in a vacuum, we have to be considerate of other people’s feelings, but we also have to be considerate to our own and live our life authentically, being true to who we are and what we need and want. There must always be compassion for others as we embark on this passionate path, but we cannot compromise ourselves in the process.

As I sallied forth into this gloriously passionate life, I figured I would reflect and blog about things that I have experienced or insights I’ve had. I’ve tweaked and messaged my original idea and have come up with a new concept. Going forward, I will pick a word and expound upon it, and in my own unique and humble way, I’ll give you the nitty-gritty on feeling giddy. :)

Stayed tuned, and join me in a passionate life!

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

 

Let’s Make a Deal!

New Historical Fiction by Marissa Campbell

New Historical Fiction by Marissa Campbell

I am thrilled to announce that Raven’s Blood will be published by St. Martin’s Press imprint Thomas Dunne Books. Gratitude and much love and respect to my wonderful agent Margaret Bail of  Inklings Literary Agency.

As a reminder, here’s a little ditty all about Raven’s Blood. Can’t wait to see it on the shelves!

Avelynn wants equality. She wants love, respect, and the freedom to choose her life and follow her pagan faith. Unfortunately, she lives in Anglo-Saxon England.

It is the year 869, and Somerset has flourished under twenty years of peace. But with the whisper of war against the Vikings threatening their security, Avelynn’s father makes an uncompromising decision forcing her into a betrothal with Demas, a man who only covets her wealth and status.

As tension mounts between her unwavering convictions and Demas’s ambitions, Avelynn stumbles into a passionate affair with Alrik the Blood-Axe, a Viking warlord. In a summer of awakening passion, Avelynn finds the love and respect she craves, while Demas’s tactics to possess her become more desperate and increasingly brutal.

Avelynn challenges the country’s most powerful men, disregards the Christian church, leads an army into battle, and faces Alrik on the battlefield. Passion and desire come at a high cost and through her inexorable choices and actions, Avelynn risks losing everything she values most.

Set within the social and political turmoil of Alfred the Great’s England, Raven’s Blood brings the Dark Ages to light and illuminates one woman’s passionate struggle to fight for what she believes in.

Join me for a wonderful journey into ninth century England and on the road to publishing!

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

Good-bye

Goodbye: A short, short story by Marissa Campbell

Goodbye: A short, short story by Marissa Campbell

Raindrops glisten and plop, falling off glossy leaves. My boots shuffle, the dirt loose under foot. The shovel rests against a slender sapling in silent vigil. A smooth grey rock, streaked with veins of pink and white, placed with care—a reminder. The peony weeps velvet blossoms. The air is still, heavy with damp. The clouds mourn, mixing with my tears. Plop, plop. I clasp the worn collar in my hands, the leash limp hangs by the back door. Good-bye.

 

 

 

Vikings are Sexy!

Raven's Blood by Marissa Campbell

Raven’s Blood by Marissa Campbell

A little Viking foreplay … a peak from Raven’s Blood … Enjoy :D

By the time the wine was finished, I was feeling warm and languid. “You’ve been to Francia and Ireland … but where is home?”

“I am from Västergarn, Gotland, an island off the eastern coast of Sweden. My Grandfather is Jarl there.” He leaned against the log, the fire between us. “And you are from England.”

“I live a day’s ride from here. It was quite the adventure to meet you this evening.” I proceeded to tell him about Ealhswith and her daring plan to help me with my deception.

“I am forever in her debt.” He poked the fire with a stick, sending a procession of hot, orange embers floating upwards. “I hadn’t thought of the means necessary for you to meet me. I was focused solely on what it took to make my way back to you.”

It hadn’t occurred to me there would be challenges for him either, but I felt rather pleased with the notion that he had gone to some length to see me again. “What could possibly stop a Viking from getting what he wants?”

The distance between us evaporated, and he pulled me onto his lap, my skirt rucked up to my waist, his intentions hard and clear beneath me.

“Nothing,” he said and proved it.

Blonde

As part of my new risk taking adventure … I set up an appointment to colour my hair. I am very partial to my long hair, so cutting it was not an option, but I thought perhaps I could colour it, change in baby steps. I took a photo—the before photo—and prepared for my trip to the hair salon.

The before picture

The before picture

I talked with the hair stylist, asked about colour choices, and decided on red. I went strawberry blonde about fifteen years ago and it was a blast. Something about having red hair made me bolder, brasher. I liked it. :)

But when I considered the arduous journey back to blonde, my feet started to grow colder. Colour doesn’t damage the hair as much as bleach. So, to put the colour on, to go red, wouldn’t destroy my hair, but what if I didn’t like it? What if I grew tired of being a redhead? The trip back to blonde was fraught with dangers.

First, to bleach a whole head of hair wouldn’t be advisable. I would have to take large sections of my hair and highlight them blonde over a series of applications. Once every six weeks. Eventually, most of my head would be blonde, the remainder of the red would have faded considerably. The problem is of course, they cannot match my natural colour. They could get close, but it wouldn’t be the same. Plus all the bleaching would seriously damage and dry out the ends … leaving me the possibility of having to cut much of the ‘dead ends’ off. This could result in a serious trim, and like I mentioned, I definitely didn’t want to cut my hair.

That said, the honest and easiest approach was to cancel my hair appointment and keep things just the way they are. With me still blonde. :)

My next attempt at risk taking will be to try dirt biking … as in on a motorcycle … on a dirt trail …

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

Nudist Colony?

Risk Taker by Marissa Campbell

Risk Taker by Marissa Campbell

 

What do nudist colonies, biker bars, zip lining, and air travel have in common? They are all suggestions from my well intentioned friends when I asked them to give me ideas … things to do in my new risk taking adventure.

Sometimes, life swings us into ruts … periods of inaction or immobility. Lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten caught up in the safety and security of the mundane, the apathy of routine, and I find life just doesn’t hold the same passion, the same spark it used to.

Novelty is the spice of life—new people, new situations. But when we are involved in long-term relationships, long-term jobs, mortgage payments that will take twenty-five years or more to pay off … things can get … well boring. They drag. The fun gets sucked out of it all.

Risk taking brings back the excitement. It fills us with passion and vitality. It throws our world upside down. It shakes things up, enlivens us. But taking a risk, trying something new—something perhaps out of our comfort zone—also takes courage.

I suffer from anxiety. Always have. It’s just something I live with. But I’ve noticed as time goes on, my ‘threshold’ for stress is getting lower and lower. My ability to handle multiple things thrown my way has gotten smaller and smaller. Little things that would have slid off my back, like water off a duck, now stick, and congeal, manifesting as headaches, IBS, or muscle tension.   

I have big heart-pounding, stomach-clenching, hands-sweating fears around bridges, ferries, and airplanes. I don’t want to be under a bridge (it could collapse on me). I don’t want to be on the bridge (it could collapse and I would fall down with it. I don’t want to be on a ferry trapped in my car if the boat goes down. And I certainly do not want to be trapped in an airplane, since the idea of plummeting thirty thousand feet to a fiery death has no attraction for me whatsoever.

We all have ‘big’ fears, but when even little things start to throw us for a loop … that’s when we have to examine our lives and consider … how can I stop this from getting out of hand.

One way to do that is to desensitize ourselves to the fear, the anxiety. If you are afraid of snakes, you might start by looking at a picture of a snake, then imagining/visualizing yourself in a pet store with a small garter snake tucked safely behind glass. Next steps would be to actually walk into the pet store. Just being in the same building as snakes, then maybe walking to where you can actually see them, then one day, ultimately, holding one. For people who are afraid of snakes, even the thought of that final step is terrifying.

Risk taking involves building our ‘Risk Muscle’. This isn’t something we can just jump into—I for one am not about to jump out of a plane. You have to start small, build your muscle one step at a time. Baby steps. I may start with imaging myself on a bridge, then work up to actually standing under the bridge, watching my breath, in and out, in and out, in and out, until the wave of anxiety passes. And it will, if I can stay there long enough. Every strong emotion has a wave value/expression to it. It ebbs and flows. Anger, sadness, grief, even panic attacks, come on strong, peak, then reside. The trick is learning how to ride the wave.

So I have a plan. I’m going to build my risk muscle slowly. Starting small … little things like, maybe dying my hair another colour. I’ve been blonde … well, since I was born. Maybe trying something I wouldn’t normally ever eat that doesn’t compromise my gastric sensitivities.

Ultimately I’d like to get on a plane and go somewhere. This is not to say I haven’t been on a plane – I’ve been on two – each twenty years apart – and each time terrifying. But I did it, and I’d like to try and do it again.

But I need your help. I need ideas, suggestions. What are some risks I can take? What are you afraid of? What would you like to try to overcome? Maybe you might like to try the challenge with me?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

Antidote

Midnight in Paris by Marissa Campbell

Midnight in Paris by Marissa Campbell

I just finished watching Midnight in Paris, and I was struck speechless by a line Gertrude Stein (played brilliantly by Kathy Bates) said to the protagonist Gil. I’m not sure if this was a real quote from the legend herself, or Woody Allen’s interpretation. Either way it was brilliant.

She says: “We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”

Let me just say … WOW.

As a writer, and I say this with love, many of my fellow writers are tortured souls, myself included. I suffered from depression and anxiety and lurking behind the façade of keeping it all together, of keeping it real and happy was a feeling of emptiness, of despair, of loneliness, and misery.

In other words … many artists LIVE in the emptiness of existence and search their entire lives for the antidote. For some, it may be alcohol, drugs, sex, or shopping … anything in excess … anything used as a means of avoidance or denial; and our day to day life is a slog, trying not to ‘succumb to despair.’

I’d like to offer an antidote, but the truth is there may not be one. This is how our mind functions; it’s what makes us creative, powerful, reflective, brilliant. We are all tortured and troubled. We are all struggling to find meaning, to create order out of chaos, to find relevance and connection in our lives.

If we can’t avoid it, or run away from it, we must accept it. We must find others who share our convoluted way of looking at the world; we must surround ourselves with other writers and artists if only to know we are not alone! We need a support group.

Hello, my name is Marissa, and I’m a writer.

White Bristles

This is a free flow exercise I did recently during a writing retreat. The facilitator led us through a relaxation exercise followed by visualization.  The concept was to keep writing, keep the pen moving until time was up. This is the piece that resulted:

White Bristles, by Marissa Campbell

White Bristles, by Marissa Campbell

“Come sit on the bed, love,” she says.

I move closer, my bare feet on the carpet not making a sound. My pyjamas, a soft cotton, keeping the summer night’s cool air from making me shiver. The window open to the sound of crickets, a train whistles in the dark distance, the full moon brilliant in the ink sky. I sit on the bed.

She lifts my hair in her hands and begins to brush, the white bristles smoothing out my long blonde hair. She finds a tangle; her strokes slow, her attention gentle and light until the knot gives way, the strokes rhythmic once more.

I missed my grandma. She was closer to me than my mother, their home more comforting than my own. I would count the days until the weekend, until I could once again climb my trees, play in my garage, eat warm apple pie and get tucked into bed, the pink lava lamp globing and sinking, breaking and floating, its motion a lullaby, my grandmother’s words, ‘I love you,’ embracing me each night as I drifted off to sleep.

In gratitude,

Marissa xo