So Excited!

Avelynn by Marissa Campbell

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Embrace a New Mindset

Embrace a new mindset.

In my book LIFE: Living in Fulfillment Every Day, Grace encourages Eve to embrace the main goal, the big plan … and that is to always follow what feels good! Embrace your passions; enflame your desires; do the things you enjoy, the things that invigorate you, that make you come alive!

While we don’t speak about this directly in the book, sex could be one of the things that you might want to experience more of on this wondrous physical journey. As women, sex is a multifaceted quandary. It is psychological as well as physical. When we were young, we may have been bursting with sexual curiosity, but in expressing that part of ourselves, we would have opened ourselves to society’s censure and risked incurring the wrath of derogatory labels—think the Scarlett Letter. Or perhaps we embraced the opposite philosophy and practiced abstinence and still experienced social and peer pressure to change. As we get older, we may find ourselves in a committed relationship, and we might be so caught up in our careers or parenting that sex is relegated to the ‘to-do list.’ Stress is great at depleting desire. Or, as is too often the case, our body image and self-judgement might dampen our fervour, at any age.

A friend of mine was very self-critical about herself and her body. She was married to a wonderful man who absolutely adored her, and accepted her for who she was … but she would not accept herself. Because she erected a concrete wall of self-consciousness between them, their sex life dwindled, in fact it was teetering on life support. She desperately craved intimacy, but she resisted having sex, because she didn’t like her body and felt self-conscious in bed with her husband. He didn’t understand her torment and tried to reassure her, but she couldn’t get past her negative beliefs.

Our ego with its negative self-talk can ruin a perfectly good evening—or morning depending on your preferences. It’s hard to get ‘into the mood’ when our mood is wallowing in self-inflicted cruelty and criticism. There have been a lot of negative comments about plus-sized models lately. These women do not view themselves as ‘plus sized,’ but rather believe we need to take stock and embrace a healthier model of beauty. There will always be detractors in life, and standing in your own strength takes courage and perseverance. A Scarlett Letter can only hurt if you allow people to stick pins in you, otherwise the label just slides off.

Beauty comes from the inside. If you are a kind, loving, joyful soul, that beauty shines through and people naturally want to be around you. We all come in different shapes and sizes, like my co-author Annemarie and I say in the Life, we are all a magnificent collection of unique and colourful containers but inside we are filled with the same essence … a loving, beautiful soul. It’s often hard to appreciate that when society focuses on the container rather than the substance.

If my friend had left her ego at the door and invited her soul into the bedroom instead, I suspect she would have had a very different experience—one grounded in mutual respect, adoration, and love. I suspect, she would have rather enjoyed herself and the sensuous time spent with her husband because her head wouldn’t have been there sabotaging everything she truly wanted—a beautiful, honest, intimate connection with her partner.

Whether we doubt ourselves because of what society might think, or because of the limitations we impose on ourselves due to our negative self-criticism, it’s critical to honour what feels good to us!

While we were growing up, we tried to navigate a world that revolved around the ego. In other words, we were very concerned with what image we presented to the world around us— to the people around us. Should we be wild and adventurous, or conservative and practical? Our decisions determined how we presented ourselves on a daily basis. And we presented these images, these ‘holograms’ of ourselves to fit in, to be accepted. But at some point in our lives we want to take the bold step and turn off the hologram; embrace who we really are and what we really want, irrespective of other people’s opinions, judgments, and expectations!

This is the path to fulfillment—to truly finding a life of happiness and delight. Let go of the need to ‘fit in,’ to ‘be perfect,’ to ‘be who everyone else wants you to be,’ and simply be yourself!

Try a little experiment. The next time you are feeling a little frisky and the mind tries to interject its opinions. Kindly, but firmly tell it to butt out. Leave the ego outside the bedroom door, with all its negativity and doubts. Imagine for a moment, that you are born anew, without any expectations, or judgments.  Embrace a new mindset. Just for one night, see yourself for who you really are— a lusciously yummy, beautifully sexy, wondrous, and passionate woman. Then, see if you can embrace that idea of yourself from this moment on!

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

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Recipe for a Really Great Novel!

Recipe for a Great Novel

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You Draggle-tailed Bicche!

The Latest Word: Draggle

Draggle

To wet or befoul (a garment, etc.) by allowing it to drag through mire or wet grass, or to hang untidily in the rain; to make wet, limp, and dirty.

Draggle-tail

A draggle-tailed person; a woman whose skirts are wet and draggled, or whose dress hangs about her untidily and dirty; a slut.

Oh, I can have fun with this one! Used around the fifteenth/sixteenth century, I can’t wait to sneak this into one of my manuscripts.

During the many rounds of edits for Avelynn, I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful copyeditor, whose job it was to point out words that sounded grossly anachronistic for the tone and style of the novel. After perusing the changes, I sort of set upon a kind of lose time frame for my writing—anything that originated prior to the seventeenth century most likely stayed in the manuscript. Anything that was first used after 1600 tended to sound rather modern, but then again, not always. It was definitely a one word at a time approach, and sometimes, I had to leave the word in because there really wasn’t a good alternative.

Here’s some exciting ways to use our new D words:

I draggled behind. (The word can also mean to go slowly, trailing).

The onslaught was relentless; the horse’s pace mired to a crawl. I slid down, landed squelching in the muck, and pulled on the reins, urging the beast to press onward. We needed to find shelter. My cloak draggling behind soon weighed as much as a small cow, so drenched was it in mud and slime that the horse began to grow impatient with me.

“You draggle-tailed bicche!”

Yes, I think I’ll have fun with this.

In gratitude,

Marissa :) xo

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Gravely Mistaken

Gravely Mistaken

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Ain’t Nothin’ Captious About That

 

 

Cavilling

Cavil: cavilled, cavilling

To quibble, trick; To raise captious and frivolous objections; To find fault without good reason; To oppose by finding trivial faults.

Captious: captiously, captiousness

Apt to ensnare or perplex especially in arguments; Apt to notice and make much of unimportant faults or defects.

Reading the one, led to making sure I completely understood the other … so today’s post has two C words: cavil and captious.

I like these words because I can envision them fitting in nicely somewhere in a narrative of one of my novels or short stories. E.g., I wanted to smack him for his captious rejoinder. Or perhaps … I was tired of him cavilling every point I made. :)

Years ago, I delegated the district school board on relocation and boundary issues. Our community was a new one, and overpopulation at our local schools was rampant. The planning department was using outdated models of 1.5 children per household to determine the size and location of new schools. While that may seem like a reasonable number, in this particular community, with basement apartments and multiple family members residing in the same dwelling, that number was grossly under representative of the actual picture.

It was a challenging fight. I had local newspapers following the story closely, even the big city publications had their eye on the dilemma. I arranged for buses to bring parents to the meeting. I handed out flyers, knocked door-to-door collecting signatures for a petition. I spoke to everyone I could whose children were affected by these rigid, old-school practices. I went to the city. I obtained maps, and statistical data representing both past and projected future enrollment. I poured through figures. I worked out solutions. I polished my speech.

When the day came for my audience with the school board, I had four busloads of parents and their children in tow, not to mention the families that drove to the board head office to support us, including families from out of our immediate school zone. People scattered throughout the school board’s territory came in droves to lend their support. We were all fighting the same battle! We weren’t the only school whose children had been displaced and shuffled. My son attended four different schools and was subjected to four different boundary changes in five years of his elementary school life … and we NEVER moved! We lived at the same address, but the schoolboard wasn’t prepared for the influx of children and had nowhere to put them. Each change broke friendships and undermined any semblance of continuity in our children’s lives.

Back to the big day. There I am, in front of the trustees and superintendents with the support of hundreds of parents, the press in solidarity at our backs, even the school administration supported our efforts. I gave them no quarter. There was no loop hole in my arguments. There were suggestions and alternatives. I gave my all. The crowd of parents roared to their feet at the end of the presentation … and what did those elected representatives and educational leaders have to say? A captious, frivolous cavil of a response. They said, “Well, we’ve always done it this way.”

To say it was a staggering blow, is well, an understatement. The papers called it a travesty, where elected officials didn’t even bother to rise to the concerns of their constituents. The school board conceded on only one point. They changed some of their wording in their policy documents, so residents, when they looked hard enough, could read between the lines and come to the conclusion that by moving into this area, there was an understanding that their children were going to be relocated and moved about, consistently and constantly. At least this way they were being transparent.

In the end, our family stuck it out another two years in that district then moved away all together.

If someone has an objection to something I say or believe in, I’m a pretty easy going person. If they can base their opinions on balanced, reasonable, or well thought out responses, I will listen and respect their point of view, they might even sway my opinion. But, if they are going to cavil based on an outdated, ignorant view of history, or a familiar way of doing things, so as not to rock the boat, or just because they say so, well, then we have some work to do.

Check out this little nugget of wisdom:

Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas

“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.”

What do I take away from that passage? We are meant to think for ourselves, not to take things at face value just because someone has said it, thought it, or written it, but rather contemplate the true meaning, the true resonance/essence of the words, thoughts, or opinions. Then, if we look deep within ourselves and see that when they are put into action they will lead to happiness and wellbeing, well, then you know you have something. And there’s nothing captious about that! :D

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

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Bole – Day 2 of My Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan

Bole - The stem or trunk of a tree.

Bole – The stem or trunk of a tree.

Bole – the stem or trunk of a tree, or something cylindrical resembling a tree’s trunk, like a pillar or roll.

The first usage of this word according to the OED was around 1314—e.g., ‘His neck is thicker than a bole.’ ‘The gnarled boles of pollard oaks and beeches.’

When writing historical fiction it’s always a battle between authenticity and reader’s enjoyment. Avelynn is set in the year 869: a time when Old English reigned supreme—a form of our language that is unrecognizable today. If I wanted to make my book truly authentic, I’d be waist deep in obscure and obsolete words and usage that no modern reader could comprehend! The compromise then is to use today’s language to set the tone, without sounding too modern that the passages ring of anachronism—phrases or words that just sound grossly out of place, like saying ‘wowzers,’ or ‘that’s cool,’ in ninth century dialogue.

Bole is a nice word. It has nice, deep linguistic roots, but it’s not too obscure or odd sounding that I wouldn’t be able to slip it into the narrative without too much trouble. It’s also part of my APP – My Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan. Earlier, I opened my Webster’s dictionary to A and found algid. Today, I peeked onto the pages of the letter B and happened upon bole. I’m committing the words to memory to help grow my hippocampus. This tidy little word will come in handy. Be sure to look for it in one of the Avelynn novels … I’m sure I’ll find the perfect place for it. :D

In keeping with the three ‘Rs’ of writing and learning, as outlined by my children’s elementary school teachers: retell, relate, reflect … I’ve retold what bole is, I’ve related the word to my writing, now I’m going to reflect on something that makes it personal to me. This, all in an effort to make these words stick in my lagging short-term memory reserves and hopefully help grow my brain and ward off the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s, which as of 2015 has affected 47.5 million people worldwide.

Here then is an amusing anecdote for your reading pleasure:

When I was young, my grandparents owned a few acres of property.

My grandparent's farm

They didn’t have a ‘farm,’ per se, but my grandfather turned one of those acres into a large vegetable garden, which supplied a good portion of his culinary needs, as well as those of his friends and family who were lucky enough to get some of his surplus harvest. My grandparents also had several varieties of apple and pear trees, which garnered lots of delicious fruit for pies and tarts and just plain eating! I loved going to my grandparents. In fact, I was there most weekends of my youth.

Picture little blonde me, running around in pigtails, playing in the dirt, barefoot.

Little blonde me

Now, envision those apple trees. They were old, gnarled, and beautiful. Not like the squat and compact hybrids and cultivars of today, these thick boled giants were strong and sturdy, like protective, gentle matrons. Which leads me to my favourite past time—climbing the apple trees.

Solid and wide, the branches were twice my width and easily supported my tiny frame. I climbed them all. Admittedly, some were more challenging than others, but I didn’t give up, persevering until I could shimmy up each and every rough-barked bole and rest safely in the curve of a forked bough. I was a tomboy, in case you couldn’t tell. :D But of all the trees on the farm, there was one I held dear to my heart. Its boughs held me, supported me, cradled me, but it also provided a fantastic opportunity for make believe.

Tucked away safely in the nook between two hefty branches, my feet dangling on either side of the trunk, I would don my construction hat and become a foreman, the tree my excavator. The little shoots that emerged from knots and crannies in the bark were my levers and gears.

I would pull and push, lifting the great shovel up and down, while a tug or jerk on a separate shoot swung the gaping mouth from side to side. The amusing part of all this was, it was never a dig site, I was there to demolish stuff! I would raise the big arm, crash the claws down into the roof of an imaginary building and watch it chomp and tear away at the structure, swing after swing, blow after blow, until finally the building would collapse in a great puff of dust and smoke. It was a beautiful sight!

But alas, all good things must come to an end, and the horn blast would echo five o’clock throughout the construction site. I would congratulate the workers on a job well done, put my big rig into park, remove the keys, set my helmet on the seat, and climb down. It was then a quick scamper into the old farm house and a sprightly jump up on to the bathroom counter. With my toes wiggling in the warm sink water, my grandmother would scrub the dirt away until the brown water trickling down the drain turned clear. After all, every barefoot construction worker must wash their hands and feet for dinner. :D

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

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Historical Fiction Tease!

Brand new teaser for Avelynn!

Hope you guys like it. :D

In gratitude,

Marissa

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Too Much Information

I’ve been tagged a lot lately, but I haven’t been able to keep up with them all, but today, I’m playing along. The lovely Margaret Madigan and Charlotte Gruber double tag teamed me … so without further ado, a little too much information about me, you never wanted to know, lol. :D

-Toilet Paper – over or under: Definitely over. I think my husband puts it under just to drive me crazy, lol.

-Keyboard home row or not: I’ve been a home row user since high school and try and make sure my kids do the same. They didn’t particularly enjoy learning to type, even with SpongeBob helping out in his typing tutor, but once they got it, and the teachers started dishing out essays and ISUs they were mighty happy they could type (and therefore finish) faster than their friends who use the hunt and peck method.

-Left or Right handed: Right.

-Chicken wings boneless or bone-in: I prefer bone-in and slathered in honey garlic sauce.

-Wash body or hair first: Hair first. It takes me 3/4 of the shower just to shampoo and condition my hair—3/4 of that time is spent just trying to rinse the stuff out!

-Oreos: I like Oreos, but given the choice, I’m a Fudgee-O girl.

-Travel to the past or the future: I’d love to travel to the past. I’d love to visit ninth century England, Wales, France, Rome, Russia, Byzantium. Each of those locations play a role in my Avelynn series, and I’d love see them firsthand—to walk the streets, see the way the citizens dressed, see how they lived, how they interacted, smell the freshness of clean, unpolluted air and the reek of clustered village life. Of course, I’d have to make sure I could return. Unlike Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, I’m far too partial to the luxuries of modern living—most importantly central air conditioning in the summer and toasty furnaces in winter!

-Paperback or ebook: I love them both. I enjoy reading on my Kindle, especially when I’m feeling the need for immediate gratification and can’t wait for the mail to deliver a copy, or the time it will take for me to get up off the couch and drive to the store. But I also love reading paper copies. I need paperbacks or hardcovers for research—I can’t stand trying to look at maps and tables on a Kindle. But I will also buy a hardcover book, just to have a copy of it for my library. I have A LOT of bookshelves in my house!

-Cookies or ice cream: Definitely cookies. Cookies, cakes, pies, and tarts all come before ice cream … unless it’s delivered in the form of a milkshake. Chocolate milkshakes are my Achilles’ heel.

-Coffee or tea: I used to drink coffee, but my sensitive body can no longer tolerate the caffeine, so I’m a tea drinker now. But I don’t like plain black teas, I prefer Chai, or lemon green tea, or for nighttime, caffeine-free berry and herbal teas.

-Makeup: Always. Even to answer the front door.

-Sneakers or high heels: Sneakers or boots—depending on whether I’m rocking casual or playful.

-Favorite kiss, tongue or no tongue: Hmmm, depends on the kisser. :D

-Cash or Credit: Debit cards rule my life, much to my husband’s chagrin. I tend to lose track quite easily of how much I’ve spent that day, week, month … heck, you can’t take it with you, right?!

-Paper or Plastic: What an odd question. Um. All I can think of is grocery bags. Paper bags can be recycled; plastic bags just end up in the landfill, so in that instance, I’d say paper, but I prefer reusable bags … when I remember to put them in the car.

-Baseball or football: I like playing baseball, even though I’m terrified of the ball and hide in right field. I hate watching it on T.V., though … soooo boring. I do enjoy watching football and love the Super Bowl. But I’m Canadian, so really hockey is more rightly my thing.

-Morning or Night: So all about the night!

-Introvert or Extrovert: Extrovert. I love my friends and getting out and meeting people!

-Wrapping paper or Gift bags: Wrapping paper.

-Country or City: For convenience and social opportunities, I like the city. For rest and relaxation, I prefer the country.

-Fly or Drive: Not a fan of flying. I’ll drive as far as the land will let me.

-Tap or Bottled: Bottled.

-Flowers or Chocolate: I like them both. Flowers to look at and brighten my mood. Chocolate to savour and brighten my mood. :)

-Pencil or Pen: Pen.

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

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My Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan

Algid: chill, cold, freezing, frozen, frigid

Algidity. Algidness.

Today starts a new enterprise, a journey to increase the size of my hippocampi.

A recent Prevention Magazine  article: How to Beat Alzheimer’s at Its Own Game by Mike Zimmerman, spoke to the ways one can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Among good advice like eating well, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep, it suggested memorization might help us grow our brain—specifically the hippocampus, which is in charge of short-term memory (among other things).

There are two hippocampi that make up the structure called the hippocampus, and each section is roughly the size of your thumb. Unfortunately, with age, this little structure shrinks over time. The number they quoted in the article was 0.5% a year—every year starting around fifty years of age! That is a staggering decline. The article then went on to reveal that it doesn’t have to be a one-way, slippery slope into dementia, we can actually grow our hippocampi, make up the deficit, and gain back years of mental focus and clarity. We do this by challenging our wilting and lagging memory function. In other words, if you want bigger biceps, you have to lift weight heavy enough to force the muscle to rebuild and repair. If you want a bigger hippocampus, you need to challenge your short-term memory regularly in order to build new brain cells, make new connections, and establish new neural pathways.

This, I’ve decided, is where my good friend Webster comes in.

untitled

I’ve had this wonderful dictionary forever. It’s my go to, for obscure words, or when I swear a word exists, but I can’t find it in my lighter, much more portable, pocket version. I recommend everyone get their hands on a real, thick tome of a dictionary. There’s so much to learn in these beauties!

So, back to Alzheimer’s and Webster. Every day, I will be looking up a word in the dictionary and committing it to memory. I will use the three ‘Rs’ of reading to help me make connections. These rules of learning so rigorously delivered by all three of my children’s English teachers in elementary school are: retell, reflect, and relate. I’m hoping with this approach, the elusive new word will actually stick to my shrinking recall and help me flex my atrophying memory muscles.

I just finished reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova for my book club, and the entire time I was reading it, I was left wondering, am I going to get Alzheimer’s? My grandmother suffered terribly from the disease, and unlike Lisa Genova’s more uplifting authorial vision of the infliction for Alice, my grandmother lived in a very scary place. Wherever or whenever her memory took her, it was full of fear and suffering. She would often cry out and scream for the safety of her children, or for her husband. It was terrifying, and I was just watching it. She was living it, day in and day out.

My father-in-law is currently in the grips of his own battle with the illness. He too suffered from the negative effects of Alzheimer’s, with the disease bringing out episodes of violence and aggression, until it became dangerous for my mother-in-law to care for him.

It is a frightening disease, and for those of us passing from our twenties to thirties to forties and beyond, and for any one of us with children, or jobs, or multiple responsibilities, a lack of sleep, or stress, we may find our short-term memory sinking to dangerously tapped-out levels. When we read a book like Still Alice, we begin to seriously freak out that this could be happening to us. Right now. Even if we’re not aware of, or are we? That book messed with my head. But I wasn’t the only one. Several other moms in my book club also feared for the wellbeing of their intermittent memory recall. The book raised the spectre of fear, which dug its little hooks into my brain, but I’m determined to shake them free.

So … algid. Let’s see how I’m doing with the three ‘Rs’. I’ve retold the findings represented in Prevention Magazine, and I’ve reflected on my own reasons for starting this journey, including my grandmother, and the book Still Alice. Now, it’s time for me to relate the word to something so I can keep algid alive and well and fill up some good hippocampi space.

I have very low iron. In fact, I live with chronic iron deficiency every day of my life. It’s exhausting. I’m not anemic, but don’t bother telling my body that. I have algid hands and feet, and I’m stuck in a state of perpetual algidness. In the algid air of a winter’s morn, I’m bundled in twenty layers, and I’m still shivering. As I look out my window upon the algid landscape, fresh green grass and spring daffodils lay buried under a layer of ice and snow. I pine for warmer weather and the return of summer’s heat and glorious sunshine. Oh, if I could only break free from this algidity!

A fireplace and a dog. Perfect :)

Until then, Razz and I will huddle in front of the fireplace and wait, ever so impatiently for the algid temperatures to final rise and stay above zero!

 

In gratitude,

Marissa xo

 

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