The Lucky One

“You fall in love and stuff happens.” Nicholas Sparks’ description of this latest-bestseller-turned-movie is an accurate one.

Ex-Marine Logan (Zac Efron) gets out of Iraq alive, but suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He leaves his sister’s house and walks from Colorado to Louisiana, searching for the mysterious blonde woman whose picture sustained him through his ordeal in Iraq. He finds Beth (Taylor Schilling) running a canine kennel with the help of her outspoken grandmother, Ellie, played by Blythe Danner.

At first hesitant, Beth hires Logan to help on the dog ranch and eventually falls in love with him. Other characters include Beth’s ex-husband, Keith, a local cop (Jay R. Ferguson) and Beth’s son, Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart).  Minor tension is created when Keith threatens to take away Ben unless Beth ends her relationship with Logan.

In a recent interview, Sparks admitted that while there are romantic elements in his sixteen novels, he does not consider them romances. He says, “It is a different genre than what would be typically called a romance novel…Romance novels are romantic fantasies with happy endings, for the most part. People read them because they know what to expect.”

Hmm…I found The Lucky One to be predictable, but comfortable fare, with beautiful scenery and soundtrack.

Wellness Show

Best Western Conference Centre–Guelph, Ontario–Saturday, April 28, 2012

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Show Planner Lee Pryke’s mission was to bring together the people she met on her journey of making healthy choices and to share that knowledge with the Guelph community. Her positive energy was evident everywhere as I wandered through the lobby, Main Ball Room and Speakers Area. I particularly enjoyed the sessions with Joanne Johnson and Sarah Schlote.

Joanne  is part of the well-known Body Break team (Hal and Joanne Johnson). Joanne discussed the importance of knowledge and information, focusing on the health supplements offered by True Star.

In her session, Sarah shared aspects of her own life journey with us. This articulate and engaging speaker suffered through childhood trauma and bullying which resulted in years where she wore a social mask and avoided stressful situations. She presented three keys for overcoming stress: mindfulness, grounding and containment and boundaries. She ended with a guided meditation.

Happiness by Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Jane Kenyon (1947 – 1995)

The Art of Storytelling

For the most part, I enjoy listening to writers read from their novels. The book comes alive as its creator breathes life into each word and punctuation mark. But sometimes, the writer’s storytelling abilities fall short and I’m left to question why his or her speaking voice is so different.

There is a definite art to storytelling.

Recently, I participated in a workshop facilitated by Sya Van Geest of the Guelph Storytellers Guild. She displayed her well-honed communication skills as she interspersed her PowerPoint presentation with folk tales. It is easy to see why she is so well received by all her listeners.

At one point, she turned the tables on us and asked us to tell the stories behind our given names.

A few of her hints…

  • Get out of yourself when you tell a story. Realize that you are only the conduit of the story.
  • Stories are meant for the ear. Do not memorize the story before telling it.
  • You can find your stories in different places. Be alert to what you see, hear and read.
  • Throw your voice.
  • Practice your story by living and feeling it. Have it in your head and go over it many times…before falling asleep, while doing chores, while driving.
  • When telling your story, build on the positive energy of attentive audience members. Ignore the one or two audience members who may be sleeping or not paying attention.
  • Trust your instincts. There is no one way to develop a personal style.
  • One of her suggested resources: New Tales for Old by Gail deVos and Anna Altman

Book Club Night

Last evening, nine of us gathered to discuss Beth Powning’s novel, The Sea Captain’s Wife. While some of the ladies found parts of the book too slow and drawn out, I was captivated by this tale of adventure set in the 1860s.  While reading the book, I thought of the Hero’s Journey and the many trials of Job.

Azuba, the daughter of a shipwright in New Brunswick, has grown up around the water and dreams of sailing around the world with her husband. But when she marries veteran captain Nathaniel Bradstock, he insists that she stay on land and avoid the perils of sea voyages. Bound by the social mores of the era, Azuba honours her husband’s wishes and resigns herself to having an absentee husband. After a miscarriage, she befriends the local minister and spends an innocent evening with him. When Nathaniel returns, he hears the gossip and informs his wife that he has changed his mind. Azauba and their daughter, Carrie, must accompany him on the next sea voyage around the world.

In the journey that follows, the Bradstock family encounters many challenges, among them sea storms, threats of mutiny, dwindling supplies,  and a pirate attack. Powning’s research skills are impeccable. We can easily imagine the dangerous beauty of Cape Horn, the stifling heat of the tropics and the grandeur of European and American port cities during the 19th century.

Powning also addresses many of the themes we still struggle with today:  What are we willing to sacrifice for our desires? What happens when our dreams are realized, but not to our specifications?

In an interview, Powning admitted to having insight into Azuba’s life. In 1972, she and her husband bought a 1870’s farm in New Brunswick, where they established a pottery business. The couple had one telephone on a twelve-party line, a wringer washer, a wood cook stove and a clothes line.They cut their own firewood and hauled it down from the forest. She provides the following vivid description: “Going to the outhouse, fireflies made an erratic blinking in the meadows. Nights, there was silence, save for the rushing of rivers and the call of owls.”

Historical fiction at its best–I highly recommend this novel written by an excellent Canadian author.

Eat Your Way to Publication

According to Dr. Frank Lawlis, author of The Brain Power Cookbook, it is possible to eat our way to higher intelligence and greater creativity. He strongly believes that a protein-rich diet is essential for improved mental focus and creative success.

One of his clients had dreams of becoming a published writer, but her manuscripts were rejected consistently. Overweight by nearly 100 pounds, she snacked on processed and sugar-based foods. With his help, she switched to a diet that included grilled chicken and fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables.  She lost 60 pounds and published a series of children’s books.

In his book, Dr. Lawlis includes the following tips for writers and artists…

  • Prepare foods that are made from from natural foods, especially those free of preservatives and dyes.
  • Iron-rich foods will help us think more clearly and learn new tasks easily. Liver and lean beef are the best sources.
  • Vegetarians can obtain iron through dark green leafy vegetables and dried fruits such as raisins, figs, and apricots.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C, (oranges, bell peppers, kiwi) will help the body absorb iron more quickly.
  • Coffee contains one of the most amazing creativity boosters–caffeine.  One to two cups daily will stimulate the imagination. More than that can cause the jitters and reduce focus.

Chopra/Oprah Tour–A Class Act

Last night, Oprah welcomed spiritual master Deepak Chopra to her life class at Radio City Music Hall in New York. A global leader in the field of mind-body medicine, Deepak Chopra is a prolific author of 65 books, including 19 New York Times bestsellers.

Throughout the two-hour program, Oprah and Deepak Chopra discussed and  answered questions about spirituality. I particularly liked the segment where he shared his STOP formula for controlling unwanted thoughts.

S=Stop

T=Take three deep breaths

O=Observe what is happening in your body

P=Proceed with kindness and compassion

My favourite quotes…

5.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

4.  The highest form of intelligence is being able to observe yourself without judgment.

3.  You can believe the diagnosis, but never believe the prognosis.

2.  I use memories, but I do not allow memories to use me.

1.  The past is gone. The future is not here. Now I am free of both. Choose joy.

What is your favourite quote?

Inspired by the JAWS story

It is easy to get discouraged when working on any long-term project. While there are days when everything flows smoothly, the occasional setback can derail my well-laid plans and prevent me from moving forward.

Whenever I hit a slump, I recall the story behind the making of JAWS.

In 1973, the late producer David Brown, came across Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws and spent an entire evening reading the book. He and fellow producer Richard D. Zanuck agreed that it was “the most exciting thing that they had ever read” and purchased the movie rights. Later, Brown said that if he had read the book twice, he would never have made the film.

They reluctantly hired a young, unknown director named Steven Spielberg and set a shoestring budget of $3.5 million and a shooting schedule of 55 days. The budget escalated to $12 million and it took 155 days to film the movie. The 26-foot mechanical shark was never tested for use and sunk to the bottom of the harbour on its first day in the waters off Martha’s Vineyard.

This setback was actually a blessing in disguise. When Spielberg realized he wouldn’t have too much working footage of the shark, he used shots, music and dialogue to create an eerie and tense vibe. The music score by John Williams has become one of the most recognizable pieces of music ever created for a film. Whenever I watch the movie, I am always aware of the shark’s presence.

In addition to the technical problems, Spielberg had to deal with bickering between actors Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. Author Peter Benchley disapproved of the film’s climax and was booted off the set.

The rest is movie box office history: JAWS became a big summer blockbuster and the first film to break $100 million in box-office totals.

Memorable quote from David Brown: Under no circumstances face the facts.

Sundays for Writers

This afternoon, I joined several other members of Guelph Write Now for our monthly meeting at Lucie’s Restaurant in south Guelph. I look forward to meeting with other writers and talking about our respective writing journeys.

Lots of discussion and advice floated around the table as we discussed the pros and cons of social media, ebook covers, our WIPs and Fifty Shades of Grey. Organizer Cindy Carroll provided us with three prompts and we wrote spontaneously. Afterward, we shared out stories and commented on the different interpretations of the prompts.

We also enjoyed the delicious coffee, tea and desserts.

This is It by Lao Tzu


Always we hope
Someone else has the answer,
Some other place it will be better,
Some other time
It will all turn out.

This is it.
No one else has the answer,
No other place will be better,
And it has already turned out.

 

Lao Tzu was a philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching.