Joy It Up!

Joy-It-Up

 

 

Every year around Christmas, I try to be a better, kinder person.

Not that I don’t do this on a daily basis, but I really try to step up my game around the Holidays. I try to be less grumpy, less judgmental, and less impatient. I try to give more (whether it be to homeless people or charities), try to smile more often and I try to do what I can to brighten the days of others.

For me, Christmas and Yule and the Holidays are really about being thankful for what you have, being grateful for what you’ve been given and finding the small joys when you can. Christmas is about the giving and receiving of joy, about the giving and receiving of kindness (at least for me).

Sometimes, the joys may seem small, but each one is a gift that resonates and stays with you. I try to repay the world in kind by holding open the doors for others, saying thank you to my bus driver or someone else who might hold the door open for me.

In the end, it’s all about being thankful for what you have already, grateful for what you’ve been given and finding your own joy, no matter how small. To that end, here’s a short list of things to be Thankful, Grateful and Joyous for.

These are my lists, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make your own. That way the small joys will be easier to spot!

All set? Here we go:

 

Things to be Thankful for

1 – A neighbor who held onto an expensive package for me when the postman left it on the wrong floor outside an apartment. (It was a limited edition, signed and numbered book! Gasp! More on this later!)

2 – My boss who brought me in Lip to Toe healing balm to help with my dry skin.

3 – A co-worker who got a cat toy for my cat Mave (who loves it!)

4 – Free chocolate (ALWAYs a plus)

5 – Getting my first work related certificate. Very awesome!

 

Things to be Grateful for

1 – My Sexy Boyfriend (who is beyond wonderful)

2 – My family (who I can’t wait to spend the Holidays with!)

3 – Mave, my cat, who is a constant source of comfort.

4 – Being able to work to pay the bills during the day and write in the evenings.

5 – A fancy new bag and new shoes (after all, one must always accessorize!)

 

Things to be Joyous for

1 – A new book by Darren Craske coming up (can’t WAIT to read Before His Time!)

2 – Reading two new books by Kelley Armstrong (Amityville Horrible, which is awesome AND Forbidden, which I’m waiting to read next.)

3 – Reading The Christmas Mystery by Jostien Garrder, one day at a time, until Christmas. It’s like a literary advent calendar!

4 – Being gifted with a reusable Kureg cup for the office coffee machine (less expensive than buying the coffee pods and better for the environment).

5 – Only a week till Christmas and only three days till Yule!!!!!

 

So go out there and find what joys you can, however small. When you do, then go out and spread your own joy to others. Yay for the Holidays!

 

Living With Ghosts

There were times that he wished he could be alone. It was difficult, for instance, to take a shower with someone watching you or eating your morning cereal with someone else trying to read the paper over your shoulder.

He didn’t mind, at first. He knew that he took a piece of everyone he met along with him: a memory, a thought, a quick snapshot with an iPhone, the sound of someone’s laughter. For some reason unknown to him, those things became the person they belonged to once he entered his apartment.

He supposed that ghosts was as good a word for what they were as any, though in most cases, the person the ghost belonged to had not passed on. Still, they would speak and sing and whisper at will. As the space of his small apartment began to fill with them, the noise grew so loud he found he couldn’t sleep.

Soon, he began to see ghosts outside of his apartment, too. They would follow other people around, lost without the comfort of a home, trailing behind people who were unaware of them like puppies. His eyes were opened further still when he realized that everyone lived with ghosts of one kind of another.

It was his neighbor who told him how to get rid of them. “Awfully loud in your apartment,” she said one day.

“You can hear them too?”

She scoffed at him. “Of course I can. You can’t hold on to everything, you know. You have to learn to let go of the past and live in the now. Otherwise, it’ll sound like you’re having a kegger in there every night. Everything becomes a ghost if you let it linger long enough.”

When I went back into my apartment, the walls were still and silent.

The Best Books of 2012 – Part One

book-christmas-tree1

Hey Everyone!

Every year, I put out a list of what I think the best books of the year were. And every year I agonize over just picking ten. Some years, this is pretty easy as sometimes there just aren’t that many great books throughout the year.

This year has been exceptionally tough to choose. I’ve read over three hundred books by this point and have a few more to read during December. I have found it absolutely impossible to just pick ten books. There was no way this year with so many amazing books out there.

So I’ve decided just to list the books I love, in no particular order. I’ve even posted links to all the reviews or blog posts I’ve written about each of them (and there are a LOT!). There are over 20 books on the list this year and more coming as December isn’t over yet!

But for now, why not take a click around and check out the current list of 24 books? There will be another shorter post with the rest of the list and then I’ll post them all together. Sweet!

So click around and check out the Best Books of 2012, Part One! Part Two will be coming later this month! Woooot!

1 – Wild by Cheryl Strayed

http://jamiesonwolf.tumblr.com/post/28362771415/a-wild-ride-oprahs-book-club-2-0-and-a-fantastic

http://jamiesonwolf.tumblr.com/post/26486312973/i-was-truly-thrilled-to-receive-a-gift-from

2 – The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

https://jamiesonwolfauthor.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/the-casual-vacancy-by-j-k-rowling/

3 – A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

4 – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

5 – The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith

6 – Bloodman by Robert Pobi

7 – The Twelve by Justin Cronin

8 – Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

9 – A Temptation of Angels, Whisper of Souls, Mistress of Souls and Rise of Souls by Michelle Zink

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/a-temptation-of-angels-by-michelle-zink/

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/whisper-of-souls-by-michelle-zink/

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/mistress-of-souls-by-michelle-zink/

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/rise-of-souls-by-michelle-zink/

10 – The Immortal Rules, The Iron Legends and The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/the-iron-legends-by-julie-kagawa/

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/the-lost-prince-by-julie-kagawa/

11 –Above His Station, The Lantern Menace and The Lazarus Curse by Darren Craske

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/above-his-station-by-darren-craske/

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/the-lantern-menace-by-darren-craske/

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/the-lazarus-curse-by-darren-craske/

12 – The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King

http://jamiesonwolf.tumblr.com/post/22659078150/on-being-on-the-cover-of-a-book

13 – 99 Reasons Why by Caroline Smailes

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/99-reasons-why-by-caroline-smailes/

14 – FREAKS! by Nik Perring, Caroline Smailes and illustrated by Darren Craske

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/freaks-by-nik-perring-caroline-smailes-and-darren-craske/

15 – Kissed by a Vampire by Caridad Pineiro

https://jamiesonwolfauthor.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/kissed-by-a-vampire-by-caridad-pineiro/

16 – Dark Eden: Phantom File and Dark Eden Eve of Destruction (Book and App) by Patrick Carman

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/dark-eden-phantom-file-by-patrick-carman/

http://thebookpedler.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/dark-eden-eve-of-destruction-by-patrick-carman/

http://jamiesonwolf.tumblr.com/post/18457112603/why-dark-eden-by-patrick-carman-is-awesome

Once Upon an Ancient Road….

Ancient Road cropped picture

When the Sexy Boyfriend told me that he had tried getting tickets for Loreena McKennit’s new tour (I had no idea she had even been going on tour) I was ecstatic. I listened to her as I was growing up and remember when my parents had gone to see her when she toured for The Visit and they brought me back some of the postcards from the show. I still have those.

Not seeing her in concert at that time was crushing. My step father played her music all the time and it was like listening to magic. That’s as close as I can get to describing her voice. So when the Sexy Boyfriend called me back and told me he had gotten tickets to see the Saturday December 1st show at the National Art Gallery, I was beyond the moon excited.

The whole experience was special for a variety of reasons for me, not the least of which was the fact that it would be my first official “concert”. I’ve seen performers in bars and what have you and close to beer tents. None of those count. However, Loreena’s performance went beyond a concert. It truly was magic personified.

She sang for three hours with one fifteen minute break (thank goodness the lines weren’t too bad for the men’s room as they were for the ladies, oy!) and even did two encores. When the Sexy Boyfriend told me that the show would go from eight in the evening until eleven at night, I didn’t believe him at all.

However, it totally did!

I’ve seen lots of plays and musicals and theatre shows, so when the show ended, I started getting on my coat and prepared to leave. The Sexy Boyfriend turned to me and said don’t worry, she’ll be back. She sang two more gorgeous songs and I left the theatre sated with music and song. The whole show was so seamlessly and simply done and it just flowed together, much like a journey along an ancient road: you might meet some people along the way and learn a thing or two.

Laureena McKennitt was lovely and wonderful between numbers. As she sang and played multiple instruments (I counted three kinds of pianos, an accordion and the harp) along with her band, she shared a bit of where she’d been and what she’d done and how she ended up where she was. During the show, she spoke of a play that she had tried to put on and sang and played two pieces that would have been. I don’t remember the titles but I came away with the feeling that Loreena McKennitt gave us a one woman show in its own way. It may not have been the play she envisioned, but she gave the audience a treat and a journey nonetheless.

Having played for three hours, it would be impossible to go over each song that she sung. But The Ottawa Citizen did do a glowing review that gives the entire playlist, including the encores! You can find that here:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/music/Concert+review+Loreena+McKennitt+offers+songs/7639977/story.html

Out of every song she sung, there were three that stuck with me most. Here are the youtube video’s for them. A mini youtube playlist, if you will.

The Lady of Shallot

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttv0ljOiPSs

Bonny Podmore

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55Zy8VPFP-E

Dickens Dublin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQNQRpxOHqo

One thing’s for sure, the entire evening (and the weekend leading up to it) was magic in its very essence. I mentioned a few reasons why the evening was so magical. One had to do with the fact that it was my first concert. One had to do with seeing Loreena McKennit. The other has to do with the Sexy Boyfriend.

That’s because, for such a magical evening, there isn’t any other person I would have chosen to share it with.

Three Keys

He handed me a tiny wooden box. It was made from cedar that had been stained a dark colour. There was a tiny golden lock inlaid into one of the sides. The box fit within the palm of my hand. I looked at him, took his eyes into me. “What is it?” I asked.

“I gave you the keys when we first met, remember?” His blue and grey eyes swirled, or seemed to. “The ones you’re wearing?”

I looked at him quizzically and pulled out the chain from underneath my shirt. He had given them to me after we had first started dating. They were light and slim-I had thought they were charms. I liked keys. I hadn’t given them any significance at the time except that they were beautiful.

The key on the right was a dark iron, the centre one a bright metal that he said was silver but I thought must be platinum. It never tarnished, never dulled. The third key was made of a darker metal, almost black, with a sheen that recalled midnight. He said it was obsidian but I knew that it wasn’t that. Obsidian wasn’t a metal.

He nodded and took the pendant in his right hand and took my right hand holding the tiny box and raised it up to the keys that rested in his palm. “See?” He said. “They go together.”

Looking down, I saw that what I thought was scrollwork on either side were two more holes. Three keys, three keyholes; I looked up at him. “Do you want me to open it?” I was normally so good with my words but they lost me then.

“Duh.”

I swallowed thickly, on a precipice. I inserted the keys and clicked each one. When I opened the box, there was light.

He handed me a tiny wooden box. It was made from cedar that had been stained a dark colour. There was a tiny golden lock inlaid into one of the sides. The box fit within the palm of my hand. I looked at him, took his eyes into me. “What is it?” I asked.

“I gave you the keys when we first met, remember?” His blue and grey eyes swirled, or seemed to. “The ones you’re wearing?”

I looked at him quizzically and pulled out the chain from underneath my shirt. He had given them to me after we had first started dating. They were light and slim-I had thought they were charms. I liked keys. I hadn’t given them any significance at the time except that they were beautiful.

The key on the right was a dark iron, the centre one a bright metal that he said was silver but I thought must be platinum. It never tarnished, never dulled. The third key was made of a darker metal, almost black, with a sheen that recalled midnight. He said it was obsidian but I knew that it wasn’t that. Obsidian wasn’t a metal.

He nodded and took the pendant in his right hand and took my right hand holding the tiny box and raised it up to the keys that rested in his palm. “See?” He said. “They go together.”

Looking down, I saw that what I thought was scrollwork on either side were two more holes. Three keys, three keyholes; I looked up at him. “Do you want me to open it?” I was normally so good with my words but they lost me then.

“Duh.”

I swallowed thickly, on a precipice. I inserted the keys and clicked each one. When I opened the box, there was light.

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