Kai Chronicles

Eating, exploring and enjoying life


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What I know about women – Friendships

partner in wine

Women + wine…what more can I say? (I’m on the other side of the lens but that’s my glass)

It’s International Women’s Day and Sarah Wayland over at thatspaceinbetween has invited me to another link-up post about being a  woman…or what I know about women. Thank you Sarah.

Up there is a picture of my best friend, Gillian. I’m not sure I can write anything meaningful about being a woman but I can write something about my  friendships with women. The following was sent to me by Gillian…I didn’t need this evidence from Stanford University but it’s an interesting read.

In an evening class at Stanford University the last lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps is to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of wellbeing. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very GOOD for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym. There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged? Not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health. Forward this to all your girlfriends to stay in touch, just like I just did! Thanks to all the girls in my life who have helped me stay healthy, happy, and feeling very loved.

I left Canada just over 13 years ago and honestly, I have made very few bonding friendships since. Last May, I returned “home” to visit family and friends and I was surprised how some of my old friendships stayed in tack. Sure, we stay connected through emails, Facebook and Christmas cards but it was in their presence that I felt like there had been no space, time or distance between us.

Let me tell you about each fabulous friendship.

 

Gillian 

J and G Halifax

Gillian and I in Halifax 2012 (yes, that’s fog)

Gillian and I have known each other since grade eight or so, which means 14/15 years old. We ran in the same circle of friends but we were not close at school. It was not until 1991 or so that we crossed paths with the thanks to a mutual friend. I ended up moving in to a 4 bedroom flat that Gillian lived in and we became roommates. She was a university student and I was a chambermaid; our social circles didn’t mix. But we shared interests and a true friendship formed. When I moved out west in 1993 we keep in touch via phone and letters.

I returned east after a break-up at Christmas 1995 and stayed in our old flat for 3 months before reuniting with my boyfriend and moving back in April 1996. Gillian also went through a break-up and moved west just before my return. We now lived closer but  still too far for coffee catch-ups. But soon enough even that would change.

In 1997 when my relationship was deemed unrepairable, I moved further west and closer to Gillian. We now saw each other regularly and eventually got a flat together. It was during this time, a time of many ups and downs in both of our lives that a lifelong friendship was sealed, though I didn’t realise it then.

We’ve watched each  laugh & cry, triumph and fail even at distances of damn near 20,000kms. When I went back to Nova Scotia (our home province where Gillian returned to in 2005) last May I really didn’t think we were that close anymore. Surely, we had moved on. There was so much time and distance between us that I thought maybe we’d be different. We weren’t. It was as if I had seen her the week before. We just picked up where we left off. This is what confirmed our lasting bond.

We are now planning to meet up in Bali for a “girls only” holiday. I cannot wait.

Lori

Lori_me

Me and Lori in her home 2012

I met Lori in 1987 when I had run away from home. I was 16 years old and on the run with a much older man (I’ll use the term loosely). We lived above Lori and her then husband and 2 young boys. I remember one of the very first things Lori said to me. It was, “Are you pregnant?”

She just couldn’t understand why I was with that man and figured it must be because he had knocked me up. I was in a strange city with a strange man and in a very strange relationship. I was very far from home and had no one. Lori became my confidant, friend and saviour.

During the worst times, she suggested I get on a bus or train and go home. She even offered to pay my way even though she didn’t have any money. She was living in a mess of her own but yet she still powered on to try to keep me from being hurt and abused. It was only recently that I learnt that she was in the same situation as I was…she just hid it a lot better than I did.

I eventually returned home with the help of the “man”. Unfortunately that story didn’t end there but more happily,  either did my friendship with Lori.

We kept in touch and when I was eventually on my own and working, I saved up to return to that big city for a holiday..more than once. She and her family even visited me in Nova Scotia a couple of times. It’s funny how meeting a certain someone can influence our own lives and change our path. Lori eventually separated from her husband and moved to Prince Edward Island (a province near Nova Scotia)….I like to think I influenced that positive change.

I had never been to the island (PEI) and with Lori living there, I knew it was time to go. We had not seen each other in 19 years!!!!

19 years! But again, it was like little time had gone by. She was the same: talkative, funny, shocking, friendly and caring. We’ve both come so far from those hardships of 1987. I know that PEI must be added to every Canadian itinerary even if another 19 years passes before I get there.

Yui

Yui and me 2012

Me and Yui in beautiful BC 2012

 

I was living in the Banff YHA (hostel) in 1993 when I met Yui. We shared a room. I was living there because I was down & out, she was there as a traveller who was keen to stay. I had an interest in Japan and wanted to learn the langauge. She was a good teacher and that was the start of our long friendship.

Yui played an important part to my  life path in 1993.

One day, Yui came “home” and said she found a french couple who were looking to reduce the rent of their studio apartment. I was keen to leave the hostel and reduce my living expenses too. So, Yui and I moved in with the frenchies….4 of us in a one room apartment. It was short-lived because it just-so-happened that a very good-looking bloke I had been introduced to 2 months prior lived right across the hall and we hooked up quite rapidly.

I moved in with D and Yui stayed with the couple for a while. Over the next couple years, Yui came and went from Banff but it was home for both of us for a long time. On one of her returns, she even lived with D & I for a month with her boyfriend from Japan.

The thing I love about Yui is her bluntness. She says things like they are whether it’s hurtful or not. She doesn’t filter. And I can say that I love it now, but there have been times when I hated it. There have been times when I snapped at her but she always lets it roll off her. That’s inspiring.

My very last white Christmas was spent with Yui in Banff in 2000. She opened her home to me to stay with her over the holidays and it was a memorable time. We cooked together, partied together and she taught me how to snowboard. Yui is a very active woman and I know when I visit her, we will be out amongst nature.

So when I stayed with her in her new home in Revelstoke, BC I was geared up for 5 days of outdoor exploring: hiking, rock climbing, kayaking.

Yui is a fabulous cook too. She always makes me sushi and we often hang out in the kitchen.

Again, spending 5 days with her was easy, fun, active and like old times. I’m hoping she will visit me in Australia next…it’s your turn Yui.

 

So ladies, Happy International Women’s Day!! I salute you! 

 


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What I know about…resolutions

Ahh yes, it is that time again. The lovely Sarah Wayland at thatspaceinbetween is hosting another ‘What I know about’ series. The topic on discussion is what’s on the minds of many people who want to make a change in their life…resolutions.

Resolutions. That word that floats around in the air like hot, heavy humidity from December 31 until about the end of January, when it is then forgotten about until the next New Year’s Eve.

ny res

What do I know about resolutions? 

Resolutions are usually set to solve a problem. In my opinion (and experience), unless the problem is so severe that you absolutely cannot live with it any longer, you will not succeed in keeping your promise to yourself. Come on, breaking New Year’s resolutions are even more (in)famous then setting the damn things! But I do have a success story that I’d love to share….even if it is a cliche.

It was the eve of 2001. I was in Banff, Canada spending a beautiful white Christmas and New Year with my friend, Yui.

banff winter

 

Yui and I had met there in 1993 when we both were living at the YHA and had become close friends. I had left Banff in1997 and moved to British Columbia but longed for another mountainous white Christmas. And let me say this, I have never been anywhere more gorgeous than Banff at Christmas. It’s a true winter wonderland. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was my last Christmas in Canada and I hold the greatest memories of it in my head and heart for many reasons.

By the end of 2000, I had been smoking for over 16 years. I had tried to quit many times before but would often cave after 2 or 3 months. I had severe sinus issues and asthma but the cigarettes always ranked higher than my health. I didn’t even enjoy smoking anymore but the habit and addiction held me prisoner.

stop-smoking-tips

Even though Yui smoked as well, she really rallied behind me to quit. So I decided that I would have my last cigarette just before midnight on December 31, 2000. I remember Yui and I smoking on her balcony. It was freezing cold and my lungs burned and cooled with every inhale and exhale. The mix of the cold and hot made me cough and wheeze. It was time to look after myself. I made the commitment to myself and my health right then and there and have not had a cigarette since.

Now, 12 years later I find it hard to believe that I ever smoked cigarettes. I’m happy to say that Yui has also since quit and is now a non-smoker. We are both health-conscious people and I’m a lot happier and healthier for it.

So resolutions can work but you have to ask yourself……….how badly to I want it?

I didn’t really set resolutions this year. I chose to set goals for 2013 instead with my most challenging one on day 5 today. I am rising at 5:30am every day for 30 days to do 10 minutes of meditation before I gear up for  1.5 hours+ of  Tracy Anderson style fitness. It’s gruelling and today I felt completely shagged afterwards but hey, it’s 10:15am and I don’t have to think about exercise until 6am tomorrow and I’m loving that aspect!

The thing is…..I want the result of a toned body so badly that there is no way I will let myself renege on this deal. I’m even starting to crave it; I want to push myself.

So whatever your resolutions or goals are this January and beyond, remember to be true to yourself. I may not know much about resolutions, but I do know that much!

Be joyful.


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What I know about writing

When I was asked to participate in a theme blog post called, ‘what I know about writing’ by Sarah Wayland at that space in between, I must say I didn’t understand the exercise. It wasn’t until I saw her post and the other links and how to “link up” that I really got it.

Yes, I feel like a twit for it but I do my writing without a need to be technical so I don’t “get” how to set up what Sarah has done, but nevermind, I am honoured to have been asked.

I have been writing for a long time but I never considered it as a job or career until I was in my mid-thirties. I saw being a writer or author like being a movie star or pop singer……WAY out of my reach. Plus, I was not talented.

Then when I became a stay-at-home mum, I decided to do an online writing course and I saw that writing was a possibility for me. I quickly found a spot as a regular contributor in the local newspaper. It boosted my confidence and I felt like I was onto realising my “purpose”.  But, like many writers have done at some point in their journey, I lost my esteem. I  gave up on writing when we moved states.

For 3 years I didn’t write anything more than dark poetry or short diary entries and I focused on making money the physical way. I started my own cleaning company and did well with it. That wasn’t for me but I kept at it because the money was so good and went down another path that I thought I wanted to go down. I enrolled in a course to become a professional counsellor. And, after 7 months of failing at that…I admitted to myself that I was a writer.

Thank goodness for the Sydney Writers’ Centre. It was when I did their online writing for magazines and newspapers course that I really felt I was given the skills, motivation and inspiration to pursue a career in writing. That was 2 years ago and it has not been an easy climb, and I’m nowhere near the top but I’ve made some progress.

So, based on what I know about writing, here are some tips for aspiring or even experienced writers:

  • Educate yourself. I don’t think you need a degree in journalism or a masters in English to be a decent writer. I certainly don’t have those things. But practical, hands-on courses that teach you exactly what you need to know and do are valuable.  I cannot recommend SWC enough. I’ve also done a mentoring program with Alan Close, which was fabulous. He taught me so much about being a writer.
  • Join a writers group, either in person or online. As a grad of SWC, I am part of their online Facebook group and the support, advice, tips, praise and love we give and get is invaluable. I’m sure there are other groups like this out there. None as fabulous as the SWC one though (my opinion).
  • Give it go. In order to get published, you must knock on some doors. It takes nerve and confidence to put yourself  out there but I have gotten jobs just by ringing up an editor and asking. The answer will not always be yes, but sometimes it will be. In this industry, it is true that you must have a thick skin. I’m very sensitive by nature but I’ve toughened up heaps in the past 2 years.
  • Write every day. I don’t always do this but most days I do write, even if it’s only working on new pitches.
  • Stick with it. It’s hard in the beginning (and in the middle) especially after your first rejection, but as soon as you get published once you can be on your way to a career in writing, if you choose.
  • Although I say stick with it, when it becomes all-consuming and stressful, take a day or two off. Sometimes you must take a step back before you can move forward.
  • Read. Every great writer is an avid reader. This includes all the publications you want to be in. Read, follow and study them religiously!
  • Never, ever, ever, give up! If you want it bad enough you will do it and you will succeed. Ask, believe, receive (after lots of hard work).

Thanks to Sarah Wayland for the opportunity to share my writing wisdom! Check out the other talented writers who have contributed to that space in between’s ‘What I Know About Writing’ blog post!!!