Family Lines

stories for you

Month: January 2018

It’s time

Ripped and torn burgundy plastic wallet.

What is this?

What is this ratty, ripped and torn burgundy thing? It’s my wallet. Well, the wallet where I keep my credit and debit cards. The writing on the front and back of the plastic folio has faded and the pockets inside are split open. I’ve tried taping the sides together but it’s no use. It’s time to let it go.

I’ve had the wallet for almost 20 years. I use it almost daily and every time I use it, I remember where I got it: South Korea. I was there teaching English in the late 90s. I was living in Taejon (spelled Daejong now), and I did my banking in the same building as the school. Very convenient!

Kookmin Bank card. Typically, I only used the ATM in the lobby of the Kookmin Bank but one day I had to ask a question at a teller’s desk. I walked in and a man in a suit waved me over to him.

“You run!” he said to me. “I see you. You run.”

I did run. I loved jogging the streets of Taejon and going up the River, lake, stream written in Korean. steep, narrow hills or down to the wide level pathways near the river. I always ran by myself and it was time to review my day or think about what to do later. I never knew someone was coming along with me.

“Yes, I run,” I said to man.

He picked something up from his desk and handed it to me with both hands.

“For you.”

It was a burgundy shiny plastic folio with the Kookmin’s logo displayed on the front. It was the same on the back. It was both functional and nice and the present made me smile. It was an act of kindness that was unexpected and appreciated.

Kamsamnida,” I said, thanking the man.

Since that day, I’ve almost never been without my wallet. Since that day, whenever I reach for it, I think of Taejon. No matter what. Nevertheless, my wallet is more of a sieve now. (Insert bank account joke here.) Nothing stays in its pockets and anyway, I bought a new one in Hong Kong in the spring. It’s time to say to “annyeong” to the old wallet. Even though it will no longer hold my cards, I’ll hold my memories.

Simple memories

It’s not a race

Swimmers racing in the pool.Recently, I was a guest blogger for Melissa Forziat Events. Melissa is a small business marketing coach and event manager who is engaged in supporting small businesses. I wrote about going at your own pace when growing your company – you don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. Read my piece here.

To learn more about Melissa, go here.

Writing is work

A person writing in their notebook.This morning, my spin instructor said December was for wrapping things up and January is for starting new things. Hmm. I’ve never thought about it that way before. I do know a lot of people start going to the gym this month – part of their “New Year’s Resolution” regime.

According to this article, one in three Canadians make resolutions — and out of those numbers, over 70 per cent won’t keep their promises. I have seen a few writers resolve to finally finish their books. I’ve also fielded many questions from aspiring authors about how to start their books. In fact, as a writing instructor, that’s the top question I’m asked. My answer is always that writing is work.

Writing takes time and effort. You can have a great idea but if you’re not writing it down, then you just have an idea. You’re not a writer unless you’re writing and shaping your thoughts into a story with characters and events. To be an author, you need to approach writing as a job.

Start your writing job by scheduling time in your day to write. Some people write best in the morning while others prefer late at night. Whatever your preference, try to keep to the same routine (day and time). As well, you’ll need to tell your family and friends to leave you alone during the time you’ve set aside. If this can’t be done at home, go to a café or the library. Sometimes the lively atmosphere of a coffee shop can add colour to your own words.

If you don’t have an hour or four, take any time you can get. You’d be surprised at how much you can write in 10 minutes. Use the dead time while you’re commuting or waiting for an appointment to jot down some things on your mobile phone or scrap paper. Speaking of phones, turn off your notifications. Other distractions like e-mail and magazines can wait until you’ve written 50 words. Then you can reward your hard work with a peep at Facebook.

There’s no magic pill that’ll turn you into a writer. As I tell my writing workshop participants, no one cares about your idea. You have to care enough about it to make it into a story. That’s only going to happen if you do some work and start writing.

If you’re in the Edmonton area and looking to start writing your memoir, I’m teaching at the North Edmonton Seniors Association. Memoirs by You starts tomorrow, January 9. For more information and how to register, go here:

I’m also teaching Memoir Writing, Your Story, Your Way at the West Side Seniors Activity Centre starting Thursday, Feb 22. For more information and how to register, go here:

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