Saturday, August 13, 2016

Considering happiness

I'm lucky that I have a spouse who wants me to find a career that will make me happy. This is a subject that has repeatedly bobbed it's head above the water line over the last 12 years of our marriage. I've blogged about it the past too. Typically the conversation doesn't go much beyond my job doesn't make me happy, but it doesn't make miserable either. I suppose that's not horrible.

But that's not exactly what one shoots for, a job that's Not Horrible.

My life is in flux right now, it has been since we left Edmonton in 2013. Moving to a new city should have lead to a new job, furthering my career as a librarian, but we moved to the US. Finding a job was hard, and obtaining a work permit surprisingly difficult. I worked remotely, a decision that was easy more than anything else.

Again, it wasn't horrible.

Then I had a baby, went on maternity leave, and moved back to Canada. I causally looked for jobs as my year at home with Ruth wound down, but I also knew that other opportunities might or might not pan out if I waited to see. To make a long story short, I've decided to take a year to see if I can make a leaving out of Aerials. That would be teaching, performing, and maybe helping manage the business too.

So, what does this all have to do with happiness?

Well, I'm currently reading Happiness: A Philosopher's Guide, by Frederic Lenoir, in an effort to understand what happiness is, and how I might be able to incorporate it more into my life. In one of the early chapters, this particular passage caught my attention:
...think of a music lover who dreams of making a profession of music...If they succeed, they'll be happy to have realized their deepest aspiration...Other people might harbor the same dream, but cannot organize their lives in such a way as to achieve their goal...they'll keep saying to their friends, as the years go by, that they have a 'musician's soul, that they would really love to live their passion, but for the lack of effort and perseverance these people never realize their desire and will be condemned to frustration. p.39
I suppose this passage might seem harsh or depressing on it's own, but I'm trying to take it as motivation. If you've ever read my blog before, you'll know that one of my other passions is writing. For many years I worked a nine-to-five job as a research assistant, then spent two to three hours every night writing. I completed a couple of manuscripts this way, and attempted to get them published.

I would say I was somewhat striving towards my goal of being a published author. I kept my day job to ensure an income, but spent a lot of my free timing at home writing. This many years removed, I can't say how I felt in regards to trying to my efforts to achieve my writing dreams, but I sure do miss all the time I had to dedicate to my passion.

Now I'm shifting my focus to aerials.

I love watching the Olympics. I'm not sure why, I just do (along with many people, I suppose). A few days ago there was an interview on CBC with an Olympic cyclist, who's name I've now forgotten. I believe she was an older athlete, as during the segment, she spoke about how it's never to late to work towards your dreams, never to late to seek happiness. Her comments couldn't have come at a better time for me. It re-affirmed to me that what I'm doing is right.

I've put together a schedule for myself to make sure I fit in enough aerial training, running (for the cardio and bone health), and stretching. I'm looking into taking some ballet classes to help improve my grace in the air. Once I'm done my current round of library reading I'm going to looking into some books on fitness. I want to plan another trip to the New England Center for Circus Arts, to take further teacher training. I'll also be taking some additional non-teaching work at the studio.

Will this amount to happiness? Will this amount to a career in aerials? I don't know. What I do know is, if I don't try I'll be left wondering. This will definitely be a 'What If' situation. If I don't put in an effort, I will struggle to find happiness with the knowledge that I let this opportunity slip by untouched hanging over my head. For the next year I will try to live the life of an aerialist, and make a decision after that.

What makes you happy?



Monday, July 25, 2016

Stop undermining the values I wish to teach my daughter: an uneducated feminist rant

First, I have subtitled this post, 'an uneducated feminist rant,' because although I have studied two feminized subject areas (nursing and librarianship), I have never studied feminist theory. I like to believe that I have feminist leanings on a fundamental level, but I couldn't dip my toe into a discussion of feminist principles beyond, 'Why yes, I DO think everyone should be treated equal regardless of gender.' What little I know about the theories are based on dinner conversations with my friend Mandy.

But, this is not a discussion of my lack of knowledge. This is a discussion about how people view my 20 month old daughter.

My daughter is very cute.

Yes, this is partially parental pride, but we get a lot of comments from people. Random strangers, friends, family members. We've walked around malls with Ruth hanging on to our hands and heard people gawk at her as we go by. We receive lots of remarks on how pretty her eyes, or her curls are.

I'm not going to post a picture, sorry. Ruth rarely graces the pages of my social media, and if she does, I make sure the picture doesn't provide a clear shot of her face. This is partially for her protection, but also because at 20 months old, she doesn't have the ability to give her consent to my posting her picture.

I will say she's petite, with big blue eyes and strawberry blond curls. She's normally fair skinned, although she's quite tanned right now from being out in the sun so much. Once she's given you very careful, and serious consideration, she'll likely give you a huge smile. I do my best not to dress her in an overtly girly fashion (i.e. skirts and dresses), or colours (well, you know).

Now, to the point.

On Saturday we went to a local beach. An older woman, who happened to be situated next to our blanket, remarked on Ruth's physical appearance "She looks just like a baby from a magazine..." Um...okay.

Then she said something to this affect: "When she turns 13 you're going to have to lock her up in a tower to keep the boys away."

Um...what? Did we somehow get sucked back into 'Ye Olden Times' without knowing it? Sadly, this is not the first time we've heard such a comment.

In this case, we tried to turn it into a joke by responding with: "Oh no, we'll just teach her how to deal with people."

This woman was a stranger, and although we were horrified by her remark, was there a point in entering into an argument about the inappropriateness of her comment? I don't know. I don't particularly like to argue with people I do know, so it didn't seem worth it.

Before we knew Ruth's gender Andrew and I both hoped for a girl--and we knew that we would have to work extra hard to teach her that she could be as capable as any person to be whatever she wants. That just because she's female doesn't mean she has to wear pink, and dresses, and that it's okay to be good at math and science, if her interests lean in the STEM direction. But, that it's also okay to like pink for the sake of liking pink, and that social sciences are a wonderful avenue of study.

Furthermore, we want to teach her critical thinking skills, so there's no reason for building that tower. Arming her with knowledge about sex and consent are far more effective than a lock and key. We can't protect Ruth against everything, I know that, even if I haven't totally accepted it yet. All we can do is try to give her the tools she needs to maneuver her way through life as best as she can, and let her go.

But please, try not to undermine the values we're trying to teach her by telling her that she's going to be too pretty to be safe on her own. She may only be 20 months old, be she understands a great deal of what people say to her already.

So what we tell her is this: We love her no matter what, she's smart, she's thoughtful, and she's a hard worker.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cimwai's Bay, now available for download on Amazon

Look. At. This.

I've written a blog post. I know, it's been a while. Closing in on a year since I last posted. I never meant to stop blogging, I simply ran out of time.

Aside from having a active 20 month old, I've been working part-time from home, and I'm also an now an aerials instructor! Yes. As of May 2016, Brass Butterflies in north Waterloo, offers lessons in aerial silks and aerial hoop. I'll try to pen (type) a few posts about this new direction in my life in the coming weeks. If you have any burning questions about aerials you need to have answers to now, feel free to fire them my way.

The main purpose of this post is to announce my recently released novel, Cimwai's Bay for download on Amazon.

Ava is an average girl-next- door—albeit with a mane of emerald hair. Soon after her failed beauty treatment, which cannot be turned back to normal by dye, or remain trimmed at a shorter length for more than a minute, she is forced to flee her beloved home to escape the archaic anti-magic laws of her community. Ava doesn’t desire great magical power, even when she’s told she has the potential for it. Rather, she’d prefer to hide away in a quiet, clean kitchen where she can turn out perfect pot roasts and flaky apple pies. Half of her wish comes true when she finds work in the capital city of Korval as the housekeeper of the great magician, Jacob Baine. Sensing her magical skill, Jacob coaxes her, or perhaps more aptly infuriates her, along the path to taking control of her magical abilities. With all the stress of her new life, can Ava be blamed for falling for the mysterious Troy? Dashing and charming, treating her to cake and tea, she doesn’t realize the danger he represents. Only when it’s too late to escape Troy’s plans does she realize she’s the key to his plot to break the magical seal over Cimwai and bring himself to power.

This is a self-published title, and it's now available as an e-book. I've decided to use my pen name Peggy Fitz (a few readers once privy to my first attempt at a serial 'VoP', may recognize this moniker). Currently there is only one title featuring Ava Ravenscraft available, although a second is partially completed. It's my hope to release the full trilogy, but I can't tie down a timeline at the moment.

I have further self-publishing plans, which includes the release of my aerial romance, 'The Circus of Love,' before the end of the summer. Featured in this novel is Beth Witt, an aerials silks performer who finds herself caught up in a company scandal and romance. I still need to piece together a cover, but that shouldn't take too long.

Finally, I will be re-releasing my previously self-published title, The Cure, with a new cover at which time I will change it over to my pen name as well.

You'll hear more for me soon.