Tag Archives: videos

Wednesday Inspiration: The First Post

I’ve promised myself, this is the year I get out of the rut of constantly doing non-creative things. I’ve been in this rut for way too long. I want to start living a more creative life. It turns out, though, it’s easy to make such big intentional statements (“I’m NOT going to do things like this anymore! Things are GOING TO CHANGE around here!”) but much harder to actually implement the changes I want.

One thing that I’ve been discovering over and over (because naturally I don’t learn the first time, and I tend to forget the second, third and fourth times) is the importance of finding inspiration. A creative life requires one to be inspired, but being inspired turns out to be a thing of habit.

Sure, occasionally I’ll wake up feeling inspired. But more often than not, if I don’t open myself up to inspiration, inspiration doesn’t find me.

This is the part I tend to forget. And when I forget this, I get morose. I take out that big intentional statement and think to myself, I’m going to fail. It’s simply not going to happen.

I was reminded of this again this morning when I opened an email and decided to click on a link, and then on another link which then lead me to this video:

The thing is, it was a rather lacklustre morning. Ever had one of those? Inspiration was nowhere in sight. Frankly, I didn’t really want to get out of bed. But for some reason I decided to watch this video—and I very rarely watch videos, because they take time, so I end up saving them to a watch later list and then never watching them.

And guess what? I got inspired. Sharon Ann Lee talks about designing your own success, and everything she said made so much sense. (Plus the part about growing up Asian, with Tiger Mom parents, was hilarious.) In the video there’s a wonderful graph of four quadrants that she’s made, and I saw so clearly the quadrant where I’ve resided for most of my life. The quadrant she calls “A More Devious Hell. Run Away”.

Um, yeah.

Anyway, watching this video really set the tone for a day that hadn’t looked like it was going to be such a great day. I was inspired and that changed everything.

And the long and short of it (well, okay, the long of it) is that I’ve decided I need to regularly remind myself to find my own inspiration. Finding inspiration can take so many forms, plus it’s fun to boot. And you know how labelling something as “fun” is almost like a death knell, right? So I need to motivate myself to keep remembering.

Which I’ll be doing in these Wednesday Inspiration posts from now on. (Finally! I get to the point of this post!) A way for me to remember to find inspiration, and a way for me to share the inspiration I find.

What inspires you? Books, movies, videos, articles, art, cooking, walking, exercising? Do you regularly open yourself up to inspiration?

Not Your Typical Travel Video

My daughter Hayley went to Europe earlier this month with her friend Meaghan and Meaghan’s mother. She had a blast, and most of her souvenirs were in the form of pictures and videos. She definitely put her camera to good use!

Here’s what she’s done with some of the clips she captured on her camera while on holiday. It’s an entry for a YouTube video contest:

She also included several of her friends here at home, plus all the family! Watch carefully, and you’ll see me, my sons Dylan and Sean, and my husband Ward in the video too.

I absolutely blew my shot (I was supposed to do the whole thing while smiling and quickly, too) but she included me anyway. :)

It occurs to me, if everyone did something like this with their holiday videos and pictures, no-one would wince anymore at being invited to “come watch the films we took while on holiday” …

C is for Catch-up: Daughter, Early Rising and Fun (and that takes care of D, E & F)

If you take a peek at the latest posts by those participating in the A to Z Challenge, you’ll see a lot of “F” posts today. As I mentioned, yes, I am woefully behind.

But Joe gave me some great advice yesterday – he suggested doing a series of small posts to get right back in the game. I liked the sound of that!

C is for Catch-up

And then I thought … well, I’m on C, right? So why not a Catch-up post?

Why not indeed? So here we go!

D is for Daughter

My daughter recently produced, directed and filmed this music video for friends of hers. It looks so professional!

E is for Early Rising

I’ve had a great deal of success setting out intentions in this blog. So I thought I’d try out a new intention. After those crazy months of heavy deadlines just a few months ago, my system really fell out of sync. I was going to bed at 3 and 4 in the morning, and getting up at 10 or 11.

I am a bit of a night owl, but I’ve discovered that when I get an earlier start to my day, not only do I feel more productive – I think I actually AM more productive. (Anyone else feel this way too?)

So I’m going to set an intention here to start getting back into the rhythm of early rising again. Well … earlier rising, I guess I should call it, since to me, that means 8:30 am or thereabouts!

F is for Fun

And finally, I’m back on track for today. And I’m going to cheat a little bit. I really enjoyed writing that little scene that I posted as my “B” post, and I’d like to try doing more of these as I play the A to Z Challenge this month. The only thing is, I now know that it’s easiest for me to pull out my writing prompts and let my subconscious work on things, and for that, I need time.

So I’m going to try just pulling out new prompt cards at the end of each day’s post, to prepare me for the following day.

And since I had such fun writing from the prompts yesterday, I think drawing my prompt cards right now should qualify as fun!

So here are the prompt cards and the one archetype card I’m going to be using in my next A to Z Challenge post (G is for …), which I will be posting on Monday (I’m taking a hiatus from A to Z posts on the weekends).

The prompts:

1. yelling for help

2. dirty

3. magazine

(Yes, this was the order in which I pulled the cards … )

From the archetype deck:

Implies the unknown: ignorance or desperation; evil

I’m getting the same “You’ve got to be kidding me!” reaction I felt when I drew the last set of prompt and archetype cards.

This will be interesting …

Living with a Teenaged Filmmaker

We have conversations like this one all the time …

Me: I noticed your green eyeliner in the bathroom. We should probably get you a new one, because this one doesn’t have a cap.

Daughter: That’s all right. I’m not using it.

Me: Good.

Daughter: It’s only for my videos.

Me: Oh. Well, we should get you a new one then. You don’t want to get an eye infection, or you won’t be able to wear your contacts.

Daughter: No, I don’t use it on my eyes. (Points to area around the mouth.) It’s for here.

Ah. Good to know. Which leads me to …

You know you’re living with a filmmaker when:

1. Your intimate belongings show up in a YouTube video, usually occupying a role that renders them unrecognizable. (This is a good thing. Trust me on this one.)

2. You’re playing your favorite smash-em-up game (aka Babo Crash) on your iPhone while on the treadmill, and you get a request to “Please. Mom. Turn down the sound. We’re filming and all we can hear is crash, smash, bang.” Accompanied by an eye roll, a head shake, and a “Geez.” Which is quite effective at making you feel suddenly like you’re the teenager, and not the other way around.

3. Your green bed sheets are hanging around all over the place. Works almost as well as a professional green screen, apparently.

4. Everyone is walking around with hand drawn, dark green (see conversation above) mustaches and goatees. (Gender is irrelevant.)

5. Your small portable fan is used to blow up this very weird suit, thereby transforming your daughter’s best friend into a sumo wrestler superhero.

6. You’re sitting in your favorite reading chair, and suddenly outside the window you see someone running back and forth, carrying a tripod, chasing or being chased by someone not carrying a tripod. This keeps up for at least ten minutes. No-one ever tells you why.

7. You’re resigned to strangers on YouTube seeing parts of your house in various states of mess, disarray and incompleteness. You know with certainty that the day you don’t make your bed is the day your bedroom will become a set. (If you’re like me, you’ll still forget to make the bed occasionally.)

8. You have learned never to grab a glass of something that looks enticingly drinkable without first sniffing it, then calling out, “Is this real? Can I drink it?”

9. You have butterscotch pudding on your grocery list because it’s good for those vomiting scenes. But tapioca pudding will work if butterscotch is unavailable.

10. You get so used to strange sounds, yells and screams coming from all over the place, you forget to explain to the person you’re talking to on the phone until he or she exclaims, “What on earth was THAT?”

In fact, you get so used to such strange sounds, one day you hear screams coming from your daughter’s room, and it takes you a full 60 seconds or so to realize the sounds are for real, after which you rush upstairs to find that your daughter has somehow managed to get her finger wedged under her dresser. (She likes to tell this story to top everyone else’s “my parents just don’t care” tales. So now you know. We are that uncaring.)

Yes, I live in a rather weird and wacky world. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some Thursday Fun: Star Wars on the Subway

I found this video from Improv Everywhere via Meg Cabot’s Twitter feed.  According to their site, Improv Everywhere “causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.”  Isn’t that a great mission statement?

I’m still smiling – hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I would have loved to have been on that subway car … !

Fantasy Road Trip: Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle Trilogy

My daughter Hayley and her friends recently made a video for Random House’s Fantasy Road Trip video contest:

If you could go on a fantasy road trip with a character (or characters!) from your favorite series, where would you go? What would you do along the way? How would you travel? Create a video and show us!

They chose Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty) and had a blast making the video – I’m not sure if this is what Random House had in mind, but it’s funny with some great editing effects, too.

Click here to see their entry on Youtube and if you like it, please favorite it!

Chinese Dragon Emperor, Part 2 (Or, Our Summer Vacation Video)

Several of you have mentioned you would like to see more of our summer vacation photos (well, okay, two people vaguely said something about this in passing). We took 100s of photos while on holidays, most of which feature much the same elements: sand, surf and blue skies. So I thought it would be far more fun to show you “our summer vacation video”. Technically, I can call it “our summer vacation video” because my daughter Hayley and her friend Heather filmed it on location at the beautiful oceanfront cottage in Nova Scotia where we stayed during our holidays.

Trust me, this is a lot more interesting than any video Ward or I would have taken: it’s got a plot, some funny bits and a fight scene at the end. What more could one ask for? And a bonus: you can even see the Atlantic Ocean in the background. Enjoy!

What’s Up Sunday – June 14

I normally post this as “What’s Up Saturday”, but yesterday kind of flew by really quickly, especially since I was behind on the big giveaways post.

Deadline Alley

I’m heading into Deadline Alley over the next ten days – I have five deadlines to lay to rest and I’d like to get everything finished by next Wednesday. That will leave me a day to help my husband pack for our road trip, get our housesitter settled in, make sure there’s enough pet food on hand to feed the assortment of pets and well, just de-stress a little so I’ll enjoy the 19 hour drive to the beautiful shores of Nova Scotia!

Currently Listening

This past week I’ve been really enjoying listening to Tilt-a-Whirl, by Chris Grabenstein. It’s the first book in a mystery series about part-time beach resort town cop Danny Boyle and his partner, John Ceepak; Beth F. recommended the audio version of the series to me, and I am very grateful (if you love audiobooks, check out Beth F’s blog; she always has great suggestions). The narrator of the series, Jeff Woodman, has now been added to my own personal list of great audiobook narrators (joining Lorelei King, who narrates Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Hugh Fraser, for his narration of the Agatha Christie novels, and Jim Dale, narrator of the Harry Potter series).

I’ve been actively on the look-out for good audios primarily because of the 19 hour drive (I can’t read in a car, unfortunately); the other day on Twitter Miriam Parker from Hachette Books suggested that I give Bill Bryson a try, and ever since then I’ve been walking around the house sounding rather demented because every now and then I’ll give out a big burst of laughter. Listening to Bill Bryson in audio will do that to you.

Right now, I’m listening to Bill Bryson’s I’m a Stranger Here Myself; my version is actually called Notes From a Big Country, which you can buy at Amazon UK. Notes From a Big Country has eight more essays than I’m a Stranger Here Myself (I have both titles in trade paperback, so I counted); otherwise, they contain much the same essays (I didn’t do a title-by-title check, though).

If you have an Audible membership, you’ll be getting Notes From a Big Country if you go for the unabridged version; unfortunately, Bill Bryson only reads the abridged version, but William Roberts, the narrator of the unabridged version, does a pretty good job. This listen is, obviously, a “reread” for me (since I ended up buying both versions of the book, it would be pretty sad if it wasn’t!); Bill Bryson’s books are brilliant and very funny reads whether you get them in print or in audio.

This Week: No Picture, but a Video

Rather sharing a picture from my life this week, I wanted to share the following video, called Validation. I discovered it at my dear friend Bethie’s blog, Simply Blessed. It’s a long video – 16 minutes – but I guarantee, if you have the time, and you’d like something to give you a bit of a lift and put a smile on your face, it’s well worth the watch. It was written and directed by Kurt Kuenne, stars TJ Thyne (of Bones fame), and has won a whole string of very well-deserved short film awards. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

My Daughter Directs: A Short Film Inspired by Swimming in the Monsoon Sea

Last semester my daughter, who was fourteen at the time, read Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, by Shyam Selvadurai, for her high school English class. She’s not really much of a reader, but she thought Swimming in the Monsoon Sea was a wonderful book: “It’s tragic and sad, yet beautiful. It makes you really think. A definite tear-jerker.”

Set in Sri Lanka, Swimming in the Monsoon Sea is a coming of age story about 13-year-old Amrith, who begins to feel the first stirrings of sexual feeling and comes to an understanding of his sexual identity after he meets and falls in love with his Canadian cousin Niresh, a loud and confident boy very unlike the people Amrith has grown up with.

My daughter was so taken with this book, she decided to base her Independent Studies Unit project on it. The following short film is inspired by Swimming in the Monsoon Sea; it’s her cinematic interpretation of what Amrith feels when he realizes he is in love with Niresh.

This is her first serious film: she wrote the script, and filmed, directed, and edited it. Her best friend plays the role of Amrith. She recently uploaded the film to YouTube, so I’m happy to have the chance to spotlight it in a post. Of course I’m biased about the film, but I was taken by how well the film evokes the boy’s feelings of angst.

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Awards in 2005 in the category of Children’s Literature; it also won the 2005 Lambda Literary Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category.

You can read a review of the book at:

Things Mean a Lot

SMS Book Reviews

Audiobooks: Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series, read by Lorelei King

I quite like serendipity, so I was happy to learn last night that there’s a new Stephanie Plum YouTube video out – Stephanie Plum’s 12 Days of Christmas. I’ll be putting the video at the end of this post, but where does the serendipity come into play, you might be asking? It’s serendipitous (what a word! I’ve always wanted to use it somewhere) because I’ve been meaning to write about the audiobook versions of the Stephanie Plum series for a while now.

I used to devour all the Stephanie Plum mysteries, back when the series was relatively new, but somewhere along the line, they lost their sparkle for me. I’m not sure what it was – they continued to be funny, and each one definitely made me laugh, but something seemed to be missing. So for a while there, I stopped reaching for the latest and newest Stephanie Plum.

That is, until I discovered the audiobook versions read by Lorelei King.

This past summer, my family and I rented a beach house in Nova Scotia. It was a 19 hour drive there, and since I, unfortunately, can’t read in the car, I decided to give audiobooks a try. I wanted something familiar, and funny, but with a bit of a mystery; I decided that Stephanie Plum might just fit the bill. So Seven Up, Eleven on Top and Twelve Sharp accompanied me on the long drive there and back.

I was delighted to discover that the Stephanie Plum series works well in audio. King is the perfect reader for the series. I had absolutely no problems believing she actually was Stephanie Plum, and she performs the New Jersey accents for the secondary characters incredibly well. The audiobooks had me in stitches – there were many occasions on the drive when I would burst out laughing and everyone would say, “What? What are you listening to, Mom? Can I listen too? What’s so funny?”

Of course, most of the humour isn’t meant for little ears. But Stephanie Plum definitely made the 19-hour drives fly by for me. Not only that, but my husband, who isn’t much of a fiction reader and uses his iPod only for music, decided to give them a try too. And when he did, it was my turn to go, “What? What part are you on? What’s so funny? Is it Grandma Mazur? It is Grandma Mazur, isn’t it?”

So when I got back home, the first thing I did was get my hands on more of the audiobooks. Somehow, listening to them had brought back that sparkle for me – they were so entertaining. But I also discovered what a big difference the reader of an audiobook can make; I listened to High Five, which has a different narrator, and after having been regaled by Lorelei King all those hours, it just wasn’t the same (not to mention, the version I listened to was abridged. I just don’t get abridged audiobooks, really …)

King makes me believe she is Stephanie Plum, and that makes all the difference, I think, when it’s an audio version of a novel that’s written in the first person.

And now, here’s Stephanie Plum’s 12 Days of Christmas – a perfect way to end this post, I think!