Treasure!

Treasure!I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of hidden treasure, be it flecks of gold in a fast-running creek, antiques tucked away in attics or basements, notes sealed in bottles, or—even better—jewels, old coins and the like shoved under loose floorboards, holed up in caves, buried on beaches, or resting in rusting hulks of ancient shipwrecks.

You don’t want to know how many imaginary treasure maps I created as a kid, but a lot. To this day there are few words as exciting to me as “X marks the spot,” and it’s a lifelong regret that I haven’t learned to scuba dive so that I can explore crooks and crannies under the sea myself. (But my years aren’t done yet!)

Just recently, no scuba needed, I chanced upon a real-life, genuine treasure.

I was trekking along a rough, winding path. Wind screamed through the trees, and showered me with broken branches and sharp twigs. Freezing rain beat down, soaking me through and setting my bones to aching. In the gathering evening gloom, it felt as if I’d taken a wrong turn—no, no, wait, sorry, bit of exaggeration there. But I did go to my mailbox recently. And it was probably rainy. I do live near trees. And I did discover treasure.

As I turned the key, opened the metal door, and spotted the parcel’s sender’s address, my stomach flipped. I knew the gem it contained before I even opened it.

A while back, I’d bought my grandma a journal called, “Grandma, Tell Me Your Story,” by Susan Branch. I hoped, of course, she’d enjoy meandering down memory lane and ruminating on the various questions, but I was quick to admit that really the “gift” was for me. My grandma Ruby Forsyth, née Gilgan, has always been one my heroes and inspirations—on motherhood, on coping when life is hard, on delighting in the beauty and wonder of simple, perfect things. I have never met anyone as patient as her. Ever.

I’m fortunate because I still have her in my life to talk to and visit, but I wanted a written record, notes about her life growing up and as a young wife and mother, pioneering with my grandfather.

She graciously obliged—the proof of which now sat in my mailbox.

As I slit the end of the package and saw the journal’s telltale pink and white edge, I couldn’t have been more thrilled had I found an old wooden chest with a pirate’s sword sticking out of it!

To have pages and pages written in her own hand? Well, “treasure” doesn’t suffice to describe it, actually. When I read her anecdotes, I hear her voice and see the twinkle in her eye. And the fact that much of her story is also the story of me—and of my children—and how we came to be—isn’t lost on me either.

I’d share some of her great tidbits, except they’re mine, all mine! Just kidding—but I am out of space. I’ll have to be content to leave you with one line.

Under “What is your best advice about life?” my grandma writes: Living a kind and considerate life is better than being obsessed with becoming rich.

The advice is all the more meaningful because I saw how she lived and lives. She embodies kindness and consideration. But, sheesh, her words do make me wonder if she knows about my predilection for treasure and meant to warn me. In case anyone’s worried, don’t be. My obsession with treasure has never been a lust for wealth. It’s always adventure I covet. In her journal, I have both.

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“Treasure!” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, June 25, 2014 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

A Poem On Summer Solstice

DSC04644In honour of Summer Solstice (a wet, delicious smelling day!) I’d like to share a poem I wrote a few years back. Special thanks to Noreen Spence, a beyond amazing artist and a truly kind, creative soul, who is so good at reminding me that I . . . write poems. I was flattered she remembered it and appreciated her gently prodding me to share it.

I hope you have your own grey and green world to revel in!

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My World is Grey and Green

Soft grey light
Diffused through smoke-like clouds
Around me,
The colour green abounds
leaves – trees – grasses – bush and shrub
Green inadequately describes –

verdure stretching up through dirt
prickly, punishing conifers
the amber cushion; moss
greyish shade of dew soaked clover
antiqued metal
the filigree of tubercles on birch bark –

We use colour to describe things
red bench – blue bike – brown house – orange kite

We use things to describe green
leaf green – grass green – olive green – apple green –
emerald green – sea green – bottle green – pea green

The screen of sky behind my green is flat
motionless, homogeneous –
As if a giant carefully clipped and pasted
my world onto grey construction paper:

3-D green on grey

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“My World is Grey and Green” Copyright Ev Bishop

Bigger Things = Exciting Things!

I’m so excited to report: Bigger Things by Ev Bishop is coming July 2014. And I’m freakishly thrilled to give a sneak preview of the novel’s gorgeous cover, complete with back jacket blurb. Whaddya think?

BiggerThings_POD

I’ll post Bigger Thing’s actual release date when I have one. ‘Til then . . . Yay, I’m bouncing off walls! Please feel free to share my news and if you’re so kind as to read my book, I hope you enjoy it and spread a good word. :)

Word on the Lake

A busy weekend of stories, music, and much inspiration!

So I’m just back from a whirlwind trip to Salmon Arm, where I had the wonderful fun and luck to participate in Word on the Lake festival—a writing conference put on by the amazing, dynamic Shuswap Association of Writers.

I hardly know what to rave about first. The venue—The Prestige Waterfront—which is a gorgeous hotel altogether, set on the mind-blowingly beautiful shoreline of Shuswap Lake, overlooking a wildlife sanctuary. If I’m fortunate enough to visit the area again—and/or to take in the same conference another year, I will definitely arrange to spend an extra day, so I can walk the nature trails and seek out the Western Grebes and watch the turtles and ospreys.

Kicking the conference off Friday night, attendees enjoyed a fabulously entertaining coffee house where various presenters riveted the audience with readings, inspiring mini-speeches, and even a crazily amazing, foot-stomping song—thank you, David Essig! (I highly recommend buying his music and his novel Dancing Hand.)

Saturday’s layout included a myriad of high quality craft and business-related workshops. I was slightly awed by the big names at a relatively small conference (less than 100 attendees—with authors like C.C. Humphreys (Spread the PLAGUE!), Diana Gabaldon, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, and Ann Eriksson, to *name a few). The atmosphere somehow managed to feel both cozy and very professional at the same time.

The banquet Saturday night was a special highlight for me (and not just because of the prime rib which was amazing). The writing contest winners were announced, and I’m excited to finally be able to share news I’ve been sitting on for over a month.

My short story, “The River,” received 1st Place in Askew’s Foods’ Word on the Lake Writing Contest, the Young Adult category. Yay! (Insert much happy dancing!) It was lovely to receive the cash prize and free conference package, but it was fiction contest judge Scott Fitzgerald Gray’s kind words and praise that made the night for me—along with the number of people who approached me throughout the evening and expressed excitement to read it. Is there anything better feeling than someone identifying with your story, appreciating it, “getting” it? I don’t think so.

Sunday passed much too quickly, with an inspiring keynote/call to action by Ann Eriksson, more great classes (all of which mentioned sex in some way or another because Diana was doing her infamous “How To (and How Not To) Write Sex Scenes” workshop, and the other presenters joked—perhaps from what had been true fear—that they were surprised anyone even came to their workshops considering her topic), and the forging of new friendships.

And then it was all over, except the driving—and weirdly enough, I adored that part of the weekend too. My son was kind enough to road trip with his mama and we rocked out, ate lots of junk, listened to two and a half audio books, spotted a crazy amount of animals, and laughed a lot. Good times!

I definitely recommend Word on the Lake—especially if attending a bigger conference is intimidating to you. The quality was great, the cost reasonable, and the people wonderful.

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* Click here to see the full list of inspiring speakers. It’s an impressive list!

Storm the Beach!

Photo by Mackenzie Black that reminds me of my childhood.

Photo by Mackenzie Black that reminds me of my childhood.

I was zipping along in my little white car the other day, the sun was shining, the grass along the gravel shoulder was greening, and a warm, springy breeze danced through the open window. All of a sudden I was kissed, clear as anything, with the memory of a feeling that occasionally overwhelmed me when I was a kid playing outside on my grandma’s farm: a fantastic, totally-free, move alive-than-alive, rampaging, powerful, crazy, silly feeling. It was pure happy, the sense of extreme possibility and promise, and the conviction the world was full of good things and future adventure all rolled into one.

More often than not, when the feeling hit, I’d lift whatever stick I was carrying over my head (I was almost always carrying a “staff”) and charge down the nearby hill or into the field’s waist high grass, yelling a mixed roar-cheer: “Arrrrrrrrr!”

When I think back on those bouts of intense delight, a combination of recollections gather, so maybe the feeling was birthed by mingling factors: the smell of sunshine on dirt, the scent of sap from budding trees, the chitter-chat of squirrels, the chirping of birds, the give and take of the ground beneath my bare, calloused feet—and the joy of being enmeshed in whatever epic story I was living out as I trekked around. And something else was a huge contributor, too.

I was always by myself when the feeling hit. I didn’t have any adults, well meaning or otherwise, telling me to “keep it down,” to “be appropriate” or to “not get carried away.” No one asked pointed questions about what I was so happy about anyway, or helpfully outlined the reasons I was wrong or naïve to be feeling wildly joyful and optimistic. There were no kindly suggestions that I manage my expectations so I wouldn’t be disappointed. . . .

I’ve definitely, thankfully, experienced lovely pure-happy as an adult too—but as with a lot of adult emotions, it’s usually more convoluted and layered, a bit shorter lived. I tend to diminish it by analyzing it.

And I’m trying not to do that anymore. I don’t want to squash my growing glee or kill it before it fully blooms. I want to revel in. Enjoy it. Laugh out loud and shake my head and shout with it. Spin down a dirt road with my arms out to my sides ‘til I’m dizzy.

I want to live life. Really live it. I don’t want to put off things I really want to do in the wait for some perceived magic age or stage where I think I’ll have more time, more funds, more clarity, more whatever. . . .

Maybe you need to heed my advice too? If you’re unhappy where you’re at, make changes. If there’s something you really want to do, start doing it sooner rather than later. Will it be difficult? Maybe. Maybe not. In hindsight I always realize the time I’ve spent resisting change I know I need or want is more excruciating than the actual leap ever turns out to be . . . but either way, easy and smooth or a tough uphill climb, the effort is worth it.

A bunch of things came together for me last week. I know why I had the ocean epiphany I wrote about last month, why I’m being surprised by random fits of euphoria, and experiencing deep, peaceful, standout-noticeable moments of happiness these days. I’m being more vocal about what I want, what I believe, and what huge questions, fears, doubts, and insecurities I have. I’m sharing the things I’m excited about, even proud of. I’m making changes. In my thinking. In my doing. In my being.

I haven’t charged down a hill recently, shouting at the top of my lungs, brandishing a stick—but I make no promises about the near future.

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“Storm the Beach!” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, April 30, 2014 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

Have Passport, Will Travel

Sights to see, creatures to meet! Photo copyright Ev Bishop.

So many sights to see and creatures to meet! Photo copyright Ev Bishop.

I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate the past twelve months. Until October 2013, I’d only ever been out of Canada twice in my life (both times, pre-passport days). This year I’ve been to London, just returned from southern California, and have plans for a Hawaii or Mexico trip.

And I do love to holiday just for the sake of a holiday—a break, a specifically set apart time to rest, relax, and play. It’s not just the pure sloth I enjoy, however. I think seeing new landscapes and terrains, experiencing different climates and cultures, and meeting people who come from different places than you is valuable.

Having lived in a small town my whole life, the exposure to huge groups of people in one place is thought provoking, and I think it was beneficial for our young nieces who were with us, too. There are so many different types of jobs and opportunities in larger centres. It opens your eyes to possibilities for work, for art, for exploring. It’s a big world!

I’m an adventurous eater but even so, various regions have their types of food—stuff habitually eaten because it’s grown or produced there, or readily available because of the mixed backgrounds of people living in an area. Terrace offers high quality, quite diverse foods, but funnily enough, though California is West Coast too, it’s far enough South that some of the food was different than I’d ever had before. Yay!

And I could go on and on about the beauty, inspiration and wonder to be found in exploring a different geographical place. I was awed by the crazy abundance of flowering plants that grow as perennials—well, not even perennials. They don’t die down; they grow perpetually, like our trees do. People have cactus beds in California, the same way we plant flower ones . . . yet daffodils and “spring blooms” flourish there, too.

And the ocean, the ocean, the ocean! I adored the sun, sand and surf. Did you know that the Pacific can be warm and welcoming to swim in during March? It was wild fun, literally, to be playing in the waves and suddenly see dolphins not fifty feet away—or have a line of eight or so pelicans swoop along just beyond our heads.

Visiting other places also helps adjust any preconceived notions you might have. Stereotypes about “Americans” have long driven me crazy because the U.S. is so huge, with so many people, that it’s ridiculous to me that anyone would colour the whole, extremely diverse, country with one brush—but I won’t rail away long. Let me just say, with one exception, where we think my big, brawny husband might’ve scared the pants off a guy fishing off Newport Pier when he approached him after dusk, and asked jovially, “What are you fishing for?” everyone was incredibly nice, extremely polite, genuinely-it-seemed interested in chatting and getting to know us a bit—before and after they knew we were tourists.

People are people wherever you go, and we all have more in common than we usually think. And that’s a wonderful lesson to have reinforced from time to time.

I’m not pretending that my holidays thus far—or those hopefully in the future—were taken with any loftier goal than to have some fun, but for me, the best fun occurs when I feel I learned something too. And even if the take-aways are simple things like I really enjoy authentic Mexican food, it’s weird that plane seats are smaller and less safe feeling than the seats on Disneyland rides, the population of the state of California is greater than the population of the whole country of Canada, or that Grey whales go down to Mexico to have their babies, and then make their way up the coast (yup, they pass us too) to Alaska . . . well, those are great observations to experience first hand.

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“Have Passport, Will Travel” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, March 26, 2014 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”