Get outside, now!

Not “my” tree, but an awesome one nonetheless! Photo by Mike Prince.

When I was little, I was outside as much as humanly possible in the spring, summer and fall. Though it might not always have been my idea (I recall my slightly exasperated mother commanding my hyperactive brother and me to “take it outside” on a frequent basis), I’m so grateful for the experience.

A tree on Railway Ave. in Smithers, BC was my first introduction to the extreme joy of playing outdoors. Close investigation revealed it was a series of trunks that grew up close together in a tight circle. A barely discernable gap let me slip into the cozy, hollowed out centre.

From inside my tree, I could see everything going on around me, and no one knew I was even there! A perfect climbing tree with nicely spaced, sturdy branches, it was playhouse, fort, jail, ranch, and office.

On office days, I climbed to a special spot where I had fashioned loose wire loops around a branch. I could work for hours, sitting on the lower “bench” branch and sliding the loops back and forth on the “typewriter” branch. The wire made a great sound too, kind of jingly and clackety all at once. It broke my heart (no, seriously) when we moved to Vancouver and deserted my tree.

But there were consolations. Taxi summer, for example. One year my dad towed the chassis of some old car into our backyard. The fact that it had no body was irrelevant. It had a steering column and steering wheel—the critical parts! I conjured images of a bright yellow taxi for my friends and siblings, and we took turns being the taxi driver stopping for a customer.

We all enjoyed being the cabbie (screeching around corners, slamming on brakes, honking)—but we adored making up people who were waiting for the taxi. Pregnant woman (played most hilariously by my brother). Snobby person. Dangerous criminal. Mean teacher. Person who thinks he’s really a dog. You name it. We were imaginative.

I also visited my grandparents’ massive farm in Hazelton often. If there was anyone who enjoyed playing outside as much as I did, it was my aunt/best friend.

She and I would filch paper lunch bags from the pantry and fill one with smoked Oolichans (Mmmm, so smoky and salty and chewy!), and one with crunchy pink and yellow crab apples.

Barefooted, we’d disappear for hours. Life was complex as Elven princesses. There were ongoing epic battles to be fought, evil rulers to flee, magic to be mastered. My little leather pouch of elf stones proved helpful, and we carried jackknives, of course, for when we needed to make spears or arrows or walking sticks.

When our stomachs sounded a dinner alarm, we headed for the castle or tavern to feast with assorted trolls and miscreants—then moved out again as soon as we could.

When the sky turned purple (and in the North, that’s delightfully late!), we knew it was time to retreat to the inn, filthy-footed and exhausted.

To this day, I don’t know if there’s anything better than having your bedtime snack when you can hardly keep your eyes open, then crawling into bed smelling like tree sap and fresh air and dirt, your limbs so tired they almost ache—and the soft, all is right in the world feeling of clean sheets and blankets wrapping you in a sleepy cloud. . . .

A lot of people hit adulthood and yard time suddenly becomes chore time. As I explained to one of my young nieces, however, though it’s kind of weird, some stuff you call work as a kid becomes fun, almost like playing, once you’re an adult (except for dishes. Dishes are always horrible).

So yes, you’ll find me weeding and watering. But you’ll also find me meandering about, staring into the sky daydreaming, and playing in the lake. My feet still need to be scrubbed before bed in the summer.

I hope you have your own fond memories of playing outside—and that you keep making them. Let me send you off with words from my mother that I could never hear enough: “Get outside and play. Now!”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This column originally appeared as my April 2012 column, but since some things never change—like my love of playing hooky outdoors and my immense delight and relief when spring finally arrives after a long winter—I wanted to share it again. I hope you’re yelling, hear, hear!

Don’t miss out this Thursday, April 20!

It’s definitely starting to feel FUN to be out and about during the evening now, not like a chore. Yay, spring! Yay, light! And on that note . . . I hope you’ll sneak away from your busy life and join me at the Terrace Public Library this Thursday night. Sarah, Norma, and Carol are not to be missed. It’s going to be a great night. See you there! 🙂

Muddling Through

“Fork tree sky” by David DeHetre

Whew, this March was a hard month. It did indeed come in like a lion; I am still waiting for it to go out like a lamb. As I write, I’m sitting on my couch, notebook in hand, coffee at my side—and the view from every window is the same: dark heavy branches weighed down with snow.

 

In town, spring seems possible, maybe even imminent. At my house, everything is a grim, ugly muddy-gray white. It could easily still be January.

 

I know in a couple weeks, the sun will have touched even my ends-of-the-earth yard enough to reveal sodden yellow ground, but it can’t happen soon enough. I have to-do lists and lots of plans that I carefully and enthusiastically made in January—yet no energy to carry them out. I wake up tired, creep through my day feeling wiped out, and fall into bed exhausted.
 
I also know I’m not the only northerner who struggles with blues and/or low energy this time of year. The fact doesn’t make it any easier, however. What does? Well, thankfully a few things . . .
 
1) Spending time with my kids and little grandson. No matter how blah I’m feeling, seeing them (and him) makes me smile and energizes me almost immediately.
 
2) Spending time with friends, at my house, up town, at their houses . . .
 
(Yes, there is a theme here: getting out to see people, even when I don’t feel like it initially, or maybe especially if I don’t feel like it, is helpful and good.)
 
3) Forcing myself to go outside. Apparently even dull overcast days provide enough UV rays to elevate one’s mood. (I’m taking the experts’ word on this—and feeling a bit snarky and skeptical about it, I must confess.)
 
4) Doing things I find fun (sadly, there’s still an element of having to force myself—but once I do I don’t regret it)—and there’s an extra boost if those “fun” things are active. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the days I went bowling or played darts with my family, tramped around the snowy beaches and trails at Lakelse Lake, or climbed down the rocks to watch the birds feasting on oolichans towards Prince Rupert were higher energy, “better mood” days for me.
 
5) Not berating myself for being “lazy.” I can be really hard on myself (like most of us, I suspect), but battering myself with mean self-talk doesn’t help me or “shake me out of it.” It just makes me feel worse. Instead, I’ve sort of come to embrace my inner sloth and try to find humor in it. For example, the season some people call winter, I’ve relabeled Netflix—and I don’t apologize for reveling in TV for a couple months a year. I won’t watch very much in the spring and summer. Unless I do. So there.
 
I’ve found it helpful to try to treat myself the way I would treat a friend (so supportive, kind and encouraging, not belittling).
 
6) Journaling. I’ve talked about the benefits of this before. Sometimes it’s nice to figure out what’s going on in your head—or, on days when that seems like an awful idea, I don’t even bother to attempt it. Instead, I record the day’s events, make up a story, or jot down random thoughts. 
 
(If journaling sounds good to you, but you don’t know where to start, search “Journaling prompts” online. You’ll find a wealth of good sites. Print a list of prompts, cut them into separate ideas, and put them in a jar. Then once a week, every couple of days, or even, if you’re a super keener, daily, pick out a prompt and write. I find setting a time or page limit helpful; I resist the process less if I know when it will be over, hahahaahahahahaha.)
 
7) Reminding myself that this too shall pass. I’ve survived other long, bleak Netflixes before. Spring always comes eventually. In fact, I suspect by the time my next column rolls around, you and I will have forgotten we were ever feeling muddled by March—or let’s live in that hope anyway!
 
p.s. I’ve been sort of jokey about my S.A.D. tendencies, but “blues” are the furthest thing from funny when they hit hard. If life keeps seeming darker even when the days are naturally brighter and/or you can’t “force” yourself to do the things I’ve suggested above, please reach out to your doctor or someone else you trust.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“Muddling Through” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, March 29, 2016 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.” 

Fun and exciting news afoot – please help me with it!

I received very exiting news earlier this month. HOOK, LINE & SINKER (River’s Sigh B & B, Book 4) was nominated for AllAuthor’s cover of the month contest! I need your help though . . . PLEASE VOTE!

(You will have to create an account, but it doesn’t take long at all–and will help me a ton. There’s a first cut happening in two days and I want to make it! 🙂 ) Thank you so much!

Cover of the Month

Hook, Line & Sinker (River’s Sigh B & B Book 4)

My book has been nominated for Book Cover of the Month on AllAuthor.com. It would be greatly appreciated if you could take a moment to vote.

Vote Now »

Thank you for your support,
Ev Bishop

 

And more fun news! As a thanks to you kind souls who have already reviewed my books–and hopefully as a little nudge/reminder to review if you haven’t yet, I’ve designed a super simple contest with some lovely prizes.

All you need to do is post a review of any one of my novels online at Amazon, Kobo, iBOOKS, or Barnes & Noble. When your review is published, paste the link in the appropriate Rafflecopter box. That’s it! Have fun! (And if you’ve already reviewed–hooray! You are still eligible. Track down your reviews and paste their links beneath whichever book you reviewed. And please, definitely review all six books so you’re entered six times!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE CONTEST. GOOD LUCK! 

And that’s it for me! Hope you’re having great week.

🙂 Ev

A little something for readers and for writers

Hello and happy post Valentine’s Day greetings,

I hope your belly is full of chocolate! Mine, sadly, is not. I only got in a few nibbles–but have no fear, I will treat myself tonight. My husband and I made our plans for this evening because we got to enjoy a brand new, first time ever experience this Valentine’s Day . . . grandbaby sitting. SO FUN.

I have two quick happy blurts today.

evbishop_hooklinesinker_200pxThe first (calling all readers): I’m excited to announce that I have a new book out – HOOK, LINE & SINKER (Book 4 in my River’s Sigh B & B series). I do hope you’ll grab a copy. 🙂  And no worries, if you haven’t read the rest of the series–though what are you waiting for, lol? Each book works great as a standalone.

Brian and Katelyn fall for each other hook, line and sinker—but real life isn’t a fairy tale. If they can’t solve the increasingly dangerous threat posed by Katelyn’s ex, they won’t get a chance to pick up the pieces from their pasts or to find out if true love is real.

Read the longer blurb and/or buy it today:

AMAZON ~ KOBO ~ iBOOKS ~ BARNES & NOBLE 

The second (calling all writers): Though it’s hard for me to believe, another year has passed and it’s time for Askew’s Foods’ Word on the Lake Writing  Contest. It’s a great contest and first prize includes a full conference package. I had the opportunity to go a few years back and it’s a wonderful event, featuring amazing presenters in a second to none venue. (The hotel is set on the banks of a gorgeous lake, near a bird sanctuary that you can explore in your down time.) Whether you enter the contest or not–and you should–definitely consider the Shuswap Association of Writers’ Word on the Lake conference. 

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And that’s it for me! I’ll talk to you again in a few weeks and share my February 2017’s Terrace Standard column. In the meantime, happy living, writing, reading, being,

🙂 Ev

New Year’s Thoughts

"Coffee Break" by Berit Watkin

“Coffee Break” by Berit Watkin

Wow, February 6th already. Where does time go? I hope you’ll accept my (belated!) well wishes for 2017, pour a coffee, and take a minute to enjoy my thoughts on the new year, which were originally published in the Terrace Standard, January 25, 2017 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.” Thanks for reading!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Hello and happy new year! It is mind blowing to me that it’s 2017 already—that, in fact, we’re already through the first month. Mind blowing. 
 
On the 16th of January, someone close to me shared that it was Blue Monday. The term was unfamiliar to me at first. Apparently it’s a name given to a day in January (often, but not always, the third Monday of the month) that’s widely considered the most depressing day of the year because of a combination of “weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.” (Thanks, Wikopedia. What would I do without you?)
 
But Blahuary isn’t getting me down this year. A sunny holiday to look forward to helped very much (and made me feel spoiled!), but an even bigger boost (reminder) came from an unexpected place—a back issue (May/Jun/Jul 2016, to be exact) of my favorite magazine, Where Women Create.   
 
In her wonderful editorial column, From My Kitchen Table, Editor-in-Chief Jo Packham reflects on the passage of time, contemplates her life, and describes herself thus:
 
“I am 65 this year, and I am having an identity crisis—please do not try to talk me out of it or off the ledge that I seem to be looking over. It is my reality and I am not the only one facing it, who has faced it, or will someday face it. Being 65 is humbling, terrifying, something worth celebrating, nostalgic, lonely . . . a list of adjectives that goes on ad infinitum. But think about it: you can use those same adjectives regardless of what age you turn this year.”
 
Those adjectives really do apply to every age, and although I’m twenty years younger than Jo, the whole article resonated with me deeply. Her insight and descriptions of the ages and stages of life—“mid-20s, 30-somethings, 40-and-counting, 50-and-wishing, 60-and-panicked, 70-and-reflective, 80-and-byond”—struck me as so . . . accurate.
 
What I took with me from the read (now these are my thoughts, not hers exactly) is that we are all dying. We should feel a sense of urgency to live better, to love truer, to forgive more generously . . . to say what we need and express how we honestly feel, to live how we want to live, to conquer our fears (or push on in the face of them!), to embrace new challenges and pursue our dreams.
 
And conversely:
 
We are all living. We should feel a sense of urgency to live better, to love truer, to forgive more generously . . . to say what we need and express how we honestly feel, to live how we want to live, to conquer our fears (or push on in the face of them!), to embrace new challenges and pursue our dreams.
 
(See what I did there? No matter what our perspective on mortality is, how far it seems or close it looms, we should be living fully now.)
 
To heck with “blue” Monday. Each day is new. Each day. We will all (I’m so sorry to say) go through bitterly hard times, but hopefully we’ll find the strength to persevere when perseverance is needed and the bravery to start anew when quitting or ending something is needed or inevitable.
 
We will have regrets, even in the future, regardless of how much we decide here and now to live without them. The trick is to not let them hold us back or keep us down. Make amends and apologize when needed (and it will be needed), but remember: Each day is new. We are dying. We are alive!
 
I wish you so much joy and energy this year—and fun, too. May you embrace life at whatever stage you find yourself and regardless of our ages, may it be true for all us: the best years are still to come.
 
Find activities that bring you pleasure or contentment and do them. Cherish the people you love and who bring you happiness and spend your time with them.
 
Warmest regards always,
Ev

Kick off the merry month with free books!

I love December for many reasons–including that for the whole month, there’s pretty snow falling across my blog. 🙂 (Seriously, it’s one of my favorite WordPress features, LOL.)

Adding to the fun this year, to celebrate winter and the holiday season–and a love of reading, in general–I’ve teamed up with more than 150 fantastic romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS over $1,000 in prizes! You can download my novel ONE TO KEEP for free, plus books from authors like Marie Force, Zara Keane, Victoria Pinder, Ciara Knight, Mary Jo Putney–and too many more great ones to mention. Enter the giveaway by clicking here: http://bit.ly/christmas-rom

Best of luck and enjoy a whole lot of cozy-on-the-couch reading this winter!

christmas-romance-2016-bishop-ev