Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Quit - Dream or Reality

"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."  Henry Ford 

                                                                                                                           Somewhere in Saskatchewan
I’m impatient for many things right now.  Life is changing – veering onto another path and I’m anxious and leery to take that corner.  The corner where the cubicle life is behind me and I'm free of an employer.  But as the time nears I find myself in a different place.  My life is about to change and despite years of dreaming and planning I can only guess at how it will unfold. 

Summer is almost here.  It is the first summer where I will not be under the dictates of a boss and my time will be my own.   Quitting a long-term job is scary no matter how long you’ve planned your exit and I’ve planned since day one.  That first day when I realized that uniform grey and beige walls, layered procedures and repetitious tasks weren’t for me, I made my decision to exit early.  But it seemed through the years, no matter how dedicated I was to the plan, that the time would never come.  Yet like all things it did and now it’s almost here – weeks away. 

                                                                                                                       Nyaungshwe, Burma

I’m impatient for this waiting period to be over and get on with it.  At work I’m in this strange little limbo where I am no longer “them”.  I am the one that’s jumped and ran and not for just another job but with plans of never coming back, a traitor of sorts although my friends are all happy for me.  Although I'm not sure how this will unfold, maybe like Ford's quote, what I want is really not what I need.  But that remains to be seen, I don't think either a life-long passion or personal freedom are elements to be quibbled with - the rest I'm certain will all fall into place.

For now I see this as a chance to devote myself more fully to what I love – writing.  It's a chance to do all sorts of things, ideas are already percolating in my head and the list gets longer daily but for the immediate future the list is more condensed - get in shape after years of sitting at a desk and jamming writing in on the side (more sitting at a desk).  Soon I'll be free to write and not fight for time against other employment.  Yes, I am now a full-time writer.  That and so much more.  I'm finally getting those roller blades out after too long of a break.  I know there will be more chances to travel to foreign destinations with pen in hand.  I could go on but hey - there will be other posts.

                                                                                                                                    Holguin Province, Cuba
It’s almost time - and while I can’t fathom the changes, I’m impatient to begin.  I feel a bit like I did as a kid waiting for the beginning of summer vacation.  Hot summer days that seemed endless with possibility.

What happens when the dream meets reality?  I'll let you know.  Whether it's a horse or a car, a computer or a pen it will all work out.

Have you dreamed of a horse and ended up with a car?   What are you impatient for?

Ryshia on Twitter

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Valerie Bertinelli is engaged and Kate Gosselin has a new hairstyle.  Okay, I rather like Valerie as an actress so I'm happy for her.  But why do I care?  Why did I click on those links to read further?  I don't buy People magazine and I'm not much of a celeb follower.  So what was going on?


It felt too early to walk this morning, and truly I had no desire to get presentable and get going, so I avoided and had another cup of coffee even thought the clouds were gathering.  And that's when I hit the first link and read the story about Valerie for which I will probably have little memory later.  Now it's raining and the dog is sulking.


I'm beginning a new book and while I used to love beginnings and still do, sometimes there's something intimidating about those first few words.  It's the dreaded blank page - a feeling I never thought to have and now occasionally do.  I suppose it's another evolution of this writing career but one I don't much like.  So that's when I discovered the Kate Gosselin new hairstyle.  I can only say that avoidance had reached an all time high at this point.

Much of my avoidance this morning, missed walk aside, is where I'm at in the writing process.  A story is one-half complete and off to critique and my head is still there but until the story comes back I don't want to go forward.  But to jump from one world to another is a leap I'm avoiding.  So combined with the blank page issue I'm pretty much stalled out.  I've done much cruising of the net this morning avoiding that blank page.  Finally, when even the synopsis, my Achille's Heel, was looking more enticing, I dove in.  And then the magic began.  Once that first sentence is there, the rest just happens.  It comes from some place I can't identify and it just falls onto the page.  Whether it is final copy at this point is irrelevant.  What's important is that the characters are coming forward to introduce themselves.

I imagine that one day, one character will chastise me for the delay and that in itself will be a story.  In the meantime, there's one cure for a new book - ignore the celeb gossip - e-mails and blog follows - and start with a letter.  Any letter.  Can't think of one?  I've always liked t.  It gives you a the or a they or a that or a then or a there or...    Great words for something interesting to follow.


Start with a task - any task, preferably something small.  

How's avoidance working in your life?

Ryshia on Twitter

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Border Crossings - Beneath the Law

Borders are tight in most parts of the world.  They've been tight for awhile and only today are they, well - tighter.  Actually, I've entered few countries in my travels where forms weren't required and passports not expected to be at ready.  There's always the stern looking officials.  But it's all in the presentation, some checkpoints are just a little more intimating than others and on the northern border of Thailand - the Burmese checkpoint was one of them.

Or so I thought.  But in that little village in Northern Thailand that butted up against Burma, borders took on a completely different meaning.  While officials manned an immigration point on a bridge that marked the border between Thailand and Burma, commerce thrived on both sides of the border.

Mae Sai, Thailand was bustling with people wanting to sell everything from cigarettes to t-shirts.  And on the other side of the bridge, for those a little more adventurous - Burma.  But no one was going there without filling out the forms, answering the questions and facing men dressed in military fatigues holding automatic rifles. 

No one that is except for one man who was desperately trying to sell us a t-shirt on the Thai side of the border.  When he had none in the size we wanted, he held up his hand.  Told us to wait in that universal sign language and bolted toward the bridge.  While people lined up or even debated whether crossing into Burma was a wise thing, our t-shirt salesman ran under the bridge, right underneath the immigration stop, crossed the border into Burma and within minutes returned back into Thailand with the correct size t-shirt in hand.

Daring to us.  Just another day at the office for him.  Anything daring in your day?

Ryshia On Twitter

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blown Away

"I'm blown away," my boss said after reading my e-mail.

My announcement was a change I'd been planning for years but it's refreshing to know that I haven't become predictable. Still, I was leaving a familiar world in favour of another. It's an ending of sorts - a time to take this life of mine on another road, another journey. The way I see it, my announcement was unexpected because it didn’t fit the parameters of the box that they had drawn around me. We all have that box, the judgment box of how others perceive us and sometimes it feels good to blow the doors off that box – and on a good day take the walls with us.

The unexpected works well in fiction too. I hate to read a story where I am not surprised by anything. The best stories lull us into a false sense of security. We know how this will end but do we? It’s up to the author to blow the box apart at hopefully the most unexpected moment. Sometimes it’s just small explosions along the way to the big bang. But it’s all about the characters being real people. Real people are not completely predictable.  So like the other day when my actions did not fit what some people had come to expect, characters must also do the unexpected now and then or they will never really live.

Has some one been “blown away” by something you’ve done lately? And if not – is it time to shake things up?

Ryshia Kennie
Ryshia on Twitter

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Summer Solstice

Summer is only a heartbeat away.  To celebrate those long and lazy days of summer, I'm holding the Summer Solstice Contest.  The prize package includes both the movie Titanic and PS I Love You, as well as a few books to tide you through summer. 

Enter any time up to and including Monday, June 21, 2010. 

Want to take a chance?  Head on over and click here to enter the Summer Solstice.

Good Luck!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Clouds Hurt - Seize the Moment Anyway

Oh My God I Can Fly - Conclusion
by June Botkin

Farmer is standing outside the plane on a ledge waiting for Wyatt and me, so he can get the pictures of me exiting the plane.  I duck, walk to the door with Wyatt attached to my back and look down at nothing but clouds and the next thing I know I am falling.  14,000 feet and 120 miles per hour.  My heart is in my shoes.  The wind is screaming by me.  The thoughts going through my head are "what the hell were you thinking?"  Wyatt taps me on the shoulder and tells me to spread my arms.


We fall forever; turning summersaults above the clouds, when I look down I see a white fluffy blanket, what a rush.  Farmer is with us the whole time capturing on film this experience.  Every expression all the way down is captured for me to relive again and again. 
Soon we hit the clouds and let me tell you they hurt.  The temperature drops and we begin to be pelted by ice pellets.  All around is whiteness.  Once we break the clouds the Noth Shore comes into view, the mountains, the ocean with whitecaps and the airfield where we will be landing.  Farmer waves goodbye as Wyatt opens our parachute and up we go.  Another change, this time to peace and calm.  I look straight down my body at the ground below.  It is like standing on a piece of glass and looking at the land far below your feet, that is when I realized that the only thing holding me in place is the harness I am wearing and being strapped to Wyatt.

I tease Wyatt about going right then left as he deftly steers the glider in circles.  He whispers in my ear that I am being cheeky and so that I should take over the controls and so I do.  I turn the glider in circles heading ever closer to the ground.  About 200 feet off the deck Wyatt takes over and we land on the button.  The landing is softer than jumping off a bar stool.  There are two guys there to grab the chute and unhitch me from Wyatt.  My feet are back on the ground and I am forever changed.  I did it, I actually did it.  I jumped out of an airplane!

Now weeks have passed since this experience.  I pull out the photos and go through the slideshow reliving every moment, still in awe that I actually accomplished this and yes it was really me parachuting out of an airplane.  I am not sure what my next personal challenge will be, but this will be hard to top.

I will end this by saying go out there and take the risk.  Do whatever it is that you have dreamed of doing, seize the moment and go for it and yes I would do it all over again.

Thanks so much June for an awesome story!  Seize the moment - what an inspiring thought to be left with.  What inspires you? 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Six Thousand Feet and Climbing

Oh My God I Can Fly - Part Two
by June Botkin

Saturday morning comes early, 5:30 a.m. and another overcast day.  I am leaving tomorrow and this has become an obsession.  Another small coffee and a bagel and we head off with my Last Will and Testament and code status in my backpack and my determination growing.  This time there are no driving mistakes and we make good time and arrive at the airfield at 7:30.  There are a few clouds, but it looks like it is going to be a very nice day.  My friend turns to me and says that I don't have to do this that I can walk away any time, but in my heart I know I have to do this and it will be a life changing experience.

Parked beside us is a van of young Chinese tourists from yesterday who have the same idea as me.  Three boys and a girl and they are all trying to bolster each others courage. We all head into the clubhouse to wait.  Soon the master divers begin to arrive and more people wanting to try this skydiving thing.  The energy is infectious and soon I am visiting with the pros who keep saying once you do this you will be back for more.

A dive schedule for the first jump is posted on the office window and I casually walk over to see who I am jumping with and who will be my photographer.  The Chinese group is now getting suited up with their harnesses and heading to a truck to take them to the plane.  I am still waiting wondering when my turn will coome.  I find out I am in the second load with the pros who are going to be doing a hot hop and some who are going to be doing some aerobatics.  We will jump last after they exit the plane.

Soon my dive master arrives and drops a harness in my hands and says jokingly, put that on and I will be right back.  Little did he know that I have worn a climbing harness for years as a scaffolder.  He and the other pros are surprised that I know how to put it on and the next thing you know I am one step closer to my jump.  Just then the loud speaker crackles to life - jumpers in 5 - and everyone looks to the heavens.  This is the Chinese group but they are no where in sight.  Soon some of the colourful chutes break through the clouds.  They did it!  I watch them land and see the smiles on their faces just as Wyatt nudges me and says its time to go.

Wyatt is going to be my tandem partner, the person who I have to trust to get us safely back to the ground.  I walk through the fence into the restricted area as my friend waves goodbye and readies her camera.  The plane is waiting at the end of the runway and there is a small set of steps.  The pros are clamoring to get into the plane and off the ground; they can't wait to get airborne!  I am straddling a bench right beside the door that soon will prove to be an amazing view of the ground.  Once everyone is inside, the pilot revs up the engines and speeds down the taxiway headed for the end of the runway.  A quick turn onto the runway and the next thing I know we are airborne and the thought of what the hell am I doing starts to race through my head.  There is also a tangible excitement coursing through my body.

One pro jumps at a low elevation, about 6,000 feet, this is the hot hop.  We circle and watch him fall and the guys start to say why is he not opening his chute?  Finally his parachute opens and we begin to climb again.  This time it will be to 14,000 feet which is the height I will be jumping from.  We climb through the clouds and all landmasses disappear.  All that remains is a white fluffy blanket of clouds below us.  The pilot informs us that there will be only one pass and everyone must get out of the plane.  The pros first, then Wyatt, Farmer, the camera man and of course me.  The pros line up on the door ledge, four people holding onto each other then they just fall and are gone from my view.  Before I have time to think three more people run through the plane and dive out the door and are gone. 

Now it is my turn!

I don't know about you but right now I'd be feeling more impending doom than excitement.  I admire someone that could jump - me I'd be welded to that plane.  Part three tomorrow...      Ryshia

Friday, May 7, 2010

Skydiving 101

Today a friend has graciously offered over the next few days to take us skydiving.  So sit back and enjoy the story - I know I will.  Ryshia

Oh My God I Can Fly
by June Botkin

So what possesses a person to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?
No one in their right mind would do such a thing!
Well I did and it was an experience that has no words to truly express the feelings of flying.

So, here is the story of a jump that changed my life and made me stronger and more determined to enjoy life to its fullest and keep challenging myself to push beyond the safe and known into the unfamiliar and scary places we don't like to go.

Just to get away from the rat race of work I headed to Oahu with a friend to lie on a beach, read books and just relax, or so I thought.  There were no thoughts in my head about skydiving I just wanted some quiet time.  I had never been to Waikiki so had no idea what to expect, beautiful weather, a great view of the ocean, beautiful flowers and peace and quiet.  However, everywhere I went I saw brochures for tandem skydiving on the North Shore and a long buried desire started to stir.  I dutifully picked up and read pamphlets and brochures on what to do and where to go, but kept coming back to jumping out of a plane in paradise.

For years now I thought that I would do this at home in Saskatchewan, over the prairies, when I was ready!  It was just one of those things that sticks in your brain that never goes away and you know at some point you will do it.  There was one particular brochure that I kept coming back to and re-reading the article about a tandem jump and looking at the pictures of the peoples' faces as they flew through the air.  Next I was checking out Skydive Hawaii's Website and before I knew it I was planning my jump.

Yes I did write out a Last Will and Testament.  I even wrote out my code status should something terrible happen.  My hotel was right beside the International Market so I headed there to get more information and possibly book a jump.  I spoke to a tour faciliator and before I knew what was happening I was on the phone to Kevin and booking a jump for Friday, April 16 at 9 a.m.  Fear began to grip me and I started thinking what in hell are you thinking, you could die or break a leg.  But deep down I knew this was something that I had to do.

North Shore - Courtesy
My travel companion who had lived on the island was willing to get up early and drive out ot the North Shore and offer support but there was no way she was going to be jumping out of an airplane.  Friday morning came way too early; I have a small coffee and a bagel and begin to prepare for this insane experience.  Of course all that could go wrong, does go wrong.  My friend for whatever reason gest lost, which makes us late for my scheduled jump time, so I call Kevin and push the time out.  Next we run into a rain storm with strong winds as we crest the mountain to look down over the North Shore.  The white caps on the ocean are huge but I am determined not to chicken out, but fear is beginning to grip my heart and I am questioning whether I should go through with this especially now that I have written my Will.

Finally we arrive at Dillingham Field.  There are only a few people there to jump and 85% of them are women.  I speak to the owner and find out that there is a front moving in and that there would be no jumps today, did I want to rebook for tomorrow?  The thought crosses my mind that I can get out of this, I can say I tried, but the weather did not cooperate, but I know that is not what is going to happen.  I rebook for April 17 at 8 a.m. and begin filling out the liability paperwork.  At the bottom of every page in big bold black letters is the statement:

Skydiving is a high risk sport.  You could be injuried or die! 

My friend and I leave the airfield and head off to do some sight seeing, but really my mind is only on one thing...the jump.

Does she do it?  Personally, I'd be concerned if there's any validity to the term "scared to death."  Continued tomorrow...    Ryshia

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Last Will and Testament

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.   Dorothy Thompson

While I'm sure there's a lot of truth in that, I'm going to pass on one fear - sky diving.  Imminent death my emotional self screeches and thoughts of Last Wills and Testaments come to the forefront.  There's a nice ring to that phrase, Last Will and Testament - don't you think?  And I agree that drafting a will is practical but anything coming close to truly needing a will - not for me, not yet.  I'll pass.  So why did I pick sky diving?

A good friend just did that - sky dived - jumped from a plane thousands of feet above the earth.   She hinted at drafting a will before hand but I think, hope - she was kidding.  Although she admits no fear of heights, I have to say if jumping from a plane attached only to another human and a few meters of cloth isn't life changing I don't know what is.  It is definitely courageous.  She took the dive over Hawaii and from the expression on her face - I'm sensing the truth in the quote  Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.

We create paths in our lives, familiar habits that we tread over and over that allow us to avoid our fears.  Whether facing our fears means, moving or just getting out and traveling, speaking to the homeless man on the corner or falling from an airplane, not facing fears keeps us stuck in the familiar spaces we build for ourselves.  Safety zones that we have to break if we want to grow.  So here's the challenge - break one habit and see if it wasn't protecting you from a fear.

Every time I put a story out into the world for others to read - there's a fear - what if they don't like it.  They is many people, some with faces, some people I will never meet or have yet to meet.  They is everybody and anybody but if I listened to that fear I would never succeed.  So despite the fear I do it anyway. 

Life is full of changes, big and little.  We can follow the tried and true or we can deviate just a bit or maybe your turn will take you straight off the map.  Give it a shot - tomorrow try something new, something you've never done before, something that you're just a little afraid of.  

So, while I will never sky dive - yes, you read it, never -  I took that true life story of sky-diving and turned it into a story of my own.  I played on my fear of heights = death and the result has a role in a short story that  will  appear in the May issue of my newsletter The Walkabout, due out shortly. 

Oh and in case you're much braver than me and sky diving has intrigued you get out that pen, fill out your Last Will and Testament and go forth - okay, maybe not so dire but there's a whole wad of interesting information right here.

So what fear big or small, stopped you lately?  

Ryshia on Twitter

BTW - there's more to the sky diving story to come.  And it's quite the story, I'll be posting it during the next few days.