Drafts, Manuscripts and Coffee

Virgo season is over, and so is summer. And so, I reflect. I reflect All. Of. The. Time. But especially at the end of this particular season.

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My Happy Place, our family home in Jamaica – 2018

Recently, I’ve been in a funny kind of mood. I feel blessed, thankful and full of appreciation for all that continues to take place in my life. But lately, I’ve been feeling anxious. And I’m not quite sure why. In the past, I’ve typically known why I was feeling what I was feeling, but this time around is different. I’ll be sitting, watching a show, preparing a meal, taking care of my little guy, doing a reading, thinking about going to the gym, thinking about writing, thinking about the fact that I’m not writing, thinking about how tired I am, thinking about money, thinking about how much weight I’ve gained, thinking about driving, thinking about the fact that I don’t want to drive, thinking about what someone else is thinking or feeling… and my heart just starts to beat in a weird kind of way, right up into the base of my throat. It’s like I’m nervous or anticipating something bad about to happen. Or maybe it’s something good about to happen. I don’t know. Either way, I don’t care for the feeling.

I think I’m probably thinking too much. I know I’m thinking too hard. I think I might even be expecting too much. From myself and others. Both of these things, the overthinking and the expecting…big mistakes. Don’t do it. It’s not healthy. I’m not sure if this is truly the source of my recent state of unease, but I know that the first step is acknowledging there’s a problem and then finding the source. The root. The cause. And with that, I take a deep breathe…let it out slowly and repeat. I thank everyone who has played a role in making this year so special, so impactful.

My year, leading up to this most recent birthday has probably been the best year of my life for many reasons. The goodness, in all its forms, that has fuelled me is not taken for granted. I look forward to what the upcoming year holds for me. And mild anxiety aside, I’m truly excited for what’s to come. Happy one year older, wiser and brighter to me!

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Summer Writing Institute, University of Toronto – 2018

In early July, I took a writing course at the University of Toronto. For one week, we wrote and intensively discussed the ins and outs of children’s book writing. I loved it. Thoroughly. It was the longest I’d ever been away from my baby boy and though I missed him, I loved what I was doing. I was writing

got a taste of what life would be like if I wasn’t on a mat leave. Waking up early to accommodate not only the 1.5hr commute to downtown Toronto, but also getting baby boy ready for his day with grandma; which entailed feeding him, changing him, pumping. Not easy at all. As well as, getting myself ready. No, it wasn’t easy, but I appreciated the process. I was getting closer to my goals. I also enjoyed the morning commute with my partner. It was nice having that time to ourselves as we made our way downtown; him to work and me to class.  

Class started at 9 and shortly after it started, exhaustion would begin to rear its head. Which brings me to coffee.  

I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker. Actually, I’ve never been a coffee drinker at all. I never felt I needed it, nor did I like it very much. But during that week of early commutes downtown, after sleepless nights with a baby…I was excited to get my daily mocha. I felt like I’d joined some exclusive crew, that I’d never been apart of. 

Tea was and always has been sufficient. More my pace. In a warm, cozy and non-rushed kind of way. Nevertheless, despite not wanting it, coffee was always on my radar..someone around me was always drinking it, needing or wanting to drink it or shocked that I don’t drink it.

The first time I had it was in Japan. I was teaching English in Fukushima prefecture and the office lady would make it for me. I’d go into the office and she’d greet me with a big smile and a cup of…coffee. “Tamura sensei… Kohi. Doozo.” I’d smile back and say, “Arigatou Gozaimasu”, take the coffee and try to figure out how to get it down my throat without gagging. That was when, a little over 10 years ago, I experienced the power of coffee. I’d felt that first jolt of energy flowing through my veins. To this day, I can’t forget how that first time felt. I was amazed at the power it had over me. And even though I really didn’t like it, I wanted to experience it again.

Teaching in Japan entailed early mornings, and that coffee worked its magic on me. It energized the blood flowing through my veins and waves flowing through my brain. When it was hot, the office lady gave me “Ice Koho”. In the colder months it was regular hot coffee. Occasionally I was given a mocha, these were special moments for me as I love chocolate and didn’t have to try so hard to get it down my throat.

After my stint in Japan, I didn’t have anyone in my life trying to get me to drink coffee. I was accepted as a tea loving person and for the most part, hung around other tea loving people. As I mentioned before, tea has always been my more my style. I’ve actually been a tea drinker since quite young. My mom blames my grandma, while my grandma tries to deny that my love of tea is her fault. Either way, I’m thankful, because I really do love tea. I’m one of those, ‘tea will solve all of your problems’ kind of person. What it doesn’t do however, is wake me up, and give me energy in the way coffee seems to do for coffee drinkers. I’ve tried to find the teas with the highest caffeine content, but they just don’t seem to be the same. Drink green tea they say, I love green tea (I have Japan to thank for this), I drink it daily and it doesn’t wake me up. Black teas don’t work and nor do Mates. Only coffee seems to do the trick.

Of late, when I’m around coffee drinkers, I automatically want to join them. Tea isn’t sufficient. Not since having my baby. After a recent trip up in the hills of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, I made a discovery. I liked coffee, for real! Well, as long as it had a lot of sweetened condensed milk in it. It was delicious, but I put so much condensed milk in it, I couldn’t in good conscience make it a habit. When I think about it, if the only way I can get it down my throat is to fill it with hot chocolate or condensed milk, I can’t truly like it that much. I also don’t care for having to go the washroom shortly after consuming it. I remember thinking ‘Oh No! I must have an intolerance to coffee.’ Only to find out that all around the world, people were running to the washroom to poop after drinking their coffee. I still think about it. I feel like I know a dirty little secret about all the coffee drinking people out there. Either coffee drinkers plan their lives very carefully around its consumption or they don’t mind using any washroom they can find. Or they have amazing control over their bowel movements. Either way, I can’t hang.

As such, I haven’t had much coffee these days. The course has been over for a while now and 3 manuscripts later, I haven’t written much. I registered for the course with the intention to complete one of the ideas that’s been brewing and stewing in my head, but instead I left having written three pieces I never would have imagined writing. One of which, I really like and look forward to pursuing through the publishing process. Nevertheless, I get frustrated with myself sometimes. I feel like I’m often wasting precious time. But, I’ve been tired. Really tired. My little guy is 9 months old now, and has only just started sleeping through the nights. Sort of. He’s also mobile now, and CANNOT be contained. I’m tired and am at his mercy. But I’m reminded, I must be patient. I must be gentle with myself. I will ebb and I will flow. And everything will be alright.

In November, I’ll be attending a CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors Illustrators and Performers) PYI (Packaging Your Imagination) conference. I’ve resumed my graduate studies and finally intend on getting my drivers license. I found a baby yoga class that baby and I absolutely love, and even though I feel overwhelmed with thoughts and lack of sleep, I know that all is and will continue to be well. As I said earlier. Happy one year older, wiser and brighter to me!

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Konoko Falls, Jamaica – 2018

Reflectively yours,

12 raisins

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