Archive for Writing Posts

The Simple Yet Sacred Act of Showing Up

 

Menu in the Farmer’s Market, The Grove, LA

“Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.”

― Sukhraj S. Dhillon

Wowsa…what a wonderful week I had in Los Angeles! I was reminded, yet again, of the importance of simply SHOWING UP…and then letting the magic unfold.

“Most of life is showing up. You do the best you can, which varies from day to day.”

– Regina Brett

Nina & Maryanne, lunch at Nordstroms

I went to LA to meet my friend, Nina – who is the granddaughter of the Canadian-born silent screen star, Nell Shipman. As you may know, I have been working on a screenplay about Nell for quite a few years now. Nina has been very supportive in encouraging me to take the time needed to ensure the God’s Country project becomes…well, what it is capable of becoming!

And it is getting there 😊

Nina and I chose early August to meet in LA because it was her grandson, Charlie’s, 3rd birthday. And what a party it was!

Lani (Nina’s daughter) and her son, Charlie

You just never know who you’re going to meet beside a bouncy castle…especially in La La Land.

Marian & Nina, Los Angeles

“Without the kindness of strangers, where would we be?”

– Jill Johnson

As an example, Nina and I were sitting at a picnic table, catching up, when a woman by the name of Marian introduced herself. She was Lani & Charlie’s neighbour. We got chatting and I mentioned that I would be passing through LA again in March on my 3-month writing road trip with my dog, Sadie.

She tilted her head to one side. “What days will you be here?” she asked.

I shrugged. “Not sure…sometime in early March, I’m guessing.”

“Well,” she said, “if you can plan it so that you’re here for the two weeks I am out of town, you can stay at my place.”

For free.

YAHOO!

And…THANK YOU!!

After all the cake, cupcakes and pizza had been consumed, I waddled back to my hotel for a nap. When I met up with the family again for an evening BBQ, Nina handed me a piece of paper with a name written on it.

“That’s the name of a production and distribution company that specializes in Canadian film and television co-productions,” she said. “After you left, I got talking to a friend of Lani’s and she said you need to give them a call.”

WOOHOO!

A few days later, I had an excellent phone meeting with a representative from the company. Not sure what will sprout from that discussion…but several seeds were certainly planted.

Stunning view from Jean-Pierre’s lovely home in the Hollywood Hills

In between all the fun activities – a scrumptious lunch at the home of a charming costume designer (a dear friend of Nina’s from her acting days) high up in the Hollywood Hills, delicious dinners, scrumptious breakfasts at The Grove’s Farmer’s Market, a movie, a musical, a train trip to Santa Monica and much walking about my LA neighbourhood – I still managed to get a TON of writing done!

God’s Country screenplay on MA’s laptop

Although I had been disappointed in myself that I wasn’t completely finished the next draft of the screenplays associated with the God’s Country project before meeting Nina in LA, I soon realized that working on the scripts IN Los Angeles was extremely beneficial. For Nell’s mischevious story-telling spirit came through in spades! Each and every time I showed up at my laptop for a writing session, a creative new insight popped to the surface.

“Work with all your heart, because if you show up for your work day after day after day, you just might get lucky enough to burst right into bloom.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear

On breaks from writing, I would soak up the sun and have a delightful dip in the hotel pool. Oddly enough, not once did another person show up at the pool when I was there!

And get this…while I was in LA, another writing project “came through.” By that, I mean, snippets of a story that needs to be written (by me, apparently) kept coming popping into my mind. In this case, it was for a play about the days leading up to Marilyn Monroe’s death.

I had been reading about the recent sale of Marilyn’s home in Brentwood (where she passed away) and the story-wheels started turning. I would wake up in the middle of the night with vivid clarity on how the stage needed to look, who the three characters needed to be and what the key plot points were. So, ever the dutiful scribe, I jotted down detailed notes and then went back to bed.

Perhaps when I am back in LA in March, I will have time to work on that project. You’ll have to get in line, Marilyn 🙂

Nell Shipman, Virginia Woolf (Saviour play script) and Emile du Chatelet (Falling screenplay) are all ahead of you in the writing line-up!

And on that note (re my strange connection with strong historical female figures), you may find next week’s blog of interest…it is about CHANNELING!

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

– Woody Allen

Sunset in Santa Monica, CA

Links to Related Blogs

Introducing God’s Country

Sitting by the Pool Popping Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans

Put It Out There – Whatever “It” Is For You

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

 Do You Believe in Soul Mates?

 

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

– Stephen King, On Writing

What if your dream was handed to you on the same platter as your soul mate’s life?

Not all fairy tales have happy endings…but perhaps the best ones aren’t meant to? Maybe true love is also tough love?

Here’s a little story for you…

Please click here to watch a 2-min video.

“We must own our true stories. In doing so, we begin again to belong to the world in the way only we can. The door to soul opens.”

– Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft; Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and the Psyche

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the door sill where the two worlds touch. 

The door is round and open. 

Don’t go back to sleep.”

– Rumi

About A Widow’s Awakening

With over 2000 copies soldA Widow’s Awakening is touching the heart and soul of readers. This extraordinary story is a candid portrayal of Maryanne’s journey through the first year of grief after the on-duty death of her police officer husband. Engaging, powerful and heart-wrenching, this book captures the immense difficulty of accepting the unacceptable while learning to transform loss into positive change.

What Readers Are Saying…

“I started reading A Widow’s Awakening on Sunday and finished it Monday. The first third of your book touched me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I cried so hard, my eyes became swollen; the pain was so real. I haven’t cried that hard in a long, long time. The grief you expressed was so real to me, as I experienced my own grief in a similar way. Reading your book has been healing for me.” 

– Cristy

“What an incredibly powerful and moving book! Although I had tears in my eyes as I read each page, I think your messages are uplifting and are so important in challenging the human spirit to make our lives mean something meaningful in this world, by helping others and doing something more for society. It is so cleverly written and thought provoking. I haven’t enjoyed a book this much since I taught classic literature to high school students a few years ago.”

– Sarah

“WOW! As soon as I read the first line, I couldn’t put the book down. The truth on soul-mates, hope, after-life, happiness, sadness…you definitely told your tale as it is. I can’t stop talking about this book. I’m glad you shared your story with us.”

– Parveen

For additional reader testimonials, please click here.

About Maryanne Pope

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. She is the executive producer of the documentary, Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. Maryanne lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

About Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

PGP creates entertaining and authentic works that inspire and challenge people to effect positive change in themselves and the world around them. From books, plays, films and e-mail campaigns to greeting cards and inspirational quote cards, PGP products encourage and challenge people to reach their highest potential. The company was started in 2002 by Maryanne Pope. Please visit pinkgazelle.com for details.

About the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund

The JPMF is a registered Canadian charity that was started after the on-duty death of Cst John Petropoulos of the Calgary Police Service. John was investigating a break and enter complaint at a warehouse when he fell to his death after stepping through an unmarked false ceiling. There was no safety railing in place to warn him – or anyone else – of the danger. The JPMF raises public awareness about why and how to ensure workplaces and roads are safe for everyone, including emergency responders. For further information or to view the safety videos, please visit jpmf.ca.

This is the fifth blog in the Life After Loss series:

What Are We Doing Here? A Discussion of Destiny, Fate & Divine Plan

 

“Our authentic calling, our true work in this world, becomes an outgrowth of our lives. Our work can transform and transcend whatever traumas we survive, turning them into something useful for ourselves and, we hope, for others.”

– Louise DeSalvo, Virginia Woolf scholar

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, both destiny and fate mean “a predetermined state or end.” Fate implies an inevitable and usually an adverse outcome. Whereas destiny implies something foreordained and often suggests a great or noble course or end.

In other words, both fate and destiny infer that some sort of predetermination exits.

As for who or what or where that predetermined outcome originated from? Well, I suspect that answer depends on whatever belief system you happen to be most aligned with.

Regardless of what you believe and/or have personally experienced in life, the idea that our souls are here on earth to fulfill some sort of purpose can be either reassuring (especially if we feel we’re on the “right” track) or unsettling (if we are feeling rather lost and off-track).

Or, if we are of the belief that this whole exercise is just one big chaotic crapshoot that is simply unfolding at random, then although we may not believe in any sort of predetermined plan or individual purpose, that doesn’t necessarily mean our lives don’t have meaning. Rather, our lives may have the meaning we assign to them – versus some larger force.

However, just as I discovered with exploring the possibility of life after death, it wasn’t until after I lost someone very dear to me that I suddenly became VERY interested in whether or not he still existed, in some capacity, after the death of his body.

I suspect it’s the same with destiny, fate and the possibility of our souls having some sort of higher purpose for being here: we may not really think too much about it, until we are forced to…until it really matters.

In my experience, life after a significant loss is when life’s big questions come bubbling to the surface.  

I think this is partly because searching for, and perhaps finding, a higher meaning in the wake of a tragedy helps make whatever anguish we may be experiencing a bit more…palatable.

Do you believe in the idea that a “Divine Plan” exists for each of us?

God knows (sorry for the pun) I heard that whispered in my ear enough times in the days and weeks following John’s death. And quite frankly, that particular platitude offered me little in the way of solace. Instead, I was tempted to wind up and punch the person in the nose.

Why?

Because I found it presumptuous that people would tell me that John’s sudden – and easily preventable – death was part of some greater plan schemed up by a God who may or may not even exist…and as such, I best accept it.

To me, the concept reeked of apathy, especially when I realized that this “Divine Plan” is not something any of us mere mortals get to know. Rather, it’s supposed to be enough that a plan exists, so no further questions necessary.

But what is the point of God having some grand plan if no one knows what it IS? 

I guess that’s where faith come in.

However, perhaps because I had so many people telling me that God had a plan for me and John, I began to think they may be right. So what did I do? Why, I tried to figure out The Plan – or at least, our tiny parts of it.

I didn’t meet with much success 🙂

But now that nearly 17 years have passed since John’s death, I have the liberty of seeing things far more objectively than I did in those early days. And I cannot deny the possibility that there could be some sort of plan at work. Or maybe it’s just the way I choose to frame the situation?

Here are a few facts to our story:

1.) John and I used to argue about my procrastination as a writer. I had read Virginia Woolf’s book, A Room of One’s Own, multiple times. Woolf maintained that in order for women to write fiction well, they needed a room of their own and a secure income. John thought that was ridiculous. He figured motivation and me sitting down to actually do some writing was far more important.

2.) The day before John died, we had one last argument about me not writing and I told him how scared I was of waking up 20 years later and still not have finished writing a book. He looked at me and said, “You’re probably right about that…just as long as you know that will have been your choice.”

3.) Because John died in the line of duty and we had mortgage insurance, I was entitled to receive exactly what Virginia Woolf had proposed: a secure income for the rest of my life and an entire house – paid off in full at 32 – in which to write.

4.) Two weeks later, I started writing what would become my book, A Widow’s Awakening. It was published 8 years later…well under the 20-year time limit 🙁

5.) A few years after his death, for some unknown reason, I took a playwriting course. My very first play script was entitled, Saviour, and it’s about John dying of his brain injury – with none other than Virginia Woolf as his spirit guide.

And then there’s the workplace safety initiatives of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If John hadn’t died as the result of a preventable fall at an unsafe workplace, the JPMF wouldn’t exist – and I certainly wouldn’t be an advocate for safety.

So DO I believe in destiny, fate and/or some sort of Divine Plan?

Honestly, I don’t know WHAT I believe in. But I do believe there are far larger forces at play in our lives and our job is to get up each and every day and do our very best at whatever is in front of us…and everything else just seems to fall into place. Eventually.

“God does not die on the day we cease to believe in a personal deity. But we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance of wonder renewed daily, the source of which is beyond all reason.”

Dag Hammarskjold, former UN Secretary-General

I would love to hear your thoughts on fate, destiny and/or a Divine Plan. Do you think your soul is here to fulfill a certain destiny?

For further info about the Life After Loss blog series, please click here.

Here is the link to subscribe to receive the Life After Loss blogs – as well as to read the blogs posted thus far in the series.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.