Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Black Dot


I recently received an email that was pretty timely and I wanted to share it with you.

The story goes like this:

A teacher gives his students a Pop Quiz. They’re not happy about it. He hands out a piece of paper and once he has handed them out to his students, he tells them to turn the sheet over. They do, only to find a black dot in the centre of the paper. They’re confused. He tells them to write what they see. They’re still confused, but they do it anyway.

At the end of the test, he collects the papers and begins to read their answers out loud to the class. Every single student wrote about the black dot.  The teacher said there was a whole page of blank white space around the dot, but everyone chose to focus on the black dot. He said it was like this in life. We all tend to focus on the negative, the problems, the worries, the anxieties, instead of the blessings.

The email went onto say that we should focus on the positive things in life. One of those things is a job that provides income. I looked up and thought, ‘But, I don’t have a job!’ Black dot! Even after reading about focusing on my blessings and acknowledging that this is a good idea, I still focused on the black dot.

(Sometimes, I think a hamster’s brain is more evolved than my own.)

For me, the thing to remember is that during this time of looking for work, I have finished a first draft + of a novel and even put together a TV show. These are big time blessings!  The show is to air in mid-February on Rogers TV (Ottawa).  I had the amazing opportunity to put together Ellie’s Read On Ottawa, where I interviewed local writers.  (More details to follow.)

As a Christian, I think my white space is supposed to be my faith in Christ.  In a sense, the black dot is the giant wave coming at me, and Jesus says, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).   But, more often than not, I focus my energy on fear and the uncertainty about the future.

I also think when we focus on the black dot, we miss the blessings that are intended for us. If we lifted out eyes off of our own problems, fears, etc., we might see an opportunity. An opportunity not so much in hiding, if we refocused our energy, turning out attention away from the black dot.

We’re going to keep wanting to focus on the black dot.  This is human nature. But, when we do, we can turn out attention to the white space in our lives and give thanks.  I imagine it’ll take some discipline!  (Here’s to us!!)



Question:  In what areas of life are you focusing on the black dot instead of the white space?


Keep Writing

Hi there,

Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

I’ve never been a big fan of Hemingway.  I always thought he was a bit of a pig. (I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but he’d probably agree with me, so I think I’m in the clear).

That said, he has some pretty good quotes on writing.  (My personal favourite, “The first draft of anything is shit.”)

Writing is a fine art.  And, it is hard work.  I’ve found myself thinking about writing lately.  I think it’s because of the struggle I have been having with my first attempt at a novel. I don’t want to bleed. I don’t want my characters to bleed.

I was reminded lately that I need to not only be true and authentic to myself but also to my characters.

I think this is the reason why writers (and maybe all artists) earned the reputation of being alcoholics.  After sitting at either a typewriter or a computer bleeding for several hours a day, one needs a drink.

Writing is to make yourself completely vulnerable for the very real possibility that some complete stranger will come along and tear your work (and you) to shreds.

You pour your heart and soul into your work.  I can’t really think of a career (apart from the fine arts) where this is the reality.  It seems like sheer madness to me.  Why would I put myself through this if not for the love of writing?

The thing is this:  I am miserable when I am not writing. I am miserable when I am writing. I’m pretty darn near miserable all the time.  (I may be repeating myself here from a previous blog – my apologies!)

A bit of a miracle happened today.

Someone handed me a book and said, “Merry Christmas”. She told me she was reading my blog and one entry reminded her of a book. She thought it would be helpful, so she gave it to me as a gift.

I was shocked and said, “You read my blog?”

She said, “Yes, not all the time, but yes.”

I repeated, “You read my blog?”

I think I’m still in shock…

But, guess what that means?  The number of people who read my blog has increased to THREE!!!  Isn’t that exciting?  The answer is, “Yes.”

Her advice and encouragement to me was, “Keep writing!”  And, I appreciated it. (So, thanks to you and you know who you are!!)

For any writers reading this blog, I send along the same encouragement, “Keep writing!” And, to others in the fine arts community – “Keep drawing, painting, composing, acting, singing…” because the world would be really dull without us.




Save the Goldfish

Hi there,

I just saw on the news how people are dumping goldfish into the Hamilton waterfront.
It got me to thinking…

As if Hamilton didn’t have enough issues with environmental hazardous waste, now the city has to deal with goldfish waste.  They’re turning the water into a filthy, disgusting, giant goldfish bowl. Have you ever had goldfish?  I used to. They were gross.  They all died. I was happy.

There, I said it. I am an animal lover to the core, but goldfish are not animals. They’re food for larger fishes.

But according to the experts, they’re not food for larger fishes!

They grow bigger when they’re in the wild and are gluttons, eating all the other fish’s food. So, the other fish, which are good for the ecosystem, get snuffed out by the goldfish.

Kind of a James Bond, Goldfinger, kind of deal…

Hello Sean Connery…(PG-13, Smoking and probably some other stuff…)

Right, back to the goldfish problem. Just to show you I’m not a terrible human being/goldfish hater, I have decided to start a “Save the Goldfish Fund”.

Yes, for 19.99* per month, you can sponsor a goldfish, and Auntie Ellie will ensure that every goldfish fished out of the Hamilton water system will be humanely euthanized, I mean, found a good home, in the sky.

I think that might be all the silliness I can muster right now.

Happy 2016!


*We take all currencies, such as, USD, Pound, Euro, AED and sometimes CAD (depending on where the loonie’s at)