Mental health is one of the main motivators for me to work out. I can tell when I haven’t worked out in a while. I start to get frustrated and then angry with every little thing such as dropping a fork. If I let it continue, I will see every decision I’ve made in a negative light and convince myself that my life is horrible when it is actually great.
On the other hand, if I work out, little things like spilled liquids are not a big deal and I can take a breath and let it go. I’m not as hard on myself for perceived failures and actually congratulate myself for my achievements.
I also work out to cut my chances of getting cancer or heart disease. My family history is littered with cancer, including colon and brain cancer so I’ve seen cancer’s progress. Those images are indelibly imprinted on my brain. If I can reduce my chances of developing cancer, then I will do so. My family history is also full of heart disease and I don’t relish surgery.
Now, I have another motivator for working out – my child. I have to set the example for everything from keeping a house clean (the poor kid has no chance) to a healthy lifestyle. If I can instill in my kid now the importance of physical activity, I can reduce my kid’s chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other illnesses.
Please welcome Barbara Tomporowski to this little blog space who is dedicated to the written word, to social justice and to make the world around her a better place. She can be found at When Words Collide and The Cathedral Village Arts Festival.
It was always Raederle.
My gaze fell across my bookcase. It stands proudly, blocking the entrance to my room, unbowed by the volumes stuffed every-which-way until its doors barely close.
Since it was almost midnight, I side-stepped the bookcase and entered my room. And there, on the hardwood floor beside my bed, lay a special edition of the Riddle-Master trilogy by Patricia McKillip. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, the first book was published in 1976.
Raederle, a princess from the country of An, was fated at birth to marry the man who won a wraith’s crown in a riddle-game. She is seldom mentioned in the first book, although the memory of her windblown hair and laughter drives the prince to leave his turnips and claim her hand. It is in the second book, Heir of Sea and Fire, where Raederle comes into her own. Unwilling to let the lords of An argue over who should marry her, she leaves her father’s halls to visit her distant cousin, a pig-herder. The lords find her there, with her feet bare and her hair unbound. This lack of concern for appearance serves her well in the second and third volumes as she tromps throughout the realm, borrowing ships, bartering with wraiths, and seeking the missing Prince of Hed, a prince from an island so poor its main exports are beer and plow horses. His only desire is to read and brew ale, until three star-shaped birthmarks draw him into a mystery where riddles are more deadly than steel.
What she finds within herself, however, is more important. In Heir of Sea and Fire, Raederle must come to understand her shape-shifting, elemental power. When she finally embraces it, she quells a band of undead kings:
She stripped light from the shields, from the armbands and jewelled crowns, from the flagstones, blazed a circle on the stones around [him]. She looked for a single source of fire in the room, but there was not even a candle lit. So she contented herself with drawing it out of her memory…The fury gave her dark insight into odd powers. It whispered to her how to crack a solid flag-stone in two, how to turn the thin, black rift into a yawning illusion of emptiness… (pp. 342-343.)
One of the things that draws me to Raederle is how she finds her own power. Turning her back on comfort and propriety, she learns to master herself, which frees her to experience the wonder of the lovely, pitiless land. For example, she initially refuses to fly in crow-shape, the traditional animal form of the Kings of An, until exhaustion compels her. Then she flies for weeks with the Prince of Hed, trying not to think about whatever they might be eating. The chapter ends with these beautiful lines:
Raederle whispered, “Your eyes are full of wings.” “Your eyes are full of the sun.” (p. 426).
The male characters are excellent too. Bri, the beleaguered shipmaster. Har, implacable king of wolves. The Prince of Hed himself, who values books over crowns. Yet it is the women who inspired me. The far-seeing Morgol. Spear-wielding Lyra, who says, “I don’t take vows. I make decisions” (p. 442.) But in the end, it was always Raederle, who shaped my love of elemental things. The purple prairie crocus, the scent of straw and lilac, shadowy creatures gnawing in the garden.
The Riddlemaster seems innocent compared to contemporary fantasies. Its kisses are chaste, its violence circumscribed. Yet the prose hums, the characters fresh and authentic. I aspire to write so well.
To the west, a snowstorm batters Calgary. The wind will soon howl across the ranch lands and buffet the prairies. In Saskatoon, as I type these lines, the wind is already rising. I hope I’ll make it home tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll curl up and reread Heir of Sea and Fire.
Bio: Barbara Tomporowski writes, dances, and photographs. She also sings badly, inflicting her garbled tunes on her closest friends and family. She aims to present the beauty and majesty of the Canadian landscape through the written word.
At When Words Collide 2017, I heard about this book but I didn’t have much interest in buying it. However the thought of it must have percolated in my memories over the next year because at When Words Collide 2018, I bought it. The gorgeous cover, by Samantha Beiko, helped.
I’m so glad I did. The fantasy and science fiction in this book is good, really good. I feel for the characters in these stories and the imagery, one story after another, was fresh and exciting (for me, anyway).
With so many characters to choose from, it was hard to pick only one. However, the character’s voice that echoed the most for me was Paris Azarcon from Karin Lowachee’s story Meridian.
Being abandoned has a profound effect on us. We lose trust, our sense of security and love. Through no fault of their own, Paris Azarcon’s family abandons him when they are killed by raiders. He fights, literally and figuratively, through that loss, rejecting those around him before they can abandon him, until he finds himself in a place where they won’t let him reject them.
Once he regains this sense of family, security and belonging, he finds a measure of peace, until news comes that disrupts that peace.
He then has a choice; seek out the answer in that news and potentially invite abandonment or stay with the status quo.
I wonder how much influence our past hurts have on our present day decision making. That must be why young people are more willing to take risks. They’ve had less bad experiences to measure the risk against.
As a young man, Paris has the opportunity to take a risk or preserve the status quo. I cheered him on so read his story to find out what he did.
Physical activity and writing intersect in surprising ways. Steve Jobs was renowned for taking a walk to problem solve and Brandon Sanderson has talked about plotting out his novels while at the gym. I started actively using my exercise periods as problem solving sessions this year and I have been able to come up with some great twists as a result. I can sit there all day and not see a way to fix my story problem but if I’m on the move, I can see the solution or come up with a new story direction or plot out the next scene.
I find it interesting that the studies have shown meandering walks are the best for creativity while cycling is worse. However, in my own personal physical activities, I come up with my ideas when I’m walking and less so when I’m running so my own experience supports these findings.
For example, I figured out the career for the main character of my current work in progress, Desert’s Daughter, while on a walk. That career will be as a influencer but in a place without computers.
As an immortal, you would have to give up your family and friends when they died and you didn’t. In The Trouble with Mages: Immortal Quest by Alexandra MacKenzie and published by Edge Publishing, one immortal mage named Marlen has been pursuing a relationship with a mortal named Nick. Each time Nick dies, he is reborn but forgets his previous life until Marlen helps him remember it. Sometimes they have a relationship together and other times they don’t.
I scoff at romantic notions like a relationship that lasts on and off again over five hundred years. Yet, Marlen pursues this relationship so sweetly and clumsily, only because he loves this one person, that even my heart melts at this story. He could do anything with all of time available to him, yet the only thing worth pursuing to him is this one relationship, from page 193:
“I know you happen to believe that I’m a lazy, good-for-nothing fool, but what you don’t know is that I’ve spent my five hundred good-for-nothing years trying to do the one thing I thought had any meaning in this world. I tried to love someone.”
Marlen’s devotion sets him apart from the modern era, in which this story is set, and from the other characters in this story. His scatter brained activities, putting everyone in danger by releasing a powerful mage and keeping information from Nick, could make Marlen only an obstacle to Nick but his love and devotion actually elevate Marlen.
Our dog is a Border Collie Newfoundland cross but she is really more Border Collie. Her energy some days appears endless. After running five kilometres in the morning and then another five kilometres in the evening, she still wants to chase stones, play with her toys or have training.
So there is no escaping at least a daily walk with her but more likely two or three walks with her, rain, sun, snow, minus 20 or plus 30. To do less is to let her down but also to invite chaos in our house as she tries to find something to occupy herself.
My natural state of being is inert so her energy grabs at me and pushes me out of the door. I can’t resist her open mouth smile and soft brown eyes. She humbles me though because I know that if I didn’t take her out, she would still love and forgive me, even if I didn’t deserve it.
I would now always live with a dog because on days I absolutely do not want to leave the house for a walk, I have to and I always feel better afterwards. She keeps me committed to my own wellbeing, as well as hers. And walking and chatting with your family while the sun begins its descent in the evening reminds me why I go to work every day and why I love writing.
Who can’t root for someone looking for redemption? When we are first introduced to Leesil, he engenders very little sympathy. He steals from peasants with his partner Magiere, and then uses the money to drink, not thinking beyond that night.
Then we learn that he has skills with knives that enable him to kill, steal, and fight in relative secrecy and he becomes interesting. How did he come by these skills?
The guilt that drives him to drink is a result of betraying his mother and father because he couldn’t be what they needed him to be. He is at heart a decent person who just wants to get along with people and help them. It’s this decency which led to his betrayal and his guilt.
He had to make a choice between continuing to destroy himself or destroying his family. He chose to destroy his family and in doing so, began a new path to destroying himself.
That, of course, is where Leesil begins in the story. I haven’t finished reading the series, but now that he’s started on a new path to redemption, does he continue?