Flash Fiction Writing Prompt helps with Writing Procrastination, sort of.

Some people ask me, do you procrastinate on your writing?  The answer, sure all the time. I wrote a book, Writing with Cold Feet, on this and related subjects. But, I go through the procrastination phase quickly. One of the ways I procrastinate on my writing is doing other writing (than the stuff I’m supposed to be doing). I always get back to the stuff I’m supposed to be doing but sometimes I seem to need a break. Yesterday the other writing was my first forrage into Flash Fiction (how’s that for alliteration). I accepted the below Indies Unlimited challenge. Read below and if you have an interest, enter, soon (Tuesday April 10, 2018 deadline) or just go and see what I wrote and what others wrote… Then get back to your writing.

Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Little Dog – Big City

Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below. There will be no…

via Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Little Dog – Big City — Indies Unlimited

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Happy Hammock – Book Launch Partay!

Really looking forward to launching my book, The Happy Hammock very soon and you are invited! Can’t come? You can find the paper book online at Amazon now (not the ebook yet).

If you like parties, come – it’s in Burnaby, BC, and some prizes involving Mexico for sure! Dec 3rd, 4:30, 1899 Rosser Ave in the cafe:

And:

 That’s right join us in Mexico for the Writing Retreat, &/or the launch there. More info here! Or contact me using the contact page or vswwriting at gmail dot com.

The CLC

Other than a mutual hatred of the cold that takes us to Mexico every winter, what Jim and I share is a love of having dinner parties. Jim denies it, but he first fell in love with me at his own dinner party.  How did I get there?  Well he was dating my best friend, Elektra, or trying to, as we were all part of a Sunday night dance crowd at The Yale, infamous Blues Bar in Vancouver. I even told him, they made a cute couple on the dance floor, but I didn’t know him well.  One night, after sharing a laugh together he asked Elektra  if she knew me well, and she said I had been her best friend for 18 years. “Invite her to my dinner party,” he said.  

At the party, there was increasingly noticeable  attention paid to me, and less to Elektra. Not that it worried me a lot as Elektra had already told me that there was no sparks there for her, but it was a little embarrassing.  I was not looking for something, I was just enjoying being at a dinner party that wasn’t my own for a change.  But when I made a comment that indicated that I not only knew the artist Jim had on the stereo, B.B. King, but I knew the name of B.B. King’s guitar, Lucille, he started to fall heavy for me, and asked me out right then and there in front of all his friends. His friends, by the way, I had liked so much I had already invited them to dinner at my house in three weeks time, so it was kind of hard to say an outright no.  The whole story of the final pairing of us is longer, but here it can be said that a mutual love of dinner parties was a launch pad, and continues to be a main stay in our life together.

Fast forward seven years and we are in our beloved town in Mexico for another winter and we want to have a dinner party. We want to introduce two American couples together that we know and love but they don’t know each other…yet. Huff and Eileen, former Californians, and Jimmy and Juanita, living between Texas and Mexico are all great people, but I am curious to see if they are going to hit it off, because you never know. In particular, I am concerned because Jimmy is a expert level surfer but, Huff is a jet ski expert.  I don’t know enough about the battle over the surf, but I believe surfers and jetskiers are not always compatible. Am I setting up two species that don’t belong together?  Like the faux pas of asking a very right-wing Republican to dine with very left-wing Democrat, but instead of political differences, am I setting up a surf turf war at the dinner table?  I know that these are things Jim never considers or stresses over, so I take a page from his book and leave it alone.

The party starts with some beverages at the pool and gets lively quickly.  Not only do these two couples get along but the stories and laughs are flying.  Jim and I are not introverts at all, yet for the first time I felt like we were being polite Canadians and could barely get a word in edgewise to these gregarious Americans. Then the subjects of jet skiing comes ont he table, I look carefully at Jimmy, who I’ve known a little longer to see if he is trying to mask any disgust… Texans do play poker right?

Well, did I call that concern wrong, pretty soon it is out in the open that we have a jet skier with a surfer and they start to talk about the love of the waves that they have in common.  Now, in addition to being a surfer Jimmy is a business owner in Texas and Mexico, and suddenly I see a side of this man who is in great shape in his 50s partly due to his avid surfing, in a whole new light.  I had never heard him talk surfer dude talk before, suddenly if I had a dollar for every time he said “gnarly” and “bitchin” that night I would have made a tidy profit.  But I don’t recall ever having heard him say these kind of words before.

Huff and Jimmy start to launch on their tales, tragedies and triumphs of the tides, and I am reminded of the scene in Jaws where they are comparing shark encounter stories (coincidentally, I just heard that 75% of shark attacks are on surfers, and I am sure jet skiers aren’t far behind). I bone up on all kinds of surf talk like Pointbreak and a Barrel and in the process learn that jet skiers often tow surfers out to their favourite surf spots. “Less paddling, dude!” The long and the short of it is, I did not need to worry about these two not getting along.

Well, so starts our friendship of couples… or maybe it can best be called dating.  As Nora Ephron said, “couples date each other.”  Well, if that was true we seemed to be having a threesome dating experience.  Even when we were alone over at Eileen and Huff’s, inevitably Juanita & Jimmy would bang on the door and we’d all be together again.  It was Juanita who noted that all of us owned corner lots within two blocks of one another. And while we have yet to build on our lot, Juanita said “Let’s form The Corner Lot Club.”  Thus The CLC was born. Just for fun. I was so hoity toity and contradictory to the people there, that we just had to do it.

Out to the coolest, cheapest or best places to eat, sometimes all three in one, in our town or the four or five surrounding towns in the area, was part of our new group social adventure. Or having dinner parties and feeding each other, or one evening we fed the crocodiles together (see photos). The CLC is now our little institution.  I Skyped with Jimmy the other day and they just went to a Chinese restaurant run out of someone’s house, someone who was actually Chinese which is a little more rare in our small Mexican town then say…Vancouver.  See there are good things about Vancouver.

I guess the reflection today is how people’s lives change when you invite them over to dinner. Breaking bread with others will always be on of the great rewards of anyone’s life, from the poor to the mega-wealthy, aren’t we lucky.

Don’t Think Just Live

Kathrin Lake, author of From Survival to Thrival documents her first Tango lessons inspired by Tim Ferriss’s book The 4 -Hour Workweek.

Tango Lesson number 7. 

Rodin's ThinkerI thought I did much better tonight in my tango lesson, and I attribute it to one critical thing. Don’t think. Just go with the lead, go with the flow.  Another example of how my tango lessons can be transferred to life lessons. Especially as women, we do tend to  over analyze everything. Perhaps that is why it is a man’s world.  Men can run it without thinking. Okay that was a little sexist joke… or not.  Perhaps the tango allows me to embrace irreverence.  The tango may not be irreverent, but neither is it at all conventional. It is about sex,desire, seduction and the dance between lovers.  It gives me an irreverent feeling because with my North American upbringing it is fun to be blatantly going for the sex appeal.  In the Argentine tango, this is all in the feet.

All my life I have been told “don’t drag your feet!”  Now I spend hours doing nothing but dragging my feet and it looks good, real good. Gabriella teaches us all the tricks, like how a slightly cocked ankle during a pause can look drippingly sexy. Subtle but sensuous.  Argentine Tango is not like ballroom tango that goes for showy effects and double take flipping of the head at every turn.  The true Argentine tango is like the new found couple in the corner of a noisy wedding reception, leaning into one another, oblivious to the others yet making subtle come-ons in their moves. What is going on there is far more sexy than the brash groom and bride, making a big production of the kiss and dip with the clinking of glasses.  That is the difference between the Argentine and the ballroom tango.

When I danced tonight with another woman who was trying to be the lead for our practice, she tells me what a great leader/dancer Jim is. Jim, my partner, is in the next level up.  I have to confess to her that we have danced very little tango together at this point. I am told that Gabriela, our teacher, with her magnificent, outrageous Argentinian personality, apparently put on a little demonstration using Jim to lead her. Jim performed it so flawlessly that at the end of it Gabriela yelled out, “Jim, take me now!”  Everyone laughed and Jim blushed to his toes, but was flattered. 

Tonight, at the end of the class, and because it is my birthday, she makes me do a demo for the class with her.  Nerves!  I started thinking, and then just decided to stop. Results? I didn’t do too badly and Gabriela is heavy on Spanish praise “Eso!” “Muya Bien!” Thankfully, there was no sexual references.  Not bad for an old girl of…never mind. But while I am here , I live.  Stop thinking people, start living.  As they say, if you are not living, you are dying.

Find out more about what Kathrin does to live a full life at: http://www.survivaltothrival.com/

Tango Lesson 4 – Stop looking at your feet

Kathrin Lake, author of From Survival to Thrival documents her first Tango lessons inspired by Tim Ferriss’s book The 4 -Hour Workweek.

Tango Lesson 4.

E and I are still the pet students because we are picking it up fast, which is both bad and good.  It means that Gabriela wants to teach us new things every lesson.  This really appeals to the side of me that likes to learn and desires variety, but may not be so good for mastery of basics. I am wondering when and if my head will explode, but it doesn’t. This time, Gabriela does teach us something that is basic to everything in dance, but which she says many long time dancers never fully get.  That is listening to and understanding the music, and how to move with it.  For the women, as followers, it is all about listening for the lead too. You then have to hope that he has a sense of the music himself.  If he doesn’t, it can be a long and boring dance.  Since Jim got me into swing dancing some years ago, I better understood that old expression “keeping me on my toes.”  A skilled lead, with a soulful sense of the music, will have you starting, stopping and doing things you never thought you could do, all in time to the music.

We learn a new fancy step, that is a double step that looks great when couples do it together smoothly.  To the outside observer you may wonder how they work so fluidly in sync, but she has to listen to his small cues with his hand on her back.  When we goof up Gabriela helps us with a new vocal cue, last week it was “ch, ch, ch!” and this week it is: “ee, ee, eee!” This is all about listening, which quite frankly I find I suck at in real life. Okay, maybe not suck at, but could be better at. 

The only thing I really want to get better at is to keep my head up and stop having the temptation to look at my feet.  If I use dance as the metaphor for a soulful life, where in life do we always have the temptation to look at our feet and therefore miss the gracefulness of life?   Maybe it’s watching TV?  We watch others while we never pay attention to what is going on around us and where we are moving? Or we watch others do what we want, like “Dancing with the Stars.” It makes me happy that I can say I am learning tango instead of watching on the sidelines.  We are our own stars. File under undigested food for thought.

I was worried that E was going to give up the Tango lessons because she is so busy, but she too is getting hooked, and I ‘m glad because she looks great doing it.  She is starting to wonder if her boyfriend may be open to taking lessons too.  We talk a little about relationships and how nice it is to be in a committed one where you don’t have to worry about anyone becoming attracted to you, or you to them.  We are just here to enjoy the dance. Phew!  A relief. More fun, less complicated.

Speaking of relationships, Jim and the more advanced students start coming in the studio. There is a big poster on the table of Gabriela’s big tango gala weekend in October where she brings in  the best of the best from Argentina (Guillermo Salvat & Silvia Grynt), to teach workshops and then the big gala dance.  Jim wants to go to the dance. I am nervous and practically beg his current dance partner to sub in for me, as I am sure I will not be ready.  She seems as reticent as I am.  The thing about dances for dancers, unlike a bar, it is considered a no-no to refuse a dance with anyone.  If they ask you, you go. We are all nervous. I convince her that we will all go together and support each other.  I’m not sure she goes for it, but I would like to see her there dancing with Jim, especially since I know E won’t be there.  Funny how we used to sit around in gyms hoping the boys would ask us to dance, now here we are practically hoping they won’t, or at least, that we will be able to keep up when they do.  Life is a circle in so many ways.  Gotta laugh, gotta love it. 

Find out more about what Kathrin does to live a full life at: http://www.survivaltothrival.com/

Tango Lesson 3 – Getting the Cross – I am a Horse

Kathrin Lake, author of From Survival to Thrival documents her first Tango lessons inspired by Tim Ferriss’s book The 4 -Hour Workweek.

Tango Lesson 3

Last night was lesson number three and amazingly E and I are still being told we are Tango naturals. My LSE self (low self esteem self) has a sense of doom and tells me this cannot last, and at some point we are in for a great crash. Being one of those people who in gym class was always picked near last by team captains, I still have it in my head that I am uncoordinated. I face the fear of being found out every time I go to a dance class. My HSE self (figure it out) however, says, enjoy it, and enjoy the dance itself.  So I try to focus on that.

But the truth is, I attribute much of our progress to our teacher, Gabriela Rojo, who says,

“I’m not lying, you both pick up very fast.” She shouts across the room to the beyond beginners filing in, “Look at what they do after three lessons!”

I’m blushing. Please don’t build us up so much, Gabriela. We are getting semi private lessons which progresses a person much faster.

When I dance with Gabriela (all dance teachers must be able to lead and follow) she is a fabulous leader, but when I go to one of the men helping us I am less confident. Everyone has a different style of leading and the physical cues are not always the same or as clear. You must surrender to your partner’s style. Mental note: try to include this skill in my relationship with Jim. It also reminds me of horseback riding. No one can see the subtle cues that the rider gives to the horse to make it spring into a canter. In this case, I am the horse, and it is not the cue for a canter but the cue for a “cross.”

The “cross” belongs to the women and looks so classy and clever that it makes any woman into an instant goddess. It really makes the tango the tango. But the man must lead the cross. Gabriela shows me that when she is directly in front of me I will be lead into a cross, but slightly to the side and I cannot cross. However, with other partners I find it less obvious of when I cross and when I am just supposed to walk.  I get it right at least 75% of the time. When I misstep Gabriela makes a sound, “chh,chh,chh” that tells me I am not crossing when I should. It again reminds me of the clucking or verbal sounds a rider does to help their mount get their cues when they are less competent.

This also reminds me of another horse/human parallel. Dressage horses, the dancers of the equine world, reach their peak at 10, 11 or 12 years of age after intense training, and live to a ripe old age of 24 to 30.  Race horses, however, have finished their careers in year four and are often dead by the age of 12.  Likewise, they say that couples who do partner dancing are far, far, less likely to develop dementia as they age or Alzheimer’s. They also live longer, and are generally healthier.  Alzheimer’s runs in the female side of my family, and I’m terribly afraid of developing it; another reason for me to continue facing the fear every week.

Gabriela tells me that E does even better at getting the cross and is “very coordinated.” I agree.  With her Spanish-like dark looks, and long lean body, she looks stunning as she dances.

Tonight E and I were lead through an entire piece of tango music from basic steps, walks, crosses, both forward and backwards ochos, and another move which I don’t yet have the spelling for.  We are truly dancing. For the joy of that, I am happy.

Find out more about what Kathrin does to live a full life at: http://www.survivaltothrival.com/

Second Tango Lesson

Kathrin Lake, author of From Survival to Thrival documents her first Tango lessons inspired by Tim Ferriss’s book The 4 -Hour Workweek.

Tango lesson 2

Before my BF, “E” and I went for our second Tango lesson with Gabriela I watch Jim at his beyond beginner’s class.  I jot things down as I watch and the music of the tango seeps into my pen.  The tango couples seem more eloquent than I can live up to with mere words.  I am amazed at Jim’s progress and delighted (not jealous). I want to keep watching him dance with his dance partner. I just like being on the sidelines watching two pairs of legs in tandem. I did foolishly think that he may not be able to learn tango, but watching now I see that this is always his passion. Also, the music is part of the essential equation that I forgot to factor in.  It makes all things possible.  Even if you don’t love tango music you cannot help but be drawn into it. The dancers play a chess game. If I move like this, you move like that, but if I move like this, what possibilities will you give me? It’s a taunting, tantalizing bid to outdazzle each other and see who will crack first under the intensity, but neither ever do, or if one does they both lose, so they must not, for this is not a win-lose game, this is a dance and oh what a dance!tango

Gabriela corrects Jim in what I thought was a fluid motion.  He is bouncing in his quick step apparently. Though from the sidelines tango appears elegant and romantic, like our domestic life can be all maintenance, and both take practice and communication to perfect.  But when it works, it far transcends even the most blissful parts of our domestic lives.  It is that old saying of dance being a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Doubly so for tango. When I first met Jim he had an expression he readily shared, “if you can’t dance, there is no chance for romance.”

When E and I get started with Gabriela we start as all classes start, with the walking. Dramatic dragging of feet is intentionally alluring not lazy. Gabriela shouts to us,

“Your feet must make love to the floor.  That is the tango.”

She is impressed with our progress through the basic steps and decides to show us the Ocho.  “If you do not have your Ocho, you have learned nothing,” she says. In Spanish I know that Ocho means “eight” and indeed Ochos are figure eight like moves.  E and I pick up fast Gabriela says and we are finally given our first male dance partners to test our ability to follow a lead and practice.  This is always the fascinating challenge of couples dancing.  It is especially terrific practice for strong, independent women to learn to listen (with the body) and to not take charge. It is a great metaphor for communication that we don’t really always practice at home, but the principal outcome is the same, if you listen everything goes smoothly. But Ochos allow the woman to speak the language of seduction.  Gabriela is very impressed and my male partner who I have just met tonight asks me how long I have been dancing. When I tell him this is my second tango lesson he says, “Wow.”  My ego soars with this one syllable compliment. E and I sail out of our class thinking we are tango prodigies, but I also know better having taken other lessons.  There will be struggles. I also later realize that the thing that I found so soothing and suited to me about the tango was the slow, alluring pace.  So much less frantic than swing music. The music stays with me for hours after. I think I’m hooked.

Find out more about what Kathrin does to live a full life at: http://www.survivaltothrival.com/

Tango, seriously?

Okay, like many people I did read Tim Ferriss’s Book The 4-Hour Workweek; who wouldn’t with a title like that. This man competed internationally and won kickboxing championships (sort of in a sneaky way though), set a GWB record  for number of tango spins in a minute, and was the first American to compete in Tango in Argentina where they grow up learning it, all the while being a successful entrepreneur. Talk about live the life!

But what about the rest of us, you might say. I guess there is that old Nike slogan Just Do It, but I’ve never trusted it, so how about the universal spousal slogan Just Drag Them Into It. Most of the time you would see the husbands being dragged into dance lessons, but in my case I am hitched to a dancing fool. It is his passion. He dragged me into swing dancing which is a great deal of fun. But in the past year he has turned his rampant hunger for dance to the Tango. For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the hardest couples dances to master because of its precision. It hardly looks like, or feels like, the loose fun of swing dancing. 

Frankly, I was secretly hoping he would find it too challenging and give up. But he didn’t, he found a fantastic Argentinian-Canadian Tango teacher, Gabriela, in Vancouver, who just won a legacy award for keeping culture alive.  Suddenly, I noticed whenever we were swing dancing in a closed dance position he was wrapping his arm all the way around my back in the if-I got-any-closer-to-you-I’d-be-behind-you Tango embrace.  I was not so sure I liked the idea that he was learning this dance with other women.  He dragged me to a few workshops and as I suspected I would have to break many of my swing dance habits to learn this dance. Finally I yielded and signed up with Gabriella last week. Gabriella, the woman who on first meeting calls me “Kathrin, my darling” and continues to. She says not to worry “if you have two left feet, I will turn one into a right.” I had to sign up to beginner classes naturally, and Jim is in beyond beginner (that tells you how hard it is if you can’t even go from beginner to intermediate, after a year you just get bumped to beyond beginner). Therefore I was to face beginning alone! Or was I? There is that old slogan, Just Drag Them Into It, and so last week I persuaded my best friend to start Tango with me. It is the cycle of dragging them into it perpetuated. So, I will continue to blog my progress, my partner’s, and my best friend’s in this tango line we have created. I don’t expect to be doing international competitions any time soon, or ever, although Jim is already talking about going to Buenos Aires one day. I guess the point is that sometimes it is good to be dragged into things, and sometimes it is okay to drag others into things (for scaredy cat reasons). We do learn, grow and discover this way.  Or you can just watch people on TV or read books about them. Your choice. Here I go, two left feet and all.

Find out more about what Kathrin does to live a full life at: http://www.survivaltothrival.com/