New Headspaces

YVR Haida Art - Vancouver Intl Airport

For the last few weeks, my mind has been suspended like a helium balloon, vicariously grounded to earth by a single, tenuous string. The feeling has presented itself as fractured language (still switching back to English), unfinished thoughts, a diminished perception of time (I blame being unemployed), and an inability to look forward. This is really rare for me. I love my headspaces, and journeying through all the possibilities open to me at any given moment. But even now, as I write this post, I find my rhythm off, and my attention truncated every few minutes.

Lately it’s been like trudging through wet cement to get my mind to function. Hours pass by like mayflies, and before I know it, whole days and weeks have folded up like accordion files, unproductive and unused. Time’s lost meaning because I don’t have a schedule, and while I’m not depressed, I’m also not motivated.

I think a lot of that comes from the move. When I moved to Japan, I was adequately prepared. I didn’t experience culture shock as a result, and could just pinball my way through the cities I was in, eager and curious about every little thing. Japan is like that: a hyper,  186 miles-a-minute bullet train of stimuli. Turn your head, and there’s another thing to experience. I took over 800 photos my first two weeks in Japan.

I’ve taken about a dozen since coming to Vancouver.

It’s not because Vancouver is bad or boring. Far from it. But Vancouver, ironically, is forcing me to slow down. My world is limited by my location, circumstance, and the long summer wait until grad school. In the long run, this is probably good for me. My attention span has gotten shorter and shorter over the years, from reading 1,000 page novels to skimming online essays to get the “gist.”

I don’t think my brain wants to do that anymore.

That little tenuous string holding my headspace to earth may actually be the problem. Every little change in the wind or weather and my whole head bobbles, rather than floating free into the heart of it. Thinking of just letting myself spend the time my brain wants to on what it wants to reminds me of my childhood. Daydreaming; forever lost in thought.

Slowly but surely, BC is starting to show me its true colors. I’m enjoying the slow reveal, unhampered by a schedule or a need to get the next thing done. Since coming to Canada, I’ve only done a few things…. but all of them were important.

I explored my neighborhood.

I have the great fortune to live only a couple minutes from Deer Lake in BC. There’s a beautiful, 4.5-mile trail there for joggers and the like, and it’s been a great way to wake up every morning. Just today NJ and I ran across a massive bullfrog right off the trail, but there are also some deer and Canadian geese aplenty.

I signed up with NetGalley to begin ARC reading.

I’ve missed being able to read on the fly (not having to order books and wait several weeks to get them with a hefty shipping fee). Now that I’m 35 minutes from a Chapters, I’m finding I don’t even know all the new authors out there…. I’m going to change all that. In addition to my weekly slush reading at Fantasy Scroll Mag, I’m going to try and build my Instagram platform (@AlexHurstAuthor) and my Goodreads (@Alex Hurst) with recent titles, and being an ARC reader is going to help me with that.

Here’s the first two publishers sent to me:

I visited my campus.

Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver campus is beautiful. It’s connected to the Harbour Centre and just opposite Waterfront Station, and I just can’t believe I’m finally going to be going to school and studying in a pretty building. During my undergrad, UC Berkeley stuck me in Dwinelle pretty much exclusively, so I never got to know the rest of the campus. This time, I’ll get to go to school with pride.

I developed a workshop for writers over the summer.

Since I figured I have a ton of time over the next few months, I decided to create a workshop for Authors who want to learn how to use I expected some interest in Fiction Writers, but the first workshop filled up so fast (20 minutes!) that I was compelled to make another group, and then another. Currently, I have 75 people all signed up to take my workshop, and a couple more on the waiting list, and I’m just stunned. One of the reasons I haven’t posted until now is I’ve been fighting a slow internet connection while making all the video materials for the class. But, I’m basically done now, and I’m eager to see what kinds of blogs all of the participants will make. If all goes well, I’ll have some new blogs to feature for my blogging buddies to follow. 🙃


I celebrated my 7th anniversary with NJ.

Hard to believe it’s been so long, now, but not much has changed since my last anniversary post, except we are still very much in love, and the puppy part of it has never really gone away. The only difference this year is that we both forgot it was the date. Facebook had to remind both of us; on the plus side, that meant I didn’t have to feel guilty for forgetting. Remember, time has become fairly relative for me lately…

We went to De Dutch for a late anniversary breakfast. Able to eat hollandaise sauce again was a pretty big treat.


How has May been for you? What are you looking forward to this summer?

32 thoughts on “New Headspaces

  1. Those pictures and wonderful. And I get that changed pace but looking at it positively, you have to chance to bring Vancouver to your readers now.
    Congrats on your 7th. That breakfast place looks delicious.

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    1. It was so tasty! A nice break from the stuff we’ve been eating lately…. but it’s so good to see you! And yeah, I’m excited to “crack open” Vancouver and see what she has to show. 🙂

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        1. Yeah, when you switch to self-hosted, a lot of stuff changes…. like the RSS feed. So I had your old RSS, but not the new one. 🙂 Thanks for visiting me so I could find you again!

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  2. Slowing down is also what I’ve experienced too in the last two weeks of May. My steady and non-writing related work is fulfilling and as soon as I acknowledged that, the stress that I have to write and finish and publish a book last week, last month, last year, last whatever started dissipating. That was a revelation for me and a realisation just how stressed I have been all this time. I’m slowing down because it’s necessary; I wasn’t taking care of myself and as a result, everything suffered: my day work, my mental and physical health, and of course my writing.

    What I’m looking forward to the summer is being creative without stressing over it but rather enjoying the process. I also want to start an Instagram account and use more my Goodreads account. Also, start blogging again.

    Vancouver looks beautiful, and your university looks absolutely amazing. I hope you have a fabulous time during your studies. And congratulations for the seventh anniversary. I hope you celebrate together many more.

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    1. That’s great to hear, Aura! I saw that you haven’t updated your blog in a while, but hopefully your writing will sing write from your fingers when you get back to it. 🙂 I’m finding that the slowness is allowing my well of creativity to finally refill… and little urges for writing are returning. I’m hoping to get a huge dent put into one of my projects this summer, while I have all of this time!

      I do hope your mental and physical difficulties aren’t too bad… I know how that can be, and recovering from a mental down can be pretty slow-going, like molasses.

      Let’s both spend some time this summer simply soaking in the writing, and I hope to see more of your stuff in the coming months.

      Thanks for everything else!

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  3. Leaving a place like Japan and going to Vancouver sounds like leaving London and going to Norfolk. The brain is still buzzing, and needs time to recover. Give yourself time. You sound like you’re doing great. 🙂

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    1. Definitely. I think it’s easier to speed up than slow down (sort of like dieting, haha.) But, I’ll get there. In the meantime, I’ll just watch the goslings mature, and try to get some writing done. 🙂 And reading. Oh, so many books. It is making me so happy.

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  4. I’m also experiencing a slowdown of sorts, too, but a different kind. I’m going through a bunch of life / schedule changes all at once (one of them being my writing schedule, to allow 60 to 90 minutes of editing on weeknights). None of them are for the worse, but they’re all happening at once. So it’s been a struggle to adjust to the changes and limit my activities / chores at night so I’m getting enough sleep. I think I’ve found some solutions, though… and one of them is something I’m planning to talk about at the blog next week. (Hint: I think it’s time to slow down my blogging schedule… )

    I can definitely see how moving internationally and adjusting to a new life / schedule in Vancouver may have thrown you off. (Having no job can wreck havoc on one’s sense of routine, too.) But like you said, you’ve got this summer, so give yourself this time to be patient and find a new rhythm.

    Happy anniversary to you & NJ! And mmmmmm, breakfast potatoes. I hope they were yummy! 🙂

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    1. Liking everything but the comment about your blogging schedule… as long as you’re not going away entirely. Too many of my favorite bloggers are no longer active and it makes me sad. 😦

      I can understand the schedules thing. My body hasn’t been happy with the 7am, 4-mile hikes I’ve been putting it through, but *shrug*…. I have some weight to lose from my time in Japan. 😛

      Also, now that I’m in Canada, I can send you the Houji-cha! Would you like me to translate the steeping directions, or can you figure it out?

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      1. Oh no, I’m not going away! 😉 I just can’t keep up anymore with the pace I’d had for so long, so I’m going to post less frequently. I’ll explain it more in my post on the 31st.

        If the steeping directions are in Japanese, then yes, a translation would be very much appreciated!

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    1. That’s definitely part of it. It’s sort of like operating on one frequency, and then changing to another. It takes time to adjust, and maybe I’m just resisting that change a bit. 😉


  5. Well, you said you were slowing down but developing a whole workshop sounds quite impressive to me! Congratulations on 7 years – there’s nothing like having a soulmate, is there?

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    1. Hahaha…. yeah…. on day three of having nothing “to do,” as in, things with responsibility, I sorta approached the other admins in my group and was like “I wanna develop a free workshop. That cool?” And they said yes, so…. there I am. NJ always says I have a way of keeping myself busy even when I don’t need to be. I guess she’s right.

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  6. ** waves from the East** … (further along the Fraser Valley) … how are you liking these last couple of days of summer weather? 😀 … and no, it doesn’t rain all the time in Vancouver, it just feels like it right now. 🙂

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    1. It actually hasn’t rained all that much since I got here! I think we’ve had two days of rain in the last five weeks. XD When it has rained, it’s been really soothing. I used to live in Louisiana, so the stormy weather makes me smile.

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  7. Well, Alex, I do think this is actually good for you. I tend to think that change is always good, even if we don’t see it when the change is happening. So, just go on and enjoy what you have in this moment, and if it means slowing down, well, just slow down 😉

    Congratulation of the 7 years.
    And congratulation on the success of your blogging course. Now I’m curious abotu it 😉

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    1. I’m definitely slowing down! My email inboxes have never been so backed up. 😛 The blogging course starts next week…. excited to see how it plays out. 🙂

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  8. Oh my gosh, Alex–I feel like my headspace is like this all the time! Especially the cement description. I don’t like it either, and my friend and I have been both practicing and teaching meditation workshops to help creative people in that kind of slump/slog. It helps, but I’m not very disciplined about meditating daily. But, my real point for commenting is this: YOU ARE DOING SO MUCH!!! I’m sure it’s hard for you to see, but as someone who knows you only online, I lose count when I try to list all that you’re doing right now. You’re incredibly creative and motivated (even if you don’t feel like it at the moment), and I wonder if this slump time is really your vivid brain taking a breather before school starts. Your work and “pluck” are incredibly inspiring. I say: put your feet up, take a break, and replenish your reserves.

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    1. Trista! So good to hear from you! ^_^ How are the coloring books going? Thank you for the comment. I kinda realized after I posted this that I’m doing a lot… but it’s also in lieu of a real, paying job…. so I think part of me doesn’t want to lose momentum, or I’ll be a sloth before school starts, haha.

      I’m finding that a small walk every morning has really been helping. I walk about four miles in an hour around 7am… see the fresh new day, and then come home and get to work. The most important thing for me right now is fostering my creative muse for writing again, though… so getting back into the swing of blogging is the first step. I think I’m getting there, finally, thankfully! Of course getting a manuscript consultation really helped, too. A local library was offering them for a Spring Festival of Learning or some such thing, and I was able to hear from a non-biased source how my MS fares. It helped put some confidence back in me. 🙂

      I hope your workshops are going well, too. They sound super fun.


  9. As unfocused as the past month has felt to you, from what you’ve described it seems you’ve in fact been very busy. I call it “percolating” time … a time when everything is left vague and unscripted which allows the next steps to develop and solidify.

    Enjoy this time!

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    1. That’s a great word for it! Percolating! ^-^ Makes me happy to say it, haha. I’m excited to see where the summer goes…. I haven’t had a summer off since high school…. it’s going to be an experience!

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      1. I’m jealous of you planning to head back to school in the fall!! That’s exciting!
        Hope you get to savour every minute of the summer and stack up mountains of memories in the process 🙂

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        1. Yes, I am very excited! I’m going to try…. I’m actually at the end of my to-do list, except for weekly stuff, so I’m pretty stoked. Who knows what I’ll be inspired to do with no deadlines around me. 😉

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  10. Well, I probably don’t have anything new to say about this and my brain actually sort of feels like mush at the moment, so I’m not going to try to think of something.
    But exploring is always good.


  11. Interesting how Vancouver is slowing you down..less photos?? Ok. 🙂 It is raining right now, isn’t it?

    Congrats. on those workshops. Excellent, Alex! You might want to organize informally a coffee get together after course is over. Have a blog piñata…by smashing language, stereotypes, play with words into new patterns.

    May was fine..our Calgary winter was quite mild. Lots more local cyclists which is a good thing for us.

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    1. Yeah, part of it is I don’t have the funds to go traveling around at the moment, so I’m limited by what is free and is in Burnaby. It wasn’t raining until last week, though, so I can’t complain. I’ve just been trying to find my equilibrium before rushing out to explore, I suppose. 🙂 I’ll get there, I’m sure.

      I wish I could do a party like that! I really need to look into local writer groups so I can make some connections that aren’t just on Facebook. 🙂

      Glad to hear your summer is off to a good start!

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