The Nerve!

Hello again from Home!


A good friend once told me, “The thing, the greatest thing, is not to lose your nerve.” Those words have been swirling around among the gumballs in my cranium lately. More about that later.


This has been a strange summer. We received a plethora of invitations to very cool social events but, due to budgetary and time constraints, were forced to limit ourselves to a mere handful. There were birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, parties and wilderness outings galore, it seemed everyone had some sort of landmark occasion to celebrate this year.


In future, we kindly request that our friends and family please space out these events more evenly. I mean, does it really matter if you hold your 25th wedding anniversary 11 months late? Technically, you’re still in the 25th year of marriage; try not to get hung up on details.


We missed all of Martha and Patty-Cake’s big events – 35th anniversary, daughter Meg’s wedding, Patty-Cakes’s 60th B-Day – so, to compensate, we let them have us stay in their house and feed us…and then we got very drunk with them. Win win.


Not missed was the big river float extravaganza with All-in Jim and Miss Sue. Even Sheba, Dancing Queen of the Dessert, made it to that one. CB’s 50th B-day was another party we made it to, (scene of the aforementioned “getting drunk”). We made the long and winding journey to our old home, Ukee, for some salmon fishing action with the Ripsters and Lutz’s. Tim Rippel, 46lb Chinook salmon, ‘nuff said? (Thanks Brenda & Murray!) And we were honoured to attend “Wedding Fest 2010” on Hornby Island, where our Aitutaki friends/guests, Willow and Joe, tied the knot between Canada and New Zealand, (and each other), in the forest. It definitely made our “Top Five Weddings of All Time” list (didn’t know we had one of those, did you?) and was fun as.

Floating the Kettle River with Miss Sue…


Me and Prez with Miss Sue & All-in Jim…

On the road to “getting drunk” at CB’s 50th…

Ripster, Prez and Wally…

The boys bonk some slabs…

Hanging out on Horny Island…

Willow and Joe aka the soon-to-be-marrieds…

Now, there are lots of stories I could share with you about all of these events and many smaller festivities, (and many stories…um…I just wouldn’t share because…um…well…Sheba…alcohol…etc) but I’m going to focus on the Kiwi/Canuck wedding for a moment.


The bride, Willow, has a very musical family. Every member of the Madill clan sings and/or plays an instrument of some sort. It was only fitting, therefore, that part of the three-day celebration (held on 10 acres of family land that is mostly untouched) included several musical performances.


The first night was an “open stage”, where anyone was welcome to come up and do, well anything. There was music, there were speeches, there was comedy, there was…um…a ‘dueling flashlights up the nose’ act that really has to be seen to be appreciated, and it was all fantastic. Some of the performers were experienced and comfortable on stage in front of a crowd, some were on stage for the first time, but everyone came in the spirit of love and the result was better than any polished, Broadway production going.

The Stage…

The crowd enjoys the big show…


What struck me about the open stage performance was how willing people were to swallow their fears, (and, in some cases, their pride and good taste – see: “dueling flashlights up the nose” act), to be part of the celebration.


Did you know that ‘public speaking’ is people’s #1 fear? I heard a comedian once joke that since people were more afraid of that than of death, it stood to reason that at a funeral we would rather be the guy in the coffin than the guy making a speech about the guy in the coffin.


And yet, I watched with glee as one person after another hopped up on stage to strut their stuff as a gift to Joe and Willow. Even Joe conquered his butterflies to sing a lovely song with his future father-in-law accompanying him on guitar. Joe, as it turned out, soon discovered the narcotic qualities of stage life and we were dragging him off by the hook at the end of the night. (OK, slight exaggeration there, but he did close out the show – rock on you crazy Beastie Boy!)


It is amazing how we can find the nerve to do the things that scare us, when we are properly motivated. There were some wickedly talented musicians on that stage – Willow’s dad, Greg, is an extraordinary songwriter, singer and musician and her brother, Jevan, appears destined to follow in his footsteps – and in a different time and place that might have been enough intimidation to keep away anyone who didn’t feel their talent was up to snuff. But there is a vibe to Joe and Willow, (in Hollywood they are known as Jillo), that lets you know, almost instantly, that it really is the thought, not the gift, that counts. And I have a feeling that those guests who worked up the nerve to share their talents with the crowd knew how much it meant to the bride and groom, and to all of us.


For our part, in case you’re wondering, our talent happened on the BBQ, in the form of several large and tasty salmon. I had planned on setting Prez on fire and having him fall from a tree but, alas, it was late summer and Hornby Island had a strict “no burning” policy in effect. Maybe next time.

Prez…he don’t know music but he do know fish!


However, if their guests found the nerve to sing and dance and stick flashlights up their noses, perhaps it was because Joe and Willow inspired them with some nerve of their own.


He’s a Kiwi, she’s a Canuck. The meeting story is long and funny and I can’t do it justice but suffice it to say that their coming together involved some giant leaps of both faith and distance. Their “Antipodean Love” (great song Lorena!) spanned across the equator and several thousand miles. Giving your heart to another is scary at the best of times but when it involves uprooting, leaving all your friends and family to start a new life, in a new country, and a new hemisphere, with someone you barely know, well, that’s a whole other level of nerve.


For several years now, Willow has been living on Joe’s turf, eating Tim Tams and learning not to finish her similes, and together they have been happy as. But six weeks prior to I Do Day, they packed up their windy Wellington life and headed back to the top half of the world to start their lives as Mr and Mrs anew, in the land of tall trees and waiters that expect tips.


I couldn’t help thinking, as I watched Joe and Willow spend time with their Kiwi friends and Joe’s family, especially his parents Jude and Hank, who would soon return to New Zealand, how this was indeed the Big Day, another leap of faith and distance.


Pretty much everything about this wedding was unconventional – the door leading to the hallway in the woods, family portraits and a chandelier hung from trees, the song sung by the guests to call the bride and groom to the ‘cathedral’ (a tranquil clearing in the forest), the giant paper flowers carried by the bridesmaids and the cathedral pews (stumps with fancy cushions on top) – and shouted loud the personality of the bride and groom. More than a ceremony, this was a work of art. The enormity of planning and realizing such a big event, in what were somewhat ‘primitive’ conditions (see: hand pumped well water), required a huge amount of nerve.


I was inspired.


So what does this all have to do with me?

Two days ago I emailed Book One of the novel to an editor. A very talented editor, I should add. She and her assistant are going to do a structural critique of the manuscript and then it will be up to me to fix what needs fixing before, fingers crossed, I send it out to find a home.


I am very nervous.


First, there is the usual nervousness. “What am I thinking?? I can’t write!! Who am I kidding??! However, like Russell Crowe’s character in “A Beautiful Mind”, those voices are just annoyances I’ve learned to ignore. The other nervousness, the more crippling nervousness, stems from the content of the story. Some of it is…unconventional. Specifically, the relationship between the two protagonists. There are elements that, well, might be shocking to a lot of folks. These elements are important to the story and I fought myself at every turn to keep from editing them out. But now that the story is off to be read by objective eyes, the second-guessing has begun in earnest. Sure, I know that stuff is important but will anyone else ‘get it’?


Oh Cod, what will my editor, who also happens to be a member of my writing group, think of me now?!


Then I think of all the wonderful and inspirational people in my life, people who take risks and step far outside of their comfort zones for what they love. Or who they love. I remember that there is a time to take that leap, to step up on stage and put it out there, no matter how much your knees knock together.


And I remember that the thing, the greatest thing, is not to lose your nerve.


Until next time, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The Princess



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