Melinda Cochrane: Publications will be at Librairie Clio in Pointe Claire Quebec on Saturday, September 28th from 11 am to 2 pm, to launch her book Utterance as well as Inspired Heart For Teens, a collection of poetry by Canadian writers for a youth audience between the ages of 14-18.
50% of the proceeds from the sale of Utterance will be donated to the West Island Cancer Wellness Center. As a cancer survivor Melinda would like to continue to pay if forward with a book she wrote during her time with Thyroid Cancer.
Also in attendance, we are happy to have Chelsea Moran and Danielle Wong signing copies of their books One and Bubble Fusion. Both of these authors come to us by way of Melinda Cochrane Publications Inc. Other books from the company will also be available on this day.
We hope to see you there!
A lot of times we grow wary in our belief in dreams because of obstacles that seem to pop up when we least expect them to. They appear almost as if to conspire against you achieving your end goal. However, I think obstacles are part of life and yes, part of achieving anything. If you can see the obstacles as teachable you then can overcome them as well. Nothing in life comes without a lesson and when applied to any dream or goal they can actually clarify for you what it is you actually started out wanting to achieve. Along my writing dreams, I had many obstacles to overcome, but each in some small way helped me choose the path I wanted to take. I started out wanting to be a writer with no real sense of how that would happen. I blazed a trail for myself in that area but what happened along the way as well is that I began to see what it was that really inspired me to do so. Today I know it was to leave a legacy of books behind me, not just my own but other writers, my students, and yes, myself. I found a greater purpose in a passion for self fulfillment- it grew into a company with a purpose to bring other words to life. So rather than seeing obstacles as reasons to give up. see them as the lessons you need to learn to know which way to go on your dream path. Believe in the dream but allow the dream itself to experience growth. Growth is always an essential part of belief.
By Melinda Cochrane
Words like "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson make me think about how beautifully she used words to express exactly why we continue to hold onto the impossible and pursue our dreams.
If we don't dream then we forget what it means to live. Living is not only wisdom earned but also the joy of making things happen that never did before. If we stop dreaming then I believe we start dying slowly because we begin to see life as a comfortable level of survival rather than a cup filled with possible. If we see our time here as being filled with the possible of fulfilling a dream, no matter how big or how small then we continue to see our existence as something we can shape and continue to live. Our dreams allow us to see life beyond what it is in the present. Imagine yourself one day, sitting with a notebook and writing down every dream you let go and then on the other side all the dreams you made happen. Looking at the uncompleted dreams may bring you a sense that although you lived you didn't complete the ideas, and goals you had set for yourself. However, if you take the other page, and you see the dreams you brought to existence, you will feel as if those minutes of breath were used and not taken for granted. Try writing your list today, and see how far you've gotten with accomplishing your dreams. How many have you completed already? How much life have you filled with dream achieving? If anyone out there has stopped dreaming, maybe you should again. Maybe you just needed a reminder that you are still here to do so.
By Melinda Cochrane
One of the big questions I am asked consistently is where I get the time to have a full time career,to be a writer and to run a business.It started with how do you get time to write books and have a full time career but since my first book I've published several more in addition to beginning a company to help others in 2013 and now presently with Melinda Cochrane: Publications Inc. I tend to always answer, "well I don't watch television ever, and I don't lose any seconds in my day". But I thought perhaps offering some more practical time organization tips would help others understand how to go about writing books and running a business themselves in the same situation.
Here are some practical tips:
1. Do less work in more time. You can do this but doing small tasks immediately and setting the time to do so. Don't burn yourself out by taking everything on at once. If you know you have a project that has to be finished spend a few hours a week simply doing a small part of it until it is done. Focus during that time without allowing for distractions.
2. Write a list of things to be completed. Don't ignore anything on it but organize and prioritize what comes first.
3. Create a strong team. This is the key to success. A strong team will take some of the tasks away from you so that you can focus on the more important things. You need to delegate in order to be more productive and them step out of the way to allow others the time to do it. Don't be a leader that is looking over your teams shoulders to make sure it is done right, if you pick the right people to do the work- that is not necessary.
4. Don't allow anyone to use your time ineffectively. By this I mean avoid those who are not sincere about their interest in your company and books. They can take a lot of your time and at the end offer very little back in return as far as personal and business growth.
5. Set time aside for quiet and for you time. This will serve to keep your energy up and your health in check.
6. Always carry a pen and paper with you to write potential book ideas and business ideas down.
7. Create a calendar for your projects with deadline and release dates as well as appointments with clients.
8. Make sure you are with strong and supportive people who see your goals and do not try to deter you from your vision.
9. When doing your career- only do this. Leave your business activities for the hours outside of it. This creates a divide and allows you to be productive and effective in both areas.
10. Never, and this is perhaps the most important one. allow anyone to use negativity to take you off your vision or goal paths. Avoid them like you'd avoid the flu as it is both contagious and energy draining.
and last but not least, stay true to your passion as ultimately being a writer and business owner is about owning a small part of what happens in the world by creating something positive.
By Melinda Cochrane
As I approach a regular four month visit to check for tumour markers and to make sure all is well, I decided to be honest and real in hope to help others understand the ups and downs of having been diagnosed with Cancer and becoming a Cancer survivor.
The days before my appointment happen like this and for some it might be different ...
The possibility of cancer coming back weighs heavily on my mind prior to any appointment for results. I spend a lot of time trying to block it out but at times the fear creeps in with moments of anxiety before the day. The day before I avoid people as much as possible because if I hear someone complaining about something like gas prices I am afraid to say, “well it could be worse”. I don’t want to give negativity to anyone so I avoid this kind of small talk. I also take walks alone to get in touch with my spirituality. I spend time in quiet to calm myself so I don’t think of the worse and focus on the beauty in the world instead.
This week, I’ve woken up twice at 2 am with a feeling of restlessness, which I know now as simply being the worry I’ve blocked out gently waking me from my sleep telling me to deal with it and yes, if need be, cry about it. I am an introvert by nature so my way of coping is always in solitude and for this reason it is even more important to let those feelings out. I also go through dreams about various things, white halls, blue hospital gowns but only prior to the appointment. I now recognize this as simply a reminder of anxiety about the coming appointment. I also avoid long conversations during this week to build up my inner resolve to deal with what the results will be, just in case the news isn’t positive. I don’t really like anyone to go with me on this day as I am a little sullen and sometimes down right cranky. I don’t stay in this space for long but the week before is always one of mental preparation.
I am sharing this small part of my journey with Cancer in a hope that others will understand what it is like to survive Cancer and then to live with the possible within that 5 year survival rate. You keep seeing each day and each year as a blessing with the end goal being the race to 5 years. Now, for the most part, I try never to think about it, but these appointments also serve to be a reminder to stay vigilant. Everyone’s journey is very different, and I think this is the advice I want to leave you with as well.
When someone close to you has cancer, or has had Cancer, the most important thing you can do is not minimize the experience for them. It’s one of those life experiences that alter their perspectives forever. If they want solitude respect it, if they want to call you, listen, just let them experience their journey their way.
Here are some tips to help you be there for a Cancer survivor:
So today, after writing this, I can honestly say that as I approach another appointment, I may not be calm about it, but I am at peace with knowing that no matter what happens, I spoke my truths about it to help others understand, which gives me a purpose for my journey.
If you know a Cancer survivor or anyone going through Cancer, call them, and tell them you are there and ask them what they need.
By Melinda Cochrane
If you are a survivor and have something you'd like to share, send me an email through my contact form.
Why Do I Love to Write?
I was asked recently, "Why do you love writing?" I kept coming up with how I came to write. There were so many factors that led me to write. However, how I came to write is not the same thing as why I love doing something that I do.
The simplest answer is: Creating is what brings me joy and what soothes me. When I create something, I feel relaxed, yet exhausted, and refreshed, yet worn out. I guess you could say it is like runners. The more they run, the more they want to run; they are exhausted, but feel fantastic.
Poems give me freedom. I can take what I have been bottling up inside me and set it free. Poems are a photograph of what I see, a snapshot of my experiences, a rant of what is picking at my bones. When I read them over, I find poems that are great stories, and poems that can help others feel better or less alone. Those are the poems I set free to the world.
Stories are curious. I take a passing moment and add to it, one plausible situation after another. Sometimes, it ends with a twist, like in "Medusa is not My Name". Sometimes, it hangs, like in "Vacation in Bath". Other times, I just is what it is, like in "Suit and Tie". Stories fulfill my need to answer "What if?" to every possible situation.
Then again, stories are fun. I create characters and talk about them with my friends and family. When they start asking me questions about the characters as if they were real, I can't help but let my eyes twinkle brightly and smile to myself. To pull people into my imagination and hang out with them there, even for just a few minutes at a time, makes me skip merrily around inside my heart. You can't imagine how nice it is to have company when your mind is in a non-existent world. I can't really explain it any other way.
Some characters have been around in my head for years. My imagination sees them standing there, arms crossed, tapping their feet because it has been quite a long time since last I wrote about them. Guilt does wash over me for this.
The best part is that some of my friends are asking about those very characters. "How is Cheyenne these days, anyway?" and "What is Ronald Rooscht up to?" are questions I have been asked lately. I wince and tell my friends, yes, I have to get back to them. Then I realize there is another character, nameless since birth, who gives me thin lips and thin eyes; he has a lot to tell to, in his own way. What's missing in my life is the time to work with all of them.
Writing is the medicine that makes me cry and laugh and stress me out, like a runner who doesn't know how he'll finish that even longer marathon. I feel compelled to share its results with as many people as possible these days.
Short Story Sources
“My Name Is Not Medusa,” The Way Through: A Collection of Canadian Poetry. Ed. Rachelle McCallum. Polar Expressions Publishing, 2018.
“Vacation in Bath,” Wherever We Roam, A Collection of New Canadian Short Stories. Ed. Rachelle McCallum. Polar Expressions Publishing, 2015.
“Suit and Tie,” That Golden Summer, A Collection of New Canadian Short Stories. Ed. Rachelle McCallum. Polar Expressions Publishing, 2014.
Photo Credit: Danielle Wong
End to Begin
Dreams melt and drip down dark drains
Sprigs sprout in the spring
Photo Credit: Danielle Wong
It has been almost five years, since my husband and I have been married. Not one day has been easy because we are definitely two people from two different worlds. I have learned to appreciate his unrefined ways and laid back attitude on most days. But other days leave me feeling like I need to buy him a pair of glasses so he can start seeing things my way, I laugh on our strong days because I can’t imagine how he has modified his concept of life and love in respect of me. Overall, The Jacksons have a good thing, and like every good thing, we are a work in progress.
This is both our second marriages, so we approach the things that challenge us with experience, strength, and courage. For me, I have had to adjust my mindset about our relationship and what it means to be married. While some other women may complain about having unfaithful husbands, outside children, or abuse, I am fortunate not to. Therefore, when issues surface that work my nerves, I really have to use the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is supposed to be this theory of accepting that 20% shortcoming because you have 80% of all that you need. But sometimes, I get conflicted because the Transformational Coach in me sees it as an opportunity for growth.
Using that 80/20 rule has helped a lot. But there are other, more quality methods of building yourself as an individual and as a couple. For The Jacksons, we have been blessed to have parents that were great examples. We often discuss our parents and do a compare and contrast of their marriages to ours. It is important to recognize that we are a different generation and are different people. We also have been blessed to have other couples, like us who are committed to having a successful and happy marriage. The most impactful thing that has supported my husband and I, are YouTube videos and books. Videos by Bishop TD Jakes, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Eric Thomas, Joyce Myers and many more have supported us. Books by Dr. Myles Monroe, Stormie Omartian, and others have provided the most applicable tools for us.
The Jacksons do not have everything right. But what we do have right is our level of love and commitment to each other. Our goal is to encourage other couples and singles through our transparency. Our goal is to not be perfect but practicing. Our goal is to let the world know, that happy and whole, marriages still matters.
Every now and then I’m darted by these pangs of regret for relinquishing a hero’s pedestal, a special sense of purpose that could only be found in the trenches of my past position.
These days, I’m a citizen of the literary world, shoehorned into an “affordable” bachelor apartment bulging with more books, biographies, and bibliographies than my mind will ever fully retain. When I’m not dabbling in the works of others - or in some cases, editing them - I’m usually crafting my own. It’s an upside-down existence that leaves me feeling very academic and intellectual. But truth be told, my life is an ongoing exercise in absent-minded clumsiness, from blurting out questions in first-grade class that pertained to a lesson from weeks earlier, to walking flush into a pole while gawking at some long-lost hottie at a Halifax bus stop not that long ago, much to the delight of other assorted hotties and filter-less children. The good grades I achieved through school were the direct by-product of no social life, and therefore nothing better to do but study and memorize. There was one escape route however; before literature had truly come to capture my imagination - and fate had finally decided that I had suffered long enough to be paired up with a muse of my own - there was hockey.
Of course, not all you who are reading along (especially outside of Canada) will be hockey fans, and may therefore be questioning the merits of reading further. I should point out here that I intend, not to look at hockey, but rather zoom in on the particular psychology and habits of one position, the goaltender, and from there, widen that focus to encompass a kind of character study that transcends mere sport in a way that maybe no other role in no other game does. I had spent the majority of my living years playing this position in some incarnation of the game, be it on ice, a frozen pond, a basement floor, or in a gymnasium. A few years ago, health considerations finally forced me to “hang up the pads,” as hockey-minded people would say. The goalie life began at age eight and flowered during my high school years (nothing better to do) when my brain wasn’t yet mature enough to note the idiosyncratic connections between the position and my general psyche. In other words, I knew it was what I wanted to be, but wasn’t consciously aware of the reasons why. Now, at age forty-one, with a greater sense of introspection – albeit with no withdrawal of clumsiness whatsoever – I can see the correlation that wasn’t so evident to me at the time of playing. Moreover, I’ve come to see how goal tending may have fueled my desire to write. Here’s hoping that the latter point will gradually unravel itself in the anecdotes I offer as I go along. In any event I promise to bring the parallel of the title full-circle by the end.
Remember the “hero’s pedestal” I mentioned at the opening? A pedestal may be defined as a bottom support or foundation for something bigger, like a monument. That is essentially what goaltenders must be: foundations for their respective teams, or the monuments if you will. “Goalies,” more than any other player, will determine whether their team flourishes or crumbles with time. They also aren’t likely to receive a whole lot of attention unless the latter occurs. When a team wins, the goal scorer is generally the hero. In cartoon terms, goaltenders are basically the Penny and Brain to the goal scorer’s Inspector Gadget: the earnest sidekicks that work behind the scenes to solve the problem, after which the credit will be allotted to the bumbling scene stealer that falls into the solution.
Not that it mattered to me as a goalie; even though I wasn’t always aware of why I enjoyed doing it, I was certainly aware of the fact that it was a self-serving position in a team game. And I was certainly of the mindset that embraced that reality…at least while waiting for something better to do. Those who accept the position must also accept the realities of being treated differently than the rest of the team, looking different than the rest of the team, and being looked upon in a different way than the rest of the team. For whatever reason, I accepted all of those, probably because I was the unpopular social outcast on every team I was a part of, and relished knowing that the fate of those so-called teammates often came down to me. I was a solitary person playing the sole solitary position in a team game, wearing “the tools of ignorance” (hockey slang for goalie equipment) like another layer of skin as opposed to a suit of armor.
The notion of goalies as a “separate species” is best demonstrated by non-hockey fans. They may not be able to distinguish between a center man and a left-winger, but they all know and recognize the goalie. This is a mentality that carries over into other sports as well. I personally don’t know the names of any soccer/football positions, but I know that every team has a goalkeeper. It’s a position that carries with it its own distinct set of responsibilities within a team and a game.
The goaltender is often referred to as a team’s “last line of defense,” and that’s as accurate a label as there is. Consider the word defense; it carries immediate military connotations. Without knowing a great deal about the game, one may see how tending goal is a lot like being in the line of fire. And the more hockey I played, and the more physically-oriented it became as I got older, it occurred to me that goal tending, in many ways, approximated war. I liked to refer to it as recreational warfare. To this day, I’m pretty confident that many of my net minding cohorts view our position the same way.
So, why would that sense of combat not be as apparent to all other players on the ice? Is it not those players (simply referred to as “skaters”) who conduct the flow of the game, giving and taking physical punishment in the process? Yes, absolutely. But when I was playing goal, I was ever conscious of my claim to a specific patch of territory on the ice surface: the goal crease. It was my duty to protect and fight for the preservation of that territory. Ask any goalie and I’m sure they would tell you that there is a certain sense of pride that comes with being the only player on the ice to have that kind of territorial right. The skaters are nomads working in a state of constant flux.
I think I would have to write a novel (okay, maybe just a novella) to cover all of the connections I wish to demonstrate between war and goal tending. I haven’t noted how the goalies from the 1970's onward wore painted masks sporting everything from team logos to roaring lions, and how this probably served as their psychological warpaint. I haven’t noted that the goalie wears between 25 and 40 pounds of equipment (depending on their size and the brand of equipment they use), clearly making them look at though they’re braced for some kind of battle. I haven’t extended the war analogy to the point that it is the goalie’s duty to spend the duration of the game pitting themselves against cold, rapid, vulcanized rubber bullets. But I must move forward in my assessment of that time in my life in order to draw the parallel that ultimately inspired me to write this piece.
So what kinds of people willingly subject themselves to the humbling conditions that goal tending entails? In light of the points I’ve presented thus far, I would say: people with a zest for responsibility, people who wish to control their own destinies, people who don’t need to be told by others that they have done a good or bad job, and people who like to observe what goes on around them.
With the latter criterion in mind, I will now return the onus to my current position, writing, and account for its prominence in the beginning of a piece that would appear to be more about one particular element of one particular sport. In writing this, I wished not only to explore and detail the rigors of goal tending, but to discover how I was able to bid farewell to a place in the sporting environment and subsequently find a new one in the literary environment. After all, they are two areas with seemingly little in common…except for the need to observe. I consider it no coincidence that many of Canada’s most acclaimed and poetic songwriters – Gord Downie, Jim Cuddy, Alan Doyle – were goaltenders at a competitive level in their youth. On the flipside, the consensus two greatest goalies of the 70s would become acclaimed writers and national icons in their respective countries when their playing days concluded. They were the rival net minders in hockey’s epochal “Summit Series” of 1972, between Canada and the Soviet Union. In Canada’s goal
was Ken Dryden, the backbone of the Montreal Canadiens juggernaut that won six Stanley Cups in the decade; on the Soviet side was Vladislav Tretiak, a ten-time world hockey champion and Russia’s Minister of Sport at the time of this writing. Dryden pursued a Law degree while capturing all of those Cups, and has authored several books since, the first of those being The Game, widely considered to be the greatest sports book ever written. As for Tretiak, he has cited goal tending as “the noblest position in all of sport.” Noble, defiant, observant, enigmatic, and strangely charismatic; goaltenders are all of these things at different times on different levels. So are poets and writers.
Even without my aforementioned health issues, evolving time constraints would have likely rendered a balance between the two passions impossible by now, but the goalie’s instincts have never left me. In fact, I would say they are as powerful as ever in my current environment. As a goalie, I learned to observe and analyze the action that was unfolding before me, and process a plan of reaction unique to my playing style, or nowadays, my literary voice. From there, I learned to make metaphors, and in the case of this piece, compare my own predicament to that of war, which the world of literature can often feel like for writers and publishers, all battling for the inner and outer peace of crafting their voices and accumulating audiences, respectively. I ultimately developed aspirations of being able to convey the wonders of observation on paper. The last line of defense was the first line of my life’s most climactic chapter.
On walking through the stacks of books in ordered rows,
For seven days, no more, no less, to move some mind,
Of thoughts in rows and racks awaiting those
Exciting days of freedom from the aisle's shut blind,
I stand and wonder waxlike whence my wicklife glows.
Is there a shelf somewhere reserved for me I'll find
All lined with rows and racks of lives come to a close
And Dewey signed to fit a row, to fit a kind?
This is shelf, is stacks - this loan of seven shadows
Ends in sunlight past the bright and glowing pillage,
Open books reflecting thought in golden billows;
Glowing fire, this wick the wax will turn to Life's page.
Loan oh a love like a bird on the wing which goes
Soaring this library bearing the burning age.
The Dalhousie Review, Volume 52, Number 4, Winter 1972-1973
Agapé: Heaven & Earth (Dark Matter Press, 2015)