BJWPost

So you want to be a writer? by Charles Bukowski

Feb
07

Yes. Dreadful. Painful. Personally malicious. Yes. Yes I want to be a writer. No, I AM a writer. I can’t stop myself. I find myself these days staying up late at night, into the early hours of the morning writing, rewriting, thinking, plotting, smoking cigars drinking too much wine but yet I am and doing it all over again because, yes it is bursting out of me for the first time in years. With red, blurry, puffy eyes I sit in front of my glowing screen to write what’s been locked away, screaming to get out because I can no longer contain it. And thank you Charles Bukowski for giving me permission to lose hours of sleep for something I’ll never make millions of dollars for but doing something that I absolutely love. Something I can’t stop myself from doing anymore, happily I will never be one of the 40,000 (male or not) you so eloquently and indelibly etched upon me many years ago.

~BjW

Simply

May
03

Yesterday I had two inspirational experiences. I’ve been questioning my path and direction a lot lately. I guess I’m not happy or content with my career’s path at the moment.

I’m a journalist, a writer, and insecurity and emotional turmoil are de ri·gueur, however these feelings have been more annoying than usual.

I met the most lovely man, Zang Toi, a couture fashion designer whom I interviewed for his trunk show at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Let’s be clear here, I am not a fashionable person, nor a fashion journalist for that matter. But I LOVE clothes, always have, even when I was little. And more than that I really LOVE people ~ I also adore learning about them (sociologist minor here).

As I listened to him, as I watched him talk about his beautiful clothes, I was struck by his spirit. He was warm, engaging, friendly and not an air of hautiness?? He too loved what he was doing. He talked to everyone. He smiled at everyone.

This warm, happy man, the seventh child who grew up helping out in his father’s Malaysian grocery store, was humble. Toi was grateful to his family, his clients and his fortune.

When I asked him what inspired him, he
said simply; beauty.

So eloquently, in his heavily accented English, he said it is his place in life to make women feel beautiful. To make beautiful clothes for women so they feel good.

Simply, he said; “We aren’t curing cancer, we aren’t saving lives as designers, but I see it as my place to make women feel beautiful.”

Yet, he recently raised over $600,000 for breast cancer research with his clothing.

A man whose elegance, whose humble belief is that it is his “place” in this world just to make women feel beautiful, also finds a way to help eradicate a disease that makes women feel ugly.

What could be more beautiful than that?

As I walked away from my interview, I questioned my “place” in life. “What is it that makes me happy? What joy do I share with others that brings them happiness?”

My lunch with my new “Tribe” mom, Preethy Kalbara, closed the loop on that question.

Originally we met to discuss collaboration on a book she wants to write, but the conversation turned more to a “life coach” counseling session.

As we talked, we discussed the challenges of being EMUS – Educated Moms in Urban Society (EMUS) – MY made up acronym for moms who are educated, and are blessed to not HAVE to work, but want to do something more, to give back to our communities, but struggle with how to manage it AND be a good mom to our kids. Moms who struggle to find our place.

She made me laugh, she gave me killer quotes, inspirational ideas and she asked me a tough question: do I really want to write?

I actually thought about it before I answered her, which surprised me.

I do. I most definitely do.

BUT not how I’ve been doing it lately. I want to do something different, more. Simply, I want to LOVE writing and I want to make people happy when they read my writing. I want to show them something they haven’t seen or thought of before. I want to SHOW THEM beauty.

K – that wasn’t SO simple, but I think you get the picture: I want to make people happier, even if it is for just a moment in their day.

So I write this as much for you dear reader as for me, the anxious, insecure, disorganized writer. I write this hoping I am starting a new chapter.

I also hope I put a smile on your face and thank you for reading.

My Food Obsession

Sep
19

I just recently realized I have an obsession with food.

Yes, I know for most of you that know me you may be thinking, “Really, you just now figured that out?”

And I answer, yes. But it’s not the kind of obsession of how many calories in versus how many calories I burn off or can I eat this and not get fat, kind of obsession. Not that I haven’t done that in the past, and quite frankly, I think that kind of obsession created a weight problem for me at one time. But when I decided to quite worrying about food that way and started looking at food differently, like what’s it really made of, I started looking and feeling better.

I read nutrition labels, cookbooks, articles on food and recipes like novels. Many of the stories I write for Green Living Magazine  have some kind of food component in them. In fact I recently did a story about waste generated at football sporting events and I wasn’t too excited about it until I came across this little nugget:

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) food waste is the number one item being thrown into landfills.

This information got me excited about the story. No, not because of the amount and detriment to the environment this causes (which are huge by the way – food waste produces methane that escapes into the ozone if it isn’t composted), but because of the connection between food and the environment.

I have long been a proponent of whole, healthy REAL food. Food that is close to its natural origins, even if it is meat or chicken. If you look at it you should be able to recognize what it is.

As I have become more “obsessed” with this aspect of food I also become more aware of my son’s eating habits. I do my best not to make food an issue, but I want him to understand choices he makes when it comes to food. For instance he does not like walnuts. But I tell him to try them every now and then. To at least see if he likes them prepared this way or that. I let him know why they are good for him and then let it go. Because as a kid I HATED walnuts, I hated all nuts. In fact I remember my mother, aunts and grandmother always trying to get us to eat them. They would hide them in things or put them in baked things they didn’t want to share with us (hmmmm….smart!).

But you know what? I LOVE them now. I will eat them raw, put them on a salad, eat them in cookies. I really like them. So I’ve been thinking about this for a while. If I hated them then but love them now ( and there are many more foods in my life like that now, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado etc.) how’d I get there?

And if I did, maybe my son will too.

So last night as I popped pistachio after pistachio into my mouth while we waited for our dinner to arrive I asked my mother about her childhood experiences with flavors and food. She said she didn’t like avocados as a kid but loves them now. And she’s even starting to like peas now and she didn’t when I was growing up.

I told her I thought growing to like “good for you foods” had to do with early exposure to “real” food, like what she and I grew up with. My grandparents (her parents) were farmers and didn’t believe in processed or packaged food and what they made came from vegetables, fruits or meats from the butcher. Both our early childhood food experiences were with unprocessed foods.

I continued to mull it over as I devoured (and enjoyed) my delicious Windsor Country Vegetable Chop salad of kale, brussel sprouts, radish, avocado and crispy okra (of which I also hated as a child!).

Turns out I may be right.

In the Scientific American, journalist Brian Mossop writes in his article titled “Can We Be Trained to Like Healthy Foods?”

Now, an increasing number of scientists and physicians wonder if our propensity for unhealthy, obesity-inducing eating might be tied to the food choices made during our first weeks and months of life. Indeed, the latest research indicates that what we learn to like as infants paves the way for what we eat as adults.

I can relax a little about my son’s diet. He loves broccoli, he loves carrots and prefers real apples to apple juice. His first “baby food” was avocado (hates it now by the way). I tried to make sure he ate a variety of “yucky” foods that were barely processed or not at all. But it still doesn’t stop me from freaking out that I may not have done a good enough job ~ happily though, my mom has sound and a sage advice:

Just keep doing what you are doing, and don’t worry so much honey, he’ll be fine.

Then I think, okay, she’s right. And maybe I’ve also finally found a place for my obsession and passion for my job as a journalist, mother and foodie.  Maybe I can help other moms, families and people learn to eat and live healthier and better one post at a time.

Cheers,

~BjW

BJ Walker, the Blogger, Journalist, Writer

Jul
21

Well for anyone who may have been wondering about my blog’s name, there it is, mostly. Professionally, in all my writing I have almost always gone with the name that most everyone knows me by: Barbi Walker, but I’ve been struggling since graduating with what and how to blog. And as I’ve said in a previous post this is a play on words & my initials. Sort of like Arianna Huffington and her Huffington Post.

The idea was given to me by my former professor, Adam Klawonn, who was my editor at “The Zonie Reoprt” where I blogged about Arizona news.  At the time blogging and the public journalist were just becoming a force the journalism world had to recognize. When I graduated from J-School there were immense changes in the industry and I never made the transition to blogging on my own about news.

Which brings me to why I am writing this post.

I was in limbo about blogging, journalism and writing without the direction from a seasoned reporter, editor or professor. I felt lost.

Fortunately I found a freelance writing job with “Green Living AZ” magazine, where my patient and helpful editor, Tishin Donkersley, gave me direction and opportunity. I can happily now call myself a journalist.

But I was still confused about my role as a blogger, I felt that I needed to blog as a writer/journalist. I wanted to blog, but I felt I needed to blog about something news related (the journalist is strong in this one). That my blog was supposed to be about something, a common idea, thread, blah, blah, blah. I’ve sat down so many times to write “what this blog is about” and in a few short days stop writing and losing interest.

There are numerous unsuccessful blogs out there and I didn’t want to be one of them! I’m an overachiever and work hard when I have a project or goal. But I wasn’t doing this with my writing and began to give up on all of my craft.

Then came the JK Rowling article. I was inspired. I thought. I blogged. I was happy but still didn’t know where I was going with my blog. Was it going to be an eco-journalist blog? A personal diary of my attempt to unclutter my life? Or maybe where I tracked, brainstormed and edited my novel? I even toyed with the idea of a personal journal of sorts, but happily journalists are taught that our thoughts and opinions aren’t to be included in our stories. Plus I honestly didn’t want to blog about my experiences, I get bored just listening to myself (as I am sure readers would too!). So I was still in limbo.

Until yesterday.

As I ran around doing my errands I thought about how I don’t journal or write much because I hadn’t found a system that worked for me. I love my weathered journal for notes and thoughts etc., but I didn’t like sitting down to “write” in it. I like technology, let me rephrase, I LOVE technology! I like writing on a computer ~ it feels like I am a writer when I sit down and write on it.

Now you may be thinking, well ding-dong, just write in a Word Doc. I’ve done that – but I find the excitement and accountability of “publishing” something I’ve written magnified thinking others can read it. I have so many thoughts and story ideas that I want to work on but they get lost since I don’t put them somewhere.

So I thought, why not just use my blog for THAT? Umm, well… sheesh, I don’t know. Let me think about that some more.

I did.

Then I got a text from my long time, dear friend, Elizabeth, asking if I had a minute to talk. She was on break from her intensive yogi training. I promptly called her.

She is more sister than friend, she has inspired me numerous times, counseled me and challenged me to question things. I respect her immensely.

We talked. I told her what I was ruminating about. She said the blogs and stories she loves most are the ones where the writer is fully engaged in telling the story. The stories the writer is passionate about.  I told her what I really wanted to do with my blog:  Blog about stuff I like or find interesting, Journal about my thoughts, insights or ruminations and Write my novel and short stories. To use it as a central holding pen for all of the above. I told her I didn’t do that because I was worried of what I should be doing with my blog.

She said three things that resonated with me :).

“You need a place to hone your craft.” This is true, I need a place to practice my writing (writers need to write every day), to strengthen my writing and blogging would be a great tool.

“When you find something you are passionate about you will make time to do it.”  This is the second truism. I was excited all day to sit down at my computer and to  write about our eye-opening conversation, about my love of a certain hair product (I even wanted to take pics!), my thoughts and research for upcoming travel – I was giddy and bubbly with itchy typing fingers!

But what stuck with me the most was this:

“Barbi, I’ve always thought of you as fearless and when you want to do something, you do it regardless if others say you can’t.” That is me IN A NUTSHELL. But I had been so afraid of doing my blog my way because it isn’t “how you are supposed to blog” or be a journalist that I wasn’t doinganything.

When Elizabeth said that, I thought, who cares if my blog isn’t “normal”? It’s a blog, it’s mine and I can do whatever I want with it. And what I really want to do with it is make it a one-stop shopping place for my writing. It’s what I really want to do, it will improve my writing and journalist skills andit’s me.

Thank you Elizabeth. Thank you for being such a solid force in my life, I love you.

And to you dear reader, if you have gotten this far, Thank you! Thank you for your interest and your patience, because if I don’t think about you, my writing, my research, my ideas aren’t doing what I want them to do. This blog may be “my personal” place to think, write and practice, however, I think about you, the reader, as I write.

I welcome your feedback, your thoughts and your insight, because when I write for me, I also write for you.

Cheers,

~BjW