“I would like to thank the Academy…”

Today I am in a “Scrappy Happiness” frame of mind and its time to hang from my mindful monkey bars.  That is a twisted metaphor to describe how I am feeling at the moment.  I am stuck between the ordinary and the extraordinary waiting to be discovered.  Yes I shamefully threw several Joel Plaskett titles in there but what can I say, the man can spin lyrics like the greats.  I feel extremely blessed to have seen him perform more times than I can count.  Today I need a break  to have some fun with words and listening to any song by JP gets me inspired to do brave things.

I have been knee-deep in writing Sisters of Avalon and I love it, but I won’t lie and say it’s been easy because it is a lot of hard work.  I am trying to do a couple of  balancing acts at the moment.   I shall grant myself permission to pat myself on the back a little and will say this, “so far, so good.”  I still however have a bit of ways to go yet before I can take that enormous breath of final delivery.

This week I have hit the point of no return, there is too much written now to change the direction of any major character so whats done is done.   I am at the top of the mountain where the shit hits the fan and my characters must head to their rightful places, which waits for them at the end of my book. I love where I have ended up with this story some 7 years later.  Yikes!

This week has been tough, and I will admit that now that the week is finally over.(I really wrote this on the weekend and not this morning).   Back to school, back to work, back to writing less now that the holidays are over. I miss my holiday writing routine.  So today I needed a little pick me up for my writers blues.  I decided to pull a page from the ever wonderful book by Julia Cameron called “The Artist Way” and do a fun writing exercise for myself.

Warning!!!  It will be a long and tedious blog this week and I realize that technology has stripped some of our ability to read more than 3 paragraphs so if you do not get through this one I totally understand.  And to the handful of you that read my blog I would like to add that, if you plan on reading my book then this will be a good chance for you to get ready for some long wind, lol.  Today’s blog is the closet you will come to seeing my true writing style.  So if you have gotten this far you might as well just read the rest.  Grab a glass of wine, coffee, water or even a beer and get ready for a long’s winters blog.

At some point very soon I will have to write my acknowledgement page for my book.  A page where I get to thank the many people who have helped me along my journey.  There is a long list that is for sure as I have had many blessings placed upon me throughout my lifetime.  I thought, why not write that page today. Why not tell all those people out there how wonderful they have been to me and how much they have helped me get to where I am at this very special moment in time.

As a young girl I loved watching all those award shows where real movie stars got up and thanked everyone that made their special night possible.  That was always my favorite part.  The glitz and glamour was of course appealing to my young human mind but my ego enjoyed that part the best and not the real me.  I don’t really care who is wearing who anymore and if I were asked that question ever in my life I think I would laugh hysterically.  I would probably have to talk about my shoes though, I always have some killer shoes that I like to show off.  I probably only paid ten bucks for them at Value Village so they still would not be pretentious enough for the Hollywood Red Carpet I guess.  But I digress.


The word acknowledgment seems too cold a word to use.  Its fourteen letters are just too official and I would like to call it my blessings instead.  When I actually get to do this for my book, it will look a lot different from what it does here.  The editor will have his or her own way and direct me on how it should really be and that’s all fine and dandy so today I am going to do it the Renée way and have some fun.  So here goes folks.

First, I would like to thank the Academy.  Long Island Academy that is.  My little school on the long Island that I was reared up on.  And I don’t mean that as some kind of euphemism it simply means the place where I grew up.  I really did not understand what that island did for me until I was long gone from it.  My mother can tell you that I asked my dad regularly if we could move away and live some place else.  I vividly remember when my Uncle Rob moved to Alberta, me asking dad if we could all go with him.  It didn’t happen and although that made me sad at the time I am so glad they didn’t listen to me.

That island, my Long Island made me into a very colourful human being and I wear all my colours with a lot of pride.  And before anyone goes thinking that I am gay, and I could see why you would think that based on the statement above, I am not.  In fact I am not straight either.  I am neither.  I hate labels, it’s the only thing I really hate in life to such a big extent but I do.  I am in fact just and only that, the I am.  What I choose to put after those two letters is what is really important in life.  So I choose wisely folks.  That is a blog for another day though, I promise.

Back to my island and my school.  I thank you because without you I would not have learned to love the way I do today and I am blessed for that.  So see, I really do get to thank the Academy and I am wearing a white t-shirt and a pair of black track pants.  It’s after Christmas people and I bet a lot of you out there are wearing them too.  No fancy shoes on right now all the same, maybe later though.

Blessings come in all shapes and disguises.  Which is why I would like to thank all of those who said the mean things, who broke my heart and who said I wasted my life by getting a BFA, and  I quote one of them by saying the very thing that stuck itself to me for a long time, “sure dats nothin but a bachelor of fuck all…”.  To them I say thank you and share a new favorite quote of mine by Zig Ziglar.  “Don’t be distracted by Criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.”  You were all my blessings so I thank you for being the hot wind at my back.

On to a more happy blessing and if you have read my blog before you will know that I owe so much to this man, Dr. Wayne Dyer.  I could go on forever and have even written a book detailing all the blessings he has contributed to my life.  That book will hopefully be published some other day but for now I will stick with the Sisters.  I cannot thank him enough for all the light he has brought into my world.  Namaste Dr. Dyer, Namaste.

I absolutely have to thank the PEI Screenwriters Bootcamp, 2013.  My acceptance into their coveted little gem of a program was key to making all this happen.  I met a wonderful man that weekend who scared me shitless (sorry that was really the best way to describe it).  His name is Tom Shoebridge and his many years of experience in the Canadian media arts world intimated the crap out of me.  The day I had to read my writing aloud for him and my 5 other peers, gave me an extreme case of stage fight.  Holy Frack, I am really doing this, was all I could think.  But I did it.  It felt like I was reading to him for an entire twenty minutes for sure when indeed it was probably only 4 or 5.  When I was done I held my breath and prepared for some heavy constructive criticism, which I of course always welcome.  But that day he told me I was meant to write books and from there my confidence grew and I made a promise to him on my very last day there to write Sisters of Avalon as a novel first, “the script will come later,” he said.

I took Mr. Shoebridge at his word and am grateful for that.  You have blessed many Tom Shoebridge and I will forever be in your debt for the blessing you handed me.

Before I get too far ahead of myself I cannot and shall not forget my S of A and I don’t  mean Sons of Anarchy which I do indeed confess a profound love for.   Kurt Sutter is a great episodic writer and I will really miss the show when it ends.  And yes, Charlie Hunnam is not bad on the eyes either.  I know you are thinking it, well I am thinking about them, I mean,  him.  Sorry, just got a little flustered there.  Oh right The School of Fine Arts!

Corner Brook, NL, and the place I called home for 4 years after highschool.  It was in a time and place where social media did not exist and I thank my lucky stars for that every day.  I cannot imagine what would have ended up on Facebook.

Every once in a while some random picture that was found in someone’s old box from a trip back home will get scanned and tagged without any warning to anyone that it is coming.  When I see a notification like that I hold my breath for a second.  Lol.  Thankfully those breathless moments have not resurfaced, not yet anyway.  I do love the ones that celebrate the fun and less drunk moments in my life.  Bring on the bleached blond sun-in photos with the big bangs though.  I love those pics from high school and my first year of university.

This school of “fuck all”, as quoted by a drunk family member, was so much more than fun times and embarrassing moments.  It’s where I felt my true freedom for the first time.  No more parents, no more island, no more put downs for being different from the rest.  A place to let my creative expression thrive and put my hangovers to rest.  Yes I partied, a lot, and yes I studied, a lot, and yes I had fun, a lot, and even though I made countless mistakes in those 4 years I think I can say I have learned from most of them.  Which is why I am glad those mistakes didn’t end up on Facebook because I don’t think I would have been strong enough back then to live with my own shame.  I can now, even when it pops up from out of no where.  We all do things in this life that we wish he had not, trouble is we very rarely give ourselves permission to forgive.  If you cannot forgive yourself, no one else will either.

My wonderful arts school allowed me to grow as a person and to find myself along a road filled with mistakes, challenges and beautiful friendships.  The relationships I built during those 4 years have changed the direction of my life and put me on a path I look back on and smile.   I was blessed to have met many talented individuals who have made their mark on the Canadian arts scene while others have gone on to become amazing mothers, fathers and even bee keepers.

When you are allowed the freedom to be yourself and are surrounded on a daily basis by creative people your whole world can change and that is a blessing for anyone who is given that opportunity.  Thank you Sir Wilfred Grenfell School of Fine Arts,  to all those who said I was wasting my time by going there I say, “You really don’t know fuck all!”

Now for the sappy part, its time to get your tissues out.  To those that have come and are now gone from my life you have been the hardest blessings of all.  Through your passing and with the pain of your loss I am still blessed.  Blessed to have had you shape and mold me as a person, and to have loved me unconditionally.   To my Nan and Pop Rowsell who gave me sweets to make me sweet.  My Nan and Pop Hillier who gave me fun Christmas’s away from home, to my Uncle Jack who always called me baby girl, my Uncle Gary for making me try shark for the first time, my cousin Shannon for always making me feel like I was his Madonna, my Aunt Brenda for all her selfless love and of course my dad for his gift of words. My Dad made me fall in love with reading at a very young age and he knew he raised a writer.  It’s a shame I didn’t know that until after he passed on.    I love you all and hope you are keeping one another company in the heavens above.  I am sure dad and Uncle Jack are totally arguing about how fake hockey is.  Uncle Jack always knew how to get dads goat.

Ok put the tissues away.  It’s time to thank my girls, my tribe of girlfriends who got me through the tough motherhood days when staying home and raising kids was considered a blessing and a curse.  Kena, Trisha, Angie, and Trudi.  The four of you have kept me strong and grounded through the good, the bad and the very ugly days of wearing pajamas days on end.  Love ya sista’s from other mista’s.  There are many other friends of mine that have blessed my life in so many other ways and I am sure you all know who you are as I make sure to keep in touch with you even though we are all scattered across the miles.

And to my loving family, and there are too many of you Rowsell’s and Hillier’s to write about because if I do I will lose any of you that are still reading this really long blog.  I am little bits of each and every one of you.  Through your kindness, cooked meals and knitted sweaters I have learned that I will always be loved, well feed and I will never be homeless as you have all found a place for me in yours hearts.  I love you and always will.

To my Momma, brother, sis in law and little nephews, you have given me strength to stand on my own two feet and love you back in the way that you love me.  As long as you are by my side I know that you will be all that you can be for me as long as I live.  Thank you for the countless blessings you have brought into my life, with many more to come I am sure.

To  my very special little family of men.  To Mason, Zander and my partner in crime Mike without you I would still be a Long Island girl pretending to be stuck in the 80’s.  You make every day a blessing in itself.  I love you despite your dirty socks, smelly butts and the pee that is always waiting for me on the toilet seat.  I gladly overlook all of that because without you celebrating a dream come to life would mean nothing to me other than just some words on a page.  You have been on the journey with me from day one and with many more days to come we will be stronger together and take on anything that the Universe has in store for us.  I love you, stinky socks and all.

There it is, and if you hung in there for all 2800 words then I commend you and if you didn’t then oh well…

See you next Tuesday.

R.H. Downs


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13 responses to ““I would like to thank the Academy…”

  1. Hope

    Awesome! Without a doubt, you are a writer for sure! Follow your dream! XX00

  2. OK that was a long one. LOL

  3. Shauna

    I hung in there!! Cant wait for the book

  4. Lora Lee Rowsell

    AMEN! More greatness to come just around the corner, I feel it, I hear it, I read it, I am inspired!

  5. Kay Rosenberg-Turner

    Renee that was brilliant. I am so glad that I took the time to read it.
    I look forward to the book, you are a true story teller. I so look forward to meeting you.

  6. Carmel Rowsell

    Love reading your blog “baby girl” it certainly does my heart good….as you may of notice I too call Kayla “baby girl” As I read more and more of your interesting tales and life experiences I see some of you in Kayla:). Pop would be proud of you both xoxo. I look forward to reading your book!!! Wishing you all the success you can handle xoxo

    • Awww Carmel, now that brought a couple of tears to my eyes. I love you and feel very blessed to call you my family. I always have. Every time I hear you say “baby girl” I can hear a little of my Uncle Jack and that always makes me feel closer to him. I wish I had the opportunity to spend more time with Kayla because I get the feeling her and I could do some real damage together, lol. All in the name of fun of course. I cannot wait to hug and squeeze you all again real soon. My boys still talk about how much fun they had this summer when we came to visit. You made them feel so special. xoxoxoxoxo

  7. LA Mclintock

    oh Renee, this one brought many a smile to my face all 28000 words! I thank my lucky stars on a regular basis that social media wasn’t around during uni!

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