Inspiration, Creativity and Community at When Words Collide


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Aviva Bel’Harold

A little over a year ago, I wandered into the Chapters store in my neighbourhood.  I was immediately drawn to the vibrant energy of a woman standing by a table, which displayed a number of books.  We exchanged smiles, and she asked if she could tell me about her book.  I though ‘ooooh, an author here in the flesh and blood’!! Of course I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about her and her stories.  I walked away with one of her works, ‘Safe’, which I could not put down once I started reading it!

When I shared with her that I had started to venture into the writing world, she was quick to provide advice and support.  She recommended that I attend When Words Collide, a volunteer driven writing conference.  When I looked it up and read all about it, I could not believe that it was actually a very full three days of non stop sessions for the minimal cost of $55!  Well known and experienced authors would be speaking on all sorts of juicy topics.

I thought to myself, ‘oh my, I think I need to go to this’!  I had no idea what I was really getting into.

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 8.43.06 AMI took full advantage of the wealth of information provided by these wise souls.  I plunged myself into as many sessions as I could take until my head was brimming full of information.  Pieces of data were literally spilling out of me.

It doesn’t stop here!

There was no other way I could have received such amazing information anywhere else for this low cost.  There was no other way I could have gotten it directly from the mouths of these wise souls.  Every single one of these presenters was there to give back.  They were volunteering their time and knowledge for the sake of the written (and spoken) word.  They are all so passionate about their art that they just can’t help themselves.  They have to help others.

It still doesn’t stop here!

The entire weekend happens because of a whole team of volunteers Yes! People who absolutely want to make When Words Collide happen year after year.  These people work tirelessly to plan, co-ordinate, communicate, and prep, prep, prep so that the whole thing can happen.  As an attendee, everything was organized to a tee!  If I had any questions at all, any of the volunteers were extremely happy to help me – even though they had a million things to do.

It still doesn’t stop here!

After the conference, I contacted several of the presenters with many different questions.  These people are busy.  They are deep into their own art.  These artists are the most supportive bunch.  They love to help other writers.  Anytime.  No questions asked.  It is truly because of this community that I was able to self publish and launch my book, well before the next conference.

Wow.  This whole experience left me completely and utterly inspired.

One day, I woke up, grabbed my coffee, and sat down in my office.  I came across a call for presenters for the next When Words Collide.  Something came over me.  It was like I wasn’t really in control.  I had this complete wave of inspiration, and decided that I had to give back!!!  At this point, I had executed the self publishing process.   I had learned so much.  I thought of how I had felt when I first attended When Words Collide.

Something in me took over and it was as if I was looking down at myself from outside of my body!  The next thing you knew, I was prepping an outline for a presentation.  As my finger lingered over the ‘send’ button, my heart pounded, and I realized I was sweating.  I was nervous.  How could I possibly think that I knew enough to present to others?  ‘Wait!’, the voice in my head cried out.  What had I learned?  That this community was very supportive and was all about giving back.  Of course I should submit this! They are smart people.  If they look at this and think, ‘oh my, what is this?’, then they will say ‘Thank you, but no thank you’.

I sit here now, with my tea, enjoying the morning birds singing sweetly, and I am reflecting on the presentation that I gave at When Words Collide, just a few days ago.  It was truly another supportive experience.  I had a decent number of attendees (woo hoo!!!), and the content was well received.  Several people came up to me after to declare how helpful it was to them.  Yes!!!  Now I know I have helped!!

Furthermore, the entire conference has been an absolutely amazing experience once again! I took some more sessions to help me in the phase that I am currently in with my first book.  I also attended some sessions that put me out of my comfort zone, and others that were tantalizing and exciting.  I woke up this morning absolutely itching to write!  This experience has left me once again inspired, motivatedand full to the brim with positive, creative, life giving energy!

I also got to thank, in person, some of the writers that have helped me so much, and reinforce for them what an impact they have had on my path.  I picked up some exciting new books (and had them signed, of course).   And, I met some really cool new people!!!

I now have an amazing collection of SIGNED copies of some awesome works!!!!!

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What an experience!!

Thank you to ALL who help make it happen!

Till next year…


My presenter bio…

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My presentation pitch…

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Find my Presentation Here

When Words Collide 2017


Weight Training with Mikey V

I love the look on my face in this picture.  It really sums up my entire experience when I weight trained ‘for real’.  This wasn’t something I was planning on getting into, and it isn’t something that I have done over the years.  It just happened.  And it was an amazing experience in body, mind and soul.  Really.

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It all started when I needed a place to shower so that I could ride my bike to work.  I found the gym that was closest to my office building, and walked in to inquire about membership.

An unexpected opportunity presented itself.  There was a package that I could buy that included some personal training sessions.  Something inside tugged at me to sign up.  So I did.  I didn’t think about it again until the winter months presented themselves.  I had been working out on my own during lunch hour, and was quickly getting bored.  I was really keen to stay in shape through the winter months so I could enjoy the short cycling season when it finally came again.

Continue reading “Weight Training with Mikey V”

Mountain Man


I met Vern in an office environment.  We were both in the same role, sat close together, and had the habit of arriving early.  Thus, we quickly got to know a little about each other.

Vern was immediately a very interesting person to me.  It quickly became apparent that he was a ‘no nonsense’, get the job done, kind of guy.  I soon learned that Vern had some very interesting life passions.  One of them being to summit mountains on a regular basis. When I first learned of this, I was instantly fascinated.

I have had the amazing opportunity to summit a variety of peaks on my bike.  Vern was a man who summited monstrous beasts by climbing with his hands and feet.  Continue reading “Mountain Man”

Powerful, Intelligent and Strong: Stacey

My secret identity is … yes … I am actually an IT geek.  I know that my writing is all about my bike, my adventures, and my journey.  But, before I started cycling and spending time in the mountains, I was a computer scientist.  This is how I met Stacey.  Stacey is the brilliant leader of the security team at one of the companies that I contracted for.  She was one of my key stakeholders on multiple projects, and thus, I quickly got to know her as an IT professional.  Always strategic, mindful, and very professional, she was one stakeholder that I definitely enjoyed working with.

During our time as work colleagues, I got a glimpse into the many sides of Stacey.  The more I learned, the more I wanted to know.  I quickly came to realize that Stacey is quite the endurance athlete.  I barely had time to train for one sport.  I didn’t know how she balanced a full time professional career, training for three sports, and a family!!!  Yes, it did appear to me that Stacey was some sort of superwoman who did it all.  Yet, when I asked her if she would have time for a coffee as I was wanting to learn more about how she kept her immune system strong, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.


Continue reading “Powerful, Intelligent and Strong: Stacey”

Fast and Gracious: Mel the Running Rabbit

{Welcome back my feature series on those who have inspired me on my journey.  Today’s post is about one the fastest, most dedicated athletes I know.  And, everyone loves her because she exudes positivity, encouragement and support.  If you missed Strength and Spirit, My Warrior Friend be sure to check it out!!!}

The other day, as I finished one of my regular, moderate runs, I glanced at my running watch to see that I had accomplished about 5 km in about 34 minutes.  Not bad, fairly consistent – I was happy with that.  As I uploaded my data, I browsed around on Facebook, and came across Melissa’s results for the 10 km race she had just finished that morning.  She had reached her goal, a personal best, and a time of 39:10 for 10 km!!!  Wow, I thought.  How does she do that?

Melissa full of winning attitude

I am constantly thinking how does she do that when it comes to Melissa.  It just seems that she is always accomplishing another amazing win!  She has been most known for her running.  She has been competing at many distances for a long time.  Since I have met her, she has continuously expanded her horizons.  She took on the road racing world with a bang.  With only two seasons under her belt, she has already moved up a category and has multiple podium finishes.  She has taken on cross country skiing with zest, and recently entered the world of cross biking.  The whole time, she is chasing down and challenging her equally speedy husband, Reinier, who is clearly the passion of her life.  During a recent foot injury when she could not bike or run, she focused on swimming – something that she knew nothing about.  She simply looks at something, and does it. Continue reading “Fast and Gracious: Mel the Running Rabbit”

Learning to Ride a Road Bike – An Adventure in Hitting the Ground

I have been road cycling for 13 years now.  It has been an incredible journey.  My bike has literally changed my life.

Before I met my bike (my beloved Trek 2000), I was the most unathletic person ever!!!  I wouldn’t have believed for a second that I was one day going to be riding a fast bike on highways and up to the tops of mountains.  I was completely uncomfortable with my physical being, and afraid of adventure.

Right after I married my husband, James, he bought us road bikes.  It had been a passion of his in his younger years, and he was keen to re-immerse himself.  I really had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.


Continue reading “Learning to Ride a Road Bike – An Adventure in Hitting the Ground”

Strength and Spirit: My Warrior Friend

{Welcome to my feature series on those who have inspired me on my journey.  Today’s post is about the strongest warrior I have ever met.  Every time I spend time with her, I walk away wanting to be better.  If you missed My More Aggressive Twin, or Racing and Climbing, Fierce and Strong, be sure to check them out!}

I was sitting at my desk, plugging away, when I overheard a conversation at the desk beside me.  This tiny, Asian girl was telling my co-worker that she had to leave early to get home before her husband completely dug up the backyard with some homemade contraption that he was trying to use to dig a hole.  The passion and energy coming out of this little woman was amazing.  The way she described this preposterous scenario was incredibly entertaining.  Her perspective on it was unbelievable.  I felt like this woman had years of wisdom and experience.  I immediately felt like I needed to know this woman.

Andrea and me at a wedding celebration

The desks were quite open, and thus, it was easy to join in the discussion without intruding.  From that day forward, this tiny woman, Andrea, has been one of the single most influential forces in my life.  There is nothing tiny about her.


Andrea and I shared a geeky IT background, and an aptitude for interfacing between the IT techies and the business side of a corporation.  It turned out that we also shared a love for many things including, but not limited to: goat cheese with honey, sparkly wine, soft and fuzzy clothing and blankets that you can’t stop touching and puppies.

Continue reading “Strength and Spirit: My Warrior Friend”