leslie nikole

leslie nikole is a short story writer, bookstore employee, and world traveller. here are her commentaries on the books she broke the bank for, her sporadic complaints sans eye-rolls, and travel experiences.

leslie.nikole at icloud dot com


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sometimes it feels like i've been writing the same thing over and over again for months on end. this one story, which started off as a short spurt of ideas, has now grown into a monster, including scary tangents and wordy overgrowth that makes audrey II look like an actual average house-plant. for a while i would sit down and hack at it, churning out pages and pages by hand on lunch breaks and subway rides. but for what? where am i really with this story? what do i have to say for these pages upon pages of well...filler? 

it's been disappointing to say the least. 2015 wasn't exactly a good year for writing.

i feel like i spend a lot of time writing fluff, all these lines that fit together quite nicely as i'm writing them, but seem extremely over the top when i look back at it the next day. i've gone through so many spurts with starting written projects, getting people excited (or worse, involved), and not following through. some say i shouldn't beat myself up. a few remind me about that book i wrote once, a book i wish people would stop asking me about. every time i put ink to paper, the pressure i write with is of one to return to a confidence i once had in my writing. i want everything i write to be moving, inspiring, clever, and well thought out; it feels impossible most days. i've tried nanowrimo, various writing groups through different facilities and genres, but writing still feels like a gift i promised to deliver so very long ago.


but with the intention of trying and getting from behind the cash registers at the bookstore and onto the floor, i've stumbled upon a few great aids, notably bonnie neaubauer's the write-brain notebook.

let me tell you something about bonnie neaubauer, i picked up a copy of her first publication of the write-brain workbook (which i forgot on the f train a few years ago) when i was still in high school and fell in love with it. low and behold, ten years after it's publication, neaubauer was able to republish a second edition in full colour real workbook style that is suitable for all ages with her prompts. this book is literally amazing, it's full of colour and overflowing with fun ideas that come alive on the page as if to jump start your imagination. realizing how dark my writing has gotten in the past few months, this edition of the write-brain workbook has definitely woken up some happier and wackier ideas that have been suppressed by the idea that i can't write anything. if you miss those worksheets your teachers gave you in language arts class, pick up a copy of the write-brain workbook and explore your imagination without being in black and white.

newfound classics also include the series of prompts from the san fransisco writer's group, found in the original 642 things to write about and its sister, 712 more things to write about. these are popular, especially given that they offer anywhere from a quarter to a whole page to complete prompt exercises. more something more muted, but equally thought provoking, go for one of these two. on days where i felt like i've done nothing all day, it's easy to uncap a pen and flip open to a random page to at least try doing something creative for the day. mind you, neither of these editions are for children, but there is a 642 things to write about: young writer's edition. also, if you're starting a journaling project and don't know where to start, the 642 things to write about me edition is also super useful. the prompts are just as crazy and borderline questionable as the non-reflective edition, but they also can get a little intense very quickly, for example, "write about a good-bye that you didn't know was a last good-bye" is one of the prompts that's followed by "write about the morning you least wanted to get out of bed". see? proceed with caution.

last but definitely not least, the 642 tiny things to write about edition is perfect for everyone. about the same size as a pocket sized moleskine, this tinier and commuter friendly version of the prompt book is divided up in the same format with just a bit of room to jot down little ideas while you're on the go. i like to keep it in my bag just in case i get stuck somewhere and finish whatever book i'm reading at the moment. personally i'd suggest keeping a small notebook with it, some of the prompts are easy to get into and then you run out of space.

so, now that i've blabbed to death, what are your little creativity boosts you're trying out this year?

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2016 has arrived unlike any other year. Instead of ending up in a club where there was a stabbing, I opened the new year with friends laughing as we walked around downtown Montreal trying to find an open bank. On that basis alone, I know that the build up from November and December, both months that I really immersed myself in attitude modification and being creative, is due for real fruition in 2016.

Amel Larrieux - See Where You Are

While working at the yoga studio, I’m still working at the bookstore. Having gone through the process of changing one’s mindset, I realize how slow the process has been (although the changes have made so much of a difference) and that there are a lot of books that I’ve read that seem to have fast-forwarded me through a lot of adjustment problems. I’m very proud of Indigo’s initiative to build subcategories on their website focusing on mindfulness and well-being, mixing classic texts and newly popular ones with meditative audio guides as well. I’m glad that something that is popular with the company is something that I’m also interested, it makes my job a lot easier when you’re always eager to talk about what’s available and learn what works for certain groups. 

In the process of arranging the well-being section of the downtown Montreal store, I found A Year of Living Mindfully by Anna Black, a workbook-sized paperback in full colour with fifty-two meditation practices to focus on. If this year you’ve set the intention to be more mindful or your new year’s resolution is to try a meditation practice, Anna Black’s latest release is a warm introduction to these practices for both those just finding their way and those who’d like to try something a little different on a path they’re familiar with. Since I usually start with resolutions at the beginning of the year, which less than two weeks in tend to be daunting and a drag, I figured a once a week meditation project paired with self-reflection is less of a scarier way to go. I also picked up Bram Levinson’s newest collection of 365 inspiring reminders, spiritual life hacks, and daily intentions to have something a lot more positive to think about first thing in the morning. Usually in my home, the first thing I hear is the radio in the kitchen. Whatever’s being introduced to me within those first moments usually isn’t pleasant; it’s either the news or the weather forecast. It’s going to take a little while to fix that situation, but rolling over to redirect that energy into reading something way better has definitely made a difference when it’s still dark in the early morning.

This first week's meditation practice is based around the question of why you want to practice being more mindful. Black suggests grabbing a timer, setting it for three minutes, and continuing the statement "I want to practice mindfulness because..." until the timer has run out. If you get stuck, keep questioning yourself why you want to practice mindfulness until your freewrite starts flowing again. I found that three minutes was not enough because I still had so much to write, but don't feel bad if you have to cut it short because you have other things to do. Your freewrite is not for judgement, but simple analysis. If anything in particular stands out, make note of this, and complete your freewrite with a conclusion when you are satisfied or when the timer runs out and you've had a breather. I'd definitely say that if you're interested in this book, pairing it with a journal to keep track of your meditations and journey would be a good idea if the margins are not enough space.

As for daily inspirations, Bram Levinson's book is a great choice for everyone from the easy-going to the no nonsense types. If you're looking for a go-to choice for non-cliché or corny passages that aren't too long or too in-depth (unless you want them to be!), A Year in the Light is something you want to pop in your bag or place on your desk. I find taking pictures of the meditations and then making them my lock screen an easy way of reminding myself of the day's intention without having to keep the book on me as I do my running around. Many people have their phone in their hand all day, at least this way checking the time can also be a little reset.

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I’ve been on radio silence since my thirty day yoga challenge last November. Last November…it feels so weird to say; it doesn’t feel like it was two months ago. 2015 came crashing down in the strangest way, and I still can’t really get my mind around it. However, I can’t sum up a year in a downfall from a few months prior, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. Dwelling on negatives that you can’t change immediately is stress I can’t afford to harbour.

Yoga has been my saviour, I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Had it not been for the studio I'm lucky enough to practice and work at alongside an amazing group of empathetic people who've had my back from the beginning in ways I'd never imagine and my own personal practice, I don't think 2015 would have ended as smoothly as it has. I can't say thank you enough, and although it really feels like the universe is teaching me a very hard lesson, I'm glad that I've been able to see the relief that its also made available to me as long as I remember to stay humble and ask for help. Some days you can only be twenty feet tall because you've got so many people holding you up.

I've got a bunch of things coming along in the next few weeks/months to come, and I'm so excited to work on all these projects. Being creative while busy with two jobs isn't an easy feat, but it's one I'm excited to work on.


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It’s been a lot since my birthday. Actually, the roller coaster started a few hours before July 8th, but since then everything’s been upside down. Just when I think that everything is going to finally balance out and slow down, boom, there goes my life again doing the most in true Cancer fashion. I lost my mind last month and landed myself in hold again, but I find my rebound has been pretty swift this time around. I guess I know myself better and I’m sure everyone that reached out made a real difference that I’ll never stop being appreciative for. I left the bank from stress, and while it was the hardest thing to walk in there and close the door, I’m glad I did. It was great while it lasted, and maybe down the line I’d reapply for some other position at the bank.

I’ve picked up another job at the yoga studio though as a paid position which is lovely, now I get paid to be where I willingly am during my down time anyways. When I first started out at enso (three years ago!!) I figured hot yoga would be a great way to regain my flexibility after a bunch of injuries. In three years my practice, well it's actually become a practice first of all, and has transcended the physical. While yes, I have made huge improvements in my physical flexibility, I never forget that my emotional and mental flexibility is what's most important. All the physical stuff, that will come later especially when I least expect it. I never thought I'd get so far in my split again, but in three years I've reworked my brain to encourage me to at least try. I'm doing the 30 Day Challenge and I'm excited to watch myself continue to grow and be inspired by all the amazing people at the studio. Also during the challenge I'm hoping to work on my own home practice and really start taking things seriously instead of doing just passive poses while watching Netflix and distracted basic flows on my mat. What better or more Leslie way to get organized than with a notebook and crafting? I got the two booklets shown above from the Mindfulness Edition of Flow Magazine, a magazine for "paper lovers" like myself. They're just simple on the inside with quotes and different styled sheets for writing, but that's probably because the point is to decorate it.

Une photo publiée par Kwesi Mark (@elkwesi_) le

But to be real, this is where I want to be. I hit refresh while sifting through New York AirBnB listings; I’ve swallowed the prices and have let them settle in the back of my mind. I’ve done a lot of swallowing lately, and it’s eaten me up inside. frank and honest, but I still can’t find those three little words within me to make my fingers type them out and hold my breath when I hit send. I sleep the entire way, until that last bend before the Lincoln Tunnel from Jersey. Nostalgia is looking at the moon that bled a few weeks ago, thinking about how much has changed since I last saw it before disappearing into a train, praying it’s not all screwed up.

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