Thank you – I have enough now

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love the lights, the decorated trees, the food, the giving and sharing, the sparkly cards. I’ll be out there Christmas Eve, in the back garden marking out the landing strip for the reindeer. Water and carrots for those hard working little darlings. Glass of milk and a piece of cake for Santa.I’ll spend hours in the shops trying to find nice presents for those I love.

But as I look around my house, and in my wardrobes full of shoes and dresses, at all the books, and appliances, and…well, stuff. I know that I have enough now, maybe not as much as my neighbour, or best friend, or the lady in line next to me at the supermarket. But I certainly have enough for me.

I’m grateful. I know I’m blessed.

And now that I have enough I realise that it’s time to give.

Give to those close to home and those far away.

Because there is a special joy in giving that receiving can’t touch.

The Joy of Giving

What simple things at Christmas time bring you the most joy?

For me, it’s that quiet part of Christmas Eve, after the church service, back home, with my son sleeping soundly, the gifts wrapped and under the tree, the dog curled up on her bed. A deep peace fills me then.

I wish everyone love in abundance. And I pray that, one day soon, every person on this precious planet will have enough.

Peace.

 

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Aspiring authors; make a pact.

I was visiting Ollin’s site, Courage to Create this morning, and remembered an important part of my journey towards publication. It happened a long time ago, took seconds, but I suspect it was a pivotal moment.

I’d joined a writing group. I think there were about ten of us; all keen and excited to be working on our manuscripts, looking for useful advice and hopefully some positive feedback and encouragement.

Slowly, the numbers dwindled.  Some left after a rejection from a publisher. Or because life can get hectic and writing can start to look like a self-indulgent hobby. For all kinds of reasons.

In the end, it was just me, and Stephen.  We were both passionate about writing, absolutely determined in our desire to improve our work and stubbornly fixed in our quest to find a publisher.  Over a glass of red wine one night we shook hands and made a pact.

To never quit. Not ever.

Not when the rejection letter came in. Not when we couldn’t see a way to write the ending or improve one of the sagging chapters in the middle.  Not when we read a brilliant book and feared we’d never be good enough to scrape the mud from this author’s boots.

We sent each other interesting articles on writing. {Thank you Ste for the McKee book} We commiserated when we got rejected. And celebrated the wins. We gave each other stern talkings-to if one of us wavered and wanted to quit.

And we did it.

The books we were originally working on when we met were put aside and we started new ones. We were working at different speeds, trying different approaches, contacting different publishers, writing different genres, but somehow, in a weird twist of fate, we somehow managed to have our novels come out in exactly the same month: June this year.

So, here’s my question, writing friends; who can you make a pact with? If no one comes to mind, then perhaps it’s time to reach out and find some like-minded literary types to connect with.

Then, once you have your buddy ready….

… just hold out your hand [virtually is fine too] and shake hands, and make the same pact Stephen and I did all those years ago.

To never quit. Not ever.

I wish you all success and joy along the way.

xxx

Lisa

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Action!

Ollin Morales is a writer and a blogger. {Courage 2 Create} chronicles the author’s journey as he writes his first novel. This blog offers writing tips as well as strategies to deal with life’s toughest challenges. After all, as Ollin’s story unfolds, it becomes more and more clear to him that in order to write a great novel, he must first learn how to live a great life.

 

Action!

by Ollin Morales

Recently, I was caught up in worrying about life again. It frustrated me because I thought I had conquered all the worries I had about my book, about my writing career, about my future, but no, these worries kept coming back.

I’ve heard it said that in order to stop worrying you just have to stop the habit of worrying. As if The Worrying was some sort of bad cigarette addiction, a habit that comes from outside of you, that was introduced to you at a young age, and not an innate part of your biological structure. “You worried? Oh, no problem, just smack No-Worry Patch across your shoulder, stick a slip of No-Worry gum on your tongue, and little by little, that bad case of worrying you picked up long ago, will gradually slip away.”

Well, doesn’t that sound nice?

But unfortunately, our worries, just like our nagging fears and doubts, are a part of us. We can’t get rid of them, and our energy is only wasted trying to shut them out.

Trust me. I’ve tried that. It doesn’t work.

The worries remain, no matter how hard you try to kick them out, and they can easily snowball and get in the way of your writing.

What is there to do then? To whom do you to turn to? Where do you go? How do you get there? What time is it showing? What theater is it in? And did they really bring Dobby back for this last Harry Potter? Why would they do that? He’s so annoying.

Anyways.

I used to think my worries were useless. That they were just there to cause me more anxiety and pain. But now I realize that the reason I saw worry in that way was because I hadn’t learned how to deal with worry in a productive manner.

I didn’t understand that a “worry” is just a signal. It’s your mind saying: “Hey, you should do something about this.” You respond to The Worry by saying: “But I can’t do anything about it right now, leave me alone!” Then The Worry returns with: “Hey, you should do something about this.” You retort: “I told you already. I can’t do anything.” The Worry shoots back, as if he didn’t hear you: “Hey, you should do something about this.” You shout back in rage: “I ALREADY TOLD YOU! DIDN’T YOU JUST HEAR ME? I CAN’T DO ANYTHING! IT’S HOPELESS! LEAVE ME THE FRACK ALONE!”

Then, there is a long silence.

You let out a sigh and think you’ve beaten The Worry. But then you hear–

“Hey, you should do something about this.”

AAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!

It’s annoying, right?

But what if, instead of ignoring that worry. You listen to it. So this time, let’s take a listen to what The Worry is saying. It’s a pretty simple message actually:

“Hey, you should do something about this.”

Did you finally get the message this time? Like I did?

The Worry isn’t saying what you think it is saying. For instance, it isn’t saying: “Hey, freak out about this!” or “Hey, get really scared and anxious about this!”

No, all that The Worry is saying is that you should “do something” about this. It’s not specific about what, nor does it demand that the action be big or small, it is just requesting that you do something.

A Worry, as you now see, is not a call for you to become paralyzed with fear, it is instead, a call to action. A Worry is your mind telling you that you need to do something about a situation so you that you can feel at ease about your future.

Today, I recommend listening to your worries, instead of trying to shut them out. First, find out what specific situation The Worry is most concerned about. Then, write down a small, easy, and immediate action you can take in the next week or so to address every, single worry. When you do this, I promise you will feel much better afterward. Why? Because instead of ignoring or shouting at The Worry’s request, you are thoughtfully listening to The Worry and giving it a practical answer.

The Worry: “Hey, you should do something about this.”

You: “Okay. Got it. Thank you. I’ll take care of that right now.”

You might be wondering: “Ollin, what about the worries that seem COMPLETELY out of your control?” Well, my go-to actions in those situations are either:

1. Write about it, or

2. Try to spread more love and goodness in the world.

No, it’s not like you’ll cure cancer by doing this, but hey, it’s something. And that’s all your worry is asking you to do:something. You may never get rid of your old pal, Worry, but now that you know how to deal with him, he won’t bother you so much anymore.

Why?

Because you’ll be way too busy taking care of yourself.

much love,

Ollin

How do you deal with Worry? How do you address those BIG worries that seem to be way out of your control? I’m sure we’d all love to learn from your wisdom.

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Beautiful Vietnam

I nearly didn’t make it to Vietnam. Can you believe it? After winning the trip earlier in the year, it seemed unlikely that I’d get there. All sorts of obstacles and challenges arose to prevent me. And I didn’t even get my visa until the day I left for the airport.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle, was my fear of stepping out of my comfort zone. Sure, I could blame hassles with getting all the right certificates to renew my passport. I could blame difficulties with finding suitable child care and pet care. I could blame lack of funds. But in the end, it was fear that caused me to drag my feet.

But despite being a scaredy cat, last Thursday, I got on a plane with my best friend, and was launched into the air, with my feet hanging, my heart shrinking, thrust higher and higher, until my comfort zone was a tiny speck far beneath me. There was no going back. Life was flinging me into the unknown.

On arrival, Friday evening, I started taking the  alternative to malaria tablets – gin and tonic. Lovely. Our tour guide, Cuong, affectionately known as, King Kong, was an angel and I felt really comfortable with the other people in the group.

Next morning, I couldn’t face visiting the war related stuff, so  instead of going with the rest of the tour, I decided to explore Saigon on my own.

At first, I remained on one side of the pavement; I figured I could circle the block without being forced into the chaotic swamp of motorbikes. I took photos of dogs, some pink lilies, trees, the blur of bikes, the high tops of French style buildings and banners of  Vietnamese writing.

Eventually, a man approched, his name was Tang, and he offered to give me the cyclo tour of ho Chi Mihn city for 250,000 dong. Which was about 10 dollars. I told him I preferred to walk and find a nice cafe. He very kindly helped me across the road to took me to a nearby place which sold strong, sweet coffee. I bought him a coffee too and he taught me a few Vietnamese words.

Perhaps it was the surge of joy from the caffeine, or the sudden realisation that I was free in a strange city, but suddenly, I felt brave. I decided to cross a road. I waited until a local stepped off the pavement and then I sidled up close. They didn’t seem to mind me at their shoulder, a little white shadow, closer than their coat, and I got safely to the other side with them.

Brave now, I challenged myself to go where my heart pulled me. I crossed large, busy roads and small laneways. I looked both ways. I relaxed. I walked further and further away from the hotel, until I was  blissfully lost.

Vietnam melted away my fears. Little by little, I discovered the brave woman I used to be, before I became a cautious, sensible parent. None of my fears manifested. The food was delicious. The people were so incredibly warm and friendly. The architecture was stunning. Even the coffee was good.

Each day bought new delights. My senses were treated to so many new sights and sounds and smells. The Vietnamese language is musical. The colours vivid and my photos really don’t do justice to the energetic vibe and colour of the place.

We all flew to Da Nang and visited the beautiful Marble Mountains – breathtaking temples and views. We had lunch at China beach. In Hoi An we stayed in a hotel that was so lovely I never wanted to leave. Gin and tonic by the pool? Magic.

One of the highlights of the tour was sailing on the boat in Ha Long bay.  We stayed overnight on the boat and watched a red sun descend into the still waters.

Although I didn’t see a single mozzie while I was in Veitnam, I remained diligent about taking my anti-malaria remedy of G& T. And there’s nothing like sitting on the top deck, sipping a drink and practicing my very poorly pronounced Vietnamese.

We had eight wonderful days over there and it seemed that before I could wear everything I packed, it was time to come back home again.

Thank you to Susie, my best-est ever best friend for sharing the fun.

Thank you to mum and Gunnel for looking after my angel and Tiger. Thanks dad for providing spending money. Thanks to Peter and Margaret for spoiling Holly.

A huge BIG thank you to Oxfam for the surprise prize. And a massive big bouquet of thanks to Cuong and Peregrine Tours for keeping this scaredy cat mum safe and sound and giving me the trip of a life time.

xxx Lisa

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Scaredy cat parent

Once upon a time, I used to be fearless. If someone warned me about riding a particular horse, because it was bad-tempered, hadn’t been ridden for years, and had already broken someone’s collar-bone, I’d feel compelled to get on its back  (with owner’s permission, of course}. I rarely felt any fear for my own safety. I’d happily go alone into dangerous parts of cities, I’d talk to strangers, and far worse. I was willing to take a risk because I felt protected by some force greater than myself.

Until I got pregnant.

Everything changed after that. I became chicken. I became cautious and sensible, and well… boring. Someone needed me. They needed me to be healthy and present and reliable. And so I stopped taking risks. I pulled in the edges of my comfort zone and settled in for the long haul. My plan was to wait until my son celebrated his 21st birthday, and then I’d be fearless again.

But I won a trip to Vietnam recently. Before my son turned 21. In fact, I’m heading off next Friday. He’s not even a teenager yet. What if something happens to me? What if I forget to look both ways? Or eat something lethal? Or….? Or….? Or the plane crashes? What will my son do without his mum?

I’m excited and scared. I’m sure the same forces that protected me before child, will look after me now. Perhaps I’ll learn to be brave and sensible at the same time. I wonder if that’s possible?

Anyone been to Vietnam? Any tips on crossing the roads? Perhaps I’ll just stick to one side…

Who feels brave? Who feels like a scaredy cat?

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It’s you, you’re missing.

What I’ve noticed lately in the “top posts” section is that there are a lot of people google-ing the following:

Something’s missing but I don’t know what it is.

I even wrote a post about it not long ago, but at the time I didn’t really have any answers. It dawned on me a few days ago that the feeling creeps into your heart when you’ve abandoned yourself.

How do you abandon yourself? By taking more interest in other people’s lives/opinion/choices than your own. When you are there for everyone else and forget your own needs. When you get busy and run around chasing goals and deadlines that have no real meaning except as a distraction from being present to yourself. When you try to escape yourself by watching hours of TV (other people’s lives again) or over-eat/drink/shop etc.

So, right now, take a breath and ask yourself the question: Where am I? Notice where your focus and thoughts are.

Chances are you’ll be far away.

Come back to yourself.

It’s you, you’re missing.

[How I came to “like” my post – it was an accident really; it was simply a matter of wondering what the “like” button does.  So, although I don’t dislike this post, I’m probably not quite as enamoured of it might seem. :-)]

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Sunshine and getting tagged.

It didn’t matter that it was raining this morning (Spring, you missed your cue}. Didn’t matter that the dishes from last night were still waiting for me on the sink, or that the dog put her muddy paw prints all over the floor.

Because inside, I’m sunshine.

And no amount of rainclouds or mud will dampen my spirits today.

Also, the lovely Leslie from Coffee, Pearls and Grace tagged me with some questions:

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

To turn water into wine. Or coal into diamonds. Basically to transform objects. Hey, I’d be a transformer, without the clunky wheels and butch engines though.

Who is your style icon?

Probably Cate Blanchett. I love her elegance and simple style of beauty.

What is your favorite quote?

I have hundreds of them. But recently: “For whatsoever from one place doth fall, Is with the tide unto an other brought: For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.” — Edmund Spenser

What is the best compliment you ever received?

I can’t really think of anything specific. But someone recently emailed me to tell me that Milk Fever was their all time favourite book. That gave me a very warm glow inside.

What playlist/CD is in your CD player/playing right now?

Maxwell – Black summers night is my current favourite.

Are you a night owl or morning person?

Night owl. Definitely. Although due to the weekly school run, I can’t stay up as late as I’d like to anymore. So I have been forced into a better balance. Left to my natural rhythm though, I’d go to bed at 3 and wake up at 11. Lovely.

Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Can’t I have one of each? No? Well, in that case, dogs. Cats don’t need me anyway.

What is the meaning behind your blog name.

It’s the title of my debut novel, Milk Fever. The condition is something cows get when birthing and calcium levels in the blood drop dangerously low. It makes an appearance in the book.
So, now  I need to nominate two other bloggers to tag.

1. shylockbooks.

2. jpcabit.

Enjoy your inner sunshine folks.

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