When to Surrender

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It’s hard not to worry when you have something to worry about. There’s always something to worry about. One thing that life will prove over and over again is that things don’t always turn out the way we would want them to. Often things will happen that turn our lives upside down and leave us feeling inside out. Things lurk on our horizons ominously. We look at possible future scenarios when something “not good or normal” starts to happen, and generally what we will immediately latch onto is the worst possible outcome. Then we worry about it. It doesn’t matter how many times we try and focus on possible great results, those little negative thoughts grow hugely regardless of how small they are when they first enter our thoughts.

It then amazes us how right we were. We tell people how we saw the whole thing coming. We knew that that mess would happen, and it did, exactly how we knew it would. We say “Bah Humbug!” to those Law of Attraction weirdoes when they tell us we brought it on ourselves with our negative thinking. How dare they add insult to injury by insinuating that we would invite such horribleness into our own lives?

Sometimes it’s true though. Notice I said sometimes. We do seem to bring it on with our beliefs.

Little children don’t attract nasty things. Do they? Those who believe in reincarnation would say it’s karma. Others would blame the sins of the fathers. Unfortunately some even blame God. The truth is that most of our trauma is caused by people. We live in societies of our own creation. Poverty, lack of guidance and education, and worry, can make for some pretty bad parenting skills. Evils from cancer causing chemicals to cruelty, torture, terrorism, and poverty are pretty much of our very own making. We learn from our parents, repeating their behaviours towards us, teaching our children what they “showed” us. Divisions are drawn between the haves and the have nots from birth. We are taught that we are superior to those whose skins are different shades and those who have to scrabble to survive, and are so stupid they wouldn’t know what caviar was if it hit them on the nose.

Funny thing is though, that no matter how much you have, you will still have things to worry about. These things might not seem to be as bad as wondering whether or not you will be warm enough sleeping under a cardboard box in a shop doorway on a snowy night, but they will consume your waking hours nevertheless. They will leave you in a state of anxiety or even terror. Your body will react in sympathy to your thoughts, and your thoughts will then react even more to the raised levels of cortisol and other dodgy chemicals that your body thinks you will need to run away from or fight the oncoming threat.

It’s almost a relief when the bad thing you knew was on its way happens. Then you can begin to react to something concrete to recover, and sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t. Then it is past, and a set of new worries present themselves for you to choose from, and you do, and so the cycle continues until you face the final great worry of whether you’re heading up or down when you depart this mortal coil, not to mention, how sore will it get before that actually happens?

How many stories do we hear of terminal cancer victims who accept their lot and decide to cash in all their retirement money and blow it all on an outrageously cool bucket list, only to find that their cancer mysteriously disappears? I’ve heard a couple. They surrender to what has been, what will be, and try to make the best of things. They stop worrying about the cancer growing and killing them painfully, and for some odd reason the cancer actually does stop growing and doesn’t kill them. They sometimes then go on to live lives that inspire others, having a ball along the way, until they finally do move on to whatever the next great adventure is for them on the other side of our unavoidable big sleep.

Surrender is not curling up into a ball and muttering “Woe is me”. Surrender is accepting what is without accepting the seemingly unavoidable outcome. The biggest mistake we make when something nasty is heading our way is to freeze and wait for it. If something seems unavoidable we shouldn’t be sitting in immobile terror until it arrives. We should surrender to the fact that it could happen, do what we can to avoid it or soften the blow, and then continue to live our lives the best way that we can. The fabulous thing about this crazy life is that sometimes there are wondrous miracles waiting on the other side of happenings that appear to be certain to completely destroy us in one way or another. And sometimes even though they appear to be heading towards us just as surely as a slow train, they simply don’t happen. Either way, worrying about them is not going to stop them if they truly are unavoidable.

It’s pretty obvious that regardless of the hands we are dealt in life, no matter what anyone or anything does to us, the purpose of our lives is to do the best that we can with what we have, in order to become the best that we can be. That thing that we are—our soul—our very I—is all that we get to take with us when the party is over, and the point is to make that thing that we are the most wonderful thing that it can be. Sometimes what we have is painful, awful, or seemingly too much to bear, but the truth is that we were built to bear hard things. They make us grow where it counts—in our hearts and souls. It’s true what they say—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but only if you surrender without giving up.

You surrender to your reality of the sourest lemons you could imagine, hitting you in the face, and then you can see what you can make of them. You don’t waste any of your time hating them for giving you a black eye—how could that possibly help you? Never mind lemonade—you’re going to try and make the sweetest, most opulent pie on the planet with those nasty little sods that were sent your way to make you lie down and expire from the very nastiness of them. If they’re just too horrible to transform, then walk away from them if you can, and see if there are any cherry trees on the distant horizon—there usually are. Start walking, no matter how far away those trees are, no matter how sore your feet are, keep walking. Those sweet cherries will always be worth the effort.

The sooner that we learn that nobody on this planet owes us anything, and that no matter how terrible the things are that other people have done to us, we always have the choice of surrendering to what is behind us—even when it’s only one minute behind us—and deciding to take the first step to something better. Not only is it a choice, it’s a necessity. It’s why we’re here. It’s not our job to suffer, powerlessly waiting for the next blow, or worrying about the next disaster. There is nothing we can do to change what has happened or been done, but at any second we honestly can decide to stop giving our thoughts, time, life, to anything negative that can’t be changed.

No matter how tiny the step to making that sweet pie is, you will find that there are forces all around much more powerful than those nasty little ones that send you those thoughts of a terrifying future, and those good guys are just waiting for your baby step so that they can help you turn it into a mighty, unstoppable stride on the journey to your best possible future. You are the only one that can begin it though. You have to surrender all the negativity, all the thoughts of hatred of self or others—ditch the self-pity no matter how much you think you are entitled to it. Focus on those cherries and inch your foot just a tiny bit towards what you want. No matter how out of reach it might seem right now, you will be surprised when you find that when you focus with belief on whatever scrap of good you can see, it will grow faster than you can imagine, and soon you will wonder what you were worrying about in the first place. You will be amazed at your own power for good, and that the truth really is that the harder you think about something, the more likely it is to happen. Even great things.

Sometimes really, really bad things happen to people, sometimes for their whole lives. This is usually because that when they were little they learned to expect only negative outcomes. So they take these beliefs into their adult lives, and always anticipating the worst, the worst consistently shows ups in their realities. Even when they do read books or articles on the power of the positive, they just can’t do it. That’s because deep down they really don’t believe it. They feel undeserving of good things because they were educated from their first conscious thought that they truly didn’t deserve anything good, or even what the world would see as a normal human right. They probably acted out because the soul always knows that the true way of life shouldn’t be full of evil happenings. So their buried guilt from their own responses to pain just reinforces their belief that they are going to get what’s coming to them forever, and that what’s coming will always hurt them.

It’s not easy to surrender those beliefs, and sometimes even harder to surrender guilt. It’s hard to break out of a lifetime habit of anxiety and depression with a happy thought or two. So even when you do make the decision that you want better for yourself whether you “deserve” it or not, in some cases that first tiny step—that first action towards a brighter finish to your life—is much harder than running a marathon. Work is sometimes needed. The painful work of self-acceptance—self love. There is a lot of help with getting your mind healed enough to put your foot forward though. Read You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay, just about anything by Marianne Williamson, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brenė Brown, and most importantly, have a look at what you really are inside.

Dive into your own shadows within, and realise that every single one of us has to fail in order to understand what failure is. We have to feel remorse in order to know that what we have done is wrong. We have to understand that the most important thing to understand about ourselves is that it’s OK to fall. It’s normal to be damaged when people have damaged us. And it’s OK to heal ourselves and move on from anything—literally anything—negative and eventually find that we like ourselves. That warts and all we think we’re cool. We surrender all that horrible past, we give our past selves a large and loving hug, and we tell them it’s going to be OK now—we love them no matter what’s been done to them—no matter what they have done—we’re going to drive the bus from here, but they can come out for another hug whenever they want to, but without a doubt this bus is heading towards love, happiness, and the joy of acceptance of good things now. Even when dark clouds form on the horizon again—as they always do—we’re going to shift up a gear in the knowledge that sometimes dark clouds don’t mean a bad storm, and that even when the storm really does come, screeching, howling, blowing off roofs, and uprooting trees, it always passes, and sometimes there are rainbows on the other side. Always try to surrender the lemons and make a slow cherry pie instead. Sometimes one tiny baby step is all that you need to begin to make your ending fabulous.

Your life is meant for you to live it the way you choose. Giving up is a choice. Never take it. Surrender the evil behind you, or where you are now, and hold on tightly to the light ahead, even when all you can see is a tiny pinprick of it.

Rainbow

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Book Promo & Trailer – 9 Books for Christmas…

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Thank you dear Furry Ape Friend!

Free Book and Free Photos

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A fabulous freebie for Christmas from a very talented author and photographer.

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

Free Book and PhotosTo celebrate the holidays this year, my book,Better Blogging with Photography is FREE beginning today through Dec. 25th.

If you are new to my blog and interested in learning more about using images wisely on your blog or website, then download it today! For more information, please click here.

I was extremely pleased to see a brand new, 5-star review posted on December 4 (my birthday!) by a new reader. He writes:

This is perfect for a new blogger like me because the author lays out her tips very clearly and I was able to make changes to my new website. My website already feels more professional and I have a better idea how to attract more visitors now.

After the free promotion ends, the book will be permanently priced at 99 cents!

While we are on the subject of photography, I loaded more FREE PHOTOS into my…

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A Busy Week and Purple Fingernails

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Myrtle and Cynthia zooming around.

Cynthia Reyes

Accepting a blogger friend’s challenge, I painted my nails purple to attend the Festival of the Arts in Cobourg, Ontario last weekend.

Blog Photo - Myrtle Purple NailsOf course, my friend won the challenge hands-down (hands-up?) because in this picture, she’s also wearing a purple shirt! 

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Mandy and Purple Nails

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I’m a volunteer with the Festival and it was a great success! Painters, photographers, authors, actors, musicians and others shared their talent with enthusiastic audiences.

Blog Photo - Festival Marie-Lynn playing guitarBlog Photo - Pat Calder Stall at FestivalBlog Photo - Festival Mandy Bing paintingsBlog Photo - Festival Book FairBlog Photo - Festival Sharon Ramsay CurtisBlog Photo - Festival Kim aubrey readingBlog Photo - SOTH Festival Performers

Blog Photo - SOTH Festival gifts for Chairs
Above 6 photos by Hamlin Grange

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In the photo just above, publisher Jennifer Bogart(right) and I are presenting gifts to Felicity Sidnell Reid (left) and Susan Statham (2nd from right), the hard-working co-chairs of the Festival’s organizing committee.  

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It’s also been a great ‘Myrtle week’.  I dropped into A Different Booklist  – one of Toronto’s best-known book stores. Owners Itah and Miguel introduced me to customers Shay Lin (holding a copy of Myrtle), an international student from China, and Qing, her mother.

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Myrtle the Purple Turtle

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Myrtle the Purple Turtle

Myrtle the Purple Turtle is the first, of I hope will be many, children’s books in the Weaverback Press stable. I’ll tell you more about Weaverback soon.

This is a very special story, and is already doing great things. Children all over are absolutely loving it, and it has had only glowing reviews, as well as lots of wonderfully complimentary communications with Cynthia from top educators and librarians. There is so much hatred and cruelty in this world of ours, and sometimes we unintentionally teach our children that any kind of different to what we are is not quite right. It’s not always easy to show our children that we are actually all just the same, and little ones get hurt all the time for being different in all sorts of different ways. Cynthia has made it a lot easier with her little purple love. Apart from the educational power of this story, it is a tale of love and of friendship that all can enjoy for what it is—a wonderful childhood adventure.


I fell in love with Myrtle the very first time I read through the story. My heart broke a little when the mean turtle laughed at her simply because she was purple, and then her fabulous mother and friends healed it right up again for me. Myrtle’s creator, Cynthia Reyes, had sent it over to me with a view to me illustrating it. I really wanted to do it, but as I had never before illustrated a whole book before it was most definitely a leap of faith for both of us. It’s odd being terrified of taking something on at the same time as just knowing that it’s meant to be. As things turned out, Myrtle became real right out of the gates. She must have been hanging around in the ether since she was first dreamed into being by Cynthia many years ago, and become even more real as Cynthia and her lovely family told and retold Myrtle’s tale.


The entire process has been a learning curve for all of us, but Myrtle actually taught me a major lesson. I’m confident with my writing ability—that is definitely my comfort zone, and I can’t think of any part of anything to do with writing that frightens me in any way—I love all of it. I’m also confident with my work with putting books together and getting them published for Indie authors. That stuff all takes me to my happy place, but art was another animal altogether. I’ve always loved it, but have never, ever attended any sort of art class—not even at school level. As a teenager I had it in my head that any “real” artist should be able to paint anything from straight out of their head, and that what they produced should be pretty much photographic quality. I, on the other hand, loved drawing dragons, fairies, and Disney folk and flora, which ornate as they were, didn’t strike me as proper art at all. Then Myrtle arrived and showed me that putting the adventures of gorgeous little purple turtles into images in the pages of real books is most certainly art, and she is very real to me, bless her little purple heart.


I was hoping, as I completed the final image in the book of Myrtle and her friends heading off to the big pond, that that wouldn’t be the last I’d see of her, and I’m very, very pleased to tell you that Cynthia has let me know that not only will there be a French translation very shortly, but also another adventure for Myrtle and friends early in 2018. I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next!


Below is the story of how Myrtle came to be.

Cynthia has two daughters. One day her four year old daughter Lauren came home crying.
She had brought her “Cabbage Patch®” doll, Quentin, to nursery school, but the other children refused to play with Lauren and him because of Quentin’s skin colour.
The children had never seen a dark-skinned doll before, and thought he was dirty.
Lauren, who also has brown skin, felt hurt.
Quentin used to go everywhere with her, and slept on her bed beside her. Now, she would not bring Quentin anywhere with her.
Cynthia, her husband Hamlin, and older daughter Nikisha all tried to comfort Lauren, but she was still hurt. So Cynthia made up a story about a turtle who was purple (purple was Lauren’s favourite colour).
Myrtle the Purple Turtle became a favourite story in the family. With each telling, the family helped improve the story through their questions and suggestions. Myrtle the Purple Turtle served as an effective way for the family to talk about differences in not only skin colour, but several other differences as well.
Weeks before Christmas, Lauren surprised the family by requesting “a black doll” as her gift. Such dolls were so rare back then, that the story of the family’s difficult search and ultimate success was featured in Canada’s largest newspaper, The Toronto Star, and revisited in a follow-up story in 2015.
Cynthia and her family decided to publish the story of Myrtle to give parents, grandparents, and teachers a way to talk to children about difference.

Click on the cover image to buy your copy of Myrtle, and visit Cynthia’s website to find out more about this awesome lady and her fabulous turtle.

 

New Things

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Busy Birds
Busy Birdies

After this past year of epic chaos interestingness, I am happy to say that  I have learned a lot, and strangely, even the really unpleasant lessons are now showing me their value – retrospect is a fine thing indeed. Now, tempered to the strength of old boots, while hopefully not looking too much like one of them, I am happy to say that there is quite a lot of fabulousness to come over the next few weeks. Beginning with the epic launch in the next weeks of the beginning of her public life, Cynthia Reyes’ amazing Myrtle the Purple Turtle, closely followed by some unadulterated genius of science-fiction by the one and only Joelle LeGendre there is a lot coming up – all happy and wonderful beginnings from some very talented people.

I’ve made sure this time, that failing the actual end of the world (wasn’t that supposed to be today by the way? – ah well – maybe later – the day is still young) no internet or other problems will be tolerated. Calmness rules now….mostly…..ahem.

Zen Birdie
Zen Birdie

I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs while being mostly in internet darkness. I have found ways, which include zooming around the bush, swearing in ways that only writers can, in my car holding my laptop out of the window looking for signal, to ensure that the important things don’t get lost or undone because of internet devils ever again. I’ve mainly concentrated on work, such as illustrating, editing, proofing and so on over the past months, relegating my social media activity to the last place in the line – obviously focusing on making sure that I don’t let any of my authors down with the surreal things that have happened to try and knobble me – that red guy with the tail and fork kind of overplayed his hand though – it’s impossible for those kinds of problems to win when you’re looking at them and giggling hysterically – hah!

First up. Look out for Myrtle’s introduction here in the next day or two, where I will share the story of how she came to be, and the amazing woman who created her, together with her wonderful and inspiring family, and the honour and pleasure of being allowed to bring that gorgeous little turtle to life with illustration. I will tell all in Myrtle and Cynthia’s own post though – I’m just saying Hi Again to all of you lovely bloggers with this one. Hiiii there guys!!!

Myrtle the Purple Turtle

 

My WIP – Tales from the Irish Garden- with Illustrations by Donata Zawadzka

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A wonderful tale, as only Sally Cronin can weave, and a gorgeous illustration by Donata Zawadzka – fabulous!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I first published the following story in February of this year and at the time Donata Zawadzka had just been introduced to me by Paul Andruss.  Tales from the Irish Garden was just a twinkle in my eye, but I was already writing some stories down to be included.

Eight months on and I am delighted to say that Donata has now produced four wonderful illustrations that I will be using as part of the artwork for the collection. Because I loved this illustration so much, I have also bought the original to use in the book with this story.

Tales from the Irish Garden, follows on from Tales from the Garden which was set in Madrid Queen Filigree will be forced to relocate from her home in the sun in Spain to her cousin’s kingdom in Ireland… expect some misadventures along the way. New characters such as…

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