Life

A Couple of Questions and Cover Reveal

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After a couple of very ‘educational” years, and a whole lot of stress every time I happened to think about my unfinished work, and also my as yet unpublished books lying around gathering dust, I’ve come out the other side quite happy that I did not in fact publish them when I wanted to. It would not have been fun, and publishing a book should always be fun. After a couple of health scares to the point where I assumed that I was on the verge of departing this mortal coil, and stressing over every little thing, I finally realized that not only have I no intention of expiring any time soon, living in fear of the future, the present, or the past, is absolutely useless to anyone. So I decided that as far as my health was concerned, I was going to go herbal, and as far as anything scary was concerned, I was going to go eyeball to eyeball with whatever came up and see who caved first. So far I feel great health-wise with the herbals, and my inner critic and her cohort, the craven one, have gone into hiding. Which is why I am particularly happy that I never got around to publishing my non-fiction book, The Secret Life of People, because I had yet to figure out the final chapter by living it. Now it is almost ready to make its debut and I am more excited about it than anything else I’ve ever written. There are a couple of things I’d like to get a few people’s beliefs on, so I’d be grateful for any answers to the questions below. If you don’t want to put your opinions in the comments I would really appreciate an email via the contact me button above.

Other news is that Cynthia Reyes and her daughter Lauren’s Myrtle the Purple Turtle has already begun her third adventure, and it is, of course, just as fabulous as that little turtle’s adventures always are. I’m getting caught up quicker than I thought possible and very happy that my online friends are still going strong, and also still talking to me after my long absence. Here goes with the questions.

1. Do you believe that you are living a fulfilled life?
2. Do you think that people have a purpose, and if so, do you know what yours is?
3. Are you satisfied with the way the world and your country is governed?
4. Do you think that civilised societies today are on the right track?
5. If you work, are you happy with your job?
6. If money was no object, what would you do with your days?
7. Do you believe in life after death or reincarnation?
8. Do you believe that there will be consequences for good or evil acts?
9. Do you or someone that you know have problems with anxiety or depression?

Thank you!

 

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Gimme Dat, Gimme Dat Tomato

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Meet Sheldon, the guy formerly known as “EEEK BIG SCARY LIZARD – RUN AWAYYY!!!” Turns out he’s just a sweet fellow looking for friends, if a little needy.

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His favourite things to eat turn out to be tomatoes, and not me. When I first arrived he would be there, outside, when I opened the door. I wasn’t a fan until my friend Leana, who owns this magical farm, told me that they’re harmless even though large. So now he heads over for munchies regularly and I think he’s pretty cool. Sheldon – needy – hangs around at doors – see what I did there? Always been a fan of most lizards.

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Not this guy so much! He fell THROUGH the thatch roof. Luckily he didn’t land on anyone. He’s just a constrictor – not venomous, but snakes are best avoided in general I reckon.

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It’s taken me ages to settle down. This year has been pretty crazy, and all my attempts so far at getting back to regular blogging have failed dismally. It’s been busy lately too, but in good ways, and finally slowing down to mild panic rather than insane terror, so I’m hopeful. I’ve started writing fiction again after almost a year of not being able to tackle anything other than non-fiction. I’m going to wait till December/January before I publish anything, even though I do have a couple of things ready to go. The next few months is just going to be about remembering to breathe again, and catching up. Or rather looking ahead, because everything is new now.

The feathered horde have made it through unscathed, if a little ruffled at times. They really didn’t like the big move at all, but are happy little bunnies again. Lots of new places to get into and hang upside down on.

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I’ve been flat out catching up with work, so I haven’t been able to explore outside at all yet, but I’ve got a couple of pics of things happening around and about directly outside my window – shot through the window panes so don’t expect fabulous photography with these ones. I’m looking forward to slowing down now, and taking it all in after the wild ride that this year has been. Where I live now is about as close to paradise for me can get. Lots of horizon to look at, and filled with fabulous critters again.

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The little fellow above is called a Dassie. There are loads of them zooming around the rocks all day long. Apparently their closest relative is the elephant. More to come on them though – I reckon they have agendas.

Balls and Alarums

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Back – again. Finding equilibrium comes in stages I think. Happily, I seem to be finding mine now, and getting used to this new life I’m finding my way to. The Horde are also just settling down properly too, and I’m only now seeing how much their poor little feathers must have been ruffled with it all. Jelly’s exploring properly for the first time, and they’re all getting back to their old crazy selves. The seed ball that I got for them that I thought I’d get major kudos for instantly became the Birdy Horde Destroying Scary Thing of DOOM. Talk about alarums and excursions. So that terrifying thing is going outside to scare the wildlife away instead.

Seed Ball

Finally, every day isn’t always a bad hair day anymore, and happy has slunk back up from the basement, supplying laughter and joy once again. I thought that my writing would have changed somehow, but I think it’s still the same old scribbling, from the same places. I see now that we can’t ever say what will happen. No matter what we do, or what our intentions on, our lives will take the courses that they have to, so we may as well enjoy the ride regardless.

My intentions were to be zooming around blogland a lot more than I have been, and that’s still what they are. So let zooming commence. I’m going to take baby steps getting back up to speed with the zooming though. I’m going to aim for three posts a week, and my Epic Comment Catch Up of All Time trip in between. Now that I’m around and about the town a whole lot more, I reckon I’ll take a pile of photos to share of interesting things and people around here. So, with a bit of luck – and elbow grease, I shall see you all in the land of blog all the time again.

 

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

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Yargh – crap! I mean that in a very literal sense. I have over 8 000 email notifications built up from my absence still left to open, and strangely, rather than being a massive chore it’s been more like opening pressies every time. I love what I do, and I love the friends I have now, and I love the new books, and reviews, and meltdowns, and celebrations, and every little thing you all share. Love all of you. Apart from the trolls of course – nobody thinks that you rotten, vicious little asses are cool. Anyway.

So, back to the crap. Getting Bella the puppy was a really big deal for me. Because I spend so much time on my own I wanted to get a dog. The feathered horde head off to bed at sundown, and apart from anything else there have been some really nasty housebreaking attacks around here, so a dog is really a must – and maybe a tazer now that I’ve sold my 9mm Browning. Or maybe I’ll just get another. I’m not into violence, but after what I’ve seen in the papers about what’s been done to innocent grannies and little girls, I’ll be more than comfortable taking a vicious murderer down.

Again – back to the crap. Sorry for the side route. Bella has totally ignored all of her official puppy toys – feet, magazine racks, the couch, and all sorts of other things are much more fun to chew apparently. She is the sweetest, cleverest little soul though – apart from the crapping, as I said. There are bits of you name it all over the house. It’s been raining, so she’s covered in mud – me too – and the carpets. This has the feathered horde behaving incredibly badly though, and I’m really worried that someone is going to get munched.

They reckon that her bed is the place to be. Her food has obviously been stolen from them, and they’ve all been bouncing on her head at every opportunity to reclaim it. Little buggers – I thought that I would have to protect my innocent birds from a possibly marauding dog but it turns out that the dog is the one who needs protection. The feathery little guys are absolute barbarians and bullies! I’m going to have to be totally on the ball all the time to make sure that none of them get accidentally noshed. So.

I’m hoping to get back to my scribbling in a day or two, editing and checking of published scribbles at the top of the list, but more than anything I can’t wait to zone out again and immerse myself in Shadow People two and three. I’m seriously considering ditching marketing totally, and just having fun with my blogger and twitter buddies, and writing – just writing for the love of it.

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Eek, Screech, Rush Up A Tree

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Procrastination can lead to terrible stress. I haven’t had the time to procrastinate recently, but after the last couple of weeks of wall to wall stressful happenings, I started to get a little concerned about the old cortisol levels. Not fond of cortisol.

Cortisol occurs naturally in your body. It’s the “Fight or Flight” hormone. This is usually a good guy. Just say you were moseying innocently down the road, humming a little tune, when all of a sudden a large gibbering hyena (I do live in Africa, so…) fell off the back of a truck right on top of you, teeth all gnashing, and looking you right in the eyeball with malice aforethought. Your brain sends an instant message to your body that it’s time to run like hell, your cortisol levels head for the roof, and off you lope to hopeful safety, after extricating yourself from beneath that huge hairy chest, with superhuman strength. After spending a little time cooling off in the dumpster you leapt in to cower in till the beast moved on, your hormones settle, and you smilingly head off to your local to tell your friends how you beat that thing into submission with your handbag, over a nice glass of wine. The end.

Sometimes though, if a person goes through prolonged periods of repeated stress, it appears that the body takes over, and thinks that it’s in danger all the time. This can lead to chronic and debilitating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder being an example. Once you get to this point it’s incredibly difficult to stop the cycle, although many people do, quite a lot live their lives in constant fear. A few years ago life in my little spot of Africa was stressful to say the least, pretty much for most waking hours, seven days a week. Added to that quite a few other random, but pretty horrible, bits of nastiness, and I found myself experiencing some really alarming symptoms. A nebulous feeling of utter terror, heart palpitations, inability to breathe, dizziness, and uncontrollable shaking to name a few. In the beginning they would come on for a specific reason, be it a small fright, or a large problem, but they always receded for a while. Then after about a year of this, they stayed. This was how I felt from the moment I woke up till the moment I went to sleep, for around six months straight. Often I thought that the grim reaper was at the door.

I didn’t have a clue what was wrong with me. I’d never been one to scare easily before. After a lot of research (there was no way I was going to tell anyone – they’d think I was nuts!), I realised that I’d been having panic attacks. Panic attacks that had now decided to hang around as a permanent thing. Cortisol levels so high that your body is always ready to fight or flee, and your mind is looking desperately around for the danger when there isn’t one at all. It’s a rotten way to feel, and no way for anyone to live. I for one was absolutely not prepared to anyway. So I researched some more, and after quite a couple of months of fairly difficult mental and physical exercises, I got a grip on myself. I won’t bore you with the details, but at the end of all that, I found myself in a better place than I had ever been in my life. I felt really strong, and that’s the way I’ve felt for quite a few years now. Now I’m mainly happy, positive, and ready to face whatever life brings on – good or bad. Of course I get stressed sometimes. That’s natural, but I’m not the tiny ball of fright that I was for a while back then. I’ll never be that person again, but I do recognise the signs that you could allow to push you over the edge if you don’t know how bad your destination could be.

Any sort of fear will nobble you if you let it hang around. Fear that you’re incapable. Fear that you’re helpless. No matter how civilized we think we are, we all still operate on instinct. Unless you force your mind to really be in charge of your trip, you could experience really horrible feelings that you shouldn’t need to feel. I’m not suggesting that you hop over the fence at the zoo and say “Hi kitty!” to a panther, but very often things will pop up in life that appear to be daunting, terrifying, insurmountable, but only a tiny few really are.

I like to look at these things nowadays, and ask myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”, and unless the worst involves the death or injury of someone or something I love, I pull up my sleeves and try to fix what is or appears to be wrong. I’m not talking about the really hurt people here. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. I just mean people who have fairly happy lives, that sometimes crumble when confronted with really tough life challenges. Apart from the innocents so damaged in childhood, or the people that have been abused by real monsters in their adult lives, and also those with chemical imbalances in their brains that only medication can heal, we all have the power to face whatever demon happens to pop his nasty face into our lives. Strength always comes if you really mean to call on it. So…

I didn’t mean to launch into a medical saga, neither am I qualified to, apart from my own experiences, but who knows, this might be a tiny help to anyone who wonders why they always think that the sky is about to fall on their heads. As an end to this holding forth, I have to also mention that among other really bad effects on the human body, too much cortisol also slows down your metabolism – conserving energy in a dangerous situation – so when you are in this state, you’ll also likely pick up weight around your middle.

Bad things do happen. Really horrible things happen to all of us at some point. It’s part of life I think. But apart from beasties falling off trucks, or real and visible dangers, no thought or fear should ever be allowed to harm you.

Till next time friends.

Sndwn

Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil

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I don’t suppose that really bad people think that they’re really bad. It occurs to me occasionally that I could be quite a horrible individual, and just not realise it. I don’t know what goes on in others minds, and equally nobody knows what goes on in mine. Nobody’s perfect, and I doubt that any person on their deathbed will say, “Well now. Wasn’t this trip just a bed of roses?” I know that I’m far from perfect. I make stupid decisions. When I lose my temper things generally don’t go well for me, so I try not to. I don’t always get it right, and I often get the wrong end of the stick anyway, so sometimes some poor soul gets a totally undeserved earful. This is a huge flaw in my character. Looking at your own faults is the most difficult thing to do. A few years ago though, the universe lobbed a couple of things at me. I tend to take notice of things being lobbed at me.

One of these things was a book called “The Road Less Travelled” by M Scott Peck. He was a psychiatrist who seemed to know not only the human brain, but quite a bit about the human soul too. He shows you how to confront and deal with life’s challenges, look within, and avoid avoidance. This book had a huge impact on me. It was like a massive slap in the face, directly followed by the most loving of embraces to make it better. That’s when I decided to try and live my life as simply as possible. I don’t mean simple as in eating lentils every day or going without things. My road to self realisation will never include giving up chocolate, champers, or some of my other slightly wicked habits. I meant to make my life simple by being honest with myself, accepting blame for things in my life that up to that point I had been blaming others for, seeing the truth in situations as best I could, and looking properly at every thing that came my way. Once you get over the actually quite painful process of looking back over every inch of your life, owning, accepting, and being genuinely sorry for the things that you have done wrong, and also accepting and forgiving the things that have been done to you, you find yourself in the most astoundingly happy place. Suddenly you don’t want to do anything wrong. You don’t want to inflict hurt on others, and you find yourself able to deal with any little thing that comes your way.

I’ve slipped a lot lately, I think, so I’m trying to haul myself back on to the peace train now. One thing I don’t do though, is lie. I like people to know that about me, and I really have very little time for people who do. Why waste a second of my life on a liar? The only time I’ll stretch the truth is if telling it would hurt someone. Otherwise, I believe that life is far too short to make up crap. I’m still working on turning the other cheek and controlling my temper. Got a long way to go with that one. I’m not ever going to go out of my way to be vengeful when someone hurts me, because I know that that’s a slippery slope, and these things always come back to bite you. At the same time, being a doormat is only going to get you stood on. You have to stand up for yourself. Without being nasty. You also have to have the courage to stand up for the things you believe in. I know that I’ll never be perfect. I’ll slip and fall. And sometimes I’ll do the wrong things. But I also know what’s good about myself. I try never to hurt and to always forgive. I hope I don’t sound like a pompous ass here. I’m just trying to say that that balances things out, because no matter how the world perceives me, I know that I’m coming from a truthful place, and that’s the only thing that needs to matter to me.

Till next time friends. xxx

http://www.amazon.com/The-Road-Less-Travelled-ebook/dp/B009EQG80W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1367559739&sr=1-1&keywords=The+road+less+travelled+by+m+scott+peck