So far recently, every time I’ve thought that I would be back to blogging often, some weird and terrible thing has happened. Lots of bad things. Now I’m sure that I will be back, even though that’s not to say that everything is all unicorns dancing on moonbeams for me, I’m OK, happy, and I’ve finally realised that change, no matter how toothy and scary it appears at the time, is best embraced and worked with rather than fought with. Change can be beautiful when viewed over your shoulder I think—the trick is to keep on moving no matter what and believe that it will be. Life is often about hard choices, and sometimes life can be so hard that the choice becomes whether to stay upright and carry on walking at all through that terror-filled valley or to find a suitably large rock to hide behind for the duration.
Problem with the rock is that the longer you stay with it the longer you stay in the valley. I reckon too that if you do spend a whole long time quivering in fear behind it, wondering how to get rid of the bulls-eye on your forehead and the sign on your back that says “Kick Me Really Hard All The Time”, you get to thinking that you’ve missed your chance altogether. That’s never true—it’s never too late. The hardest two parts about getting through to the sunshine are probably getting rid of that feeling of waiting for the next disaster, believing that of course more horribleness is surely on the way, and secondly believing that you deserve all horribleness issued to you anyway because you really are not only not fabulous, but you could indeed be the very epitome of anti-fabulousness.
Not easy peasy, but once you transform that rotten duo of beliefs, you might just be able find the rest of the trip not as petrifying as you imagined, and quite a lot of fun. Of course, some people’s valleys aren’t quite so deep and dark, but even though all people will have some level of tribulation in their lives, not all are properly equipped to deal with it depending on what they’ve learned one way or another, so I’m feeling quite excited about my upcoming non-fiction projects. Yes—finally! Late, yes, but at least not never. More on that and also epically late fiction launches to follow.
The past couple of years have been pretty surreal, and I’m really grateful to have actually not totally crumbled and expired. The worst happened this year when I lost one of my feathered horde, who those of you who have followed this blog for several years will know are my constant, very, very much beloved companions and fabulous feathered joy blessings. Little Button zoomed off to await the rest of us in Heaven. The worst thing is the way Jelly still mourns him. Those two little guys used to have the most appalling fights—feathers literally flew—but still, weeks and weeks after the fact, Jelly refuses to go to the places where they sat together, and would not bath in their bath either. I eventually threw it away, and now he will only bath in my cupped palms under running water. He looks at the ceiling fan that was Button’s domain, with a proper look of hope that his buddy will be there, and cried too, for a long time while holding on to one of my fingers very tightly with his tiny claw. I’ve never seen an animal grieve the way Jelly has, but it has taught me that without any shadow of a doubt, those of God’s creatures who we bring into our lives and love so much, will most certainly not “just die”. We will most certainly see them on the other side. I was going to post a RIP Button tribute, but as with when Angus died I couldn’t do it, those things just make everyone cry. I will instead be posting more photies of the whole horde in future regardless of “where” they are. Just the happy guys that they are should be shared. We place too much emphasis on mourning when we lose a love to what we see as the grim reaper, when I believe now that we should rather focus on the joy of their lives, and the knowledge that they really are in another place now—a good place—looking forward to seeing us again. Death is just a doorway, not an ending. It’s our job to move on positively, enjoy the time we have left here, and be as productive, helpful, and loving as we can while we do so.
Weirdly, even though the thought of my little yellow angel is still like a hot knife through my heart, after a couple of weeks of thinking that I would expire too from the pain of his absence, his death kicked me right out of my own weird head thing. Sometimes when the worst thing that you can think of happens, you have to either move forward with joy—or give up and camp out in the valley, forever in pain and misery. So moving on to new things for my horde and I. New things for Jelly will have to be found to take his mind off the past. New joys, and sometimes sadness too, but never hiding too long again behind anything.
I keep in mind now that when you expect only the horrible, the horrible is exactly what you will get. I’ve made a couple of fabulous discoveries—one especially, astoundingly simple, and almost instantly healing—all of which I’m very hard at work compiling into books for this year. Lots of fabulous publishing and design projects have been coming my way from my fabulous Indie authors. Thank you to all of you for your support, for allowing me to work with you on all of your wonderful books, and for your patience the couple of times I dived behind a rock or had a couple thrown at me.
When the trials of life do delay you one way or another, remember that it’s never too late to get moving again. Even if you drop some of your luggage on your way through your wilderness, that’s not always a bad thing, when you walk through the darkness concentrating on the light ahead, often there is a wonderful blue sky waiting for when you take that first step towards the exit of that valley.
A couple of my books will be free around now for the next couple of days. Right now African Me is, so if you fancy it just click on the cover image to zoom over to Amazon for download. While you’re there Sands of Time is also free if you like wild romps with dragons and chatty spacecraft.
Sorry I’ve been gone so long. I didn’t want to share a whole lot of self-pity and grief here, and after today I’m not going to in the future either. It’s been six weeks since Angus passed away, but it feels like a lifetime ago, so much has changed. I’ve discovered that emotions I’ve believed I’ve fully felt before were really just the tips of icebergs, and that sometimes when you fall and think that no one can halt your plummet, and that you’ll never stop going down, that there are hands that will catch you, and hold you tight until you find the strength to stand again. So now here I am – standing again.
I’m not afraid of dying anymore, because now I know for sure that that isn’t the end at all, and I also know without a doubt that after all my years of intellectually studying the religions of the world, and referring to whatever lay beyond as “The Universe” that I was wrong. God is all around, and so are a whole lot of His angels. I can honestly tell you that He buys you books, finds you parking, and fixes broken washing machines, and a whole lot more that you wouldn’t expect from Him. Don’t worry – I’m not going to start preaching at you. It’s just nice to know, and I’m truly grateful for His very direct and impossible to call coincidence approach these past weeks. It’s all been a bit miraculous.
Angus passed instantly, and I’m absolutely positive that he felt no pain. We had no inkling that he had any problems with his heart, and he generally bounced around like a horse. He was sitting on the chair next to mine drinking his coffee when he said that he felt faint and that was literally the end. I “felt” him leave, and I knew that he never left alone. There is absolutely no doubt in my heart and mind that he is alive and well in another room in this incredible realm of our existence with a whole lot of others already there. There you go – end of preaching.
And now on with living – because it’s important, and we’re supposed to enjoy it. I think that every little thing that we do is important in the grand old scheme of things. We spend so much of our time worrying about things that may never happen. M Scott Peck had a thing that he’d say to his patients when they were fearful or worried. He said that when those feelings arose that they should ask themselves what they’d be doing right then if they weren’t really busy being scared. The answers were always doing something that brought pleasure. The solution, he said, was to just start doing the happy thing.
Right now I’m trying to find my bearings as far as earning my crust is concerned – not overly keen on doing the whole starving and camping out under a tree thing with my feathered and furred horde – but I’m getting there as far as ideas go, so hold thumbs. I’m sure that I have more emails than the Dalai Lama, so please be patient with me while I get stuck in and catch up again. It’s good to be back here with you lovely guys again – I’ve missed you all and hope to be back to zooming.
Farewell my Angus – till we meet again.
Thank you so much to my much loved friend and talented author Sally Cronin, for being my guest here today to introduce her new book, Tales from the Garden. It’s full of wonderful, and sometimes wistful tales, as well as gorgeous photos. It’s joyful to move to exciting new climes but also a little sad to leave behind old friends. This is a beautiful book. I’ve been dipping into it now and will review later, but already I recommend it heartily. I’ll be back to normal transmission here tomorrow by the way, and catch up with comments, but for now Sally’s in charge. Over to you Sal!
Tales From The Garden – Behind the scenes – by Sally Cronin
My deep thanks to my friend Jo for hosting me today. Also for all her support over the last two years for my blog and other projects that I have been working on.
We are leaving our house here in the mountains at some point as soon as we have sold it and will be returning to Ireland and dare I say; more rain than I care to mention. The realisation that I would have to leave this beautiful mountain garden with sun filled summers and dry and sometimes snowy winters; was the inspiration behind the stories that are a record of all the features that I have come to love. Tales from the Garden began as a weekly short story series but the response was so positive I decided to publish as a permanent record. This is particularly important as many of the statues are simply too heavy to move and will have to remain with a new family that they will watch over.
Until the spring of this year we had a wonderful gardener who came in three times a week for a couple of hours and took care of the basics. We inherited Antonio with the house in 1999 and in total he worked in this garden for 47 years. He used to be a beekeeper up in the hills where the wild flowers add such a delicate flavour to the local honey. However, his wife’s ill health resulted in a need to work part-time and close to home. Hence our great luck in having him as a permanent part of the family. At age 82 he decided that he would like to retire. After issuing strict instructions about the lavish care he expected for this garden he had cared about for nearly 50 years; he left us to find our own green thumbs.
Our dog Sam arrived with me from Ireland by car in 2003 when I moved across permanently. He took to Antonio immediately and they would spend all morning in the garden together. Sam would supervise the watering, picking of the tomatoes, chasing of squirrels and general mischief making. The garden is the quieter for both their departures, although I sometimes feel eyes on me from Sam’s favourite bush behind the pool house!
Sam features in the book of course despite already having his own autobiography. He is The Last Emperor and is one of the stories that I found the most difficult to write. Here he is in his imperial glory.
Tales from the Garden is a collection of fairy stories and 80 illustrations, for children of all ages, from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.
The tales reveal the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees and you will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories.
The guardians who have kept this sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.
The book is available at a substantial discount via my own website: http://moyhill.com/tales
Also at Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0180Q6CKM
About Sally Cronin
Sally Cronin spent a number of years in each of the following industries – Retail, Advertising and Telecommunications, Radio & Television; and has taken a great deal of inspiration from each.
She has written short stories and poetry since a very young age and contributed to media in the UK and Spain. In 1996 Sally began studying nutrition to inspire her to lose 150 lbs and her first book, Size Matters published in 2001, told the story of that journey back to health. This was followed by another seven books across a number of genres including health, humour and romance. These include Just Food For Health, Size Matters, Just an Odd Job Girl, Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, Flights of Fancy anthology, Turning Back the Clock and Media Training.
All these can be found on Amazon or smashwords.
For the last two years Sally has written a daily blog covering the subjects close to her heart including writing, health and music: Smorgasbord Invitation – Variety is the Spice of Life. You can link to it from here: smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com.
Connect to Sally on social media.
Thank you again Jo for all the support and friendship and for inviting me to guest here today.
It’s an honour to have you here Sally – thanks for being here. Friendship aside, you’re a formidable scribbler and newscaster, and for that you have my undying admiration.
This past week has been kind of life-changing. What happened in Paris has obviously changed the whole world, just as 9-11 did. Can’t just ignore it and go back to zooming around the bloggerverse. I just hope that we don’t look back at this time as the beginning of some rather bigger ending. I also hope that these insane murderous cowards get stopped in their rotten tracks once and for all, and that peace and love returns to the hearts of those so hurt in France and everywhere else too. My heart hurts for all humanity that any of us are even able to consider, let alone perpetrate such evil. Shameful, shameful.
After the initial shock, sadness set in. Sadness and disappointment. I’m not generally pro-violence, but sometimes maybe evil really does need to be violently excised. That kind of evil doesn’t deserve to live in my book. How to go back to life in the land of happy blogging with this huge worldwide pain? I have no idea. We’ll get there eventually, but we can’t pretend this didn’t happen. Life is precious, and obviously there is no guarantee of it continuing tomorrow, so I reckon that a bit of reflection and gratitude is in order now and then. Nobody will benefit from constant sadness though. Life must be lived, and has to be appreciated with joy, and the knowledge of how we should be treating our fellow man should encourage us to behave in the ways that we know we should. No matter how big the world and how many people sail on her, each and every individual act of kindness and caring counts. Best not to forget that this life, every individual life, is actually important after all, so while we do zoom around doing arbitrary daily things, we should occasionally remember that we’re probably here to learn something. I don’t think that our mission on Earth is to destroy each other, and I can’t understand the mind that would embrace such a concept. So – I’ve learned that evil is real and will find its way out under some cover or another. Evil shows us what we don’t want to be – what we don’t want in our world. I can’t imagine any God who would want this. Hopefully there’s time to stop it before it makes the whole world a very bad, bleak place.
The weather here has been insane. We’re having a drought which has now become painfully soggy. After months of intense dry heat the heavens finally opened, but not in a good way. There’s been flooding and some really terrible hail. Seems kind of obvious that Mother Nature is not a happy bunny at all. I haven’t been online much, apart from trying to practice doing that very thing on my phone – much safer with the amount of lighting we had. Such strange storms too. All hell breaks loose for about twenty minutes with fireworks and much deluge, then twenty minutes of full on sunshine, then more of the deluging and so on and again. Not cool and late-making in general. Still, the mud is welcome and the perking up trees too. More rain on the way for the next couple of days, which while cool, will hopefully be without any hailstones and smiting lightning.
Pamela Beckford publishes her 3rd solo poetry collection. Using various poetic forms she illustrates how love can set the heart on fire but also shows how that same love can turn to ashes. Poetry is an expression from deep within the soul. It can be therapeutic and healing. It can bring out all the best or the worst in life. Her poetry comes from the heart, not the head. It is an outpouring of emotion and she exposes it to the reader in the pages. She leaves a piece of her soul in every poem Reviewers have said things like:
“Pamela’s poems are refreshing since they are truly written from the heart. She has a gift of writing a poem that speaks to each person’s heart and emotions.”
“Breathtaking. That singular word – breathtaking – is the best one-word description of “Dreams of Love” by Pamela Beckford that kept coming to mind as I lingered within the pages.”
“These are not just words strung together in forms. Somehow she manages to share huge and deep emotions with two words – or one. ”
“Pamela’s poetry is diverse and creative. Lyrical without self-conscious fluff. Quiet confidence in her abilities with the various forms.”
Pamela Beckford has been writing poetry for about two years. She began writing with the encouragement of a couple of friends and has found that it has taken over her mind. She is a nonprofit CEO and enjoys reading with children on a regular basis, as well as her own reading. She lives in northern Indiana where she devotes her life to others through her job and her family.