Monday, January 16, 2017

Lessons learned in 2016

2016 was a horror of a year for me. I know many feel the exact same way. I had to learn to get along with myself. One would think after 31 years I would know myself, unfortunately no. I decided to share the hardest lessons I learned in 2016, the personal ones and the writing ones. 

It’s okay to be me
If you meet me in person you’ll quickly pick up that I’m socially awkward. I wouldn’t be sure how to keep a conversation going and would end up talking about the most absurd things. Online, probably not. At least I don’t think. But, I’m learning to accept my social awkwardness.

Enjoy reading writing books, blogs and tips, but don’t take it too seriously
I know, I know. Don’t yell at me. I’ve followed every single piece of advice to the letter. I did everything I was told will have readers notice my book and, well, I didn’t do much aside for driving myself crazy. Literarily and figuratively. I don’t think anyone really has all the answers. There’s always a part that is up to fate and that’s okay. I used to worry about not getting book reviews so much, I would trigger a migraine. Maybe my first book is not that appealing, or maybe my blurb is crappy, or maybe readers don’t like my cover. Either way, I did the best I could, and now it’s time to move on to book 2.

Stress is the enemy
When I get stressed, I feel anxious. When I’m anxious, it triggers a depression episode. So, I have to keep writing and growing my own writing business and not stress about it. Easier said than done, but I have started using adult colouring books, and surprisingly, it helps me calm down. I don’t have to be a full-time writer right now, even though that is my goal for the future. I will get there. It’s okay that I can’t make a living off my writing yet. I will someday. I know I will get there.

Life is not all or nothing
Some of us do things at a slower rate than others. That’s okay. Again, I’ve read articles and books that tell you you must have a blog and a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and whatever else account. I did all that and most days I wish I sticked to only blogging. You can have all those accounts if you don’t mind, but even having just one of the above social media accounts is enough. If you don’t accomplish every goal you set yourself once off, doesn’t make you a failure. It teaches you patience. Trust me, it’s a hard lesson to learn.

I’m more than just a writer
No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t write a sentence last year. At least not towards my second book. I made myself sick worrying that my first book was simply a fluke. As I learned to work with my anxiety, the more open minded I became. I’m by no means free of my anxiety or depression, but I know a little bit more about how to be calm and patient with myself. It’s okay to like doing other things, like reading, dancing, colouring and so forth. I didn’t always see it that way. I want to be a writer, so I have to write almost all hours of every day. Not true. If you’ve reached your writing goal for the day, go do something else that also brings you joy.

It’s okay not to be perfect
Stupid, I know, but I always pushed myself to strive for perfection in every aspect of my life. I’ve never been good at that. Do you know how hard it is for an accident prone person to achieve perfection? It’s impossible, but so is perfection. I thought that if I wrote an error-free manuscript I would feel happy. I didn’t. Besides, I still found an error, which I added after my editor gave me my final manuscript back.

Enjoy the journey
It doesn’t matter whether it is life, a road trip, or taking on the hard task of writing a book. Every word, part of the journey, must be enjoyed. Don’t tell yourself that once you do  . . . that you will take a moment to breath, or once you do . . . you will feel happy, it doesn’t work. I know, because I’ve been doing that all my life. Until recently, I didn’t know just how unhappy and harsh I was with myself. Being that unhappy is simply not worth it.

I know myself better than anyone else does
If you’re looking toward others to define you, you’re doing something wrong. Nobody will know what is right for you, or the best for you better than yourself. I know that now. Sure I look toward my siblings to tell me if certain business decisions make sense, but only I know if I’m ready to give up on writing. Only I know whether doing a career change is really what I want. Only I know how a situation makes me feel. Others can speculate, but only you know. So trust yourself. I’ve learnt not to trust myself. I used to think that it’s all, or nothing. But life isn’t like that. You can do more than one thing. Humans are complex creatures. I know I am. I love writing, but I also love watching TV. If I complete my writing goal early in the day, I can spend the rest of my day doing the other activities I like.  Trust your instincts. It’s kept you alive thus far.

If you want to live a better life, be kinder to yourself
When I first heard that I was too hard on myself, that I was bordering on mentally harming myself, I couldn’t believe it. I thought that was normal. That I was encouraging myself. Nope. I was being disrespectful and abusive toward myself. Self-destructive even. Learning to care for myself was so strange. One of the first exercises I had to do in therapy was to tell myself three good things about myself everyday, for a week. I couldn’t do it. I still have a hard time with that to this day.

Never take anything for granted
I was never focused on my health. I was arrogant to think I would always have it. In 2016 my health went downhill drastically. I’m still fighting to get it back, but I learned to be grateful for even the crappy days, as it reminds me I’m still alive. Unlike many who lost their lives in 2016. I focused so much on being a good writer, that I burnt myself out, trying to please everyone. Another task which is impossible.

So in conclusion, be kind to yourselves. At the end, you are the person you spend the most time with. Yep 2016 was a tough year, but I intend to make 2017 a much better year and actually start enjoying myself. The opposite of depression isn’t happiness, it’s living. I want to live this year. 

How about you? Did you learn any lessons in 2016?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Virgil Anderson's Story

Hello Friends. I was recently contacted by Mr. Virgil Anderson, and he asked if I would be willing to share his story with you, my lovely readers. I agreed, so here it is . . .

Mr. Anderson was born and raised in Williamson, WV.  His father, a coal miner, passed when Virgil was 8 years old. Virgil worked in demolition work and excavating since high school. This required the physical tear out, and hands on removal of asbestos containing insulation in walls, ceiling, attics and heating and cooling systems. To remove this required saws and sledge hammers all of which sent the asbestos fibers flying into the air. Unfortunately for Virgil the material had to not only be freed from its location but also picked up and carried to the disposal area. Once asbestos is disturbed it can stay in the air for 5 days. On some occasions there was a haze of dust and debris that you could actually taste in your mouth. He also came in contact with asbestos while working on his family’s farm. Virgil was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

When he was diagnosed with mesothelioma he needed immediate medical attention. He found a few websites on the internet that are supposed to help people with mesothelioma cancer but nobody got back to him.

Then he found Even though he contacted them on a Sunday one of their patient advocates gave him a call back within minutes. They gave him a great deal of helpful information on doctors and resources available to him.

As a result of their website, he is now being treated at the national cancer institute and the patient advocates have even provided him with financial assistance so he could afford a place to live during his chemotherapy. If he had not reached out to this website he would likely be homeless and more importantly in Hospice waiting to die. These people gave him his only chance at survival.
* * * *
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Virgil. Thank you for your bravery and I know my readers will agree, we all wish you well for the future.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy 2017!

Happy New Year! It is indeed a new year with new opportunities and challenges. Nevertheless, I wish everyone a year filled with good health, well deserved wealth and lots of happiness. I think you all are so deserving of it.

May 2017 be the year you accomplish all your goals.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays my friends. Thank you so much for the love and support during 2016. It has and is still helping me. Thank you for your friendship.

Wishing everyone a good time and as always, be safe. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Making a few changes

I haven't really been sure what I wanted to blog about. I feel like I'm always just going on about myself and I know what most people want is useful information:) Unfortunately, today I am once again prattling on about myself;)

So, one of the things that bothered me for months was the print version of my book, because it didn't come out as the online previewer promised. My awesome cover artist, Jennie Bennett made me a new one, for both the e-book and print. The print book came out just like I had always imagined. I am very happy:)

E-book cover 

Print cover

These covers are exactly what I had always dreamed of. It is drastically different from the original, but if it makes any sense, it is a lot more "me" and closer to my vision for the series. 

Book two is still waiting patiently in the wings to be completed, but I am chipping away at it word by word, everyday, so to my Thelum Series fans, do not worry. It will get done.

* I have decided to offer my freelancing skills to the public and one of the tabs on my blog above, indicate that I am can now write for you, my dear readers as well. If you don't want to write your own blog posts, or if you want someone to help write your novel, or short story for you, I am available:) Hint-Hint. It is definitely scary. But my next step in therapy is to find a part-time job. So, I chose to take a shot at freelancing. Fingers crossed.

* Also, I've joined the Amazon Associates program to see if I can use that as a means to support myself. So, my blog does use affiliate links, but at no cost, (additional or otherwise) to you my friends. It just means that if you make a purchase by using one of my affiliate links, that I make a few pennies too, at no cost to you of course.

I really don't want to go back to an office job, which is why I started doing the above two things. If it offends anyone, I do apologize.

Please, to all that are traveling, do so safely. If your roads are as busy as ours in South Africa, I wish you all to get to your destinations safely, regardless of the rush and impatience on the road. My family and I always prefer to be home during the busy seasons. 

Stay safe everyone. Wishing you all well. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hello Again

Hello again my beautiful friends. Thank you so much for all the love and support I have received the past few weeks. I appreciate it a ton.

I am seeing a therapist every week for my anxiety and chronic depression (dysthymia), and a psychiatrist as well (she is also very good), but only every other month. I am still a long way from where I should be, but it is a work in progress and I am doing much better. Basically, all the crap I had been running from for most of my life has finally caught up to me and now I have to deal with it. I’m not ready to talk about what my issues are/ were, but I know one day I will be able to.

One of the reasons I adore my therapist is that she gets me. The other reason is that she has treated other writers before, which helps. Trust me, it can be hard to explain the complexity of writing to non-writers. But my therapist understands, and she is so patient and supportive. She even encouraged me to keep on blogging, as the awesome friendships and relationships I have built up over time, is so important and valid. A friend is a friend, whether you only communicate online or not. I know that now, and I don’t care that other people think I’m nuts for only having friends online. I haven’t kept on blogging as my therapist suggested, but hopefully I can get back into it now.

All week last week one of the TV channels had all the Harry Potter movies on, so basically I spent all of last week really immersing myself into Hogwarts and all things Harry Potter. It was so much fun. It was the first time in a long time that I really enjoyed something. Depression sucks the enjoyment out of everything. But not last week:)

Thank you so much again, my wonderful friends. I hope all is still well with everyone. Let me know how you are in the comments.