Archive for the ‘Truth’ Category

Or, Editing Woes Noone Warned you About ~

The word “edit” in the dictionary means “to prepare for publication.”

For the author in the last stages of editing their book, the sheer hours spent bum-in-chair can become numbing at both ends of the spectrum.

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You see, no one tells you the truth about the writer’s life, either at school or in the way it’s rendered via popular media. As a kind of public service announcement, I’m happy to give you a “heads up” about the possible woes that lie ahead, if you’re thinking of turning that story in the bottom drawer into a viable commodity.

Here’s what to expect:

Editing Woes #1: Temporary Blindness

Stephen King once said, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” There’s a good reason for keeping that office door open. Besides getting other people’s eyes upon your fiction, you need ventilation. You can succumb to writer’s fatigue. After sitting in a room on your own, staring at those dark marching ants across the screen for hours, you stop seeing the words.

Cure: Get some oxygen, head outdoors, look at nature.

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Editing Woes #2: Temporary Book Hate

“The first draft of everything is shit,” so said Ernest Hemmingway. However, given enough exposure to your own work, every other draft of your own precious story will start to annoy you, too. This is a temporary phase.

Top tip: Try not to throw the entire file in the rubbish bin.

Cure: Keep going. Do not give up!

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Editing Woes #3: Temporary Loss of Will to Live

There comes a moment, when you’ve just finished your hundredth edit of your story, and you realize you’re going to have to go back to the beginning and start again, that the apple begins to slide off the cherry.

I had a deadline to reach this weekend, my book needed to be submitted to createspace by April 15th. The material had been worked over so many times, but it still wasn’t done. When I found myself at 6.30 in the evening yesterday, and it wasn’t finished and I still I had to keep editing, I felt weak with stress.

The last yards to publication when you’re an Indie are soul destroying. Every time you think you’ve carved off the last word and discovered the last ill-placed comma, you find yet another error.

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On the fifth “final edit” I just wanted to put down the laptop lid, walk away and pretend none of it ever happened. I felt I could not read those words again.

Top Tip: This is normal. You will want to give up. You will want to curl in the fetal position. Don’t worry; it happens to all of us. It’s like childbirth or passing a kidney stone, it doesn’t matter how bad it becomes, you will get through it.

Cure: Eat treats. I took “feijoa breaks.”

Editing Woes #4: Temporarily Losing Touch with Reality

Yes, this is a common problem they don’t warn you about in writing class. When those sixth and seventh “final edits” take place, usually late at night, and you’re keeping yourself going by drinking coffee and eating sweets, the hours start to blend. One friend said, “it’s like a black hole that sucks time into it.”

This is true. The further you dive into your nitty-gritty polishes, the more hours disappear. When I finally lifted my head last night, I looked around and it was dark outside. The whole day had vanished. I was blinking like a mole, saying, where is everyone?

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Cure: Go be with human people. Exercise. Eat. Drink. Sleep.

The reward is that this really is the last hurdle.

Top Tip: just as with childbirth, it’s all worth it in the end. When the proud author gets to see their story presented in book form for the first time, it makes all the pain of editing worthwhile. The secret is to keep going through the gnarly last part!

At midnight, I had the manuscript, the cover art, a professional headshot, the back cover blurb and three great peer reviews ready to go, and I submitted the whole package to Createspace. I felt immediate relief and joy. Now, I await the first “proof” which is exciting.

But here’s the thing, no work of art is ever truly finished.

As Oscar Wilde said, “Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.”

I had to choose the point at which to let go. When do you let go? When do you say enough’s enough?

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Talk to you later.

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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“This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again.” ~ Oscar Wilde

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The week before last, my eleven-year-old son asked the dreaded question, ‘Is there really a Santa Claus?’

A friend of his at school had said he didn’t believe in Father Christmas because ‘it’s just your parents bringing you presents.’

My boy looked up at me. ‘It’s not you bringing us the presents, is it?’

I stared into his eyes.

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I explained I was doing my bit to uphold a tradition in our family which dated back in time. The original mythology of the big guy delivering ‘small gifts to good children’ comes from St. Nicholas or “Bishop Nicholas.” He was one of the most popular saints in all Christendom, especially in the East. He is said to have been a bishop of Myra (Lycia) in the early 4th century. He was related to doing good works.

Bishop Nicholas dropped three bags of gold down the chimney of a starving family, so the story goes, and the story of his kindness (one of many in his lifetime) spread. People everywhere grabbed onto the idea and began to hang stockings by the fire; in the hope Bishop Nicholas would visit them with his “magical gifts” in the night. Something about this idea caught hold in the human consciousness and took root.

As Brian Conway said, “A true hero of the people, St. Nicholas still delivers his magical gifts each year at Christmastime. The gifts Santa Claus delivers, gifts of hope and joy, bring the joy of giving to all the children of the world.”

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I thought this is the key time to talk about magic and those things that are beyond our ability to explain, before his facility to grasp the ethereal, the subtle is lost. The whole magic of Christmas, to me, lies in the power of possibility thinking. Anything can happen and probably will. That’s where the magic lives, in that gap we create with our minds, by saying, ‘what if?’

I asked, ‘Have you heard of the famous letter, ‘Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus?

‘No.’

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There’s a famous post from the column of Francis P. Church, who wrote for The Sun, in 1897.

The story goes that a girl called Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor. She said, “Dear Editor, I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth: is there a Santa Claus?”

Francis Church wrote in reply ~

“Dear Virginia,

Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be seen which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little.”

“In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

“He exists as truly as love and generosity and devotion exist.

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(photography, Tracey Henderson)

“How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.

“There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

“Not believe in Santa Claus? You might as well not believe in fairies! The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

“Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the world.

“Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in this entire world there is nothing else more real and abiding.

“A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, 10 times 10 thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

~

My son smiled. He asked, ‘Was it you bringing our gifts all these years?’

‘Yes.’

‘I still believe.’

‘Me, too.’

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Talk to you later.

Happy Holidays!

Yvette K. Carol

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Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ~ Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

 

 

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Things do not change; we change. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Quantum theory has proven what metaphysicians like Thoreau were trying to say, that when we change our thinking and our views, then our experience shifts.

In light of one of the most divisive U.S. elections in history, a lot of people are feeling upset and/or unsettled. The ripples carry on spreading throughout the rest of the world. Even at our Toastmasters meeting this week, one of the speeches given was about the presidential election.

Our challenge is to take the “high road.”

A teacher of the Hawaiian Kahuna Arts, Erin Kawaihululani Kropidlowski, relates “the high road” to ‘honesty, morality and integrity.’

Despite the confrontations and soap-boxing going on at present, in my belief, the most vital action we can take is to stop looking beyond ourselves and getting caught up in the maelstrom of fear.

After imbibing yet more inflammatory social media today, the term peaceful warrior came to me. I thought, the peaceful warrior takes the high road. I want to be one.

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It is up to each warrior to realize, as Thoreau posited, that we are the ones who need to change. It starts with us. Within our own circles, our families, our friends, our neighbours, people we meet. We must do everything we can to spread the love. That might mean changing our attitudes or approach, or surrendering a little of our fear. Yet, as peaceful warriors, as flowers in the garden of life, it is up to us to show our sunny side up.

This does not mean turn a blind eye. No.

We are even more keenly aware and watchful of those in power than ever before. We hold them to the line. We monitor what is happening. We say something and shine a light on injustice and corruption when it needs to be done. However, we don’t get drawn into hate or fear ourselves.

We always remember love, and we are all of us in need of kindness. We do little things to spread goodwill. We do good deeds. We give of our hearts and minds to those around of us; we give what we have to share.

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As the wonderful, world-renowned yogi and teacher, Gurudev Hamsah Nandatha, said, ‘Your role is to gently encourage everyone.’

My grandmother, the well-known head of the Women’s Voluntary Service in England lived by a motto, a small two word verse from the bible, ‘Be kind.’

Yes, indeed, this is a time of chaos. Yet, as Erin says, ‘when everything is in flux, you’re in the time of greatest creativity.’

Remember, things do not change, we change. The most profound action we can take right now is to refuse to take into our cherished souls the darkness we sometimes see. Are we going to be infected with the virus of negativity going on at present? Do we want to make that thing our new reality? Are we going to then add to that insanity by feeding it with more arguments?

No.

We rise above it.

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We remember we are peaceful warriors and the only way forward is to recognize the heart in others. All others. We stay true to who we know we are inside. We stay true to the better future we choose to know lies ahead.

*The signs of a peaceful warrior:

We choose to take the high road.

We change along the lines of the change we wish to see in the world.

We watch those who are in positions of power and hold them accountable.

We are kind.

We remember to gently encourage everyone.

This is the path to having what my grandmother would call, ‘having the right thoughts,’ and what Gurudev would call ‘thinking which is for the benefit of all sentient beings.’ Yes. I’m in! Who’s with me?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘There are two things the world cannot destroy, the love you cultivate and the highest expression of yourself that you insist on being. Every single person in your field are characters, there for the opportunity for you to love, and to walk the high road.’ ~ Erin Kawaihululani Kropidlowski

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Back in 2002, when I was expecting my second child, I was 36-years-old. My doctor at the time advised me to have an amniocentesis test, which is the form of pre-natal screening we have here in New Zealand. The doctors test for Down’s syndrome by inserting a long needled into the womb and extracting amniotic fluid.

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I panicked. I thought what if the results come back as positive? It was a decision I simply couldn’t make. I decided against taking the test.

In New Zealand, we were told at the time, one in 600 babies were born with Down’s syndrome.

In the UK, between 1989 and 2012, 20,000 babies were diagnosed through the new non‐invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). Of these, 92% were aborted. And, being classified as a ‘severe disability’, abortion can take place right up until birth.

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I’m so glad I somehow found the strength to resist the pressure of the medical professionals around me at the time, because my second son was born with Down’s syndrome. Sam-the-man, The Sam. As my mother said at the time, he has more God in him than anyone else. It’s true. It bothers me deeply to think of the pressure I was put under during the early stages of my pregnancy to get tested.

The NIPT is expected to drastically improve the rates of diagnosis of Down’s syndrome in England, which they project will result in 102 more babies with the syndrome being detected each year. When abnormality is detected, the only counselling offered to women after diagnosis is usually heavily pointed towards abortion. In Britain, the only counselling charity the National Health Service directs women to is, Antenatal Results and Choices, formerly known as Support Around Termination For Abnormality.

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These sad facts came to light recently, through actress Sally Phillips recent BBC documentary; ‘A World without Down’s syndrome?’ The acclaimed actress, mother to a daughter with Down’s syndrome, dared to ask the question, ‘What’s so dreadful about Down’s syndrome?’ Phillips travels the world and speaks to various people, including, ‘Emma’ who despite having been firm in her decision not to be tested for the condition ‘had to constantly justify her decision to medical practitioners.’

Why do we need to justify wanting to keep our unborn child?

On the award-winning Down syndrome blog, Downs Side Up, Hayley Goleniowska has a mission. That of ‘Gently changing perceptions of Down syndrome from within people’s hearts.’

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This mama is speaking my language.

Hayley: My mission is now to inspire new parents, show the world that many incredible things are possible for our children, and shout out that Down’s syndrome truly is wonderful and that life will carry on, there will be challenges, but you will not regret or wish to change any of it. 

You go, Hayley!

Her daughter, Natty, was the first child in Britain with a disability to appear in a Back to School Campaign.

Our youngest daughter Natty is a clothing model, pioneering for children with disabilities everywhere. She is a true ambassador in her own right, opening doors and forcing companies to be more inclusive in their approach to advertising.

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The writer, Ciarán Kelly commented sagely on the issue. ‘The new NIPT test has its roots in the Idea that some people’s lives have little or no value and therefore should be screened out from society. This is profoundly wrong. Unborn children are perhaps the most vulnerable people in our world and need to be protected. All human beings are made in the image of God and have a special, intrinsic value regardless of how young or how old, how able-bodied or disabled they might be. This does not apply only to those with Down’s syndrome. Neither does it apply only to those whom parent, family or society has deemed ‘makes a contribution’. It applies to us all.’ ~ Ciarán Kelly

http://www.affinity.org.uk/downloads/The%20Bulletin/issue-33/4)-a-world-without-downs-syndrome.pdf

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Exactly. When something happens to one of us it happens to all of us. I had an incident happen within my own family this week, where I had to stand up and defend Sam against a member of the general public. And it made me aware once again of how little people really understand about these amazing gentle people. It’s such a shame. We are none of us, not Trump in the White House nor Natty the child Down’s syndrome model, any better than the other. We are all equal. That’s what my son reminds me of every day. We are all human. We all deserve to be here.

What are your feelings on who gets to be human?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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#justaboutcoping, #worldwithoutdowns, #worldwithdowns

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‘The value of human life does not lie in its contribution to society at large, or even to the happiness of a particular family’ ~ Ciarán Kelly

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After rashly deciding to join in with writing pals, Teresa Robeson http://teresarobeson.wordpress.com/ and Catherine Johnson http://www.catherinejohnson.com/ on the SelfieArt Day challenge seven months ago, I now find myself part of a regular artistic quest to capture one’s own features. An elusive, multi-fold quest.

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For September’s SelfieArt, I used the photograph taken yesterday of my sister and myself, at my nephew’s 21st party.

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I started with a faint pencil outline of my face.

I know – yawn! I admit it. I got started on the SelfieArt challenge, imagining I’d be stomping about in a different medium each month, going buck wild in there. But, something tells me I’m a bit more staid these days than my imagination likes to think I am. I see myself, in my mind’s eye, as a Poppy-Longstockings-Pocahontas, whereas in reality, I’m a mature stay-at-home mama with a slight touch of OCD.

I find myself drawing my SelfieArt each month in plain old HB pencil. Nothing less, nothing more, and going, “That’ll do.” Oh, the complacency of age!

You can see how the challenge of the SelfieArt challenge is multi-fold, because the process continues to be self-revelatory.

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#SelfieArt for September

Done, baby!

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Art is essential to life, it feeds the eyes with the aspirations of life.’ ~ David Prosser

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At this same time last year, the president of our Toastmasters club asked us, “Who wants to enter the Humorous Speech Contest?” Out of the twenty-five people in the room, four people put their hands up. I put my hand up, too. I’d only joined Toastmasters the month before and I had no idea what was involved. Yet, a number of people I liked and admired, had put themselves forward, and I felt it was only right I should join them.

Evaluation Contest

In my mind, I imagined we’d be delivering our talks, as we did each week, to one another, in the usual club setting. Have a laugh. A cup of tea. End of.

Little did I expect what was to follow.

When I trucked up to our club rooms to give my speech in the contest that day, I was surprised to find the room was full of people. And at least half the people there were strangers. This is always a big step up for any aspiring public speaker. That moment when you go beyond the friendly faces and atmosphere of your club setting.

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My reaction was to go into panic and meltdown.

No one had warned me. I had had no idea that this contest was on a big scale. Turns out there are four big contests in Toastmasters a year, and all of them work to funnel the best speakers in the country to the top of the pile. At the end of each year, the best speaker from New Zealand goes over to the Annual International Convention, this year being held in Washington D.C, to compete against the best speakers from all around the world. Like, it literally couldn’t be any bigger. So, for the club level contests, there have to be guest judges, a contest chairperson, tally counters, the works.

Now, I’m not a competitive person. I never have been. I only entered thinking I was participating in something a bit fun within my club. Once the event was under way, I was terrified, thinking about the scope. I was waaaaay out of my comfort zone. But, it was too late to back out.

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Long story, short, I ended up winning. The moment they called my name, I thought, Oh, crabapples, now I’m going to have to compete at the next level. I tell you, there is no way I would have put myself forward into that position, if it hadn’t happened completely by accident like that. So it was a comedy of errors to get to that point. Like a row of dominoes.

Anyway, on the night of the next level of the competition, my nerves were off the charts. It was the only time I’d experienced a panic attack. When I started speaking, my nerves got worse and worse rather than weaker and weaker. So much so, that I ground to a halt twice during the delivery and went completely blank. I felt I’d flubbed it. But I won second place.

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I came home, shakily, needing a week to recover. I had never been more afraid. I had never felt more exposed. I had never felt more adrenalin. I said to myself that was one of the worst experiences of my entire life. I’m never doing that again!

This week, at our club meeting, El Presidente asked, “Who wants to enter the Humorous Speech Contest?” and I found myself putting my hand up. I know it’s going to be utterly terrifying. I know I’m going to want to kill myself for putting myself in that situation, on the night of the competition. Yet, I put my hand up.

Why?

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Because it’s like I’m in competition with myself: I have to do better than I did last time. Not to come first. But to deliver the whole speech and not to freeze up when I felt so previously stricken.

Yeah, that’s the crux of it: I want to do better than that.

It’s a personal challenge. I’ll let you know how I go.

Which personal challenge are you the most proud of overcoming?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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I think my securities far outweigh my insecurities. I am not nearly as afraid of myself and my imagination as I used to be. ~ Billy Connolly

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‘Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think.’ ~ Brené Brown

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A year ago, I lived with a debilitating fear of public speaking. In other words, I was paralyzed by the fear ‘of what other people think.’

Yet, two weeks ago, I delivered my ninth speech, ‘The Phoenix,’ at Toastmasters. I achieved something I thought impossible, through the help of my local Toastmasters club. I thought, yes, I’m doing so great. I can memorize a whole ten minute speech. I can get up on stage without falling flat. Yes! I’ve made it. Uh, no. You haven’t. Why? Because there’s always more to learn.

Part of the Toastmasters leadership program is the “CRC” system, or “Commend, Recommend, Commend,” by way of oral and written evaluation. My evaluator’s “recommendation” after watching, ‘The Phoenix,’ was that I looked like I’d rehearsed to a mirror and had simply written and learnt a speech by rote. I needed to learn how to connect with the audience.

5 Speeches Award, 2016

I’d never thought about it that way before.

My sister sent me a bunch of links for incredible talks on the TED channel. I could see the difference and began to understand what the next level of speaking could look like. My evaluator was absolutely right.

I realized I had bumped up against another of my own self-made limitations.

At our club’s 20th anniversary celebration the other day, founding member, Bruce Powell, gave a speech about the formation of the club. He told us stories, like the one about the girl who, upon hearing the “recommendations” of her evaluator, burst into tears and ran out of the room, never to return. Or the one, about the aspiring politician who joined our club, he later became elected to parliament.

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It’s true. Even on a good day, the “recommendation” part of the process can be hard to stomach. I had worked so hard on my speech, and when I got my evaluation it felt as if he burst my balloon. Yet, sometimes, a bit of balloon-popping is just what we need. You can either run from it and stay the same, or you embrace it and grow.

It’s good to prune the ego sometimes, to go, ‘hey, I’m not always right.’ That’s a stable, balanced way to go through life.

It’s wise to cultivate within ourselves, the ability to say we’re wrong. Not to just to pay lip service to a nice idea, but to really then put in the work as well, to make change.

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At the moment, I’m taking a free writing class, Story Fundamentals, with Daniel Jose Older. The brief for our writing assignment was given during the video presentation, and then, we were to post our efforts in the online classroom. There, our beloved, sweated-over prose would hang out in the public forum, waiting for “likes” and/or “comments.”

The assignment was to write a short story. My least favourite form of fiction. My taste lends itself to the epic form, I like to sink my teeth into a meaty book or writing project. I’d also traditionally shied away from writing short story, believing I wouldn’t do it justice.

But, sometimes, I think when we have an instant, “no, I can’t do that” reaction, this can be a pointer, a sign-post to a hidden limitation we’ve held about ourselves.

My dear friend, writer and artist, Steve Attkisson, said, ‘Someone told me that the stuff you try to avoid makes for the most powerful literature.’

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I decided to go boldly forth and tackle this assignment, regardless of whether I wanted to or not. I sweated over my short story, ‘Birdma, she Taniwha’ for two days and posted it. I’ve returned and edited the story every day this week. Still no likes, no comments. Sigh! Yet, despite the lack of response, I still feel good. Victorious, even. Because this story represents yet another hurdle I’ve overcome. Another thing I said I couldn’t do.

These personal milestones are what we live for. Or they should be. Because, it’s in proving to ourselves first that we are worthy that we disengage from that old fear of ‘what other people think.’

It starts to become more important what we think of ourselves.

Fear is a Gift

Some of our self-made armour comes off with each limitation we overcome. Is it frightening? Yes. L. Frank Baum once said, ‘The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.’ Even a single display of bravery towards oneself carries rewards, and brings more courage. We grow incrementally. We start to build our first real foundations of self-confidence. Know thyself. Healer, heal thyself.

If you think of the opening statement, by Brené Brown, that our armour was keeping us from really living into our gifts, then we’d imagine that by releasing some, and putting ourselves out there, we start to achieve things. We can connect with an audience. We can write a short story.We can get elected to parliament. We gain the forward positive momentum we want in our lives.

Just think of all the unexplored adventures ahead! What do you want to achieve?

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See you in the funny papers!

YC

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Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.  ~ William S. Burroughs

The hero’s redemption (and ultimate victory) hinges on their transcending their self-concern. ~ PJ Reece

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If you let your writing reflect your world view, your passion, your issues and your sore spots, the result will carry an emotional truth and gravitas that will be undeniable. ~ Keith Cronin

Why doesn’t speaking in public ever get any less scary?

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I think it might be because you reveal more and more of yourself.

I have an upcoming speech on Wednesday. It will be my ninth speech for my Toastmasters club and my most self-revelatory to date.

The crowd of butterflies are already swirling.

Apparently I’m not the only one at my club who suffers. After canvassing a number of other club members, it came as a pleasant surprise to find that everyone, bar none, felt some form of panic before a speech – apparently, it’s perfectly natural.

Bruce, my adopted grandfather, tells me that nerves are necessary to bring us up out of ordinary mode.

‘Feeling nervous lifts us into a heightened state so we can go out and get our message across.’

As a firm believer in elevating a stage presence beyond the normal “conversational mode,” Bruce says, ‘it’s okay when you’re speaking in a small room, but, if you were in a big hall could you project the same message to fill the bigger space?’

These are the elements of speech craft which need to be mastered.

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So far, I’ve found speech-writing is very similar to writing story. Ever since joining Toastmasters on June 10, 2015, I’ve noticed many parallels between the two disciplines.

For both writing speeches and fiction, you start with a germinating idea. You note it down. You wait. You get a few more ideas. You note them also.

A thought/song/movie/conversation comes to you and adds more material. This is the fun “gathering” stage. Or what New Zealand writer, Joy Cowley, calls the period of, ‘baiting the hook and waiting for the fish to come.’

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Then, one day, you start jamming it together like some sort of wonderful jigsaw that begins to make this miraculous transformation before your eyes into a lovely picture.

The resulting speech or story is a masterpiece you then get to marvel over. Art is a process of alchemy, turning a whole bunch of random things into a new form. I love it!

Being a worry-wart, I have to worry about the creation of each speech and story anyway, let’s be clear! The creative process is still a partially anxious one for me. I worry over each of my babies. Will they come out the way I want them to? Will they be perfect?

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I’ve been gathering bits and bobs for my ninth speech ever since the last one. James Joyce said, Mistakes are portals of discovery. When you’re in the business of learning public speaking, you need to be willing to make mistakes. While it’s scary, it is also rewarding!

Only in the last few days, has this speech finally begun to take its shape. I feel very uncertain about it indeed, as I will be sharing some of the emotional abuse I lived through during three of my marriages. I’ve been reading a lot of articles by intelligent people, espousing that within the safety net of Toastmasters, we ‘tell our stories.’ This is my story – I’m a survivor of abuse. But all three of these men are still living, so where do we draw the line?

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I’ve been writing this speech, trying to tell my story without dipping into the maudlin for the sympathy vote, or cheating the audience by skimming the surface.

I decided the only way to go forward with it was to take it from the point of view of my experience, without adding too many other words on top. What do you think?

What is considered slander and what is sharing my story? Any suggestions would be welcome!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Frank Baum. ~ The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.

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Teresa Robeson

After rashly deciding to join in with writing pals, Teresa Robeson, and Catherine Johnson, on the Selfie Art Day challenge a few months ago, I now find myself part of a regular artistic quest to capture one’s own features. An elusive, multi-fold quest.

So far, my attempts at Selfie Art have stimulated all sorts of self-discovery. I’ve felt confronted by my own sense of self image, and self worth. The process has also brought me up against my own need to control things, a.k.a. perfectionism.

The first month I participated, I blogged an in-depth pencil sketch. I didn’t like it.

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The second time, I submitted a pencil outline of my face. I didn’t like it.

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My attempt at a self-portrait for May’s #SelfieArt Day is in triumphant #doodlewash for the first time! That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it doesn’t look a bit like me.

Except maybe for the hair. I did notice I hadn’t quite captured my likeness when I started, however, I assumed it’d come right in the end. Only it didn’t! It was too late to go back; I’d already committed the time slot allowed. Here again, I met face-to-face with my perfectionist streak which made me just want to toss the portrait in the bin.

Thankfully, I did not throw my portrait away. I made myself stick with it.

I decided to like it anyway.

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I had to say to myself in no uncertain terms, “It may not be perfect but I accept this portrait.”

This then became a sort of personal mantra, “I accept my imperfections.”

With that in mind, I decided to carry on and finish my “imperfect” portrait as it was, and see it through to the end. Thus, the transformative process of Selfie Art unerringly continued.

These are the pics I took documenting my progress:

I began with a pencil outline of my face.

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I added the first layer of flesh-tinted wash.

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Then I darkened the lines with an ink pen.

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I added shading to the face with warm flesh tones, and a wash for the shirt with Rose Pink gouache paint.

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I used black watercolour for the hair.

While my resulting portrait does not look like me, it does look like a gal who might be fairly interesting!

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If you decide to join in on the challenge, make sure you swing by Teresa Robeson’s wordpress blog and tell her about it. She’ll include your links on her regularly updated list.

Include the hashtags on your post: #SelfieDay and #Doodleawash Day! Have fun.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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If your world doesn’t allow you to dream, move to one where you can. ~ Billy Idol

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Friend, writer, Jenny Hansen, put me on to a great new blog site this week, ‘Blunt Moms,’ written by a happy collective of mommas telling it like it is.

The first post I read was by author, Anne Sawan, ‘Moms of boys, you are my people.’ Of course, this got my attention as I’m a mother to three sons. The post was so hilarious I nearly split my jeans laughing. I subscribed the same day.

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Anne Sawan wrote of discovering her boys running around on their icy roof in winter, ‘inches away from slipping off and cracking their skulls,’ and how, that night, she had to have ‘a large glass of red wine’ in order to get over the experience.

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I laughed in the grip of my own painful memories. My three sons have made my hair go gray which is why I have to dye it now.

I remember one time, when Sam was three and escaped the property. He took off in his plastic car down the middle of our street. He lifted his feet and whizzed down the hill, with me running behind shouting, “Stop! Stop, Sam!”

He shot out of the street, turning a corner into another road, still freewheeling. I braced myself for hearing a screech of brakes, which fortunately never came. I managed to catch up with Sam and yank him off the road before he met any traffic. His guardian angels must take home plenty of overtime, that night. In fact, all my boys have given their angels a run for their money.

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‘Boys are just a different breed from girls,’ wrote Sawan. I couldn’t agree more.

My sister’s darling daughter used to present herself to her mother each evening at six o’clock exactly, and say, “I’m ready for bed, mama.” How I envied my sister! My boys would still be strangling each other somewhere, with someone moments away from an elbow in the eye, or getting somehow mortally injured and roaring with pain. Or they’d be trying the old, I-can’t-hear-you routine. Oh, yes, boys are different, all right.

What goes on in a household of boys?

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A lot of yelling goes on in this household of boys.

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A lot of dressing up.

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Play-fighting.

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Birthday parties that would put adult all-night-ragers to shame.

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Hours spent playing digital games.

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More play-fighting.

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Suspicious silences.

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Wild air guitar-playing while only dressed in underwear.

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Yet more play-fighting.

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And of course, posturing.

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Did I mention the singing? They sing a lot as well.

Once you learn to roll with the rambunctious, noisy, chaos of living with sons, I am here to report; it is possible to live harmoniously with them.

Besides in the words of Anne Sawan, in the end, “we laugh knowing our boys are going to be marrying your girls, and one day, if they’re lucky, they may just have little boys of their own.”

That’s called karma, folks!

Do you have any stories of the differences between raising your sons and daughters, or any hair-raising parenting tales to share?

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Talk to you later,

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Raising children is one of the most significant things that a person can do. It matters a tremendous amount, and women who choose to do it should be held in high esteem. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was a token of great respect for a man to address an older woman as “mother.” That might be a good thing to bring back.’ ~ Paul Rosenberg

 

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