Posts Tagged ‘belonging’

When I returned home to the farm between uni and finding a job, I began walking the couple of miles down to the front gate each afternoon. It was a hot and dry walk; another big dry had our family farm firmly in its grip.

Undeterred by the heat, and with John Mellancamp Jnr blasting in my ears, I strode out across the paddocks with my eye firmly on the horizon, at the place where an orange sunset met the red earth.

Black crows circled overhead and, despite their caws, there was a stillness and a peace about the land. Somehow the big dry was as natural as the green paddocks that had rolled into a blue horizon only a few years before.

On those hot, burnished afternoons, I loved that land. It spoke to me with a sense of place and of belonging. It was a belonging that drove away all fear; that somehow, if I were to die there and then, its peace and stillness would wash over me and I would become part of it.

I never forgot that feeling or the way a sense of place and belonging can drive away all insecurities; all fears.

I travelled overseas in my youth and across Australia for work. I’ve lived in a city and in other rural communities but I’ve never found a place like my childhood home. It’s not with regret that I look back at that home that was eventually sold, but with gratitude that I was able to experience a childhood in the country.

As I grew into adulthood, I made the deliberate decision not to live in the cities. My spirit craves nature; I need to look at the horizon and everything in between.

Today I live in the country and I’m happy with that decision. I walk out of my front door to trees and birds, snakes and lizards. Every now and then, there is an orange sunset and that sense of belonging stirs. When I get that feeling I know that time is endless, and that our spirits are a part of something much bigger, yet the same, as ourselves.

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Bloggers share a lot of information with their readers. They share the good times and the bad and they invite people into their most intimate thoughts, feelings and fears.

Over the years I’ve written columns for newspapers, about my experiences with juggling motherhood with work and even a column called “Chinwag”. More recently, my columns covered diverse subjects from legal rights to parenting and good health.

This blog is dedicated to exploring what it takes to be human and a writer. It gives me satisfaction to touch on subjects we’ve all experienced and to find a common ground. Today, I’m feeling sorry for all those who are going through tough times. Whether it be ill health, emotional despair or grief, the one thing you need to know is that Iphone4 794you’re not alone.

If that’s the way you’re feeling, take a look around at your family and friends and see just how much they care about you. Sometimes people don’t tell you nearly as often as they should that they care, but they do. And it’s hard to interpret someone else’s feelings when you are sitting in the lonely corner.

There’s a way out of that corner. It’s simple; it’s just love.

So remember next time you feel you’re alone, you’re definitely not. There’s love around you for sure. You just need to open your eyes and see it.

I’m venturing outside now to play with my dog Koster. He’s a wonderful companion and a real member of our family. Dogs are unequaled. As animals they have evolved to form a unique relationship with humans. They understand love, loyalty, affection and companionship.

They give and they respond to love. I think they learned that from humans.

I’m sitting here pondering whether to have eggs for breakfast. It’s a huge decision for a Saturday morning. Huge. This is the one day of the week when anything goes. There are no rules on Saturday – you can sleep in as long as you want and there’ll be no: ‘Are you up yet?’ You can also stay in your pyjamas until lunch time if you want. I’m giving you my permission.

If you feel like running a movie marathon while your behind is parked on the couch…that’s fine too; equally a marathon run, bike ride or swim. Saturday offers the kind of freedom of motivation and action that is condensed into ouimagesr two day weekends. It’s all the more vital because we know the time is precious…to do exactly what we want.

Shame really. We should be living more deliberately every day of the week. There should be swims and bike rides, and movies and staying up late on all the days of the week, but that’s not how it works is it?

During the week we fall into that haze where the days blur into the next. We work too long and our thoughts focus on the immediacy of our surroundings, rarely straying beyond that funny, unreal cocoon we’ve lulled ourselves into. It’s safe to go to work each day and go through the same machinations. Drive, get in, coffee, check emails, knuckle down, look up and talk to colleagues, knuckle down some more. Perhaps at lunch you chug down a burger and a cap (great nutrition) while at your desk, and muse about what you’ll be doing on the weekend.

Then there’s hump day as it’s known. That’s Wednesday because you’re halfway there; halfway to the golden chalice…the weekend. Then Friday comes and there’s spring in the air, and in your step. More work, more coffee, more stress, but hey you can just about smell the weekend, can’t you?

Imagine how many weeks of your life have rolled by like this. Too many I guess.

I think there should be an inbuilt filter in everyone that triggers an alarm on weekdays when you’re working too hard and too long. It should be connected to a message on your iphone or tablet that says: “Do one thing today that you’ve been wanting to do for years”. That’ll be enough to poke you right out of that working weekday haze and reignite the rebel in you, ’cause when you’re rebelling against what you think you ought to be doing but are not, then you’re living.

Happy days folks and enjoy your weekend.

It’s an interesting process writing a novel in a month. I had to laugh at the same old suspects bagging out National Novel Writing Month this November from the lofty perches of artisan pretension, and failing to grasp it’s true significance. A look through the twitter feed of #nanowrimo reveals a multitude of writers embarking on their first ever writing ‘baptism by fire’. Many try and fail and many try and succeed every November and some attempts create the novels that sustain and inspire us. That’s a good thing not a bad outcome if you leave the failures behind for one minute as practice runs. (You really can’t be forced to buy them you know).

A lot of writers are young writers and if a frenzied month of writing gets them to attempt novel writing, then all the better. The industry needs young voices just as it needs the older, first time manuscript writers and everything in between. Why? Because words are the building blocks of communication and writers inspire readers to cross mountains and raging rivers to get to reflection and understanding. A book can really change a life and, at the very least, can be the escape pod from a painful reality.

My month began full of enthusiasm and I not only made the word counts, I blitzed them. Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 kept ringing in my ears. This was the novel he expanded from a short story in nine days. And the best selling Nanowrimo novel Water for Elephants was an inspiration too. I got to work with fervour and passion, creating my main plot from the draft novel plan I’d done a few months earlier. My story “Blood Visions” had been rattling around in my mind for more than 18 months. I’d told it so many times to people who asked and I could see the point they became interested was around about the time I began to believe in the concept. Nanowrimo was my biggest excuse to write the manuscript, and my inspiration. I used all the comments from writers undergoing the same hell, as a motivator; and I used that horrible graph on my Nanowrimo profile page as the enemy I had to beat.

My story began to come alive; my characters began to speak to me and plots and sub plots came to mind just as quickly as I was able to bang my fingers logically on my keyboard. I went to sleep thinking about a scene and then the next and next, and I woke up thinking about what was coming next. I mulled over the plot twists and took some turns and kept going straight with other ideas. I wrote and I thought and I reflected, and a lot of it was cathartic. Getting thoughts out on page is like listening to yourself.

About midpoint, I waned. I became tired and then I returned to the twitter feed again and read a Nanowrimo hint of leaving the day’s work at a scene that you would enjoy writing the next day. It worked. I pushed through and learned to go without sleep and get up at dawn and do it all again before the day job.

Toward the end of Blood Visions, and as the end of the month approached, I was conscious of a mild thought in the back of my head that this story was ok. Maybe not fantastically competent – it’s a draft at this stage – and maybe one that can be made better, but it had held together throughout the month and I’d finally gotten the idea down on paper. By today, 30th November in Australia, I am mightily pleased with the draft. So thank you National Novel Writing Month for inspiring me to tell the story that had been inside me waiting for the right time to come out. Seems November was that time.

I’ll be busy editing during December now – late at night and at dawn, with the day’s inspiration in between. That’s why I proudly call myself a writer, and even an artisan, because I’m living the dream. I’m writing. As impossible as it may seem some days, I’m writing novels.

My adult contemporary fiction novel Belonging Places is free to download today only [27 May 2014] via Amazon: http://amzn.to/1glCQyp. Here is a Q&A I did for the Fantastic Indie Authors website during a recent book tour.

What is your book about?

My book is about three women, at different stages of their life. Liliana is just out of university and leaves her dysfunctional life in the city behind for a new start in a small country village. Estelle is so into her career that she forgets she’s a mum too – there’s a huge conflict for her between career-woman and mum. Finally there’s Jill. She’s just buried her husband, her children have left home and the future for her is bleak – her adult children think a retirement home is the best place for Jill, but she has other ideas.

The thing all three women have in common is that they’ve got to find their ‘belonging place’ and that place is within themselves, in their inner knowing about how and where and with whom they should live their lives. Each character embarks on a journey to self knowledge and finds their true path. It’s very much a story that all women wWeston1-7 (1)ill relate to and they will see themselves, or parts of themselves, in the characters. 

What is the genre? 

It’s commercial fiction, but really women’s literature – though I wouldn’t rule out men being interested in the story…and perhaps learning something about the women in their lives!

What inspired you to write this book?

I was going through a rough patch and needed to make some decisions about how I lived my life. I was at everyone’s beck and call – at home and at work, and felt I was being taken for granted. It seemed I was doing everything for everyone else and nothing for myself. I had this deep sense of disquiet, like I knew something was wrong. That feeling that there had to be more…that I was more…led to me writing Belonging Places because I think it is a quest we are all on, men and women, to find our place in this world and know that place is the right place for us.

Will this book be a standalone or part of the series? (If yes, please tell us about the series.)

I’ve left it open, but have called the book Volume 1. I’d love to bring out Volume 2, and tell more stories that are important to women world over. You never know, we may have three new women embarking on self-discovery journeys because I really do think that as women, that’s what we do, we discover and rediscover ourselves at all stages of our lives, and in all situations.

What message would you like to convey with this book?

If you have a feeling of not belonging, don’t shy away from it. Acknowledge it and find out what’s causing that. We only have one life and it’s too short to put up with a situation, a job, a person, or even a partner where you feel you don’t belong. My message is that no matter what it takes, you owe it to yourself to find your belonging place.

What books are similar to this one? 

Some of Maeve Binchy’s books, perhaps Chestnut Street in that it takes ordinary people and puts their lives under a microscope, and we discover that no-one is ‘ordinary’. We all have stories to tell.

Where can readers find your book?

Amazon, ebook and print.

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1glCQyp

And go to your particular Amazon bookshop. If you want the print copy, you can get it from Createspace also: http://bit.ly/1nMYZtz

Last year I had an itch that needed scratching. I had been thinking a lot about what it takes to belong; that sense of place and a feeling that says ‘this feels right to me’. And, conversely, the feeling that says ‘this is not right for you; a hundred years could go by and it still wouldn’t be right’. A sense of belonging is a feeling felt at the spiritual level that can’t be ignored, I believe.

I also believe that when something is felt on a spiritual level, and that tug is strong and unwavering, the universe conspires to let you know that there is not only something you must confront, but there is also another path for you to fobelonging places tour bannerllow. These watershed moments set you on a journey back to self.

I have a favourite quote that has been with me for years. It belongs to TS Eliot and around 25 years ago I discovered it, not really understanding its significance. Now I know that it means the journey is always towards self-discovery and back to self.

“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know that place for the first time.”

And so with something that needed to be said on my chest, I began writing Belonging Places. I broke it into three stories to represent a woman’s life stages: Young Liliana – a girl at odds with the world and moving from the desolate city to a small country town where she finds herself; Estelle the up and coming career woman and mother feeling the tug of war that most working mums confront; and Jill, the elderly lady who loses her life partner and must find her way back to herself and a new life.

These three stories will not be unfamiliar to women, indeed they may have experienced similar circumstances, patterns and, ultimately, decisions. I know I did. But the external journeys these women take are overshadowed by the enormous internal processes they undergo. Through confronting their feelings and finding the courage to change their lives, they find a way through their spiritual crises.

Once I finished writing Belonging Places, I felt much better. The itch had gone and I could look at my characters and, through them, understand my own journeys and decisions over the years. In one way Belonging Places was an intense period of reflection for me that brought with it renewed understanding of what it means to be belong. As a result, I don’t get taken in by smokescreens anymore because in writing this book, like my characters, I have confronted what I deserve, and that is the right to belong and when that is absent, the courage to step forward to find my belonging place.

 

 

Belonging Places is available through Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1qTWEsU, and beginning on 16 April it will be touring selected blogs with Fire and Ice Book Tours. To celebrate the tour I have reduced the Belonging Places ebook to half price for the month of April only. It is also available in print if you prefer to physically ‘read’ a book.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I had a wonderful surprise recently when Belonging Places appeared in my Amazon reader’s e-newsletter to which I subscribe. Amazon used my book as the first example of a contemporary ebook readers might find interesting: “Are you looking for something in our Contemporary Fiction eBooks department? If so, you might be interested in these items.” And there was my book, as the first example [and also in the email subject line]. I was ecstatic to have this mention and publicity, so thank you Amazon – you get a thumbs up from me for that unexpected and welcome surprise.

If you would like to contact me, head to the Contact Me tab and get in touch, or leave a comment. And don’t forget to follow my book tour at Fire and Ice Book Tours, http://bit.ly/1hL5lAh

As authors would be aware, part of the benefits of listing your book with Amazon Kindle Select is that you can schedule the occasional promotional sale. This can either be a discount on an ebook’s sale price or by offering your ebook for free (time limited). The logic is that by allowing people to download your book either for free or heavily discounted, will help ‘spread the word’ on your wonderful book and also encourage reviews.

This is all well and good if your product is good and worth the read. Well, I’m leading with confidence and, on the 25 March, offering my book Belonging Places for FREE for one day only. Please download it; you are very welcome to do this. And start to read it, and hopefully continue to read it. If you get to the end and you think it’s worthy of review, let me know by leaving an honest and fair account. The story for Belonging Places is below. Happy reading. Download Belonging Places at Amazon

Belonging PlacesWeston1-7 (1) small

Three women, three stories on life, lessons and love. Three journeys towards the belonging place, three journeys back to self.

Liliana Flint-Smith is starting out on her own. Leaving a dysfunctional family behind her, and with nothing but a uni degree in librarianship, Liliana moves to a remote village in central NSW. Different from everyone else in the town, she must find her place in a society that doesn’t take kindly to strangers. With the help of an embittered old woman who lives in the flat next to her, Liliana begins to find herself and discovers it was never about her changing, but about learning to be herself.

Estelle Wainwright is successful. She’s burning up the career ladder and has just made editor at a national woman’s magazine. Her husband Joel is also carving out his niche as an architect and together with son Corey, are the picture of success. Or are they? Journey with Estelle as she fights the tension within herself: work and home, career and husband, businesswoman and woman, and navigates through a crisis that will test the decisions she has made about how she lives her life.

Jill Bridges is struggling to stay afloat. With her husband gone and her children busy with their own lives, she’s facing the prospect of a nursing home. But it’s her independence that makes her life worth living and she’ll be damned if she’ll bow to society’s plans for her. With a fierce will, Jill must find a way to triumph over old age and emerge into a life that still holds meaning.

Publisher: Caerus Publishing Australia

Release date: 7 March, 2014

Download Belonging Places at Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IVHNYPM