Posts Tagged ‘meaning’

I was raised a Catholic and unwittingly consumed all the usual religious teachings over my formative years, including the most ridiculous of all: ‘turn the other cheek’. For years I think I actually believed that heaven would be attainable if I gave the horrible people I met (between the nice ones that is) the opportunity to be horrible…again.

My Zambian friend once said to me that I had the patience of Job. She was right, I do…or did. Most of my blog readers would know this year has been monumental for me. In January, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and have spent most of this year fighting through some pretty hard treatment yards. When I look back on the person I was before cancer, and now, a lot has changed.

One of the most significant of these changes is in my tolerance of people who offend, who are rude, who have no self-reflection compass, who are arrogant and thoughtless or those who believe competitiveness and ruthless self advancement (of the materialistic kind) is ok. Just like Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” creed, ego-based behaviour that seeks to dominate or compensate for an undiagnosed failing within is not excusable or ok.

Post cancer diagnosis and treatment, that good little Catholic girl has finally been erased. There is no more ‘turn the other cheek’ for me these days. Life is too short, and peace of mind and happiness are gifts that should be fiercely protected.

And the Gordon Gekkos of this world? Well let’s just say they can make friends with like minded people. It’s one party I won’t be lining up to attend.

Tick that lesson off!

Posted: September 22, 2015 in drama, learning, Negativity, patterns
Tags: , , ,

Today I lost track of time. I had my head buried in work, was late going for my afternoon walk and let my thoughts stray to those less than perfect parts of my life. I reacted negatively to someone else’s insecurity and didn’t ‘rise above’ it, and descended back into the old patterns; the ones where I take on other’s stuff.

One of life’s biggest lessons for me is not to carry other people’s energy around on my back, like some sordownloadt of dumb ass mule.

We all have those people in our lives; you know, the ones that leave an impression, and I don’t mean a good impression. My thoughts turn to social media jargon to try and illustrate my point. An impression on Twitter for example, is really just a look at something but it is not engagement or activity. Engagement is when you retweet or share a post. Activity is when you click on a link and follow it through. Some people choose not to engage with a tweet or post. It doesn’t interest them, they don’t want to waste their time, or it’s simply rubbish. Why go there. If only relationships and human interactions were that simple. But they’re not, are they.

More often than not we engage in the drama and get sucked into that vortex of negativity. We waste our precious time and tie ourselves up in knots trying to analyse a problem that’s not really our problem at all. I read a line from one of those Facebook gurus today. Normally, I don’t ‘engage’ in these posts, but today I stopped scrolling. It was about recognising you can’t do the learning for people, they must do that for themselves. And that there comes a time when you just have to bless them and release them. In other words, not carrying around their problems as your own.

So I blessed a few of the more difficult people that came my way today; blessed them, released them and let them go. Then I said a prayer for their highest good, and tried to get back on track myself. I walked in the late afternoon, when the clouds were overcast and grey and before the rain came.

In front of the upcoming total lunar eclipse, it’s not surprising people’s energies are scattered. I’ve got the feeling I’ll be doing a lot more blessing and releasing over the coming days.

My new horror novel “Blood Visions” is available for preorder on Amazon. It’s being published by US based Whiskey Creek Press on 12 November 2015.

I have been catching up on my reading these holidays, something that a writer never gets enough time for. With any spare time I get I’m usually plotting, writing or editing, marketing or on the social media juggernaut. But reading plugs up the gaps just as surely as writing and reflecting on what I’ve written. Such is the creative process that it is cathartic and insightful, and getting the insight from other writers is just a huge privilege.blog

I’m not going to harp on any more about Stephen King. Anyone who follows this page will know that I have a professional crush on his storytelling genius, but I’ve also been thoughtfully reading other authors’ blogs and musings and am loving their descriptions. I read Hayden Thorne’s blog today about how he spent New Year’s eve watching Hercule Poirot on Netflix while drinking out of an old [possibly lead laden] teapot. It struck me as very comical because I pretty much did the same thing minus the teapot. I had been out the night before and most of the day and the very thing I wanted was an early night. And that was that. So I rang in the New Year with sleep and living up to my own expectations at that time. It all worked and was a great way to start 2015!

On that subject, one of my main aims this year is for better health. That means saying ‘no’ more often, doing what energises not what depletes and being around positive people sans any draining drama. Yoh! Now that’s what I’m talking ’bout.

I also watched an interview with Ariana Huffington over the break. My god that woman resonated with me. She’s just released a book called ‘Thrive’. Her message is that power and money [and the pursuit of] are not enough [not a new concept I know] and that you need to find a rich inner life, including sleep, to be successful. Her story is borne from experience when her former overworked self collapsed at her desk giving her the wake up she needed.

It was so good to hear her speak about the importance of finding meaning within yourself; of developing that inner life which is what I’ve been raving on about for decades. As a former workaholic I know only too well the dangers of giving your all to a pursuit you really haven’t thought all that deeply about. Yes workaholics can be shallow, stupid people until they wake up to the fact that life is so much more than the external. The answers to life’s riddles are within.

We all have creativity inside us and I would urge anyone to follow that, in between whatever external life demands you have. And it can be as simple as putting in a garden, a vege patch, painting up some old furniture, getting a good lead pencil and drawing what you see. If you are like me it is finding the meaning and joy in the words.

Here’s to 2015 and an abundance of creativity and free flowing prosperity in whatever it is you are imagining and creating.

Speaking of creating my short story collection Evil Imminent has just been honestly reviewed over @iheartreading. Head over and take a look at what I was creating last year.

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.

spookWithin the mind of a human is the capacity to remember fragments they’ve seen or heard in any one day and to take those fragments, whether it is in sleep, daydreaming or even conjuring dark imaginings, and put them together, much like a film in their head. Many of us think in pictures and it is these pictures that play in a loop inside our heads, that have the power to invoke our primordial fears. Fear can easily become neurotic. It is one of the most powerful feelings we can experience. That, and of course, love.

As children we were often told our fears aren’t real but believing that kindly parental practical-ism when you are sure there are moving shadows in your wardrobe, or gleaming eyes under your bed, is another thing. Fear. It’s a lifelong  journey isn’t it, with the ever-present question: is my fear real?

Yes and no.

That’s where the writer of horror, supernatural and the paranormal comes in. That’s where I come in and my upcoming series of short stories put together into an anthology ‘Evil Imminent’ (which really is coming to your Kindle soon!). Writers in this genre not only draw on your fears but they also examine their own. In every story, there is an element of truth. In the ghostly visitations, the ancient energetic imprint of an evil house, the inexplicable happenings in the dark of the night, there is always something unanswerable. Do we really feel these things? Did we really see that dark shape out of the corner of our eyes?

And then there is the real strangeness of life itself. Look closely and you will see the patterns of dysfunction that result in darkness and despair; the twisted and unhealthy relationships, the pushing of boundaries until there is nothing but a cliff edge in front. These are also fodder for the writer and the mosaic we weave and create, just as life’s sometimes psychedelic mural is created from our experiences.

To recognise the destruction that can result from dysfunction, to introduce something new and different and to move towards healthy consequences and conclusions is the challenge in life, as it is in storytelling. Sometimes, though, nothing is spared or saved and that is a reality, and a sadness, of life.

I hope you enjoy my upcoming horror/paranormal collection of short stories. I hope that when you look closely at the stories, you might be able to see the patterns and that this will cause you to be cautious. Caution is not a bad thing is it? It allows just a glimmer of control even if the night is dark and you are alone with your fears.

‘Evil Imminent’ will hopefully be out before Christmas. It would have been with you sooner but I’ve had my own dysfunctions to contend with.

In other news, I’ve just finished my new website. Head over to http://westonfamily1.wix.com/maryannwestonauthor and visit.

Most of my life has been spent achieving stuff – an education, a career, a family…some sort of identity that tells me, and the world who I am. Work, work, work – I’ve been called a workaholic more than once, and usually by another workaholic…they know the signs. Work can be an endless treadmill but it’s far better than not doing anything? Ummm. Interesting. Let’s just hit the pause button. All the workaholics ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Well there’s the money. And the status. The thrill of success – being able to stare down a problem and achieve where others have failed. All of those gloriously egoistic and materialistic reasons. That’s ok. No-one’s judging here, but what if your employment stopped tomorrow and you hadn’t planned for it? Where would your ego and lifestyle be then? Worse still where would your identity be?

These are the questions I’m pondering because today is Day 1 of my new unemployment. I didn’t think I’d be unemployed at this stage. Thought I’d slide on my knees all the way to another job eventually; onto greener pastures, new circumstances, people and nail biting challenges which I would successfully overcome. However unforeseen things happen in life, tragic things, hard things. Not everything is tied up in neat linear boxes of continuity.

Anyway I found myself unemployed and actually scared by the prospect. Who would provide for the house, what are people going to think, how long will I be unemployed…ah the list of scareables (such a word?) went on. That was until I separated my real identity from my work identity.

Little by little, I stopped being scared. I began to do the maths on my budget and think about the things I had always wanted to do. There was some further study to upgrade my existing teaching quals – good idea I thought – I like teaching and it offered another spectrum when I did decide to return to work. There’s the new book to write – always wanted to find the time to do that, now I have it. And the opportunity to do a bit of casual consultancy work…there have been offers already. Not too much but just enough. And there’s time to look around for new work without the pressure of being in a busy job, doing long days, and getting to an application at 9.00pm, exhausted.

There’s all those things, however the best of all is the time to stop, get healthy, get peaceful, and get relaxing. Like everyone else in this world I have a strong identity. Not being in work is giving me time to find it, drowned out as it was by superficial concerns. Already I am humming along to a happy tune at the most random of times – driving back from picking up a wireless adapter for my computer or going on my morning walk where it’s spring green as far as the eye can see. I’m getting a little bit happy, and it feels good. Really good.

What I’m trying to say is that today, on Day 1, I’m comfortable with who I am and I don’t have to be working 10 hours a day mostly just to keep my ego at bay. Did I also mention the freedom from employment captivity…yeah that part feels good too. I’m the boss of me now.

I look at the question of identity in my book Belonging Places. If you haven’t headed over to Amazon to have a look at my author page and the links to my books, I invite you to see if there’s anything there you like.

Wow. What a week, what a year…and it’s still not over. Such has been the pace and the things life has hurled (not tossed) my way over the past months, that I have begun wondering where all the magic has gone. Life’s smallest miracles that, in the scheme of things, are large guideposts to make sense out of the chaos, and finding beautiful_blue_butterfly_wallpaper-1024x640meaning.

Meaning – so important to understanding – is the epiphany we all hope for. It’s the thing that calms the mind and the heart, and crystallizes awareness. Without meaning, life is just a series of random events and we are inside the spin dryer on a long cycle.

I’ve always been open to the signs and signals the universe sends my way, when I’m not caught up with worry about tomorrow, that is. When I’m open, I get to really notice what I’m meant to see. It can be as simple as a butterfly – or several actually – that fly around, and sometimes in, my window. This morning it was the most perfect rainbow I’ve ever seen, right on my doorstep. (Thank God for rainbows because I was starting to think I would never see another one. But that’s just me being melodramatic of course).

And so, after seeing my perfect rainbow on my doorstep, I made a wish and called my partner to get him to do the same. I didn’t wish for a pot of gold because we all know that rainbows aren’t stationary, they move and you will never actually get to the end of a rainbow. I wished for something more humble but that would, nevertheless, make a huge difference.

The wish concerned family. The most important thing in my life. The meaning in the rainbow on my doorstep in all its vibrant glory, that I just couldn’t miss if I tried, was that things would be ok in the end.

I’m going to try and turn off the spin cycle for just a bit while I get back to basics, and that is to encourage joy and happiness…on my doorstep, to come inside.