Guest Post: Gauri Sirur

Today I am delighted to feature a guest post from Gauri. Originally from India, she now lives in America.

My Book of Memories
(Or my life chronicled through some of the books I’ve read. And the memories they evoke.)
I glimpse a paperback on a friend’s bookshelf. It takes me right back to college when you were too uncool for school if you hadn’t read the book’s author. My daughter tells me a literary classic — my mom’s favorite — is being remade into a movie. And now I hear my mom’s voice quoting from the book.
Books evoke memories. These are some of mine…

Growing up…
My Book of Memories opens with a fairytale. I am lying in the back seat of the family car, with my shut-eye doll, my fuzzy blanket, and Enid Blyton’s book of fairytales. (There were no seat belts back then.)

My little brother, Ash, rides in front with my parents. He likes to look out at this world. I like to lose myself in imaginary worlds.

I’m happy when it takes a long time to get to our destination.
* * *
At the time of my in-car reading sessions, I was five years old and living in Pune, India. Mom was an avid reader. She frequented a circulating library that offered Women’s Weekly and Women and Home magazines — along with a modest selection of novels — to its predominantly female clientele. And Enid Blyton’s books to the kids who tagged along.
Blyton’s books were inhabited by an eclectic mix of humans, fairy folk, toys, and barnyard and woodland animals. In this fantastical world, you might find a little red door set in the trunk of a very old tree. You turned the round green doorknob, stepped through, and found yourself on a railway platform. From here you could take a train to Fairyland, Goblin Hill, or Toyland.

I have to admit that although I’m far from six now, I still stare very hard at the trunks of very old trees, checking for little red doors. I’m looking at you, giant sequoia. You never know, right?
* * *
In my early teens, I devoured paperbacks. Mainly mysteries and romances. Mom spoke of Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Daphne du Maurier in hushed tones. To please her, I read Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Rebecca. And then, to please me, I read them all over again.

Dad, a naturalist at heart, got my brother and me a slew of illustrated books on birds, reptiles, mammals, and dinosaurs.

I got back from school one day to find a T-rex and a brontosaurus — both about four inches high — squaring off on top of the radio in the living room. Dad had fashioned them out of Plasticine (Play-Doh). He believed in giving us a hands-on education.

Pluto and Persephone…
Tai, my father’s elder sister, worked at the Oxford publishing house in Mumbai. Every year she gifted me a book for my birthday. When I turned eight, she presented me with two children’s books of Greek mythology. Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, Narcissus, Medusa. I was as riveted by the names as by the stories.

During a college literature class, a professor asked if anyone knew the story of Persephone and Pluto. I put up my hand. She gazed at me with newfound respect. I thought it best not to reveal that I had gotten my deep knowledge of Greek mythology from a children’s book.

All growed-up…
After marriage, I lived on a farm with Raj, my parents-in-law, and Raj’s granddad. Our farmhouse was three miles from the nearest village. But even here, there was no dearth of reading material.

In his room, Raj’s granddad had a cupboard full of books tenderly covered with brown paper. I could take my pick from Dickens through Poe to Pearl S. Buck.

When we moved from the farmhouse to an apartment in Mumbai, half of the books moved with us. And then, over the years, a quarter of those treasures found their way to Houston, where I now live.
* * *
Some of these books are close to a hundred years old. Time has tinged their pages a light sepia. I have to turn the pages carefully lest they flake off.

I open the books, and a musty-sweet aroma wafts to my nostrils. Suddenly, I’m looking out the living room window of a certain farmhouse in India. A bullock cart rumbles past on the dusty track outside the window, heaped with sacks full of freshly harvested peanuts. Just beyond the track, row upon row of young sorghum fronds flirt with the breeze.

Coming to America…
My book memories of America, where I moved twenty-some years ago, with my husband and daughters, are a world away from bullock carts or flirtatious sorghum.

From Mumbai we flew into Cleveland, OH, where my daughters enrolled in middle and high school. My older daughter’s English Lit. syllabus included The Black Pearl, which was my introduction to American literature. My memories of this book are decidedly mixed.

On the one hand, I loved the book; it inspired me to read another Steinbeck classic, The Grapes of Wrath.

On the other, The Black Pearl remains closely bound up with that fresh-off-the-boat, disorienting sense of foreignness. With the shock of the biting Cleveland winter after the muggy warmth of Mumbai — the cold inking chilblains on the backs of our hands. The isolation — trees bare of leaves, streets bare of people. The echoing quiet. Most alien of all, the smells — the insistent tang of Lysol and wood-polish; that plasticky new-car smell.

Twenty-some years later, the country that once felt alien is now home.

And now, this…
I started my book collection in Houston eight years ago, right around the time of my grandson’s birth. The first book that I bought was Kafka’s Metamorphosis. A fitting title, I thought, for my own metamorphosis from mom to Grand Mom.

Several of the books in my collection, from Hamlet through Harry Potter, are storied in more ways than one. There is enough nostalgia here to fill yet another Book of Memories. But that’s a story, or a blog post, for another day.

Yes, books evoke memories. What are some of yours?

Here is a link to her blog. Please take time to visit, and welcome Gauri to this community.
https://gaurisirur.wordpress.com/

Covid

Please send some supportive comments to Arlene in the Philippines. Her and her family have all tested positive for Covid-19, and she is very scared. Arlene is one of the first bloggers I connected with when I started, and she is a great blogging friend to so many people.

DREAMS AND ESCAPES

Please pray for us. Josef, Jovy and I all have Covid. Mom is beginning to show symptoms too.

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Guest Post: Darlene Foster

I am delighted to present a guest post from the lovely blogger and author, Darlene Foster.

Here is her short bio.

Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories about a young girl who travels to interesting places. Over the years she worked in rewarding jobs such as an employment counsellor, ESL teacher, recruiter, and retail manager, writing whenever she had a few spare minutes. She is now retired and has a house in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

Never Too Late To Become A Writer
by Darlene Foster

A goal without a plan is just a dream.

Many of us dream of being a writer. After all, we have tons of ideas. We spend years talking about it, fantasize about signing our books, and envision people saying, “I read your book and loved it.” But there is always an excuse. We are too busy working, raising kids, keeping a house, volunteering, looking after grandchildren or ageing parents; the list goes on. Then one day there is a bit more time and we say, “Now I’m too old to write a book. If only I had started years ago. It’s too late.” I have heard this many times.

I was one of those people. I had so many excuses for not sitting down and writing a book. I took writing courses and attended seminars, wrote a few short stories and submitted to the occasional contest, but the idea of writing a book was too daunting and I often felt I had left it too late.

Then I went on a fabulous holiday to the United Arab Emirates and decided I needed to write about it. It worked best for me to write my story from the point of view of a twelve-year-old and target it to middle-grade readers. Although I was already in my fifth decade, I was still busy working a full-time job, tutoring part-time, volunteering and sitting on a few boards. How was I going to fit in the time to write a book?

I came up with a clever plan. The plan was to write the book in three years; a realistic time frame for me. How was I going to do this? I planned to write one chapter a month by writing two hours a day, five days a week. By breaking it down into doable steps, it was not so difficult. I simply eliminated watching television for two hours every evening after work. Soon my friends and family understood that I could not be disturbed for those two hours. If I missed one day, I would write for two hours on the weekend.

My plan worked. At the end of three years, I had Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask completed and ready for submission. It took another 5 years to find a publisher, but I persevered. In those five years, between researching publishers and writing query letters, I continued to write and completed, Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting. After all, I was used to writing at least one hour a day.

I now have eight books in the Amanda Travels series published and have organized numerous book signings where people of all ages have approached me saying, “I love your books. I hope you write more.” My dream has come true!

I still write for at least two hours every day and can now write a book in one year. My next book, Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady will be released on May 11th, 2021. I am working on the ninth novel as we speak and have many more ideas. There is no stopping me now!

The lesson I learned is that it is never too late and you can never be too busy, to make your dream of writing, or any dream, come true – if you make a plan and stick to it. As a much wiser person than I once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis

Darlene´s books can be found on most booksellers´ sites including Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=darlene+foster&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

She can be contacted on various social media sites.

website http://www.darlenefoster.ca
blog https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
facebook https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
twitter https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Please use the links to connect with Darlene and to find out more about her books.

Guest Post: Robbie Cheadle

Today I am delighted to feature author, poet, and blogger, Robbie Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland

Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle
Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Treasuring Poetry and Poetry Treasures

I have always enjoyed poetry. From the moment I read Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery when I was ten years old, I wanted to be a poet. I spent a lot of time in my tween and early teenage years attempting to write poems and I am sure mine were as overblown and overcomplicated as Emily’s were in this memorable book.
When my children were young, the desire to write poetry and rhyming verse stories came back to me. This may have been because I spent a great deal of time reading nursery rhymes, and rhyming verse stories to my sons. Dr Seuss books and Pete the Magic Dragon were firm favourites. My natural interest, combined with my son, Michael’s, interest in making up stories and characters, lead to the creation of our co-authored Sir Chocolate series of books.
We published our first Sir Chocolate book in August 2016 and soon after that I started my first blog, Robbie’s Inspiration. I embraced blogging and the blogosphere and was delighted to discover that a huge number of talented poets regularly published their poetry on their blogs. Over my 4 ½ years of blogging, I have developed a lot of friendships among the blogging poetry and writing community.
In 2018 I met Kaye Lynne Booth of Writing to be Read blog (https://writingtoberead.com/blog). Kaye’s blog is aimed promoting writing in all forms and she shares a lot of book reviews and interesting articles by a few bloggers, including herself, about a wide spectrum of matters relating to reading, writing, and other artistic undertakings.
In 2020, Kaye and I collaborated on a new series on Writing to be Read called Treasuring Poetry. This series is aimed at promoting poetry and poetry books and providing a platform where poets and lovers of poetry can meet new bloggers and writers and have discussions about their own, and well known and famous poets, work. This series proved to be popular despite the pandemic, lockdowns, and all the related issues and drama and in December Kaye suggested we ask the Treasuring Poetry guests to contribute to an anthology.
From this great suggestion, Poetry Treasures, the first anthology in the WordCrafter Press poetry anthology series, was borne with contributions from several talented poets in the blogging community including Sue Vincent, Frank Prem, K Morris, Annette Rochelle Aben, Colleen Chesebro, Jude Itakali, Geoff Le Pard, Victoria Zigler, and myself, publishing as Roberta Eaton Cheadle.


A collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the “Treasuring Poetry” blog series on Writing to be Read in 2020. Open the book and discover the poetry treasures of Sue Vincent, Geoff Le Pard, Frank Prem, Victoria (Tori) Zigler, Colleen M. Chesebro, K. Morris, Annette Rochelle Aben, Jude Kitya Itakali, and Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

https://books2read.com/u/3n7BDR

The anthology includes between three and five poems by each contributor including five delightful poems from Sue Vincent. Sadly, Sue passed away a few weeks before this anthology was published, and the book includes a tribute to her and her wonderful poetry. She is greatly missed in the writing, poetry, and blogging community.
Today, I would like to share one of Sue’s poems from Poetry Treasures which I read and recorded on her behalf on my Youtube site. The poem is called Poetic vision.

Please use the many links to connect with Robbie, and check out her varied books.
She has something for everyone!

Guest Post: Krish Mayani

Today I am featuring a post from Krish Mayani, who blogs at https://theconfessionsofarandomblogger.com/
His subject is the abusive control known as ‘Gaslighting’, and he explains it with reference to the film of that name.

WHAT IS GASLIGHTING?

So by now you all probably know my tradition of sitting up until 2 a.m. every night watching trashy reality shows and true crime documentaries with my mom. However, the other night we decided to be classy and watch something more sophisticated for a change.

So instead, we decided to watch ‘Gaslight,’ a 1944 psychological thriller starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, and Angela Lansbury.

A very long Google search later, I discovered that the psychological manipulation term ‘gaslighting’ actually originates from this movie! I don’t know about you, but I think it’s so incredibly cool that an actual clinical psychology term originates from a Hollywood, Golden Age, romantic thriller.

I was so incredibly captivated by the film’s plot and cognitive themes, that I just knew I had to write a blog post about it!

Today, I’m going to be discussing and analysing the film, as well as talking about the psychology of gaslighting and how you can protect yourself against it. However, I am not a therapist or a psychologist, and therefore everything I will be speaking about is from my own personal opinion, experiences and research.

SYNOPSIS

Fourteen year old Paula Alquist lives with her aunt Alice Alquist, a renowned opera prima donna in a quaint London square. Paula’s mother died when she was very young, with Alice being her only surviving family.

That is, until Alice is murdered in the middle of the night during a robbery gone wrong. The perpetrator was in search of her famous, valuable jewels; until the robbery was interrupted by Paula awakening in the middle of the night.

The murderer is never found.

Now truly alone, Paula is sent to Italy to become an opera singer, just like her aunt.

The film then fast-forwards a couple of years to a now adult Paula (Ingrid Bergman). After a 2 week whirlwind romance with Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer); a man she has just met; she marries him and he convinces her to move back to the London townhouse that her aunt left her; the site of her murder just a few years ago.

However, as soon as they arrive at the house, Paula begins to notice a slew of strange occurrences. Picture frames taken off the wall and hidden, sentimental possessions that suddenly and randomly go missing, and most importantly, gas lights that dim randomly without any apparent interference with the house’s gas supply.

Gregory slowly begins to convince her that she is the one removing the picture frames. That she simply loses their precious possessions because of her growing irresponsibility, and perhaps most maddening- that she is imagining the dimming of the gas lights.

Is she careless? Is she a kleptomaniac? Is she simply insane? What other explanation is there? Why would anyone lie about the sound of footsteps late at night and picture frames being removed without any explanation? There’s simply no motive. Right?

But thank goodness for her husband Gregory! She may be slowly but surely losing her mind, but at least she still has her husband. At least he’s there to help her. Her constantly replenishing pool of “sanity.” In fact, she needs him doesn’t she?

Paula is slowly being psychologically terrorised and driven insane by her ominous menace of a husband, all the while being convinced that he’s doing her the biggest of favours. That he is simply a blessing for ‘tolerating’ her many many faults and mental incompetencies.

The question on everyone’s minds- will she be able to fight a psychological battle with her husband that she doesn’t even know she is in? However, the more important question here is why? Why is he doing this to her? There is absolutely no reason to do such a cruel thing to a person, your wife much less.

Is there a reason?

There seems to be something far more sinister at play here.

PAULA’S PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE

Soon after their arrival at the townhouse, Gregory presents Paula with a brooch, a valuable family heirloom that he claims has been in his family for years. First, he tells her the story of how the brooch “belonged to my mother, and before that to her mother, and now it belongs to you.”

He then lectures her about the importance of not losing it, as she is “inclined to lose things.” He then promptly steals it back from her, leaving her with the gut-wrenching feeling that she has indeed lost the brooch. Not only was he right about her tendency to lose things, but he was also so understanding when she told him.

However, as picture frames begin to disappear from the walls, with them later being found by Paula, he begins to berate her for her kleptomaniacal tendencies. She has no memory of ever taking the pictures of the walls- why would she? However, who else could it be? The question she begins to ask herself is no longer if she did it. But why she did it. She has no memory of ever taking them off the walls, so why is she subconsciously stealing the picture frames?

Gregory makes elaborate and extensively-detailed plans to go to the theatre, but just before they leave, Paula discovers a new facet of her ‘mental illness,’ and is forced to stay home. She believes that she has ruined their night.

However, one night, Paula is invited to a musical concert by old friends of her aunt, and decides that she absolutely must get out of the house, even just for a night, even if she must go alone. However, Gregory decides that he must accompany her.

After a nervous breakdown at this public social event, caused by yet another one of Gregory’s tricks, he convinces her that she is not “well” enough to be in public anymore, effectively isolating her from the already extremely small social circle she has around her.

The following events only escalate in psychological torture and abuse. He tells her that objects in her hands are not really there. He tells her that her mother died in an insane asylum, paralleling her current ‘symptoms,’ and later threatens to have her institutionalised.

He constantly reprimands her for her behaviour, asking her why she lies, steals, and claims to see things that aren’t there without reason, leading to her desperately trying to know the answers to these questions herself.

If not bad enough, as the gas lights constantly flicker (he switches on the lights in the attic), he convinces their maid to lie to Paula as well, telling her that she is seeing things.

An intricately planned descent into insanity and paranoia; and for what? I’m not going to tell you why. Watch the film! I’ve given you enough spoilers!

WHAT IS GASLIGHTING?
Gaslighting (noun)- is an abusive psychological manipulation tactic that when planting seeds of doubt (using denial, misinformation, misdirection, and contradiction amongst other techniques) in the victim’s mind, can make them question their own memory, judgement and perception; severely altering their sense of reality.

As we saw in this context, Gregory gaslights (verb) his bride in an attempt to gain access to her house. He manipulates certain elements of her environment, which makes her question her own sanity by distorting her reality. When Paula asks her husband to verify her perception of these changes, he insists that it’s all in her imagination. he then isolates her from the world and prevents her from having outside communication, making her dependence on him even stronger.

Make no mistake, gaslighting isn’t limited to romantic relationships. It can and has been used in varying degrees of extremity in politics, friendships, parent-child relationships, and even professional workplaces.

THE EFFECTS OF GASLIGHTING

1. THE VICTIM BEGINS TO DOUBT THEIR OWN THOUGHTS

The gas-lighter has distorted the victim’s reality to such a great extent that they can’t trust their own memory, judgement and perception of the world around them.

2. FEAR AND SILENCE

Every time the victim voices their opinions or view of a situation, they are convinced that they are wrong, and that they might even need professional psychological treatment.

This not only leads to fear- what is real and what is not? However, it can also lead to repressed thoughts and opinions. If every time you speak, you are convinced that you have viewed a situation wrongly, you later convince yourself that you should just keep your thoughts to yourself, lest you further ‘upset’ your gas-lighter.

3. ISOLATION

The victim is now completely and utterly dependent on their gas-lighter- a source of reason and sanity. So, either as another manipulation tactic or by internal revelation, the victim is slowly isolated from their friends and family. The victim is convinced that the outside world wouldn’t understand- they would be judged, or worse, pitied.

However, when feelings of isolation and entrapment later begin to seep in, the victim now has no one left to rely on, apart from their abuser. This ensures that the gas-lighter remains in power. There is no one left to rescue the victim.

4. DECISION MAKING ABILITY

The victim has now been convinced that they are insane.

They can no longer trust their own judgement. Therefore, even the smallest of decisions, like what shirt to wear have to be approved by their abuser. As their decision-making ability dwindles, the gas-lighter now has full control.

HOW TO EXTINGUISH GASLIGHTING

I’m sure I know what you’re thinking right about now. “Gaslighting sucks be careful.” Okay! However, what do you do if you’re already in this situation? How do you escape? For lack of a better word, how do you extinguish the gas light?

STEP 1- RECOGNITION

Gaslighting depends on secretly distorting the victim’s reality. However, it’s very difficult for someone to alter your perception of reality if you are aware that this is happening to you. Before accusing someone of gaslighting you, first make sure that the situation is actually gaslighting. It isn’t always so easy to recognise.

Try to find repetitive patterns of undermining, contradiction, manipulation and deception in this particular circumstance. What is the intention behind these tactics? Is it really gaslighting, or are they just voicing their opinion? Do they care about you, or do they want to control you? Find the motive.

STEP 2- EVIDENCE

Now that you know that you are being gaslighted, it’s time to collect evidence. Not only are screenshots, pictures, and written accounts helpful for legal purposes; if the situation is extreme; but it can also help reinforce your view of the situation.

It’s sort of like “retracing your steps” in a way. Just because you now know that you are being manipulated, doesn’t make you immune to the effects of it. Every time your view or outlook of a situation is altered or even flat out denied, you have your own evidence to look back on if you need the mental reinforcement.

STEP 3- DEVELOP YOUR OWN SUPPORT SYSTEM

As we spoke about earlier, one of the main manipulation tactics of a gas-lighter is isolation. Both so that you can’t escape their control, and so that you can’t have your outlook and version of events authenticated.

However, and I once again say this only because I don’t necessarily know the extent of the situation, I would also suggest figuring out your finances as well. Sure, family and friends are an amazing support system. However, we can’t just ignore the financial aspect of it as well.

Money is important. If you have to, you need to be able to escape this abusive situation at any given time.

Can you imagine going through all the work to finally discover that you’re being gaslighted, only to realise that you still have to rely on the abuser for financial support?

Thank you for reading! Especially if you managed to read through all that!

Let me know if you’ve ever seen this movie, and if you’ve ever had an experience being gaslighted by a friend, romantic partner, parent or even at work.

You can check out my last few posts here:

World Poetry Month- The Second Issue
Mirror Superstitions
My Irrational Fears
World Poetry Month- The First Issue
Borrowed Poems From An Anonymous- ‘Destiny’ and ‘Today?’
Until Next Time.

Guest Post: Anthony Eshun

Today I bring you a guest post from Ghanaian blogger, Anthony.
Here is his short bio.

Author’s Bio

Anthony Eshun is a proud Christian inspirational blogger from Ghana. He is the author and the owner of https://africanparadiseworld.com. He has reached out to thousands of people around the world with life-changing messages.

Your Daily Life Inspiration From Nature

Nature is beautiful and amazing. Whether you like it or not you would feel the impact of nature in your life. But it seems some people don’t pay attention to the gestures and language nature speaks to us.

It is only when you pay attention that you would understand nature’s language. I find it very intriguing to share with everyone how nature inspires me to stay positive, happy, and hopeful in life. And I believe after reading this piece of content, you would begin admiring nature and derive the best out of it than ever before.

Sometimes a blogger for instance would be stressed up, uninspired, lack ideas to create content. This applies to almost every worker especially businessmen and entrepreneurs.

Let me share a few inspirational messages nature sends us on daily basis with you. Whenever I see the sunrise in the morning — my hope is renewed. Not just that alone. The scene of sunrise is one of the most beautiful things I have known on this planet.

I have been compelled to take several photographs of sunrise. I love it most when there is a reflection on the sea.

The sun shines from the East every morning to remind me that there is hope for a brighter and a beautiful future. Being alive for another day is even a miracle. I believe God has gifted me that to keep on pursuing my lofty goals. So I say to God “thank you for granting me a new day.”

Beautiful mornings remind me to be grateful because on record; 150, 000 people take their last breath each day. They did not see the beautiful sunrise.

Interestingly I could also hear the beautiful birds chirping in the morning hopping and flying from one tree to the other. Could I understand their melodious songs? I believe they are also showing their gratitude for being alive for another day. Thanks be to God!

When it’s cold, rainy, or stormy it reminds me of unpleasant situations. But I know life is dynamic just like the seasons.

It would never rain forever, it will never be stormy forever. Surely, the sun will rise again with a beautiful smile on my face. Without all these, we wouldn’t know what joy is. Joy is seeing the rain, storm, etc stop and giving way to a bright day. I’m the kind of guy who never lets misfortunes bog me down. Im too positive for the devil himself.

So throughout the day, I will keep myself busy with my daily routines. Then there comes the beautiful scene of sunset. Another awestruck scene that steals my attention for several hours. Oh my God! Where is my camera?…crack, crack, crack?…

What is the inspiration behind that beautiful sunset from nature? The day and its hustling have just ended. With a deep thought, … I am reminded of one Native American Proverb that says that anytime the sun rises from the East and sets in the West it takes part of your life.

I often contemplate on this proverb and question myself at the end of the day if I have been productive. Time is a non-renewable resource and it is very precious. So I am very cautious about how I spend my time.

Nature inspires me to be efficient in every little thing I do. Because within every 24hrs, nature takes part of my life away. And that is irreversible. I would love to be proud in my old age that I never wasted my youthful days. So let the day take part of my life and reward me with a successful future.

Just like how many of us believe that you reap what you sow, so as you will face the results of everything you do today.

Nature itself is a therapy. Imagine the kind of emotional pains the emergence of COVID-19 has brought to our doorsteps. Our mental health is always challenged by fear and panic. Lockdowns, destabilization of both social and economic lives have plunged many of us into depression and a state of hopelessness.

There is a natural way of releasing that stress. And the most important thing is it doesn’t cost a dime. Take a look at your environment. Even if you are in lockdown — gaze at your natural environment through your window and you will surely release some stress.

“Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars, and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.”— Osho

Viewing nature alone reduces fear, stress, anger and gives you the best of emotional feelings. Not just that alone —it contributes to your physical wellbeing by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and the production of stress hormones.

Researchers say even a single plant in your environment can help reduce stress. Even a wall painting depicting nature can help reduce stress by just viewing it.

Knowing all these has personally helped me as an inspirational blogger to maintain a positive mindset in every circumstance I find myself in. Nature supplies me with constant inspiration to keep moving forward in life.

Now, let me quickly take you to the wild. I’m talking about the ecosystem. Some of us have the characters of wild animals, others are the prey.

It is therefore imperative to know the kind of beast you are. This will help you to associate with the right people. What good relationship would the deer, gazelle, or antelope have with the lion?

Haha! What am I insinuating here? Nature has taught me to stay away from toxic people and surround myself with like-minded people. I have no room for naysayers, neither do I entertain unfruitful relationships. There are too many snakes in the grass. Watch your steps!

However, in reality, we can choose to be what we want to be. And it’s all about setting realistic goals. You can be like the eagle, fly higher above the clouds, and view your goals with a powerful vision of the future.

In summation, sometimes you have to find the best ways to inspire yourself when going through difficulties in life. Nature presents to us free therapy. Go out there and enjoy the natural environment to kill some boredom and release stress.

Take a look at the seas, mountains, flowers, trees, sun, moon, etc, and crack some photos. Come home and soak unlimited inspiration from your photographs. Let me seal this with a beach photo I took one early morning.

I believe you have enjoyed reading this post. You may also like to read my post about developing daily inspirational thoughts through this link: http://africanparadiseworld.com/2019/01/13/inspirational-thoughts-of-the-day

Stay positive, stay blessed!

Here is a link to his blog, if you would like to read more.
https://africanparadiseworld.com/

Guest Post: Cathy Cade

Today I am very pleased to feature English blogger and writer, Cathy Cade.

Finding my Courage

There were a couple of reasons why I would have skimmed over Pete’s first call for guest posts, however attractive I found the prospect of reaching a wider audience. What on earth would I write about, for a start? I struggle to think of topics to post on my own blog.

Time would have been a factor too – isn’t it always? As well as formatting our writing group’s third anthology, I’m currently revisiting my ‘practice novel’. I have been known to tackle the ironing to avoid revisiting this novel.

But very little of my retirement wardrobe requires ironing, these days, which leaves me short of postponement strategies. And most of it boils down to simple cowardice.


I actually completed a first draft of the aforementioned practice novel before losing confidence and putting it aside in favour of short stories. Short stories are less scary and are quicker to produce and obtain feedback on. I could share them with online writing forums or a local writing group. However nerve-wracking it was to present my own work for feedback, I found critiquing others’ writing just as scary. But the sky didn’t fall.

Short stories can be submitted to competitions… some even free to enter. I sent off stories to competitions and most disappeared into the void. The world didn’t end.

Short stories can be sent off to magazines. The best of these gave helpful feedback when rejecting my stories. And the sun rose next morning.

I started a blog – the writing gurus all said I ought to, but I’d put it off. Who would be interested in my ramblings? What on earth would I blog about? (Still a challenge.) After my first tentative posts, I realised that the only one interested in who read my posts was me.

On publishing our writing group’s first anthology, nobody laughed at us for trying; the world didn’t end when it needed amending.


Eventually, one of my competition stories was shortlisted. Others were placed… and printed!

I reviewed my rejected magazine stories and sent them out to other magazines, both print and online. Some were accepted!

I followed other blogs and plucked up courage to comment. Some of the bloggers came to look at my blog.

We had the group’s anthology printed locally, sold them to our u3a members and went into a second print run. We published a second collection the following year. With one of our members producing our covers, all it cost us was the ISBNs, so I took the plunge to publish books of my own (on Amazon and Smashwords). The sky still hasn’t fallen.

If, like me, you have the courage of Oz’s Cowardly Lion, take heart. Most things in life become easier once you’ve taken that first scary step. Even guest blogging.

Cathy Cade

Here are some links where you can read more from Cathy, or buy her books.

http://www.cathy-cade.com

http://www.facebook.com/cathycade.wordsmith

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Cathy+Cade&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/cathincade

https://www.goodreads.com/cathycade

Guest Post: Vaidehi Venkatadriagharam

I am very pleased to feature a short story sent to me by Indian blogger and writer Vaidehi.

Here is her short bio.

Vaidehi writes travel stories, short stories and haiku poems on her blog “Weary feet…Happy soul” at http://www.vvaidehi.wordpress.com. She is based in New Delhi, India.

ABANDONED

I am old and frayed now. Nevertheless, I am classy, one of substance and not like the new ones on the block. And yet, here I am, abandoned and lonely.

When I was young and in good company, I had many admirers and conversations in elegant circles revolved around me. Life was good.

Over the years, I was slowly relegated to the background. At first, to the back of the shelf and then to the trunk in the attic. But nobody can deny that I was and still am the best in deductive crime fiction. The characters that unfold as you turn my pages are still alive in the minds of people. I am told that they are still making films and serials with my main characters.

All this crowding and jostling in the trunk exasperate me. Even a trash can would be better than this! Soon, I was picked up with several others of my clan and shoved into, you guessed it right, the trash can. Talk to me about a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Abandoned and hurt, I had no faith in humankind. After a long and painful journey, I lay in the dump and resigned myself to being shred or burnt or just left to decay.

I woke up from my stupor when a gloved hand picked me up and crammed me into a coat pocket. “Now what?” I thought. I dimly remember that I passed through several hands over the next few days, none that is worth mentioning.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when the young woman looked at me with interest and I felt the care in her touch. She cleaned my red leather cover carefully, removing the smudges and stains of years of neglect and the rough and tumble of the last few days. My title glittered again and I shone like a new coin.

What does a book want? To be handled carefully, to be read with interest and to be valued. She did all this and much more.

I had been with her for quite some time when, one day, she picked me up, put me in her handbag and left for work. I was enjoying the snug ride when she took me out, put a paste-on note on my cover and placed me gently by her side on the metro train seat. I was quite happy to have a separate seat and looked around brimming with pride, to check if anyone had noticed. But I am sad to say that all of them were engrossed with a gadget held in their hands.

As my owner got up to alight, I looked up at her expectantly. To my dismay, she moved to the door, glanced back at me and got off. What? Abandoned again?

I sat there clueless and despondent. While several passed, an elderly man stopped in front of me, read the note and picked me up. Smiling, he flipped through the pages and put me in his bag. My stay with him was brief but wonderful as he too read and valued me. A few days later, I was left by him deliberately on one of the benches of a metro station.

So, here I am, lying abandoned on the metro for the umpteenth time and waiting for yet another eager reader to pick me up. I have learnt now that I am a part of a social project “book on the Delhi metro”. Books are left at prominent places on the metro trains and stations, to be picked by interested readers, who would leave the books again for others. Thus, the chain of readers continues.

Needless to say, I now love being abandoned!

If you would like to connect with her, or read more from her blog, here is another link.
https://vvaidehi.wordpress.com/

Free Book Just for Today

Hurry! Get your free copy of Stevie’s book. One day only! And please don’t forget to give it a fair review after reading.

Stevie Turner

My family drama ‘Barren‘ is free just for today. It was published in October 2020 and so far has one 5 star rating:

Esme Jones and husband Aron have completed their family and have twin sons Jared and James. Esme’s older sister Eden Reece is desperate for a child, but a hysterectomy has put paid to any chance of her becoming a parent. When Esme offers herself as a surrogate, Eden and husband Billy are delighted. However, when Esme notices the first fluttering of life inside her and a scan reveals that she is carrying a girl, both sisters are not prepared for the outcome which threatens to tear the fabric of the whole extended family apart.

As always, if you enjoy reading it, please consider leaving a review.

Apart from the usual blog hop on Monday, I’ll be winding down on writing blogs next week. We’ll be…

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There are some things a poet cannot accept

Jim says it all-via Tallis Steelyard- about the tragic loss of the lovely Sue Vincent. This community will be poorer without her, and she will always be remembered by anyone who encountered her on her blog, and in her writing. RIP, dear Sue.

Tallis Steelyard

There are times when a poet must make a stand and say, “This has happened without my cognisance and I will not accept it!” Today has not been the best of days. Today I got a note from a patron. Common enough, especially from her, as she was always quick to praise, swift to encourage. But today the note had a bitter flavour. She was sitting awaiting death. A week? Longer?

And what can a poet do? A poet can protest, a poet can stand tall and say firmly that this will not do. A poet can bang the table with his wine glass obvious of the fact it has shattered and the pieces lie glistening but incoherent, shards of dreams never now to be dreamt.

Others have known Sue for longer than I, others will doubtless feel the grief more keenly, will mourn longer, but my job as a…

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