I really appreciate the small, simple things in life that let me know I’m appreciated: a smile, a hug, an encouraging text message or a silly SnapChat. It changes my day knowing that someone cares enough about me to share those things with me.
I was reminded again by Karen Nimmo’s blog post on Nerdome how important that is. In this world where some people will sell you just as quickly as looking at you, or push you under the bus if it means they’ll achieve their goals faster, there are some people who have no positive interactions with other people all day.
My smile might be the only one they see. My words of encouragement might be the only ones they hear. My random act of kindness might be the only light in a dark day.
Because I know what dark days are like, I understand the privilege — and the responsibility — of being able to change that for someone else.
It doesn’t have to cost anything at all. It isn’t an obligation.
It does require us to take our focus off ourselves for a few seconds and give something intangible, yet priceless, to another person.
I hope that my words here, and those of Karen Nimmo, encourage you to seek to make a difference in someone else’s day today. You never know – you might just make your own at the same time.
hink of the last time someone did something nice for you.
Not something big; just a small act of kindness — bought you a coffee or a treat, did a household chore for you before you’ve asked, asked how your weekend was (and genuinely listened to the answer).
Recall for a minute how that made you feel. Good, right? It’s not so much the act that creates the warmth; it’s that they were thinking of you, that they found the time and means to appreciate you, to ease your load or make you smile.
The world can be a dog-eat-dog place; often, we find ourselves competing to get what we want and need. But trampling over others for our own agendas doesn’t make us feel good. Quite the opposite, actually.
One of the best ways to boost happiness is to do something for someone else. Their…
Through the tears
That sprang from your pain
And fell from my eyes,
I looked into the sky
Where there was one less star shining,
And I wept for the world
Where life carries on
Just that bit darker
Today is RU OK Day, also known as World Suicide Prevention day.
This is an awareness very close to my heart.
I’m not going to expand on why, because I want the focus of this post to be positive and encouraging.
The message is important not just for today because it’s a special awareness day. This message is permanently, crucially important.
We need to take care of each other. Each of us is uniquely placed to offer support and encouragement to the people we know – friends, families, colleagues, students, whoever we cross paths with in our lives. That doesn’t mean we have to be their only support, although sometimes we might be just that.
If you think someone is down, if they look tired or unwell, or notice they’re not taking care of themselves as well as they usually do, ask them if they are okay. Don’t just ask as a throwaway question. Be willing to have a quality conversation that includes questions like:
What’s going on?
What do you need?
How can I help?
Is there someone I can contact for you?
Taking the time to check in with someone deliberately and thoughtfully is a powerful communication of care and concern.
It’s important to realise that you or I might be the one positive thing that happens in someone’s day. We might be the only source of encouragement and light that they encounter.
We also need to consider the power of our words. A curt dismissal or snide remark in response to a comment that might actually be a true confession of desperation, depression or anxiety can be incredibly destructive. We should never, ever be making a joke of that. Yes, sometimes it is attention-seeking or needless drama— but sometimes it’s not.
A kind word or message of encouragement could be the difference between someone actually deciding that now is the time to end their life, or not.
I know. It’s a huge responsibility.
But imagine a world where each of us gives someone that kind of support, and someone else gives it to us when we need it.
And if you’re thinking you’ll never need it, stop right now and be very, very thankful for the blessings in your life and the comfort of good, stable mental health. It’s not possible to emphasise enough just how lucky you are.
If you’re one of those who is struggling, or feeling like you’re drowning, or tired of treading water… please, please, talk to someone. Seek help. Look for reasons — any reason — to stay. Please stay.
I wrote this poem after one of the darkest seasons of my life thus far. I hope that you will gain both perspective and insight from reading it.
Before you read this poem, there is somethingI would likeyou to know.
This poem is absolutely, 100% true. It is personal, it is painfully honest, and it tells of my own experience, not anyone else’s. And you may find it quite confronting.
Despite its darkness, it is written to be positive, not negative.
It was not written to win sympathy or make anyone feel guilt: it was written so that people might understand what’s in my head, and what I’ve been feeling, and why I’ve made the choices I have.
To answer your concerns: I have chosen to stay here and to defy all impulses that tempt me otherwise. I don’t always feel okay, I’m not always okay, but I will be okay.
For anyone in a similar position: hold on. Stay here. You matter more than you know.
For a moment- One fleeting, isolated point in time-
It’s easy to read a post and move on, andeven easier to like a blog post without reading it.
But stop and think for a moment. How much more valuable to the writer, and other readers, if you actually bothered to respond. Isn’t that what you’d hope for when writing your next blog post? Nobody wants to invest time in writing something that people are just going to skim over.
Not only that, but you will gain more from the post and from the interaction with others than you realise.
You might gain new ideas or perspectives, or you might just end up feeling a little better about life.
It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated post. Even just saying “thank you” or “I liked this!” does the trick.
However, commenting on a blog post is more useful than just propping up the ego of some blogger who…
There’s no doubt about it: Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms on the planet.
Like anything, it can be fantastic if it’s used the right way, and it can downright dangerous if used for sinister purposes.
There are some aspects of Facebook I really enjoy:
Being able to connect with my family and friends all over the world in real time. What a blessing! When I’m homesick for someone I love – there they are! When I’m lonely – my friends are right there! I can see their pictures and videos, and respond to them right away. I can chat with them, talk with them, and send them stupid memes to cheer them up when they are down or unwell.
Being able to connect with like-minded people all over the world. As part of the Indie author community, I have received so much help, encouragement, knowledge, advice and good direction from people in Facebook groups.
It has also been a very great pleasure for me to be able to pass some of that knowledge and advice on to others, and to encourage them in their journeys.
Similarly, I’ve made some wonderful lifelong friends in a particular grammar-nerd group, and have met two of them on one of my trips overseas. I can’t imagine not knowing them or being able to talk with them.
Being able to find things I’m interested in via the pages people create. I’ve discovered some wonderful blogs to follow, some great information on specific topics, and I can’t tell you how many excellent Indie books I’ve found to read. That number has to be in the hundreds.
Being able to permanently hide things from my timeline that I don’t want to see. This is generally anything racist, hateful, or politically zealous.
Being able to permanently hide things from my timeline that I don’t want to see. This is generally anything racist, hateful, or politically zealous.
Memes, jokes, and videos that make me laugh. Some of that stuff is pure gold.
The block function. It’s really good.
Of course, with the good comes the not-so-good.
There are things I really hate about Facebook.
The fact that they don’t show me everything my friends post. If my friends think it’s worth posting, I probably want to see it. But no… Facebook gets all choosy about showing me their posts, and when showing mine to them.
Of course, they’ll tell you that boosting your post will get it shown to your friends. For $13, your post can reach… er, how about no? I’m not giving them money to show my posts to my own friends. They should do that for nothing.
That dratted algorithm. It seems any moron can make a stupid post that will go viral because people “like” and respond to it, but you can’t post a link for a product, or a blog post, or an event, or a website outside of Facebook without them suppressing it so that maybe 3% of the people who follow you or your page will actually see it.
And every time you get clever about how to communicate your product/event/website to your audience, they change the algorithm so you are actually no further ahead, yet again.
I know: it’s a business. But if they showed my stuff to the people I know, I’d probably be more interested in giving them a bit of cash to show it to folks I don’t know.
The perceived freedom some people feel they have to deride, belittle, criticise, mock and bully others. In a not-so-surprising coincidence, this correlates very closely with one of the things I hate most about people in general. Just because they’re hiding behind a profile picture or an avatar, they think they can say what they want to and have no consequences.
Not in my world, Julie. Block, block, block. Fixed.
The verdict: As much as I hate it, I love it. I’m definitely keeping it.
But if I ever meet that algorithm in person… it may just walk away with a black eye.
There has been quite some consternation among Indie authors over past months in various ways that dishonourable people have found to scam the system and get quite rich selling books that are not what they should be, particularly on Amazon, or who steal others’ books and make them available on pirate websites, or plagiarise and “rebrand” them as their own work..
Understandably, those who put a lot of effort into writing and publishing excellent books find such situations discouraging. It’s hard to be upbeat about what we do when others seem to “win” with shortcuts that are plain wrong.
It’s up to us to keep on creating fantastic stories and poetry for the readers out there who crave excellent books.
It’s up to us to hold our heads high, proclaim “I write every word of my books!” and then show the world what we’ve got.
In short, it’s up to us to show the cheaters and scammers how it should be done.
Nobody but honest and hard-working authors can restore the faith of readers in Indoe and self publishing. The only way to do that is to maintain a premium of quality in the books on the shelves in stores, libraries and homes all over the world.
We may have to work harder, smarter and cleaner than ever before. Still, we’ve had to do that in order to give traditional publishing a good shake, and we’ve certainly achieved that.
We Indies have so much to offer. We have each other for support and an entire future that is yet to be shaped ahead of each of us.
I refuse to quit. I refuse to let the scammers win. Who’s with me?
It should come as no surprise that when you’ve been listening to people say the same thing for a while, you get better at understanding what they really mean.
Person Z. Take, for example, a young woman who approaches her friends and family members and says something like, “Hey, so, I’m having a fancy brand-name plasticware/linenware/healthy and beauty product/accessory/clothing party at my house in a couple of weeks, and I really hope you’ll come.”
What she’s really saying: Option A: I got sucked into one of these parties by relative/friend X, and she looked so hopeful that someone would book a party so she’d get some reward, and my mouth was open before my brain could stop it.
What she’s really saying: Option B: There’s a thing this company makes, and I’d really like to have it, but it’s expensive so I’m having a party and anything you buy will help me get it cheaper.
I’ve been on both ends of the equation, and can totally sympathise. It’s fair to say I’ve smiled and nodded through a whole bunch of those evenings, and even bought a thing or three, to help friends and family members out. From time to time, I’ve also been the Option A person.
Person Y. In another example, a child approaches family members and friends and explains that the school is selling chocolates/holding a “fun run”/doing some kind of suffer-a-thon as fundraising for a new toilet block so the kids can “go” comfortably during breaks.
What the child is really saying: Option A: The school insists that I must do this thing and there’s no way out of it, so please give me some money toward it so it’s not for nothing.
What the child is really saying: Option B: There are prizes for doing this, and I really want the floppitywoppity that you can only get if you raise $5000, so please give me some money to give me a fair chance at winning one. Again, I’ve helped more than one kid out of the hole. I don’t know if any of them ever got the floppitywoppity, but I know I have helped to build more than one toilet block in my time.
Person X. Then, there’s the Indie author. Actually, it could be any Indie creative – an artist, musician, or crafter. I just decided to use an author as the example here, because that enables me to draw on my own experience again. Person X has a passion for writing, a message they want to get out to the world, and they finally get their book published. They tell their friends and family members that they have a book out, and they’re about to tell them what it’s about…
What the author is really saying: Option A: I finally fulfilled my dream. Aren’t you happy for me?
What the author is really saying: Option B: I did a thing! I may never become a millionaire, but I did a thing! Please proud of me!
What the author is really saying: Option C: Remember all those times I supported your party plan things? And your fun runs? And your kids’ school toilet blocks? And…
…But as Person X talks, there are virtual crickets chirping, and eyes looking nervously at the door, and people checking their phones, and remembering appointments they need to be at, and… What the others are really saying: Option A: Well, this is awkward… who ever thought he/she was brave enough to get out there and do the thing! What the others are really saying: Option B: Yeah, we know you’ve supported us and our kids, but we’d prefer not to mention that now, because I would rather put my cash toward fancy plastic ware/linen/clothes/beauty products/accessories or a gym membership than some book by someone nobody’s ever heard of.
What the others are really saying: Option C: What the heck are we supposed to do now? We hope he’s not going to ask us to actually read it… maybe if I don’t ask what it’s about, he’ll stop talking about it.
What the others are really saying: Option D: But… you’re my brother/sister/cousin/relative/friend… how could a book you wrote even be any good? A bit full of yourself, aren’t you?
Person W. The final example is the one person in the room who hugs you and says, “Awesome! That’s fantastic! I’ll buy your book! How much do you want for it? You’ll sign it for me, won’t you? I can’t wait to tell my friends what you’ve done!”
What they’re really saying: Option A: I’m proud of you, and I’m on your team.
What they’re really saying: Option B: I’ll probably never read it, but I’m proud of you, and I’m on your team.
What they’re really saying: Option C: “Awesome! That’s fantastic! I’ll buy your book! How much do you want for it? You’ll sign it for me, won’t you? I can’t wait to tell my friends what you’ve done!” then looking over their shoulder with a glare at the rest of the people in the room who were too selfish to do or say anything.
The moral of the story: Option A: I’m really thankful for every ‘Person W’ in my life. I had no idea when I embarked on my journey as an Indie author that it would hurt so much to know there were so many Zs and Ys in my circles, but I also had no idea how wonderful it would be to know who the Ws were, and that they were on my team.
The moral of the story: Option B: Always be a W. Even if you never read the book, be a W.
Now that I am making more progress in my recovery from my spinal surgery and I am moving a little more freely, I’ve decided to be more deliberate and purposeful about starting to retrain my muscles and building up some stamina for both my body and my mind.
Today I got out some pencils and a book, and started colouring, which is always something that makes me happy and peaceful. It’s also something I can do standing at the kitchen bench. I don’t have to do it all at once – it’s something I can do, and leave, and go back to through the day.
It may not seem like much, but getting this much done is a big achievement for me. I have been largely horizontal and only walking fairly short distances -although frequently – since the surgery on my spine on October 19.
Since my last update on my recovery, the first lot of bruising has faded to a dull shadow and the deeper bruising has begun to come to the surface now, so I am still all the colours of the rainbow, but the pain is less intense and more manageable now. I’ve ventured out of the house and walked around the yard, and begun to do light things around the house like folding laundry and doing dishes. Things that exhausted me at first are easier now, which is really encouraging. I have, however, learned the hard way that I am not ready for cutting pumpkin (it was just a little bit of butternut) or bending to get things out of low places. You don’t know until you try, right? Suffice to say that dinner on Monday was delicious, but I paid for it on Monday night and yesterday. The aggravation has settled now, though, much to my relief.
Sitting for any length of time is still an issue: I’m currently managing about ten minutes at a time before I have had enough. That means I will have to be ready to stand up most of the day when I go back to work in a couple of weeks. I will have exams to mark and papers to grade, so this seems like a good way to begin to prepare for that sort of thing. I can gradually build up to standing for longer periods of time without feeling any pressure to “perform”.
I also plan to start walking a bit further than I have been, especially now that I am a bit more confident and steady on my feet.
I fully understand that healing and recovery can’t be rushed, but I think that small progress in these ways will only help me to get stronger. And when I have had enough each time, my bed or my recliner will still be here waiting for me.
Today I am feeling positive and encouraged, which is also helpful to my healing and easier to live with all round.
One of the things I love most about the Indie author community is the way people encourage each other and work together.
Of course, you can find bullies and selfish people anywhere, but I have been very blessed to move in really supportive circles full of very positive people.
One such group goes by the name of Sparkly Badgers. It’s a group based on Facebook, although the members can be found on all sorts of social media. The Sparkly Badgers are deliberate about encouraging and supporting each other and the books we write.
They’ve done something really special recently, though, by creating the Sparkly Badgers’ Christmas Anthology.
This book is a family-friendly Christmas themed anthology designed to not only provide readers with an excellent collection of holiday reading, but also to raIse money for the Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled. It’s a project I am most honoured and proud to be part of, and which I am happy to encourage my readers to order.
It contains short stories and poetry in a variety of genres, all related one way or another to the Christmas theme.
All profits from the sale of this delightful book will go towards enriching the lives of disabled kids by providing them with a most enjoyable and memorable experience.
The Sparkly Badgers Christmas Anthology is available for preorder now, and is due for release on November 16. After that date, it will also be available in paperback.
I’ve preordered my copy, and I hope you will, too!
It’s available on Amazon.