Saturday 4 November 2023

Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Live in Truth


 This year, Queen Mimi's peace challenge was to "Change the Room":

"How do you keep your peace when all around you is chaos? The planet is groaning for peace and stability. We can change the atmosphere by walking in daily calmness and joy, even during the darkest of days. What fuels your inner peace? Tell us how you do it. We'll learn from each other."

Every story has to start from the truth, and my truth is that the last time I remember feeling peace was a very long time ago. A friend made me find that truth. She asked me to walk my spiral, to return to my centre and find that moment I lost my sense of peace.

I was about eight years old and beginning to realise my country was at war. I read my first newspaper story about a man and his wife being tortured. Not in some faraway unknown land but in my own back yard area. And the ground beneath my feet, that had felt so permanent and comforting, turned to mist.

"Never apologize for showing feeling.
When you do so, you apologize for the truth."

Benjamin Disraeli

So here is my truth. I had my first panic attack in a new country where the same old patterns of violence and war were being repeated all over again. I was 18, but that seed of anxiety was sown ten years earlier when that little me read about unbelievable cruelty and realised it was real. Real people doing terrible things to real people.

I hid my anxiety for decades, ashamed of what I saw as a flaw, a weakness. I hid myself away behind many masks. I was the clown and the joker, the comforter and advice-giver, the person who (according to many) "lit up the room."

If I could not feel peace, I could be peace.

“To live in the light of a new day and an unimaginable and unpredictable future, you must become fully present to a deeper truth – not a truth from your head, but a truth from your heart; not a truth from your ego, but a truth from the highest source.”

Debbie Ford

My truth is that I have never truly felt safe since before I was 8 years old, but recently I have finally begun to feel inner peace. I have accomplished that by doing two things:

1. Owning my truth. 
2. Accepting there is no solid ground beneath my feet.

My room is a sailing ship out at sea. I have learned to rise and fall with the ocean below me, to weather sudden storms and not drown in irrational fear. I surf my moments of extreme anxiety like the dolphin in the water below me. I am learning how to swim with them, to dive deep and not lose my breath.

There can be peace on the ocean as well as on the solid shore. 

I found this beautiful song this year. Thank you, Bukahara. It's the perfect way to end this blog post.

We are the strangersEveryone's heard ofNo one has ever seen before'Cause we make no sound
It's like eight hundred peopleWatching the same rain fallFrom up there on the 17th floorAll the way down to the ground
We are the facesBehind the windowsThere may be names on every doorBut they never leave home
It's like we're clocks that show no timeIn a house that has no stairsBut if no one caresNo one will ever let you down   
So tell me now 

If we will never be the same kind of peopleIn the eyes of thoseWho believe that we're still on the runThen everyone who feels the sameWay as we do should riseFrom the house we live in
'Cause the time has come
We are the storiesThat no one has ever toldIf we weren't quiet no moreWould our names be known?
It's like we're singing songs on the balconiesIn a choir that has no tonguesBut if no one runsWe will never be aloneSo tell me now
If we will never be the same kind of peopleIn the eyes of thoseWho believe that we're still on the runThen everyone who feels the sameWay as we do should riseFrom the house we live in
'Cause the time has come to seeTime has come to showTime has come to let you know we are hereSo tell me now
If we will never be the same kind of peopleIn the eyes of thoseWho believe that we're still on the runThen everyone who feels the same way as we doShould rise from the house we live in'Cause the time has come

Thursday 20 April 2023

The Obvious isn't always Obvious

 I've spoken about having endometriosis and how that gave me nerve damage and fibromyalgia. What I very rarely talk about is the fact I have anxiety. 

"Have anxiety" sounded better than "I suffer from anxiety", which made me see martyred saint icons waving their hands and staring up in spiritual despair. Chronic illnesses are things you learn to live with. Suffering from them is an optional extra.

I was recently annoyed by a man who commented that PTSD was "nonsense". He stated firmly that anxiety could be shrugged off, like fighting a bad cold. In a surprisingly clear moment, I replied to him and realised something so obvious I'd never seen it before.

Anxiety is like being an addict. 

It can be controlled, for years or decades, but it never goes away. I suspect depression is the same. All chronic illnesses share that in common. 

And please note here that I dislike the sub-label of "mental illness" because it gets misunderstood far too much. Depression and anxiety can be symptoms of physical problems and/or caused by chemical imbalances. So their root cause isn't automatically in the mind. I have noticed that anxiety and depression run in families, through generations. That might suggest a physical/DNA cause, but I'm not an expert. 

The other day, I went and looked at some online tests for PTSD, GAD and basic anxiety. The PTSD tests are problematic because many still focus on a single trauma triggering it. This concept is outdated, based mostly on soldiers coming out of the World Wars and other conflicts. We now know that PTSD can be caused by many small traumas as well. 

Think of it this way... whether your trauma came from a boulder smashing into you or a hundred pebbles hailing down for years, both can result in ongoing trauma anxiety - PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder), is more vague and hard to pin down. I went and looked up an online definition:

Symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder vary from person to person, but include constant worrying, a sense of dread and difficulty concentrating.

Things like exercising more, stop smoking, and drinking less alcohol can help with generalised anxiety disorder.

I burst out laughing at that end sentence. I've seen the same advice for fibromyalgia! Drink less alcohol, stop smoking and exercise. Seriously? What idiots write this stuff? I had anxiety for 20 years in Africa and during that time I did not drink alcohol and I have never smoked! :P

So which one of those labels fits me? Well, I did all the tests and scored "Extreme anxiety" on GAD and Anxiety ones. And yet… here I am. Talking, living, functioning, and nope, still not smoking or staggering about drunk. (sheesh) Thanks to the nerve damage and fibro I will admit I exercise less, but on days I do exercise more I can't say I'm instantly calm. 

I am never calm. 

But you'll never know that if you meet me. I'm outgoing; people consider me an extrovert. I seem to manage fine. But the trick is in the word "seem". Like a magician in a top hat, I have learned ways to create illusions. I don't drive a car - phobic. But for 20 years I never let anyone know that. I always managed to find a way to make them look at the wrong cup on the table. 

No one in Africa, except my closest family, ever knew I had anxiety. No one, not even my closest family, knew I was scared of driving. The driving fear might be due to some other health issue. I have always had problems focussing on movement. Playing sports at school, balls hit me in the face all the time. I also bump into things a lot. Moving things blur and overwhelm me. I cannot ride a bike for this reason, but it doesn't make me panic. 

Cars make me panic because the speed means things are far faster. If I'm a passenger, I can close my eyes if it's overwhelming. You can't do that as the driver! When I drive, I can cope if I'm going slowly and there's nothing moving around me. Add other cars, people on the roadside... nope. I'm an accident waiting to happen! 

So my fear of driving has an underlying cause. But honestly, I really don't care. 

Because there's another obvious that wasn't obvious until I started thinking about this yesterday. Every website I looked at ended with self-help very similar to that GAD one and just as useless. And as I became more and more irritated by that, I realised something.

I'm tired enough battling several chronic health issues. I don't need the extra burden of having to change myself in order to make others feel comfortable.

This is me. I am my own normal. I shouldn't need to hide behind smoke and magic capes to be accepted.

I don't want lists of ways to work hard to be accepted by the world as normal. I want a world that accepts that I will never be normal. 

Acceptance. Plain and Simple. 

And it only took me till yesterday to figure that out.

Thursday 22 December 2022

A Light for Christmas

As much as I enjoy the giving and getting of presents and watching "feel good" Christmas movies, that's not at all what this season is about for me.

As far back as I can remember, the true magic lies in stars and wise men willing to follow them, simple shepherds experiencing the unimaginable and the most humble birth of a child. The fact they are woven through with older religions gifting us traditions like Yule logs, Christmas trees, mistletoe only adds to the magic and wonder of it all. For anyone with northern ancestors, across Europe and Asia, this is the season of darkness that will be rebirthed into light.

Every year, even as a child, I like to take some time to be quiet and feel that deeper meaning. I'll turn off the lights and sit by the Christmas tree (under it when I was little!), sit with a candle or stand in my bedroom and look out at the stars. Joy is great, fun too, but for me there has to be the counterbalance of stillness. A moment when the noise and frantic bustle of the season fades away, and I find myself in the light again.

This has become even more important as the years have passed. In part because modern advertising is more and more aggressively based in consumerism rather than caring, demanding we spend and SEE THIS SALE. But in larger part I need that quiet moment because the longer you live on Earth, the more empty chairs you have at your table. 

In December 2017, we lost my dad and that has taken a huge part of the joy out of this holiday for me and my family, but he is only one empty chair of many. I'm not unique or alone in having those empty chairs. Every single person I know has at least one. This particular year, I have two dear friends who have lost parents this December and another who is waiting for that inevitable farewell with her mom.

The empty chairs aren't only loved ones who have passed, but also friends who moved on and relationships that didn't last. Christmas can be magical, but it also reminds us of what we have lost or maybe never had. And that is painful, especially when the adverts and movies are all so over-the-top with the JOY and FUN. 

Sometimes, the only way you can rekindle your light is to take time to sit with your darkness.

Try it. Find a quiet moment or place and sit with the dark. You can choose your own variation, but sitting in an empty room with a Christmas tree or by a window looking at the stars are my favourites. The dark isn't the enemy or something to be feared. The dark is completely non-judgemental. Let it wrap itself around you like a mother's loving arms; it will hold you gently. Just be with it and let all the noise go, including the voice in your head with its list of things you should be doing or should have done. Let it all go...

... and look for the light. 

Even if it's only a tiny star or one candle; it's there, and it has always been there. The light that is life and love. It is the very core of everything, including you and everyone you love, have loved or will love. So, this year I'm wishing you find your light in the darkness, but also find the way to let the dark embrace you. They need each other as much as we need them both. And wherever you are... may the light of love find you and always guide you home.

Friday 4 November 2022

Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Freedom is an Illusion

This year,  the theme for Blog for Peace is No Freedom, No Peace

"It's hard to remain unbound
when the world wants to keep you in chains. 

 Are you free? And if you're not, what is holding you back?
I am convinced that no amount of peace can spring from even a sliver of bondage.
Figure it out. What is keeping you bound? 

When you fight for your freedom you are fighting for your peace.
When we fight for OUR freedom, we are fighting for our peace.
That's everything."

I must admit, this one stumped me. Am I literally free? No. What keeps me bound, what is holding me back? Lack of money. Can I fix that? Unlikely.

Then I thought about the gloriously ironic problem facing the mega-rich preppers. It seems many super-rich are building survival bunkers, in case of the collapse of civilisation due to an apocalyptic event or 3rd world war. Thing is... once the world falls apart, money ceases to have meaning. These darling rich dumbos have realised, after carefully constructing the ultimate luxury survival bases, that those people they take with them as bodyguards and servants won't see any salary as worthwhile once money has no worth.  And then? What if the bodyguards just kick you out and take over your secret blankie fort?

In a post-apocalypse world, money will have no power.
Money as freedom will be an illusion. 

Such a hilarious conundrum! 

Are the mega-rich paranoid? Are we seeing the collapse of civilisation?  It's possible. Many modern nations possess weapons capable of destroying entire cities or small countries. The modern nuclear bombs are 80 times more powerful than those used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. How much land can you destroy with a bomb 80 times bigger?

And even before we get to that stage (which seems more and more possible, recently), there's the other problem so many places are facing - internal disintegration. I'm watching my American friends online talking about the polarisation and paranoid hate of their opposing political parties. There's mass-hysteria and paranoia everywhere I turn. I'm seeing it in news and family/friend stories from Africa, Asia, Europe, Britain... our old political systems are collapsing. They will go extinct, same as any other dinosaur, but until that is over our lives are all affected. We are living in a time of flux and change. We cannot stop this; it is inevitable. And that is scary, but also exciting. 

The positive thing about the mega-rich realising money is an illusion is that it shows us where the power actually lies. Real power is in your hands. It always has been and always will be. Power comes from people working together. Freedom comes from realising there is no "YOU vs ME", only "US".

We are all one species on a planet that could very possibly tear itself apart. The only way we can get through that, and thrive rather than merely survive, is by realising we are all one. No countries, no races, no ridiculous prejudices based on inconsequential man-made things like politics and religions. We are ONE species, quite as capable of extinction as any other. But we need to wake up and realise that.

Ultimately, the only freedom you have lies within you, not around you. Your mind is your freedom. Your soul/conscience is your freedom. You are as free as your thoughts, when you decide for yourself rather than allowing others to influence or manipulate what you think. You are as free as your integrity, when you base it on your spiritual connection to Creator/Creation rather than the morality of other peoples' ideologies. 

Freedom is an illusion until you claim your core freedoms.

And that Peace cannot be taken from you.


I've chosen a quote from one of my books, this year. It sums up my personal opinions as well as the opinion of my book character. 

One world - one species. 

We are all brothers and sisters. 

Thursday 27 October 2022

Rebranded: First Light Saga Books

It's official! My books are rebranded on Amazon as a linked series. They have new covers and some new content. 

For old fans, do not despair! Nothing good was removed or taken out, and not much has been added. A few continuity issues between book 1 and 2 needed sorting, and otherwise the only difference is a "bit of polish", as in improved proofing and formatting.

The old books covers had to go. No one liked them, not even me. They, as one reviewer complained, did nothing for the story. The new covers have so far had a great response in preview. I love them, I hope you do too. 

I originally proofread and edited my books when I was sick with Fibromyalgia and Endometriosis. Unfortunately, both illnesses give you brain fog, and my recollection of removing all typos and errors was not the case. The fact there were still errors has freaked me for years. I'm so glad it's done! I owe that in large part to my husband, who paid to have them properly proofread this time. :) I've added his name as "contributor" to both books, as a “Thank You”. 

The new Amazon series section has this up for series information: 

Book 1 of 2: FIRST LIGHT Book 2 of 2: WISDOMS OF THE LIGHT 

The lands of Sindorus are controlled by the militant Za-Har and their despotic leader, the Zah-Riel. For centuries, they have ruled through fear. No one is beyond their control.

 Or so they think…

 In this world without hope, where nature is dying and colour is a crime, an older power is awakening. From the far South, where the rebels continue fighting for freedom, to the North, where life is a constant juggling of lies and deceptions, their world is about to undergo an extreme transformation. And everything is interconnected. 

“You seek the truth, that is always the first step, and you see the colours. I’ve noticed that much more in the past months. Something has awakened you.” 

Trust the Light. 

What Readers are Saying 

‘A remarkable variety of issues and insight that is woven into an intricate tapestry of a story that has not one loose thread. Powerful, disturbing and yet beautifully inspiring.’

‘First Light is a story and a myth, an allegory and a prophecy. It is a story of the heart, of hope and courage.’ ‘the story's metaphorical layers have great relevance for the times in which we live. A wonderful read--one that people from ages 10 to 100 can enjoy and benefit from.’ 

‘The characters being so utterly vivid and the very idea behind the story being woven into a pattern, where at times you know exactly where the story is headed for, only to realize on the next page that you haven't got a clue, make this book a true page turner.’ 

 ‘What I like most about this book, which I also loved about the first book, is that it surprises you around every corner. You think you have something all figured out and then you get a few chapters on and suddenly all is not what it seemed.’ 

 ‘From the very first page you are taken on a journey immersed with completely believable characters who take root in your heart and won't let go.’  

 ‘Beautifully written, her poignant, memorable characters draw you into a tale filled with the struggle for freedom and balance. Satisfying to the mind, heart, and soul.’ 

‘Cracking read and well worth the wait’

Wednesday 6 July 2022

In Gratitude

This week, I've realised something huge - the old South Africa and (some of) the USA are very much alike; which is why so much of the USA stuff triggers me. It brings back a lot of bad memories. Maybe I've just been exceptionally unlucky, or maybe I've just been more aware. Either way, it was often nothing huge, just constant small slap downs. Slap... slap... slap... until you either break and give in or burst into Fury.

And for how to control the Fury and use it... I owe that to my mom and dad. ❤

I had parents whose motto was, "If you see wrong - fix it, help it, heal it, and ALWAYS SPEAK OUT about it."

I had great role models. ❤ Tiresome at times. As a teenager, I didn't always appreciate the fact my parents stood up and got involved. As a teen you just want to be popular. But even then, I learned a lot, and it's made me a better person. I am so grateful for their foundation.

And thank you, Srinivas Shastri, for constantly reminding me that the most powerful and healing Fury is tempered in kindness. You gave me a better view of my self.

And thank you to the women (my mom, friends and family) who taught me how to release the Fury. I tended to bottle up my anger, in fear of doing harm. I have often been the "self harmer" - preferring to be the one hurt rather than hurting. It took several wise women to teach me to trust my own voice and not back down when others tried to manipulate me. You all gave me my voice.