Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

It is.

Sometimes I think I should not even write at all any more. I mean, life seems to be sucking free time out of me anyway. 

Furthermore, so many people have already written, and are still writing, so many phenomenal books (my TBR pile is humongous) that nobody will miss my stories. 

And then an idea comes, or my characters come whispering, or I tell my story to some children… and the spark just won’t be extinguished. I don’t write with an agenda – I write because it has always been a part of me.

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Why authors ♡ their characters – by Paul White

Paul White is a multitasking creative engine of a man whom I had the pleasure of interviewing a while back, concerning his new book Life in the War Zone. His outlook on his favourite character might surprise you, but it is about someone we all admire.

Why I love everyday heroes – by Paul White

My book, Life in the War Zone opens with a short story called ‘Triage’’ It starts thus….

“Jenny is my friend.

Jenny is an average girl.  

She is a little on the dumpy side. She has mousy coloured hair and wears glasses. She is ‘the girl next door’, one you would not look at twice if you passed her on a busy street. 

But Jenny has hundreds of people vying for her attention every day.

Men, women, children, babies, even entire families. They all compete to get Jenny’s attention and they all have one thing in common.

Injuries…”

This ‘Jenny’ is a real person and she is my friend. She is also an unsung hero.

You see Jenny is a triage nurse. She has spent most her twenty-six years of life working with some of the neediest and most vulnerable people on earth, the innocents caught in the maelstrom between warring factions.

Yet Jenny is not alone. The world is full of ordinary, regular, normal people who undertake most extraordinary tasks for the benefit of others with little, if any, thought for themselves.

The man who dives into the river to save a child…or a dog. The woman who scorches her face pulling someone from a burning car. Or simply the person who has cared for a disabled friend for thirty years without complaint. We hear of these deeds, these heroes every day on the television news channels.

We walk amongst the unknown, the true heroes of our world each day, we rub shoulders on the IRT, queue behind them in Starbucks and give them the finger when driving to close! They are about and among us.

True heroes do not shout out aloud for attention. They just do what they do.

They are the ones you will walk past in the street without taking a second glance.

While I was compiling this book, I found many of these heroes, the true heroes. I heard many stories of great courage, of fortitude and resilience of human spirit strewn amongst the detritus of war.

The shame is, whilst the stories in Life in the War Zone are particular to the individuals to whom they belong, they could so easily be told by so many, in so many countries.

‘Jenny’ may be a special person, yet she is far from being unique. You see, I have learnt war gives us more heroes than we shall ever be truly aware of.

Links:

Paperbacks

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=978-1542338707

USA https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=978-1542338707

Ebooks via Paul’s website goo.gl/G9do9k

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Purpose

It is not very often I share someone else’s quotes here, but this one just nails it. This matters, this is what I want our children to grow up to and into.
Purpose. Period. No gender, no race, no divisions. Purpose.#kindness #positivity

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Feelings

These are the feelings
I don’t want to feel:

ANGER
FRUSTRATION
DEPRESSION
RESENTMENT
DESPAIR
VOID
LACK OF WORTH
ARROGANCE
GREED
DISREGARD
SUPERFICIALITY
BEING BLAZEE
SUPERFLOUSNESS
SUPERIORITY
LONELINESS
REGRET
FEAR
GIVING IN
FURY
DULLNESS
BEING MEDIOCRE
APATHY
HELPLESSNESS
CRUELTY
ABUSE

They are also the feelings
I don’t want to inflict.

How?

These are the feelings
I do feel:

A LITTLE BIT OF ALMOST EVERYTHING

Why?

These are the feelings
I want to feel:
JOY
USEFULNESS
APPRECIATION
CLOSENESS
GRATITUDE
PRIDE
CONTROL (well, semi)
CREATIVITY
HAPPINESS
INSPIRATION
MOTIVATION
SATISFACTION
RELIABILITY
SELF-WORTH
RESPONSIBILITY
GENTLENESS
KINDNESS
WISDOM
EXPERIENCE
LOVE

They are also the feelings
I want to inspire.

How?

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(This poem of mine was first featured in the international charity e-book project Inner Giant, aiming to fight bullying and abuse in any and all areas by raising the level of self-esteem. My story Active vs. Passive, featured in the new collection The Twisted Tales, a Readers Avenue Park publication featuring various authors, also deals with the topic of bullying and parenthood.)

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And time goes by…

A day’s work feels like five.
I am so tired, yet still alive.
Struggling to think,
My glasses aren’t pink,
Longing for distance, longing for peace.

Morning will seem fresh,
Then some old, some rehash,
Till evening the mill will work,
Kindness will seem like a perk,
Longing for joy, longing for release.

Just a normal day – such a pity.
Should be more than the nitty-gritty.
Maybe I am not looking right,
Might be I have issues with my sight,
Longing for peace, longing for release.

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This is just me blowing off some tired steam and frustration. No literary value added tax, don’t worry;)

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Serenity of soul

Today has been one of those strange days when everything seems more difficult than normal. You get things done but you just feel so tired and at the end of your energy reserve.

Some very dear people I know have suddenly fallen ill; nothing major (I hope), but so many at once. On top of everything, it’s my husband’s birthday and we should be out celebrating, but even he, a pillar of strength and resilience, is exhausted and resting. I hope it is just a change in the weather, winter battling to preserve its post against the cheeky, lively spring.

Still, I guess we all need more serenity, more time to relax, to be alone or with someone, but in peace, away from the quickening sensation of stress and heaviness. We do count our blessings, but it is no comfort to console yourself by saying there are people worse off than you are, right?

So let me wish you all a tranquil day or night, someone you love and care for breathing calmly next to you, your partner, sibling, friend, child, parent…, in silence or with soothing music. May your souls feast on the beauty of life and feed others with joy!

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WHAT BUGS YOU? – by Elizabeth

Elizabeth Moore, one of my favourite authors, has agreed to be my guest in the What Bugs Me series. She has recently published her new novel, Incurable (see more below). In her own words, when she’s not writing feverishly, you will find her out walking or sightseeing. She’s crazy about coffee, books, good wine, cairn terriers, miniature ponies, historical houses, tapas, and witty people. Sometimes, things do bug her. Here is one of them.

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What Bugs Me

When Anita presented the “What Bugs Me” premise for her blog series, and I agreed to participate, I first came up with some obvious buggy choices: cockroaches, ants, houseflies—the usual suspects of the insect kingdom, those that drive us most crazy and seem to plague us wherever we go. Such pests can be a nuisance to be sure. But, as I pondered the underlying metaphor and considered what truly bugged me, I realized what belonged at the heart of the matter and chose the butterfly.

Of course, butterflies start out as caterpillars. Caterpillars are eating machines. They not only ruin that used-to-be-awesome wool suit in the hall closet, but they also ruin crops and wreak havoc in forests all over the world. I was shocked to learn they aren’t just homely and destructive, they often cause harm to humans.

From Wiki: Caterpillar hairs sometimes have venoms in them and species from approximately 12 families of moths or butterflies worldwide can inflict serious human injuries ranging from urticarial dermatitis and atopic asthma to osteochondritis, consumption coagulopathy, renal failure, and intracerebral hemorrhage. Skin rashes are the most common, but there have been fatalities. Lonomia is a frequent cause of envenomation in Brazil, with 354 cases reported between 1989 and 2005. Lethality ranging up to 20% with death caused most often by intracranial hemorrhage.
Caterpillar hair has also been known to cause kerato-conjunctivitis. The sharp barbs on the end of caterpillar hairs can get lodged in soft tissues and mucous membranes such as the eyes. Once they enter such tissues, they can be difficult to extract, often exacerbating the problem as they migrate across the membrane.

How scary! I remember my little sister’s odd fascination with caterpillars. Once we spent the day at the lake, and she brought two furry black specimens into the car because she wanted to keep them as pets. A few minutes into our drive she broke out in a rash on her hands and arms. Mom screamed for Dad stop the car and out they went! Mom placed her daughter in a warm bath as soon as we got home. But that wasn’t the last time my sister played with caterpillars; she thought they were so cute. I didn’t share her fondness for the furry buggers. I did love butterflies. We had a field in our neighborhood in Eastern Washington State, and I remember how colorful and abundant the butterflies were there.

Some of us recognize elegance in lowly creatures, places, and people. I’m afraid most are attracted to a more obvious beauty. The irony is: without the humble caterpillar there would be no butterfly to admire. So, as I consider the life cycle of the caterpillar/butterfly I reflect on how humans begin life as adorable babies and progress through childhood and adolescence and onto into early adulthood—which in our modern society is considered the prime of life. And, if you believe the proliferation of ads and current sentiment regarding any sign of aging, it can only go downhill from there.

I must admit, aging bugs me. Given the choice, I’d prefer to remain a lovely butterfly forever. I’m not so shallow I don’t see beauty in older faces. I just can’t tolerate an aging face staring back from my mirror.

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Thank you for your time, Elizabeth! Happy writing!

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WHAT BUGS YOU? – by Mark

Mark Fine is another one of amazing authors I met through BGS, one whose life story could be a book in itself. Apart from many issues that bug him, here is a very important one.

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WHAT BUGS ME? MOSQUITO

By Mark Fine

Why Oh why the infernal mosquito? What constructive purpose does this cursed pest play in the checks-and-balances of our fragile ecosystem? I look at its blood-swollen abdomen (my blood!) and its pile-driver proboscis plunged into my flesh (already, I feel the onrush of relentless itches) as I shake my head with frustration (the memory of the mozzie’s incessant buzz, as it closed in on me)—and all I’m left with is questioning the futility of it all.  What is it in the mosquitos’ nature that makes it so compulsively nihilistic? The answer is simple. Blood!

It has no choice but to nourish itself on bloodstream of other living creatures. It has been programmed that way. And in recompense for the generous feeding it receives from an unwilling host, well the mosquito’s generosity knows no bounds; leaving in gratitude a welt, an itch, and a cruel dose of Malaria or West Nile virus.

But the mosquito has an excuse. It is not, by my reckoning, a sentient being.  However, a human has no such excuse.

Alas, there are humans that are equally nihilistic, and significantly more destructive. And they truly bug me. Especially as they should know better, being raised themselves upon the bounty of mother earth.  Their elders in story and song, from the cradle, expressed with great passion the necessity to respect and preserve the fragile balance of our natural world. Yet, like the selfish mosquito these pesky (too kind a word, but the pejoratives I had in mind are not for the civilized) poachers have mooched and preyed upon rhino, and elephant, and zebra, and lion et al.

This rant isn’t intended to be a rationale argument. I’m not interested in debates about medicinal demand from Asia, or the poor pecuniary lot of the poachers. It’s simply wrong!

Now, I feel I must explain myself. I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the dust of Africa flowing through my veins. This happy fact has blessed me with an abiding passion—and compassion—for all living creatures. This innate love for nature has remained with me all these years that I’ve been fortunate to live in the United States.

But despite the great geographic distance from the continent of Africa, my soul aches, because I sense the cry of the voiceless. Especially those large mammals: the elephant and the rhino. Triage demands we focus on the rhino immediately as their very survival is in imminent danger. In part due to the economic might of Asia, so the appetite of superstition and libido must be satisfied in an ever growing demand. Also, the needs of terror groups to finance their deadly attacks have grown. But it’s the deadly efficacy of modern instruments of death that have accelerated the rapacious escalation of poaching in the early 21st century; whether it be mass poisoning at a drinking well or hail of fire from a helicopter gunship.

Simply stated, demand is slaughtering supply! And the stream of blood left in its wake is more than enough to satisfy a googolplex of thirsty mosquitos. So, for me the extinction of the rhino and elephant are not an option. Instead, I’d gladly volunteer the bloody mosquito as fair trade—there are certainly enough of those miserable blighters to go around. 

Mark Fine, author of THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE: An Apartheid Love Story. And #RhinoProtector.

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Thank you, Mark, for taking the time to write this post. So many things bug us, but it is important to speak up and act!

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WHAT BUGS YOU? – by Neil

Neil Newton, author of Railroad, talks about what bothers him most in life. Do read on – there is much to think about here.

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What bugs me: time lost.

By Neil Newton

Sometimes wisdom comes from odd places. There is a very good face book page called Collective Evolution, a page I recommend. A particular post that caught my attention listed the main regrets of retirees. The list turned out to be what you would expect, based on many other previous similar posts. But there was one regret that was a bit higher up on the existential chain. Paraphrased, this particular regret was about living the way that “the world” wanted, not in a way that would be true to the person you are.
A bit lofty, I’ll admit. But I think that most people would admit some slippage in terms of “being true to oneself”. The horrifying conclusion of the oft recurring regret is that many people live their lives with the advice of the ages ringing in their ears and make the same mistake their ancestors did; they wait and hope that…something would will make it right. And it goes on.

The other bit of wisdom came from an even more unexpected source. I was watching a classic movie station that is featuring film noir for the summer. Film noir is a strange animal; its birth marked the first signs of the film industry graduating from a mostly sanitized view of American life to a study of life’s underbelly, something that has been common faire in the movies since the late sixties. The protagonist in this particular movie is an angry violent cop, so out of control that he is living on the edge of being thrown off the force. The conscience of the piece is a veteran cop who is a happily married man who makes his family his anchor in life. Catching the angry cop after one of his beat downs of a suspect, he reads him the riot act. Disgusted, our angry cop ask him, “How do you live with the job.” He’s told, “I live with other people, this is just a job. You only get out of life what you put in, from the heart.”

Silly watching a black and white hard boiled middle aged cop from a movie made in 1952 and me feeling exposed. At the age of 56 I  find myself feeling the press of time but I also found myself feeling the anticipated grief for generations who are just reaching adulthood and those that have yet to come into this world. I am angry that we aren’t taught to teach our children to take reasonable risks and to try to find themselves. Or at least to try be happy.

It’s common wisdom that we all make decisions that provide the trajectory of our lives; there are always choices, they say. So if things don’t work out, it must be our fault.  But choices, good choices, are informed, something that only comes from experience.  If there is a reason that young adults sometimes meander, having dysfunctional relationships and taking only what crumbs come their way, it is often because they have been taught that the one thing that would teach them how live, life experience and risk, is a bad thing.

So what bugs me? We are a society full of conflicting messages. We treat our children like helpless morons till they reach majority and then we expect them to quickly make informed decisions about school, career, relationships with no guidance and no experience. What bugs me more is that we are often lousy stewards of our children’s growth. Encouragement to try various careers by job shadowing is an idea that has not become a trend nor will it in most parts of the U.S.

At my age there is precious little that I can do to change the trajectory of my life. Living from the heart requires years of practice. I can feel sad for myself, but I am watching teenagers and young adults struggling to figure out which way to turn. And, in many cases, I can see them beginning to waste time in the way I did.

In cultures that we would consider primitive because they don’t have cable and cellphone, young men and women are put through rituals that bring them to adulthood, psychologically, gradually and in a timely fashion. Could we do the same? I leave that question to your imagination.

What bugs me? It can be best expressed in the last line of one of the better poems I’ve read: “In all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been.”

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Thank you, Neil. You truly have given us food for thought.

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WHAT BUGS YOU? – by Elizabeth H.N.

So pleased to have a new guest here today, sharing what annoys her most in life today. Elizabeth Horton-Newton, author, family woman, social activist and multitasker is here to blow off some steam.

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What Bugs You

By Elizabeth Horton Newton

The question of what bugs me started me thinking. I thought it would be easy to come up with a pithy response. Imagine my amazement when I could not think of a single thing. Not one to give up easily I thought harder. I set my standards lower. Suddenly my brain was overrun with annoyances. People who cut me off in traffic, people who take the last cookie in the jar, people who don’t offer their seat on a bus to the elderly or disabled, drivers who are not disabled parking in handicapped parking spots, people who allow their children to run wild in malls and stores… I could go on. Yet, these seem such minor irritations. In fact, they are minor. I turned back to the drawing board.

I reexamined my list and found every entry had something in common. At their root they were all instances of rudeness based on self absorption. It seems to me in recent years people have become so self-involved they cease to consider what effect their actions may have on others. It’s a new type of selfishness, practiced on a regular basis right there in front of everyone.

I can’t say precisely when the shift came; if it was sudden or if it happened gradually over time, unnoticed even by those affected. Did it begin with adults behaving badly, teaching their children by example? Or was it children who first ran amuck, somehow undisciplined or unable to be disciplined?

Perhaps this self concern was always present beneath the surface, concealed by society’s morés. At some point it was no longer rude for people to put their desires first. Please note I did not say they put their needs first. That would be understandable to a degree. I’m talking about the crowds at Filene’s bridal dress sale known as the Running of the Brides in Boston. True, Filene’s has gone bankrupt, but while it was still in business it created a mad rush every November. Women who were not even engaged would trample one another in an effort to acquire a designer wedding dress at a ridiculously low price.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the US, is now known for injuries and deaths resulting from people fighting to get the sale item they must have to make Christmas complete. After all, they promised their child Santa would bring the ridiculously expensive toy for them to open on Christmas morning. By January the toy may lay forgotten on a playroom floor. People have been trampled, severely injured, even killed by aggressive shoppers who have no concern for others. The goal is to get the best while paying the least at any physical expense. There is a website that tallies the deaths since 2006.

You may wonder if this qualifies as simply being rude. It is perhaps the most extreme example of self gratification resulting in the most horrifying examples of rudeness. No thought is given to others in the drive to acquire some material object. Humanity goes by the wayside and instead homicidal consumerism takes over.

So, the next time you cut someone off on the highway, jump in front of another person in the grocery line, the next time you take the last Danish at a company breakfast or an extra cookie “for later”, give your actions a second thought. Did you hold the elevator door for someone hurrying to get on or did you pretend you didn’t hear as he asked you to wait? Did you look away on the subway as an older man or woman struggled to stand, hoping someone else would give up his seat? Did you park in a handicapped spot thinking you would only be a moment in the store? Do you want your child to emulate your behavior? Are you doing other selfish things unconsciously as your child looks on? Are you perpetuating rudeness with your behavior?

What bugs me? Rude, thoughtless behavior by people who are so self-absorbed they can’t see beyond their own desires and comfort. Does it bug you?

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Thank you, Lizzie! I can’t say I disagree with you;)!

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