Do you believe me?

“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.” 
― Edgar Allan Poe

If you are a constant visitor to my site, you probably know by now that my favorite authors are King, Poe, and Lovecraft. I read Straub-master of literary horror they say- once in a while and you know what the funny thing is, I am not a fan of anything horror. I find horror movies funny and whenever I read the works of those writers I have mentioned above, I failed to see anything horror in their writings. There is nothing ghastly frightening morbid or shocking in there as far as I’m concerned.

If I’m not a fan of horror and don’t prefer macabre tales you might wonder why I read them. The explanation is simple enough: because they write so well. And they write easy to understand phrases devoid of flowery words, and when it comes to King, I admire the way he can make ordinary whatever into something extraordinary. And Lovecraft can convey feelings and emotions so strong you can almost taste it. So does Poe. And that’s why I love them and not because I am fond of gristly and gory. It just happened that they write horror stories.

Do you believe me?

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Dead Toad Scrolls

We tend to see ourselves through other people’s eyes. We respond to how other people actually treat us as well as to an imaginary audience of people who we presume are judging us. Even living in total isolation of other people, I would construct a sense of personal identity based upon how I thought other people would evaluate me if they could only see me now.

The road to self-improvement does not begin with the realization of other people’s scorn. Personal salvation commences with the determined excavation and displacement of a crusty layer of self-denial, which defense mechanism camouflaged my intensifying sense of self-repugnance for how I acted in this earthly life.

Enforced seclusion from society and personal introspection are not the product of brilliant intellectual insight or a calculated election. Escape was necessary when reality proved too harsh.

Self-examination requires time alone spent in thoughtful study. We naturally fear aloneness, which reluctance can stifle attaining self-knowledge. In her 1942 memoir titled ‘West with the Night,. Beryl Marham spoke eloquently why we must overcome our fear of aloneness and conduct a search for our inner authenticity. “You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself. You learn to watch other people, but you never watch yourself because you strive against loneliness. If you read a book, or shuffle a deck of cards, or care for a dog, you are avoiding yourself. The abhorrence of loneliness is as natural as wanting to live at all. If it were otherwise, men would never have bothered to make the alphabet, nor to have fashioned words out of what were only animal sounds, nor to have crossed continents – each man to see what the other looked like.

We are conscious beings always experimenting with the mystery of becoming our ultimate manifestation.

If we cleaved ourselves in half to examine our daily mind chatter under a microscope, who amongst us would daringly display the sediment of their innermost thoughts for public consumption? A tattler’s tale reporting the silted musings resembling my tarnished soul is probably the most typical scorecard. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), an English novelist and poet declared, “If all hearts were open and all desires known – as they would be if people showed their souls – how many gapings, sighings, clenched fists, knotted brows, broad grins, and red eyes should we see in the market place!” My unsavory report card is indistinguishable from the blemished masses. Etched into the end zone of my life playing field are the horrors of gluttony, greed, failure, and humiliation. Recognition of my sinful life led directly to a rash act of despondency. Commission of a ream of sins is a reflection of my weak character. Guilt from leading a sinful life, not a strong character, manufactured the overwhelming despair that caused me to seek absolution. The willingness to grade myself as less than a satisfactory human being might be my only hope of ever achieving spiritual salvation.

A self-concept is fluid; it is composed of numerous ongoing self-assessments forming an awareness of a person’s physical and mental attributes. Our perception of self comes from our interaction with all of nature and is especially dependent upon social interactions with parents, siblings, spouses, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and other acquaintances. Self-identity includes an understanding of a person’s personality attributes, knowledge of their skills and abilities, taking stock of their values and religious affiliations, and tallying their choices for occupation and hobbies. Identity is a mixture of our resilience and our energy; it is the product of our aggressiveness and meekness. We forge an identity with the arms we bear to protect our territory and by the gentleness that we exhibit towards other people. Identity is weaved from sunshine and shadows. It derives from good and evil conduct; it encompasses a sense of love, wonder, and loss.

A person without a crystalline sense of self lives a mythless existence; they lack a definitive path to follow in life. Deprived of a solid sense of self, dispossessed of a connection to the past, destitute of a grounding sense in the present, a person leads a leaden and aimless existence.

None of us remains invulnerable to the demands of our physical survival or stands aloof and insusceptible to the shaping influences of society. We live in a social world and the prevailing cultural norms affect each of us.

Every step in life is a testing ground. Some active and perceptive people never stop blossoming regardless of what experience they encounter while other people seem to wilt with the slightest provocation.

The human mind is the artist of our mutable state of inwardness. External action signals to other people our inner composition. We control our present state of happiness. Each personal action taken or not undertaken subtlety or profoundly alters whom we were, influences whom we now are, and amends who we might become. Our shifting self-image controls our present state of personal happiness.

A strict self-image demonstrates a predisposition to maintain a rigid explanation and definition of a person. Our self-image becomes self-perpetuating because of the tendency of the mind to exhibit partiality regarding what we attend to and preference in what we are prepared to accept as true about the world and ourselves.

― Kilroy J. Oldster

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Mr. Right

If someone would ask me which part in a movie I would like to play, that would be of Bathsheba Everdene, the heroine in Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd. And like Carey Mulligan, who insisted and got what she wanted, I would love Matthias Schoenaerts to play Gabriel Oak. Heck, I would play any part opposite him. Physically, the guy has everything I don’t fancy in a man but there is something about him that makes him so irresistible and he is a Belgian which makes him more accessible to me. Dream big right?

On the other hand, the storyline isn’t new to me. Move over Bathsheba, if you got three suitors vying for your attention, I once had five if not an entire basketball team.

But that was once upon a time.

Dreaming of Matthias Schoenaerts is what’s now left of my once technicolor life.

Still, dream big right?

And keep dreaming…

Matthiasschoenaerts

Poems and Stories

Genuine artists talk to us about ourselves, more specifically about those parts of ourselves that we keep hidden – the strange parts, the dark parts. But these people wear their strangeness as a badge of honor, making it an important part of their identity. This is why they touch us. This is why we really want to be them. What we really envy is how open they are with their strangeness, when we are afraid. Deep down, we all know that one only becomes an individual when one stops hiding their strangeness.

– Anca Rotar  

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Oops I Did It Again

After a long wait I finally found the time to revised and published the third installment of five autobiographical books I have written more than twenty years ago and hid in a shoe box inside a closet. I did not do it for money or fame but for future reference. For safe keeping. Time is running out and I want it to be out there before it’s too late.

You can find it here. As usual, there is a picture widget on the right side of my blog and if you click the image it will bring you to my author page. Check it out when you have some time to spare.

The book is about Michael and his journey of becoming a man and meeting the love of his life and future wife. But life is never been that straight forward and seldom obstacle free. The woman he set his eyes on is not only married with two kids, she is also his teacher. Can Michael bridge the gap of age, education, background and social status between them? Can true love really conquer all?

Why don’t you find out?

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Calling

At long last...

After sitting in a shoe box inside the closet with four others for almost twenty years, I finally have the courage to publish the second installment in a pentalogy of autobiographical stories about a need and desire so strong it transcends time and death. Each book in this series can stand alone and can be read in any order.

ask yourself:

What are you prepared to give up for freedom? How far are you willing to go to follow your heart’s desire?  Would you put everything on the line for something that cannot last? Do you have enough courage to challenge the status quo and go against the flow even if it is for the wrong reasons? How important is a family for you? Are you willing to sacrifice them for a moment of madness, for a fleeting glimpse of what could have been?

This story will question everything you believe in and more. 

As usual, I put an image widget on the right sidebar of my homepage. You can click it if you wish and it will bring you to my author page where you can sample and purchase the book if desired. I copy the link here as well for easy access. Until next time… 

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Daily Prompt: Calling

How Pile of Books Taught Me to Let Go

Spring has sprung, and my 2017 quest to live mindfully, with less clutter, has continued.

I was inspired by an article to try the popular KonMari Method of cleaning. The basic idea is to collect all items of a similar nature from around the home and place them in one pile.

Once gathered, it is much easier to decide what to recycle, give away, or keep. One should start with items with little attachment, like magazines. I easily gave them all away. Then, work toward others with more attachment, like for me, an English major, it is books. I wanted to keep them all forever, no matter how dusty they might be.

Picture this: a tall stack of books with different shapes and colors. How high is the stack in your mind?

Make it grow, so much so that the image from Shel Silverstein’s poem, “Sara Silvia Cynthia Stout,”comes to mind. From the smaller sized Life’s Little Instruction Book and Talking Dirty to the Queen of Clean, to the larger Book of Awakening, there they stood staring at me. It became immediately evident that these books offered a reflection of my life. The titles mirrored the many sides of me and my changes along the way.

Books like KonMari Method and The Minimalists held my hand when I resembled a potential mad woman: cleaning, scrubbing, and purging relentlessly for days. Those titles taught me about my tangled emotions caused by our overload of things.

I faced the fear of perceived judgment; thinking others would judge my ability to be a good wife or mother by how clean my home was. By sorting and clearing, I did the same to the thoughts in my head. As Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Change your thoughts, and you change your world.”

Less stuff in the house equals less stuff to pick off of the ground. I looked forward to more time focused on life’s joys.

Some of the books reminded me of when I acted like a pig in a pile of corn. What was happening in life that I couldn’t slow down and taste my food? When life threw too many lemons my way, I needed to be taught how to sit and sweetly sip lemonade instead. So, I read. Guidebooks like Eight Weeks to Optimum Health and collections of recipes came to the rescue by Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and much more. I found better foods to crunch and reminded myself how nice meals are at a slower pace.

The lost athlete inside me was in that stack, too. I went from having fun playing sports every day to being injured and idle. Looking back, why did I smack so many tennis balls? Why did I walk at a pro’s pace? Why did I cycle for hours on end? Books like the Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance and The Power of Now helped me center my thoughts when I needed focus. Now in my hands, I wondered if I could let those titles go. I wanted to gain all of that back after my knee surgery and rehabilitation.

I thought back to what I needed when I started participating in the 30-day hot yoga challenges over and over again. Meditations from the Mat and 40 Days to Personal Revolution walked me through my quest for self-care. They brought me closer to an inner knowledge and some peace. Those might be the titles to hang on to as my new knee may need a gentler approach.

Lastly, I saw in that stack books my sense of wonder and thirst for something greater. Awareness, How to Have a Mary Heart in a Martha World, The Urban Monk, Ethics in the Real World, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, Love Wins, Tao of Pooh, Kids are Worth It, The Four Agreements, Living Beautifully, and multi-colored prayer books stood out from the crowd. They were among the cherished titles that I have highlighted, scribbled upon, and stained throughout their time in my hands. Each one graciously guided me as life ebbed and flowed.

How was I to know which books to keep and which to toss? The KonMari Method encourages the reader to hold each individual item collected in their hands and feel the response. Does the item bring joy or a memory of joy? If it truly brings joy, one may decide to keep it. However, if it brings up memories or other emotions, let it go. Memories are already with us: We don’t need the tangible reminder collecting dust.

I imagined all of those books in one backpack that I needed to carry for the rest of my life. Then, I laughed—I’m still a book nut with genuine joy in more than a few works. So, I imagined all of those books in a larger roller bag instead.

As I began the next phase, I did it. I, literally, let go. Goodbye to the melancholy. So long to the search for something more. I was happy in the present moment and did not need the crutches that got me here. I kept more than I had originally intended, but most of the stack is gone.

Hopefully, they will now help someone new.

Are there items weighing down your space, thoughts, or life?

Do they look at you as a reminder of what was?

Why are they still with you?

Do you still need them?

If you are ready to make changes, try the KonMari Method. I highly recommend it.

Seeing everything thing you own of one item in a single pile certainly made an impact on me.

~Author: Kate Fleming 

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Open Wounds

They say the worst wounds, the deadliest of them, aren’t the ones people see on the outside. They’re the ones that make us bleed internally. It reminds me of what J.K. Rowling once said, that some wounds run too deep for the healing. True, but I want to do something about mine; I can’t nurse them forever and continue bleeding so, I followed Oprah’s example. She said: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

What I did was gathered all the poems I have been writing for the last two years, bundle them into a book and published my first anthology of poetry. They are about pain, longing, desires, dreams, hope, life and love done in a variety of formats. You can find them here  or click the image widget on the upper right side of my blog page, it will take you directly to the site.

Thank you in advance for checking it out and please feel free to pass the word around.

I Did It!

After years of deliberation, self-doubt; hesitation and being a coward; I finally did it. I published my first E-book! No more hiding, no more excuses. It is out there now. There is nothing I can do about it. I would appreciate so much if you check it out and maybe purchase it? Thank you in advance.

Here is the link: The House Across The Street 

There is also an image widget on the top right-hand side of my blog page. You can simply click it and it will take you there.

Synopsis:

What if everything you believe in turns out to be nothing but lies? What if everything you hold dear is nothing but a figment of your own imagination? What if the love that you thought was for keeps doesn’t exist at all? What if you don’t know anymore who you can trust including your own self? What if you begin doubting everyone, everything, even your own sanity? What if your almost perfect world suddenly crumbles around you and there is no one you can turn to?

When R.M. came home one day from school and found out that the house across the street wasn’t anymore for sale he thought: Finally, a new neighbor. He never suspected that the seemingly simple and ordinary occurrence would start a series of events that will change the core of his existence and will have a great impact on his future. For R. M. life was about to change that day and not for the better…

See you there!

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Dying…

I was in the charity shop this afternoon trying to find some interesting books to read finding none and I thought: “How sad.”

How sad it is to see those empty shelves that used to house hundreds of books one can get lost in it for hours at times. Now, they are gone. I went to a lot of such places this weekend in the hope of finding some suitable reading materials but what’s on offer was so little compare to a couple of years ago.

There was a time that books are everywhere. You cannot turn a corner without bumping into a bookstore, but in my city alone, several of those shops have closed their doors due to low patronage. It breaks my heart to witness another dying culture.

 When browsing in second hand bookstores, not only customers are spoilt for choice they can be selective as well for there were products in abundance; now, that privilege is a thing of the past. I began to notice the decline in offer when I failed to find my favourite authors among the selection. First, I settled on finding good books. It doesn’t matter who wrote them as long as the stories are interesting enough to keep me busy. I am a voracious reader anyway, and I can consume a great quantity of materials on so short time that if I am going to purchase all my reading pleasure brand new, I will be soon on the edge of bankruptcy. That’s why I frequent charity shops to sustain my needs.

When even good books became a rarity, I talked myself into buying paperbacks that are “good enough.” That was also a time when I consider going to a library. But I hate rules and I dislike deadlines and I tend to abuse my books by bringing them everywhere and not using bookmarkers because I tend to lose them, I fold a corner of a page instead. Underlining the passages I like and highlighting them with coloured markers are some of my sinful preoccupation while reading. I think no library would appreciate that.

Now, even mediocre books are very hard to find. Especially if one is looking for reading materials that are written in English but living in a country that does not have English as the principal language. I am aware that there is this thing called E-Book, and that is the only thing I know about it. Frankly, I am not interested knowing also. At least, not yet. Not as long as I can find printed materials to read. It reminds me of the time that I stupidly refused to change my nationality out of principle. Till someone opened my eyes to the possibilities and advantages of acquiring one and to be honest, I had no choice. Not, if I want to see my children growing up.

Why I am not interested in using E-Book? Well… there are so many reasons, but the most important of them all is because I believe that the ultimate reading experience involves holding an actual book. Something you can smell (I love smelling books, old or new) caress the pages… there is something erotic about turning those folios (or leaves if you preferred) books turn me on and I unwittingly impart this knowledge to my ex who never hesitated to use it against me whenever he deemed appropriate.

One of my secret fantasies is to be locked up in a vast library (or a museum) for a week, living side by side with all of those magnificent stories. It’s better than travelling sometimes and certainly preferable than having sex. I imagine gliding my hand across their spines, feeling the textures, the hardness, embracing their aroma… the thoughts that thousands, probably millions of people handled them, found knowledge and solace between their pages is a humbling experience.

But my first love is dying. Dying in the hands of modern society. The same society who used to respect and recognize the value and power of printed materials by making them available for everyone who seeks to be educated and advance in any field. The same society who became knowledgeable with the help of books is now ignoring and casting them away in exchange for modern technology.  I know that the only constant in this world is changes but can we at least preserve some of our most prominent culture/tradition/heritage/whatever? A lot of those are disappearing in the name of progress which makes me question if we are really improving.

I am aware that there are great buildings that house rare volumes. But I am not talking about those. I am talking about the accessibility of tangible educational reading materials to ordinary mortals in the comfort of their own homes, in their own tempo. I rather get rid of those fashion glossy magazines and gossip tabloids in favour of bringing back the good old books. And comics and snail mails, etc. But that is for another post…  

Now, I’m scared. I’m scared that one day the only way I can see books is from behind protected glass, admiring it from a distance, which makes me think of pictures of Dinosaurs and certain animals that you can only see from afar in the zoo. If you’re lucky.

Isn’t it a sad, sad affair?

 

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Oops

“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ”  1 Corinthians 13

Religion is supposed to be our comfort when the hard times come. God is our rod and our staff, the Great Psalm declares; He will be with us and bear us up when we take that inevitable walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Another Psalm assures us that God is our refuge and our strength, although the people who were victims of all evils might dispute that. Let’s say plainly what Saint Paul meant when he spoke of that darkened glass. He meant we are supposed to take it all on faith. If our faith is strong, we’ll go to heaven, and we’ll understand the whole thing when we get there. As if life were a joke, and heaven the place where the cosmic punchline is finally explained to us.

Christ taught us to to turn the other cheeks and love our enemies. We pay the concept lip service, but when most of us are struck, we try to pay back double. Christ drove the money changers from the temple, but we all know those quick-buck artists never stay away for long, if you’ve ever sat yourself down to a rousing game of church bingo or heard a radio preacher begging for money, you know exactly what I mean. Isaiah prophesied that the day would come when we’d beat out swords into plowshares, but all they’ve been beaten into in our current dark age is atomic bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

And what do we get for our faith? For centuries we’ve given this church or that one our gifts of blood and treasure? The assurance that heaven is waiting for us at the end of it all, and when we get there, the punchline will be explained and we will say, ” Oh, yeah! Now I get it.” That’s the big pay off. It’s dinned into our ears from our earliest days; heaven, heaven, heaven! We will see our lost children, our dear mothers will take us in their arms! That’s the carrot. The stick we ‘re beaten with is hell, hell, hell! A Sheol of eternal damnation and torment. We tell young children that they stand in danger of eternal fire if they steal a piece of penny candy or lie about how they got their new shoes wet.

There is no proof of this after-life destination; no backbone of science; there is only the bald assurance, coupled with our powerful need to believe that it all make sense. Religion is the theological equivalent of a quick-buck insurance scam, where you pay in your premium year after year, and then, when you need the benefits you paid for so religiously, you discover the company that took your money does not, in fact, exist.

We came from a mystery and it’s to a mystery we go. Maybe there is something there, but it’s not God as any church understands Him. Look at the babble of conflicting beliefs and you will know that. They cancel each other out and leave nothing. Believe what you want to believe but I tell you this: behind Saint Paul’s darkened glass, there is nothing but a lie… 

~ Stephen King (Revival)

 

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