Not Child’s Play
Rascals watch her play,
She’s the queen of the castle,
She’ll reign forever
And ever, hallelujah!
Queen of queens wears fresh, green crown.
Not Child’s Play
Rascals watch her play,
She’s the queen of the castle,
She’ll reign forever
And ever, hallelujah!
Queen of queens wears fresh, green crown.
I’ve recently experienced an important milestone in my life, my retirement, after 38 years a teacher. In the months leading up to my retirement, and beyond, I’ve had a lot of time, and desire, to think about my life so far, goals achieved, goals to be achieved, done lists, to do lists, etc.
I’ve also been listening to a lot of Ted Talks and reading motivational books, both of which I’ll be gradually reviewing and discussing in future blog posts.
There’s plenty of information on the Internet regarding affirmations. This post is about my daily affirmations and what they mean to me and do for me. I hope they’ll be useful for you, too.
Why do we need positive affirmations?
It’s simple, we need to counteract negativity, which is harmful and far too easy to get stuck in. If you want to know more about how negativity works and how to avoid it, listen to Alison Ledgerwood’s Ted Talk, which has been watched by almost nine million people on the Ted website and Youtube.
We need to promote optimistic thoughts and counteract the power of negativity with positive affirmations.
What are positive affirmations?
Well, in spite of being very simple, the process is complex, because you have to be convinced it’s worth investing in them, which is a personal and non-transferable procedure each one of us has to go through themselves. However I hope my affirmations will help you think about your own.
My 11 Daily Affirmations
These affirmations are like the tip of an iceberg. Each three words have a much deeper meaning and conjure up a complex and life-changing thought processes.
As an example, I’ll explain what each affirmation means to me, so when I say it, I’m encompassing a much wider meaning in just three words.
By writing down, repeating out loud and owning my personal affirmations, I’m recalling them, acknowledging them and summoning them and everything they mean to me every day.
This process takes some time, certainly more than the few minutes it takes to write them down, and yet those first minutes are vital, because every journey starts with the first step.
So, I urge you to read up about affirmations, make your list and think deeply about what every affirmation means to you, own them and be happy!
The path is narrow,
With many a winding turn,
Which leads us to who knows where,
Who knows when, or why?
So, Crunch the leaves,
Stare at the sky,
Feel the wind swipe your cheeks,
While the sun tickles your eyes,
Because that’s enough.
Enjoy your walk!
I live outside my city, but not far enough that I can’t walk into town. I could take the car or catch the bus, but as I’m in no hurry at the moment, I enjoying a long, brisk walk. (I spent many years rushing to work, shopping and taking the kids to school and after school activities!).
Sometimes life is so demanding that we forget what a simple, quiet walk can do for us. We can stop for a few minutes to listen to, see and feel the trees, wind, and sky, which is so mentally and physically refreshing.
I love walking. It’s great exercise and I have time to think about so many things that time flies by!
As I already told you, I’m terrible at following rules, so not only have I written a poem, I’ve also told you all about the picture!
Enjoy your Monday! I hope you can spare a few minutes for a walk:)
Jane Eyre is the most famous female, literary orphan in English literature, but what do we know about Jane Eyre’s mother?
Surprisingly, for a character who doesn’t appear in the novel and is hardly mentioned, we know a great deal. We know her name and maiden surname, how and we she died, who and why she married, a few things about her family and some significant aspects of her personality.
The first time her mother is mentioned, Jane is at her uncle, Mr Reed’s house. Jane tells the reader:
I could not remember him (Mr Reed); but I knew that he was my own uncle—my mother’s brother— that he had taken me when a parentless infant to his house;
Consequently we know that her mother’s maiden name was Reed and that her husband’s surname was Eyre. We also learn that Jane has no memories of her father, her mother or her uncle, because she was an infant when they died.
Jane also tells us about the effect that the lack of loving parents or relatives affected her personality. Well before Freud identified and shared his theories regarding the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious mind, Jane Eyre was fully that her parents’ absence was affecting her moods and character were due to factors beyond her control, within her psyche.
Ten year-old Jane tells Mr. Lloyd, an apothecary, called in by Mrs.
Reed when she fainted after being punished and locked in the red room:
I am unhappy,—very unhappy, for other things.’
‘What other things? Can you tell me some of them?’
How much I wished to reply fully to this question! How difficult it was to frame any answer! Children can feel, but they cannot analyse their feelings; and if the analysis is partially effected in thought, they know not how to express the result of the process in words. Fearful, however, of losing this first and only opportunity of relieving my grief by imparting it, I, after a disturbed pause, contrived to frame a meagre, though, as far as it went, true response.
‘For one thing, I have no father or mother, brothers or sisters.’
Jane describes herself as unhappy because she is missing the family she doesn’t have. A contemporary psychologist might suggest that, as an orphan, Jane was vulnerable and predisposed to physical and psychological risks such as depression and antisocial behaviour, and would probably need counselling. Instead she was plunged into an unloving household, where she was demeaned, neglected and physically and psychologically abused. There could have been many outcomes to her future personality, she could have sunk into disruptive behaviour or swam to the surface as a stronger, fiercely independent, determined and kind person.
Jane Eyre found out about her parents’ death and bad relationship with her maternal grandfather, Mr. Reed, from Bessie, a servant at her aunt’s house. Bessie in turn had learnt this information from another, older servant at the house, Miss Abbot.
“On that same occasion I learned, for the first time, from Miss Abbot’s communications to Bessie, that my father had been a poor clergyman; that my mother had married him against the wishes of her friends, who considered the match beneath her; that my grandfather Reed was so irritated at her disobedience, he cut her off without a shilling; that after my mother and father had been married a year, the latter caught the typhus fever while visiting among the poor of a large manufacturing town where his curacy was situated, and where that disease was then prevalent: that my mother took the infection from him, and both died within a month of each other.”
This passage informs us that her mother married a clergyman for love, against her family’s wishes. Jane was aware that her mother valued love over social convention or economic stability.
Nine years later, while Jane is working at Thornfield, she was called to visit her Aunt Reed, who was on her deathbed. Jane took the opportunity to ask her why her aunt hated her so much.
‘I had a dislike to her (Jane’s) mother always; for she was my husband’s only sister, and a great favourite with him: he opposed the family’s disowning her when she made her low marriage; and when news came of her death, he wept like a simpleton. He would send for the baby; though I entreated him rather to put it out to nurse and pay for its maintenance. I hated it (referring to Jane) the first time I set my eyes on it…’
Thus Jane learns that her aunt had hated her mother and that she was jealous of her husband’s affection towards the helpless baby.
In summary, we know that Jane Eyre’s mother, Mrs Eyre, née Jane Reed, was beloved by her brother, Jane’s Uncle Reed, who had been a well-to-do magistrate, before his premature death. We also know she was estranged by her parents for marrying a clergyman, Mr Eyre, whom they considered was below her station. We know she married for love, that Jane was born nine months after their marriage and was a three-month old baby when her parents died, a year after marrying. Mrs Jane Reed Eyre died of typhus, a disease contracted by her husband first. We can infer that she was a passionate, independent and determined woman, who was prepared to turn her back on her family and material comforts, in order to marry the man she loved.
It surprises me that Jane only mentioned missing her mother once as a ten-year-old child and never mentioned her mother as an adult. Grown up Jane seemed to have completely wiped her mother out of her thoughts, perhaps because she had no memory or image to cling to. On the other hand, we can imagine her mother’s influence in Jane’s famous quote that she’d rather be happy than dignified. It definitely seemed to have been her mother’s motto too!
I’d also like to remind you that today, 31st of March, is the anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s premature death in 1855, at the ge of 38. She was pregnant when she and her unborn child died.
Her death certificate gives the cause of death as tuberculosis, but biographers, including Claire Harman, have suggested that she died from dehydration and malnutrition due to vomiting caused by severe morning sickness. Charlotte Brontë was buried in the family vault in the Church of St Michael and All Angels at Haworth in Yorkshire, UK.
P.S. If you haven’t read Jane Eyre, you’re missing out on one of the greatest novels ever written, and it’s almost free on amazon kindle, including the audiobook!
If you have read Jane Eyre, perhaps you’ve wondered what happened after Jane and Rochester married, so have I, that’s why I wrote The Eyre Hall Trilogy, on special offer at the moment.
Writers in the dawn of the third millennium have more options to publish, connect and share than any previous generation ever dreamt of, but is blogging worthwhile, or time-consuming and ineffective?
1. Don’t blog if your aim is Isolation. If you don’t want to connect with anyone else, because they might copy or steal your ideas and waste your precious time, blogging’s not for you.
Blogging is for people who want to connect with other writers, readers, and bloggers. Bloggers want to be part of an online community, sharing, learning, being creative, and helping, encouraging and inspiring others.
2. Don’t blog if secrecy and privacy are vital, because if you blog, others might see what you’re doing or find out about your plans.
Blogging is for people who want to make use of the window display to the world which blogging offers. Bloggers want to show others what we think, feel, and write, receive feedback, encouragement, share ideas, maybe inspire other readers, writers and bloggers, too.
3. Don’t blog if you’re an excellent, driven, knowledgeable, inspired and self-motivated writer who needs no external incentive.
Blogging is for those who aim to improve their writing, because we know it’s an invaluable aid, encouraging us to think about, schedule and hone in on our writing skills, by reading and writing blog posts about our craft.
4. Don’t blog if you’re self-sufficient and self-absorbed. You’ve never needed anyone’s help or advice, and you’re certainly not going to give any away for free.
Blogging is for those who want to become a bigger person by sharing knowledge, opinions, thoughts and work, freely and generously in the blogosphere.
5. Don’t blog if you don’t need virtual friends to have fun, because you have a ‘real’ life with plenty of ‘real’ friends, and you are not interested in meeting, or trust, ‘virtual’ strangers.
Blogging is for those who love meeting other readers and writers, enjoy reading other writers’ opinions, poems, flash fiction, and generally enjoy connecting, networking and interacting with like-minded people. If that’s your idea of fun, the blogosphere is the place for you!
This post was written in response to the 2019 Bloggers Bash Blog Post Competition.
I was recently browsing the Bath Flash Awards website when I came across an interview with this edition’s (March-June 2019) Flash Fiction Award Judge, Christopher Allen. You can read the whole interview here.
It was the final question and answer that has mesmerised me all weekend. I quote the question and answer here:
Yes. Write from the heart. Edit it and edit it and edit it. Have other people read it. Ask them if it has an emotional impact. Did it make them feel something? Write something you think the world needs.
So much advice in so few words, a true ‘flash answer’ to a complex question.
My thoughts on this priceless and concise advice:
‘Write from the heart’
Inspiration is entwined with emotion. Whatever we write should spring from passionate feelings about an issue. That’s an easy one to fulfill. Most of us write stories about people, places and events that are meaningful to us.
‘Edit it and edit it and edit it’
First drafts are necessary, but also messy and too long. Most of us need to ramble to ourselves to get to know our characters and understand their thoughts and actions, and yet those ramblings need to be carefully edited, more than once, thus the repetition, before they can be shared with readers.
‘Have other people read it’
We all know and appreciate the invaluable task of alpha and beta readers, friends, agents, editors, proof readers, and an array of generous and professional people who are usually acknowledged by authors in their books.
Ask them if it has an emotional impact. Did it make them feel something?
Words need to go beyond an aesthetic use of language in order to make an impact on the reader. It’s not only about organisation, expression, wording, pace, and grammar, but about the inspiration and feelings conveyed in the writing.
Write something you think the world needs.
Finally, the most important attribute which distinguishes good writing from outstanding writing, the content or message of the text.
Is there an intention beyond entertaining readers? And secondly, is the idea worth writing about? Do readers need to know or think about the characters or issues in your flash/novel?
Christopher’s answer is great advice for writing, a haiku, a birthday card, a flash, a letter, a short story, a novella, a novel and everything else.
If it’s worth writing, it’s worth doing it from the heart.
My twenty-word flash conclusion:
Write with passion about a meaningful issue, edit, aim for emotional impact, edit, share and test, edit, publish. Start again.
And now, let’s finish that flash/novel and start the next one…
If a formula existed for a great novel, everyone would benefit. Authors would write perfect novels and readers would never be disappointed.
So, what makes a great novel? My answer is connection and intimacy.
Writers need to connect with their readers and readers are on the lookout for authors whose stories invade their hearts and minds (intimacy) and become meaningful (connection).
A reader’s response to a novel is personal, intellectual, intimate and complex.
Novels speak to the readers’ minds, that hidden, uncontrolled and uncontrollable, darkest, sometimes unpredictable, elusive part of our brains that surprises each one of us, more times than we’d care to admit.
Readers want to be immersed in a story, transported and moved. They want to feel what the characters feel, understand their predicaments as if they were working with the author.
Writers want readers to be active participants in the narrative, reliving their character’s experiences and reinterpreting their stories. As Stephen King has said, “All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies…’
Readers enjoy finding themselves in the story, with the characters. That’s the moment all writers and readers crave; the moment the reader becomes actively, emotionally and intellectually involved in the story.
A colloquial expression might be that the novel gets under their skin, but where it really gets is inside their minds; that’s what makes a great novel.
The answer is as simple as it is complex: writing about universal themes, feelings and events which are (and have always been) common to all of us.
That’s one of the reasons why Shakespeare will never be outdated.
Great novels don’t have to be about extraordinary people or wondrous events. Great novels are about feelings we have all experienced or witnessed, such as love, anger, jealousy, greed, happiness, optimism, depression, and universal events such as falling in love, parenting, sibling rivalry, sickness, death, earning a living, quarrelling, making friends, travelling, etc.
Great novels make readers feel something beyond themselves and the scope of their ordinary lives.
Great novels reach their minds, taking them on an unknown journey of self-discovery. Readers become part of the story, because they are involved with the characters and events, and when they finish reading, they are not the same person they were when they started reading, because they have changed their minds about something, or thought about something that had never occurred to them before, or felt something they hadn’t felt before or for a long time.
The challenge for both readers and writers is that one particular author will rarely be able to reach every reader’s mind, because of course all minds are different and no two readers will react in the same way to a novel, or even to different episodes and characters in a novel.
The good news is, there are so many types and genres of novels to be read and so many ways of reading, paperback, kindle and other e-books, and audio books, that it’s hard not to find something for everyone.
It’s hard to get it wrong if you follow these three steps:
If you do so, it’s unlikely you’ll choose a book you won’t enjoy.
And when you finish, don’t forget to post a review, because it will help the author and other readers, too.
Are you looking for a great book? Here are some of the great books I’ve recently read:
Us by David Nicholls. Themes: love, marriage, parenting, and contemporary life, from the perspective of a middle-aged Englishman. Poignant and humorous.
Eleanor Oliphant by Gale Honeyman. Themes: abuse, loneliness, serendipity, from the point of view of a young woman. Poignant, humorous, Feel good.
Our House by Louise Candlish. Themes: marriage, infidelity, crime, parenting, told from two points of view, husband and wife of two young children. Family drama.
The Guest Room Chris Bohjalion. Themes: marriage, infidelity, corruption, sex trafficking, narrated by an American husband and father and a Russian prostitute who is an illegal immigrant in the USA.
Don’t Let go by Harlan Coben. Themes: love, corruption, crime. A suspenseful thriller. This is his latest novel, but all of them are fabulous. Missing You is one of my favourites.
The Good Girl by Maria Rubrica. Themes, crime, kidnapping, family, love. A dark family drama, told from the point of view of the kidnapped daughter, before and after the event.
The Sister, by Louise Jensen is a suspenseful psychological thriller I enjoyed, but all her novels are great reads.
It Ends With Us, by Colleen Hoover is a heartbreaking family drama about abusive relationships told in the first person by a young woman living in Boston.
The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorback is a unique and moving novel about survival, loneliness and serendipity, told from the point of view of a lawyer who attempts to help a homeless young woman on a freezing night.
But don’t take my word for it, what’s meaningful for me may be boring for you.
Follow the three steps (blurb, reviews, look inside) and find those great books you’re longing to read!
What do you think makes a great book?
Would you like to tell me about a great book you’ve recently read?
My blog full of my book reviews!
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Todo lo que quisiste saber sobre Jane Eyre y nunca te atreviste a preguntar
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