International Women’s Day

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Before I get to the topic of the day, I have a couple of announcements. First, I finished revising Covers and sent it to an editor. I’m looking forward to reading that professional opinion because I’m tapped out. I gave everything I had and now it’s time for new eyes to look at the story.

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Second is a surprise I’ve been working on for a bit. The first story in the True Hearts Series, Masks: A Novella, has been freshened up with new editing and a new cover. I’m also making it available in print format for the first time ever. I’ll keep you updated as these changes are implemented.

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Although it has been observed since 1911, there are way too many people who are unaware that March 8 is International Women’s Day. So take a moment today to call, Tweet, post or email the women in your lives and remind them that they are valued.

Happy International Women’s Day ladies!

 

Make A Friend Day

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February 11 is Make A Friend Day. How cool is that? I’m serious. Where are you reading this post right now? The bus/ metro/taxi, a coffee shop/juice bar/gym, in the car/waiting room/porch while your child/friend/parent finishes a piano lesson/taking a shower/chatting with the neighbor? Is there someone you can approach in your vicinity? Someone you’ve been meaning to approach, but have been too busy or don’t know how ? How busy can you be that you can’t take the time to say, “Hi, I’m Catherine. We always end up in the same elevator in the morning. I thought it might be nice to introduce ourselves.” Once the possible awkwardness passes, you’ll probably get a laugh and “It is nice! I’m Jess and I’ve been meaning to tell you that I love your new haircut!”

Yup, it’s happened to me and it can happen to you. Just slap on a smile, walk through the coals of fear of rejection, and be your friendly self.

Human beings are social animals. We are meant to live together: couple, family, clan. A newborn child cannot survive on its own. From the day we are born, we seek to be understood and so we learn to  interact with others and form relationships. As babies, we communicated with cries and giggles, as small children with hand signals and single words, as teenagers with appearance and actions, as adults with hopefully well-thought out words. We are constantly learning to be with others and to be ourselves. From the beginning, we seek connection and belonging.

So how is it that the one-person household is rising around the world? In developed countries, solo living ranges from the mid-20% to just over 40%. In developing countries, the statistics show about 5%-15%. According to demographers, the numbers will continue to grow. They suggest financial independence, fewer children, changing cultural/religious views on marriage are some of the contributing factors. A good thing then that some created Make A Friend Day.

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4 Benefits of friendship

  • People with friends and family handle stress better, therefore feel more at peace which allows them to be healthier.
  • People with friends take better care of themselves which points to having higher self-esteem. Meaning: they feel more in control of their lives.
  • Sharing with friends implies trust and alleviates loneliness. This increases a sense of belonging.
  • Two other benefits of sharing are a more grounded perspective toward problems and the ability to ask for a trusted opinion.
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4 Ways to make new friends

  • Pursue your interests. Volunteer. Join a sports team, a book club, a cooking class. These place you amongst like-minded people. The interaction that comes from participating will help you discover who would make a good fit for you. Or, you could do what I do: smile and say hello to everyone. In time (and it will come fairly early on), the group will separate into two: those who step closer and converse and those who politely reply while making minimal eye contact then quickly move away.
  • Online groups are another way to make friends, if you are active in a group. Whether it’s photography, writing, or politics, the more exchanges, the more we get to know how people think and feel, where they are from, and their day-to-day lives.
  • Surrounded by people, but don’t know them? Try approaching someone with the elevator conversation above.
  • Whether you are in university or working full-time, networking events abound. I’ve always had a hard time with them. I want to pick the right person to talk to. I want to say the right thing. I want to see understanding in their eyes. I want to impress. The pressure of that single opportunity either keeps me at home or in a corner, where no one except the guy who thinks he’s funny, gravitates to. An entrepreneur told me about her brilliant strategy. (Thank you Chantal.) She forces herself to go and allows herself to leave after speaking/delivering two business cards. That’s it! How easy is that? I can totally speak. As long as I’m on topic, I don’t have to be terrific. The business card serves as an ice breaker and avoids all that messing around with the phone’s contact list.

Remember true friendship takes time and commitment. Don’t freak out because I didn’t say marriage with kids and in-laws. So, coffee or a meal once in a while, a text or call on a birthday, a card at the holidays, a visit when your friend is sick, an invitation to an event of shared interest. And share and listen, listen and share, share and listen, listen and share, etc. Those are the little things that allow care, respect, trust, loyalty to grow.

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4 Quotes on friendship

  • “There are no strangers in the world, just friends you have never met.” –W.B. Yeats
  • “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.” —Ed Cunningham
  • “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” —Seneca
  • “Remember: No one’s more important than people! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.” —Julia Child

Happy Make A Friend Day!

Who will you approach on February 11? How do you make new friends? Have you ever tried to make a friend and it backfired? Do you have a friendship that surprises you? Tell me about! I love hearing from you. Leave a comment

Tidy VS Messy In Fiction As In Real Life

In my current WIP Covers, the two main characters have roommates. Janet, who’s emotionally stressed due to drug and alcohol abuse is a bit messy although she’d not so far gone in her addiction to have lost complete control. She still feeds her cat, showers, wears clean clothes. She lives with Diana. If you read Secrets, you know that she created chaos in her bedroom regularly to anger her father after the housekeeper cleaned. Away from her father’s house, Diana’s become the almost perfect roommate. She’s organized, she cooks, and she keeps Janet updated on her whereabouts.

Then there’s the Russell brothers: Danny and Nate. Danny is the older, more responsible one which means that Nate is the wild young brother. Danny keeps on top of the day to day chores meanwhile Nate is more of a social director. Danny starts the grocery list, does laundry weekly and hounds Nate about cleaning. Nate is all about trendy clothes, the hottest places, and the most fun. To Nate, home is the place where his clothes live, and he hangs out when there’s nothing going on.

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If you have family, you share living quarters. In my case, my darling daughter and I are opposites. I’m an organizer by nature. Everything has its place, whether in my mind or my surroundings. When things get too messy, I become agitated. I feel my heart pounding. My throat goes dry. Anxiety hums through my veins. The chaos normally elicits two reactions: flight or freeze. In other words, I either avoid that area of my life/home/workstation or I sit with the chaos and all the physical and mental emotions it affects (not good). The more I think about fixing the mess, the stronger my instincts to run from or sink into the mire. It can take a really long time for my fight instinct to kick in. And then I’m all, “In your face mess! I’m gonna beat you into shape now!”

Wow! I know, right?

My child, on the other hand, can live with messes like a lion in the savannah. It’s all good. Life goes on. She may comment, “We should sort that out.” Or ask, “When will this get organized?” Rarely, does she say “This really needs to be taken care of Mom.” If it comes to that, I know it’s truly out of control. I may not have realized it because my tolerance threshold is low-medium(?) and hers is normal(?). No matter what, she appreciates tidiness. She actually sighs in relief when she notices that something has gone from mess to tidy.

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We were shopping on Sunday when we saw some small plastic baskets on sale. She said, “I could use those.” I didn’t even ask how, I just thought, If the child wants to organize, let her organize.

Well, the mess that was her “beauty” station has now been separated into three lovely baskets.

Ta-da!

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By the way, today is Bell Let’s Talk. For those who are Bell subscribers, there’s lots you can do. See the full list. For those who have other mobile providers, here are three options.
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  • Twitter: Each time you tweet using #BellLetsTalk or watch their official video, Bell will donate 5¢ towards mental health initiatives.
  • Facebook: Each time you use the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or watch our official video, Bell will donate 5¢ towards mental health initiatives.
  • Instagram: Each time you watch the official video on Instagram, Bell will donate 5¢ towards mental health initiatives.

Are you a tidy or messy person? What’s your tolerance level like? Even messy people have one. I love reading your comments so leave one.

My Daughter Does My Makeup

My 10 year old daughter loves playing with makeup. This week she asked me to be a model for one of her videos. She did a great job. Check it out.

When did you start playing with your mom’s makeup? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment!

Don’t forget that if you can become a True Hearts Insider by subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you’ll receive monthly updates, go behind the scenes, and automatically be entered to win prizes exclusive to True Hearts Insiders. Subscribe to my True Hearts Insider Newsletter. Fill out the form at the top of sidebar on this page!

Crash Without The Burn

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Ever feel like your life is out of control? Of course, you have. We all go through periods, whether it’s an hour, a week, a year, during which, despite our best efforts and intentions, very little goes as planned. The last two weeks have been crazy for me!

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It all started last Monday when I went to the dentist and had a panic attack. The following day I had an intake appointment at the hospital. I was told they couldn’t do anything for me and that I needed to seek assistance in the private sector. People, as a Canadian, who pays for health care through her taxes, I find this unacceptable. I’m not sure there should be any private sector unless it’s for something like a face lift. Vanity is not health care. I had to go back to the dentist on Thursday for my daughter and on Friday for me again. No panic attack on Friday. Cool as a cucumber and, according to the dentist, as pale as a ghost. I didn’t feel pale, but damn was I cold in her chair.

With all that running around, I still managed to revise twelve chapters of my NaNoWriMo WIP and added about 1500 words. By then I was tired, but satisfied. Nursing a sick child all weekend, I turned my sights on Monday which started with another appointment.

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Bright and early Monday morning, I had to write a language test for job opportunity. (I’m happy to report that I did well enough to have been scheduled for a phone interview.) By the time I got home, I was beat. It turned out that I was getting a little sick too. And then it got worse.

I was in bed working on my laptop when Word suddenly started adding all kinds of spaces every time I type a letter. I tried to fix it but couldn’t. I couldn’t even save my document or close Word, so I shut down the laptop. It was only after I tried to restart it in Safe Mode that I realized there was a pile of school books on the remote keyboard that was connected to the laptop. My beloved child hadn’t thought twice about plunking her homework on it. That’s what was creating the extra characters when I typed. I hoped the problem would end once I disconnected the USB, but no such luck. The CHKDSK brought on a Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) which meant the hard drive was sicker than I was.

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Before I took the laptop to the private health care system, I tried to fix it myself and spent the majority of Tuesday starting and restarting my computer in various modes hoping for a different result but always ending up with BSOD.  B-sod. It doesn’t sound friendly and it doesn’t sound like rocket science, more like regular physics. But it might as well have been rocket science. So I know that NASA would never launch a rocket with my laptop but I know that I have stored my life on this pink technological clam shell. And if it’s not working, do I really exist? Yes, I do but I don’t pay my bills on time or work on my WIP! Fortunately, Mom knows a geek. He came by and couldn’t do anything but, the following day, he took me to a master geek who could.

My hard drive was, as I had already figured out, very ill. Fortunately, the data could still be extracted, but the future of the hard drive was in God’s hands.

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So, no computer for three days. That’s okay, right? NOT. However, I finished my Christmas shopping, went to an appointment for myself in the private healthcare sector, wrote Christmas cards and thank you notes and sent them out along with gifts. I also did a lot of reading. While I did not waste my time, I’m feeling lost. My routine broken. I rolled with it, but man am I behind. Yesterday, I got my computer back. Data intact. Hard drive, after some time in ICU, pulled through. So I’m catching up first by writing this. But I’m going to have to stop before I post it because, you know it, I have another appointment.

Later my lovelies.

What throws you off your routine? Tell me about the time your computer needed a serious intervention. I love hearing from you. Leave a comment!

P.S.: Don’t forget that if you can become a True Hearts Insider by subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you’ll receive monthly updates, go behind the scenes, and automatically be entered to win prizes exclusive to True Hearts Insiders. Subscribe to my True Hearts Insider Newsletter. Fill out the form at the top of sidebar on this page!