Thursday, 30 January 2014

Your Baby as a Wood Horse in 2014.

Being a Horse myself, but only a little familiar with the finer points of Chinese Astrology, I decided to dig around online for more information. I discovered that this year is a Wood Horse or Green Horse Year (Wood is Green in Chinese Astrology), and much to my surprise and pleasure, I (re)discovered that I too am a Wood Horse. Then I found this in The Huffington Post and couldn't help but make comparisons!

Year Of The Horse, 2014: What It Means For You And Your Baby

Posted:   |  Updated: 01/25/2014 4:01 pm EST
Get ready, expectant parents. Jan. 31 marks the Chinese New Year and with it, the year of the Wooden Horse.
According to Chinese astrology, which has 12 zodiac animal signs and five rotating elements, a baby's sign has a strong effect on his or her personality.
If you're due between Jan. 31, 2014 and Feb. 18, 2015, here's what you might see in your little Wooden Horse:
bossy child
Horses are known for being strong-willed and unbridled as well as charming and intelligent. According to "The Handbook Of Chinese Horoscopes," the Horse is self-centered by nature and wants things done his way. "Performance and success oriented, he always has his sights set on some target... With his remarkable powers of persuasion, he will set out to sway people to his way of thinking. Snapping his fingers and clicking his heels, this trailblazer could talk you into anything once he begins to dish out the charm. People find it hard to resist his positive and self-assured outlook on life."
Wooden Horses are thought to be the most reasonable of the five types of Horses. (The last year of Wooden Horses was 1954.) Wooden Horses are less impatient than their brethren, finding it easier to be self-disciplined and organized, but they are still strong-willed and resist "being dominated." They are very happy and active in social settings and are known to be good conversationalists.
How To Handle Your Wooden Horse:
rebellious child
Horse babies are boisterous, full of life, and a bit devilish. "While this child will tend to be disobedient, stubborn and willful when held back," warns "The Handbook Of Chinese Horoscopes," "he is not the whining, crybaby type." Parents are encouraged to give Horse children plenty of independence and time outdoors since they don't scare easily and prefer to fight their own battles. Too many rules or restrictions will constrict Horse babies and cause them to resent their parents, but discipline is still strongly encouraged since they still need to learn to control their impulses.
black siblings fighting
Horses are most compatible with dogs and tigers and least compatible with rats.
Tigers and horses are natural companions, even partners in crime. Both are highly energetic, adventurous and emotional beings. 2010 was the last year of the tiger (Feb. 14, 2010-Feb. 2, 2011), which means siblings in these two years will be fast friends.
Dogs and horses are loyal partners. The dog is a good confidante and trusted advisor to the horse and the horse is a champion for the dog. The last year of the dog was 2006 (Jan. 29-Feb. 17) and the next year is 2018 (Feb. 16-Feb. 4).
Rats and horses butt heads and don't work well together. According to "The Handbook Of Chinese Horoscopes," the two use their wits against each other: "The Rat is clannish and possessive, while the Horse is carefree, independent, and afraid of being tied down." The last year of the Rat was 2008 (Feb. 7-Jan. 25), but a word of warning to Rat parents born in 1984 (Feb. 2-Feb. 19): You might find your new baby rebelling against you from an early age.
Noteworthy Wooden Horses from 1954:
  • Denzel Washington
  • Rene Russo
  • Ron Howard
  • Angela Merkel
  • Condoleezza Rice
  • Jackie Chan
  • Christine 'Chris' Evert
  • James Cameron
  • Yours Truly (maybe one day)
Having made the comparison, I can say that it's very close to spot on! Naturally, I consider myself an expert on the subject as I've experienced my life for nigh on 60 years. What I can say for certain are the following: 
  • Self-centered. Yes, I'm very focused.
  • I like things done my way. It just means I know they're done properly.
  • A trailblazer. I'm a private trailblazer, not so much a public one.
  • A positive outlook on life. I have an infinitely positive outlook on life, but sometimes life is tough. When it is, I'm tougher!
  • I'm extremely reasonable and very patient.
  • I'm strong willed and resist domination. There are exceptions, which cause inner turmoil :(
  • Good conversationalist when I know my subject.
Well, that wasn't too bad. All parents eagerly anticipating the birth of your Wooden Horse can rest assured. Your bundle of joy will have his/her/their (multiples) moments of disobedience, willfulness and stubborness, but that's because s/he/they are innately strong and independent movers and shakers and it will take their junior years, with your guidance, to learn how to direct their talents. That's good. So your job in the interim is to be firm with discipline yet understanding when your little wooden horse only wants free rein.

Personally, I believe it's great to have spirit. I'd rather be free-spirited and free-thinking, which to my mind go hand in hand. Free thinking opens the mind and therefore many, many doors and gives you opportunities that could otherwise have been missed. A free spirit implies someone with a joyful and positive personality and in a horse, a person with strength and courage.  What a wonderful combination for your new baby. 

And on that note, I wish you all a Happy Chinese New Year, especially expectant parents.

On another note, this is a rather short and hopefully properly published post. I'm having a few issues with, I think, the size of the HP article. 

As well, Tropical Cyclone Dylan crossed the Queensland coast early this morning about 600 km north of Yeppoon with a King Tide and storm surge. We've had gales since Sunday, so all in all I've been somewhat distracted. For us in the Southern Hemisphere, and living along a tropical coast means Cyclones, (Hurricanes in Northern Hemisphere) have strong influences to their south. Thankfully the winds have died down. Although the sea here is still wild, we now have lovely steady, instead of driving, rain.

Have a great weekend everyone,



Friday, 24 January 2014

Writing Hurdles? What Writing Hurdles?

OMG. I haven't written a word all week. The portents foresee gloom, doom and disaster. Panic, panic, panic. What am I to do? Shall I ever put pen to paper again? I'll never finish my book/short story/blog post/whatever now. My writing roll and role are over!

It's true. Many of us give up before we even get started. As a self-published author, I believe I can now confidently say that I have passed the first and possibly the second hurdles of what it takes to be a writer/author in the modern world.

What many don't realise, and I surely didn't, is that there's oh so much more to writing than writing. I thought self-publishing would be a relatively easy process. Write, read a 'how to' on uploading and publishing to Amazon, hit the button, done. Sit back and enjoy the profits of my labour, right? Of course it didn't happen that way. I was disappointed, but hey, my book was a volume of poetry and maybe too obscure. It didn't matter that much. It was an experiment, really.

Six months later, and not another word written, I decided to get serious. I downloaded several ebooks and articles on writing ebooks and how to make money writing them, that sort of thing. I read a few blog posts and did a short writing course. Okay, I was ready. Ready to write yes, but not ready for all the other  information I needed to acquire, digest, absorb, learn, make sense of, sort, then use to live and grow in self-published author land.

I discovered tons of information written by mega numbers of experts on how to write, what to write, tips, tricks, hints, suggestions, directions, sites and links to more information. I subscribed to blogs, newsletters, writers groups and forums and set up several social media pages when I was only a casual Facebook user. Was I going to set up a blog (yes), a website (not yet). I learned about Author Profiles, Product Descriptions, Mobi, epub, Scrivener, Createspace, Smashwords, D2D, Gadgets, Widgets, Platforms (not shoes) and more, more more!

Hey, I hadn't signed up for all of this. I just wanted to write, dammit. But here I was, head near exploding point, ears ringing like a million cicadas singing, heart pounding and body so tired I couldn't sleep (okay I have CFS so this is often 'near normal', but by far not so extreme). How was I ever going to be able to do all this, and write? How could anyone? There was sooooo much to learn, it seemed totally bamboozling and I realised how little I actually knew. I needed to learn the language, the landscape and the layout of self-publishing land AS WELL AS the process of writing.

But here's the rub. I'm the 'quintessential' writer. I work alone, I'm a loner, the lone wolf who comes last to the author forums and writers groups. I'm the last to seek help, preferring to get on with the job by myself because it takes time - that precious commodity - to interact in groups and forums - time away from writing. However, and of course, the flip side is that groups and forums help simplify and speed up learning through shared knowledge, and can help reduce that mountain of new information.

Did I mention hurdles? Yes, I did. Anyone stepping solo into the realm of writing these days needs to be very focused, very brave and very far-sighted. You also need a brain suited to multi-tasking and assimilating a vast amount of new stuff. Being younger would help! Looking back six months, I consider I've jumped that particular hurdle, rather, crawled up to it, knocked it flat, then crawled over it. I'm still crawling and learning, but I made it past what I consider to be an important point in the writing journey.

And that's precisely what this is. It's The Yellow Brick Road of writing. I know that now. I know that there will always be speed bumps, diversions, distractions, mountains, hurdles and more, all along the road to wherever I'm going.

However, in the process of learning, I became temporarily totally confused, lost the path, and almost the plot, but that was because I was trying to be like everyone else, do like everyone else, and work as fast as everyone else seemed to be. I wanted to know everything as fast as possible so that I could produce the best books as fast as possible. Again, I expected I would then be able to ease back and reap the rewards sooner rather than later. Still it didn't happen, but I got lucky again, and came to came to realise that having crossed that hurdle, I WOULD SURVIVE. I have survived the initial steep learning curve, and I will survive if I miss a day or two of writing. I won't have a panic attack and I will take up my pen and write another day, so strong is my desire. I couldn't see that at the beginning because my head was not clear, there was too much for me to recognise that.

New writers want to get up to speed ASAP, especially I believe ones like myself who come to writing later in life and maybe without 'formal' writing training, if there is such a thing. We write because we have done everything else and never thought we could do this but have always wanted to. AND, I discovered it's important to do it your way. At first it was difficult to know what my way was, what my style was, so I tried several. Now I'm starting to find it and I'm relaxing and much more happy, not the overwrought, almost lost the plot, the plan, the Road and myself person I was six months ago. What a relief! I'm now finally ready to continue my journey.
I know there will always be hurdles, speed bumps, detours. I also know there will be fields of flowers, friends, joy, laughter, love, light and success. In fact, I already have all of those, how lucky am I? I'm a self-published author, I've learned a valuable and interesting new craft, one I happen to love, I work at home in a beautiful environment and have met and made wonderful new friends, the lone wolf me. It was tough and touch and go there at times, but never did I think to give up.

If you love what you do, then you too are on the right path and one by one the hurdles will be behind you.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Labradoodle Fun and Facts. 12 Good Reasons for Bringing 2 Australian Labradoodles Home.

Handsome William of Tora Australian Labradoodles.
Kindly reproduced for my book cover.

Yes, at last, Labradoodle Fun and Facts is finished. It's available on Amazon and will shortly be available on Kobo, Nook and iTunes. It seems like this book has taken me forever, months in fact, but hey, there is sunshine at the end of every long, dark and difficult tunnel. This book also marks the end, for now, of my doggie books. I will post updates on Winnie and Hunny here of course.

So what's this book about? Seems obvious doesn't it, Labradoodles! Well actually, Australian Labradoodles. Many moons ago, a breeder for the Royal  Guide Dog Association of Australia was asked to breed a dog for a blind lady whose husband was allergic to dog hair and saliva. To cut a long story short, he came up with a Labrador/Poodle cross which ticked all the boxes and he named it a Labradoodle.

Old news you say? Okay, well do you know how the Australian Labradoodle came to be known and how it differs from a Labradoodle? Read my book I say :), but for starters, let me also say that the Australian Labradoodle has evolved beyond the Labradoodle through careful, consistent and standardised breeding. It therefore now looks and is quite different from a Labradoodle.

Indeed it is the coat that is truly unique. It is allergy friendly and non-shedding, which was the original aim of the original breeder. This has taken many years to perfect, and along the way, other breeds have been infused into the Australian Labradoodle to contribute genes specifically to its allergy friendly and non-shedding coat. But for some people like me, dog dander and saliva are also issues so the breeding programme covered these, also part of the original aim.

It is hoped that in the not too distant future that the Australian Labradoodle will be recognised as a Purebreed in its own right.

For me, Australian Labradoodles have everything I could want in a dog, and I can truthfully say, never having had 2 dogs before because I considered 1 to be enough, that my decision to bring 2 into my life has been one of the best ever. Yes there is twice the amount of dog food to buy and twice the amount of doggie 'doo' to clean up, but there's twice the love, twice the fun, twice the joy, twice the happiness, and no hair, no itching, no sneezing.

And my 12 good reasons for bringing TWO gorgeous Australian Labradoodles home? Here they are.

1. Personality Plus.
2. Family Friendly
3. Excellent Companion Dog.
4. Allergy Friendly.
5. Non Shedding
6. Easy to Train, Great Service Dog.
7. A Breed Standard.
8. An Accredited Association.
9. Bloodlines.
10. 3 Sizes: Miniature, Medium, Standard. 
11. 2 (desired) Coat Types: Fleece and Wool.
12. Many Coat Colours.

And that's That. Now to the future. My next book is called BROKEN, and is a Memoir. I have a first draft finished, actually it was finished before any of my doggie books had been conceived. It needs (I think) a fair amount of work as I haven't looked at it for around 6 months. May I look at it with fresh, positively critical eyes!

I'll be off to celebrate this afternoon with family, coffee and cake...mmmmmm...and be ready next week for a new beginning.

Take care everyone, enjoy your weekend,


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Dogs Having Fun.

I could have fun with my dogs Winnie and Hunny 24/7 if I wanted to because they do. The girls are ready for action as soon as they've had their breakfast biscuit and been outside. At least Winnie is. Picture this: I've just sat down on the veranda with my breakfast. Winnie comes along with a ball ready for a game of fetch. Hunny settles onto the 2 seater next to me in spectator mode. I'm barely awake, let alone up for a game, but okay, how can I resist? At least I don't have to move much. Winnie knows to drop the ball at or near my feet so all I need to do is pick it up and throw it. She always brings it back. Again and again and again....

Hunny isn't into ball games thankfully. I'd never get my breakfast eaten if I had 2 ball-game loving dogs. I'd also have no arms to eat breakfast with anyway, they'd be in the backyard somewhere with the ball. However, if the tension builds sufficiently in Winnie's game, Hunny will be in on the action with a bark and an attempt to grab the ball. This game can go on for some time, so as you can imagine, I'm usually the one to spoil the fun. I need to eat, shower, do stuff, after all. Winnie doesn't seem to understand this. When I get up I'm followed...into the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom, everywhere. Winnie is panting and often still has the ball hanging out of one side of her mouth, her tongue, the other side.

As I said, Hunny's not into ball games. She loves carrying things. These days she has her own face washer to carry around whenever she pleases. This is very cute behaviour, not a game exactly, but fun to watch and get involved in. It's better than carrying my clothing all over the house, or removing the toilet paper from the holder and then shredding it. They were her favourite activities when she was little, but not mine you understand, so a substitute was found. She's very proud of herself when she's carrying and holds her head and tail high. Maybe she's a bit like Linus from "Peanuts", the character who always carries around his security blanket. More often than not Hunny's washer is hard to find. She just likes carrying stuff for me i.e. helping with carrying, like the mail or her bed or the shopping bags when I come home. Funny Hunny.

It was super hot here last week and as a way to cool the girls down and for them to have some fun as well, I hung the sprinkler over the clothes line so they could get wet without attacking the sprinkler itself. 

 Before the clothes line days.

Somewhere, somehow, way back in the mists of time, Winnie became obsessive about water coming out of hoses and similar devices. I learned quickly to adjust my behaviour, as I could tell it would be very difficult for her to change hers when the neighbours water along the fence line and I can't catch her among the shrubs. A fuse seems to ignite in Winnie's brain and it sends a signal to her bark and run-up-and-down-the-fence centres. Again, I've tried to discuss this with her, but 2 years down the track I think I've failed. Bad mother. When this started I only had 1 dog exhibiting this behaviour, now I have 2, all thanks to you Winnie :)
I have to think this is funny, but it really is annoying. At least it isn't as intensely annoying as it used to be! And to think Winnie doesn't like getting her paws wet or swimming!

Hunny on the other hand is a natural born water lovin' dog. She adores the stuff so much that she used to get into my garden pond to cool off. Unfortunately, when she hopped out she'd reek of algae and mud as the water level dropped from her constant bathing and stirring up of the sediment. Now she has a pool of her own and she's much more smell friendly. There's still no fountain, fish or plants in the pond though, sigh.

Before Hunny had her own swimming pool.

Yes, I could have fun with my dogs all day. They have fun in most things they do because they are happy. They make me happy. I could watch them all day and get next to nothing done. Wouldn't that be great! I love the way they get silly and excited when playing, and just before dinner is served. Hunny dances and turns in circles with happiness and pleasure that food is on its way. I love the quirky little dogerisms they use when they talk to each other when one wants to play. I love lying on the ground with them. I love how they sit on me, lie on me, and are always close to me. I love patting them, stroking them, praising them, talking to them, just being with them, loving them.

Dogs are such fun, and they love having fun. 

And finally, by this time next week, my latest book "Labradoodle Fun and Facts" will be available on Amazon for Kindle, and very shortly after on Kobo, Nook and itunes. This one's been a while in the writing, but hey, December and early January have been good for 'down time'. I will write a short post next week when the book is published. 

Until then, take care everyone,

hugs from Leonie and a smooch from the pooches Hunny and Winnie.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

S/He who Procrastinates this year, Fails.

Where are we heading in 2014? Not down the path of procrastination I would hope. According to the Astrological calendar, and before you turn away, 33% of people TRUST horoscopes according to (Dec.11 2012), the New Moon on New Year's Day portends a year for laying down well thought out plans and setting realistic and achievable goals. BUT, more important than that is to get going on the decisions you've made, don't procrastinate, and SEE THE PLANS THROUGH. Apparently the gods are serious on this and won't take half-hearted attempts or false promises. Here is one perspective.

Okay, that doesn't sound too difficult or different really does it? But I believe there is more. This year feels different to me. For a start, here I am telling my story to the world. This is not at all the same me I was a year ago. The old me would never have dared to do what I'm doing today, "exposing" myself like I am. Yet this is what this year is also about. We are being called to wipe our slates clean of any allusions or false securities and being asked to jump into our selves, our true natures, life, to be our real selves, warts and all.

For myself, I'd forgotten about many deep interests. Don't worry, I'm not about to swamp you with them, but they will emerge through these pages now and then as is astrology today. I'm one of those 33% who trust horoscopes, but not the ones to be read in newspapers or magazines, I delve deeper. And for those forgotten interests? I can thank writing again after so many years for bringing them back to full awareness. And it feels good. It feels right, and I know that the decision to write, although it seemed very whimsical and without solid foundation six months ago, has been 100% the best decision I've made in a long time. Something I did not expect.

So in 2014 I plan to write better and write more, and to improve my health, the big one for me. I'm normally not a New Year Resolutionist, and I choose not to call my plans resolutions, mostly because everyone else does and I like to be different :). I'm being serious about my plans, but not obsessive. If I become obsessive, I fail, past experiences have shown me this, so I'm not really making a plan! I just know in my head what I need to do.

Certainly though that's where to start, and if you need a solid plan,

    a) work out what's important and don't sweat the small stuff
    b) make a decision and just do it
    c) leave half-hearted attitudes for another year or never
    d) the resulting extra time = fun and relaxation time : a more balanced life

I'm still learning the above myself so I need to take my own advice. I don't rush and mulit-multi task like I used to years ago, even though the last six months have seen me do so on occasion because of the amount of learning I've had to do to get up to speed in this business...Writing, publishing, promoting, learning about social media and then using it...ARGH!..., there were many times when my head nearly exploded and I had to lie on the bed for several days. I desperately wanted to be at the top of the game with my finger on every pulse, but I couldn't, AND at the end of the year, I realised it wasn't me anyway. Phew, got that sorted. Now, instead of becoming a quivering mess flat on my back seeing stars with heart and head pounding feeling sick to my stomach, I'm doing it my way, being honest, and true to myself. I cannot do it in the fast lane or I become more ill.

Some more advice I'll be following on the writing front is from Ruth R Allen on How to Slay the 6 Writing Dragons.

My horoscope says I'll be very successful this year with my writing, so gods, if you're listening, I'm serious.

Take care everyone, 'till next Friday,

Leonie, Hunny Winnie, who were all in bed before midnight.