Thursday, 27 February 2014

"Staying Strong": The~Changing~Names~Of~A~Memoir.

Changes happen for one reason or another. My Memoir has been a stop, start, stop, start again story for at least 10 years due to the pain and deep emotion that arose every time I tried to continue writing it. Consequently it has gone through many, many re-writes in 10 years, including cover changes and title changes, but now as it's close to being primmed and polished I can finally say I'm happy with what I've created.

Image by Honou

For at least 8 years the story was called "My Story" because I had no name for what it was. Then I was undecided among "I Died a Little Death", "Freak Out" and "Frozen by Fear", all suitable and descriptive titles. But they weren't quite right and I eventually settled on "Broken". Ahhh, the relief of having that sorted. However.

I had finished the first draft about 6 months ago and not looked at the book until 4 weeks ago, I was writing other books, and it's good writing policy to leave big projects for a while then go back to them. On going over the memoir, I very recently had an 'Ahhaa' moment when all things previously not quite right suddenly become crystal clear.

The clarity I received provided a new and final title that is perfect. " Staying Strong". As often happens, a book's evolution encounters mutation and diversification - it has been 10 years in the creation after all - but the more I primmed and polished "Broken" the more I understood how much I wanted to portray the strength in me, in all of us, not the weakness which "Broken" offered up. Although I was writing about a personal experience and did not perceive it as a weak period in my life, I none the less realised that having (a nervous breakdown with associated) panic attacks, anxiety and depression was frequently perceived as a weakness.

After I finished the first draft I found this:

 "Depression, anxiety and panic attacks are NOT a sign of weakness. They are signs of having tried to remain strong for way too long."
Author unknown

I knew immediately that the burn out and breakdown I had experienced was a direct result of having remained strong in a non-sustainable situation for WAY too long. Cogs began to shift in my brain. I hadn't seen the breakdown from this perspective before and it gave me new belief in myself strength.

Staying strong interestingly had different purposes before, during and after my breakdown. It acted against me when I was under extreme stress by taking me to breakdown, then down the dark road of depression. Yet it kept me afloat when I was at risk of giving up all hope of survival, of sinking, of possibly taking my own life. Of course, the nature of staying strong under each circumstance was unique.

Staying strong was always a choice, but now it is a concious and positive choice, without the stresses of the past. It means I and my memoir have come full circle. 

And having said that, it's currently close to peer review, if anyone is interested?...please contact me :)

Here are 2 exerpts for you. This first piece is from the INTRODUCTION.
It has been 16 years since events brought me to the reason for writing this book, about the day my life changed direction. I first started writing the story at least 10 years ago, but never managed to journey far down the dangerous and difficult road to its end. Going over everything again was always painful and depressing, so the story stopped and was forgotten. It would be restarted, but with a different beginning, many times, and often only in my head. I did not believe in myself enough, let alone my ability to write a book. But at least I had kept copies, for sometime, maybe, when it could grow into a real thing.

That ‘thing’, this book, has finally been born. I could now write the story reasonably comfortably, without the pain, the sickness in my stomach or the depression that always rose with earlier attempts. And it was time. Remaining tucked away in my shadow world where embarrassing and shameful events were kept was no longer right.

What was this story about and what was such a big deal you might ask?

Well, in March of 1998, I completely burnt out and had a nervous breakdown.

It officially started on the morning of Thursday 12th of March at about 8am when I had the first of what-were-to-be many severe, full-blown panic attacks. Until December I suffered daily with extreme anxiety and became deeply, clinically depressed. I was a complete mess, unable to function ‘normally’. For 9 long months, with my life held in limbo, I lived life in a slow motion bubble. Imagine that.

Those months, and the rough and uphill climb to wholeness afterwards defined the darkest and most challenging period of my life. But life had to go on. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t know, while in that state, if I would be able to stop myself from ending my life. What if I was I capable of tricking myself into ending it?"...

And this from the first chapter COUNTDOWN

..."In January 1996 I shifted with my family to the small coastal Queensland town of Yeppoon...Within 12 months however, my life was very hectic, stressful and full of emotional turmoil. I was forever busy, going from one activity to the next, always “up”, moving, never relaxed. I had lots on my plate. I had issues, but I didn’t have the time, the energy, or desire to deal with them.

“I’ll deal with it later,” are the famous last words I used about everything immediately un-resolvable. I always intended to deal with ‘it’ and ‘things’ later, but by now ‘things’ had stockpiled.

You see, I knew I would go into overwhelm if I stopped to address some important issues and so I simply didn’t. I couldn’t, I no longer knew how. They were personal. Keeping going, staying strong seemed the only option, so I kept going. I’m referring to my marriage. It had been in trouble for some time and sadly it was getting worse. I had become an emotional wreck, my self-esteem had plummeted and I was living on the edge whilst pretending to the kids and the world that everything was fine."...

Next week I'll be posting  on Wednesday March 5th with the Insecure Writers Support Groups' monthly Blog Hop. My post will appear here, but I may not post next Friday (Thursday for some of you :))

Until then, have a great weekend,

Leonie, Winnie and Hunny

Thursday, 20 February 2014

3 Powerful Ways to use Colour for Health and Harmony.

Ysanne Lewis - Colour Chart

These days, with having CFS/ME, many of my best laid plans don't go to plan. My intentions are good, my diary is sorted and set for the next day, but when the day arrives, quite often the 'plan' has to be adjusted for one reason or another. For example, I was going to write about my memoir today, but this past week has been a particularly slow, fatiguing and frustrating one and my plans to continue with the edit/rewrite have come to naught. In fact, I've spent some confusing and irritating hours on a laptop that is also suffering fatigue it seems as it has taken to shutting itself down on occasion without prior notice to me! Looks like I need a new one. Wish I could say the same about myself. Oh well,...

So I decided to continue this week with a post on Colour Therapy because the Crystal post last week was more lively than a serious memoir. There will be a book on Colour at some point too, when plans go to plan. Maybe sooner than the memoir, and one on Crystal Therapy, and why not even one on Aromatherapy :) Just short ones, with enough to give you the basics for First Aid/Self Help at home. What do you think? I've run workshops on exactly these topics in the past so I should know something, right?

Colour is a non-invasive yet powerful healer that was known and used by many ancient civilisations such as  the Lemurians, Atlantians, Egyptians, Maya, Indians, Chinese, and North American Indians. They all had a great knowledge of colour healing, and today many people are embracing this pure healing force again.

Colour is part of the electro-magnetic spectrum, and comes to us via white light from the sun. White light is broken into the visible spectrum - the rainbow - the colours that we see. Colour penetrates our entire being, every cell is light sensitive, but when this light energy is blocked, imbalance and dis-ease can occur. For example, bad diet, unhealthy lifestyle, negative thoughts, suppressing emotions or stress can all negatively upset the body's energy balance.

In Colour Therapy, it is the vibrations or healing energies, carried by the different colours, that are used to promote balance and harmony between body, emotions, mind and spirit to help keep us healthy.Therefore, colour can be used to balance energy, aid creativity and learning, release blocks and help alleviate physical and mental conditions.

Lets look first at the colours that are used in traditional Colour Therapy. These are also the ones I used in my Practice. Have a look at the Colour Wheel above for the colour of the colour :). Notice also on the Colour Wheel that directly opposite each colour is what's known as its Complement, e.g, Yellow' s Complement is Violet,  Blue's Complement is Orange. More on this later. As well, we need to know each colour's unique healing quality, outlined below. These come through via the vibration that the colour inherently carries as part of its place in the electro-magnetic spectrum. The energy of this vibration, our belief in and invitation of this energy into our life is what brings about healing. As with crystals, so for colour. The principle is the same, it's just a different medium delivering the healing energy.

RED is life force energy. It is stimulating, energising, revitalising. It is good for circulation, chronic illness, the blood and RAISES blood pressure. Associated with the Base Chakra, the feet, legs, sex organs, bladder, large intestine.

ORANGE is joy and creativity, sensuality, sexuality, generosity. It is good for the heart and artery disease, the digestive system, and it assists in balancing, cleansing and purifying the hormones. It relaxes, uplifts and opens up the body and mind to nourishment. Associated with the Sacral Chakra and small intestine.

YELLOW is learning, the intellect and will. It is good for the digestion, stomach, gall-bladder, liver and nervous system.  It is cheerful and helps dispel fear and stuck energy as well as give clarity to our thoughts. Associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra, the diaphragm, upper digestive organs.

GREEN is balance. It is abundance, new beginnings, growth, calming, soothing, nature, trust. It is good for the liver, tumours, cysts and growths, the chest and skeletal system. It helps balance our emotions, thoughts and decisions. Associated with the Heart Chakra, the heart, the chest, the arms.

TURQUOISE is immunity. It is good for inflammation, burns and infections, and boosts the immune system, the lungs and large intestine. It assists with deep change and immunity from the negative thoughts and emotions of others. Associated with the Thymus Chakra and Thymus Gland.

BLUE is calming and deep inner peace. It is cooling and anti-cramping. It is good for headaches, nervousness, pain, fever, haemorrhage, insomnia, and helps LOWER blood pressure. It is soothing, protective, nurturing, expansive and relaxing and helps calm the mind if you cannot think calmly. Associated with the Throat Chakra, the throat and neck.

VIOLET is wisdom. It is the higher mind, spirituality, intuition, inspiration, loyalty. It is good for the spleen and lymphatic system, is anti-viral and relaxes the entire body, mind and spirit. It promotes self-respect and dignity, and enhances meditation. Associated with the Brow Chakra, the eyes and ears.

MAGENTA is transformation. It is the connection to spirit, love from beyond, compassion, letting go. It regulates the brain, pineal gland and autonomic nervous system. It helps us let go of old emotions, thoughts, patterns, habits, relationships. Associated with the Crown Chakra.

AND.......As promised, 3 of the ways colour can be used are as follows:
  • Colour Affirmations
  • Colour Breathing
  • Colour and Crystals
COLOUR AFFIRMATIONS are short positive sentences which are repeated regularly and often. We can use affirmations to move stagnant energy and change ingrained patterns or thoughts often developed in childhood. If you've been in the habit of repeating statements like "I'm no good at math".....insert yours :)...then you've probably said it a million times (truly) without realising it, and, as a result you now believe it :(. The GOOD NEWS is, YOU CAN CHANGE IT. Truly. With an affirmation. A Colour Affirmation. Here goes.

The colour yellow helps me with my math. Yellow being the colour of the intellect, will and learning is perfect for anything to do with study or learning. You could also add another sentence/affirmation using Magenta, for letting go of old patterns and habits.
Magenta helps me let go of my old beliefs about math. The idea is to make the affirmations positive, in the present tense, ie. I am, I Leonie am, help, are, do, balance, express, bring, strengthen etc. The here and now. State the colour, and put yourself in the affirmation. 

Here are some more.

Every day I am energised and revitalised by the colour red.

The orange ray brings me joy and happiness.

Yellow, I am worthy of my own self-love.

With the colour green I restore balance and harmony to every cell in my body.

Through turquoise I am able to boost my immune system.

Through the colour blue, I attain more peace and tranquility in my life.

The violet ray heals every nerve fibre in my body.

With magenta I can let go of the past.

COLOUR BREATHING is another simple technique that can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the affirmations above. Because we breathe involuntarily, adding colour to our breaths is a powerful self-help natural healing tool. Hold a clear quartz crystal in your hand or have one nearby and the energies are amplified. All the better for you. 

Colour Breathing requires that you lie down or sit in a chair with your back straight, preferably in a quiet, peaceful environment, but if that's not available to you, this lovely exercise need only take 5 to 10 minute, so is do-able in the office, the park, on the train, or in the shower (wonderful). Like I said, anywhere, anytime you can close your eyes and zone out for a few minutes without someone disturbing you. First, identify which colour you need , say MAGENTA for a relationship breakdown. You will also need its Complementary colour Green. If you have an inflamed and infected cut you will need TURQUOISE and its Complement Red.

So settle yourself, relax, close your eyes and take some deep breaths.Then return your breathing to normal. Image yourself at a time when you were completely well, positive and happy. Put an imaginary smile on your face, even if you don't feel like that now. Continue to breathe normally, then on the next in-breath, breathe in your chosen colour and imagine it passing in through your nose and spreading from there throughout your body. On your out breath, breathe out the COMPLEMENTARY colour. Continue to breathe normally. MAGENTA in, GREEN out, or (Turquoise in, Red out) for 5 to 10 minutes. You can repeat this whenever you like, or feel the need.  If you become distracted that's okay, just gently bring yourself back to your colour breathing. You can flood your body with the colour, or simply direct the colour with your mind to the inflamed and infected cut. This is a really simple but powerful exercise.

Naturally, I've skimming the surface of a vast subject, but I hope you get the idea :) I've got one more lovely colour treatment you can give yourself and it involves .... CRYSTALS...., some of which I wrote about last week.

Colour and crystals are intimately bound together and work, dare I say, magic together. They posses not only their own mineral healing energies, but the healing energies of colour as well. Here is a choice  for each colour. Carry them with you, place them on your body according to the area their colour governs and ask them to aid in the healing process. The ones I have/like are in bold.

RED: Ruby, Garnet, Red Jasper, Red Agate

ORANGE: Carnelian, Orange Jasper, Orange Agate, Orange Quartz

YELLOW: Citrine, Golden Topaz, Yellow Agate, Tiger Eye

GREEN: Aventurine, Jade, Peridot, Emerald, Green Jasper

TURQUOISE: Turquoise, Green Quartz

BLUE: Lapis Lazuli, Blue Lace Agate, Sodalite, Blue Quartz

VIOLET: Amethyst, Fluorite, Tourmaline

MAGENTA: Clear Quartz, Rutilated Quartz, White Topaz

There are soooo many beautiful crystals. When choosing a new one, I generally go with what appeals to me. I look  and choose within what I'm broadly looking for, rather than what was specifically written in the book or on the website. That way I'm always surprised and pleased.

So there you have 3 ways you can use colour at home or anywhere for health and wellbeing. I've only scratched the surface here, colour is a powerful long-standing healer sadly hidden away and deemed quackery when main stream medicine came along. Just take a moment and look around you at the colours in your life. If you pass a long dreary grey winter, maybe you experience S.A.D, Seasonal Affective Disorder, in which some people experience often severe depression in winter, only to be perfectly okay again in summer. Then if you life in the Cook Islands maybe you have sunshine and warm weather all year round and have a very relaxed, carefree and sunny disposition.

I have a very green, lush and beautiful back yard. It is warm and tropical in our southern hemisphere summer right now. Most of the plants and trees were planted by yours truly before I had CFS and I'm so happy I did that. I love gardening, but I can't do it anymore. My point is, the garden soothes me. The green soothes me. Green is my favourite colour these days. It used to be blue for a long time, blue for relaxation because I was always too stressed, now it's green to maintain balance. It all works. On all levels of consciousness, whether we believe it, whether we want it to work, or not. Everything works better if we do want it to and if we do believe it.

And on that note, it's time to sign off and have some coffee. Next week, an update, I hope, on the memoir, ha ha.

Have a happy, colourful weekend all,


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Now for SoMethiNG enTiREly diFFerent: CRYSTALS.

My Dood books are finished. I loved writing them, they were fun stories. I'm an observer, and as such I had an insight into how my Doods think and do, their interests, fears and sense of humour. Yes, they have one and it was/is quite easy to detect. Because of my books, I was recently given another doggie book called "Inside Of A Dog"  What Dogs See, Smell and Know. This International New York Times Bestseller by cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz "explains how dogs perceive their daily world". It's an in-depth, eye-opening, fascinating look into what really goes on for dogs.

RADICAL change of subject. For some time, my Crystal Healing board on Pinterest has had the most re-Pins of all my Boards. Almost every day I receive notification that there has been at least one Crystal re-Pin. There are many people out there who are interested in crystals, not only their beauty, but also their healing properties.

My interest began as a child picking up pretty pebbles. Later I became a Geologist, later a Natural Therapies Practitioner specialising in Hypnotherapy, Colour Therapy, Crystal Therapy, Electro-Crystal Therapy, Aromatherapy Massage and Reiki. Somewhere in between I had a breakdown. Ironic isn't it? I've done other things too.

Now I write, and as you can see, I've traveled many places, covered many bases. Even though I don't practice Natural Therapies for others anymore, I still have my "tools", my crystals, colours, books and various gadgets.

I've always had crystals around the house. There's currently a piece of sparkly Green Aventurine Aventurine on my bedside table, simply because it 'appealed' to me one day so I knew it needed to be there. At some point it will return to join my other crystals, only to be exchanged, or not, for another.

At the front door is a large chunk of unpolished Rose Quartz. Rose Quartz It has been there for 8 years, as long as I've lived in this house. It seemed 'right' for it to be there. It's there to promote loving, calming, peaceful thoughts and actions in anyone entering and leaving my house. I also have another piece in my room, and one on the back veranda, and a tiny polished piece in my purse :). The piece of Rose Quartz in my room sits on a small table next to my meditation chair with other crystal companions an Amethyst Cluster   
a Clear Quartz Point  standing crystal point   
and a Milky or Candle Quartz Candle Quartz crystal point
to balance the energies of the Clear Quartz. I suspect I may have at least 100 crystals!

This Saturday the 15th there is a Full Moon and approximately 2 dozen of the crystals I use the most will be Moon Bathing. That is, I will be setting them out under the rays of the Full Moon to cleanse and re-energise them. First I will wash them in a bath of cooled, boiled water which has a little sea salt added for detox. Then I'll rinse them in extra plain cooled, boiled water and place them in a dish or tray outside to absorb the calming, heavenly energy of the Full Moon. It's like us having our daily shower. In the morning, after having received some of the sun's early energy, I bring them inside, all sparkly, refreshed and renewed. They love it!

I do this partly because I believe crystals, like plants and animals, are sentient beings. They help us, take care of us, look after us and look out for us...why are we otherwise attracted to them? we need to do our part in return. Washing off the dust and dross of daily life and the energy that surrounds it is the least we can do for them. Even if this is not quite your thing, it's hard not to be fascinated by the many colours, forms, habits and sizes crystals can take. Some are miniscule. Some are gigantic. Some come in singles, some form magnificent clusters in vast caverns and caves. Wow, Wow, Wow! I'd LOVE to visit those!!

So on Saturday I'll be Moon Bathing a piece of Amethyst  
a piece of Blue Lace Agate  blue lace agate,   
a Carnelian   several Clear Quartz points, a small Citrine Cluster  
Fluorite                    Hematite   
 a piece of polished red Jasper 
 a piece of Lapis LazuliLapis Lazuli pyramid a polished raw Ruby ruby bead
and a Single Smoky Quartz Point.Check out my Crystal Healing board on the Sidebar here for the healing properties of all of these crystals.

My crystals are kept in a beautiful wooden box my Dad made. They rest on a white sheepskin bed, and when I have 'need' of one or another's healing properties I'm simply drawn to a particular crystal, like the Green Aventurine on my bedside table. It's not magic, or science, or hard for that matter. If you would like to start using crystals for healing, or would just like some crystals in your house but don't know which or where to start, when visiting your crystal shop buy the one you like the most. It's as easy as that.

As for my current writing project, my memoir BROKEN - I may rename it, maybe- is coming along nicely. I have nearly finished another review of it. As this book is SERIOUS, I'm putting much more SERIOUS time and energy into it. It will be peer reviewed before publication (yikes!)  because I want my work to improve with successive books.

Next week an excerpt, unless you're craving more crystals or such.

Until then,

Happy weekend


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

WANTED: Female Authors' Tips for Lone Wolf with Issues.

This is my first post for IWSG ... and I'm feeling nervous and excited for the same reason. As my post title suggests, I'm a Lone Wolf, yet here I am about to take another plunge into very social waters. Not so long ago I could not have imagined myself doing this. Two posts ago I even talked about some hurdles and the benefits of being social, but now I'm about to walk my talk.

And guess what, I believe I'm enjoying myself! Prior to enjoyment, my emotion was fear. Fear of interaction and fear of the time it takes to interact. I just wanted to put my head down and write, publish my book and get on with the next one. I had no time for time wasting. I see things differently now mostly because I was forced to, but also because I realised, thank goodness, that it's good and healthy for my creative processes to be social.

Having said that, what do I want?

I'm wondering how some authors deal with 3 issues, namely
  • Health. Chronic Illness which exhausts and slows you down whilst,
  • Self-publishing, self-promoting, living alone. Being a Lone Wolf and,
  • Money. Income insufficient to support a gnat.
Now many of you will have traveled the hard money and self-publishing road already, but how many of you have a chronic illness as well? Oh and are female? What I'm saying is, that to qualify to answer, you must be
  • female, 
  • live alone, 
  • do everything, 
  • have a chronic illness, 
  • self-publish, self-promote, AND 
  • have less income than expenses. 
How do you/did you deal with these issues together, not singly, but particularly the money one, because this one directly and indirectly affects all the others? I'm interested to know because this is where I find myself now. Now is 8 short ebooks self-published (no income in my pocket so far), the first draft of a memoir complete and many more ideas waiting to be written. Now is where I've faced several writing hurdles and am still here. Now is where I'm about to cross the social threshold of the writing road.

So is being social about "I'll read and edit your book/create a cover if you read and edit my book", and bouncing ideas off one another? Is it about asking for help and not pretending that you're doing fine when you really do have issues?

I don't know yet but am hoping to find out very soon. So yes, I am nervous and excited.

As to that memoir, it's called BROKEN. A Memoir of Breakdown, and here's a snippet. I hope to have it published within a month, all going well.

Until next time


from BROKEN - Introduction

"In March of 1998, I had a nervous breakdown.
It officially started on the morning of Thursday 12th at about 8am when I had the first of what-were-to-be many severe, full-blown panic attacks. Of course, I had no idea what was happening and my not knowing caused me to panic even more. From March until December of that year I experienced what it was like to have my life held in limbo. I suffered daily with extreme anxiety and became deeply depressed. I was a complete mess, unable to function normally on a day to day basis.

To say those months were painful, and the road to wholeness afterwards was rough would be an understatement, but life had to carry on. I wasn’t suicidal, didn’t want to die, but there were times then when I felt so bad, so far down, that I didn’t know if I could ever get up again. I didn’t know, while in that state, if I would be able to stop myself from ending it all. What if I was I capable of tricking myself into ending my life?"