03.19.17

Cats or Coincidences?

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

cat twins

There is something odd about my street. More specifically: about the cats in my street. They are all duplicates of cats I have lived with at some point in my life.

I worked out very quickly that this feline doppelganger thing was going on. It also wasn’t lost on me that the most common visitor to my backyard looks EXACTLY like my current cat (see photo above –btw I had to work very hard to get the photo of the outdoor cat to look un-friendly, she is actually a lot more sociable and smiley than my cat).

At first I chose to ignore this coincidence, because it was weird and unnerved me a bit… But recently something odd happened. A cat has moved in who is not a past cat clone. I don’t know this cat, I’ve never known a cat like this cat, and I don’t know anyone who has a cat like this.

Is this cat a glimpse into my future?

I have to confess; the non-clone has weirded me out more than the clones. I don’t have a name for this cat and I’ve been giving it a wide berth. But what will seriously freak me out is if I meet someone who has the clone of this cat. If that happened then I wouldn’t even try to fight the universe, we’d just have to move in together.

Then again, maybe they are just cats?

 

03.05.17

Silencing the voice within

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

I’ve just started reading Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’. I’m literally one chapter in and I’m already rebelling against it. Chapter one is all about silencing the voice in your head. As a qualified hypnotherapist (scarily that is true, I don’t make this stuff up) I know that silencing the negative voice in your head is an important and healthy thing to do. But this book suggests we silence our inner voice altogether!

That voice is my best friend.

I share all my politically incorrect jokes with that voice. Together we pick out ‘most likely to be a serial killer’ from the patrons on the bus, not to mention ‘who would you hook up with if we were suddenly transported to another planet where we were the only humans’. Sometimes the winners of those two categories are the same person. But see, this is all the stuff that I usually only share with the voice in my head, not my blog readers. Looking back on the last paragraph I think maybe that is the way it should stay.

And we haven’t even scratched the surface of the role of that voice when it comes to my stories. That voice is the first one to translate the ideas into words. That voice inspires me to sit down and spend hundreds of hours writing and editing each year. That voice dreams with me about a day when we’ll get one of our novels published.

Sure it also tells me I have cankles and suggests maybe I’m looking a bit too old to keep pretending that I’m 35. But I’ve got to be honest; it might be onto something there.

I’ll keep reading the book, and hopefully it will tell me to befriend my voice again in later chapters. But for me, at least, I won’t be silencing my voice any time soon. We have way too much fun together.

01.29.17

Top 10 2017 – Non-fiction books

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

Okay, due to the overwhelming response of one (and that was a text message) I’m going with non-fiction books. I like to always be reading one non-fiction and one fiction book, no idea why, I guess it’s just one of my loveable quirks. And just as I read all different types of fiction, my non-fiction preferences run from evolutionary theory to he’s just not that into you-type books. So this will be an eclectic mix.

To pick my non-fiction books I’ll often look to the references of previous non-fiction books I have enjoyed. Part of me would really like to write a self-help program made up entirely of reading great non-fiction books. This won’t be that list, because some of the books here won’t necessarily contribute to making you a better and more rounded person, but I hope that many will. I will credit some for great leaps forward that I have made.

Something that I really believe about the self-help type books is that you cannot just read them once to get the benefit. If you are anything like me you get super motivated while reading it, but that influence drops off exponentially as soon as you stop reading them. So for these books I’ll let you know that they have made it to my annual reader list. Don’t worry, he’s just not that into you is not on that list.

I know I’m going to miss a whole heap of great books, so I should put in a rider that these books are the ones that are front of mind for me. They are the ones I read again or remember often.

Finally, your own preferences are going to massively shape what non-fiction you read. I LOVE palaeo-zoology and evolution, but that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m only going to include one (maybe two) in this list. You might like war planes or something that I find a bit nods-ey, so apologies for those not making the list. I guess this is my blog, so you get to find out about me 🙂

So, starting next month, the last post of the month will be my top 10 (at the moment) non-fiction books.

01.22.17

The Secret

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

Every now and then I worry what if “The Secret” is real? Usually this thought is sparked by a bout of coincidences that have left me feeling a little more connected to the universe than usual. Then work and bills and the minutiae of life creeps in and pulls a curtain over my budding belief. But what if it was real? What would my lack of progress say about me?

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m crazy lucky, but imagine if my lack of success in some important fields in my life were because I didn’t really believe I should get there? I know that exact same thought is what most people use to dismiss “The Secret”, but if I’m honest, realising my biggest hopes and dreams in life also has me terrified. What if I hated being a successful, published author?

For me, something that gives validity to “The Secret” is that I expect some things which are really exceptional gifts, but I take them as if they are the norm; wildflowers to be picked by anyone passing by. My chronic superstition won’t allow me to list those things, but when I stop and think about them I am really grateful, but only when I stop and think about them. Is it my expectation that gives me those things?

The biggest argument against “The Secret” as far as I can tell is why would the universe care what I want? Unless my desire is noble and for the benefit of the world, why should I be granted my dreams? But imagine; what if this world was meant to be a place where we are all satisfied, happy, content and live at one with nature, and the only reason it isn’t is because not enough of us believed in it? That would be tragic. Maybe we all need to work on our belief?

Okay, enough D&M. This year I want my last post of the month to be a Top10 again, so let me know if you would like scriptwriters or non-fiction books. Both kept trying to sneak in last year with my Top10 authors. Or feel free to suggest something else, the more challenging the better.

01.15.17

To break or not to break?

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

In the middle of October I started writing a novella and I finished the heavy edit on January 11th. What do I do now? I was spending at least 20 hours a week on this thing in December and January. Should I give myself some time off now?

With both the novels that I finished recently I think I may have burned myself out a bit, and I took a month off after each, but at less than 40,000 words the novella doesn’t feel like it has taxed me to the same degree. If anything I feel like it has revved me up! Not to mention that I’m working part time now, so that’s 16 hours of “work” time I’m not wasting at work each week.

I think jumping into another novel right now would be a mistake, and even a short story so hot on the heels of so much work might be pushing it… But I do know of a flash fiction call for subs which is closing in February. Maybe it is what I need to slow me down just enough to get ready to start the next big project?

I would like to find a way to sustain my writing throughout the year instead of doing several months of intense work and then a whole month of nothing. I might try this pacing thing out and see if it works.

01.01.17

Hopes for a New Year

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

My roof got speared by the branch of a pine tree on Tuesday night, and my 40+ year old Golden Elm got snapped in half. We had a storm, a big storm. It was the fourth such storm in Adelaide in 2016. At least they have stopped calling them hundred-year storms, it started sounding silly after the second one.  

While the loss of internet and a few days without power is really annoying, it is also starting to feel too familiar. Yesterday I was talking about going halvsies with my parents on a generator so our food doesn’t keep spoiling after these ‘events’. The idea makes me cringe, it is just another hideous Band-Aid over the reality of climate change.  

I like to think of myself as being environmentally aware, yet I buy my milk in plastic bottles, I have multiple beauty products which promise (and fail) to deliver straight hair, and I’ve had 5 laptops which have never been passed on to anyone else after I finish with them. There is only so much that recycling can pick up the slack on. I often come in at half the rate on my water, electricity and gas use for equivalent sized households, yet I think I still use too much, far too much.  

I want the babies of today to see a live Barrier Reef when they grow up, I want them to live in a world where tigers and orang-utans and elephants are wild animals living in wild places. I want there to be trees that have grown in the same place for hundreds, if not thousands of years. A life full of plastic bottles, needless chemicals and high-turnover electricals won’t help to deliver that.  

I know it can seem overwhelming and there is a belief that we are too far gone to make a difference, but that isn’t true. There are actually a million things you can do. Something I saw this week which really inspired me was The Minimalists (see TED talk below). This is something so easy to do, you can do as much or as little as you like, and it addresses one of the big problems I see in Western society of consumerism (even if economists don’t agree with me).  Please think about it, I know not all of us can have 5 minute showers, but I’m sure you can find something to cut back on. Every little bit helps.

Happy New Year!

YouTube Preview Image

12.25.16

2016 – a look back

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

The week I turned 30 I decided I was going to properly ‘try’ to be a writer. I joined a professional writers group and I made the decision to finish my novel. That was over ten years ago now (or six if you use my online age). Strangely 2016 is the first year where I have truly felt like a writer.

It has been a great year when I look back on it, even though it feels like I haven’t done much. That novel I wanted to finish back when I was 30 took over ten years to complete (all up). Last year I wrote a novel in four months, this year I wrote one in three months. I’m also on the cusp of finishing a novella. This is definitely not just a hobby.

I was made redundant from my day job in June and I enjoyed four glorious months of full-time writing. Any fears I had about the lonely life of a writer were well and truly dispelled. This is something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. I now have managed to land a part time job which lets me continue to write at a rate I couldn’t have imagined three or four years ago.

I know I may never get a publishing contract for a novel, and my self-publishing may never hit the $ values required for me to actually get a cheque, but I love to create and explore and disappear into these worlds. 2016 has shown me that this is something I can give to myself, no matter what the publishing houses of the world may say.

I have learned a lot about myself and a lot about writing over the past year. The thing I would like to share, which applies equally to writing a novel or any other goal in life, is that you just need to do it. Say ‘no’ to lounging in front of the TV, let the dishes build up sometimes and make your goal a priority. That’s what my decade+ has taught me most, and it seems like the most obvious thing in the world.

I hope when you look back on your 2016 you can see all the things you have achieved and celebrate them. I also hope you can light your passion for completing even more in 2017. Happy Christmas and have a safe New Year!

12.18.16

In memory of The Gardner

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

Relationships with animals are unlike anything we experience with humans. I’m not going to say better or worse, but to me they feel magical. This seems doubly true when those relationships are with wild animals. I had this with a local magpie who I called The Gardner.

Ours started off, as many relationships do, as one of convenience. When I mowed the lawn The Gardner would come down and pick off all the bugs I disturbed. Apologies for over-generalising to the oligochaetes, but worms are a silly bunch of critters, did you know they wriggle up when you cut the grass? The Gardner knew.

Later, when I was digging out the lawn to put in as many trees and bushes as possible, The Gardner would hang around because he knew that whenever I unearthed lawn beetle larvae I would throw them to him. Eventually he would sit right next to me while I dug the hole so I wouldn’t miss any.

Now I think The Gardner is dead. He has not come down for nearly two weeks. He does not swoop past me when I come home from the bus stop, brushing his wings against my shoulder to let me know he’s there. He doesn’t sit at my back door when I turn on the lights in the morning. He doesn’t do his little dinosaur run from the backyard when he hears me open the door.

I’d like to believe that The Gardner has just run away, and is making friends with other mowing/digging bipeds somewhere else safe, but in my heart I know that is not the case. I miss him terribly. I had no idea what a ray of happiness he was in my day until he went away.

Thank you for sharing your time with me Gardner, I miss you. 🙁

The Gardner checking out an odd looking visitor.

12.04.16

Regrets

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

I believe most of us aspire to live life without regrets, but what does that mean exactly? I think of it as being if you had your time again, what would you change? Probably a bit of a redundant question really because after the first change, thanks to the time travel paradox, you’d probably not get presented with the rest of the decisions you were hoping to fix and you’d end up a very different person with different regrets anyway.

It makes me wonder if perhaps what we really mean is that we are okay with regrets, but we don’t want to wallow in them. You can use a past regret to help with making better decisions now. A classic example for me is that I regret not doing more with my zoology degree. It’s not something I cry myself to sleep over, or get sick about each morning as I go to work, but if I watch a David Attenborough documentary, or an episode of The Supervet, I do wish I had tried harder.

So what can I do now? Well, instead of wallowing in regret I’ll take my current situation and try to bend it back toward something zoological. I don’t think it is a coincidence that my last two story sales have been animal-based. My recently finished novel had animals playing big roles. This is my passion and who knows, if I do it well, I might just make a living out of it one day.

So what do you regret? More importantly, how can you feel fulfilled in that area now? It is so important to live in the now, you only have control to change what you do next. I like to think that is enough.

10.02.16

Who has the power?

Posted in Journal at 9:00 am by Natalie

On Wednesday the entire state I’m living in was blacked out. Most of us went without power for between 4 and 8 hours, but there are still some people waiting for their power to be reconnected. This is an ENTIRE STATE of Australia I’m talking about.

Now the part that I found most disturbing was not that we lost power, I get that tornados in an area that never sees tornados (thank you global warming) can mess with the power grid, what I didn’t get was how utterly unprepared we were for going without power for what is really a pretty short time. One of our hospital’s generators failed after the first hour putting lives at risk and the airport generator didn’t even kick on!

Traffic ground to a halt as traffic lights went off, trains and trams coasted to a stop wherever their momentum could get them to, while our diesel trains had to stop because they didn’t have the electricity to run fans to remove the toxic fumes. People got trapped in lifts which either failed to execute their safety features, or had never been upgraded to include them.

We were warned to conserve our phone batteries, but what we didn’t expect was for the mobile phone towers to stop working after a few hours, most having only a 4-hour battery back-up, some obviously much less because two networks went off within a few hours. So the mobile phones we were saving battery on were useful then only as torches.

What many people didn’t realise was the pumping stations also stopped working. If the blackout had continued much longer we could have started drowning in our own sewerage and no water would have come out of our taps any more.

Many of my friends are also in areas where the NBN has been rolled out, so they have digital phones. All of those (along with internet) stopped working as soon as the power went down, this included the state emergency minister’s office. In fact, most of our ministers lost their phones, so they were restricted to mobile phones at the beginning of the ‘event’. Lucky the tower in the city didn’t go flat too soon.

I still have an old fashioned landline, so I was actually able to ring a friend in Melbourne while sitting in the dark and have a chat to her. As a luddite, I still had the safety of calling the emergency hotline if needed, but in the next 18 months that will no longer be available to me. Given we were also in the middle of the largest wind storm the state had seen for at least 50 but possibly 100 years, it is a miracle that no-one died as a result of not being able to call for help.

Many people have blamed our state’s high renewable energy input (40%) but that had nothing to do with this disaster. What I hope comes out of this is not that we need to shy away from renewables, but we need to embrace them even more. Imagine a world where we can all switch to our off-grid battery back-ups, powered by home solar and wind generators when needed. Maybe then we would be less likely to pollute the planet and cause these weather events in the first place?

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