It turns out I’m not rambling to dead space…

I’m just a girl, standing in front of the internet, asking it to love her.

Okay, I’ll admit it – I’m not the first person to use that line. It originates from the movie Notting Hill, which stars Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Grant plays a simple bookshop owner. His entire world changes when he meets Roberts’ character, the most famous film star in the world. As you would expect from a romantic comedy, the two of them fall in love and then fall prey to a veritable cornucopia of misunderstandings. The line I paraphrased at the top of this post is delivered by Roberts, and it actually goes like this: “I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” She says this in reply to Grant when he lists all the reasons they shouldn’t be together, one of those reasons being that she’s the world’s most beloved actress and everyone knows her while his own mother has trouble remembering his name.  

Now that I’ve sorted out who said what and why, I think it’s about time for me to get to the point of this blog post. The point is that I’m just a blogger, sharing her experiences on this journey called life, wishing and hoping that someone will enjoy reading her posts. A couple of days ago, my wish was granted. Petrel from Dear Kitty Some Blog nominated me for the Real Neat Blog Award.  

Late in 2014, Petrel created this award.  Why? Because Petrel believes there are many bloggers whose blogs deserve attention. Petrel is determined to do something about that. Thank you, Petrel!

The image you see below is the official award logo.

real-neat-blog-award

Accepting the nomination, which I do with equal parts gratitude and pride, includes answering seven questions. So, here goes…

Question 1: Where do most visits to your blog come from?

I’ve had visitors from across the globe, from America to Zimbabwe. Typically, most of my visitors are from the States and the United Kingdom.

Question 2: What is your favorite sport?

Formula One. My favorite driver, Nico Rosberg, retired last year after winning the championship. Now, I’m not sure who I’m going to root for. I’ve always been fond of Perez and this year he’s taking to the track in a pink car. Seriously. It’s pink. I’m not kidding. You can see it with your own eyes here: Force India Unveil Pink Car.

Question 3: What has been a special moment for you so far in 2017?

Being nominated for this award is something special. It means that I’m not just rambling to dead space. Some of you out there in the virtual world are reading my words and appreciating them. Thank you! 

Question 4: What is your favorite quote?

My favorite phrase is, “All’s well that ends well.” You can read why here.

Question 5: What was your favorite class when still at school?

English Literature. That doesn’t come as a surprise, does it? As a child, books were my best friends.  

Question 6: Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

I wish I’d learned at an earlier age that regrets are a waste of time. You can read more about that here.

Question 7: What musical instrument have you tried to play?

The piano. It was a short-lived attempt.

That’s all from me for now. I want to thank Petrel again for nominating me for the Real Neat Blog Award. And I wish all of you a happy Monday! 

Searching for Serenity

Here we go. Hello, Monday. We meet again.

Monday is a reliable friend. You can count on her. She always comes calling when she says she will.

We’re now seventy days into 2017. Some days have felt like an eternity. Conversely, at times, I feel as though entire weeks and months have rushed by me in the blink of an eye. Time is a mysterious phenomenon.

There was a time when the start of a new week sent a thrill of excitement running up my spine. The scent of undiscovered opportunities and possibilities hung in the air. Now, Mondays are as mundane as Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Regardless, I always begin my day with the best of intentions, vowing to make the most of it. Before I go to bed, I take a moment and consciously remind myself of the things in my life that I need to be grateful for and not take for granted. I don’t have a problem knowing how to begin and end my days. It’s the hours in between that I sometimes struggle with.

It has been said that change is the only constant. This might very well be true, but not much has changed for me so far this year. I remain stuck in a place I don’t want to be and I still can’t think of a way out of it. Mistakes and choices I made in the past led me here and I take full responsibility for them. Having said this, there are certain elements beyond my control that keep me trapped.

Anonymous Alcoholics have a saying that goes something like this: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I think it’s called the Serenity Prayer. I am neither an alcoholic nor a religious person. Still, this phrase has played in my mind with increasing frequency as of late. I would like to learn how to serenely accept the things I cannot change.

There is one thing in my life I do have the power to affect. My writing. When I sit down to work on my novel, I’m in charge of what happens on the page. Working on my novel is my favorite escape from reality. Now that I think about it, something has changed since the start of this year. And what’s that? I no longer fear the blank page. Instead, I relish the thought of filling it with words, creating a story that I have complete control over.

25 Day Blog Challenge – Day 25

How do I feel about posting my 25th blog entry?  

Relieved!

No, I’m kidding.

To be honest, I’ve enjoyed the challenge. It has been both surprising and thought provoking. The process forced me to dive into some serious introspection. I’ve learned a couple of things about myself. While answering the questions in this challenge, I wound up reevaluating what I thought I knew for sure. I would call it a journey of self-discovery.

What’s next for me now that I’ve completed the 25 Day Blog Challenge? I’m going to keep working on my novel, of course. As for blogging, well, I’ve joined the #MondayBlogs clan. My plan is to focus on my novel from Tuesday to Sunday and save the blogging, twittering, and facebooking for Mondays.

Bottom line: if you haven’t tackled a blog challenge yet, I highly recommend that you try it.

25 Day Blog Challenge – Day 24

What is my favorite food?

This is an easy one. Ice cream!

To be specific, vanilla ice cream.

I have begun to bemoan the use of vanilla to describe something as plain or bland. While I understand the connotation, I feel compelled to defend my most beloved ice cream flavor. Vanilla is neither bland nor boring.

Vanilla ice cream – at its best – is like a fine wine: beautiful, subtle, incredibly textured, and enticing. Great vanilla is not to be confused with vanilla that is good enough or just a base for other things. Mock me all you want, but great vanilla ice cream needs no embellishment.

When it comes to vanilla ice cream, I’m a purist. I don’t want any chocolate chips or caramel swirls in it. I would never dream of putting any sprinkles or nuts on it. I want my vanilla ice cream unadorned.

Technically, I suppose ice cream is a desert rather than food. It is an ingestible product though. Therefore, I categorize it as food. If someone told me I had to pick one thing to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of my life. I would pick ice cream. Vanilla. Plain vanilla. Oh, what an exciting thought.

25 Day Blog Challenge – Day 23

What is the best advice I’ve ever received?

Even the stingiest of scrooges are generous with one thing – their advice. People love to give it. No matter how despondent the jilted lover, everyone else will be only too happy to tell him or her about the other fish in the sea. Patience may be a virtue, but wise friends can’t wait to offer their insights into how best to navigate a path through the emotional maze of life.

I am capable of recognizing the wisdom in really good advice, but when I’m hiding under the covers in bed on a dark day, very little really helps. Of course, I know what the Persian Sufi poets said: “This, too, will pass,” but in reality, until it does, I’m going to feel like moving to Minsk to start a new life. Okay, maybe not Minsk. I’d prefer the Maldives.

The best advice I have ever received came from a fictional character, a wise little green guy called Yoda. He said, “Do or do not, there is no try.” In other words, if there’s something you want to do, just do it, and give it your best shot.

25 Day Blog Challenge – Day 22

Who inspires me?

Hmm… this is a tricky one for me. Typically, inspiring people have achieved something incredible. Until recently, incredible achievements intimidated me. Instead of getting inspired by stories about people who triumphed over immense difficulties, I would think, “I could never do that.”

As I’ve said time and time again, I’m a work in progress. I’m actively working on not letting other people’s achievements intimidate me. I’m trying to let them inspire me.

JK Rowling followed her heart and passion for writing even when she was as poor as you can possibly be without being homeless, a single mother, and suffering from depression. Her success is testament to the rewards of persistence. She didn’t give up, not even after receiving a veritable pile of rejection letters from literary agents.

Anyone who is making a living from writing is an inspiration. I admire their tenacity. I’m going to keep working on allowing other writer’s success stories to inspire me until I become a full-time, earning writer myself.

25 Day Blog Challenge – Day 21

What is the most embarrassing thing I’ve done?

Back in 2006, I headed to Greece for the summer. Eager to get to the islands, I spent less than a day in Athens before boarding the ferry that would take me to Rhodes. Curious as always, I threw my one piece of luggage into the cabin (I always travel light) and began exploring the ship. To my surprise, I stumbled upon a fancy restaurant. The prices listed in the menu gave me the hiccups but the Grilled Vegetable Tower I ordered was worth the substantial hole it burned into my wallet. They weren’t kidding about the tower bit. I’d never seen such a tall stack of vegetables.

Well enough fed to be on the verge of falling into a food-induced coma, I waddled back to my cabin and fell asleep the instant my head hit the pillow. Due to the combination of jet-lag and unfamiliar surroundings, I woke with a sudden jerk in what I assumed was the middle of the night.

I fumbled in the pitch-black darkness for my trusty Nokia, which told me that it was 2 o’clock in the morning. I was just about to switch the phone off when I noticed something odd… “Turkcell.” I was supposed to be heading to Rhodes, not Turkey. Had I boarded the wrong ferry? Had the ferry veered off course without the Captain noticing? Had the ferry been hijacked?

In a slight panic, I threw on a robe and went to pound on my neighbor’s cabin door – a sweet American couple on their Honeymoon. When they emerged with more than a touch of apprehension, I asked, “Do you know where we’re going?”

“Um, Rhodes,” the man replied, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“We’re heading in the wrong direction!” I exclaimed and thrust my phone in his face. “Look!”

Of course, we weren’t actually heading in the wrong direction. We were just close enough to Turkey to pick up the “Turkcell” signal, which the just-married man sleepily explained with kind patience.

The next day, I bumped into the couple as I was about to disembark the ferry and plant my feet back on dry land. “Welcome to Rhodes,” they said, and winked at me.

25 Day Blog Challenge – Day 20

What is my favorite hobby?

Decluttering. I love decluttering. My only problem is that I never collect enough junk to be able to launch into a proper decluttering session. I’m thinking that I should start offering my decluttering services to other people. I’m really good at it!

If you’re a pack rat, think about the following…

Decluttering, minimalism, and simplifying your life go hand in hand. Freeing yourself of possessions (junk) is a liberating experience. Excessive material consumption can be draining and stressful, not to mention damaging to your bank balance. Keeping up with the Joneses gets exhausting in the long run. So why do it?

Decluttering helps you realize what you truly want. It’s your life! In terms of possessions, all that matters is what you want, not what everyone else thinks you should have.

What everyone else wants is irrelevant. You only get one life to live so finding out what brings you contentment is crucial. Keep what brings you joy and take everything else out to the trash. Use it or lose it. And if you need any decluttering assistance, head on over to the contact page and send me a message.

25 Day Blog Challenge – Day 19

What do I do when I’m home alone?

I watch reality TV.

I was late arriving to the reality TV party. That word “reality” put me off until very recently. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I prefer entertainment that isn’t too true to reality. Give me a “happily ever after” and I’m happy. However, after accidentally stumbling upon The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills at the end of last year, I’m now hooked.

I guess you could call watching the ladies of Beverly Hills stirring up a jaw-dropping amount of unnecessary trouble my guilty pleasure. The last couple of weekends, I’ve binge-watched entire seasons of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I’m not entirely sure why I get such a kick out of it. Maybe it has something to do with getting a peek into the lifestyles of the Rich and Famous for Being Famous. It’s a little like visiting a Disney Land created for grown ups without having to leave the comfort of my own home.

From the sparkling infinity pool and panoramic view from Lisa Vanderpump’s garden, to the Arabian tiled halls of Mohamed Hadid’s 48,000 square foot palace, the Housewives and their posse live amid an extravaganza of indulgence. Lisa’s designer shoe-filled, walk-in-closet is the size of most people’s houses. While I don’t need, want, or envy their possessions on account of my minimalist soul, I certainly relish feeling like a fly on the wall, witnessing how the privileged live. And did I mention they stir up a jaw-dropping amount of trouble? They do things that make my eyebrows take a hike north and say, “Really?”

25 Day Blog Challenge – Day 18

What is my biggest fear?

Success doesn’t happen overnight, it happens in the thousand nights that no one will ever write a song about. Overnight success is a myth. That’s what I keep telling myself.

In terms of reaching my goals, I know I have a long road ahead of me. But I am surrounded by a sometimes rather painful truth: there are other people out in the world who seem to be having no trouble whatsoever achieving their goals. Every morning brings news of yet another self-made millionaire fresh out of high school. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Still, you get my point, right?

It’s an ugly way to feel – unhappy because of someone else’s success. Human beings are sometimes ugly and I’m no exception.

There are days when I feel as though life is intent on reminding me of what I lack and rubbing my face in my own mediocrity. These reminders usually present themselves in the shape of other people. At every turn, I see someone who is more successful, more talented, more attractive, and more advanced in meeting important “milestones” than I am.

The decisions I made and actions I took in the past led me to where I am today. I take full responsibility for those decisions and actions. I own them. Still, sometimes, I look around and wonder how I got here. At this juncture, I am not where I want to be. I feel trapped and I can’t see a way out.

I know Roosevelt said that all we have to fear is fear itself, but I have a hard time taking those words to heart. I’m scared that I won’t accomplish my goals. I’m afraid that I might never realize my vision of success. My biggest fear is that I’ll spend the last day of my life, whenever that might be, alone and broke.