1, 2, skip a few… 99, 100!

Did you ever do that when you played hidey as a kid?

Your turn to count to 100?

OK.

1, 2, skip a few… 99, 100. Coming ready or not.

Hide and seek

That’s what life has felt like recently. Big change. Coming, ready or not.

It’s been an eventful and tumultuous last few months. That’s my line and I’m holding to it. Though sometimes holding the line feels like I’m holding a handful of balloons…

Handful of balloons

…and sometime a bucket full of stones.

Bucketful of stones

Coming out this side, albeit slowly, I’m determined to be grateful for the all the tiny and colossal reminders to live my life to the max. My best life, with time for family, friends, fun, writing and wellbeing.

If not now, when?

My beautiful sister Mary, who I mentioned in my last blog, passed away in January. Back in September, I’d written that we’d enjoyed a few hours chatting and swapping stories on a warm afternoon. She was the best storyteller in the family, her gift inherited from Mum but honed by years of yarns with friends and relations, and decades of spinning stories to kids of her own and with her kindergarten teaching. She took on being the family glue when Mum passed and was truly loved by all. The photo is of the three sisters Mary, myself and Imelda.

Mary, Veronica & Imelda

My brother Mark described it well – we all have a Mary sized hole in our life. It’s going to be a hard one to fill, though we have so many beautiful memories.

I thought I’d manage my grief better than I have – it has been such a familiar friend to me after all. But I haven’t been this intimate with grief for a while. And ‘manage my grief’, who does that. Did I learn nothing. Ah yes, now I remember. It is what it is. All in our own good way and our own good time.

I miss Mary dearly. And never more so than when I have something to celebrate. I finally got Ochre Dragon, The Opal Dreaming Chronicles  Book 1, over the line and it was published on 5th February 2019.

Mary admitted to me that she bought 14 copies of my first book – Breathing While Drowning – because she wanted me to be excited and not disappointed if I didn’t sell any. Such sisterly faith in my writing!

Even though she wasn’t around to buy a copy, plenty of family, friends and strangers were. Ochre Dragon made it to Amazon #1 Bestseller, and I’m grateful to every person who bought a copy, told a friend, shared on social media, and sent me good wishes. I am so blessed.

Ochre Dragon - in hand

I’m also very glad I shared so many moments with Mary over the past few months – and years.

Is it time for you to stop and share a moment with someone close to you?

Just in case you’re wondering about Book 2 of The Opal Dreaming Chronicles (Huon Staff) – it’s still a few months away. Though I’m beginning to feel the weight of responsibility to get it out so readers will know what happens next.

And in the meantime, I’ve had a short story accepted into one of the first fantasy anthologies to support gender equality. This is likely to be out before Huon Staff (TODC Book 2).

Dark Dominions will be published on a Kickstarter campaign if we can generate the funds. So if you’d like to contribute a dollar or two, follow the link HERE. As my regular readers and friends know, women’s empowerment is important to me. This is an opportunity to ensure equal book time, equal pay. And if you look really closely on the back cover, V.E. Patton is the last author mentioned.

So yeah, I’m feeling grateful. How about you?

Thanks for reading.

Veronica

If you’d like some sneak peaks at my next book, sign up to my Book Friends list in the website footer to get my irregular newsletter.

Time for fun! And that means what exactly?

You should have more fun!

What on earth does that mean? Fun according to who?

Can you see where this is going?

The sound of ‘should’ tends to bring my shoulders up to my ears. I figure I’m getting a little long in the tooth to be told what I should and shouldn’t do. So when someone (especially me) tells me I ‘should’ do something, it’s a flag to stop, reflect and reconsider. Who says I should do it? Why?

I ‘should’ still be in bed. It’s a public holiday here in Melbourne (for the footy Grand Final tomorrow) and many Victorians are having a sleep in. Not me. The stories in my head stop me going back to sleep. Echoes of peculiar dreams to accompany the soft breathing of Strack lying beside me.

Then there’s the father-son combo of roosters in the back yard competing to welcome the dawn with their raucous chorus, the complementary warble of magpies, and the harsh craawk of ravens. Following that up with one offspring showering, breakfasting, and heading out the door to his early morning shift in the city.

And those damn stories – yep still there.

Some of them are fiction and some not. These days the see-saw has tilted more towards fiction, though I still have my days when I replay those bad moments over and over and over – re-telling that same poor tale. Why do we do that? We wouldn’t pay money to go back and watch a bad movie, so why would we replay one in our head – especially one where the protagonist (us) comes out feeling so bad.

Time to re-write that scene. Which is where I was going with the ‘you should have more fun’.

Time for fun is on the dreamboard over my desk.

Problem is, I discovered that a few years ago that, apart from reading, I didn’t have any hobbies, so fun was more a concept than a reality. I’d spent a lifetime working for others and then I started my own business and spent way too many hours working for myself. Now that mightn’t be so bad, but it was a sad indictment of my ability to have fun.

I needed some time to think about what I define as fun. Was it adrenaline junkie physical feats of madness?

Leaping for fun

Nope.

Was it more classical, passive pastimes like concerts and live theatre?

Nope.

And the list went on. I’m not a painter or a crafter, though I’ve done lots of things over the years — but none really struck me as a fun now, as something I wanted to do again, and again.

I could think of lots of things that weren’t my idea of fun but not so many things that were. Now I’m getting better and I’ve found a few things.

Yesterday was a beautiful reminder of exactly the kind of fun I like.

Conversations. I spent a couple of  hours swapping stories with my sister. Both of us on our banana lounge, enjoying a warm spring afternoon, just chatting about life, the universe and everything – and there wasn’t even any wine – or whining for that matter.

Just memories, dreams, laughter. I am so very grateful to have her in my life.

That’s my idea of fun. What’s yours?

And if you’re wondering about the next book – it’s close – really close.

Thanks for reading.
And if you’d rather listen to me read the blog, head over to SoundCloud HERE

Veronica

If you’d like some sneak peaks at my next book, sign up to my Book Friends list in the website footer to get my irregular newsletter.

How hard is it to ask for help?

Ask for help for my stuff? Yoikes no! I’m fine thanks, I’ll manage. And I usually do; manage that is. I don’t know about you, but I find it so much easier to do things for other people than for myself.

I’ve found not asking for help for my own stuff, my most difficult habit to break. It just doesn’t come naturally. I have a tough time holding myself accountable for my own dreams, they tended to be last on my list and so often not done, leaving me more and more frustrated and stressed from the Zeigarnik Effect. Continue reading

Do you have any evolutionary friendships?

A few years ago I came across the term ‘evolutionary friends’ in a course on feminine power by Claire Zammit and Katherine Woodward Thomas.

Over your life friendships will come and go and come and stay.

And then once in a while you’ll discover that you have an evolutionary friend.

Evolutionary friends are those amazing souls who’re prepared to see you through the personal transformation changes in your life.  These friends have boundless integrity and are prepared to go on the journey with you and to hold you and themselves accountable for following your dreams and becoming the person you’d like to be.  Evolutionary friends help you find and stand in your strength and power and cheer at your successes.  And they’re prepared to have the difficult conversations when you fail or slip into old behaviours. Continue reading

The right words at the right time

Words have always held a special power for me.  Words are the magic of communication, sharing a message or emotion, revealing a truth or idea, offering comfort or advice, giving instructions or feedback.

The right words at the right time can change your life.  Sometimes you may have heard the words before but you weren’t really ready to listen to their message until that very moment.  Like the Buddhist proverb…

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Continue reading

Stop for a minute and breathe

When was the last time you took some time out to spend entirely for yourself for absolutely no reason other than you wanted to? What if I added to that question – without feeling guilty?

These days most of us (me too) get so caught up in the busy-ness of our lives that we never seem to take a breath that doesn’t have some task attached to it.

Busy-ness is the new black. Everyone is doing it or expects to be doing it. And most of us wear busy-ness like a badge of honour. Continue reading

How’ve you been, really?

One of my best friends made a gem of a statement the other day that started me thinking about friendship and mindfulness.  We’ve been best friends since we were kids and have stayed best friends even as careers and families kept us geographically distant the last few decades.

Although we live in separate parts of the country at the moment, whenever we catch up, often months apart, it feels like it was yesterday since we spoke.  When we fill each other in on what’s been happening, my friend described it like we both have these ’bonus bubbles of life’ between our catch ups.  As if the real world is the brief time we spend together, everything else has a sense of scripted alternate reality. Goes to show how present we are and invested in the moment when we’re together. Mmm sounds like we’re being mindful. Continue reading

Listen … did you hear that?

Being more mindful is a growing practice, in more ways than one. Taking the benefits as read, (more peace of mind and wellbeing, greater focus, creativity and better relationships) how could you start being mindful?

Now the thought of beginning a mindfulness practice, like anything new, can be a bit overwhelming (which is kind of funny when you think that mindfulness is supposed to reduce stress and increase focus). However, I have a simple way to start and you don’t need expensive equipment or fancy outfits and there’s no need to sit cross-legged on the floor (luckily for me as I tend to keel over in about 15 seconds when I do).

So here’s my tip for heading down the road to mindfulness. Continue reading

Let’s talk about something that matters

Conversations with purpose make us happier. I knew science would support me eventually, conversations with purpose certainly make me happy. There’s nothing I like more than a chat about stuff that matters with one or more people who are really present and engaged. Researchers say that “the happy life is social rather than solitary and conversationally deep rather than superficial”

The article also uses one of my favourite quotes from Socrates “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Now before you say ‘too much navel gazing’ and click elsewhere this doesn’t mean we need to spend hours pondering every nuance of the deep mysteries of life and picking apart our every experience. While the authors suggest that deep conversations actually make people happier and instill a sense of meaning in the interaction partners, the definition of what makes a substantive conversation is individual. It could be a chat about the state of our health system, your upcoming mortgage payment or the world shortage of bees. Continue reading