What brings you joy?

Now, I know it might seem odd to take my Joy from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows — John Koenig’s masterful collection of made up words — but bear with me.

All the words in the Dictionary are new, and this is important… they’re “not necessarily intended to be used in conversation, but to exist for their own sake, to give a semblance of order to a dark continent, so you can settle it yourself on your own terms, without feeling too lost — safe in the knowledge that we’re all lost.”

Writing fantasy brings me joy

Writing fantasy brought coastlines to the lost, dark continent of my life, and allowed me to give it topography, mountains, valleys, caves, lakes, plains, flora, fauna, characters, and of course, magic. It allowed me to find my way in the real world and to create in my own made up worlds. After a little while, the creativity became more and more generous, taking over my real world too. Small, mundane things drew creativity from me. My mind discovered fantastic ways of being and doing. The portal between worlds became less of a doorway and more of a twitch of transition.

Sometimes when I tell people I write fantasy, I can see the question marks sprout from their heads like cartoon thought bubbles. They register the lines on my face and my grey hair first and a tiny frown appears, as if they wonder why someone my age would admit to reading fantasy, let alone writing it. Then they think about what they know of me: nurse, midwife, manager, CEO, business owner, facilitator, coach, wife, and mother, and they cock their head as if wondering whether I’ve lost the plot (pun intended). Then there’s a kind of polite ‘Oh, that’s [insert an inert word like nice or interesting here]’. And then it’s time to change the subject, their eyes sliding past me for saner folk.

And once in a while, people’s eyes will light up and they’ll want to know more. They, like me, are ringlorn.


Red stone gold ring

Koenig’s Dictionary describes ringlorn as “the wish that the modern world felt as epic as the one depicted in old stories and folktales — a place of tragedy and transcendence, of oaths and omens and fates, where everyday life felt like a quest for glory, a mythic bond with an ancient past or a battle for survival against a clear enemy, rather than an open-ended parlour game where all the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.”

I spent decades living an ordinary life. I let it be constrained by the made up rules of the parlour game. Work and grief hemmed me in until, one day, five and a half decades down the track, they didn’t. I began to hope, and I began to write.

Writing fantasy is tapping into that journey of transcendence, from ordinary to fantastic, from drudge to dweomer. Writing my stories is the ultimate coaching gig. Drawing potential from my flawed characters, helping them survive and thrive, outwitting the external villains while struggling against their internal monsters, all the while using the clues of oaths and omens to battle ogres and dragons — or to befriend them.

Honouring the mythic bond

When I write fantasy, I feel I’m honouring the mythic bond of my own ancient path, paying tribute to past matriarchs and story tellers who’ve brought up their families against the odds, and instilled them with a love of stories, and a hope for a better life.

For these, and for so many more reasons, writing fantasy brings me joy.

(And, of course, the impending end of lockdown for Victoria brings me much joy! I can hug my kids soon.)

This blog was originally written for and published by Gillian Barnes, and I am grateful to Gillian and her project #GBWritesWithOthers2021 on Twitter and her own website. If you enjoyed this piece, you can explore more of Gillian’s blog  and her other guests HERE or follow Gillian on Twitter @geezfresh.

Image Credits
Fantasy Mind Image: Stefan Keller from Pixabay
Ruby Ring Image: Peter Lomas from Pixabay

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? Continue reading

Are you leading a remarkable life?

When I was young, I thought of remarkable as meaning extraordinary, exceptional, amazing and wonderful. My life, like so many others, was changed forever by a remarkable event. I saw a grainy black and white image of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon – that’s what I secretly wanted to do. I wanted to leave an imprint that will be remembered forever, like Neil’s footprint on the moon. Continue reading

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