Rose-Colored Glasses

A few years ago, I found a pair of glasses.  They were very pretty, indeed.  They fit perfectly on my face and  I want to tell you why these glasses are so special.

Before I found them, my world was a different place.  Before I put them on, I couldn’t see that well.  What I could see, was dark, dreary and usually out of focus.  Sometimes, it was so difficult to see, I cried, which made it worse. I could barely see myself without the glasses. Worse still, when I looked out into the world, I could barely see anything at all. Much to my chagrin, there was little to laugh about or enjoy at that time. It seemed as though I was trapped in a cave.  Light filtered through porous rocks in bits and pieces.

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The world was filled with images that I couldn’t understand, explain or embrace.  My eyes strained to focus.  People seemed to be frustrated, angry, and hurt as if I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t focus.  I read of murder, war and uncountable tragedies around the world and even in my own back yard.  People were dissatisfied with politics and economics.  Even social media platforms reflected these bitter tastes in everyone’s mouths.  I felt I would soon fall victim to the same.

The images prevented me from seeing clearly.  Children were starving and dying everywhere.  Women were abandoning their babies. People were killing each other over the most ridiculous things.  I would rub my eyes and wonder what made people act so irrationally and irresponsibly.

My broken heart had trouble healing, not just for my circumstances, but also for the world.  I fought to find healing in a divine power.  I struggled to rise up against the horrible things going on around me.  People I thought I knew, were cruel at times. They perjured themselves with their own perceptions of right or wrong.

It was when I fell into utter despair that it happened.  One day, without notice, I found these glasses.  I put them on.  They were a good fit.  Suddenly, I could see clearly.  Through the horror and devastation, there was light.  In the light, I could focus.  I didn’t have to drown in a world of darkness and foreboding.

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Strangely, there were people who said mean things to me and tried to get me to remove my glasses.  They claimed I wasn’t focused at all.  They thought I was fooling myself. They insisted the world was truly a ghastly place and everyone had to take care of themselves.  They believed evil outweighed goodness. They were convinced I was wearing the wrong glasses.

I felt sad for them.  They were frozen in their beliefs, bitter in their circumstances and spoke out of fear.  I refused to believe what they believed.  I refused to be fooled into thinking the world was a dark, hopeless place, filled with ugliness and terror.  I began to search for brighter things with my new eyes.  I began to find places and people who also wore the same type of glasses.  Eventually, I began to feel better because I had always believed that where there is light, darkness cannot exist. I wanted to be in the light.  I wanted to be the light.  I learned how to see better with corrected vision.  I began to feel hope and confidence in myself again.

I learned some very valuable lessons.

Without hope, there is only despair.  Without confidence, there is only failure.  I began to structure my mind and eyes around positivity.  I found goodness in terrible situations, including my own.  In fact, I began practicing this new mindset with myself first.  It took a few years to find the right focus.  I failed and tried again, but I never took the glasses off.

Over the last year, I encountered daily challenges that dared me to take the glasses off.  I persisted and overcame difficult situations.  I began to see positive changes occurring in my circumstances.  New things began to appear that weren’t there before – mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally.  I knew that I ‘d made the right decision.

It is okay to be practical and realistic.  It is not okay to dwell in darkness.  Charles R. Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”  In a world that seems discordant at times, it is important to find peace and harmony.  It is even more important to pass that peace and harmony on to others, so that they may share in the light.

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My message to you is this: If you should find a pair of rose-colored glasses, try them on.  They may be exactly what you’ve needed all along!  Step out of the darkness and into the light!!

 

Sunday Peaceful Sunday

Hi again!

It’s Sunday and I hope that everyone’s day has been as peaceful as mine. As I am writing this blog, I am sitting outside listening to the sounds around me.  If I close my eyes, I can hear so much more.  I hear the cars buzzing by on the main road, people talking a few doors down on my left, a teenager riding his skateboard on his newly built ramp two doors on the right and a man mowing his lawn across the street

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I’m a bit disappointed, because these are not the sounds of inspiration for me.  The good news is that I am alive on this beautiful Sunday, and I can create my own sounds for inspiration, or listen to some really good music.

I was born and raised in New York City.  The city sounds are quite different from the country sounds. There are car sounds there all the time.  You learn to drown them out.  There weren’t lawnmower sounds where I grew up, so that was a different type of sound.  I associate that sound with the country.  More importantly, the sounds I wanted to hear were absent today.  The sounds of birds chirping or the sound of water gushing over the rocks at a brook or stream are the sounds of inspiration for me. Rivers, lakes, brooks, streams are all places of deep inspiration for me.  Still, overall, it was a peaceful day.

In the absence of water, I had to create my own method of inspiration.  Playing the drums is one of my passionate pastimes. I usually spend my Sunday playing them with my headphones on. Today, I decided to practice one song that my drum instructor is currently teaching me and teach myself a new song. I decided to teach myself “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones.  I just love that beat.  The lyrics – not so much, but I just love the beat to the song.

Rolling Stones, Honky Tonk Women - Export Picture Sleeve, UK, Deleted, 7

I am also learning “Young Lust” by Pink Floyd. I have most of the song down, but I am still learning how to manipulate the high-hat cymbal between the open and closed position.  It sounds really cool when it’s done correctly, almost like suddenly inhaling breath or smoke. It’s called a “sssip” or “splash.”  I guess that’s weird for anyone who doesn’t know what I mean, but I’m sure drummers will understand. It’s a beautiful sound to me, and it is my goal to master it.  The splash is used in “Young Lust” and my instructor, Jonathan, is teaching me how and when to play it.

YoungLust

After I gave some thought to both these songs, I realized the meaning behind both songs are quite similar.  It was merely coincidence, however, that I had chosen to play them today.  I enjoyed every minute of it! I love playing the drums.  I love learning new ways to play the drums, and I love the sound of the drums.  My favorite bands are Pink Floyd and Tool – both tied for the number one position.  I want to learn all their songs. I’m a rock-n-roll kind of girl, so there are plenty of other bands I love to play as well.  “When The Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin is one of the first songs I learned to play.  The beat to that song is also soothing to me. Just for the fun side of things, I recently learned how to play “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.  I heard a live band playing it nearby, and thought, I want to learn how to play that song.  I like that drum beat, so I learned that too!

Well, that was my Sunday.  I hope you had a wonderful day and I will be back tomorrow evening with another blog.

Sleep well!

Meet Ian Probert – Author of Johnny Nothing

Hello everyone!  Today, I’d like you to meet Ian Probert.  This week I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Ian about his latest book and what he plans for the future.  Ian is a published author and journalist.  He is from England, a place that is part of my own history, as I am half English myself.

Thank you for joining me today, Ian.

Ian_Probert_Photo

Me: Where were you born?

Ian: I was born in a small northern town in Lancashire called Burnley. It will make me sound ancient but I really do remember homemade rag carpets, commodes, outside toilets and people washing coal dust off in tin baths. It’s true!

Me: When did you begin writing?

Ian: I wrote a lot as a child, but then we all do. I think the first serious writing I began doing was a diary I began when I was 21. It spanned my entire three years at art college. It’s pretty debauched reading. I’ve never shown it to anybody.

Me: If you could go anywhere in the world to write a book, where would you go and why?

Ian: Well I quite like the idea of an isolated French farmhouse. But it would have to have broadband, and Sky, and Netflix, and home shopping deliveries.

(Nothing like an isolated French farmhouse with all the amenities included!! Love it!)

Me:  Who or what was your first inspiration for your very first story?

Ian: That would have to be Christopher Lee’s Dracula, when I was about eleven. He’s still the best Dracula, especially when they zoom into his eyes when they become bloodshot.

Dracula_Christopher_Lee

(Shudder. I’d still be having nightmares if I’d seen those eyes at eleven.)

Me: Is there a special place that inspires your writing like a lake, the woods, or some other place that stirs your passion?

Ian: I’m not really that sort of person. When I have it in my mind to do something I don’t care where I do it. However, it’s fairly important to me not to have any clutter. I have to work on a table that is completely clean of anything, in a room that is as free of clutter as possible. I don’t know why I need this because most of the time I’m a very messy person.

(Sure wish it worked this way for me.  I’ll need the isolated French farmhouse.  I find it inspirational to know with just the right amount of noise filters, a book can still be written.  My hats off to you, Ian.)

Me: Of all your characters, who do you think reminds you most of yourself?

Ian: Well that would be easy. It’s the main character in Rope Burns (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rope-Burns-Ian-Probert-ebook/dp/B003YXXKWU/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8). The reason for this is because it’s me. It’s a sort of autobiography. The publishers Headline marketed it a sort of boxing equivalent of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. if only it had sold half the copies of that one.

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Me: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

Ian: Yes. For about fifteen years I couldn’t write anything. I’d start something and it would kind of peter out. I didn’t know that I was suffering from undiagnosed hypothyroidism. This is an article I did for the Guardian about it: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/sep/08/underactive-thyroid-was-slowly-killing-me

(On a very serious note, everyone should read this article.  What Ian didn’t know at the time of this interview is that I have two sisters who suffer from thyroid disease.  Ian’s article clearly sheds light on the symptoms of hypothyroidism.  In my family, it was misdiagnosed on multiple levels from anxiety disorder to depression.  This article is very useful for those of you who feel tired all the time, faint at times, and have gained a significant amount of weight for no apparent reason.  Thank you, Ian, for sharing such a personal issue with us.)

Me:  How do you get through this?

Ian: I was finally diagnosed and put on medication. Although, of course, it’s never as simple as that. I’m actually about 80% well and have ditched NHS treatment and started self-medicating. Don’t get me started on this. I could go on about it for ages.

(Again, I commend you for sharing this difficult part of your life with us.)

Me: What advice would you give to other writers who want to publish a book?

Ian: Treat it like a business. Be completely and utterly professional in what you do. Moreover, don’t pester friends and relatives to read your stuff. You cannot force anybody to read anything and they will almost never say what they really think. And if they do you will lose a friend.

(So true. I’ve lost a few friends along the way, as well.)

Me:  Do you have a favorite author who has given you inspiration to write?

Ian: It depends what mood I’m in. I love Brett Easton Ellis and I love Paul Auster. But I’m also more than happy to read trash. As I get older I find merit in almost everything.

Me: How do you plan our your characters?

Ian: I do it by not planning anything at all. All of my characters have to be based on people I’ve met so that when I write dialogue I try to make them speak in the voice of the real person.

Me: How do you choose a character’s name?

Ian: Differently for each book. However, for Johnny Nothing I’ve tried to make their names reflect their personalities. For example, the sneaky journalist is called Terry Pryor.

Me:  What is your favorite line from one of your books?

Ian: Well I don’t know if I do, but people seem to find this line from Johnny Nothing funny: ‘His name was Ben and he was identical to Bill in every way except that the tattoo on his arm read ‘Bin’ (the tattooist was either South African or not a very good speller).’,

Me: What do you do when you’re not writing?

Ian: Lot’s of things. For enjoyment I play clarinet and classical guitar. Other strings to my bow include teaching design software to companies, and designing covers and logos. I also draw and paint a little.

(He’s a very diverse and talented man, folks.)

Me: What is the greatest compliment you’ve ever received for one of your stories?

Ian: Well, I’ve had people write to me and stuff like that. I don’t know. I’ve had a few people contact me and say that my Guardian article about hypothyroidism has saved their lives. One woman told me that she thinks she would be dead if she hadn’t read it.

Me: How did you feel upon publication of your first novel?

Ian: Surprisingly blasé. But in those days I didn’t realise how lucky I was. I’d been extremely fortunate: my first article had been published by a magazine, I got an agent no problem, I got a publisher no problem. At the time it just seemed natural. I was a pillock. Still am.

(Pillock: In the U.S., this word translates to another word that I cannot use here on my blog! But it sure gave me a good laugh after I looked up the meaning.)

Me: How many books have you written?

Ian: I have to count: seven with traditional publishers (two under a pseudonym). Two self-published. Loads and loads still on my hard drive never to see the light of day. Was looking through old work just the other day. There are so many books I’ve written that I’ve never shown to anyone.

Me: What’s next on your publication list?

Ian: I think a sequel to Johnny Nothing. I kind of like the characters and I left the first one open for a sequel.

There you have it.  Ian Probert is a very talented and interesting man.  I certainly look forward to the sequel to Johnny Nothing. If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of Johnny Nothing, here’s how:

Johnny_Nothing_Ian_Probert
To celebrate the paperback launch of Johnny Nothing we are offering a free Kindle copy of the book to the first 100 people who Tweet the following message:

@truth42 I’m reading Johnny Nothing by Ian Probert. http://geni.us/3oR8 #YA #Kindle #kidsbooks

The first ten readers who answer the following question will also receive a signed print of one of the book’s illustrations.

Q: What is the tattoo on Ben’s arm?

Send your answers to truth42@icloud.com

Links

Amazon http://geni.us/3oR8

iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/johnny-nothing/id908777441?mt=11

Book promo http://youtu.be/xaWO4tR4oj0?list=UUzLRcpNMLRKKtJhes1s1C7w

WordPress http://ianprobertbooks.wordpress.com

Website http://ianprobert.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/716683635030173/

Twitter @truth42