Articles, Blog

Omnipresent Ghosts: Even Your House Is Haunted

ghosts and hauntings
Ghosts and hauntings are like climate change. The facts that indicate its existence are omnipresent, and denying them won’t make it go away.

When it comes to subjects we don’t understand, humans are a cowardly species. We rather deny the existence of elephants entirely than acknowledge the one in the room with us.

So it is with ghosts. Even so, chances are that while you read this, one is reading over your shoulder.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Hauntings are more common than you think. Once you learn how to recognise their presence, ghosts are every bit as apparent as elephants.

Articles, Blog

The Monsters You Never Recognise

Dark Monsters - Frenchy25 via Flickr

Picture yourself in a dark alley. There, in the shadows, the glint of bloody jaws. Something moves, its disfigured limbs crawling too fast to be natural. What is that?  You freeze, back up. Then, nothing. Did you imagine it? You listen, you watch, until you see something in the corner of your eye and—!

What makes monster stories so appealing? And why are we so inapt to recognise those very monsters in real life?  

Articles, Blog

Taming Dragons: Resistance

Our dragons lurk in the darkest parts of our mind, heart and soul. They go by many names, take on many different forms. But while they may be fearsome and dangerous, they needn’t be our enemies. Today’s dragon is called: Resistance.

dragon of resistance
Photo: Comodo Dragon by Joel Sartore (via National Geographic)

Small But Annoying

Recently I have been working on taming one of my smaller but incredibly annoying dragons. Every time I want to – or need to – do something, it will nag at me not to. With Resistance on my shoulder, getting through the day is like running a marathon with a ball and chain. I might have a chance of reaching my goal, but I will be exhausted well before the halfway marker.

I have no love for athletics – more on that later – but nevertheless, for years this was what every one of my days looked like. Not only did I get nothing done anymore, but every time I did accomplish something, it had cost so much energy that the gain was barely worth the effort.

Eight therapists had failed to help me tame my flock of dragons, and even this one kept slipping through the maze. Until one day, not too long ago, I noticed my son copying his mum’s behaviour…

Clearly, a change was in order. Conventional therapy was out the window, but the ideas posed by coaches James Clear and Benjamin Hardy resonated. Working from their principles, my son and I wrestled our Dragons of Resistance into submission.

We ended up needing only these two simple techniques.

Articles, Blog

Plot Pruning

pruning firethorn pyracantha

Last week’s winter storm dealt a lethal blow to our 25-year-old pyracantha. The gale caught and broke off its stems a few inches above the ground. Thus a wall of spikey scrubs landed on the street, narrowly missing several parked cars and ditto insurance claims.

You can’t leave that lying around, so my husband dragged two cubic metre of aggressive plant out of the way. He cursed the air blue, but prevailed. Now this wooden carcass sits in our backyard, entertaining the local birds while awaiting dismantling. And I do mean dismantling: with its two-inch thorns as thick as nails, handling a pyracantha (or ‘firethorn’) feels like a scene straight from Saw II.

The comparison with editing a first draft is so striking, it’s not even funny.

Articles, Blog

Reading: Experience By Proxy

reading experience by proxy

From the instant a toddler recognizes its first letter, we bombard the poor child – and its parents – with the importance of reading. Yet for every child that takes to reading readily and early, there is one that can’t sit still during a bedtime story and rather plays with toys instead of staring at squiggly symbols in a row.

Once these kids grow an appetite to venture into the world of comics, they are told to put down that ‘trash’ and read ‘proper books’. To drive that point home, their school system will force them for years to read classic literature far beyond their interest and comprehension.

Which is a terrible shame. Not on those youngsters, but for them. Because if their repulsion of reading persists, they miss out on far more than a handful of books.