Thursday, 13 October 2011

Are You Saying It Enough?

There are many things most of us probably don’t say enough. I love you. Thank you. I miss you. The one I want to talk about is gratitude.

It’s nice to know you’re appreciated. And it feels pretty good to tell someone else you appreciate them. Wait - maybe I just think that because I do so much of it while I’m inebriated? On the other hand, that in itself says something about how and when we tell people they are important to us.

It’s true our friends and family probably know we appreciate them, but how long can that probably hold up in the face of no thanks? Treat your friends and families like flowers and water them as often as they need. Too long without water and the friendship might suffer as bad as that rose bush. Thanking people is one of the ways we reinforce to people that we do care. If someone goes out of their way to show gratitude, you know they’re probably not just here for what you can give them. In a way, genuine gratitude is saying ‘I’d do it for you, too.’

It can be nice to thank people with gifts, although this can get expensive, especially if you have a lot of people to thank! Sometimes, though, it’s enough just to say it. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank some of the people in my life, both online and offline. Here’s a few of the reasons why I’m thankful to them.

My husband, Matt

The reasons I am thankful to you are many, but recently I had a competition deadline to meet for my manuscript. You were nice enough to give me the time to get it finished, including taking our daughter out to give me peace and quiet to focus. You also turned a blind eye to the pile of dirty dishes I left in the sink owing to a lack of time to clean them because – you guessed it – I was working on my manuscript. I noticed when I came home today that you’d washed them for me.


You’re my oldest friend. We have now known each other for 87% of our lives! You totally know I went and calculated that just for this – and you’re not surprised. You get me (and I guess that works both ways). Even after months of not seeing each other, we can pick up exactly where we left off without any awkwardness. Recently I was reminded how important it is to hold on to a friendship like that.


I’m not sure how to explain this one. You’re me! With bigger cowboy boots and more attitude. We read the same books, listen to the same music, and suffer through our lack of gallbladders together – well, OK, we suffer 20 minutes apart, but close enough. If you’re like me, and I’m like @safireblade, we might be triplets! This actually is a friendship where we don’t get all gushy about how we feel, because that would be… weird. But you know you’re important to me. And in case you don’t, I’m telling you (but you do, I know you do).


Oh so complicated… You married my cousin and then we didn’t talk for years. Pride is a sin I admit to being guilty of. Thanks for being proud of me for being brave enough to take the first step to reconciliation (even if, once again, I was inebriated). Thanks for being a shoulder to cry on. Thanks for going places with me (even if it did mean a 1 hour stay in a lift). Thanks for taking emergency phone calls at strange hours. Just… thanks. Sometimes you don’t appreciate someone until they’re gone. I’m lucky it wasn’t gone for good. 


How long are you going to stay in Ireland?? Come home already. Emergency lunch with you ‘same time, same place’ got me through some of my worst divorce days. I miss you.


You are possibly the most under-appreciated of my friends and I apologise for that. We don’t always see eye to eye, but I know you’ve got my back. Sometimes you’ve gotten the dirtier chores in my life, like helping set up for parties, staying after parties to clean up (wait, you take the leftovers too!) and taking me out for a much-needed drink at bizarre hours without much notice. But I know you’re there for me and I hope you know it’s reciprocal. Thank you.


The newest addition to my friends. It’s rare for me to meet someone new that I get along with, but you fit the bill! I think you already know my deepest, darkest secrets. I know I can count on you.

The #Stabbylove gang

You know who you are. All I need to say is ‘synopsis’. You know what I mean. Special thanks to @Flickimp for sharing an example of a good synopsis and @sirra_girl for patiently helping me through multiple drafts from sucknopsis to something vaguely resembling a synopsis. Oh, and for giving me a very calm talking to when I started to panic and being my stabby twin. It’s nice to know there are other people who think like me.

Thanks for giving me the verbal equivalent of a slap across the face (or possibly a double shot of vodka) when I started going into meltdown about writing a synopsis. Thanks also for sharing your example, it really helped me to get my brain in gear and see where I was going.

There’s a reasonable chance you already know this, but I was tickled pink by your post Dam Dragon. Every writer hopes that they touch the reader or have some effect or influence. You gave me a real high! Oh yeah, and you help me keep my sanity.

You gave me a rare insight to myself on your blog. It’s always a strange experience to see yourself through someone else’s eyes, but in this case it was strangely good. I always just think of myself as ‘plain old me’. I’m not remarkable, I just do what has to be done. So it was a bit of a buzz to see that from a different perspective. I was flattered and deeply honoured by your comments.

For CIA stuff.  I could tell everyone, but then we’d have to kill them. Oh, and for possibly being my long lost twin. Or am I up to triplets now? Uh, quads? I’m losing track. Anyway, we relate, and I love that. Right down to fantasy books and the country music. Wanna go to Nashville? We can take Kylie. Nicole might want to come too.

After reading all of this, you possibly think I am a hopeless drunk. Really, I’m not. I drink rarely, and get drunk less, but I’m just a sappy drunk so I cram in lots of emotional stuff when I do. 

Anyway, think about it. Are you saying it enough?

Saturday, 1 October 2011


This is a joint blog by four writers who have all contributed their views on freedom. You can find this post here and on the other writers’ blogs. The contributors are myself, Ashley Elizabeth, Imran Siddiq and Mark Brassington.

Ciara Ballintyne

Freedom. What is it? Like many idealistic concepts it’s hard to pin down.

When I looked up freedom I got these definitions:

1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial.

2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.

3. the power to determine action without restraint.

4. political or national independence.

5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.

You’ll notice there is a lot of talk about freedom from external control, regulation or interference, or lack of restraint. We certainly don’t have that kind of freedom in Australia or many other countries. Every time our government legislates to restrict guns, or ban smoking, we are subject to interference or regulation.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as the power to determine action without restraint. Some people restrain themselves by their own consciences. The rest will take what they want by force if something else (the law or a stronger person) does not restrain them. Action without restraint is nothing but the rule of strength. The law of the jungle. That’s not freedom at all, in my opinion.

My conscience restrains me. I’m happy for the law to restrain the people who don’t have one. And I regret there are places in the world that are not lucky enough to have the freedom we do.

About Ciara Ballintyne:

Opinionated lawyer and writer of high fantasy. Born not made argumentative. Caution: contents explosive in the presence of idiocy. You can find more about me at or follow me on Twitter @CiaraBallintyne

Freedom is a pretty open topic. I mean, it's well open to interpretation. Freedom is defined as being free of confinement, regulation, or restraint. I, however, think most people interpret this wrong. It seems when freedom is brought up, people talk about what they are freed from; people spend more time listing what they are tied to.

(It is imperative that I note that this viewpoint of freedom stands from a fairly liberated and democratic point of view.)

Someone may say that responsibilities act as the hindrance to freedom. Some people may fault responsibilities such as bills, debt, family, or significant others. But in reality, those are all choices. The responsibilities we have are ones we choose to live with. For example, I choose to have a computer, and therefore, I choose to pay for the electricity to power it.

I say I have true freedom because I suffer from no constraint, regulation, or confinement. Sure, there are things in my life (such as bills) that I have to bend to. But, I choose to. Freedom lies more in the mind. It is most likely why people feel they lack the freedom.

It is with purpose that I stand behind my decisions. I do not accept the "norms". In fact, I have a tendency to challenge them. I have stopped thinking about what I'm supposed to do, and I make choices that I am happy to stand behind.

Make a choice, stand behind it, and be present in your situation.

Make the choice that you are going to be truly happy with. The choice that is solid to your core, moral beliefs, and your willingness to follow through. Then, instead of trying to pick it apart and looking for the strings that hold you back, look at the shackles you shed by making that choice.

Freedom is as intangible as your state of mind. It is a mental cage or a mental playground. It is a choice.

About Ashley Elizabeth:

I am a writer. I read, I write, and I edit. I also have a tendency to be an optimistic cynic. Follow me on Twitter @AEWrites ... it’s the best place to distract me and interact with me. For ravings and rants:

Imran Siddiq

Freedom deserves as many interpretations as the word itself implies. My take is a rather solemn one of caution. Most will state that they have the freedom to do whatever they wish to do, and that the hindrance against such would be a travesty against mankind. I agree to an extent, but then that does mean on what are they expressing that freedom to.

I happily use my freedom to purchase, listen, read, eat, and drink as I wish. The ‘halt’ comes if I intended to use that freedom to harm, scold, tease, or damage something/someone. Just because I own a hammer, it does not mean I can smash a wall. No - that is where the privilege part of freedom kicks in. I have the freedom to own a hammer, but I do not have the privilege to destroy.

Freedom also comes with social barriers that can decrease the level you can apply. If someone heckles me in a conversation, I have the freedom to feel anger, pain, suffering, the dark side, but my social role might strangle my freedom to shout back. That is I being cautious. If I utilised my freedom, I could start an argument which would end up with someone being hurt. And as stated above, I do not want to use my freedom to hurt.

So, I will sing and dance that freedom makes us unique to be someone/something without become a dystopian drone, but we have to curb that freedom when a situation requires sensibility and morale to prevail.

About Imran Siddiq:

Not yet published, but I have a museum of tales I hope to extract and tell. Details of my progression can be found on, and you can follow me on Twitter: @Flickimp

Mark Brassington

“I'm free to be whatever I, Whatever I choose, And I'll sing the blues if I want, I'm free to say whatever I, Whatever I like, If it's wrong or right it's alright” – Oasis, Whatever.

Lyrics by Noel Gallagher and Neil Innes which sum my thoughts on Freedom.

It is my belief that God gave us all freewill and therefore the ability to make our own choices and as I grew up I learnt the difference between making the right or wrong decision.

There have been plenty of times in my life that I have not felt free of a situation and completely trapped; being bullied at school, being in a job I hated and under extreme pressure from the role itself and my then boss, even in previous relationships and of course bills and as much as anyone of these things has brought me down and made me feel trapped I have pushed through them and come to move past them and accept them.

Probably the hardest thing for me from the age of about twelve onwards way for me to feel free to be myself, this ties in with me being bullied from around that time from at least another five(ish) years. You learn to not speak for fear of your own words being used against you, so that other do not learn who you are and what you like as this will become that latest in their line of ammunition during school life.

Eventually I left school but only to keep those same walls and as much as I became more confident as time went on the walls of trust still stayed up and I would say that only in the three or four years have I become free to be myself and tell people about me – “I read comics” “I am aspiring author” “I like sci-fi” – these were big things to admit but now I freely tell people and I would say that tough life lesson only gave me thicker skin.

So whatever makes you hold yourself back try to push these things aside as they are what makes you, you. Be free to be yourself.

About Mark Brassington:

In my day job I work in Commercial Banking but I am unpublished aspiring author with hopes to one day tell my tales of fantasy and sci-fi. I blog about my progress and other things at

You can follow me on twitter: @markbrassington
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