Sunday, 26 December 2010

2010 in Reverse

By the end of every year, I like writing a note to reflect on a year coming to an end and the birth of a new, hopefully better one. This year was just weird... very weird on several levels. I said that about 2009, but 2010 has done much better in that field.

Here are 40 things I've learned from 2010:
  1. Waiting can be either futile or very rewarding; it depends on what you're doing exactly while you're waiting.
  2. It's through the hard times that the true colors of people show.
  3. Some people are very messed-up within... no matter how they pretend otherwise.
  4. Don't expect much from others; only expect from God and then yourself.
  5. If you don't want something or someone with all your heart, then don't bother.
  6. If you need to get away from people, travel... and if there's no one to go with you, travel alone and have fun!
  7. When you're up, your friends get to know who you are; when you're down, you get to know who your friends are.
  8. People don't really change; unless they very much want to and do it themselves, but you can't change anyone.
  9. Some things are just not meant to happen no matter how hard you try or how badly you want them.
  10. And sometimes there are no explanations for that.
  11. Listen to your intuition and trust your instincts more often.
  12. Don't settle for less; the moment you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.
  13. Contentment or gratitude is one of the best gifts in life.
  14. Soulmates and true love do exist whether you believe they do or not.
  15. Stay away from people who drain your energy and time in vain.
  16. You're and always have been good enough; don't make anyone tell you otherwise.
  17. If they do, see #15.
  18. You can choose to be either average or exceptional; it's your choice, really.
  19. Don't make the same mistake twice. If you do, then don't make it three times.
  20. Smile. A lot.
  21. Don't believe everything you're told.
  22. Actions speak much louder than words.
  23. When somebody tells you they know and want what's best for you, this usually means they want you to do what they say without arguments.
  24. Blaming others for your problems will never solve anything; take responsibility and act accordingly.
  25. Read; dance; and sing a lot.
  26. Depend more on yourself and less on other people.
  27. Learn to enjoy activities by yourself.
  28. Don't use mobile phones often.
  29. Forgiveness does you more well than the person you're forgiving.
  30. Learn to let go of people/possessions/circumstances that are causing you harm.
  31. Show more appreciation and love to those you love and care about.
  32. If you're married or in a relationship, be more romantic and attentive to your husband/partner.
  33. If you're single, be more attentive and loving to yourself.
  34. Write a love letter to your husband every now and then.
  35. If you're single, pretend you're with the love of your life and write a letter from him/her to you.
  36. You can be your own hero or heroine.
  37. Don't regret making mistakes; mistakes come from more experiences and those make us more mature.
  38. Count your blessings; and be grateful for them.
  39. Solitude is your own retreat from a hectic world.
  40. Keep smiling. =)

If I could sum up 2010 in one word, I'd say creepy... or freaky.

Please feel free to comment and share your own experiences and memories of 2010.

Happy life-changing, amazing 2011!

© Marwa Ayad

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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Are You a Love Addict?


I recommend you read my other post The Chemistry of Love first if you haven't already done so to learn more about the psychology of falling in and out of love.

Let's start with some questions; and please be honest:
  • Are you too needy when it comes to relationships?
  • Do you fall in love too easily or too quickly?
  • Do you lower your standards or settle for less than you deserve/want for the sake of "companionship"?
  • Have you been involved with people who could not commit and you were convinced you would make them change?
  • When you're attracted to someone, do you ignore all the warning signs that he/she isn't good for you?
  • Initial attraction is more important to you than anything else when it comes to falling in love and choosing a partner?
  • You thought/think if someone loved you that "special way" you would be eternally happy?
  • Romantic movies and songs solely define love for you?
  • You take more than your share of responsibility for the survival of a relationship?
  • In some of your relationships, you were the only one in love?
  • You feel terribly lonely and depressed if you're not in love or a relationship?
  • You can't stand being alone and don't enjoy your own company?
  • You're scared of not finding someone to love or marry?
  • Your mind has almost always been occupied with romantic fantasies?
  • You fantasize about love or marriage almost the entire time, thinking of someone you used to love or the "perfect partner" who is going to walk into your life one day and make it amazing?
  • You were part of a love triangle before... and you didn't walk away?
  • You could pursue someone you're in love with even if he/she is with someone else?
  • You have no control over yourself when you're in love?
  • When you're in love, you're too jealous and/or possessive?
  • You don't mind chasing after someone who has clearly rejected you and desperately try to change their minds?
  • You have stayed with an abusive person or in an abusive relationship longer than you should?
  • You have a very high tolerance for suffering in relationships; you are willing to suffer neglect, depression, loneliness, dishonesty—even abuse—to avoid the pain of separation?
  • You try very hard to be WHO your partner wants you to be, doing anything to please him/her (even sacrifice your own needs or values)?
  • You can't say "no" to your partner if he/she threatens to leave you?
  • You feel "incomplete" if you're not in a relationship?
  • You have been with the "wrong person" before to avoid being lonely?
  • You have idolized a love interest and then blamed that person for not living up to your expectations?

If you have answered "yes" to several questions, then you're possibly a Love Addict. And if you can recognize several of these things in your partner or someone you know, then he/she is a love addict.

A Love Addict is addicted to the "high" of being in love. Love addiction is much like any other addiction; it is focused on love as the solution to inner pain, loneliness and emptiness; and the relationship or the need for love/romance is all consuming. You may think it's a better type of addiction; but it's very dangerous and painful to both the person and their partner(s). The dire consequences of love addiction include: job loss, depression and self-destructive behaviours.

What has made matters worse is the fact that the media has glorified love-addicted relationships as great love stories and love addicts as the greatest lovers. And sadly many societies are love and relationship addicted. Pressure to be in a relationship or get married; isn't that love addiction by definition? Since a very young age, how many of us (women) have been told that marriage is the ultimate award or "destination"? How many single women are looked down upon (no matter what their personal and academic achievements or personalities are) because they're not married yet? How many women are blamed on a daily basis for the breakdown of a marriage or relationship because she could not keep her husband/partner... and if only she had been more patient/loving/caring/whatever? How many are blamed for being single and that they should "lower" their standards to be in relationships or get married?

There are many examples. We need to become aware of our own cultural patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour that keep us addicted to love and/or relationships.

The are several types of Love Addicts; the two more common types are:
  • Narcissistic Love Addicts
They had a tough childhood where there was no or little attention/love given to them (causing inner rage and pain that often surface). They are rather detached from parents and family. Thus later in life they seek acceptance and safety which they did not get as children. The strange thing is narcissistic love addicts are charmers most of the time even though they usually suffer from depression and feel worthless without a partner or relationship. They need love or sex to relieve their hidden pain. They line up the next relationship before leaving their current one. This is also one of the reasons they're usually part of love triangles (they subconsciously seek drama). They keep looking for that "magical" feeling... that "magical" someone who will heal all their wounds and take care of them. Most of the time they're attracted to "very hot" people as they seek partners for validation. Fantasy is triggered and the he/she feels high. "It's karma, destiny, fate... we're soul mates" before they even get to know their (future) partner well.

Their greatest fear is abandonment or rejection; they can't trust their partners and are emotionally and/or sexually unavailable sooner or later in the relationship. They can't commit or communicate. They're also very manipulative. They become cold, unloving, distant, selfish. They are easily excessively addicted to anything else outside the relationship (drugs, games, sex, alcohol, hobbies, someone else, shopping, etc.). They believe intense attraction and sex are basic human needs. They also confuse sexual attraction or lust with love. Almost always they get attached to people they hardly know. They tend to idealize and obsess about their partner at first. When they enter a relationship it's like being in a fantasy and they get high. Later they blame their partner for not living up to their unrealistic expectations. They want to be cared for and treasured by another and are always disappointed, because no one can satisfy their insatiable desires. They will go to great lengths to get partners to fulfil the big fantasy they have been holding in their minds for so long.

They are very angry and frustrated when their fantasy isn't matched. They are driven to find someone to tell them they are lovable and loved, to find someone who will rescue them from their own inability to care for themselves; rescue them from their loneliness, emptiness, lack of self-love, inability to feel safe in the world without someone to protect them. They look for a relationship to make them feel whole. It's a never-ending cycle.
  • Codependent Love Addicts
They suffer from self-esteem issues and insecurities. They willingly stay in a relationship long after its "expiration date" as I call it. It's very hard for them to let go. Their role in the relationship is that of the rescuer, saver, caregiver, etc. They very gladly accept/put up with emotional/physical abuse and neglect no matter how unbearable it is, all in the hope of their partner not leaving or loving them back one day. They love, protect and are generous to their partners excessively and unreasonably... which is considered by many - if not most of us - the most wonderful type of lover. They're rather silent martyrs and may seek sympathy from others... or encouragement. But the relationship only gets more toxic. And they're often defensive of themselves and/or their partner's behaviours. "Well, he only yelled and slammed the door but didn't hit me"; or, "he/She only slapped me. I don't have any bruises"; or "well, I really made him/her angry. I'm stupid and this is why he/she reacts like that." Remember, if it doesn't feel right, it's wrong.

They can become very unhappy within a relationship and it can affect them mentally, emotionally and psychologically. But they still cannot let go. Their problem is they find it difficult to love or take care of themselves (low self-esteem). They are unable to protect themselves with healthy boundaries. Again Codependent Love Addicts probably faced some sort of abandonment or loss as children which resulted in them feeling worthless and created that sense of exaggerated longing. Their lack of nurturing was/is fuelled by fantasies of being rescued or being the rescuer themselves.

*

Sadly, most love addicts refuse to acknowledge there's a problem at all with them. My advice to you is to not get involved with a love addict because it may devastate you in the end. Seek healthy relationships and people.

If you suspect you're a love addict yourself, then you need to address those serious issues from your childhood and past. STOP being obsessed with finding your prince or princess who will be the one to solve all your problems and give your life meaning. This desperate need of trying to find that person or regain a lost love can create much chaos and threaten life itself when chronic grief turns into suicidal thoughts. Be aware of love addiction support through the ideal of love in movies and songs. Love addicts are very self-delusional; all addictions have an element of denial but in case of love addiction it is more severe. Love addicts often don't see the connection between their pain and suffering and the illusionary love they seek.

The first step would be to recognize love addiction as such and then take the necessary steps to fulfill all those needs that have been delegated to The One. Find out what you can do to be good to yourself; learn to love yourself and to appreciate the good things in your life. Another important step is to accept that you may be single for a long time... and that's okay.

Develop a wide variety of interests and activities and make new friends. With all this, the emptiness and longing will go away. This will also increase your chances of finding a compatible partner. There's always hope if you really want to change and lead a happy, drama-free life. If you need more help, then seek that of a psychiatrist and try to read more about recovering from such an addiction.

With that said, deep down we all seek love. There's nothing wrong with wanting love or being romantic at heart. Being in love with the right person is a wonderful feeling and experience. There's also nothing wrong with grieving or mourning the breakdown of a relationship (but not becoming severely obsessed with the other person, too desperate to get them back no matter what and/or having suicidal thoughts). Letting go should not make you feel guilty or weak; strong people are those capable of properly letting go.

There's a huge difference between wanting love and a compulsive, chronic craving or pursuit of love in an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person.

Please answer this one-question poll, too:
http://www.learnmyself.com/poll53945x61394592

Almost all the questions were retrieved from loveaddicts.org

Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

© Marwa Ayad


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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Happiness or Contentment?

I was talking to a friend of mine days ago. The conversation took an unexpected turn when we started talking about happiness and contentment. Both our definitions were different.

She thought happiness was far better than contentment. "Contentment is simply settling for less," she said.

"How so?"

"Well, you decide that you're fine with what you have and it makes you kind of happy. That's being content."

"And happiness?" I asked.

"Happiness is getting what you want or more...the right career, the adorable husband, the amazing house, etc. Happiness is pleasure. Why settle for semi-happiness?"

"How can these things or people make you happy? You're not happy right now with them, but rather about what these things or people will do to you in the future. The perfect job is probably more money and now you can do more and buy more things with the extra money. The adorable husband will take care of you and some of your dreams or life goals can now be realized. Soon enough there will be other milestones and destinations. Happiness is about the future, not the present.

"Acquiring things or people for that matter won't make you happy...forever. Of course, you'll be excited and thrilled at first. This is after all what you've been dreaming of for so long. But the human mind can sometimes be strange to understand. We keep looking for happiness outside. Are people with more money happy forever? People with better health? People with amazing lovers, sexy bodies or brilliant careers? Because we tend to want everything. Once a slot is filled, we quickly look to fill the next empty one and so on. So you have to be happy within. Actually content is the right word in this case. Being content is being grateful for what God Has given you...for what you have right now, not thinking about what it/they will bring you tomorrow. For instance, you may not be 100% happy with your job. You actually may be stressed, overworked and it may not be the right career for you. You can choose to look at it this way. Or you can still have your goal on your mental radar and be content with what you have now. After all, hundreds of thousands of people don't have jobs; and you do."

"So, you're saying that if someone who seems fine proposes to me, I should accept and be content with him as a husband?"

"Nope, I didn't say that. Let me ask you a question. If you meet a wonderful guy and you fall in love with him, how happy will you be to marry him? Now how long do you think this happiness will last? After some time, you'll get used to him, his love and his company. Passion may start to fade away and things aren't as exciting as they once were. That's life, after all. Would you go look for another someone to make you happy and excite you again? Or would you be content with him and your marriage and allow happiness to creep up on you every once in a while? Is that settling for less? Not at all. That's contentment which can last a lifetime. It's in your hands to see less as more. And you'll start seeing more as much more which will make you much happier. When you're content, you can find happiness and goodness in almost anything! Your reward is that the happy times will stretch for you and the bad times will shorten in length," I said.

To me being content is being grateful. Life has taught me that when you're grateful for the "little" things, it gives you more to be grateful for and there's less to stress about. That's being content. Now the amazing thing is if you're not naturally content, it may take you some time to learn it. The instant you realize you're settling for less, contentment flees outside the door. That's the secret. Some people keep looking for happiness outside of them. They spend their lives doing so, making more and more money, or moving from one relationship to the next because they're not "happy yet" or "not happy anymore". Happiness can become the definition of what we do not have rather than what we already do. And such people, sarcastically, are never happy no matter what or who they keep getting. Because that ideal happiness keeps getting harder and harder to find. Their desire/need for happiness will never be fulfilled this way. They will always seek or want more.

A content person is peaceful and accepts with gratitude what life gives him. They accept themselves and others, talents and flaws. Being content is a choice. "Ideal" happiness is temporary (acquired by external circumstances/possessions/people); and when we lose it, we become insecure, fearful, depressed, sad, angry, etc. until there's something else to be happy about.

Just like I believe that part of love is choice and decision. You decide to put energy into something.

You can also help yourself become more content. Avoid negative people and "sad" or depressing music, TV or movies. And unless you start looking inside of you for happiness, you'll keep seeking it outside...and you will spend your life doing so in vain.

"Riches are not from an abundance of wordly goods, but from a contented mind."- Prophet Muhammad

Let me hear your thoughts.

© Marwa Ayad

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Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Chemistry of Love: How Relationships and Breakups Happen

Well, you should know there are three basic stages of Love:
  • Infatuation
  • Attraction
  • Attachment
Infatuation or lust is the initial passionate, sexual desire. In the first stage, sex hormones as testosterone and estrogen are released in greater amounts.

Then you quickly move to the “falling in love” or “crazy about you” phase where you start obsessing about that person. Many chemicals are released: PEA (phenyl ethyl amine), dopamine (which is also activated by cocaine) and nor-epinephrine (which stimulates adrenaline production). These chemicals combined give us that feeling of infatuation. It is why new lovers feel euphoric and energized, floating on air. It is also why new lovers are rather inseparable and can talk all night for weeks on end. The effects of this stage last from several weeks to several months, depending on the person and circumstances.

However, the interesting thing is when we have great chemistry with someone, it's hardly flattering! According to Dr. Harville Hendrix our brain dumps PEA when we identify someone who can finish our childhood business; that is when our brain recognizes the original child-parent relationship!

Later in this highly-charged stage, serotonin and endorphins are released as well. Serotonin is a natural anti-depressant; endorphins give the feeling of morphine-like calmness and they promote feelings of intimacy, comfort and warmth. They don’t give those “hyper” feelings experienced before; however, they can be more addictive. The absence of endorphins is responsible for making you miss or yearn for your loved one when apart. This stage lasts from several months to a few years.

By the way, endorphins are also released after a good workout or eating good-quality chocolate; remember that!

When infatuation and attraction subside and things seem to be cooling off, it’s the last stage which many don’t reach (and when breakups often happen). This is the "unconditional acceptance", lucky attachment phase. This involves commitment and is responsible for long-term relationships. Here you are aware of both the positive and negative traits of your partner AND you've decided you want to build a life together.

In this stage, higher levels of the chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin are produced to a greater degree than in short-term relationships; both promote bonding and devotion to your partner. They are both released when we’re physically intimate—while holding hands, kissing, cuddling, or having sex. Oxytocin makes people calmer and more sensitive to others’ feelings. Oxytocin is also linked to milk production in women.

Only the “attachment phase” of love is physiologically sustainable and can thus endure. This incidentally is real love; the earlier stages are a part of love, too, but as amazing as they can be, they’re always and must be transitory and short-lived. They can’t last, but a deeper sense of love and commitment is achieved instead which is, after all, what we are eventually seeking.

Which reminds me: Don't take it too personally when someone breaks up with you or tells you they're no longer in love with you. I know this is so hard to grasp at first. But the truth of the matter is most of the time it's not about you. They've run out of their "love cocktail". They weren't in love with you to begin with; they were in love with being "high”; sadly not you.

Accordingly, some people become "love addicts" or "junkies" based on these facts. They badly need this chemical "excitement" to be intoxicated by life (which happens in the earlier stage of love). Once this initial rush of chemicals wanes (inevitable after several months to several years, depending on the individual and the circumstances), the relationship crumbles. They're soon off again, seeking a "quick fix" to their forlorn feelings and "shattered dreams": another chemical high from infatuation.

These love junkies also have one other problem. The body builds up tolerance to these chemicals. Then it takes more and more chemistry to bring that “special” feeling of love which they crave.

Many adults go through life in a series of three-month to three-year relationships. If these love junkies stay married, they are likely to seek affairs to fuel their chemical highs.

One of the best things I've ever learned is knowing if someone is/will be happy in their marriage, or marriage-to-be. The answer is very simple. It’s actually a question:

How happy were/are they before getting married?

There's your answer.

Remember in the first stages of love, we project expectations and ideals on our partner. Both parties are also on their best behavior. The chemicals produced in the early stages do that to you. They "suspend observation and distort perception" which is why after some time some people think they have fallen out of love because their beloved no longer meets their ‘fantasy standards’. Now you know why.
Whoever abandons the other first in a relationship breaks free from the "spell of love" first.

Surprisingly enough, there have been suggestions that the levels of dopamine and serotonin drop off first in the originally less happy partner who wasn't at peace with themselves from the start. The one with more self-doubts and less self-acceptance breaks free from the biochemical spell often fast, too.

The closer to the attachment phase you are, the more difficult a breakup is on you and the greater the withdrawal symptoms are (from all the chemicals you’re now being denied being apart from the one you love)—similar to the withdrawal symptoms of a narcotic! The deeper in love you are with someone, the more painful abandonment or betrayal of that person feels.

My advice to you: Even though we have no control over who we fall in love with, we can control who we get in a relationship with. Choose someone happy about who they are and at peace with themselves. AVOID like the plague anyone who tells you they've been waiting for you to save/fix/help them or make them happy. Observe that person: what they have achieved in their life so far, their parents’ relationship with each other, how that person treats others, the kind of relationships he/she has been in and HOW and WHY things ended (you could observe a pattern). See if they jump from relationship to relationship because "they're addicted to love" and being in relationships.

Just remember a relationship can never remain in the “infatuation” or “attraction” stage indefinitely; it’s not really a sign you’re in the wrong relationship.

Apart from chemistry, love is still a mystery to many of us and I enjoy writing about it in my novels. Here’s something (non-chemical) I’ve written before about love:

Love hurts. A lot. It's unexplained. It's unexpected. It's very clear. It's strange. It's mysterious. It’s cruel. It's kind. It's sweet. It's bitter. It's sadness. It's pure joy. It's torture. It's relief. It's nothing. It's everything.

Exactly. No one can figure out love.

I can tell you one thing though: Everyone's version of love is different. Some have dwelled on the bright side; others on the very dark side. So don't let others' stories affect you.

My side of the story is that love is cruelly kind, vaguely clear, sweetly bitter and sadly joyful.

Real love is different. Real love is about two people letting go of their selfishness selflessly for love. Real love is about hanging on, and still knowing your someone is on the other side holding the other side of the rope, even if only ever so lightly. Real love is about understanding, commitment, intuition, communication, patience, and faith... a lot of faith. Real love is strengthened with time, not otherwise.

Most importantly remember to fall in love with yourself first; only then others will follow.

*Like my post? Then please share!*

© Marwa Ayad

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Friday, 18 June 2010

"Lost" Thoughts on "Lost Finale"


**Spoilers ahead if you haven't watched the Lost finale yet*


So, "Lost" ended; and life is still going on. Seriously, as a huge LOST fan, I was disappointed in the Lost finale. The finale that was supposed to answer questions and mysteries that have lasted for years, not create more of them. The finale that was supposed to make much sense, not more non-sense. The finale that was supposed to leave me breathless, wanting for more with "Ahhh's" and "Oh, I see's!" at least every once in a while.

What happened is that I was let down. and I got the feeling that the writers were in a rush to cook things up on the island...and also explain the alternate-life theory which has so engaged me for a whole season...even more than what was going on in the island. Because their alternate lives were supposed to make sense and would have given all viewers a satisfying and hopeful ending at least...rather to find out it's their post-death (or life) meeting place where they're all supposed to gather in Purgatory and be greeted by Christian Shephard and his again-empty coffin. It doesn't explain the kills, chases, bruises that Jack kept finding on his body. I was so absorbed in their alternate realities...to find out they're dead!

Nice.

Now that I think of it, it seems like the worst episode of the entire series!

There could have been a more believable explanation for the characters' alternate realities. Why not go with the idea that detonating the hydrogen bomb did in fact create another time thread or alternate reality as they had us believe in the opening of Season 6? And why would Miles hear Juliet say "It worked"while standing near her grave...and now we know it didn't?

Would have made much more sense that way and would have been more intriguing!

With that said: Lost will be dearly missed. I don't think any TV show will ever come close to Lost even with all its plot "holes". No more Jack, Desmund or Sawyer. Life can be hard.

Oh Lost!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

My Favorite Things

I've been wanting to write about this for quite some time.

I call the list below a list of my favourite things; things that help cheer me up... even make me happy
, especially if I start to feel down which are also known as drugs of choice (in random order):

  • Love
  • A sunny, warm day
  • A perfect cup of coffee
  • A gentle cool summer breeze on a very hot day
  • Conversations with my 2.5-year-old nephew
  • My baby niece grinning at me
  • Reading a good book
  • Writing for hours
  • Sleeping in
  • A cool, crisp Autumn evening
  • Inspirational, touching music
  • "Everything" by Michael Buble (one of my all-time favourite songs)
  • Upbeat music/songs
  • Watching Frasier and laughing (my all-time favourite sitcom)
  • Charmed (my all-time favourite TV show)
  • Playing a good game that sucks you in for a while
  • A surprise gift for no reason at all
  • The scent of jasmine and gardenia in my parents' garden in the summer
  • The smell of my mother's cakes fresh out of the oven
  • A long walk in the English countryside on a warm, sunny day
  • Memories that stir up the soul
  • High-quality dark chocolate
  • Favourite childhood smells
  • Red roses
  • Scented candles
  • Having silent conversations with my (fictional) characters
  • Sipping cinnamon latte and having cheesecake at Costa 
  • Watching people interact while listening to music
  • Silence when needed
  • Happy news after a long wait
  • Seeing photos of me as a child with my late grandparents
  • Holding my novel
  • Getting fan mail
  • Reading great reviews of my debut novel The Years of Silence
  • Unexpected kindness from strangers
  • Browsing books at a huge bookstore
  • Chocolate doughnuts from the bakery around the corner
  • Watching Nigella Lawson cook and bake on TV.


Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Art of Ignoring Negative Book Reviews

Every published author gets them... and you just have to cope. I'm talking about bad or negative book reviews. Bear in mind, there are "constructive", professional reviews; those that help you take a step back and see your work from another angle and how you can improve your writing. Those are welcome, at least for me.

I'm talking about subjective, mean reviews. Those that seem to "judge" the book and the author in a rather unprofessional, very personal way.

From my own experience, it's best to just shrug them off. Such reviews won't help you be a better writer. And if they can't do that, then just IGNORE.

Don't feel judged, upset (though sometimes it's hard not to), or pressured. If anything, thank the reviewer! Yup. It may confuse them a bit even. And sometimes, they'll respond and try to justify their "review" adding a little but of "strange" sweetness this time.

It does get very weird, however, when you feel like the reviewer has something against you... like they want to prove you're just not a good enough writer. Again, ignore.

A way of telling this is watching the language of the reviewer. Do they seem offended... or offensive? Are they defensive? Do they seem "hurt" by the book or you and they're whining (I kid you not!)? Do they sound like they expected "paradise", only to find "hell" and they make sure they get the message across like that? Even better, they could have written the book "better"?!

Yeah, if they're not objective, respectful, again IGNORE. Don't even read the whole review. Actually, tell them that you're looking forward to their "better" books. And mean it. Because out of curiosity, I'd look forward to that day very much. Too bad it may never come.

Because let's face it: even the greatest of writers and authors get bad reviews. What kind of book isn't disliked by a few... or many? Does it demean the book? No! does it demean the author? Heck NO! This is like wining a race, then having someone tell you they don't see you as a winner... or something like that. It still means nothing. You won the race, didn't you? Whether when you published your book, received high ratings and praise/hopefully an award, or any of that... you won the race...and then some.

A single or a few bad reviews are NOTHING. It's cumulative reviews from many (preferably accredited) sources that do count.

Feel free to share your opinions and thoughts, especially if you're a published writer.

And remember: Keep writing!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Happy "Falentine's" Day...and Other Thoughts!

I just realized my last blog post was five months ago! That's quite a long time. I'm going to blame it on work and utter lack of time. I also promise to blog more regularly from now on.

Anyway, it's almost the end of February...the month of love for many. February that has turned very weird recently with all this hot weather. February...the month I was born in. February of the so-called Falentine's Day.

It dazzles me how much people change...and not just in a matter of years. It can be a matter of months or weeks...or days. Years ago, I used to be in awe of love. I used to look up at love and just be speechless. I think I built all my dreams around it. I thought it was all I needed to become complete...become who I'm meant to be and be happier.

Let's not jump to conclusions: What is love first of all?

Years ago my definition of love was either that of the ultra-romantic, fragile love that for some unknown reason is too perfect to even last so it has to end abruptly, often in tragedy one way or another (the impossible love story). But it doesn't stop there. Oh no! Its sweetness starts there with all the unbearable (sometimes even unimaginable) hollow pain, tears, memories and separation. That torture means something. Question is: Does this pain help us grow? Does it really help us? Or is that what we tell ourselves trying to make it all sound better so we even appear wiser in the process? I mean did people wake up one day and all agree that such type of love stories are supposed to make us stronger, better people? If so, show me some proof!

The second type of love is the illusional idolized type. You imagine someone bigger than they are, better than they are and you dream of them day and night. It starts like that. But be ware, it can keep growing and it can be unstoppable.

That's what I knew of love back then.

Blame it on the media...and those Hollywood movies that depict such types of love. We grow up and our brains soak up all that. Our parents and the authority figures we know don't talk about love or such "mundane" things; so by all means, bring the movies on!

Now years later, I may be the same childish, very romantic person within but I have quite different views of life...and love. Life has taught me a lot. I'm not trying to sound like a know-it-all-seen-it-all smart a**. No, I'm sharing my opinion which could be of some (or a lot of) value to you; so here are my two cents:

Love hurts. A LOT. It's unexplained. It's unexpected. It's very clear. It's strange. It's mysterious. It cruel. It's kind. It's sweet. It's bitter. It's sadness. It's pure joy. It's torture. It's relief. It's nothing. It's everything.

Exactly. No one can figure out love.

I can tell you one thing though: Everyone's version of love is different. Some have dwelled on the bright side; others on the very dark side. So don't let others' stories affect you.

My side of the story is that love is cruelly kind, vaguely clear, sweetly bitter and sadly joyful.

Real love is different. Real love is about two people letting go of their selfishness selflessly for love. Real love is about hanging on, and still knowing your someone is on the other side holding the other side of the rope, even if only ever so lightly. Real love is about understanding, commitment, intuition, communication, patience, and faith...a lot of faith.

What's your definition of love?

Bottom-line is: Don't be a love-victim. Yes, love can be like in the movies. But it's also much different. So, step away from the clouds for a while and give it some thought. Healthy love relationships do exist. Soul mates do exist.

And the first person you need to fall in love with is yourself, no one else. Because once you do, people will do the same. And among them will be the one...the one meant for you.

Which brings me to February again. I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day anymore. Yeah, me...the so very hopelessly-turned-hopefully romantic me. I remember years ago how almost "sacred" it was to me, how so very special it was...the chocolate and red roses and all that. I'm not saying I'm against it now, but I definitely don't like the idea of it turning into such a commercial holiday/parade!

I'd like to think love is something else. There are still gifts involved though. :)

And so happy belated Falentine's Day (with an F)!