10 Ways to Change Your Life for the Better

by Jean Foster Akin

You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. ~~Rabindranath Tagore

I believe now that a better year actually IS based on my desires, focus, attitudes, and determination. I didn’t realize that before, but I do now.

Listen, I say a “better” year, not necessarily a “perfect” year. And I’m not being flippant toward those of you who live in difficult situations that you can’t change at the moment, or at all. In those bad situations, could you improve your daily life with a positive attitude? I think so, yes. But I also know there are times when you can’t even work up a smirk  let alone a sunny attitude. Some people are in rough situations that are not their fault.

But when it has to do with negative attitudes in a land with opportunity, well, positive attitudes DO play into how much better things can be. They just do.

So, you ask how you can have a better year when you’re in a dead-end job, or when your marriage is falling apart, or when you’re bored out of your mind because your circle of friends has drifted due to new jobs in different towns? Or, they’ve started higher education classes that keep them running here and there but never to your door.

Own Your Life

There is a real danger in depression, and I am not referring to clinical depression here in this post. The truly depressed have no ability to draw strength from within in order to change their lives. They are exhausted, overwhelmed, self-hating, and often over-looked. They don’t need to hear: “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” That’s a dismissive, uncaring remark. What depressed individuals need is others to hold them up and offer tangible assistance (I’m sorry, but saying “I’ll pray for you” is NOT tangible assistance–be creative, and put yourself out for those in need. For help or suggestions, try The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8522.)

But for those among us who are DISCOURAGED with the way their lives have turned out, I say: no one but YOU will ever have the desire strong enough to change YOUR situation. Haven’t you noticed? 

Often we have the desire to change our lives, but we wait on someone else to make decisions that will improve our lives FOR us. “Someone Else” could be our boss, our life partner, our friends, or perhaps a higher power. It isn’t wrong to depend on people or to believe in something mystical that is higher than ourselves, but it’s ill-advised to believe that we can just sit there and wait for something better to come our way without our doing anything more than hope.

So, may I suggest that you think of a small plan, something doable, that you might use to change your circumstances, even a little?

SOME THINGS YOU CAN TRY

Dead-end job? Perhaps you could take a few classes to earn or finish your degree and eventually have more to bring to the table on your next interview. Too scary? Try one class, then. See how it goes. Or else, fall in love with your lousy, low-paying job. Which sounds easier?

You’re in a troubled marriage? If there’s physical abuse, remove yourself physically, seek safety and  guidance. But if there is lack of communication, dullness, walls between you, don’t submit to the sentiment, “It happens in all marriages eventually. That’s just the way it goes.” I’ll tell you something: unless you are incapable  of deep thought, of mindfulness, of being present in THIS moment, then you don’t have to settle in a loveless, spiritless marriage. It may well be that a couple of divorce lawyers will be making a lot of money in the next few months, but it may be that you can call out the elephant in the room and work together to change what has become a negative dynamic between you.

Maybe your friends have drifted away. You feel your relationship with them is receiving less than adequate attention. Maybe so, but YOU can join a book club, enroll in a painting class, learn a new language. You don’t need to cut off friends whose lives are changing–instead, love them, but meet new people and make new friends! Take a self-improvement course. Help a child or an adult learn to read. Volunteer to deliver meals to shut-ins or visit the sick in the hospital.  Yes, we can feel hurt or even resentful when our relationships with friends changes, but to make things better, drop the resentment, be happy for your friends’ new enthusiasms–and find some new enthusiasms in YOUR OWN LIFE. Enthusiasms which give you purpose and enjoyment, which help others, and which give you the chance to increase your social circle. There are people out there who will be as delighted to meet you as you are to meet them.

Bored out of your mind? Read the last paragraph.

DON’T WAIT

Our attitudes CAN change our lives. Instead of resentment, fear, and isolation–all which make us feel like victims of circumstances–determine to make changes to your circumstances YOURSELF, don’t wait for someone else to make them for you. Follow through and call the college, call the hospital’s volunteer office, call the marriage counselor, call the literacy volunteer program. The simple act of making a telephone call  can go A LONG WAY! Not just for your life, but for the lives of others.

Whatever you do, even if 2018 was a pretty good year for you, it’s my sincerest hope that you’ll have an even better 2019. I know that this is happening for me. What about you? Have you made changes toward a better life? Encourage the people around you. Leave a comment below with your experiences and plans!

 

 

photos by Unsplash.com.

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A Writer KNOWS It

R.L. Stine, American Author of the popular Goosebumps and Fear Street Series (etc, etc 🙂 )

“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
— R.L. Stine

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Who Am I?

“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.”

~ Alan Watts (British-American Philosopher)

 

 

Posted by Jean Foster Akin

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A NEW THRILLER AT GREAT INTRODUCTORY PRICE!

It looks like Julie’s left her wealthy husband for good. Cam’s spent too much time away, the couple’s been bickering, and Julie’s father just died–but could this be enough to make Julie leave? Detective Jack Deerfield thinks so, but Cam disagrees…until he finds romantic letters sent to Julie by a mysterious lover. While Cam deals with this betrayal and Deerfield discovers feelings for Julie’s African-American friend, Evanna, Julie is forced to endure a mentally unstable man bent on turning her into an obedient and loving companion. Will Cam, crushed by his wife’s apparent abandonment, fall under the spell of a seductive socialite determined to make him break his marriage vows? And, will Julie, alone and afraid, find the key to unlock her prison door before she’s subjected to her captor’s last and most dangerous form of control yet?

Head over to Amazon.com, pick up the thriller Cold as Winter Woods by J.F. Akin, and find the answers to those questions! Only $9.40 for the beautiful hefty Paperback! Only 99c for the Kindle eBook, or ZERO cents if you buy the eBook with your Prime membership!! If you get the thrill from the novel that my initial, pre-publication, readers have reported to me, I’d appreciate it very much if you’d go over to Amazon and give me some stars. It’s hard work writing a novel, as many of you know, and encouragement from fellow writers and faithful readers means a lot, so THANKS!!

posted by Jean Foster Akin

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NEW THRILLER: Cold As Winter Woods NOW AVAILABLE (LOW-PRICE!)

Well, my friends, my newest novel, Cold as Winter Woods, was published last week, but problems were discovered inside the book and the book had to be removed from sale for a few days until the problems were fixed. Now, the NEW and UPDATED novel is once again available for sale on Amazon! You can pick up the nice thick Paperback for just $9.40. However, if you prefer to carry your library around in your Kindle, you can do that too: the Kindle eBook will set you back 99c (yeah, only 99 cents!), unless you’re part of Kindle Unlimited–then you’ll pay nothing! That’s nil, zilch, zero!

REFUNDS OF ORIGINAL PAPERBACK AND EBOOK

If you bought the PAPERBACK before Monday, August 13, 2018, you received the “problematic” version, but *I* will personally REPLACE it for FREE (obviously, for FREE!) with the corrected and updated paperback novel! Just contact me here and I’ll tell you where to send your original sales receipt. NOTE: If you have NOT bought the paperback yet, though, go on over to Amazon and order it. I am not selling my book–Amazon is–I can only send you a replacement Paperback for the “bad” copy you purchased before August 13, in exchange for your original sales receipt.

If you purchased the EBOOK before Monday, August 13, 2018, it is the “problematic” version. You can get the corrected and updated eBook by signing into your Amazon account, looking into your list of Kindle eBooks by clicking on your “Content & Devices,” and completely DELETING the eBook copy of Cold as Winter Woods that you bought before August 15. Deleting will allow you to re-order the updated eBook (NOTE: because of the types of corrections that were made to the eBook, YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE AN AUTOMATIC UPDATE ALERT FOR THIS EBOOK ON YOUR KINDLE). Finally, order the eBook once more. Then you will have the new and updated eBook! And please feel free to contact me here and I will gladly reimburse you for the first 99c you paid, in exchange for your original sales receipt.

BEHIND THE CURTAIN

I spent many hours interviewing law enforcement in the writing of this novel. I wanted to get my facts straight and the men and women of the New York State patrol, undercover, and detective divisions were there to talk to me and to answer my innumerable questions. They gave up precious time helping me get police procedures straight as well as checking over specific sections of my manuscript for accuracy–long before I was able to finally type THE END.

WHAT’S THE NOVEL ABOUT?

If you’re like me, though, you’ll want to know what a book is about before you shell out any clams for it, so here’s the story, boiled down:

From the back cover: “It looks like Julie’s left her wealthy husband for good. Cam’s spent too much time away, the couple’s been bickering, and Julie’s father just died–but could this be enough to make Julie leave? Detective Jack Deerfield thinks so, but Cam disagrees…until he finds romantic letters sent to Julie by a mysterious lover. While Cam deals with this betrayal and Deerfield discovers feelings for Julie’s African-American friend, Evanna, Julie is forced to endure a mentally unstable man bent on turning her into an obedient and loving companion. Will Cam, crushed by his wife’s apparent abandonment, fall under the spell of a seductive socialite determined to make him break his marriage vows? And, will Julie, alone and afraid, find the key to unlock her prison door before she’s subjected to her captor’s last and most dangerous form of control yet?”

So head over to Amazon.com, pick up the thriller Cold as Winter Woods by J.F. Akin, and find the answers to those questions! Be sure to leave me a positive comment or some “stars” on Amazon if you like the story. Writing a novel is hard work, as many of you know, and encouragement from fellow writers and faithful readers means a lot! Thank you!

posted by Jean Foster Akin

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Author Quote: Taking Writing Advice

“Have humility. Older/more ­experienced/more convincing writers may offer rules and varieties of advice. ­Consider what they say. However, don’t automatically give them charge of your brain, or anything else – they might be bitter, twisted, burned-out, manipulative, or just not very like you.”

AL Kennedy, Scottish novelist, writer of short stories and non-fiction. Academic. Stand-up comedian.

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Anthony Bourdain: The Magic

 

There’s a reason Bourdain’s death will rock many. He was a part of the original group of celebrity chefs and demonstrated why our obsession with food has so much more to do than with just food.
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

by Jean Foster Akin

I did not know Anthony Bourdain personally, obviously, but, like so many of his fans, his death has struck me hard.

The first time I saw No Reservations, many years ago now, I was hooked. Not only by the fact that I could do some armchair traveling with the man to places I had never seen, but by the fact that I could do some armchair traveling to places I had never seen in the warm, beautiful, frightening, ugly, desperate, welcoming, REAL way that Anthony Bourdain showed them: he showed us a terrifying picture of Iran,  Myanmar, Lybya, Congo, Haiti, Iraqi Kurdistan, Beruit (the latter where the Israel-Lebanon war broke out during the filming of the episode, leaving the No Reservations crew trapped in their hotel with gunshots ringing in their ears and bombs exploding nearby).  Through Bourdain we saw the people of those places, the people who were trapped in war zones and maligned and/or targeted as people groups because of their nationality or religion or gender.  Tony showed us the heartache and the crime, the human rights violations, but he also showed the strength of the human spirit through it all, the simplicity as well as the magnitude in the act of feeding each other. 

He showed us the lights and the glitter of Tokyo and France, the emerald greens of Ireland, the patriotism of the American Southern states, the nightlife of American cities up North, the frozen desert of Antarctica, the sculpted images of gods in Punjab, the hot white sands of the Caribbean. Is there any place Anthony Bourdain didn’t go?

In 2016, NPR correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton shared breakfast with Anthony Bourdain at Marché Kermel in Dakar, Senegal.
CNN

Never a travel reporter with that cutesy, folksy, happy-go-lucky American-on-vacation style that is so common with travel show hosts, Bourdain’s straight-faced sarcasm, his quick (often self-deprecating) wit, was entertaining as well as endearing. His honesty was fresh and it was something mostly unseen in this world of political correctness. Yet, just as unfailing as his sharp-witted snark was Bourdain’s genuine gratitude to the people who shared their food with him–whether that food consisted of the finest seafood fished off crystal clear blue-watered islands, or the humblest offerings brought forth from forests surrounding the poorest villages. You could see it all over his face: a sincere thankfulness for the welcome, the hospitality, and the acceptance into their family, that the lowliest of hosts extended him.

Anthony Bourdain in Saudi Arabia. CNN

I remember the episode in which an Inuit family took Tony on a seal hunt in sub-zero temperatures, bundling his thin frame in multiple layers against the cold so that he ended up resembling the Pillsbury Doughboy. He let his viewers know that he didn’t want to receive angry letters excoriating him for going on a pleasure hunt for seals (of course, knowing full well that he would be inundated with such letters), because what he’d actually done was accompany an Inuit family across a frigid waterway to insure the family would eat that night. It was a journey the family made frequently, and so why not film for the audience this dangerous, even life-threatening, hunt for survival? Bourdain wanted to remind inhabitants of the First-World that way up on “top” of the Earth there isn’t a McDonald’s or a Whole Foods on every corner. Or on any corner. We got to see a world that belonged to someone else and appreciate the world that was our own.

Later in that episode, a plastic sheet was laid on the kitchen floor, and the raw seal was cut up and eaten by the family and film crew.  The head of the family offered one of the seal’s treasured eyeballs to Bourdain, who admitted in voice-over that he wasn’t sure he could swallow such a goopy, disgusting organ. But knowing the generosity behind the host’s gesture, knowing every family member present would be delighted to eat the eye in his stead, Bourdain looked at the flesh-cup of gelatinous goo as the gift it was. He looked directly at his host, smiled an almost-shy smile, and suggested that he and his host share it. In that way he figured he might be able to get the thing down and, at the same time, avoid offending his host. It was Bourdain’s smile in that instant, no guile and no pretense behind it, which got me. It was the pure, naked smile of a man who saw the largesse of his host’s gesture and made sure his host knew he understood it, and that he wanted to offer something in return.

Anthony Bourdain was an amazing writer with a deep, dusky voice and an often salty vocabulary who gathered up the textures, scents, and feelings that food could elicit within a culture. He brought those elements to light, painting vibrant pictures with his well-chosen words and images.  He revealed the hands and hearts, the traditions and practices–the humanity–behind the foods in the  cultures he showcased. Bourdain sat down to sup with any number of scary folks (former Viet Cong soldiers come to mind), but he shed illumination on ordinary people living in countries all around us, too, just people trying to make ends meet, trying to live their lives as peacefully as possible, trying to raise their children to be capable and strong in a dangerous world, trying to build a better future for the next generation, and spending quite lot of time working for, paying for (or trading for), and preparing nourishing foods for their families and their friends. Just like the rest of us.  Bourdain showed us people, real people, and told us, “See? We are not that different at all. We have the same fears, the same dreams, the same hopes for our children.”

Bourdain in Hanoi. Photo: William Mebane for The New Yorker.

Bourdain went all over the world to see those places, to speak to those people, to sit at their tables, and to tell their stories in programs which revolved around the magic of food, the magic of community. Magic like our own magic. Magic we often believe has been reserved just for us. But it hasn’t. It’s a magic that envelops the people of the Earth. Anthony Bourdain brought knowledge of that common magic to many, revealing the life-giving, tradition-building, community-forging power of food shared.

For my part, I will miss his relaxed saunter, the eyes that took it all in, the sardonic smirk as well as the genuine empathy and warmth of a man I didn’t know, but who, I believe, opened all our eyes to the amazing possibilities that connectedness to other members of our species can bring. To the amazing possibilities inherent in dropping our defenses with other peoples and other tribes. To not being so sure we know every little thing about each other. And, mostly, to the gift of allowing others to be themselves and to be different from us without our feeling threatened by that knowledge.

Thank you, Anthony Bourdain, for igniting our curiosity. May you rest in peace.

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