Sunday, October 19, 2014

Being Brave

I listened to a song this morning which, besides making me cry, caused me to reflect on my cancer journey.  I was one of the lucky ones.  My cancers were caught relatively early.  All I needed was surgery to remove the problem.  But what about those who need more than surgery?  What fear do they experience?  Cancer is such a nasty word.
I have been told it three times in my life so far.  December 2003, September 2006 and December 2010.  The moment you get told that word the fear you feel is incredible.  Overwhelming.  People try and comfort you but their words don't dissipate the fear.
Cancer is scary.
People tell you that you are so brave and you think, "Do I have a choice?"
I didn't choose cancer.  For whatever reason cancer chose me.
And you fight it with everything you have got.  You take on that fear and overcome it.  You do it because you are not ready to die.  You do it because you want to live.  You don't have a choice.  Fighting cancer is like an innate reflex action.  After the initial shock your mind just goes into survival mode.  Fighting cancer is all about survival.  For those not suffering from cancer it might seem like you are brave.  If being brave means pushing back your fear and fighting to survive, then I guess we are brave.
But at the time you don't feel particularly brave.  You feel terrified.
And sometimes being brave is not enough.  No matter the fight you put up, the cancer forces advance and slowly take control of your body, reducing you to a diseased shell.  There is no dignity when this happens.  Dying has no dignity.  It is the end.
Everybody who gets a cancer diagnosis fights it. We all believe we can beat it.  But it is a luck of the draw kind of thing.  For some the belief you can beat it is not enough.  And you never know until you get the all-clear if that lucky person who beats it is you.
Cancer is scary.
Early detection is your best hope of beating it.
Bravery is instinctive.
http://blog.thebreastcancersite.com/trulybrave/#sxZdbqLeupv55E4v.01

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Standing at the Crossroads

Life is a network of paths.  Some lead you in the right direction and others turn into detours that take you way off tack.  There are occasions when you get a little lost and you waste a lot of valuable time trying to find the right path again.  But is there a right path?  How do you know if the path you chose is the right one?  You just have to stumble around in the dark side-stepping the thorny branches and pray like mad that you are heading in the right direction.  Hoping against all hope that there isn't a big boulder blocking your way, or sharp stones that might trip you up.  Navigating life's network of paths isn't easy.  Every now and then you hit a crossroads.  Left, right or straight ahead?  It might take months or even years to know if you chose the right direction.
Having been teaching for 28 years I am now at a crossroads.
Writing is a passion and I could try and do it full time.  There are always jobs going for teachers but is that what I want to do?  Then there is the idea of starting my own business, an educational consultancy where I can put all the experience I have gained working internationally to work.  But starting a business is a risk and I have financial commitments.
My life has shown that I am not scared of taking risks.  I have often opted for the road less traveled.  Sometimes it has turned out to be a good choice and other times there has been a huge crocodile waiting to devour me with a quick snap of its jaws.  So this time I am trying to do it right and arm myself beforehand with weapons to knock the crocodile off the path if it suddenly appears and tries to block my way.
But am I choosing the right path?
The unknown can be frightening.  It can also give you the best adrenalin rush ever.  Which would be good if I was an adrenalin-junkie which I am not.
Previously I've put on a blindfold and have headed down the path blind to all the dangers lurking around me.  Oblivion can be a good thing.  If you don't know what can stop you then you can soldier on.  Well in theory anyway.  Because when you can't see the boulder in the path you walk into it headlong and knock yourself unconscious, and end up lying in the dirt waiting to be rescued.
This time I want to be prepared.  No blindfold.  I want to see where I am going.  I want peripheral vision.  Throw me a pair of night goggles.  I am going to take on the crossroads and not be indecisive.  No 'what if' and 'should I' for me.
My mantra is going to be LET"S DO THIS.  So I am making a choice.  I am heading in a different direction.  My head is full of plans, brain cells are popping, creative juices flowing.  Bring it on!
Cindy Vine currently lives and works in Ukraine and is the author of The Case of Billy B, Not Telling, Defective, C U @ 8 and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon in both print and kindle format.  http://cindyvine.com

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Time for a Rant

I know there are people in the world who have lost their homes due to mortar attacks and shelling.  I know I should be grateful for a lovely apartment and a roof over my head.  I know I should be thankful for running water.  I know I sound like a complete whinge-bag but I can't deal with cold showers.  I really can't.  I need to wash my hair and the thought of a cold shower is making me procrastinate.  So this is a warning.  Until they turn the hot water back on I shall be washing my hair once a week on a Sunday.  I shall of course have a quick shower and clean the other bits each day, but the hair on my head shall be reserved for a Sunday.  That way I can spend Saturdays psyching myself up for what has to happen on a Sunday.  I cannot wash my hair before school during the week as I used to, as I cannot deal with icy cold water on my head in the cool of the morning.  I cannot deal with icy cold water on my head when I get back from work in the evenings when the air is already chilly.  Sundays I can sleep in and muster up my courage for that cold shower.
They say that cutting off the hot water is a way of saving gas supplies for the winter ahead.  Russia has cut off the gas and Ukraine has to be careful to conserve what they have.  I understand all this and it makes sense.  But that doesn't make it any easier to wash my hair in cold water when temperatures are already starting to drop.
Food prices have gone up and the Ukrainian currency is not doing so well.  My heart goes out to the average Ukrainian who must really be struggling financially.  How are they able to buy food?  Does the rest of the world even care?
The mood has changed in Ukraine since before the summer holiday.  It is far more somber with fewer smiles.  I guess people are really worried about the future of their country which is understandable.  Nobody knows Russia's big plan.  Rumours and conjecture abound.  It is not a happy place to be as you really don't know what might happen next.
On Friday I went to apply for a short stay Schengen visa at the Latvian Embassy.  My Schengen visa is only valid from the end of October and I need to go to Latvia for a school visit in 2 weeks.  This proved to be an exercise is frustration.  I'd thought downloading the English application form off the embassy's website and filling it in beforehand would be proactive.  Big mistake.  After taking my number and waiting to see the embassy official, I got to the window only to be told it was the wrong form and I had to fill in another one which happened to be all in Ukrainian.  The same form, but with one word different on the top of the first page.  After filling in the new form I had to get a new number and start the waiting process from the beginning.  Thanks goodness all my documentation was correct but then the next problem arose.  The official asked for the fee to be paid in Euros and I only had Ukrainian money.  Nowhere on their website did they say only Euros was acceptable.  They directed me to a bank down the road to change money.  The bank said they sold Euros.  As I got to the front of the queue both tellers put up signs in Ukrainian.  I asked them what was written on the signs.  "Wait ten minutes," they said as they chatted to each other.  After ten minutes they took down the signs.  When I asked to buy Euros the teller said, "Sorry no Euro."  I tried another four banks and none of them had any Euros.  The sixth bank had Euros but said, "We don't sell Euros to foreigners.  You have to have a Ukrainian passport to be able to buy Euros."  I couldn't budge her from this stance and I trudged back to the embassy to tell them I couldn't get Euros.  But first I had to take another number and wait...
The embassy official became friendlier.  "I know it is impossible to get Euros," she smiled.  Inside I seethed.  If she knew it was impossible, then why did she sent me out on a futile exercise?  "But instead of trying the banks, try the money exchange down the road in the subway.  They will definitely be able to help you."  I thanked her with a fake smile on my face and left to find the money exchange.
"You not Ukraine people.  Nyet, nyet, go, no help.  You not Ukraine people."  You guessed it.  That was the response from the money exchange place.  I guess that foreigners are no longer allowed to buy foreign currency or change Ukrainian money.  So I walked back to the Latvian Embassy, my mind doing somersaults as it tried to come up with a solution to the problem.
The embassy official became even friendlier.  "Don't worry all your documentation is in order so if you spend the weekend finding Euros then you don't have to take a number and queue Monday morning, you can hand in everything and pick your passport up on the 8th."
Feeling a mixture of forlorness and ire, I called a taxi to take me back to work.  Luckily I managed to change money with another teacher when I got back to school.
So hopefully Monday all goes well as I head back to the Embassy.  But today is Sunday.  And I still have to wash my hair in a cold shower...
Cindy Vine is a South African author and teacher currently working in Ukraine.  She is the author of The Case of Billy B, Not Telling, Defective, CU@8 and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format.  http://cindyvine.com 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Great Review for Hush Baby

Reviewed By Valerie Rouse for Readers’ Favorite

Hush Baby by author C. Vine is a gripping tale surrounding Kyle Rushton and his sour relationship with his live-in girlfriend Marlene. They have a son, Max, who is three years old. Max means the world to Kyle. Unfortunately, Kyle’s see-saw relationship with Marlene was taking a toll on him and Kyle made the difficult decision to leave Marlene and Max and move in with his sister Sylvie. Kyle was forced to seek out a lawyer after Marlene blocked him from picking up Max from daycare. Things rapidly escalated with social services becoming involved as well. After establishing a proper visitation schedule to have access to Max, Kyle received a phone call that Max was seriously ill. On rushing to the hospital, he found out that Max had ingested rat poison. Unfortunately, Max died. Kyle became very depressed; however, he had emotional support from Sylvie and close friends. He later discovered that Marlene had given birth to two other children who also died mysteriously. Further digging led to the discovery of more secrets about Marlene’s upbringing and school life.

Hush Baby is an interesting read about personal relationships. Author C. Vine did an excellent job developing the plot. The story began at a slow pace, however, it quickened in the latter half of the novel. I love the unexpected twists that were included in the story. In my opinion, the story literally took on a different feel and transformed into a suspense thriller. This tactic is very cleverly orchestrated by author C. Vine. It propels the reader to become more engrossed in the plot. I did not want to put down the book! The language is simple and easy to understand. What was refreshing was that the novel was written from the viewpoint of a male as opposed to a female. Normally, most stories outlining relationship woes are slanted in the favour of females. This welcome diversion from the norm speaks well for equality of the sexes. I loved the descriptive passages in the novel. I applaud author C. Vine for keeping her readers on their toes, wondering how the story would finally end. The staccato formatting of the final chapter was a good move. It suggests that the reader should accept unpredictability in the plot. I recommend this book to all readers who love suspense.
Hush Baby and Cindy Vine's other books are all available on Amazon  in both print and kindle format.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

So you want to be a writer

Guest Post by Lisa Regan, author of Hold Still

Some people are practically born writing.  I’m that type—I started writing stories at a very young age.  Other people come to writing later in life.  Either way, you can be successful at it if you work hard and are committed to it.  Even people like me who spend their whole lives writing sometimes still take a long time to get published.  Here are five things to keep in mind if you want to be successful at writing:

  1.  Figure out what you want to write and stick with it.  Many published writers are successful because they can keep readers coming back for more.  Readers like to know what they’re getting when they pick up one of your books so you should try to focus on one genre and really give it your all.  Pick a genre that you’re passionate about and stick with it.
  2. Read, read, read.  One of the best ways to become a better writer is to be a reader.  See what other writers do.  Get the bestselling books in your genre and read them.  Take note of how those authors craft and deliver a story.  Re-read your favorite books with your writer’s hat on and try to figure out what the author did that made you love that book so much.
  3. Write, write, write.  Try to write as much as you can.  Even if you’re not working on a story or a book.  Write emails, keep a journal—write something as often as possible.  One of the best ways to improve your writing is to actually write.  Remember, you don’t have to use everything you write, but you should write something.  Practice your craft and you will get better.
  4. Connect with other writers.  I’ve found the best way to do this is through blogging but with the internet there are so many ways to find and connect with other writers.  See if there is a writing group in your area.  Get yourself some writing friends and cultivate those relationships.  They’ll help you become a better writer and they’ll buoy you up when the business pushes you down.
  5. Research.  Take writing classes.  Read books on the craft.  Talk to other writers.  If you’ve already written something and want to get it published, research how to go about it.  Make sure you know as much about the business as you can before you put yourself out there.  You don’t want to be turned away by agents, editors or publishers or disqualified from contests because you didn’t take the proper steps to submit or did not follow directions.  Take the time to learn about the industry before you plunge into it.
BIO:
Lisa Regan is a crime fiction author.  Her first novel, Finding Claire Fletcher won Best Heroine in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards 2013.  It was runner-up for Best Novel.  It was also a Digital Book Today Best of 2013 ebook selection.  In December 2013, Finding Claire Fletcher and her second novel, Aberration were #1 Amazon bestsellers in the Kidnapping and Serial Killers categories, respectively.
Lisa is a member of Sisters In Crime.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University.  She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. 


 
SHORT SYNOPSIS of HOLD STILL by LISA REGAN
Three men are viciously assaulting Philadelphia's prostitutes, and it's up to veteran detective Jocelyn Rush to stop them.  She catches two, but they won't betray their partner, the most dangerous of all, and the attacks continue, striking closer to home.  Jocelyn's only real clue comes when a monster from her past resurfaces--now she must race to connect the demons of her past with the villain of her present--before the sadistic attacker sets his sights on her.
ONLINE LINKS:
·         Website – www.lisaregan.com
·         Blog – www.lisalregan.blogspot.com
·         Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Regan/189735444395923
·         Twitter - @lisalregan
Buy Now
B&N  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hold-still-lisa-regan/1118931695?ean=9781495206801

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hooray for the Brown Box!

Yes, that does sound a little sad.  But after a week in a Kyiv hospital my Brown Box Apartment felt like home.
My apartment is a tad brown.  Brown carpets, brown walls, brown fake leather furniture, brown cupboards.  Even my bedroom is brown.  And in the kitchen, the dark maroon cupboards do lean towards the brown side.  The bathroom has chocolate brown tiles on the floor and walls.  It is a little bit like a brown cave.  Even when the sun is shining brightly outside, I have to have lights on in the inside because of the very brownness of it all.  What stops it from being a bit like living in a pile of brown excrement is the green art deco chandelier in the lounge.
A brown box can be a depressing place to live, especially when I think of the white, blues, turquoises and purples I used to decorate my home in Cape Town to give it that beach cottage feel.  But I have got used to the brown, and instead of brightening it up with colour I have livened it up with cooking smells as I try out recipes for my cookbook I'm working on.
After 3 nights in hospital, 4 days but who's counting, all I wanted was to go back to my brown box.  Never had a brown box felt so inviting.  I wanted my kitchen so I could cook up a storm.  I wanted my fake leather couch that is so comfortable to lie on.  I wanted the comfort of my brown walls and feel the softness of my brown carpet under my feet.
It wasn't as if the hospital was terrible.  It wasn't.  I had a private room en suite and a bar fridge and a very comfortable easy chair.  But it wasn't home.
The nurses were pleasant enough even though they tried to avoid me as much as possible as they couldn't speak English.  Some of the doctors I saw had limited English.  It is a bit frightening when you have all these tests and nobody talks to you and explains what is happening.  Communication is a series of grunts and gestures.
The one doctor who did have decent English I hit.  I punched him and knocked him right off his chair so that he landed on his bum on the ground.  And I didn't even apologise.  The sadistic little turd deserved it.
The nurse had taken me to see this doctor and I assumed it would be another scan as I had been having a few of those each day.  He informed me with a cruel smile that he would be performing an endoscopy and asked me if I knew what it was.  I shook my head.  I should have run while I had the chance.  The doctor's bedside manner had been left behind at the Torture Chamber he frequented after hours.  "Lie on your side," he ordered with another cruel smile, "And open mouth."
Not having any inkling what was going to happen, I complied.  The doctor jammed a funnel in my mouth that tasted of toilet cleaner.  (I have never actually tried toilet cleaner, but this is what I imagine it tastes like.)  He then proceeded to force a large black pipe down my throat.  Of course I panicked.  On good days I suffer from an acute gag reflex and I often struggle to swallow pills.  He kept shouting for me to swallow, but how can you swallow when your throats clamps shut and you can't breathe?  I struggled to pull out the pipe, he continued to try and force it in and in my panic I decked him.
If I wasn't hyperventilating, I would have returned the cruel smile he had greeted me with.
"We must do it," he snarled.
"I can't do it!" I shouted clutching my throat.
"We must do it," he said through gritted teeth as he advanced with his pipe.
"Okay, I'll try."  I can't believe I said those words and gave in so easily.
The second time was even worse.  The nurse held the funnel to my mouth so I couldn't move and a young blonde man with Justin Bieber's famous hairstyle when he first made it and pink scrubs sat on me and held me down.  Doctor Evil advanced with his pipe shouting, "Swallow!  Breathe!"
I could not breathe at all and my eyes felt like they were protruding so much they were going to pop right out of the sockets.  I fought and managed to dislodge the pink scrub man who was sitting astride me and ripped out the black pipe so I could breathe.  "It's okay I'm finished," the doctor said, lying through his teeth.  There was no way he had passed it down my insides and had time to take photos.
I was severely traumatised by that experience.  The nurse kept patting my back and stroking my arm as she led me hyperventilating, with tears running down my cheeks, back to my room.  Never again.
And so I started dreaming about my brown box and how safe I feel there.
The doctor in charge of me, not Doctor Evil, was easily persuaded to let me stay at home and just go in every day for my blood pressure to be checked, injections and a drip.  Hopefully Wednesday will be my last day of commuting to the hospital.
Cindy Vine is a South African currently living and working in Kyiv in Ukraine. She is the author of Hush Baby, Defective, C U @ 8, Not Telling and The Case of Billy B. All her books are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format. http://cindyvine.com