Valentine’s Day exposes two kinds of people

My cousin, Lynn D. Nel recently finished her book and is in the process of getting it self-published. The book tells the story of her life – her childhood, abuse she endured, relationships, et cetera.

I’m really proud of her – finishing a book is a HUGE achievement.

“Have you started reading my book yet?” She had asked me two weeks ago. It had probably been the third time she had asked me. I told her yes, I was at page four then. “I feel so naked now,” she told me. Lynn says she feels naked, because she revealed so much of herself in this book.

More about the book another time…

Lynn agreed to be a guest writer for Mel’s Postbox. Within time, we will share her journey as a first time author. Here are her thoughts on Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

Valentine's Day people Lynn D Nel

Before I get right into it, let me just tell you a little bit about myself. I am a very opinionated person and, to say the least, very analytical too. I don’t know if the latter is a good thing or a bad thing. The truth is, I have an artist and a writer’s soul.

I don’t know about other writers but I am an introvert and quiet by nature. I choose to observe people and life in general. And once the observation is done, the extrovert will come out on paper.

Ask any writer or “wannabe” writer, our heads are always spinning about what we would like to position on paper.

I live in either my own little world of what I perceive as realistic (and I am very stubborn about it) or, I live in an ideal world (in my head of course).

What can I say, I’m a romantic at heart and it is an excellent coping mechanism. This brings me to 14 February. How I perceive the day, is somewhat more realistic than idealistic.

Lynn D Nel author valentine's day
Lynn D. Nel

So Valentine’s Day 2017 has come and gone. And what I observed were two kinds of people that are, dare I say, more obvious on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year.

I think you can guess where I am going with this. The one group is the happy-go-lucky ones who totally buys into the day! These are the people that are not scared to admit how important love, and for that matter, their loved one(s) in their lives are.

We dress ourselves and our children in the colour that ‘speaks Valentine’. Everywhere you look, are couples that do not show any shame, nor embarrassment in dressing alike or, true to the colour that warrants this day.

Yeah to those people for their honesty because we were in essence designed to “mate” and to love. Love as it is, “the greatest of them all”, do make everything seem alright with this world, whether we want to admit it or not.

A quote out of the movie “The Notebook” portrays it so eloquently: “The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.”

The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our…

Nothing will ever come close to love. It brings peace, kindness, understanding, courage and a will to face anything and everything life throws our way. It makes us bold and fierce in our struggles.

Love... It makes us bold and fierce in our struggles. - Lynn D. Nel

The best thing is that we do learn from love and what we learn is power at its best. Nobody for me can say it better than Leo Tolsky when he said: “All, everything that I understand, I only understand because I love.”

As a dedicated Christian, the best for me is out of the movie Les Miserables, “And remember, as it was written, to love another person is to see the face of God”.

Love makes us vulnerable and most people hate being vulnerable. We think it makes us weak and not human as we are.

We prefer the masks and not the real when in fact the real stands a better chance at love in its best form.

In the words of Angelita Lim: “I saw that you were perfect, and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect and I loved you even more. We don’t choose love, love chooses us! We should really just marvel in it! To teach love is to live love.”

The second, and my least favourite group, is the cynical-about-love people. Cynical though is such a harsh word, so I would rather like to call them “confused?”

They make me think about the 7%-38%-55% rule that resulted from Prof Albert Mehrabian’s research on communication. This rule does not portray all forms of communication.

These totals primarily relate to a situation where we are forming an attitude of like or dislike of someone, as concluded by his other peers. It states that 7% is made out of content (our words), 38% refers to the tone of our voice and 55% portrays our body language and facial expressions.

I’m single, and a mother of an eighteen year old who totally adores his girlfriend. I was very excited with him when I took him shopping for the perfect gift for his girlfriend.

So there we stood, in the pay point queue, right behind two young women who were wearing sexy black dresses. They were talking about, yes, men, why they hate the day and that they cannot believe that people are so gullible to stand in line with all these valentine’s gifts.

Valentine's hearts
The rule came to mind and with that, the saying: “Action speaks louder than words”. Is it just my thinking or were they really very transparent? There they were, on this ‘gloomy’ day, dressed in sexy black dresses. Why?

At places that I have been during the day, I witnessed the same sexy black ‘numbers’ and the same cynicism. Everyone knows that black is a winner on any occasion and any day. Why would you want to be a winner on such a “doomed” day?

So what if people buy into the commercial side of it? We…. people…have evolved and we … people…have commercialised the world. It happens on any other significant days.

Heaven knows, with all the negativity around us, the world needs days like these.

We get so caught up in the rat race that pressurises us to live past each other. My head is always full of quotes and it really cannot escape my soul. This one, by Mitch Albom, I have no doubt, is designed for the sceptical at heart.

“Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.”

So Mr or Miss Doubtful, please change your attitude, unless you want to end up with someone equally doubtful.

Mr or Miss Doubtful, please change your attitude; unless you want to end up with someone equally…

The law of attraction is simple. We don’t attract what we want. We attract what we are. Think of your poor future children!

The law of attraction is simple. We don't attract what we want. We attract what we are. - Lynn D Nel

“Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo!” Most of us are familiar with this famous Shakespearian play. What Juliet meant to ask was: Why are you from the Montague family and not from the Capulets she stems from? Why are you not what I want you to be?

We, humans, tend to go for Mr or Miss Wrong and then we wonder why things did not work out. We choose with the eyes, and not with the heart and it is the heart that speaks to the soul and the soul is what really matters!

Looks attract a person but its character and mutual compatibility that keep two people in love and yes, together!

So let’s make a toast, not to love, but to hope!

We should celebrate love more often and permits the wonder that Valentine’s Day brings. It brings hope! This idealist is signing out for now. I hope I reach at least one heart, just one!

[The above opinion piece was written by Lynn D. Nel.]

Do you agree or disagree with Lynn? Did you celebrate Valentine’s or not? Tell me what you think.

The #1 Reason That Prevents Me From Becoming An Author

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” – Maya Angelou
I’ve had this story inside of me for less than a year. This year my goal is to pen it down. I am sure the characters cannot wait to get out of my head.
One of my goals this year is to start with my fiction book. Another goal is to at least read five books this year.
I am reading more things aligned to what I want to achieve. On Monday 16 January 2017, I came across Karthik Pasupathy’s article “5 Things That Prevent Young Aspirants from Becoming Writers”.
prevent aspiring writers
Pasupathy wrote on The Writing Cooperative that writers do not interact. “Aspirants (aspiring authors) don’t discuss about writing. They keep things to themselves. They’re too afraid to step forward and discuss ideas.
“Brainstorming plays an important role when comes to writing. When people with contrasting opinions discuss about a topic, it creates new connections in our brain,” he explains. “This allows a writer to look at an issue from several perspectives.”
Other mistakes that aspiring authors do “they don’t read” nor “they do not write,” says Pasupathy.
I should talk to fellow writers about my process, I thought. I decided to act on this. After emailing someone close to me my story idea, I got a few gems from this fellow writer.
I needed to hear the following and she said it: “You know you can do this; the story is already in you.”
The challenging part of writing a story is actually starting. Although I have small parts of the story in my head, I think: what if I don’t have more meat for my story?
Meaning: what if the story doesn’t get interesting as the first part?
“You know you can do this; the story is already in you.”
I am certain this means: Just start, the rest will come.
books author emotions
Lastly, I will share with the one other gem I got from this person: “Try to write when you have lots of emotion in you, whether good or bad.”
It’s not like I haven’t written a story before – I am a journalist by profession and I have also had fiction short stories published.
Let’s not agonise I tell myself; just start with it.
If you are an author or have struggled to start with something you’re passionate about, let me know what motivated you to do the next step.
Enjoy the rest of your week!

Advice on choosing a career – this is how I got into journalism

I never thought of journalism as a career before I enrolled to do the course at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

In fact, before I decided to enrol for journalism I never watched much news. My brother and I used to love watching the 19:00 comedy show on Sabc1 on a weekly night. News did become my life the day I applied to do journalism.

Studying journalism was not something I considered. I wanted to do something in medicine, like radiography. I failed Natural Science in June 2005 when I was in matric. I needed good marks for that course – so when I failed I didn’t get a call back from the university’s radiology department.

During my matric year I decided with a couple of friends that I wanted to do a gap year. The plan was to take a gap year and au pair in the United States.

I went all out – I did a lot of babysitting and I worked for free at a local crèche (a day care centre for children) to make up the hours I needed. I think the programme asked that I must have about 100 to 200 hours of experience (babysitting children).

I got the necessary paperwork to do au pair – I even wrote a letter to my potential host-parents. Writing the letter was the most exciting thing I did. I must have realised then that I should consider a career that involved creative writing.

Anyway, during my gap year I worked as a waiter while trying to get my things in order to do au pair. I had to get my driver’s licence to complete the application to do au pair.

Long story short, things didn’t work out my way. I failed too many times at my driver’s tests. Eventually I made a decision to let go of the dream of becoming an au pair. How I came about that decision, is a story for another day.

After I made a decision not to do au pair, my parents advised me to go study something.

The thing about finishing matric and being an adult is that it is an exciting part of your life. You get to make decisions as an adult. Yet, I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life.

I always had a dream that I wanted to be a doctor; maybe a gynaecologist.

One day at a hospital – I was sick – I saw a man with his foot messed up. It was as if he just came in from an accident. His foot looked disgusting and bloody. I couldn’t see myself touching that man’s foot and then decided that I cannot be a doctor.

So radiology was the second dream. In my matric year I had taken everything on higher grade and I failed some of my subjects because it was too much to handle. Please note: during my school years I was always in the Top 10 or Top 20 learners at the school.

There was a lot going on in matric.

My mother suggested that I study journalism, because I apparently had always said I wanted to be an author. Journalism would be a way of telling stories and a steppingstone of me becoming an author.

I had a light bulb moment: what my mother said was true. I had even while working tried once a month to buy at least one magazine. I’d buy a different magazine each time, because after a while the one magazine’s content seemed “same old, same old”.

I had been enjoying reading and writing since I was a child. I even went to a free Writers Workshop in my teens and wrote my first soapie-story.

The day I enrolled for journalism I was told that the applications had already closed. This was in December 2006. The lady at the administration did however advise me to go see the head of department (HOD). I went to the journalism department and there the secretary of the HOD said the same thing: applications are closed.

God intervened; the secretary then told me she’ll take my application. She asked me however to call her every day [when the university opened again] to remind her about the application. The week my class mates went for orientation, I was sitting on my phone every day to call the secretary. I eventually was called to come in for an interview.

Out of hundreds who applied, I was one of 40 that were chosen for the course.

Why am I writing this post?

Well, the other day I spoke to someone about how many people especially entrepreneurs don’t know what their services should be. How do you decide what to study or what to sell or what service to give? Here’s my input:

  1. You should think about what your talents are. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
  2. What are your qualities? How can you serve? Just because you are a good listener does not mean you should try being a social worker. Doctors are good listeners too – I think. Doctors have to listen to patients who moan about what is wrong with them. That information then helps the doctor make his diagnosis. I am a good listener – but I am a journalist who listens to other people’s stories. I also enjoyed working as a waiter and a call centre operator – it helps if you are a good listener in one of these jobs.
  3. Talk to people. Share your ideas out loud. You learn about yourself and from others if you share what’s on your mind.
  4. Sometimes you should just take the leap. For example, I am a shy person – someone who hardly ever talks, yet I am a journalist. AND I LOVE MY CAREER. I love learning new things. I love listening to people’s stories. Those are the things I get to experience in my career. I would not have known that I could love this job had I not taken a chance to enrol to study journalism.

I hope this was helpful. Thank you for reading!